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CHOICE of friends, my dear Robert, is a point upon which every man about town should be instructed, as he should be careful. And as example, they say, is sometimes better than precept, and at the risk even of appearing somewhat ludicrous in your eyes, I will narrate to you an adventure which happened to myself, which is at once ridiculous and melancholy (at least to me), and which will show you how a man, not imprudent or incautious of his own nature, may be made to suffer by the imprudent selection of a friend. Attend then, my dear Bob, to " the History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia."

Sir, in the year 1810, I was a jolly young Bachelor, as you are now (indeed, it was three years before I married your poor dear Aunt) ; I had a place in the Tape and Sealing-Wax Office; I had Chambers in Pump Court, au troisième, and led a not uncomfortable life there. I was a free and gay young fellow in those days, (however much, sir, you may doubt the assertion, and think that I am changed,) and not so particular in my choice of friends as subsequent experience has led me to be.

There lived in the set of Chambers opposite to mine, a Suffolk gentleman, of good family, whom I shall call Mr. Bludyer. Our boys or clerks first made acquaintance, and did each other mutual kind offices: borrowing for their respective masters' benefit, neither of whom was too richly provided with the world's goods, coals, blacking-brushes, crockery-ware, and the like; and our forks and spoons, if either of us had an entertainment in Chambers. As I learned presently that Mr. Bludyer had been educated at Oxford, and heard that his elder brother was a gentleman of good estate and reputation in his county, I could have no objection to make his acquaintance, and accepted finally his invitation to meet a large game-pie which he had brought with him from the country, and I recollect I lent my own silver teapot, which figured handsomely on the occasion. It is the same one which I presented to you, when you took possession of your present apartments.

Mr. Bludyer was a sporting man: it was the custom in those days with many gentlemen to dress as much like coachmen as possible : in top-boots, huge white coats with capes, Belcher neckerchiefs, and the like adornments; and at the tables of bachelors of the very first fashion, you would meet with prizefighters and jockeys, and hear a great deal about the prize-ring, the cock-pit, and the odds. I remember my Lord Tilbury was present at this breakfast, (who afterwards lamentably broke his neck in a steeple-chase, by which the noble family became extinct,) and for some time I confounded his lordship with Dutch Sam, who was also of the party, and, indeed, not unlike the noble Viscount in dress and manner.

My acquaintance with Mr. Bludyer ripened into a sort of friendship. He was perfectly good-natured, and not ill-bred ; and his jovial spirits and roaring stories amused a man who, though always of a peaceful turn, had no dislike to cheerful companions. We used to dine together at coffee-houses, for Clubs were scarcely invented in those days, except for the aristocracy; and, in fine, were very intimate. Bludyer, a brave and athletic man, would often give a loose to his spirits of an evening, and mill a Charley or two, as the phrase then was. The young bloods of those days thought it was no harm to spend a night in the watch-house, and I assure you it has accommodated a deal of good company. Autres temps, autres mæurs. In our own days, my good Bob, a station-house bench is not the bed for a gentleman.

I was at this time (and deservedly so, for I had been very kind to her, and my elder brother, your father, neglected her considerably) the favorite nephew of your grand-aunt, my aunt, Mrs. General MacWhirter, who was left a very handsome fortune by the General, and to whom I do not scruple to confess I paid every attention to which her age, her sex, and her large income entitled her. I used to take sweetmeats to her poodle. I went and drank tea with her night after night. I accompanied her Sunday after Sunday to hear the Rev. Rowland Ilill, at the Rotunda Chapel, over Blackfriars Bridge, and I used to read many of the tracts which she liberally supplied me fact, do everything to comfort and console a lady of peculiar opinions and habits who had a large jointure. Your father used

I was a sneak, but he was then a boisterous young squire ; and, perhaps, we were not particularly good friends.

Well, sir, my dear aunt, Mrs. General MacWhirter, made me her chief confidant. I regulated her money matters for her, and acted with her bankers and lawyers ; and as she always spoke of your father as a reprobate, I had every reason to suppose I should inherit the property, the main part of which passed to another branch of the Browns. I do not grudge it, Bob: I do not grudge it. Your family is large; and I have enough from my poor dear departed wife.


to say

Now it so happened that, in June, 1811,– I recollect the comet was blazing furiously at the time, and Mrs. MacWhirter was of opinion that the world was at an end — Mr. Bludyer, who was having his chambers in Pump Court painted, asked permission to occupy mine, where he wished to give a lunch to some people whom he was desirous to entertain.

Thinking no harm, of course I said yes; and I went to my desk at the Tape and Sealing-Wax Office at my usual hour, giving instructions to my boy to make Mr. Bludyer's friends comfortable.

As ill-luck would have it, on that accursed Friday, Mrs. MacWhirter, who had never been up my staircase before in her life (for your dear grand-aunt was large in person, and the apoplexy which carried her off soon after menaced her always), having some very particular business with her solicitors in Middle Temple Lane, and being anxious to consult me about a mortgage, actually mounted my stairs, and opened the door on which she saw written the name of Mr. Thomas Brown. She was a peculiar woman, I have said, attached to glaring colors in her dress, and from her long residence in India, seldom without a set of costly Birds of Paradise in her bonnet, and a splendid Cashmere shawl.

