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assimilated the different individuals to one model : such, however, is not always the case ; for our readers will see, in the following pages, that the wits and humorists who formed, and do form, the brilliant coteries here alluded to, present a variety of character, as rich and as strongly marked, as is found in the celebrated comedy which has contributed to immortalize the name of one of their most distinguished members,
RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN.
INTRODUCTION INTO BROOKES 'S.
It is proper to premise, that when any gentleman is desirous of being a member of Brookes's it is necessary that two members should propose him, and that his name, with those of the proposers, should be inscribed on a board over the fire-place of the club-room, for one month before his election or rejection is decided. This must be by ballot, and if even one black ball be thrown into the urn the candidate cannot be admitted. This rule in the olden time was, like the Median and Persian laws, never infringed; perhaps it is not now; but the present members of the club are not so rigid as to the character, quality, and fortune of candidates, as their fathers were. Twenty years ago the club was select and by no means numerous ; a citizen or merchant could seldom or never obtain admission ;. and wealth alone, without high blood or transcendant talent, was generally excluded.
Within a few late years, the number of members has been extended to fifteen hundred ; consequently, wealth, or a seat in the opposition, has been a pretty certain passport for admission. Election by ballot, however, still continues, and the only person who ever became a member without this ceremony was
his present Majesty, then Prince of Wales. His Royal Highness entered the club in order to have more frequent intercourse with Mr. Fox; and, on his first appearance, every member got up and welcomed him by acclamation.—But to return to the subject of the present anecdote.
When Fox first became acquainted with Mr. Sheridan he was so delighted with his company and brilliant conversation, that he became extremely anxious to get him admitted as a member of Brookes's club, which he himself was in the habit of frequenting every night. Sheridan was accordingly proposed, and though, on several occasions, every gentleman was earnestly canvassed to vote for him, yet he was sure to have one black ball whenever he was balloted for, which was of course sufficient to disqualify him.
This was carried on for many months, and it was at length resolved on by his friends to find out who the person was that so inveterately opposed the admission of the orator. Accordingly, the balls were marked, and old George Selwyn, (whose aristocratic prejudices would have induced him to blackball his Majesty himself, if he could not produce proofs of noble descent for three generations at least,) was discovered to be the hostile party. This circumstance was told the same evening to Mr. Sheridan, who desired that his name might be put up again as usual, and begged that the farther conduct of the matter might be lest to himself.
Accordingly, on the next evening, when he was to be balloted for, Sheridan arrived at Brookes's, arm-inarm with the Prince of Wales, just ten minutes be
fore the balloting began. Being shown into the candidates' waiting-room, the waiter was ordered to tell Mr. Selwyn that the Prince desired to speak with him in the room below-stairs immediately. Selwyn obeyed the summons without delay; and Sheridan, to whom, by the by, he had no personal dislike, entertained him for half-an-hour with a political story, which interested him very much, but which, of course, had no foundation in truth.
During Selwyn's absence, the balloting went on, and Sheridan was chosen ; which circumstance was announced to himself and the Prince by the entrance of the waiter, who made the preconcerted signal, by stroking his chin with his hand. Sheridan immediately got up, and apologizing for an absence of a few minutes, told Mr. Selwyn, “that the Prince would finish the narrative, the catastrophe of which he would find very remarkable."
He now made his way up-stairs, and his name being sent in to Mr. Fox, the latter came out, took him by the hand, and introduced him with all due formality to the Club; all the members of which welcomed him, by shaking hands, and with the most flattering compliments.—Sheridan was now in his glory !
The Prince, in the mean time, was left in no enviable situation ; for, he had not the least idea of being left to conclude a story, the thread of which (if it had a thread) he had entirely forgotten ; or which, perhaps, his eagerness to serve Sheridan's cause, prevented him from listening to, with sufficient attention, to take up where Sheridan had dropped it. Still, by means of his auditor's occasional assistance in the way of prompting, he contrived, with a great deal of