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miration was soon made known, and proposals of marriage were offered to her, and accepted by her in 1818.
The event above referred to, was the death of Captain Farmer. Captain Farmer, subsequently to the separation about 1807, having left his regiment, still serving in Ireland, went to the East Indies, obtained employment, and remained there a few years. He returned to England about 1816, and being acquainted with persons involved in pecuniary embarrassments, who had been thrown into prison, during their confinement within the rules of the Fleet, he visited them frequently, lived freely, and, I believe it may be added, riotously, with his imprisoned friends.
On one occasion, of a festive nature, after having been regaled by them, and indulging in excess, in the act of endeavouring to sally forth from the room where the entertainment had been given, he rushed out of the room, placed himself on the ledge of the window, to escape the importunities of his associates, fell to the ground in the court yard, and died of the wounds he received, a little later.
From the “Morning Herald” of October 28th, 1817, the following account is taken of the inquest on Captain Maurice Farmer :
“ An inquisition has been taken at the Bear and Rummer, Wells Street, Middlesex Hospital, on the body of Captain Maurice Farmer, who was killed by falling from a window, in the King's Bench Prison. The deceased was a captain in the army, upon half-pay; and having received an appointment in the service of the Spanish Patriots, went, on Thursday week, to take leave of some friends, confined in the King's Bench Prison. The party drank four quarts of rum, and were all intoxicated. When the deceased rose to go home, his friends locked the door of the room to prevent him. Apprehensive that they meant to detain him all night, as they had done twice before, he threw up the window, and threatened to jump
out if they did not release him. Finding this of no avail, be got upon the ledge, and, whilst expostulating with them, lost his balance. He hung on for some minutes by his hands, but his friends were too much intoxicated to be able to relieve him. He consequently fell from the two pair, and had one thigh and one arm broken, and the violence with which his head came in contact with the ground, produced an effusion of blood on the brain. He was taken up in a state of insensibility, and conveyed to the Middlesex Hospital, where he died on Tuesday last. The deputy-marshal of the King's Bench Prison attended the inquest. He stated that the friends of the deceased had no intention of injuring him; but, from the gross impropriety of their conduct, the marshal had committed them to Horsemonger Lane Gaol, to ove month's solitary confinement.
“ The jury came to the following verdict :- The deceased came to his death by accidentally falling from a window in the King's Bench Prison, when in a state of intoxication.'
In the statement made to me by Lady Blessington in 1843, to which I have previously referred, I was informed, “In a few days after Captain Farmer's death, Perry, of the Morning Chronicle' (then unknown to Lord Blessington), addressed a note to Lord Blessington, enclosing a statement, purporting to be an account of the death of Captain Farmer, sent to him for insertion in his paper, throwing an air of mystery over the recent catastrophe, asserting things that were utterly unfounded, and entering into many particulars in connection with his marriage, and its antecedents. The simple statement of the facts on the part of Lord Blessington to Perry, sufficed to prevent the insertion of this infamous slander, and Jaid the foundation of a lasting friendship between Lord and Lady Blessington, and the worthy man who was then editor of the Morning Chronicle.
Mr. Edmond Power, of Clonmel, in the meantime, had
become a ruined man, broken down in fortune, and at a low ebb in domestic happiness. He removed with his wife to Dublin, and there, in Clarendon Street, Mrs. Power died, far advanced in years. Her husband married a second time, upwards of twenty years ago, a Mrs. Hymes, widow of a brewer of Limerick. This lady, whose maiden name was Vize, was a native of Clonmel. He bad been supported for a great many years previously to his death by his two daughters, Lady Blessington and Lady Canterbury, who jointly contributed towards his maintenance. He possessed no other means of subsistence, having disposed of his interest in a small farm, called Stanley Lodge, in the vicinity of Cashel, at the time the arrangement was entered into by his daughters to contribute to his maintenance.
The claims on Lady Blessington were more extensive than can be well conceived. One member of her family had an annual stipend paid monthly, from the year 1836 to 1839 inclusive, of five pounds a month. In 1840 it was increased to eight pounds a month. From 1841 to 1847, inclusive, it was seven pounds a month. These payments, for which I have seen vouchers, amounted, in all, to the sum of seven hundred and eighty-four pounds. I have reason to believe the stipend was continued to be paid in 1848, which additional sum would make the amount eight hundred and sixtyeight pounds devoted to the assistance of one relative alone, exclusive of other occasional contributions on particular occasions.
Miss Mary Anne Power, the youngest sister of Lady Blessington, married in 1831, an old French nobleman of ancient family, the Count Saint Marsault. The disparity of years in this alliance was too great to afford much expectation of felicity. The Count returned to his own country, and his wife returned to her native land, preserving there, as elsewhere, a character for some eccentricity, but one uniformly irreproachable.
Mrs. Dogherty, to whom allusion is made in the letters of Lady Blessington, was a relative of Mr. Edward Quinlan, of Clonmel, an old gentleman of considerable means, who had been connected by marriage with Lady Blessington's mother (vide genealogical account of the Sheehy family). Mr. Quinlan died in November, 1836, leaving large fortunes to his daughters. On the occasion of the trial of Edmond Power for the murder of the boy Lonergan, till Mr. Quinlan came forward with a sum of fifty pounds as a loan to Power, the latter was actually unable at the time to engage counsel for his defence.
The Countess St. Marsault went to reside with her father on her arrival in Ireland, first at Arklow, afterwards in lodgings at No. 18, Camden Street, Dublin, and next at 5, Lower Dorset Street, where, in the latter part of October, 1836, Mr. Power was reduced to such a helpless state of bodily debility and suffering, that he was unable to make the slightest movement without the greatest agony.
He was attended in Dublin by a relative of his, a Dr. Kirwan, a firstcousin. He appears to have died in the early part of 1837. On the 30th of January, 1837, the Countess of St. Marsault was no longer residing in Dublin, but was then domesticated at the abode of an old lady of the name of Dogherty, a relative of hers, at Mont Bruis, near Cashel, in the county of Tipperary. There she remained for nearly a year. “After an absence of thirty years, she visited Clonmel.” The date of this visit was April, 1837. She must then have quitted Clonmel in 1807, in very early childhood. In 1839, she returned to England, and as she had previously done, declined, on more than one occasion, pressing invitations to take up her abode again with her sister, Lady Blessington.
Mr. Power, at the time of his decease, was seventy years of age. A youth passed without the benefit of experience, had merged into manhood without the restraints of religion or the influences of kindly home affections, and terminated in age without wisdom or respect, and death without solemnity, or the semblance of much becoming fitness for its encounter.
This brief outline brings us to the period of the marriage of Lord and Lady Blessington, at which it will be my province to commence the history of the literary career of her Ladyship.
Of Lockhart's “Life of Scott," it has been observed, “there we have the author and the man in every stage of his career, and in every capacity of his existence, -Scott in his study and in court—in his family and in society—in his favourite haunts and lightest amusements. There he is to be seen in the exact relation in which he stood to his children, his intimates, his acquaintances, and dependants,—the central figure, and the circle which surrounded it (Constable, the Ballantynes, Erskine, Terry, and a score or two besides), all drawn with such individuality of feature, and all painted in such vivid colours, that we seem not to be moving among the shadows of the dead, but to live with the men them
I hope, at least in one particular, it will be found I have endeavoured to follow, even at an humble distance, the example of Scott's biographer, in placing before my readers the subject of my work in a life-like truthful manner, as she was before the public, in her works and in her saloons, and also in her private relations towards her friends and relatives.
* Literary Gazette, February 15, 1851.