Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

No. 33. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1785.

I MENTIONED in my last paper, that my friend Colonel Caustic and I had accepted an invitation to dine with his neighbour Lord Grubwell. Of that dinner I am now to take the liberty of giving some account to my readers. It is one advantage of that habit of observation, which, as a thinking Lounger, I have acquired, that from most entertainments I can carry something more than the mere dinner away. I remember an old acquaintance of mine, a jolly carbuncle-faced fellow, who used to give an account of a company by the single circumstance of the liquor they could swallow. At such a dinner was one man of three bottles, four of two, six of a bottle and a half, and so on; and as for himself, he kept a sort of journal of what he had pouched, as he called it, at every place to which he had been invited during a whole winter. My reckoning is of another sort; I have sometimes carried off from a dinner, one, two, or three characters, swallowed halfa-dozen anecdotes, and tasted eight or ten insipid things, that were not worth the swallowing. I have one advantage over my old friend; I can digest what, in his phrase, I have pouched, without a headach.

When we sat down to dinner at Lord Grubwell's, I found that the table was occupied in some sort by two different parties, one of which belonged to my Lord, and the other to my Lady. At the upper end of my Lord's sat Mr. Placid, a man agreeable by profession, who has no corner in his mind, no prominence in his feelings, and like certain chymical liquors, has the property of coalescing with every thing. He dines with every body that gives a dinner, has seventeen cards for the seven days of the week, cuts up a fowl, tells a story, and hears a story told, with the best grace of any man in the world. Mr. Placid had been brought by my Lord, but seemed inclined to desert to my Lady, or rather to side with both, having a smile on the right cheek for the one, and a simper on the left for the other.

Lord Grubwell being a patron of the fine arts, had at his board-end, besides the layer out of his grounds, a discarded fiddler from the opera-house, who allowed that Handel could compose a tolerable chorus ; a painter, who had made what he called fancy-portraits of all the family, who talked a great deal about Correggio ; a gentleman on one hand of him, who seemed an adept in cookery; and a little blear-eyed man on the other, who was a connoisseur in wine. On horse-flesh, hunting, shooting, cricket, and cock-fighting, we had occasional dissertations, from several young gentleman at both sides of his end of the table, who, though not directly of his establishment, seemed, from what occurred in conversation, to be pretty constantly in waiting.

Of my Lady's division, the most conspicuous person was a gentleman who sat next her, Sir Johnwho seemed to enjoy the office af her cicisbeo, or cavaliere servente, as nearly as the custom of this country allows. There was, however, one little difference between him and the Italian cavaliere, that he did not seem so solicitous to serve as to admire the lady, the little attentions being rather directed from her to him. Even his admiration was rather understood than expressed. The gentleman, indeed, to borrow a phrase from the grammarians, appeared to be altogether of the passive mood, and to consider every exertion as vulgar and unbecoming. He spoke mincingly, looked something more delicate

[ocr errors]

No. 33. SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 1785.

I MENTIONED in my last paper, that my friend Colonel Caustic and I had accepted an invitation to dine with his neighbour Lord Grubwell. Of that dinner I am now to take the liberty of giving some account to my readers. It is one advantage of that habit of observation, which, as a thinking Lounger, I have acquired, that from most entertainments I can carry something more than the mere dinner away. I remember an old acquaintance of mine, a jolly carbuncle-faced fellow, who used to give an account of a company by the single circumstance of the liquor they could swallow. At such a dinner was one man of three bottles, four of two, six of a bottle and a half, and so on; and as for himself, he kept a sort of journal of what he had pouched, as he called it, at every place to which he had been invited during a whole winter. My reckoning is of another sort ;

I have sometimes carried off from a dinner, one, two, or three characters, swallowed halfa-dozen anecdotes, and tasted eight or ten insipid things, that were not worth the swallowing. I have one advantage over my old friend; I can digest what, in his phrase, I have pouched, without a headach.

When we sat down to dinner at Lord Grubwell's, I found that the table was occupied in some sort by two different parties, one of which belonged to my Lord, and the other to my Lady. At the upper end of my Lord's sat Mr. Placid, a man agreeable by profession, who has no corner in his mind, no prominence in his feelings, and like certain chymical liquors, has the property of coalescing with every thing. He dines with every body that gives a dinner, has seventeen cards for the seven days of the week, cuts up a fowl, tells a story, and hears a story told, with the best grace of any man in the world. Mr. Placid had been brought by my Lord, but seemed inclined to desert to my Lady, or rather to side with both, having a smile on the right cheek for the one, and a simper on the left for the other.

Lord Grubwell being a patron of the fine arts, had at his board-end, besides the layer out of his grounds, a discarded fiddler from the opera-house, who allowed that Handel could compose a tolerable chorus ; a painter, who had made what he called fancy-portraits of all the family, who talked a great deal about Correggio ; a gentleman on one hand of him, who seemed an adept in cookery; and a little blear-eyed man on the other, who was a connoisseur in wine. On horse-flesh, hunting, shooting, cricket, and cock-fighting, we had occasional dissertations, from several young gentleman at both sides of his end of the table, who, though not directly of his establishment, seemed, from what occurred in conversation, to be pretty constantly in waiting.

Of my Lady's division, the most conspicuous person was a gentleman who sat next her, Sir Johnwho seemed to enjoy the office af her cicisbeo, or cavaliere servente, as nearly as the custom of this country allows. There was, however, one little difference between him and the Italian cavaliere, that he did not seem so solicitous to serve as to admire the lady, the little attentions being rather directed from her to him. Even his admiration was rather understood than expressed. The gentleman, indeed, to borrow a phrase from the grammarians, appeared to be altogether of the passive mood, and to consider every exertion as vulgar and unbecoming. He spoke mincingly, looked something more delicate

[ocr errors]

than man; bad the finest teeth, the whitest hand, and sent a perfume around him at every motion. He had travelled, quoted Italy very often, and called this a tramontane country, in which, if it were not for one or two fine women, there would be no possibility of existing.

Besides this male attendant, Lady Grubwell had several female intimates, who seemed to have profited extremely by her patronage and instructions, who had learned to talk on all town subjects with such ease and confidence, that one could never have supposed they had been bred in the country, and had, as Colonel Caustic informed me, only lost their bashfulness about three weeks before. One or two of them, I could see, were in a professed and particular manner imitators of my Lady, used all her phrases, aped all her gestures, and had their dress made so exactly after her pattern, that the Colonel told me a blunt country-gentleman, who dined there one rainy day, and afterwards passed the night at his house, thought they had got wet to the skin in their way, and had been refitted from her Ladyship's wardrobe. . But he was mistaken,' said the Colonel ; they only borrowed a little of her complexion.'

The painter had made a picture, of which he was very proud, of my Lady attended by a group of those young friends, in the character of Diana, surrounded by her nymphs, surprized by Actæon. My Lady, when she was showing it to me, made me take notice how

very
like
my

Lord, Actæon was. Sir John, who leaned over her shoulder, put on as broad a smile as his good-breeding would allow, and said it was one of the most monstrous clever things he had ever heard her Ladyship say.

Of my Lord's party there were some young men, brothers and cousins of my Lady's nymphs, who

« VorigeDoorgaan »