Thursday, February 4, 2010

February 5th, 1811

On February 5th, 1811 by Act of Parliament George Augustus Fredrick of the House of Hanover became temporary sovereign of Great Britain. But what is a “Regent” anyway and what kind of person was “Prinnie”?

In Fact the era we all love so well is a product of British Law. George III, had over the stresses of rule, slowly succumbed to his genetics and maladies such as blindness and deafness. His daughter Amelia died suddenly in 1810, sending King George III at the height of his popularity into “madness”.

His eldest son the Prince of Whales was made “Regent” (limited sovereign) while his father’s conditions kept him incapable of rule until his death in 1820. George was a somewhat incapable adult when he became Regent. “Prinnie” as he was known in popular satire, had serious vices equivalent to misbehaving modern pop icons today.

An “Act of Regency” gives power of monarchy, to a close blood relative of the true monarch in times of crisis through Act of Parliament. George would inherit the throne upon his father’s death anyway, thus rendering the more common practice of a parliamentary “Council of Regency” unnecessary, because he was also an adult. This was not the case in his yet to be born relative, Princess Victoria of Kent some 25 years later. The would be Queen Victoria would have to face the possibility of constraints that George would never know, because she was a minor.

The Regency Act also limited the powers of the Regent for a year after establishment. This was a wise decision formed by earlier legislation, especially for this Prince Regent!

George was by all accounts a flamboyant, oafish, cranky, squandering, fashion and food addicted whore-monger. At the time of his Regency he kept mistresses, drank and ate to extreme excess and spent his fortune without thought, including grants of money given to him by Parliament. Even his marriage to Caroline of Brunswick, was to appease his father for a loan of royal debt relief. In his youth he fathered illegitimate children and purchased their Mother’s cooperation and silence. He may have even been a Laudanum fiend. He forbade his wife the eventual Queen, to attend his coronation or come to state functions.

However, during his reign as Regent he began the remodel of Buckingham palace and supported the arts and culture movements in Great Britain. He surrounded himself with men like Beau Brummell, John Nash the celebrated architect, and improved monuments and edifices which continued well into his reign as King.

One of the most revered heroes of the British Empire described him thus:

“the worst man he ever fell in with his whole life, the most selfish, the most false, the most ill-natured, the most entirely without one redeeming quality"

AND in speech upon his death…

“a magnificent patron of the arts ... the most extraordinary compound of talent, wit, buffoonery, obstinacy, and good feeling—in short a medley of the most opposite qualities, with a great preponderance of good—that I ever saw in any character in my life."

-Sir Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington

Whatever the man was like as a person, his era as Regent and subsequent reign as Monarch in 1820 is one of the most celebrated romantic literary eras. His regency is remembered through the works Austen, Byron, Shelley, and the Napoleonic Wars. The magnificent styles of fashion and the dress we all love.

His Monarchy is seldom remembered as it should be. He is the man that through his own character flaws and vices, failed to produce a legitimate heir. This and the rule of his brother who had similar yet less robust character flaws, William IV, gave the world one of the most memorable sovereigns of all time; Queen Victoria.

So take a moment and raise a glass, coffee cup, shot glass , toilet lid or what have you, to a truly enigmatic and paradoxical whore-monger of a Monarch on February 5th !

Next year is the big 200th anniversary, Let’s celebrate!

God Save The Prince of Whales! (Because he probably bloody well needed it!!!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Grand Ball

As I contemplate what I am about to write I truly marvel that it has yet to happen. I am still quite amused by the McLean house gathering. Lady Simpson and I have many fond memories and catch each other musing about it on a regular basis.

With that in mind I will propose the following dangerous idea... A Grand Ball. This would be a gathering to rival all others that would require all chapters to come together and pool their endeavors into one giant party, ANNUALLY.

This suits us here in "the country" fine as I am doubtful that our sparse population is ready yet to host a gathering here, but would be willing to co-sponsor with anyone who wanted to hold one in the Portland under the auspices of our multiple "manors". I realize this may cause some trepidation, of which I hope all realize is quite innocent in its genesis on my part.

It could even become a fund raiser at some point, with profits going to sponsor other events or activities for the chapters. Perhaps the Grand Ball can be the finale of a weekend of merriment and sport? The options are many and varied.

