London In 1731, By Don Manoel Gonzales

 -   It was in Russell Street, Covent
Garden, and Addison brought the wits to it by using it himself.
Don Manoel - Page 3
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It Was In Russell Street, Covent Garden, And Addison Brought The Wits To It By Using It Himself. "Don Manoel

Gonzales" describes very clearly in the latter part of this account of London, the manner of using taverns and coffee-

Houses by the Londoners of his days, and other ways of life with high and low. It is noticeable, however, that his glance does not include the ways of men of letters. His four orders of society are, the noblemen and gentlemen, whose wives breakfast at twelve; the merchants and richer tradesmen; after whom he places the lawyers and doctors; whose professional class is followed by that of the small tradesmen, costermongers, and other people of the lower orders. This, and the clearness of detail upon London commerce, may strengthen the general impression that the description comes rather from a shrewd, clear-headed, and successful merchant than from a man of letters.

The London described is that of Addison who died in 1719, of Steele who died in 1729, of Pope who died in 1744. It is the London into which Samuel Johnson came in 1738, at the age of twenty-nine - seven years before the manuscript of "Manoel de Gonzales" appeared in print. "How different a place," said Johnson, "London is to different people; but the intellectual man is struck with it as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible." Its hard features were shown in the poem entitled London - an imitation of the third satire of Juvenal - with which Johnson began his career in the great city, pressed by poverty, but not to be subdued:-

"By numbers here from shame or censure free, All crimes are safe but hated poverty. This, only this, the rigid law pursues, This, only this, provokes the snarling Muse. The sober trader, at a tattered cloak, Wakes from his dream and labours for a joke; With brisker air the silken courtiers gaze, And turn the varied taunt a thousand ways. Of all the griefs that harass the distressed, Sure the most bitter is a scornful jest; Fate never wounds more deep the generous heart Than when a blockhead's insult points the dart."

When Don Manoel's account of London was written the fashionable world was only beginning to migrate from Covent Garden - once a garden belonging to the Convent of Westminster, and the first London square inhabited by persons of rank and fashion - to Grosvenor Square, of which Don Manoel describes the new glories.

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