Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

5 erthygl ar y dudalen hon

- ."THE BOOK WINDOW.

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"THE BOOK WINDOW. THE DIVERTING LETTERS OF AN ENGLISH I LADY OF QUALITY. T ONE book begets another, and why not, v if both books be good, anyhow interest- E ing? A year before the war, Sir Herbert Maxwell, one of the old county gentle- I men who were also good scholars, pub- lished a Life of Lord Clarendon. Its I contents included some bright letters by j a friend of his, a- lady of quality of the nineteenth century, Miss Emily Eden. r Those letters whetted a desire for more I from the same informed, observant pen, and so we get, through the Macmillans, • -illilss Eden's Letters, edited by her great- niece, Miss Violet Dickinson. Miss Eden was a keen politician of the Whig order, clever, amusing, critical, an excellent friend and a devoted sister to her brother, the second Baron Auckland, whom she accompanied to India when he was Viceroy there. Born three years be- t fore the eighteenth century closed, she f lived a full life, knowing most people worth knowing, and dying in 1869. So did her brilliant woman friend, Pamela Campbell, to whom she wrote many of her letters, 4iiid from whom she received many just as brilliant. Naturally; for this lady was the daughter of Lord Ed- ward FitzGerald, and romance and talent were part of her inheritance. | A Fair Rebel. £ It would not have been unnatural I either, if there had not "been something t of the rebel in her. Anyhow, this is i .what she wrote to Miss Eden when | George III. died iHusli, hush, Emmv, the King is dead and we have entered a new reign. Yes, yes, and George IV. has been proclaimed and I have wondered what he'll, do with his wife, and Henry VII. would not let his Queen be crowned for two years, and Hume says so, and all the newspapers are very black, and the Times blacker than any, and there is an end of the topics and we know it all. Again, in 1821, when Queen Caroline passed from her royal but unhappy state on earth, we have Lady Campbell dat- ing, from London, a letter in which she says: It is quite impossible to give an idea of the hurry and scurry of the people in every direction, and as if the rain only increased their ardour. Women with drooping blacic bonnets and draggled thin cotton gowns, I and the men looking wet and radical to | the skin. I catch myself twaddling and moralising to myself, just as I went on -about poor Buonaparte. They say fools are the only people who wonder, and I belfeve there is something in it, for I go on won- dering till I feel quite imbecile. Old England. The charm and value of such letters is that they give us a living picture of 4ife as it was in England at the time, not history, which is apt to dwell on the big things only, but a chronicle, which re- cords, the always essential little things. Here is .an amusing story, .related by Miss Eden, from a house near Doncaster in the far yea.r 1824, about a christening in which an amiable lady named Maria Copley figured She and her sister stood Godmothers to two little twins in the village and carried them to church. The children were only a fortnight old and, therefore, were much wrapped up, and Miss-Copley, who • is not used to handling children, carried hers with the feet considerably higher than the head. She gave it carefully to the clergyman when he was to christen it, and together they undid its cloak in search of its face, and found two little red feet. They were -so surprised at this that the clergy- man looked up in her face and said, Why, then, where is its head? And she, being just as much frightened, answered, I really cannot think." Maria at last sug- < gested that in all probability the head would he at the opposite end of the bundle [" from the feet, and so it proved! I When she was still only seventeen Miss t Eden was a keen observer of the passing show, which, indeed, she could hardly mis- because it was all about her, thanks to her good fortune of birth. The following note to her sister, a Countess of Buckinghamshire, illustrates that: We have been very much surprised by a letter from Miss Milbanke to Mary, in- forming her she was engaged to marry Lord Byron, a person of whose character she had had the best opportunity of judg- ing and who as he merits her greatest esteem, possesses her strongest attach-1 ment." That last sentence certainly sounds very well, but, that she, does not seem to be acting with her usual good sense is Mama's opinion, as by 0,11 accounts Lord Byron is not likely to make any woman very happy. j Poets and Others. Other poets and men of letter's were of the circles to which Miss Eden belonged, in particular Tom Moore, as read i Moore has been here the last three days, singing like a little angel. He has some ■■k new songs that make one perfectly and comfortably miserable, particularly one, set to a very simple air and with a constant return of the words They are gone," etc. He sang that song onoe too often, at all events for his own pleasure, although the place was no less lordly than Bowood, the seat of the Lansdownes He was singing it here on Friday, and there was a huge party' of neighbours, amongst others a very vulgar bride who is partly a Portuguese, but chiefly a thoroughly vulgar English woman, calls Lord Lansdowne Marquis" when she speaks to him and turns to Lord Lans- downe all of a sudden with, « Law, how 'andsome you look." Just as Moore had finished this and we were most of us in tears, she put her great, fat hand on his arm and said, And pray, Mr. Moore, can you sing (CJlerry Pipe '? George and I, who were sitting the other side of him, burst out laughing, and so Moore was obliged to make a good story out of it afterwards; else, he owns, he was so angry he meant to have sunk it altogether. Meant to have sunk it! There are quaint contemporary ways of saying- things in Miss' Eden's letters, things which we have forgotten but which we are glad to recover again in print. Some of those quaint ex- pressions help to make a personal portrait of Macaulay, whom Miss Eden knew well and liked -rather well. His famous Parliamentary defeat at Edin- burgh finds a fitting record I think Edinburgh, which affects all sorts of classical and pedantic tastes and enthu- siasms, turning off one of the finest orators and cleverest men of the age for a trades- man in the High-street (both men having the same politics), must feel slightly foolish now it is over. They say the prejudice against Macaulay was entirely personal; lie never would listen to a word any of his constituents had to say, which is hard, considering his demands,.on other people's ears. Returned Unopposed! That was in 1847, and five years later Macaulay was returned unopposed for Edinburgh. Good it is to have fresh lights on those notables of the nine- teenth century who were before most of us now living. Not less good is it to have Miss Eden's pictures of the "trivial round, the common task" when she was young, middle-iaged and old. Take a snatch about a Sunday in Kent: We had on Sunday morning the finest sermon I ever heard from Mr. Benson—so fine that we went in the dark and in the rain to hear another. He began by preach- ing at the Opposition, which gave me a fit, c I the sullens; then he went on to smugglers. then to brandy merchants; and, lastly, laid the sins of the whole set and all the other misfortunes of the country upon ladies who wore fancy dresses and en- couraged smuggling by example and money. You will like Miss Eden's Letters if you like this review of it, because the review just samples the book. ELIOT BUCKRAM. Other Books to Read. 1. Patron and Place-Hunter, a study of George Bubb Dodington, Lord Melcombe, by Lloyd Sanders. (John Lane. 16s. net.) A Personal Record, by Joseph Conrad. A re-issue, with new material, of his Some Reminiscences. (Dent. 6s. net.) Round the World In Any Number of Days, by Maurice Baring. (Chatto and Windus. 6s. net.) II. Seven Men, by Max Beerbohm. (Heine- mann. 7s. net.) Alrg. Marden, by Robert Hichens. (Cassell. 7s. net.) Mountain Paths, by Maurice Maeter- linck. (Methuen. 6s. net.)

"ROUNDS FROM A PULPIT." •—❖—

NEW NOYELS, ■'»

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