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the saying, “ Every man's house is his castle ;” but fully and most graphically describes the amusing variety of character and incident ever observable in that universal home, a Tavern
“ The busie man's recreation, and the
Idle man's businesse." “ There is no private house,” said Dr. Johnson, “ in which people can enjoy themselves, so well as at a capital Tavern. Let there be ever so great plenty of good things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance, ever so much desire that every body should be easy; in the nature of things it cannot be : there must always be some degree of care and anxiety. The Master of the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the guests are anxious to be agreeable to him; and no man but a very impudent dog indeed can as freely command what is in another man's house, as if it were his own. Whereas at 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, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are. No Servants will attend you with half the alacrity which waiters do, who are incited by the prospect of an immediate reward in proportion as they please. No, Sir, there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good Tavern. A Tavern chair is the throne of human felicity. As soon as I enter the door of a Tavern, I experience an oblivion of care, and a freedom from solicitude, - when I am seated, I find the master courteous, and the servants obsequious to my call, anxious to know and ready to supply my wants; wine then exhilarates my spirits, and prompts me to free conversation, and an interchange of discourse with those whom I most love-I dogmatise-and am contradicted ; and in this conflict of opinion and sentiment I find delight.”
In the redoubtable Doctor's time, and for a century or two previous, Taverns were more generally sought by the literary characters and wits of their day than since that period; and whether society may be considered as improved, or otherwise, by the alteration of habits, I shall not for a moment dwell upon the fact as an argument,-my purport being merely a speculation arising from a meditation upon the old London Taverns, and a mental view of their quondam interiors. 'Tis pleasant even to visit the houses still bearing the signs which distinguished them in days past-to know that one is upon the ancient site of mirth, enjoyed by those whose generous wit and humour coined it for themselves, and bequeathed it to us.
The period which I have frequently thought was the ripest for that jovial tenor and exchange of cordiality, which constitutes a zest in life-a condiment to the monotonous ploddings of every day-was the time of the Restoration, and during the reign of the second Charles, when the contentions of Parliamentarians and Royalists no longer occupied the attention of the public, and the convulsions attendant upon civil warfare had subsided. It was then that theatricals, too, after having been dormant for some time, under the countenance of the Merry Monarch again flourished forth into repute : men met in the sunshine of revelry, and felt no longer the constraint of silence. Then
the poet, the dramatist, the wit, and the notable gallant alike shared the urbanity of the nobleman, when congregated at Locket's, The Wrekin, and other Taverns of note.
What would one not have given to have had but a peep into a room, containing some of the choice spirits of that day? to have breathed an atmosphere impregnated by their wit, the intoxicating quality of which would have been more formidable than their long draughts of claret? This very longing has given rise to the following imaginative scene in the Old Wrekin.
" I must say,” said Sir Thomas Ogle, “ that mine host has done the feast luxuriously; it therefore but ill becomes us to sculk from carrying out the noble purpose of his beginning. I hate your maiden stomachs that flutter at a glass of good stuff, and touch it with as gentle reverence as though it were a chalice; you engender no such scrupulous observances, my noble Jack Crowne,” he added, (taking the hand of that personage into one of his own, and heartily clapping it with the other ;) “ though your worthy sire ever kept you looking down your nose.'
“ l'faith, Sir Thomas,” answered Crowne, “ I have often anxiously watched for what might come next into my mouth, and henceforth, though thanks to your kindness and my Lord Rochester's, it is likely to be well attended to, should my masque prove agreeable in the eyes of her Majesty the Queen.”
“ As for that,” replied Ogle, “ success is as sure as that the lively Jinnet is coming to chirp amongst us.” This remark was applied to Tom D'Urfey, who entered the room at this moment, amid a burst of salutations as warmly given as they were varied, and acknowledged them by a dextrous piroutte, whereby the courtesy of all was returned by one circular bow, finished by a graceful bend towards Sir William Davenant, in honour, as he observed, to the laurel.
“ Tom, my little brilliant,” roared Sir George Etheredge—“ my pet star-your are sorely needed, our great man here is as stiff-mouthed tonight as old Hewson himself.” This was intended for Davenant, who, after having been voted President, had been for some time in earnest talk with Betterton upon matters of business connected with the Lincoln's Inn Theatre, but who, upon hearing this remark, turned to the company, and said, “ Your pardon, Gentlemen, for this abstraction. I'll venture my hardest to keep pace the rest of the night with you."
“Well said as meant,” replied Etheredge; “ but, my right excellent President, you were abroad, -and having been abroad, even tales of travel too marvellous for belief are better tuned for merry-makings than close whisperings and blind conjectures. Come, my man of foreign parts, our great Bard says—' to have seen much, and to have nothing, is to have rich eyes and poor hands.'”
“Ay, ay,” said the Laureate, who received this bantering with his usual smile, “ thou art right, Sir George, and allow me to add from the same source, I had rather have a fool to make me merry, than experience to make me sad, and travel for it too.'” A laughing chorus followed this sally of the even-tempered President. · “ To the game again, my Gentlemen,” said D'Urfey, as soon as sufficient hearing was obtained,"one-two-like rivet hammers; smart work as it should be with experienced hands. Apollo had him there, I think. “What cannot be eschewed, must be embraced.' Try his god-ship again, Sir George."
" He strikes hard, Tom," answered Etheredge; “ but look you, I enjoy a roll in the dust from the unerring touch of a veteran, rather than tilting at a dummy, and having the stupid game in my own favour."
“ Essence of virtue,” said D'Urfey, “ thine honesty must contend with thy valour for precedence.”
