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Title: Inns and Taverns of Old London
Author: Shelley, Henry C. (Henry Charles)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Inns and Taverns of Old London" ***

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by the CWRU Preservation Department Digital Library



INNS AND TAVERNS OF OLD LONDON


SETTING FORTH THE HISTORICAL AND LITERARY ASSOCIATIONS OF THOSE
ANCIENT HOSTELRIES, TOGETHER WITH AN ACCOUNT OF THE MOST NOTABLE
COFFEE-HOUSES, CLUBS, AND PLEASURE GARDENS OF THE BRITISH METROPOLIS

BY

HENRY C. SHELLEY

Author of "Untrodden English Ways," etc.

1909



PREFACE

For all races of Teutonic origin the claim is made that they are
essentially home-loving people. Yet the Englishman of the sixteenth
and seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially of the latter,
is seen to have exercised considerable zeal in creating substitutes
for that home which, as a Teuton, he ought to have loved above all
else. This, at any rate, was emphatically the case with the
Londoner, as the following pages will testify. When he had perfected
his taverns and inns, perfected them, that is, according to the
light of the olden time, he set to work evolving a new species of
public resort in the coffee-house. That type of establishment
appears to have been responsible for the development of the club,
another substitute for the home. And then came the age of the
pleasure-garden. Both the latter survive, the one in a form of a
more rigid exclusiveness than the eighteenth century Londoner would
have deemed possible; the other in so changed a guise that
frequenters of the prototype would scarcely recognize the
relationship. But the coffee-house and the inn and tavern of old
London exist but as a picturesque memory which these pages attempt
to revive.

Naturally much delving among records of the past has gone to the
making of this book. To enumerate all the sources of information
which have been laid under contribution would be a tedious task and
need not be attempted, but it would be ungrateful to omit thankful
acknowledgment to Henry B. Wheatley's exhaustive edition of Peter
Cunningham's "Handbook of London," and to Warwick Wroth's admirable
volume on "The London Pleasure Gardens of the Eighteenth Century."
Many of the illustrations have been specially photographed from rare
engravings in the Print Boom of the British Museum.

H.C.S.



CONTENTS

PREFACE

I. INNS AND TAVERNS OF OLD LONDON.

  I. FAMOUS SOUTHWARK INNS.

  II. INNS AND TAVERNS EAST OF ST PAUL'S.

  III. TAVERNS OF FLEET STREET AND THEREABOUTS.

  IV. TAVERNS WEST OF TEMPLE BAR.

  VI. INNS AND TAVERNS FURTHER AFIELD.

II. COFFEE-HOUSES OF OLD LONDON.

  I. COFFEE-HOUSES ON 'CHANGE AND NEAR-BY.

  II. ROUND ST PAUL'S.

  III. THE STRAND AND COVENT GARDEN.

  IV. FURTHER WEST.

III. THE CLUBS OF OLD LONDON.

  LITERARY.

  "SOCIAL AND GAMING".

IV. PLEASURE GARDENS OF OLD LONDON.

  I. VAUXHALL.

  II. RANELAGH.

  III. OTHER FAVOURITE RESORTS.

INDEX


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

KING'S HEAD TAVERN, FLEET STREET
GEOFFREY CHAUCER
TABARD INN, SOUTHWARK IN 1810
BRIDGE-FOOT, SOUTHWARK, SHOWING THE BEAR INN IN 1616
COURTYARD OF BOAR'S HEAD INN, SOUTHWARK
GEORGE INN
WHITE HART INN, SOUTHWARK
OLIVER GOLDSMITH
COCK INN, LEADENHALL STREET
PAUL PINDAR TAVERN
ANCIENT VIEW OF CHEAPSIDE, SHOWING THE NAG'S HEAD INN
A FRENCH ORDINARY IN LONDON
YARD OF BELLE SAUVAGE INN
THE CHESHIRE CHEESE--ENTRANCE PROM FLEET STREET
THE CHESHIRE CHEESE--THE JOHNSON ROOM
DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON
TABLET AND BUST FROM THE DEVIL TAVERN
BEN JONSON
FEATHERS TAVERN
ADAM AND EVE TAVERN
A TRIAL BEFORE THE PIE-POWDER COURT AT THE HAND AND SHEARS TAVERN
FALCON TAVERN, BANKSIDE
GARRAWAY'S COFFEE-HOUSE
MAD DOG IN A COFFEE-HOUSE
TOM'S COFFEE-HOUSE
LLOYD'S COFFEE-HOUSE
GRECIAN COFFEE-HOUSE
JOHN DRYDEN
JOSEPH ADDISON
SIR RICHARD STEELE
LION'S HEAD AT BUTTON'S COFFEE-HOUSE
BRITISH COFFEE-HOUSE
SLAUGHTER'S COFFEE-HOUSE
OLD PALACE YARD, WESTMINSTER
DON SALTERO'S COFFEE-HOUSE
ST JAMES'S STREET, SHOWING WHITE'S ON THE LEFT
AND BROOKS'S ON THE RIGHT
THE BRILLIANTS
"PROMISED HORRORS OF THE FRENCH INVASION"
GAMBLING SALOON AT BROOKS'S CLUB
TICKETS FOR VAUXHALL
ENTRANCE TO VAUXHALL
THE CITIZEN AT VAUXHALL
SCENE AT VAUXHALL
VENETIAN MASQUERADE AT RANELAGH, 1749
THE ASSAULT ON DR. JOHN HILL AT RANELAGH
MARYLEBONE GARDENS
WHITE CONDUIT HOUSE
BAGNIGGE WELLS
FINCH'S GROTTO, SOUTHWARK



I.

INNS AND TAVERNS OF OLD LONDON.



CHAPTER I.

FAMOUS SOUTHWARK INNS.


Unique among the quaint maps of old London is one which traces the
ground-plan of Southwark as it appeared early in the sixteenth
century. It is not the kind of map which would ensure examination
honours for its author were he competing among schoolboys of the
twentieth century, but it has a quality of archaic simplicity which
makes it a more precious possession than the best examples of modern
cartography. Drawn on the principle that a minimum of lines and a
maximum of description are the best aid to the imagination, this
plan of Southwark indicates the main routes of thoroughfare with a
few bold strokes, and then tills in the blanks with queer little
drawings of churches and inns, the former depicted in delightfully
distorted perspective and the latter by two or three half-circular
strokes. That there may be no confusion between church and inn, the
possibility of which is suggested by the fact that several of
the latter are adorned with spire-like embellishments, the
sixteenth-century cartographer told which were which in so many
words. It is by close attention to the letter-press, and by
observing the frequent appearance of names which have age-long
association with houses of entertainment, that the student of this
map awakens to the conviction that ancient Southwark rejoiced in a
more than generous provision of inns.

Such was the case from the earliest period of which there is any
record. The explanation is simple. The name of the borough supplies
the clue. Southwark is really the south-work of London, that is, the
southern defence or fortification of the city. The Thames is here a
moat of spacious breadth and formidable depth, yet the Romans did
not trust to that defence alone, but threw up further obstacles for
any enemy approaching the city from the south. It was from that
direction assault was most likely to come. From the western and
southern counties of England, and, above all, from the Continent,
this was the high road into the capital.

All this had a natural result in times of peace. As London Bridge
was the only causeway over the Thames, and as the High street of
Southwark was the southern continuation of that causeway, it
followed that diplomatic visitors from the Continent and the
countless traders who had business in the capital were obliged to
use this route coming and going. The logical result of this constant
traffic is seen in the countless inns of the district. In the great
majority of cases those visitors who had business in the city itself
during the day elected to make their headquarters for the night on
the southern shore of the Thames.

Although no definite evidence is available, it is reasonable to
conclude that the most ancient inns of Southwark were established at
least as early as the most ancient hostelries of the city itself. To
which, however, the prize of seniority is to be awarded can never be
known. Yet on one matter there can be no dispute. Pride of place
among the inns of Southwark belongs unquestionably to the Tabard.
Not that it is the most ancient, or has played the most conspicuous
part in the social or political life of the borough, but because the
hand of the poet has lifted it from the realm of the actual and
given it an enduring niche in the world of imagination.

No evidence is available to establish the actual date when the
Tabard was built; Stow speaks of it as among the "most ancient" of
the locality; but the nearest approach to definite dating assigns
the inn to the early fourteenth century. One antiquary indeed fixes
the earliest distinct record of the site of the inn in 1304, soon
after which the Abbot of Hyde, whose abbey was in the neighbourhood
of Winchester, here built himself a town mansion and probably at the
same time a hostelry for travellers. Three years later the Abbot
secured a license to erect a chapel close by the inn. It seems
likely, then, that the Tabard had its origin as an adjunct of the
town house of a Hampshire ecclesiastic.

But in the early history of the hostelry no fact stands out so
clearly as that it was chosen by Chaucer as the starting-point for
his immortal Canterbury pilgrims. More than two centuries had passed
since Thomas à Becket had fallen before the altar of St. Benedict in
the minster of Canterbury, pierced with many swords as his reward
for contesting the supremacy of the Church against Henry II.

"What a parcel of fools and dastards have I nourished in my house,"
cried the monarch when the struggle had reached an acute stage,
"that not one of them will avenge me of this one upstart clerk!"

Four knights took the king at his word, posted with all speed to
Canterbury, and charged the prelate to give way to the wishes of the
sovereign.

"In vain you threaten me," À Becket rejoined. "If all the swords in
England were brandishing over my head, your terrors could not move
me. Foot to foot you will find me fighting the battle of the Lord."

And then the swords of the knights flashed in the dim light of the
minster and another name was added to the Church's roll of martyrs.
The murder sent a thrill of horror through all Christendom; À Becket
was speedily canonized, and his tomb became the objective of
countless pilgrims from every corner of the Christian world.

In Chaucer's days, some two centuries later, the pilgrimage had
become a favourite occupation of the devout. Each awakening of the
year, when the rains of April had laid the dust of March and aroused
the buds of tree and herb from their winter slumber, the longing to
go on a pilgrimage seized all classes alike.

   "And specially, from every shires ende
   Of Engelond, to Caunterbury they wende,
   The holy blisful martir for to seke,
   That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seke."

Precisionists of the type who are never satisfied unless they can
apply chronology in the realm of imagination will have it that
Chaucer's pilgrimage was a veritable event, and that it took place
in April, 1388. They go further still and identify Chaucer's host
with the actual Henry Bailley, who certainly was in possession of
the Tabard in years not remote from that date. The records show that
he twice represented the borough of Southwark in Parliament, and
another ancient document bears witness how he and his wife,
Christian by name, were called upon to contribute two shillings to
the subsidy of Richard II. These are the dry bones of history; for
the living picture of the man himself recourse must be had to
Chaucer's verse:

   "A semely man our hoste was with-alle
   For to han been a marshal in an halle;
   A large man he was with eyen stepe,
   A fairer burgeys is ther noon in Chepe;
   Bold of his speche, and wys, and well y-taught,
   And of manhood him lakkede right naught.
   Eke thereto he was right a merry man."

No twentieth century pilgrim to the Tabard inn must expect to find
its environment at all in harmony with the picture enshrined in
Chaucer's verse. The passing years have wrought a woeful and
materializing change. The opening lines of the Prologue are
permeated with a sense of the month of April, a "breath of
uncontaminate springtide" as Lowell puts it, and in those far-off
years when the poet wrote, the beauties of the awakening year were
possible of enjoyment in Southwark. Then the buildings of the High
street were spaciously placed, with room for field and hedgerow;
to-day they are huddled as closely together as the hand of man can
set them, and the verdure of grass and tree is unknown. Nor is it
otherwise with the inn itself, for its modern representative has no
points of likeness to establish a kinship with the structure
visualized in Chaucer's lines. It is true the poet describes the inn
more by suggestion than set delineation, but such hints that it was
"a gentle hostelry," that its rooms and stables were alike spacious,
that the food was of the best and the wine of the strongest go
further with the imagination than concrete statements.

[Illustration: GEOFFREY CHAUCER.]

Giving faith for the moment to that theory which credits the
Canterbury Tales with being based on actual experience, and
recalling the quaint courtyard of the inn as it appeared on that
distant April day of 1388, it is a pleasant exercise of fancy to
imagine Chaucer leaning over the rail of one of the upper galleries
to watch the assembling of his nine-and-twenty "sondry folk." They
are, as J. R. Green has said, representatives of every class of
English society from the noble to the ploughman. "We see the
'verray-perfight gentil knight' in cassock and coat of mail, with
his curly-headed squire beside him, fresh as the May morning, and
behind them the brown-faced yeoman in his coat and hood of green
with a mighty bow in his hand. A group of ecclesiastics light up for
us the mediaeval church--the brawny hunt-loving monk, whose bridle
jingles as loud and clear as the chapel bell--the wanton friar,
first among the beggars and harpers of the courtly side--the poor
parson, threadbare, learned, and devout ('Christ's lore and his
apostles twelve he taught, and first he followed it himself')--the
summoner with his fiery face--the pardoner with his wallet 'full of
pardons, come from Rome all hot'--the lively prioress with her
courtly French lisp, her soft little red mouth, and _Amor vincit
omnia_ graven on her brooch. Learning is there in the portly
person of the doctor of physics, rich with the profits of the
pestilence--the busy sergeant-of-law, 'that ever seemed busier than
he was'--the hollow-cheeked clerk of Oxford with his love of books
and short sharp sentences that disguise a latent tenderness which
breaks out at last in the story of Griseldis. Around them crowd
types of English industry; the merchant; the franklin in whose house
'it snowed of meat and drink'; the sailor fresh from frays in the
Channel; the buxom wife of Bath; the broad-shouldered miller; the
haberdasher, carpenter, weaver, dyer, tapestry-maker, each in the
livery of his craft; and last the honest ploughman who would dyke
and delve for the poor without hire."

Smilingly as Chaucer may have gazed upon this goodly company, his
delight at their arrival paled before the radiant pleasure of mine
host, for a poet on the lookout for a subject can hardly have
welcomed the advent of the pilgrims with such an interested
anticipation of profit as the innkeeper whose rooms they were to
occupy and whose food and wines they were to consume. Henry Bailley
was equal to the auspicious occasion.

   "Greet chere made our hoste us everichon,
   And to the soper sette he us anon;
   And served us with vitaille at the beste.
   Strong was the wyn, and wel to drinke us leste."

But the host of the Tabard was more than an efficient caterer; he
was something of a diplomatist also. Taking advantage of that glow
of satisfaction which is the psychological effect of physical needs
generously satisfied, he appears to have had no difficulty in
getting the pilgrims to pay their "rekeninges," and having attained
that practical object he rewarded his customers with liberal
interest for their hard cash in the form of unstinted praise of
their collective merits, In all that year he had not seen so merry a
company gathered under his roof, etc., etc. But of greater moment
for future generations was his suggestion that, as there was no
comfort in riding to Canterbury dumb as a stone, the pilgrims should
beguile their journey by telling stories. The suggestion was loudly
acclaimed and the scheme unanimously pledged in further copious
draughts of wine. And then, to "reste wente echon," until the dawn
came again and smiled down upon that brave company whose
tale-telling pilgrimage has since been followed with so much delight
by countless thousands. By the time Stow made his famous survey of
London, some two centuries later, the Tabard was rejoicing to the
full in the glories cast around it by Chaucer's pen. Stow cites the
poet's commendation as its chief title to fame, and pauses to
explain that the name of the inn was "so called of the sign, which,
as we now term it, is of a jacket, or sleeveless coat, whole before,
open on both sides, with a square collar, winged at the shoulders; a
stately garment of old time, commonly worn of noblemen and others,
both at home and abroad in the war, but then (to wit in the wars)
their arms embroidered, or otherwise depict upon them, that every
man by his coat of arms might be known from others." All this
heraldic lore did not prevent the subsequent change--for a time--of
the name Tabard to the meaningless name of Talbot, a distortion,
however, which survives only in antiquarian history.

At the dissolution of the monasteries this inn, which up till then
had retained its connection with the church through belonging to
Hyde Abbey, was granted to two brothers named Master, and in 1542
its annual rent is fixed at nine pounds. An authority on social life
in England during the middle of Queen Elizabeth's reign ventures on
the following description of the arrangements of the inn at that
period. "On the ground-floor, looking on to the street, was a room
called 'the darke parlour,' a hall, and a general reception-room
called 'the parlour.' This was probably the dining-room of the
house, as it opened on to the kitchen on the same level. Below the
dark parlour was a cellar. On the first floor, above the parlour and
the hall, were three rooms--'the middle chamber,' 'the corner
chamber,' and 'Maister Hussye's chamber,' with garrets or 'cock
lofts' over them. Over the great parlour was another room. There
were also rooms called 'the Entry Chamber' and 'the Newe chamber,'
'the Flower de Luce' and 'Mr. Russell's chamber,' of which the
position is not specified."

[Illustration: TABARD INN, SOUTHWARK, IN 1810.]

When, in 1575, the old Tabard, the inn, that is, of George
Shepherd's water-colour drawing of 1810, was demolished, making way
for the present somewhat commonplace representative of the ancient
hostelry, many protests were made on the plea that it was sheer
vandalism to destroy a building so intimately associated with the
genius of Chaucer. But the protests were based upon lack of
knowledge. Chaucer's inn had disappeared long before. It is
sometimes stated that that building survived until the great
Southwark fire of 1676, but such assertions overlook the fact that
there is in existence a record dated 1634 which speaks of the Tabard
as having been built of brick six years previously upon the old
foundation. Here, then, is proof that the Tabard of the pilgrims was
wholly reconstructed in 1628, and even that building--faithful copy
as it may have been of the poet's inn--was burnt to the ground in
1676. From the old foundations, however, a new Tabard arose, built
on the old plan, so that the structure which was torn down in 1875
may have perpetuated the semblance of Chaucer's inn to modern times.

Compared with its association with the Canterbury pilgrims, the
subsequent history of the Tabard is somewhat prosaic. Here a record
tells how it became the objective of numerous carriers from Kent and
Sussex, there crops up a law report which enshrines the memory of a
burglary, and elsewhere in reminiscences or diary may be found a
tribute to the excellence of the inn's rooms and food and the
reasonableness of the charges. It should not be forgotten, however,
that violent hands have been laid on the famous inn for the lofty
purposes of melodrama. More than sixty years ago a play entitled
"Mary White, or the Murder at the Old Tabard" thrilled the
theatregoer with its tragic situations and the terrible perils of
the heroine. But the tribulations of Mary White have left no imprint
on English literature. Chaucer's pilgrims have, and so long as the
mere name of the Tabard survives, its recollection will bring in its
train a moving picture of that merry and motley company which set
out for the shrine of À Becket so many generations ago.

Poetic license bestows upon another notable Southwark inn, the Bear
at Bridge-foot, an antiquity far eclipsing that of the Tabard. In a
poem printed in 1691, descriptive of "The Last Search after Claret
in Southwark," the heroes of the verse are depicted as eventually
finding their way to

                  "The Bear, which we soon understood
   Was the first house in Southwark built after the flood."

To describe the inn as "the first house in Southwark" might have
been accurate for those callers who approached it over London
Bridge, but in actual chronology the proud distinction of dating
from post-deluge days has really to give place to the much more
recent year of 1319. There is, preserved among the archives of the
city of London a tavern lease of that date which belongs without
doubt to the history of this hostelry, for it refers to the inn
which Thomas Drinkwater had "recently built at the head of London
Bridge." This Thomas Drinkwater was a taverner of London, and the
document in question sets forth how he had granted the lease of the
Bear to one James Beauflur, who agrees to purchase all his wines
from the inappropriately named Drinkwater, who, on his part, was to
furnish his tenant with such necessaries as silver mugs, wooden
hanaps, curtains, cloths and other articles.

A century and a half later the inn figures in the accounts of Sir
John Howard, that warlike "Jacke of Norfolk" who became the first
Duke of Norfolk in the Howard family and fatally attested his
loyalty to his king on Bosworth Field. From that time onward casual
references to the Bear are numerous. It was probably the best-known
inn of Southwark, for its enviable position at the foot of London
Bridge made it conspicuous to all entering or leaving the city. Its
attractions were enhanced by the fact that archery could be
practised in its grounds, and that within those same grounds was the
Thames-side landing stage from whence the tilt-boats started for
Greenwich and Gravesend. It was the opportunity for shooting at the
target which helped to lure Sir John Howard to the Bear, but as he
sampled the wine of the inn before testing his skill as a marksman,
he found himself the poorer by the twenty-pence with which he had
backed his own prowess. Under date 1633 there is an interesting
reference which sets forth that, although orders had been given to
have all the back-doors to taverns on the Thames closed up, owing to
the fact that wrong-doers found them convenient in evading the
officers of the law, an exception was made in the case of the Bear
owing to the fact that it was the starting-place for Greenwich.

[Illustration: BRIDGE-FOOT, SOUTHWARK. (_Showing the Bear Inn
in_ 1616.)]

Evidence in abundance might be cited to show that the inn was a
favourite meeting place with the wits and gallants of the court of
Charles I and the Restoration. "The maddest of all the land came to
bait the Bear," is one testimony; "I stuffed myself with food and
tipple till the hoops were ready to burst," is another. There is one
figure, however, of the thirties of the seventeenth century which
arrests the attention. This is Sir John Suckling, that gifted and
ill-fated poet and man of fashion of whom it was said that he "had
the peculiar happiness of making everything that he did become him."
His ready wit, his strikingly handsome face and person, his wealth
and generosity, his skill in all fashionable pastimes made him a
favourite with all. The preferences of the man, his delight in the
joys of the town as compared with the pleasures of secluded study in
the country, are clearly seen in those sprightly lines in which he
invited the learned John Hales, the "walking library," to leave Eton
and "come to town":

   "There you shall find the wit and wine
   Flowing alike, and both divine:
   Dishes, with names not known in books,
   And less among the college-cooks;
   With sauce so pregnant, that you need
   Not stay till hunger bids you feed.
   The sweat of learned Jonson's brain,
   And gentle Shakespeare's eas'er strain,
   A hackney coach conveys you to,
   In spite of all that rain can do:
   And for your eighteenpence you sit
   The lord and judge of all fresh wit."

Nor was it in verse alone that Suckling celebrated the praises of
wine. Among the scanty remains of his prose there is that lively
sally, written at the Bear, and entitled: "The Wine-drinkers to the
Water-drinkers." After mockingly commiserating with the teetotalers
over the sad plight into which their habits had brought them, the
address continues: "We have had divers meetings at the Bear at the
Bridge-foot, and now at length have resolved to despatch to you one
of our cabinet council, Colonel Young, with some slight forces of
canary, and some few of sherry, which no doubt will stand you in
good stead, if they do not mutiny and grow too headstrong for their
commander. Him Captain Puff of Barton shall follow with all
expedition, with two or three regiments of claret; Monsieur de
Granville, commonly called Lieutenant Strutt, shall lead up the rear
of Rhenish and white. These succours, thus timely sent, we are
confident will be sufficient to hold the enemy in play, and, till we
hear from you again, we shall not think of a fresh supply.... Given
under our hand at the Bear, this fourth of July."

Somewhere about the date when this drollery was penned there
happened at the Bear an incident which might have furnished the
water-drinkers with an effective retort on their satirist. The Earl
of Buccleugh, just returned from military service abroad, on his way
into London, halted at the Bear to quaff a glass of sack with a
friend. A few minutes later he put off in a boat for the further
shore of the Thames, but ere the craft had gone many yards from land
the earl exclaimed, "I am deadly sick, row back; Lord have mercy
upon me!" Those were his last words, for he died that night.

Another picturesque figure of the seventeenth century is among the
shades that haunt the memory of the Bear, Samuel Pepys, that
irrepressible gadabout who was more intimately acquainted with the
inns and taverns of London than any man of his time. That
Thames-side hostelry was evidently a favourite resort of the
diarist. On both occasions of his visits to Southwark Pair he made
the inn his base of operations as it were, especially in 1668 when
the puppet-show of Whittington seemed "pretty to see," though he
could not resist the reflection "how that idle thing do work upon
people that see it, and even myself too!"

Pepys had other excitements that day. He was so mightily taken with
Jacob Hall's dancing on the ropes that on meeting that worthy at a
tavern he presented him with a bottle of wine. Having done justice
to all the sights of the fair, he returned to the Bear, where his
Waterman awaited him with the gold and other things to the value of
forty pounds which the prudent diarist had left in his charge at the
inn "for fear of my pockets being cut."

Pepys himself incidentally explains why he had so friendly a regard
for the Bridge-foot tavern. "Going through bridge by water," he
writes, "my Waterman told me how the mistress of the Beare tavern,
at the bridge-foot, did lately fling herself into the Thames, and
drowned herself; which did trouble me the more, when they tell me it
was she that did live at the White Horse tavern in Lumbard Street,
which was a most beautiful woman, as most I have seen."

Yet another fair woman, Frances Stuart, one of the greatest beauties
of the court of Charles II, is linked with the history of the Beare.
Sad as was the havoc she wrought in the heart of the susceptible
Pepys, who is ever torn between admiration of her loveliness and
mock-reprobation of her equivocal position at court, Frances Stuart
created still deeper passions in men more highly placed than he.
Apart from her royal lover, there were two nobles, the Dukes of York
and Richmond who contended for her hand, with the result of victory
finally resting with the latter. But the match had to be a runaway
one. The king was in no mood to part with his favourite, and so the
lovers arranged a meeting at the Bear, where a coach was in waiting
to spirit them away into Kent. No wonder Charles was offended,
especially when the lady sent him back his presents.

Nearly a century and a half has passed since the Bear finally closed
its doors. All through the lively years of the Restoration it
maintained its reputation as a house of good cheer and a wholly
desirable rendezvous, and it figures not inconspicuously in the
social life of London down to 1761. By that time the ever-increasing
traffic over the Thames bridge had made the enlargement of that
structure a necessity, and the Bear was among the buildings which
had to be demolished.

Further south in the High street, and opposite the house in which
John Harvard, the founder of America's oldest university, was born,
stood the Boar's Head, an inn which was once the property of Sir
Fastolfe, and was by him bequeathed through a friend to Magdalen
College, Oxford. This must not be confused with the Boar's Head of
Shakespeare, which stood in Eastcheap on the other side of the
river, though it is a remarkable coincidence that it was in the
latter inn the dramatist laid the scene of Prince Hal's merrymaking
with the Sir John Falstaff we all know. The earliest reference to
the Southwark Boar's Head occurs in the Paston Letters under date
1459. This is an epistle from a servant of Fastolfe to John Paston,
asking him to remind his master that he had promised him he should
be made host of the Boar's Head, but whether he ever attained to
that desired position there is no evidence to show. The inn makes
but little figure in history; by 1720 it had dwindled to a-mere
courtyard, and in 1830 the last remnants were cleared away.

[Illustration: COURTYARD OF BOAR'S HEAD INN, SOUTHWARK.]

Inevitably, however, the fact that the Boar's Head was the property
of Sir John Fastolfe prompts the question, what relation had he to
the Sir John Falstaff of Shakespeare's plays? This has been a topic
of large discussion for many years. There are so many touches of
character and definite incidents which apply in common to the two
knights that the poet has been assumed to have had the historic
Fastolfe ever in view when drawing the portrait of his Falstaff. The
historian Fuller assumed this to have been the case, for he
complains that the "stage have been overbold" in dealing with
Fastolfe's memory. Sidney Lee, however, sums up the case thus:
"Shakespeare was possibly under the misapprehension, based on the
episode of cowardice reported in 'Henry VI,' that the military
exploits of the historical Sir John Fastolfe sufficiently resembled
those of his own riotous knight to justify the employment of a
corrupted version of his name. It is of course untrue that Fastolfe
was ever the intimate associate of Henry V when Prince of Wales, who
was not his junior by more than ten years, or that he was an
impecunious spendthrift and gray-haired debauchee. The historical
Fastolfe was in private life an expert man of business, who was
indulgent neither to himself nor his friends. He was nothing of a
jester, and was, in spite of all imputations to the contrary, a
capable and brave soldier."

Sad as has been the havoc wrought by time and the hand of man among
the hostelries of Southwark, a considerable portion of one still
survives in its actual seventeenth century guise. This is the George
Inn, which is slightly nearer London Bridge than the Tabard. To
catch a peep of its old-world aspect, with its quaint gallery and
other indubitable tokens of a distant past, gives the pilgrim a
pleasant shock. It is such a contrast to the ugly modern structures
which impose themselves on the public as "Ye Olde" this and "Ye
Olde" that. Here at any rate is a veritable survival. Nor does it
matter that the George has made little figure in history; there is a
whole world of satisfaction in the thought that it has changed but
little since it was built in 1672. Its name is older than its
structure. Stow included the George among the "many fair inns" he
saw in Southwark in 1598, a fact which deals a cruel blow to that
crude theory which declares inns were so named after the royal
Georges of Great Britain.

[Illustration: GEORGE INN.]

Among the numerous other inns which once lined the High Street of
Southwark there is but one which has claims upon the attention on
the score of historic and literary interest. This is the White Hart,
which was doubtless an old establishment at the date, 1406, of its
first mention in historical records. Forty-four years later, that is
in 1450, the inn gained its most notable association by being made
the head-quarters of Jack Cade at the time of his famous
insurrection. Modern research has shown that this rebellion was a
much more serious matter than the older historians were aware of,
but the most careful investigation into Cade's career has failed to
elicit any particulars of note prior to a year before the rising
took place. The year and place of his birth are unknown, but twelve
months before he appears in history he was obliged to flee the realm
and take refuge in France owing to his having murdered a woman who
was with child. He served for a time in the French army, then
returned under an assumed name and settled in Kent, which was the
centre of discontent against Henry VI. As the one hope of reform lay
in an appeal to arms, the discontent broke into open revolt. "The
rising spread from Kent over Surrey and Sussex. Everywhere it was
general and organized--a military levy of the yeomen of the three
shires." It was not of the people alone, for more than a hundred
esquires and gentlemen threw in their lot with the rebels; but how
it came about that Jack Cade attained the leadership is a profound
mystery. Leader, however, he was, and when he, with his twenty
thousand men, took possession of Southwark as the most desirable
base from which to threaten the city of London, he elected the White
Hart for his own quarters. This was on the first of July, 1450, and
for the next few of those midsummer days the inn was the scene of
many stirring and tragic events. Daily, Cade at the head of his
troops crossed the bridge into the city, and on one of those
excursions he caused the seizure and beheadal of the hated Lord Say.
Daily, too, there was constant coming and going at the White Hart of
Cade's emissaries. At length, however, the citizens of London, stung
into action by the robberies and other outrages of the rebels,
occupied the bridge in force. A stubborn struggle ensued, but Cade
and his men were finally beaten off. The amnesty which followed led
to a conference at which terms were arranged and a general pardon
granted. That for Cade, however, as it was made out in his assumed
name of Mortimer, was invalid, and on the discovery being made he
seized a large quantity of booty and fled. Not many days later he
was run to earth, wounded in being captured, and died as he was
being brought back to London. His naked body was identified by the
hostess of the White Hart, who was probably relieved to gaze upon so
certain an indication that she would be able to devote herself once
more to the entertainment of less troublesome guests.

For all the speedy ending of his ambitions, Cade is assured of
immortality so long as the pages of Shakespeare endure. The rebel is
a stirring figure in the Second Part of King Henry VI and as an
orator of the mob reaches his greatest flights of eloquence in that
speech which perpetuates the name of his headquarters at Southwark.
"Hath my sword therefore broke through London gates, that you should
leave me at the White Hart in Southwark?"

But English literature was not done with the old inn. Many changes
were to pass over its head during the nearly four centuries which
elapsed ere it was touched once more by the pen of genius, changes
wrought by the havoc of fire and the attritions of the hand of time.
When those years had fled a figure was to be seen in its courtyard
to become better known to and better beloved by countless thousands
than the rebel leader of the fifteenth century. "In the Borough,"
wrote the creator of that figure, "there still remain some half
dozen old inns, which have preserved their external features
unchanged, and which have escaped alike the rage for public
improvement and the encroachments of private speculation. Great,
rambling, queer old places they are, with galleries, and passages,
and staircases, wide enough and antiquated enough to furnish
materials for a hundred ghost stories.... It was in the yard of one
of these inns--of no less celebrated a one than the White Hart--that
a man was busily employed in brushing the dirt off a pair of boots,
early on the morning succeeding the events narrated in the last
chapter. He was habited in a coarse-striped waistcoat, with black
calico sleeves, and blue glass buttons; drab breeches and leggings.
A bright red handkerchief was wound in a very loose and unstudied
style round his neck, and an old white hat was carelessly thrown on
one side of his head. There were two rows of boots before him, one
cleaned and the other dirty, and at every addition he made to the
clean row, he paused from his work, and contemplated its results
with evident satisfaction."

[Illustration: WHITE HART INN, SOUTHWARK.]


Who does not recognize Sam Weller, making his first appearance in
"The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club"? And who has not
revelled in the lively scene in the White Hart when Mr. Pickwick and
his friends arrived in the nick of time to prevent the ancient but
still sentimental Rachael from becoming Mrs. Jingle? It is not
difficult to understand why that particular instalment of "Pickwick"
was the turning-point of the book's fortunes. Prior to the advent of
Sam in the courtyard of the White Hart the public had shown but a
moderate interest in the new venture of "Boz," but from that event
onward the sales of the succeeding parts were ever on the increase.
Sam and the White Hart, then, had much to do with the career of
Dickens, for if "Pickwick" had failed it is more than probable that
he would have abandoned literature as a profession.

When Dickens wrote, the White Hart was still in existence. It is so
no longer. Till late in the last century this hostelry was spared
the fate which had overtaken so many Southwark taverns, even though,
in place of the nobles it had sheltered, its customers had become
hop-merchants, farmers, and others of lower degree. In 1889, in the
month of July, four hundred and thirty-nine years after it had
received Jack Cade under its roof, the last timbers of the old inn
were levelled to the ground.



CHAPTER II.

INNS AND TAVERNS EAST OF ST. PAUL'S.


Boswell relates how, in one of his numerous communicative moods, he
informed Dr. Johnson of the existence of a club at "the Boar's Head
in Eastcheap, the very tavern where Falstaff and his joyous
companions met; the members of which all assume Shakespeare's
characters. One is Falstaff, another Prince Henry, another Bardolph,
and so on." If the assiduous little Scotsman entertained the idea of
joining the club, a matter on which he does not throw any light,
Johnson's rejoinder was sufficient to deter him from doing so.
"Don't be of it, Sir. Now that you have a name you must be careful
to avoid many things not bad in themselves, but which will lessen
your character."

Whether Johnson's remark was prompted by an intimate knowledge of
the type of person frequenting the Boar's Head in his day cannot be
decided, but there are ample grounds for thinking that the patrons
of that inn were generally of a somewhat boisterous kind. That,
perhaps, is partly Shakespeare's fault. Prior to his making it the
scene of the mad revelry of Prince Hal and his none too choice
companions, the history of the Boar's Head, so far as we know it,
was sedately respectable. One of the earliest references to its
existence is in a lease dated 1537, some sixty years before the
first part of Henry IV was entered in the Stationers' Register. Some
half century later, that is in 1588, the inn was kept by one Thomas
Wright, whose son came into a "good inheritance," was made clerk of
the King's Stable, and a knight, and was "a very discreet and honest
gentleman."

But Shakespeare's pen dispelled any atmosphere of respectability
which lingered around the Boar's Head. From the time when he made it
the meeting-place of the mad-cap Prince of Wales and his roistering
followers, down to the day of Goldsmith's reverie under its roof,
the inn has dwelt in the imagination at least as the rendezvous of
hard drinkers and practical jokers. How could it be otherwise after
the limning of such a scene as that described in Henry IV? That was
sufficient to dedicate the inn to conviviality for ever.

How sharply the picture shapes itself as the hurrying dialogue is
read! The key-note of merriment is struck by the Prince himself as
he implores the aid of Poins to help him laugh at the excellent
trick he has just played on the boastful but craven Falstaff, and
the bustle and hilarity of the scene never flags for a moment. Even
Francis, the drawer, whose vocabulary is limited to "Anon, anon,
sir"--the fellow that had "fewer words than a parrot, and yet the
son of a woman"--and the host himself, as perplexed as his servant
when two customers call at once, contribute to the movement of the
episode in its earlier stages. But the pace is, increased furiously
when the burly Falstaff, scant of breath indeed, bustles hurriedly
in proclaiming in one breath his scorn of cowards and his urgent
need of a cup of sack. We all know the boastful story he told, how
he and his three companions had been set upon and robbed by a
hundred men, how he himself--as witness his sword "packed like a
hand-saw"--had kept at bay and put to flight now two, anon four, and
then seven, and finally eleven of his assailants. We all can see,
too, the roguish twinkle in Prince Hal's eyes as the braggart knight
embellishes his lying tale with every fresh sentence, and are as
nonplussed as he when, the plot discovered, Falstaff finds a way to
take credit for his cowardice. Who would not forgive so cajoling a
vaunter?

It was later in this scene, be it remembered, that the portly knight
was found fast asleep behind the arras, "snorting like a horse," and
had his pockets searched to the discovery of that tavern bill--not
paid we may be sure--which set forth an expenditure on the staff of
life immensely disproportionate to that on drink, and elicited the
famous ejaculation--"But one half-pennyworth of bread to this
intolerable deal of sack!"

But Shakespeare had not finished with the Boar's Head. More coarse
and less merry, but not less vivid, is that other scene wherein the
shrill-tongued Doll Tearsheet and the peace-making Dame Quickly
figure. And it is of a special and private room in the Boar's Head
we think as we listen to Dame Quickly's tale of how the amorous
Falstaff made love to her with his hand upon "a parcel-gilt goblet,"
and followed up the declaration with a kiss and a request for thirty
shillings.

For Shakespeare's sake, then, the Boar's Head is elect into that
small circle of inns which are immortal in the annals of literature.
But, like Chaucer's Tabard, no stone of it is left. Boswell made a
mistake, and so did Goldsmith after him, in thinking that the Boar's
Head of the eighteenth century was the Boar's Head of Shakespeare's
day. They both forgot the great Fire of London. That disastrous
conflagration of 1666 swept away every vestige of the old inn. Upon
its foundation, however, another Boar's Head arose, the sign of
which, cut in stone and dated 1668, is among the treasures of the
Guildhall Museum. This was the building in which Boswell's club met,
and it was under its roof Goldsmith penned his famous reverie.

As was to be expected of that social soul, the character of Falstaff
gave Goldsmith more consolation than the most studied efforts of
wisdom: "I here behold," he continues, "an agreeable old fellow
forgetting age, and showing me the way to be young at sixty-five.
Sure I am well able to be as merry, though not so comical, as he. Is
it not in my power to have, though not so much wit, at least as much
vivacity?--Age, care, wisdom, reflection, begone--I give you to the
winds! Let's have t'other bottle: Here's to the memory of
Shakespeare, Falstaff, and all the merry men of Eastcheap!"

[Illustration: OLIVER GOLDSMITH.]

With such zest did Goldsmith enter into his night out at the Boar's
Head that when the midnight hour arrived he discovered all his
companions had stolen away, leaving him--still in high spirits with
the landlord as his sole companion. Then the mood of reverie began
to work. The very room helped to transport him back through the
centuries; the oak floor, the gothic windows, the ponderous
chimney-piece,--all were reminders of the past. But the prosaic
landlord was an obstacle to the complete working of the spell. At
last, however, a change came over mine host, or so it seemed to the
dreaming chronicler. "He insensibly began to alter his appearance;
his cravat seemed quilled into a ruff, and his breeches swelled out
into a farlingale. I now fancied him changing sexes; and as my eyes
began to close in slumber, I imagined my fat landlord actually
converted into as fat a landlady. However, sleep made but few
changes in my situation: the tavern, the apartment, and the table,
continued as before: nothing suffered mutation but my host, who was
fairly altered into a gentlewoman, whom I knew to be Dame Quickly,
mistress of this tavern in the days of Sir John; and the liquor we
were drinking seemed converted into sack and sugar."

Such an opportunity of interviewing an acquaintance of Falstaff was
not to be lost, and to the credit of Dame Quickly be it said that
she was far more communicative than some moderns are under the
questioning ordeal. But it was no wonder she was loquacious: had she
not been ordered by Pluto to keep a record of every transaction at
the Boar's Head, and in the discharge of that duty compiled three
hundred tomes? Some may subscribe to the opinion that Dame Quickly
was indiscreet as well as loquacious; certainly she did not spare
the reputations of some who had dwelt under that ancient roof. The
sum of the matter, however, was that since the execution of that
hostess who was accused of witchcraft the Boar's Head "underwent
several revolutions, according to the spirit of the times, or the
disposition of the reigning monarch. It was this day a brothel, and
the next a conventicle for enthusiasts. It was one year noted for
harbouring Whigs, and the next infamous for a retreat to Tories.
Some years ago it was in high vogue, but at present it seems
declining."

One other son of genius was to add to the fame of the Boar's Head,
the American Goldsmith, that is, the gentle Washington Irving. Of
course Shakespeare was the moving spirit once more. While turning
over the pages of Henry IV Irving was seized with a sudden
inspiration: "I will make a pilgrimage to Eastcheap, and see if the
old Boar's Head tavern still exists." But it was too late. The only
relic of the ancient abode of Dame Quickly was the stone boar's
head, built into walls reared where the inn once stood. Nothing
daunted, however, Irving explored the neighbourhood, and was
rewarded, as he thought, by running to earth Dame Quickly's
"parcel-gilt goblet" in a tavern near by. He had one other "find."
In the old graveyard of St. Michael's, which no longer exists, he
discovered, so he avers, the tombstone of one Robert Preston who,
like the Francis of "Anon, anon, sir," was a drawer at the Boar's
Head, and quotes from that tombstone the following admonitory
epitaph:

   "Bacchus, to give the toping world surprise,
   Produced one sober son, and here he lies.
   Though rear'd among full hogsheads, he defied
   The charms of wine, and every one beside.
   O reader, if to justice thou'rt inclined,
   Keep honest Preston daily in thy mind.
   He drew good wine, took care to fill his pots,
   Had sundry virtues that excused his faults.
   You that on Bacchus have the like dependence,
   Pray copy Bob, in measure and attendance."

Small as was the reward of living's quest, a still more barren
result would ensue on a modern pilgrimage to the Boar's Head. It was
still a tavern in 1785, for a chronicler of that date described it
as having on each side of the doorway "a vine branch, carved in
wood, rising more than three feet from the ground, loaded with
leaves and clusters; and on the top of each a little Falstaff, eight
inches high, in the dress of his day." But Dame Quickly's forecast
of declining fortune moved on to its fulfilment. In the last stages
of its existence the building was divided into two, while the carved
boar's head which Irving saw still remained as the one sign of its
departed glories. Finally came the resolve to widen the approach to
London Bridge from the city side, and the carrying out of that
resolve involved the sweeping away of the Boar's Head. This was in
1831, and, as has been said, the only relic of the ancient tavern is
that carved sign in the Guildhall Museum. But the curious in such
matters may be interested to know that the statue of King William
marks approximately the spot of ground where hover the immortal
memories of Shakespeare, and Goldsmith, and Irving.

Within easy distance of Eastcheap, in Upper Thames Street, which
skirts the river bank, there stood, in Shakespeare's day and much
later, a tavern bearing the curious name of the Three Cranes in the
Vintry. John Stow, that zealous topographer to whom the historians
of London owe so large a debt, helps to explain the mystery. The
vintry, he tells us, was that part of the Thames bank where "the
merchants of Bordeaux craned their wines out of lighters and other
vessels, and there landed and made sale of them." He also adds that
the Three Cranes' lane was "so called not only of a sign of three
cranes at a tavern door, but rather 'of three strong cranes of
timber placed on the Vintry wharf by the Thames side, to crane up
wines there." Earlier than the seventeenth century, however, it
would seem that one crane had to suffice for the needs of "the
merchants of Bordeaux," and then the tavern was known simply as the
Crane. Two references, dated respectively 1552 and 1554, speak of
the sign in the singular. Twenty years later, however, the one had
become three.

Ben Jonson, whose knowledge of London inns and taverns was second,
only to that of Pepys, evidently numbered the Three Cranes in the
Vintry among his houses of call. Of two of his allusions to the
house one is derogatory of the wit of its patrons, the other
laudatory of the readiness of its service. "A pox o' these
pretenders to wit!" runs the first passage. "Your Three Cranes,
Mitre, and Mermaid men! Not a corn of true salt, not a grain of
right mustard amongst them all." And here is the other side of the
shield, credited to Iniquity in "The Devil is an Ass":--

   "Nay, boy, I will bring thee to the bawds and roysters
   At Billingsgate, feasting with claret-wine and oysters;
   From thence shoot the Bridge, child, to the Cranes in the Vintry,
   And see there the gimblets how they make their entry."

Of course Pepys was acquainted with the house. He had, indeed, a
savage memory of one meal under its roof. It was all owing to the
marrying proclivities of his uncle Fenner. Bereft of his wife on the
last day of August, that easy-going worthy, less than two months
later, was discovered by his nephew in an ale-house, "very jolly and
youthsome, and as one that I believe will in a little time get him a
wife." Pepys' anticipation was speedily realized. Uncle Fenner had
indulged himself with a new partner by the middle of January, and
must needs give a feast to celebrate the event. And this is Pepys'
frank record of the occasion: "By invitation to my uncle Fenner's,
where I found his new wife, a pitiful, old, ugly, ill-bred woman, in
a hatt, a midwife. Here were many of his, and as many of her
relatives, sorry, mean people; and after choosing our gloves, we all
went over to the Three Cranes taverne, and (although the best room
of the house) in such a narrow dogg-hole we were crammed, (and I
believe we were near forty) that it made me loath my company and
victuals; and a sorry, poor dinner it was."

