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Señorita: the parting interview held in the orange-bower was affecting: Donna Isabella, with dishevelled hair, threw herself at his feet; the tears streamed from her eyes: in liquid tones, broken by grief, she implored him to relent-reminded him of her love, of her trust in him, and of the consequences-now not much longer to be concealed-of that love and trust; ("though I protest," Bolus would say, "I don't know what she meant exactly by that"). "Gentlemen," Bolus continued, "I confess to the weakness-I wavered-but then my eyes happened to fall on the breast-pin with a lock of my mother's hair-I recovered my courage: I shook her gently from me. I felt my last hold on earth was loosened-my last hope of peace destroyed. Since that hour my life has been a burden. Yes, gentlemen, you see before you a broken man-a martyr to his religion. But away with these melancholy thoughts: boys, pass around the jorum." And wiping his eyes he drowned the wasting sorrow in a long draught of the poteen, and, being much refreshed, was able to carry the burden on a little further -videlicet, to the next lie.
It must not be supposed that Bolus was destitute of the tame virtue of prudence or that this was confined to the avoidance of the improvident habit of squandering his money in paying old debts. He took reasonably good care of his person. He avoided all unnecessary exposures chiefly from a patriotic desire, probably, of continuing his good offices to his country. His recklessness was, for the most part, lingual. To hear his talk one might suppose he held his carcass merely for a target to try guns and knives upon; or that the business of his life was to draw men up to ten paces or less, for sheer improvement in marksmanship. Such exploits as he had gone through with dwarfed the heroes of romance to very pigmy and sneaking proportions. Pistol at the Bridge when
he bluffed at honest Fluellen might have envied the swashbuckler airs Ovid would sometimes put on. But I never could exactly identify the place he had laid out for his burying-ground. Indeed, I had occasion to know that he declined to understand several not very ambiguous hints upon which he might, with as good a grace as Othello, have spoken, not to mention one or two pressing invitations which his modesty led him to refuse. I do not know that the base sense of fear had anything to do with these declinations: possibly he might have thought he had done his share of fighting, and did not wish to monopolize: or his principles forbade it-I mean those which opposed his paying a debt: knowing he could not cheat that inexorable creditor, Death, of his claim, he did the next thing to it—which was to delay and shirk payment as long as possible.
It remains to add a word of criticism on this great Lyric artist.
In lying, Bolus was not only a successful, but he was a very able practitioner. Like every other eminent artist, he brought all his faculties to bear upon his art. Though quick of perception and prompt of invention, he did not trust himself to the inspirations of his genius for improvising a lie when he could well premeditate one. He deliberately built up the substantial masonry, relying upon the occasion and its accessories chiefly for embellishment and collateral supports: as Burke excogitated the more solid parts of his great speeches, and left unprepared only the illustrations and fancy-work.
Bolus's manner was, like every truly great man's, his own. It was excellent. He did not come blushing up to a lie, as some otherwise very passable liars do, as if he were making a mean compromise between his guilty passion or morbid vanity and a struggling conscience. Bolus had long since settled all disputes with his conscience. He and it were on very good
terms-at least, if there was no affection between the couple, there was no fuss in the family; or, if there were any scenes or angry passages, they were reserved for strict privacy and never got out. My own opinion is, that he was as destitute of the article as an ostrich. Thus he came to his work bravely, cheerfully, and composedly. The delights of composition, invention, and narration did not fluster his style or agitate his delivery. He knew how, in the tumult of passion, to assume the "temperance to give it smoothness." A lie never ran away with him, as it is apt to do with young performers: he could always manage and guide it; and to have seen him fairly mounted would have given you some idea of the polished elegance of D'Orsay and the superb manage of Murat. There is a tone and manner of narration different from those used in delivering ideas just conceived; just as there is a difference between the sound of the voice in reading and in speaking. Bolus knew this, and practised on it. When he was narrating, he put the facts in order, and seemed to speak them out of his memory; but not formally, or as if by rote. He would stop himself to correct a date; recollect he was wrong-he was that year at the White Sulphur or Saratoga, etc.: having got the date right, the names of persons present would be incorrect, etc.: and these he corrected in turn. A stranger hearing him would have feared the marring of a good story by too fastidious a conscientiousness in the narrator.
His zeal in pursuit of a lie under difficulties was remarkable. The society around him—if such it could be called-was hardly fitted, without some previous preparation, for an immediate introduction to Almack's or the classic precincts of Gore House. The manners of the natives were rather plain than ornate, and candor rather than polish predominated in their conversation. Bolus had need of some forbearance to withstand the interrup
tions and cross-examinations with which his revelations were sometimes received. But he possessed this in a remarkable degree. I recollect on one occasion when he was giving an account of a providential escape he was signally favored with (when boarded by a pirate off the Isle of Pines, and he pleaded masonry, and gave a sign he had got out of the Disclosures of Morgan) Tom Johnson interrupted him to say that he had heard that before (which was more than Bolus had ever done). B. immediately rejoined that he had, he believed, given him, Tom, a running sketch of the incident. "Rather," said Tom, "I think a lying sketch." Bolus scarcely smiled as he replied that Tom was a wag, and couldn't help turning the most serious things into jests; and went on with his usu brilliancy to finish the narrative. Bolus Bolus did not overcrowd his canvas. His figures were never confused, and the subordinates and accessories did not withdraw attention from the main and substantive lie. He never squandered his lies profusely: thinking, with the poet, that "bounteous, not prodigal, is kind Nature's hand," he kept the golden mean between penuriousness and prodigality; never stingy of his lies, he was not wasteful of them, but was rather forehanded than pushed or embarrassed, having usually fictitious stock to be freshly put on 'change when he wished to "make a raise." In most of his fables he inculcated but a single leading idea, but contrived to make the several facts of the narrative fall in very gracefully with the principal scheme.
The rock on which many promising young liars, who might otherwise have risen to merited distinction, have split, is vanity: this marplot vice betrays itself in the exultation manifested on the occasion of a decided hit, an exultation too inordinate for mere recital, and which betrays authorship; and to betray authorship in the present barbaric, moral, and
intellectual condition of the world is fatal. True, there seems to be some inconsistency here. Dickens and Bulwer can do as much lying, for money too, as they choose, and no one blame them, any more than they would blame a lawyer regularly fee'd to do it; but let any man, gifted with the same genius, try his hand at it, not deliberately and in writing, but merely orally, and ugly names are given him, and he is proscribed! Bolus heroically suppressed exultation over the victories his lies achieved.
Alas! for the beautiful things of Earth, its flowers, its sunsets its lovely girls-its lies-brief and fleeting are their date. Lying is a very delicate accomplishment. It must be tenderly cared for and jealously guarded. It must not be overworked. Bolus forgot this salutary caution. The people found out his art. However dull the commons are as to other matters, they get sharp enough, after a while, to whatever concerns their bread and butter. Bolus not having confined his art to political matters, sounded, at last, the depths, and explored the limits of popular credulity. The denizens of this degenerate age had not the disinterestedness of Prince Hal, who "cared not how many fed at his cost"; they got tired, at last, of promises to pay. The credit system, common before as pump-water, adhering, like the elective franchise, to every voter, began to take the worldly wisdom of Falstaff's mercer, and ask security; and security liked something more substantial than plausible promises. In this forlorn condition of the country, returning to its savage state, and abandoning the refinements of a ripe Anglo-Saxon civilisation for the sordid safety of Mexican or Chinese modes of traffic; deserting the sweet simplicity of its ancient trustingness and the poetic illusions of Augustus Tomlinson for the vulgar saws of poor Richard-Bolus, with a sigh like that breathed out by his great