Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth/Volume 1/Letter 113
|←Volume 1/Letter 112|| Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth by
Volume 1/Letter 113
|Volume 1/Letter 114→|
To MRS. RUXTON.
GROVE HOUSE, KENSINGTON GORE,
We arrived here on Saturday last; found Lady Elizabeth Whitbread more kind and more agreeable than ever. Her kindness to us is indeed unbounded, and would quite overwhelm me but for the delicate and polite manner in which she confers favours, more as if she received than conferred them. Her house, her servants, her carriage, her horses, are not only entirely at my disposal, but she had the good-natured politeness to go down to the door to desire the coachman to have George Bristow always on the box with him, as the shaking would be too much for him behind.
Yesterday we spent two hours at Lady Stafford's. I had most agreeable conversation with her and Lord Stafford, while Lady Elizabeth Gower showed the pictures to Honora and Fanny.
Mr. Talbot is often here, l'ami de la maison and very much ours. Lady Grey, Lady Elizabeth's mother, is a fine amiable old lady. Mr. Ellice, the brother-in-law, very good-humoured and agreeable. Mr. and Mrs. Lefevre, the son-in-law and daughter, very agreeable, good, and happy. I am more and more convinced that happiness depends upon what is in the head and heart more than on what is in the purse or the bank, or on the back or in the stomach. There must be enough in the stomach, but the sauce is of little consequence. By the bye, Lady Elizabeth's cook is said to be the best in England; lived with her in the days of her prosperity, as she says, and has followed her here.
KENSINGTON CORE, March 24, 1819.
I have a moment to write to you, and I will use it. We are going on just as when I last wrote to you. We began by steadily settling that we would not go out to any dinner or evening parties, because we could not do so without giving up Lady Elizabeth's society; she never goes out but to her relations. The mornings she spends in her own apartments, and when we had refused all invitations to dinner our friends were so kind as to contrive to see us at our own hours: to breakfast or luncheon. Twice with Lady Lansdowne—luncheon; found her with her children just the same as at Bowood. Miss Fanshawe's—breakfast; Lord Glenbervie there, very agreeable; much French and Italian literature—beautiful drawings, full of genius—if there be such a thing allowed by practical education?
Three breakfasts at dear Mrs. Marcet's; the first quite private; the second literary, very agreeable; Dr. Holland, Mr. Wishaw, Captain Beaufort, Mr. Mallet, Lady Yonge; third, Mr. Mill—British India—was the chief figurante; not the least of a figurante though, excellent in sense and benevolence.
Twice at Mr. Wilberforce's; he lives next door to Lady Elizabeth Whitbread; there we met Mr. Buxton—admirable facts from him about Newgate and Spitalfields weavers. One fact I was very sorry to learn, that Mrs. Fry, that angel woman, was very ill.
Breakfast with Mr. and Mrs. Hope—quite alone—he showed the house to Honora and Fanny while I sat with Mrs. Hope.
On St. Patrick's Day, by appointment to the Duchess of Wellington, nothing could be more like Kitty Pakenham; a plate of shamrocks on the table, and as she came forward to meet me, she gave a bunch to me, pressing my hand and saying in a low voice with her sweet smile, Vous en êtes digne. She asked individually for all her Irish friends. I showed to her what was said in my father's life, and by me, of Lord Longford, and the drawing of his likeness, and asked if his family would be pleased; she spoke very kindly: "would do her father's memory honour; could not but please every Pakenham." She was obliging in directing her conversation easily to my sisters as well as to myself. She said she had purposely avoided being acquainted with Madame de Staël in England, not knowing how she might be received by the Bourbons, to whom the Duchess was to be Ambassadress. She found that Madame de Staël was well received at the Bourbon Court, and consequently she must be received at the Duke of Wellington's. She arrived, and walking up in full assembly to the Duchess, with the fire of indignation flashing in her eyes.
"Eh! Madame la Duchesse, vous ne voulez pas donc faire ma connaissance en Angleterre?"
"Non, Madame, je ne le voulais pas."
"Eh! comment, Madame? Pourquoi donc?"
"C'est que je vous craignais, Madame."
"Vous me craignez, Madame la Duchesse?"
"Non, Madame, je ne vous crains plus."
Madame de Staël threw her arms round her, "Ah! je vous adore!"
I must end abruptly. No; I have one minute more. While we were at the Duchess of Wellington's a jeweller's man came in with some bracelets, one was a shell like your Roman shell cameo, of the Duke's head, of which she was correcting the profile. She showed us pictures of her sons, and Fanny sketched from them while we sat with her. We saw in the hall, or rather in the corner of the staircase, Canova's gigantic "Apollo-Buonaparte," which was sent from France to the Regent who gave it to the Duke. It is ten feet high, but I could not judge of it where it is cooped up—shockingly ill-placed.
Sunday—Lady Harrowby's by invitation, as it is Lord Harrowby's only holiday. Mr. Ellis, a young man, just entered Parliament, from whom great things are expected. Mr. Wilmot, and Mr. Frere—Lady Ebrington and Lady Mary Ryder—Lord Harrowby, most agreeable conversation. Folding doors thrown open. The Duke of——. Post—letter must go.
- Son of Lady Talbot de Malahide, a lawyer