Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places. Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 4

Thornbury, Walter
1872-78

Pall-Mall.-Club-Land.

Pall-Mall.-Club-Land.

 

Man is a social animal.--Aristotle, Politics.

 

As and the immediate neighbourhood of St. James's have been for a century the headquarters of those London clubs which have succeeded to the fashionable coffee-houses, and are frequented by the upper ranks of society, a few remarks on Club-land and Club-life will not be out of place here.

As Walker observes in his

Original,

the system of clubs is of the greatest and most important changes in the society of the present age from that of our grandfathers, when coffee-houses were in fashion.

The facilities of life have been wonderfully increased by them, whilst the expense has been greatly diminished. For a few pounds a year, advantages are to be enjoyed which no fortunes, except the most ample, can procure . . For

six

guineas a year, every member has the command of an excellent library, with maps; of the daily papers, London and foreign, the principal periodicals, and every material for writing, with attendance for whatever is wanted. The building is a sort of palace, and is kept with the same exactness and comfort as a private dwelling. Every member is a master without the troubles of a master. He can come when he pleases, and stay away as long as he pleases, without anything going wrong. He has the command of regular servants, without having to pay or to manage them. He can have whatever meal or refreshment he wants at all hours, and served up with the cleanliness and comfort of his own home. He orders just what he pleases, having no interest to think of but his own. In short, it is impossible to suppose a greater degree of liberty in living. To men who reside in the country and come occasionally to town, a club is particularly advantageous. They have only to take a bed-room, and they have everything else they want, in a more convenient way than by any other plan. Married men whose families are absent find in the arrangements of a club the nearest resemblance to the facilities of home; and bachelors of moderate incomes and simple habits are gainers by such institutions in a degree beyond calculation. They live much cheaper, with more ease and freedom, in far better style, and with much greater advantages as to society, than formerly. Before the establishment of clubs, no money could procure many of the enjoyments which are now within the reach of an income of

three hundred

a year. . . Neither could the same facilities of living, nor the same opportunities of cultivating society, have been commanded

twenty

years since

[he wrote this in ]

on any terms. . . . In my opinion, a well-constituted club is an institution affording advantages unmixed with alloy.

In these remarks Mr. Walker draws for his experience on the club to which he belonged, the

Senior Athenaeum;

and he enters into some interesting calculations as to the cost of living, if a man makes such a club his head-quarters. From the accounts of his club in , it appeared that the daily average of dinners was and a fraction, and that the dinners for the year, a little over in number, cost on an average and ninepence farthings, and that the average quantity of wine drunk by each diner was a small fraction over half a pint! It is to be feared that all the clubs in the West-end could not show an equally abstemious set of diners; but still, it may fearlessly be said that the majority of them exhibit a simplicity which contrasts very favourably with the old taverns and coffee-houses of or years ago, and the excesses to which they too often ministered occasion. And although the ladies, as a body, do not like

those clubs,

because they are more or less antagonistic to early marriages, yet Mr. Walker defends them on even what may be called the matrimonial ground, asserting that

their ultimate tendency is to encourage marriage, by creating habits in accordance with those of the married state;

and he adds emphatically:

In opposition to the ladies' objections to clubs, I would suggest . . .. that they are a preparation, and not a substitute, for domestic life. Compared with the previous system of living, clubs induce habits of economy, temperance, refinement, regularity, and good order; and as men are in general not content with their condition as long as it can be improved, it is a natural step from the comforts

of a club to those of matrimony, and . . . there cannot be better security for the good behaviour of a husband than that he should have been trained in

one

of these institutions. When ladies suppose that the luxuries and comforts of a club are likely to make men discontented with the enjoyments of domestic life, I think they wrong themselves.

One

of the chief attractions of a club is, that it offers an imitation of the comforts of home, but only an imitation, and

one

which will never supersede the reality.

The London system of clubs, grouping, as it does, around and St. James's, finds its outward expression in buildings that give dignity and beauty to the thoroughfare in which they stand by their architectural splendour. They afford advantages and facilities of living which no fortunes, except the most ample, could procure, to thousands of persons most eminent in the land, in every path of life, civil and military, ecclesiastical, peers spiritual and temporal, commoners, men of the learned professions, those connected with literature, science, the arts, and commerce, in all its principal branches, as well as to those who do not belong to any particular class. These are represented by the

Carlton,

the

Reform,

the

University,

the

Atheneum,

the

Union,

the

United Service,

the

Army and Navy,

the

Travellers',

and a host of others.

The opinion of Dr. Johnson on the subject of clubs and club-life is well known to every reader of Boswell. A gentleman venturing day to say to the learned doctor that he sometimes wondered at his condescending to attend a club, the latter replied,

Sir, the great chair of a full and pleasant town club is, perhaps, the throne of human felicity.

Again, the learned doctor touches on this phase of life in the great metropolis, in the following conversation, also related by Boswell:--

Talking of a London life,

he said,

the happiness of London is not to be conceived but by those who have been in it. I will venture to say, there is more learning and science within the circumference of

ten

miles from where we now sit, than in all the rest of the kingdom.

Boswell:

The only disadvantage is the great distance at which people live from

one

another.

Johnson:

Yes, sir; but that is occasioned by the largeness of it, which is the cause of all the other advantages.

