Pascoe, Charles Eyre
Chapter IV: THE COVENT GARDEN TAVERNS
|SUCCESS to the ten acres" (ought it not to have been, or was; it not "the seven acres ? ") was originally the first toast of the evening at the famous Saturdaynight dinners of the "Sublime Society of Steaks," a coterie of gentlemen with whom George, Prince Regent, was pleased at times to be familiar. The "ten acres" represented the land on which Covent Garden stood, in the parish of St. Martin-in-the- Fields. A survival of the designation may still be traced in the thoroughfare leading from St. Martin's to Drury Lane, known as Long Acre. Within those ten (or seven) acres, at the beginning of the present century, many of the best known and most frequented London taverns stood. The "Slaughters" coffeehouse in St. Martin's Lane was the chief resort of military officers till supplanted by the United Service Club.|
|In Maiden Lane was the " Bedford Head," a favourite retreat of journalists. In Covent Garden itself were several taverns of reputation, the sole present representative of which, on the site of the original building, is the Tavistock Hotel. We have already briefly sketched the earlier history of that part of the Piazza where it stands. When the artists had forsaken it, the house of Thornhill, Wilson, and the others, became the auction-rooms of George Robins, one of the best known characters of his day. He was the founder of what may be termed the florid school of auction oratory, and a most successful salesman of noblemen's and gentlemen's estates. His auction-rooms were as famous in their day as " Christie's " in our own. In his little world he reigned supreme, and the most august personages deigned to honour him with their confidence.|
But a few days since, while traversing the intricate passages of the Tavistock in company of its kindly manager, Mr. Charles Taylor (who, by the way, is as much part and parcel of the hotel as any beam, staple, or wall within it), he took us into a low-ceilinged, dimly-lighted apartment, with a mantelpiece which our friend, the artist, said was French, of the period
|of the Directorate. In that little room George, Prince of Wales, was the guest of Mr. George Robins,|
|the famous London auctioneer. John, some time head waiter of the establishment (he reigned there forty years), had it from William, his predecessor, who waited at table on that interesting occasion. Unfor-|
|tunately, we have no existing record of the dinner then served, but probably we should not be far wrong if we set it down somewhat as follows :--A turbot, a Severn salmon, a haunch of venison, French beans and cucumbers, a green goose, an apricot tart, and green peas. Wines: claret, madeira, and port. What shall we say, a couple or three bottles per man? As to what Mr. Robins and the Prince found else to discuss, or who was present at that little dinner besides themselves, we have no means of gratifying the curiosity.|
Such little incidents of bygone days can be well supported by satisfactory evidence in respect of the Tavistock's affairs. There was John, the waiter aforesaid, for forty years; Smith, his successor, for twentythree years; there is Lewis (still living, and hale and hearty as ever), hall-porter now for a period of thirtyfive years; there is Samuel, of the hall, his comrade, whose length of service extends to thirty years; George, chamberlain since 1855: who does not know George and those who share with him the duties of waiting? There is his colleague of the chambers, Henry, with a service of twenty years; and the overseers of the cellars have been employed among " mag-
|nums" and bins of "very rare and old" for a like lengthy period. The man of the smoking-room has been dealing out cigars and materials for punch for a full decade to our knowledge. Will Messrs. Cassell, Petter, and Co., Limited, have the goodness to take note, for award of their biggest silver medal to each of these for long and faithful domestic service. Mrs. Arnold, the ancient housekeeper and historian of the hotel, who dated back-we'll not disclose the year-- left some thousands of pounds of judicious savings to the Lifeboat Institution and Charing Cross Hospital. The head coffee-room waiter, her contemporary, died leaving to a relative almost as many thousands. We should like to know of another hotel in London that could show a like gratifying record of its servants. All the Tavistock's staff happen to be " English, you know, quite English, you know " (as Mr. Dixey would say), and this probably accounts for a good deal of the comfort and attention one enjoys under its roof.|
Mr. George Robins, who came into "the Garden" in 1780, a few years later leased a portion of his place to Mr. Harrison. This part became, in 1787, the Tavistock Breakfast Rooms, where, " besides the
|essential refreshments of tea and coffee, excellent soups of various kinds are served up with great neatness.' So ran Mr. Harrison's original advertisement. At the end of the last century and, indeed, for some years later, gentlemen lodged at such places as the "old Hummums" and "the Grand " (now the New Club), and took their meals out. They breakfasted at the coffee-house and dined at the tavern. It was not till long after the Breakfast-rooms had become merged in the Tavistock Hotel, and the adjoining famous Piazza Tavern (of which we shall have something to say presently) was also taken over by Mr. Harrison, that he undertook to serve dinners to his customers. And for many years (think of it, ye gourmets of the present dining-room, who look for your soup, fish, entree, and the joint straight from the kitchen), the dinner provided by " the Tavistock " was cooked at a neighbouring bakery ! There are those who remember that state of things-when the joints were carried out and brought back baked in a big tinned dish, like soldiers' dinners when we were a boy and lived in barracks at Plymouth. There was a table d'hote--" ordinary" is the English word-daily at six sharp, at which Mr.|
|Harrison himself presided. And in the breakfast, or "coffee-room," at guest who asked for a hot dish at breakfast had to content himself with bacon and eggs. That was the one staple breakfast dish of the Tavistock Hotel for at least thirty years. It was cooked in the still-room by the maids. We have heard of a trustful youth of that time, now an eminent solicitor of Edinburgh, who asked a waiter for cream. " Cream !" cried an irate, satin-stocked, old gentleman at his elbow; "Cream! I take it you're from the country, Sir. We know of no such luxury here."|
The dining-room of most London taverns originally differed (except as to size), very little from the common room of a village inn. Sometimes it was partitioned off into stiff-backed boxes, topped by red curtains, sometimes not. The seats were not too comfortable, though of sufficient space to accommodate four, or perhaps five, on each side of the table; the floor was uncarpeted and sprinkled with sand, for the better removal of dirt. In an outer apartment was the bar, usually shut in, save as to that central part reserved to the booking and filing of customers' orders, by a circular glass window. In the passage, where most
|air was to be found, was the larder, oftener than not a stout iron hoop suspended from tile ceiling and hung round with hooks, from which depended joints of meat and poultry. Such to the last was the larder at " Dolly's," of ancient renown. The cold cooked meats of the day were usually conveniently placed within view of persons passing in and out of the dining-room, in a glass-windowed cupboard. We have seen a rough sketch of the tavern coffee room to which poor old Sedley resorted after his downfall in the city, when he was beginning to dabble in coal. It is a low-ceilinged parlour, with four stout-legged tables placed at intervals, the chairs of the hard-backed kitchen order, the floor carpeted and dotted with spittoons. Many of us have become acquainted with such rooms in our rambles through the shires. A lanky, seedy-looking waiter is lolling against the door, and a ringleted damsel, smirking to a gentleman who reminds one of Tittlebat Titmouse, Esquire, waits without at the bar to accommodate wayfarers with "choice wines, spirits, and malt liquors."|
The better class of taverns had more spacious dining-rooms, well-upholstered, and displaying a good
|deal of rich-coloured, well-polished mahogany. The ordincary dininig-hours were from noon to six o'clock, and at stated intervals during that time prime joints were sent round from table to table, as we have seen them sent round at ancient " Dolly's," aforesaid, in Queen's Head Passage, Paternoster Row, not wheeled round on little circular tables, as is still the custom at "Simpson's," but placed before each customer to allow of his cutting a plateful for himself. The coffeeroom at the Tavistock Hotel was, till the year 1854 or thereabouts, carpetless, and sprinkled with sand. A strip of matting here and there laid down, lent an appearance of greater warmth to the place in winter. Our grandfathers (and fathers too) were content with such primitive comforts; and we are not disposed to admit that a heavy carpet, receptacle of untold dirt, is more healthful or pleasant than the clean flooring of bare boards. For ourselves we prefer the flooring of bare boards. But this by the way.|
The Piazza Tavern (originally the Piazza Coffeehouse, where Macklin-" a strange character, an Irishman of rough humour, a good fives player, and a very promising actor"-had an academy of Belles Conent Garden.
