Изображения страниц


Porson's company, as may well be supposed, was courted by all ranks, from the combination-room to the cider-cellar, for he mixed with all, and was to be found in both; and it was who should assist at his evening lectures, and who should carry away most from the oracle. But sometimes it would happen, as it does to most men, that he was bedevilled, and, pulling a book out of his pocket, read only to himself; at other times he was violent, and, catching the poker out of the fire, brandished it over his head, to the terror of the company. Of this trick, however, he was cured, once for all, by a spark of fighting notoriety, who, on seeing Porsor seize the poker, and not being used to a furious Greek, but in the play, snatched up the tongs, observing, two could play at that game. Upon this, the professor, with a sneer of his own, said, "I believe, if I should crack your skull, I should find it very empty." And if I should break your head,” replied the Irishman, “I should find it full of maggots." This retort pleased Porson so much, that he returned the poker to the fire, and repeated a whole chapter of Roderick Random, analogous to the affair.


There was a coffee-room at the principal inn where Sterne resided about the time he wrote his "Tristram Shandy," where gentlemen who frequented the house might read the newspapers: one of the greatest enjoy

ments of Sterne's life was spending an inoffensive hour in a snug corner of his room. There was a troop of horse at that time quartered in the town; one of the officers was a gay young man, spoiled by the free intercourse of the world, but not destitute of good qualities. This young gentleman was remarkable for his freedom of speech, and pointed reflections on the clergy. The modest Yorick was often obliged to hear toasts he could not approve, and conversations shocking to the ear of delicacy, and was frequently under the necessity of removing his seat or pretending deafness. The captain, resolving this conduct should no longer avail him, seated himself by Yorick, so as to prevent his retreat, and immediately began a profane indecent tale at the expense of the clerical profession, with his eyes steadfastly fixed on Yorick, who pretended not to notice his ill manners; when that became impossible, he turned to the military intruder, and gravely said, "Sir, I'll tell you my story. My father is an officer, and is so brave himself, that he is fond of everything else that is brave, even his dog. You must know we have at this time one of the finest creatures of his kind in the world, the most spirited, yet the best-natured that can be imagined; so lively that he charms everybody; but he has a cursed trick that throws a shade over all his good qualities." "Pray, what may that be?" interrogated the officer: "He never sees a clergyman, but he instantly flies at him," answered Yorick. "How long has he had that trick?" "Why, Sir," replied the divine, "ever since he was a puppy! The man of war for once blushed, and, after a pause, said, "Doctor, I thank you for your hint: give me your hand; I will never rail at a parson again."



A Cantab, when on a tour in the country, chanced to enter a strange church, and, after he had been seated some little time, another person was ushered into the same pew with him. The service had proceeded till the psalms were about to be read, when the stranger pulled out of his pocket a prayer-book, and offered to share it with the Cantab, though he perceived he had one in his hand. This generosity, the Cantab perceived, proceeded from a mere ostentatious display of his learning, as it proved to be in Latin; and he immediately declined the offer by saying, "Sir, I read nothing but Hebrew!"


The Rev. George Harvest accompanied his patron into France, and, during the necessary delay at some post-town, rambled after a bookseller's shop, and found one. There he amused himself awhile with his favourite companions, but at last reflected that his friends were in haste to depart, and might be much incommoded by his stay. He had forgot the name of the inn, and to expect him to find the road merely because he had travelled it before was to expect that Theseus should unravel the Dadalean labyrinth with the thread of Ariadne. Not a word of French could Harvest speak to be understood; but he recollected the sign of the inn was a lion; still how to make the bookseller comprehend this was the difficulty. Harvest, however, tall and sturdy, raised him

self, to the no small terror of the bookseller, with projected and curvetting arms, into the formidable attitude of a lion-rampant; and succeeded at length, by this happy effort, in suggesting to the imagination of the staring Frenchman the idea of a lion! But another difficulty of a more arduous nature now presented itself: there were black, red, and white lions; of which last colour was the lion in question. Now, no two-footed creature under the sun could less exemplify the following maxim,—

"That cleanliness is next to godliness,"

than the hero of this adventure; for Harvest was habitually very slovenly in his person. However, to complete the aggregate, and impress the idea, not of a lion only, but of a white-lion, upon the sensorium of Monsieur, Harvest unbuttoned his waistcoat and displayed his shirt: but, alas! like the mulberry-tree of old,

"Qui color albus erat nunc est contrarius albo."

This would have thrown but little light upon the subject, had not the polite Frenchman put a right construction upon the case, and extricated poor Harvest from his difficulty by a safe conveyance to



At Wimpole, formerly the seat of Lord Oxford, but now of Lord Hardwicke, there was to be seen a portrait

of Mr. Harley, the speaker, in his robes of office. The active part he took to forward the bill to settle the crown on the house of Hanover induced him to have a scroll painted in his hand bearing the title of that bill. Yet, soon after George the First arrived in England, Harley was sent to the Tower. This circumstance being told to Prior, whilst he was viewing the portrait, he took a pencil out of his pocket, and wrote on the white part of the scroll the date of the day on which Harley was committed to the Tower, and under it,



The poet, wrote the following character of himself, which was found in a pocket-book after his death :

poor for a bribe, and too proud to importune,
He had not the method of making a fortune:

Could love and could hate, so was thought somewhat odd,

No very great wit,—he believed in a God;

A post or a pension he did not desire,

But left church and state to Charles Townshend and Squire.


Porson one day visiting his brother-in-law, Mr. Pwho at that time lived in Lancaster Court, in the Strand, found him indisposed, and under the influence of medicine. On returning to the house of a common friend,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »