George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 418 pages of information about George Selwyn.


Portrait of George Augustus Selwyn at the age of fifty-one:  from a pastelle by Hugh Douglas Hamilton, drawn in 1770.  Hamilton, who was an Irish artist of considerable reputation, was at this time working in London.  After a long visit to Italy he returned to Dublin in 1792 and was elected a member of the Royal Hibernian Academy.  This drawing is in the possession of the Earl of Carlisle at Castle Howard, Yorkshire.

Group of George Augustus Selwyn and Frederick, fifth Earl of Carlisle:  from a picture by Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A.  The dog by the side of Selwyn is his favourite, Raton.  Selwyn is dressed in a pale brown coat and breeches, a red vest trimmed with gold lace, and light grey stockings; the Earl of Carlisle in a reddish brown coat and pale yellow vest.  He wears the green ribbon and star of the Order of the Thistle.  This picture was probably painted about the year 1770, and is in the possession of the Earl of Carlisle at Castle Howard, Yorkshire ....

Table of dates 1719.  Birth. 1739.  Matriculated at Hart Hall, Oxford. 1740.  Clerk of the Irons and Surveyor of Meltings at the Mint. 1742-3.  In Paris; having gone down from Oxford for a time. 1745.  Finally left Oxford. 1747.  M.P. for Ludgershall. 1751.  Death of father and elder brother. 1754.  M.P. for Gloucester. 1755.  Paymaster of the Works. 1767.  Correspondence with fifth Earl of Carlisle commences. 1779.  Registrar of the Court of Chancery of Barbadoes. 1780.  Loses seat for Gloucester.  M.P. for Ludgershall. 1782.  Loses office of Paymaster of the Works. 1784.  Surveyor-General of Land Revenues of the Crown. 1791.  Death.

Health is the first good lent to men;
 A gentle disposition then
 Next to be rich by no bye ways,
 Lastly with friends t’enjoy our days.



During the latter half of the eighteenth century no man had more friends in the select society which comprised those who were of the first importance in English politics, fashion, or sport, than George Selwyn.  In one particular he was regarded as supreme and unapproachable; he was the humourist of his time.  His ban mots were collected and repeated with extraordinary zest.  They were enjoyed by Members of Parliament at Westminster, and by fashionable ladies in the drawing-rooms of St. James’s.  They were told as things not to be forgotten in the letters of harassed politicians.  “You must have heard all the particulars of the Duke of Northumberland’s entertainment,” wrote Mr. Whateley in 1768 to George Grenville, the most hardworking of ministers; “perhaps you have not heard George Selwyn’s bon mot."* But as usually happens when a man becomes known for his humour jokes were fathered on Selwyn, just as half a century

Project Gutenberg
George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook