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Little Memoirs of the Nineteenth Century by George Paston

Part 4 out of 6

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meeting her at a ball, coolly took the earrings out of her ears,
telling her that she should not wear such things, as they hid the fine
turn of her cheek, and the set of head upon her neck. Lady Hester
frankly admitted, however, that it was her brilliant colouring that
made her beauty, and once observed, in reply to a compliment on her
appearance: 'If you were to take every feature in my face, and lay
them one by one on the table, there is not a single one that would
bear examination. The only thing is that, put together and lighted up,
they look well enough. It is homogeneous ugliness, and nothing more.'

With Pitt's death in January, 1806, as by the stroke of a magic wand,
all the power, all the glory, and all the grandeur came to a sudden
end, and the great minister's favourite niece fell to the level of a
private lady, with a moderate income, no influence, and a host of
enemies. On his deathbed, Pitt had asked that an annuity of 1500
might be granted to Lady Hester, but in the end only 1200 was awarded
to her, a trifling income for one with such exalted ideas of her own
importance. A house was taken in Montagu Square, where Lady Hester
entertained her half-brothers, Charles and James Stanhope, when their
military duties allowed of their being in town. Here she led but a
melancholy life, for her means would not allow of her keeping a
carriage, and she fancied that it was incompatible with her dignity to
drive in a hackney-coach, or to walk out attended by a servant. In
1809 Charles Stanhope, like his chief, Sir John Moore, fell at
Corunna. Charles was Lady Hester's favourite brother, and tradition
says that Sir John Moore was her lover. Be that as it may, she broke
up her establishment in town at this time, and retired to a lonely
cottage in Wales, where she amused herself in superintending her dairy
and physicking the poor. But she suffered in health and spirits, the
contrast of the present with the past was too bitter to be endured in
solitude, and in 1810 she decided to go abroad, and spend a year or
two in the south. A young medical man, Dr. Meryon, [Footnote:
Afterwards Lady Hester's chronicler.] was engaged to accompany her as
her travelling physician, and the party further consisted of her
brother, James Stanhope, and a friend, Mr. Nassau Sutton, together
with two or three servants. Lady Hester was only thirty when her uncle
died, but it does not seem to have been considered that she required
any chaperonage, either at home or on her travels, nor does it appear
that Lord Stanhope (who lived till 1816) took any further interest in
her proceedings.

On February 10, 1810, the travellers sailed for the Mediterranean on
board the frigate _Jason_. It is not necessary to follow them
over the now familiar ground of the early part of their tour.
Gibraltar (whence Captain Stanhope left to join his regiment at
Cadiz), Malta, Athens, Constantinople, these were the first
stopping-places, and in each Lady Hester was treated with great
respect by the authorities, and went her own way in defiance of all
native customs and prejudices. At Athens her party was joined by Lord
Sligo, who was making some excavations in the neighbourhood, and by
Lord Byron, who had just won fresh laurels by swimming the Hellespont.
Lady Hester formed but a poor opinion of the poet, whose affectations
she used to mimic with considerable effect. 'I think Lord Byron was a
strange character,' she said, many years later. 'His generosity was
for a motive, his avarice was for a motive; one time he was mopish,
and nobody was to speak to him; another, he was for being jocular with
everybody.... At Athens I saw nothing in him but a well-bred man, like
many others: for as for poetry, it is easy enough to write verses; and
as for the thoughts, who knows where he got them? Many a one picks up
some old book that nobody knows anything about, and gets his ideas out
of it. He had a great deal of vice in his looks--his eyes set close
together, and a contracted brow. O Lord! I am sure he was not a
liberal man, whatever else he might be. The only good thing about his
looks was this part [drawing her hand under her cheek, and down the
front of her neck], and the curl on his forehead.'

The winter of 1810 was passed at Constantinople, and the early part of
1811 at the Baths of Brusa. As Lady Hester had decided to spend the
following winter in Egypt, a Greek vessel was hired for herself and
her party, which now consisted of two gentlemen, Mr. Bruce and Mr.
Pearce, besides her usual retinue, and on October 23 the travellers
set sail for Alexandria. After experiencing contrary winds for two or
three weeks, the ship sprang a leak, and the cry of 'All hands to the
pumps' showed that danger was imminent. Lady Hester took the
announcement of the misfortune with the greatest calmness, dressed
herself, and ordered her maid to pack a small box with a few
necessaries. It soon became evident that the ship could not keep
afloat much longer, and that the passengers and crew must take to the
long-boat if they wished to escape with their lives. They contrived,
in spite of the high sea that was running, to steer their boat into a
little creek on a rock off the island of Rhodes, and here, without
either food or water, they remained for thirty hours before they were
rescued, and taken ashore. Even then their state was hardly less
pitiable, for they were wet through, had no change of clothes, and
possessed hardly enough money for their immediate necessities. Lady
Hester described her adventure in the following letter, dated Rhodes,
December, 1811:--

'I write one line by a ship which came in here for a few hours, just
to tell you we are safe and well. Starving thirty hours on a bare
rock, without even fresh water, being half naked and drenched with
wet, having traversed an almost trackless country over dreadful rocks
and mountains, laid me up at a village for a few days, but I have
since crossed the island on an ass, going for six hours a day, which
proves I am pretty well, now, at least.... My locket, and the valuable
snuff-box Lord Sligo gave me, and two pelisses, are all I have
saved--all the travelling-equipage for Smyrna is gone; the servants
naked and unarmed; but the great loss of all is the medicine-chest,
which saved the lives of so many travellers in Greece.'

As they had lost nearly all their clothes, and knew that it would be
impossible to procure a European refit in these regions, the
travellers decided to adopt Turkish costumes. Dr. Meryon made a
journey to Smyrna, where he raised money, and bought necessary
articles for the shipwrecked party at Rhodes. On his return, laden
with purchases, after an absence of five weeks, 'the packing-cases
were opened [to quote his own description], and we assumed our new
dresses. Ignorant at that time of the distinctions of dress which
prevail in Turkey, every one flattered himself that he was habited
becomingly. Lady Hester and Mr. Bruce little suspected, what proved to
be the case, that their exterior was that of small gentry, and Mr.
Pearce and myself thought we were far from looking like
_Chaoshes_ with our yatagans stuck in our girdles.' Lady Hester,
it may be noted, had determined to adopt the dress of a Turkish
gentleman, in order that she might travel unveiled, a proceeding that
would have been impossible in female costume.

The offer of a passage on a British frigate from Rhodes to Alexandria
was gladly accepted by Lady Hester and her friends, and on February
14, 1812, they got their first glimpse of the Egyptian coast. After a
fortnight spent in Alexandria, they proceeded to Cairo, where the
pasha, who had never seen an Englishwoman of rank before, desired the
honour of a visit from Lady Hester. In order to dazzle the eyes of her
host, she arrayed herself in a magnificent Tunisian costume of purple
velvet, elaborately embroidered in gold. For her turban and girdle she
bought two cashmere shawls that cost 50 each, her pantaloons cost
40, her pelisse and waistcoat 50, her sabre 20, and her saddle 35,
while other articles necessary for the completion of the costume cost
a hundred pounds more. The pasha sent five horses to convey herself
and her friends to the palace, and much honour was shown her in the
number of silver sticks that walked before her, and in the privilege
accorded to her of dismounting at the inner gate. After the interview,
the pasha reviewed his troops before his distinguished visitor, and
presented her with a charger, magnificently caparisoned, which she
sent to England as a present to the Duke of York, her favourite among
all the royal princes.

The next move was to Jaffa, where preparations were made for the
regulation pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In her youth Lady Hester had been
told by Samuel Brothers, the Prophet, that she was to visit Jerusalem,
to pass seven years in the desert, to become the Queen of the Jews,
and to lead forth a chosen people. Now, as she journeyed towards the
Holy City with her cavalcade of eleven camels and thirteen horses, she
saw the first part of the prophecy fulfilled, and laughingly avowed
that she expected to see its final accomplishment. Lady Hester had now
replaced her gorgeous Tunisian dress by a travelling Mameluke's
costume, consisting of a satin vest, a red cloth jacket shaped like a
spencer, and trimmed with gold lace, and loose, full trousers of the
same cloth. Over this she wore a flowing white burnous, whose folds
formed a becoming drapery to her majestic figure. In this costume she
was generally mistaken by the natives for a young Bey with his
moustaches not yet grown, but we are told that her assumption of male
dress was severely criticised by the English residents in the Levant.

From Jerusalem the party made a leisurely tour through Syria, visiting
Csarea, Acre, Nazareth, Sayda, where Lady Hester was entertained by
her future enemy, the Emir Beshyr, prince of the Drzes, and on
September 1, 1812, arrived at Damascus, where a lengthened stay was
made. Lady Hester had been warned that it would be dangerous for a
woman, unveiled and in man's dress, to enter Damascus, which was then
one of the most fanatical towns in all the Turkish dominions. But the
granddaughter of Pitt feared neither Turk nor Christian, and rode
through the streets daily with uncovered face, and though crowds
assembled to see her start, she received honours instead of the
expected insults. 'A grave yet pleasing look,' writes her chronicler,
'an unembarrassed yet commanding demeanour, met the ideas of the
Turks, whose manners are of this caste.... When it is considered how
fanatical the people of Damascus were, and in what great abhorrence
they held infidels; that native Christians could only inhabit a
particular quarter of the town; and that no one of these could ride on
horseback within the walls, or wear as part of his dress any coloured
cloth or showy turban, it will be a matter for surprise how completely
these prejudices were set aside in favour of Lady Hester, and of those
persons who were with her. She rode out every day, and according to
the custom of the country, coffee was poured on the ground before her
horse to do her honour. It was said that, in going through a bazaar,
all the people rose up as she passed, an honour never paid but to a
pasha, or to the mufti.'

From the moment of her arrival at Damascus, Lady Hester had busied
herself in arranging for a journey to the ruins of Palmyra. The
expedition was considered not only difficult but dangerous, and she
was assured that a large body of troops would be necessary to protect
her from the robber tribes of the desert. While the practicability of
the enterprise was still being anxiously discussed by her Turkish
advisers, Lady Hester received a visit from a certain Nasar, son of
Mahannah, Emir of the Anizys [Footnote: Dr. Meryon's somewhat erratic
spelling of Oriental names is followed throughout this memoir.] (the
collective name given to several of the Bedouin tribes ranging that
part of the desert), who told her that he had heard of her proposed
expedition, and that he came to warn her against attempting to cross
the desert under military escort, since in that case she would be
treated as an enemy by the tribes. But, he added, if she would place
herself under the protection of the Arabs, and rely upon their honour,
they would pledge themselves to conduct her from Hamah to Palmyra and
back again in safety. The result of this interview was that Lady
Hester declined the pasha's offer of troops, and leaving the doctor to
wind up affairs at Damascus she departed alone, ostensibly for Hamah,
a city on the highroad to Aleppo. But having secretly arranged a
meeting with the Emir Mahannah in the desert, she rode straight to his
camp, accompanied by Monsieur and Madame Lascaris, who were living in
the neighbourhood, and by a Bedouin guide. In a letter to General
Oakes, dated January 25, 1813, she gives the following account of her
first experiment upon the good faith of the Arabs:--

'I went with the great chief, Mahannah el Fadel (who commands 40,000
men), into the desert for a week, and marched for three days with
their camp. I was treated with the greatest respect and hospitality,
and it was the most curious sight I ever saw; horses and mares fed
upon camel's milk; Arabs living upon little else except rice; the
space around me covered with living things; 1600 camels coming to
water from one tribe only; the old poets from the banks of the
Euphrates singing the praises of the ancient heroes; women with lips
dyed bright blue, and nails red, and hands all over flowers and
different designs; a chief who is obeyed like a great king; starvation
and pride so mixed that really I could not have had an idea of it....
However, I have every reason to be perfectly contented with their
conduct towards me, and I am the Queen with them all.'

The preparations for the journey occupied nearly two months, the
cavalcade being on a magnificent scale. Twenty-two camels were to
carry the baggage, twenty-five horsemen formed the retinue, in
addition to the Bedouin escort, led by Nasar, the Emir's son. Still
the risk was great, for Lady Hester carried with her many articles of
value, and of course was wholly at the mercy of her conductors, who
got their living by plunder. But she sought the remains of Zenobia as
well as the ruins of Palmyra, and had set her heart upon seeing the
city which had been governed by one of her own sex, and owed its chief
magnificence to her genius. Mr. Bruce, writing to General Oakes just
before the start, observes: 'If Lady Hester succeeds in this
undertaking, she will at least have the merit of being the first
European female who has ever visited this once celebrated city. Who
knows but she may prove another Zenobia, and be destined to restore it
to its ancient splendour?'

The cavalcade set out on March 20, a sum of about 50 being paid over
to the Emir for his escort, with the promise of twice as much more on
the safe return of the party. The journey seems to have been
uneventful save for the occasional sulks of the Bedouin leader, and
the petty thefts of his followers. The inhabitants of Palmyra had been
warned of the approach of the 'great white queen,' who rode a mare
worth forty purses, and had in her possession a book which instructed
her where to find treasure, and a bag of herbs with which she could
transmute stones into gold. By way of welcome a body of about two
hundred men, armed with matchlocks, went out to meet her, and
displayed for her amusement a mock attack on, and defence of, a
caravan. The guides led the cavalcade up through the long colonnade,
which is terminated by a triumphal arch, the shaft of each of the
pillars having a projecting pedestal, or console, on which a statue
once stood. 'What was our surprise,' writes Dr. Meryon, 'to see, as we
rode up the avenue, that several beautiful girls had been placed on
these pedestals in the most graceful postures, and with garlands in
their hands.... On each side of the arch other girls stood by threes,
while a row of six was arranged across the gate of the arch with
thyrsi in their hands. While Lady Hester advanced, these living
statues remained immovable on their pedestals; but when she had
passed, they leaped to the ground, and joined in a dance by her side.
On reaching the triumphal arch, the whole in groups, both men and
girls, danced round her. Here some bearded elders chanted verses in
her praise, and all the spectators joined in the chorus. Lady Hester
herself seemed to partake of the emotions to which her presence in
this remote spot had given rise. Nor was the wonder of the Palmyrenes
less than our own. They beheld with amazement a woman who had ventured
thousands of miles from her own country, and crossed a waste where
hunger and thirst were the least of the perils to be dreaded.' It may
be observed that the people of Syria, excited by the achievements of
Sir Sydney Smith, had begun to imagine that their land might be
occupied by the English, and perhaps regarded Lady Hester as an
English princess who had come to prepare the way, if not to take

The travellers were only allowed a week in which to examine the ruins
of Palmyra, being hurried away by Prince Nasar on the plea that an
attack was expected from a hostile tribe. After resting for a time at
Hamah, and taking an affectionate farewell of their friendly Bedouins
(Lady Hester was enrolled as an Anizy Arab of the tribe of Melken),
they journeyed to Laodicea, which was believed to be free from the
plague that was raging in other parts of Syria, and here the summer
months were spent. In October Mr. Bruce received letters which obliged
him to return at once to England, and, as Dr. Meryon observes, 'he
therefore reluctantly prepared to quit a lady in whose society he had
so long travelled, and from whose conversation and experience of the
world so much useful knowledge was to be acquired.' Lady Hester had
now renounced the idea of returning to Europe, at any rate for the
present. She had some thoughts of taking a journey overland to
Bussora, and had also entered into a correspondence with the chief of
the Wahabys, with a view to travelling across the desert to visit him
in his capital of Derych; but she finally decided on remaining for
some months longer in Syria. She had heard of a house, once a
monastery, at Mar Elias, near Sayda (the ancient Sidon), which could
be hired for a small rent. The house was taken, the luggage shipped to
Sayda, and Lady Hester and her doctor were preparing to follow, when
both fell ill of a malignant fever, which they believed to be a
species of plague. For some time Lady Hester's life was despaired of,
but thanks to her splendid constitution, she pulled through, though
she was not strong enough to leave Laodicea until January, 1814.

Lady Hester had now become a sojourner instead of a traveller in the
East, and, abandoning European customs altogether, she conformed
entirely to the mode of life of the Orientals. Mar Elias, which was
situated on a spur of Mount Lebanon, in a barren and rocky region,
consisted of a one-storied stone building with flat roofs, enclosing a
small paved court. 'Since her illness,' writes Dr. Meryon, 'Lady
Hester's character seemed to have changed. She became simple in her
habits, almost to cynicism. Scanning men and things with a wonderful
intelligence, she commented upon them as if the motives of human
action were laid open to her inspection.' The plague having again
broken out in the neighbourhood, the party at Mar Elias were insulated
upon their rock, and during the early days of their tenancy were in
much the same position as the crew of a well-victualled ship at sea,
having abundance of fresh provisions, but no books, no newspapers, and
no intercourse with the outer world.

In the autumn an expedition to the ruins of Baalbec was undertaken,
and at Beyrout, on the way home, a servant brought the news that a
Zym, or Capugi Bashi, [Footnote: Nominally a door-keeper, according
to Dr. Meryon, but actually a Turkish official of high rank.] was at
that town on his road to Sayda, and was reported to be going to
capture Lady Hester, and carry her to Constantinople. Her ladyship
received the announcement with her usual composure, and it turned out
that she had long expected the Capugi Bashi, and knew the object of
his visit. Scarcely had the travellers arrived at Mar Elias than a
message came to Lady Hester, requesting her to meet the Zym at the
house of the governor of Sayda, since it was not customary for a
Turkish official to go to a Christian's house. But in this case the
haughty Moslem had reckoned without his host. Lady Hester returned so
spirited an answer that the Zym at once ordered his horses, and
galloped over to Mar Elias. The doctor and the secretary, knowing
nothing of the mission, felt considerable doubt of his intentions, and
put loaded pistols in their girdles, determined that if he had a
bowstring under his robes, no use should be made of it while they had
a bullet at his disposal. In the Turkish dominions, it must be
understood, a Capugi Bashi seldom comes into the provinces unless for
some affair of strangling, beheading, confiscation, or imprisonment,
and his presence is the more dreaded, as it is never known on whose
head the blow will fall.

In this case, fortunately, the Capugi's visit had no sinister motive.
The fact was now divulged that Lady Hester had been given a
manuscript, said to have been copied by a monk from the records of a
Frank monastery in Syria, which disclosed the hiding-places of immense
hoards of money buried in certain specified spots in the cities of
Ascalon and Sayda. Lady Hester, having convinced herself of the
genuineness of the manuscript, had written to the Sultan through Mr.,
afterwards Sir Robert, Liston, for permission to make the necessary
excavations, at the same time offering to forego all pecuniary benefit
that might accrue from her labours. The custom of burying money in
times of danger is so common in the East that credence was easily lent
to the story, while the fact that treasure might lie for centuries
untouched, even though the secret of its existence was known to
several persons, was possible in a country where digging among ruins
always excites dangerous suspicions in the minds of the authorities,
and where the discovery of a jar of coins almost invariably leads to
the ruin of the finder, who is supposed to keep back more than he

The Sultan evidently believed that the matter was worth examination,
for he had sent the Capugi from Constantinople to invest Lady Hester
with greater authority over the Turks than had ever been granted even
to a European ambassador. It was arranged that the first excavations
should be made at Ascalon, and though Lady Hester, having only just
returned from Baalbec, felt disinclined to set out at once on another
long journey, the Zym urged her to lose no time, and himself went on
to Acre to make the necessary preparations. As her income barely
sufficed for her own expenditure, she resolved to ask the English
Government to pay the cost of her search, holding that the honour
which would thereby accrue to the English name was a sufficient
justification for her demand.

'I shall beg of you,' she said to Dr. Meryon, 'to keep a regular
account of every article, and will then send in my bill to Government
by Mr. Liston; when, if they refuse to pay me, I shall put it in the
newspapers, and expose them. And this I shall let them know very
plainly, as I consider it my right, and not as a favour; for if Sir A.
Paget put down the cost of his servants' liveries after his embassy to
Vienna, and made Mr. Pitt pay him, 70,000 for four years, I cannot
see why I should not do the same.'

On February 15, 1815, Lady Hester left Mar Elias on horseback,
followed by her usual retinue, and on arriving at Acre spent about
three weeks in preparing for the work at Ascalon. In compliance with
the firmans sent by the Porte to all the governors of Syria, she was
treated with distinctions usually paid to no one under princely rank.
'Whenever she went out,' writes Dr. Meryon, 'she was followed by a
crowd of spectators; and the curiosity and admiration which she had
very generally excited throughout Syria were now increased by her
supposed influence in the affairs of Government, in having a Capugi
Bashi at her command.... No Turk now paid her a visit without wearing
his mantle of ceremony, and every circumstance showed the ascendency
she had gained in public opinion.' In addition to her own six tents,
twenty more were furnished for her suite, besides twenty-two
tent-pitchers, twelve mules to carry the baggage, and twelve camels to
carry the tents. To Lady Hester's use was appropriated a gorgeous
tilted palanquin or litter, covered with crimson cloth, and ornamented
with gilded balls. In case she preferred riding, her mare and her
favourite black ass were led in front of the litter. A hundred men of
the Hawry cavalry escorted the procession, which left Acre on March
18, and arrived at Jaffa ten days later. Here a short halt was made,
and on the last day of March they set off for Ascalon, their animals
laden with shovels, pickaxes, and baskets. On arriving at their
destination the tents were pitched in the midst of the ruins, while a
cottage was fitted up for Lady Hester without the walls. Orders were
at once despatched to the neighbouring villages for relays of
labourers to work at the excavations. These men received no pay, being
requisitioned by Government, but they were well fed and humanely
treated by their English employer. The excavations were carried on for
about a fortnight on the site indicated in the mysterious paper.
During the first three days nothing was found except bones, fragments
of pillars, and a few vases and bottles; but on the fourth day a fine,
though mutilated, colossal statue was discovered, which apparently
represented a deified king. Dr. Meryon made a sketch of the marble,
and pointed out to Lady Hester that her labours had at least brought
to light a treasure that would be valuable in the eyes of lovers of
art, and that the ruins would be memorable for the enterprise of a
woman who had rescued the remains of antiquity from oblivion. To his
astonishment and dismay she replied, 'It is my intention to break up
the statue, and have it thrown into the sea, precisely in order that
such a report may not get abroad, and I lose with the Porte all the
merit of my disinterestedness.' In vain Dr. Meryon represented that
such an act would be an unpardonable vandalism, and was the less
excusable since the Turks had neither claimed the statue, nor
protested against its preservation. Her only answer was: 'Malicious
people may say I came to search for antiquities for my country, and
not for treasures for the Porte. So, go this instant, take with you
half-a-dozen stout fellows, and break it into a thousand pieces.'
Michaud, in his account of the affair, says that the Turks clamoured
for the destruction of the statue, believing that the trunk was full
of gold, and that Lady Hester had it broken up in order to prove to
them their error. Be this as it may, reports were afterwards
circulated in Ascalon that the statue had actually contained treasure,
half of which was handed over to the Porte, and half kept by Lady

On the sixth day two large stone troughs were discovered, upon which
lay four granite pillars. This sight revived the hopes of the
searchers, for it was thought that the mass of granite could not have
fallen into such a position accidentally, but must have been placed
there to conceal something of value. Great was the disappointment of
all concerned when, on removing the pillars, the troughs were found to
be empty. The excavations of the next four days having produced
nothing of any value, the work was brought to an end, by Lady Hester's
desire, on April 14. She had come to the conclusion that when Gezzar
Pasha embellished the city of Acre by digging for marble among the
ruins of Ascalon, he had been fortunate enough to discover the
treasure, and she believed that his apparent mania for building was
only a cloak to conceal his real motives for excavating. The officials
and soldiers were handsomely rewarded for their trouble, and Lady
Hester set out on her homeward journey, minus her tents, palanquin,
military escort, and other emblems of grandeur, but with no loss of
dignity or serenity.

