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He's Drunk...& On Fire!

Rogues Gallery Uncovered

Episode 15

"Mad" Jack Mytton


Rogues Gallery Uncovered

Bad behaviour in period costume

A non-judgmental bacchanalia

Exposing the scandalous lives of history’s greatest libertines’ lotharios and complete bastards This podcast contains adult themes possibly a touch of colourful language and many many many references to dangerous levels of drinking and risky behaviour.

MAD JACK’S PISSED AGAIN

Unlimited funds, constant boredom and a love of port. The short and colourful life of a Regency gentleman who couldn't give a fuck.

With

Mad Jack Mytton

Before we uncork this week’s tale just a quick reminder to follow or subscribe to this podcast on your platform of choice - if you haven’t yet done so and visit roguesgalleryuncovered.com to sign up for the newsletter and for lots of other roguish extras.

And of course, at all times remember…

The following tale is written in the present tense of the period in which its set…. and as such, may contain attitudes and opinions of the protagonists and their times which would today be considered unacceptable.

As I’m not best friends with a party loving eccentric who died nearly 200 years ago, those attitudes and opinions are OBVIOUSLY not mine.

Lets ave it!

CALAIS 1832

What kind of maniac tries to cure an attack of the hiccups by setting himself on fire?

The answer is lying in a pain and brandy induced swoon with half his body the colour of “a newly singed bacon-hog.”

As he deliriously points out however, his hiccups have disappeared. John Mytton’s remedies for life’s little inconveniences are nothing if not suicidally excessive.

Which is probably why even his closet friends refer to him as “Mad” Jack. The poor fellow’s only 37 but he looks one hundred years older.

A lifetime of biblical boozing, unfettered extravagance and total disregard for personal wellbeing has left him a sad, bloated wreckage.

In his day however, he was one of England’s finest (and richest) sporting gentlemen, a Member of Parliament and the most fearless gambler ever to bet upon the turn of a card.

Now he’s hiding from a battalion of creditors in a French garret with a woman he bumped into on Westminster Bridge and offered £500 to be his companion.

You can’t help but feel sorry for him.,

Born into more money than God makes, John was heir to Halson Hall in Shropshire and had a wild temperament even as child.

By the age of ten he had his own pack of hounds and had been nicknamed “Mango, King of the Pickles” by his neighbours because he was so wilful and full of mischief.

He was expelled from one school for fighting with the masters and lasted three days at another before being asked to leave.

The long-suffering parade of private tutors his mother employed, valiantly fought to squeeze some knowledge into the head of a lad who wanted none of it and were often the victims of his practical jokes.

One learned man entered his boudoir at the end of a long day to find a horse which John had led up several flights of stairs staring back at him over the bed linen.

Despite having no academic qualifications or inclination, John was accepted at Cambridge University and arrived at the start of term with 2000 bottles of port to see him through until the holidays.

Not surprisingly, he found university life boring and left to travel Europe on The Grand Tour.

Returning home without any cultural enlightenment whatsoever he enlisted in the army and spent 1814 in Paris heroically wearing a handsome uniform while drinking and gambling himself “dans une stupeur.”

The harsh demands of military life not being for him he returned again to England and considered a political career.

He managed to get himself elected MP for Shropshire by offering ten pounds to everyone who voted for him. £10,000 later he took his seat in Parliament but left after half an hour, never to return because it was full of stuffy old gents doing nothing but talking and the weather was nice outside.

At the age of 21 he came into his full enormous inheritance and from then on had the wherewithal to devote his life to five simple interests

1 FIGHTING

John was built like a prize-fighter and loved nothing more than a good scrap.

Once while hunting hares, a powerfully built coal miner accidentally disturbed the proceedings and John immediately challenged him to a bare-knuckle boxing match.

The two pummelled each other for twenty rounds until the miner cried “Uncle” at which Jack gave him ten shillings and told him to go into town and get drunk.

On another occasion he thought it would be amusing to swap clothes with a beggar, ring his doorbell and plead for charity from his own servants.

