‘Here is the letter, sir,’ said I, ‘of our good friend, which I have not yet given to you; I believe it will explain to you the circumstances under which I come.’

He took the letter, and perused it with attention. ‘Hem!’ said he, with a somewhat altered manner, ‘my friend tells me that you are come up to London with the view of turning your literary talents to account, and desires me to assist you in my capacity of publisher in bringing forth two or three works which you have prepared. My good friend is perhaps not aware that for some time past I have given up publishing - was obliged to do so - had many severe losses - do nothing at present in that line, save sending out the Magazine once a month; and, between ourselves, am thinking of disposing of that - wish to retire - high time at my age - so you see - ‘

‘I am very sorry, sir, to hear that you cannot assist me’ (and I remember that I felt very nervous); ‘I had hoped - ‘

‘A losing trade, I assure you, sir; literature is a drug. Taggart, what o’clock is?’

‘Well, sir!’ said I, rising, ‘as you cannot assist me, I will now take my leave; I thank you sincerely for your kind reception, and will trouble you no longer.’

‘Oh, don’t go. I wish to have some further conversation with you; and perhaps I may hit upon some plan to benefit you. I honour merit, and always make a point to encourage it when I can; but - Taggart, go to the bank, and tell them to dishonour the bill twelve months after date for thirty pounds which becomes due to-morrow. I am dissatisfied with that fellow who wrote the fairy tales, and intend to give him all the trouble in my power. Make haste.’

Taggart did not appear to be in any particular haste. First of all, he took a pinch of snuff, then, rising from his chair, slowly and deliberately drew his wig, for he wore a wig of a brown colour, rather more over his forehead than it had previously been, buttoned his coat, and, taking his hat, and an umbrella which stood in a corner, made me a low bow, and quitted the room.

‘Well, sir, where were we? Oh, I remember, we were talking about merit. Sir, I always wish to encourage merit, especially when it comes so highly recommended as in the present instance. Sir, my good friend and correspondent speaks of you in the highest terms. Sir, I honour my good friend, and have the highest respect for his opinion in all matters connected with literature - rather eccentric though. Sir, my good friend has done my periodical more good and more harm than all the rest of my correspondents. Sir, I shall never forget the sensation caused by the appearance of his article about a certain personage whom he proved - and I think satisfactorily - to have been a legionary soldier - rather startling, was it not? The S- of the world a common soldier, in a marching regiment - original, but startling; sir, I honour my good friend.’

‘So you have renounced publishing, sir,’ said I, ‘with the exception of the Magazine?’

‘Why, yes; except now and then, under the rose; the old coachman, you know, likes to hear the whip. Indeed, at the present moment, I am thinking of starting a Review on an entirely new and original principle; and it just struck me that you might be of high utility in the undertaking - what do you think of the matter?’

‘I should be happy, sir, to render you any assistance, but I am afraid the employment you propose requires other qualifications than I possess; however, I can make the essay. My chief intention in coming to London was to lay before the world what I had prepared; and I had hoped by your assistance - ‘

‘Ah! I see, ambition! Ambition is a very pretty thing; but, sir, we must walk before we run, according to the old saying - what is that you have got under your arm?’

‘One of the works to which I was alluding; the one, indeed, which I am most anxious to lay before the world, as I hope to derive from it both profit and reputation.’

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.