Tuesday, January 17, 2017
THE INNS OF OLD SOUTHWARK
"Palmer," quoth he, "death is an equal doom
To good and bad, the common inn of rest ;'"
from Dryden, who seems to paraphrase Spenser —
'Like pilgrims to the appointed place we tend ;
The world's an inn, and death the journey's end.'
Archbishop Leighton takes this view with much
serenity, as we all may ; his expression is, ' Were I
to choose a place to die in, it should be an inn. It
looks like a pilgrim going home, to whom the world
was all an inn, who was weary of the noise and
confusion of it' He had his desire, ending his days
at an inn. Quarles, in the Divine Fancies} tells us
' Our life is nothing but a winter's day,
Some only break their fast, and so away ;
Others stay dinner and depart full fed ;
The deepest age but sups and goes to bed ;
He's most in debt who lingers out the day, —
Who dies betimes, has less and less to pay.'
This implies that, as to the world, we are well rid of it
a bad world, a bad world, my masters. But our old
Methodist Atherton in my hearing gave us, from his
pulpit in Southwark, the truth as to this. 'A bad
world ! not so, a good, a very good world, I say. The
world is good, but the rascals who live in it are bad ; not
the world, not the world !'
We need not, however, trouble ourselves with this
phase of divinest melancholy ; we shall see the inn as a
place of busy resort, its guests thinking much of living,
of social enjoyment and business, and very little indeed
1 Edition 1678, p. 121.
of dying. We pass sentiment and come as nearly as we
can to daily life in these houses of entertainment, with
special reference to Southwark, or, as it is often called,
the Borough, so peculiarly the place of old English inns.
Harrison,^ in 1577, might be thinking of Southwark
when he says, ' Those towns that we call thoroughfares
have great and sumptuous inns for such travellers and
strangers as pass to and fro ;' and then he tells us about
them. 'The manner of harbouring^ is not,' he says,
' like to that of some other countries, in which the host
or goodman dooth chalenge a lordlie authoritie ouer his
ghests. . . . Here in England everie man may use his inne
as his owne house, and have for his monie how great or
little variety of victuals, and what other seruice himself
shall thinke expedient to call for. . . .
Posted by Phanero Noemikon at 2:18 AM