should blue and green ever be seen?

Lord Cornbury, the third Earl of Clarendon, served as Governor of New York between 1701 and 1708.

Cornbury came to be regarded in the historical literature as a moral profligate, sunk in corruption: possibly the worst governor Britain ever imposed on an American colony. The early accounts claim he took bribes and plundered the public treasury.

***Lord Cornbury image found here

Later historians characterise him as a “degenerate and pervert who is said to have spent half of his time dressed in women’s clothes”, a “fop and a wastrel”. One night during the early 1700s, a constable working for the British colony of New York arrested what he presumed was a prostitute walking along Broadway. When the suspect was brought back to the stockade, however, it was discovered that he had actually taken into custody the colonial governor, who enjoyed taking evening strolls in his wife’s clothes … In addition to women’s clothing, which he enjoyed wearing while walking the parapets of the British fort he commanded, Lord Cornbury also had a fetish for ears, and made it a point of telling visitors to official state functions that they were free to fondle those of his wife

image found here

He is reported to have opened the 1702 New York Assembly clad in a hooped blue gown and an elaborate headdress and carrying a fan, imitative of the style of Queen Anne. It is also said that in August 1707, when his wife Lady Cornbury died, His High Mightiness (as he preferred to be called) attended the funeral again dressed as a woman.***

Blue gown and elaborate headdress found here

One hundred years later, Henry Cope of Brighton, also liked to dress up in unusual clothing. Whereas Lord Cornbury reputedly preferred female attire, Henry was more concerned with a specific colour.

Henry Cope was gripped by green. A contemporary writer records every detail: “Green pantaloons, green waistcoat, green frock coat, green cravat; and though his ears, whiskers, eyebrows and chin were powdered, his countenance, no doubt from the reflection of his clothes, was also green. He ate nothing but green fruits and vegetables, had his rooms painted green, and furnished with a green sofa, green chairs, green table, green bed and green curtains. His gig, his livery, his portmanteau, his gloves and his whip were all green. With a green silk handkerchief in his hand and a large watch-chain with green seals fastened to the green buttons of his green waistcoat, he paraded every day on the Steyne”.

Green house by Sandy Skoglund found here

Unfortunately by 1806, Cope had gone completely mad and hurled himself from the cliff down to the beach below which was mostly golden but with patches of green seaweed. He is believed to have spent his last years in an asylum, bound up in a straitjacket. It is not known whether it was green.

image found here

***In 2000 Patricia U. Bonomi re-examined these assertions, and found them to be questionable and based on very little evidence.

talking turkey with papa

Irish landowner Adolphus Cooke (1792 – 1876) was a firm believer in reincarnation

Reincarnation image found here

He believed that a large turkey cock in the farmyard was the re-born soul of his father. Employees knew that his better nature could be appealed to by citing the ‘opinion’ of the turkey cock. On one occasion Adolphus appointed himself as judge to try his dog, which had taken to wandering the countryside and consorting with dogs of low breeding.

image found here

After numerous warnings were ignored the court was held and the dog sentenced to be hanged for insubordination. A workman was ordered to hang the dog at dawn. The next morning the man was seen leading the dog back to the house. Adolphus was outraged and demanded to know why his orders were not obeyed. The workman explained that the turkey cock had expressed opposition to the execution and the workman wanted to consult Adolphus about this. Adolphus totally believed this farrago and reprieved the dog, who continued to live a long and dissolute life.

turkey found here

Hunting was a major pastime of the gentry at the time, but he opposed hunting. He believed he would return to this world after death as a fox. To be prepared he spent his later years wandering the countryside day and night so he would be aware of each earth and passway to escape the hounds.

baby Fennec fox found here

The best known incident about Cooke is the affair of the crows. He was awoken frequently by the cawing of large flocks of crows and employees told him the noise was because the crows were nesting nearby. Cooke ordered that the crows nest in another part of the estate. They naturally ignored this. He then ordered all his workmen and some tenants to collect twigs and branches and to climb the trees to build nests for the crows. The workers were well paid for this pointless activity and loafed about for weeks. No crows would use the few nests actually made. When Adolphus appeared to inspect the work and was annoyed at the lack of success the workers explained that ‘his honour’s crows’ were now engaged in a civil war with the crows from a neighbouring village (about the nests) and that a huge battle had taken place.

image found here

Cooke was pleased to learn his own crows had been victorious in the battle and demanded to see the dead and injured. The workmen replied that, unfortunately, the neighbouring crows had called a truce and had come back to collect and remove all the casualties. Adolphus showed no signs of disbelieving this avian Illiad and gave rewards to the men who had assisted his army.

image found here

Cooke died an old man in the 1870s and was buried, along with his brother and his childhood nanny, in a ‘beehive’ tomb. This igloo-like construction still exists, though overgrown and neglected, in a local churchyard. It dates from an earlier period of Cooke’s life, when he believed that his post death form would be as a bee.