|Lettres, and delivered public lectures on oratory), stood next the Tavistock. Mr. Macklin appears to have made a most ceremonious affair of his " ordinary," bringing in the first dish himself with a napkin over his arm. The price of the dinner was three shillings (including wine), and when the repast was concluded he and the company adjourned to the "School of Oratory." Leigh Hunt says he embroiled himself with a variety of his acquaintance, and once in a sudden quarrel poked out a man's eye with his stick, and killed him, for which he narrowly escaped hanging. The Piazza Tavern was subsequently taken over by Mr. Harrison and incorporated with the Tavistock. In the early years of this century " the Piazza Coffeehouse and Tavern " (such was its later designation), was one of the most splendid establishments of the kind in town, providing " dinners for large and small parties in the most consummate style of elegance." So runs a contemporary advertisement. It attracted to its table a good many of the customers of " The Shakespear under the Piazza," where, by the way, was set up for a time the famous Lion's Head letter-box, originally at " Button's." "The Shakespear " was the|
|first tavern started in Covent Garden. We believe we are correct in saying that it stood at the corner of the Piazza, nearest Russell Street. The sign (painted by Wale and said to have cost nearly £200) projected at the corner over the street. Three clubs were held there in the palmy days of John Company, the Madras, Bengal, and Bombay; the gentlemen who composed the last being reputed the highest livers. One Twigg (who had lived in " the Garden " for forty years, 1775- 1815,) was cook to this tavern, and remembered in his day that " they had as many as fifty turtle at a time, and that upon an average from ten to fifteen were dressed per week; and that it was no unusual thing to send forty quarts of turtle soup a week into the country, even as far as Yorkshire." Doubtless Mr. Jos. Sedley, of Bogglywollah, heard of the repute of the house when later he sucked up his soup at the Piazza. The largest dinner ever dressed at the Shakespear Tavern in Twigg's time was of " 108 made dishes besides hams, &c., and vegetables." This was served on the occasion of Lord Keppell being made First Lord of the Admiralty.|
As the "Shakespear's" fame began to wane, the
|Piazza's " appeared in the ascendant. This became the most popular tavern in London. Of all the public men of his time, Richard Brinsley Sheridan probably knew most of the merits|
|-of a well-roasted "haunch" and a good glass of wine. He was a very constant customer of the " Piazza," as were many of his friends, as well those of wit and dramatic talent, as those of rank. It was by an improvisation at the " Piazza" that Theodore Hook, when little more than a lad, made that favourable impression on Sheridan which led to his introduction to the society of the west end of the town (it had been better for Hook, perhaps, if he had not been at the tavern that night), where for many years he reigned supreme as a humourist and|
|amateur singer, but without much credit to himself. The " Piazza " till long after it passed into possession of Mr. Harrison (the portrait in oils of that gentleman still hangs in the coffee-room of the Tavistock) was a famous London rendevous of " men of light and leading" in every walk of life. The glories of " the Phoenix dining-room " are yet a tradition among the servants of the present hotel. We have before us "A Catalogue of the whole of the excellent Furniture and appendages of the Piazza Hotel in Covent Garden . . including the Furniture of the Noble Phoenix Room," &c., &c., offered for sale by the Messrs. Robins on the 12th August, 1857, and five following days, "by direction of the Proprietors, in consequence of the unlooked for demand of the premises for the new Royal Italian Opera." "The excellent horse-shoe Spanish mahogany table, 114 feet in length" had borne many a good old English dinner in its time. One can picture to oneself the number of stout-looking " elegant cut globular-shaped quart decanters" filled with the ruby wine of Oporto that graced those leaves from the mahogany tree.|
A little bill which falls under our eye reminds us of
|the truth of a great philosopher's lament, " my days are swifter than a weaver's shuttle." This little bill is addressed from the Tavistock to a distinguished and popular personage who ruled the adjoining Royal Italian Opera house before (and after) that fatal night when Anderson, the Wizard of the North, was temporarily in occupation of it. The items are pleasant to the fancy :-" 4 cold fowls; 3 pheasants; 2 tongues; piece of rolled beef; 2 jellies and tarts; bread and butter, &c.; 4 bottles of Clicquot (at 12S. 6d. the bottle), 1 of sherry at 6s." A very appetizing little supper. O courteous shade of Mario the superb ! tell us who were of the party that night ? Are they all with you in the land of shadows, or do any linger with us still? When that feast was served thy name was in every man's mouth, and thy song stayed upon the ear. And now-where's thy renown ?|
Who were "the Astronomicals" that held such famous feasts in "the noble Phoenix Room," who there dined together once a month, and took each his bottle like a man? Were they legendary "astronomicals," gentlemen who studied the stars at midnight in the neighbourhood of the Haymarket, having well polished their wits with wine, or were they real " astronomicals," professors of the science who loved to discuss the flight of comets over a bottle laid down in a comet year? But sherry appears to have been the favourite tipple of these worthies, though port makes a fair show in the bill. Thirty bottles of wine among twenty gentlemen is not so bad! Then there were "the Auctioneers " great diners in their day; "our esteemed and distinguished" Mr. Edward Robins in the chair. "The Auctioneers" also took their bottle per man; and what's more, something in the nature of cooling beverages afterwards. Their little account for " eleven dinners " includes six bottles of sherry, two of port, three of very special ditto, two Clicquot's champagne, a bottle of brandy, and (Lud! what stomachs these gentlemen must have enjoyed)
|ten pints of ale and sundry "ale cups" to wind up with!|
Between the " Shakespear" and " Piazza " taverns stood the "Bedford Coffee-house," later tavern and hotel. We are inclined to think that the "Shakespear" ultimately became part of it, for the Lion's Head (its mouth still open for the reception of such intelligence as shall be thrown into it) passed into possession of the proprietor of the " Bedford," by whom it was sold to Richardson, who leased the hotel which subsequently became Evans's. From Richardson's it went to Woburn Abbey, being bought by the Duke of Bedford. Few modern chroniclers of London make mention of the "Shakespear," but it was a place of great repute in its day. The waiters there dressed smartly in ruffles and knee breeches, and it was thought a bad week if each man had not made his pound a day. The Beefsteak Club, driven out of Covent Garden Theatre, took refuge for a time at the "Shakespear " and later at the " Bedford." The history of that club is well known. Among its members were the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Sussex, Lord Grantley, Sir J. Scott, Mr.
