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Bowing to Beau

Karen Martin

Witney, United Kingdom

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Nikon D40x with 18-55mm lens, hand held.
Single image HDR in HDR Dynamics. Selective colouring in Photoshop Element 9.

Statue of Beau Brummell by Irena Sedlecka erected in 2002 in Jermyn Street, London .

The following information taken from the internet:

‘Brummell was born in London, the son of the private secretary of William Brummell, Lord North, of Donnington Grove in Berkshire. He was fair complexioned, and had "a high nose, which was broken down by a kick from a horse soon after he went into the Tenth Dragoons. His father died in 1794, leaving him an inheritance of more than 20,000 pounds. He was educated at Eton and at Oriel College, and later joined the Tenth Light Dragoons. It was during this time he came to the attention of George, Prince of Wales. Through the influence of the Prince, Brummell had been promoted to captain by 1796. When his regiment was sent from London to Manchester he resigned his commission because of Manchester’s poor reputation and atmosphere and the lack of culture and civility exercised by the general populace.

Brummell took a house on Chesterfield Street in Mayfair, and, for a time, avoided extravagance and gaming: for example, he kept horses but no carriages. He was included in Prince George’s circle, where he made an impression with his elegant, understated manner of dress and clever remarks. His fastidious attention to cleaning his teeth, shaving, and bathing daily became popular. When asked how much it would cost to keep a single man in clothes, he was alleged to have replied: “Why, with tolerable economy, I think it might be done with £800.” Such liberal spending rapidly began to take a toll on his capital.

He was influenced by his wealthy friends as well. He began spending and gambling as though his fortune were as great as theirs. This was not a problem while he could still float credit. Brummell, Lord Alvanley, Henry Mildmay and Henry Pierrepoint were considered the prime movers of Watier’s, dubbed “the Dandy Club” by Byron. They were also the four hosts of the masquerade ball in July 1813 at which the Prince Regent greeted Alvanley and Pierrepoint, but then “cut” Brummell and Mildmay by snubbing them, staring them in the face but not speaking to them. This provoked Brummell’s famous remark, “Alvanley, who’s your fat friend?”. This finalized the long-developed rift between them, dated by Campbell to 1811, the year the Prince became Regent and began abandoning all his old Whig friends. Normally, the loss of royal favour to a favourite was doom, but Brummell ran as much on the approval and friendship of other rulers of the several fashion circles. He became the anomaly of a favourite flourishing without a patron, still in charge of fashion and courted by large segments of society.

However, his spiralling debt spun out of control, and he tried to recover by devices that only dug the hole deeper. In 1816, he fled to France to escape debtor’s prison from the demands for payment in full of thousands of pounds sterling owed. Usually, Brummell’s gambling debts, as “debts of honour”, were always paid immediately. The one exception to this was the final wager recorded for him in White’s betting book. Recorded March, 1815, the debt was marked “not paid, 20th January, 1816”.

He lived the remainder of his life in France, acquiring an appointment to the consulate at Caen due to the influence of Lord Alvanley and the Marquess of Worcester, only in the reign of William IV. This provided him with a small annuity. He died penniless and insane from strokes in Caen in 1840.’

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