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THE CLUB was founded in 1764, by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Dr. Samuel Johnson, and for some years met on Monday evenings. In 1772 the day of meeting was changed to Friday; and about that time. instead of supping they agreed to dine together once in every fortnight during the sitting of Parliament.
In 1773, THE CLUB, which soon after its foundation consisted of twelve members, was enlarged to twenty; March 11, 1777, to twentysix; November 27, 1778, to thirty; May 9, 1780, to thirty-five; and it was then resolved that, it never should exceed forty.
They met originally at the "Turk's Head," in Gerrard Street, and continued to meet there till 1783, when the landlord died, and the house was soon afterwards shut up. They then removed to Prince's in Sackville Street; and on his house being soon afterwards shut up, they removed to Baxter's, which afterwards became Thomas's, in Dover Street. In January, 1792, they removed to Parsloes, in St. James's Street; and on February 26, 1799, to the "Thatched House," in the same street. The "Thatched House" having been pulled down, THE CLUB met, in 1863, at the "Clarendon," in Albemarle Street, but it removed to Willis's Rooms in 1869. From the foundation to this time, the number of members has been one hundred and eighty-four: among whom are found, omitting the mention of living members, many illustrious historical names-of men of letters, such as Johnson, Goldsmith, Adam Smith, Walter Scott, Sydney Smith; of statesmen, such as Burke, C. J. Fox, Sheridan, Windham, Canning, Mackintosh, Brougham, Russell; of historians, such as Gibbon, Hallam, Grote, Macaulay; of artists, such as Reynolds, Chantrey, Lawrence; of men of science, such as Davy, Wollaston, Young, Whewell; of churchmen, such as Copleston, Wilberforce, Stanley, Tait, besides of many eminent in social life.
At the meetings of THE CLUB the chair is taken in rotation by the members, according to the alphabetical arrangement of their names; the only permanent officer being the Treasurer.
Mr. Malone was the first treasurer, and upon his decease, in 1812, Sir Henry Charles Englefield was elected to that office, which, however, on account of weakness of sight, he resigned in 1814, when the Rev. Dr. Charles Burney was chosen, and continued to be treasurer
until his death, which took place in December, 1817, and on the roth of March, 1818, Mr. Hatchett was elected. On the resignation of Mr. Hatchett, June 22nd, 1841, the Rev. H. H. Milman, afterwards Dean of St. Paul's, was elected; and on the resignation of the Dean, the Right Hon. Sir Edmund Head, in June, 1864. He continued to fill the office until his death in January, 1868. At the first meeting of THE CLUB in that year (February, 1868), Mr. Henry Reeve was requested by THE CLUB to succeed him.
LETTER FROM DR. JOHNSON TO
"May 28, 1768.
"It is natural for a scholar to interest himself in an expedition, undertaken, like yours, for the importation of literature; and therefore, though, having never travelled myself, I am very little qualified to give advice to a traveller; yet, that I may not seem inattentive to a design so worthy of regard, I will try whether the present state of my health will suffer me to lay before you what observation or report have suggested to me, that may direct your inquiries, or facilitate your success. Things of which the mere rarity makes the value, and which are prized at a high rate by a wantonness rather than by use, are always passing from poorer to richer countries; and therefore, though Germany and Italy were principally productive of typographical curiosities, I do not much imagine that they are now to be found there in great abundance. An eagerness for scarce books and early editions, which prevailed among the English about half a century ago, filled our shops with all the splendour and nicety of literature; and when the Harleian Catalogue was published, many of the books were bought for the library of the King of France.
"I believe, however, that by the diligence with which you have enlarged the library under your care, the present stock is so nearly
Mr., afterwards Sir Francis, Barnard, was Librarian to King George III. See ante, p. 441.-This is the letter which, I cannot guess why, Mr. Barnard refused to Boswell after his Majesty had consented to its production.-Croker.
exhausted, that, till new purchases supply the booksellers with new stores, you will not be able to do much more than glean up single books, as accident shall produce them; this, therefore, is the time for visiting the continent.
"What addition you can hope to make by ransacking other countries we will now consider. English literature you will not seek in any place but in England. Classical learning is diffused every where, and is not, except by accident, more copious in one part of the polite world than in another. But every country has literature of its own, which may be best gathered in its native soil. The studies of the learned are influenced by forms of government and modes of religion; and, therefore, those books are necessary and common in some places, which, where different opinions or different manners prevail, are of little use, and for that reason rarely to be found.
