+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

rounds off his appeals with some allusion, that
may be supposed to be in my way, to the
popular subject of the hour.

His life presents a series of inconsistencies.
Sometimes he has never written such a letter
before. He blushes with shame. That is the
first time; that shall be the last. Don't
answer it, and let it be understood that, then,
he will kill himself quietly. Sometimes (and
more frequently) he has written a few such
letters. Then he encloses the answers, with
an intimation that they are of inestimable
value to him, and a request that they may be
carefully returned. He is fond of enclosing
somethingverses, letters, pawnbrokers'
duplicates, anything to necessitate an answer.
He is very severe upon 'the pampered minion
of fortune,' who refused him the half-sovereign
referred to in the enclosure number twobut
he knows me better.

He writes in a variety of styles; sometimes
in low spirits; sometimes quite jocosely.
When he is in low spirits, he writes down-hill,
and repeats wordsthese little indications
being expressive of the perturbation of his
mind. When he is more vivacious, he is frank
with me; he is quite the agreeable rattle.
I know what human nature is,—who better?
Well! He had a little money once, and he ran
through itas many men have done before
him. He finds his old friends turn away from
him nowmany men have done that before
him, too! Shall he tell me why he writes to
me? Because he has no kind of claim upon me.
He puts it on that ground, plainly; and begs
to ask for the loan (as I know human nature)
of two sovereigns, to be repaid next Tuesday
six weeks, before twelve at noon.

Sometimes, when he is sure that I have
found him out, and that there is no chance of
money, he writes to inform me that I have
got rid of him at last. He has enlisted into
the Company's service, and is off directly
but he wants a cheese. He is informed by the
serjeant that it is essential to his prospects in
the regiment that he should take out a single-
Gloucester cheese, weighing from twelve to
fifteen pounds. Eight or nine shillings would
buy it. He does not ask for money, after what
has passed; but if he calls at nine to-morrow
morning, may he hope to find a cheese? And
is there anything he can do to show his
gratitude in Bengal?

Once, he wrote me rather a special letter
proposing relief in kind. He had got into a
little trouble by leaving parcels of mud done
up in brown paper, at people's houses, on
pretence of being a Railway-Porter, in which
character he received carriage money. This
sportive fancy he expiated in the House of
Correction. Not long after his release, and on
a Sunday morning, he called with a letter
(having first dusted himself all over), in
which he gave me to understand that, being
resolved to earn an honest livelihood, he had
been travelling about the country with a cart
of crockery. That he had been doing pretty
well, until the day before, when his horse had
dropped down dead near Chatham, in Kent.
That this had reduced him to the unpleasant
necessity of getting into the shafts himself,
and drawing the cart of crockery to London
a somewhat exhausting pull of thirty miles.
That he did not venture to ask again for
money; but that if I would have the goodness
to leave him out a donkey, he would call
for the animal before breakfast!

At another time, my friend (I am describing
actual experiences) introduced himself as a
literary gentleman in the last extremity of
distress. He had had a play accepted at a
certain Theatrewhich was really open; its
representation was delayed by the indisposition
of a leading actorwho was really ill;
and he and his were in a state of absolute
starvation. If he made his necessities known
to the Manager of the Theatre, he put it to
me to say what kind of treatment he might
expect? Well! we got over that difficulty to
our mutual satisfaction. A little while afterwards
he was in some other straitI think
Mrs. Southcote, his wife, was in extremity
and we adjusted that point too. A little
while afterwards, he had taken a new house,
and was going headlong to ruin for want of a
water-butt. I had my misgivings about the
water-butt, and did not reply to that epistle.
But, a little while afterwards, I had reason to
feel penitent for my neglect. He wrote me
a few broken-hearted lines, informing me that
the dear partner of his sorrows died in his
arms last night at nine o'clock!

I dispatched a trusty messenger to comfort
the bereaved mourner and his poor children:
but the messenger went so soon, that the play
was not ready to be played out; my friend
was not at home, and his wife was in a most
delightful state of health. He was taken up
by the Mendicity Society (informally it afterwards
appeared), and I presented myself at
a London Police-Office with my testimony
against him. The Magistrate was wonderfully
struck by his educational acquirements,
deeply impressed by the excellence of his
letters, exceedingly sorry to see a man of his
attainments there, complimented him highly
on his powers of composition, and was quite
charmed to have the agreeable duty of
discharging him. A collection was made for the
'poor fellow,' as he was called in the reports,
and I left the court with a comfortable sense
of being universally regarded as a sort of
monster. Next day, comes to me a friend
of mine, the governor of a large prison, 'Why
did you ever go to the Police-Office against
that man,' says he, 'without coming to me
first? I know all about him and his frauds.
He lodged in the house of one of my warders, at
the very time when he first wrote to you; and
then he was eating spring-lamb at eighteen-
pence a pound, and early asparagus at I
don't know how much a bundle!' On that
very same day, and in that very same hour,
my injured gentleman wrote a solemn address