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Ellen Power surpassed all the belles of those parties in the symmetry of her slight form, and the quiet, simple beauty of her calm marble-like features, which had all the repose and perfection of outline of a finely-sculptured bust of a Grecian divinity.
Yet her sister Margaret, then far less beautiful, had the art of drawing attention, from all surrounding competitors for admiration.
The difference in the manners of the two fair sisters is described as being remarkable, by persons who have a lively recollection of them at the period referred to. Margaret always manifested that desire to please, which gave a piquant character of agreeable coquetry to her agrémens of conversation and deportment in after-life, and which reminds one of a distinction she drew in one of those aphorisms which she was in the habit of setting down in the “ Night Thought” books, between coquetry and a laudable desire to please :
“The desire to please half accomplishes its object, and is in itself praiseworthy, when self-gratification is not the aim or end of it. Yet has it often been mistaken for coquetry, from which it totally differs. The first extends to our own sex as much as the other, while the second is addressed peculiarly to the male. The woman who desires to please, spreads a charm over the circle in which she moves: the coquette merely gratifies the vanity of men, by evincing her wish to attract them.”
And elsewhere, in one of the same MS. books :
“A desire to shine proceeds from vanity, but a desire to please proceeds from bienviellance. Without the latter disposition, no woman was ever loved, or man was ever popular.”
Ellen Power manifested neither the desire to shine, nor an anxious solicitude to please. She seemed conscious of being entitled to admiration, and in receiving it sometimes seemed as if it would have cost her no great effort to spurn it.
All persons who remember the daughters of Edmond Power from 1804 to 1807, concur in an observation, that it was surprising to see girls so little indebted to the advantages of education, rank, and fashion, in society, in their manners, carriage, and attire, appear on a par with ladies of the highest rank—“there was a natural gentility and refinement about them, which had no air of affectation whatsoever in it.”
Miss Ellen Power had no lack of admirers, however, and of offers of marriage, some of which had been declined by her, or by her family, about the period of her sister's separating from her husband.
Among the admirers of Miss Ellen Power, was the Lieutenant-Colonel of the Tyrone Militia, Colonel William Stewart, of Killymoon, near Cookstown, in the county of Tyrone, who had made her acquaintance between 1806 and 1807. The Colonel was a large landed proprietor, an intimate friend of the young Lord Mountjoy, whose Tyrone property was adjacent to the Killymoon estates.* But the Colonel was not a marrying man. He lived and died in single blessedness.
When Mrs. Farmer was residing at Fethard, after her separation from her husband, and a residence of some months at her father's in Clonmel, Miss Ellen Power visited her sister, and remained with her at Fethard, but for how long a period I am unable to state.
When Mrs. Farmer went to reside in England, she was also invited there by her sister; and while sojourning with her, about the year 1813, first made the acquaintance of John Home Purves, Esq., a Scotch gentleman of good family, and at one period an expectant of the baronetcy, at the death of his father, during the absence of an elder brother, who had been long absent from his native land. That acquaintance led to the union of the second daughter of Edmond Power, of Clonmel, with the son of the Scotch Baronet.
* The same fate was reserved for the large properties of Colonel Stewart as for those of the Earl of Blessington. The estates of both have passed into the hands of strangers. The Colonel died in 1850. Killymoon and its noble mansion were sold in the Incumbered Estates Court, for upwards of £100,000.
Mr. John Home Purves was the son of Sir Alexander Purves, who succeeded to the baronetcy in 1761. Sir Alexander married four times; by his first marriage he had issue, one son and three daughters. By his second marriage he had issue, four sons and four daughters. By his third mar. riage he had issue, two sons and one daughter. By his fourth marriage he had issue, an only son.
Sir Alexander Purves died in 1813, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir William, born in 1767 (the step-brother of John Home Purves, Esq.). Sir William, who had assumed the additional surname of Campbell, died in 1833, leaving an only child, the present baronet, Sir Hugh Hume Campbell.
