A buck by any other name – rake, playboy, rip, cad, knave, hound, playa – is still a Man Behaving Badly, and they've been around since the beginning of time. This letter from a 1769 edition of the Town & Country Magazine, or Universal Repository of Knowledge, Instruction, and Entertainment is probably a fictional invention, and not really the whining work of a real buck (who probably had other ways to occupy his time than writing to magazine editors.) Still, it does demonstrate the classic bad behavior of a Georgian buck, and a lady who has the good sense to reject his advances.
"I am a buck of the first head. I often kick up a dust in the Garden, break half a dozen lamps, and knock down as many watchmen; bilk a bagnio and my temporary Dulcinea; make a figure on a Sunday at Bagnigge and the Pantheon, and am, in my own opinion, quite an accomplished fellow; and yet, Sir, would you believe it, I cannot perswade Miss W–––ms, to whom I have said all the tender civil things in the world, to listen to my addresses: the smiles at my professions of love and particular regard for her, and actually asked me a few days ago, after I had spouted an excellent speech out of the Orphan, which might have captivated a cherub, whether I was not out of my senses? "What can be the reason of this? She is reckoned a very sensible girl, and I am of the opinion she has a great deal of judgment in everything, except her behaviour towards me. What provokes me the most is, she seems to give the preference to a parson, who has not one qualification that I can discover, without it is his preaching; but what woman of taste and spirit would be plagued with a preaching husband? Women do not marry to learn to pray; and though I hinted to her I never should desire her to go to church but once, and was dressed in my new brown coat and white collar (quite the thing) she was simple enough to turn upon her heel last Sunday, to go and hear this black-gown lover sermonize. "I have wrote her two letters since, as full of flames and darts as I possibly could cram them, and yet she has made me no answer. I know she reads your Magazine, and when she sees what is a just title I have to her, she will certainly alter her behaviour towards me; therefore I beg you will insert this as soon as possible, and you will greatly oblige your constant reader, DICK ATALL."
(A few notes: the Garden is Vauxhall Gardens, and Bagnigge is Bagnigge Wells; both were popular pleasure gardens near London. The Pantheon was another fashionable place of public entertainment, located on the south side of Oxford Street, and loosely modeled on the Pantheon in Rome. The Orphan, or The Unhappy Marriage was a very popular tragedy, written by Thomas Otway in 1680. was See here for more about tormenting hapless watchmen for sport.)
Above: The RUSTICS alarm'd at THE APPEARANCE of a LONDON BUCK, by Isaac Cruikshank, 1790. The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.
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.