In justice to the Three Cranes, Pepys must not be allowed to have
the last word. That particular dinner, no doubt, owed a good deal of
its defects to the atmosphere and the company amid which it was
served. At any rate, the host of the Black Bear at Cumnor--he of Sir
Walter Scott's "Kenilworth"--was never weary of praising the Three
Cranes, "the most topping tavern in London" as he emphatically
declared.

No one can glance even casually over a list of tavern signs without
observing how frequently the numeral "three" is used. Various
explanations have been offered for the propensity of mankind to use
that number, one deriving the habit from the fact that primitive man
divided the universe into three regions, heaven, earth, and water.
Pythagoras, it will be remembered, called three the perfect number;
Jove is depicted with three-forked lightning; Neptune bears a
trident; Pluto has his three-headed dog. Again, there are three
Fates, three Furies, three Graces and three Muses. It is natural,
then, to find the numeral so often employed in the signs of inns and
taverns. Thus we have the Three Angels, the Three Crowns, the Three
Compasses, the Three Cups, the Three Horseshoes, the Three Tuns, the
Three Nuns, and many more. In the city of London proper the Three
Cups was a favourite sign and the Three Tuns was hardly less
popular. There were also several Three Nuns, the most famous of
which was situated in Aldgate High Street, where its modern
representative still stands. In the bygone years it was a noted
coaching inn and enjoyed an enviable reputation for the rare quality
of its punch. Defoe has a brief reference to the house in his "A
Journal of the Plague Year."

An attempt to enumerate the King's Head taverns of London would be
an endless task. It must not be overlooked, however, that one of the
most notable houses so named stood in Fenchurch Street, on the site
now occupied by the London Tavern. This is the tavern for which a
notable historic association is claimed. The tradition has it that
when the Princess Elizabeth, the "Good Queen Bess" of after days,
was released from the Tower of London on May 19th, 1554, she went
first to a neighbouring church to offer thanks for her deliverance,
and then proceeded to the King's Head to enjoy a somewhat plebeian
dinner of boiled pork and Pease-pudding. This legend seems to ignore
the fact that the freedom of the Princess was comparative only; that
she was at that time merely removed from one prison to another; and
that the record of her movements on that day speaks of her taking
barge at the Tower wharf and going direct to Richmond en route for
Woodstock. However, the metal dish and cover which were used in
serving that homely meal of boiled pork and Pease-pudding are still
shown, and what can the stickler for historical accuracy do in the
face of such stubborn evidence?

Two other Fenchurch Street taverns have wholly disappeared. One of
these, the Elephant, was wont to claim a somewhat dubious
association with Hogarth. The artist is credited with once lodging
under the Elephant's roof and with embellishing the walls of the
tap-room with pictures in payment for a long overdue bill. The
subjects were said to have included the first study for the picture
which afterwards became famous under the title of "Modern Midnight
Conversation," but treated in a much broader manner than is shown in
the well-known print. When the building was pulled down in 1826 a
heated controversy arose concerning these Hogarth pictures, which
were removed from the walls and exhibited in a Pall Mall gallery.
The verdict of experts was given against their being the work of the
master for whom they were claimed. The other tavern was one of the
many mitres to be found in London during the seventeenth century.
The host, Dan Rawlinson, was so staunch a royalist that when Charles
I was executed he hung his sign in mourning, an action which
naturally caused him to be regarded with suspicion by the Cromwell
party, but "endeared him so much to the churchmen that he throve
again and got a good estate." Something of that prosperity was due
no doubt to the excellent "venison-pasty" of which Pepys was so
fond. But Dan Rawlinson of the Mitre had his reverses as well as his
successes. During the dreaded Plague of London Pepys met an
acquaintance in Fenchurch Street who called his attention to the
fact that Mr. Rawlinson's door was shut up. "Why," continued his
informant, "after all this sickness, and himself spending all the
last year in the country, one of his men is now dead of the plague,
and his wife and one of his maids sick, and himself shut up." Mrs.
Rawlinson died a day or two later and the maid quickly followed her
mistress to the grave. A year later the Mitre was destroyed in the
Great Fire of London and Pepys met its much-tried owner shortly
after "looking over his ruins." But the tavern was rebuilt on a more
spacious scale, and Isaac Fuller was commissioned to adorn its walls
with paintings. This was the artist whose fondness of tavern life
prevented him from becoming a great painter. The commission at the
Mitre was no doubt much to his liking, and Walpole describes in
detail the panels with which he adorned a great room in that house.
"The figures were as large as life: a Venus, Satyr, and sleeping
Cupid; a boy riding a goat and another fallen down, over the
chimney: this was the best part of the performance, says Vertue:
Saturn devouring a Child, Mercury, Minerva, Diana, Apollo; and
Bacchus, Venus, and Ceres embracing; a young Silenus fallen down,
and holding a goblet, into which a boy was pouring wine; the
Scarons, between the windows, and on the ceiling two angels
supporting a mitre, in a large circle." The execution of all this
must have kept Fuller for quite a long time amid his favourite
environment.

[Illustration: COCK INN, LEADENHALL STREET.]

One of the lesser known Cock taverns of London was still in
existence in Leadenhall Street during the first quarter of the last
century. A drawing of the time shows it to have been a picturesque
building, the most notable feature being that the window lights on
the first floor extended the entire width of the front, the only
specimen of the kind then remaining in London. At the time the
drawing was made that particular room was used as the kitchen. From
the dress of the boys of the carved brackets supporting the
over-hanging upper story, it has been inferred that the house was
originally a charity school. Behind the tavern there stood a brick
building dated 1627, formerly used by the bricklayers' company, but
in 1795 devoted to the purposes of a Jewish synagogue. As with all
the old taverns of this sign, the effigy of the bird from which it
took its name was prominently displayed in front. Far more ancient
than the Cock is that other Leadenhall Street tavern, the Ship and
Turtle, which is still represented in the thoroughfare. The claim is
made for this house that it dates back to 1377, and for many
generations, down, indeed, to 1835, it had a succession of widows as
hostesses. The modern representative of this ancient house prides
itself upon the quality of its turtle soup and upon the fact that it
is the meeting-place of numerous masonic lodges, besides being in
high favour for corporation and companies' livery dinners.

If the pilgrim now turns his steps toward Bishopsgate Street
Within--the "Within" signifying, of course, that that part of the
thoroughfare was inside the old city wall--he will find himself in a
neighbourhood where many famous inns once stood. Apart from the
Wrestlers and the Angel which are mentioned by Stow, there were the
Flower Pot, the White Hart, the Four Swans, the Three Nuns, the
Green Dragon, the Ball, and several more. The reason for this
crowding together of so many hostelries in one street is obvious. It
was through Bishop's gate that the farmers of the eastern counties
came into the city and they naturally made their headquarters in the
district nearest to the end of their journey.

For many years the White Hart maintained its old-time reputation as
a "fair inn for the receipt of travellers." That it was an ancient
structure is proved by the fact that when it was demolished, the
date of 1480 was discovered on one of its half-timbered bays. The
present up-to-date White Hart stands on the site of the old inn.

Far greater interest attaches to the Bull inn, even were it only for
the fact of its association with Thomas Hobson, the Cambridge
carrier whom Milton made famous. In the closing years of the
sixteenth century the house appears to have had a dubious
reputation, for when Anthony Bacon came to live in Bishopsgate
Street in 1594 his mother became exceedingly anxious on his account,
fearing "the neighbourhood of the Bull Inn." Perhaps, however, the
distressed mother based her alarm on the dangers of play-acting, for
the house was notable as the scene of many dramatic performances.
That it was the recognized headquarters for Cambridge carriers is
shown by an allusion, in 1637, which reads: "The Blacke Bull in
Bishopsgate Street, who is still looking towards Shoreditch to see
if he can spy the carriers coming from Cambridge." Hobson, of
course, was the head of that fraternity. He had flourished amazingly
since he succeeded to his father's business in the university city,
and attained that position of independence which enabled him to
force the rule that each horse in his stable was to be hired only in
its proper turn, thus originating the proverb, "Hobson's choice,"
that is, "this or none." Despite his ever growing wealth and
advanced years, Hobson continued his regular journeys to London
until the outbreak of the plague caused the authorities to suspend
the carrier service for a time. This is the fact upon which Milton
seized with such humourous effect in his poetical epitaph:

   "Here lies old Hobson. Death hath broke his girt,
   And here, alas! hath laid him in the dirt;
   Or else, the ways being foul, twenty to one
   He's here stuck in a slough, and overthrown.
   'Twas such a shifter that, if truth were known,
   Death was half glad when he had got him down;
   For he had any time this ten years full
   Dodged with him betwixt Cambridge and The Bull.
   And surely Death could never have prevailed,
   Had not his weekly course of carriage failed;
   But lately, finding him so long at home,
   And thinking now his journey's end was come,
   And that he had ta'en up his latest inn,
   In the kind office of a chamberlain,
   Showed him his room where he must lodge that night,
   Pulled off his boots, and took away the light."

[Illustration: PAUL PINDAR TAVERN.]

Among the "Familiar Letters" of James Howell is a stately epistle
addressed "To Sir Paul Pindar, Knight," who is informed to his face
that of all the men of his times he is "one of the greatest examples
of piety and constant integrity," and is assured that his
correspondent could see his namesake among the apostles saluting and
solacing him, and ensuring that his works of charity would be as a
"triumphant chariot" to carry him one day to heaven. But Sir Paul
Pindar was more than benevolent; he was a master in business affairs
and no mean diplomatist. His commercial aptitude he put to
profitable use during a fifteen years' residence in Italy; his skill
as a negotiator was tested and proved by nine years' service in
Constantinople as the ambassador of James I to Turkey. At the date
of his final return to England, 1623, the merchant and diplomat was
an exceedingly wealthy man, well able to meet the expense of that
fine mansion in Bishopsgate Street Without which perpetuated his
name down to our own day. In its original state Sir Paul Pindar's
house, both within and without, was equal in splendour and extent to
any mansion in London. And, as may be imagined, its owner was a
person of importance in city and court life. One of his possessions
was a great diamond worth thirty-five thousand pounds, which James I
used to borrow for state occasions. The son of that monarch
purchased this jewel in 1625 for about half its value and
successfully deferred payment for even that reduced sum! Sir Paul,
indeed, appears to have been a complacent lender of his wealth to
royalty and the nobility, so that it is not surprising many
"desperate debts" were owing him on his death. A century and a
quarter after that event, that is in 1787, the splendid mansion of
the wealthy merchant and diplomat had become a tavern under the
names of its builder, and continued in that capacity until 1890,
when railway extension made its demolition necessary. But the
beautifully carved front is still preserved in the South Kensington
Museum.

While there may at times be good reason for doubting the claims made
as to the antiquity of some London taverns, there can be none for
questioning the ripe old age to which the Pope's Head in Cornhill
attained. This is one of the few taverns which Stow deals with at
length. He describes it as being "strongly built of stone," and
favours the opinion that it was at one time the palace of King John.
He tells, too, how in his day wine was sold there at a penny the
pint and bread provided free. It was destroyed in the Great Fire,
but rebuilt shortly after. Pepys knew both the old and the new
house. In the former he is said to have drunk his first "dish of
tea," and he certainly enjoyed many a meal under its roof, notably
on that occasion when, with Sir W. Penn and Mrs. Pepys, he "eat
cakes and other fine things." Another, not so pleasant, memory is
associated with the Pope's Head. Two actors figured in the episode,
James Quin and William Bowen, between whom, especially on the side
of the latter, strong professional jealousy existed. Bowen, a low
comedian of "some talent and more conceit," taunted Quin with being
tame in a certain role, and Quin retorted in kind, declaring that
Bowen's impersonation of a character in "The Libertine" was much
inferior to that of another actor. Bowen seems to have had an
ill-balanced mind; he was so affected by Jeremy Collier's "Short
View" that he left the stage and opened a cane shop in Holborn,
thinking "a shopkeeper's life was the readiest way to heaven." But
he was on the stage again in a year, thus resuming the career which
was to be his ruin. For so thoroughly was he incensed by Quin's
disparagement that he took the earliest opportunity of forcing the
quarrel to an issue. Having invited Quin to meet him, the two appear
to have gone from tavern to tavern until they reached the Pope's
Head. Quin was averse to a duel, but no sooner had the two entered
an empty room in the Cornhill tavern than Bowen fastened the door,
and, standing with his back against it and drawing his sword,
threatened Quin that he would run him through if he did not draw and
defend himself. In vain did Quin remonstrate, and in the end he had
to take to his sword to keep the angry Bowen at bay. He, however,
pressed so eagerly on his fellow actor that it was not long ere he
received a mortal wound. Before he died Bowen confessed he had been
in the wrong, and that frank admission was the main cause why Quin
was legally freed of blame for the tragic incident in the Pope's
Head.

Although there was a Mermaid tavern in Cornhill, it must not be
confused with its far more illustrious namesake in the nearby
thoroughfare of Cheapside. The Cornhill house was once kept by a man
named Dun, and the story goes that one day when he was in the room
with some witty gallants, one of them, who had been too familiar
with the host's wife, exclaimed, "I'll lay five pounds there's a
cuckold in this company." To which another immediately rejoined,
"Tis Dun!"

Around the other Mermaid--that in Cheapside--much controversy has
raged. One dispute was concerned with its exact site, but as the
building disappeared entirely many generations ago that is not a
matter of moment. Another cause of debate is found in that passage
of Gifford's life of Ben Jonson which describes his habits in the
year 1603. "About this time," Gifford wrote, "Jonson probably began
to acquire that turn for conviviality for which he was afterwards
noted. Sir Walter Raleigh, previously to his unfortunate engagement
with Cobham and others, had instituted a meeting of _beaux
esprits_ at the Mermaid, a celebrated tavern in Friday Street. Of
this club, which combined more talent and genius, perhaps, than ever
met together before or since, our author was a member; and here, for
many years, he regularly repaired with Shakespeare, Beaumont,
Fletcher, Selden, Cotton, Carew, Martin, Donne, and many others,
whose names, even at this distant period, call up a mingled feeling
of reverence and respect." Many have found this flowing narrative
hard of belief. It is doubted whether Gifford had any authority for
mixing up Sir Walter Raleigh with the Mermaid, and there are good
grounds for believing that Jonson's relations with Shakespeare were
not of an intimate character.

All the same, it is beyond dispute that there were rare combats of
wit at the Mermaid in Jonson's days and under his rule. For
indisputable witness we have that epistle which Francis Beaumont
addressed to Jonson from some country retreat whither he and
Fletcher had repaired to work on two of their comedies. Beaumont
tells how he had dreams of the "full Mermaid wine," dwells upon the
lack of excitement in his rural abode, and then breaks out:

   "Methinks the little wit I had is lost
   Since I saw you; for wit is like a rest
   Held up at tennis, which men do best
   With the best gamesters. What things have we seen
   Done at the Mermaid! heard words that have been
   So nimble, and so full of subtle flame,
   As if that every one (from whence they came)
   Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
   And had resolved to live a fool the rest
   Of his dull life."

That poem inspired another which should always be included in the
anthology of the Mermaid. More than two centuries after Beaumont
penned his rhyming epistle to Jonson, three brothers had their
lodging for a brief season in Cheapside, and the poetic member of
the trio doubtless mused long and often on those kindred spirits
who, for him far more than for ordinary mortals, haunted the spot
where the famous tavern once stood. Thus it came about that John
Keats' residence in Cheapside was a prime factor in suggesting his
"Lines on the Mermaid Tavern":

  "Souls of poets dead and gone,
   What Elysium have ye known,
   Happy field or mossy cavern,
   Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
   Have ye tippled drink more fine
   Than mine host's Canary wine?
   Or are fruits of Paradise
   Sweeter than those dainty pies
   Of venison? O generous food!
   Drest as though bold Robin Hood
   Would, with his maid Marian,
   Sup and bowse with horn and can.

   "I have heard that on a day
   Mine host's sign-board flew away,
   Nobody knew whither, till
   An Astrologer's old quill
   To a sheepskin gave the story,
   Said he saw you in your glory,
   Underneath a new-old sign
   Sipping beverage divine,
   And pledging with contented smack
   The Mermaid in the Zodiac.

   "Souls of poets dead and gone,
   What Elysium have ye known,
   Happy field or mossy cavern,
   Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?"

 [Illustration: ANCIENT VIEW OF CHEAPSIDE, SHOWING THE NAG'S HEAD
TAVERN.]

Compared with the Mermaid, the other old taverns of Cheapside make a
meagre showing in history. There was a Mitre, however, which dated
back to 1475 at the least, and had the reputation of making "noses
red"; and the Bull Head, whose host was the "most faithful friend"
Bishop Ridley ever had, and was the meeting-place of the Royal
Society for several years; and, above all, the Nag's Head, famous as
the alleged scene of the fictitious consecration of the Elizabethan
bishops in 1559. There is an interesting drawing of 1638 depicting
the procession of Mary de Medici in Cheapside on the occasion of her
visit to her daughter, the wife of Charles I. This animated scene is
historically valuable for the record it gives of several notable
structures in the thoroughfare which was at that time the centre of
the commercial life of London. In the middle of the picture is an
excellent representation of Cheapside Cross, to the right the
conduit is seen, and in the extreme corner of the drawing is a
portion of the Nag's Head with its projecting sign.

Another of Ben Jonson's haunts was situated within easy distance of
the Mermaid. This was the Three Tuns, of the Guildhall Yard, which
Herrick includes in his list of taverns favoured by the dramatist.

         "Ah Ben!
   Say how or when
   Shall we thy Guests,
   Meet at those lyric feasts
       Made at the Sun,
   The Dog, the Triple Tunne;
   Where we such clusters had
   As made us nobly wild, not mad?"

Close at hand, too, in Old Jewry, was that Windmill tavern, of which
Stow wrote that it was "sometime the Jews' synagogue, since a house
of friars, then a nobleman's house, after that a merchant's house,
wherein mayoralties have been kept, and now a wine tavern." It must
have been a fairly spacious hostelry, for on the occasion of the
visit of the Emperor Charles V in 1522 the house is noted as being
able to provide fourteen feather-beds, and stabling for twenty
horses. From the fact that one of the characters in "Every Man in
His Humour" dates a letter from the Windmill, and that two of the
scenes in that comedy take place in a room of the tavern, it is
obvious that it also must be numbered among the many houses
frequented by Jonson.

One dramatic episode is connected with the history of the Windmill.
In the early years of the seventeenth century considerable
excitement was aroused in Worcestershire by the doings of John
Lambe, who indulged in magical arts and crystal glass enchantments.
By 1622 he was in London, and numbered the king's favourite, the
Duke of Buckingham, among his clients. That was sufficient to set
the populace against him, an enmity which was greatly intensified by
strange atmospheric disturbances which visited London in June, 1628.
All this was attributed to Lambe's conjuring, and the popular fury
came to a climax a day or two later, when Lambe, as he was leaving
the Fortune Theatre, was attacked by a mob of apprentices. He fled
towards the city and finally took refuge in the Windmill. After
affording the hunted man haven for a few hours the host, in view of
the tumult outside, at length turned him into the street again,
where he was so severely beaten that he died the following morning.
A crystal ball and other conjuring implements were found on his
person.

Far less exciting was the history of Pontack's, a French ordinary in
Abchurch Lane which played a conspicuous part in the social life of
London during the eighteenth century. Britons of that period had
their own insular contempt for French cookery, as is well
illustrated by Rowlandson's caricature which, with its larder of
dead cats and its coarse revelation of other secrets of French
cuisine, may be regarded as typical of the popular opinion. But
Pontack and his eating-house flourished amazingly for all that. A
French refugee in London in 1697 took pride in the fact that whereas
it was difficult to obtain a good meal elsewhere "those who would
dine at one or two guineas per head are handsomely accommodated at
our famous Pontack's." The owner of this ordinary is sketched in
brief by Evelyn, who frequently dined under his roof. Under date
July 13, 1683, the diarist wrote: "I had this day much discourse
with Monsieur Pontaq, son to 'the famous and wise prime President of
Bordeaux. This gentleman was owner of that excellent vignoble of
Pontaq and Obrien, from whence come the choicest of our Bordeaux
wines; and I think I may truly say of him, what was not so truly
said of St. Paul, that much learning had made him mad. He spoke all
languages, was very rich, had a handsome person, and was well bred;
about forty-five years of age."

[Illustration: A FRENCH ORDINARY IN LONDON. (_From a Rowlandson
Caricature_).]

Hogarth, it will be remembered, paid Pontack a dubious compliment in
the third plate of his Rake's Progress series. The room of that
boisterous scene is adorned with pictures of the Roman Emperors, one
of which has been removed to give place to the portrait of Pontack,
who is described by a Hogarth commentator as "an eminent French
cook, whose great talents being turned to heightening sensual,
rather than mental enjoyments, has a much better chance of a votive
offering from this company, than would either Vespasian or Trajan."
These advertisements, however, were all to the good of the house.
They were exactly of the kind to attract the most profitable type of
customer. Those customers might grumble, as Swift did, at the
prices, but they all agreed that they enjoyed very good dinners. The
poet, indeed, expressed the unanimous verdict of the town when he
asked:

   "What wretch would nibble on a hanging shelf,
     When at Pontack's he may regale himself?"



CHAPTER III.

TAVERNS OF FLEET STREET AND THEREABOUTS.


Save for the High Street of Southwark, there was probably no
thoroughfare of old London which could boast so many inns and
taverns to the square yard as Fleet Street, but ere the pilgrim
explores that famous neighbourhood he should visit several other
spots where notable hostelries were once to be seen. He should, for
example, turn his steps towards St. Paul's Churchyard, which,
despite the fact that it was chiefly inhabited by booksellers, had
its Queen's Arms tavern and its Goose and Gridiron.

Memories of David Garrick and Dr. Johnson are associated with the
Queen's Arms. This tavern was the meeting-place of a select club
formed by a few intimate friends of the actor for the express
purpose of providing them with opportunities to enjoy his society.
Its members included James Clutterback, the city merchant who gave
Garrick invaluable financial aid when he started at Drury Lane, and
John Paterson, that helpful solicitor whom the actor selected as one
of his executors. These admirers of "little David" were a temperate
set; "they were 'none of them drinkers, and in order to make a
reckoning called only for French wine." Johnson's association with
the house is recorded by Boswell as belonging to the year 1781. "On
Friday, April 6," he writes, "he carried me to dine at a club which,
at his desire, had been lately formed at the Queen's Arms in St.
Paul's Churchyard. He told Mr. Hoole that he wished to have a City
_Club_, and asked him to collect one; but, said he, 'Don't let
them be _patriots_.' The company were to-day very sensible,
well-behaved men." Which, taken in conjunction with the abstemious
nature of the Garrick club, would seem to show that the Queen's Arms
was an exceedingly decorous house.

Concerning the Goose and Gridiron only a few scanty facts have
survived. Prior to the Great Fire it was known as the Mitre, but on
its being rebuilt it was called the Lyre. When it came into repute
through the concerts of a favourite musical society being given
within its walls, the house was decorated with a sign of Apollo's
lyre, surmounted by a swan. This provided too good an opportunity
for the wits of the town to miss, and they promptly renamed the
house as the Goose and Gridiron, which recalls the facetious
landlord who, on gaining possession of premises once used as a
music-house, chose for his sign a goose stroking the bars of a
gridiron and inscribed beneath, "The Swan and Harp." It is an
interesting note in the history of the St. Paul's Churchyard house
that early in the eighteenth century, on the revival of Freemasonry
in England, the Grand Lodge was established here.

Almost adjacent to St. Paul's, that is, in Queen's Head Passage,
which leads from Paternoster Row into Newgate Street, once stood the
famous Dolly's Chop House, the resort of Fielding, and Defoe, and
Swift, and Dryden, and Pope and many other sons of genius. It was
built on the site of an ordinary owned by Richard Tarleton, the
Elizabethan actor whose playing was so humorous that it even won the
praise of Jonson. He was indeed such a merry soul, and so great a
favourite in clown's parts, that innkeepers frequently had his
portrait painted as a sign. The chief feature of the establishment
which succeeded Tarleton's tavern appears to have been the
excellence of its beef-steaks. It should also be added that they
were served fresh from the grill, a fact which is accentuated by the
allusion which Smollett places in one of Melford's letters to Sir
Walkin Phillips in "Humphry Clinker": "I send you the history of
this day, which has been remarkably full of adventures; and you will
own I give you them like a beef-steak at Dolly's, _hot_ and
_hot_, without ceremony and parade."

Out into Newgate Street the pilgrim should now make his way in
search of that Salutation Tavern which is precious for its
associations with Coleridge and Lamb and Southey. Once more, alas!
the new has usurped the place of the old, but there is some
satisfaction in being able to gaze upon the lineal successor of so
noted a house. The Salutation was a favourite social resort in the
eighteenth century and was frequently the scene of the more formal
dining occasions of the booksellers and printers. There is a
poetical invitation to one such function, a booksellers' supper on
January 19, 1736, which reads:

   "You're desired on Monday next to meet
   'At Salutation Tavern, Newgate Street,
   Supper will be on table just at eight."

One of those rhyming invitations was sent to Samuel Richardson, the
novelist, who replied in kind:

   "For me I'm much concerned I cannot meet
   At Salutation Tavern, Newgate Street."

Another legend credits this with being the house whither Sir
Christopher Wren resorted to smoke his pipe while the new St. Paul's
was being built. More authentic, however, and indeed beyond dispute,
are the records which link the memories of Coleridge and Lamb and
Southey with this tavern It was here Southey found Coleridge in one
of his many fits of depression, but pleasanter far are the
recollections which recall the frequent meetings of Lamb and
Coleridge, between whom there was so much in common. They would not
forget that it was at the nearby Christ's Hospital they were
schoolboys together, the reminiscences of which happy days coloured
the thoughts of Elia as he penned that exquisite portrait of his
friend: "Come back into memory, like as thou wert in the day-spring
of thy fancies, with hope like a fiery column before thee--the dark
pillar not yet turned--Samuel Taylor Coleridge--Logician,
Metaphysician, Bard!--How have I seen the casual passer through the
cloisters stand still, entranced with admiration to hear thee
unfold, in thy deep and sweet intonations, the mysteries of
Jamblichus, or Plotinus, or reciting Homer in his Greek, or
Pindar--while the walls of the old Grey Friars re-echoed to the
accents of the inspired charity-boy!" As Coleridge was the elder by
two years he left Christ's Hospital for Cambridge before Lamb had
finished his course, but he came back to London now and then, to
meet his schoolmate in a smoky little room of the Salutation and
discuss metaphysics and poetry to the accompaniment of egg-hot,
Welsh rabbits, and tobacco. Those golden hours in the old tavern
left their impress deep in Lamb's sensitive nature, and when he came
to dedicate his works to Coleridge he hoped that some of the
sonnets, carelessly regarded by the general reader, would awaken in
his friend "remembrances which I should be sorry should be ever
totally extinct--the 'memory 'of summer days and of delightful
years,' even so far back as those old suppers at our old Salutation
Inn,--when life was fresh and topics exhaustless--and you first
kindled in me, if not the power, yet the love of poetry and beauty
and kindliness."

Continuing westward from Newgate Street, the explorer of the inns
and taverns of old London comes first to Holborn Viaduct, where
there is nothing of note to detain him, and then reaches Holborn
proper, with its continuation as High Holborn, which by the time of
Henry III had become a main highway into the city for the transit of
wood and hides, corn and cheese, and other agricultural products. It
must be remembered also that many of the principal coaches had their
stopping-place in this thoroughfare, and that as a consequence the
inns were numerous and excellent and much frequented by country
gentlemen on their visits to town. Although those inns have long
been swept away, the quaint half-timbered buildings of Staple Inn
remain to aid the imagination in repicturing those far-off days when
the Dagger, and the Red Lion, and the Bull and Gate, and the Blue
Boar, and countless other hostelries were dotted on either side of
the street.

With the first of these, the Dagger Tavern, we cross the tracks of
Ben Jonson once more. Twice does the dramatist allude to this house
in "The Alchemist," and the revelation that Dapper frequented the
Dagger would have conveyed its own moral to seventeenth century
playgoers, for it was then notorious as a resort of the lowest and
most disreputable kind. The other reference makes mention of "Dagger
frumety," which is a reminder that this house, as was the case with
another of like name, prided itself upon the excellence of its pies,
which were decorated with a representation of a dagger. That these
pasties were highly appreciated is the only conclusion which can be
drawn from the contemporary exclamation, "I'll not take thy word for
a Dagger pie," and from the fact that in "The Devil is an Ass"
Jonson makes Iniquity declare that the 'prentice boys rob their
masters and "spend it in pies at the Dagger and the Woolsack."

A second of these Holborn inns bore a sign which has puzzled
antiquaries not a little. The name was given as the Bull and Gate,
but the actual sign was said to depict the Boulogne Gate at Calais.
Here, it is thought, a too phonetic pronunciation of the French word
led to the contradiction of name and sign. What is more to the
point, and of greater interest, is the connection Fielding
established between Tom Jones and the Bull and Gate. When that hero
reached London in his search after the Irish peer who brought Sophia
to town, he entered the great city by the highway which is now
Gray's Inn Road, and at once began his arduous search. But without
success. He prosecuted his enquiry till the clock struck eleven, and
then Jones "at last yielded to the advice of Partridge, and
retreated to the Bull and Gate in Holborn, that being the inn where
he had first alighted, and where he retired to enjoy that kind of
repose which usually attends persons in his circumstances."

No less notable a character than Oliver Cromwell is linked in a
dramatic manner with the histories of the Blue Boar and the Red Lion
inns. The narrative of the first incident is put in Cromwell's own
mouth by Lord Broghill, that accomplished Irish peer whose
conversion from royalism to the cause of the Commonwealth was
accomplished by the Ironsides general in the course of one memorable
interview. According to this authority, Cromwell once declared that
there was a time when he and his party would have settled their
differences with Charles I but for an incident which destroyed their
confidence in that monarch. What that incident was cannot be more
vividly described than by the words Lord Broghill attributed to
Cromwell. "While we were busied in these thoughts," he said, "there
came a letter from one of our spies, who was of the king's
bed-chamber, which acquainted us, that on that day our final doom
was decreed; that he could not possibly tell us what it was, but we
might find it out, if we could intercept a letter, sent from the
king to the queen, wherein he declared what he would do. The letter,
he said, was sewed up in the skirt of a saddle, and the bearer of it
would come with the saddle upon his head, about ten of the clock
that night, to the Blue Boar Inn in Holborn; for there he was to
take horse and go to Dover with it. This messenger knew nothing of
the letter in the saddle, but some persons at Dover did. We were at
Windsor, when we received this letter; and immediately upon the
receipt of it, Ireton and I resolved to take one trusty fellow with
us, and with troopers' habits to go to the Inn in Holborn; which
accordingly we did, and set our man at the gate of the Inn, where
the wicket only was open to let people in and out. Our man was to
give us notice, when any one came with a saddle, whilst we in the
disguise of common troopers called for cans of beer, and continued
drinking till about ten o'clock: the sentinel at the gate then gave
notice that the man with the saddle was come in. Upon this we
immediately arose, and, as the man was leading out his horse
saddled, came up to him with drawn swords and told him that we were
to search all that went in and out there; but as he looked like an
honest man, we would only search his saddle and so dismiss him. Upon
that we ungirt the saddle and carried it into the stall, where we
had been drinking, and left the horseman with our sentinel: then
ripping up one of the skirts of the saddle, we there found the
letter of which we had been informed: and having got it into our own
hands, we delivered the saddle again to the man, telling him he was
an honest man, and bid him go about his business. The man, not
knowing what had been done, went away to Dover. As soon as we had
the letter we opened it; in which we found the king had acquainted
the queen, that he was now courted by both the factions, 'the Scotch
Presbyterians and the Army; and which bid fairest for him should
have him; but he thought he should close with the Scots, sooner than
the other. Upon this we took horse, and went to Windsor; and finding
we were not likely to have any tolerable terms with the king, we
immediately from that time forward resolved his ruin."

As that scene at the Blue Boar played so important a part in the
sequence of events which were to lead to Cromwell's attainment of
supreme power in England, so another Holborn inn, the Red Lion, was
to witness the final act of that petty revenge which marked the
downfall of the Commonwealth. Perplexing mystery surrounds the
ultimate fate of Cromwell's body, but the record runs that his
corpse, and those of Ireton and Bradshaw, were ruthlessly torn from
their graves soon after the Restoration and were taken to the Red
Lion, whence, on, the following morning, they were dragged on a
sledge to Tyburn and there treated with the ignominy hitherto
reserved for the vilest criminals. All kinds of legends surround
these gruesome proceedings. One tradition will have it that some of
Cromwell's faithful friends rescued his mutilated remains, and
buried them in a field on the north side of Holborn, a spot now
covered by the public garden in Red Lion Square. On the other hand
grave doubts have been expressed as to whether the body taken to the
Red Lion was really that of Cromwell. One legend asserts that it was
not buried in Westminster Abbey but sunk in the Thames; another that
it was interred in Naseby field; and a third that it was placed in
the coffin of Charles I at Windsor.

Impatient though he may be to revel in the multifarious associations
of Fleet Street, the pilgrim should turn aside into Ludgate Hill for
a few minutes for the sake of that Belle Sauvage inn the name of
which has been responsible for a rich harvest of explanatory theory.
Addison contributed to it in his own humorous way. An early number
of the Spectator was devoted to the discussion of the advisability
of an office being established for the regulation of signs, one
suggestion being that when the name of a shopkeeper or innkeeper
lent itself to "an ingenious sign-post" full advantage should be
taken of the opportunity. In this connection Addison offered the
following explanation of the name of the Ludgate Hill inn, which, it
has been shrewdly conjectured by Henry B. Wheatley, was probably
intended as a joke. "As for the bell-savage, which is the sign of a
savage man standing by a bell, I was formerly very much puzzled upon
the conceit of it, till I accidentally fell into the reading of an
old romance translated out of the French; which gives an account of
a very beautiful woman who was found in a wilderness, and is called
in the French La Belle Sauvage; and is everywhere translated by our
countrymen the bell-savage."

Not quite so poetic is the most feasible explanation of this unusual
name for an inn. It seems that the original sign of the house was
the Bell, but that in the middle of the fifteenth century it had an
alternative designation. A deed of that period speaks of "all that
tenement or inn with its appurtenances, called Savage's inn,
otherwise called the Bell on the Hoop." This was evidently a case
where the name of the host counted for more than the actual sign of
the house, and the habit of speaking of Savage's Bell may easily
have led to the perversion into Bell Savage, and thence to the
Frenchified form mostly used to-day.

Leaving these questions of etymology for more certain matters, it is
interesting to recall that it was in the yard of the Belle Sauvage
Sir Thomas Wyatt's rebellion came to an inglorious end. That rising
was ostensibly aimed at the prevention of Queen Mary's marriage with
a prince of Spain, and for that reason won a large measure of
support from the men of Kent, at whose head Wyatt marched on the,
capital. At London Bridge, however, his way was blocked, and he was
obliged to make a détour by way of Kingston, in the hope of entering
the city by Lud Gate. But his men became disorganized on the long
march, and at each stage more and more were cut off from the main
body by the queen's forces, until, by the time he reached Fleet
Street, the rebel had only some three hundred followers. "He passed
Temple Bar," wrote Froude, "along Fleet Street, and reached Ludgate.
The gate was open as he approached, when some one seeing a number of
men coming up, exclaimed, 'These be Wyatt's ancients.' Muttered
curses were heard among the by-standers; but Lord Howard was on the
spot; the gates, notwithstanding the murmurs, were instantly closed;
and when Wyatt knocked, Howard's voice answered, 'Avaunt! traitor;
thou shall not come in here.' 'I have kept touch,' Wyatt exclaimed;
but his enterprise was hopeless now, He sat down upon a bench
outside the Belle Sauvage yard." That was the end. His followers
scattered in all directions, and in a little while he was a
prisoner, on his way to the Tower and the block.

[Illustration: YARD OF BELLE SAUVAGE INN.]

More peaceful are the records which tell how the famous carver in
wood, Grinling Gibbons, and the notorious quack, Richard Rock, once
had lodgings in the Belle Sauvage Yard, and more picturesque are the
memories of those days when the inn was the starting-place of those
coaches which lend a touch of romance to old English life. Horace
Walpole says Gibbons signalized his tenancy by carving a pot of
flowers over a doorway, so delicate in leaf and stem that the whole
shook with the motion of the carriages passing by. The quack, into
the hands of whom and his like Goldsmith declared all fell unless
they were "blasted by lightning, or struck dead with some sudden
disorder," was a "great man, short of stature, fat," and waddled as
he walked. He was "usually drawn at the top of his own bills,
sitting in his arm-chair, holding a little bottle between his finger
and thumb, and surrounded with rotten teeth, nippers, pills,
packets, and gallipots."

From the Belle Sauvage to the commencement of Fleet Street is but a
stone's throw, but the pilgrim must not expect to find any memorials
of the past in the eastern portion of that famous thoroughfare. The
buildings here are practically all modern, many of them, indeed,
having been erected in the last decade. As these lines are being
written, too, the announcement is made of a project for the further
transformation of the street at the cost of half a million pounds.
The idea is to continue the widening of the thoroughfare further
west, and if that plan is carried out, devastation must overtake
most of the ancient buildings which still remain.

By far the most outstanding feature of the Fleet Street of to-day is
the number and variety of its newspaper offices; two centuries ago
it had a vastly different aspect.

   "From thence, along that tipling street,
   Distinguish'd by the name of Fleet,
   Where Tavern-Signs hang thicker far,
   Than Trophies down at Westminster;
   And ev'ry Bacchanalian Landlord
   Displays his Ensign, or his Standard,
   Bidding Defiance to each Brother,
   As if at Wars with one another."

How thoroughly the highway deserved the name of "tipling street" may
be inferred from the fact that its list of taverns included but was
not exhausted by the Devil, the King's Head, the Horn, the Mitre,
the Cock, the Bolt-in-Tun, the Rainbow, the Cheshire Cheese,
Hercules Pillars, the Castle, the Dolphin, the Seven Stars, Dick's,
Nando's, and Peele's. No one would recognize in the Anderton's Hotel
of to-day the lineal successor of one of these ancient taverns, and
yet it is a fact that that establishment perpetuates the Horn tavern
of the fifteenth century. In the early seventeenth century the house
was in high favour with the legal fraternity, but its patronage of
the present time is of a more miscellaneous character. The present
building was erected in 1880.

[Illustration: THE CHESHIRE CHEESE--ENTRANCE FROM FLEET STREET.]

Close by, a low and narrow archway gives access to Wine Office
Court, a spot ever memorable for its having been for some three
years the home of Oliver Goldsmith. It was in 1760, when in his
thirty-second year, that he took lodgings in this cramped alleyway,
and here he remained, toiling as a journeyman for an astute
publisher, until towards the end of 1762. So improved were
Goldsmith's fortunes in these days that he launched out into supper
parties, one of which, in May, 1761, was rendered memorable by the
presence of Dr. Johnson, who attired himself with unusual care for
the occasion. To a companion who, noting the new suit of clothes,
the new wig nicely powdered, and all else in harmony, commented on
his appearance, Johnson rejoined, "Why, sir, I hear that Goldsmith,
who is a very great sloven, justifies his disregard of cleanliness
and decency by quoting my practice, and I am desirous this night to
show him a better example." The house where that supper party was
held has disappeared, but in the Cheshire Cheese nearby there yet
survives a building which the centuries have spared.

Exactly how old this tavern is cannot be decided. It is inevitable
that there must have been a hostelry on this spot before the Great
Fire of 1666, inasmuch as there is a record to show that it was
rebuilt the following year. Which goes to show that the present
building has attained the ripe age of nearly two and a half
centuries. No one who explores its various apartments will be likely
to question that fact. Everything about the place wears an air of
antiquity, from the quaint bar-room to the more private chambers
upstairs. The chief glory of the Cheshire Cheese, however, is to be
seen downstairs on the left hand of the principal entrance. This is
the genuinely old-fashioned eating-room, with its rude tables, its
austere seats round the walls, its sawdust-sprinkled floor, and,
above all, its sacred nook in the further right hand corner which is
pointed out as the favourite seat of Dr. Johnson. Above this niche
is a copy of the Reynolds portrait of the sturdy lexicographer,
beneath which is the following inscription: "The Favourite Seat of
Dr. Johnson.--Born 18th Septr., 1709. Died 13th Decr., 1784. In him
a noble understanding and a masterly intellect were united with
grand independence of character and unfailing goodness of heart,
which won him the admiration of his own age, and remain as
recommendations to the reverence of posterity. 'No, Sir! there is
nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much
happiness has been produced as by a good tavern.'"

[Illustration: THE CHESHIRE CHEESE--THE JOHNSON ROOM.]

After all this it is surprising to learn that the authority for
connecting Dr. Johnson with the Cheshire Cheese rests upon a
somewhat late tradition. Boswell does not mention the tavern, an
omission which 'is accounted for by noting that "Boswell's
acquaintance with Johnson began when Johnson was an old man, and
when he had given up the house in Gough Square, and Goldsmith had
long departed from Wine Office Court. At the best," this apologist
adds, "Boswell only knew Johnson's life in widely separated
sections." As appeal cannot, then, be made to Boswell it is made to
others. The most important of these witnesses is a Cyrus Jay, who,
in a book of reminiscences published in 1868, claimed to have
frequented the Cheshire Cheese for fifty-five years, and to have
known a man who had frequently seen Johnson and Goldsmith in the
tavern. Another writer has placed on record that he often met in the
tavern gentlemen who had seen the famous pair there on many
occasions.

Taking into account these traditions and the further fact that the
building supplies its own evidence as to antiquity, it is not
surprising that the Cheshire Cheese enjoys an enviable popularity
with all who find a special appeal in the survivals of old London.
As a natural consequence more recent writing in prose and verse has
been bestowed upon this tavern than any other of the metropolis.
Perhaps the best of the many poems penned in its praise is that
"Ballade" written by John Davidson, the poet whose mysterious
disappearance has added so sad a chapter to the history of
literature.

  "I know a house of antique ease
    Within the smoky city's pale,
  A spot wherein the spirit sees
    Old London through a thinner veil.
    The modern world so stiff and stale,
  You leave behind you when you please,
    For long clay pipes and great old ale
  And beefsteaks in the 'Cheshire Cheese.'

  "Beneath this board Burke's, Goldsmith's knees
    Were often thrust--so runs the tale--
  'Twas here the Doctor took his ease
    And wielded speech that like a flail
    Threshed out the golden truth. All hail,
  Great souls! that met on nights like these
    Till morning made the candles pale,
  And revellers left the 'Cheshire Cheese.'

  "By kindly sense and old decrees
    Of England's use they set the sail
  We press to never-furrowed seas,
    For vision-worlds we breast the gale,
    And still we seek and still we fail,
  For still the 'glorious phantom' flees.
    Ah well! no phantom are the ale
  And beefsteaks of the 'Cheshire Cheese.'

  "If doubts or debts thy soul assail,
    If Fashion's forms its current freeze,
  Try a long pipe, a glass of ale,
    And supper at the 'Cheshire Cheese.'"

While the Cheshire Cheese was less fortunate than the Cock in the
Fire of London, the latter house, which escaped that conflagration,
has fallen on comparatively evil days in modern times. In other
words, the exterior of the original building, which dated from early
in the seventeenth century, was demolished in 1888, to make room for
a branch establishment of the Bank of England. Pepys knew the old
house and spent many a jovial evening beneath its roof. It was
thither, one April evening in 1667, that he took Mrs. Pierce and
Mrs. Knapp, the latter being the actress whom he thought "pretty
enough" besides being "the most excellent, mad-humoured thing, and
sings the noblest that ever I heard in my life." The trio had a gay
time; they "drank, and eat lobster, and sang" and were "mightily
merry." By and by the crafty diarist deleted Mrs. Pierce from the
party, and went off to Vauxhall with the fair actress, his
confidence in the enterprise being strengthened by the fact that the
night was "darkish." If she did not find out that excursion, Mrs.
Pepys knew quite enough of her husband's weakness for Mrs. Knapp to
be justified of her jealousy. And even he appears to have
experienced twinges of conscience on the matter. Perhaps that was
the reason why he took his wife to the Cock, and "did give her a
dinner" there. Other sinners have found it comforting to exercise
repentance on the scene of their offences.

Judging from an advertisement which was published in 1665, the
proprietor of the Cock did not allow business to interfere with
pleasure. "This is to certify," his announcement ran, "that the
master of the Cock and Bottle, commonly called the Cock Alehouse, at
Temple Bar, hath dismissed his servants, and shut up his house, for
this Long Vacation, intending (God willing) to return at Michaelmas
next."

But the tavern is prouder of its association with Tennyson than of
any other fact in its history. The poet was always fond of this
neighbourhood. His son records that whenever he went to London with
his father, the first item on their programme was a walk in the
Strand and Fleet Street. "Instead of the stuccoed houses in the West
End, this is the place where I should like to live," Tennyson would
say. During his early days he lodged in Norfolk Street close by,
dining with his friends at the Cock and other taverns, but always
having a preference for the room "high over roaring Temple-bar." In
the estimation of the poet, as his son has chronicled, "a perfect
dinner was a beef-steak, a potato, a cut of cheese, a pint of port,
and afterwards a pipe (never a cigar). When joked with by his
friends about his liking for cold salt beef and new potatoes, he
would answer humorously, 'All fine-natured men know what is good to
eat.' Very genial evenings they were, with plenty of anecdote and
wit."

All this, especially the pint of port, throws light on "Will
Waterproof's Lyrical Monologue," which, as the poet himself has
stated, was "made at the Cock." Its opening apostrophe is familiar
enough:

  "O plump head-waiter at The Cock,
    To which I most resort,
  How goes the time? 'Tis five o'clock.
    Go fetch a pint of port."

