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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

Debt and Soiled Breeches.

Debt and Soiled Breeches.
Charles James Fox 1749-1806

The Fabulous Mr Fox

It’s a dammed slow night around the gaming tables of Brooks club in St James. Abolitionist-in-waiting, William Wilberforce is nervously trying to remember the rules of Whist while Tory wit George Selwyin is eyeing his purse greedily and loudly encouraging him to play.

He won’t, Wilberforce is probably thinking of joining the clergy.

Aside from the rattling of gaming counters and the occasional muttered expletive when fortune fails to smile, the room is relatively quiet and the atmosphere flat.

Occasionally a gentleman will look up from his cards and glance at the door as if they are hoping someone will walk in to liven up the evening.

As the clock strikes ten, someone does.

The doorway is suddenly filled by a fat, hairy, dishevelled butter churn of a man. The mood in the room brightens immediately as his infectious joie de vivre fills its every corner and suddenly we’re glad we left the house this evening.

Welcome Charles James Fox.

“He was born to be loved”                                                      

 Edmund Burke

Such is the high esteem in which this fellow is held, subscriptions to Brooks decline whenever he is away on Parliamentary business. For many, the place simply isn’t as much fun without him.

Chaotic, generous to a fault and the finest orator in England, Fox strides into the room with a big benign smile lighting up his darkly unshaven face. His eyes twinkle with mischief below a truly spectacular mono brow while his clothes look like they have been slept in for a month…by a tramp…in a hedge.

 “His bristly black person was rarely purified by ablutions”   

Horace Walpole  

You wouldn’t think that in his teens Fox had been a velvet and lace fop, affecting French airs and sporting an impractically tall powdered wig. As leader of a group of fashionable young bloods called “Macaronis”  he divided his time equally between gambling and whoring.

A Maccaromi yesterday A Macaroni yesterday

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next few hours pass in a riot of excessive spending and much laughter as Fox regales us all with his charm and rapier sharp wit. At the same time he’s amassing a considerable sum of money, playing piquet with uncommon ability. His agile mind makes Fox a formidable opponent in games of skill. However, he prefers games of pure chance such as Faro so he mustn’t be allowed any wine at dinner.

Oh,

 

Fox and friends relax. Fox and friends relax.

 

He’s pissed.

 

Fox gets stuck into dinner Fox gets stuck into dinner

By five o clock the next morning having long since adjourned to the faro tables he’s not only lost all the money he had previously won but is several thousand pounds in debt. His eyes are a mottled red and there is a suspicious stain on the front of his waistcoat.

During the evening two of his friends have loudly placed bets as to the identity of the person (or persons) who “defecated in his trousers”.

To soil ones own breeches is careless enough, but to be unaware that someone else is using them as a privy whilst they are still upon your person demonstrates an alcohol intake of heroic proportions.

From Brooks, Fox will go directly to the Houses of Parliament where he will make a powerful and eloquent speech in support of The French Revolution and from there to a day at the races.

After which, he’ll probably be back at Brooks.

I don’t suppose you could loan him a few guineas until Thursday?

 

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