Persons who have a remembrance of Mr. John Home Purves, when on a visit at Mountjoy Forest, in the county of Tyrono, in 1816, speak of this gentleman as “ Major Purves," and several have an impression in their minds, that he held that rank in the Scots Greys, which I believe to be erroneous.
Circumstances led to Mr. Purves separating himself from his country and his family, in the year 1823. He obtained the office of British Consul at Pensacola, and there he died, from the effects of the climate, in 1827.
In the “Gentleman's Magazine,” for that year, part ü. p. 573, we find the following notice of his death:
“At Pensacola, on the 20th of Sept. 1827, aged forty-two, John Home Purves, Esq., for the last four years British Con
* A Lieutenant John Purves (Adjutant) of the Royal Waggon Train, appears in the Army Lists from 1804 to 1809, when he appears to have been promoted, and continued in the rank of Captain in that corps till 1812.
sul at that place. He was the eldest son of Sir Alexander Purves, the fifth and late baronet of Purves Hall, in Berwickshire, by his second wife, Mary, daughter of Sir James Home, of Blackadder, and was consequently half-brother to Sir William, the present Baronet of the Purves family, who assumed the names of Hume Campbell, on the death of the late Earl of Marchmont."
Mrs. Purves, who had remained in England, was left with five children.
1. Louisa, married to J. Fairlie, Esq., died in April, 1843, aged about thirty-three.
2. Mary, died unmarried at Cheveley.
In the latter part of 1828, Mrs. Purves married the Speaker of the House of Commons. The “Annual Register" for that year thus records the marriage: “The 6th of December, 1828, at St. George's church, Hanover Square, Mrs. Home Purves, widow of the late John Purves, Esq., to the Right Honourable Charles Manners Sutton, Speaker of the House of Commons."
Moore, in his “Diary,” speaks of Mrs. Manners Sutton, and the Speaker's residence at Westminster:~"Amused to see her, in all her state, the same hearty, lively, Irishwoman still. Walked with her in the garden, the moonlight on the river, the boats gliding along it, the towers of Lambeth on the opposite bank, the lights of Westminster bridge gleaming on the left, and then, when one turned round to the house, that beautiful Gothic structure, illuminated from within, and at that moment containing within it the council of the nation, all was most picturesque and striking. The same ruin that at a later period came on the fortunes
* Moore's Memoirs, vol. vi. 32.
of the proprietors of Gore House, was destined for those of the mistress of the establishment, with all its state, at Westminster, which Moore refers to.
Lord Canterbury held the office of Speaker for eighteen years.
When he retired in 1835, on his retiring pension of £4000 a year, his circumstances were involved in difficulties of an extensive nature, and a very large portion of them were not created by him.
The loss of the Speakership was poorly compensated by the pension and the peerage in 1835. Lord Canterbury's difficulties in a short time became overwhelming. The latter years of Lady Canterbury's life were disquieted and seriously troubled by those embarrassments, and the very straitened circumstances which were the result of the loss of the Speaker's office and its large emoluments. But, to the honour of this lady, be it stated, no effort was left untried by her to adapt her mode of life to the altered circumstances of her husband, and with the utmost cheerfulness she gave up all those luxuries to which she had been accustomed ; nay, even comforts that people in middle life deem almost necessary in their families. She laid down her carriage, parted with ornaments of value, and objects precious in themselves, or from the recollection of those from whom they had been received, and lived only to cheer the drooping spirits, and to watch over the impaired health of her amiable and kind-hearted husband.
Lady Canterbury survived her husband only four months ; after a brief residence on the Continent, she had returned to England, quite broken down in health and spirits. Her sister, Lady Blessington, by whom she was tenderly loved, was frequently with her in her last illness, and at the moment of her death. An attached servant of Lady Blessington, a person of respectability, excellent character, and superior intelligence, who had lived with her Ladyship fifteen years, Mrs. Cooper, was also in attendance on Lady Canterbury in her last illness.