Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Men Behaving Badly: Scrope Davies

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Loretta reports:

"When the Lent term of 1808 at Cambridge began, Byron was unable to return by reason of his debts. Scrope [Davies] chose not to do so and the two friends plunged into a life of dissipation in London. In Byron's case it was chiefly whoring and gambling; in Scrope's gambling and drinking. In his 'Detached Thoughts' Byron recalled one of Scropes more noteworthy achievements:

One night, Scrope Davies at a gaming house...being tipsy as he usually was at the Midnight hour, and having lost monies, was in vain intreated by his friends, one degree less intoxicated than himself, to come or go home. In despair, he was left to himself, and to the demons of the dice-box. Next day, being visited, about two of the Clock by some friends just risen with a severe headache and empty pockets (who had left him losing at four or five in the morning), he was found in a sound sleep, without a night-cap, and not particularly encumbered with bed-cloathes: a Chamber-pot stood by his bed-side, brim-full of--Bank Notes! all won, God knows how, and crammed, Scrope knew not where; but there they were, all good legitimate notes, and to the amount of some thousand pounds."

T.A.J. Burnett, The Rise & Fall of a Regency Dandy: The Life and Times of Scrope Berdmore Davies

6 comments:

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Love it! No one tells a story like Lord B.

This one, too, has that modern-day-lost-weekend-in-Vegas feel, especially waking naked and hung-over with a chamberpot full of moolah.

Vanessa Kelly said...

These guys had amazing stamina! Of course, when they fell, they fell hard. Can you imagine what their livers much have looked like?

Loretta Chase said...

Susan, as we've often remarked, Byron does know how to spin a tale. Some of his letters & journals are more entertaining --and better written--than some of his poetry, IMO. The scenes just jump off the page--not the case with most of his contemporaries, that's for sure. Vanessa, so many of them died young--of other things, yes, but I have to wonder whether what killed them would have done so if their livers had been in better shape.

Susan Holloway Scott said...

Loretta, exactly how young were these two when they began the "life of dssipation in London"? I know that university students were younger in the past then they are now -- so if they'd skipped out on their Lent term, they might have been very young indeed. Yes? Or am I misthinking?

Christine Wells said...

It must be the devil in me that loves it when a scapegrace has a win once in a while! What a fun anecdote.

The thing I love about a lot of these bad boys is there was a certain genius and wit to a lot of their bad behaviour. It wasn't all just getting drunk and falling down.

Thanks for this series. I'm really enjoying it!

Loretta Chase said...

Susan, he was born in 1788, so he'd have been 20. Christine, I totally agree about the genius and wit. In this era, I'm focused on the dandies, and wit was highly prized. If you got drunk or gambled away a fortune, you did it with panache.

 
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