Boswell:

Sometimes I have been in the humour of wishing to retire to a desert.

Johnson:

Sir, you have desert enough in Scotland.

Addison, who knew something about the coffeehouse, and what we may call the

club-life

of his day, has given us, in his own graphic style, a sketch of St. James's Coffee-house, which stood near the western end of . We have already spoken of him as a frequenter of

Button's

in Covent Garden, and as a member of the celebrated Kit-cat Club, in ; indeed, he modestly surmised that his detractors had some colour for calling him the King of Clubs, and oracularly said that

all celebrated clubs were founded on eating and drinking, which are points where most men agree, and in which the learned and the illiterate, the dull and the airy, the philosopher and the buffoon, can all of them bear a part.

But it is not every club that has avowed itself by its name or title as formed on this basis.

The Kit-Kat itself,

says Addison, in illustration of the proposition quoted from him above,

is said to have taken its original from a Mutton- Pye. The 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.

The truth is, that centuries ago clubs were the natural resorts of men who, though socially inclined, did not enjoy the social position, and could not, therefore, command the introductions into high circles which were accorded to Pepys or Evelyn in the , and to Horace Walpole in the eighteenth century.

, if we may trust John Timbs, was noted for its tavern clubs more than centuries since.

The

first

time that Pepys mentions it,

writes Peter Cunningham,

is under date

26th July, 1660

, where he says,

We went to Wood's, our old house for clubbing, and there we spent till ten at night.

The passage is curious, not only as showing how, even at that time, was. famous for houses of entertainment, but also as the earliest instance of the use of the verb

to club

in the sense in which we now commonly use it.

Thackeray describes the club-life at the Westend, in Queen Anne's day, with his usual felicity:

It was too hard, too coarse a life, for the sensitive and sickly Pope. He was the only wit of the day who was not fat. Swift was fat; Addison was fat; Steele was fat; Gay and Thomson were preposterously fat. All that fuddling and punchdrinking, that club and coffee-house boozing, shortened the lives and enlarged the waistcoats of the men of that age.

The chief of the wits of his time, with the exception of Congreve,

he writes again,

were what we should now call

men's men.

They spent many hours of the

four

-and-

twenty

,

nearly a

fourth

part of each day, in clubs and coffee-houses, where they dined, drank, and smoked. Wit and news went by word of mouth: a journal of

1710

contained the very smallest portion of either the

one

or the other. The chiefs spoke; the faithful

habitués

sat around; strangers came to wonder and to listen. The male society passed over their punch-bowls and tobacco-pipes almost as much time as ladies of that age spent over spadille and manille.

We see no trace of club-life in the gossiping writings of Horace Walpole, though so many of his personal friends-George Selwyn, for example --were devoted to its pleasures. For himself, it is scarcely uncharitable to add that he was scarcely robust enough to live in such an element.

The clubs in London in the days of the Regency belonged exclusively to the aristocratic world. In the words of Captain Gronow:

My tradesmen,

as King Allen used to call the bankers and the merchants, had not then invaded White's, Boodle's, Brookes's, or Wattier's, in , ; which, with the Guards', Arthur's, and Graham's, were the only clubs at the West-end of the town.

White's

was decidedly the most difficult of entry; its list of members comprised nearly all the noble names of Great Britain. Its politics were decidedly Tory. Here play was carried on to an extent which made many ravages in large fortunes, the traces of which have not disappeared at the present day. General Scott, the father-in-law of George Canning and the Duke of Portland, was known to have won at

White's

a large fortune; thanks to his notorious sobriety and knowledge of the game of whist. The general possessed a great advantage over his companions by avoiding those indulgences at the table which used to muddle other men's brains. He confined himself to dining off something like a boiled chicken, with toast and water; by such a regimen he came to the whisttable with a clear head, and possessing as he did a remarkable memory, with great coolness and judgment, he was able to boast that he had won honestly no less than .

It is traditionally said that the modern mansion in which was used as a club in the present sense of the word was No. , now part of the War Office, and originally built for Edward Duke of York, brother of George III. It was opened as a

subscription house,

and called the

Albion Hotel.

This must have been towards the end of the last century.

Cyrus Redding tells us that in , when he came up from Cornwall to London, single men, of all classes, including the best, still sassed a good part of their time in coffee-houses; the great objection to which plan, he seems to think, was the bad ventilation of these places, and fatal to young men fresh from their country hills. They used to be crowded, especially in the evening, and the conversation in them was general.

The sullen club-house, united with the

rus in urbe

dwelling, and the out-of-town life, not further off than the suburbs, have diminished sociality, and changed the aspect of town intercourse.

He means to add, no doubt,

for the worse;

and possibly the accusation may be true.

Spence tells us in his

Anecdotes

that there was a club held at the

King's Head

in , which arrogantly styled itself

The World.

Among its members was [extra_illustrations.4.142.1] .

Epigrams were proposed to be written on the glasses by each member after dinner: once, when Dr. Young was invited thither, the Doctor would have declined writing because he had no diamond. Lord Stanhope lent him his own diamond, and the Doctor at once improvised the following:--

Accept a miracle instead of wit: See two dull lines with Stanhoep's pencil writ.

