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respiration, then first perceived, and which has, at intervals, annoyed me from that period. Now another accident inspires a dread of the worst malady incident to the human frame. Alas! it has, through life, been the deprecation of my prayers.
Remind Mr. Adey of the uncommon circumstances of Mr. Sneyd, at the opening of our Vicars-hall, in the year 1757, dancing in the same set with the three women who afterwards succeeded each other as partners of his destiny. He had not then a thought of any one of them.
D'EON, THE IMPOSTOR.
This is the period of inconceivable characters, as well as of unexpected and prodigious events. The modern Thalestris is now in this city, Mademoiselle le Chevalier D'Eon, exhibiting, for two shillings admittance, her skill in the art of attack and defence with the single rapier.
Melancholy reverse of human destiny! what an humiliation for the aid-de-camp of Marshal Broglio! for the ambassador, during five years, from the court of France to that of Russia! For the envoy to ours, and the principal planner and negociator of the peace of 1782! In the German war, she lived five years in camps and tented fields, amidst the pride, the pomp, and circumstance, of high trust and glorious contest. In the American war, she was in five battles, fought against General Elliot, and received six wounds; and all this before her sex was discovered.
I learned from herself, that a destiny so astonishing was not originally the result of voluntary choice. Her parents bred her up às a boy, to avoid losing an estate entailed on the heir-male.
She seems to have a noble, independent, as well as intrepid, mind; and the muscular strength and activity of her large frame at sixty-nine, are wonderful. She fences in the French uniform, and then appears an athletic, venerable, graceful, man. In the female garb, as might be expected, she is awkwardly, though not vulgarly, masculine.
In three days she was to have sailed for France, by the order of the late unfortunate monarch, to have resumed her male dress, and to have taken military command as General, when the massacre at the Thuilleries, and imprisonment of the king, lamentably frustrated that design, and probably dropt an eternal curtain over her career of glory.* Adieu! adieu!
* After death this lady was found to be of the masculine gender.
I resume my pen, to speak to you of that enchanting unique, in conduct and situation, of which you have heard so much, though, as yet, without distinct description. You will guess that I mean the celebrated ladies of Langollen Vale, their mansion, and their bowers.
By their own invitation, I drank tea with them thrice during the nine days of my visit to Dinbren; and, by their kind introduction, partook of a rural dinner, given by their friend, Mrs. Ormsby, amid the ruins of Valle-Crucis, an ancient abbey, distant a mile and a half from their villa. Our party was large enough to fill three chaises and two phaetons.
After dinner, our whole party returned to drink tea and coffee in that retreat, which breathes all the witchery of genius, taste, and sentiment. You remember Mr. Hayley's poetic compliment to the sweet miniature painter, Miers:
"His magic pencil, in its narrow space,
Pours the full portion of uninjur'd grace."
So may it be said of the talents and exertion which converted a cottage, in two acres and a half of turnip ground, to a fairypalace, amid the bowers of Calypso.
It consists of four small apartments; the exquisite cleanliness of the kitchen, its utensils, and its auxiliary offices, vicing with the finished elegance of the gay, the lightsome little dining-room, as that contrasts the gloomy, yet superior, grace of the library, into which it opens.
This room is fitted up in the Gothic style, the door and large sash-windows of that form, and the latter of painted glass, "shedding the dim religious light." Candles are seldom admitted into this department. The ingenious friends have invented a kind of prismatic lantern, which occupies the whole elliptic arch of the Gothic door. This lantern is of cut glass, variously coloured, enclosing two lamps with their reflectors. The light it imparts resembles that of a volcano, sanguine and solemn. It is assisted by two glow-worm lamps, that, in little marble reservoirs, stand on the opposite chimney-piece, and these supply the place of the here always chastized day-light, when the dusk of evening sables, or when night wholly involves the thrice-lovely solitude.
A large Eolian harp is fixed in one of the windows, and, when the weather permits them to be opened, it breathes its deep tones to the gale, swelling and softening as that rises and falls.
"Ah me! what hand can touch the strings so fine,
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn, airs divine,
This saloon of the Minervas contains the finest editions, superbly bound, of the best authors, in prose and verse, which the English, Italian, and French languages boast, contained in neat wire cases over them the portraits, in miniature, and some in larger ovals, of the favoured friends of these celebrated votaries to that sentiment which exalted the characters of Theseus and Perithous, of David and Jonathan.
Between the picture of Lady Bradford and the chimney-piece, hangs a beautiful entablature, presented to the ladies of Langollen Vale, by Madam Sillery, late Madam Genlis. It has convex miniatures of herself and of her pupil, Pamela; between them, pyramidally placed, a garland of flowers, copied from a nosegay, gathered by Lady Eleanor in her bowers, and presented to Madam Sillery.
The kitchen-garden is neatness itself. Neither there, nor in the whole precincts, can a single weed be discovered. The fruit trees are of the rarest and finest sort, and luxuriant in the produce; the garden-house, and its implements, arranged in the exactest order.
Nor is the dairy-house, for one cow, the least curiously elegant object of this magic domain. A short steep declivity, shadowed over with tall shrubs, conducts us to the cool and clean repository. The white and shining utensils that contain the milk, and cream, and butter, are pure 66 as snows thrice bolted in the northern blast." In the midst, a little machine, answering the purpose of a churn, enables the ladies to manufacture half a pound of butter for their own breakfast, with an apparatus which finishes the whole process without manual operation.