|Ellis, J. Kemble ("expelled for his mode of conduct "), J. Scott, Captain Morris, Wilkes (the sublime), Munden, and Fawcett. Nothing but beefsteaks and port wine, onions and potatoes, were by custom allowed; but this rule can hardly have been rigidly enforced, for Twigg (the cook already named) remembered having served " three or four of the members with fish; and in April a rump of beef has been roasted and eat cold with salads." Tradition says that the Duke of Norfolk was an enormous eater, and would "put away" his " three or four pounds of beefsteak, and after that take a Spanish onion and a beet-root, chop them together with oil and vinegar, and eat that." Such a meal with (say) three bottles of port wine, and a rummer or two of punch must have produced, one would have thought, something of a head in the morning. But then there were giants in those days, and his Grace of Norfolk was not the least vigorous among them if we may credit the stories of his table exploits taken from contemporary records.|
That long, low, dimly lighted, and badly ventilated coffee-room of the old " Bedford " (now doing service as a fruiterer's store) has a curious history
|if one did but know it. At the upper end (when we entered it last) there was a raised floor separated from the main apartment by an alcove-a kind of snuggery which had doubtless served as a sanctum sanctorum to generations of diners, from the days of Addison to those of Thackeray. After Addison died and Steele had retired into Wales, the customers of "Button's " in Russell Street mostly passed over to the "Shakespear" and "Bedford." Looking up at the rows of bells in the passage of that ancient hostelry, the other day, we noted the " Dryden " and "Russell " rooms, survivals of that period now considerably more than a hundred years ago. The "Bedford Coffeehouse " was a favourite rendezvous of the actors of the past and beginning of the present century, of whom Garrick, Quin, Foote, Murphy, Macklin, Munden, Fawcett, Charles Kemble, John Philip Kemble, Cooke, Young, Liston, and Farren, are perhaps now best remembered. It was in a room at the " Bedford " Richard Brinsley Sheridan proposed to fight out the interrupted duel with Captain Matthews, his rival for the hand of beautiful Miss Linley, of Bath, whom Sheridan married. The master being alarmed they|
|went away to the Castle Tavern in Henrietta Street close by, where they played their little game out. It was never satisfactorily explained to the public who was the better swordsman. " Almost immediately on entering the room we engaged. I struck Mr. Matthews' point so much out of the line, that I stepped up and caught hold of his wrist or the hilt of his sword, while the point of mine was at his breast. You ran in and caught hold of my arm exclaiming, ' Don't kill him !' I struggled, and said his sword was in my power. Mr. Matthews' called out twice or thrice, 'I beg my life !'-we were parted." Finally, after an altercation "with much heat," Mr. Sheridan broke Mr. Matthews' sword and flung the hilt to the other end of the room. Such was Mr. Sheridan's version of the Henrietta Street duel. We are not much concerned now to know who was in the right and who was in the wrong, or whether Mr. Sheridan's potations deep had not overbalanced his memory. "Young Mr. Sheridan " (whose reputation dates from the beautiful Miss Linley affair) has lain for half a century past in Westminster Abbey. .|
There was a famous bully at the " Bedford " in the time when Sheridan was in truth young Mr. Sheridan, called Tiger Roach. " He used to sit with a halfstarved look, a black patch upon his cheek, pale with the idea of murder, or with rank cowardice, a quivering look, and a downcast eye. In that manner he used to sit at table all alone and his soliloquy interrupted now and then with faint attempts to throw off a little saliva was to the following effect :-' Hut! hut ! a mercer's 'prentice with a bag-wig: d-n my s-l if I would not skiver a dozen of them like larks ! Hut ! hut! I don't understand such airs ! I'd cudgel him, back, breast, and belly for three skips of a louse! How do you do, Pat ! Hut ! hut ! God's blood- Larry, I'm glad to see you !-'Prentices-a fine thing indeed ! Hut! hut! how d'ye do, Dominick ! D-n my s-1, what's here to do?' These were the meditations of this agreeable youth. From one of these reveries he started up one night when I was there, called a Mr. Bagnell out of the room, and most heroically stabbed him in the dark, the other having no weapon to defend himself with. In this career the 'Tiger' persisted, till at length a Mr. Lennard bran-
|dished a whip over his head, and stood in a menacing attitude, commanding him to ask pardon directly. The 'Tiger' shrank from the danger with a 'Hut! hut! what signifies it between you and me ? Well ! well! I ask your pardon.' " Thus Arthur Murphy to David Garrick. Murphy was, in turns, player, barrister, and hack-writer for the booksellers, and ended by becoming a Commissioner of Bankrupts. He lived, it was said, on "potted stories," but the foregoing presents too amusing a likeness of a tavern bully of the period to be criticised too minutely. The present representative of the " Bedford Coffee-house, tavern and hotel " is the new red brick building standing at the corner of James Street, with an entrance under the north-western Piazza.|
The new and old Hummums hotels in the southwestern Piazza (both have been pulled down within recent times, and a new building and flower-market have taken their place) were quiet, old-fashioned places, whereat some unusual facilities appear to have been afforded in Dr. Johnson's time for taking the warm bath. The old Hummums was the first, and for many years, the only lodging-house within
|Covent Garden. The name is but another rendering of the Hamman or Turkish bathing-place of our day. In the fourth decade of the century "Clunn's" and " Evans's " were added to the list of famous Covent Garden taverns. These are to be traced from the original Grand Hotel, the first of its name in London (Mr. Holland please take note), which was opened in what had formerly been the mansion of Lord Orford, and subsequently of Lord Archer. "Clunn's," formerly " Richardson's," had a famous port wine, venison, and turtle reputation; and "Evans's" was best known for its songs and suppers, and for the genial spirit who presided in the supper room, Mr. John Green, better known as " Paddy Green." The "Savage Club" had rooms at Evans's, and later it became the Falstaff Club, which had its day, and ceased to be, giving place to the New Club still in existence.|
Not a few of us remember Evans's and maybe look back upon the evenings spent in the supper rooms, twenty-five years ago, with less of self-reproach than on some other evenings spent elsewhere. Ah me ! we are young but once, and when we remember that time of youth we are still young. We confess
|to a lingering regret when we think upon the songs, chops, and stout of Evans's. What a jolly old place it was ! The very atmosphere of the hotel itself was old English.|
|As you passed up the flight of wellworn stone steps with the rickety iron railings which had helped up many an owner of an equally rickety pair of gouty old feet, a fullflavoured puff of warm air came rushing out upon you from the cosey old entrance-hall. Not an offensive puff of warm air, but one that suggested toothsome morsels of green fat,|
|simmering in the copper stewpans below, with just the suspicion of a smell from the well-roasted " haunch " or " saddle" standing before the kitchen fire, waiting to be called as the "six o'clock joint." Those were the days when active and healthy men " tackled" the joint with vigour about the hour of six, afternoon. There was a port-wine look in the very appearance of the hall table (old members of the Savage Club will remember that table); it had a rich deep mahogany polish upon it, such as is seldom seen now-a-days, which seemed to bespeak the ease and precision with which a stout jolly-looking decanter of " very curious and old " had passed from man to man upon its shining surface. And Mr. John Green was not lacking the mellow port-winey look. The days of three-bottle men had, doubtless, not been without their influence on Mr. John Green, who was the personification of a stout, cheery, open-hearted, kindly English landlord. We have him in our mind's eye now, standing with his back to a blazing coal fire, red silk pocket- handkerchief in one hand, snuff box in the other: a prim, neat-looking old gentleman of hard upon threescore years and ten, with an excessively red face, and a|
|great deal of very grey hair, dressed in a black dress coat, black trousers and waistcoat, and wearing a profusion of shirt-collar of the time-honoured Gladstonian pattern, encircled by an ample old-fashioned black satin stock. His familiar salutation, "Ah, dear boy ! How d'ye do, dear boy?" is still remembered among men in the remorseful forties. It was Mr. Green's nature, and part of his every night duty, to be cordial and affable with everyone.|
As we remember " Evans's Supper-room," it was a hall capable of holding comfortably about eight hundred eaters of suppers. A number of ordinary restaurant tables, set about in rows, ran the length of the hall, four chairs to each. The upper portion was separated from the lower by a row of four Corinthian columns very elaborately gilded; and in this part the walls displayed a number of portraits of leading English actors and actresses, from Nell Gwynne's time downwards. At the extreme upper end was a small unadorned stage, destitute of anything in the shape of scenery, the only articles of furniture upon it being a piano and harmonium. To the right, a little above the stage, let into the wall so as to communicate with
|the hotel, was a small screened room,-reputed to have been the chamber in which Fanny Kemble was born. This ' box," so-called, was reserved for guests of the hotel and others, who, by pre-arrangement, and on the understanding that a supper was ordered, might be accompanied by ladies. The floor of the hall was reserved solely to gentlemen-at least in Paddy Green's time.|
The refreshments served consisted of what are know as " grills "-chops, steaks, broiled kidneys, poached eggs and bacon, "devilled" bones, Welsh rarebits, anchovy toasts, and potatoes baked in their jackets. 'The entertainment provided was singing. Old English glees and madrigals were sung by a choir of men and boys, this part of the evening's entertainment being varied occasionally by a little tumbling and juggling-brass rings and balancing-rod business --and by the performances of Herr von Joel on the penny tin whistle. Herr von Joel handed about his cigar-box during the early part of the evening, and drank a good deal of what was offered him by convivial young gentlemen, and then went upon the stage and played his penny whistle. " Evans's" was the
|best-conducted of the London supper-rooms (its reputation fell away in later times) ; and except on festival occasions, such as the Universities Boat-race day, and the eve of " the Derby," was as quiet and orderly a place as a gentleman might wish to eat his supper in. There was no vulgarity that we remember, and no Music-hall trash of the " La-di-da " school. Everyone seemed to be satisfied with his sixpence-worth of songs ; and if the sums levied by " John " at the door were not always clear and correct by the unwritten tariff, that little inconvenience seldom stayed the hungry man on his way to the supper-rooms again.|
No one knew the old Covent Garden taverns better than Thackeray, a man who relished their snugness and hospitality as much as did his learned predecessor Dr. J ohnson, the vates sacer of taverns. Most respected and virtuous Reader, who loves the writings of the Master as we do, William Makepeace Thackeray was not always the circumspect, prudent, stately, greyhaired gentleman of the old Court suburb and the clubs as we remember him. He had been merry and young like the most of us. He had lost his way in Bohemia, as many another traveller has done going
|through the world. We have his own confession that he once knew Bohemia " very well."  "A pleasant land," he calls it, "not fenced with drab stucco like Tyburnia or Belgravia; not guarded by a large army of footmen; not echoing with noble chariots; not replete with chintz drawing-rooms and neat tea-tables: a land over which hangs an endless fog, occasioned by much tobacco; a land of chambers, billiard-rooms, supper-rooms, oysters; a land of song; a land where soda-water flows freely in the morning; a land of tin dish covers from taverns, and frothing porter; a land of lotos-eating (with lots of cayenne pepper); . . . a land where men call each other by their Christian names, where most are poor, where almost all are young, and where if a few oldsters do enter, it is because they have preserved more carefully and tenderly than other folks their youthful spirits, and the delightful capacity to be idle." Yes, William Makepeace Thackeray knew the land of taverns and the country of Bohemia. The characters in his novels are constantly hovering around and about them : Major Dobbin, Lieutenant Osborne,|
|Jos. Sedley, of the Company's service, Collector at Bogglywollah ; Clive Newcome, son of the excellent Colonel; Mr. Arthur Pendennis; the Major, his worthy uncle; Mr. Warrington (and his remote ancestors, the Virginians); rackety Captain Shandon of the Fleet; " honest Jack Finucane; Captain Costigan, and the rest. Major Arthur Pendennis-" Major Arthur Pendennis, in the best blacked boots in all London, with a checked cravat that was never rumpled till dinner-time, a buff waistcoat, which bore the crown of his sovereign on the buttons, and linen so spotless that Mr. Brummel himself once asked the name of his laundress "-would, when not dining at his club or with the most noble the Marquis of Steyne, or Lord Hobanob, or the Duke of St. David's, betake himself to the famous Piazza Tavern (Mr. Thomas Harrison ruled there then) to partake of a good old English dinner, served in a richly-browned good old English dining-room. Of what did the " good old English dinner" of that period of our social history consist ? It was about the time of Waterloo, when young Osborne was bent upon thrashing " that infernal scoundrel Boney ;" but was more pleasantly|
|occupied for a time in dawdling after Mrs. Rawdon Crawley at Knightsbridge, and in spending old Osborne's money about town.|
Thomas Walker ("original" Walker), the Lambeth police magistrate, who some twenty years after preached the virtue of a simple style in respect of dining, has left on record his ideas of English dinners. "If I might have my choice I should adopt the simple English style [of cookery] for my regular diet, diversifying it only occasionally with the French. I like, as a rule, to abstain from much variety at the same meal." Here are some of his examples of a wholesome, albeit epicurean, English dinner: No. I. Turtle, followed by no other fish but whitebait (with abundance of brown bread and butter), which is to be followed by no other meat but grouse, succeeded by simple apple fritters and jelly, an ice, a cup of coffee and one glass of liqueur. The wines, punch, champagne and claret. No. 2 (for Christmas). Crimped cod, woodcocks, and plum-pudding. Wines, champagne, and, after dinner, mulled claret. No. 3. Spring soup, turbot, "with first-rate lobster sauce," cucumber, and new potatoes; ribs of beef, French beans, and salad; next
|a very fine dressed crab; and lastly, some jelly. The wines, champagne, port, and claret. No. 4 (at the Athenaeum Club). A dozen and a-half of oysters, a dish of fine flounders, water-zoutcheed, with plenty of brown bread and butter; then a brace of grouse with French beans. Wines, sherry, and claret.|
A more recent authority has given us his views in respect of an English dinner-a real English dinner, in the simple English style. Mr. Robert, most amusing and instructive of City officials (everyone, of course, has read Mr. Robert's Diary, published by Messrs. Bradbury, Agnew, and Co.; if not, let everyone take our advice and at once buy a copy): Mr. Robert has given us his notions, and very pleasant notions they are, of an English dinner. It was served to four foreign gentlemen at their very particular request, Mr. Robert himself having carte blanche in arranging the bill of fare. Here it is: Real turtle soup; a lovely turbot; a real English rumpsteak ("such as no Frenchman ever seed in his own country," if the London correspondent of the Paris Figaro will pardon our presumption in transcribing Mr. Robert's own opinion), with three dozen native oysters done in butter; and lots of
|game to follow. These foreign gentlemen took Punch with the soup; Johannisberg with the fish; " a bottle of our oldest champagne " with the steak; Burgundy with the game (a couple of brace of grouse, we take it; a bird per man, eh, Mr. Robert?), and some '47 Port with their cheese. After such a dinner, we should be inclined to join hands and dance "Here we go round the mulberry bush " with even the most hypercritical of French critics.|
The " simple English style " was, beyond question, an uncommonly good style, and we may take it that Major Arthur Pendennis, who was a grand master of the mode, practised it whenever he condescended to favour Mr. Harrison, of the Piazza Tavern, with his commands.
