19th Century, Ultimate Dandy, George Brummell (Part 3)

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King Charles’s breed. This curious appendage was dressed in man’s clothes, and she looked pretty, in spite of her ebony hue and crimson trousers. I did not learn her exact history, which must have been a curious one. It was whispered (no doubt the scandal of some white woman) that her lover had rescued her from the jaws of a crocodile on the banks of the Nile!

After the King’s visit to Hanover, Brummell, at various intervals, tried to induce some of his powerful friends to interest themselves in obtaining an appointment for him, and at length the Duke of York undertook to advocate his cause with Mr. Canning, and endeavour to prevail upon him to give effect to his wishes. The minister replied, that if His Royal Highness insisted on it he would do so, but that he could not recommend Mr. Brummell’s name to His Majesty on his own responsibility; and this attempt failed. At a later period Lord Alvanley, knowing the distressed state that he was in, applied to the Duke of Wellington, who was then in power, and who good-naturedly undertook to mention the subject to William the Fourth.


A paper of the day stated, that when the Whigs came into office, Brummell wrote to Lord Grey, and to several of his other friends of that party, imploring them to do something for him, and that he owed his situation to that nobleman. But the Whigs did not assume the reins till 1831 : and Brummell himself always said, that he owed his appointment entirely to the ” favourable consideration of the commander-in-chief.” The result was, that, on the loth of September 1830, he was entrusted with the extensive commercial interests of the British nation, in the capital of Lower Normandy. The remainder of his days were to be devoted to the inspection of persons with fronts e’erase’s, cheveux roux, sourcils idem, ycux grisalres, nez retrousse’s, and visages bourgeonnis; and his lecture to the verification of passports, bills of lading, invoices, and mercantile papers of all kinds.


His very success in obtaining this consulate was, however, the source of fresh difficulties to him, for he could not leave the town till all his debts were paid, and they then amounted to a very large sum. His creditors were far from being urgent in their demands, as long as it was likely that he would remain amongst them, but they were not at all inclined to part with them without a settlement of their accounts. To meet their demands he had a sale of his buhl furniture, which sold for a considerable sum. His Sevres china had been bought some time before by Mr. Crockford, junior, then an auctioneer; who, according to his own statement, went over to Calais solely for the purpose of making this purchase. Mr. Crockford described this china as ” the finest and purest ever imported into England.” George the Fourth gave two hundred guineas for one tea-set, and a pair of the vases was sold for three hundred pounds. Some of these rare specimens of porcelain are now in the possession of the Duke of Buccleuch. But the money raised by the sale of his buhl was insufficient to satisfy half the claims against him, the account of his banker, Mr. Leveux, alone being at this time twelve thousand francs on the wrong side.

It may appear strange that this gentleman should have advanced so large an amount on mere personal security, but it must be borne in mind that during Brummell’s residence at Calais, particularly in the early part of it, large sums were lodged in Mr. Leveux’s hands by him; his prepossessing manner also (for Mr. Leveux, like Mr. Leleux, said that “on ne pourrait rien lui refuser “) was another inducement, as well as the circumstance of his being always seen in the company of every man of rank who came into the town. Many of them cashed their bills by Brummell’s introduction at his bank, and it was perhaps this which induced Mr. Leveux to accommodate him. A running account was therefore established between them, which, agreeably to the advice given to his friend from the window, was always in advance, and amounted by degrees to the sum already mentioned. His other liabilities were as follows:


To his valet, Frangois Se’legue, for house

expenses and et ceteras . . .6162 Bill at Dessin’s for dinners . . . 3488

Lefevre, hatter 54

Lamotte, \

Pion, \^OIS 373


Lafond Bressell, \

Bonvarlet, I upholsterers . . 75

Lemoine, J

Parque” Waillier, draper …. 309

Ducastel, decorator of ceilings … 24

Desiardins. ) . ,,

_, . , ‘ > jewellers . … 35

Boissard, JJ .”

