No. 213, Strand, near Temple Bar, was a noted resort in the last and present century. When it was a coffee-house, one day, there came in Sir James Lowther, who after changing a piece of silver with the coffee-woman, and paying twopence for his dish of coffee, was helped into his chariot, for he was very lame and infirm, and went home: some little time afterwards, he returned to the same coffee-house, on purpose to acquaint the woman who kept it, that she had given him a bad half-penny, and demanded another in exchange for it. Sir James had about 40,000l. per annum, and was at a loss whom to appoint his heir.
Shenstone, who found
"The warmest welcome at an inn,"
found George's to be economical. "What do you think," he writes, "must be my expense, who love to pry into everything of the kind? Why, truly one shilling. My company goes to George's Coffee-house, where, for that small subscription I read all pamphlets under a three shillings' dimension; and indeed, any larger would not be fit for coffee-house perusal." Shenstone relates that Lord Orford was at George's, when the mob that were carrying his Lordship in effigy, came into the box where he was, to beg money of him, amongst others: this story Horace Walpole contradicts, adding that he supposes Shenstone thought that after Lord Orford quitted his place, he went to the coffee-house to learn news.
Arthur Murphy frequented George's, "where the town wits met every evening." Lloyd, the law-student, sings:—
"By law let others toil to gain renown!
Florio's a gentleman, a man o' the town.
He nor courts clients, or the law regarding,
Hurries from Nando's down to Covent Garden,
Yet, he's a scholar; mark him in the pit,
With critic catcall sound the stops of wit!
Supreme at George's, he harangues the throng,
Censor of style, from tragedy to song."
Club Life of London Vol. II