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Fans for the Beaux
Mackay's, an oilman in Piccadilly, some one remarked that the two, with their dissipation, would ruin poor Mackay. "Oh no," said Selwyn, "they will make his fortune, for he will have the credit of having the finest pickles in London in his place."
Selwyn was a great gambler, and kept the bank at Brooks's, but it is said that later he overcame his liking for play, because it was "too great a consumer of time, health, fortune, and thinking." Thus he was able to die in affluence, a circumstance enjoyed by very few gamblers of the eighteenth century.
Little is known to-day of Gilly Williams but that he was the son of a celebrated lawyer and uncle by marriage to Lord North, and was a close friend of Walpole's. He is said to have been the gayest among the gay and wittiest among the witty, and he was certainly very interested in his clothes. It is amusing in reading the letters addressed to Selwyn when in Paris in 1766 and 1767, to find how often clothes were the subject of the pen. Gilly Williams, the Earl of March, and the Hon. Henry St. John were great upon this subject.
"Vernon writes that you would send him a velvet, something of this pattern, for a coat, waistcoat and breeches," writes the Earl of March. In another letter he asks for two or three bottles of perfume to put amongst powder, but nothing which smells of musk or amber; he also desires some patterns of spring velvets and silks for furs, and asks that inquiries should be made at Calais about his coat lined with astrakan. Then,
Lady Townsend has sent me a fan for you, which I will send you by the first opportunity if I don't bring it myself." And ten days later he writes: "I have two fans for you from Lady Townsend, which you shall have by the first opportunity."
The Earl of March, who was later known as the wicked Lord Queensberry, was a Macaroni in his own right; he took great respect for his clothes, fell in love when inclined, and played desperately. He writes, in 1766: "I wish I had set out immediately after Newmarket, which I believe I should have done if I had not taken a violent fancy for one of the opera girls" (Mlle. Zamperini). "This passion is a little abated, and I hope it will be quite so before you come over, else I fear it will interrupt our society." He writes again a little later: "I want a dozen pair of silk stockings for the Zamperini, of a very small size, and with embroidered clocks. I should also be glad to have some riband, a cap or something or other for her of that sort. She is but fifteen. You may advise with Lady Rochford, who will choose something that will be fit for her, and that she will like."
We wonder if any lady nowadays would choose gifts abroad for any Zamperini.
On the question of fans, which were much used by the Beaux-or Macaronis, as for a time they were called -the Earl wrote in December 1766: "She" (Lady Townsend) "sent me two when she thought I was going to Paris, but she was in great haste to get them back again. I believe she was afraid they might be seized upon by some of the opera people if they remained in my house." George Selwyn did not get the fans sent to him for some weeks, but they grew from one to two, and from two to four, being at last carried out by Lord Fitzwilliam, with a promise of three more to come through another friend. A dozen pairs of gloves, lined with a kind of wash-leather, the tops lined inside with silk, are also requested by Earl March.
The constant cry of Gilly Williams was for velvet.
All through the letters one comes upon allusions such as the following: "Have you asked about my velvet ? As much as would make a large pin-cushion would do for me, and I should like another suit like my last, if I could smuggle it." Again, on November 18th: "As to my velvet, if you see any prospect of conveying it to me, make it up; if not, when I want a new skin I will repair to Spittal Fields, and take the best their looms will afford me." On the 25th we hear again of the velvet. "As to my velvet, think no more of it. If the Duchess of Northumberland was my friend she could put it out of the reach of the Custom House Officers, but, as it is, when I want to be fine I'll repair to your old weavers and take some remnant of an old pincushion, which will do for me." And further: And further: "As to my velvet, do what you will with it; I do not care one farthing about it. Remember I do not want bell riband; it is that instrument. that the ladies work the bell-ropes upon; any woman will show you what."
There are others who ask Selwyn to send them clothes. Lord Bolingbroke for instance, a successor to the Bolingbroke of an earlier chapter, and known as "Bully," seems suddenly to have waked up to the fact that by his own inertia he was losing his reputation, his position, and his wife. So he determines to take to politics, and "has a complete bore of two hours every night," next to Lord Temple in the House. "The Viscountess (his wife) is shut up altogether with Topham Beauclerc." Then, Bolingbroke pays attention to his appearance and writes to Selwyn saying that no is better qualified to form and polish the mind of a fine gentleman than he, and also by being in Paris, to adorn and improve the outside. So he asks for several pairs of lace ruffles, two for winter and two for spring; a