Thursday, June 22, 2006

29Jun1859, Our First Queen's Ball

LONDON, June 29th, 1859.
—What with the manifold delights of this eventful day, I'm sorry to confess that, till this moment, the fact of its being St. Peter's feast and dear old Albert's birthday has never entered my head. To begin with, we went to luncheon with the Grahams (daughters of Sir James), which was extremely pleasant, as we are getting to like them both very much. And they sang to us till I could have cried with delight. The lovely little one has the most glorious voice, and " The Land of the Leal " and " The Last Rose of Summer," especially the latter, so went to my heart that the vision of them keeps coming back upon me with an indescribable thrill. There ! I hope I'm not high-flown : but great enjoyment ought to do one good, and so far it does indeed make me thank God for giving us such pleasures. " Thou hast anointed my head with oil, and my cup runneth over." It is indeed goodness and mercy following us all the days of our life that gives us these happy hours.

After they had sung till they were tired, nice kind things that they are, and after much conversation, Atie. P. picked us up, and we went again to Wimbledon, which was lovely : the smell of hay all round, and the pleasant fresh day perfect. Oh, how cd I forget : I dined as a face with A. P. and Wortleys at Ly. Waldegrave's, where I saw and was introduced to the " King of France," God bless him ! The crowning-point of these many breaks was our first Queen's ball, Meriel's very first ; I, as before detailed at great length, have been to children's balls at the Palace. What a beautiful sight it is ! the glittering uniforms, the regal rooms, and the Royal presence. We made our curtseys rather ill I'm afraid, such a slippery floor, and difficult to take the Queen's hand from her eminence of two steps. However, we did better than most, for at all events we went low down, and the rest of the world made nothing but nasty little bows and inclinations ; so horridly disrespectful. Pr. of Wales was there just come back from abroad, decidedly grown, tanned, and more manly looking, with all the Royal courtesy and grace of manner. Pr. Alice quite pretty, so very much improved in looks. The brother and sister valsed together with marvellous grace and dignity, considering that neither is tall. They went round only once or twice, slowly, so unlike the fierce fluttering whirls in a tight embrace that one sees elsewhere. It was happiness to see the Queen dancing the quadrilles with her colossal uniformed partners, majesty and grace in every movement of her little form, and the Pr. of Wales standing near her, and giving his hand to her in the Grand Rond with beautiful respect. And all to the sound of such music !

Of course we never dreamt of dancing, nor had we one chance, but this didn't in the least take from my pleasure. The only thing that did was that all the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't make Atie Pussy sit down again (what lovely poetry !) after a little bit of rest in one of the outer rooms, till about 1/4 1. The consequence was that M. and she looked at death's door, and even my back began to ache. However, after a peep at the gorgeous supper-room with its sideboard of plate reaching to the ceiling, we did get her into one of the tiers of seats under the orchestra, where we sat in bliss for about 25 minutes, when shooting a splendid place to the right of the throne, we moved there, and lucky it was we did ! Five minutes afterwards, the Queen rose, and stepped down. With one rush everyone stood up, while the old glorious music of " God save the Queen " struck up. The officers of state went before her, but facing her as they cleared the way. As she bowed to right and left all curtseyed low, and so, to the majestic time of the music, she went out in all her state. Oh ! I thought my heart would crack with excitement ! And so it was over. What a happy day ! I was determined to give a full, graphic, and particular account of it, and I think I have done my duty.

28Jun1859, The King of France

LONDON, June 28th, 1859.
—We went to the most beautiful ball conceivable at Ly. Egerton of Tatton's, a horrid woman ; but such a room, such lighting, and such delightful space. I had ever so many chances of dancing, but only did 3 times, what with the valses, galops, and being jilted twice. I saw and was delighted with the Comte de Paris : " King of France." Such courtesy and nobleness : tall and handsome. Home, walking ! ! from St. James' Square at 3 1/4.

26Jun1859, A Boring Sermon

LONDON, June 26th, 1859.
—We went to St. Martin's, where we sweltered in inconceivable bore through a 52-minutes' sermon, for the most part inaudible, and of the remainder not a sentence worth hearing. People began dropping out of the church in considerable numbers, and in some invisible locality most astonishing wheezing, groaning, and cracking went on at intervals, like several large clocks running down. These two causes united provoked almost irresistible giggle, as the reverend person went mildly on, undeterred by either. The singing was brisk and decidedly good, and the Minuet in " Samson " played after service.

