By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: D'Orsay - or, The complete dandy
Author: Shore, W. Teignmouth (William Teignmouth)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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 "D'Orsay - or, The complete dandy" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

images generously made available by The Internet
Archive/Canadian Libraries)



  A Soul’s Awakening                               [CROWN 8vo, 6s.

    _Times._—“Mr Teignmouth Shore has captured our sympathy for his
    characters in an unusual degree.”

    _Morning Post._—“A charming and pathetic melody.… A tenderness
    that is infinitely moving.”

    _Punch._—“Powerful and pathetic. This truly charming story.”

  Above All Things                                 [CROWN 8vo, 6s.

    _Daily Telegraph._—“All small investors in a hurry to make much
    out of little should read this novel, for it puts plainly and
    precisely before them some of the methods by which a swindler
    may, with seemingly virtuous intentions, appropriate, with
    perfect safety, other people’s money.”

    _Yorkshire Post._—“The people of his fiction play their parts
    so naturally and so simply that we sympathise almost as humanly
    with their troubles and joys as we might with those of our
    personal friends.”

    _Bookman._—“Delicate and unobtrusive art.”

  Creatures of Clay

    _Recently published._]                         [CROWN 8vo, 6s.


[Illustration: _Art Repro. Co._

_Count d’Orsay_

_After a painting by Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A._]

                           The Complete Dandy

                           W. Teignmouth Shore



                           John Long, Limited
                        Norris Street, Haymarket
                         (_All Rights Reserved_)

                        _First Published in 1911_



       I. JOCUND YOUTH                           15

      II. SHE                                    24

     III. MARS AND VENUS                         35

      IV. THE PRIMROSE PATH                      42

       V. BYRON                                  48

      VI. PILGRIMS OF LOVE                       53

     VII. MARRIAGE                               65

    VIII. ROME                                   76

      IX. PARIS                                  81

       X. A SOLEMN UNDERTAKING                   92

      XI. SEAMORE PLACE                         100

     XII. HANDSOME IS—                          116

    XIII. A LONDON SALON                        135

     XIV. ROUND THE TOWN                        145

      XV. GORE HOUSE                            157

     XVI. STARS                                 172

    XVII. COMPANY                               174

   XVIII. MORE FRIENDS                          189

     XIX. NAP                                   195

      XX. W. S. L.                              216

     XXI. THE ARTIST                            225

    XXII. LETTERS                               235

   XXIII. EXCHEQUER BONDS                       245

    XXIV. SUNDRY FESTIVITIES                    255

     XXV. SUNSET                                270

    XXVI. THE END OF GORE HOUSE                 280

   XXVII. PARIS FOR THE LAST TIME               284

  XXVIII. D’ORSAY IN DECLINE                    289

    XXIX. DEATH                                 302

     XXX. WHAT WAS HE?                          311

List of Illustrations

  COUNT D’ORSAY                                  _Frontispiece_
    After a Painting by Sir FRANCIS GRANT, P.R.A.

                                                   FACING PAGE

  LADY BLESSINGTON                                      28
    From a Water-colour Drawing by A. E. CHALON, R.A.

  ST JAMES’S SQUARE IN 1812                             36

  LORD BYRON                                            50
    By D’ORSAY.

  D’ORSAY, 1830                                         96

  10 ST JAMES’S SQUARE                                 100

  SEAMORE PLACE                                        114

  CROCKFORD’S                                          150

  GORE HOUSE                                           160
    From a Water-colour Drawing by T. H. SHEPHERD.

  THE COUNTESS GUICCIOLI                               164
    By D’ORSAY.

  EDWARD, FIRST BARON LYTTON                           176
    From a Painting by A. E. CHALON, R.A.

  CARLYLE IN 1839                                      188
    By D’ORSAY.

  NAPOLEON III.                                        206
    By D’ORSAY.

  LADY BLESSINGTON                                     234
    From the Bust by D’ORSAY.

  HYDE PARK CORNER IN 1824                             250

  GARDEN VIEW OF GORE HOUSE                            280

  MAUSOLEUM OF LADY BLESSINGTON                        288
    From a Photograph by D’ORSAY.


What a delightful fellow is your complete dandy. No mere clothes’ prop
he, the coat does not make the dandy; no mere _flâneur_ in fine garments;
far more than that is our true dandy.

Though there is not any authority for making the statement, we do not
think that we are wrong in asserting that on the day when Adam first
complained to Eve that she had not cut his fig-leaf breeches according
to the latest fashion dandyism was born. It is not dead yet, only
moribund, palsied, shaking and decrepit with old age, blown upon by an
over-practical world of money-spinners and money-spenders. Joy seems
to have become a thing of which it is necessary to go in pursuit; in
the golden days of the dandies it was a good comrade which came almost
without hailing to those who desired its company. A real dandy would
wither and wilt in a world where joy is so much of a stranger as it is
now to most folk.

It is curious that there does not exist any history of the Rise, Decline
and Fall of Dandyism, a subject fit for the pen of Gibbon. But the
reason is, that to write it with anything approaching to accuracy and
completeness, or with sufficient sympathy and insight, would stagger the
painstaking pedantry of a German philosopher and tax the wit and wisdom
of George Meredith. Perhaps some day the University of Oxford or of
Cambridge, when it has finished trifling with ponderous records of kings
and queens, of statesmen and soldiers, of men of science and of writers
of books, will gather together a happy band of scholars and men of the
world, and will issue to us a joint-stock history of Dandyism. Reform is
in the University air; let us hope. Might not the Academic authorities
go even further with profit to themselves and to the nation? Ought they
not to found and well endow a Chair of Dandyism? Should there not be a
Professor of Dandyism to teach the young idea how to distinguish between
dress and mere clothes? Between those two there is as great a gulf fixed
as between the gentle art of the _gourmet_ and the mere feeding of the
_gourmand_. To teach also the art of living and the history of dandies
and of dandyism? In these prosaic days we are only too ready to learn
how to obtain the means of living without acquiring also a knowledge
of how to use those means to good purpose. The Universities should
likewise institute scholarships of dandyism, to encourage the study of
dandyism in our Public and Board Schools, in both of which it is so
grossly neglected. These scholarships must not be of meagre twenties
and thirties of pounds, but of several hundreds per annum, so as to
enable the scholar to practise the arts that he studies. We commend this
outlet for money to millionaires of a practical turn of mind. The future
happiness of our race depends upon its dandyism.

The dandy has played a conspicuous part upon the stage of history:
Alcibiades, Marc Antony, Buckingham, Claude Duval, Benjamin Disraeli
prove the truth of this statement. It would be a nice point to decide how
far their dandyism was part and parcel of their equipment for attaining
greatness. At one period of English history the whole population of the
country was divided between dandies and anti-dandies, Cavaliers and
Puritans, the former dandified in dress, religion, methods of fighting
and in morals. They were great dandies those martial Cavaliers, and so
were a few of their successors, who flirted and frivoled at Whitehall
under Charles II.

The literature of dandyism is varied, vast and interesting, but space
forbids our doing more than briefly alluding to two of its lighter
branches in English letters. The drama—or rather the comedy—of dandyism
holds a very high place in the history of the British Stage. Lyly, the
Euphuist, was a literary dandy of the first water, and his euphuism the
height of dandyism in literary style. Shakespeare in _Love’s Labour Lost_
has given us a whole comedy of dandyism, and in Mercutio a portrait of
the complete Elizabethan dandy. But the comedy of dandyism was at its
zenith in the days of Charles II. Congreve and Wycherley were its high
priests, who preached through the mouths of their brilliant puppets the
gospel of joy which the Court so ably practised. We have in _The School
for Scandal_ another bright flash of dandyism, though Charles Surface has
too much heart for a true and perfect dandy.

In fiction we have many striking examples of dandiacal literature,
notably _Vivian Grey_ and _Pelham_, both written by dandies.

Dandies vary in kind as well as in degree, there being some who play at
dandyism in the days of their youth, such for example as Disraeli; others
who are pinchbeck dandies, falling into the slough of overdressing, such
for example as Charles Dickens, who was a mere colourist in garments.
There are the born dandies, Brummel, D’Orsay, George Bernard Shaw for
examples, the last of whom was born at least 200 years behind his time;
he would have been delightful at the Court of Charles the Merry. It is
not necessary to be in the fashion to achieve the dignity of dandyism; G.
B. S. sets the fashion himself and is the only one who can follow it.

The psychology of the dandy has been much misunderstood, probably because
it has been so little studied. What dandies have done has been told to
us in many a biography, but what they have been—upon that point silence
reigns almost supreme. Yet the mind of the complete dandy is well worth
plumbing. Those who know him not will perchance advance the theory that
a man possessed of a mind cannot be a dandy; as a matter of fact the
reverse is the truth; he must possess mind, but not a heart.

Even so profound a philosopher and student of human nature—the two are
seldom found in conjunction, which accounts for the inefficacy of most
philosophy—as Professor Teufelsdröckh of Weissnichtwo has defined a
dandy as “a Clothes-wearing Man, a Man whose trade, office and existence
consists in the wearing of Clothes. Every faculty of his soul, spirit,
purse and person is heroically consecrated to this one object, the
wearing of clothes wisely and well: so that others dress to live, he
lives to dress.”

Which proves that though undoubtedly German philosophers know most things
in Heaven and on Earth they do not know all, though they themselves would
never make this admission. Teufelsdröckh’s definition of a dandy is
preposterously incomplete, showing that he did not possess insight into
the heart and soul of dandyism. He perceived the clothes, but not the man.

The proper wearing of proper clothes is but part of the whole duty of a
dandy-man. A complete dandy is dandified in all his modes of life; his
sense of honour and his conceptions of morality are dandified; he is an
epicure in all the arts of fine living, in all forms of fashionable and
expensive amusement, in all luxurious accomplishments. He must be endowed
with wit, or at least gifted with a tongue of sprightliness sufficient
to pass muster as witty. He must be perfect in the amiable art of polite
conversation and expert in the language of love. He must own “the
courtier’s, soldier’s, scholar’s eye, tongue, sword”; he must be “the
glass of fashion and the mould of form, the observed of all observers.”

How far did D’Orsay fulfil these requirements? It is the aim of the
following pages to answer that question.




It is the habit of historians to pay little heed to the childhood and
the training of the kings, conquerors, statesmen and the other big folk
whose achievements they record and whose characters they seldom fathom
or portray. But perhaps they are right just as perhaps sometimes they
are accurate. It is easier to judge correctly and with understanding the
boy and what really were the influences that affected his development,
when we know the performances of his maturity, than it is to trace in the
child the father of the man. By what the man was we may know what the boy
had been. Which brings us to this point, that we need not very deeply
regret that the records of D’Orsay’s early years are but scanty. Such as
they are they suffice to give us all that we require—a fugitive glimpse
here and there of a childhood as great in promise as the manhood was in

Gédéon Gaspard Alfred de Grimaud, Count d’Orsay and du Saint-Empire,
Prince of Dandies, was born upon the 4th of September, in the year 1801.
Whether or not he came into the world under the influence of a lucky
star we can find no record; upon that point each of us may draw his
own conclusion in accordance with his judgment of D’Orsay’s career and

He sprang from a noble and distinguished family, his father Albert,
Count d’Orsay, being a soldier of the Empire and accepted as one of the
handsomest men of his day, Napoleon saying of him that he was “_aussi
brave que beau_.” It has been written of the son, “Il est le fils d’un
général de nos armées héroiques, aussi célèbre par sa beauté que par
ses faits d’armes.” Alfred inherited his father’s good looks and his
accomplishment with the sword.

Writing in 1828, Lady Blessington says: “General d’Orsay, known from his
youth as Le Beau d’Orsay, still justifies the appellation, for he is the
handsomest man of his age that I have ever beheld…;” and Lady Blessington
was an experienced judge of manly beauty.

His mother, a beautiful woman, was Eléanore, Baroness de Franquemont,
a daughter of the King of Würtemberg by his marriage with Madame
Crawford, also needless to say a beautiful woman; also apparently dowered
handsomely with wit and worldly wisdom. Her marriage with the King who,
it has been neatly said, “baptised with French names his dogs, his
castles and his bastards,” was of course a left-handed affair, and on his
right-handedly marrying within his own rank, she retired in dudgeon to
France. Later she married an Irishman of large means, a Mr O’Sullivan,
with whom she resided for some time in India, surviving him and dying at
the advanced age of eighty-four, full of youthfulness and ardour. The
grandson inherited her accomplishment in love.

So alluring, indeed, were her charms, that on her return from the East
one of her many admirers presented her with a bottle of otto of Roses,
outdone in sweetness by the following Mooreish compliment:—

    “Quand la ‘belle Sullivan’ quitta l’Asie,
    La Rose, amoureuse de ses charmes,
    Pleura le départ de sa belle amie,
    Et ce flacon contient ses larmes.”

The fragrance of the otto has long departed but that of the compliment
remains. A pretty compliment deserves to attain immortality.

When in Paris in 1828 Lady Blessington was upon terms of intimacy with
the D’Orsays, and was greatly impressed by _la belle Sullivan_, or,
as she preferred to be called, Madame Crawford. She visited her in a
charming hôtel, “_entre Cour et Jardin_”; and decided that she was the
most “exquisite person of her age” that she had ever seen. She was then
in her eightieth year, but we are told that she did not look more than
fifty-five, and was full of good-humour and vivacity. “Scrupulously exact
in her person, and dressed with the utmost care as well as good taste,
she gives me a notion of the appearance which the celebrated Ninon de
l’Enclos must have presented at the same age, and has much of the charm
of manner said to have belonged to that remarkable woman.”

There is considerable mystery about this good lady’s career.

It was a foregone conclusion that a woman of this style would dote upon
and do her best endeavour to spoil a bright, handsome boy such as was
her grandson Alfred. Being an only son, an elder brother having died
in infancy, the child was made much of on all sides. His good looks,
his smartness, even his early developed taste for extravagant luxuries,
charmed his accomplished grandmother, whom when later on he entered the
army we find presenting him with a magnificent service of plate, which
brought upon him more ridicule than envy from his brother officers.

In 1815 Paris was in a ferment of excitements and entertainments, all
the great men and many of the great ladies of Europe were there gathered
together—where the spoil is there shall the vultures be gathered
together. Young D’Orsay, mere lad though he was, came very much to the
front; even thus early his immaculate dress was noticeable; his spirited
English hunter and his superb horsemanship attracted attention. Though he
probably did not particularly relish the occurrence, he was presented to
the Duke of Wellington. A great meeting this, the conqueror of the men of
France and the future conqueror of the women of England.

Lord William Pitt Lennox, himself only sixteen, relates that he met
D’Orsay in Paris in 1814, and he goes on to state that “in the hours of
recreation, he showed me all the sights of the ‘City of Frivolity,’ as
Paris has been not inaptly named.” Pretty good for two such mere lads!

“One of our first visits was to the Café des Milles Colonnes, which was,
at the period I write of, the most attractive café in Paris. Large as it
was, it was scarcely capable of containing the vast crowds who besieged
it every evening, to admire its saloons decorated with unprecedented

“Wellington had a private box at the Théâtre Français, which D’Orsay
and myself constantly occupied to witness the splendid acting of Talma,
Madame Georges, Mademoiselle Duchesnois in tragedy, and of that daughter
of Nature, Mademoiselle Mars, in comedy.…

“Upon witnessing Perlet in _Le Comédien d’Etampes_, D’Orsay said—

“‘Is not Perlet _superlative_?’”

In another of his numerous voluminous and often highly entertaining
memoirs, Lord William writes of this same visit to Paris:—

“One youth attracted great attention that day”—it was a royal hunt in
the Bois de Boulogne—“from his handsome appearance, his gentlemanlike
bearing, his faultless dress and the splendid English hunter he was
mounted upon. This was Count Alfred d’Orsay, afterwards so well known
in London society. De Grammont,[1] who some few years after married his
sister, had sent him from England a first-rate Leicestershire hunter,
whose fine shape, simple saddle and bridle contrasted favourably with
the heavy animals and smart caparisons then in fashion with the Parisian

“The Count was presented to Wellington and his staff, and from that
moment he became a constant guest at the Hôtel Borghese.…”

Of another hunt, or rather of the return from it, we read:—

“Nothing occurred during the day’s sport to merit any particular comment;
perhaps the most amusing part of it was our ‘lark’ home across the
country, when myself, Fremantle, and other _attachés_ of the English
Embassy, led some half dozen Frenchmen a rather stiffish line of stone
walls and brooks. Among the latter was D’Orsay, who, albeit unaccustomed
to go ‘across country,’ was always in the ‘first flight,’ making up by
hard riding whatever he may have lacked in judgment; he afterwards lived
to be an excellent sportsman and a good rider to hounds.”

As became the son of his father, though scarcely fitting in the grandson
of a king, D’Orsay was ever a staunch Bonapartist, feeling the full
strength of the glamour of Napoleon. But the Emperor and the Empire
vanished in cannon smoke; the Bourbons occupied rather uncomfortably
the throne of France, and D’Orsay, much against the grain, entered the
King’s _garde-du-corps_. But so ardent was his devotion to Bonapartism,
that when the new monarch made his state entry into his capital, the lad
refused to be a witness of his triumph, would not add his voice to the
general acclamation, and indulged in the luxury of tears in a back room.

His inherited instincts and his education gave him a taste for all the
fine arts of life, and Nature endowed him with exceptionally good looks.
An upstanding man he became, over six feet in stature; broad-shouldered
and slim-waisted; hands and feet of unusual beauty; long, curly, dark
chestnut hair; forehead high and wide; lips rather full; eyes large,
and light hazel in colour. Though there was something almost femininely
soft about his beauty he was nowise effeminate; in fact, he was a superb
athlete, and highly skilled in almost every form of manly exercise and
sport. We are told that he was a wit; a capital companion at all hours of
the day and night; a quite capable amateur artist, who, as is the way of
amateurs, received assistance from his professional friends, and—which is
unusual at any rate among amateurs in art if not in sport—took pay for
his work. In short, he was a very highly-gifted and accomplished young

D’Orsay was born in an age when the atmosphere was electric with
adventure; when nobodies rapidly became somebodies, and many who had
been brought up to consider themselves very considerable somebodies were
shocked at being told that in truth they were nobodies, or at best but
the thin shadows of great names. It was an age when even the discomforts
of a throne were not an unreasonable aspiration for the most humbly born.
With his beauty of face and figure, fascinating manners and high family
influence, young D’Orsay must have looked upon the world as a fine fat
oyster which he could easily open and from which he could pluck the pearl
of success. He possessed a winning tongue that would have made him a
great diplomat; the daring and skill at arms that would have stood him
in good stead as a soldier of fortune; a power of raising money in most
desperate straits that would have rendered him an unrivalled minister
of finance. From all these roads to distinction he turned aside; he was
born to a greater fate; his was the genius of a complete dandy. Few great
men have been able so justly to appraise their abilities; still fewer to
attain so surely their ambition.

During his short service in the army he proved himself a good officer
and made himself popular with his men by looking to their comfort and
welfare. Naturally he assumed the lead in all the gaieties of the
garrison town, the assemblies, the dances, the dinners, the promenadings,
but how petty they must have been to him, and how often he must have
wistfully repined for Paris. He could not play his great part on so
circumscribed a stage and with so poor a company of players. But if he
could not find sufficient social sport, he could fight, and did. On one
occasion the cause of the duel was noteworthy. It happened only a few
days after he had joined his regiment that at mess one of his brother
officers made use of an offensive expression in connection with the name
of the Blessed Virgin. D’Orsay, as became a devout Catholic gentleman,
expostulated. The offence was offensively repeated, upon which D’Orsay,
evidently feeling that a verbal retort would not suffice to meet the
gravity of the occasion, threw a plateful of spinach in the face of the
transgressor. Thereupon a challenge and a duel fought that evening upon
the town ramparts. With what result? Alas, as so often upon important
affairs, history holds her tongue. The historic muse is an arrant jade,
who chatters unceasingly upon matters of no moment, and is silent upon
points concerning which we thirst for information. That is one of the
ways of women.

On the occasion of a later duel, D’Orsay remarked to his second before
the encounter:—

“You know, my dear friend, I am not on a par with my antagonist; he is a
very ugly fellow, and if I wound him in the face he won’t look much the
worse for it; but on my side it ought to be agreed that he should not
aim higher than my chest, for if my face should be spoiled _ce serait
vraiment dommage_.”

A dandy with a damaged nose or deprived of one eye would be a figure of

From remote ancestors D’Orsay inherited the spirit of chivalry, setting
woman upon a lofty pedestal and then asking her to step down and make
love to him. He was always ready to rescue a woman—not merely a beauty—in
distress, of which a fine example is an event which befell while he
was living out of barracks in apartments, which were kept by a widow,
who had one son and two daughters. The son was a muscular young man of
robust temper, and attracted—or rather distracted—one day by the sounds
of tumult rising from below, D’Orsay hastened downstairs to find this
youth employed in bullying his mother. The blood of D’Orsay was inflamed;
the dandy thrashed the lout, promising still heavier punishment should
occasion arise.



Even the ardent D’Orsay, while he was thus preparing himself for his
life-work and laying the foundation upon which he was to raise so superb
a fame, could not in the hours of his highest inspiration have dreamed
that Fate was deciding his future in the person of a lovely Irish
peeress, the cynosure of London society. Such, in fact, was the case.
In the year 1821 he visited England and met with the woman who held his
fortunes in her beautiful arms.

Margaret, or as she preferred to be called, and when a lady expresses a
preference that should suffice, Marguerite Power was born at Knockbrit,
near Clonmel, on the 1st of September 1789, being the third of the
six children of Edmund Power, a Tipperary squireen of extravagant
propensities and of a violent temper and overbearing tyranny which
rendered him a curse to his family. He was a good-looking, swaggering
fellow, with a showy air, fond of fine clothes, fine wine, fine horses,
and various other fine things, indulgence in which his income did not
justify. His were a handsome set of children: the two sons, Michael
and Robert, attained the army rank of captain; Marguerite—and two
sisters, Ellen and Mary Anne; the eldest child died young. Of a quieter
disposition than her brothers and sisters, Marguerite as a child was
rather weak and ailing, sensitive and reflective. At that time of her
life her beauty was not obvious; indeed few then seem to have realised
that there was any charm in the soft, round, clear-complexioned face,
with its pretty dimples and large, grey eyes shielded by long, drooping
lashes. Her voice was low, soft, caressing; her movements unstudiedly
graceful. A dreamy child, who lived in fancy-land; strange to her
comrades, who awarded her little else than ridicule and misunderstanding.

In 1796 the Powers moved into Clonmel, which change was welcomed by all
the family save Marguerite, who looked forward to it with a foreboding
that was only too fully fulfilled. In some ways this move wrought good
for the child, awakening her to the realities of life, arousing an
interest in the ways and doings of the society into which she was thrown;
her health improved, and with it her spirits, both mental and physical.

Her father’s pecuniary affairs now went rapidly from worse to much worse,
and his adventures in politics rendered him highly unpopular with those
of his own rank and station. He was a hospitable soul in his reckless,
feckless way while he had a penny to spend, and often when he had not,
filling his house with guests, many of whom were military men, and
emptying his purse.

When only fifteen years old Marguerite began to go out into society, as
did her sister Ellen, her junior by more than a year. The rackety society
of a small, Irish garrison town can scarcely have been wholesome for a
young, impressionable girl, and to its influence may be attributed the
development in Lady Blessington’s character of many evil traits which
healthful surroundings and judicious restraint might have held in check.
The two graceful, pretty children quickly became popular.

Among the familiar guests at the father’s house in 1804 were two
officers of the 47th Regiment of Foot, then stationed in Clonmel,
Captain Murray and Captain Maurice St Leger Farmer, the latter a man of
considerable means, which was quite sufficient in Power’s eyes to make
him an excellent match for Marguerite, to whom both the officers were
paying attention. Though Farmer was young, good-looking, plausible,
the child’s fancy turned toward his rival, who wooed and would have
won her had a fair field been granted him. He warned Marguerite that
Farmer had proposed for her hand to her father, the news coming to her
entirely unexpected, most unwelcome, difficult to credit. But in a few
days the information was proved conclusively to be true, her father
informing her that Farmer had approached him in the matter, and that he
had given his cordial consent to his addresses. Marguerite was dismayed,
at first stunned. She fully understood the strong inducements which
the prospect of her marriage with Farmer had for a man in her father’s
embarrassed circumstances, and knew only too well from bitter experience
how intolerant he was of opposition to any of his whims or wishes, and
how little weight the desires of any of his children bore with him. From
her mother she expected some sympathy, but to her dismay received scant
consideration for her plea to be spared, her unwillingness being counted
the romantic notion of a child too young to be able to form a right
judgment of the advantages offered by this proposed marriage. Tears and
entreaties availed not, and the child was married to a man whom she held
in detestation and in fear.

That the outcome of this inhuman mating was misery is not wonderful;
there was not in it any possibility of happiness. The one a very
turbulent man who, though not actually insane, was subject to paroxysms
of rage that were terrifying; the other a child not yet sixteen years of
age, with a nature very sensitive, impressionable, and with that intense
longing for love, sympathy and understanding so common among Irish
women and men. We know what Marguerite Power did become; it is idle to
conjecture what she might have been had not this abominable marriage been
thrust upon her.

From her own account, which seems trustworthy, we learn that her husband
treated his child-wife outrageously, not even refraining from physical
violence. Her arms were meanly pinched till black and blue; her face
struck. When he went abroad, not infrequently he would lock her into her
room, sometimes leaving her for hours without nourishment.

Three months after their marriage Farmer was ordered to rejoin his
regiment at Kildare, and his wife took the bold, determined step of
refusing to go with him. A separation being arranged, Marguerite returned
to her father’s house, where she received a welcome the reverse of kind.
Home was made utterly distasteful to her, and sympathy—the one thing
that might have saved her—was withheld by her father and mother. It was
given to her from an alien quarter, and she accepted the “protection”
offered to her by Captain Thomas Jenkins of the 11th Light Dragoons, a
Hampshire man of considerable property. The astonishing thing is that
she acted on the advice given to her by Major, afterwards Sir Edward
Blakeney, her supposed friend and well-wisher. Meanwhile Farmer had gone
out to India in the East India Company’s service.

When Lord Mountjoy, better known as Lord Blessington, first met with the
fascinating Marguerite is not quite clear, but in all probability he did
so in or about 1804, when serving as Lieutenant-Colonel of the Tyrone
Militia when stationed at Clonmel.

Blessington plays a considerable and mysterious part in the life of
D’Orsay. His father, the Right Hon. Luke Gardiner, was born in the year
1745, and did his duty by his country and possibly by his conscience in
various ways. He married the daughter of a Scotch baronet, who presented
him with several daughters and two sons, one of these latter dying in
infancy, the other, Charles John, entering the world on July 19, 1782.
He was educated at Eton and at Christ Church, Oxford, and succeeded his
father in the titles of Viscount and Baron Mountjoy in 1798. In 1809
he was elected, upon what qualifications it is difficult to imagine,
a representative peer of Ireland, and in 1816 was created Earl of
Blessington. In this same year we hear of his visiting Marguerite in
Manchester Square, London.


(_From a Water-Colour Drawing by A. E. Chalon, R.A._)


As far as wealth was concerned Blessington certainly was granted a fine
start in life, but it may well be doubted if he were well endowed or
endowed at all with brains of any value, though we are informed by a
lukewarm but still possibly too warm biographer that he was “possessed of
some talents.” Let us hope so; but if so, he contrived with great skill
to bury them. We do hear of him speaking in the House of Lords in support
of a motion for a vote of thanks to Lord Wellington, and as a specimen of
his eloquence we quote:—

“No general was better skilled in war, none more enlightened than Lord
Viscount Wellington. The choice of a position at Talavera reflected
lustre on his talents; the victory was as brilliant and as glorious as
any on record. It was entitled to the unanimous approbation of their
lordships, and the eternal gratitude of Spain and of this country.”

It is also recorded that his lordship spoke but seldom, which may be
counted to him for a saving grace.

He seems to have been more at home in the green-room than in the
neighbourhood of the woolsack. He was very wealthy, very prodigal, vastly
futile. Byron relates of him:—“Mountjoy … seems very good-natured,
but is much tamed since I recollect him in all the glory of gems and
snuff-boxes, and uniforms and theatricals, sitting to Strolling, the
painter, to be depicted as one of the heroes of Agincourt.”

In another portrait he appears as Achilles, dragging at his chariot-tail
the body of Hector, a friend “sitting” for the corpse. Physically he was
vigorous; a tall, bright-looking man; a capital companion, when only good
spirits and a strong head unadorned with brain-sauce were called for.

In 1808, or 1809, Blessington—then mere Mountjoy—fell in with a very
charming and well-favoured lady named Brown, but there were “some
difficulties in the way of the resolution he had formed of marrying the
lady, but the obstacles were removed.” The obstacle was the mere trifle
of her already being possessed of if not blessed with a husband, Major
Brown, who, however, discreetly and considerately departed this life in
1812, thus enabling Blessington to legalise the lady’s position in his
establishment, the outcome of his connection with her having already been
that she had borne him two children, Charles John and Emilie Rosalie.
This lady subsequently presented him with two further pledges of her fond
affection, Lady Harriet Anne Frances Gardiner, born in 1812, and Luke
Wellington, afterwards by courtesy Viscount Mountjoy, born in 1814. On
the 9th of September of this same year she died.

Blessington was gifted with a penchant for losing his heart to ladies
possessed of “obstacles” in the way of his complete happiness, for, as
has been noted, he was in 1816 _vice_ Jenkins befriending Marguerite
Farmer. Again fortune smiled on his desires, Farmer dying of injuries
received during a drunken frolic in October 1817. On 16th February of the
following year his widow became Lady Blessington, she then being in her
twenty-ninth, he in his thirty-seventh, year.

Her beauty had ripened into something near akin to perfection, a bright
and radiant spirit shining through the physical tenement. Hers was a
vivid, compelling loveliness, supported by a vivacious good humour. Her
figure, though somewhat tending toward over-fullness, was moulded on
exquisite lines and of almost perfect proportions; her movements still
graceful and free, as they had been when she was a child; her face—now
pensively lovely, now suddenly illuminated with a joyous fancy that
first expressed itself in her sparkling eyes; pouting lips; a clear,
sweet-toned voice; the merriest of merry laughs. In sober truth, a very
fascinating woman.

This wild Irish girl, for certainly she had been a _leetle_ wild, had
climbed high up the social ladder. Without any other fortune than her
face and her winsome ways she had won a peer for her lord, who if not
highly endowed with ability possessed fortune in abundance, which for the
purposes of her contentment was even more to be desired.

The fond pair paid a visit to my lord’s estate in County Tyrone, and
also to Dublin, where the appearance of my lady created no small stir.
From the first day of their marriage Blessington exhibited a sumptuous
extravagance in providing luxuries for Lady Blessington, who herself
records:—“The only complaint I ever have to make of his taste, is its
too great splendour; a proof of which he gave me when I went to Mountjoy
Forest on my marriage, and found my private sitting-room hung with
crimson Genoa silk velvet, trimmed with gold bullion fringe, and all
the furniture of equal richness—a richness that was only suited to a
state-room in a palace,” or to any other room seldom used or seen.

The wilds of Ireland, however, were not a fitting stage for one so
ambitious to charm as was Lady Blessington, so after a short sojourn in
Tyrone she and her husband returned to London, where they took up their
residence at 10 St James’ Square, a house that had been dignified by the
occupancy of Chatham and was to be by that of Gladstone.

Lady Blessington was as blest as was to be the Duke of Leeds’ bride, of
whom the rhyme ran:—

    “She shall have all that’s fine and fair,
    And the best of silk and satin shall wear;
    And ride in a coach to take the air,
    And have a house in St James’ Square.”

The mansion was fitted and furnished in a style that only great wealth
could afford or ill taste admire.

Lady Blessington with her “gorgeous charms” set the one-half of London
society raving about her beauty and her extravagance; the other half
avoided the company of a lady with so speckled a past.

There were at that time two great _salons_ in London: the one at Holland
House to which wit, beauty and respectability resorted; the second being
at Lady Blessington’s house, to which only wit and beauty were attracted.
Among the constant visitors to the latter may be named Canning,
Castlereagh, who lived a few doors off; Brougham, Jekyll, Rogers, Moore,
Kemble, Mathews the elder, Lawrence, Wilkie. Moore records a visit paid
by him in May 1822, accompanied by Washington Irving. He speaks of Lady
Blessington as growing “very absurd.”

“I have felt very melancholy and ill all this day,” she said.

“Why is that?” Moore asked, doubtless with becoming sympathy in his voice
and manner.

“Don’t you know?”


“It is the anniversary of my poor Napoleon’s death.”

Joseph Jekyll, who was well known in society as a wit and teller of good
stories and to his family as a writer of capital letters, was born in
1754, dying in 1837. It is quite startling to find him writing casually
in 1829 of having talked with “Dr” Goldsmith; how close this brings long
past times; there are those alive who met D’Orsay, who in turn knew
Jekyll, who talked with Goldsmith. Jerdan speaks of Jekyll as having “a
somewhat Voltaire-like countenance, and a flexible person and agreeable

He was a great hand at dining-out, though it distressed him to meet other
old folk, whom he unkindly dubbed “Methusalems.”

In November 1821, he writes: “London still dreary enough; but I have
dinners with judges and lawyers—nay, yesterday with the divine bit of
blue, Lady Blessington and her comical Earl. I made love and Mathews (the
elder) was invited to make faces.”

And in the February of the succeeding year, he records another visit to
St James’ Square:—

“London is by no means yet a desert. Lately we had a grand dinner at
Lord Blessington’s, who has transmogrified Sir T. Heathcote’s ground
floor into a vast apartment, and bedizened it with black and gold like an
enormous coffin. We had the Speaker, Lord Thanet, Sir T. Lawrence.…” etc.

In June 1822 we find Blessington in quite unexpected company and engaged
upon matters that would scarcely have seemed likely to appeal to him.
On the first of that month a meeting was held of the British and
Foreign Philanthropic Society, of which the object was “to carry into
effect measures for the permanent relief of the labouring classes, by
communities for mutual interest and co-operation, in which, by means
of education, example and employment, they will be gradually withdrawn
from the evils induced by ignorance, bad habits, poverty and want of
employment.” Robert Owen was the moving spirit of the Society, and the
membership was highly distinguished, including among other unforgotten
names those of Brougham, John Galt and Sir James Graham. At a meeting
at Freemasons’ Hall, Blessington was entrusted with the reading of a
report by the committee, in which it was recommended that communities
should be established on Owen’s wildly visionary plan. The meeting was
enthusiastic, much money was promised, and—history does not record
anything further of the Society.



In France—a youthful son of Mars; in England—Venus at her zenith.

D’Orsay paid his first visit to London in 1821, as the guest of the Duc
de Guiche, to whom his sister, Ida, was married. De Guiche, son of the
Duc de Grammont, had been one of the many “emigrants” of high family
who had sought and had found in England shelter from the tempest of the
Revolution, and had shown his gratitude for hospitality received by
serving in the 10th Hussars during the Peninsular War.

Landor, writing some twenty years later, says: “The Duc de Guiche is
the handsomest man I ever saw. What poor animals other men seem in the
presence of him and D’Orsay. He is also full of fun, of anecdote, of
spirit and of information.”

Gronow describes him as speaking English perfectly, and as “quiet
in manner, and a most chivalrous, high-minded and honourable man.
His complexion was very dark, with crisp black hair curling close to
his small, well-shaped head. His features were regular and somewhat
aquiline; his eyes, large, dark and beautiful; and his manner, voice,
and smile were considered by the fair sex to be perfectly irresistible”;
concluding, “the most perfect gentleman I ever met with in any country.”

So we may take it that D’Orsay did not feel that he was visiting a land
with which he had not any tie of sympathy.

His sister Ida was a year older than himself, or, to put it more
gallantly, a year less young, and bore to him a strong likeness in
appearance but not in disposition—fortunately for her husband. Her good
looks were supported by good sense.

William Archer Shee describes the Duchesse de Guiche as “a blonde, with
blue eyes, fair hair, a majestic figure, an exquisite complexion.…”

In those golden days the adornment of a handsome person with
ultra-fashionable clothes did not qualify a man as a dandy. Much more
was demanded. It was, therefore, no small feather in D’Orsay’s cap that
he came to London an unknown young man, was seen, and by his very rivals
at once acknowledged as a conqueror. His youth, his handsome face, his
debonairness, his wit, were irresistible. Everywhere, even at Holland
House, he made a good impression. He rode in Hyde Park perfectly “turned
out,” the admired of those who were accustomed to receive, not to give,
admiration. At a ball at the French Embassy where all the lights of
fashionable society shone in a brilliant galaxy, he was a centre of
attraction “with his usual escort of dandies.”

[Illustration: ST JAMES’S SQUARE IN 1812


At the Blessingtons’ he was a favoured guest. Gronow, discreetly naming
no names, writes of the “unfortunate circumstances which entangled the
Count as with a fatal web from early youth”; surely a poorly prosaic way
of describing the romantic love of a young man for a beautiful woman only
twelve years his senior?

As Grantley Berkeley puts it: “The young Count made a most favourable
impression where-ever he appeared; but nowhere did it pierce so deep or
so lasting as in the heart of his charming hostess of the magnificent
_conversaziones_, _soirées_, dinners, balls, breakfasts and suppers, that
followed each other in rapid succession in that brilliant mansion in St
James’ Square.”

Grantley Berkeley also says: “At his first visit to England, he was
pre-eminently handsome; and, as he dressed fashionably, was thoroughly
accomplished, and gifted with superior intelligence, he became a
favourite with both sexes. He had the reputation of being a lady-killer …
and his pure classical features, his accomplishments, and irreproachable
get-up, were sure to be the centre of attraction, whether in the Park or

Then of later times: “He used to ride pretty well to hounds, and
joined the hunting men at Melton; but his style was rather that of the
riding-school than of the hunting-field.…

“In dress he was more to the front; indeed, the name of D’Orsay was
attached by tailors to any kind of raiment, till Vestris tried to turn
the Count into ridicule. Application was made to his tailor for a coat
made exactly after the Count’s pattern. The man sent notice of it to
his patron, asking whether he should supply the order, and the answer
being in the affirmative, the garment was made and sent home. No doubt
D’Orsay imagined that some enthusiastic admirer had in this way sought to
testify his appreciation; but, on going to the Olympic Theatre to witness
a new piece, he had the gratification of seeing his coat worn by Liston
as a burlesque of himself.” This “take-off” did not please D’Orsay, who
withdrew his patronage from the Olympic and appeared no more in the
green-room which he had been wont to frequent. But the town, which had
caught wind of the joke, was delighted, and roared with merriment.

Is there a hidden reference to D’Orsay’s visit and possibly even to Lady
Blessington in these lines from “Don Juan”?

    “No marvel then he was a favourite;
      A full-grown Cupid, very much admired;
    A little spoilt, but by no means so quite;
      At least he kept his vanity retired.
    Such was his tact, he could alike delight
      The chaste, and those who are not so much inspired.
    The Duchess of Fitz-Fulke, who loved ‘_tracasserie_,’
    Began to treat him with some small ‘_agacerie_.’

    “She was a fine and somewhat full-blown blonde,
      Desirable, distinguished, celebrated
    For several winters in the grand _grand monde_.
      I’d rather not say what might be related
    Of her exploits, for this were ticklish ground.…”

At a later date we find Byron describing the Count to Tom Moore as
one “who has all the air of a _cupidon déchainé_, and is one of the
few specimens I have ever seen of our ideal of a Frenchman before the

Also at that later date (1823), when he met D’Orsay at Genoa with the
Blessingtons, Byron was lent by Blessington a journal which the Count
had written during this first visit of his to London. When returning it,
he writes, on 5th April:—

    “MY DEAR LORD,—How is your gout? or rather how are you?
    I return the Count d’Orsay’s journal, which is a very
    extraordinary production, and of a most melancholy truth in all
    that regards high life in England. I know, or knew personally,
    most of the personages and societies which he describes; and
    after reading his remarks, have the sensation fresh upon me
    as if I had seen them yesterday. I would, however, plead in
    behalf of some few exceptions, which I will mention by and bye.
    The most singular thing is, _how_ he should have penetrated
    _not_ the _facts_, but the _mystery_ of English _ennui_, at
    two-and-twenty.[2] I was about the same age when I made the
    same discovery, in almost precisely the same circles—for there
    is scarcely a person whom I did not see nightly or daily, and
    was acquainted more or less intimately with most of them—but
    I never could have discovered it so well, _Il faut être
    Français_ to effect this. But he ought also to have seen the
    country during the hunting season, with ‘a select party of
    distinguished guests,’ as the papers term it. He ought to have
    seen the gentlemen after dinner (on the hunting days), and the
    soirée ensuing thereupon—and the women looking as if they had
    hunted, or rather been hunted; and I could have wished that
    he had been at a dinner in town, which I recollect at Lord
    Cowper’s—small, but select, and composed of the most amusing
    people.… Altogether, your friend’s journal is a very formidable
    production. Alas! our dearly-beloved countrymen have only
    discovered that they are tired, and not that they are tiresome;
    and I suspect that the communication of the latter unpleasant
    verity will not be better received than truths usually are.
    I have read the whole with great attention and instruction—I
    am too good a patriot to say _pleasure_—at least I won’t say
    so, whatever I may think.… I beg that you will thank the young

A few days later—how pleasing it is to find one great writer openly
admiring another and a younger!—Byron writes to D’Orsay himself:—

    “MY DEAR COUNT D’ORSAY (if you will permit me to address you
    so familiarly)—you should be content with writing in your own
    language, like Grammont, and succeeding in London as nobody has
    succeeded since the days of Charles the Second, and the records
    of Antonio Hamilton, without deviating into our barbarous
    language—which you understand and write, however, much better
    than it deserves. ‘My approbation,’ as you are pleased to term
    it, was very sincere, but perhaps not very impartial; for,
    though I love my country, I do not love my countrymen—at least,
    such as they now are. And besides the seduction of talent and
    wit in your work, I fear that to me there was the attraction
    of vengeance. I have _seen_ and _felt_ much of what you have
    described so well … the portraits are so like that I cannot
    but admire the painter no less than his performance. But I am
    sorry for you; for if you are so well acquainted with life at
    your age, what will become of you when the illusion is still
    more dissipated?”

It is much to be regretted that this vivacious journal has never seen
the light of publicity; there must have been considerable interest in a
piece of writing which so greatly attracted and excited the admiration
of Byron; but even more important, its pages would have helped to the
understanding of D’Orsay and have brought us closer to him in these his
young days. Further, a view of English society at that date by a candid
Frenchman must have been highly entertaining. D’Orsay, apparently having
changed his mind with regard to persons and things, or fearing that the
publication of so scathing an indictment might savour of ingratitude
toward those who had entertained him with kindness, consigned to the
flames this “very formidable production” of his ebullient days of youth.
Another account is that it was destroyed by his sister.

In 1822 D’Orsay tore himself away from the enchantments of London and
bade farewell to the beautiful enchantress of St James’ Square.



In November 1822, D’Orsay again met Lady Blessington.

Apparently it was at Blessington’s express desire that the house in
St James’ Square was shut up; its glories were dimmed with holland
sheetings; the mirrors that had reflected so much of youth and love and
beauty were covered; the windows that had so often shone with hospitable
lights were shuttered and barred. On 25th August a start was made on a
Continental tour. Blessington was satiated with the turmoil of pleasures
that London afforded, satiety held him in its bitter grasp. He had
exhausted the wild joys of the life of a man about town; he was still
thirsty for enjoyment, but the accustomed draughts no longer quenched his
thirst. It was bluntly said by one that he was “prematurely impaired in
mental energies.” Whether that were or were not the case, judging by his
conduct during the remainder of his life he must have lost all sense of
honour and of social decency.

To the party of two a third member was added in the person of Lady
Blessington’s youngest sister, Mary Anne Power, a woman pretty in a less
full-blown style than her sister, which caused her to be likened to a
primrose set beside a peach blossom. Lady Blessington, who for herself
preferred Marguerite to Margaret, renamed her sister Marianne. In 1831
Marianne married the Comte de St Marsault, but the union was disastrously
unhappy. The Comte was an aged gentleman of ancient lineage, and his
wintriness blighted the poor primrose.

The tourists travelled in great style by Dover, Calais, Rouen, St
Germain-en-Laye, and so on to Paris. At St Germain Lady Blessington’s
thoughts naturally turned toward the unhallowed fortunes of the La
Pompadour and du Barry. She pondered over the curious fact that decency
does in social estimation take from vice half its sting, and over the
coarseness displayed by Louis XV. in choosing his mistresses from outside
the ranks of the ladies of his Court, rendering the refinement of Louis
XIV. virtuous by contrast. She very truly says—and what better judge
could we wish for upon such a point than she?—“A true morality would be
disposed to consider the courtly splendour attached to the loves of Louis
XIV. as the more demoralising example of the two, from being the less

In Paris they halted for some days, meeting among other distinguished
men with the volatile Tom Moore, whom Lady Blessington hits off with
the singular felicity and simplicity of language that distinguishes her
literary style. She found him to be of “a happy temperament, that conveys
the idea of having never lived out of sunshine, and his conversation
reminds one of the evolutions of some bird of gorgeous plumage, each
varied hue of which becomes visible as he carelessly sports in the air.”

Lady Blessington’s birthday, September 1st, was celebrated during this
visit to Paris, and she tells us that after a woman has passed the age of
thirty the recurrence of birthdays is not a matter for congratulation,
concluding with the striking remark: “Youth is like health, we never
value the possession of either until they have begun to decline.”

From Paris they went on to Switzerland. Their travelling equipage not
unnaturally aroused the wonderment of the onlookers who assembled to
witness their departure. Travelling carriages and a baggage wagon—a
_fourgon_—piled high with imperials and packages of all sizes; the
courier, as important in his mien as a commander of an army corps,
bustling here, bustling there; lady’s maid busily packing; valets and
footmen staggering and grumbling under heavy trunks. Lady Blessington
heard a Frenchman under her window exclaim: “How strange those English
are! One would suppose that instead of a single family, a regiment at
least were about to move!”

Move at last the regiment did, though not without dire struggling. They
are off! Amid a tornado of expostulations and exhortations; off along
the straight, dusty roads to Switzerland. Further we need not accompany
them. For us the centre of interest lies at Valence, on the Rhone,
where D’Orsay was with his regiment under orders to march with the
Duc d’Angoulême over the Pyrenees. But to war’s alarms D’Orsay was now
deaf. He heard above the din of trumpet and of drum the call of love,
and answered to it. He resigned his commission. For at the hotel where
was established the regimental mess the Blessingtons arrived on November
15th; the romance of love eclipsed the romance of war.

From this point onward there can be little doubt as to D’Orsay’s position
as regards Lady Blessington, but as concerns Blessington everything
grows more and more extraordinary, and more and more discreditable to
the blind or easy-going husband. Charles Greville says that Blessington
was really fond of the fascinating young Frenchman. He looked on him as
a charming, happy comrade. It was at his persuasion that D’Orsay threw
up his commission, Blessington making “a formal promise to the Count’s
family that he should be provided for.” At any rate such provision was
made later on. Greville adds that D’Orsay’s early connection with Lady
Blessington was a mystery; certainly it was so as far as concerns the
behaviour of the lady’s husband. D’Orsay’s conduct is explicable in two
ways: either infatuation for a beautiful woman blinded him to his real
interests and rendered him unable to count the cost of the course he now
decided to pursue, or he preferred to that of the soldier the _dolce far
niente_ life of a dependent loafer. Possibly, however, the two motives

The company was now complete and each member of it apparently entirely
content. They moved on to Orange, and on November 20th reached Avignon,
at which place a considerable stay was made. Avignon! Petrarch and Laura!
Lady Blessington and Count d’Orsay! Glory almost overwhelming for any
one town. The battlemented walls; the ancient bridge; the swift stream
of the Rhone; the storied palace of the Pope; and the famous fountain of
Vaucluse, given to fame by Petrarch; a proper setting for the love of
Alfred and of Marguerite.

They stayed at the _Hôtel de l’Europe_, a comfortable hostelry, an inn
which many years before had been the scene of an incident which formed
the groundwork of the comedy of _The Deaf Lover_. It was now the scene
of incidents which might well have supplied the materials for a comedy
of _The Blind Husband: or, There are None so Short-sighted as those who
Won’t See!_

There was gaiety and society at Avignon, much social coming and going,
dinners, dances, receptions and routs. The Duc and Duchesse de Caderousse
Grammont, who resided in a château close to the town, were doubtless
delighted to see their young connection the Count, and to welcome
his friends. Lady Blessington enjoyed herself immensely, and it is
interesting to know that her refined taste was charmed by the decorum of
French dancing:—

“The waltz in France,” she writes, “loses its objectionable familiarity
by the manner in which it is performed. The gentleman does not clasp his
fair partner round the waist with a freedom repugnant to the modesty and
destructive to the _ceinture_ of the lady; but so arranges it, that he
assists her movements, without incommoding her delicacy or her drapery.
In short, they manage these matters better in France than with us;[3] and
though no advocate for this exotic dance, I must admit that, executed as
I have seen it, it could not offend the most fastidious eye.”

Lady Blessington was, as we know, an authority upon “objectionable
familiarity.” What would this fastidious dame have thought of the
shocking indelicacy of modern ball-room romps? Would “kitchen” Lancers
have appealed favourably to her? Would her approbation have honoured the
graceful cake-walk? But we must not linger over such nice inquiries; we
must not lose ourselves in the maze of might-have-beens, but must move on
to fact, Southward ho! To Italy, the land of Love and Olives.



Genoa was reached on the last day of March 1823, and Lady Blessington, as
also doubtless D’Orsay, because of the sweet sympathy between two hearts
that beat as one, was enraptured with the beautiful situation of the
town, in her Journal breaking forth into descriptive matter which must
be the envy of every conscientious journalist. Their entrance was made
by night, and they found lodging at the _Alberga del la Villa_, a house
situated upon the sea front, bedecked with marble balconies and the rooms
adorned with a plenitude of gilding that brought comfort to the simple
heart of Lady Blessington. But it was not by matters so material as its
beauties or the comforts of its inns that her soul was really touched. To
be in Genoa was to be in the same place as Byron, of whom the very morrow
might bring the sight. The only fly in the honey was that the poet might
still be fat, as, alack, Tom Moore had reported him to be when at Venice.
An imperfect peer is sad enough; but an obese poet—Oh, fie!

On April first, auspicious date, the fair inspirer of poems met with the
writer of them, the vision being not entrancing but disappointing to the
eager lady. What it was to the poet we do not know, though there are,
indeed, quite firm grounds for surmising that Byron was not entirely
pleased by the invasion of the privacy which he so jealously guarded,
by the intrusion upon his retirement of the Blessingtons even when
accompanied by D’Orsay.

Ingenuity was practised in order to secure admission. The day selected
for the drive out to Albano was rainy, a circumstance which it was
calculated would compel even the most curmudgeonly of poets to offer
hospitality and shelter. The event proved the soundness of the
calculation. The carriage drew up to the gates of the _Casa Saluzzo_;
the two gentlemen alighted, sent in their names, were admitted, were
cordially welcomed. Outside in the downpour sat the two pretty ladies. We
know not what emotion, if any, agitated Marianne Power; but who can doubt
that painful anxiety and doubt fluttered in the bosom of her sister?
Would Byron, or would Byron not? To be admitted or not to be admitted?
Of what count were all the charms of Genoa, what weighed all the joys of
illicit love, if she could not gain admission to the presence of the poet
whose conversation—and her own—she was destined to record?

