« PreviousContinue »
door, without calling to the coachman, and leaped out into the highway, forgetting to take his hat along with him ; which, however, Mr. Pounce threw after him with great violence.
Verses written at an Jun at Bruley.
"SHALL I not take," said Falstaff, with an exquisite duplication of the personal pronoun,"mine EASE at mine INN ?"
The question might induce us to fancy, that he had another abode; that it was as much as to say, “Must I go and encounter my difficulty at my lodgings ?" But he meant it as an appeal to the expectations of everybody. Everybody, the moment he entered an inn, looked to being thoroughly at his ease; to possess comfort and security as surely as he did the things he paid for.
And this is the feeling we all have of an inn. It is not comparable with home, on the very gravest or the very gayest occasions ; much less as a place to reside in; but as a place to visit, there is nothing like it. It is like being abroad and at home at the same time; abroad, in respect to the novelty; and at home, as regards doing what we please. We are not sufficiently used to it, to feel a thankless indifference; neither do we entertain such affection for it, as converts interest into anxiety.-But we do it injustice in writing sentences about it. There is nothing sententious at an inn (except on the window-panes); it is only free and easy. If you are wise, it is with mirth: if you run the whole round of philosophy with some "learned Theban” of a friend, it is after dinner, when the blood is running the finer round of cheerfulness, to which you feel that the other round is only subordinate. The top things ughout are the dinner, and the inn, and the reciprocity; and you only wish that all the world were as happy as yourselves, wondering that they are not so, and that eyerybody does not do as he pleases upon the strength of the “Rose and Crown” and universal benevolence.
By an inn, however, we do not mean any inn; no, not even with companions who can make us forget everything else; for on their account also we desire an inn perfect of its kind; and this, we take it, is an old inn that has been a country-house, with at least a bit of the old garden to it, parterres of flowers, lavender, &c., and good sized oldfashioned rooms, with smaller ones in corners, to choose according as you are few or many, or wish to be roomy or snug. Hazlitt, who loved to escape from his irritabilities into an inn, has noticed such a one in a charming passage. He is speaking of the delight of reading favorite authors.
“The last time,” he says, “I tasted this luxury in its full perfection, was one day after a sultry day's walk between Farnham and Alton. I was fairly tired out; I walked into an inn-yard (I think at the latter place); I was shown by the waiter to what looked at first like common out-houses at the other end of it, but they turned out to be a suite of rooms, probably a hundred years old-the one I entered opened into an old-fashioned garden, embellished with beds of larkspur and a leaden Mercury; it was wainscoted, and there was a gravelooking dark-colored portrait of Charles II. hanging up over the tiled chimney-piece. I had Love for Love in my pocket, and began to read; coffee was brought in, in a silver coffee-pot; the cream, the bread and butter, everything was excellent, and the flavor of Congreve's style prevailed over all. I prolonged the entertainment till a late hour, and relished this divine comedy better even than when I used to see it played by Miss Mellon, as Miss Prue ; Bob Palmer, as Tattle ; and Bannister as honest Ben. This circumstance happened just five years ago, and it seems like yesterday. If I count my life so, by lustres, it will soon glide away; yet I shall not have to repine, if, while it lasts, it is enriched by a few such recollections."*
The Henley at which Shenstone wrote his lines on an inn was the Henley on the road to Stratford-on-Avon. Johnson slept at it one night with Boswell, and had quoted a stanza from the lines in the course of the day, when they were dining at an “excellent inn at Chapelhouse."
“We dined,” Boswell says, “at an excellent inn Chapelhouse, where he (Johnson) expatiated on the felicity of England in its taverns
* Plain Speaker, vol. i. 302.
and inns, and triumphed over the French for not having, in any perfection, the tavern life. "There is no private house,' said he,' in which people can enjoy themselves so well, as at a capital tavern. Let there be ever so great plenty of good things, ever so much grandeur, ever so much elegance, ever so much desire that everybody should be easy, in the nature of things it cannot be; there must always be some degree of care and anxiety. The master of the house is anxious to entertain his guests; the guests are anxious to be agreeable to him; and no man, but a very impudent dog indeed, can as freely command what is in another man's house, as if it were his own. Whereas, at a tavern, there is a general freedom from anxiety. You are sure you are welcome; and the more noise you make, the more trouble you give, the more good things you call for, the welcomer you are. No servants will attend you with the alacrity which waiters do, who are incited by the prospect of an immediate reward in proportion as they please. No, sir; there is nothing which has yet been contrived by men, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.' He then repeated with great emotion Shenstone's lines :
66. Whoe'er has travellid life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
His warmest welcome at an inn.'»*
To thee, fair Freedom ! I retire,
From flattery, cards, and dice, and din;
Than the low cot or humble Inn.
'Tis here with boundless power I reign; And every health which I begin
* Boswell, Murray's Edition, vol. vi. p. 81.
Converts dull port to bright champagne ;
Such freedom crowns it at an Inn.
I fly from pomp, I fly from plate !
I fly from Falsehood's specious grin! Freedom I love and form I hate,
And choose my lodgings at an Inn.
Here, waiter, take my sordid ore,
Which lackeys else might hope to win ; It buys what courts have not in store,
It buys me freedom at an Inn.
Whoe'er has travelled life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been, May sigh to think he still has found
The warmest welcome at an Inn.