Monday, August 21, 2006

1860, Book V is Lost

Introduction to Book VI

THE fifth volume of the diary, which covered the rest of 1859 and nearly all 1860, was lost almost as soon as it was written. The first entry in Book VI refers to its loss, and the letter to the Cab Office mentioned in the first extract was an enquiry about it. It was never recovered. Its great event must have been the marriage of Meriel, Lucy's eldest and very intimate sister, the " old thing " of the diary, to John Gilbert Talbot, afterwards for many years Member for Oxford University.

Since this was in type, I [John Bailey, editor] have been lent a little volume written in 1862 in place of the lost fifth book of the Diary. Of course it only relates a few doings which stood out enough to be remembered after two years. There is a visit to Althorp, where she says of the new and beautiful Lady Spencer—" Spencer's Fairy Queen," as she used to be called—" I am falling head over ears in love with Charlotte. Mr. Leslie is painting her : but does he hope to do justice to her lovely expression, her dancing ingenuous eyes and indescribable winsomeness, etc ? Sanguine ! " She met Lord Derby, the Prime Minister, at Witley (Lord Dudley's) and describes him as " beyond anything agreeable " ; adding that he " flirts with me in a way that does me honour." At Witley, too, we hear that she walked ten miles to church and back " through mud, up hill, with an immensely heavy poplin gown to hold up." She finds Cliveden " full of dignified and courteous grandees " who fill her with " portentous shyness ": " the old Duke " (of Sutherland) " still very grand looking but as deaf as a post." And there is a Royal Ball at which she danced with Lord Cowper, who is described as " a grand partner."

But of course the chief event mentioned is her sister Meriel's engagement, which took place on an expedition to the Crystal Palace, on May 26th, 1860; and her marriage, which followed on July 19th at Westminster Abbey. There is nothing to quote in her account of it, unless it be this : " I don't think darling old Meriel and I slept very calmly on this our last night together, after all these happy years of sisterhood."

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