Slowly the minutes passed. Then at last came relief. Byron had learned
that the ladies were at his gates; breathless, hatless, he ran out.

“You must have thought me,” he gasped, “quite as ill-bred and _sauvage_
as fame reports in having permitted your ladyship to remain a quarter of
an hour at my door: but my old friend Lord Blessington is to blame, for I
only heard a minute ago that it was so highly honoured. I shall not think
you do not pardon (_sic_) this apparent rudeness, unless you enter my
abode—which I entreat you will do.”

So the lady reports his speech, the which is precisely the manner in
which Byron would have expressed himself—more or less.

Lady Blessington was quite easily mollified, granting the pardon so
gracefully sought, accepting his assisting hand, and, crossing the
courtyard, passed into the vestibule. Before them bowed the uniformed
_chasseur_ and other obsequious attendants, all showing in their faces
the surprise they felt at their master displaying so much cordiality in
his reception of the visitors.

The whole account in her Journal gives promise of the eminence to which
Lady Blessington afterward attained as a writer of fiction.

Lady Blessington was disappointed in Byron as Oscar Wilde was by the
Atlantic and Mr Bernard Shaw is by the world. He did not reach the ideal
she had framed of the author of _Childe Harold_ and _Manfred_. He was a
jovial, vivacious, even flippant man of the world. His brow should have
been gloomy with sardonic melancholy, and his eyes shadowed by a hidden
grief which not even love or the loveliness of Lady Blessington could
assuage. But, alas, for the evanescence of ideals!

[Illustration: LORD BYRON

(_By D’Orsay_)


Of this meeting we also have Byron’s version. He writes to Moore:—

“Miladi seems highly literary, to which and your honour’s acquaintance
with the family, I attribute the pleasure of having seen them. She is
also very pretty, even in a morning,—a species of beauty on which the
sun of Italy does not shine so frequently as the chandelier. Certainly
English women wear better than their Continental neighbours of the same

Accounts differ as to whether Byron did or did not extend familiar
friendship to the Blessingtons; it really does not much matter—if at
all. But it is of importance to know that he fell before the charms of
the irresistible D’Orsay. Indeed so blinded was he with admiration that
he not only discovered the young Frenchman to be “clever, original,
unpretending,” but also stated that “he affected to be nothing that
he was not.” We fancy D’Orsay would not have counted an accusation of
modesty as a compliment. In such a man, properly conscious of his gifts,
modesty can only be a mockery. Mock modesty is to the true what mock
is to real turtle—an insolent imitation. D’Orsay was above all things
candid, when there existed no valid reason for being otherwise.

While at Genoa D’Orsay drew Byron’s portrait, which afterward formed
the frontispiece to Lady Blessington’s _Conversations of Lord Byron_,
which is quite the most realistic and skilful of her ladyship’s works of
fiction. The poet gave the painter a ring, a souvenir not to be worn for
it was too large. It was made of lava, “and so far adapted to the fire of
his years and character,” so Byron wrote to Lady Blessington, through
whose hand he conveyed the gift, perchance deeming that by so doing he
would enhance its value.

Byron’s yacht, the _Bolivar_, was purchased by Blessington for £300,
having cost many times that sum. The vessel was fitted in the most
sumptuous manner; soft cushions, alluring couches, marble baths, every
extravagance that the heart of a woman could conceive or the purse of man
pay for; suitable surroundings for our modern Antony and Cleopatra.



“The Pilgrims from St James’ Square” travelled onward through Florence to
Rome, from which latter city they were driven in haste by the heat and
the fear of malaria; so to Naples where they arrived on July 17th. It was
from the hill above the _Campo Santo_ that they gained their first view
of the town where they were to spend so many happy hours. On the brow of
the eminence the postilions pulled up the horses, so that the travellers
might at their leisure survey the wonderful panorama; the towers, the
steeples, the domes, the palaces, the multitude of gardens, the blue
waters of the famous Bay; Vesuvius outlined against the spotless sky;
from behind the Isle of Capri the sun sending up broad shafts of light;
directly below them the high walls and the solemn cedars of the city of
the dead.

At the hotel _Gran Bretagna_, facing the sea, they secured comfortable
quarters commanding a fine view over the Bay, which enchanted Lady
Blessington. But it was quickly decided that a less noisy abode was
desirable, and after a prolonged house-hunting the Palazzo Belvedere
at Vomero was engaged. Before they could move into it English comforts
had to be superimposed upon Italian magnificence, much to the amazement
of the Prince and Princess Belvedere, who had not found their home
lacking in anything material. Blessington must have been born with the
bump of extravagance highly developed, and Lady Blessington did not do
anything to depress it. The gardens of the _Palazzo_ were superb and
delightful the views they commanded. So in these luxurious surroundings
the toil-worn travellers settled down to contentment—though the heat was

Of the rooms we may note that the _salon_ was a spacious apartment, of
which the four corners were turned into so many independent territories,
of which one was occupied by Lady Blessington’s paper-strewn table, and
another by D’Orsay’s, artistically untidy; the others were allotted to
Marianne Power and to young Charles Mathews. Blessington had his own
private sanctum, in which he busied himself with literary and artistic
enterprises, all of which were still-born, except a novel, concerning
which Jekyll gives this advice: “Don’t read Lord Blessington’s _Reginald
de Vavasour_ … duller than death.”

How charming a morning spent in that salon in that charming company: the
Lady of the House, romantic and tender; D’Orsay, debonair and gracious;
Marianne, pretty, never in the way, never out of it when her company was
wanted; and gay, young Charles Mathews intent upon his drawings. To them
enter, upon occasion fitting or otherwise, the Lord of the House, too
full of his own affairs to heed the affair that was going on before his
eyes, or heedless of it, who can say which; now bestowing a caress upon
his adoring wife, now casting a heavy jest to his young _protégé_, the
Count; now summoning Mathews to come into his room and discuss the plans
for the superb home that he was going to build in Ireland, but which
remained a castle in the air.

Charles James Mathews, who was born December 26th, 1803, was in his early
years destined for the Church, but his exuberant high spirits scarcely
foreshadowed success in that walk of life. Having evinced a decided taste
for architecture, he was articled to Augustus Pugin, whose office he
entered in 1819. Charles James was a lively lad, quick of wit and ready
of tongue, a well-read young fellow, too. In August, 1823, the elder
Mathews received a letter from Blessington, who had returned from Italy
and with whom he had long been intimately acquainted, expressing his
intention to build a house at Mountjoy Forest and to give the younger
Mathews “an opportunity of making his _début_ as an architect.” So off
to the North of Ireland went Charles James, and for a couple of months
lived a very jolly life with his “noble patron.” The plans for the new
house were approved, but it was considered necessary to consult Lady
Blessington before any final decisions were arrived at, and, eventually,
the whole scheme was shelved. Young Mathews was invited by Blessington
to accompany him on his return to Italy, and—says Mathews—“on the
twenty-first of September, 1823, eyes were wiped and handkerchiefs waved,
as, comfortably ensconced in the well-laden travelling carriage, four
post-horses rattled us away from St James’ Square.”

So it will be seen that kindly Blessington left Marguerite and Alfred
to take care of each other this summer time, with Marianne to play
gooseberry. Expeditions here, there and everywhere, were the order of the
day; drives along the coast, or in the evening down into Naples, to the
Chiaja thronged with carriages. There were many English then resident in
Naples, among them Sir William Gell, whom D’Orsay once described as “Le
brave Gell, protecteur-général des _humbugs_.” He was evidently a bit of
a “character”; a man of learning, withal, who wrote of the topography
of Troy and the antiquities of Ithaca; chamberlain to the eccentric
Queen Caroline, in whose favour he gave his evidence; an authority on
Pompeii—and an amiable man. Mathews speaks of him as “Dear, old, kind,
gay Sir William Gell, who, while wheeling himself about the room in his
chair, for he was unable to walk a step without help, alternately kept
his friends on the broad grin with his whimsical sallies” and talked
archæological “shop”; “his hand was as big as a leg of mutton and covered
with chalkstones”; nevertheless he could draw with admirable precision.

Greville tells of him, some years later, as living in “his eggshell of
a house and pretty garden, which he planted himself ten years ago, and
calls it the Boschetto Gellio.” Moore speaks of him as “still a coxcomb,
but rather amusing.”

He was a man of sound humour; he could make fun out of his own
misfortunes, as in this letter written from Rome in 1824: “I am sitting
in my garden, under the shade of my own vines and figs, my dear Lady
Blessington, where I have been looking at the people gathering the
grapes, which are to produce six barrels of what I suspect will prove
very bad wine; and all this sounds very well, till I tell you that I am
positively sitting in a wheelbarrow, which I found the only means of
conveying my crazy person into the garden. Don’t laugh, Miss Power.”

He was not always respectful to his royal mistress, for he accuses her of
being capable of saying, “O trumpery! O Moses!”

Lady Blessington was indeed fortunate in the guides who chaperoned her
on her visits to the many interesting places around Naples; Uwins,
the painter, escorted her to picture-galleries and museums; so did
Westmacott, the sculptor; Herschel, afterward Sir John, accompanied her
to the Observatory; Sir William Gell was her cicerone at Pompeii, and to
D’Orsay fell the honour of everywhere being by her side.

Pompeii inspired Lady Blessington to verse—

    “Lonely city of the dead!
    Body whence the soul has fled,
    Leaving still upon thy face
    Such a mild and pensive grace
    As the lately dead display,
    While yet stamped upon frail clay,
    Rests the impress of the mind,
    That the fragile earth refined.”

The house-party was once again complete when Blessington and Mathews
arrived in November.

Young Mathews fancied he had dropped into Paradise, and gives a glowing
description of his environment: “The Palazzo Belvedere, situated about
a mile and a half from the town on the heights of Vomero, overlooking
the city, and the beautiful turquoise-coloured bay dotted with latine
sails, with Vesuvius on the left, the island of Capri on the right,
and the lovely coast of Sorrento stretched out in front, presented an
enchanting scene. The house was the perfection of an Italian palace,
with its exquisite frescoes, marble arcades, and succession of terraces
one beneath the other, adorned with hanging groves of orange-trees and
pomegranates, shaking their odours among festoons of vines and luxuriant
creepers, affording agreeable shade from the noontide sun, made brighter
by the brilliant parterres of glowing flowers, while refreshing fountains
plashed in every direction among statues and vases innumerable.”

Among the company Mathews found one of about his own age, with whom
he struck up a firm friendship; D’Orsay was naturally a fascinating
companion and exemplar for any young man of parts. Enthusiasm glows
in the following description: “Count d’Orsay … I have no hesitation
in asserting was the _beau-idéal_ of manly dignity and grace. He had
not yet assumed the marked peculiarities of dress and deportment which
the sophistications of London life subsequently developed. He was the
model of all that could be conceived of noble demeanour and youthful
candour; handsome beyond all question; accomplished to the last degree;
highly educated, and of great literary acquirements; with a gaiety of
heart and cheerfulness of mind that spread happiness on all around him.
His conversation was brilliant and engaging, as well as clever and
instructive. He was moreover the best fencer, dancer, swimmer, runner,
dresser; the best shot, the best horseman, the best draughtsman of his
age.” There are some touches of exaggeration here, but it is valuable as
the impression made upon a shrewd youth of the world.

He notes, too, that D’Orsay spoke English in the prettiest manner; maybe
with a touch of Marguerite’s brogue.

Mathews has given us a description of the routine of life at the Palazzo
Belvedere:—“In the morning we generally rise from our beds, couches,
floors, or whatever we happen to have been reposing upon the night
before, and those who have morning gowns or slippers put them on as soon
as they are up. We then commence the ceremony of washing, which is longer
or shorter in its duration, according to the taste of the persons who
use it. You will be glad to know that from the moment Lady Blessington
awakes she takes exactly one hour and a half to the time she makes her
appearance, when we usually breakfast; this prescience is remarkably
agreeable, as one can always calculate thus upon the probable time of our
breakfasting; there is sometimes a difference of five or six minutes, but
seldom more. This meal taking place latish in the day, I always have a
premature breakfast in my own room the instant I am up, which prevents
my feeling that hunger so natural to the human frame from fasting. After
our collation, if it be fine we set off to see sights, walks, palaces,
monasteries, views, galleries of pictures, antiquities, _and all that
sort of thing_; if rainy, we set to our drawing, writing, reading,
billiards, fencing, and _everything in the world_.… In the evening each
person arranges himself (and herself) at his table and follows his own
concerns till about ten o’clock, when we sometimes play whist, sometimes
talk, and are always delightful! About half-past eleven we retire with
our flat candlesticks in our hands.… At dinner Lady B. takes the head
of the table, Lord B. on her left, Count d’Orsay on her right, and I at
the bottom. We have generally for the first service a joint and five
_entrées_; for the second, a _rôti_ and five _entrées_, including sweet
things. The name of our present cook is Raffelle, and a very good one
when he likes.”

A heated but brief quarrel between D’Orsay and Mathews gives us a glimpse
of the former’s hot temper. The two had become constant comrades,
fencing, shooting, swimming, riding, drawing together.

Blessington had formed the habit of boring the party by insisting on
their accompanying him on sailing trips aboard the _Bolivar_, his
purchase from Byron, which expeditions had more than once culminated in
their being becalmed for hours and overwhelmed with heat and _ennui_.
One sultry morning when Blessington suggested a sail, they with one
consent began to make excuses, good and bad: the ladies were afraid of
the sun; D’Orsay said a blunt “No,” and Mathews was anxious to complete a
sketch. To which last Lord Blessington remarked—

“As you please. I only hope you will really carry out your intention; for
even your friend Count d’Orsay says that you carry your sketch-book with
you everywhere, but that you never bring back anything in it.”

Possibly there was an element of truth in the criticism; at any rate it
struck home.

It was apparently a somewhat sulky party that went a-driving that
afternoon; two charming women and two ill-humoured young men. Suddenly,
without any further provocation, Mathews burst out—

“I have to thank you, Count d’Orsay, for the high character you have
given me to Lord Blessington, with regard to my diligence.”

“Comment?” responded D’Orsay.

“I should have been more gratified had you mentioned to me, instead of to
his lordship, anything you might have—”

“Vous êtes un mauvais blagueur, par Dieu, la plus grande bête et blagueur
que j’ai jamais rencontré, et la première fois que vous me parlez comme
ça, je vous casserai la tête et je vous jetterai par la fenêtre.”

Indubitably ill-temper, of which we know not the cause, had made the
Count forget his manners; Mathews rightly kept silent, reserving the
continuation of the quarrel for a future and more proper occasion, and
Lady Blessington aided him by the rebuke—

“Count d’Orsay, I beg you to remember I am present, and that such
language is not exactly what I should have expected before me.”

But the fiery Frenchman was not to be suppressed and answered hotly.

In the evening Mathews received a note from D’Orsay, repeating the
offence in almost more offensive terms. Of course, a duel was the order
of the day; Mathews wrote demanding satisfaction or an apology; of which
former he was promptly promised all he might desire to have. Mathews
found his friend Madden willing to act as his second, but Blessington
very naturally, as host of both the parties, refused to act for the
Count. But Madden was a diplomatist, and despatched to D’Orsay what his
principal terms a “very coolly written” letter, which called forth the

    “MON CHER MR MADDEN,—Je suis très loin d’être fâché que Mr
    Mathews vous ait choisi pour son témoin, ma seule crainte eut
    été qu’il en choisît un autre.

    “Je suis aussi très loin d’être offensé d’un de vos avis.
    Lorsque j’estime quelqu’un, son opinion est toujours bien reçue.

    “L’affaire, comme vous savez, est très simple dans le principe.
    On me fit la question si Mathews avait dessiné à Caprée; je
    dis que non, mais qu’il emportoit toujours ses crayons et
    son album pour ne rien faire—que cela étoit dommage avec ses
    grandes dispositions. Lord Blessington n’as pas eu le courage
    de lui représenter sans y mêler mon nom, et Mathews a pris
    la chose avec moi sur un ton si haut que j’ai été obligé de
    la rabaisser, après lui avoir exprimé que ce n’étoit que par
    intérêt pour lui que j’avois fait cette représentation. Il à
    continué sur le même ton; je lui dis alors que la première fois
    qu’il prendroit un ton semblable avec moi je le jetterois hors
    de la voiture et lui casserois la tête. J e vous répète mot
    pour mot cette altercation. La seule différence que j’ai fait
    entre lui et un autre, c’est que je n’ai fait que dire ce que
    j’aurois fait certainement vis-à-vis d’un autre qui prendroit
    ce ton avec moi. Si j’ai accompagné mon projet d’avenir de mots
    offensants et inconvenants, j’en suis aussi fâché pour lui que
    pour moi, car c’est me manquer à moi-même que d’user des mots
    trop violents.

    “Pour votre observation sur la différence des rangs, elle est
    inutile, car jamais je n’attache d’importance au rang qui
    se trouve souvent compromis par tant de bêtes. Je juge les
    personnes pour ce qu’elles sont, sans m’informer qui étoient
    leurs ancêtres, et si mon supérieur eut employé la même manière
    de me rapprocher qu’a pris Mathews, j’aurois sûrement fait
    ce que je n’ai fait que dire à Mathews, que j’aime beaucoup
    trop pour le rabaisser à ses propres yeux. Il seroit ridicule
    à moi de ne pas avouer que j’ai tort de lui avoir dit des
    paroles trop fortes, mais en même temps je ne veux pas nier mes
    paroles, c’est-à-dire, mon projet de voiture, etc. Si Mathews
    veut satisfaction, je lui donnerai tant qu’il lui plaira, tout
    en lui sachant bon gré de vous avoir choisi pour son témoin.

    “Cette affaire est aussi désagréable pour vous que pour nous
    tous, mais au moins elle n’altérera pas l’amitié de votre tout

                                                    “CTE. D’ORSAY.”

Upon receipt of which letter Madden advised Mathews to shake hands,
which on meeting the Count the following morning he proceeded to do, the
overture of peace being cordially received.

“J’espère, mon cher Mathews,” said D’Orsay, “que vous êtes satisfait. Je
suis bien fâché pour ce que je vous ai dit, mais j’étais en colère et—”

To which Mathews, interrupting—

“Mon cher Comte, n’en parlons plus, je vous en prie, je l’ai tout-à-fait

But apparently Lady Blessington had something to say upon the affair,
for later on Mathews found the Count with her, in tears, and a further
apology followed.

Then the storm-clouds cleared away and all again was sunshine.

Madden who played the peacemaker, was Richard Robert of that name, born
in 1798, and at that time studying medicine at Naples. In after years
he was author of _The United Irishmen_, and of that curious book, _The
Literary Life and Correspondence of the Countess of Blessington_. Mathews
writes of him as “the witty, lively Dr Madden, at that time as full of
spirits as of mental acquirements.”



Here stands D’Orsay, _jeune premier_, the hero of this comedy _à
trois_, with the limelight full upon him; supported by Marguerite, Lady
Blessington, as leading lady, of whom Landor said to Crabb Robinson:—“She
was to Lord Blessington the most devoted wife he ever knew,” which either
speaks badly for the wives known to Walter Savage or more probably shows
that he was as blind in the matter of the lady’s virtue as he was with
regard to her age, which in 1832 he declared to be about thirty. Probably
in both cases he was judging simply by appearances, which in women are so
apt to deceive men, particularly elderly poets.

For what part shall we consider Lord Blessington as cast? Villain or
fool? We incline to the latter: it takes a fairly astute man to play
the villain with success; moreover, no man smiles and smiles and is a
villain without motive for his villainy—at least not in real life. To
complete our company we have two light comedians, Marianne Power, pretty
and ever ready with a smile, and Mathews, always ready to provide amusing
entertainment. For stage crowd, diplomatists, antiquarians, artists,
noblemen, servants and so forth:—

Sir William Gell, whom we have met, with pleasure; an Hon. R. Grosvenor,
whom Lady Blessington declared “the liveliest Englishman I have ever
seen,” and considered that his gaiety sat very gracefully upon him;
queens of beauty, too, such as the Duchess di Forli, “with hair dark as
the raven’s wing, and lustrous eyes of nearly as deep a hue, and her lips
as crimson as the flower of the pomegranate”; the Princess Centolla, who
“might furnish a faultless model for a Hebe, she is so fair, so youthful,
and so exquisitely beautiful”; an Hanoverian soldier of fortune, who
came down to fight in Sicily and captured the heart and wealth of the
Princess Bultera and her title too; the lively, diminutive, aged Thomas
James Mathias, writer of that pungent satire upon authors, _Pursuits
of Literature_, whose denial of his being the only begetter of it did
not meet with credence. He was a man with peculiarities, one of which
was the frequent use of the exclamation, “God bless my soul!” Another
was his singularly accurate memory for dates connected with the eating
of any special dish. It was fortunate for him that motor-cars were not
of his day, for he was extremely nervous when crossing the street. He
appears also to have been curiously simple. One day while dining in a
café a shower of rain came down heavily, and Sir William Gell remarked to
Mathias that it was raining cats and dogs. On the instant, as luck would
have it, a dog ran in at one door and a cat at the other. “God bless my
soul,” said Mathias, solemnly, “so it does! so it does! Who would have
believed it!”

There was Sir William Drummond, scholar and diplomatist,
minister-plenipotentiary to Naples, whose brilliant conversation was a
mixture of pedantry illuminated by flashes of imagination; the Archbishop
of Tarentum, a typical father of the Roman Church, “his face, peculiarly
handsome, is sicklied o’er with the pale hue of thought; his eyes are
of the darkest brown, but soft, and full of sensibility, like those of
a woman. His hair is white as snow, and contrasts well with the black
silk _calotte_ that crowns the top of his head. His figure is attenuated
and bowed by age, and his limbs are small and delicate…;” the astronomer
Piazzi, discoverer of the planet Ceres; General the Duc di’ Rocco Romano,
“the very personification of a _preux chevalier_; brave in arms, and
gentle and courteous in society”; Lord Dudley, eccentric as is easily
pardoned in a peer with an income of £40,000, with his unfortunate habit
of expressing aloud his opinion, good or bad, of those with whom he
conversed; James Milligan, the antiquary, to whom it was mere waste of
time to submit a forgery as a genuine antique; Casimir de la Vigne, who
recited his unpublished ‘Columbus’ at the _Palazzo_.

Fine company, of which but a few have been named; a liberal education in
themselves to a young man on his way through a world where the proper
study of mankind is man—and woman.

In junketings and journeyings the days sped by very merrily. Blessington
himself was not fond of walking and was an enemy to sight-seeing of all
kinds, so did not often join in the expeditions. Moreover, he was not
an early riser, usually breakfasting in bed, and we cannot imagine that
his company was very greatly missed; four is company, five is a crowd.
The expeditionary party, therefore, consisted of Lady Blessington and
D’Orsay, Marianne Power and Mathews; to which various guests were added
as occasion and convenience dictated.

The romantic beauty of the gardens of the Palazzo appealed to at any rate
some of the members of the household. In the evening they would resort to
the charming Pavilion at the end of the terrace, and there listen to the
playing and singing of the servants, some of whom proved to be delectable
masters of music. There was, too, an open-air theatre in the grounds; the
stage of springy turf, the proscenium formed of trees and shrubs, the
seats of marble, backed by hedges of trimmed box and ilex. This shady
playhouse the company frequented in the heat of the day; fruits and iced
drinks were served. A pleasant earthly paradise, wherein the tempting of
Adam by Eve was highly civilised—in its externals.

There were dinners on board the _Bolivar_, in the cabin wherein, it is
said, Byron wrote much of “Don Juan”; D’Orsay must have felt quite in his
element there.

In March 1825, the _Palazzo Belvedere_ was deserted for the _Villa Gallo_
at Capo di Monte, a less palatial but more comfortable abode, also
possessing grounds of great beauty.

It was not until February 1826 that our party left Naples, where they had
so greatly enjoyed themselves, returning to Rome, where they remained
for a few weeks, going thence in April to Florence and in December being
once again in Genoa. In Florence it may be noted that the Blessingtons
and D’Orsay met Landor, with whom they quickly came to be upon terms of

It was while on their first visit to Genoa, three years before this,
that news had reached Blessington of the death at the age of ten of his
son and heir, Lord Mountjoy. Of this unhappy event one of the results
was that Blessington was able to make such disposition of his property
as he considered right and proper, or at any rate to a certain and very
considerable extent. Of this freedom he availed himself in a manner
that proves either a lack of common understanding or actual inhumanity.
Included in the arrangements he made was the marriage to D’Orsay of one
of his daughters, this apparently in fulfilment of his promise to see to
it that D’Orsay’s future was provided for. Not content that the young
Frenchman should be his wife’s lover he decided to make him also his
daughter’s husband. Such a story told as fiction would be incredible.

Three months after his son’s death, Blessington signed a codicil to his
will, which ran thus:—

    “Having had the misfortune to lose my beloved son, Luke
    Wellington, and having entered into engagements with Alfred,
    Comte d’Orsay that an alliance should take place between
    him and my daughter, which engagement has been sanctioned
    by Albert, Comte d’Orsay, general, etc., in the service of
    France. This is to declare and publish my desire to leave to
    the said Alfred d’Orsay my estates in the city and county of
    Dublin (subject, however, to the annuity of three thousand per
    annum, which sum is to include the settlement of one thousand
    per annum to my wife, Margaret, Countess of Blesinton (_sic_)
    …). I make also the said Alfred d’Orsay sole guardian of my
    son Charles John, and my sister, Harriet Gardiner, guardian of
    my daughters, until they, the daughters, arrive at the age of
    sixteen, at which age I consider they will be marriageable.…
    (Signed) BLESINTON.”

In August (1823) this amazing plan was more securely fixed by the
making of a will. By this document D’Orsay was appointed one of three
executors, each of whom received £1000; to Lady Blessington was allotted
£2000 British, per annum, and all her own jewels. Then we must quote in
full:—“I give to my daughter, Harriet Anne Jane Frances, commonly called
Lady Harriet, born at my house in Seymour Place, London, on or about the
3rd day of August 1812, all my estates in the county and city of Dublin,
subject to the following charge. Provided she intermarry with my friend,
and intended son-in-law, Alfred d’Orsay, I bequeath her the sum of ten
thousand pounds only. I give to my daughter, Emily Rosalie Hamilton,
generally called Lady Mary Gardiner, born in Manchester Square, on the
24th of June 1811, whom I now acknowledge and adopt as my daughter, the
sum of twenty thousand pounds.

“In case the said Alfred d’Orsay intermarries with the said Emily,
otherwise Mary Gardiner, I bequeath to her my estates in the county and
city of Dublin.…” It did not matter upon which daughter the gallant and
chivalrous D’Orsay fixed his fancy; in either case he was to be well
rewarded. D’Orsay knew that his future was assured.

In fact, D’Orsay was handsomely dowered! How joyous must have been the
meeting between him and his sister at Pisa in 1826. Lady Blessington has
left a pleasant picture of it in her Journal:—

    “PISA.—Arrived here yesterday, and found the Duc and Duchesse
    de Guiche (Ida d’Orsay) with their beautiful children,
    established in the Casa Chiarabati, on the south side of the
    Lung’ Arno. The Duchesse is one of the most striking-looking
    women I ever beheld; and though in very delicate health, her
    beauty is unimpaired. Tall and slight, her figure is finely
    proportioned, and her air remarkably noble and graceful. Her
    features are regular, her complexion dazzlingly fair, her
    countenance full of intelligence, softened by a feminine
    sweetness that gives it a peculiar attraction, and her limbs
    are so small and symmetrical, as to furnish an instance of
    Byron’s favourite hypothesis, that delicately formed hands
    and feet were infallible indications of noble birth. But had
    the Duchesse de Guiche no other charm than her hair, that
    would constitute an irresistible one. Never did I see such
    a profusion, nor of so beautiful a colour and texture. When
    to those exterior attractions are added manners graceful
    and dignified, conversation witty and full of intelligence,
    joined to extreme gentleness, it cannot be wondered at that
    the Duchesse de Guiche is considered one of the most lovely
    and fascinating women of her day. It is a pleasing picture to
    see this fair young creature, for she is still in the bloom
    of youth, surrounded by her three beautiful boys, and holding
    in her arms a female infant strongly resembling her. One
    forgets _la grande dame_ occupying her tabouret at Court, ‘the
    observed of all observers,’ in the interest excited by a fond
    young mother in the domestic circle, thinking only of the dear
    objects around her.”

Who better could appreciate this happy scene than Lady Blessington, with
all her dear objects around her: her sister, her husband, her dear friend?

One more Pisan scene is worth quoting:—

    “_March._—Mr Wilkie,[4] our celebrated painter, has come to
    spend a few days with us. He enjoys Italy very much, and his
    health is, I am happy to say, much improved. He was present,
    last evening, at a concert at the Duchesse de Guiche’s, where
    a delicate compliment was offered to her, the musicians having
    surprised her with an elegantly turned song, addressed to her,
    and very well sung; copies of which were presented to each
    of the party, printed on paper _couleur de rose_, and richly
    embossed. This _galanterie_ originated with half a dozen of the
    most distinguished of the Pisans, and the effect was excellent,
    owing to the poetic merit of the verses, the good music to
    which they were wedded, and the unaffected surprise of the fair
    object to whom they were addressed. Mr Wilkie seemed very much
    pleased at the scene, and much struck with the courtly style of
    beauty of our hostess.”

Summer faded into autumn, but surely not too quickly for the ardent
D’Orsay, who must have longed to take to his arms his schoolgirl bride,
who was coming over from Dublin, where she had spent her childhood in the
care of her aunt.

It was a cruel thing to do, to fling this girl not yet sixteen years of
age into the arms of a man entirely strange to her, who could not even
be likely to learn to love her consumed with passion as he already was
for another. What chance had the child of happiness? As little as had
Marguerite Power when forced to marry Farmer. Did Lady Blessington recall
her first wedding-day as she stood by and watched this sacrifice? She
could not speak; her tongue was tied; what could it be to her if D’Orsay
married? And D’Orsay, what word of exculpation or excuse can be said for
him? Not one. Had he been free from intrigue this marriage would have
been a mere episode—as marriage then was and now so often is—in the life
of a man of the world. The little schoolgirl must marry someone; why
not D’Orsay? D’Orsay must have money, why not obtain it by this simple
means? Even if he had desired to hold back, what excuse could he offer—to
Blessington? There have been few scenes so grimly sardonic, not one more

On December 1st 1827, Count Albert d’Orsay, only son of General Count
d’Orsay, was married to Lady Harriet Anne Frances Gardiner at the British
Embassy at Naples. Never can nuptials have been bigger with ill-fortune,
which was the only fruit they bore.

Some few months after the wedding Madden met the bride at Rome, and
writes of her:—

“Lady Harriet was exceedingly girlish-looking, pale and rather
inanimate in expression, silent and reserved; there was no appearance
of familiarity with any one around her; no air or look of womanhood, no
semblance of satisfaction in her new position were to be observed in
her demeanour or deportment. She seldom or ever spoke, she was little
noticed, she was looked on as a mere schoolgirl; I think her feelings
were crushed, repressed, and her emotions driven inwards, by the sense
of slight and indifference, and by the strangeness and coldness of
everything around her; and she became indifferent, and strange and cold,
and apparently devoid of all vivacity and interest in society, or in the
company of any person in it.”

Juliet mated with Lothario. Doubtless the latter was quite contented
with his bargain, as indeed he had good cause to be. He had been paid a
fine price for bending his neck to the yoke matrimonial, as is shown by
the marriage settlements to which act the parties were Lord Blessington,
D’Orsay, Lady Harriet, the Duc de Guiche, Lieutenant-General and Ecuyer
of His Royal Highness the Dauphin, and Robert Power, formerly Captain
of the 2nd Regiment of Foot. The deed is specifically stated as being
designed to make provision for D’Orsay and Lady Harriet, “then an infant
of the age of fifteen years or thereabouts.”



Early one night in December 1827, the Blessingtons, the D’Orsays and
Marianne Power arrived in Rome to find that the palace hired for their
accommodation was entirely unsuitable and insufficient. House-hunting
once again was the order of the day, the outcome being the renting of
the two principal floors of the Palazzo Negroni for six months at one
hundred guineas per month. Additional and doubtless unnecessary furniture
was hired at a further cost of twenty guineas. It is quite amusing to
hear of the domesticated Lady Blessington undertaking the transformation
of countless yards of white muslin into window curtains and to see to a
dozen or so of eiderdown pillows being recased so that the hardness of
half-stuffed sofas might be softened. Her account of the advantages of
possessing a _fourgon_ must be given in her own words, which could not be
re-written without diminishing their merit:—

“Thence comes the patent brass bed, that gives repose at night; and the
copious supply of books, which ensure amusement during the day. Thence
emerges the modern invention of easy-chairs and sofas to occupy the
smallest space when packed; _batteries de cuisine_, to enable a cook
to fulfil the arduous duties of his _métier_; and, though last, not
least, cases to contain the delicate _chapeaux_, _toques_, _bérets_; and
_bonnets_ of a Herbault, too fragile to bear the less easy motion of
leathern bandboxes crowning imperials.”

Doubtless the noble authoress found it impossible to write unadulterated
Saxon after listening through so many hours to D’Orsay’s gallant but
broken English.

At this time there were many English folk in Rome, to accommodate whose
insular fancies there were English shops, including a confectionery
establishment, which contributed to the indigestions of the British and
the entertainment of the Romans. It was the custom then for English
travellers at Rome to make a point of doing what the Romans did not do;
happily all that has been changed for the better and to-day the Britisher
abroad, and equally his cousins from America, behave themselves with
consideration and becoming modesty, always.

Here, as at Naples, D’Orsay made a large and interesting circle of
friends. Among these was to be numbered the French Ambassador, the Duc
de Laval-Montmorenci, an antique who afforded much amusement. He is
described as having been a curious mixture of opposites; simple and at
the same time acute, well-bred and clownish, ostentatious and prudent,
witty and wise—the last a very rare combination; an old-fashioned _beau_
in spite of his short memory and his deafness, his short sight and
his unfortunate stammer; a capital hand at an anecdote, good-tempered,
good-humoured. One of his quaint peculiarities was the habit of falling
asleep during a conversation; then an awakening after a few minutes’ nap
to exclaim:—“_Oui, oui, vous avez bien raison, c’est clair: je vous fais
mes compliments: c’est impossible d’être plus juste._”

“Middle Ages” Hallam was another friend of these days, when also Walter
Savage Landor was met again.

The time was passed in a round of merry makings by all save the silent

Then in May their backs were turned upon Rome, or as Lady Blessington
has it—“We leave the Eternal City—perhaps to see it _no more_. This
presentiment filled me with sadness when I this evening from the Monte
Pincio saw the golden sun sink beneath his purple clouds, his last beams
tinging with a brilliant radiance the angel on the fortress of St Angelo,
and the glorious dome of St Peter’s.”

Of all their friends the one with whom they were most loath to part was
Sir William Gell, who when bidding farewell to Lady Blessington said:
“You have been visiting our friend Drummond’s grave to-day, and if you
_ever_ come to Italy again, you will find me in mine.”

He died some eight years later, on 4th April 1836. Of his last days
Keppel Craven wrote an account to Lady Blessington:—

“He never ceased, I don’t say for an hour, but an _instant_, to have a
book open before him; and though he sometimes could not fix his eyes for
two minutes at a time on its contents, he nevertheless understood it, and
could afterwards talk of the work in a manner which proved, that while
his mental powers were awake, they were as strong as ever—more especially
his memory; but the state he was in, caused much confusion in his ideas
of time and distance, of which he was aware, and complained of.”

The first Lord Lytton wrote of Gell: “I never knew so popular or so
petted a man as Sir William Gell; every one seems to love him.”

Gell was a capital letter-writer, as the following example will suffice
to show. In April 1824, he writes to Lady Blessington:

“I did really arrive at Rome … having experienced in the way every
possible misfortune, except being overturned or carried into the
mountains. In short, I know nothing to equal my journey, except the
ninety-nine misfortunes of Pulicinella in a Neapolitan puppet-show. I set
out without my cloak in an open carriage; my only hope of getting warmer
at St Agatha was destroyed by an English family, who had got possession
of the only chimney. I had a dreadful headache, which, by-the-bye,
recollecting to have lost at your house by eating an orange, I tried
again with almost immediate effect. Next morning one grey horse fell ill
at the moment of being put to the carriage, and has continued so ever
since, so that I have had to buy another, which is so very (what they
call) good, that it is nearly as useless as the other, so that I never go
out without risking my neck. When, at length, I got to Rome in a storm
of sleet, I found a bill of an hundred and fifty dollars against me for
protecting useless lemon-trees against the frost of the winter, which,
added to the expense of the new horse and the old one have ever since
caused the horrors of a gaol to interpose themselves between me and every
enjoyment, and so much for the ugly side of the question.”

Through Loretto, Ancona, Ravenna, Ferrara, Padua, the Blessingtons and
company made their way to Venice, where they halted for several weeks,
and where once again they forgathered with Landor. Then by Verona and
Milan to Genoa, and in June 1828 they arrived in Paris.



Back again in Paris, which lay blistering under the hot summer sun.
Rooms were secured at the _Hôtel de Terrace_ in the Rue de Rivoli; noisy
quarters, and Lady Blessington was not fond of noise.

“On entering Paris,” says Lady Blessington, “I felt my impatience to
see our dear friends then redouble; and, before we had despatched
the dinner awaiting our arrival, the Duc and Duchesse de Guiche came
to us. How warm was our greeting; how many questions to be asked and
answered; how many congratulations and pleasant plans for the future to
be formed.…” Doubtless D’Orsay was again congratulated on having married
a fortune.… “The Duchesse was in radiant health and beauty, and the Duc
looking, as he always does, more _distingué_ than anyone else—the perfect
_beau-idéal_ of a nobleman. We soon quitted the _salle à manger_; for who
could eat during the joy of a first meeting with those so valued?”

The attitude of D’Orsay’s family throughout this strange affair is
amazing. Can they have really understood the situation? Did they thank
Blessington for having provided so munificently for their brother? Did
they express their gratitude to Lady Blessington for the many favours
she had shown to him? We can scarcely believe it so. But however all
these things were, the evening passed pleasantly; the windows of the
_salon_ looked out over the garden of the Tuileries, over their scented
orange-trees and formal walks.

The Comte and Comtesse d’Orsay were also in Paris, later on, and great
must have been their satisfaction at seeing their son so well settled.
Of a dinner at their house Lady Blessington—_la belle mère_ of their
son—says there was a “large family party. The only stranger was Sir
Francis Burdett. A most agreeable dinner followed by a very pleasant
evening.” Did Countess Alfred enjoy it?

The next day Lady Blessington devoted to shopping, visiting among other
high shrines of fashion Herbault’s, where the latest things in caps,
hats and turbans were tried and sentenced; then on to Mdlle. La Touche
where _canezus_ and _robes de matin_ were selected. Three hundred and
twenty francs were given for a crape hat and feathers, two hundred for a
_chapeau à fleurs_, one hundred for a _negligé de matin_, and eighty-five
for an evening cap of tulle trimmed with blonde and flowers.

The hotel was a mere stop-gap, and the Blessingtons settled down in
a house belonging to the Marquis de Lillers, which had once been the
residence of Marshal Ney; it was situated in the Rue de Bourbon, the
principal rooms giving on the Seine and commanding a view over the
Tuileries’ gardens. The sumptuous scale of the decorations is typified
by those of the bathroom, where the bath of marble was sunk in a
tessellated pavement, and over it swung an alabaster lamp hanging from
the beak of a dove, the ceiling being painted with Cupids and flowers;
the walls were panelled alternately with mirrors and allegorical groups.
Furniture, equally luxurious, was hired—dark crimson carpets with golden
borders, crimson satin curtains also bordered in gold, sofas and chairs
upholstered in crimson satin and richly gilded, gilt _consoles_, buhl
cabinets, a multitude of mirrors; a veritable orgy of gold and glitter.
But all else was surpassed by the Blessington’s _chambre à coucher_
and her dressing-room, which she found to be exquisite, at any rate,
to her taste: the silvered bedstead was supported on the backs of two
large silver swans, the recess in which it stood being lined with white
fluted silk, bordered with blue lace; pale blue curtains, lined with
white, closed in its sanctity. There was a silvered sofa, rich coffers
for jewels and for lace, a pale blue carpet, a lamp of silver … “a more
tasteful or elegant suite of apartments cannot be imagined!” For the
housing of beauty and virtue what more fitting than silver, white and
light blue? “Chastely beautiful,” so said its owner. Then, Heaven commend
us to the unchaste.

Gaiety was the order of the day, as it ever was when Lady Blessington
and D’Orsay were in command; drives in the Bois de Boulogne with the
Duchesse de Guiche; evenings at Madame Crawford’s, whom Lady Blessington
describes as gifted with “all the naïveté of a child. She possesses a
quick perception of character and a freshness of feeling rarely found
in a person of her advanced age.” Here is a truly touching family group
at a leave-taking breakfast: “It was touching to behold Madame Crawford
kissing again and again her grandchildren and great-grand-children, the
tears streaming down her cheeks, and the venerable Duc de Grammont,
scarcely less moved, embracing his son and daughter-in-law, and exhorting
the latter to take care of her health, while the dear little Ida, his
grand-daughter, not yet two years old, patted his cheek, and smiled
in his face.” Doubtless Madame Crawford was not a little proud of her
gallant D’Orsay; we wonder what opinion, if any, she formed of his bride,
and whether she congratulated her on marrying the grandson of a king?

Among other places of interest to which expeditions were made none
can have come more closely home to the heart of Lady Blessington than
D’Orsay, the fortified château of the family with which she was now so
closely connected.

Two letters written by members of the party to Landor are interesting,
not only as showing the terms of friendship between the writers and the
recipient. The first was from Blessington, dated 14th July:—

    “Oh! it is an age, my dear Landor, since I thought of having
    determined to write. My first idea was to defend _Vavaseur_,[5]
    but the book was lent to one friend or another, and always out
    of the way when the pen was in hand. My second inclination was,
    to inquire after you and yours; but I knew that you were not
    fond of corresponding, so that sensation passed away. And now
    my third is to tell you that Lady B. has taken an apartment in
    the late residence of Marshal Ney, and wishes much that some
    whim, caprice, or other impelling power, should transform you
    across the Alps, and give her the pleasure of again seeing you.
    Here we have been nearly five weeks, and, unlike Italy and its
    suns, we have no remembrance of the former, but in the rolling
    of the thunder; and when we see the latter, we espy at the
    same time the threatening clouds on the horizon. To balance or
    assist such pleasure, we have an apartment _bien décoré_ with
    _Jardin de Tuileries en face_, and our apartment being at the
    corner, we have the double advantage of all the _row_, from
    morn till night. Diligences and fiacres—coachmen cracking their
    whips, stallions neighing—carts with empty wine-barrels—all
    sorts of discordant music, and all sorts of cries, songs, and
    the jingling of bells.…”

The second letter is from D’Orsay, who dates his note 4th September, and
writes from the Hôtel Ney:—

    “J’ai reçu, mon cher M. Landor, votre lettre. Elle nous a fait
    le plus grand plaisir. Vous devriez être plus que convaincu
    que j’apprécirois particulièrement une lettre de vous, mais
    il paroit que notre intimité de Florence ne compte pour rien
    à vos yeux, si vous doutez du plaisir que vos nouvelles
    doivent produire dans notre intérieur. Sitôt que je recevrai
    les tableaux je ferai votre commission avec exactitude. Je
    desirerois bien que vous veniez à Paris, car nous avons de
    belles choses à vous montrer; surtout en fait de tableaux. A
    propos de cela, je vous envoye ci joint le portrait du Prince
    Borghése que vous trouverez j’espère ressemblant.… Nous parlons
    et pensons souvent de vous, il est assez curieux que vous soyez
    en odeur de sainteté dans cette famille, car il me semble que
    ce n’est pas la chose dont nous vous piquiez particulièrement
    d’être. Lady B. et toutes nos dames vous envoye mille amitiés,
    et moi je ne fais que renouveller l’assurance de la sincérité
    de la mienne. Votre très affectionné,


Of a visit to the opera this is a pleasant reminiscence:—“Went to the
Opera last night, where I saw the _début_ of the new _danseuse_ Taglioni.
Hers is a totally new style of dancing; graceful beyond all comparison,
wonderful lightness, an absence of all violent effort, or at least of the
appearance of it, and a modesty as new as it is delightful to witness in
her art.… The Duc de Gazes, who came into the Duchesse de Guiche’s box,
was enthusiastic in his praises of Mademoiselle Taglioni, and said hers
was the most poetical style of dancing he had even seen. Another observed
that it was indeed the poetry of motion. I would describe it as the epic
of dancing,” a not very brilliant remark for a woman of reputed wit.

Henry Greville writing in 1832 says: “Taglioni is dancing at Covent
Garden; it is impossible to conceive the perfection to which she
has brought the art. She is an animated statue; her motions are the
perfection of grace and decency, and her strength quite marvellous.” And
again in Paris, four years later, when she was still highly proper: “Her
grace and _décence_ are something that no one can imagine who has not
seen her.” The actor complains that nothing remains of his art by which
posterity can judge him; but the dancer can, at any rate, leave behind a
reputation for propriety—while on the stage.

A welcome visitor was Charles Kemble, who dined with the Blessingtons,
and after dinner read to the party his daughter’s, Fanny Kemble’s play,
_Francis the First_. “I remembered,” says Lady Blessington, “those
pleasant evenings when he used to read to us in London, hour after hour,
until the timepiece warned us to give over. I remembered, too, John
Kemble—‘the great John Kemble,’ as Lord Guildford used to call him—twice
or thrice reading to us with Sir T(homas) Lawrence; and the tones of
Charles Kemble’s voice, and the expression of his face, forcibly reminded
me of our departed friend.”

In 1829 an event befell, which probably altered the course of D’Orsay’s
career, and which may be counted as a nice stroke of irony on the part of
Fate, that past-mistress of the ironical.

The question of the repeal of the civil disabilities inflicted upon the
Irish Catholics had grown to be a burning question, and Lord Rosslyn
wrote anxiously to Paris, urging Blessington to go over to London
to support in the House of Lords the Duke of Wellington’s Catholic
Emancipation Act. On July 15th, Blessington set out for England; “his
going,” wrote his wife, “at this moment, when he is far from well, is no
little sacrifice of personal comfort; but never did he consider himself
when a duty was to be performed. I wish the question was carried, and
he safely back again.” While in town he presided at the Covent Garden
Theatrical Fund annual dinner. After an absence of only a few days he
returned to Paris, apparently in improved health, and—indulgent husband
that he was—laden with gifts for his lovely wife.

But disaster was at hand. While riding out in the heat he was seized with
apoplexy in the Champs Elysées. He lingered, speechless, until half-past
four on the following Monday morning when he breathed his last. Lady
Blessington was stunned with grief by the sudden calamity.

The remains were conveyed to Dublin, where they were interred in Saint
Thomas’ Church, Marlborough Street.

What epitaph are we to write? What character to paint of this man,
so well-beloved, yet possessing so little strength, so little
self-restraint, such a pittance of ability? Landor wrote of him to Lady

    “DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,—If I defer it any longer, I know not
    how or when I shall be able to fulfil so melancholy a duty.
    The whole of this day I have spent in that torpid depression,
    which you may feel without a great calamity, and which others
    can never feel at all. Every one that knows me, knows the
    sentiments I bore towards that disinterested, and upright,
    and kind-hearted man, than whom none was ever dearer, or more
    delightful to his friends. If to be condoled with by many, if
    to be esteemed and beloved by all whom you have admitted to
    your society is any comfort, that comfort at least is yours. I
    know how inadequate it must be at such a moment, but I know too
    that the sentiment will survive when the bitterness of sorrow
    shall have passed away.”

And again he writes to her:

    “Too well was I aware how great my pain must be in reading your
    letter. So many hopes are thrown away from us by this cruel
    and unexpected blow. I cannot part with the one of which the
    greatness and the justness of your grief almost deprives me,
    that you will recover your health and spirits. If they could
    return at once, or very soon, you would be unworthy of that
    love which the kindest and best of human beings lavished on
    you. Longer life was not necessary for him to estimate your
    affection for him, and those graces of soul which your beauty
    in its brightest day but faintly shadowed. He told me that you
    were requisite to his happiness, and that he could not live
    without you. Suppose that he had survived you, his departure in
    that case could not have been so easy as it was, unconscious of
    pain, of giving it, or of leaving it behind. I am comforted at
    the reflection that so gentle a heart received no affliction
    from the anguish and despair of those he loved.”

Five years later Lady Blessington writes to Landor:—

“I have often wished that you would note down for me your reminiscences
of your friendship, and the conversations it led to with my dear and
ever-to-be-lamented husband; he who so valued and loved you, and who was
so little understood by the common herd of mankind. We, who knew the
nobleness, the generosity, and the refined delicacy of his nature, can
render justice to his memory.…”

Amid all this sugar, it is quite refreshing to come across a little acid,
and Cyrus Redding speaks out quite plainly of Lady Blessington. He says:
“She was a fine woman; she had understood too well how to captivate the
other sex. She had won hearts, never having had a heart to return. No
one could be more bland and polished, when she pleased. She understood
from no short practice, when it was politic to be amiable, and yet no one
could be less amiable, bland and polished when her temper was roused,
and her language being then well suited to the circumstances of the
provocation, both in style and epithet.… The gentry of this country,
of all political creeds, are frequently censured for their pride and
exclusiveness; but they may sometimes be proud and exclusive to no
ill end. The higher ranks have their exceptions, as well as others,
of which Lord Blessington himself was an instance. The dissipation of
Lord Blessington’s fortune, and the reception of Lady Blessington’s
favourite, the handsome youth, D’Orsay, into Lord Blessington’s house,
ran together, it has been said, before the finish of his education. Old
Countess d’Orsay was scarcely able to do much for her son, owing to the
narrowness of her income; but no family could be more respectable than
hers. Lord Blessington was a weak-minded creature, and his after-dinner
conversations, when the wine was in, became wretchedly maudlin.”

However, exit Lord Blessington and end Act One of our tragi-comedy.



Our hero henceforth will occupy the centre of the stage, as a
right-minded hero should do, beside him the shadowy figure of his wife
gradually fading away into the background until at last quite invisible,
and that of the flamboyant personage of the widow of our hero’s dead
patron. Truly ironical; while Blessington lived and was an “obstacle”
in the way of the course of true love there had seemed to D’Orsay to
be no other way of settling his fortunes than to marry one or other of
Blessington’s daughters, he cared not which. Now that the obstacle had
been removed and the widow was free to be openly wooed and won, the path
he had chosen to pursue appeared of those ways that had been open to him
to be the most stupid. The lady who had been shackled was free; the lover
who had been free was now shackled. Fortune is a humorist and her jokes
are always at our expense, which makes it difficult for us to laugh with

Lady Blessington was clever in the choice of her physician, who
prescribed company as a cure for depression of spirits. So we read in her
ladyship’s Diary:—

“My old friends Mr and Mrs Mathews, and their clever son have arrived in
Paris, and dined here yesterday. Mr Mathews is as entertaining as ever,
and his wife as amiable and _spirituelle_. They are excellent as well as
clever people, and their society is very agreeable. Charles Mathews, the
son, is full of talent, possesses all his father’s powers of imitation,
and sings comic songs of his own composition that James Smith himself
might be proud to have written.”

