The Theatre: First Fifty

Modern clubs are little more than two centuries old. They really got going in Queen Anne's London, where men— usually impelled by politics—met regularly in coffeehouses and taverns. At the Whigs' Kit-Cat Club, Addison and Congreve fellowshipped with statesmen and lords; at the Tories' Scriblerus, Swift and his friends forgathered. Before the 18th Century went out, London swarmed with clubs that, like Dr. Johnson's immortal one, produced great conversation, or like White's, Boodle's and Brooks's, witnessed some of the steepest gambling in history.

White's, Boodle's, Brooks's still exist; London's Athenaeum Club is...

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