Fasquel, bootmaker 150

Piedfort, pemiquier. …. 8

Washerwoman. . . . . .100

Fille de chambre ….. 50

Isaac Pecquet, banker …. 500

Cr. o Dr. 11504

The two tailors, Pion and Lamotte, were tyros in the art, and were only entrusted with repairs. His principal artiste in the way of clothes was a man of the name of Gaussin, who had been a prisoner in England, and returned to Calais after the peace in a very miserable condition. Finding that he had talent, Brummell patronised him; this led others to do so, and the pauvre prisonnier was enabled, shortly after the Beau’s departure, to retire to his ” otium” and cabbages in the country. In fact, most of those who had any pecuniary transactions with Brummell were well paid; and when, like Gaussin, they were the objects of his patronage, made their fortunes. Two chemists’ bills also swell the list of small creditors; but the reader need not fancy that he went to them for tonics, the barrel of Dorchester ale supplied the place of their villanous drugs: his sympathy on the score of health is not required just yet: their bills were simply for huile antique and cold cream. Three upholsterers look very like the departure of the buhl furniture and the ladies of his harem; and the last item shows that in every possible instance he kept all his bankers in advance. The consumption of one hundred and seventy-six francs’ worth of oils and cold cream, offers a pretty example of the extravagant character of his ordinary habits in dress.

Admiration of the hydropathic cure is now the fashionable medical epidemic; and though prodigality is not separately named in the long list of maladies which Mr. Claridge has assured us may be cured at Graffenberg, there can be but little doubt that, as this disease is a mere species of madness, it might be successfully treated there. Two or three months of the doctor’s mild but invigorating system of sitz baths, douche baths, curds and whey, wet sheets, sour krout, and hewing wood, would have been of infinite service to the Beau; and, cured, like a Westphalian ham, he would have arrived at Caen a perfect specimen of prudence and economy; unfortunately, however, the planet Priessnitz had not then risen to us.

But Brummell was not only prodigal of his cold cream, but of his promises, and when his cash was low, no one in Calais was more prompt to make them, or to attach his signature to a list of subscribers for any purpose, than he was. In 1829, when a collection was made for the erection of an Episcopal chapel in that town, the person appointed to go round did not omit to pay him a visit and request his support.

19th Century, The Ultimate Dandy, George Brummell (Part 2)

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That part of her gossip relating to Brummell’s charitable donations is perfectly in char

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 LoveA Visit from a Friend of the Lady’sBrummell’s Reply to his AccusationsExtract from the ” Letters of a German Piince”This Traveller at ConstantinopleHis Black Compagnon de VoyageBrummell Endeavours to Obtain an AppointmentIs at length Successful, and made Consul at CaenDifficulty of leaving CalaisHis LiabilitiesThe Sale of his BuhlErection of the British Episcopal ChapelBrummell puts his Name to the Subscription ListIs Invited to Meet the Bishop-^Lcaves CalaisThe 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

19th Century, The Ultimate Dandy, George Brummell (Part 1)

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The life of George Brummell, esq:

commonly called Beau Brummell,

Volume 1 (Part 1)

By William Jesse BEAU BRUMMELL.


Early Distinctions in DressMilton’s EveThe Roman ExquisiteThe Native Princes of BritainHotspur’s FopThe Beaux in the Reign of Charles the SecondBeau Until!Bfau WilsonBean FieldingBeau EdgeworthBeau NashPetrarchLord ByronThe Abbe DelillePrince KaunitzEnglish Fops.

Those who yet remain of his generation, but who were not acquainted with the subject of these memoirs, will, no doubt, be astonished that any one should have taken the trouble to be his biographer, and much wonder what there can possibly be to say about Beau Brummell—unless, indeed, it were to give the impertinent witticisms currently reported of him. But of those contemporaries who knew him intimately and still survive, few will be surprised that I have found some amusement in col





Death of the Duchess of YorkThe Petition of a Newfoundland Dog, addressed to Her Royal HighnessBrummelfs Memorandum on the Back of itGeorge the Fourth Arrives at CalaisThe Dinner at DessirisThe Mayor Unfortunately without a Snuff-boxThe King’s Remark on Leaving the TownThe Beau’s increasing Embarrassments—The Totacconitt’s Opinion of him—The English Tullistes—Their Odd Assault on one of Bntmmell’s Friends.

In the August of 1820, Brummell lost one of his best benefactors. The Duchess of York died on the 6th of that month. Deeply, and let us hope feelingly, did her pensioner deplore that event; for, by the demise of that amiable woman, he was deprived of one of his firmest friends, and much valuable assistance and sympathy, arising from her keen sense of the change in his position, and the generous impulses of a kind heart.