It was to the Tavistock Hotel Mr. Harry Foker was accustomed to go whenever he came to London, which was pretty frequently. Mr. Harry Foker, of St. Boniface College, Oxbridge, the lively son of Mr. Foker (Foker's Entire) and Lady Agnes Foker. Thither also went, in the days preceding the finding of Warrington in the Temple, and the founding of that wellknown journal written for gentlemen by gentlemen,
|"The Pall Mall Gazette," young Mr. Pendennis, and his friend Mr. Bloundell, who had a tick at "The Tavistock." This was, of course, before those little cards came into vogue at the hotel, on which is stated the sum total of a customer's daily or weekly liability, the exactness of which may be ascertained by consultation of the clerk at the desk. From " The Tavistock" these young gentlemen sallied forth of nights, and partook pretty freely of the pleasures of the town, which have been equally "freely" enjoyed from the same quarter by subsequent generations of young men from the Universities who patronize " The Tavistock " on the festival occasions of their alma mater. Whenever Mr. Hobnell came to town, " Squire Hobnell, of the Warren," near to Mr. Pendennis's paternal home of Fairoaks; whenever he came to London for a lark, and this was commonly once a year, "when Mrs. Hobnell could not leave the increasing duties of the nursery," he also had rooms there. When he was in London (he was accustomed to say) he liked to do as London does, "and go it a bit." He attended all the theatres, music-halls, casinos, and convivial taverns of the day; and when he returned to the west, carried|
|along with him a beautiful new bonnet and shawl for Mrs. Hobnell, by way, we surmise, of frustrating that worthy woman's too-inquisitive inquiry as to the expenses of his trip. How many of us have brought similar peace offerings to the domestic altar, after going it a bit in London ?|
What used to take the gay young students of the Universities, and the more sedate old bucks of the clubs, and the Squire Hobnells of " the Warren," and the Mr. Sam Huxters, their rollicking friends, and the notable men of the Press, and the dramatists and artists, their confreres, and the leading men from Sheffield, Glasgow, Manchester, and the like : what used to take all these excellent fellows to the joyous neighbourhood of Covent Garden, and the welcome shelter of " the old Tavistock"? We think we may find a satisfactory answer. " The Tavistock " has been for many a long year to numberless travellers the most " clubable" hotel in London. The phrase is Johnsonian and signifies, as applied to man, sociableness and good comradeship. It has far more of the essential part of a good club than the considerable majority of modern London clubs, and possesses all their comforts without half their restrictions.
A few years ago, a barrister died who had occupied the same bedroom in the hotel for twenty-eight years. He had come in casually one night and stayed on till his death. Another old gentleman who, later, became his most intimate friend, " happened in " (as the Americans say) in the same casual way (having journeyed per "Ramchunder," East Indiaman, Captain Bragg, from Madras), and he occupied his bedroom, taken for one night, for fifteen years. The sympathy between these two old gentlemen grew to be such that the one was never at his ease without the other. If one did not appear at the proper hour in the coffee-room at breakfast, the other fidgetted about till he had ascertained the cause. If one was ill, the other was at his wit's end to make him well. By-and-by they quarrelled. They quarrelled and avoided each other's society for a fortnight. The two were thoroughly miserable. At length the offender growing weary of his offence, went to his room and wrote a letter of penance, which was duly delivered to the offendee, silently sipping his tea at breakfast. He hurried out of the coffee-room and, on its threshold, ran into the arms of his friend bent on a similar errand of instant reconciliation.
|The two-well, we do not know that there is anything we need be ashamed to disclose. The sacred source of sympathetic tears overflowed, and the two grasped hands of affectionate reconciliation. This friendship became of such sturdy strength long after the period when lasting friendships are usually made, and it grew up at the Tavistock.|
One day one of these old gentlemen did not come down to his customary breakfast in the coffee-room. " An hour or two passed and we grew concerned about him," said Mr. Taylor, relating this incident to us. "We finally opened his door; and when I went into his room I had a feeling that I was intruding. He was seated in his armchair. He had wound up his watch, the end of his cigar lay upon the edge of the table, and 'The Newcomes' had fallen from his hand upon the floor. He was as if in sleep, peaceful, and resting." Death had stolen in quietly to that chamber and beckoned him away. This old guest of "The Tavistock" had come from the land where Colonel Newcome spent the best years of his life; and of him he was no unworthy counterpart in respect of cherishing a high sense of honour and a punctilious observance
|of the conduct of a gentleman. His memory is still held in affectionate remembrance at the old hotel in Covent Garden where he lived so many years.|
The domestic history of " The Tavistock " might furnish
|a readable contribution to the popular literature of the day. Like every other old London hotel it could a tale (a series of tales) unfold, though no love stories mingle with its record. But here we speak without authority, never having been admitted within the|
|peaceful precincts of the room dedicated to the ladies of the bar. It still rigidly adheres to the old- established rule of the house, to receive none but gentlemen as guests. Only the other day we saw a comfortable-looking couple, evidently on a visit to London from the country, drive up to the hotel with a view, no doubt, to sojourning there. But the hall-porter civilly waved them away, with a recommendation to try "The Bedford." The only skirts one sees fluttering about "The Tavistock" corridors are the pink and white skirts of the housemaids. And of these the slyest rogue can catch but a hasty glimpse; though we have heard it said that the wearers can show some of the prettiest faces in London. For ourselves, we have never had the privilege of the sight of one, and can only repeat what has been told us by those who have.|
The duties of the chamber are mostly done by chamberlains-personages of the sterner sex. Was it not a Judge of the Supreme Court, sitting on the Bench in open court, who not a great while ago asked leading counsel learned in the law to describe the functions of an hotel "chamberlain," thinking it but a pompous
|application of a courtly word. But here stands the precise meaning in the dictionary: " Chamberlain-An attendant who has charge of the chambers, as in a large house or hotel." The chamberlains of " The Tavistock," as becomes the retainers of an hotel so long established and eminently reputable, are staid, middle-aged, attentive, and trustworthy-retainers, in fact, of the good old stamp common enough fifty years ago. Talking of servants of that class, we remember many years ago that an old gentleman told us how he had once dined with an eccentric, but rich citizen of Bath, who was shabby enough to keep his good wine in the cellars till his guests had well drunk of the bad. The old butler who waited at table being requested to pass the wine to the guest aforesaid, leant over and filled his glass, and at the same time whispered in his ear, " Don't drink it; I'm going down to bring up some better." There was a touch of courtesy in that act which must have been grateful to the guest, and not altogether displeasing to the host, if ever he came to learn of it, for it showed that master and man understood and humoured each other's peculiarities.|
Many an eccentric old gentleman has partaken of
|the hospitality of " The Tavistock." We knew of one who had such a horror of being in debt, that he never went to his breakfast in the coffee-room but he laid down half-a-sovereign forthwith on the table to pay for his bed and breakfast. When he arrived, he invariably handed, without remark, a sixpence to the chamberlain at the top of the stairs, which that functionary, knowing his taste, forthwith exchanged for a glass of whiskey. He prided himself on never being without a L's worth of silver for " tips," and when he lay a-dying requested to be accommodated with change for a sovereign. It is interesting to know that he died worth L6o,ooo, and left £20 to be divided among so many of "The Tavistock's " servants as had attended upon him for twenty-five years ! There was another old customer whose name appeared on the hotel's books for a period of sixty years. Whenever he came he brought with him a stout oak chest (a sort of muniment chest) which required the united efforts of three lusty porters to carry it from the hall to his bedroom. He was a Renter of Drury Lane Theatre, and religiously attended the performances at that theatre to "have his money's worth." He stood, so to say, upon his rights,|
|and paid a fairish hotel bill in order that he might duly assert them. The tradition of the smoking-room is that he would sit upon the steps of the portico of the theatre in order to be the first in.|
How long have we now known this old English home in the joyous neighbourhood of Covent Garden ? We took our first cut of mutton there with a kindly Australian who had made his " pile " at Ballarat, in the month of October, 1854, being at that period of our history a lad of the Grey Friars' Monastery by Newgate: so that our experience of its comforts is not solely of to-day. We have said that in our opinion the popularity of " The Tavistock " is largely due to the fact that it is as much club as hotel. The black-ball has no force, and does not exclude; but if you go there, it is taken on trust that you are a gentleman. Each guest seems to be on terms of acquaintance with the other guests; a man meets his fellow there as if he were an honest fellow, and not a knave; and there gentlemen talk to each other without fear of being hurt or contaminated by the act of letting the mouth speak. If you should happen to ask of a stranger the way to the Dining-room, he does not turn his head over a Covent Garden.
