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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 enquiring 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 farther 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 Inentioning 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 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 don't 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 laws 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.
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.
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 upon the shins.
V. If any member tells stories in the club that are not true, he shall forfeit for every third lie, an halfpenny.
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 come 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 with 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 Nonjurer 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 convivales of Ben Jonson, the regulations of an old Roman club cited by Lipsius, or the rules of a Symposium in an ancient Greek author.
No. X. MONDAY, MARCH 12.
Non aliter quam qui adverso vix flumine lembuin
So the boat's brawny crew the current stem,
IT is with much satisfaction that I hear this great city enquiring day by day after these my papers, and receiving my morning lectures with a becoming seriousness and attention. My publisher tells me, that there are already three thousand of them distributed every day; so that 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 Westmister, 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 reason I shall endeavour to enliven morality with wit, and to tenper 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. It was said of So. crates, that he brought philosophy down from heaven, to inhabit among men; and I shall be ambitious to have it said of me, that I have brought philosophy out of closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and in coffee-houses.
I would, therefore, in a very particular manner, recommend these my speculations to all well-regulated families that set apart an hour in every morning for tea and bread and butter; and would earnestly advise them for their good, to order this paper to be punctually served up, and to be looked upon as a part of the tea-equipage.
Sir Francis Bacon observes, that a well-written book, compared with its rivals and antagonists, is like Moses's serpent, that immediately swallowed up and devoured those of the Egyptians. I shall not be so vain as to think that, where the Spectator appears, the other public prints will vanish; but shall leave it to my reader's consideration, whether it is not much better to be let into the knowledge of one's self, than to hear what passes in Muscovy or Poland; and to amuse ourselves with such writings as tend to the wearing out of ignorance, passion, and prejudice, than such as naturally conduce to inflame hatreds, and make enmities irreconcileable !
In the next place, I would recommend this paper to the daily perusal of those gentlemen whom I cannot but consider as my good brothers and allies, I mean the fraternity of spectators, who live in the world without having any thing to do in it; and either by the affluence of their fortunes, or laziness of their dispositions, have no other business with the rest of mankind but to look upon them. Under this class of men are comprehended all contemplative Tradesmen, titular Physicians, Fellows of the Royal Society, Templars that are not given to be contentious, and States