Adolphus Cooke’s beehive tomb found here

beware the 5:00 pm miasma

Despite her Gallic sounding name, the Comtesse de Noailles (1824 – 1908) was English and lived near Eastbourne for nearly 20 years before moving to France later in life.

Beachy Head from above Eastbourne circa 1890 found here

When she was 40, she saw a portrait of a young girl by the artist Ernest Hébert. De Noailles attempted to buy it but it had already been sold so she decided instead to adopt the model, named Maria. Her Italian father, Domenico, had brought her to Paris to be adopted for two bags of gold with which he would use to create a vineyard.

Pasqua Maria by Ernest Hébert found here

De Noailles encouraged her cows to graze near open windows believing the methane they produced was good for her health. She also left England every winter for fear of catching flu. When Maria became an adult, de Noailles instructed her to do the same with her family, saying the climate became too unhealthy when leaves fell, especially from oak trees, which de Noailles believed England had too many of.

Majesty Oak of Kent found here

After Maria married, if the Comtesse came to stay, all the trees in the vicinity would have to be felled in case she caught some disease from the bark. During Maria’s pregnancy, the Comtesse instructed her to drink only water in which the tips of pine branches had previously been boiled, which was  problematic, since all nearby trees had been cut due to a previous demand.

felled pine tree stump found here

Other habits included sleeping with a loaded pistol beside her bed; having a string of fresh onions hung on her bedroom door to protect her from infections; wrapping silk stockings stuffed with squirrel fur around her forehead to prevent wrinkles; eating large amounts of fresh herring roe to prevent bronchitis. She also believed that port wine should be drunk at sunset, mixed with a little sugar and diluted with soft rainwater collected from the roof of their house by her servants under her husband’s supervision.

bald squirrel found here

She refused to travel anywhere if the wind was blowing in an easterly direction and was liable to call the train to a halt and return home should she notice the trees blowing the wrong way.

During a visit to southern France where de Noailles and her daughter met other members of polite society, she instructed her family to accept no invitations to afternoon tea after 5 o’clock, believing that most people caught flu at this time because of dangerous miasma in the air at the end of the day.

dangerous invitation to a late tea found here

The Comtesse lived until she was 84, her diet in the last weeks of her life consisting solely of milk and champagne.

how not to cure hiccups

Magazine publisher, Thomas Gibson Bowles, was widowed in 1887, and left to raise four young children.

Thomas Gibson Bowles found here

Health, he decided, was the most important thing. Bowles had studied some statistics that suggested that Jewish children were less susceptible to disease than others. From then on his children were fed according to strict Mosiac law. The dressing of girl children seemed to him an unnecessarily complicated matter, so he decided to have his daughters outfitted by the naval tailor who made his sons’ clothes. As a result Sydney and Dorothy Bowles wore only thick blue serge naval uniforms and sailor’s caps until the age of seventeen.

Shirley Temple in sailor suit found here

Cap’en Tommy, as the cartoonists called him, had strict views on the correct way to take a bath. He dismissed the conventional method as merely ‘sitting in dirty water’. Instead, he took steam baths at his London club. When the family went to Scotland on holiday, however, he had to improvise, using some dog kennels in front of the house as a temporary Turkish bath. Bowles would sit steaming inside the first kennel, which had been lined with hot bricks, before emerging into the run where the butler was waiting on the roof of the next kennel to shower him with bucketfuls of cold water. From his position on the roof, the butler could also announce the approach of any strangers whose sensibility might not be equal to the spectacle.

Turkish Steam Bath found here

Henry Ford also had some strange ideas about health

The well known motor manufacturer was obsessed with diet. He campaigned for synthetic milk, insisting that cows were on the verge of obsolescence because they were unhygienic. He maintained that eating sugar was tantamount to committing suicide since its sharp crystals would cut a person’s stomach to shreds.