How faithfully that waiter obeyed the poet's injunction to bring him
of the best, all readers of the poem are aware:

  "The pint, you brought me, was the best
    That ever came from pipe."

Undoubtedly. As witness the flights of fancy which it created. Its
potent vintage transformed both the waiter and the sign of the house
in which he served and shaped this pretty legend.

  "And hence this halo lives about
    The waiter's hands, that reach
  To each his perfect pint of stout,
    His proper chop to each.
  He looks not like the common breed.
    That with the napkin dally;
  I think he came like Ganymede,
    From some delightful valley.

  "The Cock was of a larger egg
    Than modern poultry drop,
  Stept forward on a firmer leg,
    And cramm'd a plumper crop;
  Upon an ampler dunghill trod,
    Crow'd lustier late and early,
  Sipt wine from silver, praising God,
    And raked in golden barley.

  "A private life was all his joy,
    Till in a court he saw
  A something-pottle-bodied boy
    That knuckled at the law:
  He stoop'd and clutch'd him, fair and good,
    Flew over roof and casement:
  His brothers of the weather stood
    Stock-still for sheer amazement.

  "But he, by farmstead, thorpe and spire,
    And follow'd with acclaims,
  A sign to many a staring shire
    Came crowing over Thames.
  Right down by smoky Paul's they bore,
    Till, where the street grows straiter,
  One fix'd for ever at the door,
    And one became head-waiter."

Just here the poet bethought himself. It was time to rein in his
fancy. Truly it was out of place to make

  "The violet of a legend blow
  Among the chops and steaks."


So he descends to more mundane things, to moralize at last upon the
waiter's fate and the folly of quarrelling with our lot in life. It
is interesting to learn from Fitzgerald that the Cock's plump
head-waiter read the poem, but disappointing to know that his only
remark on the performance was, "Had Mr. Tennyson dined oftener here,
he would not have minded it so much." From which poets may learn the
moral that to trifle with Jove's cupbearer in the interests of a
tavern waiter is liable to lead to misunderstanding. But it is,
perhaps, of more importance to note that, notwithstanding the
destruction of the exterior of the Cock in 1888, one room of that
ancient building was preserved intact and may be found on the first
floor of the new house. There, for use as well as admiration, are
the veritable mahogany boxes which Tennyson knew,--

  "Old boxes, larded with the steam
    Of thirty thousand dinners--"

and not less in evidence is the stately old fireplace which Pepys
was familiar with.

Not even a seat or a fireplace has survived of the Mitre tavern of
Shakespeare's days, or the Mitre tavern which Boswell mentions so
often. They were not the same house, as has sometimes been stated,
and the Mitre of to-day is little more than a name-successor to
either. Ben Jonson's plays and other literature of the seventeenth
century make frequent mention of the old Mitre, and that was no
doubt the tavern Pepys patronized on occasion.

No one save an expert indexer would have the courage to commit
himself to the exact number of Boswell's references to the Mitre. He
had a natural fondness for the tavern as the scene of his first meal
with Johnson, and with Johnson himself, as his biographer has
explained, the place was a first favourite for many years. "I had
learned," says Boswell in recording the early stages of his
acquaintance with his famous friend, "that his place of frequent
resort was the Mitre Tavern in Fleet Street, where he loved to sit
up late, and I begged I might be allowed to pass an evening with him
there, which he promised I should. A few days afterwards I met him
near Temple-bar, about one o'clock in the morning, and asked if he
would then go to the Mitre. 'Sir,' said he, 'it is too late; they
won't let us in. But I'll go with you another night with all my
heart.'" That other night soon came. Boswell called for his friend
at nine o'clock, and the two were soon in the tavern. They had a
good supper, and port wine, but the occasion was more than food and
drink to Boswell. "The orthodox high-church sound of the Mitre,--the
figure and manner of the celebrated Samuel Johnson,--the
extraordinary power and precision of his conversation, and the pride
arising from finding myself admitted as his companion, produced a
variety of sensations, and a pleasing elevation of mind beyond what
I had ever before experienced."

[Illustration: DR. SAMUEL JOHNSON.]

On the next occasion Goldsmith was of the company, and the visit
after that was brought about through Boswell's inability to keep his
promise to entertain Johnson at his own rooms. The little Scotsman
had a squabble with his landlord, and was obliged to take his guest
to the Mitre. "There is nothing," Johnson said, "in this mighty
misfortune; nay, we shall be better at the Mitre." And Boswell was
characteristically oblivious of the slur on his gifts as a host. But
that, perhaps, is a trifle compared with the complacency with which
he records further snubbings administered to him at that tavern. For
example, there was that rainy night when Boswell made some feeble
complaints about the weather, qualifying them with the profound
reflection that it was good for the vegetable creation. "Yes, sir,"
Johnson rejoined, "it is good for vegetables, and for the animals
who eat those vegetables, and for the animals who eat those
animals." Then there was that other occasion when the note-taker
talked airily about his interview with Rousseau, and asked Johnson
whether he thought him a bad man, only to be crushed with Johnson's,
"Sir, if you are talking jestingly of this, I don't talk with you.
If you mean to be serious, I think him one of the worst of men."
Severer still was the rebuke of another conversation at the Mitre.
The ever-blundering Boswell rated Foote for indulging his talent of
ridicule at the expense of his visitors, "making fools of his
company," as he expressed it. "Sir," Johnson said, "he does not make
fools of his company; they whom he exposes are fools already: he
only brings them into action."

But, if only in gratitude for what Boswell accomplished, last
impressions of the Mitre should not be of those castigations. A far
prettier picture is that which we owe to the reminiscences of Dr.
Maxwell, who, while assistant preacher at the Temple, had many
opportunities of enjoying Johnson's company. Dr. Maxwell relates
that one day when he was paying Johnson a visit, two young ladies,
from the country came to consult him on the subject of Methodism, to
which they were inclined. "Come," he said, "you pretty fools, dine
with Maxwell and me at the Mitre, and we will take over that
subject." Away, they went, and after dinner Johnson "took one of
them upon his knee, and fondled her for half an hour together."
Dante Gabriel Rossetti chose that incident for a picture, but
neither his canvas nor Dr. Maxwell's record enlightens us as to
whether the "pretty fools" were preserved to the Church of England.
But it was a happy evening--especially for Dr. Johnson.

As with the Cock, a part of the interior of the Rainbow Tavern dates
back more than a couple of centuries. The chief interest of the
Rainbow, however, lies in the fact that it was at first a
coffee-house, and one of the earliest in London. It was opened in
1657 by a barber named James Farr who evidently anticipated more
profit in serving cups of the new beverage than in wielding his
scissors and razor. He succeeded so well that the adjacent
tavern-keepers combined to get his coffee-house suppressed, for,
said they, the "evil smell" of the new drink "greatly annoyed the
neighbourhood." But Mr. Farr prospered in spite of his competitors,
and by and by he turned the Rainbow into a regular tavern.

No one who gazes upon the century-old print of the King's Head can
do other than regret the total disappearance of that picturesque
building. This tavern stood at the west corner of Chancery Lane and
is believed by antiquaries to have been built in the reign of Edward
VI. It figures repeatedly in ancient engravings of the royal
processions of long-past centuries, and contributed a notable
feature to the progress of Queen Elizabeth as she was on her way to
visit Sir Thomas Gresham. The students of the Temple hit upon the
effective device of having several cherubs descend, as it were, from
the heavens, for the purpose of presenting the queen with a crown of
gold and laurels, together with the inevitable verses of an
Elizabethan ceremony, and the roof of the King's Head was chosen as
the heaven from whence these visitants came down. Only the first and
second floors were devoted to tavern purposes; on the ground floor
were shops, from one of which the first edition of Izaak Walton's
"Complete Angler" was sold, while another provided accommodation for
the grocery business of Abraham Cowley's father.

From 1679 the King's Head was the common headquarters of the
notorious Green Ribbon Club, which included a precious set of
scoundrels among its members, chief of them all being that
astounding perjurer, Titus Gates. Hence the tavern's designation as
a "Protestant house." It was pulled down in 1799.

Another immortal tavern of Fleet Street, the most immortal of them
all, Ben Jonson's Devil, has also utterly vanished. Its full title
was The Devil and St. Dunstan, aptly represented by the sign
depicting the saint holding the tempter by the nose, and its site,
appropriately enough, was opposite St. Dunstan's Church, on the
south side of Fleet Street and close to Temple-bar. One of Hogarth's
illustrations to "Hudibras" gives a glimpse of the tavern, but on
the wrong side of the street, as is so common in the work of that
artist.

No doubt the Devil had had a protracted existence prior to Jonson's
day, but its chief title to fame dates from the time when the
convivial dramatist made it his principal rendezvous. The exact date
of that event is difficult to determine. Nor is it possible to
explain why Jonson removed his patronage from the Mermaid in
Cheapside to the Devil in Fleet Street. The fact remains, however,
that while the earlier period of his life has its focus in Cheapside
the later is centred in the vicinity of Temple-bar.

[Illustration: TABLET AND BUST FROM THE DEVIL TAVERN.]

Perhaps Jonson may have found the accommodation of the Devil more
suited to his needs. After passing through those years of opposition
which all great poets have to face, there came to him the crown of
acknowledged leadership among the writers of his day. He accepted it
willingly. He seems to have been temperamentally fitted to the post.
He was, in fact, never so happy as when in the midst of a group of
men who owned his pre-eminence. What was more natural, then, than
that he should have conceived the idea of forming a club? And in the
great Apollo room at the Devil he found the most suitable place of
meeting. Over the door of this room, inscribed in gold letters on a
black ground, this poetical greeting was displayed.

  "Welcome all who lead or follow
  To the Oracle of Apollo--
  Here he speaks out of his pottle,
  Or the tripos, his tower bottle:
  All his answers are divine,
  Truth itself doth Bow in wine.
  Hang up all the poor hop-drinkers,
  Cries old Sam, the king of skinkers;
  He the half of life abuses,
  That sits watering with the Muses.
  Those dull girls no good can mean us;
  Wine it is the milk of Venus,
  And the poet's horse accounted:
  Ply it, and you all are mounted.
  'Tis the true Phoebian liquor,
  Cheers the brains, makes wit the quicker.
  Pays all debts, cures all diseases,
  And at once three senses pleases.
  Welcome all who lead or follow,
  To the Oracle of Apollo."

That relic of the Devil still exists, carefully preserved in the
banking establishment which occupies the site of the tavern; and
with it, just as zealously guarded, is a bust of Jonson which stood
above the verses. Inside the Apollo room was another poetical
inscription, said to have been engraved in black marble. These
verses were in the dramatist's best Latin, and set forth the rules
for his tavern academy. Much of their point is lost in the English
version, which, however, deserves quotation for the sake of the
inferences it suggests as to the conduct which was esteemed "good
form" in Jonson's club.

  "As the fund of our pleasure, let each pay his shot,
    Except some chance friend, whom a member brings in.
  Far hence be the sad, the lewd fop, and the sot;
    For such have the plagues of good company been.

  "Let the learned and witty, the jovial and gay,
    The generous and honest, compose our free state;
  And the more to exalt our delight whilst we stay,
    Let none be debarred from his choice female mate.

  "Let no scent offensive the chamber infest.
    Let fancy, not cost, prepare all our dishes.
  Let the caterer mind the taste of each guest,
    And the cook, in his dressing, comply with their wishes.

  "Let's have no disturbance about taking places,
    To show your nice breeding, or out of vain pride.
  Let the drawers be ready with wine and fresh glasses,
    Let the waiters have eyes, though their tongues must be ty'd.

  "Let our wines without mixture or stum, be all fine,
    Or call up the master, and break his dull noddle.
  Let no sober bigot here think it a sin,
    To push on the chirping and moderate bottle.

  "Let the contests be rather of books than of wine,
    Let the company be neither noisy nor mute.
  Let none of things serious, much less of divine,
    When belly and head's full profanely dispute.

  "Let no saucy fidler presume to intrude,
    Unless he is sent for to vary our bliss.
  With mirth, wit, and dancing, and singing conclude,
    To regale every sense, with delight in excess.

  "Let raillery be without malice or heat.
    Dull poems to read let none privilege take.
  Let no poetaster command or intreat
    Another extempore verses to make.

  "Let argument bear no unmusical sound,
    Nor jars interpose, sacred friendship to grieve.
  For generous lovers let a corner be found,
    Where they in soft sighs may their passions relieve.

  "Like the old Lapithites, with the goblets to fight,
    Our own 'mongst offences unpardoned will rank,
  Or breaking of windows, or glasses, for spight,
    And spoiling the goods for a rakehelly prank.

  "Whoever shall publish what's said, or what's done,
    Be he banished for ever our assembly divine.
  Let the freedom we take be perverted by none
    To make any guilty by drinking good wine."

By the testimony of those rules alone it is easy to see how
thoroughly the masterful spirit of Jonson ruled in the Apollo room.
His air was a throne, his word a sceptre that must be obeyed. This
impression is confirmed by many records and especially by Drummond's
character sketch. The natural consequence was that membership in the
Apollo Club came to be regarded as an unusual honour. There appears
to have been some kind of ceremony at the initiation of each new
member, which gave all the greater importance to the rite of being
"sealed of the tribe of Ben." Long after the dramatist was dead, his
"sons" boasted of their intimacy with him, much to the irritation of
Dryden and others. While he lived, too, they were equally elated at
being admitted to the inner circle at the Devil, and, after the
manner of Marmion, sung the praises of their "boon Delphic god,"
surrounded with his "incense and his altars smoking."

[Illustration: BEN JONSON.]


Incense was an essential if Jonson was to be kept in good humour.
Many anecdotes testify to that fact. There is the story of his loss
of patience with the country gentleman who was somewhat talkative
about his lands, and his interruption, "What signifies to us your
dirt and your clods? Where you have an acre of land, I have ten
acres of wit." And Howell tells of that supper party which, despite
good company, excellent cheer and choice wines, was turned into a
failure by Jonson engrossing all the conversation and "vapouring
extremely of himself and vilifying others." Yet there were probably
few of his own circle, the "sons of Ben," who would have had it
otherwise. Few indeed and fragmentary are the records of his
conversation in the Apollo room, but they are sufficient to prove
how ready a wit the poet possessed. Take, for example, the story of
that convivial gathering when the tavern keeper promised to forgive
Jonson the reckoning if he could tell what would please God, please
the devil, please the company, and please him. The poet at once
replied:

  "God is pleased, when we depart from sin,
  The devil's pleas'd, when we persist therein;
  Your company's pleas'd, when you draw good wine,
  And thou'd be pleas'd, if I would pay thee thine."

Some austere biographers have chided the memory of the poet for
spending so much of his time at the Devil. They forget, or are
ignorant of the fact that there is proof the time was well spent. In
a manuscript of Jonson which still exists there are many entries
which go to show that some of his finest work was inspired by the
merry gatherings in the Apollo room.

For many years after Jonson's death the Devil, and especially the
Apollo room, continued in high favour with the wits of London and
the men about town. Pepys knew the house, of course, and so did
Evelyn, and Swift dined there, and Steele, and many another genius
of the eighteenth century. It was in the Apollo room, too, that the
official court-day odes of the Poets Laureate were rehearsed, which
explains the point of the following lines:

  "When Laureates make odes, do you ask of what sort?
    Do you ask if they're good or are evil?
  You may judge--From the Devil they come to the Court,
    And go from the court to the Devil."

But the Apollo room is not without its idyllic memory. It was
created by the ever-delightful pen of Steele. Who can forget the
picture he draws of his sister Jenny and her lover Tranquillus and
their wedding morning? "The wedding," he writes, "was wholly under
my care. After the ceremony at church, I resolved to entertain the
company with a dinner suitable to the occasion, and pitched upon the
Apollo, at the Old Devil at Temple-bar, as a place sacred to mirth
tempered with discretion, where Ben Jonson and his sons used to make
their liberal meetings." The mirth of that assembly was threatened
by the indiscretion of that double-meaning speaker who is usually in
evidence at such gatherings to the confusion of the bride, but
happily his career was cut short by the plain sense of the soldier
and sailor, as may be read in the pages of the "Tatler."

Within easy hail of the Devil, on the site now occupied by St.
Clement's Chambers, Dane's Inn, there stood until 1853 a quaint old
hostelry known as the Angel Inn. It dated from the opening years of
the sixteenth century at least, for it is specifically named in a
letter of February 6th, 1503. In the middle of that century, too, it
figures in the progress of Bishop Harper to the martyr's stake, for
it was from this inn that prelate was taken to Gloucester to be
burnt. The Angel cannot hope to compete with the neighbouring
taverns of Fleet Street on the score of literary associations, but
the fact that seven or eight mail coaches started from its yard
every night will indicate how large a part it played in the life of
old London.



CHAPTER IV.

TAVERNS WEST OF TEMPLE BAR.


Even one short generation ago it would have been difficult to
recognize in the Strand of that period any resemblance to the
picture of that highway given by Stow at the dawn of the seventeenth
century. Much less would it have been possible to recall its aspect
in those earlier years when it was literally a strand, that is, a
low-lying road by the side of the Thames, stretching from Temple-bar
to Charing Cross. On the south side of the thoroughfare were the
mansions of bishops and nobles dotted at sparse intervals; on the
north was open country. To-day there are even fewer survivals of the
past than might have been seen thirty years ago. The wholesale
clearance of Holywell Street and the buildings to the north has
completely transformed the neighbourhood, while along the southern
line of the highway, changes almost equally revolutionary have been
carried out. As a consequence the inns and taverns of the Strand and
the streets leading therefrom have nearly all been swept away,
leaving a modern representative only here and there. Utterly
vanished, for example, leaving not a wreck behind, are the Spotted
Dog and the Craven Head, two houses more or less associated with the
sporting fraternity. The former, indeed, was a favourite haunt of
prize-fighters and their backers; the latter was notorious for its
host, Robert Hales by name, whose unusual stature--he stood seven
feet six inches--enabled him "to look down on all his customers,
although he was always civil to them." When the novelty of Hales'
physical proportions wore off, and trade declined, a new attraction
was provided in the form of a couple of buxom barmaids attired in
bloomer costume--importations, so the story goes, from the United
States.

A far more ancient and reputable house was the Crown and Anchor
which had entrances both on the Strand and Arundel Street. It is
referred to by Strype in his edition of Stow, published in 1720, as
"a large and curious house, with good rooms and other conveniences,"
and could boast of associations with Johnson, and Boswell, and
Reynolds. Perhaps there was something in the atmosphere of the place
which tended to emphasize Johnson's natural argumentativeness; at
any rate the Crown and Anchor was the scene of his dispute with
Reynolds as to the merits of wine in assisting conversation, and it
was here too that he had his famous bout with Dr. Percy. Boswell
describes him as being in "remarkable vigour of mind, and eager to
exert himself in conversation" on that occasion, and then
transcribes the following proof. "He was vehement against old Dr.
Mounsey, of Chelsea College, as 'a fellow who swore and talked
bawdy.' 'I have been often in his company,' said Dr. Percy, 'and
never heard him swear or talk bawdy.' Mr. Davies, who sat next to
Dr. Percy, having after this had some conversation with him, made a
discovery which in his zeal to pay court to Dr. Johnson, he eagerly
proclaimed aloud from the foot of the table: 'Oh, sir, I have found
out a very good reason why Dr. Percy never heard Mounsey swear or
talk bawdy, for he tells me he never saw him but at the Duke of
Northumberland's table.' 'And so, sir,' said Dr. Johnson loudly to
Dr. Percy, 'you would shield this man from the charge of swearing
and talking bawdy, because he did not do so at the Duke of
Northumberland's table. Sir, you might as well tell us that you had
seen him hold up his hand at the Old Bailey, and he neither swore
nor talked bawdy; or that you had seen him in the cart at Tyburn,
and he neither swore nor talked bawdy. And is it thus, sir, that you
presume to controvert what I have related?' Dr. Johnson's
animadversion was uttered in such a manner, that Dr. Percy seemed to
be displeased, and soon after left the company, of which Johnson did
not at that time take any notice." Nor did the following morning
bring any regret. "Well," said he when Boswell called, "we had good
talk." And Boswell's "Yes, sir; you tossed and gored several
persons," no doubt gave him much pleasure.

When the Crown and Anchor was rebuilt in 1790 the accommodation of
the tavern was materially increased by the erection of a large room
suitable for important public occasions and capable of seating
upwards of two thousand persons. That room was but eight years old
when it was the scene of a remarkable gathering. Those were stirring
times politically, largely owing to Fox's change of party and to his
adhesion to the cause of electoral reform. Hence the banquet which
took place at the Crown and Anchor on January 24th, 1798, in honour
of Fox's birthday. The Duke of Norfolk presided over a company
numbering fully two thousand persons, and the notable men present
included Sheridan and Horne Tooke. The record of the function tells
how "Captain Morris"--elder brother of the author of "Kitty
Crowder," and a song-writer of some fame in his day--"produced three
new songs on the occasion," and how "Mr. Hovell, Mr. Robinson, Mr.
Dignum, and several other gentlemen, in the different rooms sang
songs applicable to the _fête_." But the ducal chairman's
speech and the toasts which followed were the features of the
gathering. The former was commendably brief. "We are met," he said,
"in a moment of most serious difficulty, to celebrate the birth of a
man dear to the friends of freedom. I shall only recall to your
memory, that, not twenty years ago, the illustrious George
Washington had not more than two thousand men to rally round him
when his country was attacked. America is now free. This day full
two thousand men are assembled in this place. I leave you to make
the application. I propose to you the health of Charles Fox."

Then came the following daring toasts:

"The rights of the people."

"Constitutional redress of the wrongs of the people."

"A speedy and effectual reform in the representation of the people
in Parliament."

"The genuine principles of the British constitution."

"The people of Ireland; and may they be speedily restored to the
blessings of law and liberty."

And when the chairman's health had been drunk "with three times
three," that nobleman concluded his speech of thanks with the words:
"Before I sit down, give me leave to call on you to drink our
sovereign's health: 'The majesty of the people.'"

Such "seditious and daring tendencies," as the royalist chronicler
of the times described them, could not be overlooked in high
quarters, and the result of that gathering at the Crown and Anchor
was that the Duke of Norfolk was dismissed from the lord-lieutenancy
of the west riding of Yorkshire, and from his regiment in the
militia. It would have been a greater punishment could George III
have ordered a bath for the indiscreet orator. That particular
member of the Howard family had a horror of soap and water, and
appears to have been washed only when his servants found him
helpless in a drunken stupor. He it was also who complained to
Dudley North that he had vainly tried every remedy for rheumatism,
to receive the answer, "Pray, my lord, did you ever try a clean
shirt?"

In that district of the Strand known as the Adelphi--so called from
the pile of buildings erected here in 1768 by the brothers
Adam--there still exists an Adelphi Hotel which may well perpetuate
the building in which Gibbon found a temporary home in 1787. Ten
years earlier it was known as the Adelphi Tavern, and on the
thirteenth of January was the scene of an exciting episode. The
chief actors in this little drama, which nearly developed into a
tragedy, were a Captain Stony and a Mr. Bates, the latter being the
editor of _The Morning Post._ It appears that that journal had
recently published some paragraphs reflecting on the character of a
lady of rank, whose cause, as the sequel will show, Captain Stony
had good reason for making his own. Whether the offending editor had
been lured to the Adelphi ignorant of what was in store, or whether
the angry soldier met him there by accident, does not transpire; the
record implies, however, that the couple had a room to themselves in
which to settle accounts. The conflict opened with each discharging
his pistol at the other, but without effect, which does not speak
well for the marksmanship of either. Then they took to their swords,
with the result of the captain receiving wounds in the breast and
arm and Mr. Bates a thrust in the thigh, clearly demonstrating that
at this stage the man of the pen had the better of the man of the
sword. And he maintained the advantage. For a little later the
editor's weapon "bent and slanted against the captain's
breast-bone." On having his attention called to the fact the soldier
agreed that Mr. Bates should straighten his blade. At this critical
moment, however, while, indeed, the journalist had his sword under
his foot, the door of the room was broken open and the combatants
separated. "On the Sunday following," so the sequel reads, "Captain
Stony was married to the lady in whose behalf he had thus hazarded
his life."

Duels were so common in those days that Gibbon probably heard
nothing about the fight in the Adelphi when he took rooms there one
hot August day in 1787. Besides, he had more important matters to
occupy his thoughts. Only six weeks had passed since, between the
hours of eleven and twelve at night, he had, in the summer house of
his garden at Laussanne, written the last sentence of "The Decline
and Fall of the Roman Empire," and now he had arrived in London with
the final instalment of the manuscript on which he had bestowed the
labour of nearly twenty years. The heightened mood he experienced on
the completion of his memorable task may well have persisted to the
hour of his arrival in London. Some reflection of that feeling
perhaps underlay the jocular announcement of his letter from the
Adelphi to Lord Sheffield, wherein he wrote: "INTELLIGENCE
EXTRAORDINARY. This day (August the seventh) the celebrated E. G.
arrived with a numerous retinue (one servant). We hear that he has
brought over from Laussanne the remainder of his History for
immediate publication." Gibbon remained at the Adelphi for but a few
days, after which the story of the tavern lapses into the happiness
which is supposed to accrue from a lack of history.

Before retracing his steps to explore the many interesting
thoroughfares which branch off from the Strand, the pilgrim should
continue on that highway to its western extremity at Charing Cross.
The memory of several famous inns is associated 'with that locality,
including the Swan, the Golden Cross, Locket's, and the Rummer. The
first named dated from the fifteenth century. It survived
sufficiently long to be frequented by Ben Jonson and is the subject
of an anecdote told of that poet. Being called upon to make an
extemporary grace before King James, and having ended his last line
but one with the word "safe," Jonson finished with the words, "God
blesse me, and God blesse Raph." The inquisitive monarch naturally
wanted to know who Ralph was, and the poet replied that he was "the
drawer at the Swanne Taverne by Charing Crosse, who drew him good
Canarie." It is feasible to conclude that no small portion of the
hundred pounds with which the king rewarded Jonson was expended on
that "good Canarie." And perhaps Ralph was not forgotten.

By name, at any rate, the Golden Cross is still in existence, but
the present building dates no farther back than 1832. Of Locket's
ordinary, however, no present-day representative exists. When Leigh
Hunt wrote "The Town" he declared that it was no longer known where
it EXACTLY stood, but more recent investigators have discovered that
Drummond's banking house covers its site.

As was the case with Pontack's in the city, Locket's was
pre-eminently the resort of the "smart set." The prices charged are
proof enough of THAT, even though they were not always paid. The
case of Sir George Ethrege is one in point. That dissolute dramatist
and diplomat of the Restoration period was a frequent customer at
Locket's until his debt there became larger than his means to
discharge it. Before that catastrophe overtook him he was the
principal actor in a lively scene at the tavern. Something or other
caused an outbreak of fault-finding one evening, and the commotion
brought Mrs. Locket on the scene. "We are all so provoked," said Sir
George to the lady, "that even I could find in my heart to pull the
nosegay out of your bosom, and throw the flowers in your face."

Nor was that the only humorous threat against Mrs. Locket from the
same mouth. Probably because he was so good a customer and an
influential man about town, his indebtedness to the ordinary was
allowed to mount up until it reached a formidable figure. And then
Sir George stopped his visits. Mrs. Locket, however, sent some one
to dun him for the money and to threaten him with prosecution. But
that did not daunt the wit. He bade the messenger tell Mrs. Locket
that he would kiss her if she stirred in the matter. Sir George's
command was duly obeyed. It stirred Mrs. Locket to action. Calling
for her hood and scarf, and declaring that she would see if "there
was any fellow alive that had the impudence," she was about to set
out to put the matter to the test when her husband restrained her
with his "Pr'ythee, my dear, don't be so rash, you don't know what a
man may do in his passion."

It is not difficult to understand how the bill of Sir George Ethrege
reached such alarming proportions. "They shall compose you a dish,"
is a contemporary reference, "no bigger than a saucer, shall come to
fifty shillings." And again,

   "At Locket's, Brown's, and at Pontack's enquire
    What modish kickshaws the nice beaux desire,
    What fam'd ragouts, what new invented sallat,
    Has best pretensions to regale the palate."

Adam Locket, the founder of the house, lived until about 1688, and
was succeeded by his son Edward who was at the head of affairs until
1702. All through the reign of Queen Anne the ordinary flourished,
but after her death references to it become scanty and finally it
disappeared so completely that Leigh Hunt, as has been said, was in
ignorance as to its site.

And Hunt also owned to not knowing the site of another Charing Cross
tavern, the Rummer. As a matter of fact that, to modern ear,
curiously-named tavern was at first located almost next door to
Locket's, whence it was removed to the waterside in 1710 and burnt
down in 1750. The memory of the tavern would probably have sunk into
oblivion with its charred timbers, save for the accident of its
connection with Matthew Prior. For the Rummer was kept by an uncle
of the future poet, into whose keeping he is supposed to have fallen
on the death of his father. One cannot resist the suspicion that
this uncle, Samuel Prior by name, was of a shifty nature. He had
serious enemies, that is certain. The best proof of that fact is the
announcement he inserted in the _London Gazette_ offering a
reward of ten guineas for the discovery of the persons who spread
the report that he was in league with the clippers of aoin.
Then there is the nephew's portrait, which implies that his
tavern-keeping relative was an adept in the tricks of his trade.

  "My uncle, rest his soul! when living,
  Might have contrived me ways of thriving;
  Taught me with cider to replenish
  My vats, or ebbing tide of Rhenish;
  So, when for hock I drew pricked white-wine,'
  Swear't had the flavour, and was right-wine."

Destiny, however, had decided the nephew's fate otherwise. The Earl
of Dorset, so the story goes, was at the Rummer with a party one day
when a dispute arose over a passage in Horace. Young Prior, then a
scholar of Westminster, was called in to decide the point, and so
admirably did he do it that the earl immediately undertook to pay
his expenses at Cambridge. He, in fact, "spoiled the youth to make a
poet." Annotators of Hogarth have pointed out that the scene of his
"Night" picture was laid in that district of Charing Cross where
Locket's and the Rummer were situated.

Harking back now to Drury Lane the explorer finds himself in the
midst of the memories of many daring adventures. The Jacobites who
aimed at the dethroning of William III were responsible for one of
those episodes. During the absence of that monarch they tried to
raise a riot in London on the birthday of the Prince of Wales.
Macaulay tells the rest of the story. "They met at a tavern in Drury
Lane, and, when hot with wine, sallied forth sword in hand, headed
by Porter and Goodman, beat kettledrums, unfurled banners, and began
to light bonfires. But the watch, supported by the populace, was too
strong for the revellers. They were put to rout: the tavern where
they had feasted was sacked by the mob: the ringleaders were
apprehended, tried, fined, and imprisoned, but regained their
liberty in time to bear a part in a far more criminal design."

Noisy brawls and dark deeds became common in Drury Lane. It was the
haunt of such quarrelsome persons as that Captain Fantom, who,
coming out of the Horseshoe Tavern late one night, was offended by
the loud jingling spurs of a lieutenant he met, and forthwith
challenged him to a duel and killed him. And the tavern-keepers of
Drury Lane were not always model citizens. There was that Jack
Grimes, for example, whose death in Holland in 1769 recalled the
circumstance that he was known as "Lawyer Grimes," and formerly kept
the Nag's Head Tavern in Princes' Street, Drury Lane, "and was
transported several years ago for fourteen years, for receiving
fish, knowing them to be stolen." There is, however, one relieving
touch in the tavern history of this thoroughfare. One of its houses
of public entertainment was the meeting-place of a club of virtuosi,
for whose club-room Louis Laguerre, the French painter who settled
in London in 1683, designed and executed a Bacchanalian procession.
This was the artist who was coupled with Verrio in Pope's
depreciatory line,

"Where sprawl the Saints of Verrio and Laguerre."

Poets and prose writers alike were wont to agree in giving Catherine
Street an unenviable reputation. Gay is specially outspoken in his
description of that thoroughfare and the class by which it used to
be haunted. It was in this street, too, that Jessop's once
flourished, "the most disreputable night house of London." That nest
of iniquity, however, has long been cleared away, and there are no
means of identifying that tavern of which Boswell speaks. He
describes it, on the authority of Dr. Johnson, as a "pretty good
tavern, where very good company met in an evening, and each man
called for his own half-pint of wine, or gill if he pleased; they
were frugal men, and nobody paid but for what he himself drank. The
house furnished no supper; but a woman attended with mutton pies,
which anybody might purchase."

If the testimony of Pope is to be trusted, the cuisine of the
Bedford Head, which was described in 1736 as "a noted tavern for
eating, drinking, and gaming, in Southampton Street, Covent Garden,"
was decidedly out of the ordinary. In his imitation of the second
satire of Horace he makes Oldfield, the notorious glutton who
exhausted a fortune of fifteen hundred pounds a year in the "simple
luxury of good eating," declare,

  "Let me extol a Cat, on oysters fed,
    I'll have a party at the Bedford-head."

And in another poem he asks,

  "When sharp with hunger, scorn you to be fed,
  Except on pea-chicks at the Bedford-head?"

There is an earlier reference to this house than the one cited
above, for an advertisement of June, 1716, alludes to it as "the
Duke of Bedford's Head Tavern in Southampton Street, Covent Garden."
Perhaps the most notable event in its history was it being the scene
of an abortive attempt to repeat in 1741 that glorification of
Admiral Vernon which was a great success in 1740. That seaman, it
will be remembered, had in 1739 kept his promise to capture Porto
Bello with a squadron of but six ships. That the capture was
effected with the loss of but seven men made the admiral a popular
hero, and in the following year his birthday was celebrated in
London with great acclaim. But in 1740 his attempt to seize
Cartagena ended in complete failure, and another enterprise against
Santiago came to a similar result. All this, however, did not daunt
his personal friends, who wished to engineer another demonstration
in Vernon's honour. Horace Walpole tells how the attempt failed. "I
believe I told you," he wrote to one of his friends, "that Vernon's
birthday passed quietly, but it was not designed to be pacific; for
at twelve at night, eight gentlemen dressed like sailors, and
masked, went round Covent Garden with a drum beating for a volunteer
mob; but it did not take; and they retired to a great supper that
was prepared for them at the Bedford Head, and ordered by Whitehead,
the author of 'Manners.'" At a later date it was the meeting-place
of a club to which John Wilkes belonged.

In all London there is probably no thoroughfare of equal brief
length which can boast so many deeply interesting associations as
Maiden Lane, which stretches between Southampton and Bedford Streets
in the vicinity of Covent Garden. Andrew Marvell had lodgings here
in 1677; Voltaire made it his headquarters on his visit to London in
1727; it was the scene of the birth of Joseph Mallord William Turner
in 1775; and while one tavern was the rendezvous of the conspirators
against the life of William III, another was the favourite haunt of
Richard Porson, than whom there is hardly a more illustrious name in
the annals of English classical scholarship.

While the name of the conspirators' tavern is not mentioned by
Macaulay, that frequented by Porson had wide fame under the sign of
the Cider Cellars. It had been better for the great scholar's health
had nothing but cider been sold therein. But that would hardly have
suited his tastes. It is a kindly judgment which asserts that he
would have achieved far more than he actually did "if the sobriety
of his life had been equal to the honesty and truthfulness of his
character." All accounts agree that the charms of his society in
such gatherings as those at the Cider Cellars were irresistible.
"Nothing," was the testimony of one friend, "could be more
gratifying than a tête-à-tête with him; his recitations from
Shakespeare, and his ingenious etymologies and dissertations on the
roots of the English language were a high treat." And another
declares that nothing "came amiss to his memory; he would set a
child right in his twopenny fable-book, repeat the whole of the
moral tale of the Dean of Badajos, or a page of Athenæus on cups, or
Eustathius on Homer." One anecdote tells of his repeating the "Rape
of the Lock," making observations as he went on, and noting the
various readings. And an intimate friend records the following
incident connected with the tavern he held most in regard. "I have
heard Professor Porson at the Cider Cellars in Maiden Lane recite
from memory to delighted listeners the whole of Anstey's 'Pleaders'
Guide.' He concluded by relating that when buying a copy of it and
complaining that the price was very high, the bookseller said, 'Yes,
sir, but you know Law books are always very dear.'"

Somewhat earlier than Porson's day another convivial soul haunted
this neighbourhood. This was George Alexander Stevens, the strolling
player who eventually attained a place in the company of Covent
Garden theatre. He was an indifferent actor but an excellent
lecturer. One of his discourses, a lecture on Heads, was immensely
popular in England, and not less so in Boston and Philadelphia.
Prior to the affluence which he won by his lecture tours he had
frequently to do "penance in jail for the debts of the tavern." He
was, as Campbell says, a leading member of all the great
Bacchanalian clubs of his day, and had no mean gift in writing songs
in praise of hard drinking. One of these deserves a better fate than
the oblivion into which it has fallen, and may be cited here as
eminently descriptive of the scenes enacted nightly in such a resort
as the Cider Cellars.

   "Contented I am, and contented I'll be,
     For what can this world more afford,
   Than a lass that will sociably sit on my knee,
     And a cellar as sociably stored.
                                My brave boys.

   "My vault door is open, descend and improve,
     That cask,--ay, that will we try.
   'Tis as rich to the taste as the lips of your love,
     And as bright as her cheeks to the eye:
                                My brave boys.

   "In a piece of slit hoop, see my candle is stuck,
     'Twill light us each bottle to hand;
   The foot of my glass for the purpose I broke,
     As I hate that a bumper should stand,
                                My brave boys.

   "Astride on a butt, as a butt should be strod,
     I gallop the brusher along;
   Like a grape-blessing Bacchus, the good fellow's god,
     And a sentiment give, or a song,
                                My brave boys.

  "We are dry where we sit, though the coying drops seem
    With pearls the moist walls to emboss;
  From the arch mouldy cobwebs in gothic taste stream,
    Like stucco-work cut out of moss:
                                My brave boys.

  "When the lamp is brimful, how the taper flame shines,
    Which, when moisture is wanting, decays;
  Replenish the lamp of my life with rich wines,
    Or else there's an end of my blaze,
                                My brave boys.

  "Sound those pipes, they're in tune, and those bins are well fill'd;
    View that heap of old Hock in your rear;
  'Yon bottles are Burgundy! mark how they're pil'd,
    Like artillery, tier over tier,
                                My brave boys.

  "My cellar's my camp, and my soldiers my flasks,
    All gloriously rang'd in review;
  When I cast my eyes round, I consider my casks
    As kingdoms I've yet to subdue,
                                My brave boys.

  "Like Macedon's Madman, my glass I'll enjoy,
    Defying hyp, gravel, or gout;
  He cried when he had no more worlds to destroy,
    I'll weep when my liquor is out,
                                My brave boys.

  "On their stumps some have fought, and as stoutly will I,
     When reeling, I roll on the floor;
  Then my legs must be lost, so I'll drink as I lie,
     And dare the best Buck to do more,
                                My brave boys.

  "Tis my will when I die, not a tear shall be shed,
     No _Hic Jacet_ be cut on my stone;
  But pour on my coffin a bottle of red,
     And say that his drinking is done,
                                My brave boys."

Although to-day celebrated chiefly for being the central
clearing-house for the flower, fruit and vegetable supply of London,
Covent Garden as a whole can vie with any other district of the
British capital in wealth of interesting association. The market
itself dates from the middle of the seventeenth century, but the
area was constituted a parish a few years earlier. By that time,
however, it could boast many town residences of the nobility, and
several inns. One of these has its name preserved only in the
records of the House of Lords, in a letter from a John Button at
Amsterdam, who wrote to his brother "with Mr. Wm. Wayte, at the sign
of the Horseshoe, Covent Garden." But the taverns of greater note,
such as Chatelaine's, the Fleece, the Rose, the Hummums, and
Macklin's ill-fated ordinary, belong to more recent times.

Which of these houses was first established it would be hard to say.
There can be no question, however, that Chatelaine's ordinary was in
great repute during the reign of Charles II, and that it continued
in high favour throughout the latter years of the seventeenth
century. Pepys alludes to it in 1667 and again in his entries of the
following year. On the second occasion his visit interfered with
toothsome purchases he was making for a dinner at his own house. "To
the fishmonger's, and bought a couple of lobsters, and over to the
'sparagus garden, thinking to have met Mr. Pierce, and his wife, and
Knipp; but met their servant coming to bring me to Chatelin's, the
French house, in Covent Garden, and there with musick and good
company, Manuel and his wife, and one Swaddle, a clerk of Lord
Arlington's, who dances, and speaks French well, but got drunk, and
was then troublesome, and here mighty merry till ten at night. This
night the Duke of Monmouth and a great many blades were at
Chatelin's, and I left them there, with a hackney-coach attending
him." This was a different experience than fell to the lot of Pepys
on the previous occasion, for he tells how the dinner cost the party
eight shillings and sixpence apiece, and it was "a base dinner,
which did not please us at all." The ordinary was evidently in the
same class as Pontack's and Locket's, as may be inferred from it
being classed with the latter in one contemporary reference:

   "Next these we welcome such as firstly dine
    At Locket's, at Gifford's, or with Shataline."

Allusions in the plays of the period also show it was the resort of
those who thought quite as much of spending money as of eating. Thus
Shadwell makes one of his characters say of another who had risen in
life that he was "one that the other day could eat but one meal a
day, and that at a threepenny ordinary, now struts in state and
talks of nothing but Shattelin's and Lefrond's." And another
dramatist throws some light on the character of its frequenters by
the remark, "Come, prettie, let's go dine at Chateline's, and there
I'll tell you my whole business."

Far less fashionable was the Fleece tavern, where Pepys found
pleasant entertainment on several occasions. His earliest reference
to the house is in his account of meeting two gentlemen who told him
how a Scottish knight was "killed basely the other day at the
Fleece," but that tale did not prevent him from visiting the tavern
himself. Along with a "Captain Cuttle" and two others he went
thither to drink, and "there we spent till four o'clock, telling
stories of Algiers, and the manner of life of slaves there." And
then he tells how one night he dropped in at the Opera for the last
act "and there found Mr. Sanchy and Mrs. Mary Archer, sister to the
fair Betty, whom I did admire at Cambridge, and thence took them to
the Fleece in Covent Garden; but Mr. Sanchy could not by any
argument get his lady to trust herself with him into the taverne,
which he was much troubled at."

Equally lively reputations were enjoyed by the Rose and the Hummums.
The former was conveniently situated for first-nighters at the
King's Playhouse, as Pepys found on a May midday in 1668. Anxious to
see the first performance of Sir Charles Sedley's new play, which
had been long awaited with great expectation, he got to the theatre
at noon, only to find the doors not yet open. Gaining admission
shortly after he seems to have been content to sit for a while and
watch the gathering audience. But eventually the pangs of hunger
mastered him, and so, getting a boy to keep his place, he slipped
out to "the Rose Tavern, and there got half a breast of mutton off
the spit, and dined all alone." Twenty years later the vicinity of
the Rose gained an unenviable reputation. "A man could not go from
the Rose Tavern to the Piazza once, but he must venture his life
twice." And it maintained that reputation well into the next
century, growing ever more and more in favour with the gamblers and
rufflers of the times. It was at the bar of this house that
Hildebrand Horden, an actor of talent and one who promised to win a
great name, was killed in a brawl. Colley Cibber tells that he was
exceedingly handsome, and that before he was buried "it was
observable that two or three days together several of the fair sex,
well dressed, came in masks, and some in their own coaches, to visit
the theatrical hero in his shroud."

To the student of etymology the name of the Hummums tells its own
tale. The word is a near approach to the Arabic "Hammam," meaning a
hot bath, and hence implies an establishment for bathing in the
Oriental manner. The tavern in Covent Garden bearing that name was
one of the first bathing establishments founded in England, and the
fact that it introduced a method of ablution which had its origin in
a country of slavery prompted Leigh Hunt to reflect that Englishmen
need not have wondered how Eastern nations could endure their
servitude. "This is one of the secrets by which they endure it. A
free man in a dirty skin is not in so fit a state to endure
existence as a slave with a clean one; because nature insists that a
due attention to the clay which our souls inhabit shall be the first
requisite to the comfort of the inhabitant. Let us not get rid of
our freedom; let us teach it rather to those that want it; but let
such of us as have them, by all means get rid of our dirty skins.
There is now a moral and intellectual commerce among mankind, as
well as an interchange of inferior goods; we should send freedom to
Turkey as well as clocks and watches, and import not only figs, but
a fine state of pores."

John Wolcot, the satirist to whom, as Peter Pindar, nothing was
sacred, and who surely had more accomplishments to fall back upon
than ever poet had before, having been in turns doctor, clergyman,
politician and painter, found a congenial resort at the Hummums when
he established himself in London. He preserved the memory of the
house in verse, but it is an open question whether his reflections
on the horrible sounds of which he complains should be referred to
Covent Garden or to the city he had abandoned.

     "In Covent Garden at the Hummums, now
     I sit, but after many a curse and vow,
        Never to see the madding City more;
     Where barrows truckling o'er the pavement roll:
     And, what is sorrow to a tuneful soul,
         Where asses, asses greeting, love songs roar:
     Which asses, that the Garden square adorn,
     Must lark-like be the heralds of my morn."

Those love songs have not ceased in Covent Garden; the amorous duets
are to be heard to this day from the throats of countless
costermongers' donkeys. But they disturb Peter Pindar's tuneful soul
no more as he lies in his grave near by.

