6 MAY 1916, Page 12


THE GRANVILLE CORRESPONDENCE.* ON every page of the two very interesting volumes of correspondence edited by Castalia, Lady Granville, the reader treads on the dead embers of the ambitions, aspirations, party dissensions, and loves and hates—especially the loves—which were blazing fires in the days when, in the somewhat coarse but very expressive phrase of Lord Kgremont, the members of British upper-class society were enjoying "merry times with a jolly fat Regent and a rantipolc Queen to govern them and give them fetes." The various political and social episodes narrated live again under the vivifying touch of two highly cultivated ladies who excelled in the essentially feminine art of letter-writing- Lady Stafford, the first Lord Granville's mother, and Lady Bessborough, Lie Egeria, who, with the characteristic tact of her sex, wrote to him : " I could not sway you if I wish'd it, and I would not if I could," whilst at the same time in reality she swayed him a great deal.

Some bright sidelights are thrown on the political events of the Ames. Thus, we learn that, in 1792, such complete confidence was

• Lord Croorille Lrreton Gower : Private Correspondexor, 17-81 to 1821. Edited

is Castalia, Countess t..tut.ville. Icb. London: John Ilium. 135. net.]

felt that the Allies would speedily reach Paris that Jenkinson, tho future Lord Liverpool, sketched a " general outline " of what was to take place after their arrival. The main point was that " the authority of the King [Louis XVI.] should be perfectly re-established, and that any liberty the people might afterwards possess should be considered as hie indulgence." Lord Granville, with all the sapiency of a nineteen. years-old politician, thought the plan " very good," the main objection to the detail being that " tho Nobility will not easily be reconciled to remaining so much in the country, it having always been their custom to reside constantly at Paris." Wo are told how Canning welcomed Napoleon's return from Egypt. " The destroyer of the National Representation of the French Republick is a publics_ benefactor to Europe. I care not whether he restores a King or becomes himself a Despot, so that he be bloody and tyrannical enough. Heaven prosper all.his projects against French Liberty and Republican principles, whatever they may be !" At a later period, when unsuccessful attempts were made to induce Canning to join the Liverpool Administration, we learn that Lord Grey, speaking of that talented but wayward and very sensitive politician, who thought that he " was ill used on all sides." said: " He takes as much courting as a woman, and a great deal more than most." The prolific and at times mordant pen of Lady Bessborough records how when, in conversation with Napoleon, Fox defended Pitt from the charge of attempted assassination, the autocrat, with great dialectical assurance, replied : " Vous ne connaissez pas ce Pitt " how Moreau, who was a jealous and highly prejudiced witness, inveighed against Napoleon and said that, being a Corsican, he hated the French only one degree less than the English ; how Massena, who was one of the most distinguished of his Marshals, declared that he would have been a great man had not Nature unfortunately omitted to furnish him with " un cceur et des entrailles " ; how Lord Morpeth thought that the reason why Pitt made " a devilish bad speech " in defence of Lord Melville was because he had " a devilish bad cause " ; how Sir Robert Calder, who failed to destroy the French Fleet, held that " Nelson deserved to be punished for the battle of the Nile, as it was in contra. diction to all former naval tactics " ; how Lady Abercorn, aftee reading the Memoirs of the Princess°, de Lamballe, was guilty of the Hibernicism that the account which that ill-fated lady gave " of her own death " was " terrible " ; how, during the most stormy period of those stirring times, Lady Castlereagh preserved her equanimity. and " talked with equal indifference of Bombardments and Assemblies, the Baby and the Furniture, the emptiness of London and the Massacre at Buenos Ayres, Ld. Castlereagh's encreasing debility and the doubtful success of Mr. Greville's new opera " ; and how Queen Charlotte " bore all events patiently till Buonaparte married the Empr's Daughter, on which she took near a pound of Snuff in the course of an hour, exclaim- ing between each pinch, My Got ! my Got ! what will this cometo ? —the eldest House in Europe married to an Empr. of yesterday. My Got ! my Got ! married to nothing—he has no blood in his veins.' " fir The main interest in these volumes is, however, not political but biographical and social. Lady Stafford was both a very affectionate wife and mother and a very high-principled and deeply religious woman. Speaking of the successes of the French, she expressed her conviction that they had been " permitted by the Almighty as a Scourge for one Sins." She thought that to come to terms with France would be like " making Peace with the Devil," and, equally with Windham, enter- tained great doubts whether the Peace of Amiens, of which Sheridan said " every man was glad and no one was proud," would not lead to " the Danger of Contamination." Her maternal solicitude never flagged. She upbraided her schoolboy son for his idleness. " You suck your thumbs," she wrote, " chew your Pocket Han. or a Bit of Paper, protest you do not know what to say, get up, sit down, fiddle (addle, and will not tako the trouble of thinking," and then she sent him " Oysters every week," as well as " Green Pomatum, to be put on his Hair three Nights in the Week, and Honey Water to wash his Hair the other three Nights, in short Alternately." During her son's adolescence she was ever on the alert lest he should fall a victim to female wiles, and strenuously endeavoured to divert his attention to Blackstone's Commentaries. She constantly warned him against the " infernal Vice of gambling, to which he was much addicted ; and, in fact, watched over him like a guardian angel throughout his life, her admonitions closing with a very pathetic letter written to him in 1804, when ho was about to leave England for Russia, and she felt that she would never see him again.

