Mr Croftangry's Conclusion.

         If you tell a good jest,
         And please all the rest,
           Comes Dingley, and asks you, ``What was it?''
         And before she can know,
         Away she will go
           To seek an old rag in the closet.
                                      Dean Swift.

  While I was inditing the goodly matter  which
my readers have just perused, I might  be  said  to  go
through a course of  breaking-in  to  stand  criticism,
like a shooting-pony to stand fire.  By some of
those venial breaches of confidence, which always
take place on the like occasions, my private flirtations
with the Muse of Fiction became a matter
whispered in Miss Fairscribe's circle, some ornaments,
of which were, I suppose, highly interested
in the progress of the affair, while others ``really
thought Mr Chrystal Croftangry might have had
more wit at his time of day.'' Then came the sly
intimation, the oblique remark, all that sugar-lipped
raillery which is fitted for the situation of a
man about to do a foolish thing, whether it be to
publish or to marry, and that accompanied with
the discreet nods and winks of such friends as are
in the secret, and the obliging eagerness of others
to know all about it.

  At length the affair became so far public, that I
was induced to face a tea-party with my manuscript
in my pocket, looking as simple and modest as any
gentleman of a certain age need to do upon such
an occasion.  When tea had been carried round,
handkerchiefs and smelling bottles prepared, I
had the honour of reading the Surgeon's Daughter,
for the entertainment of the evening.  It went
off excellently; my friend Mr Fairscribe, who had
been seduced from his desk to join the literary
circle, only fell asleep twice, and readily recovered
his attention by help of his snuff-box.  The ladies
were politely attentive, and when the cat, or the
dog, or a next neighbour, tempted an individual to
relax, Katie Fairscribe was on the alert, like an
active whipper-in, with look, touch, or whisper
to recall them to a sense of what was going on.  
Whether Miss Katie was thus active merely to
enforce the literary discipline of her coterie, or
whether she was really interested by the beauties
of the piece, and desirous to enforce them on others,
I will not venture to ask, in case I should end in
liking the girl---and she is really a pretty one---
better than wisdom would warrant, either for my
sake or hers.

  I must own, my story here and there flagged a
good deal; perhaps there were faults in my reading,
for while I should have been attending to nothing
but how to give the words effect as they existed,
I was feeling the chilling consciousness, that
they might have been, and ought to have been, a
great deal better.  However, we kindled up at last
when we got, to the East Indies, although on the
mention of tigers, an old lady, whose tongue had
been impatient for an hour, broke in with, ``I wonder
if Mr Croftangry ever heard the story of Tiger
Tullideph?'' and had nearly inserted the whole
narrative as an episode in my tale.  She was,
however, brought to reason, and the subsequent
mention of shawls, diamonds, turbans, and cummerbands,
had their usual effect in awakening the
imaginations of the fair auditors.  At the extinction
of the faithless lover in a way so horribly
new, I had, as indeed I expected, the good fortune
to excite that expression of painful interest, which
is produced by drawing in the breath through the
compressed lips; nay, one Miss of fourteen actually

  At length my task was ended, and the fair
circle rained odours upon me, as they pelt beaux
at the Carnival with sugar-plums, and drench them
with scented spices.  There was ``Beautiful,'' and
``Sweetly interesting,'' and ``O Mr Croftangry,''
and ``How much obliged,'' and ``What a delightful
evening,'' and ``O Miss Katie, how could
you keep such a secret so long!'' While the dear
souls were thus smothering me with rose-leaves,
the merciless old lady carried them all off by a
disquisition upon shawls, which she had the impudence
to say, arose entirely out of my story.  
Miss Katie endeavoured to stop the flow of her
eloquence in vain; she threw all other topics out
of the field, and from the genuine Indian, she made
a digression to the imitation shawls now made at
Paisley, out of real Thibet wool, not to be known
from the actual Country shawl, except by some
inimitable cross-stitch in the border.  ``It is well,''
said the old lady, wrapping herself up in a rich
Kashmire, ``that there is some way of knowing
a thing that cost fifty guineas from an article that
is sold for five; but I venture to say there are not
one out of ten thousand that would understand
the difference.''

  The politeness of some of the fair ladies would
now have brought back the conversation to the
forgotten subject of our meeting.  ``How could
you, Mr Croftangry, collect all these hard words
about India?---you were never there?''---``No,
madam, I have not had that advantage; but, like
the imitative operatives of Paisley, I have composed
my shawl by incorporating into the woof a
little Thibet wool, which my excellent friend and
neighbour, Colonel Mackerris, one of the best fellows
who ever trode a Highland moor, or dived into
an Indian jungle, had the goodness to supply
me with.''

  My rehearsal, however, though not absolutely
and altogether to my taste, has prepared me in
some measure for the less tempered and guarded
sentence of the world.  So a man must learn to
encounter a foil before he confronts a sword; and
to take up my original simile, a horse must be accustomed
to a _feu de joie_ before you can ride him
against a volley of balls.  Well, Corporal Nym's
philosophy is not the worst that has been preached,
``Things must be as they may.'' If my lucubrations
give pleasure, I may again require the
attention of the courteous reader; if not, here end