» George Hanger – Moves Like Jaeger
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Libertines, Lotharios or Bastards?

George Hanger – Moves Like Jaeger

George Hanger – Moves Like Jaeger
George Hanger, 4th Baron Coleraine 1751 -1824

Do you love me, now that I can Dance?

London 1782

Major George Hanger regards himself one more time in the hallways gilt framed mirror… “A fine figure sir…most fine”

It’s the birthday celebrations of his highness, the Prince Regent and the ballroom beyond is filled with a glittering array of societies finest.

A perfect setting in which to make his debut at court.

Hanger strides into the room, head held high and the elegant dancing figures pause for a breathless moment and stare open mouthed.

"Every girl's crazy for a sharp dressed man" “Every girl’s crazy for a sharp dressed man”

“What the fuck is that fellow wearing?”

George has newly returned from fighting – with some distinction- in the American Revolution.

His regiment, however, were Hessian Jaegers and while these German troops possess an admirable reputation in battle, their dull green uniforms, and wide brown, leather belts make a decidedly rustic contrast to the finely cut scarlet of the English officers.

To the assembled revelers he looks like gamekeeper about to shoot an argumentative pheasant. Although the woman on his arm – Miss Gunning is a bit of stunner.

Oblivious to the chortles, as the orchestra begins to play, Hanger and his companion commence dancing the minuet.

"Stayin Alive" “Stayin Alive”

Unfortunately, Georges clod-hopping attempts at gliding across the floor coupled with the habit of waving his ridiculously plumed hat in the air every five seconds is the cue for even more mirth at his expense.

Breaking into a vigorous country dance complete with flailing arms, is the final straw, George notices the Prince Regent himself is trying to stifle his laughter and even the beauteous Miss Gunning is openly giggling.

This is not the impression he was hoping to make.

People don’t usually take the mickey out of thin-skinned George – As a student in Germany, he had taken part in three duels before his twentieth birthday.

Running away to join the Prussian army had curtailed an academic career that had more to do with fox hunting and Skirt chasing than book learning – although serving King Frederick had given him an impressive knowledge of German swear words and taught him how to drink like a beer-hungry salmon.

That said, he was no stranger to mockery.

Returning to England and the army of King George he’d married a pretty and vivacious gypsy girl. His fellow officers nicknamed her ““The lovely Aegypta of Norwood” on account of her exotic looks and less than exotic home address.

They continued to laugh when, despite love sick Georges most valiant efforts, she ran away with a bow – legged itinerant, tinker who was visiting the area repairing pots and pans.

"I can't help it if the married women love me, I'm a bleedin tinker " “I can’t help it if the married women love me, I’m a bleedin tinker “

Briefly forswearing women in favor of high fashion, George ran up huge clothing debts and took to high stakes gambling in order to pay them off.

However, strutting around in the latest neckcloth, moaning bitterly about lecherous bandy tradesmen and betting on anything that moves did little to keep England’s shores safe from invasion.

"You're a good bloke George I just wish you could dance" “Call me Banastre”

His superior officers took note of this and promoted a younger man over him to a higher rank. Hanger resigned his commission in disgust, joined the Jaegers and set sail for the American Colonies.

He proved himself to be quite the courageous officer, earning the respect of Cavalryman and fellow roaring boy Banastre Tarleton.

Hanger once claimed that he had chased down a wagon fleeing the Battle of Camden and found someone’s pet monkey chattering away on the front seat,dressed in a flamboyant coat and hat…. Drawing his sword, Hanger accepted his surrender…“I assumed he was Frenchman” He later recalled.

The monkey-dandy may have joined the menagerie of cats, dogs and other animals he kept with him in his quarters. Their shrieking along with Hanger’s nonstop sexual athletics with a never-ending convoy of strumpets led to a string of complaints from sleep-deprived neighbors.

"Would you girls like to see my monkey?" “Would you girls like to see my monkey?”

Coming down with yellow fever- possibly brought on by exhaustion – he subsequently became an enfeebled human skeleton who had to be turned over in bed by his servants because he was too weak to do it himself.

"Here I am" “Here I am”

Near death, Hanger was carried to the Bahamas where he self-medicated with a tincture of his own devising, mixing the finest port wine with a hefty dose of opium.

It worked wonders but he was none the less ordered back to England. Where he appears to have made quite the impression

The morning after his appearance at the ball a letter is delivered to Hanger’s lodgings, in a nutshell, it says.

“All the gentleman at Friday’s ball would like to thank you for being so entertaining with your stupid clothes and rubbish dancing, you were hilarious.

The ladies all thought you looked really dashing and not at all like a village idiot dressed by a five-year-old. – by the way, this is sarcasm you fuckin bumpkin”.

Yours …?

Coincidently the same day an invite arrived to dine with the prince regent at Carlton house. Hanger, so angry he could barely fasten his necktie, takes the letter with him and shows the prince, vowing to call out and have satisfaction from whoever wrote it.

The prince admires his spunk and agrees that he has been most dreadfully lampooned.

His companions Charles Fox and Captain Morris – who were also at the ball nod in agreement, a somber looking Fox says that laughing at Hanger’s dancing is particularly heinous.

The prince takes the letter and looks at the handwriting, to his amazement he says he recognizes it. It belongs to the dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan. In a flurry of furry, Hanger takes his leave vowing to call Sheridan out immediately.

"When i'm not writing plays, I'm taking the piss out of scruffy buggers who cant dance...honest" “When I’m not writing plays, I’m taking the piss out of scruffy buggers who can’t dance…honest”

His note delivered and the challenge accepted – the two meet at the appointed place and time, the weapon of choice is pistols.

Sheridan seems surprisingly calm

The prince and his friends watch from a nearby coach as the two antagonists face each other, aim their weapons and fire.

Take 1 Take 1

Nothing happens

The prince starts laughing as his companions urge him to hush.

The pistols are reloaded and the two men fire again

Take 2 Take 2

Nothing happens

By now Hanger is beyond fury “just what the hell is going on?” His second informs him with a grin that often the third time is the charm

They fire a third time.

Take 3 Take 3

Sheridan drops on his back like a badly strung puppet

“By God I’ve killed him”

Honour satisfied, Hanger hurriedly leaves the scene as the prince and his cronies convulse with laughter in their coach

That evening hanger is once again summoned to meet the prince.

“Bad business George”

" But I shot you...Blughghgh" ” But I shot you…Blughghgh”

The prince’s face is serious and Hanger wonders if shooting dead one of the country’s foremost playwrights will hinder his chances of advancement at Court.

“Evening hanger”

Suddenly the dramatist in question steps out from behind a curtain and George nearly spews his lunch into his immaculately tailored breeches.

The prince Regent collapses in hysterics.

The pistols were loaded with blanks, the letter had been written by him and Sheridan was in on the joke.

“You’ve been gulled, sir.”

"Blanks!" “Blanks!”

Hands are offered, laughter shared, cries of “Good Sport” echo all round and before you know it George Hanger – the comically dressed, bumpkin-dancing prank-stooge is bellowing out bawdy songs with the rest of them and finds himself enthusiastically accepted into the Prince Regents inner circle

And that’s when the fun really begins……

"Welcome to the gang George" “Welcome to the gang George”

 

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