Old and young Mathews delighted with their songs and recitations a party
attended among others by the Duc and Duchesse de Guiche Madame Crawford
and Count Walewski.

Later on we find Rogers and Luttrell calling upon her, and the former
chatting of Byron. Lady Blessington mentions a lampoon which the great
had written on the little poet, and which Byron had read to her and
D’Orsay one day at Genoa.

“I thought you were one of Mr Rogers’s most intimate friends, and so
all the world had reason to think, after reading your dedication of the
_Giaour_ to him.”

“Yes,” said Byron, with a laugh, “and it is our friendship that gives me
the privilege of taking a liberty with him.”

“If it is thus you evince your friendship, I should be disposed to prefer
your enmity.”

“Oh!” said Byron, “you could never excite this last sentiment in my
heart, for you neither say nor do spiteful things.”

Of Luttrell, Lady Blessington held a high opinion: “His conversation,
like a limpid stream, flows smoothly and brightly along, revealing the
depths beneath its current, now sparkling over the objects it discloses
or reflecting those by which it glides. He never talks for talking’s
sake; but his mind is so well filled that, like a fountain which when
stirred sends up from its bosom sparkling showers, his mind, when
excited, sends forth thoughts no less bright than profound, revealing
the treasures with which it is so richly stored. The conversation of Mr
Luttrell makes me think, while that of many others only amuses me.”

Luttrell, who was a natural son of Lord Carhampton, was born about 1765,
dying in 1851.

Charles Greville tells us of these two friends, they were “always
bracketed together, intimate friends, seldom apart, and always hating,
abusing, and ridiculing each other. Luttrell’s _bons mots_ and repartees
were excellent, but he was less caustic, more good-natured, but in some
respects less striking in conversation than his companion, who had more
knowledge, more imagination, and though in a different way, as much wit.”

An entry in Henry Greville’s “Diary” is amusing, bearing in mind the
above about Rogers and Byron:—

“_Thursday, October 27_ (1836).—Dined with Lady Williams, Lord Lyndhurst,
and Rogers. The latter said Lord Byron was very affected, and his
conversation rarely agreeable and a constant effort at wit. I said I
supposed he knew a great deal and had read. He answered: ‘If you believe
Moore he has read everything. I don’t believe he ever read at all!’
Rogers hated Byron, and was absurd enough to be jealous of him.”

Poets do not dwell together in unity.

Rogers even in his young days was known, by reason of his corpse-like
appearance, as the Dead Dandy; and later on a wag said to him: “Rogers,
you’re rich enough, why don’t you keep your hearse?”

This is a dinner-party that must have been interesting, Lord John
Russell, Rogers, Luttrell, Thiers, Mignet, and Poulett Thomson; Lady
Blessington says:—

“Monsieur Thiers is a very remarkable person—quick, animated, and
observant; nothing escapes him, and his remarks are indicative of a mind
of great power. I enjoy listening to his conversation, which is at once
full of originality, yet free from the slightest shade of eccentricity.

“Monsieur Mignet, who is the inseparable friend of Monsieur Thiers,
reminds me every time I see him of Byron, for there is a striking
likeness in the countenance.”

The following reads strangely, so much have our habits and manners
changed since 1829:—

“We dined at the Rocher de Cancale yesterday; and Counts S⸺ and Valeski
(Walewski) composed our party. The Rocher de Cancale is the Greenwich of
Paris; the oysters and various other kinds of fish served up _con gusto_,
attracting people to it, as the white-bait draw visitors to Greenwich.
Our dinner was excellent, and our party very agreeable.

“A _dîner de restaurant_ is pleasant from its novelty. The guests
seem less ceremonious and more gay; the absence of the elegance that
marks the dinner-table appointments in a _maison bien montée_, gives a
homeliness and heartiness to the repast; and even the attendance of two
or three ill-dressed _garçons_ hurrying about, instead of half-a-dozen
sedate servants in rich liveries, marshalled by a solemn-looking _maître
d’hôtel_ and groom of the chambers, gives a zest to the dinner often
wanted in more luxurious feasts.”

Then what shall we say to this for a sleighing-party, save that we would
that we also had been there?

“The prettiest sight imaginable was a party of our friends in sledges.…
Count A. d’Orsay’s sledge presented the form of a dragon, and the
accoutrements and horse were beautiful; the harness was of red morocco,
embroidered in gold.… The dragon of Comte A. d’Orsay looked strangely
fantastic at night. In the mouth, as well as the eyes, was a brilliant
red light; and to a tiger-skin covering, that nearly concealed the
cream-coloured horse, revealing only the white mane and tail, was
attached a double line of silver-gilt bells, the jingle of which was very
musical and cheerful.”

[Illustration: D’ORSAY (1830)


Lady Blessington, the D’Orsays, and Marianne Power remained on for some
considerable time in Paris after the death of Lord Blessington, the
Revolution of 1830 providing them with some excitement. D’Orsay was
always out and about, and though his brother-in-law de Guiche was a
well-known legitimist and he himself a Bonapartist, the crowd was quite
ready to greet the dandy with good-humoured shouts of “Vive le Comte
d’Orsay.” Your crowd of _sans-culottes_ dearly loves a dandy.

Here is a quite pretty picture by Lady Blessington:—

“_6th August._—I walked with Comte d’O(rsay) this evening into the Champs
Elysées, and great was the change effected there within the last few
days. It looks ruined and desolate, the ground cut up by the pieces of
cannon and troops as well as the mobs that have made it a thoroughfare,
and many of the trees greatly injured, if not destroyed.

“A crowd was assembled around a man who was reading aloud for their
edification a proclamation nailed to one of the trees. We paused for a
moment to hear it, when some of the persons, recognising my companion,
shouted aloud, ‘_Vive le Comte d’Orsay! Vive le Comte d’Orsay!_’ and
the cry being taken up by the mass, the reader was deserted, the fickle
multitude directing all their attention and enthusiasm to the new-comer.”

D’Orsay’s love of the fine arts induced him to make an effort to save the
portrait of the Dauphin by Lawrence which hung in the Louvre. To achieve
this he sent two of his servants, Brement, formerly a drill-sergeant in
the Guards, and Charles, an ex-Hussar; they found the picture, torn to
ribbons and the fragments strewn upon the floor.

As another example of his epistolary style we will quote this following
from D’Orsay to Landor, dated Paris, 22nd Août, 1830:—

    “Je viens de recevoir votre lettre du 10. Il falloit un aussi
    grand événement pour avoir de vos nouvelles. Le fait est que
    c’est dans ces grandes circonstances que les gens bien pensant
    se retrouvent. Vous donner des détails de tout l’héroïsme qui
    a été déployé dans ces journées mémorables, et difficiles il
    faudroit un Salluste pour rendre justice, et d’écrire cette
    plus belle page de l’histoire des temps modernes. On ne sait
    quoi admirer de plus, de la valeur dans l’action, ou de la
    modération après la victoire. Paris est tranquille comme la
    veille d’un jour de fête, it seroit injuste de dire comme
    le lendemain, car la réaction de la veille donne souvent
    une apparence _unsettled_, tandis qu’ici tout est digne et
    noble, le grand peuple sent sa puissance. Chaque homme se sent
    relevé à ses propres yeux, et croiroit manquer à sa nation en
    commettant le moindre excès. Vous, véritable philosophe, serait
    heureux de voir ce qu’a pu faire l’éducation en 40 années; voir
    ce peuple après, ou à l’époque où La Fayette le commanda pour
    la première fois, est bien différent; en 1790—l’accouchement
    laborieux de la liberté eut des suites funestes, maintenant
    l’on peut dire que la mère et l’enfant se portent bien. Notre
    présent Roi est le premier citoyen de son pays, il sent bien
    que les Rois sont faits pour les peuples, et non les peuples
    pour les Rois. Si Charles Dix eut pensé de même s’il eut été
    moins Jésuite, nous aurions encore cette Race Capétienne. Ainsi
    comme il n’y a aucun moyen curatif connu pour guérir de cette
    maladie, il est encore très heureux qu’il ait donné l’excuse
    légale pour qu’on renvoye.… La Comtesse et Lady B. ont été d’un
    courage sublime, elles se portent bien.… Adieu, pour le moment.
    Votre très affectionné,


Before leaving Paris for London we must quote from Madden a passage
which proves conclusively that not every Irishman has a saving sense of
humour. “Shortly before the death of Count d’Orsay’s mother,” he writes,
“who entertained feelings of strong attachment for Lady Blessington,
the former had spoken with great earnestness of her apprehensions for
her son, on account of his tendency to extravagance, and of her desire
that Lady Blessington would advise and counsel him, and do her utmost
to counteract those propensities which had already been attended with
embarrassments, and had occasioned her great fears for his welfare. The
promise that was given on that occasion was often alluded to by Lady
Blessington, and after her death, by Count d’Orsay.”

Such a solemn undertaking must of course be carried out by an honourable
woman, so when the Paris establishment was broken up by Lady Blessington,
Count and Countess d’Orsay followed in her train, so that they might be
near by to receive her counsel and advice.



The London in which D’Orsay was destined to spend the majority of his
remaining years, and of which he became so distinguished an ornament is
far away from modern London, farther away from us, in fact, in manners,
customs and appearance than it was from the metropolis of the England of
Queen Elizabeth. Astounding is the change that has come about since the
year 1830; the advent of steam and electricity, the stupendous increase
of wealth, the extension of education if not of culture, wrought a
revolution during the nineteenth century. The first half of that century
has rightly been described as “cruel, unlovely, but abounding in vital
force.” London was then a city very dull to look upon, very dirty, very
dismal; hackney coaches were the chief means of locomotion for those who
could not afford to keep their own chariot, and were rumbling, lumbering,
bumpy vehicles, whose drivers were dubbed jarvies. Fast young men were
beginning to sport a cabriolet or cab; omnibuses were of the future.
“Bobbies” had only come into being recently, taking the place of the
watchmen and Bow Street runners, who hitherto had taken charge of the
public morals. Debtors were treated worse than we now treat criminals;
gaming-houses were in abundance, and to their proprietors profitable
institutions. Drinking shops were open to any hour of the night, and
drinking to excess was only gradually ceasing to be a gentlemanly,
even a lordly, diversion; clubs in our modern sense of the word were
comparatively few, coffee-houses, chop-houses, and taverns occupying
their place to some extent. Restaurants and fashionable hotels were not,
and ladies dined at home when their husbands disported themselves abroad.
Prize-fighting was in its heyday; duelling was the fashion.

[Illustration: 10 ST JAMES’S SQUARE


To this London, which, however, was not so dull as it looked, D’Orsay
came in November 1830, taking up his residence with Lady Blessington and
his wife in St James’ Square. But Lady Blessington soon found that her
jointure of £2000 a year could not by any stretching meet the expenses
of such an establishment, and that a removal to cheaper quarters was
compulsory. D’Orsay and his wife took furnished lodgings in Curzon
Street, but later on joined Lady Blessington in the house in Seamore
Place, which she had rented from Lord Mountford and furnished with an
extravagance worthy of an ill-educated millionaire. As for example, let
us take a peep into the library—Lady Blessington was very literary—which
looked out upon Hyde Park; the ceiling was arched and from it hung a lamp
of splendour; there were enamelled tables crowded with costly trinkets
and knick-knacks; the walls were lined with a medley of mirrors and
book-cases, with as chief adornment Lawrence’s delightful portrait of
the mistress of the house, now in the Wallace Collection. The dining-room
was octagonal, and environed by mirrors; it was an age of mirrors and cut

Joseph Jekyll writes on June 20th, 1831: “_Nostra senora_, of
Blessington, has a house of _bijoux_ in Seymour (_sic_) Place. Le Comte
d’Orsay, an Antinous of beauty and an exquisite of Paris, married the
rich daughter of Lord Blessington, and they live here with _la belle
mère_.” And on 18th July:—“The Countess of Blessington gave a dinner
to us on Friday. Lord Wilton, General Phipps, Le Comte d’Orsay, and
myself—_Cuisine de Paris exquise_. The pretty melancholy Comtesse glided
in for a few minutes, and then left us to nurse her influenza. The Misses
Berry tell me they have dined with the Speaker and wife, who have thrown
my Blessington overboard.[6] The English at Naples called my friend the
Countess of Cursington.”

In January of the next year Jekyll was again present at a dinner in
Seamore Place, other guests being George Colman, James Smith, Rogers and
Campbell; “There was wit, fun, epigram, and raillery enough to supply
fifty county members for a twelvemonth. _Miladi_ has doffed her widow’s
weeds, and was almost in pristine beauty. Her house is a _bijou_, or, as
Sir W. Curtis’ lady said, ‘a perfect bougie.’”

At Seamore Place Lady Blessington, with D’Orsay as ally and master of
the ceremonies, gathered around her many of the most interesting and
distinguished men of the time—statesmen, soldiers, writers, painters,
musicians, actors, and many gay butterflies of fashion.

But the triple alliance was soon reduced to a dual, Lady Harriet leaving
Seamore Place, her husband and her stepmother—who doubtless had given
her much good counsel and advice—in August, 1831. It was not, however,
until February, 1838, that a formal deed of separation was executed. This
diminution of the number of the household in nowise damped the gaiety of
the two who were left behind, indeed the presence of the child-wife must
often have been a wet-blanket. As far as D’Orsay was concerned, she had
fulfilled her fate by supplying him with an income, which he speedily
overspent and frittered away. It is surely a blot upon our social economy
that such a man should have been driven to such a course in order to
secure the means of living. There ought to be a young-age pension for
dandies, and their debts ought to be paid by the State, thus leaving
them free to do their duty without harassing cares as to ways and means.
A dandy of the first water is a public benefactor and as such should be

Nathaniel Parker Willis, an American journalist and verse writer, who
wrote much that is now little read, has given accounts of various visits
paid by him to Lady Blessington and D’Orsay, to the mistress and to
her master, at Seamore Place, and, as was the case with others who
went there, apparently accepted the Count’s constant presence as quite
natural. In truth, why should he not frequent the house of his adorable
stepmother-in-law? Even when he was not chaperoned by his wife?

On the occasion of his first call Willis found Lady Blessington reclining
on a yellow satin sofa, book in hand, her bejewelled fingers blazing with
diamonds. He tells us that he judged her ladyship to be on the sunny side
of thirty, being more than ten years out in his surmise, which proves
that either the lady was extremely well preserved or the visitor too
dazzled by her beauty or her diamonds to be in full possession of his
powers of observation. But then, what man could be so ungallant as to
guess any pretty woman’s age at more than thirty?

She was dressed in blue satin, which against the yellow of the couch must
have produced an hysterically Whistlerian fantasia. Willis describes
her features as regular and her mouth as expressive of unsuspecting
good-humour; her voice now sad, now merry, and always melodious.

To them enter D’Orsay in all his splendour, to whom the fascinated Willis
was presented.

Thereon followed tea and polite conversation, the talk very naturally
turning upon America and the Americans, Lady Blessington being anxious to
learn in what esteem such writers as the young Disraeli and Bulwer were
held in the States.

“If you will come to-morrow night,” she said, “you will see Bulwer. I am
delighted that he is popular in America. He is envied and abused—for
nothing, I believe, except for the superiority of his genius, and the
brilliant literary success it commands; and knowing this, he chooses
to assume a pride which is only the armour of a sensitive mind afraid
of a wound. He is to his friends the most frank and noble creature in
the world, and open to boyishness with those whom he thinks understand
and value him. He has a brother, Henry,[7] who is also very clever in
a different vein, and is just now publishing a book on the present
condition of France.[8] Do they like the D’Israelis in America?”

Willis replied that the _Curiosities of Literature_, _Vivian Grey_ and
_Contarini Fleming_ were much appreciated.

To which Lady Blessington graciously responded:

“I am pleased at that, for I like them both. D’Israeli the elder came
here with his son the other night. It would have delighted you to see
the old man’s pride in him, and the son’s respect and affection for his
father. D’Israeli the elder lives in the country, about twenty miles from
town; seldom comes up to London, and leads a life of learned leisure,
each day hoarding up and dispensing forth treasures of literature. He
is courtly, yet urbane, and impresses one at once with confidence in
his goodness. In his manners, D’Israeli the younger is quite his own
character of ‘Vivian Grey’; full of genius and eloquence, with extreme
good-nature, and a perfect frankness of character.”

After some further desultory chat, Willis asked Lady Blessington if she
knew many Americans, to which the reply was—

“Not in London, but a great many abroad. I was with Lord Blessington
in his yacht at Naples when the American fleet was lying there … and
we were constantly on board your ships. I knew Commodore Creighton and
Captain Deacon extremely well, and liked them particularly. They were
with us frequently of an evening on board the yacht or the frigate, and
I remember very well the bands playing always ‘God save the King’ as we
went up the side. Count d’Orsay here, who spoke very little English at
the time, had a great passion for ‘Yankee Doodle,’ and it was always
played at his request.”

Thereupon D’Orsay, in his pleasant, broken English, inquired after
several of the officers, who, however, it turned out were not known to
Willis. The conversation afterward turned upon Byron, and Willis asked
Lady Blessington if she knew the Countess Guiccioli.

“Yes, very well. We were at Genoa when they were living there, but we
never saw her. It was at Rome, in 1828, that I first knew her, having
formed her acquaintance at Count Funchal’s, the Portuguese Ambassador.”

In the evening Willis availed himself of the invitation he had received,
finding Lady Blessington now in the drawing-room, with some half dozen
or so of men in attendance. Among these was James Smith, an intimate of
D’Orsay’s, in whose gaiety and _savoir-faire_ he delighted. A pleasant
story is this of later days, when Smith met the Countess Guiccioli
at Gore House. After dinner these two chatted confidentially for the
remainder of the evening, chiefly of their reminiscences of Byron, Leigh
Hunt and Shelley. D’Orsay saw Smith home to his residence in Craven
Street, and as he parted with him, asked—

“What was all that Madame Guiccioli was saying to you just now?”

“She was telling me her apartments are in the Rue de Rivoli, and that if
I visited the French capital she hoped I would not forget her address.”

“What! It took all that time to say that? Ah! Smeeth, you old humbug!
That won’t do!”

James Smith, who, with his brother Horace, was the author of the
_Rejected Addresses_, was born in 1775.[9] He was a wit in talk and in
prose as well as on paper and in verse. Here are some lines he addressed
to Lady Blessington when she moved westward to Gore House—

    “You who erst, in festive legions,
      Sought in _May Fair_, _Seamore_ Place,
    Henceforth in more westward regions
      Seek its ornament and grace.

    “Would you _see more_ taste and splendour,
      Mark the notice I rehearse—
    Now at Kensington attend her—
      Farther on, you _may fare_ worse.”

Gout and rheumatism afflicted him sorely in his latter years, though
his face retained its hale good looks. At Seamore Place—and on similar
occasions—he was compelled to move about with the aid of a crutch, or
in a wheel-chair, which he could manœuvre himself, his feet sometimes
encased in india-rubber shoes. Despite his infirmities his smile was
always bright and his tongue ready with a witticism.

When Jekyll asked him why he had never married, the response came in

    “Should I seek Hymen’s tie?
            As a poet I die,
    Ye Benedicts mourn my distresses.
            For what little fame
            Is annexed to my name,
    Is derived from _Rejected Addresses_.”

But we must return to the drawing-room in Seamore Place.

On the other side of the hostess, busily discussing a speech of Dan
O’Connell, stood a dapper little man, rather languid in appearance, but
with winning, prepossessing manners, and a playful, ready tongue; Henry
Bulwer. There were others, such as a German prince and a French duke and
a famous traveller. And—there was D’Orsay, a host in himself in both
senses of the word, the best-looking, best-dressed, most fortunate man in
the room; yet despite it all—there he sat in a careless attitude upon an

It was nearly twelve o’clock, the witching hour, before Mr Lytton Bulwer
(“Pelham”) was announced, who ran gaily up to his hostess, and was
greeted with a cordial chorus of “How d’ye, Bulwer?” Gay, quick, partly
satirical, his conversation was fresh and buoyant. A dandy, too!

Toward three o’clock i’ the morn James Smith made a move and Willis his

In June 1834, Willis dined at Seamore Place, the hour appointed being the
then unusually late one of eight o’clock. Again the company, who were
awaiting the arrival of Tom Moore, was of mingled nationalities—a Russian
count, an Italian banker, an English peer, Willis an American, and for
host and hostess, a French count and an Irish peeress. Lady Blessington
took the lead—so says Willis, and he should know for he was there, lucky
dog—in the war of witty words that waged round the dinner-table, and we
may be sure that D’Orsay was not among the hindmost.

The talk was turned by Moore upon duelling—

“They may say what they will of duelling; it is the great preserver of
the decencies of society. The old school, which made a man responsible
for his words, was the better. I must confess I think so.” He then told
an amusing story of an Irishman—of all men on earth!—who “refused a
challenge on account of the illness of his daughter,” and one of the
Dublin wits made a good epigram on the two—

    “Some men, with a horror of slaughter,
      Improve on the Scripture command;
    And ‘honour their’—wife and their daughter—
      ‘That their days may be long in the land.’”

The “two” being the gentleman above referred to, and O’Connell, who had
pleaded his wife’s illness as an excuse upon a similar occasion.

“The great period of Ireland’s glory,” continued Moore, “was between ’82
and ’98, and it was a time when a man almost lived with a pistol in his
hand. Grattan’s dying advice to his son was: ‘Be always ready with the
pistol!’ He himself never hesitated a minute.”

This we must take as a mere spark from the coruscations of brilliancy
that fell from the lips of the beautiful hostess and her clever guests,
from whom she had the art of drawing their best.

Coffee was served in the drawing-room. Moore was persuaded to sing.
Singing always to his own accompaniment and in a fashion that more nearly
approached to recitation than to ordinary singing, Moore was possessed
of peculiar gifts in the arousing of the emotions of his hearers, and
accounted any performance a failure that did not receive the award
of tears. On this occasion, after two or three songs chosen by Lady
Blessington, his fingers wandered apparently aimlessly over the keys for
a while, and then with poignant pathos he sang—

    “When first I met thee, warm and young,
      There shone such truth about thee,
    And on thy lip such promise hung,
      I did not dare to doubt thee.
    I saw thee change, yet still relied,
      Still clung with hope the fonder,
    And thought, though false to all beside,
      From me thou could’st not wander.
    But go, deceiver! go—
      The heart, whose hopes could make it
    Trust one so false, so low,
      Deserves that thou should’st break it.”

Then when the last note had died away, he said “Good-night” to his
hostess, and before the silence was otherwise broken—was gone.

Dizzy was party to a famous duel which did not come off, consequent
on fiery language used by O’Connell, who courteously rated him thus:
“He is the most degraded of his species and his kind, and England is
degraded in tolerating and having on the face of her society a miscreant
of his abominable, foul and atrocious nature. His name shows that he
is by descent a Jew. They were once the chosen people of God. There
were miscreants amongst them, however, also, and it must certainly have
been from one of these that Disraeli descended. He possesses just the
qualities of the impenitent thief that died upon the cross, whose name I
verily believe must have been Disraeli.”

Dizzy put himself in D’Orsay’s hands, but the latter thought that it
would scarcely be becoming for a foreigner to be mixed up in a political
duel, though he consented to “stage-manage” the affair, which never came
off, owing to O’Connell’s oath never again to fight a duel.

D’Orsay was exceedingly ingenious in drawing out the peculiarities of
any eccentric with whom he came in contact, among his principal butts
being M. Julien le Jeune de Paris, as he dubbed himself; he had played
his small part in the French Revolution and had been employed by
Robespierre. This queer old gentleman had perpetrated a considerable
quantity of fearful poetry, portions of which it was his delight to
recite. These effusions he called “_Mes Chagrins_,” and carried about
with him written out upon sheets of foolscap, which peeped out modestly
from the breast-pocket of his coat. It was D’Orsay’s delight when M.
Julien visited Seamore Place to induce him to recite a “_Chagrin_,” the
doing of which reduced the old man to tears of sorrow and the listeners
to tears of laughter. One evening a large party was assembled, among whom
were M. Julien, James Smith, Madden, and Dr Quin, a physician whom young
Mathews describes as “The ever genial Dr Quin … inexhaustible flow of fun
and good-humour.” D’Orsay gravely begged Julien to oblige the company,
and overcame his assumed reluctance, by the appeal—

“N’est ce pas Madden vous n’avez jamais entendu les Chagrins politiques
de notre cher ami, Monsieur Julien?”

“Jamais,” Madden stammered out, stifling a laugh.

“Allons, mon ami,” D’Orsay continued, turning again to his victim, “ce
pauvre Madden a bien besoin d’entendre vos Chagrins politiques—il a les
siens aussi—il a souffert—lui—il a des sympathies pour les blessés, il
faut lui donner ce triste plaisir—n’est ce pas, Madden?”

“Oui,” gurgled Madden.

Then the funereal fun began. Julien planted himself at the upper end
of the room, near to a table upon which some wax candles were burning,
and drew forth his “_Chagrins_” from his breast. Lady Blessington seated
herself at his left hand, gazing solicitously into his face; at his other
hand stood D’Orsay, ever and anon pressing his handkerchief to his eyes,
and turning at one of the saddest moments to Madden, and whispering,
“Pleurez donc!”

Quin, looking amazingly youthful, made his appearance during a
particularly melting “_Chagrin_,” wherein the author, supposed to be in
chase of capricious happiness, exclaimed:—

    “Le bonheur! le voilà!
    Ici! Ici! La! La!
    En haut, en bas! En bas!”

The doctor entered into the spirit of the affair, and whenever D’Orsay
acclaimed any passage, would chime in with “Magnifique!” “Superbe!”
“Vraiment beau!”

The recital ended as usual in a flood of tears.

But D’Orsay was not yet contented, but must be further plaguing the
tearful old gentleman. He whispered mysteriously to him, drawing his
attention to Quin and James Smith.

“Ah! Que c’est touchant!” exclaimed Julien. “Ah! mon Dieu! Ce tendre
amour filial comme c’est beau! comme c’est touchant!”

Then D’Orsay went up to Quin, and to his amazement said—

“Allez, mon ami, embrassez votre père! Embrassez le, mon pauvre enfant,”
then added, pointing to Smith, who was holding out his arms, “C’est
toujours comme ça, toujours comme ça, ce pauvre garçon—avant le monde il
a honte d’embrasser son père.”

Quin took the cue; jumped from his chair, and flung himself violently
in Smith’s arms, nearly upsetting the gouty old gentleman. Locked in
each other’s arms, they exclaimed—“Oh, fortunate meeting! Oh, happy
reconciliation! Oh, fond father! Oh, affectionate son!” while D’Orsay
stood beside them overwhelmed with emotion, Julien equally and really
affected, sobbing, gasping, and exclaiming—

“Ah! Mon Dieu! Que c’est touchant! Pauvre jeune homme! Pauvre père!”

[Illustration: SEAMORE PLACE


Lord William Pitt Lennox first met Louis Napoleon at Seamore Place, also
the Countess Guiccioli:—

“My first acquaintance with Napoleon,” he says, “was at an evening
party at the Countess of Blessington’s, in Seymour Place. On arriving
there my attention was attracted to two individuals, whom I had never
previously seen. The one was a lady, who appeared to have numbered nearly
forty years, with the most luxuriant gold-coloured hair, blue eyes and
fresh complexion, that I ever saw. The other a gentleman, who, from the
deference paid him, was evidently a distinguished foreigner. Before I
had time to ascertain the name of the latter, a friend remarked: ‘How
handsome the Guiccioli is looking this evening!’

“‘Splendidly,’ I replied, as the idea flashed across my mind that the
_incognita_ must be Byron’s ‘fair-haired daughter of Italia,’ Teresa
Gamba, Countess Guiccioli. ‘Do you know Madame Guiccioli?’ I asked.

“‘Yes,’ responded my companion; ‘I met her at Venice, and shall be
delighted to present you.…’”

“While conversing with the Guiccioli, Count d’Orsay approached us,
and, apologising for his intrusion, said that Prince Louis Napoleon
was anxious to be introduced to me, with a view to thanking me for my
kind advice. Accordingly, I took leave of madame, but not before I had
received her permission to call upon her at Sablonière’s Hotel, in what
the ordinary frequenters of Leicester Square call ‘_le plus beau quartier
de Londres_.’”

The advice referred to had come in a round-about way to Louis Napoleon,
and had reference to the projected duel with Léon.[10]



What manner of man was D’Orsay at this period of his life, when he was
treading so gaily the primrose way of pleasure as a man about London
town? What were his claims to the reputation he gained as a dandy and a
wit? How did he appear to his contemporaries?

That he was generally liked and by many looked on with something
approaching to affection there is ample evidence to prove. Was ever a
social sinner so beloved? Was dandy ever so trusted?

He was strikingly handsome in face and figure, of that his portraits
assure us. One enthusiast tells us: “He was incomparably the handsomest
man of his time … uniting to a figure scarcely inferior in the perfection
of its form to that of Apollo, a head and face that blended the grace
and dignity of the Antinous with the beaming intellect of the younger
Bacchus, and the almost feminine softness and beauty of the Ganymede.”

He was an adept in the mysteries of the toilet, as careful of his
complexion as a professional _belle_; revelling in perfumed baths;
equipped with an enormous dressing-case fitted in gold, as became the
prince of dandies, which he carried everywhere, though it took two men to
lift it.

As to clothes, he led the fashion by the nose, and led it whithersoever
he wished. He indulged in extravagances, which he knew his reputation
and his figure could carry off, and then laughed to see his satellites
and toadies making themselves ridiculous by adopting them. His tailor,
Herr Stultz, is reported to have proudly described himself as “Tailor to
M. le Comte d’Orsay,” full well knowing that the recommendation of mere
royalty could carry no such weight. Where D’Orsay led the way all men of
fashion must follow. Indeed, it was said that D’Orsay was fully aware of
the value of his patronage, and that he expected his tailors to express
substantial gratitude for it. When clothes arrived at Seamore Place,
in the most mysterious manner banknotes had found their way into their
pockets. Once when this accident had not happened, D’Orsay bade his valet
return the garment with the message that “the lining of the pockets had
been forgotten.”

The ordinary man, as regards his costume, takes care about the main
points and permits the details to take care of themselves. Not so
your true dandy. Thus we find D’Orsay writing to Banker Moritz
Feist at Frankfort: “Will you send me a dozen pair of gloves colour
‘feuille-morte,’ such as they have on sale at the Tyrolean glove shops?
They ought to fit your hand (that’s a compliment!), and (this is a fib!)
I’ll send along the cash.”

D’Orsay was sometimes quite unkind when friends spoke to him on the
subject of some new garment he was sporting.

Gronow meeting D’Orsay one day arrayed in a vest of supreme originality,
exclaimed: “My dear Count, you really must give me that waistcoat.”

“Wiz pleasure, Nogrow,”—the Count’s comical misrendering of Gronow’s
name—“but what shall you do wiz him? Aha! he shall make you an

What the Count could carry off would have extinguished the
less-distinguished Gronow.

In Hyde Park, at the happy hour when all “the world” assembled there,
some driving, some riding, some strolling, some leaning on the railings
and quizzing the passers-by, D’Orsay was to be seen in all his glory. An
afternoon lounge in the Park was as delightful then as it is nowadays.

To quote Patmore:—

“See! what is this vision of the age of chivalry, that comes careering
towards us on horseback, in the form of a stately cavalier, than whom
nothing has been witnessed in modern times more noble in air and bearing,
more splendid in person, more _distingué_ in dress, more consummate in
equestrian skill, more radiant in intellectual expression, and altogether
more worthy and fitting to represent one of those knights of the olden
time, who warred for truth and beauty, beneath the banner of Cœur de
Lion. It is Count D’Orsay.”

This language is as dazzling as the vision itself must have been!

Writing of various fashions in horsemanship, Sidney says:—

“As late as 1835 it was the fashion for the swells or dandies of the
period—Count d’Orsay, the Earl of Chesterfield, and their imitators—to
tittup along the streets and in the Park with their toes just touching
the stirrups, which hung three inches lower than in the hunting-field.”

Abraham Hayward rode in the Park with D’Orsay in March 1838, “to the
admiration of all beholders, for every eye is sure to be fixed upon him,
and the whole world was out, so that I began to tremble for my character.”

Here is another contemporary account, which deals rather with the outer
habit than with knight-like man:—

“From the colour and tie of the kerchief which adorned his neck, to the
spurs ornamenting the heels of his patent boots, he was the original for
countless copyists, particularly and collectively. The hue and cut of his
many faultless coats, the turn of his closely-fitting inexpressibles, the
shade of his gloves, the knot of his scarf, were studied by the motley
multitude with greater interest and avidity than objects more profitable
and worthy of their regard, perchance, could possibly hope to obtain.
Nor did the beard that flourished luxuriantly upon the delicate and
nicely-chiselled features of the Marquis (Count) escape the universal
imitation. Those who could not cultivate their scanty crops into the
desirable arrangement, had recourse to art and stratagem to supply the
natural deficiency.”

D’Orsay was indeed the Prince of the Dandies, it might be more truthfully
said, the Tyrant. What he did and wore, they must do and wear; the cut of
his coat and the cut of his hair, the arrangement of his tie—the Prince
could do no wrong. Of this sincere form of flattery a comical tale is
told. Riding back to town one day, as usual capitally mounted, D’Orsay
was overtaken by a downpour of rain. The groom, who usually carried an
overcoat for his master, had this day forgotten to bring it. D’Orsay was
equal to this as to most occasions. He spied a sailor who wore a long,
heavy waistcoat which kept him snug.

“Hullo, friend,” called out D’Orsay, pulling up, “would you like to go
into that inn and drink to my health until the rain’s over?”

The sailor was naturally enough somewhat surprised, and asked D’Orsay why
he was chaffing him.

“I’m not,” said D’Orsay, dismounting and going into the inn, followed by
the sailor, “but I want your vest, sell it me.”

He took out and offered the poor devil ten guineas, assuring him at the
same time that he “could buy another after the rain was over.”

D’Orsay put on the vest over his coat, buttoned it from top to bottom,
remounted and rode on to town.

The rain passed over, the sun came out again, and as it was the proper
hour to show himself in Hyde Park, D’Orsay showed himself.

“How original! How charming! How delicious!” cried the elegant dandies,
astonished by D’Orsay’s new garment, “only a D’Orsay could have thought
of such a creation!”

The next day dandies similarly enveloped were “the thing,” and thus the
paletot was invented.

An anecdote is told, with what authority or want of it we do not know, by
the Comtesse de Basanville, bearing upon D’Orsay’s good nature. One day
out riding he stopped at an inn, took out a cigar, and was going to call
out for a light, when a lad who came out of the tavern, offered him the
match with which he had been going to light his own pipe. D’Orsay, who
was struck by the boy’s politeness and good looks, began to chat with him.

“From what country do you come?”

“From Wales, my lord.”

“And you don’t mind leaving your mountains for the smoky streets of

“I’d go back without minding at all,” answered the boy, “but poor folk
can’t do what they want, and God knows when I’ll be going back to my old
mother who’s crying and waiting for me.”

“You’re ambitious then?”

“I want to get bread. I’m young and strong, and work’s better paid in
London than at home. That’s why I’ve come.”

“Well,” said D’Orsay, “I’d like to help you make your fortune. Here’s a
guinea for your match. To-morrow, come to Hyde Park when the promenade is
full; bring with you a box of matches, and when you see me with a lot of
people round me, come up and offer me your ware.”

Naturally enough the boy turned up at the right hour and the right place.

“Who’ll buy my matches,” he called out.

“Aha! It’s you,” said D’Orsay. “Give me one quick to light my cigar.”

Another guinea—and the Count said carelessly to those grouped around him—

“Just imagine, that I couldn’t smoke a cigar which is not lit with one
of this boy’s matches—others seem to me horrible.”

No sooner hinted than done; off went the matches and down came the
guineas, and addresses even were given for delivery of a further supply.

Even if this story be not true, it is characteristic.

One other story of his power.

A certain peer quarrelled violently with him; result, a duel. It was
pointed out to the unfortunate gentleman that if D’Orsay fought with
him it would become the fashion to do so! When D’Orsay heard of his
adversary’s urgent reason for wishing not to meet him, he agreed readily
that it was reasonable, and the affair was arranged. D’Orsay laughingly
added: “It’s lucky I’m a Frenchman and don’t suffer from the dumps. If I
cut my throat, to-morrow there’d be three hundred suicides in London, and
for a time at any rate the race of dandies would disappear.”

By Greville we are informed that D’Orsay was “tolerably well-informed,”
which surely must be the judgment of jealousy.

In manner and habits D’Orsay grew to be thoroughly English, no small
feat, while retaining all the vivacity, _joie de vivre_, and “little
arts” of the Frenchman. But he does not seem ever to have acquired a
perfect English accent; Willis in 1835 says of him, he “still speaks the
language with a very slight accent, but with a choice of words that shows
him to be a man of uncommon tact and elegance of mind.” The language and
the waistcoats of those dandy days were alike flowery.

It is difficult to decide, the evidence being scanty, whether or not
D’Orsay was a wit of eminence, or a mere humorist. Chorley the musical
critic, or rather the critic of music, said that his wit “was more quaint
than anything I have heard from Frenchmen (there are touches of like
quality in Rabelais), more airy than the brightest London wit of my time,
those of Sydney Smith and Mr Fonblanque not excepted.” It was a kindly
wit, too, which counts for grace. It is not unlikely that the broken
English which he knew well how to use to the best advantage helped to add
a sense of comicality to remarks otherwise not particularly amusing; just
as Lamb found his stammer of assistance.

A little wit carried off with a radiant manner goes a long way, and we
are inclined to believe that D’Orsay on account of his good-humoured
chaff and laughing impertinences gained a reputation for a higher wit
than he really possessed. True wit raises only a smile, sometimes a
rather wry one; humour forces us to break out into laughter such as
apparently usually accompanied D’Orsay’s sallies. The following is
preserved for us by Gronow, who held that D’Orsay’s conversation was
original and amusing, but “more humour and _à propos_ than actual wit.”
Tom Raikes, whose face was badly marked by small-pox, for some reason or
other, wrote D’Orsay an anonymous letter, and sealed it, using something
like the top of a thimble for the purpose. D’Orsay found out who was the
writer of the epistle, and accosted him with—“Ha! ha! my good Raikes, the
next time you write an anonymous letter, you must not seal it with your
nose!”—looking at that pock-pitted organ. Which is more facetious than

Here is another story of a somewhat similar character, kindly provided me
by Mr Charles Brookfield:—“My father once met D’Orsay at breakfast. After
the meal was over and the company were lounging about the fireplace,
a singularly tactless gentleman of the name of Powell crept up behind
the Count, and twitching suddenly a hair out of the back of his head
exclaimed: ‘Excuse me, Count, one solitary white hair!’ D’Orsay contrived
to conceal his annoyance, but bided his time. Very soon he found his
chance and approaching Mr Powell he deliberately plucked a hair from his
head, exclaiming, ‘Parrdon, Pow-ail, one solitary _black_ ’air.’”

Gronow also tells this. “Lord Allen, none the better for drink, was
indulging in some rough rather than ready chaff at D’Orsay’s expense.
When John Bush came in, d’Orsay greeted him cordially, exclaiming:
‘_Voilà la différence entre une bonne bouche et une mauvaise haleine_.’”

D’Orsay, Lord William Pitt Lennox and “King” Allen were invited to dinner
at the house of a Jewish millionaire, and the first-named promised to
call for the other two.

“We shall be late,” grumbled Allen. “You’re never in time, D’Orsay.”

“You shall see,” answered D’Orsay, unruffled, and drove off at a fine

Even though they arrived in time Allen was not appeased, and grumbled at
everything and everybody, and the cup of his wrath hopelessly overflowed
when he overheard one of the servants saying to another:

“The gents are come.”

“Gents,” snorted Allen. “Gents! What a wretched low fellow! It’s worthy
of a public-house!”

“I beg your pardon, Allen, it is quite correct. The man is a Jew. He
means to say the Gentiles have arrived. Gent is the short for Gentile!”

Landor writes in June 1840: “I sat at dinner (at Gore House) by Charles
Forester, Lady Chesterfield’s brother. In the last hunting season Lord
Chesterfield, wanting to address a letter to him, and not knowing
exactly where to find him, gave it to D’Orsay to direct it. He directed
it—Charles Forester, one field before the hounds, Melton Mowbray. Lord
Alvanley took it, and (he himself told me) gave it to him on the very
spot.” Landor goes on to speak of meeting a lady who accosted him with:
“Sure, Landor, it is a beautiful book, your _Periwinkle and Asparagus_!”

But surely the most delightful thing D’Orsay ever said was on the
occasion of a visit of him to Lady Blessington’s publishers, whom he
rated in high language.

“Count d’Orsay,” said a solemn personage in a high, white neckcloth,
“I would sooner lose Lady Blessington’s patronage than submit to such
personal abuse.”

“There is nothing personal,” retorted D’Orsay, suavely. “If you are
Otley, then damn Saunders; if you are Saunders, then damn Otley.”

Edward Barrington de Fonblanque, nephew of Albany, records that D’Orsay
was a capital _raconteur_, with an inexhaustible stock of stories, which
he retailed “in a manner irresistibly droll.” One of these anecdotes ran

Méhémet Ali asked of a Frenchman what was a republic.

The reply was—

“Si l’Egypte était une république, vous seriez le peuple et le peuple
serait le Pacha.”

Méhémet responded that he could not summon up “aucun goût, aucune
sympathie, pour une république.”

Madden says: “A mere report would be in vain, of the _bons mots_ he
uttered, without a faithful representation of his quiet, imperturbable
manner—his arch look, the command of varied emphasis in his utterance,
the anticipatory indications of coming drollery in the expression of his
countenance—the power of making his _entourage_ enter into his thoughts,
and his success in prefacing his _jeux d’esprit_ by significant glances
and gestures, suggestive of ridiculous ideas.”

To turn to another essential of the equipment of a complete dandy,
D’Orsay was an accomplished _gourmet_. This gift must have added greatly
to his usefulness in Lady Blessington’s establishment, where doubtless
he was master of the _menus_. Other folk also availed themselves of his
skill in this direction.

We quote from that staid depository of learning, _The Quarterly Review_,
from an article published in 1835 and written by Abraham Hayward:—

“It seems allowed on all hands that a first-rate dinner in England is
out of all comparison better than a dinner of the same class in any
other country; for we get the best cooks, as we get the best singers and
dancers, by bidding highest for them, and we have cultivated certain
national dishes to a point which makes them the envy of the world.
In proof of this bold assertion, which is backed, moreover, by the
unqualified admission of Ude, we request attention to the _menu_ of the
dinner given in May last to Lord Chesterfield, on his quitting the office
of Master of the Buckhounds, at the Clarendon. The party consisted of
thirty; the price was six guineas a head; and the dinner was ordered by
Comte d’Orsay, who stands without a rival amongst connoisseurs in this
department of art:—


    “‘_Potages._—Printanier: à la reine: _turtle_ (_two tureens_).

    “‘Poissons.—Turbot (_lobster and Dutch sauces_): saumon à la
    Tartare: rougets à la cardinal: friture de morue: _white-bait_.

    “‘Relévés.—Filet de bœuf à la Napolitaine: dindon à la
    chipolate: timballe de macaroni: _haunch of venison_.

    “‘Entrées.—Croquettes de volaille: petits pâtés aux huîtres:
    côtelettes d’agneau: purée de champignons: côtelettes d’agneau
    aux pointes d’asperges: fricandeau de veau à l’oseille: ris de
    veau piqué aux tomates: côtelettes de pigeons à la Dusselle:
    chartreuse de légumes aux faisans: filets de cannetons à la
    Bigarrade: boudins à la Richelieu: sauté de volaille aux
    truffes: pâté de mouton monté.

    “‘Coté.—Bœuf rôti: jambon: salade.


    “‘_Rots._—Chapons, and quails, turkey poults, _green goose_.

    “‘Entremets.—Asperges: haricots à la Française: mayonnaise
    d’homard: gelée Macédoine: aspic d’œufs de pluvier: Charlotte
    Russe: gelée au Marasquin: crême marbre: corbeille de
    pâtisserie: vol-au-vent de rhubarb: tourte d’abricots:
    corbeille de meringues: _dressed crab_: salade à la
    gélantine.—Champignons aux fines herbes.

    “‘Relévés.—Soufflée à la vanille: Nesselrode pudding: Adelaide
    sandwiches: fondus. Pièces montées, etc., etc.’

“The reader will not fail to observe how well the English dishes—turtle,
white-bait, and venison—relieve the French in this dinner; and what a
breadth, depth, solidity, and dignity they add to it. Green goose, also,
may rank as English, the goose being held in little honour, with the
exception of its liver, by the French; but we think Comte d’Orsay did
quite right in inserting it.… The moderation of the price must strike

The Clarendon Hotel was situated in Bond Street and Albemarle Street,
and with Mivart’s in Brook Street shared the reputation of being the
best hotel in town, holding the premier place for dining in luxury and

In the later Gore House days D’Orsay must have been sorely vexed,
though he showed it not openly, at a mishap at a dinner given by Lady
Blessington and himself. It is best told in the words of one who was

“I well remember a dinner at Lady Blessington’s, when an event occurred
that proved how ready the _Cupidon déchainé_, as Byron called him, was
to extricate himself from any difficulty. The party consisted of ten,
and out of them there were about six who enjoyed what is called a glass
of wine, meaning a bottle. Before dinner the Count had alluded to some
splendid Clicquot champagne and claret of celebrated vintage. While we
were waiting to sit down, D’Orsay was more than once called out of the
room, and a quick-sighted individual hinted to me that he feared some
unpleasant visitors of the dun family were importunate for some ‘small
account.’ Still, there was nothing on the light-hearted Frenchman’s
face to show that he was at all put out. Dinner was announced, and all
promised to go well, as the soup and the fish were unexceptionable,
when my quick-sighted friend, who was a great _gourmet_, remarked that
he saw no champagne. ‘Perhaps,’ I replied, _sotto voce_, ‘it is being
kept in ice outside.’ The sherry was handed round, and repeated looks
passed between the hostess and the Count, and between the same and the
head servant. The _entrées_ were handed round, and a thirsty soul,
with rather bad tact, for he was too gentlemanlike to be deficient in
taste, asked in an undertone for a glass of champagne. The servant looked
confused; D’Orsay saw it, and exclaimed aloud: ‘No champagne to-day;
my Lady and I have a treat for you—a royal treat. You know that the
Queen has lately patronised what is called the Balmoral brose, and here
is some.’ At this moment one of the servants entered with a large jug
containing this Scotch delicacy, which, of course, following the example
of our hostess, we all declared to be excellent. ‘Far better than wine,’
said the late Lord Pembroke, a sentiment, I need scarcely say, in which
the rest did not agree. Balmoral brose did duty for champagne and claret,
and the only wine upon that memorable occasion was sherry. Whether
the butler was absent without leave, or the key of the cellar lost or
mislaid, or, as was hinted by my neighbour at dinner, the wine merchant
had been seized with a sudden fit of hard-heartedness, I know not. All I
do know is, that a mixture of Highland whisky and honey was substituted
for the foaming grape of eastern France.”

“Foaming grape” is good! Not good, however, is the taste left by this
anecdote; a party of well-to-do men dining with D’Orsay and Lady
Blessington, and cracking jokes behind their backs at their impecuniosity.

D’Orsay was once dining with his brother dandy Disraeli, and was grieved
by the undoubted fact that the dishes were served up distinctly cool.
But the climax was reached when tepid ices were brought forward.

“Thank Heaven!” exclaimed D’Orsay, “at last we have got something hot!”

As a matter of course the circumstances in which he was so ostentatiously
living and his general reputation kept D’Orsay outside the houses of
those who did not open their doors to everybody, though most male folk
were pleased enough to visit him and Lady Blessington at Seamore Place,
where of womankind, however, none except relatives and exotics were to be
met with. But even a dandy must find occasionally a crumpled rose-leaf
in his bed. But what counted this exclusion against the having been
spoken of by young Ben Dizzy as “the most delightful of men and best of
friends,” and by Victor Prévost, Viscount d’Arlincourt, as “_le roi de la
grâce et du goût_”?

It took much to disturb D’Orsay’s serenity and peace of mind; he was one
of those blessed beings, whom all we poor miserable sinners must envy,
who did not own to a conscience. Certainly the being head over ears
in debt did not cause him a moment’s anxiety. He did not realise that
money had any value; guineas to him were simply counters of which it was
convenient to have a sufficient supply wherewith to pay gambling debts
and to discharge the incidental ready-money expenditure of each day. As
for other expenses, were not tradesmen honoured by his custom, were they
not a race of slaves ordained to supply the necessities of noble men such
as D’Orsay, was it not a scandal that they should dare to ask him to
pay his bills? What pleasure is there in the bills we pay? D’Orsay never
denied himself anything which he could obtain for love or by owing money.
It has even been said of him—and what will not little men say of even the
greatest?—that he was “unscrupulous and indelicate about money matters.”
How poor-spirited the creature who could ask such a man as D’Orsay to
pay back the money he had lent him or to render their due to the tailors
and such like whom he had honoured with his patronage! The spirit of a
D’Orsay cannot be appreciated rightly save by one of kindred genius. Who
that was worthy to be his friend would not feel honoured by a request
from him for a loan, and injured by even a hint at repayment? Of what
value is a rich friend if he will not be your banker?

D’Orsay’s finances from now onward were in a state of hopeless chaos,
from which the efforts of his friends signally failed to extricate him.
Which failure, however, in the long run cannot have made any difference;
to have hauled him out of his ocean of debt would only have landed him
for a brief space upon dry land, whereon he would have gasped like a fish
out of water; he was a born debtor. His marriage had replenished, or
rather filled, his exchequer; then he proceeded with skill and rapidity
to empty it. Why should not a colourless wife contribute to the support
of a resplendent husband? Yet, marvellous, almost incredible, there were
carping and jealous spirits who boggled over this and other transactions
of Count d’Orsay.

As for instance Patmore, commenting on D’Orsay’s social difficulties,

“And yet it was in England, that Count d’Orsay while a mere boy, made
the fatal mistake of marrying one beautiful woman, while he was, without
daring to confess it even to himself, madly in love with another,
still more beautiful, whom he could not marry—because, I say, under
these circumstances, and discovering his fatal error when too late,
he separated himself from his wife almost at the church door, he was,
during the greatest part of his social career in England, cut off from
the advantages of the more fastidious portion of female society, by the
indignant fiat of its heads and leaders.”

There are quite a wonderful number of blunders in the above meandering

True as it was that he was cut by “the more fastidious portion of female
society,” D’Orsay found consolation, sympathy and understanding—doubtless
also advice and counsel—in the comradeship of Lady Blessington—and
others. Grantley Berkeley tells us that D’Orsay “was as fickle as a
French lover might be expected to be to a woman some years his senior.”
In which sneer there is a smack of insular envy. On the other hand
Dickens, the exponent of the middle-class conscience, wrote of him as
one “whose gentle heart even a world of fashion left unspoiled!” How can
history be written with any approach to truth when contemporary evidence
differs so widely? Was D’Orsay a saint or a sinner? Who dare say?

