Monday, February 23, 2015

A Regency-era Heartbreaker

Monday, February 23, 2015
Loretta reports:

This entire section from The English Spy is worth reading (please click on the link/scroll down to Cytherean Beauties), but I selected this bit, because of its description of a fellow who might well be a Regency hero or villain, depending on the use he makes of his charms and the sort of heroine he runs up against.  And though the description dates to the 1820s, I believe some of us have met the present-day version.  The Regency had quite a few names for the women described later in the piece, but what would you call this charmer?
If ever there was a fellow formed by nature to captivate and conquer the heart of lovely woman, it is that arch-looking, light-hearted Apollo, Horace Eglantine, with his soul-enlivening conversational talents, his scraps of poetry, and puns, and fashionable anecdote; his chivalrous form and noble carriage, joined to a mirth-inspiring countenance and soft languishing blue eye, which sets half the delicate bosoms that surround him palpitating between hope and fear; then a glance at his well-shaped leg, or the fascination of an elegant compliment, smilingly overleaping a pearly fence of more than usual whiteness and regularity, fixes the fair one's doom, ; while the young rogue, triumphing in his success, turns on his heel and plays off another battery on the next pretty susceptible piece of enchanting simplicity that accident may throw into his way. The English Spy, 1825

Image:  Sir Thomas Lawrence, Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, later 1st Earl Granville (between 1804-09), courtesy Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.


Anonymous said...

I think the choice of the portrait of Lord Granville Leveson Gower was an excellent choice for the illustration as the description could easily have been of him.
He was the young lover of Lady Bessborough before he married her niece. Harriet wasn't blind to the effect he had on women nor to his nature or history. It is said she raised her aunt's children by her husband-- I haven't read all of her letters of later years but what In those I have read, she seems happy with them. I was more struck with the fact that she mentioned money more than the possibility of infidelity on the part of her husband. They were children of two of the richest families in the country.

Beth Elliott said...

This could be the description of Jane Austen's Henry Crawford. It fits so well.

Anonymous said...

You know, it's a shame we don't remark upon well-shaped legs anymore! :)

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