The Club (Literary Club)

The Club (Literary Club)



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The Club was a London dining club founded in February 1764 by the artist Joshua Reynolds and essayist Samuel Johnson.

Description

Initially, the club would meet one evening per week at seven, at the Turk's Head Inn in Gerrard Street, Soho. Later, meetings were reduced to once per fortnight whilst Parliament was in session, and were held at rooms in St James's Street. Though the initial suggestion was Reynolds', it is Dr Johnson whose name is most closely associated with the Club. John Timbs, in his "Club Life in London", gives an account of the Club's centennial dinner in 1864, which was celebrated at the Clarendon hotel. Henry Hart Milman, the English historian, was treasurer. The Club's toast, no doubt employing a bit of wishful thinking, was "Esto perpetua".

Members

The nine original members were:


*Joshua Reynolds: artist
*Samuel Johnson: essayist, lexicographer
*Edmund Burke: writer, later M.P.
*Dr. Christopher Nugent
*Topham Beauclerk
*Bennet Langton
*Oliver Goldsmith: professor
*Anthony Chamier
*John Hawkins: author
Hereafter membership was by unanimous election only. Existing members would submit a black ball if a nominee was disfavored. Shortly following the establishment of the original nine, Samuel Dyer became the first elected member. Hawkins left in 1768, suffering ostracism for his verbal abuse of Burke. Membership was then increased to 12; the new seats were filled by barrister Robert Chambers, and writers Thomas Percy and George Colman. A membership of 12 was deemed optimal to retain a qualitative exclusivity. Of Johnson's goal, Percy claimed:

It was intended the Club should consist of Such men, as that if only Two of them chanced to meet, they should be able to entertain each other without wanting the addition of more Company to pass the Evening agreeably.

Later member Charles Burney wrote that Johnson wanted a group "composed of the heads of every liberal and literary profession" and "have somebody to refer to in our doubts and discussions, by whose Science we might be enlightened."

The Club grew to 16 members in 1773, then to 21 in late 1775. Newly elected were: David Garrick, Adam Smith (economist, philosopher), Sir William Jones (philologist), George Steevens, (Shakespearean commentator), James Boswell (diarist, author), Charles James Fox (M.P.), George Fordyce (physician/chemist), James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont, Agmondesham Vesey, Sir Thomas Charles Bunbury, Edward Gibbon (author), and Thomas Barnard. [Sambrook, "ODNB".]

By 1791, the membership recorded by James Boswell included:


*Lord Charlemont
*Bishop Thomas Percy
*Charles Fox
*George Fordyce
*Joseph Banks
*Edward Gibbon
*Joseph Warton
*Lord Spencer
*Lord Palmerston

The 19th century

The historian Henry Reeve recorded details of Club membership in his diaries.

Members in the 1800s included:


*George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen
*Henry Petty-FitzMaurice, 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne
*Charles Eastlake
*Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux (March_9, 1830)
*Philip Stanhope, 5th Earl Stanhope (May 14, 1833)
*Henry Hart Milman (February 23, 1836)
*Sir Henry Holland (February 18, 1840)
*William Whewell
*Charles Austin (March 7, 1843)
*Thomas Pemberton Leigh, 1st Baron Kingsdown (February 25, 1845)
*George Villiers, 4th Earl of Clarendon (May 20, 1845)
*Richard Owen (May 20, 1845)
*Sylvain Van de Weyer (February 9, 1847)
*Sir David Dundas (February 23, 1847)
*Harry Powlett, 4th Duke of Cleveland (June 5, 1849)
*Samuel Wilberforce (June 5, 1849)
*Samuel Jones-Loyd, 1st Baron Overstone (June 25, 1850)
*George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll (June 17, 1851)
*Robert Rolfe, 1st Baron Cranworth (June 17, 1851)
*Sir William Stirling-Maxwell (February 21, 1854)
*William Gladstone (March 10, 1857)
*John Russell, 1st Earl Russell (April 21, 1857)
*George Grote, (March 9, 1858)
*Edward Stanley, Lord Stanley (February 14, 1860)
*William Wood, 1st Baron Hatherley (February 14, 1860)
*George Richmond (February 14, 1860)
*Archibald Campbell Tait (April 9, 1861)
*Henry Reeve (April 9, 1861)
*Roderick Murchison (June 18, 1861)
*Edmund Walker Head (February 25, 1862)
*Robert Lowe, 1st Viscount Sherbrooke (May 12, 1863)
*Spencer Walpole (March 8, 1864)
*Arthur Penrhyn Stanley (February 28, 1865)
*James Anthony Froude (February 28, 1865)
*Henri d'Orléans, duc d'Aumale (March 14, 1865)
*Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (March 14, 1865)
*Hugh Cairns, 1st Earl Cairns (February 27, 1866)
*Edward Twisleton (April 24, 1866)
*Charles Thomas Newton (March 4, 1879)
*Joseph Dalton Hooker (March 4, 1879)
*Matthew Arnold (February 28, 1882)
*Joseph Boehm (November 27, 1888)
*Edward Maunde Thompson (November 27, 1888)
*William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin (April 26, 1892) [cite book
last = Mountstuart Elphinstone
first = Grant Duff
authorlink = Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff
title = Notes from a diary, 1892-1895
publisher = Dutton
date = 1904
pages = i 41
]

By 1881, the members of the club included John Tyndall, Sir Frederic Leighton, and Lord Houghton, with Henry Reeve serving as treasurer. Other prominent 19th century members included Lord Macauly, Thomas Huxley, Lord Acton, Lord Dufferin, W. H. E. Lecky, and Prime Minister Lord Salisbury.

The 20th Century

Winston Churchill and F. E. Smith had both desired to join The Club but were considered too controversial. In response, in 1911, they founded The Other Club, which continues to maintain itself as a political dining society.

Notes

References

*"Life of Johnson", James Boswell, 1791
*" The life and selections from the correspondence of William Whewell", Janet Mary Douglas, 1881
* [ftp://ftp.mirrorservice.org/sites/ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/docs/books/gutenberg/etext04/nntvl10.txt "Inns and Taverns of Old London"] , Henry C. Shelley
* [http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/9803 "Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Henry Reeve"] , John Knox Laughton
*"The Clubs of London", "National Review", Article III, April 1857
* James Sambrook, "Club ("act". 1764-1784)," "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", online edition, Oxford Univ. Press, Jan. 2007 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/theme/49211] . cited as 'Sambrook, "ODNB"'.

External links

* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=45145 Old and New London: Volume 3] at British History Online


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