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Title: Records of a Girlhood
Author: Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Records of a Girlhood" ***

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[Transcriber's note: The spellings in this book are inconsistent in
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[Illustration: Fanny Kemble]








JOHN A. GRAY, Agent,


Considerable portions of this work originally appeared in the _Atlantic
Monthly_, but there is added to these a large amount of new matter not
hitherto published, and the whole work has been thoroughly revised.



A few years ago I received from a friend to whom they had been addressed
a collection of my own letters, written during a period of forty years,
and amounting to thousands--a history of my life.

The passion for universal history (_i.e._ any and every body's story)
nowadays seems to render any thing in the shape of personal
recollections good enough to be printed and read; and as the public
appetite for gossip appears to be insatiable, and is not unlikely some
time or other to be gratified at my expense, I have thought that my own
gossip about myself may be as acceptable to it as gossip about me
written by another.

I have come to the garrulous time of life--to the remembering days,
which only by a little precede the forgetting ones. I have much leisure,
and feel sure that it will amuse me to write my own reminiscences;
perhaps reading them may amuse others who have no more to do than I
have. To the idle, then, I offer these lightest of leaves gathered in
the idle end of autumn days, which have succeeded years of labor often
severe and sad enough, though its ostensible purpose was only that of
affording recreation to the public.

       *       *       *       *       *

There are two lives of my aunt Siddons: one by Boaden, and one by the
poet Campbell. In these biographies due mention is made of my paternal
grandfather and grandmother. To the latter, Mrs. Roger Kemble, I am
proud to see, by Lawrence's portrait of her, I bear a personal
resemblance; and I please myself with imagining that the likeness is
more than "skin deep." She was an energetic, brave woman, who, in the
humblest sphere of life and most difficult circumstances, together with
her husband fought manfully a hard battle with poverty, in maintaining
and, as well as they could, training a family of twelve children, of
whom four died in childhood. But I am persuaded that whatever qualities
of mind or character I inherit from my father's family, I am more
strongly stamped with those which I derive from my mother, a woman who,
possessing no specific gift in such perfection as the dramatic talent of
the Kembles, had in a higher degree than any of them the peculiar
organization of genius. To the fine senses of a savage rather than a
civilized nature, she joined an acute instinct of correct criticism in
all matters of art, and a general quickness and accuracy of perception,
and brilliant vividness of expression, that made her conversation
delightful. Had she possessed half the advantages of education which she
and my father labored to bestow upon us, she would, I think, have been
one of the most remarkable persons of her time.

My mother was the daughter of Captain Decamp, an officer in one of the
armies that revolutionary France sent to invade republican Switzerland.
He married the daughter of a farmer from the neighborhood of Berne. From
my grandmother's home you could see the great Jungfrau range of the
Alps, and I sometimes wonder whether it is her blood in my veins that so
loves and longs for those supremely beautiful mountains.

Not long after his marriage my grandfather went to Vienna, where, on the
anniversary of the birth of the great Empress-King, my mother was born,
and named, after her, Maria Theresa. In Vienna, Captain Decamp made the
acquaintance of a young English nobleman, Lord Monson (afterwards the
Earl of Essex), who, with an enthusiasm more friendly than wise, eagerly
urged the accomplished Frenchman to come and settle in London, where his
talents as a draughtsman and musician, which were much above those of a
mere amateur, combined with the protection of such friends as he could
not fail to find, would easily enable him to maintain himself and his
young wife and child.

In an evil hour my grandfather adopted this advice, and came to England.
It was the time when the emigration of the French nobility had filled
London with objects of sympathy, and society with sympathizers with
their misfortunes. Among the means resorted to for assisting the many
interesting victims of the Revolution, were representations, given under
the direction of Le Texier, of Berquin's and Madame de Genlis's juvenile
dramas, by young French children. These performances, combined with his
own extraordinary readings, became one of the fashionable frenzies of
the day. I quote from Walter Scott's review of Boaden's life of my uncle
the following notice of Le Texier: "On one of these incidental topics we
must pause for a moment, with delighted recollection. We mean the
readings of the celebrated Le Texier, who, seated at a desk, and dressed
in plain clothes, read French plays with such modulation of voice, and
such exquisite point of dialogue, as to form a pleasure different from
that of the theatre, but almost as great as we experience in listening
to a first-rate actor. We have only to add to a very good account given
by Mr. Boaden of this extraordinary entertainment, that when it
commenced Mr. Le Texier read over the _dramatis personæ_, with the
little analysis of character usually attached to each name, using the
voice and manner with which he afterward read the part; and so accurate
was the key-note given that he had no need to name afterward the person
who spoke; the stupidest of the audience could not fail to recognize

Among the little actors of Le Texier's troupe, my mother attracted the
greatest share of public attention by her beauty and grace, and the
truth and spirit of her performances.

The little French fairy was eagerly seized upon by admiring fine ladies
and gentlemen, and snatched up into their society, where she was fondled
and petted and played with; passing whole days in Mrs. Fitzherbert's
drawing-room, and many a half hour on the knees of her royal and
disloyal husband, the Prince Regent, one of whose favorite jokes was to
place my mother under a huge glass bell, made to cover some large group
of precious Dresden china, where her tiny figure and flashing face
produced even a more beautiful effect than the costly work of art whose
crystal covering was made her momentary cage. I have often heard my
mother refer to this season of her childhood's favoritism with the fine
folk of that day, one of her most vivid impressions of which was the
extraordinary beauty of person and royal charm of manner and deportment
of the Prince of Wales, and his enormous appetite: enormous perhaps,
after all, only by comparison with her own, which he compassionately
used to pity, saying frequently, when she declined the delicacies that
he pressed upon her, "Why, you poor child! Heaven has not blessed you
with an appetite." Of the precocious feeling and imagination of the poor
little girl, thus taken out of her own sphere of life into one so
different and so dangerous, I remember a very curious instance, told me
by herself. One of the houses where she was a most frequent visitor, and
treated almost like a child of the family, was that of Lady Rivers,
whose brother, Mr. Rigby, while in the ministry, fought a duel with some
political opponent. Mr. Rigby had taken great notice of the little
French child treated with such affectionate familiarity by his sister,
and she had attached herself so strongly to him that, on hearing the
circumstance of his duel suddenly mentioned for the first time, she
fainted away: a story that always reminded me of the little Spanish girl
Florian mentions in his "Mémoires d'un jeune Espagnol," who, at six
years of age, having asked a young man of upward of five and twenty if
he loved her, so resented his repeating her question to her elder sister
that she never could be induced to speak to him again.

Meantime, while the homes of the great and gay were her constant resort,
the child's home was becoming sadder, and her existence and that of her
parents more precarious and penurious day by day. From my grandfather's
first arrival in London, his chest had suffered from the climate; the
instrument he taught was the flute, and it was not long before decided
disease of the lungs rendered that industry impossible. He endeavored to
supply its place by giving French and drawing lessons (I have several
small sketches of his, taken in the Netherlands, the firm, free delicacy
of which attest a good artist's handling); and so struggled on, under
the dark London sky, and in the damp, foggy, smoky atmosphere, while the
poor foreign wife bore and nursed four children.

It is impossible to imagine any thing sadder than the condition of such
a family, with its dark fortune closing round and over it, and its one
little human jewel, sent forth from its dingy case to sparkle and
glitter, and become of hard necessity the single source of light in the
growing gloom of its daily existence. And the contrast must have been
cruel enough between the scenes into which the child's genius
spasmodically lifted her, both in the assumed parts she performed and in
the great London world where her success in their performance carried
her, and the poor home, where sickness and sorrow were becoming abiding
inmates, and poverty and privation the customary conditions of
life--poverty and privation doubtless often increased by the very outlay
necessary to fit her for her public appearances, and not seldom by the
fear of offending, or the hope of conciliating, the fastidious taste of
the wealthy and refined patrons whose favor toward the poor little
child-actress might prove infinitely helpful to her and to those who
owned her.

The lives of artists of every description in England are not unapt to
have such opening chapters as this; but the calling of a player alone
has the grotesque element of fiction, with all the fantastic
accompaniments of sham splendor thrust into close companionship with the
sordid details of poverty; for the actor alone the livery of labor is a
harlequin's jerkin lined with tatters, and the jester's cap and bells
tied to the beggar's wallet. I have said artist life in England is apt
to have such chapters; artist life everywhere, probably. But it is only
in England, I think, that the full bitterness of such experience is
felt; for what knows the foreign artist of the inexorable element of
Respectability? In England alone is the pervading atmosphere of
respectability that which artists breathe in common with all other
men--respectability, that English moral climate, with its neutral tint
and temperate tone, so often sneered at in these days by its new German
title of Philistinism, so often deserving of the bitterest scorn in some
of its inexpressibly mean manifestations--respectability, the
pre-eminently unattractive characteristic of British existence, but
which, all deductions made for its vulgar alloys, is, in truth, only the
general result of the individual self-respect of individual Englishmen;
a wholesome, purifying, and preserving element in the homes and lives of
many, where, without it, the recklessness bred of insecure means and
obscure position would run miserable riot; a tremendous power of
omnipotent compression, repression, and oppression, no doubt, quite
consistent with the stern liberty whose severe beauty the people of
these islands love, but absolutely incompatible with license, or even
lightness of life, controlling a thousand disorders rampant in societies
where it does not exist; a power which, tyrannical as it is, and
ludicrously tragical as are the sacrifices sometimes exacted by it,
saves especially the artist class of England from those worst forms of
irregularity which characterize the Bohemianism of foreign literary,
artistic, and dramatic life.

Of course the pleasure-and-beauty-loving, artistic temperament, which is
the one most likely to be exposed to such an ordeal as that of my
mother's childhood, is also the one liable to be most injured by it, and
to communicate through its influence peculiar mischief to the moral
nature. It is the price of peril, paid for all that brilliant order of
gifts that have for their scope the exercise of the imagination through
the senses, no less than for that crown of gifts, the poet's passionate
inspiration, speaking to the senses through the imagination.

How far my mother was hurt by the combination of circumstances that
influenced her childhood I know not. As I remember her, she was a frank,
fearless, generous, and unworldly woman, and had probably found in the
subsequent independent exercise of her abilities the shield for these
virtues. How much the passionate, vehement, susceptible, and most
suffering nature was banefully fostered at the same time, I can better
judge from the sad vantage-ground of my own experience.

After six years spent in a bitter struggle with disease and difficulties
of every kind, my grandfather, still a young man, died of consumption,
leaving a widow and five little children, of whom the eldest, my mother,
not yet in her teens, became from that time the bread-winner and sole

Nor was it many years before she established her claim to the
approbation of the general public, fulfilling the promise of her
childhood by performances of such singular originality as to deserve the
name of genuine artistic creations, and which have hardly ever been
successfully attempted since her time: such as "The Blind Boy" and "Deaf
and Dumb;" the latter, particularly, in its speechless power and pathos
of expression, resembling the celebrated exhibitions of Parisot and
Bigottini, in the great tragic ballets in which dancing was a
subordinate element to the highest dramatic effects of passion and
emotion expressed by pantomime. After her marriage, my mother remained
but a few years on the stage, to which she bequeathed, as specimens of
her ability as a dramatic writer, the charming English version of "La
jeune Femme colère," called "The Day after the Wedding;" the little
burlesque of "Personation," of which her own exquisitely humorous
performance, aided by her admirably pure French accent, has never been
equaled; and a play in five acts called "Smiles and Tears," taken from
Mrs. Opie's tale of "Father and Daughter."

She had a fine and powerful voice and a rarely accurate musical ear; she
moved so gracefully that I have known persons who went to certain
provincial promenades frequented by her, only to see her walk; she was a
capital horsewoman; her figure was beautiful, and her face very handsome
and strikingly expressive; and she talked better, with more originality
and vivacity, than any English woman I have ever known: to all which
good gifts she added that of being a first-rate _cook_. And oh, how
often and how bitterly, in my transatlantic household tribulations, have
I deplored that her apron had not fallen on my shoulders or round my
waist! Whether she derived this taste and talent from her French blood,
I know not, but it amounted to genius, and might have made her a
pre-eminent _cordon bleu_, if she had not been the wife, and _cheffe_,
of a poor professional gentleman, whose moderate means were so
skillfully turned to account, in her provision for his modest table,
that he was accused by ill-natured people of indulging in the expensive
luxury of a French cook. Well do I remember the endless supplies of
potted gravies, sauces, meat jellies, game jellies, fish jellies, the
white ranges of which filled the shelves of her store-room--which she
laughingly called her boudoir--almost to the exclusion of the usual
currant jellies and raspberry jams of such receptacles: for she had the
real _bon vivant's_ preference of the savory to the sweet, and left all
the latter branch of the art to her subordinates, confining the exercise
of her own talents, or immediate superintendence, to the production of
the above-named "elegant extracts." She never, I am sorry to say,
encouraged either my sister or myself in the same useful occupation,
alleging that we had what she called better ones; but I would joyfully,
many a time in America, have exchanged all my boarding-school
smatterings for her knowledge how to produce a wholesome and palatable
dinner. As it was, all I learned of her, to my sorrow, was a detestation
of bad cookery, and a firm conviction that that which was exquisite was
both wholesomer and more economical than any other. Dr. Kitchener, the
clever and amiable author of that amusing book, "The Cook's Oracle" (his
name was a _bonâ fide_ appellation, and not a drolly devised appropriate
_nom de plume_, and he was a doctor of physic), was a great friend and
admirer of hers; and she is the "accomplished lady" by whom several
pages of that entertaining kitchen companion were furnished to him.

The mode of opening one of her chapters, "I always bone my meat" (_bone_
being the slang word of the day for steal), occasioned much merriment
among her friends, and such a look of ludicrous surprise and reprobation
from Liston, when he read it, as I still remember.

My mother, moreover, devised a most admirable kind of _jujube_, made of
clarified gum-arabic, honey, and lemon, with which she kept my father
supplied during all the time of his remaining on the stage; he never
acted without having recourse to it, and found it more efficacious in
sustaining the voice and relieving the throat under constant exertion
than any other preparation that he ever tried; this she always made for
him herself.

The great actors of my family have received their due of recorded
admiration; my mother has always seemed to me to have been overshadowed
by their celebrity; my sister and myself, whose fate it has been to bear
in public the name they have made distinguished, owe in great measure to
her, I think, whatever ability has enabled us to do so not unworthily.

I was born on the 27th of November, 1809, in Newman Street, Oxford Road,
the third child of my parents, whose eldest, Philip, named after my
uncle, died in infancy. The second, John Mitchell, lived to distinguish
himself as a scholar, devoting his life to the study of his own language
and the history of his country in their earliest period, and to the
kindred subject of Northern Archæology.

Of Newman Street I have nothing to say, but regret to have heard that
before we left our residence there my father was convicted, during an
absence of my mother's from town, of having planted in my baby bosom the
seeds of personal vanity, while indulging his own, by having an
especially pretty and becoming lace cap at hand in the drawing-room, to
be immediately substituted for some more homely daily adornment, when I
was exhibited to his visitors. In consequence, perhaps, of which, I am a
disgracefully dress-loving old woman of near seventy, one of whose minor
miseries is that she can no longer find _any_ lace cap whatever that is
either pretty or becoming to her gray head. If my father had not been so
foolish then, I should not be so foolish now--perhaps.

The famous French actress, Mlle. Clairon, recalled, for the pleasure of
some foreign royal personage passing through Paris, for one night to the
stage, which she had left many years before, was extremely anxious to
recover the pattern of a certain cap which she had worn in her young
days in "La Coquette corrigée," the part she was about to repeat. The
cap, as she wore it, had been a Parisian rage; she declared that half
her success in the part had been the cap. The milliner who had made it,
and whose fortune it had made, had retired from business, grown old;
luckily, however, she was not dead: she was hunted up and adjured to
reproduce, if possible, this marvel of her art, and came to her former
patroness, bringing with her the identical head-gear. Clairon seized
upon it: "Ah oui, c'est bien cela! c'est bien là le bonnet!" It was on
her head in an instant, and she before the glass, in vain trying to
reproduce with it the well-remembered effect. She pished and pshawed,
frowned and shrugged, pulled the pretty _chiffon_ this way and that on
her forehead; and while so doing, coming nearer and nearer to the
terrible looking-glass, suddenly stopped, looked at herself for a moment
in silence, and then, covering her aged and faded face with her hands,
exclaimed, "Ah, c'est bien le bonnet! mais ce n'est plus la figure!"

Our next home, after Newman Street, was at a place called Westbourne
Green, now absorbed into endless avenues of "palatial" residences, which
scoff with regular-featured, lofty scorn at the rural simplicity implied
by such a name. The site of our dwelling was not far from the Paddington
Canal, and was then so far out of town that our nearest neighbors,
people of the name of Cockrell, were the owners of a charming residence,
in the middle of park-like grounds, of which I still have a faint,
pleasurable remembrance. The young ladies, daughters of Mr. Cockrell,
really made the first distinct mark I can detect on the _tabula rasa_ of
my memory, by giving me a charming pasteboard figure of a little girl,
to whose serene and sweetly smiling countenance, and pretty person, a
whole bookful of painted pasteboard petticoats, cloaks, and bonnets
could be adapted; it was a lovely being, and stood artlessly by a stile,
an image of rustic beauty and simplicity. I still bless the Miss
Cockrells, if they are alive, but if not, their memory for it!

Of the curious effect of dressing in producing the _sentiment_ of a
countenance, no better illustration can be had than a series of caps,
curls, wreaths, ribbons, etc., painted so as to be adaptable to one
face; the totally different _character_ imparted by a helmet, or a
garland of roses, to the same set of features, is a "caution" to
irregular beauties who console themselves with the fascinating variety
of their _expression_.

At this period of my life, I have been informed, I began, after the
manner of most clever children, to be exceedingly troublesome and
unmanageable, my principal crime being a general audacious contempt for
all authority, which, coupled with a sweet-tempered, cheerful
indifference to all punishment, made it extremely difficult to know how
to obtain of me the minimum quantity of obedience indispensable in the
relations of a tailless monkey of four years and its elders. I never
cried, I never sulked, I never resented, lamented, or repented either my
ill-doings or their consequences, but accepted them alike with a
philosophical buoyancy of spirit which was the despair of my poor
bewildered trainers.

Being hideously decorated once with a fool's cap of vast dimensions, and
advised to hide, not my "diminished head," but my horrible disgrace,
from all beholders, I took the earliest opportunity of dancing down the
carriage-drive to meet the postman, a great friend of mine, and attract
his observation and admiration to my "helmet," which I called aloud upon
all wayfarers also to contemplate, until removed from an elevated bank I
had selected for this public exhibition of myself and my penal costume,
which was beginning to attract a small group of passers-by.

My next malefactions were met with an infliction of bread and water,
which I joyfully accepted, observing, "Now I am like those poor dear
French prisoners that everybody pities so." Mrs. Siddons at that time
lived next door to us; she came in one day when I had committed some of
my daily offenses against manners or morals, and I was led, nothing
daunted, into her awful presence, to be admonished by her.

Melpomene took me upon her lap, and, bending upon me her "controlling
frown," discoursed to me of my evil ways in those accents which curdled
the blood of the poor shopman, of whom she demanded if the printed
calico she purchased of him "would wash." The tragic tones pausing, in
the midst of the impressed and impressive silence of the assembled
family, I tinkled forth, "What beautiful eyes you have!" all my small
faculties having been absorbed in the steadfast upward gaze I fixed upon
those magnificent orbs. Mrs. Siddons set me down with a smothered laugh,
and I trotted off, apparently uninjured by my great-aunt's solemn moral

A dangerous appeal, of a higher order, being made to me by my aunt's
most intimate friend, Mrs. F----, a not very judicious person, to the
effect, "Fanny, why don't you pray to God to make you better?"
immediately received the conclusive reply, "So I do, and he makes me
worse and worse." Parents and guardians should be chary of handling the
deep chords upon whose truth and strength the highest harmonies of the
fully developed soul are to depend.

In short, I was as hopelessly philosophical a subject as Madame Roland,
when, at six years old, receiving her penal bread and water with the
comment, "Bon pour la digestion!" and the retributive stripes which this
drew upon her, with the further observation, "Bon pour la circulation!"
In spite of my "wickedness," as Topsy would say, I appear to have been
not a little spoiled by my parents, and an especial pet and favorite of
all their friends, among whom, though I do not remember him at this
early period of our acquaintance, I know was Charles Young, that most
kindly good man and pleasant gentleman, one of whose many amiable
qualities was a genuine love for little children. He was an intimate
friend of Mrs. Siddons and her brothers, and came frequently to our
house; if the elders were not at home, he invariably made his way to the
nursery, where, according to the amusing description he has often since
given me of our early intercourse, one of his great diversions was to
make me fold my little fat arms--not an easy performance for small
muscles--and with a portentous frown, which puckered up my mouth even
more than my eyebrows, receive from him certain awfully unintelligible
passages from "Macbeth;" replying to them, with a lisp that must have
greatly heightened the tragic effect of this terrible dialogue, "_My
handth are of oo tolor_" (My hands are of your color). Years--how
many!--after this first lesson in declamation, dear Charles Young was
acting Macbeth for the last time in London, and I was his "wicked wife;"
and while I stood at the side scenes, painting my hands and arms with
the vile red stuff that confirmed the bloody-minded woman's words, he
said to me with a smile, "Ah ha! _My handth are of oo tolor._"

Mr. Young's own theatrical career was a sort of curious contradiction
between his physical and mental endowments. His very handsome and
regular features of the Roman cast, and deep, melodious voice, were
undoubtedly fine natural requisites for a tragic actor, and he succeeded
my uncle in all his principal parts, if not with any thing like equal
genius, with a dignity and decorum that were always highly acceptable.
He had, however, no tragic mental element whatever with these very
decided external qualifications for tragedy; but a perception of and
passion for humor, which he indulged in private constantly, in the most
entertaining and surprising manner. Ludicrous stories; personal mimicry;
the most admirable imitation of national accent--Scotch, Irish, and
French (he spoke the latter language to perfection, and Italian very
well); a power of grimace that equaled Grimaldi, and the most
irresistibly comical way of resuming, in the midst of the broadest
buffoonery, the stately dignity of his own natural countenance, voice,
and manner.

He was a cultivated musician, and sang French and Italian with taste and
expression, and English ballads with a pathos and feeling only inferior
to that of Moore and Mrs. Arkwright, with both which great masters of
musical declamation he was on terms of friendly intimacy. Mr. Young was
a universal favorite in the best London society, and an eagerly sought
guest in pleasant country-houses, where his zeal for country sports, his
knowledge of and fondness for horses, his capital equestrianism, and
inexhaustible fund of humor, made him as popular with the men as his
sweet, genial temper, good breeding, musical accomplishments, and
infinite drollery did with the women.

Mr. Young once told Lord Dacre that he made about four thousand pounds
sterling per annum by his profession; and as he was prudent and moderate
in his mode of life, and, though elegant, not extravagant in his tastes,
he had realized a handsome fortune when he left the stage.

Mr. Young passed the last years of his life at Brighton, and I never
visited that place without going to see him, confined as he latterly was
to his sofa with a complication of painful diseases and the weight of
more than seventy years. The last time I saw him in his drawing-room he
made me sit on a little stool by his sofa--it was not long after my
father, his life-long friend and contemporary's death--and he kept
stroking my hair, and saying to me, "You look so like a child--a good
child." I saw him but once more after this; he was then confined to his
bed. It was on Sunday; he lay propped with pillows in an ample flannel
dressing-gown, with a dark-blue velvet skull-cap on his head, and I
thought I had never seen his face look more strikingly noble and
handsome; he was reading the church service and his Bible, and kept me
by him for some time. I never saw him again.

As a proof of the little poetical imagination which Mr. Young brought to
some of his tragic performances, I remember his saying of his dress in
Cardinal Wolsey, "Well, I never could associate any ideas of grandeur
with this old woman's red petticoat." It would be difficult to say what
his best performances were, for he had never either fire, passion, or
tenderness; but never wanted propriety, dignity, and a certain stately
grace. Sir Pertinax McSycophant and Iago were the best things I ever saw
him act, probably because the sardonic element in both of them gave
partial scope to his humorous vein.

Not long after this we moved to another residence, still in the same
neighborhood, but near the churchyard of Paddington church, which was a
thoroughfare of gravel walks, cutting in various directions the green
turf, where the flat tombstones formed frequent "play-tables" for us;
upon these our nursery-maid, apparently not given to melancholy
meditations among the tombs, used to allow us to manufacture whole
delightful dinner sets of clay plates and dishes (I think I could make
such now), out of which we used to have feasts, as we called them, of
morsels of cake and fruit.

At this time I was about five years old, and it was determined that I
should be sent to the care of my father's sister, Mrs. Twiss, who kept a
school at Bath, and who was my godmother. On the occasion of my setting
forth on my travels, my brother John presented me with a whole
collection of children's books, which he had read and carefully
preserved, and now commended to my use. There were at least a round
dozen, and, having finished reading them, it occurred to me that to make
a bonfire of them would be an additional pleasure to be derived from
them; and so I added to the intellectual recreation they afforded me the
more _sensational_ excitement of what I called "a blaze;" a proceeding
of which the dangerous sinfulness was severely demonstrated to me by my
new care-takers.

Camden Place, Bath, was one of the lofty terraces built on the charming
slopes that surround the site of the Aquæ Solis of the Romans, and here
my aunt Twiss kept a girls' school, which participated in the favor
which every thing belonging to, or even remotely associated with, Mrs.
Siddons received from the public. It was a decidedly "fashionable
establishment for the education of young ladies," managed by my aunt,
her husband, and her three daughters. Mrs. Twiss was, like every member
of my father's family, at one time on the stage, but left it very soon,
to marry the grim-visaged, gaunt-figured, kind-hearted gentleman and
profound scholar whose name she at this time bore, and who, I have heard
it said, once nourished a hopeless passion for Mrs. Siddons. Mrs. Twiss
bore a soft and mitigated likeness to her celebrated sister; she had
great sweetness of voice and countenance, and a graceful, refined,
feminine manner, that gave her great advantages in her intercourse with
and influence over the young women whose training she undertook. Mr.
Twiss was a very learned man, whose literary labors were, I believe,
various, but whose "Concordance of Shakespeare" is the only one with
which I am acquainted. He devoted himself, with extreme assiduity, to
the education of his daughters, giving them the unusual advantage of a
thorough classic training, and making of two of them learned women in
the more restricted, as well as the more general, sense of the term.
These ladies were what so few of their sex ever are, _really well
informed_; they knew much, and they knew it all thoroughly; they were
excellent Latin scholars and mathematicians, had read immensely and at
the same time systematically, had prodigious memories stored with
various and well-classed knowledge, and, above all, were mistresses of
the English language, and spoke and wrote it with perfect purity--an
accomplishment out of fashion now, it appears to me, but of the
advantage of which I retain a delightful impression in my memory of
subsequent intercourse with those excellent and capitally educated
women. My relations with them, all but totally interrupted for upward of
thirty years, were renewed late in the middle of my life and toward the
end of theirs, when I visited them repeatedly at their pretty rural
dwelling near Hereford, where they enjoyed in tranquil repose the easy
independence they had earned by honorable toil. There, the lovely
garden, every flower of which looked fit to take the first prize at a
horticultural show, the incomparable white strawberries, famous
throughout the neighborhood, and a magnificent Angola cat, were the
delights of my out-of-door life; and perfect kindness and various
conversation, fed by an inexhaustible fund of anecdote, an immense
knowledge of books, and a long and interesting acquaintance with
society, made the indoor hours passed with these quiet old lady
governesses some of the most delightful I have ever known. The two
younger sisters died first; the eldest, surviving them, felt the sad
solitude of their once pleasant home at "The Laurels" intolerable, and
removed her residence to Brighton, where, till the period of her death,
I used to go and stay with her, and found her to the last one of the
most agreeable companions I have ever known.

At the time of my first acquaintance with my cousins, however, neither
their own studies nor those of their pupils so far engrossed them as to
seclude them from society. Bath was then, at certain seasons, the gayest
place of fashionable resort in England; and, little consonant as such a
thing would appear at the present day with the prevailing ideas of the
life of a teacher, balls, routs, plays, assemblies, the Pump Room, and
all the fashionable dissipations of the place, were habitually resorted
to by these very "stylish" school-mistresses, whose position at one
time, oddly enough, was that of leaders of "the ton" in the pretty
provincial capital of Somersetshire. It was, moreover, understood, as
part of the system of the establishment, that such of the pupils as were
of an age to be introduced into society could enjoy the advantage of the
chaperonage of these ladies, and several did avail themselves of it.

What profit I made under these kind and affectionate kinsfolk I know
not; little, I rather think, ostensibly; perhaps some beneath the
surface, not very manifest either to them or myself at the time; but
painstaking love sows more harvests than it wots of, wherever or
whenever (or if never) it reaps them.

I did not become versed in any of my cousins' learned lore, or
accomplished in the lighter labors of their leisure hours--to wit, the
shoemaking, bread-seal manufacturing, and black and white Japan, table
and screen painting, which produced such an indescribable medley of
materials in their rooms, and were fashionable female idle industries of
that day.

Remote from the theatre, and all details of theatrical life, as my
existence in my aunt's school was, there still were occasional
infiltrations of that element which found their way into my small
sphere. My cousin John Twiss, who died not very long ago, an elderly
general in her Majesty's service, was at this time a young giant,
studying to become an engineer officer, whose visits to his home were
seasons of great delight to the family in general, not unmixed on my
part with dread; for a favorite diversion of his was enacting my uncle
John's famous rescue of Cora's child, in "Pizarro," with me clutched in
one hand, and exalted to perilous proximity with the chandelier, while
he rushed across the drawing-rooms, to my exquisite terror and triumph.

I remember, too, his sisters, all three remarkably tall women (the
eldest nearly six feet high, a portentous petticoat stature), amusing
themselves with putting on, and sweeping about the rooms in, certain
regal mantles and Grecian draperies of my aunt Mrs. Whitelock's, an
actress, like the rest of the Kembles, who sought and found across the
Atlantic a fortune and celebrity which it would have been difficult for
her to have achieved under the disadvantage of proximity to, and
comparison with, her sister, Mrs. Siddons. But I suppose the dramatic
impression which then affected me with the greatest and most vivid
pleasure was an experience which I have often remembered, when reading
Goethe's "Dichtung und Wahrheit," and the opening chapters of "Wilhelm
Meister." Within a pleasant summer afternoon's walk from Bath, through
green meadows and by the river's side, lay a place called Claverton
Park, the residence of a family of the name of A----. I remember nothing
of the house but the stately and spacious hall, in the middle of which
stood a portable theatre, or puppet-show, such as Punch inhabits, where
the small figures, animated with voice and movement by George A----, the
eldest son of the family, were tragic instead of grotesque, and where,
instead of the squeaking "Don Giovanni" of the London pavement,
"Macbeth" and similar solemnities appeared before my enchanted eyes. The
troupe might have been the very identical puppet performers of Harry
Rowe, the famous Yorkshire trumpeter. These, I suppose, were the first
plays I ever saw. Those were pleasant walks to Claverton, and pleasant
days at Claverton Hall! I wish Hans Breitmann and his "Avay in die
Ewigkeit" did not come in, like a ludicrous, lugubrious burden, to all
one's reminiscences of places and people one knew upward of fifty years

I have been accused of having acquired a bad habit of _punning from
Shakespeare!_--a delightful idea, that made me laugh till I cried the
first time it was suggested to me. If so, I certainly began early to
exhibit a result, of which the cause was, in some mysterious way, long
subsequent to the effect; unless the Puppet Plays of Claverton inspired
my wit. However that may be, I developed at this period a decided
faculty for punning, and that is an unusual thing at that age. Children
have considerable enjoyment of humor, as many of their favorite fairy
and other stories attest; they are often themselves extremely droll and
humorous in their assumed play characters and the stories they invent to
divert their companions; but punning is a not very noble species of wit;
it partakes of mental dexterity, requires neither fancy, humor, nor
imagination, and deals in words with double meanings, a subtlety very
little congenial to the simple and earnest intelligence of childhood.

_Les enfans terribles_ say such things daily, and make their
grandmothers' caps stand on end with their precocious astuteness; but
the clever sayings of most clever children, repeated and reported by
admiring friends and relations, are, for the most part, simply the
result of unused faculties, exercising themselves in, to them, an unused
world; only therefore surprising to worn-out faculties, which have
almost ceased to exercise themselves in, to them, an almost worn-out

To Miss B---- I was indebted for the first doll I remember possessing--a
gorgeous wax personage, in white muslin and cherry-colored ribbons, who,
by desire of the donor, was to be called Philippa, in honor of my uncle.
I never loved or liked dolls, though I remember taking some pride in the
splendor of this, my first-born. They always affected me with a grim
sense of being a mockery of the humanity they were supposed to
represent; there was something uncanny, not to say ghastly, in the doll
existence and its mimicry of babyhood to me, and I had a nervous
dislike, not unmixed with fear, of the smiling simulacra that girls are
all supposed to love with a species of prophetic maternal instinct.

The only member of my aunt Twiss's family of whom I remember at this
time little or nothing was the eldest son, Horace, who in subsequent
years was one of the most intimate and familiar friends of my father and
mother, and who became well known as a clever and successful public man,
and a brilliant and agreeable member of the London society of his day.

My stay of a little more than a year at Bath had but one memorable
event, in its course, to me. I was looking one evening, at bedtime, over
the banisters, from the upper story into the hall below, with tiptoe
eagerness that caused me to overbalance myself and turn over the rail,
to which I clung on the wrong side, suspended, like Victor Hugo's
miserable priest to the gutter of Notre Dame, and then fell four stories
down on the stone pavement of the hall. I was not killed, or apparently
injured, but whether I was not really irreparably damaged no human being
can possibly tell.

My next memories refer to a residence which my parents were occupying
when I returned to London, called Covent Garden Chambers, now, I
believe, celebrated as "Evans's," and where, I am told, it is
confidently affirmed that I was born, which I was not; and where, I am
told, a picture is shown that is confidently affirmed to be mine, which
it is not. My sister Adelaide was born in Covent Garden Chambers, and
the picture in question is an oil sketch, by Sir Thomas Lawrence, of my
cousin Maria Siddons; quite near the truth enough for history, private
or public. It was while we were living here that Mrs. Siddons returned
to the stage for one night, and acted Lady Randolph for my father's
benefit. Of course I heard much discourse about this, to us, important
and exciting event, and used all my small powers of persuasion to be
taken to see her.

My father, who loved me very much, and spoiled me not a little, carried
me early in the afternoon into the market-place, and showed me the dense
mass of people which filled the whole Piazza, in patient expectation of
admission to the still unopened doors. This was by way of proving to me
how impossible it was to grant my request. However that might then
appear, it was granted, for I was in the theatre at the beginning of the
performance; but I can now remember nothing of it but the appearance of
a solemn female figure in black, and the tremendous _roar_ of public
greeting which welcomed her, and must, I suppose, have terrified my
childish senses, by the impression I still retain of it; and this is the
only occasion on which I saw my aunt in public.

Another circumstance, connected in my mind with Covent Garden Chambers,
was a terrible anguish about my youngest brother, Henry, who was for
some hours lost. He was a most beautiful child, of little more than
three years old, and had been allowed to go out on the door-steps, by an
exceedingly foolish little nursery-maid, to look at the traffic of the
great market-place. Returning without him, she declared that he had
refused to come in with her, and had run to the corner of Henrietta
Street, as she averred, where she had left him, to come and fetch
authoritative assistance.

The child did not come home, and all search for him proved vain
throughout the crowded market and the adjoining thoroughfares, thronged
with people and choked with carts and wagons, and swarming with the
blocked-up traffic, which had to make its way to and from the great mart
through avenues far narrower and more difficult of access than they are
now. There were not then, either, those invaluable beings, policemen,
standing at every corner to enforce order and assist the helpless. These
then were not; and no inquiry brought back any tidings of the poor
little lost boy. My mother was ill, and I do not think she was told of
the child's disappearance, but my father went to and fro with the face
and voice of a distracted man; and I well remember the look with which
he climbed a narrow outside stair leading only to a rain-water cistern,
with the miserable apprehension that his child might have clambered up
and fallen into it. The neighborhood was stirred with sympathy for the
agony of the poor father, and pitying gossip spreading the news through
the thronged market-place, where my father's name and appearance were
familiar enough to give a strong personal feeling to the compassion
expressed. A baker's boy, lounging about, caught up the story of the
lost child, and described having seen a "pretty little chap with curly
hair, in a brown holland pinafore," in St. James's Square. Thither the
searchers flew, and the child was found, tired out with his
self-directed wandering, but apparently quite contented, fast asleep on
the door-step of one of the lordly houses of that aristocratic square.
He was so remarkably beautiful that he must have attracted attention
before long, and _might_ perhaps have been restored to his home; but God
knows what an age of horror and anguish was lived through by my father
and my poor aunt Dall in that short, miserable space of time till he was

My aunt Dall, of whom I now speak for the first time, was my mother's
sister, and had lived with us, I believe, ever since I was born. Her
name was Adelaide, but the little fellow whose adventure I have just
related, stumbling over this fine Norman appellation, turned it into
Idallidy, and then conveniently shortened it of its two extremities and
made it Dall, by which title she was called by us, and known to all our
friends, and beloved by all who ever spoke or heard it. Her story was as
sad a one as could well be; yet to my thinking she was one of the
happiest persons I have ever known, as well as one of the best. She was
my mother's second sister, and as her picture, taken when she was
twenty, shows (and it was corroborated by her appearance till upward of
fifty), she was extremely pretty. Obliged, as all the rest of her family
were, to earn her own bread, and naturally adopting the means of doing
so that they did, she went upon the stage; but I can not conceive that
her nature can ever have had any affinity with her occupation. She had a
robust and rather prosaic common-sense, opposed to any thing exaggerated
or sentimental, which gave her an excellent judgment of character and
conduct, a strong genial vein of humor which very often made her
repartees witty as well as wise, and a sunny sweetness of temper and
soundness of moral nature that made her as good as she was easy and
delightful to live with. Whenever any thing went wrong, and she was
"vexed past her patience," she used to sing; it was the only indication
by which we ever knew that she was what is termed "out of sorts." She
had found employment in her profession under the kindly protection of
Mr. Stephen Kemble, my father's brother, who lived for many years at
Durham, and was the manager of the theatre there, and, according to the
fashion of that time, traveled with his company, at stated seasons, to
Newcastle, Sunderland, and other places, which formed a sort of
theatrical circuit in the northern counties, throughout which he was
well known and generally respected.

In his company my aunt Dall found employment, and in his daughter, Fanny
Kemble, since well known as Mrs. Robert Arkwright, an inseparable friend
and companion. My aunt lived with Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Kemble, who were
excellent, worthy people. They took good care of the two young girls
under their charge, this linsey-woolsey Rosalind and Celia--their own
beautiful and most rarely endowed daughter, and her light-hearted,
lively companion; and I suppose that a merrier life than that of these
lasses, in the midst of their quaint theatrical tasks and homely
household duties, was seldom led by two girls in any sphere of life.
They learned and acted their parts, devised and executed, with small
means and great industry, their dresses; made pies and puddings, and
patched and darned, in the morning, and by dint of paste and rouge
became heroines in the evening; and withal were well-conducted, good
young things, full of the irrepressible spirits of their age, and
turning alike their hard home work and light stage labor into fun. Fanny
had inherited the beauty of her father's family, which in her most
lovely countenance had a character of childlike simplicity and serene
sweetness that made it almost angelic.

Far on in middle age she retained this singularly tender beauty, which
added immensely to the exquisite effect of her pathetic voice in her
incomparable rendering of the ballads she composed (the poetry as well
as the music being often her own), and to which her singing of them gave
so great a fashion at one time in the great London world. It was in vain
that far better musicians, with far finer voices, attempted to copy her
inimitable musical recitation; nobody ever sang like her, and still less
did anybody ever look like her while she sang. Practical jokes of very
doubtful taste were the fashion of that day, and remembering what
wonderfully coarse and silly proceedings were then thought highly
diverting by "vastly genteel" people, it is not, perhaps, much to be
wondered at that so poor a piece of wit as this should have furnished
diversion to a couple of light-hearted girls, with no special
pretensions to elegance or education. Once they were driving together in
a post-chaise on the road to Newcastle, and my aunt, having at hand in a
box part of a military equipment intended for some farce, accoutred her
upper woman in a soldier's cap, stock, and jacket, and, with heavily
corked mustaches, persisted in embracing her companion, whose frantic
resistance, screams of laughter, and besmirched cheeks, elicited
comments of boundless amazement, in broad north-country dialect, from
the market folk they passed on the road, to whom they must have appeared
the most violent runaway couple that ever traveled.

Liston, the famous comedian, was at this time a member of the Durham
company, and though he began his career there by reciting Collins's "Ode
to the Passions," attired in a pea-green coat, buckskins, top-boots, and
powder, with a scroll in his hand, and followed up this essay of his
powers with the tragic actor's battle-horse, the part of Hamlet, he soon
found his peculiar gift to lie in the diametrically opposite direction
of broad farce. Of this he was perpetually interpolating original
specimens in the gravest performances of his fellow-actors; on one
occasion suddenly presenting to Mrs. Stephen Kemble, as she stood
disheveled at the side scene, ready to go on the stage as Ophelia in her
madness, a basket with carrots, turnips, onions, leeks, and pot-herbs,
instead of the conventional flowers and straws of the stage maniac,
which sent the representative of the fair Ophelia on in a broad grin,
with ill-suppressed fury and laughter, which must have given quite an
original character of verisimilitude to the insanity she counterfeited.

On another occasion he sent all the little chorister boys on, in the
lugubrious funeral procession in "Romeo and Juliet," with pieces of
brown paper in their hands to wipe their tears with.

The suppression of that very dreadful piece of stage pageantry has at
last, I believe, been conceded to the better taste of modern audiences;
but even in my time it was still performed, and an exact representation
of a funeral procession, such as one meets every day in Rome, with
torch-bearing priests, and bier covered with its black-velvet pall,
embroidered with skull and cross-bones, with a corpse-like figure
stretched upon it, marched round the stage, chanting some portion of the
fine Roman Catholic requiem music. I have twice been in the theatre when
persons have been seized with epilepsy during that ghastly exhibition,
and think the good judgment that has discarded such a mimicry of a
solemn religious ceremony highly commendable.

Another evening, Liston, having painted Fanny Kemble's face like a
clown's, posted her at one of the stage side doors to confront her
mother, poor Mrs. Stephen Kemble, entering at the opposite one to
perform some dismally serious scene of dramatic pathos, who, on suddenly
beholding this grotesque apparition of her daughter, fell into
convulsions of laughter and coughing, and half audible exclamations of
"Go away, Fanny! I'll tell your father, miss!" which must have had the
effect of a sudden seizure of madness to the audience, accustomed to the
rigid decorum of the worthy woman in the discharge of her theatrical

Long after these provincial exploits, and when he had become the
comedian _par excellence_ of the English stage, for which eminence
nature and art had alike qualified him by the imperturbable gravity of
his extraordinarily ugly face, which was such an irresistibly comical
element in his broadest and most grotesque performances, Mr. Liston used
to exert his ludicrous powers of tormenting his fellow-actors in the
most cruel manner upon that sweet singer, Miss Stephens (afterward
Countess of Essex). She had a curious nervous trick of twitching her
dress before she began to sing; this peculiarity was well known to all
her friends, and Liston, who certainly was one of them, used to agonize
the poor woman by standing at the side scene, while the symphony of her
pathetic ballads was being played, and indicating by his eyes and
gestures that something was amiss with the trimming or bottom of her
dress; when, as invariably as he chose to play the trick, poor Miss
Stephens used to begin to twitch and catch at her petticoat, and half
hysterical, between laughing and crying, would enchant and entrance her
listeners with her exquisite voice and pathetic rendering of "Savourneen
Deelish" or "The Banks of Allan Water."


Two young men, officers of a militia regiment, became admirers of the
two young country actresses: how long an acquaintance existed before the
fact became evident that they were seriously paying their addresses to
the girls, I do not know; nor how long the struggle lasted between pride
and conventional respectability on the part of the young men's families
and the pertinacity of their attachment.

Fanny Kemble's suitor, Robert Arkwright, had certainly no pretensions to
dignity of descent, and the old Derbyshire barber, Sir Richard, or his
son could hardly have stood out long upon that ground, though the
immense wealth realized by their ingenuity and industry was abundant
worldly reason for objections to such a match, no doubt.

However that may be, the opposition was eventually overcome by the
determination of the lovers, and they were married; while to the others
a far different fate was allotted. The young man who addressed my aunt,
whose name I do not know, was sent for by his father, a wealthy
Yorkshire squire, who, upon his refusing to give up his mistress,
instantly assembled all the servants and tenants, and declared before
them all that the young gentleman, his son (and supposed heir), was
illegitimate, and thenceforth disinherited and disowned. He enlisted and
went to India, and never saw my aunt again. Mrs. Arkwright went home to
Stoke, to the lovely house and gardens in the Peak of Derbyshire, to
prosperity and wealth, to ease and luxury, and to the love of husband
and children. Later in life she enjoyed, in her fine mansion of Sutton,
the cordial intimacy of the two great county magnates, her neighbors,
the Dukes of Rutland and Devonshire, the latter of whom was her admiring
and devoted friend till her death. In the society of the high-born and
gay and gifted with whom she now mixed, and among whom her singular
gifts made her remarkable, the enthusiasm she excited never impaired the
transparent and childlike simplicity and sincerity of her nature. There
was something very peculiar about the single-minded, simple-hearted
genuineness of Mrs. Arkwright which gave an unusual charm of
unconventionality and fervid earnestness to her manner and conversation.
I remember her telling me, with the most absolute conviction, that she
thought wives were bound implicitly to obey their husbands, for she
believed that at the day of judgment husbands would be answerable for
their wives' souls.

It was in the midst of a life full of all the most coveted elements of
worldly enjoyment, and when she was still beautiful and charming, though
no longer young, that I first knew her. Her face and voice were heavenly
sweet, and very sad; I do not know why she made so profoundly melancholy
an impression upon me, but she was so unlike all that surrounded her,
that she constantly suggested to me the one live drop of water in the
middle of a globe of ice. The loss of her favorite son affected her with
irrecoverable sorrow, and she passed a great portion of the last years
of her life at a place called Cullercoats, a little fishing village on
the north coast, to which when a young girl she used to accompany her
father and mother for rest and refreshment, when the hard life from
which her marriage released her allowed them a few days' respite by the
rocks and sands and breakers of the Northumberland shore. The Duke of
Devonshire, whose infirmity of deafness did not interfere with his
enjoyment of music, was an enthusiastic admirer of Mrs. Arkwright, and
her constant and affectionate friend. Their proximity of residence in
Derbyshire made their opportunities of meeting very frequent, and when
the Arkwrights visited London, Devonshire House was, if they chose it,
their hotel. His attachment to her induced him, towards the end of his
life, to take a residence in the poor little village of Cullercoats,
whither she loved to resort, and where she died. I possess a copy of a
beautiful drawing of a head of Mrs. Arkwright, given to me by the duke,
for whom the original was executed. It is only a head, with the eyes
raised to heaven, and the lips parted, as in the act of singing; and the
angelic sweetness of the countenance may perhaps suggest, to those who
never heard her, the voice that seemed like that face turned to sound.

So Fanny Kemble married, and Adelaide Decamp came and lived with us, and
was the good angel of our home. All intercourse between the two (till
then inseparable companions) ceased for many years, and my aunt began
her new life with a bitter bankruptcy of love and friendship, happiness
and hope, that would have dried the sap of every sweet affection, and
made even goodness barren, in many a woman's heart for ever.

Without any home but my father's house, without means of subsistence but
the small pittance which he was able to give her, in most grateful
acknowledgment of her unremitting care of us, without any joys or hopes
but those of others, without pleasure in the present or expectation in
the future, apparently without memory of the past, she spent her whole
life in the service of my parents and their children, and lived and
moved and had her being in a serene, unclouded, unvarying atmosphere of
cheerful, self-forgetful content that was heroic in its absolute
unconsciousness. She is the only person I can think of who appeared to
me to have fulfilled Wordsworth's conception of

    "Those blessed ones who do God's will and know it not."

I have never seen either man or woman like her, in her humble
excellence, and I am thankful that, knowing what the circumstances of
her whole life were, she yet seems to me the happiest human being I have
known. She died, as she had lived, in the service of others. When I went
with my father to America, my mother remained in England, and my aunt
came with us, to take care of me. She died in consequence of the
overturning of a carriage (in which we were travelling), from which she
received a concussion of the spine; and her last words to me, after a
night of angelic endurance of restless fever and suffering, were, "Open
the window; let in the blessed light"--almost the same as Goethe's, with
a characteristic difference. It was with the hope of giving her the
proceeds of its publication, as a token of my affectionate gratitude,
that I printed my American journal; that hope being defeated by her
death, I gave them, for her sake, to her younger sister, my aunt
Victoire Decamp. This sister of my mother's was, when we were living in
Covent Garden Chambers, a governess in a school at Lea, near Blackheath.

The school was kept by ladies of the name of Guinani, sisters to the
wife of Charles Young--the Julia so early lost, so long loved and
lamented by him. I was a frequent and much-petted visitor to their
house, which never fulfilled the austere purpose implied in its name to
me, for all my days there were holidays; and I remember hours of special
delight passed in a large drawing-room where two fine cedars of Lebanon
threw grateful gloom into the windows, and great tall china jars of
pot-pourri filled the air with a mixed fragrance of roses and (as it
seemed to me) plum-pudding, and where hung a picture, the contemplation
of which more than once moved me to tears, after I had been given to
understand that the princely personage and fair-headed baby in a boat in
the midst of a hideous black sea, overhung by a hideous black sky, were
Prospero, the good Duke of Milan, and his poor little princess daughter,
Miranda, cast forth by wicked relations to be drowned.

It was while we were still living in Covent Garden Chambers that Talma,
the great French actor, came to London. He knew both my uncle and my
father, and was highly esteemed and greatly admired by both of them. He
called one day upon my father, when nobody was at home, and the servant
who opened the door holding me by the hand, the famous French actor, who
spoke very good English, though not without the "pure Parisian accent,"
took some kind of notice of me, desiring me to be sure and remember his
name, and tell my father that Mr. Talma, the great French tragedian, had
called. I replied that I would do so, and then added, with noble
emulation, that my father was also a great tragedian, and my uncle was
also a great tragedian, and that we had a baby in the nursery who I
thought must be a great tragedian too, for she did nothing but cry, and
what was that if not tragedy?--which edifying discourse found its way
back to my mother, to whom Talma laughingly repeated it. I have heard my
father say that on the occasion of this visit of Talma's to London, he
consulted my uncle on the subject of acting in English. Hamlet was one
of his great parts, and he made as fine a thing of Ducis' cold, and
stiff, and formal adaptation of Shakespeare's noble work as his meagre
material allowed; but, as I have said before, he spoke English well, and
thought it not impossible to undertake the part in the original
language. My uncle, however, strongly dissuaded him from it, thinking
the decided French accent an insuperable obstacle to his success, and
being very unwilling that he should risk by a failure in the attempt his
deservedly high reputation. A friend of mine, at a dinner party, being
asked if she had seen Mr. Fechter in Hamlet, replied in the negative,
adding that she did not think she should relish Shakespeare declaimed
with a foreign accent. The gentleman who had questioned her said, "Ah,
very true indeed--perhaps not;" then, looking attentively at his plate,
from which I suppose he drew the inspiration of what followed, he added,
"And yet--after all, you know, Hamlet was a foreigner." This view of the
case had probably not suggested itself to John Kemble, and so he
dissuaded Talma from the experiment. While referring to Mr. Fechter's
personification of Hamlet, and the great success which it obtained in
the fashionable world, I wish to preserve a charming instance of naïve
ignorance in a young guardsman, seduced by the enthusiasm of the gay
society of London into going, for once, to see a play of Shakespeare's.
After sitting dutifully through some scenes in silence, he turned to a
fellow-guardsman, who was painfully looking and listening by his side,
with the grave remark, "I say, George, _dooced_ odd play this; its all
full of quotations." The young military gentleman had occasionally, it
seems, heard Shakespeare quoted, and remembered it.

To return to my story. About this time it was determined that I should
be sent to school in France. My father was extremely anxious to give me
every advantage that he could, and Boulogne, which was not then the
British Alsatia it afterwards became, and where there was a girl's
school of some reputation, was chosen as not too far from home to send a
mite seven years old, to acquire the French language and begin her
education. And so to Boulogne I went, to a school in the oddly named
"Rue tant perd tant paie," in the old town, kept by a rather sallow and
grim, but still vivacious old Madame Faudier, with the assistance of her
daughter, Mademoiselle Flore, a bouncing, blooming beauty of a discreet
age, whose florid complexion, prominent black eyes, plaited and
profusely pomatumed black hair, and full, commanding figure, attired for
fête days, in salmon-colored merino, have remained vividly impressed
upon my memory. What I learned here except French (which I could not
help learning), I know not. I was taught music, dancing, and Italian,
the latter by a Signor Mazzochetti, an object of special detestation to
me, whose union with Mademoiselle Flore caused a temporary fit of
rejoicing in the school. The small seven-year-old beginnings of such
particular humanities I mastered with tolerable success, but if I may
judge from the frequency of my _penitences_, humanity in general was not
instilled into me without considerable trouble. I was a sore torment, no
doubt, to poor Madame Faudier, who, on being once informed by some
alarmed passers in the street that one of her "demoiselles" was
perambulating the house roof, is reported to have exclaimed, in a
paroxysm of rage and terror, "Ah, ce ne peut etre que cette _diable_ de
Kemble!" and sure enough it was I. Having committed I know not what
crime, I had been thrust for chastisement into a lonely garret, where,
having nothing earthly to do but look about me, I discovered (like a
prince in the Arabian Nights) a ladder leading to a trap-door, and
presently was out on a sort of stone coping, which ran round the steep
roof of the high, old-fashioned house, surveying with serene
satisfaction the extensive prospect landward and seaward, unconscious
that I was at the same time an object of terror to the beholders in the
street below. Snatched from the perilous delight of this bad eminence, I
was (again, I think, rather like the Arabian prince) forthwith plunged
into the cellar; where I curled myself up on the upper step, close to
the heavy door that had been locked upon me, partly for the comfort of
the crack of light that squeezed itself through it, and partly, I
suppose, from some vague idea that there was no bottom to the steps,
derived from my own terror rather than from any precise historical
knowledge of oubliettes and donjons, with the execrable treachery of
stairs suddenly ending in mid-darkness over an abyss. I suppose I
suffered a martyrdom of fear, for I remember upwards of thirty years
afterwards having this very cellar, and my misery in it, brought before
my mind suddenly, with intense vividness, while reading, in Victor
Hugo's Notre Dame, poor Esmeralda's piteous entreaties for deliverance
from her underground prison: "Oh laissez moi sortir! j'ai froid! j'ai
peur! et des bêtes me montent le long du corps." The latter hideous
detail certainly completes the exquisite misery of the picture. Less
justifiable than banishment to lonely garrets, whence egress was to be
found only by the roof, or dark incarceration in cellars whence was no
egress at all, was another device, adopted to impress me with the evil
of my ways, and one which seems to me so foolish in its cruelty, that
the only amazement is, how anybody entrusted with the care of children
could dream of any good result from such a method of impressing a little
girl not eight years old. There was to be an execution in the town of
some wretched malefactor, who was condemned to be guillotined, and I was
told that I should be taken to see this supreme act of legal
retribution, in order that I might know to what end evil courses
conducted people. We all remember the impressive fable of "Don't Care,"
who came to be hanged, but I much doubt if any of the thousands of young
Britons whose bosoms have been made to thrill with salutary terror at
his untimely end were ever taken by their parents and guardians to see a
hanging, by way of enforcing the lesson. Whether it was ever intended
that I should witness the ghastly spectacle of this execution, or
whether it was expressly contrived that I should come too late, I know
not; it is to be hoped that my doing so was not accidental, but
mercifully intentional. Certain it is, that when I was taken to the
Grande Place the slaughter was over; but I saw the guillotine, and
certain gutters running red with what I was told (whether truly or not)
was blood, and a sad-looking man, busied about the terrible machine,
who, it was said, was the executioner's son; all which lugubrious
objects, no doubt, had their due effect upon my poor childish
imagination and nervous system, with a benefit to my moral nature which
I should think highly problematical.

The experiments tried upon the minds and souls of children by those who
undertake to train them, are certainly among the most mysterious of
Heaven-permitted evils. The coarse and cruel handling of these
wonderfully complex and delicate machines by ignorant servants, ignorant
teachers, and ignorant parents, fills one with pity and with amazement
that the results of such processes should not be even more disastrous
than they are.

In the nature of many children exists a capacity of terror equalled in
its intensity only by the reticence which conceals it. The fear of
ridicule is strong in these sensitive small souls, but even that is
inadequate to account for the silent agony with which they hug the
secret of their fear. Nursery and schoolroom authorities, fonder of
power than of principle, find their account in both these tendencies,
and it is marvellous to what a point tyranny may be exercised by means
of their double influence over children, the sufferers never having
recourse to the higher parental authority by which they would be
delivered from the nightmare of silent terror imposed upon them.

The objects that excite the fears of children are often as curious and
unaccountable as their secret intensity. A child four years of age, who
was accustomed to be put to bed in a dressing-room opening into her
mother's room, and near her nursery, and was left to go to sleep alone,
from a desire that she should not be watched and lighted to sleep (or in
fact kept awake, after a very common nursery practice), endured this
discipline without remonstrance, and only years afterwards informed her
mother that she never was so left in her little bed, alone in the
darkness, without a full conviction that a large black dog was lying
under it, which terrible imagination she never so much as hinted at, or
besought for light or companionship to dispel. Miss Martineau told me
once, that a special object of horror to her, when she was a child, were
the colors of the prism, a thing in itself so beautiful, that it is
difficult to conceive how any imagination could be painfully impressed
by it; but her terror of these magical colors was such, that she used to
rush past the room, even when the door was closed, where she had seen
them reflected from the chandelier, by the sunlight, on the wall.

The most singular instance I ever knew, however, of unaccountable terror
produced in a child's mind by the pure action of its imagination, was
that of a little boy who overheard a conversation between his mother and
a friend upon the subject of the purchase of some stuff, which she had
not bought, "because," said she, "it was ell wide." The words "ell
wide," perfectly incomprehensible to the child, seized upon his fancy,
and produced some image of terror by which for a long time his poor
little mind was haunted. Certainly this is a powerful instance, among
innumerable and striking ones, of the fact that the fears of children
are by no means the result of the objects of alarm suggested to them by
the ghost-stories, bogeys, etc., of foolish servants and companions;
they quite as often select or create their terrors for themselves, from
sources so inconceivably strange, that all precaution proves ineffectual
to protect them from this innate tendency of the imaginative faculty.
This "ell wide" horror is like something in a German story. The strange
aversion, coupled with a sort of mysterious terror, for beautiful and
agreeable or even quite commonplace objects, is one of the secrets of
the profound impression which the German writers of fiction produce. It
belongs peculiarly to their national genius, some of whose most striking
and thrilling conceptions are pervaded with this peculiar form of the
sentiment of fear. Hoffman and Tieck are especially powerful in their
use of it, and contrive to give a character of vague mystery to simple
details of prosaic events and objects, to be found in no other works of
fiction. The terrible conception of the _Doppelgänger_, which exists in
a modified form as the wraith of Scottish legendary superstition, is
rendered infinitely more appalling by being taken out of its misty
highland half-light of visionary indefiniteness, and produced in
frock-coat and trousers, in all the shocking distinctness of
commonplace, everyday, contemporary life. The Germans are the only
people whose imaginative faculty can cope with the homeliest forms of
reality, and infuse into them _vagueness_, that element of terror most
alien from familiar things. That they may be tragic enough we know, but
that they have in them a mysterious element of terror of quite
indefinite depth, German writers alone know how to make us feel.

I do not think that in my own instance the natural cowardice with which
I was femininely endowed was unusually or unduly cultivated in
childhood; but with a highly susceptible and excitable nervous
temperament and ill-regulated imagination, I have suffered from every
conceivable form of terror; and though, for some inexplicable reason, I
have always had the reputation of being fearless, have really, all my
life, been extremely deficient in courage.

Very impetuous, and liable to be carried away by any strong emotion, my
entire want of self-control and prudence, I suppose, conveyed the
impression that I was equally without fear; but the truth is that, as a
wise friend once said to me, I have always been "as rash and as cowardly
as a child;" and none of my sex ever had a better right to apply to
herself Shakespeare's line--

    "A woman, naturally born to fears."

The only agreeable impression I retain of my school-days at Boulogne is
that of the long half-holiday walks we were allowed to indulge in. Not
the two-and-two, dull, dreary, daily procession round the ramparts, but
the disbanded freedom of the sunny afternoon, spent in gathering
wild-flowers along the pretty, secluded valley of the Liane, through
which no iron road then bore its thundering freight. Or, better still,
clambering, straying, playing hide-and-seek, or sitting telling and
hearing fairy tales among the great carved blocks of stone, which lay,
in ignominious purposelessness, around the site on the high, grassy
cliff where Napoleon the First--the Only--had decreed that his triumphal
pillar should point its finger of scorn at our conquered, "pale-faced
shores." Best of all, however, was the distant wandering, far out along
the sandy dunes, to what used to be called "La Gárenne;" I suppose
because of the wild rabbits that haunted it, who--hunted and rummaged
from their burrows in the hillocks of coarse grass by a pitiless pack of
school-girls--must surely have wondered after our departure, when they
came together stealthily, with twitching noses, ears, and tails, what
manner of fiendish visitation had suddenly come and gone, scaring their
peaceful settlement on the silent, solitary sea-shore.

Before I left Boulogne, the yearly solemnity of the distribution of
prizes took place. This was, at Madame Faudier's, as at all French
schools of that day, a most exciting event. Special examinations
preceded it, for which the pupils prepared themselves with diligent
emulation. The prefect, the sub-prefect, the mayor, the bishop, all the
principal civil and religious authorities of the place, were invited to
honor the ceremony with their presence. The courtyard of the house was
partly inclosed, and covered over with scaffoldings, awnings, and
draperies, under which a stage was erected, and this, together with the
steps that led to it, was carpeted with crimson, and adorned with a
profusion of flowers. One of the dignified personages, seated around a
table on which the books designed for prizes were exhibited, pronounced
a discourse commendatory of past efforts and hortatory to future ones,
and the pupils, all _en grande toilette_, and seated on benches facing
the stage, were summoned through the rows of admiring parents, friends,
acquaintances, and other invited guests, to receive the prizes awarded
for excellence in the various branches of our small curriculum. I was
the youngest girl in the school, but I was a quick, clever child, and a
lady, a friend of my family, who was present, told me many years after,
how well she remembered the frequent summons to the dais received by a
small, black-eyed damsel, the _cadette_ of the establishment. I have
considerable doubt that any good purpose could be answered by this
public appeal to the emulation of a parcel of school-girls; but I have
no doubt at all that abundant seeds of vanity, self-love, and love of
display, were sown by it, which bore their bad harvest many a long year

I left Boulogne when I was almost nine years old, and returned home,
where I remained upwards of two years before being again sent to school.
During this time we lived chiefly at a place called Craven Hill,
Bayswater, where we occupied at different periods three different

My mother always had a detestation of London, which I have cordially
inherited. The dense, heavy atmosphere, compounded of smoke and fog,
painfully affected her breathing and oppressed her spirits; and the
deafening clangor of its ceaseless uproar irritated her nerves and
distressed her in a manner which I invariably experience whenever I am
compelled to pass any time in that huge Hubbub. She perpetually yearned
for the fresh air and the quiet of the country. Occupied as my father
was, however, this was an impossible luxury; and my poor mother escaped
as far as her circumstances would allow from London, and towards the
country, by fixing her home at the place I have mentioned. In those days
Tyburnia did not exist; nor all the vast region of Paddingtonian London.
Tyburn turnpike, of nefarious memory, still stood at the junction of
Oxford Road and the Edgeware Road, and between the latter and Bayswater
open fields traversed by the canal, with here and there an isolated
cottage dotted about them, stretched on one side of the high-road; and
on the other, the untidy, shaggy, ravelled-looking selvage of Hyde Park;
not trimmed with shady walks and flower borders and smooth grass and
bright iron railing as now, but as forbidding in its neglected aspect as
the desolate stretch of uninclosed waste on the opposite side.

About a mile from Tyburn Gate a lane turned off on the right, following
which one came to a meadow, with a path across its gentle rise which led
to the row of houses called Craven Hill. I do not think there were
twenty in all, and some of them, such as Lord Ferrar's and the Harley
House, were dwellings of some pretension. Even the most modest of them
had pretty gardens in front and behind, and verandas and balconies with
flowering creepers and shrubberies, and a general air of semi-rurality
that cheated my poor mother with a make-believe effect of being, if not
in the country, at any rate out of town. And infinite were the devices
of her love of elegance and comfort produced from the most unpromising
materials, but making these dwellings of ours pretty and pleasant beyond
what could have been thought possible. She had a peculiar taste and
talent for furnishing and fitting up; and her means being always very
limited, her zeal was great for frequenting sales, where she picked up
at reasonable prices quaint pieces of old furniture, which she brought
with great triumph to the assistance of the commonplace upholstery of
our ready-furnished dwellings. Nobody ever had such an eye for the
disposal of every article in a room, at once for greatest convenience
and best appearance; and I never yet saw the apartment into which by her
excellent arrangement she did not introduce an element of comfort and
elegance--a liveable look, which the rooms of people unendowed with that
special faculty never acquire, and never retain, however handsome or
finely fitted up they may be. I am sorry to be obliged to add, however,
that she had a rage for moving her furniture from one place to another,
which never allowed her to let well alone; and not unfrequently her mere
desire for change destroyed the very best results of her own good taste.
We never knew when we might find the rooms a perfect chaos of disorder,
with every chair, table, and sofa "dancing the hayes" in horrid
confusion; while my mother, crimson and dishevelled with pulling and
pushing them hither and thither, was breathlessly organizing new
combinations. Nor could anything be more ludicrous than my father's
piteous aspect, on arriving in the midst of this _remue-ménage_, or the
poor woman's profound mortification when, finding everything moved from
its last position (for the twentieth time), he would look around, and,
instead of all the commendation she expected, exclaim in dismay, "Why,
bless my soul! what has happened to the room, _again_!" Our furniture
played an everlasting game of puss in the corner; and I am thankful that
I have inherited some of my mother's faculty of arranging, without any
of her curious passion for changing the aspect of her rooms.

A pretty, clever, and rather silly and affected woman, Mrs. Charles
M----, who had a great passion for dress, was saying one day to my
mother, with a lackadaisical drawl she habitually made use of, "What do
you do when you have a headache, or are bilious, or cross, or nervous,
or out of spirits? I always change my dress; it does me so much good!"
"Oh," said my mother, briskly, "I change the furniture." I think she
must have regarded it as a panacea for all the ills of life. Mrs.
Charles M---- was the half-sister of that amiable woman and admirable
actress, Miss Kelly.

To return to Craven Hill. A row of very fine elm trees was separated
only by the carriage-road from the houses, whose front windows looked
through their branches upon a large, quiet, green meadow, and beyond
that to an extensive nursery garden of enchanting memory, where our
weekly allowances were expended in pots of violets and flower-seeds and
roots of future fragrance, for our small gardens: this pleasant
foreground divided us from the Bayswater Road and Kensington Gardens. At
the back of the houses and their grounds stretched a complete open of
meadow land, with hedgerows and elm trees, and hardly any building in
sight in any direction. Certainly this was better than the smoke and din
of London. To my father, however, the distance was a heavy increase of
his almost nightly labor at the theatre. Omnibuses were no part of
London existence then; a hackney coach (there were no cabs, either
four-wheelers or hansoms) was a luxury to be thought of only
occasionally, and for part of the way; and so he generally wound up his
hard evening's work with a five miles' walk from Covent Garden to Craven

It was perhaps the inconvenience of this process that led to our taking,
in addition to our "rural" residence, a lodging in Gerard Street, Soho.
The house immediately fronts Anne Street, and is now a large
establishment for the sale of lamps. It was a handsome old house, and at
one time belonged to the "wicked" Lord Lyttleton. At the time I speak
of, we occupied only a part of it, the rest remaining in the possession
of the proprietor, who was a picture-dealer, and his collection of dusky
_chefs-d'oeuvre_ covered the walls of the passages and staircases with
dark canvas, over whose varnished surface ill-defined figures and
ill-discerned faces seemed to flit, as with some trepidation I ran past
them. The house must have been a curious as well as a very large one;
but I never saw more of it than our own apartments, which had some
peculiarities that I remember. Our dining-room was a very large, lofty,
ground-floor room, fitted up partially as a library with my father's
books, and having at the farther end, opposite the windows, two heavy,
fluted pillars, which gave it rather a dignified appearance. My mother's
drawing-room, which was on the first floor and at the back of the house,
was oval in shape and lighted only by a skylight; and one entrance to it
was through a small anteroom or boudoir, with looking-glass doors and
ceiling all incrusted with scrolls and foliage and _rococo_ Louis Quinze
style of ornamentation, either in plaster or carved in wood and painted
white. There were back staircases and back doors without number, leading
in all directions to unknown regions; and the whole house, with its
remains of magnificence and curious lumber of objects of art and
_vertu_, was a very appropriate frame for the traditional ill-repute of
its former noble owner.

A ludicrous circumstance enough, I remember, occurred, which produced no
little uproar and amusement in one of its dreariest chambers. My brother
John was at this time eagerly pursuing the study of chemistry for his
own amusement, and had had an out-of-the-way sort of spare bedroom
abandoned to him for his various ill savored materials and scientific
processes, from which my mother suffered a chronic terror of sudden
death by blowing up. There was a monkey in the house, belonging to our
landlord, and generally kept confined in his part of it, whence the
knowledge of his existence only reached us through anecdotes brought by
the servants. One day, however, an alarm was spread that the monkey had
escaped from his own legitimate quarters and was running wild over the
house. Chase was given, and every hole and corner searched in vain for
the mischievous ape, who was at length discovered in what my brother
dignified by the title of his laboratory, where, in a frenzy of gleeful
activity, he was examining first one bottle and then another; finally he
betook himself, with indescribably grotesque grinnings and chatterings,
to uncorking and sniffing at them, and then pouring their contents
deliberately out on the (luckily carpetless) floor,--a joke which might
have had serious results for himself, as well as the house, if he had
not in the midst of it suffered ignoble capture and been led away to his
own quarters; my mother that time, certainly, escaping imminent "blowing

While we were living in Gerard Street, my uncle Kemble came for a short
time to London from Lausanne, where he had fixed his residence--compelled
to live abroad, under penalty of seeing the private fortune he had
realized by a long life of hard professional labor swept into the ruin
which had fallen upon Covent Garden Theatre, of which he was part
proprietor. And I always associate this my only recollection of his
venerable white hair and beautiful face, full of an expression of most
benign dignity, with the earliest mention I remember of that luckless
property, which weighed like an incubus upon my father all his life, and
the ruinous burden of which both I and my sister successively endeavored
in vain to prop.

My mother at this time gave lessons in acting to a few young women who
were preparing themselves for the stage; and I recollect very well the
admiration my uncle expressed for the beauty of one of them, an
extremely handsome Miss Dance, who, I think, came out successfully, but
soon married, and relinquished her profession.

This young lady was the daughter of a violinist and musical composer,
whose name has a place in my memory from seeing it on a pretty musical
setting for the voice of some remarkably beautiful verses, the author of
which I have never been able to discover. I heard they had been taken
out of that old-fashioned receptacle for stray poetical gems, the poet's
corner of a country newspaper. I write them here as accurately as I can
from memory; it is more than fifty years since I learnt them, and I have
never met with any copy of them but that contained in the old music
sheet of Mr. Dance's duet.


    Now on their couch of rest
      Mortals are sleeping,
    While in dark, dewy vest,
      Flowerets are weeping.
    Ere the last star of night
      Fades in the fountain,
    My finger of rosy light
      Touches the mountain.

    Far on his filmy wing
      Twilight is wending,
    Shadows encompassing,
      Terrors attending:
    While my foot's fiery print,
      Up my path showing,
    Gleams with celestial tint.
      Brilliantly glowing,

    Now from my pinions fair
      Freshness is streaming,
    And from my yellow hair
      Glories are gleaming.
    Nature with pure delight
      Hails my returning,
    And Sol, from his chamber bright,
      Crowns the young morning.

My uncle John returned to Switzerland, and I never saw him again; he had
made over his share of Covent Garden to my father, and went back to live
and die in peace at his Beau Site on the Lake of Geneva.

The first time that I visited Lausanne I went to his grave, and found it
in the old burial-ground above the town, where I wonder the dead have
patience to lie still, for the glorious beauty of the view their
resting-place commands. It was one among a row of graves with broad,
flat tombstones bearing English names, and surrounded with iron
railings, and flowers more or less running wild.

My father received the property my uncle transferred to him with
cheerful courage, and not without sanguine hopes of retrieving its
fortunes: instead of which, it destroyed his and those of his family;
who, had he and they been untrammelled by the fatal obligation of
working for a hopelessly ruined concern, might have turned their labors
to far better personal account. Of the eighty thousand pounds which my
uncle sank in building Covent Garden, and all the years of toil my
father and myself and my sister sank in endeavoring to sustain it,
nothing remained to us at my father's death; not even the ownership of
the only thing I ever valued the property for,--the private box which
belonged to us, the yearly rent of which was valued at three hundred
pounds, and the possession of which procured us for several years many
evenings of much enjoyment.

The only other recollection I have connected with Gerard Street is that
of certain passages from "Paradise Lost," read to me by my father, the
sonorous melody of which so enchanted me, that for many years of my life
Milton was to me incomparably the first of English poets; though at this
time of my earliest acquaintance with him, Walter Scott had precedence
over him, and was undoubtedly in my opinion greatest of mortal and
immortal bards. His "Marmion" and "Lay of the Last Minstrel" were
already familiar to me. Of Shakespeare at this time, and for many
subsequent years, I knew not a single line.

While our lodging in town was principally inhabited by my father and
resorted to by my mother as a convenience, my aunt Dall, and we
children, had our home at my mother's _rus in urbe_, Craven Hill, where
we remained until I went again to school in France.

Our next door neighbors were, on one side, a handsome, dashing Mrs.
Blackshaw, sister of George the Fourth's favorite, Beau Brummel, whose
daughters were good friends of ours; and on the other Belzoni, the
Egyptian traveller, and his wife, with whom we were well acquainted. The
wall that separated our gardens was upwards of six feet high,--it
reached above my father's head, who was full six feet tall,--but our
colossal friend, the Italian, looked down upon us over it quite easily,
his large handsome face showing well above it, down to his magnificent
auburn beard, which in those less hirsute days than these he seldom
exhibited, except in the privacy of his own back garden, where he used
occasionally to display it, to our immense delight and astonishment.
Great, too, was our satisfaction in visiting Madame Belzoni, who used to
receive us in rooms full of strange spoils, brought back by herself and
her husband from the East; she sometimes smoked a long Turkish pipe, and
generally wore a dark blue sort of caftan, with a white turban on her
head. Another of our neighbors here was Latour, the musical composer, to
whom, though he was personally good-natured and kind to me, I owe a
grudge, for the sake of his "Music for Young Persons," and only regret
that he was not our next-door neighbor, when he would have execrated his
own "O Dolce Concerto," and "Sul Margine d'un Rio," and all his
innumerable progeny of variations for two hands and four hands, as
heartily as I did. I do not know whether it was instigated by his advice
or not that my mother at this time made me take lessons of a certain Mr.
Laugier, who received pupils at his own house, near Russell Square, and
taught them thorough-bass and counterpoint, and the science of musical
composition. I attended his classes for some time, and still possess
books full of the grammar of music, as profound and difficult a study,
almost, as the grammar of language. But I think I was too young to
derive much benefit from so severe a science, and in spite of my books
full of musical "parsing," so to speak, declensions of chords, and
conjugations of scales, I do not think I learned much from Mr. Laugier,
and, never having followed up this beginning of the real study of music,
my knowledge of it has been only of that empirical and contemptible sort
which goes no further than the end of boarding-school young ladies'
fingers, and sometimes, at any rate, amounts to tolerably skilful and
accurate execution; a result I never attained, in spite of Mr. Laugier's
thorough-bass and a wicked invention called a chiroplast, for which, I
think, he took out a patent, and for which I suppose all luckless girls
compelled to practice with it thought he ought to have taken out a
halter. It was a brass rod made to screw across the keys, on which were
_strung_, like beads, two brass frames for the hands, with separate
little cells for the fingers, these being secured to the brass rod
precisely at the part of the instrument on which certain exercises were
to be executed. Another brass rod was made to pass under the wrist in
order to maintain it also in its proper position, and thus incarcerated,
the miserable little hands performed their daily, dreary monotony of
musical exercise, with, I imagine, really no benefit at all from the
irksome constraint of this horrid machine, that could not have been
imparted quite as well, if not better, by a careful teacher. I had,
however, no teacher at this time but my aunt Dall, and I suppose the
chiroplast may have saved her some trouble, by insuring that my
practising, which she could not always superintend, should not be merely
a process of acquiring innumerable bad habits for the exercise of the
patience of future teachers.

My aunt at this time directed all my lessons, as well as the small
beginnings of my sister's education. My brother John was at Clapham with
Mr. Richardson, who was then compiling his excellent dictionary, in
which labor he employed the assistance of such of his pupils as showed
themselves intelligent enough for the occupation; and I have no doubt
that to this beginning of philological study my brother owed his
subsequent predilection for and addiction to the science of language. My
youngest brother, Henry, went to a day-school in the neighborhood.

All children's amusements are more or less dramatic, and a theatre is a
favorite resource in most playrooms, and, naturally enough, held an
important place in ours. The printed sheets of small figures,
representing all the characters of certain popular pieces, which we
colored, and pasted on card-board and cut out, and then, by dint of long
slips of wood with a slit at one end, into which their feet were
inserted, moved on and off our small stage; the coloring of the scenery;
and all the arrangement and conduct of the pieces we represented, gave
us endless employment and amusement. My brother John was always manager
and spokesman in these performances, and when we had fitted up our
theatre with a _real_ blue silk curtain that would roll up, and a _real_
set of foot-lights that would burn, and when he contrived, with some
resin and brimstone and salt put in a cup and set on fire, to produce a
diabolical sputter and flare and bad smell, significant of the blowing
up of the mill in "The Miller and his Men," great was our exultation.
This piece and "Blue Beard" were our "battle horses," to which we
afterwards added a lugubrious melodrama called "The Gypsy's Curse" (it
had nothing whatever to do with "Guy Mannering"), of which I remember
nothing but some awful doggerel, beginning with--

    "May thy path be still in sorrow,
     May thy dark night know no morrow,"

which used to make my blood curdle with fright.

About this time I was taken for the first time to a real play, and it
was to that paradise of juvenile spectators, Astley's, where we saw a
Highland horror called "Meg Murdoch, or the Mountain Hag," and a
mythological after-piece called "Hyppolita, Queen of the Amazons," in
which young ladies in very short and shining tunics, with burnished
breastplates, helmets, spears, and shields, performed sundry warlike
evolutions round her Majesty Hyppolita, who was mounted on a snow-white
_live_ charger: in the heat of action some of these fair warriors went
so far as to die, which martial heroism left an impression on my
imagination so deep and delightful as to have proved hitherto indelible.

At length we determined ourselves to enact something worthy of notice
and approbation, and "Amoroso, King of Little Britain," was selected by
my brother John, our guide and leader in all matters of taste, for the
purpose. "Chrononhotonthologos" had been spoken of, but our youngest
performer, my sister, was barely seven years old, and I doubt if any of
us (but our manager) could have mastered the mere names of that famous
burlesque. Moreover, I think, in the piece we chose there were only four
principal characters, and we contrived to speak the words, and even sing
the songs, so much to our own satisfaction, that we thought we might
aspire to the honor of a hearing from our elders and betters. So we
produced our play before my father and mother and some of their friends,
who had good right (whatever their inclination might have been) to be
critical, for among them were Mr. and Mrs. Liston (the Amoroso and
Coquetinda of the real stage), Mr. and Mrs. Mathews, and Charles Young,
all intimate friends of my parents, whose children were our playmates,
and coadjutors in our performance.

For Charles Matthews I have always retained a kindly regard for auld
lang syne's sake, though I hardly ever met him after he went on the
stage. He was well educated, and extremely clever and accomplished, and
I could not help regretting that his various acquirements and many
advantages for the career of an architect, for which his father destined
him, should be thrown away; though it was quite evident that he followed
not only the strong bent of his inclination, but the instinct of the
dramatic genius which he inherited from his eccentric and most original
father, when he adopted the profession of the stage, where, in his own
day, he has been unrivaled in the sparkling vivacity of his performance
of a whole range of parts in which nobody has approached the finish,
refinement, and spirit of his acting. Moreover, his whole demeanor,
carriage, and manner were so essentially those of a gentleman, that the
broadest farce never betrayed him into either coarseness or vulgarity;
and the comedy he acted, though often the lightest of the light, was
never anything in its graceful propriety but high comedy. No member of
the French theatre was ever at once a more finished and a more
delightfully amusing and _natural_ actor.

Liston's son went into the army when he grew up, and I lost sight of

With the Rev. Julian Young, son of my dear old friend Charles Young, I
always remained upon the most friendly terms, meeting him with cordial
pleasure whenever my repeated returns to England brought us together,
and allowed us to renew the amicable relations that always subsisted
between us.

I remember another family friend of ours at this time, a worthy old
merchant of the name of Mitchell, who was my brother John's godfather,
and to whose sombre, handsome city house I was taken once or twice to
dinner. He was at one time very rich, but lost all his fortune in some
untoward speculation, and he used to come and pay us long, sad, silent
visits, the friendly taciturnity of which I always compassionately
attributed to that circumstance, and wished that he had not lost the use
of his tongue as well as his money.

While we were living at Craven Hill, my father's sister, Mrs. Whitelock,
came to live with us for some time. She was a very worthy but
exceedingly ridiculous woman, in whom the strong peculiarities of her
family were so exaggerated, that she really seemed like a living parody
or caricature of all the Kembles.

She was a larger and taller woman than Mrs. Siddons, and had a fine,
commanding figure at the time I am speaking of, when she was quite an
elderly person. She was like her brother Stephen in face, with handsome
features, too large and strongly marked for a woman, light gray eyes,
and a light auburn wig, which, I presume, represented the color of her
previous hair, and which, together with the tall cap that surmounted it,
was always more or less on one side. She had the deep, sonorous voice
and extremely distinct utterance of her family, and an extraordinary
vehemence of gesture and expression quite unlike their quiet dignity and
reserve of manner, and which made her conversation like that of people
in old plays and novels; for she would slap her thigh in emphatic
enforcement of her statements (which were apt to be upon an incredibly
large scale), not unfrequently prefacing them with the exclamation, "I
declare to God!" or "I wish I may die!" all which seemed to us very
extraordinary, and combined with her large size and loud voice used
occasionally to cause us some dismay. My father used to call her Queen
Bess (her name was Elizabeth), declaring that her manners were like
those of that royal _un_-gentlewoman. But she was a simple-hearted,
sweet-tempered woman, whose harmless peculiarities did not prevent us
all being fond of her.

She had a great taste and some talent for drawing, which she cultivated
with a devotion and industry unusual in so old a person. I still possess
a miniature copy she made of Clarke's life-size picture of my father as
Cromwell, which is not without merit.

She was extremely fond of cards, and taught us to play the (even then)
old-fashioned game of quadrille, which my mother, who also liked cards,
and was a very good whist player, said had more variety in it than any
modern game.

Mrs. Whitelock had been for a number of years in the United States, of
which (then comparatively little known) part of the world she used to
tell us stories that, from her characteristic exaggeration, we always
received with extreme incredulity; but my own experience, subsequent by
many years to hers, has corroborated her marvelous histories of flights
of birds that almost darkened the sun (_i.e._ threw a passing shadow as
of a cloud upon the ground), and roads with ruts and mud-holes into
which one's carriage sank up to the axle-tree.

She used to tell us anecdotes of General Washington, to whom she had
been presented and had often seen (his favorite bespeak was always "The
School for Scandal"); and of Talleyrand, whom she also had often met,
and invariably called Prince _Tallierande_. She was once terrified by
being followed at evening, in the streets of Philadelphia, by a red
Indian savage, an adventure which has many times recurred to my mind
while traversing at all hours and in all directions the streets of that
most peaceful Quaker city, distant now by more than a thousand miles
from the nearest red Indian savage. Congress was sitting in Philadelphia
at that time; it was virtually the capital of the newly made United
States, and Mrs. Whitelock held an agreeable and respectable position
both in private and in public. I have been assured by persons as well
qualified to be critics as Judge Story, Chief-Justice Kent, and Judge
Hopkinson (Moore's friend), that she was an actress of considerable
ability. Perhaps she was; her Kemble name, face, figure, and voice no
doubt helped her to produce a certain effect on the stage; but she must
have been a very imperfectly educated woman. Nothing could be droller
than to see her with Mrs. Siddons, of whom she looked like a clumsy,
badly finished, fair imitation. Her vehement gestures and violent
objurgations contrasted comically with her sister's majestic stillness
of manner; and when occasionally Mrs. Siddons would interrupt her with,
"Elizabeth, your wig is on one side," and the other replied, "Oh, is
it?" and giving the offending head-gear a shove put it quite as crooked
in the other direction, and proceeded with her discourse, Melpomene
herself used to have recourse to her snuff-box to hide the dawning smile
on her face.

I imagine that my education must have been making but little progress
during the last year of my residence at Craven Hill. I had no masters,
and my aunt Dall could ill supply the want of other teachers; moreover,
I was extremely troublesome and unmanageable, and had become a
tragically desperate young person, as my determination to poison my
sister, in revenge for some punishment which I conceived had been
unjustly inflicted upon me, will sufficiently prove. I had been warned
not to eat privet berries, as they were poisonous, and under the above
provocation it occurred to me that if I strewed some on the ground my
sister might find and eat them, which would insure her going straight to
heaven, and no doubt seriously annoy my father and mother. How much of
all this was a lingering desire for the distinction of a public
execution of guillotine (the awful glory of which still survived in my
memory), how much dregs of "Gypsy Curses" and "Mountain Hags," and how
much the passionate love of exciting a sensation and producing an
effect, common to children, servants, and most uneducated people, I know
not. I never did poison my sister, and satisfied my desire of vengeance
by myself informing my aunt of my contemplated crime, the fulfillment of
which was not, I suppose, much apprehended by my family, as no measures
were taken to remove myself, my sister, or the privet bush from each
other's neighborhood.


A quite unpremeditated inspiration which occurred to me upon being again
offended--to run away--probably alarmed my parents more than my
sororicidal projects, and I think determined them upon carrying out a
plan which had been talked of for some time, of my being sent again to
school; which plan ran a narrow risk of being defeated by my own
attempted escape from home. One day, when my father and mother were both
in London, I had started for a walk with my aunt and sister; when only a
few yards from home, I made an impertinent reply to some reproof I
received, and my aunt bade me turn back and go home, declining my
company for the rest of the walk. She proceeded at a brisk pace on her
way with my sister, nothing doubting that, when left alone, I would
retrace my steps to our house; but I stood still and watched her out of
sight, and then revolved in my own mind the proper course to pursue.

At first it appeared to me that it would be judicious, under such
smarting injuries as mine, to throw myself into a certain pond which was
in the meadow where I stood (my remedies had always rather an extreme
tendency); but it was thickly coated with green slime studded with
frogs' heads, and looked uninviting. After contemplating it for a
moment, I changed my opinion as to the expediency of getting under that
surface, and walked resolutely off towards London; not with any idea of
seeking my father and mother, but simply with that goal in view, as the
end of my walk.

Half-way thither, however, I became tired, and hot, and hungry, and
perhaps a little daunted by my own undertaking. I have said that between
Craven Hill and Tyburn turnpike there then was only a stretch of open
fields, with a few cottages scattered over them. In one of these lived a
poor woman who was sometimes employed to do needlework for us, and who,
I was sure, would give me a bit of bread and butter, and let me rest; so
I applied to her for this assistance. Great was the worthy woman's
amazement when I told her that I was alone, on my way to London; greater
still, probably, when I informed her that my intention was to apply for
an engagement at one of the theatres, assuring her that nobody with
talent need ever want for bread. She very wisely refrained from
discussing my projects, but, seeing that I was tired, persuaded me to
lie down in her little bedroom and rest before pursuing my way to town.
The weather was oppressively hot, and having lain down on her bed, I
fell fast asleep. I know not for how long, but I was awakened by the
sudden raising of the latch of the house door, and the voice of my aunt
Dall inquiring of my friendly hostess if she had seen or heard anything
of me.

I sat up breathless on the bed, listening, and looking round the room
perceived another door than the one by which I had entered it, which
would probably have given me egress to the open fields again, and
secured my escape; but before I could slip down from the bed and resume
my shoes, and take advantage of this exit, my aunt and poor Mrs. Taylor
entered the room, and I was ignominiously captured and taken home; I
expiated my offence by a week of bread and water, and daily solitary
confinement in a sort of tool-house in the garden, where my only
occupation was meditation, the "clear-obscure" that reigned in my prison
admitting of no other.

This was not cheerful, but I endeavored to make it appear as little the
reverse as possible, by invariably singing at the top of my voice
whenever I heard footsteps on the gravel walk near my place of

Finally I was released, and was guilty of no further outrage before my
departure for Paris, whither I went with my mother and Mrs. Charles
Matthews at the end of the summer.

We travelled in the _malle poste_, and I remember but one incident
connected with our journey. Some great nobleman in Paris was about to
give a grand banquet, and the _conducteur_ of our vehicle had been
prevailed upon to bring up the fish for the occasion in large hampers on
our carriage, which was then the most rapid public conveyance on the
road between the coast and the capital. The heat was intense, and the
smell of our "luggage" intolerable. My mother complained and
remonstrated in vain; the name of the important personage who was to
entertain his guests with this delectable fish was considered an
all-sufficient reply. At length the contents of the baskets began
literally to ooze out of them and stream down the sides of the carriage;
my mother threatening an appeal to the authorities at the _bureau de
poste_, and finally we got rid of our pestiferous load.

I was now placed in a school in the Rue d'Angoulême, Champs Élysées; a
handsome house, formerly somebody's private hotel, with _porte cochère_,
_cour d'honneur_, a small garden beyond, and large, lofty ground-floor
apartments opening with glass doors upon them. The name of the lady at
the head of this establishment was Rowden; she had kept a school for
several years in Hans Place, London, and among her former pupils had had
the charge of Miss Mary Russell Mitford, and that clever but most
eccentric personage, Lady Caroline Lamb. The former I knew slightly,
years after, when she came to London and was often in friendly
communication with my father, then manager of Covent Garden, upon the
subject of the introduction on the stage of her tragedy of the

The play of "Rienzi," in which Miss Mitford achieved the manly triumph
of a really successful historical tragedy, is, of course, her principal
and most important claim to fame, though the pretty collection of rural
sketches, redolent of country freshness and fragrance, called "Our
Village," precursor, in some sort, of Mrs. Gaskell's incomparable
"Cranford," is, I think, the most popular of Miss Mitford's works.

She herself has always a peculiar honor in my mind, from the exemplary
devotion of her whole life to her father, for whom her dutiful and
tender affection always seemed to me to fulfil the almost religious idea
conveyed by the old-fashioned, half-heathen phrase of "filial piety."

Lady Caroline Lamb I never saw, but from friends of mine who were well
acquainted with her I have heard manifold instances of her extraordinary
character and conduct. I remember my friend Mr. Harness telling me that,
dancing with him one night at a great ball, she had suddenly amazed him
by the challenge: "Gueth how many pairth of thtockingth I have on." (Her
ladyship lisped, and her particular graciousness to Mr. Harness was the
result of Lord Byron's school intimacy with and regard for him.) Finding
her partner quite unequal to the piece of divination proposed to him,
she put forth a very pretty little foot, from which she lifted the
petticoat ankle high, lisping out, "Thixth."

I remember my mother telling me of my father and herself meeting Mr. and
Lady Caroline Lamb at a dinner at Lord Holland's, in Paris, when
accidentally the expected arrival of Lord Byron was mentioned. Mr. Lamb
had just named the next day as the one fixed for their departure; but
Lady Caroline immediately announced her intention of prolonging her
stay, which created what would be called in the French chambers

When the party broke up, my father and mother, who occupied apartments
in the same hotel as the Lambs,--Meurice's,--were driven into the
court-yard just as Lady Caroline's carriage had drawn up before the
staircase leading to her rooms, which were immediately opposite those of
my father and mother. A _ruisseau_ or gutter ran round the court-yard,
and intervened between the carriage step and the door of the vestibule,
and Mr. Lamb, taking Lady Caroline, as she alighted, in his arms (she
had a very pretty, slight, graceful figure), gallantly lifted her over
the wet stones; which act of conjugal courtesy elicited admiring
approval from my mother, and from my father a growl to the effect, "If
you were _my_ wife I'd put your ladyship _in_ the gutter," justified
perhaps by their observation of what followed. My mother's sitting-room
faced that of Lady Caroline, and before lights were brought into it she
and my father had the full benefit of a curious scene in the room of
their opposite neighbors, who seemed quite unmindful that their
apartment being lighted and the curtains not drawn, they were, as
regarded the opposite wing of the building, a spectacle for gods and

Mr. Lamb on entering the room sat down on the sofa, and his wife perched
herself on the elbow of it with her arm round his neck, which engaging
attitude she presently exchanged for a still more persuasive one, by
kneeling at his feet; but upon his getting up, the lively lady did so
also, and in a moment began flying round the room, seizing and flinging
on the floor cups, saucers, plates,--the whole _cabaret_,--vases,
candlesticks, her poor husband pursuing and attempting to restrain his
mad moiety, in the midst of which extraordinary scene the curtains were
abruptly closed, and the domestic drama finished behind them, leaving no
doubt, however, in my father's and mother's minds that the question of
Lady Caroline's prolonged stay till Lord Byron's arrival in Paris had
caused the disturbance they had witnessed.

I never read "Glenarvon," in which, I believe, Lady Caroline is supposed
to have intended to represent her idol, Lord Byron, and the only
composition of hers with which I am acquainted is the pretty song of
"Waters of Elle," of which I think she also wrote the air. She was
undoubtedly very clever, in spite of her silliness, and possessed that
sort of attraction, often as powerful as unaccountable, which belongs
sometimes to women so little distinguished by great personal beauty,
that they have suggested the French observation that "ce sont les femmes
laides qui font les grandes passions." The European women fascinating
_par excellence_ are the Poles; and a celebrated enchantress of that
charming and fantastic race of sirens, the Countess Delphine Potocka,
always reminded me of Lady Caroline Lamb, in the descriptions given of
her by her adorers.

With Mr. Lamb I never was acquainted till long after Lady Caroline's
death--after I came out on the stage, when he was Lord Melbourne, and
Prime Minister of England. I was a very young person, and though I often
met him in society, and he took amiable and kindly notice of me, our
intercourse was, of course, a mere occasional condescension on his part.

He was exceedingly handsome, with a fine person, verging towards the
portly, and a sweet countenance, more expressive of refined, easy,
careless good-humor, than almost any face I ever saw. His beauty was of
too well born and well bred a type to be unpleasantly sensual; but his
whole face, person, expression, and manner conveyed the idea of a
pleasure-loving nature, habitually self-indulgent, and indulgent to
others. He was my _beau ideal_ of an Epicurean philosopher (supposing it
possible that an Epicurean philosopher could have consented to be Prime
Minister of England), and I confess to having read with unbounded
astonishment the statement in the "Greville Memoirs," that this apparent
prince of _poco curanti_ had taken the pains to make himself a profound
Hebrew scholar.

I retain one very vivid impression of that most charming of debonair
noblemen, Lord Melbourne. I had the honor of dining at his house once,
with the beautiful, highly gifted, and unfortunate woman with whom his
relations afterwards became subject of such cruel public scandal; and
after dinner I sat for some time opposite a large, crimson-covered
ottoman, on which Lord Melbourne reclined, surrounded by those three
enchanting Sheridan sisters, Mrs. Norton, Mrs. Blackwood (afterwards
Lady Dufferin), and Lady St. Maur (afterwards Duchess of Somerset, and
always Queen of Beauty). A more remarkable collection of comely
creatures, I think, could hardly be seen, and taking into consideration
the high rank, eminent position, and intellectual distinction of the
four persons who formed that beautiful group, it certainly was a picture
to remain impressed upon one's memory.

To return to my school-mistress, Mrs. Rowden; she was herself an
authoress, and had published a poem dedicated to Lady Bessborough (Lady
Caroline Lamb's mother), the title of which was "The pleasures of
friendship" (hope, memory, and imagination were all bespoken), of which
I remember only the two opening lines--

    "Visions of early youth, ere yet ye fade,
     Let my light pen arrest your fleeting shade."

Mrs. Rowden, during the period of her school-keeping in London, was an
ardent admirer of the stage in general and of my uncle John in
particular, of whom the mezzotint engraving as Coriolanus, from
Lawrence's picture, adorned her drawing-room in the Rue d'Angoulême,
where, however, the nature and objects of her enthusiasm had undergone a
considerable change: for when I was placed under her charge, theatres
and things theatrical had given place in her esteem to churches and
things clerical; her excitements and entertainments were Bible-meetings,
prayer-meetings, and private preachings and teachings of religion. She
was what was then termed Methodistical, what would now be designated as
very Low Church. We were taken every Sunday either to the chapel of the
embassy or to the Église de l'Oratoire (French Protestant worship), to
two and sometimes to three services; and certainly Sunday was no day of
rest to us, as we were required to write down from memory the sermons we
had heard in the course of the day, and read them aloud at our evening
devotional gathering. Some of us had a robust power of attention and
retention, and managed these reproductions with tolerable fidelity.
Others contrived to bring forth such a version of what they had heard as
closely resembled the last edition of the subject-matter of a prolonged
game of Russian scandal. Sometimes, upon an appeal to mercy and a solemn
protest that we had paid the utmost attention and _couldn't_ remember a
single sentence of the Christian exhortation we had heard, we were
allowed to choose a text and compose an original sermon of our own; and
I think a good-sized volume might have been made of homilies of my
composition, indited under these circumstances for myself and my
companions. I have always had rather an inclination for preaching, of
which these exercises were perhaps the origin, and it is but a few years
ago that I received at Saint Leonard's a visit from a tottering, feeble
old lady of near seventy, whose name, unheard since, carried me back to
my Paris school-days, and who, among other memories evoked to recall
herself to my recollection, said, "Oh, don't you remember how
good-natured you were in writing such nice sermons for me when I never
could write down what I had heard at church?" Her particular share in
these intellectual benefits conferred by me I did not remember, but I
remembered well and gratefully the sweet, silver-toned voice of her
sister, refreshing the arid atmosphere of our dreary Sunday evenings
with Handel's holy music. "I know that my Redeemer liveth," and "He
shall feed his Flock," which I heard for the first time from that gentle
schoolmate of mine, recall her meek, tranquil face and, liquid thread of
delicate soprano voice, even through the glorious associations of Jenny
Lind's inspired utterance of those divine songs. These ladies were
daughters of a high dignitary of the English Church, which made my
sermon-writing for their succor rather comical. Besides these Sunday
exercises, we were frequently taken to week-day services at the Oratoire
to hear some special preacher of celebrity, on which occasions of devout
dissipation Mrs. Rowden always appeared in the highest state of elation,
and generally received distinguished notice from the clerical hero of
the evening.

I remember accompanying her to hear Mr. Lewis Wade, a celebrated
missionary preacher, who had been to Syria and the Holy Land, and
brought thence observations on subjects sacred and profane that made his
discourses peculiarly interesting and edifying.

I was also taken to hear a much more impressive preacher, Mr. César
Malan, of Geneva, who addressed a small and select audience of very
distinguished persons, in a magnificent _salon_ in some great private
house, where every body sat on satin and gilded _fauteuils_ to receive
his admonitions, all which produced a great effect on my mind--not,
however, I think, altogether religious; but the sermon I heard, and the
striking aspect of the eloquent person who delivered it, left a strong
and long impression on my memory. It was the first fine preaching I ever
heard, and though I was undoubtedly too young to appreciate it duly, I
was, nevertheless, deeply affected by it, and it gave me my earliest
experience of that dangerous thing, emotional religion, or, to speak
more properly, religious excitement.

The Unitarians of the United States have in my time possessed a number
of preachers of most remarkable excellence; Dr. Channing, Dr. Dewey, Dr.
Bellows, my own venerable and dear pastor, Dr. Furness, Dr. Follen,
William and Henry Ware, being all men of extraordinary powers of
eloquence. At home I have heard Frederick Maurice and Dean Stanley, but
the most impressive preaching I ever heard in England was still from a
Unitarian pulpit; James Martineau, I think, surpassed all the very
remarkable men I have named in the wonderful beauty and power,
spirituality and solemnity, of his sacred teaching. Frederick Robertson,
to my infinite loss and sorrow, I never heard, having been deterred from
going to hear him by his reputation of a "fashionable preacher;" he,
better than any one, would have understood my repugnance to that species
of religious instructor.

