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whom common qualities become uncommon? Can I forget thee, Henry Man, the wit, the polished man of letters, the author, of the South-Sea House? who never enteredst thy office in a morning, or quittedst it in mid-day-(what didst thou in an office?)-without some quirk that left a sting! Thy gibes and thy jokes are now extinct, or survive but in two forgotten volumes, which I had the good fortune to rescue from a stall in Barbican, not three days ago, and found thee terse, fresh, epigrammatic, as alive. Thy wit is a little gone by in these fastidious days-thy topics are staled by the " new-born gauds" of the time; but great thou usedst to be in Public Ledgers, and in Chronicles, upon Chatham, and Shelburne, and Rockingham, and Howe, and Burgoyne, and Clinton, and the war which ended in the tearing from Great Britain her rebellious colonies-and Keppel, and Wilkes, and Sawbridge, and Bull, and Dunning, and Pratt, and Richmond—and such small politics.
A little less facetious, and a great deal more obstreperous, was fine, rattling, rattle-headed Plumer. He was descended-not in a right line, reader (for his lineal pretensions, like his personal, favored a little of the sinister bend)-from the Plumers of Hertfordshire. So tradition gave him out; and certain family features not a little sanctioned the opinion. Certainly old Walter Plumer (his reputed author) had been a rake in his days, and visited much in Italy, and had seen the world. He was uncle, bachelor-uncle, to the fine old Whig still living, who has represented the county in so many successive Parliaments, and has a fine old mansion near Ware. Walter flourished in George the Second's days, and was the same who was summoned before the House of Commons about a business of franks, with the old Duchess
of Marlborough. You may read of it in Johnson's "Life of Cave." Cave came off cleverly in that business. It is certain our Plumer did nothing to discountenance the rumor. He rather seemed pleased whenever it was, with all gentleness insinuated. But, besides his family pretensions, Plumer was an engaging fellow, and sang gloriously.
Not so sweetly sang Plumer as thou sangest, mild, childlike, pastoral M- -; a flute's breathing less divinely whispering than thy Arcadian melodies, when, in tones worthy of Arden, thou didst chant that song sung by Amiens to the banished duke, which proclaims the winter wind more lenient than for a man to be ungrateful. Thy sire was old surly M→→→, the unapproachable churchwarden of Bishopsgate. He knew not what he did, when he begat thee, like spring, gentle offspring of blustering winter: only unfortunate in thy ending, which should have been mild, conciliatory, swan-like.
Much remains to sing. Many fantastic shapes rise up, but they must be mine in private-already I have fooled the reader to the top of his bent-else could I omit that strange creature Woollett, who existed in trying the question, and bought litigations?—and still stranger, inimitable, solemn Hepworth, from whose gravity Newton might have deduced the law of gravitation. How profoundly would he nib a pen-with what deliberation would he wet a wafer!
But it is time to close-night's wheels are rattling fast over me-it is proper to have done with this solemn mockery.
Reader, what if I have been playing with thee all this while?-peradventure the very names which I have sum
moned up before thee are fantastic-unsubstantial-like Henry Pimpernel, and old John Naps of Greece.—
Be satisfied that something answering to them has had a being. Their importance is from the past.
OXFORD IN THE VACATION.
CASTING a preparatory glance at the bottom of this article-as the wary connoisseur in prints, with cursory eye (which, while it reads, seems as though it read not), never fails to consult the quis sculpsit in the corner, before he pronounces some rare piece to be a Vivares, or a Woollet-methinks I hear you exclaim, reader, Who is
Because in my last I tried to divert thee with some half-forgotten humors of some old clerks defunct, in an old house of business, long since gone to decay, doubtless, you have already set me down in your mind as one of the self-same college-a votary of the desk-a notched and cropped scrivener-one that sucks his sustenance, as certain sick people are said to do, through a quill.
Well, I do agnize something of the sort. I confess that it is my humor, my fancy-in the fore-part of the day, when the mind of your man of letters requires some relaxation (and none better than such as at first sight seems most abhorrent from his beloved studies)-to while away some good hours of my time in the contemplation of indigos, cottons, raw silks, piece-goods, flowered or otherwise. In the first place. . . . and then it sends you home with such increased appetite to your books ... not to say, that your outside sheets, and waste
wrappers of foolscap, do receive into them, most kindly and naturally, the impression of sonnets, epigrams, essays—so that the very parings of a counting-house are, in some sort, the settings-up of an author. The enfranchised quill, that has plodded all the morning among the cart-rucks of figures and ciphers, frisks and curvets so at its ease over the flowery carpet-ground of a midnight dissertation. It feels its promotion. . .. So that you see, upon the whole, the literary dignity of Elia is very little, if at all, compromised in the condescension.
Not that, in my anxious detail of the many commodi. ties incidental to the life of a public office, I would be thought blind to certain flaws, which a cunning carper might be able to pick in this Joseph's vest. And here I must have leave, in the fullness of my soul, to regret the abolition, and doing-away-with altogether, of those consolatory interstices, and sprinklings of freedom, through the four seasons—the red-letter days, now become, to all intents and purposes, dead-letter days. There was Paul, and Stephen, and Barnabas
“Andrew and John, men famous in old times” -we were used to keep all their days holy, as long back as I was at school at Christ's. I remember their effigies, by the same token, in the old Basket Prayer-Book. There hung Peter in his uneasy posture-holy Bartlemy in the troublesome act of flaying, after the famous Marsyas by Spagnoletti. I honored them all, and could almost have wept the defalcation of Iscariot-so much did we love to keep holy memories sacred-only methought I a little grudged at the coalition of the better Jude with Simonclubbing (as it were) their sanctities together, to make
up one poor gaudy-day between them--as an economy unworthy of the dispensation.
These were bright visitations in a scholar's and a clerk's life" far off their coming shone." I was as good as an almanac in those days. I could have told you such a saint's-day falls out next week, or the week after. Peradventure the Epiphany, by some periodical infelicity, would, once in six years, merge in a Sabbath. Now am I little better than one of the profane. Let me not be thought to arraign the wisdom of my civil superiors, who have judged the further observation of these holy tides to be papistical, superstitious. Only in a custom of such long standing, methinks, if their Holinesses the Bishops had, in decency, been first sounded—but I am wading out of my depths. I am not the man to decide the limits of civil and ecclesiastical authority-I am plain Elia-no Selden, nor Archbishop Usher-though at present in the thick of their books, here in the heart of learning, under the shadow of the mighty Bodley.
I can here play the gentleman, enact the student. To such a one as myself, who has been defrauded in his young years of the sweet food of academic institution, nowhere is so pleasant, to while away a few idle weeks at, as one or other of the Universities. Their vacation, too, at this time of the year, falls in so pat with ours. Here I can take my walks unmolested, and fancy myself of what degree or standing I please. I seem admitted ad eundem. I fetch up past opportunities. I can rise at the chapel-bell, and dream that it rings for me. In moods of humility I can be a Sizar, or a Servitor. When the peacock vein rises, I strut a Gentleman Commoner. In graver moments, I proceed Master of Arts. Indeed, I do not think I am much unlike that respectable character.