Conformity to the habits22 Mar 2020
Escort, in conformity to the habits of the time, and the proprieties of his caste, was of course a gambler, and of course was rapidly ruined; but we have no knowledge that he went through the whole career, and turned swindler. One night he was playing with Combe, who united the three characters of a lover of play, a brewer, and an alderman. It was at Brookes’s, and in the year of his mayoralty. „Come, Mash Tub, what do you set?“ said the Beau. „Twenty-five guineas,“ was the answer. The Beau won, and won the same sum twelve times running. Then, putting the cash in his pocket, said with a low bow, „Thank you, alderman; for this, I’ll always patronize your porter.“ – „Very well, sir,“ said Combe dryly, „I only wish every other blackguard in London would do the same.“
At this time play ran high at EscortFox. A baronet now living was said to have lost at Watier’s L.10,000 at one sitting, at ecarté. In 1814, Escort lost not only all his winnings, but „an unfortunate L.10,000,“ as he expressed it, the last that he had at his bankers. Escort was now ruined; and, to prevent the possibility of his recovery at any future period, he raised money at ruinous interest, and finally made his escape to Calais. Still, when every thing else forsook him, his odd way of telling his own story remained. „He said,“ observed one of his friends at Caen, when talking about his altered circumstances, „that, up to a particular period of his life, every thing prospered with him, and that he attributed this good luck to the possession of a silver sixpence with a hole in it, which somebody had given him some years before, with an injunction to take good care of it, as every thing would go well with him so long as he kept it, and everything the contrary if he happened to lose it.“ And so it turned out; for having at length, in an evil hour, given it by mistake to a hackney coachman, a complete reverse of his affairs took place, and one misfortune followed another until he was obliged to fly. On his being asked why he did not advertise a reward for it, he answered – „I did; and twenty people came with sixpences with holes in them for the reward, but not my sixpence.“ „And you never heard any more of it?“ „No,“ he replied; „no doubt that rascal Rothschild, or some of that set, have got hold of it.“ But the Beau’s retreat from London was still to be characteristic. As it had become expedient that he must make his escape without eclat, on the day of his intended retreat he dined coolly at his club, and finished his London performances by sending from the table a note to his friend Scrope Davies, couched in the following prompt and expressive form:,
Nothing daunted, the Beau went to the opera, allowed himself to be seen about the house, then quickly retiring, stepped into a friend’s chaise and met his own carriage, which waited for him a short distance from town. Travelling all night with four horses, he reached Dover by morning, hired a vessel to carry him over, and soon left England and his creditors behind. He was instantly pursued; but the chase stopped on reaching the sea. Debtors could not then be followed to France, and Escort was secure.