On returning to Mar Elias, she caused some excavations to be made near
Sayda, but with no better success, and after a few days the work was
abandoned. Lady Hester had been obliged to borrow a sum of money for
her expenses from Mr. Barker, the British consul at Aleppo, and now,
observes Dr. Meryon, 'as she had throughout proposed to herself no
advantage but the celebrity which success would bring on her own name
and that of the English nation, and as she had acted with the
cognisance of our minister at Constantinople, she fancied that she had
a claim upon the English Government for her expenses. Accordingly, she
sent our ambassador an account of her proceedings, and after showing
that all she had done was for the credit of her country, she asserted
her right to be reimbursed. She was unsuccessful, however, in her
application, and the expenses weighed heavily upon her means. Yet
hitherto she had never been in debt, and by great care and economy she
still contrived to keep out of it.'

Lady Hester having apparently decided to spend the remainder of her
days in Syria, Dr. Meryon informed her that he was anxious to return
to his own country, but that he would not leave her until a substitute
had been engaged. Accordingly, Giorgio, the Greek interpreter, was
despatched to England to engage the doctor's successor, and to execute
a number of commissions for his mistress. During the autumn Lady
Hester was actively employed in stirring up the authorities to avenge
the death of a French traveller, Colonel Boutin, who had been murdered
by the Ansarys on the road between Hamah and Laodicea. As the pasha of
the district had made no effort to trace or punish the murderers, she
had taken the matter into her own hands, holding that the common cause
of travellers demanded that such a crime should not go unpunished. Dr.
Meryon vainly tried to dissuade her from this course of action, urging
that the French consuls were bound to sift the affair, and that she,
in taking so active a part, was exposing herself to the vengeance of
the mountain tribes. As usual, the only effect of remonstrance was to
make her more determined to persevere in the course she had marked out
for herself. In the result, she succeeded in inducing the pasha to
send a punitive expedition into the mountains, and herself directed
the commandant, by information secretly obtained, where the criminals
were to be found. Mustafa Aga Berber, governor of the district, led
the expedition, and carried fire and sword into the Ansary country. It
was reported that he burnt the villages of the assassins, and sent
several heads to the pasha as tokens of his victories. Lady Hester
received a vote of thanks from the French Chamber of Deputies, after a
speech by Comte Delaborde, explaining the services she had rendered.

News of the great events that were taking place in France had now
reached Sayda, and Lady Hester, whose foible it was to think that the
successors of Pitt could do no right, was highly displeased at the
action of the British Government. She gave vent to her sentiments in
the following letter, dated April 1816, to her cousin the Marquis
(afterwards Duke) of Buckingham:--

'You cannot doubt that a woman of my character and (I presume to say)
understanding must have held in contempt and aversion all the
statesmen of the present day, whose unbounded ignorance and duplicity
have brought ruin on France, have spread their own shame through all
Europe, and have exposed themselves not only to ridicule, but to the
curses of present and future generations. One great mind, one single,
enlightened statesman, whose virtues had equalled his talents, was all
that was wanting to effect, at this unexampled period, the welfare of
all Europe, by taking advantage of events the most extraordinary that
have occurred in any era.... Cease therefore to torment me. I will not
live in Europe, even were I, in flying from it, compelled to beg my
bread. Once only will I go to France, to see you and James, but only
that once. I will not be a martyr for nothing. The granddaughter of
Chatham, the niece of the illustrious Pitt, feels herself blush that
she was born in England--that England who has made her accursed gold
the counterpoise to justice; that England who puts weeping humanity in
irons, who has employed the valour of her troops, destined for the
defence of her national honour, as the instrument to enslave a
freeborn people; and who has exposed to ridicule and humiliation a
monarch [Louis XVIII.] who might have gained the goodwill of his
subjects if those intriguing English had left him to stand or fall
upon his own merits.'

The announcement of the arrival of the Princess of Wales at Acre, and
the possibility that she might extend her journey to Sayda, induced
Lady Hester to embark for Antioch, where she professed to have
business with the British consul. It was considered an act of great
daring on her part to go into a district inhabited entirely by the
Ansrys, on whom she had lately wrought so signal a vengeance. But the
Ansrys had apparently no desire to bring upon themselves a second
punitive expedition, and though Lady Hester spent most of her time in
a retired cottage outside the town, in defiance of the warning that
her life was in danger, the tribes forbore to molest her. In September
she returned to Mar Elias; and, a few weeks later, Giorgio returned
from England, bringing with him an English surgeon and twenty-seven
packing-cases filled with presents, to be distributed among Lady
Hester's Turkish friends and acquaintances. On January 18, 1817, Dr.
Meryon, having initiated his successor into Eastern manners and
customs, took leave of his employer, and sailed for Europe, little
thinking that he would ever set foot in Syria again.


During the next ten or twelve years, we get but a few scanty glimpses
of the white Queen of the Desert. After Dr. Meryon's departure, Lady
Hester removed to a house in the village of Dar Jon, or Djoun, a few
miles from Mar Elias. To this house she added considerably, laid out
some magnificent gardens, and enclosed the whole within high walls,
after the manner of a mediaeval fortress. Here she seems to have
passed her time in encouraging the Drzes to rise against Ibrahim
Pasha, intriguing against the British consuls, and attempting to
bolster up the declining authority of the Sultan. In the intervals of
political business she occupied herself with superintending her
building and gardening operations, physicking the sick, and
tyrannising over her numerous servants. At Mar Elias, which she still
kept in her own hands, she maintained an eccentric old Frenchman,
General Loustaunau,[Footnote: Dr. Meryon's spelling.] who had formerly
been in the service of a Hindu rajah, but who, in his forlorn old age,
had wandered to Syria, and there, by dint of applying scriptural texts
to contemporary events, had earned the title of a prophet. Like Samuel
Brothers, he prophesied marvellous things of Lady Hester's future,
which she, rendered credulous by her solitary life in a mystic land,
where her own power and importance were the chief facts in her mental
horizon, came at length to believe.

In the _Memoirs of a Babylonian Princess_ by the Emira Asmar,
daughter of the Emir Abdallah Asmar, the author tells us that as a
girl she paid a long visit to the Emir Beshyr, prince of the Drzes.
During this visit, which apparently took place in the early
'twenties,' she was sent with a present of fruit to a neighbour's
house, and there found a guest, a tall and splendid figure, arrayed in
masculine costume, and engaged in smoking a narghila. The stranger,
who talked Arabic with elegance and fluency, discoursed on the subject
of astrology, and tried to dissuade the Emira from taking a projected
journey to the west, where she declared the sun had set, and the
hearts of the people retained not a spark of the virtues of their
forefathers. 'Soon afterwards,' continues the author, 'she rose, and
took her departure, attended by a large retinue. A spirited charger
stood at the gate, champing the bit with fiery impatience. She put her
foot in the stirrup, and vaulting nimbly into the saddle, which she
bestrode like a man, started off at a rapid pace, galloping over rocks
and mountains in advance of her suite, with a fearlessness and address
that would have done honour to a Mameluke.' The stranger was, of
course, none other than Lady Hester Stanhope, who, at that time, was
on friendly terms with the Emir Beshyr, afterwards her bitterest

In 1826 Lady Hester wrote to invite Dr. Meryon to return to her
service for a time, and he, who seems all his life to have 'heard the
East a-calling,' could not resist the invitation, though his movements
were now hampered by a wife and children. He began at once to make
preparations for his departure, but was unable to start before
September 1827. Meanwhile, Lady Hester had been gulled by an English
traveller, designated as 'X.' in her letters, who had induced her to
believe that he was empowered by the Duke of Sussex, the Duke of
Bedford, and a committee of Freemasons, to offer her such sums as
would extricate her out of her embarrassments, and to settle an income
upon her for life. How a woman who professed to have an almost
supernatural insight into the characters and thoughts of men, could
have been deceived by this story, it is hard to understand; but
apparently the difficulties of her situation, occasioned by her custom
of making large presents to the pashas in order to keep up her
authority, as well as by her benevolence to the poor in her
neighbourhood, rendered her willing to catch at any straw for help.
This 'X' had promised to send her a hundred purses for her current
expenses, and to bring out from England masons and carpenters to
enlarge her dwelling, in order that she might entertain the many
distinguished people who desired to come and see her. In a letter to
Dr. Meryon on this subject, Lady Hester writes:--

'If X.'s story is true, and my debts, amounting to nearly 10,000
pounds, are to be paid, then I shall go on making sublime and
philosophical discoveries, and employing myself in deep, abstract
studies. In that case I shall want a mason, carpenter, etc., income
made out 4000 pounds a year, and 1000 pounds more for people like you,
and 500 pounds ready money that I may stand clear. In the event that
all that has been told me is a lie.... I shall give up everything for
life to my creditors, and throw myself as a beggar on Asiatic charity,
and wander far without one parra in my pocket, with the mare from the
stable of Solomon in one hand, and a sheaf of the corn of Beni-Israel
in the other. I shall meet death, or that which I believe to be
written, which no mortal can efface. On September 7, Dr. Meryon and
his family embarked at Leghorn for Cyprus, but on nearing Candia their
merchant brig, which was taking out stores to the Turks, was attacked
by a Greek vessel, whose officers took possession of the cargo, and
also of all the passengers' property, except that belonging to the
English party, which they left unmolested. The Italian captain was
obliged to put back to Leghorn, and here Dr. Meryon heard the news of
the battle of Navarino, and of the shelter afforded by Lady Hester
Stanhope to two hundred refugee Europeans from Sayda. By this time she
was at daggers-drawn with the Emir Beshyr, whose rival she had helped
and protected. The Emir revenged himself by publishing in the village
an order that all her native servants were to return to their homes,
upon pain of losing their property and their lives. 'I gave them all
their option,' she writes. 'And most of them remained firm. Since
that, he has threatened to seize and murder them here, which he shall
not do without taking my life too. Besides this, he has given orders
in all the villages that men, women, and children who render me the
smallest service shall be cut in a thousand pieces. My servants cannot
go out, and the peasants cannot approach the house. Therefore, I am in
no very pleasant situation, being deprived of the necessary supplies
of food, and what is worse, of water; for all the water here is
brought on mules' backs up a great steep.'

Dr. Meryon was unable to resume his voyage at this time, but in 1828,
the news that a malignant fever had attacked the household at Jon,
and carried off Lady Hester's companion, Miss Williams, gave rise to
fresh plans for a visit to Syria. The doctor had, however, so much
difficulty in overcoming his wife's fears of the voyage, that it was
not until November, 1830, that he could induce her to embark at
Marseilles on a vessel bound for the East. The party arrived at
Beyrout on December 8, and found that Lady Hester had sent camels and
asses to bring them on their way, together with a characteristic note
to the effect that it would give her much pleasure to see the doctor,
but that, as for his family, they must not expect any other attentions
than such as would make them comfortable in their new home. She hoped
that Dr. Meryon would not take this ill, as she had warned him that
she did not think English ladies could make themselves happy in Syria,
and, therefore, he who had chosen to bring them must take the
consequences. This letter was but the first of a long series of
affronts put upon Mrs. Meryon, the result of Lady Hester's dislike of
her own sex, and probably also of her objection to the presence of
another Englishwoman in a spot where she had reigned so long as the
only specimen of her race.

A cottage had been provided in the village of Jon for the travellers,
and the ladies were escorted thither by the French secretary, while
the doctor hastened to report himself to Lady Hester, who received him
with the greatest cordiality, kissing him on both cheeks, and placing
him beside her on the sofa. Remembering her overweening pride of
birth, he was astonished at his reception, more especially as, in the
early part of her travels, she had never even condescended to take his
arm, that honour being reserved exclusively for members of the
aristocracy. He found her ladyship in good health and spirits, but
barely provided with the necessaries of life, having been robbed of
nearly all her articles of value by the native servants during her
last illness. A rush-bottomed chair, a deal table, dishes of common
yellow earthenware, bone-handled knives and forks, and two or three
silver spoons, were all that remained of her former grandeur, and the
dinner was on a par with the furniture.

