Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 The London Tavern Life of Sir Richard Steele


Among the four hundred letters of Steele's preserved in the British Museum, are some written from his tavern haunts, a few weeks after marriage, to his "Dearest being on earth:"

"Eight o'clock, Fountain Tavern, Oct. 22, 1707.

"My dear,

"I beg of you not to be uneasy; for I have done a great deal of business to-day very successfully, and wait an hour or two about my Gazette."

In the next, he does "not come home to dinner, being obliged to attend to some business abroad." Then he writes from the Devil Tavern, Temple Bar, January 3, 1707-8, as follows:—

"I have partly succeeded in my business, and enclose two guineas as earnest of more. Dear Prue, I cannot come home to dinner; I languish for your welfare, and will never be a moment careless more.

"Your faithful husband," etc.

Within a few days, he writes from a Pall Mall tavern:—

"Dear Wife,

"Mr. Edgecombe, Ned Ask, and Mr. Lumley, have desired me to sit an hour with them at the George, in Pall Mall, for which I desire your patience till twelve o'clock, and that you will go to bed," etc.

When money-matters were getting worse, Steele found it necessary to sleep away from home for a day or two, and he writes:—

"Tennis-court Coffee-house, May 5, 1708.

"Dear Wife,

"I hope I have done this day what will be pleasing to you; in the meantime shall lie this night at a baker's, one Leg, over against the Devil Tavern, at Charing Cross. I shall be able to confront the fools who wish me uneasy, and shall have the satisfaction to see thee cheerful and at ease.

"If the printer's boy be at home, send him hither; and let Mr. Todd send by the boy my night-gown, slippers, and clean linen. You shall hear from me early in the morning," etc.

He is found excusing his coming home, being "invited to supper at Mr. Boyle's." "Dear Prue," he says on this occasion, "do not send after me, for I shall be ridiculous." There were Caudles in those days.[37]

[37] Lives of Wits and Humourists, vol. i. p. 134.

John Timbs
Club Life of London Vol. II
London, 1866