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[44] countenance, and you are to see in him all the restlessness of a will-oa — wisp, and all that fitful irregularity in his movements which you have heretofore appropriated to the pasteboard Merry Andrews whose limbs are jerked about with a wire. These you are to interpret as the natural indications of the impetuous and impatient character which a further acquaintance develops.

He enters a room with a countenance so satisfied, and a step so light and almost fantastic, that all your previous impressions of the dignity and severity of the ‘Edinburgh Review’ are immediately put to flight, and, passing at once to the opposite extreme, you might, perhaps, imagine him to be frivolous, vain, and supercilious. He accosts you, too, with a freedom and familiarity which may, perhaps, put you at your ease and render conversation unceremonious; but which, as I observed in several instances, were not very tolerable to those who had always been accustomed to the delicacy and decorum of refined society. Mr. Jeffrey, therefore, I remarked, often suffered from the prepossessions of those he met, before any regular conversation commenced, and almost before the tones of his voice were heard. It is not possible, however, to be long in his presence without understanding something of his real character,—for the same promptness and assurance which mark his entrance into a room carry him at once into conversation. The moment a topic is suggested—no matter what or by whom—he comes forth, and the first thing you observe is his singular fluency.

He bursts upon you with a torrent of remarks, and you are for some time so much amused with his earnestness and volubility, that you forget to ask yourself whether they have either appropriateness or meaning. When, however, you come to consider his remarks closely, you are surprised to find that, notwithstanding his prodigious rapidity, the current of his language never flows faster than the current of his thoughts. You are surprised to discover that he is never, like other impetuous speakers, driven to amplification and repetition in order to gain time to collect and arrange his ideas; you are surprised to find that, while his conversation is poured forth in such a fervor and tumult of eloquence that you can scarcely follow or comprehend it, it is still as compact and logical as if he were contending for a victory in the schools or for a decision from the bench.

After all this, however, you do not begin to understand Mr. Jeffreys character; for it is not until you become interested in the mere discussion, until you forget his earnestness, his volubility, and his skill, that you begin to feel something of the full extent of his powers.

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