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• Your institution of clubs I have always admired, in which you constantly endeavoured the union of the metaphorically defunct, that is, such as are neither serviceable to the busy and enterprising part of mankind, nor entertaining to the retired and speculative. There should certainly therefore in each county be established a club of the persons whose conversations I have described, who for their own private, as also the public emolument, should exclude, and be excluded, all other society. Their attire should be the same with their huntsmen's, and none should be admitted into this green conversation-piece, except he had broken his collar-bone thrice. A broken rib or two might also admit a man without the least opposition. The president must necessarily have broken his neck, and have been taken up dead once or twice: for the more maims this brotherhood shall have met with, the easier will their conversation flow and keep up; and when any one of these vigorous invalids had finished his narration of the collar-bone, this naturally would introduce the history of the ribs. Besides, the different circumstances of their falls and fractures would help to prolong and diversify their relations. There should also be another club of such men, who had not succeeded so well in maiming themselves, but are however in the constant pursuit of these accomplishments. I would by no means be suspected, by what I have said, to traduce in general the body of fox-hunters, for whilst I look upon a reasonable creature full speed after a pack of dogs by way of pleasure, and not of business, I shall always make honourable mention of it.
• But the inost irksome conversation of all others I have met with in the neighbourhood, has been a mong two or three of your travellers who have overlooked men and manners, and have passed through France and Italy with the same observation that the carriers and stage coachmen do through Great Britain ; that is, their stops and stages have been regulated according to the liquor they have met with in their passage. They indeed remember the names of abundance of places, with the particular fineries of certain churches: but their distinguishing mark is certain prettiness of foreign languages, the meaning of which they could have better expressed in their own. The entertainment of these fine observers, Shakspeare has described to consist
“ In talking of the Alps and Appenines,
The Pyrenean, and the River Po :" and then concludes with a sigh,
“ Now this is worshipful society!" • I would not be thought in all this to hate such honest creatures as dogs: I am only
unhappy that I cannot partake in their diversions. But I love them so well, as dogs, that I often go with my pockets stuffed with bread to dispense my favours, or make my way through them at neighbours' houses. There is, in particular, a young hound of great expectation, vivacity, and enterprise, that attends my fights wherever he spies me. This creature observes my countenance, and behaves himself accordingly. His mirth, his frolic, and joy, upon the sight of me, has been observed, and I have been gravely desired not to encourage him so much, for it spoils his parts ; but I think he shews them sufficiently in the several boundings, friskings, and scourings, when he makes his court to me : but I foresee in a little time he and I must keep company with one another only, for we are fit for no other in these parts. Having informed you how I do pass my time in the country where I am, I must proceed to tell you how I would pass it, had I such a fortune as would put me above the observance of ceremony and custom.
My scheme of a country life then should be as follows. As I am happy in three or four very agreeable friends, these I would constantly have with me; and the freedom we took with one another at school and the university, we would maintain and exert úpon all occasions with great courage. There should be certain hours of the day to be employed in reading, during which time it should be impossible for any one of us to enter the other's chamber, unless by storm. After this we would communicate the trash or treasure we had met with, with our own reflections upon the matter; the justness of which we would controvert with good-humoured warmth, and never spare one another out of that complaisant spirit of conversation, which makes others affirm and deny the same matter in a quarter of an hour. If any of the neighbouring gentlemen, not of our turn, should take it in their heads to visit me, I should look
persons in the same degree enemies to my particular state of happiness, as ever the French were to that of the public, and I would be at an annual expense in spies to observe their motions. Whenever I should be surprised with a visit, as I hate drinking, I would be brisk in swilling bumpers, upon this maxim, that it is better to trouble others with my impertinence, than to be troubled myself with theirs. The necessity of an infirmary makes me resolve to fall to that project; and as we should be but five, the terrors of an involuntary separation, which our number cannot so well admit of, would make us exert ourselves in opposition to all the particulars mentioned in your institution of that equitable confinement. This my way of life I know would subject me to the imputation of a morose, covetous, and singular fellow. These and all other hard words, with all manner of insiped jests, and all other reproach, would be matter
of mirth to me and my friends: besides, I would destroy the application of the epithets, morose and covetous, by a yearly relief of my undeservedly necessitous neighbours, and by treating my friends and domestics with a humanity that should express the obligation to lie rather on my side; and as for the word singular, I was always of opinion every man must be so, to be what one would desire him,
upon by the younger part of a country family, by my mother's side related to me, to visit Mr. Campbellt, the dumb man; for they told me that that was chiefly what brought them to town, having heard wonders of him in Essex. I, who always wanted faith in matters of that kind, was not easily prevailed on to go; but, lest they should take it ill, I went with them; when to my surprise, Mr. Campbell related all their past life; in short, had he not been prevented, such a discovery would have come out as
This letter was probably written by Steele's fellow collegian and friend, the Rev. Mr. Richard Parker. This accomplished scholar was for many years vicar of Embleton, in Northumberland, a living in the gift of Merton-college, where he and Steele lived in the most cordial familiarity. Not relishing the rural sports of Bamboroughshire, he declined the interchange of visits with most of the hospitable gentlemen in his neighbourhood : who, invigorated by their diversions, indulged in copious meals, and were apt to be vociferous in their mirth, and over importunate with their guests, to join in their conviviality.
+ Duncan Campbell announced himself to tbe publie as a Scotch highlander, gifted with the second sight. Ho was, or pretended to be, deaf and dumb, and succeeded in making a fortune to himself, by practising, for some years, on the credulity of the vulgur in the ignominious character of a fortune-teller.
would have ruined the next design of their coming to town, viz. buying wedding clothes. Our names
--though he never heard of us beforeendeavoured to conceal were as familiar to hiin as to ourselves. To be sure, Mr. Spectator, he is a very learned and wise man. Being impatient to know my fortune, having paid my respects in a family Jacobus, he told me (after his manner) among several other things, that in a year and nine months I should fall ill of a new fever, be given over by my physicians, but should with much difficulty recover; that, the first time I took the air afterwards, I should be addressed to by a young gentleman of a plentiful fortune, good sense, and a generous spirit. Mr. Spectator, he is the purest man in the world, for all he said is come to pass, and I am the happiest she in Kent. I have been in quest of Mr. Campbell these three months, and cannot find him out. Now, hearing you are a dumb man too, I thought you might correspond, and be able to tell me something; for I think myself highly obliged to make his fortune, as he has mine. It is very possible your worship, who has spies all over this town, can inform me how to send to him. If you can, I beseech you be as speedy as possible, and you will highly oblige • Your constant reader and admirer,
Ordered, That the inspector I employ about wonders inquire at the Golden-Lion, opposite to the Half-Moon tavern in Drury-lane, into the merit of this silent sage, and report accordingly.