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Lord Sandwich's, Wilkes's, Churchill's, are generally quoted as the golden period of the Society. I am old enough to remember Arthur Murphy, and from him I have heard many anecdotes of it at that time, for he dwelt fondly on the pleasant nights he had passed at the BeefSteaks. It must be remembered, that convivial societies then were less restrained in particular points than at present. Coarseness of expression was no objection to a witty saying, provided it was witty. It was at one of these Saturnalia that Lord Sandwich received Wilkes's answer to the indecent alternative he had put to him. “That depends,” réplied Wilkes, "upon this—whether I embrace your lordship’s principles or your mistress.” We cannot now detail the whole anecdote ; it is, however, so well known, that a slight allusion will recall it. Churchill was a convivial, but a very intemperate companion. There was a short day-light interval betwixt the flatness of his unexcited spirits, and the confusion of positive inebriety: in that short interval Charles Churchill was radiant. Every thing he said told; it hit between wind and water.
of the name of Bradshaw was at that time a member of the Beef-Steaks. He was vain of being descended from the regicide of that name. He was one day on his favourite topic, boasting of his ancestor's patriotism, when Churchill exclaimed, “ Ah, Bradshaw, don't crow! The Stuarts have been amply avenged for the loss of Charles's head, for you have not had a head in your whole family ever since.” At another time, a gentleman happening to cough vehemently, from the distressing accident of something going the wrong way,” Churchill said to him, “ If you are subject to it, I will tell you how to avoid it for the future.” How, how ?” inquired the other. “Why," returned Charles, "you have only to put up a direction-post in your throat, and you may be sure that then every thing will go right."
Churchill was not long a member. He owed his introduction to Wilkes, but his irregularities were so gross that he ceased at length to be a welcome visitant; and having shamefully deserted his wife, whose conduct was irreproachable, his reception after that affair was such as induced him to resign. It is not apparent for what reason, but he attributed the circumstance to Lord Sandwich, and the affront stimulated him to the satire which he wrote against that nobleman. It began thus
• From his youth upwards to the present day,
When vices more than years have made him grey;
As a poet, Churchill was much over-rated. He has now sunk to his level. He has only now and then a vigorous masculine line to atone for a long series of prosaic ones. Johnson always maintained him to be a shallow fellow. His popularity was never of an enviable kind. His satire administered to the bad feelings of the heart, and was read by those chiefly who love to see worth depreciated, and distinctions laid low. He died at Bologne, during a visit to his friend Wilkes, then an exile, and was buried at Dover.
David Garrick was a great ornament of the Beef-Steaks. He had no slight tincture of vanity, and was fond of accusing himself, to use Lord Chesterfield's phrase, of the cardinal virtues. Having remarked at the Club that he had so large a mass of manuscript plays submitted to his perusal, that they were constantly liable to be mislaid, he observed, that unpleasant as it was to reject an author's piece, it was an affront to the poor devil's feelings if it could not be instantly found; and that for this reason he made a point of ticketting and labelling the play that was to be returned, that it might be forthcoming at a moment's notice. "A fig for your hypocrisy !” exclaimed Murphy, across the table. " You know, Davy, you mislaid my tragedy two months ago, and I make no doubt you have lost it.” “Yes," replied Garrick ; " but you forget, you ungrateful dog, that I offered you more than its value, for you might have had two manuscript farces in its stead.”
On one occasion, Garrick dined in the BeefSteak room at Covent Garden, ready dressed in character for the part of Ranger, which he was to perform the same night at the other theatre. Ranger appears in the opening of the comedy, and as the curtain was not drawn up at the usual time, the audience began to manifest considerable impatience, for Garrick had not yet arrived. A call-boy was instantly dispatched for him, but he was unfortunately retarded by a line of car: riages that blocked up the whole of Russell Street, which it was necessary for him to cross. This protracted still further the commencement of the piece, and the house evinced considerable dissatisfaction, with cries of “ Manager, manager !" When Garrick, at length, reached the greenroom, he found Dr. Ford, one of the patentees, pacing backwards and forwards in great agitation. The moment the Doctor saw him, he addressed him in a strong tone of rebuke, “I think, David, considering the stake you and I have in this theatre, you might pay more attention to its business.” " True, my good friend,” returned Garrick, “ I should have been in good time, but