Club Almack09 May 2020
Another famous club is Almack’s whose members included some of the Maccaroni’s who had a taste for foreign fashions. They were also known as the “curled darlings”, a name that hints to their long curls. They sported eye-glasses and bordered on the eccentric. Almack’s was a place of play. Timbs recounts some curious facts. Apparently, the gamesters started their night by undressing from their embroidered clothes, putting on frieze greatcoats or turning their coats inside outwards for good luck. They protected their laced ruffles with leather and wore broad-brimmed straw hats with flowers and ribbons to protect their eyes from the light and to keep their hair in order. Finally, they put on masks to conceal their emotions during play.
One year after opening Almack’s, it’s proprietor opened Almack’s Assembly-Rooms in King-street, St. James’s. The three-month ten-guinea subscription granted access to a ball and supper every week. The ladies that regulated access to Almack’s laid out the rule that gentlemen had to wear knee-breeches, white cravats, and chapeau bras. Lady Jersey introduced the quadrille in 1815.
White’s, established in 1698, was a gaming club. As Timbs writes, the least difference in opinion invariably resulted in a bet. The club was destroyed by a fire in 1733, an incident that is portrayed in plate VI of Hogarth’s “A Rake’s Progress”. Brummell once won 20,000 from Harley Drummond of the famous banking-house Charing Cross in the first and only game the latter ever played. He retired from the banking house after this loss.
Another famous club was the Dilettanti Society, that was formed in 1734 by a number of gentlemen who had travelled Italy with the intention to spread the word about their intellectual influences. It’s members included “some of the wealthiest noblemen and most fashionable men of the day”. As Horace Walpole remarked in 1743, the Dilettanti put more focus on getting drunk than on intellectual debate. Their members included George Selwyn and Charles James Fox. They met at the Thatched House Tavern whose walls were decorated with the Dilettanti’s portraits.