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requisition, may indeed choose whether he will, after all, dine there or not, but in any case he must pay his share of the reckoning, which in general amounts to seven and sixpence a head. These dinners, however, do not take place unless at least six, and in some clubs eight, members have announced their purpose of joining in them.
We now ascend the stairs, and come into the drawing-room. This is for the most part elegantly, nay, superbly furnished; but it is thinly tenanted, for what is a drawing-room without ladies? It is their peculiar domain, and the few congregated in their lonely palace seem like so many mourning widowers. Things look much better in the library that is next to it. There coat and waistcoat seem to be in their proper element again, and the expenditure, which is lavish, is no more than what is right and proper. A resident librarian is in attendance, every accommodation being afforded to the reader, and we may form a pretty correct average of the resources at his command, when we hear that in 1844 the books in the Athenæum amounted to twenty thousand three hundred, the accumulated result of donations, and of a fund set apart for that purpose. In the club just named, this sum is said to be five hundred pounds annually, exclusive of the money devoted to periodicals.
A card-room stands in some houses next to the library, but games of pure chance are forbidden under pain of expulsion, and even at whist no stake is allowed beyond half-guinea points.
We must now ascend to the third story, where we shall find one billiardroom, if not more, attended by a marker. For this, as well as for cards. a separate charge is made, upon the very obvious and rational ground that it would be unfair to make the non-players pay for the extra expenses entailed by this part of the establishment. Twelve of the clubs allow smoking-rooms, which are, as they ought to be, the worst-looking part of the whole building.
So complicated a machine as a club of this kind, it will be easily sup posed, must require some management to keep it in order and motion. For this purpose it is usual to confide the direction of affairs to a committee of thirty or forty, as the case may be, selected from the general body. Of these from three to eight form a quorum, which meets once a week to regulate matters of finance, to appoint tradespeople, to engage or dismiss servants, to inquire into and redress any complaints that may be made by members, and to superintend all new elections. The general committee has duties scarcely less onerous; it has to prepare the annual reports and statements of account, which are afterwards printed for the satisfaction of those belonging to the club, who may like to look into affairs. But these duties have been found too numerous and too heavy for any one set of men, acting in a body, to discharge them. The general committee therefore divides itself into various sub-committees, each having its own especial business to attend to. Thus the "house-committee takes upon itself the charge of household affairs; the "book-committee " manages the library, all works being approved by it before they can be admitted, and from the same source must emanate the orders for their purchase; the "wine-committee" chooses the wines, superintends the cellarage, and directs the distribution at table; it is composed of sage and experienced bibbers, men well versed in all vinous mysteries, and as little liable to be imposed upon in these grave matters as any one of the tasters at the London Docks. In those clubs which have billiard-rooms-aud
this is universally the case-there is also a billiard-committee, consisting of those who are most skilful in the mysteries of the game. A secretary is appointed to assist these various boards, one of his duties being to conduct the official correspondence of the club. The minor details are carried on by servants, the chief of whom is the "house-steward," and he regulates the rest of the domestics; in some clubs he is helped by a superintendent," who in that case has the care of the drawing-room floor, it being his business to see that the writing and reading-rooms are properly supplied with stationery. The chief cook is generally a foreigner of eminence in the culinary art, and he has for helps one male assistant and a troupe of kitchen maids. Next to him must be ranked the housekeeper, who has under her superintendence all the invisible females of the establishment, respectively officiating as housemaids, a needle-woman, and a still-room maid, whose duty it is to make the tea and coffee. Taking the Reform Club and the Garrick, with the Naval Club, as the two extremes, we shall find that the number of domestics varies from fifty-six to eleven; but most of these establishments subscribe to some hospital, either in money or in kind-such as old linen, &c.—that their servants may be received into them in cases of chronic or prolonged diseases. Where the ailment is of a temporary nature, a medical man in the pay of the club attends, and also supplies medicines. The broken victuals are distributed to the poor under the direction of the parish authorities, and this may be reckoned amongst the greatest of the benefits conferred by such institutions on society at large.
Such is the modern club, a sort of private retaurateur's, with the advantages of good wine, good food, respectful attendance, and moderate prices. Much has been said of the disadvantages attendant upon them ; but as all of them, being twenty-two in number, are quite full, and, in some instances, with thousands of expectant candidates on the list, it seems quite plain that their utility or their agreeableness must fully counterbalance anything that can be said against them. Their names are as follow:
Of those that have had their day of fashion and popularity, but exist no longer, we may mention the Cocoa Tree, Graham's, Wateir's (the favourite resort of the Prince of Wales), the Albion (dissolved in 1841), and the Clarence.
