Clubs and Coffee-Houses


Swift was often there; and here, as at other coffee-houses or clubs at the time, play was high, for there is a memorandum that " a young Mr. Harvey of Chigwell "lost no less than £100,000 at hazard at the "Cocoa Tree."

The "Kit-Kat" was a Whig club, started by the Dukes of Marlborough, Devonshire, Grafton, Richmond, and Somerset, with something like forty members. Pope or Arbuthnot wrote of it:

Whence deathless Kit-kat took its name,

Few critics can unriddle;

Some say from pastry-cook it came,

And some from Cat and Fiddle.

From no trim beaux its name it boasts,
Grey statesmen or green wits;

But from the pell-mell pack of toasts

Of old cats and young kits.

The "pastry-cook

was Christopher Kat, who was


the club's first cook, and who made excellent pies, known, like the house, as Kit-Kat. "White's" and James's" were also in existence before 1720.

Of the coffee-houses Baron Pollnitz, who visited England, wrote: "'Tis a sort of rule for the English to go once a day at least to houses of this kind [coffeehouses], where they talk of business and news. . . . The chocolate house in St. James's, where I go every morning to pass away the time, is always so full that a man can scarce turn about in it. Here are dukes and other peers mixed with gentlemen; and to be admitted there needs nothing more than to dress like a gentleman."

As a rule each who entered the coffee-house paid a penny for the privilege of sitting there and listening to the news, and a further twopence for a cup of coffee.


I have collected into particular bodies the Dappers and the Smarts, the natural and affected Rakes, the Pretty Fellows and the Very Pretty Fellows. ADDISON, The Tatler.


EILDING was truly the last of the wildly frivolous Beaux of the Restoration. Before he was fifty he was regarded as a curious relic of a past period, and so entirely did interest in him die out that his demise passed without notice, causing one writer to remark that no evidence was left of his death, and securing the following heartless epitaph from a contemporary :

If Feilding is dead

And rests under this stone,

Then he is not alive

You may bet two to one.

But if he's alive,

And does not lie there

Let him live till he's hanged,

For which no man will care.

Before Feilding's death a change had taken place in the views of society. Men of learning and genius, far removed from those whose highest literary achievements were plays of so licentious and topical a nature that they can no longer afford amusement or pleasure to those who read them, began to give to the world articles and satires which not only could not fail to make an impression upon the reading public, but which indicated that the social whirl-pool of the Stuart time was gradually subsiding.

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The Court of William of Holland in some ways did not differ so much from that of James, but the King himself had aims of a higher kind, and both insensibly and actively altered the lives of those who surrounded him, even though many were relics of the old régime.

The beau, the fop, the fool were still to be found, and received many new names from the pens of the satirists. They were divided into classes, according to their peculiarities. Thus Addison gave us in mockery the Coxcomb, the Pretty Fellow, the Very Pretty Fellow, the Smart Fellow, the Mettled Fellow, the Dapper, etc., which he applied to Dandies during the first twenty years of the eighteenth century; and there were so many different grades that Addison asks in The Tatler that there shall be some mark to distinguish one from the other, saying that he "shall take it as a favour of all the coxcombs in the town, if they will set marks upon themselves, and by some particular in their dress show to what class they belong. It would be very obliging in such persons, who feel in themselves that they are not of sound understanding to give the world notice of it, and spare mankind the pains of finding them out. A cane upon the fifth button shall from henceforth be the type of a Dapper; red-heeled shoes, and an hat hung upon one side of the head, shall signify a Smart; a good periwig made into a twist, with a brisk cock, shall speak a Mettled Fellow; and an upper lip covered with snuff, denote a Coffee-house Statesman."

Steele published, also in The Tatler, a pretended letter from one who desired to be promoted to the rank of the foremost in club life, and yet who wished the exclusion of those "who sticking to the letter and not to the spirit, do assume the name of 'Pretty Fellows'; nay, and even get new names. . . . Some of them I have heard calling to one another as I have sat at White's and St. James's, by

the names of Betty, Nelly, and so forth. accost each other with effeminate airs

You see them they have their

signs and tokens like freemasons. They rail at womenkind receive visits in their beds in gowns, and do a thousand other unintelligble prettinesses that I cannot tell what to make of. I therefore heartily desire you would exclude all this sort of animals."

Another thing which troubled this gentleman was that the crowds of volunteers who had gone to bully the French might return and set up as Pretty Fellows, "and impose on us some new alteration in our night-caps, wigs, and pockets," unless some new name could be found for them. Steele adds that this correspondent cannot be admitted as a "Pretty," but might be styled a "Smart Fellow." "I never saw the gentleman, but I know by his letter he hangs his cane to his button; and by some lines of it he should wear red-heeled shoes; which are essential parts of the habit belonging to the order of 'Smart Fellow.' One who was "successfully loud among the wits," familiar among the ladies, and dissolute among the rakes, who found a town ready to receive him, and made every use of the favour extended, was said to be a true woman's man, and in the first degree a Very Pretty Fellow.

These gentlemen may have loved fine clothes, but there is evidence to show that they were far from loving cleanliness. In fact, it needed Brummell, a century later, to teach the value of water and brushes. An anonymous writer to the Spectator in 1714 hangs a homily upon his seeing in a stage coach a dirty Beau. He describes him as "dressed in a suit the ground whereof had been black, as I perceived from some few spaces that had escaped the powder which was incorporated with the greatest part of his coat; his periwig, which cost no small sum, was after so slovenly a manner cast over his shoulders, that it

A Dainty Fricassee


seemed not to have been combed since the year 1712; his linen, which was not much concealed, was daubed with plain Spanish from the chin to the lowest button; and the diamond upon his finger (which naturally dreaded the water), put me in mind how it sparkled amidst the rubbish of the mine where it was first discovered."

Steele, under the name of Simon Sleek in the Guardian, has a word to say upon the carelessness which went too often with finery in the days of Queen Anne :Though every man cannot fill his head with learning, it is in any one's power to wear a pretty periwig; let him who cannot say a witty thing keep his teeth white at least; he who hath no knack at writing sonnets, may however have a soft hand; and he may arch his eyebrows, who hath not strength of genius for the mathematics." This letter is finished by offers of help in amending the fashions of the day: "I shall be enabled from time to time to introduce several pretty oddnesses in the taking and tucking up of gowns, to regulate the dimensions of wigs, to vary the tufts upon caps, and to enlarge or narrow the hems of bands, as I shall think most for the public good."

At this period the possession of wit was shown in many strange ways-in fact, the humour was about equal to the general appearance of the Pretty Fellows. Twenty years ago I remember a scandal arising in a small London club, which was of the sort known as mixed, by some foolish young man drinking champagne from an equally foolish girl's shoe. But this was quite respectable compared to the humorous antics of young men in the early decades of the eighteenth century. To some of these extremists in gallantry wine was tasteless until it was strained through a mistress's smock, and a pair of her shoes "tossed up in a fricassee" were a delicacy. Some showed their humour

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