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the total alteration of pursuits and prospects, and what I considered my immolation in a counting-house.

My mother listened attentively to what I said, and appeared rather struck by my reasoning, although she did not see that Cuthbert could have said more, being, as he was, ignorant of what course I had shaped for myself in England.

“ I am sure,” said Miss Crab, “ it is as plain as the nose on my face." I looked at her, and thought, whatever it is, nothing can be plainer.

that Cuthbert wishes Gilbert to go to him ; that there are bright prospects, the realization of which depends only upon his preparatory attention and assiduity here. If I were you, my dear Mrs. Gurney, I would not hesitate a moment."

I could have strangled her.

“ There," continued she, “ is that highly respectable Indian house, Curry, Raikes, Yellowly, Lefevre, and Company."

Mercy on us, Miss Crab,” said I,“ have you made that firm, with all their orientally-bilious names, to terrify me?”

“Not a bit, Mr. Gurney," said Miss Crab. “I know them intimately well; and, if your mother chooses, I will write to Mr. Yellowly, who is my particular friend, such a letter as will ensure you

<--the highest stool in the darkest corner of their counting-house,' interrupted I, forgetting at once my notions of temporizing.

« Oh! Sir," said Miss Crab, “if I am to be subjected to such farcical remarks as these, and you are determined to throw cold water upon this scheme, I have done." “I think, Miss Crab,” said my mother, “ Gilbert's idea is not a bad

He is yet young. A few months' postponement can do no harm.” “ There I differ with you entirely, Mrs. Gurney,” said Miss Crab. “ At his time of life, and in the society and habits into which he has fallen, six or eight months will make all the difference in the world."

“ I fancy,” said my mother, “ that I know Gilbert pretty well; and I believe that, although idle, and gay, and thoughtless, he will never suffer himself to be led into conduct or circumstances likely to affect me or dishonour himself. If we were immediately to avail ourselves of your kind offer of writing to the gentleman you have named, and he were admitted to a participation in the duties of his office, and, after a severe probation of eight or ten months, Cuthbert's offer should turn out of less importance than we at first imagined it, we should have lost so much time.”

“ Not a bit of it,” said Miss Crab; “ wouldn't Gilbert be much better employed posting ledgers and copying letters all the day, than lounging in the streets and writing farces ? There is no disgrace in a mercantile life; and supposing he never went to India at all, what would he be the worse for knowing what he would learn in the City ?”

I could scarcely listen complacently to the odious interruptions and interference of my mother's most excellent and disagreeable friend. I could not endure the woman for talking so sensibly; yet I saw that, with a parent's partiality, my mother leant very much to my views; and I found, not without reason, that her readiness to acquiesce with me in the proposal of giving time for consideration arose from a latent unwillingness to lose my society altogether, and doom me to a transporta


tion for life, for such, a residence in India seems to those who have never quitted their “ fatherland," and who believe, with great reason where England is concerned, that “ there's no place like home."

It was somewhat past ten o'clock at night when I mounted my horse at my mother's gate to return to London, and I must confess that I felt as if I had achieved a great deal in the course of my visit, in spite of fate and Miss Crab. I had, in fact, left my affairs, as far as regarded India, Cuthbert, and the partnership, much as I had begun upon them, with this signal advantage in my favour, that they had been under discussion and nothing had been decided upon, so that I felt myself quite at liberty to go with a snaffle until my excellent mother thought proper to apply the curb.

There was one point upon which the old gentlewoman was particularly susceptible and tenacious, but upon which, as it happened, I had not yet seen reason to give her any uneasiness. She had-next to the playhouses and the actresses—a most sensitive and matronly horror of the designing wiles of the young woman creatures who enliven and illuminate the world; and proportionably fearful that I should fall a prey to some young adventuress, which, considering what I possessed in the way of prize-money, was really not ground for serious alarm; for it was clear that nobody who had anything would think of making a good speculation by catching a lad who had nothing. She never went the length of cautioning me against the artillery of bright eyes, or the music of soft words, because, being a woman, although my mother, she perhaps was aware that the very surest method of setting a young heart on, is by warning it off. " I'm driving the pig to. Cork," says Paddy," but don't you let him hear that-he thinks he is going to Bandon.” Prohibit, prevent, and warn, and see the consequences.

