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at the stair-head when she followed, and pulling him into a closet, thanked him for her cure; which was so absolute, that she gave me this relation herself, to be communicated for the benefit of all the voluntary invalids of her sex.
Clubs of Steele and Goldsmith.
The primary signification of the word Club, in its sense of a meeting of companions, appears to be derived from the same root as that of the massy stick, and means a consolidated body of persons large enough to amount to something substantial; something more than accidental and of no account.
A club appears formerly to have meant any such body organized for a common object. It may now be defined to be a set of persons associated for companionable enjoyment, at stated times and with a division of expenses.
Clubs of this kind are thought to be of very modern origin. We suspect they are as old as flourishing communities. Traces of them are discernible in the literature of Greece and Rome, and the East, especially in bacchanalian poetry. Indeed it would be strange if such had not been the case, considering in how many respects men are alike in all ages, and that where good cheer is to be found, they naturally flock together. We are not aware, however, of any ascertained instance of a club, earlier than the famous one at the Devil Tavern, for which Ben Jonson wrote his Latin rules; and perhaps the name, in the modern sense, is hardly appropriate even to this. It is not certain that the rules applied to an organized body of contributors to the expense, in contradistinction to a permitted range of payers. Clubs thickened in the time of the Commonwealth, and exhibited their undoubted modern character in that of Steele and Addison. The meeting of wits in Dryden's time appears to have taken place in the open coffee-room. It is in the clubs of the Tatler and Spectator, that we first meet with all the characteristics of the modern club-its closed doors, regular members, and "creature comforts."
6 Supper and friends expect me at the Rose.”
Addison, whose home was not happy, and whose blood required a stimulus to set his wit flowing, found his greatest enjoyment in the tavern-room ; Steele was born for one; and except wit, ladies, gallants, and good morals, there is nothing you hear more of in their periodicals, than clubs. The circumstances which brought people together in this kind of society, were often of so fantastic a nature, that it is not easy to distinguish the real from the imaginary sort in the pages of these writers; but some of the names are historical. There is, in the first place, the Spectator's own club, with immortal Sir Roger de Coverley, and Will Honeycomb. Then come the Fat Club, the Thin Club, the Club of Kings (that is to say, of people of the name of King); the St. George's Club, who swore “Before George” (which would seem to be Jacobitical, if they had not met on St. George's day); Street Clubs (composed of members residing in the same street); the Hum-Drum and Mum Clubs (who ingeniously smoked and held their tongues); the Duellists (famous for being killed and “hung”); the Kit-Cat (the great Whig Club, whose name originated in tarts made by Christopher Katt); the Beef-Steak (founded by Estcourt the comedian); the October (a club of Tory country-gentlemen and beer-drinkers); the Ugly Club; the Sighing or Amorous Club; the Fringe-Glove Club (a set of fops); the Hebdomadal (a set of quidnuncs); the Everlasting (some of whom were always sitting); the Club of She-Romps, who once a month “demolished a prude” (this looks like a foundation of Steele's acquaintance, Lady Mary Wortley Montague); the Mohochs, who demolished windows and watchmen, and ran their swords through sedan-chairs (really); the Little or Short Club (an invention of Pope’s); the Tall (an invention of Addison's); the Terrible (Steele’s); the Silent, who had loud wives, and whose motto was, “Talking spoils company” (an invention of Zachary Pearce's, bishop of Rochester); and last not least, the Club at the Trumpet, in Shire Lane, of which more anon. These, we believe, are all the Clubs mentioned in the Tatler, Spectator, and Guardian. Brookes's, and (we think) White's, which are still places of meeting for the wits, politicians, and gamblers of high life, arose before the dissolution of some of them. Then there is the second Beef-Steak Club (founded by Rich the harlequin); the famous Literary Club (originating with Dr. Johnson); the Club of Monks at Medmenham Abbey (a profligate mistake); the King of Clubs (Bobus Smith's, “himself a club,” brother of Sydney); and the high quality club entitled Nulli Secundus, or Second to None (which a metaphysical wag might translate, Worse than Nothing). Endless would be the enumeration, even if they could be discovered, of the Freemason and other clubs, which have attained a minor celebrity, and imitations of which branch off through all the gradations of tavern and publichouse, and are to be found all over the kingdom, -such as Odd Fellows, Merry Fellows, Eccentrics, Free and Easys, Lords and Commons, &c. &c., illustrious at Cheshire Cheeses, and Holes in the Wall; and often better than best for comfort. We must not forget one, however, of which we have read somewhere, called the Livers, which had bottles shaped like inverted cones, so that the wine would "stand” with nobody, but was forced to be always in circulation. The reader will not be surprised to hear, that these “ Livers” were famous for dying before their time.
