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And strange to say, as if there was in the mind of the writer a sort of prevision of events of a similar nature occurring in her own home at some future period, she informs us the name of the ruined proprietor of the elegant mansion in the fashionable square, the effects of which were under sale, was B. The authoress says, sauntering through the gilded salons crowded with fashionables, brokers, and dealers in bijouterie, exquisites of insipid countenances and starched neckcloths, elderly ladies of sour aspects, and simpering damsels, all at intervals in the sale, occupied with comments, jocose, censorious, sagacious, or bitterly sarcastic, on the misfortunes and extravagance of the poor B.'s; she heard on every side flippant and unfeeling observations of this kind : “ Poor Mrs. B. will give no more balls ;” “ I always thought how it would end ;” “The B.'s gave devilish good dinners though ; “ Capital feeds indeed;” “ You could rely on a perfect suprême de volaille ” (at their table); “Where could you get such cotellettes des pigeons à la champagne?” idea of what has become of B.?” “In the Bench, or gone to France, but (yawning) I really forget all about it;” “I will buy his Vandyke picture;” “It is a pity that people who give such good dinners should be ruined ;” “A short campaign and a brisk one for me;" “ Believe me there is nothing like a fresh start: and no man, at least no dinner-giving man, should last more than two seasons, unless he would change his cook every month, to prevent repetition of the same dishes, and keep a regular roaster of his invitations, with a mark to each name, to prevent people meeting twice at his house the same season.' The elderly ladies were all haranguing on “The follies, errors, and extravagancies of Mrs. B.” “Mr. B., though foolish and extravagant in some things, had considerable taste and judgment in some others; for instance, his books were excellent, well chosen, and well bought;” “His busts, too, are very fine;" “Give me B.'s pictures, for they
“Have you any
are exquisite;” “That group, so exquisitely coloured and so true to nature, could only be produced by the inimitable pencil of a Lawrence."
" And this is an auction !” says the authoress at the end of the first sketch in her first work. “A scene,” she continues, “ that has been so often the resort of the young, the grave, and the gay, is now one where those who have partaken of the hospitality of the once opulent owner of the mansion, now come to witness his downfall, regardless of his misfortune, or else to exult in their own contrasted prosperity."
This sketch would indeed have answered for the auction scene at Gore House in 1849, seven-and-twenty years after it had been penned by Lady Blessington.
Her Ladyship thus commenced her literary career in 1822, with a description of the ruin of an extravagant person
of quality in one of our fashionable squares in London, with an account of the break-up of his establishment, and the auction of his effects ; and a similar career terminates in the utter smash and the sale at Gore House in 1849. There are many stranger things 'twixt heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the philosophy of our Horatios of fashionable society.
* The “ Magic Lantern,” &c. pp. 1, 2, 3. London, Longman, 1522.
ARRIVAL OF LADY BLESSINGTON IN PARIS, THE MIDDLE OF
APRIL, 1849—HER LAST ILLNESS, AND DEATH, ON THE 4TH OF JUNE FOLLOWING-NOTICE OF HER DECEASE.
LADY BLESSINGTON and her nieces arrived in Paris in the middle of April, 1849. She had a suite of rooms taken for her in the Hotel de la Ville d'Eveque, and there she remained till the 3rd of June. The jointure of £2000 a year was now the sole dependence of her Ladyship, and the small residue of the produce of the sale of her effects at Gore House, after paying the many large claims of her creditors and those of Count D'Orsay.
Soon after her arrival in Paris, she took a moderate-sized but handsome appartement in the Rue du Cirque, close to the Champs Elysées, which she commenced furnishing with much taste and elegance; her preparations were at length completed—but they were destined to be in vain. In the brief interval between her arrival in Paris and her taking possession of her new apartment on the 3rd of June, she received the visits of many of her former acquaintances, and seemed in better spirits than she had been for a long time previously to her departure from London.
The kindness she met with in some quarters, and especially at the hands of several members of the Grammont family, was at once agreeable and encouraging. But the coolness of the accueil of other persons who had been deeply indebted to her hospitality in former times, was somewhat more chilling than she had expected to find, and the warm feelings of her generous heart and noble nature revolted at it.
Prince Louis Napoleon, on Lady Blessington's arrival in Paris, requested her to come to the palace of the Elysée, where he then resided; she went, accompanied by Count D'Orsay and the two Miss Powers. He subsequently invited them to dinner. He had been one of the most constant and intimate guests at Gore House, both before and after his imprisonment at Ham. He used to dine there whenever there were any distinguished persons, whether English or foreign. He was on the most familiar and intimate terms with Lady Blessington and her circle, joining them in parties to Greenwich, Richmond, &c.; all his friends, as well as himself, were made welcome, and on his escape from Ham, he came to Gore House straight on his arrival in London, giving Lady Blessington the first intimation of his escape.
On that occasion, at Count D'Orsay's advice, he wrote at once to Monsieur St. Aulaire, then ambassador in London, stating that he had no intention of creating any ferment or disturbance, but meant to reside quietly as a private individual in London. Lady Blessington proffered some pecuniary assistance to the Prince, and both Lady Blessington and Count D'Orsay manifested their earnest desire and willingness to aid him in any way they could be made serviceable to him. While he needed their services, and influence, and hospitality, the Prince expressed himself always most grateful for their kindness. But with the need—the sense of the obligations ceased.
There is no doubt on the minds of some of the friends even, of Prince Louis Napoleon, but that the active and unceasing exertions and influence of Count D'Orsay and his friends and connections in Paris, went far to aid his election as President. D’Orsay rallied to his party Emile de Girardin,
one of the ablest and boldest journalists of the day, but who subsequently for a time became a formidable opponent. The chief cause of his ingratitude to Count D'Orsay was believed to have been his apprehension of being supposed to be advised or influenced by any one who had been formerly intimate with him; a fear which has induced him to surround his person with men of mean intellect and of servile dispositions, pliant, indigent, and unscrupulous followers, of no station in society, or character for independence or integrity of principle.
Lady Blessington began to form plans for a new literary career—she engaged her thoughts in projecting future works, in making new arrangements for the reception of the beaumonde. She employed a great deal of her time daily, in superintending the furnishing of her new apartment; in the way of embellishments or luxuries, or comforts, some new wants had to be supplied every day. The old story of unsatisfied desires ever seeking fulfilment and never contented with the fruition of present enjoyments, applies to every phase in life, even the most chequered :
“ Like our shadows,
The sun of Lady Blessington's life was now declining fast; and even when it had reached the verge of the horizon, its going down was unnoticed by those around her, and the suddenness of its disappearance occasioned no little surprize, and gave rise to many vague surmises and idle rumours.
There were some striking coincidences in the circumstances attending the deaths of Lord and Lady Blessington.
In May, 1829, Lord Blessington returned to Paris from England, purposing to fix his abode there for some months at least; and on the 23rd of the same month, a few weeks after his arrival, without previous warning or indisposition, appearing to be in good health,” he was suddenly attacked