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into the aggravation of the case made out against the Serjeant, who was fined three dozen of wine, which he paid with great good humour.
Arthur Murphy considered an evening passed at the Beef-Steaks, to be the consummation of social enjoyment.
Many years afterwards, a friend introduced me to that festive board, nor was I insensible to sundry whisperings of ambition, that hinted to me how delightful a thing it must be to be enrolled among its members. Mingay was the person who took me, and I think it was in the
1799, I do not recollect all who were present on that day, but I remarked particularly John Kemble, Cobb of the India House, His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, Sir John Cox Hippisley, Charles Morris, Ferguson of Aberdeen, and his Grace of Norfolk. This nobleman took the chair when the cloth was removed. It is a place of dignity, elevated some steps above the table, and decorated with the various insignia of the Society; amongst which was suspended the identical small cocked-hat in which Garrick used to play the part of Ranger. As soon as the clock strikes five, a ·curtain draws up, discovering the kitchen, in which the cooks are dimly seen plying their several offices, through a sort of grating, with this appropriate motto from Macbeth inscribed over
“IF IT WERE DONE, WHEN 'TIS DONE, THEN 'TWERE
IT WERE DONE QUICKLY.”
But the steaks themselves ;-—they were of the highest order, and I can never forget the good will with which they were devoured. In this respect, no one surpassed the Duke of Norfolk. He was totus in illis. Eyes, hands, mouth, were all intensely exercised; not a faculty played the deserter. His appetite literally grew by what it fed
Two or three succeeding steaks, fragrant from the gridiron, rapidly vanished. In my simplicity, I thought that his labours were over.
I was deceived, for I observed him rubbing a clean plate with a shalot, to prepare it for the reception of another.
A pause of ten minutes ensued, and his Grace rested upon his knife and fork; but it was only a pause, and I found that there was a good reason
for it. Like the epic, a rump of beef has a beginning, a middle, and an end. The palate of an experienced beef-steaker can discern all its progressive varieties, from the first cut to the last ; and he is a mere tyro at the business, who does not know, that towards the middle there lurks a fifth essence, the perfect ideal of tenderness and flavour. Epicurism itself, in its fanciful combinations of culinary excellence, never dreamed of any thing surpassing it. For this cut, the Duke had wisely tarried, and for this he re-collected his forces. At last he desisted, but more I thought from fatigue than satiety; lassatus, non satiatus. I need not hint, that powerful irrigations of port encouraged and relieved at intervals the organs engaged in this severe duty.
Nor could I help admiring that his Grace, proverbially an idolater of the table, should have dined with such perfect complacency úpon beefsteaks ;-he whose eyes and appetite roved every day amidst the rich variety of a ducal banquet, to which ocean, earth, and air, paid their choicest contingents. His palate, I thought, would sigh as in captivity for the range in which it was wont to expatiate, A member, who sate next me, remarked, that in beef-steaks there was considerable variety, and he had seen the most finished gourmands about the town quite delighted with the simple repast of the Society. But with regard to the Duke of Norfolk, he hinted, that it was his custom, on a beef-steak day, to eat a preliminary dish of fish in his own especial box at the Piazza, and then adjourn time enough for the beef-steaks. He added also, and I heartily concurred in his remark, that a mere dish of fish could make no more difference to the iron digestion of his Grace, than a tenpenny nail, more or less, in that of an ostrich. After dinner, the Duke was ceremoniously ushered to the chair, and invested with an orange-coloured ribbon, to which a silver medal, in the form of a gridiron, was appended. In the chair, he comported himself with great urbanity and good humour. On common occasions, the president is the target, at which all the jests and witticisms of the table are fired. On this, the fire was moderate; for though a characteristic equality reigns at the Beef-Steaks, the influences of rank and station are felt there, as they are in
every society composed of English gentlemen; and a courtesy stole insensibly upon those, who at other times were the most merciless assailants on the chair. I observed then, and I afterwards found my observation confirmed, that the Duke's conversation was various, embracing a large circle of anecdote, and displaying much of the terseness of phrase, and accuracy of thinking, familiar to men who have combined much experience with considerable reading. I was astonished to see how little effect the sturdy port wine of the Society produced on his adamantine constitution; for the same abhorrence of a vacuum, which had disposed him to do such ample justice to his dinner, showed itself no less in his unflinching devotion to the bottle.
Charles Morris, the bard of the Club, sung one or two excellent songs, of his own composition, the very essence of convivial mirth and fancy; and, at nine o'clock, the Duke of Norfolk quitted the chair, and Sir John Hippisley was called to that unenviable dignity. Poor man, he had a terrible time of it. A storm of “ and iron shower" whistled from all points in his