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particular, returned to my native country with great satisfaction.'
I have passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently seen in most public places, though there are not above half a dozen of my select friends that know me; of whom next paper shall give a more particular account. There is no place of general resort, wherein I do not often make my appear. ance; sometimes I am seen thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Will's,' and listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Some
1 A half century's contention respecting the exact admeasurement of the Great Pyramid of Gizeh was a fair subject for ridicule, in spite of Dr. Percy's stigma, that the satire was "reprehensible.” Mr. John Greaves originated the argument so long before the publication of this harmless raillery as 1646, in his work entitled “Pyramidologia ;” and it seems to have been carried on with burning zeal and wonderful learning to the days of the “Spectator,” although death had removed Greaves from the discussion in 1652. In No. 7. tbe “Spectator" says, “I design to visit the next masquerade in the same habit I wore at Grand Cairo.”—*
2 THE COFFEE-HOUSES. The chief places of resort were coffee and chocolate houses, in which some men almost lived; insomuch that whoever wished to find a gentleman commonly asked, not where he resided, but which coffee-house he frequented? No decently attired idler was excluded, provided he laid down his penny at the bar; but this he could seldom do without struggling through the crowd of beaux who fluttered round the lovely bar-maid. Here the proud nobleman or country squire was not to be distinguished from the genteel thief and daring highwayman. “Pray, sir," says Aimwell to Gibbet, in Farquhar's “ Beaux Stratagem." “ha'n't I seen your face at Will's coffee-house?” The robber's reply is :“Yes, sir; and at White's too."
Coffee-houses, from the time of their commencement in 1652, served instead of newspapers: they were arenæ for political discussion. Journal. ism was, in 1710, in its infancy: the first daily newspaper (“The Daily Courant,") was scarcely two years old, and was too small to contain much news; as were the other journals then extant. Hence the fiercely contested polemics of the period were either waged in single pamphlets, or in periodicals started to advocate or to oppose some particular question, and laid down when that was settled. The peaceful leading article and mild letter “to the Editor” had not come into vogue as safety-val:es for the
times I smoke a pipe at Child's, and whilst I seem attentive to nothing but the postman, overhear the conversation of every table in the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's Coffee house, and sometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner room, as one who comes there to hear and improve.
escape of overboiling party zeal; and the hot blood, roused in public rooms to quarrelling pitch, was too often cooled by the rapier's point.
Each coffee-house had its political or literary speciality; and of those enumerated in the present paper, Will's was the rendezvous for the wits and poets. It was named after William Urwin, its proprietor, and was situated at No. 1, Bow-street, at the corner of Great Russell-street, Covent Garden; the coffee-room was on the first floor, the lower part having been occupied as a retail shop. Dryden's patronage and frequent appearance made the reputation of the house; which was afterwards maintained by other celebrated characters. De Foe wrote-about the year 1720—that * after the play, the best company go to Tom's or Will's Coffee-house near adjoining; where there is playing picquet and the best conversation till midnight. Here you will see blue and green ribbons and stars familiarly, and talking with the same freedom, as if they had left their quality and degrees of distance at home.” The turn of conversation is happily hit off in the “Spectator” for June 12th, 1712, when a false report of the death of Louis XIV. had reached England :—“Upon my going into Will's I found their discourse was gone off from the death of the French king to that of Monsieur Boileau, Racine, Corneille, and several other poets; whom they regretted on this occasion, as persons who would have obliged the world with very noble elegies on the death of so great a prince, and so eminent a patron of learning.” It was from Will's coffee-house that the “Tatler ” dated his poetry.
Child's was in St. Paul's Churchyard. Its vicinity to the cathedral and Doctors' Commons made it the resort of the clergy and other ecclesiastical loungers. In one respect Child's was superseded by the Chapter in Paternoster Row.
