Page:Hopkinson Smith--In Dickens's London.djvu/78

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a lunch-counter, two bars with patent fixtures, three—Oh, there you are, John; now let's have the book. And there's a shilling for you, John, and another for the book; no, don't mention it; glad to give it to you. Now, let me see. Yes—yes, built long before the days of Queen Elizabeth, when it was a chop-house along with another known as Dolly's. Strype says (whoever he was) that: 'Near Ball Alley was the George Inn (not Sam Weller's inn), being a large open yard and called George Yard, at the farther end of which is the George and Vulture Tavern having a passage in St. Michael's Alley.'

"And now listen to this:

"'Here in 1652 was set up the first Coffee House in London, in St. Michael's Alley, Cornhill, first known as Pasqua Rosee Inn but before and long since as the George and Vulture.'

"Oh! It's some inn, I tell you, or was. Addison came here, and so did Swift and Defoe, who wrote 'Robinson Crusoe,' and Gray, who wrote the 'Elegy'; old Pepys, who wrote the 'Diary'; John Wilkes, Hogarth, and later on almost every man of prominence in his time who loved a good dinner. A great old inn in its day, and would be now if they'd get over the idea of making money and settle down to a quiet life with a mug and a rubber of whist and a long-stemmed pipe."

I nodded assent, thanked him for his running commentary, waited a moment in the hope that he would add the Pickwick Club to the list of its distinguished patrons and, finding that he was entirely engrossed in relighting his pipe, jogged his memory with the inquiry: