Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth/Volume 1/Letter 108

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To MISS RUXTON.

BOWOOD, Sept. 19, 1818.

You know our history up to Saturday last, when Lord and Lady Grenville left Bowood: there remained Mr. Thomas Grenville, Le vieux Célibataire, two Horts, Sir William and his brother, Mr. Gally Knight, and Lord and Lady Bathurst, with their two daughters. Mr. Grenville left us yesterday, and the rest go to-day. Mr. Grenville was very agreeable: dry, quiet humour: grave face, dark, thin, and gentlemanlike: a lie-by manner, entertained, or entertaining by turns. It is curious that we have seen within the course of a week one of the heads of the ministerial, and one of the ex-ministerial party. In point of ability, Lord Grenville is, I think, far superior to any one I have seen here. Lord Lansdowne, with whom I had a delightful tête-à-tête walk yesterday, told me that Lord Grenville can be fully known only when people come to do political business with him: there he excels. You know his preface to Lord Chatham's Letters. His manner of speaking in the House is not pleasing, Lord Lansdowne says: from being very near-sighted he has a look of austerity and haughtiness, and as he cannot see all he wants to see, he throws himself back with his chin up, determined to look at none. Lord Lansdowne gave me an instance—I may say a warning—of the folly of judging hastily of character at first sight from small circumstances. In one of Cowper's letters there is an absurd character of Lord Grenville, in which he is represented as a petit-maître. This arose from Lord Grenville taking up his near-sighted glass several times during his visit. There cannot, in nature or art, be a man further from a petit-maître.

Lady Bathurst is remarkably obliging to me: we have many subjects in common—her brother, the Duke of Richmond, and all Ireland; her aunt, Lady Louisa Connolly, and Miss Emily Napier, and all the Pakenhams, and the Duchess of Wellington. The Duke lately said to Mrs. Pole, "After all, home is what we must look to at last."

Lady Georgiana is a very pretty, and I need scarcely say, fashionable-looking young lady, easy, agreeable, and quite unaffected.

This visit to Bowood has surpassed my expectation in every respect. I much enjoy the sight of Lady Lansdowne's happiness with her husband and her children: beauty, fortune, cultivated society, in short, everything that the most reasonable or unreasonable could wish. She is so amiable and so desirous to make others happy, that it is impossible not to love her; and the most envious of mortals, I think, would have the heart opened to sympathy with her. Then Lord and Lady Lansdowne are so fond of each other, and show it, and don't show it, in the most agreeable manner. His conversation is very various and natural, full of information, given for the sake of those to whom he speaks, never for display. What he says always lets us into his feelings and character, and therefore is interesting.