Wednesday, May 03, 2006

11Jun1859, Presented at Court

LONDON, June 11th, 1859.
—A very memorable day, with a strange, abrupt contrast between the morning and evening. We were presented at 2 o'clock ; and after all the frightful bathing-feel and awestruck anticipation, behold ! it was a moment of great happiness to me. The look of interest and kindliness in the dear little Queen's face, her bend forward, and the way she gave her hand to me to be kissed, filled me with pleasure that I can't describe, and that I wasn't prepared for. She said to Auntie Pussy : " You have brought yr nieces to me," with great feeling : oh, so touching of her ! for no doubt she was thinking of our having no Mamma to bring us. And to Aunt Coque: "I am so glad to see them: tell your Mother how nice they looked." I feel as if I could do anything for her !

10Jun1859, Rehearsal of Handel Festival

LONDON, June 10th, 1859.
—We went with Papa and the Talbots to the British Institution, where were beautiful Gainsboroughs, etc. We wrote and directed more than 200 cards for a concert. And in the evening I had a great delight, in the rehearsal by 1,600 voices of part of the Handel Festival, at Exeter Hall. I could apply to it nothing but the words of Revelation : " The voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings," the basses especially ; the absence of all instruments except organ, and now and then drums, only showing how infinitely above them is a great unity of human voice. Oh, if I could but give an idea of it ! One of the things was the Dettingen Te Deum, and it was almost appalling to hear : " We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge," shouted with that tremendous harmony by so many : of each of whom it is true. " We praise Thee, 0 God ! " and this was praise fit for the Lord of Sabaoth ! " All the earth doth worship Thee " —and indeed one cd fancy the whole world joining in that triumphant worship. And the end, so grand in its trust : " Let me never be confounded." It might be Heaven —only it is over, and that is for ever and ever.

09Jun1859, Interesting Man-Talk

LONDON, June 9th, 1859.
—Bishop of Brechin, Sir J. Lacaita, Messrs. Parker, Russell, and Monckton Milnes, Sir J. Coleridge, Ld. Alfred Hervey, and Miss Williams Wynne came to breakfast, and I heard much interesting man-talk.

07Jun1859, The Opening of Parliament

LONDON, June 7th, 1859.
—It's of little use my writing small : I must take up space when there's so much to talk about. In the morning, what did I do but go to the Opening of Parliament ! ! ! The beauty of the tiers of bright colours and sparkling ornaments first struck me, as we went in, and Papa, delighted to get rid of me, hoisted me into a capital place next Ly. Gertrude Talbot, where we waited for about 3 qrs of an hour, amusing ourselves greatly with finding out the few beauties among the fat and wizzy peeresses opposite. Those we did see were Ly. Lothian, Ly. Raglan, Ly. Mary Craven, and the Duchess of Manchester. The peers kept dropping in in their red robes, looking for the most part rather quizzical, but the rich colour nice to see in dingy England. Papa looked vey comical.

I saw Ld. Spencer and Ld. Lothian, who has got a sort of creeping palsy ; so very sad, and his poor pretty young wife ! At last from the midst of gentlemen-in-waiting and other attendants, I became aware of the little Queen standing on the step of the throne, a diamond coronet on her head, in her robes of state, the crown held on one side of her, and the mighty sword of justice on the other ; while all stood up, and there was deep silence. It was a stately sight. The Queen sat down, everyone also sat down. What next ?, I thought, as several minutes passed in the same grave silence, and the Queen looked at us, and we looked at the Queen. I soon found out what was being waited for. There was a scurry and rush outside the doors, which were dashed open, and in poured the Commons, jostling and talking like nothing on earth but a pack of schoolboys or herd of bullocks. It was a curious contrast to the red-robed peers, sitting in solemn order, and the Queen in all her majesty. When as many as cd squeeze in had jammed themselves against the rails, and after some hushing had begun to hold their tongues, the Queen, slightly raising her voice, said, " My Lords, be seated." (This, however, they were already.) Then she read her speech, with a low, clear, and most harmonious utterance, and so distinct that I heard perfectly. There was nothing interesting in it : " in spite of her earnest endeavours, the peace of Europe had been broken, we were to keep neutral, and at the same time the fleet was to be done something to, etc., etc." —things that are talked of every day. Then she gave her paper to a maukin near her, we all stood up again, and she went away : there were no cheers in the House, but plenty outside I hear, and I have actually seen Parliament opened ! There was a little musical practice in the morning. Meriel and I dined with Ats. C. & K. at the Percys', immediately on returning from which at 11 1/4 we found a note directing us to go to House of Commons, which we did to my great delight, and heard the greater part of an interesting speech of Ld. Palmerston's against Govt. The debate was adjourned, so we were home by 1/4 1. An eventful day.

06Jun1859, A Pleasant Home Ball

LONDON, June 6th, 1859.
—A little past two, after the pleasantest home ball, that's to say dance, for it was carefully distinguished from a ball by its smallness, absence of champagne, and substitution of modest p.f. and harp for band. Moreover, it came after a child's ball, where the little things toddled about so prettily, and which was honoured with the presence of the young Prince de Conde, a gentle, grave, and most courteous boy of fourteen, with whom I danced twice, " Altesse Royale " and all. His mother, the Duchesse d'Aumale, was there too, and was introduced to us. I danced everything but one, valses of course excepted, but I can only remember 5 partners. I think I must have danced more than that. R. Yorke, Mr. Majendie (of happy Oxford memory), Mr. Burgess, Mr. Le Fevre, and Lord Sudeley ; they were all more or less pleasant ; Ld. S. knew Charles at Eton. All day we were up to the neck in the work of titivating the rooms, which indeed looked lovely. Warm and thundery. There has been a battle of Magenta, the Austrians completely defeated, and Paris illuminated.

