We left the house together.
‘We shall soon see each other again,’ said he, as we separated at the door of my lodging.
Dine with the publisher—Religions—No animal food—Unprofitable discussions—Principles of criticism—The book market—Newgate lives—Goethe a drug—German acquirements—Moral dignity.
On the Sunday I was punctual to my appointment to dine with the publisher. As I hurried along the square in which his house stood, my thoughts were fixed so intently on the great man, that I passed by him without seeing him. He had observed me, however, and joined me just as I was about to knock at the door. ‘Let us take a turn in the square,’ said he, ‘we shall not dine for half an hour.’
‘Well,’ said he, as we were walking in the square, ’what have you been doing since I last saw you?’
‘I have been looking about London,’ said I, ’and I have bought the Dairyman’s Daughter; here it is.’
‘Pray put it up,’ said the publisher; ’I don’t want to look at such trash. Well, do you think you could write anything like it?’
‘I do not,’ said I.
‘How is that?’ said the publisher, looking at me.
‘Because,’ said I, ’the man who wrote it seems to be perfectly well acquainted with his subject; and, moreover, to write from the heart.’
‘By the subject you mean—’
‘And ain’t you acquainted with religion?’
‘I am sorry for that,’ said the publisher seriously, ’for he who sets up for an author ought to be acquainted not only with religion, but religions, and indeed with all subjects, like my good friend in the country. It is well that I have changed my mind about the Dairyman’s Daughter, or I really don’t know whom I could apply to on the subject at the present moment, unless to himself; and after all I question whether his style is exactly suited for an evangelical novel.’
‘Then you do not wish for an imitation of the Dairyman’s Daughter?’
’I do not, sir; I have changed my mind, as I told you before; I wish to employ you in another line, but will communicate to you my intentions after dinner.’
At dinner, beside the publisher and myself, were present his wife and son with his newly-married bride; the wife appeared a quiet respectable woman, and the young people looked very happy and good-natured; not so the publisher, who occasionally eyed both with contempt and dislike. Connected with this dinner there was one thing remarkable; the publisher took no animal food, but contented himself with feeding voraciously on rice and vegetables prepared in various ways.
‘You eat no animal food, sir?’ said I.
‘I do not, sir,’ said he; ’I have forsworn it upwards of twenty years. In one respect, sir, I am a Brahmin. I abhor taking away life—the brutes have as much right to live as ourselves.’