It would be a grave injustice to the Hummums to overlook the fact
that it possessed a ghost-story of its own. Its subject was Dr.
Johnson's cousin, the Parson Ford "in whom both talents and good
dispositions were disgraced by licentiousness," and the story was
told to Boswell by Johnson himself. "A waiter at the Hummums,"
Johnson said, "in which house Ford died, had been absent for some
time, and returned, not knowing that Ford was dead. Going down to
the cellar, according to the story, he met him; going down again, he
met him a second time. When he came up he asked some of the people
of the house what Ford could be doing there. They told him Ford was
dead. The waiter took a fever, in which he lay for some time. When
he recovered, he said he had a message to deliver to some women from
Ford; but he was not to tell what or to whom. He walked out; he was
followed; but somewhere about St. Paul's they lost him. He came back
and said he had delivered it, and the women exclaimed, 'Then we are
all undone!' Dr. Pellet, who was not a credulous man, inquired into
the truth of this story, and he said the evidence was irresistible."
A tantalizing ghost-story this, and one that begets regret that the
Society for Psychical Research did not enter on its labours a
century or so earlier.

One other tavern, or ordinary, of unusual interest spent its brief
career of less than a year under the Piazza of Covent Garden. It was
the experiment of Charles Macklin, an eighteenth century actor of
undoubted talent and just as undoubted conceit and eccentricity. He
had reached rather more than the midway of his long life--he was
certainly ninety-seven when he died and may have been a
hundred--when he resolved to leave the stage and carry out an idea
over which he had long ruminated. 'This was nothing less than the
establishment of what he grandiloquently called the British
Institution.

So much in earnest was Macklin that he accepted a farewell benefit
at Drury Lane theatre, at which he recited a good-bye prologue
commending his daughter to the favour of playgoers. In the greenroom
that night, when regrets were expressed at the loss of so admirable
an actor, Foote remarked, "You need not fear; he will first break in
business, and then break his word." And Foote did not a little to
make his prophecy come true. For a part of Macklin's scheme, whereby
he was to instruct the public and fill his own pockets at the same
time, was a lecture-room on the "plan of the ancient Greek, Roman,
and Modern French and Italian Societies of liberal investigation."
Macklin appointed himself the instructor in chief, and there was
hardly a subject under the sun upon which he was not prepared to
enlighten the British public at the moderate price of "one shilling
each person." The first two or three lectures were a success. Then
the novelty wore off and opposition began. Foote set up a rival
oratory and devoted himself to the simple task of burlesquing that
of Macklin. He would impersonate Macklin in his armchair, examining
a pupil in classics after this fashion.

"Well, sir, did you ever hear of Aristophanes?"

"Yes, sir; a Greek Dramatist, who wrote--"

"Ay; but I have got twenty comedies in these drawers, worth his
_CLOUDS_ and stuff. Do you know anything of Cicero?"

"A celebrated Orator of Rome, who in the polished and persuasive is
considered a master in his art."

"Yes, yes; but I'll be bound he couldn't teach Elocution."

Of course all this raillery was more attractive to the public than
Macklin's serious and pedagogic dissertations. The result may be
imagined. Foote's oratory was crowded; Macklin's empty.

But that was not the worst. Another feature of the British
Institution was the establishment of the ordinary aforesaid. The
prospectus of the Institution bore this notice: "There is a public
ordinary every day at four o'clock, price three shillings. Each
person to drink port, claret, or whatever liquor he shall choose." A
disastrous precursor of the free lunch this would seem. And so it
proved. But not immediately. Attracted by the novelty of having a
famous actor for host, the ordinary went swimmingly for a time.
Macklin presided in person. As soon as the door of the room was
shut--a bell rang for five minutes, a further ten minutes' grace was
given, and then no more were admitted--the late actor bore in the
first dish and then took his place at the elaborate sideboard to
superintend further operations. Dinner over, and the bottles and
glasses placed on the table, "Macklin, quitting his former
situation, walked gravely up to the front of the table and hoped
'that all things were found agreeable;' after which he passed the
bell-rope round the chair of the person who happened to sit at the
head of the table, and, making a low bow at the door, retired." He
retired to read over the notes of the lecture he had prepared for
these same guests, and during his absence for the rest of the
evening his waiters and cooks seized the opportunity to reap their
harvest. The sequel of the tale was soon told in the bankruptcy
court, and Macklin went back to the stage, as Foote said he would.
And now he lies peacefully enough in his grave in the Covent Garden
St. Paul's, within stone's throw of the scene where he tried to be a
tavern-keeper and failed.



CHAPTER V.

INNS AND TAVERNS FURTHER AFIELD.


Outside the more or less clearly defined limits of the city, the
neighbourhood of St. Paul's, Fleet Street, the Strand and Covent
Garden, the explorer of the inns and taverns of old London may
encircle the metropolis from any given point and find something of
interest everywhere. Such a point of departure may be made, for
example, in the parish of Lambeth, where, directly opposite the
Somerset House of to-day, once stood the Feathers Tavern connected
with Cuper's Gardens. The career of that resort was materially
interfered with by the passing of an act in 1752 for the regulation
of places of entertainment "and punishing persons keeping disorderly
houses." The act stipulated that every place kept for public
dancing, music, or other entertainment, within twenty miles of the
city, should be under a license.

[Illustration: FEATHERS TAVERN. ]


Evidently it was found impossible to secure a license for Cuper's
Gardens, for in a public print of May 22nd, 1754, the Widow Evans
advertises that "having been deny'd her former Liberty of opening
her Gardens as usual, through the malicious representations of
ill-meaning persons, she therefore begs to acquaint the Public that
she hath open'd them as a Tavern till further notice. Coffee and Tea
at any hour of the day." There is no record of the Widow Evans ever
recovering her former "Liberty," and hence the necessity of
continuing the place as a tavern merely, with its seductive offer of
"coffee and tea at any hour." Even without a license, however, a
concert was announced for the night of August 30th, 1759, the law
being evaded by the statement that the vocal and instrumental
programme was to be given by "a select number of gentlemen for their
own private diversion." As there is no record of any other
entertainment having been given at the E'eathers, it is probable
that this attempt to dodge the law met with condign punishment, and
resulted in the closing of the place for good. After it had stood
unoccupied for some time Dr. Johnson passed it in the company of
Beauclerk, Langton, and Lady Sydney Beauclerk, and made a sportive
suggestion that he and Beauclerk and Langton should take it. "We
amused ourselves," he said, "with scheming how we should all do our
parts. Lady Sydney grew angry and said, 'An old man should not put
such things in young people's heads.' She had no notion of a joke,
sir; had come late into life, and had a mighty unpliable
understanding." Though Johnson did not carry his joke into effect,
the Feathers has not lacked for perpetuation, as is shown by the
modern public-house of that name in the vicinity of Waterloo Bridge.

From Lambeth to Westminster is an easy journey, but unhappily there
are no survivals of the numerous inns which figure in records of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. One of those hostelries makes
its appearance in the expense sheet of a Roger Keate who went to
London in 1575 on the business of his town of Weymouth. He notes
that on Friday the tenth day of February, "in the companie of
certain courtiars, and of Mr. Robert Gregorie, at Westminster, at
the Sarrazin's Head" he spent the sum of five shillings. This must
have been a particularly festive occasion, for a subsequent dinner
cost Mr. Keate but twenty pence, and "sundrie drinkinges" another
day left him the poorer by but two shillings and twopence.

Another document, this time of date 1641, perpetuates the memory of
a second Westminster inn in a lively manner. This is a petition of a
constable of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields to the House of Commons, and
concerned the misdoings of certain apprentices at the time of the
riot caused by Colonel Lunsford's assault on the citizens of
Westminster. The petitioner, Peter Scott by name, stated that he
tried to appease the 'prentices by promising to release their
fellows detained as prisoners in the Mermaid tavern. When he and
another constable approached the door of the house, his colleague
was thrust in the leg with a sword from within, which so enraged the
'prentices--though why is not explained--that they broke into the
tavern, and the keeper had since prosecuted the harmless Peter Scott
for causing a riot.

Numerous as were the taverns of Westminster, it is probable that the
greater proportion of them were to be found in one thoroughfare, to
wit, King Street. It was the residence and place of business of one
particularly aggressive brewer in the closing quarter of the
seventeenth century. This vendor of ale, John England by name, had
the distinction of being the King's brewer, and he appears to have
thought that that position gave him more rights than were possessed
by ordinary mortals. So when an order was made prohibiting the
passing of drays through King Street during certain hours of the
day, he told the constables that he, the King's brewer, cared
nothing for the order of the House of Lords. The example proved
infectious. Other brewers' draymen became obstreperous too, one
calling the beadle that stopped him "a rogue" and another vowing
that if he knew the beadle "he would have a touch with him at
quarterstaff." But all these fiery spirits of King Street were
brought to their senses, and are found expressing sorrow for their
offence and praying for their discharge.

According to the legend started by Ben Jonson, this same King Street
was the scene of poet Spenser's death of starvation. "He died," so
Jonson said, "for want of bread in King Street; he refused twenty
pieces sent him by my Lord Essex, and said he was sure he had no
time to spend them." This myth is continually cropping up, but no
evidence has been adduced in its support. The fact that he died in a
tavern in King Street tells against the story. That thoroughfare,
then the only highway between the Royal Palace of Whitehall and the
Parliament House, was a street of considerable importance, and
Spenser's presence there is explained by Stow's remark that "for the
accommodation of such as come to town in the terms, here are some
good inns for their reception, and not a few taverns for
entertainment, as is not unusual in places of great confluence."
There are ample proofs, too, that King Street was the usual resort
of those who were messengers to the Court, such as Spenser was at
the time of his death.

It is strange, however, that not many of the names of these taverns
have survived. Yet there are two, the Leg and the Bell, to which
there are allusions in seventeenth century records. There is one
reference in that "Parliamentary Diary" supposed to have been
written by Thomas Burton, the book which Carlyle characterized as
being filled "with mere dim inanity and moaning wind." This
chronicler, under date December 18th, 1656, tells how he dined with
the clothworkers at the Leg, and how "after dinner I was awhile at
the Leg with Major-General Howard and Mr. Briscoe." Being so near
Whitehall in one direction and the Parliament House in the other, it
is not surprising to learn that the nimble Pepys was a frequent
visitor at the tavern. After a morning at Whitehall "with my lord"
in June, 1660, he dined there with a couple of friends. Nearly a
year later business took him to the House of Lords, but as he failed
to achieve the purpose he had in view he sought consolation at the
Leg, where he "dined very merry." A more auspicious occasion took
place three years after. "To the Exchequer, and there got my tallys
for ~17,500, the first payment I ever had out of the Exchequer, and
at the Legg spent 14s. upon my old acquaintance, some of them the
clerks, and away home with my tallys in a coach, fearful every
moment of having one of them fall out, or snatched from me." He was
equally glowing with satisfaction when he visited the tavern again
in 1667. All sorts of compliments had been paid him that day, and he
had been congratulated even by the King and the Duke of York. "I
spent the morning thus walking in the Hall, being complimented by
everybody with admiration: and at noon stepped into the Legg with
Sir William Warren."

'Then there was that other house in King Street, the Bell, upon
which the diarist bestowed some of his patronage. On his first visit
he was caught in a neat little trap. "Met with Purser Washington,
with whom and a lady, a friend of his, I dined at the Bell Tavern in
King Street, but the rogue had no more manners than to invite me,
and to let me pay my club." Which was too bad of the Purser, when
Pepys' head and heart were full of "infinite business." The next
call, however, was more satisfactory and less expensive. He merely
dropped in to see "the seven Flanders mares that my Lord has bought
lately." But the Bell had a history both before and after Pepys'
time. It is referred to so far back as the middle of the fifteenth
century, and it was in high favour as the headquarters of the
October Club in the reign of Queen Anne.

During the eighteenth century many fashionable resorts were located
in Pall Mall and neighbouring streets. In Pall Mall itself was the
famous Star and Garter, and close by was St. Alban's Tavern,
celebrated for its political gatherings and public dinners. Horace
Walpole has several allusions to the house and tells an anecdote
which illustrates the wastefulness of young men about town. A number
of these budding aristocrats were dining at St. Alban's Tavern and
found the noise of the coaches outside jar upon their sensitive
nerves. So they promptly ordered the street to be littered with
straw, and probably cared little that the freak cost them fifty
shillings each.

No doubt the charges at the St. Allan's were in keeping with the
exclusive character of the house, and it might be inferred that the
same would have held good at the Star and Garter. But that was not
the case. Many testimonies to the moderate charges of that house
have been cited. Perhaps the most conclusive evidence on this point
is furnished by Swift, who was always a bit of a haggler as to the
prices he paid at taverns. It was 'at his suggestion that the little
club to which he belonged discarded the tavern they had been used to
meeting in and went to the Star and Garter for their dinner. "The
other dog," Swift wrote in one of his little letters to Stella, "was
so extravagant in his bills that for four dishes, and four, first
and second course, without wine or dessert, he charged twenty-one
pounds, six shillings and eightpence." That the bill at the Star and
Garter was more reasonable is a safe inference from the absence of
any complaint on the part of Swift.

Several clubs were wont to meet under this roof. Among these was the
Nottinghamshire Club, an association of gentlemen who had estates in
that county and were in the habit of dining together when in town.
One such gathering, however, had a tragic termination. It took place
on January 26th, 1765, and among those present were William
Chaworth, John Hewett, Lord Byron, a great-uncle of the poet, and
seven others. Perfect harmony prevailed until about seven o'clock,
when the wine was brought in and conversation became general. At
this juncture one member of the company started a conversation about
the best method of preserving game, and the subject was at once
taken up by Mr. Chaworth and Lord Byron, who seem to have held
entirely opposite views. The former was in favour of severity
against all poachers, the latter declaring that the best way to have
most game was to take no care of it all. Nettled by this opposition,
Mr. Chaworth ejaculated that he had more game on five acres than
Lord Byron had on all his manors. Retorts were bandied to and fro,
until finally Mr. Chaworth clenched matters by words which were
tantamount to a challenge to a duel.

Nothing more was said, however, and the company was separating when
Mr. Chaworth and Lord Byron happened to meet on a landing. What
transpired at first then is not known, but evidently the quarrel was
resumed in some form or other, for the two joined in calling a
waiter and asking to be shown into an empty room. The waiter obeyed,
opening the door and placing a small tallow candle on the table
before he retired. The next news from that room was the ringing of a
bell, and when it was answered it was found that Mr. Chaworth was
mortally wounded. What had happened was explained by Mr. Chaworth,
who said that he could not live many hours; that he forgave Lord
Byron, and hoped the world would; that the affair had passed in the
dark, only a small tallow candle burning in the room; that Lord
Byron asked him if he meant the conversation on the game to Sir
Charles Sedley or to him? To which he replied, if you have anything
to say, we had better shut the door; that while he was doing this,
Lord Byron bid him draw, and, in turning, he saw his lordship's
sword half drawn, on which he whipped out his own, and made the
first pass; the sword being through his lordship's waistcoat, he
thought he had killed him, and asking whether he was not mortally
wounded, Lord Byron, while he was speaking, shortened his sword, and
stabbed him in the abdomen. Mr. Chaworth survived but a few hours.
There was a trial, of course, but it ended in Lord Byron's acquittal
on the ground that he had been guilty of but manslaughter. And the
poet, the famous grand-nephew, rounds off this story of the Star and
Garter by declaring that his relative, so far from feeling any
remorse for the death of Mr. Chaworth, always kept the sword he had
used with such fatal effect and had it hanging in his bedroom when
he died.

Although the neighbouring Suffolk Street is a most decorous
thoroughfare at the present time, and entirely innocent of taverns,
it was furnished with two, the Cock and The Golden Eagle, in the
latter portion of the seventeenth century. At the former Evelyn
dined on one occasion with the councillors of the Board of Trade; at
the latter, on January 30th, 1735, occurred the riot connected with
the mythical Calf's Head Club. How the riot arose is something of a
mystery. It seems, however, that a mob was gathered outside the
tavern by the spreading of the report that some young nobles were
dining within on a calf's head in ridicule of the execution of
Charles I, and a lurid account was afterwards circulated as to how a
bleeding calf's head, wrapped in a napkin, was thrown out of the
window, while the merrymakers within drank all kinds of confusion to
the Stuart race. According to the narrative of one who was in the
tavern, the calf's head business was wholly imaginary. Nor was the
date of the dinner a matter of prearrangement. It seems that the
start of the commotion was occasioned by some of the company inside
observing that some boys outside had made a bonfire, which, in their
hilarity, they were anxious to emulate. So a waiter was commissioned
to make a rival conflagration, and then the row began. It grew to
such proportions that the services of a justice and a strong body of
guards were required ere peace 'could be restored to Suffolk Street.

Rare indeed is it to find a tavern in this district which can claim
a clean record in the matter of brawls, and duels, and sudden
deaths. Each of the two most famous houses of the Haymarket, that
is, Long's and the Blue Posts Tavern, had its fatality. It was at
the former ordinary, which must not be confused with another of the
same name in Covent Garden, that Philip Herbert, the seventh Earl of
Pembroke, committed one of those murderous assaults for which he was
distinguished. He killed a man in a duel in 1677, and in the first
month of the following year was committed to the Tower "for
blasphemous words." That imprisonment, however, was of brief
duration, for in February a man petitioned the House of Lords for
protection from the earl's violence. And the day before, in a
drunken scuffle at Long's he had killed a man named Nathaniel Cony.
This did not end his barbarous conduct, for two years later he
murdered an officer of the watch, when returning from a drinking
bout at Turnham Green. Mercifully for the peace of the community
this blood-thirsty peer died at the age of thirty. At the Blue Posts
Tavern the disputants were a Mr. Moon and a Mr. Hunt, who began
their quarrel in the house, "and as they came out at the door they
drew their swords, and the latter was run through and immediately
died." There was another Blue Posts in Spring Gardens close by,
which became notorious from being the resort of the Jacobites. This,
in fact, was the house in which Robert Charnock and his fellow
conspirators were at breakfast when news reached them which proved
that their plot had been discovered.

A more refined atmosphere hangs around the memory of the Thatched
House, that St. James's Street tavern which started on its
prosperous career in 1711 and continued it until 1865, at which date
the building was taken down to make room for the Conservative
Clubhouse. Its title would have led a stranger to expect a modest
establishment, but that seems to have been bestowed on the principle
which still prevails when a mansion is designated a cottage. It
reminds one of Coleridge and his

   "the Devil did grin, for his darling sin
  Is the pride that apes humility."

Swift was conscious of the incongruity of the name, as witness the
lines,

  "The Deanery House may well be match'd,
  Under correction, with the Thatch'd."

As a matter of fact the tavern was of the highest class and greatly
in repute with the leaders of society and fashion. And its
frequenters were not a little proud of being known among its
patrons. Hence the delightful retort of the Lord Chancellor Thurlow
recorded by Lord Campbell. "In the debates on the Regency, a prim
peer, remarkable for his finical delicacy and formal adherence to
etiquette, having cited pompously certain resolutions which he said
had been passed by a party of noblemen and gentlemen of great
distinction at the Thatched House Tavern, the Lord Chancellor
Thurlow, in adverting to these said, 'As to what the noble lord in
the red ribbon told us he had heard at the ale-house.'"

Town residences of a duke and several earls are now the most
conspicuous buildings in the Mayfair Stanhope Street, but in the
closing years of the eighteenth century there was a tavern here of
the name of Pitt's Head. On a June night in 1792 this house was the
scene of a gathering which had notable results. The host conceived
the idea of inviting a number of the servants of the neighbourhood
to a festivity in honour of the King's birthday, one feature of
which was to be a dance. The company duly assembled to the number of
forty, but some busybody carried news of the gathering to a
magistrate who, with fifty constables, quickly arrived on the scene
to put an end to the merrymaking. Every servant in the tavern was
taken into custody and marched off to a watch-house in Mount Street.
News of what had happened spread during the night, and early in the
morning the watch-house was surrounded by a furious mob. A riot
followed, which was not easily suppressed. But another consequence
followed. During the riot the Earl of Lonsdale was stopped in his
carriage while passing to his own house, and annoyed by that
experience he addressed some curt words to a Captain Cuthbert who
was on duty with the soldiers. Of course a duel was the next step.
After failing to injure each other at two attempts, the seconds
intervened, and insisted that, as their quarrel had arisen through a
mutual misconception, and as neither of them would make the first
concession, they should advance towards each other, step for step,
and both declare, in the same breath, that they were sorry for what
had happened.

In pre-railway days Piccadilly could boast of the White Horse
Cellar, which Dickens made famous as the starting-point of Mr.
Pickwick for Bath after being mulct in seven hundred and fifty
pounds damages by the fair widow Bardell. The fact that it was an
important coaching depot appears to have been its chief attraction
in those and earlier days, for the novelist's description of the
interior would hardly prove seductive to travellers were the house
existing in its old-time condition. "The travellers' room at the
White Horse Cellar," wrote Dickens, "is of course uncomfortable; it
would be no travellers' room if it were not. It is the right-hand
parlour, into which an aspiring kitchen fireplace appears to have
walked, accompanied by a rebellious poker, tongs, and shovel. It is
divided into boxes, for the solitary confinement of travellers, and
is furnished with a clock, a looking-glass, and a live waiter: which
latter article is kept in a small kennel for washing glasses, in a
corner of the apartment." Pierce Egan, in the closing pages of his
lively account of Jerry Hawthorn's visit to London, gives an outside
view of the tavern only. And that more by suggestion than direct
description. It is the bustle of the place rather than its
architectural features Egan was concerned with, and in that he was
seconded by his artist, George Cruikshank, whose picture of the
White Horse Cellar is mostly coach and horses and human beings.

Few if any London taverns save the Adam and Eve can claim to stand
upon ground once occupied by a King's palace. This tavern, which has
a modern representative of identical name, was situated at the
northern end of Tottenham Court Road, at the junction of the road
leading to Hampstead. It was built originally on the site of a
structure known as King John's Palace, which subsequently became a
manor house, and then gave way to the Adam and Eve tavern and
gardens. This establishment had a varied career. At one time it was
highly respectable; then its character degenerated to the lowest
depths; afterwards taking an upward move once more.

Something in the shape of a place for refreshments was standing on
this spot in the mid seventeenth century, for the parish books of
St. Giles in the Fields record that three serving maids were in 1645
fined a shilling each for "drinking at Totenhall Court on the
Sabbath daie." In the eighteenth century the resort was at the
height of its popularity. It had a large room with an organ,
skittle-alleys, and cosy arbours for those who liked to consume
their refreshments out of doors. At one time also its attractions
actually embraced "a monkey, a heron, some wild fowl, some parrots,
and a small pond for gold-fish." It was at this stage in its
history, when its surroundings were more rural than it is possible
to imagine to-day, that the tavern was depicted by Hogarth in his
"March to Finchley" plate. Early in the last century, however, it
"became a place of more promiscuous resort, and persons of the worst
character and description were in the constant habit of frequenting
it; highwaymen, footpads, pickpockets, and common women formed its
leading visitants, and it became so great a nuisance to the
neighbourhood, that the magistrates interfered, the organ was
banished, the skittle-grounds destroyed, and the gardens dug up." A
creepy story is told of a subterraneous passage having existed in
connection with the manor house which formerly stood on this spot, a
passage which many set out to explore but which has kept its secret
hidden to this day.

[Illustration: ADAM AND EVE TAVERN.]

Record has already been made of the fact that there was one
"Sarrazin's" Head tavern at Westminster; it must be added that there
was another at Snow Hill, which disappeared when the Holborn Viaduct
was built. Dickens, who rendered so many valuable services in
describing the buildings of old London, has left a characteristic
pen-picture of this tavern. "Near to the jail, and by consequence
near to Smithfield, and on that particular part of Snow Hill where
omnibuses going eastward seriously think of falling down on purpose,
and where horses in hackney cabriolets going westward not
unfrequently fall by accident, is the coachyard of the Saracen's
Head Inn; its portals guarded by two Saracens' heads and shoulders
frowning upon you from each side of the gateway. The Inn itself
garnished with another Saracen's head, frowns upon you from the top
of the yard. When you walk up this yard you will see the
booking-office on your left, and the tower of St. Sepulchre's Church
darting abruptly up into the sky on your right, and a gallery of
bedrooms upon both sides. Just before you, you will observe a long
window with the words 'Coffee Room' legibly painted above it." That
allusion to St. Sepulchre's Church recalls the fact that in that
building may be seen the brass to the memory of the redoubtable
Captain John Smith, who was to win the glory of laying the first
abiding foundations of English life in America. The brass makes due
record of the fact that he was "Admiral of New England," and it also
bears in the coat of arms three Turks' heads, in memory of Smith's
alleged single-handed victory over that number of Saracens. As
Selden pointed out, when Englishmen came home from fighting the
Saracens, and were beaten by them, they, to save their own credit,
pictured their enemy with big, terrible faces, such as frowned at
Dickens from so many coigns of vantage in the old Saracen's Head,

[Illustration: A TRIAL BEFORE THE PIE-POWDER COURT AT THE HAND AND
SHEARS TAVERN.]

During the closing decade of the famous Bartholomew Fair--an annual
medley of commerce and amusement which had its origin in the days
when it was the great cloth exchange of all England and attracted
clothiers from all quarters--the scene of what was known as the
Pie-Powder Court was located in a 'tavern known as the Hand and
Shears. Concerning this court Blackstone offered this interesting
explanation: "The lowest, and, at the same time, the most
expeditious court of justice known to the law of England, is the
Court of Pie-Powder, _curia pedis pulverizati_, so called from
the dusty feet of the suitors." Another explanation of the name is
that the court was so called "because justice is there done as
speedily as dust can fall from the foot." Whatever be the correct
solution, the curious fact remains that this court was a serious
affair, and had the power to enforce law and deal out punishment
within the area of the Fair. There is an excellent old print of the
Hand and Shears in which the court was held, and another not less
interesting picture showing the court engaged on the trial of a
case. It is evident from the garb of the two principal figures that
plaintiff and defendant belonged to the strolling-player fraternity,
who always contributed largely to the amusements of the Fair. This
curious example of swift justice, recalling the Old Testament
picture of the judge sitting at the gate of the city, became
entirely a thing of the past when Bartholomew Fair was abolished in
1854.

There are two other inns, one to the north, the other to the south,
the names of which can hardly escape the notice of the twentieth
century visitor to London. These are the Angel at Islington, and the
Elephant and Castle at Walworth. The former is probably the older of
the two, though both were in their day famous as the starting-places
of coaches, just as they are conspicuous to-day as traffic centres
of omnibuses and tram-cars. The Angel dates back to before 1665, for
in that year of plague in London a citizen broke out of his house in
the city and sought refuge here. He was refused admission, but was
taken in at another inn and found dead in the morning. In the
seventeenth century and later, as old pictures testify, the inn
presented the usual features of a large old country hostelry. As
such the courtyard is depicted by Hogarth in his print of the "Stage
Coach." Its career has been uneventful in the main, though in 1767
one of its guests ended his life by poison, leaving behind this
message: "I have for fifteen years past suffered more indigence than
ever gentleman before submitted to, I am neglected by my
acquaintance, traduced by my enemies, and insulted by the vulgar."

[Illustration: FALCON TAVERN, BANKSIDE.]

If he would complete the circle of his tour on the outskirts of
London proper, the pilgrim, on leaving the Elephant and Castle,
should wend his way to Bankside, though not in the expectation of
finding any vestige left of that Falcon tavern which was the daily
resort of Shakespeare and his theatrical companions; Not far from
Blackfriars Bridge used to be Falcon Stairs and the Falcon Glass
Works, and other industrial buildings bearing that name, but no
Falcon tavern within recent memory. It has been denied that
Shakespeare frequented the Falcon tavern which once did actually
exist. But so convivial a soul must have had some "house of call,"
and there is no reason to rob the memory of the old Falcon of what
would be its greatest honour. Especially does it seem unnecessary in
view of the fact that the Falcon and many another inn and tavern of
old London, has vanished and left "not a rack behind."



II.

COFFEE-HOUSES OF OLD LONDON.



CHAPTER I.

COFFEE-HOUSES ON 'CHANGE AND NEAR-BY.


Coffee-Houses still exist in London, but it would be difficult to
find one answering to the type which was so common during the last
forty years of the seventeenth century and the first half of the
eighteenth. The establishment of to-day is nothing more than an
eating-house of modest pretensions, frequented mostly by the
labouring classes. In many cases its internal arrangements follow
the old-time model, and the imitation extends to the provision of a
daily newspaper or two from which customers may glean the news of
the day without extra charge. Here and there, too, the coffee-house
of the present perpetuates the convenience of its prototype by
allowing customers' letters to be sent to its address. But the more
exalted type of coffee-house has lost its identity in the club.

It is generally agreed that 1652 was the date of the opening of the
first coffee-house in London. There are, however, still earlier
references to the drink itself. For example, Sir Henry Blount wrote
from Turkey in 1634 to the effect that the natives of that country
had a "drink called _cauphe_ ...in taste a little bitterish,"
and that they daily entertained themselves "two or three hours in
_cauphe-_houses, which, in Turkey, abound more than inns and
alehouses with us." Also it will be remembered that Evelyn, under
date 1637, recorded how a Greek came to Oxford and "was the first I
ever saw drink coffee."

Whether the distinction of opening the first coffee-house in London
belongs to a Mr. Bowman or to a Pasqua Rosee cannot be decided. But
all authorities are as one in locating that establishment in St.
Michael's Alley, Cornhill, and that the date was 1652. The weight of
evidence seems to be in favour of Rosee, who was servant to a Turkey
merchant named Edwards. Having acquired the coffee-drinking habit in
Turkey, Mr. Edwards was accustomed to having his servant prepare the
beverage for him in his London house, and the new drink speedily
attracted a levee of curious onlookers and tasters. Evidently the
company grew too large to be convenient, and at this juncture Mr.
Edwards suggested that Rosee should set up as a vendor of the drink.
He did so, and a copy of the prospectus he issued on the occasion
still exists. It set forth at great length "the virtue of the Coffee
Drink First publiquely made and sold in England by Pasqua Rosee,"
the berry of which was described as "a simple innocent thing" but
yielding a liquor of countless merits. But Rosee was frank as to its
drawbacks; "it will prevent drowsiness," he continued, "and make one
fit for business, if one have occasion to watch; and therefore you
are not to drink it after supper, unless you intend to be watchful,
for it will hinder sleep for three or four hours."

That Pasqua Rosee prospered amazingly in St. Michael's Alley, "at
the Signe of his own Head," is the only conclusion possible from the
numerous rival establishments which were quickly set up in different
parts of London. By the end of the century it was computed that the
coffee-houses of London numbered nearly three thousand.

But there were days of tribulation to be passed through before that
measure of success was attained. In eight years after Rosee had
opened his establishment the consumption of coffee in England had
evidently increased to a notable extent, for in 1660 the House of
Commons is found granting to Charles II for life the excise duty on
coffee "and other outlandish drinks." But it is a curious fact that
while the introduction of tea was accepted with equanimity by the
community, the introduction of coffee was strenuously opposed for
more than a decade. Poets and pamphleteers combined to decry the new
beverage. The rhyming author of "A Cup of Coffee, or Coffee in its
Colours," published in 1663, voiced his indignation thus:

    "For men and Christians to turn Turks and think
    To excuse the crime, because 'tis in their drink!
    Pure English apes! ye might, for aught I know,
    Would it but mode learn to eat spiders too.
    Should any of your grandsires' ghosts appear
    In your wax-candle circles, and but hear
    The name of coffee so much called upon,
    Then see it drank like scalding Phlegethon;
    Would they not startle, think ye, all agreed
    'Twas conjuration both in word and deed?"

By way of climax this opponent of the new drink appealed to the
shades of Ben Jonson and other libation-loving poets, and recalled
how they, as source of inspiration, "drank pure nectar as the Gods
drink too."

Three years later a dramatist seems to have tried his hand at
depicting the new resort on the stage, for Pepys tells how in
October, 1666, he saw a play called "The Coffee-House." It was not a
success; "the most ridiculous, insipid play that ever I saw in my
life," was Pepys' verdict. But there was nothing insipid about
the pamphlet which, under the title of "The Character of a
Coffee-House," issued from the press seven years later. The author
withheld his name, and was wise in so doing, for his cuts and
thrusts with his pen would have brought down upon him as numerous
cuts and thrusts with a more dangerous weapon had his identity been
known. "A coffee-house," he wrote, "is a lay-conventicle,
good-fellowship turned puritan, ill-husbandry in masquerade; whither
people come, after toping all day, to purchase, at the expense of
their last penny, the repute of sober companions: a rota-room, that,
like Noah's ark, receives animals of every sort, from the precise
diminutive band, to the hectoring cravat and cuffs in folio; a
nursery for training up the smaller fry of virtuosi in confident
tattling, or a cabal of kittling critics that have only learned to
spit and mew; a mint of intelligence, that, to make each man his
penny-worth, draws out into petty parcels what the merchant receives
in bullion. He, that comes often, saves two-pence a week in
Gazettes, and has his news and his coffee for the same charge, as at
a three-penny ordinary they give in broth to your chop of mutton; it
is an exchange where haberdashers of political smallwares meet, and
mutually abuse each other, and the public, with bottomless stories,
and headless notions; the rendezvous of idle pamphlets, and persons
more idly employed to read them; a high court of justice, where
every little fellow in a camlet cloke takes upon him to transpose
affairs both in church and state, to shew reasons against acts of
parliament, and condemn the decrees of general councils."

Having indulged in that trenchant generalization, this vigorous
assailant proceeded to describe a coffee-house in detail. The room
"stinks of tobacco worse than hell of brimstone;" the coffee itself
had the appearance of "Pluto's diet-drink, that witches tipple out
of dead men's skulls;" and the company included "a silly fop and a
worshipful justice, a griping rook and a grave citizen, a worthy
lawyer and an errant pickpocket, a reverend non-conformist and a
canting mountebank, all blended together to compose an oglio of
impertinence." There is a delightful sketch of one named "Captain
All-man-sir," as big a boaster as Falstaff, and a more delicately
etched portrait of the Town Wit, who is summed up as the
"jack-pudding of society" in the judgment of all wise men, but an
incomparable wit in his own. The peroration of this pamphlet,
devoted to a wholesale condemnation of the coffee-house, indulges in
too frank and unsavoury metaphors for modern re-publication.

Of course there was an answer. Pamphleteering was one of the
principal diversions of the age. "Coffee-Houses Vindicated" was the
title of the reply. The second pamphlet was not the equal of the
first in terseness or wit, but it had the advantage in argument. The
writer did not find it difficult to make out a good case for the
coffee-house. It was economical, conduced to sobriety, and provided
innocent diversion. When one had to meet a friend, a tavern was an
expensive place; "in an ale-house you must gorge yourself with pot
after pot, sit dully alone, or be drawn in to club for others'
reckonings." Not so at the coffee-house: "Here, for a penny or two,
you may spend two or three hours, have the shelter of a house, the
warmth of a fire, the diversion of company; and conveniency, if you
please, of taking a pipe of tobacco; and all this without any
grumbling or repining." On the score of sobriety the writer was
equally cogent. It was stupid custom which insisted that any and
every transaction should be carried out at a tavern, where continual
sipping made men unfit for business. Coffee, on the contrary, was a
"wakeful" drink. And the company of the coffee-house enabled its
frequenter to follow the proper study of man, mankind. The
triumphant conclusion was that a well-regulated coffee-house was
"the sanctuary of health, the nursery of temperance, the delight of
frugality, an academy of civility, and free-school of ingenuity."

But a still more serious-minded person took part in the assault upon
the coffee-house. He was one of those amateur statesmen, who
usually, as in this case, abrogate to themselves the title of "Lover
of his Country," who have a remedy for every disease of the body
politic. In a series of proposals offered for the consideration of
Parliament, this patriot pleaded for the suppression of
coffee-houses on the ground that if less coffee were drunk there
would be a larger demand for beer, and a larger demand for beer
meant the growing of more English grain. Apart from economics,
however, there were adequate reasons for suppression. These
coffee-houses have "done great mischiefs to the nation, and undone
many of the King's subjects: for they, being great enemies to
diligence and industry, have been the ruin of many serious and
hopeful young gentlemen and tradesmen, who, before frequenting these
places, were diligent students or shopkeepers, extraordinary
husbands of their time as well as money; but since these houses have
been set up, under pretence of good husbandry, to avoid spending
above one penny or two-pence at a time, have gone to these
coffee-houses; where, meeting friends, they have sat talking three
or four hours; after which, a fresh acquaintance appearing, and so
one after another all day long, hath begotten fresh discourse, so
that frequently they have staid five or six hours together," to the
neglect of shops and studies, etc., etc.

Even yet, however, the worst had not been said. The wives of England
had to be heard from. Hence the "Women's Petition against Coffee,"
which enlivens the annals of the year of grace 1674. The pernicious
drink was indicted on three counts: "It made men as unfruitful as
the deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought;" its
use would cause the offspring of their "mighty ancestors" to
"dwindle into a succession of apes and pigmies;" and when a husband
went out on a domestic errand he "would stop by the way to drink a
couple of cups of coffee."

These assaults--or, what is more probable, the abuse of the
coffee-house for political purposes--had an effect, for a time. The
king, although enjoying the excise from that "outlandish" drink, did
issue a proclamation for the suppression of the coffee-houses, only
to cancel it almost ere the ink was dry. But later, to put a stop to
that public discussion of state affairs which was deemed sacrilege
in the seventeenth century, an order was issued forbidding
coffee-houses to keep any written or other news save such as
appeared in the Gazette.

But the coffee-house as an institution was not to be put down.
Neither pamphlets nor poems, nor petitions nor proclamations, had
any effect. It met a "felt want" apparently, or made so effective an
appeal to the social spirit of seventeenth century Londoners that
its success was assured from the start. Consequently Pasqua Rosee
soon had opposition in his own immediate neighbourhood. It may be
that the Rainbow of Fleet Street was the second coffee-house to be
opened in London, or that the honour belonged elsewhere; what is to
be noted is that the establishments multiplied fast and nowhere more
than in the vicinity of the Royal Exchange. Several were to be found
in Change Alley, while in the Royal Exchange of to-day, the third
building of that name, are the headquarters of Lloyd's, which
perpetuates in name at least one of the most remarkable
coffee-houses of the seventeenth century.

Evidence is abundant that the early coffee-houses took their colour
from the district in which they were established. Thus it would be
idle in the main to expect a literary atmosphere among the houses
which flourished in the heart of the city. They became the resorts
of men of business, and gradually acquired a specific character from
the type of business man most frequenting them. In a way Batson's
coffee-house was an exception to the rule, inasmuch as doctors and
not merchants were most in evidence here. But the fact that it was
tacitly accepted as the physicians' resort shows how the principle
acted in a general way. One of the most constant visitors at
Batson's was Sir Richard Blackmore, that scribbling doctor who was
physician to William III and then to Queen Anne. Although his
countless books were received either with ridicule or absolute
silence, he still persisted in authorship, and finally produced an
"Heroick Poem" in twelve books entitled, "Prince Alfred." Lest any
should wonder how a doctor could court the muse to that extent
without neglecting his proper work, he explained in his preface that
he had written the poem "by such catches and starts, and in such
occasional uncertain hours as his profession afforded, and for the
greater part in coffee-houses, or in passing up and down the
streets," an apology which, led to his being accused of writing "to
the rumbling of his chariot wheels." But in the main the real
literary folk of the day would have none of him. He belonged to the
city, and what had a mere city man to do with poetry? Even Dr.
Johnson, in taking note of a reply Blackmore made to his critics,
chided him with writing "in language such as Cheapside easily
furnished."

Other physicians, however, resorted to Batson's coffee-house in a
professional and not a poetic way. The character of its frequenters
was described in a lively manner in the first number of the
Connoisseur, published in January, 1754. Having devoted a few
sentences to a neighbouring establishment, the writer noted that it
is "but a short step to a gloomy class of mortals, not less intent
on gain than the stock-jobbers: I mean the dispensers of life and
death, who flock together like birds of prey watching for carcasses
at Batson's. I never enter this place, but it serves as a _memento
mori_ to me. What a formidable assemblage of sable suits, and
tremendous perukes! I have often met here a most intimate
acquaintance, whom I have scarce known again; a sprightly young
fellow, with whom I have spent many a jolly hour; but being just
dubbed a graduate in physic, he has gained such an entire conquest
over the risible muscles, that he hardly vouchsafes at any time to
smile. I have heard him harangue, with all the oracular importance
of a veteran, on the possibility of Canning's subsisting for a whole
month on a few bits of bread; and he is now preparing a treatise, in
which he will set forth a new and infallible method to prevent the
spreading of the plague from France to England. Batson's has been
reckoned the seat of solemn stupidity: yet it is not totally devoid
of taste and common sense. They have among them physicians, who can
cope with the most eminent lawyers or divines; and critics, who can
relish the _sal volatile_ of a witty composition, or determine
how much fire is requisite to sublimate a tragedy _secundum
artem_." The house served a useful purpose at a time when
physicians were not in the habit of increasing their knowledge by
visiting the wards of the hospitals. Batson's was a consulting-house
instead, not alone for patients but for the doctors themselves. In
this respect, then, it differed from the generally commercial
character of the coffee-houses under the shadow of the Exchange.

[Illustration: GARRAWAY'S COFFEE-HOUSE.]

But there was no mistaking the commercial character of a place like
Garraway's in Change Alley. The essayist just quoted is responsible
for a story to the effect that when a celebrated actor was cast for
the part of Shylock he made daily visits to the coffee-houses near
the Exchange that "by a frequent intercourse and conversation with
'the unforeskin'd race,' he might habituate himself to their air and
deportment." And the same chronicler goes on to say that personally
he was never more diverted than by a visit to Garraway's a few days
before the drawing of a lottery. "I not only could read hope, fear,
and all the various passions excited by a love of gain, strongly
pictured in the faces of those who came to buy; but I remarked with
no less delight, the many little artifices made use of to allure
adventurers, as well as the visible alterations in the looks of the
sellers, according as the demand for tickets gave occasion to raise
or lower their price. So deeply were the countenances of these
bubble-brokers impressed with attention to the main chance, and
their minds seemed so dead to all other sensations, that one might
almost doubt, where money is out of the case, whether a Jew 'has
eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, affections, passions.'" But lottery
tickets were not the only things offered-for sale at Garraway's.
Wine was a common article of sale there in the early days, and in
the latter career of the house it became famous as an auction-room
for land and house property.

Thomas Garraway was the founder of the house, the same who is
credited with having been the first to retail tea in England. On the
success of Pasqua Rosee he was not long, apparently, in adding
coffee to his stock, and then turning his place of business into a
coffee-house. The house survived till 1866, and even to its latest
years kept an old-time character. A frequenter of the place says the
ground-floor was furnished with cosy mahogany boxes and seats, and
that the ancient practice of covering the floor with sand was
maintained to the last.

Two other houses, Jonathan's and Sam's, were notorious for their
connection with stock-jobbing. The latter, indeed, figured
prominently in the gigantic South Sea Bubble fraud. And even when
that was exposed Sam's continued to be the headquarters of all the
get-rich-quick schemes of the day. Thus in one issue of a newspaper
of 1720 there were two announcements specially designed to catch the
unwary. One notice told that a book would be opened for entering
into a joint-partnership "on a thing that will turn to the advantage
of the concerned," and the other was a modest proposal to raise two
million pounds for buying and improving the Fens of Lincolnshire.

[Illustration: MAD DOG IN A COFFEE-HOUSE. _(From a Rowlandson
Caricature.)_]

Jonathan's is incidentally described by Addison as "the general mart
of stock-jobbers," and in that amusing account of himself to which
he devoted the first number of the Spectator he explained that he
had been taken for a merchant on the exchange, "and sometimes passed
for a Jew in the assembly of stock-jobbers at Jonathan's." Half a
century later than these allusions the Annual Register recorded a
case tried at the Guildhall arising out of an assault at this
coffee-house. It seems that the master, Mr. Ferres, pushed the
plaintiff, one Isaac Renoux, out of his house, for which he was
fined one shilling damages on it being proved at the trial that "the
house had been a market, time out of mind, for buying and selling
government securities."

Such houses as John's in Birchin Lane and the Jerusalem
coffee-house, which was situated in a court off Cornhill, were
typical places of resort for merchants trading to distant parts of
the world. One of Rowlandson's lively caricatures, that of a "Mad
Dog in a Coffee-House," is a faithful representation of the interior
of one of those houses. A bill on the wall shows how they were used
for the publication of shipping intelligence, that particular
placard giving details of the sailing of "The Cerebus" for the
Brazils. In a private letter of July 30th, 1715, is an account of an
exciting incident which had its origin in the Jerusalem
coffee-house. At that time England was in a state of commotion over
the Jacobite insurrection and the excitement seems to have turned
the head of a Captain Montague, who was reputed to be "a civil sober
man," of good principles and in good circumstances. He had entered
the Jerusalem coffee-house on the previous day, as the letter
relates, and, without any provocation, "of a sudden struck a
gentleman who knew him a severe blow on the eye; immediately after;
drawing his sword, ran out through the alley cross Cornhill still
with it drawn; and at the South entrance of the Exchange uttered
words to this effect, that he was come in the face of the Sun to
proclaim James the third King of England, and that only he was
heir." Whereupon he knocked down another gentleman, who, however,
had sense enough to see that the captain was out of his mind and
called for assistance to secure him. It took half a dozen men to
hold him in the coach which carried him to a magistrate, who
promptly committed him to a mad-house.

Tom's coffee-house was situated in the same thoroughfare as John's.
This was the resort affected by Garrick on his occasional visits to
the city, and is also thought to have been the house frequented by
Chatterton. In a letter to his sister that ill-fated poet excused
the haphazard nature of his epistle he was writing her from Tom's on
the plea that there was "such a noise of business and politics in
the room." He explained that his present business--the concocting of
squibs, tales and songs on the events of the day--obliged him to
frequent places of the best resort.