Dr. Johnson, as we have already seen, considered that

the full tide of human life could be seen nowhere save in

the Strand

;

but in years after his death the centre of social London had moved somewhat further west, and Theodore Hook, in the reign of William IV., maintained that

the real London is the space between

Pall Mall

on the south, and

Piccadilly

on the north,

St. James's Street

on the west, and the Opera House to the east.

At this period, it is to be observed that he himself lived just outside that world which he defined with such geographical precision, being then tenant of a house in .

Many of the old clubs have passed away, for though some of them, or similar societies, may still exist, they live behind the scenes, instead of figuring conspicuously upon the stage of London life. Quite a new order of things has come up: from small social meetings held periodically, the clubs have become permanent establishments, luxurious in all their appointments--some of them indeed occupy buildings which are quite palatial. No longer limited to a few acquaintances familiarly known to each other, they count their numbers by hundreds, and, sleeping accommodation excepted, provide for them abundantly all the comforts and luxuries of an aristocratic home and admirably-regulated , without any of the trouble inseparable from a private household, unless it be whose management is, as in a

p.143

clubhouse, confided to responsible superintendents. Each member of a club is expected to leave his private address with the secretary; but this, of course, remains unknown to the outside world, and considerable advantage frequently results from the arrangement, inasmuch as it was some years ago determined by a County Court judge, who before his elevation to the bench had been sadly annoyed by such visitants, that the interior of a club was inviolable by the bearers of writs, summonses, orders, executions, and the like. Besides those staple features, news-room and coffee-room, the usual accommodation of a club-house comprises library and writing-room, evening or drawing-room, and card-room, billiard and smoking rooms, and even baths and dressing-rooms; also a

house dining-room,

committee-room, and other apartments, all appropriately fitted up according to their respective purposes, and supplied with almost every imaginable convenience. In addition to the provision thus amply made for both intellectual and other recreation, there is another important and tasteful department of the establishmentnamely, the

As to the management of a club household, nothing can be more complete or more economical, because all its details are conducted systematically, and therefore without the slightest confusion or bustle. Every has his proper post and definite duties, and what contributes to his discharging them as he ought is that he has no time to be idle. The following is the scheme of government adopted :--At the head of affairs is the committee of management .--ho are generally appointed from among the members, and hold office for a certain time, during which they constitute a board of control, from whom all orders emanate, and to whom all complaints are made and irregularities reported. They superintend all matters of expenditure and the accounts, which latter are duly audited every year by others, who officiate as auditors. The committee further appoint the several officers and servants, also the several tradespeople. The full complement of a club-house establishment consists of secretary and librarian, steward, and housekeeper; to these principal officials succeed hall-porter, groom of the chambers, butler, under butler; then, in the kitchen department, clerk of the kitchen, , cooks, kitchenmaids, &c.; lastly, attendants, or footmen, and female servants, of both which classes the number is greater or less, according to the scale of the household. It may be added that most of the clubs distribute their broken viands to the poor of the surrounding parishes. .

So far as the general arrangement of the clubhouses is concerned, description may serve for the whole, as there is little difference between. the majority of them. The kitchen, cellars, storerooms, servants' hall, &c., are situated in the basement of the building. On the ground floor the. principal hall is usually entered immediately from: the street; in other instances it is preceded by an outer vestibule of smaller dimensions and far more simple architectural character. At a desk near the entrance is stationed the hall-porter, whose office it is to receive and keep an account of all messages, cards, letters, &c., and to take charge of the box into which the members put letters to be delivered to the postman. The chief apartments on this floor usually are the morningroom and coffee-room, the of which is the place of general rendezvous in the early part of the day, and for reading the newspapers. In some club-houses there is also what is called the

strangers' coffee-room,

into which members can introduce their friends as occasional visitors. The,

house dining-room

is generally on this floor. Here, although the of the club take their meals in the coffee-room, some of the members occasionally-perhaps about once a month-make up a set dinner-party, for which they previously put down their names, the day and number of guests being fixed: these, in club parlance, are styled

house dinners.

Ascending to the upper or principal floor, we find there the evening or drawing room, and card-room; the library, the writing-room. So far as embellishment or architectural effect is concerned, the mentioned of these rooms is generally the principal apartment in the building. The writing-room is a very great accommodation to members, for many gentlemen write their letters at, and date them from, their club. Upon this floor is generally the committee-room, and likewise the secretary's office. The next, or uppermost floor-which, however, in most cases does not show itself externally, it being concealed in the roof--is appropriated partly to the billiard and smoking rooms, and partly to servants' dormitories, the divisions being kept distinct from each other. Being quite apart from the other public rooms, those for billiards, &c., make no pretensions to outward appearance.

With these preliminary remarks as to our present club system and the usual arrangements of a clubhouse, we will proceed to speak more individually of the clubs which abound in .

The Guards' Club, which is restricted to the officers of Her Majesty's Household Troops, is the oldest club now extant, having been established

p.144

in . It was formerly housed in , next to

Crockford's.

The present clubhouse, however, was erected only as far back as ; it was built from the designs of Mr. Henry Harrison, and is said to be

remarkable for its compactness and convenience, although its size and external appearance indicate no more than a private house.

As Captain Gronow tells us in his

Anecdotes and Reminiscences,

it was established for the regiments of Foot Guards, and was conducted on a military system. Billiards and low whist were the only games indulged in. The dinner was, perhaps, better than at most clubs, and considerably cheaper.

