THE ANNALS

OF

CH APTER
1872-1873.

III.

ElectIon
office1's,

of

. ~. within its ow~ walls was held on first formal '~, March 25, 18/2.meeting of the other Amongst Club •. important business which was trans~. acted, the following nominations for officers to serve during the ensuing year, were submitted by the committee: Thomas Newcomb, President; Henry Edwards, Vice-President; Sands W. Forman, Secretary; Arpad Harazthy, Treasurer, and D. P. Belknap, Henry George, Frederick Whymper, R. C. Rogers and B. F. Napthaly, Trustees. The first annual balloting took place on Friday, April 1st, resulting in the election of the foregoing ticket. Within a short time, however, Napthaly resigned from the Club and other changes took place in the Board resulting in the following named members being appointed Trustees: D. P. Belknap, Edward Bosqui, Samuel M. Brooks, A. G. Hawes andJ. C. Williamson. The office of Assistant Secretary was held by Mr. J. H. Sayre. An " Irregular Ticket" had been put in the field, but only to serve as a vehicle for touching upon the personal peculiarities of its candidates. For thus early in its infancy did the Club show that tendency to cari-

IHE

THE CLUB'S FIRST HOMe.
Tbe Rooms occuPied 'iNre on the corner, .tint floor.

THE BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

3I

cature which has since developed into one of its most marked characteristics. If a member became prominent in any way, or for any reason, or showed that he thought highly of himself,.or was suspected of secretly thinking highly of himself, his frailty was immediately made the subject of artist's pencil and poet's pen. The result has been that conceit is but short-lived in the Club, and a Bohemian is recognizable in any latitude by his extreme modesty. After the installation of the President and his Board of Trustees, it was decided to formally open the Club rooms with an entertainment on April 13th. It was further decided that this preliminary merry-making should be the precursor of others to take place monthly, in accordance with which the following by-law was adopted: "An informal re-union shall be held on the evening of the last Saturday in each month, under the direction of a member to be selected for the occasion by the trustees." The title of " High Jinks" was proposed for these entertainments, a name instantly adopted and since made dear to many hundreds of men. That erudite and wealthy Bohemian manufacturer, Andrew McFarland Davis, once wrote an essay on the genesis of the term, which was published in the now defunct "Californian Magazine." The equally erudite reader knows,

The art of
cancatu1'e.

'The origm

of "HIgh Jinks."

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32

THE ANNALS

OF

The genesis of the term "High Jinks."

of course, that the word is Scotch and was used synonymously with frolic, but more frequently referred to a drinking bout into which some game was introduced where the fine or forfeit was" guzzling scuds," or paying the score for other guzzlers' scuds. The Club, however, borrowed the name directly from Sir Walter Scott's novel of "Guy Mannering," where the High Jinks, presided over by Counselor Pleydell, is of a rather more elevated character than the drinking bouts referred to. And, indeed, the, Bohemian Club entertainment is in no sense a carousal, but an intellectual, artistic and musical revel where drinking is subsidiary and indulged in with that moderation which in the Club's ritual is declared the chief of all virtues. These Jinks have been an institution of the Club now for twenty-five years, and while no two have ever been exactly alike, they have a certain similarity, like pearls upon a string, the string being the stout cord of friendship and good fellowship. The method of procedure is briefly this: The member chosen by the trustees, or directors, to conduct the festivities, is a man noted for some one of those talents for the fostering of which the Club was formed and which the Club ever delights to honor. He is called" Sire." The Sire from his own store of wisdom, if he has any, selects a topic for the evening, literary or otherwise, and selects

THE

BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

33

from the members at large men to deal with it-poets, essayists, orators, humorists, musicians, singers and painters. He then issues a printed invitation to the Club, setting forth the nature of his entertainment with all the originality he or his friends possess. On the appointed evening the Club seats itself individually on chairs hired for the occasion, while the Sire enthroned, as it were, in an easier chair on a platform at one end of the room, with a gavel in his hand and a huge Loving Cup filled with punch placed within easy reach on a lectern in front of him, brings the meeting to order. Then is the theme of the evening discussed in prose, enshrined in verse, solos are sung about it, and glees, instrumental pieces and orchestral effects make it their motive, all of which, served up witp. an accompaniment of such liquid as each member prefers, together with the incense of tobacco, forms a mellow and pleasing entertainment. This is the High Jinks, and from this a Low Jinks naturally developed. For after sandwiches had been devoured (we are speaking now of the good old days and not of the present degenerate times when a supper is served which would make the old-time treasurer stare aghast) the younger members, and eke some of the older ones, gathered about a long table with pipes and beer, and chose a Low Sire to preside over their

'The method of conductti1g a

High Jinks.

