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bleeding, splashed, triumphant; behind them the
burning madhouse, above them the spangled sky,
the fresh free air of liberty blowing in their
nostrils, and rushing past their ears.

Alfred's chest expanded, he laughed for joy,
he sang for joy, he leaped as he went; nor did
he care where he went. David took the command,
and kept snuffing the air, and shaping his course
for blue water. And so they rushed along the
livelong night.



LET me repeat what I have already been
privileged to state in these pages, that there is
nothing of which I am more thoroughly
convinced than that I, the writer of this article, was
born a poet.* And when I say poet, I desire it
to be understood that I do not mean a mere
jingler of rhymes, but the real article, fine
frenzied as to eye, and turned-down as to collar.
It is of very little consequence to me, whether
you, the reader, believe this or not. I believe
it, and that is enough for my feelings under the
heartrending circumstances I am about to relate.
Think of this; think of the poet, your most
devoted servant, with this conviction at his
breast, and a five-act tragedy in his pocket,
being waited upon by the manager of a theatre,
and asked to write a Pantomime! Imagine
Moses and Son waiting upon Alfred Tennyson
with a commission for an ode upon Trousers!

* See Tragic Case of a Comic Writer, vol. vii.,
page 469.

This is where the sting lay: I had spoken
to the manager about my tragedy; I had given
it him to read; he had read itat least he
said soand sent it back with the opinion and
decision that it was an excellent tragedy, but
would not do for his establishment. Then a
month or two afterwards, within a very short
time of Christmas, he comes to my humble
abode in his carriage, and says:

"My dear sir, I want you to write my Christmas

Once more call up, in your mind, Moses
making his bow and his request in the study of
the Laureate. I was shocked, hurt, wounded
in my tenderest part. Write a Pantomime?
I ! I! In my attic chamber I felt as indignant
as Andrew Marvel is said to have felt
when he declared his preference for cold mutton
and virtue in Maiden-lane, to whitebait and
wickedness in Whitehall.

"Sir, I have the heel of a Dutch cheese and
half of a penny loaf in my cupboard, and—"

I had got thus far in the preparation of a
withering and indignant reply to the degrading
proposal, when the manager interposed:

"You see, my dear sir, I am in a difficulty.
Syllabus, who usually does my Pantomime, has
two others on his hands this year. He has the
Lane and the Garden to write, and so he shows
his gratitude to the man who made him, by
leaving me in the lurch. The scenery and
properties are ready, and all I want is the opening.
You must do it."

"I! I! Mr. Maberly."

Mr. Maberly said, emphatically, "You."

"What on earth, Mr. Maberly, made you
think of me for such a task?"

"What made me think of you, my dear fellow?
why, your tragedy!"

"My tragedy!"

"Yes; I read itdid, upon my honourand
before I got through the first act, I said to
myself, ' This is the man to do my Pantomime; his
style is exactly the thing.'"

Was it for this that I had devoted my days
and nights to the study of the immortal bard?
Was it for this that I had made a pilgrimage (in
a very indifferent pair of boots) to his shrine!
How I restrained myself from committing an
act of violence I do not know; but I did, and
I said with terrible calmness:

"Sir, have you come hither to insult me?"

"On the contrary," said Mr. Maberly, "I
have come here to do you a service. Look
here, now; you are a youngster; you have
never had a piece produced. You want an
introduction. I am prepared to give you one.
Write my Pantomime; your name will appear
in the bills; the papers and the public will speak
of you, and there you are at once, a dramatic
author, with the market open to you."

Beginning to perceive that Mr. Maberly
really meant well by me, I said sadly, "I had
other views."

"I know you have," said Mr. Maberly; "you
aim at the high-flown sort of thing, tragedy,
five-act comedy, and so forth. But, my dear sir,
you must creep before you can walk; walk before
you can run. Begin with pantomime, then try
comedy, and no doubt in the course of time you
will arrive at tragedy. Edmund Kean, sir,
played harlequin before he attempted Richard.
Garrick occasionally wrote his own Pantomimes.
Beginners should not be too particular; take
my advice, and accept the gifts the gods
provide you; I can assure you there is nothing the
gods are so partial to, as a good Pantomime."

Mr. Maberly's eloquence and persuasive
reasoning were gradually undermining the
foundations of my lofty aspirations. Garrick had
written Pantomimes, Edmund Kean had played
harlequin; and here was an offer of thirty pounds
for six hundred lines of doggrel verse. Well,
there was no harm in doing what Garrick had
done, and thirty pounds was more than the
great Johnson got for Irene. I consented.

But I stooped only to conquer in the end. I
resolved that the Pantomime should be the thin
end of the wedge, and that I should eventually
rend the deep rooted tree of prejudice and
debased taste by the thick end of blank verse
and five acts.

"Very well," said Mr. Maberly, "here is
the scene-plot, and I may tell you that the
scenes are all settled, and most of them painted,
and you must manage your story to fit them."

I ventured to express some surprise at this