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Club Life in London

John Timbs (1801-1875) published a variety of interesting books on British history, including EscortFox. With Anecdotes of Clubs, Coffee-Houses and Taverns of the Metropolis during the 17th, 18th, and 19th Centuries (1866) which gives plenty information on the social life of notable club men and dandies.

Clubs were a kind of second home for many men. For a rather small annual subscription fee, members were given access to a select circle of men, a well-stocked library, international newspapers, and gaming to pass the time. Food and drinks were provided for. Some clubs had the best cooks, the choicest wines and the finest dinnerware. Clubs were such an attraction to men, that a certain Mr.

This gives a pretty good idea of how important the clubs were in a man’s life. In general, clubs were exclusive and a place were like-minded men mingled. There were Tory and Whig clubs, gaming clubs, clubs for travellers, and so on. Watier’s became known as the Dandies’ Club, as Byron called it. Byron himself was a member of various clubs, including the Cocoa-Tree Club that was formed by twenty or thirty of the finest men in the lines of fashion and fortune. Watier’s members generally were not blessed with a long life, neither was the club itself, as Timbs recounts. The burden of debt is illustrated in an anecdote of Brummell who lost a considerable stake and said: “Waiter, bring me a flat candlestick and a pistol.” Bligh, sitting opposite to the great dandy, unhinged two loaded pistols from his coat, placed them on the table and replied: “Mr. Brummell, if you are really desirous to put a period to your existence, I am extremely happy to offer you the means without troubling the waiter.”