What happened to the ostler and the priest ?-I believe it is an old story, but never mind—it is in point. An ostler of the Popish persuasion annually paid two shillings and threepence halfpenny to his priest to confess and whitewash him at Easter. Down on his knees did he lay open his heart to the Padré, and tell everything he had done amiss during the preceding year. “ Father,” says Paddy, “ I water the whisky, I take half a quartern out of every peck of oats, and I charge fourpence for horsekeeping and give my master but threepence.”—“Tell me," says the Padré,“ do you never grease the horses' teeth to prevent their eating the beans ?”—“ Never, your reverence, never!" cries Paddy, with tears in his eyes." Good boy, get up wid ye then,” says the Padré;

tip us the thirteeners, and you are clean as a whistle for the next twelve months."

Those twelve months over, back comes the priest. The same mummery goes on; the same kneeling down and confessing to the absolving Padré,

-whose infallible power of absolution is best tested by the fact that the infallible head of the Church himself, who can excommunicate and absolve every Roman Catholic in the world, confesses to his own particular chaplain,--and then we have the ostler at it again; the same questions are repeated, the same admissions made—till at last Dominie reiterates his inquiry, “ Have you not greased the horses' teeth to prevent their eating the beans ?

Different from that of the preceding year was the answer to this—“ Yes, your reverence, I have. "How !” exclaims Doctor O’Doddipole; "what! an accession of crime as you draw nearer


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the grave! How comes this? Last year, you told me you had never done such a thing; how happens it that this year you have?”—“ Plæse your reverence,” says the ostler, “ I'd never have had sich a thought in my head if your reverence hadn't been kind enough to put it there."

Upon this principle, I suppose, my excellent mother never directly cautioned me about the sparkling eyes, the downy cheeks, the pouting lips, and all the rest of the charms so likely to catch such a person as I then was, lest “ her reverence should put strange thoughts into my head.” However, thoughts had been there, without her putting; and I verily believe if my new and absorbing passion for Thespian pursuits had not luckily intervened, I should have engaged myself to one of the very prettiest girls in the world, who shall be nameless, and whom, many years afterwards, I met in France-a widow, with two thread-paper daughters, unluckily for themselves, extremely like their late respectable father. In the sequel, however, it will be seen that if I were only singed in my coup d'essai, I got considerably more damaged in my subsequent

The one great point of delay having been gained, I felt myself more at ease than I had been for the previous week or fortnight. A sanguine mind always sees daylight through the darkness--and upon the principle and in the hope which all through life have sustained me, I fancied that

something would turn up" before the possible return of letters from Cuthbert, which might favourably decide the question now in abeyance.

On my return home I found, much to my delight, that my farce had been read-ay, and approved—for a note which I discovered lying upon my table, from my Mecænas, informed me that he would call on me the next day at five o'clock, if I happened to be disengaged, and take me over to Melina-place and introduce me to Mr. Colman, who wished us to dine with him. This, it may be easily imagined, was to me as decided command” as if it had come from George, King of England, instead of George, King of the Dramatists; and I did not allow a moment to elapse before I answered my friend in the affirmative.

I scarcely recollect how the intervening hours were passed; my friend and ci-devant fellow-pupil (who continued to make believe in Lincoln's-inn) was of course apprized of my premier pas, and I received his warm congratulations upon my initiatory success. The mere routine of eating, drinking, and sleeping, had in it nothing of interest, except as the performance of those ordinary functions served as points by which to reckon time, until the hour for my introduction to the proprietor was to take place.

That hour at length arrived : punctual to the minute, my friend knocked at my door, and we proceeded together to Melina-place. I there found mine host everything that was agreeable. I met four or five persons of either sex, all delightful in their way. Mr. Colman suggested one or two alterations, which it would be needless to say were improvements, in my drama; and having despatched what I fancied our important business, we sat down to dinner, somewhere about six. How delightful the party was, may perhaps best be imagined from the fact, that we did not separate for the evening until five in the morning, when I returned home enchanted with the amusements of the day and night.

Everything was now en train. The following Friday-a day from which, for the commencement of any undertaking, I have a great and

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unconquerable aversion-was fixed for the reading of my farce, and my eyes were gladdened the very next morning, by seeing in the playbills an announcement, technically (as I afterwards discovered) called “ underlined,” that a new farce was in rehearsal and would speedily be produced.

The Friday came; and for the first time in my life I found myself in the green-room of a theatre—it was literally a green room, into which light was admitted by a thing like a cucumber-frame at one end of it. It was matted, and round the walls ran a bench covered with faded green stuff, whereupon the dramatis persone deposited themselves until called to go on the stage; a looking-glass under the skylight, and a large bottle of water and a tumbler on the chimney-piece, completed the furniture of this classic apartment.

