The Tuesday Club of Annapolis


Of the various clubs which were a characteristic feature of
Annapolis society in the palmy days of that ancient and once
convivial city, the Tuesday Club, which flourished in the middle
of the eighteenth century was the most famous.

It numbered among its members some of the most brilliant men of the day,
and admission to its fellowship was an honor highly prized.
There is extant a so-called History of this club in three MS.
volumes, written by Dr. Alexander Hamilton, a distinguished
physician and wit. This is, however, not an authentic chronicle,
but a humorous mock-history in the style of Swift; the members
being designated by fictitious names ; Dr. Hamilton, for instance,
being "Loquacious Scribble, Esq." How far the incidents here
gravely recorded may have had any foundation in actual occurrences,
and how far they are merely grotesque inventions, cannot
now be known. As the History covers over 1900 very closely
written pages, it must have occupied considerable portions of the
writer's leisure for several years. It is embellished with pictorial
illustrations, and with many club-songs, scored for voice and
harpsichord. The language is fine eighteenth century English,
and the style an excellent specimen of the grave burlesque.

The title runs:
"History of the Ancient and Honorable Tuesday Club from
the Earliest Ages down to this present year.

"Autor noster ita describit Heroas [Clubicos] ut incertus
haereat Lecter an eruditi magis, fortesve essent, corporisque
potius aut animi viribus pollerent."

The author, after preliminary chapters on history, on antiquity,
and on clubs of ancient times, comes down to the venerable
Tuesday (or Whin-bush) Club of Lannerie in Scotland, the records
of which, he says, go back to the year 1440. From this the
Annapolis club descended in the following manner:-
Mr. George Neilson, a prominent member of the club, took
up arms in the Jacobite rising in 1715, and having been taken
prisoner at Sheriffmuir, was deported to America, and fixed his
residence at Annapolis.* Here he found clubs, but constituted
and conducted in a manner which he did not approve, being too
much devoted to drinking and gormandizing, and also ruled in
too arbitrary a fashion. These defects he hoped in time to reform.

Having succeeded in gathering round him a small band of followers,
Mr. Neilson endeavored to introduce some of his reforms
into a Royalist club, but this attempt led to an explosion, in
which he was ignominiously ejected, with considerable damage to
his person and apparel. He therefore gathered his adherents,
and producing a commission from the Tuesday Club of Lannerie,
empowering him to establish daughter clubs, founded the Redhouse
Club on more intellectual and democratic principles.

The club-house was destroyed by lightning in 1732, and Mr.
Neilson's death occurring shortly after, led to the dissolution of
the club. A successor sprang up in the Ugly Club, which, however,
was rent with faction and soon expired. Two leading men
of this club then founded in 1725 the Tuesday Club under the
original commission, constituting it in all respects so like the
mother-club of Lannerie, that it became, in eiFect, that very club
transported to America; and of this Dr. Hamilton constituted
himself the historian.

While, no doubt, much of the wit and satire lacks, for us, the
pungency which it had for the writer's friends, it is still a very
* In a list of rebel prisoners, "mostly Scotchmen," sent to Maryland in 1716,
occurs the name of George Neilson.
amusing production. As a specimen of this curious work, we subjoin
the third chapter of the tenth book, premising that an uproar
has broken out in the club, owing to the disappearance of the
Seal, which the President is suspected of having secreted for
sinister purposes.

Effects of the Commotion and Uproar in the Club, and the
Decathedration of His Lordship.

Rage and fury, when their approaches are sudden and impetuous,
are very dangerous affections of the mind. They, as it
were, dilaeerate the soul, and devest it of its noble faculties,
tossing them about and flinging them away like useless rags.

These boisterous passions are enemies sworn to mankind, and it is
even dangerous for good advice to approach too near them. The
poet Ovid was very sensible of this, which made him give the
following counsel :
Dum furor in cursu est, current! cede furori :
Difficiles aditus impetus omnis habet.
Stultus ab obliquo qui cum discedere possit,
Pugnat in adversas ire natator aquas.

