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but the honour to dip a finger and thumb into Mr. Dryden's snuff-box.—Ned Ward, The London Spy, part x.
It was in returning home from Will's that Dryden was set upon and beaten by the dastardly Lord Rochester's hired ruffians.
To Will's I went, where Beau and Wit
To make amends, there I saw Dryden.
Will's is the mother church : From thence their creed
Verses prefixed to “Sir Noisy Parrot,” 4to, 1693.
Had but the people, scar’d with danger, run
Blackmore, A Satire upon Wit, 1700. Blackmore has another gird at Will's in connection with his proposed Bank for Wit.
The Bank when thus establish'd will supply
Blackmore, ibid. Why should a poet fetter the business of his plot, and starve his action, for the nicety of an hour or the change of a scene; since the thought of man can fly over a thousand years with the same ease, and in the same instant of time, that your eye glances from the figure of six to seven on the dial-plate, and can glide from the Cape of Good Hope to the Bay of St. Nicholas, which is quite across the world, with the same quickness and activity, as between Covent Garden Church and Will's Coffeehouse ?—Farquhar, A Discourse upon Comedy, 1702.
Whate'er success this play from Will's may meet,
Prologue to Orrery's As You find It, 4to, 1703. I am sensible by experience, that there's a great deal of artifice and accomplishment required in a gentleman that will write for the Theatre ;-and 'tis a mighty presumption in any one to attempt it, who has not ingratiated himself among the Quality, or been conversant at Will's.—Walker's Preface to Marry or do Worse, 4to, 1704.
I think our business done and to some purpose, —to put one King out and another in within the year! I meant only to relieve the Duke of Savoy, and then-Will's Coffee House in Winter.—Earl of Peterborough, Valencia. July 2, 1706 (Mahon's War of the Succession, p. 198).
Now view the beaus at Will's, the men of wit,
Defoe's Reformation of Manners.
I was about seventeen when I first came up to town, an odd-looking boy, with short rough hair, and that sort of awkwardness which one always brings up at first out of the country. However, in spite of my bashfulness and appearance, I used now and then to thrust myself into Will's to have the pleasure of seeing the most celebrated wits of that time, who then resorted thither. The second time that ever I was there, Mr. Dryden was speaking of his own things, as he frequently did, especially of such as had been lately published. “If anything of mine is good," says he, “'tis Mac Flecknoe; and I value myself the more upon it, because it is the first piece of ridicule written in Heroics.” On hearing this, I plucked up my spirit so far as to say, in a voice but just loud enough to be heard, that “ Mac Flecknoe was a very fine poem ; but that I had not imagined it to be the first that ever was writ
On this, Dryden turned short upon me, as surprised at my interposing ; asked me how long I had been a dealer in poetry; and added, with a smile, “Pray, sir, what is it that you did imagine to have been writ so before?” I named Boileau's Lutrin, and Tassoni's Secchia Rapita, which I had read, and knew Dryden had borrowed some strokes from each. “ 'Tis true,” said Dryden, “I had forgot them." A little after Dryden went out, and in going spoke to me again, and desired me to come and see him next day. I was highly delighted with the invitation ; went to see him accordingly, and was well acquainted with him after, as long as he lived. — Dean Lockier (Spence, by Singer, p. 59).
I had the honour of bringing Mr. Pope from our retreat in the Forest of Windsor, to dress à la mode, and introduce at Will's Coffee House.—Sir Charles Wogan to Swift (Scott's Swift, vol. xviii. p. 21).
It was Dryden who made Will's Coffee-house the great resort of the wits of his time. After his death, Addison transferred it to Button's, who had been a servant of his; they were opposite each other, in Russell Street, Covent Garden.—Pope (Spence, by Singer), p. 263.
Addison passed each day alike, and much in the manner that Dryden did. Dryden employed his mornings in writing, dined en famille, and then went to Will's : only he came home earlier a' nights.- Pope (Spence, by Singer), p. 286.
Let us see if we can find anything in his rhymes, which may direct us to his Coffee House or to his Bookseller's. By his taking three opportunities to commend Mr. Dryden in so small a compass, I fancy we may hear of him at Shakspeare's Head [Tonson's), or at Will's. — Dennis, Reflections on Pope's Essay on Criticism, 1712, p. 27.
The translator [Pope] seems to think a good genius and a good ear to be the same thing. Dryden himself was more sensible of the difference between them, and when it was in debate at Will's Coffee House what character he would have with posterity; he said, with a sullen modesty, I believe they will allow me to be a good versifier.-Oldmixon, An Essay on Criticism, 8vo, 1728, p. 24.