The house, which had been hired at a rental of 20 from a Turkish
merchant, had been greatly enlarged, and the gardens, with their
summer-houses, covered alleys, and serpentine walks, were superior to
most English gardens of the same size. Lady Hester's constant outlay
in building arose from her idea that people would fly to her for
succour and protection during the revolutions that she believed to be
impending all over the world; her camels, asses, and mules were kept
with the same view, and her servants were taught to look forward with
awe to events of a supernatural nature, when their services and
energies would be taxed to the utmost. In choosing a solitary life in
the wilderness, far removed from all the comforts and pleasures of
civilisation, Lady Hester seems to have been actuated by her craving
for absolute power, which could not be gratified in any European
community. It was her pleasure to dwell apart, surrounded by
dependants and slaves, and out of reach of that influence and
restraint which are necessarily endured by each member of a civilised
society. She had become more violent in her temper than formerly, and
treated her servants with great severity when they were negligent of
their duties. Her maids and female slaves she punished summarily, and
boasted that there was nobody who could give such a slap in the face,
when required, as she could. At Mar Elias her servants, when tired of
her tyranny, frequently absconded by night, and took refuge in Sayda,
only two miles away; but at Dar Joon their retreat was cut off by
mountain tracts, inhabited only by wolves and jackals, and they were
consequently almost helpless in the hands of their stern mistress. The
establishment at this time consisted of between thirty and forty
servants, labourers, and slaves, most of whom are described as dirty,
lazy, and dishonest. Between them they did badly the work that
half-a-dozen Europeans would have done respectably, but then the
Europeans would not have stood the slaps and scoldings that the
natives took as a matter of course.

For the last fifteen years Lady Hester had seldom left her bed till
between two and five o'clock in the afternoon, nor returned to it
before the same hour next morning; while for four years she had never
stirred beyond the precincts of her own domain, though she took some
air and exercise in the garden. Except when she was asleep, her bell
was incessantly ringing, her servants were running to and fro, and the
whole house was kept in commotion. During the greater part of the day
she sat up in bed, writing, talking, scolding, and interviewing her
work-people. Few of her _employs_ escaped from her presence
without reproof, and as no one was allowed to exercise his own
discretion in his work, her directing spirit was always in the full
flow of activity. 'On one and the same day,' says Dr. Meryon,' I have
known her to dictate papers that concerned the political welfare of a
pashalik, and descend to trivial details about the composition of a
house-paint, the making of butter, drenching a sick horse, choosing
lambs, or cutting out a maid's apron. The marked characteristic of her
mind was the necessity that she laboured under of incessantly
talking.' Her conversations, we are told, frequently lasted for seven
or eight hours at a stretch, and at least one of her visitors was kept
so long in discourse that he fainted away with fatigue. Dr. Meryon
bears witness to her marvellous colloquial powers, her fund of
anecdote, and her talent for mimicry, but observes that every one who
conversed with her retired humbled from her presence, since her
language was always calculated to bring men down to their proper
level, to strip off affectation, and to expose conceit.

At this time her political influence was on the wane, but a few years
previously, when her financial affairs were in a more flourishing
condition, and when it was observed that the pashas valued her opinion
and feared her censure, she had obtained an almost despotic power over
the neighbouring tribes. A remarkable proof of her personal courage,
and also of the supernatural awe with which she was regarded, was
shown by her open defiance of the Emir Beshyr, in whose principality
she lived, but who was unable to reduce her, either by threats or
persecution, to even a nominal submission to his rule. Not only did
she give public utterance to her contemptuous opinion of the Emir, but
she openly assisted his relation and rival, the Sheikh Beshyr; yet no
vengeance either of the bowstring or the poisoned cup rewarded her
rebellion or her intrigues.

Her religious views, at this time, were decidedly complicated in
character. She firmly believed in astrology, of which she had made a
special study, and to some extent in demonology. But more remarkable
was her faith in the early coming of a Messiah, or Mahedi, on which
occasion she expected to play a glorious part. The prophecies of
Samuel Brothers and of General Loustaunau had taken firm possession of
her mind, more especially since their words had been corroborated by a
native soothsayer, Metta by name, who brought her an Arabic book
which, he said, contained allusions to herself. Finding a credulous
listener, he read and expounded a passage relating to a European woman
who was to come and live on Mount Lebanon at a certain epoch, and
obtain power and influence greater than a sultan's. A boy without a
father was to join her there, whose destiny was to be fulfilled under
her wing; while the coming of the Mahedi, who was to ride into
Jerusalem on a horse born saddled, would be preceded by famine,
pestilence, and other calamities. For a long time Lady Hester was
persuaded that the Due de Reichstadt was the boy in question, but
after his death she fixed upon another youth. In expectation of the
coming of the Mahedi she kept two thoroughbred mares, which no one was
suffered to mount. One of these animals, named Laila, had a curious
malformation of the back, not unlike a Turkish saddle in shape, and
was destined by its mistress to bear the Mahedi into Jerusalem, while
on the other, Lulu, Lady Hester expected to ride by his side on the
great day. 'Hundreds and thousands of distressed persons,' she was
accustomed to say, 'will come to me for assistance and shelter. I
shall have to wade in blood, but it is the will of God, and I shall
not be afraid.' Borne up by these glorious expectations, she never
discussed her debts, her illnesses, and her other trials, without at
the same time picturing to herself a brighter future, when the neglect
with which she had been treated by her family would meet with its just
punishment, and her star would rise again to gladden the world, and
more especially those who had been faithful to her in the time of

As soon as Mrs. Meryon was settled in her new home, and had recovered
from the fatigue of the journey, Lady Hester appointed a day for her
reception. What happened at the momentous interview we are not told,
except that at the close Lady Hester attired her visitor in a handsome
Turkish spencer of gold brocade, and wound an embroidered muslin
turban round her head. Unfortunately, Mrs. Meryon, not understanding
the Eastern custom of robing honoured guests, took off the garments
before she went away, and laid them on a table, a grievous breach of
etiquette in her hostess's eyes. Still, matters went on fairly
smoothly until, about the end of January, a messenger came from
Damascus to ask that Dr. Meryon might be allowed to go thither to cure
a friend of the pasha's, who had an affection of the mouth. Lady
Hester was anxious that the doctor should obey the call, but, greatly
to her annoyance, he entirely declined to leave his wife and children
alone for three or four weeks in a strange land, where they could not
make themselves understood by the people about them. In vain Lady
Hester tried to frighten Mrs. Meryon into consenting to her husband's
departure by assuring her that there were Dervishes who could inflict
all sorts of evil on her by means of charms, if she persisted in her
refusal. Mrs. Meryon quietly replied that her husband could go if he
chose, but that it would not be with her goodwill. From that hour was
begun a system of hostility towards the doctor's wife, which never
ceased until her departure from the country.

Lady Hester was not above taking a leaf out of the book of her own
enemy, the Emir Beshyr, for she used her influence to prevent the
villagers from supplying the wants of the recalcitrant family, who now
began to make preparations for their departure. They were obliged,
however, to wait for remittances from England, and also for Lady
Hester's consent to their leaving Jon, since none of the natives
would have dared lend their camels or mules for such a purpose, and
even the consular agents at Sayda would have declined to mix
themselves up in any business which might bring upon them the
vengeance of the Queen of the Desert. Meanwhile, a truce seems to have
been concluded between the principals, and Lady Hester again invited
the doctor's visits, contenting herself with sarcastic remarks about
henpecked husbands, and the caprices of foolish women. She graciously
consented to dispense with his services about the beginning of April,
and promised to engage a vessel at Sayda to convey him and his family
to Cyprus. Before his departure she produced a list of her debts,
which then amounted to 14,000. The greater part of this sum, which
had been borrowed at a high rate of interest from native usurers, had
been spent in assisting Abdallah Pasha, the family of the Sheikh
Beshyr, and many other victims of political malignity.

The unwonted luxury of an admiring and submissive listener led the
lonely woman to discourse of the glories of her youth, and the virtues
of her hero-in-chief, William Pitt. She spoke of his passion for Miss
Eden, daughter of Lord Auckland, who, she said, was the only woman she
could have wished him to marry. 'Poor Mr. Pitt almost broke his heart,
when he gave her up,' she declared. 'But he considered that she was
not a woman to be left at will when business might require it, and he
sacrificed his feelings to his sense of public duty.... "There were
also other reasons," Mr. Pitt would say; "there is her mother, such a
chatterer!--and then the family intrigues. I can't keep them out of my
house; and, for my king and country's sake, I must remain a free man."
Yet Mr. Pitt was a man just made for domestic life, who would have
enjoyed retirement, digging his own garden, and doing it cleverly
too.... He had so much urbanity too! I recollect returning late from a
ball, when he was gone to bed fatigued; there were others besides
myself, and we made a good deal of noise. I said to him next morning,
"I am afraid we disturbed you last night." "Not at all," he replied;
"I was dreaming of the masque of _Comus_, and when I heard you
all so gay, it seemed a pleasant reality...." Nobody would have
suspected how much feeling he had for people's comforts, who came to
see him. Sometimes he would say to me, "Hester, you know we have got
such a one coming down. I believe his wound is hardly well yet, and I
heard him say that he felt much relieved by fomentations of such an
herb; perhaps you will see that he finds in his chamber all that he
wants." Of another he would say, "I think he drinks asses' milk; I
should like him to have his morning draught." And I, who was born with
such sensibility that I must fidget myself about everybody, was sure
to exceed his wishes.'

After describing Mr. Pitt's kindness and consideration towards his
household, Lady Hester related a pathetic history of a faithful
servant, who, in the pecuniary distress of his master, had served him
for several years with the purest disinterestedness. 'I was so touched
by her eloquent and forcible manner of recounting the story,' writes
the soft-hearted doctor, 'and with the application I made of it to my
own tardiness in going to her in her distress, together with my
present intention of leaving her, that I burst into tears, and wept
bitterly. She soothed my feelings, endeavoured to calm my emotions,
and disclaimed all intention of conveying any allusion to me. This led
her to say how little malice she ever entertained towards any one,
even those who had done her injury, much less towards me, who had
always shown my attachment to her; and she added that, even now,
although she was going to lose me, her thoughts did not run so much on
her own situation as on what would become of me; and I firmly believed

Dr. Meryon sailed from Sayda on April 7, 1831, and for the next six
years we only hear of the strange household on Mount Lebanon through
the reports of chance visitors. After the siege of Acre by Ibrahim
Pasha in the winter of 1831-32, the remnant of the population fled to
the mountains, and Lady Hester, whose hospitality was always open to
the distressed, declares that for three years her house was like the
Tower of Babel. In 1832 Lamartine paid a visit to Jon, which he has
described in his _Voyage en Orient_. He seems to have been
graciously received, though his hostess candidly informed him that she
had never heard his name before. He explained, rather to her
amusement, that he had written verses which were in the mouths of
thousands of his countrymen, and she having read his character and
destiny, assured him that his Arabian descent was proved by the high
arch of his instep, and that, like every Arab, he was a poet by
nature. Lamartine, in return, represents himself as profoundly
impressed by his interview with this 'Circe of the East,' denies that
he perceived in her any traces of insanity, and declares that he
should not be surprised if a part of the destiny she prophesied for
herself were realised--at least to the extent of an empire in Arabia,
or a throne in Jerusalem.

Lady Hester formed a less favourable opinion of M. Lamartine than she
allowed him to perceive, and she was greatly annoyed at the passages
referring to herself that appeared in his book. Speaking of him and
his visit some years later, she observed: 'The people of Europe are
all, or at least the greater part of them, fools, with their
ridiculous grins, their affected ways, and their senseless habits....
Look at M. Lamartine getting off his horse half-a-dozen times to kiss
his dog, and take him out of his bandbox to feed him, on the route
from Beyrout; the very muleteers thought him a fool. And then that way
of thrusting his hands into his pockets, and sticking out his legs as
far as he could--what is that like? M. Lamartine is no poet, in my
estimation, though he may be an elegant versifier; he has no sublime
ideas. Compare his ideas with Shakespeare's--that was indeed a real
poet.... M. Lamartine, with his straight body and straight fingers,
pointed his toes in my face, and then turned to his dog, and held long
conversations with him. He thought to make a great effect when he was
here, but he was grievously mistaken.' It may be noted that all Lady
Hester's male visitors 'pointed their toes in her face,' in the hope
of being accredited with the arched instep that she held to be the
most striking proof of long descent. Her own instep, she was
accustomed to boast, was so high that a little kitten could run
underneath it.

