The Century, 1847-1946

The Century, 1847-1946

The Century, 1847-1946

The Century, 1847-1946

Excerpt

"How comes it that, after all, the Century is the same and the spirit of the founders of three-quarters of a century ago still remains among the associates who know them only by tradition? Good fellowship, and friendship, a sane and gentle philosophy of life, sympathy in love of beauty and in art and literature and character, have not been frightened away by the rude alarums and excursions of a turbulent world." So spoke Elihu Root in celebration of our seventy-fifth birthday; and a generation later, as we consider these pages, our first thought must echo his words.

The plan of this centennial volume is clear. Its designers aimed simply to tell the story of the Century throughout its hundred years. The shrewd and patient historians, individuals all, to whom we are indebted for the admirable narrative, had no thesis to maintain. Their sole effort has been to present the years of the Club as they found them, the heroes, the festivals, the customs, its rôle in art and in literature, its solemnities and its ribaldries, against the pattern of the times.

What is central and extraordinary in the result, I submit, is the unity of the five chronological chapters. The names change; great figures arise and depart; the Gallery, the Library, the Kitchen, have their good decades and their less than good decades; words alter and what was a Festival in ancient times becomes a Twelfth Night; the social habits of the town shift Saturday night to Thursday night and, in a measure, dinner to luncheon; the membership grows with the city and the nation. The traditions stand, the spirit abides.

"I postulate the continuity," wrote T. E. Brown, a wise nineteenth century Englishman. And not only in a basic sense, but at every level, his words hold truth. The entire world moves uninterruptedly, has advanced step by step. When man arrives, what has there been as inevitable, as indestructible, as human nature, subtile and fragile as it appears! Here is, indeed, the true David who over the millennia has defied in turn every Goliath--ice and fire, the wild beasts, pestilence and war. Through his unbroken will, the race has survived, ideas have prevailed, institutions have flourished.

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