Some people ask why we call this blog Coffee House. The principal reason is that this magazine’s founders, Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, went around such places picking up gossip and scandal – coffee houses were the 18th century equivalent of blogs, hated by the establishment for irreverence. Reports from the coffee houses filled the 1711 incarnation of the publication you are now reading online. The Times today quotes Charles II describing them in 1675 as “places where the disaffected met and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers.” Our job remit precisely.
PS The first 1711 edition was printed every day, on a single piece of newspaper. In the first edition, Addison introduced himself and the places he spied on. “I appear on Sunday nights at St James Coffee House and sometimes join the little Committee of Politicks in the Inner Room” to hear what was going on. And your loyal correspondents do the best to hang out the modern day equivalents of such places, and report back – online, or in the magazine.