Few characters,” says Mr. Raikes, ” in any situation of life, could be placed in competition with the late Duchess of York; she was not only a tresgrande dame, in the highest acceptation of the term, but a woman of the most sound sense and accurate judgment, with a heart full of kindness, beneficence, and charity. The former was amply proved, by the adroitness and tact with which she so successfully avoided all collision with the cabals and tracasseries, which for so many years unfortunately ruled in various branches of the royal family; and the latter was attested by the constant attachment of her friends and dependants ; the gratitude of her poor neighbours during her life, and the undisguised grief of all at her death. Whatever clouds (if indeed they ever existed) obscured the earlier part of her marriage, were in later times completely dispersed; and nothing could equal the respect and attention with which she was always treated by the Duke, who rarely failed to consult her opinion on most questions of real importance to his own interests. To the distinguished manners belonging to her rank, and a proper sense of the dignity befitting her exalted position in the country, she added a simplicity of character and a general affability which placed every one at their ease, and gave a peculiar charm to her society. Endowed by nature with a very superior mind, which had been highly cultivated and improved by books, she was at all times able to take the lead on any subject; her conversation was full of point, blended with great naivete, and devoid of all sarcastic allusions; she had a very refined taste, and a great knowledge of the world; but, contrary to all received opinions, her study of mankind had never operated to check that feeling of general benevolence which formed the brightest gem in her character.”

The extraordinary passion that Her Royal Highness had for dogs has been already mentioned; it was probably generally known, and accounts for the following curious petition having been sent to her, in the name of a fine Newfoundland, by some person who was desirous of having him well taken care of:—


” The humble Petition of Neptune

” Sheweth,—

” That your Royal Highness’s Petitioner, at an age so early that no trace of the circumstance is recorded in his memory, was torn from his fond mother and native mountains of Newfoundland, by an officer of the British navy, who during his life was a kind master to him; that, at his ever to be lamented death, your Royal Highness’s Petitioner encountered many hardships of cold, hunger, and neglect; that he was rescued from this unhappy situation by an officer of militia, and by him sent as an offering of friendship to his present protector, who has ever treated him with kindness and humanity! but alas! your Royal Highness’s humble Petitioner is fated again to experience ‘ the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune, ‘ unless your Royal Highness, with that benevolence which marks every action of your life, will stretch out your humane hand to save him. The gentleman with whom he now resides is under the necessity of leaving England, and, finding it inconvenient to make your Petitioner the companion of his travels, intends to part with him, when he may become the slave of some unfeeling master, who may, in addition to the sufferings he has already endured, deprive him of that liberty he loves, the only blessing of which fate has never yet bereft him.

” Humbly then does your Royal Highness’s Petitioner implore your Royal Highness to take him into your service, and every moment of his life (if permitted) shall be passed at your Royal feet, and his faithful mind be filled with fidelity, gratitude, and attachment towards his Royal Benefactress: on the earth, or in the water, he will be a zealously-devoted attendant and humble friend, who will fawn, without meaning to flatter, and would endanger his own life to defend that of his generous Mistress, most happy to follow her Royal footsteps through the sequestered glades of Oatlands, pursue her carriage, panting with dutiful devotion, or swim round her barge as it glides on the silver Thames.

” Without vanity, your Royal Highness’s Petitioner may boast of being, in strength, beauty, and fidelity, equal to any dog his frozen clime ever produced ; and,

happiest of the canine race will he be, if permitted the transcendent felicity of dedicating the remainder of his life to your Royal Highness’s service. Oh ! most amiable Duchess, grant this, your Petitioner’s humble prayer, and he, with all the fervour his heart and language are capable of, will ever, ever pray.

” Neptune.

P.S.—A line, by command of your Royal Highness, addressed under cover to Mr. , Street,

Westminster, if your Royal Highness deigns to accept his services, will bring your Petitioner, with awful respect, to your gate.”

This petition was forwarded to the Duchess of York in September 1815, and on the back of a copy of it presented by Brummell to a friend of the author’s, was the following note, which, from the appearance of the ink, had evidently been written by him a short time after Her Royal Highness’s demise—probably when looking over his portfolio of recollective relics.

” The Duchess of York immediately sent for this amiable dog : his previous master would never reveal his name to Her Royal Highness. Five years after, Her Royal Highness, to the deep regret of all the world, died, and this poor animal walked in procession at her funeral. It is no romance, but the dog lingered in evident affliction, and died ten months after! The Duchess gave me this petition.

” George Brummell.”

In the September of the following year, 1821, the greatest event of his Calais life took place ; the royal personage at whose festive board he had in former days been so frequent a guest, arrived in that town. George the Fourth was on his way to visit his Hanoverian subjects, and the place was not a little shaken from its monotonous routine by that occurrence. Fishing-boats were laid up, and the fisherwomen set ” all alive O “—the authorities furbished up their old uniforms, and the Duke d’Angouleme, who had been deputed by Louis the Eighteenth to congratulate His Majesty on his arrival in the French dominions, received him at Dessin’s Hotel, and there they put up their horses together. When the King landed, the pier was crowded with spectators, and as he stepped on shore from his barge, his hat fell from his hand : this accident a quick-witted urchin immediately took advantage of, and rushing forward, restored it to His Majesty, who put his hand into his pocket, and drew forth enough of the precious metals to provide his impromptu page with peg-tops and brioches for years to come.