[Illustration: TOM'S COFFEE-HOUSE.]

In view of its subsequent career no coffee-house of the city proper
was of so much importance as that founded by Edward Lloyd. He first
appears in the history of old London as the keeper of a coffee-house
in Tower Street in 1688, but about four years later' he removed to
Lombard Street in close proximity to the Exchange, and his house
gradually became the recognized centre of shipbroking and marine
insurance business, for which the corporation still bearing the name
of Lloyd's is renowned all over the world.

Two pictures of Lloyd's as it was in the first decade of the
eighteenth century are to, be found in the gallery of English
literature, one from the pen of Steele, the other from that of
Addison. The first is in the form of a petition to Isaac
Bickerstaff, Esq., from the customers of the house, and begged that
he would use his influence to get other coffee-houses to adopt a
custom which prevailed at Lloyd's. Great scandal, it seems, had been
caused by coffee-house orators of the irresponsible order. Such
nuisances were not tolerated at Lloyd's. The petitioners
explained--and by inference the explanation preserves a record of
the internal economy of the house--that at Lloyd's a servant was
deputed to ascend the pulpit in the room and read the news on its
arrival, "while the whole audience are sipping their respective
liquors." The application of the petition lay in the suggestion that
this method should be adopted in all coffee-houses, and that if any,
one wished to orate at large on any item of the news of the day he
should be obliged to ascend the pulpit and make his comments in a
formal manner.

[Illustration: LLOYD'S COFFEE-HOUSE.]

Evidently the pulpit at Lloyd's was a settled institution. It played
a conspicuous part in that ludicrous incident which Addison
describes at his own expense. It was his habit, he explained, to jot
down from time to time brief hints such as could be expanded into
Spectator papers, and a sheetful of such hints would naturally look
like a "rhapsody of nonsense" to any one save the writer himself.
Such a sheet he accidentally dropped in Lloyd's one day, and before
he missed it the boy of the house had it in his hand and was
carrying it around in search of its owner. But Addison did not know
that until it was too late. Many of the customers had glanced at its
contents, which had caused them so much merriment that the boy was
ordered to ascend the pulpit and read the paper for the amusement of
the company at large. "The reading of this paper," continues
Addison, "made the whole coffee-house very merry; some of them
concluded that it was written by a madman, and others by somebody
that had been taking notes out of the Spectator. One who had the
appearance of a very substantial citizen told us, with several
political winks and nods, that he wished there was no more in the
paper than what was expressed in it: that for his part, he looked
upon the dromedary, the gridiron, and the barber's pole, to signify
something more than what was usually meant by those words: and that
he thought the coffee-man could not do better than to carry the
paper to one of the secretaries of state." In the midst of the
numerous other comments, wise and otherwise, Addison reached for the
paper, pretended to look it over, shook his head twice or thrice,
and then twisted it into a match and lit his pipe with it. The ruse
diverted suspicion, especially as Addison applied himself to his
pipe and the paper he was reading with seeming unconcern. And he
consoled the readers of the Spectator with the reflection that he
had already used more than half the hints on that unfortunate sheet
of notes.

Since those almost idyllic days, Lloyd's has played a notable part
in the life of the nation. At its headquarters in the Royal Exchange
building are preserved many interesting relics of the history of the
institution. From a simple coffee-house open to all and sundry, it
has developed into the shipping-exchange of the world, employing
1,500 agents in all parts of the globe.



CHAPTER II.

ROUND ST. PAUL'S.


If there was a certain incongruity in the physicians having their
special coffee-house in the heart of the city, there was none in
clerics affecting the St. Paul's coffee-house under the shadow of
the cathedral of that name. This being the chief church of the
metropolis, notwithstanding the greater historic importance of
Westminster Abbey, it naturally became the religious centre of
London so far as clergymen were concerned. But the frequenters of
this house were of a mixed type. That historian of Batson's who was
quoted in the previous chapter, related that after leaving its
dismal vicinity he was glad to "breathe the pure air in St. Paul's
coffee-house," but he was obliged to add that as he entertained the
highest veneration for the clergy he could not "contemplate the
magnificence of the cathedral without reflecting on the abject
condition of those 'tatter'd crapes,' who are said to ply here for
an occasional burial or sermon, with the same regularity as the
happier drudges who salute us with the cry of 'coach, sir,' or
'chair, your honour.'" Somewhat late in the eighteenth century St.
Paul's coffee-house had a distinguished visitor in the person of
Benjamin Franklin, who here made the acquaintance of Richard Price,
that philosophical dissenting divine whose pamphlet on American
affairs is said to have had no inconsiderable part in determining
Americans to declare their independence. The fact that Dr. Price
frequented the St. Paul's coffee-house is sufficient proof that its
clients were not restricted to clergymen of the established church.

More miscellaneous was the patronage of Child's, another resort in
St. Paul's Church-yard. It is sometimes described as having been a
clerical house like the St. Paul's, and one reference in the
Spectator gives some support to that view. The writer told how a
friend of his from the country had expressed astonishment at seeing
London so crowded with doctors of divinity, necessitating the
explanation that not all the persons in scarfs were of that dignity,
for, this authority on London life continued, "a young divine, after
his first degree in the university, usually comes hither only to
show himself; and on that occasion, is apt to think he is but half
equipped with a gown and cassock for his public appearance, if he
hath not the additional ornament of a scarf of the first magnitude
to entitle him to the appellation of Doctor from his landlady and
the boy at' Child's." There is another allusion to the house in the
Spectator. "Sometimes I"--the writer is Addison--"smoke a pipe at
Child's, and while I seem attentive to nothing but the Postman,
overhear the conversation of every table in the room." Apart from
such decided lay patrons as Addison, Child's could also claim a
large constituency among the medical and learned men of the day.

Notwithstanding its ecclesiastical name, the Chapter coffee-house in
Paul's Alley was not a clerical resort. By the middle of the
eighteenth century it had come to be recognized as the rendezvous of
publishers and booksellers. "The conversation here," to appeal to
the Connoisseur once more, "naturally turns upon the newest
publications; but their criticisms are somewhat singular. When they
say a good book, they do not mean to praise the style or sentiment,
but the quick and extensive sale of it. That book in the phrase of
the Conger is best, which sells most; and if the demand for Quarles
should be greater than for Pope, he would have the highest place on
the rubric-post. There are also many parts of every work liable to
their remarks, which fall not within the notice of less accurate
observers. A few nights ago I saw one of these gentlemen take up a
sermon, and after seeming to peruse it for some time with great
attention, he declared that 'it was very good English.' The reader
will judge whether I was most surprised or diverted, when I
discovered that he was not commending the purity and elegance of the
diction, but the beauty of the type; which, it seems, is known among
printers by that appellation. We must not, however, think the
members of the Conger strangers to the deeper parts of literature;
for as carpenters, smiths, masons, and all mechanics, smell of the
trade they labour at, booksellers take a peculiar turn from their
connexions with books and authors."

Could the writer of that gentle satire have looked forward about a
quarter of a century he would have had knowledge on which to have
based a greater eulogy of the Congers. It should be explained
perhaps that Conger was the name of a club of booksellers founded in
1715 for co-operation in the issuing of expensive works. Booklovers
of the present generation may often wonder at the portly folios of
bygone generations, and marvel especially that they could have been
produced at a profit when readers were so comparatively few. Many of
those folios owed their existence to the scheme adopted by the
members of the Conger, a scheme whereby several publishers shared in
the production of a costly work.

Such a sharing of expense and profit was entered into at that
meeting at the Chapter coffee-house which led to Dr. Johnson's
"Lives of the English Poets." The London booksellers of that time
were alarmed at the invasion of what they called their literary
property by a Scottish publisher who had presumed to bring out an
edition of the English poets. To counteract this move from Edinburgh
the decision was reached to print "an elegant and accurate edition
of ail the English poets of reputation, from Chaucer down to the
present time." The details were thoroughly debated at the Chapter
coffee-house, and a deputation was appointed to wait upon Dr.
Johnson, to secure his services in editing the series. Johnson
accepted the task, "seemed exceedingly pleased" that it had been
offered him, and agreed to carry it through for a fee of two hundred
pounds. His moderation astonished Malone; "had he asked one
thousand, or even fifteen hundred guineas, the booksellers, who knew
the value of his name, would doubtless have readily given it."

But writers of books as well as makers and sellers of books could be
found on occasion within the portals of the Chapter coffee-house.
Two memories of Goldsmith, neither of them pleasant, are associated
with the house. One is concerned with his acceptance of an
invitation to dinner here with Charles Lloyd, who, at the end of the
meal, walked off and left his guest to pay the bill. The other
incident introduces the vicious William Kenrick, that hack-writer
who slandered Goldsmith without cause on so many occasions, Shortly
after the publication of one of his libels in the press, Kenrick was
met by Goldsmith accidentally in the Chapter and made to admit that
he had lied. But no sooner had the poet left the house than the
cowardly retractor began his abuse again to the company at large.

Chatterton, too, frequented the house in his brief days of London
life. "I am quite familiar at the Chapter Coffee-House," he wrote
his mother, "and know all the geniuses there." And five years later
there is this picture of the democratic character of the resort from
the shocked pen of one who had been attracted thither by the report
of its large library and select company: "Here I saw a specimen of
English freedom. A whitesmith in his apron and some of his saws
under his arm came in, sat down, and called for his glass of punch
and the paper, both which he used with as much ease as a lord. Such
a man in Ireland and, I suppose, in France too, and almost any other
country, would, not have shown himself with his hat on, nor any way,
unless sent for by some gentleman."

Perhaps the most interesting association of the Chapter coffee-house
was that destined to come to it when its race was nearly run. On a
July evening in 1548 the waiter was somewhat startled at the
appearance of two simply-dressed, slight and timid-looking ladies
seeking accommodation. Women guests were not common at the Chapter.
But these two were strangers to London; they had never before
visited the great city; and the only hostelry they knew was the
Chapter they had heard their father speak about. So it was to the
Chapter that Charlotte and Anne Bronté went when they visited London
to clear up a difficulty with their publishers, Smith and Elder.
Mrs. Gaskell describes the house as it was in those July days. "It
had the appearance of a dwelling-house two hundred years old or so,
such as one sometimes sees in ancient country towns; the ceilings of
the small rooms were low, and had heavy beams running across them;
the walls were wainscoted breast-high; the stairs were shallow,
broad, and dark, taking up much space in the centre of the house.
The gray-haired elderly man who officiated as waiter seems to have
been touched from the very first by the quiet simplicity of the two
ladies, and he tried to make them feel comfortable and at home in
the long, low, dingy room upstairs. The high, narrow windows looked
into the gloomy Row; the sisters, clinging together in the most
remote window-seat (as Mr. Smith tells me he found them when he came
that Saturday evening), could see nothing of motion or of change in
the grim, dark houses opposite, so near and close, although the
whole breadth of the Row was between." If it were only for the sake
of those startled sisters from the desolate Yorkshire moors one
could wish that the Chapter coffee-house were still standing. But it
is not. Nor are there any vestiges remaining of the St. Paul's or
Child's.

Nor will the pilgrim fare better in the adjacent thoroughfare of
Ludgate Hill. Not far down that highway could once be found the
London coffee-house, which Benjamin Franklin frequented, and where
that informal club for philosophical discussions of which Dr.
Priestly was the chairman held its social meetings. The London
continued in repute among American visitors for many years. When
Charles Robert Leslie, the artist, reached London in 1811 intent on
prosecuting his art studies, he tells how he stopped for a few days
"at the London Coffee-house on Ludgate Hill, with Mr. Inskeep and
other Americans."

Further west, in the yard of that Belle Sauvage inn described in an
earlier chapter, there existed in 1730 a coffee-house known as
Wills', but of which nothing gave one somewhat pathetic incident is
on record. The memory of this incident is preserved among the
manuscripts of the Duke of Portland in the form of two letters to
the Earl of Oxford. The first letter is anonymous. It was written to
the earl on February 8th, 1730, in the interests of William
Oldisworth, that unfortunate miscellaneous writer whose adherence to
the Stuart cause helped, along with a liking for tavern-life, to mar
his career. This anonymous correspondent had learnt that Oldisworth
was in a starving condition, out of clothes likewise, and labouring
under many infirmities. "Though no man has deserved better of his
country, yet is none more forgot." The letter also hinted at the
fact that Oldisworth would not complain, nor suffer any one to do
that office for him. But the writer was wise enough to enclose the
address of the man in whose behalf he made so adroit an appeal, that
address being Wills' coffee-house in the Belle Sauvage yard.

Edward Harley, that Earl of Oxford who preferred above all things to
surround himself with poets and men of letters, and whose generosity
helped to bring about his financial ruin, was not the man to ignore
a letter of that kind. Some assistance was speedily on its way to
Will's coffee-house, for on February 2lst Oldisworth was penning an
epistle which was to "wait in all humility on your Lordship to
return you my best thanks for the late kind and generous favour you
conferred on me." He sent the earl an ancient manuscript as token of
his gratitude, explained that he was ignorant of the one who had
written in his behalf, and for the rest was determined to keep his
present station, low as it was, with content and resignation. The
inference is that Will's coffee-house was but a lowly and
inexpensive abode and hence it is not surprising that it makes so
small a showing in the annals of old London.

At the western end of Fleet Street the passer-by cannot fail to be
attracted by the picturesque, timbered house which faces Chancery
Lane. This unique survival of the past, which has been carefully
restored within recent years, has often been described as "Formerly
the Palace of Henry VIII and Cardinal Wolsey." Another legend is
that the room on the first floor was the council-chamber of the
Duchy of Cornwall under Henry, the eldest son of James I. More
credible is the statement that Nando's coffee-house was once kept
under this roof. In the days when he was a briefless barrister,
Thurlow was a frequent visitor here, attracted, it is said, as were
so many more of the legal fraternity, by the dual merits of the
punch and the physical charms of the landlady's daughter. Miss
Humphries was, as a punster put it, "always admired at the bar by
the bar." The future Lord Chancellor had no cause to regret his
patronage of Nando's. So convincingly did he one day prove his skill
in argument that a stranger present bestirred himself, and
successfully, to have the young advocate retained in a famous law
case of the time, an apppointment which led to Thurlow's becoming
acquainted with the Duchess of Queensbury, with after important
results.

During those stirring days when the "Wilkes and Liberty" riots
caused such intense excitement in London, one worthy merchant of the
city found Nando's a valuable place of refuge. Arrangements had been
made for a body of merchants and tradesmen of the city to wait on
George III at St. James's with a loyal address and as token of their
sympathy with the position assumed by that obstinate monarch. But on
the night before handbills had been scattered broadcast desiring all
true and loyal subjects to meet on the following day and form a
procession towards the city, taking particular care "not to
interfere with the Merchants going to St. James's" The handbill had
the desired effect. The cavalcade of merchants was scattered in
confusion long before it reached Temple-bar, and isolated members of
the party, few in number, did their best to reach the royal palace'
by roundabout ways. Even so they were a sorry spectacle. For the
other loyal subjects of the king had liberally bespattered them with
mud. Nor was this the most disconcerting feature of their situation.
Having reached the presence of their sovereign it was certainly
annoying that they could not present the address which had brought
them into all this trouble. But the fact was the address was
missing. It had been committed to the care of a Mr. Boehm, and he
was not present. As a matter of fact Mr. Boehm had fled for refuge
to Nando's coffee-house, leaving the precious address under the seat
of his coach. The rioters were not aware of that fact, and it seems
that the document was eventually recovered, after his Majesty had
been "kept waiting till past five."

There is a fitness in the fact that as Thurlow's name is linked with
Nando's coffee-house so Cowper's memory is associated with the
adjacent establishment known as Dick's. The poet and the lawyer had
been fellow clerks in a solicitor's office, had spent their time in
"giggling and making giggle" with the daughters of Cowper's uncle,
and been boon friends in many ways. The future poet foretold the
fame of his friend, and extorted a playful promise that when he was
Lord Chancellor he would provide for his fellow clerk. The prophecy
came true, but the promise was forgotten. Thurlow did not even deign
to notice the poetical address of his old companion, nor did he
acknowledge the receipt of his first volume of verse. "Be great,"
the indignant poet wrote--

   "Be great, be fear'd, be envied, be admired;
   To fame as lasting as the earth pretend,
   But not hereafter to the name of friend!"

For Thurlow the ungrateful, Nando's was associated with his first
step up the 'ladder of success; for Cowper, Dick's was the scene of
an agony that he remembered to his dying day. For it was while he
was at breakfast in this coffee-house that he was seized with one of
his painful delusions. A letter he read in a paper he interpreted as
a satire on himself, and he threw the paper down and rushed from the
room with a resolve either to find some house in which to die or
some ditch where he could poison himself unseen.

Reference has already been made to the Rainbow as one of the famous
taverns of Fleet Street, and also to the fact that it was a
coffee-house ere it became a tavern. But somehow it was as a
coffee-house that it was usually regarded. It is so described in
1679, in 1708, in 1710, and in 1736. Under the earliest date it
appears as playing a part in the astounding story of Titus Gates.
One of the victims of that unrivalled perjurer was Sir Philip Lloyd,
whom Oates declared had "in a sort of bravery presented himself in
the Rainbow coffee-house, and declared he did not believe any kind
of plot against the King's person, notwithstanding what any had said
to the contrary." This was sufficient to arouse the enmity of the
wily Oates, who had the knight haled before the council and closely
examined. Sir Philip explained that he had only said he knew of no
other than a fantastic plot, but, as a contemporary letter puts it,
"Oates had got ready four shrewd coffee-drinkers, then present, who
swore the matter point blank." So the perjurer won again, and Sir
Philip was suspended during the king's pleasure as the outcome of
his Rainbow coffee-house speech.

But there is a pleasanter memory with which to bid this famous
resort farewell. It is enshrined in a letter of the early eighteenth
century, wishing that the recipient might, if he could find a
leisure evening, drop into the Rainbow, where he would meet several
friends of the writer in the habit of frequenting that house,
gentlemen of great worth and whom it would be a pleasure to know.



CHAPTER III.

THE STRAND AND COVENT GARDEN.


How markedly the coffee-houses of London were differentiated from
each other by the opening of the eighteenth century is nowhere more
clearly demonstrated than in Steele's first issue of the Tatler.
After hoodwinking his readers into thinking he had a correspondent
"in all parts of the known and knowing world," he informed them that
it was his intention to print his news under "such dates of places"
as would provide a key to the matter they were to expect. Thus, "all
accounts of gallantry, pleasure, and entertainment, shall be under
the article of White's Chocolate-house; poetry, under that of Will's
Coffee-house; learning, under the title of the Grecian; foreign and
domestic news, you shall have from Saint James's Coffee-house, and
what else I have to offer on any other subject shall be dated from
my own apartment."

Several days elapsed ere there was anything to report from the
Grecian coffee-house, which was situated in Devereux Court, Strand,
and derived its name from the fact that it was kept by a Greek named
Constantine. When it does make its appearance, however, the
information given under its name is strictly in keeping with the
character Steele gave the house. "While other parts of the town are
amused with the present actions, we generally spend the evening at
this table in inquiries into antiquity, and think anything news
which gives us new knowledge." And then follow particulars of how
the learned Grecians had been amusing themselves by trying to
arrange the actions of the Iliad in chronological order. This task
seems to have been accomplished in a friendly manner, but there was
an occasion when a point of scholarship had a less placid ending.
Two gentlemen, so the story goes, who were constant companions,
drifted into a dispute at the Grecian one evening over the accent of
a Greek word. The argument was protracted and at length grew angry.
As neither could convince the other by mere words, the resolve was
taken to decide the matter by swords. So the erstwhile friends
stepped out into the court, and, after a few passes, one of them was
run through the body, and died on the spot.

That the Grecian maintained its character as the resort of learned
disputants may be inferred from the heated discussions which took
place within its walls when Burke confused the public with his
imitation of the style and language of Bolinbroke in his
"Vindication of Natural Society." All the critics were completely
deceived. And Charles Macklin in particular distinguished himself by
rushing into the Grecian one evening, flourishing a copy of the
pamphlet, and declaring, "Sir, this must be Harry Bolinbroke; I know
him by his cloven foot!"

[Illustration: GRECIAN COFFEE-HOUSE.]

Even if it were not for that fatal duel between the two Greek
scholars, there are anecdotes to show that some frequenters of the
house were of an aggressive nature. There is the story, for example,
of the bully who insisted upon a particular seat, but came in one
evening and found it occupied by another.

"Who is that in my seat?"

"I don't know, sir," replied the waiter.

"Where is the hat I left on it?"

"He put it in the fire."

"Did he? damnation! but a fellow who would do _THAT_ would not
mind flinging me after it!" and with that he disappeared.

Men of science as well as scholars gave liberal patronage to the
Grecian. It was a common thing for meetings of the Royal Society to
be continued in a social way at this coffee-house, the president,
Sir Isaac Newton, being frequently of the parties. Hither, too, came
Professor Halley, the great astronomer, to meet his friends on his
weekly visit to London from Oxford, and Sir Hans Sloane, that
zealous collector of curiosities, was often to be met at the
Grecian. Nor did the house wholly lack patrons of the pen, for
Goldsmith, among others, used the resort quite frequently.

Goldsmith was also a faithful customer of George's coffee-house
which was situated close to the Grecian. This was one of the places
to which he had his letters addressed, and the house figures in one
of his essays as the resort of a certain young fellow who, whenever
he had occasion to "ask his friend for a guinea, used to prelude his
request as if he wanted two hundred, and talked so familiarly of
large sums" that no one would have imagined him ever to be in need
of small ones. It was the same young fellow at George's who,
whenever he wanted credit for a new suit from his tailor, used to
dress himself in laced clothes in which to give the order, for he
had found that to appear shabby on such occasions defeated the
purpose he had in view.

Most likely Goldsmith sketched his certain young fellow from life.
There was another frequenter of the place who would have provided an
original for another character study. This was that Sir James
Lowther, afterwards Earl of Lonsdale, of whom the story is told that
having one day changed a piece of silver in the coffee-house, and
paid twopence for his cup of coffee, he was helped into his carriage
and driven home, only to return a little later to call attention to
the fact that he had been given a bad halfpenny in his change and
demand another in exchange. All this was in keeping with the
character of the man, for despite the fact that he had an income of
forty thousand pounds a year, he was notorious for his miserly
conduct, and would not pay even his just debts.

There was another legend connected with George's which Horace
Walpole ought not to have destroyed. In telling a correspondent of
the amusement with which he had been reading Shenstone's letters, he
took occasion to characterize as vulgar and devoid of truth an
anecdote told of his father, Lord Orford. This was the story that
his father, "sitting in George's, was asked to contribute to a
figure of himself that was to be beheaded by the mob. I do remember
something like it," Walpole continued, "but it happened to myself. I
met a mob, just after my father was put out, in Hanover-square, and
drove up to it to know what was the matter. They were carrying about
a figure of my sister." Walpole traded so largely in traditional
stories himself that it was ungrateful of him to spoil so good a
one.

On the way to Bedford Street, where Wildman's coffee-house was
situated, the pilgrim will pass the site of the Somerset
coffee-house, which was notable in its day from the fact that some
of the letters of Junius were left here, the waiters being paid tips
for taking them in. Wildman's was notorious as being the favourite
headquarters of the supporters of John Wilkes, and hence the lines
of Churchill:

      "Each dish at Wildman's of sedition smacks;
   Blasphemy may be Gospel at Almacks.
      Peace, good Discretion, peace,--thy fears are vain;
   Ne'er will I herd with Wildman's factious train."


Among the notable coffee-houses of Covent Garden were the Bedford,
King's, Rawthmell's and Tom's. The first was situated under the
Piazza, and could count among its patrons Fielding, Pope, Sheridan,
Churchill, Garrick, Foote, Quinn, Collins, Horace Walpole and
others. Its characters, according to the Connoisseur, 'afforded a
greater variety of nearly the same type as those to be found at
George's. It was, this authority asserts, crowded every night with
men of parts. Almost every one to be met there was a polite scholar
and a wit. "Jokes and _bon mots_ are echoed from box to box;
every branch of literature is critically examined, and the merit of
every production of the press, or performance at the theatres,
weighed and determined. This school (to which. I am myself indebted
for a great part of my education, and in which, though unworthy, I
am now arrived at the honour of being a public lecturer) has bred up
many authors, to the amazing entertainment and instruction of their
readers."

But the Bedford coffee-house has a more sensational association. It
was here, according to Horace Walpole, that James Hackman spent his
last few hours of freedom ere he murdered Martha Ray as she was
leaving Covent Garden theatre on the night of April 17th, 1779. No
tragedy of that period caused so great a sensation. Miss Ray had for
some years been the mistress of the Earl of Sandwich, at whose house
Hackman first met and fell in love with her. There are good reasons
for believing that his love was returned for a time, but that
afterwards Miss Ray determined to continue in her irregular relation
with the nobleman. On learning that his suit was wholly hopeless,
Hackman conceived the plan which had so fatal an ending. The
question as to whether the fact that he provided himself with two
pistols was proof that he intended to take his own life as well as
that of Miss Ray was the theme of a warm discussion between Dr.
Johnson and his friend Beauclerk, the latter 'arguing that it was
not, and the former maintaining with equal confidence that it was.

King's coffee-house was nothing more than a humble shed, an early
representative of the peripatetic coffee-stall which is still a
common sight of London streets in the early morning. Kept by a
Thomas King who absconded from Eton because he feared that his
fellowship would be denied him, it was the resort of every rake
according to Fielding, and, in the phrase of another, was "well
known to all gentlemen to whom beds are unknown." On the other hand
Rawthmell's was an exceedingly fashionable house, and witnessed the
founding of the Society of Arts in 1754. It had another claim to
slight distinction as being the resort of Dr. John Armstrong, the
poet of the "Art of Preserving Health," and a man so generally
unsociable that one acquaintance described him as having a rooted
aversion against the whole human race, except a few friends, and
they were dead!

Judging from a poetical allusion of 1703, Tom's coffee-house was at
that time a political resort. A little later it was distinguished
for its fashionable gatherings after the theatre. A traveller
through England in 1722 records that at Tom's there was "playing at
Picket, and the best of conversation till midnight. Here you will
see blue and green ribbons and Stars sitting familiarly, and talking
with the same freedom as if they had left their quality and degrees
of distance at home." But the most interesting picture of this house
is given by William Till. He writes: "The house in which I reside
was the famous Tom's Coffee-House, memorable in the reign of Queen
Anne; and for more than half a century afterwards: the room in which
I conduct my business as a coin dealer is that which, in 1764, by a
guinea subscription among nearly seven hundred of the nobility,
foreign ministers, gentry, and geniuses of the age--was made the
card-room, and place of meeting for many of the now illustrious
dead, and remained so till 1768, when a voluntary subscription among
its members induced Mr. Haines, the then proprietor, to take in the
next door westward, as a coffee-room; and the whole floor _en_
suite was constructed into card and conversation rooms." It seems
that the house took its name originally from the first landlord, a
Captain Thomas West, who, driven distracted by the agony of gout,
committed suicide by throwing himself from his own windows.

Interesting, as has been seen, as are the associations which cluster
round the coffee-houses of this district already mentioned, their
fame is slight compared with the glory of the houses known as Will's
and Button's.

Macaulay has given us a glowing picture of the wits' room on the
first floor at Will's. Through the haze of tobacco smoke with which
he filled the apartment we can see earls, and clergymen, and
Templars, and university lads, and hack-workers. We can hear, too,
the animated tones in which discussions are being carried on,
discussions as to whether "Paradise Lost" should have been written
in rhyme, and many another literary question of little interest in
these modern days. But, after all, the eye does not seek out earls,
or clergy, or the rest; nor does the ear wish to fill itself with
the sound of their voices. There is but one face, but one voice at
Will's in which the interest of this time is as keen as the interest
of the seventeenth century. That face and voice were the face and
voice of John Dryden.

Exactly in what year Dryden first chose this coffee-house as his
favourite resort is unknown. He graduated at Cambridge in 1654, and
is next found in London lodging with a bookseller for whom he worked
as a hack-writer. By 1662 he had become a figure of some consequence
in London life, and a year later his first play was acted at the
King's theatre. Then, in the pages of Pepys, he is seen as the
centre of that group of the wits which he was to dominate for a
generation. "In Covent Garden to-night," wrote Pepys under the date
February 3rd, 1664, "going to fetch home my wife, I stopped at the
great Coffee-house there, where I never was before; where Dryden,
the poet, I knew at Cambridge, and all the wits of the town, and
Harris the player, and Mr. Hoole, of our college. And, had I had
time then, or could at other times, it will be good coming hither,
for there, I perceive, is very witty and pleasant discourse."

[Illustration: JOHN DRYDEN.]

With what persistence this tradition survived, the tradition of
Dryden as the arbiter of literary criticism at Will's is illustrated
by the story told by Dr. Johnson. When he was a young man he had a
desire to write the life of Dryden, and as a first step in the
gathering of his materials he applied to the 'only two persons then
alive who had known him, Swinney and Cibber. But all the assistance
the former could give him was to the effect that at Will's.
Coffee-house Dryden had a particular chair for himself, which was
set by the fire in winter, and removed to the balcony in summer; and
the extent of Cibber's information was that he remembered the poet
as a decent old man, judge of critical disputes at Will's. But
happily a more detailed picture of Dryden as the centre of the wits
at Will's has survived. On his first trip to London as a youth of
seventeen, Francis Lockier, the future dean of Peterborough,
although an odd-looking boy of awkward manners, thrust himself into
the coffee-house that he might gaze on the celebrated men of the
day. "The second time that ever I was there," Lockier said, "Mr.
Dryden was speaking of his own things, as he frequently did,
especially of such as had been lately published. 'If anything of
mine is good,' says he, ''tis Mac Flecknoe; and I value myself the
more upon it, because it is the first piece of ridicule written in
Heroics.' On hearing this, I plucked up my spirit to say, in a voice
just loud enough to be heard, that 'Mac Flecknoe was a very fine
poem; but that I had not imagined it to be the first that ever was
writ that way.' On this, Dryden turned short upon me, as surprised
at my interposing; asked how long I had been a dabbler in poetry;
and added, with a smile, 'Pray, sir, what is it that you did imagine
to have been writ so before? 'I named Boileau's _Lutrin_, and
Tassoni's Secchia _Rapita_, which I had read, and knew Dryden
had borrowed some strokes from each. ''Tis true,' said Dryden, 'I
had forgot them.' A little after Dryden went out, and in going spoke
to me again, and desired me to come and see him next day. I was
highly delighted with the invitation; went to see him accordingly,
and was well acquainted with him after, as long as he lived."

As a companion to this picture in prose there is the poetic vignette
which Prior and Montague inserted in their "Country Mouse and the
City Mouse," written in burlesque of Dryden's "Hind and Panther."

   "Then on they jogg'd; and since an hour of talk
    Might cut a banter on the tedious walk,
    As I remember, said the sober mouse,
    I've heard much talk of the Wits' Coffee-house;
    Thither, says Brindle, thou shalt go and see
    Priests supping coffee, sparks and poets tea;
    Here rugged frieze, there quality well drest,
    These baffling the grand Senior, those the Test,
    And there shrewd guesses made, and reasons given,
    That human laws were never made in heaven;
    But, above all, what shall oblige thy sight,
    And fill thy eyeballs with a vast delight,
    Is the poetic judge of sacred wit,
    Who does i' th' darkness of his glory sit;
    And as the moon who first receives the light,
    With which she makes these nether regions bright,
    So does he shine, reflecting from afar
    The rays he borrowed from a better star;
    For rules, which from Corneille and Rapin flow,
    Admired by all the scribbling herd below,
    From French tradition while he does dispense
    Unerring truths, 'tis schism, a damned offence,
    To question his, or trust your private sense."

Dryden appears to have visited Will's every day. His rule of life
was to devote his mornings to writing at home, where he also dined,
and then to spend the remainder of the day at the coffee-house,
which he did not leave till late. There came a night for the poet
when this regularity of habit had unpleasant consequences. A
Newsletter of December 23rd, 1679, tells the story: "On Thursday
night last Mr. Dryden, the poet, comeing from the coffee-house in
Covent Garden, was set upon by three or four fellows, and very
soarly beaten, but likewise very much cutt and wounded with a sword.
It is imagined that this has happened to him because of a late satyr
that is laid at his door, though he positively disowned it." The
compiler of that paragraph was correct in his surmise. The hired
ruffians who assaulted the solitary poet on that December night were
in the pay of Lord Rochester, who had taken umbrage at a publication
which, although not written by Dryden, had been printed with such a
title-page as suggested that it was his work. A reward of fifty
pounds was offered for the discovery of the perpetrators of this
outrage, but to no effect. Still it is some consolation to know that
the cowardly Rochester immediately fell under suspicion as the
author of the attack. Less reprehensible is the story told of a Mr.
Finch, "an ingenious young gentleman," who, nearly a decade later,
"meeting with Mr. Dryden in a coffee-house in London, publickly
before all the company wished him joy of his _new_ religion.
'Sir,' said Dryden, 'you are very much mistaken; my religion is the
old religion.' 'Nay,' replied the other, 'whatever it be in itself I
am sure 'tis new to you, for within these three days you had no
religion at all.'"

[Illustration: JOSEPH ADDISON.]

Dryden died in 1700 and for a time Will's maintained its position as
the resort of the poets. Did not Steele say that all his accounts of
poetry in the Tatler would appear under the name of that house? But
the supremacy of Will's was slowly undermined, so that even in the
Tatler the confession had soon to be made that the place was very
much altered since Dryden's time. The change had been for the worse.
"Where you used to see songs, epigrams, and satires in the hands of
every man you met, you now have only a pack of cards; and instead of
the cavils about the turn of the expression, the elegance of the
style, and the like, the learned now dispute only about the truth of
the game." This is all confirmed by that traveller who took notes in
London in 1722, and found there was playing at Picket at Will's
after the theatre.

Addison was the chief cause of this transformation. And Steele
helped him. The fact is that about 1713 Addison set up coffee-house
keeper himself. That is to say, he was the means of getting one
Daniel Button, once servant with the Countess of Warwick, to open
such an establishment in close proximity to Will's. For Addison to
remove his patronage from Will's to Button's meant the transference
of the allegiance of the wits of the town also, consequently it soon
became known that the wits were gone from the haunt of Dryden to the
new resort affected by Addison. And a close scrutiny of the pages of
the Guardian will reveal how adroitly Steele aided Addison's plan.
Thus, the issue of the Guardian for June 17th, 1713, was devoted to
the habits of coffee-house orators, and especially to the
objectionable practice so many had of seizing a button on a
listener's coat and twisting it off in the course of argument. This
habit, however, was more common in the city than in the West-end
coffee-houses; indeed, Steele added, the company at Will's was so
refined that one might argue and be argued with and not be a button
the poorer. All that delightful nonsense paved the way for a letter
in the next number of the Guardian, a letter purporting to come from
Daniel Button of Button's coffee-house.

[Illustration: SIR RICHARD STEELE.]

"I have observed," so ran the epistle, "that this day you made
mention of Will's Coffee-house, as a place where people are too
polite to hold a man in discourse by the button. Everybody knows
your honour frequents this house; therefore they will taken an
advantage against me, and say, if my company was as civil as that at
Will's, you would say so: therefore pray your honour do not be
afraid of doing me justice, because people would think it may be a
conceit below you on this occasion to name the name of Your humble
servant, Daniel Button." And then there is this naïve postscript:
"The young poets are in the back room, and take their places as you
directed."

Nor did that end the plot. A few days later Steele found another
occasion to mention Button's. His plan this time was to concoct a
letter from one Hercules Crabtree, who offered his services as
lion-catcher to the Guardian, and incidentally mentioned that he
already possessed a few trophies which, he wished to present to
Button's coffee-house. This lion business paved the way for
Addison's interference in the clever scheme to divert the wits from
Will's. Hence that paper of the Guardian which he wound up by
announcing that it was his intention to erect, as a letter-box for
the receipt of contributions, a lion's head in imitation of those he
had described in Venice, through which all the private intelligence
of that commonwealth was said to pass.

"This head," he explained, "is to open a most wide and voracious
mouth, which shall take in such letters and papers as are conveyed
to me by my correspondents, it being my resolution to have a
particular regard to all such matters as come to my hands through
the mouth of the lion. There will be under it a box, of which the
key will be kept in my own custody, to receive such papers as are
dropped into it. Whatever the lion swallows I shall digest for the
use of the public. This head requires some time to finish, the
workman being resolved to give it several masterly touches, and to
represent it as ravenous as possible. It will be set up in Button's
coffee-house in Covent-garden, who is directed to shew the way to
the lion's head, and to instruct young authors how to convey his
works into the mouth of it with safety and secrecy."

[Illustration: LION'S HEAD AT BUTTON'S COFFEE-HOUSE.]

That lion's head was no myth. A fortnight later the leonine
letter-box was actually placed in position at Button's, and, after
doing service there for some years, was used by Dr. Hill when
editing the Inspector. It was sold in 1804, the notice of the sale
in the Annual Register stating that "The admirable gilt lion's head
letter-box, which was formerly at Button's coffee-house, and in
which the valuable original copy of the Guardian was received, was
yesterday knocked down at the Shakespeare-tavern, Cove & Garden, to
Mr. Richardson, for seventeen pounds ten shillings." It changed
hands again in more recent times, and is now the property of the
Duke of Bedford, who preserves it at Woburn.

For some months after the installation of the lion's head at
Button's, constant references are made in the Guardian to that
unique letter-box, Addison being mainly responsible for the quaint
conceits which helped to keep attention on the house where it was
placed. In the final number of the Guardian there is a lively letter
in response to an attack on masquerading which had reached the
public via the lion's head. "My present business," the epistle ran,
"is with the lion; and since this savage has behaved himself so
rudely, I do by these presents challenge him to meet me at the next
masquerade, and desire you will give orders to Mr. Button to bring
him thither, in all his terrors, where, in defenee of the innocence
of these midnight amusements, I intend to appear against him, in the
habit of Signior Nicolimi, to try the merits of this cause by single
combat."

But Addison and his lion's head and Steele were not the only notable
figures to be seen at Button's. Pope was a constant visitor there,
as he was reminded by Cibber in his famous letter. Those were the
days when, in Cibber's phrase, the author of the "Dunciad" was
remarkable for his satirical itch of provocation, when there were
few upon whom he did not fall in some biting epigram. He so fell
upon Ambrose Philips, who forthwith hung a rod up in Button's, and
let Pope know that he would use it on him should he ever catch him
under that roof. The poet took a more than ample revenge in many a
stinging line of satire afterwards.

Pope was cut adrift from Button's through the controversy as to
which was the better version of the Iliad, his or Tickell's. As the
latter belonged to the Addisonian circle, the opinion at Button's
turned in favour of his version, especially as Addison himself
thought Tickell had more of Homer than Pope. This ended Pope's
patronage of Button's, and, indeed, it was not long ere the glory it
had known began to wane. Various causes combined to take away one
and another of its leading spirits, and when the much-talked-of
Daniel Button passed away in 1730 it was to a pauper's grave. Yet
farewell of so famous a house should not be made with so melancholy
a story. There is a brighter page in its history, which dates three
years earlier. Aaron Hill had been so moved by the misfortunes of
his brother poet, Richard Savage, that he had penned an appeal on
his behalf and arranged for subscriptions for a volume of his poems.
The subscriptions were to be left at Button's, and when Savage
called there a few days later he found a sum of seventy guineas
awaiting him. Hill may, as has been asserted, have been a bore of
the first water, but that kindly deed may stand him in stead of
genius.



CHAPTER IV.

FURTHER WEST.


Several favourite coffee-houses might once have been found in the
neighbourhood of Charing Cross. One of these bore the name of the
Cannon and was much frequented by John Philpot Curran, of whom it
was said "there never was so honest an Irishman," and Sir Jonas
Barrington, that other Irish judge who was at first intended for the
army, but who, on learning that the regiment to which he might be
appointed was likely to be sent to America for active service,
declined the commission, and requested that it might be bestowed on
"some hardier soldier." Evidently Sir Jonas desired no further
acquaintance with cannon than was involved in visiting the
coffee-house of that name. The legend is that he and Curran affected
one particular box at the end of the room, where they might be seen
almost any day.

[Illustration: BRITISH COFFEE-HOUSE.]

In the same vicinity, but close to the Thames-side, was the
coffee-house kept by Alexander Man, and known as Man's. The
proprietor had the distinction of being appointed "coffee, tea, and
chocolate-maker" to William III, which gave him a place in the vast
army of "By Appointment" tradesmen, and resulted further in his
establishment being sometimes described as the Royal Coffee-house.
This resort had a third title, Old Man's Coffee-house, to
distinguish it from the Young Man's, which was situated on the other
side of the street.

Of greater note than any of these was the British coffee-house which
stood in Cockspur Street. There is a record of its existence in
1722, and in 1759 it was presided over by the sister of Bishop
Douglas, who was described as "a person of excellent manners and
abilities." She was succeeded by a Mrs. Anderson, on whom the
enoomium was passed that she was "a woman of uncommon talents and
the most agreeable conversation." As the names of these ladies
suggest, they were of Scottish birth, and hence it is not surprising
to learn that their house was greatly in favour among visitors from
north of the Tweed. That the Scottish peers were sometimes to be
found here in great numbers is the only conclusion to be drawn from
an incident recorded by Horace Walpole. There was a motion before
the House of Lords for which the support of the Scots was required,
and the Duke of Bedford wrote to sixteen of their number to solicit
their votes, enclosing all the letters under one cover directed to
the British coffee-house. It was under this roof, too, that the
Scottish club called The Beeswing used to meet, one of whose members
was Lord Campbell, that legal biographer who shared with most of his
countrymen the ability of "getting on." The club in question
consisted of about ten members, and the agreement was to meet once a
month at the British coffee-house to dine and drink port wine. The
other members included Spankie, Dr. Haslam, author of several works
on insanity, Andrew Grant, a merchant of considerable literary
acquirements, and George Gordon, known about town as "the man of
wit." The conversation is described as being as good as any to be
enjoyed anywhere in the London of that day, and the drinking was
voted "tremendous." The last-named fact is one illustration out of
many that during the latter years of their existence the
coffee-houses of London did not by any means confine their liquors
to the harmless beverage from which they took their name.

[Illustration: SLAUGHTER'S COFFEE-HOUSE.]

Among the earliest coffee-houses to be established in the West-end
of London was that opened by Thomas Slaughter in St. Martin's Lane
in 1692 and known as Slaughter's. It remained under the oversight of
Mr. Slaughter until his death in 1740, and continued to enjoy a
prosperous career for nearly a century longer, when the house was
torn down. The bulk of its customers were artists, and the famous
men numbered among them included Wilkie, Wilson, and Roubiliac. But
the most pathetic figure associated with its history is that of
Abraham De Moivre, that French mathematician who became the friend
of Newton and Leibnite. Notwithstanding his wonderful abilities he
was driven to support himself by the meagre pittances earned by
teaching and by solving problems in chess at Slaughter's. In his
last days sight and hearing both failed, and he finally died of
somnolence, twenty hours' sleep becoming habitual with him. By the
time of De Moivre's death, or shortly after, the character of the
frequenters of Slaughter's underwent a change, for when Goldsmith
alluded to the house in 1758 it was to make the remark that if a man
were passionate "he may vent his rage among the old orators at
Slaughter's Coffee-house, and damn the nation, because it keeps him
from starving."

Politics and literature were the topics most under discussion at the
Smyrna coffee-house which had its location on the north side of Pall
Mall. It makes its appearance in an early number of the Tatler,
where reference is made to "that cluster of wise heads" that might
be found "sitting every evening from the left hand side of the fire,
at the Smyrna, to the door." Five months later Steele entered into
fuller particulars.

"This is to give notice," he wrote, "to all ingenious gentlemen in
and about the cities of London and Westminster, who have a mind to
be instructed in the noble sciences of music, poetry, and politics,
that they repair to the Smyrna coffee-house in Pall-mall, betwixt
the hours of eight and ten at night, where they may be instructed
gratis, with elaborate essays, by word of mouth on all or any of the
above-mentioned arts. The disciples are to prepare their bodies with
three dishes of bohea, and purge their brains with two pinches of
snuff. If any young student gives indication of parts, by listening
attentively, or asking a pertinent question, one of the professors
shall distinguish him, by taking snuff out of his box in the
presence of the whole audience." And the further direction is given
that "the seat of learning is now removed from the corner of the
chimney on the left towards the window, to the round table in the
middle of the floor over against the fire; a revolution much
lamented by the porters and chairmen, who were much edified through
a pane of glass that remained broken all last summer."

That Steele and Addison knew their Smyrna well may be inferred from
their familiar references to the house, and there are equal proofs
that Swift and Prior were often within its doors. The Journal to
Stella has many references to visits from the poet and the satirist,
such as, "The evening was fair, and I walked a little in the Park
till Prior made me go with him to the Smyrna Coffee-house, where I
sat a while, and saw four or five Irish persons, who are very
handsome, genteel fellows, but I know not their names." From Prior's
pen there is an allusion to be found in the manuscripts of the
Marquis of Bath in a letter the poet addressed to Lord Harley from
London in the winter of 1719. Prior was lying low on that visit to
town, for the main purpose of his presence was medicinal. "I have
only seen Brown, the surgeon," he writes, "to whom, I have made an
_auricular confession_, and from him have received _extreme
unction_, and applied it, which may soften the obduracy of my
ear, and make it capable of receiving the impression of ten thousand
lies which will be poured into it as soon as I shall take my seat at
the Smyrna."