"Thus in Italy you may expect to meet with canonists and scholastic divines, in Germany with writers on the feudal laws, and in Holland with civilians. The schoolmen and canonists must not be neglected, for they are useful to many purposes; nor too anxiously sought, for their influence among us is much lessened by the Reformation. Of the canonists at least a few eminent writers may be sufficient. The schoolmen are of more general value. But the feudal and civil law I cannot but wish to see complete. The feudal constitution is the original of the law of property, over all the civilized part of Europe; and the civil law, as it is generally understood to include the law of nations, may be called with great propriety a regal study. Of these books, which have been often published, and diversified by various modes of impression, a royal library should have at least the most curious edition, the most splendid, and the most useful. The most curious edition is commonly the first, and the most useful may be expected among the last. Thus, of Tully's Offices, the edition of Fust is the most curious, and that of Grævius the most useful. The most splendid the eye will discern. With the old printers you are now become well acquainted; if you can find any collection of their productions to be sold, you will undoubtedly buy it; but this can scarcely be hoped, and you must catch up single volumes where you can find them. In every place things often occur where they are least expected. I was shown a Welsh grammar written in Welsh, and printed at Milan, I believe, before any grammar of that language had been printed here. Of purchasing entire libraries, I know not whether the inconvenience may not overbalance the advantage. Of libraries connected with general views, one will have many books in
common with another. When you have bought two collections, you will find that you have bought many books twice over, and many in each which you have left at home, and, therefore, did not want; and when you have selected a small number, you will have the rest to sell at a great loss, or to transport hither at perhaps a greater. It will generally be more commodious to buy the few that you want, at a price somewhat advanced, than to encumber yourself with useless books. But libraries collected for particular studies will be very valuable acquisitions. The collection of an eminent civilian, feudist, or mathematician, will perhaps have very few superfluities. Topography or local history prevails much in many parts of the continent. I have been told that scarcely a village of Italy wants its historian. These books may be generally neglected, but some will deserve attention by the celebrity of the place, the eminence of the authors, or the beauty of the sculptures. Sculpture has always been more cultivated among other nations than among us. The old art of cutting on wood, which decorated the books of ancient impression, was never carried here to any excellence; and the practice of engraving on copper, which succeeded, has never been much employed among us in adorning books. The old books with wooden cuts are to be diligently sought; the designs were often made by great masters, and the prints are such as cannot be made by any artist now living. It will be of great use to collect in every place maps of the adjacent country, and plans of towns, buildings, and gardens. By this care you will form a more valuable body of geography than can otherwise be had. Many countries have been very exactly surveyed, but it must not be expected that the exactness of actual mensuration will be preserved, when the maps are reduced by a contracted scale, and incorporated into a general system.
"The king of Sardinia's Italian dominions are not large, yet the maps made of them in the reign of Victor fill two Atlantic folios. This part of your design will deserve particular regard, because, in this, your success will always be proportioned to your diligence. You are too well acquainted with literary history not to know that many books derive their value from the reputation of the printers. Of the celebrated printers you do not need to be informed, and if you did, might consult Baillet, "Jugemens des Savans." The productions of Aldus are enumerated in the Bibliotheca Græca, so that you may know when you have them all; which is always of use, as it prevents needless search. The great ornaments of a library, furnished for magnificence as well as use, are the first editions, of which, therefore,
I would not willingly neglect the mention. You know, sir, that the annals of typography begin with the Codex, 1457; but there is great reason to believe, that there are latent, in obscure corners, books printed before it. The secular feast, in memory of the invention of printing, is celebrated in the fortieth year of the century; if this tradition, therefore, is right, the art had in 1457 been already exercised nineteen years.
"There prevails among typographical antiquaries a vague opinion, that the Bible had been printed three times before the edition of 1462, which Calmet calls 'La première édition bien averée.' One of these editions has been lately discovered in a convent, and transplanted into the French king's library. Another copy has likewise been found, but I know not whether of the same impression, or another. These discoveries are sufficient to raise hope and instigate inquiry. In the purchase of old books, let me recommend to you to inquire with great caution, whether they are perfect. In the first edition the loss of a leaf is not easily observed. You remember how near we both were to purchasing a mutilated Missal at a high price.
"All this perhaps you know already, and, therefore, my letter may be of no use. I am, however, desirous to show you, that I wish prosperity to your undertaking. One advice more I will give, of more importance than all the rest, of which I, therefore, hope you will have still less need. You are going into a part of the world divided, as it is said, between bigotry and atheism: such representations are always hyperbolical, but there is certainly enough of both to alarm any mind solicitous for piety and truth; let not the contempt of superstition precipitate you into infidelity, or the horror of infidelity ensnare you in superstition. I sincerely wish you successful and happy, for I am, Sir, &c., "SAM. JOHNSON."
END OF VOL. I.