But where was the Beau all this time ? According to one rumour, he accompanied the Mayor to the landing-place, ready to profit by any opportunity that might occur of placing himself in the King’s way. But this is an error; Brummell had gone out to take his accustomed walk in an opposite direction, and was returning to his lodgings at the very moment that his former patron, accompanied by the French ambassador, was proceeding in a close carriage to the hotel. ” I was standing at my shop door,” said Mr. Leleux, ” and saw Mr. Brummell trying to make his way across the street to my house, but the crowd was so great that he could not succeed, and he was therefore obliged to remain on the opposite side. Of course, all hats were taken off as the carriage approached, and when it was close to the door, I heard the King say in a loud voice, ‘ Good God! Brummell!’ the latter, who was uncovered at that time, now crossed over, as pale as death, entered the house by the private door, and retired to his room, without addressing me.”

A sumptuous dinner was given in the evening at Dessin’s, and Selegue, Brummell’s valet, who was a chef in his way, attended to make the punch; he took with him, also, by his master’s orders, some excellent maraschino, a liqueur to which he remembered the King was extremely partial, though cannelle was, I believe, his favourite dram. In the afternoon it was observed, His Majesty was not in his usual spirits; was this occasioned by his recognition of the morning, and to the uncertainty whether Brummell would make his appearance or not ? Chi lo sa ? he never came— the maraschino at dinner diminished any unpleasant feeling (if it ever did exist) that the dread of such a contretemps might have created, and the evening passed off admirably. The Mayor, and several of the civil functionaries, were invited and came to the fete; and after dinner, the King requested the former to lend him his snuff-box, but he replied, he did not take snuff, and had no box. The commissaire de police, being a sharp specimen of that branch of the Government, immediately presented his ; His Majesty accepted it, took a pinch, which, in all probability, he allowed to fall on the floor, and the next morning sent him a gold box. It was on occasions like these that George the Fourth displayed his tact in bestowing favours, and Monsieur le Maire is said to have felt at that moment not a little annoyed that he did not carry a box. This gentleman was a wine-merchant, and a friend of Brummell’s ; he recommended him to several of his friends, and his wine being very bad, I believe that most of them found it difficult to forget and forgive the introduction.

The morning after the King’s arrival, every one of his

suite, with the exception of Sir , afterwards

Lord , called on Brummell. His visitors remained

some time, and before they took their leave, endeavoured to persuade him to request an interview with the King, as he returned to England; Brummell had written his name in the book at Dessin’s, but abstained from presenting himself, as he probably felt that a refusal to see him would be an indignity to which he did not choose to be exposed : though his finances at this time were anything but flourishing, and an official appointment of some kind would have been a most desirable thing for him, he felt, even in his difficulties, most unwilling to cringe to the only man who could grant him the favour he so much needed. It has been stated that, during the King’s stay at Calais, Brummell sent him a box of snuff, and that His Majesty, having previously heard that he was in distress, said, ” I understand what it means,” placed a hundred pound note in it, and returned it by one of his suite, desiring him at the same time to say that he could not see him.

The English papers gave out, that he stood in a conspicuous position in the lobby of the theatre when the King went to his box, with the view of bringing their former intimacy to his remembrance, and profiting thereby; and that His Majesty bowed to him, and sent him a present during the evening. Another edition of the story was, that the Beau’s present of snuff was accompanied by two or three yards of sausages, that he had selected and purchased himself at some charcutier’s in the town, who was famous for these delicacies; but sausages and Beau Brummell do not read consistently together. According to M. Leleux, the real version of the snuff-box story was this:— The Consul came to Brummell late one evening, and intimated that the King was out of snuff, saying, as he took up one of the boxes that were lying on the Beau’s table, ” Give me one of yours.” ” With all my heart,” replied Brummell, ” but not that box, for if the King saw it I should never have it again :” implying thereby that there was some history attached to it in which His Majesty was concerned. On reaching the theatre, the Consul presented the snuff, when an exclamation followed the first pinch, and the King turning round said, ” Why, sir, where did you get

your snuff? there is only one person that I know who can mix snuff in this way.” ” It is some of Mr. Brummell’s, your Majesty,” replied the Consul, and the conversation here closed.

