Objectionable Foreign Button-Making Baron

He has been represented as the most fascinating and accomplished of men. A member of the select and exclusive Jockey Club of Paris, and a foreign and honorary member of our own fashionable Travellers’ Club here, he was at first represented as one of the élite of society – the observed of all observers – the pink of fashion and the mould of form – “a gentlemanly-looking man of fifty-five,” who did not merely drive a gig and graduate in respectability in such a middle-class way, but was an honoured guest in the saloons of exiled princes, and having easy access to the tables of the noblest of our countrymen, he appeared to live upon a social eminence which might have provoked jealousy, but which freed him from any suspicion of heinous criminality. On the other hand he has been represented, with perhaps equal exaggeration, to have been certainly a parvenu, and perhaps a bore. He is said to have been the son of a glove-maker, and to have had, in his own person, some mysterious commercial connection with button-making, and to have either acquired his title by the purchase of a small Italian estate which conferred that empty distinction upon him, or else to have been the last plebeian metamorphosed into an aristocrat by the will and pleasure of the late Louis Philippe. It is doubtless, as a matter of gossip, interesting to that curious individual, the general reader – but it is a matter of perfect indifference in an English court of law whether the accused is the undoubted scion of a family dating from the Deluge, or the most pushing, irrepressible, and objectionable of that terrible section of society, who are described as “distinguished foreigners”. – The Morning Chronicle, 22 July 1861

Some barons fancy they may do as they like in England. This is rather a mistake. – The Illustrated News Of The World, 29 July 1861

Quoted in Deadly Encounters : Two Victorian Sensations by Richard D Altick, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986

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