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- The Inns and Taverns of "Pickwick" - 1/19 -


THE INNS AND TAVERNS OF "PICKWICK"

WITH SOME OBSERVATIONS ON THEIR OTHER ASSOCIATIONS

by B.W. Matz

[illustration: Scene in the yard of the Bull Inn, Whitechapel. Mr. Pickwick starts for Ipswich. From an engraving by T. Onwhyn]

CONTENTS

PREFACE

Chapter I. "PICKWICK" AND THE COACHING AGE

II. THE "GOLDEN CROSS," CHARING CROSS

III. THE "BULL," ROCHESTER, "WRIGHT'S NEXT HOUSE," AND THE "BLUE LION," MUGGLETON

IV. THE "WHITE HART," BOROUGH

V. "LA BELLE SAUVAGE" AND THE "MARQUIS OF GRANBY," DORKING

VI. THE "LEATHER BOTTLE," COBHAM, KENT

VII. THE "TOWN ARMS," EATANSWILL, AND THE INN OF "THE BAGMAN'S STORY"

VIII. THE "ANGEL," BURY ST. EDMUNDS

IX. THE "BLACK BOY," CHELMSFORD, THE "MAGPIE AND STUMP," AND THE "BULL," WHITECHAPEL

X. THE "GREAT WHITE HORSE," IPSWICH

XI. THE "GEORGE AND VULTURE"

XII. THE "BLUE BOAR," LEADENHALL MARKET, "GARRAWAY'S" AND THE "WHITE HORSE CELLAR"

XIII. FOUR BATH INNS AND THE "BUSH," BRISTOL

XIV. THE "FOX UNDER THE HILL," OTHER LONDON TAVERNS, AND "THE SPANIARDS," HAMPSTEAD

XV. THE "BELL," BERKELEY HEATH, THE "HOP POLE," TEWKESBURY, AND THE "OLD ROYAL," BIRMINGHAM

XVI. COVENTRY, DUNCHURCH, AND DAVENTRY INNS, AND THE "SARACEN'S HEAD," TOWCESTER

XVII. "OSBORNE'S," ADELPHI, AND TONY WELLER'S PUBLIC-HOUSE ON SHOOTER'S HILL

XVIII PICKWICK AND THE GEORGE INN

PREFACE

It is not claimed for this book that it supplies a long-felt want, or that it is at all necessary to the better understanding of the immortal work which inspired it. Nor does the author offer any apology for adding yet another volume to the long list of books, already existing, which deal in some way or other with England's classic book of humour, because it isn't so much his fault as might appear on the surface.

A year or two ago he contributed to an American paper a series of twenty articles on some of the prominent inns mentioned in the works of Dickens, and before the series was completed he received many overtures to publish them in volume form. To do so would have resulted in producing an entirely inadequate and incomplete book, whose sins of omission would have far outrun its virtues, whatever they might have been.

As an alternative, he set himself the task of dealing with the inns and taverns mentioned in The Pickwick Papers alone, grafting certain of those articles into their proper place in the scheme of the book, and leaving, perhaps, for a future volume, should such be warranted, the inns mentioned in other books of the novelist. If the reading of this volume affords half the pleasure and interest the writer has derived from compiling it, the overtures would then seem to have been justified, and the book's existence proved legitimate.

Needless to say, numerous works of reference have been consulted for facts, and the writer's indebtedness to them is hereby acknowledged.

He also desires to record his grateful thanks to Mr. Charles G. Harper for permission to reproduce several of his drawings from his invaluable book on The Old Inns of Old England; to the proprietors of The Christian Science Monitor for allowing him to reproduce some of the pictures drawn by Mr. L. Walker for the series of articles which appeared in that paper; to Mr. T. W. Tyrrell, Mr. Anthony J. Smith, and Mr. T. Fisher Unwin for the loan of photographs and pictures of which they own the copyright.

THE INNS AND TAVERNS OF "PICKWICK"

CHAPTER I

"PICKWICK" AND THE COACHING AGE

Dickens, like all great authors, had a tendency to underestimate the value of his most popular book. At any rate, it is certainly on record that he thought considerably more of some of his other works than he did of the immortal Pickwick. But The Pickwick Papers has maintained its place through generations, and retains it to-day, as the most popular book in our language--a book unexampled in our literature. There are persons who make a yearly custom of reading it; others who can roll off pages of it from memory; scores who can answer any meticulous question in an examination of its contents; and a whole army ready and waiting to correct any misquotation that may appear in print from its pages. All its curiosities, lapses, oddities, anachronisms, slips and misprints have been discovered by commentators galore, and the number of books it has brought into existence is stupendous.

What the secret of its popularity is would take a volume to make manifest; but in a word, one might attribute it to its vividness of reality--to the fact that every character seems to be a real living being, with whose minute peculiarities we are made familiar in a singularly droll and happy manner. With each we become close friends on first acquaintance, and as episode succeeds episode the friendship deepens, with no thought that our friends are mere imaginary creatures of the author's brain.

It does not matter if the adventures of these amiable and jovial beings are boisterously reckless at times, or if they indulge in impossible probabilities. Their high spirited gaiety and inexhaustible fun and humour and their overflow of good-nature stifles criticism.

Dickens's object in writing The Pickwick Papers he assured us in the preface was "to place before the reader a constant succession of characters and incidents; to paint them in as vivid colours as he could command, and to render them, at the same time, life-like and amusing." All this he succeeded in doing with such amazing success that we have a masterly picture of English life of the period to be found in no other book. The secret of the book's popularity and fame is in its unaffected and flowing style, its dramatic power, and, of course, its exuberant humour.

But there is much for serious reflection in its pages as well, and one could dilate at length on the propaganda which is so thinly camouflaged throughout; propaganda against lawyers, prisons, corruption in Parliament, celebrity hunting, pomposity, fraud, hypocrisy and all uncharitableness in the abstract; but all this is wrapped up in the same way that such things are done in all the fairy tales of which Pickwick is one of the best.

There are, as a fact, innumerable reasons why Pickwick is so popular, so necessary to-day. The one which concerns us more at the moment is its appeal as a mirror of the manners and customs of a romantic age which has fast receded from us. It is, perhaps, the most accurate picture extant of the old coaching era and all that was corollary to it. No writer has done more than Dickens to reflect the glory of that era, and the glamour and comfort of the old inns of England which in those days were the havens of the road to every traveller. All his books abound in pleasant and faithful pictures of the times, and alluring and enticing descriptions of those old hostelries where not only ease was sought and expected, but obtained; Pickwick is packed with them.

The outside appearance of an inn alone was in those times so well considered that it addressed a cheerful front towards the traveller "as a home of entertainment ought, and tempted him with many mute but significant assurances of a comfortable welcome." Its very signboard promised good cheer and meant it; the attractive furnishing of the homely windows, the bright flowers on the sills seemed to beckon one to "come in"; and when one did enter, one was greeted and cared for as a guest and not merely as a customer.

We all know, as Dickens has reminded us elsewhere, the great station hotel, belonging to the company of proprietors which has suddenly sprung up in any place we like to name, ". . . in which we can get anything we want, after its kind, for money; but where nobody is glad to see us, or sorry to see us, or minds (our bill paid) whether we come


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