Johnson said, that a tavern chair was the “ throne of human felicity.” That to him it was, we have no doubt; and with admirable wit and sense he filled it. Yet the word “throne” betrays a defect in the right club notion. His felicity consisted in laying down the law, and having the best of the argument. There was too much in it of his illustrious namesake the poet. We suspect, however, that although Johnson was greatest among his great friends, he was pleasantest among his least. He had to make the most of them in his turn, and to set them a good example. He has the merit of having invented the word “clubable.” Boswell, said he, is a clubable man." He meant intelligent, social, and good tempered. These are the three great requisites for a clubbist; and it is better to miss the intelligence than the sociality, and the sociality than the good temper. The great end of a club is the refreshment to the spirits, after the cares of business or of home, whether those cares be of a bad or a good sort; and though intellect may be everything with some, and sociality with others, better is the merest puff of a tobacco-pipe with peace, than Johnson himself or Burke without it. We are for the Hum-Drums in preference to the Duellists ; for a little noise with good fellowship to the Hum-Drums; for good fellowship and wit without the noise to
anything. But if we cannot have all we desire in those respects, give us a few chatty, cordial people, neither geniuses nor fools, with whom the news of the day and questions of personal interest can be exchanged, with the certainty that there will at least be peace and harmony, if little wit. Intellect and wit enough can be got from books ; perhaps too much of them may have been met with in the course of the day. But a club is the next thing before a pillow; and if it is to refresh you after the day's employment, it should do it in a manner that at all events dismisses you tranquilly to your repose for the night. We suspect, upon the whole, that the Street and Village Clubs have been most successful; meetings established by the natural course of things, and expecting nothing but a comparison of daily notes and a little cheerful refreshment. As to great Reform and Conservative Clubs, Athenæums, &c., they may be good for public objects, but publicity has nothing to do with the comfort suitable to the club proper; and those institutions in fact, club-wards, are but escapes from domesticity into cheapness and solitude. A man may be a great frequenter of them, and club with nothing but callers on business and a lonely dinner-table. The club to belong to, of all others, would be one composed of good-natured men of genius, such as Stecle, Fielding, and Thomson, who had reflection enough for all subjects, enthusiasm enough to give them animation, good breeding enough to hinder the animation from becoming noisy, and humanity enough to make allowance for honest occasional departures from any rule whatever. Shakspeare would include such men in his all-comprehensive person; but we are not sure that he would not over-inform the club with intellect; set it too abundantly thinking; and besides, it is difficult, as modern clubbists, to take to the idea of a man of a distant period, with a different style of language, and retrospective meats and drinks. Otherwise Chaucer would surely be a perfect member; and who would not rejoice in the company of Suckling and Marvell ?
We have selected the following clubs from the writings of Steele and Goldsmith, as exemplifying the three main varieties; the wellbred, humorsome, but intellectual club (for though Sir Roger de Coverley and Will Honeycomb make the principal figures in the account of it, it is to be recollected that the Spectator is there); the Trumpet Club in Shire Lane, frequented by the Tatler, which is the ordinary common-piace club of smokers and old story-tellers, by way of opiate, bedwards; and the clubs of low life, which Goldsmith, as a cosmopo