The Chancellor, as has been related in the foregoing chapter,
was enraged to such a degree that most of the members kept
aloof from him, esteeming it a very dangerous attempt to come
within his reach, for he was in such agitation that he resembled
an Infernal fury more than a human Creature; his long cranelike
neck was stretched out to its utmost extent, his mouth, as
he uttered his words, gaped horrendous, and seemed to belch
forth fire like the mouth of a furnace ; his countenance was pale
and wan, and his eyes staring and flaring like two burning candles,
while his fists were clenched hard, which he balanced and
poised on both sides, ready to give the decisive blow, and his
feet stamped on the planks of the floor at each elevation of his
voice, which was, indeed, a semitone above E la, and made all
the concavities, cuddies, and chambers of the High Steward's
house resound like the hollow belly of a great bass fiddle. The
High Steward, Prim Timorous, Esq., was in the utmost consteruation
and terror, and forgetting his office of serjeant-at-arms,
and throwing aside his white rod of authority, he betook himself
for protection behind his Lordship's chair of state, and would
now and then slily peep at the Chancellor, from one side of the
canopy now, and then from the other, according as the Chancellor
changed his place or situation on the floor, for that furious Incendiary,
while he delivered his seditious speech, did not stand stock
still, but walked about like a peripatetic.

During this furious ecstasy of the Chancellor, and consternation
of the Long-standing members, his Honor the President was
fixed, like a monument of marble, in the Chair; he moved neither
to one side nor to the other, but, like one in a catalepsy, seemed to
have nothing left about him but the faculty of breathing, all the
other parts of his corporal frame, viz. : muscles, eyes, hands,
being fixed and immovable as one thunderstruck or under some
strange diabolical fascination or incantation.

While affairs were in this alarming situation, and the fire of
Rebellion, like an impetuous flame confined within a close chamber,
was ready to burst forth every moment, and carry the whole
edifice before it, Huffman Snap and the Secretary endeavored to
mitigate the rage of the Chancellor, and persuade his Lordship
to deliver up the Seal; but it was too late : the first, through the
violence of Rage, was deaf to all entreaties, the other, through
astonishment, was rendered incapable of listening to any overtures
or proposals.

Upon this, the majority of the Club were absolutely determined,
since the Seal could not by fair means be made forthcoming, to
use force to recover that valuable badge of office. Huffman Snap
swore d- him if it was not an impudent imposition on the Club
to rob them of their Great Seal, and that such an Insult ought
not to be suffered. " Why do you suffer it then? " replied the inflamed
Chancellor. " Why don't you immediately seize upon this
Tyrant of your setting up, and pull him down again, since he
knows not how to rule with moderation ? Come on-I will lead
the way-I will give the word, and let every staunch member
here use his utmost endeavor by main force to detect the thief."

These words were no sooner uttered than the whole room was
in an uproar ; the decanters, bowls, and glasses were overset upon
the great table ; the tobacco pipes, tobacco, and Clubical papers
flew about like straw or dust in a whirlwind ; a horrid clamor
and uproar was excited, and the din of mingling voices and most
unmerciful thumps, discharged with angry violence upon the
backs, bellies, shoulders, and rumps of the Long-standing members
made a rustling and rattling and whizzing in the air, much
like that confused noise excited at the general conflict of the
Greeks and Trojans which Homer, in the following passage,
beautifully describes.

[Extract from Homer.]
This might be properly said of the horrid din and danger
that was now excited among the Long-standing members of the
Ancient and Honorable Tuesday Club. The Chancellor and his
forces had now advanced toward the centre of dominion or the
seat of honor, to wit, his Lordship's great Chair of State, and
made a formal attack upon it, besetting it on all sides, having
first, like a skillful general, dispatched the forlorn hope, viz.,
Huffman Snap, and Solo Neverout, Esqrs., to assault the Chair
upon the dexter and sinister sides. Huffman Snap, Esq., took
the dexter quarter of his Lordship, and Solo Neverout, Esq.,
seized upon the sinister quarter. They began the attack first by
seizing on and securing his Lordship's arms, which with one fist
on each side they pinned down fast to the arms of the Chair,
and each with his other hand attacked the dexter and sinister
pockets of his Lordship to search and rummage for the great
Seal. His Lordship, recovering from his astonishment, threw a
tremendous look, first on one side, and then on the other, and
asked the two Champions in a precipitate manner, and with a
surprised tone of voice, if they intended to rob him? but they
made no answer, continuing still their search, while the Chancellor
spurred them on with inflammatory speeches, commanding
them to fight like Lions for their liberty and property. His
Lordship then began to struggle most violently and to lay about
him to the right and to the left, as lustily as he was able, and
had like to have knocked down and discomfited his left-hand
antagonist. In this scuffle his Lordship had his ruffles torn in a
most lamentable manner, and the posture of his wig was altered
much for the worse, having the tail turned foremost : however,
his Lordship still kept his seat, and would not suffer himself to
be moved one Inch to one side or the other. Upon this, the
general attack was renewed with greater fury: there was a general
cry among the Long-standing members, and nothing was heard
but, " Burn the Chair ! " " Burn the canopy ! " " Burn the
Seal!"-on which the Secretary was advancing toward the fire
to throw the book in the midst of devouring flames, and commit
to oblivion in one moment all the transactions of this ancient
and honorable Club, when the wisdom and discretion of Jealous
Spyplot Senr. Esq., prevented this dreadful Calamity, for he,
perceiving the Secretary's design, pulled him back, and seizing the
book out of his hands, took it into his own care and protection.

Then Quirpum Comic, Esq., having beat Prim Timorous, Esq.,
from his station behind the Chair, took off the Canopy of State
and was approaching toward the fire to commit it to the flames,
when he was stopped by Jonathan Grog, Esq., who with heroic
intrepidity rescued the Ensign of State from the destroyer, and
disposed of it in a private corner out of the way of danger.
Prim Timorous, Esq., Serjeant-at-Arms and High Steward, was
thrown into such a terrible panic that he swore several times
over, " God-bless the King ! " and ran and hid himself in some
private corner so that he was not seen again on the field till the
battle was over. He was afterwards much blamed for his conduct
by his Lordship, who told him that he had behaved, not
only unworthy of his office as Serjeant-at-Arms, and beneath the
dignity of a High Steward, but also utterly neglected his duty
as a county magistrate in not commanding the peace during the
outrage and insult; but most excused him on this occasion, as
knowing him to be of a mild and fearful disposition.

His Lordship still keeping his seat with unshaken Intrepidity,
the Chancellor, fearing that the Destinies would turn the scale
against him, gave orders for a fresh attack, calling out to the
Long-standing members to take courage and not lose spirits, on
which the uproar and hurlyburly increased to a great degree.
Quirpum Comic, Esq., one of the principal heroes in the opposition,
seeing that it was but labor in vain to move his Lordship
from his seat by tugging and pulling, went behind the Chair, and
with his brawny fist fetched several violent hard blows under the
Bottom of it, which being made of pliant stuff, viz., canvas and
leather, stuff'd with hair, gave such a strong concussion and
repercussion to his Lordship's buttock, that he rebounded at least
half a foot from the seat at each blow, and was obliged to quit
his Chair of State, rushing precipitately from the step, and falling
upon one knee; but soon again recovering himself, notwithstanding
the uninterrupted thumps and blows of the enemy, he ran
with precipitation to the fire, and to the great astonishment and
surprise of every person present, who imagined that his Lordship,
in the height of his frenzy and desperation, was going to sacrifice
his own carcass to the devouring flames, he threw the Great Seal
into the middle of the fire, and rammed it down into the hottest
part with his foot, while Quirpum Comic, Esq., threw the Chair
of State over his Lordship's head, which pitched into the fire at
the same instant with the Great Seal. There was immediately a
most furious scramble to save these two precious ensigns of the
Club from immediate destruction, and Huffman Snap, Esq.,
dexterously snatched the Great Seal from the danger it was in,
of being consumed to ashes, and with a low bow, put it into the
Chancellor's hand who received it with a loud halloo of victory,
and Tunbelly Bowser, Esq., at the same instant rescued the Chair
of State from the fatal combustion with which it was threatened.

His Lordship stood now in the middle of the floor, very much
astonished, and seemed to be quite disabled and out of breath,
and loud peals of victory from the Chancellor's party rang through
the room.