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cast of countenance ; of which the president and officers for the time being are to determine, and the president to have the casting voice. ‘2. That a singular regard be had upon examination to the gibbosity of the gentlemen that offer themselves as founder's kinsmen ; or to the obliquity of their figure, in what sort soever. ‘3. That if the quantity of any man's nose be eminently miscalculated, whether as to length or breadth, he shall have a just pretence to be elected. “Lastly, That if there shall be two or more competitors for the same vacancy, carteris paribus, he that has the thickest skin to have the preference. “Every fresh member, upon his first night, is to entertain the company with a dish of cod-fish, and a speech in praise of AEsop, whose portraiture they have in full proportion, or rather disproportion, over the chimney; and their design is, as soon as their funds are sufficient, to purchase the heads of Thersites, Duns Scotus, Scarron, Hudibras, and the old gentleman in Oldham, with all the celebrated ill faces of antiquity, as furniture for the club-room. “As they have always been professed admirers of the other sex, so they unanimously declare that they will give all possible encouragement to such as will take the benefit of the statute, though none yet have appeared to do it. “The worthy president, who is their most devoted champion, has lately shown me two copies of verses, composed by a gentleman of his society; the first, a congratulatory ode, inscribed to Mrs. Touchwood, upon the loss of her two fore teeth ; the other, a panegyric upon Mrs. Andiron's left shoulder. Mrs. Vizard, he says, since the small-pox, has grown tolerably ugly, and a top toast in the club ; but I never heard him so lavish of his fine things, as upon old Nell Trot, who continually officiates at their table; her he even adores and extols as the very counterpart of Mother Shipton; in short, Nell, says he, is one of the extraordinary works of nature; but as for complexion, shape, and features, so valued by others, they are all mere outside and symmetry, which is his aversion. Give me leave to add, that the president is a facetious, pleasant gentleman, and never more so, than when he has got, as he calls them, his dear mummers about him ; and he often protests it does him good to meet a fellow with a right genuine grimace in his air (which is so agreeable in the generality of the French nation); and, as an instance of his sincerity in this particular, he gave me a sight of a list in his pocket-book of all this class, who for these five years have fallen under his observation, with himself at the head of them, and in the rear (as one of a promising and improving aspect),
‘Sir, your obliged and humble servant,
‘OxFORD, March 12, 1711.’
[Spectator, No. 17.
Ø (Loffee-bouge ant its frequenterg
IT is very natural for a man who is not turned for mirthful meetings of men, or assemblies of the fair sex, to delight in that sort of conversation which we find in coffee-houses. Here a man of my temper is in his element; for if he cannot talk, he can still be more agreeable to his company, as well as pleased in himself, in being only a hearer. It is a secret known but to few, yet of no small use in the conduct of life, that when you fall into a man's conversation, the first thing you should consider is, whether he has a great inclination to hear you, or that you should hear him. The latter is the more general desire, and I know very able flatterers that never speak a word in praise of the persons from whom they obtain daily favours, but still practise a skilful attention to whatever is uttered by those with whom they converse. We are very curious to observe the behaviour of great men and their clients; but the same passions and interests move men in lower spheres; and I, that have nothing else to do but make observations, see in every parish, street, lane, and alley, of this populous city, a little potentate that has his court and his flatterers, who lay snares for his affection and favour by the same arts that are practised upon men in higher stations. In the place I most usually frequent, men differ rather in the time of day in which they make a figure, than in any real greatness above one another. I, who am at the coffee-house at six in the morning, know that my friend Beaver, the haberdasher, has a levee of more undissembled friends and admirers than most of the courtiers or generals of Great Britain. Every man about him has, perhaps, a newspaper in his hand; but none can pretend to guess what step will be taken in any one court of Europe, till Mr. Beaver has thrown down his pipe, and declares what measures the allies must enter into upon this new posture of affairs. Our coffee-house is near one of the Inns of Court, and Beaver has the audience and admiration of his neighbours from six till within a quarter of eight, at which time he is interrupted by the students of the house; some of whom are ready dressed for Westminster at eight in a morning, with faces as busy as if they were retained in every cause there ; and others come in their night-gowns to saunter away their time, as if they never designed to go thither. I do not know that I meet in any of my walks, objects which move both my spleen and laughter so effectually as those young fellows at the Grecian, Squire's, Searle's, and all other coffee-houses adjacent to the law, who rise early for no other purpose but to publish their laziness. One would think these young virtuosos take a gay cap and slippers, with a scarf and party-coloured gown, to be ensigns of dignity; for the vain things approach each other with an air, which shows they regard one another for their vestments. I have observed that the superiority among these proceeds from an opinion of gallantry and fashion. The gentleman in the strawberry sash, who presides so much over the rest, has, it seems, subscribed to every opera this last winter, and is supposed to receive favours from one of the aCtreSSes. When the day grows too busy for these gentlemen to enjoy any longer the pleasures of their deshabille with any manner of confidence, they give place to men who have business or good sense in their faces, and come to the coffee-house either to transact affairs, or enjoy conversation. The persons to whose behaviour and discourse I have most regard, are such as are between these two sorts of men; such as have not spirits too active to be happy and well pleased in a private condition, nor complexions too warm to make them neglect the duties and relations of life. Of these sort of men consist the worthier part of mankind ; of these are all good fathers, generous brothers, friends, and faithful subjects. Their entertainments are derived rather from reason than imagination; which is the cause that there is no impatience or instability in their speech or action. You see in their countenances they are at home, and in quiet possession of their present instant as it passes, without desiring to quicken it by gratifying any passion, or prosecuting any new design. These are the men formed for society, and those little communities which we express by the word neighbourhoods. The coffee-house is the place of rendezvous to all that live near it, who are thus turned to relish calm and ordinary life. Eubulus presides over the middle hours of the day, when this assembly of men meet together. He enjoys a great fortune handsomely, without launching into expense; and exerts many noble and useful qualities, without appearing in any