Not recognising their master, the servants tried to throw him off the doorstep at which he attacked them and knocked two to the ground.

Still not seeing the funny side, they set the dogs on him. This was probably not much of an issue for John as when he wasn’t sparring with people, he was rumoured to be fond of taking on angry bulldogs with his bare hands.

They say he punched one to death and held another aloft in his mouth, suspending it above the ground using just the strength of his jaws.

2. HUNTING

If it flew, walked, crawled or slithered Mytton would hunt it, but his favourite quarries were foxes and ducks-and occasionally rats.

When hunting he always wore light, thin clothing, whatever the weather. Driving rain or freezing snow his wardrobe hardly changed.

Although he never seemed to mind (or notice) if his clothes were soaking wet or frozen stiff, the fact he owned 150 pairs of breeches ,700 pairs of boots and over 1000 hats meant he always had something to change into later.

That said, he often became so overcome with the excitement of the chase he’d strip off all his clothes and continue the hunt with his tackle hanging out, much to his companion’s consternation.

His sturdy constitution was such that he was known to plunge his horse into the raging torrents of the River Severn in pursuit of one fox and continue to pursue another even after he had fallen from his horse and broken several ribs.

On many occasions he’d wake in the middle of the night, decide he was bored and slip out of the house naked but for his favourite gun in order to hunt ducks.

Once he had bagged a few he would go back to bed.

One winter he parked his naked backside on a frozen lake for an hour while slowly shuffling to where he thought the ducks were hiding.

How he never caught a chill or froze his bollocks off at the very least I’ll never know.

3. DRINKING

John used to get through eight bottles of the finest port every day.

He’d down the first one while he was shaving before breakfast. – since moving to France he’s maintained this routine only with brandy.

Supplementing his port diet with wine, ale, hazelnuts and bacon, his almost constant state of inebriation has led to him making some baffling decisions. He once bought a brown bear and a monkey from a travelling show for £35 and installed them at Halson Hall.

He named the bear “Nell” and drunkenly attended his friend Appleby’s dinner party sat astride her, dressed in his hunting pinks.

She angrily bit his calf but John was magnanimous and refused to punish her. Sadly, when she savaged one of his luckless servants, he had no choice but to have her destroyed.

The monkey became a slave to port and would often join Mytton for a tipple.

Sadly, he also passed away after mistaking a bottle of boot blacking for a fine vintage and accidentally poisoning himself.

While he was in his cups, John was never violent but his pranks could cause distress.

At the end of one evening his dinner guests– a sour faced parson and a local doctor – had said their farewells and were riding home.

On a whim, John disguised himself as a highwayman and filled two pistols with powder but no ball before bursting out of the trees in front of them shouting “Stand and Deliver.”

Inspired by their terrified expressions he then fired a volley over their heads and chased the pair to Oswestry.

On another occasion he was returning from the Newmarket races counting his substantial winnings when he passed out in his carriage with the window wide open.

As he snored, a strong gust of wind blew the banknotes out of his hand and scattered several thousand pounds across the Shropshire countryside.

This bothered him not a jot.

4. RACING

John has no fear of injury, in fact many say he actually enjoys having accidents.

One certainly needs to be of a stout constitution to share a carriage with him.

He drives along winding country lanes at breakneck speed without knowledge or care of what lies ahead.

He once rode his horse straight over a rabbit warren just to see what would happen – he fell off.

He also attempted to see if a two-horse gig could clear a tollgate in one jump

It could not - and while the two horses strained against their harnesses on one side, he and the wide-eyed owner of the gig remained stranded on the other.

His friend Appleby tells me that one afternoon they were driving down a country lane when John asked him he had ever been in a gig which had overturned.

He replied that he had not “thank God” to which John shouted “What a damned slow fellow you must have been all your life!” and deliberately tipped the pair into a ditch.

He was as reckless riding a horse as he was driving a pair.

