Friday, February 17, 2006

26Feb1857, The House of Commons

LONDON, February 26th, 1857.
—Meriel went to the debating in the House of Lords, I to that in the House of Commons with Miss S., on the China question. It was very interesting : we heard Labouchere, flatissimus especially coming as he did after Cobden, of whose speech we did not hear the beginning, but what we did was most interesting and excellent. He made the motion. We also heard Sir Bulwer Lytton, but lost his speech, which we hear was excellent, for he spoke so loud that we heard nothing but ringing echoes. There were one or two others ; then in the beginning of Lord John Russell we were sent for. So horrid ; we ought to have heard him out. It was one of the most delightful things to go to that I have ever been at ! I was enraged by the abominable grating we had to sit behind.

07Feb1857, A New Baby

LONDON, February 7th, 1857.
—When I was called this morning, Amelia whispered to me that the Baby might be expected soon, that Locock had been in the house during the night (having returned), and Fergusson. She frightened me dreadfully when she bent over me ; oh, such a turn ! In fact one's anxiety was great after the words had been said. I wrote out a short prayer for the little ones, and made them say it with their morning prayers. Little they knew of it all ! Then I got up myself and when half-dressed, Miss Smith came into the room. I said : " Oh dear, so it's coming to an upshot at last ? " She said yes, but went out directly. I said my prayers and had just ended them, feeling much comforted by them, when Auntie Pussy came eagerly into the room : " The Baby's born ! " I was stricken with astonishment, I never expected it was to happen at once : if to-day at all, did not think till much later, fancying Amelia's words only meant the illness had just begun, or was likely to begin. " Oh, Auntie Pussy !—boy or girl ? " " Oh, boy—never mind what it is." " Oh, how is she ? " " So quiet and well." Oh, the relief ! This dialogue was just outside my room door, and took about four seconds. We both dashed away, Auntie P. stole into the room, and I rushed to the stairs. I had to pass the little room destined for the baby, the door was ajar, and there I saw the broad back of Loftus the nurse, and a tiny red head, covered with brown down. A thrill shot through me. On the landing were Miss Smith and Meriel. A demand for ice, for water was heard ; Miss S. and M. shot noiselessly downstairs, and appeared with the requisite articles. I seized hold of the pail of ice, and put it down by Baby's door. Locock came out : we sat down on the window-seat and presently heard a tiny little wailing cry. I crept in to look at the Baby, and saw a small pink scrap, with quantities of brown hair, and large eyes. Oh, the precious ! I forgot to say that after Auntie P. had told me, I met Miss S. who asked eagerly, " Boy or girl ? " When I told her, she said something about Papa, and we had a sort of race downstairs. I reached his room, told him. He made a curious pucker with his mouth, opened his eyes wide, and said, " A boy ! Why, I was never told ! " and stamped upstairs with a terrible noise. I followed him ; on the top he said to Miss S. and me with a delighted chuckle, " Another boy ! What in the world shall we do with another boy ! " and went into the room. Well, we sat on the stairs for some time, and baby was taken in to see Mamma. I went on tiptoe to the room-door, which was ajar, peeped through the crack, and saw a bit of Mamma, heard her dear weak voice saying, " Oh, what a darling ! " —and fondling him. There was Locock and Loftus there, the former in a state of rapture over the baby, whom Papa took in his arms to the light, I suppose to see the colour of his eyes, which is always his mania. When at last we went downstairs (it was now about 9 o'clock) we found Auntie P. and Mrs. Talbot in Papa's room, and had a quiet cry together, with a gushing overpowering sense of thankfulness and relief that made the tears grateful. By and bye, Uncle William came to the house door. I let him in, and he and Auntie P. had a confabulation in a low voice. He had heard : how I don't quite know, for Locock had declared that no one must be told till more time had passed. He seemed hardly to imagine that she could be so well, with good reason as we heard afterwards. We went to the schoolroom (I had told the little ones, who were first utterly incredulous and then over the moon : had known nothing about it) ; and there Auntie P., Mrs. Talbot, Miss S., M., and the children knelt while I read, with such an egg in my throat ! some earnest thanksgivings which were the greatest comforts to us. Oh dear. ! I think it was now that Auntie P. and the others told Meriel and me how much more awful the danger which was over had been than we knew.

