The Secret History of Clubs, 1709

Ward, Edward
frontispiece, after Hogarth, of Edward Ward, A Compleat and humorous account of all the remarkable clubs and societies in the cities of London and Westminster, Compil'd from the original papers of a gent., 1745


"Besides, how Ridiculous is it for such mix'd Societies to have their set meetings at Taverns and Ale-Houses..."

Besides, how Ridiculous is it for such mix'd Societies to have their set meetings at Taverns and Ale-Houses, in hopes, by the efficacy of a 'few insignificant Orders, to preserve themselves within the bounds of Discretion' and Sobriety, when the only way to keep our Head-strong Appetites in due Subjection, is to avoid those Occasions that may tempt us to give a Loose to our inordinate Desires for certainly, no number of Prudent Men would' Constitute a Meeting at a Publick Bawdy-House, and there propose, by a Table of Laws against Fornication and Adultery, to fortify weak Nature against the temptations of the Petticoat and, be able to limit themselves to a reserv'd Modesty, thro the fear of forfeiting, perhaps, a Six-Penny Trifle, a Punishment not adequate to those sinful Pleasures they are liable to be tempted to. Therefore, is it not equally senseless for a Body of Men to hold their Nightly Congressions in either a Tavern or an Ale-House? Places that. Fatten, and grow Rich by the Vicious Habits:. of Unwary Mortals and there vainly hope where their Vertue is undermined with whole Cellars full of Temptations, to keep themselves secure from the Bewitching Prevalency of the inebrious Grape, or from a more baneful excess of those Dropsical Juices extracted by Adulterating Brewers from our grosser Malt, especially when such Tippling Societies have nothing to Awe them in. the height of their Jollity from a persuit of Drunkenness, and a shameful Lapse into all the Follies that attend it, but a few lame Laws of their own making, which themselves, at all times, have the power to Dispence with: Nor have the Penalties of their Orders, if duly executed, any other Tendency, than to lay up a Store, to Promote, at another time, those very Vices which they Amerce at present; so that there is so great an Incoherency between the Penalties they inflit, and the End they propose by it, that it is impossible a sober Decorum Should ever be preserv'd in those Societies who establish constant meetings in. such Houses, where the utmost Arts and Subtilties are daily practis'd to decoy their Benefacors into a Ruinous Extravagance. Therefore, a Man may as reasonably propose to secure himself in Peace, by haunting a Bear- Garden on the publick Days of their confus'd Revels, as to wisely govern himself within the bounds of Sobriety, by making himself a Member of a Tavern-Convention, or what is more Scandalous, tho' less Expensive, an Ale-House Club.


Text taken from Edward Ward, The secret history of clubs: particularly the Kit-Cat, Beef-Stake, Uertuosos, Quacks, Knights of the Golden-Fleece, Florists, Beaus, &c. with their original: and the characters of the Most Noted Members thereof (London: printed, and sold by the booksellers, 1709), p. 3-4.