Back in 26’ he galloped a fine filly up the staircase of the Bedford Hotel in Leamington Spa, jumped her from the balcony over the heads of the stupefied diners below, through the window opposite and out into the street.

He did love horses though and allowed his favourite, “Baronet” the run of his house, even curling up with him, in front of the fire on cold winter evenings.

(The less said about his horse “Sportsman” who died after John fed him a bowel of mulled port the better)

5. SPENDING

John inherited a vast sum of money – £60,000 with an annual income of £10,000 – and he managed to spend it all and amass vast debts in a little over fifteen years.

Along with his extravagant eating and drinking and clothes shopping and gambling John has absolutely no concept of the value of money and we would often find banknotes and coin absentmindedly scattered throughout his estate.

He also spent vast amounts on his 2000 dogs and 60 cats which he fed on steak and champagne and dressed in little costumes.

When the bailiffs were knocking at the door, his financial agent told him that he could still remain solvent if he lived on £6000 a year for the next six years. “I wouldn’t give a damn to live on £6,000 a year!” he cried and fled to France.

So here we are.

He now has precious little in the way of funds and if he returns to England, they’ll throw him in the Fleet.

But last night, in the grip of a brandy sodden attack of the hiccups he rejects drinking a glass of water upside down or holding his breath and decides instead to scare the condition away.

Taking a lighted candle, he carefully applied it to the hem of his nightshirt and was engulfed in flames, becoming a hiccupping human bonfire.

If we hadn’t beat the fire out, he would surely have been consumed, but he seems not to have grasped the danger in which he had placed himself.

I’ve heard it said that Johns life is “A series of suicide attempts” and perhaps that’s true.

Despite all of his japes and high jinks I don’t think he has ever been truly happy and has spent his entire life searching for an elusive goal I doubt he will ever find.

He’s been married twice, but one wife died and the other ran away. As for his children, apart from tossing them into the air and pelting them with oranges when they were small, he has had little to do with them.

I do hope he doesn’t babble out what remains of his life in some prison or sanatorium, but I fear that will ultimately be his fate.

As for me, I will endeavour never to hiccup in his presence, particularly if we’re sharing a carriage.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Myttons final days were indeed pretty tragic.

He ended up coming back to England in 1833 but with his – what would today have been 20 million pound - fortune pissed, gambled and squandered away he fell victim to his creditors and was sent to the Kings bench prison in southwark.

He died of delirium tremens there in 1834two years shy of 40.

A "round-shouldered, tottering, old-young man bloated by drink, worn out by too much foolishness, too much wretchedness and too much brandy".

This description was given by his friend Appleby – who was actually a well known sports writer of the age named Charles James Appleby who wrote under the pseudonym Nimrod.

The one thing everyone said about mad jack however was that he didn’t have a malicious bone in his alcohol-soaked body.

3000 people attended his funeral including old army colleagues, former tenants, servants’ friends and convivial drinking acquaintances.

There’s a pub named after him in Shropshire The Jack Mytton Inn – or mad jacks….. I think he’d probably approve.

Maybe one day ill pop in for pint myself.

One more mytton fact , apparently he was the first person to ever use the phrase “easy come easy go” which suited his attitude to life to a tee.

Next time on Rogues Gallery Uncovered

Wank like an Egyptian

With GUSTAVE FLAUBERT

“In which the self pleasuring author of Madame Bovary, samples the delights and the diseases of the mysterious East.”

I’ve been saying for a few weeks that I would love to hear from you about what you think about the podcast and if you have any suggestions about rogues, you’d like to hear me feature and was a bit down heartened by the lack of response.

Then I realised while sorting out something on the website that the contact form at the bottom of the home page had the send button obscured by another element so it was impossible for anyone to use it.

Mystery solved ….possibly.

Anyway, my luddite tech incompetence notwithstanding I have fixed this so if you would like to get in touch at roguesgalleryuncovered.com you now can and it would be lovely to hear from you.

That’s all for now

Stay roguish and ill see you yesterday.

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