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34

THE

ANNALS

OF

The evolution of Low Jinks.

deliberations. Now, this Low Sire must be a man of mettle, for as he rises to his feet he is made the target for a desultory fire of all sorts of irrelevant comments. and witty suggestions, and out of this chaos he must bring order. He calls on some one, whom he chooses at random, for a criticism of the more dignified early evening discourses, a song, a story, anything in fact that will amuse. Sometimes the person called upon instantly uses his opportunity to attack the Sire, and a duel of wit ensues to the delight of the others who constitute themselves judges of the tourney. Sometimes a man sings a song, or plays upon some instrument, or recites. The actors who are occupied with their professional duties during High Jinks usually come in at Low Jinks and add greatly to the fun, as the persistent reader will find out later on, for he is going to attend twenty-five years of Jinks; a whole quarter of a century of merriment awaits him. So we will merely add that in the last twenty-five years the Low Jinks has changed more than the High Jinks, the increased membership having made the cosy gathering around the table and the impromptu drollery impossible, so that it has gradually been elaborated into a performance on a stage, a play, an operetta, or variety show, composed and acted by the members. From almost the beginning, it has been the custom

34

THE

ANNALS

OF

The evolution of Low ]tnks.

deliberations. Now, this Low Sire must be a man of mettle, for as he rises to his feet he is made the target for a desultory fire of all sorts of irrelevant comments. and witty suggestions, and out of this chaos he must bring order. He calls on some one, whom he chooses at random, for a criticism of the more dignified early evening discourses, a song, a story, anything in fact that will amuse. Sometimes the person called upon instantly uses his opportunity to attack the Sire, and a duel of wit ensues to the delight of the others who constitute themselves judges of the tourney. Sometimes a man sings a song, or plays upon some instrument, or recites. The actors who are occupied with their professional duties during High Jinks usually come in at Low Jinks and add greatly to the fun, as the persistent reader will find out later on, for he is going to attend twenty-five years of Jinks; a whole quarter of a century of merriment awaits him. So we will merely add that in the last twenty-five years the Low Jinks has changed more than the High Jinks, the increased membership having made the cosy gathering around the table and the impromptu drollery impossible, so that it has gradually been elaborated into a performance on a stage, a play, an operetta, or variety show, composed and acted by the members. From alm?st the beginning, it has been the custom

THE BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

35

to commemorate each Jinks by a picture done by one of the artists, in which he represents the theme of the evening according to his own wild and unkempt fancy, and these pictures are hung upon the walls where they form a history of the Club, despite the derelict historiographer. The earlier cartoons were done in pen and ink, or with charcoal on wrapping paper, cheaply framed, then the efforts gradually became more ambitious, some of them being finished pictures of great value framed in frames of gold. Some of the old members protest that as the value of the frames increases the merits of the pictures decrease, and that the cartoons, the music, the literature and all that formerly went to make the Club, has distinctly deteriorated since the old days on Sacramento Street. But this is sentiment, and as such is reverenced in the Club even by the youngsters, who solemnly agree with their seniors and wink the other eye. This solemnity of visage and slG'';" descending eyelid is the first lesson learned by the young Bohemian from his tutelary genius, the Owl. For at the beginning of the Club's existence the owl was chosen to preside over its destinies. It first appears in print on an invitation to a Jinks in December, 1872, surmounting an elk's skull and horns in a small circular design. The elk horns

The mutations of
Low ji11ks.

Jinks

cartoons.

THE ANNALS

OF

The Club's motto.

were afterwards abandoned and the owl appears sometimes grasping a branch as in the seal on page 9, or medit'ative1y perched upon a human skull. The initial letter at the beginning of this chapter is a drawing of one of these mortuary owls, of which there are several in the Club's present home. One of the most beautiful of the many representations of the bird is the bronze by Giessling, given to the Club by Mr. James Freeborn, a reproduction of which is attempted on the title page. The Club also adopted a motto in this first year, "WEAVING SPIDERS COME NOT HERE," a quotation aimed at its ancient enmity for the dull plodder whose sole ambition in life is money-getting.

THE BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

17

CHAPTER
18i2-1873.