I find, that upon his (Pope's] first coming to Town, out of pure Compassion for his exotick Figuor, narrow circumstances, and humble appearance, the late Mr. Wycherley admitted him into his society, and suffered him, notwithstanding his make, to be his humble admirer at Will's.-Pope, Alexander's Supremacy and Infallibility Examined, 4to, 1729, p. 13.
When I was a young fellow, I wanted to write the Life of Dryden; and in order to get materials, I applied to the only two persons then alive who had seen him ; these were old Swinney and old Cibber. Swinney's information was no more than this, “ That at Will's Coffee House Dryden had a particular chair for himself, which was set by the fire in winter, and was then called his winter-chair ; and that it was carried out for him to the balcony in summer, and was then called his summer-chair." Cibber could tell no more but “that he remembered him a decent old man, arbiter of critical disputes at Will's.”—Dr. Johnson, in Boswell, ed. Croker, vol. iii. p. 435.
When Steele started the Taller, 1709, he announced that
All accounts of gallantry, pleasure, and entertainment shall be under the article of White's Chocolate House ; poetry under that of Will's Coffee House ; learning under the title of Grecian ; foreign and domestic news you will have from St. James's Coffee House. And goes on with a statement which may be taken to indicate the comparative expenses of the four establishments.—"I cannot keep the ingenious man to go daily to Will's, under two-pence each day merely for his charges; to White's, under sixpence ; nor to the Grecian, without some plain Spanish, to be as able as others at the learned table; and that a good observer cannot speak with even kidney at St. James's without clean linen.— The Tatler, No. 1 (1709).
This place (Will's) is very much altered since Mr. Dryden frequented it; where you used to see songs, epigrams, and satires in the hands of every man you met, you have now only a pack of cards; and instead of the cavils about the turn of the expression, the elegance of the style, and the like, the learned now dispute only about the truth of the game.—The Tatler, No. 1, April 8, 1709.
Rail on, ye triflers, who to Will's repair,
E. Smith, On John Phillips's Death.
Swift, On Poetry; a Rhapsody. After the Play, the best company go to Tom's and Will's Coffee House near adjoining, where there is playing at Picket, and the best of conversation till midnight. Here you will see blue and green ribbons and stars sitting familiarly, and talking with the same freedom as if they had left their quality and egrees of distance at home.-Macky, A Journey through England, 8vo, 1722, p. 172.
There is no place of general resort wherein I do not often make my appearance ; sometimes I am seen thrusting my head into a round of Politicians at Will's, and listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. — The Spectator, No. 1.
Would it not employ a Beau prettily enough, if, instead of playing eternally with a snuff box, he spent some part of his time in making one? Such a method as this would very much conduce to the public emolument, by making every man living good for something; for there would then be no one member of human society but would have some little pretension for some degree in it; like him who came to Will's Coffee House upon the merit of having writ a Posie of a ring.—The Spectator,
Robin the porter, who waits at Will's Coffee House, is the best man in town for carrying a billet ; the fellow has a thin body, swift step, demure looks, sufficient sense, and knows the town. — The Spectator, No. 398.
Before five in the afternoon I left the City, and came to my common scene of Covent Garden, and passed the evening at Will's in attending the discourses of several sets of people who relieved each other within my hearing on the subjects of cards, dice, love, learning, and politics. The last subject kept me till I heard the streets in the possession of the bell-man, who had now the world to himself, and cried past two o'clock.— The Spectator, No. 454, August 11, 1712. Truewit
. Just as it was I find when I us'd Will's; but pray, Sir, does that ancient rendezvous of the Beaux Esprits hold its ground? And do men now, as formerly, become Wits by sipping coffee and tea with Wycherley and the reigning poets?
Freeman. No, no; there have been great revolutions in this state of affairs since you left us : Button's is now the established Wit's Coffee-house, and all the young scribblers of the times pay their attendance nightly there to keep up their pretensions to sense and understanding.–Gildon, A New Rehearsal, 12mo, 1714.
Why, Faith (answered I), the Controversy (about Pope's Homer) as yet remains undecided : Will's Coffee House gives it to the four Books, Button's to the one.
But leaving the division of the merits of the cause to those two sovereign tribunals of Will's and Button's. —Gildon, Art of Poetry, 1718.
William Street, LowNDES SQUARE. Lady Morgan, the authoress of the Wild Irish Girl, went to reside at No. 11 in 1838, and died there, April 16, 1859. She was buried in the Brompton Cemetery.
