The Circus

The Circus

P 173-4

18th C

When James Boswell, newly married, was accosted by pretty women in The Strand in London he indulged hmself to the point of paying to "interview" several in order to satisfy his curiosity, as he put it, while managing technically to remain faithful to his young wife.

Some years after her father's death, his daughter Margaret admitted that her father often "exceeded the bounds of temperance" a habit which badly affected his health, sometimes to the point where he was unable to work for a week afterwards. He readily admitted to a friend that he led a dissolute life.

According to Thickness the painter had a total disregard for money and spent freely, to the utter despair of Margaret who, as we know, kept a close eye on all expenditure, not only regarding the household but whenever possible on her husband's business affairs as well. At times Gainsborough was embarrassed to admit that he could not send his sister, Mary Gibbon, money he owed her because he had received nothing in private, meaning funds unknown to Margaret.

On one occasion Margaret and her daughters travelled by their own coach from London to visit friends in Ipswich, leaving Gainsborough in London. In a letter to Mary Gibbon he made the point that his wife unexpectedly changed her mind about the length of the visit and wrote requiring him to meet them and escort them back to London some days earlier than planned. Gainsborough confessed to his sister that he guessed the real reason for this earlier return was because his wife was unable to trust him when left to live alone in the great city with all its temptations.