’But I was not doomed to return to the dissipation of the world. One morning a young nobleman, who had for some time past showed a wish to cultivate my acquaintance, came to me in a considerable hurry. “I am come to beg an important favour of you,” said he; “one of the county memberships is vacant—I intend to become a candidate; what I want immediately is a spirited address to the electors. I have been endeavouring to frame one all the morning, but in vain; I have, therefore, recourse to you as a person of infinite genius; pray, my dear friend, concoct me one by the morning!” “What you require of me,” I replied, “is impossible; I have not the gift of words; did I possess it I would stand for the county myself, but I can’t speak. Only the other day I attempted to make a speech, but left off suddenly, utterly ashamed, although I was quite alone, of the nonsense I was uttering.” “It is not a speech that I want,” said my friend; “I can talk for three hours without hesitating, but I want an address to circulate through the county, and I find myself utterly incompetent to put one together; do oblige me by writing one for me, I know you can; and, if at any time you want a person to speak for you, you may command me not for three but for six hours. Good-morning; to-morrow I will breakfast with you.” In the morning he came again. “Well,” said he, “what success?” “Very poor,” said I; “but judge for yourself”; and I put into his hand a manuscript of several pages. My friend read it through with considerable attention. “I congratulate you,” said he, “and likewise myself; I was not mistaken in my opinion of you; the address is too long by at least two-thirds, or I should rather say, that it is longer by two-thirds than addresses generally are; but it will do—I will not curtail it of a word. I shall win my election.” And in truth he did win his election; and it was not only his own but the general opinion that he owed it to the address.
’But, however that might be, I had, by writing the address, at last discovered what had so long eluded my search—what I was able to do. I, who had neither the nerve nor the command of speech necessary to constitute the orator—who had not the power of patient research required by those who would investigate the secrets of nature, had, nevertheless, a ready pen and teeming imagination. This discovery decided my fate—from that moment I became an author.’
Trepidations—Subtle principle—Perverse imagination—Are they mine?—Another book—How hard!—Agricultural dinner—Incomprehensible actions—Inmost bosom—Give it up—Chance resemblance—Rascally newspaper.
‘An author,’ said I, addressing my host; ’is it possible that I am under the roof of an author?’