Open main menu

Page:Footsteps of Dr. Johnson.djvu/80

This page needs to be proofread.


says, "vile entertainment is served up, complained of, and sent down ; up comes worse, and that also is changed, and every change makes our wretched cheer more unsavoury." ' The scantiness of his purse, however, would have made him resort to the humblest houses, and probably his experience did not extend much outside of Edinburgh. Of the inns of that city, no one, whether native or stranger, had a good word to say. The accommodation that was provided, writes the historian of Edinburgh, "was little better than that of a waggoner or a carrier." !i " The inns are mean buildings," he continues, " their apartments dirty and dismal ; and if the waiters happen to be out of the way, a stranger will perhaps be shocked with the novelty of being shown into a room by a dirty sun-burnt wench without shoes or stockings. If he should desire furnished lodgings, he is probably conducted to the third or fourth floor, up dark and dirty stairs, and there shown into apartments meanly fitted up. The taverns in general are dirty and dismal as the inns ; an idle profusion of victuals, collected without taste, and dressed without skill or cleanliness, is commonly served up. There are, however, exceptions, and a Scots tavern, if a good one, is the best of all taverns." : Smollett, willing as he was to see the good side of everything in Scotland, yet represents the inn in Edinburgh at which Matthew Bramble alighted as being " so filthy and so dis- Perhaps it was the same house which is described by Topham in the following lively passage in his Letters :

"Nov. 15, 1774. There is no inn that is better than an alehouse, nor any accommodation that is decent or cleanly. On my first arrival my companion and myself, after the fatigue of a long day's journey, were landed at one of these stable- keepers (for they have modesty enough to give themselves no higher denomination) in a part of the town called the Pleasance. 6 We were conducted by a poor devil of a girl, without shoes or stockings, and only a single linsey-wolsey petticoat, which just reached half-way to her ankles, into a room where about twenty Scotch drovers had been regaling themselves with whiskey and potatoes. You may guess our amazement when we were informed that this was the best inn in the metropolis, that we could have no beds, unless we had an inclination to sleep together, and in the same room with the company which a stage-coach had that moment dis- charged."

In the Edinb^^rgk Directory for 1773-4, among the different

1 Present State of Polite Learning, ch. xii. * Letters from Edinburgh, p. 1 8.

a Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 658. "The Pleasance consists of one mean street;

J Ib. pp. 352-4. through it lies the principal road to London. "-

1 Humphry Clinker, ii. 214. Arnot's History of Edinburgh, p. 328.


�� �