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PALL MALL, your London street of palaces,
does not contain my Club. I have incurred
no risk of being pitched out of window at the
Carlton Club. I have never dined at the
Reform Club. My Club is in the provinces.
No doubt it is a very poor affair; and I was a
great blockhead to look forward, as I once did,
to the day when I should be ballotted for by its
members. I am surgeon to my Club. I receive
from it half-yearly pence, and pay to it
daily labour. Every one may have heard of
the Army and Navy Club, the University
Club, the Travellers' Club; but there are
many, I dare say, who know nothing of the
Country Surgeon's Club. Most surgeons and
apothecaries in the country know of it, however,
well enough. It is one of a strong suit
of Clubs held by the provincial medical world;
held very good-humouredly, although not
trumps, by men who are ever ready to put
forth their skill, and playindeed I must
spoil the parallel to say hereto work,
and to work hard; for love as often as for

No idlers at a window in St. James's can
lounge better than the members of my Club
do, on a Monday. The members of my Club
smoke often, and dine occasionally at their
Club-house. They ballot for new members,
they are particular about their rules, and
enforce them by means of a committee. Most
of the members dress strictly according to
the fashion of the place in which they live,
wearing, over their other clothes, a kind of
flannel petticoat. We have a majority and a
minority among the members of that particular
specimen of the Country Surgeon's Club
with which I am connected. The majority
consists of colliers smutted with black who
work every day (except Monday), the minority,
of potters who work all day smutted
white. But in the Club all members fraternise:
the black man and the white are

Brothers all of us in a peculiar sense, and
having brethren in all parts of England able
to identify us by the mystic nature of our
grasp; or, if more be necessary, by a few
cabalistic words and signs, which we have sworn
not to reveal to strangers; for my Club is a
stout branch from the stem of the Ancient
Order of Woodmen, tracing our genealogy
very far back through Robin Hood. Clubs of
this kind are established, it is well known, as
Friendly societies; and the member, in
consideration of regular payments during health,
is entitled to a weekly allowance during sickness,
to gratuitous medical assistance, to a fixed
allowance for funeral expenses, and to other
advantages. Some of the largest Clubs are
connected with societies bound, by a system of
freemasonry, in fellowship with other bodies
scattered through the country; —such as the
Odd Fellows and Foresters, while others are
purely local Benefit societies. Until the
calculations upon which these bodies founded
their schemes were put under the control of
a Government actuary, they often caused, in
spite of the best intentions, a great waste of
the money of the poor. Attempting too much
they became bankrupt just when their solvency
was most essential;— when the young
and healthy men who had joined them, having
become old and infirm, required to draw
relief out of the fund to which they had been
contributing their savings, during perhaps
twenty or thirty years. It is not my purpose
here to discuss the principle of Clubs of this
kind, and of Benefit societies. I am looking at
my Club purely from the surgeon's point of

I was only beginning to get on in my
district, doing the reasonable work of two
men for seventy pounds a year, as parish
surgeon, and filling up what leisure time I
could make with odds and ends of private
practice, and the work supplied by a few
unimportant Clubs. The parish work required
the help of an assistant; but, as the said
assistant must be qualified, and as a qualified
surgeon could not be lodged, fed, and salaried
at a much smaller cost than seventy pounds, it
was quite evident that I must ride, walk, sit
up of nights, make pills, and spread blisters
for my slice or two of bread-and-butter,
hoping that by good deeds among the multitude
of men who could not pay me, I might
earn the confidence of some who could pay me.
The name of a small tradesman likely to run up
and able to pay a ten-pound bill in the twelve
months was, at that time, one of the best
glories of my day-book and ledger. To get
the Woodman's Club was then my nearest
hope. There was a chance for me: being the

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