Society gossiped evilly about him, as it will do about anyone and
everyone, telling tales that did not redound to his credit. The Duchesse
de Dino retails this, under date February 20th, 1834:—

“A new and very ugly story is afloat concerning Count Alfred d’Orsay,
which is as follows: Sir Willoughby Cotton, writing from Brighton at the
same time to Count d’Orsay and to Lady Fitzroy Somerset, cross-directed
the letters so that M. d’Orsay on opening the letter which he received,
instead of seeing the mistake and stopping at the first line, which ran
‘Dear Lady Fitzroy,’ read it through and found, among other Brighton
gossip, some pleasantries about Lady Tullemore and one of her lovers, and
a sharp saying about himself. What did he do but go to the club, read
out the letter before every one, and finally put it under cover and send
it to Lord Tullemore! The result very nearly was a crop of duels. Lady
Tullemore is very ill, and the guilty lover has fled to Paris. Friends
intervened, however, and the thing was hushed up for the sake of the
ladies, but M. d’Orsay cut (and cuts) an odious figure.”

Such a story disgraces those who tell it, not him of whom it is told.
D’Orsay guilty of hurting a woman’s reputation, directly or indirectly?
The idea is absurd! Of a man too who was a philanthropist and one of the
founders of the Société de Bienfaisance in London!



What have been the causes of the decline and fall in London of the
_salon_ as a social and sociable institution? It is a difficult question
to answer. Our hostesses are as lovely, as charming, as cultured and as
hospitable to-day as ever they were; our men as gallant and as fond of
feminine society; where then lurked the seeds of decay?

A successful _salon_ depended upon the brilliancy of the conversation
of those who frequented it; a _salon_ without wit would be as a pond
without water, or a sky at night empty of stars. Conversation is a lost
art. Talk we have in superabundance, also argument. But the light give
and take, the prompt wit, the ready repartee, which form the mainstay
of a conversation, are now all so rare that it would be impossible to
gather together anything like a company of true masters and mistresses of
conversation. The finest conversation to-day is heard among those who do
not frequent the drawing-rooms of the leaders of fashion. Moreover, in
those bygone days men of fashion were expected to be also men of wit and
of culture; now-a-days men are rated at cheque-value not at brain-value,
more’s the pity. D’Orsay would be hopelessly at sea in London society
to-day, not on account of his morals, but because he would not be able
to contribute his share of unconsidered and platitudinous trifles at
tea-fights, over-lengthy dinners and over-crowded dances.

In the London of D’Orsay’s prime the _salon_ was still a power for
pleasure, and he and Lady Blessington reigned over that which was perhaps
the most brilliant that our country has ever seen. There were others.
That at Holland House, for example, where Lady Holland reigned supreme
and somewhat severe. To that select circle, from which he was now, alas,
excluded, D’Orsay had been admitted when as a mere youth he first visited
London. Dining there one day, he was honoured by a seat next his hostess,
who apparently looked upon the young Frenchman as sure to be awe-stricken
by her presence. She did not know her man. Time and again she allowed
her napkin to slip down to the floor, on each occasion asking D’Orsay to
recover it for her. This exercise at last exhausted his patience, and
when the “accident” occurred again he startled her haughtiness by saying,
“_Ne ferais-je pas mieux, madame, de m’asseoir sous la table, afin de
pouvoir vous passer la serviette plus rapidement?_”

Lady Holland had been a wealthy Miss Vassall, and deserted her first
husband, Sir Godfrey Webster, at the charming of Lord Holland. The latter
has been described as “the last and the best of the Whigs of the old
school,” and was a man of highly cultivated mind, of genial hospitality,
of wit, and a master of the art of conversation. Among the frequenters of
the Holland House circle were Tom Moore, Macaulay, Lord John Russell,
to mention three men of very different character. D’Orsay, in what
is perchance a stray relic of that famous Journal of his, gives this
picture of Lord Holland:—“It is impossible to know Lord Holland without
feeling for him a strong sentiment of affection; he has so much goodness
of heart, that one forgets often the superior qualities of mind which
distinguish him; and it is difficult to conceive that a man so simple, so
natural and so good, should be one of the most distinguished senators of
our days.” Lady Holland had not shown her best self to D’Orsay; she was
a despot, but benevolent in the use of her power and full of the milk of
human kindness.

That D’Orsay was fully equipped to king it over a _salon_ frequented by
distinguished men is evident; no less was Lady Blessington endowed with
all the requisites to reign as queen. The gift of all gifts to a woman,
beauty, was hers in a high degree. Willis thus describes her:—

“Her person is full, but preserves all the fineness of an admirable
shape; her foot is not pressed in a satin slipper for which a Cinderella
might long be sought in vain; and her complexion (an unusually fair
skin, with very dark hair and eyebrows) is of even a girlish delicacy
and freshness. Her dress, of blue satin … was cut low, and folded across
her bosom, in a way to show to advantage the round and sculpture-like
curve and whiteness of a pair of exquisite shoulders, while her hair,
dressed close to her head, and parted simply on her forehead with a
rich _ferronier_ of turquoise, enveloped in clear outline a head with
which it would be difficult to find a fault. Her features are regular,
and her mouth, the most expressive of them, has a ripe fullness and
freedom of play peculiar to the Irish physiognomy, and expressive of the
most unsuspicious good-humour. Add to all this, a voice merry and sad by
turns, but always musical, and manners of the most unpretending elegance,
yet even more remarkable for their winning kindness, and you have the
prominent traits of one of the most lovely and fascinating women I have
ever seen.”

In these years her conversation was full of frank spontaneity; a smile
always hovered round her lips, and there was not mingled with her wit
any spite of malice. She expressed herself with felicity, though not
in any studied manner, and accompanied her words with expressive looks
and gestures. Above all, she understood that conversation is a game of
give and take, “one _bon mot_ followed another, without pause or effort,
for a minute or two, and then, while her wit and humour were producing
their desired effect, she would take care, by an apt word or gesture,
provocative of mirth and communicativeness, to draw out the persons who
were best fitted to shine in company, and leave no intelligence, however
humble, without affording it an opportunity and encouragement to make
some display, even in a single trite remark, a telling observation in the
course of conversation.”

The evening at Seamore Place often began with a dinner party; some of
these it will be pleasant for us to attend, in a proper spirit.

_Habitués_ not only dined there, but when so disposed dropped in of an
evening at almost any hour. Tom Moore records in his memoirs that he did
so on 17th December 1833:—“Went to Lady Blessington’s, having heard that
she is at home most evenings. Found her gay rooms splendidly lighted up,
and herself in a similar state of illumination, sitting ‘alone in her
glory,’ reading. It was like the solitude of some princess confined in a
fairy palace. After I had been a few minutes with her, however, D’Orsay
made his appearance. Stayed about three-quarters of an hour conversing.…”

Then on 11th August of the following year he “Dined at Lady
Blessington’s: company, D’Orsay (as master of the house), John Ponsonby,
Willis the American, Count Pahlen (whom I saw a good deal of when he was
formerly in London, and liked), Fonblanque, the editor of _The Examiner_,
and a foreigner, whose name I forget. Sat next to Fonblanque, and was
glad of the opportunity of knowing him. A clever fellow certainly, and
with great powers occasionally as a writer. Got on very well together.”

That must have been a pleasant gathering: a witty hostess, a witty
host, and several other wits, Fonblanque among them, of whom Lytton
speaks enthusiastically to Lady Blessington: “What a combination to
reconcile one to mankind, and _such_ honour, _such_ wisdom and _such_
genius.” Albany Fonblanque, as so many others have done, deserted law
for journalism, achieving a high degree of success as editor of _The
Examiner_. He was a master of sarcasm. Before Dickens set out on his
first trip to America, in 1842, Fonblanque cuttingly said: “Why, aren’t
there disagreeable people enough to describe in Blackburn or Leeds?”

In the same year (1834) Benjamin Disraeli was one of a distinguished
company entertained one night in May:—“On Monday I dined with Lady
Blessington, the Prince of Moskowa, Charles Lafitte, Lords Castlereagh,
Elphinstone, and Allen, Mr Talbot, myself.…” Disraeli in his thirtieth
year was a man after D’Orsay’s heart, a fellow dandy and a brother wit.
But there was a difference in kind: Disraeli was an amateur, D’Orsay a
professional; to the former dandyism was a pose, of his life a thing
apart, it was the latter’s whole existence; dandyism with Disraeli was
part of a means to an end, with D’Orsay it was the end itself. The useful
Willis gives a description of Disraeli at somewhere about this date, but
Madden casts a doubt upon his accuracy. It was a strange scene, like
pages torn from _Vivian Grey_, and from what we learn from other sources
the “atmosphere” at any rate is correct and typical:—

“Disraeli had arrived before me at Lady Blessington’s,” Willis writes,
“and sat in the deep window, looking out upon Hyde Park, with the
last rays of daylight reflected from the gorgeous gold flowers of an
embroidered waistcoat. Patent leather pumps, a white stick, with a
black cord and tassel, and a quantity of chains about his neck and
pockets, served to make him, even in the dim light, rather a conspicuous
object. Disraeli has one of the most remarkable faces I ever saw. He is
lividly pale, and, but for the energy of his action and the strength
of his lungs, would seem a victim to consumption. His eye is black as
Erebus, and has the most mocking and lying-in-wait sort of expression
conceivable.… His hair is as extraordinary as his taste in waistcoats. A
thick heavy mass of jet-black ringlets falls over his left cheek almost
to his collarless stock; while on the right it is parted and put away
with the smooth carefulness of a girl, and shines most unctuously,

    ‘With thy incomparable oil, Macassar.’

Disraeli was the only one at table who knew Beckford, and the style in
which he gave a sketch of his habits and manners was worthy of himself. I
might as well attempt to gather up the foam of the sea, as to convey an
idea of the extraordinary language in which he clothed his description.
There were, at least, five words in every sentence that must have been
very much astonished at the use they were put to, and yet no others
apparently could so well have conveyed his idea. He talked like a
race-horse approaching the winning-post, every muscle in action, and the
utmost energy of expression flung out in every burst. Victor Hugo and his
extraordinary novels came next under discussion; and Disraeli, who was
fired with his own eloquence, started off _apropos de bottes_, with a
long story of empalement he had seen in Upper Egypt. It was as good, and
perhaps as authentic, as the description of the chow-chow-tow in _Vivian
Grey_. The circumstantiality of the account was equally horrible and
amusing. Then followed the sufferer’s history, with a score of murders
and barbarities heaped together like Martin’s feast of Belshazzar, with
a mixture of horror and splendour that was unparalleled in my experience
of improvisation. No mystic priest of the Corybantes could have worked
himself up into a finer frenzy of language.”

Willis himself seems to have been bitten with this fine frenzy.

Madden says that it was Disraeli’s wont to be reserved and silent in
company, but that when he was aroused “his command of language was truly
wonderful, his power of sarcasm unsurpassed.”

Disraeli apparently met D’Orsay for the first time in February 1832, at a
_réunion_ at Bulwer’s house, and he describes him as “the famous Parisian
dandy.” They quickly struck up a friendship. It is easy to understand
what a fascinating study D’Orsay must have offered to Disraeli. We
hear of the latter, a few months after his marriage, entertaining
Lyndhurst, Bulwer, and D’Orsay. And in the spring of 1835 there was a
party at Lyndhurst’s at 25 George Street, at which Disraeli and d’Orsay
were present. One of the company was wearing a waistcoat of splendour
exceptional even for those splendid days. Said Disraeli as he entered
the room: “What a beautiful pattern! Where did you find it?” Then as the
guests with one accord displayed their vests, the host exclaimed: “By the
way, this brings to my mind a very curious suit I had about a waistcoat,
in which I was counsel for a Jew, and won his case.” And the story? It is
lost! As hopelessly as the story of “Ould Grouse in the Gun-room.”

After dinner some of the party went on to the Opera to hear _La
Sonnambula_, that rickety old piece of fireworks; in an opposite box
sat Lady Blessington, “not very young, somewhat florid, but effectively
arranged in a turban, _à la Joséphine_.”

Of the evening of 30th March 1835, Crabb Robinson notes: “At half-past
seven went to Lady Blessington’s, where I dined. The amusing man of the
party was a young Irishman—Lover—a miniature painter and an author. He
sang and accompanied himself, and told some Irish tales with admirable
effect.… Among other guests were Chorley and the American Willis. Count
d’Orsay, of course, did the honours. Did not leave till near one.…”

Lord Lyndhurst was a frequent visitor to Seamore Place. Henry Fothergill
Chorley was well-known and respected in his day as a musical critic, as a
novelist neither respected nor famous; he was a close friend of D’Orsay.
A rude journalist once spoke of “the Chorleys and the _chawbacons_ of
literature.” An intimate friend describes him as “doing all sorts of good
and generous deeds in a quiet, unostentatious way.” Samuel Lover is best
represented by his ballad of “Rory O’More,” and _Handy Andy_ still finds
a few readers.

William Archer Shee met Lover under somewhat similar circumstances at
another house:—“He is a man who shines much in a small circle. There is
a brilliancy of thought, a general versatility of talent about him that
makes his society very charming … he is one of the best _raconteurs_ that
ever kept an audience in a roar. He told two Irish stories with the most
racy humour.”

The Blessington of course often showed herself at the Opera, which then
as now was a fashionable lounge for musical and unmusical folk. Writing
to the Countess Guiccioli in August 1833, she says:—“Our Opera has been
brilliant, and offered a galaxy of talent, such as we never had before.
Pasta, Malibran, Tamburini, Rubini, Donzelli, and a host of minor stars,
with a _corps de ballet_, with Taglioni at their head, who more than
redeemed their want of excellency. I did not miss a single night.…”



D’Orsay was able to be almost anything to any man, or any woman. He
was highly accomplished in every art of pleasing, and endowed with the
ability not only to enjoy himself but to be the cause of enjoyment in
others. He was popular undoubtedly, wonderfully so, and with a wide and
varied range of men and women. But there were also many who despised him,
looking askance at one who so openly defied the most sacred conventions
of society, and who, in many ways, was accounted a mere adventurer. His
money transactions with his friends will not bear scrutiny. Yet when all
is said, he counted among the multitude of his friends and admirers such
men as Bulwer, Landor, Lamartine, Dickens, Byron, Disraeli and Lyndhurst.
John Forster warmed to him, and said that his “pleasantry, wit and
kindliness gave him a wonderful fascination.”

What did life mean to D’Orsay? Being a wise man he looked upon the world
as a place of pleasant sojourning, of which it was the whole duty of
man to make the very best. That there was, or might be, “another and a
better world” was no sort of excuse for being miserable in this one.
“_Vive la joie!_” was his motto, and he lived up to it gloriously. Life
was meant to be lived; money was made for spending; credit was a device
for obtaining good things for which the obtainer had not any means or
intention of paying. No one but a fool would lift the cup of pleasure
to his lips and then set it down before he had drained it dry. D’Orsay
looked upon the externals of a luxurious life, and found them very
pleasant. The Spartans pointed out the drunken helot to their children,
as a warning against tippling. So we may hold out to our young men the
life of D’Orsay as an example of what they should all endeavour to be,
and as a warning against the sheer foolishness of taking life seriously.
This is a degenerate age.

Exceptional as he was in so many ways, D’Orsay was not unique. He had his
doleful dumps and his hours of bitterness; he was, after all, a great
_man_, not a petty god. He plucked the roses of life so recklessly that
he experienced the sharpness of the thorns, which must often have pierced
deep. The conqueror as he tosses uneasily in his sleep is assailed by
dreams that terrify. D’Orsay in his hours of greatest triumph must
sometimes have asked what would be the end of his career; when would
come his Waterloo and St Helena? His thoughts must have sometimes turned
toward the young girl he had married so light-heartedly, whose fortune
he had squandered, and whose life he had shadowed. Success has its hours
of remorse. Life is a riddle; but D’Orsay was not often so foolish as
to bother his brains or break his heart over the solution of it; let
it solve itself as far as he was concerned. If to-morrow were destined
to be overcast let not that possible mischance darken the sunshine of
to-day. Sufficient for the day are the pleasures thereof.

There was not a pleasure or extravagance to which he did not indulge
himself to the full; wine, women and song were all at his command; he
sported with love, and gambled with fortunes. It was his ambition and his
attainment to set the pace in all pursuits of folly. Did a dancer take
the fancy of the town, D’Orsay must catch her fancy and be her lover, in
gossipings always and when he so desired it in fact also.

There is not much doubt that D’Orsay followed irreligiously the following
directions for sowing wild oats and cultivating exotics:—

“Rake discreetly beds of _coryphées_—plant out chorus-singers in park
villas and Montpelier cottages—refresh _premières danseuses_ with
champagne and chicken at the Star and Garter, Richmond, varied with cold
punch and white-bait at the Crown and Sceptre, Blackwall—air _prima
donnas_ in new broughams up and down Rotten Row—carefully bind up rising
actresses with diamond rings and pearl tiaras, from Hancock’s—pot
ballet-dancers in dog-carts—trail slips of columbines to box-seat in
four-horse drag—support fairies running to seed by props from Fortnum
& Mason’s—leave to dry Apollos that have done blooming, and cut Don
Giovannis that throw out too many suckers.”

Another famous tavern at Blackwall was Lovegrove’s “The Brunswick,” where
the white-bait was a famous dish. Of this excellent fish as served there
in 1850, Peter Cunningham says:—“The white-bait is a small fish caught in
the River Thames, and long considered, but erroneously, peculiar to this
river; in no other place, however, is it obtained in such perfection. The
fish should be cooked within an hour after being caught, or they are apt
to cling together. They are cooked in water in a pan, from which they are
removed, as required by a skimmer. They are then thrown on a stratum of
flour, contained in a large napkin, until completely enveloped in flour.
In this state, they are placed in a cullender and all the superfluous
flour removed by sifting. They are next thrown into hot melted lard,
contained in a copper cauldron, or stew vessel, and placed over a
charcoal fire. A kind of ebullition immediately commences, and in about
ten minutes, they are removed by a fine skimmer, thrown into a cullender
to drain, and then served up quite hot. At table they are flavoured with
cayenne and lemon juice, and eaten with brown bread and butter; iced
punch being the favourite accompanying beverage.” A dish fit to place
even before a _première danseuse_!

In the company of the wealthy he gambled as though he were one of
themselves. Whence he obtained the money to pay his losses must remain
a mystery. At the Cocoa Tree he won £35,000 in two nights off an
unfortunate Mr Welsh.

Of the many “hells” of those days, Crockford’s was the most famous and
the most sumptuous; there D’Orsay played for enormous stakes. Bernal
Osborne speaking through the mouth of Hyde Park Achilles, utters this:—

    “Patting the crest of his well-managed steed,
    Proud of his action, D’Orsay vaunts the breed;
    A coat of chocolate, a vest of snow,
    Well brush’d his whiskers, as his boots below;
    A short-napp’d beaver, prodigal in brim,
    With trousers tighten’d to a well-turn’d limb;
    O’er play, o’er dress, extends his wide domain,
    And Crockford trembles when he calls a main.”

Crockford’s “Palace of Fortune”—of misfortune to many—was in St James’
Street, upon a site and in a building now partly occupied by the
Devonshire Club. The house was designed by and built in 1827 under
the direction of Sir Jeffrey Wayatville, or Wyatt, the transformer of
Windsor Castle, and its proprietor was John Crockford, who it is reputed
died worth some £700,000; one authority indeed states that he made
over £1,000,000 in a few years out of his famous club. The place was
“palatial”; a splendid vestibule and staircase; a state drawing-room,
a state dining-room; and—the play-room. The number of members was
between 1000 and 1200, the annual subscription being £25; the number
of candidates were out of all proportion to the vacancies. Supper was
the great institution, but as a matter of honour it was “no play, no
supper”; no payment was asked for, so members who did not desire to play
in earnest would, after supper, throw a £10-note upon the play-table and
leave it there. The cooking was of the finest, Ude being the _chef_; the
cellar admirable.

Of Ude, the following pleasing little tale is told:—

Colonel Damer going into the club one evening met his highness the _chef_
tearing up and down in a terrible passion.

“What’s the matter?” asked Damer.

“The matter, Monsieur le Colonel! Did you see that man who has just gone
out? Well, he ordered a red mullet for his dinner. I made him a delicious
little sauce with my own hands. The price of the mullet marked on the
_carte_ was two shillings; I added sixpence for the sauce. He refuses to
pay the sixpence. The _imbécile_ apparently believes that the red mullets
come out of the sea, with my sauce in their pockets!”

Major Chambre in his amusing _Recollections of West-End Life_, tells us
that these free suppers “were on so grand a scale, and so excellent, that
the Club became the refuge of all the undinnered members and _gourmets_,
who flocked in after midnight from White’s, Brookes’, and the Opera, to
partake of the good cheer, and try their fortunes at the hazard-table
afterwards. The wines were of first-rate quality, and champagne and hock
of the best growths peeped out of ice-pails, to cool the agitated nerves
of those who had lost their money. Some who had begun cautiously, and
risked but little, by degrees acquired a taste for the excitement of
play, and ended by staking large sums.”

[Illustration: CROCKFORD’S


During the Parliamentary Session, supper was served from twelve to five,
and the fare was such as to satisfy the most refined _gourmet_, and the
most experienced “kernoozer.” Crockford started the business of life by
keeping a fish-stall hard by Temple Bar.

“In the play-room might be heard the clear ringing voice of that
agreeable reprobate, Tom Duncombe, as he cheerfully called ‘Seven,’ and
the powerful hand of the vigorous Sefton in throwing for a ten. There
might be noted the scientific dribbling of a four by ‘King’ Allen, the
tremendous backing of nines and fives by Ball Hughes and Auriol, the
enormous stakes played for by Lords Lichfield and Chesterfield, George
Payne, Sir St Vincent Cotton, D’Orsay, and George Anson, and, above all,
the gentlemanly bearing and calm and unmoved demeanour, under losses or
gains, of all the men of that generation.”

_The English Spy_ speaks quite disrespectfully of Crocky’s: “We can sup
in Crockford’s _pandemonium_ among parliamentary pigeons, unfledged
ensigns of the Guards, broken-down titled legs, and _ci-devant_ bankers,
fishmongers and lightermen.…” Apparently unkindly wags spoke of the Club
as “Fishmongers’ Hall.”

“Seven’s the main! Eleven’s a nick!”

It was the hazard of the die! Dice at £1, 1s. 0d. a pair cost the Club
exchequer some £2000 per annum.

The play-room was richly decorated and furnished, and the centre of
attraction was an oval table covered with green baize. This board of
green cloth was marked out in white lines, and at the corners, if there
can be such to an oval, were inscribed the mystic words “In” and “Out.”
In the centre was a space divided into squares in each of which was
inscribed a number. At the middle of one side of the board stood two
croupiers with a box before them containing the “bank” and with rakes in
hand ready to gather in or to pay out as luck would have it. Crockford
himself would be hovering around; here is a sketch of him:—

“A little in arrear of the players a tall and rather spare man stood,
with a pale and strongly-marked face, light grey eyes, and frosted hair.
His dress was common in the extreme, and his appearance generally might
be denominated of that order. The only peculiarity, if, peculiarity
it can be called, was a white cravat folded so thickly round his
neck that there seemed to be quite a superfluity of cambric in that
quarter. A smile—it might be of triumph, it might be of good-nature, of
satisfaction, of benevolence, of good-will—no, it could not be either
of these, save the former, and yet a smile was there … there he stood,
turning a pleasant—it almost amounted to a benevolent look—upon the
progress of the hazard, and at each countenance of the players.”

From the same vivacious work, a curious account of life about town by
John Mills, we now extract an account of an imaginary gamble by D’Orsay,
called herein the Marquis d’Horsay, and his friend Lord Chesterlane,
otherwise the Earl of Chesterfield:—

“Among the group, sitting and standing about the table, were the Marquis
d’Horsay and Lord Chesterlane. The former bore a disconsolate mood;
while the latter evinced thorough satisfaction and confidence in his
thoughts, or want of them, for good-humour shone in his face, and he
now and then snapped his fingers in very good imitation of castanets,
accompanied by a whistle both merry and loud. Large piles of red and
white counters were before him, showing that Fortune had favoured his
designs upon her benefits.

“‘You’re in luck to-night, Tom,’ observed the Marquis.

“‘Yes,’ replied his lordship, ‘I have the pull. But what are you doing?’

“‘Doing!’ repeated the Marquis, ‘I’m done; sown up; drawn as fine as spun
glass; eased of all anxiety from having my pockets picked on my way home;
and entertain, as you may see, a lively satisfaction in the pleasant
carelessness of my situation.’

“‘By the nectar, honied look of the sweetest girl that ever pointed her
glass to the omnibus box!’ swore his lordship, ‘your looks and tone carry
poor conviction to the sincerity of the axiom. Help yourself,’ continued
he, pushing a heap of counters towards his friend, ‘and stick it on

“In a heap—yes, in one uncounted, promiscuous heap—the Marquis gathered
the ivory checks on to the division in which the monosyllable ‘In’ was
legible, and in a standing posture called ‘Five.’

“‘Five’s the main,’ cried one of the croupiers, looking with as much
indifference at the dice as they were sent spinning across the table from
the hand of the caster as if they had been a couple of marbles shot from
the bent knuckle of a schoolboy.

“‘A nick, by Love’s sugar-candy kiss!’ said the Earl.

“In a trice the counters were examined by one of the attendants, and an
addition made to their numbers in the sum gained.

“With a flushed cheek and flashing eye the Marquis scraped the whole
again upon the ‘In.’”

Again the Marquis—that is to say D’Orsay—wins; he wins again, and again!
Again—again—again; never withdrawing his original stake or his winnings,
but letting them lie there, growing and growing. Then—the bank was broken!

“‘By my coach and ’osses!’ exclaimed Sir Vincent Twist, a tall,
well-made, strongly-marked, premature wrinkled, toothless—or, in
the phraseology of the ring, all the front rails gone—badly-dressed
individual.… ‘By my coach and ’osses! Fishey’s bank must be replenished!’”

This frankly unveracious history from which we have quoted is doubtless
as near to truthfulness as many a ponderous volume based upon documentary
evidence of undoubted authenticity—but that is not saying much.

At Crockford’s Lord Lamington, who wrote so understandingly of the
dandies, will have met D’Orsay, with whom he was upon excellent terms:
“Men did not slouch through life”; he writes, “and it was remarkable how
highly they were appreciated by the crowd, not only of the upper but of
the lower classes. I have frequently ridden down to Richmond with Count
d’Orsay. A striking figure he was in his blue coat with gilt buttons,
thrown well back to show the wide expanse of snowy shirt-front and
buff waistcoat; his tight leathers and polished boots; his well-curled
whiskers and handsome countenance; a wide-brimmed, glossy hat, spotless
white gloves.”

Doubtless it was to the famous old Star and Garter that they rode down,
the scene of many a high jink and of much merriment by night. A famous
house with a history dating back to the dim age of the year 1738. A very
unpretentious place at first, it was rebuilt upon a fairly fine scale in
1780, but did not prosper. It was a certain Christopher Crean, ex-_chef_
to his Royal Highness the Duke of York, and after him his widow, who
brought good luck to the house. In D’Orsay’s days it was owned by a Mr
Joseph Ellis. The old building vanished in flames in 1870.

It must have been a delightful place at which to dine and spend the
evening in those far-away D’Orsay days, and very pleasant the ride or
drive down there through the country now covered with suburbia. Dukes
and dandies, pretty women of some repute and of no repute, bright young
bucks and hoary-headed old stagers, hawks and pigeons, the _crême de
la Bohême_, all the world and other people’s wives, would be there;
immense the popping of corks from bottles of champagne and claret and
burgundy—the monarch of wines. Uproarious the joviality! They were gay
dogs in those gay days!

Though, speaking of a somewhat later date, Serjeant Ballantine’s account
of the place may be quoted:—

“Many also were the pleasant parties at the Star and Garter at Richmond,
not then the great ugly staring barrack of a place that occupies the
site where Mr Ellis, the picture of a host, used to receive the guests.
The old house was burnt down. In itself it had not much pretension,
but the garden behind was a perfect picture of loveliness; the small
garden-rooms, with honeysuckles, jasmine and roses twining themselves up
the sides, with a lovely sweep of lawn, on which were scattered trees
that had flourished there for many a long day, affording shade as well as
beauty; one magnificent spreading beech, itself a sight, and an avenue of
limes forming the prettiest of walks at the bottom of the garden.”

The view was of better quality than the viands.

There was not a fashionable haunt of virtue or of vice in which
D’Orsay was not quite at home. There was not any fashionable folly or
accomplishment in which he was unskilled; a complete man-about-town,
gambler, rake and dandy. We need not pursue him in all his pastimes; dead
and gone revelries cannot be resurrected with any satisfaction; they
smell musty. Let them lie.



Early in 1836 Lady Blessington moved from Mayfair out to Kensington,
or—as it then practically was—from the centre of the town to a suburb,
from Seamore Place to Gore House, which in Grantley Berkeley’s blunt
phrase became “the headquarters of the _demi-monde_, with the Countess of
Blessington as their queen.” She wrote to Landor, describing her change
of home, that she had “taken up her residence in the country, being a
mile from London.”

The house stood close down to the roadway, occupying part of the site
upon which now stands the Albert Hall—why _not_ named after Alfred,
Count d’Orsay? It was secluded from the traffic by a high wall and a
sparse row of trees, two large double gates surmounted by old-fashioned
lanterns giving access to the short drive. The building was low and quite
common-place, painted white, its only external claim to charm being the
beautiful gardens at the back. William Wilberforce, a previous tenant,

“We are just one mile from the turnpike at Hyde Park Corner, having about
three acres of pleasure-ground around our house, or rather behind it, and
several old trees, walnut and mulberry, of thick foliage. I can sit and
read under their shade with as much admiration of the beauties of Nature
as if I were down in Yorkshire, or anywhere else 200 miles from the great

Under those shady trees far other folk now sat, and we doubt not their
meditations were of the town rather than of the beauties of Nature. Of
such an assemblage D’Orsay painted a picture, which to a certain extent
gives the keynote to the history of Gore House for the next fourteen
years. It is a view of the garden side of the house and among those
portrayed in the groups that occupy the foreground are in addition to
D’Orsay and Lady Blessington, the Duke of Wellington and his son, Lord
Douro, of which latter Greville says: “Une lune bien pâle auprès de son
père, but far from a dull man, and not deficient in information”; Sir
Edwin Landseer, sketching a cow, Lord Chesterfield, Lord Brougham, and
Lady Blessington’s fair nieces, the two Misses Power.

Of course D’Orsay also moved out to Kensington, at first living next door
to Gore House at No. 4 Kensington Gore.

Bulwer writing to Lord Durham on many matters, notes the move from
Seamore Place:—

“Lady Blessington has moved into Wilberforce’s old house at
Knightsbridge.… She has got Gore House for ten years. It cost her a
thousand pounds in repairs, about another thousand in new furniture,
entails two gardeners, two cows, and another housemaid; but she declares
with the gravest of all possible faces she only does it for—economy!
D’Orsay is installed in a cottage _orné_ next door, and has set up an
aviary of the best-dressed birds in all Ornithology. He could not
turn naturalist in anything else but Dandies. The very pigeons have
trousers down to their claws and have the habit of looking over their
left shoulder,” of course to see that no evil-minded man-of-law was
approaching with a writ.

Afterward, doubtless realising that any further pretence at propriety was
mere waste of energy and money, he lived in Gore House itself, in the
grounds of which he erected his studio. Charles Greville, who so often
dipped his pen in gall, speaking of D’Orsay’s art work, declares that he
“constantly got helped, and his works retouched by eminent artists, whose
society he cultivated, and many of whom were his intimate friends.” Yet
we find Benjamin Robert Haydon recording on 10th July 1839, while he was
painting his portrait of Wellington:—

“D’Orsay called, and pointed out several things to correct in the
horse.… I did them, and he took my brush in his dandy gloves, which made
my heart ache, and lowered his hindquarters by bringing over a bit of
the sky. Such a dress! white great-coat, blue satin cravat, hair oiled
and curling, hat of the primest curve and purest water, gloves scented
with _eau de Cologne_, or _eau de jasmin_, primrose in tint, skin in
tightness. In this prime of dandyism he took up a nasty, oily, dirty
hog-tool, and immortalised Copenhagen by touching the sky. I thought,
after he was gone, this won’t do—a Frenchman touch Copenhagen! So out I
rubbed all he had touched, and modified his hints myself.”

So strange that Haydon should not have recognised that the touch of
the dandy’s handiwork would immortalise the picture! There are many
historical painters, but only a few great dandies. So little do great men
appreciate greater men! D’Orsay was from now onward to the day of his
fall at the top of his fame.

At Gore House the _salon_ presided over by D’Orsay and Lady Blessington
was even more brilliant than that at Seamore Place, though time was
beginning to play his unkindly tricks at the lady’s expense, and debt was
dogging the footsteps of the gentleman.

Of the former William Archer Shee gives a description too glowing to be

“Gore House last night was unusually brilliant. Lady Blessington has
the art of collecting around her all that is best worth knowing in the
_male_ society of London. There were Cabinet Ministers, diplomats, poets,
painters, and politicians, all assembled together.… She has the peculiar
and most unusual talent of keeping the conversation in a numerous circle
_general_, and of preventing her guests from dividing into little selfish
_pelotons_. With a tact unsurpassed, she contrives to draw out even the
most modest tyro from his shell of reserve, and, by appearing to take an
interest in his opinion, gives him the courage to express it. All her
visitors seem, by some hidden influence, to find their level, yet they
leave her house satisfied with themselves.”

[Illustration: GORE HOUSE

(_From a Water-colour Drawing by T. H. Shepherd_)


But Madden, who was more intimate with her than perhaps anyone else save
D’Orsay, gives us a peep behind the mask of gaiety. He declares that
there was no real happiness in those Gore House days; the skeletons in
their cupboards were rattling their bones. Lady Blessington’s merriment
had no longer the sparkle of genuine vivacity, was no longer unforced.
Cares and troubles grew upon her; her “conversation generally was no
longer of that gay, enlivening, cheerful character, abounding in drollery
and humour, which made the great charm of her _réunions_ in the Villa
Belvedere, and in a minor degree in Seamore Place.”

This is supported by Bulwer in a letter to Albany Fonblanque in September
1837: “I had a melancholyish letter from Lady Blessington the other day.
It always seems to me as if D’Orsay’s _blague_ was too much for her.
People who live with those too high-spirited for them always appear to me
to get the life sucked out of them. The sun drinks up the dews.” So does
the passage of years. Lady Blessington was now fading. The background of
her life had grown grey; the passage of years was impairing her beauty;
money matters troubled her sorely, and it cannot have added to the joy
of life to know that her love and her charms no longer satisfied all the
requirements of her lover. Banishment from the society of almost every
respectable woman must also have grated upon her who was born to reign
over society.

As for D’Orsay, his existence was one perpetual gallop after pleasure
and to escape the clutches of duns and their myrmidons. As far back as
his arrival in England he had been arrested on account of a debt of a
mere £300 to his Paris bootmaker, M’Henry, who, however, did not enforce
imprisonment, but allowed the bill to run on for several years. The
mere fact of D’Orsay being his patron brought him the custom of all the
exquisites of Paris.

It was a magnificent misery for “the gorgeous” Lady Blessington; but
D’Orsay possessed a heart and spirit above trifles; the conqueror of
to-day does not discount his present pleasure by any foreboding of
defeat to-morrow. D’Orsay had conquered London society, almost all the
male members of it and not a few of its female; with his wit and his
good looks he could gain for love what only money could obtain for less
favoured rivals.

Of the fair, frail ones who were to be met with at Gore House one of
the most distinguished, if not for good looks, at any rate for the good
fortune of having had a famous lover, was the Countess Guiccioli. Shee
met her there in the spring of 1837, and was sorely disappointed. He
considered her a “fubsy woman,” without youth, beauty or grace; short,
thick-set, lacking in style: “She sang several Italian airs to her own
accompaniment, in a very pretentious manner, and her voice is loud and
somewhat harsh.” It is told of her that once at a great house, when all
were alert to hear the song to which she was playing the introduction,
she suddenly clasped her—waist, exclaiming—

“Good Lord! I’ve over-eaten myself!”

Lady Blessington gives a kindlier portrait: “Her face is decidedly
handsome, the features regular and well proportioned, her complexion
delicately fair, her teeth very fine, and her hair of that rich golden
tint, which is peculiar to the female pictures by Titian and Giorgione.
Her countenance is very pleasing; its general character is pensive, but
it can be lit up with animation and gaiety, when its expression is very
agreeable. Her bust and arms are exquisitely beautiful.…”

Leigh Hunt tells us that she possessed the handsomest nose he had ever

Opinions differ about beauties as about other matters, so it will not
hurt to hear what Henry Reeve has to say:—

“October 15th (1839).—I have been a good deal at Gore House lately,
attracted and amused by Mme. de Guiccioli, who is staying with my lady.
Having recently made the acquaintance of Lady Byron, it is very curious
to me to compare the manners and character of her celebrated rival. The
Guiccioli is still exceedingly beautiful. She has sunbeams of hair, a
fine person, and a milky complexion. Her spirits are wonderful, and her
conversation brilliant even in the most witty house in London. Besides
which, she alone of all Italian women knows some things. Besides a fine
taste, which belongs to them by nature, she has a good share of literary
attainments, which, as her beauty fails, will smooth a track from
coquetry to pedantry, from the courted beauty to the courted blue.”

She and D’Orsay were very good friends; there are constant messages
to her from him in Lady Blessington’s letters:—“Count d’Orsay charges
me with the kindest regards for you; we often think and talk of the
pleasant hours passed in your society at Anglesey, when your charming
voice and agreeable conversation, gave wings to them.” And: “Comte
d’Orsay charges me with _mille choses aimables_ to you; you have, _malgré
all discussions_, secured a very warm and sincere friend in him.” And,
writing from Gore House on 15th August 1839: “Your friend Alfred charges
me with his kindest regards to you. He is now an inmate at Gore House,
having sold his own residence; and this is not only a great protection
but a great addition to my comfort.” A quite pleasantly frank confession
to the mistress of a great poet from the mistress of a great dandy. But
there have been greater poets than Byron, not any greater dandy than
D’Orsay, so the Blessington was the prouder woman of the two.


(_By D’Orsay_)


The following, written in January 1845, must be quoted in full, and
read with the remembrance to the fore that Lady Blessington posed in
conversation and in print as having been on terms of intimate friendship
with Byron. “… You have, I daresay, heard that your friend Count d’Orsay
has within the last two years taken to painting, and such has been the
rapidity of his progress, that he has left many competitors, who have
been for fifteen years painters, far behind.

“Dissatisfied with all the portraits that have been painted of Lord
Byron, none of which render justice to the intellectual beauty of his
noble head, Count d’Orsay, at my request, has made a portrait of our
great poet, and it has been pronounced by Sir John Cam Hobhouse, and all
who remember Lord Byron, to be the best likeness of him ever painted! The
picture possesses all the noble intelligence and fine character of the
poet’s face, and will, I am sure, delight you when you see it. We have
had it engraved, and when the plate is finished, a print will be sent to
you. It will be interesting, _chère et aimable amie_, to have a portrait
of our great poet, from a painting by one who so truly esteems you: for
you have not a truer friend than Count d’Orsay, unless it be me. How I
wish you were here to see the picture! It is an age since we met, and I
assure you we all feel this long separation as a great privation. I shall
be greatly disappointed if you are not as delighted with the engraving as
I am, for to me it seems the very image of Byron.”

“Our great poet” would have torn the hair of his noble head if he had
read this quaint production. La Guiccioli did approve the engraving to
the contentment of the artist.

Shee tells us that the Countess on her visits to Gore House was
overwhelmed by her more showy hostess, and by her sister, the Countess
Saint Marceau, the latter forming a fine foil to the more exuberant Lady
Blessington, being slight, short, small-featured, but extremely pretty
and piquant, and, as Madden tells us, “always courted and complimented
in society, and coquetted with by gentlemen of a certain age, by
humourists in single blessedness, especially like Gell, and by old
married bachelors like Landor.”

Landor visited Lady Blessington in 1837; he writes to Forster: “I shall
be at Gore House on Monday, pray come in the evening. I told Lady
Blessington I should not let any of her court stand at all in my way.
When I am tired of them, I leave them.”

It is very strong proof of the fascination exercised by D’Orsay that
such men as Landor, Carlyle and Forster, each one of whom we would think
impervious to his charms, should have succumbed to them.

Landor’s enslavement by Lady Blessington or her sister is understandable,
but what attracted him in D’Orsay? Chorley gives us a glimpse of Landor
dining at Gore House when its master was absent: “Yesterday evening, I
had a very rare treat—a dinner at Kensington _tête-à-tête_ with Lady
Blessington and Mr Landor; she talked her best, brilliant and kindly, and
without that touch of self-consciousness which she sometimes displays
when worked up to it by flatterers and gay companions. Landor, as usual,
the very finest man’s head I have ever seen, and with all his Johnsonian
disposition to tyrannise and lay down the law in his talk, restrained and
refined by an old-world courtesy and deference to his bright hostess, for
which _chivalry_ is the only right word.”

Landor conceived quite an affection for D’Orsay; perhaps at heart
they _both_ were dandies? Here is a pleasant bit of chaff from Landor,
written to Lady Blessington: “By living at Clifton, I am grown as rich as
Rothschild; and if Count d’Orsay could see me in my new coat, he would
not write me so pressingly to come up to London. It would breed ill-blood
between us—half plague, half cholera. He would say—‘I wish the fellow had
his red forehead again—the deuce might powder it for me.’ However, as I
go out very little, I shall not divide the world with him.”

Once when Landor was dining at Gore House, his attire had become slightly
disordered, to which fact D’Orsay smilingly drew attention as they rose
to join the ladies. “My dear Count d’Orsay,” exclaimed Landor, “I thank
you! My dear Count d’Orsay I thank you from my soul for pointing out to
me the abominable condition to which I am reduced! If I had entered the
drawing-room, and presented myself before Lady Blessington in so absurd
a light, I would have instantly gone home, put a pistol to my head, and
blown my brains out!”

In January 1840, Henry Reeve was at dinner at Gore House, and gives a
capital account of the fun there:—

“Our dinner last night was very good fun, but we made rather too many
puns. Landor rode several fine paradoxes with savage impetuosity:
particularly his theory that the Chinese are the only civilised people
in the world. I am sure the Ching dynasty has not a firmer adherent than
Landor within its own imperial capital. Landor, you know, is quite as
vain of not being read, as Bulwer is of being the most popular writer
of the day. Nothing can equal the contempt with which he treats anybody
who has more than six readers and three admirers unless it be that saying
of Hegel’s, when he declared that nobody understood his writings but
himself, and that not always. Lady B(lessington) said the finest thing of
Carlyle’s productions that ever was uttered; she called them ‘spangled

Forster and D’Orsay got on very well together, which was perhaps due
to the almost if not quite exaggerated respect paid by the former to
the latter. He was heard above the roar of talk at one of his dinners,
absolutely shouting to his man Henry: “Good heavens, sir, butter for the
Count’s flounders!” D’Orsay contrived to misunderstand him very nicely on
an occasion. Forster when expecting a visit from the Count was urgently
summoned to his printers. He gave his servant strict injunction to tell
the Count, should he call before his return, that he had just gone
round to Messrs Spottiswoode. He missed his visitor entirely, and his
explanation when next he met him was cut short by—“Ah! I know, you had
just gone round to _Ze Spotted Dog_—I understand.”

In 1835 Lady Blessington writes to Forster from Gore House:

“It has given me the greatest pleasure to hear that you are so
much better. Count d’Orsay assures me that the improvement is most
satisfactory. Tomorrow will be the anniversary of his birthday, and a
few friends will meet to celebrate it. How I wish you were to be among
the number.” Ten years later, when Forster again was on the sick-list,
she writes: “If you knew the anxiety we all feel about your health, and
the fervent prayers we offer up for its speedy restoration, you would be
convinced, that though you have friends of longer date, you have none
more affectionately and sincerely attached to you than those at Gore
House. I claim the privilege of an _old woman_ to be allowed to see you
as soon as a visitor in a sick-room can be admitted. Sterne says that ‘A
friend has the same right as a physician,’ and I hope you will remember
this. Count d’Orsay every day regrets that he cannot go and nurse you,
and we both often wish you were here, that we might try our power of
alleviating your illness, if not of curing you. God bless you, and
restore you speedily to health.”

Macready turns up, if we may use words so flippant of a man so serious,
at Gore House in 1837. “Reached Lady Blessington’s about a quarter before
eight,” he writes. “Found there Fonblanque, Bulwer, Trelawney, Procter,
Auldjo, Forster, Lord Canterbury, Fred Reynolds and Mr and Mrs Fairlie,
Kenney, a young Manners Sutton, Count d’Orsay and some unknown. I passed
an agreeable day, and had a long and interesting conversation in the
drawing-room (what an elegant and splendid room it is!) with D’Orsay on

Of the members of the party that Macready found himself amongst—Lord
Canterbury, when he was the Right Honourable Charles Manners Sutton and
Speaker of the House of Commons, had married in 1828 Lady Blessington’s
sister Ellen, of whom Moore speaks as “Mrs Speaker”: “Amused to see her,
in all her state, the same hearty, lively Irishwoman still.” She had
first been married to a Mr Purves. Mrs Fairlie was Mrs Purves’ eldest
daughter, Louisa, who while quite young had married Mr John Fairlie.
Trelawney was the “Younger Son,” whose “Adventures” are so entertaining
and exciting, the intimate of Shelley and Byron, and the model for the
old sea captain of Millais’ “North-West Passage.” Procter was “Barry
Cornwall”; John Auldjo had been introduced to Lady Blessington by Gell in
1834; Frederick Mansell Reynolds was a minor poet and writer of tales, a
letter from whom shows D’Orsay in a pleasant light. It is written from
Jersey in 1837—

    “MY DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,—After having so recently seen you,
    and being so powerfully and so painfully under the influence
    of a desire never again to place the sea between me and
    yourself and circle, I feel almost provoked to find how much
    this place suits me in every physical respect.… You and Count
    d’Orsay speak kindly and cheerfully to me; but I am _un malade
    imaginaire_, for I do not fear death; on the contrary, I rather
    look to it as my only hope of secure and lasting tranquillity.
    In the lull which has hitherto accompanied my return to this
    delicious climate, I have had time and opportunity for ample
    retrospection, and I find that we have both[11] laid in a
    stock of regard for Count d’Orsay which is immeasurable:
    anybody so good-natured and so kind-hearted I never before saw;
    it seems to me that it should be considered an inestimable
    privilege to live in his society. When you write to me, pray be
    good enough to acquaint me whether you have been told verbatim
    what a lady said on the subject; for praise so natural, hearty
    and agreeable was never before uttered in a soliloquy, which
    her speech really was, though I was present at the time.

    “At the risk of repeating, I really must tell it to you. After
    Count d’Orsay’s departure from our house, there was a pause,
    when it was broken, by her exclaiming, ‘What a very nice man!’
    I assented in my own mind, but I was pursuing also a chain of
    thought of my own, and I made no audible reply. Our ruminations
    then proceeded, when mine were once more interrupted by her
    saying: ‘In fact, he is the _nicest man I ever saw_.’

    “This is a pleasant avowal to me, I thought; but still I could
    not refrain from admitting that she was right. Then again, for
    a third time, the mental machinery of both went to work in
    silence, until that of the lady reached a _ne plus ultra_ of
    admiration, and she ejaculated in an ecstasy: ‘Indeed, he is
    the nicest man that can possibly be!’”

The Kenney mentioned by Macready must have been James, who as the author
of _Raising the Wind_, and of _Sweethearts and Wives_, was a singularly
appropriate friend for the impecunious, amorous D’Orsay.



Lady Blessington reported that in June 1838, London was “insupportable.
The streets and the Park crowded to suffocation, and all the people gone
mad”; but in the same month Dizzy writes in a different key: “We had a
very agreeable party at D’Orsay’s yesterday. Zichy, who has cut out even
Esterhazy, having two jackets; one of diamonds more brilliant than E.’s,
and another which he wore at the drawing-room yesterday of turquoises.
This makes the greatest sensation of the two.… Then there was the Duke of
Ossuna, a young man, but a grandee of the highest grade.… He is a great
dandy and looks like Philip II., but though the only living descendant
of the Borgias, he has the reputation of being very amiable. When he was
last at Paris he attended a representation of Victor Hugo’s _Lucrezia
Borgia_. She says in one of the scenes: ‘Great crimes are in our blood.’
All his friends looked at him with an expression of fear; ‘But the blood
has degenerated,’ he said, ‘for I have committed only weaknesses.’
Then there was the real Prince Poniatowsky, also young and with a most
brilliant star. Then came Kissiloffs and Strogonoffs, ‘and other offs and
ons,’ and de Belancour, a very agreeable person. Lyndhurst, Gardner,
Bulwer and myself completed the party.”

D’Ossuna died while quite a young man and was succeeded by his brother,
also a friend of D’Orsay.

This must have been a curiously polyglot gathering, and the noble company
of dandies was brilliantly represented by D’Orsay, Bulwer and Dizzy, not
to mention Zichy of the turquoise jacket.



There is both amusement and interest in the record of the year 1839,
during which all pretence at a separate establishment was cast aside,
and the D’Orsay-Blessington alliance was publicly acknowledged by the
gentleman taking up his residence in the lady’s house.

D’Orsay went down this year to Bradenham, on a visit to the Disraelis.

It is not uninteresting to know that Bradenham and Hurstley in _Endymion_
are one and the same place, and thus described:—

“At the foot of the Berkshire downs, and itself on a gentle elevation,
there is an old hall with gable ends and lattice windows, standing in
grounds which once were stately, and where there are yet glade-like
terraces of yew-trees, which give an air of dignity to a neglected scene.
In the front of the hall huge gates of iron, highly wrought, and bearing
an ancient date as well as the shield of a noble house, opened on a
village green, round which were clustered the cottages of the parish,
with only one exception, and that was the vicarage house, a modern
building, not without taste, and surrounded by a small but brilliant
garden. The church was contiguous to the hall, and had been raised by
the lord on a portion of his domain. Behind the hall and its enclosure
the country was common land but picturesque. It had once been a beech
forest, and though the timber had been greatly cleared, the green land
was occasionally dotted, sometimes with groups and sometimes with single
trees, while the juniper which here abounded, and rose to a great height,
gave a rich wildness to the scene, and sustained its forest character.”
It is easy to fit the author of the _Curiosities of Literature_ into this
framework, but in this old-world hall two such gorgeous butterflies as
D’Orsay and the writer of _Vivian Grey_ seem rather astray. It would be
almost as startling to find a dog-rose climbing up a lamp-post in Pall
Mall, or honeysuckle adorning the front of the Thatched House.

Disraeli writes to Lady Blessington:—

“We send you back our dearest D’Orsay, with some of the booty of
yesterday’s sport as our homage to you. His visit has been very short,
but very charming, and everybody here loves him as much as you and I do.
I hope that I shall soon see you, and see you well; and in the meantime,
I am, as I shall ever be, your affectionate—”

Concerning an earlier occasion, Disraeli writes from Bradenham on 5th
August 1834, to Lady Blessington:—

“I suppose it is vain to hope to see my dear D’Orsay here; I wish indeed
he would come. Here is a wish by no means contemptible. He can bring his
horses if he likes, but I can mount him. Adieu, dear Lady Blessington,
some day I will try to write you a more amusing letter; at present I am
in truth ill and sad.”


