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The Reader will correct with his Pen the three following ERRATA:
Page 75, first column, line 29, delete" not."
Page 83, second column, line 30, after "foretold," add "in the Nautical Almanack.”
HONOURED MR NORTH,
You need not shrug your shoulders at the commencement of this epistle. I know well enough how great a bore, as your modern young gentlemen ele gantly term it, it is, in general, to tell one's dreams. "Babbling dreams," Shakspeare calls them; and, to be sure, for the most part, they have all the disadvantage of fiction, joined to the triteness of common-place reality. But this that I am going to give you is, as far as I can see, as agreeable as any realities I have to send you at present from Gowks-Hall, excepting, peradventure, the smoked flitch which accompanies this, and which Dinah says, she hopes is quite equal to that you liked so well when you did us the honour to stop a day or two last back end. However, I must not wander from my subject, considering that I am now only relating a dream, and not dreaming one. Well, I had got comfortably settled the other night, in the old stuffed arm-chair by the fire, after having, at last, sent off to bed your friend Roger, who had been deafening us all the evening with practising "Tantivy," "Up in the morning early," and "the Lass of Livingstone," upon the old French hunting-horn that hangs in the hall; and sister Dinah had left me to enjoy my pipe, ewe-milk cheese, and jug of mulled October, (old John has made a capital brewage of it this year, Mr North, you'll be glad to hear), together with a volume of Anderson's Poets, when, somehow or other, I dropped asleep.
Then followed the oddest vision that ever I knew or heard of, all as regular as clock-work, as one may say.
Methought I found myself, all at once, in a long room, with a gallery, like a concert-room, and that, in the gallery, was an audience, as for a concert. I thought, however, that I was in the body of the room, and not in the gallery, and there came in to me a whole company of people, with musical instruments in their hands, whom I knew at once, I cannot tell how, to be poets. To be sure, some of them had an out-of-the-world look enoughbut there's no accounting for these things in dreams. There they all stood at their music-stands, as natural as the life, just as fiddlers do; and, as I remembered, they first all played together the sweetest and wildest harmony I ever heard: indeed, it seemed quite supernatural, and put me into a sort of amaze, and made me gasp for breath, with a feeling such as one recollects to have had, when a boy, in a swing whilst on the return. After that they chimed in, one by one, to play solos, I think, the musicians call them; and some, whose turns were far off, I thought, stood about and came near me, and appeared very affable and familiar. The oddest thing was, that I always knew perfectly who played, though how I came by the knowledge I cannot tell.
The first that played was a pale noble-looking man, whom I knew at first sight to be L-d B-n, and he gave us a solo on the serpent, such as
are used in military bands. One would think this was a strange instrument to play solos upon-but such playing you never heard; he seemed to have such command over it, that he could make it almost as soft and mellow as a flute; and the depth and beautiful inflections of his lower tones were miraculous. I sometimes could not help feeling a mistiness about the eyes, and a heavy palpitation of the heart. Perhaps the ewe-milk cheese and mulled October might have something to do with this-but there's no accounting for any thing in dreams. After him a well-dressed gentleman, who was no other than Mr C-mp-ll, gave us a sonata on the violin, which he played very scientifically, though, to my mind, he seemed very timorous, and played a weak bow. However, he got plenty of applause, both from his companions and the spectators in the gallery.
He had hardly finished, when up stalked a grave, plain-looking man, with a sort of absent air, and his hair combed smoothly over his forehead, something like a methodist preacher. He would have neither music-book nor music-stand, nor did I see any instrument he had-when, to my astonishment, I overheard somebody whisper, "W-dsw-th's going to give us a grand concerto on the Jews'-harp he bought last week of a philosophical Jew pedlar from Kirby Steven." And so he did; and, what is more, the concerto was well worth the hearing. You would not believe, Mr North, what tones he brought out of his gew gaw, as we call it in this country-side. The man at Liverpool was nothing to him. He got thunders of applause, though I could see some laughed, and some few sneered, and some wicked wag had the impudence to call out, "well done, smouch!" I rather sus pected that this came from some of the poets about me, for I saw L-d B- -n and little M-re laughing, behind, as if they would split. How ever, it evidently vexed Mr W-dsw-th sadly, for he turned away in a pet, and walked into a corner,-which occasioned a sort of pause. In the corner where he went stood a very antique looking, magnificent organ, to which he sat down; and, on looking more intently, I discovered the name of Milton in gilt letters on the front, from which I inferred that it had formerly belonged to him. Mr
W-dsw-th, to shew, I suppose, that he could play if he chose, struck a bar or two in such grand Miltonic style, as immediately silenced the laughers.
Order, however, was not long kept, for little M-re's jokes were not to be suppressed, even during Mr S-th-y's grand Maestoso flourish on the trumpet. The trumpet was an old one, having been used ever since Queen Elizabeth's time in the coronation of our sovereigns; and, from an unfortunate bruise or two, had begun, as Mr M-re observed, sound a little flat." Perhaps even Mr S-th-y's powers had not quite done justice to it; for, though a promising musician, he had taken up this instrument rather late in life; nor had his former practice been such as to afford him much facility in the attainment of execution upon it. This, at least, was little M-re's account, repeated, with divers significant shrugs and half nods, to a listening circle. He concluded by saying, "he would have advised the L-te to have kept to that ancient scripture instrument, the sackbut." Mr S-th-y however concluded, in the midst of great plaudits, and after he had finished, the amusement ran still higher. What could equal my astonishment, when I beheld Mr C-le-dge, after an eloquent disquisition on the powers of "this novel, but admirable and simple instrument," sit down to play a Phantasia, with a skewer upon a gridiron, which he called "the dulcimer of nature." Who would have dreamed of producing music from such a thing? Yet C-le-dge did so. The applause was immense-L--d B-n clapped immoderately; and even Mr J-ff-y, who was in the front of the gallery, loudly called, "encore," in his odd tone, between jest and earnest. this extraordinary exhibition was not the only display of Mr C-le-dge's singular genius. He favoured us with a specimen of his manner of playing the Eolian harp, which he did by breathing into it. Nay, for the gratification of the company, he thus played himself to sleep, and produced a most capital bass accompaniment by snoring. When he awaked, which he did in about ten minutes, he proceeded to maintain that "a hair and cinder" was one of the finest instruments that human wit ever invented;