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regions of this great town, than with the different parts and distributions of the whole nation. I can describe every parish by its impieties, and can tell you in which of our streets lewdness prevails; which gaming has taken possession of; and where drunkenness has got the better of them both. When I am disposed to raise a fine for the poor, I know the lanes and alleys that are inhabited by common swearing. When I would encourage the hospital of Bridewell
, and improve the hempen manufacture, I am very well acquainted with all the haunts and resorts of female night-walkers.
“After this short account of myself, I must let you know, that the design of this paper is to give you information of a certain irregular assembly, which I think fails very properly under your observation, especially since the persons it is composed of are criminals too considerable for the animadversions of our society. I mean, Sir, the Midnight Mask, which has of late been frequently held in one of the most conspicuous parts of the town, and which I hear will be continued with additions and improvements.* As all the persons who compose this lawless assembly are masked, we dare not attack any of them in our way, lest we should send a woman of quality to Bridewell, or a peer of Great Britain to the Compter; besides, that their numbers are so very great, that I am afraid, they would be able to rout our whole fraternity, though we were accompanied with all our guard of coustables. Both these reasons, which secure them from our authority, make them obnoxious to yours; as both their disguise and their numbers will give no particular person reason to think himself affronted by you.
“ If we are rightly informed, the rules that are observed by this new society are wonderfully contrived for the advancement of cuckoldom. The women either come by themselves, or are introduced by friends who are obliged to quit them, upon their first entrance, to the conversation of anybody that addresses himself to them. There are several rooms where the parties may retire, and, if they please, show their faces by consent. Whispers, squeezes, nods, and embraces, are the innocent freedoms of the place. In short, the whole design of this libidinous assembly seems to terminate in assignations and intrigues; and I hope you will take effectual methods, by your public advice and admoni. tions, to prevent such a promiscuous multitude of both sexes from meeting together in so clandestine a manner. I am "Your humble servant, and fellow labourer,
“ T. B."
See Nos. 14 and 101.
Not long after the perusal of this letter I received another upon the same subject; which, by the date and style of it, I take to be written by some young templar.
“ Middle Temple, 1710-11. * SIR, “When a man has been guilty of any vice or folly, I think the best atonement he can make for it, is to warn others not to fall into the like. In order to this I must acquaint you, that some time in February last I went to the Tuesday's masquerade. Upon my first going in I was attacked by half a dozen female quakers, who seemed willing to adopt me for a brother; but, upon a nearer examination, I found they were a sisterhood of coquettes, disguised in that precise habit. I was soon after taken out to dance, and, as I fancied, by a woman of the first quality, for she was very tall, and moved gracefully. As soon as the minuet was over, we ogled one another through our masks; and as I am very well read in Waller, I repeated to her the four following verses out of his poem to Vandyke
The heedless lover does not know
Inquires her name that has his heart.' "I pronounced these words with such a languishing air, that I bad some reason to conclude I had made a conquest. She told me that she hoped my face was not akin to my tongue, and looking upon her watch, I accidentally discovered the figure of a coronet on the back part of it. I was so transported with the thought of such an amour, that I plied her from one room to another with all the gallantries I could invent; and at length brought things to so happy an issue, that she gave me a private meeting the next day, without page or footman, coach or equipage. My heart danced in raptures, but I had not lived in this golden dream above three days, before I found good reason to wish that I had continued true to my laundress. I have since heard, by a very great accident, that this fine lady does not live far from Covent Garden, and that I am not the first cully whom she has passed herself upon for a countess.
" Thus, Sir, you see how I have mistaken a cloud for a Juno; and if you can make any use of this adventure for the benefit of those who may possibly be as vain young coxcombs as myself, I do most heartily give you leave. I am, Sir, “Your most humble admirer,
“B. L." I design to visit the next masquerade myself, in the same habit
I wore at Grand Cairo ;* and till then shall suspend my judgment of this midnight entertainment.
No. 9. SATURDAY, MARCH 10, 1710-11.
Tigris agit rabida cum tigride pacem
JUV. SAT. XV. 163.
Man is said to be a sociable animal, and, as an instance of it, we may observe, that we take all occasions and pretences of forming ourselves into those little nocturnal assemblies, which are commonly known by the name of clubs. When a set of men find themselves agree in any particular, though never so trivial, they establish themselves into a kind of fraternity, and meet once or twice a week, upon the account of such a fantastic resemblance. I know a considerable market-town, in which there was a club of fat men, that did not come together (as you may well suppose) to entertain one another with sprightliness and wit, but to keep one another in countenance. The room where the club met was something of the largest, and had two entrances, the one by a door of a moderate size, and the other by a pair of folding-doors. If a candidate for this corpulent club could make his entrance through the first he was looked upon as unqualified; but if he stuck in the passage, and could not force his way through it, the folding-doors were immediately thrown open for his reception, and he was saluted as a brother. I have heard that this club, though it consisted but of fifteen persons, weighed above three tons.
In opposition to this society, there sprung up another composed of scarecrows 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
• See No. 1.
annually chosen out of the two clubs; by which means the principal magistrates are at this day coupled like rabbits, one fat and
Erery 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 the surname of King, which, as they imagined, sufficiently declared the owners of it to be altogether untainted with republican and anti-monarchical principles.
A Christian name has likewise been often used as a badge of distinction, and made the occasion of a club. That of the Georges, 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 converse 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 noisy 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 inconveniences 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 mentioning 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 num. ber of their slain. There was likewise a side-table for such as had only drawn blood, and shown 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-pie. The BeefSteak,t and Octoberclubs, 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 alehouse. How I came thither I may inform my reader at a more convenient time. These law were enacted by a knot of artisans 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 transcribe them word for word.
This club, consisting of the most distinguished wits and statesmen among the Whigs, met in Shire-lane, and was named from a pastrycook (Christopher Cat), who was famous for making mutton-pies, which con. stantly formed a part of their refreshment. The portraits of its members, done by Sir Godfrey Kneller, were all at Barnes, in the possession of the late Mr Jacob Tonson, whose father was secretary to the club. From Mr. Tonson's, they have since become, by inheritance, the property of William Baker, Esq. In order to adapt them to the height of the club-room, the pictures were painted of a size less than a whole, and larger than a half length, admitting only one arm; and hence all pictures of that size have since been called Kit-cats.
+ This club also consisted of the chief wits and greatest men in the kingdom. It is said, that Mrs. Woffington, the only woman in it, was president. Richard Estcourt, the comedian, was their providore ; and, as an honourable badge of his office, wore a small gridiron of gold hung round his neck with a green silk riband.
I Swift, in a letter to Stella (London, Feb. 10, 1710-11), says, “We are plagued here with an October Club ; that is, a set of above a hundred par. liament men of the country, who drink October beer at home, and meet every evening at a tavern near the parliament, to consult affairs, and drive things on to extremes against the Whigs, to call the old ministry to account, and get off five or six heads."