The mode of admission is by ballot. In some, one negative in ten excludes the candidate; in others, a single black ball is sufficient-the most absurd of all regulations. The admission fee varies from its highest point of £32 11s. to five guineas, while the annual subscription is in most clubs six guineas, in the lowest five; and in none does it go beyond ten.
But it is not our intention to dwell on these minor details. We purpose, instead, while briefly alluding to each club, to notice a few of their peculiar characteristics, and record a few anecdotes of their principal members, when these for the most part have passed away.
And, first, of another club, possibly still extant, forming, like the Beef Steak Club, an intermediate link between the old and the modern order
THE KING OF CLUBS.
When the Beef Steak Club had begun to fall into desuetude, and literary associations were either extinct, or had not yet been resuscitated, as in the Athenæum and some of the foundations of modern days, a club under this ambitious title was established by the celebrated BOBUS Smith, in union with Sir James Mackintosh, Lord Henry Petty (now Marquis of Lansdowne) and a few men of like refinement, for the purpose of uniting intellectual pursuits with social enjoyment. It assembled on a Saturday in each month, at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand; but though Bobusthe name which the late Robert Smith, formerly Advocate-General in Calcutta, received at school and retained through life-concentrated almost the whole powers of a club in himself, and the celebrated "Conversation Sharpe" was a member, it never attracted especial attention. The late Lord Holland, Sir Samuel Rogers, the banker, Mr. James Scarlet (afterterwards Lord Abinger), and several other men of rank and ability belonged to it; yet all their efforts failed to raise it into notoriety. It was perhaps somewhat too literary to suit the habits of the times. By a strange coincidence too, its greatest members had failed in the House of Commons, so that celebrity in the club became by no means an enviable distinction. Bobus himself had but once ventured to speak in that fastidious assembly, and failed, retiring a maimed and crippled disputant from the encounter; and Sharpe, though more successful, by no means realized the anticipations entertained of him. Even Mackintosh, with far higher powers, failed; being to the last rather a vague essayist than an apt debater. He was, besides, shortly afterwards removed to the Recordership of Bombay; and the joke ran round, that the governor (the late eccentric Jonathan Duncan) having, in his politeness, offered them the use of his suburban seat on their arrival, Sir James and his lady had retained possession so long, in the supposition that it was their own, that on the expiration of a year he was under the necessity of sending his gardeners to rob the orchard, with the view of giving them a hint,-it being explained to them, when they made the expected complaint, that the apples as well as the premises were his. Lord Erskine was also a member, but he formed no exception to the list of parliamentary failures, any more than Lord Kenyon, whom he used to quiz for having presided at the Rolls, and at Nisi Prius for twelve years in the same identical pair of black velvet breeches. It was here that Erskine used, in his egotism, to recount his early triumphs, and here also that, amidst his utter desertion, he occasionally resorted in his ultimate decline. Here it was he recounted his dismissal from the Prince of Wales's household for accepting a brief from Thomas Paine. Yet Windham, a high aristocrat, justified him on the occasion, and said in reference to the bold democrat's celebrated passage: "Mr. Burke pities the plumage" (alluding to the French court) "but he forgets the dying bird:" "I could," as Pierre says, "have hugged the greasy rogue, he pleased me so."
It was one of the peculiarities and advantages of the club, that strangers could be admitted to it as honorary members, and impart as well as receive amusement. Amongst those so introduced was Curran, the celebrated Irish orator. His first appearance disappointed expectation, and he long remained obstinately mute; but towards the end of the evening he at last 66 came out; and, finding himself amongst more congenial spirits, proposed as a toast," All absent friends," with an especial reference to Lord Avonmore, an absent Irish judge, who then sat by his side. When the toast was drunk, he quietly informed his lordship, that they had just drank his health; and the peer, whose mind had been for an hour in nubibus, returned thanks for the compliment, as if it had been seriously proposed. The judge, however, when on the bench, had his revenge. An ass chancing to bray in the middle of one of Curran's forensic speeches: "Stop, stop," he cried, Mr. Curran; one at a time." But if the retort is to be credited, he had little reason to congratulate himself. The same sound being heard in the course of his lordship's summing-up, he looked inquir ingly at the bar. "The echo of the court, my lord," is said to have been Curran's reply.
