Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Men Behaving Badly: How to Reject a Buck, 1769

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Isabella reporting,

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.


Regencyresearcher said...

The buck looks normal. It is the rustics who look grotesque. They look as though they are taking part in a Halloween masquerade or live in a Zombie village.
The letter is hilarious. I was reading a book in which the heroine is bothered by a man who just wouldn't listen to her refusal . In her caase, her parents thought the man OK so she was fighting against great odds.
I have never been a beauty and never been one to have men falling at my feet or even asking me to the movies. However,even I once had a guy refuse to take my No as No.He was nuts.We were at university and the school year ended and I left. I was in graduate school and he was a sophomore besides being weird.
So many men are egocentric and others are as obtuse as Mr. Collins who was hard to convince that No is NO.

Julian Griffith said...

My God, he sounds like the classic entitled Nice Guy. "But I'm a Nice Guy! Why have I been friend-zoned?"

I don't know whether it's amusing or dispiriting that they've been around that long.

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