The next day the King left for Cassel; and, as he seated himself in the carriage, he said to Sir Arthur Paget, who commanded the yacht that brought him over, ” I leave Calais, and have not seen Brummell.” This remark was heard by several persons who were assembled in the yard of Dessin’s hotel, and leads to the conclusion that Brummell never received either money or message, and that the whole story was a fabrication. M. Leleux said, that had he been the King’s debtor on this occasion, he must have known it, for that Brummell was at this time in great want of money, and remained so; besides, directly he had any funds, he always paid a portion of his bills, which was not the case at this period.

The King’s visit, on which he had probably rested some hopes, produced no amelioration in the Beau’s now reduced circumstances, and was only a source of annoyance to him. But the remark made by His Majesty to Sir Arthur Paget, implying that he had in some degree expected Brummell to make his appearance at the public levee held at the hotel, possibly diminished the fear he felt of receiving a rebuff. This, combined with the previous persuasions of those who wished him to do the best for himself, determined him to make some approach to a meeting with His Majesty on his return, though he could not bring

[graphic][merged small]

himself to call, without receiving some official intimation that such was the King’s pleasure : by inscribing his name in the book at Dessin’s, he had fulfilled the etiquette due to his sovereign, and no one could presume to do more without receiving the Royal commands. The authorities expected that, on his way back to England, the King would visit the Town Hall, and Brummell thought he should have been able to accomplish his purpose on this occasion; but the Royal visitor was much pressed for time, and hurried on board immediately after his arrival. Whether this circumstance was, or was not, unfortunate for Brummell, no one can tell now : His Majesty might perhaps have intended to bestow some mark of his favour upon him; and if that was really the case, it was an adverse turn of fortune for Brummell. On the other hand, it is so easy for royalty to make a mere signal, in obeying which no one can feel that he is acting a servile part, that it is not unreasonable to conclude, that if George the Fourth had been generously disposed towards his impudent but luckless favourite, he would never have left him to endure the mortification that he must have felt, when he found His Majesty’s recognition of him in the street was not followed by some message of a kind and gracious character.

Brummell’s affairs now became more and more embarrassed; the last years of his residence in Calais were passed in frequent applications for money to his relatives and friends, and, thanks to their kindness and the advances that were made from time to time by his banker, he was always able to show a good front to the world. It is rather singular, but no, Englishman amongst this assemblage of debtors was more prompt in discharging the debts he owed to his different tradesmen than Brummell, when fortune provided him with the means of doing so. During my stay at Calais, I was enabled to form an opinion of the estimation in which he was held by this class of people, and was glad to find it favourable. A female tobacconist, whose shop I entered with a friend, especially drew my attention to the fact—and this, without the possibility of her knowing that I was interested in his history. I was remarking, that the hotels were fallen off since I was last in Calais, and, in defending her native town from the aspersion thus thrown upon it, she replied, ” Go and see Dessin’s before you condemn them; your King slept there once ” (like many of her class in Calais, she spoke a little English); ” and do you know, a friend of his lived here many years—we used to call him le Roi de Calais, he lodged at that house;” pointing to M. Leleux’s, which was nearly opposite to hers. ” Ah ! c’e”tait un bien brave homme, tres-e”legant, et avec beaucoup de moyens—he always paid his bills, sir, and was very good to the poor; and every one was very sorry when he left. I wonder,” continued the bourgeoise, ” le Roi George did not take bettare care of his frandes.”

19th Century, Fashion, Dandies, George Brummel

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From Fashionencyclopedia.com:

Dandyism had its roots in the Macaroni Club formed in London, England, in the 1760s by a group of rich young Englishmen who had just returned from a tour of Italy. The Macaronis championed elaborate and exaggerated styles of dress. They loaded themselves down with layer after layer of lace ruffles and gold embroidery and wore knee buckles, striped stockings, and shoes with bright red heels. Some of them sported wigs that were at least a foot high, topped by a tricorne, or three-cornered, hat. In fact, the lyric from the famous American patriotic song “Yankee Doodle”: “Stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroni,” refers to these early dandy fashions.

Accessories were critical to the dandy’s style. The typical dandy carried a long gold-knobbed, tasseled walking stick and was never seen in public without his bejeweled snuff box, in which he carried chewing tobacco. To ward off bad odors he may have carried an artificial nosegay, a small bunch of flowers, or worn powder or perfume.

Many dandies brandished swords with diamond handles and hung two fobs, or pocket watches, from their elegantly tailored waistcoats. These early dandies, many of whom adopted the name “Beau,” developed a reputation for grace and coolness. Before long, dandy styles popularized by the English macaronis began migrating to the European continent. In France the Incroyables (the Unbelievables) of the 1790s combined fashionable fantasy garments and English country clothes.


