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EDITED WITH NOTES BY ARNOLD
WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY AUSTIN DOBSON
PUBLISHED IN LONDON & TORONTO BY
J. M. DENT AND SONS LIMITED
AND IN NEW YORK BY E. P. DUTTON & CO.
This book is a reprint of the edition published in 1901
PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN
HAT Dr. Johnson frequently began his sentences with "Sir" is a statement to be safely hazarded. But that he said-" Sir, let us take a walk down Fleet Street," is, it seems, a mere invention, unvouched for by Boswell.1 And yet, though uncanonical, it is not of necessity apocryphal. The Doctor, in all probability, did utter something of the sort, although his "faithful chronicler " has omitted to record it. For Fleet Street-that chronicler assures us-was his "favourite street," and there is abundant evidence that he would have preferred it even to the Vale of Tempé. If, by chance, his now-unsubstantial shade should
Touching impalpable posts with an imperceptible finger"
it must assuredly be between Temple Bar and Ludgate Hill,Ludgate Hill, which, in his day, showed no obstructing viaduct to bar the prospect of St. Paul's. How that ghost must marvel at the
1 In Sala's Journal for 2nd July, 1892, the late Mr. G. A. Sala confessed that he had concocted this characteristic and highly-popular proposal as a motto for the magazine called Temple Bar, which he founded in December, 1860. Temple Bar still flourishes, but the counterfeit quotation has long since disappeared from its cover. Johnson did, however, say to Mr. Hoole in 1783,-"Let you and I, Sir, go together, and eat a beef-steak in Grub-street,"-where, strangely enough, and despite the definition in the Dictionary, he had never been before.
almost daily vicissitudes of our vanishing London! Temple Bar itself, through which he was wont to pass with Goldsmith, has been translated to a park in Hertfordshire; and the famous clock of St. Dunstan's, audible of yore from his Gough Square garret, now strikes the half hours and quarters, without its group of admirers, in the garden of a suburban villa. No. 17, Gough Square, where he lived so long, still remains; but his Bolt Court house is gone, and huge buildings have effaced what was once "Dr. Johnson's Staircase " in Inner Temple Lane. The "Cheshire Cheese" Tavern, which, oddly enough, is never mentioned by his biographer, continues to preserve his memory and his wonted seat; but the "Cock has changed sides, and the "Devil" is no more. St. Bride's Church, where his friend Richardson lies buried, is much the same as ever; but one if not both of Richardson's houses in Salisbury Square have of bricks and mortar. gone the way These are only a few of the changes that have come to pass, and it may open a neglected page in a well-worn volume if, in this prefatory paper, an attempt is made to recall some of Johnson's London haunts and habitations, before they and their memories are "blotted from the things that be."
In such a survey, the places where he actually lived naturally claim our first attention; and of these, fortunately, he gave a list to Boswell in his seventieth year, when he was already occupying his last residence, No. 8, Bolt Court. Before he came to London in March, 1737, with Garrick and the historical twopence-halfpenny, he had apparently never visited it since, as a child of two and a half, he had been brought from Lichfield to town by his mother to be touched for the evil by her Majesty Queen Anne. At this date, he says in his own "Account of his Life," he stayed with Nicholson, "the famous bookseller in Little Britain,”—in all likelihood his father's friend. It was probably to the same bookish neighbourhood (where Dorset years before had bought an unsaleable work called Paradise Lost) that he gravitated in 1737, since Wilcox, who bade him buy a porter's knot, was also at one time a Little Britain bookseller. But his first definitely recorded lodging was in Exeter Street, Strand, at the house of Mr. Norris, a staymaker. Here, upon the lines laid down by an Irish painter he had known in Birmingham, he practised the art of living in a garret at eighteenpence a week; and here, too, according