The old Devil Tavern stood next to Temple Bar and was the frequent haunt of the great and the good in 17th and 18th century London.
Dr Johnson, that literary despot “with the mountainous belly and the rocky face”, once held an all-night party there to celebrate his friend Mrs Lennox’s first novel and the engraving shows him arriving at the tavern.
Sir John Hawkins, who was present at the beano, reported that “The supper was elegant; Johnson had directed that a magnificent hot apple pie” should be served, along with coffee and tea.
The Doctor then proceeded to congratulatory speech-making and at “about 5 a.m, Johnson’s face shone with meridian splendour, though his drink had only been lemonade, but the greater part of the company had deserted to the colours of Bacchus and were with difficulty rallied”.
The guests, however, were not the only ones who had been beaten into submission by the good Doctor’s discourse as “the waiters were all so overcome with sleep that it was two hours before a bill could be had, and it was not until near eight” that the tormented company staggered out into the street.
Quite a party – don’t you wish you’d been there?