|White's - Regency Men's Club|
Bow window for privileged at center
The other famous feature of this club was its betting book. On its pages, members would wager on anything they could dream up. This might include which members of the aristocracy were most likely to marry, the outcome on the ongoing war with Napoleon, or sports. Here is a sampling:
Mr. Greville bets Lord Clanwilliam ten guineas, that Lord Stewart will be married to Lady F. Vane in six months.—June 18, 1818 [Clanwilliam paid].
Mr. Mills bets Lieutenant General Mackenzie a pony, that Lord Stewart goes to Vienna before he marries Lady Frances Vane. [Mills paid].
Lientenant-General Mackenzie bets Lord Yarmouth sixty guineas to fifty, that the Duke of Cambridge has a child before the Duke of Clarence.
Lord Sefton bets Sir Joseph Copley fifty guineas, that Lisbon and Cadiz will be in Buonaparte’s possession on or before the first of April next.—Jan. 17, 1809 [Copley paid.]
Some of the wagers were ridiculous. Lord Alvanley, of the privileged inner circle who was admitted to the bow window, is said to have once bet a friend £3,000 on a raindrop.
William Battencliffe wagers five thousand pounds that Miss Julia St. Claire will become the next Countess of Clivesden.
Benedict Revelstoke reread the lines in White's infamous betting book. What the devil? His fingers constricted about the quill, just shy of crushing it. Right. He'd been about to lay a wager. Some idiocy, no doubt—hardly worth the bother now.
The book's most recent inscription, scrawled in such a casual hand for all the world to see, had quite driven the notion from his mind. In gold ink, no less. How fitting. Gold ink for Battencliffe, the ton's golden boy.
Upperton, his oldest friend, nudged him. "What's the matter? Your feet coming over icy all the sudden?"
Lead blocks would be more accurate, but Benedict was not about to admit to that. He laid the quill aside and jabbed a finger at the heavy vellum page. "Have you seen this?"
The page darkened as Upperton peered over his shoulder. "Clivesden? Thought he was married. And what's Miss Julia got to do with any of this?"
"I've no idea, but I intend to find out." He released a breath between clenched teeth. "Appalling how so-called gentlemen will lay bets on young ladies of good reputation."
Ignoring the jibe, Benedict turned on his heel and strode down the steps to the pavement. A glance at his pocket watch told him it was ten minutes past eleven, still early by the ton's standards. That was something. At least he knew where he'd find Julia at such an hour.
He sighed at the prospect of dodging a passel of marriage-minded misses. He'd be damned before he let some idiot besmirch her reputation.