THE BATH ARCHIVES.* Sin GEORGE JacitsoN's mother, a letter-writer and
receiver of the old times, when relatives discussed public affairs, retailed good stories, and turned their phrases neatly in domestic corre- spondence, never destroyed the letters she received, but stored them, up in hei house at Bath, methodically arranging them by their dates, at the close of each year. To these stores her sons, Francis. andGeorge, were in the habit of contributing certain papers and, letters which they wished to have preserved, and to this laudable family custom we owe two remarkably amusing volumes of addenda to the heavier Diaries and Correspondence of Sir George Jackson. There is a many-sided interest about the book, first, in, the glimpse it affords us of the characters of the mother and the- sons, of their mutual relations—in both respects we are reminded. of Madame Esmond Warrington and her Virginians—and then in, the picture it paints for us of the life of the great world in London, during one of its most brilliant and least creditable epochs.
Mrs. Jackson comes out very plainly. She was evidently a. shrewd, sensible, well-principled woman, keenly, but not meanly alive to her sons' worldly interests, aware of the insufficiency of the. fair words with which Lord Wellesley allured and assured her George, while he gave appointments to other people, but also of opinion that George had better keep within hearing of the fair - words, and affect gratitude for even partial fulfilment of the fine- promises, a little afraid of his love of pleasure, his flightiness, his- habit of quoting Scripture profanely, and his tendency to fall in, love with young ladies who were not heiresses ; but proud of his social success, for all that, and fonder of him than of the steady,. hard-working diplomatist, Francis, who could not get on with President Madison, and was recalled from Washington "with' thanks," to be bled to death by the doctors of that day. The story of Francis Jackson's illness (Vol. IL, p. 264) is only to be paralleled by that of Count Cavour. Mrs. Jackson had more humour than either of her sons, was intensely loyal, really believing that England was under immense obligations to George III., studiously ignored- her eon's accounts of the profligate life of Carlton House, vehementlyyi rejoiced in the defeat and final pulverisation of "the infamous. Corsican "(whom her son treats with levity, as Mr. Boney), was in- satiable about bargains and commissions,—regarding the expedition. to the Hague as a favourable opportunity for getting over lawn in a. Government bag, and the occupation of Paris by the allied armies. as the happiest of chances for securing bric-a-brac,—and per- sisted in putting the susceptible George to torture by detain- ing "suspicious" letters which had come to her house for him,, until she should find an opportunity for getting them franked. In vain does her son remonstrate, she is serenely indifferent, and the postage question remains a vexed one between them to the end. Her calm wisdom is very amusing, as she explains to George- that all his arguments in favour of her residing at Brigbton, rather than at Exmouth are admirable, but totally wide of the mark, because she cannot afford Brighton ; and as she comments,— while directing him to order some many-buttoned black gloves for her in advance,—on the want of prevision of those persons who, though perfectly aware that the state of the Duchess of Brunswick. is hopeless, have neglected to provide themselves with mourning, and must therefore put up with the rise in prices when tha- Duchess's death shall be announced. Her unfailing common- sense, her somewhat prim morality, her conventional views—she- kept her sense of humour in excellent order—her notions of pru- dent conciliation of the great, combined with strict honour, her- steady practical affection for her sons, but her perfect capacity for- taking an interest in all her usual pursuits and topics immediately after the death of Francis, are brought out very distinctly in this. correspondence, to which she contributes many vivid pictures of• society at Bath. Francis Jackson's letters from Washington:. form a curious picture of the new-fledged Republic ; their details of the roughness of manners at the President's house, and the feminine bickering between Mrs. Merry and Mrs. Madison (formerly a barmaid), and of the love affair between Mr. Oakeley and Madame Patterson Bonaparte, cross George Jackson's account of the indignation felt in England at the conduct of the Emperor of Austria in giving his daughter to Napoleon, and the stagey hypocrisy of the Emperor, who shut himself up in solitude, soi disant to school himself to the part- ing with his beloved Josephine. Francis is somewhat bored by his mother's doleful dwelling on the " unpleasantries " of their life in America, which they do not find at all unpleasant, and George is fain to tell her all sorts of stories about dukes and duchesses, in * 774e Bath Archives. A further Selection from the Diaries and Letters of George Jackson, IC.C.B., from 1809 to 1816. Edited by Lady Jackson. London : Bentley.
order to reconcile her to his incessant party-going. There is an interchanged chronicle of feasting, between London and Brighton -on the one hand, and New York and Boston, "the head-quarters of good principles," on the other ; and to the scarcity of news- papers and the distance between the brothers, combined with .their common interest in public affairs and public men, we owe a -series of charming pictures and anecdotes, by which we perceive the dessous des cartes of the history of the time. George, in the London "vortex," of course contributes the larger share, and as he is abundantly shrewd and vivacious, though neither by profes- -sion a wit nor by nature a cynic, he sees and hears almost as much as Horace Walpole saw and heard, and reports it all more fairly. Very soon after George Jackson came to London, -destined to "faire Pantiehambre " to Lord Wellesley, in hopes of a post, for a long time before he got into new diplomatic employ- ment, the bugbear of the Corsican ogre took possession of the public mind ; and divided it with the insanity of the King, the quarrels of the Prince and Princess of Wales, and the hideous scandals of Carlton House. Under the matter-of-fact treatment of George Jackson, the character of the Prince comes out with increased .ignominy; there is a superfluity and ingenuity of baseness and 'badness in the details of these volumes, all the more impressive because they are really not intentional ; while the universal pandering and flattery, the disgraceful subserviency of men with characters to lose, and women with reputations to maintain, are. 'related with simple, uncommenting candour.
When Francis Jackson and his wife come home—" Elizabeth" is a remarkable person, full of character, and with the shrewdest appreciation of diplomatic dodgery ;—he takes up the tale of Downing Street and his doings, and tells how he had to wait a long time for his first audience of a certain great man, because he -was busy with the death warrants, "there were so many people to be hanged." A very amusing tale it is, and still more amusing -are his mother's comments, for it is plain she struggled hard between her abstract sense of right and wrong, and a strong 'feeling that if " jobs " were really being largely done (which was very shocking), good ones might as well be done in the interests -of her sons. She writes to George, from Exmouth, February 23, "1811 :—
"I was inclined to hope that every right thing that was dono was -done on a right principle, but the Prince's letter to Mr. Perceval staggers me. It is plain by the appointments in your line how things are likely to go on ; still, if that were all, I should say it is natural enough that any man should choose to benefit his own or his friend's friend. I wish you may come in for anything by any means, but blessed are those who -expect nothing."
In the same letter there is an odd illustration of the progress of _spectacle :—
"The revival of Bluebeard,' says Mrs. Jackson, 'has quite taken the -fancy of the town, being, by the use of a troop of real horses, about ftwenty in number, truly unique. They fight a deadly fight, and die to the very life, the stage covered with dead men and horses being very .curious to see. The only mistake, your sister observed, was that on a ,pistol accidentally going off, one of the horses wanted to die before his time."
'There was great excitement just then about the arrival of a Persian Atubaasador, lively curiosity to see him, and anecdotes -as numerous and authentic as those with which we have recently been favoured about the Shah. A grand fête at Carlton House -was causing more agitation than did the festivities of last week, because it was not only going to be marvellously splendid, but the Ptince, in giving it, contrived to wound his mother's feelings -deeply, to offend public taste while gratifying the beau monde, and 'to insult his wife by excluding her and inviting her ladies-in- waiting. With all these conditions of success, of course the fête was highly successful. A propos of the King's state, which just -then rendered his son's conduct so unusually disgusting, George -Jackson relates a good anecdote of the old King:— " Though not now so violent," he says, "the Bing is asserted by one party to be settling into a more confirmed yet tranquil aberration of intellect, accompanied by a very extraordinary canning and shrewdness not easily to be reconciled. I should think, with such a term. To this may be added a very high degree of impatience to resume his functions. 'Talking last week on this subject to the Chancellor, who had been preaching patience, ee-e., to him, he said, 'Aye, aye, my Lord Chancellor, it's all very pretty talking, but if you had been kept out of your place -for six months, you would have been glad enough to get into it again.'"
