10 AUGUST 1872, Page 21


THE " Recollections" of Lady Clementine Davies date from about the commencement of this century, and although of no importance in an historical point of view, may fairly claim to be amusing. In- deed, the gossip of these volumes is just what readers like who take up a book in order to while away time. Here are love stories, ghost stories, stories of haunted houses, of curious prophecies and strange presentiments, and marvellous deliverances, of extraordinary -elopements and conjugal infidelities, of unnatural parents and un- natural children. Then we are admitted into " high life," and hear the small-talk of dukes and duchesses, or we catch a fresh glimpse of well-known figures, or of the manners and customs, not always praiseworthy, which distinguished society half a cen- tury ago. The family of Lady Clementine Davies followed James IL into exile, and her father, Lord Maurice Drummond, was the youngest son of James, third Earl, Duke of Melfort. He appears, as a young man, to have been on very intimate terms with Marie An- toinette, when she milked her cows at Trianon, or acted her part in private theatricals, and some of the anecdotes told here of his youthful life at the French Court are amusing enough. It is interesting to learn that Lord Maurice Drummond aided in the attempt of the King and Queen to escape from Paris on June 21, 1791, for which service he was thrown into prison, " where he remained for eleven dreary months, during which the horrors of his incarceration were intensified in proportion to the fast-increas- ing number of his fellow-captives,—who were allowed only black • Esco'lectlow of &tidy in Frdllee and England By Lady Cle menthol. Dario. 2 vols. London: Hurst and Blackett. 1872. bread, sometimes full of worms, to eat, and dirty water, sometimes putrid, to drink." Talleyrand appears to have been one of the oldest friends of the family, and of him several anecdotes are told, but they do not throw any fresh light on the character of this extraordinary man. Lady Clementine's childish days were spent in Paris, but she was a mere girl when her father went to Edin- burgh, and one of her earliest recollections is seeing Sir Humphrey Davy seated on a sort of throne and receiving a laurel crown from the hands of Mrs. Apreece, whom he afterwards married. At that time Catalani, Mrs. Jordan, Mrs. Siddons, and John Kemble were in Edinburgh, and she remembers that Catalani's voice was still splendid, and that Mrs. Jordan had very pretty features and beautiful eyes, but was marked with the small-pox. To see Mrs. Siddons on the stage, her great desire, was not accomplished without difficulty, and she relates how she was carried through the snow in a sedan-chair, her cousin, Sir William Stuart, acting as a porter on that occasion :— ..Previonsly, when I had met Mrs. Siddons at the house of Lady Drummond, I had thought her anything but young, and much too stout to be elegant, although nothing could deprive her of that inimitable grace, that easy pose, the idea of which is best portrayed in Sir Joshua Reynolds' celebrated picture of her as ' the Tragic Muse.' But when I saw her on the stage I forgot her age, I forgot her size, I forgot even that the hero of the piece in which she was acting was her own son, Henry Sid- dons. Spell-bound I watched her every movement, and the only thing real to me seemed the agonizing drama which was proceeding on the stage."

She saw, too, John Kemble in Coriolanus, and says, " No words of mine can tell how the statuesque grandeur of his acting impressed me." Sir Walter Scott taught her to play at chess, and it is plea- sant to hear again, although one has so often heard before, of his friendly voice, with its broad Scotch accent, of his kind but some- what heavy-featured countenance, and of his hearty enjoyment of

the society of young people. Lady Clementine was in London in 1814, when at Almack's Scotch reels and country dances were still in fashion, though the quadrille and the valise had been recently in- troduced. In that year she first went to the opera, where " the style

of dancing was quite different from that in the present day, for it was easy and graceful, but so little exaggerated that it would have offered no very extraordinary spectacle in a drawing-room, and

the dresses worn by the ladies of the ballet were nearly down to their alleles."

The family returned to Paris upon the restoration of Louis XVIII., and Lady Clementine relates her still vivid recollections of the Duchesse d'Angouleine, to whom she was presented, and of Court life in France at that period. At the house of her relative Mr. Drummond, who- was Commissary-General to the Army of Occupation, she met Count d'Oreay, Moore, Grattan, and other well-known people, and in their company many a pleasant picnic was made to Montmorency, each lady riding on a donkey with a

gentleman walking by her side. Lord Clanricarde, who was about twenty years of age at the time, used to amaze everyone with his feats of agility. The writer was told that he could run up a wall several feet high without apparently touching it, and she relates how upon sitting down to luncheon on one occasion, " Lord Clanricarde, wanting to change his place from one side of the large table to the other, took a flying leap across it, and landed on the other side, without the least injury to the bottles, or glasses, or dishes which were standing at the moment on it."

