Monday, August 21, 2006

09Jul1859, Dancing with the Comte de Paris

LONDON, July 9th, 1859.
—We went again to Lord's with Mrs. Talbot and sons : the play was a little improved, and there were some fine leg hits ; but oh ! Charles was out third ball, by a brilliant shooter, lightning swift, middle stump. We immediately drove off, in a raging state of disappointment. Home a little past two, luncheon, dressing, and then we went by the 4 o'clock train to Ly. Marion Alford's beautiful breakfast. [FN: At Ashridge. Lady Marian was the mother of the late Earl Brownlow.] The train was 20 min. late, and the journey horrid with the dust, which grievously dirtied my new gloves. At Tring, where carriages were to be provided by Ly. Marian, we had to wait an hour before they came, then such a scramble for them. We got off at last in a break with Ly. Clarendon and the Villiers, but didn't arrive till 7. Such a beautiful drive, and the place glorious : 800 people were there in the course of the day : heaps that we knew. We sat, walked, and talked, eat some cold dinner and listened to the splendid Grenadier band. At dusk, the band moved under the windows, and some dancing began. Ed. Neville turned up, and carried me off for a quadrille, a capital one, of 50 people, but plenty of room. Then we sat in the beautiful darkness on the terrace, looking at the pretty illuminations in the garden, and finally, who shd I shoot, but the Comte de Paris ! ! Atie. Pussy, flying into activity, plunged after him ; we watched him thro' a quadrille ; and after it, he saw us : profound was my curtsey. He engaged me for the next Lancers, which he'd no sooner done than I missed my pretty chrysoprase bracelet, which took away nearly all my pleasure. Well, I took off my bonnet, to look my best, but then, to my anguish, he passed me two or three times without recognizing me. Also the room emptied, and it looked as if there was to be no more dancing. All that, however, came right, he came up at last rather dubiously, and looking doubtfully at M. all the time, said the Lancers were beginning in another room, hooked me, and off we went ! —oh, bliss ! M. following with Ed. Neville. We got them for vis-à-vis, and were only late for one figure. He talked of the House of Commons, asked if I ever went there, said he often did. I told him how I heard Ld. Lyndhurst, and we danced the 2nd figure. In the third, he began the visiting, when it ought to be the curtsey one, and we'd hardly got that right, when there was a general rush to the window, to see a very flat little firework. So as I remarked to him, " La destinée ne veut pas " that we should ever dance a thing through. For it all broke up, and he hooked me again, and we marched, half over the house, looking in vain for Atie. Pussy, which gave occasion for another beautiful bit of French from me : " Mais, Monseigneur, je crains bien que je ne gene votre Altesse Royale." " Pas du tout " of course was the answer. Then I said, a propos of his asking me, " C'est pour moi un grand honneur," to which he answered something about " pour moi un grand plaisir." At last M. and Edward, who were following us, proposed that I should stay with them, for I was quite hot at keeping him ; " Mais je voudrais vous ramener Mme Gladstone." " Monseigneur, je crains de gener votre Altesse." " Pas du tout. Mais on resterez vous done 2 " " Ma soeur est ici, Monseigneur." " Ah ! c'est bien donc." A beautiful bow, a deep curtsey, and that most exciting and delightful trans¬action was well over. We stayed till about 10 1/2 looking into the beautiful solemn chapel, full of very old sober-coloured and stained glass, so profoundly quiet after the crowds outside, but almost too near the room where they were valsing, so that the music followed one to the threshold. We crammed 13 into a break, with Ly. Schomberg Kerr and Ly. Constance Grosvenor, the others invisible in the dark, and had great fun bumping down the long steep hill, feeling very near upsetting now and then. At the station, to my very great delight, my bracelet turned up again, found by a poor man, to whom I gave 6s. on the spot. We waited in the train an hour before it set off, with the nice Wilbrahams who were with us, then everyone went to sleep, except me, who only succeeded in getting muzzy and uncomfortable, and we arrived at home at 2 on Sunday morning, feeling wicked. Eat some cold mutton at that dead hour, and went to bed, everyone hideously tired except me. Wretched Willy, who was to have gone to Eton from Tring, missed the train and had to go early this morning.

No comments: