Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/143

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the largest and best-shaded squares in London, due, no doubt, to the fines and penalties heaped upon the heads of the offender who violated the rules governing its seclusion, as is proved by a proclamation dated 1805, a facsimile of which is herewith reproduced. The original was the property of an old fellow, the proprietor of a near-by public house, a friend of my cabby who, while I was at work, regaled both the cabby and the horse within its bar and stable.

I can understand now, with the document before me, why other sections of the Temple—like Fountain Court—still preserve their rest and solitude. What would have happened had I defied all the rules and attempted to work around the Fountain without a permit, it is impossible to imagine. But all doubts would have been solved had I tried it in Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1805.

And a great Square it was in its day—this famous West End of London, and a great people lived and played their parts within its confines. Nell Gwynne entranced her audiences at the Duke's Theatre, Portugal Row; Betterton acted in "Hamlet" (this in 1662), bringing fame and fortune to the company; Opie (1791) painted portraits in one of the great houses on the south side not far from the theatre, the carriages of his patrons, so great was his popularity, blocking up the street; Congreve's "Love for Love" (1695) was played for the first time with Mrs. Bracegirdle as Angelica, and thirty years later, "The Beggar's Opera," with Lavinia Fenton so bewitching as Polly Peacham that she carried by storm the heart of the Duke of Bolton and became his Duchess; an outcome, the scribe remarks, by no means unusual in our day. And in this same theatre Pepys was so