Chapter 39

No authority whatever - Interference - Wondrous farrago - Brandt and Struensee - What a life! - The hearse - Mortal relics - Great poet - Fashion and fame - What a difference - Oh, beautiful - Good for nothing.

AND now once more to my pursuits, to my Lives and Trials. However partial at first I might be to these lives and trials, it was not long before they became regular trials to me, owing to the whims and caprices of the publisher. I had not been long connected with him before I discovered that he was wonderfully fond of interfering with other people’s business - at least with the business of those who were under his control. What a life did his unfortunate authors lead! He had many in his employ toiling at all kinds of subjects - I call them authors because there is something respectable in the term author, though they had little authorship in, and no authority whatever over, the works on which they were engaged. It is true the publisher interfered with some colour of reason, the plan of all and every of the works alluded to having originated with himself; and, be it observed, many of his plans were highly clever and promising, for, as I have already had occasion to say, the publisher in many points was a highly clever and sagacious person; but he ought to have been contented with planning the works originally, and have left to other people the task of executing them, instead of which he marred everything by his rage for interference. If a book of fairy tales was being compiled, he was sure to introduce some of his philosophy, explaining the fairy tale by some theory of his own. Was a book of anecdotes on hand, it was sure to be half filled with sayings and doings of himself during the time that he was common councilman of the City of London. Now, however fond the public might be of fairy tales, it by no means relished them in conjunction with the publisher’s philosophy; and however fond of anecdotes in general, or even of the publisher in particular - for indeed there were a great many anecdotes in circulation about him which the public both read and listened to very readily - it took no pleasure in such anecdotes as he was disposed to relate about himself. In the compilation of my Lives and Trials I was exposed to incredible mortification, and ceaseless trouble, from this same rage for interference. It is true he could not introduce his philosophy into the work, nor was it possible for him to introduce anecdotes of himself, having never had the good or evil fortune to be tried at the bar; but he was continually introducing - what, under a less apathetic government than the one then being, would have infallibly subjected him, and perhaps myself, to a trial, - his politics; not his Oxford or pseudo politics, but the politics which he really entertained, and which were of the most republican and violent kind. But this was not all; when about a moiety of the first volume had been printed, he materially altered the plan of the work; it was no longer to be a collection of mere Newgate lives and trials, but of lives and trials of criminals in general, foreign as well as domestic. In a little time the work became a wondrous farrago, in which Konigsmark the robber figured by the side of Sam Lynn, and the Marchioness de Brinvilliers was placed in contact with a Chinese outlaw. What gave me the most trouble and annoyance was the publisher’s remembering some life or trial, foreign or domestic, which he wished to be inserted, and which I was forthwith to go in quest of and purchase at my own expense: some of those lives and trials were by no means easy to find. ‘Where is Brandt and Struensee?’ cries the publisher; ‘I am sure I don’t know,’ I replied; whereupon the publisher falls to squealing like one of Joey’s rats. ‘Find me up Brandt and Struensee by next morning, or - ‘ ‘Have you found Brandt and Struensee?’ cried the publisher, on my appearing before him next morning. ‘No,’ I reply, ‘I can hear nothing about them’; whereupon the publisher falls to bellowing like Joey’s bull. By dint of incredible diligence, I at length discover the dingy volume containing the lives and trials of the celebrated two who had brooded treason dangerous to the state of Denmark. I purchase the dingy volume, and bring it in triumph to the publisher, the perspiration running down my brow. The publisher takes the dingy volume in his hand, he examines it attentively, then puts it down; his countenance is calm for a moment, almost benign. Another moment and there is a gleam in the publisher’s sinister eye; he snatches up the paper containing the names of the worthies which I have intended shall figure in the forthcoming volumes - he glances rapidly over it, and his countenance once more assumes a terrific expression. ‘How is this?’ he exclaims; ‘I can scarcely believe my eyes - the most important life and trial omitted to be found in the whole criminal record - what gross, what utter negligence! Where’s the life of Farmer Patch? where’s the trial of Yeoman Patch?’

‘What a life! what a dog’s life!’ I would frequently exclaim, after escaping from the presence of the publisher.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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