05Jun1859, A Thundery, Languid Day

LONDON, June 5th, 1859.
—My energy is certainly great. I walked to Trin. Ch. Vauxhall in the morning with Papa, on the top of yesterday's perpetual tramp, and the night before's dissipation. Ain't a bit tired. A thundery, languid day. In the evening to a special service at the Abbey, where the singing was beautiful from the fine voices, but slow and unambitious and the trebles drowned. Striking but not altogether perfect sermon by Mr. Milman. We dined with Granny, and met the dear Rectors. The Abbey is gloriously cool and lofty ; there is nothing like it : crowded.

04Jun1859, A Day at Eton

ETON, June 4th, 1859.
—Our first 4th of June at Eton ; we must have brought ill luck, for it poured heavily, after great morning heat, and a grumble or two of thunder, from 7 to 9, just the time when the boats were afloat. We saw them start, with their bright uniforms, very successfully, but shortly after had to take shelter in a little room, where we resignedly sat, with Mr. Wynne and his sisters, Reg. Yorke and Mr. Cocks, relation of the Antony one. We talked pleasantly, and the time didn't hang heavy. But the unhappy boats' crews had to walk home from Surley. There is horrid drunkenness in the boats now, the Captain (Wynne) says his greatest difficulty is to keep them sober. I'm so glad our boys are dry-bobs, in spite of the delightful look of the arrowy boats and brilliant dresses, only I trust cricket will look up under Charles's captaincy, and not be everlastingly beaten by Harrow. We had luncheon with the Provost, and I was taken in by Mr. Walpole (Ed: No doubt Spencer Walpole, afterwards Home Secretary.), —such an honour! —who was most agreeable.

03Jun1859, Lady Derby's Ball

LONDON, June 3rd, 1859.
—1/4 4 a.m. ! and this is written, ill or well, by the light of dawn : mad and dissipated I feel. We have been to Ly. Derby's ball, which, truth to tell, was very dull : hot crowds of chaperons and old gentlemen, and the dancing a fierce struggle with all-surrounding petticoat, and I only danced once, at about 2, with Johnny, who turned up when I had quite given up. This was pleasant, for the room was thinned, and we had the space of a hearthrug. Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were there, and Princess Mary (ed: Afterwards Duchess of Teck and mother of Queen Mary), who, in spite of her imposing size, danced and valsed beautifully.

31May1859, Christy's Minstrels

LONDON, May 31st, 1859.
—We went with Papa, Aunt Kitty, and Johnny to a very low diversion, Christy's Minstrels, full of excessively broad vulgar fun, with one or two pretty things.

30May1859, The Exhibition

LONDON, May 30th, 1859.
—In the morning we went to the Exhibition, where there are not many beautiful pictures, and a host of glaring absurd Pre-Raphaelites, with every face bright pink, and every sky of lilac, tin leaves and grass like coarse stuffs, and a lunatic attempt to render every atom as it is, instead of as it looks. The result is like the sign of an inn ; a laboured and vulgar finish, with a dazzle of ill-assorted colours. Pah ! the refreshment of turning to Stanfield's fresh and living landscapes with soft blending light, and wet water.

29May1859, A Gabbled Litany

LONDON, May 29th, 1859.
—Papa and I walked after luncheon, in spite of rain, to St. M. Mag., Munster Sqre., where we had nothing but the Litany for the second time, gabbled so bewilderingly that, without my book, it might have been the Alphabet for aught I heard. Disgracefully irreverent and distressing. And I hate missing Evening Service. Dined quietly at Granny's. Tho' our services weren't perfect, the Psalms and everything that no hitch can alter were so beautiful and helping to remember in London whirl. I hope I shall keep such things in mind.

28May1859, Opera at Covent Garden

LONDON, May 28th, 1859.
—About 1. We've been to the Opera ! Gazza Ladra at Covent Garden, Lord Ward's box. There being no ballet, Papa let us go. I believe I was slightly disappointed, but it was because I don't know the music well enough, and I must always know it well to be properly worthy.

26May1859, The Old Race of French Kings

LONDON, May 26th, 1859.
—'Tis 1 a.m. after a most delightful party here, of which I must at once tell the great event. I was introduced to the Duc d'Aumale, the descendant of the old race of French kings. Low was my curtsey, most gracious was his bow, and oh ! he spoke to me, and I said, " Oui, monsieur ! " I thrilled. We also saw the nice Escrick Grahams, Warrens, Wilbrahams, and all the usual people, and I was introduced to Lord Clarendon, Lady Manchester, crazy Lord Crewe, Ly. Constance Grosvenor, Duchess of Sutherland, etc., etc. There were there besides Lord Palmerston, Dean Trench, who is going to send us tickets for Handel at the Abbey next month — Bliss ! - many ambassadors and Indians, Ld. J. Manners, etc., etc.