Lady Bessborough's letters, of course, strike a somewhat different note. The senior of Lord Granville by twelve years, she was evidently as deeply attached to him as ho was to her, but she was very careful to reiterate that their relations must never pass beyond the bounds of pure friendship. " Pray," she wrote, " do not quarrel with poor amitie ; it is a very good word and a very good thing." There were many other worshippers at the same shrine, a fact which will not surprise any one who glances at the charming portrait " after Sir Joshua," which is reproduced in the first volume, and which beams on the reader with all the grace of highly refine' feminine beauty and attraction. Amongst these adorers was Sheridan, who pestered Lady Bessborough with h.s very unwelcome attentions, and who on one occasion, when rather more than usually drunk, disgraced himself by making a formal declaration of Icve to her at a ball when she was sitting amidst a group Of other ladies. Lady Bessborough recorded the following -note " At

this present April, 1812, in my 51st year, I am courted, follow'd, flatter'd and made love to, on toutes lea formes, by four men—two of them reckon'd sensible, and one of the two whom I have known half my life." She sent the comparatively favoured Granville a rhyming satire on her numerous lovers, but begged him to " romomber that they are very good for Pootiek fiction, but do not exist in sober prose."

In principle, Lady Bessborough hold that " no woman has any business to meddle with politicks or any other serious business." Her practice was different. Not only did she " coax her brother," who was at the head of the Admiralty, to do jobs for Granville's naval friends, but she never ceased from mixing herself ardently in all the political controversies of the day. She describes herself as " a good Foxite," but, inasmuch as Granville was an equally good Pilate, she followed, after the manner of her sex, the dictates of her heart and, to use an expression of Canning's, " unwhiggified " herself when he stood as a Tory candidate for the constituency of Stafford. She " wrote and coax'd Fosbrook," a leading local Whig, and bogged Sheridan to back her up. The love-stricken Sheridan, of course, replied : " Dear Traitress,—The moment Fosbrook mention'd the matter to me I desired him to do every possible thing that Lord Granville wish'd. I do not care about the opposing man's Politics. I will also certainly write to Stafford to-morrow, where I have some Friends who I know have interest in Lichfield." Whon the election was won, she was nervously anxious that Granville's first speech, which was on the Address, should be a success. She sent him certain phials and added : " Take two teaspoonfuls of Salvolatile to two tablespoonfuls and a little over of Camphor Julep. Taste it first to see that it is not too strong (that is, makes your mouth smart), add a little more Camphor."