15Jan1857, Longfellow's New Poem

HAGLEY, January 15th, 1857.
—In the evening the great Monro (staying at the Rectory) lectured in the school on Longfellow, chiefly his new poem " Hiawatha." It was about twice too long but delighted me much, from the surpassing beauty of his quotations, occasional grand poetry of his language, and the way he appre­ciates, and has made others appreciate, " Hiawatha," which is throughout curious and interesting and very beautiful in parts.

07Jan1857, A Last Grand Re­hearsal

HAGLEY, January 7th, 1857.
—Behold ! the excitement becomes dangerous and boundless. A last grand re­hearsal, and I feel secure of my part. An immense amount of work is got through, and the dresses, which arrived last night, tried on and applauded. At last we go and get ready, soon after tea. The whole thing is to be in the gallery, behind the pillars, between which hangs the splendid dark red curtain, which draws not vulgarly aside, but right up. . . . I first went to the nurseries, where I saw the eight small fairies attired, winged and star-crowned ; Mary Gladstone, the eldest, being the Queen, distinguished by a larger coronet and a star-tipped wand. They looked most aery in their short standing-out transparent skirtlets and spangled wings.

04Jan1857, Whirlpool of Excitement

HAGLEY, January 4th, 5th, 1857.
—Oh, the whirlpool of excitement we are fizzing in. The PLAY is to come off on the 7th. The actors are to be (I put them in ages) :
William Henry Gladstone, aged 16.
Lucy Caroline Lyttelton, aged 15.
Agnes Gladstone, aged 14.
Charles George Lyttelton, aged 14.
Stephen Edward Gladstone, aged 12.
Albert Victor Lyttelton, aged 12.
Neville Gerald Lyttelton, aged 11.
Mary Gladstone, aged 11.
George William Spencer Lyttelton, aged 9.
Helen Gladstone, aged 9.
Lavinia Lyttelton, aged 8.
Mary Catherine Lyttelton, aged 6.
Arthur Temple Lyttelton, aged 5.
Henry Neville Gladstone, aged 5.
Robert Henry Lyttelton, aged 5.
Herbert John Gladstone, aged 3.
All these are getting up their parts in different ways ; rehearsals are ceaseless, lessons droop, disorder prevails.

02Jan1857, Echoing With Children

HAGLEY, January 2nd, 3rd, 1857.
—Willy and Stephy turned up. The dear old house is choked, overflowing, echoing with children. The meals are the fun. Break­fasts are composed of two tables, a loaf and a half or two loaves, a plate of bread and butter, three or four good-sized pats of butter, two teapots, a dish of meat, a dish of bacon, and a toast-rack full. They are attended by Miss Smith presiding at the top of one of the tables, dispensing drinkables, me at the bottom, dispensing meat, bacon, and butter, and cutting hunches of bread like a machine ; at the top of the other table, Meriel presiding. Round the two tables are little Mademoiselle, Albert, Nevy, Spencer, Winny, May, Agnes, Stephy, Mary and Lena. The four little girls are at Meriel's table, the rest at ours. The noise pervading the room, as much from scolders as scolded, from bellowers as bellowed at, from children, boys, women, girls, may be imagined, mingled with clatter of crockery, pouring of tea, hewing of bread, and scrumping of jaws.

01Jan1857, Eighteen Children

HAGLEY, January 1st, 1857.
—The whole tribe of Gladstones poured into the house to-day, and we make up the goodly number of eighteen children under 17. Willy and Stephy, at least, did not come to-day.

22Dec1856, We worked like Trojans

HAGLEY, December 22nd, 1856
—At it in earnest ! The evergreens are dragged head and shoulders into the billiard-room, and we began business by measuring off the lengths of cord, by pack-thread measurements taken yesterday in the church, with Mr. Johnstone, he, the invaluable ! We worked like Trojans and pro­gressed rapidly.

17Dec1856, Plans for the Church

HAGLEY, December 17th, 18th, 19th, 1856.
—The most glorious plans for the church arrived. The church will be entirely re-seated, and lengthened considerably. The galleries pulled down and the whole new-roofed. All the windows new, except the old S.E. and the Turner one, the vestry and organ-room to adjoin the chancel, which is to be perfectly restored, with encaustic pave­ment, stained glass, seven steps, sedilia, and straight altar-rail. The obnoxious monuments to be stowed away in less glaring places. A bell-turret, as at present of course neither tower or steeple are feasible.

25Sep, 1856, A Nice Drive

HAGLEY, September 25th, 1856.
—A game of croquet in the morning, a nice drive into Clent in the afternoon to give some pudding to the boy Cowper : found him and his eyes nearly well.

20Sep1856, New Game: Croquet

HAGLEY, September 20th, 1856.
—When we were back we had some games of croquet, a nice Irish game introduced here by Miss Smith. I only won once. In the evening I came up to dine at the Rectory, and Uncle B. read aloud. A very nice day altogether.

15Sep1856, Mr. Milnes

HAGLEY, September 15th, 1856.
—On the night of the 15th Mr. Milnes read aloud some beautiful poetry of his own. He is such an odd, nice, rough, ugly, good (apparently) man.

01Sep1856, Start of Book 3

September 1st, 1856.
—Well ! I wonder how many things will be in this book when I finish it, if I ever do so. I wonder what length of time will elapse ere I end it. I wonder whether when I end it I shall be able honestly to say that I have mounted Higher, come Nearer. Excelsior ! My own motto. I like beginning this book on the first day of my birthday month, though no particular event characterized it, beyond a cricket match, which, after a long contest, we lost.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

25Jul1856, George Becomes Spencer

HAGLEY, July 25th, 1856.
—Oh, such a break ! Behold, Uncle Fritz makes a present to George, in honour of his Godsonship, of an estate in New Zealand !!!!!!! So my small fourth brother, aged nine, is the Honble. George William Spencer Lyttelton, landed Proprietor ! It is really most delightful, and a whole son taken off Papa's hands, and so nice his son to have land there. It will be of real value when he is old enough to go out, increases in the same every year.

20Jul1856, Mr. Arnold Again

HAGLEY, July 20th, 1856.
—Mr. Arnold did not kneel in church, because he had no hassock ; rather horrid for a strong man. Moreover, he recommended Mamma to go to a dissenting chapel to hear some wonderful " preacher " ; I don't like Mr. Arnold, but I do like the old Baron.

19Jul1856, Matthew Arnold

HAGLEY, July 19th, 1856.
—Baron Alderson, the judge, his son-and-marshal, and Mr. (Matthew) Arnold, the son of the great Arnold, came. The baron, very amusing, his son very like a small yellow rabbit. I don't like Mr. Arnold :

I do not like you, Dr. Fell ;
The reason why, I cannot tell ;
But this I do know, very well,
I do not like you, Dr. Fell.

Those are very much my feelings. But I can tell partly : he seems light and vain, and does not talk sense.

05Jun1856, Our New Governess

HAGLEY, June 5th, 1856.
—On the 5th came our new governess, a nice real comfortable English one, ladylike and pleasant-looking, she has begun us so well : our week divided into Monday and Thursday for Italian, Tuesday and Friday for French, Wednesday and Saturday for English, with a half-holiday on the latter day. Our studies are learning of Goldoni's plays, Italian conversation, verb, translation and reading of " Metastasio," writing translation of " Le notti Romane," hour's music a day, small hand copy, reading and writing abstract of Arnold's " Rome," translation of Bossuet's " Histoire Universelle " to English and back again, translation of " Pigeon Pie " (Miss Yonge), drawing, repetition of Racine's poetry, and Campan's " Fr. Conversations," reading of Lamar tine's " Gironde," Fr. dictation, writing of English composition, arithmetic, repetition of Cornwall's geography, Longfellow's poetry, Mangnall's Fr. dates, reading of Reed's " English History," and poetry, definition of words, and mental arithmetic. We ought to get on, I think.

