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expert in the banking-house), now scald my hands. When I go to sign my name, I set down that of another person, or write my own in a counterfeit character. I am beset with temptations without motive. I want no more wealth than I possess.
A more contented being than myself, as to money matters, exists not. What should I fear?
When a child, I was once let loose, by favour of a nobleman's gardener, into his lordship's magnificent fruit-garden, with full leave to pull the currants and the gooseberries; only I was interdicted from touching the wall-fruit. Indeed, at that season (it was the end of autumn), there was little left. Only on the south wall (can I forget the hot feel of the brick-work?) lingered the one last peach. Now, peaches are a fruit which I always had, and still have, an almost utter aversion to. There is something to my palate singularly harsh and repulsive in the flavour of them. I know not by what demon of contradiction inspired, but I was haunted with an irresistible desire to pluck it. Tear myself as often as I would from the spot, I found myself still recurring to it; till, maddening with desire (desire I cannot call it), with wilfulness rather, ---without appetite,-against appetite, I may call it,-in an evil hour I reached out my hand, and plucked it. Some few raindrops just then fell; the sky (from a bright day) became overcast ; and I was a type of our first parents, after the eating of that fatal fruit. I felt myself naked and ashamed, stripped of my virtue, spiritless.
The downy fruit, whose sight rather than savour had tempted me, dropped from my hand never to be tasted. All the commentators in the world cannot persuade me but that the Hebrew word, in the second chapter of Genesis, translated “apple,"
should be rendered “peach.” Only this way can I reconcile that mysterious story.
Just such a child at thirty am I among the cash and valuables, longing to pluck, without an idea of enjoyment further. I cannot reason myself out of these fears : I dare not laugh at them. I was tenderly and lovingly brought up. What then? Who that in life's entrance had seen the babe F- , from the lap stretching out his little fond mouth to catch the maternal kiss, could have predicted, or as much as imagined, that life's very different exit ? The sight of my own fingers torments me; they seem so admirably constructed for — pilfering. Then that jugular vein which I have in common - ; in an emphatic sense may I say with David, I am “fearfully made.” All my mirth is poisoned by these unhappy suggestions. If, to dissipate reflection, I hum a tune, it changes to the “Lamentations of a Sinner." My very dreams are tainted. I awake with a shocking feeling of my hand in some pocket.
Advise me, dear Editor, on this painful heartmalady. Tell me, do you feel anything allied to it in yourself? Do you never feel an itching, as it were,-a dactylomania,-or am I alone? You have my honest confession. My next may appear from Bow Street.
About the year 18–, one R- d, a respectable London merchant (since dead), stood in the pillory for some alleged fraud upon the revenue. Among his papers were found the following “Reflections," which we have obtained by favour of our friend Elia, who knew him well, and had heard him describe the train of his feelings, upon that trying occasion, almost in the words of the manuscript. Elia speaks of him as a man (with the exception of the peccadillo aforesaid) of singular integrity in all his private dealings, possessing great suavity of manner, with a certain turn for humour. As our object is to present human nature under every possible circumstance, we do not think that we shall sully our pages by inserting it.-Editor.
SCENE,- Opposite the Royal Exchange.
TIME,—Twelve to One, Noon.
179/ETCH, my good fellow, you have a neat
hand. Prithee adjust this new collar to JS my neck gingerly. I am not used to
Jag these wooden cravats. There, softly, softly. That seems the exact point between ornament and strangulation. A thought looser on this side. Now it will do. And have a care, in turning me, that I present my aspect due vertically. I now face the orient. In a quarter of an hour I shift
southward,--do you mind ?-and so on till I face the east again, travelling with the sun. No halfpoints, I beseech you,- N. N. by W., or any such elaborate niceties. They become the shipman's card, but not this mystery. Now leave me a little to my own reflections.
Bless us, what a company is assembled in honour of me! How grand I stand here! I never felt so sensibly before the effect of solitude in a crowd. I muse in solemn silence upon that vast miscellaneous rabble in the pit there. From my private box I contemplate, with mingled pity and wonder, the gaping curiosity of those underlings. There are my Whitechapel supporters. Rosemary Lane has emptied herself of the very flower of her citizens to grace my show. Duke's Place sits desolate. What is there in my face, that strangers should come so far from the east to gaze upon it? [Here an egg narrowly misses him.] That offering was well meant, but not so cleanly executed. By the tricklings, it should not be either myrrh or frankincense. Spare your presents, my friends : I am noways mercenary. I desire no missive tokens of your approbation. I am past those valentines. Bestow these coffins of untimely chickens upon mouths that water for them. Comfort your addle spouses with them at home, and stop the mouths of your brawling brats with such Olla Podridas : they have need of them. [A brick is let fly.] Discase not, I pray you, nor dismantle your rent and ragged tenements, to furnish me with architectural decorations, which I can excuse. This fragment might have stopped a flaw against snow comes. [A coal flies.] Cinders are dear, gentlemen. This nubbling might have helped the pot boil, when your dirty cuttings from the shambles at three-ha'pence a pound shall stand at a cold simmer. Now, south about, Ketch. I would enjoy Australian popularity.
What, my friends from over the water ! Old benchers-flies of a day-ephemeral Romanswelcome! Doth the sight of me draw souls from limbo? Can it dispeople purgatory ?-Ha!
What am I, or what was my father's house, that I should thus be set up a spectacle to gentlemen and others ? Why are all faces, like Persians at the sunrise, bent singly on mine alone? It was wont to be esteemed an ordinary visnomy, a quotidian merely. Doubtless these assembled myriads discern some traits of nobleness, gentility, breeding, which hitherto have escaped the common observation,-. some intimations, as it were, of wisdom, valour, piety, and so forth. My sight dazzles ; and, if I am not deceived by the too familiar pressure of this strange neckcloth that envelops it, my countenance gives out lambent glories. For some painter now to take me in the lucky point of expression !-the posture so convenient !—the head never shifting, but standing quiescent in a sort of natural frame. But these artisans require a westerly aspect. Ketch, turn me.
Something of St. James's air in these my new friends. How my prospects shist and brighten ! Now, if Sir Thomas Lawrence be anywhere in that group, his fortune is made for ever. I think I see some one taking out a crayon. I will compose my whole face to a smile, which yet shall not so predominate but that gravity and gaiety shall contend, as it were, -you understand me? I will work up my thoughts to some mild rapture,-a gentle enthusiasm,—which the artist may transfer, in a manner, warm to the canvas. I will inwardly apostrophize my tabernacle.