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her complexion, than I to suit my club to my temper, for I was too obstinate to bring my temper to conform to its
The first club I entered upon coming to town, was that of the Choice Spirits. The name was entirely suited to my taste; I was a lover of mirth, good-humour, and even sometimes of fun, from my childhood.
As no other passport was requisite but the payment of two shillings at the door, I introduced myself without farther ceremony to the members, who were already assembled, and had for some time begun upon business. The Grand, with a mallet in his hand, presided at the head of the table. I could not avoid, upon my entrance, making use of all my skill in physiognomy, in order to discover that superiority of genius in men, who had taken a title so superior to the rest of mankind. I expected to see the lines of every face marked with strong thinking: but though I had some skill in this science, I could for my life discover nothing but a pert simper, fat, or profound stu. pidity.
My speculations were soon interrupted by the Grand, who had knocked down Mr. Spriggins for a song. I was upon this whispered by one of the company who sat next me, that I should now see something touched off to a nicety, for Mr. Spriggins was going to give us Mad Tom in all its glory. Mr. Spriggins endeavoured to excuse himself; for, as he was to act a madman and a king, it was impossible to go through the part properly without a crown and chains. His excuses were over-ruled by a great majority, and with much vociferation. The president ordered up the jack-chain, and instead of a crown, our performer covered his brows with an inverted jordan. After he had rattled his chain, and shook his head, to the great delight of the whole company, he began his song. As I have heard few young fellows offer to sing in company that did not expose themselves, it was no great disappointment to me to find Mr. Spriggins among the number; however not to seem an odd fish, I rose from my seat in rapture, cried out, bravo! encore ! and slapped the table as loud as any of the rest.
The gentleman who sat next me seemed highly pleased with my taste and the ardour of my approbation; and
whispering told me that I had suffered an immense loss; for had I come a few minutes sooner, I might have heard Gee ho Dobbin sung in a tip-top manner by the pimplenosed spirit at the president's right elbow: but he was evaporated before I came.
As I was expressing my uneasiness at this disappointment, I found the attention of the company employed upon a fat figure, who, with a voice more rough than the Staffordshire giant's, was giving us the Softly Sweet in Lydian measure of Alexander's Feast. After a short pause of admiration, to this succeeded a Welch dialogue with the humours of Teague and Taffy : after that came on Old Jackson, with a story between every stanza : next was sung the Dust-cart, and then Solomon's Song. The glass began now to circulate pretty freely ; those who were silent when sober, would now be heard in their turn; every man had his song, and he saw no reason why he should not be heard as well as any of the rest : one begged to be heard while he gave Death and the Lady in high taste ; another sung to a plate which he kept trundling on the edges; nothing was now heard but singing ; voice rose above voice, till the whole became one universal shout, when the landlord came to acquaint the company that the reckoning was drank out. Rabelais calls the moments in which a reckoning is mentioned, the most melancholy of our lives : never was so much noise so quickly quelled, as by this short, but pathetic oration of our landlord : drank out was echoed in a tone of discontent round the table: drank out already! that was very odd! that so much punch could be drank out already : impossible! The landlord, however, seeming resolved not to retreat from his first assurances, the company was dissolved, and a president chosen for the night ensuing.
A friend of mine, to whom I was complaining some time after of the entertainment I have been describing, proposed to bring me to the club that he frequented ; which he fancied would suit the gravity of my temper exactly. * We have at the Muzzy Club," says he,
no riotous « mirth nor awkward ribaldry; no confusion or bawling; “ all is conducted with wisdom and decency: besides some " of our members are worth forty thousand pounds; men
6 troduce you."
« of prudence and foresight every one of them : these are “ the proper acquaintance, and to such I will to-night in
I was charmed at the proposal : to be acquainted with men worth forty thousand pounds, and to talk wisdom the whole night, were offers that threw me into rapture.
At seven o'clock I was accordingly introduced by my friend, not indeed to the company : for though I made my best bow, they seemed insensible of my approach, but to the table at which they were sitting. Upon my entering the room, I could not avoid feeling a secret veneration from the solemnity of the scene before me; the members kept a profound silence, each with a pipe in his mouth and a pewter pot in his hand, and with faces that might easily be construed into absolute wisdom. Happy society, thought I to myself, where the members think before they speak, deliver nothing rashly, but convey their thoughts to each other pregnant with meaning, and matured by reflection.