Upon the special occasion of reading my farce, a table, with pens, ink, and paper, was introduced, and deposited in one corner of the room under the cucumber-frame, and at which the reader was to preside. The actors and actresses began to assemble. I was introduced to such of them as were concerned in the performance of my hopeful work; and having declined to undertake the reading myself, the manager proceeded to execute that task.

A dead silence prevailed as he delivered, in a hurried, monotonous tone, all the pointed and witty dialogues of the first scene, upon which I had spent so much time, and to which I had devoted so much attention. Not a smile did I see; Liston, from whom I had expected all the compliments of excessive laughter at the jokes introduced into his part, sat still and mute, the very picture of gravity, until the reader came to a bit which I had intended to be marvellously comic, when he made a face of so grotesque a character of extreme disapprobation, that Mrs. Gibbs burst into a loud fit of merriment, which was only moderated by a sort of admonitory look from Mathews,—who had the best part in the piece,-to spare the feelings of the young author.

For nearly an hour and a quarter did I endure this purgatorial process ; and I must admit, that, during that period, my feelings of self-complacency had undergone a very important change. Just as I anticipated a positive cheer, at a dénouement which I was quite sure must be unexpected, I looked round, and saw Mrs. Davenport, the main-stay of my plot, fast asleep, with her head in a corner; and the aforesaid Liston, another of my props, tickling her nose with the end of her parasol. It then occurred to me, that it would have been better that I should not have been present, inasmuch as in my absence, those ladies and gentlemen, who, regardless of my agonies and sensitiveness, thus practically exhibited their perfect indifference to my “work,” might have expressed their opinions in cabinet, and while they disapproved some portion of the performance, might have suggested improvements in others. When the reading was over, nobody said capital, or even good, or even tolerable. One of the gentlemen asked “ When is this thing to be put in rehearsal ?" “ To-morrow," was the reply, “and it must be out to-morrow week.”

To-morrow week!” said one'; “how am I to study this infernal part, nine lengths and a half, by to-morrow week, besides all the stock business?"

“ I think," said Mrs. Davenport, “that I should be better out of the fárce than in it. Mrs. Kendall, or Mrs. Wall, would do just as well for all there is to do."

“Anybody would do as well as me," whispered Liston; and then Mrs. Gibbs made her joyous, handsome face look hideous in my eyes for the moment, by giving a sign of perfect acquiescence in Mr. Liston's opinion.

I felt that I could not endure their comments any longer, so sought safety in flight, and got out of the regions, into which at length, after many years' working, I had obtained admission, not; however, without attracting the notice of my good-natured Mecænas, who walked down the street with me, and gave me his opinion, that I must reconcile myself to lose one or two of the principal performers; adding, that it was always the wisest plan to let a discontented actor give up the part of which he complained; for your leaders of the profession, if they say they can make nothing of a character, generally back their opinions by their acting on the first night.

Here began those difficulties and annoyances by which the progress of a dramatic author is impeded : the operation of small jealousies which the uninitiated cannot comprehend ; the great vanities which the unenlightened are unable to appreciate; and the combinations for and against certain persons and purposes, the intricacies of which are hidden from the common eye, but the workings of which, more or less, affect every individual brought into contact with the dramatic department of English literature. The thing, however, was too far gone to retract, and I resolved to bear with fortitude evils which I then was foolish enough to think great, and submit myself to the guidance of those who, of course much better than I could be supposed to do, understood the nature of such proceedings.

The next morning was our first rehearsal. The cool atmosphere of the theatre in a hot summer's day, blended with the peculiar smell which all theatres have, was to me quite refreshing and invigorating; and when I found myself referred to by such of the performers as were present, for my views and opinions of how this should be said, and how that should be done, I felt tolerably reconciled to the absence of two or three of the “stars” by whom I had hoped to see my work adorned and illuminated.

The efforts of five days perfected the work of rehearsal. My Venice Preserved ” song--the idol of my heart—was omitted, because the gentleman who was Mr. Liston's substitute could not sing-a failing which I the less deplored, inasmuch as Mr. Liston, even if he had acted the part, had declined singing the song. My misfortunes, however, did not end here; for as it had been resolved to omit that song, and as the

young lady who was to enact my heroine sang no more than Mr. Liston's successor, it was considered not usual to have one song in a piece, not musical, and so out they cut my

" Flies in the Water." I own these two sacrifices cost me a pang, but it was decreed by better judges than myself, and away they went.

The time now drew near when my fate was to be decided, and no rational person can possibly believe how much I was agitated on the morning of performance. The sight of my title, flaring in huge red letters in the play-bills, was in the highest degree gratifying to my eye. I stopped and perused the affiche as if it had been a document of the highest public interest. I fancied I was known in the street as the

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