IV. article deThe Club's
domestic
enVirOn11'ltllts.

NEWSPAPER

scribing that first entertainment on Saturday, April 13tb, 1872, says that ," the Club threw open its ~l rooms to its members and their lady friends." The rooms that were thus royally thrown open have already been described. The larger had been fitted up as a reading and lounging room, while the smaller was furnished with a side-board and a small, free lunch table of monastic simplicity; these latter were in charge of a West Indian by the name of Parker. Parker was a tall, colored man, self-contained and ceremonious, as one appreciating the dignity of being a club steward. A few months afterward when he was given an assistant, he took unto himself added stature and the title of head steward. It was in this character that a very clever likeness was painted of him by one of the artists, Mr. Joseph D. Strong-Mr. Strong being the painter who later on figures in Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson's story of the "Silverado Squatters." The landlady of whom these apartments were rented was irreverently known as" Mrs. MacStinger." From

THE ANNALS

OF

The Club
1'eceives t'ts

lady friends.

all accounts she was a sour female, hard and exacting, who presented her bill for the ensuing month's rent with awful promptitude at eight o'clock on the morning of the first, accompanying it with a most alarming bill for last month's gas. These then were the rooms, and these the domestic environments which, according to that ancient newspaper article referred to, and which we may fairly guess was written by one of the Bohemian journalists, "presented a scene which, were it not for circumscribing walls, made an ideal picture of an ideal Bohemia in which art, fancy and literature dwelt." No invitations were issued, but each member brought his lady friends in the afternoon, who "one and all declared themselves as charmed with their reception by the new Bohemian Club, and many were the wishes expressed that they, too, might be allowed to become members." Shades of MacStinger! Think of it, ye bachelor members of to-day. But the night was given over to the men. A banquet was served at which fifty members and invited guests sat down, and the toasts that were given and responded to, and the songs that were sung at this first Bohemian revel may be imagined, in fact, must be imagined, for there is no record of them. The first few Jinks appear to have been of an informal nature, the contributions not being confined to

THE BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

39
'The

any special subject. This, in fact, was the formative period of these peculiar gatherings, and from the very first a high standard was set up. It was quite natural that in a miscellaneous assembly of this sort there should be those who allowed their wit and humor rather more latitude than was quite seemly. But the Club invariably showed disapproval of any such display of bad taste. Finally this feeling culminated in a dramatic scene. Some of the old members recollect a certain variety actor whom we will call Blank. In private life he had the manners of a gentleman, was well read and a delightfully entertaining companion. He was a prominent member of "The Jolly Corks" at the time the Bohemians had used that society's rooms, and had been most cordial in his offers of assistance to the new organization. In acknowledgment of these courtesies, Blank was elected to the Bohemians, and at one of the early Jinks he read what purported to be a poem by Byron, which was, to put it mildly, somewhat indecorous. The Club submitted to it for the first fifteen or twenty lines, and then Newcomb, the President, got up and protested. He spoke earnestly, and with some feeling, declaring that while he was not prudish or inclined to assume any exalted plane of morality, he felt it his duty as President of the Club to point out the danger of such ribaldry, that vulgarity

formative period of the Jinks.

The President preserves the proprieties.

I'

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_.

__

·r •

-

THE

ANNALS

OF

was not wit, and that as one gentleman in the society of others, he, f6r one, felt no call to sit there quietly and listen to it. Moreover, that if the Jinks of the Bohemian Club were to be characterized by licentiousness, he begged to tender his resignation as President then and there. Poor Blank was much astonished and quite overwhelmed by this unexpected rebuke and protested that he had no intention of offending anybody, and with tears in his eyes begged everybody's pardon individually and collectively. The affair, of course, rather spoiled that particular Jinks, but it had a most salutary effect in raising forever the tone of the Jinks which followed. In May, 1872, Dr. Octave Pavy came to town. Dr. Pavy was a handsome, wel+-bred man, the son of a wealthy Louisianian, whose mission in San Francisco was to organize an exploring expedition to the North Pole by way of Behring Sea, the route taken in later years by Lieutenant De Long in the illfated " Jeannette." The members of the infant Bohemian Club promptly seized this opportunity to encourage daring in others, and publicly set its seal of approval on science. On June 3d it gave Dr. Pavy a dinner at Martin's restaurant on Commercial street. Thirty - six members were present, and

The dInner to Dr. Pavy.

