Tag Archives: The Idler

A Club for Millionaires

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Illustration by Dudley Hardy

Found in The Idler Magazine (Chatto & Windus, 1892. Volume 1, February to July. pp 109-110) this piece by regular contributor Barry Pain. The Idler was edited by Robert Barr and Jerome K Jerome. It ran from 1892-1911.

Over the years, the roster of writers who contributed to various issues was impressive: O. Henry, Mark Twain, Conan Doyle, Eden Phillpotts, Marie Corelli, Barry Pain, Israel Zangwill, Grant Allen, W. W. Jacobs, and Robert Louis Stevenson. At a single sitting, the pages took the reader from travel adventures to cultural appreciations of events in the home island nation. “The Idler‘s Club” was a standard feature of most issues. Various writers sketched out opinions in ironic and exaggerated language. This piece was found there. It was Barry Pain’s second idea in this issue – his first was that amateur dramatics would be much improved if performed in total darkness and thus they would also be able to avoid paying a licence fee…His idea for a club follows:

Barry Payn (sic) sympathises with the millionaires.

IdleraMy second proposal is to establish a club for millionaires. We see suffering all around us, and it is useless to close our eyes to it. There are millionaires in our midst; and, whether we like it or not, they are out brothers and sisters. Putting it on grounds which will appeal to everyone – I mean the lowest possible grounds – we cannot afford to miss an opportunity of making a little out of them. If we explore the region of the docks, we find separate homes there for sailors of every nationality; there is even a home for lost dogs. But nowhere do we find a home for millionaires. I propose to establish a proprietary club for them, a little room with a sanded floor, where they will find that absence of luxury which they must miss so much. They will be able to get a chop or steak they; wine will not be served, but a boy will fetch them beer if they feel that they don’t want it; a large cup of cocoa will be one penny, and a small one will be half-a-crown.

I have forgotten my reason for that last regulation, but I remember that it was logical. One of the cheaper evening papers will be taken, and members of the club can have it in turn; or, if they prefer it, they can do without it. I have no wish to limit their liberty more than is absolutely necessary for their own discomfort. Everything that can done to make the place nasty will be done. I intend, for the protection of the general public, to make the club exclusive. Only millionaires will be eligible. There will be an entrance fee of a thousand guineas and an annual subscription of one hundred. The subscription, together with a statement of the place of their birth, if any, must be forwarded in advance to the proprietor. I shall be the proprietor myself. I have other proposals to make, but these are enough for the present. I may have occasion to refer to the subject again, but I make no threats.

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The Literary Cranks of London – The Vagabond Club

The second of a series on 'The Literary Cranks of London' this published in  The Sketch on Aug. 29th, 1894. Written by a member George Brown Burgin (1856-1944), novelist, critic and journalist. There are various photos of him in the National Portrait Gallery collection. He was sub-editor of the humorous journal The Idler from 1895 to 1899. He wrote over 90 novels but there is no Wikipedia page for him. However there is quite a bit online on him including various quotations such as his claim that: 'It is much more comfortable to be mad and know it than be sane and have one's doubts.' The Vagabond Club was founded around the blind poète maudit Philip Bourke Marston and boasted such distinguished members as Jerome K. Jerome, Robert Barr, Conan Doyle, Barry Pain,  and Israel Zangwill. No women. It is interesting that Burgin mentions, without opprobrium, that  it contained 'misogynists'...

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The Literary Cranks of London – The Cemented Bricks

I came across this oddly named literary coterie quite recently in a catalogue by the august bookseller and writer John Saumarez Smith in a scholarly note about one of its members - the writer (anthologist) Robert Maynard Leonard (1869 - 1941) who among other things was secretary to the Anti-Bribery League, which sounds like something from a G K Chesterton short story. Members of the 'Cemented Bricks' included Richard le Gallienne, Walter Jerrold, Sir John Parsons, Lord Amulree and Joseph Knight. The web yields very little about them except this page from The Sketch of 13/2/1895 bought for the price of a mocha latte on eBay. It remains unknown to Google books and even Brewster Kahle (praise his name) has not archived it... At the same time we bought another in the series of 'Literary Cranks of London' on 'The Vagabond Club' which will follow later.

The Literary Cranks of London.

The Cemented Bricks.

The Cemented Bricks.! Who or what are they? Is it a new order of Hod-fellows, or is it a building society?

That question, or series of questions, was put to me by a lady three years ago. This article will supply the answer.

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Another Idler

Most literary people when they think of past magazines called The Idler would cite Samuel Johnson’s famous miscellany and Jerome K Jerome’s humorous organ of the1890s. Today’s Idler is edited by the anti-corporatist and ukelele enthusiast Tom Hodgkinson, author of How to be Free. But there was another Idler, which is, as yet, unknown to Wikipedia, and indeed has a very, very low online profile.

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