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recounted a series of them, each rising above the other in a sort of magnificent burlesque and want of literal preciseness, to a medley of laughing and sour faces, when on his proceeding to state a joke of a practical nature by the said Peter, a Mr. (I forget the name) objected to the moral of the story, and to the whole texture of Mr. T's facetiæ—upon which our host, who had till now supposed that all was going on swimmingly, thought it time to interfere and give a turn to the conversation by saying
Why yes, Gentlemen, what we have hitherto heard fall from the lips of our friend has been no doubt entertaining and highly agreeable in its way: but perhaps we have had enough of what is altogether delightful and pleasant and light and laughable in conduct. Suppose, therefore, we were to shift the subject, and talk of what is serious and moral and industrious and laudable in character-Let us talk of Mr. Tomkins, the Penman!”—This staggered the gravest of us, broke up our dinner-party, and we went up stairs to tea. So much for the didactic vein of one of our principal guides in the embellished walks of modern taste, and master-manufacturers of letters. He had found that gravity had been a never-failing resource when taken at a pinch--for once the joke miscarried-and Mr.
Tomkins the Penman figures to this day nowhere but in Sir Joshua's picture of him!
To complete the natural Aristocracy of Letters, we only want a Royal Society of Authors !