In this pleasing speculation I continued a full half hour, expecting each moment that some body would begin to open his mouth; every time the pipe was laid down I expected it was to speak; but it was only to spit. At length resolving to break the charm myself, and overcome their extreme diffidence, for to this I imputed their silence; I rubbed my hands, and looking as wise as possible, observed that the nights began to grow a little coolish at this time of the year. This, as it was directed to none of the company in particular, none thought himself obliged tu answer; wherefore I continued still to rub my hands and look wise. My next effort was addressed to a gentleman who sat next me; to whom I observed, that the beer was extremely good: my neighbour made no reply, but by a large puff of tobacco-smoke.
I now began to be uneasy in this dumb society, till one .of them a little relieved me by observing that bread had not risen these three weeks: “ Ay,” says another, still keeping the pipe in his mouth, “ that puts me in mind of
a pleasant story about that........hem........ very well; you “ must know.....but, before I begin.....Sir, my service to s you..... Where was I ?”
My next club goes by the name of the Harmonical Society; probably from that love of order and friendship which every person commends in institutions of this nature. The landlord was himself founder. The money spent is four pence each ; and they sometimes whip for a double reckoning. To this club few recommendations are requisite, except the introductory lour pence and my landlord's good word, which, as he gains by it, he never refuses.
We all here talked and behaved as every body else usually does on his club-night; we discussed the topic of the day, drank each others' healths, snuffed the candles with our fingers, and filled our pipes from the same plate of tobacco. The company saluted each other in the common manner. Mr. Bellows-mender hoped Mr. Curry-combmaker had not caught cold going home the last club-night; and he returned the compliment by hoping that young Master Bellows-mender had got well again of the chinccuigh. Doctor 'Twist told us a story of a parliament-man with whom he was intimately acquainted; while the bugman, at the same time, was telling a better story of a noa ble lord with whom he could do any thing. A gentleman in a black wig and leather breeches at the other end of the table was engaged in a long narrative of the Ghost in Cock-lane : he had read it in the papers of the day, and was telling it to some that sat next him, who could not read. Near him Mr. Dibbins was disputing on the old subject of religion, with a Jew pedlar, over the table, while the president vainly knocked down Mr. Leathersides for a song. Besides the combinations of these voices, which I could hear altogether, and which formed an upper part to the concert, there were several others playing underparts by themselves, and endeavouring to fasten on some luckless neighbour's ear, who was himself bent upon the same design against some other,
We have often heard of the speech of a corporation, and this induced me to transcribe a speech of this club, taken in short-hand, word for word, as it was spoken by every member of the company. It may be necessary to observe that the man who told of the ghost had the loudest
voice, and the longest story to tell, so that his continuing narrative filled every chasm in the conversation.
“ So, Sir, d'ye perceive me, the ghost giving three loud raps at the bed-post....Says my lord to me, my dear Smokeum, you know there is no man upon the face of the earth for whom I have so high....A damnable false heretical opi. nion of all sound doctrine and good learning ; for I'll tell it aloud, and spare not that.... Silence for a song; Mr. Leathersides for a song...." As I was a walking upon the
highway, I met a young damsel”.... Then what brings you here? says the parson to the ghost....Sanconiathan, Manetho, and Berosus.... The whole way from Islingtonturnpike to Dog-house-bar.....Dam....As for Abel Drugger, Sir, he's damn'd low in it; my 'prentice boy has more of the gentleman than he....For murder will out one time or another; and none but a ghost, you know, gentlemen, can....Damme if I don't ; for my friend, whom you know, gentlemen, and who is a parliament-man, a man of consequence, a dear honest creature, to be sure; we were laughing last night at....Death and damnation upon all his posterity by simply barely tasting....Sour grapes, as the fox said once when he could not reach them; and I'll, I'll tell you a story about that that will make you burst your sides with laughing: A fox once....
Will nobody listen to the song...." As I was a walking upon the highway, I met a
young damsel both buxom and gay”....No ghost, gentlemen can be murdered ; nor did I ever hear but of one ghost killed in all my life, and that was stabbed in the belly with a....My blood and soul if I don't....Mr. Bellows. mender, I have the honour of drinking your very good health....Blast me if I do....dam....blood....fire....whizz.... blid....tit....rat....trip”. ......... The rest all riot, nonsense, and rapid confusion.
Were I to be angry at men for being fools, I could here find ample room for declamation ; but, alas ! I have been a fool myself; and why should I be angry with them for being something so natural to every child of humanity ?
Fatigued with this society, I was introduced the following night to a club of fashion. On taking my place I found the conversation sufficiently easy, and tolerably good-na