The wavy and shaded gravel-walk which encircles this Elysium, is enriched with various shrubs and flowers. It is nothing in extent, and every thing in grace and beauty, and in variety of foliage; its gravel smooth as marble. In one part of it we turn upon a small knoll, which overhangs a deep hollow glen. In its tangled bottom, a frothing brook leaps and clamours over the rough stones in its channel. A large spreading beech canopies the knoll, and a semilunar seat, beneath its boughs, admits four people. A board, nailed to the elm, has this inscription,
"O cara Selva! e Fiumicello amato !"
It has a fine effect to enter the little Gothic library, as I first entered it, at the dusk hour. The prismatic lantern diffused a light gloomily glaring. It was assisted by the paler flames of the petit lamps on the chimney-piece, while, through the opened windows, we had a darkling view of the lawn on which they look, the concave shrubbery of tall cypress, yews, laurels, and lilachs; of the woody amphitheatre on the opposite hill, that seems to rise
immediately behind the shrubbery; and of the gray barren mountain which, then just visible, forms the back ground. The evening-star had risen above the mountain; the airy harp loudly rung to the breeze, and completed the magic of the scene.
You will expect that I say something of the enchantresses themselves, beneath whose plastic wand these peculiar graces arose. Lady Eleanor is of a middle height, and somewhat beyond the embonpoint as to plumpness; her face round and fair, with the glow of luxuriant health. She has not fine features, but they are agreeable; enthusiasm in her eye, hilarity and benevolence in her smile. Exhaustless is her fund of historic and traditionary knowledge, and of every thing passing in the present eventful period. She has uncommon strength and fidelity of memory; and her taste for works of imagination, particularly for poetry, is very awakened, and she expresses all she feels with an ingenuous ardour, at which the cold spirited beings stare. I am informed that both these ladies read and speak most of the modern languages. Of the Italian poets, especially of Dante, they are warm admirers. Miss Ponsonby, somewhat taller than her friend, is neither slender, nor otherwise, but very graceful. Easy, elegant, yet pensive, is her address and manner :
"Her voice, like lovers watch'd, is kind and low."
A face rather long than round, a complexion clear, but without bloom, with a countenance which, from its soft melancholy, has peculiar interest. If her features are not beautiful, they are very sweet and feminine. Though the pensive spirit within, permits not her lovely dimples to give mirth to her smile, they increase its sweetness, and, consequently, her power of engaging the affections. We see, through their vale of shading reserve, that all the talents and accomplishments which enrich the mind of Lady Eleanor, exist, with equal powers, in this her charming friend.
Such are these extraordinary women, who, in the bosom of their deep retirement, are sought by the first characters of the age, both as to rank and talents. To preserve that retirement from too frequent invasion, they are obliged to be somewhat coy as to accessibility.
When we consider their intellectual resources, their energy, and industry, we are not surprised to hear them asserting, that, though they have not once forsaken their vale, for thirty hours successively, since they entered it seventeen years ago, yet neither the long summer's day, nor winter's night, nor weeks of imprisoning snows, ever inspired one weary sensation, one wish of returning to that world, first abandoned in the bloom of youth, and which they are yet so perfectly qualified to adorn.
CONFESSIONS OF LOVE.
Colonel T― had a grave and pensive cast of manners where I first knew him, in the flower of our mutual youth. Without doubt there is a marked congeniality in some of the circumstances of your and my destiny.* To me as to you, Colonel T― appeared interesting in that juvenile period, from a dignified seriousness, an air of refined attachment, not to a present but an absent object. His brother officers confirmed the idea which that shaded address, if I may so express myself, had excited, and named the late Lady Middleton, then Miss Georgiana Chadwick, as the lovely source of its pensiveness.
I made an experiment upon his heart, as he will tell you, and own that I was not its first passion. I felt a wish to hear from himself the history of his mind, and to pour the balm of pity into the wounds of love. My experiment succeeded; the shock of jealousy was apparent. I did not like to see him suffer, and almost instantly told him that the intelligence was fabulous, and invented for a test of the truth of the report which had reached me. He ingeniously acknowledged that it was not unfounded, talked freely to me of his impression and of its hopeless nature. It was only in the latter part of many weeks' association, that he gave me slight and transient hints of transferring attachment.
The regiment then removing, we separated with tender, but not visibly impassioned regret. Two years after, in the winter, 1764, we met accidentally in London, renewed our friendship, which soon became mutual, and acknowledged love; but in him so apparently reasonable and serene, as not once to inspire an idea that, if authority should break our engagement, his passion would prove unextinguishable. My father, on discovering, disapproved and dissolved it. I believed, that so placid a lover would not suffer severely for the disappointment, nor once imagined that his attachment would be proof against time. This conviction extinguished that part of my own regard, which was more tender than esteem, and left my heart vacant to receive another impression more instant and enthusiastic than I had ever previously experienced. Its vivacity induced me to think, that I had till then mistaken friendship for love. This happened the ensuing year, 1765. The inspirer was the present general, then Cornet Va native of Lichfield, but absent six years to receive a military education in France and at Dublin, where he was page to the lord-lieutenant. At that period he returned, with the united graces of early youth, the dignity of manhood, and with politeness which had the first polish. He was tall, and, in my eyes, ex
', and himself, an ingenious and
Addressed to the wife of Colonel Tmost interesting woman.