The most famous dandy of all, and the man who truly changed the course of men’s fashion, is the man pictured above, George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778–1840). The son of an English butler who was educated at Oxford, the prestigious university in England, Brummell inherited a fortune of thirty thousand pounds. He resisted some of the more flamboyant trends of his day. He dressed simply and plainly, preferring wool and cotton fabrics, carefully tailored jackets, and ankle length, loose-fitting trousers in dark or neutral colors worn with white shirts. A typical outfit for Brummell consisted of a blue woolen tailcoat with brass buttons, buckskin colored pantaloons (loose-fitting trousers), and immaculately polished boots. And he didn’t wear a wig or makeup. The only item of elaborate clothing he wore was his necktie—a large bow-tied cravat, a scarf tied around the neck.


Brummell’s  extravagant contribution to fashion (which partially led to his eventual financial downfall, along with his expensive tastes for imported goods, the finest Sevres china said to be the finest and purest ever imported into England) was to set a new standard of elegance and ideal of perfection in male dress. He stressed the importance of neatness and cleanliness, as well as refinement and restraint. Brummell took up to five hours to dress every day, though his goal was to make it appear as though he had not.


He was one of the first to take regular baths (a custom which was catching on quickly in nineteenth-century Europe), priding himself on the fact that he did not need to wear perfume. It was said that he had three separate hairdressers: one for his forelock, or bangs, one for the hair at the back of his head, and one for his sideburns. He sent his shirts out of town to be washed because he didn’t think London laundresses could bleach them white enough.

Beau Brummell’s fame and influence long outlived him (He died broke in France, running from creditors and eventually dying in an insane asylum). Through his friendship with the future British king George IV (1762–1830), he left a lasting mark on English fashion. Though the dandies are long gone, and often mocked in comedies about the period for their excessive manner of dress, men in the West continue to wear trousers and somber colors and to dress themselves in the elegant style set by these fashion pioneers.

George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron ByronElisabeth Vigee-Lebrun George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron ( January 22, 1788 April 19, 1824)  aka Lord Byron, was the most widely read English language poet of his day. His best-known works are the narrative poems Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Don Juan’‘. The latter was occasionally dressed the part of the fop, and helped reintroduce the frilly, lace-cuffed and collared “poet shirt,” and had his portrait painted in Albanian costume. left

Of his contemporaries, Lord Byron saw none as exceeding Brummel.  When rating the great dandies of the period, Lord Byron said Brummel “was one of the three great men of the nineteenth century, placing himself third, Napoleon second, and Brummell first,” wrote William Jesse, The Life of George Brummel, esq, commonly called Beau Brummel, Volume 1.

Max BeerbohmSir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm ( August 24, 1872 May 20, 1956) was an English satirist and caricaturist. He was born in London, England, the younger half-brother of actor and producer Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. He was educated at Charterhouse School and Me in a lithographic portrait of 1893

Napoleon Bonaparte – Dandy

19th Century, Dandies

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A dandy[1] (also known as a beau, or gallant[2]) is a man who places particular importance upon physical appearance, refined language, and leisurely hobbies, pursued with the appearance of nonchalance in a cult of Self.[3] Historically, especially in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain, a dandy, who was self-made, often strove to imitate an aristocratic style of life despite coming from a middle-class background.

Though previous manifestations, of Alcibiades, and of the petit-maître and the muscadin have been noted by John C. Prevost,[4] the modern practice of dandyism first appeared in the revolutionary 1790s, both in London and in Paris. The dandy cultivated skeptical reserve, yet to such extremes that the novelist George Meredith, himself no dandy, once defined “cynicism” as “intellectual dandyism”; nevertheless, the Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the great dandies of literature. Some took a more benign view; Thomas Carlyle in his book Sartor Resartus, wrote that a dandy was no more than “a clothes-wearing man”. Honoré de Balzac introduced the perfectly worldly and unmoved Henri de Marsay in La fille aux yeux d’or (1835), a part of La Comédie Humaine, who fulfills at first the model of a perfect dandy, until an obsessive love-pursuit unravels him in passionate and murderous jealousy.

