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of as refractory limbs as the body in the fable, of which my old friend Menenius Agrippa made so exemplary an
The case is exactly parallel, and I only hope the application may have as good an effect as it is said (credat Judæus Apella) to have had then.
In short, my legs, occasionally, will not walk; my hand throws down the pen in disgust; and even my head, though I hope it never deserts me, frequently complains of being muddled, or addled, or something to that effect. My eyes cannot endure the sight of a proof-sheet; and my ears are grievously startled when the footstep of my right trusty and well-beloved publisher is heard approaching my room-door. Now, all will be aware that besides the general utility of having more than one string to one's bow, it will, in my circumstances, be peculiarly convenient to have a corps de reserve of contributors; as, by following the maxim
“ Divide et imperaI shall probably be able to play one set of them against another, and thus keep all in good condition and due subordination.
Inability! Bartholomew rejects the idea with scorn: he will remain game : he will fight till his last drop of blood, and write till his last bottle of ink, be expended. Though Mr. Rice should abscond, thereby removing from me no inconsiderable portion of my physical powers, and should wrap his head in impenetrable clouds though Mr. Heaviside should march off with one of my legs—though Mr. Jermyn, partaking abundantly of the irritability of his species, should claim to himself the other-still, though cruelly mutilated and miserably mangled, I will follow the glorious example of the hero of Chevy Chase
“For when his legs were smitten off
He fought upon his stumps." When, indeed, my pen (made of the best patent metal, warranted to last for six months) is worn down to the stump, and my sword survives only in its handle; when I, being now stout, portly, and healthful, am worn to a skeleton, or battered into a mummy, then, indeed, I will quit the scene of contest.
But this is a state to which I hope I shall never be reduced : when the general voice cries, “Mr. Bartholomew, we have had enough of you,” I shall, as in duty bound, put an end to my existence, even though thereby I may run some risk of a verdict of felo de se, with some such epitaph as this over me
Here lieth Bartle Bouverie :
Then took his pen, and stabb’d himself. My readers will perhaps say, that the fate of any one will be miserable indeed who is doomed to have such an execrable inscription graven on his tomb-stone-nor can I deny it—but, as it is to the public that I owe my existence, it would be by no means fair in me to endeavour to protract it, when they had shown a wish for solution. Till then, I shall strain every nerve to afford satisfaction to my readers : and as long as my aforesaid worthy publisher's shop is crowded with customers on my mornings of publication, so long shall I endeavour to work all my limbs in unison for the production of something which may not entirely disgrace the name of my foster-mother.
And when the time shall come, as come it must, I also must do my best to meet it with fortitude and resignation; I also must strive to depart with decency and gravity. Whether
flit around the scenes where I myself have lived so long, and enjoyed so many pleasures, I know not; I cannot expect that
“ The Majesty of Darkness shall
Receive my parting ghost :" but, while I disclaim all indifference, and feel with fervour every tribute of approbation paid to me, there are some of gentle mould and merciful disposition who will, I hope, look back at least without displeasure on the era and the works of
SENSE versus NONSENSE.
My dear Reader, which do you prefer? May I hope, for my own sake, that you will not give the palm to the first ? A dull, dry monitor, that does nothing but curb your gaiety, and compel you to creep circumspectly along, where you might have blundered laughingly and happily through life. Fair reader, if you be fair, or female (which terms, of course, are synonymous), have you ever had, on the same ball-night, a sensible and a nonsensical partner? You must have had both, or, if you have not, you, at any rate, will suppose for a moment that you have, and politely agree with me in your recollections of their behaviour. Did not your sensible friend go through the
quadrille, like an automaton, as stiff and as unentertaining, only excepting that the clock-work would at least have had the advantage of going through the figures regularly ; whereas the other would, most probably, by some awkward maneuvre, put the whole party in disorder ? Indeed, in a ball-room, sensible and insensible seem to me to be pretty nearly approaching to one another. How very different the votary of Nonsense ! Did he not canvass the room, dancers, plays, operas, in short, all the topics of the day, in such a way as to make you laugh, if not with him, certainly at him?
The superiority of Nonsense, however, does not by any means stop here ; the amusing style of Nonsense is not the only one which can be turned to useful purposes. We have the bewildering and distracting Nonsense; we have the perplexing and impenetrable Nonsense; we have the astounding and awe-infusing Nonsense.
The Lover, or Fortune-hunter, will be a very fair instance of the distracting and bewildering. He knows how very little chance he would have of prevailing on the beauty of his affections to accompany him to Gretna with no other aid than sheer, downright, plain, common sense. . But Nonsense, sweet, charming, benevolent Nonsense comes in to his assistance, and strings together a set of unconnected words, never-dying, inextinguishable, heart-consuming flames; presiding deities; devoted and eternal constancy : jealousy, suicide, poison, the favoured rival's death, are interspersed here and there with great
The inamorata is half frightened, half forced into a kind of compliance; this is seized as an unqualified consent; raptures follow raptures, and nonsense,
nonsense : both are satisfied, one with the prospect of a husband, the other with the prospect of a fortune, and, in short, the pair are linked in a week. After marriage the husband does not think it necessary to keep up the unintelligible strain which formed the charm of his courtship. Sense intrudes and spoils all that Nonsense had done for them; the wife grows discontented and reproachful, the husband surly; the first, because she finds that her fortune, not her person, was the bait that tempted him; the second, because he finds that the possession of his wife's money hardly compensates for the torments of his wife's tongue : they both grow wiser, and, in proportion, more miserable; whereas, if they had remained as great fools (or at least if one party had) as when they married, they might, perhaps,. have lived perfectly contented with themselves and with their yoke-fellows.
The Counsellor will be a specimen of the perplexing and impenetrable Nonsense. “When I can't talk sense, said Curran, “ I talk metaphor.” What the “
What the “metaphor" means is pretty evident, and to what so great a lawyer confesses, we hope no other will give the lie. How inadequate would Sense be to the task of subjecting a witness to the ordeal of technicality ; of confounding one question with another answer; of contradicting the witness and puzzling the judge. The least mistake, of course, in the hands of an able practitioner, instantly becomes an inexcusable prevarication, the prevarication is improved into a perjury in a very short time, and the witness's testimony is discarded. If the counsellor give Sense the preference over Nonsense, O! ye phantoms of