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times, but always found it more irksome than agreeable, simply from the uncertainty of finding the inmates at home, and the repeated disappointments of finding them out. These objections would vanish if the custom of receiving in an evening were general, because if one family was not at home, another would be. and a person in search of society would be sure to find it somewhere, instead of returning unsuccessful. It is an annoyance to prepare, and make up one's mind, for society, and then not to meet with it. The temptation to remain at home is too strong to venture upon a speculation, where there are so many chance against success. But if any one had a number of acquaintances in the same quarter, who received in an evening, an inclination for society might always be gratified with sufficient certainty to induce the attempt. Some visible sign, indicating whether they re ceived at any house on any given evening, or whether the number was full, would save trouble to visiters, and would ensure complete privacy, whenever desired, or society to the extent desired, and not beyond. It would be a great improvement in the world, and a great advantage to the rich, if they would spend that portion of their means, which they dedicate to social intercourse, in procuring real enjoyment for their visitants, rather than in that state and display, for which no reasonable person cares, or which, it may be more truly said, every reasonable person dislikes and despises. If, for instance, a rich man were to give simply excellent dinners, and provide his guests with accommodation at places of public amusement, he would give them more satisfaction than by inviting them to the most sumptuous entertainments, and would most likely much increase his own enjoyment. Such a practice would tend greatly to improve public amusements, and would add to their interest by giving brilliancy to the scene. There are many ways in which those who have a command of means, have opportunities of rendering social intercourse with them peculiarly advantageous and interesting to persons of smaller fortunes ; but as it is, in general, the richer the host the duller the entertainment, principally because expense is lavished in the wrong direction, without taste, or invention, or rational end.
In order to make a dinner go off well, a good deal often depends upon the giver's mode of receiving his company. In the first place, he should always be ready; he should receive cordially, so as to let his guests feel inspired by an air of welcome; and he should set them well off together by the introduction of suitable topics. It is usually seen that the host receives his guests almost as if they were strangers to him, and, after a word or two, leaves them to manage for themselves as well as
they can, by wandering about, or turning over books, or some resource of that sort, if they happen not to be well known to some of the company; and even persons who are in the habit of meeting, often seem to be actuated by a feeling of mutual reserve, for want of being well started by the host. It frequently requires some time after the dinner has commenced, to take off the chill of the first assembling, and in respect to individuals, it sometimes never is taken off during the whole party. During dinner it is expedient for the head of the feast to keep his eye upon every thing around him, and not to occupy himself exclusively, as many do, with those immediately near, or, what is worse, to sink into fits of abstraction or anxiety. The alacrity and general attention of the host furnish the spring from which the guests usually take their tone, and where they are not well known to each other, it is good to address each frequently by name, and to mention subjects on which they have some common interest. There is also much tact required in calling into play diffident or reserved merit, and in preventing too much individual monopoly of conversation, however good. In order to have perfect success, the guests must be capable of being well mixed up together, and the host must be capable of mixing them, which unfortunately few are; but many are much more capable than they appear to be, if they would turn their attention to the subject. These latter observations are more applicable to large parties than to small ones, but they do apply to both.
I have now come to the conclusion of what occurs to me on the subject of 'Aristology, or the Art of Dining and giving dinners,' which subject the reader will perceive I have treated in the most familiar, and perhaps in too careless a way. I have written off-hand, as matter suggested itself from the stores of experience. I have always advanced what I thought to be right, without the slightest fear of being sometimes wrong; and I have given myself no thought as to exposure to ridicule, or anything else. My object is in this, as in every other subject on which I touch, to set my readers to think in the right track, and to direct them in their way as well as I can. I consider what I have said on the Art of Dining' to be a part of my
observations on the Art of Health,' which subject I shall continue under the latter title in my next number.
PRIZE FIGHTS. There was a time when pugilistic prize-fights had many advocates, and some of high authority, as tending to promote courage, manly feeling, and a love of fair play. Having long had a wish
to judge with my own eyes of the effect of these strictly national exhibitions, I availed myself of an opportunity several years since to go to one, which promised all the advantages of high patronage and first-rate bruisers. A field, somewhere near Hounslow Heath, was selected for the scene of action. There was a great concourse of spectators, from the highest ranks, one of whom acted as timekeeper, down to the very lowest, and every variety of equipage, from the barouche-and-four to the donkey-cart. I could not help admiring the judgment and order with which everything was managed. The inner ring was appropriated to the combatants, and their seconds and bottleholders; and the outer to the principal patrons of “the Fancy," and the select, who were to lie down on the grass when the fight was actually going on. Beyond them was a circle of persons on foot, then the carriages, and, on the outside of all, the trees were filled with spectators, so that the greatest possible number could see without obstruction. When everything was arranged, and the combatants were preparing, two magistrates, attended by only a couple of constables, made their appearance, and entered into a conference with the chief manager, during which there was perfect peace, though a manifestation of great anxiety. The conference ended in the magistrates and their officers retiring; and then the manager gave a signal for dispersion, which was instantly obeyed. Whatever disgrace boxing-matches may be thought to reflect on our national character, I thought this movement a proud testimonial the other way, as being a stronger instance than I could have conceived, of prompt obedience to the laws, and of respect to authority; and I do not believe the like would have been exhibited in any other country in the world. There was every motive to excite resistance. All had paid, and rather dearly, for admission into the field ; they had had the trouble of finding themselves situations, for which some had paid a further sum; there was great force on one side, and, comparatively, none on the other; there were some men who might think themselves almost above control on such occasions, and others at all times most ready to throw it off; the illegality of such assemblages was by no means universally admitted, their object had many defenders, and interference at that critical moment had somewhat the appearance of being vexatious. Yet, notwithstanding this combination of reasons, the motley multitude departed as passively as if before an overwhelming force, and, indeed, more so; for there was even no expression of disapprobation. I attribute this curious result to two causes : first, in spite of his office, to the great personal respectability and singular propriety of behaviour of the chief manager, or commanderin-chief, as he was technically called ; and secondly, to that inborn habit of obedience to authority, which is one of the most beneficial and admirable effects of our free institutions. It is the true spirit of our citizen government, which no neglect ever destroyed, and which can never be changed for any other spirit, except for a worse. This spirit, acted upon by personal influence, exhibits government in its most beautiful point of view; and it is the system which statesmen ought especially to foster, though now unfortunately there is a tendency in a different direction.