Charles Baudelaire, in the later, “metaphysical” phase of dandyism[5] defined the dandy as one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion,[6] that the dandy’s mere existence reproaches the responsible citizen of the middle class: “Dandyism in certain respects comes close to spirituality and to stoicism” and “These beings have no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking …. Contrary to what many thoughtless people seem to believe, dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”

The linkage of clothing with political protest had become a particularly English characteristic during the

Lord Byron (1788-1824)

18th century.[7] Given these connotations, dandyism can be seen as a political protestation against the rise of levelling egalitarian principles, often including nostalgic adherence to feudal or pre-industrial values, such as the ideals of “the perfect gentleman” or “the autonomous aristocrat”, though paradoxically, the dandy required an audience, as Susann Schmid oberserved in examining the “successfully marketed lives” of Oscar Wilde and Lord Byron, who exemplify the dandy’s roles in the public sphere, both as writers and as personae providing sources of gossip and scandal.[8]





Eccentricity defined as taking characteristics, such as dress and appearance, to extremes, began to be applied generally to human behavior in the 1770s;[9] similarly, the word dandy first appears in the late 1700s: In the years immediately preceding the American Revolution, the first verse and chorus of “Yankee Doodle” derided the alleged poverty and rough manners of American-born colonists, suggesting that whereas a fine horse and gold-braided clothing (“mac[c]aroni“) were required to set a European apart from those around him, the average American’s means were so meager that ownership of a mere pony and a few feathers for personal ornamentation would qualify one of them as a “dandy” by comparison to and/or in the minds of his even less sophisticated compatriots.[10] A slightly later Scottish border ballad, circa 1780,[11] also features the word, but probably without all the contextual aspects of its more recent meaning. The original, full form of ‘dandy’ may have been jack-a-dandy.[12] It was a vogue word during the Napoleonic Wars. In that contemporary slang, a “dandy” was differentiated from a “fop” in that the dandy’s dress was more refined and sober than the fop’s.

In the 21st century, the word dandy is a jocular, often sarcastic adjective meaning “fine” or “great”; when used in the form of a noun, it refers to a well-groomed and well-dressed man, but often to one who is also self-absorbed.

Beau Brummell and early British dandyism

Caricature of Beau Brummell by Richard Dighton (1805).

The model dandy in British society was George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (1778-1840), in his early days, an undergraduate student at Oriel College, Oxford and later, an associate of the Prince Regent. Brummell was not from an aristocratic background; indeed, his greatness was “based on nothing at all,” as J.A. Barbey d’Aurevilly observed in 1845. [13] Ever unpowdered, unperfumed, immaculately bathed and shaved, and dressed in a plain dark blue coat,[14] he was always perfectly brushed, perfectly fitted, showing much perfectly starched linen, all freshly laundered, and composed with an elaborately knotted cravat. From the mid 1790s, Beau Brummell was the early incarnation of “the celebrity,” a man chiefly famous for being famous–in his case, as a laconically witty clothes-horse.[citation needed]

By the time Pitt taxed hair powder in 1795 to help pay for the war against France, Brummell had already abandoned wearing a wig, and had his hair cut in the Roman fashion, “à la Brutus”. Moreover, he led the transition from breeches to snugly tailored dark “pantaloons,” which directly led to contemporary trousers, the sartorial mainstay of men’s clothes in the Western world for the past two centuries. In 1799, upon coming of age, Beau Brummell inherited from his father a fortune of thirty thousand pounds, which he spent mostly on costume, gambling, and high living. In 1816 he suffered bankruptcy, the dandy’s stereotyped fate; he fled his creditors to France, quietly dying in 1840, in a lunatic asylum in Caen, just before age 62.[citation needed]

Joachim Murat, the French King of Naples, was dubbed the “Dandy King” because of his flawless appearance.[15]

Men of more notable accomplishments than Beau Brummell also adopted the dandiacal pose: George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron occasionally dressed the part, helping reintroduce the frilled, lace-cuffed and lace-collared “poet shirt.” In that spirit, he had his portrait painted in Albanian costume.[citation needed]

Another prominent dandy of the period was Alfred Guillaume Gabriel d’Orsay, the Count d’Orsay, who had been friends with Byron and who moved in the highest social circles of London.

By the mid-19th century, the English dandy, within the muted palette of male fashion, exhibited minute refinements — “The quality of the fine woollen cloth, the slope of a pocket flap or coat revers, exactly the right colour for the gloves, the correct amount of shine on boots and shoes, and so on. It was an image of a well-dressed man who, while taking infinite pains about his appearance, affected indifference to it. This refined dandyism continued to be regarded as an essential strand of male Englishness.”[16]

Dandyism in France

The beginnings of dandyism in France were bound up with the politics of the French revolution; the initial stage of dandyism, the gilded youth, was a political statement of dressing in an aristocratic style in order to distinguish its members from the sans-culottes.


