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And Thine the wild West wind, that from the seas
Bring the warm Earth's increase,
And noons of lovely joy and eves of peace;
When the green fields, refreshed, smile up to heaven, And all the unclouded night to the bright Moon is given.
Call forth Thy Western winds and let them blow,
And Thine the soft breath of the South, that glides
And moves among the murmur of light leaves,
To rifle the rich bosom of the rose
Of all its sweets, and wafts away the prize-
The star-enchanted Night;
And breathes itself away in whispered sighs,
O! softly let Thy South wind breathe and blow,
Thus shall the Earth rejoice,
In storm and tempest, or sweet airs that blow:
Thy bidding, night and day,
Blessing us so.
ADA BARTRICK BAKER.
THE OLD TAVERN LIFE OF LONDON.
As Dr Johnson's name is among those which are indelibly associated with the tavern life of London, we make no apology for commencing this paper with a quotation from Boswell's Life. "No man,' said he, "but a very impudent dog indeed, can as freely command what is in another man's house as if it was his own. a tavern there is a general freedom from anxiety. You are sure you are welcome: and the more noise you make, the more trouble you give, and the more good things you call for, the more welcome you are. Sir Walter Scott refers with sympathy to spending what Falstaff calls the sweetest morsel of the night "in the genial licence of a tavern." And certain it is that the modern club system, which has gradually driven the tavern out of the field, provides no substitute for that genial licence. We are writing with the Christmas of 1899 in full view, and whatever convivial, sociable, or bacchanalian elements a man has in his composition must come uppermost at such a time. Most men worthy of the name have some of this good seed implanted in them at their birth, though the cares of the world and the frost of respectability may have choked or killed them, so that the eventual result is only
lemonade or toast and water. To such unhappy persons these pages will be addressed in vain. We write for those in whom the good seed has brought forth abundant fruit, and who are prepared to celebrate Christmas and drink the New Year's health in punch, port, or claret, with all the honours.
We remember very well a distinguished man of letters who died young some thirty years ago, who used to deride the idea of keeping Christmas in a family manner. He had a charming wife himself, and some of the nicest little children you ever saw; but he thought that it behoved all choicer spirits to celebrate Christmas at a tavern. "Some fellows," he would say, "ought to get together round a piece of beef, and have their six tumblers afterwards, which would just carry them through all their favourite ideas." But I doubt if a tavern could be found open on Christmas Day now within the sound of either Bow Bells or Big Ben. It could have been then; and, whether or no, such was the ideal Christmas feast of a wit and a scholar who might have looked any man of letters in the face. Reminiscences of "tavern life," however, harmonise very well with all the social traditions which belong to Christmas, and a book1
1 Old London Taverns: Historical, Descriptive, and Reminiscent; with some Account of the Coffee - Houses, Clubs, &c. By Edward Callow. London: Downey & Co.
just published comes
oppor- eighteenth century. We shall find in none of them the kind of tavern life to which Mr Callow more particularly refers, and which, though contemporary with the drinkingbouts and duels of that reckless aristocracy which lives again in the pages of Mr Thackeray, seems much nearer to ourselves. For the old tavern life we have in our mind's eye we may go as far back as the reign of Anne.
It is difficult to say when this stage of tavern life, the It was the usual habit of remains of which living men Addison, we are told, "to meet can still remember, first became his party at Button's," where fully established in London. they dined, and sat late over The public in general know their wine and punch. They very little of it before the seem to have finished the evenAugustan age. In the seven- ing there, though some of teenth century there seem to them, of course, might have have been fashionable Ordi- been going to the theatre after naries at which the man about dinner, or out to supper after town dined before he adjourned that. Dinner was not so late to the gaming-table, with which down to the end of the most of these houses were eighteenth century as to make equipped. The Ordinary de- supper impossible. But the scribed in Scott's 'Fortunes of wits who dined at Button's Nigel' is a good specimen of probably remained there till the class; and later on-from bedtime, unless they had in1698-1736-White's Chocolate vitations to some later enter
House was another.
