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CHAPTER XI.

Joseph extends bis acquaintance with authors and publishers

A dinner scene-Unpleasant discoveries on the following day.

As it was generally known among the literary men of the metropolis, that the majority of the reviews of new books which appeared in the daily journal with which Joseph was connected, proceeded from his pen, authors and publishers became desirous of forming a personal acquaintance with him; knowing that a little attention from them was not likely to render his notices of their works less favourable. author, Mr. Norman (who was also a partner in a publishing establishment), Joseph's intimacy ripened into friendship. Mr. Norman was a person quite to his taste. He was a man

With one

of cultivated mind, pleasing manners, freethinking opinions, and by no means encumbered with very rigid notions of morality. He kept a splendid establishment; far more splendid, indeed, than his means warranted. That, however, was nothing to him. If he could only obtain the needful credit, or, as he himself expressed it, could but “keep the top a-spinning," he cared not to what extent his creditors might suffer. He was self-willed in his conduct, and fancied, that to assume an independent bearing was to make himself a man of importance. He was in the habit of giving expensive dinners, to which Joseph was almost invariably invited. One day, about five years after the accession of George the Fourth, Mr. Norman determined to give an unusually large and splendid dinner. Being a bachelor, no ladies were present. The party included some of the most celebrated authors of the day, two or three publishers, and an officer of superior rank and high standa ing in the army. The cloth having been re

moved, a gentleman who sat on the right of Mr. Norman, proposed, as the first toast, the health of the King

“Oh, the King !” exclaimed Mr. Norman; "give us something else.”

"Order! order!" shouted several voices at once. A hum of suppressed disapprobation was heard at all parts of the table; while Captain Royston, not knowing, in the confusion of the moment, whom the gentleman was who had uttered the offensive exclamation, cried, in stentorian accents, “Turn him out!"

“What!” exclaimed Norman, almost choking with

rage; “what! turn me out of my own house! Who is the fellow who

says

he'll turn me out?" “I am the fellow," answered the captain, springing to his feet.

“Sir, say that again, and I'll knock your head to atoms." And, as he spoke, and without waiting to see whether the captain would repeat the words, he snatched a large crystal bottle full of wine, and was in the act of aiming it at the other —who sat some yards distant from him—when a Mr. Sherwin, who was next to him, seized his arm, and, with inimitable coolness, while all the rest of the company were worked up to a state of great excitement, said, “Don't you think, Mr. Norman, we had better empty the bottle before you throw it?”

Very well,” responded Mr. Norman, mechanically, as if scarcely•conscious of what he was saying

“Don't you think, Mr. Norman,” pursued Mr. Sherwin, after an interval of a few seconds, " that

you

had better not throw it at all ?” Very well,” replied the other, in the same mechanical way as before.

“Don't you think, Mr. Norman, you had better sit down ?"

Mr. Norman sat down.

" I'm quite sure it has been a mistake all through,” resumed Mr. Sherwin; “ Mr. Norman meant no disrespect to our beloved King.'

“Certainly not,” said Mr. Norman.

“It was a mere thoughtless ejaculation, uttered in the forgetfulness of the moment."

Mr. Norman nodded assent.

“And I am quite sure,” addressing himself to Captain Royston, “the gallant officer does not seriously mean to turn our excellent host out of his own house. It was merely a threat uttered on the impulse of the instant, and in the commendable exuberance of his loyalty."

“Hear, hear," cried a dozen voices at once; but that of the captain was not heard among the number.

“I am perfectly sure, captain,” resumed Mr. Sherwin, “that you do not now mean anything offensive to Mr. Norman."

Certainly not, Mr. Sherwin. Mr. Norman has handsomely disclaimed intending anything disrespectful to the Sovereign whom I have the honour to serve, and I therefore retract the expression."

Suppose we now drink the Sovereign's health," said Mr. Sherwin,

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