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To D. A. A., Esq., Edinburgh.
I Am much flattered by your request, and quite willing to accede to it; but, unluckily, you have omitted to inform me of the sort of thing you want.
Autographs are of many kinds. Some persons chalk them on walls: others inscribe what may be called auto-lithographs, in sundry colors, on the flag stones. Gentlemen in love delight in carving their autographs on the bark of trees; as other idle fel. lows are apt to hack and hew them on tavern-benches and rustic seats. Amongst various modes, I have seen a shop-boy dribble his autograph from a tin of water on a dry pavement.
The autographs of the Charity Boys are written on large sheets of paper, illuminated with engravings, and are technically called “pieces.” The celebrated Miss Biffin used to distribute autographs amongst her visitors, which she wrote with a pen grasped between her teeth. Another, a German Phenomenon, held the implement with his toes.
The Man in the Iron Mask scratched an autograph with his fork on a silver plate, and threw it out of the window. Baron Trenck smudged one with a charred stick: and Silvio Pellico, with his fore-finger dipped in a mixture of soot-and-water.
Lord Chesterfield wrote autographs on windows with a dia. mond pencil. So did Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth.
Draco, when Themis requested a few sentences for her album, dipped his stylus in human blood. Faust used the same fluid in the autograph he bartered with Mephistophiles.
The Hebrews write their Shpargotua backwards; and some of the Orientals used to clothe them in hieroglyphics. An ancient Egyptian, if asked for his autograph, would probably have sent to the collector a picture of what Mrs. Malaprop calls “ An Allegory on the Banks of the Nile.”
Aster, the Archer, volunteered an autograph and sent it bang into Phillip's right eye.
Some individuals are so chary of their hand-writing as to bestow, when requested, only a mark or cross :—others more liberally adorn a specimen of their penmanship with such extraneous flourishes as a corkscrew, a serpent, or a circumbendi. bus, not to mention such caligraphic fancies as eagles, ships, and swans.
Then again, there are what may be called Mosaic Autographs -i. e. inlaid with cockle-shells, blue and white pebbles, and the like, in a little gravel walk. Our grandmothers worked their autographs in canvass samplers; and I have seen one wrought out with pins' heads on a huge white pincushion-as thus:
WELCOME SWEET BABBY.
When the sweetheart of Mr. John Junk requested his autograph, and explained what it was, namely, “a couple of lines or so, with his name to it,” he replied, that he would leave it to her in his Will, seeing as how it was “done with gunpowder on his left arm.”
There have even been autographs written by proxy. For example, Dr. Dodd penned one for Lord Chesterfield; but to oblige a stranger in this way is very dangerous, considering how easily a few lines may be twisted into a rope.
According to Lord Byron, the Greek girls compound autographs as apothecaries make up prescriptions,—with such materials as flowers, herbs, ashes, pebbles, and hits of coal. Lord Byron himself, if asked for a specimen of his hand, would probably have sent a plaster cast of it.
King George the Fourth and the Duke of York, when their autographs were requested for a Keepsake,-royally favored the applicant with some of their old Latin-English exercises.
With regard to my own particular practice, I have often traced an autograph with my walking-stick on the sea-sand. I also seem to remember writing one with my fore-finger on a dusty table, and am pretty sure I could do it with the smoke of a candle on the ceiling. I have seen something like a very badly scribbled autograph made by children with a thread of treacle on a slice of suet dumpling. Then it may be done with vege. tables. My little girl grew her autograph the other day in mustard and cress.
Domestic servants, I have observed, are fond of scrawling autographs on a teaboard with the slopped milk. Also of scratching them on a soft deal dresser, the lead of the sink, and, above all, the quicksilver side of a looking-glass-a surface, by the bye, quite irresistible to any one who can write, and does not bite his nails..
A friend of mine possesses an autograph"REMEMBER JIM Hoskins ”–done with a red-hot poker on the back-kitchen door. This, however, is awkward to bind up.
Another—but a young lady-possesses a book of autographs, filled just like a tailor's pattern-book-with samples of stuff and fustian.
The foregoing, sir, are but a few of the varieties; and the questions that have occurred to me in consequence of your only naming the genus, and not the species, have been innumerable. Would the gentleman like it short or long? for Doppeldickius, the learned Dutchman, wrote an autograph for a friend, which the latter published in a quarto volume. Would he prefer it in red ink, or black,-or suppose he had it in Sympathetic, so that he could draw me out when he pleased ? Would he choose it on white paper, or tinted, or embossed, or on common brown paper, like Maroncelli's ?
Would he like it without my name to it—as somebody favored me lately with his autograph in an anonymous letter ?
Would he rather it were like Guy Faux's to Lord Mounteagle (not Spring Rice), in a feigned hand? Would he relish it in the aristocratical style, i. e., partially or totally illegible? Would he like it-in case he shouldn't like it-on a slate ?
With such a maze to wander in, if I should not take the exact
course you wish, you must blame the short and insufficient clue you have afforded me. In the mean time, as you have not forwarded to me a tree or a table,-a paving-stone or a brick wall, -a looking-glass or a window,-a teaboard or a silver plate,a bill-stamp or a back-kitchen door,-I presume, to conclude, that you want only a common pen-ink-and-paper autograph; and in the absence of any particular direction for its transmission,for instance, by a carrier-pigeon--or in a fire-balloon-or set adrift in a bottle-or per wagon-or favored by Mr. Waghornor by telegraph, I think the best way will be to send it to you in print.
I am, Sir,
Gape, sinner, and swallow.”-Meg Merrilies.
It is now just a year since we reviewed Miss Martineau's “ Life in the Sick Room," and left the authoress set in for a house-ridden invalid, alternating between her bed and the sofa; unable to walk out of doors, but enjoying through her window and a tele. prospect
downs and heath, an old priory, a lime-kiln, a colliery railway, an ancient church, a windmill, a farm, with hay and corn stacks, a market-garden, gossipping farmers, sportsmen, boys flying kites, washerwomen, a dairymaid feeding pigs, the lighthouses, harbor, and shipping of Newcastle-on-Tyne, and a large assortment of objects, pastoral, marine, and picturesque. There we left the “sick prisoner, as we supposed, quite aware of a condition beyond remedy, and cheerfully made up for her fate by the help of philosophy, laudanum, and Christian resignation.
There never was a greater mistake. Instead of the presumed calm submission in a hopeless case, the invalid was intently watching the progress of a new curative legerdemain, sympathizing with its repudiated professors, and secretly intending to try whether her own chronic complaint could not be conjured away with Hey, presto! pass and repass!" like a pea from under the thimble. The experiment, it seems, has been made, and lo! like one of the patients of the old quacksalvers, forth comes Miss Martineau on the public stage, proclaiming to the gaping crowd how her long-standing, inveterate complaint, that baffled all the doctors, has been charmed away like a wart, and that, from being a helpless cripple, she has thrown away her crutches, literal or