29May1856, Her Majesty's Birthday

LONDON, May 29th, 1856.
—Her Majesty's birthday, God bless her with many more happy and prosperous years on the throne of this realm ! The day, moreover, of the illuminations in honour of the Peace, the which we went to see in the following manner. We set off at about 8 o'clock, fondly hoping to reach Spencer House by nine, when " festivities were to commence." All the day large crowds had been spreading over the town, which seemed gradually to thicken and condense, and some time before, and all during and after dinner, one continuous unbroken stream poured past our windows, till it almost made one dizzy to look at them. We had the most knowing little illumination, large night-lamps hung on wire in this shape. Well, we set off, and got on famously for about a hundred yards, when took place the first stoppage. From that time we went on at the most wonderful pace, standing still for twenty minutes or more together, and when one did move, at the slowest possible crawl. For before, behind, on either side, sometimes creeping under the horses' necks, as far as one could see through the lit-up darkness, was an unbroken black mass of swaying heads, flowing on incessantly, and all round a hoarse murmur, intermingled with laughter, little shouts, and a few raised voices. But the whole crowd was in the highest state of good humour and docility, nearly every face had a delighted smile on it, children, some such tinies, were held up to look at the blaze of illuminations, jokes passed between the occupants of the thronged vans, omnibuses, carts, carriages, waggons, etc., and the foot-passengers, and oh ! most amusing of all, were the things addressed to our carriage, a subject of much interest, Papa being in his uniform, cocked hat, etc. " Whose your hatter ? " " How many cocks did you shoot in the Crimea ? " (allusion to the feather). " Ooray for the Duke of Wellington ! " (a little cheer raised). " Lord Ebrington ! " " Lord Balmerino ! " " Lord Lovat ! " " Colonel Windham ! " " You're a beauty ! " " Room for another there ? " " Here's a lot of pretty faces ! " " Take your time, Miss Lucy !" " Now then ! " " Whose your tailor ? " etc., etc., etc. When we got to Trafalgar Square there was a delighted sort of rushing cheer, several rockets from the Parks sprung over the tops of the houses, scattering their bright stars. It was at this juncture that we did get a little despairing as to ever reaching our destination ; the fireworks had certainly begun, and we had been nearly an hour coming the bit of a way from George Street to Trafalgar Square. We had once asked a policeman if we could get on better. His answer was : " You will not get there these two hours." But, just here, Mrs. Talbot applied to a superintendent, on a white horse, who went before us, cleared a way directly, and to our amazement we drove off briskly, round a way which proved much less crowded, where of course we met with some stopping but in course of time arrived safely at Spencer House, whither we went to get a good view. We were in very tidy time, and were ushered on to the terrace, among a lot of old generals and officers. It was very beautiful but rather same ; however I enjoyed it immensely. Some of the rockets were most lovely, scattering bright showers of gold or silver that looked like beautiful sheaves of corn. Then after these and others had gone on for a couple of hours, I suppose, there was suddenly an enormous explosion, a huge, dazzling blaze spread high upwards, so that, looking down, we saw a vast sea of upturned faces, packed thicker than I can describe, lit up in a weird-like, glowing lustre ; it was too dark to see the bodies they belonged to ; bright fantastical patterns were cut in fire in the midst of the blaze, rockets hissed, whizzed, exploded, cracked, popped, rushed, boomed, the blaze increased, " God save the Queen " was traced in letters of living flame in the midst, a rushing excited sound of cheering rose from the gazing millions, an immense quantity of dazzling rockets shot upwards—and it was over. I never saw anything more striking than that last display. Then we went in, and had some supper, saw dear Tallee (Her cousin, Lady Sarah Spencer.) and little Harry Lyttelton, much gone off in beauty, and set off again home, which transit was accomplished like the former one, quite if not more difficult. I only heard one thing the least like even a bad word, that was only " Confound you," from a man who had to rush under our horses' necks. It was delightfully amusing, and so the people seemed to think. We reached home at past one. There never had been a more tractable and orderly crowd, only once did I see anything like a dangerous squash, and there were hardly any accidents. The people had all dispersed by next morning. I was so delighted all the time.

Monday, February 13, 2006

23May1856, The Winter's Tale

LONDON, May 23rd, 1856.
—We went with Papa and Ed. Talbot to the Princess's, to see " The Winter's Tale " ; I never imagined, much less saw, anything so beautiful and perfect as the scenery : the palace in the first scene with its splendid dresses, incense vases, lovely women and children, statues, etc., was lovely, also a splendid interlude bringing in the moon and then a glorious sunrise. Apollo in his chariot. Then the judgment scene was fine and the statue scene perfectly wonderful. But the acting—there were Mr. and Mrs. Kean, but it all seems to me so very vulgar, accent, gesture and all. Nevertheless we were enchanted, and a Pyrrhic dance was exceedingly beautiful.

