« ZurückWeiter »
though it consisted but of fifteen persons, weighed above three ton.
In cpposition to this society, there sprung up another, composed of scare-crows and skeletons, who being very meagre and envious, did all they could to thwart the designs of their bulky brethren, whom they represented as men of dangerous principles; till at length they worked them out of the favour of the people, and consequently out of the magistracy. These factions tore the corporation in pieces for several years, till at length they came to this accommodation; that the two bailiffs of the town should be annually chosen out of the two clubs : by which means the principal magistrates are at this day coupled like rabbits, one fat and one lean.
Every one has heard of the club, or rather the confederacy, of the Kings. This grand alliance was formed a little after the return of King Charles the Second, and admitted into it men of all qualities and professions, provided they agreed in this sir. name of King, which, as they imagined, sufficiently declared the owners of it to be altogether untainted with republican and antimonarchical principles.
A Christian name has likewise been often used as a badge of distinction, and made the occasion of a club. That of the George's, which used to meet at the sign of the George, on St. George's day, and swear 'Before George,' is still fresh in every
There are at present in several parts of this city what they call Street-Clubs, in which the chief inhabitants of the street con. verse together every night. I remember, upon my inquiring after lodgings in Ormond-street, the landlord, to recommend that quarter of the town, told me, there was at that time a very good .club in it: he also told me, upon further discourse with him, that two or three v isy country squires, who were settled there the year before, had considerably sunk the price of house-rent; and that the club (to prevent the like inconveniencies for the future) had thoughts of taking every house that became vacant into their own hands, till they had found a tenant for it, of a sociable nature, and good conversation.
The Hum-Drum Club, of which I was formerly an unworthy member, was made up of very honest gentlemen, of peaceable dispositions, that used to sit together, smoke their pipes, and say nothing till midnight. The Mum Club (as I am informed) is an institution of the same nature, and as great an enemy to noise.
After these two innocent societies, I cannot forbear mention. ing a very mischievous one, that was erected in the reign of King Charles the Second : I mean, the Club of Duellists, in
, which none was to be admitted that had not fought his man. The president of it was said to have killed half a dozen in single combat; and as for the other members, they took their seats according to the number of their slain. There was likewise a side-table for such as had only drawn blood, and shewn a laudable ambition of taking the first opportunity to qualify themselves for the first table. This club, consisting only of men of honour, did not continue long, most of the members of it being put to the sword, or hanged, a little after its institution.
Our modern celebrated clubs are founded upon eating and drinking, which are points wherein most men agree, and in which the learned and illiterate, the dull and the airy, the philosopher and the buffoon, can all of them bear a part. The Kit-Cat itself is said to have taken its original from a mutton-pye. The
* This club, which took its name from Christopher Cat, the maker of their mutton pies, was originally formed in Shire Lane, about the tiine of the trial of the seven bishops, for a little free evening conversation; but
Beef-steak' and October Clubs, are neither of them averse to eating and drinking, if we may form a judgment of them from their respective titles.
When men are thus knit together, by a love of society, not a spirit of faction, and do not meet to censure or annoy those that are absent, but to enjoy one another; when they are thus combined for their own improvement, or for the good of others, or at least to relax themselves from the business of the day, by an innocent and cheerful conversation ; there may be something very useful in these little institutions and establishments.
I cannot forbear concluding this paper with a scheme of laws that I met with upon a wall in a little ale-house : how I came thither, I may inform my reader at a more convenient time. These laws were enacted by a knot of artizans and mechanics, who used to meet every night; and as there is something in them which gives us a pretty picture of low life, I shall tran. scribe them word for word.
Rules to be observed in the Two-penny Club, erected in this place, for the preservation of friendship and good neighbourhood.
I. Every member at his first coming in shall lay down his two-pence. in Queen Anne's reign comprehended above forty noblemen and gentlemen of the first rank, all firm friends to the Hanoverian succession. The verses for their toasting glasses were written by Garth, and the portraits of all its members painted by Kneller, who was himself one of their num. ber; hence all portraits of the same dimensions are at this time known by the name of Kit Cat. Jacob Tonson, the bookseller, was their secretary and built a gallery at his house at Barn Elms, for the reception of the pictures, and where the club occasionally held its meetings. From Tonson this valuable collection has come by inheritance to Samuel Baker, Esq., of Hertingfordbury, near Hertford.-L. V. also vol. i.
p. 214.-6. ' Of this club it is said, that Mrs. Woffington, the only woman belonging to it, was president; Richard Estcourt, the comedian, was their probedore, and, as an honorable badge of his office, wore a small gridiron of gold hung round his neck with a green silk riband.-L.
II. Every member shall fill his pipe out of his own box.
III. If any member absents himself, he shall forfeit a penny for the use of the club, unless in case of sickness or imprisonment.
IV. If any member swears or curses, his neighbour may give him a kick
the shins. V. If any member tell stories in the club that are not true, he shall forfeit for every third lie an half-penny.
VI. If any member strikes another wrongfully, he shall pay his club for him.
VII. If any member brings his wife into the club, he shall pay for whatever she drinks or smokes.
VIII. If any member's wife comes to fetch him home from the club, she shall speak to him without the door.
IX. If any member calls another cuckold, he shall be turned out of the club.
X. None shall be admitted into the club that is of the same trade as any member of it.
XI. None of the club shall have his clothes or shoes made or mended, but by a brother member.
XII. No Nonjuror shall be capable of being a member.
The morality of this little club is guarded by.such wholesome laws and penalties, that I question not but my reader will be as well pleased with them, as he would have been with the Leges Conviviales of Ben Jonson, the regulations of an old Roman club cited by Lipsius, or the rules of a Symposium in an ancient Greek author.1
1 V. rules for a club formerly established in Philadelphia. Supplement to Dr. Franklin's works, 8vo. p. 533. Secret History of Clubs, &c., 8vo. 1709, republished with additions, 12mo. 1746. Truth and falsehood are so blended in this catch-penny book, that it is difficult to collect any certain infor mation from it. The last edition is worse than the first-C.
No. 10. MONDAY, MARCH 12.
Non aliter quam qui adverso vix flumine lembum
VIRG. Georg. I. 201.
It is with much satisfaction that I hear this great city inquir ing day by day after these my papers, and receiving my morning lectures with a becoming serious nessand attention. My publisher tells
me, that there are already three thousand of them distributed every day :' so that if I allow twenty readers to every paper, which I look upon as a modest computation, I may reckon about threescore thousand disciples in London and Westminster, who I hope will take care to distinguish themselves from the thoughtless herd of their ignorant and unattentive brethren. Since I have raised to myself so great an audience, I shall spare no pains to make their instruction agreeable, and their diversion useful. For which reasons I shall endeavour to enliven morality with wit. and to temper wit with morality, that my readers may, if possible, both ways find their account in the speculation of the day. And to the end that their virtue and discretion may not be short, transient, intermitting starts of thought, I have resolved to refresh their memories from day to day, till I have recovered them out of that desperate state of vice and folly into which the age is fallen The mind that lies fallow but a single day, sprouts up in follies that are only to be killed by a constant and assiduous culture.
i Ces discours ont paru d'abord un à un, sur des feuilles volantes, en forme de gazettes ; et il s'en est débité jusqu'à vingt mille par jour, &c.
Le Spectateur. Pref. V. Tatler with nu ies. V. C. No. 271, p. 452, note on Dr. Johnson's cal cr Jarion.-C.