tainment. They were all free drinkers, and soon drove away the more delicately organised Pope. At this time tavern life was a good deal coloured by politics. There were Tory taverns and Whig taverns, just as there were Tory clubs and Whig clubs; but though this distinction has never died out in the case of clubs, it does not seem to have survived beyond the middle of the century in the case of taverns. And Button's and Will's, it must be remembered, were something more than
dining houses. They coffee houses as well, where men met for conversation, and the intercourse was general. When Johnson first came to London this system was still flourishing, and in the Irishman's account of how a man could live in London for £30 a-year it occupies a prominent place. "By spending three
coffee house, a man might be in very good company for two or three hours every day." But we hear little of this kind of thing in Johnson's later days. The old coffeehouse system seems to have declined with the decline in the position of men of letters. Their society was no longer sought by those who had once thought it a privilege to meet them: and the coffee-house, which had been the common ground on which they met, gradually faded away. But the later essayists of the eighteenth century teem with descriptions of it, as it still existed in the latter part of George II.'s reign, when it seems to have been a pale reflection of its former self. Thus Button's was supposed to survive in the Bedford, Covent Garden, of which Colman has left us an ironical description in the Connoisseur.'
"This coffee-house is every night crowded with men of parts. Almost every one you meet is a polite scholar and a wit. Jokes and bon-mots are echoed from box to box; every branch of nature 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
VOL. CLXVII.-NO. MXI.
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. Button's, the grand archetype of the Bedford, was frequented by Addison, Steele, Pope, and the rest of that celebrated set, who flourished at the beginning of this century, and was regarded with just deference on account of the real geniuses who frequented it. But we can now boast men of superior abilities; men who, without any one acquired excellence, by the mere dint of a happy assurance, can exact the same tribute of veneration, and receive it as due to the illustrious fiddlers, gamblers, that make so large characters, the scribblers, players, a part of the company at the Bedford.".
Ex uno disce omnes. Here we see the old coffee-house life, in its decadence indeed, but still dying hard. The coffee-house critic and coffee-house politician were
still noted characters. The latter is amusingly described in the Citizen of the World.' After picking up what news he can at George's or Garraway's, he adjourns to the Ordinary for more, and spends the evening in adding to his stock, only to find next morning that it is all a bundle of lies. What a true description of the newsmonger of our own day!
We have mentioned George's, which is now the George Hotel at the top of Devereux Court, Clement's just opposite St Church. It was said that Sir Robert Walpole was sometimes seen there, but this is contradicted by Horace, whose letters, it is needless to say, are redolent of club life. Below it lay the Grecian, both houses being much frequented by the Templars, who seem to have been in bad
odour with the wits and the The Covent Garden taverns satirists all through the century. in those days, and long afterPope's "pert Templar" describes wards, were the favourite haunts. what was thought of them in of young university men up in that day, and Colman is still town for a lark. Colman meets more severe upon them. But Bob Classic and Tom Latin at they were among the main- the Bedford, and hears them stays of coffee-house and tavern arrange their plans for the life in its later stages. The evening. Jack is off "to meet coffee-houses were all places the finest girl upon town in the where coffee was drunk and green boxes." But they all men assembled for conversation, assemble again later at night, whether on business, pleasure, and Colman and his friend, politics, or literature. But it who have turned in for supper, seems that they did not all dis- hear them in the next room, charge the functions of a tavern. where they are entertaining Colman tells us that after some ladies. They never leave spending most of the evening the neighbourhood of Covent at the Bedford coffee-house, he Garden, and the landlord alwent to finish it at the Bedford ways welcomes them to the Arms. As he comes into the tavern,-for, says the waiter, Piazza the fire blazes so cheer- they have all their meals in his fully in the Bedford Arms house, and eat and drink, and kitchen that he cannot resist pay "better than any nobleit, and goes in with a friend to man." They came up to town partake perhaps of a Main- with their quarter's allowance tenon cutlet and a bottle of in their pockets, and emptied Burgundy; or it may be, if it them in a few days at the is winter, with a stewed breast taverns, the theatres, and in of veal and a bowl of punch: the society of Polly and Sally. for they ate and drank heroic- Not much more than fifty years ally, the gallant gourmands of ago there was a fellow of a the eighteenth century. College at Oxford, a middle-aged man, and an admirable classical scholar, whose idea of an outing, he used to say, or his friends said it for him, was to go up to town with a fifty-pound note and spend it in three days. This man, as may easily be imagined, was a most efficient Proctor.
We learn from Roderick Random-who, with that wonderful wardrobe supplied to him by Strap, made such a good figure, as he expresses it, in the region of Covent Garden -that it was customary for men to meet at the coffee-house to make up their party for dinner at the tavern, and sometimes after dinner to go back to the coffee-house again. Occasionally the two were combined, the coffee-room and the diningrooms being in that case separate apartments.
We have now reached the Johnsonian era and the many legends connected with the old scholar which still haunt Fleet Street. His favourite tavern was the Mitre, which lay, and still lies, between King's Bench