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XIV INTRODUCTION.

break out into some lusty carol ; whilst the other took great

gulps, and at every draught became more dull and dismal ;

as if he had been swallowing so much ditch-water. Every

inch of his face seemed to take an ell, and his voice became

proportionately doleful, till at last it fairly

tolled like a

passing-bell. Both seemed to feel some awkwardness at

broaching the subject of their visit ; and, after sundry significant

nods and winks had been bandied to and fro between

them, I made bold to inquire their names, and to what circumstance

I was indebted for the honour of their company.

" My friend, Mr. Maurice," said the little man, " is the

reader at Messrs. Stukeley's printing-office."

" And my friend, Mr. Collis," said the tall man, " is the

reader at Messrs. Burnett's."

" As such, sir," said the Grig, with a grin, " it was my

pleasant duty to read, revise, and correct the proof sheets

of the first two volumes of your mirth-provoking novel,

"

and throwing himself back in his chair, he

O lord !

laughed till the tears ran down his cheeks, as if at the re-

membrance of some very funny passage.

" And in a similar capacity," said the Grave Maurice,

" I had the pleasure (a sigh) of reading the third volume,

and, without flattery, I enjoyed it as much as ever I did

any thing in my life."

The doleful look that accompanied this assurance ren-

however I bowed

dered the compliment rather equivocal ;

right and left, preserving my gravity as well as I could,

which was a little disconcerted by the extreme contrast of

the two personages that alternately saluted me. The only

point they had in common was a relish for the wine : evidently thought

they

it good, and kept pulling proofs of it

with the perseverance of pressmen ; but the long face only

grew still gloomier, whilst the short one, in quirks and

cranks and waggish workings, began to emulate that of Tim

Bobbin. He was pleased to inform me, with a physiognomy

which could only have been appropriately framed

lc

in a horse-collar, that he had once read a serious poem

of mine with great gratification, and he must regret I

now did so little in that line ;" which drew from the sad

one a dreary sentence in favour of a certain "jocose effu-

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