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satin, with embossed borders of gold-colour, and the sofas, bergeres, fauteuils, and chairs, were richly carved and gilt, and covered with satin, to correspond with the curtains. Gilt consoles, and chiffonieres, on which marble tops were placed wherever they could be disposed ; large mirrors, gorgeous buhl cabinets, costly pendules of bronze, magnificent candelabras, abounded in the long suite of salons, boudoirs, and sitting-rooms. The furniture of the bed-room was kept a secret by Lord Blessington till quite completed, in order to give a surprise to her Ladyship—when its surpassing splendour was to burst upon her all at once-at the first view of this apartment. “The only complaint I ever have to make of his taste," observes her Ladyship, “is its too great splendour........... We feel like children with a new plaything in our beautiful house; but how, after it, shall we ever be able to reconcile ourselves to the comparatively dingy rooms in St. James's Square? which no furniture or decoration could render anything like the Hotel Ney.”*
At length, “the scheme laid by Lord Blessington” to surprise his Lady~" for he delighted in such plans”—was revealed, on the doors of the chambre a coucher and dressing. room being thrown open. “ The whole fitting up,” says Lady Blessington,“ is in exquisite taste; and, as usual, when my most gallant of all gallant husbands, that it ever fell to the happy lot of woman to possess, interferes, no expense
has been spared. The bed, which is silvered instead of gilt, rests on the backs of two large silver swans, so exquisitely sculptured that every feather is in alto-relievo, and looks as fleecy as those of the living bird. The recess in which it is placed is lined with white-fluted silk, bordered with blue embossed lace; and from the columns that support the frieze of the recess, pale blue silk curtains, lined with white, are hung, which, when drawn, conceal the recess altogether.'
* The Idler in France, vol. i. p. 117.
In one of her letters she enlarges on this subject.
“A silvered sofa has been made, to fit the side of the room opposite the fire-place, near to which stands a most inviting bergere. An escritoire occupies one panel, a bookstand the other, and a rich coffer for jewels forms a pendant to a similar one for lace or India shawls. A carpet of uncut pile, of a pale blue, a silver lamp, and a Psyche glass; the ornaments, silvered, to correspond with the decorations of the chamber, complete the furniture. The hangings of the dressing-room are of blue silk, covered with lace, and trimmed with rich frills of the same material, as are also the dressing stands and chaire longue, and the carpet and lamp are similar to those of the bed. A toilette-table stands before the win. dow, and small jardinieres are placed in front of each panel of looking-glass, but so low, as not to impede a full view of the person dressing, in this beautiful little sanctuary. The salle de bain is draped with white muslin, trimmed with lace; and the sofa and the bergere are covered with the same. The bath is of marble, inserted in the floor, with which its surface is levél. On the ceiling over is a painting of Flora, scattering flowers with one hand, while from the other is suspended an alabaster lamp, in the form of a lotus.”
Poor Lady Blessington, summing up the wonderful effects of the various embellishments and decorations, the sensations produced by such luxuriant furniture, coffers for jewels and India shawls, gorgeous hangings, and glittering ornaments of every kind, observes : “The effect of the whole is chastely beautiful
, and a queen could desire nothing better for her own private apartments.”
The gilt frame-work of the bed, resting on the backs of the large silver swans, it does not do to think of, when visiting the Mountjoy Forest Estate, in Tyrone, that did belong to the late Earl of Blessington, when one enters the cabin of one of the now indigent peasantry, from the sweat of whose brow the means were derived, that were squandered in luxury in foreign lands, luxury on a par with any oriental voluptuousness of which we read, in the adornment of palaces.
Lord Blessington, when fitting up the Hotel Ney in this sumptuous manner, was co-operating very largely indeed with others of his order-equally improvident and profuse-in laying the foundation of the Encumbered Estates' Court Jurisdiction, in Ireland.
