acter with the anecdote of his reply to the beggar who petitioned him for alms, even if it was only a halfpenny: ” Poor fellow,” said the Beau, in a tone of good-nature, ” I have heard of such a coin, but I never possessed one; there’s a shilling for you !”
With Brummell’s early history, every one in Calais was acquainted, and he was sometimes the subject of conversation, even amongst the English workmen of the tulle factories in the town. A friend of his who was not unlike him in his general appearance, was one day overtaken in his walk to the Citadel by two of them, and, as they passed, he overheard one of them say to the other, ” Now I’ll bet you a pot, that’s him.” The gentleman did not hear the reply, but they had scarcely gone twenty yards further, when they turned suddenly round, and retracing their steps, one of them came straight up to him, and said, ” Beg pardon, sir, hope no offence, but we two has got a bet—now ain’t you ‘ George, ring the bell ?'” The gentleman thus addressed, assured them that he was not Mr. Brummell, and the two tullistes having again made their rough apologies, departed to drink their pot at the next cabaret. What a pity it did not happen to be the Beau himself; what would have been his astonishment and reply to such an assault!
The Beau in Love—A Visit from a Friend of the Lady’s—Brummell’s Reply to his Accusations—Extract from the ” Letters of a German Piince”—This Traveller at Constantinople—His Black Compagnon de Voyage—Brummell Endeavours to Obtain an Appointment— Is at length Successful, and made Consul at Caen—Difficulty of leaving Calais—His Liabilities—The Sale of his Buhl—Erection of the British Episcopal Chapel—Brummell puts his Name to the Subscription List—Is Invited to Meet the Bishop-^Lcaves Calais— The Courier’s Account of their Journey to Paris.
During the latter part of his stay at Calais, the occupation of completing his screen being thrown aside, he found time so heavy on his hands, that he actually contrived to fancy himself in love with a young lady in her teens, and rumour with her hundred tongues not only accused her of returning his passion, but insinuated that he had concocted a deep-laid plan of abduction! in this state of affairs, it was thought right to send a person to Brummell to demand an explanation—a very unnecessary measure, for there was not a word of truth in that part of the report. A gallant officer, full of years and commissariat glories, who once had a shoeing establishment in London that did not answer, was deputed to see Brummell on the occasion; the ambassador was well chosen, for he was both charitable and conscientious. He accordingly waited on him, and after explaining his business, expatiated most fully and eloquently on the heinous nature of the supposed offence; in fact, said everything that would have been right and proper if the story had been really true. “Why, Vulcan,” said the gay Lothario, ” what a precious old humbug you must be, to come and lecture me on such a subject! you who were for two years at hide-andseek to save yourself from being shot by Sir T.
S , for running off with one of his daughters.”
” Dear me, dear me,” said the astonished mediator, little dreaming that his youthful follies were known to any one at Calais, “you have touched a painful chord. It is true: I was once indiscreet myself; I will have nothing more to do with the business,”— nor was there any necessity, for the affair died a natural death.
Amongst those who dropped in upon Brummell about this time, January 1829, was that amusing and veracious traveller, and profound judge of English society, the author of the Letters of a German Prince;l and from this work I extract the portion which describes his visit, as it finishes with a speech perfectly characteristic of the Beau. ” Every bird of passage from the fashionable world dutifully pays the former patriarch the tribute of a visit, or of an invitation to dinner. This I did also, though under my assumed name. Unfortunately, in the matter of dinner I had been forestalled by another stranger; and I cannot therefore judge how a coat really ought to look; or whether his long residence in Calais, added to increasing years, have rendered the dress of the former King of Fashion less classical, for I found him at his second toilette, in a flowered chintz dressinggown, velvet night-cap with gold tassel, and Turkish slippers, shaving, and rubbing the remains of his teeth with his favourite red root. The furniture of his rooms was elegant enough, part of it might even be called rich, though faded; and I cannot deny that the whole man seemed to me to correspond with it. Though depressed by his present situation, he exhibited a considerable fund of good humour and goodnature. His air was that of good society, simple and natural, and marked by more urbanity than the dandies of the present race are capable of. With a smile he showed me his Paris peruke, which he extolled at the cost of the English ones, and called himself, ‘le ci-devant jeune homme qui passe sa vie entre Paris et Londres.’ He appeared somewhat curious about me, asked me questions concerning people and things in London, without belying his good breeding by any kind of intrusiveness; and then took occasion to convince me that he was still perfectly well informed as to all that was passing in the English world of fashion, as well as of politics. ‘Je suis au fait de tout/ exclaimed he, ‘ mais & quoi cela me sert-il ? on me laisse mourir de faim ici. J’espere pourtant que mon
1 This German prince, named Puckler-Muskare (1785-1871), amongst many other books, wrote a Diary of Travels in England, Wales, Ireland, France, Germany and Holland, under the title of Briefe eines Verstorbenen. This diary, published in 1830-1831, in 5 vols., was translated into English.
ancien ami le Due de W enverra un beau jour le
consul d’ici en Chine, et qu’ensuite il me nommera& sa place. Alors je suis sauveV And surely the English nation ought in justice to do something for the man who invented starched cravats! How many did l see in London, in the enjoyment of large sinecures, who had done far less for their country. As I took my leave, and was going down stairs, he opened the door, and called after me, ‘ J’espere que vous trouverez votre chemin; mon Suisse n’est pas la, je crains.’ ‘ Helas !’ thought I, ‘ point d’argent point de Suisse.'”
It is a thousand pities that this German Prince did not remain another day at Calais, and give Brummell a dinner at Dessin’s, as he proposed; for he would have gained some information on the subject of ” how a coat really ought to look,” which, judging from the one I saw him in ten years after, at Constantinople, he stood lamentably in need of,—so abundantly was it befrogged and bebraided. He was remarkable, too, in another respect, for he carried an eye-glass on the top of his cane, which being constantly in proximity to his nose, had a most comical effect. But, stranger still, he was that morning, and I understood usually, accompanied by a young Nubian girl, whose face was as black as his own boots, and much better polished, and who frolicked about him like a juvenile spaniel of