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Smyrna coffee house : London coffee houses and taverns
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THE SMYRNA COFFEE-HOUSE, Pall Mall.
In Pall Mall, was, in the reign of Queen Anne, famous for " that cluster of
wise-heads " found sitting every evening, from the left side of the fire to the
door. The following announcement in the Tatler, No. 78, is amusing:
" This is to give notice to all ingenious gentlemen in and about the cities of
London and Westminster, who have a mind to be instructed in the noble sciences
of music, poetry, and politics, that they repair to the Smyrna Coffee-house, in
Pall Mall, betwixt the hours of eight and ten at night, where they may be
instructed gratis, with elaborate essays by word of mouth/* on all or any of the
above-mentioned arts. The disciples are to prepare their bodies with three
dishes of bohea, and to purge their brains with two pinches of snuff. If any
young student gives indication of parts, by listening attentively, or asking a
pertinent question, one of the professors shall distinguish him, by taking snuff
out of his box in the presence of the whole audience.
" N.B. The seat of learning is now removed from the corner of the chimney on the
left hand towards the window, to the round table in the middle of the floor over
against the fire; a revolution much lamented by the porters and chairmen, who
were much edified through a pane of glass that remained broken all the last
Prior and Swift were much together at the Smyrna :
we read of their sitting there two hours, " receiving acquaintance ; " and one
entry of Swift's tells us that he walked a little in the Park till Prior made
him go with him to the Smyrna Coffee-house. It seemed to be the place to
talk politics ; but there is a more agreeable record of it in association with
our " Poet of the Year," thus given by Cunningham : " In the printed copy of
Thomson's proposals for publishing, by subscription, the Four Seasons, with a
Hymn on their succession, the following note is appended : — ' Subscriptions now
taken in by the author, at the Smyrna Coffee-house, Pall Mall"
"We find the Smyrna in a list of Coffee-Houses in 1810.
Also in 1805, when George Law runs the coffee house, and in 1822 although no
owner is mentioned.
Lots of references are made to two sources on the
Edward Callows, Old London Taverns &
John Timbs, Club life of London Volume 2
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