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Extract from Mrs. Trollope's Travels in America,
THE POOR AUTHOR.
I was once, during a walk out of town, much struck with the appearance of an odd looking vagabond of a fellow. He was a stout, prim, middle aged, miserably dressed, broken down gentleman, who wore an air of deplorable drollery and ludicrous want entirely irresistable. His coat had once been of handsome black cloth, but its charms had vanished "like fairy gifts fading away"—many winters had scattered their snows upon the shoulder blades and elbows, from the pinnacles of the latter of which peeped something not very white, concerning which I had my own peculiar calculation. The collar, (I mean of his coat, for that of his shirt had long since retired to the dignity of private life, beneath the complicated folds of his slovenly cravat,) by, long acquaintance with the rim of a hat, venerable on account of its antiquity, had assumed a gloss which was by no means the gloss of novelty, and a dark brown waistcoat was buttoned carelessly around a body that seemed emptier than the head upon which it had depended for support. His pantaloons,
"Weak, but intrepid-sad, but unsubdued,"
were shrivelled tightly over a brace of spindle shanks, withered, weary, and forlorn. Uncleaned pumps covered every part of his feet but the toes, which came forth to enjoy the fresh summer breezes, shoes and stockings to the contrary notwithstanding. A pair of tattered white kid gloves faintly fluttered about his hands, VOL. II.-1
so that it was difficult immediately to discover whether the glove held the hand or the hand the glove.
But it was not the dress which gained him so many broad stares and oblique glances, for our city annually receives a great increase of literary inhabitants, but the air-the "Je ne sais quoi"-the nameless something— dignity in rags, and self-importance with holes at the elbow. It was the quintessence of drollery which sat upon his thin, smirking lip-which was visible on his crooked, copper tinged, and snuff bedaubed organ of smelling, and existed in the small eyes of piercing gray.
As I love to study human nature in person, and have always believed the world was the best book to read, I formed a determination to become acquainted with him of the laughable aspect, and proceeded to act in conformity thereto. I was striving to hit upon some plausible method of entering into conversation with him, when fate being in a singularly good humor, took it into her whimsical head to favor my design. As I walked near the termination of the pavement, where the multitude were by no means so numerous, and their place was supplied by the warbling birds, the bleating lambs, and all those sounds which constitute the melody of country breezes, with a slight inclination of his pericranium he turned toward me and spoke.
"Pray, sir, can you favor me with the hour?"
"It is four o'clock," answered I, "I believe-but am not sure; walk on with me, and we will inquire of yonder gentleman.'
"You are excessively good," said he, with a smile, which threw much more expression into his face—“ I am afraid I give you an infinite degree of trouble; you are enjoying rural felicity, poetically correct-pray, do not let me interrupt you."
As he spoke the clock struck.
"Fortune favors the deserving," I remarked, as a continuation of the converse so happily commenced.
He spoke with more familiarity-"Upon my honor, sir, you are very complimentary: if every body thought of me as you do, or at least, if they thought as well of my productions, I flatter myself I should have had a watch for myself."
"I'll warrant," I replied, "many have the means of
ascertaining time better than yourself, who know not how to use it half so well."
"Sir," said he, with a bow, "if you will buckle fortune to my back-but you don't flatter me-no, no. My excellent, good friend, you have much more penetration than people in general. Sir, I have been abused -vilely, wretchedly, da- but I won't swear-I
don't follow the fashions so much as to make a fool of myself; but on the honor of a perfect gentleman, I do assure you, sir, I have been very strangely used, and abused too."
"I have no doubt, sir," observed I, "but that your biography would be interesting."
My biography-you've hit the mark; I wish I had a biographer-a Dunlap, a Boswell, a Virgil, or a Homer he should begin his book with the line
'Multum ille et terris, jactatus et alto,
I have been a very football, sir, for the gods to play with."
"Tantæne animis cælestibus iræ ?"
said I, willing to humor the pedantry which I already began to discover, "but the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong."
"A-ha! sir," he exclaimed, with a gentle squeeze of my hand. "I know what you are some kindred spirit -one of those kind, high beings who come upon this world like angel visits, few and far between.' I see it, sir, in your eye," continued he, with a gesture that from the stage, would have convulsed the audience.
"I see it in your eye-charity, benevolence, affection, philosophy, and science. Ah! my dear sir, I know you are better than the rest of mankind; you've done a great deal of good in the world, and will do a great deal more
'You portioned maids-apprenticed orphans blest-
"Sir?" ejaculated I, not very well pleased with this last slash at my beloved profession
-"Or, perhaps," continued he with increased rapidity of speech, you are a lawyer, my dear sir,-the grand path to political glory-sweet occupation; to put out the strong arm, and save drowning innocence; to hurl the thunderbolt of eloquence against proud and wealthy oppression; to weave a charm of safety around defenceless beauty; and catch clumsy, and otherwise unconquerable, power in your mazy net of law-Pray, sir, can you lend me a shilling?"
I handed him the money, and he turned to be off, when I seized him by the arm, and asked him where he was going. He laid one hand upon his receptacle for food, and with the other pointed to a tavern, before which hung the sign, "Entertainment for Man and Horse."
"My dinner-my dinner-my dinner!" said he, "I haven't eaten a particle these three weeks; poverty and poetry, sir, go arm in arm, sworn friends and companions, through this vale of tears; one starves the body, and the other rarifies the soul-my way has been rough and rugged as the Rockaway turnpike road, and misfortune jerks me along as if life went upon badly made cog wheels. Will you be so kind as to lend me another shilling? I want a dinner for once in my life-beef steaks and onions, butter, gravy, and potatoes
'Hæc olim meminisse juvabit.'
It will be a grand era in my poetical career.'
There was something so exquisitely whimsical in the fellow's demeanor, that I determined to spend the afternoon in his company. I never shall forget the look and squeeze which he bestowed upon me when I proposed that we should adjourn to the inn, and dine together at my expense. He seized hold of my hand, and drew himself up erect in all the enthusiasm of poetic madness
"Sir," said he, informing me that he could not speak, with a rapidity of pronunciation which reminded me of a horse running away-" Sir, Mr. a-a-a-my dear, dear friend-my tongue falters-I can't speak-I am