Juicy Gossip from 1823

Excerpted from “The Rambler’s Magazine; Or, Fashionable Emporium Of Polite Literature, The Fine Arts—Politics—Theatrical Excellencies— Wit—Humour—Genius—Taste— Gallantry— And All The Gay Variety Of Supreme Bon Ton

Images from “Belle Assemblée: Or, Court and Fashionable Magazine; Containing Interesting and Original Literature, and Records of the Beau-monde,” published in 1826

A SCENE IN KENSINGTON GARDENS; OR, THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARL OF B —, AND AN M. P.’s WIFE.

Kensington Gardens, where monarchs once delighted to range and breathe “sweet odours,” has now become a sink of vice, filth, and infamy, nearly as bad as Vauxhall—that nursery of prostitution.

Some steps should be taken to purify this summer scene of guilt,  where every bush is made a brothel, and vice as notorious as the sun at noon day. The keepers are of no use; they encourage the scenes they are ordered to prevent; and, for a bribe, will wink at the most horrible depravities.

‘Tis but the other day, that a person observed a lady, the wife of a Member of Parliament, whom at present we will not name, go into the Marine Temple; (an edifice that ought to be destroyed) from motives of curiosity he followed. She was apparently sitting on one of the seats, and addressed him with “What do you want here? Go about your business; you impudent fellow,” &c. He then discovered that she had a companion; and said,—”Oh! madam, I did not at first perceive you had got a gentleman behind you. I beg your pardon.” He then bowed, and retried. The gentleman proved to be the Earl of B  — , a young and gallant nobleman. What he did behind the lady, we do not pretend to know; but this we know, that he had not any business there with his friend’s wife. We shall say no more at present, as we have an intention of giving the tale to the world in a different form, with a plate of the interior of the Marine Temple, and the scene of the Lovers. We again repeat that this temple of debauchery ought to be destroyed, and the gardens closed, if nothing can be done to purge them of vice ; for as they are, no woman who values her character will enter them.

ELOPEMENT IN THE HIGH LIFE

A gentleman, who has been lately spoken of as the champion selected by ministers as the advocate of high-church principles, and defender of religion’s cause, during last week, to amuse himself at this dull season, eloped with the wife of one of his friends.

The family of Lord B — are thrown into the greatest distress by this event, and the harpies of the long robe anticipate a plentiful harvest on the occasion. The parties are rich and powerful. The honourable seducer (if we may so call him) will no doubt be made to pay for having taken Leg with his friend’s wife, and will stand his trial. It is to be presumed he will not, like many of our men of fashion, less religiously inclined, take “leg bail,” and leave the plaintiff to hunt for damages, especially when he can be backed by the Treasury. As to his lordship, a man that passes his time in Italy, writing operas for the Tuscans and Florentines, whilst his wife pines in a solitary bed in this cold climate, he cannot set much value on what he has lost; and the lady, who could not have his whole body, as a substitute, was content to take a Leg to her arms, which may, at some future time, give the Herald’s Office a job to alter the family escutcheons.

LIE OF GENERAL B—T—N

At the death of his wife General B—t—n became mean and penurious—probably the bad debts owing to him by his party, soured him against future liberality. He sold his town house, and lodged at an hotel in Grosvenor Street or Pall Mall; his three daughters occupied his house near Brighton, with a small establishment, and were refused an introduction at court, on account of their father’s misconduct.

Jemmy Gordon had been a quarter-master in the General’s regiment in India, and was dismissed for peculation. He opened a hell in St. James’s Street, under his old master’s patronage. Jemmy had little money, but plenty of wit and roguery. The house was luxuriously furnished at the General’s expense. A stock of most expensive and delicious wines and cordials filled the cellar ; and the back rooms were laid out after the plan of Madame Frederick’s Palace of Pleasure at Madras. The finest beauties of the day were provided, and dressed from the house wardrobe in silks and jewels, to seduce the unwary into their snares. Proper watch was kept upon them—they were not permitted to depart till they had been examined—and the profits of their prostitution shared between the General, Jemmy Gordon and themselves; Jemmy charging them so much per hour for the use of the finery.

Sal Jamieson, now the respected wife of a northern barrister, made her fortune in this place, and how she made it is worthy of being related in this memoir. A young man was introduced by the General several evenings, and played pretty deep. When tired with gambling, he amused himself in the arms of Miss Jamieson, with love and wine. He always paid her handsomely—he was, moreover, her countryman—and she pitied him. One day he lost £4000, and having no more cash on his person, he dispatched her with a draft on his banker for £6000. The General had been Sal’s friend, and had known her for years; they had often trusted her, and she never deceived them—they anticipated a glorious harvest at her return, and she made them (the two partners) sign an agreement to give her an equal share of the spoil, at the consummation of the young man’s ruin. This happened about noon-day. The young man had been playing all the preceding night, and was so completely overcome with wine that he did not know what he was about. Hour after hour passed, and trusty Sal returned not. The biters saw that they were bit and loudly taxed their dupe with imposing upon them—declaring he had sent no draft by the girl—they refused to lend him a sixpence, and he was turned out into the street, at ten o’clock on a wet night. He repaired to his lodgings, and threw himself on a sofa, reflecting on the manner he should finish his existence—he had no doubt but the girl had received the money, and it was the last sum he had in the world—he was aroused from his reverie by a loud rap at the door, and a lady was announced as his visitor. She followed the servant up stairs, and throwing off her cloak, discovered his chere amie, Sal Jamieson.

