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larly echoing the announcement of every carriage as it was called, generally accompanying it with some remark regarding the motions of the owners. Thus, if Lady D.'s carriage was vociferated, he would loudly repeat it, with the addition of “ stops the way;” if Lady E.'s, he would cry out, “ gone some time;" if Lord F.'s, “gone to Brooks's with Lord G.;” if Lady H.'s, “has not been here to-night."
Townsend (then a young minister of police) complained bitterly of this person, for rivalling him, as he said, in his vocation and once said, with his characteristic liberty of speech, meaning really to compliment him, “ What an excellent police officer was spoilt, Sir, when you were made a gentleman. The laugh occasioned by this innuendo kept away the aspirant of fashion two whole nights.
What became of this useless order of beings, as they grew older, I never could exactly make out. It is certain most of them disappeared, though some continued to be seen lounging on the shady side of Pall Mall” in summer, or expelling smoke from their cigars in winter ; neither advancing nor retrograding; the only alteration being from youth
Now and then one of them might contrive to make a comfortable marriage, and take his place among his sister dowagers at the card-table; but
most passed their lives in useless, monotonous, and irrespectable celibacy: not put to shame by any notorious vice, but total strangers to any active virtue.
Those whose annuities were of a smaller kind altogether disappeared, and were scattered about the world, glad to escape into the colonies, or, if they had interest, into some public office, where I have sometimes detected them, rather to their dismay. But again, “ Vogue la galère."
I could write a volume on the different characters I met with ; some at the clubs, and some at the tables of the great, particularly at Lord Castleton's, where, as his aide-de-camp (the title he gave me), I had my regular place. The parties were, as may be supposed, chiefly political ; but they admitted, from the taste and character of the host, of a mixture of rank and conditions, from the élite of the haute noblesse, to the untitled, but talented man of genius, in letters, or the liberal arts.
The conversation, therefore, was often rich and interesting, and generally agreeable ; nor, with such a field for it, did I forget Lady Hungerford's advice, to endeavour to banish what it was madness to think of, in the pictures of life thus presented to me.
At one of these dinners, composed of company such as I have described, I was greatly amused, and edified too, by meeting a new sort of character, of whose very existence I had hitherto been igno
rant. Granville, who was in general, from his knowledge of the wits, men of letters, and critics of the time, entrusted by Lord Castleton with the task of selecting his guests of this description, had brought this person to the party, to all of whom (at least, those of a higher degree) he seemed a perfect stranger.
Yet everybody had heard of the eminent critic, Mr. John Paragraph ; although nobody knew what he had been until he blazed forth as one of the directors of the public taste, which he condescended to guide in a periodical publication. Perhaps he had been, like myself, a decayed gentleman ; though, unlike myself, he had been ten years on the town. Hence, on the strength of a considerable portion of verjuice in his composition, and impenetrable impudence in scattering it, whether in print or conversation, he became a first-rate character in the walk he had chosen.
Mr. Paragraph was eminent for a natural slang, which passed, with vulgar people, for wit, and with the weak and timid, for overpowering ability. “Yet I have long," said Granville, who gave me this account, “ taken measure of his understanding and acquirements, and even as what he pretends to be, a critic, have found him below mediocrity ; but, as a man who has either the mind, manners, or literature of a gentleman, he is not to be named. For the fellow has not a
feeling of liberality in his whole carcase; not a sentiment of poetry, a spark of imagination, or the commonest knowledge of history, still less of the nature of man. Yet, having bought a press, he sets up
for a critic of all work-poetical, political, historical, and ethical. He is a cormorant for praise from his miserable hacks, whom he governs with a rod of iron; and, what is more, he makes money by selling his praises to the weak and vain--the would-be authors and orators. If
these there are some above purchasing his puffs, he is able sometimes to force them to buy off his abuse, which they are fools enough not to see rather does them good than harm."
“ How comes it, however,” said I, “ that you produce such a man? for I hear you have invited him to dine with Lord Castleton.”
Why, he is one of those persons, who, being free from all burthen of modesty, and revelling in their intrepidity of assurance, are so far of use, in company, that they will not let people go to sleep. I have, therefore, prevailed upon Lord Castleton, who has heard of, but never yet saw him, to let me invite him, if only to shew the sort of animal he is. You may be sure the invitation was accepted, for he is a great tuft-hunter, as well as a great feeder. A turtle would entice him anywhere, and for a plate of it he would even sell a commendation of the worst book that ever was written. But
turtle from a lord, and that lord a minister, will elevate him to the third heaven ; for it is certain that his good things, if he have any, depend upon the good things on the table, and the flow of his wit upon the flow of the claret. In short, in these respects, he is an illustration of the description which Johnson gives of a third or fourth rate critic, who finds he can boil his weekly pot better by abuse than by praise.”
Granville added, moreover, that Paragraph was a most despotic monarch in his way, and a bully. among all minor publishers and authors.
“ In short,” said he,“ it is not easy to say whether vanity, avariče, or impudence, are uppermost in his character.”
Such was the redoubtable Mr. Paragraph, whom my friend had persuaded Lord Castleton to invite to his dinner, with a view to shew him and his company what they had often heard of, but perhaps not seen-one of the self-elected rulers of public opinion.
This account of Mr. Paragraph raised both my curiosity and fear. I, however, allayed the last by resolving not to encounter him, but only to listen.
During the first course, everybody was so intent upon the business for which they had assembled, that they gave one another little opportunity for conversation ; and I could see nothing in this