Saturday, 12 February 2011

Style Icon V: Scrope Berdmore Davies

Scrope (pronounced 'Scroop') Berdmore Davies (1782-1852), was a son of a Gloucestershire clergyman who went to Eton with a King's scholarship and thence to Cambridge, where he eventually became a fellow of King's College. He became friends with Byron in 1807 and shared adventures of wine, women, song and high stakes' gaming with him in London. One night, Davies was left, by his despairing friends, to 'the demons of the dice box', to which he had already lost a packet, but they discovered him the next morning fast asleep; his chamber pot brimming over with banknotes to the tune of about one thousand pounds. So adroit a gambler was he that, by 1815, he had amassed about twenty two thousand pounds and he also had the benefit of his King's College fellowship. However, by 1820 (fours years after Brummell), he fled in debt to the continent, where he enjoyed a longer sunset that Brummell, dying during the night of 23-24th May 1852 of a seizure. He was buried in Montmartre Cemetery.

Byron rated him as one of the cleverest men that he knew in conversation and, although he is less remembered now than Brummell, he surely shared the template for Brummellian restraint in dress and demeanour, together with a lambent wit.

Papers found in a trunk in a Pall Mall bank in 1976 turned out to have been left behind by Davies, and included meticulously kept gaming books, showing that he had used method in his gaming; an original manuscript of part of Byron's Childe Harold's Pilgimage as well as many letters from Byron and early drafts of poems by Shelley.

Byron once remarked that it was a shame that Davies had not abandoned his King's College fellowship and married so that he could have sired some Scrooples.

As to Davies's own wit: on Brummell's attempts to learn French after his exile, Davies remarked that Brummell, like Buonaparte in Russia, had been stopped in his endeavour by the Elements.

No comments:

Post a Comment