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ing in different sets and countries, appointed for the specific introduction of certain wines, as sherry or madeira after soup, or hock between the courses. So also there are especial moments for the introduction of divers orders of anecdotes. The man who attempts a bit of scandal while the patés or cutlets are going their rounds, will find his risk rewarded by reproving silence. People look as if they did not understand a word he was saying; whereas if he wait till after the second round of champagne, he will set the table in a roar. Even the first will so far thaw the faculties or decorum of the party, that a significant smile may possibly repay his pains.

Soup admits of nothing of more stirring interest than the weather. People are not yet at their ease. They have not recovered the fuss of taking their places; they have not got accustomed to their neighbours, or to the brightness of the dinner-room. They look blinky and perplexed. The edge of appetite, too, must be appeased. A few mouthfuls of hot, clear, spring soup, or bisque d'ecrevisses, cheers up the spirits, and disposes to sociability. A sip of sherry perfects the charm. By the time turbot and its lobster sauce, or Severn salmon and its cucumber, figure on your plate, you may venture upon politics and the news of the day. If a clever man be near you, and you have important intelligence in petto, inquire of him whether he have anything new; then, with easy negligence, let fall the startling news that is to fix every eye at table upon yourself. Choose that moment to take wine, or to whisper confidentially to the servant behind your chair a request for a second investigation of the fish-sauces. You should appear to be anxiously interested in the coaxing of your own appetite, when you announce the abdication of the Emperor of China, or that her Majesty's favourite parrot is sitting. All this, as stage effect, tends powerfully to the success of the piece.

Anything superlative in the way of wit should be reserved, like the hock, for the finale of the first course. Even in the best regulated household, there occurs a momentary pause most propitious to the explosion of a bon mot. The host is grateful to you; the maitre d'hôtel is grateful to you; everybody is grateful to you. A minute later, and the bustle of placing the second course on the table would be fatal to the success of your attempt. That most disagreeable interruption at an end, the real business of dinner conversation begins. The tide is setting in. Till the rubicon of the second course is passed, your careful talker feels that all is preamble. It is not worth while to hazard anything of real excellence. It is waste of powder and shot to lavish pearls before the rapacious animals who think more of what reaches them through their lips, than through their ears.

But after the pheasant, green-goose, or turkey poult, after the fondu, cabinet-pudding, and Chambertin, comes the tug of war! Not only are the ears of the party opened, but its hearts. People are ready to laugh at anything; yet not too merry to distinguish between wit and humour, an old story and a new anecdote. With the orange jelly, you may whisper to a fair neighbour; with the meringues glacés, you may acquaint a dark one with some fact of foreign policy or fineart fiddle-faddle, of which he was wholly ignorant. He will not turn sulky at finding you better informed than himself.

During a diner-out's first season or so, he takes almost as much pleasure in all that he causes others to swallow, as in all that he is swallowing. He enjoys his own stories and his own success.


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after making himself a name, after being cited here, there, and everywhere as the agreeable Mr. Prattles, the new Sheridan, the future Macaulay, he begins to grow nervous. He feels it necessary to talk up to his reputation; and a duty is always irksome. One dull dinner would undo him! A party where the sound of knives and forks is audible from pauses in the conversation, reflects eternal disgrace on its component parts, should it come to be known that a regular diner-out was one of the offenders. He is a lost mutton,—that is, a lost buck.

He accordingly begins to cram, as if reading for a degree,-saps scandal, and works up his small talk as for the Seatonian prize. When first a man confronts the publicity of society, he is unable to distinguish its shades and gradations. Like a child contemplating the starry firmament, he beholds millions of stars, and rates them alike, incapable of distinguishing their gradations of magnitude. To make oneself agreeable at the dinner-table in certain circles, it suffices to read all the periodicals as they appear, to skim the daily papers, and be able familiarly to quote the jokes of the last number of the Quarterly Review. In others, it is necessary to have written one of these showy flare-ups, to obtain the ear of the company; and to hazard any direct allusion to them, above all to cite their witticisms, or any other good thing that has appeared in print, would be destruction. In such a party, a stale joke would be thought as offensive as a stale John Dory. The stories narrated must have their bloom upon them, like the grapes; and every anecdote boast its virgin bouquet, like every bottle of claret. Even a moderately witty thing, wholly new and inedited, obtains a higher value than the best mot of Alvanley filtered through the clubs.

"As somebody was saying yesterday at White's," observed a man at the capital table of the late Lord S, and was about to relate some thrice-told tale, when Lord interrupted him with, "If I wanted to know what any one said at White's, I would go there and hear it. I prefer something which you both think and say yourself, or, at all events, something new and original."

Such a rebuff is too disagreeable to be wantonly provoked. For the same reason, nothing so stupid as to cram from such books as Walpole's Letters, or Crequy's Memoirs, or any other, not old enough to be forgotten. News should be of Charles the Second's time or Queen Victoria's; and nothing in the way of crib can be safely hazarded later than the times of George the First.

Time was that ten pounds' worth of French, from the usher of some preparatory school, was worth a whole season's entertainments; and in the early part of the present century, more than one diner-out traded exclusively upon popular books of French memoirs, still unfamiliar to the jog-trot London world.

They fished their gastronomy out of Grimod de la Reynière and Brillat Savarin; their wit out of Grimm, Diderot and Mesdames du Deffant and D'Epinay; their philosophy from L'Hermite de la Chaussée D'Antin, and their sentiment from Madame de Souza. Even our comedies were then "taken from the French," without fear of reprisal. But now that every lawyer's clerk visits Paris at least once a-year, and that the Burlington Arcade and its libraries supply wit and information at three-and-sixpence per month, to all classes of the community, a man attempting to dine out upon the Revue de Paris, Revue des deux Mondes, La Mode, and La Presse, would be coughed

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down. It is only some solemn review that dares put on its considering cap, and inflict these stale scraps upon the public. For my part, having a reputation to sustain, I would not venture on anything, even wet from the press of Dumont or Lavocat. Several of the young members have over early sheets to brighten their speeches.

I had once a severe lesson on that score. Everybody knows the story of Conversation B. strolling to the toilet-table of Conversation S. one afternoon, where his card of mems. for the night was laid out with his pumps and white waistcoat; conning by rote the topics to be dragged in, and preceding him in the various opera-boxes to which they were assigned; so that every time the professed wit opened his lips, it was to recount some anecdote or bon-mot which had been recited ten minutes before, by his rival. Exactly such was my disaster!—I had received one morning a batch of pamphlets from Paris; and as usual, extracted the pith for my private use. The gems thus strung toge ther, I intended to powder over my conversation that day at one of Lady Cork's choice dinner-parties; and had consequently provided myself with nothing else. I entered her famous old china-gallery, on the divans and slender porcupine-chairs of which I found scattered the best and brightest of the season. "All was prepared, the judges were met, a terrible show." Unluckily I came late, having been detained running my eye over my notes; so that when I made my entrée, that pushing fellow, L. had already the ear of the company. Judge of my horror when I found him giving tongue to one of my most striking novelties! - I longed to fly at him, and snatch it from his mouth, as one sees a sharp terrier when another dog has pilfered a bone from him!-But it was all in vain!-He had taken the first move. Bon mot after bon mot did he let fly from his pigeon-trap, and every shot told. I had nothing left. The fellow subscribed to the same library as myself; had obtained a view of the books four-andtwenty hours before me,—and reduced me to bankruptcy. Cut up as I was, not even an incipient influenza which I pleaded, sufficed as my excuse with the old lady; and though I had the precaution to keep my chambers for a week, to give colouring to the pretext, she never invited me again the whole season, except to one of those horrible olla podridas which she sometimes gave at the end of her dinner weeks, to dispose of the fragments, and drink the bottlings-up of wine. It may be supposed that I did not allow myself to be converted into quick-lime.

Ill-natured people fancy that the life of a dining-out man is a life of corn, wine, and oil; that all he has to do is to eat, drink, and be merry. I only know that, had I been aware in the onset of life of all I should have to go through in my vocation, I would have chosen some easier calling. I would have studied law, physic, or divinity; I would have gone the circuit; I would have even gone the whole hog, and become a parson, rather than enjoyed the Barmecides feast of a professor of wit. Eat and drink he may, but to be really merry I defy him-Viands and generous wines pass through his lips, without making the least impression on his palate. His attention is pre-engrossed. By venturing to dwell upon some dainty-dish, he is sure to lose the opportunity of introducing some striking remark, or hazarding some neat little pun. His appetite is continually on thorns. His slice of venison is, perhaps, brought him just as he has launched into some capital story; and he has only the alternative of spoiling it, or finding the fat

become of opaline opacity when enabled to pay himself proper attention. Now venison, like time and tide, waits for no man; and the stupidest ass of a country cousin may swallow it when the said fat is clear as amber, while the diner-out finds it gradually freezing upon his hapless plate!