The celebrated Lord Ward also occasionally visited the King of Clubs, to which he was introduced by Mr. Rogers, the poet banker, on whom, however, he frequently pressed with unmerciful severity. Mr. Rogers's appearance in those days by no means denoted the venerable age he has since attained; he was, in fact, by his warmest friends looked upon as "booked." Returning from Spa on one occasion, he remarked that the place was so full that he could not even find a bed. "Dear me," said Ward, was there not room in the churchyard? On another evening Mr. Murray, the publisher, on a visit to the club, remarking that a portrait of Rogers, then exhibiting, was "done to the life; "" to the death you mean,' was his lordship's reply. And "Why don't you keep your hearse, Sam? you can well afford it," formed his salutation to the poet, who at that moment chanced to enter the room.
But his lordship was then hastening to that mental cloud which eventually obscured his intellect; and neither his sallies, nor those of the members or occasional visitors could preserve the King of Clubs from that fate which awaits upon everything human; and though it survived till 1830, we believe that this regal institute is now defunct.
The clubs of a political order, had their origin even before those already described, and may be considered as founded on a more lasting basis than any, inasmuch as they unite the antiquity of the old with the advantages of the present system, and have existed, we believe, from the days of Dryden downwards-We allude to BROOKES's and WHITE'S. And first, of
though White's is, if we mistake not, its senior, it has existed ever since the era of the famous coffee-houses recorded in the Spectator, Tatler, and other publications in the days of Addison, receiving its name from a celebrated
host of the period, who, for reasons approved and apparent, earned a popularity so great and deserved, that even one of his customers commemorated him as
"The generous Brookes, whose honest, liberal trade,
Delights to trust, and blushes to be paid."
Such a man was of course a treasure in his day, as he would be at the present, and possibly might have been in any. The wits of the opposition accordingly flocked around him, though doubtless without surmising that his liberal designation would ever have been applied to their politics; and their representatives have ever since remained faithful to the spot. It is the head-quarters of the Whigs, as White's was of Toryism, and for upwards of a century maintained its supremacy. Latterly, however, since the institution of the Reform, Carlton, and Conservative Clubs, both of these bodies have assumed a position less decidedly political, and Brookes's, in this respect, no longer occupies the important post which, during the latter part of the past and earlier years of the present century, it maintained, when its dictum was decisive; and to be a member of Brookes's was to be a person of distinction. It differs also from the modern clubs, along with its compeer and another almost equally venerable-Boodle's-in being the property of an individual instead of a joint-stock body; the members, according to the old constitution of the club, merely meeting together and affixing the prices for which the accommodation, &c. are to be provided by the host; though this, at the present day, is possibly a fiction too, the club being to all intents and purposes conducted like the others.
But the constitution and present position of Brookes's are both unimportant compared with what the club formerly was, especially during the last quarter of the past century and first dozen years of the present, when its members formed a sort of imperium in imperio, and almost constituted or could overturn a government; as may be readily inferred when it is mentioned that the names of Fox, Burke, Grenville, Windham, Grey, and Sheridan were to be found amongst their number.
Of the first of these eminent statesmen, whose joyous temperament led him to pass the greater part of his leisure hours at the club, few anecdates, connected with Brookes's, now survive. Though highly convivial, and a wit of the highest order, Fox rather brilliantly discoursed than indulged in bon mots; and his conversation, however sprightly, was, on most occasions, rather that of a philosopher than a wit. His acuteness of observation, depth of thought, and almost universality of knowledge, rendered him—we speak in the highest sense of the word—the oracle of the club, and his bonhommie and beneficence were not less esteemed; yet few anecdotes connected with him at Brookes's now possess point sufficient for our pages, and the sharp stinging hits and repartees of Selwyn, his early contemporary, will perhaps at the present day be more appreciated. We may judge, however, what the powers of Fox and his great master Burke, in rejoinder were, when it is mentioned that neither Selwyn nor Sheridan ever ventured to attack them, or, if they did, that they invariably came off second in the encounter.
Selwyn was indeed the prime wit of the early part of Fox's career, as Sheridan was towards its close; but, unlike either Fox or Sheridan, all he said conveyed a barb along with it, though generally employed in scourging folly or pretension. Meeting an inflated personage, the son