Better, in my judgment, than these occasional appeals to our feelings
and imaginations under Mrs. Rowden's influence, was the constant _use_
of the Bible among us. I cannot call the reading and committing to
memory of the Scriptures, as we performed those duties, by the serious
name of study. But the Bible was learnt by heart in certain portions and
recited before breakfast every morning, and read aloud before bedtime
every evening by us; and though the practice may be open to some
objections, I think they hardly outweigh the benefit bestowed upon young
minds by early familiar acquaintance with the highest themes, the
holiest thoughts, and the noblest words the world possesses or ever will
possess. To me my intimate knowledge of the Bible has always seemed the
greatest benefit I derived from my school training.

Of the secular portion of the education we received, the French lady who
was Mrs. Rowden's partner directed the principal part. Our lessons of
geography, grammar, history, arithmetic, and mythology (of which latter
subject I suspect we had a much more thorough knowledge than is at all
usual with young English girls) were conducted by her.

These studies were all pursued in French, already familiar to me as the
vehicle of my elementary acquirements at Boulogne; and this soon became
the language in which I habitually wrote, spoke, and thought, to the
almost entire neglect of my native tongue, of which I never thoroughly
studied the grammar till I was between fifteen and sixteen, when, on my
presenting, in a glow of vanity, some verses of mine to my father, he
said, with his blandest smile, after reading them, "Very well, very
pretty indeed! My dear, don't you think, before you write poetry, you
had better learn grammar?" a suggestion which sent me crestfallen to a
diligent study of Lindley Murray. But grammar is perfectly uncongenial
matter to me, which my mind absolutely refuses to assimilate. I have
learned Latin, English, French, Italian, and German grammar, and do not
know a single rule of the construction of any language whatever. More
over, to the present day, my early familiar use of French produces
uncertainty in my mind as to the spelling of all words that take a
double consonant in French and only one in English, as apartment, enemy,

The men of my family--that is, my uncle John, my father, and my eldest
brother--were all philologists, and extremely fond of the study of
language. Grammar was favorite light reading, and the philosophy which
lies at the root of human speech a frequent subject of discussion and
research with them; but they none of them spoke foreign languages with
ease or fluency. My uncle was a good Latin scholar, and read French,
Italian, and Spanish, but spoke none of them; not even the first, in
spite of his long residence in French Switzerland. The same was the case
with my father, whose delight in the dry bones of language was such that
at near seventy he took the greatest pleasure in assiduously studying
the Greek grammar. My brother John, who was a learned linguist, and
familiar with the modern European languages, spoke none of them well,
not even German, though he resided for many years at Hanover, where he
was curator of the royal museum and had married a German wife, and had
among his most intimate friends and correspondents both the Grimms,
Gervinus, and many of the principal literary men of Germany. My sister
and myself, on the contrary, had remarkable facility in speaking foreign
languages with the accent and tune (if I may use the expression)
peculiar to each; a faculty which seems to me less the result of early
training and habit, than of some particular construction of ear and
throat favorable for receiving and repeating mere sounds; a musical
organization and mimetic faculty; a sort of mocking-bird specialty,
which I have known possessed in great perfection by persons with whom it
was in no way connected with the study, but only with the use of the
languages they spoke with such idiomatic ease and grace. Moreover, in my
own case, both in Italian and German, though I understand for the most
part what I read and what is said in these languages, I have had but
little exercise in speaking them, and have been amused to find myself,
while travelling, taken for an Italian as well as for a German, simply
by dint of the facility with which I imitated the accent of the people I
was among, while intrepidly confounding my moods, tenses, genders, and
cases in the determination to speak and make myself understood in the
language of whatever country I was passing through.

Mademoiselle Descuillès, Mrs. Rowden's partner, was a handsome woman of
about thirty, with a full, graceful figure, a pleasant countenance, a
great deal of playful vivacity of manner, and very determined and strict
notions of discipline. Active, energetic, intelligent, and
good-tempered, she was of a capital composition for a governess, the
sort of person to manage successfully all her pupils, and become an
object of enthusiastic devotion to the elder ones whom she admitted to
her companionship.

She almost always accompanied us when we walked, invariably presided in
the schoolroom, and very generally her eager figure and pleasant, bright
eyes were to be discovered in some corner of the playground, where, from
a semi-retirement, seated in her fauteuil with book or needlework in
hand, she exercised a quiet but effectual surveillance over her young

She was the active and efficient partner in the concern, Mrs. Rowden the
dignified and representative one. The whole of our course of study and
mode of life, with the exception of our religious training, of which I
have spoken before, was followed under her direction, and according to
the routine of most French schools.

The monastic rule of loud-reading during meals was observed, and l'Abbé
Millot's "Universal History," of blessed boring memory, was the dry
daily sauce to our diet. On Saturday we always had a half-holiday in the
afternoon, and the morning occupations were feminine rather than

Every girl brought into the schoolroom whatever useful needlework,
mending or making, her clothes required; and while one read aloud, the
others repaired or replenished their wardrobes.

Great was our satisfaction if we could prevail upon Mademoiselle
Descuillès herself to take the book in hand and become the "lectrice" of
the morning; greater still when we could persuade her, while intent upon
her own stitching, to sing to us, which she sometimes did, old-fashioned
French songs and ballads, of which I learnt from her and still remember
some that I have never since heard, that must have long ago died out of
the musical world and left no echo but in my memory. Of two of these I
think the words pretty enough to be worth preserving, the one for its
naïve simplicity, and the other for the covert irony of its reflection
upon female constancy, to which Mademoiselle Descuillès' delivery, with
her final melancholy shrug of the shoulders, gave great effect.


    Un gentil Troubadour
    Qui chante et fait la guerre,
    Revenait chez son père,
    Rêvant à son amour.

    Gages de sa valeur,
    Suspendus à son écharpe,
    Son épée, et sa harpe,
    Se croisaient sur son coeur.

    Il rencontre en chemin
    Pelerine jolie,
    Qui voyage, et qui prie,
    Un rosaire à la main.

    Colerette, à long plis,
    Cachait sa fine taille,
    Un grand chapeau de paille,
    Ombrait son teint de lys.

    "O gentil Troubadour,
    Si tu reviens fidèle,
    Chante un couplet pour celle
    Qui bénit ton retour."

    "Pardonne à mon refus
    Pelerine jolie!
    Sans avoir vu ma mie,
    Je ne chanterai plus."

    "Et ne la vois-tu pas?
    O Troubadour fidèle!
    Regarde moi--c'est elle!
    Ouvre lui donc tes bras!

    "Craignant pour notre amour,
    J'allais en pelerine,
    A la Vierge divine
    Prier pour ton retour!"

    Près des tendres amans
    S'élève une chapelle,
    L'Ermite qu'on appelle,
    Bénit leurs doux sermens

    Venez en ce saint lieu,
    Amans du voisinage,
    Faire un pelerinage
    A la Mère de Dieu!

The other ballad, though equally an illustration of the days of
chivalry, was written in a spirit of caustic contempt for the fair sex,
which suggests the bitterness of the bard's personal experience:--


    Dans un vieux château de l'Andalousie,
    Au temps où l'amour se montrait constant,
    Où Beauté, Valeur, et Galanterie
    Guidait aux combats un fidèle amant,
    Un beau chevalier un soir se présente,
    Visière baissée, et la lance en main;
    Il vient demander si sa douce amante
    N'est pas (par hasard) chez le châtelain.

    "Noble chevalier! quelle est votre amie?"
    Demande à son tour le vieux châtelain.
    "Ah! de fleurs d'amour c'est la plus jolie
    Elle a teint de rose, et peau de satin,
    Elle a de beaux yeux, dont le doux langage
    Porte en votre coeur vif enchantment,
    Elle a tout enfin--elle est belle,--et sage!"
    "Pauvre chevalier! chercherez longtemps!

    "Guidez de mes pas l'ardeur incertain,
    Où dois-je chercher ce que j'ai perdu?"
    "Mon fils, votre soit, hélas! s'en fait peine,
    Ce que vous cherchez ne se trouve plus."
    "Poursuivez, pourtant, votre long voyage,
    Et si vouz trouvez un pareil trésor--
    Ne le perdez plus! Adieu, bon voyage!"
    L'amant repartit--mais, il cherche encore.

The air of the first of these songs was a very simple and charming
little melody, which my sister, having learnt it from me, adapted to
some English words. The other was an extremely favorite _vaudeville_
air, repeated constantly in the half-singing dialogue of some of those
popular pieces.

Our Saturday sewing class was a capital institution, which made most of
us expert needle-women, developed in some the peculiarly lady-like
accomplishment of working exquisitely, and gave to all the useful
knowledge of how to make and mend our own clothes. When I left school I
could make my own dresses, and was a proficient in marking and darning.

My school-fellows were almost all English, and, I suppose, with one
exception, were young girls of average character and capacity. Elizabeth
P----, a young person from the west of England, was the only remarkable
one among them. She was strikingly handsome, both in face and figure,
and endowed with very uncommon abilities. She was several years older
than myself, and an object of my unbounded school-girl heroine worship.
A daughter of Kiallmark, the musical composer, was also eminent among us
for her great beauty, and always seemed to my girlish fancy what Mary
Queen of Scots must have looked like in her youth.

Besides pupils, Mrs. Rowden received a small number of parlor boarders,
who joined only in some of the lessons; indeed, some of them appeared to
fulfil no purpose of education whatever by their residence with her.
There were a Madame and Mademoiselle de ----, the latter of whom was
supposed, I believe, to imbibe English in our atmosphere. She bore a
well-known noble French name, and was once visited, to the immense
excitement of all "ces demoiselles," by a brother, in the uniform of the
Royal Gardes du Corps, whose looks were reported (I think rather
mythologically) to be as superb as his attire. In which case he must
have been strikingly unlike his sister, who was one of the ugliest women
I ever saw; with a disproportionately large and ill-shaped nose and
mouth, and a terrible eruption all over her face. She had, however, an
extremely beautiful figure, exquisite hands and feet, skin as white as
snow, and magnificent hair and eyes; in spite of which numerous
advantages, she was almost repulsively plain: it really seemed as if she
had been the victim of a spell, to have so beautiful a body, and so all
but hideous a face. Besides these French ladies, there was a Miss
McC----, a very delicate, elegant-looking Irishwoman, and a Miss ----,
who, in spite of her noble name, was a coarse and inelegant, but very
handsome Englishwoman. In general, these ladies had nothing to do with
us; they had privileged places at table, formed Mrs. Rowden's evening
circle in the drawing-room, and led (except at meals) a life of
dignified separation from the scholars.

I remember but two French girls in our whole company: the one was a
Mademoiselle Adèle de ----, whose father, a fanatical Anglomane, wrote a
ridiculous book about England.

The other French pupil I ought not to have called a companion, or said
that I remembered, for in truth I remember nothing but her funeral. She
died soon after I joined the school, and was buried in the cemetery of
Père la Chaise, near the tomb of Abelard and Eloïse, with rather a
theatrical sort of ceremony. She was followed to her grave by the whole
school, dressed in white, and wearing long white veils fastened round
our heads with white fillets. On each side of the bier walked three
young girls, pall-bearers, in the same maiden mourning, holding in one
hand long streamers of broad white ribbon attached to the bier, and in
the other several white narcissus blossoms.

The ghostly train and the picturesque mediæval monument, close to which
we paused and clustered to deposit the dead girl in her early
resting-place, formed a striking picture that haunted me for a long
time, and which the smell and sight of the chalk-white narcissus blossom
invariably recalls to me.

Meantime, the poetical studies, or rather indulgencies of home, had
ceased. No sonorous sounds of Milton's mighty music ever delighted my
ears, and for my almost daily bread of Scott's romantic epics I hungered
and thirsted in vain, with such intense desire, that I at length
undertook to write out "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" and "Marmion" from
memory, so as not absolutely to lose my possession of them. This task I
achieved to a very considerable extent, and found the stirring,
chivalrous stories, and spirited, picturesque verse, a treasure of
refreshment, when all my poetical diet consisted of "L'Anthologie
française à l'Usage des Demoiselles," and Voltaire's "Henriade," which I
was compelled to learn by heart, and with the opening lines of which I
more than once startled the whole dormitory at midnight, sitting
suddenly up in my bed, and from the midst of perpetual slumbers loudly

    "Je chante ce héros qui regna sur la France,
     Et par droit de conquête, et par droit de naissance."

More exciting reading was Madame Cottin's "Mathilde," of which I now got
hold for the first time, and devoured with delight, finishing it one
evening just before we were called to prayers, so that I wept bitterly
during my devotions, partly for the Norman princess and her Saracen
lover, and partly from remorse at my own sinfulness in not being able to
banish them from my thoughts while on my knees and saying my prayers.

But, to be sure, that baptism in the desert, with the only drop of water
they had to drink, seemed to me the very acme of religious fervor and
sacred self-sacrifice. I wonder what I should think of the book were I
to read it now, which Heaven forefend! The really powerful impression
made upon my imagination and feelings at this period, however, was by my
first reading of Lord Byron's poetry. The day on which I received that
revelation of the power of thought and language remained memorable to me
for many a day after.

I had occasionally received invitations from Mrs. Rowden to take tea in
the drawing-room with the lady parlor boarders, when my week's report
for "bonne conduite" had been tolerably satisfactory. One evening when I
had received this honorable distinction, and was sitting in sleepy
solemnity on the sofa, opposite my uncle John's black figure in
"Coriolanus," which seemed to grow alternately smaller and larger as my
eyelids slowly drew themselves together and suddenly opened wide, with a
startled consciousness of unworthy drowsiness, Miss H----, who was
sitting beside me, reading, leaned back and put her book before my face,
pointing with her finger to the lines--

    "It is the hour when from the boughs
     The nightingale's high note is heard."

It would be impossible to describe the emotion I experienced. I was
instantly wide awake, and, quivering with excitement, fastened a grip
like steel upon the book, imploring to be allowed to read on. The fear,
probably, of some altercation loud enough to excite attention to the
subject of her studies (which I rather think would not have been
approved of, even for a "parlor boarder") prevented Miss H---- from
making the resistance she should have made to my entreaties, and I was
allowed to leave the room, carrying with me the dangerous prize, which,
however, I did not profit by.

It was bedtime, and the dormitory light burned but while we performed
our night toilet, under supervision. The under teacher and the lamp
departed together, and I confided to the companion whose bed was next to
mine that I had a volume of Lord Byron under my pillow. The emphatic
whispered warnings of terror and dismay with which she received this
information, her horror at the wickedness of the book (of which of
course she knew nothing), her dread of the result of detection for me,
and her entreaties, enforced with tears, that I would not keep the
terrible volume where it was, at length, combined with my own nervous
excitement about it, affected me with such a sympathy of fear that I
jumped out of bed and thrust the fatal poems into the bowels of a straw
_paillasse_ on an empty bed, and returned to my own to remain awake
nearly all night. My study of Byron went no further then: the next
morning I found it impossible to rescue the book unobserved from its
hiding-place, and Miss H----, to whom I confided the secret of it, I
suppose took her own time for withdrawing it, and so I then read no more
of that wonderful poetry, which, in my after days of familiar
acquaintance with it, always affected me like an evil potion taken into
my blood. The small, sweet draught which I sipped in that sleepy
school-salon atmosphere remained indelibly impressed upon my memory,
insomuch that when, during the last year of my stay in Paris, the news
of my uncle John's death at Lausanne, and that of Lord Byron at
Missolonghi, was communicated to me, my passionate regret was for the
great poet, of whose writings I knew but twenty lines, and not for my
own celebrated relation, of whom, indeed, I knew but little.

It was undoubtedly well that this dangerous source of excitement should
be sealed to me as long as possible; but I do not think that the works
of imagination to which I was allowed free access were of a specially
wholesome or even harmless tendency. The false morality and
attitudinizing sentiment of such books as "Les Contes à ma Fille," and
Madame de Genlis' "Veillées du Château," and "Adèle et Théodore," were
rubbish, if not poison. The novels of Florian were genuine and simple
romances, less mischievous, I incline to think, upon the whole, than the
educational Countess's mock moral sentimentality; but Chateaubriand's
"Atala et Chactas," with its picturesque pathos, and his powerful
classical novel of "Les Martyrs," were certainly unfit reading for young
girls of excitable feelings and wild imaginations, in spite of the
religious element which I supposed was considered their recommendation.

One great intellectual good fortune befell me at this time, and that was
reading "Guy Mannering;" the first of Walter Scott's novels that I ever
read--the _dearest_, therefore. I use the word advisedly, for I know no
other than one of affection to apply to those enchanting and admirable
works, that deserve nothing less than love in return for the healthful
delight they have bestowed. To all who ever read them, the first must
surely be the best; the beginning of what a series of pure enjoyments,
what a prolonged, various, exquisite succession of intellectual
surprises and pleasures, amounting for the time almost to happiness.

Scott, like Shakespeare, has given us, for intimate acquaintance,
companions, and friends, men and women of such peculiar individual
nobleness, grace, wit, wisdom, and humor, that they people our minds and
recur to our thoughts with a vividness which makes them seem rather to
belong to the past realities of the memory, than to the shadowy visions
of the imagination.

It was not long before all this imaginative stimulus bore its legitimate
fruit in a premature harvest of crude compositions which I dignified
with the name of poetry. Rhymes I wrote without stint or stopping--a
perfect deluge of doggerel; what became of it all I know not, but I have
an idea that a manuscript volume was sent to my poor parents, as a
sample of the poetical promise supposed to be contained in these unripe

Besides the studies pursued by the whole school under the tuition of
Mademoiselle Descuillès, we had special masters from whom we took
lessons in special branches of knowledge. Of these, by far the most
interesting to me, both in himself and in the subject of his teachings,
was my Italian master, Biagioli.

He was a political exile, of about the same date as his remarkable
contemporary, Ugo Foscolo; his high forehead, from which his hair fell
back in a long grizzled curtain, his wild, melancholy eyes, and the
severe and sad expression of his face, impressed me with some awe and
much pity. He was at that time one of the latest of the long tribe of
commentators on Dante's "Divina Commedia." I do not believe his
commentary ranks high among the innumerable similar works on the great
Italian poem; but in violence of abuse, and scornful contempt of all but
his own glosses, he yields to none of his fellow-laborers in that vast
and tangled poetical, historical, biographical, philosophical,
theological, and metaphysical jungle.

Dante was his spiritual consolation, his intellectual delight, and
indeed his daily bread; for out of that tremendous horn-book he taught
me to stammer the divine Italian language, and illustrated every lesson,
from the simplest rule of its syntax to its exceedingly complex and
artificially constructed prosody, out of the pages of that sublime,
grotesque, and altogether wonderful poem. My mother has told me that she
attributed her incapacity for relishing Milton to the fact of "Paradise
Lost" having been used as a lesson-book out of which she was made to
learn English--a circumstance which had made it for ever "Paradise
_Lost_" to her. I do not know why or how I escaped a similar misfortune
in my school-girl study of Dante, but luckily I did so, probably being
carried over the steep and stony way with comparative ease by the help
of my teacher's vivid enthusiasm. I have forgotten my Italian grammar,
rules of syntax and rules of prosody alike, but I read and re-read the
"Divina Commedia" with ever-increasing amazement and admiration. Setting
aside all its weightier claims to the high place it holds among the
finest achievements of human genius, I know of no poem in any language
in which so many single lines and detached passages can be found of
equally descriptive force, picturesque beauty, and delightful melody of
sound; the latter virtue may lie, perhaps, as much in the instrument
itself as in the master hand that touched it--the Italian tongue, the
resonance and vibrating power of which is quite as peculiar as its
liquid softness.

While the stern face and forlorn figure of poor Biagioli seemed an
appropriate accompaniment to my Dantesque studies, nothing could exceed
the contrast he presented to another Italian who visited us on alternate
days and gave us singing lessons. Blangini, whose extreme popularity as
a composer and teacher led him to the dignity of _maestro di capella_ to
some royal personage, survives only in the recollection of certain
elderly drawing-room nightingales who warbled fifty summers ago, and who
will still hum bits of his pretty Canzoni and Notturni, "Care pupille,"
"Per valli per boschi," etc.

Blangini was a _petit maître_ as well as a singing master; always
attired in the height of the fashion, and in manner and appearance much
more of a Frenchman than an Italian. He was mercilessly satirical on the
failures of his pupils, to whom (having reduced them, by the most
ridiculous imitation of their unfortunate vocal attempts, to an almost
inaudible utterance of _pianissimo_ pipings) he would exclaim, "Ma per
carità! aprite la bocca! che cantate come uccelli che dormano!"

My music master, as distinguished from my singing master, was a worthy
old Englishman of the name of Shaw, who played on the violin, and had
been at one time leader of the orchestra at Covent Garden Theatre.
Indeed, it was to him that John Kemble addressed the joke (famous,
because in his mouth unique) upon the subject of a song in the piece of
"Richard Coeur de Lion"--I presume an English version of Gietry's
popular romance, "O Richard, O mon Roi!" This Mr. Shaw was painfully
endeavoring to teach my uncle, who was entirely without musical ear, and
whose all but insuperable difficulty consisted in repeating a few bars
of the melody supposed to be sung under his prison window by his
faithful minstrel, Blondel. "Mr. Kemble, Mr. Kemble, you are murdering
the time, sir!" cried the exasperated musician; to which my uncle
replied, "Very well, sir, and you are forever beating it!" I do not know
whether Mrs. Rowden knew this anecdote, and engaged Mr. Shaw because he
had elicited this solitary sally from her quondam idol, John Kemble. The
choice, whatever its motive, was not a happy one. The old leader of the
theatrical orchestra was himself no piano-forte player, could no longer
see very well nor hear very well, and his principal attention was
directed to his own share of the double performance, which he led much
after the careless, slap-bang style in which overtures that nobody
listened to were performed in his day. It is a very great mistake to let
learners play with violin accompaniment until they have thoroughly
mastered the piano-forte without it. Fingering, the first of fundamental
acquirements, is almost sure to be overlooked by the master, whose
attention is not on the hands of his pupil but on his own bow; and the
pupil, anxious to keep up with the violin, slurs over rapid passages,
scrambles through difficult ones, and acquires a general habit of merely
following the violin in time and tune, to the utter disregard of steady,
accurate execution. As for me, I derived but one benefit from my old
violin accompanier, that of becoming a good timist; in every other
respect I received nothing but injury from our joint performances,
getting into incorrigible habits of bad fingering, and of making up my
bass with unscrupulous simplifications of the harmony, quite content if
I came in with my final chords well thumped in time and tune with the
emphatic scrape of the violin that ended our lesson. The music my master
gave me, too, was more in accordance with his previous practice as
leader of a theatrical orchestra, than calculated to make me a steady
and scrupulous executant.

We had another master for French and Latin--a clever, ugly, impudent,
snuffy, dirty little man, who wrote vaudevilles for the minor theaters,
and made love to his pupils. Both these gentlemen were superseded in
their offices by other professors before I left school: poor old Pshaw
Pshaw, as we used to call him, by the French composer, Adam, unluckily
too near the time of my departure for me to profit by his strict and
excellent method of instruction; and our vaudevillist was replaced by a
gentleman of irreproachable manners, and I should think morals, who
always came to our lessons _en toilette_--black frock-coat and
immaculate white waistcoat, unexceptionable boots and gloves--by dint of
all which he ended by marrying our dear Mademoiselle Descuillès (who,
poor thing, was but a woman after all, liable to charming by such
methods), and turning her into Madame Champy, under which name she
continued to preside over the school after I left it; and Mrs. Rowden
relinquished her share in the concern--herself marrying, and becoming
Mrs. St. Quintin.

I have spoken of my learning Latin: Elizabeth P----, the object in all
things of my emulous admiration, studied it, and I forthwith begged
permission to do so likewise; and while this dead-language ambition
possessed me, I went so far as to acquire the Greek alphabet; which,
however, I used only as a cipher for "my secrets," and abandoned my
Latin lore, just as I had exchanged my Phædrus for Cornelius Nepos, not
even attaining to the "Arma virumque cano."

Nobody but Miss P---- and myself dabbled in these classical depths, but
nearly the whole school took dancing lessons, which were given us by two
masters, an old and young Mr. Guillet, father and son: the former, a
little dapper, dried-up, wizen-faced, beak-nosed old man, with a brown
wig that fitted his head and face like a Welsh night-cap; who played the
violin and stamped in time, and scolded and made faces at us when we
were clumsy and awkward; the latter, a highly colored, beak-nosed young
gentleman who squinted fearfully with magnificent black eyes, and had
one shining, oily wave of blue-black hair, which, departing from above
one ear, traversed his forehead in a smooth sweep, and ended in a
frizzly breaker above the other. This gentleman showed us our steps, and
gave us the examples of graceful ability of which his father was no
longer capable. I remember a very comical scene at one of our dancing
lessons, occasioned by the first appearance of a certain Miss ----, who
entered the room, to the general amazement, in full evening costume--a
practice common, I believe, in some English schools where "dressing for
dancing" prevails. We only put on light prunella slippers instead of our
heavier morning shoes or boots, and a pair of gloves, as adequate
preparation. Moreover, the French fashion for full dress, of that day,
did not sanction the uncovering of the person usual in English evening


Great was the general surprise of the dancing class when this large,
tall, handsome English girl, of about eighteen, entered the room in a
rose-colored silk dress, with very low neck and very short sleeves,
white satin shoes, and white kid gloves; her long auburn ringlets and
ivory shoulders glancing in the ten o'clock morning sunlight with a sort
of incongruous splendor, and her whole demeanor that of the most
innocent and modest tranquillity.

Mademoiselle Descuillès shut her book to with a snap, and sat bolt
upright and immovable, with eyes and mouth wide open. Young Mr. Guillet
blushed purple, and old Mr. Guillet scraped a few interjections on his
fiddle, and then, putting it down, took a resonant pinch of snuff, by
way of restoring his scattered senses.

No observation was made, however, and the lesson proceeded, young Mr.
Guillet turning scarlet each time either of his divergent orbs of vision
encountered his serenely unconscious, full-dressed pupil; which
certainly, considering that he was a member of the Grand Opera _corps de
ballet_, was a curious instance of the purely conventional ideas of
decency which custom makes one accept.

Whatever want of assiduity I may have betrayed in my other studies,
there was no lack of zeal for my dancing lessons. I had a perfect
passion for dancing, which long survived my school-days, and I am
persuaded that my natural vocation was that of an opera dancer. Far into
middle life I never saw beautiful dancing without a rapture of
enthusiasm, and used to repeat from memory whole dances after seeing
Duvernay or Ellsler, as persons with a good musical ear can repeat the
airs of the opera first heard the night before. And I remember, during
Ellsler's visit to America, when I had long left off dancing in society,
being so transported with her execution of a Spanish dance called "El
Jaleo de Xerxes," that I was detected by my cook, who came suddenly upon
me in my store-room, in the midst of sugar, rice, tea, coffee, flour,
etc., standing on the tips of my toes, with my arms above my head, in
one of the attitudes I had most admired in that striking and picturesque
performance. The woman withdrew in speechless amazement, and I alighted
on my heels, feeling wonderfully foolish. How I thought I never should
be able to leave off dancing! And so I thought of riding! and so I
thought of singing! and could not imagine what life would be like when I
could no more do these things. I was not wrong, perhaps, in thinking it
would be difficult to leave them off: I had no conception how easily
they would leave me off.

Varying our processions in the Champs Élysées were less formal
excursions in the Jardin de Luxembourg; and as the picture-gallery in
the palace was opened gratuitously on certain days of the week, we were
allowed to wander through it, and form our taste for art among the
samples of the modern French school of painting there collected: the
pictures of David, Gérard, Girodet, etc., the Dido and Æneas, the
Romulus and Tatius with the Sabine women interposing between them,
Hippolytus before Theseus and Phædra, Atala being laid in her grave by
her lover--compositions with which innumerable engravings have made
England familiar--the theatrical conception and hard coloring and
execution of which (compensated by masterly grouping and incomparable
drawing) did not prevent their striking our uncritical eyes with
delighted admiration, and making this expedition to the Luxembourg one
of my favorite afternoon recreations. These pictures are now all in the
gallery of the Louvre, illustrating the school of art of the consulate
and early empire of Bonaparte.

Another favorite promenade of ours, and the one that I preferred even to
the hero-worship of the Luxembourg, was the Parc Monceaux. This estate,
the private property of the Orleans family, confiscated by Louis
Napoleon, and converted into a whole new _quartier_ of his new Paris,
with splendid streets and houses, and an exquisite public flower-garden
in the midst of them, was then a solitary and rather neglected Jardin
Anglais (so called) or park, surrounded by high walls and entered by a
small wicket, the porter of which required a permit of admission before
allowing ingress to the domain. I never remember seeing a single
creature but ourselves in the complete seclusion of this deserted
pleasaunce. It had grass and fine trees and winding walks, and little
brooks fed by springs that glimmered in cradles of moss-grown,
antiquated rock-work; no flowers or semblance of cultivation, but a
general air of solitude and wildness that recommended it especially to
me, and recalled as little as possible the great, gay city which
surrounded it.

My real holidays, however (for I did not go home during the three years
I spent in Paris), were the rare and short visits my father paid me
while I was at school. At all other seasons Paris might have been
Patagonia for any thing I saw or heard or knew of its brilliant gayety
and splendid variety. But during those holidays of his and mine, my
enjoyment and his were equal, I verily believe, though probably not (as
I then imagined) perfect. Pleasant days of joyous _camaraderie_ and
_flanerie_!--in which every thing, from being new to me, was almost as
good as new to my indulgent companion: the Rue de Rivoli, the Tuileries,
the Boulevard, the Palais Royal, the _déjeuner à la fourchette_ at the
Café Riche, the dinner in the small _cabinet_ at the Trois Frères, or
the Cadran Bleu, and the evening climax of the theater on the Boulevard,
where Philippe, or Léontine Fay, or Poitier and Brunet, made a school of
dramatic art of the small stages of the Porte St. Martin, the Variétés,
and the Vaudeville.

My father's days in Paris, in which he escaped from the hard labor and
heavy anxiety of his theatrical life of actor, manager, and proprietor,
and I from the dull routine of school-room studies and school-ground
recreations, were pleasant days to him, and golden ones in my girlish
calendar. I remember seeing, with him, a piece called "Les deux
Sergens," a sort of modern Damon and Pythias, in which the heroic
friends are two French soldiers, and in which a celebrated actor of the
name of Philippe performed the principal part. He was the predecessor
and model of Frédéric Lemaître, who (himself infinitely superior to his
pupil and copyist, Mr. Fechter, who, by a very feeble imitation of
Lemaître's most remarkable parts, has achieved so much reputation) was
not to be compared with Philippe in the sort of sentimental melodrama of
which "Les deux Sergens" was a specimen.

This M. Philippe was a remarkable man, not only immensely popular for
his great professional merit, but so much respected for an order of
merit not apt to be enthusiastically admired by Parisians--that of a
moral character and decent life--that at his funeral a very serious riot
occurred, in consequence of the Archbishop of Paris, according to the
received opinion and custom of the day, refusing to allow him to be
buried in consecrated ground; the profane player's calling, in the year
of grace 1823, or thereabouts, being still one which disqualified its
followers for receiving the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church, and
therefore, of course, for claiming Christian burial. The general feeling
of the Parisian public, however, was in this case too strong for the
ancient anathema of the Church. The Archbishop of Paris was obliged to
give way, and the dead body of the worthy actor was laid in the sacred
soil of Père la Chaise. I believe that since that time the question has
never again been debated, nor am I aware that there is any one more
peculiarly theatrical cemetery than another in Paris.

In a letter of Talma's to Charles Young upon my uncle John's death, he
begs to be numbered among the subscribers to the monument about to be
erected to Mr. Kemble in Westminster Abbey; adding the touching remark:
"Pour moi, je serai heureux si les prêtres me laissent enterrer dans un
coin de mon jardin."

The excellent moral effect of this species of class prejudice is
admirably illustrated by an anecdote I have heard my mother tell. One
evening, when she had gone to the Grand Opera with M. Jouy, the wise and
witty Hermite de la Chaussée d'Antin, talking with him of the career and
circumstances of the young ballet women (she had herself, when very
young, been a dancer on the English stage), she wound up her various
questions with this: "Et y en a-t-il qui sont filles de bonne conduite?
qui sont sages?" "Ma foi!" replied the Hermite, shrugging his shoulders,
"elles auraient grand tort; personne n'y croirait."

A charming vaudeville called "Michel et Christine," with that charming
actress, Madame Alan Dorval, for its heroine, was another extremely
popular piece at that time, which I went to see with my father. The time
of year at which he was able to come to Paris was unluckily the season
at which all the large theaters were closed. Nevertheless, by some happy
chance, I saw one performance at the Grand Opera of that great dancer
and actress, Bigottini, in the ballet of the "Folle par Amour;" and I
shall never forget the wonderful pathos of her acting and the grace and
dignity of her dancing. Several years after, I saw Madame Pasta in
Paesiello's pretty opera of the "Nina Pazza," on the same subject, and
hardly know to which of the two great artists to assign the palm in
their different expression of the love-crazed girl's despair.

I also saw several times, at this period of his celebrity, the
inimitable comic actor, Poitier, in a farce called "Les Danaïdes" that
was making a furor--a burlesque upon a magnificent mythological ballet,
produced with extraordinary splendor of decoration, at the Académie
Royale de Musique, and of which this travesty drew all Paris in crowds;
and certainly any thing more ludicrous than Poitier, as the wicked old
King Danaus, with his fifty daughters, it is impossible to imagine.

The piece was the broadest and most grotesque quiz of the "grand genre
classique et héroïque," and was almost the first of an order of
entertainments which have gone on increasing in favor up to the present
day of universally triumphant parody and burlesque, by no means as
laughable and by no means as unobjectionable. Indeed, farcical to the
broadest point as was that mythological travesty of "The Danaïdes," it
was the essence of decency and propriety compared with "La grande
Duchesse," "La belle Hélène," "Orphée aux Enfers," "La Biche au Bois,"
"Le petit Faust," and all the vile succession of indecencies and
immoralities that the female good society of England in these latter
years has delighted in witnessing, without the help of the mask which
enabled their great-grandmothers to sit out the plays of Wycherley,
Congreve, and Farquhar, chaste and decorous in their crude coarseness
compared with the French operatic burlesques of the present day.

But by far the most amusing piece in which I recollect seeing Poitier,
was one in which he acted with the equally celebrated Brunet, and in
which they both represented English _women_--"Les Anglaises pour Rire."

The Continent was then just beginning to make acquaintance with the
traveling English, to whom the downfall of Bonaparte had opened the
gates of Europe, and who then began, as they have since continued, in
ever-increasing numbers, to carry amazement and amusement from the
shores of the Channel to those of the Mediterranean, by their wealth,
insolence, ignorance, and cleanliness.

"Les Anglaises pour Rire" was a caricature (if such a thing were
possible) of the English female traveler of that period. Coal-scuttle
poke bonnets, short and scanty skirts, huge splay feet arrayed in
indescribable shoes and boots, short-waisted tight-fitting spencers,
colors which not only swore at each other, but caused all beholders to
swear at them--these were the outward and visible signs of the British
fair of that day. To these were added, in this representation of them by
these French appreciators of their attractions, a mode of speech in
which the most ludicrous French, in the most barbarous accent, was
uttered in alternate bursts of loud abruptness and languishing drawl.
Sudden, grotesque playfulness was succeeded by equally sudden and
grotesque bashfulness; now an eager intrepidity of wild enthusiasm,
defying all decorum, and then a sour, severe reserve, full of angry and
terrified suspicion of imaginary improprieties. Tittering shyness, all
giggle-goggle and blush; stony and stolid stupidity, impenetrable to a
ray of perception; awkward, angular postures and gestures, and jerking
saltatory motions; Brobdingnag strides and straddles, and kittenish
frolics and friskings; sharp, shrill little whinnying squeals and
squeaks, followed by lengthened, sepulchral "O-h's"--all formed together
such an irresistibly ludicrous picture as made "Les Anglaises pour Rire"
of Poitier and Brunet one of the most comical pieces of acting I have
seen in all my life.

Mrs. Rowden's establishment in Hans Place had been famous for occasional
dramatic representations by the pupils; and though she had become in her
Paris days what in the religious jargon of that day was called serious,
or even methodistical, she winked at, if she did not absolutely
encourage, sundry attempts of a similar sort which her Paris pupils got

Once it was a vaudeville composed expressly in honor of her birthday by
the French master, in which I had to sing, with reference to her, the
following touching tribute, to a well-known vaudeville tune:

    "C'est une mère!
     Qui a les premiers droits sur nos coeurs?
     Qui partage, d'une ardeur sincère,
     Et nos plaisirs et nos douleurs?
     C'est une mère!"

I suppose this trumpery was stamped upon my brain by the infinite
difficulty I had in delivering it gracefully, with all the point and all
the pathos the author assured me it contained, at Mrs. Rowden,
surrounded by her friends and guests, and not suggesting to me the
remotest idea of _my_ mother or any body else's mother.

After this we got up Madame de Genlis' little piece of "L' Isle
Heureuse," in which I acted the accomplished and conceited princess who
is so judiciously rejected by the wise and ancient men of the island, in
spite of the several foreign tongues she speaks fluently, in favor of
the tender-hearted young lady who, in defiance of all sound systems of
political and social economy, always walks about attended by the poor of
the island in a body, to whom she distributes food and clothes in a
perpetual stream of charity, and whose prayers and blessings lift her
very properly to the throne, while the other young woman is left talking
to all the ambassadors in all their different languages at once.

Our next dramatic attempt came to a disastrous and premature end. I do
not know who suggested to us the witty and clever little play of
"Roxelane;" the versification of the piece is extremely easy and
graceful, and the preponderance of female characters and convenient
Turkish costume, of turbans and caftans, and loose voluminous trousers,
had appeared to us to combine various advantages for our purpose.
Mademoiselle Descuillès had consented to fill the part of Solyman, the
magnificent and charming Sultan, and I was to be the saucy French
heroine, "dont le nez en l'air semble narguer l'amour," the _sémillante_
Roxelane. We had already made good progress in the only difficulty our
simple appreciation of matters dramatic presented to our imagination,
the committing the words of our parts to memory, when Mrs. Rowden, from
whom all our preparations on such occasions were kept sacredly secret,
lighted upon the copy of the play, with all the MS. marks and directions
for our better guidance in the performance; and great were our
consternation, dismay, and disappointment when, with the offending
pamphlet in her hand, she appeared in our midst and indignantly forbade
the representation of any such piece, after the following ejaculatory
fashion, and with an accent difficult to express by written signs: "May,
commang! may_de_mosels, je suis atonnay! May! commang! May_de_mosel
Descuillès, je suis surprise! Kesse ke say! vous per_ma_ttay
may_de_mosels être lay filles d'ung seraglio! je ne vou pau! je vous
defang! je suis biang atonnay!" And so she departed, with our prompter's
copy, leaving us rather surprised, ourselves, at the unsuspected horror
we had been about to perpetrate, and Mademoiselle Descuillès shrugging
her shoulders and smiling, and not probably quite convinced of the
criminality of a piece of which the heroine, a pretty Frenchwoman,
revolutionizes the Ottoman Empire by inducing her Mohammedan lover to
dismiss his harem and confine his affections to her, whom he is supposed
to marry after the most orthodox fashion possible in those parts.

Our dramatic ardor was considerably damped by this event, and when next
it revived our choice could not be accused of levity. Our aim was
infinitely more ambitious, and our task more arduous. Racine's
"Andromaque" was selected for our next essay in acting, and was, I
suppose, pronounced unobjectionable by the higher authorities. Here,
however, our mainstay and support, Mademoiselle Descuillès, interposed a
very peculiar difficulty. She had very good-naturedly learned the part
of Solyman, in the other piece, for us, and whether she resented the
useless trouble she had had on that occasion, or disliked that of
committing several hundred of Racine's majestic verses to memory, I know
not; but she declared that she would only act the part of Pyrrhus, which
we wished her to fill, if we would read it aloud to her till she knew
it, while she worked at her needle. Of course we had to accept any
condition she chose to impose upon us, and so we all took it by turns,
whenever we saw her industrious fingers flying through their
never-ending task, to seize up Racine and begin pouring her part into
her ears. She actually learned it so, and our principal difficulty after
so teaching her was to avoid mixing up the part of Pyrrhus, which we had
acquired by the same process, with every other part in the play.

The dressing of this classical play was even more convenient than our
contemplated Turkish costume could have been. A long white skirt drawn
round the waist, a shorter one, with slits in it for armholes, drawn
round the neck by way of tunic, with dark blue or scarlet Greek pattern
border, and ribbon of the same color for girdle, and sandals, formed a
costume that might have made Rachel or Ristori smile, but which
satisfied all our conceptions of antique simplicity and grace; and so we
played our play.

Mademoiselle Descuillès was Pyrrhus; a tall blonde, with an insipid face
and good figure, Andromaque; Elizabeth P----, my admired and emulated
superior in all things, Oreste (not superior, however, in acting; she
had not the questionable advantage of dramatic blood in her veins); and
myself, Hermione (in the performance of which I very presently gave
token of mine). We had an imposing audience, and were all duly
terrified, became hoarse with nervousness, swallowed raw eggs to clear
our throats, and only made ourselves sick with them as well as with
fright. But at length it was all over; the tragedy was ended, and I had
electrified the audience, my companions, and, still more, myself; and
so, to avert any ill effects from this general electrification, Mrs.
Rowden thought it wise and well to say to me, as she bade me good-night,
"Ah, my dear, I don't think your parents need ever anticipate your going
on the stage; you would make but a poor actress." And she was right
enough. I did make but a poor actress, certainly, though that was not
for want of natural talent for the purpose, but for want of cultivating
it with due care and industry. At the time she made that comment upon my
acting I felt very well convinced, and have since had good reason to
know, that my school-mistress thought my performance a threat, or
promise (I know not which to call it) of decided dramatic power, as I
believe it was.

With this performance of "Andromaque," however, all such taste, if it
ever existed, evaporated, and though a few years afterward the stage
became my profession, it was the very reverse of my inclination. I
adopted the career of an actress with as strong a dislike to it as was
compatible with my exercising it at all.

I now became acquainted with all Racine's and Corneille's plays, from
which we were made to commit to memory the most remarkable passages; and
I have always congratulated myself upon having become familiar with all
these fine compositions before I had any knowledge whatever of
Shakespeare. Acquaintance with his works might, and I suppose certainly
would, have impaired my relish for the great French dramatists, whose
tragedies, noble and pathetic in spite of the stiff formality of their
construction, the bald rigidity of their adherence to the classic
unities, and the artificial monotony of the French heroic rhymed verse,
would have failed to receive their due appreciation from a taste and
imagination already familiar with the glorious freedom of Shakespeare's
genius. As it was, I learned to delight extremely in the dignified
pathos and stately tragic power of Racine and Corneille, in the
tenderness, refinement, and majestic vigorous simplicity of their fine
creations, and possessed a treasure of intellectual enjoyment in their
plays before opening the first page of that wonderful volume which
contains at once the history of human nature and human existence.

After I had been about a year and a half at school, Mrs. Rowden left her
house in the Rue d'Angoulême, and moved to a much finer one, at the very
top of the Champs Élysées, a large, substantial stone mansion, within
lofty iron gates and high walls of inclosure. It was the last house on
the left-hand side within the Barrière de l'Étoile, and stood on a
slight eminence and back from the Avenue des Champs Élysées by some
hundred yards. For many years after I had left school, on my repeated
visits to Paris, the old stone house bore on its gray front the large
"Institution de jeunes Demoiselles," which betokened the unchanged tenor
of its existence. But the rising tide of improvement has at length swept
it away, and modern Paris has rolled over it, and its place remembers it
no more. It was a fine old house, roomy, airy, bright, sunny, cheerful,
with large apartments and a capital play-ground, formed by that
old-fashioned device, a quincunx of linden trees, under whose shade we
carried on very Amazonian exercises, fighting having become one of our
favorite recreations.

This house was said to have belonged to Robespierre at one time, and a
very large and deep well in one corner of the play-ground was invested
with a horrid interest in our imaginations by tales of _noyades_ on a
small scale supposed to have been perpetrated in its depths by his
orders. This charm of terror was, I think, rather a gratuitous addition
to the attractions of this uncommonly fine well; but undoubtedly it
added much to the fascination of one of our favorite amusements, which
was throwing into it the heaviest stones we could lift, and rushing to
the farthest end of the play-ground, which we sometimes reached before
the resounding _bumps_ from side to side ended in a sullen splash into
the water at the bottom. With our removal to the Barrière de l'Étoile,
the direction of our walks altered, and our visits to the Luxembourg
Gardens and the Parc Monceaux were exchanged for expeditions to the Bois
de Boulogne, then how different from the charming pleasure-ground of
Paris which it became under the reforming taste and judgment of Louis

Between the back of our play-ground and the village suburb of Chaillot
scarcely a decent street or even house then existed; there was no
splendid Avenue de l'Impératrice, with bright villas standing on vivid
carpets of flowers and turf. Our way to the "wood" was along the
dreariest of dusty high-roads, bordered with mean houses and
disreputable-looking _estaminets_; and the Bois de Boulogne itself, then
undivided from Paris by the fortifications which subsequently encircled
the city, was a dismal network of sandy avenues and _carrefours_,
traversed in every direction by straight, narrow, gloomy paths, a dreary
wilderness of low thickets and tangled copsewood.

I have said that I never returned home during my three years' school
life in Paris; but portions of my holidays were spent with a French
family, kind friends of my parents, who received me as an _enfant de la
maison_ among them. They belonged to the _petite bourgeoisie_ of Paris.
Mr. A---- had been in some business, I believe, but when I visited him
he was living as a small _rentier_, in a pretty little house on the main
road from Paris to Versailles.

It was just such a residence as Balzac describes with such minute finish
in his scenes of Parisian and provincial life: a sunny little
_maisonnette_, with green _jalousies_, a row of fine linden trees
clipped into arches in front of it, and behind, the trim garden with its
wonderfully productive dwarf _espaliers_, full of delicious pears and
Reine Claudes (that queen of amber-tinted, crimson-freckled greengages),
its apricots, as fragrant as flowers, and its glorious, spice-breathing

The mode of life and manners of these worthy people were not refined or
elegant, but essentially hospitable and kind; and I enjoyed the sunny
freedom of my holiday visits to them extremely. The marriage of their
daughter opened to me a second Parisian home of the same class, but with
greater pretensions to social advantages, derived from the great city in
the center of which it stood.

I was present at the celebration of Caroline A----'s marriage to one of
the head-masters of a first-class boarding-school for boys, of which he
subsequently became the principal director. It was in the Rue de Clichy,
and thither the bride departed, after a jolly, rollicking, noisy
wedding, beginning with the religious solemnization at church and
procession to the _mairie_ for due sanction of the civil authorities,
and ending with a bountiful, merry, early afternoon dinner, and the not
over-refined ancient custom of the distribution of the _jarretière de la
mariée_. The jarretière was a white satin ribbon, tied at a discreet
height above the bride's ankle, and removed thence by the best man and
cut into pieces, for which an animated scramble took place among the
male guests, each one who obtained a piece of the white favor
immediately fastening it in his button-hole. Doubtless, in earlier and
coarser times, it was the bride's real garter that was thus distributed,
and our elegant white and silver rosettes are the modern representatives
of this primitive wedding "favor," which is a relic of ages when both in
England and in France usages obtained at the noblest marriages which
would be tolerated by no class in either country now;

    "When bluff King Hal the stocking threw,
     And Katharine's hand the curtain drew."

I have a distinct recollection of the merry uproar caused by this
ceremony, and of the sad silence that fell upon the little sunny
dwelling when the new-married pair and all the guests had returned to
Paris, and I helped poor Madame A---- and her old _cuisinière_ and
_femme de charge_, both with tearful eyes, to replace the yellow
_velours d'Utrecht_ furniture in its accustomed position on the shiny
_parquet_ of the best _salon_, with the slippery little bits of
foot-rugs before the empty _bergères_ and _canapés_.

My holidays after this time were spent with M. and Madame R----, in
whose society I remember frequently seeing a literary man of the name of
Pélissier, a clever writer, a most amusing talker, and an admirable
singer of Béranger's songs.

Another visitor of their house was M. Rio, the eminent member of the
French ultramontane party, the friend of Lammenais, Lacordaire,
Montalembert, the La Ferronays, the hero of the Jeune Vendée, the
learned and devout historian of Christian art. I think my friend M.
R---- was a Breton by birth, and that was probably the tie between
himself and his remarkable Vendéan friend, whose tall, commanding
figure, dark complexion, and powerful black eyes gave him more the
appearance of a Neapolitan or Spaniard than of a native of the coast of
ancient Armorica. M. Rio was then a young man, and probably in Paris for
the first time, at the beginning of the literary career of which he has
furnished so interesting a sketch in the autobiographical volumes which
form the conclusion of his "Histoire de l'Art Chrétien." Five and twenty
years later, while passing my second winter in Rome, I heard of M. Rio's
arrival there, and of the unbounded satisfaction he expressed at finding
himself in the one place where no restless wheels beat time to, and no
panting chimneys breathed forth the smoke of the vast, multiform
industry of the nineteenth century; where the sacred stillness of
unprogressive conservatism yet prevailed undisturbed. Gas had, indeed,
been introduced in the English quarter; but M. Rio could shut his eyes
when he drove through that, and there still remained darkness enough
elsewhere for those who loved it better than light.

During one of my holiday visits to M. R----, a ball was given at his
young gentlemen's school, to which I was taken by him and his wife. It
was my very first ball, and I have a vivid recollection of my white
muslin frock and magnificent _ponceau_ sash. At this festival I was
introduced to a lad, with whom I was destined to be much more intimately
acquainted in after years as one of the best amateur actors I ever saw,
and who married one of the most charming and distinguished women of
European society, Pauline de la Ferronays, whose married name has
obtained wide celebrity as that of the authoress of "Le Récit d'une

I remained in Paris till I was between fifteen and sixteen years old,
and then it was determined that I should return home. The departure of
Elizabeth P---- had left me without competitor in my studies among my
companions, and I was at an age to be better at home than at any school.

My father came to fetch me, and the only adventure I met with on the way
back was losing my bonnet, blown from my head into the sea, on board the
packet, which obliged me to purchase one as soon as I reached London;
and having no discreeter guide of my proceedings, I so far imposed upon
my father's masculine ignorance in such matters as to make him buy for
me a full-sized Leghorn flat, under the circumference of which enormous
_sombrero_ I seated myself by him on the outside of the Weybridge coach,
and amazed the gaping population of each successive village we passed
through with the vast dimensions of the thatch I had put on my head.

Weybridge was not then reached by train in half an hour from London; it
was two or three hours' coach distance: a rural, rather
deserted-looking, and most picturesque village, with the desolate domain
of Portmore Park, its mansion falling to ruin, on one side of it, and on
the other the empty house and fine park of Oatlands, the former
residence of the Duke of York.

The straggling little village lay on the edge of a wild heath and common
country that stretches to Guildford and Godalming and all through that
part of Surrey to Tunbridge Wells, Brighton, and the Sussex coast--a
region of light, sandy soil, hiding its agricultural poverty under a
royal mantle of golden gorse and purple heather, and with large tracts
of blue aromatic pine wood and one or two points of really fine scenery,
where the wild moorland rolls itself up into ridges and rises to crests
of considerable height, which command extensive and beautiful views:
such as the one from the summit of Saint George's Hill, near Weybridge,
and the top of Blackdown, the noble site of Tennyson's fine house,
whence, over miles of wild wood and common, the eye sweeps to the downs
above the Sussex cliffs and the glint of the narrow seas.

We had left London in the afternoon, and did not reach Weybridge until
after dark. I had been tormented the whole way down by a nervous fear
that I should not know my mother's face again; an absence of three
years, of course, could not justify such an apprehension, but it had
completely taken possession of my imagination and was causing me much
distress, when, as the coach stopped in the dark at the village inn, I
heard the words, "Is there any one here for Mrs. Kemble?" uttered in a
voice which I knew so well, that I sprang, hat and all, into my mother's
arms, and effectually got rid of my fear that I should not know her.

Her rural yearnings had now carried her beyond her suburban refuge at
Craven Hill, and she was infinitely happy, in her small cottage
habitation, on the outskirts of Weybridge and the edge of its
picturesque common. Tiny, indeed, it was, and but for her admirable
power of contrivance could hardly have held us with any comfort; but she
delighted in it, and so did we all except my father, who, like most men,
had no real taste for the country; the men who appear to themselves and
others to like it confounding their love for hunting and shooting with
that of the necessary field of their sports. Anglers seem to me to be
the only sportsmen who really have a taste for and love of nature as
well as for fishy water. At any rate, the silent, solitary, and
comparatively still character of their pursuit enables them to study and
appreciate beauty of scenery more than the violent exercise and
excitement of fox-hunting, whatever may be said in favor of the
picturesque influences of beating preserves and wading through
turnip-fields with keepers and companions more or less congenial.

Of deer-stalking and grouse-shooting I do not speak; a man who does not
become enthusiastic in his admiration of wild scenery while following
these sports must have but half the use of his eyes.

Perhaps it was hardly fair to expect my father to relish extremely a
residence where he was as nearly as possible too high and too wide, too
long and too large, for every room in the house. He used to come down on
Saturday and stay till Monday morning, but the rest of the week he spent
at what was then our home in London, No. 5 Soho Square; it was a
handsome, comfortable, roomy house, and has now, I think, been converted
into a hospital.

The little cottage at Weybridge was covered at the back with a vine,
which bore with the utmost luxuriance a small, black, sweet-water grape,
from which, I remember, one year my mother determined to make wine; a
direful experiment, which absorbed our whole harvest of good little
fruit, filled every room in the house with unutterable messes, produced
much fermentation of temper as well as wine, and ended in a liquid
product of such superlative nastiness, that to drink it defied our
utmost efforts of obedience and my mother's own resolute courage; so it
was with acclamations of execration made libations of--to the infernal
gods, I should think--and no future vintage was ever tried, to our great

The little plot of lawn on which our cottage stood was backed by the
wild purple swell of the common, and that was crested by a fine fir
wood, a beautiful rambling and scrambling ground, full of picturesque
and romantic associations with all the wild and fanciful mental
existences which I was then beginning to enjoy. And even as I glide
through it now, on the railroad that has laid its still depths open to
the sun's glare and scared its silence with the eldritch snort and
shriek of the iron team, I have visions of Undine and Sintram, the
Elves, the little dog Stromian, the Wood-Witch, and all the world of
supernatural beauty and terror which then peopled its recesses for me,
under the influence of the German literature that I was becoming
acquainted with through the medium of French and English translations,
and that was carrying me on its tide of powerful enchantment far away
from the stately French classics of my school studies.

Besides our unusual privilege of grape-growing in the open air, our
little estate boasted a magnificent beurré pear tree, a small arbor of
intertwined and peculiarly fine filbert and cobnut trees, and some
capital greengage and apple trees; among the latter, a remarkably large
and productive Ribstone pippin. So that in the spring the little plot of
land was flowerful, and in the autumn fruitful, and we cordially
indorsed my mother's preference for it to the London house in Soho

The sort of orchard which contained all these objects of our regard was
at the back of the house; in front of it, however, the chief peculiarity
(which was by no means a beauty) of the place was displayed.

This was an extraordinary mound or hillock of sand, about half an acre
in circumference, which stood at a distance of some hundred yards
immediately in front of the cottage, and in the middle of what ought to
have been a flower garden, if this uncouth protuberance had not
effectually prevented the formation of any such ornamental setting to
our house. My mother's repeated applications to our landlord (the
village baker) to remove or allow her to remove this unsightly
encumbrance were unavailing. He thought he might have future use for the
sand, and he knew he had no other present place of deposit for it; and
there it remained, defying all my mother's ingenuity and love of beauty
to convert it into any thing useful or ornamental, or other than a cruel
eye-sore and disfigurement to our small domain.

At length she hit upon a device for abating her nuisance, and set about
executing it as follows. She had the sand dug out of the interior of the
mound and added to its exterior, which she had graded and smoothed and
leveled and turfed so as to resemble the glacis of a square bastion or
casemate, or other steep, smooth-sided earth-work in a fortification. It
was, I suppose, about twenty feet high, and sloped at too steep an angle
for us to scale or descend it; a good footpath ran round the top,
accessible from the entrance of the sand-heap, the interior walls of
which she turfed (to speak Irish) with heather, and the ground or floor
of this curious inclosure she planted with small clumps of evergreen
shrubs, leaving a broad walk through the middle of it to the house door.
A more curious piece of domestic fortification never adorned a cottage
garden. It looked like a bit of Robinson Crusoe's castle--perhaps even
more like a portion of some deserted fortress. It challenged the
astonishment of all our visitors, whose invariable demand was, "What is
that curious place in the garden?" "The mound," was the reply; and the
mound was a delightful play-ground for us, and did infinite credit to my
mother's powers of contrivance. Forty years and more elapsed between my
first acquaintance with Weybridge and my last visit there. The Duke of
York's house at Oatlands, afterwards inhabited by my friends Lord and
Lady Ellesmere, had become a country hotel, pleasant to all its visitors
but those who, like myself, saw ghosts in its rooms and on its gravel
walks; its lovely park, a nest of "villas," made into a suburb of London
by the railroads that intersect in all directions the wild moorland
twenty miles from the city, which looked, when I first knew it, as if it
might be a hundred.

I read and spent a night at the Oatlands Hotel, and walked, before I did
so, to my mother's old cottage. The tiny house had had some small
additions, and looked new and neat and well cared for. The mound,
however, still stood its ground, and had relapsed into something of its
old savage condition; it would have warranted a theory of Mr. Oldbuck's
as to its possible former purposes and origin. I looked at its crumbled
and irregular wall, from which the turf had peeled or been washed away;
at the tangled growth of grasses and weeds round the top, crenellated
with many a breach and gap; and the hollow, now choked up with luxuriant
evergreens that overtopped the inclosure and forbade entrance to it, and
thought of my mother's work and my girlish play there, and was glad to
see her old sand-heap was still standing, though her planting had, with
the blessing of time, made it impenetrable to me.

Our cottage was the last decent dwelling on that side of the village;
between ourselves and the heath and pine wood there was one miserable
shanty, worthy of the poorest potato patch in Ireland. It was inhabited
by a ragged ruffian of the name of E----, whose small domain we
sometimes saw undergoing arable processes by the joint labor of his son
and heir, a ragged ruffian some sizes smaller than himself, and of a
half-starved jackass, harnessed together to the plow he was holding;
occasionally the team was composed of the quadruped and a tattered and
fierce-looking female biped, a more terrible object than even the man
and boy and beast whose labors she shared.

On the other side our nearest neighbors, separated from us by the common
and its boundary road, were a family of the name of ----, between whose
charming garden and pretty residence and our house a path was worn by a
constant interchange of friendly intercourse.

I followed no regular studies whatever during our summer at Weybridge.
We lived chiefly in the open air, on the heath, in the beautiful wood
above the meadows of Brooklands, and in the neglected, picturesque
inclosure of Portmore Park, whose tenantless, half-ruined mansion, and
noble cedars, with the lovely windings of the river Wey in front, made
it a place an artist would have delighted to spend his hours in.

We haunted it constantly for another purpose. My mother had a perfect
passion for fishing, and would spend whole days by the river, pursuing
her favorite sport. We generally all accompanied her, carrying baskets
and tackle and bait, kettles and camp stools, and looking very much like
a family of gypsies on the tramp. We were each of us armed with a rod,
and were more or less interested in the sport. We often started after an
early breakfast, and, taking our luncheon with us, remained the whole
day long absorbed in our quiet occupation.

My mother was perfectly unobservant of all rules of angling, in her
indiscriminate enthusiasm, and "took to the water" whether the wind
blew, the sun shone, or the rain fell; fishing--under the most
propitious or unpropitious circumstances--was not, indeed, necessarily,
catching fish, but still, fishing; and she was almost equally happy
whether she did or did not catch any thing. I have known her remain all
day in patient expectation of the "glorious nibble," stand through
successive showers, with her clothes between whiles drying on her back,
and only reluctantly leave the water's edge when it was literally too
dark to see her float.

Although we all fished, I was the only member of the family who
inherited my mother's passion for it, and it only developed much later
in me, for at this time I often preferred taking a book under the trees
by the river-side, to throwing a line; but towards the middle of my life
I became a fanatical fisherwoman, and was obliged to limit my waste of
time to one day in the week, spent on the Lenox lakes, or I should
infallibly have wandered thither and dreamed away my hours on their
charming shores or smooth expanse daily.

I have often wondered that both my mother and myself (persons of
exceptional impatience of disposition and irritable excitability of
temperament) should have taken such delight in so still and monotonous
an occupation, especially to the point of spending whole days in an
unsuccessful pursuit of it. The fact is that the excitement of hope,
keeping the attention constantly alive, is the secret of the charm of
this strong fascination, infinitely more than even the exercise of
successful skill. And this element of prolonged and at the same time
intense expectation, combined with the peculiarly soothing nature of the
external objects which surround the angler, forms at once a powerful
stimulus and a sedative especially grateful in their double action upon
excitable organizations.


I have said that we all more or less joined in my mother's fishing mania
at Weybridge; but my sister, then a girl of about eleven years, never
had any liking for it, which she attributed to the fact that my mother
often employed her to bait the hook for her. My sister's "tender-hefted"
nature was horribly disgusted and pained by this process, but my own
belief is that had she inherited the propensity to catch fish, even that
would not have destroyed it in her. I am not myself a cruel or
hardhearted woman (though I have the hunter's passion very strongly),
and invariably baited my own hook, in spite of the disgust and horror I
experienced at the wretched twining of the miserable worms round my
fingers, and springing of the poor little live bait with its back
pierced with a hook. But I have never allowed any one to do this office
for me, because it seemed to me that to inflict such a task on any one,
because it was revolting to me, was not fair or sportsmanlike; and so I
went on torturing my own bait and myself, too eagerly devoted to the
sport to refrain from it, in spite of the price I condemned myself to
pay for it. Moreover, if I have ever had female companions on my fishing
excursions, I have invariably done this service for them, thinking the
process too horrid for them to endure; and have often thought that if I
were a man, nothing could induce me to marry a woman whom I had seen
bait her own hook with any thing more sensitive than paste.

I have said that I followed no systematic studies after I left school;
but from that time began for me an epoch of indiscriminate, omnivorous
reading, which lasted until I went upon the stage, when all my own
occupations were necessarily given up for the exercise of my profession.

At this time my chief delight was in such German literature as
translations enabled me to become acquainted with. La Motte Fouqué,
Tieck, Wieland's "Oberon," Goethe's "Wilhelm Meister," were my principal
studies; soon to be followed by the sort of foretaste of Jean Paul
Richter that Mr. Carlyle's "Sartor Resartus" gave his readers; both
matter and manner in that remarkable work bearing far more resemblance
to the great German Incomprehensible than to any thing in the English
language, certainly not excepting Mr. Carlyle's own masterly articles in
the _Edinburgh Review_ on Burns, Elliot the Corn-Law Rhymer, etc.
Besides reading every book that came within my reach, I now commenced
the still more objectionable practice of scribbling verses without stint
or stay; some, I suppose, in very bad Italian, and some, I am sure, in
most indifferent English; but the necessity was on me, and perhaps an
eruption of such rubbish was a safer process than keeping it in the
mental system might have proved; and in the meantime this intellectual
effervescence added immensely to the pleasure of my country life, and my
long, rambling walks in that wild, beautiful neighborhood.

I remember at this moment, by the by, a curious companionship we had in
those walks. A fine, big Newfoundland dog and small terrier were
generally of the party; and, nothing daunted by their presence, an
extremely tame and affectionate cat, who was a member of the family,
invariably joined the procession, and would accompany us in our longest
walks, trotting demurely along by herself, a little apart from the rest,
though evidently considering herself a member of the party.

The dogs, fully occupied with each other, and with discursive raids
right and left of the road, and parenthetical rushes in various
directions for their own special delectation, would sometimes, returning
to us at full gallop, tumble over poor puss and roll her unceremoniously
down in their headlong career. She never, however, turned back for this,
but, recovering her feet, with her back arched all but in two, and every
hair of her tail standing on end with insulted dignity, vented in a
series of spittings and swearings her opinion of dogs in general and
those dogs in particular, and then resumed her own decently demure gait
and deportment; thanking Heaven, I have no doubt, in her cat's soul,
that she was not that disgustingly violent and ill-mannered beast--a

My brothers shared with us our fishing excursions and these walks, when
at home from school; besides, I was promoted to their nobler
companionship by occasionally acting as long-stop or short-stop (stop of
some sort was undoubtedly my title) in insufficiently manned or boyed
games of cricket: once, while nervously discharging this onerous duty, I
received a blow on my instep from a cricket ball which I did not stop,
that seemed to me a severe price for the honor of sharing my brothers'
manly pastimes. A sport of theirs in which I joined with more
satisfaction was pistol-shooting at a mark: I had not a quick eye, but a
very steady hand, so that with a deliberate aim I contrived to hit the
mark pretty frequently. I liked this quiet exercise of skill better than
that dreadful watching and catching of cannon-balls at cricket; though
the noise of the discharge of fire-arms was always rather trying to me,
and I especially resented my pistol missing fire when I had braced my
courage for the report. My brother John at this time possessed a rifle
and a fowling-piece, with the use of both of which he endeavored to
familiarize me; but the rifle I found insupportably heavy, and as for
the other gun, it kicked so unmercifully, in consequence, I suppose, of
my not holding it hard enough against my shoulder the first time I fired
it, that I declined all further experiments with it, and reverted to the
pretty little lady-like pocket pistols, which were the only fire-arms I
ever used until one fine day, some years later, when I was promoted to
the honor of firing an American cannon on the practicing ground of the
young gentlemen cadets of West Point.

While we retained our little cottage at Weybridge, the house of
Oatlands, the former residence of the Duke of York, and burial-place of
the duchess's favorite dogs, whose cemetery was one of the "lions" of
the garden, was purchased by a Mr. ----, a young gentleman of very large
fortune, who came down there and enlivened the neighborhood occasionally
with his sporting prowesses, which consisted in walking out, attired in
the very height of Bond Street dandyism, with two attendant gamekeepers,
one of whom carried and handed him his gun when he wished to fire it,
the other receiving it from him after it had been discharged. This very
luxurious mode of following his sport caused some sarcastic comment in
the village.

This gentleman did not long retain possession of Oatlands, and it was
let to the Earl of Ellesmere, then Lord Francis Egerton, with whom and
Lady Francis we became acquainted soon after their taking it; an
acquaintance which on my part grew into a strong and affectionate regard
for both of them. They were excellent and highly accomplished, and, when
first I knew them, two of the handsomest and most distinguished-looking
persons I have ever seen.

Our happy Weybridge summers, which succeeded each other for three years,
had but one incident of any importance for me--my catching the
small-pox, which I had very severely. A slight eruption from which my
sister suffered was at first pronounced by our village Æsculapius to be
chicken-pox, but presently assumed the more serious aspect of varioloid.
My sister, like the rest of us, had been carefully vaccinated; but the
fact was then by no means so generally understood as it now is, that the
power of the vaccine dies out of the system by degrees, and requires
renewing to insure safety. My mother, having lost her faith in
vaccination, thought that a natural attack of varioloid was the best
preservative from small-pox, and my sister having had her seasoning so
mildly and without any bad result but a small scar on her long nose, I
was sent for from London, where I was, with the hope that I should take
the same light form of the malady from her; but the difference of our
age and constitution was not taken into consideration, and I caught the
disease, indeed, but as nearly as possible died of it, and have remained
disfigured by it all my life.

I was but little over sixteen, and had returned from school a very
pretty-looking girl, with fine eyes, teeth, and hair, a clear, vivid
complexion, and rather good features. The small-pox did not affect my
three advantages first named, but, besides marking my face very
perceptibly, it rendered my complexion thick and muddy and my features
heavy and coarse, leaving me so moderate a share of good looks as quite
to warrant my mother's satisfaction in saying, when I went on the stage,
"Well, my dear, they can't say we have brought you out to exhibit your
beauty." Plain I certainly was, but I by no means always looked so; and
so great was the variation in my appearance at different times, that my
comical old friend, Mrs. Fitzhugh, once exclaimed, "Fanny Kemble, you
are the ugliest and the handsomest woman in London!" And I am sure, if a
collection were made of the numerous portraits that have been taken of
me, nobody would ever guess any two of them to be likenesses of the same

The effect of natural small-pox on the skin and features varies
extremely in different individuals, I suppose according to their
constitution. My mother and her brother had the disease at the same
time, and with extreme violence; he retained his beautiful bright
complexion and smooth skin and handsome features; my mother was deeply
pitted all over her face, though the fine outline of her nose and mouth
was not injured in the slightest degree; while with me, the process
appeared to be one of general thickening or blurring, both of form and
color. Terrified by this result of her unfortunate experiment, my poor
mother had my brothers immediately vaccinated, and thus saved them from
the infection which they could hardly have escaped, and preserved the
beauty of my youngest brother, which then and for several years after
was very remarkable.

Mrs. F---- is among the most vivid memories of my girlish days. She and
her husband were kind and intimate friends of my father and mother. He
was a most amiable and genial Irish gentleman, with considerable
property in Ireland and Suffolk, and a fine house in Portland Place, and
had married his cousin, a very handsome, clever, and eccentric woman. I
remember she always wore a bracelet of his hair, on the massive clasp of
which were engraved the words, "Stesso sangue, stessa sorte." I also
remember, as a feature of sundry dinners at their house, the first gold
dessert service and table ornaments that I ever saw, the magnificence of
which made a great impression upon me; though I also remember their
being replaced, upon Mrs. F---- wearying of them, by a set of ground
glass and dead and burnished silver, so exquisite, that the splendid
gold service was pronounced infinitely less tasteful and beautiful.

Mrs. F----'s sons were school-fellows of my eldest brother, under Dr.
Malkin, the master of the grammar school of Bury St. Edmunds; and at
this time we always saw Dr. and Mrs. Malkin when they visited London,
and I was indebted to the doctor for a great deal of extremely kind
interest which he took in my mental development and cultivation.

He suggested books for my reading, and set me, as a useful exercise, to
translate Sismondi's fine historical work, "Les Républiques Italiennes,"
which he wished me to abridge for publication. I was not a little proud
of Dr. Malkin's notice and advice; he was my brother's school-master, an
object of respectful admiration, and a kind and condescending friend to

He was a hearty, genial man, of portly person, and fine, intelligent,
handsome face; active and energetic in his habits and movements, in
spite of a slight lameness, which I remember he accounted for to me in
the following manner. He was very intimate with Miss O'Neil before she
left the stage and became Lady Becher. While dancing with her in a
country-dance one evening at her house, she exclaimed, on hearing a
sudden sonorous twang, "Dear me! there is one of the chords of my harp
snapped." "Indeed it is not," replied Dr. Malkin; "it is my
tendo-Achillis which has snapped." And so it was; and from that time he
always remained lame.

Mrs. Malkin was a more uncommon person than her husband; the strength of
her character and sweetness of her disposition were alike admirable, and
the bright vivacity of her countenance and singular grace and dignity of
her person must be a pleasant memory in the minds of all who, like
myself, knew her while she was yet in the middle bloom of life.

Dr. and Mrs. Malkin's sons were my brother's school and college mates.
They were all men of ability, and good scholars, as became their
father's sons. Sir Benjamin, the eldest, achieved eminence as a lawyer,
and became an Indian judge; and the others would undoubtedly have risen
to distinction but for the early death that carried off Frederick and
Charles, and the hesitation of speech which closed almost all public
careers to their brother Arthur.

He was a prominent and able contributor to the "Library of Useful
Knowledge," and furnished a great part of the first of a whole
generation of delightful publications, Murray's "Hand-Book" for

One of the earliest of Alpine explorers, Arthur Malkin mounted to those
icy battlements which have since been scaled by a whole army of
besiegers, and planted the banner of English courage and enterprise on
"peaks, passes, and glaciers" which, when he first climbed the shining
summits of the Alps, were all but _terra incognita_ to his countrymen.

There is nothing more familiar to the traveling and reading British
public nowadays than Alpine adventures and their records; but when my
friend first conquered the passes between Evolena and Zermatt (still one
of the least overrun mountain regions of Switzerland), their sublime
solitudes were awful with the mystery of unexplored loneliness. Now
professors climb up them, and artists slide down them, and they are
photographed with "members" straddling over their dire crevasses, or
cutting capers on their scornful summits, or turning somersaults down
their infinite precipices. The air of the high Alps was inhaled by few
Englishmen before Arthur Malkin; one can not help thinking that now,
even on the top of the Matterhorn and Monte Rosa, it must have lost some
of its freshness.

I have said that all Dr. Malkin's sons were men of more than average
ability; but one, who never lived to be a man, "died a most rare boy" of
about six years, fully justifying by his extraordinary precocity and
singular endowments the tribute which his bereaved father paid his
memory in a modest and touching record of his brief and remarkable

My Parisian education appeared, at this time, to have failed signally in
the one especial result that might have been expected from it: all my
French dancing lessons had not given me a good deportment, nor taught me
to hold myself upright. I stooped, slouched, and poked, stood with one
hip up and one shoulder down, and exhibited an altogether disgracefully
ungraceful carriage, which greatly afflicted my parents. In order that I
might "bear my body more seemly," various were the methods resorted to;
among others, a hideous engine of torture of the backboard species, made
of steel covered with red morocco, which consisted of a flat piece
placed on my back, and strapped down to my waist with a belt and secured
at the top by two epaulets strapped over my shoulders. From the middle
of this there rose a steel rod or spine, with a steel collar which
encircled my throat and fastened behind. This, it was hoped, would
eventually put my shoulders down and my head up, and in the meantime I
had the appearance of a young woman walking about in a portable pillory.
The ease and grace which this horrible machine was expected to impart to
my figure and movements were, however, hardly perceptible after
considerable endurance of torture on my part, and to my ineffable joy it
was taken off (my harness, as I used to call it; and no knight of old
ever threw off his iron shell with greater satisfaction), and I was
placed under the tuition of a sergeant of the Royal Foot Guards, who
undertook to make young ladies carry themselves and walk well, and not
exactly like grenadiers either. This warrior having duly put me through
a number of elementary exercises, such as we see the awkward squads on
parade grounds daily drilled in, took leave of me with the verdict, that
I "was fit to march before the Duke of York," then commander of the
forces; and, thanks to his instructions, I remained endowed with a flat
back, well-placed shoulders, an erect head, upright carriage, and
resolute step.

I think my education had come nearly to a standstill at this period,
for, with the exception of these physical exercises, and certain hours
of piano-forte practicing and singing lessons, I was left very much to
the irregular and unsystematic reading which I selected for myself. I
had a good contralto voice, which my mother was very desirous of
cultivating, but I think my progress was really retarded by the
excessive impatience with which her excellent ear endured my
unsuccessful musical attempts. I used to practice in her sitting-room,
and I think I sang out of tune and played false chords oftener, from
sheer apprehension of her agonized exclamations, than I should have done
under the supervision of a less sensitively organized person. I remember
my sister's voice and musical acquirements first becoming remarkable at
this time, and giving promise of her future artistic excellence. I
recollect a ballad from the Mexican opera by Bishop, called Cortex, "Oh,
there's a Mountain Palm," which she sang with a clear, high, sweet, true
little voice and touching expression, full of pathos, in which I used to
take great delight.

The nervous terror which I experienced when singing or playing before my
mother was carried to a climax when I was occasionally called upon to
accompany the vocal performances of our friendly acquaintance, James
Smith (one of the authors of the "Rejected Addresses"). He was famous
for his humorous songs and his own capital rendering of them, but the
anguish I endured in accompanying him made those comical performances of
his absolutely tragical to me; the more so that he had a lion-like cast
of countenance, with square jaws and rather staring eyes. But perhaps he
appeared so stern-visaged only to me; while he sang everybody laughed,
but I perspired coldly and felt ready to cry, and so have but a
lugubrious impression of some of the most amusing productions of that
description, heard to the very best advantage (if I could have listened
to them at all) as executed by their author.

Among our most intimate friends at this time were my cousin Horace Twiss
and his wife. I have been reminded of him in speaking of James Smith,
because he had a good deal of the same kind of humor, not unmixed with a
vein of sentiment, and I remember his songs, which he sang with great
spirit and expression, with the more pleasure that he never required me
to accompany them. One New-Year's Eve that he spent with us, just before
going away he sang charmingly some lines he had composed in the course
of the evening, the graceful turn of which, as well as the feeling with
which he sang them, were worthy of Moore. I remember only the burden:

    "Oh, come! one genial hour improve,
       And fill one measure duly;
     A health to those we truly love,
       And those who love us truly!"

And this stanza:

    "To-day has waved its parting wings,
       To join the days before it;
     And as for what the morning brings,
       The morning's mist hangs o'er it."

It was delightful to hear him and my mother talk together, and their
disputes, though frequent, seemed generally extremely amicable, and as
diverting to themselves as to us. On one occasion he ended their
discussion (as to whether some lady of their acquaintance had or had not
gone somewhere) by a vehement declaration which passed into a proverb in
our house: "Yes, yes, she did; for a woman will go anywhere, at any
time, with anybody, to see any thing--especially in a gig." Those were
days in which a gig was a vehicle the existence of which was not only
recognized in civilized society, but supposed to confer a diploma of
"gentility" upon its possessor.

Horace Twiss was one of the readiest and most amusing talkers in the
world, and when he began to make his way in London society, which he
eventually did very successfully, ill-natured persons considered his
first step in the right direction to have been a repartee made in the
crush-room of the opera, while standing close to Lady L----, who was
waiting for her carriage. A man he was with saying, "Look at that fat
Lady L----; isn't she like a great white cabbage?" "Yes," answered
Horace, in a discreetly loud tone, "she _is_ like one--all heart, I
believe." The white-heart cabbage turned affably to the rising
barrister, begged him to see her to her carriage, and gave him the
_entrée_ of H---- House. Lord Clarendon subsequently put him in
Parliament for his borough of Wootton-Basset, and for a short time he
formed part of the ministry, holding one of the under-secretaryships. He
was clever, amiable, and good-tempered, and had every qualification for
success in society.

He had married a Miss Searle, one of his mother's pupils at the
fashionable Bath boarding-school, the living image of Scott's Fenella,
the smallest woman that I have ever seen, with fairy feet and tiny
hands, the extraordinary power of which was like that of a steel talon.
On one occasion, when Horace Twiss happened to mention that his bright
little spark of a wife sat working in his library by him, while he was
engaged with his law or business papers, my mother suggested that her
conversation must disturb him. "Oh, she doesn't talk," said he, "but I
like to hear the scissors fall," a pretty conjugal reply, that left a
pleasant image in my mind. His only child by her, a daughter, married
first Mr. Bacon, then editor of the _Times_, and, after his death, John
Delane, who succeeded him in that office and still holds it; so that her
father said "she took the _Times_ and Supplement."

About this time I began to be aware of the ominous distresses and
disturbances connected with the affairs of the theater, that were to
continue and increase until the miserable subject became literally the
sauce to our daily bread; embittering my father's life with incessant
care and harassing vexation; and of the haunting apprehension of that
ruin which threatened us for years, and which his most strenuous efforts
only delayed, without averting it.

The proprietors were engaged in a lawsuit with each other, and finally
one of them threw the whole concern into chancery; and for years that
dreary chancery suit seemed to envelop us in an atmosphere of
palpitating suspense or stagnant uncertainty, and to enter as an
inevitable element into every hope, fear, expectation, resolution,
event, or action of our lives.

How unutterably heart-sick I became of the very sound of its name, and
how well I remember the expression on my father's careworn face one day,
as he turned back from the door, out of which he was going to his daily
drudgery at the theater, to say to my aunt, who had reproached him with
the loss of a button from his rather shabby coat, "Ah, Dall, my dear,
you see it is my chancery suit!"

Lord Eldon, Sir John Leach, Lord Lyndhurst, and Lord Brougham were the
successive chancellors before whom the case was heard; the latter was a
friend of my family, and on one occasion my father took me to the House
of Lords to hear the proceedings. We were shown into the chancellor's
room, where he indeed was not, but where his huge official wig was
perched upon a block; the temptation was irresistible, and for half a
minute I had the awful and ponderous periwig on my pate.

While we were still living in Soho Square our house was robbed; or
rather, my father's writing-desk was broken open, and sixty sovereigns
taken from it--a sum that he could very hardly spare. He had been at the
theater, acting, and my mother had spent the evening at some friend's
house, and the next morning great was the consternation of the family on
finding what had happened. The dining-room sideboard and _cellarette_
had been opened, and wine and glasses put on the table, as if our
robbers had drank our good health for the success of their attempt.

A Bow Street officer was sent for; I remember his portly and imposing
aspect very well; his name was Salmon, and he was a famous member of his
fraternity. He questioned my mother as to the honesty of our servants;
we had but three, a cook, housemaid, and footman, and for all of these
my mother answered unhesitatingly; and yet the expert assured her that
very few houses were robbed without connivance from within.

The servants were had up and questioned, and the cook related how,
coming down first thing in the morning, she had found a certain back
scullery window open, and, alarmed by that, had examined the lower
rooms, and found the dining-room table set out with the decanters and
glasses. Having heard her story, the officer, as soon as she left the
room, asked my mother if any thing else besides the money had been
taken, and if any quantity of the wine had been drank. She said, "No,"
and with regard to the last inquiry, she supposed, as the cook had
suggested when the decanters were examined, that the thieves had
probably been disturbed by some alarm, and had not had time to drink

Mr. Salmon then requested to look at the kitchen premises; the cook
officiously led the way to the scullery window, which was still open,
"just as she found it," she said, and proceeded to explain how the
robbers must have got over the wall of a court which ran at the back of
the house. When she had ended her demonstrations and returned to the
kitchen, Salmon, who had listened silently to her story of the case,
detained my mother for an instant, and rapidly passed his hand over the
outside window-sill, bringing away a thick layer of undisturbed dust,
which the passage of anybody through the window must infallibly have
swept off. Satisfied at once of the total falsity of the cook's
hypothesis, he told my mother that he had no doubt at all that she was a
party to the robbery, that the scullery window and dining-room drinking
scene were alike mere blinds, and that in all probability she had let
into the house whoever had broken open the desk, or else forced it
herself, having acquired by some means a knowledge of the money it
contained; adding, that in the very few words of interrogatory which had
passed between him and the servants, in my mother's presence, he had
felt quite sure that the housemaid and man were innocent; but had
immediately detected something in the cook's manner that seemed to him
suspicious. What a fine tact of guilt these detectives acquire in their
immense experience of it! The cook was not prosecuted, but dismissed,
the money, of course, not being recoverable; it was fortunate that
neither she nor her honest friends had any suspicion of the contents of
three boxes lying in the drawing-room at this very time. They were
large, black leather cases, containing a silver helmet, shield, and
sword, of antique Roman pattern and beautiful workmanship--a public
tribute bestowed upon my uncle, and left by him to my father; they have
since become an ornamental trophy in my sister's house. They were then
about to be sent for safe keeping to Coutts's bank, and in the meantime
lay close to the desk that had been rifled of a more portable but far
less valuable booty.

Upon my uncle John's death his widow had returned to England, and fixed
her residence at a charming place called Heath Farm, in Hertfordshire.
Lord Essex had been an attached friend of my uncle's, and offered this
home on his property to Mrs. Kemble when she came to England, after her
long sojourn abroad with my uncle, who, as I have mentioned, spent the
last years of his life, and died, at Lausanne. Mrs. Kemble invited my
mother to come and see her soon after she settled in Hertfordshire, and
I accompanied her thither. Cashiobury Park thus became familiar ground
to me, and remains endeared to my recollection for its own beauty, for
the delightful days I passed rambling about it, and for the beginning of
that love bestowed upon my whole life by H---- S----. Heath Farm was a
pretty house, at once rural, comfortable, and elegant, with a fine
farm-yard adjoining it, a sort of cross between a farm and a manor
house; it was on the edge of the Cashiobury estate, within which it
stood, looking on one side over its lawn and flower-garden to the grassy
slopes and fine trees of the park, and on the other, across a road which
divided the two properties, to Lord Clarendon's place, the Grove. It had
been the residence of Lady Monson before her (second) marriage to Lord
Warwick. Close to it was a pretty cottage, also in the park, where lived
an old Miss M----, often visited by a young kinswoman of hers, who
became another of my life-long friends. T---- B----, Miss M----'s niece,
was then a beautiful young woman, whose singularly fine face and sweet
and spirited expression bore a strong resemblance to two eminently
handsome people, my father and Mademoiselle Mars. She and I soon became
intimate companions, though she was several years my senior. We used to
take long rambles together, and vaguely among my indistinct
recollections of her aunt's cottage and the pretty woodland round it,
mix sundry flying visions of a light, youthful figure, that of Lord
M----, then hardly more than a lad, who seemed to haunt the path of his
cousin, my handsome friend, and one evening caused us both a sudden
panic by springing out of a thicket on us, in the costume of a
Harlequin. Some years after this, when I was about to leave England for
America, I went to take leave of T---- B----. She was to be married the
next day to Lord M----, and was sitting with his mother, Lady W----, and
on a table near her lay a set of jewels, as peculiar as they were
magnificent, consisting of splendid large opals set in diamonds, black
enamel, and gold....

To return to our Cashiobury walks: T---- B---- and I used often to go
together to visit ladies, the garden round whose cottage overflowed in
every direction with a particular kind of white and maroon pink, the
powerful, spicy odor of which comes to me, like a warm whiff of summer
sweetness, across all these intervening fifty years. Another favorite
haunt of ours was a cottage (not of gentility) inhabited by an old man
of the name of Foster, who, hale and hearty and cheerful in extreme old
age, was always delighted to see us, used to give us choice flowers and
fruit out of his tiny garden, and make me sit and sing to him by the
half-hour together in his honeysuckle-covered porch. After my first
visit to Heath Farm some time elapsed before we went thither again. On
the occasion of our second visit Mrs. Siddons and my cousin Cecilia were
also Mrs. Kemble's guests, and a lady of the name of H---- S----. She
had been intimate from her childhood in my uncle Kemble's house, and
retained an enthusiastic love for his memory and an affectionate
kindness for his widow, whom she was now visiting on her return to
England. And so I here first knew the dearest friend I have ever known.
The device of her family is "Haut et Bon:" it was her description. She
was about thirty years old when I first met her at Heath Farm; tall and
thin, her figure wanted roundness and grace, but it was straight as a
dart, and the vigorous, elastic, active movements of her limbs, and
firm, fleet, springing step of her beautifully made feet and ankles,
gave to her whole person and deportment a character like that of the
fabled Atalanta, or the huntress Diana herself. Her forehead and eyes
were beautiful. The broad, white, pure expanse surrounded with thick,
short, clustering curls of chestnut hair, and the clear, limpid, bright,
tender gray eyes that always looked radiant with light, and seemed to
reflect radiance wherever they turned, were the eyes and forehead of
Aurora. The rest of her features were not handsome, though her mouth was
full of sensibility and sweetness, and her teeth were the most perfect I
ever saw. She was eccentric in many things, but in nothing more so than
the fashion of her dress, especially the coverings she provided for her
extremities, her hat and boots. The latter were not positively masculine
articles, but were nevertheless made by a man's boot-maker, and there
was only one place in London where they could be made sufficiently ugly
to suit her; and infinite were the pains she took to procure the heavy,
thick, cumbrous, misshapen things that as much as possible concealed and
disfigured her finely turned ankles and high, arched, Norman instep.
Indeed, her whole attire, peculiar (and very ugly, I thought it) as it
was, was so by malice prepense on her part. And whereas the general
result would have suggested a total disregard of the vanities of dress,
no Quaker coquette was ever more jealous of the peculiar texture of the
fabrics she wore, or of the fashion in which they were made. She wore no
colors, black and gray being the only shades I ever saw her in; and her
dress, bare and bald of every ornament, was literally only a covering
for her body; but it was difficult to find cashmere fine enough for her
scanty skirts, or cloth perfect enough for her short spencers, or lawn
clear and exquisite enough for her curious collars and cuffs of
immaculate freshness.

I remember a similar peculiarity of dress in a person in all other
respects the very antipodes of my friend H----. My mother took me once
to visit a certain Miss W----, daughter of a Stafford banker, her very
dear friend, and the godmother from whom I took my second name of Anne.

This lady inhabited a quaint, picturesque house in the oldest part of
the town of Stafford. Well do I remember its oak-wainscoted and
oak-paneled chambers, and the fine old oak staircase that led from the
hall to the upper rooms; also the extraordinary abundance and delicacy
of our meals, particularly the old-fashioned nine o'clock supper, about
every item of which, it seemed to me, more was said and thought than
about any food of which I ever before or since partook. It was in this
homely palace of good cheer that a saying originated, which passed into
a proverb with us, expressive of a rather _un_nice indulgence of

One of the ladies, going out one day, called back to the servant who was
closing the door behind her: "Tell the cook not to forget the
sally-lunns" (a species of muffin) "for tea, well greased on both sides,
and we'll put on our cotton gowns to eat them."

The appearance of the mistress of this mansion of rather obsolete
luxurious comfort was strikingly singular. She was a woman about sixty
years old, tall and large and fat, of what Balzac describes as "un
embonpoint flottant," and was habitually dressed in a white linen
cambric gown, long and tending to train, but as plain and tight as a bag
over her portly middle person and prominent bust; it was finished at the
throat with a school-boy's plaited frill, which stood up round her heavy
falling cheeks by the help of a white muslin or black silk cravat. Her
head was very nearly bald, and the thin, short gray hair lay in distant
streaks upon her skull, white and shiny as an ostrich egg, which on the
rare occasions of her going out, or into her garden, she covered with a
man's straw or beaver hat.

It is curious how much minor eccentricity the stringent general spirit
of formal conformity allows individuals in England: nowhere else,
scarcely, in civilized Europe, could such a costume be worn in profound,
peaceful defiance of public usage and opinion, with perfect security
from insult or even offensive comment, as that of my mother's old
friend, Miss W----, or my dear H---- S----. In this same Staffordshire
family and its allies eccentricity seemed to prevail alike in life and
death; for I remember hearing frequent mention, while among them, of
connections of theirs who, when they died, one and all desired to be
buried in full dress and with their coffins _standing upright_.

To return to Heath Farm and my dear H----. Nobility, intelligence, and
tenderness were her predominating qualities, and her person, manner, and
countenance habitually expressed them.

This lady's intellect was of a very uncommon order; her habits of
thought and reading were profoundly speculative; she delighted in
metaphysical subjects of the greatest difficulty, and abstract questions
of the most laborious solution. On such subjects she incessantly
exercised her remarkably keen powers of analysis and investigation, and
no doubt cultivated and strengthened her peculiar mental faculties and
tendencies by the perpetual processes of metaphysical reasoning which
she pursued.

Between H---- S---- and myself, in spite of nearly twelve years'
difference in our age, there sprang up a lively friendship, and our time
at Heath Farm was spent in almost constant companionship. We walked and
talked together the livelong day and a good part of the night, in spite
of Mrs. Kemble's judicious precaution of sending us to bed with very
moderate wax candle ends; a prudent provision which we contrived to
defeat by getting from my cousin, Cecilia Siddons, clandestine alms of
fine, long, _life-sized_ candles, placed as mere supernumeraries on the
toilet table of a dressing-room adjoining her mother's bedroom, which
she never used. At this time I also made the acquaintance of my friend's
brother, who came down to Heath Farm to visit Mrs. Kemble and his
sister. He possessed a brilliant intellect, had studied for the bar, and
at the same time made himself favorably known by a good deal of clever
periodical writing; but he died too early to have fully developed his
genius, and left as proofs of his undoubtedly superior talents only a
few powerfully written works of fiction, indicating considerable
abilities, to which time would have given maturity, and more experience
a higher direction.

Among the principal interests of my London life at this time was the
production at our theater of Weber's opera, "Der Freyschütz." Few
operas, I believe, have had a wider or more prolonged popularity; none
certainly within my recollection ever had any thing approaching it.
Several causes conduced to this effect. The simple pathos of the love
story, and the supernatural element so well blended with it, which gave
such unusual scope to the stage effects of scenery, etc., were two
obvious reasons for its success.

From the inimitably gay and dramatic laughing chorus and waltz of the
first scene to the divine melody in which the heroine expresses her
unshaken faith in Heaven, immediately before her lover's triumph closes
the piece, the whole opera is a series of exquisite conceptions, hardly
one of which does not contain some theme or passage calculated to catch
the dullest and slowest ear and fix itself on the least retentive
memory; and though the huntsman's and bridesmaid's choruses, of course,
first attained and longest retained a street-organ popularity, there is
not a single air, duet, concerted piece, or chorus, from which extracts
were not seized on and carried away by the least musical memories. So
that the advertisement of a German gentleman for a valet, who to other
necessary qualifications was to add the indispensable one of not being
able to whistle a note of "Der Freyschütz," appeared a not unnatural
result of the universal furor for this music.

We went to hear it until we literally knew it by heart, and such was my
enthusiasm for it that I contrived to get up a romantic passion for the
great composer, of whom I procured a hideous little engraving (very ugly
he was, and very ugly was his "counterfeit presentment," with high
cheek-bones, long hooked nose, and spectacles), which, folded up in a
small square and sewed into a black silk case, I carried like an amulet
round my neck until I completely wore it out, which was soon after poor
Weber's death.


The immense success of "Der Freyschütz," and the important assistance it
brought to the funds of the theater, induced my father to propose to
Weber to compose an opera expressly for Covent Garden. The proposal met
with ready acceptance, and the chivalric fairy tale of Wieland's
"Oberon" was selected for the subject, and was very gracefully and
poetically treated by Mr. Planché, to whom the literary part of the
work--the libretto--was confided, and who certainly bestowed as much
pains on the versification of his lyrical drama as if it was not
destined to be a completely secondary object to the music in the public
estimation. Weber himself, however, was by no means a man to disregard
the tenor of the words and characters he was to associate with his
music, and was greatly charmed with his English coadjutor's operatic
version of Wieland's fairy epic. He was invited to come over to London
and himself superintend the production of his new work.

Representations of "Der Freyschütz" were given on his arrival, and night
after night the theater was crowded to see him preside in the orchestra
and conduct his own fine opera; and the enthusiasm of the London public
rose to fever height. Weber took up his abode at the house of Sir George
Smart, the leader of the Covent Garden orchestra, and our excellent old
friend--a capital musician and very worthy man. He was appointed
organist to King William IV., and for many years directed those
admirable performances of classical music called the Ancient Concerts.

He was a man of very considerable musical knowledge, and had a peculiar
talent for teaching and accompanying the vocal compositions of Handel.
During the whole of my father's management of Covent Garden, he had the
supervision of the musical representations and conducted the orchestra,
and he was principally instrumental in bringing out Weber's fine operas
of "Der Freyschütz" and "Oberon." Weber continued to reside in Sir
George Smart's house during the whole of his stay in London, and died
there soon after the production of his "Oberon." Sir George Smart was
the first person who presented Mendelssohn to me. I had been acting
Juliet one night, and at the end of the play was raised from the stage
by my kind old friend, who had been in the orchestra during the
performance, with the great composer, then a young man of nineteen, on
his first visit to England. He brought letters of introduction to my
father, and made his first acquaintance with me in my grave-clothes.
Besides my esteem and regard for Sir George's more valuable qualities, I
had a particular liking for some excellent snuff he always had, and used
constantly to borrow his snuff-box to sniff at it like a perfume, not
having attained a sufficiently mature age to venture upon "pinches;" and
a snuff-taking Juliet being inadmissible, I used to wish myself at the
elderly lady age when the indulgence might be becoming: but before I
attained it, snuff was no longer taken by ladies of any age, and now, I
think, it is used by very few men.

In a letter written to me by my mother, during my temporary absence from
London, just after the accession of King William IV., I find the
following passage with reference to Sir George Smart:

"London is all alive; the new king seems idolized by the people, and he
appears no less pleased with them; perhaps Sir George is amongst the
happiest of his subjects. His Majesty swears that nothing shall be
encouraged but _native talent_, and our friend is to get up a concert at
the Duke of Sussex's, where the royal family are all to dine, at which
none but English singers are to perform. Sir George dined with me on
Monday, and I perceive he has already arranged in his thoughts all he
proposes _to tell the queen about you_ on this occasion. It is evident
he flatters himself that he is to be deep in her Majesty's confidence."

Sir George Smart and his distinguished guest, Weber, were constantly at
our house while the rehearsals of "Oberon" went forward. The first day
they dined together at my father's was an event for me, especially as
Sir George, on my entering the room, took me by the hand, and drawing me
toward Weber, assured him that I and all the young girls in England were
over head and ears in love with him. With my guilty satchel round my
neck, I felt ready to sink with confusion, and stammered out something
about Herr von Weber's beautiful music, to which, with a comical,
melancholy smile, he replied, "Ah, my music! it is always my music, but
never myself!"

Baron Carl Maria von Weber was a noble-born Saxon German, whose very
irregular youth could hardly, one would suppose, have left him leisure
to cultivate or exercise his extraordinary musical genius; but though he
spent much of his early life in wild dissipation, and died in middle
age, he left to the world a mass of compositions of the greatest variety
and beauty, and a name which ranks among the most eminent in his
pre-eminently musical country. He was a little thin man, lame of one
foot, and with a slight tendency to a deformed shoulder. His hollow,
sallow, sickly face bore an expression of habitual suffering and ill
health, and the long, hooked nose, salient cheek-bones, light, prominent
eyes, and spectacles were certainly done no more than justice to in the
unattractive representation of my cherished portrait of him.

He had the air and manner of a well-born and well-bred man of the world,
a gentle voice, and a slow utterance in English, which he spoke but
indifferently and with a strong accent; he generally conversed with my
father and mother in French. One of the first visits he paid to Covent
Garden was in my mother's box, to hear Miss Paton and Braham (his prima
donna and tenor) in an oratorio. He was enthusiastic in his admiration
of Braham's fine performance of one of Handel's magnificent songs
("Deeper and deeper still," I think), but when, in the second part of
the concert, which consisted of a selection of secular music, the great
singer threw the house into ecstasies, and was tumultuously encored in
the pseudo-Scotch ballad of "Blue Bonnets over the Border," he was
extremely disgusted, and exclaimed two or three times, "Ah, that is
_beast_!" (Ah, cela est bête!) to our infinite diversion. Much more
aggravating proof was poor Weber destined to have of the famous tenor's
love of mere popularity in his art, and strange enough, no doubt, to the
great German composer was the thirst for ignorant applause which induced
Braham to reject the beautiful, tender, and majestic opening air Weber
had written for him in the character of Huon, and insist upon the
writing of a battle-piece which might split the ears of the groundlings
and the gods, and furnish him an opportunity for making some of the
startling effects of lyrical declamation which never failed to carry his
audience by storm.

No singer ever delivered with greater purity or nobler breadth Handel's
majestic music; the masterly simplicity of his execution of all really
fine compositions was worthy of his first-rate powers; but the desire of
obtaining by easier and less elevated means the acclamations of his
admirers seemed irresistible to him, and "Scots wha hae," with the
flourish of his stick in the last verse, was a sure triumph which he
never disdained. Weber expressed unbounded astonishment and contempt at
this unartistic view of things, and with great reluctance at length
consented to suppress, or rather transfer to the overture, the noble and
pathetic melody designed for Huon's opening song, for which he submitted
the fine warlike cantata beginning--

    "Oh,'tis a glorious sight to see
     The charge of the Christian chivalry!"

in which, to be sure, Braham charged with the Christians, and routed the
Paynims, and mourned for the wounded, and wept for the dead, and
returned in triumph to France in the joyous cabaletta, with wonderful
dramatic effect, such as, no doubt, the other song would never have
enabled him to produce. But the success of the song did not reconcile
Weber to what he considered the vulgarity and inappropriateness of its
subject, and the circumstance lowered his opinion both of the English
singer and of the English public very grievously.