(_From a Painting by A. E. Chalon, R.A._)


Charles Greville was at Gore House on 17th February, and seems to have
enjoyed himself pretty well:—

“February 17th.—I dined at Lady Blessington’s yesterday, to meet Durham
and Brougham; but, after all, the latter did not come, and the excuse
he made was, that it was better not; and as he was taking, or going to
take (we shall see) a moderate course about Canada, it would impair his
efficacy if the press were to trumpet forth, and comment on, his meeting
with Durham. There was that sort of strange omnium gatherum party which
is to be met with nowhere else, and which for that reason alone is
curious. We had Prince Louis Napoleon and his A.D.C.[12] He is a short,
thickish, vulgar-looking man, without the slightest resemblance to his
imperial uncle, or any intelligence in his countenance. Then we had
the ex-Governor of Canada, Captain Marriott, the Count Alfred de Vigny
(author of _Cinq Mars_, etc.), Sir Edward Lytton Bulwer, and a proper
sprinkling of ordinary persons to mix up with these celebrities. In the
evening, Forster, sub-editor of the _Examiner_; Chorley, editor of the
_Athenæum_; Macready and Charles Buller. Lady Blessington’s existence is
a curiosity, and her house and society have at least the merit of being
singular, though the latter is not so agreeable as from its composition
it ought to be. There is no end to the men of consequence and distinction
in the world who go there occasionally—Brougham, Lyndhurst, Abinger,
Canterbury, Durham, and many others; all the minor poets, _literati_,
and journalists, without exception, together with some of the highest
pretensions. Moore is a sort of friend of hers; she had been very
intimate with Byron, and is with Walter Savage Landor. Her house is
furnished with a luxury and splendour not to be surpassed; her dinners
are frequent and good; and D’Orsay does the honours with a frankness
and cordiality which are very successful; but all this does not make
society, in the real meaning of the term. There is a vast deal of coming
and going, and eating and drinking, and a corresponding amount of noise,
but little or no conversation, discussion, easy quiet interchange of
ideas and opinions, no regular social foundation of men of intellectual
or literary calibre ensuring a perennial flow of conversation, and
which, if it existed, would derive strength and assistance from the
light superstructure of occasional visitors, with the much or the little
they might individually contribute. The reason of this is that the woman
herself, who must give the tone to her own society, and influence its
character, is ignorant, vulgar, and commonplace.[13] Nothing can be more
dull and uninteresting than her conversation, which is never enriched by
a particle of knowledge, or enlivened by a ray of genius or imagination.
The fact of her existence as an authoress is an enigma, poor as her
pretensions are; for while it is very difficult to write good books, it
is not easy to compose even bad ones, and volumes have come forth under
her name for which hundreds of pounds have been paid, because (Heaven
only can tell how) thousands are found who will read them. Her ‘Works’
have been published in America, in one huge folio, where it seems they
meet with peculiar success; and this trash goes down, because it is
written by a Countess, in a country where rank is eschewed, and equality
is the universal passion. They have (or some of them) been likewise
translated into German; and if all this is not proof of literary merit,
or at least of success, what is? It would be not uninteresting to trace
this current of success to its source, and to lay bare all the springs of
the machinery which sustains her artificial character as an authoress.
The details of course form the mystery of her craft, but the general
causes are apparent enough. First and foremost, her magnificent house and
luxurious dinners; then the alliance offensive and defensive which she
has contrived (principally through the means of said house and dinners)
to establish with a host of authors, booksellers, and publishers, and
above all with journalists. The first lend her their assistance in
composition, correction, or addition; with the second she manages to
establish an interest and an interchange of services; and the last
everlastingly puff her performances. Her name is eternally before the
public; she produces those gorgeous inanities, called _Books of Beauty_,
and other trashy things of the same description, to get up which all
the fashion and beauty, the taste and talent, of London are laid under
contribution. The most distinguished artists and the best engravers
supply the portraits of the prettiest women in London; and these are
illustrated with poetical effusions of the smallest possible merit, but
exciting interest and curiosity from the notoriety of their authors;
and so, by all this puffing, and stuffing, and untiring industry, and
practising on the vanity of some, and the good-nature of others, the end
is attained; and though I never met with any individual who had read any
of her books, except the _Conversations with Byron_, which are too good
to be hers, they are unquestionably a source of considerable profit, and
she takes her place confidently and complacently as one of the literary
celebrities of her day.”

The _Conversations_ were in all probability almost entirely the
composition of Lady Blessington, more so indeed than they had any right
to be, Byron’s sayings being the invention to some extent at any rate of
the lively imagination of the so-called recorder. But it is not necessary
here—or anywhere—to discuss Lady Blessington’s performances as a writer
of fiction.

The Durham referred to by Greville was John George Lambton, first Earl of
Durham, who in 1838 had been appointed Governor-General of the British
provinces of North America, and whose somewhat arbitrary proceedings
there had not met with universal approbation. But there cannot be any
doubt that in the main he was right and wise. Charles Buller, his
secretary, is reputed to have been the author of Durham’s famous _Report
on the Affairs of British North America_.

When Lord Durham was making ready for his departure to Canada, he
included among his immense baggage a large number of musical instruments.
“What on earth are they for?” said a wonderer. To whom Sydney Smith:
“Don’t you know he is going to make overtures to the Canadians?”

George Ticknor describes Durham in 1838 as “little, dark-complexioned,
red-faced-looking.” Charles Greville had many severe things to say of
him—and said them.

Durham seems to have been on fairly intimate terms with Lady Blessington.
In 1835 he writes from Cowes:—

“I thank you much for your very agreeable letter, which I received
this morning, and for your kind inquiries after my health, which is
wonderfully improved, if not quite restored, by this fine air, and _dolce
far niente_ life. I anticipate with horror the time when I shall be
obliged to leave it, and mix once more in the _troublous_ realities of
_public life_.”

Durham died in 1840, and of the event Alfred de Vigny wrote to Lady


    “Moi qui me souviens, milady, de vous avoir trouvé un soir si
    profondément affecté de la mort d’une amie, je puis mesurer
    toute la peine que vous avez éprouvée à la perte de Lord
    Durham. J’aimais toujours à me figurer que je le retrouverai à
    Gore House à coté de vous, et je ne puis croire encore qu’en si
    peu de temps il ait été enlevé à ses amis. Je ne crains point
    avec vous de parler d’une chose déjà ancienne, comme on dirait
    à Paris, car je sais quel religieux souvenir vous gardez à ceux
    qui ne sont plus, et qui vous furent chers.

    “Je regrette dans Lord Durham tout l’avenir que je me
    promettois de sa vie politique, et le développement des idées
    saines et larges, que, chez vous il m’avait montrées. Si je ne
    me suis trompé sur lui, l’alliance de la France lui semblait
    précieuse à plus d’un titre, et il connaissait profondément les
    vues de la Russie. S’il tenoit à cette génération de vos hommes
    d’état qui prennent part aux plus grandes luttes, il était
    pourtant jeune d’esprit et de cœur, et un homme de passé et
    d’avenir à la fois sont bien rares.

    “Vous pensez à voyager en Italy, y songez vous encore, milady,
    je le voudrois puisque Paris est sur le chemin, et je suis
    assuré par toute la grâce avec laquelle vous m’avez ouvert
    Gore House, que vous ne seriez point affligée de me voir vous
    porter en France l’assurance du plus sincère et du plus durable

                                                 “ALFRED DE VIGNY.”

De Vigny was the popular French poet and novelist, author of _Cinq Mars_
and _Chatterton_, of whom Lady Blessington remarked that he was “of fine
feelings as well as genius, but were they ever distinct?”

Charles Buller will perhaps be chiefly remembered as the pupil of Carlyle
and the friend of Thackeray, who on his death in 1848 wrote to Mrs

    “MY DEAR LADY—I am very much pained and shocked at the news
    brought at dinner to-day that poor dear Charles Buller is gone.
    Good God! think about the poor mother surviving, and what an
    anguish that must be! If I were to die I cannot bear to think
    of my mother living beyond me, as I daresay she will. But
    isn’t it an awful, awful sudden summons? There go wit, fame,
    friendship, ambition, high repute! Ah! _aimons nous bien_. It
    seems to me that is the only thing we can carry away. When we
    go let us have some who love us wherever we are.… Good-night.”

Thackeray, himself “no small beer” as a dandy in his young days, was a
visitor to Gore House, and we fancy liked its mistress better than its
master, with whom, however, he was on quite friendly terms. Lady Ritchie
remembers a morning call paid by D’Orsay to her father:—

“The most splendid person I ever remember seeing had a little pencil
sketch in his hand, which he left behind him on the table. It was a very
feeble sketch; it seemed scarcely possible to admiring little girls
that so grand a being should not be a bolder draughtsman. He appeared
to us one Sunday morning in the sunshine. When I came hurrying down
to breakfast I found him sitting beside my father at the table with an
untasted cup of tea before him; he seemed to fill the bow-window with
radiance as if he were Apollo; he leant against his chair with one elbow
resting on its back, with shining studs and curls and boots. We could
see his horse looking in at us over the blind.… I think my father had
a certain weakness for dandies, those knights of the broadcloth and
shining fronts. Magnificent apparitions used to dawn upon us in the
hall sometimes, glorious beings on their way to the study, but this one
outshone them all.”

By the way, Chorley was never editor of the _Athenæum_ as Greville states.

As for Brougham, what shall we say of that curious mixture of a man?
Three parts genius and one part humbug?

It was at Gore House on 21st October 1839, that Alfred Montgomery read
out the letter he had received which purported to come from Mr Shafto at
Penrith, at Brougham Hall. It announced that Brougham had been killed
by the overturning of a postchaise in which he was driving. The company
present were completely deceived and the news was communicated to the
papers, which with the exception of _The Times_ gave it currency.

Henry Reeve was dining at the club when he heard a rumour that Brougham
was ill, and straightway went up to Gore House, to find if there were any
news. The letter had been brought over by Alfred Montgomery to Gore House
early in the morning; Shafto was the only uninjured survivor of the
party of three in the chaise; Brougham had been stunned by a kick from
one of the horses, thrown down and the carriage had turned over on to
him, crushing him to death. D’Orsay spread the news round the town in the
afternoon, when he took his walk abroad. Reeve had better be left to tell
the rest of the story of that evening:—

“It was the most melancholy evening I ever spent there. In no house was
Brougham so entirely tamed; in none, except his own, so much beloved.
Only last Sunday week—not ten days ago—just six before his death—he
dined there, and stayed very late, which he rarely did, leaving them
dazzled with the brilliancy of his unflagging spirit. I was to have dined
there too; they very earnestly pressed me; but I had promised to go to
Richmond. They tried hard, too, to get Sir A. Paget; but we both stayed
away, and they sat down to table _thirteen_. I can only say that the
deaths which have struck me most in my life have always been preceded by
a dinner of thirteen, in spite of efforts to avoid it.”

Brougham, it is said, was very much interested in reading his obituary
notices! Shafto promptly denounced the letter as a forgery. Who then
wrote it? The Duke of Cambridge among many others suspected the corpse,
and greeted Brougham at a Privy Council meeting with: “Damn you, you dog,
_you_ wrote that letter, you know you did!” and chased him round the
room. D’Orsay apparently held the same opinion and was in turn himself
accused of the hoax. Fonblanque writes to Lady Blessington:—

“The falsehood that Count d’Orsay had anything to do with the hoax was
sufficiently refuted by all who knew him, by the two circumstances
that it was stupid and cruel; and the unique characteristic of D’Orsay
is, that the most brilliant wit is uniformly exercised in the most
good-natured way. He can be wittier with kindness than the rest of the
world with malice.”

Reeve asserts roundly that Brougham wrote later to Montgomery, admitting
that he was the perpetrator of the “thoughtless jest,” and continues:
“D’Orsay drew a capital sketch of Brougham in his plaid trousers, from
memory, which we thought invaluable; and nobody could look at his wild,
uncouth handwriting without tears in his eyes. In short, so bad a joke
was never played off on so large a scale before; but one can’t look
forward without a good deal of amusement to Brougham’s telling the story.”

We meet Lyndhurst and Brougham together at Gore House this year, just
as they appeared together in _Punch_ later on in that famous cartoon
“The Mrs Caudle of the House of Lords,” drawn by Leech and invented by
Thackeray. The picture represents Lyndhurst as Lord Chancellor reposing
in bed, his head upon the woolsack, beside him Mrs Caudle Brougham, very
much awake, and saying: “What do you say? _Thank heaven! You are going to
enjoy the recess—and you’ll be rid of me for some months?_ Never mind.
Depend upon it, when you come back, you shall have it again. No: I don’t
raise the House, and set everybody in it by the ears; but I’m not going
to give up every little privilege; though it’s seldom I open my lips,
goodness knows!”

Charles Sumner, the famous American senator and jurist, visited Gore
House in March, and records:

“As I entered her brilliant drawing-room, she came forward to receive
me with that bewitching manner and skilful flattery which still give
her such influence. ‘Ah, Mr Sumner,’ she said, ‘how sorry I am that
you are so late! Two of your friends have just left us—Lord Lyndhurst
and Lord Brougham; they have been pronouncing your _éloge_.’ She was,
of course, the only lady present; and she was surrounded by D’Orsay,
Bulwer, Disraeli, Duncombe, the Prince Napoleon, and two or three
lords. The house is a palace of Armida, about two miles from town.… The
rooms are furnished in the most brilliant French style, and flame with
costly silks, mirrored doors, bright lights, and golden ornaments. But
Lady Blessington is the chief ornament. The world says she is almost
fifty-eight; by her own confession she must be over fifty, and yet she
seems hardly forty: at times I might believe her twenty-five.”

Of D’Orsay, Sumner writes, he “surpasses all my expectations. He is the
divinity of dandies; in another age he would have passed into the court
of the gods, and youths would have sacrificed to the God of Fashion.… I
have seen notes and letters from him, both in French and English, which
are some of the cleverest I have ever read; and in conversation, whether
French or English, he is excessively brilliant.”

But most amazing of all his conquests was D’Orsay’s subduing of Carlyle.
Would it not have been thought that the dandy would have been a type
peculiarly irritating to the author of _Sartor Resartus_?

On 16th April 1839, Carlyle writes from Cheyne Row to his brother John:—

“… I must tell you of the strangest compliment of all, which occurred
since I wrote last—the advent of Count D’Orsay. About a fortnight ago,
this Phœbus Apollo of dandyism, escorted by poor little Chorley, came
whirling hither in a chariot that struck all Chelsea into mute amazement
with splendour. Chorley’s under jaw went like the hopper or under riddle
of a pair of fanners, such was his terror on bringing such a splendour
into actual contact with such a grimness. Nevertheless, we did amazingly
well, the Count and I. He is a tall fellow of six feet three, built
like a tower, with floods of dark auburn hair, with a beauty, with an
adornment unsurpassable on this planet; withal a rather substantial
fellow at bottom, by no means without insight, without fun, and a sort
of rough sarcasm rather striking out of such a porcelain figure. He
said, looking at Shelley’s bust, in his French accent: ‘Ah, it is one of
those faces who weesh to swallow their chin.’ He admired the fine epic,
etc., etc.; hoped I would call soon, and see Lady Blessington withal.
Finally he went his way, and Chorley with re-assumed jaw. Jane laughed
for two days at the contrast of my plaid dressing-gown, bilious, iron
countenance, and this Paphian apparition. I did not call till the other
day, and left my card merely. I do not see well what good I can get by
meeting him much, or Lady B. and demirepdom, though I should not object
to see it once, and then oftener if agreeable.”

But Carlyle was not always so complacent. In August 1848, the Carlyles
received from Forster “An invaluable treat; an opera box, namely, to hear
Jenny Lind sing farewell. Illustrious indeed. We dined with Fuz[14] at
five, the hospitablest of men; at eight, found the Temple of the Muses
all a-shine for Lind & Co.—the piece, _La Sonnambula_, a chosen bit
of nonsense from beginning to end—and, I suppose, an audience of some
three thousand _expensive_-looking fools, male and female, come to see
this Swedish nightingale ‘hop the twig,’ as I phrased it.… ‘Depend upon
it,’ said I to Fuz, ‘the Devil is busy _here_ to-night, wherever he may
be idle!’ Old Wellington had come staggering in to attend the thing.
Thackeray was there; D’Orsay, Lady Blessington—to all of whom (Wellington
excepted!) I had to be presented and give some kind of foolery—much
against the grain.”

A curious company this that D’Orsay moved in: Brougham, Lyndhurst,
Sumner, Carlyle, Landor, Macready, Haydon, Bulwer, the Disraelis, father
and son; men of brains and men without, of morals and of no morals;
comedians and heavy tragedians; he himself the prince of comedians,
though, as is often the case, beneath the light, lilting melodies there
surged a solemn, minatory bass. An absolutely happy man this D’Orsay
ought to have been, but—?

[Illustration: CARLYLE IN 1839

(_By D’Orsay_)




Not only in the sports of the town but also in those of the country, and
with equal success, did D’Orsay indulge, paying many a pleasant country
visit. Thus in January 1840 he was down in Staffordshire hunting and
shooting with Lord Anglesey, Lord Hatherston and other good sportsmen,
and at the end of the same year he spent some weeks in the country with
Lord Chesterfield. At Chesterfield House in town, too, D’Orsay passed
many a pleasant hour with the generous, kindly Earl.

D’Orsay had a fondness for the theatre, both the regions before and
behind the curtain, and for those connected with it in any way. J. R.
Planché, herald, dramatist and student of costume, was at Gore House
on 6th May 1840, there being a brilliant company and much bright talk.
Bright companions and gay converse: no wonder that D’Orsay said that
“he had never known the meaning of the word _ennui_.” To the production
of Lytton’s _Money_ D’Orsay lent a hand in 1840, helping Macready in
various ways to secure an accurate representation of club-life and so
forth, introducing the actor to his hatter and so forth, and showing the
innocent man how play-accounts and so forth were kept. Actors in those
days must have been as innocent of the ways of the world as statesmen and
politicians are in these times.

Of another play of Bulwer’s, Charles Greville records:—

“March 8th, 1839.—I went last night to the first representation of
Bulwer’s play _Richelieu_; a fine play, admirably got up, and very well
acted by Macready, except the last scene, the conception of which was
altogether bad. He turned Richelieu into an exaggerated Sixtus V., who
completely lost sight of his dignity, and swaggered about the stage,
taunting his foes, and hugging his friends with an exultation quite
unbecoming and out of character. With this exception it was a fine
performance; the success was unbounded, and the audience transported.
After Macready had been called on, they found out Bulwer, who was
in a small private box next the one I was in with Lady Blessington
and D’Orsay, and were vociferous for his appearance to receive their
applause. After a long delay, he bowed two or three times, and instantly
retreated. Directly after he came into our box, looking very serious and
rather agitated; while Lady Blessington burst into floods of tears at his
success, which was certainly very brilliant.”

Macready himself notes of this occasion: “Acted Cardinal Richelieu very
nervously: lost my self-possession, and was obliged to use too much
effort; it did not satisfy me at all. How can a person get up such a play
and do justice at the same time to such a character!”

It was in truth a dazzling circle of dandies with whom Lady Blessington
and D’Orsay were surrounded: Disraeli, Bulwer, Ainsworth, Dickens—in
fact Gore House was the haunt of the novelists, for to the above may
be added Thackeray and Marryat. Ainsworth aped D’Orsay in matters of
costume and attitudinising, but as is so often the case with imitators
the copy did not nearly equal the great original. The author of _Jack
Shepherd_ and many other capital stories was “a fine, tall, handsome,
well-whiskered fellow, with a profusion of chestnut curls, and bore
himself with no inconsiderable manifestation of self-consciousness.”
Ainsworth started business life as a publisher, but made fame and money
as a writer. In order to correct the above somewhat acrid description of
him, here is a pleasanter one of later years:—

“The time is early summer, the hour about eight o’clock in the evening;
dinner has been removed from the prettily-decorated table, and the early
fruits tempt the guests, to the number of twelve or so, who are grouped
around it. At the head there sits a gentleman no longer in his first
youth, but still strikingly handsome; there is something artistic about
his dress, and there may be a little affectation in his manners, but even
this may in some people be a not unpleasing element. He was our host,
William Harrison Ainsworth, and, whatever may have been the claims of
others, and, in whatever circles they might move, no one was more genial,
no one more popular.”

Charles Dickens first visited Gore House in 1840, and soon gained and
always retained the friendship of D’Orsay. Dickens was a very vivid
dresser, his gay spirit loved riotous colours. He has been described as
“rather florid in his dress, and gave me an impression of gold chain and
pin and an enormous tie.” Dickens thoroughly enjoyed the conviviality of
Gore House, as is shown by the following letter:—

                                                    “COVENT GARDEN,
                                    “_Sunday, Noon, December 1844_.

    “MY DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,—Business for other people (and by
    no means of a pleasant kind) has held me prisoner during two
    whole days, and will so detain me to-day, in the very agony
    of my departure for Italy again, that I shall not even be
    able to reach Gore House once more, on which I had set my
    heart. I cannot bear the thought of going away without some
    sort of reference to the happy day you gave me on Monday, and
    the pleasure and delight I had in your earnest greeting. I
    shall never forget it, believe me. It would be worth going
    to China—it would be worth going to America, to come home
    again for the pleasure of such a meeting with you and Count
    d’Orsay—to whom my love, and something as near it to Miss Power
    and her sister as it is lawful to send.…”

And this message in another letter to Lady Blessington, written in the
following year:—

“Do not let your nieces forget me, if you can help it, and give my love
to Count d’Orsay, with many thanks to him for his charming letter. I was
greatly amused by his account of ⸺. There was a cold shade of aristocracy
about it, and a dampness of cold water, which entertained me beyond

There were three dandies in this Gore House circle of strangely different
temperaments and abilities. Dickens, a thorough Englishman in almost
every habit and instinct, who dressed violently rather than well, sported
somewhat fantastic costumes simply because it was the fashion so to do
among the young men with whom his growing fame had brought him into
contact. In the inner meaning of the word Dickens was no dandy, but
simply a dressy man; his was not the dandiacal temper. Of this, indeed,
there was far more in the Oriental Disraeli, though he, like his _Vivian
Grey_, used high dressing as a pose. Whatever he undertook he loved to do
well, and in his youth even to do to extremes. The effeminate dandy pose
was excellently acted in the following which he tells of himself, writing
from Malta to his father in 1830:—

“Affectation tells here even better than wit. Yesterday, at the racket
court, sitting in the gallery among strangers, the ball entered, and
lightly struck me and fell at my feet. I picked it up, and observing a
young rifleman excessively stiff, I humbly requested him to forward its
passage into the court, as I really had never thrown a ball in my life.
This incident has been the general subject of conversation at all the
messes to-day!”

And this from Gibraltar:—

“Tell my mother that as it is the fashion among the dandies of this
place—that is, the officers, for there are no others—not to wear
waistcoats in the morning, her new studs come into fine play and maintain
my reputation of being a great judge of costume, to the admiration and
envy of many subalterns. I have also the fame of being the first who
ever passed the Straits with two canes, a morning and an evening cane. I
change my cane as the gun fires, and hope to carry them both on to Cairo.
It is wonderful the effect these magical wands produce. I owe to them
even more attention than to being the supposed author of—what is it?—I

Disraeli in his dress had a touch of the fantastic, as thus, when he
appeared at a dinner party attired in a coat of black velvet lined with
satin, purple trousers with a gold stripe down the seam, a scarlet
waistcoat, lace ruffles down to the fingers’ tips, white gloves with
rings worn outside them and his hair in long, black ringlets.

Dickens was only a clothes-deep dandy; Disraeli was a true dandy as far
as he went, but he did not go all the way. He trifled with politics,
he did not realise that to be a perfect, complete dandy, calls for the
devotion of a lifetime. D’Orsay made no such mistake; he was a dandy
through and through and all the way; a dandy in love affairs, in his
toilet, in his clothes, in his sport, and in all the arts of life from
cookery down to sculpture. Thus it must be with every great man; he aims
at one target, pulls his bow with all his strength, and shoots only at
that one mark. D’Orsay had but one aim, to lead a life of dandified



Charles Sumner writes in March 1840: “Lady Blessington is as pleasant
and time-defying as ever, surrounded till one or two of the morning with
her brilliant circle.… Prince Napoleon is always there, and of course

Says Edmund Yates, writing of the great folk in Hyde Park at a later

“There, in a hooded cabriolet, the fashionable vehicle for
men-about-town, with an enormous champing horse, and the trimmest of
tiny grooms—‘tigers,’ as they were called—half standing on the footboard
behind, half swinging in the air, clinging on to the straps, would be
Count d’Orsay, with clear-cut features and raven hair, the king of the
dandies, the cynosure of all eyes, the greatest ‘swell’ of the day. He
was an admirable whip—he is reported on one occasion, by infinite spirit
and dash, to have cut the wheel off a brewer’s dray which was bearing
down upon his light carriage, and to have spoken of it afterwards as ‘the
triumph of mind over matter’—and always drove in faultless white kid
gloves, with his shirt wristbands turned back over his coat-cuffs, and
his whole ‘turn-out’ was perfection. By his side was occasionally seen
Prince Louis Napoleon, an exile too, after his escape from Ham, residing
in lodgings in King Street, St James’—he pointed out the house to the
Empress Eugénie when, as Emperor of the French, on his visit to Queen
Victoria, he drove by it. He was a constant visitor of Lady Blessington’s
at Gore House. Albert Smith, in later years, used to say he wondered
whether, if he called at the Tuileries, the Emperor would pay him ‘that
eighteenpence,’ the sum which one night at Gore House he borrowed from A.
S. to pay a cabman.”

A strange, almost uncanny personage in some ways, this Louis Napoleon,
with his dogged, not to be daunted belief in his high destiny.

George Augustus Sala thus describes him:—

“A short, slight form he had, and not a very graceful way of standing.
His complexion was swarthily pale, if I may be allowed to make use of
that somewhat paradoxical expression. His hair struck me as being of a
dark brown; it was much lighter in after years; and while his cheeks
were clean-shaven, the lower part of his face was concealed by a thick
moustache and an ‘imperial’ or chin-tuft. He was gorgeously arrayed in
the dandy evening costume of the period … he wore a satin ‘stock,’ green,
if I am not mistaken; and in the centre of that stock was a breastpin in
the image of a gold eagle encircled with diamonds.”

Shee notes in May 1839, of an evening at Gore House: “Among the company
last night was Prince Louis Napoleon. He was quiet, silent, and
inoffensive, as, to do him justice, he generally is, but he does not
impress one with the idea that he has inherited his uncle’s talents any
more than his fortunes. He went away before the circle quite broke up,
leaving, like Sir Peter Teazle, ‘his character behind him,’ and the few
remaining did not spare him, but discussed him in a tone that was far
from flattering. D’Orsay, however, who came in later with Lord Pembroke,
stood up manfully for his friend, which was pleasant to see.”

Said D’Orsay: “C’est un brave garçon, mais pas d’esprit”; yet stood
manfully by him.

There is not the slightest doubt that very intimate relations existed
between D’Orsay and Louis Napoleon during his days of exile in England.
Napoleon III. was the son of Louis Napoleon, King of Holland and his
wife Hortense, whom Lady Blessington met in Italy. Of this meeting the
following entry from Lady Blessington’s Journal, dated Rome, March 1828,
is a quite interesting account:—

“Though prepared to meet in Hortense Bonaparte, ex-Queen of Holland, a
woman possessed of no ordinary powers of captivation, she has, I confess,
far exceeded my expectations. I have seen her frequently; and spent two
hours yesterday in her society. Never did time fly with greater rapidity
than while listening to her conversation, and hearing her sing those
charming little French _romances_, written and composed by herself,
which, though I had always admired them, never previously struck me as
being so expressive and graceful as they now prove to be. Hortense, or
the Duchesse de St Leu, as she is at present styled, is of the middle
stature, slight and well formed; her feet and ankles remarkably fine;
and her whole _tournure_ graceful, and distinguished. Her complexion and
hair are fair, and her countenance is peculiarly expressive; its habitual
character being mild and pensive, until animated by conversation, when
it becomes arch and _spirituelle_. I know not that I ever encountered a
person with so fine a tact, or so quick an apprehension, as the Duchesse
de St Leu: these give her the power of rapidly forming an appreciation
of those with whom she comes in contact; and of suiting the subjects of
conversation to their tastes and comprehensions. Thus, with the grave
she is serious, with the lively gay; and with the scientific, she only
permits just a sufficient extent of her own _savoir_ to be revealed to
encourage the development of theirs. She is, in fact, ‘all things to all
men,’ without at the same time losing a single portion of her own natural
character; a peculiarity of which seems to be, the desire, as well as the
power, of sending away all who approach her satisfied with themselves,
and delighted with her. Yet there is no unworthy concession of opinions
made, or tacit acquiescence yielded to conciliate popularity; she assents
to, or dissents from, the sentiments of others, with a mildness and good
sense that gratifies those with whom she coincides, or disarms those from
whom she differs. The only flattery she condescends to practise is that
most refined and delicate of all, the listening with marked attention to
the observations of those with whom she converses; and this tacit symptom
of respect to others is not more the result of an extreme politeness,
than of a fine nature, attentive to the feelings of those around her.…

“It is not often that a woman so accomplished unites the more solid
attraction of a highly-cultivated mind: yet in Hortense this is the
case; for, though a perfect musician, a most successful amateur in
drawing, and mistress of three languages, she is well read in history
and _belles-lettres_; has an elementary knowledge of the sciences, and
a general acquaintance with the works of the most esteemed authors
of ancient and modern times. Her remarks denote an acute perception,
and a superior understanding; and are delivered with such a perfect
freedom from all assumption of the self-conceit of a _bas-bleu_, or the
dictatorial style of one accustomed to command attention, that they
acquire an additional charm from the modest grace with which they are

“She showed me her diamonds yesterday, and some of them are magnificent,
particularly the necklace presented to the Empress Josephine by the city
of Paris. It is a _rivière_ of large diamonds, of such immense value
that none but a sovereign, or some of our own princely nobility, could
become the purchaser. Her other diamonds are very fine, and consist of
many _parures_, some presented to her as Queen of Holland; and others
bequeathed to her, with the necklace, by her mother. Her bed, furniture,
and toilette service of gilt plate, are very magnificent, and are the
same that served her in her days of regal state. The arrangement of her
apartments indicates a faultless taste, uniting elegance and comfort
with grandeur. She has some fine portraits of Napoleon and Josephine in
her possession: on our contemplating them, she referred to her mother
with as much sensibility as if her death had been recent.

“Prince Louis Bonaparte lives with his mother, and never did I witness
a more devoted attachment than subsists between them. He is a fine,
high-spirited youth, admirably well educated, and highly accomplished,
uniting to the gallant bearing of a soldier all the politeness of a
_preux chevalier_; but how could he be otherwise, brought up with such
a mother? Prince Louis Bonaparte is much beloved and esteemed by all
who know him, and is said to resemble his uncle, the Prince Eugène
Beauharnois (_sic_), no less in person than in mind; possessing his
generous nature, personal courage, and high sense of honour.”

It is not necessary to follow in any detail the career of Louis Napoleon,
so we will skip on to the year 1840, when on 6th August he made his
absurd descent upon France, landing at Boulogne with about sixty

Lord Malmesbury, who was often a visitor at Gore House, mentions a
curious little happening.

“_7th August._—News arrived this morning of Louis Napoleon having landed
yesterday morning at Boulogne with fifty followers. None of the soldiers,
however, having joined him, the attempt totally failed, and he and most
of those who accompanied him were taken. This explains an expression
he used to me two evenings ago. He was standing on the steps of Lady
Blessington’s house after a party, wrapped up in a cloak, with Persigny
by him, and I observed to them: ‘You look like two conspirators,’ upon
which he answered: ‘You may be nearer right than you think.’”

Disraeli writes on the same day:—

“The morning papers publish two editions, and Louis Napoleon, who
last year at Bulwer’s nearly drowned us by his bad rowing, has now
upset himself at Boulogne. Never was anything so rash and crude to all
appearances as this ‘invasion,’ for he was joined by no one. A fine house
in Carlton Gardens, his Arabian horses, and excellent cook was hardly
worse than his present situation.”

He was captured, tried, condemned to perpetual imprisonment, and
consigned to the fortress of Ham, where he remained for five years, and
then escaped to England.

On August 2nd, 1840, Planché relates that he went between ten and eleven
to Gore House, where there had been a small dinner party, of which four
men had stayed on, Lord Nugent, “Poodle” Byng, and two strangers. “The
youngest immediately engaged my attention. It was the fashion in that
day to wear black satin kerchiefs for evening dress; and that of the
gentleman in question was fastened by a large spread eagle in diamonds,
clutching a thunderbolt of rubies. There was but one man in England at
that period who, without the impeachment of coxcombry, could have sported
so magnificent a jewel; and, though I had never to my knowledge seen him
before, I felt convinced that he could be no other than Prince Louis
Napoleon. Such was the fact; and his companion was Count Montholon.”
Planché walked home with Nugent and Byng, one of whom remarked: “What
could Louis Napoleon mean by asking us to dine with him this day
twelvemonths at the Tuileries?” The ill-starred landing at Boulogne a few
days later explained the mystery.

But earlier in this same year (1840), D’Orsay had supported the Prince in
another adventure.

For many years a peculiar Count Léon had been looked on as one of
the curiosities of Paris; in appearance he was an enlarged replica
of Napoleon the Great, which was not surprising seeing that he was
reputed—probably wrongly—to be his son by the Polish Countess Walewska.
Napoleon provided for the education of his offspring, who in 1830
attained the dignity of a colonelcy in the Legion of the Garde Nationale.

In February 1840, Count Léon came over to London, it being absurdly
stated afterward that he had been entrusted by the Tuileries with the
pleasing duty of removing Louis Napoleon.

The Prince refused to receive the Count, from whom after some heated
correspondence he received a challenge, borne by Lieutenant-Colonel
Ratcliffe. Léon refused to engage with swords, so pistols were decided
upon; the hour chosen being seven o’clock on the morning of 3rd March,
and the place Wimbledon Common. Napoleon was accompanied by D’Orsay and
Colonel Parquin. It was not until the parties were on the ground that
Count Léon raised the difficulty about the weapons to be used, and the
delay caused by the discussion on the point gave time to the authorities
to arrive and put an end to the contemplated breach of the peace. The
upshot of this fiasco was an appearance at Bow Street. Before the Court
proceeded to deal with the ordinary night charges, Prince Louis and Count
Léon were charged before Mr Jardine with having attempted a breach of the
peace by fighting a duel; Ratcliffe, Parquin, D’Orsay, and Martial Kien,
a servant, were brought in as being aiders and abettors. They were all
“bound over,” Mr Joshua Bates, of Baring Brothers, becoming surety for
Prince Louis and Colonel Parquin, and the Honourable Francis Baring for
D’Orsay. So ended the encounter.

On January 13th, 1841, Napoleon wrote from Ham to Lady Blessington, in
reply to a letter from her:—

“I am very grateful for your remembrance, and I think with grief that
none of your previous letters have reached me. I have received from Gore
House only one letter, from Count d’Orsay, which I hastened to answer
when I was at the Conciergerie. I bitterly regret that my letter was
intercepted, for in it I expressed all the gratitude at the interest he
took in my misfortunes.… My thoughts often wander to the place where you
live, and I recall with pleasure the time I have passed in your amiable
society, which the Count d’Orsay still brightens with his frank and
_spirituel_ gaiety.”

On the 26th of May 1846, there was gathered together a gay dinner-party
at Gore House, among those assembled, beside the host and hostess, being
Landor and John Forster. A message was brought in to D’Orsay that a
person, who preferred not to give his name, desired to see him. To the
amazement of D’Orsay the unknown turned out to be Louis Napoleon, just
landed after his escape from Ham. He came in and entertained the party
with a vivacious account of his adventures.

Serjeant Ballantine describes a curious visit paid to him at his chambers
in June 1847 by Louis Napoleon and D’Orsay, which certainly strengthens
the statements made by others that the dandy was upon very intimate
terms with the prince. The visit was concerned with some of Napoleon’s
money-raising endeavours, which had resulted in his being swindled by
a rascally bill-discounter, but in which the Serjeant could not assist
to right the wrong. Ballantine dubs D’Orsay, “the prince of dandies,”
adding that he “never saw a man who in personal qualities surpassed
him”; continuing, he “was courteous to everyone, and kindly. He put the
companions of his own sex perfectly at their ease, and delighted them
with his varied conversation, and I never saw anyone whose manner to
ladies was more pleasing and deferential.”

Louis Philippe toppled over; a Republic was set up in February 1848,
and Napoleon promptly and effectively took advantage of the situation
thus created to push himself to the front. In December of the same year
he was elected President. The oath that he swore on the occasion was:
“In the presence of God and before the French people represented by the
National Assembly, I swear to remain faithful to the Democratic Republic,
one and indivisible, and to fulfil all the duties imposed on me by the
Constitution.” And on the 2nd of December 1851, he dissolved the said
Assembly, upset the Republic, and shortly became Napoleon III, Emperor of
the French.

Among Napoleon’s English advisers was Albany Fonblanque, who through
D’Orsay sent him some suggestions as to the policy it would be wise for
the President of the French Republic to pursue. How far that advice
promised to produce fruit, the following letter shows:—

                                  “GORE HOUSE, _26th January 1849_.

    “MON CHER FONBLANQUE,—J’espère que vous avez vu que notre
    conseil à été écouté; les réductions dans l’armée et la marine
    sont très fortes, et Napoleon à éprouvé, je vous assure, une
    grande opposition pour en arriver là. L’armée, qui était en
    1845 de 502,196 hommes et de 100, 432 horses, sera réduite
    en 1849 à 380,824 hommes et 92,410 chevaux. Le Budget de la
    Marine est diminué de vingt deux millions et plus; la flotte en
    activité est réduite à dix vaisseaux de ligne, huit frégates,
    etc.—et il y a aussi une grande réduction dans les travaux des
    arsenaux. Tout cela devrait plaire à John Bull et à Cobden.
    Je vous promets que ces réductions n’en resteront pas là;
    mais il faut considérer la difficulté qu’il y a de toucher
    aux joujoux des enfants français, car chez nous l’armée est
    l’objet principal; chez vous ce n’est qu’un accessoire. Votre


Madden, in his description of this “man-mystery,” for once in a way is
graphic. “I watched his pale, corpse-like, imperturbable features, not
many months since, for a period of three hours. I saw eighty thousand men
in arms pass before him, and I never observed a change in his countenance
or an expression in his look which would enable the bystander to say
whether he was pleased or otherwise at the stirring scene.… He did not
speak to those around him, except at very long intervals, and then with
an air of _nonchalance_, of _ennui_ and eternal occupation with self;
he rarely spoke a syllable to his uncle, Jérôme Bonaparte, who was on
horseback somewhat behind him.… He gave me the idea of a man who had
a perfect reliance on himself, and a feeling of complete control over
those around him. But there was a weary look about him, an aspect of
excessive watchfulness, an appearance of want of sleep, of over-work,
of over-indulgence, too, that gives an air of exhaustion to face and
form, and leaves an impression on the mind of a close observer that the
machine of the body will break down soon, and suddenly—or the mind will
give way—under the pressure of pent-up thoughts and energies eternally
in action, and never suffered to be observed or noticed by friends or

[Illustration: NAPOLEON III

(_By D’Orsay_)


Louis Napoleon is, as everybody knows, the Colonel Albert who plays so
large a part in Lord Beaconsfield’s unjustly neglected _Endymion_, quite
one of the most delightful of his novels, although it contains that
strange caricature of Thackeray in the grotesque personage of St Barbe.

Says “Colonel Albert”:—“… I am the child of destiny. That destiny will
again place me on the throne of my fathers. That is as certain as I am
now speaking to you. But destiny for its fulfilment ordains action. Its
decrees are inexorable, but they are obscure, and the being whose career
it directs is as a man travelling in a dark night; he reaches his goal
even without the aid of stars and moon.”

Louis Napoleon emerged from the dark night of his exile and sat in the
limelight that beats upon a throne, and he achieved his destiny without
accepting the aid or advice of his friend, D’Orsay. He did not trust the
latter with his counsels and could scarcely have been expected to ask him
to accompany him to France. D’Orsay would have been the central figure;
the Prince of the Dandies would have basked in the popularity which the
future Emperor of the French knew he must focus upon himself.

After his escape to London from Ham, Louis Napoleon, however, does seem
to have consulted with D’Orsay, and acting upon his advice to have
written to the French Ambassador to the Court of St James, stating that
it was his intention to settle down quietly as a private individual;
which statement was doubtless taken for what it was worth. D’Orsay
may have helped, also, toward Napoleon’s election as President by
interesting friends in his cause, but of the schemes upon the empty
imperial throne D’Orsay appears to have been ignorant. Indeed, he went
so far as to express his opinion of the _coup d’état_, that “it is the
greatest political swindle that ever has been practised in the world!”

The following letter to Landor from Lady Blessington is interesting:—

                                 “GORE HOUSE, _28th February 1848_.

    “I will not admit that the eruption of the Parisian volcano has
    brought out only cinders from your brain, _au contraire_, the
    lava is glowing and full of fire—your honest indignation has
    been ignited and has sent forth a bright flame.

    “It gave me great pleasure to see your handwriting again, for
    I had thought it long since I had heard from you. I saw it
    stated to-day in the _Daily News_ that Count d’Orsay had set
    out for Paris with Prince Louis. This report is wholly untrue.
    Prince Louis has gone to Paris alone. Here no one pities
    Louis Philippe, nor has the report of his death mitigated the
    indignation excited against him. His family are to be pitied,
    for I believe they were not implicated in his crooked policy.
    Seldom has vengeance so rapidly overtaken guilt.”

Still more interesting this from Landor to Lady Blessington, written
about a year later, on 9th January 1849—

    “Possibly you may never have seen the two articles I enclose. I
    inserted in the _Examiner_ another, deprecating the anxieties
    which a truly patriotic and, in my opinion, a singularly wise
    man, was about to encounter, in accepting the Presidency of
    France. Necessity will compel him to assume the Imperial Power,
    to which the voice of the army and people will call him.

    “You know (who know not only my writings, but my heart) how
    little I care for station. I may therefore tell you safely,
    that I feel a great interest, a great anxiety, for the welfare
    of Louis Napoleon. I told him if ever he were again in prison,
    I would visit him there; but never, if he were upon a throne,
    would I come near him. He is the only man living who would
    adorn one, but thrones are my aversion and abhorrence. France,
    I fear, can exist in no other condition. Her public men are
    greatly more able than ours, but they have less integrity.
    Every Frenchman is by nature an intriguer. It was not always
    so, to the same extent; but nature is modified, and even
    changed, by circumstances. Even garden statues take their form
    from clay.

    “God protect the virtuous Louis Napoleon, and prolong in
    happiness the days of my dear, kind friend, Lady Blessington.

                                                         “W. S. L.”

    “I wrote a short letter to the President, and not of
    congratulation. May he find many friends as disinterested and

Wellington also judged Napoleon’s rise to power in France as propitious,
and wrote to D’Orsay on 9th April 1849:—“_Je me réjouis de la prospérité
de la France et du succès de M. le Président de la République. Tout tend
vers la permanence de la paix de l’Europe qui est nécessaire pour le
bonheur de chacun. Votre ami très devoué._


Though D’Orsay was not Napoleon’s active ally, he watched his progress
with interest, and, despite the opinion he held of the means employed,
apparently with approbation also up to a point. To Madden on the first
day of the Presidential election, a Sunday—but really we must here have
Madden’s own words:—“He came to my house before church-time, and diverted
me from graver duties, to listen to his confident anticipations of the
result of that memorable day. ‘Think,’ said he, ‘what is the ordinary
November weather in Paris: and here is a beautiful day. I have watched
the mercury in my garden. I have seen where is the wind, and I tell you,
that on Paris is what they will call the sun of Austerlitz. To-morrow you
shall hear that, while we are now talking, they vote for him with almost
one mind, and that he has the absolute majority.’”

And later, he wrote to Richard Lane, the artist: “_Rely upon it, he
will do more for France than any sovereign has done for the last two
centuries, if only they give him time._”

Even previous to this exciting period, at the time of the Boulogne
descent, Lady Blessington was shedding ink in the defence of D’Orsay;
writing to Henry Bulwer:—

                                “GORE HOUSE, _17th September 1840_.

    “I am never surprised at evil reports, however unfounded, still
    less so at any acts of friendship and manliness on your part.…
    Alfred is at Doncaster, but he charges me to authorise you to
    contradict, in the most positive terms, the reports about his
    having participated in, or even known, of the intentions of
    the Prince Louis. Indeed, had he suspected them, he would have
    used every effort in his power to dissuade him from putting
    them into execution. Alfred, as well as I, entertain the
    sincerest regard for the Prince, with whom, for fourteen years,
    we have been on terms of intimacy; but of his plans we knew no
    more than you did. Alfred by no means wishes to conceal his
    attachment to the Prince, and still less that any exculpation
    of himself should in any way reflect on him; but who so well as
    you, whose tact and delicacy are equal to your good-nature, can
    fulfil the service to Alfred that we require?

    “Lady C⸺ [15] writes to me that _I_, too, am mixed up in the
    reports. But I defy the malice of my greatest enemy to prove
    that I ever dreamt of the Prince’s intentions or plans.”

Both D’Orsay and Lady Blessington had to do with Napoleon as Emperor.

D’Orsay, to a certain extent, tried to run both with the fox and with
the hounds, for, in 1841, an attempt was made to procure for him the
appointment of Secretary to the French Embassy in London. The Count St
Aulaire was then Ambassador, and much influence was brought to bear upon
him in this matter.

Among Lady Blessington’s papers was found the following memorandum by
her, which throws considerable light upon this affair:—

    “With regard to the intentions relative to our Count, there
    is not even a shadow of truth in them. Alfred never was
    presented here at Court, and never would, though I, as well as
    his other friends, urged it: his motive (for declining) being,
    never having left his name at any of the French Ambassadors of
    Louis Philippe (not even at Count Sebastiani’s, a connection
    of his own) or at Marshal Soult’s, also nearly connected with
    his family, he could not ask to be presented at Court by the
    French Ambassador, and did not think it right to be presented
    by anyone else … and the etiquette of not having been engaged
    to meet the Queen, unless previously presented at Court, is too
    well known to admit of any mistake.… I enter into these details
    merely to show the utter falsehoods which have been listened
    to against Alfred. Now with regard to his creditors, his
    embarrassments have been greatly exaggerated; and when the sale
    of the northern estates in Ireland shall have been effected,
    which must be within a year, he will be released from all his
    difficulties.[16] In the meantime he has arranged matters, by
    getting time from his creditors. So that all the fuss made by
    the nomination, being only sought as a protection from them,
    falls to the ground.… I mention all these facts to show how
    ill Alfred has been treated. If the appointment in London is
    still deemed impracticable, why should not they offer him the
    secretaryship at Madrid, which is vacant?

    “Alfred entrusted the affair (of the appointment) to M⸺ and
    W⸺. He received positive assurances from both that he would
    receive an appointment in the French Embassy here, and that
    it was only necessary, as a mere matter of etiquette, that
    St Aulaire was to ask for his nomination to have it granted.
    The assurances were so positive that he could not doubt them,
    and he accordingly acted on them. The highest eulogies on
    Alfred’s abilities and power of rendering service to the French
    Government were voluntarily pronounced to St Aulaire by Lord
    B⸺, the Duke of B⸺, and other persons of distinction. M. St
    Aulaire, not satisfied with these honourable testimonies,
    consulted a _coterie_ of foolish women, and listening to their
    malicious gossiping, he concluded that the nomination would not
    be popular in London, and so was afraid to ask for it.

    “It now appears that the Foreign Office at Paris is an
    inquisition into the private affairs of those who have the
    misfortune to have any reference to it; a bad plan when clever
    men are so scarce in France, and particularly those well-born
    and well-connected: a Government like the present should be
    glad to catch any such that could be had.

                                              “MARGT. BLESSINGTON.”

To which may be added a letter from Henry Bulwer to Lady Blessington,
written in December 1841:—

    “MY DEAR LADY BLESSINGTON,—I think D’Orsay wrong in these
    things you refer to: to have asked for London especially, and
    not to have informed me[17] how near the affair was to its
    maturity when St Aulaire went to the D. of B⸺’s, because I
    might then have prepared opinion for it here; whereas, I first
    heard the affair mentioned in a room, where I had to contend
    against every person present, when I stated what I think—that
    the appointment would have been a very good one. But it does
    not now signify talking about the matter, and saying that I
    should have wished our friend to have given the matter rather
    an air of doing a favour than of asking one. It is right to
    say that he has acted most honourably, delicately, and in a
    way which ought to have served him, though, perhaps, it is not
    likely to do so. The French Ambassador did not, I think, wish
    for the nomination. M. Guizot, I imagine, is, at this moment,
    afraid of anything that might excite discussion and opposition,
    and it is idle to disguise from you that D’Orsay, both in
    England and here, has many enemies. The best service I can do
    him is by continuing to speak of him as I have done amongst
    influential persons, viz., as a man whom the Government would
    do well to employ; and my opinion is, that if he continues to
    wish for and to seek employment, he will obtain it in the end.
    But I don’t think he will obtain the situation he wished for
    in London, and I think it may be some little time before he
    gets such a one as he ought to have, and that would suit him.
    The Secretaryship in Spain would be an excellent thing, and I
    would aid the Marshal in anything he might do or say respecting
    it. I shall be rather surprised, however, if the present man
    is recalled. Well do not let D’Orsay lose courage. Nobody
    succeeds in these things just at the moment he desires: ⸺,
    with his position here” (speaking of a French nobleman), “has
    been ten years getting made an ambassador, and at last is so
    by a fortunate chance. Remember also how long it was, though I
    was in Parliament, and had some little interest, before I was
    myself fairly launched in the _diplomatic career_. Alfred has
    all the qualities for success in anything, but he must give the
    same trouble and pains to the pursuit he now engages in that he
    has given to other pursuits previously. At all events, though
    I speak frankly and merely what I think to him, I am here and
    always a sincere and affectionate friend, and most desirous to
    prove myself so.”

To Madden, Henry Bulwer expressed the opinion:—“It was altogether a great
pity D’Orsay was not employed, for he was not only fit to be so, but to
make a most useful and efficient agent, had he been appointed.”

But Governments, as well as individuals, are fallible, and often blind
to their best interests. Yet it really is difficult to understand why
D’Orsay was refused his modest request; what more distinguished ornament
to an Embassy could be desired than a splendid libertine and a man
distinguished for the vastness of his debts? Unfortunately, mediocrity
succeeds often enough when transcendent genius fails.


W. S. L.

Walter Savage Landor, who was born in 1775, lived on hale and hearty till
1864. As he himself wrote:—

    “I warm’d both hands before the fire of life;
    It sinks, and I am ready to depart.”

He was, as we have seen, the very good friend of both D’Orsay and Lady
Blessington, whom he first met when he was living in Italy.