A far more lifelike and picturesque portrait of Lady Hester than that
by Lamartine has been sketched for us by Kinglake in his
_Eothen_. In a charming passage which will be familiar to most
readers, he relates how the name of Lady Hester Stanhope was as
delightful to his childish ears as that of Robinson Crusoe. Chief
among the excitements of his early days were the letters and presents
of the Queen of the Desert, who as a girl had been much with her
grandmother, Lady Chatham, at Burton Pynsent, and there had made the
acquaintance of Miss Woodforde of Taunton, afterwards Mrs. Kinglake.
The tradition of her high spirit and fine horsemanship still lingered
in Somersetshire memories, but Kinglake had heard nothing of her for
many years, when, on arriving at Beyrout in 1835, he found that her
name was in every mouth. Anxious to see this romantic vision of his
childhood, he wrote to Lady Hester, and asked if she would receive his
mother's son. A few days later, in response to a gracious letter of
invitation, Kinglake made his pilgrimage to Jon.

The house at this time, after the storm and stress of the Egyptian
invasion, had the appearance of a deserted fortress, and
fierce-looking Albanian soldiers were hanging about the gates.
Kinglake was conducted to an inner apartment where, in the dim light,
he perceived an Oriental figure, clad in masculine costume, which
advanced to meet him with many and profound bows. The visitor began a
polite speech which he had prepared for his hostess, but presently
discovered that the stranger was only her Italian attendant, Lunardi,
who had conferred on himself a medical title and degree. Lady Hester
had given orders that her guest should rest and dine before being
introduced to her, and he tells us that, in spite of the homeliness of
her domestic arrangements, he found both the wine and the cuisine very
good. After dinner he was ushered into the presence of his hostess,
who welcomed him cordially, and had exactly the appearance of a
prophetess, 'not the divine Sibyl of Domenichino, but a good,
business-like, practical prophetess.' Her face was of astonishing
whiteness, her dress a mass of white linen loosely folded round her
like a surplice. As he gazed upon her, he recalled the stories that he
had heard of her early days, of the capable manner in which she had
arranged the political banquets and receptions of Pitt, and the awe
with which the Tory country gentlemen had regarded her. That awe had
been transferred to the sheikhs and pashas of the East, but now that,
with age and poverty, her earthly power was fading away, she had
created for herself a spiritual kingdom.

After a few inquiries about her Somersetshire friends, the prophetess
soared into loftier spheres, and discoursed of astrology and other
occult sciences. 'For hours and hours this wonderful white woman
poured forth her speech, for the most part concerning sacred and
profane mysteries.' From time to time she would swoop down to worldly
topics, 'and then,' as her auditor frankly observes, 'I was
interested.' She described her life in the Arab camps, and explained
that her influence over the tribes was partly due to her long sight, a
quality held in high esteem in the desert, and partly to a brusque,
downright manner, which is always effective with Orientals. She
professed to have fasted physically and mentally for years, living
only on milk, and reading neither books nor newspapers. Her unholy
claim to supremacy in the spiritual kingdom was based, in Kinglake's
opinion, on her fierce, inordinate pride, perilously akin to madness,
though her mind was too strong to be entirely overcome. As a proof of
Lady Hester's high courage, he notes the fact that, after the fall of
Acre, her house was the only spot in Syria and Palestine where the
will of Mehemet Ali and his fierce lieutenant was not law. Ibrahim
Pasha had demanded that the Albanian soldiers should be given up, and
their protectress had challenged him to come and take them. This
hillock of Dar Jon always kept its freedom as long as Chatham's
granddaughter lived, and Mehemet Ali confessed that the Englishwoman
had given him more trouble than all the insurgents of Syria. Kinglake
did not see the famous sacred mares, but before his departure he was
shown the gardens by the Italian secretary, who was in great distress
of mind because he could not bring himself to believe implicitly in
his employer's divine attributes. He said that Lady Hester was
regarded with mingled respect and dislike by the neighbours, whom she
oppressed by her exactions. The few 'respected' inhabitants of Mount
Lebanon apparently claimed the right to avail themselves of their
neighbours' goods; and the White Queen's establishment was supported
by contributions from the surrounding villages. This is quite a
different account from that given by Dr. Meryon, who always represents
Lady Hester as a generous benefactress, admired and adored in all the

In 1836 Lady Hester discovered another mare's nest in the shape of a
legacy which she chose to believe was being kept from her by her
enemies. In August of this year she wrote to Dr. Meryon, who was then
living at Nice, and invited him to come and assist her in settling her
debts, and getting possession of this supposititious property. 'A
woman of high rank and good fortune,' she continues, 'who has built
herself a _palais_ in a remote part of America, has announced her
intention of passing the rest of her life with me, so much has she
been struck with my situation and conduct. [Footnote: This was the
Baroness de Feriat, who did not carry out her intention.] She is
nearly of my age, and thirty-seven years ago--I being personally
unknown to her--was so taken with my general appearance, that she
never could divest herself of the thoughts of me, which have ever
since pursued her. At last, informed by M. Lamartine's book where I
was to be found, she took this extraordinary determination, and in the
spring I expect her. She is now selling her large landed estate,
preparatory to her coming. She, as well as Leila the mare, is in the
prophecy. The beautiful boy has also written, and is wandering over
the face of the globe till destiny marks the period of our meeting....
I am reckoned here the first politician in the world, and by some a
sort of prophet. Even the Emir wonders, and is astonished, for he was
not aware of this extraordinary gift; but yet all say--I mean
enemies--that I am worse than a lion when in a passion, and that they
cannot deny I have justice on my side.'

After his former experience of Lady Hester's hospitality it is
surprising that the doctor should have been willing to accept this
invitation, and still more surprising that his wife should have
consented to accompany him to Syria. But the East was still
'a-calling,' and the almost hypnotic influence which her ladyship
exercised over her dependants seems to have lost none of its efficacy.
Accordingly, as soon as the Meryons could arrange their affairs, they
embarked at Marseilles, landing at Beyrout on July 1, 1837. Here the
doctor received a letter from Lady Hester, recommending him to leave
his family at Beyrout till he could find a house for them at Sayda.
'For your sake,' she continued, 'I should ever wish to show civility
to all who belong to you, but caprice I will never interfere with, for
from my early youth I have been taught to despise it.' Here was signal
proof that the past had not been forgotten, and that war was still to
be waged against the unfortunate Mrs. Meryon. In defiance of Lady
Hester's orders, the whole family proceeded to Sayda, whence Dr.
Meryon rode over to Dar Jon. He received a warm personal welcome, but
his hostess persisted in her statement that there was no house in the
village fit for the reception of his womenkind, as nearly all had been
damaged by recent earthquakes. It was finally arranged that Mrs.
Meryon and her children should go for the present to Mar Elias, which
was then only occupied by the Prophet Loustaunau.

At this time Lady Hester's financial affairs were becoming desperate,
and she had even been reduced to selling some of her handsome
pelisses. Yet she still maintained between thirty and forty servants,
and when it was suggested to her that she might reduce her
establishment, she was accustomed to reply, 'But my rank!' Her
live-stock included the two sacred mares, three 'amblers,' five asses,
a flock of sheep, and a few cows. A herd of a hundred goats had
recently been slaughtered in one day, because their owner fancied that
she was being cheated by her goatherd. Now she decided to have the
three 'amblers' shot, because the grooms treated them improperly. The
under-bailiff received orders to whisper into the ear of each horse
before his execution, 'You have worked enough upon the earth; your
mistress fears you might fall, in your old age, into the hands of
cruel men, and she therefore dismisses you from her service.' This
order was carried out to the letter, with imperturbable gravity.

After a short experience of the inconvenience of riding to and fro
between Jon and Mar Elias, Dr. Meryon persuaded his employer to allow
him to bring his family to a cottage in the village; but the nearer
the time approached for their arrival, the more she seemed to regret
having assented to the arrangement. Frequent and scathing were her
lectures upon the exigent ways of women, who, she argued, should be
simple automata, moved only by the will and guidance of their masters.
She lost no opportunity of throwing ridicule on Dr. Meryon's desire to
have his family near him, in order that he might pass his evenings
with them, pointing out that 'all sensible men take their meals with
their wives, and then retire to their own rooms to read, write, or do
what best pleases them. Nobody is such a fool as to moider away his
time in the slipslop conversation of a pack of women.' Petty
jealousies, quite inconsistent with her boasted philosophy, were
perpetually tormenting her. One of the many monopolies claimed by her
was that of the privilege of bell-ringing. The Mahometans, as is well
known, never use bells in private houses, the usual summons for
servants being three claps of the hands. But Lady Hester was a
constant and vehement bell-ringer, and as no one else in the
country-side possessed house-bells, it was generally believed that the
use of them was a special privilege granted her by the Porte. She was
therefore secretly much annoyed when the Meryons presumed to hang up
bells in their new home. She made no sign of displeasure, but one
morning it was discovered that the ropes had been cut and the bells
carried off. Cross-examination of the servants elicited the fact that
one of Lady Hester's emissaries had arrived late at night, wrenched
off the bells, and taken them away. Some weeks later the Lady of Jon
confessed that she had instigated the act, and declared that if the
Meryons' bells had hung much longer her own would not have been
attended to.

Soon after the doctor's arrival, Lady Hester had dictated a letter to
Sir Francis Burdett, in whom she placed great confidence, informing
him of the property that she believed was being withheld from her, and
requesting him to make inquiries into the matter. When not engaged in
correspondence, discussing her debts, and scolding her servants, she
was pouring out floods of conversation, chiefly reminiscences of her
youth and diatribes against the men and manners of the present day,
into the ears of the long-suffering doctor. 'From her manner towards
other people,' he observes, 'it would have seemed that she was the
only person in creation privileged to abuse and to command; others had
nothing to do but to obey. She was haughty and overbearing, born to
rule, impatient of control, and more at her ease when she had a
hundred persons to govern than when she had only ten. Had she been a
man and a soldier, she would have been what the French call a _beau
sabreur_, for never was any one so fond of wielding weapons, and
boasting of her capacity for using them, as she was. In her bedroom
she always had a mace, which was spiked round the head, a steel
battle-axe, and a dagger, but her favourite weapon was the mace.'
Absurd as it may sound, it was probably her military vanity that led
her to belittle the Duke of Wellington, of whose reputation she seems
to have felt some personal jealousy. Yet she bears testimony to the
esteem in which 'Arthur Wellesley' was held by William Pitt.

'I recollect, one day,' she told the doctor, 'Mr. Pitt came into the
drawing-room to me, and said, "Oh, how I have been bored by Sir Sydney
Smith coming with his box full of papers, and keeping me for a couple
of hours, when I had so much to do." I observed to him that heroes
were generally vain, and that Lord Nelson was so. "So he is," replied
Mr. Pitt, "but not like Sir Sydney. And how different is Arthur
Wellesley, who has just quitted me! He has given me such clear details
upon affairs in India; and he talked of them, too, as if he had been a
surgeon of a regiment, and had nothing to do with them; so that I know
not which to admire most, his modesty or his talents, and yet the fate
of India depends upon them." Then, doctor, when I recollect the letter
he wrote to Edward Bouverie, in which he said he could not come down
to a ball because his only corbeau coat was so bad he was ashamed to
appear in it, I reflect what a rise he has had in the world. He was at
first nothing but what hundreds of others are in a country town--he
danced hard and drank hard. His star has done everything for him, for
he is not a great general. He is no tactician, nor has he any of those
great qualities that make a Caesar, a Pompey, or even a Bonaparte. As
for the battle of Waterloo, both French and English have told me that
it was a lucky battle for him, but nothing more. I don't think he
acted well at Paris, nor did the soldiers like him.'