Williams's (Dr.) Library, No. 16 GRAFTON STREET (Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street), of about 25,000 volumes, and exceedingly rich in old and especially Puritan and patristic theology, was founded by the Rev. Daniel Williams, D.D., an eminent Protestant dissenting minister of the Presbyterian denomination. Dr. Williams was born at Wrexham, in Denbighshire, 1664, and died in London, January 24, 1716. Dr. Williams possessed considerable property, and, leaving his widow a life interest therein, bequeathed the bulk of it after her death to various religious and educational uses. The bequest which founded the Williams's Library was intended to carry out a longcherished purpose of the founder to establish a library which might be available for general use, but be particularly for the service of the London ministers. He had himself formed a good collection of books, and he added to it, by purchases, the library of Dr. Bates. He directed the trustees to erect a suitable building, for which they purchased a site in Redcross Street, and there opened the library in 1724. In 1864 the library was removed to a temporary home in Queen's Square, Bloomsbury, until the building in Grafton Street was ready, and the old house was pulled down. There is a good printed catalogue, in three volumes. Admission is readily granted to suitable persons, though nominally a trustee's nomination is required. The library is open from Monday till Friday (both inclusive) throughout the year, except during the month of August and the Christmas and Whitsun weeks. Among its treasures the library possesses a fine copy of the first folio edition of Shakespeare; an original portrait of Richard Baxter; and the "glass basin which held the water wherewith Queen Elizabeth was baptized.”
Willis's Rooms, No. 26 KING STREET, ST. JAMES; a suite of assembly rooms, built 1765-1771 (Robert Mylne, architect) for Almack's balls. (See Almack's Rooms. Since the dissolution of the Almack's committee in 1863, the rooms have been known exclusively as "Willis's," but that name (from the proprietor who succeeded Almack) was used, at least occasionally, as early as 1790.1 Willis's Rooms were long celebrated for high-class dinners, meetings, concerts, and balls. Here the meetings of the Society of Dilettanti were held, and the famous portraits of the original members were hung. (See Dilettanti Society.] The establishment, however, ceased to supply dinners in 1889, and the dining clubs which met here have now removed. It is said that the place has been leased (1890) to a German syndicate, who intend to establish a system of German health baths of every description.
I See Trusler's London Adviser and Guide, samo, 1790, p. 174.
Willow Walk, now Willow STREET, PIMLICO, mentioned for the first time in the rate-books of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, under the year 1723, was, till 1829-1839, a low-lying footpath west of Tothill Fields, with long cuts or reservoirs on either side, belonging to the Chelsea Waterworks Company. The cuts were drained in 1829-1831, and the ground raised for the present terraces and squares by the soil excavated from St. Katherine's Docks. A lonely cottage in the Willow Walk, long the haunt of Jerry Abershaw, the notorious highwayman, and his associates, was standing as late as 1836.
Wilton Crescent, BELGRAVE SQUARE. No. 24 was the residence of Henry Hallam, the historian, died January 1859.
Wilton Place, north of Wilton Crescent, KNIGHTSBRIDGE. The church, dedicated to St. Paul, has acquired a prominent place in ritualistic annals.
Wimbledon House, STRAND, a mansion erected on a part of the Exeter House property by Sir Edward Cecil (d. 1638), first and last Baron Putney and Viscount Wimbledon, a grandson of the great Lord Burghley. It stood at the east corner of Wellington Street North, and while still quite new was burned to the ground in November 1628, a portion of the same viscount's house at Wimbledon having been destroyed by gunpowder on the previous day. In 1720 Strype describes it as “a very handsome house." It is said 1 to have been built from a design by Inigo Jones, and, with its covered up-and-down entrance projecting into the carriage way, makes a prominent feature in old pictures of the Strand. It was pulled down about 1782.
Wimpole Street, CAVENDISH SQUARE, so called from Wimpole, in Cambridgeshire, sold by the second Earl of Oxford to Lord Chancellor Hardwicke. In' No. 12 lived Admiral Lord Hood; in 1809 he was living in No. 37. In No. 67 Henry Hallam wrote his History of the Middle Ages, and his Constitutional History of England. In No. 65 lived, in 1792, Sir Elijah Impey. Here (then the house of his brother-in-law, Sir Benjamin Hall) was the first London residence of Baron Bunsen. Early in 1759 Edmund Burke was resident in Wimpole Street, "the chief expenses of housekeeping being sustained by Dr. Nugent." 2
William Wilkie Collins, the novelist, died at his house, No. 82, on September 23, 1889.
Winchester House, AUSTIN FRIARS, more generally called Pawlet or Powlet House, after William Paulet, first Marquis of Winchester, Lord High Treasurer of England in the reigns of Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, on the site of the house, cloister and gardens of the Augustine Friars. (See Austin Friars.] When the marquis was asked
i Sec Wine and Walnuts, vol. i. p. 149; Notes and Queries, ad S., vol. ii. p. 476.
? Prior's Life of Burke, p. 56, and see Forster's Goldsmith, vol. i. p. 294.