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farther into it, because we think the advertiser would hardly have the impudence to hazard such barefaced absurdities without some foundation. Such is the strength of the association between words and things in the mind--so much oftener' must our credulity have been justified by the event than imposed upon. If every second story we heard was an invention, we should lose our mechanical disposition to trust to the ineaning of sounds, just as when we have met with a number of counterfeit pieces of coin, we suspect good ones; but our implicit assent to what we hear is a proof how much more sincerity and good faith there is in the sum total of our dealings with one another, than artifice and imposture.
• To elevate and surprise” is the great art of quackery and puffing; to raise a lively and exaggerated image in the mind, and take it by surprise before it can recover breath, as it were; so that by having been caught in the trap, it is unwilling to retract entirely--has a secret desire to find itself in the right, and a determination to see whether it is or not. Describe a picture as lofty, imposing, and grand, these words excite certain ideas in the mind like the sound of a trumpet, which are not to be quelled, except by seeing the picture itself, nor even then if it is viewed by the help of a catalogue, written expressly for the occasion by the artist himself. It is not to be supposed that he would say such things of his picture, unless they were allowed by all the world ; and he repeats them, on this gentle understanding, till all the world allows them*. So reputation runs in a vicious circle, and merit limps behind it, mortified and abashed at its own insignificance. It has been said that the test of fame or popularity is to consider the number of times your name is repeated by others, or is brought to their recollection in the course of a year. At this rate, a man has his reputation in his own hands, and by the help of puffing and the press, may forestall the voice of posterity, and stun the “groundling" ear of his contemporaries. A name let off in your hearing continually, with some bouncing epithet affixed to it, startles you like the report of a pistol close at your ear: you cannot help the effect upon the imagination, though you know it is perfectly harmless—vox et præterea nihil. So, if you see the same name staring you in the face in great letters, at the corner of every street, you involuntarily think the owner of it must be a great man to occupy so large a space in the eye of the town. The appeal is made, in the first instance, to the senses, but it sinks below the surface into the mind. There are some, indeed, who publish their own disgrace, and make their names a common by-word and nuisance, notoriety being all that they want. A quack gets himself surreptitiously dubbed Doctor or Knight; and though you may laugh in his face, it pays expenses. Parolles, and his drum typify many a modern adventurer, and court-candidate, for unearned laurels and unblushing honours. Of all puffs, lottery-puffs are the most ingenious and most innocent. A collection of them would make an amusing Vade mecum. They are still various and the same, with that infinite ruse with which they lull the reader at the outset out of all suspicion, the insinuating turn in the middle, the home-thrust at the ruling passion at last, by which your spare cash is conjured clean out of the pocket in spite of resolution, by the same stale, well-known, thousandth-time repeated, artifice of All prizes and No blanks—a self-evident imposition! Nothing, however, can be a stronger proof of the power of fascinating the public judgment through the eye alone. I know a gentleman
* It is calculated that West cleared some hundred pounds by the catalogues that sold of his great picture of Death riding on the pale Horse
who amassed a considerable fortune (so as to be able to keep his carriage) by printing nothing but lottery placards and hand-bills of a colossal size. Another friend of mine (of no mean talents) was applied to (as a snug thing in the way of business) to write regular lotterypuffs for a large house in the city, and on having a parcel of samples returned on his hands as done in too severe and terse a style, complained quaintly enough, “ That modest merit never could succeed!” Even Lord Byron, as he tells us, has been accused of writing lottery-puffs. There are various ways of playing one's self off before the public, and keeping one's name alive. The newspapers, the lamp-posts, the walls of empty houses, the shutters of windows, the blank covers of magazines and reviews, are open to every one. I have heard of a man of literary celebrity sitting in his study writing letters of remonstrance to himself, on the gross defects of a plan of education he had just published, and which remained unsold on the bookseller's counter. An. other feigned himself dead in order to see what would be said of him in the newspapers, and to excite a sensation in this way. A flashy pamphlet has been run to a five-and-thirtieth edition, and thus ensured the writer a “ deathless date” among political charlatans, by regularly striking off a new title-page to every fifty or a hundred copies that were sold. This is a vile practice. It is an erroneous idea got abroad (and which I will contradict here) that paragraphs are paid for in the leading Journals. It is quite out of the question. A favourable notice of an author, an actress, &c. may be inserted through interest or to oblige a friend, but it must invariably be done for love, not money!
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-amuck 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 opi.