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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
From the ‘Memoirs’
By Samuel Foote (1720–1777)
 
A Cure for Bad Poetry

A PHYSICIAN of Bath told him that he had a mind to publish his own poems; but he had so many irons in the fire he did not well know what to do.  1
  “Then take my advice, doctor,” said Foote, “and put your poems where your irons are.”  2
 
The Retort Courteous

  Following a man in the street, who did not bear the best of characters, Foote slapped him familiarly on the shoulder, thinking he was an intimate friend. On discovering his mistake he cried out, “Oh, sir, I beg your pardon! I really took you for a gentleman who—”
  3
  “Well, sir,” said the other, “and am I not a gentleman?”  4
  “Nay, sir,” said Foote, “if you take it in that way, I must only beg your pardon a second time.”  5
 
On Garrick’s Stature

  Previously to Foote’s bringing out his ‘Primitive Puppet Show’ at the Haymarket Theatre, a lady of fashion asked him, “Pray, sir, are your puppets to be as large as life?”
  6
  “Oh dear, madam, no. Not much above the size of Garrick!”  7
 
Cape Wine

  Being at the dinner-table one day when the Cape was going round in remarkably small glasses, his host was very profuse on the excellence of the wine, its age, etc. “But you don’t seem to relish it, Foote, by keeping your glass so long before you.”
  8
  “Oh, yes, my lord, perfectly well. I am only admiring how little it is, considering its great age.”  9
 
The Graces

  Of an actress who was remarkably awkward with her arms, Foote said that “she kept the Graces at arm’s-length.”
  10
 
The Debtor

  Of a young gentleman who was rather backward in paying his debts, he said he was “a very promising young gentleman.”
  11
 
Affectation

  An assuming, pedantic lady, boasting of the many books which she had read, often quoted ‘Locke Upon Understanding,’ a work she said she admired above all things, yet there was one word in it which, though often repeated, she could not distinctly make out; and that was the word ide-a (pronouncing it very long): “but I suppose it comes from a Greek derivation.”
  12
  “You are perfectly right, madam,” said Foote, “it comes from the word ideaousky.”  13
  “And pray, sir, what does that mean?”  14
  “The feminine of idiot, madam.”  15
 
Arithmetical Criticism

  A mercantile man of his acquaintance, who would read a poem of his to him one day after dinner, pompously began:—
  “Hear me, O Phœbus! and ye Muses nine!
Pray be attentive.”
  16
  “I am,” said Foote. “Nine and one are ten: go on.”  17
 
The Dear Wife

  A gentleman just married, telling Foote that he had that morning laid out three thousand pounds in jewels for his “dear wife”: “Well,” said the other, “you have but done her justice, as by your own reckoning she must be a very valuable woman.”
  18
 
Garrick and the Guinea

  Foote and Garrick, supping together at the Bedford, the former in pulling out his purse to pay the reckoning dropped a guinea, which rolled in such a direction that they could not readily find it.
  19
  “Where the deuce,” says Foote, “can it be gone to?”  20
  “Gone to the Devil, I suppose,” said Garrick.  21
  “Well said, David; you are always what I took you for, ever contriving to make a guinea go farther than any other man.”  22
 
Dr. Paul Hifferman

  Paul was fond of laying, or rather offering, wagers. One day in the heat of argument he cried out, “I’ll lay my head you are wrong upon that point.”
  23
  “Well,” said Foote, “I accept the wager. Any trifle, among friends, has a value.”  24
 
Foote and Macklin

  One night, when Macklin was formally preparing to begin a lecture, hearing Foote rattling away at the lower end of the room, and thinking to silence him at once, he called out in his sarcastic manner, “Pray, young gentleman, do you know what I am going to say?”
  25
  “No, sir,” said Foote quickly: “do you?”  26
 
Baron Newman

  This celebrated gambler (well known about town thirty years ago by the title of the left-handed Baron), being detected in the rooms at Bath in the act of secreting a card, the company in the warmth of their resentment threw him out of the window of a one-pair-of-stairs room, where they were playing. The Baron, meeting Foote some time afterward, loudly complained of this usage, and asked him what he should do to repair his injured honor.
  27
  “Do?” said the wit; “why, ’tis a plain case: never play so high again as long as you live.”  28
 
Mrs. Abington

  When Mrs. Abington returned from her very first successful trip to Ireland, Foote wished to engage her for his summer theatre; but in the mean time Garrick secured her for Drury Lane. Foote, on hearing this, asked her why she gave Garrick the preference.
  29
  “I don’t know how it was,” said she: “he talked me over by telling me that he would make me immortal, so that I did not know how to refuse him.”  30
  “Oh! did he so? Then I’ll soon outbid him that way; for come to me and I will give you two pounds a week more, and charge you nothing for immortality.”  31
 
