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PAGE 2

Second Paper On Murder
by [?]

The world was wrong there, as it has been on some other questions. Toad-in-the-hole might be sleeping, but dead he was not; and of that we soon had ocular proof. One morning in 1812, an amateur surprised us with the news that he had seen Toad-in-the-hole brushing with hasty steps the dews away to meet the postman by the conduit side. Even that was something: how much more, to hear that he had shaved his beard–had laid aside his sad-colored clothes, and was adorned like a bridegroom of ancient days. What could be the meaning of all this? Was Toad-in-the-hole mad? or how? Soon after the secret was explained–in more than a figurative sense “the murder was out.” For in came the London morning papers, by which it appeared that but three days before a murder, the most superb of the century by many degrees had occurred in the heart of London. I need hardly say, that this was the great exterminating chef-d’oeuvre of Williams at Mr. Marr’s, No. 29, Ratcliffe Highway. That was the debut of the artist; at least for anything the public knew. What occurred at Mr. Williamson’s twelve nights afterwards–the second work turned out from the same chisel–some people pronounced even superior. But Toad-in-the-hole always “reclaimed”–he was even angry at comparisons. “This vulgar gout de comparaison, as La Bruyere calls it,” he would often remark, “will be our ruin; each work has its own separate characteristics–each in and for itself is incomparable. One, perhaps, might suggest the Iliad–the other the Odyssey: what do you get by such comparisons? Neither ever was, or will be surpassed; and when you’ve talked for hours, you must still come back to that.” Vain, however, as all criticism might be, he often said that volumes might be written on each case for itself; and he even proposed to publish in quarto on the subject.

Meantime, how had Toad-in-the-hole happened to hear of this great work of art so early in the morning? He had received an account by express, dispatched by a correspondent in London, who watched the progress of art On Toady’s behalf, with a general commission to send off a special express, at whatever cost, in the event of any estimable works appearing–how much more upon occasion of a ne plus ultra in art! The express arrived in the night-time; Toad-in-the-hole was then gone to bed; he had been muttering and grumbling for hours, but of course he was called up. On reading the account, he threw his arms round the express, called him his brother and his preserver; settled a pension upon him for three lives, and expressed his regret at not having it in his power to knight him. We, on our part–we amateurs, I mean–having heard that he was abroad, and therefore had not hanged himself, made sure of soon seeing him amongst us. Accordingly he soon arrived, knocked over the porter on his road to the reading-room; he seized every man’s hand as he passed him–wrung it almost frantically, and kept ejaculating, “Why, now here’s something like a murder!–this is the real thing–this is genuine–this is what you can approve, can recommend to a friend: this–says every man, on reflection–this is the thing that ought to be!” Then, looking at particular friends, he said–“Why, Jack, how are you? Why, Tom, how are you? Bless me, you look ten years younger than when I last saw you.” “No, sir,” I replied, “It is you who look ten years younger.” “Do I? well, I should’nt wonder if I did; such works are enough to make us all young.” And in fact the general opinion is, that Toad-in-the-hole would have died but for this regeneration of art, which he called a second age of Leo the Tenth; and it was our duty, he said solemnly, to commemorate it. At present, and en attendant–rather as an occasion for a public participation in public sympathy, than as in itself any commensurate testimony of our interest–he proposed that the club should meet and dine together. A splendid public dinner, therefore, was given by the club; to which all amateurs were invited from a distance of one hundred miles.