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and practical mind. He was fond of speculation; but speculation about subjects unintelligible or beyond the reach of human cognizance, was too frivolous for him. Until his countrymen learn to think with him on this subject, they will never be able to imitate the good example he set them.

We shall here close this brief and rapid sketch of the characteristics of German Literature, and more particularly of the very eminent German writer before us. For dissent we are at all times prepared, but we have here, we suspect, to fear that our opinions may occasionally give offence, by us far from intended; for we have no interest, near or remote, in the subject, but that of truth and free enquiry; and we readily give up these opinions to be canvassed with the same freedom we have used in detailing them.

ART. VII.-Dashes at Life with a Free Pencil.

WILLIS. 3 vols. 8vo. London : 1845.

By N. P. F.

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Hatever doubt or surprise the details and extracts with

which we are about to amuse our readers, may seem to attach to the fact, we beg to assure those of them who do not already know it, that Mr Willis has actually written some rather clever books, occasionally marked by traits of genius. But, with respect to the present publication, we confess we have been frequently at a loss to judge whether his narratives were intended to be taken as serious, or only jocular—as what he himself believed to be truths, or intended only as amusing fancies. True, he writes, as he tells us, with a free pencil;' but it also is true that he writes as if he wished his readers to think that he is perfectly in earnest ; that he speaks in his own proper person,

and reveals his own adventures, or what he appears to wish to be taken as such ; and we therefore feel it to be quite

1 fair –indeed that we are bound—to take him at his word, and to deal with him accordingly.

The history of these • Dashes at Life,' which some of our contemporaries have much extolled, is thus modestly given in the preface:— Like the sculptor who made toys of the • frag

ments of his unsaleable Jupiter, the author, in the following col• lection of brief tales, gives material, that, but for a single objection, would have been moulded into works of larger design. * That objection is the unmarketableness of American books in ' America, owing to our (Mr Willis is an American) defective

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• law of copyright.' And he proceeds to show, with pathetic accuracy, that as an American publisher can get all English books for nothing, he will not throw away his money on American writers : hence the only chance of a livelihood for the latter, is to contribute to periodical literature, and to transport works of bulk and merit to the English market.

So, after all, if a few authors and publishers grumble at piracy, the public gains. But for the pirates of New York and Boston, we should never have bad Mr Willis's · Dashes.' And though the genius which might have perfected the Jupiter, has been thus partly balked—though Mr Willis has been forced to fritter away his marble and intellect in a commerce of toys; still the fragmented Jupiter has, with the frieze of the Parthenon, found an appropriate locality in the capital of the world.

But, to proceed with the history, we may state that it was Mr Willis's intention to work up some of these sketches into substantive Novels, but for the unsatisfactory state of the market for that commodity; and there can be no sort of doubt, that the genius which conceived, might have enlarged the · Dashes'

size. In the first balf of these volumes, there are some twenty tales illustrative of English and Continental life-true copies, Mr Willis states, of what he had seen there ; and most of them of so strange and diverting a nature, that a man of genius might have made many scores of volumes out of the adventures recorded in only a few hundreds of these duodecimo pages. The Americans, by their piratical system, have robbed themselves of that pleasure ; and the Union might have had a novelist as prolific as M. Dumas or Mr James, had it possessed the common generosity to pay him.

The European, as contradistinguished from the American views of society, we take to be by far the most notable of the • Dashes. The judgment of foreigners has been called, by a happy blander of logic, that of contemporary posterity. In Mr Willis we have a republican visiting a monarchical country for • the first time, traversing the barrier of different ranks with a * stranger's privilege, and curious to know how nature's nobility

holds its own against nobility by inheritance, and how heart • and judgment were modified in their action by the thin air at

the summit of refinement.' That Mr Willis, in this exalted sphere, should have got on in a manner satisfactory to himself, is no wonder. Don Christopher Sly conducted himself, we all remember, with perfect ease in the Ducal chair. Another personage of somewhat humble rank in life, was, as we also know, quite at home at the court of Queen Titania, and inspired her Majesty with a remarkable passion. So also our republican


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stranger appears to have been equally at his ease, when he appeared for the first time in European aristocratical society.

The great characteristic of high society in England, Mr Willis assures us, is admiration of literary talent. At the summit of

refinement,' a natural nobleman, or a popular writer for the Magazines, is in all respects the equal of a Duke. As some captain of Free Lances of former days, elbowed his way through royal palaces, with the eyes of all womankind after him-so in the present time a man, by being a famous Free Pencil, may achieve a similar distinction. Of such a champion, the ladies don't say as in the times of the Free Lances, he fought at Hennebon or Pavia, but that he wrote that charming poem in Colburn, that famous article in Blackwood. Before that title to fame, all aristocratic heads bow down. The ladies do not care for rank, or marry for wealth--they only worship genius!

This truly surprising truth forms the text of almost every one of Mr Willis's . Dashes' at English and Continental life. The heroes of the tales are all more or less alike-all - Free Pencils.' Sometimes the tales are related in the first person, as befalling our American; sometimes a flimsy third person veils the author, but you can't but see that it is Cæsar who is writing his own British or Gallic victories, for the Free Pencil,' always conquers. Duchesses pine for his love; modest virgins go into consumptions and die for him; old grandmothers of sixty forget their families and propriety, and fall on the neck of this Free Pencil.' If this be true, it is wonderful; if it is fiction, it is more wonderful still, that all a man's delusions should take this queer turnthat Alnaschar should be always courting the Vizier's daughter -courting! what do we say ? it is the woe-worn creature who is always at Alnaschar's feet, and he (in his vision) who is kicking her.

The first of the pictures of London life is called Leaves from the Heart-book of Ernest Clay.' This, but for the unfavourable circumstances before alluded to, was to bave been a novel of three volumes; and indeed it would have been hard to crowd such a hero's amours into a few chapters. Ernest is a great · Free Pencil, with whom Jules Janin himself (that famous chieftain of the French Free Pencils,' who translated Sterne, confessing that he did not know a word of English, and did’ his own wedding-day in a feuilleton of the Journal des Débats) can searcely compare. The Heart-book' opens in Ernest's lodgings, in a * second floor front, No. —, South Audley Street, Grosvenor * Square,' where Ernest is writing, before a three-halfpenny inkstand, an article for the next New Monthly Magazine. It was two o'clock, and the author was at breakfast--and to show what

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a killing man of the world poor Ernest was, his biographer tells us, that

« On the top of a small leather portmanteau, near by, (the three-halfpenny inkstand, the like of which you may buy“in most small shops in Soho,") stood two pair of varnished-leather boots of a sumptuous expensiveness, slender, elegant, and without spot, except the leaf of a crushed orange blossom clinging to one of the heels. "The boots and the inkstand were tolerable exponents of his (the fashionable author's) two opposite but closely woven existences.'

A printer's Devil comes to him for his Tale, and as the man of genius has not written a word of it, he begins to indite a letter to the publisher, which we print with what took place subsequently ; that the public may be made acquainted with the habits of . Free Pencils' in composition. « He had seized bis


and commenced :«« Dear Sir,—The tale of this month will be called

..As it was not yet conceived, be found a difficulty in baptizing it. His eyebrows descended like the bars of a knight's visor ; his mouth, which had expressed only lassitude and melancholy, shut close, and curved downward, and he sat for some minutes dipping his pen in the ink, and at each dip adding a new shoal to the banks of the inky Azores.

• A long sigh of relief, and an expansion of every line of his face into a look of brightening thought, gave token presently that the incubation had been successful. The gilded note-paper was pushed aside, a broad and fair sheet of foreign post " was bastily drawn from his blotting-book, and forgetful alike of the unachieved cup of tea (!) and the waiting

devil” of Marlborough Street, the felicitous author dashed the first magic word on mid-page, and without title or motto, traced rapidly line after line, his face clearing of lassitude, and his eyes of their troubled languor, as the erasures became fewer, and his punctuations further between.

6 «« Any answer to the note, sir?" said the maid-servant, who had entered unnoticed, and stood close at his elbow, wondering at the flying velocity

• He was at the bottom of the fourth page, and in the middle of a sentence, Handing the wet and blotted sheet to the servant, with an order for the messenger to call the following morning for the remainder, he threw down his pen and abandoned himself to the most delici. ous of an author's pleasures-revery in the mood of composition. He forgot work.

Work is to put such reveries into words. His imagination few on like a horse without his rider-gloriously and exultingly, but to no goal. The very waste made his indolence sweeter-the very nearness of his task brightened his imaginative idleness. The ink dried upon his pen. Some capricious association soon drew beck his thoughts to himself. His eye dulled. His lips resumed their mingled expression of pride and voluptuousness. He started to find himself idle, remembered that he had left off the sheet with a broken sentence, without retaining even the concluding word, and with a sigh more of relief than vexation, le drew on bis hoots. Presto!- the world of which his penny

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halfpenny inkstand was the immortal centre—the world of heaven-born imagination-melted from about him! He stood in patent leather, human, handsome, and liable to debt!

• And thus fugitive and easy of decoy; thus compulsory, irresolute, and brief, is the unchastised toil of genius—the earning of “the fancy-bread" of poets !

• It would be hard if a man who has “ made himself a name,” (beside being paternally christened,) should want one in a story—so, if you please, I will name my hero in the next sentence. Ernest Clay was dressed to walk to Marlborough Street to apply for his " guinea a page" in advance, and find out the concluding word of his MŠ., when there was heard a footman's rap at the street door. The baker on the groundfloor ran to pick up his penny loaves jarred from the shelves by the tremendous rat-a-tat-tat, and the maid ran herself out of her shoes to inform Mr Clay that Lady Mildred_wished to speak with him. Neither maid nor baker were displeased at being put to inconvenience, nor was the baker's hysterical mother disposed to murmur at the outrageous clatter which sbattered her nerves for a week. There is a spell to a Londoner in a coroneted carriage which changes the noise and the impudence of the unwhipped varlets who ride behind it into music and condescension.

• “You were going out,” said Lady Mildred, “ can I take you any where ? ”

•• You can take me," said Clay, spreading out his hands in an attitude of surrender, “ when and where you please; but I was going to my pubJisher's,"

• The chariot steps rattled down, and his foot was on the crimson carpet, when a plain family-carrriage suddenly turned out of Grosvenor Square, and pulled up as rear his own door as the obstruction permitted.'

Both the carriages, the coroneted chariot and the plain coach ‘out of Grosvenor Square, contain ladies who are wildly in love with the celebrated writer for the Magazines. He is smitten by the chariot ; he has offered marriage to the family coach; which of the two vehicles shall carry him off? The rival owners appear in presence, (at Mrs Rothschild's ball!) and after a slight contest between vice and virtue, the well-principled young man of genius finishes the evening by running away with the coronet to a beautiful retreat in Devonshire, leaving his bride-elect to wear the willow. This may be considered as Volume I. of the « Heart-book.' Who would not be interested in reading the secrets of such a heart—who would not pardon its poetic vagaries?

In Volume II. the Free Pencil, seeing in the newspapers the marriage of an old flame, merely in joke writes the lady a letter so thrilling, tender, and impassioned, that she awakens for the first time to a sense of her exquisite beauty, and be comes a coquette for ever after. 'The . Free Pencil' meets with

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