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It is to me an insupportable affliction, to be tore mented with the narrations of a set of people, who are warm in their expressions of the quick relish of that pleasure which their dogs and horses have a more delicate taste of. I do also in my heart detest and abhor that damnable doctrine and position of the necesșity of a bumper, though to one's own toast; for though it be pretended that these deep potations are used only to inspire gaiety, they certainly drown that cheerfulness which would survive a moderate circulation. If at these meetings it were left to every stranger either to fill his glass according to his own inclination, or to make his retreat when he finds he has been sufficiently obedient to that of others, these entertainments would be governed with more good sense, and consequently with more good breeding, than at present they are. Indeed, where any of the guests are known to measure their fame or pleasure by their glass, proper exhortations might be used to these to push their fortunes in this sort of reputation; but, where it is unseasonably insisted on to a modest stranger, this drench may be said to be swallowed with the same necessity as if it had been tendered in the horn for that purpose *, with this aggravating circumstance, that it distresses the entertainer's guest in the same degree as it relieves his horses.
' To attend without impatience an account of fivebarred gates, double ditches, and precipices, and to survey the orator with desiring eyes, is to me extremely difficult, but absolutely necessary, to be upon tolerable terms with him ; but then the occasional bursting out into laughter is of all other accomplishments the most requisite. I confess at present I have not that command of these convulsions as is necessary to be good company; therefore I beg you would publish this letter, and let me be known all at once for a queer fellow, and avoided. It is monstrous to me, that we who are given to reading and calm conversation should ever be visited by these roarers : but they think they themselves, as neighbours, may come into our rooms with the same right that they and their dogs hunt in our grounds.
* A horn is used to administer potions to horses.
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 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 conversationpiece, except he had broke his collar-bone thrice. A broken rib or two might also adinit 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 most irksome conversation of all others I have met with in the neigbbourhood, has been among 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 prettinesses 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 Apennines,
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 iny way through them at neighbours' houses. There is in particular a young hound of great expectation, vivacity, and enterprise, that attends my Nights wherever he spies me. This creature observes my countenance, and behaves himself accordingly. His mirta, 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 shows 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 wę took with one another at school and the university, we would maintain and exert upon 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 reflexions 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 l'rench were to that of the public, and I would be at an annual expence 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 insipid 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 an 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.
J. R. **
« Mr. SPECTATOR,
• About two years ago I was called upon by the younger part of a country fainily, by my mother's side related to me, to visit Mr. Campbell +,
* This letter was probably written by Steele's fellow colle. gian and friend, the Rev. Mr. Richard Parker. This accom. plished 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 neighbourbood ; 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 convic viality.
+ Duncan Campbell announced himself to the public as a Scotch highlander, gifted with the second sight. He was, or