Most of my Regency era heroes attend Etonand Oxford, even though I know a great many men of the time passed through both institutions with little effect on their intellects. In fact, I have often wondered how much the Eton experience contributed to the stunning number of occasions of Men Behaving Badly. There was the fagging for one thing, and the Spartan living conditions and—oh, yes—there was the flogging.
“George Heath, known to the boys as ‘Ascot Heath’ after the racecourse with which they were no doubt familiar, was appointed Head Master in 1792. He was a strict disciplinarian, and on one occasion is said to have flogged seventy boys at one session, if that is the word, administering ten strokes to each. As a result ‘ he was laid up with aches and pains for more than a week.’ In 1798 he gave fifty-two boys ‘a round dozen each.’ Despite these severities he quite failed to suppress the driving of tandems around Eton and Windsor, and on two occasions during Scrope’s* time at Eton virtually the whole school failed to appear for Absence.** On the first occasion they preferred to attend the first ever cricket match between two public schools, Eton against Westminster, and on the second they made an excursion by boat up the river to Maidenhead…
“The occasion is still recalled at Eton when Keate confused the list of those to be confirmed with that of those to be punished, and flogged the confirmands with a will reinforced by their apparently blasphemous protestations.”
He was about five feet tall.
*Scrope Berdmore Davies, a great friend of Lord Byron
From The Rise & Fall of a Regency Dandy: The Life and Times of Scrope Berdmore Davies, by T.A.J. Burnett.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.