In the same way, one's iced pudding begins to melt while one finishes a series of reparties with some sharp opposite neighbour. I remember last season having an avalanche before me, that would have cooled the fire-king only to look at; and before I could command the use of my lips, the recent inundation at Brentford was not more fluent than my plate!

It is the custom, by the way, of quadrille dancers to be very scrupulous in engaging a vis-à-vis. Young ladies pretend that it is of as much consequence to them to be mated with an eligible opposite neighbour, as with an eligible partner. It is of fifty times as much importance to a dining-out man!-What he says to his two next neighbours, however interesting, does him little or no credit with the party. But a confederate opposite, is as invaluable an adjunct as the clown attending the horsemanship at Astley's. The whole audience is convulsed by the witticisms addressed to him. The whole table is in a roar when I happen to sit facing Horace or Sydney. In such a partnership, one loses nothing by a division of profits.

On the other hand, it is a horrible trial of patience to bowl to an awkward bat; or throw the ball which there is no one to catch. I know nothing more bewildering than for a man who knows himself to have been invited for the entertainment of the company, to get placed, through one of those blunders which so often occur in mixed dinnerparties, next to some dunny dowager-dunny in mind as well as body; or opposite to a bevy of misses in muslin frocks, to whom it is not permissible to plead guilty of an idea. Conversation is out of the question. It is like singing with your face to a stone-wall. Every fresh attempt at liveliness is rewarded with a stare of stupid wonder; and it is only when you make yourself comprehensible to the meanest capacity by abusing the weather, or canting about the state of the times, that you are rewarded with more than monosyllables in reply. In vain do you chafe and fret. You have, perhaps, half a dozen capital stories fermenting in your brains. Take my advice. Postpone your triumph. Endure your total eclipse in solemn silence. It is useless attempting to make bricks without straw.

One of my best houses is the Marquis of Bexfield's. What a chef!what a maître d'hôtel!-what an establishment!-what a master thereof! Such a pleasant set, too!-fine people, who are not too fine, and coarse people, who are not too coarse. From the moment of crossing the threshold, one is conscious of a certain bien-être pervading one's animal nature; as in a warm-bath, or the sortie from a long sermon at Christmas, or in the dog-days. There are certain capital dining-houses, such as that of the late Lord S. where gastronomy is made of too engrossing importance. One eats too critically, and grows nervous lest one should be betrayed into enjoying something which the knowing ones decide to be not of the highest quality. In such a set, the conversation-man is of secondary importance. People are invited exclusively to eat and drink. The talker is there only to fill up the pauses between the numerous courses. At Lord Bexfield's, this is not the case. One stands one's ground with the bastions de volaille and château margout.

cruel nature. We cannot sufficiently apologize to our subscribers for our insertion of so ill-advised a fabrication."

I foresee from hence the compunctious visitings brightening up the damped affections of my friends and acquaintance, on perusing such an announcement! "Poor Prattles!" they will exclaim, "I don't know how it was, I had not seen so much of him lately, yet he is one whose company is always an acquisition,,-a most amusing little fellow, - a man who knows everything, - a man whom everybody knows.Heartily glad to find he is still extant!-By Jove! I'll call on him to-morrow and ask him to dinner."

Even those less-affectionately disposed towards me, even those who perhaps think me a bore, will be moved to ejaculate, "Poor little Prattles!-after all, there was more twaddling than mischief in his gossip. His tittle-tattle was only the labour of his vocation. He never did any harm,- that is, he never meant to do any harm. If he sometimes administered arsenic instead of magnesia, it was only through a mistake of the labels. He never poisoned people with malice prepense. And he was really very good fun in rainy weather in the country, or when trying to sit his horse in the Park.-I fancy we could better spare a better man than Prattles."

And then one's works!-The moment a literary man dies, and the newspapers take to getting up his memoirs, every little anonymous thing of merit that has been floating about for the last ten years, is laid to his charge. The real author has always the power of establishing his right to his unclaimed dividends ;-a letter to the editor from the " constant reader of his invaluable journal," informing him in roundabout phrase that his facts are fictions, and his fictions rubbish, only serves to increase the interest of the paper. On the strength of my decease, I shall probably be charged with "Violet the Danseuse;" or the "Adventures of a Coxcomb." I have a great mind to charge myself with "Fashionable Friends," and "The Nun of Arrouca." It might be a considerable relief to the shoulders of the administration,— and at all events produce a newspaper controversy, certain to bring all parties into notice. 'Pon honour the idea may be worth working out!-What neat little articles in the Examiner, Spectator, Athenæum, Atlas, and Literary Gazette, will endeavour to fix the cap upon the rightful head!-What fudgerations in the magazines, what solemn sneers in the Quarterlies.-I foresee a vista of dinners prolonged from the Easter feast to the July banquets of Lovegroves (when the white-bait, like hobbledehoys, have outgrown their melted butter,) issuing from this lucky suggestion.

