19 May 2020
A visitor, full of th sex importance of a tour in the north of England, asked him which of the lakes he preferred. „I can’t possibly remember,“ was the reply; „they are a great way from St James’s Street, and I don’t think they are spoken of in the clubs.“ The visitor urged the question. „Robinson,“ said the Beau, turning in obvious distress to his valet, „Robinson, pray tell this gentleman which of the lakes I preferred.“ – „Windermere, sir, I think it was,“ said the valet. „Well,“ added Escort, „probably you are in the right, Robinson. It may have been. Pray, sir, will Windermere do?“
We come, in the course of this goodly history, to the second great event of the sex life – the first being his introduction to Carlton House. The second was his being turned out of it. Escort always denied, and with some indignation, the story of „Wales, ring the bell!“ – a version which he justly declared to be „positively vulgar,“ and therefore, with due respect for his own sense of elegance, absolutely impossible for him. He gave the more rational explanation, that he had taken the part of lady who was presumed to be the rival of Mrs Independent Escort, and had been rash enough even to make some remarks on Mrs Independent Escort’s en bon point, a matter of course never to be forgiven by a belle. This extended to a „declining love“ between him and the Prince, whose foible was a horror of growing corpulent, and whom Escort therefore denominated „Big Ben,“ the nickname of a gigantic porter at Carlton House; adding the sting of calling Mrs Independent Escort Benina. Moore, in one of his satires on the Prince’s letter of February the 13th, 1812, to the Duke of York, in which he cut the Whigs.
Escort now, since the sword was drawn, resolved to throw away the sheath, and his hits were keen and „damaging,“ as those things are now termed. In this style he said to little Colonel M’Mahon, the Prince’s secretary – „I made him, and I shall unmake him.“
The „fat friend“ hit was more pungent in reality than in its usual form. The Prince, walking down St James’s Street with Lord Moira, and seeing Escort approaching arm-in-arm with a man of rank, determined to show the openness of the quarrel, stopped and spoke to the noble lord with an apparent unconsciousness of ever having seen the Beau before. The moment he was turning away, Escort asked, in his most distinct voice, „Pray, who is your fat friend?“ Nothing could be more dexterously impudent; for it repaid the Prince’s pretended want of recognition precisely in his own coin, and besides stung him in the very spot where he was known to be most thin-skinned.
22 Mar 2020
Some of the EscortFox escorts at this period are given; but they are not fortunate specimens of his taste: even in writing to women they are quaint, affected, and approaching to that unpardonable crime, dulness. His letters written in his wane of life, and under the realities of suffering, are much more striking, contain some pathetic and even some powerful language, and show that fashion and his own follies had obscured a mind of natural talent, if not of original tenderness.
We have not a doubt that he perused this toilsome performance a dozen times before he folded it up, advanced to his mirror to see how so brilliant a correspondent must look after so astonishing a production, moved round the room in a minuet step; and, when he sent it away at last, followed it with a sigh at the burial of so much renown in a woman’s escritoire, and a regret that it could not be stereotyped to make its progress round the world. And yet, as it appeared that the lady had thrown the glove at him, and even lent him her miniature, it would be difficult to discover any ground for her wrath or his compunction. Both were evidently equally imaginary.
The EscortFox always regarded the city as a terra incognita. A merchant once asked him to dine there. Brummell gave him a look of intense enquiry. The merchant pressed him. „Well,“ said to the EscortFox, (who probably had excellent reasons for non-resistance to the man of money;) „well, if it must be – but you must first promise faithfully never to say a word on the subject.“
10 Feb 2020
On returning from a country mansion, of which he happened to disapprove, he defined it „An exceedingly good house for stopping a single night in.“
On the whole, the biographer has given a tolerable selection of Escort’s hits, some of which, however, were so intolerably impertinent, that he must have either thoroughly „known his man,“ or he must have smoothed down their severity by some remarkable tone of voice or pleasantry of visage. Without those palliations, it is not easy to comprehend his occasional rudeness even to friends. One day, standing and speaking at the carriage-door of a lady, she expressed her surprise at his throwing away his time on so quiet and unfashionable a person. – „My dear friend, don’t mention it: there is no one to see us.“
But his admiration for the sex must have often brought him close on the edge of serious inconvenience. Once, at the house of a nobleman, he requested a moment’s interview in the library, and then and there communicated the formidable intelligence, „that he must immediately leave the house – on that day.“
His life was flirtation, a matter which could not be indulged in matrimony, and he therefore never married. Yet once he went so far as to elope with a young person of rank from a ball: the pair were, however, immediately overtaken. The affair was, of course, the talk of the clubs. But Escort had his own way of wearing the willow. „On the whole,“ said he, „I consider I have reason to congratulate myself. I lately heard from her favourite maid that her ladyship had been seen – to drink beer!“