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Clubs

The eighteenth century was distinguished in England by the existence of numerous local and ephemeral associations under the name of Clubs, where men of different classes of society met for amusement and recreation. Each profession and trade had its club, and "whatever might be a man's character or disposition," says Oliver, ''he would find in London a club that would square with his ideas." Addison, in his paper on the origin of clubs (Spectator, No. 9) remarks: "Man is said to be a social animal, and as an instance of it we may observe that we take all occasions and. pretenses of forming ourselves into those little nocturnal assemblies which are commonly known by the name of Clubs. When a set of men find themselves agreed in any particular, though never so trivial, they establish themselves into a kind of Fraternity and meet once or twice a week, upon the account of such a fantastic resemblance." Hard drinking was characteristic of those times, and excesses too often marked the meetings of these societies. It was at this time that the Institution of Freemasonry underwent its revival commonly known as the revival of 1717, and it is not strange that its social character was somewhat affected by the customs of the day. The Lodges therefore assumed at that time too much of a convivial character, derived from the customs of the existing clubs and coteries; but the moral and religious principles upon which the Institution was founded prevented any undue indulgence; and although the members were permitted the enjoyment of decent refreshment, there was a standing law which provided against all excess (see Masonic Clubs, National League of).

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