« PreviousContinue »
tobacco in any wine or common victual house, except in a private room there, so as the master of said house nor any guest there shall take offense thereat; which, if any do, then such person shall forbear upon pain of two shillings sixpence for every such offense.” Nevertheless the men of New England continued to smoke with ever increasing vigor, and in the course of about a hundred and sixty years the legal warfare against tobacco was abandoned in the North.
All early American inns for the accommodation of wayfarers were copied, in their usages and character, from the English institution of like nature, and, as in the parent country, they gradually became the chief centers of the life and news of the communities in which they were situated. They were also the most prominent landmarks of any journey, and it thus became the universal custom for travellers and business men to compute all distances from them, instead of from one town to another. In those days of few newspapers and fewer mails the arrival at a tavern of two or three strangers from some distant city was an event of real importance to the inhabitants. No sooner did the news of their presence get abroad than many of the principal men of the place gathered at the hostelry to welcome the pilgrims, ask questions of them, and listen to the tales they had brought from the outside world. Chiefly in that way did the doings of other regions sift through many parts of the country. From those gatherings at the taverns grew local clubs and societies that often took organized action in relation to business affairs, and eventually became the first
1 Drake says that on one occasion, late in the eighteenth century, two travelling Dutch men from New York who were walking about Boston in search for lodgirgs word red into Harvard College by mistake. On getting inside the found the tobacco smoke so thick that one of them said, “This is certain a tavern." "Old Boston Taverns," p. 15.
A NEW HAMPSHINE TAVERN.
A gentleman was in New-llampshire riding,
This done, the trav'ler to the house returned,
Well then New England. - All our rum is gone.!
Reep,' says the woman, feeling anger's spar
57.-A poem written by a traveller describing accommodations found by him at a New Hampshire inn of less excellence. Published by A. Allen,
of Hartford, in his "New England Almanack for 1821.”
merchants' exchanges and chambers of commerce in America. Many of the early merchants' exchanges, in fact, held their regular meetings in taverns, and in some instances the courts and legislatures did likewise. Whenever a mass meeting was to be held the public was directed to assemble in front of, or within, some prominent hostelry. Legal notices and governmental proclamations were fastened to the fronts of inns, and political caucuses assembled in those establishments, where the leaders of public opinion always took up their headquarters during a time of unrest. Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in a tavernand discussed it there with his fellow revolutionists.
The main feature of any early tavern was a large public assembly room containing chairs and tables and with an immense open fireplace on one side. Opening from this apartment was the dining-room, and beyond it, the kitchen. The guest rooms were usually above. The stock of liquors was kept in barrels, jugs and bottles in the public room, behind a partition or counter. For nearly a century and a half the tavern stables contained no provision for the accommodation of vehicles. Only travellers on horseback or on foot were expected, and many of these carried their own blankets on their backs. When a wayfarer came to an inn and found the beds all in use his serenity of mind was quite undisturbed. The landlord considered it to be his duty to give shelter to all who opened his door, and did so. After the normal capacity of the tavern was exhausted any additional arrivals were informed of the fact and knew what to do without further comment. At bed time they simply spread their blankets on the floor of the public room, lay down with their feet toward the fire and rolled themselves up like a row of human cocoons. Often the assembly room was so crowded with the forms of weary men that a very late comer had to explore by candle-light and careful steps in order to find space for himself. In the morning the guests unrolled, and arose full clad for another day upon the road. They made their ablutions, amid fearful splutterings, at the watering trough or a wooden tub outside, and passed the towel around with courtesy.
1 During the political agitation that preceded the Revolution the "Green Dragon," in Boston, was the headquarters of the Whig, or American party. There Hancock, the Adamses, Warren, Revere, Putnam and others gathered to discuss the troubles of the colonies.
In the “Bunch of Grapes,” another Boston inn, the Ohio Company was organized by Rufus Putnam and his friends, and in that way the tavern played a part in the movement toward the West that eventually led to the permanent settlement of Ohio.
Franklin and his cronies gathered nightly in the "Indian King” tavern of Philadel. phia, to discuss public affairs. 'The "Indian Queen," in Philadelphia, where he was lodging at the time.
Then came the breakfast ceremonial. The host marched to the front door, lifted a cow's horn to his lips and sent forth the resounding blast that summoned all hands to the table. Some landlords preferred a big bell rather than a horn, and filled the air with a clangor heard for a mile around. A meal at one of the early taverns was nearly always a bountiful repast, and usually ended, whether at breakfast, dinner or supper, with two or more kinds of pie. Everything was put on the big table at once, and everybody ate until he reluctantly made up his mind to stop. In those days a meal meant all a man wanted to eat. The price remained the same. A slice of bread was visible even when the edge of it was held toward the eye, the butter could be safely attributed to the cow, and a third cup of tea or glass of milk was as smilingly produced, if called for, as was the first. In short, the deplorable deficiency in varieties of knives and forks, and in different species of spoons - as measured by modern requirements - was made up by a plentitude of things that could be eaten instead of looked at. The tavern dinner-table of early days, when fully equipped for active service, was primarily designed for satisfying hunger rather than to tickle the eye of the gastronomical critic who would shudder to behold a slice of ham lifted to its doom on a sausage knife. The fundamental idea of the diner was to convey the food from the table to his teeth; the precise method of its conveyance thither being a matter of subsidiary concern. In his main purpose he was successful, and if the methods by which bread and meat are transported to their final destination have also improved with the lapse of years, it is well to remember that those earlier generations were sturdy men who fearlessly met whatever emergency confronted them, whether the problem was the conquest of the wilderness or the impalement of a distant potato.