How well I remember all the discussions of those prolonged, repeated,
anxious, careful rehearsals, and the comical despair of which Miss
Paton, the heroine of the opera, was the occasion to all concerned, by
the curious absence of dramatic congruity of gesture and action which
she contrived to combine with the most brilliant and expressive
rendering of the music. In the great shipwreck scene, which she sang
magnificently, she caught up the short end of a sash tied around her
waist, and twirled it about without unfastening it, by way of signaling
from the top of a rock for help from a distant vessel, the words she
sang being, "Quick, quick, for a signal this scarf shall be _waved_!"
This performance of hers drew from my father the desperate exclamation,
"That woman's an inspired idiot!" while Weber limped up and down the
room silently wringing his hands, and Sir George Smart went off into
ecstatic reminiscences of a certain performance of my mother's, when--in
some musical arrangement of "Blue Beard" (by Kelly or Storace, I think),
in the part of Sister Anne--she waved and signaled and sang from the
castle wall, "I see them galloping! I see them galloping!" after a very
different fashion, that drew shouts of sympathetic applause from her

Miss Paton married Lord William Lennox, was divorced from her husband
and married Mr. Wood, and pursued her career as a public singer for many
years successfully after this event; nor was her name in any way again
made a subject of public animadversion, though she separated herself
from Mr. Wood, and at one time was said to have entertained thoughts of
going into a Roman Catholic nunnery. Her singing was very admirable, and
her voice one of the finest in quality and compass that I ever heard.
The effects she produced on the stage were very remarkable, considering
the little intellectual power or cultivation she appeared to possess. My
father's expression of "an inspired idiot," though wrung from him by the
irritation of momentary annoyance, was really not inapplicable to her.
She sang with wonderful power and pathos her native Scotch ballads, she
delivered with great purity and grandeur the finest soprano music of
Handel, and though she very nearly drove poor Weber mad with her
apparent want of intelligence during the rehearsals of his great opera,
I have seldom heard any thing finer than her rendering of the difficult
music of the part of Reiza, from beginning to end, and especially the
scene of the shipwreck, with its magnificent opening recitative, "Ocean,
thou mighty monster!"

"Oberon" was brought out and succeeded; but in a degree so far below the
sanguine expectations of all concerned, that failure itself, though more
surprising, would hardly have been a greater disappointment than the
result achieved at such a vast expenditure of money, time, and labor.
The expectations of the public could not have been realized by any work
which was to be judged by comparison with their already permanent
favorite, "Der Freyschütz." No second effort could have seemed any thing
but second-best, tried by the standard of that popular production; and
whatever judgment musicians and connoisseurs might pronounce as to the
respective merits of the two operas, the homely test of the "proof of
the pudding" being "in the eating" was decidedly favorable to the
master's earlier work; and my own opinion is, that either his
"Euryanthe" or his "Preciosa" would have been more popular with the
general English public than the finer and more carefully elaborated
music of "Oberon." The story of the piece (always a main consideration
in matters of art, with average English men and women) wanted interest,
certainly, as compared with that of its predecessor; the chivalric loves
and adventures of Huon of Bordeaux and the caliph's daughter were
indifferent to the audience, compared with the simple but deep interest
of the fortunes of the young German forester and his village bride; and
the gay and brilliant fairy element of the "Oberon" was no sort of
equivalent for the startling _diablerie_ of Zamiel, and the incantation
scene. The music, undoubtedly of a higher order than that of "Der
Freyschütz," was incomparably more difficult and less popular. The whole
of the part of Reiza was trying in the extreme, even to the powers of
the great singer for whom it was written, and quite sure not to be a
favorite with prime donne from its excessive strain upon the voice,
particularly in what is the weaker part of almost all soprano registers;
and Reiza's first great aria, the first song of the fairy king, and
Huon's last song in the third act, are all compositions of which the
finest possible execution must always be without proportionate effect on
any audience, from the extreme difficulty of rendering them and their
comparative want of melody. By amateurs, out of Germany, the performance
of any part of the music was not likely ever to be successfully
attempted; and I do not think that a single piece in the opera found
favor with the street organists, though the beautiful opening chorus was
made into a church hymn by discarding the exquisite aerial fairy
symphonies and accompaniments; and the involuntary dance of the caliph's
court and servants at the last blast of the magical horn was for a short
time a favorite waltz in Germany.

Poor Weber's health, which had been wretched before he came to England,
and was most unfavorably affected by the climate, sank entirely under
the mortification of the comparatively small success of his great work.
He had labored and fretted extremely with the rehearsals, and very soon
after its production he became dangerously ill, and died--not, as people
said, of a broken heart, but of disease of the lungs, already far
advanced when he came to London, and doubtless accelerated by these
influences. He died in Sir George Smart's house, who gave me, as a
memorial of the great composer whom I had so enthusiastically admired, a
lock of his hair, and the opening paragraph of his will, which was
extremely touching and impressive in its wording.

The plaintive melody known as "Weber's Waltz" (said to have been his
last composition, found after his death under his pillow) was a tribute
to his memory by some younger German composer (Reichardt or Ries); but
though not his own, it owed much of its popularity to his name, with
which it will always be associated. Bellini transferred the air,
verbatim, into his opera of "Beatrice di Tenda," where it appears in her
song beginning, "Orombello, ah Sciagurato!" A circumstance which tended
to embitter a good deal the close of Weber's life was the arrival in
London of Rossini, to whom and to whose works the public immediately
transferred its demonstrations of passionate admiration with even more,
than its accustomed fickleness. Disparaging comparisons and contrasts to
Weber's disadvantage were drawn between the two great composers in the
public prints; the enthusiastic adulation of society and the great world
not unnaturally followed the brilliant, joyous, sparkling, witty
Italian, who was a far better subject for London _lionizing_ than his
sickly, sensitive, shrinking, and rather soured German competitor for
fame and public favor.

The proud, morbid sensitiveness of the Northern genius was certainly in
every respect the very antipodes of the healthy, robust, rejoicing,
artistic nature of the Southern.

No better instance, though a small one, perhaps, could be given of the
tone and temper in which Rossini was likely to encounter both adverse
criticism and the adulation of amateur idolatry, than his reply to the
Duchess of Canizzaro, one of his most fanatical worshipers, who asked
him which he considered his best comic opera; when, with a burst of
joyous laughter, he named "Il Matrimonio Secreto," Cimarosa's enchanting
_chef-d'oeuvre_, from which, doubtless, Rossini, after the fashion of
great geniuses, had accepted more than one most felicitous suggestion,
especially that of the admirable finale to the second act of the
"Barbiere." It was during this visit of his to London, while Weber lay
disappointed and dying in the dingy house in Great Portland Street, that
this same Duchess of Canizzaro, better known by her earlier title of
Countess St. Antonio, as a prominent leader of fashionable taste in
musical matters, invited all the great and gay and distinguished world
of London to meet the famous Italian composer; and, seated in her
drawing-room with the Duke of Wellington and Rossini on either side of
her, exclaimed, "Now I am between the two greatest men in Europe." The
Iron Duke not unnaturally rose and left his chair vacant; the great
genius retained his, but most assuredly not without humorous
appreciation of the absurdity of the whole scene, for he was almost
"plus fin que tous les autres," and certainly "bien plus fin que tous
_ces_ autres."

About this time I returned again to visit Mrs. Kemble at Heath Farm, and
renew my days of delightful companionship with H---- S----. Endless were
our walks and talks, and those were very happy hours in which, loitering
about Cashiobury Park, I made its echoes ring with the music of
"Oberon," singing it from beginning to end--overture, accompaniment,
choruses, and all; during which performances my friend, who was no
musician, used to keep me company in sympathetic silence, reconciled by
her affectionate indulgence for my enthusiasm to this utter postponement
of sense to sound. What with her peculiar costume and my bonnetless head
(I always carried my bonnet in my hand when it was possible to do so)
and frenzied singing, any one who met us might have been justified in
supposing we had escaped from the nearest lunatic asylum.

Occasionally we varied our rambles, and one day we extended them so far
that the regular luncheon hour found us at such a distance from home,
that I--hungry as one is at sixteen after a long tramp--peremptorily
insisted upon having food; whereupon my companion took me to a small
roadside ale-house, where we devoured bread and cheese and drank beer,
and while thus vulgarly employed beheld my aunt's carriage drive past
the window. If that worthy lady could have seen us, that bread and
cheese which was giving us life would inevitably have been her death;
she certainly would have had a stroke of apoplexy (what the French call
_foudroyante_), for gentility and propriety were the breath of life to
her, and of the highest law of both, which can defy conventions, she
never dreamed.

Another favorite indecorum of mine (the bread and cheese was mere mortal
infirmity, not moral turpitude) was wading in the pretty river that ran
through Lord Clarendon's place, the Grove; the brown, clear, shallow,
rapid water was as tempting as a highland brook, and I remember its
bright, flashing stream and the fine old hawthorn trees of the avenue,
alternate white and rose-colored, like clouds of fragrant bloom, as one
of the sunniest pictures of those sweet summer days.

The charm and seduction of bright water has always been irresistible to
me, a snare and a temptation I have hardly ever been able to withstand;
and various are the chances of drowning it has afforded me in the wild
mountain brooks of Massachusetts. I think a very attached maid of mine
once saved my life by the tearful expostulations with which she opposed
the bewitching invitations of the topaz-colored flashing rapids of
Trenton Falls, that looked to me in some parts so shallow, as well as so
bright, that I was just on the point of stepping into them, charmed by
the exquisite confusion of musical voices with which they were
persuading me, when suddenly a large tree-trunk of considerable weight
shot down their flashing surface and was tossed over the fall below,
leaving me to the natural conclusion, "Just such a log should I have
been if I had gone in there." Indeed, my worthy Marie, overcome by my
importunity, having selected what seemed to her a safe, and to me a very
tame, bathing-place, in another and quieter part of the stream, I had
every reason, from my experience of the difficulty of withstanding its
powerful current there, to congratulate myself upon not having tried the
experiment nearer to one of the "springs" of the lovely torrent, whose
Indian name is the "Leaping Water." Certainly the pixies--whose cousin
my friends accused me of being, on account of my propensity for their
element--if they did not omit any opportunity of alluring me, allowed me
to escape scathless on more than one occasion, when I might have paid
dearly for being so much or so little related to them.

This fascination of living waters for me was so well known among my
Lenox friends of all classes, that on one occasion a Yankee Jehu of our
village, driving some of them by the side of a beautiful mountain brook,
said, "I guess we should hardly have got Mrs. Kemble on at all,
alongside of this stream," as if I had been a member of his _team_, made
restive by the proximity of water. A pool in a rocky basin, with foaming
water dashing in and out of it, was a sort of trap for me, and I have
more than once availed myself of such a shower-bath, without any further
preparation than taking my hat and shoes and stockings off. Once, on a
visit to the Catskills, during a charming summer walk with my dear
friend, Catherine Sedgwick, I walked into the brook we were coasting,
and sat down in the water, without at all interrupting the thread of our
conversation; a proceeding which, of course, obliged me to return to the
hotel dripping wet, my companion laughing so immoderately at my
appearance, that, as I represented to her, it was quite impossible for
me to make anybody believe that I had met with an accident and _fallen_
into the water, which was the impression I wished (in the interest of my
reputation for sanity) to convey to such spectators as we might

On another occasion, coming over the Wengern Alp from Grindelwald one
sultry summer day, my knees were shaking under me with the steep and
prolonged descent into Lauterbrunnen. Just at the end of the wearisome
downward way an exquisite brook springs into the Lutschine, as it flies
through the valley of waterfalls, and into this I walked straight, to
the consternation of my guides and dear companion, a singularly
dignified little American lady, of Quaker descent and decorum, who was
quite at a loss to conceive how, after such an exploit, I was to present
myself to the inhabitants, tourists, and others of the little street and
its swarming hotels, in my drenched and dripping condition; but, as I
represented to her, nothing would be easier: "I shall get on my mule and
ride sprinkling along, and people will only say, 'Ah, cette pauvre dame!
qui est tombée à l'eau!'"

My visit to my aunt Kemble was prolonged beyond the stay of my friend
H----, and I was left alone at Heath Farm. My walks were, of course,
circumscribed, and the whole complexion of my life much changed by my
being given over to lonely freedom limited only by the bounds of our
pleasure-grounds, and my living converse with my friend exchanged for
unrestricted selection from my aunt's book-shelves; from which I made a
choice of extreme variety, since Lord Byron and Jeremy Taylor were among
the authors with whom I then first made acquaintance, my school
introduction to the former having been followed up by no subsequent

I read them on alternate days, sitting on the mossy-cushioned lawn,
under a beautiful oak tree, with a cabbage-leaf full of fresh-gathered
strawberries and a handful of fresh-blown roses beside me, which
Epicurean accompaniments to my studies appeared to me equally adapted to
the wicked poet and the wise divine. Mrs. Kemble in no way interfered
with me, and was quite unconscious of the subjects of my studies; she
thought me generally "a very odd girl," but though I occasionally took a
mischievous pleasure in perplexing her by fantastical propositions, to
which her usual reply was a rather acrimonious "Don't be absurd, Fanny,"
she did not at all care to investigate my oddity, and left me to my own

Among her books I came upon Wraxall's "Memoirs of the House of Valois,"
and, reading it with great avidity, determined to write an historical
novel, of which the heroine should be Françoise de Foix, the beautiful
Countess de Châteaubriand. At this enterprise I now set eagerly to work,
the abundant production of doggerel suffering no diminution from this
newer and rather soberer literary undertaking, to which I added a brisk
correspondence with my absent friend, and a task she had set me (perhaps
with some vague desire of giving me a little solid intellectual
occupation) of copying for her sundry portions of "Harris's Hermes;" a
most difficult and abstruse grammatical work, much of which was in
Latin, not a little in Greek. All these I faithfully copied, Chinese
fashion, understanding the English little better than the two dead
languages which I transcribed--the Greek without much difficulty, owing
to my school-day proficiency in the alphabet of that tongue. These
literary exercises, walks within bounds, drives with my aunt, and the
occasional solemnity of a dinner at Lord Essex's, were the events of my
life till my aunt, Mrs. Whitelock, came to Heath Farm and brought an
element of change into the procession of our days.

I think these two widowed ladies had entertained some notion that they
might put their solitude together and make society; but the experiment
did not succeed, and was soon judiciously abandoned, for certainly two
more hopelessly dissimilar characters never made the difficult
experiment of a life in common.

Mrs. Kemble, before she went to Switzerland, had lived in the best
London society, with which she kept up her intercourse by zealous
correspondence; the names of lords and ladies were familiar in her mouth
as household words, and she had undoubtedly an undue respect for
respectability and reverence for titled folk; yet she was not at all
superficially a vulgar woman. She was quick, keen, clever, and shrewd,
with the air, manner, dress, and address of a finished woman of the
world. Mrs. Whitelock was simple-hearted and single-minded, had never
lived in any English society whatever, and retorted but feebly the
fashionable gossip of the day which reached Mrs. Kemble through the
London post, with her transatlantic reminiscences of Prince Talleyrand
and General Washington. She was grotesque in her manner and appearance,
and a severe thorn in the side of her conventionally irreproachable
companion, who has been known, on the approach of some coroneted
carriage, to observe pointedly, "Mrs. Whitelock, there is an
_ekkipage_." "I see it, ma'am," replied the undaunted Mrs. Whitelock,
screwing up her mouth and twirling her thumbs in a peculiarly emphatic
way, to which she was addicted in moments of crisis. Mrs. Kemble, who
was as quick as Pincher in her movements, rang the bell and snapped out,
"Not at home!" denying herself her stimulating dose of high-life gossip,
and her companion what she would have called a little "genteel
sociability," rather than bring face to face her fine friends and Mrs.
Whitelock's flounced white muslin apron and towering Pamela cap, for she
still wore such things. I have said that Mrs. Kemble was not
(superficially) a vulgar woman, but it would have taken the soul of
gentility to have presented, without quailing, her amazingly odd
companion to her particular set of visitors. A humorist would have found
his account in the absurdity of the scene all round; and Jane Austen
would have made a delicious chapter of it; but Mrs. Kemble had not the
requisite humor to perceive the fun of her companion, her acquaintances,
and herself in juxtaposition. I have mentioned her mode of pronouncing
the word equipage, which, together with several similar peculiarities
that struck me as very odd, were borrowed from the usage of London good
society in the days when she frequented it. My friend, Lord Lansdowne,
never called London any thing but _Lunnon_, and always said _obleege_
for oblige, like the Miss Berrys and Mrs. F---- and other of their
contemporaries, who also said _ekkipage_, _pettikits_, _divle_. Since
their time the pronunciation of English in good society, whose usage is
the only acknowledged law in that matter, and the grammatical
construction of the language habitual in that same good society, has
become such as would have challenged the severest criticism, if we had
ventured upon it in my father's house.

The unsuccessful partnership of my aunts was dissolved. Mrs. Kemble
found the country intolerably dull, declared that the grass and trees
made her sick, and fixed her abode in Leamington, then a small,
unpretending, pretty country town, which (principally on account of the
ability, reputation, and influence of its celebrated and popular
resident physician, Dr. Jephson) was a sort of aristocratic-invalid Kur
Residenz, and has since expanded into a thriving, populous, showy,
semi-fashionable, Anglo-American watering-place in summer, and
hunting-place in winter. Mrs. Kemble found the Leamington of her day a
satisfactory abode; the Æsculapius, whose especial shrine it was, became
her intimate friend; the society was comparatively restricted and
select; and the neighborhood, with Warwick Castle, Stoneleigh Abbey, and
Guy's Cliff, full of state and ancientry, within a morning's drive, was
(which she cared less for) lovely in every direction. Mrs. Whitelock
betook herself to a really rural life in a cottage in the beautiful
neighborhood of Addlestone, in Surrey, where she lived in much simple
content, bequeathing her small mansion and estate, at her death, to my
mother, who passed there the last two years of her life and died there.
I never returned to Heath Farm again; sometimes, as I steam by Watford,
the image of the time I spent there rises again before me, but I pass
from it at forty miles an hour, and it passed from me upwards of forty
years ago.

We were now occupying the last of the various houses which for a series
of years we inhabited at Bayswater; it belonged to a French Jew diamond
seller, and was arranged and fitted up with the peculiar tastefulness
which seems innate across the Channel, and inimitable even on the
English side of it. There was one peculiarity in the drawing-room of
this house which I have always particularly liked: a low chimney with a
window over it, the shutter to which was a sliding panel of
looking-glass, so that both by day and candle light the effect was
equally pretty.

At this time I was promoted to the dignity of a bedroom "to myself,"
which I was able to make into a small study, the privacy of which I
enjoyed immensely, as well as the window opening above our suburban bit
of garden, and the sloping meadows beyond it. The following letters,
written at this time to my friend Miss S----, describe the interests and
occupations of my life. It was in the May of 1827. I was between sixteen
and seventeen, which will naturally account for the characteristics of
these epistles.

                                                 BAYSWATER, May, 1827.
     DEAR H----:

     I fear you will think me forgetful and unkind in not having
     answered your last letter; but if you do, you are mistaken--nor
     ungrateful, which my silence, after the kind interest you have
     taken in me and mine, seems to be. But when I tell you that besides
     the many things that have occupied my mind connected with the
     present situation of our affairs, my hands have been full of work
     nearly as dismal as my thoughts--mourning--you will easily
     understand and excuse the delay.

     Do not be alarmed; the person for whom we are in black has been so
     little known to me since my childhood, was so old and infirm, and
     so entirely cheerful, resigned, and even desirous of leaving this
     world, that few, even of those who knew and loved him better than I
     did, could, without selfishness, lament his release. Mr. Twiss, the
     father of my cousin Horace, is dead lately; and it is of him that I
     speak. He has unfortunately left three daughters, who, though doing
     well for themselves in the world, will now feel a sad void in the
     circle of their home affections and interests.

     And now, dear H----, for myself, or ourselves, rather; for, as you
     may well suppose, my whole thoughts are taken up with our

     I believe in my last I told you pretty nearly all I knew, or indeed
     any of us knew, of our affairs; the matter is now much clearer, and
     not a whit pleasanter.

     It seems that my father, as proprietor of Covent Garden Theater, in
     consequence of this lawsuit and the debts which encumber the
     concern, is liable at any time to be called upon for twenty-seven
     thousand pounds; which, for a man who can not raise five thousand,
     is not a pleasant predicament. On the other hand, Mr. Harris, our
     adversary, and joint proprietor with my father, is also liable to
     enormous demands, if the debts should be insisted upon at present.

     The creditors have declared that they are entirely satisfied that
     my father, and Messrs. Forbes and Willett, the other partners, have
     done every thing with respect to them which honorable men could do,
     and offer to wait till some compromise can be made with Mr. Harris,
     who, it is thought, will be willing to enter into any arrangement
     rather than be irretrievably ruined, as we all must be unless some
     agreement takes place between the proprietors. In the meantime, the
     lawyers have advised our party to appeal from the decision of the
     Vice-Chancellor. Amid all this perplexity and trouble, we have had
     the satisfaction of hearing that John and Henry are both doing
     well; we received a letter from the latter a short time ago, full
     of affection and kindness to us all. I wish you could have seen my
     father's countenance as he read it, and with what fondness and
     almost gratitude he kissed dear Henry's name, while the tears were
     standing in his eyes. I can not help thinking sometimes that my
     father deserved a less hard and toilsome existence.

     He has resolved that, come what may, he will keep those boys at
     their respective schools, if he can by any means compass it; and if
     (which I fear is the case) he finds Bury St. Edmunds too expensive,
     we shall remove to Westminster, in order that Henry's education may
     not suffer from our circumstances. Last Thursday was my father's
     benefit, and a very indifferent one, which I think is rather hard,
     considering that he really slaves night and day, and every night
     and every day, in that theater. Cecilia Siddons and I have opened a
     poetical correspondence; she writes very prettily indeed. Perhaps,
     had she not had such a bad subject as myself to treat of, I might
     have said more of her verses. You will be sorry to hear that not
     only my poor mother's health, but what is almost as precious, her
     good spirits, have been dreadfully affected by all her anxiety;
     indeed, her nerves have been so utterly deranged that she has been
     alternately deaf and blind, and sometimes both, for the last
     fortnight. Thank Heaven she is now recovering!

                                    CRAVEN HILL, BAYSWATER, May, 1827.
     MY DEAREST H----:

     I received your letter the day before yesterday, and felt very much
     obliged to you for it, and was particularly interested by your
     description of Kenilworth, round which Walter Scott's admirable
     novel has cast a halo of romance forever; for many who would have
     cared little about it as the residence of Leicester, honored for
     some days by the presence of Elizabeth, will remember with a thrill
     of interest and pity the night poor Amy Robsart passed there, and
     the scene between her, Leicester, and the queen, when that prince
     of villains, Varney, claims her as his wife. But in spite of the
     romantic and historical associations belonging to the place, I do
     not think it would have "inspired my muse."

     Of our affairs I know nothing, except that we are going to remove
     to Westminster, on account of Henry's schooling, as soon as we can
     part with this house.

     You will be glad to hear that my mother is a great deal better,
     though still suffering from nervousness. She desires to be most
     kindly remembered to you and to my aunt Kemble, and would feel very
     much obliged to you if you can get from Mrs. Kemble the name and
     address of the man who built her pony carriage. Do this, and send
     it in the next letter you write to me, which must be long, but not
     "long a-coming."

     I am glad you like Miss W----, but take care not to like her better
     than me; and I am very glad you think of Heath Farm sometimes, for
     there, I know, I must be in some corner or other of the picture, be
     the foreground what it may. At this time, when the hawthorn is all
     out and the nightingales are singing, even here, I think of the
     quantities of May we gathered for my wreaths, and the little scrap
     of the nightingale's song we used to catch on the lawn between tea
     and bedtime. I have been writing a great deal of poetry--at least I
     mean it for such, and I hope it is not all very bad, as my father
     has expressed himself surprised and pleased at some things I read
     him lately. I wish I could send you some of my perpetrations, but
     they are for the most part so fearfully long that it is impossible.
     You ask about my uncle's monument: I can tell you nothing about it
     at present; it is where the memory of the public, the perseverance
     of the projectors, Flaxman's genius, and John Kemble's fame are. Do
     you know where that is? No more do I.

                                 CRAVEN HILL, BAYSWATER, June 8, 1827.
     MY DEAR H----:

     I am sure you will rejoice with us all when I inform you that John
     has at length exerted himself successfully, and has obtained one of
     the highest literary honors conferred by Cambridge on its students:
     these are his tutor's very words, therefore I leave you to imagine
     how delighted and grateful we all are; indeed, the day we received
     the intelligence, we all, with my father at our head, looked more
     like hopeful candidates for Bedlam than any thing else. My poor
     father jumped, and clapped his hands, and kissed the letter, like a
     child; as my mother says, "I am glad he has one gleam of sunshine,
     at least;" he sadly wanted it, and I know nothing that could have
     given him so much pleasure. Pray tell my aunt Kemble of it. I dare
     say she will be glad to hear it. [My brother's tutor was Mr.
     Peacock, the celebrated mathematician, well known at Cambridge as
     one of the most eminent members of the university, and a private
     tutor of whom all his pupils were deservedly proud; even those who,
     like my brother John, cultivated the classical studies in
     preference to the severe scientific subjects of which Mr. Peacock
     was so illustrious a master. His praise of my brother was
     regretful, though most ungrudging, for his own sympathy was
     entirely with the intellectual pursuits for which Cambridge was
     peculiarly famous, as the mathematical university, in
     contradistinction to the classical tendency supposed to prevail at
     this time among the teachers and students of Oxford.]

     And now let me thank you for your last long letter, and the
     detailed criticism it contained of my lines; if they oftener passed
     through such a wholesome ordeal, I should probably scribble less
     than I do. You ask after my novel of "Françoise de Foix," and my
     translation of Sismondi's History; the former may, perhaps, be
     finished some time these next six years; the latter is, and has
     been, in Dr. Malkin's hands ever since I left Heath Farm. What you
     say of scriptural subjects I do not always think true; for
     instance, "By the waters of Babylon we sat down and wept," does not
     appear to me to have lost much beauty by Byron's poetical
     paraphrase. We are really going to leave this pleasant place, and
     take up our abode in Westminster; how I shall regret my dear little
     room, full of flowers and books, and with its cheerful view. Enfin
     il n'y faut plus penser. I have, luckily, the faculty of easily
     accommodating myself to circumstances, and though sorry to leave my
     little hermitage, I shall soon take root in the next place. With
     all my dislike to moving, my great wish is to travel; but perhaps
     that is not an absolute inconsistency, for what I wish is never to
     remain long enough in a place to take root, or, having done so,
     never to be transplanted. I am writing a journal, and its pages,
     like our many pleasant hours of conversation, are a whimsical
     medley of the sad, the sober, the gay, the good, the bad, and the
     ridiculous; not at all the sort of serious, solemn journal you
     would write.

                                   CRAVEN HILL, BAYSWATER, ----, 1827.
     MY DEAREST H----:

     I am afraid you are wondering once more whether I have the gout in
     my hands; but so many circumstances have latterly arisen to occupy
     my time and attention that I have had but little leisure for
     letter-writing. You are now once more comfortably re-established in
     your little turret chamber [Miss S----'s room in her home,
     Ardgillan Castle], which I intend to come and storm some day,
     looking over your pleasant lawn to the beautiful sea and hills. I
     ought to envy you, and yet, when I look round my own little
     snuggery, which is filled with roses and the books I love, and
     where not a ray of sun penetrates, though it is high noon and
     burning hot, I only envy you your own company, which I think would
     be a most agreeable addition to the pleasantness of my little room.
     I am sadly afraid, however, that I shall soon be called upon to
     leave it, for though our plans are still so unsettled as to make it
     quite impossible to say what will be our destination, it is, I
     think, almost certain that we shall leave this place.

     We have had Mrs. Henry Siddons, with her youngest daughter, staying
     with us for a short time; she is now going on through Paris to
     Switzerland, on account of my cousin's delicate health, which
     renders Scotland an unsafe residence for her. John is also at home
     just now, which, as you may easily believe, is an invaluable gain
     to me; I rather think, however, that my mother is not of that
     opinion, for he talks and thinks of nothing but politics, and she
     has a great dread of my becoming imbued with his mania; a needless
     fear, I think, however, for though I am willing and glad to listen
     to his opinions and the arguments of his favorite authors, I am
     never likely to study them myself, and my interest in the whole
     subject will cease with his departure for Cambridge.

     Henry returned from Bury St. Edmunds, and my father left us for
     Lancaster last night, and we are now in daily expectation of
     departing for Weybridge, so that the last fortnight has been one
     continual bustle.

     I have had another reason for not writing to you, which I have only
     just made up my mind to tell you. Dick ---- has been taking my
     likeness, or rather has begun to do so. I thought, dear H----, that
     you would like to have this sketch, and I was in hopes that the
     first letter you received in Ireland from me would contain it; but,
     alas! Dick is as inconstant and capricious as a genius need be, and
     there lies my fac-simile in a state of non-conclusion; they all
     tell me it is very like, but it does appear to me so pretty that I
     am divided between satisfaction and incredulity. My father, I
     lament to say, left us last night in very bad spirits. I never saw
     him so depressed, and feared that my poor mother would suffer
     to-day from her anxiety about him; however, she is happily pretty
     well to-day, and I trust will soon, what with Weybridge and
     pike-fishing, recover her health and spirits entirely.

     I suspect this will be the last summer we shall spend at Weybridge,
     as we are going to give our cottage up, I believe. I shall regret
     it extremely for my mother; it is agreeable to and very good for
     her. I do not care much about it for myself; indeed, I care very
     little where I go; I do not like leaving any place, but the tie of
     habit, which is quickly formed and strong in me, once broken, I can
     easily accommodate myself to the next change, which, however, I
     always pray may be the last. My mother and myself had yesterday a
     serious, and to me painful, conversation on the necessity of not
     only not hating society, but tolerating and mixing in it. She and
     my father have always been disinclined to it, but their
     disinclination has descended to me in the shape of active dislike,
     and I feel sometimes inclined to hide myself, to escape sitting
     down and communing with my fellow-creatures after the fashion that
     calls itself social intercourse. I can't help fancying (which,
     however, _may_ be a great mistake) that the hours spent in my own
     room reading and writing are better employed than if devoted to
     people and things in which I feel no interest whatever, and do not
     know how to pretend the contrary.

     I must do justice to my mother, however, for any one more
     reasonable, amiable, and kind, in this as in most respects, can not
     exist than herself; but nevertheless, when I went to bed last night
     I sat by my open window, looking at the moon and thinking of my
     social duties, and then scribbled endless doggerel in a highly
     Byronic mood to deliver my mind upon the subject, after which,
     feeling amazingly better, I went to bed and slept profoundly,
     satisfied that I had given "society" a death-blow. But really,
     jesting apart, the companionship of my own family--those I live
     with, I mean--satisfies me entirely, and I have not the least
     desire for any other.

     Good-by, my dearest H----; do not punish me for not writing sooner
     by not answering this for two months; but be a nice woman and write
     very soon to yours ever,


     P.S.--I am reading the memoirs of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, la
     Grande Mademoiselle, written by herself: if you never read them,
     do; they are very interesting and amusing.

The "Dick" mentioned in this letter was the nephew of my godmother, Miss
A---- W----, of Stafford, and son of Colonel ----, a Staffordshire
gentleman of moderate means, who went to Germany and settled at
Darmstadt, for the sake of giving a complete education in foreign
languages and accomplishments to his daughters. His eldest son was in
the Church. They resided at the little German court till the young girls
became young women, remarkable for their talents and accomplishments. In
the course of their long residence at Darmstadt they had become intimate
with the reigning duke and his family, whose small royalty admitted of
such friendly familiarity with well-born and well-bred foreigners. But
when Colonel ---- brought his wife and daughters back to England, like
most other English people who try a similar experiment, the change from
being decided _somebodies_ in the court circle of a German principality
(whose sovereign was chiefly occupied, it is true, with the government
of his opera-house) to being decided _nobodies_ in the huge mass of
obscure, middle-class English gentility, was all but intolerable to

The peculiar gift of their second son, my eccentric friend Richard, was
a genius for painting, which might have won him an honored place among
English artists, had he ever chosen to join their ranks as a competitor
for fame and fortune.

                             EASTLANDS COTTAGE, WEYBRIDGE, ----, 1827.
     MY DEAR H----:

     I wrote to you immediately upon our arriving here, which is now
     nearly a month ago, but having received no answer, and not having
     heard from you for some time, I conjecture that our charming
     post-office has done as it did last year, and kept my letters to
     itself. I therefore take the opportunity, which my brother's
     departure for town to-morrow gives me, of writing to you and having
     my letter posted in London. John's going to town is an extreme loss
     to me, for here we are more thrown together and companionable than
     we can be in London. His intellectual occupations and interests
     engross him very much, and though always very interesting to me,
     are seldom discussed with or communicated to me as freely there as
     they are here--I suppose for want of better fellowship. I have
     latterly, also, summoned up courage enough to request him to walk
     with me; and to my some surprise and great satisfaction, instead of
     the "I can't, I am really so busy," he has acquiesced, and we have
     had one or two very pleasant long strolls together. He is certainly
     a very uncommon person, and I admire, perhaps too enthusiastically,
     his great abilities.

     My father is in Paris, where he was to arrive yesterday, and where
     to-morrow he will act in the first regularly and decently organized
     English theater that the French ever saw. He is very nervous, and
     we, as you may easily conceive, very anxious about it; when next I
     write to you I will let you know all that we hear of the result. I
     must repeat some part of my last letter, in case you did not
     receive it. We have taken a house in James Street, Buckingham Gate,
     Westminster, which appears to be in every way a desirable and
     convenient abode; in itself it is comfortable and cheerful, and its
     nearness to Henry's school and comparative nearness to the theatre,
     together with its view over the park, and (though last, not least)
     its moderate rent, make up a mass of combined advantages which few
     other situations that we could afford can present.

     I am extremely busy, dearest H----, and extremely elated about my
     play; I know I mentioned it before to you, but you may have
     reckoned it as one of the soap-bubbles which I am so fond of
     blowing, admiring, and forgetting; however, when I tell you that I
     have finished three acts of it, and that the proprietors of Covent
     Garden have offered me, if it succeeds, two hundred pounds (the
     price Miss Mitford's "Foscari" brought her), you will agree that I
     have some reason to be proud as well as pleased.

     As nobody but myself can give you any opinion of it, you must be
     content to take my own, making all allowances for etc., etc., etc.
     I think, irrespective of age or sex, it is not a bad play--perhaps,
     considering both, a tolerably fair one; there is some good writing
     in it, and good situations; the latter I owe to suggestions of my
     mother's, who is endowed with what seems to me really a science by
     itself, i.e. the knowledge of producing dramatic effect; more
     important to a playwright than even true delineation of character
     or beautiful poetry, in spite of what Alfieri says: "Un attore che
     dirà bene, delle cose belle si farà ascoltare per forza." But the
     "ben dire cose belle" will not make a play without striking
     situations and effects succeed, for all that; at any rate with an
     English audience of the present day. Moreover (but this, as well as
     everything about my play, must be _entre nous_ for the present), my
     father has offered me either to let me sell my play to a
     bookseller, or to buy it for the theatre at fifty pounds.

     Fifty pounds is the very utmost that any bookseller would give for
     a successful play, _mais en revanche_, by selling my play to the
     theater it cannot be read or known as a literary work, and as to
     make a name for myself as a writer is the aim of my ambition, I
     think I shall decline his offer. My dearest H----, this quantity
     about myself and my pursuits will, I am afraid, appear very
     egotistical to you, but I rely on your unchangeable affection for
     me to find some interest in what is interesting me so much.

                     Always you most affectionate


The success of the English theater in Paris was quite satisfactory; and
all the most eminent members of the profession--Kean, Young, Macready,
and my father--went over in turn to exhibit to the Parisian public
Shakespeare the Barbarian, illustrated by his barbarian
fellow-countrymen. I do not remember hearing of any very eminent actress
joining in that worthy enterprise; but Miss Smithson, a young lady with
a figure and face of Hibernian beauty, whose superfluous native accent
was no drawback to her merits in the esteem of her French audience,
represented to them the heroines of the English tragic drama; the
incidents of which, infinitely more startling than any they were used
to, invested their fair victim with an amazing power over her foreign
critics, and she received from them, in consequence, a rather
disproportionate share of admiration--due, perhaps, more to the
astonishing circumstances in which she appeared before them than to the
excellence of her acting under them.

One of the most enthusiastic admirers of the English representations
said to my father, "Ah! parlez moi d'Othello! voilà, voilà la passion,
la tragédie. Dieu! que j'aime cette pièce! il y a tant de

A few rash and superficial criticisms were hardly to be avoided; but in
general, my father has often said, in spite of the difficulty of the
foreign language, and the strangeness of the foreign form of thought and
feeling and combination of incident, his Parisian audience never
appeared to him to miss the finer touches or more delicate and refined
shades of his acting; and in this respect he thought them superior to
his own countrymen. Lamartine and Victor Hugo had already proclaimed the
enfranchisement of French poetical thought from the rigid rule of
classical authority; and all the enthusiastic believers in the future
glories of the "Muse Romantique" went to the English theater, to be
amazed, if not daunted, by the breadth of horizon and height of empyrean
which her wings might sweep, and into which she might soar, "puisque
Shakespeare l'a bien osé."

                  ST. JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, October 11, 1827,
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I do not think you would have been surprised at my delay in
     answering your last, when I told you that on arriving here I found
     that all my goods and chattels had been (according to my own
     desire) only removed hither, and that their arrangement and
     bestowal still remained to be effected by myself; and when I tell
     you that I have settled all these matters, and moreover _finished
     my play_, I think you will excuse my not having answered you
     sooner. Last Monday, having in the morning achieved the termination
     of the fourth act, and finding that my father did not act on
     Tuesday, I resolved, if possible, to get it finished in order to
     read it to him on Tuesday evening. So on Monday evening at six
     o'clock I sat down to begin my fifth act, and by half-past eleven
     had completed my task; I am thus minute because I know you will not
     think these details tiresome, and also because, even if it succeeds
     and is praised and admired, I shall never feel so happy as when my
     father greeted my entrance into the drawing-room with, "Is it done,
     my love? I shall be the happiest man alive if it succeeds!"

     On Tuesday evening I read it to them, and I was so encouraged by
     the delighted looks my father and mother were continually
     exchanging, that I believe I read it with more effect than they
     either of them had thought me capable of. When it was done I was
     most richly rewarded, for they all seemed so pleased with me and so
     proud of me, that the most inordinate author's vanity would have
     been satisfied. And my dear mother, oh, how she looked at
     me!--forgive me, dear, and grant some little indulgence to my
     exultation. I thought I deserved some praise, but thrice my deserts
     were showered upon me by those I love above everything in the

     When commendation and congratulation had a little given way to
     reflection, my mother and John entreated my father not to let the
     play be acted, or, if he did, to have it published first; for they
     said (and their opinion has been sanctioned by several literary
     men) that the work as a literary production (I repeat what they
     say, mind) has merit enough to make it desirable that the public
     should judge of it as a poetical composition before it is submitted
     to the mangling necessary for the stage.

     Of course, my task being finished, I have nothing more to do with
     it; nor do I care whether it is published first or after, provided
     only it may be acted: though I dare say that process may not prove
     entirely satisfactory to me either; for though Mr. Young and my
     father would thoroughly embody my conception of the parts intended
     for them, yet there is a woman's part which, considering the
     materials history has furnished, ought to be a very fine
     one--Louisa of Savoy; and it must be cut down to the capacity of a
     second-rate actress. The character would have been the sort of one
     for Mrs. Siddons; how I wish she was yet in a situation to afford
     it the high preferment of her acceptance!

     My father has obtained a most unequivocal success in Paris, the
     more flattering as it was rather doubtful, and the excellent
     Parisians not only received him very well, but forthwith threw
     themselves into a headlong _furor_ for Shakespeare and Charles
     Kemble, which, although they might not improbably do the same
     to-morrow for two dancing dogs, _we_ are quite willing to attribute
     to the merits of the poet and his interpreter. The French papers
     have been profuse in their praises of both, and some of our own
     have quoted their commendations. My mother is, I think, recovering,
     though slowly, from her long illness. She is less deaf, and rather
     less blind; but for the general state of her health, time, and time
     alone, will, I am sure, restore it entirely. I have just seen the
     dress that my father had made abroad for his part in my play: a
     bright amber-colored _velours épinglé_, with a border of rich
     silver embroidery; this, together with a cloak of violet velvet
     trimmed with imitation sable. The fashion is what you see in all
     the pictures and prints of Francis I. My father is very anxious, I
     think, to act the play; my mother, to have it published before it
     is acted; and I sit and hear it discussed and praised and
     criticised, only longing (like a "silly wench," as my mother calls
     me when I confess as much to her) to see my father in his lovely
     dress and hear the _alarums of my fifth act_.

     I am a little mad, I suppose, and my letter a little tipsy, I dare
     say, but I am ever your most affectionate


                                                     October 21, 1827.
     MY DEAR H----,

     Your letter was short and sweet, but none the sweeter for being
     short. I should have thought no one could have been worse provided
     than myself with news or letter chit-chit, and yet I think my
     letters are generally longer than yours; brevity, in you, is a
     fault; do not be guilty of it again: "car du reste," as Madame de
     Sévigné says, "votre style est parfait." John returned to Cambridge
     on Thursday night. He is a great loss to me, for though I have seen
     but little of him since our return to town, that little is too much
     to lose of one we love. He is an excellent fellow in every way, and
     in the way of abilities he is particularly to my mind. We all miss
     him very much; however, his absence will be broken now by visits to
     London, in order to keep his term [about this time my brother was
     entered at the Inner Temple, I think], so that we shall
     occasionally enjoy his company for a day or two. I should like to
     tell you something about my play, but unluckily have nothing to
     tell; everything about it is as undecided as when last I wrote to
     you. It is in the hands of the copyist of Covent Garden, but what
     its ultimate fate is to be I know not. If it is decided that it is
     to be brought out on the stage before publication, that will not
     take place at present, because this is a very unfavorable time of
     year. If I can send it to Ireland, tell me how I can get it
     conveyed to you, and I will endeavor to do so. I should like you to
     read it, but oh, _how_ I should like to go and see it acted with
     you! I am now full of thoughts of writing a comedy, and have drawn
     out the plan of one--plot, acts, and scenes in due order--already;
     and I mean to make it Italian and mediæval, for the sake of having
     one of those bewitching creatures, a jester, in it; I have an
     historical one in my play, Triboulet, whom I have tried to make an
     interesting as well as an amusing personage.

     My mother, by the aid of a blister and _my play_, is, I think,
     recovering, though slowly, from her illness; she is still, though,
     in a state of great suffering, which is by no means alleviated by
     being unable to write, read, work, or occupy herself in any manner.

     We have been to the play pretty regularly twice a week for the last
     three weeks, and shall continue to do so during the whole winter;
     which is a plan I much approve of. I am very fond of going to the
     play, and Kean, Young, and my father make one of Shakespeare's
     plays something well worth seeing. I saw the "Merchant of Venice"
     the other evening, for the first time, and returned home a violent
     _Keanite_. That man is an extraordinary creature! Some of the
     things he did, appeared, on reflection, questionable to my judgment
     and open to criticism; but while under the influence of his amazing
     power of passion it is impossible to reason, analyze, or do
     anything but surrender one's self to his forcible appeals to one's
     emotions. He entirely divested Shylock of all poetry or elevation,
     but invested it with a concentrated ferocity that made one's blood
     curdle. He seemed to me to combine the supernatural malice of a
     fiend with the base reality of the meanest humanity. His passion is
     prosaic, but all the more intensely terrible for that very reason.
     I am to see him to-morrow in "Richard III.," and, though I never
     saw the play before, am afraid I shall be disappointed, because
     Richard III. is a Plantagenet Prince, and should be a royal
     villain, and I am afraid Mr. Kean will not have the innate
     _majesty_ which I think belongs to the part; however, we shall see,
     and when next I write I will tell you how it impressed me.

     You deserve that I should bestow all my tediousness upon you, for
     loving me as well as you do. Mrs. Harry Siddons and her daughter
     are here for two or three days, on their return from their tour
     through Switzerland. Mrs. Harry is all that is excellent, though
     she does not strike me as particularly clever; and Lizzy is a very
     pretty, very good, very sweet, very amiable girl. Her brother, my
     cousin, the midshipman, is here too, having come up from Portsmouth
     to meet his mother and sister, so that the house is full. Think of
     that happy girl having travelled all through Switzerland, seen the
     Jungfrau--Manfred's mountain--been in two violent storms at night
     on the lakes, and telling me placidly that "she liked it all very
     well." Oh dear, oh dear! how queerly Heaven does distribute
     privileges! Good-by, dear.

                             Yours ever,

                 16 ST. JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, December, 1827.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     My heart is full of joy, and I write that you may rejoice with me;
     our dear John has distinguished himself greatly, but lest my words
     should seem sisterly and exaggerated, I will repeat what Mr.
     Peacock, his tutor, wrote to my father: "He has covered himself
     with glory. Such an oration as his has not been heard for many
     years in Cambridge, and it was as tastefully and modestly delivered
     as it was well written." This has made us all _very, very_ happy,
     and though the first news of it overcame my poor mother, whose
     nerves are far from firm, she soon recovered, and we are
     impatiently expecting his return from college. My play is at
     present being pruned by my father, and will therefore not occupy my
     thoughts again till it comes out, which I hope will be at Easter. I
     did not write sooner, because I had nothing to say; but now that
     this joy about my brother has come to me, _je te l'envoie_. Since
     last you heard from me I have seen the great West India Dock and
     the Thames Tunnel. Oh, H----, "que c'est une jolie chose que
     l'homme!" Annihilated by any one of the elements if singly opposed
     to its power, he by his genius yet brings their united forces into
     bondage, and compels obedience from all their manifold combined
     strength. We penetrate the earth, we turn the course of rivers, we
     exalt the valleys and bow down the mountains; and we die and return
     to our dust, and they remain and remember us no more. Often enough,
     indeed, the names of great inventors and projectors have been
     overshadowed or effaced by mere finishers of their work or adapters
     of their idea, who have reaped the honor and emolument due to an
     obscure originator, who passes away from the world, his rightful
     claim to its admiration and gratitude unknown or unacknowledged.
     But these obey the law of their being; they cannot but do the work
     God's inspiration calls them to.

     But I must tell you what this tunnel is like, or at least try to do
     so. You enter, by flights of stairs, the first door, and find
     yourself on a circular platform which surrounds the top of a well
     or shaft, of about two hundred feet in circumference and five
     hundred in depth. This well is an immense iron frame of cylindrical
     form, filled in with bricks; it was constructed on level ground,
     and then, by some wonderful mechanical process, sunk into the
     earth. In the midst of this is a steam engine, and above, or below,
     as far as your eye can see, huge arms are working up and down,
     while the creaking, crashing, whirring noises, and the swift
     whirling of innumerable wheels all round you, make you feel for the
     first few minutes as if you were going distracted. I should have
     liked to look much longer at all these beautiful, wise, working
     creatures, but was obliged to follow the last of the party through
     all the machinery, down little wooden stairs and along tottering
     planks, to the bottom of the well. On turning round at the foot of
     the last flight of steps through an immense dark arch, as far as
     sight could reach stretched a vaulted passage, smooth earth
     underfoot, the white arches of the roof beyond one another
     lengthening on and on in prolonged vista, the whole lighted by a
     line of gas lamps, and as bright, almost, as if it were broad day.
     It was more like one of the long avenues of light that lead to the
     abodes of the genii in fairy tales, than anything I had ever
     beheld. The profound stillness of the place, which was first broken
     by my father's voice, to which the vaulted roof gave extraordinary
     and startling volume of tone, the indescribable feeling of
     subterranean vastness, the amazement and delight I experienced,
     quite overcame me, and I was obliged to turn from the friend who
     was explaining everything to me, to cry and ponder in silence. How
     I wish you had been with us, dear H----! Our name is always worth
     something to us: Mr. Brunel, who was superintending some of the
     works, came to my father and offered to conduct us to where the
     workmen were employed--an unusual favor, which of course delighted
     us all. So we left our broad, smooth path of light, and got into
     dark passages, where we stumbled among coils of ropes and heaps of
     pipes and piles of planks, and where ground springs were welling up
     and flowing about in every direction, all which was very strange.
     As you may have heard, the tunnel caved in once, and let the Thames
     in through the roof; and in order that, should such an accident
     occur again, no lives may be lost, an iron frame has been
     constructed--a sort of cage, divided into many compartments, in
     each of which a man with his lantern and his tools is placed--and
     as they clear the earth away this iron frame is moved onward and
     advances into new ground. All this was wonderful and curious beyond
     measure, but the appearance of the workmen themselves, all
     begrimed, with their brawny arms and legs bare, some standing in
     black water up to their knees, others laboriously shovelling the
     black earth in their cages (while they sturdily sung at their
     task), with the red, murky light of links and lanterns flashing and
     flickering about them, made up the most striking picture you can
     conceive. As we returned I remained at the bottom of the stairs
     last of all, to look back at the beautiful road to Hades, wishing I
     might be left behind, and then we reascended, through wheels,
     pulleys, and engines, to the upper day. After this we rowed down
     the river to the docks, lunched on board a splendid East Indiaman,
     and came home again. I think it is better for me, however, to look
     at the trees, and the sun, moon, and stars, than at tunnels and
     docks; they make me too _humanity proud_.

     I am reading "Vivian Grey." Have you read it? It is very clever.

                     Ever your most affectionate


                  16 ST. JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, January, 1828.
     DEAREST H----,

     I jumped, in despite of a horrid headache, when I saw your letter.
     Indeed, if you knew how the sight of your handwriting delights me,
     you would not talk of lack of matter; for what have I to tell you
     of more interest for you, than the health and proceedings of those
     you love must be to me?

     Dear John is come home with his trophy. He is really a highly
     gifted creature; but I sometimes fear that the passionate eagerness
     with which he _pursues his pursuit_, the sort of frenzy he has
     about politics, and his constant excitement about political
     questions, may actually injure his health, and the vehemence with
     which he speaks and writes in support of his peculiar views will
     perhaps endanger his future prospects.

     He is neither tory nor whig, but a radical, a utilitarian, an
     adorer of Bentham, a worshiper of Mill, an advocate for vote by
     ballot, an opponent of hereditary aristocracy, the church
     establishment, the army and navy, which he deems sources of
     unnecessary national expense; though who is to take care of our
     souls and bodies, if the three last-named institutions are done
     away with, I do not quite see. Morning, noon, and night he is
     writing whole volumes of arguments against them, full of a good
     deal of careful study and reading, and in a close, concise,
     forcible style, which is excellent in itself, and the essays are
     creditable to his laborious industry; but they will not teach him
     mathematics, or give him a scholarship or his degree. That he will
     distinguish himself hereafter I have no doubt; but at present he is
     engrossed by a passion (for it seems to me nothing less) which
     occupies his mind and time, to the detriment, if not the exclusion,
     of all other studies.

     I feel almost ashamed of saying anything about myself, after the
     two or three scoldings you have sent me of late. Perhaps while my
     blue devils found vent in ridiculous verses, they did not much
     matter; but their having prompted me lately to throw between seven
     and eight hundred pages (about a year's work) into the fire, seems
     to me now rather deplorable. You perhaps will say that the fire is
     no bad place for seven or eight hundred pages of my manuscript; but
     I had spent time and pains on them, and I think they should not
     have been thrown away in a foolish fit of despondency. I am at
     present not very well. I do not mean that I have any specific
     illness, but headaches and side-aches, so that I am one moment in a
     state of feverish excitement and the next nervous and low-spirited;
     this is not a good account, but a true one.

     I have no "new friends," dearest H----; perhaps because my dislike
     to society makes me stupid and disagreeable when I am in it. I have
     made one acquaintance, which might perhaps grow to a friendship
     were it not that distance and its attendant inconveniences have
     hitherto prevented my becoming more intimate with the lady I refer
     to. She is a married woman; her name is Jameson. She is an
     Irishwoman, and the authoress of the "Diary of an Ennuyée." I like
     her very much; she is extremely clever; I wish I knew her better. I
     have been to one dance and one or two dinners lately, but to tell
     you the truth, dear H----, the old people naturally treat me after
     my years, as a young person, and the young people (perhaps from my
     self-conceit) seem to me stupid and uninteresting, and so, you see,
     I do not like society. Cecilia Siddons is out of town at present,
     and I have not seen her for some time. You may have heard that the
     theatre has gained a lawsuit against Sinclair, the celebrated
     singer, by a reversal of the former verdict in the case. We were
     not even aware that such a process was going on, and when my father
     came home and said, "We have won our cause," my mother and myself
     started up, supposing he meant _the_ chancery suit. That,
     unfortunately, is still pending, pending, like the sword of
     Damocles, over our heads, banishing all security for the present or
     hope for the future. The theatre is, I believe, doing very well
     just now, and we go pretty often to the play, which I like. I have
     lately been seeing my father playing Falstaff several times, and I
     think it is an excellent piece of acting; he gives all the humor
     without too much coarseness, or _charging_, and through the whole,
     according to the fat knight's own expression, he is "Sir John to
     all the world," with a certain courtly deportment which prevents
     him from degenerating into the mere gross buffoon. They are in sad
     want of a woman at both the theatres. I've half a mind to give
     Covent Garden one. Don't be surprised. I have something to say to
     you on this subject, but have not room for it in this letter. My
     father is just now acting in the north of England. We expect him
     back in a fortnight. God bless you, dear H----.

                             Yours ever,

The vehement passion of political interest which absorbed my brother at
this time was in truth affecting the whole of English society almost as
passionately. In a letter written in 1827, the Duke of Wellington, after
speaking of the strong partisan sentiment which was agitating the
country, added, "The ladies and all the youth are with us;" that is,
with the Tory party, which, under his leadership, was still an active
power of obstruction to the imminent changes to which both he and his
party were presently to succumb. His ministry was a period of the
stormiest excitement in the political world, and the importance of the
questions at issue--Catholic emancipation and parliamentary
reform--powerfully affected men's minds in the ranks of life least
allied to the governing class. Even in a home so obscure and so devoted
to other pursuits and interests as ours, the spirit of the times made
its way, and our own peculiar occupations became less interesting to us
than the intense national importance of the public questions which were
beginning to convulse the country from end to end. About this time I met
with a book which produced a great and not altogether favorable effect
upon my mind (the blame resting entirely with me, I think, and not with
what I read). I had become moody and fantastical for want of solid
wholesome mental occupation, and the excess of imaginative stimulus in
my life, and was possessed with a wild desire for an existence of lonely
independence, which seemed to my exaggerated notions the only one fitted
to the intellectual development in which alone I conceived happiness to
consist. Mrs. Jameson's "Diary of an Ennuyée," which I now read for the
first time, added to this desire for isolation and independence such a
passionate longing to go to Italy, that my brain was literally filled
with chimerical projects of settling in the south of Europe, and there
leading a solitary life of literary labor, which, together with the fame
I hoped to achieve by it, seemed to me the only worthy purpose of
existence. While under the immediate spell of her fascinating book, it
was of course very delightful to me to make Mrs. Jameson's acquaintance,
which I did at the house of our friends, Mr. and Mrs. Basil Montagu.
They were the friends of Coleridge, Hazlitt, Charles Lamb, Proctor
(Barry Cornwall, who married Mrs. Montagu's daughter), and were
themselves individually as remarkable, if not as celebrated, as many of
their more famous friends. Basil Montagu was the son of the Earl of
Sandwich and the beautiful Miss Wray, whose German lover murdered her at
the theatre by shooting her in her private box, and then blew his own
brains out. Mr. Montagu inherited ability, eccentricity, and personal
beauty, from his parents. His only literary productions that I am
acquainted with were a notice of Bacon and his works, which he published
in a small pamphlet volume, and another volume of extracts from some of
the fine prose writers of the seventeenth century. I have a general
impression that his personal intercourse gave a far better idea of his
intellectual ability than anything that he achieved either in his
profession or in letters.

His conversation was extremely vivid and sparkling, and the quaint
eccentricity of his manner added to the impression of originality which
he produced upon one. Very unlike the common run of people as he was,
however, he was far less so than his wife, who certainly was one of the
most striking and remarkable persons I have known. Her appearance was
extraordinary: she was much above middle height, with a beautiful figure
and face, the outline of which was of classical purity and severity,
while her whole carriage and appearance was dignified and majestic to
the highest degree. I knew her for upwards of thirty years, and never
saw her depart from a peculiar style of dress, which she had adopted
with the finest instinct of what was personally becoming as well as
graceful and beautiful in itself. She was so superior in this point to
her sex generally, that, having found that which was undoubtedly her own
proper individual costume, she never changed the fashion of it. Her
dress deserved to be called (what all dress should be) a lesser fine
art, and seemed the proper expression in clothes of her personality, and
really a part of herself. It was a long, open robe, over an underskirt
of the same material and color (always moonlight silver gray, amethyst
purple, or black silk or satin of the richest quality), trimmed with
broad velvet facings of the same color, the sleeves plain and tight
fitting from shoulder to wrist, and the bosom covered with a fine lace
half-body, which came, like the wimple of old mediæval portraits, up
round her throat, and seemed to belong in material and fashion to the
clear chin-stay which followed the noble contour of her face, and the
picturesque cap which covered, without concealing, her auburn hair and
the beautiful proportions of her exquisite head.

This lady knew no language but her own, and to that ignorance (which one
is tempted in these days occasionally to think desirable) she probably
owed the remarkable power and purity with which she used her mother
tongue. Her conversation and her letters were perfect models of spoken
and written English. Her marriage with Mr. Montagu was attended with
some singular circumstances, the knowledge of which I owe to herself.
She was a Yorkshire widow lady, and came with her only child (a little
girl) to visit some friends in London, with whom Basil Montagu was
intimate. Mrs. S---- had probably occasionally been the subject of
conversation between him and her hosts, when they were expecting her;
for one evening soon after her arrival, as she was sitting partly
concealed by one of the curtains in the drawing-room, Basil Montagu came
rapidly into the room, exclaiming (evidently not perceiving her), "Come,
where is your wonderful Mrs. S----? I want to see her." During the whole
evening he engrossed her attention and talked to her, and the next
morning at breakfast she laughingly complained to her hosts that he had
not been content with that, but had tormented her in dreams all night.
"For," said she, "I dreamt I was going to be married to him, and the day
before the wedding he came to me with a couple of boxes, and said
solemnly, 'My dear Anne, I want to confide these relics to your keeping;
in this casket are contained the bones of my dear first wife, and in
this those of my dear second wife; do me the favor to take charge of
them for me.'" The odd circumstance was that Basil Montagu had been
married twice, and that when he made his third matrimonial venture, and
was accepted by Mrs. S----, he appeared before her one day, and with
much solemnity begged her to take charge of two caskets, in which were
respectively treasured, not the bones, but the letters of her two
predecessors. It is quite possible that he might have heard of her dream
on the first night of their acquaintance, and amused himself with
carrying it out when he was about to marry her; but when Mrs. Montagu
told me the story I do not think she suggested any such rationalistic
solution of the mystery. Her daughter, Anne S---- (afterwards Mrs.
Procter), who has been all my life a kind and excellent friend to me,
inherited her remarkable mother's mental gifts and special mastery over
her own language; but she added to these, as part of her own
individuality, a power of sarcasm that made the tongue she spoke in and
the tongue she spoke with two of the most formidable weapons any woman
was ever armed with. She was an exceedingly kind-hearted person,
perpetually occupied in good offices to the poor, the afflicted, her
friends, and all whom she could in any way serve; nevertheless, such was
her severity of speech, not unfrequently exercised on those she appeared
to like best, that Thackeray, Browning, and Kinglake, who were all her
friendly intimates, sometimes designated her as "Our Lady of
Bitterness," and she is alluded to by that title in the opening chapter
of "Eothen." A daily volume of wit and wisdom might have been gathered
from her familiar talk, which was _crisp_, with suggestions of thought
in the liveliest and highest form. Somebody asking her how she and a
certain acrid critic of her acquaintance got on together, she replied,
"Oh, very well; we sharpen each other like two knives." Being
congratulated on the restoration of cordiality between herself and a
friend with whom she had had some difference, "Oh yes," said she, "the
cracked cup is mended, but it will never hold water again." Both these
ladies, mother and daughter, had a most extraordinary habit of crediting
their friends with their own wise and witty sayings; thus Mrs. Montagu
and Mrs. Procter would say, "Ah yes, you know, as you once said," and
then would follow something so sparkling, profound, concise, incisive,
and brilliant, that you remained, eyes and mouth open, gasping in
speechless astonishment at the merit of the saying you never said (and
couldn't have said if your life had depended on it), and the
magnificence of the gift its author was making you. The princes in the
Arabian Nights, who only gave you a ring worth thousands of sequins,
were shabby fellows compared with these ladies, who declared that the
diamonds and rubies of their own uttering had fallen from your lips.
Persons who lay claim to the good things of others are not rare; those
who do not only disclaim their own, but even credit others with them,
are among the very rarest. In all my intercourse with the inhabitants of
_two_ worlds, I have known no similar instance of self-denial; and
reflecting upon it, I have finally concluded that it was too superhuman
to be a real virtue, and could proceed only from an exorbitant
superabundance of natural gift, which made its possessors reckless,
extravagant, and even unprincipled in the use of their wealth; they had
wit enough for themselves, and to spare for all their friends, and these
were many.

At an evening party at Mrs. Montagu's, in Bedford Square, in 1828, I
first saw Mrs. Jameson. The Ennuyée, one is given to understand, dies;
and it was a little vexatious to behold her sitting on a sofa, in a very
becoming state of blooming _plumptitude_; but it was some compensation
to be introduced to her. And so began a close and friendly intimacy,
which lasted for many years, between myself and this very accomplished
woman. She was the daughter of an Irish miniature-painter of the name of
Murphy, and began life as a governess, in which capacity she educated
the daughters of Lord H----, and went to Italy with the family of Mrs.
R----. When I first knew her she had not long been married to Mr. Robert
Jameson, a union so ill-assorted that it restored Mrs. Jameson to the
bosom of her own family, to whom her conjugal ill-fortune proved a
blessing, for never did daughter and sister discharge with more loving
fidelity the duties of those relationships. Her life was devoted to her
parents while they lived, and after their death to her sisters and a
young niece whom she adopted. Her various and numerous gifts and
acquirements were exercised, developed, and constantly increased by a
life of the most indefatigable literary study, research, and labor. Her
reading was very extensive; her information, without being profound, was
general; she was an excellent modern linguist, and perfectly well versed
in the literature of her own country and of France, Germany, and Italy.
She had an uncommon taste and talent for art, and as she added to her
knowledge of the theory and history of painting familiar acquaintance
with most of the fine public and private galleries in Europe, a keen
sensibility to beauty, and considerable critical judgment, her works
upon painting, and especially the exceedingly interesting volumes she
published on the "Sacred and Legendary Art of the Romish Church," are at
once delightful and interesting sources of information, and useful and
accurate works of reference, to which considerable value is added by her
own spirited and graceful etchings.

The literary works of hers in which I have a direct personal interest,
are a charming book of essays on Shakespeare's female characters,
entitled "Characteristics of Women," which she did me the honor to
dedicate to me; some pages of letterpress written to accompany a series
of sketches John Hayter made of me in the character of Juliet; and a
notice of my sister's principal operatic performances after she came out
on the stage. Mrs. Jameson at one time contemplated writing a life of my
aunt Siddons, not thinking Boaden's biography of her satisfactory; in
this purpose, however, she was effectually opposed by Campbell, who had
undertaken the work, and, though he exhibited neither interest nor zeal
in the fulfillment of his task, doggedly (in the manger) refused to
relinquish it to her. Certainly, had Mrs. Jameson carried out her
intention, Mrs. Siddons would have had a monument dedicated to her
memory better calculated to preserve it than those which the above-named
gentlemen bestowed on her. It would have been written in a spirit of far
higher artistic discrimination, and with infinitely more sympathy both
with the woman and with the actress.


Late in middle life Mrs. Jameson formed an intimate acquaintance, which
at one time assumed the character of a close friendship, with Lady
Byron, under the influence of whose remarkable mind and character the
subjects of artistic and literary interest, which had till then absorbed
Mrs. Jameson's attention and occupied her pen, gave place to others of a
very different kind--those which engrossed for a time, to the exclusion
of almost all others, the minds of men and women in England at the
beginning of the Crimean War; when the fashion of certain forms of
philanthropy set by that wonderful woman, Florence Nightingale, was
making hospital nurses of idle, frivolous fine ladies, and turning into
innumerable channels of newly awakened benevolence and activity--far
more zealous than discreet--the love of adventure, the desire for
excitement, and the desperate need of occupation, of many women who had
no other qualifications for the hard and holy labors into which they
flung themselves.

Mrs. Jameson felt the impulse of the time, as it reached her through
Lady Byron and Miss Nightingale, and warmly embraced the wider and more
enlightened aspect of women's duties beginning to be advocated with
extreme enthusiasm in English society. One of the last books she
published was a popular account of foreign Sisters of Mercy, their
special duties, the organization of their societies, and the sphere of
their operations; suggesting the formation of similar bodies of
religiously charitable sisterhoods in England. She had this subject so
much at heart, she told me, that she had determined to give a series of
public lectures upon it, provided she found her physical power equal to
the effort of making herself heard by an audience in any public room of
moderate size. She tested the strength of her chest and voice by
delivering one lecture to an audience assembled in the drawing-rooms of
a friend; but, as she never repeated the experiment, I suppose she found
the exertion too great for her.

When first I met Mrs. Jameson she was an attractive-looking young woman,
with a skin of that dazzling whiteness which generally accompanies
reddish hair, such as hers was; her face, which was habitually refined
and _spirituelle_ in its expression, was capable of a marvelous power of
concentrated feeling, such as is seldom seen on any woman's face, and is
peculiarly rare on the countenance of a fair, small, delicately featured
woman, all whose personal characteristics were essentially feminine. Her
figure was extremely pretty; her hands and arms might have been those of
Madame de Warens.

Mrs. Jameson told me that the idea of giving public lectures had
suggested itself to her in the course of her conversations with Lady
Byron upon the possible careers that might be opened to women. I know
Lady Byron thought a very valuable public service might be rendered by
women who so undertook to advocate important truths of which they had
made special study, and for the dissemination of which in this manner
they might be especially gifted. She accepted in the most liberal manner
the claim put forward by women to more extended spheres of usefulness,
and to the adoption of careers hitherto closed to them; she was deeply
interested, personally, in some who made the arduous attempt of studying
and practicing medicine, and seemed generally to think that there were
many directions in which women might follow paths yet unopened, of high
and noble exertion, and hereafter do society and the cause of progress
good service.

Lady Byron was a peculiarly reserved and quiet person, with a manner
habitually deliberate and measured, a low, subdued voice, and rather
diffident hesitation in expressing herself: and she certainly conveyed
the impression of natural reticence and caution. But so far from ever
appearing to me to justify the description often given of her, of a
person of exceptionally cold, hard, measured intellect and character,
she always struck me as a woman capable of profound and fervid
enthusiasm, with a mind of rather a romantic and visionary order.

She surprised me extremely one evening as she was accompanying me to one
of my public readings, by exclaiming, "Oh, how I envy you! What would I
not give to be in your place!" As my vocation, I am sorry to say,
oftener appeared to me to justify my own regret than the envy of others,
I answered, "What! to read Shakespeare before some hundreds of people?"
"Oh no," she said; "not to read Shakespeare to them, but to have all
that mass of people under your control, subject to your influence, and
receiving your impressions." She then went on to say she would give
anything to lecture upon subjects which interested her deeply, and that
she should like to advocate with every power she possessed. Lady Byron,
like most enthusiasts, was fond of influencing others and making
disciples to her own views. I made her laugh by telling her that more
than once, when looking from my reading-desk over the sea of faces
uplifted towards me, a sudden feeling had seized me that I must say
something _from myself_ to all those human beings whose attention I felt
at that moment entirely at my command, and between whom and myself a
sense of sympathy thrilled powerfully and strangely through my heart, as
I looked steadfastly at them before opening my lips; but that, on
wondering afterwards _what_ I might, could, would, or should have said
to them from myself, I never could think of anything but two words: "Be
good!" which as a preface to the reading of one of Shakespeare's plays
("The Merry Wives of Windsor," for instance) might have startled them.
Often and strongly as the temptation recurred to me, I never could think
of anything better worth saying to my audience. I have some hope that
sometimes in the course of the reading I said it effectually, without
shocking them by a departure from my proper calling, or deserving the
rebuke of "Ne sutor ultra crepidam."

In February, 1828, I fell ill of the measles, of which the following
note to Miss S---- is a record.

     MY DEAREST H----,

     I am in a great hurry, because my parcel is not made up yet, and I
     expect your brother's emissary to call at every moment. I send you
     my play, also an album of mine, also an unfinished sketch of me,
     also a copy of my will. The play you must not keep, because it is
     my only copy; neither must you keep my album, because I want to
     finish one of the pieces of verse begun in it; my picture--such as
     it is--begun, but never finished, by Dick ----, I thought you would
     like better than nothing. He has finished one that is a very good
     likeness of me, but it was done for my mother, or I should have
     wished you to have it. My will I made last week, while I was in bed
     with the measles, and want you to keep that.

     I have been very ill for the last fortnight, but am well again now.
     I am pressed for time to-day, but will soon write to you in

     I'm afraid you'll find my play very long; when my poor father began
     cutting it, he looked ruefully at it, and said, "There's plenty of
     it, Fan," to which my reply is Madame de Sévigné's, "Si j'eusse eu
     plus de temps, je ne t'aurais pas écrit si longuement." Dear H----,
     if you knew how I thought of you, and the fresh, sweet mayflowers
     with which we filled our baskets at Heath Farm, while I lay parched
     and full of pain and fever in my illness!

                             Yours ever,

My beloved aunt Dall nursed and tended me in my sickness with unwearied
devotion; and one day when I was convalescent, finding me depressed in
spirits and crying, she said laughingly to me, "Why, child, there is
nothing the matter with you; but you are weak in body and mind." This
seemed to me the most degraded of all conceivable conditions, and I fell
into a redoublement of weeping over my own abasement and imbecility.

My attention was suddenly attracted to a large looking-glass opposite my
bed, and it occurred to me that in my then condition of nerves nothing
was more likely than that I should turn visionary and fancy I beheld
apparitions. And under this conviction I got up and covered the glass,
in which I felt sure I should presently "see sic sights as I daured na
tell." I speak of this because, though I was in a physical condition not
unlikely to produce such phenomena, I retained the power of perceiving
that they would be the result of my physical condition, and that I
should in some measure be accessory to my own terror, whatever form it
might assume.

I have so often in my life been on the very edge of ghost-seeing, and
felt so perfectly certain that the least encouragement on my part would
set them before me, and that nothing but a resolute effort of will would
save me from such a visitation, that I have become convinced that of the
people who have seen apparitions, one half have--as I should term
it--chosen to do so. I have all my life suffered from a tendency to
imaginary terrors, and have always felt sure that a determined exercise
of self-control would effectually keep them from having the dominion
over me. The most distressing form of nervous excitement that I have
ever experienced was one that for many years I was very liable to, and
which always recurred when I was in a state of unusual exaltation or
depression of spirits; both which states in me were either directly
caused or greatly aggravated by certain electrical conditions of the
atmosphere, which seemed to affect my whole nervous system as if I had
been some machine expressly constructed for showing and testing the
power of such influences on the human economy.

I habitually read while combing and brushing my hair at night, and
though I made no use of my looking-glass while thus employed, having my
eyes fixed on my book, I sat (for purposes of general convenience) at my
toilet table in front of the mirror. While engrossed in my book it has
frequently happened to me accidentally to raise my eyes and suddenly to
fix them on my own image in the glass, when a feeling of startled
surprise, as if I had not known I was there and did not immediately
recognize my own reflection, would cause me to remain looking at myself,
the intentness with which I did so increasing as the face appeared to me
not my own; and under this curious fascination my countenance has
altered, becoming gradually so dreadful, so much more dreadful in
expression than any human face I ever saw or could describe, while it
was next to impossible for me to turn my eyes away from the hideous
vision confronting me, that I have felt more than once that unless by
the strongest effort of will I immediately averted my head, I should
certainly become insane. Of course I was myself a party to this strange
fascination of terror, and must, no doubt, have exercised some power of
volition in the assumption of the expression that my face gradually
presented, and which was in no sense a distortion or grimace, but a
terrible look suggestive of despair and desperate wickedness, the memory
of which even now affects me painfully. But though in some measure
voluntary, I do not think I was conscious at the time that the process
was so; and I have never been able to determine the precise nature of
this nervous affection, which, beginning thus in a startled feeling of
sudden surprise, went on to such a climax of fascinated terror.

I was already at this time familiar enough with the theory of ghosts, of
which one need not be afraid, through Nicolai of Berlin's interesting
work upon the curious phantasmagoria of apparitions, on which he made
and recorded so many singular observations. Moreover, my mother, from a
combination of general derangement of the system and special affection
of the visual nerves, was at one time constantly tormented by whole
processions and crowds of visionary figures, of the origin and nature of
which she was perfectly aware, but which she often described as
exceedingly annoying by their grotesque and distorted appearance, and
wearisome from their continual recurrence and thronging succession. With
the recovery of her general health she obtained a release from this
disagreeable haunting.

One of the most remarkable and painful instances of affection of the
visual organs in consequence of a violent nervous shock was that
experienced by my friend Miss T----, who, after seeing her cousin, Lady
L----, drowned while bathing off the rocks at her home at Ardgillan, was
requested by Lord L---- to procure for him, before his wife's burial,
the wedding ring from her finger. The poor lady's body was terribly
swollen and discolored, and Miss T---- had to use considerable effort to
withdraw the ring from the dead finger. The effect of the whole
disastrous event upon her was to leave her for several months afflicted
with an affection of the eyes, which represented half of the face of
every person she saw with the swollen, livid, and distorted features of
her drowned cousin; a horrible and ghastly result of the nervous shock
she had undergone, which she feared she should never be delivered from,
but which gradually wore itself out.

The only time I ever saw an apparition was under singularly unfavorable
circumstances for such an experience. I was sitting at midday in an
American railroad car, which every occupant but my maid and myself had
left to go and get some refreshment at the station, where the train
stopped some time for that purpose. I was sitting with my maid in a
small private compartment, sometimes occupied by ladies travelling
alone, the door of which (wide open at the time) communicated with the
main carriage, and commanded its entire length. Suddenly a person
entered the carriage by a door close to where I sat, and passed down the
whole length of the car. I sprang from my seat, exclaiming aloud, "There
is C----!" and rushed to the door before, by any human possibility, any
one could have reached the other end of the car; but nobody was to be
seen. My maid had seen nothing. The person I imagined I had seen was
upwards of two hundred miles distant; but what was to me the most
curious part of this experience was that had I really met the person I
saw anywhere, my most careful endeavor would have been to avoid her,
and, if possible, to escape being seen by her; whereas this apparition,
or imagination, so affected my nerves that I rushed after it as if
desirous of pursuing and overtaking it, while my deliberate desire with
regard to the image I thus sprang towards would have been never to have
seen it again as long as I lived. The state of the atmosphere at the
time of this occurrence was extraordinarily oppressive, and charged with
a tremendous thunder-storm, a condition of the air which, as I have
said, always acts with extremely distressing and disturbing influence
upon my whole physical system.

                    ST. JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, February, 1828.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I have this instant received your letter, and, contrary to John's
     wise rule of never answering an epistle till three days after he
     receives it, I sit down to write, to talk, to be with you. Pray,
     when your potatoes flourish, your fires are put out by the sun, and
     your hills are half hid in warm mist, wish one hearty wish for me,
     such as I spend by the dozen on you. I confess I am disappointed,
     as far as I can be with a letter of yours, at finding you had not
     yet received my parcel, for my vanity has been in considerable
     anxiety respecting your judgment on my production. Now that the
     effervescence of my poetical _furor_ has subsided, and that
     repeated perusals have taken a little of the charm of novelty from
     my play, my own opinion of it is that it is a clever performance
     _for so young a person_, but nothing more. The next will, I hope,
     be better, and I think you will agree with me in regard to this.
     Dearest H----, in my last letter want of time and room prevented my
     enlarging on my hint about the stage, but as far as my own
     determination goes at present, I think it is the course that I
     shall most likely pursue. You know that independence of mind and
     body seems to me the great desideratum of life; I am not patient of
     restraint or submissive to authority, and my head and heart are
     engrossed with the idea of exercising and developing the literary
     talent which I think I possess. This is meat, drink, and sleep to
     me; my world, in which I live, and have my happiness; and,
     moreover, I hope, by means of fame (the prize for which I pray). To
     a certain degree it may be my means of procuring benefits of a more
     substantial nature, which I am by no means inclined to estimate at
     less than their worth. I do not think I am fit to marry, to make an
     obedient wife or affectionate mother; my imagination is paramount
     with me, and would disqualify me, I think, for the every-day,
     matter-of-fact cares and duties of the mistress of a household and
     the head of a family. I think I should be unhappy and the cause of
     unhappiness to others if I were to marry. I cannot swear I shall
     never fall in love, but if I do I will fall out of it again, for I
     do not think I shall ever so far lose sight of my best interest and
     happiness as to enter into a relation for which I feel so unfit.
     Now, if I do not marry, what is to become of me in the event of
     anything happening to my father? His property is almost all gone; I
     doubt if we shall ever receive one pound from it. Is it likely
     that, supposing I were willing to undergo the drudgery of writing
     for my bread, I could live by my wits and the produce of my brain;
     or is such an existence desirable?

     Perhaps I might attain to the literary dignity of being the lioness
     of a season, asked to dinner parties "because I am so clever;"
     perhaps my writing faculty might become a useful auxiliary to some
     other less precarious dependence; but to write to eat--to live, in
     short--that seems to me to earn hard money after a very hard
     fashion. The stage is a profession that people who have a talent
     for it make lucrative, and which honorable conduct may make
     respectable; one which would place me at once beyond the fear of
     want, and that is closely allied in its nature to my beloved
     literary pursuits.

     If I should (as my father and mother seem to think not unlikely)
     change my mind with respect to marrying, the stage need be no bar
     to that, and if I continue to write, the stage might both help me
     in and derive assistance from my exercise of the pursuit of
     dramatic authorship. And the mere mechanical labor of writing costs
     me so little, that the union of the two occupations does not seem
     to me a difficulty. My father said the other day, "There is a fine
     fortune to be made by any young woman, of even decent talent, on
     the stage now." A fine fortune is a fine thing; to be sure, there
     remains a rather material question to settle, that of "even decent
     talent." A passion for all beautiful poetry I am sure you will
     grant me; and you would perhaps be inclined to take my father and
     mother's word for my dramatic capacity. I spoke to them earnestly
     on this subject lately, and they both, with some reluctance, I
     think, answered me, to my questions, that they thought, as far as
     they could judge (and, unless partiality blinds them entirely, none
     can be better judges), I might succeed. In some respects, no girl
     intending herself for this profession can have had better
     opportunities of acquiring just notions on the subject of acting. I
     have constantly heard refined and thoughtful criticism on our
     greatest dramatic works, and on every various way of rendering them
     effective on the stage. I have been lately very frequently to the
     theater, and seen and heard observingly, and exercised my own
     judgment and critical faculty to the best of my ability, according
     to these same canons of taste by which it has been formed. Nature
     has certainly not been as favorable to me as might have been
     wished, if I am to embrace a calling where personal beauty, if not
     indispensable, is so great an advantage. But if the informing
     spirit be mine, it shall go hard if, with a face and voice as
     obedient to my emotions as mine are, I do not in some measure make
     up for the want of good looks. My father is now proprietor and
     manager of the theatre, and those certainly are favorable
     circumstances for my entering on a career which is one of great
     labor and some exposure, at the best, to a woman, and where a young
     girl cannot be too prudent herself, nor her protectors too careful
     of her. I hope I have not taken up this notion hastily, and I have
     no fear of looking only on the bright side of the picture, for ours
     is a house where that is very seldom seen.

     Good-by; God bless you! I shall be very anxious to hear from you; I
     sent you a note with my play, telling you I had just got up from
     the measles; but as my note has not reached you, I tell you so
     again. I am quite well, however, now, and shall not give them to
     you by signing myself

                      Yours most affectionately,

     P.S.--I forgot to answer your questions in telling you all this,
     but I will do so methodically now. My side-ache is some disturbance
     in my liver, evidently, and does not give way entirely either to
     physic or exercise, as the slightest emotion, either pleasurable or
     painful, immediately brings it on; my blue devils I pass over in
     silence; such a liver and my kind of head are sure to breed them.

     Certainly I reverence Jeremy Bentham for his philanthropy, plain
     powerful sense, and lucid forcible writing; but as for John's
     politics, they are, as Beatrice tells the prince he is, "too costly
     for every-day wear." His theories are so perfect that I think
     imperfect men could never be brought to live under a scheme of
     government of his devising.

     I think Mrs. Jameson would like you, and you her, if you met, but
     my mind is running on something else than this. My father's income
     is barely eight hundred a year. John's expenses, since he has been
     at college, have been nearly three. Five hundred a year for such a
     family as ours is very close and careful work, dear H----, and if
     my going on the stage would nearly double that income, lessen my
     dear father's anxieties for us all, and the quantity of work which
     he latterly has often felt too much for him, and remove the many
     privations which my dear mother cheerfully endures, as well as the
     weight of her uncertainty about our future provision, would not
     this be a "consummation devoutly to be wished"?

                       ST. JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, March, 1828.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I have been thinking what you have been thinking of my long
     silence, about which, however, perhaps you have not been thinking
     at all. What, you say in one of your last about my destroying your
     letters troubles me a good deal, dearest H----. I really cannot
     bear to think of it; why, those letters are one of my very few
     precious possessions. When I am unhappy (as I sometimes am), I read
     them over, and I feel strengthened and comforted; if it is your
     _positive desire_ that I should burn them, of course I must do it;
     but if it is only a sort of "I think you had better" that you have
     about it, I shall keep them, and you must be satisfied with one of
     my old "I can't help it's." As for my own scrawls, I do _not_
     desire that you should keep them. I write, as I speak, on the
     impulse of the moment, and I should be sorry that the incoherent
     and often contradictory thoughts that I pour forth daily should be
     preserved against me by anybody.

     My father is now in Edinburgh. He has been absent from London about
     a week. I had a conversation with him about the stage some time
     before he went, in which he allowed that, should our miserably
     uncertain circumstances finally settle unfavorably, the theatre
     might be an honorable and advantageous resource for me; but that at
     present he should be sorry to see me adopt that career. As he is
     the best and kindest father and friend to us all, such a decision
     on his part was conclusive, as you will easily believe; and I have
     forborne all further allusion to the subject, although on some
     accounts I regret being obliged to do so.

     I was delighted with your long letter of criticisms; I am grateful
     to you for taking the trouble of telling me so minutely all you
     thought about my play. For myself, although at the time I wrote it
     I was rather puffed up and elated in spirit, and looked at it
     naturally in far too favorable a light, I assure you I have long
     since come to a much soberer frame of mind respecting it. I think
     it is quite unfit for the stage, where the little poetical merit it
     possesses would necessarily be lost; besides, its construction is
     wholly undramatic. The only satisfaction I now take in it is
     entirely one of hope; I am very young, and I cannot help feeling
     that it offers some promise for the future, which I trust may be
     fulfilled. Now even, already, I am sure I could do infinitely
     better; nor will it be long, I think, before I try my strength
     again. If you could see the multiplicity of subjects drawn up in my
     book under the head of "projected works," how you would shake your
     wise head, and perhaps your lean sides. I wish I could write a good
     prose work, but that, I take it, is really difficult, as good,
     concise, powerful, clear prose must be much less easy to write than
     even tolerable poetry. I have been reading a quantity of German
     plays (translations, of course, but literal ones), and I have been
     reveling in that divine devildom, "Faust." Suppose it does send one
     to bed with a side-ache, a headache, and a heartache, isn't it
     worth while? Did you ever read Goethe's "Tasso"? Certainly he makes
     the mad poet a mighty disagreeable person; but in describing him it
     seemed to me as if Goethe was literally transcribing my thoughts
     and feelings, my mind and being.

     Now, dearest H----, don't bear malice, and, because I have not
     written for so long, wait still longer before you answer. My mother
     has been in the country for a few days, and has returned with a
     terrible cough and cold, with which pleasant maladies she finds the
     house full here to welcome her, so that we all croak in unison most
     harmoniously. I was at the Siddonses' the other evening. My aunt
     was suffering, I am sorry to say, with one of her terrible
     headaches; Cecilia was pretty well, but as it was a _soirée
     chantante_, I had little opportunity of talking to either of them.
     Did you mention my notion about going on the stage in any of your
     letters to Cecy?

     The skies are brightening and the trees are budding; it will soon
     be the time of year when we first met. Pray remember me when the
     hawthorn blossoms; hail, snow, or sunshine, I remember you, and am
     ever your affectionate


The want of a settled place of residence compelled me, many years after
writing this letter, to destroy the letters of my friend, which I had
preserved until they amounted to many hundreds; my friend kept, in the
house that was her home from her fourteenth to her sixtieth year, all
mine to her--several thousands, the history of a whole human life--and
gave them back to me when she was upwards of seventy and I of sixty
years old; they are the principal aid to my memory in my present task of

My life at home at this time became difficult and troublesome, and
unsatisfactory to myself and others; my mind and character were in a
chaotic state of fermentation that required the wisest, firmest, and
gentlest guidance. I was vehement and excitable, violently impulsive,
and with a wild, ill-regulated imagination.

The sort of smattering acquirements from my schooling, and the desultory
reading which had been its only supplement, had done little or nothing
(perhaps even worse than nothing) towards my effectual moral or mental
training. A good fortune, for which I can never be sufficiently
thankful, occurred to me at this time, in the very intimate intercourse
which grew up just then between our family and that of my cousin, Mrs.
Henry Siddons.

She had passed through London on her way to the Continent, whither she
was going for the sake of the health of her youngest daughter, an
interesting and attractive young girl some years older than myself, who
at this time seemed threatened with imminent consumption. She had a
sylph-like, slender figure, tall, and bending and wavering like a young
willow sapling, and a superabundant profusion of glossy chestnut
ringlets, which in another might have suggested vigor of health and
constitution, but always seemed to me as if their redundant masses had
exhausted hers, and were almost too great a weight for her slim throat
and drooping figure. Her complexion was transparently delicate, and she
had dark blue eyes that looked almost preternaturally large. It seems
strange to remember this ethereal vision of girlish fragile beauty as
belonging to my dear cousin, who, having fortunately escaped the doom by
which she then seemed threatened, lived to become a most happy and
excellent wife and mother, and one of the largest women of our family,
all of whose female members have been unusually slender in girlhood and
unusually stout in middle and old age. When Mrs. Henry Siddons was
obliged to return to Edinburgh, which was her home, she was persuaded by
my mother to leave her daughter with us for some time; and for more than
a year she and her elder sister and their brother, a lad studying at the
Indian Military College of Addiscombe, were frequent inmates of our
house. The latter was an extremely handsome youth, with a striking
resemblance to his grandmother, Mrs. Siddons; he and my brother Henry
were certainly the only two of the younger generation who honorably
maintained the reputation for beauty of their elders; in spite of which,
and the general admiration they excited (especially when seen together),
perhaps indeed from some uncomfortable consciousness of their personal
advantages, they were both of them shamefaced and bashful to an unusual

I remember a comical instance of the shy _mauvaise honte_, peculiar to
Englishmen, which these two beautiful boys exhibited on the occasion of
a fancy ball, to which we were all invited, at the house of our friend,
Mrs. E. G----. To me, of course, my first fancy ball was an event of
unmixed delight, especially as my mother had provided for me a lovely
Anne Boleyn costume of white satin, point-lace, and white Roman pearls,
which raised my satisfaction to rapture. The two Harrys, however, far
from partaking of my ecstasy, protested, pouted, begged off, all but
broke into open rebellion at the idea of making what they called "guys"
and "chimney-sweeps" of themselves; and though the painful sense of any
singularity might have been mitigated by the very numerous company of
their fellow-fools assembled in the ball-room, to keep them in
countenance, and the very unpretending costume of simple and, elegant
black velvet in which my mother had attired them, as Hamlet and Laertes
(it must have been in their very earliest college days), they hid
themselves behind the ball-room door and never showed as much as their
noses or their toes, while I danced beatifically till daylight, and
would have danced on till noon.

Mrs. Henry Siddons, in her last stay with us, obtained my mother's
consent that I should go to Edinburgh to pay her a visit, which began by
being of indeterminate length, and prolonged itself for a year--the
happiest of my life, as I often, while it lasted, thought it would
prove; and now that my years are over I know to have been so. To the
anxious, nervous, exciting, irritating tenor of my London life succeeded
the calm, equable, and all but imperceptible control of my dear friend,
whose influence over her children, the result of her wisdom in dealing
with them, no less than of their own amiable dispositions, was absolute.
In considering Mrs. Henry Siddons's character, when years had modified
its first impression upon my own, my estimate of it underwent, of
course, some inevitable alteration; but when I stayed with her in
Edinburgh I was at the idolatrous period of life, and never, certainly,
had an enthusiastic young girl worshiper a worthier or better idol.

She was not regularly handsome, but of a sweet and most engaging
countenance; her figure was very pretty, her voice exquisite, and her
whole manner, air, and deportment graceful, attractive, and charming.
Men, women, and children not only loved her, but inevitably _fell in
love_ with her, and the fascination which she exercised over every one
that came in contact with her invariably deepened into profound esteem
and confidence in those who had the good fortune to share her intimacy.
Her manner, which was the most gentle and winning imaginable, had in it
a touch of demure playfulness that was very charming, at the same time
that it habitually conveyed the idea of extreme self-control, and a
great reserve of moral force and determination underneath this quiet

Mrs. Harry's manner was artificial, and my mother told me she thought it
the result of an early determination to curb the demonstrations of an
impetuous temper and passionate feelings. It had become her second
nature when I knew her, however, and contributed not a little to the
immense ascendency she soon acquired over my vehement and stormy
character. She charmed me into absolute submission to her will and
wishes, and I all but worshiped her.

She was a Miss Murray, and came of good Scottish blood, her
great-grandfather having at one time been private secretary to the Young
Pretender. She married Mrs. Siddons's youngest son, Harry, the only one
of my aunt's children who adopted her own profession, and who, himself
an indifferent actor, undertook the management of the Edinburgh theater,
fell into ill-health, and died, leaving his lovely young widow with four
children to the care of her brother, William Murray, who succeeded him
in the government of the theater, of which his sister and himself became
joint proprietors.

Edinburgh at that time was still the small but important capital of
Scotland, instead of what railroads and modern progress have reduced it
to, merely the largest town. Those were the days of the giants, Scott,
Wilson, Hogg, Jeffrey, Brougham, Sidney Smith, the Horners, Lord Murray,
Allison, and all the formidable intellectual phalanx that held mental
dominion over the English-speaking world, under the blue and yellow
standard of the _Edinburgh Review_.

The ancient city had still its regular winter season of fashionable
gayety, during which sedan chairs were to be seen carrying through its
streets, to its evening assemblies, the more elderly members of the
_beau monde_. The nobility and gentry of Scotland came up from their
distant country residences to their town-houses in "Auld Reekie," as
they now come up to London.

Edinburgh was a brilliant and peculiarly intellectual center of society
with a strongly marked national character, and the theater held a
distinguished place among its recreations; the many eminent literary and
professional men who then made the Scotch capital illustrious being
zealous patrons of the drama and frequenters of the play-house, and
proud, with reason, of their excellent theatrical company, at the head
of which was William Murray, one of the most perfect actors I have ever
known on any stage, and among whom Terry and Mackay, admirable actors
and cultivated, highly intelligent men, were conspicuous for their

Mrs. Henry Siddons held a peculiar position in Edinburgh, her widowed
condition and personal attractions combining to win the sympathy and
admiration of its best society, while her high character and blameless
conduct secured the respect and esteem of her theatrical subjects and
the general public, with whom she was an object of almost affectionate
personal regard, and in whose favor, as long as she exercised her
profession, she continued to hold the first place, in spite of their
temporary enthusiasm for the great London stars who visited them at
stated seasons. "_Our_ Mrs. Siddons," I have repeatedly heard her called
in Edinburgh, not at all with the slightest idea of comparing her with
her celebrated mother-in-law, but rather as expressing the kindly
personal good-will and the admiring approbation with which she was
regarded by her own townsfolk, who were equally proud and fond of her.
She was not a great actress, nor even what in my opinion could be called
a good actress, for she had no natural versatility or power of
assumption whatever, and what was opposed to her own nature and
character was altogether out of the range of her powers.

On the other hand, when (as frequently happened) she had to embody
heroines whose characteristics coincided with her own, her grace and
beauty and innate sympathy with every thing good, true, pure, and
upright made her an admirable representative of all such characters. She
wanted physical power and weight for the great tragic drama of
Shakespeare, and passion for the heroine of his love tragedy; but Viola,
Rosalind, Isabel, Imogen, could have no better representative. In the
first part Sir Walter Scott has celebrated (in the novel of "Waverley")
the striking effect produced by her resemblance to her brother, William
Murray, in the last scene of "Twelfth Night;" and in many pieces founded
upon the fate and fortune of Mary Stuart she gave an unrivaled
impersonation of the "enchanting queen" of modern history.

My admiration and affection for her were, as I have said, unbounded; and
some of the various methods I took to exhibit them were, I dare say,
intolerably absurd, though she was graciously good-natured in tolerating

Every day, summer and winter, I made it my business to provide her with
a sprig of myrtle for her sash at dinner-time; this, when she had worn
it all the evening, I received again on bidding her good night, and
stored in a _treasure_ drawer, which, becoming in time choked with
fragrant myrtle leaves, was emptied with due solemnity into the fire,
that destruction in the most classic form might avert from them all
desecration. I ought by rights to have eaten their ashes, or drunk a
decoction of them, or at least treasured them in a golden urn, but
contented myself with watching them shrivel and crackle with much
sentimental satisfaction. I remember a most beautiful myrtle tree,
which, by favor of a peculiarly sunny and sheltered exposure, had
reached a very unusual size in the open air in Edinburgh, and in the
flowering season might have borne comparison with the finest shrubs of
the warm terraces of the under cliff of the Isle of Wight. From this I
procured my daily offering to my divinity.

The myrtle is the least voluptuous of flowers; the legend of Juno's
myrtle-sheltered bath seems not unnaturally suggested by the vigorous,
fresh, and healthy beauty of the plant, and the purity of its snowy
blossoms. The exquisite quality, too, which myrtle possesses, of
preserving uncorrupted the water in which it is placed, with other
flowers, is a sort of moral attribute, which, combined with the peculiar
character of its fragrance, seems to me to distinguish this lovely shrub
from every other flower of the field or garden.

To return to my worship of Mrs. Harry Siddons. On one occasion the sash
of her dress came unfastened and fell to the ground, and, having secured
possession of it, I retained my prize and persisted in wearing it,
baldric fashion, over every dress I put on. It was a silk scarf, of a
sober dark-gray color, and occasionally produced a most fantastical and
absurd contrast with what I was wearing.

These were childish expressions of a feeling the soberer portion of
which remains with me even now, and makes the memory of that excellent
woman, and kind, judicious friend, still very dear to my grateful
affection. Not only was the change of discipline under which I now lived
advantageous, but the great freedom I enjoyed, and which would have been
quite impossible in London, was delightful to me; while the wonderful,
picturesque beauty of Edinburgh, contrasted with the repulsive dinginess
and ugliness of my native city, was a constant source of the liveliest
pleasure to me.

The indescribable mixture of historic and romantic interest with all
this present, visible beauty, the powerful charm of the Scotch ballad
poetry, which now began to seize upon my imagination, and the
inexhaustible enchantment of the associations thrown by the great modern
magician over every spot made memorable by his mention, combined to
affect my mind and feelings at this most susceptible period of my life,
and made Edinburgh dear and delightful to me above all other places I
ever saw, as it still remains--with the one exception of Rome, whose
combined claim to veneration and admiration no earthly city can indeed

Beautiful Edinburgh! dear to me for all its beauty and all the happiness
that I have never failed to find there, for the keen delight of my year
of youthful life spent among its enchanting influences, and for the kind
friends and kindred whose affectionate hospitality has made each return
thither as happy as sadder and older years allowed--my blessing on every
stone of its streets!

I had the utmost liberty allowed me in my walks about the city, and at
early morning have often run up and round and round the Calton Hill,
delighting, from every point where I stopped to breathe, in the noble
panorama on every side. Not unfrequently I walked down to the sands at
Porto Bello and got a sea bath, and returned before breakfast; while on
the other side of the town my rambles extended to Newhaven and the rocks
and sands of Cramond Beach.

While Edinburgh had then more the social importance of a capital, it had
a much smaller extent; great portions of the present new town did not
then exist. Warriston and the Bridge of Dean were still out of town;
there was no Scott's monument in Princess Street, no railroad terminus
with its smoke and scream and steam scaring the echoes of the North
Bridge; no splendid Queen's Drive encircled Arthur's Seat. Windsor
Street, in which Mrs. Harry Siddons lived, was one of the most recently
finished, and broke off abruptly above gardens and bits of meadow land,
and small, irregular inclosures, and mean scattered houses, stretching
down toward Warriston Crescent; while from the balcony of the
drawing-room the eye, passing over all this untidy suburban district,
reached, without any intervening buildings, the blue waters of the Forth
and Inchkeith with its revolving light.

Standing on that balcony late one cold, clear night, watching the rising
and setting of that sea star that kept me fascinated out in the chill
air, I saw for the first time the sky illuminated with the aurora
borealis. It was a magnificent display of the phenomenon, and I feel
certain that my attention was first attracted to it by the crackling
sound which appeared to accompany the motion of the pale flames as they
streamed across the sky; indeed, _crackling_, is not the word that
properly describes the sound I heard, which was precisely that made by
the _flickering_ of blazing fire; and as I have often since read and
heard discussions upon the question whether the motion of the aurora is
or is not accompanied by an audible sound, I can only say that on this
occasion it was the sound that first induced me to observe the sheets of
white light that were leaping up the sky. At this time I knew nothing of
these phenomena, or the debates among scientific men to which they had
given rise, and can therefore trust the impression made on my senses.

I have since then witnessed repeated appearances of these beautiful
meteoric lights, but have never again detected any sound accompanying
their motion. The finest aurora I ever saw was at Lenox, Massachusetts;
a splendid rose-colored pavilion appeared to be spread all over the sky,
through which, in several parts, the shining of the stars was distinctly
visible, while at the zenith the luminous drapery seemed gathered into
folds, the color of which deepened almost to crimson. It was wonderfully
beautiful. At Lenox, too, one night during the season of the appearance
of the great comet of 1858, the splendid flaming plume hovered over one
side of the sky, while all round the other horizon streams of white fire
appeared to rise from altars of white light. It was awfully glorious,
and beyond all description beautiful. The sky of that part of the United
States, particularly in the late autumn and winter, was more frequently
visited by magnificent meteors than any other with which I have been

The extraordinary purity, dryness, and elasticity of the atmosphere in
that region was, I suppose, one cause of these heavenly shows; the clear
transparency of the sky by day often giving one the feeling that one was
looking straight into heaven without any intermediate window of
atmospheric air, while at night (especially in winter) the world of
stars, larger, brighter, more numerous than they ever seemed to me
elsewhere, and yet apparently infinitely higher and farther off, were
set in a depth of dark whose blackness appeared transparent rather than

Midnight after midnight I have stood, when the thermometer was twenty
and more degrees below freezing, looking over the silent, snow-smothered
hills round the small mountain village of Lenox, fast asleep in their
embrace, and from thence to the solemn sky rising above them like a huge
iron vault hung with thousands of glittering steel weapons, from which,
every now and then, a shining scimitar fell flashing earthward; it was a
cruel looking sky, in its relentless radiance.

My solitary walks round Edinburgh have left two especial recollections
in my mind; the one pleasant, the other very sad. I will speak of the
latter first; it was like a leaf out of the middle of a tragedy, of
which I never knew either the beginning or the end.


I was coming home one day from a tramp toward Cramond Beach, and was
just on the brow of a wooded height looking towards Edinburgh and not
two miles from it, when a heavy thunder-cloud darkened the sky above my
head and pelted me with large drops of ominous warning. On one side of
the road the iron gate and lodge of some gentleman's park suggested
shelter; and the half-open door of the latter showing a tidy,
pleasant-looking woman busy at an ironing table, I ventured to ask her
to let me come in till the sponge overhead should have emptied itself.
She very good-humoredly consented, and I sat down while the rain rang
merrily on the gravel walk before the door, and smoked in its vehement
descent on the carriage-road beyond.

The woman pursued her work silently, and I presently became aware of a
little child, as silent as herself, sitting beyond her, in a small
wicker chair; on the baby's table which fastened her into it were some
remnants of shabby, broken toys, among which her tiny, wax-like fingers
played with listless unconsciousness, while her eyes were fixed on me.
The child looked wan and wasted, and had in its eyes, which it never
turned from me, the weary, wistful, unutterable look of "far away and
long ago" longing that comes into the miserably melancholy eyes of

"Is the baby ill?" said I.

"Ou na, mem; it's no to say that ill, only just always peaking and
pining like"--and she stopped ironing a moment to look at the little

"Is it your own baby?" said I, struck with the absence of motherly
tenderness in spite of the woman's compassionate tone and expression.

"Ou na, mem, it's no my ain; I hae nane o' my ain."

"How old is it?" I went on.

"Nigh upon five year old," was the answer, with which the ironing was
steadily resumed, with apparently no desire to encourage more questions.

