English Clubmen: 0050.0484
In striking a body blow at social clubs, Mr. John Houston enters upon debatable ground. Of course, it has been suspected for some time that the Nelson Club has ceased to be an object of Mr. Houston’s special protection. Indeed, it now seems as if the ex-mayor had never held the members of that club, individually or collectively, in high esteem. This may be attributed to many reasons. One is that plain John is not a clubman, and another is that in some way or another the majority of the members of that organization have never been regarded as out-and-out champions of the editor of the Tribune. But apart from this, should social clubs be considered as _____ mixed evils? This is the burning question, and like many another great problem, it admits of argument. To begin with, and without specializing the Nelson Club, it may be said that under British laws men have the right to band themselves together for social purposes, and no one has a license to question their right in so doing. It will be concluded by some that the members of the clubs do not confine themselves exclusively to social intercourse, and often form themselves into rings for political purposes. It is admitted that such is often the case, but as club men never succeed in electing anyone to office, it is difficult to see how any objection can be taken to this harmless pastime. Nor is it true to say that any club life in Canada is confined to Englishmen. Quite true, it is more a condition of English social life than Canadian, but so far as numbers are concerned, even in this western country, Canadians are greatly in the majority. Some contend that this is the result of a desire on the part of some Canadians to ape Englishmen, but perhaps the truth of the matter is it only shows an inherent desire on the part of men to meet together and engage in congenial social intercourse. Beyond doubt, there are a great number of Canadians who are more English than the English themselves, but only brainless Canadians can be included in this class. For the Englishman, Scotchman and Irishman, Canadians as a whole have a regard approaching veneration, even overlooking their mannerisms which are the vestige of their early environment; but for the Canadian who apes their mannerisms, the genuine pure-blooded Canadian has nothing but pity and contempt. Therefore, no reason can be advanced why men should not indulge in the luxury of club life and band themselves together for purposes of social recreation. It would be just as reasonable to object to workingmen banding themselves together for mutual benefits. But when a club ceases to be a social institution, and the members permit themselves to be made tools for the aggrandizement of a few designing men, it becomes a positive menace to the well-being of society, just the same as when a workingman’s association submits to the dictation of an arrogant leader.