Chapter 30

The sinister glance - Excellent correspondent - Quite original - My system - A losing trade - Merit - Starting a Review - What have you got? - Stop! - DAIRYMAN’S DAUGHTER - Oxford principles - More conversation - How is this?

THERE were two individuals in the room in which I now found myself; it was a small study, surrounded with bookcases, the window looking out upon the square. Of these individuals he who appeared to be the principal stood with his back to the fireplace. He was a tall stout man, about sixty, dressed in a loose morning gown. The expression of his countenance would have been bluff but for a certain sinister glance, and his complexion might have been called rubicund but for a considerable tinge of bilious yellow. He eyed me askance as I entered. The other, a pale, shrivelled-looking person, sat at a table apparently engaged with an account-book; he took no manner of notice of me, never once lifting his eyes from the page before him.

‘Well, sir, what is your pleasure?’ said the big man, in a rough tone, as I stood there, looking at him wistfully - as well I might - for upon that man, at the time of which I am speaking, my principal, I may say my only, hopes rested.

‘Sir,’ said I, ‘my name is so-and-so, and I am the bearer of a letter to you from Mr. so-and-so, an old friend and correspondent of yours.’

The countenance of the big man instantly lost the suspicious and lowering expression which it had hitherto exhibited; he strode forward, and, seizing me by the hand, gave me a violent squeeze.

‘My dear sir,’ said he, ‘I am rejoiced to see you in London. I have been long anxious for the pleasure - we are old friends, though we have never before met. Taggart,’ said he to the man who sat at the desk, ‘this is our excellent correspondent, the friend and pupil of our other excellent correspondent.’

The pale, shrivelled-looking man slowly and deliberately raised his head from the account-book, and surveyed me for a moment or two; not the slightest emotion was observable in his countenance. It appeared to me, however, that I could detect a droll twinkle in his eye: his curiosity, if he had any, was soon gratified; he made me a kind of bow, pulled out a snuff-box, took a pinch of snuff, and again bent his head over the page.

‘And now, my dear sir,’ said the big man, ‘pray sit down, and tell me the cause of your visit. I hope you intend to remain here a day or two.’

‘More than that,’ said I, ‘I am come to take up my abode in London.’

‘Glad to hear it; and what have you been about of late? got anything which will suit me? Sir, I admire your style of writing, and your manner of thinking; and I am much obliged to my good friend and correspondent for sending me some of your productions. I inserted them all, and wished there had been more of them - quite original, sir, quite: took with the public, especially the essay about the non-existence of anything. I don’t exactly agree with you though; I have my own peculiar ideas about matter - as you know, of course, from the book I have published. Nevertheless, a very pretty piece of speculative philosophy - no such thing as matter - impossible that there should be - ex nihilo - what is the Greek? I have forgot - very pretty indeed; very original.’

‘I am afraid, sir, it was very wrong to write such trash, and yet more to allow it to be published.’

‘Trash! not at all; a very pretty piece of speculative philosophy; of course you were wrong in saying there is no world. The world must exist, to have the shape of a pear; and that the world is shaped like a pear, and not like an apple, as the fools of Oxford say, I have satisfactorily proved in my book. Now, if there were no world, what would become of my system? But what do you propose to do in London?’

  By PanEris using Melati.

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