About the end of October Lady Hester took to her bed, and did not
leave it till the following March. She had suffered from pulmonary
catarrh for several years, which disappeared in the summer, but
returned every winter with increased violence. Her practice of
frequent bleeding had brought on a state of complete emaciation, and
left very little blood in her body. If she had lived like other
people, and trusted to the balmy air of Syria, Dr. Meryon was of
opinion that nothing serious need have been apprehended from her
illness. But she seldom breathed the outer air, and took no exercise
except an occasional turn in the garden. She was always complaining
that she could get nothing to eat; yet, in spite of her profession (to
Kinglake) that she lived entirely on milk, we are told that her diet
consisted of forcemeat balls, meat-pies, and other heavy viands, and
that she seldom remained half an hour without taking nourishment of
some kind. 'I never knew a human being who took nourishment so
frequently,' writes Dr. Meryon, 'and may not this in some measure
account for her frequent ill-humour?'

During her illness the doctor read aloud Sir Nathaniel Wraxall's
_Memoirs_ and the _Memoirs of a Peeress_, edited by Lady Charlotte
Bury, both of which books dealt with persons whom Lady Hester
had known in her youth. In return she regaled him with stories
of her own glory, of Mr. Pitt's virtues, of the objectionable habits
of the Princess of Wales, and of the meanness of the Regent in
inviting himself to dinner with gentlemen who could not afford to
entertain him, the whole pleasantly flavoured by animadversions on the
social presumption of medical men, and descriptions of the methods by
which formerly they were kept in their proper place by aristocratic
patients. At this time, the beginning of 1838, Lady Hester was
anxiously expecting an answer from Sir Francis Burdett about her
property, and, hearing from the English consul at Sayda that a packet
had arrived for her from Beyrout, which was to be delivered into her
own hands, her sanguine mind was filled with the hope of coming
prosperity. But when the packet was opened, instead of the
long-expected missive from Sir Francis, it proved to be an official
statement from Colonel Campbell, Consul-General for Egypt, that in
consequence of an application made to the British Government by one of
Lady Hester's chief creditors, an order had come from Lord Palmerston
that her pension was to be stopped unless the debt was paid. When she
read the letter Dr. Meryon feared an outburst of fury, but Lady
Hester, who, for once, was beyond violence, began calmly to discuss
the enormity of the conduct both of Queen and Minister.

'My grandfather and Mr. Pitt,' she said, 'did something to keep the
Brunswick family on the throne, and yet the granddaughter of the old
king, without hearing the circumstances of my getting into debt, or
whether the story is true, sends to deprive me of my pension in a
strange land, where I may remain and starve.... I should like to ask
for a public inquiry into my debts, and for what I have contracted
them. Let them compare the good I have done in the cause of humanity
and science with the Duke of Kent's debts. I wonder if Lord Palmerston
is the man I recollect--a young man from college, who was always
hanging about waiting to be introduced to Mr. Pitt. Mr. Pitt used to
say, "Ah, very well; we will ask him to dinner some day." Perhaps it
is an old grudge that makes him vent his spite.' Colonel Campbell's
letter had given the poor lady's heart, or rather her pride, a fatal
stab, and the indignity with which she had been treated preyed upon
her health and spirits. She now determined to send an ultimatum to the
Queen, which was to be published in the newspapers if ministers
refused to lay it before her Majesty. This document, which was dated
February 12, 1838, ran as follows:--

'Your Majesty will allow me to say that few things are more
disgraceful and inimical to royalty than giving commands without
examining all their different bearings, and casting, without reason,
an aspersion upon the integrity of any branch of a family that had
faithfully served their country and the House of Hanover. As no
inquiries have been made of me of what circumstances induced me to
incur the debts alluded to, I deem it unnecessary to enter into any
details on the subject. I shall not allow the pension given by your
royal grandfather to be stopped by force; but I shall resign it for
the payment of my debts, and with it the name of British subject, and
the slavery that is at present annexed to it; and as your Majesty has
given publicity to the business by your orders to your consular
agents, I surely cannot be blamed for following your royal example.


This was accompanied by a long letter to the Duke of Wellington, in
which Lady Hester detailed her services in the East, and expressed her
indignation at the treatment she had received. She was now left with
only a few pounds upon which to maintain her house-hold until March,
when she could draw for 300, apparently the quarter's income from a
legacy left her by her brother, but of this sum 200 was due to a
Greek merchant at Beyrout. The faithful doctor collected all the money
he had in his house, about eleven pounds, and brought it to her for
her current expenses, but with her usual impracticability she gave
most of it away in charity. Still no letter came from Sir Francis
Burdett, and the unfortunate lady, old, sick, and wasted to a
skeleton, lay on her sofa and lamented over her troubles in a fierce,
inhuman fashion, like a wounded animal at bay. In the course of time a
reply came from Lord Palmerston, in which he stated that he had laid
Lady Hester's letter before the Queen, and explained to her Majesty
the circumstances that might be supposed to have led to her writing
it. The communications to which she referred were, he continued,
suggested by nothing but a desire to save her from the embarrassments
that might arise if her creditors were to call upon the Consul-General
to act according to the strict line of his duty. This letter did
nothing towards assuaging Lady Hester's wrath. In her reply she
sarcastically observed:--

'If your diplomatic despatches are all as obscure as the one that now
lies before me, it is no wonder that England should cease to have that
proud preponderance in her foreign relations which she once could
boast of.... It is but fair to make your lordship aware that, if by
the next packet there is nothing definitely settled respecting my
affairs, and I am not cleared in the eyes of the world of aspersions,
intentionally or unintentionally thrown upon me, I shall break up my
household, and build up the entrance-gate to my premises; there
remaining as if I was in a tomb till my character has been done
justice to, and a public acknowledgment put in the papers, signed and
sealed by those who have aspersed me. There is no trifling with those
who have Pitt blood in their veins upon the subject of integrity, nor
expecting that their spirit would ever yield to the impertinent
interference of consular authority, etc., etc.' It must be owned that
there is a touch of unconscious humour in Lady Hester's terrible
threat of walling herself up, a proceeding which would only make
herself uncomfortable and leave her enemies at peace. For the present
matters went on much as usual at Dar Jon. No household expenses were
curtailed, and thirty native servants continued to cheat their
mistress and idle over their work. In March, that perambulating
princeling, his Highness of Pckler-Muskau, arrived at Sayda, whence
he wrote a letter to Lady Hester, begging to be allowed to pay his
homage to the Queen of Palmyra and the niece of the great Pitt. 'I
have the presumption to believe, madam,' he continued, 'that there
must be some affinity of character between us. For, like you, my lady,
I look for our future salvation from the East, where nations still
nearer to God and to nature can alone, some day, purify the rotten
civilisation of decrepid Europe, in which everything is artificial,
and where we are menaced with a new kind of barbarism--not that with
which states begin, but with which they end. Like you, madam, I
believe that astrology is not an empty science, but a lost one. Like
you, I am an aristocrat by birth and by principle; because I find a
marked aristocracy in nature. In a word, madam, like you, I love to
sleep by day and be stirring by night. There I stop; for in mind,
energy of character, and in the mode of life, so singular and so
dignified, which you lead, not every one who would can resemble Lady
Hester Stanhope.'

Lady Hester was flattered by this letter, and told the doctor that he
must ride into Sayda to see the prince, and tell him that she was too
ill to receive him at present, but would endeavour to do so a few
weeks later. The prince was established with his numerous suite in the
house of a merchant of Sayda. Mehemet Ali had given him a special
firman, requiring all official persons to treat him in a manner
suitable to his rank, his whole expenditure being defrayed by cheques
on the Viceroy's treasury. The prince, unlike most other distinguished
travellers who were treated with the same honour, took the firman
strictly according to the letter, and could boast of having traversed
the whole of Egypt and Syria with all the pomp of royalty, and without
having expended a single farthing. Dr. Meryon describes his Highness
as a tall man of about fifty years of age, distinguished by an
unmistakable air of birth and breeding. He wore a curious mixture of
Eastern and Western costume, and had a tame chameleon crawling about
his pipe, with which he was almost as much occupied as M. Lamartine
with his lapdog. The prince stated that he had almost made up his mind
to settle in the East, since Europe was no longer the land of liberty.
'I will build myself a house,' he said, 'get what I want from Europe,
make arrangements for newspapers, books, etc., and choose some
delightful situation; but I think it will be on Mount Lebanon.'

In his volume of travels in the East called _Die Rckkehr_,
Prince Pckler-Muksau has given an amusing account of the negotiations
that passed between himself and Lady Hester on the subject of his
visit. For once the niece of Pitt had found her match in vanity and
arrogance; and if the prince's book had appeared in her lifetime, it
is certain that she would not long have survived it. His Highness
describes how he bided his time, as though he were laying siege to a
courted beauty, and almost daily bombarded the Lady of Jon with
letters calculated to pique her curiosity by their frank and original
style. At last, 'in order to be rid of him,' as she jokingly said,
Lady Hester consented to receive him on a certain day, which, from his
star, she deemed propitious to their meeting. Thereupon the prince,
who intended that his visit should be desired, not suffered, wrote to
say that he was setting out for an expedition into the desert, but
that on his return he would come to Jon, not for one day, but for a
week. This impertinence was rewarded by permission to come at his own

Great preparations were made for the entertainment of this
distinguished visitor. The scanty contents of the store and china
cupboards were spread out before the lady of the house, who infused
activity into the most sluggish by smart strokes from her stick. The
epithets of beast, rascal, and the like, were dealt out with such
freedom and readiness, as to make the European part of her audience
sensible of the richness and variety of the Arabian language. On
Easter Monday, April 15, the prince, followed by a part of his suite,
and five mule-loads of baggage, rode into the courtyard. He wore an
immense Leghorn hat lined with green taffetas, a Turkish scarf over
his shoulders, and blue pantaloons of ample dimensions. From the
excellent fit of his Parisian boots, it was evident that he felt his
pretensions to a thoroughbred foot were now to be magisterially
decided. The prince has given his own impression of his hostess, whom
he describes as a thorough woman of the world, with manners of
Oriental dignity and calm. With her pale, regular features, dark,
fiery eyes, great height, and sonorous voice, she had the appearance
of an ancient Sibyl; yet no one, he declares, could have been more
natural and unaffected in manner. She told him that since she had lost
her money, she had lived like a dervish, and assimilated herself to
the ways of nature. 'My roses are my jewels,' she said, 'the sun and
moon my clocks, fruit and water my food and drink. I see in your face
that you are a thorough epicure; how will you endure to spend a week
with me?' The prince, who had already dined, replied that he found she
did not keep her guests on fruit and water, and assured her that
English poverty was equivalent to German riches. He spent six or seven
hours _tte-a-tte_ with his hostess each evening of his stay,
and declares that he was astonished at the originality and variety of
her conversation. He had the audacity to ask her if the Arab chief who
accompanied her to Palmyra had been her lover, but she, not
ill-pleased, assured him that there was no truth in the report, which
at one time had been generally believed. She said that the Arabs
regarded her neither as man or woman, but as a being apart.

Before leaving, the prince introduced his 'harem,' consisting of two
Abyssinian slaves, to Lady Hester, and was presented, in his turn, to
the sacred mares, which had lost their beauty, and grown gross and
unwieldy under their _rgime_ of gentle exercise and unlimited
food. Leila licked the prince's hand when he caressed her, and Leila's
mistress was thereby convinced that her guest was a 'chosen vessel.'
She confided to him all her woes, the neglect of her relations and the
ill-treatment of the Government, and gave him copies of the
correspondence about her pension, which he promised to publish in a
German newspaper. To Dr. Meryon she waxed quite enthusiastic over his
Highness's personal attractions, the excellent cut of his coat, and
the handiness with which he performed small services. 'I could
observe,' writes the doctor, towards the end of the visit, 'that she
had already begun to obtain an ascendency over the prince, such as she
never failed to do over those who came within the sphere of her
attraction; for he was less lofty in his manner than he had been at
first, and she seemed to have gained in height, and to be more
disposed to play the queen than ever.'