Close by the Guards' Club, and adjoining the grounds of Marlborough House, is the new building belonging to the [extra_illustrations.4.144.1] , which was erected in . The edifice is storeys high. It is built of Portland stone; the base and columns of the entrance are of polished Aberdeen granite, and over the doorway at each side are life-sized recumbent female figures supporting shields bearing medallions of Nelson and Wellington; whilst over the centre of the doorway is a huge lion's head with the head of a

child betwixt its jaws. On the right side of the entrance hall, which is paved with encaustic tiles, is the smoking-room, and in the rear is a noble dining-room. The entire frontage of the floor is occupied by the morning-room; in the rear is the billiard-room. The floor consists of billiard and card rooms, and bed-rooms for members, others being also on the and floors. In the rear of the floor a large roof or flat has been carried out, overlooking the grounds of Marlborough House; this is paved with encaustic tiles, and during the summer it can be converted into a covered lounge for smokers.

[extra_illustrations.4.145.1] -or rather a part of it-covers the site of what was once Nell Gwynne's house. Pennant thus describes it:

As to Nell Gwynne, not having the honour to be on the Queen's establishment, she was obliged to keep her distance (from the Court) at her house in

Pall Mall

. It is the

first

good

one

on the left hand of

St. James's Square

, as we enter from

Pall Mall

. The back room on the ground floor was within memory (he wrote in

1790

), entirely of lookingglass, as was said to have been the ceiling also. Over the chimney was her picture, and that of her

sister was in a

third

room. At the period I mention this house was the property of Thomas Brand, Esq., of the Hoo, in Hertfordshire

--an ancestor, we may add, of the Lords Dacre.

This club--which bears the colloquial nickname of the

Rag and Famish,

arising out of a joke in --was originally held at a private mansion in , and the present club-house was finished in , at the cost of nearly . The house is luxuriously furnished, and the smokingroom has the reputation of being of the best in London.

The

United Service

,

which was established
as far back as the end of the war in , stands at the corner of and the opening into . This club took its rise, says the author of

London Clubs,

when so many of the officers of the army and navy were thrown out of commission. Their habits, from old mess-room associations, being gregarious, and their reduced incomes no longer affording the luxuries of the camp or barrack-room on full pay, the late Lord Lynedoch, on their position being represented to him, was led to propose some such institution as a mess-room, in peace, for the benefit of his old companions in arms. A few other officers of influence

p.146

in both branches of the service concurred, and the [extra_illustrations.4.146.1]  was the result. It was established at the corner of , , where the junior establishment of the same name now stands; but the funds soon becoming large, and the number of candidates for admission rapidly increasing, the present large and classic edifice was erected. The building, which is devoid of much architectural embellishment--the decorations being simple almost to severity--was erected from the designs of Mr. John Nash.

This is considered to be of the most commodious, economical, and best managed of all the London club-houses. Among the pictures that adorn the walls of the principal rooms are Clarkson Stanfield's

Battle of Trafalgar,

and the

Battle of Waterloo,

by George Jones, R.A. There are also several portraits of the sovereigns of England, of the Stuart and Brunswick lines. Among them are James I., James II., Charles II., William III., and Queen Mary, original picture, by Sir Godfrey Kneller; Queen Anne, the Georges, William IV., and Queen Victoria, by Sir Francis Grant; and an original portrait of the late Prince Consort, by J. Lucas. The members of this club consist of princes of the blood royal, and officers of the army, navy, marines, regular, militia, and Her Majesty's Indian Forces, of the rank of commander in the navy, or major in the army, in active service or retired; the lords lieutenants of counties in Great Britain and Ireland, &c., are also eligible.

The

Junior United Service

,

although perhaps not quite within the limits of

Club-land,

standing as it does at the corner of and Waterloo Place--may be introduced here. It was established in , to provide for officers not of field rank, and also for those general officers whom the Senior Club was unable to receive. The house was rebuilt and enlarged in , from the designs of Messrs. Nelson and Innes. The club accommodates fully as many members as the old club, as well as or additional, or

supernumeraries.

Many of the senior members of each club now belong to both, it having been considered a high honour, when the Junior was established, for the more distinguished individuals in the ranks of the Senior Club to be elected as honorary members, although those belonging to the new institution could not, of course, attain a similar distinction, unless of the requisite grade.

The Travellers' Club dates its existence from the year . Sir Charles Barry was the architect of the club-house, which was built in the year . In it had a narrow escape from destruction by fire; the damage, however, was principally confined to the billiard-room, in which it originated. This club is exceedingly select, numbering among its members the highest branches of the peerage, and the most distinguished of the lower House of Parliament. It consists of only about members, but they are amongst the of the land; and Talleyrand, with some of the most eminent representatives of foreign powers, have been enrolled in the list of its honorary members. When ambassador to this country from the French Court, the veteran diplomatist was wont to pass his leisure hours at this favourite retreat in , and, we are told,

steered his way as triumphantly through all the mazes of whist and

scare

-, as he had done amid the intricacies of the

thirteen

different forms of government, each of which he had sworn to observe.