Garlic-Eaters

  Laughing at the imbecilities of a common friend one day, somebody observed, “It was very surprising; and Tom D—— knew him very well, and thought him far from being a fool.”
  32
  “Ah, poor Tom!” said Foote, “he is like one of those people who eat garlic themselves, and therefore can’t smell it in a companion.”  33
 
Mode of Burying Attorneys in London

  A gentleman in the country, who had just buried a rich relation who was an attorney, was complaining to Foote, who happened to be on a visit with him, of the very great expense of a country funeral in respect to carriages, hat-bands, scarves, etc.
  34
  “Why, do you bury your attorneys here?” asked Foote gravely.  35
  “Yes, to be sure we do; how else?”  36
  “Oh, we never do that in London.”  37
  “No?” said the other much surprised, “how do you manage?”  38
  “Why, when the patient happens to die, we lay him out in a room over night by himself, lock the door, throw open the sash, and in the morning he is entirely off.”  39
  “Indeed!” said the other in amazement; “what becomes of him?”  40
  “Why, that we cannot exactly tell, not being acquainted with supernatural causes. All that we know of the matter is, that there’s a strong smell of brimstone in the room the next morning.”  41
 
Dining Badly

  Foote, returning from dinner with a lord of the admiralty, was met by a friend, who asked him what sort of a day he had had. “Very indifferent indeed; bad company and a worse dinner.”
  42
  “I wonder at that,” said the other, “as I thought the admiral a good jolly fellow.”  43
  “Why, as to that, he may be a good sea lord, but take it from me, he is a very bad landlord.”  44
 
Dibble Davis

  Dibble Davis, one of Foote’s butts-in-ordinary, dining with him one day at North-end, observed that “well as he loved porter, he could never drink it without a head.”
  45
  “That must be a mistake, Dibble,” returned his host, “as you have done so to my knowledge alone these twenty years.”  46
 
An Extraordinary Case

  Being at the levee of Lord Townsend, when that nobleman was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he thought he saw a person in his Excellency’s suite whom he had known to have lived many years a life of expediency in London. To convince himself of the fact, he asked his Excellency who it was.
  47
  “That is Mr. T——, one of my gentlemen at large,” was the answer. “Do you know him?”  48
  “Oh, yes! perfectly well,” said Foote, “and what your Excellency tells me is doubly extraordinary: first, that he is a gentleman; and next, that he is at large.”  49
 
Mutability of the World

  Being at dinner in a mixed company soon after the bankruptcy of one friend and the death of another, the conversation naturally turned on the mutability of the world. “Can you account for this?” said S——, a master builder, who happened to sit next to Foote. “Why, not very clearly,” said the other; “except we could suppose the world was built by contract.”
  50
 
An Appropriate Motto

  During one of Foote’s trips to Dublin, he was much solicited by a silly young man of fashion to assist him in a miscellany of poems and essays which he was about to publish; but when he asked to see the manuscript, the other told him “that at present he had only conceived the different subjects, but had put none of them to paper.”
  51
  “Oh! if that be the state of the case,” replied Foote, “I will give you a motto from Milton for the work in its present state:
  ‘Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.’”
  52
 
Real Friendship

  A young gentleman, making an apology to his father for coming late to dinner, said “that he had been visiting a poor friend of his in St. George’s Fields.” “Ah! a pretty kind of friend indeed,” says the father, “to keep us waiting for dinner in this manner.”
  53
  “Aye, and for the best kind, too,” said Foote: “as you know, my dear sir, a friend in need is a friend indeed.”  54
 
Anecdote of an Author

  An author was boasting that as a reviewer he had the power of distributing literary reputations as he liked. “Take care,” said Foote, “you are not too prodigal of that, or you may leave none for yourself.”
  55
 
Dr. Blair

  When Foote first heard of Dr. Blair’s writing ‘Notes on Ossian’ (a work the reality of which has always been much doubted), he observed, “The publishers ought to allow a great discount to the purchaser, as the notes required such a stretch of credit.”
  56
 
Advice to a Dramatic Writer

  A dull dramatic writer, who had often felt the severity of the public, was complaining one day to Foote of the injustice done him by the critics; but added, “I have, however, one way of being even with them, by constantly laughing at all they say.”
  57
  “You do perfectly right, my friend,” said Foote; “for by this method you will not only disappoint your enemies, but lead the merriest life of any man in England.”  58
 
The Grafton Ministry

  A gentleman coming into the Cocoa-Tree one morning during the Duke of Grafton’s administration, was observing “that he was afraid the poor ministry were at their wits’ end.”
  59
  “Well, if it should be so,” said Foote, “what reason have they to complain of so short a journey?”  60
 
 
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