Regency Chit-Chat

From La Belle Assemblée or, Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine Addressed Particularly to the Ladies – January, 1817, these amusing excerpts from correspondence concerning a county ball and feast:

The dress:

I am dressed in the flowered lustring you say becomes me so well– it really is a genteel thing–I like French nightcaps prodigiously–don’t you?  They set off a long lank yellow physiognomy wonderfully well.

Lustring fabric in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection, allegedly from a gown worn by Queen Charlotte

Lustring fabric from a gown allegedly worn by Queen Charlotte — Victoria and Albert Museum

The escort:

Mama and I are to go in the chaise and Mr. O’Flanagan escorts us–  rap, rap, rap, here he comes–no, he is not come–’twas a false alarm–  Don’t take it into your head that I am in love with the man–

Romantic rivals:

Miss Twist..–she pretends to wit but ’tis only pertness…  Miss Williams–conceited thing–she thinks she’s handsome– in her old-fashioned coal scuttle bonnet and brown silk petticoat with green flounces and furbelows–what a fright.


Chit-chat made difficile -- Les Invisibles Tete a Tete (a la le "coal scuttle bonnet")

Chit-chat made difficile pour le “coal scuttle bonnet”  —–Les Invisibles Tete a Tete 

Dining partners:

Sir Thomas is a very sensible man–he made me several compliments…  made Squire O’Flanagan quite jealous and he was so much out of temper he snuffed and snubbed everybody and was particularly snappish and surly to Mr. McGregor an exciseman who sat opposite him–

By Rowlandson - no further explanation required

By Rowlandson – no further explanation required

A fight:

..we heard high words and prodigious noises in the next room–  we all went to see what was the matter–when–horrid sight– poor Mr. O’Flanagan had one of his eyes beaten out of his head and Mr. McGregor lay stretched out on the floor just for all the world like a corpse.

–from Miss Harriet Wilkinson’s correspondence to her friend, “my dear girl,” Miss Louisa Thompson.

“Husbands are Dreadful and Powerful Animals”

“Now, that’s Lady Pembroke. Handsome woman, what? Daughter of the Duke of Marlborough. Stuff of generals. Blood of Blenheim. Husband an utter rascal. Eloped in a packet-boat.” – George III in The Madness of King George 

Elizabeth Spencer (1737 – 1831) was a handsome woman, much admired by the King.  She became Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Charlotte in the latter half of the eighteenth century.  Suffering through the numerous infidelities of her husband, Henry Herbert, 10th earl of Pembroke, she finally separated from him in 1788, thanks to the King’s generosity in giving her a residence.

Some awkwardness was to be expected.  In his madness, George III is alleged to have given her “sporadic and unwanted attentions until his recovery in 1805.”

She lived forever, it seems, even outlasting her son, the third Earl of Pembroke.

Her London residence was Pembroke House, immortalized in Constable’s The Opening of Waterloo Bridge (1832).  It was built on the rubble of Whitehall Palace, where various persons swore they saw the ghost of Henry VIII on the night of his only son’s death.  Now Pembroke House is rubble, the foundation for the Ministry of Defense.

The Opening of Waterloo Bridge, Constable (1832) – Pembroke House is to the left