involved, and indeed spoke of it rather disrespectfully than otherwise, I am inclined to think that it possesses
all the elements of greatness. The concluding couplet was added at the suggestion of a friend, who
assured me it was necessary to complete the sense, and in this point I deferred to his maturer judgment:
`When Desolation snatched her tearful prey
Alfred Tennyson is Poet Laureate, and it is not for me to dispute his claim to that eminent position; still I cannot help thinking, that if the Government had only come forward candidly at the time, and thrown the thing open to general competition, proposing some subject to test the powers of the candidate (say `Frampton's Pill of Health, an Acrostic'), a very different result might have been arrived at.
But let us return to our muttons (as our noble allies do most unromantically express themselves), and to the mechanic of Great Wattles-street. He was coming out of a small shop--rudely built it was, dilapidated exceedingly, and in its general appearance seedy--what did I see in all this to inspire a belief that a great epoch in my existence arrived? Reader, I saw the signboard!
Yes. Upon that rusty signboard, creaking awkwardly on its one hinge against the mouldering wall, was an inscription which thrilled me from head to foot with unwonted excitement. `Simon Lubkin. Dealer in Romancement.' Those were the very words.
It was Friday, the fourth of June, half-past four p.m.
Three times I read that inscription through, and then took out my pocket book, and copied it on the spot; the mechanic regarding me during the whole proceeding with a stare of serious and (as I thought at the time) respectful astonishment.
I stopped that mechanic, and entered into conversation with him; years of agony since then have gradually branded that scene upon my writhing heart, and I can repeat all that passed, word for word.
Did the mechanic (this was my first question) possess a kindred soul, or did he not?
Mechanic didn't know as he did.
Was he aware (this with thrilling emphasis) of the meaning of that glorious inscription upon his signboard?
Bless you, mechanic knew all about that `ere.
Would mechanic (overlooking the suddenness of the invitation) object to adjourn to the neighbouring public-house, and there discuss the point more at leisure?
Mechanic would not object to a drain. On the contrary.
(Adjournment accordingly: brandy-and-water for two: conversation resumed.)
Did the article sell well, especially with the `mobile vulgus'?
Mechanic cast a look of good-natured pity on the questioner; the article sold well, he said, and the vulgars bought it most.
Why not add `Novelty' to the inscription? (This was a critical moment: I trembled as I asked the question.)
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