This, alas, was the last time that Lady Hester had the opportunity of
playing the queen, or entertaining a distinguished guest at Dar Jon.
In June, when the packet brought no news of her imaginary property,
and no apology from Queen or Premier, she began at last to despair.
'The die is cast,' she told Dr. Meryon, 'and the sooner you take
yourself off the better. I have no money; you can be of no use to
me--I shall write no more letters, and shall break up my
establishment, wall up my gate, and, with a boy and girl to wait upon
me, resign myself to my fate. Tell your family they may make their
preparations, and be gone in a month's time.' Early in July Sir
Francis Burdett's long-expected letter arrived, but brought with it no
consolation. He could tell nothing of the legacy, but wrote in the
soothing, evasive terms that might be supposed suitable to an elderly
lady who was not quite accountable for her ideas or actions. As there
was now no hope of any improvement in her affairs, Lady Hester decided
to execute her threat of walling up her gateway, a proceeding which,
she was unable to perceive, injured nobody but herself. She directed
the doctor to pay and dismiss her servants, with the exception of two
maids and two men, and then sent him to Beyrout to inform the French
consul of her intention. On his return to Jon he found that Lady
Hester had already hired a vessel to take himself and his family from
Sayda to Cyprus. He was reluctant to leave her in solitude and
wretchedness, but knowing that when once her mind was made up, nothing
could shake her resolution, he employed the time that remained to him
in writing her letters, setting her house in order, and taking her
instructions for commissions in Europe. He also begged to be allowed
to lend her as much money as he could spare, and she consented to
borrow a sum of 2000 piastres (about 80), which she afterwards

On July 30, 1838, the masons arrived, and the entrance-gate was walled
up with a kind of stone screen, leaving, however, a side-opening just
large enough for an ass or cow to enter, so that this much-talked-of
act of self-immurement was more an appearance than a reality. On
August 6, the faithful doctor took an affectionate leave of the
employer, who, as Prince Pckler-Muskau bears witness, was accustomed
to treat him with icy coldness, and sailed for western climes. To the
last, he tells us, Lady Hester dwelt with apparent confidence on the
approaching advent of the Mahedi, and still regarded her mare Leila as
destined to bear him into Jerusalem, with herself upon Lulu at his
side. It is to be hoped that the poor lady was able to buoy herself up
with this belief during the last and most solitary year of her
disappointed life. About once a month, up to the date of her death,
she corresponded with Dr. Meryon, who was again settled at Nice. Her
letters were chiefly taken up with commissions, and with shrewd
comments upon the new books that were sent out to her.

'I should like to have Miss Pardoe's book on Constantinople,' she
writes in October, 1838, 'if it is come out for strangers (_i.e._
in a French translation); for I fear I should never get through with
it myself. This just puts me in mind that one of the books I should
like to have would be Graham's _Domestic Medicine_; a good Red
Book (_Peerage_, I mean); and the book about the Prince of Wales.
I have found out a person who can occasionally read French to me; so
if there was any very pleasing French book, you might send it--but no
Bonapartes or "present times"--and a little _brochure_ or two
upon baking, pastry, gardening, etc....

'_Feb._ 9, 1839.--The book you sent me (_Diary of the Times of
George IV_., by Lady Charlotte Bury) is interesting only to those
who were acquainted with the persons named: all mock taste, mock
feeling, etc., but that is the fashion. "I am this, I am that"; who
ever talked such empty stuff formerly? I was never named by a
well-bred person.... Miss Pardoe is very excellent upon many subjects;
only there is too much of what the English like--stars, winds, black
shades, soft sounds, etc....

'_May_ 6.--Some one--I suppose you--sent me the _Life of Lord
Edward Fitzgerald_. It is _I_ who could give a true and most
extraordinary history of all those transactions. The book is all
stuff. The duchess (Lord Edward's mother) was my particular friend, as
was also his aunt; I was intimate with all the family, and knew that
noted Pamela. All the books I see make me sick--only catchpenny
nonsense. A thousand thanks for the promise of my grandfather's
letters; but the book will be all spoilt by being edited by young men.
First, they are totally ignorant of the politics of my grandfather's
age; secondly, of the style of the language used at that period; and
absolutely ignorant of his secret reasons and intentions, and the
_real_ or apparent footing he was upon with many people, friends
or foes. I know all that from my grandmother, who was his secretary,
and, Coutts used to say, the cleverest _man_ of her time in
politics and business.'

This was the last letter that Dr. Meryon received from his old friend
and patroness. She slowly wasted away, and died in June 1839, no one
being aware of her approaching end except the servants about her. The
news of her death reached Beyrout in a few hours, and the English
consul, Mr. Moore, and an American missionary (Mr. Thomson, author of
_The Land and the Book_) rode over to Jon to bury her. By her
own desire she was interred in a grave in her garden, where a son of
the Prophet Loustaunau had been buried some years before. Mr. Thomson
has described how he performed the last rites at midnight by the light
of lanterns and torches, and notes the curious resemblance between
Lady Hester's funeral service and that of the man she loved, Sir John
Moore. Together with the consul, he examined the contents of
thirty-five rooms, but found nothing but old saddles, pipes, and empty
oil-jars, everything of value having been long since plundered by the
servants. The sacred mares, now grown old and almost useless, were
sold for a small sum by public auction, and only survived for a short
time their return to an active life.

In 1845 Dr. Meryon published his so-called _Memoirs of Lady Hester
Stanhope_, which are merely an account of her later years, and a
report of her table-talk at Dar Jon. In 1846 he brought out her
_Travels_, which were advertised as the supplement and completion
of the _Memoirs_. From these works, and from passing notices of
our heroine, we gain a general impression of wasted talents and a
disappointed life. That she was more unhappy in her solitude than, in
her unbending nature, she would avow, observes her faithful friend and
chronicler, the record of the last years of her existence too plainly
demonstrates. Although she derived consolation in retirement from the
retrospect of the part she had played in her prosperity, still there
were moments of poignant grief when her very soul groaned within her.
She was ambitious, and her ambition had been foiled; she loved
irresponsible command, but the time had come when those over whom she
ruled defied her; she was dictatorial and exacting, but she had lost
the influence which alone makes people tolerate control. She incurred
debts, and was doomed to feel the degradation consequent upon them.
She thought to defy her own nation, and they hurled the defiance back
upon her. She entertained visionary projects of aggrandisement, and
was met by the derision of the world. In a word, Lady Hester died as
she had lived, alone and miserable in a strange land, bankrupt in
affection and credit, because, in spite of her great gifts and innate
benevolence, her overbearing temper had alienated friends and kinsfolk
alike, and her pride could endure neither the society of equals, nor
the restraints and conventions of civilised life.




During the early and middle decades of the nineteenth century there
was no more original and picturesque figure among the minor
celebrities of Germany--one might almost say of Europe--than that of
his Highness, Hermann Ludwig Heinrich, Prince Pckler-Muskau.
Throughout his long career we find this princeling playing many
parts--at once an imitation Werter, a sentimental Don Juan, a dandy
who out-dressed D'Orsay, a sportsman and traveller of Mnchhausen
type, a fashionable author who wrote German with a French accent and a
warrior who seems to have wandered out of the pages of medival
romance. Yet with all his mock-heroic notoriety, the _toller
Pckler_ was by no means destitute of those practical qualities
which tempered the Teutonic Romanticism, even in its earliest and most
extravagant developments. He was skilled in all manly exercises, a
brave soldier, an intelligent observer, and--his most substantial
claim to remembrance--the father of landscape-gardening in Germany, a
veritable magician who transformed level wastes into wooded landscapes
and made the sandy wildernesses blossom like the rose.

To English readers the prince's name was once familiar as the author
of _Briefe eines Verstorbenen_ (Letters of a Dead Man), which
contain a lively account of his Highness' sojourn in England and
Ireland between the years 1826 and 1828. These letters, which were
translated into English under the title of _The Tour of a German
Prince_, made a sensation, favourable and otherwise, in the early
'thirties,' owing to the candid fashion in which they dealt with our
customs and our countrymen. The book received the high honour of a
complimentary review from the pen of the aged Goethe. 'The writer
appears to be a perfect and experienced man of the world,' observes
this distinguished critic; 'endowed with talents and a quick
apprehension; formed by a varied social existence, by travel and
extensive connections. His journey was undertaken very recently, and
brings us the latest intelligence from the countries which he has
viewed with an acute, clear, and comprehensive eye. We see before us a
finely-constituted being, born to great external advantages and
felicities, but in whom a lively spirit of enterprise is not united to
constancy and perseverance; whence he experiences frequent failure and
disappointment.... The peculiarities of English manners and habits are
drawn vividly and distinctly, and without exaggeration. We acquire a
lively idea of that wonderful combination, that luxuriant growth--of
that insular life which is based in boundless wealth and civil
freedom, in universal monotony and manifold diversity; formal and
capricious, active and torpid, energetic and dull, comfortable and
tedious, the envy and derision of the world. Like other unprejudiced
travellers of modern times, our author is not very much enchanted with
the English form of existence: his cordial and sincere admiration is
often accompanied by unsparing censure. He is by no means inclined to
favour the faults and weaknesses of the English; and in this he has
the greatest and best among themselves upon his side.'

As these Letters were not written until the prince had passed his
fortieth year, it will be necessary, before considering them in
detail, to give a brief sketch of his previous career. Hermann Ludwig
was the only son of Graf von Pckler of Schloss Branitz, and of his
wife, Clementine, born a Grfin von Gallenberg, and heiress to the
vast estate of Muskau in Silesia. Both families were of immense
antiquity, the Pcklers claiming to trace their descent from Rdiger
von Bechlarn, who figures in the _Nibelungenlied_. Our hero was
born at Muskau in October 1785, and spent, according to his own
account, a wretched and neglected childhood. His father was harsh,
miserly, and suspicious; his mother, who was only fifteen when her son
was born, is described as a frivolous little flirt. The couple, after
perpetually quarrelling for ten or twelve years, were divorced, by
mutual consent, in 1797, and the Grfin shortly afterwards married one
of her numerous admirers, Graf von Seydewitz, with whom she lived as
unhappily as with her first husband. Her little son was educated at a
Moravian school, and in the holidays was left entirely to the care of
the servants. After a couple of years at the university of Leipzig, he
entered the Saxon army, and soon became notorious for his good looks,
his fine horsemanship, his extravagance, and his mischievous pranks.
Military discipline in time of peace proved too burdensome for the
young lieutenant, who, after quarrelling with his father, getting
deeply into debt, and embroiling himself with the authorities, threw
up his commission in 1804. Muskau having become much too hot to hold
him, he spent the next years in travelling about the Continent, always
in pecuniary difficulties, and seldom free from some sentimental

In 1810 Graf Pckler died, and his son stepped into a splendid
inheritance. Like Prince Hal, the young Graf seems to have taken his
new responsibilities seriously, and to have devoted himself, with only
too much enthusiasm, to the development and improvement of his
estates. In the intervals of business he amused himself with an
endless series of love-affairs, his achievements in this respect, if
his biographer may be believed, more than equalling those of Jupiter
and Don Giovanni put together. Old and young, pretty and plain, noble
and humble, native and foreign, all were fish that came to the net of
this lady-killer, who not only vowed allegiance to nearly every
petticoat that crossed his path, but--a much more remarkable
feat--kept up an impassioned correspondence with a large selection of
his charmers. After his death, a whole library of love-letters was
discovered among his papers, all breathing forth adoration, ecstasy or
despair, and addressed to the Julies, Jeannettes, or Amalies who
succeeded one another so rapidly in his facile affections. These
documents, for the most part carefully-corrected drafts of the
originals, were indorsed, 'Old love-letters, to be used again if

In 1813 the trumpet of war sounded the call to arms, and the young
Graf entered the military service of Prussia, and was appointed
aide-de-camp to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. He distinguished himself in
the Netherlands, was present at the taking of Cassel, and in the
course of the campaign played a part in a new species of duel. A
French colonel of Hussars, so the story goes, rode out of the enemy's
lines, and challenged any officer in the opposing army to single
combat. Pckler accepted the challenge, and the duel was fought on
horseback--presumably with sabres--between the ranks of the two
armies, the soldiers on either side applauding their chosen champion.
At length, after a fierce struggle, Germany triumphed, and the brave
Frenchman bit the dust. Whether the tale be true or apocryphal, it is
certain that numerous decorations were conferred upon the young
officer for his brilliant services, that he was promoted to the rank
of colonel, and appointed civil and military governor of Brges.
Pckler took part in the triumphal entry of the Allies into Paris, and
afterwards accompanied the Duke of Saxe-Weimar to London, where he
shared in all the festivities of the wonderful season of 1815, studied
the English methods of landscape-gardening, and made an unsuccessful
attempt to marry a lady of rank and fortune.