Two other figures not unknown to fame haunt the shades of the
Smyrna, Beau Nash and Thomson of the "Seasons." It is Goldsmith who
tells of the first that he used to idle for a day at a time in the
window of the Smyrna to receive a bow from the Prince of Wales or
the Duchess of Marlborough as they drove by; and of the second is it
not on record that he in person took subscriptions at the Smyrna for
the "Four Seasons?"

In the Cocoa-Tree Club of to-day may be found the direct
representative of the most famous Tory chocolate-house of the reign
of Queen Anne. It had its headquarters first in Pall Mall, but
removed not long after to St. James's Street, the Mecca of clubland
at the present time. Perhaps the best picture of the house and its
ways is that given by Gibbon, who in his journal for November 24th,
1762, wrote: "I dined at the Cocoa-Tree with ------, who, under a
great appearance of oddity, conceals more real humour, good sense,
and even knowledge, than half those who laugh at him. We went thence
to the play, the 'Spanish Friar,' and when it was over, retired to
the Cocoa-Tree. That respectable body, of which I have the honour of
being a member, affords every evening a sight truly English; twenty,
or perhaps thirty, of the first men in the kingdom in point of
fashion and fortune, supping at little tables covered with a napkin
in the middle of a coffee room, upon a bit of cold meat or a
sandwich, and drinking a glass of punch. At present we are full of
King's Councillors and Lords of the Bedchamber, who, having jumped
into the ministry, make a very singular medley of their old
principles and language with their modern one." It is easy to infer
from Gibbon's account, what was a fact, that by his time the house
had been turned into a club, the use of which was restricted to
members, as at the present time. The change was made before 1746,
when the Cocoa-Tree was the rendezvous of the Jacobites. One of the
most curious features of the present premises is a carved palm-tree
which is thrust up through the centre of the front rooms on the
first and second floors. What its age is no one knows, nor who was
responsible for the freak of botanical knowledge implied by
utilizing a palm-tree as symbolical of cocoa.

Soon after the transformation of the house into a club it became
notorious for the high play which went on under the shadow of the
palm-tree. Walpole, for example, tells the story of a gamble between
an Irish gamester named O'Birne and a young midshipman named Harvey
who had just fallen heir to a large estate by his brother's death.
The stake was for one hundred thousand pounds, and when O'Birne won
he said, "You can never pay me." But the youth replied, "I can, my
estate will sell for the debt." O'Birne, however, had some scruples
left, so said he would be content with ten thousand pounds, and
suggested another throw for the balance. This time Harvey won, and
it would be interesting to know that the lesson had not been lost.
But Walpole does not throw any light on that matter.

Another lively scene took place under the palm-tree of the
Cocoa-Tree late in the eighteenth century. The principal figure on
that occasion was Henry Bate, that militant editor of the Morning
Post whose duel at the Adelphi has already been recorded. It seems
that Mr. Bate, who, by the way, held holy orders, and eventually
became a baronet under the name of Dudley, was at Vauxhall one
evening with a party of ladies, when Fighting Fitzgerald and several
companions met them and indulged in insults. An exchange of cards
followed, and a meeting was arranged for the following morning at
the Cocoa-Tree to settle details of the inevitable duel. Fitzgerald,
however, was late, and by the time he arrived apologies had been
tendered and accepted by Mr. Bate. When Fitzgerald arrived on the
scene with a Captain Miles he insisted on a boxing-match with the
supposed captain, who, he affirmed, had been among the assailants of
the previous night. Mr. Bate objected, inasmuch as he did not
recognize Mr. Miles, and moreover scouted the indignity of settling
such a matter with fists. He was willing to decide the dispute with
sword or pistol. Fitzgerald, however, roused Bate's ire by dubbing
him a coward. After that it did not take many minutes to form a ring
under the shade of the palm-tree, and in less than a quarter of an
hour the "coward" had pulverized Captain Miles in an eminently
satisfactory manner.

Earlier and more sedate references to the Cocoa-Tree are in
existence, There is, for example, a letter from General William
Stewart, of October 27th, 1716, addressed to the father of William
Pitt, placing this incident on record: "The other night, at the
Cocoa-Tree, I saw Colonel Pitt and your brother-in-law Chomeley. The
former made me a grave bow without speaking, which example I
followed. I suppose he is directed to take no notice of me." Nor
should the lively episode placed to the credit of a spark of the
town in 1726 be overlooked. "The last masquerade," says a letter of
that period, "was fruitful of quarrels. Young Webb had quarrelled at
the Cocoa-Tree with Oglethorp, and struck him with his cane; they
say the quarrel was made up." But "Young Webb" was evidently
spoiling that night for more adventures, for while still in his cups
he went to the masquerade and, meeting a German who had a mask with
a great nose, he asked him what he did with such an ornament, pulled
it off and slapped his face. "He was carried out by six grenadiers,"
is the terse climax of the story.

Florio was, of course, a frequenter of the Cocoa-Tree. And that his
manners there as elsewhere must have been familiar is illustrated by
the fact that one of the waiters addressed an epistle to him in the
following terms: "Sam, the waiter at the Cocoa-Tree, presents his
compliments to the Prince of Wales." The rebuke was characteristic:
"You see, Sam, this may be very well between you and me, but it
would never do with the Norfolks and Arundels!"

Of course the house has its George Selwyn story. An American captain
began it by asserting that in his country hot and cold springs were
often found side by side, which was convenient, for fish could be
caught in the one and boiled in the other in a few minutes. The
story was received as belonging to the "tall" order, until Selwyn
gravely accepted it as true, because at Auvergne he had met a
similar experience, with the addition that there was a third spring
which supplied parsley and butter for the sauce.

Just as the Tories were faithful to the Cocoa-Tree, so the Whigs
were stout in their loyalty to the St. James's coffee-house nearby.
This was the resort named by Steele as the origin of the political
news served up in the Tatler, and it was favoured with many
references in the Spectator of Addison, The latter gives an amusing
account of a general shiftround of the servants of the house owing
to the resignation of one of their number, and in a later paper,
devoted to coffee-house speculations on the death of the King of
France, he gives the place of honour to the Whig resort as providing
the most reliable information. "That I might be as near the
fountain-head as possible, I first of all called at St. James's,
where I found the whole outward room in a buzz of politics. The
speculations were but very indifferent towards the door, but grew
finer as you advanced to the upper end of the room, and were so very
much improved by a knot of theorists, who sat in the inner room,
within the steams of the coffee-pot, that I there heard the whole
Spanish monarchy disposed of, and all the line of Bourbon provided
for in less than a quarter of an hour."

Politics, however, did not claim all the interest of the frequenters
of the St. James's. Verdicts were passed upon the literary products
of the day in much the same manner as at Button's, and it should not
be forgotten that Goldsmith's "Retaliation" had its origin at a
meeting at this house.

[Illustration: OLD PALACE YARD, WESTMINSTER]

To judge from their present-day dignified appearance, no one would
imagine that the Old Palace and the New Palace Yards at Westminster
ever tolerated such mundane things as coffee-houses and taverns
within their precincts. The evidence of history, however, shows that
at one time there were numerous establishments of both kinds
situated under the shadow of Westminster Hall and the Abbey. A
drawing not more than a century old shows several such buildings,
and the records of the city enumerate public houses of the sign of
the Coach and Horses, and the Royal Oak, and the White Rose as being
situated in the Old Palace Yard, while the coffee-houses there
included Waghorne's and Oliver's. Nor was it different with New
Palace Yard. In the latter were to be found Miles's coffee-house and
the Turk's Head, both associated with James Harrington, that early
republican whose "Oceana" got him into so much trouble. One story
credits Cromwell with having seized the manuscript of that work, and
with its restoration having been effected by Elizabeth Clay-pole,
the favourite daughter of the Protector, whom Harrington is said to
have playfully threatened with the theft of her child if her father
did not restore his. The author of "Oceana" seems to have thought
the occasion of Cromwell's death a favourable one for the discussion
of his political theories, and hence the Rota club he founded, which
used to meet at Miles's. Aubrey gives a vivid account of the room at
the coffee-house where the club met, with its "large oval-table,
with a passage in the middle for Miles to deliver his coffee. About
it sat his disciples and the virtuosi. Here we had (very formally) a
ballotting box, and ballotted how things should be carried by way of
Tentamens. The room was every evening full as it could be crammed."
But when it became obvious that the Restoration would soon be an
accomplished fact the meetings at Miles's came to a sudden end. And
shortly after, Harrington was committed to the Tower to meditate
upon ideal commonwealths amid less congenial surroundings.

Westminster Hall itself had a coffee-house at the beginning of the
last century. It was named Alice's, presumably after the proprietor,
and was on one occasion the scene of a neat version of the
confidence trick. The coffee-house was used almost entirely by
barristers engaged in the different courts of law then held in
Westminster Hall, and they availed themselves of the house for
robing before going to the courts, and as the storeroom of their
wigs and gowns when the business of the day was ended. Armed with
this knowledge, a needy individual by the name of William Lill
applied to the waiter at Alice's, and made a request for a Mr.
Clarke's gown and wig, saying that he had been sent by a well-known
lawyers' wig-maker and dresser. It happened, however, that Mr.
Clarke's clerk had a little before fetched away the wig and gown Mr.
Lill was so anxious to receive. But when the waiter imparted that
information he did not lose his self-possession. He also wanted, he
said, Mr. Ellison's wig and gown. Taken with the man's knowledge of
the barrister's names, the waiter not only handed over the wig and
gown, but also informed the obliging Mr. Lill that when Mr. Ellison
was last in court he had left his professional coat and waistcoat at
the coffee-house; perhaps Mr. Lill would take those too. Mr. Lill
readily obliged, and disappeared. Later in the day the waiter's wits
began to work. Being, too, in the neighbourhood of the wig-maker's
shop, it occurred to him to drop in. There he learnt that no Mr.
Lill had been sent for any wigs or gowns. The alarmed waiter next
proceeded to Mr. Ellison's office, to learn there that no messenger
had been sent to Alice's. At this stage the waiter, as he
subsequently confessed, had no doubt but that Mr. Lill was "an
impostor." Mr. Lill was more. He was courageous. Having secured his
prey so simply on the one day, he came back on another, trusting, no
doubt, that his waiter friend would be as obliging as before. But it
was not to be; a few questions confirmed the waiter's suspicions
that Mr. Lill really was "an impostor;" and a police-officer
finished the story. One feels rather sorry for Mr. Lill. Of course
it was wrong of him to annex those wigs and gowns, and sell them for
theatrical "properties," but it is impossible not to admire the
pluck of a man who stole from a lawyer in the precincts of a
lawcourt. Alice's deserves immortality if only for having been the
scene of that unique exploit.

By far the most curious of the coffee-houses of old London was that
known as Don Saltero's at Chelsea. There was nothing of the don
really about the proprietor, whose unadorned name was James Salter.
The prefix and the affix were bestowed by one of his customers,
Vice-Admiral Munden, who, having cruised much upon the coast of
Spain, acquired a weakness for Spanish titles, and bestowed a
variant of one on the Chelsea coffee-house keeper.

That same Mr. Salter was an odd character. Not content with serving
dishes of coffee, nor with drawing people's teeth and cutting their
hair, he indulged in attempts at fiddle-playing and set up a museum
in his house.

[Illustration: DON SALTERO'S COFFEE-HOUSE.]

Steele's description of a visit to this manysided resort is by far
the best picture of its owner and its contents. "When I came into
the coffee-house," he wrote, "I had not time to salute the company,
before my eye was diverted by ten thousand gimcracks round the room,
and on the ceiling. When my first astonishment was over, comes to me
a sage of thin and meagre countenance; which, aspect made me doubt,
whether reading or fretting had made it so philosophic: but I very
soon perceived him to be of that sect which the ancients call
Gingivistæ; in our language, tooth-drawers. I immediately had a
respect for the man; for these practical philosophers go upon a very
rational hypothesis, not to cure, but to take away the part
affected." And then follows that delightful dissertation which
linked Mr. Salter in the line of succession with the barber of Don
Quixote. But Steele could not forgive the Chelsea barber and
coffee-house keeper one thing. "I cannot allow the liberty he takes
of imposing several names (without my license) on the collections he
has made, to the abuse of the good people of England; one of which
is particularly calculated to deceive religious persons, to the
great scandal of the well-disposed, and may introduce heterodox
opinions. He shews you a straw hat, which I know to be made by Madge
Peskad, within three miles of Bedford; and tells you, 'It is Pontius
Pilate's wife's chambermaid's sister's hat.' To my knowledge of this
very hat it may be added, that the covering of straw was never used
among the Jews, since it was demanded of them to make bricks without
it."

Don Saltero had a poetic catalogue of his curiosities, of which one
verse ran:

  "Monsters of all sorts here are seen,
    Strange things in nature as they grew so;
  Some relics of the Sheba Queen,
    And fragments of the famed Bob Crusoe."

These treasures, however, could not avert the fate which was due to
befall the house on January 8th, 1799, when the lease of the
building and all within were disposed of by public sale. A
philosophic journalist, not possessing Steele's sense of humour,
gravely remarked of the Don's gimcracks that they, with kindred
collections, helped to cherish the infancy of science, and deserved
to be appreciated as the playthings of a boy after he is arrived at
maturity. Happily the Don himself did not survive to see his
precious treasures fetch less than ten shillings a-piece.



III.

THE CLUBS OF OLD LONDON.



CHAPTER I.

LITERARY.


Pending the advent of a philosophical historian who will explain the
psychological reason why the eighteenth century was distinguished
above all others in the matter of clubs, the fact is to be noted in
all its baldness that the majority of those institutions which are
famous in the annals of old London had their origin during that
hundred years. One or two were of earlier date, but those which made
a noise in the world and which for the most part survive to the
present time were founded at the opening of the eighteenth century
or later in its course.

Although the exact date of the establishment of the Kit-Cat club has
never been decided, the consensus of opinion fixes the year
somewhere about 1700. More debatable, however, is the question of
its peculiar title. The most recent efforts to solve that riddle
leave it where the contemporary epigram left it:

  "Whence deathless Kit-Cat took his name,
    Few critics can unriddle;
  Some say from pastry-cook it came,
    And some from Cat and Fiddle.
  From no trim beaus its name it boasts,
    Gray statesmen or green wits;
  But from this pell-mell pack of toasts
    Of old Cats and young Kits."

Equally undecided is the cause of its origin. Ned Ward, however, had
no doubts on that score. That exceedingly frank and coarse historian
of the clubs of London attributed the origin of the club to the
astuteness of Jacob Tonson the publisher. That "amphibious mortal,"
according to Ward, having a sharp eye to his own interests,
"wriggled himself into the company of a parcel of poetical young
sprigs, who had just weaned themselves of their mother university"
and, having more wit, than experience, "put but a slender value, as
yet, upon their maiden performances." Paced with this golden
opportunity to attach a company of authors to his establishment, the
alert Tonson baited his trap with mutton pies. In other words,
according to Ward, he invited the poetical young sprigs to a
"collation of oven-trumpery" at the establishment of one named
Christopher, for brevity called Kit, who was an expert in pastry
delicacies. The ruse succeeded; the poetical young sprigs came in a
band; they enjoyed their pies; and when Tonson proposed a weekly
meeting of a similar kind, on the understanding that the poetical
young sprigs "would do him the honour to let him have the refusal of
all their juvenile products," there was no dissentient voice. And
thus the Kit-Cat club came into life.

Some grains of truth may be embedded in this fanciful narrative.
Perhaps the inception of the club may have been due to Tonson's
astuteness from a business point of view; but at an early stage of
the history of the club it became a more formidable institution. Its
membership quickly comprised nearly fifty nobles and gentlemen and
authors, all of whom found a bond of interest in their profession of
Whig principles and devotion to the House of Hanover, shortly to be
established on the throne of England in the person of George I.
Indeed, one poetical epigram on the institution specifically
entitles it the "Hanover Club."

It seems that the earliest meetings of the club were held at an
obscure tavern in Shire Lane, which no longer exists, but ran
parallel with Chancery Lane near Temple-bar. This was the tavern
kept by Christopher Cat, and when he removed to the Fountain tavern
in the Strand the club accompanied. Its principle place of meeting,
however, was at the mansion of Tonson at Barn Elms, where a room was
specially built for its accommodation. The dimensions of this room
were responsible for the application of the term Kit-Cat to
portraits of a definite size. Thus, on the suggestion of Tonson the
portraits of the members were painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller for the
bookseller, but as the walls of the room at Barn Elms were not lofty
enough to accommodate full-lengths, the painter reverted to a canvas
measuring thirty-six by twenty-eight inches, a size of portrait
which preserves the name of Kit-Cat to this day.

Apart from its influence on the nomenclature of art, the club is
memorable for the additions it caused to be made to the poetic
literature of England. One of the customs of the club was to toast
the reigning beauties of the day regularly after dinner, and the
various poets among its members were called upon to cast those
toasts in the form of verse, which were afterwards engraved on the
toasting-glasses of the club. Addison was responsible for one of
those tributes, his theme being the Lady Manchester:

  "While haughty Gallia's dames, that spread
  O'er their pale cheeks an artful red,
  Beheld this beauteous stranger there,
  In native charms divinely fair;
  Confusion in their looks they show'd;
  And with unborrow'd blushes glow'd."

But the Earl of Halifax and Sir Samuel Garth were the most prolific
contributors to Kit-Cat literature, the former being responsible for
six and the latter for seven poetical toasts. For the Duchess of St.
Albans, Halifax wrote this tribute:

  "The line of Vere, so long renown'd in arms,
  Concludes with lustre in St. Albans charms.
  Her conquering eyes have made their race complete;
  They rose in valour, and in beauty set."

To the Duchess of Beaufort these lines were addressed:

  "Offspring of a tuneful sire,
  Blest with more than mortal fire;
  Likeness of a mother's face,
  Blest with more than mortal grace;
  You with double charms surprise,
  With his wit, and with her eyes."

Next came the turn of Lady Mary Churchill:

  "Fairest and latest of the beauteous race,
  Blest with your parent's wit, and her first blooming face;
  Born with our liberties in William's reign,
  Your eyes alone that liberty restrain."

Other ladies celebrated by Halifax included the Duchess of Richmond,
Lady Sutherland, and Mademoiselle Spanheime. To Garth fell the task
of singing the attractions of Lady Carlisle, Lady Essex, Lady Hyde,
and Lady Wharton, the first three have two toasts each. Perhaps the
most successful of his efforts was the toast to Lady Hyde.

  "The god of wine grows jealous of his art,
  He only fires the head, but Hyde the heart.
  The queen of love looks on, and smiles to see
  A nymph more mighty than a deity."

Whether the businesslike Tonson derived much profit from his
contract with the poetical young sprigs does not transpire; it is of
moment, however, to recall that the members of the club did
something to encourage literature. They raised a sum of four hundred
guineas to be offered as prizes for the best comedies. It may be
surmised that Thomas D'Urfey stood no chance of winning any of those
prizes, for he was too much of a Tory to please the Kit-Cat members.
Hence the story which tells how the members requested Mr. Cat to
bake some of his pies with D'Urfey's works under them. And when they
complained that the pies were not baked enough, the pastrycook made
the retort that D'Urfey's works were so cold that the dough could
not bake for them.

For all their devotion to literature, the Kit-Cats did not forget to
eat, drink, and be merry. That their gatherings were convivial
enough is illustrated by the anecdote of Sir Samuel Garth, physician
to George I as well as poet. He protested at one meeting that he
would have to leave early to visit his patients. But the evening
wore on and still he stayed, until at length Steele reminded him of
his engagements. Whereupon Garth pulled out a list of fifteen
patients, and remarked, "It matters little whether I see them or not
to-night. Nine or ten are so bad that all the doctors in the world
could not save them, and the remainder have such tough constitutions
that no doctors are needed by them." It is to be hoped that the
bottle had not circulated so freely on that evening when the little
girl who afterwards became Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was ushered
into the presence of the members. Her proud father, Lord Kingston,
nominated her as a toast, but as the members protested that they did
not know her, the child was sent for on the spot. On her arrival the
little beauty was elected by acclamation. That triumph, she
afterwards declared, was the happiest hour of her life.

Despite the fact that it had no formal constitution, and that
membership therein depended upon a lady's favour, the Blue-Stocking
Club was too important a factor in the literary life of old London
to be overlooked. It owed its existence to Elizabeth Robinson, who
as the wife of Edward Montagu found herself in the possession of the
worldly means essential to the establishment of a literary salon. It
had its origin in a series of afflictions. Mrs. Montagu first lost
her only child, and shortly after her mother and favourite brother.
These bereavements put her on the track of distractions, and a visit
to Bath, where she made the acquaintance of the poet Young, appears
to have suggested that she would find relief from her sorrows in
making her house in London a meeting-place for the intellectual
spirits of the capital. At first she confined her enterprise to the
giving of literary breakfasts, but these were soon followed by
evening assemblies of a more pretentious nature, known as
"conversation parties." The lady was particular to whom she sent her
invitations. In a letter to Garrick, inviting him to give a recital,
she wrote: "You will find here some friends, and all you meet must
be your admirers, for I never invite Idiots to my house." Unless
when Garrick or some famous French actor was invited to give a
recital, no diversion of any kind was allowed at these gatherings;
card-playing was not tolerated, and the guests were supposed to find
ample enjoyment in the discussion of bookish topics.

Why Mrs. Montagu's assemblies were dubbed the Blue-Stocking Club has
never been definitely decided. On the one hand the term is supposed
to have originated from the fact that Benjamin Stillingfleet, taking
advantage of the rule which stipulated that full dress was optional,
always attended in blue worsted instead of black silk stockings. But
the other theory derives the name from the fact that the ladies who
frequented the gatherings wore "blue stockings as a distinction" in
imitation of a fashionable French visitor of the time.

Plenty of ridicule was bestowed upon Mrs. Montagu and her
"conversation parties," but there SEEMS some truth in the contention
of Hannah More that those "blue-stocking" meetings did much to
rescue fashionable life from the tyranny of whist and quadrille.
Whether Mrs. Montagu really possessed any literary ability is a
matter which does not call for discussion at this late hour, but it
is something to her credit that she was able to attract under her
roof such men as Horace Walpole, Dr. Johnson, Burke, Garrick,
Reynolds, and many other conspicuous figures of the late eighteenth
century. The hostess may have wished her guests to credit her with
greater knowledge than she really had; Johnson said she did not know
Greek, and had but a slight knowledge of Latin, though she was
willing her friends should imagine she was acquainted with both; but
the same authority was willing to admit that she was a very
extraordinary woman, and that her conversation always had meaning.
But, as usual, we must turn to a member of her own sex for the last
word in the matter. Fanny Burney met her frequently, and made
several recording entries in her diary. Here is the first vignette:
"She is middle-sized, very thin, and looks infirm; she has a
sensible and penetrating countenance, and the air and manner of a
woman accustomed to being distinguished, and of great parts. Dr.
Johnson, who agrees in this, told us that a Mrs. Hervey, of his
acquaintance, says she can remember Mrs. Montagu _trying_ for
this same air and manner. Mr. Crisp has said the same: however,
nobody can now impartially see her, and not confess that she has
extremely well succeeded." And later there is this entry: "We went
to dinner, my father and I, and met Mrs. Montagu, in good spirits,
and very unaffectedly agreeable. No one was there to awaken
ostentation, no new acquaintance to require any surprise from her
powers; she was therefore natural and easy, as well as informing and
entertaining."

Almost to the end of her long life Mrs. Montagu maintained her
Blue-Stocking Club. So late as 1791, when she had reached her
seventy-first year, she gave a breakfast of which Fanny Burney
wrote: "The crowd of company was such that we could only slowly make
our way in any part. There could not be fewer than four or five
hundred people. It was like a full Ranelagh by daylight." That other
breakfast-giver, Samuel Rogers, who only knew Mrs. Montagu towards
the close of her life, described her as "a composition of art" and
as one "long attached to the trick and show of life." But the most
diverting picture of the Queen of the Blue-Stockings was given by
Richard Cumberland in a paper of the Observer. In answer to one of
her invitation cards he arrived at her salon before the rest of the
company, and had opportunity to observe that several new
publications, stitched in blue paper, were lying on the table, with
scraps of paper stuck between the leaves, as if to mark where the
hostess had left off reading. Vanessa, for under that title did
Cumberland present Mrs. Montagu, entered the room shortly
afterwards, dressed in a petticoat embroidered with the ruins of
Palmyra. The lady is made to mistake the author for the inventor of
a diving-bell, and to address him accordingly, with delightful
results. The various visitors are described in the same humourous
manner, and then comes the climax. "Vanessa now came up, and
desiring leave to introduce a young muse to Melpomene, presented a
girl in a white frock with a fillet of flowers twined round her
hair, which hung down her back in flowing curls; the young muse made
a low obeisance in the style of an oriental Salaam, and with the
most unembarrassed voice and countenance, while the poor actress was
covered with blushes, and suffering torture from the eyes of all the
room, broke forth as follows." But the recorder of that particular
meeting of the Blue-Stocking Club could endure no more. He fled the
house as hastily as though he had just learnt it was infected with
the plague.

Although several lists are printed which profess to give the names
of "the principal clubs of London," they may be searched in vain for
that one which can rightly claim to be The Club. Nevertheless,
ignorance of its existence can hardly be reckoned a reproach in view
of the confession of Tennyson. When asked by a member, the Duke of
Argyll, to allow him to place his name in nomination, Tennyson
rejoined, "Before answering definitely, I should like to know
something about expenses. 'The Club?' It is either my fault or my
misfortune that I have never heard of it." When the poet made that
confession he was in his fifty-sixth year, and up to that time,
apparently, had not read his Boswell. Or if he had, he was not aware
that the club Reynolds had founded in 1764 under the name of The
Club, of which the title had subsequently been changed to the
Literary Club, still existed under its original designation.

Another fact is likely to confuse the historian of this club unless
he is careful. Owing to the fact that Dr. Johnson was one of the
original members, and dominated its policy after his usual
autocratic manner, it is sometimes known as Dr. Johnson's Club.
However, there is no disputing the fact that the credit of its
origin belongs to the "dear knight of Plympton," as the great
painter was called by one of his friends. The idea of its
establishment at once won the approval of Johnson, and it started on
its illustrious career having as its members those two and Edmund
Burke, Dr. Nugent, Topham Beauclerk, Bennet Langton, Oliver
Goldsmith, Anthony Chamier and Sir John Hawkins. Soon after its
foundation, the number of members was increased to twelve, then it
was enlarged to twenty, and subsequently to twenty-six, then to
thirty, and finally to thirty-five with a proviso that the total
should never exceed forty.

To set forth a list of the members of The Club from 1764 to the
present year would be to write down the names of many of the men
most eminent in English history. In Boswell's time those who had
been admitted to its select circle included David Garrick, Adam
Smith, Edward Gibbon, Sir William Jones, Sir William Hamilton,
Charles James Fox, Bishop Percy, Dr. Joseph Warton, and Richard
Brinsley Sheridan. In more modern days the members have included
Tennyson, Macaulay, Huxley, Gladstone, Lord Acton, Lord Dufferin, W.
H. E. Lecky and Lord Salisbury. The limit of membership is still
maintained; it is yet the rule that one black ball will exclude; and
the election of a member is still announced in the stilted form
which Gibbon drafted by way of a joke: "Sir, I have the pleasure to
inform you that you had last night the honour to be elected as a
member of The Club."

As The Club had no formal constitution it was an easy matter to
regulate its gatherings by the convenience of the members. Thus, at
first the meetings were held at seven on Monday evenings, then the
day was changed to Friday, and afterwards it was resolved to come
together once a fortnight during the sitting of Parliament. Although
admission was so strictly guarded that its membership was accounted
a rare honour, The Club does not appear to have been in a
flourishing condition in its second decade. Otherwise Beauclerk
would hardly have written, "Our club has dwindled away to nothing;
nobody attends but Mr. Chamier, and he is going to the East Indies.
Sir Joshua and Goldsmith have got into such a round of pleasures
that they have no time." Two or three years later Edmund Malone, the
literary critic and Shakesperian scholar, was moving heaven and
earth to secure his own election. "I have lately," he wrote to a
member, "made two or three attempts to get into your club, but have
not yet been able to succeed--though I have some friends
there--Johnson, Burke, Steevens, Sir J. Reynolds and Marlay--which
in so small a society is a good number. At first they said, I think,
they thought it a respect to Garrick's memory not to elect one for
some time in his room--which (in any one's case but my own I should
say) was a strange kind of motive--for the more agreeable he was,
the more need there is of supplying the want, by some substitute or
other. But as I have no pretensions to ground even a hope upon, of
being a succedaneum to such a man--the argument was decisive and I
could say nothing to it. 'Anticipation' Tickell and J. Townshend are
candidates as well as myself--and they have some thoughts of
enlarging their numbers; so perhaps we may be all elected together.
I am not quite so anxious as Agmondisham Vesey was, who, I am told,
had couriers stationed to bring him the quickest intelligence of his
success."

Malone appears to have thought that it was a mere subterfuge to
instance the death of Garrick as a reason for not electing him. But
it was nothing of the kind. The Club did actually impose upon itself
a year's widowhood, so to speak, when Garrick died. And yet his
election had not been an easy matter. That was largely his own
fault. When Reynolds first mentioned The Club to him, he ejaculated
in his airy manner, "I like it much; I think I shall be of you." Of
course Reynolds reported the remark to Johnson, with a result
that might have been anticipated. "_He'll_ be of _us_," Johnson
repeated, and then added, "How does he know we will _permit_
him? The first duke in England has no right to hold such language."
Other recorders of Johnson's conversation credit him with
threatening to black-ball the actor, and with the expression of the
wish that he might have one place of resort where he would be free
of the company of the player. Whatever Johnson's attitude was, the
fact remains that Garrick's election was opposed for a considerable
time, though when he was made a member he approved himself a welcome
addition to the circle.

Unconsciously amusing is the account Boswell gives of his own
election. The Club had been in existence some nine years when the
fatal night of the balloting arrived. Beauclerk had a dinner party
at his house before the club-meeting, and when he and the other
members left for the ceremony the anxious Boswell was committed to
the hospitality of Lady Di, whose "charming conversation" was not
entirely adequate to keep up his spirits. In a short time, however,
the glad tidings of his election came, and the fussy little Scotsman
hurried off to the place of meeting to be formally received. It is
impossible to read without a smile the swelling sentences with which
he closes his narrative. He was introduced "to such a society as can
seldom be found. Mr. Edmund Burke, whom I then saw for the first
time, and whose splendid talents had long made me ardently wish for
his acquaintance; Dr. Nugent, Mr. Garrick, Dr. Goldsmith, Mr.
(afterwards Sir William) Jones, and the company with whom I had
dined. Upon my entrance, Johnson placed himself behind a chair, on
which he leaned as on a desk or pulpit, and with humourous formality
gave me a charge, pointing out the conduct expected from me as a
good member of this club." There was probably more than "humourous
formality" at the back of Johnson's mind that night. He was
responsible for Boswell's election, and may well have had a doubt or
two as to how that inconsequential person would behave in such a
circle.

As Johnson had had his way in the case of Boswell, he could not very
well object when some were proposed as members with whom, from the
political and religious point of view, he had little sympathy. But
he had the grace to regard the matter with philosophy. When its
numbers were increased to thirty, he declared he was glad of it, for
as there were several with whom he did not like to consort,
something would be gained by making it "a mere miscellaneous
collection of conspicuous men, without any determinate character."
The political difficulty was felt by other members. That fact is
oppressively illustrated by an account of a meeting recorded by Dr.
Burney, the father of the talented Fanny, in a letter to his
daughter, dated January 3lst, 1793, at a time, consequently, when
excitement still ran high at the execution of Louis XVI of France:
"At the Club on Tuesday, the fullest I ever knew, consisting of
fifteen members, fourteen all seemed of one mind, and full of
reflections on the late transaction in France; but, when about half
the company was assembled, who should come in but Charles Fox! There
were already three or four bishops arrived, hardly one of whom could
look at him, I believe, without horror. After the first bow and cold
salutation, the conversation stood still for several minutes. During
dinner Mr. Windham, and Burke, jun., came in, who were obliged to
sit at a side table. All were _boutonnés_, and not a word of
the martyred king or politics of any kind was mentioned; and though
the company was chiefly composed of the most eloquent and loquacious
men in the kingdom, the conversation was the dullest and most
uninteresting I ever remember at this or any such large meeting."
There were evidently serious disadvantages then in the mixed nature
of the club, as there have been since. For example, how did
Gladstone meet Huxley after his Gadarene swine had been so
unmercifully treated by the man of science?

When Johnson reached his seventy-fourth year, and found himself the
victim of infirmities which prompted him to seek his social
intercourse near at hand, he conceived the idea of founding what was
known as his Essex Street Club. One of his first invitations was
sent to Reynolds, but the painter did not see his way to join. The
members included the inevitable Boswell, the Hon. Daines Barrington,
famous for his association with Gilbert White, and others whom
Boswell noted as men of distinction, but whose names are no more
than names at this distance. Johnson drew up the rules of the club,
which restricted its membership to two dozen, appointed the meetings
on Monday, Thursday and Saturday of each week, allowed a member to
introduce a friend once a week, insisted that each member should
spend at least sixpence at each gathering, enforced a fine of
threepence for absence, and laid down the regulation that every
individual should defray his own expense. And a final rule
stipulated a penny tip for the waiter. The meeting-place was a
tavern in Essex Street, known as the Essex Head, of which the host
was an old servant of Mr. Thrale's. Boswell, as in duty bound,
seeing he was a member, declared there were few societies where
there was better conversation or more decorum. And he added that
eight years after the loss of its "great founder" the members were
still holding happily together. But it was founded too late in the
day to gather around it many notable Johnsonian associations, and
after his death it was, on Boswell's showing, too happy to have any
history.

Among the informal clubs of old London, a distinguished place
belongs to that assemblage of variously-talented men, who, under the
title of the Wittenagemot abrogated to themselves the exclusive use
of a box in the north-east corner of the Chapter coffee-house. It
found a capable if terse historian in one of its members, who
explains that the club had two sections. The one took possession of
the box at the earliest hour of the morning, and from their habit of
taking the papers fresh from the news-men were called the Wet Paper
Club. In the afternoon the other section took possession, and were
as keen to scan the wet evening papers as their colleagues to peruse
those of the forenoon. Among the members of the Wittenagemot were
Dr. Buchan, the author of a standard treatise on medicine, who
although a Tory was so tolerant of all views that he was elected
moderator of the meetings; a Mr. Hammond, a manufacturer, who had
not been absent for nearly forty-five years; a Mr. Murray, a
Scottish Episcopal minister, who every day accomplished the feat of
reading through at least once all the London papers; a "growling
person of the name of Dobson, who, when his asthma permitted, vented
his spleen" upon both sides of politics; and Mr. Robison the
publisher, and Richard, afterwards Sir Richard, Phillips, so keenly
alert in recruiting for his Monthly Magazine that he used to attend
with a waistcoat pocket full of guineas as an earnest of his good
intentions and financial solvency.

Perhaps, however, the most original member of the Wittenagemot was a
young man of the name of Wilson, to whom the epithet of "Long-Bow"
was soon applied on account of the extraordinary stories he retailed
concerning the secrets of the upper ten. Just as he appeared to be
established in the unique circle at the Chapter he disappeared, the
cause being that he had run up a bill of between thirty and forty
pounds. The strange thing was, however, that the keeper of the
coffee-house, a Miss Bran, begged that if any one met Mr. Wilson
they would express to him her willingness to give a full discharge
for the past and future credit to any amount, for, she said, "if he
never paid us, he was one of the best customers we ever had,
contriving, by his stories and conversation, to keep a couple of
boxes crowded the whole night, by which we made more punch, and
brandy and water, than from any other single customer." But the
useful Long-Bow Wilson was never seen again, and several years later
the Wittenagemot itself died of disintegration. It was more
fortunate, however, than scores of similar clubs in old London, of
which the history is entirely wanting.



CHAPTER II.

SOCIAL AND GAMING.


Neither of the literary societies described in the previous chapter
could claim to be a club in the present accepted meaning of that
term. Even Dr. Johnson's famous definition, "An assembly of good
fellows, meeting under certain conditions," needs amplification.
Perhaps the most satisfactory exposition is that given in "The
Original" which was applied in the first instance to the Athenæum.
"The building," said Walker, "is a sort of palace, and is kept with
the same exactness and comfort as a private dwelling. Every member
is a master without any of the trouble of a master. He can come when
he pleases, and stay away as long as he pleases, without anything
going wrong. He has the command of regular servants without having
to pay or to manage them. He can have whatever meal or refreshment
he wants, at all hours, and served up with the cleanliness and
comfort of his own house. He orders just what he pleases, having no
interest to think of but his own. In short, it is impossible to
suppose a greater degree of liberty in living." This is somewhat
copious for a definition, but it would be difficult to put into
smaller compass the various traits which marked the social and
gaming clubs of old London.

All those qualities, however, were not in evidence from the first.
They were a matter of growth, of adaptation to needs as those needs
were realized. The evolution of the club in that sense is nowhere
better illustrated than in the case of White's, which can claim the
proud honour of being the oldest among London clubs. It was
established as a Chocolate-house about 1698, and as such was a
resort open to all. Even in those days it was notorious for the high
play which went on within its walls. Swift has recorded that the
Earl of Oxford never passed the building in St. James's Street
without bestowing a curse upon it as the bane of half the English
nobility. And a little later it was frankly described as "a Den of
Thieves."

[Illustration: ST. JAMES'S STREET. (_Showing White's on the left
and Brooks's on the right_.)]

Fire destroyed the first White's a little more than a generation
after it was opened. Its owner at that time was one named Arthur,
and the account of the conflagration tells how his wife leaped out
of a window two stories high onto a feather bed and thus escaped
without injury. George II went to see the fire, accompanied by the
Prince of Wales, both of whom encouraged the firemen with liberal
offers of money. But royal exhortations did not avail to save the
building; it was utterly consumed, with a valuable collection of
paintings.

Two or three years after the opening of the new building White's
ceased to be a public resort as a Chocolate-house and became a club
in the strict meaning of the word. It remained under the direction
of Mr. Arthur till his death in 1761, and then passed into the
control of Robert Mackreth, who had begun his career as a
billiard-marker in the establishment. Mackreth married Arthur's only
daughter a few months after her father's death, and thus gained an
assured hold on the property, which he seems to have retained till
his death, although managing the club through an agent. This agent
was known as "the Cherubim," and figures in the note Mackreth
addressed to George Selwyn when he retired from the active oversight
of the club. "Sir," he wrote, "Having quitted business entirely and
let my house to the Cherubim, who is my near relation, I humbly beg
leave, after returning you my most grateful thanks for all favours,
to recommend him to your patronage, not doubting by the long
experience I have had of his fidelity but that he will strenuously
endeavour to oblige." Before this change took place the club had
removed to its present premises, which, however, have been
considerably altered both inside and out. The freehold of the house
realized forty-six thousand pounds when offered for sale a
generation ago.

From a study of the club records, which extend back to 1736, it is
possible to trace its evolution to the close corporation it has
become. Rules of a more and more stringent nature were gradually
adopted, but at the same time its reputation for gambling was on the
increase. There was hardly any probability upon which the members
did not stake large sums of money. The marriage of a young lady of
rank led to a bet of one hundred guineas that she would give birth
to a child before a certain countess who had been married several
months earlier; another wager was laid that a member of infamous
character would be the first baronet hung; and when a man dropped
dead at the door of the club and was carried into the building, the
members promptly began betting whether he was dead or not, and
protested against the bleeding of the body on the plea that it would
affect the fairness of the wagers. Well might Young write in one of
his epistles to Pope:

   "Clodio dress'd, danc'd, drank, visited, (the whole
   And great concern of an immortal soul!)
   Oft have I said, 'Awake! exist! and strive
   For birth! nor think to loiter is to live!'
   As oft I overheard the demon say,
   Who daily met the loiterer in his way,
   'I'll meet thee, youth, at White's:' the youth replies,
   'I'll meet thee there,' and falls his sacrifice;
   His fortune squander'd, leaves his virtue bare
   To every bribe, and blind to every snare."

Another witness to the prevalent spirit of White's at this time is
supplied by Lord Lyttelton in a private letter, wherein he wrote
that he had fears, should his son become a member of that club, the
rattling of a dice-box would shake down all the fine oaks of his
estate.

Mackreth manifested great worldly wisdom in addressing himself to
George Selwyn when he retired from the active management of the
club, for he knew that no other member had so much influence in the
smart set of the day. Selwyn was a member of Brooks's as well, and
for a time divided his favours pretty equally between the two
houses, but in his latter years seems to have felt a preference for
White's. The incidental history of the club for many years finds
more lively chronicle in his letters than anywhere else, for he was
constant in his attendance and was the best-known of its members.
Through those letters we catch many glimpses of Charles James Fox at
all stages of his strange career. We see him, for example, loitering
at the club drinking hard till three o'clock in the morning, and
find him there sitting up the entire night preceding his mother's
death, planning a kind of "itinerant trade, which was of going from
horse-race to horse-race, and so, by knowing the value and speed of
all the horses in England, to acquire a certain fortune." Later, we
see the brilliant statesman flitting about the club rooms, "as much
the minister in all his deportment, as if he had been in office
forty years."

Among the countless vignettes of club life at White's as they crop
up in Selwyn's letters it is difficult to pick and choose, but a few
taken almost at random will revive scenes of a long-past time. Here
is one of a supper-party in 1781: "We had a pretty group of
Papists--Lord Petres at the head of them--some Papists reformed, and
one Jew. A club that used to be quite intolerable is now becoming
tolerating and agreeable, and Scotchmen are naturalized and received
with great good humour. The people are civil, not one word of party,
no personal reflections." A few days later Selwyn tells this story
against himself. "On my return home I called in at White's, and in a
minute or two afterwards Lord Loughborough came with the Duke of
Dorset, I believe the first time since his admittance. I would be
extraordinarily civil, and so immediately told him that I hoped Lady
Loughborough was well. I do really hope so, now that I know that she
is dead. But the devil a word did I hear of her since he was at your
house in St. James's Street. He stared at me, as a child would have
done at an Iroquois, and the Duke of Dorset seemed _tout
confus_. I felt as if I looked like an oaf, but how I appeared
God knows. I turned the discourse, as you may suppose." And here is
a peep of a gambling party at faro. "I went last night to White's,
and stayed there till two. The Pharo party was amusing. Five such
beggars could not have met; four lean crows feeding on a dead horse.
Poor Parsons held the bank. The punters were Lord Carmarthen, Lord
Essex, and one of the Fauquiers; and Denbigh sat at the table, with
what hopes I know not, for he did not punt. Essex's supply is from
his son, which is more than he deserves, but Malden, I suppose,
gives him a little of his milk, like the Roman lady to her father."

Other glimpses might be taken such as would give point to
Rowlandson's caricature of a later day in which he depicted a scene
in "The Brilliants" club-room. The rules to be observed in this
convivial society set forth that each member should fill a bumper to
the first toast, that after twenty-four bumper toasts every member
might fill as he pleased, and that any member refusing to comply
with the foregoing was to be fined by being compelled to swallow a
copious draught of salt and water. Rowlandson did not overlook the
gambling propensities of such clubs, as may be seen by his picture
of "E O, or the Fashionable Vowels." By 1781 there were swarms of
these E O tables in different parts of London, where any one with a
shilling might try his luck. They had survived numerous attempts at
their suppression, some of which dated as far back as 1731.

[Illustration: THE BRILLIANTS. _(A Rowlandson Caricature of London
Club Life in the 18th Century.)_]

All the characteristic features of White's were to be found at
Brooks's club on the opposite side of St. James's Street, the chief
difference between the two being that the former was the recognized
haunt of the Tories and the latter of the Whigs. This political
distinction is underlined in Gillray's amusing caricature of 1796,
in which he depicted the "Promised Horrors of the French Invasion."
The drawing was an ironical treatment of the evil effects Burke
foretold of the "Regicide Peace," and takes for granted the landing
of the French, the burning of St. James's Palace and other
disasters. According to the artist, the invaders have reached the
vicinity of the great clubs, and are wreaking vengeance on that
special Tory club--White's--while Brooks's over the way is a scene
of rejoicing. The figures hanging from the lamp-post are those of
Canning and Jackson, while Pitt, firmly lashed to the Tree of
Liberty, is being vigorously flogged by Fox.

During the earlier years of its history Brooks's was known as
Almack's, its founder having been that William Almack who also
established the famous assembly-rooms known by his name. The club
was opened in Pall Mall as a gaming-salon in 1763, and it speedily
acquired a reputation which even White's would have been proud to
claim. Walpole relates that in 1770 the young men of that time lost
five, ten, fifteen thousand pounds in an evening's play. The two
sons of Lord Holland lost thirty-two thousand pounds in two nights,
greatly, no doubt, to the satisfaction of the Hebrew money-lenders
who awaited gamblers in the outer room, which Charles Fox
accordingly christened the Jerusalem Chamber. While it still
retained its original name, Gibbon became a member of the club, and
Reynolds wished to be. "Would you imagine," wrote Topham Beauclerk,
"that Sir J. Reynolds is extremely anxious to be a member of
Almack's? You see what noble ambition will make men attempt." Gibbon
found the place to his liking. "Town grows empty," he wrote in June,
1776, "and this house, where I have passed very agreeable hours, is
the only place which still invites the flower of English youth. The
style of living, though somewhat expensive, is exceedingly pleasant;
and, notwithstanding the rage of play, I have found more
entertainment and even rational society here than in any other club
to which I belong."

[Illustration: PROMISED HORRORS OF THE FRENCH INVASION. _(From a
Caricature by Gillray.)_]

Two years later Almack's became Brooks's. Why the original
proprietor parted with so valuable a property is not clear, but the
fact is indisputable that in 1778 the club passed into the
possession of a wine merchant and moneylender of the name of Brooks,
whose fame was celebrated a few years later by the poet Tickell.

