The Kit-Cat Club (c.1690s-c.1720) was one of the earliest and most influential London gentlemen’s dining clubs. It kickstarted the English craze for eighteenth century clubbing and was the first to turn membership into a social credential. With members drawn exclusively from one Whig faction, yet with foundations in the literary world, it became a hub of patronage along lines of intellectual friendship rather than kinship, an informal venue of political opposition, and a prototype for Dr Johnson’s Club, among many others.
Laclos embodied all forms of eighteenth-century sociability. He was a Freemason and regular visitor to the clubs and salons of the revolutionary period. Finding his military career unrewarding, he became politically active alongside Philippe d’Orléans and participated in the debates of his time through his writing. His epistolary Les liaisons dangereuses, which was based on Richardson’s Clarissa, was his ‘unique book’. More radical than its English model, it called into question a whole sociability that had descended into libertinism. The work simultaneously marked the pinnacle and dissolution of the epistolary novel, the symbol of sociable exchange.
This entry gives an overview of the social structures, manners and sociability of the Scottish clans during the long 18th century. It presents the debates about their place in the Scottish and British societies in the context of the Union of 1707 and the Jacobite rebellions as well as of the Enlightenment ideas of improvement in society.
Voltaire often portrayed himself as a solitary man who preferred to live far from the hustle and bustle of worldly life. In reality, he was a man for whom sociability was a fundamental virtue. It could manifest as anything from the most ephemeral worldliness to lifelong, intimate friendships. Voltaire was one who courted high society and gave sumptuous receptions, but the ties with those he called friend would remain sacred throughout his life.