THE ST. JAMES’s was the “Spectator's ” head-quarters. It stood at the end of Pall Mall-of which it commanded a perspective view-near to, if not upon, the site of what is now No. 87 St. James's-street, and close to Ozinda's chocolate house. These were the great party rallying places; "a whig,” says De Foe, “would no more go to the Cocoa Tree or Ozinda's than a tory would be seen at St. James's.” Swift, however, frequented the latter during his sojourn in London, : 710–13; till, fighting in the van of the tory ranks, he could no longer show his face there, and was obliged to relinquish the society of those literary friends whom, though whigs, he
My face is likewise very well known at the Grecian, the CocoaTree, and in the Theatres both of Drury-Lane and the HayMarket. I have been taken for a merchant upon the Exchange for above these ten years, and sometimes pass for a Jew in the assembly of stockjobbers at Jonathan's : in short, wherever I see cherished. Up to that time all his letters were addressed to the St. James's coffee-house, and those from Mrs. Johnston (Stella) were enclosed under cover to Addison. Elliot, who kept the house, acted confidentially for his customers as a party agent; and was on occasions placed on a friendly footing with his distinguished guests. In Swift's Journal to Stella, under the date of November 19, 1710, we find the following entry :—“This evening I christened our coffee-man Elliot's child; when the rogue had a most noble supper, and Steele and I sat amongst some scurvy company over a bowl of punch.” This must have included some of Elliot's more intimate or private friends; for he numbered amongst his customers nearly all the Whig aistocracy. The “Tatler” (who dated his politics from the St. James's), enumerating the charges he was at to entertain bis readers, assures them that “a good observer cannot even speak with Kidney, ['keeper of the book debts of the outlying customers, and observer of all those who go off without paying,'* ] without clean linen."
The “Spectator,” in his 403rd number, gives a graphic picture of the company in the coffee-room :—“I first of all called in 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.”
The “GRECIAN" in Devereux Court derived its name from a Greek named Constantine, who introduced, from the land of Epicurus, a new and improved method of making coffee. Perhaps from this cause, or from having set up his apparatus close to the Temple, he drew the learned to his rooms. “All accounts of learning,” saith the Tatler, “shall be under the title of the 'Grecian.'” The alumni appear to have disputed at a particular table. “I cannot keep an ingenious man,” continues Bickerstaff, “to go daily to the 'Grecian' without allowing him some plain Spanish to be as able as others at the learned table.” The glory of the “Grecian” outlasted that of the rest of the coffee-houses, and it remained a tavern till 1843. "Jonatilan’s,” in Change Alley, the general mart for stockjobbers, was
* Spectator, No. 24.
a cluster of people, I always mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club.
Thus I live in the world rather as a Spectator of mankind, than as one of the species ; by which means I have made myself a speculative statesman, soldier, merchant, and artizan, without ever meddling with any practical part in my life. I am very well versed in the theory of a husband or a father, and can discern the errors in the economy, business and diversion of others, better than those who are engaged in them; as standers-by discover blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the game. I never espoused any party with violence, and am resolved to observe an exact neutrality between the Whigs and Tories, unless I shall be forced to declare myself by the hostilities of either side. In short, I have acted in all the parts of my life as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preserve in this paper.
I have given the reader just so much of my history and character, as to let him see I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. As for other particulars in my life and adventures, I shall insert them in following papers, as I shall see occasion. In the mean time, when I consider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own taciturnity; and since I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fulness of my heart in speech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out, if possible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is pity so many useful discoveries which I have made should be in the possession of a silent man. For this reason, therefore, I shall publish a
the precursor of the present Stock Exchange in Capel Court. The hero of Mrs. Centlivre's comedy, “A Bold Stroke for a Wife," performs at " Jonathan's” bis most successful deception on the city guardian of his mistress.
The other coffee-houses will be noticed as they occur in the text.
sheet-full of thoughts every morning, for the benefit of my contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the secret satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain.
There are three very material points which I have not spoken to in this paper; and which, for several important reasons, I must keep to myself, at least for some time : I mean an account of my name, my age, and my lodgings. I must confess, I would gratify my reader in any thing that is reasonable; but as for these three particulars, though I am sensible they might tend very much to the embellishment of my paper, I cannot yet come to a resolution of communicating them to the public. They would indeed draw me out of that obscurity which I have enjoyed for many years, and expose me in public places to several salutes and civilities, which have been always very disagreeable to me; for the greatest pain I can suffer, is the being talked to, and being stared at. is for this reason likewise, that I keep my complexion and dress as very great secrets; though it is not impossible, but I may make discoveries of both in the progress of the work I have undertaken.
After having been thus particular upon myself, I shall in tomorrow's paper give an account of those gentlemen who are concerned with me in this work; for, as I have before intimated, a plan of it is laid and concerted (as all other matters of importance are) in a club.' However, as my friends have engaged me to
| The word club, as applied to convivial meetings, is derived from the Saxon cleafan, to divide, “ because,” says Skinner, “the expenses are divided into shares or portions."
“Clubs were more general in the days of the “Spectator” than perhaps at any other period of our history. Throughout the previons half-century public discord had dissevered private society; and, at the Restoration, men yearned for fellowship; but as, even yet, political danger lurked under an unguarded expression or a rash toast, companions could not be