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On Patronage And Puffing
by [?]

When I formerly had to do with these sort of critical verdicts, I was generally sent out of the way when any debutant had a friend at court, and was to be tenderly handled. For the rest, or those of robust constitutions, I had carte blanche given me. Sometimes I ran out of the course, to be sure. Poor Perry! what bitter complaints he used to make, that by running-a-muck at lords and Scotchmen I should not leave him a place to dine out at! The expression of his face at these moments, as if he should shortly be without a friend in the world, was truly pitiable. What squabbles we used to have about Kean and Miss Stephens, the only theatrical favourites I ever had! Mrs. Billington had got some notion that Miss Stephens would never make a singer, and it was the torment of Perry’s life (as he told me in confidence) that he could not get any two people to be of the same opinion on any one point. I shall not easily forget bringing him my account of her first appearance in the Beggar’s Opera. I have reason to remember that article: it was almost the last I ever wrote with any pleasure to myself. I had been down on a visit to my friends near Chertsey, and on my return had stopped at an inn near Kingston-upon-Thames, where I had got the Beggar’s Opera, and had read it over-night. The next day I walked cheerfully to town. It was a fine sunny morning, in the end of autumn, and as I repeated the beautiful song, ‘Life knows no return of Spring,’ I meditated my next day’s criticism, trying to do all the justice I could to so inviting a subject. I was not a little proud of it by anticipation. I had just then begun to stammer out my sentiments on paper, and was in a kind of honeymoon of authorship. But soon after, my final hopes of happiness and of human liberty were blighted nearly at the same time; and since then I have had no pleasure in anything–

And Love himself can flatter me no more.

It was not so ten years since (ten short years since.–Ah! how fast those years run that hurry us away from our last fond dream of bliss!) when I loitered along thy green retreats, O Twickenham! and conned over (with enthusiastic delight) the chequered view which one of thy favourites drew of human life! I deposited my account of the play at the Morning Chronicle office in the afternoon, and went to see Miss Stephens as Polly. Those were happy times, in which she first came out in this character, in Mandane, where she sang the delicious air, ‘If o’er the cruel tyrant, Love’ (so as it can never be sung again), in Love in a Village, where the scene opened with her and Miss Matthews in a painted garden of roses and honeysuckles, and ‘Hope, thou nurse of young Desire’ thrilled from two sweet voices in turn. Oh! may my ears sometimes still drink the same sweet sounds, embalmed with the spirit of youth, of health, and joy, but in the thoughts of an instant, but in a dream of fancy, and I shall hardly need to complain! When I got back, after the play, Perry called out, with his cordial, grating voice, ‘Well, how did she do?’ and on my speaking in high terms, answered, that ‘he had been to dine with his friend the Duke, that some conversation had passed on the subject, he was afraid it was not the thing, it was not the true sostenuto style; but as I had written the article’ (holding my peroration on the Beggar’s Opera carelessly in his hand), ‘it might pass!’ I could perceive that the rogue licked his lips at it, and had already in imagination ‘bought golden opinions of all sorts of people’ by this very criticism, and I had the satisfaction the next day to meet Miss Stephens coming out of the editor’s room, who had been to thank him for his very flattering account of her.