"Five years old!" I exclaimed, in horrified amazement: its size was that
of a rickety baby under three, while its wizened face was that of a
spell-struck creature of no assignable age, or the wax image of some
dwindling life wasting away before the witch-kindled fire of a
diabolical hatred. The tiny hands and arms were pitiably thin, and
showed under the yellow skin sharp little bones no larger than a
chicken's; and at her wrists and temples the blue tracery of her veins
looked like a delicate map of the blood, that seemed as if it could
hardly be pulsing through her feeble frame; while below the eyes a livid
shadow darkened the faded face that had no other color in it.

The tears welled up into my eyes, and the woman, seeing them, suddenly
stopped ironing and exclaimed eagerly: "Ou, mem, ye ken the family; or
maybe ye'll hae been a friend of the puir thing's mither!" I was obliged
to say that I neither knew them nor any thing about them, but that the
child's piteous aspect had made me cry.

In answer to the questions with which I then plied her, the woman, who
seemed herself affected by the impression I had received from the poor
little creature's appearance, told me that the child was that of the
only daughter of the people who owned the place; that there was
"something wrong" about it all, she did not know what--a marriage
ill-pleasing to the grandparents perhaps, perhaps even worse than that;
but the mother was dead, the family had been abroad for upward of three
years, and the child had been left under her charge. This was all she
told me, and probably all she knew; and as she ended she wiped the tears
from her own eyes, adding, "I'm thinking the puir bairn will no live
long itsel'."

The rain was over and the sun shone, and I got up to go; as I went, the
child's dreary eyes followed me out at the door, and I cried all the way
home. Was it possible that my appearance suggested to that tiny soul the
image of its young lost mother?

The other incident in my rambles that I wish to record was of a far
pleasanter sort. I had gone down to the pier at Newhaven, one blowy,
blustering day (the fine Granton Pier Hotel and landing-place did not
yet exist), and stood watching the waves taking their mad run and leap
over the end of the pier, in a glorious, foaming frenzy that kept me
fascinated with the fine uproar, till it suddenly occurred to me that it
would be delightful to be out among them (I certainly could have had no
recollections of sea-sickness), and I determined to try and get a boat
and go out on the frith.

I stopped at a cottage on the outskirts of the fishing town (it was not
much more than a village then) of Newhaven, and knocked. Invited to come
in, I did so, and there sat a woman, one of the very handsomest I ever
saw, in solitary state, leisurely combing a magnificent curtain of fair
hair that fell over her ample shoulders and bosom and almost swept the
ground. She was seated on a low stool, but looked tall as well as large,
and her foam-fresh complexion and gray-green eyes might have become
Venus Anadyomene herself, turned into a Scotch fish-wife of five and
thirty, or "thereawa." "Can you tell me of any one who will take me out
in a boat for a little while?" quoth I. She looked steadily at me for a
minute, and then answered laconically, "Ay, my man and boy shall gang
wi' ye." A few lusty screams brought her husband and son forth, and at
her bidding they got a boat ready, and, with me well covered with
sail-cloths, tarpaulins, and rough dreadnaughts of one sort and another,
rowed out from the shore into the turmoil of the sea. A very little of
the dancing I got now was delight enough for me, and, deadly sick, I
besought to be taken home again, when the matronly Brinhilda at the
cottage received me with open-throated peals of laughter, and then made
me sit down till I had conquered my qualms and was able to walk back to
Edinburgh. Before I went, she showed me a heap of her children, too many,
it seemed to me, to be counted; but as they lay in an inextricable mass
on the floor in an inner room, there may have seemed more arms and legs
forming the radii, of which a clump of curly heads was the center, than
there really were.

The husband was a comparatively small man, with dark eyes, hair, and
complexion; but her "boy," the eldest, who had come with him to take
care of me, was a fair-haired, fresh-faced young giant, of his mother's
strain, and, like her, looked as if he had come of the Northern Vikings,
or some of the Niebelungen Lied heroes.

When I went away, my fish-wife bade me come again in smooth weather, and
if her husband and son were at home they should take me out; and I gave
her my address, and begged her, when she came up to town with her fish,
to call at the house.

She was a splendid specimen of her tribe, climbing the steep Edinburgh
streets with bare white feet, the heavy fish-basket at her back hardly
stooping her broad shoulders, her florid face sheltered and softened in
spite of its massiveness into something like delicacy by the transparent
shadow of the white handkerchief tied hoodwise over her fair hair, and
her shrill sweet voice calling "Caller haddie!" all the way she went, in
the melancholy monotone that resounds through the thoroughfares of
Edinburgh--the only melodious street-cry (except the warning of the
Venetian gondoliers) that I ever heard.

I often went back to visit my middle-aged Christie Johnstone, and more
than once saw her and her fellow fish-women haul up the boats on their
return after being out at sea. They all stood on the beach clamoring
like a flock of sea-gulls, and, as a boat's keel rasped the shingles,
rushed forward and seized it; and while the men in their sea clothes,
all dripping like huge Newfoundland dogs, jumped out in their heavy
boots and took each the way to their several houses, their stalwart
partners, hauling all together at the rope fastened to the boat, drew it
up beyond water-mark, and seized and sorted its freight of fish, and
stalked off each with her own basketful, with which she trudged up to
trade and chaffer with the "gude wives" of the town, and bring back to
the men the value of their work. It always seemed to me that these women
had about as equal a share of the labor of life as the most zealous
champion of the rights of their sex could desire.

I did not indulge in any more boating expeditions, but admired the sea
from the pier, and became familiar with all the spokes of the
fish-wife's family wheel; at any rate, enough to distinguish Jamie from
Sandy, and Willie from Johnnie, and Maggie from Jeanie, and Ailsie from
Lizzie, and was great friends with them all.

When I returned to Edinburgh, a theatrical star of the first magnitude,
I took a morning's holiday to drive down to Newhaven, in search of my
old ally, Mistress Sandie Flockhart. She no longer inhabited the little
detached cottage, and divers and sundry were the Flockhart "wives" that
I "speired at" through the unsavory street of Newhaven, before I found
the right one at last, on the third flat of a filthy house, where noise
and stench combined almost to knock me down, and where I could hardly
knock loud enough to make myself heard above the din within and without.
She opened the door of a room that looked as if it was running over with
live children, and confronted me with the unaltered aspect of her
comely, smiling face. But I had driven down from Edinburgh in all the
starlike splendor of a lilac silk dress and French crape bonnet, and my
dear fish-wife stared at me silently, with her mouth and gray eyes wide
open; only for a moment, however, for in the next she joyfully
exclaimed, "Ech, sirs! but it's yer ain sel come back again at last!"
Then seizing my hand, she added breathlessly, "I'se gotten anither ane,
and ye maun come in and see him;" so she dragged me bodily through and
over her surging progeny to a cradle, where, soothed by the strident
lullabies of its vociferating predecessors, her last-born and eleventh
baby lay peaceably slumbering, an infant Hercules.

Among Mrs. Harry Siddons's intimate friends and associates were the
remarkable brothers George and Andrew Combe; the former a lawyer by
profession, but known to the literary and scientific world of Europe and
America as the Apostle of Phrenology, and the author of a work entitled
"The Constitution of Man," and other writings, whose considerable merit
and value appear to me more or less impaired by the craniological theory
which he made the foundation of all his works, and which to my mind
diminished the general utility of his publications for those readers who
are not prepared to accept it as the solution of all the mysteries of
human existence.

His writings are all upon subjects of the greatest importance and
universal interest, and full of the soundest moral philosophy and the
most enlightened humanity; and their only drawback, to me, is the
phrenological element which enters so largely into his treatment of
every question. Indeed, his life was devoted to the dissemination of
this new philosophy of human nature (new, at any rate, in the precise
details which Gall, Spurzheim, and he elaborated from it), which, Combe
believed, if once generally accepted, would prove the clew to every
difficulty, and the panacea for every evil existing in modern
civilization. Political and social, religious and civil, mental and
moral government, according to him, hinged upon the study and knowledge
of the different organs of the human brain, and he labored incessantly
to elucidate and illustrate this subject, upon which he thought the
salvation of the world depended. For a number of years I enjoyed the
privilege of his friendship, and I have had innumerable opportunities of
hearing his system explained by himself; but as I was never able to get
beyond a certain point of belief in it, it was agreed on all hands that
my brain was deficient in the organ of causality, _i.e._, in the
capacity of logical reasoning, and that therefore it was not in my power
to perceive the force of his arguments or the truth of his system, even
when illustrated by his repeated demonstrations.

I am bound to say that my cousin Cecilia Combe had quite as much trouble
with her household, her lady's-maids were quite as inefficient, her
housemaids quite as careless, and her cooks quite as fiery-tempered and
unsober as those of "ordinary Christians," in spite of Mr. Combe's
observation and manipulation of their bumps previous to engaging them.

I remember once, when I was sitting to Lawrence Macdonald for my bust,
which was one of the first he ever executed, before he left Edinburgh to
achieve fame and fortune as the most successful marble portrait-maker in
Rome, an absurd instance of Mr. Combe's insight into character occurred
at my expense.

Macdonald was an intimate friend of the Combes, and I used to see him at
their house very frequently, and Mr. Combe often came to the studio when
I was sitting. One day while he was standing by, grimly observing
Macdonald's absorbed manipulation of his clay, while I, the original
_clay_, occupied the "bad eminence" of an artist's studio throne, my
aunt came in with a small paper bag containing raspberry tarts in her
hand. This was a dainty so peculiarly agreeable to me that, even at that
advanced stage of my existence, those who loved me, or wished to be
loved by me, were apt to approach me with those charming three-cornered
puff paste propitiations.

As soon as I espied the confectioner's light paper bag I guessed its
contents, and, springing from my dignified station, seized on the tarts
as if I had been the notorious knave of the nursery rhyme. "There now,
Macdonald, I told you so!" quoth Mr. Combe, and they both began to
laugh; and so did I, with my mouth full of raspberry puff, for it was
quite evident to me that my phrenological friend had impressed upon my
artistic friend the special development of my organ of alimentiveness,
as he politely called it, which I translated into the vulgate as "bump
of greediness." In spite of my reluctance to sit to him, from the
conviction that the thick outline of my features would turn the edge of
the finest chisel that "ever yet cut breath," and perhaps by dint of
phrenology, Macdonald succeeded in making a very good bust of me; and
some time after, to my great amusement, having seen me act in the
"Grecian Daughter," he said to me, "Oh, but what I want to do now is a
statue of you."

"Yes," said I, "and I will tell you exactly where--in the last scene,
where I cover my face."

"Precisely so!" cried my enthusiastic friend, and then burst out
laughing, on seeing the trap I had laid for him; but he was a very
honest man, and stood by his word.

The attitude he wished to represent in a statue was that when, having
stabbed Dionysius, I raised the dagger toward heaven with one hand, and
drew my drapery over my face with the other. For my notion of heroic
women has always been, I am afraid, rather base--a sort of "They do not
mind death, but they can not bear pinching;" and though Euphrasia might,
could, would, and should stab the man who was about to murder her
father, I have no idea that she would like to look at the man she had
stabbed. "O Jupiter, no blood!" is apt to be the instinct, I suspect,
even in very villainous feminine natures, and those who are and those
who are not cowards alike shrink from sights of horror.

When I made Macdonald's acquaintance I was a girl of about seventeen,
and he at the very beginning of his artistic career; but he had an
expression of power and vivid intelligence which foretold his future
achievements in the exquisite art to which he devoted himself.

When next I met Macdonald it was after a long lapse of time, in 1846, in
Rome. Thither he had gone to study his divine art, and there he had
remained for a number of years in the exercise of it. He was now the
Signor Lorenzo of the Palazzo Barberini, the most successful and
celebrated maker of busts, probably, in Rome, having achieved fame,
fortune, the favor of the great, and the smiles of the fair, of the most
fastidious portion of the English society that makes its winter season
in Italy. He dined several times at our house (I was living with my
sister and her husband); under his guidance we went to see the statutes
of the Vatican by torchlight; and he came out once or twice in the
summer of that year to visit us at our villa at Frascati.

I returned to Rome in 1852, and saw Macdonald frequently, in his studio,
in our own house, and in general society; and shortly before leaving
Rome I met him at dinner at Mrs. Archer Clive's (the authoress of "Paul
Ferrol"). I had a nosegay of snowdrops in the bosom of my dress, and
Macdonald, who sat next me, observed that they reminded him of Scotland,
that he had never seen one in all the years he had passed in Italy, and
did not even know that they grew there.

The next day I went to the gardener of the Villa Medici, an old friend
of mine, and begged him to procure a pot of snowdrops for me, which I
carried to Macdonald's studio, thinking an occasional reminiscence of
his own northern land, which he had not visited for years, not a bad
element to infuse into his Roman life and surroundings. Macdonald's
portraits are generally good likenesses, sufficiently idealized to be
also good works of art. In statuary he never accomplished any thing of
extraordinary excellence. I think the "Ulysses Recognized by his Dog"
his best performance in sculpture. His studio was an extremely
interesting place of resort, from the portraits of his many remarkable
sitters with which it was filled.

I met dear old Macdonald, in the winter of 1873, creeping in the sun
slowly up the Pincio as I waddled heavily down it (_Eheu!_), his
snow-white hair and moustache making his little-altered and strongly
marked features only more striking. I visited his studio and found
there, ardently and successfully creating immortal gods, a handsome,
pleasing youth, his son, inheriting his father's genius, and, strange to
say, his broadest of Scotch accents, though he had himself never been
out of Rome, where he was born.

On one occasion Mr. Combe was consulted by Prince Albert with regard to
the royal children, and was desired to examine their heads. He did not,
of course, repeat any of the opinions he had given upon the young
princes' "developments," but said they were very nice children, and
likely to be capitally educated, for, he added (though shaking his head
over cousinly intermarriages among royal personages), Prince Albert was
well acquainted with the writings of Gall and Spurzheim, and his own
work on "The Constitution of Man." Prince Albert seems to have known
something of every thing that was worthy of a Wiseman's knowledge.

In spite of my inability to accept his science of human nature, Mr.
Combe was always a most kind and condescending friend to me. He was a
man of singular integrity, uprightness, and purity of mind and
character, and of great justice and impartiality of judgment; he was
extremely benevolent and humane, and one of the most reasonable human
beings I have ever known. From first to last my intercourse with him was
always delightful and profitable to me. Of the brothers, however, the
younger, Dr. Andrew Combe, was by far the most generally popular, and
deservedly so. He was one of the most excellent and amiable of men; his
countenance, voice, and manner were expressive of the kindliest
benevolence; he had none of the angular rigidity of person and harshness
of feature of his brother: both were worthy and distinguished men, but
Andrew Combe was charming, which George Combe was not--at least to those
who did not know him. Although Dr. Combe completely indorsed his
brother's system, he was far lass fanatical and importunate in his
advocacy of it. Indeed, his works upon physiology, hygiene, and the
physical education of children are of such universal value and
importance that no parent or trainer of youth should be unfamiliar with
them. Moreover, to them and their excellent author society is indebted
for an amount of knowledge on these subjects which has now passed into
general use and experience, and become so completely incorporated in the
practice of the present day, that it is hardly remembered to whom the
first and most powerful impression of the importance of the "natural
laws," and their observance in our own lives and the training of our
children, is due. I knew a school of young girls in Massachusetts, where
taking regular exercise, the use of cold baths, the influence of fresh
air, and all the process of careful physical education to which they
were submitted, went by the general name of _Combeing_, in honor of Dr.

Dr. Combe was Mrs. Harry Siddons's medical adviser, most trusted friend,
and general counselor. The young people of her family, myself included,
all loved and honored him; and the gleam of genial pleasant humor (a
quality of which his worthy brother had hardly a spark) which frequently
brightened the gentle gravity of his countenance and demeanor made his
intercourse delightful to us; and great was the joy when he proposed to
take one or other of us in his gig for a drive to some patient's house,
in the lovely neighborhood of Edinburgh. I remember my poor dear
mother's dismay when, on my return home, I told her of these same
drives. She was always in a fever of apprehension about people's falling
in love with each other, and begged to know how old a man this
delightful doctor, with whom Mrs. Harry allowed her own daughters and my
mother's daughters to go _gigging_, might be. "Ah," replied I,
inexpressibly amused at the idea of Dr. Combe in the character of a gay
gallant, "ever so old!" I had the real school-girl's estimate of age,
and honestly thought that dear Dr. Combe was quite an old man. I believe
he was considerably under forty. But if he had been much younger, the
fatal disease which had set its seal upon him, and of which he
died--after defending his life for an almost incredible space of time
from its ultimate victory (which all his wisdom and virtue could but
postpone)--was so clearly written upon his thin, sallow face, deep-sunk
eyes, and emaciated figure, and gave so serious and almost sad an
expression to his countenance and manner, that one would as soon have
thought of one's grandfather as an unsafe companion for young girls. I
still possess a document, duly drawn up and engrossed in the form of a
deed by his brother, embodying a promise which he made to me jestingly
one day, that when he was dead he would not fail to let me know, if ever
ghosts were permitted to revisit the earth, by appearing to me, binding
himself by this contract that the vision should be unaccompanied by the
smallest smell of sulphur or flash of blue flame, and that instead of
the indecorous undress of a slovenly winding-sheet, he would wear his
usual garments, and the familiar brown great-coat with which, to use his
own expression, he "buttoned his bones together" in his life. I
remembered that laughing promise when, years after it was given, the
news of his death reached me, and I thought how little dismay I should
feel if it could indeed have been possible for me to see again, "in his
image as he lived," that kind and excellent friend. On one of the
occasions when Dr. Combe took me to visit one of his patients, we went
to a quaint old house in the near neighborhood of Edinburgh. If the
Laird of Dumbiedike's mansion had been still standing, it might have
been that very house. The person we went to visit was an old Mr. M----,
to whom he introduced me, and with whom he withdrew, I suppose for a
professional consultation, leaving me in a strange, curious,
old-fashioned apartment, full of old furniture, old books, and faded,
tattered, old nondescript articles, whose purpose it was not easy to
guess, but which must have been of some value, as they were all
protected from the air and dust by glass covers. When the gentlemen
returned, Mr. M---- gratified my curiosity by showing every one of them
to me in detail, and informing me that they had all belonged to, or were
in some way relics of, Charles Edward Stuart. "And this," said the old
gentleman, "was his sword." It was a light dress rapier, with a very
highly cut and ornamented steel hilt. I half drew the blade, thinking
how it had flashed from its scabbard, startling England and dazzling
Scotland at its first unsheathing, and in what inglorious gloom of
prostrate fortunes it had rusted away at last, the scorn of those who
had opposed, and the despair of those who had embraced, its cause. "And
so that was the Pretender's sword!" said I, hardly aware that I had
spoken until the little, withered, snuff-colored gentleman snatched
rather than took it from me, exclaiming, "Wha' did ye say, madam? it was
the _prince's_ sword!" and laid it tenderly back in the receptacle from
which he had taken it.

As we drove away, Dr. Combe told me, what indeed I had perceived, that
this old man, who looked like a shriveled, russet-colored leaf for age
and feebleness, was a passionate partisan of Charles Edward, by whom my
mention of him as the Pretender, if coming from a man, would have been
held a personal insult. It was evident that I, though a mere chit of the
irresponsible sex, had both hurt and offended him by it. His sole
remaining interest in life was hunting out and collecting the smallest
records or memorials of this shadow of a hero; surely the merest "royal
apparition" that ever assumed kingship. "What a set those Stuarts must
have been!" exclaimed an American friend of mine once, after listening
to "Bonnie Prince Charlie," "to have had all those glorious Jacobite
songs made and sung for them, and not to have been more of men than they
were!" And so I think, and thought even then, for though I had a passion
for the Jacobite ballads, I had very little enthusiasm for their
thoroughly inefficient hero, who, for the claimant of a throne, was
undoubtedly _un très pauvre sire_. Talking over this with me, as we
drove from Mr. M----'s, Dr. Combe said he was persuaded that at that
time there were men to be found in Scotland ready to fight a duel about
the good fame of Mary Stuart.

Sir Walter Scott told me that when the Scottish regalia was discovered,
in its obscure place of security, in Edinburgh Castle, pending the
decision of government as to its ultimate destination, a committee of
gentlemen were appointed its guardians, among whom he was one; and that
he received a most urgent entreaty from an old lady of the Maxwell
family to be permitted to see it. She was nearly ninety years old, and
feared she might not live till the crown jewels of Scotland were
permitted to become objects of public exhibition, and pressed Sir Walter
with importunate prayers to allow her to see them before she died. Sir
Walter's good sense and good nature alike induced him to take upon
himself to grant the poor old lady's petition, and he himself conducted
her into the presence of these relics of her country's independent
sovereignty; when, he said, tottering hastily forward from his support,
she fell on her knees before the crown, and, clasping and wringing her
wrinkled hands, wailed over it as a mother over her dead child. His
description of the scene was infinitely pathetic, and it must have
appealed to all his own poetical and imaginative sympathy with the
former glories of his native land.

My mother's anxiety about Dr. Combe's age reminds me that my intimacy
with my cousin, Harry Siddons, who was now visiting his mother previous
to his departure for India to begin his military career, had been a
subject of considerable perplexity to her while I was still at home and
he used to come from Addiscombe to see us. Nothing could be more
diametrically opposite than his mother's and my mother's system (if
either could be called so) of dealing with the difficulty, though I have
my doubts whether Mrs. Harry perceived any in the case; and whereas I
think my mother's apprehensions and precautions would have very probably
been finally justified by some childish engagement between Harry and
myself, resulting in all sorts of difficulties and complications as time
went on and absence and distance produced their salutary effect on a boy
of twenty and a girl of seventeen, Mrs. Harry remained passive, and
apparently unconscious of any danger; and we walked and talked and
danced and were sentimental together after the most approved cousinly
fashion, and Harry went off to India with my name engraved upon his
sword--a circumstance which was only made known to me years after by his
widow (his and my cousin, Harriet Siddons), whom he met and loved and
married in India, and who made me laugh, telling me how hard he and she
had worked, scratched, and scrubbed together to try and efface my name
from the good sword; which, however, being true steel, and not
inconstant heart of man, refused to give up its dedication. I should
have much objected to any such inscription had I been consulted.

My cousin Harry's wife was the second daughter of George Siddons, Mrs.
Siddons's eldest son, who through her interest was appointed, while
still quite a young man, to the influential and lucrative post of
collector of the port at Calcutta, which position he retained for nearly
forty years. He married a lady in whose veins ran the blood of the kings
of Delhi, and in whose descendants, in one or two instances, even in the
fourth generation, this ancestry reveals itself by a type of beauty of
strikingly Oriental character. Among these is the beautiful Mrs.
Scott-Siddons, whose exquisite features present the most perfect living
miniature of her great-grandmother's majestic beauty. In two curiously
minute, highly finished miniatures of the royal Hindoo personages, her
ancestors, which Mrs. George Siddons gave Miss Twiss (and the latter
gave me), it is wonderful how strong a likeness may be traced to several
of their remote descendants born in England of English parents.

To return to Edinburgh: another intimate acquaintance, or rather friend,
of Mr. Combe's whom I frequently met at his house was Duncan McLaren,
father of the present member of Parliament, the able editor of the
_Scotsman_. Between him and the Combes all matters of public interest
and importance were discussed from the most liberal and enlightened
point of view, and it was undoubtedly a great advantage to an
intelligent girl of my age to hear such vigorous, manly, clear
expositions of the broadest aspects of all the great political and
governmental questions of the day. Admirable sound sense was the
characteristic that predominated in that intellectual circle, and was
brought to bear upon every subject; and I remember with the greatest
pleasure the evenings I passed at Mr. Combe's residence in
Northumberland Street, with these three grave men. Among the younger
associates to whom these elders and betters extended their kindly
hospitality was William Gregory, son of the eminent professor of
chemistry, who himself has since pursued the same scientific course with
equal success and distinction, adding a new luster to the honorable name
he inherited.

Mr. William Murray, my dear Mrs. Harry's brother, was another member of
our society, to whom I have alluded, in speaking of the Edinburgh
Theater, as an accomplished actor; and sometimes I used to think that
was all he was, for it was impossible to determine whether the romance,
the sentiment, the pathos, the quaint humor, or any of the curiously
capricious varying moods in which these were all blended, displayed real
elements of his character or only shifting exhibitions of the peculiar
versatility of a nature at once so complex and so superficial that it
really was impossible for others, and I think would have been difficult
for himself, to determine what was genuine thought and feeling in him,
and what the mere appearance or demonstration or imitation of thought
and feeling. Perhaps this peculiarity was what made him such a perfect
actor. He was a very melancholy man, with a tendency to moody morbidness
of mind which made him a subject of constant anxiety to his sister. His
countenance, which was very expressive without being at all handsome,
habitually wore an air of depression, and yet it was capable of
brilliant vivacity and humorous play of feature. His conversation, when
he was in good spirits, was a delightful mixture of sentiment, wit,
poetry, fun, fancy and imagination. He had married the sister of Mrs.
Thomas Moore (the Bessie so tenderly invited to "fly from the world"
with the poet), and I used to think that he was like an embodiment of
Moore's lyrical genius: there was so much pathos and wit and humor and
grace and spirit and tenderness, and such a quantity of factitious
flummery besides in him, that he always reminded me of those pretty and
provoking songs in which some affected attitudinizing conceit mingles
with almost every expression of genuine feeling, like an artificial rose
in a handful of wild flowers.

I do not think William Murray's diamonds were of the finest water, but
his _paste_ was; and it was difficult enough to tell the one from the
other. He had a charming voice, and sang exquisitely, after a fashion
which I have no doubt he copied (as, however, only original genius can
copy) from Moore; but his natural musical facility was such that,
although no musician, and singing everything only by ear, he executed
the music of the Figaro in Mozart's "Nozze" admirably. He had a good
deal of his sister's winning charm of manner, and was (but not, I think,
of malice prepense) that pleasantly pernicious creature, a male flirt.
It was quite out of his power to address any woman (sister or niece or
cookmaid) without an air and expression of sentimental courtesy and
tender chivalrous devotion, that must have been puzzling and perplexing
in the extreme to the uninitiated; and I am persuaded that until some
familiarity bred--if not contempt, at least comprehension--every woman
of his acquaintance (his cook included) must have felt convinced that he
was struggling against a respectful and hopeless passion for her.

Of another acquaintance of ours in Edinburgh, a Mrs. A----, I wish to
say a word. She was a very singular woman; not perhaps in being
tolerably ignorant and silly, with an unmeaning face and a foolish,
commonplace manner, an average specimen of vacuity of mind and vapidity
of conversation, but undoubtedly singular in that she combined with
these not un-frequent human conditions a most rare gift of musical and
poetical interpretation--a gift so peculiar that when she sang she
literally seemed inspired, taken possession of, by some other soul, that
entered into her as she opened her mouth and departed from her as she
shut it. She had a dull, brick-colored, long, thin face, and dull,
pale-green eyes, like boiled gooseberries; but when in a clear, high,
sweet, passionless soprano, like the voice of a spirit, and without any
accompaniment, she sang the old Scotch ballads which she had learned in
early girlhood from her nurse, she produced one of the most powerful
impressions that music and poetry combined can produce. From her I heard
and learned by ear "The Douglas Tragedy," "Fine Flowers in the Valley,"
"Edinbro'," and many others, and became completely enamored of the wild
beauty of the Scotch ballads, the terror and pity of their stories, and
the strange, sweet, mournful music to which they were told. I knew every
collection of them, that I could get hold of, by heart, from Scott's
"Border Minstrelsy" to Smith's six volumes of "National Scottish Songs
with their Musical Settings," and I said and sang them over in my lonely
walks perpetually; and they still are to me among the deepest and
freshest sources of poetical thought and feeling that I know. It is
impossible, I think, to find a truer expression of passion, anguish,
tenderness, and supernatural terror, than those poems contain. The dew
of heaven on the mountain fern is not more limpid than the simplicity of
their diction, nor the heart's blood of a lover more fervid than the
throbbing intensity of their passion. Misery, love, longing, and despair
have found no finer poetical utterance out of Shakespeare; and the
deepest chords of woe and tenderness have been touched by these often
unknown archaic song-writers, with a power and a pathos inferior only to
his. The older ballads, with the exquisite monotony of their burdens
soothing and relieving the tragic tenor of their stories, like the
sighing of wind or the murmuring of water; the clarion-hearted Jacobite
songs, with the fragrance of purple heather and white roses breathing
through their strains of loyal love and death-defying devotion; and the
lovely, pathetic, and bewitchingly humorous songs of Burns, with their
enchanting melodies, were all familiar to me, and, during the year that
I spent in Edinburgh, were my constant study and delight.

On one occasion I sat by Robert Chambers, and heard him relate some
portion of the difficulties and distresses of his own and his brother's
early boyhood (the interesting story has lately become generally known
by the publication of their memoirs); and I then found it very difficult
to swallow my dinner, and my tears, while listening to him, so deeply
was I affected by his simple and touching account of the cruel struggle
the two brave lads--destined to become such admirable and eminent
men--had to make against the hardships of their position. I remember his
describing the terrible longing occasioned by the smell of newly baked
bread in a baker's shop near which they lived, to their poor,
half-starved, craving appetites, while they were saving every farthing
they could scrape together for books and that intellectual sustenance of
which, in after years, they became such bountiful dispensers to all
English-reading folk. Theirs is a very noble story of virtue conquering
fortune and dedicating it to the highest purposes. I used to meet the
Messrs. Chambers at Mr. Combe's house; they were intimate and valued
friends of the phrenologist, and I remember when the book entitled
"Vestiges of Creation" came out, and excited so great a sensation in the
public mind, that Mr. Combe attributed the authorship of it, which was
then a secret, to Robert Chambers.

Another Edinburgh friend of ours was Baron Hume, a Scottish law
dignitary, a charming old gentleman of the very old school, who always
wore powder and a pigtail, knee-breeches, gold-buckles, and black silk
stockings; and who sent a thrill of delight through my girlish breast
when he addressed me, as he invariably did, by the dignified title of
"madam;" though I must sorrowfully add that my triumph on this score was
considerably abated when, on the occasion of my second visit to
Edinburgh, after I had come out on the stage, I went to see my kind old
friend, who was too aged and infirm to go to the theater, and who said
to me as I sat on a low stool by his sofa, "Why, madam, they tell me you
are become a great tragic actress! But," added he, putting his hand
under my chin, and raising my face toward him, "how am I to believe that
of this laughing face, madam?" No doubt he saw in his memory's eye the
majestic nose of my aunt, and my "visnomy" under the effect of such a
contrast must have looked comical enough, by way of a tragic mask. By
the bye, it is on record that while Gainsborough was painting that
exquisite portrait of Mrs. Siddons which is now in the South Kensington
Gallery, and which for many fortunate years adorned my father's house,
after working in absorbed silence for some time he suddenly exclaimed,
"Damn it, madam, there is no end to your nose!" The _restoration_ of
that beautiful painting has destroyed the delicate charm of its
coloring, which was perfectly harmonious, and has as far as possible
made it coarse and vulgar: before it had been spoiled, not even Sir
Joshua's "Tragic Muse" seemed to me so noble and beautiful a
representation of my aunt's beauty as that divine picture of

Two circumstances occurred during my stay in Edinburgh which made a
great impression upon me: the one was the bringing of the famous old
gun, Mons Meg, up to the castle; and the other was the last public
appearance of Madame Catalani. I do not know where the famous old cannon
had been kept till it was resolved to place it in Edinburgh Castle, but
the event was made quite a public festival, and by favor of some of the
military authorities who presided over the ceremony we were admirably
placed in a small angle or turret that commanded the beautiful land and
sea and town, and immediately overlooked the hollow road up which, with
its gallant military escort of Highland troops, and the resounding
accompaniment of their warlike music, the great old lumbering piece of
ordnance came slowly, dragged by a magnificent team of horses, into the
fortress. Nothing could be more striking than the contrast presented by
this huge, clumsy, misshapen, obsolete engine of war, and the spruce,
trim, shining, comparatively little cannon (mere pocket-pistols for
Bellona) which furnished the battery just below our stand, and which, as
soon as the unwieldy old warrioress had occupied the post of honor
reserved for her in their midst, sent forth a martial acclaim of welcome
that made the earth tremble under our feet, and resounded through the
air, shivering, with the strong concussion, more than one pane of glass
in the windows of Princess Street far below.

Of Madame Catalani, all I can say is that I think she sang only "God
save the King" and "Rule Britannia" on the occasion on which I heard
her, which was that of her last public appearance in Edinburgh. I
remember only these, and think had she sung any thing else I could not
have forgotten it. She was quite an old woman, but still splendidly
handsome. Her magnificent dark hair and eyes, and beautiful arms, and
her blue velvet dress with a girdle flashing with diamonds, impressed me
almost as much as her singing; which, indeed, was rather a declamatory
and dramatic than a musical performance. The tones of her voice were
still fine and full, and the majestic action of her arms as she uttered
the words, "When Britain first arose from the waves," wonderfully
graceful and descriptive; still, I remember better that I _saw_, than
that I _heard_, Madame Catalani. She is the first of the queens of song
that I have seen ascend the throne of popular favor, in the course of
sixty years, and pretty little Adelina Patti the last; I have heard all
that have reigned between the two, and above them all Pasta appears to
me pre-eminent for musical and dramatic genius--alone and unapproached,
the muse of tragic song.


I can not remember any event, or series of events, the influence of
which could, during my first stay in Edinburgh, have made a distinctly
serious or religious impression on my mind, or have directed my thoughts
especially toward the more solemn concerns and aspects of life. But from
some cause or other my mind became much affected at this time by
religious considerations, and a strong devotional element began to
predominate among my emotions and cogitations. In my childhood in my
father's house we had no special religious training; our habits were
those of average English Protestants of decent respectability. My mother
read the Bible to us in the morning before breakfast; Mrs. Trimmer's and
Mrs. Barbauld's Scripture histories and paraphrases were taught to us;
we learnt our catechism and collects, and went to church on Sunday, duly
and decorously, as a matter of course. Grace was always said before and
after meals by the youngest member of the family present; and I remember
a quaint, old-fashioned benediction which, when my father happened to be
at home at our bedtime, we used to kneel down by his chair to receive,
and with which he used to dismiss us for the night: "God bless you! make
you good, happy, healthy, and wise!" These, with our own daily morning
and evening prayers, were our devotional habits and pious practices. In
Mrs. Harry Siddons's house religion was never, I think, directly made a
subject of inculcation or discussion; the usual observances of Church of
England people were regularly fulfilled by all her family, the spirit of
true religion governed her life and all her home relations, but special,
direct reference to religious subjects was infrequent among us. God's
service in that house took the daily and hourly form of the
conscientious discharge of duty, unselfish, tender affection toward each
other, and kindly Christian charity toward all. At various times in my
life, when hearing discussions on the peculiar (technical, I should be
disposed to call it) profession and character supposed by some very good
people of a certain way of thinking to be the only indication of what
they considered real religion, I have remembered the serene, courageous
self-devotion of my dear friend, when, during a dangerous (as it was at
one time apprehended, fatal) illness of her youngest daughter, she would
leave her child's bedside to go to the theater, and discharge duties
never very attractive to her, and rendered distasteful then by cruel
anxiety, but her neglect of which would have injured the interests of
her brother, her fellow-actors, and all the poor people employed in the
theater, and been a direct infringement of her obligations to them. I
have wondered what amount of religion a certain class of "professing
Christians" would have allowed entered into that great effort.

We attended habitually a small chapel served by the Rev. William
Shannon, an excellent but not exciting preacher, who was a devoted
friend of Mrs. Harry Siddons; and occasionally we went to Dr. Allison's
church and heard him--then an old man--preach, and sometimes his young
assistant, Mr. Sinclair, whose eloquent and striking sermons, which
impressed me much, were the only powerful direct appeals made to my
religious sentiments at that time. I rather incline to think that I had,
what a most unclerical young clergyman of my acquaintance once assured
me I had, a natural turn for religion. I think it not unlikely that a
great deal of the direct religious teaching and influences of my Paris
school-days was, as it were, coming up again to the surface of my mind,
and occupying my thoughts with serious reflections upon the most
important subjects. The freedom I enjoyed gave scope and leisure to my
character to develop and strengthen itself; and to the combined
healthful repose and activity of all my faculties, the absence of all
excitement and irritation from external influences, the pure moral
atmosphere and kindly affection by which I lived surrounded during this
happy year, I attribute whatever perception of, desire for, or endeavor
after goodness I was first consciously actuated by. In the rest and
liberty of my life at this time, I think, whatever was best in me had
the most favorable chance of growth, and I have remained ever grateful
to the wise forbearance of the gentle authority under which I lived, for
the benefit as well as the enjoyment I derived from the time I passed in

I think that more harm is frequently done by over than by under culture
in the moral training of youth. Judicious _letting alone_ is a precious
element in real education, and there are certain chords which, often
touched and made to vibrate too early, are apt to lose instead of
gaining power; to grow first weakly and morbidly sensitive, and then
hard and dull; and finally, when the full harmony of the character
depends upon their truth and depth of tone, to have lost some measure of
both under repeated premature handling.

I sometimes think that instead of beginning, as we do, with a whole
heaven-and-earth-embracing theory of duty to God and man, it might be
better to adopt with our children the method of dealing only with each
particular instance of moral obligation empirically as it occurs; with
each particular incident of life, detached, as it were, from the notion
of a formal system, code, or theory of religious belief, until the
recurrence of the same rules of morality under the same governing
principle, invoked only in immediate application to some instance of
conduct or incident of personal experience, built up by degrees a body
of precedent which would have the force and efficacy of law before it
was theoretically inculcated as such. Whoever said that principles were
_moral habits_ spoke, it seems to me, a valuable truth, not generally
sufficiently recognized or acted upon in the task of education.

The only immediate result, that I can remember, of my graver turn of
thought at this time upon my conduct was a determination to give up
reading Byron's poetry. It was a great effort and a very great
sacrifice, for the delight I found in it was intense; but I was quite
convinced of its injurious effect upon me, and I came to the conclusion
that I would forego it.

"Cain" and "Manfred" were more especially the poems that stirred my
whole being with a tempest of excitement that left me in a state of
mental perturbation impossible to describe for a long time after reading
them. I suppose the great genius touched in me the spirit of our time,
which, chit as I was, was common to us both; and the mere fact of my
being _un enfant du siècle_ rendered me liable to the infection of the
potent, proud, desponding bitterness of his writing.

The spirit of an age creates the spirit that utters it, and though
Byron's genius stamped its impress powerfully upon the thought and
feeling of his contemporaries, he was himself, after all, but a sort of
quintessence of _them_, and gave them back only an intensified,
individual extract of themselves. The selfish vanity and profligate vice
which he combined with his extraordinary intellectual gifts were as
peculiar to himself as his great mental endowments; and though fools may
have followed the fashion of his follies, the heart of all Europe was
not stirred by a fashion of which he set the example, but by a passion
for which he found the voice, indeed, but of which the key-note lay in
the very temper of the time and the souls of the men of his day. Goethe,
Alfieri, Châteaubriand, each in his own language and with his peculiar
national and individual accent, uttered the same mind; they stamped
their own image and superscription upon the coin to which, by so doing,
they gave currency, but the mine from whence they drew their metal was
the civilized humanity of the nineteenth century. It is true that some
of Solomon's coining rings not unlike Goethe's and Byron's; but Solomon
forestalled his day by being _blasé_ before the nineteenth century.
Doubtless the recipe for that result has been the same for individuals
ever since the world rolled, but only here and there a great king, who
was also a great genius, possessed it in the earlier times; it took all
the ages that preceded it to make the _blasé_ age, and Byron,
pre-eminently, to speak its mind in English--which he had no sooner done
than every nineteenth-century shop-boy in England quoted Byron, wore his
shirt-collar open, and execrated his destiny. Doubtless by grace of his
free-will a man may wring every drop of sap out of his own soul and help
his fellows like-minded with himself to do the same; but the everlasting
spirit of truth renews the vitality of the world, and while Byron was
growling and howling, and Shelley was denying and defying, Scott was
telling and Wordsworth singing things beautiful and good, and new and

Certain it is, however, that the noble poet's glorious chanting of much
inglorious matter did me no good, and so I resolved to read that grand
poetry no more. It was a severe struggle, but I persevered in it for
more than two years, and had my reward; I broke through the thraldom of
that powerful spell, and all the noble beauty of those poems remained to
me thenceforth divested of the power of wild excitement they had
exercised over me. A great many years after this girlish effort and
sacrifice, Lady Byron, who was a highly esteemed friend of mine, spoke
to me upon the subject of a new and cheap edition of her husband's works
about to be published, and likely to be widely disseminated among the
young clerk and shopkeeper class of readers, for whom she deprecated
extremely the pernicious influence it was calculated to produce. She
consulted me on the expediency of appending to it some notice of Lord
Byron written by herself, which she thought might modify or lessen the
injurious effect of his poetry upon young minds. "Nobody," she said,
"knew him as I did" (this certainly was not the general impression upon
the subject); "nobody knew as well as I the causes that had made him
what he was; nobody, I think, is so capable of doing justice to him, and
therefore of counteracting the injustice he does to himself, and the
injury he might do to others, in some of his writings." I was strongly
impressed by the earnestness of her expression, which seemed to me one
of affectionate compassion for Byron and profound solicitude lest, even
in his grave, he should incur the responsibility of yet further evil
influence, especially on the minds of the young. I could not help
wondering, also, whether she did not shrink from being again, to a new
generation and a wider class of readers, held up to cruel ridicule and
condemnation as the cold-hearted, hard, pedantic prude, without sympathy
for suffering or relenting toward repentance. I had always admired the
reticent dignity of her silence with reference to her short and
disastrous union with Lord Byron, and I felt sorry, therefore, that she
contemplated departing from the course she had thus far steadfastly
pursued, though I appreciated the motive by which she was actuated. I
could not but think, however, that she overestimated the mischief
Byron's poetry was likely to do the young men of 1850, highly
prejudicial as it undoubtedly was to those of his day, illustrated, so
to speak, by the bad notoriety of his own character and career. But the
generation of English youth who had grown up with Thackeray, Dickens,
and Tennyson as their intellectual nourishment, seemed to me little
likely to be infected with Byronism, and might read his poetry with a
degree of impunity which the young people of his own time did not enjoy.
I urged this my conviction upon her, as rendering less necessary than
she imagined the antidote she was anxious to append to the poison of the
new edition of her husband's works. But to this she replied that she had
derived her impression of the probable mischief to a class peculiarly
interesting to him, from Frederick Robertson, and of course his opinion
was more than an overweight for mine.

Lady Byron did not, however, fulfill her purpose of prefacing the
contemplated edition of Byron's poems with a notice of him by herself,
which I think very likely to have been a suggestion of Mr. Robertson's
to her.

My happy year in Edinburgh ended, I returned to London, to our house in
James Street, Buckingham Gate, where I found my parents much burdened
with care and anxiety about the affairs of the theater, which were
rapidly falling into irretrievable embarrassment. My father toiled
incessantly, but the tide of ill-success and losing fortune had set
steadily against him, and the attempt to stem it became daily harder and
more hopeless. I used sometimes to hear some of the sorrowful details of
this dreary struggle, and I well remember the indignation and terror I
experienced when one day my father said at dinner, "I have had a new
experience to-day: I have been arrested for the first time in my life."
I believe my father was never personally in debt during all his life; he
said he never had been up to that day, and I am very sure he never was
afterward. Through all the severe labor of his professional life, and
his strenuous exertions to maintain his family and educate my brothers
like gentlemen, and my sister and myself with every advantage, he never
incurred the misery of falling into debt, but paid his way as he went
along, with difficulty, no doubt, but still steadily and successfully,
"owing no man any thing." But the suit in question was brought against
him as one of the proprietors of the theater, for a debt which the
theater owed; and, moreover, was that of a person whom he had befriended
and helped forward, and who had always professed the most sincere
gratitude and attachment to him. The constantly darkening prospects of
that unlucky theater threw a gloom over us all; sometimes my father used
to speak of selling his share in it for any thing he could get for it
(and Heaven knows it was not likely to be much!), and going to live
abroad; or sending my mother, with us, to live cheaply in the south of
France, while he continued to work in London. Neither alternative was
cheerful for him or my poor mother, and I felt very sorrowful for them,
though I thought I should like living in the south of France better than
in London. I was working with a good deal of enthusiasm at a tragedy on
the subject of Fiesco, the Genoese noble's conspiracy against the
Dorias--a subject which had made a great impression upon me when I first
read Schiller's noble play upon it. My own former fancy about going on
the stage, and passionate desire for a lonely, independent life in which
it had originated, had died away with the sort of moral and mental
effervescence which had subsided during my year's residence in
Edinburgh. Although all my sympathy with the anxieties of my parents
tended to make the theater an object of painful interest to me, and
though my own attempts at poetical composition were constantly cast in a
dramatic form, in spite of my enthusiastic admiration of Goethe's and
Schiller's plays (which, however, I could only read in French or English
translations, for I then knew no German) and my earnest desire to write
a good play myself, the idea of making the stage my profession had
entirely passed from my mind, which was absorbed with the wish and
endeavor to produce a good dramatic composition. The turn I had
exhibited for acting at school appeared to have evaporated, and Covent
Garden itself never occurred to me as a great institution for purposes
of art or enlightened public recreation, but only as my father's
disastrous property, to which his life was being sacrificed; and every
thought connected with it gradually became more and more distasteful to
me. It appears to me curious, that up to this time, I literally knew
nothing of Shakespeare, beyond having seen one or two of his plays
acted; I had certainly never read one of them through, nor did I do so
until some time later, when I began to have to learn parts in them by

I think the rather serious bias which my mind had developed while I was
still in Scotland tended probably to my greater contentment in my home,
and to the total disinclination which I should certainly now have felt
for a life of public exhibition. My dramatic reading and writing was
curiously blended with a very considerable interest in literature of a
very different sort, and with the perusal of such works as Mason on
"Self-Knowledge," Newton's "Cardiphonia," and a great variety of sermons
and religious essays. My mother, observing my tendency to reading on
religious subjects, proposed to me to take my first communion. She was a
member of the Swiss Protestant Church, the excellent pastor of which,
the Rev. Mr. S----, was our near neighbor, and we were upon terms of the
friendliest intimacy with him and his family. In his church I received
the sacrament for the first time, but I do not think with the most
desirable effect. The only immediate result that I can remember of this
increase of my Christian profession and privileges was, I am sorry to
say, a rigid pharisaical formalism, which I carried so far as to decline
accompanying my father and mother to our worthy clergyman's house, one
Sunday, when we were invited to spend the evening with him and his
family. This sort of acrid fruit is no uncommon first harvest of
youthful religious zeal; and I suppose my parents and my worthy pastor
thought it a piece of unripe, childish, impertinent conscientiousness,
hardly deserving a serious rebuke.

Another of my recollections which belong to this time is seeing several
times at our house that exceedingly coarse, disagreeable, clever, and
witty man, Theodore Hook. I always had a dread of his loud voice, and
blazing red face, and staring black eyes; especially as on more than one
occasion his after-dinner wit seemed to me fitter for the table he had
left than the more refined atmosphere of the drawing-room. One day he
dined with us to meet my cousin Horace Twiss and his handsome new wife.
Horace had in a lesser degree some of Hook's wonderful sense of humor
and quickness of repartee, and the two men brought each other out with
great effect. Of course I had heard of Mr. Hook's famous reply when,
after having returned from the colonies, where he was in an official
position, under suspicion of peculation, a friend meeting him said,
"Why, hallo, Hook! I did not know you were in England! What has brought
you back again?" "Something wrong about the _chest_," replied the
imperturbable wit. He was at this time the editor of the John Bull, a
paper of considerable ability, and only less scurrility than the _Age_;
and in spite of his _chest difficulty_ he was much sought in society for
his extraordinary quickness and happiness in conversation. His
outrageous hoax of the poor London citizen, from whom he extorted an
agonized invitation to dinner by making him believe that he and Charles
Mathews were public surveyors, sent to make observations for a new road,
which was to go straight through the poor shopkeeper's lawn,
flower-garden, and bedroom, he has, I believe, introduced into his novel
of "Gilbert Gurney." But not, of course, with the audacious
extemporaneous song with which he wound up the joke, when, having eaten
and drank the poor citizen's dinner, prepared for a small party of
citizen friends (all the time assuring him that he and his friend would
use their very best endeavors to avert the threatened invasion of his
property by the new line of road), he proposed singing a song, to the
great delight of the unsophisticated society, the concluding verse of
which was--

    "And now I am bound to declare
       That your wine is as good as your cook,
     And that this is Charles Mathews, the player,
       And I, sir, am Theodore Hook."

He always demanded, when asked for a specimen of his extemporizing
power, that a subject should be given to him. I do not remember, on one
occasion, what was suggested in the first instance, but after some
discussion Horace Twiss cried out, "The Jews." It was the time of the
first mooting of the question of the Jews being admitted to stand for
Parliament and having seats in the House, and party spirit ran extremely
high upon the subject. Theodore Hook shrugged his shoulders and made a
discontented grimace, as if baffled by his theme, the Jews. However, he
went to the piano, threw back his head, and began strumming a galloping
country-dance tune, to which he presently poured forth the most
inconceivable string of witty, comical, humorous, absurd allusions to
everybody present as well as to the subject imposed upon him. Horace
Twiss was at that time under-secretary either for foreign affairs or the
colonies, and Hook took occasion to say, or rather sing, that the
foreign department could have little charms for a man who had so many
more in the home, with an indication to Annie Twiss; the final verse of
this real firework of wit was this--

    "I dare say you think there's little wit
       In this, but you've all forgot
     That, instead of being a jeu d'esprit,
       'Tis only a jeu de mot,"

pronouncing the French words as broadly as possible, "a _Jew d'esprit_,
and 'tis only a _Jew de motte_," for the sake of the rhyme, and his
subject, the Jews. It certainly was all through a capital specimen of
ready humor. I remember on another occasion hearing him exercise his
singular gift in a manner that seemed to me as unjustifiable as it was
disagreeable. I met him at dinner at Sir John McDonald's, then
adjutant-general, a very kind and excellent friend of mine. Mrs. Norton
and Lord C----, who were among the guests, both came late, and after we
had gone into the dining-room, where they were received with a discreet
quantity of mild chaff, Mrs. Norton being much too formidable an
adversary to be challenged lightly. After dinner, however, when the men
came up into the drawing-room, Theodore Hook was requested to
extemporize, and having sung one song, was about to leave the piano in
the midst of the general entreaty that he would not do so, when Mrs.
Norton, seating herself close to the instrument so that he could not
leave it, said, in her most peculiar, deep, soft, contralto voice, which
was like her beautiful dark face set to music, "I am going to sit down
here, and you shall not come away, for I will keep you in like an iron
crow." There was nothing about her manner or look that could suggest any
thing but a flattering desire to enjoy Hook's remarkable talent in some
further specimen of his power of extemporizing, and therefore I suppose
there must have been some previous ill-will or heart-burning on his part
toward her--she was reckless enough in her use of her wonderful wit and
power of saying the most intolerable stinging things, to have left a
smart on some occasion in Hook's memory, for which he certainly did his
best to pay her then. Every verse of the song he now sang ended with his
turning with a bow to her, and the words, "my charming iron crow;" but
it was from beginning to end a covert satire of her and her social
triumphs; even the late arrival at dinner and its supposed causes were
duly brought in, still with the same mock-respectful inclination to his
"charming iron crow." Everybody was glad when the song was over, and
applauded it quite as much from a sense of relief as from admiration of
its extraordinary cleverness; and Mrs. Norton smilingly thanked Hook,
and this time made way for him to leave the piano.

We lived near each other at this time, we in James Street, Buckingham
Gate, and the Nortons at Storey's Gate, at the opposite end of the
Birdcage Walk. We both of us frequented the same place of worship--a
tiny chapel wedged in among the buildings at the back of Downing Street,
the entrance to which was from the park; it has been improved away by
the new government offices. Our dinner at the McDonalds' was on a
Saturday, and the next day, as we were walking part of the way home
together from church, Mrs. Norton broke out about Theodore Hook and his
odious ill-nature and abominable coarseness, saying that it was a
disgrace and a shame that for the sake of his paper, the _John Bull_,
and its influence, the Tories should receive such a man in society. I,
who but for her outburst upon the subject should have carefully avoided
mentioning Hook's name, presuming that after his previous evening's
performance it could not be very agreeable to Mrs. Norton, now, not
knowing very well what to say, but thinking the Sheridan blood
(especially in her veins) might have some sympathy with and find some
excuse for him, suggested the temptation that the possession of such wit
must always be, more or less, to the abuse of it. "Witty!" exclaimed the
indignant beauty, with her lip and nostril quivering, "witty! One may
well be witty when one fears neither God nor devil!" I was heartily glad
Hook was not there; he was not particular about the truth, and would
infallibly, in some shape or other, have translated for her benefit, "Je
crains Dieu, cher Abner, et n'ai point d'autre crainte."

The Nortons' house was close to the issue from St. James's Park into
Great George Street. I remember passing an evening with them there, when
a host of distinguished public and literary men were crowded into their
small drawing-room, which was literally resplendent with the light of
Sheridan beauty, male and female: Mrs. Sheridan (Miss Callender, of
whom, when she published a novel, the hero of which commits forgery,
that wicked wit, Sidney Smith, said he knew she was a Callender, but did
not know till then that she was a Newgate calendar), the mother of the
Graces, more beautiful than anybody but her daughters; Lady Grahame,
their beautiful aunt; Mrs. Norton, Mrs. Blackwood (Lady Dufferin),
Georgiana Sheridan (Duchess of Somerset and queen of beauty by universal
consent), and Charles Sheridan, their younger brother, a sort of younger
brother of the Apollo Belvedere. Certainly I never saw such a bunch of
beautiful creatures all growing on one stem. I remarked it to Mrs.
Norton, who looked complacently round her tiny drawing-room and said,
"Yes, we are rather good-looking people." I remember this evening
because of the impression made on me by the sight of these wonderfully
"good-looking people" all together, and also because of my having had to
sing with Moore--an honor and glory hardly compensating the distress of
semi-strangulation, in order to avoid drowning his feeble thread of a
voice with the heavy, robust contralto which I found it very difficult
to swallow half of, while singing second to him, in his own melodies,
with the other half. My acquaintance with Mrs. Norton lasted through a
period of many years, and, though never very intimate, was renewed with
cordiality each time I returned to England. It began just after I came
out on the stage, when I was about twenty, and she a few years older. My
father and mother had known her parents and grandparents, Richard
Brinsley Sheridan and Miss Lindley, from whom their descendants derived
the remarkable beauty and brilliant wit which distinguished them.

My mother was at Drury Lane when Mr. Sheridan was at the head of its
administration, and has often described to me the extraordinary
proceedings of that famous first night of "Pizarro," when, at last
keeping the faith he had so often broken with the public, Mr. Sheridan
produced that most effective of melodramas, with my aunt and uncle's
parts still unfinished, and, depending upon their extraordinary rapidity
of study, kept them learning the last scenes of the last act, which he
was still writing, while the beginning of the piece was being performed.
By the by, I do not know what became of the theories about the dramatic
art, and the careful and elaborate study necessary for its perfection.
In this particular instance John Kemble's Rolla and Mrs. Siddons's
Elvira must have been what may be called extemporaneous acting. Not
impossibly, however, these performances may have gained in vivid power
and effect what they lost in smoothness and finish, from the very
nervous strain and excitement of such a mental effort as the actors were
thus called upon to make. My mother remembered well, too, the dismal
Saturdays when, after prolonged periods of non-payment of their
salaries, the poorer members of the company, and all the unfortunate
work-people, carpenters, painters, scene-shifters, understrappers of all
sorts, and plebs in general of the great dramatic concern, thronging the
passages and staircases, would assail Sheridan on his way to the
treasury with pitiful invocations: "For God's sake, Mr. Sheridan, pay us
our salaries!" "For Heaven's sake, Mr. Sheridan, let us have something
this week!" and his plausible reply of, "Certainly, certainly, my good
people, you shall be attended to directly." Then he would go into the
treasury, sweep it clean of the whole week's receipts (the salaries of
the principal actors, whom he dared not offend and could not dispense
with, being, if not wholly, partially paid), and, going out of the
building another way, leave the poor people who had cried to him for
their arrears of wages baffled and cheated of the price of their labor
for another week. The picture was not a pleasant one.

When I first knew Caroline Sheridan, she had not long been married to
the Hon. George Norton. She was splendidly handsome, of an un-English
character of beauty, her rather large and heavy head and features
recalling the grandest Grecian and Italian models, to the latter of whom
her rich coloring and blue-black braids of hair gave her an additional
resemblance. Though neither as perfectly lovely as the Duchess of
Somerset, nor as perfectly charming as Lady Dufferin, she produced a far
more striking impression than either of them, by the combination of the
poetical genius with which she alone, of the three, was gifted, with the
brilliant wit and power of repartee which they (especially Lady
Dufferin) possessed in common with her, united to the exceptional beauty
with which they were all three endowed. Mrs. Norton was extremely
epigrammatic in her talk, and comically dramatic in her manner of
narrating things. I do not know whether she had any theatrical talent,
though she sang pathetic and humorous songs admirably, and I remember
shaking in my shoes when, soon after I came out, she told me she envied
me, and would give anything to try the stage herself. I thought, as I
looked at her wonderful, beautiful face, "Oh, if you should, what would
become of me!" She was no musician, but had a deep, sweet contralto
voice, precisely the same in which she always spoke, and which, combined
with her always lowered eyelids ("downy eyelids" with sweeping silken
fringes), gave such incomparably comic effect to her sharp retorts and
ludicrous stories; and she sang with great effect her own and Lady
Dufferin's social satires, "Fanny Grey," and "Miss Myrtle," etc., and
sentimental songs like "Would I were with Thee," "I dreamt 'twas but a
Dream," etc., of which the words were her own, and the music, which only
amounted to a few chords with the simplest modulations, her own also. I
remember she used occasionally to convulse her friends _en petit comité_
with a certain absurd song called "The Widow," to all intents and
purposes a piece of broad comedy, the whole story of which (the wooing
of a disconsolate widow by a rich lover, whom she first rejects and then
accepts) was comprised in a few words, rather spoken than sung, eked out
by a ludicrous burden of "rum-ti-iddy-iddy-iddy-ido," which, by dint of
her countenance and voice, conveyed all the alternations of the widow's
first despair, her lover's fiery declaration, her virtuous indignation
and wrathful rejection of him, his cool acquiescence and intimation that
his full purse assured him an easy acceptance in various other quarters,
her rage and disappointment at his departure, and final relenting and
consent on his return; all of which with her "iddy-iddy-ido" she sang,
or rather acted, with incomparable humor and effect. I admired her

In 1841 I began a visit of two years and a half in England. During this
time I constantly met Mrs. Norton in society. She was living with her
uncle, Charles Sheridan, and still maintained her glorious supremacy of
beauty and wit in the great London world. She came often to parties at
our house, and I remember her asking us to dine at her uncle's, when
among the people we met were Lord Lansdowne and Lord Normanby, both then
in the ministry, whose good-will and influence she was exerting herself
to _captivate_ in behalf of a certain shy, silent, rather rustic
gentleman from the far-away province of New Brunswick, Mr. Samuel Cunard,
afterwards Sir Samuel Cunard of the great mail-packet line of steamers
between England and America. He had come to London an obscure and humble
individual, endeavoring to procure from the government the sole privilege
of carrying the transatlantic mails for his line of steamers. Fortunately
for him he had some acquaintance with Mrs. Norton, and the powerful
beauty, who was kind-hearted and good-natured to all but her natural
enemies (i.e. the members of her own London society), exerted all her
interest with her admirers in high place in favor of Cunard, and had made
this very dinner for the express purpose of bringing her provincial
_protégé_ into pleasant personal relations with Lord Lansdowne and Lord
Normanby, who were likely to be of great service to him in the special
object which had brought him to England. The only other individual I
remember at the dinner was that most beautiful person, Lady Harriet
d'Orsay. Years after, when the Halifax projector had become Sir Samuel
Cunard, a man of fame in the worlds of commerce and business of New York
and London, a baronet of large fortune, and a sort of proprietor of the
Atlantic Ocean between England and the United States, he reminded me of
this charming dinner in which Mrs. Norton had so successfully found the
means of forwarding his interests, and spoke with enthusiasm of her
kind-heartedness as well as her beauty and talents; he, of course, passed
under the Caudine Forks, beneath which all men encountering her had to
bow and throw down their arms. She was very fond of inventing devices for
seals, and other such ingenious exercises of her brains, and she gave
---- a star with the motto, "Procul sed non extincta," which she civilly
said bore reference to me in my transatlantic home. She also told me,
when we were talking of mottoes for seals and rings, that she had had
engraved on a ring she always wore the name of that miserable bayou of
the Mississippi--Atchafalaya--where Gabriel passes near one side of an
island, while Evangeline, in her woe-begone search, is lying asleep on
the other; and that, to her surprise, she found that the King of the
Belgians wore a ring on which he had had the same word engraved, as an
expression of the bitterest and most hopeless disappointment.

In 1845 I passed through London, and spent a few days there with my
father, on my way to Italy. Mrs. Norton, hearing of my being in town,
came to see me, and urged me extremely to go and dine with her before I
left London, which I did. The event of the day in her society was the
death of Lady Holland, about which there were a good many lamentations,
of which Lady T---- gave the real significance, with considerable
_naïveté_: "Ah, poore deare Ladi Ollande! It is a grate pittie; it was
suche a _pleasant 'ouse!_" As I had always avoided Lady Holland's
acquaintance, I could merely say that the regrets I heard expressed
about her seemed to me only to prove a well-known fact--how soon the
dead were forgotten. The _real_ sorrow was indeed for the loss of her
house, that pleasantest of all London rendezvouses, and not for its
mistress, though those whom I then heard speak were probably among the
few who did regret her. Lady Holland had one good quality (perhaps more
than one, which I might have found out if I had known her): she was a
constant and exceedingly warm friend, and extended her regard and
remembrance to all whom Lord Holland or herself had ever received with
kindness or on a cordial footing. My brother John had always been
treated with great friendliness by Lord Holland, and in her will Lady
Holland, who had not seen him for years, left him as a memento a copy,
in thirty-two volumes, of the English essayists, which had belonged to
her husband.

Almost immediately after this transient renewal of my intercourse with
Mrs. Norton, I left England for Italy, and did not see her again for
several years. The next time I did so was at an evening party at my
sister's house, where her appearance struck me more than it had ever
done. Her dress had something to do with this effect, no doubt. She had
a rich gold-colored silk on, shaded and softened all over with black
lace draperies, and her splendid head, neck, and arms were adorned with
magnificently simple Etruscan gold ornaments, which she had brought from
Rome, whence she had just returned, and where the fashion of that famous
antique jewelry had lately been revived. She was still "une beauté
triomphante à faire voir aux ambassadeurs."

During one of my last sojourns in London I met Mrs. Norton at Lansdowne
House. There was a great assembly there, and she was wandering through
the rooms leaning on the arm of her youngest son, her glorious head
still crowned with its splendid braids of hair, and wreathed with grapes
and ivy leaves, and this was my last vision of her; but, in the autumn
of 1870, Lady C---- told me of meeting her in London society, now indeed
quite old, but indomitably handsome and witty.

I think it only humane to state, for the benefit of all mothers anxious
for their daughters', and all daughters anxious for their own, future
welfare in this world, that in the matter of what the lady's-maid in the
play calls "the first of earthly blessings--personal appearance,"
Caroline Sheridan as a girl was so little distinguished by the
exceptional beauty she subsequently developed, that her lovely mother,
who had a right to be exacting in the matter, entertained occasionally
desponding misgivings as to the future comeliness of one of the most
celebrated beauties of her day.

At the time of my earliest acquaintance with the Nortons, our friends
the Basil Montagus had left their house in Bedford Square, and were also
living at Storey's Gate. Among the remarkable people I met at their
house was the Indian rajah, Ramohun Roy, philosopher, scholar, reformer,
Quaker, theist, I know not what and what not, who was introduced to me,
and was kind enough to take some notice of me. He talked to me of the
literature of his own country, especially its drama, and, finding that I
was already acquainted with the Hindoo theatre through the medium of my
friend Mr. Horace Wilson's translations of its finest compositions, but
that I had never read "Sakuntalà," the most remarkable of them all,
which Mr. Wilson had not included in his collection (I suppose because
of its translation by Sir William Jones), Ramohun Roy sent me a copy of
it, which I value extremely as a memento of so remarkable a man, but in
which I confess I am utterly unable to find the extraordinary beauty and
sublimity which he attributed to it, and of which I remember Goethe also
speaks enthusiastically (if I am not mistaken, in his conversations with
Eckermann), calling it the most wonderful production of human genius.
Goethe had not, any more than myself, the advantage of reading
"Sakuntalà" in Sanskrit, and I am quite at a loss to account for the
extreme and almost exaggerated admiration he expresses for it.

                       JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, August 23, ----.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I received your last on my return from the country, where I had
     been staying a fortnight, and I assure you that after an
     uncomfortable and rainy drive into town I found it of more service
     in warming me than even the blazing fire with which we are obliged
     to shame the month of August.

     I have a great deal to tell you about our affairs, and the effect
     that their unhappy posture seems likely to produce upon my future
     plans and prospects. Do you remember a letter I wrote to you a long
     time ago about going on the stage? and another, some time before
     that, about my becoming a governess? The urgent necessity which I
     think now exists for exertion, in all those who are capable of it
     among us, has again turned my thoughts to these two considerations.
     My father's property, and all that we might ever have hoped to
     derive from it, being utterly destroyed in the unfortunate issue of
     our affairs, his personal exertions are all that remain to him and
     us to look to. There are circumstances in which reflections that
     our minds would not admit at other times of necessity force
     themselves upon our consideration. Those talents and
     qualifications, both mental and physical, which have been so
     mercifully preserved to my dear father hitherto, cannot, in the
     natural course of things, all remain unimpaired for many more
     years. It is right, then, that those of us who have the power to do
     so should at once lighten his arms of all unnecessary burden, and
     acquire the habit of independent exertion before the moment comes
     when utter inexperience would add to the difficulty of adopting any
     settled mode of proceeding; it is right and wise to prepare for the
     evil day before it is upon us. These reflections have led me to the
     resolution of entering upon some occupation or profession which may
     enable me to turn the advantages my father has so liberally
     bestowed upon me to some account, so as not to be a useless
     incumbrance to him at present, or a helpless one in future time. My
     brother John, you know, has now determined, to go into the Church.
     Henry we have good although remote hopes of providing well for,
     and, were I to make use of my own capabilities, dear little A----
     would be the only one about whom there need be any anxiety. I
     propose writing to my father before he returns home (he is at
     present acting in the provinces) on this subject. Some step I am
     determined to take; the nature of it will, of course, remain with
     him and my mother. I trust that whatever course they resolve upon I
     shall be enabled to pursue steadily, and I am sure that, be it what
     it may, I shall find it comparatively easy, as the motive is
     neither my own profit nor reputation, but the desire of bringing
     into their right use whatever talents I may possess, which have not
     been given for useless purposes. I hope and trust that I am better
     fitted for either of the occupations I have mentioned than I was
     when I before entertained an idea of them. You asked me what
     inclined John's thoughts to the Church. It would be hard to say; or
     rather, I ought to say, that Providence which in its own good time
     makes choice of its instruments, and which I ever firmly trusted
     would not suffer my brother's fine powers to be wasted on unworthy
     aims. I am not able to say how the change which has taken place in
     his opinions and sentiments was effected; but you know one has not
     done _all_ one's thinking at two and twenty. I have been by
     circumstances much separated from my brother, and when with him
     have had but little communication upon such subjects. It was at a
     time when, I think, his religious principles were somewhat
     unsettled, that his mind was so passionately absorbed by politics.
     The nobler instincts of his nature, diverted for a while from due
     direct intercourse with their divine source, turned themselves with
     enthusiastic, earnest hope to the desire of benefiting his
     fellow-creatures; and to these aims--the reformation of abuses, the
     establishment of a better system of government, the gradual
     elevation and improvement of the people, and the general progress
     of the country towards enlightened liberty and consequent
     prosperity--he devoted all his thoughts. This was the period of his
     fanatical admiration for Jeremy Bentham and Mill, who, you know,
     are our near neighbors here, and whose houses we never pass without
     John being inclined to salute them, I think, as the shrines of some
     beneficent powers of renovation. And here comes the break in our
     intercourse and in my knowledge of his mental and moral progress. I
     went to Scotland, and was amazed, after I had been there some time,
     to hear from my mother that John had not got his scholarship, and
     had renounced his intention of going to the bar and determined to
     study for the Church. I returned home, and found him much changed.
     His high sense of the duties attending it makes me rejoice most
     sincerely that he has chosen that career, which may not be the
     surest path to worldly advancement, but if conscientiously followed
     must lead, I should think, to the purest happiness this life can
     offer. I think much of this change may be attributed to the example
     and influence of some deservedly dear friends of his; probably
     something to the sobering effect of the disappointment and
     mortification of his failure at college, where such sanguine hopes
     and expectations of his success had been entertained. Above all, I
     refer his present purpose to that higher influence which has
     followed him through all his mental wanderings, suggesting the
     eager inquiries of his restless and dissatisfied spirit, and
     finally leading it to this, its appointed goal. He writes to us in
     high spirits from Germany, and his letters are very delightful.

     Mrs. Siddons and Cecy are with Mrs. Kemble at Leamington. Mrs.
     Harry Siddons is, I fear, but little better; she has had another
     attack of erysipelas, and I am very anxious to get to her, but the
     distance, and the dependence of all interesting young females in
     London on the legs and leisure of chaperons, prevents me from
     seeing her as often as I wish.

     German is an arduous undertaking, and I have once more abandoned
     it, not only on account of its difficulty, but because I do not at
     present wish to enter upon the study of a foreign language, when I
     am but just awakened to my radical ignorance of my own. God bless
     you, dear H----.

                             Yours ever,

As long as I retained a home of my own, I resisted my friend's
half-expressed wish that I should destroy her letters; but when I ceased
to have any settled place of habitation, it became impossible to provide
for the safe-keeping of a mass of papers the accumulation of which
received additions every few days, and by degrees (for my courage failed
me very often in the task) my friend's letters were destroyed. Few
things that I have had to relinquish have cost me a greater pang or
sense of loss, and few of the conditions of my wandering life have
seemed to me more grievous than the necessity it imposed upon me of
destroying these letters. My friend did not act upon her own theory with
regard to my correspondence, and indeed it seems to me that no general
rule can be given with regard to the preservation or destruction of
correspondence. What revelations of misery and guilt may lie in the
forgotten folds of hoarded letters, that have been preserved only to
blast the memory of the dead! What precious words, again, have been
destroyed, that might have lightened for a whole heavy lifetime the
doubt and anguish of the living! In this, as in all we do, we grope
about in darkness, and the one and the other course must often enough
have been bitterly lamented by those who "did for the best" in keeping
or destroying these chronicles of human existence.

Madame Pasta's daughter once said to Charles Young, who enthusiastically
admired her great genius, "Vous trouvez qu'elle chante et joue bien,
n'est-ce pas?" "Je crois bien," replied he, puzzled to understand her
drift. "Well," replied the daughter of the great lyrical artist, "to us,
to whom she belongs, and who know and love her, her great talent is the
least admirable thing about her; but no one but us knows that."

Doubtless if letters of Shakespeare's could be found, letters developing
the mystery of those sorrowful sonnets, or even letters describing his
daily dealings with his children, and Mistress Anne Hathaway, his wife;
nay, even the fashion, color, and texture of the hangings of "the
second-best bed," her special inheritance, a frenzy of curiosity would
be aroused by them. All his glorious plays would not be worth
(bookseller's value) some scraps of thought and feeling, or mere
personal detail, or even commonplace (he must have been sovereignly
commonplace) impartment of theatrical business news and gossip to his
fellow-players, or Scotch Drummond, or my Lord Southampton, or the Dark
Woman of the sonnets. But we know little about him, thank Heaven! and I
am glad that little is not more.

I know he must have sinned and suffered, mortal man since he was, but I
do not wish to know how. From his plays, in spite of the necessarily
impersonal character of dramatic composition, we gather a vivid and
distinct impression of serene sweetness, wisdom, and power. In the
fragment of personal history which he gives us in his sonnets, the
reverse is the case; we have a painful impression of mournful struggling
with adverse circumstances and moral evil elements, and of the labor and
the love of his life alike bestowed on objects deemed by himself
unworthy; and in spite of his triumphant promise of immortality to the
false mistress or friend, or both, to whom (as far as he has revealed
them to us) he has kept his promise, we fall to pitying Shakespeare, the
bestower of immortality. In the great temple raised by his genius to his
own undying glory, one narrow door opens into a secret, silent crypt,
where his image, blurred and indistinct, is hardly discernible through
the gloomy atmosphere, heavy and dim as if with sighs and tears. Here is
no clew, no issue, and we return to the shrine filled with light and
life and warmth and melody; with knowledge and love of man, and worship
of God and nature. There is our benefactor and friend, simplest and most
lovable, though most wonderful of his kind; other image of him than that
bright one may the world never know!

The extraordinary development of the taste for petty details of personal
gossip which our present literature bears witness to makes it almost a
duty to destroy all letters not written for publication; and yet there
is no denying that life is essentially interesting--every life, any
life, all lives, if their detailed history could be given with truth and
simplicity. For my own part, I confess that the family correspondence,
even of people utterly unknown to me, always seems to me full of
interest. The vivid interest the writers took in themselves makes their
letters better worth reading than many books we read; they are life, as
compared with imitations of it--life, that mystery and beauty surpassing
every other; they are morsels of that profoundest of all secrets, which
baffles alike the man of science, the metaphysician, artist, and poet.
And yet it would be hard if A, B, and C's letters should therefore be
published, especially as, had they contemplated my reading them, they
would doubtless never have written them, or written them quite other
than they did.

To resume my chronicle. My brother John was at this time traveling in
Germany; the close of his career at Cambridge had proved a bitter
disappointment to my father, and had certainly not fulfilled the
expectations of any of his friends or the promise of his own very
considerable abilities. He left the university without taking his
degree, and went to Heidelberg, where he laid the foundation of his
subsequent thorough knowledge of German, and developed the taste for the
especial philological studies to which he eventually devoted himself,
but his eminence in which brought him little emolument and but tardy
fame, and never in the least consoled my father for the failure of all
the brilliant hopes he had formed of the future distinction and fortune
of his eldest son. When a man has made up his mind that his son is to be
Lord Chancellor of England, he finds it hardly an equivalent that he
should be one of the first Anglo-Saxon scholars in Europe.

In my last letter to Miss S---- I have referred to some of my brother's
friends and their possible influence in determining his choice of the
clerical profession in preference to that of the law, which my father
had wished him to adopt, and for which, indeed, he had so far shown his
own inclination as to have himself entered at the Inner Temple.

Among my brother's contemporaries, his school and college mates who
frequented my father's house at this time, were Arthur Hallam, Alfred
Tennyson and his brothers, Frederick Maurice, John Sterling, Richard
Trench, William Donne, the Romillys, the Malkins, Edward Fitzgerald,
James Spedding, William Thackeray, and Richard Monckton Milnes.

These names were those of "promising young men," our friends and
companions, whose various remarkable abilities we learned to estimate
through my brother's enthusiastic appreciation of them. How bright has
been, in many instances, the full performance of that early promise,
England has gratefully acknowledged; they have been among the jewels of
their time, and some of their names will be famous and blessed for
generations to come. It is not for me to praise those whom all
English-speaking folk delight to honor; but in thinking of that bright
band of very noble young spirits, of my brother's love and admiration
for them, of their affection for him, of our pleasant intercourse in
those far-off early days,--in spite of the faithful, life-long regard
which still subsists between myself and the few survivors of that goodly
company, my heart sinks with a heavy sense of loss, and the world from
which so much light has departed seems dark and dismal enough.


Alfred Tennyson had only just gathered his earliest laurels. My brother
John gave me the first copy of his poems I ever possessed, with a
prophecy of his future fame and excellence written on the fly-leaf of
it. I have never ceased to exult in my possession of that copy of the
first edition of those poems, which became the songs of our every day
and every hour, almost; we delighted in them and knew them by heart, and
read and said them over and over again incessantly; they were our
pictures, our music, and infinite was the scorn and indignation with
which we received the slightest word of adverse criticism upon them. I
remember Mrs. Milman, one evening at my father's house, challenging me
laughingly about my enthusiasm for Tennyson, and asking me if I had read
a certain severely caustic and condemnatory article in the _Quarterly_
upon his poems. "Have you read it?" said she; "it is so amusing! Shall I
send it to you?" "No, thank you," said I; "have you read the poems, may
I ask?" "I cannot say that I have," said she, laughing. "Oh, then," said
I (not laughing), "perhaps it would be better that I should send you

It has always been incomprehensible to me how the author of those poems
ever brought himself to alter them, as he did, in so many instances--all
(as it seemed to me) for the worse rather than the better. I certainly
could hardly love his verses better than he did himself, but the various
changes he made in them have always appeared to me cruel disfigurements
of the original thoughts and expressions, which were to me treasures not
to be touched even by his hand; and his changing lines which I thought
perfect, omitting beautiful stanzas that I loved, and interpolating
others that I hated, and disfiguring and maiming his own exquisite
creations with second thoughts (none of which were best to me), has
caused me to rejoice, while I mourn, over my copy of the first version
of "The May Queen," "OEnone," "The Miller's Daughter," and all the
subsequent _improved_ poems, of which the improvements were to me
desecrations. In justice to Tennyson, I must add that the present
generation of his readers swear by _their_ version of his poems as we
did by ours, for the same reason,--they knew it first.

The early death of Arthur Hallam, and the imperishable monument of love
raised by Tennyson's genius to his memory, have tended to give him a
pre-eminence among the companions of his youth which I do not think his
abilities would have won for him had he lived; though they were
undoubtedly of a high order. There was a gentleness and purity almost
virginal in his voice, manner, and countenance; and the upper part of
his face, his forehead and eyes (perhaps in readiness for his early
translation), wore the angelic radiance that they still must wear in
heaven. Some time or other, at some rare moments of the divine spirit's
supremacy in our souls, we all put on the heavenly face that will be
ours hereafter, and for a brief lightning space our friends behold us as
we shall look when this mortal has put on immortality. On Arthur
Hallam's brow and eyes this heavenly light, so fugitive on other human
faces, rested habitually, as if he was thinking and seeing in heaven.

Of all those very remarkable young men, John Sterling was by far the
most brilliant and striking in his conversation, and the one of whose
future eminence we should all of us have augured most confidently. But
though his life was cut off prematurely, it was sufficiently prolonged
to disprove this estimate of his powers. The extreme vividness of his
look, manner, and speech gave a wonderful impression of latent vitality
and power; perhaps some of this lambent, flashing brightness may have
been but the result of the morbid physical conditions of his existence,
like the flush on his cheek and the fire in his eye; the over stimulated
and excited intellectual activity, the offspring of disease, mistaken by
us for morning instead of sunset splendor, promise of future light and
heat instead of prognostication of approaching darkness and decay. It
certainly has always struck me as singular that Sterling, who in his
life accomplished so little and left so little of the work by which men
are generally pronounced to be gifted with exceptional ability, should
have been the subject of two such interesting biographies as those
written of him by Julius Hare and Carlyle. I think he must have been one
of those persons in whom genius makes itself felt and acknowledged
chiefly through the medium of personal intercourse; a not infrequent
thing, I think, with women, and perhaps men, wanting the full vigor of
normal health. I suppose it is some failure not so much in the power
possessed as in the power of producing it in a less evanescent form than
that of spoken words, and the looks that with such organizations are
more than the words themselves. Sterling's genius was his _Wesen_,
himself, and he could detach no portion of it that retained anything
like the power and beauty one would have expected. After all, the world
has twice been moved (once intellectually and once morally), as never
before or since, by those whose spoken words, gathered up by others, are
all that remain of them. Personal influence is the strongest and the
most subtle of powers, and Sterling impressed all who knew him as a man
of undoubted genius; those who never knew him will perhaps always wonder

My life was rather sad at this time: my brother's failure at college was
a source of disappointment and distress to my parents; and I, who
admired him extremely, and believed in him implicitly, was grieved at
his miscarriage and his absence from England; while the darkening
prospects of the theater threw a gloom over us all. My hitherto frequent
interchange of letters with my dear friend H---- S---- had become
interrupted and almost suspended by the prolonged and dangerous illness
of her brother; and I was thrown almost entirely upon myself, and was
finding my life monotonously dreary, when events occurred that changed
its whole tenor almost suddenly, and determined my future career with
less of deliberation than would probably have satisfied either my
parents or myself under less stringent circumstances.

It was in the autumn of 1829, my father being then absent on a
professional tour in Ireland, that my mother, coming in from walking one
day, threw herself into a chair and burst into tears. She had been
evidently much depressed for some time past, and I was alarmed at her
distress, of which I begged her to tell me the cause. "Oh, it has come
at last," she answered; "our property is to be sold. I have seen that
fine building all covered with placards and bills of sale; the theater
must be closed, and I know not how many hundred poor people will be
turned adrift without employment!" I believed the theater employed
regularly seven hundred persons in all its different departments,
without reckoning the great number of what were called supernumeraries,
who were hired by the night at Christmas, Easter, and on all occasions
of any specially showy spectacle. Seized with a sort of terror, like the
Lady of Shallott, that "the curse had come upon me," I comforted my
mother with expressions of pity and affection, and, as soon as I left
her, wrote a most urgent entreaty to my father that he would allow me to
act for myself, and seek employment as a governess, so as to relieve him
at once at least of the burden of my maintenance. I brought this letter
to my mother, and begged her permission to send it, to which she
consented; but, as I afterward learned, she wrote by the same post to my
father, requesting him not to give a positive answer to my letter until
his return to town. The next day she asked me whether I seriously
thought I had any real talent for the stage. My school-day triumphs in
Racine's "Andromaque" were far enough behind me, and I could only
answer, with as much perplexity as good faith, that I had not the
slightest idea whether I had or not. She begged me to learn some part
and say it to her, that she might form some opinion of my power, and I
chose Shakespeare's Portia, then, as now, my ideal of a perfect
woman--the wise, witty woman, loving with all her soul and submitting
with all her heart to a man whom everybody but herself (who was the best
judge) would have judged her inferior; the laughter-loving,
light-hearted, true-hearted, deep-hearted woman, full of keen
perception, of active efficiency, of wisdom prompted by love, of
tenderest unselfishness, of generous magnanimity; noble, simple, humble,
pure; true, dutiful, religious, and full of fun; delightful above all
others, the woman of women. Having learned it by heart, I recited Portia
to my mother, whose only comment was, "There is hardly passion enough in
this part to test any tragic power. I wish you would study Juliet for
me." Study to me then, as unfortunately long afterward, simply meant to
learn by heart, which I did again, and repeated my lesson to my mother,
who again heard me without any observation whatever. Meantime my father
returned to town and my letter remained unanswered, and I was wondering
in my mind what reply I should receive to my urgent entreaty, when one
morning my mother told me she wished me to recite Juliet to my father;
and so in the evening I stood up before them both, and with
indescribable trepidation repeated my first lesson in tragedy.

They neither of them said anything beyond "Very well,--very nice, my
dear," with many kisses and caresses, from which I escaped to sit down
on the stairs half-way between the drawing-room and my bedroom, and get
rid of the repressed nervous fear I had struggled with while reciting,
in floods of tears. A few days after this my father told me he wished to
take me to the theater with him to try whether my voice was of
sufficient strength to fill the building; so thither I went. That
strange-looking place, the stage, with its racks of pasteboard and
canvas--streets, forests, banqueting-halls, and dungeons--drawn apart on
either side, was empty and silent; not a soul was stirring in the
indistinct recesses of its mysterious depths, which seemed to stretch
indefinitely behind me. In front, the great amphitheater, equally empty
and silent, wrapped in its gray holland covers, would have been
absolutely dark but for a long, sharp, thin shaft of light that darted
here and there from some height and distance far above me, and alighted
in a sudden, vivid spot of brightness on the stage. Set down in the
midst of twilight space, as it were, with only my father's voice coming
to me from where he stood hardly distinguishable in the gloom, in those
poetical utterances of pathetic passion I was seized with the spirit of
the thing; my voice resounded through the great vault above and before
me, and, completely carried away by the inspiration of the wonderful
play, I acted Juliet as I do not believe I ever acted it again, for I
had no visible Romeo, and no audience to thwart my imagination; at
least, I had no consciousness of any, though in truth I had one. In the
back of one of the private boxes, commanding the stage but perfectly
invisible to me, sat an old and warmly attached friend of my father's,
Major D----, a man of the world--of London society,--a passionate lover
of the stage, an amateur actor of no mean merit, one of the members of
the famous Cheltenham dramatic company, a first-rate critic in all
things connected with art and literature, a refined and courtly,
courteous gentleman; the best judge, in many respects, that my father
could have selected, of my capacity for my profession and my chance of
success in it. Not till after the event had justified my kind old
friend's prophecy did I know that he had witnessed that morning's
performance, and joining my father at the end of it had said, "Bring her
out at once; it will be a great success." And so three weeks from that
time I was brought out, and it was a "great success." Three weeks was
not much time for preparation of any sort for such an experiment, but I
had no more, to become acquainted with my fellow actors and actresses,
not one of whom I had ever spoken with or seen--off the stage--before;
to learn all the technical _business_, as it is called, of the stage;
how to carry myself toward the audience, which was not--but was to
be--before me; how to concert my movements with the movements of those I
was acting with, so as not to impede or intercept their efforts, while
giving the greatest effect of which I was capable to my own.

I do not wonder, when I remember this brief apprenticeship to my
profession, that Mr. Macready once said that I did not know the elements
of it. Three weeks of morning rehearsals of the play at the theater, and
evening consultations at home as to colors and forms of costume, what I
should wear, how my hair should be dressed, etc., etc.,--in all which I
remained absolutely passive in the hands of others, taking no part and
not much interest in the matter,--ended in my mother's putting aside all
suggestions of innovation like the adoption of the real picturesque
costume of mediæval Verona (which was, of course, Juliet's proper
dress), and determining in favor of the traditional stage costume for
the part, which was simply a dress of plain white satin with a long
train, with short sleeves and a low body; my hair was dressed in the
fashion in which I usually wore it; a girdle of fine paste brilliants,
and a small comb of the same, which held up my hair, were the only
theatrical parts of the dress, which was as perfectly simple and as
absolutely unlike anything Juliet ever wore as possible.

Poor Mrs. Jameson made infinite protests against this decision of my
mother's, her fine artistic taste and sense of fitness being intolerably
shocked by the violation of every propriety in a Juliet attired in a
modern white satin ball dress amid scenery representing the streets and
palaces of Verona in the fourteenth century, and all the other
characters dressed with some reference to the supposed place and period
of the tragedy. Visions too, no doubt, of sundry portraits of Raphael,
Titian, Giorgione, Bronzino,--beautiful alike in color and
fashion,--vexed her with suggestions, with which she plied my mother;
who, however, determined as I have said, thinking the body more than
raiment, and arguing that the unincumbered use of the person, and the
natural grace of young arms, neck, and head, and unimpeded movement of
the limbs (all which she thought more compatible with the simple white
satin dress than the picturesque mediæval costume) were points of
paramount importance. My mother, though undoubtedly very anxious that I
should look well, was of course far more desirous that I should act
well, and judged that whatever rendered my dress most entirely
subservient to my acting, and least an object of preoccupation and
strange embarrassment to myself, was, under the circumstances of my
total inexperience and brief period of preparation, the thing to be
chosen, and I am sure that in the main she judged wisely. The mere
appendage of a train--three yards of white satin--following me wherever
I went, was to me a new, and would have been a difficult experience to
most girls. As it was, I never knew, after the first scene of the play,
what became of my train, and was greatly amused when Lady Dacre told me,
the next morning, that as soon as my troubles began I had snatched it up
and carried it on my arm, which I did quite unconsciously, because I
found something in the way of _Juliet's feet_.

I have often admired the consummate good sense with which, confronting a
whole array of authorities, historical, artistical, æsthetical, my
mother stoutly maintained in their despite that nothing was to be
adopted on the stage that was in itself ugly, ungraceful, or even
curiously antiquated and singular, however correct it might be with
reference to the particular period, or even to authoritative portraits
of individual characters of the play. The passions, sentiments, actions,
and sufferings of human beings, she argued, were the main concern of a
fine drama, not the clothes they wore. I think she even preferred an
unobtrusive indifference to a pedantic accuracy, which, she said, few
people appreciated, and which, if anything, rather took the attention
from the acting than added to its effect, when it was really fine.

She always said, when pictures and engravings were consulted, "Remember,
this presents but one view of the person, and does not change its
position: how will this dress look when it walks, runs, rushes, kneels,
sits down, falls, and turns its back?" I think an edge was added to my
mother's keen, rational, and highly artistic sense of this matter of
costume because it was the special hobby of her "favorite aversion," Mr.
E----, who had studied with great zeal and industry antiquarian
questions connected with the subject of stage representations, and was
perpetually suggesting to my father improvements on the old ignorant
careless system which prevailed under former managements.

It is very true that, as she said, Garrick acted Macbeth in a full court
suit of scarlet,--knee-breeches, powdered wig, pigtail, and all; and
Mrs. Siddons acted the Grecian Daughter in piles of powdered curls, with
a forest of feathers on the top of them, high-heeled shoes, and a
portentous hoop; and both made the audience believe that they looked
just as they should do. But for all that, actors and actresses who were
neither Garrick nor Mrs. Siddons were not less like the parts they
represented by being at least dressed as they should be; and the fine
accuracy of the Shakespearean revivals of Mr. Macready and Charles Kean
was in itself a great enjoyment; nobody was ever told to _omit_ the
tithing of mint and cummin, though other matters were more important;
and Kean's Othello would have been the grand performance it was, even
with the advantage of Mr. Fechter's clever and picturesque "getting up"
of the play, as a frame to it; as Mademoiselle Rachel's wonderful
fainting exclamation of "Oh, mon cher Curiace!" lost none of its
poignant pathos, though she knew how every fold of her drapery fell and
rested on the chair on which she sank in apparent unconsciousness.
Criticising a portrait of herself in that scene, she said to the
painter, "Ma robe ne fait pas ce pli la; elle fait, au contraire,
celui-ci." The artist, inclined to defend his picture, asked her how,
while she was lying with her eyes shut and feigning utter insensibility,
she could possibly tell anything about the plaits of her dress.
"Allez-y-voir," replied Rachel; and the next time she played Camille,
the artist was able to convince himself by more careful observation that
she was right, and that there was probably no moment of the piece at
which this consummate artist was not aware of the effect produced by
every line and fold of the exquisite costume, of which she had studied
and prepared every detail as carefully as the wonderful movements of her
graceful limbs, the intonations of her awful voice, and the changing
expressions of her terribly beautiful countenance.

In later years, after I became the directress of my own stage costumes,
I adopted one for Juliet, made after a beautiful design of my friend,
Mrs. Jameson, which combined my mother's _sine qua non_ of simplicity
with a form and fashion in keeping with the supposed period of the play.

My frame of mind under the preparations that were going forward for my
_début_ appears to me now curious enough. Though I had found out that I
could act, and had acted with a sort of frenzy of passion and entire
self-forgetfulness the first time I ever uttered the wonderful
conception I had undertaken to represent, my going on the stage was
absolutely an act of duty and conformity to the will of my parents,
strengthened by my own conviction that I was bound to help them by every
means in my power. The theatrical profession was, however, utterly
distasteful to me, though _acting_ itself, that is to say, dramatic
personation, was not; and every detail of my future vocation, from the
preparations behind the scenes to the representations before the
curtain, was more or less repugnant to me. Nor did custom ever render
this aversion less; and liking my work so little, and being so devoid of
enthusiasm, respect, or love for it, it is wonderful to me that I ever
achieved _any_ success in it at all. The dramatic element inherent in my
organization must have been very powerful, to have enabled me without
either study of or love for my profession to do anything worth anything
in it.

But this is the reason why, with an unusual gift and many unusual
advantages for it, I did really so little; why my performances were
always uneven in themselves and perfectly unequal with each other, never
complete as a whole, however striking in occasional parts, and never at
the same level two nights together; depending for their effect upon the
state of my nerves and spirits, instead of being the result of
deliberate thought and consideration,--study, in short, carefully and
conscientiously applied to my work; the permanent element which
preserves the artist, however inevitably he must feel the influence of
moods of mind and body, from ever being at their mercy.

I brought but one half the necessary material to the exercise of my
profession, that which nature gave me; and never added the cultivation
and labor requisite to produce any fine performance in the right sense
of the word; and, coming of a family of _real_ artists, have never felt
that I deserved that honorable name.

A letter written at this time to Miss S---- shows how comparatively
small a part my approaching ordeal engrossed my thoughts.

                                     JAMES STREET, September 24, 1829,
     MY DEAREST H----,

     Your letter grieved me very much, but it did not surprise me; of
     your brother's serious illness I had heard from my cousin, Horace
     Twiss. But is there indeed cause for the terrible anxiety you
     express? I know how impossible it is to argue with the
     apprehensions of affection, and should have forborne this letter
     altogether, but that I felt very deeply your kindness in writing to
     me at such a time, and that I would fain assure you of my
     heart-felt sympathy, however unavailing it may be. To you who have
     a steadfast anchor for your hopes, I ought not, perhaps, to say,
     "Do not despond." Yet, dearest H----, do not despond: is there
     _any_ occasion when despair is justified? I know how lightly all
     soothing counsel must be held, in a case of such sorrow as yours,
     but among fellow-Christians such words still have some
     significance; for the most unworthy of that holy profession may
     point unfalteringly to the only consolations adequate to the need
     of those far above them in every endowment of mind and heart and
     religious attainment. Dear H----, I hardly know how to tell you how
     much I feel for you, how sincerely I hope your fears may prove
     groundless, and how earnestly I pray that, should they prove
     prophetic, you may be enabled to bear the affliction, to meet which
     I doubt not strength will be given you. This is all I dare say;
     those who love you best will hardly venture to say more. To put
     away entirely the idea of an evil which one may be called upon at
     any moment to encounter would hardly be wise, even if it were
     possible, in this world where every happiness one enjoys is but a
     loan, the repayment of which may be exacted at the very moment,
     perhaps, when we are forgetting in its possession the precarious
     tenure by which alone it is ours.

     My dear father and mother have both been very unwell; the former is
     a little recovered, but the latter is still in a sad state of
     bodily suffering and mental anxiety. Our two boys are well and
     happy, and I am very well and not otherwise than happy. I regret to
     say Mrs. Henry Siddons will leave London in a very short time; this
     is a great loss to me. I owe more to her than I can ever repay; for
     though abundant pains had been bestowed upon me previously to my
     going to her, it was she who caused to spring whatever scattered
     seeds of good were in me, which almost seemed as if they had been
     cast into the soil in vain.

     My dear H----, I am going on the stage: the nearest period talked
     of for my _début_ is the first of October, at the opening of the
     theater; the furthest, November; but I almost think I should prefer
     the nearest, for it is a very serious trial to look forward to, and
     I wish it were over. Juliet is to be my opening part, but not to my
     father's Romeo; there would be many objections to that; he will do
     Mercutio for me. I do not enter more fully upon this, because I
     know how few things can be of interest to you in your present state
     of feeling, but I wished you not to find the first notice of my
     entrance on the stage of life in a newspaper. God bless you,
     dearest H----, and grant you better hopes.

                        Your most affectionate

My father not acting Romeo with me deprived me of the most poetical and
graceful stage lover of his day; but the public, who had long been
familiar with his rendering of the part of Romeo, gained as much as I
lost, by his taking that of Mercutio, which has never since been so
admirably represented, and I dare affirm will never be given more
perfectly. The graceful ease, and airy sparkling brilliancy of his
delivery of the witty fancies of that merry gentleman, the gallant
defiance of his bearing toward the enemies of his house, and his
heroically pathetic and humorous death-scene, were beyond description
charming. He was one of the best Romeos, and incomparably _the_ best
Mercutio, that ever trod the English stage.

My father was Miss O'Neill's Romeo throughout her whole theatrical
career, during which no other Juliet was tolerated by the English
public. This amiable and excellent woman was always an attached friend
of our family, and one day, when she was about to take leave of me, at
the end of a morning visit, I begged her to let my father have the
pleasure of seeing her, and ran to his study to tell him whom I had with
me. He followed me hastily to the drawing-room, and stopping at the
door, extended his arms towards her, exclaiming, "Ah, Juliet!" Lady
Becher ran to him and embraced him with a pretty, affectionate grace,
and the scene was pathetical as well as comical, for they were both
white-haired, she being considerably upward of sixty and he of seventy
years old; but she still retained the slender elegance of her exquisite
figure, and he some traces of his pre-eminent personal beauty.

My mother had a great admiration and personal regard for Lady Becher,
and told me an anecdote of her early life which transmitted those
feelings of hers to me. Lord F----, eldest son of the Earl of E----, a
personally and mentally attractive young man, fell desperately in love
with Miss O'Neill, who was (what the popular theatrical heroine of the
day always is) the realization of their ideal to the youth, male and
female, of her time, the stage star of her contemporaries. Lord F----'s
family had nothing to say against the character, conduct, or personal
endowments of the beautiful, actress who had enchanted, to such serious
purpose as marriage, the heir of their house; but much, reasonably and
rightly enough, against marriages disproportionate to such a degree as
that, and the objectionable nature of the young woman's peculiar
circumstances and public calling. Both Miss O'Neill, however, and Lord
F---- were enough in earnest in their mutual regard to accept the test
of a year's separation and suspension of all intercourse. She remained
to utter herself in Juliet to the English public, and her lover went and
travelled abroad, both believing in themselves and each other. No
letters or communication passed between them; but toward the end of
their year of probation vague rumors came flying to England of the life
of dissipation led by the young man, and of the unworthy companions with
whom he entertained the most intimate relations. After this came more
explicit tales of positive entanglement with one particular person, and
reports of an entire devotion to one object quite incompatible with the
constancy professed and promised to his English mistress.

Probably aware that every effort would, till the last, be made by Lord
F----'s family to detach them from each other, bound by her promise to
hold no intercourse with him, but determined to take the verdict of her
fate from no one but himself, Miss O'Neill obtained a brief leave of
absence from her theatrical duties, went with her brother and sister to
Calais, whence she travelled alone to Paris (poor, fair Juliet! when I
think of her, not as I ever knew her, but such as I know she must then
have been, no more pathetic image presents itself to my mind), and took
effectual measures to ascertain beyond all shadow of doubt the bitter
truth of the evil reports of her fickle lover's mode of life. His
devotion to one lady, the more respectable form of infidelity which must
inevitably have canceled their contract of love, was not indeed true,
and probably the story had been fabricated because the mere general
accusation of profligacy might easily have been turned into an appeal to
her mercy, as the result of reckless despondency and of his utter
separation from her; and a woman in her circumstances might not have
been hard to find who would have persuaded herself that she might
overlook "all that," reclaim her lover, and be an Earl's wife. Miss
O'Neill rejoined her family at Calais, wrote to Lord F----'s father, the
Earl of E----, her final and irrevocable rejection of his son's suit,
fell ill of love and sorrow, and lay for some space between life and
death for the sake of her unworthy lover; rallied bravely, recovered,
resumed her work,--her sway over thousands of human hearts,--and, after
lapse of healing and forgiving and forgetting time, married Sir William
Wrixon Becher.

The peculiar excellence of her acting lay in the expression of pathos,
sorrow, anguish,--the sentimental and suffering element of tragedy. She
was expressly devised for a representative victim; she had, too, a rare
endowment for her special range of characters, in an easily excited,
superficial sensibility, which caused her to cry, as she once said to
me, "buckets full," and enabled her to exercise the (to most men)
irresistible influence of a beautiful woman in tears. The power (or
weakness) of abundant weeping without disfigurement is an attribute of
deficient rather than excessive feeling. In such persons the tears are
poured from their crystal cups without muscular distortion of the rest
of the face. In proportion to the violence or depth of emotion, and the
acute or profound sensibility of the temperament, is the disturbance of
the countenance. In sensitive organizations, the muscles round the
nostrils and lips quiver and are distorted, the throat and temples
swell, and a grimace, which but for its miserable significance would be
grotesque, convulses the whole face. Men's tears always seem to me as if
they were pumped up from their heels, and strained through every drop of
blood in their veins; women's, to start as under a knife stroke, direct
with a gush from their heart, abundant and beneficent; but again, women
of the temperament I have alluded to above have fountains of lovely
tears behind their lovely eyes, and their weeping, which is
indescribably beautiful, is comparatively painless, and yet pathetic
enough to challenge tender compassion. I have twice seen such tears
shed, and never forgotten them: once from heaven-blue eyes, and the face
looked like a flower with pearly dewdrops sliding over it; and again,
once from magnificent, dark, uplifted orbs, from which the falling tears
looked like diamond rain-drops by moonlight.

