Chapter 4

Notwithstanding the Captain thought he had got quit of Teague, in the matter of the press, he had still some trouble; for the bog-trotter was dissatisfied. He had a hankering after the press still, and talked of taking up subscriptions. To put him off, the Captain suggested the publishing his travels. Teague, said he, if many a man had what you have in your power, he would make a fortune by it. You have been in the Conciergerie. That, of itself, might make a chapter that would fill a volume. If you take up subscriptions, why not for such a work as that? It will sell for a ready penny these times; I would advise you to go about it.

Och, on my shoul, said Teague, but it would make a book as big as the praists’ bible, if I was to tell all dat I saw on toder side de great water, In dat great country, old France; where de paple talk all at once wid de brogue on deir tongues, and say nothing. The devil burn me, but deir foutres, and parbleus, would make a book, as big as a church staple.

Well done Teague, said the Captain; you must then set about it. The first thing it will behoove you to consider, is the manner in which it will be written; whether your narration shall be in the first person, as, “I did this,” and “I did that;” or whether in the third person, as it were one speaking of you, as, “O'Regan having done so, and made an observation to this effect.” And whether it shall be in the way of continued narrative, with chapters, or in the shape of a journal, or be cast in the way of letter. For all these modes of writing are used as best suits the traveller; or may be thought most pleasing to the reader. One advantage you will have, that you need not stick pertinaciously to the truth; for travellers have a licence to deviate; and they are not considered as on oath, or upon honour in giving their accounts. Embellishment is allowable, some illumination of their story: though, confining yourself to the truth strictly, I make no doubt, your story will be sufficiently extravagant, and of course border on the marvellous.

The fact was, that the bog-trotter had incidents sufficient to enliven his history. He had been in the suit of Anacharsis Cloots, and personated an Esquimaux Indian; he had been taken up in a balloon some distance from the earth, and let down by a parachute, instead of a sheep. It is true, this was not with his own consent, but by force; the Parisian thinking it of little account whether the experiment was made with him or a less valuable animal. It is true, to make amends for this, a royalist lady fell in love with him, thinking he had a resemblance to the young duke of Orleans. He had made a fortunate escape in the conciergerie. A prisoner in the next cell, No. 1, finding the letter G put upon his door, which stands for guillotine; exchanged for a few louis’s with O’Regan, 2. But an order came to reprieve No. 1, and to take No. 2, meaning the bog-trotter. The consequence was, that the Frenchman was put into the cart, and our sans culotte escaped.

It would make a book, as has been said, to exhaust these particulars, and many more that occurred. The Captain having recommended the work, was concerned to have it accomplished with some credit to those concerned, and therefore thought it advisable to give the author some hints before he entered on the task.

Teague, said he, the first thing to be thought of, is a place to write. The extremes are two, the cellar, and the garret. The cellar was chosen by an orator of Greece, to write his orations, or at least prepare for the writing them; for in this, he is said to have copied over eight times the history of Thucidydes. Whether it is the darkness, or the solitude of the cavern, that is congenial to the talent of writing, may be a question. I should think, however, that the aerial mansion of a garret is most favourable to the lighter species of writing such as madrigals; or paragraphs in magazines, or novels. But as yours is a serious work, it may be above the subterranean, and below the firmament. Perhaps a middle story may suffice. It will depend, however, on your head. If you find yourself light, go down; if heavy, mount; and thus adjust your apartment to your feelings. The wasps choose the garret; but the spider is found sometimes in the cellar; and his weaving is an emblem of the composition of an author.

As to style, just write as you would speak, and give your account with simplicity, without affectation; understanding your subject well, and using no more words, than are necessary to express your meaning.

As to paper whether common or woven; or as to type, whether single or double pica; these are terms I do not understand. I see them in the advertisements, and that is all I know about them. Whether duodecimo, octavo, or folio, will depend upon the bulk of what is to be printed.