14May1856, Fanny Kemble

LONDON, May 14th, 1856.
-0h, on the 14th, we all went to Fanny Kemble's reading of " King Lear " : it fully has answered my highest expectation, has grown on me since. The most wonderful variation and power of expression, every single character with a different voice and look, the most astonishing change in the voices of each man, a different look of malice and wickedness, a different toned voice to the two atrocious sisters : oh, one positively hated her, as one saw her put on one of those demoniac faces, and the beauty of the change to Cordelia's quiet placidness, and touching sorrow, or to the broken-down, majestic, agonized old king. The worst was she missed so very much of Edgar, and a great deal of the scene on the heath, and all the scene with Gloucester on the top of the cliff, and more besides. But she could not have done all, I suppose ; two madnesses would have been all but impossible.

26Apr1856, After the Ball

LONDON, April 26th, 1856.
—We stayed in bed till I don't know what o'clock. I was not a bit tired, but oh, last night, how my feet did ache ! M. acknowledges that when she saw us set off, she and Edward agreed that they would have liked to go. She is such an odd old creature, this is the last chance she could have had, for next year she will be too old.

25Apr1856, A Royal Ball

LONDON, April 25th, 1856.
—The Day of the Queen's Ball ! ! The second I have had, and both described in the same journal-book. This time the ball was at 9, instead of 1/2 past 8. Auntie Pussy (Mrs. Gladstone), Aggy, Lena, and Willy and Stephy who both came from Eton in the morning, dressed at Carlton Terrace, I was sent to George Street, to dress with Mamma and Winnie. Aggie, I, Lavinia, and Lena were all alike, in tarlatane frocks, trimmed the three skirts with white ruches, twined round with some pretty pink trimmings. Wreaths of pink roses, the little ones smaller than ours. White kid gloves, white satin shoes, and white silk stockings completed our attire. We set off in three different equipages ; Mamma, Win and I were in Mrs. Talbot's chariot : we went from George Street to Carlton Terrace, where we got out for a minute to show ourselves, and there standing in the hall, amongst the rest, was Aunt Coque. We had a hasty embrace, Win and I made a low curtsey to the admiring servants, and then rushed back into the carriage, for it was rather late. The others had just gone. My bathingfeel fast increased as we drove up the Park, through the gates, into the court, and under the arch of Buckingham Palace. We got out, and were ushered up the well-remembered grand staircase, on either side of which were masses of flowers, and through a door which led into an ante-room ; when lo from a side door issued a " gallant train." First Her dear little gracious Majesty, my own Queen. Down went our curtseys, and we had her smile and bow all to ourselves. After the Queen came the Princes and Princesses. Down went our curtseys. Then came the fat Royal Duchesses. Down went our curtseys. Then the rest of the company. We fell in with them, and moved on to the Throne Room. How well I remembered it ! We were late, or else we should have gone into the long Gallery like last year. We soon found Auntie Pussy and hers, and had a good look at the Royalties. There was my own darling Prince Arthur, grown much, and there was precious little Prince Leopold, whom I have never seen before, a lovely little fat darling, with the same large blue eyes and curly head as his Highness's little brother. Princess Alice, in honour of whose birthday the ball took place, is very plain, poor child, and was further spoilt by her hair which had been forced into stiff curls. Princess Royal looked very nice indeed, quite pretty in fact ; she is now quite out, and consequently only danced with grown-ups, the Duke of Cambridge principally. The two little Princesses looked beautiful and dear as usual, in their Highland dresses, in which they look so very well always. Little Prince Arthur was also in Scotch dress, all except the plaid. There were the fat duchesses like last time. Now a thing was done that I don't remember was done last time : everyone filed before the Queen, made a curtsey, and received her gracious welcome. So we set off, I think, the first of all, and when about half-way, I discovered that Mamma had stayed behind. In woful distress I looked all about amid the crowd, to see if I could catch a glimpse of her, but I couldn't, so I thought I must move on with Auntie Pussy, etc., as we were already half-way. So we came up to the Queen : there was her gracious smile, and down went my curtsey (a beautiful one). Auntie P. said " Lucy Lyttelton," for the Queen looked at me, and said, " This is not one of yours." Her Majesty shook hands with me ! and then turning to Auntie Pussy : " And your sister, where is she ? " So Auntie Pussy looked round, and said something about her soon coming and we had to go forward, for there were more people coming up. It was very vexatious, and Auntie Pussy was very vexed, for of course I should have come up with my own Mamma. However I daresay the Queen was not angry, for when Mamma did come up with Winny, she smiled at her, and said, " Is that another of your little ones ? " Well, the dancing began, and I danced very nearly every one thing. There was a reel, which I couldn't dance, but the Prince of Wales danced just opposite to where I was standing ; so I saw his beautiful dancing famously. I danced once with Willy, with the son of the Belgian Minister, with one of the Farquharsons, and I forget the rest. Aggy again danced with Prince Alfred, and talked to Princess Alice, oh, happy girl ! There was supper like last time, and I had wine and seltzer water, and ices, which were delicious. Little Prince Leopold retired after the first quadrille, led by a grand lady. The ball was over at about half-past 12, when the Queen came down from the dais, and made a lovely curtsey to everyone. I managed to get with Winny near the side door at which she went out, and got a dear bow and smile to ourselves. Then came the National Anthem. Then we managed to find our belongings and went home. Oh, how delightful it was !