   "Liberal Brooks, whose speculative skill
    Is hasty credit, and a distant bill;
    Who, nursed in clubs, disdains a vulgar trade,
    Exults to trust, and blushes to be paid."

It was the new owner who built the premises in which the club still
meets, but that particular speculation does not appear to have
prospered, for the story is that he died in poverty. Under the new
regime the house kept up its reputation for high play. But there was
a time soon after the change when its future did not look promising.
Thus in 1781 Selwyn wrote: "No event at Brooks's, but the general
opinion is that it is _en decadence_. Blue has been obliged to
give a bond with interest for what he has eat there for some time.
This satisfies both him and Brooks; he was then, by provision, to
sup or dine there no more without paying. Jack Townshend told me
that the other night the room next to the supper room was full of
the insolvents or freebooters, and no supper served up; at last the
Duke of Bolton walked in, ordered supper; a hot one was served up,
and then the others all rushed in through the gap, after him, and
eat and drank in spite of Brooks's teeth." A state of affairs which
goes far to explain why the club was in a precarious condition.

Charles Fox was of course as much at home at Brooks's as White's. It
was, naturally, more of a political home for him than the Tory
resort. This receives many illustrations in the letters of Selwyn,
especially at the time when he formed his coalition with Lord North.
Even then he managed to mingle playing and politics. "I own," wrote
Selwyn, "that to see Charles closeted every instant at Brooks's by
one or other, that he can neither punt or deal for a quarter of an
hour but he is obliged to give an audience, while Hare is whispering
and standing behind him, like Jack Robinson, with a pencil and paper
for mems., is to me a scene la plus _parfaitement que l'on puisse
imaginer_, and to nobody it seems more risible than to Charles
himself." The farce was being continued a few days later. "I stayed
at Brooks's this morning till between two and three, and then
Charles was giving audiences in every corner of the room, and that
idiot Lord D. telling aloud whom he should turn out, how civil he
intended to be to the Prince, and how rude to the King."

[Illustration: GAMBLING SALOON AT BROOKS'S CLUB.]

Notwithstanding his preference for White's, Selwyn exercised his
voting power at Brooks's in a rigid manner. For some reason,
probably because he could not boast a long descent, Sheridan's
nomination as a member provoked his opposition. Fox, who had been
enamoured of Sheridan's witty society, proposed him on numerous
occasions and all the members were earnestly canvassed for their
votes, but the result of the poll always showed one black ball. When
this had gone on for several months, it was resolved to unearth the
black-baller, and the marking of the balls discovered Selwyn to be
the culprit. Armed with this knowledge, Sheridan requested his
friends to put his name up again and leave the rest to him. On the
night of the voting,--and some ten minutes before the urn was
produced, Sheridan arrived at the club in the company of the Prince
of Wales, and on the two being shown into the candidates'
waiting-room a message was sent upstairs to Selwyn to the effect
that the Prince wished to speak to him below. The unsuspecting
Selwyn hurried downstairs, and in a few minutes Sheridan had him
absorbed in a diverting political story, which he spun out for a
full halfhour. Ere the narrative was at an end, a waiter entered the
room and by a pre-arranged signal conveyed the news that Sheridan
had been elected. Excusing himself for a few minutes, Sheridan
remarked as he left to go upstairs that the Prince would finish the
story. But of course the Prince was not equal to the occasion, and
when he got hopelessly stuck he proposed an adjournment upstairs
where Sheridan would be able to complete his own yarn. It was then
Selwyn realized that he had been fooled, for the first to greet him
upstairs was Sheridan himself, now a full member of the club, with
profuse bows and thanks for Selwyn's "friendly suffrage." Happily
Selwyn had too keen a sense of humour not to make the best of the
situation, and ere the evening was over he shook hands with the new
member and bade him heartily welcome.

Far less hilarious was that evening when the notorious George Robert
Fitzgerald forced his way into the club. As this bravo had survived
numerous duels--owing to the fact, as was stated after his death,
that he wore a steel cuirass under his coat--and was of a generally
quarrelsome disposition, he was not regarded as a desirable member
by any of the London clubs. But he had a special desire to belong to
Brooks's, and requested Admiral Keith Stewart to propose him as a
candidate. As the only alternative would have been to fight a duel,
the admiral complied with the request, and on the night of the
voting Fitzgerald waited downstairs till the result was declared.
When the votes were examined it was discovered that every member had
cast in a black ball. But who was to beard the lion in his den
below? The members agreed that the admiral should discharge that
unpleasant duty, and on his protesting that he had fulfilled his
promise by proposing him, it was pointed out, that as there was no
white ball in the box, Fitzgerald would know that even he had not
voted for his admission. Posed for a moment the admiral at length
suggested that one of the waiters should be sent to say that there
was one black ball, and that the election would have to be postponed
for another month. But Fitzgerald would not credit that message, nor
a second which told him a recount had shown two black balls, nor a
third which said that he had been black balled all over. He was sure
the first message implied a single mistake, that the second had been
the result of two mistakes instead of one, and the third convinced
him that he had better go upstairs and investigate on his own
account. This he did in spite of all remonstrance, and when he had
gained the room where the members were assembled he reduced the
whole company to perplexity by asking each in turn whether he had
cast a black ball. Of course the answer was in the negative in every
case, and the triumphant bully naturally claimed that he had
consequently been elected unanimously. Proceeding to make himself at
home, and to order numerous bottles of champagne, which the waiters
were too frightened to refuse, he soon found himself sent to
Coventry and eventually retired. As a precaution against a
repetition of that night it was resolved to have half a dozen sturdy
constables in waiting on the following evening. But their services
were not required. Fighting Fitzgerald never showed himself at the
club again, though he boasted everywhere that he had been elected
unanimously.

Perhaps it is hardly surprising that the national dish of England
was laid under contribution for the name of a club, but it is
somewhat confusing to find that in addition to the Beef Steak Club
founded in the reign of Queen Anne there was a Beef Steak Society of
which the origin is somewhat hazy. The former society is described
with great gusto by Ned Ward, who had for it many more pleasant
adjectives than he could find for the Kit-Cat Club. The other
society appears to have owed its existence to John Rich, of Covent
Garden theatre, and the scene-painter, George Lambert. For some
unexplained reason, but probably because of its bohemian character,
the club quickly gained many distinguished adherents, and could
number royal scions as well as plebeians in its circle. According to
Henry B. Wheatley, the "room the society dined in, a little Escurial
in itself, was most appropriately fitted up: the doors, wainscoting,
and roof of good old English oak, ornamented with gridirons as thick
as Henry VII's Chapel with the portcullis of the founder. The
society's badge was a gridiron, which was engraved upon the rings,
glass, and the forks and spoons. At the end of the dining-room was
an enormous grating in the form of a gridiron, through which the
fire was seen and the steaks handed from the kitchen. Over this were
the appropriate lines:--

   "'If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
     It were done quickly."

Saturday was from time immemorial the day of dining, and of late
years the season commenced in November and ended in June. The last
elected member of the fraternity was known as Boots, and, no matter
how high his social rank, there were certain lowly duties he had to
discharge until set free by another newcomer. There was another
officer known as the Bishop, whose duty it was to sing the grace,
and to read to each new member, who was brought in blindfolded, the
following oath of allegiance: "You shall attend duly, vote
impartially, and conform to our laws and orders obediently. You
shall support our dignity, promote our welfare, and at all times
behave as a worthy member of this sublime society. So Beef and
Liberty be your reward." Although there is a Beef Steak Club in
existence to-day, it must not be identified with either of the two
described above.

Another St. James's Street club which can date back to the middle of
the eighteenth century is that known as Boodle's. The building was
erected somewhere about 1765, but has been materially improved in
more recent years. Presumably it takes its singular and not
euphonious name from its founder, but on that point no definite
information is forthcoming. Practically its only claim to
distinction resides in the fact that Gibbon, who was almost as fond
of clubs as Pepys was of taverns, was a member, as readers of his
correspondence will recollect. In 1773 and the following year the
great historian appears to have used the club as his writing-room,
for many of his letters of those years are on Boodle's note-paper.
One of the epistles recalls the fact that the clubs of London were
wont to hold their great functions, such as balls or masquerades, at
the Pantheon in Oxford Street, erected as a kind of in-town rival to
Ranelagh. It was opened in 1772, and on the fourth of May two years
later Gibbon wrote: "Last night was the triumph of Boodle's. Our
masquerade cost two thousand guineas; a sum that might have
fertilized a province, vanished in a few hours, but not without
leaving behind it the fame of the most splendid and elegant
_fête_ that was perhaps ever given in a seat of the arts and
opulence. It would be as difficult to describe the magnificence of
the scene, as it would be easy to record the humour of the night.
The one was above, the other below, all relation. I left the
Pantheon about five this morning." Gibbon does not note that two
"gentlemen," coming from that masquerade dressed in their costumes,
"used a woman very indecently," and were so mauled by some
spectators that they had difficulty in escaping with their lives. It
is to be hoped they were not members of Boodle's, who, on the whole,
appear to have been somewhat inoffensive persons. At any rate they
allowed Gibbon ample quietude for his letter-writing.

Two other clubs of some note in their day are now nothing but a
memory. The first of these, the Dover House, was formed by George IV
when Prince of Wales in opposition to Brooks's, where two of his
friends had been black-balled. He placed it in the care of one
Weltzie, who had been his house steward, and for a time it
threatened to become a serious rival to the other establishments in
St. James's Street. There is Selwyn's confession that the club began
to alarm the devotees of Brooks's, for it lived well, increased in
numbers, and was chary in the choice of members. That, surely, was
the club of which Selwyn tells this vivid story. "The Duke of
Cumberland holds a Pharaoh Bank, deals standing the whole night; and
last week, when the Duke of Devonshire sat down to play, he told him
there were two rules; one was, 'not to let you punt more than ten
guineas;' and the other, 'no tick.' Did you ever hear a more
princely declaration? Derby lost the gold in his pocket, and the
Prince of Wales lent him fifty guineas; on which the Duke of
Cumberland expressed some surprise, and said he had never lent fifty
pounds in his whole life. 'Then,' says the Prince of Wales, 'it is
high time for you to begin.'"

Notwithstanding the promise it gave, Weltzie's club does not seem to
have had a protracted history. Nor did the Alfred Club survive a
half century. It was one of the earliest clubs to cater for a
distinct class, and may have failed because it was born out of due
time. This resort for men of letters, and members of kindred taste,
does not appear to have been a lively place in its first years, for
at that time Lord Dudley described it as the dullest place in the
world, full of bores, an "asylum of doting Tories and drivelling
quidnuncs." Nor was Byron, another member, much more complimentary.
His most favourable verdict pronounced the place a little too sober
and literary, while later he thought it the most tiresome of London
clubs. Then there is the testimony of another member who said he
stood it as long as he could, but gave in when the seventeenth
bishop was proposed, for it was impossible to enter the place
without being reminded of the catechism.

Because Arthur's Club is described as having been founded in 1811
that is no reason for overlooking the fact that its age is much more
venerable than that date would imply. The word "founded" is indeed
misleading; a more suitable term would be "reconstructed." For that
is what happened in 1811. The club can really trace an ancestry back
to 1756, when it was the "Young Club" at Arthur's, the freedom of
which Selwyn desired to present in a dice box to William Pitt. That
the club has maintained the old-time spirit to a remarkable degree
may be inferred from the fact that no foreigners are admitted as
members, and from the further regulation which does not allow a
member to entertain a friend at the club. There is a "Strangers'
room" in which visitors may wait for members, and where they may be
served with light refreshments as a matter of courtesy, but none
save members are allowed in the public rooms of the building. This
rigid exclusiveness has not militated against the prosperity of the
club. Despite a high entrance fee and a considerable annual
subscription, candidates have to wait an average of three years for
election to its limited circle of six hundred. Which goes to show
that the old type of London club is in no danger of extinction just
yet.



IV.

PLEASURE GARDENS OF OLD LONDON.



CHAPTER I.

VAUXHALL.


Numerous and diversified as were the outdoor resorts of old London,
no one of them ever enjoyed the patronage of the gardens at
Vauxhall. Nor can any pleasure resort of the English capital boast
so long a history. For nearly two centuries, that is, from about
1661 to 1859, it ministered to the amusement of the citizens.

At the outset of its career it was known as New Spring Gardens, and
it continued to be described as Spring Gardens in the official
announcements, till 1786, although for many years previously the
popular designation was Vauxhall. The origin of that name is
involved in obscurity, but it is supposed to have been derived from
a family of the name of Faux who once held the manor.

For the earliest pictures of the resort we must turn to the pages of
Pepys, whose first visit to the gardens was paid in May, 1662. On
this occasion he was accompanied by his wife, the two maids, and the
boy, the latter distinguishing himself by creeping through the
hedges and gathering roses. Three years later Pepys went to the
gardens on several occasions within a few weeks of each other, the
first visit being made in the company of several Admiralty friends,
who, with himself, were ill at ease as to what had been the result
of the meeting between the English and Dutch fleets. Still, on this,
the "hottest day that ever I felt in my life," Pepys did not fail to
find enjoyment in walking about the garden, and stayed there till
nine o'clock for a moderate expenditure of sixpence. Not many days
later he was back again, this time alone and in a philosophic mood.
The English fleet had been victorious, and the day was one of
thanksgiving. So the diarist strolled an hour in the garden
observing the behaviour of the citizens, "pulling of cherries, and
God knows what." Quite a different scene met his gaze on his third
visit that year; the place was almost deserted, for the dreaded
plague had broken out and London was empty. Then came the year of
the Great Fire, and Pepys was in too serious a mood to wend his way
to Vauxhall. But he had recovered his spirits by the May of 1667,
and gives us this record of a visit of that month: "A great deal of
company, and the weather and garden pleasant: and it is very
pleasant and cheap going thither, for a man may go to spend what he
will, or nothing, all as one. But to hear the nightingale and other
birds, and hear fiddles, and there a harp, and here a Jew's trump,
and here laughing, and there fine people walking, is mighty
divertising. Among others, there were two pretty women alone, that
walked a great while, which being discovered by some idle gentlemen,
they would needs take them up; but to see the poor ladies how they
were put to it to run from them, and they after them, and sometimes
the ladies put themselves along with other company, then the other
drew back; at last, the last did get off out of the house, and took
boat and away. I was troubled to see them abused so; and could have
found in my heart, as little desire of fighting as I have, to have
protected the ladies." But a time was to come, on a later visit,
when Pepys found himself in the company of a couple who were just as
rude as the gentlemen he had a mind to fight. For on a May evening
the next year he fell in with Harry Killigrew and young Newport, as
"very rogues as any in the town," who were "ready to take hold of
every woman that comes by them." Yet Pepys did not shake their
company; instead he went with the rogues to supper in an arbour,
though it made his heart "ake" to listen to their mad talk. When
sitting down to his diary that night he reflected on the loose
company he had been in, but came to the conclusion that it was not
wholly unprofitable to have such experience of the lives of others.
Perhaps he really enjoyed the experience; at any rate, he was back
again the following evening, and saw the young Newport at his tricks
again. Nor was that rogue singular in his behaviour. Pepys had other
illustrations on subsequent visits of the rudeness which had become
a habit with the gallants of the town.

By the numerous references which may be found in the comedies of the
Restoration period it is too obvious that Vauxhall fully sustained
its reputation as a resort for the "rogues" of the town. But,
happily, there are not lacking many proofs that the resort was also
largely affected by more serious-minded and respectable members of
the community. It is true they were never free from the danger of
coming in contact with the seamy side of London life, but that fact
did not deter them from seeking relaxation in so desirable a spot.
There is a characteristic illustration of this blending of amusement
and annoyance in that classical number of the Spectator wherein
Addison described his visit to the garden with his famous friend Sir
Roger de Coverley. As was usual in the early days of the eighteenth
century, and for some years later, the two approached the garden by
water. They took boat on the Thames, at Temple-stairs, and soon
arrived at the landing-place. It was in the awakening month of May,
when the garden was in the first blush of its springtime beauty.
"When I considered," Addison wrote, "the fragrancy of the walks and
bowers, with the choirs of birds that sung upon the trees, and the
loose tribe of people that walked under their shades, I could not
but look upon the place as a kind of Mahometan paradise. Sir Roger
told me it put him in mind of a little coppice by his house in the
country, which his chaplain used to call an aviary of nightingales.
'You must understand,' said the knight, 'there is nothing in the
world that pleases a man in love so much as your nightingale. Ah,
Mr. Spectator, the many moon-light nights that I have walked by
myself, and thought on the widow by the music of the nightingale!'
He here fetched a deep sigh." But the worthy old man's fit of musing
was abruptly broken by too tangible a reminder that this was indeed
a kind of Mahometan paradise.

[Illustration: TICKETS FOR VAUXHALL.]

Up to 1732 Vauxhall appears to have been conducted in a haphazard
way. That is, no settled policy had been followed in its management
or the provision of set attractions. The owner seems to have
depended too much on the nightingales, and the natural beauties of
the place. From the date mentioned, however, a new regime began. At
that time the garden passed into the control of Jonathan Tyers, who
introduced many alterations and improvements. A regular charge was
now made for admission, and season tickets in the shape of silver
medals were instituted. Several of these were designed by Hogarth,
in recognition of whose services in that and other ways Mr. Tyers
presented him with a gold ticket entitling him to admission for
ever. Among the improvements dating from this new ownership was
adequate provision of music. An orchestra was erected, and in
addition to instrumental music many of the most famous singers of
the day were engaged. The innovations of Mr. Tyers have left their
impress on the literature of the place in prose and verse. A
somewhat cloying example of the latter is found in an effusion
describing the visit of Farmer Colin in 1741:

  "Oh, Mary! soft in feature,
     I've been at dear Vauxhall;
   No paradise is sweeter,
     Not that they Eden call.

  "Methought, when first I entered,
     Such splendours round me shone,
   Into a world I ventured,
     Where rose another sun:

  "While music, never cloying,
     As skylarks sweet, I hear:
   The sounds I'm still enjoying,
     They'll always soothe my ear."

Ten years later Mr. Tyers was paid a more eloquent tribute by the
pen of Fielding. Perhaps he took his beloved Amelia to Vauxhall for
the purpose of heightening his readers' impression of her beauty,
for it will be remembered that she was greatly distressed by the
admiration of some of the "rogues" of the place; but incidentally he
has a word of high praise for the owner of the garden. "To delineate
the particular beauties of these gardens would, indeed," the
novelist writes, "require as much pains, and as much paper too, as
to rehearse all the good actions of their master, whose life proves
the truth of an observation which I have read in some ethic writer,
that a truly elegant taste is generally accompanied with an
excellency of heart." But Fielding does not quite dodge his
responsibility to say something of the place itself, only he is
adroit enough to accentuate his words by placing them in the mouth
of the fair Amelia. "The delicious sweetness of the place," was her
verdict, "the enchanting charms of the music, and the satisfaction
which appears on every one's countenance, carried my soul almost to
heaven in its ideas." That her rapture should have been spoilt by
the impertinents who forced themselves on the little party later, is
a proof that the evils which Pepys lamented were still in evidence
at the middle of the eighteenth century.

And another proof may be cited to show that Vauxhall was at the time
in high favour with the smart set. It occurs in a letter to Lord
Carlisle of July, 1745. The correspondent of the peer thinks he will
be interested in a piece of news from Vauxhall. One of the boxes in
the garden was, he said, painted with a scene depicting a gentleman
far gone in his cups, in the company of two ladies of pleasure, and
his hat lying on the ground beside him. This appealed so strongly to
a certain marquis as typical of his own tastes that he appropriated
the box for his own use, stipulating, however, that a marquis's
coronet be painted over the hat. Notwithstanding the high character
attributed to him by Fielding, Mr. Tyers agreed to the proposal, and
the waiters were given authority to instruct any company that might
enter that box that it belonged to the marquis in question, and must
be vacated if he came on the scene.

Although changes were made from time to time, the general
arrangement of Vauxhall remained as it existed at the height of Mr.
Tyers' tenancy. The place extended to about twelve acres, laid out
in formal walks but richly wooded. The principal entrance led into
what was known as the Grand Walk, a tree-lined promenade some three
hundred yards in length, and having the South Walk parallel. The
latter, however, was distinguished by its three triumphal arches and
its terminal painting of the ruins of Palmyra. Intersecting these
avenues was the Grand Cross Walk, which traversed the garden from
north to south. In addition there were those numerous "Dark Walks"
which make so frequent an appearance in the literature of the place.
Other parts of the garden were known as the Rural Downs, the Musical
Bushes, and the Wilderness. In the farthest removed of these the
nightingales and other birds for which Vauxhall was famous
contributed their quota to the attractions of the place.

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO VAUXHALL.]


In addition to the supper-boxes and pavilions, which were arranged
in long rows or in curving fashion, the buildings consisted of the
orchestra and the Rotunda, the latter being a circular building
seventy feet in diameter. It was fitted up in a style thought
attractive in those days, was provided with an orchestra where the
band played on wet evenings, and was connected with a long gallery
known as the Picture Room. The amusements provided by the management
varied considerably. Even at their best, however, they would be
voted tame by amusement-seekers of the twentieth century. Fireworks
took their place on the programme in 1798, and nearly twenty years
later what was deemed a phenomenal attraction was introduced in the
person of Mme. Saqui of Paris, who used to climb a long rope leading
to the firework platform, whence she descended to the accompaniment
of a "tempest of fireworks." One of the earliest and most popular
attractions was that known as the Cascade, which was disclosed to
view about nine o'clock in the evening. It was a landscape scene
illuminated by hidden lights, the central feature of which was a
miller's house and waterfall having the "exact appearance of water."
More daring efforts were to come later, such as the allegorical
transparency of the Prince of Wales leaning against a horse held by
Britannia, a Submarine Cavern, a Hermit's Cottage, and balloon
ascents. The most glorious of these attractions presented a sordid
sight by daylight, but in the dim light of the countless lamps hung
in the trees at night passed muster with the most critical.

[Illustration: THE CITIZEN AT VAUXHALL.]

Enough evidence has been produced to show how the "rogues" amused
themselves at Vauxhall, but the milder pleasures of sober citizens
have not been so fully illustrated. Yet there is no lack of
information on that score. There is, for example, that lively paper
in the Connoisseur which gives an eavesdropping report of the
behaviour and conversation of a London merchant and his wife and two
daughters. The Connoisseur took notes from the adjoining box.

"After some talk, 'Come, come,' said the old don, 'it is high time,
I think, to go to supper.'

"To this the ladies readily assented; and one of the misses said,
'Do let us have a chick, papa.'

"'Zounds!' said the father, 'they are half-a-crown a-piece, and no
bigger than a sparrow.'

"Here the old lady took him up, 'You are so stingy, Mr. Rose, there
is no bearing with you. When one is out upon pleasure, I love to
appear like somebody: and what signifies a few shillings once and
away, when a body is about it?'

"This reproof so effectually silenced the old gentleman, that the
youngest miss had the courage to put in a word for some ham
likewise: accordingly the waiter was called, and dispatched by the
old lady with an order for a chicken and a plate of ham. When it was
brought, our honest cit twirled the dish about three or four times,
and surveyed it with a very settled countenance; then taking up the
slice of ham, and dangling it to and fro on the end of his fork,
asked the waiter how much there was of it.

"'A shilling's worth, Sir,' said the fellow.

"'Prithee,' said the don, 'how much dost think it weighs? An ounce?
A shilling an ounce! that is sixteen shillings per pound! A
reasonable profit truly! Let me see, suppose now the whole ham
weighs thirty pounds; at a shilling per ounce, that is, sixteen
shillings per pound, why! your master makes exactly twenty-four
pounds of every ham; and if he buys them at the best hand, and salts
and cures them himself, they don't stand him in ten shillings
a-piece.'

"The old lady bade him hold his nonsense, declared herself ashamed
for him, and asked him if people must not live: then taking a
coloured handkerchief from her own neck, she tucked it into his
shirt-collar (whence it hung like a bib), and helped him to a leg of
the chicken. The old gentleman, at every bit he put into his mouth,
amused himself with saying, 'There goes two-pence, there goes
three-pence, there goes a groat. Zounds, a man at these places
should not have a swallow as wide as a torn-tit.'"

But having been launched on a career of temporary extravagance, the
honest citizen grew reckless. So he called for a bottle of port, and
enjoyed it so much as to call for a second. But the bill brought him
to his senses again, and he left Vauxhall with the conviction that
one visit was enough for a lifetime.

So long as Vauxhall existed the thinness and dearness of its plates
of ham were proverbial. There is a legend to the effect that a man
secured the position of carver on the understanding that he was able
to cut a ham so thin that the slices would cover the entire garden.
Writer after writer taxed his ingenuity to find metaphors applicable
to those shadowy slices. One scribe in 1762 declared that a
newspaper could be read through them; Pierce Egan decided that they
were not cut with a knife but shaved off with a plane; and a third
averred that they tasted more of the knife than anything else.

Of course Goldsmith made his philosophical Chinaman visit Vauxhall,
the other members of the party consisting of the man in black, a
pawnbroker's widow, and Mr. Tibbs, the second-rate beau, and his
wife. The Chinaman was delighted, and, by a strange coincidence,
Addison's metaphor crops up once more in his rapturous description.
"The illuminations began before we arrived, and I must confess that,
upon entering the gardens, I found every sense overpaid with more
than expected pleasure; the lights everywhere glimmering through the
scarcely moving trees; the full-bodied concert bursting on the
stillness of the night; the natural concert of the birds, in the
more retired part of the grove, vying with that which was formed by
art; the company gaily-dressed looking satisfaction, and the tables
spread with various delicacies, all conspired to fill my imagination
with the visionary happiness of the Arabian lawgiver, and lifted me
into an ecstasy of admiration. 'Head of Confucius, cried I to my
friend, 'this is fine! this unites rural beauty with courtly
magnificence: if we except the virgins of immortality that hang on
every tree, and may be plucked at every desire, I do 'not see how
this falls short of Mahomet's paradise!'"

But the Celestial rhapsody was interrupted by Mr. Tibbs, who wanted
to know the plan of campaign for the evening. This was a matter on
which Mrs. Tibbs and the widow could not agree, but an adjournment
to a box in the meantime was accepted as a compromise. Even there,
however, the feminine warfare was continued, to the final triumph of
Mrs. Tibbs, who, being prevailed upon to sing, not only distracted
the nerves of her listeners, but prolonged her melody to such an
extent that the widow was robbed of a sight of the water-works.

No account of Vauxhall however brief should overlook the attractions
the place had to the sentimental young lady of the late eighteenth
century. From the character of the songs which the vocalists
affected it might be inferred that love-lorn misses were expected to
form the bulk of their audience. Perhaps that was so; for the Dark
Walks were ideal places in which to indulge the tender sentiment.
The elder daughter of the Connoisseur's citizen confessed a
preference for those walks because "they were so solentary," and Tom
Brown noted that the ladies who had an inclination to be private
took delight in those retired and shady avenues, and in the windings
and turnings of the little Wilderness, where both sexes met and were
of mutual assistance in losing their way.

Smollett, however, made his impressionable Lydia Melford sum up the
attractions of Vauxhall for the young lady of the period. It is a
tender picture she draws, with the wherry in which she made her
journey, "so light and slender that we looked like so many fairies
sailing in a nutshell." There was a rude awakening at the
landing-place, where the rough and ready hangers-on of the place
rushed into the water to drag the boat ashore; but that momentary
disturbance was forgotten when Miss Lydia entered the resort.

"Imagine to yourself, my dear Letty," she wrote, "a spacious garden,
part laid out in delightful walks, bounded with high hedges and
trees, and paved with gravel; part exhibiting a wonderful assemblage
of the most picturesque and striking objects, pavilions, lodges,
groves, grottos, lawns, temples, and cascades; porticos, colonnades,
and rotundas; adorned with pillars, statues, and paintings; the
whole illuminated with an infinite number of lamps, disposed in
different figures of suns, stars, and constellations; the place
crowded with the gayest company, ranging through those blissful
shades, or supping in different lodges, on cold collations,
enlivened with mirth, freedom, and good humour." Lydia has a word,
too, for the musical charms of the place, and seems pleased to have
heard a celebrated vocalist despite the fact that her singing made
her head ache through excess of pleasure. All this was enhanced, no
doubt, by the presence of that Mr. Barton, the country gentleman of
good fortune, who was so "particular" in his attentions,

Perhaps the best proof of the place Vauxhall occupied in popular
esteem is afforded by the number of occasions on which the garden
was chosen as the scene of a national event. This was notably the
case in 1813, when a pretentious festival took place in the grounds
in celebration of the victory achieved at Vittoria by the Allies
under Wellington. An elaborate scheme of decoration, both interior
and exterior, was a striking feature of the occasion, while to
accommodate the numerous dinner guests a large temporary saloon
became necessary. This was constructed among the trees, the trunks
of which were adorned with the flags of the Allies and other
trophies. The Duke of York presided over the banquet, and the
company included, in addition to Wellington, most of the royal and
other notables of the day. Dinner, whereat the inevitable ham
appeared but probably not so finely cut, lasted from five to nearly
nine o'clock, at which hour the ladies and general guests of the
evening began to arrive. Vauxhall outdid itself in illuminations
that night. And the extra attractions included a transparency of the
King, a mammoth picture of Wellington, a supply of rockets that rose
to a "superior height," and innumerable bands, some of which
discoursed music from the forest part of the garden, presenting some
idea of "soldiers in a campaign regaling and reposing themselves
under the shade." In fact, the whole occasion was so unusual that
the electrified reporter of the Annual Register was at his wit's end
to know what to praise most. For a moment he was overpowered by the
exalted rank of the leading personages, and then fascinated by the
charms and costumes of the ladies, only to find fresh subjects for
further adjectives in the fineness of the weather, the blaze of
lights that seemed to create an artificial day, and the unity of
sentiment and disposition that pervaded all alike.

At this date, of course, the Tyers of Fielding's eulogy had been
dead some years. He was succeeded by his two sons, one of whom, Tom,
was a favourite with Dr. Johnson. At the Vittoria fete the resort
was still controlled by the Tyers family, but it passed out of their
possession in 1821, and had many owners before the end came in 1859.

Another Amelia, however, was to visit Vauxhall before its gates were
closed for the last time,--the Amelia beloved of all readers of
"Vanity Fair." Naturally, she does not go alone. Thackeray had too
much affection for that gentle creature to make her face such an
ordeal. No, there was the careless, high-spirited George Osborne,
and the ever-faithful Dobbin, and the slow-witted Jos Sedley, and
the scheming Rebecca Sharp. That Vauxhall episode was to play a
pregnant part in the destiny of Becky. Such an auspicious occasion
would surely lead to a proposal from the nearly-captured Jos. For a
time it seemed as though such might be the case. Becky and her
corpulent knight lost themselves in one of those famous Dark Walks,
and the situation began to develop in tenderness and sentiment. Jos
was so elated that he told Becky his favourite Indian stories for
the sixth time, giving an opening for the lady's "Horn I should like
to see India!" But at that critical moment the bell rang for the
fireworks, and at the same time tolled the knell of Becky's chances
of becoming Mrs. Jos Sedley. For the fireworks somehow created a
thirst, and the bowl of rack punch for which Jos called, and which
he was left to consume, as the young ladies did not drink it and
Osborne did not like it, speedily worked its disastrous effects. In
short, as we all know, Jos made a fool of himself, and when he came
to himself the following morning and saw himself as Osborne wished
he should, all his tender passion for Becky evaporated once and for
all.

Perhaps these visitors to Vauxhall who never had an existence are
more real to us to-day than all the countless thousands of men and
women who really trod its gravel walks. But the real and the unreal
alike are of the past, a memory for the fancy to play with as is
that of Vauxhall itself.



CHAPTER II.

RANELAGH.


During the latter half of the eighteenth century Vauxhall had a
serious rival in Ranelagh. No doubt the success of the former was
the cause of the latter. It may have been, too, that as the gardens
at Vauxhall became more and more a popular resort without
distinction of class, the need was felt of a rendezvous which should
be a little more select.

No doubt exists as to how Ranelagh came by its name. Toward the end
of the seventeenth century the Earl of Ranelagh built himself a
house at Chelsea, and surrounded it with gardens which were
voted the best in England for their size. This peer, who was
Paymaster-General of the Forces, seems to have taken keen pleasure
in house-planning and the laying out of grounds. Among the
manuscripts of the Marquis of Ormonde are many letters written by
him to the bearer of that title in the early eighteenth century,
which show that he assumed the oversight of building operations at
Ormonde's London house at that time. The minute attention he gave to
all kinds of detail's proves that he had gained experience by the
building of his own house not many years before.

But Ranelagh house and gardens had a short history as the residence
and pleasance of a nobleman. The earl died in 1712, and in 1730 it
became necessary to secure an act of Parliament to vest his property
at Chelsea in trustees. Three years later a sale took place, and the
house and larger portion of the grounds were purchased by persons
named Swift and Timbrell. It was at this stage the project of
establishing a rival to Vauxhall first took shape. The idea seems to
have originated with James Lacy, that patriotic patentee of Drury
Lane theatre who raised a band of two hundred men at the time of the
Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. He it was, also, who afterwards became a
partner with David Garrick. But, however successful he was to prove
as an organizer of volunteers, Lacy was not to shine as the founder
of a rival to Vauxhall. For some unexplained reason he abandoned his
share in the Ranelagh project, and eventually the matter was taken
in hand by Sir Thomas Robinson, who soon secured sufficient
financial support to carry the plan to a successful issue. Sir
Thomas provided a considerable share of the capital of sixteen
thousand pounds himself, and took a leading part in the management
of Ranelagh till his death in 1777. His gigantic figure and cheery
manners earned for him the titles of Ranelagh's Maypole and Gardand
of Delights.

As the gardens were already laid out in a handsome manner, the chief
matter requiring attention was the planning and erection of a
suitable main building. Hence the erection of the famous Rotunda,
the architectural credit of which is given to one William Jones. But
that honour is disputed. It is claimed that no less a person than
Henry VIII was responsible for the idea on which the Rotunda was
based. That king, according to one historian, caused a great
banqueting-house to be erected, eight hundred feet in compass,
after the manner of a theatre. "And in the midst of the same
banqueting-house," continued the historian, "was set up a great
pillar of timber, made of eight great masts, bound together with
iron bands for to hold them together: for it was a hundred and
thirty-four feet in length, and cost six pounds thirteen shillings
and fourpence to set it upright. The banqueting-house was covered
over with canvas, fastened with ropes and iron as fast as might be
devised; and within the said house was painted the heavens, with
stars, sun, moon, and clouds, with divers other things made above
men's heads. And above the high pillar of timber that stood upright
in the midst, was made stages of timber for organs and other
instruments to stand upon, and men to play on them." Such, it is
asserted, was the model the architect of the Rotunda at Ranelagh had
in view.

And really there appears to be good ground for laying this charge of
constructive plagiarism against the memory of William Jones. It is
true the building was on a scale somewhat smaller than that erected
at the order of Henry VIII, for its circumference was limited to
four hundred and fifty feet, while its greatest diameter was but one
hundred and eighty-five feet. But the planning of the interior of the
Rotunda bore a suspicious likeness to the royal banqueting-house.
The central portion of the building was a square erection consisting
of pillars and arches, and seems to have been a direct copy of those
eight great masts. Nor did the parallel end there. In the Rotunda at
Ranelagh as in the king's banqueting-house, this central
construction was designed as the place for the musicians. And even
the ceiling was something of a copy, for that of the Rotunda was
divided into panels, in each of which was painted a celestial figure
on a sky-blue ground.

On the general idea of the banqueting-house, however, Mr. Jones made
a number of improvements. The entrances to the Rotunda were four in
number, corresponding with the points of the compass, each
consisting of a portico designed after the manner of a triumphal
arch. The interior of the building presented, save for its central
erection, the aspect of a modern opera-house. Around the entire wall
was a circle of boxes, divided by wainscoting, and each decorated
with a "droll painting" and hung with a candle-lamp. Above these was
another tier of boxes, similarly fitted, each of them, fifty-two in
number, having accommodation for seven or eight persons. Higher up
was a circle of sixty windows. Although the building itself was
constructed of wood, it could boast of a plaster floor, which was
covered with matting. Scattered over that floor were numerous tables
covered with red baize whereon refreshments were served. Such was
the general arrangement of the Rotunda, but one alteration had
speedily to be made. It was quickly discovered that the central
erection was ill adapted for the use of the orchestra, and
consequently it was transformed into four fireplaces, which were
desirable locations in the cold months of the year.

Perhaps no surprise need be felt that Ranelagh was not ready when it
was opened. What public resort ever has been? The consequence was
that there were at least two opening ceremonies. The first took the
form of a public breakfast on April 5th, 1742, and was followed by
other early repasts of a like nature. One of these, seventeen days
later, provided Horace Walpole with the subject of the first of his
many descriptions of the place. "I have been breakfasting this
morning at Ranelagh Gardens;" he wrote, "they have built an immense
amphitheatre, with balconies full of little ale houses; it is in
rivalry to Vauxhall, and costs above twelve thousand pounds. The
building is not finished, but they get great sums by people going to
see it and breakfasting in the house: there were yesterday no less
than three hundred and eighty persons, at eighteen pence a piece."
About a month later another inaugural ceremony took place, which
Walpole duly reported. "Two nights ago Ranelagh Gardens were opened
at Chelsea; the prince, princess, duke, much nobility, and much mob
besides were there. There is a vast amphitheatre, finely gilt,
painted, and illuminated; into which everybody that loves eating,
drinking, staring, or crowding is admitted for twelve pence. The
building and disposition of the gardens cost sixteen thousand
pounds. Twice a week there are to be ridottos at guinea tickets, for
which you are to have a supper and music. I was there last night,
but did not feel the joy of it. Vauxhall is a little better, for the
garden is pleasanter, and one goes by water." In time, however,
Walpole was converted to the superior attractions of the new resort.
Two years later he confessed that he went every night to Ranelagh,
that it had totally beaten Vauxhall, and that it had the patronage
of everybody who was anybody. Lord Chesterfield bad fallen so much
in love with the place that he had ordered all his letters to be
directed thither.

[Illustration: VENETIAN MASQUERADE AT RANELAGH, 1749.]

Many red-letter days are set down in the history of Ranelagh during
the sixty years of its existence, but its historians are agreed that
the most famous of the entertainments given there was the Venetian
Masquerade in honour of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle on April 26th,
1749. For the most spirited narrative of that festival, recourse
must--be had to the letters of Walpole. Peace was proclaimed on the
25th, and the next day, Walpole wrote, "was what was called a
Jubilee Masquerade in the Venetian manner, at Ranelagh; it had
nothing Venetian in it, but was by far the best understood and
prettiest spectacle I ever saw; nothing in a fairy tale even
surpassed it. One of the proprietors, who is a German, and belongs
to the Court, had got my Lady Yarmouth to persuade the King to order
it. It began at three o'clock, and about five people of fashion
began to go. When you entered you found the whole garden filled with
masks and spread with tents, which remained all night very
commodely. In one quarter was a Maypole dressed with garlands and
people dancing round it to a tabor and pipes and rustic music, all
masqued, as were all the various bands of music that were dispersed
in different parts of the garden; some like huntsmen with French
horns, some like peasants, and a troop of harlequins and
scaramouches in the little open temple on the mount. On the Canal
was a sort of gondola adorned with flags and streamers, and filled
with music, rowing about. All round the outside of the amphitheatre
were shops filled with Dresden china, Japan, etc., and all the
shopkeepers in mask. The amphitheatre was illuminated, and in the
middle was a circular bower, composed of all kinds of firs in tubs,
from twenty to thirty feet high; under them orange trees with small
lamps in each orange, and below them all sorts of the finest
auriculas in pots; and festoons of natural flowers hanging from tree
to tree. Between the arches, too, were firs, and smaller ones in the
balconies above. There were booths for tea and wine, gaming tables
and dancing, and about two thousand persons. In short it pleased me
more than anything I ever saw."

But there was another side to all this. Vauxhall evidently looked on
with envious eyes, and those who were interested in the welfare of
that resort managed to engineer opposition to the Venetian fete in
the form of satirical prints and letterpress. Perhaps they did more.
At any rate it is a significant fact that shortly afterwards the
justices of Middlesex were somehow put in motion, and made such
representations to the authorities at Ranelagh that they were
obliged to give an undertaking not to indulge in any more public
masques. This, however, did not prevent the subscription carnival in
celebration of a royal birthday in May, 1750, when there was "much
good company but more bad company," the members of which were
"dressed or undress'd" as they thought fit.

Ranelagh was evidently an acquired taste. It has been seen that
Walpole did not take to the place at first, but afterwards became
one of its most enthusiastic admirers. And there was a famous friend
of Walpole who passed through the same experience. This was the poet
Gray, who, three years after the resort was opened declared that he
had no intention of following the crowd to Ranelagh.

"I have never been at Ranelagh Gardens since they were opened," is
his confession to a friend. "They do not succeed: people see it
once, or twice, and so they go to Vauxhall."

"Well, but is it not a very great design, very new, finely lighted?"

"Well, yes, aye, very fine truly, so they yawn and go to Vauxhall,
and then it's too hot, and then it's too cold, and here's a wind and
there's a damp."

Perhaps it is something of a surprise to find the author of the
"Elegy" interested in public gardens at all, but given such an
interest it would have been thought that Ranelagh was more to his
taste than Vauxhall. And so it proved in the end. Like his Eton
friend Walpole, he became a convert and so hearty an admirer of the
Chelsea resort that he spent many evenings there in the August of
1746.

Other notable visitors to Ranelagh included Goldsmith and Sir Joshua
Reynolds, and Dr. Johnson and Tobias Smollett. It seems more than
likely that Ranelagh with the first couple figured largely in that
round of pleasures which kept them from the meetings of The Club to
'the disgust of Beauclerk, but Goldsmith might have justified his
visits on the plea that he was gathering "local colour" for that
letter by Belinda which he introduced into the "Citizen of the
World." No doubt he saw many a colonel there answering to that ft
irresistible fellow "who made such an impression on Belinda's
heart." So well-dressed, so neat, so sprightly, and plays about one
so agreeably, that I vow he has as much spirits as the Marquis of
Monkeyman's Italian greyhound. I first saw him at Ranelagh: he
shines there: he is nothing without Ranelagh, and Ranelagh nothing
without him. "Perhaps Sir Joshua would have excused his idling at
Ranelagh on the ground of looking for models, or the hints it
afforded for future pictures."

With Dr. Johnson it was different. Ranelagh was to him a "place of
innocent recreation" and nothing more. The "_COUP d'ceil_ was
the finest thing he had ever seen," Boswell reports, and then makes
his own comparison between that place and the Pantheon. "The truth
is, Ranelagh is of a more beautiful form; more of it, or rather,
indeed, the whole Rotunda, appears at once, and it is better
lighted. However, as Johnson observed, we saw the Pantheon in time
of mourning, when there was a dull uniformity; whereas we had seen
Ranelagh, when the view was enlivened with a gay profusion of
colours." No small part of Johnson's pleasure during his visits to
Ranelagh was derived from uncomplimentary reflections on the mental
conditions of its frequenters. Boswell had been talking one day in
the vein of his hero's poem on the "Vanity of Human Wishes," and
commented on the persistence with which things were done upon the
supposition of happiness, as witness the splendid places of public
amusement, crowded with company.

"Alas, Sir," said Johnson in a kind of appendix to his poem, "these
are all only struggles for happiness. When I first entered Ranelagh,
it gave an expansion and gay sensation, to my mind, such as I never
experienced any where else. But, as Xerxes wept when he viewed his
immense army, and considered that not one of that great multitude
would be alive a hundred years afterwards, so it went to my heart to
consider that there was not one in all that brilliant circle, that
was not afraid to go home and think; but that the thoughts of each
individual there would be distressing when alone."

Smollett, like Goldsmith, made good use of his visits to Ranelagh.
With the enterprise of the observant novelist, he turned his
experiences into "copy." And with that ubiquity of vision which is
the privilege of the master of fiction he was able to see the place
from two points of view. To Matt. Bramble, that devotee of solitude
and mountains, the Chelsea resort was one of the worst inflictions
of London.

"What are the amusements of Ranelagh?" he asked. "One half of the
company are following one another's tails, in an eternal circle;
like so many blind asses in an olive-mill, where they can neither
discourse, distinguish, nor be distinguished; while the other half
are drinking hot water, under the denomination of tea, till nine or
ten o'clock at night, to keep them awake for the rest of the
evening. As for the orchestra, the vocal music especially, it is
well for the performers that they cannot be heard distinctly." But
Smollett does not leave Ranelagh at that. Lydia also visited the
place and was enraptured with everything. To her it looked like an
enchanted palace "of a genio, adorned with the most exquisite
performances of painting, carving, and gilding, enlighted with a
thousand golden lamps, that emulate the noon-day sun; crowded with
the great, the rich, the gay, the happy, and the fair; glittering
with cloth of gold and silver, lace, embroidery, and precious
stones. While these exulting sons and daughters of felicity tread
this round of pleasure, or regale in different parties, and separate
lodges, with fine imperial tea and other delicious refreshments,
their ears are entertained with the most ravishing music, both
instrumental and vocal." If the management of Ranelagh had been on
the lookout for a press agent, they would doubtless have preferred
Smollett in his Lydia mood.

