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that carry an air of penetration in the observer. These faults have been objected to the following essays; and it must be owned, in some measure, that the charge is true. However, I could have made them more metaphysical had I thought fit; but I would ask whether, in a short essay, it is not necessary to be superficial * Before we have prepared to enter into the depths of a subject in the usual forms, we have arrived at the bottom of our scanty page, and thus lose the honours of a victory, by too tedious a preparation for the combat. There is another fault in this collection of trifles, which I fear will not be so easily pardoned. It will be alleged that the humour of them—if any be found—is stale and hackneyed. This may be true enough as matters now stand; but I may with great truth assert, that the humour was new when I wrote it. Since that time, indeed, many of the topics, which were first started here, have been hunted down, and many of the thoughts blown upon. In fact, these Essays were considered as quietly laid in the grave of oblivion; and our modern compilers, like sextons and executioners, think it their undoubted right to pillage the dead. However, whatever right I have to complain of the public, they can as yet have no just reason to complain of me. If I have written dull essays, they have hitherto treated them as dull essays. Thus far we are at least upon par; and until they think fit to make me their humble debtor by praise, I am resolved not to lose an inch of my self-importance. Instead, therefore, of attempting to establish a credit amongst them, it will perhaps be wiser to apply to some more distant correspondent, and as my drafts are in some danger of being protested at home, it may not be imprudent upon this occasion to draw my bills upon posterity.—“Mr. Posterity. Sir, nine hundred and ninety-nine years after sight hereof, pay the bearer or order, a thousand pounds' worth of praise, free from all deductions whatsoever, it being a commodity that will then be very serviceable to him, and place it to the accompt of,” &c.
I remember to have read in some philosopher—I believe in Tom Brown's works—that, let a man's character, sentiments, or complexion, be what they will, he can find company in London to match them. If he be splenetic, he may every day meet companions on the seats in St. James's park, with whose groans he may mix his own, and pathetically talk of the weather. If he be passionate, he may vent his rage among the old orators at Slaughter's coffee-house, and damn the nation because it keeps him from starving. If he be phlegmatic, he may sit in silence at the hum-drum club in Ivy-Lane; and if actually mad, he may find very good company in Moorfields, either at Bedlam or the Foundery,” ready to cultivate a nearer acquaintance.
But, although such as have a knowledge of the town may easily class themselves with tempers congenial to their own,
(1) [On the 9th of November 1759, three days after the appearance of “The Bee,” came out ‘The Busy Body; a periodical paper, somewhat on the plan of the older essayists, published by Pottinger, price two-pence, and to appear every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. After attaining its twelfth number, it ceased as a distinct work, being then merged in another by a different publisher. The numbers were collected into a thin volume, now very scarce. The papers contributed by Goldsmith were this and the following essay; the poem entitled ‘The Logicians Refuted, and the stanzas on the taking of Quebec.]
(2) [The Methodist Meeting, so called.]
a countryman who comes to live in London finds nothing more difficult. With regard to myself, none ever tried with more assiduity, or came off with such indifferent success. I spent a whole season in the search, during which time my name has been inrolled in societies, lodges, convocations, and meetings without number. To some I was introduced by a friend, to others invited by an advertisement; to these I introduced myself, and to those I changed my name to gain admittance. In short, no coquette was ever more solicitous to match her ribbons to her complexion, than I to suit my club to my temper; for I was too obstinate to bring my temper to conform to it. The first club I entered upon coming to town, was that of the Choice Spirits. The name was entirely suited to my taste; I was a lover of mirth, good-humour, and even sometimes of fun, from my childhood. As no other passport was requisite but the payment of two shillings at the door, I introduced myself without farther ceremony to the members, who were already assembled, and had for some time begun upon business. The Grand, with a mallet in his hand, presided at the head of the table. I could not avoid, upon my entrance, making use of all my skill in physiognomy, in order to discover that superiority of genius in men, who had taken a title so superior to the rest of mankind. I expected to see the lines of every face marked with strong thinking; but though I had some skill in this science, I could for my life discover nothing but a pert simper, fat or profound stupidity. My speculations were soon interrupted by the Grand, who had knocked down Mr. Spriggins for a song. I was upon this whispered by one of the company who sat next me, that I should now see something touched off to a nicety; for Mr. Spriggins was going to give us Mad Tom in all its glory. Mr. Spriggins endeavoured to excuse himself; for, as he was to act a madman and a king, it was impossible to go through the part properly without a crown and chains. His excuses were over-ruled by a great majority, and with much vociferation. The president ordered up the jack-chain, and instead of a crown, our performer covered his brows with an inverted jordan. After he had rattled his chain, and shook his head, to the great delight of the whole company, he began his song. As I have heard few young fellows offer to sing in company that did not expose themselves, it was no great disappointment to me to find Mr. Spriggins among the number; however, not to seem an odd fish, I rose from my seat in rapture, cried out, bravo! encore and slapped the table as loud as any of the rest. The gentleman who sat next me seemed highly pleased with my taste and the ardour of my approbation; and whispering told me that I had suffered an immense loss; for had I come a few minutes sooner, I might have heard Geeho-Dobbin sung in a tip-top manner by the pimple-nosed spirit at the president's right elbow : but he was evaporated before I came. As I was expressing my uneasiness at this disappointment, I found the attention of the company employed upon a fat figure, who, with a voice more rough than the Staffordshire giant's, was giving us the Softly Sweet in Lydian Measure of Alexander's Feast. After a short pause of admiration, to this succeeded a Welch dialogue with the humours of Teague and Taffy : after that came on Old Jackson, with a story between every stanza: next was sung the Dust-cart, and then Solomon's Song. The glass began now to circulate pretty freely : those who were silent when sober, would now be heard in their turn : every man had his song, and he saw no reason why he should not be heard as well as any of the rest: one begged to be heard while he gave Death and the Lady in high taste; another sung to a plate which he kept trundling on the edges: nothing was now heard but singing; voice rose above voice, and the whole became one universal shout, when the landlord came to acquaint the company, that the reckoning was drank out. Rabelais calls the moments in which a reckoning is mentioned, the most melancholy of our lives: never was so much noise so quickly quelled, as by this short but pathetic oration of our landlord: Drank out ! was echoed in a tone of discontent round the table: drank out already that was very odds that so much punch could be drank out already impossible! The landlord, however, seeming resolved not to retreat from his first assurances, the company was dissolved and a president chosen for the night ensuing. A friend of mine, to whom I was complaining some time after the entertainment I have been describing, proposed to bring me to the club that he frequented, which he fancied would suit the gravity of my temper exactly. “We have at the Muzzy Club,” says he, “no riotous mirth nor awkward ribaldry; no confusion or bawling; all is conducted with wisdom and decency: besides, some of our members are worth forty thousand pounds ; men of prudence and foresight every one of them: these are the proper acquaintance, and to such I will to-night introduce you.” I was charmed at the proposal: to be acquainted with men worth forty thousand pounds, and to talk wisdom the whole night, were offers that threw me into rapture. At seven o'clock I was accordingly introduced by my friend; not indeed to the company, for though I made my best bow they seemed insensible of my approach, but to the table at which they were sitting. Upon my entering the room, I could not avoid feeling a secret veneration from the solemnity of the scene before me: the members kept WOL. I. M