‘But,’ said I, ‘Nature intended that they should be destroyed, and the brutes themselves prey upon one another, and it is well for themselves and the world that they do so. What would be the state of things if every insect, bird, and worm were left to perish of old age?’

‘We will change the subject,’ said the publisher; ‘I have never been a friend of unprofitable discussions.’

I looked at the publisher with some surprise, I had not been accustomed to be spoken to so magisterially; his countenance was dressed in a portentous frown, and his eye looked more sinister than ever; at that moment he put me in mind of some of those despots of whom I had read in the history of Morocco, whose word was law. He merely wants power, thought I to myself, to be a regular Muley Mehemet; and then I sighed, for I remembered how very much I was in the power of that man.

The dinner over, the publisher nodded to his wife, who departed, followed by her daughter-in-law. The son looked as if he would willingly have attended them; he, however, remained seated; and, a small decanter of wine being placed on the table, the publisher filled two glasses, one of which he handed to myself, and the other to his son; saying, ‘Suppose you two drink to the success of the Review. I would join you,’ said he, addressing himself to me, ‘but I drink no wine; if I am a Brahmin with respect to meat, I am a Mahometan with respect to wine.’

So the son and I drank success to the Review, and then the young man asked me various questions; for example - How I liked London? - Whether I did not think it a very fine place? - Whether I was at the play the night before? - and whether I was in the park that afternoon? He seemed preparing to ask me some more questions; but, receiving a furious look from his father, he became silent, filled himself a glass of wine, drank it off, looked at the table for about a minute, then got up, pushed back his chair, made me a bow, and left the room.

‘Is that young gentleman, sir,’ said I, ‘well versed in the principles of criticism?’

‘He is not, sir,’ said the publisher; ‘and, if I place him at the head of the Review ostensibly, I do it merely in the hope of procuring him a maintenance; of the principle of a thing he knows nothing, except that the principle of bread is wheat, and that the principle of that wine is grape. Will you take another glass?’

I looked at the decanter; but, not feeling altogether so sure as the publisher’s son with respect to the principle of what it contained, I declined taking any more.

‘No, sir,’ said the publisher, adjusting himself in his chair, ‘he knows nothing about criticism, and will have nothing more to do with the reviewals than carrying about the books to those who have to review them; the real conductor of the Review will be a widely different person, to whom I will, when convenient, introduce you. And now we will talk of the matter which we touched upon before dinner: I told you then that I had changed my mind with respect to you; I have been considering the state of the market, sir, the book market, and I have come to the conclusion that, though you might be profitably employed upon evangelical novels, you could earn more money for me, sir, and consequently for yourself, by a compilation of Newgate lives and trials.’

‘Newgate lives and trials!’

‘Yes, sir,’ said the publisher, ‘Newgate lives and trials; and now, sir, I will briefly state to you the services which I expect you to perform, and the terms which I am willing to grant. I expect you, sir, to compile six volumes of Newgate lives and trials, each volume to contain by no manner of means less than one thousand pages; the remuneration which you will receive when the work is completed will be fifty pounds, which is likewise intended to cover any expenses you may incur in procuring books, papers, and manuscripts necessary for the compilation. Such will be one of your employments, sir, - such the terms. In the second place, you will be expected to make yourself useful in the Review - generally useful, sir - doing whatever is required of you; for it is not customary, at least with me, to permit writers, especially young writers, to choose their subjects. In these two departments, sir, namely compilation and reviewing, I had yesterday,

  By PanEris using Melati.

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