From The Letter-bag of Lady Elizabeth Spencer-Stanhope, Volume 1
Marianne Spencer-Stanhope writing to John Spencer-Stanhope.
Paris, March, 1818.
“I hear nothing of the man taken up for shooting at the Duke, if it is true that one has been secured. Poor Bacon was taken up by 5 Gens d’Arms at nine in the morning and after a secret examination sent to the Conciergerie. It was conjectured he was concerned with a Banker who went off—but instead of that being true, the Banker absconded with all his money! Sir C. Stuart means to make a fuss about it, for no one is safe if taken up and confined only on suspicion.
“The King on one of the most stormy days we have had took three people out to prevent their voting for the Recruiting Bill. However, they contrived to get back in time, by which means it was carried by four. He was angry—they said they did it as a point of duty to him.
“Lady Mansfield’s Ball was fine—but too many women in proportion to the men, and many of the latter old. A great many French. I only saw oneLady out of each family. Many, many young ladies sat out. All the ton French ladies danced the whole night. Lady M. hoped she should see you, tho’ she forgot to invite you.
“Lord Alvanley came to Paris a few days ago with his mistress. They refused him admittance at the Hotel de Londres, saying they had English families there, among others “the great Mrs Beaumont,” He coolly replied that they need not mind her, for her fortune had been made by keeping a house of bad character; and so he got in! Did you ever hear of such scandalous impudence!”
On behalf of Lord Alvanley, however, it may be added that about this date another story got abroad respecting him which redounds more to his credit . He and Lord Kinnaird were playing whist one evening, when, owing to some mistaken move in the game on the part of Lord Alvanley, Lord Kinnaird completely lost his self-control and abused his friend in the most violent manner. Lord Alvanley listened in silence to the torrent of denunciation, then, rising from the card table, observed very quietly, “Not being blessed with your Lordship’s angelic temper, I shall retire for fear of losing mine!”
Moreover, Marianne Stanhope, about the same time, makes mention of an instance of Lord Alvanley’s good-nature which came under her notice. It appears that one of his greatest friends was an Irish dandy who, for long, went by the nickname of “King Allen” on account of his having achieved a unique position in the world of fashion. This monarch of the beau monde spent his days, as did others of his class, exhibiting his faultless clothes in fashionable resorts; and so wedded was he to this existence that he could seldom be persuaded to quit London even for the benefit of his health.
Once, however, Lord Alvanley found his friend moping at the sea-side, a prey to profound depression, and spending sleepless nights tossing on his couch, unable to account to his own satisfaction either for his insomnia or his melancholia. With the intuition of a kindred soul Lord Alvanley at once probed the root of the dandy’s complaint. He recognised that it was impossible for such a man to exist apart from the bustle and noise of the great city to which he was accustomed, and faute de mieux, Lord Alvanley invented a remedy. At his own expense, he engaged a hackney coachman who undertook to rattle his vehicle up and down past King Allen’s lodgings till the early dawn, and another man who agreed to shout the hours throughout the night in the strident tones of a London watchman. The ruse was successful. Whether other persons living in the neighbourhood were equally pleased, history does not relate, but the melancholy dandy, deluded into a belief that he was back once more in his favourite haunts, slumbered peacefully, and was in time restored in perfect health to the scenes of his former triumph.
Indeed, “Lord Alvanley,” wrote Lady Granville at a later date, “was quite charming which does not mean homme, but I cannot persuade myself that he is much altered and that he will end by being a very good, as he is a most captivating, person. Such cleverness, without one grain of effort. What a receipt for being, as he is, quite charming.”