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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 I had suffered an immense loss ; for, had I come a few minutes sooner, I might have heard Gee-ho Dobbio sung in a tip-top manner, 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 ou 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, and the whole became one universal shout, when the landlord came to acquaint the company that the reckoning was drunk 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. "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! 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 confussion or bawling; all is conducted with wisdom and decency: besides, some of our members are worth forty thousand pounds; men 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 beacquainted 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 somebody would begin to open bis 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 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 whom 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 that-hem -very well; you must know-but, before I beginsir, my service to you—where was l?'
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 other's 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. Currycomb-maker 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 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 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 pedler, 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 playing 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 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 yearth for whom I have so high'-A damnable false heretical opinion 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