페이지 이미지

bation ; and whispering told me 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 manver, by the pimple-nosed 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 3ober, would now be heard in their turn; every man had his song, and he saw no rea. son 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 ; pothing was now heard but singing; voice rose above voice, and the whole became one universal shout, when the landlord came to acquaint the com. pany that the reckoning was drunk out. Rabelais calls the moments in which a reckoning is mentioned, the most melancholy of our lives : vever was so much noise so quickly quelled, as by this short but pathetic oration of our landlord. • Drunk out!' was echoed in a tone of discontent round the table: drunk out already! that was very odd! that so much punch could be drunk out already! impossi. ble !' The landlord, however, seeming resolved uot 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,

h, he fancied, would suit the gra. vity of my temper exactly. We have, at the Muzzy club,' says he," no riotous mirth nor awkward ribaldry; no confusion or bawling; all is conducled with wisdom and decency: besides, some of our members are worth forty thousand pounds; merr of prudence and foresight every one of them : these are the proper acquaintance, and to such I will to-night introduce you.' 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 seren 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 seene 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 casily 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 somebody 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 diffi. dence, 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 to 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 whoin I observed, 'that the beer was extreme 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. 'Ah!' says another, still keeping the pipe in his mouth, • that puts me in mind of a pleasant story about tbat-hem-very well; you must know-but, before I begin-sir, my service to 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 four-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-comb-maker had pot caught cold going home the last club-night; and be returned the compliment by hoping that young Master Bellows-mender had got well again of the chin-cough. Doctor Twist told us a story of a parliament man with whom he was intimately acquainted; while the bug-man, at the same time, was telling a better story of a noble 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 riarrative 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 combination of these voices, which I could hear all together, and which formed an upper part to the concert, there were several others play. ing under parts 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 corpora. tion, 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 yearth for whom I have so high'—A damnable false heretical opinion of all sound doc. trine and good learning; for I'll tell it aloud, and spare not that'— Silence for a song; Mr. Leather. sides for a song As I was walking upon the high way, I met a young damsel' - Then what brings you here? says the parson to the ghost-Sanconiathon, Manetho, and Berosus The whole way from Isling. tou turnpike to Dog-house-bár - Dam'-'As for Abel Drugger, sir, he's damn'd low in it; my prentice boy has more of the gentleman than he'For mur. der 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 cousequence, a dear, honest creature, to be sure; we were laughing last night at - Death and damnation upon all his posterity by simply barely tasting

our 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 waiking upon the high way, I met a young damsel both buxom and gay – No ghost, gentlemen, can be murdered; nor did I ever bear but of one ghost kilied in all my life, and that was stabbed in the belly witha'- 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'- Bugs'-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-natured; for my lord and sir Paul were not yet arrived. I now thought myself completely fitted, and, resolving to seek no farther, deterruined to take up my residence here for the winter: while my temper began to open insensibly to the cheerfulness I saw diffused on every face in the room : but the delusion soon vanished, when the waiter came to apprise us that his lordship and sir Paul were just arrived.

From this moment all our felicity was at an end; our new guests bustled into the room, and took their seats at the head of the table. Adieu now all confidence; every creature strove who should most recommend himself to our members of distinction. Each seemed quite regardless of pleasing any but our new guests; and what before wore the appearance of friendship, was now turned into rivalry.

Yet I could not observe that, amidst all this flat

« 이전계속 »