Miss O'Neill was a supremely touching, but neither a powerful nor a
passionate actress. Personally, she was the very beau ideal of feminine
weakness in its most attractive form--delicacy. She was tall, slender,
elegantly formed, and extremely graceful; her features were regular and
finely chiseled, and her hair beautiful; her eyes were too light, and
her eyebrows and eyelashes too pale for expression; her voice wanted
variety and brilliancy for comic intonation, but was deep and sonorous,
and of a fine pathetic and tragic quality.

It was not an easy matter to find a Romeo for me, and in the emergency
my father and mother even thought of my brother Henry's trying the part.
He was in the first bloom of youth, and really might be called
beautiful; and certainly, a few years later, might have been the very
ideal of a Romeo. But he looked too young for the part, as indeed he
was, being three years my junior. The overwhelming objection, however,
was his own insuperable dislike to the idea of acting, and his ludicrous
incapacity for assuming the faintest appearance of any sentiment.
However, he learned the words, and never shall I forget the explosion of
laughter which shook my father, my mother, and myself, when, after
hearing him recite the balcony scene with the most indescribable mixture
of shy terror and nervous convulsions of suppressed giggling, my father
threw down the book, and Henry gave vent to his feelings by clapping his
elbows against his sides and bursting into a series of triumphant
cock-crows--an expression of mental relief so ludicrously in contrast
with his sweet, sentimental face, and the part he had just been
pretending to assume, that I thought we never should have recovered from
the fits it sent us into. We were literally all crying with laughter,
and a more farcical scene cannot be imagined. This, of course, ended all
idea of that young chanticleer being my Romeo; and yet the young rascal
was, or fancied he was, over head and ears in love at this very time,
and an exquisite sketch Hayter had just made of him might with the
utmost propriety have been sent to the exhibition with no other title
than "Portrait of a Lover."

The part of Romeo was given to Mr. Abbot, an old-established favorite
with the public, a very amiable and worthy man, old enough to have been
my father, whose performance, not certainly of the highest order, was
nevertheless not below inoffensive mediocrity. But the public, who were
bent upon doing more than justice to me, were less than just to him; and
the abuse showered upon his Romeo, especially by my more enthusiastic
admirers of the male sex, might, I should think, have embittered his
stage relations with me to the point of making me an object of
detestation to him, all through our theatrical lives. A tragicomic
incident was related to me by one of the parties concerned in it, which
certainly proved that poor Mr. Abbot was quite aware of the little favor
his Romeo found with my particular friends. One of them, the son of our
kind and valued friends the G----s, an excellent, good-hearted, but not
very wise young fellow, invariably occupied a certain favorite and
favorable position in the midst of the third row of the pit every night
that I acted. There were no stalls or reserved seats then, though not
long after I came out the majority of the seats in the orchestra were
let to spectators, and generally occupied by a set of young gentlemen
whom Sir Thomas Lawrence always designated as my "body guard." This,
however, had not yet been instituted, and my friend G---- had often to
wait long hours, and even to fight for the privilege of his peculiar
seat, where he rendered himself, I am sorry to say, not a little
ludicrous, and not seldom rather obnoxious to everybody in his vicinity,
by the vehement demonstrations of his enthusiasm--his frantic cries of
"bravo," his furious applause, and his irrepressible exclamations of
ecstasy and agony during the whole play. He became as familiar to the
public as the stage lamps themselves, and some of his immediate
neighbors complained rather bitterly of the incessant din and clatter of
his approbation, and the bruises, thumps, contusions, and constant fears
which his lively sentiments inflicted upon them. This _fanatico_ of
mine, walking home from the theater one night with two other like-minded
individuals, indulged himself in obstreperous abuse of poor Mr. Abbot,
in which he was heartily joined by his companions. Toward Cavendish
Square the broad, quiet streets rang with the uproarious mirth with
which they recapitulated his "damnable faces," "strange postures,"
uncouth gestures, and ungainly deportment; imitation followed imitation
of the poor actor's peculiar declamation, and the night became noisy
with the shouts of mingled derision and execration of his critics; when
suddenly, as they came to a gas-light at the corner of a crossing, a
solitary figure which had been preceding them, without possibility of
escape, down the long avenue of Harley Street, where G---- lived, turned
abruptly round, and confronted them with Mr. Abbot's unimpressive
countenance. "Gentlemen," he said, "no one can be more aware than myself
of the defects of my performance of Romeo, no one more conscious of its
entire unworthiness of Miss Kemble's Juliet; but all I can say is, that
I do not act the part by my own choice, and shall be delighted to resign
it to either of you who may feel more capable than I am of doing it
justice." The young gentlemen, though admiring me "not wisely, but too
well," were good-hearted fellows, and were struck with the manly and
moderate tone of Mr. Abbot's rebuke, and shocked at having
unintentionally wounded the feelings of a person who (except as Romeo),
was every way deserving of their respect. Of course they could not
swallow all their foolish words, and Abbot bowed and was gone before
they could stutter an apology. I have no doubt that his next appearance
as Romeo was hailed with some very cordial, remorseful applause,
addressed to him personally as some relief to their feelings, by my
indiscreet partisans. My friend G----, not very long after this
theatrical passion of his, became what is sometimes called "religious,"
and had thoughts of going into the Church, and giving up the play-house.
He confided to my mother, who was his mother's intimate friend, and of
whom he was very fond, his conscientious scruples, which she in no wise
combated; though she probably thought more moderation in going to the
theater, and a little more self-control when there, might not, in any
event, be undesirable changes in his practice, whether his taking holy
orders cut him off entirely from what was then his principal pleasure,
or not. One night, when the venerable Prebend of St. Paul's, her old
friend, Dr. Hughes, was in her box with her, witnessing my performance
(which my mother never failed to attend), she pointed out G----,
_scrimmaging_ about, as usual, in his wonted place in the pit, and said,
"There is a poor lad who is terribly disturbed in his own mind about the
very thing he is doing at this moment. He is thinking of going into the
Church, and more than half believes that he ought to give up coming to
the play." "That depends, I should say," replied dear old Dr. Hughes,
"upon his own conviction in the matter, and nothing else; meantime, pray
give him my compliments, and tell him _I_ have enjoyed the performance
to-night extremely."

Mr. Abbot was in truth not a bad actor, though a perfectly uninteresting
one in tragedy; he had a good figure, face, and voice, the carriage and
appearance of a well-bred person, and, in what is called genteel comedy,
precisely the air and manner which it is most difficult to assume, that
of a gentleman. He had been in the army, and had left it for the stage,
where his performances were always respectable, though seldom anything
more. Wanting passion and expression in tragedy, he naturally resorted
to vehemence to supply their place, and was exaggerated and violent from
the absence of all dramatic feeling and imagination. Moreover, in
moments of powerful emotion he was apt to become unsteady on his legs,
and always filled me with terror lest in some of his headlong runs and
rushes about the stage he should lose his balance and fall; as indeed he
once did, to my unspeakable distress, in the play of "The Grecian
Daughter," in which he enacted my husband, Phocion, and flying to
embrace me, after a period of painful and eventful separation, he
completely overbalanced himself, and swinging round with me in his arms,
we both came to the ground together. "Oh, Mr. Abbot!" was all I could
ejaculate; he, poor man, literally pale green with dismay, picked me up
in profound silence, and the audience kindly covered our confusion, and
comforted us by vehement applause, not, indeed, unmixed with laughter.
But my friends and admirers were none the more his after that exploit;
and I remained in mortal dread of his stage embraces for ever after,
steadying myself carefully on my feet, and bracing my whole figure to
"stand fast," whenever he made the smallest affectionate approach toward
me. It is not often that such a piece of awkwardness as this is
perpetrated on the stage, but dramatic heroines are nevertheless liable
to sundry disagreeable difficulties of a very unromantic nature. If a
gentleman in a ball-room places his hand round a lady's waist to waltz
with her, she can, without any shock to the "situation," beg him to
release the end spray of her flowery garland, or the floating ribbons of
her head-dress, which he may have imprisoned; but in the middle of a
scene of tragedy grief or horror, of the unreality of which, by dint of
the effort of your imagination, you are no longer conscious, to be
obliged to say, in your distraction, to your distracted partner in woe,
"Please lift your arm from my waist, you are pulling my head down
backwards," is a distraction, too, of its kind.

The only occasion on which I ever acted Juliet to a Romeo who looked the
part was one when Miss Ellen Tree sustained it. The acting of Romeo, or
any other man's part by a woman (in spite of Mrs. Siddons's Hamlet), is,
in my judgment, contrary to every artistic and perhaps natural
propriety, but I cannot deny that the stature "more than common tall,"
and the beautiful face, of which the fine features were too marked in
their classical regularity to look feeble or even effeminate, of my fair
female lover made her physically an appropriate representative of Romeo.
Miss Ellen Tree looked beautiful and not unmanly in the part; she was
broad-shouldered as well as tall, and her long limbs had the fine
proportions of the huntress Diana; altogether, she made a very "pretty
fellow," as the saying was formerly, as all who saw her in her graceful
performance of Talfourd's "Ion" will testify; but assumption of that
character, which in its ideal classical purity is almost without sex,
was less open to objection than that of the fighting young Veronese
noble of the fourteenth century. She fenced very well, however, and
acquitted herself quite manfully in her duel with Tybalt; the only hitch
in the usual "business" of the part was between herself and me, and I do
not imagine the public, for one night, were much aggrieved by the
omission of the usual clap-trap performance (part of Garrick's
interpolation, which indeed belongs to the original story, but which
Shakespeare's true poet's sense had discarded) of Romeo's plucking
Juliet up from her bier and rushing with her, still stiff and motionless
in her death-trance, down to the foot-lights. This feat Miss Tree
insisted upon attempting with me, and I as stoutly resisted all her
entreaties to let her do so. I was a very slender-looking girl, but very
heavy for all that. (A friend of mine, on my first voyage to America,
lifting me from a small height, set me down upon the deck, exclaiming,
"Oh, you solid little lady!" and my cousin, John Mason, the first time
he acted Romeo with me, though a very powerful, muscular young man,
whispered to me as he carried my corpse down the stage with a fine
semblance of frenzy, "Jove, Fanny, you are a lift!") Finding that all
argument and remonstrance was unavailing, and that Miss Tree, though by
no means other than a good friend and fellow-worker of mine, was bent
upon performing this gymnastic feat, I said at last, "If you attempt to
lift or carry me down the stage, I will kick and scream till you set me
down," which ended the controversy. I do not know whether she believed
me, but she did not venture upon the experiment.

I am reminded by this recollection of my pleasant professional
fellowship with Miss Ellen Tree of a curious instance of the
unprincipled, flagrant recklessness with which scandalous gossip is
received and circulated in what calls itself the best English society.

In Mr. Charles Greville's "Memoirs," he makes a statement that Miss Tree
was never engaged at Covent Garden. The play-bills and the newspapers of
the day abundantly contradicted this assertion (at the time he entered
it in his diary), and, of course, the discreditable motive assigned for
the _fact_.

I cannot help thinking that, had Mr. Greville lived, much of the
voluminous record he kept of persons and events would have been withheld
from publication. He told me, not long before his death, that he had no
recollection whatever of the contents of the earlier volumes of his MS.
journal which he had lent me to read; and it is infinitely to be
regretted, if he did not look over them before they were published, that
the discretion he exercised (or delegated) in the omission of certain
passages was not allowed to prevail to the exclusion of others. Such
partial omissions would not indeed alter the whole tone and character of
the book, but might have mitigated the shock of painful surprise with
which it was received by the society he described, and by no one more
than some of those who had been on terms of the friendliest intimacy
with him and who had repeatedly heard him assert that his journal would
never be published in the lifetime of any one mentioned in it.

I consider that I was quite justified in using even this naughty child's
threat to prevent Miss Tree from doing what might very well have ended
in some dangerous and ludicrous accident; nor did I feel at all guilty
toward her of the species of malice prepense which Malibran exhibited
toward Sontag, when they sang in the opera of "Romeo and Juliet," on the
first occasion of their appearing together during their brilliant public
career in England. Malibran's mischievousness partook of the force and
versatility of her extraordinary genius, and having tormented poor
Mademoiselle Sontag with every inconceivable freak and caprice during
the whole rehearsal of the opera, at length, when requested by her to
say in what part of the stage she intended to fall in the last scene,
she, Malibran, replied that she "really didn't know," that she "really
couldn't tell;" sometimes she "died in one place, sometimes in another,
just as it happened, or the humor took her at the moment." As Sontag was
bound to expire in loving proximity to her, and was, I take it, much
less liable to spontaneous inspiration than her fiery rival, this was by
no means satisfactory. She had nothing like the original genius of the
other woman, but was nevertheless a more perfect artist. Wanting weight
and power and passion for such parts as Norma, Medea, Semiramide, etc.,
she was perfect in the tenderer and more pathetic parts of Amina, Lucia
di Lammermoor, Linda di Chamouni; exquisite in the Rosina and Carolina
of the "Barbiere" and "Matrimonio Segreto;" and, in my opinion, quite
unrivaled in her Countess, in the "Nozze," and, indeed, in all rendering
of Mozart's music, to whose peculiar and pre-eminent genius hers seemed
to me in some degree allied, and of whose works she was the only
interpreter I ever heard, gifted alike with the profound German
understanding of music and the enchanting Italian power of rendering it.
Her mode of uttering sound, of putting forth her voice (the test which
all but Italians, or most carefully Italian-trained singers, fail in),
was as purely unteutonic as possible. She was one of the most perfect
singers I ever heard, and suggests to my memory the quaint praise of the
gypsy vocal performance in the ballad of "Johnny Faa"--

    "They sang so sweet,
     So very _complete_,"

She was the first Rosina I ever heard who introduced into the scene of
the music-lesson "Rhodes Air," with the famous violin variations, which
she performed by way of a _vocalise_, to the utter amazement of her
noble music-master, I should think, as well as her audience.
Mademoiselle Nilsson is the only prima donna since her day who has at
all reminded me of Sontag, who was lovely to look at, delightful to
listen to, good, amiable, and charming, and, compared with Malibran,
like the evening star to a comet.

Defeated by Malibran's viciousness in rehearsing her death-scene, she
resigned herself to the impromptu imposed upon her, and prepared to
follow her Romeo, wherever _she_ might choose to die; but when the
evening came, Malibran contrived to die close to the foot-lights and in
front of the curtain; Sontag of necessity followed, and fell beside her
there; the drop came down, and there lay the two fair corpses in full
view of the audience, of course unable to rise or move, till a couple of
stage footmen, in red plush breeches, ran in to the rescue, took the
dead Capulet and Montague each by the shoulders, and dragged them off at
the side scenes; the Spanish woman in the heroism of her maliciousness
submitting to this ignominy for the pleasure of subjecting her gentle
German rival to it.

Madame Malibran was always an object of the greatest interest to me, not
only on account of her extraordinary genius, and great and various
gifts, but because of the many details I heard of her youth from M. de
la Forest, the French consul in New York, who knew her as Marie Garcia,
a wild and wayward but most wonderful girl, under her father's
tyrannical and harsh rule during the time they spent in the United
States. He said that there was not a piece of furniture in their
apartment that had not been thrown by the father at the daughter's head,
in the course of the moral and artistic training he bestowed upon her:
it is perhaps wonderful that success in either direction should have
been the result of such a system; but, upon the whole, the singer seems
to have profited more than the woman from it, as might have been
expected. Garcia was an incomparable artist, actor, and singer (no such
Don Giovanni has ever been heard or seen since), and bestowed upon all
his children the finest musical education that ever made great natural
gifts available to the utmost to their possessors. I suppose it was from
him, too, that Marie derived with her Spanish blood the vehement,
uncontrollable nature of which M. de la Forest told me he had witnessed
such extraordinary exhibitions in her girlhood. He said she would fly
into passions of rage, in which she would set her teeth in the sleeve of
her silk gown, and tear and rend great pieces out of the thick texture
as if it were muslin; a test of the strength of those beautiful teeth,
as well as of the fury of her passion. She then would fall rigid on the
floor, without motion, breath, pulse, or color, though not fainting, in
a sort of catalepsy of rage.

Her marriage with the old French merchant Malibran was speedily followed
by their separation; he went to France, leaving his divine devil of a
wife in New York, and during his absence she used to write letters to
him, which she frequently showed to M. de la Forest, who was her
intimate friend and adviser, and took a paternal interest in all her
affairs. These epistles often expressed so much cordial kindness and
warmth of feeling toward her husband, that M. de la Forest, who knew her
separation from him to have been entirely her own act and choice, and
any decent agreement and harmonious life between them absolutely
impossible, was completely puzzled by such professions toward a man with
whom she was determined never to live, and occasionally said to her,
"What do you mean? Do you wish your husband to come here to you? or do
you contemplate going to him? In short, what is your intention in
writing with all this affection to a man from whom you have separated
yourself?" Upon this view of her epistle, which did not appear to have
struck her, M. de la Forest said, she would (instead of rewriting it)
tack on to it, with the most ludicrous inconsistency, a sort of
revocatory codicil, in the shape of a postscript, expressing her decided
desire that her husband should remain where he was, and her own explicit
determination never again to enter into any more intimate relations with
him than were compatible with a correspondence from opposite sides of
the Atlantic, whatever personal regard or affection for him her letter
might appear to express to the contrary notwithstanding.

To my great regret I only saw her act once, though I heard her sing at
concerts and in private repeatedly. My only personal encounter with her
took place in a curious fashion. My father and myself were acting at
Manchester, and had just finished performing the parts of Mr. and Mrs.
Beverley, one night, in "The Gamester." On our return from the theater,
as I was slowly and in considerable exhaustion following my father up
the hotel stairs, as we reached the landing by our sitting-room, a door
immediately opposite to it flew open, and a lady dressed like
Tilburina's Confidante, all in white muslin, rushed out of it, and fell
upon my father's breast, sobbing out hysterically, "Oh, Mr. Kembel, my
deare, deare Mr. Kembel!" This was Madame Malibran, under the effect of
my father's performance of the Gamester, which she had just witnessed.
"Come, come," quoth my father (who was old enough to have been hers, and
knew her very well), patting her consolingly on the back, "Come now, my
dear Madame Malibran, compose yourself; don't now, Marie, don't, my dear
child!" all which was taking place on the public staircase, while I
looked on in wide-eyed amazement behind. Madame Malibran, having
suffered herself to be led into our room, gradually composed herself,
ate her supper with us, expressed herself with much kind enthusiasm
about my performance, and gave me a word of advice as to not losing any
of my height (of which I had none to spare) by stooping, saying very
amiably that, being at a disadvantage as to her own stature, she had
never wasted a quarter of an inch of it. This little reflection upon her
own proportions must have been meant as a panacea to my vanity for her
criticism of my deportment. My person was indeed of the shortest; but
she had the figure of a nymph, and was rather above than below middle
height. There was in other respects some likeness between us; she was
certainly not really handsome, but her eyes were magnificent, and her
whole countenance was very striking.

The first time I ever saw her sister, Madame Viardot, she was sitting
with mine, who introduced me to her; Pauline Viardot continued talking,
now and then, however, stopping to look fixedly at me, and at last
exclaimed, "Mais comme elle ressemble à ma Marie!" and one evening at a
private concert in London, having arrived late, I remained standing by
the folding-doors of the drawing-room, while Lablache finished a song
which he had begun before I came in, at the end of which he came up to
me and said, "You cannot think how you frightened me, when first I saw
you standing in that doorway; you looked so absolutely like Malibran,
que je ne savais en vérité pas ce que c'était." Malibran's appearance
was a memorable event in the whole musical world of Europe, throughout
which her progress from capital to capital was one uninterrupted
triumph; the enthusiasm, as is general in such cases, growing with its
further and wider spread, so that at Venice she was allowed, in spite of
old-established law and custom, to go about in a gold and crimson
gondola, as fine as the Bucentaur itself, instead of the floating
hearses that haunt the sea-paved thoroughfares, and that did not please
her gay and magnificent taste.

Her _début_ in England was an absolute conquest of the nation; and when
it was shocked by the news of her untimely death, hundreds of those
unsympathetic, unæsthetic, unenthusiastic English people put mourning on
for the wonderfully gifted young woman, snatched away in the midst of
her brilliant career. Madame Malibran composed some charming songs, but
her great reputation derives little of its luster from them,--that great
reputation already a mere tradition.

At a challenge I would not decline, I ventured upon the following harsh
and ungraceful but literal translation of some of the stanzas from
Alfred de Musset's fine lament for Malibran. My poetical competitor
produced an admirable version of them, and has achieved translations of
other of his verses, as perfect as translations can be; a literary feat
of extraordinary difficulty, with the works of so essentially national a
writer, a genius so peculiarly French, as De Musset.

    "Oh, Maria Felicia! the painter and bard
     Behind them, in dying, leave undying heirs.
     The night of oblivion their memory spares,
     And their great eager souls, other action debarred,
     Against death, against time, having valiantly warred,
     Though struck down in the strife, claim its trophies as theirs.

    "In the iron engraved, one his thought leaves enshrined;
     With a golden-sweet cadence another's entwined
     Makes for ever all those who shall hear it his friends.
     Though he died, on the canvas lives Raphael's mind;
     And from death's darkest doom till this world of ours ends,
     The mother-clasped infant his glory defends.

    "As the lamp guards the flame, so the bare, marble halls
     Of the Parthenon keep, in their desolate space,
     The memory of Phidias enshrined in their walls.
     And Praxiteles' child, the young Venus, yet calls
     From the altar, where, smiling, she still holds her place,
     The centuries conquered to worship her grace.

    "Thus from age after age, while new life they receive,
     To rest at God's feet the old glories are gone;
     And the accents of genius their echoes still weave
     With the great human voice, till their speech is but one.
     And of thee, dead but yesterday, all thy fame leaves
     But a cross in the dim chapel's darkness, alone.

    "A cross and oblivion, silence, and death!
     Hark! the wind's softest sob; hark! the ocean's deep breath!
     Hark! the fisher boy singing his way o'er the plains!
     Of thy glory, thy hope, thy young beauty's bright wreath,
     Not a trace, not a sigh, not an echo remains."

Those Garcia sisters were among the most remarkable people of their day,
not only for their peculiar high artistic gifts, their admirable musical
and dramatic powers, but for the vivid originality of their genius and
great general cultivation. Malibran danced almost as well as she sang,
and once took a principal part in a ballet. She drew and painted well,
as did her sister Pauline Viardot, whose spirited caricatures of her
friends, and herself were admirable specimens both of likenesses and of
humorous talent in delineating them. Both sisters conversed brilliantly,
speaking fluently four languages, and executed the music of different
nations and composers with a perception of the peculiar character of
each that was extraordinary. They were mistresses of all the different
schools of religious, dramatic, and national compositions, and Gluck,
Jomelli, Pergolesi, Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Rossini, Bellini,
Scotch and Irish melodies, Neapolitan canzonette, and the popular airs
of their own country, were all rendered by them with equal mastery.

To resume my story (which is very like that of the knife-grinder). When
I returned to the stage, many years after I had first appeared on it, I
restored the beautiful end of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" as he
wrote it (in spite of Garrick and the original story), thinking it mere
profanation to intrude sharp discords of piercing agony into the divine
harmony of woe with which it closes.

                   "Thus with a kiss I die,"
    "Thy husband in thy bosom there lies dead,"

are full enough of bitter-sweet despair for the last chords of that
ineffable, passionate strain--the swoon of sorrow ending that brief,
palpitating ecstasy, the proper, dirge-like close to that triumphant
hymn of love and youth and beauty. All the frantic rushing and tortured
writhing and uproar of noisy anguish of the usual stage ending seemed
utter desecration to me; but Garrick was an actor, the first of actors,
and his death-scene of the lovers and ending of the play is much more
theatrically effective than Shakespeare's.

The report of my approaching appearance on the stage excited a good deal
of interest among the acquaintances and friends of my family, and
occasioned a renewal of cordial relations which had formerly existed,
but ceased for some time, between Sir Thomas Lawrence and my father and

Lawrence's enthusiastic admiration for my uncle John and Mrs. Siddons,
testified by the numerous striking portraits in which he has recorded
their personal beauty and dramatic picturesqueness, led to a most
intimate and close friendship between the great painter and the eminent
actors, and, subsequently, to very painful circumstances, which
estranged him for years from all our family, and forbade all renewal of
the relations between himself and Mrs. Siddons which had been so cruelly

While frequenting her house upon terms of the most affectionate
intimacy, he proposed to her eldest daughter, my cousin Sarah, and was
accepted by her. Before long, however, he became deeply dejected, moody,
restless, and evidently extremely and unaccountably wretched. Violent
scenes of the most painful emotion, of which the cause was inexplicable
and incomprehensible, took place repeatedly between himself and Mrs.
Siddons, to whom he finally, in a paroxysm of self-abandoned misery,
confessed that he had mistaken his own feelings, and that her younger
daughter, and not the elder, was the real object of his affection, and
ended by imploring permission to transfer his addresses from the one to
the other sister. How this extraordinary change was accomplished I know
not; but only that it took place, and that Maria Siddons became engaged
to her sister's faithless lover. To neither of them, however was he
destined ever to be united; they were both exceedingly delicate young
women, with a tendency to consumption, which was probably developed and
accelerated in its progress in no small measure by all the bitterness
and complicated difficulties of this disastrous double courtship.

Maria, the youngest, an exceedingly beautiful girl, died first, and on
her death-bed exacted from her sister a promise that she would never
become Lawrence's wife; the promise was given, and she died, and had not
lain long in her untimely grave when her sister was laid in it beside
her. The death of these two lovely and amiable women broke off all
connection between Sir Thomas Lawrence and my aunt, and from that time
they never saw or had any intercourse with each other.


It was years after these events that Lawrence, meeting my father
accidentally in the street one day, stopped him and spoke with great
feeling of his sympathy for us all in my approaching trial, and begged
permission to come and see my mother and become acquainted with me,
which he accordingly did; and from that time till his death, which
occurred but a few months later, he was unwearied in acts of friendly
and affectionate kindness to me. He came repeatedly to consult with my
mother about the disputed point of my dress, and gave his sanction to
her decision upon it. The first dress of Belvidera, I remember, was a
point of nice discussion between them. Plain black velvet and a
lugubrious long vail were considered my only admissible wear, after my
husband's ruin; but before the sale of our furniture, it was conceded
that I might relieve the somber Venetian patrician's black dress with
white satin puffs and crimson linings and rich embroidery of gold and
pearl; moreover, before our bankruptcy, I was allowed (not, however,
without serious demur on the part of Lawrence) to cover my head with a
black hat and white feather, with which, of course, I was enamored,
having never worn anything but my hair on my head before, and feeling an
unspeakable accession of dignity in this piece of attire. I begged hard
to be allowed to wear it through the tragedy, but this, with some
laughter at my intense desire for it, was forbidden, and I was reduced
after the first scene of the play to my own unadorned locks, which I
think greatly strengthened my feeling of the abject misery into which I
had fallen.

When in town, Lawrence never omitted one of my performances, always
occupying the stage box, and invariably sending me the next morning a
letter, full of the most detailed and delicate criticism, showing a
minute attention to every inflection of my voice, every gesture, every
attitude, which, combined with expressions of enthusiastic admiration,
with which this discriminating and careful review of my performance
invariably terminated, was as strong a dose of the finest flattery as
could well have been offered to a girl of my age, on the very first step
of her artistic career. I used to read over the last of these remarkable
criticisms, invariably, before going to the theater, in order to profit
by every suggestion of alteration or hint of improvement they contained;
and I was in the act of reperusing the last I ever received from him,
when my father came in and said, "Lawrence is dead."

I had been sitting to him for some time previously for a pencil sketch,
which he gave my mother; it was his last work, and certainly the most
beautiful of his drawings. He had appointed a day for beginning a
full-length, life-size portrait of me as Juliet, and we had seen him
only a week before his death, and, in the interval, received a note from
him, merely saying he was rather indisposed. His death, which was quite
unexpected, created a very great public sensation, and there was
something sufficiently mysterious about its circumstances to give rise
to a report that he had committed suicide.

The shock of this event was terrible to me, although I have sometimes
since thought it was fortunate for me rather than otherwise. Sir Thomas
Lawrence's enthusiastically expressed admiration for me, his constant
kindness, his sympathy in my success, and the warm interest he took in
everything that concerned me, might only have inspired me with a
grateful sense of his condescension and goodness. But I was a very
romantic girl, with a most excitable imagination, and such was to me the
melancholy charm of Lawrence's countenance, the elegant distinction of
his person, and exquisite refined gentleness of his voice and manner,
that a very dangerous fascination was added to my sense of gratitude for
all his personal kindness to me, and my admiration for his genius; and I
think it not at all unlikely that, had our intercourse continued, and
had I sat to him for the projected portrait of Juliet, in spite of the
forty years' difference in our ages, and my knowledge of his disastrous
relations with my cousins, I should have become in love with him myself,
and been the fourth member of our family whose life he would have
disturbed and embittered. His sentimentality was of a peculiar
mischievous order, as it not only induced women to fall in love with
him, but enabled him to persuade himself that he was in love with them,
and apparently with more than one at a time.

While I was sitting to him for the beautiful sketch he gave my mother,
one or two little incidents occurred that illustrated curiously enough
this superficial pseudo-sensibility of his. On one occasion, when he
spent the evening with us, my mother had made me sing for him; and the
next day, after my sitting, he said in a strange, hesitating, broken
manner, as if struggling to control some strong emotion, "I have a very
great favor to beg of you; the next time I have the honor and pleasure
of spending the evening with you, will you, if Mrs. Kemble does not
disapprove of it, sing this song for me?" He put a piece of music into
my hand, and immediately left us without another word. On our way home
in the carriage, I unrolled the song, the title of which was, "These few
pale Autumn Flowers." "Ha!" said my mother, with, I thought, rather a
peculiar expression, as I read the words; but she added no further
comment. Both words and music were plaintive and pathetic, and had an
original stamp in the melancholy they expressed.

The next time Lawrence spent the evening with us I sang the song for
him. While I did so, he stood by the piano in a state of profound
abstraction, from which he recovered himself, as if coming back from
very far away, and with an expression of acute pain on his countenance,
he thanked me repeatedly for what he called the great favor I had done

At the end of my next sitting, when my mother and myself had risen to
take leave of him, he said, "No, don't go yet,--stay a moment,--I want
to show you something--if I can;" and he moved restlessly about, taking
up and putting down his chalks and pencils, and standing, and sitting
down again, as if unable to make up his mind to do what he wished. At
length he went abruptly to an easel, and, removing from it a canvas with
a few slight sketches on it, he discovered behind it the profile
portrait of a lady in a white dress folded simply across her bosom, and
showing her beautiful neck and shoulders. Her head was dressed with a
sort of sibylline turban, and she supported it upon a most lovely hand
and arm, her elbow resting on a large book, toward which she bent, and
on the pages of which her eyes were fixed, the exquisite eyelid and
lashes hiding the eyes. "Oh, how beautiful! oh, who is it!" exclaimed I.
"A--a lady," stammered Lawrence, turning white and red, "toward
whom--for whom--I entertained the profoundest regard." Thereupon he fled
out of the room. "It is the portrait of Mrs. W----," said my mother;
"she is now dead; she was an exceedingly beautiful and accomplished
woman, the authoress of the words and music of the song Sir Thomas
Lawrence asked you to learn for him."

The great painter's devotion to this lovely person had been matter of
notoriety in the London world. Strangely enough, but a very short time
ago I discovered that she was the kinswoman of my friend Miss Cobb's
mother, of whom Miss Cobb possessed a miniature, in which the fashion of
dress and style of head-dress were the same as those in the picture I
saw, and in which I also traced some resemblance to the beautiful face
which made so great an impression on me. Not long after this Mrs.
Siddons, dining with us one day, asked my mother how the sketch Lawrence
was making of me was getting on. After my mother's reply, my aunt
remained silent for some time, and then, laying her hand on my father's
arm, said, "Charles, when I die, I wish to be carried to my grave by you
and Lawrence." Lawrence reached his grave while she was yet tottering on
the brink of hers.

After my next sitting, my mother, thinking he might be gratified by my
aunt's feeling toward him, mentioned her having dined with us. He asked
eagerly of her health, her looks, her words, and my mother telling him
of her speech about him, he threw down his pencil, clasped his hands,
and, with his eyes full of tears and his face convulsed, exclaimed,
"Good God! did she say that?"

When my likeness was finished, Lawrence showed it to my mother, who,
though she had attended all my sittings, had never seen it till it was
completed. As she stood silently looking at it, he said, "What strikes
you? what do you think?" "It is very like Maria," said my mother, almost
involuntarily, I am sure, for immediately this strange man fell into one
of these paroxysms of emotion, and became so agitated as scarcely to be
able to speak; and at last, with a violent effort, said, "Oh, she is
very like her; she is very like them all!"

In spite of these emotions which I heard and saw Sir Thomas Lawrence
express, I know positively that at his death a lady, who had been an
intimate acquaintance of our family for many years, put on widow's weeds
for him, in the full persuasion that had he lived he would have married
her, and that, the mutual regard they entertained for each other
warranted her assuming the deepest mourning for him. Not the least
curious part of the emotional demonstrations I have described, was the
contrast which they formed to Sir Thomas Lawrence's habitual demeanor,
which was polished and refined, but reserved to a degree of coldness,
and as indicative of reticent discretion and imperturbable self-control
as became a man who lived in such high social places, and frequented the
palaces of royalty and the boudoirs of the great rival beauties of the
English aristocracy. On my twentieth birthday, which occurred soon after
my first appearance, Lawrence sent me a magnificent proof-plate of
Reynolds's portrait of my aunt as the "Tragic Muse," beautifully framed,
and with this inscription: "This portrait, by England's greatest
painter, of the noblest subject of his pencil, is presented to her niece
and worthy successor, by her most faithful humble friend and servant,
Lawrence." When my mother saw this, she exclaimed at it, and said, "I am
surprised he ever brought himself to write those words--her 'worthy
successor.'" A few days after, Lawrence begged me to let him have the
print again, as he was not satisfied with the finishing of the frame. It
was sent to him, and when it came back he had effaced the words in which
he had admitted _any_ worthy successor to his "Tragic Muse;" and Mr.
H----, who was at that time his secretary, told me that Lawrence had the
print lying with that inscription in his drawing-room for several days
before sending it to me, and had said to him, "Cover it up; I cannot
bear to look at it."

One day, at the end of my sitting, Lawrence showed me a lovely portrait
of Mrs. Inchbald, of whom my mother, as we drove home, told me a number
of amusing anecdotes. She was very beautiful, and gifted with original
genius, as her plays and farces and novels (above all, the "Simple
Story") testify; she was not an actress of any special merit, but of
respectable mediocrity. She stuttered habitually, but her delivery was
never impeded by this defect on the stage; a curious circumstance, not
uncommon to persons who have that infirmity, and who can read and recite
without suffering from it, though quite unable to speak fluently. Mrs.
Inchbald was a person of a very remarkable character, lovely, poor, with
unusual mental powers and of irreproachable conduct. Her life was
devoted to the care of some dependent relation, who from sickness was
incapable of self-support. Mrs. Inchbald had a singular uprightness and
unworldliness, and a childlike directness and simplicity of manner,
which, combined with her personal loveliness and halting, broken
utterance, gave to her conversation, which was both humorous and witty,
a most peculiar and comical charm. Once, after traveling all day in a
pouring rain, on alighting at her inn, the coachman, dripping all over
with wet, offered his arm to help her out of the coach, when she
exclaimed, to the great amusement of her fellow-travelers, "Oh, no, no!
y-y-y-you will give me m-m-m-my death of c-c-c-cold; do bring me a-a-a-a
_dry_ man." An aristocratic neighbor of hers, with whom she was slightly
acquainted, driving with his daughter in the vicinity of her very humble
suburban residence, overtook her walking along the road one very hot
day, and, stopping his carriage, asked her to let him have the pleasure
of taking her home; when she instantly declined, with the characteristic
excuse that she had just come from the market gardener's: "And, my lord,
I-I-I have my pocket f-f-full of onions,"--an unsophisticated statement
of facts which made them laugh extremely. At the first reading of one of
her pieces, a certain young lady, with rather a lean, lanky figure,
being proposed to her for the part of the heroine, she indignantly
exclaimed, "No, no, no; I-I-I-I won't have that s-s-s-stick of a girl!
D-d-d-do give me a-a-a girl with _bumps!_" Coming off the stage one
evening, she was about to sit down by Mrs. Siddons in the green-room,
when suddenly, looking at her magnificent neighbor, she said, "No, I
won't s-s-s-sit by you; you're t-t-t-too handsome!"--in which respect
she certainly need have feared no competition, and less with my aunt
than any one, their style of beauty being so absolutely dissimilar.
Somebody speaking of having oysters for supper, much surprise was
excited by Mrs. Inchbald's saying that she had never eaten one.
Questions and remonstrances, exclamations of astonishment, and earnest
advice to enlarge her experience in that respect, assailed her from the
whole green-room, when she finally delivered herself thus: "Oh no,
indeed! I-I-I-I never, never could! What! e-e-e-eat the eyes and
t-t-t-the nose, the teeth a-a-a-and the toes, the a-a-a-all of a
creature!" She was an enthusiastic admirer of my uncle John, and the
hero of her "Simple Story," Doriforth, is supposed to have been intended
by her as a portrait of him. On one occasion, when she was sitting by
the fireplace in the green-room, waiting to be called upon the stage,
she and Miss Mellon (afterward Mrs. Coutts and Duchess of St Albans)
were laughingly discussing their male friends and acquaintances from the
matrimonial point of view. My uncle John, who was standing near,
excessively amused, at length jestingly said to Mrs. Inchbald, who had
been comically energetic in her declarations of who she could or would,
or never could or would, have married, "Well, Mrs. Inchbald, would you
have had me?" "Dear heart!" said the stammering beauty, turning her
sweet sunny face up to him, "I'd have j-j-j-jumped at you!"

One day Lawrence took us, from the room where I generally sat to him,
into a long gallery where were a number of his pictures, and, leading me
by the hand, desired me not to raise my eyes till he told me. On the
word of command I looked up, and found myself standing close to and
immediately underneath, as it were, a colossal figure of Satan. The
sudden shock of finding myself in such proximity to this terrible image
made me burst into nervous tears. Lawrence was greatly distressed at the
result of his experiment, which had been simply to obtain a verdict from
my unprepared impression of the power of his picture. A conversation we
had been having upon the subject of Milton and the character of Satan
had made him think of showing this picture to me. I was too much
agitated to form any judgment of it, but I thought I perceived through
its fierce and tragical expression some trace of my uncle's face and
features, a sort of "more so" of the bitter pride and scornful
melancholy of the banished Roman in the Volscian Hall. Lawrence's
imagination was so filled with the poetical and dramatic suggestions
which he derived from the Kemble brother and sister, that I thought a
likeness of them lurked in this portrait of the Prince of Darkness; and
perhaps he could scarcely have found a better model for his archfiend
than my uncle, to whom his mother occasionally addressed the
characteristic reproof, "Sir, you are as proud as Lucifer!" (He and that
remarkable mother of his must really have been a good deal like
Coriolanus and Volumnia.) To console me for the fright he had given me,
Lawrence took me into his drawing-room--that beautiful apartment filled
with beautiful things, including his magnificent collection of original
drawings by the old masters, and precious gems of old and modern
art--the treasure-house of all the exquisite objects of beauty and
curiosity that he had gathered together during his whole life, and that
(with the exception of Raphael's and Michael Angelo's drawings, now in
the museum at Oxford) were so soon, at his most unexpected death, to be
scattered abroad and become, in separate, disjointed portions, the
property of a hundred different purchasers. Here, he said, he hoped
often to persuade my father and mother and myself to pass our unengaged
evenings with him; here he should like to make my brother John, of whom
I had spoken enthusiastically to him, free of his art collections; and,
adding that he would write to my mother to fix the day for my first
sitting for Juliet, he put into my hands a copy of the first edition of
Milton's "Paradise Lost." I never entered that room or his house, or saw
him again; he died about ten days after that.

Lawrence did not talk much while he took his sketch of me, and I
remember very little that passed between him and my mother but what was
purely personal. I recollect he told me that I had a double row of
eyelashes, which was an unusual peculiarity. He expressed the most
decided preference for satin over every other material for painting,
expatiating rapturously on the soft, rich folds and infinitely varied
lights and shadows which that texture afforded above all others. He has
dressed a great many of his female portraits in white satin. He also
once said that he had been haunted at one time with the desire to paint
a blush, that most enchanting "incident" in the expression of a woman's
face, but, after being driven nearly wild with the ineffectual endeavor,
had had to renounce it, never, of course, he said, achieving anything
but a _red face_. I remember the dreadful impression made upon me by a
story he told my mother of Lady J---- (George the Fourth's Lady J----),
who, standing before her drawing-room looking-glass, and unaware that he
was in the rooms, apostrophized her own reflection with this reflection:
"I swear it would be better to go to hell at once than live to grow old
and ugly."

Lawrence once said that we never dreamed of ourselves as younger than we
were; that even if our dreams reproduce scenes and people and
circumstances of our youth and childhood we were always represented, by
our sleeping imagination, at our present age. I presume he spoke of his
own experience, and I cannot say that I recollect any instance in mine
that contradicts this theory. It seems curious, if it is true, that in
the manifold freaks of our sleeping fancy self-consciousness should
still exist to a sufficient degree to preserve unaltered one's own
conditions of age and physical appearance. I wonder whether this is
really the common experience of people's dreams? Frederick Maurice told
me a circumstance in curious opposition to this theory of Lawrence's. A
young woman whom he knew, of more than usual mental and moral
endowments, married a man very much her inferior in mind and character,
and appeared to him to deteriorate gradually but very perceptibly under
his influence. "As the husband is, the wife is," etc. Toward the middle
of her life she told him that at one time she had carried on a double
existence in her sleeping and waking hours, her dreams invariably taking
her back to the home and period of her girlhood, and that she resumed
this dream-life precisely where she left it off, night after night, for
a considerable period of time,--poor thing!--perhaps as long as the
roots of the young nobler self survived below the soil of a baser
present existence. This story seemed to me always very pathetic. It must
have been dismal to lose that dream life by degrees, as the real one ate
more and more into her nature.

Of Lawrence's merit as a painter an unduly favorable estimate was taken
during his life, and since his death his reputation has suffered an
undue depreciation. Much that he did partook of the false and bad style
which, from the deeper source of degraded morality, spread a taint over
all matters of art and taste, under the vicious influence of the "first
gentleman of Europe," whose own artistic preferences bore witness, quite
as much as the more serious events of his life, how little he deserved
the name. Hideous Chinese pagoda pavilions, with grotesque and monstrous
decorations, barbarous alike in form and in color; mean and ugly
low-roomed royal palaces, without either magnificence or simplicity;
military costumes, in which gold and silver lace were plastered together
on the same uniform, testified to the perverted perception of beauty and
fitness which presided in the court of George the Fourth. Lawrence's own
portrait of him, with his corpulent body girthed in his stays and
creaseless coat, and his heavy falling cheek supported by his stiff
stock, with his dancing-master's leg and his frizzled barber's-block
head, comes as near a caricature as a flattered likeness of the original
(which was a caricature) dares to do. To have had to paint that was
enough to have vulgarized any pencil. The defect of many of Lawrence's
female portraits was a sort of artificial, sentimental _elegantism_.
Pictures of the fine ladies of that day they undoubtedly were; pictures
of _great_ ladies, never; and, in looking at them, one sighed for the
exquisite simple grace and unaffected dignity of Reynolds's and
Gainsborough's noble and gentle women.

The lovely head of Lady Nugent, the fine portrait I have mentioned of
Mrs. W----, the splendid one of Lady Hatherton, and the noble picture of
my grandmother, are among the best productions of Lawrence's pencil; and
several of his men's portraits are in a robust and simple style of art
worthy of the highest admiration. His likeness of Canning (which, by the
bye, might have passed for his own, so great was his resemblance to the
brilliant statesman) and the fine portrait he painted for Lord Aberdeen,
of my uncle John, are excellent specimens of his best work. He had a
remarkable gift of producing likenesses at once striking and favorable,
and of always seizing the finest expression of which a face was capable;
and none could ever complain that Lawrence had not done justice to the
very best look they ever wore. Lawrence's want of conscience with regard
to the pictures which he undertook and never finished, is difficult to
account for by any plausible explanation. The fact is notorious, that in
various instances, after receiving the price of a portrait, and
beginning it, he procrastinated, and delayed, and postponed the
completion, until, in more than one case, the blooming beauty sketched
upon his canvas had grown faded and wrinkled before the image of her
youthful loveliness had been completed.

The renewal of intercourse between Lawrence and my parents, so soon to
be terminated by his death, was the cause to me of a loss which I shall
never cease to regret. My father had had in his library for years
(indeed, as long as I remember) a large volume of fine engravings of the
masterpieces of the great Italian painters, and this precious book of
art we were occasionally allowed to look at for an hour of rare delight;
but it belonged to Sir Thomas Lawrence, and had accidentally been kept
for this long space of time in my father's possession. One of my
mother's first acts, on again entering into friendly relations with
Lawrence, was to restore this piece of property to him; a precipitate
act of honesty which I could not help deploring, especially when, so
soon after this deed of rash restitution, his death brought those
beautiful engravings, with all the rest of his property, to the hammer.

There is no early impression stronger in my mind than that of some of
those masterpieces, which, together with Winckelmann's fine work on
classical art (our familiarity with which I have elsewhere alluded to),
were among the first influences of the sort which I experienced. Nor can
I ever be too grateful that, restricted as were my parents' means of
developing in us the highest culture, they were still such as, combined
with their own excellent taste and judgment, preserved us from that
which is far worse than ignorance, a liking for anything vulgar or
trivial. That which was merely pretty, in music, painting, or poetry,
was never placed on the same level in our admiration with that which was
fine; and though, from nature as well as training, we enjoyed with great
zest every thing that could in any sense be called good, our enthusiasm
was always reserved for that which was best, an incalculable advantage
in the formation of a fine taste and critical judgment. A noble ideal
beauty was what we were taught to consider the proper object and result
of all art. In their especial vocation this tendency caused my family to
be accused of formalism and artificial pedantry; and the so-called
"classical" school of acting, to which they belonged, has frequently
since their time been unfavorably compared with what, by way of
contrast, has been termed the realistic or natural style of art. I do
not care to discuss the question, but am thankful that my education
preserved me from accepting mere imitation of nature as art, on the
stage or in the picture gallery; and that, without destroying my delight
in any kind of beauty, it taught me a decided preference for that which
was highest and noblest.

All being in due preparation for my coming out, my rehearsals were the
only interruption to my usual habits of occupation, which I pursued very
steadily in spite of my impending trial. On the day of my first
appearance I had no rehearsal, for fear of over-fatigue, and spent my
morning as usual, in practicing the piano, walking in the inclosure of
St. James's Park opposite our house, and reading in "Blunt's Scripture
Characters" (a book in which I was then deeply interested) the chapters
relating to St. Peter and Jacob. I do not know whether the nervous
tension which I must have been enduring strengthened the impression made
upon me by what I read, but I remember being quite absorbed by it, which
I think was curious, because certainly such subjects of meditation were
hardly allied to the painful undertaking so immediately pressing upon
me. But I believe I felt imperatively the necessity of moderating my own
strong nervous emotion and excitement by the fulfillment of my
accustomed duties and pursuits, and above all by withdrawing my mind
into higher and serener regions of thought, as a respite and relief from
the pressure of my alternate apprehensions of failure and hopes of
success. I do not mean that it was at all a matter of deliberate
calculation or reflection, but rather an instinct of self-preservation,
which actuated me: a powerful instinct which has struggled and partially
prevailed throughout my whole life against the irregular and passionate
vehemence of my temperament, and which, in spite of a constant tendency
to violent excitement of mind and feeling, has made me a person of
unusually systematic pursuits and monotonous habits, and been a frequent
subject of astonishment, not unmixed with ridicule, to my friends, who
have not known as well as myself what wholesomeness there was in the
method of my madness. And I am persuaded that religion and reason alike
justify such a strong instinctive action in natures which derive a
constant moral support, like that of the unobserved but all-sustaining
pressure of the atmosphere, from the soothing and restraining influence
of systematic habits of monotonous regularity. Amid infinite anguish and
errors, existence may preserve a species of outward symmetry and harmony
from this strong band of minute observance keeping down and assisting
the mind to master elements of moral and mental discord and disorder,
for the due control of which the daily and hourly subjection to
recurring rules is an invaluable auxiliary to higher influences. The
external practice does not supply but powerfully supplements the
internal principle of self-control.

My mother, who had left the stage for upward of twenty years, determined
to return to it on the night of my first appearance, that I might have
the comfort and support of her being with me in my trial. We drove to
the theater very early, indeed while the late autumn sunlight yet
lingered in the sky; it shone into the carriage, upon me, and as I
screened my eyes from it, my mother said, "Heaven smiles on you, my
child." My poor mother went to her dressing-room to get herself ready,
and did not return to me for fear of increasing my agitation by her own.
My dear aunt Dall and my maid and the theater dresser performed my
toilet for me, and at length I was placed in a chair, with my satin
train carefully laid over the back of it; and there I sat, ready for
execution, with the palms of my hands pressed convulsively together, and
the tears I in vain endeavored to repress welling up into my eyes and
brimming slowly over, down my rouged cheeks--upon which my aunt, with a
smile full of pity, renewed the color as often as these heavy drops made
unsightly streaks in it. Once and again my father came to the door, and
I heard his anxious "How is she?" to which my aunt answered, sending him
away with words of comforting cheer. At last, "Miss Kemble called for
the stage, ma'am!" accompanied with a brisk tap at the door, started me
upright on my feet, and I was led round to the side scene opposite to
the one from which I saw my mother advance on the stage; and while the
uproar of her reception filled me with terror, dear old Mrs. Davenport,
my nurse, and dear Mr. Keely, her Peter, and half the _dramatis personæ_
of the play (but not my father, who had retreated, quite unable to
endure the scene) stood round me as I lay, all but insensible, in my
aunt's arms. "Courage, courage, dear child! poor thing, poor thing!"
reiterated Mrs. Davenport. "Never mind 'em, Miss Kemble!" urged Keely,
in that irresistibly comical, nervous, lachrymose voice of his, which I
have never since heard without a thrill of anything but comical
association; "never mind 'em! don't think of 'em, any more than if they
were so many rows of cabbages!" "Nurse!" called my mother, and on
waddled Mrs. Davenport, and, turning back, called in her turn, "Juliet!"
My aunt gave me an impulse forward, and I ran straight across the stage,
stunned with the tremendous shout that greeted me, my eyes covered with
mist, and the green baize flooring of the stage feeling as if it rose up
against my feet; but I got hold of my mother, and stood like a terrified
creature at bay, confronting the huge theater full of gazing human
beings. I do not think a word I uttered during this scene could have
been audible; in the next, the ball-room, I began to forget myself; in
the following one, the balcony scene, I had done so, and, for aught I
knew, I was Juliet; the passion I was uttering sending hot waves of
blushes all over my neck and shoulders, while the poetry sounded like
music to me as I spoke it, with no consciousness of anything before me,
utterly transported into the imaginary existence of the play. After
this, I did not return into myself till all was over, and amid a
tumultuous storm of applause, congratulation, tears, embraces, and a
general joyous explosion of unutterable relief at the fortunate
termination of my attempt, we went home. And so my life was determined,
and I devoted myself to an avocation which I never liked or honored, and
about the very nature of which I have never been able to come to any
decided opinion. It is in vain that the undoubted specific gifts of
great actors and actresses suggest that all gifts are given for rightful
exercise, and not suppression; in vain that Shakespeare's plays urge
their imperative claim to the most perfect illustration they can receive
from histrionic interpretation: a _business_ which is incessant
excitement and factitious emotion seems to me unworthy of a man; a
business which is public exhibition, unworthy of a woman.

At four different periods of my life I have been constrained by
circumstances to maintain myself by the exercise of my dramatic faculty;
latterly, it is true, in a less painful and distasteful manner, by
reading, instead of acting. But though I have never, I trust, been
ungrateful for the power of thus helping myself and others, or forgetful
of the obligation I was under to do my appointed work conscientiously in
every respect, or unmindful of the precious good regard of so many kind
hearts that it has won for me; though I have never lost one iota of my
own intense delight in the act of rendering Shakespeare's creations; yet
neither have I ever presented myself before an audience without a
shrinking feeling of reluctance, or withdrawn from their presence
without thinking the excitement I had undergone unhealthy, and the
personal exhibition odious.

Nevertheless, I sat me down to supper that night with my poor, rejoicing
parents well content, God knows! with the issue of my trial; and still
better pleased with a lovely little Geneva watch, the first I had ever
possessed, all encrusted with gold work and jewels, which my father laid
by my plate and I immediately christened Romeo, and went, a blissful
girl, to sleep with it under my pillow.

                         BUCKINGHAM GATE, JAMES STREET, December 14th.
     DEAREST ----,

     I received your letter this morning, before I was out of my room,
     and very glad I was to get it. You would have heard from me again
     ere this, had it not been that, in your present anxious state of
     mind respecting your brother, I did not like to demand your
     attention for my proceedings. My trial is over, and, thank heaven!
     most fortunately. Our most sanguine wishes could hardly have gone
     beyond the result, and at the same time that I hail my success as a
     source of great happiness to my dear father and mother, I almost
     venture to hope that the interest which has been excited in the
     public may tend to revive once more the decaying dramatic art. You
     say it is a very fascinating occupation; perhaps it is, though it
     does not appear to me so, and I think it carries with it drawbacks
     enough to operate as an antidote to the vanity and love of
     admiration which it can hardly fail to foster. The mere embodying
     of the exquisite ideals of poetry is a great enjoyment, but after
     that, or rather _for_ that, comes in ours, as in all arts, the
     mechanical process, the labor, the refining, the controlling the
     very feeling one has, in order to manifest it in the best way to
     the perception of others; and when all, that intense feeling and
     careful work can accomplish, is done, an actor must often see those
     points of his performance which are most worthy of approbation
     overlooked, and others, perhaps crude in taste or less true in
     feeling, commended; which must tend much, I think, to sober the
     mind as to the value of applause. Above all, the constant
     consciousness of the immeasurable distance between a fine
     conception and the best execution of it, must in acting, as in all
     art, be a powerful check to vanity and self-satisfaction.

     As to the mere excitement proceeding from the public applause of a
     theater, I am sure you will believe me when I say I do not think I
     shall ever experience it. But should I reckon too much upon my own
     steadiness, I have the incessant care and watchfulness of my dear
     mother to rely on, and I do rely on it as an invaluable safeguard,
     both to the purity and good taste of all that I may do on the
     stage, and the quiet and soberness of my mind under all this new
     excitement. She has borne all her anxieties wonderfully well, and I
     now hope she will reap some repayment for them. My dear father is
     very happy; indeed, we have all cause for heartfelt thankfulness
     when we think what a light has dawned upon our prospects, lately so
     dismal and overcast. My own motto in all this must be, as far as
     possible, "Beget a temperance in all things." I trust I shall be
     enabled to rule myself by it, and in the firm hope that my endeavor
     to do what is right will be favored and assisted, I have committed
     myself, nothing doubting, to the stormy sea of life. Dearest H----,
     the papers will give you a detailed account of my _début_; I only
     wish to assure you that I have not embraced this course without due
     dread of its dangers, and a firm determination to watch, as far as
     in me lies, over its effect upon my mind. It is, after all, but
     lately, you know, that I have become convinced that fame and
     gratified ambition are not the worthiest aims for one's exertions.
     With affectionate love, believe me ever your fondly attached


     I most sincerely hope that your brother's health is improving, and
     if we do not meet sooner, I shall now look forward to Dublin as our
     _point de réunion_; that will not be the least of the obligations I
     shall owe this happy turn of affairs.

I do not know whence I derived the deep impression I expressed in this
letter of the moral dangers of the life upon which I was entering;
certainly not from my parents, to whom, of course, the idea that actors
and actresses could not be respectable people naturally did not occur,
and who were not troubled, I am sure, as I then was, with a perception
of the more subtle evils of their calling. I had never heard the nature
of it discussed, and was absolutely without experience of it, but the
vapid vacuity of the last years of my aunt Siddons's life had made a
profound impression upon me,--her apparent deadness and indifference to
everything, which I attributed (unjustly, perhaps) less to her advanced
age and impaired powers than to what I supposed the withering and drying
influence of the overstimulating atmosphere of emotion, excitement, and
admiration in which she had passed her life; certain it is that such was
my dread of the effect of my profession upon me, that I added an earnest
petition to my daily prayers that I might be defended from the evil
influence I feared it might exercise upon me.

As for my success, there was, I believe, a genuine element in it, for
puffing can send upward only things that have a buoyant, rising quality
in themselves; but there was also a great feeling of personal sympathy
for my father and mother, of kindly indulgence for my youth, and of
respectful recollection of my uncle and aunt; and a very general desire
that the fine theater where they had exercised their powers should be
rescued, if possible, from its difficulties. All this went to make up a
result of which I had the credit.

Among my experiences of that nauseous ingredient in theatrical life,
puffery, some have been amusing enough. The last time that I gave public
readings in America, the management of them was undertaken by a worthy,
respectable person, who was not, I think, exceptionally addicted to the
devices and charlatanism which appear almost inseparable from the
business of public exhibition in all its branches. At the end of our
first interview for the purpose of arranging my performances, as he was
taking his leave he said, "Well, ma'am, I think everything is quite in a
nice train. I should say things are in a most favorable state of
preparation; we've a delightful article coming out in the ----." Here he
mentioned a popular periodical. "Ah, indeed?" said I, not quite
apprehending what my friend was aiming at. "Yes, really, ma'am, I should
say first-rate, and I thought perhaps we might induce you to be good
enough to help us a little with it." "Bless me!" said I, more and more
puzzled, "how can I help you?" "Well, ma'am, with a few personal
anecdotes, perhaps, if you would be so kind." "Anecdotes?" said I (with
three points of interrogation). "What do you mean? What about?" "Why,
ma'am" (with a low bow), "about Mrs. Kemble, of course." Now, my worthy
agent's remuneration was to consist of a certain proportion of the
receipts of the readings, and, that being the case, I felt I had no
right absolutely to forbid him all puffing advertisements and decently
legitimate efforts to attract public attention and interest to
performances by which he was to benefit. At the same time, I also felt
it imperatively necessary that there should be some limit to these
proceedings, if I was to be made a party to them. I therefore told him
that, as his interest was involved in the success of the readings, I
could not forbid his puffing them to some extent, as, if I did, he might
consider himself injured. "But," said I, while refusing the contribution
of any personal anecdotes to his forthcoming article, "take care what
you do in that line, for if you overdo it in the least, I will write an
article, myself, on my readings, showing up all their faults, and
turning them into ridicule as I do not believe any one else either would
or could. So puff just as quietly as you can." I rather think my agent
left me with the same opinion of my competency in business that Mr.
Macready had expressed as to my proficiency in my profession, namely,
that "I did not know the rudiments of it."

Mr. Mitchell, who from the first took charge of all my readings in
England, and was the very kindest, most considerate, and most courteous
of all managers, on one occasion, complaining bitterly to my sister of
the unreasonable objection I had to all laudatory advertisements of my
readings, said to her, with a voice and countenance of the most rueful
melancholy, and with the most appealing pathos, "Why, you know, ma'am,
it's really dreadful; you know, Mrs. Kemble won't even allow us to say
in the bills, _these celebrated readings_; and you know, ma'am, it's
really impossible to do with less; indeed it is! Why, ma'am, you know
even Morrison's pills are always advertised as _these celebrated
pills!_"--an illustration of the hardships of his case which my sister
repeated to me with infinite delight.

When I saw the shop-windows full of Lawrence's sketch of me, and knew
myself the subject of almost daily newspaper notices; when plates and
saucers were brought to me with small figures of me as Juliet and
Belvidera on them; and finally, when gentlemen showed me lovely
buff-colored neck-handkerchiefs which they had bought, and which had, as
I thought, pretty lilac-colored flowers all over them, which proved on
nearer inspection to be minute copies of Lawrence's head of me, I not
unnaturally, in the fullness of my inexperience, believed in my own

I have since known more of the manufacture of public enthusiasm and
public triumphs, and, remembering to how many people it was a matter of
vital importance that the public interest should be kept alive in me,
and Covent Garden filled every night I played, I have become more
skeptical upon the subject.

Seeing lately a copy of my play of "Francis the First," with (to my
infinite astonishment) "tenth edition" upon it, I said to a friend, "I
suppose this was a bit of bookseller's puffery; or did each edition
consist of three copies?" He replied, "Oh, no, I think not; you have
forgotten the _furor_ there was about you when this came out." At twenty
I believed it _all_; at sixty-eight I find it difficult to believe _any_
of it.

It is certain, however, that I played Juliet upward of a hundred and
twenty times running, with all the irregularity and unevenness and
immature inequality of which I have spoken as characteristics which were
never corrected in my performances. My mother, who never missed one of
them, would sometimes come down from her box and, folding me in her
arms, say only the very satisfactory words, "Beautiful, my dear!" Quite
as often, if not oftener, the verdict was, "My dear, your performance
was not fit to be seen! I don't know how you ever contrived to do the
part decently; it must have been by some knack or trick which you appear
to have entirely lost the secret of; you had better give the whole thing
up at once than go on doing it so disgracefully ill." This was awful,
and made my heart sink down into my shoes, whatever might have been the
fervor of applause with which the audience had greeted my performance.

My life now became settled in its new shape. I acted regularly three
times a week; I had no rehearsals, since "Romeo and Juliet" went on
during the whole season, and so my mornings were still my own. I always
dined in the middle of the day (and invariably on a mutton-chop, so that
I might have been a Harrow boy, for diet); I was taken by my aunt early
to the theater, and there in my dressing-room sat through the entire
play, when I was not on the stage, with some piece of tapestry or
needlework, with which, during the intervals of my tragic sorrows, I
busied my fingers; my thoughts being occupied with the events of my next
scene and the various effects it demanded. When I was called for the
stage, my aunt came with me, carrying my train, that it might not sweep
the dirty floor behind the scenes; and after spreading it out and
adjusting its folds carefully, as I went on, she remained at the side
scene till I came off again, then gathered it on her arm, and, folding a
shawl around me, escorted me back to my dressing-room and tapestry; and
so my theatrical evenings were passed. My parents would not allow me to
go into the green-room, where they thought my attention would be
distracted from my business, and where I might occasionally meet with
undesirable associates. My salary was fixed at thirty guineas a week,
and the Saturday after I came out I presented myself for the first and
last time at the treasury of the theater to receive it, and carried it,
clinking, with great triumph, to my mother, the first money I ever

It would be difficult to imagine anything more radical than the change
which three weeks had made in the aspect of my whole life. From an
insignificant school-girl, I had suddenly become an object of general
public interest. I was a little lion in society, and the town talk of
the day. Approbation, admiration, adulation, were showered upon me;
every condition of my life had been altered, as by the wand of a fairy.
Instead of the twenty pounds a year which my poor father squeezed out of
his hard-earned income for my allowance, out of which I bought (alas,
with how much difficulty, seeing how many other things I would buy!) my
gloves and shoes, I now had an assured income, as long as my health and
faculties were unimpaired, of at least a thousand a year; and the thirty
guineas a week at Covent Garden, and much larger remuneration during
provincial tours, forever forbade the sense of destitution productive of
the ecstasy with which, only a short time before I came out, I had found
wedged into the bottom of my money drawer in my desk a sovereign that I
had overlooked, and so had sorrowfully concluded myself penniless till
next allowance day. Instead of trudging long distances afoot through the
muddy London streets, when the hire of a hackney-coach was matter of
serious consideration, I had a comfortable and elegant carriage; I was
allowed, at my own earnest request, to take riding lessons, and before
long had a charming horse of my own, and was able to afford the delight
of giving my father one, the use of which I hoped would help to
invigorate and refresh him. The faded, threadbare, turned, and dyed
frocks which were my habitual wear were exchanged for fashionably made
dresses of fresh colors and fine texture, in which I appeared to myself
transfigured. Our door was besieged with visitors, our evenings bespoken
by innumerable invitations; social civilities and courtesies poured in
upon us from every side in an incessant stream; I was sought and petted
and caressed by persons of conventional and real distinction, and every
night that I did not act I might, if my parents had thought it prudent
to let me do so, have passed in all the gayety of the fashionable world
and the great London season. So much cordiality, sympathy, interest, and
apparent genuine good-will seemed to accompany all these flattering
demonstrations, that it was impossible for me not to be touched and
gratified,--perhaps, too, unduly elated. If I was spoiled and my head
turned, I can only say I think it would have needed a strong head not to
be so; but God knows how pitiful a preparation all this tinsel, sudden
success, and popularity formed for the duties and trials of my


Among the persons whom I used to see behind the scenes were two who, for
different reasons, attracted my attention: one was the Earl of W----,
and the other the Rev. A.F. C----. I was presented to Lord and Lady
W---- in society, and visited them more than once at their place near
Manchester. But before I had made Lord W----'s acquaintance, he was an
object of wondering admiration to me, not altogether unmixed with a
slight sense of the ridiculous, only because it passed my comprehension
how any real, live man could be so exactly like the description of a
particular kind of man, in a particular kind of book. There was no fault
to find with the elegance of his appearance and his remarkable good
looks; he certainly was the beau ideal of a dandy,--with his slender,
perfectly dressed figure, his pale complexion, regular features, fine
eyes, and dark, glossy waves of hair, and the general aristocratic
distinction of his whole person,--and was so like the Earl of So-and-So,
in the fashionable novel of the day, that I always longed to ask him
what he did at the end of the "third volume," and "whether he or Sir
Reginald married Lady Geraldine." But why this exquisite _par
excellence_ should always have struck me as slightly absurd, I cannot
imagine. The Rev. A.F. C---- was the natural son of William IV. and Mrs.
Jordan, and vicar of Maple Durham; when first I came out, this young
gentleman attended every one of my performances, first in one of the
stage boxes and afterward in a still nearer position to the stage, one
of the orchestra reserved seats. Thence, one night, he disappeared, and,
to my surprise, I saw him standing at one of the side scenes during the
whole play. My mother remarking at supper his non-attendance in his
usual place, my father said that he had come to him at the beginning of
the play, and asked, for his mother's sake, to be allowed occasionally
to present himself behind the scenes. My father said this reference to
Mrs. Jordan had induced him to grant the request so put, though he did
not think the back of the scenes a very proper haunt for a gentleman of
his cloth. There, however, Mr. F. C---- came, and evening after evening
I saw his light kid gloves waving and gesticulating about, following in
a sort of sympathetic dumb show the gradual development of my distress,
to the end of the play. My father, at his request, presented him to me,
but as I never remained behind the scenes or went into the green-room,
and as he could not very well follow me upon the stage, our intercourse
was limited to silent bows and courtesies, as I went on and off, to my
palace in Verona, or from Friar Laurence's cell. Mr. F. C---- appeared
to me to have slightly mistaken his vocation: that others had done so
for him was made more manifest to me by my subsequent acquaintance with
him. I encountered him one evening at a very gay ball given by the
Countess de S----. Almost as soon as I came into the room he rushed at
me, exclaiming, "Oh, do come and dance with me, that's a dear good
girl." The "dear good girl" had not the slightest objection to dancing
with anybody, dancing being then my predominant passion, and a chair a
perfectly satisfactory partner if none other could be come by. While
dancing, I was unpleasantly struck with the decidedly unreverend tone of
my partner's remarks. Clergymen danced in those days without reproach,
but I hope that even in those days of dancing clerks they did not often
talk so very much to match the tripping of the light fantastic toe. My
amazement reached its climax when, seeing me exchange signs of amicable
familiarity with some one across the room, Mr. F. C---- said, "Who are
you nodding and smiling to? Oh, your father. You are very fond of him,
ain't you?" To my enthusiastic reply in the affirmative, he said, "Ah,
yes; just so. I dare say you are." And then followed an expression of
his filial disrespect for the highest personage in the realm, of such a
robust significance as fairly took away my breath. Surprised into a
momentary doubt of my partner's sobriety, I could only say, "Mr. F.
C----, if you do not change your style of conversation I must sit down
and leave you to finish the dance alone." He confounded himself in
repeated apologies and entreaties that I would finish the dance with
him, and as I could not find a word to say to him, he went on eagerly to
excuse himself by a short sketch of his life, telling me that he had not
been bred to the Church and had the greatest disinclination to taking
orders; that he had been trained as a sailor, the navy being the career
that he preferred above all others, but that in consequence of the death
of a brother he had been literally taken from on board ship, and, in
spite of the utmost reluctance on his part, compelled to go into the
Church. "Don't you think it's a hard case?" reiterated he, as I still
found it difficult to express my opinion either of him or of his "case,"
both appearing to me equally deplorable. At length I suggested that,
since he had adopted the sacred calling he professed, perhaps it would
be better if he conformed to it at least by outward decency of language
and decorum of demeanor. To this he assented, adding with a sigh, "But,
you see, some people have a natural turn for religion; you have, for
instance, I'm sure; but you see I have not." This appeared to me
incontrovertible. Presently, after a pause, he asked me if I would write
a sermon for him, which tribute to my talent for preaching, of which he
had just undergone a sample, sent me into fits of laughter, though I
replied with some indignation, "Certainly not; I am not a proper person
to write sermons, and you ought to write your own!" "Yes," said he, with
rather touching humility, "but you see I can't,--not good ones, at
least. I'm sure you could, and I wish you would write one for me; Mrs.
N---- has." This statement terminated the singular conversation, which
had been the accompaniment to a quadrille. The vicar of Maple Durham is
dead; had he lived he would doubtless have become a bishop; his family
had already furnished its contingent to the army and navy, in Lord E.
and Lord A.F. C----, and the living of Maple Durham had to be filled and
he to be provided for; and whenever the virtues of the Established
Church system are under discussion, I try to forget this, and one or two
similar instances I have known of its vices as it existed in those days.
But that was near "fifty years since," and such a story as that of my
poor sailor-parson friend could hardly be told now. Nor could one often
now in any part of England find the fellow of my friend H. D----, who
was also the predestined incumbent of a family living. He was
passionately fond of hunting; and, clinging to his beloved "pink" even
after holy orders had made it rather indecorous wear, used to huddle on
his sacred garments of office at week-day solemnities of marrying or
burying, and, having accomplished his clerical duties, rapidly divest
himself of his holy robes, and bloom forth in unmitigated scarlet and
buckskins, while the temporary cloud of sanctity which had obscured them
was rapidly rolled into the vestry closet.

I confess to having heard with sincere sympathy the story of a certain
excellent clergyman of Yorkshire breeding, who, finding it impossible to
relinquish his hunting, carried it on simultaneously with the most exact
and faithful discharge of his clerical duties until, arriving at length
at the high dignity of the archbishopric of York, though neither less
able for, nor less devoted to, his favorite pursuit, thought it
expedient to abandon it and ride to hounds no more. He still rode,
however, harder, farther, faster, and better than most men, but
conscientiously avoided the hunting-field. Coming accidentally, one day,
upon the hounds when they had lost the scent, and trotting briskly away,
after a friendly acknowledgment of the huntsman's salutation, he
presently caught sight of the fox, when, right reverend prelate as he
was, he gave a "view halloo" to be heard half the county over, and fled
in the opposite direction at a full gallop, while the huntsman, in an
ecstasy, cheered on his pack with an exclamation of "That's gospel
truth, if ever I heard it!"

A.F. C---- was pleasant-looking, though not handsome, like the royal
family of England, whose very noble _port de tête_ he had, with a
charming voice that, my father said, came to him from his mother.

I have spoken of my being allowed to take riding lessons, and of
purchasing a horse, which was not only an immense pleasure to me, but, I
believe, a very necessary means of health and renovation, in the life of
intense and incessant excitement which I was leading.

For some time after my first coming out I lost my sleep almost entirely,
and used to lie wide awake the greater part of the night. With more use
of my new profession this nervous wakefulness wore off; but I was
subject to very frequent and severe pains in the side, which any strong
emotion almost invariably brought on, and which were relieved by nothing
but exercise on horseback. The refreshment of this panacea for bodily
and mental ailments was always such to me, that often, returning from
balls where I had danced till daylight, I used to feel that if I could
have an hour's gallop in the fresh morning air, I should be revived
beyond all sleep that I could then get.

Once only I was allowed to test my theory, and I found that the result
answered my expectations entirely. I had been acting in Boston every
night for a whole week, and on Saturday night had acted in two pieces,
and was to start at one o'clock in the morning for New York, between
which and Boston there was no railroad in those days. I was not feeling
well, and was much exhausted by my hard work, but I was sure that if I
could only begin my journey on horseback instead of in the lumbering,
rolling, rocking, heavy, straw-and-leather-smelling "Exclusive Extra"
(that is, private stage-coach), I should get over my fatigue and the
rest of the journey with some chance of not being completely knocked up
by it. After much persuasion my father consented, and after the two
pieces of our farewell night, to a crowded, enthusiastic house, all the
excitement of which of course told upon me even more than the actual
exertion of acting, I had some supper, and at one o'clock, with our
friend, Major M----, and ----, got on horseback, and rode out of Boston.
Major M---- rode with us only about three miles, and then turned back,
leaving us to pursue our road to Dedham, seven miles farther, where the
carriage, with my father and aunt, was to meet us.

The thermometer stood at seventeen degrees below zero; it was the middle
of a Massachusetts winter, and the cold intense. The moon was at the
full, and the night as bright as day; not a stone but was visible on the
iron-hard road, that rang under our horses' hoofs. The whole country was
sheeted with snow, over which the moon threw great floods of yellow
light, while here and there a broken ridge in the smooth, white expanse
turned a sparkling, crystalline edge up to the lovely splendor. It was
wonderfully beautiful and exhilarating, though so cold that my vail was
all frozen over my lips, and we literally hardly dared utter a word for
fear of swallowing scissors and knives in the piercing air, which,
however, was perfectly still and without the slightest breath of wind.
So we rode hard and fast and silently, side by side, through the bright,
profound stillness of the night, and never drew rein till we reached
Dedham, where the carriage with my father and aunt had not yet arrived.
Not a soul was stirring, and not a sound was heard, in the little New
England village; the country tavern was fast shut up; not a light
twinkled from any window, or thread of smoke rose from any chimney;
every house had closed its eyes and ears, and gone to sleep. We had
ridden the whole way as fast as we could, and had kept our blood warm by
the violent exercise, but there was every danger, if we sat many minutes
on our saddles in the piercing cold, that we should be all the worse
instead of the better for that circumstance. Mr. ---- rode along the
houses, looking for some possible shelter, and at last, through the
chink of a shutter, spying a feeble glimmer of light, dismounted, and,
knocking, asked if it were possible for me to be admitted there for a
few minutes, till the carriage, which could not be far distant, came up.
He was answered in the affirmative, and I jumped down from my saddle,
and ran into the friendly refuge, while he paced rapidly to and fro
before the house, leading the horses, to keep himself and them alike
from freezing; a man was to come on the coach-box with the driver, to
take them back to Boston. On looking round I found myself in a miserable
little low room, heated almost to suffocation by an iron stove, and
stifling with the peculiar smell of black dye-stuffs. Here, by the light
of two wretched bits of candle, two women were working with the utmost
dispatch at mourning-garments for a funeral which was to take place that
day, in a few hours. They did not speak to me after making room for me
near the stove, and the only words they exchanged with each other were
laconic demands for scissors, thread, etc.; and so they rapidly plied
their needles in silence, while I, suddenly transported from the cold
brightness without into this funereal, sweltering atmosphere of what
looked like a Black Hole made of crape and bombazine, watched the
lugubrious occupation of the women as if I was in a dream, till the
distant rumbling of wheels growing more and more distinct, I took leave
of my temporary hostesses with many thanks (they were poor New England
workwomen, by whom no other species of acknowledgment would have been
received), and was presently fast asleep in the corner of the carriage,
and awoke only long after to feel rested and refreshed, and well able to
endure the fatigue of the rest of the journey. In spite of this
fortunate result, I do not now, after a lapse of forty years, think the
experiment one that would have answered with many young women's
constitutions, though there is no sort of doubt that the nervous energy
generated by any pleasurable emotion is in itself a great preservative
from unfavorable influences.

My riding-master was the best and most popular teacher in
London--Captain Fozzard--or, as he was irreverently called among his
young Amazons, "Old Fozzard." When my mother took me to the riding
school, he recalled, with many compliments, her own proficiency as an
equestrian, and said he would do his best to make me as fine a
horsewoman as she had been. He certainly did his best to improve a very
good seat, and a heavy, defective hand with which nature had endowed me;
the latter, however, was incorrigible, and so, though I was always a
fearless horsewoman, and very steady in my saddle, I never possessed the
finer and more exquisite part of the accomplishment of riding, which
consists in the delicate and skillful management of a horse's mouth.
Fozzard's method was so good that all the best lady riders in London
were his pupils, and one could tell one of them at a glance, by the
perfect squareness of the shoulders to the horse's head, which was one
invariable result of his teaching. His training was eminently calculated
to produce that result, and to make us all but immovable in our saddles.
Without stirrup, without holding the reins, with our arms behind us, and
as often as not sitting left-sided on the saddle, to go through violent
plunging, rearing, and kicking lessons, and taking our horses over the
bar, was a considerable test of a firm seat, and in all these special
feats I became a proficient.

One day, when I had gone to the school more for exercise than a lesson,
and was taking a solitary canter in the tan for my own amusement, the
little door under the gallery opened, and Fozzard appeared, introducing
a middle-aged lady and a young girl, who remained standing there while
he advanced toward me, and presently began to put me through all my most
crucial exercises, apparently for their edification. I was always
delighted to go through these particular feats, which amused me
excessively, and in which I took great pride. So I sat through them all,
till, upon a sign from the elder lady, Fozzard, with extreme deference,
opened the door and escorted them forth, and then returning to dismount
me, informed me that I had given a very satisfactory sample of his
teaching to the Duchess of Kent and the Princess Victoria, the latter of
whom was to be placed under his tuition forthwith.

This was the first time I ever saw the woman who holds the most exalted
position in the world, the Queen of England, who has so filled that
supreme station that her name is respected wherever it is heard abroad,
and that she is regarded by her own people with a loyal love such as no
earthly dignity but that of personal worthiness can command.

                                        JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE.
     DEAREST H----,

     The kind exertion you made in writing to me so soon after leaving
     London deserved an earlier acknowledgment; but when I tell you that
     every day since Christmas I have fully purposed writing to you, and
     have not been able to do so before to-day, I hope you will excuse
     the delay, and believe me when I assure you that not only the
     effort you made in going to the theater, but your seeing me at all,
     are appreciated by me as very strong marks of your affection for

     Now let me say something to you about Lady C---- L----'s criticism
     of my performance. In the first place, nothing is easier than to
     criticise by comparison, and hardly anything much more difficult
     than to form a correct judgment of any work of art (be it what it
     may) upon the foundation of abstract principles and fundamental
     rules of taste and criticism; for this sort of analysis is really a
     study. Comparison is the criticism of the multitude, and I almost
     wonder at its being resorted to by a woman of such ability as Lady
     C----. I only say this by the way, for to be compared with either
     Mrs. Siddons or Miss O'Neill is above my expectation. They were
     both professional actresses, which I can hardly yet claim to be;
     women who had for years studied the mechanical part of their art,
     and rendered themselves proficients in their business; while
     although I have certainly had many advantages, in hearing the stage
     and acting constantly, tastefully, and thoughtfully discussed, I am
     totally inexperienced in all the minor technical processes, most
     necessary for the due execution of any dramatic conception. As to
     my aunt Siddons--look at her, H----; look at her fine person, her
     beautiful face; listen to her magnificent voice; and supposing that
     I were as highly endowed with poetical dramatic imagination as she
     was (which I certainly am not), is it likely that there can ever be
     a shadow of comparison between her and myself, even when years may
     have corrected all that is at present crude and imperfect in my

     This is my sole reply to her ladyship. To you, dearest H----, I can
     add that I came upon the stage quite uncertain as to the possession
     of any talent for it whatever; I do not think I am now deceived as
     to the quantity I can really lay claim to, by the exaggerated
     praises of the public, who have been too long deprived of any
     female object of special interest on the boards to be very nice
     about the first that is presented to them; nor am I unconscious of
     the amount of work that will be requisite to turn my abilities to
     their best use. Wait; have patience; by and by, I hope, I shall do
     better. It is very true that to be the greatest actress of my day
     is not the aim on which my happiness depends. But having embraced
     this career, I think I ought not to rest satisfied with any degree
     of excellence short of what my utmost endeavor will enable me to
     attain in it....

     My print, or rather the print of me, from Sir Thomas Lawrence's
     drawing, is out. He has promised you one, so I do not. There are
     also coming out a series of sketches by Mr. Hayter, from my Juliet,
     with a species of _avant propos_ written by Mrs. Jameson; this will
     interest you, and I will send you a copy of it when it is

     I will tell you a circumstance of much anxious hope to us all just
     now, but as the result is yet uncertain, do not mention it. We have
     a species of offer of a living for my brother John, who, you know,
     is going into the Church. This is a consummation devoutly to be
     wished, and I most sincerely hope we may not be disappointed. He is
     still in Germany, very happy and very metaphysical; should we
     obtain this living, however, I suppose he would return immediately.
     Independently of my wish to see him again, I shall be glad when he
     leaves Germany I think; but I have not time for what I think about
     Germany to-day, and you must be rather tired of

                      Yours most affectionately,
                                                              F. A. K.

Mr. Hayter's graceful sketches of me in Juliet were lithographed and
published with Mrs. Jameson's beautifully written but too flattering
notice of my performance; the original drawings were purchased by Lord
Ellesmere. The second part assigned to me by the theater authorities was
Belvidera, in Otway's "Venice Preserved." I had never read the play
until I learned my part, nor seen it until I acted it. It is, I believe,
one of the longest female parts on the stage. But I had still my
school-girl capacity for committing quickly to memory, and learned it in
three hours. Acting it was a very different matter. I was no longer
sustained by the genius of Shakespeare, no longer stimulated by the
sublime passion and exquisite poetry. Juliet was a reality to me, a
living individual woman, whose nature I could receive, as it were, into
mine at once, without effort, comprehending and expressing it. Belvidera
seemed to me a sort of lay figure in a tragic attitude, a mere, "female
in general," without any peculiar or specific characteristics whatever;
placed as Belvidera is in the midst of sordidly painful and coarsely
agonizing circumstances, there was nothing in the part itself that
affected my feelings or excited my imagination; and the miserable
situations into which the poor creature was thrown throughout the piece
revolted me, and filled me with disgust for the men she had to do with,
without inspiring me with any sympathy for her. In this piece, too, I
came at once into the unfavorable light of full comparison with my
aunt's performance of the part, which was one of her famous ones. A
friend of hers and mine, my dear and excellent William Harness, said
that seeing me was exactly like looking at Mrs. Siddons through the
diminishing end of an opera glass. My personal likeness to her, in spite
of my diminutive size and irregular features, was striking, and of
course suggested, to those who remembered her, associations which were
fatal to my satisfactory performance of the part. I disliked the play
and the character of Belvidera, and I am sure I must have played it very

I remember one circumstance connected with my first performance of it
which proved how painfully the unredeemed horror and wretchedness of the
piece acted upon my nerves and imagination. In the last scene, where
poor Belvidera's brain gives way under her despair, and she fancies
herself digging for her husband in the earth, and that she at last
recovers and seizes him, I intended to utter a piercing scream; this I
had not of course rehearsed, not being able to scream deliberately in
cold blood, so that I hardly knew, myself, what manner of utterance I
should find for my madness. But when the evening came, I uttered shriek
after shriek without stopping, and rushing off the stage ran all round
the back of the scenes, and was pursuing my way, perfectly unconscious
of what I was doing, down the stairs that led out into the street, when
I was captured and brought back to my dressing-room and my senses.

The next piece in which I appeared was Murphy's "Grecian Daughter;" a
feeble and inflated composition, as inferior in point of dramatic and
poetical merit to Otway's "Venice Preserved," as that is to any of
Shakespeare's masterpieces. It has situations of considerable effect,
however, and the sort of parental and conjugal interest that infallibly
strikes sympathetic chords in the _pater familias_ bosom of an English
audience. The choice of the piece had in it, in my opinion, an
ingredient of bad taste, which, objectionable as it seemed to me, had
undoubtedly entered into the calculation of the management, as likely to
increase the effect and success of the play; I mean the constant
reference to Euphrasia's filial devotion, and her heroic and pious
efforts in behalf of her old father--incidents in the piece which were
seized upon and applied to my father and myself by the public, and which
may have perhaps added to the feeling of the audience, as they certainly
increased my dislike for the play. Here, too, I again encountered the
formidable impression which Mrs. Siddons had produced in the part, of
which, in spite of the turbid coldness and stilted emphasis of the
style, she had made a perfect embodiment of heroic grandeur and
classical grace. My Euphrasia was, I am sure, a pitiful picture of an
antique heroine, in spite of Macdonald's enthusiasm for the "attitude"
in the last scene, and my cousin Horace Twiss's comical verdict of
approbation, that it was all good, but especially the scene where "you
tip it the tyrant."

                      JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, January 17, 1830.
     DEAREST H----,

     Although my mind is much occupied just now with a new part in which
     I appear to-morrow, I take advantage of the bodily rest this day
     affords me to write you a few lines, which I fear I might not find
     time for again as soon as I wish. There was enough in your last
     letter, dear H----, to make me melancholy, independently of the
     question which you ask respecting my picture in Juliet, and which
     the papers have by this time probably answered to you.

     Sir Thomas Lawrence is dead. The event has been most distressing,
     and most sudden and unexpected to us. It really seemed as though we
     had seen him but the day before we heard of it; and indeed, it was
     but a few days since my mother had called on him, and since he had
     written to me a long letter on the subject of my Belvidera, full of
     refined taste and acute criticism, as all his letters to me were.
     It was a great shock; indeed, so much so, that absolute amazement
     for a little time prevented my feeing all the regret I have since
     experienced about it. Nor was it till I sat down to write to
     Cecilia, to request her to prevent any sudden communication of the
     event to my aunt Siddons, that I felt it was really true, and found
     some relief in crying. I had to act Belvidera that same night, and
     it was with a very heavy heart that I repeated those passages in
     which poor Sir Thomas Lawrence had pointed out alterations and
     suggested improvements. He is a great loss to me, individually. His
     criticism was invaluable to me. He was a most attentive observer;
     no shade of feeling or slightest variation of action or inflection
     of voice escaped him; his suggestions were _always_ improvements,
     conveyed with the most lucid clearness; and, as you will easily
     believe, his strictures were always sufficiently tempered with
     refined flattery to have disarmed the most sensitive self-love. My
     Juliet and Belvidera both owe much to him, and in this point of
     view alone his loss is irreparable to me. It is some matter of
     regret, too, as you may suppose, that we can have no picture of me
     by him, but this is a more selfish and less important motive of
     sorrow than my loss of his advice in my profession. I understand
     that my aunt Siddons was dreadfully shocked by the news, and cried,
     "And have I lived to see him go before me!" ... His promise to send
     you a print from his drawing of me, dearest H----, he cannot
     perform, but I will be his executor in this instance, and if you
     will tell me how it can be conveyed to you, I will send you one.

     This letter, my dearest H----, which was begun on Sunday, I now sit
     down to finish on Tuesday evening, and cannot do better, I think,
     than give you a full account of our last night's success; for a
     very complete success it was, I am happy to say. Murphy's play of
     "The Grecian Daughter" I suppose you know; or if you do not, your
     state is the more gracious, for certainly anything more flat, poor,
     and trashy I cannot well conceive. It had been, you know, a great
     part of my aunt Siddons's, and nothing better proves her great
     dramatic genius than her having clothed so meager a part in such
     magnificent proportions as she gave to it, and filled out by her
     own poetical conception the bare skeleton Mr. Murphy's Euphrasia
     presented to her. This frightened me a great deal; Juliet and
     Belvidera scarcely anybody can do ill, but Euphrasia I thought few
     people could do well, and I feared I was not one of them. Moreover,
     the language is at once so poor and so bombastic that I took double
     the time in getting the part by rote I should have taken for any
     part of Shakespeare's. My dress was beautiful; I think I will tell
     it you. You know you told me even an account of hat and feathers
     would interest you. My skirt was made immensely full and with a
     long train; it was of white merino, almost as fine as cashmere,
     with a rich gold Grecian border. The drapery which covered my
     shoulders (if you wish to look for the sort of costume in
     engravings, I give you its classical name, _peplum_) was made of
     the same material beautifully embroidered, leaving my arms quite
     free and uncovered. I had on flesh-colored silk gloves, of course.
     A bright scarlet sash with heavy gilt acorns, falling to my feet,
     scarlet sandals to match, and a beautiful Grecian head-dress in
     gold, devised by my mother, completed the whole, which really had a
     very classical effect, the fine material of which my dress was
     formed falling with every movement into soft, graceful folds.

     I managed to keep a good heart until I heard the flourish of drums
     and trumpets, in the midst of which I had to rush on the stage, and
     certainly when I did come on my appearance must have been curiously
     in contrast with the "prave 'ords" I uttered, for I felt like
     nothing but a hunted hare, with my eyes starting from my head, my
     "nostrils all wide," and my limbs trembling to such a degree that I
     could scarcely stand. The audience received me very kindly,
     however, and after a little while I recovered my breath and
     self-possession, and got on very comfortably, considering that,
     what with nervousness and the short time they had had to study them
     in, none of the actors were perfect in their parts. My father acted
     Evander, which added, no doubt, to the interest of the situation.
     The play went off admirably, and I dare say it will be of some
     service to me, but I fear it is too dull and poor in itself,
     despite all that can be done for it, to be of much use to the
     theater. One of my great difficulties in the play was to produce
     some striking effect after stabbing Dionysius, which was a point in
     which my aunt always achieved a great triumph. She used to fall on
     her knees as if deprecating the wrath of heaven for what she had
     done, and her mode of performing this was described to me. But,
     independently of my anxiety to avoid any imitation that might
     induce a comparison that could not but be fatally to my
     disadvantage, I did not (to you I may venture to confess it) feel
     the situation in the same manner. Euphrasia had just preserved her
     father's life by a deed which, in her own estimation and that of
     her whole nation, entitled her to an immortal dwelling in the
     Elysian fields. The only feeling, therefore, that I can conceive as
     checking for a moment her exultation would be the natural womanly
     horror at the sight of blood and physical suffering, the expression
     of which seems to me not only natural to her, as of the "feminine
     gender," but not altogether superfluous to reconcile an English
     audience to so unfeminine a proceeding as stabbing a man. To
     conciliate all this I adopted the course of immediately dropping
     the arm that held the dagger, and with the other veiling my eyes
     with the drapery of my dress, which answered better my own idea of
     the situation, and seemed to produce a great effect. My dearest
     H----, this is a long detail, but I think it will interest you and
     perhaps amuse your niece; if, however, it wearies your spirits,
     tell me so, and another time I will not confine my communications
     so much to my own little-corner of life.

     Cecilia dined with us on Sunday, but was very far from well. I have
     not seen my aunt Siddons since Sir Thomas Lawrence's death. I
     almost dread doing so: she must have felt so much on hearing it; he
     was for many years so mixed up with those dearest to her, and his
     memory must always recall theirs. I hear Campbell means to write
     his life. His letters to me will perhaps be published in it. Had I
     known they were likely to be so used, I would have preserved them
     all. As it is, it is the merest chance that all of them are not
     destroyed; for, admirable as they were in point of taste and
     critical judgment, some of them seemed to me such mere specimens of
     refined flattery that, having extracted the advice likely to be
     profitable to me, I committed the epistles themselves to the
     flames, which probably would have been the ultimate destination of
     them all; but now they have acquired a sad value they had not
     before, and I shall keep them as relics of a man of great genius
     and, in many respects, I believe, a truly amiable person.

     The drawing, which is, you know, my mother's property, is safe in
     Mr. Lane's hands, and will be restored to us on Saturday. The
     funeral takes place to-morrow; my father, I believe, will attend;
     neither my mother nor myself can muster courage to witness it,
     although we had places offered to us. It is to take place in St.
     Paul's, for Westminster Abbey is full. All the beautiful unfinished
     portraits which filled his rooms will be returned imperfect to
     their owners, and I wonder who will venture to complete them, for
     he has certainly not left his like behind him. Reports have been
     widely spread that his circumstances were much embarrassed, but I
     fancy when all his effects are sold there will be a small surplus.
     He behaved with the utmost liberality about his drawing of me, for
     he gave it to my mother, and would not accept of any remuneration
     for the copyright of the print from Mr. Lane--who, it is said, made
     three hundred pounds by the first impressions taken from it--saying
     that he had had so much pleasure in the work that he would not take
     a farthing for either time or trouble.

     We are all tolerably well; I am quite so, and rejoice daily in that
     strength of constitution which, among other of my qualifications,
     entitles me to the appellation of "Shetland pony."

     How are you all? How is E----? Tell her all about me, because it
     may amuse her. I wish you could have seen me, dear H----, in my
     Greek dress; I really look very well in it, and taller than usual,
     in consequence of all the long draperies; moreover, I "stood
     grandly" erect, and put off the "sidelong stoop" in favor of a more
     heroic and statue-like deportment. Oh, H----, I am exceedingly
     happy, _et pour peu de chose_, perhaps you will think: my father
     has given me leave to have riding lessons, so that I shall be in
     right earnest "an angel on horseback," and when I come to Ardgillan
     (and it won't be long first) I shall make you mount upon a horse
     and gallop over the sand with me; won't you, my dear? Believe me
     ever your affectionate


The words in inverted commas at the end of this letter had reference to
some strictures Miss S---- had made upon my carriage, and to a family
joke against me in consequence of my having once said, in speaking of my
desire to ride, that I should not care to be an angel in heaven unless I
could be an "angel on horseback." My invariable description of a woman
riding was "a happy woman," and after much experience of unhappiness,
certainly not dissipated by equestrian exercise, I still agree with
Wordsworth that "the horse and rider are a happy pair." After acting the
Grecian Daughter for some time I altered my attitude in the last scene,
after the murder of Dionysius, more to my own satisfaction: instead of
dropping the arm that held the dagger by my side, I raised the weapon to
heaven, as if appealing to the gods for justification and tendering
them, as it were, the homage of my deed; of course I still continued to
vail my eyes and turn my head away from the sight of my victim.

               JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, Saturday, February 20th.
     DEAREST H----,

     I need hardly apologize to you for my long silence, for I am sure
     that you will have understood it to have proceeded from no want of
     inclination on my part to answer your last, but from really not
     having had half an hour at my command in which to do so. I have
     thought, too (although that has not prevented my writing), much
     upon the tenor of your letter, and the evident depression it was
     written in, and I hardly know how to resolve: whether I ought not
     to forbear wearying you with matters which every way are discordant
     with your own thoughts and feelings, or whether it is better, by
     inducing you to answer me, to give you some motive, however
     trifling, for exertion. Dearest H----, if the effort of writing to
     me is too painful to you, do not do it. I give you a most
     disinterested counsel, for I have told you more than once how much
     I prize your letters, and you know it is true. Still, I do not
     think my "wish is father to my thought" when I say that I think it
     is not good for you to lose entirely even such an interest as I am
     to you. I say "even such an interest," because I believe your
     trouble must have rendered me and my pursuits, for the present at
     least, less likely than they have been to occupy a place in your
     thoughts. But 'tis for you to decide; if my letters weary or annoy
     you, tell me so, dear H----, and I will not write to you until you
     can "follow my paces" better. If you do not like to make the
     exertion of answering me, I will still continue to let you know my
     proceedings, and take it for granted that you will not cease to
     love me and think of me. Dear H----, I shall see you this summer
     again; you, and yours, whom I love for your sake. I shall go on
     with this letter, because if you are inclined for a gossip you can
     read it; and if not, it may perhaps amuse your invalid. I have been
     uncommonly gay, for me, this winter, and I dare say shall continue
     to be so, as it does not disagree with me, and I am so fond of
     dancing that a quadrille renders palatable what otherwise would be,
     I think, disagreeable enough--the manner in which society is now
     organized. I was at a very large party the other night, at the poet
     Campbell's, where every material for a delightful evening--good
     rooms, pretty women, clever men--was brought into requisition to
     make what, after all, appeared to me nothing but a wearisome, hot
     crowd. The apartments were overfilled: to converse with anybody for
     five minutes was impossible. If one stood up one was squeezed to
     death, and if one sat down one was stifled. I, too (who was the
     small lioness of the evening), was subjected to a most disagreeable
     ordeal, the whole night being stared at from head to foot by every
     one that could pass within staring distance of me. You probably
     will wonder at this circumstance distressing a young person who
     three times a week exhibits herself on the stage to several hundred
     people, but there I do not distinguish the individual eyes that are
     fixed on me, and my mind is diverted from the annoyances of my real
     situation by the distressful circumstances of my feigned one.
     Moreover, to add to my sorrows, at the beginning of the evening a
     lady spilled some coffee over a beautiful dress which I was wearing
     for the first time. Now I will tell you what consolations I had to
     support me under these trials; first, the self-approving
     consciousness of the smiling fortitude with which I bore my gown's
     disaster; secondly, a lovely nosegay, which was presented to me;
     and lastly, at about twelve o'clock, when the rooms were a little
     thinned, a dance for an hour which sent me home perfectly satisfied
     with my fate. By the bye, I asked Campbell if he knew any method to
     preserve my flowers from fading, to which he replied, "Give them to
     me, and I will immortalize them." I did so, and am expecting some
     verses from him in return.

     On Thursday next I come out in Mrs. Beverley; I am much afraid of
     it. The play wants the indispensable attribute of all works of
     art--imagination; it is a most touching story, and Mrs. Beverley is
     a most admirable creature, but the story is such as might be read
     in a newspaper, and her character has its like in many an English
     home. I think the author should have idealized both his incidents
     and his heroine a little, to produce a really fine play. Mrs.
     Beverley is not one shade inferior to Imogen in purity, in conjugal
     devotion, and in truth, but while the one is to all intents and
     purposes a model wife, a poet's touch has made of the other a
     divine image of all that is lovely and excellent in woman; and yet,
     certainly, Imogen is quite as _real_ a conception as Mrs. Beverley.
     The absence of the poetical element in the play prevents my being
     enthusiastic about my part, and I am the more nervous about it for
     that reason; when I am excited I feel that I can excite others, but
     in this case--However, we shall see; I may succeed with it better
     than I expect, and perhaps my audience may like to see me as a
     quiet, sober lady, after the Belvideras and Juliets and Euphrasias
     they have hitherto seen me represent. I will tell you my dress: it
     is a silver gray silk, and a white crape hat with drooping
     feathers. I think it will be very pretty. My father acts Beverley
     with me, which will be a great advantage to me.

     Oh! I must tell you of a delightful adventure which befell me the
     other night while I was acting in "The Grecian Daughter." Mr.
     Abbot, who personates my husband, Phocion, at a certain part of the
     play where we have to embrace, thought fit to clasp me so
     energetically in his arms that he threw me down, and fell down
     himself. I fell seated, with all my draperies in most modest order,
     which was very fortunate, but certainly I never was more frightened
     or confused. However, I soon recovered my presence of mind, and
     helped my better half on with his part, for he was quite aghast,
     poor man, at his own exploit, and I do believe would have been
     standing with his eyes and mouth wide open to this moment, if I had
     not managed to proceed with the scene somehow and anyhow.

     I gave the commission for your print of me, dear H----, to
     Colnaghi, and I hope you will like it, and that the more you look
     at it the stronger the likeness will appear to you. Was my brother
     John returned from Germany, when last I wrote to you? I forget.
     However, he has just left us to take his degree at Cambridge,
     previous to being ordained. Henry, too, returned yesterday to
     Paris, so that the house is in mourning for its liveliest inmates.
     I continue quite well, and indeed I think my work agrees with me;
     or if I am a little tired with acting, why, a night's dancing soon
     sets me right again. T---- B---- is in town, and came to see me the
     other day. I like her; she is a gentle, nice person; she is going
     back in a week to Cassiobury. How I wish you and I had wings, and
     that Heath Farm belonged to us! It is coming to the time of year
     when we first became acquainted; and, besides all its associations
     of kindly feeling and affectionate friendship, your image is
     connected in my mind with all the pleasantest things in nature--the
     spring, May blossoms, glow-worms, "bright hill and bosky dell;" and
     it dates from somewhere "twixt the last violet and the earliest
     rose," which is not a quotation, though I have put it in inverted
     commas, but something that just came to the tip of my pen and looks
     like poetry. I must leave off now, for I got leave to stay at home
     to-night to write to you instead of going to the opera, with many
     injunctions that I would go to bed early; so, now it is late, I
     must do so. Good-by, dearest H----; believe me ever

                      Yours most affectionately,

                                                              F. A. K.

     P.S.--This is my summer tour--Bath, Edinburgh, Dublin, Liverpool,
     Manchester, and Birmingham. I am Miss _Fanny_ Kemble, because Henry
     Kemble's daughter, my uncle Stephen's granddaughter, is Miss Kemble
     by right of birth.

