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Scot's Smoking Club. One unlucky rogue of a victualler, on the back side of St. Clements, having excellent tipple, notwithstanding he had oftentimes desired they would find a new meeting-house, or smoke with more moderation, yet the goodness of the liquor made them very unwilling to forsake their quarters. One evening having just tapped a pound of tobacco, and the master of the house, who at that time was church warden, perceiving they were pushing forward their old intolerable custom, and that all his rooms were to be filled with smoke, like a Yar mouth herring house, stepped out to the beadle, who lived near, and telling him the story, ordered him to run presently and bring the parish engine, with two or three buckets of water in it, and to place it right against his door: the master of the house returning home, acquainted his other guests with his project, that nobody might stir but the smokers when the alarm was given. No sooner was the engine brought, but the man of the house, seconded by several that were drinking, roared out, fire! as dreadfully as if the house had been in flames; upon which, up started the smokers, in a terrible surprise, throwing down their pipes, as if the father of everlasting fire had been at the heels of them, in a hurry; tumbled over one another down stairs; and just as they were in the middle of the entry, striving who should squeeze out first, the beadle, according to direction, let fly the engine into the house, and made them as wet as so many water-lane divers, dragged through a horse
pond. However, the cry of fire, though they met with water, had so scurvily frightened them, that the dread of burning, instead of drowning, never minding the engine, made them fly the house in as great a consternation as if a gang of drunken bullies had been spurring them with the points of their weapons, till they had thought they were got far enough out of harm's way: then assuming courage, they faced about to behold the distant danger; but seeing no signs of the fire that had so lamentably scared them, they ventured to return back by slow degrees, and with all necessary caution, to inquire further into the unknown mischiefs they had so happily escaped; but in all their gentle approaches, beholding no visible signs of any such combustion, they took heart and re-entered the house, where they heard nothing but such a tumultuous laughter, as if the monstrous outcry, according to the fable, had ended only in a mouse; upon which, they sat themselves in a little box, and knocking for attendance, the master, who was in the kitchen making merry with his guests at what had passed, left his company to wait upon 'em, crying, "Lord, gentlemen, where have you all been, that you happen to return in such a dripping pickle." "Zs," replied they, "did you not all cry out fire, as if the devil was in you; and in running down stairs to discover where it was, some unlucky rogue or other slapped buckets of water in our faces." "Bless me, gentlemen," replies the landlord, "some of my
officious neighbours, seeing such a terrible smoke gush out of the windows of your club room, ran in a consternation, and fetched the parish engine and the buckets, and here they have done me I know not what damage, in playing into my house, believing 'twas on fire." "Come, come," says Sam Scot, "it's well it is no worse; prithee bring us some pipes, that we may sit and smoke ourselves dry again.". "By my sout, gentlemen," replies the landlord, "if you fall again to smoking, my neighbours will run again for the parish engine and the buckets." 66 Say you so," replies he that was most wet; ❝ then prithee let us pay, that we may go dry our jackets, and funk our noses at another house." So they discharged their reckoning; and the victualler, by this stratagem, got finally quit of their fumiferous company. This story spreading among their acquaintance, they were all sadly teazed and bantered wheresoever they came; insomuch that, after this affront, they never fixed themselves at any particular house, for fear of meeting with some such jocular trick or other, but made it their business, or rather their diversion, to haunt those coffee-houses where they were unknown, that they might slily puff out their clouds instead of whiffs, among other funkers in the public room, till they had thinned the company, without any body's discovering who were the devilish smokers that made such a damnable smother; for wherever they settled themselves, for that evening no spectacle news
monger could continue the reading of a Daily Post, unless he was able to live in soot and smoke, like a brewhouse stoker, or a chimney-sweeper; for no sooner were their pipes well lighted, but there would be such a coughing consort among nice beaus and ptisicky old gentlemen, that a man would be ready to think that he had got to church in the hundreds of Essex, upon a Sabbath-day, in an open winter. When the fog began to spread, up would rise an old shrivelled shopkeeper, who had impaired life's bellows by drinking gills of canary, and straining his sides with a violent fit of barking, would throw down a half read Gazette in a mighty passion, and before he could recover breath enough to tell what ailed him, be forced to fling down his penny, leave half his liquor behind him, and run out of the coffee-room, to suck in a little street air; after him, perhaps, an old asthmatical counsellor, who had shortened his breath by sucking in Thames fogs, in boating it down to Westminster, would fall, of a sudden, into such a fit of wheezing, as if a pauper client was asking his advice, without an answerable fee, and that he had suddenly counterfeited a fit of the asthma, to get rid of his impertinence; crying out, Ah! smoke, smoke; more air, for God's sake, 'till he had made a shift to hobble slowly into it. Next him, may be, a beau would start up in a mighty passion, cursing, as he went out, all the tobacco in the kingdom, and swearing it was good for nothing but to spoil gentlemen's wigs, or for a
saint to puff into the devil's nostrils. After this manner, they would clear a coffee-house in half an hour, and all the time make it their own diversion that they had been so troublesome to others. This sort of trade the extravagant fumigators drove for a few years, till they had stupified their senses, by the narcotic fumes of the mundungus weed; dried their skins to parchment; baked their intrails to cinders; exhausted all their radical moisture, and made themselves such irrecoverable sots, by excessive smoking and drinking, the want of regular eating, and seasonable rest, that they all dropt off, in the prime of their days, within a short time of one another. Thus, as they led their lives in a cloud of smoke, so they all at last were lost in a fog, and went out of the world as well dried as Yarmouth herrings, Yorkshire hung beef, or Westphalia bacon-as if they meant, whilst living, to be their own embalmers, and by the power of tobacco to preserve their mortal kexes after death, from vermiparous putrefaction. WARD'S HISTORY OF CLUBS.
LETTER WRITTEN BY THE CELEBRATED J. P. CURRAN, ESQ. ON HIS ARRIVAL IN SCOTLAND.
THE day is too bad for shooting, so I write. We arrived in miserable weather at Donaghadee; thence