World’s biggest cow found here

He then took to leaving old razor blades to rust in the water he used to wash his hair because he thought rusty water acted as a hair restorer. And he was such an advocate of soya beans that he once wore a suit and tie made from soya-based products.

Hair Restorer found here

But John “Mad Jack” Mytton probably takes the cake when it comes to strange ideas about health

For exercise he liked to go fox hunting which he would do in any kind of weather. His usual winter gear was a light jacket, thin shoes, linen trousers and silk stockings – but in the thrill of the chase he could strip down and continue on naked. He is also recorded as crouching naked in snow drifts and swimming winter rivers in full spate.

Naked in snow found here

He would get out of bed in the middle of the night, remove his nightshirt and set off completely naked but carrying his favourite gun across the frozen fields towards his lake. Here he would ambush the ducks, fire a few shots and return to bed apparently none the worse for his ordeal. He frequently got up again half an hour later – stripped off and went through the whole process again. His most extraordinary day’s shooting came when he got fed up waiting for the birds to come within range, stripped naked, sat on the ice and slowly shuffled forward on the slippery surface until he was within range. It took over an hour but he never caught a cold or seemed in the least unwell after this or indeed after any of his naked shooting exploits.

image found here

He had a wardrobe consisting of 150 pairs of hunting breeches, 700 pairs of handmade hunting boots, 1000 hats and some 3,000 shirts. He also had numerous pets in his manor. Including some 2,000 dogs comprising fox hounds and other breeds such as gun dogs, pointers and retrievers, his favourites were fed on steak and champagne. Some dogs wore livery, others were costumed.

Dog masquerading as tiger found here

Mytton was also a drinking man and could drink eight bottles of port a day with a helping of brandy. Rather than sit down to a formal dinner every evening he would sustain himself throughout the day with ‘pounds of filberts’ when in season, a type of hazelnut, or dine with his tenant farmers eating full fat bacon and quaffing a quart of ale beside their fire before returning to Halston Hall.

Bacon Beer found here

He married a Baronet’s daughter, in 1818 but she died in 1820. His second wife Caroline Giffard ran away in 1830. His wives bore him children who he would affectionately toss into the air as babies and pelt with oranges.

orange baby monkey found here

During his stay in France he tried to cure his hiccups by setting his shirt on fire. “Damn this hiccup!!” said Mytton “I’ll frighten it away”; so seizing a lighted candle, applied it to the tail of his cotton nightshirt and was instantly enveloped in flames. A fellow guest and Mytton’s servant beat out the flames: “The hiccup is gone, by God!”, said he and reeled, naked, into bed’.

Published in: on March 24, 2011 at 7:15 am  Comments (49)  
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the art of letter writing

In the old days before email people seemed to put a lot more effort into their letter writing. Here are three great examples:

Harold Pinter

In his early play The Birthday Party, two mysterious men terrorize a third named Stanley as he cowers in a tawdry English rooming house. In post-absurdist fashion, Pinter denies his audience virtually all clarification of his characters’ histories prompting one frustrated viewer to write:

image found here

“I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your play. These are the points which I do not understand: 1. Who are the two men? 2. Where did Stanley come from? 3. Were they all supposed to be normal? You will appreciate that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your play.”

my favourite birthday party boy found here

Pinter replied: “Dear Madam: I would be obliged if you would kindly explain to me the meaning of your letter. These are the points which I do not understand: 1. Who are you? 2. Where do you come from? 3. Are you supposed to be normal? You will understand that without the answers to my questions, I cannot fully understand your letter.”

image found here

Harry S Truman

To Paul Hume, music critic who wrote a disparaging review of Truman’s daughter’s singing performance:

Mr Hume:

I’ve just read your lousy review of Margaret’s concert. I’ve come to the conclusion that you are an “eight ulcer man on four ulcer pay.”

Harry S Truman found here

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!


Groucho Marx

To Jerry Wald, producer of Peyton Place

Dear Jerry:

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed “Peyton Place.” As a matter of fact, I CAN tell you. I enjoyed it very much.

image found here

In addition to enjoying the picture, it seemed that the whole evening had been planned by a master hand. My De Soto was whisked away from the front of the theatre so swiftly that I arrived at Romanoff’s in a Buick. There I rapidly got drunk, danced with Audrey Hepburn, looked down (and up) Jayne Mansfield’s knockers, had a fine lobster dinner and spent a good half hour rubbing someone’s legs under the table …. which, on investigation, turned out to be my wife’s.

