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I AM a bachelor, residing in rather a dreary
set of chambers in the Temple. They are
situated in a square court of high houses,
which would be a complete well, but for the
want of water and the absence of a bucket. I
live at the top of the house, among the tiles
and sparrows. Like the little man in the
nursery-story, I live by myself, and all the
bread and cheese I getwhich is not muchI
put upon a shelf. I need scarcely add,
perhaps, that I am in love, and that the father of
my charming Julia objects to our union.

I mention these little particulars as I might
deliver a letter of introduction. The reader
is now acquainted with me, and perhaps will
condescend to listen to my narrartive.

I am naturally of a dreamy turn of mind;
and my abundant leisurefor I am called to
the barcoupled with much lonely listening
to the twittering of sparrows, and the
pattering of rain, has encouraged that disposition.
In my "top set," I hear the wind howl, on a
winter night, when the man on the ground
floor believes it is perfectly still weather.
The dim lamps with which our Honourable
Society (supposed to be as yet unconscious of
the new discovery called Gas) make the
horrors of the staircase visible, deepen the
gloom which generally settles on my soul
when I go home at night.

I am in the Law, but not of it. I can't
exactly make out what it means. I sit in
Westminster Hall sometimes (in character)
from ten to four; and when I go out of Court,
I don't know whether I am standing on my
wig or my boots.

It appears to me (I mention this in
confidence) as if there were too much talk and
too much lawas if some grains of truth
were started overboard into a tempestuous
sea of chaff.

All this may make me mystical. Still, I
am confident that what I am going to describe
myself as having seen and heard, I actually
did see and hear.

It is necessary that I should observe that
I have a great delight in pictures. I am no
painter myself, but I have studied pictures
and written about them. I have seen all the
most famous pictures in the world; my education
and reading have been sufficiently general
to possess me beforehand with a knowledge
of most of the subjects to which a Painter is
likely to have recourse; and, although I
might be in some doubt as to the rightful
fashion of the scabbard of King Lear's sword,
for instance, I think I should know King
Lear tolerably well, if I happened to meet
with him.

I go to all the Modern Exhibitions every
season, and of course I revere the Royal
Academy. I stand by its forty Academical
articles almost as firmly as I stand by the
thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.
I am convinced that in neither case could
there be, by any rightful possibility, one article
more or less.

It is now exactly three yearsthree years
ago, this very monthsince I went from
Westminster to the Temple, one Thursday
afternoon, in a cheap steam-boat. The sky
was black, when I imprudently walked on
board. It began to thunder and lighten
immediately afterwards, and the rain poured
down in torrents. The deck seeming to smoke
with the wet, I went below; but so many
passengers were there, smoking too, that I
came up again, and buttoning my pea-coat,
and standing in the shadow of the paddle-box,
stood as upright as I could, and made the
best of it.

It was at this moment that I first beheld
the terrible Being, who is the subject of my
present recollections.

Standing against the funnel, apparently
with the intention of drying himself by the
heat as fast as he got wet, was a shabby man
in threadbare black, and with his hands in
his pockets, who fascinated me from the
memorable instant when I caught his eye.

Where had I caught that eye before? Who
was he? Why did I connect him, all at once,
with the Vicar of Wakefield, Alfred the
Great, Gil Blas, Charles the Second, Joseph
and his Brethren, the Fairy Queen, Tom
Jones, the Decameron of Boccaccio, Tam
O'Shanter, the Marriage of the Doge of
Venice with the Adriatic, and the Great
Plague of London? Why, when he bent one
leg,and placed one hand upon the back of
the seat near him, did my mind associate him
wildly with the words, "Number one hundred
and forty-two, Portrait of a gentleman?"
Could it be that I was going mad?