Regency Confessor – London Buck turned Country Gentleman

From La Belle Assemblee, June, 1816 edition–another offering from The Listener:

“Letter from a Gentleman, Formerly a Modern Buck:”

I was for some time an inhabitant of London, and fluttered around all the goddesses of fashion and beauty; but now I am become a complete country gentleman, and no one can distinguish by my present appearance that I have been a dashing buck of the town.

The writer signs himself merely “Rusticus” (!) and extols the virtues he has discovered since retiring from town life. He describes these new virtues as follows:

Opera dress, as exhibited in the magazine, consisting of a slip of pink satin, ornamented down the front and border in black velvet bias, under a robe of black satin richly flowered in black velvet down the sides, full sleeves of black satin ornamented with pink, over a chemisette sleeve of white sarsnet. Hat of fancy spotted straw, lined with pink satin, with a superb wreath of full-blown roses. Shoes of white satin , with white kid gloves.

Opera dress, as exhibited in the magazine, consisting of a slip of pink satin, ornamented down the front and border in black velvet bias, under a robe of black satin richly flowered in black velvet down the sides, full sleeves of black satin ornamented with pink, over a chemisette sleeve of white sarsnet. Hat of fancy spotted straw, lined with pink satin, with a superb wreath of full-blown roses. Shoes of white satin , with white kid gloves.

In town, he would dine out, but hardly ate a thing. Instead, he would swear at the waiters, poke holes in the damask breakfast cloths or throw wine he found disagreeable out of the window. In the country:

I can attack a venison pasty with that keenness of hunger given by the sports of the chace, and even when I see my servant cut the bread with hands not over-clean, I fall to, without taking time to reprove him.

His clothes used to require hours planning with his tailors to prepare for the upcoming season, making certain his coats were tight at the bottom of his waist and his pantaloons preserved the exact shape of his knees.

Now I am very easily pleased; my wife’s dressmaker makes all my waistcoats and pantaloons, and this young woman, who is very clever, comes every six months and stays with us a fortnight, during which time she makes our clothes for the next six.

As much as London offered many amusements, they were all fatiguing. Plays full of cold chambermaids, grimacing footmen and the inflated language of lovers left him searching for something better, until he finally found it in the country:

Now I find the most beautiful spectacle in the rising sun, the beauteous hills and vallies, the verdant carpet and the glassy current.

On conveyances:

I had a telegraph in town as light as a fly, the best calculated in the world to throw anyone out…Now I have a good solid Yarmouth cart, which is never overturned, let the roads be ever so bad.

He used to have as many as ten “favourite” ladies, which equally swore fidelity to him even as he falsely promised them the same. Constant declarations such as these were tedious as much as they were hypocritical. But now that he is married:

My wife is the only woman I really love; I have no occasion where I must continually repeat my vows to her, she sees what my daily conduct is toward her, she knows the inmost thoughts of my heart; I divine hers, and our life is a series of mutual confidence, happiness and concord.

A veritable paragon of a man, I daresay.

 

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