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LETTER XV.

London.

DEAR BROTHER,

MR. ********, who, in consequence of his extensive dealings with the United States, is sometimes partly civil to us Americans, amused me lately with an account of the anniversary dinner of the ******* ****** Society, to which he is one of the subscribers, and which is honoured by having his Grace of York for its patron. The dinner was given at the Old London Tavern, where there is a capital cook, and the fare equal to any in the city. Indeed Mr. ******** seemed, as I thought, rather to countenance a suspicion, that if it were not for the bond of good fellowship and good eating at these places, most of these Societies would soon fall to the ground. The anniversary dinners are, he says, however, aided by the honour of an association with their Royal Highnesses, who patronise these Societies by always coming to the dinners, and by the particular care always taken to record their proceedings, as well as the presence of their Royal Highnesses, in the public papers. This dinner co

This dinner cost some three or four hundred guineas; and was so excellent, that, I am assured by Mr. ******** that the venison and iced Champagne so wrought upon several present, that they actually subscribed nearly the amount of the price of a ticket to the charitable fund. He likewise binted, that there are not a few of these subscription-people, who thus unite charity and economy with the gratification of their appetites, and under cover of the first, escape the imputation of gluttony and hard-drinking. By this you are not to understand any imputation on the ********** of ********** **, Lord *******

**, or either of the Royal Dukes, who are extremely liberal in their attendance on the anniversary dinners. Not one of these, Mr. ******** assured me, indulged in any indecorum of speech, or extravagance in drinking, on this occasion ; but whether this proceeded from a habit of temperance, or an untoward accident, which took place shortly after the cloth was remd

moved, must be left in doubt. You will understand, my dear brother, that no mission can be sent to India ; no poor people relieved, nor any poor children put to a charity school, unless there be a good dinner, and plenty of wine consumed, as a sort of modern christian lihation to the goddess of charity. So universal is this practice of eating and drinking for the benefit of the souls of the Bramins, and the bodies of the English, that it is computed the consumption at these feasts would go a considerable way in relieving the poor of the nation. In no two places, I am told, do they keep up this classical mode of making libations more piously and charitably, than at the meetings of the ***** *********, and the Society for the suppression of vice and immorality, at which last they generally drink eighteen bumper toasts, to set a good example to tavern tipplers and the rising generation. In brief, nothing of this kind can be done without a good dinner, which is a sine qua non with the Royal Dukes and my

Lord ******* for which the latter is ra

ther more tenacious than he was for the sine qua non at the treaty of Ghent. Not one of the Royal Dukes will patronise a Society that does not give a famous anniversary dinner, with plenty of iced Champagne.

So notorious, in fact, is the propensity to hard eating among the better sort here, that Mr. Accum the chymist, from the most benevolent motives, lately published a book on purpose to discourage this spirit of gluttony. In this he stated the mode in which every thing that goes into the mouth in London is adulterated and poisoned by the venders. But all would not do; they eat as violently as ever, in spite of ratsbane and copperas, especially at the anniversary dinners.

The public papers, almost every day of the year, present to our notice advertisements similar to the following:

" The Anniversary Dinner of the Seaman's Hospital Society will be held at the London Tavern, on

Dinner on table at 5 o'clock."

66 The Anniversary Dinner of the Asylum for Female Orphans is postponed to suit the convenience of His Royal Highness the Duke of Cambridge, President of the Institution."

“ The Anniversary Dinner of the London Orphan Asylum will be held at the City of London Tavern, &c. His Royal Highness the Duke of York bas very condescendingly promised to take the chair. Tickets one guinea."

“ The Festival of the London Lying-in Hospital will be held at the City of London Tavern,

"

on

« The Anniversary Dinner of the Society for the Suppression of Mendicity will be held at the Thatched House, &c. “ Patron : His Royal Highness the Duke of

York. « President: His Grace the Duke of North

umberland."

You are to understand, that these dinners are not given to the poor people belonging to these institutions, but to the directors, and not unfrequently out of the charitable fund. But the grand object is gained. His Grace of York, who is himself a pauper supported by public bounty, gets an excellent dinner, and is complimented for eating it; the stewards and directors get their names in the newspapers, and the whole affair redounds wonderfully to the credit of their charity! Oh, but say they, our example at least is beneficial. The example of the hypocrite can never inspire others with a sincere love of virtue. On the contrary, as hypocrisy is never consistent throughout, it is much more likely to injure the cause of virtue by the frequent display of vices irreconcileable with its own pretensions. Those, who give charity with one hand, and gripe the hard earnings of the poor with the other, will more probably do harm rather than good by their example.

"in conformity with this truly charitable custom, after the business had been gone through, that is to say, after nothing had been done and a vast deal said, we (I use the language of Mr. ******) sat down to one of the most enormous dinners I ever saw; the lord mayor's feast was nothing to it. Every body was delighted with the condescension of the duke, and the bishops sustained their ancient reputation for abstinence at dinner. His grace of ********** undertook to prove, that ignorance

a very

יו

was the source of all crimes, but was interrupted by a candidate for one of the livings in his grace's gift with, “your grace must except the crime of forgery.” The joke occasioned a smile even from Sir ***** ******

who is serious man, owing to the vast many murders he hath committed secundum artem-but the luckless wit, in the opinion of the company, had lost all chance for the liv. ing.”

“ Matters went on swimmingly, and all the children, including those of the duke of Clarence,

bastards and all,” were in a fair way of being well educated, when the drinking of toasts began.

The first was “the king,” which was pronounced by the waiter, who acted as toast-master, with infinite devotion, and drank with still greater, especi. ally by his grace of ********** and the bishops. This was of course a bumper toast.

A little after the toast-master bawled out the

queen

and the rest of the royal family," at which the whole company was struck dumb, and they all stared as if the hand-writing had been seen on the wall.

66 Treasonlooked his royal highness,"radicalism” looked his grace of **********

-while poor Sir ****** *****, I think it was, jumped up and snatched the list of toasts out of the waiter's hands, who was now suspected of being at least one of the Catostreet conspirators. The toast was there at full length, but the author and the hand-writing remain unknown, even unto this day, although the constitutional society, aided by the Bridge-street association, are busily employed in ferretting out the traitor, who will certainly be hanged if caught. The poor waiter has been discharged, I understand, and two government spies set to watch his motions, so that if there be any virtue in perjury, I think he is in a fair way to the gallows.

66

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