“ Another bowl! why, Tapster, thy visage comes upon us like a spring morning. Now, let every gentleman behold the Lethe of his cares-if any so sadly attired be amongst us,--and I pray you keep the stream so ruffled, that set melancholy may be reflected a jolly Momus. Why, how now ? my favoured son of Thespis,-thine eyes seem fixed upon the dry banks, instead of revelling in the sparkling Auid. Go to, Tom Betterton; what art thou apostrophizing? Every one can master a grief but he that has it :' what can I for you?”
“ Nothing, my light heart,” replied the Actor; “ I was but digesting a thought from my master here,”-looking to Sir William Davenant.
“ Nay,” said the President, “ if my communications be so crude, try D'Urfey's favourite mixture.”
" Excellent medicine," says Tom, with a relishing smack; “ I warrant it a perfect cure for indigestion, whether arising from moroseness, melancholy, mortification, or mono-mania.” This specimen of alliteration was followed by a long deep groan from the whole of the company, which caused the Tapster's head to rise from behind the door-screen, crammed with curiosity.
“ To the game again," said the imperturbable cause of this outcry, as soon as he could be heard,"and now try a laugh by way of variation to that splendid chorus;" which act, his comic look and lively intonation of voice obliged them to perform to a man; and, moreover, prolengthened it by a mock gravity with which he alternately regarded every one.
“For mercy's sake, Tom,” said Sir Charles Sedley, in broken gasps occasioned by his excessive laughter—"hold, for mercy's sake, or thy drollery will go too hard with me.”
“ God comfort thy capacity,” replied D'Urfey, “thou tender blossom, thou fresh blown gallant-laughter cannot hurt thee; for though thou hast a prim mouth, and dost fashion it well for small delicacies, and oily sentiment-yet, to emit laughter, I'd wager its capaciousness with the diameter of the well in the cellar beneath us."-"Now, Tom Betterton," added he, “ thou art thy wholesome self,-that Pipe is the last touch to thy Portrait.
“ What a vagrant imagination is thine, D'Urfey,” said Crowne, “ from the well in the cellar to the pipe in Betterton's mouth.” “ You see," said the President
“ His eye begets occasion for his wit,
Ev'ry object that the one doth catch,
The other turns to a mirth moving jest." “ Bravo, Apollo !" roared Tom, it's all my eye, nevertheless, by thy quotation."
At this moment, a stranger, who had been but a short time present, drew the attention of D'Urfey's party to him, by accidentally letting fall the glass from which he had been just sipping his wine, exclaiming, half petulantly, as he gazed at its shivered parts —"A curse on the glass."
“ Nay," said Tom, “ blame it not; 'twas thy fault that caused thy friend and thee thus suddenly to part company.”
“ Indeed, Sir Wit!" answered the stranger, turning his gaze full upon the last speaker, though seeming a little ashamed of his exclamation having been heard, “suppose it not, that I cut friends as easily as thou dost thy jokes -save when as frail, and a compound of the same brittle stuff. - Here, boy, another glass,” he added, carelessly collecting the scattered fragments with one foot.
“ Nevertheless," said D'Urfey, pleased with the smart return and easy deportment of the stranger, “thou art an easy observer of the phases of life, and must have gracious ways at command, seeing that you can at will replace the loss of one friend by the immediate adoption of another."
This was interrupted, by Sir William Davenant calling on D'Urfey for a song, in preference, as he shrewdly observed, to balancing terms with a chance of inducing contention.
“I lack not contention," said the stranger, “nor have I so full a notion of my tongue, as to encounter the subtlety of such polished wit as passes in common exchange amongst your goodly company; and were I in my own opinion at equality, I would not make a risk of sociality, to ruffle the feelings of another, by waving my standard over him ; such actions are at best the feuds of vanity-The Tower Hill squabbles of last week, wherein D'Estrades and Vatteville made a serious finish to a foolish commencement-a blood-thirsty song with senseless words.” As he uttered these expressions, to the surprise of all, he made towards the president, and continued, “We, Sir William Davenant, have witnessed too much of the rough sides of men, to be desirous of adding to our vocabulary of hard words and still harder deeds—if I have not forgotten the siege of Gloucester"
“Good heavens !! Arthur Compton," suddenly ejaculated Davenant, seizing the proffered hand of the stranger, with the firm grasp of an old comrade: “ that I should ever have forgotten the face of the brave Compton."
“ Where you were seated, my old friend, you had not the opportunity of seeing it,” said Compton," and I have to offer my thanks to your merry friend here, for so quickly taking the cue I purposely gave to attract your notice.”
“But," interrupted the worthy Davenant, “I could curse my hand for not being instinctively drawn to that which had, in the moment of need, helped it to a musquetoon.-Gentlemen," he continued, as he placed his newly found friend in the seat which Betterton had with courtesy vacated for him-" gentlemen," he repeated, still shaking the hand of his comrade : “ I add to our circle as good and brave a cavalier, and as strenuous a friend as ever man was blest with a knowledge of.” This introduction was followed by a salute performed by the whole party, making the glasses ring and jump VOL. XCVI.
upon the table, which they were beating with their hands in the ecstasy of welcome. When the last hand had finished, D'Urfey, addressing himself to the new comer, said, “Sir, I am gratified in being the means of piloting so favourite a vessel into a comfortable harbour. I knew from the clean honesty of thy looks, and the soundness of thy speech, that to hold a place without our circle, was not thy province—and now there is one more in the field, to the game, gentlemen, again." And to the game they went, the bowl being replenished for the purpose. And having drawn the curtain over the scene, I must leave the reader's imagination to follow them into daylight.
LINES ON THE BEAUTIFUL PICTURE OF THE
BY MARY FOSTER.
I GAZED upon a wild and lovely scene,