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furnished by the very act of disfurnishment, -getting rid of the cumbersome luggage of riches, more apt (as one sings) To slacken virtue, and abate her ecge, Than prompt her to do aught may merit praise, he set forth, like some Alexander, upon his great enterprise, "borrowing and to borrow!"
In his periegesis, or triumphant progress throughout this island, it has been calculated that he laid a tythe part of the inhabitants under contribution. I reject this estimate as greatly exaggerated; but having had the honour of accompanying my friend divers times in his perambulations about this vast city, I own I was greatly struck at first with the prodigious number of faces we met who claimed a sort of respectful acquaintance with us. He was one day so obliging as to explain the phenomenon. It seems these were his tributaries; feeders of his exchequer; gentlemen, his good friends, (as he was pleased to express himself,) to whom he had occasionally been beholden for a loan. Their multitudes did no way disconcert him. He rather took a pride in numbering them; and, with Comus, seemed pleased to be “stocked with so fair a herd.”
With such sources, it was a wonder he contrived to keep his treasury always empty. He did it by force of an aphorism, which he had often in his mouth, that “money kept longer than three days stinks." So he made use of it while it was fresh. A good part he drank away (for he was an excellent tosspot); some he gave away, the rest he threw away, literally tossing and hurling it violently from him--as boys do burrs, or as if it had been infectious into ponds, or ditches, or deep holes, inscruta. ble cavities of the earth;-(
-or he would bury it (where he would never seek it again) by a river's side under some bank, which (he would facetiously observe) paid no interest; but out away from him it must go peremptorily, as Hagar's offspring into the wilderness, while it was sweet. He never missed it. The streams were perennial which fed his fisc. When new supplies became necessary, the first person that had the felicity to fall in with him, friend or stranger, was sure to contribute to the de. ficiency; for Bigod had an undeniable way with nim. He had a cheerful, open exterior, a quick jovial eye, a bald forehead, just touched with grey (cana fides). He anticipated no excuse, and found none. And, waiving for a while my theory as to the great race, I would put it to the most untheorising reader, who may at times tave disposable coin in his pocket, whether it is not more repugnant to the kindliness of his nature to refuse such a one as I am describing, than to say no to a poor petitionary rogue (your bastard borrower) who, by his mumping visnomy, tells you that he expects nothing better; and, therefore, whose preconceived notions and expectations you do in reality so much lesu shock in the refusal.
When I think of this man,-his fiery glow of heart, his swell of feeling,-how magnificent, how ideal he was; how great at the midnight hour; and when I compare with him the com• panions with whom I have associated since, I grudge the saving of a few idle ducats, and think that I am fallen into the society of lenders and little men.
To one like Elia whose treasures are rather cased in leather covers than closed in iron cof. fers, there is a class of alienators more formi. dable than that which I have touched upon; I mean your borrowers of books—those muti. lators of collections, spoilers of the symmetry of shelves, and creators of odd volumes. There is Comberbatch, matchless in his depredations!
That foul gap in the bottom shelf facing you, like a great eye-tooth knocked out-(you are now with me in my little back study in Blooms bury, reader)—with the huge Switzer-like tomes on each side (like the Guildhall giants, in their reformed posture, guardant of nothing) once held the tallest of my folios, Opera Bonaventura, choice and massive divinity, to which its two supporters (school divinity also, but of a lesser calibre, Bellarmine, and Holy Thomas) showed but as dwarfs,-itself an Ascapart !-that Comberbatch abstracted upon the faith of a theory he holds, which is more easy, I confess, for me to suffer by than to refute, namely, that "the title to property in & book, (my Bonaventure, for instance,) is in exact ratio to the claimant's powers of under standing and appreciating the same." Should he go on acting upon this theory, which of our shelves is safe?
The slight vacuum in the left-hand case two shelves from the ceiling-scarcely distina guishable but by the quick eye of a loser-was whilom the commodious resting-place of Brown on Urn Burial. C. will hardly allege that he knows more about that treatise than I do, who introduced it to him, and was indeed the first (of the moderns) to discover its beauties; but so have I known a foolish lover to praise his mistress in the presence of a rival more qualified to carry her off than himself. Just below, Dodsley's dramas want their fourth volume, where Vittoria Corombona is! The remainder nine are as distasteful as Priam's refuse sons when the Fates borrowed Hector. Here stood the Anatomy of Melancholy, in sober state. There loitered the Complete Ang. ler; quiet as in life, by some stream side. In yonder nook, John Buncle, a widower-volume, with “eyes closed," mourns his ravished mate.
One justice I must do my friend, that if he sometimes, like the sea, sweeps away a treasure, at another time, sea-like, he throws up as rich an equivalent to match it. I have a small under-collection of this nature, (my friend's gatherings in his various calls,) picked up, he has forgotten at what odd places, and deposited with as little memory at mine. I take in these orphans, the twice-deserted. These proselytes of the gate are welcome as the true Hebrews. There they stand in conjunction; natives and naturalized. The latter seem as little disposed to inquire out their true lineage as I am.-I charge no warehouse-room for these deodands, nor shall ever put myself to the ungentlemanly trouble of advertising a sale of them to pay expenses.
To lose a volume to C. carries some sense and meaning in it. You are sure that he will make one hearty meal on your viands, if he can give no account of the platter after it. But what moved thee, wayward, spiteful K-, to be so importunate to carry off with thee, in spite of tears and adjurations to thee to forbear,
the Letters of that princely woman, the thrice noble Margaret Newcastle ?—knowing at the time, and knowing that I knew also, thou most assuredly wouldst never turn over one leaf of the illustrious folio :—what but the mere spirit of contradiction, and childish love of getting the better of thy friend ?—Then (worst cut of all!) to transport it with thee to the Gallican landUnworthy land to harbour such a sweetness, A virtue in which all ennobling thoughts dwelt, Pure thoughts, kind thoughts, high thoughts,
her sex's wonder! hadst thou not thy play-books, and books of tests and fancies, about thee, to keep thee