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In London:
Fleet Street to Gough Square

John Turner

Fleet Street, past where Temple Bar once stood, still emits the aura of being a great journalistic stretch even though all the newspapers and magazines once published there have departed for more economic sites. London is a strange town in that though it's being transformed everyday by massive construction projects it continues to have pockets that remind you of the grandeurs of the past.  And Fleet Street is one of them.
If you walk on up about five blocks from where the picture above was taken, you'll come to the Cheshire Cheese on your left, and by it a little alley which leads back into Gough Square, where Dr. Johnson's four story house -- the place where the dictionary was assembled -- still stands as it did more than two hundred fifty years ago. There are also lots of good coffee shops on Fleet Street, just as there were when Johnson rumbled up and down the way. There's even a very good Starbucks, which manages to combine fine features of both England and America. I don't know what Johnson would have made of Starbucks, but maybe he wouldn't have been as harsh as we might suppose.
Samuel Johnson's house in Gough Square ought to be a site of pilgrimage for any visitor to London, but I get the sense it is seldom crowded, which is, I suppose, an advantage to those of us who do see it as one of the fonts of the English language. The house is well kept, with numerous paintings depicting Johnson's life, though it's doubtless less jumbled and more clean then when Johnson and his whole entourage lived there.
The painting I've included is of John Wesley preaching in London with Johnson in the audience. He's the figure at the back, wearing a blue coat.
The room on the top floor where the dictionary was put together by Scottish scribes is somewhat smaller than I had imagined, though large enough for four or five tables. In any case, it's a benefaction to be in a place where Johnson once worked, and ate, and talked. The house still radiates his spirit.