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Fitzcribb was honest, nay more, he was by birth and in feeling a gentleman; he did not conceal from Grunter any one of the necessary expenses-printing, paper, commission, advertising of all these a fair and just calculation was made. He thought it right to let him know that the work might not take with an ill-judging public; that it was all a lottery, and that he might be so many hundreds out of pocket; but, before he led Grunter into these dark shades of doubt, he had kindled a bright lamp in his breast, fed with the all-illumining oil of hope.
Grunter was not to be deterred. He would be a lion, and he would begin by having a lion's heart. Well did Fitzcribb deserve his hundred and fifty pounds, for Grunter sometimes bored him into a stupor, sometimes worried him into a frenzy; but the poor author's necessities had compelled him to beg twenty pounds (in advance) of the sum agreed for, and as there was no repaying it, so was there no retracting
He therefore wisely tried to make the best
of it, though the sight of Grunter's large text, usher-like hand was become odious to his sight, as a dun's to a spendthrift's, a patroness's to a toady, or to the changed, inconstant lover that of the reproachful, still devoted fond one. But poor Fitzcribb had a sick child-his ninth, yet dear as if it had been his only one; he thought of the little sufferer, soothed by some new remedy-he saw in fancy his hollow eyes brighten with joy at an unwonted indulgence, and then he courageously, nay gladly, seized Grunter's black, incongruous mass of plagiarisms, and gave the best powers of at least a clever mind to fashioning, arranging, and polishing it.
Grunter was, like all egotists, entirely engrossed by the favourite pursuit of the hour, looking up to himself as the future lion of the day; he began in his inmost soul to look dowri upon all around him as mere nobodies
-he ate as voraciously, but more hurriedly, more silently than ever ; was frequently late at table, and of tenapologized for leaving it directly the cloth was removed, announcing
that business of immense importance, not merely to so humble an individual as himself, but to the world at large, compelled him to repair to his study.
Mr. Lindsay, full of quiet humour, encouraged without questioning him, and every one else was glad that Grunter and his “ Rollin ” had departed of their own accord.
Our party were going to the opera, for the last time before leaving town, to see La Zelie in the “Somnambula,” one of her best and most popular characters. Grunter knew that Fitzcribb was also obliged to go to the opera to write a critique on a new ballet for a morning paper, and he therefore begged Mr. Lindsay's permission to invite him to his box, with the view, before the ballet commenced, of discussing “ The History of Philosophy, and the Philosophy of History.” He had written part of a new chapter, but he was anxious to see the beginning of the preceding one, which was in Fitzcribb's possession, as he was seized with a nervous fear that both began with the same sentence. He resolved then
to request that an early dinner might be sent him in his study, and he determined to call on Fitzcribb at his own lodgings, invite him to the Lindsays' box and to supper, and discuss with him all the new ideas about his work which had occurred to him since the day before.
It was scarcely six o'clock when he glided with mysterious importance down stairs, left the house, threw himself into a cab, and desired the driver to take him to Great Quebec Street, New Road. He had been once at Fitzcribb's before, but that was in the morning and by appointment; it was then that he had seen him in the cap and dressing-gown which he had forthwith adopted as a proper author-like costume. His head was too full of his book for there to be room for any consideration as to whether it might be convenient to Fitzcribb to receive an uninvited guest at an unwonted hour. Poverty, a wife, and a large family, make people rather shy of chance visits.
Mrs. Fitzcribb! She did for a moment flit
across his brain, but he had heard that she was an authoress! a poetess! and could a poetess put her own trifling convenience for one instant in competition with “ The Philosophy of History, and the History of Philosophy?" No, he would not think so meanly of his friend's wife! Nay, he wished to know her-none but a literary woman he thought could quite appreciate a man of genius, and Grunter in his way admired women; besides, Fitzcribb, a doating husband, had described her as a lovely being, full of soul, the daughter of a baronet, in whose family sudden misfortunes had compelled him to become a tutor. Her relatives had denounced her, for she had carried romance and poetryinto the prosy realities of life; but Grunter thought so noble and independent a creature would appreciate him, and a man of genius he fancied ought to form some platonic affection for a woman of talent: witness Johnson and Mrs. Thrale, Voltaire and Madame Dacier, Cowper and Mrs. Unwin, and many, many more.
A grand conception, too, was working in