In a letter to Lady Blessington, in 1837, Landor presented her with his
autobiography in brief:—

“Walter Landor, of Ipsley Court, in the county of Warwick, married first,
Maria, only daughter and heiress of J. Wright, Esq., by whom he had an
only daughter, married to her cousin, Humphrey Arden, Esq., of Longcroft,
in Staffordshire; secondly, Elizabeth, eldest daughter and co-heiress of
Charles Savage, of Tachebrooke, who brought about eighty thousand pounds
into the family. The eldest son of this marriage, Walter Savage Landor,
was born 30th January 1775. He was educated at Rugby—his private tutor
was Dr Heath, of St Paul’s. When he had reached the head of the school,
he was too young for college, and was placed under the private tuition
of Mr Langley of Ashbourne. After a year, he was entered at Trinity
College, Oxford, where the learned Beonwell was his private tutor. At
the peace of Amiens, he went to France, but returned at the end of the

“In 1808, on the first insurrection of Spain, in June he joined the
Viceroy of Gallicia, Blake. The _Madrid Gazette_ of August mentions
a gift from him of twenty thousand reals. On the extinction of the
Constitution, he returned to Don P. Cavallos the tokens of royal
approbation, in no very measured terms. In 1811, he married Julia,
daughter of J. Thuillier de Malaperte, descendant and representative of
J. Thuillier de Malaperte, Baron de Nieuveville, first gentleman of the
bedchamber to Charles the Eighth. He was residing at Tours, when, after
the battle of Waterloo, many other Englishmen, to the number of four
thousand, went away. He wrote to Carnot that he had no confidence in
the moderation or honour of the Emperor, but resolved to stay, because
he considered the danger to be greater in the midst of a broken army. A
week afterwards, when this wretch occupied Tours, his house was the only
one without a billet. In the autumn of that year, he retired to Italy.
For seven or eight years, he occupied the Palazzo Medici, in Florence,
and then bought the celebrated villa of Count Gherardesea, at Fiesole,
with its gardens, and two farms, immediately under the ancient villa of
Lorenzo de Medici. His visits to England have been few and short.”

This is but the bare bones of a very interesting life; but its very
bluntness seems to illustrate the character of its writer, a member
of the _genus irritabile_, whom many hated, many loved and most men
admired. For several years he made his home at Bath, living there from
1838 to 1858, when again he retired to Italy, where he died at Florence.

He is, perhaps, best known to the world at large under the slight
disguise of Lawrence Boythorn in _Bleak House_.

Charles Sumner describes him thus in 1838:—“Dressed in a heavy frock-coat
of snuff colour, trousers of the same colour, and boots … with an open
countenance, firm and decided, and a head grey and inclining to baldness
… conversation … not varied, but it was animated and energetic in the
extreme. We crossed each other several times; he called Napoleon the
weakest, littlest man in history.”

Forster’s account is more vivid:—

“He was not above the middle stature, but had a short stalwart presence,
walked without a stoop, and in his general aspect, particularly the set
and carriage of his head, was decidedly of what is called a distinguished
bearing. His hair was already silvered grey, and had retired far upward
from his forehead, which wide and full but retreating, could never in
the earlier time have been seen to such advantage. What at first was
noticeable, however, in the broad white massive head, were the full yet
strangely-lifted eyebrows. In the large, grey eyes there was a depth
of compound expression that ever startled by its contrast to the eager
restlessness looking out from the surface of them; and in the same
variety and quickness of transition the mouth was extremely striking. The
lips, that seemed compressed with unalterable will would in a moment
relax to a softness more than feminine; and a sweeter smile it was
impossible to conceive.”

Carlyle says that “he was really stirring company; a proud, irascible,
trenchant, yet generous, veracious and very dignified old man; quite a
ducal or royal man in the temper of him.”

He was very frequently at Gore House, and they must have made a curious
trio, the fascinating Lady Blessington, the ducal Landor and dandy

He addressed these lines to her:—

    “What language, let me think, is meet
    For you, well called the Marguerite.
    The Tuscan has too weak a tone,
    Too rough and rigid is our own;
    The Latin—no—it will not do,
    The Attic is alone for you.”

Of some of his many visits here are a few notes:—

Writing Friday, 7th May 1841:—

“I did not leave my cab at Gore House gate until a quarter past six. My
kind hostess and D’Orsay were walking in the garden and never was more
cordial reception. After dinner we went to the English opera, _The Siege
of Rochelle_ and _A Day at Turin_. Nothing could be worse than the first
except the second. The Hanoverian minister, very attentive to Miss Power,
a Carlist viscount, and Lord Pembroke were the only persons who stayed
any time in the box,” and on 8th May he writes again from Gore House: “We
went this evening to the German Opera. Never was music so excellent. The
pieces were _A Night in Grenada_ and _Fidelio_. Madame Schodel sings
divinely, and her acting is only inferior to Pasta’s.… Both D’Orsay and
Lord Pembroke were enchanted with Madame Schodel, and Lady B. and Miss
Power, both good judges, and the latter a fine composer, were breathless.
To-night we go to the Italian Opera.”

Landor writing from Gore House in June 1842:

“We have not been to the Opera this evening, as Lord Pembroke and the
Duc de Guiche came to dinner. He is on a visit to Lord Tankerville, but
has the good taste to prefer the society he finds here, particularly
D’Orsay’s. D’Orsay was never in higher spirits or finer plumage.”

On July 20th he writes:—

“A few days after my arrival in town, the Duc de Grammont dined at Gore
House. He is on a visit to Lord Tankerville.… D’Orsay has just finished
an exquisite painting of the Duchesse.”

Then on September 7th:—

“I arrived at Gore House early on Monday. In the morning, beside Lord
Allen and some other people, there called Lord Auckland.… At dinner the
Duc de Guiche, Sir Francis Burdett and Sir Willoughby Cotton.… Those were
bright hours; even my presence could not interrupt their brilliancy.…
The Duc de Guiche left us this morning to shoot with his cousin, Lord
Ossulton.[18] We miss the liveliness of his conversation—he talked

When he was not at Gore House he kept up a very lively correspondence
with his two friends, some of which it will be useful to quote, for in
familiar letters we become almost on speaking terms with their writers,
and who of us would not be glad to chat with Lady Blessington, Landor and

This from her to him, when sending him her portrait:—

    “I send you the engraving, and have only to wish that it may
    sometimes remind you of the original. You are associated in my
    memory with some of my happiest days; you were the friend, and
    the highly-valued friend, of my dear and lamented husband, and
    as such, even without any of the numberless claims you have to
    my regard, you could not be otherwise than highly esteemed. It
    appears to me that I have not quite lost him, who made life
    dear to me, when I am near those he loved[19] and that knew
    how to value him. Five fleeting years have gone by since our
    delicious evenings on the lovely Arno, evenings never to be
    forgotten, and the recollections of which ought to cement the
    friendships then formed. This effect I can, in truth, say has
    been produced on me, and I look forward, with confidence, to
    keeping alive, by a frequent correspondence, the friendship you
    owe me, no less for that I feel for you, but as the widow of
    one you loved, and that truly loved you. We, or more properly
    speaking I, live in a world where friendship is little known,
    and were it not for one or two individuals like yourself, I
    might be tempted to exclaim with Socrates: ‘My friends, there
    are no friends.’ Let us prove that the philosopher was wrong,
    and if Fate has denied us the comfort of meeting, let us by
    letters keep up our friendly intercourse. You will tell me
    what you think and feel in your Tuscan retirement, and I will
    tell you what I do, in this modern Babylon, where thinking and
    feeling are almost unknown. Have I not reason to complain that
    in your sojourn in London you do not give me a single day? And
    yet methinks you promised to stay a week, and that of that week
    I should have my share. I rely on your promise of coming to see
    me again before you leave London, and I console myself for the
    disappointment of seeing so little of you, by recollecting the
    welcome and the happiness that await you at home. Long may you
    enjoy it, is the sincere wish of your attached friend,

                                                  “M. BLESSINGTON.”

He to her, in the shape of “bits” out of a long letter written from
Florence in March 1835:—

“Poor Charles Lamb, what a tender, good, joyous heart had he! What
playfulness! what purity of style and thought! His sister is yet living,
much older than himself. One of her tales is, with the sole exception of
the _Bride of Lammermoor_, the most beautiful tale in prose composition
in any language, ancient or modern. A young girl has lost her mother,
the father marries again, and marries a friend of his former wife. The
child is ill reconciled to it, but being dressed in new clothes for the
marriage, she runs up to her mother’s chamber, filled with the idea
how happy that dear mother would be at seeing her in all her glory—not
reflecting, poor soul, that it was only by her mother’s death that she
appeared in it. How natural, how novel is all this! Did you ever imagine
that a fresh source of the pathetic would burst forth before us in this
trodden and hardened world? I never did, and when I found myself upon it,
I pressed my temples with both hands, and tears ran down to my elbows.

“The Opium-eater calls Coleridge ‘the largest and most spacious
intellect, the subtlest and most comprehensive that has yet existed among
men.’ Impiety to Shakespeare! treason to Milton! I give up the rest, even
Bacon. Certainly, since their day, we have seen nothing at all comparable
to him. Byron and Scott were but as gun-flints to a granite mountain;
Wordsworth has one angle of resemblance; Southey has written more, and
all well, much admirably.…

“Let me add a few verses as usual:—

    ‘Pleasures—away, they please no more:
    Friends—are they what they were before?
    Loves—they are very idle things,
    The best about them are their wings.
    The dance—’tis what the bear can do;
    Music—I hate your music too.
    Whene’er these witnesses that time
    Hath snatch’d the chaplet from our prime
    And called by nature (as we go
    With eyes more wary, step more slow),
    And will be heard, and noted down,
    However we may fret or frown;
    Shall we desire to leave the scene
    Where all our former joys have been?
    No! ’twere ungrateful and unwise:
    But when die down our charities
    For human weal and human woes,
    ’Tis then the hour our days should close.’”

And this:—

“D’Orsay’s mind is always active. I wish it would put his pen in motion.
At this season of the year (January) I fancied he was at Melton. Does
not he lament that this bitter frost allows him no chance of breaking his
neck over gates and double hedges? Pray offer him my kind remembrances.”

And here a chatty little note from D’Orsay:—

“It is a fact, that my brave nephew has been acting the part of Adonis,
with a _sacré cochon_, who nearly opened his leg;[20] his presence of
mind was great, he was on his lame leg in time to receive the second
attack of the infuriated beast, and killed him on the spot, plunging a
_couteau de chasse_ through his heart—luckily the wild boar had one.
The romantic scene would have been complete, if there had been another
Gabrielle de Vergy looking at this modern Raoul de Courcy. We think and
speak of you often, and are in hopes that you will pay us a visit soon.
Poor Forster is ill and miserable at the loss of his brother. I am sure
that Forster is one of the best, honestest and kindest men that ever
lived. I had yesterday a letter from Eugene Sue, who is in raptures with
Macready as an actor and as a man. We saw lately that good, warm-hearted
Dickens—he spoke of you very affectionately.… —Most affectionately,




It behoves us now to pay some attention to D’Orsay’s claims as an artist;
if he had posed simply as an amateur, silence would be possible, but he
worked for money, entered the lists with other artists, and therefore
laid himself open to judgment. In his own day he was highly thought of
by many—here we have what was written of him in _La Presse_ on November
10th, 1850, when D’Orsay’s bust of Lamartine was exhibited:—

“M. le comte d’Orsay est un amateur de l’art plutôt qu’un artiste. Mais
qu’est-ce qu’un amateur? C’est un volontaire parmi les artistes; ce sont
souvent les volontaires qui font les coup d’éclat dans l’atelier comme
sur les champs de bataille. Qu’est ce qu’un amateur? C’est un artiste
dont le génie seul fait la vocation. Il est vrai qu’il ne reçoit pas dans
son enfance et pendant les premières années de sa vie cette éducation du
métier d’où sort Michel Ange, d’où sort Raphaél … mais s’il doit moins au
maître, il doit plus à la nature. Il est son œuvre.… M. d’Orsay exerça
dans les salons de Paris et de Londres la dictature Athénienne du goût
et de l’élégance. C’est un de ces hommes qu’on aurait cru préoccupé de
succès futiles,—parce que la nature semble les avoir créés uniquement
pour son plaisir—mais qui trompent la nature, et qui, après avoir
recueilli les légères admirations des jeunes gens et des femmes de leur
âge, échappent à cette atmosphère de légèreté avant le temps où ils
laissent ses idoles dans le vide, et se transforment par l’étude et par
le travail en hommes nouveaux, en hommes de mérite acquis et sérieux. M.
d’Orsay a habité longtemps l’Angleterre ou il donnait l’exemple et le
ton à cette société aristocratique, un peu raide et déforme, qui admire
surtout ce qui lui manque, la grâce et l’abandon des manières.…

“Dès cet époque, il commenca à jouer avec l’argile, le marbre, le ciseau,
liè par un attachement devenu une parenté d’esprit, avec une des plus
belles et des plus splendides femmes de son époque, il fit son buste
pendant qu’elle vivait; il le fit idéal et plus touchant après sa mort.
Il moula en formes après, rudes, sauvages, de grandeur fruste, les traits
paysanesque d’O’Connell. Ces bustes furent à l’instant vulgarisés en
millièrs d’exemplaires en Angleterre et à Paris. C’étaient des créations

“Ces premiers succès furent des plus complets. Il cherchait un visage.
Il en trouva un. Lord Byron, dont il fut l’ami et avec lequel il voyagea
pendant deux ans[21] en Italie, n’était plus qu’un souvenir aimé dans
son cœur.… Il fit le buste de Lamartine,…” and then there is something
approaching very closely to a rhapsody on this work of art, and then a
set of verses by Lamartine himself!

Debt drove D’Orsay to seek in art a means of adding to his income; in the
case of Mr. Mitchell of Bond Street, who published a series of portrait
drawings, it is even possible that he used his art to cancel his debt for
Opera boxes, etc.! These portraits were 14 inches high and 10½ inches
wide and were sold at 5s. each. The set must have been almost a pictorial
“Who’s Who,” and among those honoured with inclusion may be named Byron,
Disraeli, Theodore Hook, Carlyle, Liszt, D’Orsay himself, the Duke of
Wellington, Greville, Louis Napoleon, Bulwer Lytton, Trelawney, Landor,
Dickens, Lady Blessington, Henry Bulwer, Captain Marryat and Sir Edwin

Richard James Lane, the engraver and lithographer, saw much of D’Orsay,
and judging by the following letter held him in esteem:—

“As a patron, his kind consideration for my interest, and prompt
fulfilment of every engagement, never failed me for the more than twenty
years of my association with him; and the friendship that arose out of
our intercourse (and which I attest with gratitude) proceeded at a steady
pace, without the smallest check, during the same period; and remained
unbroken, when on his final departure from England, he continued to
give me such evidence of the constancy of his regard, as will be found
conveyed in his letters.

“In the sketches of the celebrities of Lady Blessington’s _salons_,
which he brought to me (amounting to some hundred and fifty, or more),
there was generally an appropriate expression and character, that I
found difficult to retain in the process of elaboration; and although I
may have improved upon them in the qualities for which I was trained, I
often found that the final touches of his own hand alone made the work

“Of the amount and character of the assistance of which the Count availed
himself, in the production of his pictures and models, I have a clear

“When a gentleman would rush into the practice of that which, in its
mechanism, demands experience and instruction, he avails himself of
the help of a craftsman, whose services are sought for painting-in the
subordinate parts, and working out his rude beginnings. In the first
rank of art, at this day, are others who, like the Count d’Orsay, have
been unprepared, excepting by the possession of taste and genius, for
the practice of art, and whose merits are in no way obscured by the
assistance which they _also_ freely seek in the manipulation of their
works; and it is no less easy to detect, in the pictures of the Count,
the precise amount of mechanical aid which he has received from another
hand, than the graces of character and feeling that are superadded by
his own. I have seen a rough model, executed entirely by himself, of
such extraordinary power and simplicity of design, that I begged him to
have it _moulded_, and not to proceed to the details of the work, until
he could first place this model side by side with the cast in clay, to
be worked up. He took my advice, and his equestrian statue of the first
Napoleon may fairly justify my opinion.

“In art, he had a heartfelt sympathy, a searching eye, and a critical
taste, fostered by habitual intercourse with some of our first artists.”

This letter from D’Orsay to Lane shows the Count in an amiable light:—

                                      “PARIS, _21st February 1850_.

    “MY DEAR LANE,—I cannot really express to you the extent of my
    sorrow about your dear and good family. You know that my heart
    is quite open to sympathy with the sorrows of others. But judge
    therefore, how it must be, when so great a calamity strikes a
    family like yours, which family I always considered one of the
    best I ever had the good fortune to know. What a trial for dear
    Mrs Lane, after so many cares, losing a son like yours, just
    at the moment that he was to derive the benefit of the good
    education you gave him.… There is no consolation to offer. The
    only one that I can imagine, is to think continually of the
    person lost, and to make oneself more miserable by thinking. It
    is, morally speaking, an homœopathic treatment, and the only
    one which can give some relief.… Give my most affectionate
    regards to your dear family, and believe me always—far or near.
    Your sincere friend,


In 1843 D’Orsay writes jestingly of himself: “I am poetising, modelling,
etc., etc. In fact, I begin to believe that I am a Michael Angelo

Concerning the Wellington statuette, D’Orsay writes to Madden: “You must
have seen by the newspapers that I have completed a great work, which
creates a revolution in the Duke of Wellington’s own mind, and that of
his family. It is a statuette on horseback of himself, in the costume
and at the age of the Peninsular war. They say that it will be a fortune
for me, as every regiment in the service will have one, as the Duke says
publicly, that it is the only work by which he desires to be known,
physically, by portraits. They say that he is very popular in Portugal
and Spain. I thought possibly that you could sell for me the copyright
at Lisbon, to some speculator to whom I could send the mould.”

Shortly before his death he completed a smaller equestrian statuette of
the Duke, an account of which was given in the _Morning Chronicle_ of
23rd December 1852:—

“One of the last of the late lamented Count d’Orsay’s studies was
a statuette of the Duke on horseback, the first copy of which, in
bronze, was carefully retouched and polished by the artist. The work is
remarkable for its mingled grace and sprightliness. The Duke, sitting
firmly back in his saddle, is reining in a pawing charger, charmingly
modelled, and a peculiar effect is obtained by the rider dividing the
reins, and stretching that on the left side completely back over the
thigh. The portrait is good, particularly that of the full face, and very
carefully finished, and the costume is a characteristic closely-fitting
military undress, with hanging cavalry sabre. Altogether, indeed, the
statuette forms a most agreeable memorial, not only of the Duke, but, in
some degree, of the gifted artist.”

Henry Vizetelly roundly states that there was no secrecy about the
help rendered to D’Orsay in his equestrian statuettes, etc., by T. H.
Nicholson, a draughtsman of horses, and that the faces of these works of
art were modelled by Behnes. He goes on to say: “The statuette of the
Duke of Wellington on horseback was undoubtedly Nicholson’s, and that
famous bust of the Iron Duke which was to make the fortune of the lucky
manufacturer who reproduced it in porcelain, is said to have been his and
Behnes’ joint work.”

Then follows this amusing story:—

“Sir Henry Cole—Old King Cole of the Brompton toilers,[22] and Felix
Flummery of the art-manufacture craze—used to tell an amusing story of
the high estimate, artistic and pecuniary, which D’Orsay set upon this
production. The Count had written to ask him to call at Gore House, and
on his proceeding there, after handing his card through the wicket, he
was cautiously admitted to the grounds and safely piloted between two
enormous mastiffs to the door of the house. He was then conducted to the
Count, whom he found pacing up and down Lady Blessington’s drawing-room
in a gorgeous dressing-gown.

“D’Orsay, Cole used to say, at once broke out with—‘You are a friend
of Mr Minton’s! I can make his fortune for him!’ Then turning to his
servant, ‘François,’ said he, ‘go to my studio and in the corner you will
find a bust. Cover it over with your handkerchief and bring it carefully
here.’ François soon returned carrying his burthen as tenderly as though
it were a baby, and when he had deposited it on the table, the Count
removed the handkerchief and posing before the bust with looks of rapt
admiration, he promptly asked Cole—

“‘What do you think of that?’

“‘It’s a close likeness,’ Cole cautiously replied.

“‘Likeness! indeed it is a likeness!’ shouted the Count, ‘why, Douro when
he saw it exclaimed: “D’Orsay, you quite appal me with the likeness to my

“The Count then confided to Cole that the Duke had given him four
sittings, after refusing, said he, a single sitting to ‘that fellow

“The Duke it seems came to inspect the bust after it was completed. In
D’Orsay’s biassed eyes he was as great in art as he was in war, and he
always went, the Count maintained, straight up to the finest thing in the
room to look at it. Naturally, therefore, he at once marched up to the
bust, paused, and shouted:—

“’”By God, D’Orsay, you have done what those damned busters never could

“The puff preliminary over, the Count next proceeded to business.

“‘The old Duke will not live for ever,’ he sagely remarked; ‘he must die
one of these days. Now, what I want you to do is to advise your friend
Minton to make ten thousand copies of that bust, to pack them up in his
warehouse and on the day of the Duke’s death to flood the country with
them, and heigh presto! his fortune is made.’

“The Count hinted that he expected a trifle of £10,000 for his copyright,
but Cole’s friend, Minton, did not quite see this, and proposed a royalty
upon every copy sold. D’Orsay, who was painfully hard up for ready cash,
indignantly spurned the offer.…”

D’Orsay is most generally known as an artist by reason of his large
portrait of the Duke of Wellington now in the National Portrait Gallery,
upon the completion of which the Duke is said to have shaken hands with
the painter, saying: “At last I have been painted like a gentleman!
I’ll never sit to anyone else.” And he certainly did write to Lady
Blessington:—“You are quite right. Count d’Orsay’s work is of a higher
description of art than is described by the word portrait! But I
described it by that word, because the likeness is so remarkably good,
and so well executed as a painting, and that this is the truest of all
artistic ability, truest of all in this country.” Which last sentence is
rather enigmatical.

Anent the statuette of O’Connell, referred to already, may be quoted a
letter written by D’Orsay on 16th March 1847 to John Forster:—

“Prince Napoleon told me to-night at the French play, that he read in
an evening paper, the _Globe_, I think, an article copied from an Irish
paper, stating that I had made a statuette of O’Connell, and praising it,
etc. I suppose that it is from Osborne Bernal,[23] who is in Ireland.
But I would be glad it were known that I have associated him in the
composition with the Catholic Emancipation, and also that I intend to
make a present of the copyright to Ireland, for the benefit of the
subscription for the poor.”

Of other works from his hand we may name the bust of Emile de Girardin, a
portrait of Sir Robert Peel, and the picture of which some details have
already been given, showing a group in the garden of Gore House.

We have already quoted an account of one visit paid by D’Orsay to Haydon,
here is that of a second, from an entry in the painter’s Diary, dated
31st June 1838:—

“About seven, D’Orsay called, whom I had not seen for long. He was much
improved, and looking the glass of fashion and the mould of form; really
a complete Adonis, not made up at all. He made some capital remarks, all
of which must be attended to. They were sound impressions, and grand.
He bounded into his cab, and drove off like a young Apollo, with a fiery
Pegasus. I looked after him. I like to see such specimens.”

In conclusion on this subject, from the _New Monthly Magazine_ of August
1845, this:—

“Whatever Count d’Orsay undertakes, seems invariably to be well done.
As the arbiter elegantiarum he has reigned supreme in matters of taste
and fashion, confirming the attempts of others by his approbation, or
gratifying them by his example. To dress, or drive, to shine in the gay
world like Count d’Orsay was once the ambition of the youth of England,
who then discovered in this model no higher attributes. But if time, who
‘steals our years away,’ steals also our pleasures, he replaces them with
others, or substitutes a better thing; and thus it has befallen with
Count d’Orsay.

“If the gay equipage, or the well-apparelled man be less frequently seen
than formerly, that which causes more lasting satisfaction, and leaves
an impression of a far more exalted nature, comes day by day into higher
relief, awakening only the regret that it should have been concealed so
long. When we see what Count d’Orsay’s productions are, we are tempted to
ask, with Malvolio’s feigned correspondent, ‘Why were these things hid?’”

All things considered we may write down Count d’Orsay as a quite
first-rate amateur, as skilful in the arts as any dandy has ever been.
What more fitting than that his skill and accomplishment were best shown
in his bust of Lady Blessington?


(_From the Bust by D’Orsay_)




D’Orsay, had he devoted his time and his mind to the matter, could
doubtless have attained high eminence as a painter and sculptor, but he
was wise and refused to be bitten by the temptation; he well knew that
there are many artists, but few dandies. The gifts that other men would
have cultivated exclusively, he used to heighten and perfect his genius
as a master of dandyship. It is perhaps the highest attribute of genius
to be able to recognise genius—in oneself; only mediocre men are modest.
Modesty is a sign of incompetency or stupidity.

Could D’Orsay have achieved greatness as a writer? Byron thought very
highly of the journal which, it will be remembered, D’Orsay wrote during
his first visit to London, but we cannot accept this criticism as final,
for the poet’s literary judgment was often faulty.

He is reputed to have been a contributor to some of the journals of the
day and he was put forward as the “editor” of the translation published
in London in 1847 of a French novel, _Marie, Histoire d’une Jeune Fille_.
But other men have gained fame with as little regular literary baggage as
the Count, literature in the form of familiar letters, written always,
or almost always, without a thought that they would meet the public eye.
Of casual letters we have a fair number of D’Orsay’s, and some of them
make quite pleasant reading. At any rate they are as good as those which
are not written by dandies, which is saying much, for dandies have many
important affairs to fill their time. They are chatty epistles, serve to
shed a light upon their writer’s character; by his letters to his friends
you may know the man.

Here is a note from him to Landor, written in September 1828:—

    “I have received, dear Mr Landor, your letter. It has given
    us great pleasure. You ought to feel sure that we should
    particularly appreciate a letter from you, and it will appear
    that our intimacy in Florence counted for nothing with you if
    you doubt the pleasure that your news arouses in us. As soon as
    I have received the pictures I will carry out your commission
    carefully. I do wish you would come to Paris, for we have some
    fine things to show you, particularly pictures. Apropos, I am
    sending you herewith the portrait of Prince Borghese, which I
    hope you will find to be a good likeness.… We talk and think
    often of you. It is really strange that you are in the odour of
    sanctity in this family, for it seems to me it is not exactly
    this sort of reputation you pique yourself on possessing.

    “Lady B. and all our ladies send you a thousand good wishes
    and I renew the assurance of the sincerity of mine.—Yours very


“All our ladies,” included Lady d’Orsay.

Then of a much later date, probably 1842 or 1843:—

    “I think that Henry the Eighth was at Richmond-on-the-Hill when
    Anne Boleyn was beheaded. They say that he saw the flag which
    was erected in London as soon as her head fell. Therefore, as
    you make him staying at Epping Forest at that time, and as I
    am sure you have some good reasons for it, I will thank you to
    give them to me.

    “We regretted much not to have seen you at Bath, and I was on
    the moment to write to you, like Henry the Fourth did to the
    brave Crillon after the battle!

    “‘Pends toi, brave Landor, nous avons été à Bath, et tu n’y
    étois pas—’

    “You will be glad to hear that the second son of my sister
    has been received at the Ecole of St Cyr, after a ticklish
    examination. Hoping to see you soon, believe me, yours most


There is not very much of distinction, perhaps, in these two letters, but
they serve to show the familiar friendship of the two men and also that
the dandy studied his English History, at any rate as far as concerns the
disposal of wives.

With John Forster he kept up a fairly lively correspondence, some of the
letters containing points of interest:—

                                  “GORE HOUSE, _25th October 1844_.

    “It is really an age since you’ve been here. It’s a poor joke!
    Where _have_ you been?… Macready has sent me a Boston paper, in
    which I have read with great interest of his success.… I have
    not seen ‘De la Roche’ Maclise. Give him a thousand good wishes.

    “Eugene Sue gets better and better; he leads you to his
    moral by somewhat perilous roads, but once you get there you
    find it pure and beautiful. The fecundity of his imagination
    surpasses all previous works; the Jesuits are smashed up, the
    convents broken down and the workman raised upon their debris.
    Amen.—Yours ever,


Was it not to this practical Forster that D’Orsay wrote upon his project
for establishing a means of communication between the guard and the
engine-driver of a train? But the “sacrés directeurs de rail road” would
not adopt his idea because of their own ideas of economy.

                                          “P.M., _4th August 1845_.

    “I am determined to follow up the directors until they take up
    my scheme, and if you will assist me” (_i.e._ by writing in the
    papers), “these continual accidents will establish a ‘raw,’
    which we will tickle continually with cayenne pepper, and in
    the end they will take real steps to heal the wound. My idea is
    this, that they shall have a seat behind the last carriage of
    every train, just like the coachman’s of a hansom cab. It would
    be in communication with the engine by a long cord passing
    along the whole length of the roof of the carriages; on pulling
    the cord a hammer would strike a gong by the engine and would
    indicate that a halt must be made.…”

There was also to be an arrangement of lamps and a cord—very similar
to that now in use—for the benefit of travellers in trouble. Quite
sufficient in all this to prove that a dandy need not be a fool.

                                “GORE HOUSE, _25th September 1845_.

    “I am sorry to tell you that Lady Blessington a reçu des
    nouvelles” (from here the letter is in French); “very alarming
    concerning the health of Lady Canterbury. There is no doubt she
    is gradually sinking, surrounded by those who choose to blind
    themselves to her condition.… It will be best, I think, for you
    to tell our dear Dickens why for the moment we must abandon our
    plans. I should most willingly have gone with you to Knebworth,
    we will arrange to go there together when I can manage a day.…”
    Knebworth was Lord Lytton’s country seat.

The letter continues, throwing a light upon the dark side of our

    “Think of poor Lady Blessington losing in so short a time her
    niece, her little niece, her nephew, her brother-in-law, and
    her sister dying.…”

Then again he returns to his railway scheme:—

    “I was just going to write to you from the country, where I
    have been some time, to tell you that Lady C⸺ and Lady Sophie
    de V⸺ went to Derby by rail; they were in the last carriage
    of the train. One of the connections is broken, the carriage
    is tossed from right to left and left to right so violently,
    that the two unhappy people think they are lost, and wave their
    handkerchiefs out of the window. They call out; no one sees
    them; no one hears them, and happily they reach the station,
    not a moment too soon—the carriage could not have held out.
    You will see that a guard in such a case would have saved this?
    Do you think we had better drop the subject or take it up
    again? _Au revoir_, brave Forster.”

       *       *       *       *       *

                         “BOURNEMOUTH, HANTS, _9th September 1848_.

    “We are in the most charming neighbourhood in the world, a
    kind of Wheemby Hill with the sea: it is three hours from
    Southampton. Come and see us! You will be delighted, it is
    perfection for bathing, and the weather is superb; it is the
    climax of summer.…”

Of Mathews’ friendship with D’Orsay in Italy, an account has already been
given; the following letters show that it was continued on paper:—

                                             “_17th November 1831._

    “MY DEAR CHARLES … I have lost my poor friend Blessington and
    my mother within two months; they died in my arms, and when I
    think of them it is always their last moments that come to my
    mind. I would it were in other times, but that is difficult.…”

The following from London:—

                                                  “_1st September._

    “MY DEAR CHARLES … I was the other day at Goodwood.… Since
    I learnt that you had taken the Adelphi I agreed with Lord
    Worcester that we would do all we could to interest society in
    your favour by thinking and talking about it. I understand that
    the first idea of Y(ates)[24] is to put you at a disadvantage,
    he himself will leave you, in order to make you feel that he
    is indispensable; this season is a trial that he gives you,
    hoping that in case of a failure you will give everything up
    into his hands. No matter what happens you must remedy this.
    Reeves, also, goes to America. Mrs Honey is engaged elsewhere;
    in short, most of the old names connected with the theatre
    are going. I therefore recommend you to make an arrangement
    with the proprietor of the Queen’s Theatre, who would join his
    company with yours; union gives strength, and thanks to your
    talents you will triumph completely over the trap which Y(ates)
    has set for you. The Queen’s Theatre has been very successful
    this season; to-day they have taken £90; it is wonderful for
    the time of year. Chesterfield, Worcester and myself have a
    box there and we wish to have one at the Adelphi, and speaking
    this evening on the matter to Bond, he told me that he would be
    delighted to join his company with yours and then to close the
    Queen’s Theatre. Think it over, see if you would not find it to
    your advantage, and let me know.—Your sincere friend, etc.


The Adelphi was opened by Yates and Mathews on 28th September 1835; the
house was full, but the season was not satisfactory.

The details of acting and stage production were not beneath D’Orsay’s

    “MY DEAR CHARLES,—I like your new piece very much, and you
    acted very well. You must ask the orchestra to accompany you a
    little less noisily, for the noise they made made it impossible
    to follow a quarter of your Aria. You would do well, also,
    in my opinion, to cut out two verses of the Welsh song. Your
    Frenchwoman is perfect; it is the best that I have yet seen
    presented in an English theatre. Use your influence to make
    Oxberry wear a black wig, he will be the image of George
    Wombwell,[25] he has the dress and the manner to perfection,
    and it will be a hit. Wombwell won’t be annoyed, on the
    _contrary_.… _Au revoir_, dear Charles.—Your affectionate,


The bright vivacity of the following letter to Dr Quin had best be left
in its native French:—

                                                  “_8th Août 1831_,
                                           “SEAMORE PLACE, MAYFAIR.

    CHER ET ESTIMATE QUIN,—Régénérateur de l’humanité souffrante!
    Nouveau Prophète dont les disciples s’essoufflent à chanter les
    louanges, et qui finira par triompher comme la civilisation
    régnante; comment se fait il que vous oubliez entièrement
    votre disciple Alfred, n’attendez pas en vain l’arrivée d’un
    ange du ciel pour m’éclairer mais déroulez vos Papyrus pour y
    graver les progrès de la marche gigantesque de cette _methodus
    medendi_, qui jointe à votre intelligence vous assure pour
    votre vieillesse un outrage de Lauriers dont l’épaisseur
    permettroit à peine que vous soyez encore plus eclairé par le
    rayon de gloire que le Ciel dirigera sur vous—Maintenant que je
    vous ai dit ma façon de penser à votre égard, parlons de moi
    dans un style _moins laconique_.

    “Depuis mon arrivée dans ce pays il étoit difficile de pouvoir
    donner un _Fair Trial_, à la méthode, étant toujours obligé à
    diner et boire un verre de vin, avec tous ceux qui ont soif.
    Ainsi je l’ai abandonné trop tôt pour me guérir, mais toujours
    à temps pour me pénétrer que jusqu’à ce jour le genre de humain
    a vegeté au lieu de vivre—Il faut donc que je recommence malgré
    que je souffre moins; repénêtrez vous de ma santé, consultez
    vos oracles, et voyez à me reprendre en main comme vous l’aviez
    fait. Je suivrai ponctuellement vos airs, et vous aurez au
    moins la gloire d’avoir guéri une des trompettes de la renommée
    de la méthode, et un ami sincère. Détaillez bien la manière de
    prendre, les remèdes, et prescrivez non pas en _paraboles_,
    mais dans votre style persuasif.… Adieu, brave Quin. Je vous
    serre la main non pas de toutes mes forces, mais de tout mon
    cœur.—Votre devoué et sincère ami,

                                                  “ALFRED D’ORSAY.”

Dr Quin was the first homœopathic practitioner in England, and in his
early days was denounced as a quack. He was endowed with an inexhaustible
fund of good humour, was a wit and a master of repartee. In a postscript
to another letter D’Orsay writes:—

“You have, my friend, an unbearable mania, that of always defending the
absent. Don’t you know that there is a French proverb which says, ‘Les
absens ont toujours tort?’ This fashion never goes out, and, the devil,
you who are the ‘pink of fashion,’ you must be in the mode.”

Jekyll declared to Lady Blessington that he “was asked gravely if quinine
was invented by Doctor Quin!”

Here is a quaint little note to the Doctor:—

                                           “GORE HOUSE, _Saturday_.

    “MY DEAR DR QUIN,—M. Pipelet (D’Orsay) requests that you will
    send him the letter about Mr ⸺ you promised he should have. I
    suppose it is in vain to tell you we are going to the Opera
    to-night. Of course you have 999 impatient patients who _must_
    see you every five minutes throughout the course of the day
    and night, and as many more friends who expect you to dinner.
    However, _en passant_, I venture to hint that we go with Mdme.
    Calabrella, so if you manage to kill off the maladies, and put
    the friends under the table in turn, we shall be delighted to
    see you ready and waiting, as Homer says in the fifth book of
    the _Iliad_, line forty-nine. Farewell, may you be happy whilst
    I—Sobs choke my utterance. Adieu.”



D’Orsay might have been a great artist and a great man of letters; of his
genius as a financier there is no doubt. He solved the question of how to
obtain unlimited credit; he paid such debts as he did cancel with money
which legally was his, but which almost any other man would not have
cared to touch.

Lord Blessington is said, when he persuaded D’Orsay to abandon his career
in the French army, to have undertaken to provide for the Count’s future,
and he fulfilled his promise at the expense of his daughter’s happiness
and of the family estates.

In the return made of “The Annuities, Mortgages, Judgments and other
Debts, Legacies, Sums of Money, and Incumbrances, charged upon or
affecting the Estates of the said Charles John, Earl of Blessington, at
the Time of his Decease,” we find that the mortgages and sums of money
charged on D’Orsay’s account from 1837 to 1845, amounted to the quite
respectable sum of £20,184. In Blessington’s will all his estates in
Dublin, bringing in a rental of £13,322, 18s. 8d. were left to whichever
of his daughters married D’Orsay.

By the marriage settlement £20,000 was to be paid to trustees, the Duc
de Guiche, and Robert Power, within twelve months of the solemnisation,
and a further £20,000 on Blessington’s decease; the money to be invested
in the funds, and the interest thereupon to be paid to D’Orsay during his

As we have seen, the happy couple separated actually in 1831, legally in

In 1834 an order was made by the Court of Chancery in Ireland, upon which
was thrown the task of clearing up the mess made of his property by
Blessington, granting D’Orsay an income of £500, and to his wife £450.

How great that mess was, for which D’Orsay and his wife were partly to
blame, will be seen from the following facts. The Countess had run up
debts to the tune of £10,000, which sum, however, is scarcely worth
mentioning beside that incurred by her husband. By the deed of separation
between them, D’Orsay relinquished all his claims on the Blessington
estates, in consideration—

    i. Of £2467 of annuities granted by him being redeemed, which
    cost £23,500.

    ii. In consideration of the sum of £55,000 being paid to him,
    £13,000 of which was to be raised as soon as possible, and
    £42,000 within ten years.

A grand total of money which all went in one way or another to pay off
D’Orsay’s debts.

As to the estate: the trustees were empowered by Act of Parliament to
make sales to the amount of £350,000 to pay off all encumbrances and
claims. Thus ended the glory of the Blessington fortune; thus often has
it been in Ireland.

D’Orsay found fortune and lost it; he could not even retain the wife
with which it was encumbered.

Over £100,000 of debts we know he paid, and still he owed very much. For
at least two years previous to his final departure from England he went
in constant dread of arrest at the instigation of sordid persons, who had
not sufficient understanding of the fact that it was an honour to them
to help in the support of a great man. There are too many petty-minded
people in the world! Just heavens! That a man of D’Orsay’s calibre should
be confined to his house and grounds all the days of the week save
Sunday, excepting that he could creep forth under cover of darkness! That
the Prince of the Dandies should go in danger of the vile clutch of a
sinister myrmidon of the law and of the degradation of a sponging-house.

In 1845 D’Orsay apparently realised that his pecuniary condition was
irreparable, and sought in vain for means of escape. He prepared a
schedule of his liabilities, the total sum of his indebtedness amounting
to £107,000, not including a number of debts to private friends, which
made an additional sum of £13,000. It was even contemplated that he
should go through the Court of Bankruptcy, but a difficulty was found in
the fact that it could not be proved that he was a commercial man or an
agriculturalist. He only sowed wild oats.

The situation so pressed upon him, that he allowed himself for a time to
become the prey of impostors, who declared that they had achieved what
the alchemists of old had so long looked for in vain, the conversion of
the baser metals into gold!

From an unveracious chronicle we quote a passage which is veracious:—

“Now, among the shyest birds that ever ducked from a missile of the law
was, without an exception the Marquis d’Horsay (D’Orsay). His maxim
had long been ‘catch me who can;’ at the same time, acting up to the
patent-safety rule of ‘prevention being so much better than cure,’ he
afforded no facilities whatever of being hobbled in the chase. At bay
he kept the yelping pack, and within the good, stout, rich walls of
his covert he maintained both a pleasant and a secure retreat from the
dangers besetting him. He now no longer ventured to frame himself, as it
were, in his cab, and exhibit his colours and attractions to the curious
crowds, except on that privileged day—when even the debtor is at liberty
to rest—the seventh of the week.[26] Then, indeed, he issued forth,
decked as of old, and, like a bird free from the confines of his cage,
made the most of the brief hours of his freedom.

“Every art, every manœuvre within the subtle and almost inexhaustible
resources of those apt functionaries of the law who are ever on the
alert to deprive the subject of his liberty, let him be never so chary
of the preservation of it, had been put in force to trap our hero; but
hitherto in vain. Mr Sloughman,[27] truly, arrived within a short journey
of accomplishing this much-desired end; still he was frustrated, and now
among the ranks of bums there was a cloud which damped their hopes and
mildewed their energies. The Marquis was not to be grabbed, and they knew
it. With flagging spirits the attempts were renewed over and over again.
Bribes and offers of rewards were extended liberally to his menials for
their traitorous assistance in obtaining the design, but they had been
too well selected, and knew their own interests depended on no such frail
or fleeting benefits. False messengers in all garbs and disguises, upon
all kinds of errands and excuses, applied for admission and interviews.
Even—yes, even the fair sex were at last made not bearers of Love’s
despatches, but conveyancers of stern writs, notices of declarations,
trials, and suchlike means to the end and breaking up of a man of
fashion. Still the Marquis was proof against all these attacks, let them
come in what shape they would.”

That may be fancy, but it is close akin to fact.

In _The English Spy_ we read of the crowd in Hyde Park of a Sunday
afternoon at the fashionable hour:—

    “The low-bred, vulgar, Sunday throng,
    Who dine at two, are ranged along
      On both sides of the way;
    With various views, these honest folk
    Descant on fashions, quiz and joke,
      Or march a _shy cock_[28] down;
    For many a star in fashion’s sphere
    Can only once a week appear
      In public haunts of town,
      Lest those two ever _watchful_ friends,
    The _step_-brothers, whom sheriff sends,
      John Doe and Richard Roe,
    A _taking_ pair should deign to borrow,
    To wit, until _All Souls_ the morrow,
      The body of a beau;
    But Sunday sets the prisoner free,
    He _shows_ the Park, and laughs with glee,
      At creditors and Bum.”

Henry Vizetelly used on occasion to make an early call upon Thackeray,
and walk into town with him from Kensington. “On one of these journeys,”
he says, “soon after Lady Blessington gave up Gore House to reside in
Paris, I remember his taking me with him to look over the little crib,
adjacent to the big mansion, where Count d’Orsay, Lady Blessington’s
recognised lover, was understood to have resided, with the view of
saving appearances. For years past the ringleted and white-kidded
Count, although his tailor and other obliging tradespeople dressed him
for nothing, or rather, in consideration of the advertisement that his
equivocal patronage procured for them, had been a self-constituted
prisoner through dread of arrest for debt. It was only on Sundays that
he ventured outside the Gore House grounds, and for his protection on
other days the greatest possible precaution was exercised when it was
necessary for any of Lady Blessington’s many visitors to be admitted.
D’Orsay’s friend, Thomas Slingsby Duncombe, who was mixed up with him in
numerous bill transactions, used to say that the Count’s debts amounted
to £120,000, and that before he retired to the safe asylum of Gore House,
he was literally mobbed by duns.”

[Illustration: HYDE PARK CORNER IN 1824


Tom Duncombe describes Lady Blessington’s parties as gay, “where all
the men about town assembled, and sunned themselves in her charms; and
where, for certain reasons, she was secure from the intrusion of rivals.
There Count d’Orsay, tied by the leg with 120,000_l._ of debt, was sure
to welcome his ‘_cher Tomie_.’”

“_Cher Tomie_” saw and knew much of D’Orsay, and did his best to help him
in his money troubles. The following letters tell a tale of woe:—

                                    _Saturday, 12th February 1842._

    “MY DEAR TOMMY,—I know that you have been to C. Lewis, and
    that he told you it was settled. It is not so; he expected
    that I would have signed the renewals at sixty per cent. which
    he sent me, and which I delivered. Therefore, if you have a
    moment to lose, have the kindness to see him this morning and
    persuade him of the impossibility of my renewing at that rate;
    say anything you like on the subject, but that is the moral
    of the tale. You must come and dine with us soon again.—Yours


       *       *       *       *       *

                                        _Thursday, 6th April 1842._

    “MY DEAR TOMMY,—I see by the papers that Lord Campbell and Mr
    T. S. Duncombe received a petition against the _Imprisonment
    for Debt_! It is the moment to immortalise yourself, and also
    the _sweetest_ revenge against all our gang of Jews, if you
    succeed in carrying this petition through. I have taken proper
    means to keep this proposal alive in the Press. Will you come
    and dine with us?—Yours affectionately,


This last _may_ refer to the schedule above-mentioned:—

    “MY DEAR TOMMY,—I send you this precious document; the only
    one I could obtain. It is a flaring-up page of the _History of
    the Nineteenth Century_! God is great, and will be greater the
    day He will annihilate our persecutors. _En attendant_, I am
    always,—Your affectionate friend,


The following refers again to the Imprisonment Abolition Bill:—

    “MON CHER TOMMY,—I think that we ought to try to ascertain
    how far the humbugging system can go. As soon as I received
    your note this morning I wrote to Brougham, and explained
    all the unfructuous attempts of Mr Hawes.[29] I enclose the
    first answer. _Now_, he has just been here, after having had
    a long conversation with Lyndhurst, who is decided to spur
    the Solicitor-General, stating, as the Parliament will last
    until Thursday week, there will be time enough to pass the
    bill. See what you can do with Mr Hawes. I am sure that if he
    will strike the iron now, when it is hot, that we have still a
    chance. Lyndhurst, I assure you, is very anxious about it, and
    expressed it strongly to Brougham. Do not be discouraged.—Yours


The enclosed note from Brougham ran:—

    “MON CHER A.,—Je suis _coloré_ plutôt que _désespéré_. Il faut
    que je mette ordre à tout cela. Je vais chez Lyndhurst dans
    l’instant, H. B.”

Tom Duncombe was himself a capital hand at getting into debt; we
read:—“Duncombe is playing good boy, having completely drawn in; he has
given up his house and carriages, and taken his name out of the Clubs.
He had become so involved that he could not carry on the war any longer.
They say that he has committed himself to the amount of 120,000_l._”

Readers of _Vanity Fair_ will recall “Mr Moss’s mansion in Cursitor
Street,” “that dismal place of hospitality,” to which Colonel Crawdon was
an unwilling visitor. It was such an ordeal, that D’Orsay was determined
not to undergo. Shame upon those who threatened him with it.

Madden tells us that D’Orsay’s sister “makes no concealment of her
conviction that Count d’Orsay’s ignorance of the value of money—the
profuse expenditure into which he was led by that ignorance, the
temptation to play arising from it, the reckless extravagance into which
he entered, not so much to minister to his own pleasure, as to gratify
the feelings of an inordinate generosity of disposition, that prompted
him to give whenever he was called on, and to forget the obligations he
contracted for the sake of others, and the heavy penalties imposed on
his friends by the frequent appeals for pecuniary assistance—were very
grievous faults, and great defects in his character.”

Mice nibbling at the reputation of a lion! Faults and defects; it is so
easy to see spots on the sun! The world is often cruel to its greatest
men; and who can deny that D’Orsay was much ill-used? Who can realise
the suffering inflicted on his generous heart by the lack of generosity
in others? How absurd to insult his memory by calling “reckless
extravagance” that which in ordinary men would be so, but which in him
was the striving to fulfil his great destiny. If his spirit haunts the
earth it must be torture, worse than any in the place to which he may
have gone, to find that he should have been so greatly misunderstood.
It is a lovable trait in a man that he should give to others of his
superfluity; it is adorable in D’Orsay that he should have distributed
with open hand and tender heart the spare cash of others. Petty
questionings as to right and wrong, _meum et tuum_, to which commonplace
men rightly pay attention, have no claim upon such a man as D’Orsay. To
the good all things are good.

He had the tongue of the charmer. Mr Mitchell, to whom he owed much
money, would in moments of despair, write and demand immediate payment.
In all his glory D’Orsay would answer in person; would calm the
tempest with fair words and would usually succeed in _increasing_ his



There cannot, indeed, be any question but that D’Orsay possessed the gift
of fascination; his personality was one that compelled both admiration
and attention. It is impossible to define or describe wherein exactly
lies this power of personality. Of two women equally beautiful and
apparently equally attractive, one will fascinate and the other will not,
but it surpasses the ability of even those who are fascinated to say
wherein is the difference between the two charmers.

D’Orsay had charm, and for our part we believe that with him, at any
rate, part of this charm lay in the fact that he did not grow old; those
whom the gods love die young despite the passage of years. He was young
and he was gay; and joyousness is singularly and strongly attractive
in a world where the majority of men and women are apt to be unjoyous.
Gaiety of spirits, and unconquerable, unquenchable _joie de vivre_, are
treasures above all price because they cannot be purchased.

Especially with those who make pleasure a pursuit, and it was with
such that D’Orsay chiefly forgathered, the amusements of life too
frequently become “stale, flat and unprofitable”; such folk make
pleasure the business of life, pleasure does not come to them naturally,
spontaneously; they suffer from that most wearing of mental troubles,
boredom. Far otherwise was it with D’Orsay. We have been with him now in
many places and with many companies, and never once has there been a hint
that he was either satiated with enjoyment or depressed when things went
astray. He often said himself: “I have never known the meaning of the
word _ennui_.”

Beneath all the tinsel and unreality of some of Disraeli’s novels, there
is always a stratum of keen observation and shrewd knowledge of men and
women. It will help us, therefore, in our understanding of D’Orsay to see
how he appeared to his friend and fellow-dandy.

Disraeli sketched D’Orsay’s portrait as Count Alcibiades de Mirabel in
_Henrietta Temple_: “The satin-lined coat thrown open … and revealing a
breastplate of starched cambric …,” the wristbands were turned up with
“compact precision,” and were fastened by “jewelled studs.” “The Count
Mirabel could talk at all times well.… Practised in the world, the Count
Mirabel was nevertheless the child of impulse, though a native grace,
and an intuitive knowledge of mankind, made every word pleasing and
every act appropriate.… The Count Mirabel was gay, careless, generous.…
It seemed that the Count Mirabel’s feelings grew daily more fresh, and
his faculty of enjoyment more keen and relishing.…” Into Count Mirabel’s
mouth is put this, which sounds very D’Orsayish: “Between ourselves, I
do not understand what this being bored is,” said the Count. “He who is
bored appears to me a bore. To be bored supposes the inability of being
amused.… Wherever I may be, I thank heaven that I am always diverted.”
Then this: “I live to amuse myself, and I do nothing that does not amuse
me.” And this: “Fancy a man ever being in low spirits. Life is too
short for such _bêtises_. The most unfortunate wretch alive calculates
unconsciously that it is better to live than to die. Well then, he has
something in his favour. Existence is a pleasure, and the greatest. The
world cannot rob us of that, and if it be better to live than to die, it
is better to live in a good humour than a bad one. If a man be convinced
that existence is the greatest pleasure, his happiness may be increased
by good fortune, but it will be essentially independent of it. He who
feels that the greatest source of pleasure always remains to him, ought
never to be miserable. The sun shines on all; every man can go to sleep;
if you cannot ride a fine horse, it is something to look upon one; if you
have not a fine dinner, there is some amusement in a crust of bread and
Gruyère. Feel slightly, think little, never plan, never brood. Everything
depends upon the circulation; take care of it. Take the world as you find
it, enjoy everything. _Vive la bagatelle!_”

Then further on:—

“The Count Mirabel was announced.…

“The Count stood before him, the best-dressed man in London, fresh and
gay as a bird, with not a care on his sparkling visage, and his eye
bright with _bonhomie_. And yet Count Mirabel had been the very last to
desert the recent mysteries of Mr Bond Sharpe;[30] and, as usual, the
dappled light of dawn had guided him to his luxurious bed—that bed that
always afforded him serene slumbers, whatever might be the adventures of
the day, or the result of the night’s campaign. How the Count Mirabel
did laugh at those poor devils, who wake only to moralise over their own
folly with broken spirits and aching heads. Care, he knew nothing about;
Time, he defied; indisposition he could not comprehend. He had never been
ill in his life, even for five minutes.