Jayne Mansfield found here

It was a bang-up evening …. and that’s how I wound up.

Regards, Groucho

home improvement ideas from the rich and famous

***William Beckford (1760-1844) was once the wealthiest man in England. Wherever he travelled he was accompanied by his personal doctor, cook, valet, baker, two dogs, three footmen, 24 musicians and a Spanish dwarf.

image found here

It was said that for one trip to Portugal, he even took with him a flock of sheep in order to improve the view from his window. Wherever he stayed, he supplied his own bed, cutlery, crockery and wallpaper.

Vintage wallpaper found here

He also appears to have been a paedophile. (I’m not condoning the behaviour, just reporting a sad, strange, interesting and possibly wasted life)

By the time he died at the venerable age of 84, he had built the loftiest domestic residence in the world, had assembled a virtual harem of boys, had his own militia to protect his Fonthill estate of 6,000 acres, had written the first Oriental-Gothic horror novel in English literature, and had become the most scandalous connoisseur of hedonism in the modern world.

Fonthill Abbey ceilings found here

Beckford received a brilliant education, and was widely learned in French, Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, law, literature and physics by the age of 17. His private piano teacher was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — at least that is the legend, too romantic to be discouraged.

piano students found here

When this self-styled Caliph was 19, he fell in love with the Hon William Courtenay, later 3rd Viscount and 9th Earl of Devon, then ten years old and regarded as one of the most beautiful boys in England. Beckford and Courtenay saw each other frequently for nearly six peaceful years.

William Courtenay found here

But in 1784, a visitor to Powderham claimed to have heard some “strange goings on” in Courtenay’s bedroom, with Beckford apparently in bed with the lad. Soon the newspapers started circulating rumours about the country squire and his “Kitty,” as the beautiful Courtenay was effeminately dubbed. Beckford and Courtenay were forced to separate to avoid further reprisal.

The scandal of 1784 was partly fabricated or at least exaggerated by Courtenay’s vindictive uncle Lord Loughborough, and we cannot be sure that specific sexual acts took place; but the general charge was almost certainly true.

Laughing Lord Loughborough found here

Upon his eventual return to England, Beckford shielded himself behind an eight mile long, twelve foot high wall topped by iron spikes, surrounding his estate (it was also built because he loved animals, and wanted to keep out hunters). He imported a dwarf to be his doorkeeper (and with whom he shared the pornography occasionally sent by Franchi from London), an abbé from France as spiritual advisor (and also as tolerant confidant concerning boy-troubles), a physician from Italy, and a harem of boy-servants for diversion, some picked up in England.

More paintings by Velazquez here

His household of young male servants were all given revealing gay nicknames: “there is pale Ambrose, infamous Poupee, horrid Ghoul, insipid Mme Bion, cadaverous Nicobuse, the portentous dwarf, frigid Silence, Miss Long, Miss Butterfly, Countess Pox, Mr Prudent Well-Sealed-up, The Monkey, The Turk, and others.

“Butterfly Boy” by Jerome Leibling found here

His exclusion from society was compensated for by the transformation of Fonthill Abbey into a Gothic cathedral to rival nearby Salisbury Cathedral. With the help of the leading architect of the day, James Wyatt, he raised a tower that was nearly 300 feet high.

By the 1820s, Beckford had spent so much money on Fonthill that he was forced to mortgage it. In 1823 he sold it to a gunpowder maker for nearly five million dollars. He then bought an estate near Bath and built what he called Lansdown Baghdad, with a much shorter tower. Then in his late sixties, he became respectably eccentric, rather than scandalously debauched, until his death.

Fonthill Abbey found here

Beckford’s personality still remains enigmatic, even for his modern biographers. “He was,” in the opinion of Alistair Sutherland, “as much a martyr as Wilde, and almost certainly a more interesting and civilised man.” He was immensely intelligent as well as a hedonist, a serious artist as well as a social rebel, and more honest than eccentric.

***Excerpted from the web page of Rictor Norton found here

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 7:16 am  Comments (44)  
Tags: , , ,

where detectives loaf about the village

In 1931, Dr Maurice Hammoneau gave an interview to the Evening Post about the French Foreign Legion

Belgian Foreign Legion found here

“France wants no gangsters, thieves or murderers to serve her flag. How are such men detected if they happen to enlist? France is thorough in such matters. Detectives have two chances of picking them out. First is at the depot in Marseilles and second at the distribution point in Africa where they remain for five days.