THE BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

{1

THE BOHEMIANS AT WORK.
- From tbe cartoon by Fren?:eny.
T. L. Johns, the journalist, is sitting at the table writwg; the man with tbe 'Punch and Judy show
is Henry Edwards; the singer is Sayres; the photograPher is Rulofson; tbe long-baired the brush is Samuel 'Brooks, the painter, while the lawyer at the back is Judge "Dwinelle. person wtth

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THE ANNALS

OF

among the guests were Selwyn, the dramatic manager, and Nordhoff, who was correspondent for" Harper's Weekly." The bills of fare were embellished by Denny, the marine painter, and Mr. Kidd, a visiting artist from Boston. Polar bears prowled around the soup, and ice-bergs overhung the dessert, while speeches,' songs and stories were encrusted with barnacles and glowed with hyperborean fire. Dr. Pavy, however, did not go to the Arctic regions. For some reason the expedition failed to take shape. Afterward the unfortunate gentleman accompanied the Greely expedition to the North, where he lost his life under most distressing circumstances.
Harry
Edwards' Benefit at

Platt's Hall.

On September 26th the Club gave a "Grand Testimonial Benefit" to Mr. Harry Edwards at Platt's Hall. Mr. Edwards was an actor in the excellent stock company which at that time was making a reputation for the old California Theater. Mr. Edwards was also an entomologist of some note and an accomplished writer. Among those who assisted at this benefit were John McCullough, Anna Elzer, Owen Marlowe, J. C. Williamson, Mestayer, Herr Muller and Prof. Fabbri, besides the California Theater Orchestra under Charlie Schultz, not to mention Mr. Robert Eberle, who was stage

THE BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

manager. Newcomb wrote a farce for the occasion called "The Diamond Dividend," which was played by Bohemian Club amateurs. The first Jinks of which the theme was formally announced beforehand, seems to have been that given on November 30th, 1872, and of which Mr. O'Connell was Sire. The subject, or subjects, were "Tom Moore and Offenbach." This affair appears to have had a stimulating effect on the Club, for in a burst of extravagance it authorized the finance committee to purchase "four picture frames and a coal box." This episode was followed High Jinks, of which James F. the literary and musical exercises tive of the ancient festival of by the Christmas Bowman was Sire, being "commemoraChristmas." The

"Tom and Jinks. "

Moore

Offenbach

Christmas

jinks.

subject of the Jinks of February 17th was" Tom Hood, the Humorist," Frank G. Newlands, the present United States Senator'from Nevada, being the Sire. Additional interest is attached to this latter occasion for tbe reason that here for the first time was produced an elaborately lettered program in pen and ink, embellished by little caricatures of the performers. This sheet was tbe work of Mr.

"Tom Hood" Jinks.

W r.

!J'(ewlands.

[Mr.).

G. Denny.

THE ANNALS
How Mr.
Bosqui and Mr. Newcomb drew the first Jinks cartoon.

OF

Edward Bosqui and Thomas Newcomb, who III secret conclave had devised it to add amusement to the Jinks. They drew better than they knew, for this modest effort proved to be the forerunner of that great host of cartoons which now crowd the walls of the Club. The Jinks of March 29th, 1873, was an anniversary occasion, and was what is caned a close Jinks, no invitations being issued to other than members. The President was Sire and the subject was "William Makepeace Thackeray." The cartoon III pen and ink is, like its predecessor, the result of the combined efforts of Bosqui and Newcomb. And this finished the first year of the Bohemian Club's existence, a date further marked by the adoption of its present Coat of Arms, which was designed by the wen-known marine painter, the late G. J. Denny. The Club has a number of canvasses by this talented artist ou its walls. Of those who joined the Club in its first year, there remain with it at the present day, General Barnes, T. B. Bishop, H. R. Bloomer, Arpad Harazthy, R. C. Harrison, Colonel Hawes, J. N. H. Irwin, Reuben H. Lloyd, Henry Marshall, Captain J. M. McDonald, Paul Neumann, Thomas Newcomb, Daniel O'Connell and Charles W. Stoddard. Mr. Newcomb, who so ably

Some of the old members.

THE

BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

45

steered the Bohemian ship through the troubled waters at the beginning of its cruise, went to New York in 1876, and for many years ceased to be a member of the organization. In 1890, however, he again became identified with the Club, being created an honorary member. His portrait looks down upon us from the walls, young, genial and debonair, while men who were scarcely out of kilts when he relinquished the gavel, point the picture out to visiting strangers with affectionate familiarity as "Tommy Newcomb, our first President."

Mr, Newcomb drawin¥ cartoons.

THE

BOHEMIAN

CLUB.

45

steered the Bohemian ship through the troubled waters at the beginning of its cruise, went to New York in 1876, and for many years ceased to be a member of the organization. In 1890, however, he again became identified with the Club, being created an honorary member. His portrait looks down upon us from the walls, young, genial and debonair, while men who were scarcely out of kilts when he relinquished the gavel, point the picture out to visiting strangers with affectionate familiarity as "Tommy Newcomb, our first President."

Mr. Newcomb drawing cartoons.