The Enduring Beauty of the Public House

'We dined at an excellent inn at Chapel House, where Johnson expatiated on the felicity of England in its taverns 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.
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 sir, there is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.'

[Boswell, recording the words of Dr Johnson, in about 1775]


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