Robinson Crusoe Quote

"He preferred, however, "gourmandization," was an idolater of a certain decent, commodious fish, called a turtle, and worshipped the culinary image wherever he nozed it put up."
---The Contradiction (1796)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

R.S. Mystery Money

I haven't blogged about the Thursday's Club in a while, but I was back at Carlton Terrace last week browsing through a few things before I head off to other archives.  And quite by accident, I found the following piece of paper folded into the Thursday's Club minute book.

This one (dated the 28th of June, 1790) was one of four scraps of paper that listed the attendance at the anniversary dinners.  What can we find out from this?  Well, there were 22 attendees, 7 of whom weren't members but attended as guests of others.  (The Thursday's Club rule books constantly complain about excessive numbers of "strangers" attending the dinners and passed a flurry of rules to manage the party crashers.)

But what particularly interests me is the note written underneath the list of names: "Seven shillings found under the table."

You're probably thinking, my judicious Readers, that this little note is hardly extraordinary.  Nevertheless, it might provide some insight into how respectability factored into how these dinners.  Why didn't anyone claim the money for himself?  Or why didn't the man who found it simply pocket it himself and keep his mouth shut?  In 1784, the Club and the Crown and Anchor Tavern decided that dinner would be charged at 4 shillings a head, so 7 shillings wasn't insubstantial.  We only know that, ultimately, the money was deemed the property of the club.

The Thursday's Club certainly catered to the upper strata of society, (one had to be a fellow of the Royal Society in order to even qualify for membership) but within that category, we can see that there are peers, doctors, officers and commoners alike present at the dinner.  And once you're in, it seems, everyone governed himself according to the same rules of propriety.

Post-Script: Regrettably, the Thursday's Club stopped recording their Bills of Fare in 1786, so I wasn't able to find out what they actually ate for dinner that day.  However, I have previously mentioned that the Royal Society offers an excellent (and ridiculously cheap) lunch for readers and fellows alike.  
A Healthfull and Nourishing Sallet for 2.75
I am very pleased to report that the spirit of Mr. Evelyn, F.R.S is alive and well over here.