Fancy her astonishment then, on entering my apartments at three o'clock in the afternoon, to be assailed in the first place by a strong smell of tobacco-smoke which pervaded the passage, and by a wild and ferocious bull-dog which flew at her on entering my sitting-room.

This bull-dog, sir, doubtless attracted by the brilliant colors of her costume, seized upon her, and pinned her down, screaming so that her voice drowned that of Bludyer himself, who was sitting on the table bellowing, " A Southerly Wind and a Cloudy Sky proclaim a Hunting Morning"-or some such ribald trash: and the brutal owner of the dog, (who was no other than the famous Mulatto boxer, Norroy, called the “Black Prince” in the odious language of the Fancy, and who was inebriated doubtless at the moment,) encouraged his dog in the assault upon this defenceless lady, and laughed at the agonies which she endured.

Mr. Bludyer, the black man, and one or two more, were arranging a fight on Moulsey Hurst, when my poor aunt made her appearance among these vulgar wretches. Although it was but three o'clock, they had sent to a neighboring tavern for ginand-water, and the glasses sparkled on the board, — to use a verse from a Bacchanalian song which I well remember Mr.

6o Come away,

Bludyer used to yell forth — when I myself arrived from my office at my usual hour, half-past three. The black fellow and young Captain Cavendish of the Guards were the smokers ; and it appears that at first all the gentlemen screamed with laughter; some of them called my aunt an “old girl ;” and it was not until she had nearly fainted that the filthy Mulatto called the dog off from the flounce of her yellow gown of which he had hold.

When this poor victim of vulgarity asked with a scream Where was her nephew? new roars of laughter broke out from the coarse gin-drinkers. 6. It's the old woman whom he goes to meeting with,” cried out Bludyer. boys !” And he led his brutalized crew out of my chambers into his own, where they finished, no doubt, their arrangements about the fight.

Sir, when I came home at my usual hour of half-past three, I found Mrs. MacWhirter in hysterics upon my sofa- the pipes were lying about — the tin dish-covers - the cold kidney's the tavern cruet-stands, and wretched remnants of the orgy were in disorder on the table-cloth, stained with beer. Seeing her fainting, I wildly bade my boy to open the window, and seizing a glass of water which was on the table, I presented it to her lips. - It was gin-and-water which I proffered to that poor lady.

She started up with a scream, which terrified me as I upset the glass : and with empurpled features, and a voice quivering and choking with anger, she vowed she would never forgive

In vain I pleaded that I was ignorant of the whole of these disgraceful transactions. I went down on my knees to her, and begged her to be pacified ; I called my boy, and bade him bear witness to my innocence: the impudent young fiend burst out laughing in my face, and I kicked him down stairs as soon as she was gone : for go she did directly to her carriage, which was in waiting in Middle Temple Lane, and to which I followed her with tears in my eyes, amidst a crowd of jeering barristers' boys and Temple porters. But she pulled up the window in my face, and would no more come back to me than Eurydice would to Orpheus.

If I grow pathetic over this story, my dear Bob, have I not reason? Your great-aunt left thirty thousand pounds to your family, and the remainder to the missionaries, and it is a curious proof of the inconsistency of women, that she, a serious person, said on her death-bed that she would have left her money to me, if I had called out Mr. Bludyer, who insulted


her, and with whom I certainly would have exchanged shots, had I thought that Mrs. MacWhirter would have encouraged any such murder.

My wishes, dear Bob, are moderate. Your aunt left me a handsome competency — and, I repeat, I do not grudge my brother George the money. Nor is it probable that such a calamity can happen again to any one of our family — that would be too great misfortune. But I tell you the tale, because at least it shows you how important good company is, and that a young man about town should beware of his friends as well as of his enemies.


The other day I saw you walking by the Serpentine with young Lord Foozle, of the Windsor Heavies, who nodded to all sorts of suspicious broughams on the ride, while you looked about (you know you did, you young rascal) for acquaint

as much as to say — “ See! here am I, Bob Brown, of Pump Court, walking with a lord.”

My dear Bob, I own that to walk with a lord, and to be seen with him, is a pleasant thing. Every man of the middle class likes to know persons of rank. If he says he don't don't believe him. And I would certainly wish that you should associate with your superiors rather than your inferiors. There is no more dangerous or stupefying position for a man in life than to be a cock of small society. It prevents bis ideas from growing : it renders him intolerably conceited. A twopenny halfpenny Cæsar, a Brummagem dandy, a coterie philosopher or wit, is pretty sure to be an ass; and, in fine, I set it down as a maxim that it is good for a man to live where he can meet his betters, intellectual and social.

But if you fancy that getting into Lord Foozle's set will do you good or advance your prospects in life, my dear Bob, you are wofully mistaken. The Windsor Heavies are a most gentleman-like, well-made, and useful set of men. The conversation of such of them as I have had the good fortune to meet, has not certainly inspired me with a respect for their intellectual qualities, nor is their life commonly of that kind which rigid ascetics would pronounce blameless. Some of the young men amongst them talk to the broughams, frequent the private boxes, dance at the Casinos ; few read — many talk about horseflesh and the odds after dinner, or relax with a little lansquenet or a little billiards at Pratt's.

My boy, it is not with the eye of a inoralist that your venerable old uncle examines these youths, but rather of a nat

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