I would love to hear from any and all interested in throwing such an event. Surely with our varied locations and numerous resources this could happen. I also don't like seeing Lady Debourgh losing here mind at our expense.

I welcome your response.
Cheers- Lt. A

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Of Saturdays at McLean Manor

Dear Friends,
As I take pen in hand this new day to set down my recollections, I will allow my thoughts to drift back to an accounting of the revelry of Saturday last. After a somewhat harrowing coach ride across the mountains the previous night, my good and most angelic Lady Georgiana Simpson and her cousin Adelheide Goetz (her parent’s were patriots of Prussia before Boney’s reign) and I found our party arrived at the 12th Night Feast.

It would seem effortless to write and extol the evening’s delights as enthusiasm, but in sooth, it was a capital time of the highest order. One becomes used to such parties by the well meaning and appointed, especially as well traveled as my life has been to this point in His Majesty's service. I have been received at many a ball, grog haul and cotillion with many long periods of confinement aboard a ship of the line as a magnifying influence on the most mundane of swillings. However, it is with most earnest words I will attest that this was no short endeavor, being the best and most first rate time I have had in recent memory.

One knows I have made regular trips to the colonies in the service, but the apotheosis of good company, fine food and splendid friends, I had not yet had pleasure of discovering until the feast. I have had many occasions during the American War to find myself in the colony of Virginia for many victorious parade and amusement to benefit His Majesty’s troops, played many a throw of hazard and heard many fine measures played and sung, but Anachreon himself would have been well enjoyed of the company.

Singularly, I must say the diverse entertainments were well met. The Lady of Portland House issued exquisite intonations. It was as if the cherubs of Aphrodite where all in chorus from her mouth by her seraphic notes that would make even a Cesar faint with reflection. The Master of Portland house was quite the sharp at whist and a wry fellow indeed, with an artist’s eye for taking likenesses.

Lady Debourgh and her Chef de Cuisine arranged an extravagance rivaling that of the Regent. One expects from these fine houses abhorrent ragouts and claret, but not here. Many fine courses and cuts of meat were served, after which Lady Debourgh called dances for us in the hall. It was a tremendous honor bestowed upon her guest methinks.

One knows that as a pensioner of Portsmouth, I am troubled by my old wound attained on that terrible occasion in 1781, which makes my dancing somewhat ham-footed. I have never been allowed to dance and encouraged with so much patience as I had Saturday last. I was giddy as an Arab lad in a stygian whirl-wind by the end of it all.

I must remark most notably upon the Footmen, Jonkins (a Cornish name I believe) and Timothy. While base fellows in conversation, they were very attentive and the service was vigilant, even as they would seem to be idle souls given to drink and dice, they did not falter in their tasks.

Most quirsome was that there were few gentlemen. I can testify that I feel acutely blessed to no longer be a bachelor as of late. Lady Simpson is the finest and most beauteous lady of the most lucid quality I could ever hope for. She and the other ladies, were as so many nymphs as written about in the ages of Macedon.

Lads, if I were a bachelor with even the meagerest of prospects, poorest of purse and wanting in physique, I would endevor with even the meagerest of efforts to polish my pumps, have my linen freshened and make occasion of some future event with this splendid array of the fairest of dainty society and spare a few shillings to make my attendance. Your only opposition would be other fellows not in attendance. One gentleman in particular was spoken of regularly with great gaiety and frequency.

All the women discussed some absentee gentleman, some fellow named Mr. Knightly who is a sullen and melancholy sort by all accounts of him. He sounds as distatseful as that fellow who inherited Cum Magna some time whence. Genuinely, what do the ladies see as quality in such gentlemen as these?

Well I must lay down the quill for now and go to market to buy linen for my tailor to make trousers as the vernal season of angling will be upon us most readily. I hope that my former companion from the HMS Victory is to be present shortly. It has been some time since I have lifted a bumper to the Navy and the King.

I hope to see you all on the occasion of the 20th of February next. I here it is Lady Debourgh’s birthday, an occasion not to be missed.

God Save England!

I remain your most obedient servant,

Lt. Wm Armstrong

Friday, January 8, 2010

Be seeing you....

...At the Feast of the 12th Night in West Linn. Our boots are polished, linens pressed, coats and jackets freshly brushed, and the Phaeton loaded for the long journey to the McLean House. We look forward to making your acquaintances, dancing, and "whisting" the night away.

God Save the King- Mr A.