The

Oxford and Cambridge,

in , midway on the

sweet shady side,

and the

United University,

at the corner of , in , may both be mentioned together as being restricted to University men, and, indeed, to such only as are members of Oxford or Cambridge. The former is a handsome structure, and was built from the joint designs of Mr. Sidney Smirke and his brother, Sir Robert. In panels over the upper windows, in number, are a series of bas-reliefs, executed by Mr. Nicholl, who was also employed on those of the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. The subject of that at the east end of the building is Homer; then follow Bacon and Shakespeare. The centre panel contains a group of Apollo and the Muses, with Minerva on his right hand, and a female, personifying the fountain Hippocrene, on his left. The remaining panels represent Milton, Newton, and Virgil. The

Oxford and Cambridge,

which is the more recent of the in its origin-having been established in , whereas the

University

dates from --consists chiefly of the younger spirits of the universities, and is less

donnish.

The other is, for the most part, composed of the old and graver members. The serious members of Parliament who have received university education are almost invariably to be found in the latter. It also contains a considerable number of the judges, and no small portion of the beneficed and dignified clergy.

The

Union,

at the corner of and , is of the oldest of the clubs, and for many years enjoyed the reputation of being of the most of all. It was founded in , and consists of politicians, and the higher order of professional and commercial men, without reference to party opinions. The

p.147

club-house itself was built in , from the designs of the late Sir Robert Smirke, R.A.

The

Athenaeum

was established in , and the club-house, built by Mr. Decimus Burton, was opened about years later. The building showed considerable progress with regard to ornateness and finish, for it presented the then somewhat extravagant novelty of a sculptured frieze. It is surmounted by an imposing statue of Minerva, by Baily, R.A. In the interior the chief feature is the staircase. The library, as perhaps maybe expected, is very extensive, consisting of several volumes. A sum of a year from the funds of the club was, several years ago, voted to be set apart for the purchase of new works of merit in literature and art. Above the mantelpiece is a portrait of George IV., painted by Lawrence, upon which he was engaged but a few hours previous to his decease, the last bit of colour this celebrated artist ever put upon canvas being that of the hilt and sword-knot of the girdle; thus it remains, unfinished.

The expense of building the club-house, we are told, was , and for furnishing; the plate, linen, and glass cost ; library, ; and the stock of wine in the cellar is usually worth . The yearly revenue is about . It does not admit strangers to its dining-room under any circumstances. The economical management of the club has not, however, been effected without a few sallies of humour from various quarters. In we read,

The mixture of Whigs and Radicals,

savants

, foreigners, dandies, authors, soldiers, sailors, lawyers, artists, doctors, and members of both Houses of Parliament, together with an exceedingly good average supply of bishops, render the

melange

very agreeable, despite some

two

or

three

bores, who

continually do dine,

and who, not satisfied with getting a

6s.

dinner for

3s. 6d.

,

continually do complain.

The

Athenaeum

was founded by a number of gentlemen connected with the learned professions and higher order of the fine arts and literature; and, with the exception, perhaps, of the

United Service,

it is the most select establishment of the kind in London. Previous to the year , if we except the occasional festive gatherings of the Royal Society, there was no place in London where those gentlemen who were more interested in art and literature than in politics could meet together for social intercourse. To remedy this acknowledged want, a preliminary meeting was held in the February of that year, at the rooms of the Royal Society, at , at which it was resolved to institute a literary club. Among those present were Sir Walter Scott, Sir Francis Chantrey, Richard Heber, Thomas Moore, Davis Gilbert, Mr. J. W. Croker, Sir Humphry Davy, Lord Dover, Sir Henry Halford, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Joseph Jekyll, and other well-known celebrities. It was at called

The Society,

but the name was subsequently changed to its present. Its members made their rendezvous at the Clarence Club until .

For many years after its establishment, smoking was not permitted within the walls of this club. At last, however, about , a concession was made, and a smoking-room added-apart, however, from the rest of the house, a part of the garden on the south front being sacrificed.

The number of ordinary members is fixed at . Samuel Rogers and Thomas Campbell, the poets, were among its earliest members, and Theodore Hook, too, was also of its most popular members. Almost all the judges, bishops, and members of the Cabinet belong to it; and the committee have the privilege of electing annually, without ballot, persons, eminent in art, science, or literature. It is said that at the

Athenaeum

the dinners fell off in number by upwards of yearly after Theodore Hook disappeared from his favourite corner near the door of its coffee-room.

That is to say,

observes of his biographers,

there must have been some dozens of gentlemen who chose to dine there once or twice every week of the season, merely for the chance of his being there, and allowing them to draw their chairs to his little table in the course of the evening. The corner alluded to will, we suppose, long retain the name which it derived from him,

Temperance Corner.

It may be added, by way of explanation, that when Hook wanted brandy or whisky, he asked for it under the name of tea or lemonade, in order not to shock the grave and dignified persons who were members of the

Athenaeum

in his day.

A falling-off in the number of its members being at time anticipated, says the writer of an able article in the , a report was foolishly set abroad that

the finest thing in the world was to belong to the

Athenaeum,

and that an opportunity offered for hobnobbing with archbishops, and hearing Theodore Hook's jokes. Consequently, all the little crawlers and parasites; and gentility-hunters, from all corners of London, set out upon the creep; and they crept in at the windows, and they crept down the area steps, and they crept in, unseen, at the doors, and they crept in under bishops' sleeves, and they crept in in

Athenaeum--Drawing Room

Athenaeum--Hall

peers' pockets, and they were blown in by the winds of chance. The consequence has been that

ninety-nine

hundredths of this club are people who rather seek to obtain a sort of standing by belonging to the

Athenaeum,

than to give it lustre by the talents of its members.

Nine

-tenths of the intellectual writers of the age would be certainly black-balled by the dunces. Notwithstanding all this, and partly on account of this, the

Athenaeum

is a capital club. The library is certainly the best club library in London, and is a great advantage to a man who writes.

As may well be supposed from its literary constituency, no modern club in London, except the Garrick, is richer than the Athenaeum in anecdotes and . In the library of this club loungingchairs, writing-tables, and like conveniences are abundantly provided; and it was in some such apartment as this, probably in this identical room, where creditors pressed him, that, as we are told,

the unhappy, the defiant, the scorning, but eventually scorned and neglected Theodore Hook wrote the greater part of his novels, undisturbed by all the buzz and hum of the more fortunate butterflies around.

Mr. E. Jesse used to tell a story to the effect that Thomas Campbell, the poet, was led home evening from the Athenaeum Club by a friend. There had been a heavy storm of rain, and the kennels were full of water. Campbell fell into of them at the steps of the club, and pulled his friend after him, who exclaimed, in allusion to a well-known line of the poet's,

It is not

I

ser rolling rapidly, but

We

ser.

The

Athenaeum

has reckoned among its members at least half of the illustrious names of the last half century; among others, Mr. D'Israeli, Lord Granville, Lord Coleridge, Thackeray, Sir John Bowring, Sir Roderick Murchison, Sir Benjamin Brodie, Sir Charles Wheatstone, Dr. Hooker, Sir Henry Holland, George Grote; Professors Sedgwick, Darwin, Tyndal, Huxley, Willis, Owen, Phillips, Maurice, and Conington; Lord Lytton, Macaulay, Bishop Thirlwall, Charles Dickens, Dean Stanley, Lord Shaftesbury, Bishop Wilberforce, Lord Romilly, Ruskin, Maclise, Serjeant Kinglake, Dean Milman, Lord Mayo, and Sir Edwin Landseer. The secretary was no less eminent a person than Professor Faraday, but he retained the post only for a year.

In -during the exciting era which culminated in the passing of the Reform Billthe friends of the Constitution, somewhat alarmed perhaps at the

sweeping measures

which were supposed to be about to follow, founded the

Carlton,

bestowing upon it this name from the terrace where the club was originally held. In the April of the above year we find the following entry in Mr. Raikes's

Journal:

--

A new Tory club has just been formed, for which Lord Kensington's house in

Carlton Gardens

has been taken. The object is to have a counterbalancing meeting to

Brooks's,

which is purely a Whig

reunion;

White's,

which was formerly devoted to the other side, being now of no colour, and frequented indiscriminately by all (parties).

The club-house, built from the designs of Mr. Sydney Smirke and his brother, Sir Robert, was finished about . It bears upon its exterior a degree of richness almost unprecedented in the metropolitan architecture. The facade in is upwards of feet in length, with windows on a floor; between each of the windows are columns of highly polished red Peterhead granite. The design is said to be founded on the east front of the Library of St. Mark's at Venice.

[extra_illustrations.4.148.1]  is the head-quarters of Conservative, as the Reform Club is of Liberal politics. [extra_illustrations.4.148.2]  in was --started for the reception of the Tory rank and file, but in congregate the leading men of the party. Here are concerted the great political

moves

which are to upset a Whig or Liberal Administration; here the grand mysterious tactics of a general election are determined upon, and here are the vast sums subscribed which are to put the whole forces of the party in motion in the country boroughs. This club still retains its original name, though removed from the lordly terrace which gave rise to it, to the

shady side of

Pall Mall

.

Passing to what may be called the

inner life

of the club, we may state that the head of its was a French

artist

who had lived with the Duc d'Escars, chief to Louis XVIII., and who is said to have made that famous which killed his master.

The

Reform,

which is situated between the

Carlton

and the

Athenaeum,

was built from the designs of the late Sir Charles Barry, R.A., and was for a long time considered of the

lions

of the metropolis. The style is purely Italian, and partakes largely of the character of many of the celebrated palaces in Italy. The building is chiefly remarkable for simplicity of design, combined with grandeur of effect, as well as for the convenience and elegance of its internal arrangements. It differs from most of the other club-houses, in having ranges of windows above the ground floor instead of a single range. The latter feature has been regarded as rendering the metropolitan

p.149

club-houses eminently characteristic of their purpose, and highly favourable to architectural dignity. [extra_illustrations.4.149.1] 

On the establishment of the

Reform

by the Liberal party, Gwydyr House, in , was hired, and in that mansion the club was located until the present club-house was erected. This, although of severe simplicity, by the utter absence of exterior ornament, is nevertheless an imposing structure. Some critics, indeed, have compared it to an inverted chest of drawers; but the chief beauty of the Reform Club is . On entering the vestibule is immediately struck by the splendid proportions of the hall and the elegance of the staircase, reminding of the magnificent of Versailles and of the glories of the Louvre. In the upper part of the building are a certain number of

dormitories

set apart for those who pass their whole existence amid club gossip and politics- of the peculiarities of the establishment.