She made him sit down and compose himself; she exposed the infamy of the set he had got linked with, and as a proof of it. she produced the agreement, signed by the General, for her share in his plunder. He knew not which to admire most, their infamy, or her magnanimity, when she put into his hands the £6,000 in bank notes, assuring him that she only drew it from the bank to prevent it falling into their hands by means of a fresh check, which she doubted not he would have been weak enough to give. From this time she attached herself to this young man’s fortunes, and abandoned all her former courses. At the end of a few years he married her; they have three children, and in the place of his residence the former life of the lady is not known.

COMMON PLEAS

The public, no doubt, recollect, not many months past, that Mr. Best of dueling notoriety with Lord Camelford, appeared at Bow-Street with a very young lady Miss Bartolozzi, sister to Madame Vestris, the Don Juan of Drury Lane, where it appeared Mrs. B. the mother of Miss Bartolozzi, wished to prostitute her to Lord Petersham, in consideration of the sum of £500 value received, which the girl resisted, and her kind mother swore a robbery against her. Mr. Best appeared at Bow-Street to have taken Miss Bartolozzi’s part from moral and fatherly motives, and perhaps he did so.

Mr. Best then bore the young lady off in triumph, who appeared soon after to have been reconciled to her would-be seducer, as we saw them more than once in company at the theatres. Miss Bartolozzi appeared now in court, to show cause, why a bill for sundries applied to her use should not be paid by her, but Mr. Best, who for some reasons, to us unknown, had become a party to the debt.

Nominal damages were given of £1,000, subject to an award out of court, so that Mr. Best will have something to pay for, whatever that something may be it is not our business to enquire. The fair defendant was attended by her sister, Madame Vestris, and her noble counsel Lord Petersham, who overshadowed her with his bushy whiskers, and grinned horribly a ghastly smile when the verdict was given in court. Miss Bartolozzi was evidently under the protection of this sprig of noble morality in court, and out of it, we suppose, she is the same—at any rate, to be in the company of two Don Juans, is more than sufficient to give Miss B. a nameless name in the annals of gallantry; and we think no woman that valued her reputation at a rush, would hazard it by coming in contact with a professed libertine.

As to Madame Vestris, she is what she is—and either in breeches or petticoats, will be Don Juan; but we feel for her sister, who looks so much like an angel, really we should have mistaken her for one, had she not been surrounded by such wicked devils.

ELOPEMENT

The elopement of the two Miss W——’s from Staffordshire, has excited a strong sensation in that and the adjoining counties. These ladies being nearly connected with the first families in England and Wales, and the youngest only sixteen years of age. It seems, that being at Bath last winter for the completion of their education, (having lately lost their mother) they were closely beset by two young sons of Mars, and to avert the threatened danger, were sent to the house of their aunt, Mrs. A—, who is separated from her husband, and resides in the neighbourhood of Stafford. Here, as it was more than suspected, an attempt would be made to carry them off, they were accompanied by two trusty female servants; but all the eyes of Argus were wanting; for watching an opportunity, they got out of the drawing-room window, and ran for two miles into the turnpike road, where a coach and four, with their happy swains, awaited their arrival. Their aunt followed them as soon as she could procure four post-horses, but relinquished the pursuit at Newcastle; the lovers having got two hours ahead of her in their road to Gretna Green. We understand the parties are safe returned, properly linked in the bands of wedlock.

10 Replies to “Juicy Gossip from 1823”

  1. There were 25 peerages with courtesy titles starting with B and 48 lords with names starting with B, so that is a large group of people to chose from. The society people of the day would already know who this was, of course.
    I think because of the woman being a the wife of a member of parliament that it was an heir bearing a courtesy title– he is remarked as being young, for one thing. We need the divorce reports for the next year to know for certain.

  2. Leg- bail, run off or desert
    Courtesy earls whose titles begin with B
    Bective heir to Headfort; Belfast heir to Donegal but I doubt it was he because his legitimacy was won by a last minute act of parliament called the marriage act of 1822. Brecknock heir to Camden, and Bruce heir to Ailsbury
    .Earls: Balcarres, Bandon,BantryBathurst;Beauchamp;Belmore;Bessborough;Beverley;Bradford;Bruce;Buchan;Buckinghamshire;Burlington,.
    I can’t find any with a quick glance who eloped around the time given.

  3. Nancy, Thank you. I can’t vouch that this magazine is accurate or true. It’s just gossip…

  4. We are just indulging in the time honored practice of trying to decipher the initials.
    I can only find mention of two divorces around that period one for an Allardyce and the other for a Cunliffe. Haven’t seen the written reports to know who was the man involved.
    Of course they could be writing fiction and making up scandals.

  5. Thanks @Ella! Nancy and Jen P have had no luck trying to figure out the identities of the Lord Bs. Might not be reality after all…

  6. There was a Lord Beerhaven who was born in November of 1800 so would have still been 22 in most of 1823. He was a viscount. who didn’t marry until 1836 He was heir to the Earl of Bantry.
    Many of the possibles were married before 1823 or were too young..
    Reading Debrett came across a child of 6 who became a marquess. Two others also became peers at young age.

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