I went with Atie. P. etc., to Chapel Royal, where Maria Marchioness of Ailesbury dropped her parasol all the way from the imposing eminence of the Peeresses' Gallery.

24Jun1859, Those Old Times

LONDON, June 24th, 1859.
—M. [her sister Meriel] was taken by Cousin Jane to the C. Palace, where she heard " Israel in Egypt." And I have lost the Handel Festival, and shall never live to hear another, if it's true that it's to be centenary. This is very dismal to think. " Du reste," M. was rather disappointed, from not knowing the music well : what struck her most was " God save the Queen," when the enormous audience all cheered, thinking the Queen was there, which she was not, as it is said, because she does not like Handel ! ! ! As far as we can see, fair hopes at Oxford : the Bp. thereof much cut up at the defection of his very intimate friend, the Warden of All Souls', with others. Oh dear, the quantity one has to write ! In the afternoon I drove with Auntie Pussy : we went over Downing St., but she probably won't move there this year ; it looked very familiar to us. We took Winny to a little child's concern at Ly. De Mauley's, and in the park and streets shot several people we knew : Susy Clinton, Ly. Egerton of Tatton, dear pretty little Miss Graham, of happy Escrick memory, Ld. Bristol's daughters, etc. Also went to see after Cousin Ebbet, and she not being up to seeing us, we stayed in the nursery, making ourselves fools over the darling little blue-eyed infant : the comfortable nurse, the atmosphere of flannel, the cozy fire, and the baby's little crowings, bringing to my mind many memories of Mamma, so pale and lovely, with one of our own sweet babies ; and the happy quietness of those old times.

21Jun1859, Swallow Dizzy

LONDON, June 21st, 1859.
—Now I have a little breathing-time to spare from accounts of our perpetual dissipations, to tell of much more interesting things. U. William has taken office under Ld. Palmerston, and is Ch. of the Exchequer, thereby raising an uproar in the midst of which we are simmering, view* his well-known antipathy to the Premier. What seems clear is that he considers it right to swallow personal feelings for the sake of the country ; besides he agrees at present with Lord P.'s foreign policy, also he joins several Peelites. There is this question, however : why, if he can swallow Palmn., couldn't he swallow Dizzy, and in spite of him go in under Lord Derby ? I don't pretend to be able to answer this, but one can enough understand things to be much excited and interested, above all by the contest he will have to undergo for his Oxford University seat, his opponent being Lord Chandos. It is likely to be a near thing. If he isn't returned, good-bye ! I went alone with A. P. to a little ball at Ly. G. Balfour's : where of the 4 dances that took place while I was present, I danced one, and was asked for three : 2 being valses, [FN: She was not allowed to valse] and the 3rd we were going. Very pleasant.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

20Jun1859, Pretty Enough

LONDON, June 20th, 1859.
—Nearly 1/4 4 and daylight. 8 mortal hours and a half have we been at Mme de Persigny's ball, and sorrow a bit have I danced. Till 2 o'clock no chance of it ; then Ld. Sudley engaged me for a quadrille, which he performed with another lady. His next attempt was futile, as the era for quadrilles was over, and the cotillon preparing. One or two other hopes were dashed for this latter reason, and only came to mock me, for what is a cotillon to me ! M. danced once. It was a brilliant ball, for them as danced, and pleasant enough to look at for a while, there being hardly any but beauties present, on principle, for Count Persigny asked U. W. [FN: Uncle William] if we were pretty enough before inviting us. What that relative's answer was will for ever be unknown. Before this eventless ball, we dined pleasantly with the Spencers ; only I am troubled with a frightful access of deafness with regard to Ly. Spencer's voice, which is indistinct to me, and I answer nonsense to the questions that come from her beautiful mouth, and could beat myself.

19Jun1859, It Felt Wicked

LONDON, June 19th, 1859.
—We dined at Spencer House with Granny. At. C., U. Spencer and wife, Miss Seymour and her brother : a family gathering, view U. Spencer's birthday, but it felt wicked, and was a bore, to dress up and go smartish out to dinner on Sunday.

18Jun1859, An Attenuated Baboon

LONDON, June 18th, 1859.
—Breathless, thundery sort of day. A profoundly quiet morning. We went to a little breakfast at Ld. J. Manners', with children. This may be briefly described as Dull. His little boy [FN: The present Duke of Rutland] of 7 is a fine, spirited fellow, exceedingly tall, and in a violent state of excitement. The D. of Rutland was there, looking most depressed. It is said he has never got over not being allowed to marry his first cousin, now Lady Newport. Lord B . . . was present, strikingly like an attenuated baboon. M. dined with Granny and Co., I with Papa at Ld. Camden's, where, having expected surpassing dulness, I was agreeably surprised, being between E. Neville and extremely agreeable Ld. Overstone. Moreover, I was determined to extract some conversation from the proverbially silent Ladies Pratt, and succeeded, tho' far from the point of discovering any brilliance of conversation. Still they brightened up, and said more than yes and no. Home by 11, for Sunday.

16Jun1859, Worth Coming to London

LONDON, June 16th, 1859.
—Then Mrs. Talbot took us to George St., where we dined, and came back for that momentous event, our first concert, which was what glorious music always is, the greater delight because it began unpropitiously ; but each thing overtopped the other, till we reached a climax, with Ly. Agneta Yorke and Ly. Hardwicke, who sung together with a power and pathos beyond description, their whole soul in their angelic voices ! And there was Miss Connor with her glorious ringing, clear, and flexible voice. Moreover, I was introduced to young Ly. Spencer, radiant in her winning loveliness : talked to the nice Yorkes, to Althorp, and many other folk. Tallee was there, with At. Yaddy. It would be worth coming to London if only for this sort of thing.

15Jun1859, A Torrent of People

LONDON, June 15th, 1859.
—Very lovely day. A torrent of people came to luncheon : Sir J. Lacaita, Mrs. and E. Talbot, C. Jane Wortley, Annie and Mary Gladstone, the latter of whom is strikingly handsome. Afterwards I went with Atie Pussy, Aggy, and the children to a breakfast ( ! ! ! ? ?) at that beautiful place, Wimbledon, where there was little to do, and less to say, but we amused ourselves looking at people, and guzzling as it seemed all the afternoon. Poor Lord Seymour looked very dismal, Ly. Blanche Lascelles, whom his parents wouldn't let him marry, being engaged to Ld. Boyle. We daundered over Ly. Hermione Graham's lovely little children : Margaret-Frances, Violet-Hermione, Helen, Sybil, Hilda-Georgina, and Richard-James. We picked up all these flowery names from the little creatures themselves. The eldest isn't six yet, the babies being twins. Atie P. had many political talks with different great guns. I was a good deal with Tallee and the Miss Seymours, to whom I was introduced. We played at At. Sally with the Speaker (Mr. Dennison) and Lord Stratford de Redcliffe. I have a conviction I took Mr. G. Dundas for Mr. Rolle. Cousin Jane gave us beautiful parasols and sashes, and dear Mrs. Talbot such muslin gowns.

13Jun1859, A Concert

LONDON, June l3th, 1859.
—Ugh ! how nasty London looks ! Directly we were home, at 1/4 2 about, we had to turn our minds to a concert at Ld. Ward's, to which we were to go at 3 1/2 having " nothing to wear." However Atie Pussy had bought us bonnets from Brighton, where she has been since Saturday, and by astonishing luck they fitted ; so after altering the green in them, as our gowns were blue, and digging out white scarfs, we went.

12Jun1859, Second Communion

FALCONHURST, June 12th, 1859.
—My 2nd Communion in this church — how different from the first ! And yet — as I trust I could realize a little — alike in the highest ways — the Communion of Saints, through all chances and changes — in all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth : the same unalterable reality. I knelt in the same place, and the last time so filled my memory, that it was almost impossible to feel what a change had come over everything. And oh dear ! the sight of Mr. Hunt, the smell of the church, the sound of the singing : nothing is altered, except our own selves. Mr. Hunt's sermons were just what they used to be : the texts, " Have I any strength, that I shd hope ? " and " Quench not the spirit," are enough, I hope, to keep the sermons in my head.