|throat-cutting collar, and lisp like an idiot, "I dawnt knaw." If you should venture a remark with your neighbour in the writing-room, he does not lift his eyes with amazement, and examine you from head to foot with the calm insolence of the British snob. If you should slip into an unoccupied chair in a crowded room, your fellow-guest does not resent your coming as if you had been a poor, uneducated, fustian- smelling costermonger of "the Garden." In short, if to "The Tavistock " you go, your presence there shows you to be a reasonable man. You need not hold your card-case in your hand, nor are you obliged to begin a conversation by first nominating (as Americans say) committee on credentials.|
When an hotel can boast of a record of unbroken prosperity for a hundred years, we may be very sure that the management has been personal, active, and painstaking. The original Mr. Thomas Harrison in due time gave place to his son, Mr. Frederick Burgoyne Harrison, whose tall, handsome presence and courteous bearing are still remembered at "The Tavistock." We have heard it said that it was reluctantly he took to the business of hotel-keeping. In America, to " run a
|hotel " is the height of many a " live " man's ambition. We were acquainted with a prominent hotel-keeper of Boston, U.S.A., who was also a litterateur of some distinction, and editor of a daily paper. Mr. Frederick Harrison was originally an engineer student in the workshops of Messrs. Penn. He was a man of considerable ability, and when he succeeded his father, even though the business was distasteful to him, did what he had to do with his might. "The Tavistock" became the most popular hotel in London under his direction. It remained under control of the Harrison family till I886, the responsible management for the later part of the time devolving upon Mr. Charles Taylor, who, after twenty-five years' service, ultimately became managing director, when the hotel was purchased by a company. Mr. Taylor wisely made no changes in the domestic arrangements of the place. The services of all the old servants were retained. The time-honoured traditions of " The Tavistock " were scrupulously preserved. The bowl without handles, a survival of the dish-of-tea period of Johnson, still made its appearance in the coffee-room. Everyone took his turn in stirring the Christmas pud- Covent Garden.|
|ding as of yore. The guests were invited to that interesting ceremony as usual. The big bowl of punch was brewed as carefully on New Year's Eve, and placed as joyously in the holly-decked coffee-room, as had been the custom every New Year's Eve for many a year; and the mingled materials, hot and steaming, were ladled out generously to all comers. Manager, manager's friends and neighbours, customers, guests, cook, chamberlains, housemaids, waiters, porters, and all other the grand array of retainers came to the Christmas feast at Christmas-tide, and sat together as our ancestors used to sit, in good old English fashion, in the grand old hall of the grand old mansion, the distinction of " the salt " being abolished for the occasion. The Boxing-night festivities were kept up with all the old frolic and fun-the dance, the supper (supper "with champagne " and the rest, after the fashion of ball suppers of people of degree), with an occasional dramatic entertainment " by the company " to play the guests in.|
But if " The Tavistock " management is wise in respecting the traditions of the hotel (there is one thing about those traditions which is noteworthy:
|they are more kindly than costly, and are profitable in showing the servants that their zeal and trustworthiness are appreciated): if those traditions are still kept up, it must not be supposed that the hotel has not advanced with the times. You will find the work of Inigo Jones still supporting the house (go down in the wine cellars and examine it), but other architects have from time to time extended and improved the original structure. In I86I a new wing was added, giving additional accommodation to the extent of sixty-five rooms, exclusive of the present dining-room. This improvement cost upwards of LI3,000. The ground which was cleared for this new building formed part of the ground belonging to the original convent. We need hardly inform the reader that " Covent Garden " is a corruption of Convent Garden, which was the burying-place belonging to the Abbots of Westminster in the early part of the thirteenth century.|
In making the necessary excavations for the new wing the workmen came upon large quantities of human bones; and some very interesting ancient earthen jars and water-vessels. There was a law suit, C
|we believe, between Mr. F. Gye and Mr. Harrison, touching the rightful ownership of this plot. A man "in possession" for one of the parties is stated to have held it for three years-till, in fact, the law suit was ended-who from his primitive mode of life and rough habitation became known in the neighbourhood as Robinson Crusoe. In 1867, the old red-brick frontage of the hotel overlooking the market was stuccoed, and other alterations were carried out on the upper floor, where the bedrooms (till quite recent time called dormitories) looked out upon the leads. The late Sir Michael Bass had always a preference for one of those old bedrooms, as it was convenient for getting out of the window on to the leads in summer time, to smoke. " No. 123" became known as " Mr. Bass's Room," just as other rooms in "The Tavistock" are connected with the names of other old customers. The stairway leading to that room (from which the Surrey hills might be seen on a clear day) was an interesting relic of the original dwelling-house of Charles II.'s reign. With the exception of part of the existing cellarage, it was probably the last of the original architect's work.|
These improvements were carried further (the Duke
|of Bedford having granted an extension of lease), by the addition, in 1875, of the James Street wing, comprising|
|additional accommodation, which included the present Smoking-room, and two Billiard-rooms below. In the course of fifteen years, the proprietors had added 132 rooms, and effected other considerable improvements in the Tavistock Hotel at a cost of £35,ooo. An excellent example of the present architect's work may be seen in the Smoking-room, which is unquestionably one of the most comfortable and best ventilated in London. We have seen the right honourable and distinguished member for Central Birmingham, with Mr. Jacob Bright, in a snug corner of that room; in another corner a well-known dramatist and man of letters; and in yet another, the most popular English actor of the day discussing affairs with other popular English actors of the day. We have not sufficient space (nor yet the inclination) to tell the names of those above the rank of men of means, and mere "swells," of which all first-class hotels can show a plethora, who have sojourned at "The Tavistock." We asked Mr. Taylor to name a distinguished person or two of his day, and he led off with Dr. Livingstone, the African Traveller. Charles Sumner, the American statesman; Sir Wm. Rae, M. D.,|
|of Arctic fame; Captain (now Admiral) Inglefield, commander in three Arctic expeditions; M. Edmond About, editor of the Radical "Le XIX° Siecle," and formerly of the " Gaulois " and "Soir " newspapers;|
|Grant and Speke, African explorers; Dr. Kirke, of Zanzibar; Forrest and Booth, American tragedians; W. H. Wills, the dramatist, and a host of others might be named among constant customers of the old Tavistock. We say nothing of Provosts and Bailies,|
|and Mayors, aye, and Lord Mayors, and men with big schemes " to shove through Parliament," and builders of bridges and aqueducts, and great ironmasters, your Crawshays, Armstrongs, Whitworths, and the like; and merchants and shipowners of Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool, and rich people like Allsopp and Bass: we say nothing of all these, for if we did begin to call every man by his name, why we had better sit down at once and compile a dictionary of mercantile Men of the Time. The Harvard crew put up at " The Tavistock" when they came over to whip the Britishers on their own water (they showed rare pluck, and we for one cheered them at starting); and the Australian cricketers know no other home in London. "Harris, of Dublin, John Knowles, of Manchester, and Chute, of Bristol" (a query in the " Era" will tell you who they are), knew " The Tavistock " as well as most men; and possibly Toole, and Mark Twain, sometime of New Orleans and the Mississippi River, leadsman, pilot, and author, might relate a joke or two told in its Smoking-room. But we must pull together the threads of our discourse.|