24Apr1856, A Day in London

LONDON, April 24th, 1856.
—A pleasant day. Such a busy one ! Breakfast, prayers, Sunday reading, preparation for Mme Greco, music-lesson with Madelle, reading, dancing from 12 to 4 past 2, dinner, Italian, Hume, drive, tea and cards all the evening.

21Apr1856, Rotton Row

LONDON, April 21st, 1856.
—In the afternoon I had the first ride I have ever had in London on our old friend Niger that we used to ride at Hawarden : he is rather rough and will do nothing but trot, but spirited and good. I went to Rotten Row, and all about there, and home by Piccadilly and Pall Mall.

17Mar1856, Debarred From Church

ST. LEONARD'S, March 17th, 1856.
—Poor me was debarred from church both times, as I was in bed with this sore-throat epidemic. I do so pity myself, feeling quite well, and a whole Sunday without any church ! Last Sunday in Lent too ! Oh !

26Feb1856, Macaulay's Essay

ST. LEONARD'S, February 26th, 1856.
—At 6 Johnnie read to Mamma, Mrs. Talbot, M. and I some of Macaulay's Essay on Hallam, very interesting and well written, and fearfully enraging from its horrid roundhead views.

22Dec1855, An Enchanting House

ST. LEONARD'S, December 22nd, 1855.
—We have an enchanting house, into which we are packed delightfully tight, as follows. Little front room on the ground floor, choked up with table, sofa, and arm-chair, hardly room to turn : schoolroom (for the studies of M., Georgy,(Her fourth brother, after wards always known as Spencer) Winny, and me, with Mademoiselle's more than portly person presiding). Opening from this (but the door between is blocked up), Mademoiselle's room, bigger than the first, but somewhat gloomy, looking into the high cliff. These two open into the hall about a man's stride wide, on the other side of which are, opposite the school-room, and very little bigger, the dining-room ; next to it Papa's study and dressing-room in one, not too big either. Up rather a narrow and steepish staircase, you arrive at the second floor. Here are the two drawing-rooms, of moderate size, front and back, opening into each other, folding doors. The back room is to be used by Johnnie for his reading. Next to the front rooms is a splendid apartment, probably destined for a sort of boudoir, small of course, but devoted to Meriel, Winny, and me, for bedroom. Win on a sofa against the wall, and M. and I in a bed together. The worst of this room is, that there is nothing wherein, and little whereon, to put anything. Next to this, Mrs. Talbot's room. On the third floor are Baby's and Newmany's slip of a bedroom, next to that a small apartment containing Amelia's bed, and answering the purpose of sitting, washing, and day's noise nursery. Next to it is Papa's and Mamma's room (who by the bye came on the 20th following us), and next to them a bedroom for two maids. On the top floor is a room where some three or four maids sleep, a sleeping-nursery, containing Harriet and Bobby in one bed, May and Arthur in another, a little hole of a room ; Mr. Hook's sleeping-apartment, " sans " fireplace, and Johnnie's bed-chamber. The tight fit is great fun. So are the beds, which are perfectly unparalleled for hardness.

Image from "Victorian Girls - Lord Lyttleton's Daughters", Sheila Fletcher, Hambledon and London, 1997, p. 40-41.