Page:EB1911 - Volume 06.djvu/586

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567
CLUB

the members, each man’s liability ending for the time being when he had paid his “score” after the meal; (2) no permanent club-house, though each clique tended to make some special coffee-house or tavern their headquarters. These coffee-house clubs soon became hotbeds of political scandal-mongering and intriguing, and in 1675 Charles II. issued a proclamation which ran, “His Majesty hath thought fit and necessary that coffee houses be (for the future) put down and suppressed,” owing to the fact “that in such houses divers false, malitious and scandalous reports are devised and spread abroad to the Defamation of his Majesty’s Government and to the Disturbance of Peace and Quiet of the Realm.” So unpopular was this proclamation that it was almost instantly found necessary to withdraw it, and by Anne’s reign the coffee-house club was a feature of England’s social life.

From the 18th-century clubs two types have been evolved. (1) The social and dining clubs, permanent institutions with fixed club-house. The London coffee-house clubs in increasing their members absorbed the whole accommodation of the coffee-house or tavern where they held their meetings, and this became the club-house, often retaining the name of the original keeper, e.g. White’s, Brooks’s, Arthur’s, Boodle’s. The modern club, sometimes proprietary, i.e. owned by an individual or private syndicate, but more frequently owned by the members who delegate to a committee the management of its affairs, first reached its highest development in London, where the district of St James’s has long been known as “Clubland”; but the institution has spread all over the English-speaking world. (2) Those clubs which have but occasional or periodic meetings and often possess no club-house, but exist primarily for some specific object. Such are the many purely athletic, sports and pastimes clubs, the Jockey Club, the Alpine, chess, yacht and motor clubs. Then there are literary clubs, musical and art clubs, publishing clubs; and the name of “club” has been annexed by a large group of associations which fall between the club proper and mere friendly societies, of a purely periodic and temporary nature, such as slate, goose and Christmas clubs, which are not required to be registered under the Friendly Societies Act.

Thus it is seen that the modern club has little in common with its prototypes in the 18th century. Of those which survive in London the following may be mentioned: White’s, originally established in 1698 as White’s Chocolate House, became the headquarters of the Tory party, but is to-day no longer political. Brooks’s (1764), originally the resort of the Whigs, is no longer strictly associated with Liberalism. Boodle’s (1762) had a tradition of being the resort of country gentlemen, and especially of masters of foxhounds. Arthur’s (1765), originally an offshoot of White’s, has always been purely social. The Cocoa Tree (1746) also survives as a social resort. Social clubs, without club-houses, are represented by the Literary Club (“The Club”), founded in 1764 by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dr Johnson, and such recent institutions as the Johnson Club, Ye Sette of Odd Volumes (founded by Bernard Quaritch) and many others.

The number of regularly established clubs in London is now upwards of a hundred. Of these the more important, with the dates of their establishment, are: Army and Navy (1837); Athenaeum (1824), founded by Sir Walter Scott and Thomas Moore “for the association of individuals known for their scientific or literary attainments, artists of eminence in any class of the fine arts, and noblemen and gentlemen distinguished as liberal patrons of science, literature or the arts”; Bachelors’ (1881); Carlton (1832), the chief Conservative club; City Carlton (1868); Conservative (1840); Constitutional (1883); Devonshire (1875); East India United Service (1849); Garrick (1831), “for the general patronage of the drama, for bringing together the supporters of the drama, and for the formation of a theatrical library with works on costume”; Guards (1813); Junior Athenaeum (1864); Junior Carlton (1864); Marlborough (1869); National Liberal (1882); Oriental (1824); Oxford and Cambridge (1830); Reform (1837), formerly the Liberal headquarters; Savage (1857); St James’s (1857), diplomatic; Travellers’ (1819), for which a candidate must have “travelled out of the British Islands to a distance of at least 500 m. from London in a direct line”; Turf (1868); Union (1822); United Service (1815); Wellington (1885); Windham (1828). Almost every interest, rank and profession has its club. Thus there is a Press Club, a Fly-Fishers’ Club, a Gun Club, an Authors’, a Farmers’, a Lawyers’ (the Eldon) and a Bath Club. Of the purely women’s clubs the most important are the Alexandra (1884), the Empress (1897), Lyceum (1904) and Ladies’ Army & Navy (1904); while the Albemarle and the Sesame have a leading place among clubs for men and women. Of political clubs having no club-house, the best known are the Cobden (Free Trade, 1866); the Eighty (Liberal, 1880) and the United (Unionist, 1886). There are clubs in all important provincial towns, and at Edinburgh the New Club (1787), and in Dublin the Kildare Street (1790), rival those of London.

The mode of election of members varies. In some clubs the committee alone have the power of choosing new members. In others the election is by ballot of the whole club, one black ball in ten ordinarily excluding. In the Athenaeum, whilst the principle of election by ballot of the whole club obtains, the duty is also cast upon the committee of annually selecting nine members who are to be “of distinguished eminence in science, literature or the arts, or for public services,” and the rule makes stringent provision for the conduct of these elections. On the committee of the same club is likewise conferred power to elect without ballot princes of the blood royal, cabinet ministers, bishops, the speaker of the House of Commons, judges, &c.

The affairs of clubs are managed by committees constituted of the trustees, who are usually permanent members, and of ordinarily twenty-four other members, chosen by the club at large, one-third of whom go out of office annually. These committees have plenary powers to deal with the affairs of the club committed to their charge, assembling weekly to transact current business and audit the accounts. Once a year a meeting of the whole club is held, before which a report is laid, and any action taken thereupon which may be necessary. (See J. Wertheimer, The Law relating to Clubs, 1903; and Sir E. Carson on Club law, in vol. iii. of The Laws of England, 1909.)

Previous to 1902 clubs in England had not come within the purview of the licensing system. The Licensing Act of 1902, however, remedied that defect, and although it was passed principally to check the abuse of “clubs” being formed solely to sell intoxicating liquors free from the restrictions of the licensing acts, it applied to all clubs in England and Wales, of whatever kind, from the humblest to the most exalted Pall Mall club. The act required the registration of every club which occupied any premises habitually used for the purposes of a club and in which intoxicating liquor was supplied to members or their guests. The secretary of every club was required to furnish to the clerk to the justices of the petty sessional division a return giving (a) the name and objects of the club; (b) the address of the club; (c) the name of the secretary; (d) the number of members; (e) the rules of the club relating to (i.) the election of members and the admission of temporary and honorary members and of guests; (ii.) the terms of subscription and entrance fee, if any; (iii.) the cessation of membership; (iv.) the hours of opening and closing; and (v.) the mode of altering the rules. The same particulars must be furnished by a secretary before the opening of a new club. The act imposed heavy penalties for supplying and keeping liquor in an unregistered club. The act gave power to a court of summary jurisdiction to strike a club off the register on complaint in writing by any person on any of various grounds, e.g. if its members numbered less than twenty-five; if there was frequent drunkenness on the premises; if persons were habitually admitted as members without forty-eight hours’ interval between nomination and admission; if the supply of liquor was not under the control of the members or the committee, &c. The Licensing (Scotland) Act 1903 made Scottish clubs liable to registration in a similar manner.

In no other country did club-life attain such an early perfection