The author of

The London Clubs

writes--

It is in the lower regions, where Soyer reigns supreme, that the true glories of the Reform Club consist; and here the divine art of cookery--or, as he himself styles it, gastronomy--is to be seen in all its splendour. Heliogabalus himself never gloated over such a kitchen; for steam is here introduced and made to supply the part of man. In state the great dignitary sits, and issues his inspiring orders to a body of lieutenants, each of whom has pretensions to be considered a chef in himself. Gardez les rotis, les entremets sont perdus, was never more impressively uttered by Cambaceres, when tormented by Napoleon detaining him from dinner, than are the orders issued by Soyer for preparing the refection of some modern attorney; and all the energies of the vast establishment are at once called into action to obey them-steam eventually conducting the triumphs of the cook's art from the scene of its production to a recess adjoining the dining-room, where all is to disappear.

Soyer is, indeed, the glory of the edifice-the genus loci. Peers and plebeian gourmands alike penetrate into the recesses of the kitchen to render him homage; and, conscious of his dignity, --or, at least, of his power-he receives them with all the calm assurance of the Grand Monarque himself. Louis XIV., in the plenitude of his glory, was never more impressive; and yet there is an aspect-we shall not say assumption-of modesty about the great chef, as he loved to be designated, which is positively wondrous, when we reflect that we stand in the presence of the great Gastronomic Regenerator --the last of his titles, and that by which, we presume, he would wish by posterity to be known. Soyer, indeed, is a man of discrimination, and taste, and genius. He was led to conceive the idea of his immortal work, he tells us, by observing in the elegant library of an accomplished nobleman the works of Shakespeare, Milton, and Johnson, in gorgeous bindings, but wholly dust-clad and overlooked, while a book on cookery bore every indication of being daily consulted and revered. This is fame, exclaimed Soyer, seizing the happy inference; and forthwith betaking himself to his chambers and to meditation, his divine work on Gastronomic Regeneration was the result.

The breakfast given by the Reform Club on the occasion of the Queen's coronation obtained for Soyer high commendation; and in his O'Connell dinner, the

souffles a la Clontarf

were considered by gastronomes to be a rich bit of satire. The banquet to Ibrahim Pacha, in , was another of Soyer's great successes, when

Merlans a l'Egyptienne,

La Creme d'Egypte,

and

i l'Ibrahim Pacha,

mingled with

Le Gateau Britannique a l'Admiral (Napier).

Another famous banquet was that given to Admiral Sir Charles Napier, in , as Commander of the Baltic Fleet; and the banquet given in , to Viscount Palmerston, who was a popular leader of the Reform, was, gastronomically as well as politically, a brilliant triumph. It was upon this occasion that Mr. Bernal Osborne characterised the Palmerston policy in this quotation:--

Warmed by the instincts of a knightly heart, That roused at once if insult touched the realm, He spurned each state-craft, each deceiving art, And met his foes no visor to his helm. This proved his worth, hereafter be our boast-- Who hated Britons, hated him the most.

The following description of the [extra_illustrations.4.150.1]  is from the pen of Viscountess de Malleville, and appeared originally in the :--

It is spacious as a ball-room, kept in the finest order, and white as a young bird. All-powerful steam, the noise of which salutes your ear as you enter, here performs a variety of offices. It diffuses an uniform heat to large rows of dishes, warms the metal plates upon which are disposed the dishes that have been called for, and that are in waiting to be sent above; it turns the spit, draws the water, carries up the coal, and moves the plate like an intelligent and indefatigable servant. Stay awhile before this octagonal apparatus, which occupies the centre of the place. Around you the water boils and the stew-pans bubble, and a little further on is a movable furnace, before

which pieces of meat are converted into savoury

rotis

. here are sauces and gravies, stews, broths, soups, &c. In the distance are Dutch ovens, marble mortars, lighted stoves, iced plates of metal for fish, and various compartments for vegetables, fruits, roots, and spices. After this inadequate, though prodigious, nomenclature, the reader may perhaps picture to himself a state of general confusion--a disordered assemblage, resembling that of a heap of oyster-shells. If so, he is mistaken; for, in fact, you see very little or scarcely anything of all the objects above described. The order of their arrangement is so perfect, their distribution

Entrance To The Carlton Club.

as a whole, and in their relative bearings to

one

another, all are so intelligently considered, that you require the aid of a guide to direct you in exploring them, and a good deal of time to classify in your mind all your discoveries. Let all strangers who come to London for business, or pleasure, or curiosity, or for whatever cause, not fail to visit the Reform Club. In an age of utilitarianism and of the search for the comfortable like ours, there is more to be learned here than in the ruins of the Coliseum, of the Parthenon, or of Memphis.

Thackeray was a member of the Reform, the Atheneum, and Garrick Clubs-perhaps of others,

p.151

p.152

but it was in those here named that his leisure was usually spent.

The afternoons of the last week of his life,

writes of his biographers,

were almost entirely passed at the Reform Club, and never had he been more genial or in such apparently happy moods. Many men sitting in the libraries and dining-rooms of these clubs have thought this week of

one

of the tenderest passages in his early sketches--

Brown the Younger at a Club

---in which the old uncle is represented as telling his nephew, while showing him the various rooms in the club, of those who had dropped off --whose names had appeared at the end of the club list, under the dismal head of

members deceased,

in which (added Thackeray)

you and I shall rank some day.

