Friday, March 04, 2011

30Jul1881, The Spanish Prince Imperial

RICKMANSWORTH, July 30th, 1881.—We came to Rickmansworth Park, the Birch's. Met the Spanish Ambassador, and certain Palmers; she in a nursing Sister's dress. It seems she is the head of the new Cancer Hospital, where a peculiar non-cutting system is adopted. How this goes with married life I know not ! but they seem very comfortable together. Mr. Birch the funniest specimen of all-round and unmitigated self-complacency I ever came across: impossible not to chaff him wickedly. Most hospitable.

—Sunday, July 3st. Poured hard all the morning, but to my delight a little bus and one took us to a nice church at Chorley Wood, where an old Cornish curate preacht excellently. Pottered endlessly most of the afternoon, being audience to the Birch grounds, Birch trees, Birch cows, Birch dog, Birch glories of all sorts. The trees are magnificent. The Spanish Ambassador (who gave occasion for a little airing of Birch Spanish) a quaint person, amusing from his vehement gesticulation of hands, arms, shoulders, and above all eyes. He talked interestingly of the poor Prince Imperial: I felt more sympathetic over his longing to fight under the English flag than I ever did before: the Ambassador said he was a very high-minded and noble fellow, terribly hampered by his foolish mother's attempts to keep him a baby, and wishing for something more manly than being petted thro' a London season. Of course there was also the desire to distinguish himself before the world. The Empress seems to tread hard on Bonapartist toes by constant slaps at parvenus and showing her ring about ancient blood, to which the Ambassador says he was always inclined to retort, "It was, however, a parvenu that made you an Empress!"

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