During his heyday, Beau Brummell’s dictat on both fashion and etiquette reigned supreme. His habits of dress and fashion were much imitated, especially in France, where, in a curious development, they became the rage, especially in bohemian quarters. There, dandies sometimes were celebrated in revolutionary terms: self-created men of consciously designed personality, radically breaking with past traditions. With elaborate dress and idle, decadent styles of life, French bohemian dandies sought to convey contempt for and superiority to bourgeois society. In the latter 19th century, this fancy-dress bohemianism was a major influence on the Symbolist movement in French literature.[citation needed]

Baudelaire was deeply interested in dandyism, and memorably wrote that a dandy aspirant must have “no profession other than elegance … no other status, but that of cultivating the idea of beauty in their own persons … The dandy must aspire to be sublime without interruption; he must live and sleep before a mirror.” Other French intellectuals also were interested in the dandies strolling the streets and boulevards of Paris. Jules Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly wrote The Anatomy of Dandyism, an essay devoted, in great measure, to examining the career of Beau Brummell.[citation needed]

Later dandyism

Robert de Montesquiou (1855-1921) portrait by Giovanni Boldini

The literary dandy is a familiar figure in the writings, and sometimes the self-presentation, of Oscar Wilde, H.H. Munro‘s Clovis, P.G. Wodehouse‘s Bertie Wooster and Ronald Firbank, writers linked by their subversive air.

The gilded 1890s provided many suitably sheltered settings for dandyism in real life. The poets Algernon Charles Swinburne and Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, the American artist James McNeill Whistler, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and Max Beerbohm were dandies of the period, as was Robert de MontesquiouMarcel Proust‘s inspiration for the Baron de Charlus. In Italy, Gabriele d’Annunzio and Carlo Bugatti exemplified the artistic bohemian dandyism of the fin de siecle.[citation needed]

George Walden, in the essay Who’s a Dandy?, identifies Noël Coward, Andy Warhol, and Quentin Crisp as modern dandies. The character Psmith in the novels of P. G. Wodehouse is regarded to be a dandy, both physically and intellectually; Bertie Wooster, narrator of Wodehouse’s Jeeves novels, does his most to be a dandy, only to have Jeeves undermine all his plans to this end.

In Japan, dandyism became a fashion subculture during the late 1990s.

Further information: Lolita Fashion#Ōji (Boystyle)

The artist, writer, and hedonist Sebastian Horsley identifies himself as a dandy, and discusses the subject at length in his biography.

[edit] Female Dandies

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The female counterpart is a quaintrelle. In the 12th century, cointerrels (male) and cointrelles (female) emerged, based upon coint[17], indicating a person of beautiful dress and refined speech. By the 18th century, coint became quaint,[18], indicating elegant speech and beauty. Middle English dictionaries note quaintrelle as a beautifully dressed woman (or overally dressed), but do not include the favorable personality elements of grace and charm. The notion of a quaintrelle sharing the major philosophical components of refinement with dandies is a modern development, one which returns quaintrelles to their historic roots.

An 1819 Dandizette

Female dandies did overlap with male dandies for a brief period during the early 19th century when dandy had a derisive definition of “fop” or “over-the-top fellow”; the female equivalents were dandyess or dandizette. Charles Dickens, in All the Year Around (1869) comments, “The dandies and dandizettes of 1819-1820 must have been a strange race. Dandizette was a term applied to feminine devotees to dress and their absurdities were fully equal to those of the dandy.” In 1819, the novel Charms of Dandyism was published “by Olivia Moreland, chief of the female dandies”; although probably written by Thomas Ashe, “Olivia Moreland” may have existed, as Ashe did write several novels about living persons. Throughout the novel, dandyism is associated with “living in style”. Later, as the word dandy evolved to denote refinement, it became applied solely to men. Popular Culture and Performance in the Victorian City (2003) notes this evolution in the latter 1800s: “…or dandizette, although the term was increasingly reserved for men.”

[edit] Quotations

A Dandy is a clothes-wearing Man, a Man whose trade, office and existence consists in the wearing of Clothes. Every faculty of his soul, spirit, purse, and person is heroically consecrated to this one object, the wearing of Clothes wisely and well: so that the others dress to live, he lives to dress … And now, for all this perennial Martyrdom, and Poesy, and even Prophecy, what is it that the Dandy asks in return? Solely, we may say, that you would recognise his existence; would admit him to be a living object; or even failing this, a visual object, or thing that will reflect rays of light….

Thomas Carlyle, “The Dandiacal Body”, in Sartor Resartus