No sooner was the signal given, than there was a general break-up, which presented rather a remarkable appearance. The heavier carriages crowded towards the gate, whilst horse and foot, and many of the light vehicles, made their way through the hedges, and spread themselves over the country, to re-unite, according to the directions given, as they could, in a gravel-pit close to the Uxbridge road. There no molestation was offered.
I admired the excessive care and delicacy with which the com: batants were prepared for action. Each second knelt on his right knee, whilst the man whom he backed sat upon his left thigh, apparently helpless, with his arm supported on the second's shoulders, and lighter shoes were put on, and every necessary act performed in a manner that would have done honour to the most accomplished lady's maid. When the men were ready to set-to, I admired also their condition, their courage, and their good-humour, as well as the intense attention of the assembly. Whilst the fighting is apart, there is nothing very revolting ; but the closing, with which each round generally ends, and the falling together, sometimes over the rope which forms the ring, is an exhibition of unmixed brutality and debasement; as indeed is the whole affair, as soon as the combatants become exhausted in everything but their courage. They then appear like drunken men, butchering one another, without much consciousness of what they are doing; and my conclusion, at the end of the combat, which lasted almost an hour, was, that prize-fighting is a barbarous practice, altogether deserving the fate it seems nearly to have met with. Whenever the men fell, or were knocked down, they lay as if they were dead; and they were raised, seated, their wounds sponged, lemon applied to their lips, or a little wine given them, with the same care and nicety which I have described to have been used in preparing them for the combat. This extreme gentleness, contrasted with the other parts of the scene, was very striking. The object is, to prevent the slightest waste of strength in making any exertion which can be avoided ; and the expediency was apparent, when the exhaustion became so great that a feather would have almost turned
the scale either way. As a specimen of some of the component parts of the assembly, I have a lively recollection of the following circumstance. Whilst preparations were making for the fight, I took out a pocket-book, and placed it in a side-pocket by way of security. I saw I was observed by a suspicious-looking character, and soon after I was surrounded by at least fifty men, who hustled me in such a manner as to make my blood thrill with a sort of horrific sensation, though I had nothing valuable to lose, and I knew I was in no danger of personal injury. Expecting an attack, I made a vigorous resistance, and got through without loss; but I took good care for the remainder of the day not to expose myself again. This attraction together of depredators is one of the many evils of such exhibitions ; for it is not to be supposed they will separate without some detrimental consequences to the public, either immediate or in prospect ; besides, the nursery and sphere of prize-fighting is one of gambling, profligacy, and crime.
If any one, bent on striving for mastery in a great career, could bring himself to undergo an equally strict preparatory discipline with that which a prize-fighter undergoes, and should in action husband in like manner his energies with reference to the one point in view, what is it that human nature, especially some natures, might not accomplish for their own glory, and the good of mankind? In all cases of strict training, it seems essential that the person undergoing it should place himself under the absolute control of another, as the infirmity of our nature is not sufficiently proof against momentary impulses and temptations, and one deviation, however slight, would most probably lead to an indefinite backsliding. Buffon, the great naturalist, relates that, being fond of his bed, he commissioned his confidential servant to force him to rise every morning at a certain very early hour, which injunction was so rigorously obeyed, that his most earnest entreaties on many occasions to be allowed a respite, could never prevail. I believe, from experience, that two persons are much more likely to succeed conjointly in any plan of discipline, than one alone. There is a cheerfulness and a rivalry in such a combination, which are efficacious: and in many respects there are two chances to one of regularity of operations. For this reason, I am inclined to think, that two young men, bent on worthy pursuits, would be more sure of going steadily and cheerily on by forming their habits together; and this subject of intimacies is one deserving the utmost attention of parents in bringing up their children, whether male or female. In bodily training, regard must be had to the object in view. That which qualifies a pugilist, is totally unfit in degree, though