Interior of the Cheshire Cheese

Interior of the Cheshire Cheese by F. Hopkinson Smith. 1913. Photographic reproduction of charcoal on paper from In Thackeray's London, p. 159. Scanned image, formatting and text by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you credit and link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

OF COURSE he came here, tucked his knees under the sharp edges of the heavy oak tables, and ordered the dishes and brew he especially liked. This, and other like resorts, was his Bohemia, and Bohemia he loved.

"A pleasant land," he says in "Philip"—"not fenced with drab stucco like Tyburnia or Belgravia; not guarded by a huge standing army of footmen; not echoing with noble chariots; not replete with polite chintz drawing-rooms and neat tea-tables; a land over which hangs an endless fog, occasioned by much tobacco; a land of chambers, billiard- rooms, supper-rooms, oysters; a land of song; a land where soda-water flows freely in the morning; a land of tin dish-covers from taverns, and frothing porter; a land of lotus-eating (with lots of cayenne pepper), of pulls on the river, of delicious reading of novels, magazines, and saunterings in many studios; a land where men call each other by their Christian names; where most are old, where almost all are young, and where, if a few oldsters enter, it is because they have preserved more tenderly and carefully than others their youthful spirits, and the delightful capacity to be idle."

And the Cheshire Cheese, then as now, is pure Bohemia. If the dishes did not tempt him — particularly a famous pudding of lark and oysters, steak and kidney—its asso- ciations certainly would, for it was near here, so tradition goes, that Goldsmith for the first time received Johnson at supper, and it was from here later on. Goldsmith being pressed for his rent, that Dr. Johnson set poor Goldsmith free. [157-58]

References

Smith, F. Hopkinson. & In Thackeray's London. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1916.


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Last modified 9 July 2012