The lady who spoiled my pretty cream-colored poplin dress by spilling
coffee on the front of it, instantly, in the midst of her vehement
self-upbraidings and humble apologies for her awkwardness, adopted a
very singular method of appeasing my displeasure and soothing my
distress, by deliberately pouring a spoonful of coffee upon the front
breadth of her own velvet gown. My amazement at this proceeding was
excessive, and it neither calmed my wrath nor comforted my sorrow, but
exasperated me with a sense of her extreme folly and her conviction of
mine. The perpetrator of this singular act of atonement was the
beautiful Julia, eldest daughter of the Adjutant-General, Sir John
Macdonald, and the lady whom the Duke of Wellington pronounced the
handsomest woman in London; a verdict which appeared to me too
favorable, though she certainly was one of the handsomest women in
London. An intimate acquaintance subsisted between her family and ours
for several years, and I was indebted to Sir John Macdonald's
assistance, most kindly exerted in my behalf, for the happiness of
giving my youngest brother his commission in the army, which Sir John
enabled me to purchase in his own regiment; and I was indebted to the
great liberality of Mr. John Murray, the celebrated publisher, for the
means of thus providing for my brother Henry. The generous price
(remuneration I dare not call it) which he gave me for my play of
"Francis the First" obtained for me my brother's commission.

                             JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, March 9th.
     DEAREST H----,

     I have been so busy all this day, signing benefit tickets, that I
     hardly feel as if I could write anything but "25th March, F.A.K."
     Our two last letters crossed on the road, and yours was so kind an
     answer to mine, which you had not yet received, that I feel no
     further scruple in breaking in upon you with the frivolity of my
     worldly occupations and proceedings.

     I was sorry that the newspapers should give you the first account
     of my Mrs. Beverley, but my time is so taken up with "an infinite
     deal of nothing" that I have not had an hour to call my own till
     this evening, and this evening is my only unengaged one for nearly
     three weeks to come.

     The papers will probably have set your mind at ease as to the
     result of my appearance in "The Gamester;" but although they have
     forestalled me in the sum total of the account, there are some
     small details which may perhaps interest you, of which they can
     give you no knowledge. I shall talk to you much of myself, dearest
     H----, and hope it will not weary you; that precious little self is
     just now so fully occupied with its own affairs that I have little
     else to talk of. [I probably also felt much as our kind and most
     comical friend Dessauer used, when he emphatically declared, "Mais,
     je m'interesse extrêmement à ce qui me regarde."]

     I do not think I ever spent a more miserable day than the one in
     which I acted Mrs. Beverley for the first time. Stage nervousness,
     my father and mother both tell me, increases instead of diminishing
     with practice; and certainly, as far as my own limited experience
     goes, I find it so. The first hazard, I should say, was not half so
     fearful as the last; and though on the first night that I ever
     stood upon the stage I thought I never could be more frightened in
     my life, I find that with each new part my fear has augmented in
     proportion as previous success would have rendered it more damaging
     to fail. A stumble at starting would have been bad enough, and
     might have bruised me; but a fall from the height to which I have
     been raised might break my neck, or at any rate cripple me for
     life. I do not believe that to fail in a part would make me
     individually unhappy for a moment; but so much of real importance
     to others, so much of the most serious interests and so much of the
     feelings of those most dear to me, is involved in the continuance
     of my good fortune, that I am in every way justified in dreading a
     failure. These considerations, and their not unnatural result, a
     violent headache and side-ache, together with no very great liking
     for the part (interesting as it is, it is so perfectly prosaic),
     had made me so nervous that the whole of the day was spent in fits
     of crying; and when the curtain drew up, and I was "discovered,"
     I'm sure I must have looked as jaded and tear-worn as poor Mrs.
     Beverley ever did. However, all went well with me till the last
     act, when my father's acting and my own previous state of
     nervousness combined to make my part of the tragedy anything but
     feigning; I sobbed so violently that I could hardly articulate my
     words, and at the last fell upon the dead body of Beverley with a
     hysterical cry that had all the merit of pure nature, if none
     other, to recommend it. Fortunately the curtain fell then, and I
     was carried to my dressing-room to finish my fit in private. The
     last act of that play gives me such pains in my arms and legs, with
     sheer nervous distress, that I am ready to drop down with
     exhaustion at the end of it; and this reminds me of the very
     difficult question which you expect me to answer, respecting the
     species of power which is called into play in the act, so called,
     of _acting_.

     I am the worst reasoner, analyzer, and metaphysician that ever was
     born; and therefore whatever I say on the subject can be worth very
     little, as a reply to your question, but may furnish you with some
     data for making a theory about it for yourself.

     It appears to me that the two indispensable elements of fine acting
     are a certain amount of poetical imagination and a power of
     assumption, which is a good deal the rarer gift of the two; in
     addition to these, a sort of vigilant presence of mind is
     necessary, which constantly looks after and avoids or removes the
     petty obstacles that are perpetually destroying the imaginary
     illusion, and reminding one in one's own despite that one is not
     really Juliet or Belvidera. The curious part of acting, to me, is
     the sort of double process which the mind carries on at once, the
     combined operation of one's faculties, so to speak, in
     diametrically opposite directions; for instance, in that very last
     scene of Mrs. Beverley, while I was half dead with crying in the
     midst of the real grief, created by an entirely unreal cause, I
     perceived that my tears were falling like rain all over my silk
     dress, and spoiling it; and I calculated and measured most
     accurately the space that my father would require to fall in, and
     moved myself and my train accordingly in the midst of the anguish I
     was to feign, and absolutely did endure. It is this watchful
     faculty (perfectly prosaic and commonplace in its nature), which
     never deserts me while I am uttering all that exquisite passionate
     poetry in Juliet's balcony scene, while I feel as if my own soul
     was on my lips, and my color comes and goes with the intensity of
     the sentiment I am expressing; which prevents me from falling over
     my train, from setting fire to myself with the lamps placed close
     to me, from leaning upon my canvas balcony when I seem to throw
     myself all but over it. In short, while the whole person appears to
     be merely following the mind in producing the desired effect and
     illusion upon the spectator, both the intellect and the senses are
     constantly engrossed in guarding against the smallest accidents
     that might militate against it; and while representing things
     absolutely imaginary, they are taking accurate cognizance of every
     real surrounding object that can either assist or mar the result
     they seek to produce. This seems to me by far the most singular
     part of the process, which is altogether a very curious and
     complicated one. I am glad you got my print safe; it is a very
     beautiful thing (I mean the drawing), and I am glad to think that
     it is like me, though much flattered. I suppose it is like what
     those who love me have sometimes seen me, but to the majority of my
     acquaintance it must appear unwarrantably good-looking. The effect
     of it is much too large for me, but when my mother ventured to
     suggest this to Lawrence, he said that that was a peculiarity of
     his drawings, and that he thought persons familiar with his style
     would understand it.

     My dearest H----, you express something of regret at my necessity
     (I can hardly call it choice) of a profession. There are many times
     when I myself cannot help wishing it might have been otherwise; but
     then come other thoughts: the talent which I possess for it was, I
     suppose, given to me for some good purpose, and to be used.
     Nevertheless, when I reflect that although hitherto my profession
     has not appeared to me attractive enough to engross my mind, yet
     that admiration and applause, and the excitement springing
     therefrom, may become necessary to me, I resolve not only to watch
     but to pray against such a result. I have no desire to sell my soul
     for anything, least of all for sham fame, mere notoriety. Besides,
     my mind has such far deeper enjoyment in other pursuits; the
     happiness of reading Shakespeare's heavenly imaginations is so far
     beyond all the excitement of acting them (white satin, gas lights,
     applause, and all), that I cannot conceive a time when having him
     in my hand will not compensate for the absence of any amount of
     public popularity. While I can sit obliviously curled up in an
     armchair, and read what he says till my eyes are full of delicious,
     quiet tears, and my heart of blessed, good, quiet thoughts and
     feelings, I shall not crave that which falls so far short of any
     real enjoyment, and hitherto certainly seems to me as remote as
     possible from any real happiness.

     This enviable condition of body and mind was mine while studying
     Portia in "The Merchant of Venice," which is to be given on the
     25th for my benefit. I shall be much frightened, I know, but I
     delight in the part; indeed, Portia is my favoritest of all
     Shakespeare's women. She is so generous, affectionate, wise, so
     arch and full of fun, and such a true lady, that I think if I could
     but convey her to my audience as her creator has conveyed her to
     me, I could not fail to please them much. I think her speech to
     Bassanio, after his successful choice of the casket, the most
     lovely, tender, modest, dignified piece of true womanly feeling
     that was ever expressed by woman.

     I certainly ought to act that character well, I do so delight in
     it; I know nothing of my dress. But perhaps I shall have some
     opportunity of writing to you again before it is acted. Now all I
     have to say must be packed close, for I ought to be going to bed,
     and I have no more paper. I have taken two riding lessons and like
     it much, though it makes my bones ache a little. I go out a great
     deal, and that I like very much whenever there is dancing, but not
     else. My own home spoils me for society; perhaps I ought not to say
     it, but after the sort of conversation I am used to the usual
     jargon of society seems poor stuff; but you know when I am dancing
     I am "o'er all the ills of life victorious." John has taken his
     degree and will be back with us at Easter; Henry has left us for
     Paris; A---- is quite well, and almost more of a woman than I am;
     my father desires his love to you, to which I add mine to your
     eldest niece and your invalid, and remain ever your affectionately

                                                              F. A. K.

     MY DEAREST H----,

     I was exceedingly glad to receive your letter. You ask me for my
     own criticism on my Portia; you know that I think I am able to do
     myself tolerably impartial justice, which may be a great mistake;
     but whether it is or not, I request you will believe the following
     account in preference to any other report, newspaper or letter,
     public or private, whatever.

     In the first place, on my benefit night (my first appearance in the
     part) I was so excessively nervous about it, and so shaken with the
     tremendous uproar the audience made with their applause, that I
     consider that performance entirely out of the pale of criticism,
     and quite unworthy of it. I was _frightened_ FLAT to a degree I
     could hardly have believed possible after my previous experience.

     I am happy to think that I improve in the part, and sincerely hope
     that I shall continue to do so for some time. The principal defect
     of my acting in it is that it wants point--brilliancy. I do not do
     the trial scene one bit better or worse than the most mediocre
     actress would, and although the comic scenes are called delightful
     by people whose last idea of comedy was borrowed from Miss C---- or
     Miss F----, my mother says (and I believe her) they are very
     _vapid_. The best thing I do in the play (and I think it is the
     best thing I do at all, except Juliet's balcony scene) is the scene
     of the caskets, with Bassanio, and this I think I do _well_. But
     the scene is of so comparatively subdued, quiet, and uneffective a
     nature that I think the occupants of the stage boxes and the first
     three rows of the pit must be the only part of the audience who
     know anything about my acting of that portion of the play. I like
     the part better than any I have yet played. I delight in the
     poetry, and my heart goes with every sentiment Portia utters. I
     have a real satisfaction in acting it, which is more than I can say
     for anything else I have yet had to do. Juliet, with the exception
     of the balcony scene, I act; but I feel as if I _were_ Portia--and
     how I wish I were! It is not a part that is generally much liked by
     actresses, or that excites much enthusiasm in the public; there are
     no violent situations with which to (what is called) "bring the
     house down." Even the climax of the piece, the trial scene, I
     should call, as far as Portia is concerned, rather grand and
     impressive than strikingly or startlingly effective; and with the
     exception of that, the whole character is so delicate, so nicely
     blended, so true, and so free from all exaggeration, that it seems
     to me hardly fit for a theater, much less one of our immense
     houses, which require acting almost as _splashy_ and coarse in
     color and outline as the scene-painting of the stage is obliged to
     be. Covent Garden is too large a frame for that exquisite,
     harmonious piece of portrait painting. This is a long lecture, but
     I hope it will not be an uninteresting one to you; and now let me
     tell you something of my dresses, which cost my poor mother sad
     trouble, and were really beautiful. My first was an open skirt of
     the palest pink levantine, shot with white and the deepest
     rose-color (it was like a gown made of strawberries and cream), the
     folds of which, as the light fell upon them, produced the most
     beautiful shades of shifting hues possible. The under-dress was a
     very pale blue satin, brocaded with silver, of which my sleeves
     were likewise made; the fashion of the costume was copied from
     sundry pictures of Titian and Paul Veronese--the pointed body, cut
     square over the bosom and shoulders, with a full white muslin shirt
     drawn round my neck, and wide white sleeves within the large blue
     and silver brocade ones. _Comprenez-vous_ all this? My head was
     covered with diamonds (_not real_; I'm anxious for my character),
     and what delighted me much more was that I had jewels in the roses
     of my shoes. I think if I had been Portia I never would have worn
     any ornaments but two large diamonds in my shoe bows. You see, it
     shows a pretty good stock of diamonds and a careless superiority to
     such possessions to wear them on one's feet. Now pray don't laugh
     at me, I was so enchanted with my fine shoes! This was my first
     dress; the second was simply the doctor's black gown, with a
     curious little authentic black velvet hat, which was received with
     immense applause when I put it on; I could hardly keep my
     countenance at the effect my hat produced. My third dress, my own
     favorite, was made exactly like the first, the ample skirt gathered
     all round into the stomacher body; the material was white satin,
     trimmed with old point lace and Roman pearls, with a most beautiful
     crimson velvet hat, a perfect Rubens, with one sweeping white
     feather falling over it....

     We are spending our holiday of Passion week here for the sake of a
     little quiet and fresh air; we had intended going to Dover, but
     were prevented. You ask me after my mother: she is pretty well now,
     but her health is extremely uncertain, and her spirits, which are
     likewise very variable, have so much influence over it that her
     condition fluctuates constantly; she has been very well, though,
     for the last few days. London, I think, never agrees with her, and
     we have been racketing to such a degree that quiet had become not
     only desirable but necessary. Thank you for wishing me plenty of
     dancing. I have abundance of it, and like it extremely; but I fear
     I am very unreasonable about it, for my conscience smote me the
     other day when I came to consider that the night before, although
     my mother had stayed at a ball with me till three in the morning, I
     was by no means gracious in my obedience to her request that I
     should spare myself for my work. You see, dear H----, I am much the
     same as ever, still as foolishly fond of dancing, and still, I
     fear, almost as far from "begetting a temperance in all things" as
     when you and I wandered about Heath Farm together.

     We met with a comical little adventure the other evening. We were
     wandering over the common, and encountered two gypsies. I always
     had desired to have my fortune told, so A---- and I each seized
     hold of a sibyl and listened to our fates.

     After predicting to me all manner of good luck and two lovers, and
     foretelling that I should marry blue eyes (which I will not), the
     gypsy went up to my father, and began, "Pray, sir, let me tell your
     fortune: you have been much wronged, sir, kept out of your rights,
     sir, and what belonged to you, sir,--and that by them as you
     thought was your friends, sir." My father turned away laughing, but
     my mother, with a face of amazed and amazing credulity, put her
     hand in her pocket, exclaiming, "I must give her something for
     that, though!" Isn't that delicious?

     Oh, H----! how hard it is to do right and be good! But to be sure,
     "if to do were as easy as to know what were good to be done," etc.
     How I wish I could have an hour's talk with you! I have so much to
     say, and I have neither time nor paper to say it in; so I must
     leave off.

     Good-by, God bless you; pray look forward to the pleasure of seeing
     me, and believe me ever

                          Your affectionate
                                                              F. A. K.

The house where I used to visit at Lea, in the neighborhood of
Blackheath, was a girls' school, kept by ladies of the name of Grimani,
in which my aunt Victoire Decamp was an assistant governess. These
ladies were descended from a noble Venetian family, of which the
Reverend Julian Young, their nephew, has given an account in his
extremely interesting and amusing memoir of his father; his mother,
Julia Grimani, being the sister of my kind friends, the directresses of
the Blackheath school. One of these, Bellina Grimani, a charming and
attractive woman, who was at one time attached to the household of the
ill-fated and ill-conducted Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales,
died young and single. The elder Miss Grimani married a Mr. H---- within
a few years. Though I have never in the intervening fifty years met with
them, I have seen two ladies who were nieces of Miss Grimani, and pupils
in her school when I was a small visitor there. My principal
recollections connected with the place were the superior moral
excellence of one of these damsels, E---- B----, who was held up before
my unworthy eyes as a model of school-girl virtue, at once to shame and
encourage me; Bellina Grimani's sweet face and voice; some very fine
cedar trees on the lawn, and a picture in the drawing-room of Prospero
with his three-year-old Miranda in a boat in the midst of a raging sea,
which work of art used to shake my childish bosom with a tragical
passion of terror and pity, invariably ending in bitter tears. I was
much spoiled and very happy during my visits to Lea, and had a blissful
recollection of the house, garden, and whole place that justified my
regret in not being able, while staying at Blackheath fifteen years
after, to find or identify it.


                                JAMES STREET, BUCKINGHAM GATE, May 2d.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I received your kind letter the other night (that is, morning) on
     my return from a ball, and read your reflections on dissipation
     with an attention heightened by the appropriate comment of a bad
     headache and abject weariness from top to toe with dancing. The way
     in which people _prosecute_ their pleasures in this good town of
     London is certainly amazing; and we are (perforce) models of
     moderation, compared with most of our acquaintance. I met at that
     very ball persons who had been to one and two parties previously,
     and were leaving that dance to hurry to another. Independently of
     the great fatigue of such a life, it seems to me so strange that
     when people are enjoying themselves to their hearts' content in one
     place, they cannot be satisfied to remain there until they wish to
     return home, but spend half the night in the streets, running from
     one house to another, working their horses to death, and wasting
     the precious time when they might be DANCING. You see my folly is
     not so great but that I have philosophy to spare for my neighbors.
     Let me tell you again, dear H----, how truly I rejoice in your
     niece's restored health. The spring, too, is the very time for such
     a resurrection, when every day and every hour, every cloud and
     every flower, offer inexhaustible matter for the capabilities of
     delight thus regained. Indeed, "the drops on the trees are the most
     beautiful of all!" [E---- T----'s exclamation during one of her
     first drives after the long imprisonment of her nervous malady.] A
     wonderful feeling of renewed hope seems to fill the heart of all
     created things in the spring, and even here in this smoky town it
     finds its way to us, inclosed as we are by brick walls, dusty
     streets, and all things unlovely and unnatural! I stood yesterday
     in the little court behind our house, where two unhappy poplars and
     a sycamore tree were shaking their leaves as if in surprise at the
     acquisition and to make sure they had them, and looked up to the
     small bit of blue sky above them with pleasurable spring tears in
     my eyes. How I wish I were rich and could afford to be out of town
     now! I always dislike London, and this lovely weather gives me a
     sort of _mal du pays_ for the country. My dearest H----, you must
     not dream of leaving Ardgillan just when I am coming to see you;
     that would be indeed a disappointment. My father is not at home at
     this moment, but I shall ask him before I close this letter the
     exact time when we shall be in Dublin. I look forward with much
     pleasure to making my aunt Dall known to you. She is, I am happy to
     say, coming with me, for indeed she is in some sense my "all the
     world." You have often heard me speak of her, but it is difficult
     for words to do justice to one whose whole life is an uninterrupted
     stream of usefulness, goodness, and patient devotion to others. I
     know but one term that, as the old writers say, "delivers" her
     fully, and though it is not unfrequently applied, I think she is
     the only person I know who really deserves it; she is _absolutely
     unselfish_. I am sure, dear H----, you will excuse this panegyric,
     though you do not know how well it is deserved; the proof of its
     being so is that there is not one of us but would say the same of
     aunt Dall.

     My father's benefit took place last Wednesday, when I acted
     Isabella; the house was crowded, and the play very successful; I
     think I played it well, and I take credit to myself for so doing,
     for I dislike both play and part extremely. The worst thing I do in
     it is the soliloquy when I am about to stab Biron, and the best, my
     death. My dresses were very beautiful, and I am exceedingly glad
     the whole thing is over. I suppose it will be my last new part this
     season. I am reading with great pleasure a purified edition, just
     published, of the old English dramatists; the work, as far as my
     ignorance of the original plays will enable me to judge, seems very
     well executed, and I owe the editor many thanks for some happy
     hours spent with his book. I have just heard something which annoys
     me not a little: I am to prepare to act Mrs. Haller. I know very
     well that nobody was ever at liberty in this world to do what they
     liked and that only; but when I know with what task-like feeling I
     set about most of my work, I am both amused and provoked when
     people ask me if I do not delight in acting. I have not an idea
     what to do with that part; however, I must apply myself to it, and
     try; such mawkish sentiment, and such prosaic, commonplace language
     seem to me alike difficult to feel and to deliver.

     My dear H----, I shall be in Ireland the whole month of July. I am
     coming first to Dublin, and shall afterward go to Cork. You really
     must not be away when I come, for if you are, I won't come, which
     is good Irish, isn't it? I do not feel as you do, at all, about the
     sea. Instead of depressing my spirits, it always raises them; it
     seems to me as if the vast power of the great element communicated
     itself to me. I feel _strong_, as I run by the side of the big
     waves, with something of their strength, and the same species of
     wild excitement which thunder and lightning produce in me always
     affects me by the sea-shore. I never saw the sea but once violently
     agitated, and then I was so well pleased with its appearance that I
     took a boat and went out into the bustle, singing with all my
     might, which was the only vent I could find for my high spirits; it
     is true that I returned in much humiliation, very seasick, after a
     short "triumph of Galatea" indeed.

     You ask me in one of your last why I do not send you verses any
     more, as I used to do, and whether I still write any. So here I
     send you some which I improvised the other day in your honor, and
     which, written hurriedly as they were, will not, I think, stand the
     test of any very severe criticism:--

        Whene'er I recollect the happy time
        When you and I held converse sweet together,
        There come a thousand thoughts of sunny weather,
        Of early blossoms, and the young year's prime.
        Your memory lives for ever in my mind,
        With all the fragrant freshness of the spring,
        With odorous lime and silver hawthorn twined,
        And mossy rest and woodland wandering.
        There's not a thought of you but brings along
        Some sunny glimpse of river, field, and sky;
        Your voice sets words to the sweet blackbird's song,
        And many a snatch of wild old melody;
        And as I date it still our love arose
        'Twixt the last violet and the earliest rose.

     I never go anywhere without a book wherein I may scratch my
     valuable ideas, and therefore when we meet I will show you my
     present receptacle. I take great delight in writing, and write less
     incorrectly than I used to do. I have not time now to go on with
     this letter, and as I am anxious you should know when to expect us,
     I shall not defer it in the hope of making it more amusing, though
     I fear it is rather dull. But you will not mind that, and will
     believe me ever your affectionate

                                                         FANNY KEMBLE.

The arrangement of Massinger for the family library by my friend the
Reverend Alexander Dyce, the learned Shakespearean editor and
commentator, was my first introduction to that mine of dramatic wealth
which enriched the literature of England in the reigns of Elizabeth and
James the First, and culminated in the genius of Shakespeare. It is by
comparison with them, his contemporaries, that we arrive at a just
estimate of his supremacy. I was so enchanted with these plays of
Massinger's, but more especially with the one called "The Maid of
Honor," that I never rested till I had obtained from the management its
revival on the stage. The part of Camiola is the only one that I ever
selected for myself. "The Maid of Honor" succeeded on its first
representation, but failed to attract audiences. Though less defective
than most of the contemporaneous dramatic compositions, the play was
still too deficient in interest to retain the favor of the public. The
character of Camiola is extremely noble and striking, but that of her
lover so unworthy of her that the interest she excites personally fails
to inspire one with sympathy for her passion for him. The piece in this
respect has a sort of moral incoherency, which appears to me, indeed,
not an infrequent defect in the compositions of these great dramatic
pre-Shakespearites. There is a want of psychical verisimilitude, a
disjointed abruptness, in their conceptions, which, in spite of their
grand treatment of separate characters and the striking force of
particular passages, renders almost every one of their plays
inharmonious as a whole, however fine and powerful in detached parts.
Their selection of abnormal and detestable subjects is a distinct
indication of intellectual weakness instead of vigor; supreme genius
alone perceives the beauty and dignity of human nature and human life in
their common conditions, and can bring to the surface of vulgar,
every-day existence the hidden glory that lies beneath it.

The strictures contained in these girlish letters on the various plays
in which I was called to perform the heroines, of course partake of the
uncompromising nature of all youthful verdicts. Hard, sharp, and
shallow, they never went lower than the obvious surface of things, and
dealt easily, after the undoubting youthful fashion, with a main result,
without any misgiving as to conflicting causes or painful anxiety about
contradictory component parts. At the beginning of life, the ignorant
moral and intellectual standard alike have definite form and decided
color; time, as it goes on, dissolves the outline into vague
indistinctness, and reveals lights and shades so various and
innumerable, that toward the end of life criticism grows diffident,
opinion difficult, and positive judgment almost impossible.

My first London season was now drawing to an end, and preparations were
begun for a summer tour in the provinces. There had been some talk of my
beginning with Brighton, but for some reason or other this fell through.

                                                   BATH, May 31, 1830.
     MY DEAR H----,

     I have owed you an answer, and a most grateful one, for some time
     past, for your kindness in writing me so long a letter as your
     last; but when I assure you that, what with leave-taking, trying on
     dresses, making purchases, etc., etc., and all the preparations for
     our summer tour, this is the first moment in which I have been able
     to draw a long breath for the last month, I am sure you will
     forgive me, and believe, notwithstanding my long silence, that I
     was made very happy indeed by your letter. I bade Covent Garden and
     my dear London audience farewell on Friday last, when I acted Lady
     Townley for the first time. The house was crammed, and as the
     proprietors had fixed that night for a second benefit which they
     gave me, I was very glad that it was so. I was very nicely dressed,
     and to my own fancy acted well, though I dare say my performance
     was a little flat occasionally. But considering my own physical
     powers, and the immense size of the theatre, I do not think I
     should have done better on the whole by acting more broadly; though
     I suppose it would have been more effective, I should have had to
     sacrifice something of repose and refinement to make it so. I was
     very sorry to leave my London audience: they welcomed my first
     appearance; they knew the history of our shipwrecked fortunes, and
     though perhaps not one individual amongst them would go a mile out
     of his way to serve us, there exists in them, taken collectively, a
     kind feeling and respect for my father, and an indulgent good-will
     toward me, which I do not hope to find elsewhere. I like Bath very
     much; I have not been here since I was six years old, when I spent
     a year here in hopes of being _bettered_ by my aunt, Mrs. Twiss. A
     most forlorn hope it was. I suppose in human annals there never
     existed a more troublesome little brat than I was for the few years
     after my first appearance on this earthly stage.

     This town reminds me a little of Edinburgh. How glad I shall be to
     see Edinburgh once more! I expect much pleasure, too, from the
     pleasure of my aunt Dall, who some years ago spent some very happy
     time in Edinburgh, and who loves it from association. And then,
     dear H----, I am looking forward to seeing you once more; I shall
     be with you somewhere in the beginning of June. I have had my first
     rehearsal here this morning, "Romeo and Juliet;" the theatre is
     much smaller than Covent Garden, which rather inconveniences me, as
     a novelty, but the audience will certainly benefit by it. My
     fellow-laborers amuse me a good deal; their versions of Shakespeare
     are very droll. I wonder what your Irish ones will be. I am
     fortunate in my Romeo, inasmuch as he is one of my cousins; he has
     the family voice and manner very strongly, and at any rate does not
     murder the text of Shakespeare. I have no more time to spare now,
     for I must get my tea and go to the theater. I must tell you,
     though, of an instance of provincial prudery (delicacy, I suppose I
     ought to call it) which edified us not a little at rehearsal this
     morning: the Mercutio, on seeing the nurse and Peter, called out,
     "A sail, a sail!" and terminated the speech in a significant
     whisper, which, being literally inaudible, my mother, who was with
     me on the stage, very innocently asked, "Oh, does the gentleman
     leave out the shirt and the smock?" upon which we were informed
     that "body linen" was not so much as to be hinted at before a truly
     refined Bath audience. How particular we are growing--_in word!_ I
     am much afraid my father will shock them with the speech of that
     scamp Mercutio in all its pristine purity and precision. Good-by,
     dear H----. Ever your affectionate

                                                              F. A. K.

     P.S.--My mother desires to be particularly remembered to you. I
     want to revive Massinger's "Maid of Honor;" I want to act Camiola.

The necessity for carrying with us into the provinces a sufficient
number of various parts, and especially of plays in which my father and
myself could fill the principal characters, and so be tolerably
independent of incompetent coadjutors, was the reason of my coming out
in the play of "The Provoked Husband," before leaving London. The
passage in this letter about Lady Townley sufficiently shows how bad my
performance of it must have been, and how absolutely in the dark I was
with regard to the real style in which the part should be played. The
fine lady of my day, with the unruffled insipidity of her _low_ spirits
(high spirits never came near her) and the imperturbable composure of
her smooth insolence, was as unlike the rantipole, racketing high-bred
woman of fashion of Sir John Vanbrugh's play as the flimsy elegance of
my silver-embroidered, rose-colored tulle dress was unlike the elaborate
splendor of her hooped and feathered and high-heeled, patched-and-powdered
magnificence, with its falling laces and standing brocades. The part of
Lady Townley was not only beyond my powers, but has never been seen on
the English stage since the days of Mrs. Abington and Miss Farren, the
latter elegant and spirited actress being held by those who had seen
both less like the original great lady than her predecessor; while even
the Théâtre Français, where consummate study and reverend tradition of
elder art still prevail, has lost more and more the secret of _la grande
manière_ in a gradual descent from the _grande dame_ of Mademoiselle
Contat to the pretty, graceful _femme comme il faut_ of Mademoiselle
Plessis; for even the exquisite Célimène of Mademoiselle Mars was but a
"pale reflex" of Molière's brilliant coquette, as played by her great
instructress, Contat. The truth is, that society no longer possesses or
produces that creature, and a good deal of reading, not of a usual or
agreeable kind, would alone make one familiar enough with Lady Townley
and her like to enable an actress of the present day to represent her
with any verisimilitude. The absurd practice, too, of dressing all the
serious characters of the piece in modern costume, and all the comic
ones in that of the time at which it was written, renders the whole
ridiculously incoherent and manifestly impossible, and destroys it as a
picture of the manners of any time; for even stripped of her hoop and
powder, and her more flagrant coarseness of speech, Lady Townley is
still as unlike, in manners, language, and deportment, any modern lady,
as she is unlike the woman of fashion of Hogarth's time, whose costume
she has discarded.

The event fully justified my expectation of far less friendly audiences
out of London than those I had hitherto made my appeals to. None of the
personal interest that was felt for me there existed elsewhere, and I
had to encounter the usual opposition, always prepared to cavil, in the
provinces, at the metropolitan verdict of merit, as a mere exhibition of
independent judgment; and to make good to the expectations of the
country critics the highly laudatory reports of the London press, by
which the provincial judges scorned to have a decision imposed upon
them. Not unnaturally, therefore, I found a much less fervid enthusiasm
in my audiences--who were, I dare say, quite justified in their
disappointment--and a far less eulogistic tone in the provincial press
with regard to my performances. Our houses, however, were always very
crowded, which was the essential point, and for my own part I was quite
satisfied with the notices and applause which were bestowed on me. My
cousin, John Mason, was the Romeo to whom I have referred in this
letter. He was my father's sister's son, and, like so many members of
our family, he and one of his brothers and his sister had made the stage
their profession. He had some favorable physical qualifications for it:
a rather striking face, handsome figure, good voice, and plenty of fire
and energy; he was tolerably clever and well-informed, but without
either imagination or refinement. My father, who thought there was the
making of a good actor in him, was extremely kind to him.

                                       GLASGOW, MONDAY, June 28, 1830.

     I believe that you will have felt too well convinced that I had not
     had a moment to spare, to be surprised at my not having sooner
     acknowledged your very kind letter; nothing but the incessant
     occupation of my time would so long have prevented me from doing
     so, but I embrace the opportunity which the king's death affords me
     of telling you how much obliged to you I was for writing to me, and
     writing as you did. I have little news to return you but what
     concerns myself, but I shall make no coquettish excuses about that,
     for I really believe 'tis the subject that will interest you most
     of any I could find. First, then, I am very well, rather tired, and
     sitting at an inn window, in a dull, dark, handsome square in
     Glasgow. My fortnight in Edinburgh is over, and a short fortnight
     it has been, what with rehearsals, riding, sitting for my bust, and
     acting. The few hurried glimpses I have caught of my friends have
     been like dreams, and now that I have parted from them, no more to
     meet them there certainly, the whole seems to me like mere
     bewilderment, and I repeat to myself in my thoughts, hardly
     believing it, that the next time that I visit Edinburgh I shall not
     find the dear companionship of my cousins nor the fond affection of
     Mrs. Henry Siddons. This will be a severe loss to me; Edinburgh
     will, I fear, be without its greatest charm, and it will remain to
     be proved whether these lovely scenes that I have so admired and
     delighted in owed all their incomparable fascination to their
     intrinsic beauty, or to that most pleasurable frame of mind I
     enjoyed at the same time, the consciousness of the kind regard of
     the excellent human beings among whom I lived.

     You will naturally expect me to say something of my theatrical
     experiences in the modern Athens. Our houses have been very fine,
     our audiences (as is their national nature) very cold; but upon the
     whole I believe they were well pleased with us, notwithstanding the
     damping influence of the newspapers, which have one and all been
     unfavorable to me. The deathlike stillness of the audience, as it
     afforded me neither rest nor stimulus, distressed me a good deal;
     which, I think I need not tell you, the newspaper criticisms did
     not. I was surprised, in reading them, to find how very generally
     their strictures were confined to my external disadvantages,--my
     diminutive stature and defective features; and that these far-famed
     northern critics discussed these rather than what I should have
     expected them to bestow their consideration upon, the dramatic
     artist's conception of character, and his (or her) execution of
     that conception. But had their verdicts been still more severe, I
     have a sufficient consolation in two notes of Sir Walter Scott's,
     written to the editor of one of the papers, Ballantyne, his own
     particular friend, which the latter sent me, and where he bears
     such testimony to my exertions as I do not care to transcribe, for
     fear my cheeks should reflect a lasting blush on my paper, but
     which I keep as a treasure and shall certainly show you with pride
     and pleasure when we meet.

     Among the delightful occurrences of last week, I must record our
     breakfasting with Walter Scott. I was wonderfully happy. To whom,
     since Shakespeare, does the reading world owe so many hours of
     perfect, peaceful pleasure, of blessed forgetfulness of all things
     miserable and mean in its daily life? The party was a small but
     interesting one: Sir Walter and his daughter Anne, his old friend
     Sir Adam Ferguson and Lady Ferguson, and Miss Ferrier, the
     authoress of "Marriage" and "Inheritance," with both which capital
     books I hope, for your own sake, you are acquainted. Sir Walter was
     most delightful, and I even forgot all awful sense of his celebrity
     in his kind, cordial, and almost affectionate manner toward me. He
     is exceedingly like all the engravings, pictures, and busts of him
     with which one is familiar, and it seems strange that so varied and
     noble an intellect should be expressed in the features of a shrewd,
     kindly, but not otherwise striking countenance. He told me several
     things that interested me very much; among others, his being
     present at the time when, after much searching, the regalia of
     Scotland was found locked up in a room in Edinburgh Castle, where,
     as he said, the dust of centuries had accumulated upon it, and
     where the ashes of fires lit more than two hundred years before
     were still lying in the grate. He told me a story that made me cry,
     of a poor old lady upward of eighty years of age, who belonged to
     one of the great Jacobite families,--she was a Maxwell,--sending to
     him at the time the Scottish crown was found, to implore permission
     to see it but for one instant; which (although in every other case
     the same petition had been refused) was granted to her in
     consideration of her great age and the vital importance she seemed
     to attach to it. I never shall forget his describing her when first
     she saw it, appearing for a moment petrified at sight of it, and
     then tottering forward and falling down on her knees, and weeping
     and wailing over these poor remains of the royalty of her country
     as if it had been the dead body of her child.

     Sir Adam Ferguson is a delightful person, whose quick, bustling
     manner forms a striking contrast to Walter Scott's quiet tone of
     voice and deliberate enunciation I have also made acquaintance with
     Jeffrey, who came and called upon us the other morning, and, I
     hear, like some of his fellow-townsmen, complains piteously that I
     am not prettier. Indeed, I am very sorry for it, and I heartily
     wish I were; but I did not think him handsome either, and I wonder
     why he is not handsomer? though I don't care so much about his want
     of beauty as he seems to do about mine. But I am running on at a
     tremendous rate, and quite forget that I have traveled upward of
     forty miles to-day, and that I promised my mother, whenever I
     could, to go to bed early. Good-by, my dear Mrs. Jameson. I hope
     you will be able to make out this scrawl, and to decipher that I am
     yours affectionately,

                                                         F. A. KEMBLE.

Of the proverbial frigidity of the Edinburgh public I had been
forewarned, and of its probably disheartening effect upon myself. Mrs.
Harry Siddons had often told me of the intolerable sense of depression
with which it affected Mrs. Siddons, who, she said, after some of her
grandest outbursts of passion, to which not a single expression of
applause or sympathy had responded, exhausted and breathless with the
effort she had made, would pant out in despair, under her breath,
"Stupid people, stupid people!" Stupid, however, they undoubtedly were
not, though, as undoubtedly, their want of excitability and
demonstrativeness diminished their own pleasure by communicating itself
to the great actress and partially paralyzing her powers. That this
habitual reserve sometimes gave way to very violent exhibitions of
enthusiasm, the more fervent from its general repression, there is no
doubt; and I think it was in Edinburgh that my friend, Mr. Harness, told
me the whole of the sleep-walking scene in "Macbeth" had once been so
vehemently encored that my aunt was literally obliged to go over it a
second time, before the piece was allowed to proceed.

Scott's opinion of my acting, which would, of course, have been very
valuable to me, let it have been what it would, was written to his
friend and editor (_eheu!_), Ballantyne, who was also the editor of one
of the principal Edinburgh papers, in which unfavorable criticisms of my
performances had appeared, and in opposition to which Sir Walter Scott
told him he was too hard upon me, and that for his part he had seen
nothing so good since Mrs. Siddons. This encouraging verdict was
courteously forwarded to me by Mr. Ballantyne himself, who said he was
sure I would like to possess it. The first time I ever saw Walter Scott,
my father and myself were riding slowly down Princes Street, up which
Scott was walking; he stopped my father's horse, which was near the
pavement, and desired to be introduced to me. Then followed a string of
cordial invitations which previous engagements and our work at the
theater forbade our accepting, all but the pressing one with which he
wound up, that we would at least come and breakfast with him. The first
words he addressed to me as I entered the room were, "You appear to be a
very good horsewoman, which is a great merit in the eyes of an old
Border-man." Every _r_ in which sentence was rolled into a combination
of double _u_ and double _r_ by his Border burr, which made it memorable
to me by this peculiarity of his pleasant speech. My previous
acquaintance with Miss Ferrier's admirable novels would have made me
very glad of the opportunity of meeting her, and I should have thought
Sir Adam Ferguson delightfully entertaining, but that I could not bear
to lose, while listening to any one else, a single word spoken by Walter

I never can forget, however, the description Sir Adam Ferguson gave me
of a morning he had passed with Scott at Abbotsford, which at that time
was still unfinished, and, swarming with carpenters, painters, masons,
and bricklayers, was surrounded with all the dirt and disorderly
discomfort inseparable from the process of house-building. The room they
sat in was in the roughest condition which admitted of their occupying
it, at all; the raw, new chimney smoked intolerably. Out-of-doors the
whole place was one chaos of bricks, mortar, scaffolding, tiles, and
slates. A heavy mist shrouded the whole landscape of lovely Tweed side,
and distilled in a cold, persistent, and dumb drizzle. Maida, the
well-beloved staghound, kept fidgeting in and out of the room, Walter
Scott every five minutes exclaiming, "Eh, Adam! the puir brute's just
wearying to get out;" or, "Eh, Adam! the puir creature's just crying to
come in;" when Sir Adam would open the door to the raw, chilly air for
the wet, muddy hound's exit or entrance, while Scott, with his face
swollen with a grievous toothache, and one hand pressed hard to his
cheek, with the other was writing the inimitably humorous opening
chapters of "The Antiquary," which he passed across the table, sheet by
sheet, to his friend, saying, "Now, Adam, d'ye think that'll do?" Such a
picture of mental triumph over outward circumstances has surely seldom
been surpassed: house-builders, smoky chimney, damp draughts, restless,
dripping dog, and toothache form what our friend, Miss Masson, called a
"concatenation of exteriorities" little favorable to literary
composition of any sort; but considered as accompaniments or inspiration
of that delightfully comical beginning of "The Antiquary," they are all
but incredible.

To my theatrical avocation I have been indebted for many social
pleasures and privileges; among others, for Sir Walter Scott's notice
and acquaintance; but among the things it has deprived me of was the
opportunity of enjoying more of his honorable and delightful
intercourse. A visit to Abbotsford, urged upon us most kindly, is one of
the lost opportunities of my life that I think of always with bitter
regret. Sir Walter wanted us to go down and spend a week with him in the
country, and our professional engagements rendered it impossible for us
to do so; and there are few things in my whole life that I count greater
loss than the seven days I might have passed with that admirable genius
and excellent, kind man, and had to forego. I never saw Abbotsford until
after its master had departed from all earthly dwelling-places. I was
staying in the neighborhood, at the house of my friend, Mrs. M----, of
Carolside, and went thither with her and my youngest daughter. The house
was inhabited only by servants; and the housekeeper, whose charge it was
to show it, waited till a sufficient number of tourists and sight-seers
had collected, and then drove us all together from room to room of the
house in a body, calling back those who outstripped her, and the laggers
who would fain have fallen a few paces out of the sound of the dreary
parrotry of her inventory of the contents of each apartment. There was
his writing-table and chair, his dreadnaught suit and thick walking
shoes and staff there in the drawing-room; the table, fitted like a
jeweler's counter, with a glass cover, protecting and exhibiting all the
royal and precious tokens of honor and admiration, in the shape of
orders, boxes, miniatures, etc, bestowed on him by the most exalted
worshipers of his genius, hardly to be distinguished under the thick
coat of dust with which the glass was darkened. Poor Anne Scott's
portrait looked dolefully down on the strangers staring up at her, and,
a glass door being open to the garden, Mrs. M---- and myself stepped out
for a moment to recover from the miserable impression of sadness and
desecration the whole thing produced on us; but the inexorable voice of
the housekeeper peremptorily ordered us to return, as it would be, she
said (and very truly), quite impossible for her to do her duty in
describing the "curiosities" of the house, if visitors took upon
themselves to stray about in every direction instead of keeping together
and listening to what she was saying. How glad we were to escape from
the sort of nightmare of the affair!

I returned there on another occasion, one of a large and merry party who
had obtained permission to picnic in the grounds, but who, deterred by
the threatening aspect of the skies from gypsying (as had originally
been proposed) by the side of the Tweed, were allowed, by Sir Adam
Ferguson's interest with the housekeeper, to assemble round the table in
the dining-room of Abbotsford. Here, again, the past was so present with
me as to destroy all enjoyment, and, thinking how I might have had the
great good fortune to sit there with the man who had made the whole
place illustrious, I felt ashamed and grieved at being there then,
though my companions were all kind, merry, good-hearted people, bent
upon their own and each other's enjoyment. Sir Adam Ferguson had grown
very old, and told no more the vivid anecdotes of former days; and to
complete my mental discomfort, on the wall immediately opposite to me
hung a strange picture of Mary Stuart's head, severed from the trunk and
lying on a white cloth on a table, as one sees the head of John the
Baptist in the charger, in pictures of Herodias's daughter. It was a
ghastly presentation of the guillotined head of a pretty but rather
common-looking French woman--a fancy picture which it certainly would
not have been my fancy to have presiding over my dinner-table.

Only once after this dreary party of pleasure did I return, many years
later, to Abbotsford. I was alone, and the tourist season was over, and
the sad autumnal afternoon offering little prospect of my being joined
by other sight-seers, I prevailed with the housekeeper, who admitted me,
to let me wander about the place, without entering the house; and I
spent a most melancholy hour in the garden and in pacing up and down the
terrace overlooking the Tweed side. The place was no longer inhabited at
all; my ringing at the gate had brought, after much delay, a servant
from Mr. Hope's new residence, built at some distance from Scott's
house, and from her I learned that the proprietor of Abbotsford had
withdrawn to the house he had erected for himself, leaving the poet's
dwelling exclusively as a place of pilgrimage for travelers and
strangers, with not even a servant residing under its roof. The house
abandoned to curious wayfarers; the sons and daughters, the grandson and
granddaughter, every member of the founder's family dead; Mr. Hope
remarried to a lady of the house of Arundel, and living in a
semi-monastic seclusion in a house walled off from the tourist-haunted
shrine of the great man whose memory alone was left to inhabit it,--all
these circumstances filled me with indescribable sadness as I paced up
and down in the gloaming, and thought of the strange passion for
founding here a family of the old Border type which had obfuscated the
keen, clear brain of Walter Scott, made his wonderful gifts subservient
to the most futile object of ambition, driven him to the verge of
disgrace and bankruptcy, embittered the evening of his laborious and
glorious career, and finally ended in this,--the utter extinction of the
name he had illustrated and the family he had hoped to found. And while
his noble works remain to make his memory ever loved and honored, this
_Brummagem_ mediæval mansion, this mock feudal castle with its imitation
baronial hall (upon a diminutive scale) hung round with suits of armor,
testifies to the utter perversity of good sense and good taste resulting
from this one mental infirmity, this craving to be a Border chieftain of
the sixteenth century instead of an Edinburgh lawyer of the nineteenth,
and his preference for the distinction of a petty landholder to that of
the foremost genius of his age. Mr. Combe, in speaking of this feudal
insanity of Scott and the piteous havoc it made of his life, told me
that at one time he and Ballantyne, with whom he had entered into
partnership, were staving off imminent ruin by indorsing and accepting
each other's bills, and carried on that process to the extremest verge
compatible with honesty. What a history of astounding success and utter

                                                GLASGOW, July 3, 1830.

     You will, ere this, my dear Mrs. Jameson, have received my very
     tardy reply to your first kind letter. I got your second last night
     at the theater, just after I _had given away my jewels to Mr.
     Beverley_. I was much gratified by your profession of affection for
     me, for though I am not over-desirous of public admiration and
     approbation, I am anxious to secure the good-will of individuals
     whose intellect I admire, and on whose character I can with
     confidence rely. Your letter, however, made me uncomfortable in
     some respects; you seem unhappy and perplexed. I am sure you will
     believe me when I say that, without the remotest thought of
     intruding on the sacredness of private annoyances and distresses, I
     most sincerely sympathize in your uneasiness, whatever may be its
     cause, and earnestly pray that the cloud, which the two or three
     last times we met in London hung so heavily on your spirits, may
     pass away. It is not for me to say to you, "Patience," my dear Mrs.
     Jameson; you have suffered too much to have neglected that only
     remedy of our afflictions, but I trust Heaven will make it an
     efficacious one to you, and erelong send you less need of it. I am
     glad you see my mother often, and very glad that to assist your
     recollection of me you find interest and amusement in discussing
     the fitting up of my room with her. Pray do not forget that the
     drawing you made of the rooms in James Street is mine, and that
     when you visit me in my new abode it will be pleasant to have that
     remembrance before us of a place where we have spent some hours
     very happily together.

     What you say of Mrs. N---- only echoes my own thoughts of her. She
     is a splendid creature, nobly endowed every way; too nobly to
     become through mere frivolity and foolish vanity the mark of the
     malice and envy of such _things_ as she is surrounded by, and who
     will all eagerly embrace the opportunity of slandering one so
     immeasurably their superior in every respect. I do not know much of
     her, but I feel deeply interested in her; not precisely with the
     interest inspired by loving or even liking, but with that feeling
     of admiring solicitude with which one must regard a person so
     gifted, so tempted, and in such a position as hers. I am glad that
     lovely sister of hers is married, though matrimony in that world is
     not always the securest haven for a woman's virtue or happiness; it
     is sometimes in that society the reverse of an "honorable estate."

     The poor king's death gave me a holiday on Monday, Tuesday, and
     Wednesday, and we eagerly embraced the opportunity its respite
     afforded us of visiting Loch Lomond and the entrance to Loch Long.
     As almost my first thought when we reached the lake was, "How can
     people attempt to describe such places?" I shall not terminate my
     letter with "smooth expanses of sapphire-tinted waves," or "purple
     screens of heath-clad hills rising one above another into the
     cloudless sky." A volume might be written on the mere color of the
     water, and give no idea of it, though you are the very person whose
     imagination, aided by all that you've seen, would best realize such
     a scene from description. It was heavenly, and we had such a
     perfect day! I prefer, however, the glimpse we had of Loch Long to
     what we saw of Loch Lomond. I brought away an appropriate nosegay
     from my trip, a white rose from Dumbarton, in memory of Mary
     Stuart, an oak branch from Loch Lomond, and a handful of heather,
     for which I fought with the bees on the rocky shore of Loch Long.

     I like my Glasgow audience better than my Edinburgh one; they are
     not so cold. I look for a pleasant audience in your country, for
     which we set out to-morrow, I believe. My aunt desires to be
     remembered to you, and so does my father, and bids me add, in
     answer to your modest doubt, that you are a person to be always
     remembered with pleasure and esteem. I am glad you did not like my
     Bath miniature; indeed, it was not likely that you would.

               Believe me always yours affectionately,
                                                              F. A. K.

During our summer tour my mother, who had remained in London,
superintended the preparation of a new house, to which we removed on our
return to town. My brother Henry's schooling at Westminster was over,
which had been the reason for our taking the house at Buckingham Gate,
and, though it had proved a satisfactory residence in many respects, we
were glad to exchange it for the one to which we now went, which had
many associations that made it agreeable to my father, having been my
uncle John's home for many years, and connected with him in the memory
of my parents. It was the corner house of Great Russell Street and
Montague Place, and, since we left it, has been included in the new
court-yard of the British Museum (which was next door to it) and become
the librarian's quarters, our friend Panizzi being its first occupant
afterward. It was a good, comfortable, substantial house, the two
pleasantest rooms of which, to me, were the small apartment on the
ground floor, lined with books from floor to ceiling, and my own
peculiar lodging in the upper regions, which, thanks to my mother's
kindness and taste, was as pretty a bower of elegant comfort as any
young spinster need have desired. There I chiefly spent my time,
pursuing my favorite occupations, or in the society of my own especial
friends: my dear H---- S----, when she was in London; Mrs. Jameson, who
often climbed thither for an hour's pleasant discussion of her book on
Shakespeare; and a lady with whom I now formed a very close intimacy,
which lasted till her death, my dear E---- F----.

I had the misfortune to lose the water-color sketches which Mrs. Jameson
had made of our two drawing-rooms in James Street, Buckingham Gate. They
were very pretty and skillful specimens of a difficult kind of subject,
and valuable as her work, no less than as tokens of her regard for me.
The beautiful G---- S----, to whose marriage I have referred, had she
not been a sister of her sisters, would have been considered a wit; and,
in spite of this, was the greatest beauty of her day. She always
reminded me of what an American once said in speaking of a countrywoman
of his, that she was so lovely that when she came into the room she took
his breath away. While I was in Bath I was asked by a young artist to
sit for my miniature. His portrait had considerable merit as a piece of
delicate, highly finished workmanship; it was taken in the part of
Portia, and engraved; but I think no one, without the label underneath,
would have imagined in it even the intention of my portrait. Whether or
not the cause lay in my own dissimilar expressions and dissimilar
aspects at different times, I do not know; but if a collection was made
of the likenesses that have been taken of me, to the number of nearly
thirty, nobody would ever imagine that they were intended to represent
the same person. Certainly, my Bath miniature produced a version of my
face perfectly unfamiliar to myself and most of my friends who saw it.


                                                         DUBLIN, ----.

     I received your third kind letter yesterday morning, and have no
     more time to-day than will serve to inclose my answer to your
     second, which reached me and was replied to at Glasgow; owing to
     your not having given me your address, I had kept it thus long in
     my desk. You surely said nothing in that letter of yours that the
     kindest good feeling could take exception to, and therefore need
     hardly, I think, have been so anxious about its possible
     miscarriage. However, "Misery makes one acquainted with strange
     bed-fellows," and I am afraid distrust is one of them. You will be
     glad, I know, to hear that I have been successful here, and perhaps
     amused to know that when your letter reached me yesterday, I was
     going, _en lionne_, to a great dinner-party at Lady Morgan's. You
     ask me for advice about your Shakespeare work, but advice is what I
     have no diploma for bestowing; and such suggestions as I might
     venture, were I sitting by your side with Shakespeare in my hand,
     and which might furnish pleasant matter of converse and discussion,
     are hardly solid enough for transmission by post.

     I have been reading the "Tempest" all this afternoon, with eyes
     constantly dim with those delightful tears which are called up
     alike by the sublimity and harmony of nature, and the noblest
     creations of genius. I cannot imagine how you should ever feel
     discouraged in your work; it seems to me it must be its own
     perpetual stimulus and reward. Is not Miranda's exclamation, "O
     brave new world, that has such people in it!" on the first sight of
     the company of villainous men who ruined her and her father, with
     the royal old magician's comment, "'Tis new to thee!" exquisitely
     pathetic? I must go to my work; 'tis "The Gamester" to-night; I
     wish it were over. Good-by, my dear Mrs. Jameson. Thank you for
     your kind letters; I value them very much, and am your affectionate

                                                            F. KEMBLE.

     P.S.--I am very happy here, in the society of an admirable person
     who is as good as she is highly gifted,--a rare union,--and who,
     moreover, loves me well, which adds much, in my opinion, to her
     other merits. I mean my friend Miss S----.

My only reminiscence connected with this dinner at Lady Morgan's is of
her kind and comical zeal to show me an Irish jig, performed _secundum
artem_, when she found that I had never seen her national dance. She
jumped up, declaring nobody danced it as well as herself, and that I
should see it immediately; and began running through the rooms, with a
gauze scarf that had fallen from her shoulders fluttering and trailing
after her, calling loudly for a certain young member of the viceregal
staff, who was among the guests invited to a large evening party after
the dinner, to be her partner. But the gentleman had already departed
(for it was late), and I might have gone to my grave unenlightened upon
the subject of jigs if I had not seen one performed, to great
perfection, by some gay young members of a family party, while I was
staying at Worsley with my friends Lord and Lady Ellesmere, whose
children and guests got up an impromptu ball on the occasion of Lady
Octavia Grosvenor's birthday, in the course of which the Irish national
dance was performed with great spirit, especially by Lord Mark Kerr and
Lady Blanche Egerton. It resembles a good deal the saltarello of the
Italian peasants in rhythm and character; and a young Irishman, servant
of some friends of mine, covered himself with glory by the manner in
which he joined a party of Neapolitan tarantella dancers, merely by dint
of his proficiency in his own native jig. A great many years after my
first acquaintance with Lady Morgan in Dublin, she renewed our
intercourse by calling on me in London, where she was spending the
season, and where I was then living with my father, who had become
almost entirely deaf and was suffering from a most painful complication
of maladies. My relations with the lively and amusing Irish authoress
consisted merely in an exchange of morning visits, during one of which,
after talking to me with voluble enthusiasm of Cardinal Gonsalvi and
Lord Byron, whose portraits hung in her room, and who, she assured me,
were her two pre-eminent heroes, she plied me with a breathless series
of pressing invitations to breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, evening
parties, to meet everybody in London that I did and did not know, and
upon my declining all these offers of hospitable entertainment (for I
had at that time withdrawn myself entirely from society, and went
nowhere), she exclaimed, "But what in the world do you _do_ with
yourself in the evening?" "Sit with my father, or remain alone," said I.
"Ah!" cried the society-loving little lady, with an exasperated Irish
accent, "come out of that _sphare_ of solitary self-sufficiency _ye_
live in, do! Come to me!" Which objurgation certainly presented in a
most ludicrous light my life of very sad seclusion, and sent us both
into fits of laughter.

I have alluded to a friendship which I formed soon after my appearance
on the stage with Miss E---- F----. She was the daughter of Mr. F----,
for many years member for Tiverton. Miss F---- and I perpetuated a close
attachment already traditional between our families, her mother having
been Mrs. Siddons's dearest friend. Indeed, for many years of her life,
Mrs. F---- seems to me to have postponed the claims even of her husband
and children upon her time and attention, to her absolute devotion to
her celebrated idol. Mr. F---- was a dutiful member of the House of
Commons, and I suppose his boy was at school and his girl too young to
demand her mother's constant care and superintendence, at the time when
she literally gave up the whole of her existence to Mrs. Siddons during
the London season, passing her days in her society and her evenings in
her dressing-room at the theater, whenever Mrs. Siddons acted. Miss
F---- and myself could not dedicate ourselves with any such absolute
exclusiveness to each other. Neither of our mothers would have consented
to any such absorbing arrangement, for which a certain independence of
family ties would have been indispensable; but within the limits which
our circumstances allowed we were as devoted to each other as my aunt
Siddons and Mrs. F---- had been, and our intercourse was as full and
frequent as possible. E---- F---- was not pretty, but her face was
expressive of both intelligence and sensibility; her figure wanted
height, but was slender and graceful; her head was too small for
powerful though not far keen and sagacious intellect, or for beauty. The
general impression she produced was that of well-born and well-bred
refinement, and she was as eager, light, and rapid in her movements as a
greyhound, of which elegant animal the whole character of her appearance
constantly reminded me.

Mr. F---- had a summer residence close to the picturesque town of
Southampton, called Bannisters, the name of which charming place calls
up the image of my friend swinging in her hammock under the fine trees
of her lawn, or dexterously managing her boat on its tiny lake, and
brings back delightful hours and days spent in happy intercourse with
her. Mr. F---- had himself planned the house, which was as peculiar as
it was comfortable and elegant. A small vestibule, full of fine casts
from the antique (among others a rare original one of the glorious
Neapolitan Psyche, given to his brother-in-law, Mr. William Hamilton, by
the King of Naples), formed the entrance. The oval drawing-room, painted
in fresco by Mr. F----, recalled by its Italian scenes their wanderings
in the south of Europe. In the adjoining room were some choice pictures,
among others a fine copy of one of Titian's Venuses, and in the
dining-room an equally good one of his Venus and Adonis. The place of
honor, however, in this room was reserved for a life-size, full-length
portrait of Mrs. Siddons, which Lawrence painted for Mrs. F---- and
which is now in the National Gallery,--a production so little to my
taste both as picture and portrait that I used to wonder how Mrs.
F---- could tolerate such a representation of her admirable friend. The
principal charm of Bannisters, however, was the garden and grounds,
which, though of inconsiderable extent, were so skillfully and
tastefully laid out, that their bounds were always invisible. The lawn
and shrubberies were picturesquely irregular, and still retained some
kindred, in their fine oaks and patches of heather, to the beautiful
wild common which lay immediately beyond their precincts. A pretty piece
of ornamental water was set in flowering bushes and well-contrived
rockery, and in a more remote part of the grounds a little dark pond
reflected wild-wood banks and fine overspreading elms and beeches. The
small park had some charming clumps and single trees, and there was a
twilight walk of gigantic overarching laurels, of a growth that dated
back to a time of considerable antiquity, when the place had been part
of an ancient monastery. Above all, I delighted in my friend E----'s
favorite flower-garden, where her fine eye for color reveled in grouping
the softest, gayest, and richest masses of bloom, and where in a bay of
mossy turf, screened round with evergreens, the ancient vision of love
and immortality, the antique Cupid and Psyche, watched over the
fragrant, flowery domain.

Sweet Bannisters! to me for ever a refuge of consolation and sympathy in
seasons of trial and sorrow, of unfailing kindly welcome and devoted
constant affection; haven of pleasant rest and calm repose whenever I
resorted to it! How sad was my last visit to that once lovely and
beloved place, now passed into the hands of strangers, deserted,
divided, desecrated, where it was painful even to call up the image of
her whose home it once was! The last time I saw Bannisters the grounds
were parceled out and let for grazing inclosures to various Southampton
townspeople. The house was turned into a boys' boarding-school, and, as
I hurried away, the shouts and acclamations of a roaring game of cricket
came to me from the inclosure that had been E---- F----'s flower-garden;
but though I was crying bitter tears the lads seemed very happy; the
fashion of this world passeth away.

Before leaving Dublin for Liverpool, I had the pleasure of visiting my
friend Miss S---- in her home, where I returned several times, and was
always welcomed with cordial kindness. My last visit there took place
during the Crimean war. My friend Mrs. T---- had become a widow, and her
second son, now General T----, was with his regiment in the very front
of the danger, and also surrounded by the first deadly outbreak of the
cholera, which swooped with such fatal fury upon our troops at the
opening of the campaign. I can never forget the pathetic earnestness and
solemnity of the prayers read aloud by that poor mother for the safety
of our army, nor the accent with which she implored God's protection
upon those exposed to such imminent peril in the noble discharge of
their duty. That son was preserved to that mother, having manfully done
his part in the face of the twofold death that threatened him.

There was a slight circumstance attending Mrs. T----'s household
devotions that charmed me greatly, and that I have never seen repeated
anywhere else where I have assisted at family prayers. The servants, as
they left the hall, bowed and courtesied to their mistress, who returned
their salutation with a fine, old-fashioned courtesy, full of a sweet,
kindly grace, that was delightful. This act of civility to her
dependents was to me a perfect expression of Mrs. T----'s real antique
toryism, as well as of her warm-hearted, motherly kindness of nature.

Ardgillan Castle (I think by courtesy, for it was eminently, peaceful in
character, in spite of the turret inhabited by my dear "moping owl,"
H----) was finely situated on an eminence from which the sea, with the
picturesque fishing village of Skerries stretching into it on one side,
and the Morne Mountains fading in purple distance beyond its blue waters
on the other, formed a beautiful prospect. A pine wood on one side of
the grounds led down to the foot of the grassy hill upon which the house
stood, and to a charming wilderness called the Dell: a sylvan recess
behind the rocky margin of the sea, from which it was completely
sheltered, whose hollow depth, carpeted with grass and curtained with
various growth of trees, was the especial domain of my dear H----. A
crystal spring of water rose in this "bosky dell," and answered with its
tiny tinkle the muffled voice of the ocean breaking on the shore beyond.
The place was perfectly lovely, and here we sat together and devised, as
the old word was, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things
above heaven, and things below earth, and things quite beyond ourselves,
till we were well-nigh beside ourselves; and it was not the fault of my
metaphysical friend, but of my utter inability to keep pace with her
mental processes, if our argument did not include every point of that
which Milton has assigned to the forlorn disputants of his infernal
regions. My departure from Dublin ended these happy hours of
companionship, and I exchanged that academe and my beloved Plato in
petticoats for my play-house work at Liverpool. The following letter was
in answer to one Mrs. Jameson wrote me upon the subject of a lady whom
she had recommended to my mother as a governess for my sister, who was
now in her sixteenth year.

                                           LIVERPOOL, August 16, 1830.

     Were it not that I have a great opinion both of your kindness and
     reasonableness, I should feel rather uncomfortable at the period
     which has elapsed since I ought to have written to you; but I am
     very sorry not to have been able sooner to reply to your last kind
     letter. I shall begin by answering that which interested me most in
     it, which you will easily believe was what regarded my dear A----
     and the person into whose hands she is about to be committed. In
     proportion to the value of the gem is the dread one feels of the
     flaws and injuries it may receive in the process of cutting and
     polishing; and this, of course, not in this case alone, but that of
     every child who still is parent to the man (or woman). My mother
     said in one of her letters, "I have engaged a lady to be A----'s
     governess." Of course the _have_ must make the expression of regret
     or anxiety undesirable, since both are unavailing. I hope it is the
     lady you spoke of in your letter to me, for I like very much the
     description you give of her, and in answer to the doubt you express
     as to whether _I_ could be pleased with a person wanting in
     superficial brilliancy and refinement of intellect, I can reply
     unequivocally _yes_. I could be well pleased with such a person for
     my own companion, if the absence of such qualities were atoned for
     by sound judgment and sterling principle; and I am certain that
     such a person is best calculated to undertake the task which she is
     to perform in our house with good effect. The defect of our home
     education is that from the mental tendencies of all of us, no less
     than from our whole mode of life, the more imaginative and refined
     intellectual qualities are fostered in us in preference to our
     reasoning powers. We have all excitable natures, and, whether in
     head or heart, that is a disadvantage. The unrestrained indulgence
     of feeling is as injurious to moral strength as the undue excess of
     fancy is to mental vigor. I think young people would always be the
     better for the influence of persons of strong sense, rather than
     strong sensibility, who, by fortifying their reason, correct any
     tendency to that morbid excitability which is so dangerous to
     happiness or usefulness.

     I do not, of course, mean that one can eradicate any element of the
     original character--that I believe to be impossible; nor is direct
     opposition to natural tendencies of much use, for that is really
     cultivating qualities by resistance; but by encouraging other
     faculties, and by putting aside all that has a tendency to weaken
     and enervate, the mind will assume a robust and healthy tone, and
     the real feelings will acquire strength by being under reasonable
     control and by the suppression of factitious ones. A----'s
     education in point of accomplishments and general cultivation of
     taste and intellect is already fairly advanced; and the lady who
     is, I hope, now to be her companion and directress will be none the
     worse for wanting the merely ornamental branches of culture,
     provided she holds them at their due value, and neither _under_ nor
     _over_ estimates them because she is without them. I hope she is
     gentle and attractive in her manners, for it is essential that one
     should like as well as respect one's teachers; and should these
     qualities be added to the character you give of her, I am sure I
     should like her for a governess very much myself. You see by the
     room this subject has occupied in my letter how much it fills in my
     mind; human souls, minds, and bodies are precious and wonderful
     things, and to fit the whole creature for its proper aim here and
     hereafter, a solemn and arduous work.

     Now to other matters. You reproach me very justly for my stupid
     oversight; I forgot to tell you which name appeared to me best for
     your book; the fact is, I flew off into ecstasies about the work
     itself, and gave you, I believe, a tirade about the "Tempest"
     instead of the opinion you asked. I agree with you that there is
     much in the name of a work; it is almost as desirable that a book
     should be well called as that it should be well written; a
     promising title-page is like an agreeable face, an inducement to
     further acquaintance, and an earnest of future pleasure. For
     myself, I prefer "Characters of Shakespeare's Women;" it is
     shorter, and I think will look better than the other in print.

     I have been spending a few happy days, previous to my departure
     from Ireland, in a charming place and in the companionship of a
     person I love dearly. All my powers of enjoyment have been
     constantly occupied, and I have had a breathing-time of rest and
     real pleasure before I recommence my work. Such seasons are like
     angel's visits, but I suppose one ought to rejoice that they are
     allowed us at all, rather than complain of their brevity and
     infrequency. I am getting weary of wandering, and long to be once
     more settled at home.

     What say you to this French revolution? Have not they made good use
     of their time, that in so few years from their last bloody national
     convulsion men's minds should so have advanced and expanded in
     France as to enable the people to overturn the government and
     change the whole course of public affairs with such comparative
     moderation and small loss of, life? I was still in Dublin when the
     news of the recent events in France reached us, and I never
     witnessed anything so like tipsiness as Lady Morgan's delight at
     it. I believe she wished herself a Frenchwoman with all her heart,
     and she declared she would go over as soon as her next work, which
     is in the hands of the publisher, was out. Were I a man, I should
     have been well pleased to have been in France some weeks ago; the
     rising of the nation against oppression and abuse, and the creating
     of a new and better state of things without any outbreak of popular
     excess, must have been a fine thing to see. But as a woman,
     incapable of mixing personally in such scenes, I would rather have
     the report of them at a distance than witness them as a mere
     inactive spectator; for though the loss of life has been
     comparatively small, considering the great end that has been
     achieved, it must be horrible to see bloodshed, even that of a
     single individual. I believe I am a great coward. I shall not close
     this to-night, but wait till to-morrow, to tell you how my first
     appearance here goes off.

                                                 TUESDAY, August 17th.

     We had a very fine house indeed last night, and everything went off
     remarkably well. I had every reason to be satisfied with the
     audience, who, though proverbially a cold one, were exceedingly
     enthusiastic in their applause, which, I suppose, is the best
     indication that they were satisfied with me. Good-by, my dear Mrs.
     Jameson; believe me yours ever truly,

                                                              F. A. K.

The intention of engaging a governess for my sister was not carried out,
and she was taken to Paris and placed under the charge of Mrs. Foster,
wife of the chaplain of the British embassy, under whose care she
pursued her general education, while with the tuition of the celebrated
Bordogni, the first singing-master of the day, she cultivated her fine
voice and developed her musical genius.

The French Revolution of 1830, which placed Louis Philippe of Orleans on
the throne, and sent Charles X. to end his days in an obscure corner of
Germany, was the first of four revolutions which I have lived to
witness; and since then I have often thought of a lady who, during the
next political catastrophe, by which Louis Philippe was shaken out of
his seat, showing Mrs. Grote the conveniences of a charming apartment in
a central part of Paris, said, "Voici mon salon, voici ma salle à
manger, et voyez comme c'est commode! De cette fenêtre je vois mes
révolutions." The younger Bourbon of the Orleans branch had learned part
of the lesson of government (of which even the most intelligent of that
race seem destined never to learn the whole) in democratic America and
democratic Switzerland. Perhaps it was in these two essentially
_bourgeois_ countries that he learned the only virtues that
distinguished him as the _Roi Bourgeois, par excellence_.

                                      HEATON PARK, September 18, 1830.

     Were it not that I should be ashamed to look you in the face when
     we meet, which I hope will now be soon, I should be much tempted to
     defer thanking you for your last kind letter until that period, for
     I am at this moment in the bustle of three departures. My mother
     arrived in Manchester this morning, whence my aunt Dall starts
     to-night for Buckinghamshire, and my father to-morrow morning at
     seven o'clock for London, and at eight my mother and myself start
     for Liverpool. I am most anxious to be there for the opening of the
     railroad, which takes place on Wednesday. I act in Manchester on
     Friday, and after that we shall spend some days with Lord and Lady
     W----, at their seat near there; and then I return to London to
     begin my winter campaign, when I hope to see you less oppressed
     with anxiety and vexation than you were when we parted there. And
     now, what shall I say to you? My life for the last three weeks has
     been so hurried and busy that, while I have matter for many long
     letters, I have hardly time for condensation; you know what Madame
     de Sévigné says, "Si j'avais eu plus de temps, je t'aurais écrit
     moins longuement." I have been sight-seeing and acting for the last
     month, and the first occupation is really the more exhausting of
     the two. I will give you a _carte_, and when we meet you shall call
     upon me for a detail of any or all of its contents.

     I have seen the fine, picturesque old town of Chester; I have seen
     Liverpool, its docks, its cemetery, its railway, on which I was
     flown away with by a steam-engine, at the rate of five and thirty
     miles an hour; I have seen Manchester, power-looms,
     spinning-jennies, cotton factories, etc.; I have stayed at the
     pleasant modern mansion of Heaton; I have visited Hopwood Hall,
     built in the reign of Edward the First, and still retaining its
     carved old oaken chimneys and paneled chambers and latticed
     windows, and intricate ups and downs of internal architecture, to
     present use apparently as purposeless and inconvenient as if one
     was living in a cat's-cradle. I have seen a rush-bearing with its
     classical morris dance, executed in honor of some antique
     observance by the country folk of Lancashire, with whom this
     commemoration, but no knowledge of its original significance,
     remains. I have seen Birmingham, its button-making, pin-making,
     plating, stamping, etc.; I have seen Aston Hall, an old house two
     miles from the town, and two hundred from everything in it, where
     Charles the First slept after the battle of Edge Hill, and whose
     fine old staircase still retains the marks of Cromwell's
     cannon,--which house, moreover, possesses an oaken gallery one
     hundred and odd feet long, hung with old portraits, one of the most
     delightful apartments imaginable. How I did sin in envy, and long
     for that nice room to walk up and down and dream and poetize in;
     but as I know of no earthly way of compassing this desirable
     acquisition but offering myself in exchange for it to its present
     possessor (who might not think well of the bargain), _il n'y faut
     plus penser_. Moreover, as the grapes are sour, I conclude that
     upon the whole it might not be an advantageous one for me. I am at
     this moment writing in a drawing-room full of people, at Heaton
     (Lord W----'s place), taking up my pen to talk to you and laying it
     down to talk to others. I must now, however, close my double and
     divided conversation, because I have not brains enough to play at
     two games at once. I am ever yours, very sincerely,

                                                              F. A. K.

While we were acting at Liverpool an experimental trip was proposed upon
the line of railway which was being constructed between Liverpool and
Manchester, the first mesh of that amazing iron net which now covers the
whole surface of England and all the civilized portions of the earth.
The Liverpool merchants, whose far-sighted self-interest prompted them
to wise liberality, had accepted the risk of George Stephenson's
magnificent experiment, which the committee of inquiry of the House of
Commons had rejected for the government. These men, of less intellectual
culture than the Parliament members, had the adventurous imagination
proper to great speculators, which is the poetry of the counting-house
and wharf, and were better able to receive the enthusiastic infection of
the great projector's sanguine hope that the Westminster committee. They
were exultant and triumphant at the near completion of the work, though,
of course, not without some misgivings as to the eventual success of the
stupendous enterprise. My father knew several of the gentlemen most
deeply interested in the undertaking, and Stephenson having proposed a
trial trip as far as the fifteen-mile viaduct, they, with infinite
kindness, invited him and permitted me to accompany them; allowing me,
moreover, the place which I felt to be one of supreme honor, by the side
of Stephenson. All that wonderful history, as much more interesting than
a romance as truth is stranger than fiction, which Mr. Smiles's
biography of the projector has given in so attractive a form to the
world, I then heard from his own lips. He was a rather stern-featured
man, with a dark and deeply marked countenance; his speech was strongly
inflected with his native Northumbrian accent, but the fascination of
that story told by himself, while his tame dragon flew panting along his
iron pathway with us, passed the first reading of the "Arabian Nights,"
the incidents of which it almost seemed to recall. He was wonderfully
condescending and kind in answering all the questions of my eager
ignorance, and I listened to him with eyes brimful of warm tears of
sympathy and enthusiasm, as he told me of all his alternations of hope
and fear, of his many trials and disappointments, related with fine
scorn how the "Parliament men" had badgered and baffled him with their
book-knowledge, and how, when at last they thought they had smothered
the irrepressible prophecy of his genius in the quaking depths of
Chatmoss, he had exclaimed, "Did ye ever see a boat float on water? I
will make my road float upon Chatmoss!" The well-read Parliament men
(some of whom, perhaps, wished for no railways near their parks and
pleasure-grounds) could not believe the miracle, but the shrewd
Liverpool merchants, helped to their faith by a great vision of immense
gain, did; and so the railroad was made, and I took this memorable ride
by the side of its maker, and would not have exchanged the honor and
pleasure of it for one of the shares in the speculation.

                                               LIVERPOOL, August 26th.
     MY DEAR H----,

     A common sheet of paper is enough for love, but a foolscap extra
     can alone contain a railroad and my ecstasies. There was once a
     man, who was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who was a common
     coal-digger; this man had an immense constructiveness, which
     displayed itself in pulling his watch to pieces and putting it
     together again; in making a pair of shoes when he happened to be
     some days without occupation; finally--here there is a great gap in
     my story--it brought him in the capacity of an engineer before a
     committee of the House of Commons, with his head full of plans for
     constructing a railroad from Liverpool to Manchester. It so
     happened that to the quickest and most powerful perceptions and
     conceptions, to the most indefatigable industry and perseverance,
     and the most accurate knowledge of the phenomena of nature as they
     affect his peculiar labors, this man joined an utter want of the
     "gift of the gab;" he could no more explain to others what he meant
     to do and how he meant to do it, than he could fly; and therefore
     the members of the House of Commons, after saying, "There is rock
     to be excavated to a depth of more than sixty feet, there are
     embankments to be made nearly to the same height, there is a swamp
     of five miles in length to be traversed, in which if you drop an
     iron rod it sinks and disappears: how will you do all this?" and
     receiving no answer but a broad Northumbrian "I can't tell you how
     I'll do it, but I can tell you I _will_ do it," dismissed
     Stephenson as a visionary. Having prevailed upon a company of
     Liverpool gentlemen to be less incredulous, and having raised funds
     for his great undertaking, in December of 1826 the first spade was
     struck into the ground. And now I will give you an account of my
     yesterday's excursion. A party of sixteen persons was ushered, into
     a large court-yard, where, under cover, stood several carriages of
     a peculiar construction, one of which was prepared for our
     reception. It was a long-bodied vehicle with seats placed across
     it, back to back; the one we were in had six of these benches, and
     was a sort of uncovered _char à banc_. The wheels were placed upon
     two iron bands, which formed the road, and to which they are
     fitted, being so constructed as to slide along without any danger
     of hitching or becoming displaced, on the same principle as a thing
     sliding on a concave groove. The carriage was set in motion by a
     mere push, and, having received, this impetus, rolled with us down
     an inclined plane into a tunnel, which forms the entrance to the
     railroad. This tunnel is four hundred yards long (I believe), and
     will be lighted by gas. At the end of it we emerged from darkness,
     and, the ground becoming level, we stopped. There is another tunnel
     parallel with this, only much wider and longer, for it extends from
     the place which we had now reached, and where the steam-carriages
     start, and which is quite out of Liverpool, the whole way under the
     town, to the docks. This tunnel is for wagons and other heavy
     carriages; and as the engines which are to draw the trains along
     the railroad do not enter these tunnels, there is a large building
     at this entrance which is to be inhabited by steam-engines of a
     stationary turn of mind, and different constitution from the
     traveling ones, which are to propel the trains through the tunnels
     to the terminus in the town, without going out of their houses
     themselves. The length of the tunnel parallel to the one we passed
     through is (I believe) two thousand two hundred yards. I wonder if
     you are understanding one word I am saying all this while! We were
     introduced to the little engine which was to drag us along the
     rails. She (for they make these curious little fire-horses all
     mares) consisted of a boiler, a stove, a small platform, a bench,
     and behind the bench a barrel containing enough water to prevent
     her being thirsty for fifteen miles,--the whole machine not bigger
     than a common fire-engine. She goes upon two wheels, which are her
     feet, and are moved by bright steel legs called pistons; these are
     propelled by steam, and in proportion as more steam is applied to
     the upper extremities (the hip-joints, I suppose) of these pistons,
     the faster they move the wheels; and when it is desirable to
     diminish the speed, the steam, which unless suffered to escape
     would burst the boiler, evaporates through a safety-valve into the
     air. The reins, bit, and bridle of this wonderful beast is a small
     steel handle, which applies or withdraws the steam from its legs or
     pistons, so that a child might manage it. The coals, which are its
     oats, were under the bench, and there was a small glass tube
     affixed to the boiler, with water in it, which indicates by its
     fullness or emptiness when the creature wants water, which is
     immediately conveyed to it from its reservoirs. There is a chimney
     to the stove, but as they burn coke there is none of the dreadful
     black smoke which accompanies the progress of a steam vessel. This
     snorting little animal, which I felt rather inclined to pat, was
     then harnessed to our carriage, and, Mr. Stephenson having taken me
     on the bench of the engine with him, we started at about ten miles
     an hour. The steam-horse being ill adapted for going up and down
     hill, the road was kept at a certain level, and appeared sometimes
     to sink below the surface of the earth, and sometimes to rise above
     it. Almost at starting it was cut through the solid rock, which
     formed a wall on either side of it, about sixty feet high. You
     can't imagine how strange it seemed to be journeying on thus,
     without any visible cause of progress other than the magical
     machine, with its flying white breath and rhythmical, unvarying
     pace, between these rocky walls, which are already clothed with
     moss and ferns and grasses; and when I reflected that these great
     masses of stone had been cut asunder to allow our passage thus far
     below the surface of the earth, I felt as if no fairy tale was ever
     half so wonderful as what I saw. Bridges were thrown from side to
     side across the top of these cliffs, and the people looking down
     upon us from them seemed like pigmies standing in the sky. I must
     be more concise, though, or I shall want room. We were to go only
     fifteen miles, that distance being sufficient to show the speed of
     the engine, and to take us on to the most beautiful and wonderful
     object on the road. After proceeding through this rocky defile, we
     presently found ourselves raised upon embankments ten or twelve
     feet high; we then came to a moss, or swamp, of considerable
     extent, on which no human foot could tread without sinking, and yet
     it bore the road which bore us. This had been the great
     stumbling-block in the minds of the committee of the House of
     Commons; but Mr. Stephenson has succeeded in overcoming it. A
     foundation of hurdles, or, as he called it, basket-work, was thrown
     over the morass, and the interstices were filled with moss and
     other elastic matter. Upon this the clay and soil were laid down,
     and the road does float, for we passed over it at the rate of five
     and twenty miles an hour, and saw the stagnant swamp water
     trembling on the surface of the soil on either side of us. I hope
     you understand me. The embankment had gradually been rising higher
     and higher, and in one place, where the soil was not settled enough
     to form banks, Stephenson had constructed artificial ones of
     wood-work, over which the mounds of earth were heaped, for he said
     that though the wood-work would rot, before it did so the banks of
     earth which covered it would have been sufficiently consolidated to
     support the road.

     We had now come fifteen miles, and stopped where the road traversed
     a wide and deep valley. Stephenson made me alight and led me down
     to the bottom of this ravine, over which, in order to keep his road
     level, he has thrown a magnificent viaduct of nine arches, the
     middle one of which is seventy feet high, through which we saw the
     whole of this beautiful little valley. It was lovely and wonderful
     beyond all words. He here told me many curious things respecting
     this ravine: how he believed the Mersey had once rolled through it;
     how the soil had proved so unfavorable for the foundation of his
     bridge that it was built upon piles, which had been driven into the
     earth to an enormous depth; how, while digging for a foundation, he
     had come to a tree bedded in the earth fourteen feet below the
     surface of the ground; how tides are caused, and how another flood
     might be caused; all of which I have remembered and noted down at
     much greater length than I can enter upon it here. He explained to
     me the whole construction of the steam-engine, and said he could
     soon make a famous engineer of me, which, considering the wonderful
     things he has achieved, I dare not say is impossible. His way of
     explaining himself is peculiar, but very striking, and I
     understood, without difficulty, all that he said to me. We then
     rejoined the rest of the party, and the engine having received its
     supply of water, the carriage was placed behind it, for it cannot
     turn, and was set off at its utmost speed, thirty-five miles an
     hour, swifter than a bird flies (for they tried the experiment with
     a snipe). You cannot conceive what that sensation of cutting the
     air was; the motion is as smooth as possible, too. I could either
     have read or written; and as it was, I stood up, and with my bonnet
     off "drank the air before me." The wind, which was strong, or
     perhaps the force of our own thrusting against it, absolutely
     weighed my eyelids down. [I remember a similar experience to this,
     the first time I attempted to go behind the sheet of the cataract
     of Niagara; the wind coming from beneath the waterfall met me with
     such direct force that it literally bore down my eyelids, and I had
     to put off the attempt of penetrating behind the curtain of foam
     till another day, when that peculiar accident; was less directly
     hostile to me in its conditions.] When I closed my eyes this
     sensation of flying was quite delightful, and strange beyond
     description; yet, strange as it was, I had a perfect sense of
     security, and not the slightest fear. At one time, to exhibit the
     power of the engine, having met another steam-carriage which was
     unsupplied with water, Mr. Stephenson caused it to be fastened in
     front of ours; moreover, a wagon laden with timber was also chained
     to us, and thus propelling the idle steam-engine, and dragging the
     loaded wagon which was beside it, and our own carriage full of
     people behind, this brave little she-dragon of ours flew on.
     Farther on she met three carts, which, being fastened in front of
     her, she pushed on before her without the slightest delay or
     difficulty; when I add that this pretty little creature can run
     with equal facility either backward or forward, I believe I have
     given you an account of all her capacities.

     Now for a word or two about the master of all these marvels, with
     whom I am most horribly in love. He is a man of from fifty to
     fifty-five years of age; his face is fine, though careworn, and
     bears an expression of deep thoughtfulness; his mode of explaining
     his ideas is peculiar and very original, striking, and forcible;
     and although his accent indicates strongly his north-country birth,
     his language has not the slightest touch of vulgarity or
     coarseness. He has certainly turned my head.

     Four years have sufficed to bring this great undertaking to an end.
     The railroad will be opened upon the 15th of next month. The Duke
     of Wellington is coming down to be present on the occasion, and, I
     suppose, what with the thousands of spectators and the novelty of
     the spectacle, there will never have been a scene of more striking
     interest. The whole cost of the work (including the engines and
     carriages) will have been eight hundred and thirty thousand pounds;
     and it is already worth double that sum. The directors have kindly
     offered us three places for the opening, which is a great favor,
     for people are bidding almost anything for a place, I understand;
     but I fear we shall be obliged to decline them, as my father is
     most anxious to take Henry over to Heidelberg before our season of
     work in London begins, which will take place on the first of
     October. I think there is every probability of our having a very
     prosperous season. London will be particularly gay this winter, and
     the king and queen, it is said, are fond of dramatic
     entertainments, so that I hope we shall get on well. You will be
     glad to hear that our houses here have been very fine, and that
     to-night, Friday, which was my benefit, the theater was crowded in
     every corner. We do not play here any more, but on Monday we open
     at Manchester. You will, I know, be happy to hear that, by way of
     answer to the letter I told you I had written my mother, I received
     a very delightful one from my dear little sister, the first I have
     had from her since I left London. She is a little jewel, and it
     will be a sin if she is marred in the cutting and polishing, or if
     she is set in tawdry French pinchbeck, instead of fine, strong,
     sterling gold. I am sorry to say that the lady Mrs. Jameson
     recommended as her governess has not been thought sufficiently
     accomplished to undertake the charge. I regret this the more, as in
     a letter I have just received from Mrs. Jameson she speaks with
     more detail of this lady's qualifications, which seem to me
     peculiarly adapted to have a good effect upon such a mind and
     character as A----'s.

     I wish I had been with your girls at their ball, and come back from
     it and found you holding communion with the skies. My dearest
     H----, sublime and sweet and holy as are the feelings with which I
     look up to the star-paved heavens, or to the glorious summer sun,
     or listen to the music of the great waves, I do not for an instant
     mistake the adoration of the almighty power manifested in these
     works of God, for religion. You tell me to beware of mixing up
     emotional or imaginative excitement with my devotion. And I think I
     can truly answer that I do not do so. I told you that the cathedral
     service was not prayer to me; nor do I ever confound a mere
     emotional or imaginative enthusiasm, even when excited by the
     highest of all objects of contemplation, with the daily and hourly
     endeavor after righteousness--the humble trust, resignation,
     obedience, and thankfulness, which I believe constitute the vital
     part of religious faith. I humbly hope I keep the sacred ground of
     my religion clear from whatever does not belong to the spirit of
     its practice. As long as I can remember, I have endeavored to guard
     against mistaking emotion for religion, and have even sometimes
     been apprehensive lest the admiration I felt for certain passages
     in the Psalms and the Hebrew prophets should make me forget the
     more solemn and sacred purposes of the book of life, and the glad
     tidings of our salvation. And though, when I look up as you did at
     the worlds with which our midnight sky is studded, I feel inclined
     to break out, "The heavens declare the glory of God," or, when I
     stand upon the shore, can hardly refrain from crying aloud, "The
     sea is His, and He made it," I do not in these moments of sublime
     emotion forget that He is the God to whom all hearts be open; who,
     from the moment I rise until I lie down to rest, witnesses my every
     thought and feeling; to whom I look for support against the evil of
     my own nature and the temptations which He allots me, who bestows
     every blessing and inspires every good impulse, who will strengthen
     me for every duty and trial: my Father, in whom I live and move and
     have my being. I do not fear that my imagination will become
     over-excited with thoughts such as these, but I often regret most
     bitterly that my heart is not more deeply touched by them. Your
     definition of the love of God seemed almost like a reproach to my
     conscience. How miserably our practice halts behind our knowledge
     of good, even when tried at the bar of our own lenient judgment,
     and by our imperfect standard of right! how poorly does our life
     answer to our profession! I should speak in the singular, for I am
     only uttering my own self-condemnation. But as the excellence we
     adore surpasses our comprehension, so does the mercy, and in that
     lies our only trust and confidence.

     I fear Miss W---- either has not received my letter or does not
     mean to answer it, for I have received no reply, and I dare not try
     again. Up to a certain point I am impudent enough, but not beyond
     that. Why do you threaten me with dancing to me? Have I lately
     given you cause to think I deserve to have such a punishment hung
     _in terrorem_ over me? Besides, threatening me is injudicious, for
     it rouses a spirit of resistance in me not easy to break down. I
     assure you _o_ [in allusion to my mispronunciation of that vowel]
     is really greatly improved. I take much pains with it, as also with
     my deportment; they will, I hope, no longer annoy you when next we
     meet. You must not call Mrs. J---- my friend, for I do not. I like
     her much, and I see a great deal to esteem and admire in her, but I
     do not _yet_ call her my friend. You are my friend, and Mrs. Harry
     Siddons is my friend, and you are the only persons I call by that
     name. I have read "Paul Clifford," according to your desire, and
     like it very much; it is written with a good purpose, and very
     powerfully. You asked me if I believed such selfishness as
     Brandon's to be natural, and I said yes, not having read the book,
     but merely from your report of him; and, having read the book, I
     say so still.


                                                 DUBLIN, August, 1830.
     MY DEAR H----,

     I should have answered your letter sooner had I before been able to
     give you any certain intelligence of our theatrical proceedings
     next week, but I was so afraid of some change taking place in the
     list of the plays that I resolved not to write until alteration was
     impossible. The plays for next week are, on Monday, "Venice
     Preserved;" on Wednesday, "The Grecian Daughter;" Thursday, "The
     Merchant of Venice." I wish your people may be able to come up, the
     latter end of the week; I think "Romeo and Juliet," and "The
     Merchant of Venice," are nice plays for them to see. But you have,
     I know, an invitation from Mrs. J---- to come into town on Monday.
     I do not know whether my wishes have at all influenced her in this,
     but she has my very best thanks for it, and I know that they will
     have some weight with you in inclining you to accept it; do, my
     dearest H----, come if you can. I shall certainly not be able to
     return to Ardgillan, and so my only chance of seeing you depends
     upon your coming into Dublin. I wish I had been with you when you
     sat in the sun and listened to the wind singing over the sea. I
     have a great admiration for the wind, not so much for its purifying
     influences only, as for its invisible power, strength, the quality
     above all others without which there is neither moral nor mental
     greatness possible. Natural objects endowed with this invisible
     power please me best, as human beings who possess it attract me
     most; and my preference for it over other elements of character is
     because I think it communicates itself, and that while in contact
     with it one feels as if it were _catching_; and whether by the
     shore, when the tide is coming up fast and irresistible, or in the
     books or intercourse of other minds, it seems to rouse
     corresponding activity and energy in one's self, persuading one,
     for the time being, that one is strong. I am sure I have felt
     taller by three inches, as well as three times more vigorous in
     body and mind, than I really am, when running by the sea. It seemed
     as if that great mass of waters, as it rushed and roared by my
     side, was communicating power directly to my mind as well as my
     bodily frame, by its companionship. I wish I was on the shore now
     with you. It is surprising (talking of E----) how instantaneously,
     and by what subtle, indescribable means, certain qualities of
     individual natures make themselves felt--refinement, imagination,
     poetical sensibility. People's voices, looks, and gestures betray
     these so unconsciously; and I think more by the manner, a great
     deal, than the matter of their speech. Refinement, particularly, is
     a wonderfully subtle, penetrating element; nothing is so positive
     in its effect, and nothing so completely escapes analysis and
     defies description.

     I am glad dear little H---- thought I "grew pretty;" there is a
     world of discrimination in that sentence of his. To your charge
     that I should cultivate my judgment in preference to my
     imagination, I can only answer, "I am ready and willing to do so;"
     but it is nevertheless not altogether easy for me to do it. My life
     in London leaves me neither time nor opportunity for any
     self-culture, and it seems to me as if my best faculties were lying
     fallow, while a comparatively unimportant talent, and my physical
     powers, were being taxed to the uttermost. The profession I have
     embraced is supposed to stimulate powerfully the imagination. I do
     not find it so; it appeals to mine in a slight degree compared with
     other pursuits; it is too definite in its object and too confined
     in its scope to excite my imagination strongly; and, moreover, it
     carries with it the antidote of its own excitement in the necessary
     conditions under which it is exercised. Were it possible to act
     with one's mind alone, the case might be different; but the body is
     so indispensable, unluckily, to the execution of one's most
     poetical conceptions on the stage, that the imaginative powers are
     under very severe though imperceptible restraint. Acting seems to
     me rather like dancing hornpipes in fetters. And, by no means the
     least difficult part of the business is to preserve one's own
     feelings warm, and one's imagination excited, while one is aiming
     entirely at producing effects upon others; surrounded, moreover, as
     one is, by objects which, while they heighten the illusion to the
     distant spectator, all but destroy it to us of the _dramatis
     personæ_. None of this, however, lessens the value and importance
     of your advice, or my own conviction that "mental bracing" is good
     for me. My reception on Monday was quite overpowering, and I was
     escorted back to the hotel, after the play, by a body-guard of
     about two hundred men, shouting and hurrahing like mad; strange to
     say, they were people of perfectly respectable appearance. My
     father was not with us, and they opened the carriage door and let
     down the steps, when we got home, and helped us out, clapping, and
     showering the most fervent expressions of good-will upon me and
     aunt Dall, whom they took for my mother. One young man exclaimed
     pathetically, "Oh, I hope ye're not too much fatigued, Miss Kemble,
     by your exertions!" They formed a line on each side of me, and
     several of them dropped on their knees to look under my bonnet, as
     I ran laughing, with my head down, from the carriage to the house.
     I was greatly confused and a little frightened, as well as amused
     and gratified, by their cordial demonstration.

     The humors of a Dublin audience, much as I had heard of them before
     going to Ireland, surprised and diverted me very much. The second
     night of our acting there, as we were leaving the theater by the
     private entrance, we found the carriage surrounded by a crowd
     eagerly waiting for our coming out. As soon as my father appeared,
     there was a shout of "Three cheers for Misther Char-_les!_" then
     came Dall, and "Three cheers for Misthriss Char-_les!_" then I, and
     "Three cheers for Miss Fanny!" "Bedad, she looks well by
     gas-light!" exclaimed one of my admirers. "Och, and bedad, she
     looks well by daylight too!" retorted another, though what his
     opportunity for forming that flattering opinion of the genuineness
     of my good looks had been, I cannot imagine. What further remarks
     passed upon us I do not know, as we drove off laughing, and left
     our friends still vociferously cheering. My father told us one day
     of his being followed up Sackville Street by two beggar-women,
     between whom the following dialogue passed, evidently with a view
     to his edification: "Och, but he's an iligant man, is Misther
     Char-_les_ Kemble!" "An' 'deed, so was his brudher Misther John,
     thin--a moighty foine man! and to see his _demanour_, puttin' his
     hand in his pocket and givin' me sixpence, bate all the worrld!"
     When I was acting Lady Townley, in the scene where her husband
     complains of her late hours and she insolently retorts, "I won't
     come home till four, to-morrow morning," and receives the startling
     reply with which Lord Townley leaves her, "Then, madam, you shall
     never come home again," I was apt to stand for a moment aghast at
     this threat; and one night during this pause of breathless dismay,
     one of my gallery auditors, thinking, I suppose, that I was wanting
     in proper spirit not to make some rejoinder, exclaimed, "Now thin,
     Fanny!" which very nearly upset the gravity produced by my father's
     impressive exit, both in me and in the audience.

                                       DUBLIN, Friday, August 6, 1830.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I fear I caused you a disappointment by not writing to you
     yesterday afternoon, but as it was not until between five and six
     o'clock that I learned we were not going to Cork, when I thought of
     writing you to that effect I found I was too late for the post. I
     hope still that Dall and I may be able to come to Ardgillan again,
     but we cannot leave my father alone here, and his departure for
     Liverpool is at present quite uncertain. I have been trying to
     reason myself into patience, notwithstanding a very childish
     inclination to cry about it, which I think I will indulge because I
     shall be able to be so much more reasonable without this stupid
     lump in my throat.

     I hope I may see you again, dear H----. You are wrong when you say
     you cannot be of service to me; I can judge better of the value of
     your intercourse to me than you can, and I wish I could have the
     advantage of more of it before I plunge back into "toil and
     trouble." I have two very opposite feelings about my present
     avocation: utter dislike to it and everything, connected with it,
     and an upbraiding sense of ingratitude when I reflect how
     prosperous and smooth my entrance upon my career has been. I hope,
     ere long, to be able to remember habitually what only occasionally
     occurs to me now, as a comfort and support, that since it was right
     for me to embrace this profession, it is incumbent upon me to
     banish all selfish regrets about the surrender of my personal
     tastes and feelings, which must be sacrificed to real and useful
     results for myself and others. You see, I write as I talk, still
     about myself; and I am sometimes afraid that my very desire to
     improve keeps me occupied too much about myself and will make a
     little moral egotist of me. I am going to bid good-by to Miss W----
     this morning; I should like her to like me; I believe I should
     value her friendship as I ought. Good friends are like the shrubs
     and trees that grow on a steep ascent: while we toil up, and our
     eyes are fixed on the summit, we unconsciously grasp and lean upon
     them for support and assistance on our way. God bless you, dear
     H----. I hope to be with you soon, but cannot say at present how
     soon that may be.

                                                              F. A. K.

A very delightful short visit to my friend at Ardgillan preceded my
resuming my theatrical work at Liverpool, whence I wrote her the
following letter:

                                            LIVERPOOL August 19, 1830.
     DEAR H----,

     I received your letter about an hour ago, at rehearsal, and though
     I read it with rather dim eyes, I managed to swallow my tears, and
     go on with Mrs. Beverley.

     The depth and solemnity of your feelings, my dear H----, on those
     important subjects of which we have so often spoken together,
     almost make me fear, sometimes, that I am not so much impressed as
     I ought to be with their _awfulness_. I humbly hope I _fear_ as I
     ought, but it is so much easier for me to love than to fear, that
     my nature instinctively fastens on those aspects of religion which
     inspire confidence and impart support, rather than those which
     impress with dread. I was thinking the other day how constantly in
     all our prayers the loftiest titles of might are added to that Name
     of names, "Our Father," and yet His power is always less present to
     my mind than His mercy and love. You tell me I do not know you, and
     that may very well be, for one really _knows_ no one; and when I
     reflect upon and attempt to analyze the various processes of my own
     rather shallow mind, and find them incomprehensible, I am only
     surprised that there should be so much mutual affection in a world
     where mutual knowledge and understanding are really impossible.

     My side-ache was much better yesterday. I believe it was caused by
     the pain of leaving you and Ardgillan: any strong emotion causes
     it, and I remember when I last left Edinburgh having an attack of
     it that brought on erysipelas. You say you wish to know how Juliet
     does. Why, very well, poor thing. She had a very fine first house
     indeed, and her success has been as great as you could wish it; out
     of our ten nights' engagement, "Romeo and Juliet" is to be given
     four times; it has already been acted three successive nights to
     very great houses. To-night it is "The Gamester," to-morrow "Venice
     Preserved," and on Saturday we act at Manchester, and on Monday
     here again. You will hardly imagine how irksome it was to me to be
     once more in my stage-trappings, and in the glare of the theater
     instead of the blessed sunshine in the country, and to hear the
     murmur of congregated human beings instead of that sound of many
     waters, that wonderful sea-song, that is to me like the voice of a
     dear friend. I made a great effort to conquer this feeling of
     repugnance to my work, and thought of my dear Mrs. Harry, whom I
     have seen, with a heart and mind torn with anxiety, leave poor
     Lizzy on what seemed almost a death-bed, to go and do her duty at
     the theater. That was something like a trial. There was a poor old
     lady, of more than seventy years of age, who acted as my nurse, who
     helped also to rouse me from my selfish morbidness--age and
     infirmity laboring in the same path with rather more cause for
     weariness and disgust than I have. She may have been working, too,
     only for herself, while I am the means of helping my own dear
     people, and many others; she toils on, unnoticed and neglected,
     while my exertions are stimulated and rewarded by success and the
     approval of every one about me. And yet my task is sadly
     distasteful to me; it seems such useless work that but for its very
     useful pecuniary results I think I would rather make shoes. You
     tell me of the comfort you derive, under moral depression, from
     picking stones and weeds out of your garden. I am afraid that
     antidote would prove insufficient for me; the weeds would very soon
     lie in heaps in my lap, and the stones accumulate in little
     mountains all round me, while my mind was sinking into
     contemplations of the nature of slow quicksands. Violent bodily
     exercise, riding, or climbing up steep and rugged pathways are my
     best remedies for the blue devils.

