Sunday, February 14, 2010

22Jun1870, Story of a Tragic Romance

LONDON, June 22nd, 1870.
—I was up with the lark, to join Papa at Cavendish Square, and go off with him from Paddington by a special 8.45 train for Commemoration at Oxford. Wonderfully like poor dear old maid days ! The heat tremendous even so early, and although the sun was not full blaze all day, Mr. C. Clifford came with us, and is so good as hospitably (and surreptitiously) to lodge F. and me in his bachelor rooms at All Souls', by dint of sleeping on a sort of shakedown himself. Papa and I joined the girls and Mrs. T. at the Cradocks', then to the theatre. The new Chancellor, Lord Salisbury, did his part beautifully well ; looked dignified, spoke with a fine clear utterance, and is said to have paid the most graceful and varied compliments to the successive D.C.L.s in Latin. Papa was received very well, considering he is Cambridge ; the Speaker (odd to say) came next him in the procession and they sat together and made friends, after the long estrangement. [FN: There had been question of a marriage between the Speaker's nephew and May Lyttelton, and the Speaker had refused to allow it. Edward Denison, the nephew, died soon after the engagement was broken off.] He met Mrs. Talbot later in the day and asked to speak to May ; to whom he just said, "I wished to shake your hand." It deeply touched and pleased the poor child. By the strangest coincidence it is the very day year of her engagement —when she and E. Denison had that one short sight of each other as betrothed lovers ; then came the hurried meeting in the afternoon when dear Granny was with them—and then the happy sunshine was all eclipsed, and they never saw each other again. The poor Speaker ! one can never feel anything but grief and pity for him now. The cheers for Canon Liddon were splendid ; he was overpowered. Mr. Lowe's name produced uproar and "non placets," and a shout of laughter when the Chancellor called him "frugalissimus." Lord Salisbury's 2 little boys held up his train, arrayed as pages in black velvet. A big luncheon in All Souls' ; afterwards Mr. Clifford took May and me into Wadham gardens. Later we all sat in S. John's, and finally F. arrived and Mr. C. took us both a most enchanting row on the river, not getting back to a recherché tête-à-trois dinner in his rooms till near 9. The intense heat all day was almost more than I like ! but on the river it was the height of luxury to contrast our condition with that of poor dining-out Londoners.

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