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[196] that he likes Sam Weller because he thinks him rather original, Mr. Magnus doubtingly replies that for himself he doesn't like anything original-doesn't see the necessity for it. The public is always ready enough to doubt the necessity for it, and almost to resent the introduction of any combination which is not to be found at every street corner. A friend of mine spent a summer in a large old house in a seaport town, where he had lived for weeks before discovering that a closed door opposite his chamber door led to a concealed stairway which wound from the basement to the attic, and was now unused. It was a relic of the old period of smuggling and privateering for which that town had once been famous; but it so haunted my friend's imagination that he wrote a romance about it. The critics all agreed that there were some good things about the story, but that the device of a secret stairway — the thing which really suggested the whole book — was wholly far-fetched and unreasonable. I suppose that whosoever ventures on the uncommonplace must say to himself in advance, as the Duke of Wellington is reported to have said when meditating the publication of his memoirs, “I should like to speak the truth, but if I do I shall be torn in pieces.” The question is, whether it is not worth the risk.

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