     My father has received a pressing invitation from Lord and Lady
     W---- to go to their place, Heaton, which is but five miles from

     You say to me in your last letter that you could not live at the
     rate I do; but my life is very different now from what it was while
     with you. I am silent and quiet and oppressed with irksome duties,
     and altogether a different creature from your late companion by the
     sea-shore. It is true that that _was_ my natural condition, but if
     you were here with me now, in the midst of all these unnatural
     sights and sounds, I do not think I should weary you with my
     overflowing life and spirits, as I fear I did at Ardgillan. I was
     as happy there as the birds that fly in the clear sky above the
     sea, and much happier, for I had your companionship in addition to
     the delight which mere existence is in such scenes. I am glad Lily
     made and wore the wreath of lilac blossoms; I was sure it would
     become her. Give her my love and thanks for having done as I asked
     her. Oh, do not wish Ardgillan fifteen miles from London! Even for
     the sake of seeing you, I would not bring you near the smoke and
     dirt and comparative confinement of such a situation; I would not
     take you from your sea and sky and trees, even to have you within
     reach of me.

     Certainly it is the natural evil of the human mind, and not the
     supernatural agency in the story of its development, that makes
     Macbeth so terrible; it is the hideousness of a wicked soul, into
     which enter more foul ingredients than are held in the witches'
     caldron of abominations, that makes the play so tremendous. I wish
     we had read that great work together. How it contrasts with what we
     did read, the "Tempest," that brightest creation of a wholesome
     genius in its hour of happiest inspiration!

     I believe some people think it presumptuous to pray for any one but
     themselves; but it seems to me strange to share every, feeling with
     those we love and not associate them with our best and holiest
     aspirations; to remember them everywhere but there where it is of
     the utmost importance to us all to be remembered; to desire all
     happiness for them, and not to implore in their behalf the Giver of
     all good. I think I pray even more fervently for those I love than
     for myself. Pray for me, my dear H----, and God bless you and give
     you strength and peace. Your affectionate

                                                              F. A. K.

     I have not seen the railroad yet; if you do not write soon to me,
     we shall be gone to Manchester.

My objection to the dramatic profession on the score of its uselessness,
in this letter, reminds me of what my mother used to tell me of Miss
Brunton, who afterward became Lady Craven; a very eccentric as well as
attractive and charming woman, who contrived, too, to be a very charming
actress, in spite of a prosaical dislike to her business, which used to
take the peculiar and rather alarming turn of suddenly, in the midst of
a scene, saying aside to her fellow-actors, "What nonsense all this is!
Suppose we don't go on with it." This singular expostulation my mother
said she always expected to see followed up by the sadden exit of her
lively companion, in the middle of her part. Miss Brunton, however, had
self-command enough to go on acting till she became Countess of Craven,
and left off the _nonsense_ of the stage for the _earnestness_ of high

A very serious cause for depression had added itself to the weariness of
spirit with which my distaste for my profession often affected me. While
at Liverpool, I received a letter from my brother John which filled me
with surprise and vexation. After his return from Germany he had
expressed his determination to go into the Church; and we all supposed
him to be in the country, zealously engaged in the necessary preparatory
studies. Infinite, therefore, was my astonishment to receive from him a
letter dated from Algeciras, in Spain, telling me that he and several of
his college companions, Sterling, Barton, Trench, and Boyd among others,
had determined to lend the aid of their enthusiastic sympathy to the
cause of liberty in Spain. The "cause of liberty in Spain" was then
represented by the rash and ill-fated rising of General Torrijos against
the Spanish Government, that protean nightmare which, in one form or
another of bigotry and oppression, has ridden that unfortunate country
up to a very recent time, when civil war has again interfered with
apparently little prospect of any better result. My distress at
receiving such unexpected news from my brother was aggravated by his
forbidding me to write to him or speak of his plans and proceedings to
any one. This concealment, which would have been both difficult and
repugnant to me, was rendered impossible by the circumstances under
which his letter reached me, and we all bore together, as well as we
could, this severe disappointment and the cruel anxiety of receiving no
further intelligence from John for a considerable time. I was bitterly
grieved by this letter, which clearly indicated that the sacred
profession for which my brother had begun to prepare himself, and in
which we had hoped to see him ere long honorably and usefully laboring,
was as little likely to be steadily pursued by him as the legal career
which he had renounced for it. Richard Trench brought home a knowledge
of the Spanish tongue which has given to his own some beautiful
translations of Calderon's masterpieces; and his early crusade for the
enfranchisement of Spain has not militated against the well-deserved
distinction he has achieved in the high calling to which he devoted
himself. With my brother, however, the case was different. This romantic
expedition canceled all his purposes and prospects of entering the
Church, and Alfred Tennyson's fine sonnet, addressed to him when he
first determined to dedicate himself to the service of the temple, is
all that bears witness to that short-lived consecration: it was poetry,
but not prophecy.

                                        MANCHESTER, September 3, 1830.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I received you letter and the pretty Balbriggan stockings, for
     which I thank you very much, quite safely. I have not been able to
     put pen to paper till now, and even now do not know whether I can
     do more than just tell you that we have heard nothing further
     whatever from my brother. In his letter to me he said that he would
     write home whenever he could do so safely, but that no letter of
     ours would reach him; and, indeed, I do not now know where he may
     be. From the first moment of hearing this intelligence, which has
     amazed us all so much, I have felt less miserable than I could have
     thought possible under the circumstances; my mind, I think, has
     hardly taken hold of the truth of what has come so unexpectedly
     upon me. The very impossibility of relieving one's suspense, I
     suppose, compels one not to give way to its worst suggestions,
     which may, after all, be unfounded. I cannot communicate with him,
     and must wait patiently till he can write again; he is in God's
     hand, and I hope and pray that he may be guided and protected. My
     great anxiety is to keep all knowledge of his having even gone
     abroad, if possible, from my mother. She is not in a state to bear
     such a shock, and I fear that the impossibility of ascertaining
     anything about him at present, which helps _me_ to remain tolerably
     collected, would almost drive her distracted.

     The news of the revolt in the Netherlands, together with the fact
     that one of our dear ones is away from us in scenes of peril and
     disturbance, has, I think, shaken my father's purpose of sending
     Henry to Heidelberg. It is a bad thing to leave a boy of eighteen
     so far from home control and influences; and he is of a sweet,
     affectionate, gentle disposition, that makes him liable to be
     easily led and persuaded by the examples and counsels of others.
     Moreover, he is at the age when boys are always in some love-scrape
     or other, and if he is left alone at Heidelberg, in his own
     unassisted weakness, at such a distance from us all, I should not
     be surprised to hear that he had constituted himself the lord and
     master of some blue-eyed _fräulein_ with whom he could not exchange
     a dozen words in her own vernacular, and had become a
     _dis_-respectable _pater familias_ at nineteen. In the midst of all
     the worry and anxiety which these considerations occasion, we are
     living here a most unsettled, flurried life of divided work and
     pleasure. We have gone out to Heaton every morning after rehearsal,
     and come in with the W----s in the evening, to act. I think
     to-night we shall sleep there after the play, and come in with the
     W----s after dinner to-morrow. They had expected us to spend some
     days with them, and perhaps, after our Birmingham engagement, we
     may be able to do so. Heaton is a charming specimen of a fine
     country-house, and Lady W---- a charming specimen of a fine lady;
     she is handsome, stately, and gentle. I like Lord W----; he is
     clever, or rather accomplished, and refined. They are both of them
     very kind to me, and most pressing in their entreaties that we
     should return and stay as long as we can with them. To-morrow is my
     last night here; on Monday we act at Birmingham, and my father
     thinks we shall be able to avail ourselves of the invitation of our
     Liverpool friends, and witness the opening of the railroad. This
     would be a memorable pleasure, the opportunity of which should
     certainly not be neglected. I have been gratified and interested
     this morning and yesterday by going over one of the largest
     manufactories of this place, where I have seen a number of
     astonishing processes, from the fusing of iron in its roughest
     state to the construction of the most complicated machinery and the
     work that it performs. I have been examining and watching and
     admiring power-looms, and spinning-jennies, and every species of
     work accomplished by machinery. But what pleased me most of all was
     the process of casting iron. Did you know that the solid masses of
     iron-work which we see in powerful engines were many of them cast
     in moulds of sand?--inconstant, shifting, restless sand! The
     strongest iron of all, though, gets its strength beaten into it.

                                        BIRMINGHAM, September 7, 1830.

     You see, my dearest H----, how my conversations are liable to be
     cut short in the midst; just at the point where I broke off, Lord
     and Lady W---- came to fetch us to Heaton, and until this moment,
     when I am quietly seated in Birmingham, I have not been able to
     resume the thread of my discourse. I once was told of a man who had
     been weather-bound at some port, whence he was starting for the
     West Indies; he was standing on the wharf, telling a long story to
     a friend, when a fair wind sprang up and he had to hurry on board.
     Two years after, returning thence, the first person he met on
     landing was his friend, whom he accosted with, "Oh, well, and so,
     as I was telling you," etc. But I cannot do that, for my mind has
     dwelt on new objects of interest since I began this letter, and my
     visit to Heaton has swept sand and iron and engines all back into
     the great warehouse at Manchester for a time, whence I may draw
     them at some future day for your edification.

     Lady W---- possesses, to a great degree, beauty, that "tangible
     good" which you admire so much; she has a bright, serene
     countenance, and very sweet and noble eyes and forehead. Her manner
     is peculiarly winning and simple, and to me it was cordially kind,
     and even affectionate.

     During the two days which were all we could spare for Heaton, I
     walked and rode and sang and talked, and was so well amused and
     pleased that I hope, after our week's work is over here, we may
     return there for a short-time. I must tell you of a curious little
     bit of _ancientry_ which I saw at Heaton, which greatly delighted
     me--a "rush-bearing." At a certain period of the year, generally
     the beginning of autumn, it was formerly the wont in some parts of
     Lancashire to go round with sundry rustic mummeries to all the
     churches and strew them with rushes. The religious intention of the
     custom has passed away, but a pretty rural procession, which I
     witnessed, still keeps up the memory of it hereabouts. I was
     sitting at my window, looking out over the lawn, which slopes
     charmingly on every side down to the house, when the still summer
     air was suddenly filled with the sound of distant shouts and music,
     and presently the quaint pageant drew in sight. First came an
     immense wagon piled with rushes in a stack-like form, on the top of
     which sat two men holding two huge nosegays. This was drawn by a
     team of Lord W----'s finest farm-horses, all covered with scarlet
     cloths, and decked with ribbons and bells and flowers. After this
     came twelve country lads and lasses, dancing the real old
     morris-dance, with their handkerchiefs flying, and in all the
     rustic elegance of apparel which they could command for the
     occasion. After them followed a very good village band, and then a
     species of flowery canopy, under which walked a man and woman
     covered with finery, who, Lord W---- told me, represented Adam and
     Eve. The procession closed with a _fool_ fantastically dressed out,
     and carrying the classical bladder at the end of his stick. They
     drew up before the house and danced their morris-dance for us. The
     scraps of old poetry which came into my head, the contrast between
     this pretty picture of a bygone time and the modern but by no means
     unpicturesque group assembled under the portico, filled my mind
     with the pleasantest ideas, and I was quite sorry when the rural
     pageant wound up the woody heights again, and the last shout and
     peal of music came back across the sunny lawn. I am very glad I saw
     it. I have visited, too, Hopwood Hall, an enchanting old house in
     the neighborhood of Heaton, some parts of which are as old as the
     reign of Edward the First. The gloomy but comfortable oak rooms,
     the beautiful and curious carving of which might afford one days of
     entertaining study, the low, latticed windows, and intricate,
     winding, up-and-down passages, contrasted and combined with all the
     elegant adornments of modern luxury, and the pretty country in
     which the house is situated, all delighted me. I must leave off
     writing to you now; I have to dress, and dine at three, which I am
     sorry for. Thank you for Mrs. Hemans's beautiful lines, which made
     me cry very heartily. I have not been altogether well for the last
     few days, and am feeling tired and out of spirits; if I can get a
     few days' quiet enjoyment of the country at Heaton, I shall feel
     fitter for my winter work than I do now.

                                       MANCHESTER, September 20, 1830.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I did not answer your letter which I received at Heaton, because
     the latter part of my stay there was much engrossed by walking,
     riding, playing battledore and shuttlecock, singing, and being
     exceedingly busy all day long about nothing. I have just left it
     for this place, where we stop to-night on our way to Stafford;
     Heaton was looking lovely in all the beauty of its autumnal
     foliage, lighted by bright autumnal skies, and I am rather glad I
     did not answer you before, as it is a consolatory occupation to do
     so now.

     I am going with my mother to stay a day at Stafford with my
     godmother, an old and attached friend of hers, after which we
     proceed into Buckinghamshire to join my aunt Dall and Henry and my
     sister, who are staying there; and we shall all return to London
     together for the opening of the theater, which I think will take
     place on the first of next month. I could have wished to be going
     immediately to my work; I should have preferred screwing my courage
     to my professional tasks at once, instead of loitering by way of
     pleasure on the road. Besides that, in my visit to Buckinghamshire
     I come in contact with persons whose society is not very agreeable
     to me. My mother, however, made a great sacrifice in giving up her
     fishing, which she was enjoying very much, to come and chaperon me
     at Heaton, where there is no fishing so good as at Aston Clinton,
     so that I am bound to submit cheerfully to her wishes in the
     present instance.

     You probably have by this time heard and read accounts of the
     opening of the railroad, and the fearful accident which occurred at
     it, for the papers are full of nothing else. The accident you
     mention _did_ occur, but though the unfortunate man who was killed
     bore Mr. Stephenson's name, he was not related to him. I will tell
     you something of the events on the 15th, as, though you may be
     acquainted with the circumstances of poor Mr. Huskisson's death,
     none but an eyewitness of the whole scene can form a conception of
     it. I told you that we had had places given to us, and it was the
     main purpose of our returning from Birmingham to Manchester to be
     present at what promised to be one of the most striking events in
     the scientific annals of our country. We started on Wednesday last,
     to the number of about eight hundred people, in carriages
     constructed as I before described to you. The most intense
     curiosity and excitement prevailed, and, though the weather was
     uncertain, enormous masses of densely packed people lined the road,
     shouting and waving hats and handkerchiefs as we flew by them. What
     with the sight and sound of these cheering multitudes and the
     tremendous velocity with which we were borne past them, my spirits
     rose to the true champagne height, and I never enjoyed anything so
     much as the first hour of our progress. I had been unluckily
     separated from my mother in the first distribution of places, but
     by an exchange of seats which she was enabled to make she rejoined
     me when I was at the height of my ecstasy, which was considerably
     damped by finding that she was frightened to death, and intent upon
     nothing but devising means of escaping from a situation which
     appeared to her to threaten with instant annihilation herself and
     all her traveling companions. While I was chewing the cud of this
     disappointment, which was rather bitter, as I had expected her to
     be as delighted as myself with our excursion, a man flew by us,
     calling out through a speaking-trumpet to stop the engine, for that
     somebody in the directors' carriage had sustained an injury. We
     were all stopped accordingly, and presently a hundred voices were
     heard exclaiming that Mr. Huskisson was killed; the confusion that
     ensued is indescribable: the calling out from carriage to carriage
     to ascertain the truth, the contrary reports which were sent back
     to us, the hundred questions eagerly uttered at once, and the
     repeated and urgent demands for surgical assistance, created a
     sudden turmoil that was quite sickening. At last we distinctly
     ascertained that the unfortunate man's thigh was broken. From Lady
     W----, who was in the duke's carriage, and within three yards of
     the spot where the accident happened, I had the following details,
     the horror of witnessing which we were spared through our situation
     behind the great carriage. The engine had stopped to take in a
     supply of water, and several of the gentlemen in the directors'
     carriage had jumped out to look about them. Lord W----, Count
     Batthyany, Count Matuscenitz, and Mr. Huskisson among the rest were
     standing talking in the middle of the road, when an engine on the
     other line, which was parading up and down merely to show its
     speed, was seen coming down upon them like lightning. The most
     active of those in peril sprang back into their seats: Lord W----
     saved his life only by rushing behind the duke's carriage, and
     Count Matuscenitz had but just leaped into it, with the engine all
     but touching his heels as he did so; while poor Mr. Huskisson, less
     active from the effects of age and ill health, bewildered, too, by
     the frantic cries of "Stop the engine! Clear the track!" that
     resounded on all sides, completely lost his head, looked helplessly
     to the right and left, and was instantaneously prostrated by the
     fatal machine, which dashed down like a thunderbolt upon him, and
     passed over his leg, smashing and mangling it in the most horrible
     way. (Lady W---- said she distinctly heard the crushing of the
     bone.) So terrible was the effect of the appalling accident that,
     except that ghastly "crushing" and poor Mrs. Huskisson's piercing
     shriek, not a sound was heard or a word uttered among the immediate
     spectators of the catastrophe. Lord W---- was the first to raise
     the poor sufferer, and calling to aid his surgical skill, which is
     considerable, he tied up the severed artery, and for a time, at
     least, prevented death by loss of blood. Mr. Huskisson was then
     placed in a carriage with his wife and Lord W----, and the engine,
     having been detached from the director's carriage, conveyed them to
     Manchester. So great was the shock produced upon the whole party by
     this event, that the Duke of Wellington declared his intention not
     to proceed, but to return immediately to Liverpool. However, upon
     its being represented to him that the whole population of
     Manchester had turned out to witness the procession, and that a
     disappointment might give rise to riots and disturbances, he
     consented to go on, and gloomily enough the rest of the journey was
     accomplished. We had intended returning to Liverpool by the
     railroad, but Lady W----, who seized upon me in the midst of the
     crowd, persuaded us to accompany her home, which we gladly did.
     Lord W---- did not return till past ten o'clock, at which hour he
     brought the intelligence of Mr. Huskisson's death. I need not tell
     you of the sort of whispering awe which this event threw over our
     whole circle, and yet, great as was the horror excited by it, I
     could not help feeling how evanescent the effect of it was after
     all. The shuddering terror of seeing our fellow-creature thus
     struck down by our side, and the breathless thankfulness for our
     own preservation, rendered the first evening of our party at Heaton
     almost solemn; but the next day the occurrence became a subject of
     earnest, it is true, but free discussion; and after that, was
     alluded to with almost as little apparent feeling as if it had not
     passed under our eyes, and within the space of a few hours.

     I have heard nothing of my brother; my mother distresses me by
     talking of him, ignorant as she is of what would give her so much
     more anxiety about him. I feel, while I listen to her, almost
     guilty of deceit; and yet I am sure we were right in doing for her
     what she cannot do for herself, keeping her mind as long as
     possible in comparative tranquillity about him.

     Our Sunday at Heaton terminated with much solemn propriety by Lord
     W---- reading aloud the evening prayers to the whole family,
     visitors, and servants assembled; a ceremony which, combined and
     contrasted with so much of the pomps and vanities of the world,
     gave me a pleasant feeling toward these people, who live in the
     midst of them without forgetting better things. I mean to make
     studying German and drawing (and endeavoring to abate my
     self-esteem) my principal occupations this winter. I have met at
     Heaton Lord Francis Leveson Gower, the translator of "Faust." I
     like him very much; he is a young man of a great deal of talent,
     with a charming, gentle manner, and a very handsome, sweet face.
     Good-by, dear H----. Write to me soon, and direct to No. 79 Great
     Russell Street, Bloomsbury. I should like to find a letter from you
     there, waiting for me.

Our arrangement for driving in to the theater from Heaton compelled me
once or twice to sit down to dinner in my theatrical costume, a device
for saving time in dressing at the theater which might have taxed my
self-possession unpleasantly; but the persons I was surrounded by were
all singularly kind and amiable to me, and my appearing among them in
these picturesque fancy dresses was rather a source of amusement to us
all. Many years after, a lady who was not staying in the house, but was
invited from the neighborhood to dine at Heaton one evening, told me how
amazed she had been on the sudden wide opening of the drawing-room doors
to see me enter, in full mediæval costume of black satin and velvet, cut
Titian fashion, and with a long, sweeping train, for which apparition
she had not been previously prepared. Of Lord W---- I have already
spoken, and have only to add that, in spite of his character of a mere
dissipated man of fashion, he had an unusual taste for and knowledge of
music, and had composed some that is not destitute of merit; he played
well on the organ, and delighted in that noble instrument, a fine
specimen of which adorned one of the drawing-rooms at Heaton. Moreover,
he possessed an accomplishment of a very different order, a remarkable
proficiency in anatomy, which he had studied very thoroughly. He had
made himself enough of a practical surgeon to be able, on the occasion
of the fatal accident which befell Mr. Huskisson on the day of the
opening of the railroad, to save the unfortunate gentleman from bleeding
to death on the spot, by tying up the femoral artery, which had been
severed. His fine riding in the hunting-field and on the race-course was
a less peculiar talent among his special associates. Lady W---- was
strikingly handsome in person, and extremely attractive in her manners.
She was tall and graceful, the upper part of her face, eyes, brow, and
forehead were radiant and sweet, and, though the rest of her features
were not regularly beautiful, her countenance was noble and her smile
had a peculiar charm of expression at once winning and mischievous. My
father said she was very like her fascinating mother, the celebrated
Miss Farren. She was extremely kind to me, petting me almost like a
spoiled child, dressing me in her own exquisite riding-habit and
mounting me on her own favorite horse, which was all very delightful to
me. My father and mother probably thought the acquaintance of these
distinguished members of the highest English society advantageous to me.
I have no doubt they felt both pride and pleasure in the notice bestowed
upon me by persons so much my superiors in rank, and had a natural
sympathy in my enjoyment of all the gay grandeur and kindly indulgence
by which I was surrounded at Heaton. I now take the freedom to doubt how
far they were judicious in allowing me to be so taken out of my own
proper social sphere. It encouraged my taste for the luxurious
refinement and elegant magnificence of a mode of life never likely to be
mine, and undoubtedly increased my distaste for the coarse and common
details of my professional duties behind the scenes, and the sham
splendors of the stage. The guests at Heaton of whom I have a distinct
remembrance were Mr. and Lady Harriet Baring, afterward Lord and Lady
Ashburton. I knew them both in after-life, and liked them very much; Mr.
Baring was highly cultivated and extremely amiable; his wife was much
cleverer than he, and in many respects a remarkable woman. The beautiful
sisters, Anne and Isabella Forrester, with their brother Cecil, were at
Heaton at this time. They were celebrated beauties: the elder, afterward
Countess of Chesterfield, was a brunette; the younger, who married
Colonel Anson, the most renowned lady-killer of his day, was a blonde;
and they were both of them exquisitely pretty, and used to remind me of
the French quatrain--

    "Vous êtes belle, et votre soeur est belle;
     Entre vous deux, tout choix serait bien doux.
     L'Amour êtait blond, comme vous,
     Mais il aimait une brune, comme elle."

They had beautiful figures as well as faces, and dressed peculiarly and
so as to display them to the greatest advantage. Long and very full
skirts gathered or plaited all round a pointed waist were then the
fashion; these lovely ladies, with a righteous scorn of all
disfigurement of their beauty, wore extremely short skirts, which showed
their thorough-bred feet and ankles, and were perfectly plain round
their waists and over their hips, with bodies so low on the shoulders
and bosom that there was certainly as little as possible of their
beautiful persons concealed. I remember wishing it were consistent with
her comfort and the general decorum of modern manners that Isabella
Forrester's gown could only slip entirely off her exquisite bust. I
suppose I felt as poor Gibson, the sculptor, who, looking at his friend
and pupil's (Miss Hosmer's) statue of Beatrice Cenci, the back of which
was copied from that of Lady A---- T----, exclaimed in his slow,
measured, deliberate manner, "And to think that the cursed prejudices of
society prevent my seeing that beautiful back!" Count and Countess
Batthyany (she the former widow of the celebrated Austrian general,
Bubna, a most distinguished and charming woman) were visitors at Heaton
at this time, as was also Henry Greville, with whom I then first became
acquainted, and who from that time until his death was my kind and
constant friend. He was for several years attached to the embassy in
Paris, and afterward had some small nominal post in the household of the
Duchess of Cambridge, and was Gentleman Gold-Stick in waiting at court.
He was not in any way intellectually remarkable; he had a passion for
music, and was one of the best society singers of his day, being (that,
to me, incomprehensible thing) a _mélomane_ for one kind of music only.
Passionately fond of Italian operatic music, he did not understand, and
therefore cordially detested, German music. He had a passion for the
stage; but though he delighted in acting he did not particularly excel
in it. He had a taste for everything elegant and refined, and his small
house in May-Fair was a perfect casket full of gems. He was a natural
exquisite, and perfectly simple and unaffected, a great authority in all
matters of fashion both in Paris and in London, and a universal
favorite, especially with the women, in the highest society of both
capitals. His social position, friendly intimacy with several of the
most celebrated musical and dramatic artists of his day, passion for
political and private gossip, easy and pleasant style of letter-writing,
and general rather supercilious fastidiousness, used sometimes to remind
me of Horace Walpole. He had a singularly kind heart and amiable nature,
for a life of mere frivolous pleasure had not impaired the one or the
other. His serviceableness to his friends was unwearied, and his
generous liberality toward all whom he could help either with his
interest, his trouble, or his purse was unfailing.

The whole gay party assembled at Heaton, my mother and myself included,
went to Liverpool for the opening of the railroad. The throng of
strangers gathered there for the same purpose made it almost impossible
to obtain a night's lodging for love or money; and glad and thankful
were we to put up with and be put up in a tiny garret by our old friend,
Mr. Radley, of the Adelphi, which many would have given twice what we
paid to obtain. The day opened gloriously, and never was seen an
innumerable concourse of sight-seers in better humor than the surging,
swaying crowd that lined the railroad with living faces. How dreadfully
that brilliant opening was overcast I have described in the letter given
above. After this disastrous event the day became overcast, and as we
neared Manchester the sky grew cloudy and dark, and it began to rain.
The vast concourse of people who had assembled to witness the triumphant
arrival of the successful travelers was of the lowest order of mechanics
and artisans, among whom great distress and a dangerous spirit of
discontent with the Government at that time prevailed. Groans and hisses
greeted the carriage, full of influential personages, in which the Duke
of Wellington sat. High above the grim and grimy crowd of scowling faces
a loom had been erected, at which sat a tattered, starved-looking
weaver, evidently set there as a _representative man_, to protest
against this triumph of machinery, and the gain and glory which the
wealthy Liverpool and Manchester men were likely to derive from it. The
contrast between our departure from Liverpool and our arrival at
Manchester was one of the most striking things I ever witnessed. The
news of Mr. Huskisson's fatal accident spread immediately, and his
death, which did not occur till the evening, was anticipated by rumor. A
terrible cloud covered this great national achievement, and its success,
which in every respect was complete, was atoned for to the Nemesis of
good fortune by the sacrifice of the first financial statesman of the


                        GREAT RUSSELL STREET, Friday, October 1, 1830.
     DEAREST H----,

     I have risen very early, for what with excitement, and the
     wakefulness always attendant with me upon a new bed, I have slept
     but little, and I snatch this first hour of the day, the only one I
     may be able to command, to tell you that I have heard from my
     brother, and that he is safe and well, for which, thank God!
     Further I know nothing. He talks vaguely of being with us toward
     the end of the winter, but in the meantime, unless he finds some
     means of conveying some tidings of his welfare to me, I must remain
     in utter ignorance of his circumstances and situation. Your letter,
     which was to welcome me to my new home, arrived there two days
     before I did, and was forwarded to me into Buckinghamshire. A few
     days there--taking what interest I could in the sporting and
     fishing, the country quiet of the place, and above all the
     privilege of taking the sacrament, which, had I remained at Heaton,
     I should have had no opportunity of doing--gave me a breathing-time
     and a sense of mental repose before entering again upon that busy
     life whose demands are already besieging me in the inexorable form
     of half a dozen new stage dresses to be devised, ordered, and
     executed in the shortest imaginable time.

                                                           October 3d.

     You see how truly I prophesied at the beginning of this letter,
     when I said that the hour before breakfast was perhaps the only one
     I should be able to command that day. I might have said that week,
     for this is the first instant I have been able to call my own since
     then. I rehearsed Juliet yesterday, and shall do so again to-morrow
     morning; the theater opens with it to-morrow night. I have a new
     nurse, and I am rehearsing for her, poor woman! She is dreadfully
     alarmed at taking Mrs. Davenport's place, who certainly was a very
     great favorite. I am half crazy with the number of new dresses to
     be got; for though, thanks to the kindness and activity of my
     mother, none of the trouble of devising them ever falls on me, yet
     the bare catalogue of silks and satins and velvets, hats and
     feathers and ruffs, fills me with amazement and trepidation. I
     fancy I shall go through all the old parts, and then come out in a
     new tragedy. I shall be most horribly frightened, but I hope I
     shall do well, for the sake of the poor author, who is a young man
     of great abilities, and to whom I wish every success. The subject
     of his play is taken from a Spanish one, called "The Jew of
     Aragon," and the whole piece is of a new and unhackneyed order. My
     father and I play a Jewish father and daughter; this and the
     novelty of the story itself will perhaps be favorable to the play;
     I hope so with all my heart.

     Mrs. Henry Siddons has taken a house in London for six months; I
     have not seen her yet, but am most anxious to do so. Anxiety and
     annoyance, I fear, have just caused her a severe indisposition, but
     she is a little better now. Mrs. Siddons is much better. She is
     staying at Leamington at present.

     Dearest H----, returning from Buckinghamshire the other day, I
     passed Cassiobury, the grove, the little lane leading down to Heath
     Farm, and Miss M----'s cottage, and the first days of our
     acquaintance came back to my memory. I suppose I should have liked
     and loved you wherever I had met you, but you come in for a share
     of my love and liking of Cassiobury, and the spring, the beautiful
     season in which we met first. I send you the long-promised lock of
     my hair; you will be surprised at the lightness of the shade--at
     least, I was. It was cut from my forehead, and I think it is a nice
     bit; tell me that you get it safe.

     Henry is staying in Buckinghamshire in all the ecstasy of a young
     cockney's first sporting days. When he was quite a child and was
     asked what profession he intended to embrace, he replied that he
     would be "_a gentleman and wear leather breeches_," and I think
     it is the very destiny he is fitted to fill. He is the perfect
     picture of happiness when in his shooting-jacket and gaiters, with
     his gun on his shoulder and a bright day before him; and although
     we were obliged to return to town, my mother was unwilling to
     curtail his pleasure, and left him to murder pheasants and hares,
     and amuse himself in a manly fashion.

     I did not like the place at which they were staying as much as they
     did, for though the country was very pretty, I had during the
     summer tour seen so much that surpassed it that I saw it at a
     disadvantage. Then, I have no fancy for gypsying, and the greatest
     taste for all the formal proprieties of life, and what I should
     call "silver fork existence" in general; and the inconveniences of
     a small country inn, without really affecting my comfort, disturb
     my decided preference for luxury. The principal diversion my
     ingenious mind discovered to while away my time with was a _fiddle_
     (an elderly one), which I routed out of a lumber closet, and from
     which, after due invocations to St. Cecilia, I drew such diabolical
     sounds as I flatter myself were never excelled by Tartini or his
     master, the devil himself. I must now close this, for it is

The play of "The Jew of Aragon," the first dramatic composition of a
young gentleman of the name of Wade, of whose talent my father had a
very high opinion, which he trusted the success of his piece would
confirm, I am sorry to say failed entirely. It was the first time and
the last that I had the distress of assisting in damning a piece, and
what with my usual intense nervousness in acting a new part, my anxiety
for the interests of both the author and the theatre, and the sort of
indignant terror with which, instead of the applause I was accustomed
to, I heard the hisses which testified the distaste and disapprobation
of the public and the failure of the play, I was perfectly miserable
when the curtain fell, and the poor young author, as pale as a ghost,
came forward to meet my father at the side scene, and bravely holding
out his hand to him said, "Never mind for me, Mr. Kemble; I'll do better
another time." And so indeed he did; for he wrote a charming play on the
old pathetic story of "Griselda," in which that graceful actress Miss
Jarman played his heroine, and my father the hero, and which had an
entire and well-deserved success. I am obliged to confess that I retain
no recollection whatever of the ill-fated play of "The Jew of Aragon,"
or my own part in it, save the last _scene_ alone; this, I recollect,
was a magnificent Jewish place of worship, in which my father, who was
the high priest, appeared in vestments such as I believe the Jewish
priests still wear in their solemn ceremonies, and which were so closely
copied from the description of Aaron's sacred pontifical robes that I
felt a sense of impropriety in such a representation (purely historical,
as it was probably considered, and in no way differing from the costume
accepted on the French stage in Racine's Jewish plays). And I think it
extremely likely that the failure of the piece, which had been imminent
all through, found its climax in the unfavorable impression made upon
the audience by this very scene, in spite of my father's noble and
picturesque appearance.

I never heard hisses on the stage before or since; and though I was very
well aware that on this occasion they were addressed neither to me nor
to my performance, I think if they had been the whistling of bullets
(which I have also heard nearer than was pleasant) I could not have felt
more frightened and furious.

Young Wade's self-control and composure during the catastrophe of this
play reminds me, by contrast, of a most ludicrous story my father used
to tell of some unfortunate authoress, who, in an evil hour for herself
and some friendly provincial manager, persuaded him to bring out an
original drama of hers.

The audience (not a very discriminating or numerous one) were
sufficiently appreciative to object extremely to the play, and large
enough to make their objections noisily apparent.

The manager, in his own distress not unmindful of his poor friend, the
authoress, sought her out to console her, and found her seated at the
side scene with a glass of stiff brandy and water that some
commiserating friend had administered to her for her support, rocking
herself piteously to and fro, and, with the tears streaming down her
cheeks, uttering between sobs and sips, in utter self-abasement, her
_peccavi_ in the form of oaths and imprecations of the finest
Billingsgate vernacular (all, however, addressed to herself), that would
have made a dragoon shake in his shoes. The original form of which _mea
culpa_ seized the worthy manager with such an irresistibly ludicrous
effect that he left the poor, guilty authoress without being able to
address a syllable to her, lest he should explode in peals of laughter
instead of decent words of condolence.

To accompany an author or authoress (I should think especially the
latter) on the first night of the representation of their piece is by no
means a pleasant act of duty or friendship. I remember my mother, whose
own nervous temperament certainly was extremely ill adapted for such an
undertaking, describing the intolerable distress she had experienced on
the occasion of the first representation of a piece called, I think,
"Father and Son," taken from a collection of interesting stories
entitled "The Canterbury Tales," and adapted to the stage by one of the
Misses Lee, the sister authoresses of the Tales. The piece was very
fairly successful, but my mother said that though, according to her very
considerable experience, the actors were by no means more imperfect in
their parts than usual on a first night, her nervous anxiety was kept
almost at fever height by poor Miss Lee's incessant running commentary
of "Ah! very pretty, no doubt--very fine, I dare say--_only I never
wrote a word of it_!"

Lord Byron took the same story for the subject of his powerful play of
"Werner," in which Mr. Macready acted so finely, and with such great

I cannot imagine what possessed me in an unguarded hour to consent, as I
did, to go with my friends, Messrs. Tom Taylor and Charles Reade, to see
the first representation of a play of theirs called, I think, "The
King's Wager," in which Charles the Second, Nell Gwynn, and the Plague
were prominent characters. Accidental circumstances prevented one of the
gentlemen from coming with me, and I have often since wondered at my
temerity in having placed myself in such a trying situation.

                               GREAT RUSSELL STREET, October 24, 1830.
     DEAR H----,

     I have been too busy to answer your last sooner, but this hour
     before bedtime, the first quiet one for some time, shall be yours.
     I have heard nothing more of my brother, and am ignorant where he
     is or how engaged at present. You judged rightly with respect to
     the impossibility of longer keeping my mother in ignorance of his
     absence from England. The result was pretty much what I had
     apprehended; but her feelings have now become somewhat calmer on
     the subject. We are careful, however, as much as possible, to avoid
     all mention of or reference to my brother in her presence, for she
     is in a very cruel state of anxiety about him.

     I am endeavoring as much as possible to follow my studies with some
     regularity. I have forsworn paying and receiving morning visits; so
     that, when no rehearsal interferes, I get my practicing, my
     singing, and my reading in tolerable peace.

     I have had a key of Russell Square offered me, which privilege I
     shall most thankfully accept. Walking regularly is, of course,
     essential, and though I rather dread the idea of solitarily turning
     round and round that dreary emblem of eternity, a circular
     gravel-walk, over-_gloomed_ with soot-blackened privet bushes, I am
     sure I ought, and I mean to do it every day for an hour. We do not
     dine till six, when I do not act, and when I do, I do not go to the
     theater till that hour; so that from ten in the morning, when
     breakfast is over, I get a tolerably long day. I have obtained my
     father's leave to learn drawing and German, and as soon as our
     house is a little more comfortably settled, I shall begin both. I
     do not know whether I have the least talent for drawing, but I have
     so strong a desire to possess that accomplishment that I think, by
     the help of a good master and patience and hard work, I must
     succeed to some decent degree. I wish to provide myself with every
     possible resource against the engrossing excitement of my
     profession while I remain in it, and to fill its place whenever I
     leave it, or it leaves me; all my occupations are with that view
     and to that end.

     My father has promised me to speak to Mr. Murray about publishing
     my play and my verses. I am anxious for this for several reasons,
     some of which I believe I mentioned to you; and to these I have
     since added a great wish to have some good prints I possess framed,
     for my little room, and I should not scruple to apply part of the
     money so earned to that purpose. You asked me which is my room. You
     remember the bathroom, next to what was my uncle John's bedroom, on
     the third floor; the room above that my mother has fitted up
     beautifully for me, and I inhabit it all day long with great
     complacency and a sort of comfortable, Alexander-Selkirk feeling.
     And this suggests a question which has seldom been out of my mind,
     and which I wish to recall to yours. When do you intend to come and
     see me? I can offer you a nest on the _fourth story_, which is
     excellent for your health, as free a circulation of air as a London
     lodging can well afford, and as fine a combination of chimney-pots
     as even your love of the picturesque could desire.

     Dear H----, will you not come and pass a month with us? Now stop a
     bit, and I will point out to you one by one the inducements to and
     advantages of such a step. In the first place, my father and mother
     both request and wish it, and you know how truly happy it would
     make me. Your own people can well spare you for a month, and I am
     sure will be the more inclined to do so from the consideration that
     change of air and scene will be good for you, and that, though your
     stock of original ideas is certainly extraordinary, yet you cannot
     be expected to go on for ever, like a spider, existing mentally in
     the midst of your own weavings, without every now and then
     recruiting your strength and taking in a new supply of material.

     You shall come to London, that huge mass of matter for thought and
     observation, and to me, in whom you find so interesting an epitome
     of all the moods, tenses, and conjugations of every regular and
     irregular form of "to do, to be, and to suffer;" and when you have
     been sufficiently _smoked, fogged_, astonished, and edified, you
     shall return home with one infallible result of your stay with
     us--increased value for a peaceful life, quiet companions, a wide
     sea-view, and potatoes roasted in their skins; not but what you
     shall have the last-mentioned luxury here, if you will but come.

     Now, dear H----, I wish this very much, but promise to bear your
     answer reasonably well; I depend upon your indulging me if you can,
     and shall try not to behave ill if you don't; so do me justice, and
     do not give way to your shyness and habits of retirement. I want
     you to come here before the 20th of November, and then I will let
     you go in time to be at home for Christmas. So now my cause is in
     your hands--_avisez-vous_.

     I wonder whether you have heard that my father has been thrashing
     the editor of the _Age_ newspaper, who, it seems, took offence at
     my father's not appearing on sufficiently familiar terms with him
     somewhere or other when they met, in revenge for which "coldness"
     (as he styles it) he has not ceased for the last six months abusing
     us, every week, in his paper. From what I hear I was the especial
     mark of his malice; of course I need not tell you that, knowing the
     character of this publication, I should never have looked at it,
     and the circumstance of my name appearing in its columns would
     hardly have been an inducement to me to do so. I knew nothing,
     therefore, of my own injuries, but heard general expressions of
     indignation against Mr. Westmacott, and saw that my father was
     extremely exasperated upon the subject. The other night they were
     all going to the play, and pressed me very much to go too, but I
     had something I wished to write, and remained at home. On their
     return my father appeared to me much excited, and I was informed
     that having unluckily come across Mr. Westmacott, his wrath had got
     the better of his self-command, and he had bestowed a severe
     beating upon that individual. I could not help looking very grave
     at this; for though I should have been very well satisfied if it
     could have _rained_ a good thrashing upon Mr. Westmacott from the
     sky, yet as I do not approve of returning injuries by injuries, I
     could not rejoice that my father had done so. I suppose he saw that
     I had no great satisfaction in the event, for he said, "The law
     affords no redress against such attacks as this paper makes on
     people, and I thought it time to take justice in my own hands when
     my daughter is insulted." He then repeated some of the language
     made use of with reference to me in the _Age_, and I could not help
     blushing with indignation to my fingers' ends.

     Perhaps, under the circumstances, it is not surprising that my
     father has done what he has, but I think I should have admired him
     more if he had not. Mr. Westmacott means to bring an action against
     him, and I am afraid he will have to pay dearly for his momentary
     indulgence of temper.

     I must have done writing, though I had a good deal more to say. God
     bless you, dear. If you answer this letter directly, I will write
     you a better next time.

                             Ever yours,
                                                              F. A. K.

The majority of parents--mothers, I believe I ought to say--err in one
or other excess with regard to their children. Love either blinds them
absolutely to their defects, or makes them so terribly alive to them as
to exaggerate every imperfection. It is hard to say which of the errors
is most injurious in its effects. I suppose according as the temperament
is desponding and diffident, or sanguine and self-sufficient, the one
system or the other is likely to do most harm.

My mother's intensely nervous organization, acute perceptions, and
exacting taste made her in everything most keenly alive to our faults
and deficiencies. The unsparing severity of the sole reply or comment
she ever vouchsafed to our stupidity, want of sense, or want of
observation--"I hate a fool"--has remained almost like a cut with a lash
across my memory. Her wincing sensitiveness of ear made it all but
impossible for me to practice either the piano or singing within hearing
of her exclamations of impatient anguish at my false chords and flat
intonations; and I suppose nothing but my sister's _unquenchable_
musical genius would have sustained her naturally timid, sensitive
disposition under such discipline.

Two of our family, my eldest brother and myself, were endowed with such
robust self-esteem and elastic conceit as not only defied repression,
but, unfortunately for us, could never be effectually snubbed; with my
sister and my younger brother the case was entirely different, and
encouragement was rather what they required. How well it is for the best
and wisest, as well as the least good and least wise, of trainers of
youth, that God is above all. I do not myself understand the love that
blinds one to the defects of those dear to one; their faults are part of
themselves, without which they could not be themselves, no more to be
denied or dissembled, it seems to me, than the color of their eyes or
hair. I do not feel the scruple which I observe in others, in alluding
to the failings of those they love. The mingled good and evil qualities
in my friends make up their individual identity, and neither from
myself, nor from them, nor from others does it ever occur to me that
half that identity should or could be concealed. I could as soon imagine
them without their arms or their legs as without their peculiar moral
characteristics, and could no more think of them without their faults
than without their virtues.

Many were the pleasant hours, in spite of my misgivings, that I passed
with a book in my hand, mechanically pacing the gravel walks of Russell
Square. Certain readings of Shakespeare's plays, "Othello" and "Macbeth"
especially, in lonely absorption of spirit, I associate for ever with
that place. I remember, too, reading at my father's request, during
those peripatetic exercises, two plays written by Sheil for his amiable
countrywoman, Miss O'Neill, in which she won deserved laurels: "Evadne,
or the Statue," and "The Apostate." I never had the pleasure of seeing
Miss O'Neill act; but the impression left on my mind by those plays was
that her abilities must have been very great to have given them the
effect and success they had. As for me, as usual, of course my reply to
my father was a disconsolate "I am sure _I_ can do nothing with them."

My friend H---- S----, in coming to us in Russell Street, came to a
house that had been almost a home to her and her brother when they were
children, in the life of my uncle and Mrs. John Kemble, by whom they
were regarded with great affection, and whom they visited and stayed
with as if they had been young relations of their own.

My hope of learning German and drawing was frustrated by the engrossing
calls of my theatrical occupations. The first study was reserved for a
long-subsequent season, when I had recourse to it as a temporary
distraction in perplexity and sorrow, from which I endeavored to find
relief in some sustained intellectual effort; and I mastered it
sufficiently to translate without difficulty Schiller's "Mary Stuart"
and some of his minor poems.

As for drawing, that I have once or twice tried to accomplish, but the
circumstances of my unsettled and restless life have been unfavorable
for any steady effort to follow it up, and I have got no further yet
than a passionate desire to know how to draw. If (as I sometimes
imagine) in a future existence undeveloped capacities and persistent
yearnings for all kinds of good may find expansion and exercise, and not
only our moral but also our intellectual being put forth new powers and
achieve progress in new directions, then in some of the successive
heavens to which, perhaps, I may be allowed to climb (if to any) I shall
be a painter of pictures; a mere idea that suggests a heavenly state of
long-desired capacity, to possess which, here on earth, I would give at
once the finger of either hand least indispensable to an artist. Of the
two pursuits, a painter's or a musician's, considered not as arts but as
accomplishments merely, the former appears to me infinitely more
desirable, for a woman, than the latter far more frequently cultivated
one. The one is a sedative, the other an acute stimulant to the nervous
system. The one is a perfectly independent and always to be commanded
occupation; the other imperatively demands an instrument, utters an
audible challenge to attention, and must either command solitude or
disturb any society not inclined to become an audience. The one
cultivates habits of careful, accurate observation of nature, and
requires patient and precise labor in reproducing her models; the other
appeals powerfully to the imagination and emotions, and charms almost in
proportion as it excites its votaries. With regard to natural aptitude,
the most musical of nations--the German--shows by the impartial training
of its common schools how universal it considers a certain degree of
musical capacity.

Our musical literature of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the
glees, madrigals, rounds, and catches, requiring considerable skill, and
familiarly performed formerly in the country houses and home circles of
our gentry, and the noble church music of our cathedral choirs, bear
witness to a high musical inspiration, and thorough musical training in
their composers and executants.

We seem to have lost this vein of original national music; the
Lancashire weavers and spinners are still good choristers, but among the
German half of our common Teutonic race, the real feeling for and
knowledge of music continues to flourish, while with the Anglo-Saxons of
Britain and America it has dwindled and decayed.

                               GREAT RUSSELL STREET, November 8, 1830.
     DEAREST H----,

     I received your note, for I cannot honor the contents of your last
     with the name of a letter (whatever title the shape and quantity of
     the paper it was written on may claim).

     I have made up my mind to let you make up yours, without urging you
     further upon the subject; but I must reply to one thing. You say to
     me, could you bring with you a strip of sea-shore, a corner of blue
     sky, or half a dozen waves, you would not hesitate. Allow my to say
     that whereas by the sea-side or under a bright sky your society
     enhances the pleasure derived from them, I now desire it (not
     having these) as delightful in itself, increasing my enjoyment in
     the beauties of nature, and compensating for their absence. But I
     have done; only if Mrs. K---- has held out a false hope to me, she
     is ferocious and atrocious, and that is all, and so pray tell her.

     I had left myself so little room to tell you about this
     disagreeable business of the _Age_ newspaper, in my last, that I
     thought what I said of it would be almost unintelligible to you. I
     do not really deserve the sympathy you express for my feelings in
     the matter, for partly from being totally ignorant of the nature
     and extent of my injuries--having never, of course, read a line of
     that scurrilous newspaper--and partly from my indifference to
     everything that is said about me, I really have felt no annoyance
     or distress on the subject, beyond, as I told you, one moment's
     feminine indignation at a coarse expression which was repeated to
     me, but which in strict truth did not and could not apply to me;
     and considerable regret that my father should have touched Mr.
     Westmacott even with a stick, or a "pair of tongs." That individual
     intends bringing a suit for damages, which makes me very anxious to
     have my play and rhymes published, if I can get anything for them,
     as I think the profits derived from my "scribbles" (as good Queen.
     Anne called her letters) would be better bestowed in paying for
     that little ebullition of my father's temper than in decorating my
     tiny sanctum. What does my poor, dear father expect, but that I
     shall be bespattered if I am to live on the highway?

     Mr. Murray has been kind enough to say he will publish my very
     original compositions, and I am preparing them for him. I am sorry
     to say I have heard nothing from my brother; _of_ him I have heard,
     for his whereabout is known and talked of--so much so, indeed, that
     my father says further concealment is at once useless and
     ridiculous. I may therefore now tell you that he is at this moment
     in Spain, trying to levy troops for the cause of the
     constitutionalists. I need not tell you, dearest H----, how much I
     regret this, because you will know how deeply I must disapprove of
     it. I might have thought any young man Quixotic who thus mistook a
     restless, turbulent spirit, eager to embrace a quarrel not his own,
     for patriotism and self-devotion to a sacred cause; but in my
     brother, who had professed aims and purposes so opposed to tumult
     and war and bloodshed, it seems to me a subject of much more
     serious regret. Heaven only knows what plans he has formed for the
     future! His present situation affords anxiety enough to warrant our
     not looking further in anticipation of vexation, but even if the
     present be regarded with the best hope of success in his
     undertaking, the natural consideration must be, as far as he is
     concerned, "What follows?" It is rather a melancholy consideration
     that such abilities should be wasted and misapplied. Our own
     country is in a perilous state of excitement, and these troubled
     times make politicians of us all. Of course the papers will have
     informed you of the risings in Kent and Sussex; London itself is in
     an unquiet state that suggests the heaving of a volcano before an
     eruption. It is said that the Duke of Wellington must resign; I am
     ignorant, but it appears to me that whenever he does it will be a
     bad day's work for England. The alarm and anxiety of the
     aristocracy is extreme, and exhibits itself, even as I have had
     opportunity of observing in society, in the half-angry,
     half-frightened tone of their comments on public events. If one did
     not sympathize with their apprehensions, their mode of expressing
     them would sometimes be amusing.

     The aspect of public affairs is injurious to the theater, and these
     graver interests thin our houses while they crowd the houses of
     Parliament. However, when we played "The Provoked Husband" before
     the king and queen the other night, the theater was crammed from
     floor to ceiling, and presented a most beautiful _coup d'oeil_. I
     have just come out in Mrs. Haller. It seems to have pleased the
     people very much. I need not tell you how much I dislike the play;
     it is the quintessence of trashy sentimentalism; but our audiences
     cry and sob at it till we can hardly hear ourselves speak on the
     stage, and the public in general rejoices in what the servant-maids
     call "something deep." My father acts the Stranger with me, which
     makes it very trying to my nerves, as I mix up all my own personal
     feelings for him with my acting, and the sight of his anguish and
     sense of his displeasure is really very dreadful to me, though it
     is only all about "stuff and nonsense" after all.

     I must leave off writing; I am excruciated with the toothache,
     which has tormented me without respite all day. I will inclose a
     line to Mrs. K----, which I will beg you to convey to her.

     With kindest love to all your circle, believe me ever yours,

                                                              F. A. K.

     Thank you for your delicious French comic song; you should come to
     London to hear how admirably I sing it.

Mrs. K---- was a Miss Dawson, sister of the Right Honorable George
Dawson, and the wife of an eminent member of the Irish bar. She was a
woman of great mental cultivation and unusual information upon subjects
which are generally little interesting to women. She was a passionate
partisan of Owen the philanthropist and Combe the phrenologist, and
entertained the most sanguine hopes of the regeneration of the whole
civilized world through the means of the theories of these benevolent
reformers. Except Queen Elizabeth, of glorious memory, I do not think a
woman can have existed who combined the love of things futile and
serious to the same degree as Mrs. K----. Her feminine taste for
fashionable society and the frivolities of dress, together with her
sober and solid studies of the gravest sort and her devotion to the
speculations of her friends Owen and Combe, constituted a rare union of
contrasts. She was a remarkable instance of the combination exemplified
by more than one eminent person of her sex, of a capacity for serious
study, solid acquirements, and enlightened and liberal views upon the
most important subjects, with a decided inclination for those more
trifling pursuits supposed to be the paramount interests of the female
mind. She was the dear friend of my dear friend Miss S----, and
corresponded with her upon the great subject of social progress with a
perfect enthusiasm of theoretical reform.

                                   GREAT RUSSELL STREET, November 14th
     DEAREST H----,

     Thank you a thousand times for your kindness in consenting to come
     to us. We are all very happy in the hope of having you, nor need
     you be for a moment nervous or uncomfortable from the idea that we
     shall receive or treat you otherwise than as one of ourselves. I
     have left my mother and my aunt in the room which is to be yours,
     devising and arranging matters for you. It is a very small roost,
     dear H----, but it is the only spare room in our house, and
     although it is three stories up, it is next to mine, and I hope
     good neighborhood will atone for some deficiencies. With regard to
     interfering with the routine or occupations of the family, they are
     of a nature which, fortunately for your scruples, renders that
     impossible. There is but one thing in your letter which rather
     distressed me: you allude to the inconveniences of a woman
     traveling in mail coaches in December, and I almost felt, when I
     read the sentence, what my aunt Dall told me after I had requested
     you to come to us now, that it was a want of consideration in me to
     have invited you at so ungenial a season for traveling. I had one
     reason for doing so which I hope will excuse the apparent
     selfishness of the arrangement. Toward the end of the spring I
     shall be leaving town, I hope to come nearer your land, and the
     beginning of our spring is seldom much more mild and inviting or
     propitious for traveling than the winter itself. Then, too, the
     early spring is the time when our engagements are unavoidably very
     numerous; to decline going into society is not in my power, and to
     drag you to my balls (which I love dearly) would, I think, scarce
     be a pleasure to you (whom I love more), and to go to them when I
     might be with you would be to run the risk of destroying my taste
     for the only form of intercourse with my fellow-creatures which is
     not at present irksome to me. Think, dear H----, if ceasing to
     dance I should cease to care for universal humanity--indeed, take
     to hating it, and become an absolute misanthropist! What a risk!

     I have heard nothing more of or from John, but the newspaper
     reports of the proceedings are rather more favorable than they have
     been, though I fear one cannot place much reliance on them. I do
     not know how the papers you see speak of the aspect of affairs in
     England at this moment; the general feeling seems to be one of
     relief, and that, whatever apprehensions may have been entertained
     for the tranquillity of the country, the storm has blown over for
     the present. Everything is quiet again in London and promises to
     remain so, and there seems to be a sort of "drawing of a long
     breath" sensation in the state of the public mind, though I cannot
     myself help thinking not only that we have been, but that we still
     are, on the eve of some great crisis.

     Mrs. Haller is going on very well; it is well spoken of, I am told,
     and upon the whole it seems to have done me credit, though I am
     surprised it has, for there is nothing in the part that gives me
     the least satisfaction. My next character, I hear, is to be of a
     very different order of frailty--Calista, in "The Fair Penitent."
     However odious both play and part are, there are powerful
     situations in it, and many opportunities for fine acting, but I am
     afraid I am quite unequal to such a _turpissime_ termagant, with
     whom my aunt did such tremendous things.

My performance of "The Fair Penitent" was entirely ineffective, and did
neither me nor the theater any service; the play itself is a feeble
adaptation of Massinger's powerful drama of "The Fatal Dowry," and, as
generally happens with such attempts to fit our old plays to our modern
stage, the fundamentally objectionable nature of the story could not be
reformed without much of the vigorous and terrible effect of the
original treatment evaporating in the refining process. Mr. Macready
revived Massinger's fine play with considerable success, but both the
matter and the manner of our dramatic ancestors is too robust for the
audiences of our day, who nevertheless will go and see "Diane de Lys,"
by a French company of actors, without wincing. Of Mrs. Siddons's Mrs.
Haller, one of her admirers once told me that her majestic and imposing
person, and the commanding character of her beauty, militated against
her effect in the part. "No man, alive or dead," said he, "would have
dared to take a liberty with her; wicked she might be, but weak she
could not be, and when she told the story of her ill-conduct in the
play, nobody believed her." While another of her devotees, speaking of
"The Fair Penitent," said that it was worth sitting out the piece for
her scene with Romont alone, and to see "such a splendid animal in such
a magnificent rage."


My friend left us after a visit of a few weeks, taking my sister to
Ireland with her on a visit to Ardgillan.

                                  GREAT RUSSELL STREET, December 21st.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     My aunt Dall brought me home word that you wished me to send a
     letter which should meet you on your arrival at Ardgillan; and I
     would have done so, but that I had previously promised myself that
     I would do nothing this day till I had copied out the fourth act of
     "The Star of Seville," and you know unless I am steady at my work
     this week, I shall break my word a second time, which is
     _impossible_, as it ought to have been at first.

[A tragedy in five acts, called "The Star of Seville," at which I was
working, is here referred to. My father had directed my attention to the
subject by putting in my hands a sketch of the life and works of Lope de
Vega, by Lord Holland. The story of La Estrella de Seviglia appeared to
my father eminently dramatic, and he excited me to choose it for the
subject of a drama. I did so, and Messrs. Saunders and Ottley were good
enough to publish it; it had no merit whatever, either dramatic or
poetical (although I think the subject gave ample scope for both), and I
do not remember a line of it.]

     However, it is nine o'clock; I have not ceased writing except to
     dine, and my act is copied; and now I can give you an hour before
     bedtime. How are you? and how is dear A----? Give her several good
     kisses for me; she is by this time admirable friends with all your
     circle, I doubt not, and slightly, superficially acquainted with
     the sea. Tell her she is a careless little puss, though, for she
     forgot the plate with my effigy on it for Hercules [Miss S----'s
     nephew] which she was to have given my aunt to pack up. I am quite
     sorry about it; tell him, however, he shall not lose by it, for I
     will send him both a plate with the Belvidera and a mug with my own
     natural head on it, the next time you return home.

     I stood in the dining-room listening to your carriage wheels until
     I believe they were only rolling in my imagination; you cannot
     fancy how doleful our breakfast was. Henry was perfectly enraged at
     finding that A---- was gone in earnest, and my father began to
     wonder how it had ever come to pass that he had consented to let
     her go. After breakfast, Dall and I walked to Mr. Cartwright's (the
     dentist), who fortunately did not torture me much; for if he had,
     my spirits were so exceedingly low that I am sure I should have
     disgraced myself and cried like a coward. As soon as we came home I
     set to work, and have never stopped copying till I began this
     letter, when, having done my day's work, I thought I might tell you
     how much I miss you and dear A----.

     My father is gone to the theater upon business to-night; my mother
     is very unwell, and Dall and Henry, as well as myself, are stupid
     and dreary.

     My dear H----, tell me how you bore the journey and the cold, and
     how dear A---- fared on the road; how you found all your people,
     and how the dell and the sea are looking. Write to me very _soon_
     and _very_ long. You have let several stitches fall in one of the
     muffetees you knit for me, and it is all running to ruin; I must
     see and pick them up at the theater on Thursday night. You have
     left all manner of things behind you; among others, Channing's two
     essays; I will keep all your property honestly for you, and shall
     soon have time to read those essays, which I very much wish to do.

     A large supply of Christmas fare arrived from Stafford to-day from
     my godmother, and among other things, a huge nosegay for me. I was
     very grateful for the flowers; they are always a pleasure, and
     to-day I thought they tried to be a consolation to me.

     Now I must break off. Do you remember Madame de Sévigné's "Adieu;
     ce n'est pas jusqu'à demain--jusqu'à samedi--jusqu' aujourd'hui en
     huit; c'est adieu pour un an"? and yet I certainly have no right to
     grumble, for our meeting as we have done latterly is a pleasure as
     little to have been anticipated as the events which have enabled us
     to do so, and for which I have so many reasons to be thankful. God
     bless you, dear H----; kiss dear little A---- for me, and remember
     me affectionately to all your people.

                        I am yours ever truly,

     Dall sends her best love to both, and all; and Henry bids me tell
     A---- that the name of the Drury Lane pantomime is "Harlequin and
     Davy Jones, or Mother Carey's Chickens." Ours is yet a secret; he
     will write her all about it.

Mr. Cartwright, the eminent dentist, was a great friend of my father's;
he was a cultivated gentleman of refined taste, and an enlightened judge
and liberal patron of the arts. If anything could have alleviated the
half-hour's suspense before one obtained admission to his beautiful
library, which was on some occasions (of, I suppose, slight importance)
his "operating-room," it would have been the choice specimens of lovely
landscape painting, by the first English masters, which adorned his
dining-room. I have sat by Sir Thomas Lawrence at the hospitable
dinner-table, where Mr. Cartwright gave his friends the most agreeable
opportunity of using the teeth which he, preserved for them, and heard
in his house the best classical English vocal music, capitally executed
by the first professors of that school, and brilliant amicable rivalry
of first-rate piano-forte performances by Cramer, Neukomm, Hummel, and
Moscheles, who were all personal friends of their host.

                                GREAT RUSSELL STREET, January 3, 1831.
     MY DEAR H----,

     I promised you, in the interesting P.S. I annexed to my aunt Dall's
     letter, to write to you to-day, and I sit down this evening to
     fulfill my promise. My father is gone out to dinner, my mother is
     asleep on the sofa, Dall reclines dozing in that blissful armchair
     you wot of, and Henry, happier than either, is extended snoring
     before the fire on the softest, thickest, splendidest colored rug
     (a piece of my mother's workmanship) that the most poetical canine
     imagination could conceive; I should think an earthly type of those
     heavenly rugs which virtuous dogs, according to your creed, are
     destined to enjoy.

[My friend Miss S---- held (without having so eloquently advocated) the
theory of her and my friend Miss Cobbe, of the possible future existence
of animals; such animals at any rate as had formed literally a precious
part of the earthly existence of their owners, and in whom a certain
sense, so nearly resembling conscience, is developed, by their obedience
and attachment to the superior race, that it is difficult to consider
them unmoral creatures. Perhaps, however, if the choice were given our
four-footed friends to share our future prospects and present
responsibility, they might decline the offer, "Thankfu' they werena'
men, but dogs."]

     Dear H----, the pleasant excitement of your society assisted the
     natural contentedness or indifference of my disposition to throw
     aside many reflections upon myself and others, the life I lead and
     its various annoyances, which have been unpleasantly forced upon me
     since your departure; and when I say that I do not feel happy, you
     will not count it merely the blue-devilish fancy of a German brain
     or an English (that is bilious) stomach.

     I have a feeling, not of dissatisfaction or discontent so much as
     of sadness and weariness, though I struggle always and sometimes
     pretty successfully to rouse myself from it.

     You say you wish to know what we did on Christmas Day. I'll tell
     you. In the morning I went to church, after which I came home and
     copied "The Star of Seville" till dinner-time. After dinner my
     mother, who had proposed spending the evening at our worthy
     pastor's, Mr. Sterky's, finding my father disinclined for that
     exertion, remained at home and went to sleep; my father likewise,
     Dall likewise, Henry likewise; and I copied on at my play till
     bedtime: _voilà_. On Monday, contrary to my expectation, I had to
     play Euphrasia before the pantomime. You know we were to spend
     Christmas Eve at my aunt Siddons's; we had a delightful evening and
     I was very happy. My aunt came down from the drawing-room (for we
     danced in the dining-room on the ground floor) and sat among us,
     and you cannot think how nice and pretty it was to see her
     surrounded by her clan, more than three dozen strong; some of them
     so handsome, and many with a striking likeness to herself, either
     in feature or expression. Mrs. Harry and Cecy danced with us, and
     we enjoyed ourselves very much; I wished for dear A----
     exceedingly. Wednesday we dined at Mrs. Mayow's.

[My mother's dear friend, Mrs. Mayow, was the wife of a gentleman in a
high position in one of our Government offices. She was a West Indian
creole, and a singularly beautiful person. Her complexion was of the
clear olive-brown of a perfectly Moorish skin, with the color of a
damask rose in her cheeks, and lips as red as coral. Her features were
classically symmetrical, as was the soft, oval contour of her face; her
eyes and hair were as black as night, and the former had a halo of fine
lashes of the most magnificent length. She never wore any head-dress but
a white muslin turban, the effect of which on her superb dark face was
strikingly handsome, and not only its singularity but its noble and
becoming simplicity distinguished her in every assembly, amid the
various fantastic head-gear of each successive Parisian "fashion of the
day." As a girl she had been remarkably slender, but she grew to an
enormous size, without the increased bulk of her person disfiguring or
rendering coarse her beautiful face.]

     Thursday I acted Lady Townley, and acted it abominably ill, and was
     much mortified to find that Cecilia had got my cousin Harry to
     chaperon her two boys to the play that night; because, as he never
     before went to see me act, it is rather provoking that the only
     time he did so I should have sent him to sleep, which he gallantly
     assured me I did. I do not find cousins so much more polite than
     brothers (one's natural born plagues). Harry's compliment to my
     acting had quite a brotherly tenderness, I think. Friday, New
     Year's Eve, we went to a ball at Mrs. G----'s, which I did not much
     enjoy; and yesterday, New Year's Day, Henry and I spent the evening
     at Mrs. Harry's. There was no one there but Cecy and her two boys,
     and we danced, almost without stopping, from eight till twelve.

[The lads my cousin Cecilia called her boys were the two younger sons of
her brother George Siddons, Mrs. Siddons's eldest son, then and for many
years after collector of the port at Calcutta. These lads and their
sisters were being educated in England, and were spending their
Christmas holidays with their grandmother, Mrs. Siddons. The youngest of
these three schoolboys, Henry, was the father of the beautiful Mrs.
Scott-Siddons of the present day. It was in the house of my cousin
George Siddons, then one of the very pleasantest and gayest in Calcutta,
that his young nephew Harry, son of his sister-in-law, my dear Mrs.
Harry Siddons, was to find a home on his arrival in India, and
subsequently a wife in Harriet, the second daughter of the house.]

     I am to act Juliet to-morrow, and Calista on Thursday; Friday and
     Saturday I am to act Mrs. Haller and Lady Townley at Brighton. I
     shall see the sea, that's one comfort, and it will be something to
     live upon for some time to come. Next Wednesday week I am to come
     out in Bianca, in Milman's "Fazio." Do you know the play? It is
     very powerful, and my part is a very powerful one indeed. I have
     hopes it may succeed greatly. Mr. Warde is to be my Fazio, for, I
     hear, people object to my having my father's constant support, and
     wish to see me act _alone_; what geese, to be sure! I wonder
     whether they think my father has hold of strings by the means of
     which he moves my arms and legs! I am very glad something likely to
     strike the public is to be given before "Inez de Castro" (a tragedy
     of Miss Mitford's), for it will need all the previous success of a
     fine play and part to carry us safely through that.

     I have not seen Mr. Murray again; I conclude he is out of town just

     We have made all inquiries about poor dear A----'s trunk, and of
     course, as soon as we hear of it, it will be sent to her; I am very
     sorry for her, poor dear little child, but I advise her, when she
     does get them, to put on each of her new dresses for an hour by
     turns, and sit opposite the glass in them. Good-by, dear H----.
     Your affectionate

                                                                 F. K.

                              GREAT RUSSELL STREET, 6th January, 1831.
     DEAREST H----,

     I have only time to say two words to you, for I am in the midst of
     preparations for our flight to Brighton, to-morrow. Thank you for
     your last letter; I liked it very much, and will answer it at
     length when we come back to town.

     Mr. Murray has got my MSS., but I have yet heard nothing about it
     from him. My fire is not in that economical invention, the
     "miserable basket" [an iron frame fitting inside our common-sized
     grate to limit the extravagant consumption of coal], but well
     spread out in the large comfortable grate; yet I am sitting with my
     door and windows all wide open; it is a lovely, bright, mild spring
     day. I do not lose my time any more of a morning watching the fire
     kindling, for the housemaid lights it before I get out of bed, so
     my poetry and philosophy are robbed of a most interesting subject
     of meditation.

     With regard to what you say about A----, I do not know that I
     expected her to love, though I was sure she would admire, nature;
     she is very young yet, and her quick, observant mind and tendency
     to wit and sarcasm make human beings more amusing, if not more
     interesting, to her than inanimate objects. It is not the beauty of
     nature alone, as it appeals merely to our senses, that produces
     that passionate love for it which induces us to prefer communion
     with it to the intercourse of our fellows. The elevated trains of
     thought, and the profound and sublime aspirations which the
     external beauty of the world suggests, draw and rivet our mind and
     soul to its contemplation, and produce a sort of awful sense of
     companionship with the Unseen, which cannot, I think, be an
     experience of early youth. For then the volatile, vivid, and
     various spirit, with its sympathizing and communicative tendency,
     has a strong propensity to spend itself on that which can return
     its value in like commodity; and exchange of thought and feeling is
     a preponderating desire and necessity, and human fellowship and
     intercourse is naturally attractive to unworn and unwearied human
     nature. I suppose the consolatory element in the beautiful
     _un_human world in which we live is not often fully appreciated by
     the young, they want comparatively so little of it; youth is itself
     so thoroughly its own consoler. Some years hence, I dare say A----
     will love both the sea and sky better than she does now. To a
     certain degree, too, the love of solitude, which generally
     accompanies a deep love for nature, is a kind of selfishness that
     does not often exist in early life.

     I am desired to close this letter immediately; I have therefore
     only time to add that I act Calista to-night here, Mrs. Haller
     to-morrow at Brighton, and Saturday, also there, Lady Townley. On
     Monday I act Juliet here, and on Wednesday Bianca in "Fazio"--when
     pray for me! Now you know where to think of me. I will write to you
     a _real_ letter on Sunday.

     Kiss A---- for me, and do not be unhappy, my dear, for you will
     soon see me again; and in the meantime I advise you, as you think
     my picture so much more agreeable than myself, to console yourself
     with that. Good-by.

                          Your affectionate

The fascination of sitting by a brook and watching the lapsing water,
or, on the sands, the oncoming, uprising, breaking, and melting away of
the white wave-crests, is, I suppose, matter of universal experience. I
do not know whether watching fire has the same irresistible attraction
for everybody. It has almost a stronger charm for me; and the hours I
have spent sitting on the rug in front of my grate, and watching the
wonderful creature sparkling and glowing there, have been almost more
than I dare remember. I was obliged at last, in order not to waste half
my day in the contemplation of this bewitching element, to renounce a
practice I long indulged in of lighting my own fire; but to this moment
I envy the servant who does that office, or should envy her but that she
never remains on her knees worshiping the beautiful, subtle spirit she
has evoked, as I could still find it in my heart to do.

I think I remember that Shelley had this passion for fire-gazing; it's a
comfort to think that whatever he could _say_, he could never _see_ more
enchanting things in his grate than I have in mine; but indeed, even for
Shelley, the motions and the colors of flames are unspeakable.

                                GREAT RUSSELL STREET, January 9, 1831.
     DEAR H----,

     I promised you a letter to-day, and if I can do so now, at least I
     will begin to keep my promise, though I think it possible my
     courage may fail me after the first side of my sheet of paper. We
     arrived in town from Brighton on this afternoon at four o'clock,
     and though it is not yet ten I am so weary, and have so much to do
     to-morrow (rehearsing "Fazio" and acting Juliet), that I think I
     shall not sit up much longer to-night, even to write to you.

     We found my mother tolerably well, and Henry, who had been out
     skating all day, in great beauty and high spirits. I must now tell
     you what I had not room for when I wrote you those few lines in
     A----'s letter.

     Mr. Barton, a friend of John's who traveled with him in Germany,
     and whose sister has lately married John Sterling (of whom you have
     often heard us speak), called here the other day, and during the
     course of a long visit told us a great deal of the very beginning
     of this Spanish expedition, and of the share Mr. Sterling and
     Richard Trench [the present venerable archbishop of Dublin] had in
     its launching.

     It seems (though he would not say whence they derived them) that
     they were plentifully supplied with funds, with which they
     purchased and manned a vessel destined to carry arms and ammunition
     to Spain for the purposes of the revolutionists. This ship they put
     under command of an experienced _smuggler_, and it was actually
     leaving the mouth of the Thames with Sterling and Mr. Trench on
     board it, bound for Spain, when by order of Lord Aberdeen it was
     stopped. Our two young gentlemen jumped into a boat and made their
     escape, but Mr. Sterling, hearing that government threatened to
     proceed against the captain of the captured vessel, came forward
     and owned it as his property, and exonerated the man, as far as he
     could, from any share of the blame attaching to an undertaking in
     which he was an irresponsible instrument. Matters were in this
     state, with a prosecution pending over John Sterling, when the
     ministry was changed, and nothing further has been done or said by
     government on the subject since.

     My brother had gone off to Gibraltar previously to all this, to
     take measures for facilitating their landing; he is now quietly and
     I hope comfortably wintering there. Torrijos, it seems, is not at
     all disheartened, but is waiting for the propitious moment, which,
     however, from the appearance of things, I should not consider
     likely to be at hand just yet. Mr. Sterling has, I understand, been
     so seriously ill since his marriage that at one time his life was
     despaired of, and even now that he is a little recovered he is
     ordered to Madeira as soon as he can be moved. This is very sad for
     his poor bride.

     Of our home circle I have nothing to tell you. My father, Dall, and
     I had a very delightful day on Saturday at Brighton. After a lovely
     day's journey, we arrived there on Friday. Our companion in the
     coach luckily happened to be a son of Dr. Burney's, who was an old
     and intimate friend of my father's, and they discoursed together
     the whole way along, of all sorts of events and people: of my uncle
     John and my aunt Siddons, in their prime; of Mrs. Jordan and the
     late king; of the present one, Harlow, Lawrence, and innumerable
     other folk of note and notoriety. Among other things they had a
     long discussion on the subject of Hamlet's feigned or--as my father
     maintains and I believe--real madness; all this formed a very
     amusing accompaniment to the history of Sir Launcelot du Lac, which
     I was reading with much delight when I was not listening to their

     I like all that concerns the love adventures of these valorous
     knights of yore; but their deadly blows and desperate thrusts,
     their slashing, gashing, mashing, mangling, and hewing bore me to
     death. The fate of Guinevere interested me deeply, but Sir
     Launcelot's warlike exploits I got dreadfully weary of; I prefer
     him greatly in hall and bower rather than in tournament and

     We got into Brighton at half-past four, and had just time to dine,
     dress, and go to the theater, where we were to act "The Stranger."
     The house was very full indeed, but my reception was not quite what
     I had expected; for whether they were disappointed in my dress
     (Mrs. Haller being traditionally clothed in droopacious white
     muslin, and I dressing her in gray silk, which is both stiff and
     dull looking, as I think it should be), or whether, which I think
     still more likely, they were disappointed in my "personal
     appearance," which, as you know, is neither tragical nor heroic, I
     know not, but I thought their welcome rather, cold; but the truth
     is, I believe my London audience spoils me for every other.
     However, the play went off admirably, and I believe everybody was
     satisfied, not excepting the manager, who assured me so full and
     _enthusiastic_ a house had not been seen in Brighton for many

     Our rooms at the inn [the old Ship was then _the_ famous Brighton
     hotel] looked out upon the sea, but it was so foggy when we entered
     Brighton that although I perceived the _motion_ of the waves
     through the mist that hung over them, their color and every object
     along the shore was quite indistinct. The next morning was
     beautiful. Dall and I ran down to the beach before breakfast; there
     are no sands, unluckily, but we stood ankle-deep in the shingles,
     watching the ebbing tide and sniffing the sweet salt air for a long
     time with great satisfaction. After breakfast we rehearsed "The
     Provoked Husband," and from the theater proceeded to take a walk.

     All this was very fine, but still it was streets and houses; and
     there were crowds of gay people parading up and down, looking as
     busy about nothing and as full of themselves as if the great awful
     sea had not been close beside them. In fact, I was displeased with
     the levity of their deportment, and the contrast of all that
     fashionable frivolity with the grandest of all natural objects
     seemed to me incongruous and discordant; and I was so annoyed at
     finding myself by the sea-side and _yet_ still surrounded with all
     the glare and gayety of London, that I think I wished myself at the
     bottom of the cliff and Brighton at the bottom of the sea. However,
     we walked on and on, beyond the Parade, beyond the town, till we
     had nothing but the broad open downs to contrast with the broad
     open sea, and then I was completely happy. I gave my muff to my
     father and my fur tippet to Dall, for the sun shone powerfully on
     the heights, and I walked and ran along the edge of the cliffs,
     gazing and pondering, and enjoying the solemn sound and the
     brilliant sight, and the nervous excitement of a slight sense of
     fear as I peeped over at the depth below me. From this diversion,
     however, my father called me away, and, to console me for not
     allowing me to run the risk of being dashed to pieces, offered to
     run a race up a small hill with me, and beat me hollow.

     We had walked about four miles when we halted at one of the
     Preventive Service stations to look about us. The tide had not yet
     come in, but its usual height when up was indicated, first by a
     delicate, waving fringe of sea-weed, like very bright green moss,
     and then, nearer in shore, by an incrustation of chalk washed from
     the cliffs, which formed a deep embossed silver embroidery along
     the coast as far as eye could see. The sunshine was dazzling, and
     its light on the detached masses of milky chalk which lay far
     beneath us made them appear semi-transparent, like fragments of
     alabaster or carnelian. I was wishing that I _could but_ get down
     the cliff, when a worthy sailor appeared toiling up it, and I
     discovered his winding stair case cut in the great chalk wall, down
     which I proceeded without further ado. I was a little frightened,
     for the steps were none of the most regular or convenient, and I
     felt as if I were hanging (and at an uncomfortable distance from
     either) between heaven and earth. I got down safe, however, and ran
     to the water's edge, danced a galop on one smooth little sand
     island, waited till the tide, which was coming up, just touched my
     toes, gave it a kick of cowardly defiance, and then showed it a
     fair pair of heels and scrambled up the cliff again, very much
     enchanted with my expedition.

     I think a fight with smugglers up that steep staircase at night,
     with a heavy sea rolling and roaring close under it, would be
     glorious! When I reached the top my father said it was time to go
     home, so we returned. The Parade was crowded like Hyde Park in the
     height of the season [Thackeray called Brighton London-super-Mare],
     and when once I was out of the crowd and could look down upon it
     from our windows as it promenaded up and down, I never saw anything
     gayer: carriages of every description--most of them
     open--cavalcades of ladies and gentlemen riding to and fro, throngs
     of smart bonnets and fine dresses; and beyond all this the high
     tide, with one broad crimson path across it, thrown by the sun,
     looking as if it led into some enchanted world beyond the waters.

     I thought of dear A----; for though she is seeing the sea--and I
     think the sea at Ardgillan, with its lovely mountains on one side
     and Skerries on the other, far more beautiful than this--I am sure
     she would have been enchanted with the life, the bustle, and
     brilliancy of the Parade combined with its fine sea view, for I,
     who am apt rather selfishly to wish myself alone in the enjoyment
     of nature, looked at the bright, moving throng with pleasure when
     once I was out of it.

     Our house at the theater at night was very fine; and now, as you
     are perhaps tired of Brighton, you will not be sorry to get home
     with me; but pray communicate the end of our "land sorrow" to
     A----. We were to start for London Sunday morning at ten [a journey
     of six hours by coach, now of less than two by rail], and my father
     had taken three inside places in a coach, which was to call for us
     at our inn. I ran down to the beach and had a few moments alone
     there. It was a beautiful morning, and the fishing boats were one
     by one putting out into the calmest sleepy sea. I longed to ask to
     be taken on board one of them; but I was summoned away to the
     coach, and found on reaching it that, the fourth place being
     occupied by a sickly looking woman with a sickly looking child
     nearly as big as herself in her lap, my father, notwithstanding the
     coldness of the morning, had put himself on the outside. I went to
     sleep; from which blessed refuge of the wretched I was recalled by
     a powerful and indescribable smell, which, seizing me by the nose,
     naturally induced me to open my eyes. Mother and daughter were each
     devouring a lump of black, strong, greasy plum cake; as a specific,
     I presume, against (or for?) sickness in a stage-coach.

     The late Duke of Beaufort, when Marquis of Worcester, used
     frequently to amuse himself by driving the famous fast Brighton
     coach, the Highflyer. One day, as my father was hastily depositing
     his shilling gratuity in his driver's outstretched hand, a shout of
     laughter, and a "Thank ye, Charles Kemble," made him aware of the
     gentleman Jehu under whose care he had performed the journey.

                                          WEDNESDAY, January 12, 1831.
     DEAREST H----,

     I received your letter dated the 7th the night before last, and
     purposed ending this long epistle yesterday evening with an answer
     to it, but was prevented by having to go with my mother to dine
     with Mrs. L----, that witty woman and more than middle-aged beauty
     you have heard me speak of. I was repaid for the exertion I had not
     made very willingly, for I had a pleasant dinner. This lady has a
     large family and very large fortune, which at her death goes to her
     eldest son, who is a young man of enthusiastically religious views
     and feelings; he has no profession or occupation, but devotes
     himself to building chapels and schools, which he himself
     superintends with unwearied assiduity; and though he has never
     taken orders, he preaches at some place in the city, to which
     crowds of people flock to hear him; none of which is at all
     agreeable to his mother, whose chief anxiety, however, is lest some
     one of the fair Methodists who attend his exhortations should
     admire his earthly expectations as much as his heavenly prospects,
     and induce this young apostle to marry her for her soul's sake; all
     which his mother told mine, with many lamentations over the godly
     zeal of her "serious" son, certainly not often made with regard to
     young men who are likely to inherit fine fortunes and estates. One
     of this young gentleman's sisters is strongly imbued with the same
     religious feeling, and I think her impressions deepened by her very
     delicate state of health. I am much attracted by her gentle manner,
     and the sweet, serious expression of her face, and the earnest tone
     of her conversation; I like her very much.

     My mother is reading Moore's "Life of Byron," and has fallen in
     love with the latter and in hate with his wife. She declares that
     he was originally good, generous, humble, religious--indeed,
     everything that a man can be, short of absolute perfection. She
     thinks me narrow-minded and prejudiced because I do not care to
     read his life, and because, in spite of all Moore's assertions, I
     maintain that with Byron's own works in one's hand his character
     cannot possibly be a riddle to anybody. I dare say the devil may
     sometimes be painted blacker than he is; but Byron has a fancy for
     the character of Lucifer, and seems to me, on the contrary, _très
     pauvre diable_. I have no idea that Byron was half fiend, half man
     (at least, no more so than all of us are); I dare say he was not at
     all really an atheist, as he has been reputed; indeed, I do not
     think Lord Byron, in spite of all the fuss that has been made about
     him, was by any means an uncommon character. His genius was indeed
     rare, but his pride, vanity, and selfishness were only so in
     degree. You know, H----, nobody was ever a more fanatical worshiper
     of his poetry than I was: time was that I devoured his verses
     (poison as they were to me) like "raspberry tarts;" I still know,
     and remember with delight, their exquisite beauty and noble vigor,
     but they don't agree with me. And, without knowing anything of his
     religious doubts or moral delinquencies, I cannot at all agree with
     Mr. Moore that upon the showing of his own works Byron was a "good
     man." If he was, no one has done him such injustice as himself; and
     if _he_ was _good_, then what was Milton? and what genial and
     gentle Shakespeare?

     Good-by, dear H----; write me along "thank you" for this longest of
     mortal letters, and believe that I am your ever affectionate

                                                              F. A. K.

     I began living upon my allowance on New Year's Day, and am keeping
     a most rigorous account of every farthing I spend. I have a
     tolerable "acquisitiveness" among my other organs, but think I
     would rather get than keep money, and to earn would always be
     pleasanter to me than to save. I act in "Fazio" to-night, Friday,
     and Monday next, so you will know where to find me on those

                                                         MONDAY, 27th.
     DEAR H----,

     Horace Twiss has been out of town, and I have been obliged to delay
     this for a frank. You will be glad, I know, to hear that "Fazio"
     has made a great hit. Milman is coming to see me in it to-night; I
     wish I could induce him to write me such another part.

     We are over head and ears in the mire of chancery again. The
     question of the validity of our--the great theater--patents is now
     before Lord Brougham; I am afraid they are not worth a farthing. I
     am to hear from Mr. Murray some day this week; considering the
     features of my handwriting, it is no wonder it has taken him some
     time to become acquainted with the MSS.

                               GREAT RUSSELL STREET, January 29, 1831.
     MY DEAR H----,

     All our occupations have been of a desultory and exciting kind, and
     all our doings and sayings have been made matter of surprise and
     admiring comment; of course, therefore, we are disinclined for
     anything like serious or solid study, and naturally conclude that
     sayings and doings so much admired and wondered at _are_ admirable
     and astonishing. A---- is possessed of strong powers of ridicule,
     and the union of this sarcastic vein with a vivid imagination seems
     to me unusual; their prey is so different that they seldom hunt in
     company, I think. When I heard that she was reading "Mathilde"
     (Madame Cottin), I was almost afraid of its effect upon her. I
     remember at school, when I was her age, crying three whole days and
     half nights over it; but I sadly overrated her sensibility. Her
     letter to me contained a summary, abusive criticism of "Mathilde"
     as a book, and ended by presenting to me one of those ludicrous
     images which I abhor, because, while they destroy every serious or
     elevated impression, they are so absurd that one cannot defend
     one's self from the "idiot laughter" they excite, and leave one no
     associations but grinning ones with one's romantic ideals. Her
     letters are very clever and make me laugh exceedingly, but I am
     sorry she has such a detestation of Mrs. Marcet and natural
     philosophy. As for her letters being shown about, I am not sorry
     that my indiscretion has relieved A---- from a restraint which, if
     it had only been disagreeable to her, would not have mattered so
     much, but which is calculated to destroy all possibility of free
     and natural correspondence, and inevitably renders letters mere
     compositions and their young authors vain and pretentious. I have
     always thought the system a bad one, for under it, if a girl's
     letters are thought dull, she feels as if she had made a failure,
     and if they are laughed at and passed from hand to hand with her
     knowledge, the result is much worse; and in either case, what she
     writes is no longer the simple expression of her thoughts and
     feelings, but samples of wit, ridicule, and comic fancy which are
     to be thought amusing and clever by others than those to whom they
     are addressed.

     You say my mother in her note to you speaks well of my acting in
     Bianca. It has succeeded very well, and I think I act some of it
     very well; but my chief pleasure in its success was certainly her
     approbation. She is a very severe critic, and, as she censures
     sharply, I am only too thankful when I escape her condemnation. I
     think you will be pleased with Bianca. I was surprised when I came
     to act it at finding how terribly it affected me, for I am not
     naturally at all jealous, and in this play, while feigning to be
     so, it seemed to me that it must be really the most horrible
     suffering conceivable; I am almost sorry that I can imagine it well
     enough to represent it well.

     You say that we love intellect, but I do not agree with you; I do
     not think intellect excites love. I do not even think that it
     increases our love for those we do love, though it adds admiration
     to our affection. I certainly do admire intellect immensely; mental
     power, which allied to moral power, goodness, is a force to uphold
     the universe.

     I have forsworn all discussions about Byron; my mother and I differ
     so entirely on the subject that, as I cannot adopt her view of his
     character, I find it easier to be silent about my own. Perhaps her
     extreme admiration of him may have thrown me into a deeper
     disapprobation than I should otherwise have expressed. He has many
     excuses, doubtless: the total want of early restraint, the
     miserable influence of the injudicious mother who alternately
     idolized and victimized him, the bitter castigation of his first
     plunge into literature, and then the flattering, fawning, fulsome
     adoration of his habitual associates, of course were all against
     him; but, after all, one cannot respect the man who strikes colors
     to the enemy as one does the one who comes conqueror out of the
     conflict. I now believe that there is a great deal of unreality in
     those sentiments to which the charm of his verses lent an
     appearance of truth and depth; in fact, his poetical feelings will
     sometimes stand the test of sober reflection quite as little as his
     grammar will that of a severe application of the rules of syntax.
     He has written immensely for mere effect, but all young people read
     him, and young people are not apt to analyze closely what they feel
     strongly, and, judging by my own experience, I should think Byron
     had done more mischief than one would like to be answerable for.
     When I said this the other day to my mother, she replied by
     referring to his "Don Juan," supposing that I alluded to his
     profligacy; but it is not "Don Juan" only or chiefly that I think
     so mischievous, but "Manfred," "Cain," "Lucifer," "Childe Harold,"
     and through them all Byron's own spirit--the despondent, defiant,
     questioning, murmuring, bitter, proud spirit, that acts powerfully
     and dangerously on young brains and throws poison into their
     natural fermentation.

     Since you say that my perpetual quotation of that stupid song, "Old
     Wilson is Dead," worries you, I will renounce my delight in teasing
     you with it. The love of teasing is, of course, only a base form of
     the love of power. Mr. Harness and I had a long discussion the
     other night about the Cenci; he maintains your opinion, that the
     wicked old nobleman was absolutely mad; but I argued the point
     stoutly for his sanity, and very nearly fell into the fire with
     dismay when I was obliged to confess that if he was not mad, then
     his actuating motive was simply _the love of power_. Do you know
     that that play was sent over by Shelley to England with a view to
     Miss O'Neill acting Beatrice Cenci? If it were ever possible that
     the piece could be acted, I should think an audience might be half
     killed with the horror of that entrance of Beatrice when she
     describes the marble pavement sliding from beneath her feet.

     Did my mother tell you in her note that Milman was at the play the
     other night, and said I had made Bianca exactly what he intended? I
     wish he would write another tragedy. I think perhaps he will, from
     something Murray said the other day. That eminent publisher still
     has my MSS. in his possession, but you know I can take things
     easily, and I don't feel anxious about his decision. I act in
     "Fazio" Monday and Wednesday, and Friday and Saturday Mrs. Beverley
     and Belvidera at Brighton.

I was inexpressibly relieved by receiving a letter from my brother, and
the intelligence that if I answered him he would be able to receive my
reply, which I made immediate speed to send him.

                                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET.

     My brother John is alive, safe and well, in Gibraltar. You deserve
     to know this, but it is all I can say to you. My mother has
     suffered so much that she hardly feels her joy; it has broken her
     down, and I, who have borne up well till now, feel prostrated by
     this reprieve. God be thanked for all his mercies! I can say no

                                                              F. A. K.


                               GREAT RUSSELL STREET, February 7, 1831.
     MY DEAR H----,

     I found your lecture waiting for me on my return from Brighton; I
     call it thus because if your two last were less than letters your
     yesterday's one is more; but I shall not attempt at present to
     follow you to the misty heights whither our nature tends, or dive
     with you into the muddy depths whence it springs. I have heard from
     my brother John, and now expect almost hourly to see him. The
     Spanish revolution, as he now sees and as many foresaw, is a mere
     vision. The people are unready, unripe, unfit, and therefore
     unwilling; had it not been so they would have done their work
     themselves; it is as impossible to urge on the completion of such a
     change before the time as to oppose it when the time is come. John
     now writes that, all hope of rousing the Spaniards being over, and
     their party consequently dispersing, he is thinking of bending his
     steps homeward, and talks of once more turning his attention to the
     study of the law. I know not what to say or think. My cousin,
     Horace Twiss, was put into Parliament by Lord Clarendon, but the
     days of such parliamentary patronage are numbered, and I do not
     much deplore it, though I sometimes fancy that the House of
     Commons, could it by any means have been opened to him, might
     perhaps have been the best sphere for John. His natural abilities
     are brilliant, and his eloquence, energy, and activity of mind
     might perhaps have been made more and more quickly available for
     good purposes in that than in any other career.

     I am not familiar with all that Burns has written; I have read his
     letters, and know most of his songs by heart. His passions were so
     violent that he seems to me in that respect to have been rather a
     subject for poetry than a poet; for though a poet should perhaps
     have a strongly passionate nature, he should also have power enough
     over it to be able to observe, describe, and, if I may so say,
     experimentalize with it, as he would with the passions of others. I
     think it would better qualify a man to be a poet to be able to
     perceive rather than liable to feel violent passion or emotion. May
     not such things be known of without absolute experience? What is
     the use of the poetical imagination, that lower inspiration, which,
     like the higher one of faith, is the "evidence of things not seen"?
     Troubled and billowy waters reflect nothing distinctly on their
     surface; it is the still, deep, placid element that gives back the
     images by which it is surrounded or that pass over its surface. I
     do not of course believe that a good man is necessarily a poet, but
     I think a devout man is almost always a man with a poetical
     imagination; he is familiar with ideas which are essentially
     sublime, and in the act of adoration he springs to the source of
     all beauty through the channel by which our spirits escape most
     effectually from their chain, the flesh, and their prison-house,
     the world, and rise into communion with that supreme excellence
     from which they originally emanated and into whose bosom they will
     return. I cannot now go into all I think about this, for I have so
     many other things to talk about. Since I began this letter I have
     heard a report that John is a prisoner, that he has been arrested
     and sent to Madrid. Luckily I do not believe a word of this; if he
     has rendered himself obnoxious to the British authorities in
     Gibraltar they may have locked him up for a week or two there, and
     I see no great harm in that; but that he should have been delivered
     to the Spaniards and sent to Madrid I do not believe, because I
     know that the whole revolutionary party is going to pieces, and
     that they have neither the power nor the means to render themselves
     liable to such a disagreeable distinction. We expect him home every
     day. Only conceive, dear H----, the ill-fortune that attends us: my
     father, or rather the theater, is involved in six lawsuits I He and
     my mother are neither of them quite well; anxiety naturally has
     much share in their indisposition.

     I learned Beatrice this morning and the whole of it, in an hour,
     which I tell you because I consider it a feat. I am delighted at
     the thoughts of acting it; it will be the second part which I shall
     have acted with real pleasure; Portia is the other, but Beatrice is
     not nearly so nice. I am to act it next Thursday, when pray think
     of me.

     I do not know whether you have seen anything in the papers about a
     third theater; we have had much anxiety, vexation, and expense
     about it, but I have no doubt that Mr. Arnold will carry the
     question. The great people want a plaything for this season, and
     have set their hearts upon that. I acted Belvidera to my father's
     Jaffier at Brighton; you cannot imagine how great a difference it
     produced in my acting. Mrs. Siddons and Miss O'Neill had a great
     advantage over me in their tragic partners. Have you heard that Mr.
     Hope, the author of "Anastasius," is just dead? That was a
     wonderfully clever book, of rather questionable moral effects, I
     think; the same sort of cynical gloom and discontent which pervade
     Byron's writings prevail in that; and I thought it a pity, because
     in other respects it seems a genuine book, true to life and human
     nature. A few days before I heard of his death, Mr. Harness was
     discussing with me a theory of Hope's respecting the destiny of the
     human soul hereafter. His notion is that all spirit is after death
     to form but one whole spiritual existence, a sort of _lumping_
     which I object to. I should like always to be able to know myself
     from somebody else.

     I _do_ read the papers sometimes, dear H----, and, whenever I do, I
     wonder at you and all sensible people who make a daily practice of
     it; the proceedings of Parliament would make one angry if they did
     not make one so sad, and some of the debates would seem to me
     laughable but that I know they are lamentable.

     I have just finished Channing's essay on Milton, which is

     My cousin Harry sails for India on Thursday; his mother is making a
     brave fight of it, poor soul! I met them all at my aunt Siddons's
     last night; she was remarkably well, and "charming," as she styles
     herself when that is the case. Good-by. Always affectionately


I suppose it is one of the peculiarities of the real poetical
temperament to receive, as it were, a double impression of its own
phenomena--one through the senses, affections, and passions, and one
through the imagination--and to have a perpetual tendency to make
intellectual capital of the experiences of its own sensuous,
sentimental, and passionate nature. In the above letter, written so many
years ago, I have used the term _experimentalizing_ with his own nature
as the process of a poet's mind; but though self-consciousness and
self-observation are almost inseparable from the poetical organization,
Goethe is the only instance I know of what could, with any propriety, be
termed self-experimentalizing--he who wrung the heart and turned the
head of the whole reading Europe of his day by his own love passages
with Madame Kestner transcribed into "The Sorrows of Werther."

Self-illustration is perhaps a better term for the result of that
passionate egotism which is so strong an element in the nature of most
poets, and the secret of so much of their power. _Ils s'intéressent
tellement à ce qui les regarde_, that they interest us profoundly in it
too, and by the law of our common nature, and the sympathy that pervades
it, their great difference from their kind serves but to enforce their
greater likeness to it.

Goethe's nature, however, was not at all a predominantly passionate one;
so much the contrary, indeed, that one hardly escapes the impression all
through his own record of his life that he _felt_ through his
overmastering intellect rather than his heart; and that he analyzed too
well the processes of his own feelings ever to have been carried by them
beyond the permission of his will, or out of sight of that æsthetic
self-culture, that development, which really seems to have been his
prevailing passion. A strong histrionic vein mixes, too, with his more
imaginative mental qualities, and perpetually reveals itself in his
assumption of fictitious characters, in his desire for producing
"situations" in his daily life, and in his conscious "effects" upon
those whom he sought to impress.

His genius sometimes reminds me of Ariel--the subtle spirit who,
observing from aloof, as it were (that is, from the infinite distance of
his own _unmoral_, demoniacal nature), the follies and sins and sorrows
of humanity, understands them all and sympathizes with none of them; and
describes, with equal indifference, the drunken, brutish delight in his
music expressed by the coarse Neapolitan buffoons and the savage
gorilla, Caliban, and the abject self-reproach and bitter, poignant
remorse exhibited by Antonio and his fellow conspirators; telling
Prospero that if _he_ saw them he would pity them, and adding, in his
passionless perception of their anguish, "I should, sir, _were I

There is a species of remote partiality in Goethe's mode of delineating
the sins and sorrows of his fellows, that seems hardly human and still
less divine; "_Das ist dämonisch_," to use his own expression about
Shakespeare, who, however, had nothing whatever in common with that
quality of moral _neutrality_ of the great German genius.

Perhaps nothing indicates what I should call Goethe's intellectual
_unhumanity_ so much as his absolute want of sympathy with the progress
of the race. He was but mortal man, however, though he had the head of
Jove, and Pallas Athena might have sprung all armed from it. Once, and
once only, if I remember rightly, in his conversations with Eckermann,
the cause of mankind elicits an expression of faith and hope from him,
in some reference to the future of America. I recollect, on reading the
second part of "Faust" with my friend Abeken (assuredly the most
competent of all expounders of that extraordinary composition), when I
asked him what was the signification of that final cultivation of the
barren sea sand, in Faust's blind old age, and cried, "Is it possible
that he wishes to indicate the hopelessness of all attempt at progress?"
his replying, "I am afraid he was no believer in it." And so it comes
that his letters to Madame von Stein leave one only amazed with the more
sorrowful admiration that the unrivaled genius of the civilized world in
its most civilized age found perfect satisfaction in the inane routine
of the life of a court dignitary in a petty German principality.

It is worthy of note how, in the two instances of his great
masterpieces, "Faust" and "Wilhelm Meister," Goethe has worked up in a
sequel all the superabundant material he had gathered for his subject;
and in each case how the life-blood of the poet pulses through the first
part, while the second is, as it were, a mere storehouse of splendid
intellectual supply which he has wrought into elaborate phantasmagoria,
dazzling in their brilliancy and wonderful in their variety, but all
alike difficult to comprehend and sympathize with--the rare mental
fragments, precious like diamond dust, left after the cutting of those
two perfect gems.

Free-trade had hardly uttered a whisper yet upon any subject of national
importance when the monopoly of theatrical property was attacked by Mr.
Arnold, of the English Opera House, who assailed the patents of the two
great theaters, Covent Garden and Drury Lane, and demanded that the
right to act the legitimate drama (till then their especial privilege)
should be extended to all British subjects desirous to open play-houses
and perform plays. A lawsuit ensued, and the proprietors of the great
houses--"his Majesty's servants," by his Majesty's royal patent since
the days of the merry monarch--defended their monopoly to the best of
their ability. My father, questioned before a committee of the House of
Commons upon the subject, showed forth the evils likely, in his opinion,
to result to the dramatic art and the public taste by throwing open to
unlimited speculation the right to establish theaters and give
theatrical representations. The great companies of good sterling actors
would be broken up and dispersed, and there would no longer exist
establishments sufficiently important to maintain any large body of
them; the best plays would no longer find adequate representatives in
any but a few of the principal parts, the characters of theatrical
pieces produced would be lowered, the school of fine and careful acting
would be lost, no play of Shakespeare's could be decorously put on the
stage, and the profession and the public would alike fare the worse for
the change. But he was one of the patented proprietors, one of the
monopolists, a party most deeply interested in the issue, and therefore,
perhaps, an incompetent judge in the matter. The cause went against us,
and every item of his prophecy concerning the stage has undoubtedly come
to pass. The fine companies of the great theaters were dissolved, and
each member of the body that together formed so bright a constellation
went off to be the solitary star or planet of some minor sphere. The
best plays no longer found decent representatives for any but one or two
of their first parts; the pieces of more serious character and higher
pretension as dramatic works were supplanted by burlesques and parodies
of themselves; the school of acting of the Kembles, Young, the Keans,
Macready, and their contemporaries, gave place to no school at all of
very clever ladies and gentlemen, who certainly had no pretension to act
tragedy or declaim blank verse, but who played low comedy better than
high, and lowest farce best of all, and who for the most part wore the
clothes of the sex to which they did not belong. Shakespeare's plays
_all_ became historical, and the profession was decidedly the worse for
the change; I am not aware, however, that the public has suffered much
by it.

                                  GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 5, 1831.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I am extremely obliged to you for your long account of Mrs. John
     Kemble, and all the details respecting her with which, as you knew
     how intensely interesting they were likely to be to me, you have so
     kindly filled your letter. Another time, if you can afford to give
     a page or two to her interesting dog, Pincher, I shall be still
     more grateful; you know it is but omitting the superfluous word or
     two you squeeze in about yourself.

