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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Poor Beau Brummel died in extreme poverty


[Illustration: WASHINGTON IRVING AND HIS FRIENDS Painted by Daniel Huntington

1 Henry T Tackerman 2 Oliver Wendell Holmes 3 William Gilmore Simms 4 Fitz Greene Halleck 5 Nathaniel Hawthorne 6 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 7 Nathaniel Parker Willis 8 William H Prescott 9 Washington Irving 10 James K Paulding 11 Ralph Waldo Emerson 12 William Cullen Bryant 13 John P Kennedy 14 J Fenimore Cooper 15 George Bancroft]

[Sidenote: Prince Consort Albert]

[Sidenote: First attempt to assassinate Victoria]

In England, great popular rejoicings had been occasioned by the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. A bill was passed appointing the Prince Consort regent of England in case of the Queen's death. The royal couple were well matched. The credit of having brought about this marriage was chiefly due to Lord Melbourne. The tactful conduct of Prince Albert after the marriage fully justified his choice. Yet Prince Albert was never popular in England. Parliament cut down his proposed income from the Crown by nearly one half. The lower classes were prejudiced against him as a foreigner, while the nobility and army turned against him when they found that he preferred the society of men eminent for their intellectual attainments to that of dukes and marquises. On June 10, an insane pot-boy named

Oxford attempted to assassinate the Queen and the Prince Consort with a pistol. The would-be assassin was confined in an asylum. On November 21, Queen Victoria gave birth to her eldest child, Augusta, who subsequently became Empress of Germany.

[Sidenote: First Charter petition]

[Sidenote: Jack Frost's revolt]

Other English events of domestic importance were the passage of the vaccination act, the introduction of screw propellers in the British navy, and the State trial of the three leaders of the Chartist movement of the previous year. A monster petition subscribed by 1,280,000 signatures on a great cylinder was rolled into Parliament. In it were embodied new demands for a bill of rights, or the "People's Charter," comprising universal suffrage, including that of woman, secret ballots, payment of Parliamentary representatives, and the like. The denial of this petition provoked a popular uprising under the leadership of Jack Frost at Newport, which had to be suppressed by the military. After a sensational trial, the leaders were condemned to deportation.

[Sidenote: Death of Beau Brummel]

Echoes of the English Regency were re-awakened by the death of "Beau" Brummel, a dandy after the manner of the French exquisites. It was a boast of this leader of fashion that he spoiled twenty-five cravats before one was tied to his liking. The Prince Regent in his dress imitated Brummel. The offended beau retaliated one day, when some of his friends saluted the Prince on Rotten Row, by asking, "Who is your fat friend?" Leigh Hunt improved upon this in his "Examiner" by describing the Prince as "a corpulent Adonis of fifty." For this Hunt was sentenced to imprisonment for two years and fined L500. After George IV. became king, Brummel fell into disfavor and had to leave London. Years later, the bankrupt beau, who had been cheated out of a snuff-box by Prince George, presented the King with another in token of submission. In the words of Thackeray, "the King took the snuff, and ordered his horses, and drove on, and had not the grace to notice his old companion--favorite, rival, enemy, superior." Poor Beau Brummel died in extreme poverty. Some of the striking episodes of the beau's career were dramatized in a play, which has kept alive the memory of this lesser light of modern English society.


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