Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

upper regions of the twelve-penny gallery. I therefore had recourse to the following practice : I would contrive to hear one act at the outside of one of the pit doors: the next act I took my stand at the other: and as the author generally rises in the middle, I could catch the most tearing parts during the third act in the passage to the two-shilling gallery: in the fourth act the rants came tolerably loud to my ear at the entrance of the upper gallery ; and I very attentively listened to the pathetic, at the conclusion of the play, with the footmen in the lobby.

Endowed with so much learning, you will doubtless be curious to know to what purposes I have turned it. Almost before I could read at all, I got into the service of a very eminent doctor of physic, who employed me in sticking up bis bills, and slipping them slily into the hands of spindle-shanked young fellows, as they passed by. After this, by closely studying these elegant compositions, I got together a sufficient set of medical phrases, which, (by the help of Bailey's dictionary) enabled me to draw up bills and affidavits for those doctors, who were not so happy as to be able to write or read. I was next promoted to the garret of a printer of bloody murders, where my business was to invent terrible stories, write Yorkshire tragedies, and occasionally to put the ordinary of Newgate's account of dying speeches into lamentable rhyme. I was afterwards concerned in works that required a greater fund of erudition, such as bog-house miscellanies, and little books for children: and I was once engaged as the principal compiler of a three-half-penny magazine. Since that I followed the occupation of an eves-dropper, or collector of news for the daily papers; in which I turned a good penny by hunting after marriages and deaths, and inventing lies for the day. Once, indeed, being out of other business, I descended to the mean office of a ballad-singer, and hawked my own verses ; but not having a good ear for music, and the tone of my

voice being rather inclined to whining, I converted my ballads into penitential hymns, and took up the vocation of the methodist preacher. In this station, I made new converts every day among the old women by my sighs and groans, who in return contributed their haifpence, which I disposed of in charity to myself: but I was a last beat off the fields by a journeyman shoe-maker, who fairly out-whined me; and finding myself deserted by my usual audience, I became setter to a Fleet parson.

My employment now was to take my stand at the end of Fleet-Market, and whenever I saw any gaping young couple staring about them, to whisper them softly in the ear, and ask them whether they wanted to be married. Whenever the ceremony was performed, I officiated as clerk and father to give away the bride: and when my master the doctor died, I made a shift to purchase his entire stock in trade, (consisting of a rusty cassock, an old grizzle wig, and one lappet of a band) and succeeded him in his benefice of the Hand-and-Pen Chapel. I now got a more comfortable subsistence than many regularly ordained curates in the country: but the marriage-act soon after taking place, I was flung out of employ; and as the primate of May Fair, the reverend Dr. Keith, is forced to sell snuff in the Fleet-prison, I have been obliged to retail gin in a night-cellar.

Thus, Mr. Town, lave I set before you the progress

I have made in literature, as well as the parti. cular circumstances of my life, in hopes they will induce you to recommend me to the notice of the public. As the parliament has not thought fit to make any provision for the poor distressed clergy of the Fleet, I intend to open a new oratory chapel in Fleet-market, to be conducted on the same principles with that established in Clare-Market; and for which I flatter

[ocr errors]

myself, I shall appear no less qualified by my education, than the renowned Henley, or any of his butchers. I shall, therefore, beg leave to subscribe myself, hoping for your countenance and protection,

Your very humble servant, T

ORATOR HIGGINS.

No. LXXXVII. THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 25.

Quid dignum tanto tibi ventre gulaque precabor ?

MART.

So wide a swallow, and so vast a paunch,
Say what shall cram? a tnrbot or an haunch?

EATING and drinking being absolutely requisite to keep our crazy frames together, we are obliged to attend to the calls of nature, and satisfy the regu. lar cravings of the appetite: though it is, in truth, but a very small part of the world, that eat because they are hungry, or drink because they are dry. The common day-labourer may, indeed, be glad to snatchan hasty meal with his wife and children, that he

may have strength to return to his work; and the porter finds it necessary to refresh himself with a full pot of entire butt, while he rests his load upon the bulk at the ale-house door. But those, who have more lei. sure to study what they shall eat and drink, require something more in their food, than what is barely wholesome or necessary; their palates must be gratified with rich sauces and high-seasoned delicacies; and they frequently have recourse to whetters and provocatives, to anticipate the call of hunger, and to enable their stomachs to bear the load they lay on it. There are a sort of men, whose chief pride is a good taste (as they call it) and a great stomach : and the

whole business of their lives is included in their breakfast, dinner and supper. These people, of whatever rank and denomination, whether they regale on turtle, or devour shoulders of mutton and peck-loaves for wagers, whether a duke at White's, or a chairman at the Blue-Posts, are certainly of the number of those, u whom nature (as Sallust tells us) has made like the “ brutes, obedient to their bellies;" and indeed, partake in some measure of the sentence passed on the serpent, “ to be cursed above all cattle, and to go for

ever on their bellies.”

There are many vices and follies, which men endeavour to hide from the rest of the world : but this, above all others, they take a pride in proclaiming : and seem to run about with the cap and bells, as if they were ambitious to be ranked among the sons of folly. Indeed, as the politeness of the French language bas distinguished every glutton by the title of Bon Vi. vant, and the courtesy of our own has honoured their beastly gluttony by the name of Good Living, the epicure thinksto eat and drink himselfinto your opinion, and recommend himself to your esteem by an exquisite bill of fare. However this may be, it is remarkable, that as the fox-hunter takes delight in rela:ing the incidents of the chace, and kills the fox again over a bowl of punch at night, so the Bon Vivant enjoy's giving an account of a delicious dinner, and chews the cud of reflection on his exquisite entertainment.

I have been led into these thoughts by an acquaintance, which I have lately made with a person, whose whole conversation is, literally speaking, table-talk His brain seems to be stuffed with an hodge-podge of ideas, consisting of several dishes, which he is perpetually serving up for the entertainment of the company. As it was said of Longinus, that he was a walking library, in the same manner I consider this gentleman as a walking larder: aud as the orations of Demosthenes were said to smell of the lamp, so my friend's whole conversation savours of the kitchen. He even makes use of his stomach as an artificial memory : and recollects every place he has been at, and every person he has seen, by some circumstances relating to the entertainment he met with. If he calls to mind a particular inn, he adds, “ for " there the cook spoiled a fine turbot.” Another house is recollected, “ because the parson took all " the fat of the haunch of venison : ” he remembers a gentleman you mention, “ because he had the “ smallest stomack he ever knew;" or one lady, “ because she drank a great deal of wine at supper; and another 6 because she had the best receipt for “ making her pickled cucumbers look green.”

His passion for eating also influences all his actions, diversions, and studies, he is fond of hare-hunting, as he says, his pursuit is animated by the hopes of seeing puss smoking on the table: but he wonders how any man can venture his neck in a chace after a fox, which, when it is got is not worth eating. He has had occasion, on account of the disorders which his ruling passion has brought upon him, to visit the several wells in the kingdom: but these he considers, not as places where persons go to drink the waters, but where they go to eat; and in this light he gives a character of them all. “ Bath, says he, is one of the “ best markets in the world: at Tunbridge you have “ fine mution, and most exquisite wheat-cars: but 6 at Cheltenham, pox take the place, you have no“ thing but cow-beef, red veal, and white bacon.” He looks upon every part of England in the same light; and would as soon go to Cheshire for butter, and Suffolk for cheese, as miss eating what each parti. cular town or country is famous for having the most excellent of, in its kind. He does not grudge to ride twenty miles to dine on a favourite dish : and it was

« VorigeDoorgaan »