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together as printers set up types, letter by letter. There is certainly no principle of short-hand in his mode of elocution. He goes round for a meaning, and the sense waits for him. It is not conversation, but rehearsing a part. Men of education and men of the world order this matter better. They know what they have to say on a subject, and come to the point at once. Your coffee-house politician balances between what he heard last and what he shall say next; and not seeing his way clearly, puts you off with circumstantial phrases, and tries to gain time for fear of making a false step. This gentleman has heard some one admired for precision and copiousness of language; and goes away, congratulating himself that he has not made a blunder in grammar or in rhetoric the whole evening. He is a theoretical Quidnuncmis tenacious in argument, though wary; carries his point thus - and thus, bandies objections and answers with uneasy pleasantry, and when he has the worst of the dispute, puns very emphatically on his adversary's name, if it admits of that kind of misconstruction.”
G i s admired by the waiter, who is a sleek hand* for his temper in managing an argument. Any one else would perceive that the latent cause is not patience with his antagonist, but satisfaction with himself. I think this unmoved self-complacency, this cavalier smooth simpering indifference is more annoying than the extremest violence or irritability. The one shews that your opponent does care something about you, and may be put out of his way by your remarks; the other seems to announce that nothing you say can shake his opinion a jot, that he has considered the whole of what you have to offer beforehand, and that he is in all respects much wiser and more accomplished than you. Such persons talk to grown people with the same air of patronage and condescension that they do to children. “They will explain”—is a familiar ex. pression with them, thinking you can only differ from them in consequence of misconceiving what they say. Or if you detect them in any error in point of fact (as to acknowledged deficiency in wit or argument, they would smile at the idea) they add some correction to your correction, and thus have the whip-hand of you again, being more correct than you who corrected them. If you hint some obvious oversight, they know what you are going to say, and were aware of the objection before you uttered it :-“ So shall their anticipation prevent your discovery.” By being in the right you gain no advantage : by being in the wrong you are entitled to the benefit of their pity or scorn! It is sometimes curious to see a select group of our little Gotham getting about a knotty point that will bear a wager, as whether Dr. Johnson's Dictionary was originally published in quarto or folio. The confident'assertions, the cautious overtures, the length of time demanded to ascertain the fact, the precise terms of the forfeit, the provisos for getting out of paying it at last, lead to a long and inextricable discussion. G w as however so convinced in his own mind that the Mourning Bride was written by Shakespear, that he ran headlong into the snare: the bet was decided, and the punch was drank. He has skill in numbers, and seldom exceeds his sevenpence. He had a brother once, no Michael Cassio, no great arithmetician: R- was a rare fellow, of the driest humour, and the nicest tact, of infinite sleights and evasions, of a picked phraseology, and the very soul of mimicry. I
* William, our waiter, is dressed neatly in black, takes in the Tickler, (which many of the gentlemen like to look into) wears, I am told, a diamond-pin in his shirt-collar, has a music-master to teach him to play on the flageolet two hours before the maids are up, complains of confinement and a delicate constitution, and is a complete Master Stephen in his way.
fancy I have some insight into physiognomy myself, but he could often expound to me at a single glance the characters of those of my acquaintance that I had been most at fault about. The account as it was cast up and balanced between us was not always very favourable. How finely, how truly, how gaily he took off the company at the S- ! Poor and faint are my sketches compared to his! It was like looking into a camera obscura-you saw faces shining and speakingthe smoke curled, the lights dazzled, the oak wainscoating took a higher polish there was old
s t all and gaunt, with his couplet from Pope and case at Nisi Prius, M eyeing the ventilator and lying perdu for a moral, and H and A taking another friendly finishing glass ! These and many more wind-falls of character he gave us in thought, word, and action. I remember his once describing three different persons together to myself and M-B- , viz. the manager of a country theatre, a tragic and a comic performer, till we were ready to tumble on the floor with laughing at the oddity of their humours, and at R- 's extraordinary powers of ventriloquism, bodily and mental ; and B~ said (such was the vividness of the scene) that when he awoke the next morning, he wondered what three amusing characters he had been in company with the evening before. Oh! it was a rich treat to see him describe M-df-rd, him of the Courier, the Contemplative Man, who wrote an answer to Cælebs, coming into a room, folding up his great coat, taking out a little pocket volume, laying it down to think, rubbing the calf of his leg with grave self-complacency, and starting out of his reverie when spoken to with an inimitable vapid exclamation of “ Eh!” M-df-rd is like a man made of fleecy hosiery: R- was lank and lean “as is the ribbed sea-sand." Yet he seemed the very man he represented, as fat, pert, and dull as it was possible to be. I have not seen him of late:
For Kais is fled, and our tents are forlorn.” But I thought of him the other day when the news of the death of Buonaparte came, whom we both loved for precisely contrary reasons, he for putting down the rabble of the people, and I because he had put down the rabble of kings. Perhaps this event may rouse him from his lurking-place, where he lies like Reynard, with head declined, in feigned slumbers * !”—
* His account of Dr. L- was prodigious—of his occult sagacity, of his eyes prominent and wild like a hare's,