France’s most notorious gangster, Jacques Mesrine found here

They are still in civilian clothing so detectives are able to single out particular garments; an American hat, a pair of Italian shoes or an English suit. The recruits are studied carefully and then are passed on to training barracks in tiny villages. Even here they are not free from supervision, for detectives loaf about the village and watch them.

Detective found here

Sometimes the Legion suffers from an occasional desertion in peacetime but there has only ever been one wartime desertion. Hammoneau declined to give that man’s nationality or any particulars. “Caffard got him” he says. “the word translates into cockroach – imagine a cockroach gnawing at a man’s brain.”

Live cockroach brooch found here

I wonder if this is the same Frenchman I’ve been reading about in The Literary Life and Other Curiosities by Robert Hendrickson…..

Sold at auction in 1978 was a twenty one volume series about animals by Maurice Hammonneau. The author had hunted down each animal described and used the appropriate animal skin to bind each volume. Included was a book on human beings, but no explanation was given about the source of the cover.


book bound in human skin found here

sixty is twenty times three

Casanova claimed in his autobiography that he seduced thousands of women, though he names just 116 of them. But he wasn’t the only writer who was preoccupied with sex…

Casanova found here

*Alexandre Dumas was said to have fathered dozens of illegitimate children. He was once reproached for holding a young actress on his lap while two others rumpled his hair. “Sixty is twenty times three” he replied “which makes me twenty years old for each of these three young ladies”.

Dumas found here

James Boswell told anyone who would listen that he once made love five times in a row, and contracted gonorrhea seventeen times over a period of thirty years. Frank Harris had Lloyd’s of London insure his card file of the 2,000 women he had bedded. He also invented a pornographic card game called “Dirty Banshee” complete with playing cards depicting satyrs and goddesses in sexual acts.

image found here

Robert Burns seduced women without compunction and is known to have sired no fewer than 14 children, nine of them out of wedlock. His daughter Elizabeth, by Anna Park, and his legitimate daughter of the same name were born within a month of each other, and Jean Armour, his wife, suckled them both as uncomplainingly as though they were her own third set of twins.

Incognito Robert Burns found here

Women writers seem to have been more reluctant to brag or lie about their love affairs and have left fewer records of them. But a French actress/author, Mademoiselle Dubois, would appear to be the champion of both sexes; in her memoirs she claimed her affairs totalled 16,527 over a twenty year period, or about three a day.

Mark  Sam Rosenthal as Blanche Dubois found here

*Excerpt from The Literary Life by Robert Hendrickson

patience please for the prince

Evangelist Glenn Wilbur Voliva was a disciple of John Alexander Dowie who, in the late 19th century, set up the township of Zion City on the shores of Lake Michigan. Dowie, who had denounced sex, oysters and life assurance, became the victim of a power struggle with Voliva who took over as Chief Administrator in 1905.

more erotic nature to be found here

He gained nationwide notoriety by his vigorous advocacy of flat earth doctrine. He offered a widely publicized $5000 challenge for anyone to disprove flat earth theory. Voliva also frequently predicted the end of the world: his predictions that the end would come in 1923, 1927, 1930, and 1935 were incorrect.

Still from Encounters at the End of the World found here

Lipstick, scanty clothes, high heels and swimming costumes were all strictly forbidden, as were cigarettes and alcohol. There were no theatres or cinemas and no butcher, chemist or doctor was allowed to practice within the city precincts. Nobody was allowed to whistle or sing or drive a vehicle in excess of 5 mph.

Angie Dickinson in scanty clothes and high heels found here

Transgressors were subject to arrest by Voliva’s Praetorian Guard, a regime whose helmets were inscribed with the word ‘Patience’ and who carried miniature bibles instead of truncheons. Punishment included a one hour lecture on sin.

World’s smallest Bible found here

Here in Australia we have our own independent sovereign state ruled by His Majesty Prince Leonard of Hutt.

The Principality of Hutt River was created in 1969 as a province in response to a dispute with the government over what the Casley family considered draconian wheat production quotas.

Prince Leonard found here

In correspondence with the governor-general’s office, Casley was inadvertently addressed as the “Administrator of the Hutt River Province” which, under the application of Royal Prerogative, makes this recognition binding on all courts. After the government threatened him with prosecution, Casley styled himself His Majesty Prince Leonard I of Hutt to take advantage of a law that a monarch could not only not be charged, but that anyone who interfered with his duties could be charged with treason.

image found here

n 1976, Australia Post refused to handle Hutt River mail, forcing mail to be redirected via Canada. Following repeated demands by the Australian Taxation Office for the payment of taxes, on 2 December 1977 the province officially declared war on Australia. Prince Leonard notified authorities of the cessation of hostilities several days later. The mail service was restored and tax requests ceased.

Canada Mail found here

The Principality of Hutt River is situated 517 km north of Perth. Exports include wildflowers, agricultural produce, stamps and coins. Tourism is also important to its economy with 40,000 tourists visiting the principality every year.

Order your Hutt River stamps here

Although actual residents are very few, the principality claims a world-wide citizenry of 13,000. The Principality has no standing army, but a number of its citizens have been awarded military commissions. Honorary guardsmen attend the prince on formal occasions, and despite being completely landlocked, naval commissions have been conferred on supporters of the principality.

Prince Leonard and Princess Shirley found here

Prince Leonard is married to Her Royal Highness Princess Shirley, by whom he has seven adult children. His son, Crown Prince Ian, who is the Prime Minister of the Principality, has been designated as Prince Leonard’s eventual successor as “heir presumptive”.

wherefore art thou?

Robert “Romeo” Coates (1772-1848) was the son of a wealthy sugar planter in Antigua.

more Antigua carnival images here

As a young adult, he emigrated to England and became an amateur actor. His self-image included a highly mistaken belief in his own thespian prowess. After professional theatrical producers failed to cast Coates in significant roles, he used his family fortune to subsidize his own productions in which he was both the producer and the lead actor.

His favourite part was Shakespeare’s Romeo, hence his widely-used nickname. He appeared in a costume of his own design: a flowing sky blue cloak spangled with sequins, red pantaloons, an enormous cravat and a plumed hat – not to mention dozens of diamonds – which was hardly suitable for the part. The audience cracked up with laughter.

Romeo Coates found here

***The glittering outfit was so tight that his limbs bulged out like sausages. In the middle of the play his pants burst open at the seat. Audience members watched in disbelief at the sudden extrusion of a quantity of white linen which was visible whenever he turned around.

image found here

Coates was convinced he was the best actor in business yet he forgot his lines all the time and invented new scenes and dialogue on the spot. He loved dramatic death scenes and would repeat them – or any other scenes he happened to take a fancy to – three to four times over.

Romeo and Juliet by Annie Leibovitz

At the end of his first appearance as Romeo he came back in with a crowbar and tried to pry open Capulet’s tomb. In another of his antics he made the actress playing Juliet so embarrassed that she clung to a pillar and refused to leave the stage. Eventually no actress would agree to play the part with him.

image found here

His fame spread and people would flock to see whether he really was as bad as they had heard. In 1811, when he played the part of Lothario in The Fair Penitent in London’s Haymarket Theatre, the theatre had to turn thousands of would-be spectators away. In another performance in Richmond, Surrey, several audience members had to be treated for excessive laughter.

image found here

Outside the stage Coates continued to amaze the public with his taste in clothing. He wore furs even in hot weather. He went out in a custom-built carriage with a heraldic device of a crowing cock and the motto “While I Live, I’ll Crow”. In receptions he glittered from head to toe with diamond buttons and buckles. His predilection for diamonds of all kinds gave him the nickname “Diamond Coates“.

Joe Namath in fur coat found here

His ridicule and fame increased with each month. “At Home”, a spoof of Coates’s acting, ran nightly at Covent Garden Theatre. When an appearance by “The Celebrated Amateur of Fashion” was promised after a performance of Othello, curious audience members waited back to see him.

The curtain rose to reveal Coates sitting at a table drinking a glass of wine. He strolled to the edge of the stage, drank to the audience’s health and launched into a poetic recitation. A single actor onstage drinking wine and inviting his audience to join him was unlike any performance ever seen at Haymarket before. The crowd roared its approval.

image found here

Eventually though, his plantations on Antigua suffered reversals and he found himself with less income to flaunt. His star faded from the British stage and he retired in his fifties, married and moved to Boulogne-sur-Mer. Sometimes when a visitor recalled the old days in London, he could be coaxed into giving one of his famous recitations, but he refused to ever take to the stage again.

*** excerpt from Banvard’s Folly by Paul Collins

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