The most prominent vice of the age appears to have been gamb- ling, and Lady Clementine relates that at some of the best frequented 'soirees a well-known Marquis D'Ivry was appointed by Government to preside at a roulette-table at which Prince Talleyrand would sit, " putting on it handful after handful of gold and notes, but never showing, by the slightest change of countenance, whether he was winning or losing." The amuse- ments of Parisian life were disturbed by the return of Napoleon from Elba, and the writer, who listened to him when he addressed the soldiers and the people, observes that his words were uttered under an inspiration that was overwhelming, and that when at last his full gray eye rested upon her, she felt that it had power to read through her inmost soul. After the second exile of Napoleon, the writer met Blucher at the Palais Royal, and relates the follow- ing anecdote of him, which was told to her by a General 'iron Graven many years afterwards

When the special messengers arrived to inform Maher that Napo- leon had escaped fromElba,and that his services would be immediately re- quired in the field, they were astonished to find him literally running round and round a large room, the floor of which was covered with sawdust, and in which be bad immured himself, under the delusion that be was an elephant. For the time, it was feared that Blucher was hopelessly insane, or that he was so far suffering from delirium tremens that his active co-operation in the anticipated campaign would be impossible; but when the urgent news was brought him, he at once recovered him-

self, and proceeded to give his advice in a perfectly sound state of mind, the bone of which was thus, as by a sudden shock, restored to him."

Lady Clementine Davies relates frankly enough her early love affairs, or rather her engagements, for there was not much love in these business-like betrothments. One of these was to a certain Baron Von S —, short, ugly, and middle-aged, who was recom- mended to her by her father because he had £15,000 a year. Lord Maurice Drummond's temper overcame his discretion in the course of the negotiation, for when the Baron refused to make a settlement on the young lady if she should elect to live apart from him, her father replied, " Do you really think my daughter would marry an

ugly ape like you, unless if she chose she could live independently of you ? " In answer to this rudeness the Baron sent a challenge,

but Lady Clementine, to insure her father's safety, consented to marry him. Happily, however, be proved by his own confession to be a scamp, and the evil was averted.

The writer, who was at the opera on the night when the Due de Berry was murdered, gives a long account of that fatal evening, and with a like minuteness she records the birth of the Comte de

Chambord, who, in her opinion, is the only man living whose accession to power would give peace to his distracted country :—

" By inviting him to assume the crown of his ancestors only can France hope to restore continuity to her history, or to base the founda- tions of her institutions on anything more secure than the uncertain sanction of universal suffrage, or universal suffrance. The red flag is indissolubly associated with the worst of her crimes and follies. The tricolour has been twice the emblem of oppression at home and dis- grace abroad. Under the white flag the most glorious and most digni- fied period of her national existence was passed, and it alone of her banners has never been steeped in the blood of her sons, or trampled in the dust by her survivors."

Most readers, we suspect, will be more interested in Lady Clementine's gossip than in her political creed, and if her opinions are of little value, it must be granted that she does not often in- trude them. From the lively chit-chat of the volumes, we may find space for two or three more amusing passages. The author had a favourite parroquet whose sagacity and intelligence were extraordinary. The bird_belonged originally to Lady Aldborough, yet it must have kept bad company, for it would swear "dread- fully," both in English and in French. Lady Clementine Davies had the care of it for a long time, and so won upon the bird's affec- tions that on returning to the house of his old mistress he pined away, and would neither eat nor drink :—

"Lady Aldborough wanted very much to ascertain if the little thing was pining for me, so she begged me to come and see her, but to keep a thick veil over my face, and not to speak when I came into the room, and await the result. I went, and the drawing-room door had hardly closed behind me, when the bird lifted its head and flew towards me ; but it was either so weak, or its joy was so overpowering, that it fell insensible at my feet. I lifted it up, and as soon as it recovered enough, it began talking to me in an excited manner, confusing all its stories and songs together."

On one occasion, Lady Cork, a lady well known for her eccen- tricities, "invited all the clever birds of her acquintance to a party," and the cleverest bird was to carry off a little gold collar with a medal attached. Lord Cunningham sent a wonderful bird that talked beautifully, but Lady Davies' bird had the faculty of talking good sense, and won the prize by its achievements :—

" Everybody wondered at seeing the little creature going round the table tasting everything, and if it took its fancy, saying, That's good, that,' at the same time turning up its eyes in a most odd way ; while, if it tasted anything which it did not like, it would say That's bad,' and make off as fast as it could, running all round the table till it came to me."

Lady Cork was at this time nearly ninety years old, yet she had either a dinner party, a rout, or else went out, every night of her life. On one occasion, she told Mr. Davies that she had invited a gentleman to dinner, who was formerly a great admirer of his wife. The gentleman, however, did not appear at the proper hour, and the company sat down without him. In the course of the meal the following note was brought to the hostess from Lord Fife :-

" MY DEAR LADY Coast,—I cannot express my regret that it is quite out of my power to dine with you, and you will pity me when you hear that I am in bed. A blackguard creditor has had everything I possess taken from me. The only thing he has left me is a cast of one of Vestris's legs. I must remain in bed till my lawyer comes, as I have not a coat to put on. This is the reason, dear Lady Cork, I cannot dine with you."

We have, perhaps, said enough and quoted enough to show our readers the kind of literary provender provided for them in

Recollections of Society. The book will prove an amusing com- panion in those idle hours which even the busiest men manage to secure during summer-time. Lady Clementine Davies writes

freshly and pleasantly, and if her volumes are composed of amusing trifles, and have no solid worth, it must be admitted that they

fulfil the purpose of the writer, and present a picture of social life in England which has passed away for ever.