     As for the journal I keep, it is--as what is not?--a matter of
     mingled good and bad influences and results. I am so much alone
     that I find this pouring out of my thoughts and feelings a certain
     satisfaction; but unfortunately one's book is only a recipient, and
     not a commentary, and I miss the sifting, examining, scrutinizing,
     discussing intercourse that compels one to the analysis of one's
     own ideas and sentiments, and makes the society of any one with
     whom one communicates unreservedly so much more profitable, as well
     as pleasurable, than this everlasting self-communion. I miss my
     wholesome bitters, my daily dose of contradiction; and you need not
     be jealous of my book, for it is a miserable _pis aller_ for our
     interminable talks.

     I had a visit from J---- F---- the other day, and she stayed an
     hour, talking very pleasantly, and a little after your fashion; for
     she propounded the influence of matter over mind and the
     impossibility of preserving a sound and vigorous spirit in a weak
     and suffering body. I am blessed with such robust health that my
     moral shortcomings, however anxious I may be to refer them to
     side-ache, toothache, or any other ache, I am afraid deserve small
     mercy on the score of physical infirmity; but she, poor thing, I am
     sorry to say, suffers much and often from ill health, and
     complained, with evident experience, of the difficulty of
     preserving a cheerful spirit and an even temper in the dreary
     atmosphere of a sick-room.

     When she was gone I set to work with "Francis I.," and corrected
     all the errors in the meter which Mr. Milman had had the kindness
     to point out to me. I then went over Beatrice with my mother, who
     takes infinite pains with me and seems to think I profit. She went
     to the play with Mrs. Fitzgerald and Mrs. Edward Romilly, who is a
     daughter of Mrs. Marcet, and, owing to A----'s detestation of that
     learned lady's elementary book on natural philosophy, I was very
     desirous they should not meet one another, though certainly, if any
     of Mrs. Marcet's works are dry and dull, it is not this charming
     daughter of hers.

     But A---- was rabid against "Nat. Phil.," as she ignominiously
     nick-named Mrs. Marcet's work on natural philosophy, and so I
     brought her to the theater with me; and she stayed in my
     dressing-room when I was there, and in my aunt Siddons's little box
     when I was acting, as you used to do; but she sang all the while
     she was with me, and though I made no sign, it gave me the nervous
     fidgets to such a degree that I almost forgot my part. In spite of
     which I acted better, for my mother said so; and there is some hope
     that by the time the play is withdrawn I shall not play Beatrice
     "like the chief mourner at a funeral," which is what she benignly
     compares my performance of the part to.

     The alteration in my gowns met with her entire approbation--I mean
     the taking away of the plaits from round the waist--and my aunt
     Dall pronounced it an immense improvement and wished you could see

     Lady Dacre and her daughter, Mrs. Sullivan, and Mr. James Wortley
     were in the orchestra, and came after the play to supper with us,
     as did Mr. and Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Edward Romilly, and Mr.
     Harness: a very pleasant party, for the ladies are all clever and
     charming, and got on admirably together.

     It is right, as you are a shareholder in that valuable property of
     ours, Covent Garden, you should know that there was a very fine
     house, though I cannot exactly tell you the amount of the receipts.

     I miss you dreadfully, my dear H----, and I do wish you could come
     back to us when Dorothy has left you; but I know that cannot be,
     and so I look forward to the summer time, the sunny time, the rosy
     time, when I shall be with you again at Ardgillan.

     Yesterday, I read for the first time Joanna Baillie's "Count
     Basil." I am not sure that the love she describes does not affect
     me more even than Shakespeare's delineation of the passion in
     "Romeo and Juliet." There is a nerveless despondency about it that
     seems to me more intolerable than all the vivid palpitating anguish
     of the tragedy of Verona; it is like dying of slow poison, or
     malarial fever, compared with being shot or stabbed or even
     bleeding to death, which is life pouring out from one, instead of
     drying up in one's brains. I think the lines beginning--

        "I have seen the last look of her heavenly eyes,"

     some of the most poignantly pathetic I know. I afterward read over
     again Mr. Procter's play; it is extremely well written, but I am
     afraid it would not act as well as it reads. I believe I told you
     that "Iñez de Castro" was finally given up.

     Sally and Lizzy Siddons came and sat with me for some time; they
     seem well and cheerful. Their mother, they said, was not very well;
     how should she be! though, indeed, regret would be selfish. Her son
     is gone to fulfill his own wishes in pursuing the career for which
     he was most fit; he will find in his uncle George Siddons's house
     in Calcutta almost a second home. Sally, whom you know I respect
     almost as much as love, said it was surprising how soon they had
     learned to accept and become reconciled to their brother's
     departure. Besides all our self-invoked aids of reason and
     religion, nature's own provision for the need of our sorrows is
     more bountiful and beneficent than we always perceive or
     acknowledge. No one can go on living upon agony; we cannot grieve
     for ever if we would, and our most strenuous efforts of
     self-control derive help from the inevitable law of change, against
     which we sometimes murmur and struggle as if it wronged our
     consistency in sorrow and constancy in love. The tendency to _heal_
     is as universal as the liability to _smart_. You always speak of
     change with a sort of vague horror that surprises me. Though all
     things round us are for ever shifting and altering, and though we
     ourselves vary and change, there is a supreme spirit of
     steadfastness in the midst of this huge unrest, and an abiding,
     unshaken, immovable principle of good guiding this vanishing world
     of fluctuating atoms, in whose eternal permanence of nature we
     largely participate, and our tendency toward and aspiration for
     whose perfect stability is one of the very causes of the progress,
     and therefore mutability, of our existence. Perhaps the most
     painful of all the forms in which change confronts us is in the
     increased infirmities and diminished graces which after long
     absence we observe in those we love; the failure of power and
     vitality in the outward frame, the lessened vividness of the
     intellect we have admired, strike us with a sharp surprise of
     distress, and it is startling to have revealed suddenly to us, in
     the condition of others, how rapidly, powerfully, and unobservedly
     time has been dealing with ourselves. But those who believe in
     eternity should be able to accept time, and the ruin of the altar
     from which the flame leaps up to heaven signifies little.

     My father and I went to visit Macdonald's collection of sculpture
     to-day. I was very much pleased with some of the things; there are
     some good colossal figures, and an exquisite statue of a kneeling
     girl, that charmed me greatly; there are some excellent busts, too.
     How wonderfully that irrevocable substance assumes the soft, round
     forms of life! The color in its passionless purity (absence of
     color, I suppose I should say) is really harder than the substance
     itself of marble. I could not fall in love with a statue, as the
     poor girl in Procter's poem did with the Apollo Belvidere, though I
     think I could with a fine portrait: how could one fall in love with
     what had no eyes! Was it not Thorwaldsen who said that the three
     materials in which sculptors worked--clay, plaster, and
     marble--were like life, death, and immortality? I thought my own
     bust (the one Macdonald executed in Edinburgh, you know) very good;
     the marble is beautiful, and I really think my friend did wonders
     with his impracticable subject; the shape of the head and shoulders
     is very pretty. I wonder what Sappho was like! An ugly woman, it is
     said; I do not know upon what authority, unless her own; but I
     wonder what kind of ugliness she enjoyed! Among other heads, we saw
     one of Brougham's mother, a venerable and striking countenance,
     very becoming the mother of the Chancellor of England. There was a
     bust, too, of poor Mr. Huskisson, taken after death. I heard a
     curious thing of him to-day: it seems that on the night before the
     opening of the railroad, as he was sitting with some friends, he
     said, "I cannot tell what ails me; I have a strange weight on my
     spirits; I am sure something dreadful will happen to-morrow; I wish
     it were over;" and that, when they recapitulated all the
     precautions, and all the means that had been taken for security,
     comfort, and pleasure, all he replied was, "I wish to God it were
     over!" There is something awful in these stories of presentiments
     that always impresses me deeply--this warning shadow, projected by
     no perceptible object, falling darkly and chilly over one; this
     indistinct whisper of destiny, of which one hears the sound,
     without distinguishing the sense; this muffled tread of Fate
     approaching us!

     Did you read Horace Twiss's speech on the Reform Bill? Every one
     seems to think it was excellent, whether they agree with his
     opinions and sentiments or not. I saw by the paper, to-day, that an
     earthquake had been felt along the coast near Dover. A---- says the
     world is coming to an end. We certainly live in strange times, but
     for that matter so has everybody that ever lived.

[In the admirable letter of Lord Macaulay to Mr. Ellis, describing the
division of the house on the second reading of the Reform Bill, given in
Mr. Trevelyan's life of his uncle, the great historian says Horace
Twiss's countenance at the liberal victory looked like that of a "damned
soul." If, instead of a lost soul, he had said poor Horace looked like a
_lost seat_, he would have been more accurate, if not as picturesque.
Mr. Twiss sat for one of Lord Clarendon's boroughs, and the passage of
the Reform Bill was sure to dismiss him from Parliament; a serious thing
in his future career, fortunes, and position.]

     I must now tell you what I do next week, that you may know where to
     find me. Monday, the king goes to hear "Cinderella," and I have a
     holiday and go with my mother to a party at Dr. Granville's.
     Tuesday, I act Belvidera, and _afterward_ go to Lady Dacre's; I do
     this because, as I fixed the day myself for her party, not
     expecting to act that night, I cannot decently get off. Lady
     Macdonald's dinner party is put off; so until Saturday, when I play
     Beatrice, I shall spend my time in practicing, reading, writing
     (_not_ arithmetic), walking, working cross-stitch, and similar

     Good-by, my dear H----. Give my love to Dorothy, if she will take
     it; if not, put it to your own share. I think this letter deserves
     a long answer. Mrs. Norton, Chantrey, and Barry Cornwall have come
     in while I have been finishing this letter; does not that sound
     pretty and pleasant? and don't you envy us some of our
     _privileges?_ My mother has been seeing P----'s picture of my
     father in Macbeth this morning, and you never heard anything
     funnier than her rage at it: "A fat, red, round, staring, _pudsy_
     thing! the eyes no more like his than mine are!" (certainly, no
     human eyes could be more dissimilar); "and then, his jaw!--bless my
     soul, how could he miss it! the Kemble jawbone! Why, it was as
     notorious as Samson's!" Good-by. Your affectionate


Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Ponsonby, the famous friends of Llangollen,
kept during the whole life they spent together under such peculiar
circumstances a daily diary, so minute as to include the mention not
only of every one they saw (and it must be remembered that their
hermitage was a place of fashionable pilgrimage, as well as a hospitable
refuge), but also _what they had for dinner every day_--so I have been

The little box on the stage I have alluded to in this letter as Mrs.
Siddons's was a small recess opposite the prompter's box, and of much
the same proportions, that my father had fitted up for the especial
convenience of my aunt Siddons whenever she chose to honor my
performances with her presence. She came to it several times, but the
draughts in crossing the stage were bad, and the exertion and excitement
too much for her, and her life was not prolonged much after my coming
upon the stage.

Lord and Lady Dacre were among my kindest friends. With Lady Dacre I
corresponded from the beginning of our acquaintance until her death,
which took place at a very advanced age. She was strikingly handsome,
with a magnificent figure and great vivacity and charm of manner and
conversation. Her accomplishments were various, and all of so masterly
an excellence that her performances would have borne comparison with the
best works of professional artists. She drew admirably, especially
animals, of which she was extremely fond. I have seen drawings of groups
of cattle by her that, without the advantage of color, recall the life
and spirit of Rosa Bonheur's pictures. She was a perfect Italian
scholar, having studied enthusiastically that divine tongue with the
enthusiast Ugo Foscolo, whose patriotic exile and misfortunes were
cheered and soothed by the admiring friendship and cordial kindness of
Lord and Lady Dacre. Among all the specimens of translation with which I
am acquainted, her English version of Petrarch's sonnets is one of the
most remarkable for fidelity, beauty, and the grace and sweetness with
which she has achieved the difficult feat of following in English the
precise form of the complicated and peculiar Italian prosody. These
translations seem to me as nearly perfect as that species of literature
can be. But the most striking demonstrations of her genius were the
groups of horses which Lady Dacre modeled from nature, and which, copied
and multiplied in plaster casts, have been long familiar to the public,
without many of those who know and admire them being aware who was their
author. It is hardly possible to see anything more graceful and
spirited, truer at once to nature and the finest art, than these
compositions, faithful in the minutest details of execution, and highly
poetical in their entire conception. Lady Dacre was the finest female
rider and driver in England; that is saying, in the world. Had she lived
in Italy in the sixteenth century her name would be among the noted
names of that great artistic era; but as she was an Englishwoman of the
nineteenth, in spite of her intellectual culture and accomplishments she
was _only_ an exceedingly clever, amiable, kind lady of fashionable
London society.

Of Lord Dacre it is not easy to speak with all the praise which he
deserved. He inherited his title from his mother, who had married Mr.
Brand of the Hoo, Hertfordshire, and at the moment of his becoming heir
to that estate was on the point of leaving England with Colonel Talbot,
son of Lord Talbot de Malahide, to found with him a colony in British
Canada, where Arcadia was to revive again, at a distance from all the
depraved and degraded social systems of Europe, under the auspices of
these two enthusiastic young reformers. Mr. Brand had completed his
studies in Germany, and acquired, by assiduous reading and intimate
personal acquaintance with the most enlightened and profound thinkers of
the philosophical school of which Kant was the apostle, a mental
cultivation very unlike, in its depth and direction, the usual
intellectual culture of young Englishmen of his class.

He was an enthusiast of the most generous description, in love with
liberty and ardent for progress; the political as well as the social and
intellectual systems of Europe appeared to him, in his youthful zeal for
the improvement of his fellow-beings, belated if not benighted on the
road to it, and he had embraced with the most ardent hopes and purposes
the scheme of emigration of Colonel Talbot, for forming in the New World
a colony where all the errors of the Old were to be avoided. But his
mother died, and the young emigrant withdrew his foot from the deck of
the Canadian ship to take his place in the British peerage, to bear an
ancient English title and become master of an old English estate, to
marry a brilliant woman of English fashionable society, and be
thenceforth the ideal of an English country gentleman, that most
enviable of mortals, as far as outward circumstance and position can
make a man so.

His serious early German studies had elevated and enlarged his mind far
beyond the usual level and scope of the English country gentleman's
brain, and freed him from the peculiarly narrow class prejudices which
it harbors. He was an enlightened liberal, not only in politics but in
every domain of human thought; he was a great reader, with a wide range
of foreign as well as English literary knowledge. He had exquisite
taste, was a fine connoisseur and critic in matters of art, and was the
kindliest natured and mannered man alive.

At his house in Hertfordshire, the Hoo, I used to meet Earl Grey; his
son, the present earl (then Lord Howick); Lord Melbourne; the Duke of
Bedford; Earl Russell (then Lord John), and Sidney and Bobus Smith--all
of them distinguished men, but few of them, I think, Lord Dacre's
superiors in mental power. Altogether the society that he and Lady Dacre
gathered round them was as delightful as it was intellectually
remarkable; it was composed of persons eminent for ability, and
influential members of a great world in which extraordinary capacity was
never an excuse for want of urbanity or the absence of the desire to
please; their intercourse was charming as well as profoundly interesting
to me.

During a conversation I once had with Lady Dacre about her husband, she
gave me the following extract from the writings of Madame Huber, the
celebrated Therëse Heyne, whose first husband, Johann Georg Forster, was
one of the delegates which sympathizing Mentz sent to Paris in 1793, to
solicit from the revolutionary government the favor of annexation to the
French republic.

"In the year 1790 Forster had attached to himself and introduced in his
establishment a young Englishman, who came to Germany with the view of
studying the German philosophy [Kant's system] in its original language.
He was nearly connected with some of the leaders of the then opposition.
He was so noble, so simple, that each virtue seemed in him an instinct,
and so stoical in his views that he considered every noble action as the
victory of self-control, and never felt himself good enough. The friends
[Huber and Forster] who loved him with parental tenderness sometimes
repeated with reference to him the words of Shakespeare--

    'So wise, so young, they say, do ne'er live long.'

But, thanks to fate, he has falsified that prophecy; the youth is grown
into manhood; he lives, unclaimed by any mere political party, with the
more valuable portion of his people, and satisfies himself with being a
good man so long as circumstances prevent him from acting in his sense
as a good citizen. Our daily intercourse with this youth enabled us to
combine a knowledge of English events with our participation in the
proceedings on the Continent. His patriotism moderated many of our
extreme views with regard to his country; his estimate of many
individuals, of whom from his position he possessed accurate knowledge,
decided many a disputed point amongst us; and the tenderness which we
all felt for this beloved and valued friend tended to produce justice
and moderation in all our conflicts of opinion."[A]

[A] Sketch of Lord Dacre's character by Madame Huber.

Lady Dacre had had by her first marriage, to Mr. Wilmot, an only child,
the Mrs. Sullivan I have mentioned in this letter, wife of the Reverend
Frederick Sullivan, Vicar of Kimpton. She was an excellent and most
agreeable person, who inherited her mother's literary and artistic
genius in a remarkable degree, though her different position and less
leisurely circumstances as wife of a country clergyman and mother of a
large family, devoted to the important duties of both callings, probably
prevented the full development and manifestation of her fine
intellectual gifts. She was a singularly modest and diffident person,
and this as well as her more serious avocations may have stood in the
way of her doing justice to her uncommon abilities, of which, however,
there is abundant evidence in her drawings and groups of modeled
figures, and in the five volumes of charming stories called "Tales of a
Chaperon," and "Tales of the Peerage and the Peasantry," which were not
published with her name but simply as edited by Lady Dacre, to whom
their authorship was, I think, generally attributed. The mental gifts of
Lady Dacre appear to be heirlooms, for they have been inherited for
three generations, and in each case by her female descendants.

The gentleman who accompanied her to her house, on the evening I
referred to in my letter, was the Honorable James Stuart Wortley,
youngest son of the Earl of Wharncliffe, who was prevented by failure of
health alone from reaching the very highest honors of the legal
profession, in which he had already attained the rank of
solicitor-general, when his career was prematurely closed by disastrous
illness. At the time of my first acquaintance with him he was a very
clever and attractive young man, and though intended for a future Lord
Chancellor he condescended to sing sentimental songs very charmingly.

Of my excellent and amiable friend, the Reverend William Harness, a
biography has been published which tells all there is to be told of his
uneventful life and career. Endowed with a handsome face and sweet
countenance and very fine voice, he was at one time a fashionable London
preacher, a vocation not incompatible, when he exercised it, with a
great admiration for the drama. He was an enthusiastic frequenter of the
theater, published a valuable edition of Shakespeare, and wrote two
plays in blank verse which had considerable merit; but his pre-eminent
gift was goodness, in which I have known few people who surpassed him.
Objecting from conscientious motives to hold more than one living, he
received from his friend, Lord Lansdowne, an appointment in the Home
Office, the duties of which did not interfere with those of his clerical
profession. He was of a delightfully sunny, cheerful temper, and very
fond of society, mixing in the best that London afforded, and frequently
receiving with cordial hospitality some of its most distinguished
members in his small, modest residence. He was a devoted friend of my
family, had an ardent admiration for my aunt Siddons, and honored me
with a kind and constant regard.

Miss Joanna Baillie was a great friend of Mrs. Siddons's, and wrote
expressly for her the part of Jane de Montfort, in her play of "De
Montfort." My father and mother had the honor of her acquaintance, and I
went more than once to pay my respects to her at the cottage in
Hampstead where she passed the last years of her life.

The peculiar plan upon which she wrote her fine plays, making each of
them illustrate a single passion, was in great measure the cause of
their unfitness for the stage. "De Montfort," which has always been
considered the most dramatic of them, had only a very partial success,
in spite of its very great poetical merit and considerable power of
passion, and the favorable circumstance that the two principal
characters in it were represented by the eminent actors for whom the
authoress originally designed them. In fact, though Joanna Baillie
selected and preferred the dramatic form for her poetical compositions,
they are wanting in the real dramatic element, resemblance to life and
human nature, and are infinitely finer as poems than plays.

But the desire and ambition of her life had been to write for the stage,
and the reputation she achieved as a poet did not reconcile her to her
failure as a dramatist. I remember old Mr. Sotheby, the poet (I add this
title to his name, though his title to it was by some esteemed but
slender), telling me of a visit he had once paid her, when, calling him
into her little kitchen (she was not rich, kept few servants, and did
not disdain sometimes to make her own pies and puddings), she bade him,
as she was up to the elbows in flour and paste, draw from her pocket a
paper; it was a play-bill, sent to her by some friend in the country,
setting forth that some obscure provincial company was about to perform
Miss Joanna Baillie's celebrated tragedy of "De Montfort." "There,"
exclaimed the culinary Melpomene, "there, Sotheby, I am so happy! You
see my plays can be acted somewhere!" Well, too, do I remember the tone
of half-regretful congratulation in which she said to me, "Oh, you lucky
girl--you lucky girl; you are going to have your play acted!" This was
"Francis I.," the production of which on the stage was a bitter
annoyance to me, to prevent which I would have given anything I
possessed, but which made me (vexed and unhappy though I was at the
circumstance on which I was being congratulated) an object of positive
envy to the distinguished authoress and kind old lady.

In order to steer clear of the passion of revenge, which is in fact
hatred proceeding from a sense of injury, Miss Joanna Baillie in her
fine tragedy of "De Montfort" has inevitably made the subject of it an
_antipathy_--that is, an instinctive, unreasoning, partly physical
antagonism, producing abhorrence and detestation the most intense,
without any adequate motive; and the secret of the failure of her noble
play on the stage is precisely that this is not (fortunately) a natural
passion common to the majority of human beings (which hatred that _has_
a motive undoubtedly is, in a greater or less degree), but an abnormal
element in exceptionally morbid natures, and therefore a sentiment (or
sensation) with which no great number of people or large proportion of a
public audience can sympathize or even understand. Intense and causeless
hatred is one of the commonest indications of insanity, and, alas! one
that too often exhibits itself toward those who have been objects of the
tenderest love; but De Montfort is not insane, and his loathing is
unaccountable to healthy minds upon any other plea, and can find no
comprehension in audiences quite prepared to understand, if not to
sympathize with, the vindictive malignity of Shylock and the savage
ferocity of Zanga. Goethe, in his grand play of "Tasso," gives the poet
this morbid detestation of the accomplished courtier and man of the
world, Antonio; but then, Tasso is represented as on the very verge of
that madness into the dark abyss of which he subsequently sinks.

Shakespeare's treatment of the passion of hatred, in "The Merchant of
Venice," is worthy of all admiration for the profound insight with which
he has discriminated between that form of it which all men comprehend,
and can sympathize with, and that which, being really nothing but
diseased idiosyncrasy, appears to the majority of healthy minds a mere
form of madness.

In his first introduction to us the Jew accounts for his detestation of
Antonio upon three very comprehensible grounds: national race hatred, in
feeling and exciting which the Jews have been quite a "peculiar people"
from the earliest records of history; personal injury in the defeat of
his usurious prospects of gain; and personal insult in the unmanly
treatment to which Antonio had subjected him. However excessive in
degree, his hatred is undoubtedly shown to have a perfectly
comprehensible, if not adequate cause and nature, and is a _reasonable_
hatred, except from such a moral point of view as allows of none.

An audience can therefore tolerate him with mitigated disgust through
the opening portions of the play. When, however, in the grand climax of
the trial scene Shakespeare intends that he shall be no longer tolerated
or tolerable, but condemned alike by his Venetian judges and his English
audience, he carefully avoids putting into his mouth any one of the
reasons with which in the opening of the play he explains and justifies
his hatred. He does not make him quote the centuries-old Hebrew scorn of
and aversion to the Gentiles, nor the merchant's interference with his
commercial speculations, nor the man's unprovoked spitting at, spurning,
and abuse of him; but he will and _can_ give _no_ reason for his
abhorrence of Antonio, whom he says he _loathes_ with the inexplicable
revulsion of nature that certain men feel toward certain animals; and
the mastery of the poet shows itself in thus making Shylock's cruelty
monstrous, and accounting for it as an abnormal monstrosity.

Hatred that has a reasonable cause may cease with its removal. Supposing
Antonio to have become a converted Jew, or to have withdrawn all
opposition to Shylock's usury and compensated him largely for the losses
he had caused him by it, and to have expressed publicly, with the utmost
humility, contrition for his former insults and sincere promises of
future honor, respect, and reverence, it is possible to imagine Shylock
relenting in a hatred of which the reasons he assigned for it no longer
existed. But from the moment he says he has _no_ reason for his hatred
other than the insuperable disgust and innate enmity of an antagonistic
nature--the deadly, sickening, physical loathing that in rare instances
affects certain human beings toward others of their species, and toward
certain animals--then there are no calculable bounds to the ferocity of
such a blind instinct, no possibility of mitigating, by considerations
of reflection or feeling, an inherent, integral element of a morbid
organization. And Shakespeare, in giving this aspect to the last
exhibition of Shylock's vindictiveness, cancels the original appeal to
possible sympathy for his previous wrongs, and presents him as a
dangerous maniac or wild beast, from whose fury no one is safe, and whom
it is every one's interest to strike down; so that at the miserable
Jew's final defeat the whole audience gasps with a sense of unspeakable
relief. Perhaps, too, the master meant to show--at any rate he has
shown--that the deadly sin of hatred, indulged even with a cause, ends
in the dire disease of causeless hate and the rabid frenzy of a maniac.

It has sometimes been objected to this wonderful scene that Portia's
reticence and delay in relieving Antonio and her husband from their
suspense is unnatural. But Portia is a very _superior woman_, able to
control not only her own palpitating sympathy with their anguish, but
her impatient yearning to put an end to it, till she has made ever
effort to redeem the wretch whose hardness of heart fills her with
incredulous amazement--a heavenly instinct akin to the divine love that
desires not that a sinner should perish, which enables her to postpone
her own relief and that of those precious to her till she has exhausted
endeavor to soften Shylock; and Shakespeare thus not only justifies the
stern severity of her ultimate sentence on him, but shows her endowed
with the highest powers of self-command, and patient, long-suffering
with evil; her teasing her husband half to death afterward restores the
balance of her humanity, which was sinking heavily toward perfection.

Bryan Waller Procter, dear Barry Cornwall--beloved by all who knew him,
even his fellow-poets, for his sweet, gentle disposition--had married
(as I have said elsewhere) Anne Skepper, the daughter of our friend,
Mrs. Basil Montague. They were among our most intimate and friendly
acquaintance. Their house was the resort of all the choice spirits of
the London society of their day, her pungent epigrams and brilliant
sallies making the most delightful contrast imaginable to the cordial
kindness of his conversation and the affectionate tenderness of his
manner; she was like a fresh lemon--golden, fragrant, firm, and
wholesome--and he was like the honey of Hymettus; they were an
incomparable compound.

The play which I spoke of as his, in my last letter, was Ford's "White
Devil," of which the notorious Vittoria Corrombona, Duchess of
Bracciano, is the heroine. The powerful but coarse treatment of the
Italian story by the Elizabethan playwright has been chastened into
something more adapted to modern taste by Barry Cornwall; but, even with
his kindred power and skillful handling, the work of the early master
retained too rough a flavor for the public palate of our day, and very
reluctantly the project of bringing it out was abandoned.

The tragical story of Vittoria Corrombona, eminently tragical in that
age of dramatic lives and deaths, has furnished not only the subject of
this fine play of Ford's, but that of a magnificent historical novel, by
the great German writer, Tieck, in which it is difficult to say which
predominates, the intense interest of the heroine's individual career,
or that created by the splendid delineation of the whole state of Italy
at that period--the days of the grand old Sixtus the Fifth in Rome, and
of the contemporary Medici in Florence; it is altogether a masterpiece
by a great master. Superior in tragic horror, because unrelieved by the
general picture of contemporaneous events, but quite inferior as a work
of imagination, is the comparatively short sketch of Vittoria
Corrombona's life and death contained in a collection of Italian stories
called "Crimes Célèbres," by Stendal, where it keeps company with other
tragedies of private life, which during the same century occupied with
their atrocious details the tribunals of justice in Rome. Among the
collection is the story from which Mr. Fechter's melodrama of "Bel
Demonio" was taken, the story of the Cenci, and the story of a certain
Duchess of Pagliano, all of them inconceivably horrible and revolting.

About the same time that this play of Barry Cornwall's was given up, a
long negotiation between Miss Mitford and the management of Covent
Garden came to a conclusion by her withdrawal of her play of "Iñez de
Castro," a tragedy founded upon one of the most romantic and picturesque
incidents in the Spanish chronicle. After much uncertainty and many
difficulties, the project of bringing it out was abandoned. I remember
thinking I could do nothing with the part of the heroine, whose corpse
is produced in the last act, seated on the throne and receiving the
homage of the subjects of her husband, Pedro the Cruel--a very ghastly
incident in the story, which I think would in itself have endangered the
success of the play. My despondency about the part of Inez had nothing
to do with the possible effect of this situation, however, but was my
invariable impression with regard to every new part that was assigned to
me on first reading it. But I am sure Miss Mitford had no cause to
regret that I had not undertaken this; the success of her play in my
hands ran a risk such as her fine play of "Rienzi," in those of Mr.
Young or Mr. Macready, could never have incurred; and it was well for
her that to their delineation of her Roman tribune, and not mine of her
Aragonese lady, her reputation with the public as a dramatic writer was

I have mentioned in this last letter a morning visit from Chantrey, the
eminent sculptor, who was among our frequenter. His appearance and
manners were simple and almost rustic, and he was shy and silent in
society, all which may have been results of his obscure birth and early
want of education. It was to Sir Francis Chantrey that my father's
friends applied for the design of the beautiful silver vase which they
presented to him at the end of his professional career. The sculptor's
idea seemed to me a very happy and appropriate one, and the design was
admirably executed; it consisted of a simple and elegant figure of
Hamlet on the cover of the vase, and round it, in fine relief, the
"Seven Ages of Man," from Jacques's speech in "As You Like It;" the
whole work was very beautiful, and has a double interest for me, as that
not only of an eminent artist, but a kind friend of my father's.

                                  GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 7, 1831.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     With regard to change as we contemplate it when parting from those
     we love, I confess I should shrink from the idea of years
     intervening before you and I met again; not that I apprehend any
     diminution of our affection, but it would be painful to be no
     longer young, or to have grown _suddenly_ old to each other. But I
     hope this will not be so; I hope we may go on meeting often enough
     for that change which is inevitable to be long imperceptible; I
     hope we may be allowed to go on _wondering_ together, till we meet
     where you will certainly be happy, if wonder is for once joined to
     _knowledge_. I remember my aunt Whitelock saying that when she went
     to America she left my father a toddling thing that she used to
     dandle and carry about; and the first time she saw him after her
     return, he had a baby of his own in his arms. That sort of thing
     makes one's heart jump into one's mouth with dismay; it seems as if
     all the time one had been _living away_, unconsciously, was thrown
     in a lump at one's head.

     J---- F---- told me on Thursday that her sister, whose wedding-day
     seemed to be about yesterday, was the mother of four children; she
     has lost no time, it is true, but my "yesterday" must be five years
     old. After dinner, yesterday, I wrote a new last scene to "Francis
     I." I mean to send it to Murray.

     A---- says you seem younger to her than I do; which, considering
     your fourteen years' seniority over me, is curious; but the truth
     is, though she does not know it, I am still _too young_; I have not
     lived, experienced, and suffered enough to have acquired the
     self-forgetfulness and gentle forbearance that make us good and
     pleasant companions to our _youngers_.

     Henry and I are going together to the Zoological Gardens one of
     these days; that lovely tigress hangs about my heart, and I must go
     and see her again. Ever your affectionate

                                                          F.A. KEMBLE.

                                  GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 9, 1831.
     MY DEAR H----,

     Why are you not here to kiss and congratulate me? I am so proud and
     happy! Mr. Murray has given me four hundred and fifty pounds for my
     play alone! the other things he does not wish to publish with it.
     Only think of it--was there ever such publishing munificence! My
     father has the face to say _it is not enough!_ but looks so proud
     and pleased that his face alone shows it is _too much_ by a great
     deal; my mother is enchanted, and I am so happy, so thankful for
     this prosperous result of my work, so delighted at earning so much,
     so surprised and charmed to think that what gave me nothing but
     pleasure in the doing has brought me such an after-harvest of
     profit; it is too good almost to be true, and yet it is true.

     But I am happy and have been much excited from another reason
     to-day. Richard Trench, John's dear friend and companion, is just
     returned from Spain, and came here this morning to see us. I sat
     with him a long while. John is well and in good spirits. Mr. Trench
     before leaving Gibraltar had used every persuasion to induce my
     brother to return with him, and had even got him on board the
     vessel in which they were to sail, but John's heart failed him at
     the thought of forsaking Torrijos, and he went back. The account
     Mr. Trench gives of their proceedings is much as I imagined them to
     have been. They hired a house which they denominated Constitution
     Hall, where they passed their time smoking and drinking ale, John
     holding forth upon German metaphysics, which grew dense in
     proportion as the tobacco fumes grew thick and his glass grew
     empty. You know we had an alarm about their being taken prisoners,
     which story originated thus: they had agreed with the
     constitutionalists in Algeciras that on a certain day the latter
     were to _get rid_ of their officers (murder them civilly, I
     suppose), and then light beacons on the heights, at which signal
     Torrijos and his companions, among them our party who were lying
     armed on board a schooner in the bay, were to make good their
     landing. The English authorities at Gibraltar, however, had note of
     this, and while they lay watching for the signal they were boarded
     by one of the Government ships and taken prisoners. The number of
     English soldiers in whose custody they found themselves being,
     however, inferior to their own, they agreed that if the beacons
     made their appearance they would turn upon their guards and either
     imprison or kill them. But the beacons were never lighted; their
     Spanish fellow-revolutionists broke faith with them, and they
     remained ingloriously on board until next day, when they were
     ignominiously suffered to go quietly on shore again.


                                  GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 8, 1831.

     I am going to be very busy signing my name; my benefit is fixed for
     the 21st; I do not yet know what the play is to be. Our young,
     unsuccessful playwright, Mr. Wade, whom I like very much (he took
     his damnation as bravely as Capaneo), and Macdonald, the sculptor,
     dined with us on Sunday. On Monday I went to the library of the
     British Museum to consult Du Bellay's history for my new version of
     the last scene of "Francis I." I looked at some delightful books,
     and among others, a very old and fine MS. of the "Roman de la
     Rose," beautifully illuminated; also all the armorial bearings,
     shields, banners, etc., of the barons of King John's time, the
     barons of Runnymede and the Charter, most exquisitely and minutely
     copied from monuments, stained glass, brass effigies, etc.; it was
     a fine work, beautifully executed for the late king, George IV. I
     wish it had been executed for me. I did get A---- to walk in the
     square with me once, but she likes it even less than I do; my
     intellectual conversation is no equivalent for the shop-windows of
     Regent Street and the counters of the bazaar, and she has gone out
     with my aunt every day since, "leaving the square to solitude and
     me;" so I take my book with me (I can read walking at my quickest
     pace), and like to do so.

     Tuesday evening I played Belvidera. I was quite nervous at acting
     it again after so long a period. After the play my father and I
     went to Lady Dacre's and had a pleasant party enough. Mrs. Norton
     was there, more entertaining and blinding beautiful than ever.
     Henry desired me to give her his "desperate love," to which she
     replied by sending the poor youth her "deadly scorn." Lord
     Melbourne desired to be introduced to me, and I think if he likes,
     he shall be the decrepit old nobleman you are so afraid of me
     marrying. I was charmed with his face, voice, and manner; we dine
     with him next Wednesday week, and I will write you word if the
     impression deepens.

     My dear H----, only imagine my dismay; my father told me that after
     Easter I should have to play Lady Macbeth! It is no use thinking
     about it, for that only frightens me more; but, looking at it as
     calmly and reasonably as possible, surely it is too great an
     undertaking for so young a person as myself. Perhaps I may play it
     better than most girls of my age would; what will that amount to?
     That towering, tremendous woman, what a trial of courage and
     composure for me! If you were a good friend, now, you would come up
     to town "for that occasion only," and sustain me with your

     The beautiful Miss Bayley is at length married to William Ashley
     [the present Earl of Shaftesbury], and everybody is rejoicing with
     them or for them; it is pleasant to catch glimpses of fresh shade
     and flowers as one goes along the dusty highroad of life.

     I must now tell you what I am going to do, that you may know where
     to find me: to-morrow, I go to a private morning concert with my
     mother; in the evening, I act Beatrice, and after the play all
     sorts of people are coming here to supper. On Monday, I act Fazio;
     Wednesday, we dine at Lady Macdonald's; Thursday, I act Mrs.
     Haller; and Saturday, Beatrice again. I have not an idea what will
     be done for my benefit; we are all devising and proposing. I myself
     want them to bring out Massinger's "Maid of Honor;" I think it

     Now, dear H----, I must leave off, and sign my tickets. We all send
     our loves to you: my mother tells me not to let you forget her; she
     says she is afraid you class her with Mrs. John Kemble. If ever
     there were two dissimilar human beings, it is those two. Ever your


                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 13, 1831.
     DEAR H----,

     I received your letter yesterday, and must exult in my
     self-command, for Mrs. Jameson was with me, and I did not touch it
     till she was gone. Thank you first of all for Spenser; that _is_
     poetry! I was much benefited as well as delighted by it.
     Considering the power of poetry to raise one's mind and soul into
     the noblest moods, I do not think it is held in sufficient
     reverence nowadays; the bards of old were greater people in their
     society than our modern ones are; to be sure, modern poetry is not
     all of a purely elevating character, and poets are _paid_, besides
     being asked out to dinner, which the bards always were. I think the
     tone of a good deal of Campbell's "Pleasures of Hope" very noble,
     and some of Mrs. Hemans's things are very beautiful in sentiment as
     well as expression. But then, all that order of writing is so
     feeble compared with the poetry of our old masters, who do not so
     much appeal to our feelings as to our reason and imagination
     combined. I do not believe that to be sublime is in the power of a
     woman, any more than to be logical; and Mrs. Hemans, who is
     neither, writes charmingly, and one loves her as a Christian woman
     even more than one admires her as a writer.

     Yes, it is very charming that the dove, the favorite type of
     gentleness and tenderness and "harmlessness," should have such a
     swift and vigorous power of flight; _suaviter--fortiter_, a good

     We are having the most tempestuous weather; A---- is horribly
     frightened, and I am rather awed. I got the encyclopædia to-night
     to study the cause of the equinoctial gales, which I thought we
     should both be the better for knowing, but could find nothing about
     them; can you tell me of any book or treatise upon this subject?

     My dear H----, shut your eyes while you read this, because if you
     don't, they'll never shut again. Constance is what I am to play for
     my benefit. I am horribly frightened; it is a cruel weight to lay
     upon my shoulders: however, there is nothing for it but doing my
     best, and leaving the rest to fate. I almost think now I could do
     Lady Macbeth better. I am like poor little Arthur, who begged to
     have his tongue cut off rather than have his eyes put out; that
     last scene of Constance--think what an actress one should be to do
     it justice! Pray for me.

     And so the Poles are crushed! what a piteous horror! Will there
     never come a day of retribution for this!

     Mrs. Jameson came and sat with me some time yesterday evening, and
     read me a good deal of her work on Shakespeare's female characters;
     they are very pleasing sketches--outlines--but her criticism and
     analysis are rather graceful than profound or powerful. Tuesday
     next my mother and I spend the evening with her; Wednesday, we dine
     at Sir John Macdonald's; Thursday, I act Mrs. Haller; Friday, we
     have an evening party at home; Saturday, I play Beatrice; Monday,
     Constance (come up for it!); Tuesday, we dine with Lord Melbourne;
     and this is as much of the book of fate as is unrolled to me at

     Mrs. Harry came here to-day; it is the first time I have seen her
     this month; she is looking wretchedly, and talks of returning to
     Edinburgh. My first feeling at hearing this was joy that I shall
     not go there and find the face and voice for ever associated with
     Edinburgh in my heart away from it. But I am not really glad, for
     it is the failure of some plan of hers which obliges her to do
     this. I have the loves of all to give you, and they are all very
     troublesome, crying, "Give mine separately," "Don't lump mine;" so
     please take them each separately and singly. I have been sobbing my
     heart out over Constance this morning, and act Fazio to-night,
     which is hard work.

                          Your affectionate


                           GREAT RUSSELL STREET, Saturday, March 19th.
     DEAR H----,

     You ask if Mr. Trench's account of their Spanish escapade is likely
     to soften my father's view of the folly of the expedition. I think
     not, by any means--as how should it? But the yesterday papers
     reported a successful attack upon Cadiz and the proclamation of
     Torrijos general-in-chief by the Constitutionalists, who were
     rising all over the country. This has been again contradicted
     to-day, and may have been a mere stock-jobbing story, after all. If
     it be true, however, the results may be of serious importance to my
     brother. Should the Constitutionalists get the upper hand, his
     adherence to Torrijos may place him in a prominent position, I am
     afraid; perhaps, however, though success may not alter my father's
     opinion of the original folly of John's undertaking, it may in some
     measure reconcile him to it. I suppose it is not impossible now
     that John should become an officer in the Spanish army, and that
     after so many various and contradictory plans his career may
     finally be that of a soldier. How strange and sad it all seems to
     me, to be sure!

     You say it's a horrid thing one can't "try on one's body" and
     choose such a one as would suit one; but do you consider your body
     accidental, as it were, or do you really think we could do better
     for ourselves than has been done for us in this matter? After all,
     our souls get used to our bodies, and in some fashion alter and
     shape them to fit; then you know if we had different bodies we
     should be different people and not our _same selves_ at all; if I
     had been tall, as I confess I in my heart of hearts wish I were,
     what another moral creature should I have been.

     You urge me to work, dear H----, and study my profession, and were
     I to say I hate it, you would retort, "You do it, therefore take
     pains to do it well." And so I do, as well as I can; I have been
     studying Constance with my father, and rubbed off some of the rough
     edges of it a little.

     I am sorry to say I shall not have a good benefit; unluckily, the
     second reading of the Reform Bill comes on to-morrow (to-night, by
     the bye, for it is Monday), and there will be as many people in the
     House of Commons as in _my_ house, and many more in Parliament
     Street than in either; it is unfortunate for me, but cannot be
     helped. I was going to say, pray for me, but I forgot that you will
     not get this till "it is bedtime, Hal, and all is well." The
     publication of my play is not to take place till after this Reform
     fever has a little abated.

     Dear H----, this is Wednesday, the 23rd; Monday and King John and
     my Constance are all over; but I am at this moment still so _deaf
     with nervousness_ as not to hear the ticking of my watch when held
     to one of my ears; the other side of my head is not deaf any longer
     _now_; but on Monday night I hardly heard one word I uttered
     through the whole play. It is rather hard that having endeavored
     (and succeeded wonderfully, too) in possessing my soul in peace
     during that trial of my courage, my nervous system should give way
     in this fashion. I had a knife of pain sticking in my side all
     through the play and all day long, Monday; as I did not hear myself
     speak, I cannot tell you anything of my performance. My dress was
     of the finest pale-blue merino, all folds and drapery like my
     Grecian Daughter costume, with an immense crimson mantle hung on my
     shoulders which I could hardly carry. My head-dress was exactly
     copied from one of my aunt's, and you cannot imagine how curiously
     like her I looked. My mother says, "You have done it better than I
     believe any other girl of your age would do it." But of course that
     is not a representation of Constance to satisfy her, or any one
     else, indeed. You know, dear H----, what my own feeling has been
     about this, and how utterly incapable I knew myself for such an
     undertaking; but you did not, nor could any one, know how
     dreadfully I suffered from the apprehension of failure which my
     reason told me was well founded. I assure you that when I came on
     the stage I felt like some hunted creature driven to bay; I was
     really half wild with terror. The play went off admirably, but I
     lay, when my part was over, for an hour on my dressing-room floor,
     with only strength enough left to cry. Your letter to A---- revived
     me, and just brought me enough to life again to eat my supper,
     which I had not felt able to touch, in spite of my exhaustion and
     great need of it; when, however, I once began, my appetite
     justified the French proverb and took the turn of voracity, and I
     devoured like a Homeric hero. I promised to tell you something of
     our late dinner at Lord Melbourne's, but have left myself neither
     space nor time. It was very pleasant, and I fell out of my love for
     our host (who, moreover, is absorbed by Mrs. Norton) and into
     another love with Lord O----, Lord T----'s son, who is one of the
     most beautiful creatures of the male sex I ever saw; unluckily, he
     does not fulfill the necessary conditions of your theory, and is
     neither as old nor as decrepit as you have settled the nobleman I
     am to marry is to be; so he won't do.

     We are going to a party at Devonshire House to-night. Here I am
     called away to receive some visitors. Pray write soon to your


     To-morrow I act Constance, and Saturday Isabella, which is all I
     know for the present of the future. I have just bought A---- a
     beautiful guitar; I promised her one as soon as my play was out. My
     room is delicious with violets, and my new blue velvet gown
     heavenly in color and all other respects except the--well,
     _un_heavenly price Dévy makes me pay for it.

                                  GREAT RUSSELL STREET, April 2, 1831.
     DEAR H----,

     I am truly sorry for M----'s illness, just at the height of all her
     gay season gayeties, too; it is too provoking to have one's tackle
     out of order and lie on the beach with such a summer sea sparkling
     before one. I congratulate L---- on her father's relenting and
     canceling his edict against waltzing and galloping. And yet, I am
     always _rather_ sorry when a determination of that sort, firmly
     expressed, is departed from. Of course our views and opinions, not
     being infallible, are liable to change, and may not unreasonably be
     altered or weakened by circumstances and the more enlightened
     convictions of improved powers and enlarged experience, but it is
     as well, therefore, for our own sakes, not to promulgate them as if
     they were Persian decrees. One can step gracefully down from a
     lesser height, where one would fall from a greater. But with young
     people generally, I think, to retreat from a position you have
     assumed is to run the risk of losing some of their consideration
     and respect; for they have neither consciousness of their own
     frailty, nor charity for the frailty of others, nor the wisdom to
     perceive that a resolution may be better broken than kept; and
     though perhaps themselves gaining some desired end by the yielding
     of their elders, I believe any indulgence so granted (that is,
     after being emphatically denied) never fails to leave on the
     youthful mind an impression of want of judgment or determination in
     those they have to do with.

     We dine with the Fitzhughs on Tuesday week; I like Emily much,
     though she will talk of human souls as "vile;" I gave her Channing
     to read, and she liked it very much, but said that his view of
     man's nature was not that of a Christian; I think her contempt for
     it still less such. As we are immortal in spite of death, so I
     think we are wonderful in spite of our weakness, and admirable in
     spite of our imperfection, and capable of all good in spite of all
     our evil.

     A----'s guitar is a beauty, and wears a broad blue scarf and has a
     sweet, low, soft voice. Mr. Pickersgill is going to paint my
     portrait; it is a present Major Dawkins makes my father and mother,
     but I do wish they would leave off trying to take my picture. My
     face is too bad for anything but nature, and never was intended for
     _still_ life. The intention, however, is very kind, and the offer
     one that can scarcely be refused. I wish you would come and keep me
     awake through my sittings.

     Our engagements--social and professional--are a dinner party at the
     Mayows to-morrow; an evening party on Monday; Tuesday, the opera;
     Wednesday I act Isabella; Thursday, a dinner at Mr. Harness's;
     Friday I act Bianca; Saturday we have a dinner party at home; the
     Monday following I act Constance; Tuesday there is a dance at the
     Fitzhughs'; and sundry dissipations looming in the horizon.

     Good-by, and God bless you, my dear H----. I look forward to our
     meeting at Ardgillan, three months hence, with delight, and am
     affectionately yours,

                                                              F. A. K.

     A---- and I begin our riding lessons on Wednesday next. We have got
     pretty dark-brown habits and red velvet waistcoats, and shall look
     like two nice little robin-redbreasts on horseback; all I dread is
     that she may be frightened to death, which might militate against
     her enjoyment, perhaps.

     What you say about my brother John is very true; and though my
     first care is for his life, my next is for his happiness, which I
     believe more likely to be secured by his remaining in the midst of
     action and excitement abroad, than in any steady pursuit at home.
     My benefit was not as good as it ought to have been; it was not
     sufficiently advertised, and it took place on the night of the
     reading of the Reform Bill, which circumstance was exceedingly
     injurious to it.

     To-day is John's birthday. I was in hopes it might not occur to my
     mother, but she alluded to it yesterday. I was looking at that
     little sketch of him in her room this morning, with a heavy heart.
     His lot seems now cast indeed, and most strangely. I would give
     anything to see him and hear his voice again, but I fear to wish
     him back again among us. I am afraid that he would neither be happy
     himself, nor make others so.

                                           GREAT RUSSELL STREET, 1831.

     It is a long time, dear H----, since I have written to you, and I
     feel it so with self-reproach. To-day, except paying a round of
     visits with my mother and acting this evening, I have nothing to
     prevent my talking with you in tolerable peace and quiet--so here I
     am. You have no idea what a quantity of "things to be done" has
     been crowded into the last fortnight: studying Camiola, rehearsing
     for two hours and a half every other day, riding for two hours at a
     time, and sitting for my picture nearly as long, running from place
     to place about my dresses, and now having Lady Teazle and Mrs.
     Oakley to _get up_, immediately,--all this, with my nightly work or
     nightly gayeties, makes an amount of occupation of one sort and
     another that hardly leaves me time for thought.

     You will be glad to hear that "The Maid of Honor" was entirely
     successful; that it will have a "great run," or bring much money to
     the theater, I doubt. It is a _cold_ play, according to the present
     taste of audiences, and there are undoubted defects in its
     construction which in the fastidious judgment of our critics weigh
     down its sterling beauties.

     It has done me great service, and to you I may say that I think it
     the best thing I have acted. Indeed, I like my own performance of
     it so well (which you know does not often happen to me), that I beg
     you will make A---- tell you something about it. I was beautifully
     dressed and looked very nice.

     We have heard nothing of John for some time now, and my mother has
     ceased to express, if not to feel, anxiety about him, and seems
     tranquil at present; but after all she has suffered on his account,
     it is not, perhaps, surprising that she should subside into the
     calm of mere exhaustion from that cruel over-excitement.

     Our appeal before the Lords, after having been put off once this
     week, will, in consequence of the threatened dissolution of
     Parliament, be deferred _sine die_, as the phrase is. Oh, what
     weary work this is for those who are tremblingly waiting for a
     result of vital importance to their whole fate and fortune! Thank
     Heaven, I am liberally endowed with youth's peculiar power and
     privilege of disregarding future sorrow, and unless under the
     immediate pressure of calamity can keep the anticipation of it at
     bay. My journal has become a mere catalogue of the names of people
     I meet and places I go to. I have had no time latterly for anything
     but the briefest possible registry of my daily doings. Mrs. Harry
     Siddons has taken a lodging in this street, nearly opposite to us,
     so that I have the happiness of seeing her rather oftener than I
     have been able to do hitherto; the girls come over, too; and as we
     have lately taken to acting charades and proverbs, we spend our
     evenings very pleasantly together.

     We are going to get up a piece called "Napoleon." I do not mean my
     cousins and ourselves, but that prosperous establishment, Covent
     Garden Theatre. Think of Bonaparte being acted! It makes one grin
     and shudder.

     I have been three or four times to Mr. Pickersgill, and generally
     sit two hours at a time to him. I dare say he will make a nice
     picture of me, but his anxiety that it should in no respect
     resemble Sir Thomas Lawrence's drawing amuses me. I was in hopes
     that when I had done with him I should not have to sit to anybody
     for anything again. But I find I am to undergo that boredom for a
     bust by Mr. Turnerelli. I wish I could impress upon all my artist
     friends that my face is an inimitable original which nature never
     intended should be copied. Pazienza! I must say, though, that I
     grudge the time thus spent. I want to get on with my play, but I'm
     afraid for the next three weeks that will be hopeless.

     To add to my occupations past, present, and to come, not having
     enough of acting with my professional duties in that line, I am
     going to take part in some private theatricals. Lord Francis
     Leveson wants to get up his version of Victor Hugo's "Hernani," at
     Bridgewater House, and has begged me, as a favor, to act the
     heroine; all the rest are to be amateurs. I have consented to this,
     not knowing well how to refuse, yet for one or two reasons I almost
     think I had better not have done so. I expect to be excessively
     amused by it, but it will take up a terrible deal of my time, for I
     am sure they will need rehearsals without end. I do not know at all
     what our summer plans are; but I believe we shall be acting in the
     provinces till September, when if all things are quiet in Paris my
     father proposes going over with me and one or two members of the
     Covent Garden company, and playing there for a month or so. I think
     I should like that. I fancy I should like acting to a French
     audience; they are people of great intellectual refinement and
     discrimination, and that is a pleasant quality in an audience. I
     think my father seems inclined to take A---- with us and leave her
     there. A musical education can nowhere better be obtained, and
     under the care of Mrs. Foster, about whom I believe I wrote to you
     once a long letter, there could be no anxiety about her welfare.

     I showed that part of your last letter which concerned my aunt Dall
     to herself, because I knew it would please her, and so it did; and
     she bids me tell you that she values your good-will and esteem
     extremely, and should do still more if you did not _misbestow so
     much of them on me_.

     Emily Fitzhugh sent me this morning a Seal with a pretty device, in
     consequence of my saying that I thought it was pleasanter to lean
     upon one's friends, morally, than to be leant upon by them--an oak
     with ivy clinging to it and "Chiedo sostegno" for the motto. I do
     not think I shall use it to many people, though.

     To-morrow Sheridan Knowles dines with us, to read a new play he has
     written, in which I am to act. In the evening we go to Lady Cork's,
     Sunday we have a dinner-party here, Monday I act Camiola, Tuesday
     we go to Mrs. Harry's, Wednesday I act Camiola, and further I know
     not. Good-by, dear; ever yours,

                                                              F. A. K.

The piece which I have referred to in this letter, calling itself
"Bonaparte," was a sensational melodrama upon the fate and fortunes of
the great emperor, beginning with his first exploits as a young
artillery officer, himself pointing and firing the cannon at Toulon, to
the last dreary agony of the heart-broken exile of St. Helena. It was
well put upon the stage, and presented a series of historical pictures
of considerable interest and effect, not a little of which was due to
the great resemblance of Mr. Warde, who filled the principal part, to
the portraits of Napoleon. He had himself, I believe, been in the army,
and left it under the influence of a passion for the stage, which his
dramatic ability hardly justified; for though he was a very respectable
actor, he had no genius whatever, and never rose above irreproachable
mediocrity. But his military training and his peculiar likeness to
Bonaparte helped him to make his part in this piece very striking and
effective, though it was not in itself the merest peg to hang
"situations" on.

I was at this time sitting for my picture to Mr. Pickersgill, with whose
portrait of my father in the part of Macbeth I have mentioned my
mother's comically expressed dissatisfaction. Our kind friend, Major
Dawkins, wished to give my father and mother a good portrait of me, and
suggested Mr. Pickersgill, a very eminent portrait-painter, as the
artist who would be likely to execute it most satisfactorily. Mr.
Pickersgill, himself, seemed very desirous to undertake it, and greatly
as my sittings interfered with my leisure, of which I had but little, it
was impossible under the circumstances that I should refuse, especially
as he represented that if he succeeded, as he hoped to do, his painting
me would be an advantage to him; portraits of public exhibitors being of
course recognizable by the public, and, if good, serving the purpose of
advertisements. Unluckily, Mrs. Jameson proposed accompanying me, in
order to lighten by her very agreeable conversation the tedium of the
process. Her intimate acquaintance with my face, with which Mr.
Pickersgill was not familiar, and her own very considerable artistic
knowledge and taste made her, however, less discreet in her comments and
suggestions with regard to his operations than was altogether pleasant
to him; and after exhibiting various symptoms of impatience, on one
occasion he came so very near desiring her to mind her own business,
that we broke off the sitting abruptly; and the offended painter adding,
to my dismay, that it was quite evident he was not considered equal to
the task he had undertaken, our own attitude toward each other became so
constrained, not to say disagreeable, that on taking my leave I declined
returning any more, and what became of Mr. Pickersgill's beginning of me
I do not know. Perhaps he finished it by memory, and it is one of the
various portraits of me, _qui courent le monde_, for some of which I
never sat, which were taken either from the stage or were mere efforts
of memory of the artists; one of which, a head of Beatrice, painted by
my friend Mr. Sully, of Philadelphia, was engraved as a frontispiece to
a small volume of poems I published there, and was one of the best
likenesses ever taken of me.

The success of "The Maid of Honor" gave me great pleasure. The sterling
merits of the play do not perhaps outweigh the one insuperable defect of
the despicable character of the hero; one can hardly sympathize with
Camiola's devotion to such an idol, and his unworthiness not only
lessens the interest of the piece, but detracts from the effect of her
otherwise very noble character. The performance of the part always gave
me great pleasure, and there was at once a resemblance to and difference
from my favorite character, Portia, that made it a study of much
interest to me. Both the women, young, beautiful, and of unusual
intellectual and moral excellence, are left heiresses to enormous
wealth, and are in exceptional positions of power and freedom in the
disposal of it. Portia, however, is debarred by the peculiar nature of
her father's will from bestowing her person and fortune upon any one of
her own choice; chance serves her to her wish (she was not born to be
unhappy), and gives her to the man she loves, a handsome, extravagant
young gentleman, who would certainly have been pronounced by all of us
quite unworthy of her, until she proved him worthy by the very fact of
her preference for him; while Camiola's lover is separated from her by
the double obstacle of his royal birth and religious vow.

The golden daughter of the splendid republic receives and dismisses
princes and kings as her suitors, indifferent to any but their personal
merits; we feel she is their equal in the lowest as their superior in
the highest of their "qualities;" with Camiola it is impossible not to
suspect that her lover's rank must have had some share in the glamor he
throws over her. In some Italian version of the story that I have read,
Camiola is called the "merchant's daughter;" and contrasting her bearing
and demeanor with the easy courtesy and sweet, genial graciousness of
Portia, we feel that she must have been of lower birth and breeding than
the magnificent and charming Venetian. Portia is almost always in an
attitude of (unconscious) condescension in her relations with all around
her; Camiola, in one of self-assertion or self-defense. There is an
element of harshness, bordering upon coarseness, in the texture of her
character, which in spite of her fine qualities makes itself
unpleasantly felt, especially contrasted with that of Portia, to whom
the idea of encountering insolence or insult must have been as
_impossible_ as to the French duchess, who, warned that if she went into
the streets alone at night she would probably be insulted, replied with
ineffable security and simplicity, "Qui? moi!" One can imagine the
merchant's daughter _growing up_ to the possession of her great wealth,
through the narrowing and hardening influences of sordid circumstances
and habits of careful calculation and rigid economy, thrifty, prudent,
just, and eminently conscientious; of Portia one can only think as of a
creature born in the very lap of luxury and nursed in the midst of sunny
magnificence, whose very element was elegant opulence and refined
splendor, and by whose cradle Fortune herself stood godmother. She seems
like a perfect rose, blooming in a precious vase of gold and gems and
exquisite workmanship. Camiola's contemptuous rebuff of her insolent
courtier lover; her merciless ridicule of her fantastical, half-witted
suitor; her bitter and harsh rebuke of Adorni when he draws his sword
upon the man who had insulted her; above all, her hard and cold
insensibility to his unbounded devotion, and the cruelty of making him
the agent for the ransom of her lover from captivity (the selfishness of
her passion inducing her to employ him because she knows how absolutely
she may depend upon the unselfishness of his); and her final stern and
peremptory claim of Bertrand's promise, are all things that Portia could
never have done. Portia is the Lady of Belmont, and Camiola is the
merchant's daughter, a very noble and magnanimous woman. In the
munificent bestowal of their wealth, the one to ransom her husband's
friend from death, the other to redeem her own lover from captivity, the
manner of the gift is strikingly characteristic of the two natures. When
Portia, radiant with the joy of relieving Bassanio's anguish, speaks of
Antonio's heavy ransom as the "petty debt," we feel sure that if it had
been half her fortune it would have seemed to her an insignificant price
to pay for her husband's peace of mind. Camiola reads the price set upon
her lover's head, and with grave deliberation says, "Half my estate,
Adorni," before she bids him begone and purchase at that cost the
prince's release from captivity. Moreover, in claiming her right of
purchase over him, at the very moment of his union with another woman,
she gives a character of barter or sale to the whole transaction, and
appeals for justice as a defrauded creditor, insisting upon her "money's
worth," like Shylock himself, as if the love with which her heart is
breaking had been a mere question of traffic between the heir of Sicily
and the merchant's daughter. In spite of all which she is a very fine
creature, immeasurably superior to the despicable man who accepts her
favors and betrays her love. It is worthy of note that Bassanio, who is
clearly nothing else remarkable, is every inch a gentleman, and in that
respect no unfit mate for Portia; while the Sicilian prince is a
blackguard utterly, beneath Camiola in every particular but that of his

I remember two things connected with my performance of Camiola which
amused me a good deal at the time. In the last scene, when she proclaims
her intention of taking the vail, Camiola makes tardy acknowledgment to
Adorni for his life-long constancy and love by leaving him a third of
her estate, with the simple words, "To thee, Adorni, for thy true and
faithful service" (a characteristic proceeding on the part of the
merchant's daughter. Portia would have given him the ring from her
finger, or the flower from her bosom, besides the fortune). I used to
pause upon the last words, endeavoring to convey, if one look and tone
might do it, all the regretful gratitude which ought to have filled her
heart, while uttering with her farewell that first, last, and only
recognition of his infinite devotion to her. One evening, when the
audience were perfectly silent and one might have "heard a pin drop," as
the saying is, as I spoke these words, a loud and enthusiastic
exclamation of, "Beautiful!" uttered by a single voice resounded through
the theater, and was followed by such a burst of applause that I was
startled and almost for a moment frightened by the sudden explosion of
feeling, for which I was quite unprepared, and which I have never

Another night, as I was leaving the stage, after the play, I met behind
the scenes my dear friend Mr. Harness, with old Mr. Sotheby; both were
very kind in their commendation of my performance, but the latter kept
repeating with much emphasis, "But how do you contrive to make yourself
look so beautiful?" a rather equivocal compliment, which had a peculiar
significance; my beauty, or rather my lack of it, being a sore subject
between us, as I had made it the reason for refusing to act Mary Stuart
in his play of "Darnley," assuring him I was too ugly to look the part
properly; so upon this accusation of making myself "look beautiful," I
could only reply, with much laughing, "Good-looking enough for Camiola,
but not for Queen Mary."

I received with great pleasure a congratulatory letter from Mrs.
Jameson, which, in spite of my feeling her praise excessive, confirmed
me in my opinion of the effect the piece ought to produce upon
intelligent spectators. She had seen all the great dramatic performers
of the Continental theaters, and had had many opportunities, both at
home and abroad, of cultivating her taste and forming her judgment, and
her opinion was, therefore, more valuable to me than much of the
criticism and praise that I received.

                                    GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March, 1831.

     My mother is confined to her bed with a bad cold, or she would have
     answered your note herself; but, being disabled, she has
     commissioned me to do so, and desires me to say that both my father
     and herself object to my going anywhere without some member of my
     family as chaperon; and as this is a general rule, the infringement
     of it in a particular instance, however much I might wish it, would
     be better avoided, for fear of giving offense where I should be
     glad to plead the prohibition. She bids me add that she fears she
     cannot go out to-morrow, but that some day soon, at an early hour,
     she hopes to be able to accompany us both to the British Gallery.
     Will you come to us on Sunday evening? You see what is hanging over
     me for Thursday next; shall you go to see me?

                        Yours affectionately,
                                                              F. A. K.

I did not, and do not, at all question the good judgment of my parents
in not allowing me to go into society unaccompanied by one or the other
of themselves. The only occasion on which I remember feeling very
rebellious with regard to this rule was that of the coronation of King
William and Queen Adelaide, for which imposing ceremony a couple of
peers' tickets had been very kindly sent us, but of which I was unable
to avail myself, my father being prevented by business from escorting
me, my mother being out of town, and my brother's countenance and
protection not being, in their opinion, adequate for the occasion. So
John went alone to the abbey, and say the fine show, and my peer's
ticket remained unused on my mantelpiece, a constant suggestion of the
great disappointment I had experienced when, after some discussion, it
was finally determined that he was too young to be considered a proper
chaperon for me. Dear me! how vexed I was! and how little charmed with
my notoriety, which was urged as the special reason for my being hedged
round with the utmost conventional decorum!

                                    GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March, 1831.

     I have but two minutes to say two words to you, in answer to your
     very kind note. Both my mother and myself went out of town, not to
     recover from absolute indisposition, but to recruit strength. I am
     sorry to say she is far from well now, however; but as I think her
     present suffering springs from cold, I hope a few warm days will
     remove it. I am myself very well, except a bad cough which I have
     had for some time, and a very bad side-ache, which has just come
     on, and which, if I had time in addition to the inclination which I
     have, would prevent me from writing much more at present. I envy
     you your time spent in the country; the first days of spring and
     last of autumn should never be spent between brick houses and stone
     pavements. I am truly sorry for the anxieties you have undergone;
     your father is, I trust, quite recovered; and as to your dear baby
     (Mrs. Jameson's niece), remember it is but beginning to make you
     anxious, and will continue to do so as long as it lives, which is a
     perfect Job's comforter, is it not? The story of your old man
     interested me very much; I suppose a parent can love all through a
     whole lifetime of absence: but do you think there can be a very
     strong and enduring affection in a child's bosom for a parent
     hardly known except by hearsay? I should doubt it. I must leave off
     now, and remain,

                       Always yours most truly,
                                                          F.A. KEMBLE.

                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 29, 1831.

     Will you be kind enough to forward my very best acknowledgments to
     Sir Gerard Nöel, both for his good wishes and the more tangible
     proof of interest he sent me (a considerable payment for a box on
     my benefit night)? I am sorry you were alarmed on Monday. You
     alarmed us all; you looked so exceedingly ill that I feared
     something very serious had occurred to distress and vex you. Thank
     you for your critique upon my Constance; both my mother and myself
     were much delighted with it; it was every way acceptable to me, for
     the censure I knew to be deserved, and the praise I hoped was so,
     and they were blended in the very nicest proportions. We dine at
     six to-morrow. Lady Cork insisted upon five, but that was really
     too primitive, because, as the dandy said, "we cannot eat meat in
     the morning."

                        Ever yours most truly,
                                                              F. A. K.

                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March 30, 1831.

     Thank you for your money; it is necessary to be arithmetical if one
     means to be economical, and I receive your tribute with more
     pleasure than that of a duchess. I sometimes hear people lament
     that they have anything to do with money. I do not at all share
     that feeling; money, after all, only represents other things. If
     one has much, it is always well to look to one's expenditure, or
     the much will become much less; and if one has little, and works
     hard for it, I cannot understand being above receiving the price of
     one's labor. In all kinds "the laborer is worthy of his hire," and
     I think it very foolish to talk as if we set no value upon that
     which we value enough to toil for. With regard to the tickets you
     wish me to send you, I must refer you to the theater; for, finding
     that my wits and temper were both likely to be lost in the
     box-book, I sent the whole away to Mr. Notter, the box-book keeper,
     to whom you had better apply.

                          Yours ever truly,
                                                              F. A. K.

This and the preceding note refer to my benefit, of which, according to
a not infrequent custom with the more popular members of the profession,
I had undertaken to manage the business details, but found myself, as I
have here stated, quite incompetent to encounter the worry of
applications for boxes, and seats, and special places, etc., etc., and
have never since, in the course of my whole public career, had anything
to do with the management of my own affairs.

                                    GREAT RUSSELL STREET, March, 1831.

     I was not at home yesterday afternoon when you sent to our house,
     and all the evening was so busy studying that I had not time to
     answer your dispatch. Thank you for your last year's letter; it is
     curious to look back, even to so short a time, and see how the past
     affected one when it was the present. I remember I was very happy
     and comfortable at Bath, the critics notwithstanding. Thank you,
     too, for your more recent epistle. I am grateful for, and gratified
     by, your minute observation of my acting. I am always thankful for
     your criticisms, even when I do not quite agree with them; for I
     know that you are always kindly anxious that I should not destroy
     my own effects, which I believe I not unfrequently do. With regard
     to my action, unless in passages which necessarily require a
     specific gesture, such as, "You'll find them at the Marchesa
     Aldabella's," I never determine any one particular movement; and,
     of course, this must render my action different almost every time;
     and so it depends upon my own state of excitement and inspiration,
     so to speak, whether the gesture be forcible or not. My father
     desires me to send you Retsch's "Hamlet;" it is his, and I request
     you not to judge it too hastily: I have generally heard it abused,
     but I think in many parts it has very great merit. I am told that
     Retsch says he has no fancy for illustrating "Romeo and Juliet,"
     which seems strange. One would have thought he would have delighted
     in portraying those lovely human beings, whom one always imagines
     endowed with an outward and visible form as youthful, beautiful,
     and full of grace, as their passion itself was. Surely the balcony,
     the garden, and grave-yard scenes, would have furnished admirable
     subjects for his delicate and powerful hand. Is it possible that he
     thinks the thing beyond him? I must go to work. Good-by.

                          Ever yours truly,
                                                              F. A. K.

     You marked so many things in my manuscript book that I really felt
     ashamed to copy them all, for I should have filled more than half
     yours with my rhymes. I have just added to those I did transcribe a
     sonnet I wrote on Monday night after the play.

It may have been that the execution of "Faust," his masterpiece,
disinclined Retsch for the treatment of another love story. He did
subsequently illustrate "Romeo and Juliet" with much grace and beauty;
but it is, as a whole, undoubtedly inferior to his illustrations of
Goethe's tragical love story. Retsch's genius was too absolutely German
to allow of his treating anything from any but a German point of view.
Shakespeare, Englishman as he is, has written an Italian "Romeo and
Juliet;" but Retsch's lovers are Teutonic in spite of their costume, and
nowhere, as in the wonderful play, is the Southern passion made manifest
through the Northern thought.

The private theatricals at Bridgewater House were fruitful of serious
consequences to me, and bestowed on me a lasting friendship and an
ephemeral love: the one a source of much pleasure, the other of some
pain. They entailed much intimate intercourse with Lord and Lady Francis
Leveson Gower, afterward Egerton, and finally Earl and Countess of
Ellesmere, who became kind and constant friends of mine. Victor Hugo's
play of "Hernani," full of fine and striking things, as well as of
exaggerations verging on the ludicrous, had been most admirably rendered
into rhymed verse by Lord Ellesmere. His translations from the German
and his English version of "Faust," which was one of the first attempts
to give a poetical rendering in our language of Goethe's masterpiece,
had won him some literary reputation, and his rhymed translation of
"Hernani" was a performance calculated to add to it considerably. He was
a very accomplished and charming person; good and amiable, clever,
cultivated, and full of fine literary and artistic taste. He was
singularly modest and shy, with a gentle diffidence of manner and sweet,
melancholy expression in his handsome face that did no justice to a keen
perception of humor and relish of fun, which nobody who did not know him
intimately would have suspected him of.

Of Lady Ellesmere I have already said that she was a sort of idol of
mine in my girlhood, when first I knew her, and to the end of her life
continued to be an object of my affectionate admiration. She was
excellently conscientious, true, and upright; of a direct and simple
integrity of mind and character which her intercourse with the great
world to which she belonged never impaired, and which made her singular
and unpopular in the artificial society of English high life. Her
appearance always seemed to me strikingly indicative of her mind and
character. The nobly delicate and classical outline of her face, her
pure, transparent complexion, and her clear, fearless eyes were all
outward and visible expressions of her peculiar qualities. Her
beautifully shaped head and fine profile always reminded me of the
Pallas Athene on some antique gem, and the riding cap with the visor,
which she first made fashionable, increased the classical resemblance.
She was curiously wanting in imagination, and I never heard anything
more comically literal than her description of her own utter
_destitution_ of poetical taste. After challenging in vain her
admiration for the great poets of our language, I quoted to her, not
without misgiving, some charmingly graceful and tender lines, addressed
to herself by her husband, and asked her if she did not like those: "Oh
yes," replied she, "I think they are very nice, but you know I think
they would be just as nice _if they were not verses_; and whenever I
hear any poetry that I like at all, I always think how much better I
should like it if it was prose;" an explanation of her taste that
irresistibly reminded me of the delightful Frenchman's sentiment about
spinach: "Je n'aime pas les épinards, et je suis si content que je ne
les aime pas! parce que si je les aimais, j'en mangerais beaucoup, et je
ne peux pas les souffrir."

My intercourse with Lady Ellesmere, which had been a good deal
interrupted during the years I passed out of England, was renewed the
year before her death, when I visited her at Hatchford, where she was
residing in her widowhood, and where I promised her when I left her I
would return and stay with her again, but was never fortunate enough to
do so, her death occurring not long afterward.

During one of my last visits to Worsley Hall, Lord Ellesmere's seat in
Lancashire, Lady Ellesmere had taken me all over the beautiful church
they were building near their house, which was to be his and her final
resting-place. After her death I made a pilgrimage to it for her sake,
and when the service was over and the young members of the family had
left their place of worship near the grave of their parents, I went into
their chapel, where a fine monument with his life-sized effigy in marble
had been dedicated to him by her love, and where close beside it and
below it lay the marble slab on which her name was inscribed.

Our performance at Bridgewater House was highly successful and created a
great sensation, and we repeated it three times for the edification of
the great gay world of London, sundry royal personages included. Two of
our company, Mr. Craven and Mr. St. Aubin, were really good actors; the
rest were of a tolerably decent inoffensiveness. Mrs. Bradshaw, the
charming Maria Tree of earlier days, accepted the few lines that had to
be spoken by Donna Sol's duenna, and delivered the epilogue, which,
besides being very graceful and playful, contains some lines for which I
felt grateful to Lord Ellesmere's kindness, though he had certainly
taken a poet's full license of embellishing his subject in his laudatory
reference to his Donna Sol.

The whole thing amused me very much, and mixed up, as it soon came to be
for me, with an element of real and serious interest, kept up the
atmosphere of nervous excitement in which I was plunged from morning
till night.

The play which Sheridan Knowles came to read to us was "The Hunchback."
He had already produced several successful dramas, of which the most
striking was Virginius, in which Mr. Macready performed the Roman father
so finely. The play Knowles now read to us had been originally taken by
him to Drury Lane in the hope and expectation that Kean would accept the
principal man's part of Master Walter. Various difficulties and
disagreements arising, however, about the piece, the author brought it
to my father; and great was my emotion and delight in hearing him read
it. From the first moment I felt sure that it would succeed greatly, and
that I should be able to do justice to the part of the heroine, and I
was anxious with my father for its production. The verdict of the Green
Room was not, however, nearly as favorable as I had expected; and I was
surprised to find that when the piece was read to the assembled company
it was received with considerable misgiving as to its chance of success.


It is very curious that their experience tells so little among
theatrical people in their calculation of the probable success of a new
piece; perhaps it may be said that they cannot positively foresee the
effect each actor or actress may produce with certain parts; but given
the best possible representation of the piece, the precise temper of the
particular audience who decides its fate on the first night of
representation is always an unknown quantity in the calculation, and no
technical experience ever seems to arrive at anything like even
approximate certainty with regard to that. I felt perfectly sure of the
success of "The Hunchback," but I think that was precisely because of my
want of theatrical experience, which left me rather in the position of
one of the public than one of the players, and there was much grave
head-shaking over it, especially on the part of our excellent
stage-manager, Mr. Bartley, who was exceedingly faint-hearted about the

My father, with great professional disinterestedness, took the
insignificant part of the insignificant lover, and Knowles himself
filled that of the hero of the piece, the hunchback; a circumstance
which gave the part a peculiar interest, and compensated in some measure
for the loss of the great genius of Kean, for whom it had been written.

The same species of uncertainty which I have said characterizes the
judgments of actors with regard to the success of new pieces sometimes
affects the appreciation authors themselves form of the relative merits
of their own works, inducing them to value more highly some which they
esteem their best, and to which that pre-eminence is denied by popular
verdict. Knowles, while writing "The Hunchback," was so absorbed with
the idea of what Kean's impersonation of it would probably be, that he
was entirely unconscious of what the great actor himself probably
perceived, that on the stage the part of Julia would overweigh and
eclipse that of Master Walter. Knowles felt sure he had written a fine
man's part, and was really not aware that the woman's part was still
finer. What is yet more singular is that while he was writing "The
Wife," which he did immediately afterward, with a view to my acting the
principal female character, he constantly said to me, "I am writing
_such_ a part for you!" and had no notion that the only part capable of
any effect at all in the piece was that of Julian St. Pierre, the
good-for-nothing brother of the duchess.

The play of "The Wife" was singularly wanting in interest, and except in
the character of St. Pierre was ineffective and flat from beginning to
end, in that respect a perfect contrast to "The Hunchback," in which the
interest is vivid and strong, and never flags from the first scene to
the last. I was quite unable to make anything at all of the part of
Marianna, nor have I ever heard of its becoming prominent or striking in
the hands of any one else.

"The Hunchback," according to my confident expectation, succeeded.
Knowles played his own hero with great force and spirit, though he was
in such a state of wild excitement that I expected to see him fly on the
stage whenever he should have been off it, and _vice versâ_, and
followed him about behind the scenes endeavoring to keep him in his
right mind with regard to his exits and his entrances, and receiving
from him explosive Irish benedictions in return for my warnings and
promptings. Throughout the whole first representation I was really as
nervous for and about him as I was about the play itself and my own
particular part in it. My father did the impossible with Sir Thomas
Clifford, in making him both dignified and interesting; and Miss Taylor
was capital in the saucy Helen. My part played itself and was greatly
liked by the audience; the piece was one of the most popular original
plays of my time, and has continued a favorite alike with the public and
the players. The part of the heroine is one, indeed, in which it would
be almost impossible to fail; and every Julia may reckon upon the
sympathy of her audience, the character is so pre-eminently effective
and dramatic.

Of the play as a composition not much is to be said; it has little
poetical or literary merit, and even the plot is so confused and obscure
that nobody to my knowledge (not even the author himself, of whom I once
asked an explanation of it) was ever able to make it out or give a
plausible account of it. The characters are inconsistent and wanting in
verisimilitude to a degree that ought to prove fatal to them with any
tolerably reasonable spectators; in spite of all which the play is
interesting, exciting, affecting, and humorous. The powerfully dramatic
effect of the situations, and the two characters of Master Walter and
Julia, the great scope for good acting in all the scenes in which they
appear, the natural fire, passion, and pathos of the dialogue, in short
the great merits of the piece as an acting play cover all its defects;
even the heroine's vulgar, flighty folly and the hero's absurd
eccentricity interfering wonderfully little with the sympathy of the
audience for their troubles and their final triumph over them. "The
Hunchback" is a very satisfactory play to _see_, but let nobody who has
seen it well acted attempt to read it in cold blood!

It had an immense run, and afforded me an opportunity of testing the
difference between an infinite repetition of the text of Shakespeare and
that of any other writer. I played Juliet upward of a hundred nights
without any change of part and did not weary of it; Julia, in "The
Hunchback," after half the repetition became so tiresome to me that I
would have given anything to have changed parts with my sprightly Helen,
if only for a night, to refresh myself and recover a little from the
extreme weariness I felt in constantly repeating Julia. The audience
certainly would have suffered by the exchange, for Miss Taylor would not
have played my part so much better than I, as I should have played hers
worse than she did. Indeed, her performance of the character of Helen
saved it from the reproach of coarseness, which very few actresses would
have been able to avoid while giving it all the point and lively humor
which she threw into it. I had great pleasure in acting the piece with
her, she did her business so thoroughly well and was so amiable and
agreeable a fellow-worker.

In my last letter to Miss S---- I have spoken of a party at the Countess
of Cork's, to which I went. She was one of the most curious figures in
the London society of my girlish days. Very aged, yet retaining much of
a vivacity of spirit and sprightly wit for which she had been famous as
Mary Monckton, she continued till between ninety and a hundred years old
to entertain her friends and the gay world, who frequently during the
season assembled at her house.

I have still a note begging me to come to one of her evening parties,
written under her dictation by a young person who used to live with her,
and whom she called her "Memory;" the few concluding lines scrawled by
herself are signed "_M. Cork, æt_. 92." She was rather apt to appeal to
her friends to come to her on the score of her age; and I remember
Rogers showing me an invitation he had received from her for one of the
ancient concert evenings (these were musical entertainments of the
highest order, which Mr. Rogers never failed to attend), couched in
these terms: "Dear Rogers, leave the ancient music and come to ancient
Cork, 93." Lady Cork's drawing-rooms were rather peculiar in their
arrangement: they did not contain that very usual piece of furniture, a
pianoforte, so that if ever she especially desired to have music she
hired an instrument for the evening; the rest of the furniture consisted
only of very large and handsome armchairs placed round the apartments
against the walls, to which they were _made fast_ by some mysterious
process, so that it was quite impossible to form a small circle or
coterie of one's own at one of her assemblies. I remember when first I
made this discovery expressing my surprise to the beautiful Lady Harriet
d'Orsay, who laughingly suggested that poor old Lady Cork's infirmity
with regard to the property of others (a well-known incapacity for
discriminating between _meum_ and _tuum_) might probably be the cause of
this peculiar precaution with regard to her own armchairs, which it
would not, however, have been a very easy matter to have stolen even had
they not been chained to the walls. In the course of the conversation
which followed, Lady E----, apparently not at all familiar with
Chesterfield's Letters, said that it was Lady Cork who had originated
the idea that after all heaven would probably turn out very dull to her
_when she got there; sitting on damp clouds and singing "God save the
King_" being her idea of the principal amusements there. This rather
dreary image of the joys of the blessed was combated, however, by Lady
E----, who put forth her own theory on the subject as far more genial,
saying, "Oh dear, no; she thought it would be all splendid _fêtes_ and
delightful dinner parties, and charming, clever people; _just like the
London season, only a great deal pleasanter because there would be no
bores._" With reference to Lady Cork's theory, Lady Harriet said, "I
suppose it would be rather tiresome for her, poor thing! for you know
she hates music, and there would be nothing to steal _but one another's

Lady Cork's great age did not appear to interfere with her enjoyment of
society, in which she lived habitually. I remember a very comical
conversation with her in which she was endeavoring to appoint some day
for my dining with her, our various engagements appearing to clash. She
took up the pocket-book where hers were inscribed, and began reading
them out with the following running commentary: "Wednesday--no,
Wednesday won't do; Lady Holland dines with me--naughty lady!--won't do,
my dear. Thursday?" "Very sorry, Lady Cork, we are engaged." "Ah yes, so
am I; let's see--Friday; no, Friday I have the Duchess of C----, another
naughty lady; mustn't come then, my dear. Saturday?" "No, Lady Cork, I
am very sorry--Saturday, we are engaged to Lady D----." "Oh dear, oh
dear! improper lady, too! but a long time ago, everybody's forgotten all
about it--very proper now! quite proper now!"

Lady Cork's memory seemed to me to stretch beyond the limits of what
everybody had forgotten. She was quite a young woman at the time of the
youth of George III., and spoke of Frederick, Prince of Wales, to whose
wife she, then the Honorable Mary Monckton, was maid of honor. It is a
most tantalizing circumstance to me now, to remember a fragment of a
conversation between herself and my mother, on the occasion of the first
visit I was ever taken to pay her. I was a very young girl; it was just
after my return from school at Paris, and the topics discussed by my
mother and her old lady friend interested me so little that I was
looking out of the window, and wondering when we should go away, when my
attention was arrested by these words spoken with much emphasis by Lady
Cork: "Yes, my dear, I was alone in the room, and the picture turned in
its frame, and Lord Bute came out from behind it;" here, perceiving my
eyes riveted upon her, she lowered her voice, and I distinctly felt that
I was expected to look out of the window again, without having any idea,
however, that the question was probably one of the character of a
"naughty lady" of higher rank than those so designated to me some years
later by old Lady Cork, who, if I may judge by this fragment of gossip,
might have cleared up some disputed points as to the relations between
the Princess of Wales and the Prime Minister.

I do not know that Lady Cork's reputation for beauty ever equaled that
she had for wit, but when I knew her, at upward of ninety, she was
really a very comely old woman. Her complexion was still curiously fine
and fair, and there was great vivacity in her eyes and countenance, as
well as wonderful liveliness in her manner. Her figure was very slight
and diminutive, and at the parties at her own house she always was
dressed entirely in white--in some rich white silk, with a white bonnet
covered with a rich blonde or lace vail on her head; she looked like a
little old witch bride. I recollect a curious scene my mother described
to me, which she witnessed one day when calling on Lady Cork, whom she
had known for many years. She was shown into her dressing-room, where
the old lady was just finishing her toilet. She was about to put on her
gown, and remaining a moment without it showed my mother her arms and
neck, which were even then still white and round and by no means
unlovely, and said, pointing to her maid, "Isn't it a shame! she won't
let me wear my gowns low or my sleeves short any more." To which the
maid responded by throwing the gown over her mistress's shoulders,
exclaiming at the same time, "Oh, fie, my lady! you ought to be ashamed
of yourself to talk so at your age!"--a rebuke which the nonagenarian
beauty accepted with becoming humility.

The unfortunate propensity of poor Lady Cork to appropriate all sorts of
things belonging to other people, valueless quite as often as valuable,
was matter of public notoriety, so that the fashionable London
tradesmen, to whom her infirmity in this respect was well known, never
allowed their goods to be taken to her carriage for inspection, but
always exacted that she should come into their shops, where an
individual was immediately appointed to follow her about and watch her
during the whole time she was making her purchases.

Whenever she visited her friends in the country, her maid on her return
home used to gather together whatever she did not recognize as belonging
to her mistress, and her butler transmitted it back to the house where
they had been staying. I heard once a most ludicrous story of her
carrying off, _faute de mieux_, a _hedgehog_ from a place where the
creature was a pet of the porters, and was running tame about the hall
as Lady Cork crossed it to get into her carriage. She made her poor
"Memory" seize up the prickly beast, but after driving a few miles with
this unpleasant spiked foot-warmer, she found means to dispose of it at
a small town, where she stopped to change horses, to a baker, to whom
she gave it in payment for a sponge cake, assuring him that a hedgehog
would be invaluable in his establishment for the destruction of black
beetles, with which she knew, from good authority, that the premises of
bakers were always infested.

The following note was addressed to Lady Dacre on the subject of a
pretty piece called "Isaure," which she had written and very kindly
wished to have acted at Covent Garden for my benefit. It was, however,
judged of too slight and delicate a texture for that large frame, and
the purpose was relinquished. I rather think it was acted in private at
Hatfield House, Lady Salisbury filling the part of the heroine, which I
was to have taken had the piece been brought out at Covent Garden.


     Will you be kind enough to send "Isaure" to my father? We will take
     the greatest possible care of her, and return her to you in all
     safety. I am only sorry that he cannot have the pleasure of hearing
     you read it; for though it can take its own part very well, you
     know even Shakespeare is not the worse for the interpretation of a
     sweet voice, musical accent, and correct emphasis. With regard to
     the production of the piece on the stage, I do not like to venture
     an opinion, because my short experience has been long enough
     already to show me how easily I might be mistaken in such matters.

     There is no rule by which the humors of an audience can be
     predicted. On a benefit night, indeed, I feel sure that the piece
     would succeed, and answer your kind intention of adding to the
     attractions of the bill, be they what they might; but our judges
     are not the same, you know, two consecutive evenings, and therefore
     it is impossible to foretell the sentence of a second
     representation, for no "benefit" but that of the public itself.
     Isaure is a refined patrician beauty, and I am sometimes inclined
     to think that the Memphian head alone is of fit proportions for
     uttering oracles in the huge space of our modern stage. My father,
     however, is, from long experience, the best guesser of these
     riddles, and he will tell you honestly his opinion as to your
     heroine's public capacity. I am sure he will find his own reward in
     making her acquaintance. I am, my dear Lady Dacre, faithfully

                                                         FANNY KEMBLE.

                                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET.

     Thank you for the book you were so good as to send me. I have read
     that which concerns the Cenci in it, and think Leigh Hunt's
     reflections on the story and tragedy very good. I am glad you were
     at the play last night, because I thought I acted well--at least, I
     tried to do so. I stayed the first act of the new after-piece, and
     was rather amused by it. I do not know how the ladies'
     "inexpressibles" might affect the fortunes of the second act, but I
     liked all their gay petticoats in the first, extremely. The weather
     is not very propitious for us; we start to-morrow at nine. I send
     you the only copy of Sophocles I can lay my hand on this morning.
     Yours ever truly,

                                                         F. A. KEMBLE.

A little piece called "The Invincibles," in which a smart corps of young
Amazons in uniform were officered by Madame Vestris in the prettiest
regimentals ever well worn by woman, was the novelty I alluded to. The
effect of the female troop was very pretty, and the piece was very

I had only lately read Shelley's great tragedy, and Mrs. Jameson had
been so good as to lend me various notices and criticisms upon it. The
hideous subject itself is its weak point, and his selection of it one
cause for doubting Shelley's power as a dramatic writer. Everything else
in the terrible play suggests the probable loss his death may have been
to the dramatic literature of England. At the same time, the tenor of
all his poems denotes a mind too unfamiliar with human life and human
nature in their ordinary normal aspects and conditions for a good writer
of plays. His metaphysical was almost too much for his poetical
imagination, and perhaps nothing between the morbid horror of that Cenci
story and the ideal grandeur of the Greek Prometheus would have excited
him to the dramatic handling of any subject.

His translation from Calderon's "El Magico Prodigioso," and his bit of
the Brocken scene from "Faust," are fine samples of his power of
dramatic style; he alone could worthily have translated the whole of
"Faust;" but I suppose he really was too deficient in the vigorous
flesh-and-blood vitality of the highest and healthiest poetical genius
to have been a dramatist. He could not deal with common folk nor handle
common things; humor, that great _tragic_ element, was not in him; the
heavens and all their clouds and colors were his, and he floated and
hovered and soared in the ethereal element like one native to it. Upon
the firm earth his foot wants firmness, and men and women as they are,
are at once too coarse and complex, too robust and too infinitely
various for his delicate, fine, but in some sense feeble handling.

Browning is the very reverse of Shelley in this respect; both have
written one fine play and several fine dramatic compositions; but
throughout Shelley's poetry the dramatic spirit is deficient, while in
Browning's it reveals itself so powerfully that one wonders how he has
escaped writing many good plays besides the "Blot on the Scutcheon" and
that fine fragmentary succession of scenes, "Pippa Passes."

                                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET.

     I fear I am going to disappoint you, and 'tis with real regret that
     I do so, but I have been acting every night almost for the last
     month, and when to-day I mentioned my project of spending this my
     holiday evening with you, both my aunt and my father seemed to
     think that in discharging my debt to you I was defrauding nearer
     and older creditors; and suggested that my mother, who really sees
     but little of me now, might think my going out to-night unkind. I
     cannot, therefore, carry out my plan of visiting you, and beg that
     you will forgive my not keeping my promise this evening. I am
     moreover so far from well that my company would hardly give you
     much pleasure, nor could I stay long if I came, for early as it is
     my head is aching for its pillow already.

     As soon as a week occurs in which I have _two_ holidays I will try
     to give you one of them. I send you back Crabbe, which I have kept
     for ever; for a great poet, which he is, he is curiously
     unpoetical, I think. Yours ever truly,

                                                          F.A. KEMBLE.

                                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET.

     My mother bids me say that you certainly will suppose she is mad,
     or else _Mother Hubbard's dog_; for when you called she was
     literally ill in bed, and this evening she cannot have the pleasure
     of receiving you, because she is engaged out, here in our own
     neighborhood, to a very quiet tea. She bids me thank you very much
     for the kindness of your proposed visit, and express her regret at
     not being able to avail herself of it. If you can come on Thursday,
     between one and two o'clock, I shall be most happy to see you.
     Thank you very much for Lamb's "Dramatic Specimens;" I read the
     scene you had copied from "Philaster" directly; how fine it is! how
     I should like to act it! Mr. Harness has sent me the first volume
     of the family edition of the "Old Plays." I think sweeping those
     fine dramas clean is a good work that cannot be enough commended.
     What treasures we possess and make no use of, while we go on acting
     "Gamesters" and "Grecian Daughters," and such poor stuff! But I
     have no time for ecstasies or exclamations. Yours ever most truly,

                                                          F.A. KEMBLE.

I have said that hardly any new part was ever assigned to me that I did
not receive with a rueful sense of inability to what I called "do
anything with it." Julia in "The Hunchback," and Camiola in "The Maid of
Honor," were among the few exceptions to this preparatory attack of
despondency; but those I in some sort choose myself, and all my other
characters were appointed me by the management, in obedience to whose
dictates, and with the hope of serving the interests of the theater, I
suppose I should have acted Harlequin if I had been ordered to do so.

Lady Teazle and Mrs. Oakley were certainly no exceptions to this
experience of a cold fit of absolute incapacity with which I received
every new part appointed me, and my studying of them might have been
called lugubrious, whatever my subsequent performance of them may have
been. My mother was of invaluable assistance to me in the process, and I
owe to her whatever effect I produced in either part. She had great
comic as well as pathetic power, and the incisive point of her delivery
gave every shade of meaning of the dialogue with admirable truth and
pungency; her own performance of Mrs. Oakley had been excellent; I acted
it, even with the advantage of her teaching, very tamely. Jealousy, in
any shape, was not a passion that I sympathized with; the tragic misery
of Bianca's passion was, however, a thing I could imagine sufficiently
well to represent it; but not so Mrs. Oakley's fantastical frenzies. But
the truth is that it was not until many years later and in my readings
of Shakespeare that I developed any real comic faculty at all; and I
have been amused in the later part of my public career to find comedy
often considered my especial gift, rather than the tragic and pathetic
one I was supposed at the beginning of it to possess.

The fact is that except in broad farce, where the principal ingredient
being humor, animal spirits and a grotesque imagination, which are of no
particular age, come strongly into play, comedy appears to me decidedly
a more mature and complete result of dramatic training than tragedy. The
effect of the latter may, as I myself exemplified, be tolerably achieved
by force of natural gifts, aided but little by study; but a fine
comedian _must_ be a fine artist; his work is intellectual, and not
emotional, and his effects address themselves to the critical judgment
and not the passionate sympathy of an audience. Tact, discretion, fine
taste, are quite indispensable elements of his performance; he must be
really a more complete actor than a great tragedian need be. The
expression of passion and emotion appears to be an interpretation of
nature, and may be forcibly rendered sometimes with but little beyond
the excitement of its imaginary experience on the actor's own
sensibility; while a highly educated perfection is requisite for the
actor who, in a brilliant and polished representation of the follies of
society, produces by fine and delicate and powerful delineations the
picture of the vices and ridicules of a highly artificial civilization.

Good company itself is not unapt to be very good acting of high comedy,
while tragedy, which underlies all life, if by chance it rises to the
smooth surface of polite, social intercourse, agitates and disturbs it
and produces even in that uncongenial sphere the rarely heard discord of
a natural condition and natural expression of natural feeling.

Of my performance of Mrs. Oakley I have but one recollection, which is
that of having once, while acting it with my father, disconcerted him to
such a degree as to compel him to turn up the stage in an uncontrollable
fit of laughter. I remember the same thing happening once when I was
playing Beatrice to his Benedict. I have not the least notion what I did
that struck my father with such irrepressible merriment, but I suppose
there must have been something in itself irresistibly ludicrous to him,
toward whom my manner was habitually respectfully deferential (for our
intercourse with our parents, though affectionate, was not familiar, and
we seldom addressed them otherwise than as "sir" and "ma'am"), to be
pelted by me with the saucy sallies of Beatrice's mischievous wit, or
pummeled with the grotesque outbursts of poor Mrs. Oakley's jealous

Our personal relation, which thus rendered our performance of comedy
together especially comical to my father, added infinitely to my
distress in all tragedies in which we acted together; the sense of his
displeasure or the sight of his anguish invariably bringing him, my
father, and not the part he was acting, before me; and, as in the play
of "The Stranger" and the pathetic little piece of "The Deserter,"
affecting me with almost uncontrollable emotion.

                                 GREAT RUSSELL STREET, April 10, 1831.
     MY DEAREST H----,

     I owe you something like an explanatory note after that ejaculatory
     one I sent you the other day. You must have thought me crazy; but
     indeed, since all these late alarming reports from Spain, until the
     news came of John's safety, I did not know how much fear and
     anxiety lay under the hope and courage I had endeavored to maintain
     about him.

     From day to day I had read the reports and tried to reason with
     regard to their probability, and to persuade my mother that we had
     every cause for hoping the best; and it was really not until that
     hope was realized that it seemed as if all my mental nerves and
     muscles, braced to the resistance of calamity, had suddenly relaxed
     and given way under the relief from all further apprehension of it.
     I have kept much of my forebodings to myself, but they have been
     constant and wretched enough, and my gratitude for this termination
     of them is unspeakable.

     I heard last night a report which I have not mentioned to my mother
     for fear it should prove groundless. Horace Twiss showed me a note
     in which a gentleman assured him that John had positively taken his
     passage in a Government vessel, and was now on his way home; even
     if this is true, I am afraid to tell my mother, because if the
     vessel should be delayed a day or two by weather or any other
     cause, her anxiety will have another set of apprehensions to feed
     upon, and to prey upon her with. She desires her best love to you;
     she likes your pamphlet on "The Education of the People" very much,
     at the same time that it has not convinced her that instruction is
     wholesome for the lower orders; she thinks the dependence of
     helplessness and ignorance a better security (for them, or for
     those above them, I wonder?) than the power of reasoning rightly
     and a sense of duty, in which opinion, as you will believe, I do
     not agree.

     Thank you for your account of your visit to Wroxton Abbey [the seat
     of the Earl of Guilford]; it interested me very much; trees are not
     to me, as they seem to be to you, the most striking and beautiful
     of all natural objects, though I remember feeling a good deal of
     pain at the cutting down of a particular tree that I was very fond

     At the entrance of Weybridge was a deserted estate and dilapidated
     mansion, Portmore Park, once a royal domain, through which the
     river ran and where we used to go constantly to fish. There was a
     remarkably beautiful cedar tree whose black boughs spread far over
     the river, and whose powerful roots, knotted in every variety of
     twist, formed a cradle from which the water had gradually washed
     away the earth. Here I used to sit, or rather lie, reading, or
     writing sometimes, while the others pursued their sport, and
     enjoying the sound and sight of the sparkling water which ran
     undermining my bed and singing treacherous lullabies to me the
     while. For two years this tree was my favorite haunt; the third, on
     our return to Weybridge from London, on my running to the
     accustomed spot, I found the hitherto intercepted sun staring down
     upon the water and the bank, and a broad, smooth, white _tabula
     rasa_ level with the mossy turf, which was all that remained of my
     cedar canopy; and though it afforded an infinitely more commodious
     seat than the twisted roots, I never returned there again.

     To-morrow we dine with the F----s, and there is to be a dance in
     the evening; on Wednesday I act Constance; Thursday there is a
     charade party at the M----s'; Friday I play Mrs. Beverley; and
     Monday and Wednesday next, Camiola. I hope by and by to act Camiola
     very well, but I am afraid the play itself can never become
     popular; the size of the theater and the public taste of the
     present day are both against such pieces; still, the attempt seemed
     to me worth making, and if it should prove successful we might
     revive one or two more of Massinger's plays; they are such sterling
     stuff compared with the Isabellas, the Jane Shores, the everything
     but Shakespeare. You saw in my journal what I think about Camiola.
     I endeavor as much as I can to soften her, and if I can manage to
     do so I shall like her better than any part I have played, except
     my dear Portia, who does not need softening.

     I am too busy just now to read "Destiny" [Miss Ferrier's admirable
     novel]; my new part and dresses and rehearsals will occupy me next
     week completely. I have taken a new start about "The Star of
     Seville" [the play I was writing], and am working away hard at it.
     I begin to see my way through it. I wish I could make anything like
     an acting play of it; we want one or two new ones so very much.

     My riding goes on famously, and Fozzard thinks so well of my
     progress that the other day he put me upon a man's horse--an
     Arab--which frightened me half to death with his high spirits and
     capers; but I sat him, and what is more, rode him. Tuesday we go to
     a very gay ball a little way out of town; Saturday we go to a party
     at old Lady Cork's, who calls you Harriet and professes to have
     known you well and to remember you perfectly.

     Now, H----, as to what you say of fishing, if you are bloody-minded
     enough to desire to kill creatures for sport, in Heaven's name why
     don't you do it? The sin lies in the inclination (by the bye, I
     think that's _half_ a mistake). Never mind, your inclination to
     fish and my desire to be the tigress at the Zoological Gardens have
     nothing whatever in common. I admire and envy the wild beast's
     swiftness and strength, but if I had them I don't think I would
     tear human beings to bits unless I were _she_, which was not what I
     wished to be, only as strong and agile as she; do you see? I am in
     a great hurry, dear, and have written you an inordinately stupid
     letter; never mind, the next shall be inconceivably amusing. Just
     now my head is stuffed full of amber-colore