Lady Bessborough must have been a singularly attractive woman. not merely on account of her physical charms, but also by reason of her lively intelligence, her sparkling wit, her human sympathy, and the keen interest which she took in all that was passing around her. As she approached what Homer calls the " mournful threshold of old age," as those she loved dropped one by one into the grave, and as her life became embittered by the escapades of her madcap daughter, Lady Caroline Lamb, her letters became tinged with a pathetic note of sorrow and sadness, but at her best they constitute literary gems of great value. By a few graphic touches, which the most highly trained reporter of a modern daily newspaper might envy, she brings before us the aspect of the London streets when " dear, delightful Nelson " was borne to his grave. Her power to depict the social occurrences which took place in her own circle was remarkable. Her son, Lord Duncannon, and her niece, Lady Harriet Cavendish, the daughter of the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire, " quarrelled the whole twelve month thro' without being able to decide whether they like l each other well enough to marry." They and others met at the hou

the Duchess, and then Lady Bessborough introduces us into a labyrinthine maze of flirtations, so intricate and involved as to render it somewhat difficult to assign the right Amaryllis to the Damon of her choice. In the first place, Lord Abercorn " pretty nearly makes love " to Lady Harriet, so much so that it was " really quite unp.easant and Lady Abercorn began to dislike it." Upon which, Lord Duncannon, " merely to pique her [Lady Harriet], flirted very much with little Mrs. Payne, who, being very coquettish as well as very pretty, encourag'd him till," Lady Besaborough added, " I am afraid he is now seriously in love with her." Then Lord Abercorn got " extremely angry at Dun.'s attentions, and after many remon- strances told Mrs. P. Dun should never be invited to his House again if she did not immediately cut him." This, the sagacious woman of the world thought very unwise. " I wonder," she wrote, " Lord Abercorn did not know human nature better ; there is nothing so dangerous as creating a common interest between two people inclin'd to like one another." She proved to bo quite right. The " pretty and coquettish " Mrs. Payne told Lord Abercorn that " she should go on exactly as she had done, but that if Dun. was banish'd on her account, she should think herself oblig'd to make him amends, which Lord Abercorn would have to answer for." Upon this portentous threat, Lord Abercorn yielded. He " suffer'd Dun. to be invited as usual, and immediately after this conversation, seeing Mrs. P. and Dun. talking together he began the most mark'd flirtation with Harriet, and the same thing seems to have befallen him that did Dun. — beginning from anger and continuing from liking." Eventually the fickle " Dun." married Lady Maria Fane, who was not present at this bewildering Walpurgisnacht of cross-flirtations, whilst the "Harriet" of the story became the wife of Lord Granville Leveson Gower, whose pleading and pensive " °cold azzurri," of which frequent mention is made, possibly produced asgreat an effect on her as they apparently did on the Russian Princess Galitzin—the " Barbarian " of these Memoirs—

and on other ladies.

Here is another specimen of a Eerie-comic incident in high life which is described with great vivacity. Writing to Lord Granville in 1808, Lady Besaborough says :- " The Duke of Richmond makes desperate love to Ly. Ed. Somerset ; she rides about with him everywhere, and he speaks to no one else. The Das. is, as she always is, very jealous and, as all people are when jealous, very cross. In the beau milieu of this a note was brought to her by mistake, which she open'd without looking at the direction (so she says, at least). The note was from Ly. Edward, asking the D. of Richmond to ride with her and making some party for the evening, but ending with : What fine fun we shall have ! The old Puss will burst with jealousy.' She cried violently, gave the note to the Duke, and said Ly. Edward should never set toct in her House again. He answer'd that she had no business to open his notes, and if she did, ought to take no notice of their contents, and finally that Ly. Edward should as usual dine there every day, come as often and stay as long as she liked."

Finally, it may be noted that Lady Stafford and Lady Bessborough are not the only ladies whose sprightly literary style is recorded in these pages. Lady Harriet Cavendish, after her marriage, speaking of the Dean of Lichfield, who had been her husband's tutor, pointedly adds in a postscript to a letter addressed to her aunt : " Do Deans ever get drunk ? "

Castello, Lady Granville, has fully earned the very high compliment that the two volumes, each of some five hundred pages, which she has given to the world, may be road from cover to cover without the reader once feeling that they could advantageously have been curtailed. The notes descriptive of all the individuals mentioned are excellent, and have been manifestly prepared with great care. If, however, the work roaches a second edition, it would be as well to correct some trifling mistakes which appear to have escaped the eye of the proof-reader. The spelling of the passages in Italian, which aro numerous, is often defective. The date of at least one of the letters (Vol. L, p. 48) is certainly wrong, and it is doing some injustice to the faultless Latin of Virgil to state twice on the same page (Vol. IL, p. 413) that the ship- Wrecked sailors of Aeneas swam about " in gurgito vasto."