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made these so extremely irksome, that he sought and found refuge from his persecutor on the personal staff of the Marquis Wellesley, then Lord-Lieutenant. Blended with reminiscences of the Viceregal Court is a cursory sketch of the Viceroy's brother, the illustrious Duke, which conveys an exaggerated, if not wholly erroneous, impression of his character in youth and early manhood, when, we believe, he was substantially the same as in after life, although, before he had given decisive proof of his quality, the want of conversational power and social accomplishment may have been mistaken for incapacity:
It is a matter of notoriety that he was refused a collectorship of Customs on the ground of his incompetency for the duties; and I have reason to believe that a letter is now extant from Lord Mornington (afterwards Lord Wellesley) to Lord Camden, declining a commission for his brother Arthur, in the army, on the same grounds.'
It is not quite matter of notoriety, but it has been stated on respectable authority, that Wellesley (wishing to retire from active service) applied to Lord Camden for a commissionership (not a collectorship) of Customs; but Lord Camden did not become Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland till March, 1795, when Wellesley, who entered the army in 1787, was a LieutenantColonel, and a member of Parliament of six years' standing. His application was probably withdrawn ; but it is preposterous to suppose that he was rejected for incompetency. The dates are equally decisive against the second story; or, if Lord Camden had commissions at his disposal prior to 1787, it is not likely that Lord Mornington would have refused one for his brother, fresh from the military school at Angers, on such a ground.
'An old lady, one of his contemporaries, told me that when any of the Dublin belles received an invitation to a picnic they stipulated as a condition of its acceptance that "that mischievous boy, Arthur Wellesley, should not be of the party." It was the fashion of the period for gentlemen to wear, instead of a neckcloth, a piece of rich lace, which was passed through a loop in the shirt collar. To twitch the lace out of its loop was a favourite pastime of the inchoate "Iron Duke."
This, again, is apocryphal on the face of it, and inconsistent with the prior description of him as shy and reserved. But an old lady, Lady Aldborough, was fond of relating that she once took him in her carriage to a picnic in the neighbourhood of Dublin, and finding him a dull companion, threw him over for le beau Cradock' (the first Lord Howden), leaving him to find his way back as he best could. He had nothing for it but
to accept a lift from the musicians; and, boldly reminding him of the adventure in the height of his fame, she said, When I left you to come back with the fiddlers, I little thought you would ever play first fiddle yourself.' This is the exact story as we heard it more than once from the old lady's own lips. There are other versions. That adopted by the best of the Duke's biographers, the Rev. Dr. Gleig, runs thus:—
'He was at a ball one night, and, as usual, could not find a partner. Inheriting his father's taste for music, he consoled himself by sitting down near the band, which happened to be a remarkably good one. By and by the party broke up, when the other officers present were taken home by their lady friends, while young Wesley was by common consent left to travel with the fiddlers. Old Lady Aldborough on one occasion put the Duke in mind of the circumstance, after he had become a great man, at which he laughed heartily, whilst she added with naïveté, "We should not leave you to go home with the fiddlers now."—Life of Arthur Duke of Wellington, p. 8.
The incident, probable enough at a picnic, could hardly have occurred at a ball, from which he might have quietly walked home at any time; and the old lady's joke, on which she especially prided herself, is lost. Naïveté was not in her line.
The Travels were published early in January, 1827, under the following title:
"Personal Narrative of Travels in Babylonia, Assyria, Media, and Scythia," in the year 1824. By Captain, the Hon. George Keppel, F.S.A. In Two Volumes.'
Lord Wellesley, when a copy was presented to him, immediately began bantering the author on the title-page 'F. A. S.' He exclaimed, 'Do you know those letters mean a "fellow abominably stupid," and you have only to add F. R. S. to your next edition, and you will be a "fellow remarkably stupid" into the bargain.' A purist in language, his Excellency next took objection to the word 'personal,' although similarly employed on three or four occasions by Alexander von Humboldt:—
The same evening Lord Plunkett, recently appointed Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, dined at the Lodge. The Viceroy renewed the attack on my malaprop adjective. "One of my aide-de-camps," said he, "has written a personal narrative of his travels, pray, Chief Justice, what is your definition of 'personal'?" "My lord," replied Plunkett, "we lawyers always consider personal as opposed to real."
The Personal Narrative' ran through three editions within the year, and won him at once a place amongst the celebrities in vogue
Or many (for the number's sometimes such)
Or fame, or name, for wit, war, sense, or nonsense,
When some affected person complained to Sir Walter Scott of the bore of being lionised, Sir Walter frankly owned that he found it very agreeable, and advantageous into the bargain, as it enabled him to form the acquaintance of all the people best worth knowing. The author of the Personal Narrative' agreed with Scott, and made the best of his opportunities. After mentioning that one of the first fruits of his authorship was the admission to the literary circles of Lydia White:
"The "Overland Journey" opened to me other houses not usually accessible to young men about town. At Sir George Phillips's in Mount Street, I made the acquaintance of Sydney Smith, Sir James Macintosh, Hallam, and Macaulay. In "Conversation Sharp's " little dining-room in Upper Grosvenor Street, I met men who could boast of personal acquaintance with members of the "Club," e.g., such for instance as Burke, Johnson, and Reynolds. Lord Essex used to give very pleasant dinners of eight covers to persons of all callings. At Mr. Edmund Byng's I was to have for fellow guests the leading actors of the day-Mathews, Liston, Dowton, Fawcett, Harley, Yates. I met poets at Samuel Rogers' breakfasts, and punsters at General Phipps'-at the house of this last-named officer I remember meeting George Colman, the author of "Broad Grins," James Smith, one of the authors of the "Rejected Addresses," and Jekyll, non-pareil of the punsters.
'The only lady of the company was the Dowager Lady Cork. Puns were of course the staple of the entertainment. I record one by
way of a sample: "Mr. Colman," said Lady Cork, "you are so agreeable that you shall drink a glass of champagne with me." Ladyship's wishes are laws to me," answered Colman, "but really champagne does not agree with me." Upon which Jekyll called out, "Faith, Colman, you seem more attached to the cork than the bottle."
At The Hoo, Lord Dacre's, he accepts a part in Lady Dacre's comedy of Pomps and Vanities,' the success of which, he says, revived a long dormant taste:
'Private theatricals became all the fashion. Hatfield House was the first to follow the lead set by The Hoo, and I accepted an engagement in the new company. My fellow-comedians comprised Lady Salisbury, our hostess; Lord and Lady Francis Levison Gower, afterwards Lord and Lady Ellesmere; Lord Morpeth, afterwards Lord Carlisle; Mrs. Robert Ellison, a sister of Lord Rokeby; Mrs. Robert Ellice; Sir George Chad; and Lord Normanby's brother;
Colonel-afterwards Sir Charles Phipps. Of this corps the only survivors are Lady Clanricarde, Mr. James Stuart Wortley, and myself. The pieces performed were French vaudevilles adapted to the Hatfield stage by Theodore Hook, and they suffered no deterioration by passing through the hands of the author of "Killing no Murder."
Charles Phipps was to act the part of a King of Sweden, but having no star, a despatch was sent to the Duke of Wellington to borrow his. The messenger returned with His Grace's Insignia of a Knight, Grand Cross of the Order of the Sword. It is worthy of remark that the box which contained the order had evidently never been opened before."
He was equally fortunate in the sister isle, whose two leading celebrities about the time when he visited it were indicated by a popular song:
'Oh, Dublin is a famous city,
The finest city upon the sea,
For here's O'Connell making speeches,
Irish life and character were shown off to perfection in Lady Morgan's snug little nutshell of a house' (as she used to call it) in Kildare Street. When she transferred her household gods to William Street, Lowndes Square, she was still the centre of a brilliant circle; and she retained her wit, her warmth of feeling, her high spirits, her frolic sense of fun, and her genuine love of country, to the last; but she was too old to bear transplanting, and her efforts to acclimatise herself in the fashionable atmosphere of London explain, without justifying, the overfrank avowal of Lady Cork: I like you better as an Irish blackguard than as an English fine lady.' She was certainly at her best when she let loose her inexhaustible flow of native Irish humour, disdaining conventionalities and not disdaining the brogue.
When Lord Albemarle first made her acquaintance, he found her occupied in preparing her O'Briens and O'Flahertys' for the press; in which, she told him, he was to figure as a certain Count, a great traveller, who made a trip to Jerusalem for the sole object of eating artichokes in their native country.
The chief attraction in the Kildare Street "at homes" was Lady Morgan's sister, Olivia, wife of Sir Clerk. Her conversational powers were so greatly superior to those of her novel-writing sister, that I cannot help suspecting that the work which went in the name of one was a joint production.'
Both were highly gifted women, but Lady Morgan's conversational powers fully came up to the standard of her authorship:
The authoress of the "Wild Irish Girl," justly proud of her
gifted sister Olivia, was in the habit of addressing every new comer with "I must make you acquainted with my Livy." She once used this form of words to a gentleman who had just been worsted in a fierce encounter of wits with the lady in question. 'Yes, ma'am,' was the reply; "I happen to know your Livy, and I only wish your Livy was Tacitus."
At Bowood he made the acquaintance, which speedily ripened into intimacy, of Moore, and heard him sing most of his melodies::
Amongst others, "The Slave," a song expressive of the sympathy of the writer in the abortive insurrection for which his friend and college-chum, Robert Emmett, paid the forfeit of his life. I wish I could convey to my reader an idea of the spirit which the poet threw into the words
"the green flag flying o'er us, And the foe we hate before us."
Only the words happen to be:
'We tread the land that bore us,
The friends we've tried are by our side
Another reminiscence, of a somewhat later period, is introduced by the remark, that 'Wit and beauty have seldom been crowded into so small a space as occasionally found admittance into Mrs. Norton's tiny drawing-room at Storey's Gate, Westminster.'
It is difficult to glance over this recapitulation, far from complete, of the numerous and varied scenes of social and intellectual enjoyment open to the rising celebrity of fifty years since, and escape the melancholy reflection of how many have passed away, with hardly a chance or hope of their being adequately replaced.
In June, 1829, tired of an idle life, after several unsuccessful applications to be placed on half-pay, he started for Turkey with the view of ascertaining whether the Turks were able to hold their own against the Russians, aided by the Balcan range of mountains, supposed to present a sort of Alpine barrier which it required the genius of a Napoleon to surmount.' The problem had been solved before he arrived upon the ground by the march of Diebitsch's army (July 26, 1829) through the pass, or rather passes, for there are several, and so free from obstruction, that (he states) almost every field-officer had his caleche, the general officers three or four, and every company a cart, for their campkettles.' This was not his only illusion touching Turkey which this expedition helped to dissipate. He returned, and remains,