“Ah, you are not very well accustomed to these trains of reasoning, I perceive, sir,” said Mr. Roundjacket; “but you will be able to comprehend my meaning. I designed only to say, that this town will probably be mentioned in many books, hereafter, as the residence of some distinguished man. Of course, I do not express any opinion upon that point—I don’t know who it will be; but I presume he will follow the poetical calling from the vicinity of the mountains. Those beautiful mountains will make his cheeks flush, sir, at all times. The Shenandoah, more noble than even the Mississippi, will inspire him, and possibly he will turn his attention to humor—possibly, sir, the proceedings in courts of law may attract his attention—justification, and cognovit, and certiorari. Let me read you a small portion of a poem written upon those subjects by a very humble poet—are you listening, Mr. Verty?”
Verty aroused himself, and smiled upon Mr. Roundjacket—a proceeding which seemed to be eminently satisfactory to that gentleman.
With many preparatory, “hems,” therefore, the poet commenced reading.
At the risk of bringing down upon our heads the anathema of antiquaries in general, we are compelled to forbear from making any quotations from the Roundjacket Iliad. It was not quite equal to Homer, and inferior, in many points, to both the Aeniad and the Dunciad;—but not on that account did the poet undervalue it. He read with that deep appreciation which authors in all ages have brought to bear upon their own productions.
Verty preserved a profound and respectful silence, which flattered the poet hugely. He recited with new energy and pleasure—becoming, at times, so enthusiastic, indeed, that a smothered growl from the adjoining apartment bore soothing testimony to his eloquence.
Mr. Roundjacket wound up with a gigantic figure, in which the muse of Chancery was represented as mounted upon a golden car, and dispensing from her outstretched hands all sorts of fruits, and flowers, and blessings on humanity;—and having thus brought his noble poem to a noble termination, the poet, modestly smiling, and ready for applause, rolled up his manuscript, and raised his eyes to the countenance of his silent and admiring listener—that listener who had been so rapt in the glowing images and sonorous couplets, that he had not uttered so much as a word.
Verty was asleep.
HOW VERTY SHOT A WHITE PIGEON.
Mr. Roundjacket’s illusions were all dissipated—the attentive listener was a sleeping listener—his poem, dreadful to think of, had absolutely lulled Verty to slumber.
We may understand the mortification of the great writer; the irritable genus had in him no unfit representative, thus far at least. He caught Verty by the shoulder and shook him.
“Wake up, you young savage!” he cried, “sleeping when I am reading to you; rouse! rouse! or by the immortal gods I’ll commit an assault and battery upon your barbarous person! Savage! barbarian! monster!”