grave. "Why, Foote," said his friend, “you are flat to-day; you don't seem to relish wit!" "Why," said Foote, "you have not tried me yet, sir."

A mercantile man of Foote's acquaintance had written a poem, and exacted a promise that Foote would listen to it, but he dropped off before the end of the first pompous line, "Hear me, oh, Phœbus, and ye Muses nine!" "Pray, pray, be attentive, Mr. Foote!" "I am," said Foote. "Nine and one are ten. Go on!"

Foote was one day invited to dinner at Merchant Tailors' Hall; and so well pleased was he with the entertainment that he sat till the chief part of the company had left the hall. At length, rising, he said, "Gentlemen, I wish you both a very good night." "Both!" exclaimed one of the company; "why, you must be crazy, Foote; here are twenty of us ! "I have been counting you, and there are just eighteen; and as nine tailors make a man, I'm right. I wish you both a very good night."

One evening at a fashionable dinner, when Foote was telling a story, one of the party interrupted him suddenly, with an air of apology, "I beg your pardon, Mr. Foote, but your handkerchief is half out of your pocket." "Thank you, sir," said Foote, replacing it; "you know the company better than I do," and finished his story.

Foote being at a nobleman's house, his lordship, as soon as dinner was over, ordered a bottle of Cape to be set on the table, which, after magnifying its good qualities, and in particular its age, he sent round the table in glasses that scarcely held a thimbleful. "Fine wine, upon my soul!" says the wit, tasting and smacking his lips. "Is it not very curious?"

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says his lordship. "Perfectly so, indeed," says the other; “I do not remember to have seen anything so little of its age in my life before."

After dining with the Duke of Leinster, at Dublin, Foote gave the following account of his entertainment: "As to the splendour, so far as it went, I admit it, there was a very fine sideboard of plate; and if a man could have swallowed a silversmith's shop, there was enough to satisfy him. But as to all the rest, his mutton was white, his veal was red, the fish was kept too long, the venison not kept long enough. To sum up: everything was cold, except his ice; everything sour, except his vinegar."

Foote, when travelling in the far west of England, dined one day at an inn. When the cloth was removed, the landlord asked him how he liked his fare. "I have dined as well as any man in England," said Foote. "Except Mr. Mayor!" cried the landlord. "I do not except anybody whatever," said he. "But you must!" bawled the host. "I won't." "You must!" At length the strife ended by the landlord (who was a petty magistrate) taking Foote before the mayor, who observed it had been customary in that town, for a great number of years, always to except the mayor, and accordingly fined him a shilling for not conforming to this ancient custom. Upon this decision, Foote paid the shilling, at the same time observing that he thought the landlord "the greatest fool in Christendom-except Mr. Mayor."

Samuel Johnson

The Retired Merchant


I have been for many years a trader in London. My beginning was narrow, and my stock small; I was, therefore, a long time browbeaten and despised by those who, having more money, thought they had more merit than myself. I did not, however, suffer my resentment to instigate me to any mean arts of supplantation, nor my eagerness of riches to betray me to any indirect methods of gain. I pursued my business with incessant assiduity, supported by the hope of being one day richer than those who contemned me; and had, upon every annual review of my books, the satisfaction of finding my fortune increased beyond my expectation.

In a few years my industry and probity were fully recompensed; my wealth was really great, and my reputation for wealth still greater. I had large warehouses crowded with goods, and considerable sums in the public funds; I was ca- . ressed upon the Exchange by the most eminent merchants; became the oracle of the common council; was solicited to engage in all commercial undertakings; was flattered with the hopes of becoming in a short time one of the directors of a wealthy company, and, to complete my mercantile honours, enjoyed the expensive happiness of fining for Sheriff.

Riches, you know, easily produce riches. When I had arrived to this degree of wealth, I had no longer any obstruction or opposition to fear; new acquisitions were hourly

brought within my reach, and I continued for some years longer to heap thousands upon thousands.

At last I resolved to complete the circle of a citizen's prosperity by the purchase of an estate in the country, an to close my life in retirement. From the hour that this design entered my imagination, I found the fatigues of my employment every day more oppressive, and persuaded myself that I was no longer equal to perpetual attention, and that my health would soon be destroyed by the torment and distraction of extensive business. I could image to myself no happiness but in vacant jollity and uninterrupted leisure; nor entertain my friends with any other topic than the vexation and uncertainty of trade, and the happiness of rural privacy.

But notwithstanding these declarations, I could not at once reconcile myself to the thoughts of ceasing to get money; and though I was every day inquiring for a purchase, I found some reason for rejecting all that were offered me; and, indeed, had accumulated so many beauties and conveniences in my idea of the spot where I was finally to be happy, that perhaps the world might have been travelled over without discovery of a place which would not have been defective in some particular.

Thus I went on still talking of retirement, and still refusing to retire. My friends began to laugh at my delays, and I grew ashamed to trifle longer with my own inclinations. An estate was at length purchased, I transferred my stock to a prudent young man who had married my daughter, went down into the country, and commenced lord of a spacious


Here for some time I found happiness equal to my expectation. I reformed the old house according to the advice of the best architects; I threw down the walls of the garden

and enclosed it with palisades, planted long avenues of trees, filled a greenhouse with exotic plants, dug a new canal, and threw the earth into the old moat.

The fame of these expensive improvements brought in all the country to see the show. I entertained my visitors with great liberality, led them round my gardens, showed them my apartments, laid before them plans for new decorations, and was gratified by the wonder of some and the envy of others.

I was envied; but how little can one man judge of the condition of another! The time was now coming in which affluence and splendour could no longer make me pleased with myself. I had built till the imagination of the architect was exhausted; I had added one convenience to another, till I knew not what more to wish or to design; I had laid out my gardens, planted my park, and completed my waterworks and what remained now to be done? What, but to look up to turrets, of which when they were once raised I had no further use; to range over apartments where time was tarnishing the furniture; to stand by the cascade of which I scarcely now perceived the sound; and to watch the growth of woods that must give their shade to a distant generation.

In this gloomy inactivity is every day begun and ended. The happiness that I have been so long procuring is now at an end, because it has been procured. I wander from room to room till I am weary of myself. I ride out to a neighbouring hill in the centre of my estate, from whence all my lands lie in prospect round me; I see nothing that I have not seen before, and return home disappointed, though I knew that I had nothing to expect.

In my happy days of business I had been accustomed to

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