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EVERYBODY who has lived in London, knows what an alteration for the better, in the lives of the inhabitants, (particularly if bachelors), has been made by the institution of clubs. The comforts, I may say luxuries, of good company, and elegant living, formerly confined to men of fortune, may now be enjoyed by all; and the great variety in the conditions and manners of the different members affords a perpetual supply of food for observation, to those who have any taste or talent for observing. Hence, for such persons, there is always a stream of interest going on, and ennui is unknown. I say, for such persons ; because I would by no means insinuate that ennui does not exist, or even that her very
throne is not sometimes established, in a club-room. The yawns I hear at this moment all about me, would convince me of it, had I any doubt.
To the observer of mankind, however, it is very different,
-as the tale I am about to narrate will perhaps prove; for it is to a club that I owe the knowledge of it, and the permission to give it to the world.
After having been three years a candidate on the books of the - Club (so numerous were the applications for admission), my turn for the ballot came round, and I was successful. The first day I took possession of my honours, I of course peregrinated through all the commodious apartments which now, in a measure, belonged to me:-the ample dining-room ; the magnificent drawing-room; the well-stored library; and the better-peopled coffee-room,
I was so pleased with every thing, that I think for a month I did not fail a single day in attendance. The company were heterogeneous, but upon the whole good. There were peers, members of parliament, merchants, and men of office: forming sufficient matter of curiosity for an Addison, or a Steele, a Johnson, or a Mackenzie. I was none of these ; nevertheless, I could not help being struck with the constant sight of a person of some figure, who seemed to be almost a fixture, or at least a piece of furniture, in the mansion. In the morning he was always to be found in a
particular corner of the eating-room, at breakfast; and at dinner in the same place.
During the day he had the library almost entirely to himself; for be seldom visited the coffee-room ; and all the evenings he had his little table and wax candle, at the farther end of it, and in a voluptuous chair, he either read or dozed away the hours, till he retired to bed, at his lodgings close in the neighbourhood. His figure was tall, and rather fashionable ; his countenance open, but very pensive; lines of thought, and, as it struck me, of uneasy recollections, had marked his cheek. All seemed to know him, and treated him with a sort of consideration due to his age, which was between sixty and seventy. This he received with politeness, but seemingly with no wish to enter into conversation with any but two or three old-fashioned peers, who sometimes, not always, took their parliamentary dinners at the club, in their way to the House of Lords. With one of these, Lord Langston, he seemed intimate, and talked to him with animation: but this always subsided, and left him in his usual abstracted state, as soon as they separated.
I soon found out that the gentleman who had so attracted my notice was a Mr. Sterling, son