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“‘No, no,' quoth I, ‘I am no knave,
"From place to place, in hope that some
"Now, when my hostess heard me tell
"She did conjure me to depart;
"So out of doors I went with speed,
Poor Robin is alike repulsed by the jailer of the King's Bench, and the harlots of Blackman Street. The "rooking rascals in St. George's Field," who "all the year build their hopes on cheating," and were "close playing at nine pins," rebuffed his advances with similar scorn-he proceeds:
“ A wind-mill standing there hard by,
With due toll;
Thou true soul."" Having been thus altogether expelled from the city and its neighbourhood, Robin proceeded into the country, yet without finding a resting place, till heaven directed him to a spot, “where poor folks wrought most sorely ;” and being there “well entertained,” he fixed his abode with them.—The poem concludes with the following stanza
“ And so I'll bring all to an end :-
EASTCHEAP, AND THE BOAR'S HEAD TAVERN.
EASTCHEAP, the ancient abode of mine hostess, Dame Quickly, the region of wit, wine, and wassail,
the resort of the madcap Prince of Wales, and his boon companions old Jack Falstaff, Poins, Pistol, Bardolph, Peto, Gadshill, and Nym, was famous for its convivial junketting long before it became customary to frequent taverns, or banquet in ale-houses. Stow, referring to Lydgate's "London-licke Penny," a satirical song of Henry the Fifth's time, tells us that in Eastcheap, "the Cookes cried hot ribbes of beefe rosted, pies well baked, and other victuals: there was clattering of pewter pots, harpe, pipe, and sawtrie, yea by cocke, nay by cocke, for greater oathes were spared, &c.," and on his own knowledge he reports, that though "now a flesh market of butchers there dwelling, it had sometime also cooks mixed amongst the butchers, and such other as sold victuals ready dressed of all sorts. For of old time when friends did meet, and were disposed to be merry, they went not to dine and suppe in taverns, but to the Cookes where they called for meate what them liked, which they alwaies found ready dressed, and at a reasonable rate." But alas ! how grievously is the scene changed since the uproarious days of Falstaff and honest Stow. "The madcap Royster," as that most spirited sketcher of departed and departing customs, Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.,'t hath delineated with a pencil tinged by regret, "has given place to the plodding tradesman; the clattering of pots, and the sound of harpe and sawtrie,' to the din of carts, and the accursed dinging of the dustman's bell; and no song is heard, save, haply,
* "Survey of London," edit. 1618. p. 404. "Sketches," &c.
the strain of some syren from Billingsgate, chanting the eulogy of deceased mackarel."
The BOAR'S HEAD TAVERN, the memory of which the pages of the immortal Shakspeare has consigned to a duration as lasting as his own, was doubtless the immediate offspring of one of the banquetting houses of which Stow has spoken; for what better sign than the Boar's Head could have been adopted for a cook'sshop? But instead of ribs of roast beef, the viands were probably of a different kind, namely, roast pork and brawn! Be that as it may, we all know that the Boar's Head, in Eastcheap, was the accustomed sojourn of Falstaff, and the scene of his joyous revelry when associated in bands of convivial fellowship with that 66 sworn brother to a leash of drawers," the Corinthian Prince of Wales. And let no snarling Zoilus presume to dispute the point, under pain of being adjudged to sift the corn and have the chaff for his pains, by affirming that the aforesaid Boar's Head was a mere invention of the poet, a castle in the air! For is not the very sign itself, sculptured in stone, still remaining fixed up in front of the dwellings that have taken place of the original tavern, which was destroyed during the fearful conflagration of London, in the year 1666? It is true that the Boar's Head just mentioned bears the date of 1668, but that only referred to the time of rebuilding the premises, which continued to be occupied as a tavern till the early part of the reign of George the Third. Maitland, whose history was first published in 1739, informs us that the words "This is the chief Tavern in London," were written under the sign; but
its trade was even then declining, if we may credit that delightful essayist Goldsmith, who, in his pleasant “ Reverie at the Boar's Head Tavern, in Eastcheap,” amidst much fanciful speculation has inserted some particulars of the real history of this far-famed house of entertainment.-But let us go back a little.
The earliest notice of this place occurs in the testament of William Warden, who in the reign of Richard the Second, gave “ all that his tenement, called the Boar's Head, Eastcheap, to a College of Priests or chaplains, founded by Sir William Walworth, Lord Mayor, in the adjoining church of St. Michael, Crooked Lane. Whether at that time it was a tavern, or a cook's residence, does not appear; but very early in the next reign, if any confidence can be reposed in the locality of Shakspeare's scenes, it became the resort of old Jack Falstaff and Prince Hal ; but subsequently it was converted into a residence for the priests, to whose college it had been devised.
Goldsmith, in his “ Reverie" forgetting the destruction of the former building in the Great Fire, speaks of the tavern existing in his time, as the identical place which Falstaff frequented. “Here,” says the essayist, " by a pleasant fire, in the very room where old Sir John Falstaff cracked his jokes, in the very chair which was sometimes honoured by Prince Henry, and sometimes polluted by his immortal merry companions, I sat and ruminated, and now and then compared past and present times together. The room also conspired to throw my reflections back into antiquity: the oak floor, the Gothic windows, and the ponderous chimney