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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 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 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 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 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. Bellowsmender hoped Mr. Curry-comb-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 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 highA 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. 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-Sanconiathon, Manetho, and Berosus-The whole way from Islington-turnpike 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-bloodbugs-fire-whizz-blid-tit-rat-trip”
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, determined 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 flattery and obsequious attention our great men took any notice of the rest of the company. Their whole discourse was addressed to each other. Sir Paul told his Lordship a long story of Moravia the Jew; and his Lordship gave Sir Paul a very long account of his new method of managing silk-worms; he led him, and consequently the rest of the company, through all the stages of feeding, sunning, and hatching; with an episode on mulberry-trees, a digression upon grass seeds, and a long parenthesis about his new postilion. In this manner we travelled on, wishing every story to be the last; but all in vain;
"Hills over hills, and Alps on Alps arose."
The last club, in which I was inrolled a member, was a society of moral philosophers, as they called themselves, who assembled twice a week, in order to shew the absurdity of the present mode of religion, and establish a new one in its stead.
I found the members very warmly disputing when I arrived, not indeed about religion or ethics, but about who had neglected to lay down his preliminary six pence upon entering the room. The president swore that he had laid his own down, and so swore all the company.
During this contest I had an opportunity of observing the laws, and also the members of the society. The president, who had been, as I was told, lately a bankrupt, was a tall pale figure, with a long black wig; the next to him was dressed in a large white wig and a black cravat; a third by the brownness of his complexion seemed a native of Jamaica; and a fourth by his hue appeared to be a blacksmith. But their rules will give the most just idea of their learning and principles.
I. We being a laudable society of moral philosophers, intends to dispute twice a week about religion and priestcraft. Leaving behind us old wives' tales, and following good learning and sound sense : and if so be, that any other persons has a mind to be of the society, they shall be entitled so to do, upon paying the sum of three shillings, to be spent by the company in punch.
II. That no member get drunk before nine of the clock, upon pain of forfeiting three pence, to be spent by the company in punch.
III. That as members are sometimes apt to go. away without paying, every person shall pay six pence upon his entering the room; and all disputes shall be settled by a majority; and all fines shall be paid in punch.
IV. That six pence shall be every night given to the president, in order to buy books of learning for the good of the society; the president has already put himself to a good deal of expense in buying books for the club; particularly, the works of Tully,