“Melancholy was a farce in the presence of his smile; and there was
no possible combination of scrapes that could withstand his kind and
brilliant raillery.”

Then to his friend, Armine, who is _distrait_:—

“A melancholy man! _Quelle bêtise!_ I will cure you; I will be your
friend, and put you all right. Now we will just drive down to Richmond;
we will have a light dinner—a flounder, a cutlet, and a bottle of
champagne, and then we will go to the French play. I will introduce you
to Jenny Vertpré. She is full of wit; perhaps she will ask us to supper.
Allons, mon ami, mon cher Armine; allons, mon brave!”

Could Armine resist a tempting invitation so irresistible? No, “so, in
a few moments, he was safely ensconced in the most perfect cabriolet
in London, whirled along by a horse that stepped out with a proud
consciousness of its master.”

We hold that portrait to be excellent not only as regards the outer but
also the inner man D’Orsay. He was the “child of impulse,” not a cold,
cynical, calculating voluptuary; he did not deliberately “feel slightly,
think little”; it was not in him to suffer deep emotion or to think
deeply. “_Vive la bagatelle!_” that was his motto, because for him there
was not in life anything else than “_bagatelle_”; existence for him was
compounded of “trifles light as air.” His good spirits, as Disraeli
hints, were based upon his splendid physical vitality as infectious good
spirits must ever be. The joy of life may be apparent to and partially
enjoyed by those whose physical health is weak, but complete realisation
of the joy of living, of merely being alive, is only for those whose
vitality is abundant and superb. Further, he had the faculty of enjoying
himself; it was not that he would not but that he could not be bored.

Even children felt his fascination. Madden writes:—

“One of the proofs of the effect on others of his insinuating manners and
prepossessing appearance, was the extreme affection and confidence he
inspired in children, of whom he was very fond, but who usually seemed as
if they were irresistibly drawn towards him, even before he attempted to
win them. The shyest and most reserved were no more proof against this
influence than the most confiding. Children who in general would hardly
venture to look at a stranger, would steal to his side, take his hand,
and seem to be quite happy and at ease when they were near him.”

Nor, as we have learned, was it merely the butterflies who found pleasure
in his sunny nature; he had a striking faculty of suiting himself to
his company, an adaptability which is essential for success in general
society. Landor loved him, so almost it may be said did the somewhat
stern Macready. Indeed the actor was one of the most ardent of D’Orsay’s
admirers; he wrote after his death:—

“No one who knew and had affections could help loving him. When he
liked he was most fascinating and captivating. It was impossible to
be insensible to his graceful, frank and most affectionate manner. I
have reason to believe that he liked me, perhaps much, and I certainly
entertained the most affectionate regard for him. He was the most
brilliant, graceful, endearing man I ever saw—humorous, witty and
clear-headed. But the name of D’Orsay alone had a charm; even in the most
distant cities of the United States all inquired with interest about him.”

A few notes from Macready’s Diary, and from records kept by others, will
serve to confirm the testimony already adduced of the great variety and
interest of the friends with whom D’Orsay was surrounded in the Gore
House days.

On February 16th, 1839, there was a pleasant company there, of which
Macready makes this record:—

“Went to Lady Blessington’s with Forster, who had called in the course of
the day. Met there the Count de Vigny, with whom I had a most interesting
conversation on _Richelieu_.… Met also with D’Orsay, Bulwer, Charles
Buller, Lord Durham, who was very cordial and courteous to me, Captain
Marryat, who wished to be reintroduced to me, Hall, Standish, Chorley,
Greville, who wished to be introduced to me also, Dr Quin, etc. Passed a
very agreeable two hours.”

With most of these we have already met on other occasions. On May
31st, 1840, Macready met at Gore House the Fonblanques, Lord Normanby,
Lord Canterbury, Monckton Milnes, Chorley, Rubini and “Liszt, the most
marvellous pianist I ever heard. I do not know when I have been so
excited.” And in April 1846, we hear of him dining at Gore House in the
company of, amongst others, Liston, Quin, Chesterfield, Edwin Landseer,
Forster, Jerdan and Dickens.

And on the other hand many a time did D’Orsay dine with Macready to meet
good company, but Lady Blessington was not and could not be included
in the invitations. It is a feather in their caps for men to conquer
beautiful ladies, but _væ victis_. On the evening of May 6th, 1840,
Planché “was present at a very large and brilliant gathering at Gore
House. Amongst the company were the Marquis of Normanby and several other
noblemen, and, memorably, Edwin Landseer. During the previous week there
had been a serious disturbance at the Opera, known as ‘The Tamburini
Row,’ and it naturally formed the chief subject of conversation in a
party, nearly every one of whom had been present. Lord Normanby, Count
d’Orsay, and Landseer were specially excited; there was some difference
of opinion, but no quarrelling, and the great animal painter was in high
spirits and exceedingly amusing till the small hours of the morning, when
we all gaily separated, little dreaming of the horrible deed perhaps at
that very moment perpetrating, the murder of Lord William Russell by his
valet Courvoisier.”

Of James Robinson Planché, herald and writer of extravaganzas and student
of the history of costume, Edmund Yates gives a thumbnail sketch in later

“Such a pleasant little man, even in his extreme old age—he was over
eighty at his death[31]—and always neatly dressed, showing his French
origin in his vivacity and his constant gesticulation.”

The murder of Lord William Russell created an unpleasant sensation,
though there was not anything mysterious in it, or particularly
interesting to the amateur in crime. François Benjamin Courvoisier, a
Swiss and Lord William’s valet, two maid-servants and Lord William,
aged seventy-two, formed the household at the establishment in Norfolk
Street, Park Lane. On the morning of 7th May, the housemaid found her
master’s writing-room in a state of disarray, and in the hall a cloak, an
opera-glass and other articles of wearing apparel done up together as if
prepared to be taken away. The maid roused Courvoisier, who exclaimed,
when he came upon the scene: “Some one has been robbing us; for God’s
sake go and see where his lordship is!”

They went together to Lord William’s room, where a shocking sight
presented itself, their master lying dead upon the bed, his head nearly
severed from his body. The police were summoned, and money, banknotes,
and some jewellery, believed to have been stolen from Lord William,
being found concealed behind the skirting in the pantry, Courvoisier
was arrested, tried, condemned, and then acknowledged his crime. He was
executed on 6th July, before an immense mob of men, women and children.

Of another evening at Gore House Planché has this to relate of Lablache:—

“It was after dinner at Gore House that I witnessed his extraordinary
representation of a thunderstorm simply by facial expression. The gloom
that gradually overspread his countenance appeared to deepen into actual
darkness, and the terrific frown indicated the angry lowering of the
tempest. The lightning commenced by winks of the eyes, and twitchings of
the muscles of the face, succeeded by rapid sidelong movements of the
mouth which wonderfully recalled to you the forked flashes that seem to
rend the sky, the motion of thunder being conveyed by the shaking of his
head. By degrees the lightning became less vivid, the frown relaxed, the
gloom departed, and a broad smile illuminating his expansive face assured
you that the sun had broken through the clouds and the storm was over.”

Another house to which D’Orsay frequently went was that of Charles
Dickens, and we read of in 1845 an entertainment which no doubt was a
festive jollification. In September of that year an amateur performance,
with Dickens at the head of the troupe, was given of _Every Man in His
Humour_, at Miss Kelly’s Theatre, in Dean Street, Soho, now known as
the Royalty. After the “show” it was decided to wind up with a supper,
concerning which Dickens writes to Macready:—

“At No. 9 Powis Place, Great Ormond Street, in an empty house belonging
to one of the company. There I am requested by my fellows to beg the
favour of thy company and that of Mrs Macready. The guests are limited to
the actors and their ladies—with the exception of yourselves and D’Orsay
and George Cattermole, ‘or so’—that sounds like Bobadil a little.”

In the company were included Douglas Jerrold, John Leech and Forster.

Referring to yet another dinner, Lady Blessington writes to Forster from
Gore House, on 12th April 1848:—

“Count d’Orsay repeated to me this morning the kind things you said of
him when proposing his health. He, I assure you, was touched when he
repeated them, and his feelings were infectious, for mine responded. To
be highly appreciated by those we most highly value, is, indeed, a source
of heartfelt gratification. From the first year of our acquaintance with
you, we had learned to admire your genius, to respect your principles,
and to love your goodness of heart, and the honest warmth of your nature.
These sentiments have never varied. Every year, by unfolding your noble
qualities to us, has served to prove how true were our first impressions
of you, and our sole regret has been that your occupations deprive us
of enjoying half as much of your society as all who have once enjoyed
it must desire. Count d’Orsay declares that yesterday was one of the
happiest days of his life. He feels proud of having assisted at the
triumph of a friend whose heart is as genial as his genius is great. Who
can resist being delighted at the success of one who wins for himself
thousands of friends (for all his readers become so), without ever
creating an enemy, even among those most envious of another’s fame, and
simply by the revelations of a mind and heart that excite only the best
feelings of our—nature? I cannot resist telling you what is passing in my
heart. You will understand this little outbreak of genuine feeling in the
midst of the toil of a literary life.”

There were almost as many writers of genius then as now!

Forster and Dickens were together at Gore House early in 1848, when
Madden tells us “there was a remarkable display of D’Orsay’s peculiar
ingenuity and successful tact in drawing out the oddities or absurdities
of eccentric or ridiculous personages—mystifying them with a grave
aspect, and imposing on their vanity by apparently accidental references
of a gratulatory description to some favourite hobby or exploit,
exaggerated merit or importance of the individual to be made sport of for
the Philistines of the fashionable circle.” Bear-baiting was succeeded in
those polite days by bore-baiting. Anent this particular evening, one of
those present wrote to Lady Blessington:—

“Count d’Orsay may well speak of our evening being a happy one, to whose
happiness he contributed so largely. It would be absurd, if one did not
know it to be true, to hear D⸺ (Dickens?) talk as he has done ever since
of Count d’Orsay’s power of drawing out always the best elements around
him, and of miraculously putting out the worst. Certainly I never saw it
so marvellously exhibited as on the night in question. I shall think of
him hereafter unceasingly, with the two guests that sat on either side of
him that night.”

It was but fitting that the Prince of Dandies and the future Poet
Laureate should come together. Tennyson writes:—“Count d’Orsay is a
friend of mine, co-godfather to Dickens’ child with me.” This was
Dickens’ sixth child and fourth son, christened Alfred Tennyson after his

D’Orsay was not so unkind as to neglect his native country entirely, and
we find him now and again running over to Paris.

As pendants to the Disraeli portrait of D’Orsay, here are two others, one
from a man’s hand, the other from a woman’s.

Chesterfield House was the headquarters of a racing set, and was gossiped
about as also the centre of some heavy gambling, probably untruly so.

The Honourable F. Leveson Gore in _Bygone Years_ expresses himself
bluntly: “I used to wonder that Lady Chesterfield admitted into her house
that good-for-nothing fellow, Count d’Orsay. He was handsome, clever and
amusing, and I am aware that in the eyes of some people such qualities
cover a multitude of sins. But his record was a bad one. No Frenchman
would speak to him because he had left the French army at the breaking
out of the war between his own country and Spain, in order to go to
Italy with Lord and Lady Blessington, and his conduct with regard to his
marriage was infamous.” How uncharitable is the judgment of a virtuous
world. Reading on we find that the writer holds that Lady Blessington
induced D’Orsay “entirely to neglect his young wife. She, moreover,
endeavoured to undermine her faith and her morals by getting her to read
books calculated to do so, and what was still worse, she promoted the
advances of other men, who made up to this inexperienced and beautiful
young woman. Her life at Gore House[32] became at last so intolerable
that she fled from it never to return.”

Mr Leveson Gore also calls Lady Harriet the only daughter of Lord
Blessington, which is really not doing his lordship justice.

It is much more helpful, however, to have the opinion of a keen, shrewd
woman; one who cannot have been disposed to like D’Orsay, yet who seems,
as did her husband, to have a soft place in her heart for him.

Jane Welsh Carlyle was a capital hand at a pen portrait; here is what she
has to say of D’Orsay:—

“_April 13, 1845._—To-day, oddly enough, while I was engaged in
re-reading Carlyle’s _Philosophy of Clothes_, Count d’Orsay walked in.
I had not seen him for four or five years. Last time he was as gay in
his colours as a humming-bird—blue satin cravat, blue velvet waistcoat,
cream-coloured coat, lined with velvet of the same hue, trousers also
of a bright colour, I forget what; white French gloves, two glorious
breastpins attached by a chain, and length enough of gold watch-guard to
have hanged himself in. To-day, in compliment to his five more years,
he was all in black and brown—a black satin cravat, a brown velvet
waistcoat, a brown coat some shades darker than the waistcoat, lined with
velvet of its own shade, and almost black trousers, one breast-pin, a
large pear-shaped pearl set into a little cup of diamonds, and only one
fold of gold chain round his neck, tucked together right on the centre
of his spacious breast with one magnificent turquoise. Well! that man
understood his trade; if it be but that of dandy, nobody can deny that
he is a perfect master of it, that he dresses himself with consummate
skill! A bungler would have made no allowance for five more years at
his time of life, but he had the fine sense to perceive how much better
his dress of to-day sets off his slightly enlarged figure and slightly
worn complexion, than the humming-bird colours of five years back would
have done. Poor D’Orsay! he was born to have been something better than
even the king of dandies. He did not say nearly so many clever things
this time as on the last occasion. His wit, I suppose, is of the sort
that belongs more to animal spirits than to real genius, and his animal
spirits seem to have fallen many degrees. The only thing that fell from
him to-day worth remembering was his account of a mask he had seen of
Charles Fox, ‘all punched and flattened as if he had slept in a book.’

“Lord Jeffrey came, unexpected, while the Count was here. What a
difference! the prince of critics and the prince of dandies. How washed
out the beautiful dandiacal face looked beside that little clever old
man’s! The large blue dandiacal eyes, you would have said, had never
contemplated anything more interesting than the reflection of the
handsome personage they pertained to in a looking-glass; while the dark
penetrating ones of the other had been taking note of most things in
God’s universe, even seeing a good way into millstones.”



Sunset of the glories of Gore House came in the year 1849, a cold, bitter
sunset, presaging a stormy morrow. Lady Blessington was nearly sixty
years old, well-preserved indeed, but Time’s footsteps are crow’s-feet.
D’Orsay was nearing fifty. Darby and Joan; only the former at fifty is
more than ten years younger than the latter at sixty.

Behind all the gaiety of Gore House there had long been a dark
background, ever growing more sinister. Without the harassment of any
cares it would have been difficult for a woman of Lady Blessington’s
age to maintain a sovereignty which depended almost entirely upon her
beauty. Troubles met her at every turn, and the last few years at Gore
House must have been to her years of torment and despair. She heard her
doom approaching with sure foot, and knew that she was unable to stay the

Her jointure of £2000 was entirely inadequate to maintain the expenses
of either Seamore Place or Gore House, to the exchequers of which
D’Orsay cannot have contributed; any capital that came into his hands
was rapidly dispersed by them among hungry debtors, and his income of
£500 was probably hypothecated in the same way. It was essential for her,
therefore, to add to her revenue, for the reduction of expenditure does
not seem to have occurred to this luxury-loving soul. She does indeed
seem to have been careful to see that she obtained her money’s worth, and
kept a tight hand on the household expenses and accounts. One habit of
hers was to keep a “book of dinners,” noting down the names of the guests
at each entertainment.

When no other way of securing an income suggests itself to the needy or
hard-up, they invariably take up their pens and write. Lady Blessington,
if it had not been for her beauty and notoriety, could scarcely have
earned a livelihood as a hack writer for the lesser journals, but her
name gave to her writings a market value which their intrinsic merit did
not. Her _Conversations with Byron_ have already been mentioned, and
sufficiently dealt with; she also wrote books of travel, novels, verses,
edited such periodicals as _The Keepsake_ and _The Book of Beauty_,
to which the eminent authors who fluttered round her at Gore House
contributed, and in the end when these enterprises were failing became
a contributor to the _Daily News_ of “exclusive intelligence,” that is
to say of “any sort of intelligence she might like to communicate, of
the sayings, doings, memoirs or movements in the fashionable world,”
for which she received payment at the rate of £400 a year; Dickens and
Forster were her editors.

The death in 1848 of Heath, the publisher, in insolvency brought a loss
to Lady Blessington of about £700. Her earnings have been placed at a
thousand a year, but William Jerdan in his _Autobiography_ declares them
to have been much higher. “I have known her to enjoy from her pen an
amount somewhere midway between £2000 and £3000 per annum, and her title,
as well as talents, had considerable influence in ‘ruling high prices’ as
they say in Mark Lane and other markets. To this, also, her well-arranged
parties with a publisher now and then, to meet folks of a style unusual
to men in business, contributed their attractions; and the same society
was in reality of solid value towards the production of such publications
as the Annuals, the contents of which were provided by the editor almost
entirely from the pens of private friends.”

In 1833 by a robbery of jewellery and plate at Seamore Place, Lady
Blessington lost something like £1000.

These losses, the continual strain of working to obtain the funds
necessary for her luxurious mode of life and the difficulties in which
D’Orsay was involved told heavily upon her health and spirits. As she
herself writes in her commonplace book:—

“Great trials demand great courage, and all our energy is called up to
enable us to bear them. But it is the minor cares of life that wear out
the body, because, singly, and in detail, they do not appear sufficiently
important to engage us to rally our force and spirits to support them.…
Many minds that have withstood the most severe trials, have been broken
down by a succession of ignoble cares;” and there is a touch of sorrowful
bitterness in this: “Friends are the thermometers by which we may judge
the temperature of our fortunes.”

Not that she was ill-served by her friends, rather the contrary; few
women have had so many or so faithful.

The following letter paints the situation better than can any words of
ours; it was written to Lady Blessington in or about 1848:—

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

    “First. As to your jointure, nothing in law is so
    indisputable—as that a widow’s jointure takes precedence of
    every other claim on an estate. The very first money the
    agent or steward receives from the property should go to the
    discharge of this claim. No subsequent mortgages, annuities,
    encumbrances, law-suits, expenses of management, etc., can be
    permitted to interfere with the payment of jointure; and as,
    whatever the distress of the tenants, or the embarrassments
    of the estate, it is clear that some rents must have come in
    half-yearly; so, on those rents you have an indisputable right;
    and, I think, on consulting your lawyer, he will put you in a
    way, either by a memorial to Chancery, or otherwise, to secure
    in future the regular payment of this life-charge. Indeed, as
    property charged with a jointure, although the rents are not
    paid for months after the proper dates, the jointure must be
    paid on the regular days, and if not, the proprietor would
    become liable to immediate litigation. I am here presuming that
    you but ask for the jointure, due quarterly, or half-yearly,
    and not in advance, which, if the affairs are in Chancery, it
    would be illegal to grant.

    “Secondly. With respect to the diamonds, would it be possible
    or expedient, to select a certain portion (say half), which
    you least value on their own account; and if a jeweller
    himself falls too short in his offer, to get him to sell them
    on commission? You must remember, that every year, by paying
    interest on them,[33] you are losing money on them, so that
    in a few years you may thus lose more than by taking at once
    less than their true value. There are diamond merchants, who,
    I believe, give more for those articles than jewellers, and if
    you know Anthony Rothschild, and would not object to speak to
    him, he might help you.…

    “I know well how, to those accustomed to punctual payments, and
    with a horror of debt, pecuniary embarrassments prey upon the
    mind, but I think they may be borne, not only with ease, but
    some degree of complacency, when connected with such generous
    devotions and affectionate services as those which must console
    you amidst all your cares. In emptying your purse you have at
    least filled your heart with consolations, which will long
    outlast what I trust will be but the troubles of a season.”

The last sentences refer to the generous charity which was one of Lady
Blessington’s saving graces: parents, brothers, sisters, friends, lover,
all benefited by her aid. Two very pleasing letters from Mrs S. C. Hall
may be quoted on this and other points:—

“I have never had occasion to appeal to Lady Blessington for aid for any
kind or charitable purpose, that she did not _at once_, with a grace
peculiarly her own, come forward cheerfully and ‘help’ to the extent of
her power.”


“When Lady Blessington left London, she did not forget the necessities
of several of her poor dependants, who received regular aid from her
after her arrival, and while she resided in Paris.[34] She found time,
despite her literary labours, her anxieties and the claims which she
permitted society to make upon her time, not only to do acts of kindness
now and then for those in whom she felt an interest, but to give what
seemed perpetual thought to their well-doing: and she never missed an
opportunity of doing a gracious act or saying a gracious word.…

“I have no means of knowing whether what the world said of this beautiful
woman was true or false, but I am sure God intended her to be good, and
there was a deep-seated good intent in whatever she did that came under
my observation.

“Her sympathies were quick and cordial, and independent of worldiness;
her taste in art and literature womanly and refined; I say ‘womanly,’
because she had a perfectly feminine appreciation of whatever was
delicate and beautiful.… Her manners were singularly simple and graceful;
it was to me an intense delight to look at beauty, which though I never
saw in its full bloom, was charming in its autumn time; and the Irish
accent, and soft, sweet, Irish laugh, used to make my heart beat with the
pleasures of memory.… Her conversation was not witty nor wise, but it
was in good tune and good taste, mingled with a great deal of humour,
which escaped everything bordering on vulgarity. It was surprising how a
tale of distress or a touching anecdote would at once suffuse her clear
intelligent eyes with tears, and her beautiful mouth would break into
smiles and dimples at even the echo of wit or jest.”

This is singularly interesting as the evidence of a woman, one of the few
who were intimate with Lady Blessington. Of an Irish woman too, who could
perceive and appreciate the womanly side of Lady Blessington’s simple
nature. Simple, yes; she was just a simple, emotional, luxury-loving,
laughter-loving sympathetic Irish woman, who under favourable
circumstances might have been a true and adorable wife and helpmate; who
under the circumstances that did rule her life, became—Lady Blessington.

Such first-hand testimony as that of Mrs S. C. Hall is worth a wilderness
of commentary; to it we will add this from Lady Blessington’s maid, Anne

“My lady’s spirits were naturally good: before she was overpowered with
difficulties, and troubles on account of them, she was very cheerful,
droll, and particularly amusing. This was natural to her. Her general
health was usually good; she often told me she had never been confined to
her bed one whole day in her life. And her spirits would have continued
good, but that she got so overwhelmed with care and expenses of all
kinds. The calls for her assistance were from all quarters. Some depended
wholly on her (and had a regular pension, quarterly paid)—her father and
mother, for many years before they died; the education of children of
friends fell upon her.… Constant assistance had to be given to others—(to
the family, in particular, of one poor lady, now dead some years, whom
she loved very dearly). She did a great many charities; for instance, she
gave very largely to poor literary people, poor artists; something yearly
to old servants … and from some, whom she served, to add to all her other
miseries, she met with shameful ingratitude.

“Labouring night and day at literary work, all her anxiety was to be
clear of debt. She was latterly constantly trying to curtail all her
expenses in her own establishment, and constantly toiling to get money.
Worried and harassed at not being able to pay bills when they were sent
in; at seeing large expenses still going on, and knowing the want of
means to meet them, she got no sleep at night. She long wished to give up
Gore House, to have a sale of her furniture, and to pay off her debts.
She wished this for two years before she left England; but when the
famine in Ireland rendered the payment of her jointure irregular, and
every succeeding year more and more so, her difficulties increased, and,
at last, Howell & James put an execution in the house.… Poor soul! her
heart was too large for her means.”

Still Lady Blessington fought on, and faced the footlights without
outward faltering; she played her part in the comedy and received the
applause of her friends, few of whom realised that the comedy was a
tragedy. “Passion! Possession! Indifference!” she writes, “what a
history is comprised in these three words! What hopes and fears succeeded
by a felicity as brief as intoxicating—followed in its turn by the old
consequence of possession—indifference! What burning tears, what bitter
pangs, rending the very heartstrings—what sleepless nights and watchful
days form part of this everyday story of life, whose termination leaves
the actors to search again for new illusions to finish like the last.”
But what new illusions can be looked for by a tried, sad woman of sixty?

D’Orsay was locked up in Gore House during these last two years of sunset
for six days out of each seven; debt hung like a millstone round his neck
also. These two, who had sailed over happy seas with favourable winds,
were now together drifting on the rocks.

One day in April a sheriff’s officer, effectually disguised, managed to
enter the house, and then the end of this second act of our play came
rapidly. Lady Blessington informed of the mishap, realising that once it
was known that an execution was laid upon her property there would no
more be any safety for the Count’s person, sent to D’Orsay’s room to warn
him of his danger.

“Bah!” exclaimed D’Orsay, unable or unwilling to believe that the hour
for flight had at last come upon him; and again and again “Bah!” Not
until Lady Blessington herself added her personal persuasion did he grasp
the situation.

De Contades gives a somewhat different account. Just before the dinner
hour, a pastry-cook’s boy presented himself at Gore House with a dish,
sent in, so he said, by the confectioner. Having left this in the
kitchen, he deliberately walked upstairs to the Count’s dressing-room.

“Well, who’s that?” asked D’Orsay.

It was a sheriff’s officer!

“Really!” exclaimed D’Orsay, and demanded that he should be permitted to
complete the tying of his tie—_salon_ or prison—his tie must be perfect.

“But, Count—”

“Bah, bah! All in good time.”

The officer was quite interested in the tying of that tie; few men had
been so honoured as to be allowed to see how D’Orsay tied his tie—and,
lo! by the time the tie _was_ tied, the sun had sunk to rest and D’Orsay
was free till sunrise!

“John,” said D’Orsay, calmly walking off to the drawing-room, “kick this
chap out of the door.”

The which was executed and the writ was not.

In the grey of the morning, however, D’Orsay, taking every precaution
against capture on the way, set out for Paris with a valet, a valise,
and an umbrella. The words of a great man at any moment of crisis in his
affairs are worth recording; one of D’Orsay’s last remarks in London was:
“Well, at least, if I have nothing else, I will have the best umbrella!”

That was the bravado of a brave man. What really was in his mind? What
were Napoleon’s thoughts as he turned his back upon Moscow? What were
D’Orsay’s as he fled that morning, conquered, from the town he had
captured and enslaved so long?



Before following D’Orsay to Paris, we will witness the end of the
Blessington _régime_ at Gore House. The harassed lady’s creditors swarmed
round her; she had given bills and bonds in anticipation of her jointure
for something like £1500; Howell & James’ account seems to have amounted
to £4000!! Money-lenders, bill-discounters, tax-collectors, tradesmen of
every kind, all rushed in to see what could be saved. In the event it was
found impossible to avoid a sale of her goods and effects.

On April 9th, 1849, Lady Blessington writes to Forster from Gore House:

“As I purpose leaving England in a few days, it will pain me very much to
depart without personally wishing you farewell; and though I am in all
the fever of packing up, I will make time to receive a visit from you, if
you can call any day this week between eleven o’clock in the fore-noon,
or after nine in the evening. Count d’Orsay was called to Paris so
suddenly, that he had not time to take leave of any of his friends, but
he charged me to say a thousand kind things to you.”



The following from Disraeli reached her in Paris:—

                                                 _25th April 1849._

    “We returned to town on the 16th, and a few days after, I
    called at Gore House, but you were gone. It was a pang; for
    though absorbing duties of my life have prevented me of late
    from passing as much time under that roof as it was once my
    happiness and good fortune through your kindness to do; you are
    well assured, that my heart never changed for an instant to its
    inmates and that I invariably entertained for them the same
    interest and affection.

    “Had I been aware of your intentions, I would have come up to
    town earlier, and specially to have said ‘Adieu!’ mournful as
    that is.

    “I thought I should never pay another visit to Paris, but I
    have now an object in doing so. All the world here will miss
    you very much, and the charm with which you invested existence;
    but for your own happiness, I am persuaded you have acted
    wisely. Every now and then, in this life, we require a great
    change; it wonderfully revives the sense of existence. I envy
    you; pray, if possible, let me sometimes hear from you.”

Thackeray writes to Mrs Brookfield:—

“I have just come away from a dismal sight; Gore House full of snobs
looking at the furniture. Foul Jews; odious bombazine women, who drove
up in mysterious flys which they had hired, the wretches, to be fined (?
fine), so as to come in state to a fashionable lounge; brutes keeping
their hats on in the kind old drawing-room—I longed to knock some of them
off, and say, ‘Sir, be civil in a lady’s room.…’ There was one of the
servants there, not a powdered one, but a butler, a _whatd’youcallit_. My
heart melted towards him and I gave him a pound. Ah! it was a strange,
sad picture of _Vanity Fair_.”

The catalogue of the sale gives an idea of the “household gods”:—

“Costly and elegant effects: comprising all the magnificent furniture,
rare porcelain, sculpture in marble, bronzes, and an assemblage of
objects of art and decoration; a casket of valuable jewellery and
_bijouterie_, services of chased silver and silver-gilt plate, a
superbly-fitted silver dressing-case; collection of ancient and modern
pictures, including many portraits of distinguished persons, valuable
original drawings, and fine engravings, framed and in portfolios; the
extensive and interesting library of books, comprising upwards of 5000
volumes, expensive table services of china and rich cut glass, and an
infinity of useful and valuable articles. All the property of the Right
Hon. the Countess of Blessington, retiring to the Continent.”

So wrote Mr Phillips, “that eminent author of auctioneering

The sale took place in May, and was attended by a crowd of fashionables,
and the net sum realised was £11,985, 4s. 0d. Lawrence’s portrait of
Lady Blessington, now in the Wallace Collection, fetched £336 and was
purchased by Lord Hertford, who also acquired D’Orsay’s portrait of the
Duke of Wellington for £189. Chalon’s portrait of Lady Blessington was
saved from the wreck; it is now in the National Portrait Gallery.

Lady Blessington’s French valet, Avillon, writes to her:—

                                           “GORE HOUSE, KENSINGTON,
                                                   _May 8th, 1849_.

    “MY LADY,—J’ai bien reçu votre lettre, et je me serais empressé
    d’y répondre le même jour, mais j’ai été si occupé étant le
    premier de la vente qu’il m’a été impossible de le faire.
    J’ai vu M. P.⸺ dans l’après midi. Il avais un commis ici pour
    prendre le prix des différents objets vendu le 7 May, et que
    vous avez sans doute reçu maintenant, au dire des gens qui ont
    assisté à la vente. Les choses se sont vendus avant agencement
    et je dois ajouter que M. Phillips n’a rien négligé pour rendre
    la vente intéressante a toute la noblesse d’ici.

    “Lord Hertford a acheté plusieurs choses, et ce n’est que
    dimanche dernier fort tard dans l’après midi, qu’il est venu
    voir la maison. En un mot je pense sans exagération, que le
    nombre de personnes qui sont venus a la maison pendant les 5
    jours quelle a été en vue, que plus de 20,000 personnes y sont
    entrées; une très grande quantité de Catalogue ont été vendus,
    et nous en vendons encore tous les jours, car vous le savez,
    personne n’est admis sans cela. Plusieurs des personnes qui
    fréquantent la maison sont venus les deux premiers jours.…

    “Le Dr. Quin est venu plusieurs fois, et á paru prendre le
    plus grand intêret a ce qui se passait ici. M. Thackeray est
    venu aussi, et avait les larmes aux yeux en partant. _C’est
    peut-être la seule personne que j’ai vu réellement affecté a
    votre depart._”

Lady Blessington and her two nieces had left for Paris on 14th April.



Lady Blessington returned to the city where her husband had died; D’Orsay
to serve under another Napoleon than he to whom he had once aspired to
render duty. Lady Blessington took a suite of rooms in the Hôtel de la
Ville l’Evêque, but shortly moved into an _appartement_ in the Rue du
Cerq, hard by the Champs Elysées, which she furnished, partly with some
of the salvage from the sale, and where she lived very cosily upon her

The following letter is from Henry Bulwer:—

                                                    “_May 6, 1849._

    “I was very glad to get your letter. I never had a doubt (I
    judged by myself) that your friends would remain always your
    friends, and I was sure that many who were not Alfred’s when he
    was away, would become so when he was present.[35] It would be
    great ingratitude if Prince Louis forgot former kindnesses and
    services, and I must say, that I do not think him capable of

    “I think you will take a house in Paris or near it, and I hope
    some day there to find you, and to renew some of the many happy
    hours I have spent in your society. I shall attend the sale,
    and advise all my friends to do so. From what I hear, things
    will probably sell well. I am sure that Samson will execute any
    commission for you when he goes to Paris, and I gave Douro
    your message, who returns it.…”

Napoleon as President, however, was a different man from a mere Prince
in Exile, and could scarcely show himself as intimate in Paris with
Lady Blessington and D’Orsay as he had done in London. Accompanied
by the Misses Power they dined at the Elysée Palace, and then social
intercourse apparently ceased. That D’Orsay had in other days been of
great assistance to Napoleon, and that Lady Blessington had been to him a
most kind hostess, there is no denying; they expected much now in return,
but Napoleon could scarcely in decency give much.

It is narrated that Napoleon said to Lady Blessington: “Are you going to
stay long in France?”

And that she with more wit than wisdom replied: “I don’t know. _Are you?_”

Lady Blessington was warmly welcomed by many of her old friends, notably
by various members of the family of de Grammont. She tried to resume in a
minor key at Paris the life she had led at Gore House; but the endeavour

A letter from Lady Blessington’s niece, Margaret Power, brings us to the
closing scene of this portion of our story:—

“On arriving in Paris, my aunt followed a mode of life differing
considerably from the sedentary one she had for such a length of time
pursued; she rose earlier, took much exercise, and, in consequence, lived
somewhat higher than was her wont, for she was habitually a remarkably
small eater; this appeared to agree with her _general_ health, for she
looked well, and was cheerful; but she began to suffer occasionally
(especially in the morning) from oppression and difficulty of breathing.
These symptoms, slight at first, she carefully concealed from our
knowledge, having always a great objection to medical treatment; but as
they increased in force and frequency, she was obliged to reveal them,
and medical aid was immediately called in. Dr Léon Simon pronounced
there was _énergie du cœur_, but that the symptoms in question proceeded
probably from bronchitis—a disease then very prevalent in Paris—that
they were nervous, and entailed no danger, and as, after the remedies
he prescribed, the attacks diminished perceptibly in violence, and her
general health seemed little affected by them, he entertained no serious

“On the 3rd of June, she was removed from the hotel we had occupied
during the seven weeks we had passed in Paris, and entered the residence
which my poor aunt had devoted so much pains and attention to the
selecting and furnishing of, and that same day dined _en famille_
with the Duc and Duchesse de Guiche (Count d’Orsay’s nephew). On that
occasion, my aunt seemed particularly well in health and spirits, and it
being a lovely night, we walked home by moonlight. As usual, I aided my
aunt to undress—she never allowed her maid to sit up for her—and left her
a little after midnight. She passed, it seems, some most restless hours
(she was habitually a bad sleeper), and early in the morning, feeling
the commencement of one of the attacks, she called for assistance, and
Dr Simon was immediately sent for, the symptoms manifesting themselves
with considerable violence, and in the meantime, the remedies he had
ordered—sitting upright, rubbing the chest and upper stomach with ether,
administering ether, internally, etc.—were all resorted to without
effect; the difficulty of breathing became so excessive, that the whole
of the chest heaved upwards at each inspiration, which was inhaled with
a loud whooping noise, the face was swollen and purple, the eyeballs
distended, and utterance almost wholly denied, while the extremities
gradually became cold and livid, in spite of every attempt to restore the
vital heat. By degrees, the violence of the symptoms abated; she uttered
a few words; the first, ‘The violence is over, I can breathe freer’;
and soon after, ‘_Quelle heure est-il?_’ Thus encouraged, we deemed the
danger past; but, alas! how bitterly were we deceived; she gradually sank
from that moment, and when Dr Simon, who had been delayed by another
patient, arrived, he saw that hope was gone; and, indeed, she expired so
easily, so tranquilly, that it was impossible to perceive the moment when
her spirit passed away.”

D’Orsay was alone.

The autopsy showed that death was caused by enlargement of the heart.
The body was embalmed and lay in the vaults of the Madeleine until the
monument at Chambourcy, where was the seat of the de Grammonts, a few
miles from St Germain-en-Laye, was ready to receive it. The mausoleum,
designed by D’Orsay, stands upon a slight eminence; a railing of bronze
encloses a pyramid of granite rising from a square platform of black
stone. Entering the burial chamber, against the opposite wall is a copy
in bronze of Michael Angelo’s crucified Christ. On either side the
chamber stands a sarcophagus—in that to the left lies Lady Blessington.
“It stands,” writes Miss Power, “on a hillside, just above the village
cemetery, and overlooks a view of exquisite beauty and immense extent,
taking in the Seine winding through the fertile valley and the forest of
St Germain; plains, villages and far distant hills, and at the back and
side it is sheltered by chestnut trees of large size and great age; a
more picturesque spot it is difficult to imagine.” The ivy growing over
the green turf was sent from Ireland by Bernal Osborne.

On the wall above the tomb of Lady Blessington are two epitaphs, one in
Latin by Landor; the other by Barry Cornwall, which runs as follows:—

                          IN HER LIFETIME
                    SHE WAS LOVED AND ADMIRED,
                         IN DISTANT LANDS,
                      SOUGHT HER FRIENDSHIP:
                   PAINTERS, OF HER OWN COUNTRY,
                    FOUND AN UNFAILING WELCOME
                   IN HER EVER HOSPITABLE HOME.
                           AND SHE DIED
                     LAMENTED BY HER FRIENDS.
                      OVER HER PLACE OF REST.

So far truth, and it is not to be expected of an epitaph that it should
tell the whole truth.



(_From a Photograph (?) by D’Orsay_)




In April 1849, D’Orsay writes to Dr Quin from Paris:—

                                      “38 RUE DE LA VILLE L’EVEQUE.

    “MON BON QUIN,—J’ai eu un départ imprévu heureusement, que je
    suis _safe_ de ce côté. Il a fallu que je me décide de partir
    à 3 hrs de la nuit pour ne pas manquer le Dimanche. Ces dames
    vous racontent qu’une de mes prèmieres pensées ici ont été pour
    vous. Vous le voyez par ce peu de mots—aimez moi toujours de
    loin, car je vous aimais bien de près.—Votre meilleur ami,


The death of Lady Blessington was a blow to him from which he never
really recovered. Writing to Madden from Chambourcy on 12th July, Miss
Power says:—

“Count d’Orsay would himself have answered your letter, but had not the
nerve or the heart to do so; although the subject occupies his mind
night and day, he cannot speak of it but to those who have been his
fellow-sufferers. It is like an image ever floating before his eyes,
which he has got, as it were, used to look upon, but which he cannot
yet bear to grasp and feel that it is real. Much as she was to us, we
cannot but feel that to him she was all; the centre of his existence,
round which his recollections, thoughts, hopes and plans turned, and just
at the moment she was about to commence a new mode of life, one that
promised a rest from the occupation and anxieties that had for some
years fallen to her share, death deprived us of her.”

The first visit that he paid to her tomb had a heart-breaking effect upon
him; at one moment he would be stunned, at another driven to frenzy by
his grief. What thoughts of past times must have assailed him: of his
first meeting with her in London so many years ago; of the long days
and nights of delight in Italy; of his marriage, perchance; of Seamore
Place, of Gore House; of hours of merriment and of sorrow; of her tried
faithfulness to him; of his occasional faithlessness. That his love for
her survived even the advance of years we cannot doubt; but the love of
man is different far from the love of woman.

In a letter, already partly quoted, to Lane, D’Orsay says, writing early
in 1850:—

“Poor Miss Power is very much affected. There is no consolation to
offer. The only one that I can imagine, is to think continually of the
person lost, and to make oneself more miserable by thinking. It is,
morally speaking, an homœopathic treatment, and the only one which can
give some relief. You cannot form an idea of the _soulagement_ that I
found, in occupying myself in the country (at Chambourcy) in building
the monument which I have erected to dear Lady Blessington’s memory. I
made it so solid and so fine, that I felt all the time that death was
the reality and life only the dream of all around me. When I hear anyone
making projects for the future, I laugh, feeling as I do now, that we may
to-morrow, without five minutes’ notice, have to follow those we regret.
I am prepared for that, with a satisfactory resignation.”

D’Orsay wrote to Forster on April 23rd, 1850:—

    “Miss Power has told you how much I love you, and how often
    we talk about you. The fact is, I am full of reminiscences,
    and they are such a medley of displeasure and pleasure that
    I hesitate to write even to those who are most likely to
    understand me. Just think that I have not even yet written to
    Edward Bulwer. You’ll understand, I’m sure. To-day I dined with
    Lamartine and Victor Hugo at Girardin’s.…

    “Do not let Fonblanque think I have forgotten him? Give a
    thousand friendly wishes from me to Dickens and his wife,
    and embrace my godson for me. I count also on your speaking
    kindly of me to Macready and his wife, and to the good Maclise.
    It seems to me almost as if I had only gone away to-day, my
    recollections are so vivid; it is truly a daguerreotype of the
    heart that nothing can efface. I adore old England, and long
    to return there. Never did man so suffer as I have done for my

    “I wonder at those religious people who hold religion so high
    that they quickly find consolation. They do not understand, the
    idiots, that there is a great, a greater faith in a true sorrow
    which does not heal.

    “Adieu, _mon brave ami_, count always on my affection,


He found comfort in the companionship of Lady Blessington’s two nieces,
Margaret and Ellen. To a certain extent he avoided mixing in society, but
we hear of him now and again.

In 1850 he rented a large studio and some smaller rooms in the house
of Theodore Gudin, the marine painter, to which he conveyed all his
belongings, and where he settled down to work and sedate entertaining.
Here Thackeray visited him:—

“To-day I went to see D’Orsay, who has made a bust of Lamartine,[37] who
… is mad with vanity. He has written some verses on his bust, and asks:
‘Who is this? Is it a warrior? Is it a hero? Is it a priest? Is it a
sage? Is it a tribune of the people? Is it an Adonis?’ meaning that he is
all these things,—verses so fatuous and crazy I never saw. Well, D’Orsay
says they are the finest verses that ever were written, and imparts to
me a translation which Miss Power has made of them; and D’Orsay believes
in his mad rubbish of a statue, which he didn’t make; believes in it in
the mad way that madmen do,—that it is divine, and that he made it; only
as you look in his eyes, you see that he doesn’t quite believe, and when
pressed hesitates, and turns away with a howl of rage. D’Orsay has fitted
himself up a charming _atelier_, with arms and trophies, pictures and
looking-glasses, the tomb of Blessington, the sword and star of Napoleon,
and a crucifix over his bed; and here he dwells without any doubts or
remorses, admiring himself in the most horrible pictures which he has
painted, and the statues which he gets done for him.”

Lord Lamington gives a curious account of a visit:—

I “found his room all hung with black curtains, the bed and
window-curtains were the same; all the souvenirs of one so dear were
collected around him.”

Of the friends that rallied around him, Madden names as among the most
faithful the ex-King Jérôme and his son, Prince Napoleon, and Emile
de Girardin. Of the man of the bust, D’Orsay writes, in April 1850:
“Lamartine me disait hier: ‘Plus je vois de représentants du peuple, plus
j’aime mes chiens.’”

Early in February 1851 we find Dickens in Paris, stopping at the Hôtel
Wagram; D’Orsay dined with him on the 11th and Dickens went in return to
the _atelier_ the next day. “He was very happy with us,” he writes, “and
is much improved both in spirits and looks.”

In May 1850 Abraham Hayward was in Paris, and dined at Philippe’s with
a highly-distinguished company, including Brougham, Alexandre Dumas,
Lord Dufferin, the Hon. W. Stuart, a Mr Dundas of Carron, Hayward
himself and D’Orsay. Lord Dufferin, who, however, gives 1849 as the
date, describes this dinner as “noisy but amusing.” The object of the
dinner was the bringing together of Brougham and Dumas:—“Brougham
was punctual to the hour, and they were formally introduced by Count
d’Orsay, who, observing some slight symptoms of stiffness, exclaimed:
‘_Comment, diable, vous, les deux grands hommes, embrassez-vous donc,
embrassez-vous._’ They fraternised accordingly _à la française_, Brougham
looking very much during the operation as if he were in the grip of a
bear, though nobody could look more cordial and satisfied than Dumas. The
dinner was excellent. Some first rate _Clos de Vougeot_, of which Dumas
had an accurate foreknowledge, sustained the hilarity of the company;
the conversation was varied and animated; each of the distinguished
guests took his fair share, and no more than his fair share; and it was
bordering on midnight when the party separated.”

The price of the dinner was twenty francs a head, not including the wine,
and D’Orsay and Hayward were jointly responsible for the _menu_. “The
most successful dishes were the _bisque_, the _fritures Italiennes_, and
the _gigot à la Bretonne_,” so says Hayward.

In his latest days he still retained a keen zest for the good things of
the table, as is shown by this letter of his to Hayward:—

                                            “PARIS, _1st May 1852_.

    “I must confess with regret that the culinary art has sadly
    fallen off in Paris; and I do not very clearly see how it is to
    recover, as there are at present no great establishments where
    the school can be kept up.

    “You must have remarked, when you were here, that at all the
    first-class _restaurants_ you had nearly the same dinner; they
    may, however, be divided into three categories. Undoubtedly,
    the best for a great dinner and good wine are the Frères
    Provençaux (Palais Royal); Philippe (Rue Mont Orgueil), and the
    Café de Paris; the latter is not always to be counted upon,
    but is excellent when they give you a _soigné_ dinner. In the
    second class are Véry (Palais Royal), Vefour (Café Anglais),
    and Champeaux (Place de la Bourse), where you can have a most
    _conscientious_ dinner, good without pretension; the situation
    is central, in a beautiful garden, and you must ask for a
    _bifstek à la Châteaubriand_. At the head of the third class we
    must place Bonvallet, on the Boulevard du Temple, near all the
    little theatres; Defieux, chiefly remarkable for corporation
    and assembly dinners.… The two best places for suppers are
    the Maison d’Or and the Café Anglais; and for breakfasts,
    Tortoni’s, and the Café d’Orsay on the Quai d’Orsay. In the
    vicinity of Paris, the best _restaurant_ is the Pavilion Henri
    Quatre, at St Germains, kept by the old cook of the Duchesse
    de Berri. At none of these places could you find dinners now
    such as were produced by Ude; by Soyer, formerly with Lord
    Chesterfield; by Rotival, with Lord Wilton; or by Perron, with
    Lord Londonderry.… You are now _au fait_ of the pretended
    French gastronomy. It has emigrated to England, and has no wish
    to return. We do not absolutely die of hunger here, and that is
    all that can be said.”

A few other friends were faithful. There was Eugene Sue, a much read
man in his day, but his name drags on a precarious existence now as the
author of _The Mysteries of Paris_ and _The Wandering Jew_. Probably
his chief claim to immortality will be found to be his friendship
with D’Orsay, who indeed inspired him with the central figure of “Le
Viscomte de Letocère, ou L’Art de Plaire.” He was quite a dandy in his
way, though of course not comparable in degree with D’Orsay, and,
strange combination, was a bit of a Communist. He gave vent to the true
saying that “No one had any right to superfluity”—not even excepting
D’Orsay?—“while any one was in want of necessaries.” Yet this is a
description of his manner of “doing himself:”—

“It is impossible to convey an idea of this luxury, of the sumptuousness
of those caprices, of those whims of all kinds: here a dining-room, where
the sideboards display plate, porcelain, and crystal, with pictures and
flowers, to add to the pleasures of the table all the pleasures of the
eyes; there an inner gallery, where pictures, statuettes, drawings,
and engravings, reproduce subjects the most calculated to excite the
imagination. Here is a library full of antiques, whose bookcases contain
works bound with unheard-of luxury, where objects of art are multiplied
with an absence of calculated affectation, which appears as if wishing
to say they came there naturally. Daylight, shaded by the painted glass
windows, and curtains of the richest stuff, gives to this place an
air of mystery, invites to silence and to study, and produces those
eccentric inspirations which M. Sue gives to the public. A desk, richly
carved, receives sundry manuscripts of the romance-writer, the numerous
_homages_ sent to Monsieur, as the valet expresses himself, from all
the corners of the globe.… Everywhere may be seen gold, silver, silk,
velvet, and soft carpets.… A vast drawing-room, furnished and decorated
with all imaginable care, exactly reproduces that of one of the heroines
of romance of Monsieur Eugene Sue, and there have been carved on the
woodwork of a Gothic mantelpiece medallions representing the Magdalen
falling at the feet of our Saviour, who tells her that her sins will
be forgiven her, because her love has been strong.… A small gallery,
lined with odoriferous plants, leads to a circular walk, which surrounds
a garden cultivated in the most expensive manner, and there is a fine
piece of water, with numerous swans in it. The walk is a _chef-d’œuvre_
of comfort, for it is alike protected from the wind and the rain, being
covered with a dome. It is enclosed with balustrades, covered with
creeping plants of the choicest nature. It is a sort of terrestrial
paradise … and beyond it is a park, admirably laid out with kiosques,
rustic cottages, elegant bridges, and a preserve for pheasants, which
secures myriads of birds for the shooting excursions of the illustrious
Communist, whose keepers exercise a severe look-out to prevent any person
from touching the game.” A paradise almost worthy of being the home of

Sue rightly appreciated D’Orsay, and wrote thus of him to Lady
Blessington: “Je quitte Alfred avec une vraie tristesse; plus je le
connais, plus j’apprecie ce bon, ce vaillant cœur, si chaud, si génereux
pour ceux qu’il aime.”

Arsène Houssaye had seen D’Orsay at a dinner at Lamartine’s, but had not
spoken with him. Houssaye wrote him down as a very fascinating man, “with
a smiling air which comes from and speaks to the heart.” Rachel came into
Houssaye’s office to meet him.

“It’s natural I should find you here,” he said, “for it was to see you I
came to see Arsène Houssaye. You play _Phèdre_ to-night; I should count
it great luck to be there, but there’s not a single seat to be got either
in the stalls or the balcony.”

“True,” said Manager Houssaye, “but there’s my own box, which I offer you
with all my heart.”

“Good! I accept it as an act of friendship, for it’s the best in the
house. I’ll offer it to the Duchesse de Grammont, who will come with

The evening was a great success for all concerned, and Rachel gracefully
said—“Comment ne jouerais-je pas bien quand je vois dans l’avant-scène
deux Hippolytes?”

D’Orsay and Houssaye became quite good friends, and the latter frequently
visited the Count in his studio, which he describes as “being at once the
_salon_, studio, work-room, smoking-room, fitted with divans, couches and
hammocks.” D’Orsay made a small medallion portrait of his visitor, and
chatted much about Byron, from whom he showed a curious letter in which
the poet says: “If I started life again, I would live unknown in Paris;
I would not write a word, not even to women; but one cannot start life
afresh, which is lucky!”

A very different view, however, is that which now follows:—

Count Horace de Viel Castel notes: “The journals say that Count d’Orsay
has received the commission for a marble statue of Prince Jérôme to be
placed at Versailles. So much the worse for Versailles.