We are reminded, by the preceding account of the fitting up of the Hotel Ney for the Blessingtons, of the Imperial pomp of one of the palaces of Napoleon, a short time only before his downfall. At Fontainbleau, soon after the abdication of the Emperor, Haydon visited the palace, and thus describes the magnificence which was exhibited in the decoration and furniture of that recent sojourn of imperial great
“ The château I found superb, beyond any palace near Paris. It was furnished with fine taste. Napoleon's bed hung with the richest Lyons green velvet, with painted roses, golden fringe a foot deep; a footstool of white satin, with golden stars ; the top of the bed gilt, with casque and ostrich plumes, and a golden eagle in the centre grappling laurel. Inside the bed was a magnificent mirror, and the room and ceiling were one mass of golden splendour. The panels of the sides were decorated in chiaroscuro with the heads of the greatest men.
“No palace of any Sultan of Bagdad or monarch of India ever exceeded the voluptuous magnificence of these apartments.”
Shortly after the arrival of the Blessingtons in Paris, a letter was received from Lord Rosslyn, urging the attendance of Lord Blessington in his place in parliament, and his support of the Emancipation Act.
Lord Blessington, on receipt of Lord Rosslyn's letter, im
LORD BLESSINGTON SUPPORTS THE EMANCIPATION ACT. 137
mediately proceeded from Paris to London, expressly to give his vote in favour of the great measure of Emancipation.
“ His going to England,” observes Lady Blessington, “ at this moment, when he is far from well, is no little sacrifice of personal comfort; but never did he consider self when a duty was to be performed. I wish the question was carried, and he safely back again. What would our political friends say, if they knew how strongly I urged him not to go, but to send his proxy to Lord Rosslyn ?"*
While Lord Blessington remained in London, I had the pleasure of seeing him on several occasions. A day or two before his departure from London, I breakfasted with him at his residence at St. James's Square.
I never saw him to more advantage, or more deeply interested on any public matter, than he seemed to be in the measure he had come over to support, and which he deemed of the highest importance to the true interests of Ireland.
Whatever the defects may have been in his character, in one respect he was certainly faultless; he had a sincere love for his country, and for his countrymen.
The following statement of his opinions on the means of bettering the condition of the country, was made to me at Naples, four years previously to the period above-mentioned, in a postscript to a letter dated the 15th of August, 1824, accompanying one of introduction to Lord Strangford, the British Minister at Constantinople. However impracticable some of his proposed remedial measures may have been, the honesty of purpose in which they originated was beyond all doubt.
“I wish you would, at Constantinople or Smyrna, turn your thoughts to the subject of Ireland; but it is a difficult task to encounter, as you say, for an Irishman indignant at many acts of former oppression and injustice. Upon the subject of Repeal of the Union, I fear it would be worse than a negative measure. We are impoverished in money
* The Idler in France, vol. ii. p. 6.
and talent. England has a superabundancy of the one, and a sufficiency of the other, if she will apply her materials to our good. Send the Parliament back to Dublin, and that city will, perhaps, flourish again ; but I fear the same effect could not be produced through the kingdom; and if, to forward the views which I think absolutely necessary for Ireland, the Commons imposed heavy taxes, being refused aid from Eng. land, the people would have cause for dissatisfaction ; and an Irishman's mode of expressing it, is, blows, and not words. Let the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland separate itself in toto from the Pope, and receive from the British Parliament a respectable revenue. Establish a better mode of educating the priesthood, take away the tithes, and pay the reformed church out of the public purse. Admit Catholics to the houses of parliament, and the bench, at the same time establishing throughout Ireland an extensive gendarmerie, not for political, but policial purposes. Make the nobility and gentry live on their estates, or sell them. Give a grant sufficient to cut canals in all directions. Establish colonies of industrious citizens in what are now barren districts. Let there be neither ribbonmen, freemasons, or orangemen. Let the offenders against the public peace, of whatever party, be sent to the colonies. Let the middling classes be taught that public money is levied for the public good, and not for individua) advantage-and then Ireland will be what it should be from its situation, and with its natural advantages—a gem in the ocean."
His Lordship had returned from London only a few days, when one forenoon, feeling himself slightly indisposed, he took some spoonfuls of eau de Melisse in water, and rode out, accompanied by his servant, in the heat of the day, along the Champs Elysées.
He had not proceeded far, when he was suddenly attacked by apoplexy, was carried home in a state of insensibility, and all remedial means were resorted to in vain.