Obrazy na stronie

whom the possession of high faculties has awakened the desire of fame, are like Erminia in her warlike accoutrements. The warriors see the casque, the lance, the shining plume; they expect to meet force, they attack with violence, and with the first stroke reach the heart."

Troubles and afflictions of various kinds had fallen on Lady Blessington, in quick succession, from the year 1843. The loss of fortune, and the loss of friends, trials of different kinds, pecuniary difficulties, and humiliations, had followed each other with little intermission of late years. In the latter part of 1845, the effects of the potato blight, and the famine in Ireland, made themselves felt in the magnificent salons in London and on the continent, in all the highest places of sojourn of the Irish aristocracy. The sumptuous apartments of Gore House were made intimately acquainted with them.

By the robbery of plate, jewellery, and other valuables, that was committed in Lady Blessington's house, in Seamore Place, a loss of upwards of £1000 had been sustained. By the failure of Charles Heath, the engraver, she incurred a loss of £700.

The difficulties of Count D'Orsay had contributed also not in a small degree to the derangement of her affairs; and those difficulties had commenced at a very early period of his career in London, while Lady Blessington was residing in Seamore Place, and the Count in a small house in Curzon Street, nearly opposite Lord Chesterfield's.

The Count was arrested, soon after his arrival in England, for a debt of £300 to his boot-maker in Paris, Mr. M'Henry, and was only saved from imprisonment by the acceptance, on the part of his creditor, of bail on that occasion.*

* I have been informed by Mr. M'Henry, that he had allowed that debt to remain unsettled for many years, and had consented to accept the security finally offered to him, on account of the very large

In October, 1846, when difficulties were pressing heavily on Lady Blessington, she received a letter in the handwriting of a lady, who signs herself M. A.), from which the following extract is taken :

“ Well may it be said, 'Sweet are the uses of adversity,' which like the toad, ugly and venomous, bears yet a precious jewel in its head !!—and its chief advantage is, that it enables us to judge our real friends from false ones. Rowland Hill, on one occasion (preaching to a large congregation on men's trust in the friendship of the world) observed, that his own acquaintances would probably fill the church; and he was quite certain that his friends, at the most, would only fill the pulpit. Thus many may say, and those too who may have expended thousands in entertaining selfish and cold-hearted men, who would not render them a real service, , if they wanted one, or give a sigh to their mernory on hearing of their decease."

Poor Lady Blessington's mind was ill at ease when she set down the following observations in her common-place

book :

“ Great trials demand great courage, and all our energy is called up to enable us to bear them. But it is the minor cares of life that wear out the body, because singly, and in detail, they do not appear sufficiently important to engage us to rally our force and spirits to support them...... Many minds that have withstood the most severe trials, have been broken drown by a succession of ignoble cares.”

obligations he felt under to the Count; moreover it was acknowledged that the mere fact of its being known in Paris, that Count D'Orsay's boots were made by MoHenry, had procured for him the custom of all the tip-top exquisites of Paris. Similar obligations existed in London, with similar relations between the debtors and the indebted; and similar results in London between the Count and his tradesmen, but sometimes not of a nature so agreeable, frequently took place.

How much bitter experience must it have required to say so much, in so few words? “ When the sun shines on you, you see your friends. It requires sunshine to be seen by them to advantage. While it lasts, we are visible to them; when it is gone, and our horizon is overcast, they are invisible to us."

And elsewhere, another “ Night Thought” is to a similar effect:

“ Friends are the thermometers by which we may judge the temperature of our fortunes.”

“ There is no knowledge for which so great a price is paid as a knowledge of the world ; and no one ever became an adept in it, except at the expense of a hardened or a wounded heart.”

" M. B."

Lady Blessington makes reference to “ a friend of long standing, and deeply interested in her welfare," who had been consulted by her at the period of her most serious embarrassments, and who had addressed the following letter to her Ladyship, without date or name, but probably written in 1848:


“ You do not do me more than justice in the belief, that I most fully sympathize with all your troubles, and I shall be only too happy if my advice can in any way assist you.

“ First. As to your jointure, nothing in law is so indisputable,

-as that a widow's jointure takes precedence of every other claim on an estate. The


first money the agent or steward receives from the property, should go to the discharge of this claim. No subsequent mortgages, annuities, encumbrances, law-suits, expenses of management, &c., can be permitted to interfere with the payment of jointure; and as, whatever the distress of the tenants, or the embarrassments

of the estate, it is clear that some rents must have come in halfyearly; so, on those rents you have an indisputable right; and, I think, on consulting your lawyer, he will put you in a way, either by a memorial to chancery, or otherwise, to secure in future the regular payment of this life-charge. Indeed, on property charged with a jointure, although the rents are not paid for months after the proper dates, the jointure must be paid on the regular days; and if not, the proprietor would become liable to immediate litigation. I am here presuming that you but ask for the jointure, due quarterly or half-yearly, and not in advance, which, if the affairs are in chancery, it would be illegal to grant.

Secondly. With respect to the diamonds, would it be possible or expedient, to select a certain portion (say half) which you least value on their own account; and if a jeweller himself falls too short in his offer, to get him to sell them on commission? You must remember, that every year, by paying interest on them, you are losing money on them : so that in a few years you may thus lose more than by taking at once less than their true value. There are diamond merchants, who, I believe, give more for those articles than jewellers; and if you know Anthony Rothschild, and would not object to speak to him, he might help you.

“ Thirdly. With respect to an illustrated work, I like your plan inuch; and I think any falling off is to be attributed to a relaxation in Heath himself-of proper attention to the interests of the illustrations. You have apparently some idea as to the plan and conception. I fancy that illustrations of our most popular writers might be a novelty. Illustrations from Shakespeare—not the female characters only, but scenes from the Plays themselves—by good artists; and the letter-press bearing upon the subject, might make a very saleable and standard work. Again (and I think better), in this day, illustrations from English scenery, ruins, and buildings, might be very popular; in fact, if you could create a national interest in the subject in the plates, your sale and profit would be both larger and more permanent on the first demand, and become a source of yearly income.


loans ;

“ You do perfectly right not to diminish your income by

will wait your time ; and I am sure, that with proper legal advice, you can ensure the regular payments of your jointure in future.

“ I think I have thus given you the best hints I can on the different points on which you have so kindly consulted me. I know well how, to those accustomed to punctual payments, and with a horror of debt, pecuniary embarrassments prey upon the mind. But I think they may be borne, not only with ease, but some degree of complacency, when connected with such generous devotion and affectionate services as those which must console you amidst all your cares. In emptying your purse you have at least filled your heart with consolations, which will long outlast what I trust will be but the troubles of a season."

In April, 1849, the clamours and importunate demands of Lady Blessington's creditors harassed her, and made it evident that an inevitable crash was coming. She had given bills to her bankers, and her bond likewise, for various advances, in anticipation of her jointure, to an amount approaching to £1500. Immediately after the sale, the bankers acknowledged having received from Mr. Phillips, the auctioneer, by her order, the sum of £1500, leaving a balance only, in their hands, to her credit, of £11. She had the necessity of renewing bills frequently as they became due, and on the 24th of April, 1849, she had to renew a bill of hers, to a Mr. M

for a very large amount, which would fall due on the 30th of the following month of May; four days only before “the great debt of all debts” was to be paid by her.

In the spring of 1849, the long-menaced break-up of the establishment of Gore House took place. Numerous creditors, bill discounters, money lenders, jewellers, lace venders, tax collectors, gas company agents, all persons having claims

« PoprzedniaDalej »