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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

And dragon or right Jamree canes


waiter, Mr. Kidney, "who has

long conversed with and filled tea for the most consummate politicians." It was the head-quarters of Whigs and officers of the Guards; letters from Stella were left here for Swift, and here in later years originated Goldsmith's "Retaliation." Will's, at the north corner of Russell Street and Bow Street, famous for its memories of Dryden and for the _Tatler's_ dramatic criticisms, had ceased to exist in 1714. Its place was taken by Button's, at the other side of Russell Street, started by Addison in 1712. Here, later, was the lion-head letter-box for the _Guardian_, designed by Hogarth. At Child's, in St. Paul's Church-yard, the _Spectator_ often smoked a pipe. Sir Roger de Coverley was beloved at Squire's, near Gray's Inn Gate. Slaughter's, in St. Martin's Lane, was often honored by the presence first of Dryden, and then of Pope. Serle's, near Lincoln's Inn, was cherished by the law. At the "Grecian," in Devereux Court, Strand, learned men met and {76} quarrelled; a fatal duel was once fought in consequence of an argument there over the accent on a Greek word. At the "Grecian," too, Steele amused himself by putting the action of Homer's "Iliad" into an exact journal and planning his "Temple of Fame." From White's chocolate-house, which afterwards became the famous club, came Mr. Isaac Bickerstaff's "Accounts of Gallantry, Pleasure, and Entertainment." The "Cocoa Tree" was the Tory coffee-house, in St. James's Street. Ozinda's chocolate-house, next to St. James's Palace,
was also a Tory resort, and its owner was arrested in 1715 for supposed complicity in Jacobite conspiracy.

[Sidenote: 1714--Humors of the time]

To these coffee and chocolate houses came all the wit and all the fashion of London. Men of letters and statesmen, men of the robe and men of the sword, lawyers, dandies, poets, and philosophers, met there to discuss politics, literature, scandal, and the play. There were often very strange figures among the motley crowd behind the red-curtained windows of a St. James's coffee-house. The gentleman who made himself so agreeable to the bar-maid or who chatted so affably about the conduct of the allies or the latest news from Sweden, might meet you again later on if your road lay at all outside town, and imperiously request you to stand and deliver. But of all the varied assembly the strangest figures must have been the beaux and exquisites, in all their various degrees of "dappers," "fops," "smart fellows," "pretty fellows," and "very pretty fellows." They made a brave show in many-colored splendor of attire, heavily scented with orange-flower water, civet-violet, or musk, with large falbala periwigs, or long, powdered duvilliers, with snuff-boxes and perspective glasses perpetually in their hands, and dragon or right Jamree canes, curiously clouded and amber headed, dangling by a blue ribbon from the wrist or the coat-button. The staff was as essential to an early Georgian gentleman as to an Athenian of the age of Pericles, and the cane-carrying custom incurred the frequent attacks of the satirists. Cane-bearers are made to declare {77} that the knocking of the cane upon the shoe, leaning one leg upon it, or whistling with it in the mouth, were such reliefs to them in conversation that they did not know how to be good company without it. Some of these young men appear to have affected effeminacy, like an Agathon or a Henri Trois. Steele has put it on record that he heard some, who set up to be pretty fellows, calling to one another at White's or the St. James's by the names of "Betty," "Nelly," and so forth.


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