“The Count is an old ‘lion,’ whom nobody now knows or receives. He has
lived with his mother-in-law, Lady Blessington, the blue-stocking of the
_keepsakes_, and with everyone but his wife, Lady Henrietta d’Orsay, who
was the mistress of the Duke d’Orleans, of Antoine de Noailles, and a
host of lesser stars.

“Count d’Orsay for twenty years lived on the aristocracy and the
tradespeople of London. Steeped in debt, he has now turned artist,
backed by a following of nonentities.… Every year he disfigures some
contemporaneous celebrity either in marble or plaster; last time it was

“D’Orsay has still great pretensions to elegance, and dresses like no one
else, with a display of embroidered linen, satin, gold chains, and hair
all disordered.”

Accusations of a more serious character also he brings against him, even
that he tried to persuade Jérôme Bonaparte that he was his son, so that
he might receive some place or promotion.

Then on December 2nd, 1851, came the thunderclap of the _coup d’état_,
when the Prince who had become a President created himself an Emperor,
and at the same time appears to have put an end to his friendship
toward D’Orsay. Shortly after the event, D’Orsay was dining with a
large company, and naturally the _coup d’état_ came up for discussion
and comment. D’Orsay was quite outspoken in his condemnation, and said:
“It is the greatest political swindle that ever has been practised in
the world!” Which remark very naturally created considerable dismay in
the circle; it is not wise to express too freely adverse opinions of
emperors—while they are alive.

In Abraham Hayward’s _Correspondence_, considerable light is thrown upon
D’Orsay’s opinions of Napoleon and the political situation in Paris. On
17th January 1850, he writes from 38 Rue de la Ville l’Evêque:—

    “MON CHER HAYWARD,—J’aurois dû vous répondre plus tôt, pour
    vous remercier de l’article que vous m’avez envoyé. J’attendois
    d’avoir vu Louis Napoléon. Nous voici de retour à Paris,
    établi pour l’Hiver qui est des plus _rudes_. Les affaires ici
    vont mal; l’amour propre en souffrance fait tous les grands
    révolutionnaires en France, il n’y a pas dix hommes de bonne
    foi dans ce beau pays; les gens opposent dans la Chambre les
    lois qu’ils avait eux-mêmes proposées anciennement. Thiers
    et Berryer, bavards de profession, sont si versés d’être mis
    de côté, qu’ils combinent une conjuration de Catalina. Les
    élections de Paris montreront définitivement de quel côté est
    le vent; en attendant, dans le midi, le gouvernement est obligé
    de donner son appui à des candidats légitimistes, plutôt que
    de voir des extrêmes rouges remporter la victoire, c’est bien
    tomber de Charybdis dans Scylla. Napoléon a le plus grand désir
    _to run straight_, mais les _crossins_ et _jostlings_ cherchent
    à l’empêcher, vous devez vous en apercevoir.… Rappelez-moi
    au bon souvenir de mes amis d’Angleterre, j’y suis souvent
    en pensée, et malgré que cela soit toujours avec un grand
    sentiment de tristesse je préfère cela aux gaietés de Paris.
    Votre très dévoué,


Then on the 5th, possibly the 6th, of December 1851, D’Orsay sends over
to Hayward for publication in the English Press, the letter published
in Paris on the 4th by Jérôme, which was scarcely calculated to please
nephew Louis. Two lines in D’Orsay’s covering note are striking:—“I
always think of dear old England, that one must like every day more from
what we see everywhere else.”

On 2nd January, of the year following, D’Orsay writes a long and
interesting letter to Hayward, in which he says emphatically that he was
and is strongly opposed to the _coup d’état_, and that on account of it
Louis Napoleon had sunk in his estimation, as he had believed him to be
a man as good as his word. He held that Napoleon would have “arrived”
without employing illegitimate means, and that Republicanism was an
almost negligible quantity. After discussing the standing of various
leaders and parties, he continues:—

“Vous voyez que je suis juste et impartial, quoique je suis reconnu,
depuis 40 années, d’être le plus grand et le plus sincère Napoléonien
qui existe.” And: “Vous ne pouvez concevoir à quel point les gens ici
sont courtisans et plats valets; vanité et succès sont les deux mots
d’ordres.… Tout marche à l’Empire.” In conclusion: “Ah! if I were rich, I
would soon be in London. Here I am an exile.”

A few days later he writes again to much the same purport, and says:
“J’ai l’air d’être dans une opposition, parce que je n’approuve pas la
route que Louis a pris pour arriver où il en est maintenant.” Who can
doubt that Louis Napoleon blundered in not asking for and accepting
D’Orsay’s advice? But then it was natural that he should not have done
so; the little seldom care to accept the aid of the great.



In the early part of 1852 a trouble of the spine became apparent, causing
poor D’Orsay much pain and sickness, which he bore with admirable and
uncomplaining patience. In July the doctors ordered him to Dieppe,
whither he went accompanied by the faithful Misses Power; but it was too
late; death was evidently at hand. At the end of the month he returned to
Paris, to die.

On 2nd August, the Archbishop of Paris visited him, and on parting,
embraced him, saying: “J’ai pour vous plus que de l’amitié, j’ai de
l’affection.” The next day he received the last consolations of the
Church at the hands of the curé of Chambourcy.

Madden had visited him during his last weeks, and has left a strange
account of an interview with him, which must be quoted verbatim:—

“The wreck only of the _beau_ D’Orsay was there.

“He was able to sit up and walk, though with difficulty and evidently
with pain, about his room, which was at once his studio, reception
room, and sleeping apartment. He burst out crying when I entered the
room, and continued for a length of time so much affected that he could
hardly speak to me. Gradually he became composed, and talked about Lady
Blessington’s death, but all the time with tears pouring down his pale
wan face, for even then his features were death-stricken.

“He said with marked emphasis: ‘_In losing her I lost everything in this
world—she was to me a mother! a dear, dear mother!_ a true _loving mother
to me!_’ While he uttered these words he sobbed and cried like a child.
And referring to them, he again said: ‘_You understand_ me, Madden.’”

Madden believed D’Orsay to have been speaking in all sincerity. What are
we to believe? There is something almost terrible in this scene of the
dying dandy, broken down in body and spirits, making a gallant effort to
clear the name he had for years besmirched. But the statements of the
dying must not be allowed to weigh against the deeds of the living. And
would the dead lady have been pleased?

Madden continues:—

“I said, among the many objects which caught my attention in the room,
I was very glad to see a crucifix placed over the head of his bed;
men living in the world as he had done, were so much in the habit of
forgetting all early religious feelings. D’Orsay seemed hurt at the
observation. I then plainly said to him:—

“‘The fact is, I imagined, or rather I supposed, you had followed Lady
Blessington’s example, if not in giving up your own religion, in seeming
to conform to another more in vogue in England.’

“D’Orsay rose up with considerable energy, and stood erect and firm with
obvious exertion for a few seconds, looking like himself again, and
pointing to the head of the bed, he said:

“‘Do you see those two swords?’ pointing to two small swords (which were
hung over the crucifix crosswise); ‘do you see that sword to the right?
With that sword I fought in defence of my religion.’”

He then briefly narrated the story of the duel which we have already told.

During his last illness, D’Orsay received from the Emperor the
appointment of Director of Fine Arts. The honour came too late.

At three o’clock in the morning of the fourth of August 1852, aged
fifty-one, died Alfred, Count d’Orsay, the last and the greatest of the

He was buried at Chambourcy; the same monument covers his ashes and those
of Lady Blessington. In the absence of the Duke de Grammont, who was
confined to bed by illness, D’Orsay’s nephews, Count Alfred de Grammont
and the Duke de Lespare, were the chief mourners; the Duchesse de
Grammont, his sister, was there, and among others Prince Napoleon, Count
de Montaubon, M. Emile de Girardin, M. Charles Lafitte, M. Alexandre
Dumas fils, Mr Hughes Ball, and several other Englishmen.

Gronow says: “His death produced, both in London and Paris, a deep and
universal regret.”

But one who did not love him, Count Horace de Viel Castel, whom we have
before quoted, did not join in the chorus of regrets:—

“Count d’Orsay is dead, and all the papers are mourning his loss. He
leaves behind him they say, many _chefs-d’œuvres_, and on his death-bed
requested Clésinger to finish his bust of Prince Jérôme.

“D’Orsay had no talent; his statuettes are detestable and his busts
very bad; but a certain set cried him up for their own purposes, and
called him a great man. One newspaper goes so far as to affirm that on
hearing of his death the President said: ‘I have lost my best friend,’ a
statement which I know to be perfectly false.

“D’Orsay’s friends were the President’s enemies—the Jérôme Bonapartes,
Emile de Girardin, Lamartine, etc. He never pardoned the Prince for
not appointing him Ambassador to the Court of St James’, forgetting,
or purposely ignoring, the fact that such a thing was impossible. No
Government would have received him. His debts are fabulous.… The papers
inform us that he has been buried at Chambourcy (on the property of his
sister, the Duchesse de Grammont) in the same grave as his mother-in-law,
Lady Blessington. The incident is sublime; to make it complete,
perhaps they will engrave on his tombstone: ‘That his inconsolable and
heart-broken widow, etc. etc.’

“He died ten years too late, for he became at last merely a ridiculous
old doll. The President does not lose his best friend; on the contrary,
he is well rid of, a compromising schemer.”

Clésinger one day asked D’Orsay why he did not come to see him oftener.

“Because people say that it is I who make your statues,” responded
D’Orsay, with a smile.

“Really!” replied the sculptor, “I will come and see you; no one would
accuse me of being guilty of _yours_.”

Dickens wrote in _Household Words_: “Count d’Orsay, whose name is
publicly synonymous with elegant and graceful accomplishments; and who,
by those who knew him well, is affectionately remembered and regretted,
as a man whose great abilities might have raised him to any distinction,
and whose gentle heart even a world of fashion left unspoiled.”

Landor writes:—

“The death of poor, dear D’Orsay fell heavily tho’ not unexpectedly upon
me. Intelligence of his painful and hopeless malady reached me some weeks
before the event. With many foibles and grave faults, he was generous and
sincere. Neither spirits nor wit ever failed him, and he was ready at
all times to lay down his life for a friend. I felt a consolation in the
loss of Lady Blessington in the thought how unhappy she would have been
had she survived him. The world will never more see united such graceful
minds, so much genius and pleasantry, as I have met, year after year,
under her roof.…”


“To my deep grief perceived the notice of the death of dear Count
d’Orsay. No one who knew him and had affections could help loving him.
When he liked he was most fascinating and captivating. It was impossible
to be insensible to his graceful, frank, and most affectionate manner.…
He was the most brilliant, graceful, endearing man I ever saw—humorous,
witty, and clear-headed.”

D’Orsay’s good friend, Emile de Girardin, wrote in _La Presse_ of August
5th, 1852:—

Le Comte d’Orsay est mort ce matin à trois heures.

“La douleur et le vide de cette mort seront vivement ressentis par tous
les amis qu’il comptait en si grand nombre en France et en Angleterre,
dans tous les rangs de la société, et sous tous les drapeaux de la

“A Londres, les salons de Gore House furent toujours ouverts à tous les
proscrits politiques, qu’ils s’appelassent Louis Bonaparte ou Louis
Blanc, à tous les naufragés de la fortune et à toutes les illustrations
de l’art et de la science.

“A Paris, il n’avait qu’un vaste atelier, mais quiconque allait frapper
au nom d’un malheur à secourir ou d’un progrès à encourager, était
toujours assuré du plus affable accueil et du plus cordial concours.

“Avant le 2 Décembre, nul ne fit d’efforts plus réitérés pour que la
politique suivît un autre cours et s’élevât aux plus hautes aspirations.

“Après le 2 Décembre, nul ne s’employa plus activement pour amortir les
coups de la proscription: Pierre Dupont[38] le sait et peut le certifier.

“Le Président de la République n’avait pas d’ami à la fois plus dévoué
et plus sincère que le Comte d’Orsay; et c’est quand il venait de la
rapprocher de lui par le titre et les fonctions de surintendant des
beaux-arts qu’il le perd pour toujours.

“C’est une perte irréparable pour l’art et pour les artistes, mais c’est
une perte plus irréparable encore pour la Vérité et pour le Président
de la République, car les palais n’ont que deux portes ouvertes à la
Vérité: la porte de l’amitié et la porte de l’adversité, de l’amitié qui
est à l’adversité ce que l’éclair est à la foudre.

“La justice indivisible, la justice égale pour tous, la justice dont la
mort tient les balances, compte les jours quand elle ne mesure pas les
dons. Alfred d’Orsay avait été comblé de trop de dons—grand cœur, esprit,
un goût pur, beauté antique, force athlétique, adresse incomparable à
tous les exercises du corps, aptitude incontestâble à tous les arts
auxquels il s’était adonné; dessin, peinture, sculpture—Alfred d’Orsay
avait été comblé de trop de dons pour que ses jours ne fussent pas
parcimonieusement comptés. La mort a été inexorable, mais elle a été
juste. Elle ne l’a pas traité en homme vulgaire. Elle ne l’a pas pris,
elle l’a choisi.”

There is one more general summary of his character which must be given.
Grantley Berkeley tells a pleasant story of a dinner at the Old Ship
Hotel at Greenwich:—

“I remember a dinner at the Ship, where there were a good many ladies,
and where D’Orsay was of the party, during which his attention was
directed to a centre pane of glass in the bay-window over the Thames,
where some one had written, in large letters, with a diamond, D’Orsay’s
name in improper conjunction with a celebrated German _danseuse_ then
fulfilling an engagement at the Opera. With characteristic readiness
and _sang-froid_, he took an orange from a dish near him, and, making
some trifling remark on the excellence of the fruit, tossed it up once
or twice, catching it in his hand again. Presently, as if by accident,
he gave it a wider cant, and sent it through the window, knocking the
offensive words out of sight into the Thames.”

Then he continues:—

“D’Orsay was as clever and agreeable a companion as any in the world, and
perhaps as inventive and extravagant in dress as Beau Brummel, though
not so original nor so varied in the grades of costume through which his
imagination carried him. There were all sorts of hats and garments named
after him by their makers, more or less like those he wore, and a good
many men copied him to some extent in his attire. He and I adopted the
tight wristbands, turned back upon the sleeve of the coat upon the wrist,
in which fashion we were not followed by others, I am happy to say.…

“Among the peculiarities and accomplishments for which D’Orsay desired
to be famous was that of great muscular strength, as well as a knowledge
of all weapons, and when he shook hands with his friends it was with the
whole palm, with such an impressive clutch of the fingers as drove the
blood from the limb he held, and sent every ring on the hand almost to
the bone. The apparent frankness of manner and kind expression in his
good-looking face, when he met you with the exclamation, ‘_Ah, ha, mon
ami!_’ and grasped you by the hand, were charming, and we, who rather
prided ourselves on being able to do strong things, used to be ready for
this grasp, and exhibit our muscular powers in return. There is no man
who can so well imitate D’Orsay’s method of greeting in this particular
as my excellent friend, Dr Quin.

“Poor dear D’Orsay! He was a very accomplished, kind-hearted, and
graceful fellow, and much in request in what may be called the
fashionable world. I knew him well in his happier hours, I knew him
when he was in difficulties, and I knew him in distress; and when in
France I heard from Frenchmen that those in his native country to whom
he looked for high lucrative employment and patronage, and from whom
D’Orsay thought he had some claim to expect them, rather slighted his
pretensions; and when in his last, lingering, painful illness,[39] left
him to die too much neglected and alone.

“That D’Orsay was unwisely extravagant as well as not over-scrupulous
in morality, we know; but that is a man’s own affair, not that of his
friends. His faults, whatever they were, were covered, or at least
glossed over by real kindness of heart, great generosity, and prompt
good-nature, grace in manner, accomplishments, and high courage;
therefore, place him side by side with many of the men with whom he
lived in England, D’Orsay by comparison would have the advantage in many



Witnesses have been heard for the defence and for the prosecution; the
defendant himself has been examined and cross-examined; what is the

Lamb has told us that we must not take the immoral comedies of the
Restoration seriously. His argument does not bear precisely upon the case
in point, but it is of assistance. Lamb, speaking of plays, whereas we
are writing of history, says: “We have been spoiled with—not sentimental
comedy—but a tyrant far more pernicious to our pleasures which has
succeeded to it, the exclusive and all-devouring drama of common life.”
For “comedy” substitute “history”; for “drama” put “psychology” and we
can fit our text to our sermon, a thing often more easy to achieve than
to fit one’s sermon to one’s text. We had been surfeited with sentimental
history, with the white-washing of sinners and the super-humanising of
saints; we therefore turned to what we are pleased to call real life, and
taking everything seriously have made everything dull.

Let us return to our Lamb for a moment:—

“I confess for myself that (with no great delinquencies to answer for) I
am glad for a season to take an airing beyond the diocese of the strict
conscience—not to live always in the precincts of the law-courts—but now
and then, for a dream-while or so, to imagine a world with no meddling
restrictions—to get into recesses, whither the hunter cannot follow me—

    ‘⸺ Secret shades
    Of woody Ida’s inmost grave,
    While yet there was no fear of Jove.’

I come back to my cage and my restraint the fresher and more healthy for

That is the point of view we must take if we are to judge D’Orsay justly;
we must lock up our conscience for the nonce, we must get away from the
unimaginative atmosphere of the law-courts, we must snap the shackles of
convention which always make it impossible for us to form a fair opinion
of the unconventional.

Judged by the standards of life and conduct which must control everyday
men and women, D’Orsay was a monster of iniquity, and also, as _Punch_
would put it, he was worse than wicked, he was vulgar. His friends cannot
have weighed him by any such standards, or they would have condemned
him and scorned him. They could not then have accepted him as one of
themselves, as a man to be almost loved; they would have turned cold
shoulders to any ordinary mortal who treated the love of woman as a
comedy and debts of honour as mere farce.

But your real dandy is not an ordinary man and must not be judged by
common standards. He stands outside and above the ordinary rules of life
and conduct; he has not any conscience, and questions of morality do not
affect him. All that is for us to do in viewing such a one as D’Orsay is
to weigh his physical and mental gifts, and to examine the uses to which
he put them, to look to the opportunities which were given to him and the
advantage which he took of them.

Of the multitude of witnesses whom we have summoned there is not one
who denies that D’Orsay was a man of supreme physical beauty, and the
portraits of him support their verdict. Good looks that were almost
effeminate in their charm were supported by the physique of a perfect
man, and in all manly sports and pursuits he was highly accomplished. Of
his mental qualities it is not so easy justly to weigh the worth; he was
an accomplished amateur in art some say, others deny it, but on the whole
the evidence seems to be in his favour; he was endowed with a pleasing
habit of talk, though scarcely with wit. He was good-humoured, a _bon
garçon_ and good-natured. He was an accomplished _gourmet_. In the art
of dress he was supreme. He was more greatly skilled, perhaps, than any
other man, in the art of gaining and giving pleasure. He was brave.

Morality, as has been said, does not enter into the consideration of such
a man; he was above morality, or outside it. There have been and there
are others like him. They are grown-up children, utterly irresponsible;
not immoral but unmoral; they “please to live and live to please”
themselves. They do not realise that their actions may prove costly to
others and therefore do not count the cost. They are children of impulse
not of calculation. They are emotional not logical. Pleasure is their
pursuit and they shun all that is unpleasing and displeasing. They are
so different from us ordinary folk that we cannot appraise them or even
fully understand them. Fear of consequences that would appal us have no
terrors for them; they do not need to set them aside, they are not aware
of them. Conventions which hamper us, for them do not exist. To fulfil
the desire of to-day is their one aim and ambition and they take no heed
of to-morrow.

It is as a dandy that D’Orsay must be judged, and in that _rôle_ he
achieved triumph. It was as a dandy he lived and as a dandy that he is
immortal. Such men as he, if indeed there are others with his genius,
should—as we have said—be pensioned by the State, should be set above the
carking cares of questions of want of pounds—shillings and pence do not
trouble them; they should be cherished and sustained as rarely-gifted and
rare beings, to whom life presents not any serious problems, and to whom
life is a space of time only too brief for all the pleasures which should
be crowded into it. “Life’s fitful fever” should be kept apart from such
sunny souls, and our only regret should be that there are so few of them.

There are mouldy-minded people who put out the finger of scorn at
D’Orsay. Is it not the truth that they are jealous of him, and that at
the bottom of their hearts there is a muttered prayer: “I would thank God
if He _had_ made _me_ such a man”?


[1] De Guiche. See p. 35.

[2] D’Orsay was but twenty at the time of his first appearance in London.

[3] _Cf._ Sterne, _A Sentimental Journey_, ch. i. l. 1.

[4] Sir David Wilkie.

[5] His unsuccessful three-volume novel.

[6] If any, only a temporary estrangement.

[7] Created Baron Dalling and Bulwer in 1871.

[8] _France, Social, Literary and Political._

[9] He died in 1839.

[10] See page 202.

[11] Referring to his devoted wife.

[12] The first mention of His Imperial Majesty Napoleon III., who was an
_habitué_ of Gore House, and well known to all who frequented it. The
A.D.C. was M. de Persigny, who accompanied the Prince everywhere.—[_Note
in Greville._]

[13] Lady Blessington had a good deal more talent and reading than Mr
Greville gives her credit for. Several years of her agitated life were
spent in the country in complete retirement, where she had no resources
to fall back upon but a good library. She was well read in the best
English authors, and even in translations of the Classics; but the talent
to which she owed her success in society was her incomparable tact and
skill in drawing out the best qualities of her guests. What Mr Greville
terms her vulgarity might be more charitably described as her Irish
cordiality and _bonhomie_. I have no doubt that her _Conversations with
Lord Byron_ were entirely written by herself.—[_Note in Greville._]

[14] Forster.

[15] Possibly Lady Canterbury.

[16] If Lady Blessington wrote this in good faith, “our Count” must have
deceived her grossly as to the amount of his debts.

[17] Bulwer was at this time _chargé d’affaires_ at Paris.

[18] Son of Lord Tankerville.

[19] Did he love D’Orsay?

[20] The Duke de Guiche, son of D’Orsay’s sister, had been attacked by a
wild boar while out hunting.

[21] The inaccuracies here are obvious.

[22] Now (1910) no more.

[23] Better known to us now as Bernal Osborne.

[24] Frederick Henry Yates, actor and theatrical manager. Father of
Edmund Yates.

[25] Probably the founder of the famous menagerie.

[26] The first is meant.

[27] _Alias_ Sloman, a well-known catchpole.

[28] A shy cock being a “Sunday” man, such as D’Orsay.

[29] M.P. for Southwark.

[30] At Crockford’s.

[31] In 1880. He was born in 1796.

[32] She never was there. Seamore Place is meant.

[33] Apparently they had been pawned.

[34] See _Infra_.

[35] _I.e._ in Paris.

[36] Of Lady Blessington.

[37] _Vide supra_, p. 225.

[38] The well-known poet and lyricist.

[39] An amazing version of D’Orsay’s death has recently been made public;
namely, that in addition to the disease of the spine, the Count suffered
also from a carbuncle, which “was a euphemism for a bullet aimed at the
Emperor as they were walking together in the gardens of the Elysée.”



  Abinger, Lord, 177

  Adam, fig-leaf breeches, ix

  Ainsworth, William Harrison, 191

  Alcibiades, xi

  Allen, Lord, 124, 140, 220

  Alvanley, Lord, 125

  Anglesey, Lord, 189

  Anson, George, 151

  Auckland, Lord, 220

  Auldjo, John, 169, 170

  Avignon, 46

  Avillon, letter to Lady Blessington, 282


  Ball, Hughes, 304

  Ballantine, Sergeant, 204

  ” on _Star and Garter_, 156

  Balmoral brose, 130

  Baring, Hon. Francis, 203

  Basanville, Comtesse de, 121

  Bates, Joshua, 203

  Beaconsfield, Lord, 131, 145, 186, 190

  ” as a dandy, xi, xii, 130, 193, 194

  ” at Lady Blessington’s, 140

  ” _Endymion_: Colonel Albert St Barbe, 207

  ” _Endymion_, quoted, 174

  ” _Henrietta Temple_, Count Alcibiades de Mirabel, 256 _seq._

  ” Letter to Lady Blessington, 280

  ” Meets D’Orsay, 142

  ” on Louis Napoleon, 201

  ” on party at Gore House, 172

  ” _Vivian Grey_, xii, 105, 140, 142, 193

  Beauharnois, Eugène, 200

  Beckford, 141

  Belancour, de, 172

  Belvedere Palazzo, 53, 54, 58, 68

  ” Routine at, 59

  Belvedere, Prince and Princess, 53

  Berkeley, Grantley, on D’Orsay, 37, 133, 308

  ” on Gore House, 157

  Berry, Misses, 102

  Blakeney, Sir Edward, 28

  Blessington, Charles John (Viscount and Baron Mountjoy), Earl of, 28,
    65, 68, 75

  ” Attitude towards D’Orsay, 45

  ” Purchased the _Bolivar_, 52

  ” _Reginald de Vavasour_, 54

  ” Sketch of, 29 _seq._

  ” Will, 69, 70, 245

  Blessington, Lord and Lady, tour abroad, 42 _seq._

  Blessington, Marguerite Power, (Mrs Farmer), Lady, 24 _seq._

  ” Anxieties, 270, 272, 277

  ” at Gore House, 157 _seq._

  ” _Book of Beauty_, 271

  ” Characteristics, 274, 275, 276

  ” conversation, 138, 161, 178

  ” _Conversations with Lord Byron_, 51, 177_n_, 179, 271

  ” Lady, Contributor to _Daily News_, 271

  ” Death, 88, 287

  ” Epitaphs, 288

  ” Finances, 270 _seq._, 280

  ” in Paris, 81 _seq._, 284

  ” in Rome, 76 _seq._

  ” in Seamore Place, 101 _seq._

  ” Journal, 48, 50

  ” Duchesse de Guiche, 71, 73

  ” on Queen Hortense, 197

  ” _Keepsake_, 271

  ” Leaves Gore House for Paris, 280, 283

  ” Letter to Henry Bulwer, 210

  ” Letter to Forster, 264, 280

  ” Letters to Landor, 84, 90, 221

  ” Mausoleum, 287, 290

  ” Meets Byron, 49, 50

  ” Personal appearance, 31, 137

  ” on D’Israeli, sen. and jun., 105

  ” on General d’Orsay, 16

  ” on Countess Guiccioli, 163

  ” on Luttrell’s conversation, 93

  ” on opera, 144

  ” on Pompeii, 57

  ” on Portrait of Byron, 165

  ” on Waltzing, 46

  ” _Salon_ in London, 32, 33, 137, 160

  ” Writings, 271

  _Bolivar_, The, 52, 60, 68

  Bonaparte, Jérôme, 206, 293

  Bradenham, 174

  British in Rome, 77

  Brookfield, Charles, 124

  Brougham, Lord, 33, 158, 176, 183, 185, 188, 252, 293

  ” Report of his death, 183

  Brown, Major, 30

  Brown, Mrs (Lady Mountjoy), 30

  Brummel, Beau, xii

  Buckingham, Duke of, xi

  Buller, Charles, 176, 180, 182, 260

  Bultera, Prince and Princess, 66

  Bulwer, Sir Henry, Baron Dalling and Bulwer, 108, 210, 215

  ” _France, Social, Literary and Political_, 105

  ” Letters to Lady Blessington, 213, 284

  Burdett, Sir Francis, 82, 220

  Bush, John, 124

  Byng, “Poodle,” 201, 202

  Byron, Lady, 163

  Byron, Lord, 106, 107, 145, 164, 165, 177, 223

  ” at Genoa, 48, 49

  ” Charmed with D’Orsay, 51

  ” _Don Juan_, quoted, 38

  ” Letter to Lord Blessington, 39

  ” Letter to Count d’Orsay, 40

  ” on Lord Blessington, 30

  ” on Count d’Orsay, 38

  ” on meeting Lady Blessington, 51

  ” on Rogers, 93

  ” Yacht _Bolivar_, 52


  Cambridge, Duke of, 184

  Campbell, Lord, 251

  Campbell, T., 102

  Canning, George, 33

  Canterbury, Lady, 169, 170, 239

  Canterbury, Lord, 169, 170, 177, 261

  Carhampton, Lord, 94

  Carlyle, Jane Welsh, 187

  ” on D’Orsay, 267

  Carlyle, John, 187

  Carlyle, Thomas, 166

  ” on D’Orsay, 187, 188

  ” on Landor, 219

  Caroline, Queen, 56

  Castlereagh, Lord, 33, 140

  Catholic Emancipation Act, 88

  Cattermole, George, 264

  Cavaliers as dandies, xi

  Centolla, Princess, 66

  Chalon, portrait of Lady Blessington, 282

  Chambourcy, 287, 290, 304

  Chambre, Major, _Recollections of West-End Life_, 150

  Charles II., xi, xii

  Chesterfield, Earl of, 118, 125, 151, 152, 158, 189, 241, 261

  ” Dinner to, 127

  Chesterfield House, 266

  Chesterfield, Lady, 266

  Chorley, Henry Fothergill, 143, 166, 176, 183, 187, 261

  Clésinger and D’Orsay, 305

  Clonmel, 25, 26, 28

  Cole, Sir Henry, story of D’Orsay, 231

  Coleridge, S. T., 223

  Colman, George, 102

  Congreve, high priest of dandyism, xii

  Conversation a lost art, 135

  Cooper, Anne, on Lady Blessington, 276

  Cotton, Sir St Vincent, 151

  Cotton, Sir Willoughby, 134, 220

  Courvoisier, F. B., murdered Lord William Russell, 262

  Craven, Keppel, on Sir W. Gell’s last days, 78

  Crawford, Mme. (Mrs O’Sullivan), 16, 17, 83, 84, 93

  ” Fond of her grandson, 18

  Crean, Christopher, 155

  Creighton, Commodore, 106

  Crockford’s “Palace of Fortune”, 148 _seq._

  ” Play-room, 151

  Cunningham, Peter, on white-bait, 148

  Curtis, Lady, 102


  Damer, Colonel, 150

  Dancing, 46

  ” Taglioni’s, 86, 87

  Dandies, definition of, xiii

  ” Elizabethan, xii

  ” Gathering, 172

  ” in history, xi

  ” Psychology, xii

  ” “a public benefactor,” 103

  ” Three, 193

  Dandyism, ix _seq._

  ” History, ix, x

  ” Literature, varied, xi

  ” of D’Orsay and Disraeli, 140

  ” Universities and, x

  D’Angoulême, Duc, 45

  D’Arlincourt, Victor Prévost, Viscount, 131

  Deacon, Captain, 106

  De Contades, on D’Orsay and sheriff’s officer, 278

  Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, 266

  Dickens, Charles, 145, 261

  ” as a dandy, xii, 192, 193

  ” at Gore House, 265

  ” _Bleak House_, Lawrence Boythorn, 218

  ” Friendship with D’Orsay, 191

  ” _Household Words_ on D’Orsay, 306

  ” in Paris, 293

  ” Invitation to Macready, 264

  ” Letters to Lady Blessington, 192

  ” on D’Orsay, 133

  Dieppe, 302

  Dinners, English, 127

  Dino, Duchesse de, story of D’Orsay, 134

  Disraeli, Benjamin, _see_ Beaconsfield, Lord

  D’Israeli, Isaac, 105, 188

  Donzelli, 144

  D’Orsay, Count Albert, 16, 82

  D’Orsay, Comtesse Albert, 82, 99

  D’Orsay, Countess Alfred, 70, 74, 82, 102, 146, 236, 245

  ” Leaves Seamore Place, 103, 267_n_

  D’Orsay, Eléanore, Baroness de Franquemont, Comtesse, 16

  D’Orsay, Gédéon Gaspard Alfred de Grimaud, Count, xii

  ” as artist, 225 _seq._

  ” as a dandy, 194, 235, 314

  ” as _gourmet_, 126

  ” as leader of fashion, 116 _seq._

  ” as a wit, 123 _seq._

  ” Birth, 15

  ” Bonapartism, 20, _see_ Relations with Louis Napoleon

  ” Bust of Lady Blessington, 234

  ” ” Emile de Girardin, 233

  ” ” Lamartine, 225, 292

  ” ” Duke of Wellington, 230, 231

  ” Characteristics, 21, 23, 51, 60, 145, 162, 185, 189, 195, 253, 254,
    255, 259, 265, 294, 309, 310

  ” Connection with Lady Blessington, 45 _et passim_

  ” Death, 304, 310

  ” Dinner in Paris, 293

  ” Director of Fine Arts, 304

  ” Finances, 132, 162, 212, 215, 226, 245 _seq._, 270, 278

  ” Friends, 77, 145, 188, 189 _seq._, 260, 261, 263

  ” Gambling, 148, 151, 152

  ” Grief at Lady Blessington’s death, 289, 290

  ” Horsemanship, 20, 118, 195

  ” Illness, 302

  ” in London, (1821), 35 _seq._

  ” in Paris, 18, 279, 284 _seq._

  ” Invents paletot, 120

  ” Journal, 38, 39, 40, 41, 235

  ” ” on Lord Holland, 137

  ” Leaves London for Paris, 279

  ” Letters, 235 _seq._

  ” ” to Duncombe, 251, 252

  ” ” Fonblanque, 205

  ” ” Forster, 233, 237 _seq._, 291

  ” ” Hayward, 294, 300, 301

  ” ” Landor, 85, 98, 236, 237

  ” ” R. J. Lane, 228, 290

  ” ” Madden, 229

  ” ” C. Mathews, 240

  ” ” Dr. Quin, 242, 244, 289

  ” Marriage, 74

  ” Monument, 304

  ” Monument to Lady Blessington, 287, 290

  ” on _Coup d’État_, 208, 299, 301

  ” Painting of Duchesse de Grammont, 220

  ” Personal appearance, 20, 116

  ” Portrait drawings, 226

  ” Portrait of Prince Borghese, 236

  ” Portrait of Byron, 165

  ” Portrait of Duke of Wellington, 232, 282

  ” Provision for, 70, 71, 75, 245

  ” Qualities, 313

  ” Railway scheme, 238, 239

  ” Relations with Louis Napoleon, 197, 202, 204, 208, 210, 211, 285

  ” Residence in London, 101 _seq._

  ” Separated from his wife, 103, 246

  ” Sledge, 96

  ” Statue of Napoleon I., 228

  ” Statuette of O’Connell, 233

  ” Statuettes of Duke of Wellington, 229, 230

  ” Stories of, 121 _seq._, 278

  ” Studio, 159

  ” Visits Disraelis, 174

  Douro, Lord, 158

  Drummond, Sir William, 67

  Duchesnois, Mlle., 19

  Dudley, Lord, 67

  Duelling, 101, 109

  Dufferin, Lord, 293

  Dumas, Alexandre, 293

  Dumas, Alexandre _fils_, 304

  Duncombe, Thomas Slingsby, 151, 186, 250, 253

  Dundas of Carron, 293

  Dupont, Pierre, 307

  Durham, Earl, 158, 176, 177, 179, 180, 260

  Duval, Claude, xi


  Ellis, Joseph, 155

  Elphinstone, Lord, 140

  _English Spy_, 249

  Esterhazy, Prince, 172

  Eugénie, Empress, 196

  Euphuism, xi

  _Every Man in his Humour_, 263


  Fairlie, Mr and Mrs, 169, 170

  Farmer, Captain Maurice St Leger, 26, 27, 28, 31

  Feist, Moritz, 117

  Florence, 53, 69, 222

  Fonblanque, Albany, editor of _Examiner_, 123, 139, 140, 161, 205,
    261, 291

  ” Letter to Lady Blessington, 185

  Fonblanque, Edward Barrington de, 126, 261

  Forester, Charles, 125

  Forli, Duchess di, 66

  Forster, John, 145, 166, 168, 188, 204, 260, 261, 264

  ” at Gore House, 265

  ” on Landor, 218

  ” Sub-editor of _Examiner_, 176

  Funchal, Count, 106


  Gardiner, Lady Harriet Anne Frances, Comtesse d’Orsay, 30.
    _See_ also d’Orsay, Comtesse Alfred

  Gardiner, Luke Wellington (Viscount Mountjoy), 28, 30

  ” Death, 69

  Gardiner, Lady Mary, 71

  Gastronomy, French, 294

  Gazes, Duc de, 86

  Gell, Sir William, 56, 57, 66, 166

  ” Death, 78

  ” Letter to Lady Blessington, 79

  Genoa, 38, 48, 69

  Georges, Mme., 19

  Girardin, Emile de, 293, 304

  ” on D’Orsay’s death, 307

  Goldsmith, Oliver, 33

  Gore House, 157 _seq._

  ” Novelists at, 190, 191

  ” Sale at, 282

  ” Sunset of its glories, 270

  Grammont, Count Alfred de, 304

  Grammont, Duc de, 19, 35, 84, 220

  Grammont, Duc et Duchesse de, 304

  Grammont, Duc et Duchesse de Caderousse, 46

  Grattan, advice to his son, 110

  Greville, Charles, 94, 180, 261

  ” at Gore House, 175, 176

  ” on Blessington and D’Orsay, 45

  Greville, Charles, on Lady Blessington, 177

  ” on D’Orsay, 45, 122

  ” on D’Orsay’s art work, 159

  ” on Lord Douro, 158

  ” on Sir William Gell, 56

  ” on _Richelieu_, 190

  Greville, Henry, “Diary,” quoted, 94

  ” on Taglioni’s dancing, 87

  Gronow, 117

  ” on Count d’Orsay, 36, 123, 304

  ” on Duc de Guiche, 35

  Grosvenor, Hon. R., 66

  Gudin, Theodore, 292

  Guiccioli, Countess, 106, 107, 114, 144, 162, 163, 165

  Guiche, Duc de, 19, 35, 71, 75, 81, 93, 220, 224_n_, 245.
    _See_ also Grammont, Duc de

  Guiche, Duc and Duchesse de, jun., 286

  Guiche, Ida, Duchesse de, 19, 35, 36, 71, 81

  Guildford, Lord, 87

  Guizot, M., 214


  Hall, S. C., 261

  Hall, Mrs S. C., on Lady Blessington, 274, 275

  Hallam, Henry, _Middle Ages_, 78

  Ham fortress, 201, 204, 207

  Hatherston, Lord, 189

  Hawes, Mr, 252

  Haydon, Benjamin Robert, 159, 188

  ” on D’Orsay, 233

  Hayward, Abraham, 119

  ” in Paris, 293

  ” on English dinners, 127

  Heath, publisher, death, 271

  Heathcote, Sir T., 34

  Herschel, Sir John, 57

  Hertford, Lord, 282, 283

  Hobhouse, Sir John Cam, 165

  Holland House _salon_, 33, 136

  Holland, Lady, 136, 137

  Holland, Lord, 137

  Honey, Mrs, 241

  Horsemanship, 118

  Hortense, Queen of Holland (Duchesse de St Leu), 197 _seq._

  ” Diamonds, 199

  Houssaye, Arsène, on d’Orsay, 297

  Hugo, Victor, 141, 291

  Hunt, Leigh, 107, 163


  Irving, Washington, 33


  Jeffrey, Lord, 268

  Jekyll, Joseph, 33, 34

  ” on quinine, 243

  ” on Seamore House, 102

  Jenkins, Captain Thomas, 28, 31

  Jerdan, William, 261;
    _Autobiography_, 271

  ” on J. Jekyll, 34

  Jerrold, Douglas, 264

  Josephine, Empress, 199

  Joy now a stranger, ix

  Julien le Jeune de Paris, _Mes Chagrins_, 111 _seq._


  Kemble, Charles, 87

  Kemble, Fanny, _Francis the First_, 87

  Kemble, John, 33, 87

  Kenney, James, 169, 171

  Kildare, 28

  Knebworth, 239


  _La Presse_, on D’Orsay as artist, 225

  Lablache, facial expression of thunderstorm, 263

  Lafitte, Charles, 140, 304

  Lamartine, 145, 291, 293

  Lamb, Charles, 222

  ” on plays, 311

  Lamington, Lord, on D’Orsay, 154, 293

  Landor, Walter Savage, 69, 78, 80, 84, 85, 125, 145, 188, 204,
    216 _seq._

  ” Autobiography, 216

  ” epitaph on Lady Blessington, 288

  ” Letters to Lady Blessington, 88, 89, 208, 220, 222

  ” on Lady Blessington, 65

  ” on D’Orsay’s death, 88, 89, 306

  ” on Duc de Guiche, 35

  ” Visits to Gore House, 166, 167, 219, 220

  Landseer, Sir Edwin, 158, 261

  Lane, Richard, 210

  Lane, Richard James, on D’Orsay’s sketches, 227

  Laval, Montmorenci, Duc de, 77

  Lawrence, Sir Thomas, 33, 34, 87

  ” Portrait of Lady Blessington, 282

  ” Portrait of Dauphin, 97

  Leech, John, 264

  Lennox, Lord William Pitt, 114, 124

  ” on D’Orsay, 18, 19

  Léon, Count, 202

  Lespare, Duke de, 304

  Leveson Gore, Hon. F., on D’Orsay, 266

  Lewis, C., 251

  Lichfield, Lord, 151

  Lillers, Marquis de, 82

  Lind, Jenny, 188

  Liston, 261

  Liszt, 261

  London in 1830, 100

  Louis XIV., 43

  Louis XV., 43

  Louis Napoleon, King of Holland, 197

  Louis Philippe, 204, 208

  Lover, Samuel, 143;
    _Handy Andy_, 144

  Luttrell, 93, 94, 95

  Lyly, a literary dandy, xi

  Lyndhurst, Lord, 94, 142, 143, 145, 173, 177, 185, 188, 253

  Lytton, Lord (Sir Ed. Bulwer), 104, 108, 139, 142, 145, 260, 291

  ” on Sir W. Gell, 79

  ” on Gore House, 158, 161, 173, 176, 186, 188

  ” _Money_, 189

  ” _Pelham_, xii

  ” _Richelieu_, 190


  Macaulay, Lord, 136

  Maclise, Daniel, 238, 291

  Macready, 169, 176, 188, 189, 261, 264, 291

  ” as actor and man, 224

  ” Diary on D’Orsay 260

  ” Letter to Lady Blessington, 170

  ” on D’Orsay’s death 306

  ” on _Richelieu_, 190

  Madden, Richard Robert, 62, 64, 112

  ” on Disraeli, 140, 142

  ” on Comtesse Albert d’Orsay, 99

  ” on Comtesse d’Orsay, 74

  ” on D’Orsay’s _bons mots_, 126

  ” on D’Orsay’s extravagance, 253

  ” on D’Orsay’s fascination for children, 259

  ” on Gore House, 161, 165, 265

  ” on Napoleon III., 206, 210

  ” Visits D’Orsay, 302

  Malibran, 144

  Malmesbury, Lord, on Louis Napoleon, 200

  Marc Antony, xi

  Marriott, Captain, 176

  Marryat, Captain, 191, 261

  Mars, Mlle., 19

  Mathews, Charles James, 55 _seq._, 93

  ” on D’Orsay, 58

  ” on Palazzo Belvedere, 59

  ” Quarrel with D’Orsay, 60 _seq._

  Mathews, sen., 33, 34, 55, 92, 93

  Mathias, Thomas James, _Pursuits of Literature_, 66

  Meredith, George, x

  Mignet, M., 95

  Milligan, James, 67

  Mills, John, 152

  Milnes, Monckton, 261

  Minton, Mr, 231, 232

  Montaubon, Count de, 304

  Montgomery, Alfred, 183, 185

  Montholon, Count, 202

  Moore, Tom, 33, 38, 43, 48, 94, 136, 177

  ” at Seamore Place, 139

  ” on duelling, 109, 110

  ” on Sir William Gell, 56

  ” Singing, 110

  _Morning Chronicle_ on D’Orsay’s statuette of Duke of Wellington, 230

  Moskowa, Prince of, 140

  Mountford, Lord, 101

  Murray, Captain, 26


  Naples, 53 _seq._, 69

  Napoleon I., on Albert, Count d’Orsay, 16

  Napoleon III., Louis Napoleon, 186, 195 _seq._, 205, 285

  ” at Gore House, 176_n_

  ” at Seamore Place, 114, 115

  ” Descent upon France, 200

  ” Projected duel with Léon, 115, 202

  ” Sketch of, 196

  Napoleon, Prince, 293, 304

  _New Monthly Magazine_, on D’Orsay, 234

  Ney, Marshal, 82

  Nicholson, T. H., 230

  Ninon de l’Enclos, 17

  Normandy, Lord, 261

  Nugent, Lord, 201, 202


  O’Connell, Dan, 108, 110, 111

  Opera, 143, 144

  Osborne, Bernal, 233, 288

  Ossulton, Lord, 220

  Ossuna, Duke of, 172, 173


  Paget, Sir A., 184

  Pahlen, Count, 139

  Paletot invented, 120

  Paris in 1815, 18

  Paris, Lord Blessington’s house in, 82

  Parquin, Colonel, 202, 203

  Pasta, 144

  Patmore, on D’Orsay, 118

  Payne, George, 151

  Pembroke, Lord, 130, 197, 219, 220

  Perlet in _Le Comédien d’Etampes_, 19

  Perron, _Chef_, 293

  Persigny, 201

  Phillips, Catalogue of Sale at Gore House, 282

  Phipps, General, 102

  Piazzi, astronomer, 67

  Pisa, 71

  Planché, James Robinson, 189, 261, 262

  ” on Lablache, 263

  ” on Louis Napoleon, 201

  Pompeii, 57

  Poniatowsky, Prince, 172

  Ponsonby, John, 139

  Powell, Mr, 124

  Power, Edward, 24

  Power, Ellen, 24, 25

  Power, Ellen and Margaret, 158, 192, 283, 291, 302

  Power, Margaret, 219, 220

  ” Account of Lady Blessington’s death, 285

  ” Account of Sarcophagus, 288

  ” Letter to Madden, 289

  Power, Marguerite, _see_ Blessington, Lady

  Power, Mary Anne, Comtesse de St Marsault, 24, 42, 43, 54, 96

  Power, Michael, 24

  Power, Robert, 24, 75, 245

  Procter, “Barry Cornwall,” 169, 170

  ” Epitaph on Lady Blessington, 288

  Pugin, Augustus, 55

  _Punch_, “The Mrs Caudle of the House of Lords,” 185

  Puritans, xi

  Purves, Mr and Mrs, 170


  _Quarterly Review_, English dinners, 127

  Quin, Dr, 112, 113, 114, 243, 261, 283, 310


  Rachel, in _Phèdre_, 298

  Raikes, Tom, 123

  Ratcliffe, Lt.-Colonel, 202, 203

  Redding, Cyrus, on Lady Blessington, 90

  Reeve, Henry, 183, 184, 185

  ” on Countess Guiccioli, 163

  ” Gore House, 167

  Revolution, 1830, 96

  Reynolds, Frederick Mansell, 169, 170

  Ritchie, Lady, on D’Orsay, 182

  Robespierre, 112

  Robinson, Crabb, 65, 143

  Rocco Romano, Duc di, 67

  Rogers, S., 33, 93, 95, 102

  ” Attitude towards Byron, 94

  Rome, 53, 69, 76 _seq._

  Rosslyn, Lord, 88

  Rothschild, Antony, 274

  Rotival, _Chef_, 293

  Rubini, 144, 261

  Russell, Lord John, 95, 137

  Russell, Lord William, murdered, 262


  St Aulaire, Count, 211, 213, 214

  St Germain-en-Laye, 43

  Saint Marceau, Countess, 165

  St Marsault, Comte et Comtesse de, 43

  Sala, George Augustus, on Louis Napoleon, 196

  _Salon_ at Holland House, 136

  ” at Gore House, 160

  ” at Seamore Place, 136

  ” Its decline and fall in London, 135

  Schodel, Madame, 219, 220

  Scott, Sir Walter, 223

  Seamore Place, 101 _seq._

  ” Evenings at, 138

  ” Guests at, 102 _seq._

  ” Robbery at, 272

  Shafto, Mr, 183

  Shakespeare, _Love’s Labour Lost_, xi

  Shaw, George Bernard, xii

  Shee, W. A., 144

  ” on Gore House, 160

  ” on Countess Guiccioli, 162, 165

  ” on Duchesse de Guiche, 36

  ” on Louis Napoleon, 196

  Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 107

  Sheridan, _School for Scandal_, xii

  Simon, Dr Léon, 286, 287

  Smith, Albert, on Napoleon III., 196

  Smith, James, 102, 109, 112

  Smith, James and Horace, _Rejected Addresses_, 107

  Smith, Sydney, 123, 180

  Somerset, Lady Fitzroy, 134

  Southey, Robert, 223

  Soyer, _Chef_, 293

  Standish, 261

  _Star and Garter_, Richmond, 147, 155

  Stuart, Hon. W., 293

  Stultz, “Tailor to M. le Comte d’Orsay,” 117

  Sue, Eugène, 224, 238

  ” Account of, 296

  ” _Mysteries of Paris_, _Wandering Jew_, 295

  Sumner, Charles, 188, 195

  ” on Gore House, 186

  ” on Landor, 218


  Taglioni, Mlle., 86, 87, 144

  Talbot, Mr, 140

  Talma, Mme., 19

  Tamburini, 144

  “Tamburini Row,” 261

  Tankerville, Lord, 220

  Tarentum, Archbishop of, 67

  Tennyson, Alfred, Lord, 266

  Teufelsdröckh, Professor, definition of a dandy, xiii

  Thackeray, W. M., 188, 191, 283

  ” Letters to Mrs Brookfield, 182, 281

  ” _Vanity Fair_, “Mr Moss’s Mansion,” 253

  ” Visits D’Orsay in Paris, 292

  Thanet, Lord, 34

  Thiers, M., 95

  Thomson, Poulett, 95

  Ticknor, George, 180

  Trelawney, the _Younger Son_, 169, 170

  Tullemore, Lady, 134

  Tyrone, 32


  Ude, _Chef_, 295

  ” story of, 150

  Uwins, painter, 57


  Valence, 44

  Viel Castel, Count Horace de, on D’Orsay, 298, 304

  Vigne, Casimir de la, _Columbus_, 67

  Vigny, Count Alfred de, 176, 181, 260

  ” Letter to Lady Blessington, 180

  Vizetelly, Henry, on D’Orsay, 250


  Walewska, Countess, 202

  Walewski, Count, 93, 95

  Webster, Sir Godfrey, 136

  Wellington, Duke of, 158, 188

  ” Catholic Emancipation Act, 88

  ” in Paris, 18, 19

  ” on Napoleon III., 209

  ” on his portrait by D’Orsay, 232

  Westmacott, sculptor, 57

  White-bait, 147, 148

  Wild oats, 147

  Wilkie, Sir David, 33, 72

  Williams, Lady, 94

  Willis, Nathaniel Parker, 139

  ” Description of Lady Blessington, 137

  ” on Disraeli, 140

  ” on D’Orsay, 122

  ” Visits Lady Blessington, 104

  Wilton, Lord, 102

  Wombwell, George, 242

  Worcester, Lord, 240, 241

  Wordsworth, W., 223

  Würtemberg, King of, 16

  Wyatt (Wayatville), Sir Jeffrey, 149

  Wycherley, high priest of dandyism, xii


  Yates, Edmund, on D’Orsay and Louis Napoleon, 195

  ” on Planché, 262

  Yates, Frederick Henry, 240_n_


  Zichy, Count, 172, 173


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "D'Orsay - or, The complete dandy" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.