Only occasionally was the even tenor of Ranelagh amusement disturbed
by an untoward event. One such occasion was due to that notorious
Dr. John Hill who figures so largely in Isaac Disraeli's "Calamities
and Quarrels of Authors." Few men have tried more ways of getting a
living than he. As a youth he was apprenticed to an apothecary, but
in early manhood he turned to botany and travelled all over England
in search of rare plants which he intended drying by a special
process and publishing by subscription. When that scheme failed, he
took to the stage, and shortly after wrote the words of an opera
which was sent to Rich and rejected. This was the beginning of
authorship with Hill, whose pen, however, brought more quarrels on
his head than guineas into his pockets. And it was his authorship
which connected him with the history of Ranelagh. One of Hill's
ventures was to provide the town with a daily paper called The
Inspector, in the pages of which he made free with the character of
an Irish gentleman named Brown. Usually the men Hill attacked were
writers, who flayed him with their pens whenever they thought there
was occasion. Hence the conclusive epigram with which Garrick
rewarded an attack on himself:

  "For physic and farces, his equal there _scarce_ is,
   His farces are physic, his physic a farce is."

[Illustration: THE ASSAULT ON DR. JOHN HILL AND RANELAGH.]

But Mr. Brown was a man of action, not words. So he sought out his
assailant at Ranelagh on the night of May eth, 1752, and caned him
in the Rotunda in the presence of a large company. Here was
excitement indeed for Ranelagh, and the affair was the talk of the
town for many a day afterwards. Of course Hill did not retort in
kind; on the contrary he showed himself to be an abject coward and
took his thrashing without any bodily protest. That he made loud
vocal protest seems likely enough. Hence the point of the pictorial
satire which was quickly on sale at the London print-shops. This
drawing depicted Hill being seized by the ear by the irate Mr.
Brown, who is represented as exclaiming, "Draw your sword, libeller,
if you have the spirit, of a mouse."

The only reply of Hill was, "What? against an illiterate fellow that
can't spell? I prefer a drubbing. Oh, Mr. P----, get me the
constable, for here's a gentleman going to murder me!"

Mr. P----, who is seen hastening from behind a pillar of the
Rotunda, replies: "Yes, sir, yes. Pray young gentleman don't hurt
him, for he never has any meaning in what he writes."

Hill took to his bed, raised an action against Mr. Brown for
assault, and proclaimed from the housetops that there was a
conspiracy to murder him. This brought forth a second print, showing
Hill in bed and attended by doctors, one of whom, in reply to the
patient's plea that he had no money, responds, "Sell your sword, it
is only an encumbrance."

Another lively episode disturbed the peace of Ranelagh on the night
of May 11th, 1764. Several years previously some daring spirits
among the wealthier classes had started a movement for the abolition
of vails, otherwise "tips," to servants, and the leaders of that
movement were subjected to all kinds of annoyance from the class
concerned. On the night in question the resentment of coachmen,
footmen and other servants developed into a serious riot at
Ranelagh, special attention being paid to those members of the
nobility and gentry who would not suffer their employees to take
vails from their guests. "They, began," says a chronicle of the
time, "by hissing their masters, they then broke all the lamps and
outside windows with stones; and afterwards putting out their
flambeaux, pelted the company, in a most audacious manner, with
brickbats, etc., whereby several were greatly hurt." This attack was
not received in the submissive spirit of Dr. Hill; the assaulted
gentry drew their swords to beat back the rioters and severely
wounded not a few. They probably enjoyed the diversion from the
ordinary pleasures of Ranelagh.

How gladly the frequenters of the gardens welcomed the slightest
departure from the normal proceedings of the place may be inferred
from the importance which was attached to an incident which took
place soon after 1770. Public mourning was in order for some one,
and of course the regular patrons of Ranelagh expressed their
obedience to the court edict by appropriate attire. One evening,
however, it was observed that there were two gentlemen in the
gardens dressed in coloured clothes. It was obvious they were
strangers to the place and unknown to each other. Their
inappropriate costume quickly attracted attention, and became the
subject of general conversation, and, such a dearth was there of
excitement, Lord Spencer Hamilton aroused feverish interest by
laying a wager that before the night was out he would have the two
strangers walking arm in arm. The wager taken, he set to work in an
adroit manner. Watching one of the strangers until he sat down, he
immediately placed himself by his side, and entered into
conversation. A few minutes later Lord Spencer left his new friend
in search of the other stranger, to whom he addressed some civil
remark, and accompanied on a stroll round the gardens. Coming back
eventually to the seat on which the first stranger was still
resting, Lord Spencer had no difficulty in persuading his second new
acquaintance to take a seat also, The conversation of the trio
naturally became general, and a little later Lord Spencer suggested
a promenade. On starting off he offered his arm to the first
stranger, who paid the same compliment to stranger number two, with
the result that Lord Spencer was able to direct the little
procession to the vicinity of his friends, and so demonstrate that
the wager was won. So simple an incident furnished Ranelagh with
great amusement for an entire evening!

What the management provided by way of entertainment has been
partially hinted at. Music appears to have been the chief stand-by
from the first and was provided at breakfast time as well as at
night. Many notable players and singers appeared in the Rotunda,
including Mozart, who, as a boy of eight, played some of his own
compositions on the harpsichord and organ, and Dibdin, the famous
ballad singer. Fireworks were a later attraction, as also was the
exhibition named Mount Etna, which called for a special building.
Occasional variety was provided by regattas and shooting-matches,
and balloon-ascents, and displays of diving.

No doubt Ranelagh was at its best and gayest when the scene of a
masquerade. But unfortunately those entertainments had their
sinister side. Fielding impeaches them in "Amelia" by their results,
and the novelist was not alone in his criticism. The Connoisseur
devoted a paper to the evils of those gatherings, deriding them as
foreign innovations, and recalling the example of the lady who had
proposed to attend one in the undress garb of Iphigenia. "What the
above-mentioned lady had the hardiness to attempt alone," the writer
continued, "will (I am assured) be set on foot by our persons of
fashion, as soon as the hot days come in. Ranelagh is the place
pitched upon for their meeting; where it is proposed to have a
masquerade _al fresco,_ and the whole company are to display
all their charms in _puris naturalibus._ The pantheon of the
heathen gods, Ovid's Metamorphoses, and Titian's prints, will supply
them with sufficient variety of undressed characters." A cynic might
harbour the suspicion that this critic was in the pay of Vauxhall.

Even he, however, did not utter the worst about the amusements of
Ranelagh. The truth was known to all but confessed by few. The
outspoken Matt. Bramble in the indictment cited above gave emphatic
utterance to the fact that the chief recreation at Ranelagh was
worse than none at all. "One may be easily tired" of the place, was
the verdict of a noble lord in 1746; "it is always the same." And to
the same effect is the conclusion reached by a French visitor, who
was delighted for five minutes, and then oppressed with satiety and
indifference. When the visitor had made the promenade of the
Rotunda, there was practically nothing for him to do save make it
again. Hence the mill-round of monotony so aptly expressed by the
Suffolk village poet, Robert Bloomfield, who was lured to Ranelagh
one night shortly before its doors were finally closed.

  "To Kanelagh, once in my life,
     By good-natur'd force I was driven;
   The nations had ceas'd their long strife,
     And Peace beam'd her radiance from Heaven.
   What wonders were there to be found,
     That a clown might enjoy or disdain?
   First, we trac'd the gay ring all around;
     Aye--_and then we went_ round _it_ again.

  "A thousand feet rustled on mats,
     A carpet that once had been green,
   Men bow'd with their outlandish hats,
     With corners so fearfully keen!
   Fair maids, who, at home in their haste,
     Had left all their clothes but a train,
   Swept the floor clean, as slowly they pac'd,
     Then.--walked round and swept it again.

  "The music was truly enchanting,
     Right glad was I when I came near it;
   But in fashion I found I was wanting--
     'Twas the fashion to walk, and not hear it.
   A fine youth, as beauty beset him,
     Look'd smilingly round on the train,
   'The King's nephew,' they cried, as they met him.
     Then-we _went_ round and met _him_ again.

  "Huge paintings of heroes and peace
     Seem'd to smile at the sound of the fiddle,
   Proud to fill up each tall shining space,
     Round the lantern that stood in the middle.
   And George's head too; Heaven screen him;
     May he finish in peace his long reign:
   And what did we when we had seen him?
     Why-went round and _saw him again_."

That poem ought to have killed Ranelagh had the resort 'not been
near its demise at the time it was written. But there was to be one
final flare-up ere the end came. On a June night in 1803 the Rotunda
was the scene of its last ball. The occasion was the Installation of
the Knights of the Bath, and produced, on the authority of the
Annual Register, "one of the most splendid entertainments ever given
in this country." The cost was estimated at seven thousand pounds,
which may well have been the case when the guests ate cherries at a
guinea a pound and peas at fourteen shillings a quart. That fête was
practically the last of Ranelagh; about a month later the music
ceased and the lamps were extinguished for ever. And the "struggles
for happiness" of sixty years were ended.



CHAPTER III.

OTHER FAVOURITE RESORTS.


Prior to the eighteenth century the Londoner was ill provided with
outdoor pleasure resorts. It is true he had the Paris Garden at
Bankside, which Donald Lupton declared might be better termed "a
foul den than a fair garden. It's a pity," he added, "so good a
piece of ground is no better employed;" but, apart from two or three
places of that character, his _al fresco_ amusements were
exceedingly limited. It should not be forgotten, however, that the
ale-houses of those days frequently had a plot of land attached to
them, wherein a game of bowls might be enjoyed.

But the object-lesson of Vauxhall changed all that. From the date
when that resort passed into the energetic management of Jonathan
Tyers, smaller pleasure gardens sprang into existence all over
London. By the middle of the eighteenth century they had grown so
numerous that it would be a serious undertaking to attempt an
exhaustive catalogue. As, however, they had so many features in
common, and passed through such kindred stages of development, the
purpose of this survey will be sufficiently served by a brief
history of four or five typical examples.

How general was the impression that Vauxhall had served as a model
in most instances may be seen from the remark of a historian of 1761
to the effect that the Marylebone Garden was to be "considered as a
kind of humble imitation of Vauxhall." Had Pepys' Diary been in
print at that date, and known to the proprietor, he would have been
justified in resenting the comparison. For, as a matter of fact, the
diarist, under the date of May 7th, 1668, had actually set down this
record: "Then we abroad to Marrowbone, and there walked in the
garden, the first time I ever was there, and a pretty place it is."
At a first glance this entry might be regarded as disposing of the
charge of imitation on the part of Marylebone Gardens. Such,
however, is not strictly the case. It is true there were gardens
here at the middle of the seventeenth century, but they were part of
the grounds of the old manor-house, and practically answered to
those tavern bowling-alleys to which reference has been made. The
principal of these was attached to the tavern known as the Rose,
which was a favourite haunt of the Duke of Buckingham, and the scene
of his end-of-the-season dinner at which he always gave the toast:
"May as many of us as remain unhanged next spring meet here again."

What needs to be specially noted in connection with the history of
this resort is, that it was not until 1737--five years after the
opening of Vauxhall under Tyers--that the owner of Marylebone
Gardens, Daniel Gough, sufficiently put the place in order to
warrant a charge for admission. In the following year the place was
formally advertised as a resort for evening amusement, that
announcement marking a definite competition with Vauxhall. The
buildings at this time comprised a spacious garden-orchestra fitted
with an organ, and what was called the Great Room, an apartment
specially adapted for balls and suppers.

Many singers, some famous and other notorious, entertained the
patrons of Marylebone Gardens. From 1747 to 1752 the principal
female vocalist was Mary Ann Falkner, who, after a respectable
marriage, became the subject of an arrangement on the part of her
idle husband whereby she passed under the protection of the Earl of
Halifax. She bore two children to that peer, and so maintained her
power over him that for her sake he broke off an engagement with a
wealthy lady. Another songstress, fair and frail, was the celebrated
Nan Catley, the daughter of a coachman, whose beauty of face and
voice and freedom of manners quickly made her notorious. She had
already been the subject of an exciting law suit when she appeared
at Marylebone at the age of eighteen. Miss Catley had been engaged
by Thomas Lowe, the favourite tenor, who in 1763 became the lessee
of the gardens, and opened his season with a "Musical Address to the
Town," sung by himself, Miss Catley and Miss Smith. The address
apologized for the lack of some of the attractions of Vauxhall and
Ranelagh, but added--

   "Yet nature some blessings has scattered around;
   And means to improve may hereafter be found."

Presuming that Lowe kept his promise, that did not prevent failure
overtaking him as a caterer of public amusement. He lacked
enterprise as a manager, and a wet summer in 1767 resulted in
financial catastrophe.

More serious musical efforts than ballad concerts were attempted at
Marylebone from time to time. That this had been the case even
before Dr. Samuel Arnold became proprietor of the gardens is
illustrated by an anecdote of Dr. Fountayne and Handel, who often
frequented the place. Being there together on one occasion the great
composer asked his friend's opinion of a new composition being
played by the band. After listening a few minutes, Dr. Fountayne
proposed that they resume their walk, for, said he, "it's not worth
listening to--it's very poor stuff." "You are right, Mr. Fountayne,"
Handel replied, "it is very poor stuff. I thought so myself when I
had finished it."

Fireworks were not added to the attractions until 1751, and even
then the displays were only occasional features for some years. In
1772, however, that part of the entertainment was deputed to the
well-known Torré, whose unique fireworks were the talk of London. He
had one set piece called the Forge of Vulcan, which was so popular
that its repetition was frequently demanded. According to George
Steevens, it was the fame of Torré's fireworks which impelled Dr.
Johnson to visit the gardens one night in his company. "The evening
had proved showery," wrote Steevens in his account of the outing,
"and soon after the few people present were assembled, public notice
was given that the conductors of the wheels, suns, stars, etc., were
so thoroughly water-soaked that it was impossible any part of the
exhibition should be made. 'That's a mere excuse,' says the Doctor,
'to save their crackers for a more profitable company. Let us both
hold up our sticks, and threaten to break these coloured lamps that
surround the orchestra, and we shall soon have our wishes gratified.
The core of the fireworks cannot be injured; let the different
pieces be touched in their respective centres, and they will do
their offices as well as ever.' Some young men who overheard him
immediately began the violence he had recommended, and an attempt
was speedily made to fire some of the wheels which appeared to have
received the smallest damage; but to little purpose were they
lighted, for most of them completely failed."

[Illustration: MARYLEBONE GARDENS.]

Apparently that was not the only occasion when the management failed
to keep faith with the public. In July, 1774, the newspaper severely
criticised the proprietors for having charged an admission fee of
five shillings to a Fête Champètre, which consisted of nothing more
than a few tawdry festoons and extra lamps, and another mentor of an
earlier date had dismissed the whole place as "nothing more than two
or three gravel roads, and a few shapeless trees." Altogether,
popular as Torre's fireworks were when they went off, it is not
improbable that they had a considerable share in terminating the
existence of the gardens. Houses were increasing fast in the
neighbourhood, and the dwellers in those houses objected to being
bombarded with rockets. At any rate, six years after the renowned
Torré began his pyrotechnics, the site of the gardens fell into the
hands of builders and the seeker of out-door amusement had to find
his enjoyment elsewhere.

Perhaps some of the frequenters of Marylebone Gardens transferred
their patronage to the White Conduit House, situated two or three
miles to the north-east. Here again is an example of a pleasure
resort developing partially from an ale-house, for the legend is
that the White Conduit House was at first a small tavern, the
finishing touches to which were given, to the accompaniment of much
hard drinking, on the day Charles I lost his head.

[Illustration: WHITE CONDUIT HOUSE.]

Unusual as is the name of this resort, it is largely
self-explanatory. There was a water-conduit in an adjacent field,
which was faced with white stone, and hence the name. The house
itself, however, had its own grounds, which were attractively laid
out when the whole property was reconstructed somewhere about 1745.
At that time a Long Room was erected, and the gardens provided with
a fish-pond and numerous arbours. The popularity of the place seems
to date from the proprietorship of Robert Bartholomew, who acquired
the property in 1754, and to have continued unabated till nearly the
end of the century. Mr. Bartholomew did not overlook any of his
attractions in the announcement he made on taking possession; "For
the better accommodation of ladies and gentlemen," so the
advertisement ran, "I have completed a long walk, with a handsome
circular fish-pond, a number of shady pleasant arbours, inclosed
with a fence seven feet high to prevent being the least incommoded
from people in the fields; hot loaves and butter every day, milk
directly from the cows, coffee, tea, and all manner of liquors in
the greatest perfection; also a handsome long room, from whence is
the most copious prospects and airy situation of any now in vogue. I
humbly hope the continuance of my friends' favours, as I make it my
chief study to have the best accommodations, and am, ladies and
gentlemen, your obliged humble servant, Robert Bartholomew. Note. My
cows eat no grains, neither any adulteration in milk or cream." It
is obvious that Mr. Bartholomew's enthusiasm made him reckless of
grammar, and that some of his ladies and gentlemen might have
objected to have their butter hot; but it is equally plain that here
was a man who knew his business.

And he did not fail of adequate reward. Six years after the
publication of that seductive announcement the resort had become so
popular, especially as the objective of a Sunday outing, that its
praises were sung in poetry in so reputable a periodical as the
Gentleman's Magazine. The verses describe the joy of the London
'Prentice on the return of Sunday, and give a spirited picture of
the scene at the gardens.

                   "His meal meridian o'er,
   With switch in hand, he to White Conduit House
   Hies merry-hearted. Human beings here
   In couples multitudinous assemble,
   Forming the drollest groups that ever trod
   Fair Islingtonian plains. Male after male,
   Dog after dog succeeding--husbands, wives,
   Fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters, friends,
   And pretty little boys and girls. Around,
   Across, along, the gardens' shrubby maze,
   They walk, they sit, they stand. What crowds press on,
   Eager to mount the stairs, eager to catch
   First vacant bench or chair in long room plac'd.
   Here prig with prig holds conference polite,
   And indiscriminate the gaudy beau
   And sloven mix. Here he, who all the week
   Took bearded mortals by the nose, or sat
   Weaving dead hairs, and whistling wretched strain,
   And eke the sturdy youth, whose trade it is
   Stout oxen to contund, with gold-bound hat
   And silken stocking strut. The red arm'd belle
   Here shows her tasty gown, proud to be thought
   The butterfly of fashion: and forsooth
   Her haughty mistress deigns for once to tread
   The same unhallow'd floor.--`Tis hurry all
   And rattling cups and saucers. Waiter here,
   And waiter there, and waiter here and there,
   At once is call'd--Joe--Joe--Joe--Joe--Joe--
   Joe on the right--and Joe upon the left,
   For ev'ry vocal pipe re-echoes Joe.
   Alas, poor Joe! Like Francis in the play
   He stands confounded, anxious how to please
   The many-headed throng. But shou'd I paint
   The language, humours, custom of the place,
   Together with all curts'ys, lowly bows,
   And compliments extern, 'twould swell my page
   Beyond its limits due. Suffice it then
   For my prophetic muse to say, 'So long
   As fashion rides upon the wings of time,
   While tea and cream, and butter'd rolls can please,
   While rival beaux and jealous belles exist,
   So long, White Conduit House, shall be thy fame.'"

More distinguished members of the community than the London
'prentice and the "red arm'd belle" frequented the gardens now and
then. About 1762 the place was a favourite resort with Oliver
Goldsmith, and was the scene of a typical episode in his life. While
strolling in the gardens one afternoon he met the three daughters of
a tradesman to whom he was under obligation, and of course must
needs invite them to take tea as his guests. But when the time of
reckoning came he found, characteristically enough, that his pocket
was empty. Happily some friends were near to rescue him from his
difficulty, but the crucial moment of the incident was to be
perpetuated in all its ludicrous humour by an artist of a later
generation, who, in the painting entitled "An Awkward Position,"
depicted the poet at the moment when he discovered his pockets were
empty.

Later in its history the White Conduit House became known as the
"Minor Vauxhall" and was the scene of balloon ascents, fireworks,
and evening concerts. Gradually, however, it fell on evil days, and
in 1849 it passed permanently into the history of old London.

No one traversing that sordid thoroughfare known as King's Cross
Road in the London of to-day could imagine that that highway was the
locality in the mid-eighteenth century of one of the most popular
resorts of the English capital. Such, however, was the case. At that
time the highway was known as Bagnigge Wells Road, and at its
northern extremity was situated the resort known as Bagnigge Wells.
The early history of the place is somewhat obscure. Tradition has it
that the original house was a summer residence of Nell Gwynne, where
she frequently entertained her royal lover. It has also been stated
that there was a place of public entertainment here as early as
1738.

Whatever truth there may be in both those assertions, there is no
gainsaying the fact that the prosperity of Bagnigge Wells dates from
a discovery made by a Mr. Hughes, the tenant of the house, in 1757.
This Mr. Hughes took a pride in his garden, and was consequently
much distressed to find that the more he used his watering-can, the
less his flowers thrived. At this juncture a Dr. Bevis appeared on
the scene, to whom the curious circumstance was mentioned. On
tasting the water from the garden well he was surprised to find its
"flavour so near that of the best chalybeates," and at once informed
Mr. Hughes that it might be made of great benefit both to the public
and himself. The next day a huge bottle of the water was delivered
at Dr. Bevis's house, and analysis confirmed his first impression.
Before he could proceed further in the matter, Dr. Bevis fell ill,
and by the time he had recovered notable doings had been
accomplished at Bagnigge Wells.

For Mr. Hughes was not wholly absorbed in the cultivation of
flowers. Visions of wealth residing in that well evidently captured
his imagination, and he at once set to work fitting up his gardens
as a kind of spa, where the public could drink for his financial
benefit. A second well was sunk and found to yield another variety
of mineral water, and the two waters were connected with a double
pump over which a circular edifice named the Temple was constructed.
Other attractions were added as their necessity became apparent.
They included a spacious banqueting hall known as the Long Room,
provided with an organ, and the laying out of the gardens in
approved style. No doubt the curative qualities of the waters
speedily became a secondary consideration with the patrons of the
place, but that probably troubled Mr. Hughes not at all so long as
those patrons came in sufficient numbers.

That they did come in crowds is demonstrated by the literature which
sprang up around the gardens, and by many other evidences. On its
medicinal side the place was celebrated by one poet in these
strains:

   "Ye gouty old souls and rheumatics crawl on,
   Here taste these blest springs, and your tortures are gone;
   Ye wretches asthmatick, who pant for your breath,
   Come drink your relief, and think not of death.
   Obey the glad summons, to Bagnigge repair,
   Drink deep of its waters, and forget all your care.

   "The distemper'd shall drink and forget all his pain,
   When his blood flows more briskly through every vein;
   The headache shall vanish, the heartache shall cease,
   And your lives be enjoyed in more pleasure and peace
   Obey then the summons, to Bagnigge repair,
   And drink an oblivion to pain and to care."

Twenty years later the muse of Bagnigge Wells was pitched in a
different key. The character  of the frequenters had changed for the
worse. Instead of "gouty old souls," and "rheumatics," and
"asthmaticks," the most noted Cyprians of the day had made the place
their rendezvous. So the poet sings of

   "Thy arbours, Bagnigge, and the gay alcove,
   Where the frail nymphs in am'rous dalliance rove."

[Illustration: BAGNIGGE WELLS.]

Concurrently with this change the gentlemen of the road began to
favour the gardens with their presence, chief among their number
being that notorious highwayman John Rann, otherwise known as
Sixteen-String Jack from his habit of wearing a bunch of eight
ribbons on each knee. But he came to Bagnigge once too often, for,
after insisting on paying unwelcome attentions to a lady in the
ball-room, he was seized by some members of the company and thrown
out of a window into the Fleet river below.

Notwithstanding this deterioration, the proprietor of the place in
1779 in announcing the opening for the season still dwelt upon the
invaluable properties of the waters, not forgetting to add that
"ladies and gentlemen may depend on having the best of Tea, Coffee,
etc., with hot loaves, every morning and evening." But nothing could
ward off the pending catastrophe. "Bagnigge Wells," wrote the
historian of its decline, "sported its fountains, with little wooden
cupids spouting water day and night, but it fearfully realized the
_facilis descensus Averni_. The gardens were curtailed of their
fair proportions, and this once famous resort sank down to a
threepenny concert-room." It struggled on in that lowly guise, for a
number of years, but the end came in 1841, and now even the name of
the road in which it existed is wiped off the map of London.

More fortunate in that respect was the Bermondsey Spa, the name of
which is perpetuated to this day in the Spa Road of that malodorous
neighbourhood. This resort, which, like Bagnigge Wells, owed its
creation to the discovery of a chalybeate spring, is bound up with
the life-story of a somewhat remarkable man, Thomas Keyse by name.
Born in 1722, he became a self-taught artist of such skill that
several of his still-life paintings were deemed worthy of exhibition
at the Royal Academy. He was also awarded a premium of thirty
guineas by the Society of Arts for a new method of fixing crayon
drawings.

But thirty guineas and the glory of being an exhibitor at the Royal
Academy were hardly adequate for subsistence, and hence, somewhere
about 1765, Keyse turned to the less distinguished but more
profitable occupation of tavern-keeper. Having purchased the
Waterman's Arms at Bermondsey, with some adjoining waste land, he
transformed the place into a tea-garden. Shortly afterwards a
chalybeate spring was discovered in the grounds, an event which
obliterated the name of the Waterman's Arms in favour of the
Bermondsey Spa Gardens. The ground was duly laid out in pleasant
walks, with the usual accompaniments of leafy arbours and other
quiet nooks for tea-parties. The next step was to secure a music
license, fit up an orchestra, adorn the trees with coloured lamps,
organize occasional displays of fireworks, and challenge comparison
with Vauxhall if only on a small scale. One of the attractions
reserved for special occasion was a scenic representation of the
Siege of Gibraltar, in which fireworks, transparencies, and bomb
shells played a prominent part. Keyse himself was responsible for
the device by which the idea was carried out, and the performance
was so realistic that it was declared to give "a very strong idea of
the real Siege."

Hearty as were the plaudits bestowed upon the Siege of Gibraltar,
there is not much risk in hazarding the opinion that Keyse took more
pride in the picture-gallery of his own paintings than in any other
feature of his establishment. The canvases included representations
of all kinds of still life, and, thanks to the recording pen of J.
T. Smith, that enthusiastic lover of old London, it is still
possible to make the round of the gallery in the company of the
artist-proprietor. Mr. Smith visited the gardens when public
patronage had declined to a low ebb, so that he had the gallery all
to himself, as he imagined. "Stepping back to study the picture of
the 'Greenstall,' 'I ask your pardon,' said I, for I had trodden on
some one's toes. 'Sir, it is granted,' replied a little, thick-set
man with a round face, arch looks, and close-curled wig, surmounted
by a small three-cornered hat put very knowingly on one side, not
unlike Hogarth's head in his print of the 'Gates of Calais.' 'You
are an artist, I presume; I noticed you from the end of the gallery,
when you first stepped back to look at my best picture. I painted
all the objects in this room from nature and still life.' 'Your
Green-grocer's Shop,' said I, 'is inimitable; the drops of water on
that savoy appear as if they had just fallen from the element. Van
Huysun could not have pencilled them with greater delicacy.' 'What
do you think,' said he, 'of my Butcher's Shop?' 'Your pluck is
bleeding fresh, and your sweetbread is in a clean plate.' 'How do
you like my bull's eye?' 'Why, it would be a most excellent one for
Adams or Dolland to lecture upon. Your knuckle of veal is the finest
I ever saw.' 'It's young meat,' replied he; 'any one who is a judge
of meat can tell that from the blueness of its bone.' 'What a
beautiful white you have used on the fat of that Southdown leg! or
is it Bagshot?' 'Yes,' said he, 'my solitary visitor, it is Bagshot:
and as for my white, that is the best Nottingham, which you or any
artist can procure at Stone and Puncheon's, Bishopsgate Street
Within.' 'Sir Joshua Reynolds,' continued Mr. Keyse, 'paid me two
visits. On the second, he asked me what white I had used; and when I
told him, he observed, "It's very extraordinary, sir, that it keeps
so bright. I use the same." "Not at all, sir," I rejoined: "the
doors of this gallery are open day and night; and the admission of
fresh air, together with the great expansion of light from the
sashes above, will never suffer the white to turn yellow."'"

And then the enthusiastic artist and his solitary patron walked out
to the orchestra in the gardens, sole auditors of the singer who had
to sing by contract whether few or many were present. It is a
pathetic record, portending the final closing of Bermondsey Spa but
a few years later.

On the return journey to Southwark, the Southwark of Chaucer's
Tabard, the pilgrim among these memories of the past may tread the
ground where Finch's Grotto Gardens once re-echoed to laughter and
song. They were established in 1760 by one Thomas Finch, who was of
the fraternity of Thomas Keyse, even though he was but a Herald
Painter. Falling heir to a house and pleasant garden, encircled with
lofty trees and umbrageous with evergreens and shrubs, he decided to
convert the place into a resort for public amusement. The adornments
consisted of a grotto, built over a mineral spring, and a fountain,
and an orchestra, and an Octagon Room for balls and refuge from wet
evenings. The vocalists included Sophia Snow, afterwards as Mrs.
Baddeley to become notorious for her beauty and frailty, and Thomas
Lowe, the one-time favourite of Vauxhall, whose financial failure at
Marylebone made him thankful to accept an engagement at this more
lowly resort. But Finch's Grotto Gardens were not destined to a long
life. Perhaps they were too near Vauxhall to succeed; perhaps the
policy, of engaging had-been favourites was as little likely to
bring prosperity in the eighteenth as in the twentieth century.
Whatever the cause, the fact is on record that after a career of
less than twenty years the gardens ceased to exist.

[Illustration: FINCH'S GROTTO, SOUTHWARK.]

As has been seen in an earlier chapter, the great prototype of the
pleasure gardens of old London, Vauxhall, outlived all its
competitors for half a century. But upon even that favourite resort
the changing manners of a new time had fatal effect. As knowledge
grew and taste became more diversified, it became less and less easy
to cater for the amusement of the many. To the student of old-time
manners, however, the history of the out-door resorts of old London
is full of instruction and suggestion, if only for the light it
throws on these "struggles for happiness" which help to distinguish
man from the brute creation.

THE END.



INDEX


"A Cup of Coffee, or Coffee in its Colours,"
Adam and Eve Tavern
Adam., the brothers
Addison, Joseph
Adelphi hotel
Aix-la-Chapelle, Peace of
Alice's coffee-house
Alfred Club
Almack, William
Almack's
"Amelia"
Anderson, Mrs.
Anderton's Hotel
Angel Inn, Fleet Street
Angel Inn, Islington
Anne, Queen
Annual register
Anstey's "Pleaders' Guide"
Apollo room at the Devil tavern
Archer, Mrs. Mary
Argyll, Duke of
Aristophanes
Armstrong, Dr. John
Arnold, Dr. Samuel
Arthur's Club
Arthur, Mr.
Athenseum Club
Bacon, Anthony
Baddeley, Mrs.
Bagnigge Wells
Bailley, Christian
Bailley, Henry
Barrington, Hon. Daines
Barrington, Sir Jonas
Bartholomew Fair
Bartholomew, Robert
Bate, Henry
Bath, Installation of the Knights of
Batson's coffee-house
Bear inn
Beauclerk, Lady Sydney
Beauclerk, Topham
Beaufort, Duchess of
Beaumont, Francis
Becket, Thomas à,
Bedford coffee-house
Bedford, Duke of
Bedford Head tavern
Beeswing Club, The
Beef Steak Club
Bell tavern
Belle Sauvage inn
Bermondsey Spa Gardens
Bevis, Dr.
Bickerstaff, Sir Isaac
Bishopsgate Street Within, inns of
Bishopsgate Street Without, inns of
Blackmore, Sir Richard
Bloomfield, Robert
Blount, Sir Henry
Blue Boar inn
Blue Posts tavern
Blue-Stocking Club
Boar's Head inn, Eastcheap
Boar's Head inn, Southwark
Boehm, Mr.
Boileau's _Lutrin_
Bolinbroke, Viscount
Boodle's Club
Bordeaux, merchants of
Boswell, James
Bowen, William
Bowman, Mrs.
Bramble, Matt
British coffee-house
British Institution
Broghill, Lord
Brontë, Anne
Brontë, Charlotte
Brooks's Club
Brown, Tom
Buchan, Dr.
Buckingham, Duke of
Bull and Gate inn
Bull Head tavern
Bull inn
Burke, Edmund
Burney, Dr.
Burney, Fanny
Burton's, Thomas, "Parliamentary Diary"
Button's coffee-house
Buttony, Daniel
Byron, Lord
Byron, Lord, the poet
Cade, Jack
"Calamities and Quarrels of Authors"
Calf's Head Club
Campbell, Lord
Campbell, Thomas
Cannon coffee-house
Canterbury
Canterbury Tales
Cambridge carriers
Carlisle, Lord
Carlyle, Thomas
Cat, Christopher
Catley, Nan
Chamier, Anthony
Chapter coffee-house
Charnock, Robert
Charing Cross, coffee-houses of
Charing Cross, inns of
Charles I
Charles II
Charles V
Chatelaine's
Chatterton, Thomas
Chaucer, Geoffrey
Chaworth, William
Cheapside Cross
Cheshire Cheese
Chesterfield, Lord
Child's coffee-house
Chinaman, Goldsmith's, at Vauxhall
Christ's Hospital
Churchill, Lady Mary
Cibber, Colley
Cicero
Cider Cellars,
"Citizen of the World,"
Claypole, Elizabeth,
Club, definition of,
Clubs of old London,
Club, The,
Clutterback, James,
Cock tavern, Fleet Street,
Cock tavern, Leadenhall Street,
Cock tavern, Suffolk Street,
Cocoa-Tree Club,
Coffee,
"Coffee House, The Character of,"
Coffee-houses in London,
  first to be opened,
  subject of a play,
  pamphlets for and against,
  petition,
  against,
  proclamationl
  suppressing,
  influenced by locality,
"Coffee. Women's Petition  against,"
"Coffee House Vindicated,"
Coleridge, S. T.,
Colin. Farmer,
Collier's, Jeremy, "Short View,"
Congers,
Connoisseur, The,
Cony, Nathaniel,
"Country Mouse and the City Mouse,"
Covent Garden, coffee-houses of,
Covent Garden, taverns of,
Coverley, Sir Roger de,
Cowley, Abraham,
Cowper, William,
Craven Head Inn,
Crown and Anchor,
Cromwell, Oliver,
Cruikshank, George,
Cumberland, Duke of,
Cumberland, Richard,
Cupels Gardens,
Curran, Jolin Philpot,
Cuthbert, Captain,
Dagger tavern,
"Dark Walks" of Vauxhall.
Davidson, Jobs,
Davies, Thomais,
"Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,"
Defoe, Daniel,
De Moivre. Abraham,
Devil tavern,
Devonshire, Duke of,
Dibdin, Charles,
Dickens, Charles,
Dick's coffee-house,
Dolly's chop-house,
Don Saltero's coffee-house,
Dorset, Duke of,
Dorset. Earl of.
Douglas, Bishop,
Dover House Club,
Drinkwater, Thomas,
Drummond, William,
Drury Lane, inns of,
Dryden, John,
Dudley, Lord,
D'Urfey, Thomas,
Dutton, John,
Edward VI,
Edwards; Mrs.,
Egan, Pierce,
Elephant and Castle tavern,
Elephant tavern
Elizabeth, Queen
England, John
E O tables
Essex, Lord
Essex Street Club
Ethrage, Sir George
Evans, Widow
Evelyn, John
Falcon tavern
Falkner, Mary Ann
Falstaff, Sir John
Farr, James
Faslolfe, Sir John
Fantom, Captain
Feather's tavern
Fielding, Henry
Finch's Grotto Gardens
Finch, Thomas
Fireworks at Vauxhall
  at Ranelagh
  at Marylebone
  at Bermondsey Spa Gardens
Fitzgerald, Edward
"Fitzgerald, Fighting,"
Fleece tavern
Fleet Street, taverns of
Ford, Parson
Foote, Samuel
Fortune Theatre
Fountain tavern
Fountayne, Dr.
Fox, Charles James
Franklin, Beniamin
Froude, James Anthony
Fuller, Isaac
Fuller, Thomas
Garrawav's coffee-house
Garraway, Thomas
Garrick, David
Garth, Sir Samuel
Gaskell, Mrs.
Gay, John
Gentleman's Magazine
George I
George II
George III
George's coffee-house
George inn
Gibbon, Edward
Gibbons, Grinling
Gibraltar, Siege of
Gifford's, William, Life of Ben Jenson
Gillray, James
Golden Cross tavern
Golden Eagle tavern
Goldsmith, Oliver
Goose and Gridiron
Gordon, George
Goueh, Daniel
Grant, Andrew
Gray, Thomas
Grecian coffee-house
Green, J. R.
Green Ribbon Club
Gregorie, Robert
Gresham, Sir Thomas
Grimes, Jack
Guardian, The
Guildhall Museum
Gwynne, Nell
Hackman, James
Hal, Prince
Hales, John
Hales, Robert
Halifax, Earl of
Hall, Jacob
Halley Professor
Hamilton, Lord Spencer
Hand and Shears tavern
Handel, George Frederick
Hanover Club
Harley, Edward, Earl of Oxford
Harper, Bishop
Harrington, James
Harvard, John
Haslam, Dr
Hawkins, Sir John
Henry II
Henry III
Henry IV
Henry V
Henry VI
Henry VIII
Herrick, Robert
Hill, Aaron
Hill, Dr. John
Hobson, Thomas
Hogarth, William
Holborn, inns of
Holland, Lord
Horden, Hildebrand
Horn tavern
Horseshoe tavern
Horseshoe tavern, Covent Garden
Howard, Lord
Howard, Major-General
Howard, Sir John
Howell. James. "Familiar Letters" of
Hughes, Mr
Hummums tavern
Humphries, Miss
"Humphry Clinker"
Hunt's, Leigh, "The Town"
Hyde, Abbot of
Hyde, Lady
Inspector, The
Irving, Washington
Jacobites
Ja-mes I
James III
Jay, Cyrus
Jerusalem coffee-house
Jessop's
Jonathan's coffee-house
John's coffee-house
Johnson, Dr. Samuel
Jones, Sir William
Jones, William
Jonson, Ben
Keate, Roger
Keats, John
Kenrick, William
Kensington, South, Museum
Keyse Thomas
Killigrew, Harry
King's coffee-house
King, Thomas
King's Head tavern, Penchurch Street
King's Head tavern, Fleet Street
King John's Palace
Kingston, Lord
King Street, Westminster, taverns of
Kit-Cat Club
Kit-Cat portraits
Knapp, Mrs.
Lacy, James
Laguerre, Louis
Lamb, Charles
Lambe, John
Lambert, George
Langton, Bennet
Lee, Sidney
Leg tavern
Leslie, Charles Robert
Lill, William
Lincolnshire, Fens of
Lion's Head at Button's coffee-house
"Lives of the English Poets"
Lloyd, Charles
Lloyd's coffee-house
Lloyd, Edward
Lloyd, Sir Philip
Locket's
Locket, Adam
Locket, Mrs.
Lockier, Francis
London Bridge
London coffee-house
London, Fire of
London, Plague of
London tavern
Long's tavern
Lonsdale, Earl of
Loughborough, Lady
Loughborough, Lord
Louis XVI
Lowe, Thomas
Lowell, J. R.
Lowther, Sir James
Lunsford, Colonel
Lupton, Donald
Lyttelton, Lord
Macaulay, Lord
"Mac Fleoknoe"
Macklin, Charles
Mackreth, Robert
Maiden Lane taverns
Malone, Edmund
Man, Alexander
Man's coffee-house
Manchester, Lady
Marlborough, Duchess of
Marvell, Andrew
Marylebone Gardens
Maxwell, Dr.
Medici, Mary de
Melford, Lydia
Mermaid tavern, Cheapside
Mermaid tavern, Cornhill
"Mermaid Tavern, Lines on,"
Miles's coffee-house
Mitre tavern, Cheapside
Mitre tavern, Fenchurch Street
Mitre tavern, Fleet Street
Monmouth, Duke of
Montagu, Captain
Montagu, Lady Mary Wortley
Montagu, Mrs.
More, Hannah
Morris, Captain
Mounsey, Dr.
Mozart, W. A.
Nag's Head tavern, Cheapside
Nag's Head tavern, Drury Lane
Nando's coffee-house
Nash, Beau
Newport, Young
New Spring Gardens
Newton, Sir Isaac
Norfolk, Duke of
North, Dudley
North, Lord
Northumberland, Duke of
Nottinghamshire Club
Oates, Titus
Observer, The
"Oceana"
October Club
Oldisworth, William
Orford, Lord
Ormonde, Marquis of
Oxford, Earl of
Pall Mall taverns
Pantheon, The
"Paradise Lost,"
Paris Garden
Paterson, James
Pellett, Dr.
Pembroke, Earl of
Pepys, Mrs.
Pepys, Samuel
Percy, Dr.
Petres, Lord
Philips, Ambrose
Phillips, Sir Richard
"Pickmick Papers,"
Pierce, Mrs.
Pie-Powder Court
Pindar, Sir Paul
Pindar, Sir Paul, tavern
Pindar, Peter
Pitt, Colonel
Pitt's Head tavern
Pitt, William
Poins
Pontack's
Pope, Alexander
Pope's Head tavern
Porson, Richard
Portland, Duke of
Preston, Robert
Price, Dr. Richard
Priestly, Dr.
"Prince Alfred,"
Prior, Matthew
Prior, Samuel
Queen's Arms tavern
Queensbury, Duchess of
Quickly, Dame
Quin, James
Rainbow tavern
Raleigh, Sir Walter
Ranelagh
  Rotunda at,
  f&e at,
  amusements of,
  riot at,
  poem on,
  closing of
Ranelagh, Earl of
Rann, John
Raw&son, 'Dan
Rawlinson, Mrs.
Rawthmell's coffee-house
Ray, Martha
Red Lion inn
"Retaliation"
Reynolds, Sir Joshua
Rich, John
Richard II
Richardson, Samuel
Richmond, Duke of
Ridley, Bishop
Robinson, Sir Thomas
Rochester, Lord
Rock, Richard
Rogers, Samuel
Rosee, Pasqua
Rose tavern
Rossetti, Dante Gabriel
Rota Club
Rousseau, J. J.
Rowlandson, Thomas
Rummer tavern
St. Albans, Duchess of
St. Alban's tavern
St. James's coffee-house
St. James's Palace
St. Paul's churchyard
St. Paul's coffee-house
Salter, James
Salutation tavern
Sam's coffee-house
Sanchy, Mr.
Sandwich, Earl of
Saqui, Mme.
Saracen's Head tavern, Snow Hill
"Sarrasin's Head," Westminster
Savage, Richard
Scott; Peter
Scott, Sir Walter
Sedley, Sir Charles
Sedley, Jos.
Selden, John
Selwyn, George
Shadwell, Thomas
Shakespeare, William
Sharp, Rebecca
Sheffield, Lord
Shepherd, George
Sheridan, R. B.
Ship and Turtle tavern
Slaughter's coffee-house
Slaughter, Thomas
Sloane, Sir Hans
Smith, Adam
Smith, Captain John
Smith, J. T.
Smollett, Tobias
Smyrna coffee-house
Snow, Sophia
Somerset coffee-house
Southey, Robert
South Sea Bubble
Southwark
  map of
  meaning of name
  inns of
  Tabard inn
  Bear inn
  fair of
  Boar's Head inn
  George inn
  White Hart inn
Spectator, The
Spenser, Edmund
Spotted Dog inn
Staple inn
Star and Garter tavern
Steele, Sir Richard
Steevens, George
Stella, Journal to
Stevens, George Alexander
Stewart, Admiral Keith
Stewart, General William
Stillingfleet, Benjamin
Stony, Captain
Stow, John
Strand, Inns and taverns of
Strype, John
Stuart, Frances
Suckling, Sir John
Suffolk Street taverns
Swan inn
Swift, Jonathan
Tabard inn
Tarleton, Richard
Tassoni's Secchia Rapita
Tatler, The
Tearsheet, Doll
Temple Bar
Tennyson, Alfred, Lord
Thackeray, W. M.
Thatched House tavern
Thomson, James
Three as sign of London taverns
Three Cranes' Lane
Three Cranes in the Vintry
Three Nuns tavern
Three Tuns tavern
Thurlow, Lord Chancellor
Tibbs, Mr. and Mrs.
Tickell Thomas
Till, William
Tom's coffee-house, Birchin Lane
Tom's coff ke-house, Covent Garden
"Tom Jones"
Tonson, Jacob
Tooke, Home
Torre
Totenhall Court
Turk's Head coffee-house
Turner, J. M. W.
Tyers, Jonathan
Tyers, Tom
"Vanity Fair"
Vauxhall,
  plan of;
  Rotunda at;
  attractions of;
  supper party at;
  closing of
Vernon, Admiral
Vittoria, victory of
Voltaire
Wales, Prince of (George IV)
Walker's "The Original"
Walpole, Horace
Walton's, Isaac, "Complete Angler"
Ward, Ned
Warren Sir William
Warwick, Countess of
Washington, George
Washington, Purser
Waterman's Arms tavern
"Webb, Young"
Weller, Sam
Wellington, Duke of
Welteie's Club
West, Captain Thomas
Westminster taverns and coffee-houses
"Wet Paper Club"
Wheatley, Henry B.
White's Chocolate-house
White Conduit House
White Hart inn
White Hart inn, Bishopsgate Street Within
White Horse Cellar
"White, Mary, or the Murder at the Old Tabard"
Wildman's coffee-house
"Wilkes and Liberty"
Wilkes, John
William III
William, King, statue of,
Wilson, "Long-Bow"
Will's coffee-house, Belle Sauvage yard
Will's coffee-house, Covent Garden
"Will Waterproofs Lyrical Monologue"
Windmill tavern
Wittengamot Club
Wolcot, John, "Peter Pindar"
Wren, Sir Christopher
Wright, Thomas
Wyatt, Sir Thomas
Yarmouth, Lady
York, Duke of
Young, Edward





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