Among the latest additions to the batch of clubs that line are the

Junior Carlton

and the

Marlborough.

The former, which was established in , numbers about member;. It is a political club, in strict connection with the Conservative party, and designed to promote its objects; and the only persons eligible for admission are those who profess Conservative principles, and acknowledge the recognised leaders of the Conservative party. The

Marlborough

so named in honour of the Prince of Wales-was started about , and numbers among its members the Prince of Wales and several of the aristocratic patrons of the turf.

Whatever may have been the

rules and regulations

of the now defunct species of club of the last century-such as the

Essex Street

,

the

Literary,

and others of which we have spoken in the previous volume--a wide difference exists between them and those of the present day in the matter of bacchanalian festivities. It may with truth be said that high play and high feeding are no longer the rules; in fact, clubs are to many persons even dull and unsociable. In most of the clubs of the Johnsonian period, the flow of wine or other liquor was far more abundant than that of mind, and the conversation was generally more easy and hilarious than intellectual and refined. The bottle, or else the punch-bowl, played by far too prominent a part, and sociality too frequently took the form of revelry-or, at least, what would be considered such according to our more temperate habits. Though in general the elder clubs encouraged habits of free indulgence as indispensable to good fellowship and sociality, the modern clubs, on the contrary, have done much to discourage them, as low and ungentlemanly.

Reeling home from a club

used formerly to be a common expression, whereas now inebriety, or the symptom of it, in a club-house, would bring down disgrace upon him who should be guilty of such an indiscretion.

The pleasures and comforts of clubs and clublife to the bachelor whose means and position allow of such luxuries have been often graphically and humorously described in serious and ephemeral publications for the past century and a half, but nowhere in a more amusing manner than in the

New Monthly Magazine,

in ; and it has been wittily observed by Mrs. Gore in of her novels that,

after all, clubs are not altogether so bad a thing for family-men; they act as conductors to the storms usually hovering in the air. There is nothing like the subordination exercised in a community of equals for reducing a fiery temper.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] See Vol. III., p. 277.

[] See Vol. III., p. 20.

[extra_illustrations.4.142.1] Lord Stanhope afterwards Earl of Chesterfield

[extra_illustrations.4.144.1] Junior Naval and Military Club

[extra_illustrations.4.145.1] The Army and Navy Club

[extra_illustrations.4.146.1] United Service Club

[extra_illustrations.4.148.1] The Carlton

[extra_illustrations.4.148.2] The Conservative Club

[extra_illustrations.4.149.1] Reform Club--Corridors

[extra_illustrations.4.150.1] kitchen of the Reform Club

View all images in this book
 Title Page
 Chapter I: Westminster: A Survey of the City: Millbank, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter II: Westminster.-Tothill Fields and Neighbourhood
 Chapter III: Westminster.-King Street, Great George Street, and the Broad Sanctuary
 Chapter IV: Modern Westminster
 Chapter V: St. James's Park
 Chapter VI: Buckingham Palace
 Chapter VII: The Mall and Spring Gardens
 Chapter VIII: Carlton House
 Chapter IX: St. James's Palace
 Chapter X: St. James's Palace (continued)
 Chapter XI: Pall Mall
 Chapter XII: Pall-Mall.-Club-Land
 Chapter XIII: St. James's Street.-Club-Land (continued)
 Chapter XIV: St. James's Street and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XV: St. James's Square and its Distinguished Residents
 Chapter XVI: The Neighbourhood of St. James's Square
 Chapter XVII: Waterloo Place and Her Majesty's Theatre
 Chapter XVIII: The Haymarket
 Chapter XIX: Pall Mall East, Suffolk Street, &c.
 Chapter XX: Golden Square and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXI: Regent Street and Piccadilly
 Chapter XXII: Piccadilly.-Burlington House
 Chapter XXIII: Noble Mansions in Piccadilly
 Chapter XXIV: Piccadilly: Northern Tributaries
 Chapter XXV: Hanover Square and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXVI: Berkeley Square, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXVII: Grosvenor Square, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XXVIII: May Fair
 Chapter XXIX: Apsley House and Park Lane
 Chapter XXX: Hyde Park
 Chapter XXXI: Hyde Park (continued)
 Chapter XXXII: Oxford Street, and its Northern Tributaries
 Chapter XXXIII: Oxford Street.-Northern Tributaries (continued)
 Chapter XXXIV: Oxford Street, and its Northern Tributaries (continued)
 Chapter XXXV: Oxford Street East.-Northern Tributaries
 Chapter XXXVI: Oxford Street: Northern Tributaries.-Tottenham Court Road
 Chapter XXXVII: Bloomsbury.-General Remarks
 Chapter XXXVIII: The British Museum
 Chapter XXXIX: The British Museum (continued)
 Chapter XL: The British Museum (continued)
 Chapter XLI: Bloomsbury Square and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XLII: Red Lion Square, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XLIII: Queen Square, Great Ormond Street, &c.
 Chapter XLIV: Russell and Bedford Squares, &c.
 Chapter XLV: Gordon and Tavistock Squares, &c.
This object is in collection:
Edwin C. Bolles papers
Subjects
London (England)--Description and Travel
London --England
Permanent URL
http://hdl.handle.net/10427/14824
ID: tufts:UA069.005.DO.00063
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