Life And Letters Of Maria Edgeworth/Volume 2/Letter 11
To MISS HONORA EDGEWORTH.
BOWOOD, Dec. 20, 1820.
I write to you sitting in the bow (or beau, or bay) window of the room with yellow furniture with black stars, into which we were shown by Lady Lansdowne. Oh, my dear Honora, how everything here reminds me of you!
Lady Lansdowne's reception of us was most cordial. She had been out walking, and came to us only half dressed, with a shawl thrown over her. Lord Lansdowne is at Bath, at an agricultural meeting. Mr. and Mrs. Ord and their son, an Eton youth, are here; Lady Elizabeth and Captain Fielding—he is very gentlemanlike and agreeable; Mr. Hallam; the two Mr. Smiths, whom you remember, and Mr. Fazakerley—very clever; and best of all, Miss Vernon and Miss Fox: she introduced to Fanny and Harriet her niece, Miss Fox, very handsome and agreeable—not come out.
EASTON GREY, Dec. 26.
I intended this frank for my mother, but Mr. Ricardo turned it into Miss instead of Mrs.; and why I asked for a frank at all I cannot tell, except for the honour and glory of having one from David Ricardo. He has been here one whole day, and is exceedingly agreeable. This house is delightful, in a beautiful situation, fine trees, fine valleys, and soft verdure, even at this season: the library-drawing-room with low sofas, plenty of movable tables, open bookcases, and all that speaks the habits and affords the means of agreeable occupation. Easton Grey might be a happy model of what an English country gentleman's house should be; and Mrs. Smith's kind, well-bred manners, and Mr. Smith's literary and sensible conversation, make this house one of the most agreeable I ever saw.
At Bowood there was a happy mixture of sense and nonsense. Lord Lansdowne was talking to me on the nice little sofa by the fire very seriously of Windham's life and death, and of a journal which he wrote to cure himself of indecision of character. Enter suddenly, with a great burst of noise from the breakfast-room, a tribe of gentlemen neighing like horses. You never saw a man look more surprised than Lord Lansdowne.
Re-enter the same performers on all-fours, grunting like pigs.
Then a company of ladies and gentlemen in dumb-show, doing a country visit, ending with asking for a frank, curtseying, bowing, and exit.—"Neighbour."
Then enter all the gentlemen, some with their fingers on their eyes, some delighted with themselves.—"I."
Then re-enter Lord Lansdowne, the two Mr. Smiths, Mr. Hallam, and Mr. Fazakerley, each with little dolls made of their pocket handkerchiefs, nursing and playing with them.—"Doll."
Exit, and re-enter, carrying, and surrounding, and worshipping Mrs. Ord in an arm-chair.—"Idol."
This does not do for sober reading, but it produced much laughter.
We have been at Badminton: magnificent: library delightful. Here, as at Trentham, a gallery opens into the chapel, also the village church, and here is a great curiosity—Raphael's first chalk sketch of the Transfiguration; that is, of all the figures in the lower part: wonderfully fine, the woman kneeling, and the boy possessed, and the man holding him—admirable. Some fine pictures, too, though not a professed collection. Saw in the park a fine herd of red deer, the finest, it is said, in England. How shall I find room to tell you of the Roman pavements and Roman town found near this place, much better worth than all I have been penning! For nonsense I always have time and space.