How I hate all those weekly papers,-with their "Library Tables," and "Weekly Gossip," and "Foreign Correspondence," taking the very roll out of one's mouth!-The digestive doctors swear that the human constitution has never got on half so well since the elaborate processes of modern gastronomy in the form of soups, gravies, and jellies, took half its labours out of its hands. They protest that the epigastric functions, not having enough to do, prey upon themselves, and consequently do mischief. The processes of the human mind are vastly analogous to those of the human stomach. When people used to work hard in the pursuit of knowledge, a healthy appetite was engendered; and it is only since the hashes of literature came to be constantly served at our tables,-scraps of poetry, romance, or history, enhanced by the peppery sauce of the reviewers,- that we lost all taste for the

wholesome learning, the solid sirloin of the historian, the homely batter-pudding of Mrs. Trimmer and Mrs. Chapone. Above all, the impertinent celerity which these placarders of literature send flying all abroad news of the birth of every chef-d'œuvre, and the suicides of rash authorship, is enough to distract one.-Five-and-twenty years ago, people took a couple of months to decide whether it were worth while to send to Hookham's for the new-novel; and six weeks after the publication of Southey's last epic, used to be asking each other whether that strange man, who wrote Espriella's Letters, had not been attempting something new?-Now, while Bulwer's youngest is still damp from the press, not a linendraper's apprentice in Regent's Street but is competent to inform the errand-boy that "it ben't by no manner of means hequal to Huge and Harem."-The march of intellect makes its way into every hole and corner, in more than double-quick time.

I have long perceived that my little trips of discovery to Paris, for
the importation of "novelties of the season," are of no more use than
if I marched up Highgate Hill and down again. Nothing nearer than
Constantinople is in the slightest degree available. Between steam-
navigation and yachting, the Mediterranean is grown as vulgar as the
Nore. Could the ghost of Captain Cook arise to inquire why it has
never been laid in Westminster Abbey, how immensely astonished it
would be to find people steaming it over the Red Sea, as easily as they
used to row, in his time, over Chelsea Reach; and the name of Poly-
nesia as familiar in their mouths as that of Polly Peachum!-For my
part, I am thinking of a tour for next autumn (if the untimely decease
scheme do not fructify as I anticipate,) and cannot for the soul of me
hit upon anything sufficiently exclusive to give a fillip to public
curiosity, or pretend to being written up by the Quarterly.

The only spot of earth concerning which St. James's Street and Bel-
grave Square know nothing, is the City of London. I have a vast
FIELD AND THE BARBICAN; by one of the opera-tive class," or some
such taking title. One might furbish up famous antiquarianisms out of
the Gentleman's Magazine, about Crosby Hall and Winchester House,
and bring in a host of savoury little compliments to the various compa-
nies, and different aldermen, certain to bring down coveys of dinners!
-I smell turtle and venison in the very promise!-The Albion-Blea
den-Birch!-august names!-Cornhill, promiseth corn in Egypt;-
Smithfield, marrow and fatness;-Warwick Lane, manna.-The city
must necessarily abound in byres and cellars,-fat beeves, and strong
beer. Fish ought never to be eaten westward of Temple Bar; and al-
beit, the Bank and Stock-Exchange make their turtle soup, like their
twenty per cent, out of calves' heads, there are capital little fricots
tossed up in the Poultry-Yes,-decidedly, if a supposititious demise
do not mend my fare, I will try the Eastern circuit.


I wonder whether any body will start anything new this season?-The town is wretchedly in want of a startle-to make it open its eyes. Society is miserably drowsy. The great deficiency of the English mind is invention. The country is full of originals; yet collectively, we are the most jog-trot nation in Europe. I must not quarrel with the fault, but for which, the vocation of diner-out would be extinguished. The Pique assiette of the French was a fellow who arrived with couplets in his pocket, to enliven the dessert, and administer to their love of

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