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shades and degrees of red, as they appear in the pink and the rose, the clove and the carnation, as he had Rhenish or Moselle, Perry or White Port, to work in.
I was so satisfied with the ingenuity of this virtuoso, that, after having advised him to quit so dishonest a profession, I promised him, in consideration of his great genius, to recommend him as a partner to a friend of mine, who has heaped up great riches, and is a scarlet-dyer,
The artists on my other hand were ordered, in the second place, to make some experiments of their skill before me: upon which the famous Harry Sippet stepped out, and asked me, "what I would be pleased to drink ? At the same time he filled out three or four white liquors in a glass, and told me,
That it should be what I pleased to call for;' adc:ing very learnedly, “That the liquor before him was as the naked substance, or first matter of his compound, to which he and his friend, who stood overagainst him, could give what accidents, or form, they pleased.' Finding him so great a philosopher, I desired he would convey into it the qualities and essence of right Bourdeaux. Coming, coming, Sir,' said he, with the air of a drawer; and, after having cast his eye on the several tastes and flavours that stood before him, he took up a little cruet, that was filled with a kind of inky juice, and pouring some of it out into the glass of white wine, presented it to me; and told me, “This was the wine, over which most of the business of the last Term had been dispatched.? I must confess, I looked upon that sooty drug, which he held up in his cruet, as the quintessence of English Bourdeaux; and therefore desired him to give me a glass of it by itself, which he did with great unwillingness. My cat at that time sat by me upon the elbow of my chair; and as I did not care for making the experiment upon myself, I reached it to her to sip of it, which had like to have cost her her life; for, notwithstanding it Aung her at first into freakish tricks, quite contrary to her usual gravity, in less than a quarter of an hour she fell into convulsions; and, had it not been a creature more tenacious of life than any other, would certainly have died under the operation.
I was so incensed by the tortures of my innocent domestic, and the unworthy dealings of these men, that I told them, if each of them had as many lives as the injured creature before them, they deserved to forfeit them for the pernicious arts which they used for their profit. I therefore bid them look upon themselves as no better than as a kind of assassins and murderers within the law. However, since they had dealt so clearly with me, and laid before me their whole practice, I dismissed them for that time; with a particular request, that they would not poison any of my friends and acquaintance, and take to some honest livelihood without loss of time.
For my own part, I have resolved hereafter to be very careful in my liquors; and have agreed with a friend of mine in the army, upon their next march, to secure me two hogsheads of the best stomachwine in the cellars of Versailles, for the good of my Lucubrations, and the comfort of my old age.
No 132. SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 11, 1709-10.
Habeo senectuti magnam gratiam, quæ mihi sermonis aviditatem
auxit, potionis et cibi sustulit.-Tull. de Sen. I am much beholden to old age, which has increased my eager
ness for conversation, in proportion as it has lessened my appetites of hunger and thirst.
Sheer-lane, February 10. AFTER having applied my mind with more than ordinary attention to my studies, it is my usual custom to relax and unbend it in the conversation of such as are rather easy than shining companions. This I find particularly necessary for me before I retire to rest, in order to draw my slumbers upon me by degrees, and fall asleep insensibly. This is the particular use I make of a set of heavy honest men, with whom I have passed many hours with much indolence, though not with great pleasure. Their conversation is a kind of preparative for sleep; it takes the mind down from its abstractions, leads it into the familiar traces of thought, and lulls it into that state of tranquillity, which is the condition of a thinking man, when he is but half awake. After this, my reader will not be surprised to hear the account, which I am about to give of a club of my own contemporaries, among whom I pass two or three hours every evening. This I look upon as taking my
before I go to bed. The truth of it is, I should think myself unjust to posterity, as well as to the society at the Trumpet *, of which I am a member, did not I in some part of my writings give an account of the persons among whom I have passed almost a sixth part of my time for these last forty years. Our club consisted originally of fifteen ; but, partly by the severity of the law in arbitrary times, and partly by the natural effects of old age, we are at present reduced to a third part of that number: in which, however, we have this consolation, that the best company is said to consist of five persons. I must confess, besides the aforementioned benefit which I meet with in the conversation of this select society, I am not the less pleased with the company, in that I find myself the greatest wit among them, and am heard as their oracle in all points of learning and difficulty.
* A public house in Shire-lane.
Sir Jeoffery Notch, who is the oldest of the club, has been in possession of the right hand chair time out of mind, and is the only man among us that has the liberty of stirring the fire. This our foreman is a gentleman of an ancient family, that came to a great estate some years before he had discretion, and run it out in hounds, horses, and cock-fighting; for which reason he looks upon himself as an honest, worthy gentleman, who has had misfortunes in the world, and calls every thriving man a pitiful upstart.
Major Matchlock is the next senior, who served in the last civil wars, and has all the battles by heart. He does not think
action in Europe worth talking of since the fight of Marston-Moor; and every night tells us of his having been knocked off his horse at the rising of the London apprentices; for which he is in great esteem among us.
Honest old Dick Reptile is the third of our society. He is a good-natured indolent man, who speaks little himself, but laughs at our jokes; and brings his young nephew along with him, a youth of eighteen years old, to shew him good company, and give him a taste of the world. This young fellow sits generally silent; but whenever he opens his mouth, or laughs at any thing that passes, he is constantly told by his uncle, after a jocular manner, “Ay, ay, Jack, you young men think us fools; but we old men know you are.'
The greatest wit of our company, next to myself, is a Bencher of the neighbouring Inn, who in his youth frequented the ordinaries about Charing-cross, and pretends to have been intimate with Jack Ogle. He has about ten distichs of Hudibras without book, and never leaves the club until he has applied them all. If any modern wit be mentioned, or any townfrolic spoken of, he shakes his head at the dulness of the present age, and tells us a story of Jack Ogle.
For my own part, I am esteemed among them, because they see I am something respected by others; though at the same time I understand by their behaviour, that I am considered by them as a man of a great deal of learning, but no knowledge of the world: insomuch, that the Major sometimes, in the height of his military pride, calls me the Philosopher; and Sir Jeoffery, no longer ago than last night, upon a dispute what day of the month it was then in Holland, pulled his pipe out of his mouth, and cried, • What does the scholar say to it?'
Our club meets precisely at six a clock in the evening; but I did not come last night until half an hour after seven, by which means I escaped the battle of Naseby, which the Major usually begins at about three-quarters after six : I found also, that my good friend the Bencher had already spent three of his distichs; and only waited an opportunity to hear a sermon spoken of, that he might introduce the couplet where 'a stick' rhymes to . ecclesiastic.' At my entrance into the room, they were naming a red petticoat and a cloak, by which I found that the Bencher had been diverting them with a story of Jack Ogle.