Of all the good old London taverns of bygone days
|the Tavistock is the one which best retains its English flavour. " The new directorate," says " Atlas " in the " World," "wisely adhere to the severely Saxon traditions|
|of the ancient inn; as of yore, you can peep at your dinner through a glass window before you eat it, and the sturdy 'saddle'-loving souls who kick against 'kickshaws' will find much solid satisfaction in the comforting excellence of the unpretentious cookery. Moreover, port patrons will find solace in various vintages dating from the famous 'thirties."' It is|
|essentially, what we might term, a winter house-a house in which the fires are big and come-at-able, the chairs broad and comfortable, the bedrooms warm and cosy, the dining-room ample and "richly browned," the port wine mild and matured, the dishes satisfying and English. The taste for venison appears to be dying out; but this was a famous venison house. Thirty years ago, when venison was the epicure's dish, a haunch and neck were, in the season, dressed every day for dinner at the reasonable charge of 3s. 6d. Though this fashion has departed, the other happily remains, of serving " the joint " as the joint ought to be served, of primest quality, and cooked to perfection none of your slim after-pieces of " roast," as in dinners wherein the roast plays second fiddle to the entree; but inviting substantial cuts sufficient for a reasonable man's dinner, placed before you on a hot plate with due accompaniment of well-cooked vegetables. Why does not the confirmed London diner-out-the man of the old-time "Albion," and " Simpson's," and " Blanchard's,"-give a little more attention to the daily fare provided in the dining-room of " The Tavistock," which now, as in every other hotel managed by a man of sense, is open|
|to the casual customer. Certainly it deserves to be better known to non-residents. Nor are the daily "exhibits" of its coffee-room table to be despised. The pigeon-pie, the cold pressed beef, the cold saddle, the ham, the birds, and the soused salmon, always seem to us more appetizing than those dishes shown on the side-tables of some other hotels of our acquaintance. If a man has no appetite for cold meats, let him consult with Green, head-waiter of the establishment (most discriminating and attentive of head-waiters), who doubtless will recommend, what we have often eaten in perfection under his advice, a grilled fillet of beef with mushrooms.|
Though Liberal in all other respects, we confess to a rigid, unbending conservatism in the matter of dining-places and dinners, tempered, however, to this extent, namely, that we prefer a comfortable, wellventilated, well-furnished dining-room, to a stuffy, uncomfortable and ill-kept one. To our thinking there were few pleasanter taverns than the old "Albion " in Russell Street, Covent Garden, as it was twenty-five years ago, when Ponsford ruled, and Taylor (with a staff of most civil and attentive waiters), was his aid. It
|was admirably conducted, and the dinners and suppers were of their kind-plain roast, and boiled, grills, and stews--excellent. The smoking-room was cosy, and frequented-by many well-known literary men, actors, and good fellows generally. " Simpson's " was at its.best (as we venture to think) about the same period; so was the "Rainbow" in Fleet Street when Mr. Hale managed it. The " George," next Twining's bank in the Strand, then gave a first-rate fish dinner daily at five, such as we never see nowadays in London. If this should meet the eye of the genial lessee of the little theatre in King William Street, we are sure he will bear us out that old Mr. Griffiths (the last of the old school of gentlemen landlords, with the manners and courtesy of a prince) supplied one of the best dinners at is. 6d. to be had in London. When the said genial lessee was acting "Brutus Toupet, the Terror of Kings," " Augustus de Rosherville," and "Bob Cratchit," at the Adelphi, under Webster's regime, we often had the pleasure of sitting next him at the " George." Griffiths gave three or four kinds of fish, and a couple of joints, and the company all sat down to dine at the same table. After dinner there were pipes and punch,|
|and each man chatted with his neighbour. The " Scotch Stores " and "American Stores," in Oxford Street, were good taverns of their class. By no means a bad dinner was then to be had at the " Shades " (now covered by the Empire Theatre) in Leicester Square. "The Green Dragon " in Bishopsgate Street, too, was an excellent tavern of ancient respectability. " Blanchard's," in Beak Street, was more comfortable, we think, when it was less crowded. All these good English taverns served " the joint" in perfection.|
A correspondent has lately written to a London newspaper  -a little intolerantly, perhaps, but evidently after cogitating his own experiences-suggesting to hotel and restaurant proprietors to advertise if they employ English or foreign waiters, and as to whether their cuisine be English or foreign. " I am convinced," he writes, "the result would be in favour of those who adhere to the old English ways. A large company assembled here [at a Zurich hotel], unanimously expressed their dislike to foreign waiters and foreign food as compared with the food and waiters we used to have in England. I am convinced all-including
|foreigners-even at higher charges, would prefer purely English waiters and English food. The imitation French food now in vogue in London is neither wholesome nor palatable, and if the writer who alludes to Italian restaurants knew of what the food sold in them really consists, he would not risk his health by patronising them." The "imitation French food" may be good or it may be bad in those restaurants; that point we do not care to discuss. We, however, are at one with the writer, whoever he may be, who pleads for a return to English waiters and English cookery in London. An " Ex-M.P.," in the columns of another London daily, gives some pleasant reminiscences of "Bellamy's,' the House of Commons kitchen of days gone by. Bellamy and Kew were housekeepers of that august assembly at the beginning of the century. They supplied members with luncheons, dinners, and wine. Their's was "a plain room, of which a large portion surrounding the immense fire-place was lined with red bricks painted a bright vermilion. A lot of tables, separated by screens (like the dining-room of the 'Cock,' in Fleet Street), were crowded by members|
|whose loud talk and jovial hilarity come back at this moment to my ears .... 'Bellamy's' was famous for its Yorkshire ham-the first Bellamy that ever flourished upon that or some adjacent spot, came to London, I have been told, from Hull ... The room was what we should now call a grill-room, and was modelled upon the pattern of the Beefsteak Club, of which the gridiron, with ' Beef and Liberty'for a motto, was the ensign. Sydney Smith [a frequenter of 'Bellamy's'], then frequently addressed by his friends as 'Peter Plymley,' was the most fastidious and critical gourmet in England, and had the credit of suggesting the addition of a thimbleful of Veuve Clicquot--dry champagne had not as yet come into fashion-to a slice of broiled ham, which I remember that he considered it sacrilege to eat with mustard.|
"The great majority of the guests, however, came to ' Bellamy's' to partake of hissing hot steaks and chops fresh from the gridiron. The most remarkable features of the place were, first, that the attendants and waiters were demure, soberly-clad, middle-aged women who never smiled; and, secondly, that the wines drunk were almost invariably port and Madeira.
