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BY A FRIEND OF THE LATE ELIA.
THIS poor gentleman, who for some months past had been in a declining way, hath at length paid his final
tribute to nature.
To say truth, it is time he were gone. The humour of the thing, if there ever was much in it, was pretty well exhausted; and a two years' and a half existence has been a tolerable duration for a phantom.
I am now at liberty to confess, that much which I have heard objected to my late friend's writings was well founded. Crude they are, I grant you-a sort of unlicked, incondite things-villanously pranked in an affected array of antique modes and phrases. They had not been his if they had been other than such; and better it is that a writer should be natural in a self-pleasing quaintness, than to affect a naturalness (so called) that should be strange to him. Egotistical they have been pronounced by some who did not know that what he tells us, as of himself, was often true only (historically) of another; as in a former essay (to save many instances) -where, under the first person, (his favourite figure,) he shadows forth the forlorn estate of a country-boy placed at a London school, far from his friends and connexionsin direct opposition to his own early history. If it be egotism to imply and twine with his own identity the griefs and affections of another-making himself many, or reducing many unto himself-then is the skilful novelist, who all along brings in his hero or heroine, speaking of themselves, the greatest egotist of all; who yet has never, therefore, been accused of that narrowness. And how shall the intenser dramatist escape being faulty, who doubtless, under cover of passion uttered by another, oftentimes gives blameless vent to his most inward feel ings, and expresses his own story modestly?
My late friend was in many respects a singular char