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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 annually chosen out of the two clubs; by which means the principal magistrates are at this day coupled like rabbits, one fat and one lean.
Every 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 this sirname 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 George's which used to meet at the sign of the George, on St. George's day, and swear before George, is still fresh in every one's memory.
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, sinoke 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 number 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 opportu nity 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 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 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.
FURIOUS PARTY SPIRIT.
Ne, pueri, ne tanta animis assuescite bella:
Embrace again, my sons, be foes no more;
THERE cannot be a greater judgment befal a country than a dreadful spirit of division, which rends a government into two distinct people, and makes them greater strangers and more averse to one another, than if they were actually two different nations. The effects of such a division are pernicious to the last degree, not only with regard to those advantages which they give the common enemy, but to those private evils which they produce in the heart of almost every particular person. This influence is very fatal both to men's morals and their understandings; it sinks the virtue of a nation, and not only so, but destroys even
A furious party-spirit, when it rages in its full violence, exerts itself in civil war and bloodshed; and when it is under greatest restraints, naturally breaks out in falsehood, detraction, calumny, and a partial administration of justice. In a word, it fills a nation with spleen and rancour, and extinguishes all the seeds of good-nature, compassion, and humanity.
Plutarch says very finely, that a man should not allow himself to hate even his enemies, because, says he, if you indulge this passion on some occasions, it will rise of itself in others; if you hate your enemies, you will contract such a vicious habit of mind, as by
degrees will break out upon those who are your friends, or those who are indifferent to you. I might here observe how admirably this precept of morality,, which derives the malignity of hatred from the passion itself, and not from its object, answers to that great rule which was dictated to the world about an hundred years before this philosopher wrote; but instead of that, I shall only take notice, with a real grief of heart, that the minds of many good men among us appear soured with party-principles, and alienated from one another in such a manner as seems to me altogether inconsistent with the dictates either of reason or religion. Zeal for a public cause is apt to breed passions in the hearts of virtuous persons, to which the regard of their own private interest would never have betrayed them.
If this party-spirit has so ill an effect on our morals, it has likewise a very great one upon our judgments. We often hear a poor insipid paper or pamphlet cried up, and sometimes a noble piece depreciated, by those who are of a different principle from the author. One who is actuated by this spirit is almost under an incapacity of discerning either real blemishes or beauties. A man of merit in a different principle, is like an object seen in two different mediums, that appears crooked or broken, however straight and entire it may be in itself. For this reason there is scarce a person of any figure in England, who does not go by two contrary characters, as opposite to one another as light and darkness. Knowledge and learning suffer in a particular manner from this strange prejudice, which at present prevails amongst all rank and degrees in the British nation. As men formerly became eminent in learned societies by their parts and acquisitions, they now distinguish themselves by the warmth and violence with which they espouse their respective parties. Books are valued upon the like considerations; an abusive scurrilous style passes for satire, and a dull scheme of party-notions is called fine writing.
There is one piece of sophistry practised by both sides, and that is the taking any scandalous story that has been ever whispered or invented of a private man, for a known undoubted truth, and raising suitable speculations upon it. Calumnies that have been never proved, or have been often refuted, are the ordinary postulatums of those infamous scribblers, upon which they proceed as npon first principles granted by all men, though in their hearts they know they are false, or at best very doubtful. When they have laid these foundations of scurrility, it is no wonder that their superstructure is every way answerable to them. If this shameless practice of the present age endures much longer, praise and reproach will cease to be motives of action in good men.
There are certain periods of time in all governments when this inhuman spirit prevails. Italy was long torn in pieces by the Guelfes and Gibellines, and France by those who were for and against the league: but it is very unhappy for a man to be born in such a stormy and tempestuous season. It is the restless ambition of artful men that thus breaks a people into fac. tions, and draws several well-meaning persons to their interest by a specious concern for their country. How many honest minds are filled with uncharitable and barbarous notions, out of their zeal for the public good? What cruelties and outrages would they not commit against men of an adverse party, whom they would honour and esteem, if, instead of considering them as they are represented, they knew them as they are? Thus are persons of the greatest probity seduced into shameful errors and prejudices, and made bad men even by that noblest of principles, the love of their country. I cannot here forbear mentioning the famous Spanish proverb, If there were neither fools nor knaves in the world, all people would be of one mind.'
For my own part, I could heartily wish that all honest men would enter into an association, for the sup