« AnteriorContinuar »
hair, and white eye-brows, looked silly, and nothing that he uttered gave the lie to his looks. The other, whom, by way of eminence I have called the Dane, had likewise white hair, but was much shorter than his brother, with slender limbs, and a very thin face slightly pock-fretten. This man convinced me of the justice of an old remark, that many a faithful portrait in our novels and farces has been rashly censured for an outrageous caricature, or perhaps nonentity. I had retired to my station in the boat—he came and seated himself by my side, and appeared not a little tipsy. He commenced the conversation in the most magnific style, and as a sort of pioneering to his own vanity, he flattered me with such grossness! The parasites of the old comedy were modest in the comparison. His language and accentuation were so exceedingly singular, that I determined for once in my
life to take notes of a conversation. Here it follows, somewhat abridged indeed, but in all other respects as accurately as my memory permitted.
The Dane. Vat imagination! vat language! vat vast science ! and vat eyes! vat a milk-vite forehead!-0
vy, you're a Got! ANSWER. You do me too much honour, Sir.
The Dane. O me! if you should dink I is flattering you !-No, no, no! I haf ten tousand a year-yes, ten tousand a year--yes, ten tousand pound a year! Vell-and vat is dhat? a
mere triflle! I 'ouldn't gif my sincere heart for ten times dhe money.—Yes, you're a Got! I a mere man! But, my dear friend! dhink of me, as a man! Is, is—I mean to ask you now, my dear friend—is I not very eloquent? Is I not speak English very fine ?
Answ. Most admirably! Believe me, Sir! I have seldom heard even a native talk so fluently.
THE DANE. (squeezing my hand with great vehemence) My dear friend! vat an affection and fidelity we have for each odher! But tell me, do tell me,- Is I not, now and den, speak some fault? Is I not in some wrong?
Answ. Why, Sir! perhaps it might be observed by nice critics in the English language, that you occasionally use the word “Is” instead of “am." In our best companies we generally say I am, and not I is or Ise. Excuse me, Sir! it is a mere trifle.
The Dane. O!-is, is, am, am, am. Yes, yes-I know, I know.
Answ. I am, thou art, he is, we are, ye are, they are.
Tue DANE. Yes, yes, I know, I knowAm, am, am, is dhe presens, and Is is dhe perfectum-yes, yes--and are is dhe plusquam perfectum.
ANSW, And “ Art,” Sir! is ?
The Dane. My dear friend! it is dhe plusquam perfectum, no, no-dhat is a great lie.
“ Are” is the plusquam perfectum-and “ art” is dhe plusquam plueperfectum—(then swinging my hand to and fro, and cocking his little bright hazle eyes at me, that danced with vanity and wine) You see, my dear friend! that I too have some lehrning
Answ. Learning, Sir ? Who dares suspect it? Who can listen to you for a minute, who can even look at you, without perceiving the extent of it?
THE DANE. My dear friend !-(then with a would-be humble look, and in a tone of voice as if he was reasoning) I could not talk so of presens and imperfectum, and futurum and plusquamplue perfectum, and all dhat, my dear friend! without some lehrning?
Answ. Sir! a man like you cannot talk on any subject without discovering the depth of his information.
The Dane. Dhe grammatic Greek, my friend! ha! ha! ha! (laughing, and swinging my hand to and fro-then with a sudden transition to great solemnity) Now I will tell you, my dear friend! Dhere did happen about me vat de whole historia of Denmark record no instance about nobody else. Dhe bishop did ask me all dhe questions about all dhe religion in dhe Latin grammar.
Answ. The grammar, Sir? The language, I presume
The Dane. (a little offended.) Grammar is language, and language is grammar
Answ. Ten thousand pardons !
The Dane. Vell, and I was only fourteen years—
Answ. Only fourteen years old ?
The Dane. No more. I vas fourteen years old—and he asked me all questions, religion and philosophy, and all in dhe Latin language -and I answered him all every one, my dear friend! all in dhe Latin language.
Answ. A Prodigy! an absolute prodigy!
The Dane. No, no, no! he was a bishop, a great superintendant.
Answ. Yes! a bishop.
The Dane. A bishop-not a mere predicant, not a prediger
Answ. My dear Sir! we have misunderstood each other. I said that your answering in Latin at so early an age was a prodigy, that is, a thing that is wonderful, that does not often happen.
THE DANE. Often! Dhere is not von instance recorded in dhe whole historia of Denmark.
Answ. And since then Sir?
The Dane. I was sent ofer to dhe Vest Indies-to our Island, and dhere I had no more to do vid books. No! no! I put my genius another way—and I haf made ten tousand pound a year. Is not dhat ghenius, my dear
friend !-But vat is money! I dhink the poorest man alive my equal. Yes, my dear friend!
my little fortune is pleasant to my generous heart, because I can do good—no man with so little a fortune ever did so much generosity-no person, no man person, no woman person ever denies it. But we are all Got's children.
Here the Hanoverian interrupted him, and the other Dane, the Swede, and the Prussian, joined us, together with a young Englishman who spoke the German fluently, and interpreted to me many of the Prussian's jokes. The Prussian was a travelling merchant, turned of threescore, a hale man, tall, strong, and stout, full of stories, gesticulations, and buffoonery with the soul as well as the look of a mountebank, who, while he is making you laugh, picks your pocket. Amid all his droll looks and droll gestures, there remained one look untouched by laughter; and that one look was the true face, the others were but its mask. The Hanoverian was a pale, fat, bloated young man, whose father had made a large fortune in London, as an army-contractor. He seemed to emulate the manners of young Englishmen of fortune. He was a good-natured fellow, not without information or literature; but a most egregious coxcomb. He had been in the habit of attending the House of Commons, and had once spoken, as he informed me, with great applause in a debating society. For this