For the young gentleman looking forward to his impending freedom, when he is released from the schoolroom and into Society, the prospect of leading the bachelor life is at once thrilling and terrifying. After all, it may be that the aforementioned gentleman has only a few precious years before matrimony – be it for duty, one’s purse or actual love – beckons. With this in mind, Behind The Past is pleased to present a Ten Point Plan For Success in perfecting the Regency bachelor’s existence.
- Prior preparation is of the utmost importance. During his time at Oxford, Cambridge or on a Grand Tour, a gentleman should begin to cultivate future friendships and acquaintances. He should also spend this time strengthening his constitution for the late nights, eating and drinking which will follow in due course. These years can also prove to be rather riotous! However, a gentleman should also endeavour to spend his time wisely. He should aim to pick up at least a smattering of knowledge regarding Classical Antiquity, and other similar subjects. He should be able to carry off something of a conversation on the matter, and be able to litter his sentences with witty allusions.
- The next step is to get the right introduction. A young man should be taken by his father (or another suitable gentleman in his stead) to a levee. This is a gentleman-only affair at St James’ Palace where a young man is ‘brought out’ into ‘manly’ Society and presented to the monarch or an appointed representative.
- Having now taken his place in Society, a bachelor is free to remove himself to London. This stage is of crucial importance. One can tell a lot about a man by his address. An aspiring gentleman should aim for a set of chambers in Albany or lodgings on a suitable street such as St James’ Place, Ryder Street or Duke Street.
- A bachelor should next endeavour to be amiable and agreeable at parties. Being known for this will mean he is frequently called upon to ‘make up the numbers’ for dancing. It also means food, entertainment and company for him. He shouldn’t worry about leaving early, in fact, he’ll be expected to stay. No one really expects a bachelor of leisure to rise before midday, after all.
- However, a committed bachelor mustn’t be afraid to hide from unmarried ladies and their mothers at these parties…
- A large vase or curtain should do the trick.
- If cornered by them, he should pretend to be the younger son. More often than not, these ladies will lose interest in a gentlemen if he is seen to be the ‘lesser’ prize.
- If all else fails, there is the option of leaving town. Bath and Brighton are perfectly acceptable places for a bachelor to while away his freedom. A change of scenery is also nice every now and again, and London can get awfully dull once the Season’s over.
- On that note, if a bachelor is looking for town diversions, Tatersall’s and Jackson’s Saloon are good places to see and be seen.
- And lastly, a gentleman shouldn’t become too downcast if family expenses require him to take up some sort of employment. Although it may impede on his pursuit of pleasure, with skilled management, it is also very possible for him to arrange his affairs in such a way as to allow him to freely indulge his social inclinations.
Kloester, Jennifer, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, (London: William Heinemann, 2005).