Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Besides little Katie Glynne (her first cousin), there was another death in the spring of '54 ; I mean Grand-mamma's. We have never known grandfathers. Our grandfather Lyttelton died a year or two before Papa's marriage ; our grandfather Glynne when Mamma was a little child ! And I may say we have never known more than one grandmother, for the impression that remains on my mind of Mamma's mother is a very confused one. She came to live at Hagley before my birth and became gradually a confirmed invalid. I just remember her driving out in her own carriage with her companion Miss Browne, the hood up, and a large umbrella held over her. Meriel remembers when she was able to dine with Papa and Mamma, but for the last years of her life she lived quite secluded in her own rooms. From time to time one of us might be sent with a message, but this was rare, and when I did see her, her tall bent figure and, to me, stern expression [here follow some lines partly scratched out : they evidently described how Lady Glynne used to wear a black patch on her nose] awed me very much. We were not allowed as a rule to go up the staircase near her sitting-room, and were kept very quiet whenever we were on her side of the house. (She had the drawing-room as her sitting-room, and the little tapestry dining-room as her bedroom ; her maid had the little room next door.) Latterly we quite left off going to see her, and I remember my dismay when I bounced into the dining-room at an irregular hour, and saw her passing with her slow, careful step across it from her bedroom to' her sitting-room. From all this it may be seen that we could know little personally of Grandmamma, and looked upon her more as a sort of awful mystery than anything else ; but I well remember the devotion of Mamma and Auntie Pussy to her ; how much time they spent with her, and how much talk with Miss Browne about her health ; also the instinct early taught us, and which I have hardly yet lost, of avoiding, or going softly by, the staircase and passages near her rooms.

And now having spoken about Grandmamma, I must describe Granny,(Her father's mother, Sarah, Lady Lyttelton.) for so we always called her as a distinction, and the fond familiar name best suits her. My first recollections of her are as making us charming presents ; frocks, sashes, and so on ; and later, little "tips" of money, so that her arrival was always a great event. I suppose she cannot be called a pretty old lady, as she has lost the sight of one eye from brow ague ; but in spite of this defect, to me, and to most I believe, she has always had a charm about her better than beauty. Tall, with great dignity and grace of manner, a sweet smile, a low melodious voice, and a power of winning and attracting everyone who knows her ; this is the best superficial idea I can give of her. But I can't do justice on paper to all that is admirable in her mind and character. Clever and brilliant in conversation, with a somewhat satirical turn, and a great gift of humour, the best letter writer I ever knew —which may partly be accounted for by her complete disbelief of the fact, and consequent ease and simplicity ; she is full of information, a first-rate teller of stories, or reader . . . [Here the account breaks off.]

No comments: