Sunday, February 27, 2011

28Jun1880, Gladstone Rests at a Villa

LONDON, June 28th–July 4th, 1880.
—Poor Government labouring hard thro' obstruction English and Irish, and bespattered with death's-head-and-bloody-bones accusations; House sitting till 2, 3, and 4 and making no progress. The incoherent Irish as often as not obstruct their own measures, and fortunately quarrel among themselves. Saturday the 3rd the House sat till Sunday morning, but Uncle W. got off in the evening, and drove down with Auntie P. to a villa Ld. Aberdeen has taken for the summer — Littleburys, Mill Hill, beyond Barnet. F. and I joined them there, driving down deliciously to church on Sunday morning; and found Uncle W. casting care to the wind in the excitement of finding it was a villa built by Charles II for Nell Gwynne! A most elegant little white-and-gold drawing-room has Charles and Nell's medallions in plaster-work set round the cornice; and there is a quaint little succession of grassy terraces, one below the other, ending in a gazebo summer-house, also most prettily decorated with medallions, 2 different ladies occurring here! In the drawing-room a portrait of the contemporary Duke of Richmond as a child (odd taste, as I don't think he was Nell Gwynne's son); and an inaccurate copy of our dear old Neptune and Cybele by Rubens at Hagley, which Papa sold for £500, to my grief. Nep. and Cyb. were rather horrid, but Cupids playing on the beach, among shells at the bottom, and a sea-god trumpeting through a conch-shell, were delightful. Church twice, with Uncle W.; Auntie P. and F. "drew the line"; but Uncle W. was as fresh as paint, picked strawberries, went a good quick walk with us to a Roman college, and enjoyed himself hugely.

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