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by apoplexy, while riding on the Champs Elysée, and died the same day, in a state of insensibility.
Twenty years from that date, Lady Blessington arrived in Paris, from London, purposing to fix her abode there ; and, on the 4th of June, having made all suitable preparations for a long residence in Paris, and after a sojourn there of about five weeks, without previous warning or indisposition, she was suddenly attacked by an apoplectic malady, complicated with disease of the heart, and was carried off by that seizure, at her abode adjoining the Champs Elysée, being quite unconscious, during the brief period of the struggle, of the fatal issue that was about to take place.
A few weeks before that event, a British peeress, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting at Gore House in former days, wrote to Lady Blessington at Paris, reminding her of a promise, that had been extorted from her, and entreating of her to remember her religious duties, and to attend to them.
Poor Lady Blessington always received any communication made to her on this subject with respect, and even with a feeling of gratitude for the advice given by her. She acted on it solely on one or two occasions, in Paris, when she accompanied the Duchess de Grammont to the church of the Madeleine on the Sabbath.
But no serious idea of abandoning the mode of life she led had been entertained by her. Yet she had a great fear of death, and sometimes spoke of a vague determination, whenever she should be released from the chief cares of her career—the toils and anxieties of authorship, the turmoil of her life in salons and intellectual circles— that she would turn to religion, and make amends for her long neglect of its duties, by an old age of retirement from society, and the withdrawal of her thoughts and affections from the vanities of the world. But the proposed time for that change was a future which was not to come; and the present time was ever to her a period in
which all thoughts of death were to be precluded, and every amusing and exciting topic was to be entertained which was capable of absorbing attention for the passing hour.
An extract of a letter from Miss Power, to the author, on the death of Lady Blessington, will give a very accurate and detailed account of her last illness and death :
“Rue de la Ville, l'Eveque, No. 38.
“February 18, 1850. “On arriving in Paris, my aunt adopted a mode of life differing considerably from the sedentary one she had for such a length of time pursued; she rose earlier, took much exercise, and, in consequence, lived somewhat higher than was her wont, for she was habitually a remarkably small eater; this appeared to agree with her general health, for she looked well, and was cheerful; but she began to suffer occasionally (especially in the morning) from oppression and difficulty of breathing. These symptoms, slight at first, she carefully concealed from our knowledge, having always a great objection to medical treatment; but as they increased in force and frequency, she was obliged to reveal them, and medical aid was immediately called in. Dr. Léon Simon pronounced there was ' energie du cæur,' but that the symptoms in question proceeded probably from bronchitis—a disease then very prevalent in Paris—that they were nervous, and entailed no danger, and as, after the remedies he prescribed, the attacks diminished perceptibly in violence, and that her general health seemed little affected by them, he entertained no serious alarm.
“On the 3rd of June, she removed from the hotel we had occupied during the seven weeks we had passed in Paris, and entered the residence which my poor aunt had devoted so much pains and attention to the selecting and furnishing of, and that same day dined en fanille with the Duc and Duchesse de Guiche (Count D'Orsay's nephew). On that occasion, my aunt seemed particularly well in health and spirits, and it being a lovely night, and our residences lying contiguous, we walked home by moonlight. As usual, I aided my aunt to undress,
-she never allowed her maid to sit up for her-and left her a little after midnight. She passed, it seems, some most restless hours (she was habitually a bad sleeper), and early in the morning, feeling the commencement of one of the attacks, she called for assistance, and Dr. Simon was immediately sent for, the symptoms manifesting themselves with considerable violence, and in the mean time, the remedies he had ordered-sitting upright, rubbing the chest and upper stomach with ether, administering ether internally, &c.- were all resorted to without effect; the difficulty of breathing became so excessive, that the whole of the chest heaved upwards at each inspiration, which was inhaled with a loud whooping noise, the faee was swollen and purple, the eyeballs distended, and utterance almost wholly denied, while the extremities gradually became cold and livid, in spite of every attempt to restore the vítal heat. By degrees, the violence of the symptoms abated; she uttered a few words ; the first, . The violence is over, I can breathe freer ;' and soon after, Qu'elle heure est il ?' Thus encouraged, we deemed the danger past; but, alas ! how bitterly were we deceived; she gradually sunk from that moment, and when Dr. Simon who had been delayed by another patient, arrived, he saw that hope was gone ; and, indeed, she expired so easily, so tranquilly, that it was impossible to perceive the moment when her spirit passed away.
" The day but one following, the autopsy took place, when it was discovered that enlargement of the heart to nearly double the natural size, which enlargement must have been progressing for a period of at least twenty-five years, was the cause of dissolution, though incipient disease of the stomach and liver had complicated the symptoms. The body was then embalmed by Dr. Ganal, and deposited in the vaults of the Madeleine, while the monument was being constructed--a task to which Count D'Orsay devoted the whole of his time and attention. He bids me to say that he is about to have a daguerreotype taken of the place, a drawing of which we shall have forwarded to you.
“ The mausoleum is a pyramid of granite, standing on a square platform, on a level with the surrounding ground, but divided
from it by a deep fosse, whose sloping sides are covered with green turf and Irish ivy-transplanted from the garden of the house where she was born. It stands on a hill-side, just above the village cemetery, and overlooks a view of exquisite beauty and immense extent, taking in the Seine winding through the fertile valley, and the forest of St. Germain; plains, villages, and far distant hills; and at the back and side it is sheltered by chestnut-trees of large size and great age ;-a more picturesque spot it is difficult to imagine.
"M. A. Power.”
From Mrs. Romer's account of this monument, the following passages are taken :
“ Solid, simple, and severe, it combines every requisite in harmony with its solemn destination ; no meretricious ornaments, no false sentiment, mar the purity of its design. The genius which devised it has succeeded in cheating the tomb of its horrors, without depriving it of its imposing gravity. The simple portal is surmounted by a plain massive cross of stone, and a door, secured by an open-work of bronze, leads into a sepulchral chamber, the key of which has been confided to me. All within breathes the holy calm of eternal repose ; no gloom, no mouldering damp, nothing to recall the dreadful images of decay. An atmosphere of peace appears to pervade the place, and I could almost fancy that a voice from the tomb whispered, in the words of Dante's Beatrice :
Io sono in pace ! “The light of the sun, streaming through a glazed aperture above the door, fell like a ray of heavenly hope upon the symbol of man's redemption—a beautiful copy, in bronze, of Michael Angelo's crucified Saviour—which is affixed to the wall facing the entrance. A simple stone sarcophagus is placed on either side of the chamber, each one surmounted by two white marble tablets, encrusted in the sloping walls."
The monument was visited by me a few weeks before the death of Count D'Orsay. It stands on a platform, or mound, carefully trenched, adjoining the church-yard, and approached from it. The sepulchral chamber is on a level with the platform from which you enter. Within are two stone sarcophagi (side by side), and in one of these is deposited the coffin, containing the remains of Lady Blessington, covered with a large block of granite. On the wall above (on the left-hand side of the vault), are the two inscriptions; one by Barry Cornwall, the other--that which has led to a correspondence.
The first inscription, above referred to, is in the following terms:
IN MEMORY OF
MARGUERITE, COUNTESS OF BLESSINGTON,
WHO DIED ON THE 4TH OF JUNE, 1849.
In her lifetime
For her many graceful writings,
In distant lands,
Sought her friendship :
Of her own country,
In her ever hospitable home.
And she died
Lamented by her friends.
Have raised this tributary marble