The fete took place; it was splendid, and vulgar. The exiled Royal sFamily of France were present, and Francis Jackson says of the Duchesse d'Angouleme, "he looked interesting, and something dike the best portraits of her mother, therefore not very pretty," which is a striking instance of the untrustworthiness of even con- 'temporary testimony. He adds,—" I know, from a perfectly idea of going to this fele, and that it was only at the most press- ing entreaties of her family that she yielded. Both she and the Duke, who is a mean-looking little man, are of a very retiring disposition, and devote almost the whole of their time to works of piety and charity. The Duchess of York sat with her a good deal, and looked very well ; her " sposo fido " as easy in his manners, and as much like a gentleman as usual." Fashionable marriages, elopements, and deaths ; Court cancans, anecdotes of actors, bits of diplomatic gossip, military news, the irresistible progress of the modern Attila ; the Princess of Wales's cause celebre ; whispera that the Prince Regent is "mentally affected ;" Thornton's secret mission to Sweden ; the murder of Mr. Perceval, the obnoxious- ness of Sir Francis Burdett, of whom one hears in a provoking way, actually bringing the real interests of live human beings to interrupt the general gentility add permanent faucy-ball aspect of things ; the cold farewell of Mrs. Siddons ; George Jackson's marriage ; the war in Spain, and a multitude of other topics, fill up those pleasant letters and diaries in the first volume. lie second, which opens with the year 1813, after the fatal Russian campaign of Napoleon, has a wider field ; but Mrs. Jackson's first letter, full as she is of the public news, contains a story which must be quoted. Of course she is bent on getting franks, as usual :—
" You may remember [she says to the incorrigible George] that I gave you a letter to get franked to Miss Clyston ; it appears you forgot it, and the letter is, perhaps, still in your coat-pocket. For Miss C. has written to ask if tho hares she sent me a month ago had arrived, and the letters with which they were stuffed. Now the hares I acknowledged, but not being aware that their stomachs were used as post-bags, the letters were thrown into the fire, as I have since learnt from my cook."
The whole of this letter is characteristic. Mrs. Jackson, having no franker at hand, is only tempted to write to her son, because he is staying conveniently with an M.P. She fears the French will carry off the King of Prussia, who has her best wishes and prayers for his speedy and full release from Buonaparte's clutches. She has no expectation that her son will be sent abroad ; the pre- sent Ministers don't mind wasting public money, and will, no doubt, employ any man of their own set, however unfit, whom they wish to give a good thing to. He must not think of going abroad unless he is sent officially ; and in the meantime, she is sending him " Purdy's Sermons," which have edified her by their perusal. "They will do him good, and allay that feverish, anxious state of mind which his desire to be in the midst of the troubled scenes enacting on the Continent produces in him." She has been reading Rokeby, and while she admires it, does not consider it, as Francis does, divine. A few days later, George Jackson got the long-deferred appointment as Charge d'Affaires to the King of Prussia, simultaneously with Sir Charles Stewart's military mission. There was a dreary delay about the starting, but no falling-off in the letters, which are full of the bustle, the hope, the on dits of the time ; and include a curious, shrewd paper of private instructions for his brother's guidance drawn up by the older diplomats, Francis. At length they started, and thenceforth the diaries and the letters assume a graver tone. It would require double our space to enumerate their points of interest, which include all the events of that momentous period which culminated in the second restoration of Louis XVIII., and almost every one of the personages, illustrious and remarkable, who were engaged in them. The individual contends with the general interest all through, and sometimes gets the better of it, as, for instance, at page 267, where we find a match for Mickey Free's famous letter to Mrs. Magrath, which got into the Duke's de- spatch bag by mistake ; and the entire volume is as instructive as any history, and much more amusing than most amusing novels. Sir George Jackson may not have been a shining light among diplomatists, but the readers of the present feel much more interest in him as the Boswell of the Allied Armies.