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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

The Exhausting Naval Adventures of Augustus Hervey.

The Exhausting Naval Adventures of Augustus Hervey.
Augustus John Hervey, 3rd Earl of Bristol 1724-1779

"All Aboard!"

Genoa 1755

Captain Augustus Hervey is in a darkened room hiding under a married ladies bedclothes.

The lady in question is lying in the bed next to him.

She is tantalisingly near but the young naval officer cannot allow his eager fingers to explore because her husband (who is unaware of the lecherous presence beneath his marital sheets) is approaching the foot of the bed with a lighted candle, asking if he can come closer in order to show off some Indian handkerchiefs.

There is no acceptable nautical phrase for this particular situation.

Hervey himself is not the handsomest of fellows but is well connected, has a generous purse, enough self confidence to fill a ship of the line and acts upon his whims without delay or fear.

This combined with a libidinous appetite which would shame a rampant stag has made him a cocksman of extraordinary success and of which Great Britain can be proud.

Breathing with difficulty and  trying to look as flat as possible (not easy under the circumstances) “The English Casanova”  lets his mind drift back across a naval career that was no less active on land as it was at sea.

Florence 1748

Ah Florence  the temperate climate, the famous bridges and the art treasures of the Medici.

Within days of his arrival Hervey determined that Florentine husbands were not as possessive in their nature as other Italians. This was fortuitous because one of his favourite pastimes of an evening was to escort a great many of their wives down to the bridge at La Trinita. Underneath its arches on the banks of the Arno was where amorous Florentines often gathered to indulge in clandestine “Knocking” and easy access clothing was the norm.

If the husbands had been jealous types they might have been concerned by the fact that Hervey was usually naked save for a silk robe and a straw hat.

"A Pleasure Garden indeed" “A Pleasure Garden indeed”

Whilst in Florence Hervey also spent many a happy hour entertaining female company in the secluded shrubbery of his ex patriot friend Mr Mann. Mann had worked hard to transform his expansive Italian lawn into a replica of the infamous pleasure gardens at Vauxhall (until scandal and concerns about shadowed debauchery forced him to put up some lanterns)

Great Days




Lisbon 1748

Ah Lisbon, basking in the Portuguese sunshine, the perfect place for Hervey to reacquaint himself with Signora Ellena Paghetti, the lady who took his virginity during his first visit as a callow sixteen year old.

"Excuse me, I'm 16 and very callow, whats the Portuguese for Whorehouse?" “Excuse me, I’m 16 and very callow, whats the Portuguese for Whorehouse?”

They discussed how they had fared in the years since and then picked up where they had left off, fortunately she was “still very handsome”.

Hervey also made a new friend in the lively Spanish form of the Duke de Bagnos.

These Sons of Venus spent much of their time together frequenting a popular brothel or “Nunnery” called “Odivellas.” With upwards of 700 “Nuns” to choose from ( including two royal mistresses) Hervey found his spiritual needs well attended.

De Bagnos also introduced Hervey to a Portuguese style of courtship which involved wearing a voluminous cloak to conceal ones identity and standing beneath a ladies window whispering sweet words in the hope of being invited up.

Hervey tried this approach with one Signora Brezio and although it took him a few nights of aroused loitering he eventually got permission to shimmy up her foliage and divest himself of his cloak (and shoes and breeches.)

His greatest cloaked moment came in the company of de Bagnos and a French gentleman by the name of Monsieur de Vergennas. All similarly attired they visited upwards of thirty houses of pleasure in a single busy morning.

It’s fair to say that end of that, a feeble nor westerly would have blown Hervey off the edge of the dock and into the River Tagus.

Good Times

Paris  1749

Ah Paris, the beautiful gardens of the Tuileries, the dazzling art collection of the Palais Royal and the opulent  splendour of the French court.

On his arrival, Hervey was presented to King Louis XV and the queen who both ignored him. Madame de Pompadour however was more convivial and “The handsomest creature I think I ever saw” but sadly was immune to the Hervey charm.

Within weeks he was spending his money like a sailor on shore leave (which he was) and ingratiating himself with the cream of Parisian society, such as Madame de Monconseil who caught his eye when (as a favour for his mother) he stopped off at her apartments to deliver a letter.

Sadly, her  gratitude did not extend beyond saying “Merci”.

He was further disappointed when in a fever of the most  genuine affection he offered an actress known as The “Corrolina” 17 shillings for a quick “Dock” but was firmly and unequivocally rebuffed….“Zut Alors

"Opera? yes love it, now tell me, have you two girls ever seen a yardarm?" “Opera? yes love it, now tell me, have you two girls ever seen a yardarm?”


As a staunch patron of the arts however Hervey was not one to admit defeat and turned his attention from the theatrical stage to the opera. He began regular and exhausting assignations with two operatic dancers known as The “Bellno” and The “Lani”.

He was fond of The “Bellno,”a “Handsome” woman  who’s younger sister was on intimate terms with his new friend the Duke of Chartres but less enamoured of The “Lani” who claimed she had been a virgin until they met.

As a gentleman, Hervey paid both her and her mother a considerable sum of money to compensate for the loss but suspected he had been gulled so the designing little trollop was soon sent packing.

A visit to the Château de Bagatelle did however reacquaint him with Madame de Monconseil who had reconsidered just how grateful she was for receiving that letter and gave the pleasantly surprised sailor an intimate tour of her boudoir.

Then there was:

"It is with the utmost high regard I ask you to kindly contain yourself madam until I have delivered my broadside and bid you adieu" “It is with the utmost high regard I ask you to kindly contain yourself madam until I have delivered my broadside and bid you adieu”

Madame Coupe, “ a most luscious jouissance” whom he saw every night for over a week before becoming bored.

Mademoiselle Blotin, whom he took to bed as her chaperone mother snoozed on a couch in the next room.

Baronne Blanche, “A great black lewd woman, about 30” who gave him little choice but to become intimate despite his grave misgivings.

Madame de Mirancourt, who made a great show of being shy and virtuous before spending all night with him.

Throughout this time he was also still regularly seeing (to) both The “Bellno” and Madame de Monconseil so its little surprise he fell ill at at a party in St Cloud and under doctors orders was purged, sweated and bled until he felt restored.

When he met Madame Caze however he knew it was something special and immediately stopped seeing  Madame de Monconseil (who upbraided him in a most violent manner ) and generously passed The “Bellno” on to one of his friends after giving her some money for a nice dress.

"Another woman hiding in the next room you say? don't be ridiculous my love and please allow me to shoot your dog" “Another woman hiding in the next room you say? don’t be ridiculous my love and please permit me to shoot your dog”

Madame Caze was married but this did not stop Hervey pursuing her with the kind of single minded determination which would one day build the Empire.

"I've never met those two ladies in my life. Please accept this small gift with all my affection and respect...and then take your dress off" “I’ve never met those two ladies in my life. Please accept this small gift with all my affection and respect.. then take your dress off”

He engineered spending all of his time in her company and showered her with trinkets such as a locket with a secret compartment (which concealed a miniature of his face). She finally succumbed and when he presented her with a ruby set with diamonds her passions became delightfully  inflamed –  until her mother walked into the room unannounced and clothing was speedily re arranged.

Shortly afterwards, a frustrated Madame Caze declared she was her own mistress and instructed Hervey to visit her alone in her rooms one afternoon. Before you could say “Do you  ever do any actual sailing?” he was banging  hard at her door and stayed until after midnight, remarking later, “I never tasted such exquisite delight nor was I ever more fit for the scene”.

"Captain Hervey at your service m'dear, dismiss the maid and lets buckle to...unless you want her to stay b'gad" “Captain Hervey at your service m’dear, dismiss the maid and lets buckle to…unless you want her to stay and join us b’gad”


















Their affair blossomed with Hervey enjoying exhausting  five hour sessions in her company They attended church together (for proprieties sake) and Hervey was shocked to hear her declare “before God” that she would bestow her favours on no one but him. He rightly considered that Madame Craze’s husband would suspect something was amiss when his dutiful wife suddenly refused his demands in bed.

This was true, yet despite seething with suspicion Madame Craze’s husband had no actual proof of her indiscretions apart from a close call when he saw her kissing Hervey as they stood next to a  horse.

Brimming with indignation the furious spouse strode over to remonstrate. In a moment of quick thinking, Hervey placed a fur muff from the horses saddle in front of his crotch concealing the fact that he had been getting far more than a simple peck on the cheek.

Sulkily, the luckless cuckold returned to his lodgings.

Happy Memories.

Genoa 1755

Ah Genoa, its famous lighthouse, its doctors who took care of Hervey’s hand when he punched his impertinent steward in the face and most delightfully, Madame Brignole. She was young, rich  and married (of course) but Hervey had set his sights upon her and had succeeded in enjoying her favours during numerous snatched moments.

That was not enough however and he insisted upon spending at least one full night with her and hang the risks.

Which is why after complaining of an eye infection during a soiree at which Hervey himself was a guest she retired to her darkened room to sleep alone. Hervey made his apologies to her husband and the assembled company and left soon after, returning by an open window to burrow under her bedclothes and wait for everyone else to go to sleep.

" What do you think of these handkerchiefs my dear?..GOOD LORD!!" ” What do you think of these handkerchiefs my dear?..GOOD LORD!!”

The husband’s show of concern and fascination with handkerchiefs could have ruined everything but Madame Brignole pleaded  that she was in too much discomfort and insisted he leave her be. He graciously complied and Hervey graciously  “lay till near daylight and performed wonders”

It’s a man’s life in the Navy.










Roguish Note:

Hervey and Madame Brignole continued with this arrangement for several evenings. Hervey would often spend hours motionless under the sheets while she entertained the dinner guests who her husband insisted adjourn to her room so she would not miss out on the conversation.

"Please sir, I have NO INTEREST in your handkerchiefs either" “My dear sir I can only blame a faulty sextant for this most unfortunate misunderstanding, I thought this was Portsmouth Harbor…are those Indian handkerchiefs?”

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