|In a book which is now very rare, called 'A Carouse in the Commons,' it is stated that-' Baronets who date from the Conquest, and squires of ancient degree, care nothing for the unassuming look of that kitchen, which they regard as part and parcel of the British Constitution, if the steak be hot and good, if it can be conveniently and quietly despatched, and the tinkle of the division bell can be heard while the dinner proceeds.' It was an age of taverns of which I am now writing, and Lord Eldon adjourned from the bench at Westminster Hall every day at half-past one p.m. to partake of a steak and a bottle of port at 'The Cat and Bagpipes,' which stood at the corner of Downing Street. 'Call England a proud nation, forsooth !' exclaims the author of 'A Carouse in the Commons,'-'Say that the House of Commons is aristocratic! Both the nation and its representatives must be patterns of Republican humility if all the pomp and circumstance of dining in their luxurious houses, surrounded by splendour, powdered livery servants and exquisite viands, can be forgotten in Bellamy's kitchen.' "|
What struck the writer's boyish fancy most was
|"the amazing amount of pale old Madeira, at a fabulous price, which the convives around consumed. There were at that time old country gentlemen in abundance who, instead of brewing a vat of mighty ale when their eldest son and heir was born, laid in a pipe of Madeira, to be consumed when the little stranger had attained his majority. The grape disease had not as yet invaded the districts where the famous wine, so dear to the more refined of our predecessors and so detrimental to those of them with gouty proclivities, was produced. There was a huge tub under the window at ' Bellamy's' into which water slowly trickled from a spout at the top, and at the bottom of which there was a small perforation to allow the liquid to escape. Into this tub a solemn-looking old waiter -the only male attendant in the room except the host himself--plunged the funnel-shaped glasses which required washing. Reverting to those primitive times, it would amaze modern legislators to think how simple and unpretending in their tastes were the stout squires and far-descended noblemen, all of them 'acred up to the chin,' who, instead of luxurious clubs and French cookery, were satisfied with ' Bellamy's.' " Covent Garden.|
|There will be a reaction some day from the Anglo- French dinner and entree business (a French gentleman told us the other day that he never could get a cut of beef out of England, nor an entree but in France);|
|and then, perhaps, we shall get back once again to the more wholesome English style. What Engi s h man who loves his dinner wants his slice out of the saddle of mutton cut the thickness of a shilling, or his bit of turbot dipped out of the fishkettle, wherein it has been soddening along with other meagre portions for an hour and more ? Why should we be compelled to go to German and Italian cafes|
|for our cut of mutton? What do Germans, Frenchmen, or Italians know of the saddle, the haunch, or "the silver side of the round"? Is there any food more digestible and wholesomer in its way than plain roast and boiled ? Ask Mr. Robert, the greatest living authority on dinners and diners (we have taken the liberty of quoting him more fully elsewhere), whose contributions to Punch add to our merriment and stock of information on this most interesting subject. We have had too much, of recent years, of kickshaws and maccaroni. Let's hark back a bit to the wellroasted saddle and sirloin, and let us see our turbot, brill, or slice of salmon cut from the fish itself, and not served boiled to bits and flavourless, and disguised with sauce of capers, or tinned lobster from Massachusetts Bay. We should like to see the management of "The Tavistock " take this matter in hand, and let the world know that the old Tavern-style is still kept up in Covent Garden. With its history and traditions, " The Tavistock " is the very place to attract the diner who is tired of the Continental fashion, which may be best studied at our fashionable hotels, or, better still, at Covent Garden.|
|Paris, Brussels, or Berlin. The present Managing Director, Mr. Charles Taylor, was pupil in a good school. He graduated under the late Mr. Harrison. He knows all about "richly-browned dining-rooms,"|
|and the roast saddle, the haunch, and "the sirloin," rumpsteaks, and cod's head and oysters, and grouse, woodcock, partridges, and venison. The cellars he controls contain some fine samples of old Ports and Burgundies, Clarets, and Champagnes. His staff of waiters is second to none. Let him move his co-di-|
|rectors to give us a reproduction in large of the old " Piazza Tavern," where we may taste of the foods and dainties of our forefathers; where, if a man's appetite inclines that way, he may taste a glass of Bishop or of Sack o' winter nights, and a good supper of grilled bones or oysters. This should not disturb the privacy of the "Old Tavistock;" and when the "Piazza Tavern" exists again in name and reputation, we shall have revived some of the pleasanter memories of "the joyous neighbourhood of Covent Garden."|
The following verses may not inappropriately serve as appendix of our little book. If we have told in it little that is new, we have made amends in interesting the Reader (as we hope) in what is old. London of to-day is not so delightful a pleasure-ground to all of us, that we can afford to pass by any chance retreat that promises repose and somewhat of the pleasant hospitality of old times. Some of us are past the age when kicking the heels about in marble halls, and parading ourselves in drawing-rooms of almost regal magnificence, lends any charm to life. Like Christophero Sly, we like not all this splendour, and beg for a draught of small ale. If you would give us Covent Garden.
|conserves, give us conserves of beef. We prefer the simple village inn of Mistress Marian Hacket of Wincot to the stately building with the marble columns. We plead for occasional retirement and somewhat of the soberer fashion of our forefathers. We ask for an old armchair in an old-fashioned tavern out of the hurly-burly, where one sees and hears less of the bustle of the Boulevards. Alas ! that our ending should be in the nature of a lament. In transcribing these verses, we ask pardon of the anonymous writer whose permission we have not first obtained. He doubtless has knowledge of " the old Tavistock." If ever he comes that way we hope he will grant us absolution, if not over a steaming bowl of Bishop, glass to glass, brimmed with ruby wine of '47, than which, we'll wager, he will not find a better bottle within sound of the boom of " Big Ben."|
A BALLAD OF OLD INNS.
" Where shall I find them-the Inns that I dream about,
' Bushes,' ' Bell Savages,' ' Horses,' and ' Heads '?
Where seek the signboard that bragged from its beam about
Commonplace comforts, good cheer, and good beds ?
"Vainly-beguiled by traditions of Thackeray,
Etchings of Crowquill, and sketches by Boz-
Rove I 'mid London's new-fangled gimcrackery,
Searching 'Time is' for the haunts of 'Time was.'
"Vainly, through byway, through alley and rookery,
Vainly I hunger the hostel to find
Warranting hope of plain fare and plain cookery,
Rest for the body and peace for the mind.
* * * * *
" Gone are the surly ' twin heads of the Saracens,'
Blest for a Browdie, though sacred to Squeers;
Gone the ' White Hart,' where that prince of comparisons,
Weller, blacked boots in the prime of his years.
"Gone too the ' Slaughters,' that notable snuggery,
Where gentle Dobbin, the brave and the true,
Weary of uniform, pipe-clay, and puggaree,
Slighted his supper when hasting to woo.
"Where is ' mine hostess,' the buxom and motherly,
Warm in her welcome and apt in her jest ?
Where the head-waiter, half-lordly, half-brotherly,
Patron and slave to the oft-coming guest ?
" Where jolly Boniface, 'neath whose protectorate
Port was a proverb and Punch was a law ?
Gone-to make way for a phantom Directorate,
Shadows intangible, sovereigns of straw.
" Where are the signs, each a pun or a riddle, gone--
' Nobody,' ' Nowhere,' the ' Mouth,' and the ' Mail'?
Where, Piccadilly, have Puss and her Fiddle gone,
Mystical tribute to poor chat fidele?
" Where are they all ? 'Mid our 'Grands ' and our ' Avenues,'
Where the blest freedom from tumult and din ?
Where shall I find, in our six-storey parvenus,
Licence for taking 'mine ease in mine Inn' ?
" Lost in the limbo of popular fallacies,
Calm and tranquillity fade like a dream;
Ease yields to ornament, taverns turn palaces,
Stages en route to a social paralysis-
Plutus the postboy, his Pegasus steam."
 " The Adventures of Philip."
 The Daily News, Sept. 7, 1886.
 The Daily Telegraph, Sept. 13, 1886.