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cide. Nothing was served up at it, but the husks and shells of old, worn-out subjects; nor did the epigrammatic terseness in which they were expressed, atone for their staleness and vulgarity. It was Dulness herself presiding at her most chosen rites. Whether it was from her leaden influence, or that of the philosophic Port~I returned yawning home, feelingly convinced, that if literary men could make books, they were quite incompetent to make Clubs.
Is it not a provoking problem, or rather a mortifying truth, that parties of this kind should, at least ten times in twelve, turn out stupid and uninstructive? Is it that they speak more from books than from themselves; that they are given too much to pamphlet-speaking, a most unequal tribute levied on human patience, and a direct breach of the great tact of conversation, which is a touch-and-go sort of affair ? At the Thatched-House, on that occasion, no man's mind seemed to repose in its careless and unfettered attitudes; and I remarked that every talker was evidently anxious to assemble every thing that could sustain his proposition. Never shall I forget the panic I felt when a privileged proser, preparing to explain that most delightful question the currency—said, he must be permitted to consider it upon three distinct grounds. But, God help him ! he did not stop for permission, and off he set with the most complete dulness prepense. What could be more appalling than the certainty of having one's attention lugged along by a true-bred proser going over his three grounds ? It is like travelling in an open country, and seeing the mile-stones ranged in a straight line before you, without a hedge or a turning to cheat you of the distance.
This literature of ours, that we are, perhaps, justly proud of, much as it may improve and embellish the general society of mankind, does not act so propitiously upon our little coteries ; and, when the mania breaks into our family circles, it substitutes for the smiling household charities, the graceful harmonies that render private life sweet and wholesome, a thousand pedantries and affectations: I am a little sore on this point. For, whilst the smack of the philosophic Port was yet recent in my mouth, and the
din of the prosing still buzzing in my ear, I was hooked into an engagement, which I would wil. lingly have declined, could I have made head against the tyranny of etiquette, which was quite against me, and the decision of a cabinet council, where my wife and daughters had already determined the point. It was to dine with a literary banker in the city, and his no less literary wife; and, as a whet for the intellectual treat in reserve for me, care was taken to let me know that the lady had written an article upon political economy in one of the Reviews. At dinner, besides the highly talented (if I must use the barbarism) host and hostess, were three or four of those would-be-clever-if-they-could men, as Jeremy Bentham would call them, who have scraped together a good deal of literary jargon, by means of lectures, institutes, reviews, and other kinds of machinery for the abridgment of mental labour ; and who, by eternal fluttering about a Blue Woman, are the main contributors, next to her own vanity, to the making her a finished, ineffable bore. As for the dinner itself, it neither displayed vulgar plenty, nor elegant tenuity; a matter which, like Henry VII., when they voted him an insufficient subsidy, I “ rather noted,” to use Lord Bacon's phrase, “ than liked.”
But the conversation was disgusting beyond measure ; for it began with a satirical mention of one or two of my dearest friends, whom I knew to be highly gifted, and in point of intellectual elevation, lifted immeasurably above the loftiest ken of the gabbling coxcombs, who presumed to sit in judgment upon them.
Yes," said the lady, “I was sadly disappointed with H-; I could not draw him out. I tried him upon twenty topics, but he was incorrigibly stupid.”
Stupid !” I murmured to myself; but contempt came to the relief of my indignation. Oh the cross-purposes, the contradictions in this carnival of life! That your palmy, luxuriant genius, my valued H- your wakeful, exquisite sense of all that is fair and good, vibrating tremblingly on the nerve, "where agony is born"your unuttered, because unutterable loathing of all deformity in morals, or in letters, and especially of the cant and impudence of female
pedants ;-your finished taste, on which, as in the purest mirror, virtue, truth, and literature throw their brightest reflections ;—that your high desert-your rich, flourishing intellect, attracted by instinct and feeling towards all that is lovely. and decorous in the universe-that these should be pawed, and handled, and criticised by this predestinated she-blockhead!
I sat some time near the Blue in silence, and knowing that silence, in the vocabulary of these women, passes for stupidity, thought myself se
But I had reckoned without my hostess. . I was engaged in a rough controversy with the limb of an “unwedgeable and gnarled” fowl, for which somebody had applied, when she brought me instantly to, by firing a question at me, that made the weapon fall from my hands, as I was performing the mutilation.
“Pray can you tell me,” said she, “ how long the Argonautic expedition was before the siege of Troy ?”
I answered rather doggedly, that if she would tell me the exact date of the siege, I would endeavour to compute that of the expedition. But