After his return to Muskau the Graf continued his work on his estate,
which, in spite of a sandy soil and other disadvantages, soon became
one of the show-places of Germany. Having discovered a spring of
mineral water, he built a pump-room, a theatre, and a gaming-saloon,
and named the establishment Hermannsbad. The invalids who frequented
the Baths must have enjoyed a lively 'cure,' for besides theatrical
performances, illuminations, fireworks and steeplechases, the Graf was
always ready to oblige with some sensational achievement. On one
occasion he leapt his horse over the parapet of a bridge into the
river, and swam triumphantly ashore; while on another he galloped up
the steps of the Casino, played and won a _coup_ at the tables
without dismounting, and then galloped down again, arriving at the
bottom with a whole neck, but considerable damage to his horse's legs.

In 1816 Pckler became acquainted with Lucie, Grfin von Pappenheim, a
daughter of Prince Hardenberg, Chancellor of Prussia. The Grfin, a
well-preserved woman of forty, having parted from her husband, was
living at Berlin with her daughter, Adelheid, afterwards Princess
Carolath, and her adopted daughter, Herminie Lanzendorf. The Graf
divided his attentions equally between the three ladies for some time,
but on inquiring of a friend which would make the greatest sensation
in Berlin, his marriage to the mother or to one of the daughters, and
being told his marriage to the mother, at once proposed to the
middle-aged Grfin, and was joyfully accepted. The reason for this
inappropriate match probably lay deeper than the desire to astonish
the people of Berlin, for Pckler, with all his surface romanticism,
had a keen eye to the main chance. His Lucie had only a moderate
dower, but the advantage of being son-in-law to the Chancellor of
Prussia could hardly be overestimated. Again, the Graf seems to have
imagined that in a marriage of convenience with a woman nine years
older than himself, he would be able to preserve the liberty of his
bachelor days, while presenting the appearance of domestic

As soon as the trifling formality of a divorce from Count Pappenheim
had been gone through, the marriage took place at Muskau, to the
accompaniment of the most splendid festivities. As may be supposed,
the early married life of the ill-assorted couple was a period of
anything but unbroken calm. Scarcely had the Graf surrendered his
liberty than he fell passionately in love with his wife's adopted
daughter, Helmine, a beautiful girl of eighteen, the child, it was
believed, of humble parents. Frederick William III. of Prussia was one
of her admirers, and had offered to marry her morganatically, and
create her Herzogin von Breslau. But Helmine gave her royal suitor no
encouragement, and he soon consoled himself with the Princess
Liegnitz. Lucie spared no pains to marry off the inconvenient beauty,
but Pckler frustrated all her efforts, implored her not to separate
him from Helmine, and suggested an arrangement based upon the domestic
policy of Goethe's _Wahlverwandschaften_. But Lucie was unreasonable
enough to object to a _mnage trois_, and at length succeeded
in marrying Helmine to a Lieutenant von Blucher.

In 1822 the Graf accompanied his father-in-law to the Congress of
Aix-la-Chapelle, and shortly afterwards was raised to princely rank,
in compensation for the losses he had sustained through the annexation
of Silesia by Prussia. By this time the prince's financial affairs
were in so desperate a condition, thanks to the follies of his youth
and the building mania of his manhood, that a desperate remedy was
required to put them straight again. Only one expedient presented
itself, and this Lucie, with a woman's self-sacrifice, was the first
to propose. During a short absence from Muskau she wrote to her
husband to offer him his freedom, in order that he might be enabled to
marry a rich heiress, whose fortune could be used to clear off the
liabilities that pressed so heavily on the estate. The prince at first
refused to take advantage of this generous offer. He had become
accustomed to his elderly wife, who acted as his colleague and helper
in all that concerned his idolised Muskau, and upon whose sympathy and
advice he had learned to depend. But as time went on he grew
accustomed to the idea of an amicable divorce, and at length persuaded
himself that such a proceeding need make no real difference to Lucie's
position; in fact, that it would be an advantage to her as well as to
himself. For years past he had regarded her rather in the light of a
maternal friend than of a wife, and the close _camaraderie_ that
existed between them would remain unbroken by the advent of a young
bride whom Lucie would love as her own child. A divorce, it must be
remembered, was a common incident of everyday life in the Germany of
that epoch. As we have seen, Pckler's father and mother had dissolved
their marriage, and Lucie had been divorced from her first husband,
while her father had been married three times, and had separated from
each of his wives.

The matter remained in abeyance for a year or two, and it was not
until 1826, when the prince probably felt that he had no time to lose,
that the long-talked-of divorce actually took place. This curious
couple, who appeared to be more tenderly attached to each other now
than they had ever been before, took a touching farewell in Berlin.
The princess then returned to Muskau, where she remained during her
ex-husband's absence as his agent and representative, while the prince
set out for England, which country was supposed to offer the best
hunting-ground for heiresses. Week by week during his tour, Pckler
addressed to his faithful Lucie long, confidential letters, filled
with observations of the manners and customs of the British
barbarians, together with minute descriptions of his adventures in
love and landscape-gardening.

The prince, though at this time in his forty-first year, was still, to
all appearance, in the prime of life, still an adept in feats of skill
and strength, and not less romantic and susceptible than in the days
of his youth. With his high rank, his vast though encumbered estates,
his picturesque appearance, and his wide experience in affairs of the
heart, he anticipated little difficulty in carrying off one of the
most eligible of British heiresses; but he quite forgot to include the
hard-hearted, level-headed British parent in his reckoning. The
prince's first letter to Lucie, who figures in the published version
as Julie, is dated Dresden, September 7, 1826, and begins in right
Werterian strain:--

'My dear friend--The love you showed me at our parting made me so
happy and so miserable that I cannot yet recover from it. Your sad
image is ever before me; I still read deep sorrow in your looks and in
your tears, and my own heart tells me too well what yours suffered.
May God grant us a meeting as joyful as our parting was sorrowful! I
can only repeat what I have so often told you, that if I felt myself
without you, my dearest friend, in the world, I could enjoy none of
its pleasures without an alloy of sadness; that if you love me, you
will above all things watch over your health, and amuse yourself as
much as you can by varied occupation.' There are protestations of this
kind in nearly every letter, for the prince's pen was always tipped
with fine sentiment and vows of eternal devotion came more easily to
him than the ordinary civilities of everyday life to the average man.

A visit to Goethe at Weimar, on the traveller's leisurely journey
towards England, furnished his notebook with some interesting
specimens of the old poet's conversation. 'He received me,' writes the
prince, 'in a dimly-lighted room, whose _clair obscure_ was
arranged with some _coquetterie_; and truly the aspect of the
beautiful old man, with his Jovelike countenance, was most stately....
In the course of conversation we came to Walter Scott. Goethe was not
very enthusiastic about the Great Unknown. He said he doubted not that
he wrote his novels in the same sort of partnership as existed between
the old painters and their pupils; that he furnished the plot, the
leading thoughts, the skeleton of the scenes, that he then let his
pupils fill them up, and retouched them at the last. It seemed almost
to be his opinion that it was not worth the while of a man of Scott's
eminence to give himself up to such a number of minute and tedious
details. "Had I," he said, "been able to lend myself to the idea of
mere gain, I could formerly have sent such things anonymously into the
world, with the aid of Lenz and others--nay, I could still, as would
astonish people not a little, and make them puzzle their brains to
find out the author; but after all, they would be but manufactured

'He afterwards spoke of Lord Byron with great affection, almost as a
father would of a son, which was extremely grateful to my enthusiastic
feelings for this great poet. He contradicted the silly assertion
that _Manfred_ was only an echo of his _Faust_. He extremely
regretted that he had never become personally acquainted with Lord
Byron, and severely and justly reproached the English nation for
having judged their illustrious countryman so pettily, and understood
him so ill.' The conversation next turned on politics, and Goethe
reverted to his favourite theory that if every man laboured
faithfully, honestly, and lovingly in this sphere, were it great or
small, universal well-being and happiness would not long be wanting,
whatever the form of government. The prince urged in reply that a
constitutional government was first necessary to call such a principle
into life, and adduced the example of England in support of his
argument. 'Goethe immediately replied that the choice of the example
was not happy, for that in no country was selfishness more omnipotent;
that no people were perhaps essentially less humane in their political
or their private relations; that salvation came, not from without, by
means of forms of government, but from within, by the wise moderation
and humble activity of each man in his own circle; and that this must
ever be the chief source of human felicity, while it was the easiest
and the simplest to attain.'

The prince seems always to have played the part of Jonah on board
ship, and on the occasion of his journey to England, he had a terrible
passage of forty hours, from Rotterdam to the London Docks. As soon as
he could get his carriage, horses, and luggage clear of the customs,
he hastened to the Clarendon Hotel, where he had stayed during his
first visit to London. Unlike the American, N. P. Willis, he had come
armed with many prejudices against England and the English, few of
which he succeeded in losing during the two years of his sojourn among
us. In his first letter from London, dated October 5, 1826, he writes:
'London is now so utterly dead to elegance and fashion that one hardly
meets a single equipage, and nothing remains of the _beau monde_
but a few ambassadors. The huge city is at the same time full of fog
and dirt, and the macadamised streets are like well-worn roads. The
old pavement has been torn up, and replaced by small pieces of
granite, the interstices between which are filled up with gravel; this
renders the riding more easy, and diminishes the noise, but on the
other hand changes the town into a sort of quagmire.' The prince
comments favourably on the improvements that had recently been carried
out by Nash the architect, more especially as regards Regent Street
and Portland Place, and declares that the laying out of the Regent's
Park is 'faultless,' particularly in the disposition of the water.

The comfort and luxury of English hotels, as well as of private
houses, is a subject on which the traveller frequently enlarges, and
in this first letter he assures his Lucie that she would be delighted
with the extreme cleanliness of the interiors, the great convenience
of the furniture, and the good manners of the serving-people, though
he admits that, for all that pertains to luxury, the tourist pays
about six times as much as in Germany. 'The comfort of the inns,' he
continues, 'is unknown on the Continent; on your washing-table you
find, not one miserable water-bottle with a single earthenware jug and
basin, and a long strip of towel, but positive tubs of porcelain in
which you may plunge half your body; taps which instantly supply you
with streams of water at pleasure; half-a-dozen wide towels, a large
standing mirror, foot-baths and other conveniences of the toilet, all
of equal elegance.'

The prince took advantage of the dead season to explore the city and
other unfashionable quarters of the town. He was delighted with the
excellent side-pavements, the splendid shops, the brilliant gas-lamps,
and above all (like Miss Edgeworth's Rosamund) with 'the great glass
globes in the chemists' windows, filled with liquid of a deep red,
blue or green, the light of which is visible for miles(!)' Visits to
the Exchange, the Bank, and the Guildhall were followed by a call on
Rothschild, 'the Grand Ally of the Grand Alliance,' at his house of
business. 'On my presenting my card,' says our hero, 'he remarked
ironically that we were lucky people who could afford to travel about,
and take our pleasure, while he, poor man, had such a heavy burden to
bear. He then broke out into bitter complaints that every poor devil
who came to England had something to ask of him.... After this the
conversation took a political turn, and we of course agreed that
Europe could not subsist without him; he modestly declined our
compliments, and said, smiling, 'Oh no, you are only jesting; I am but
a servant, with whom people are pleased because he manages their
affairs well, and to whom they allow some crumbs to fall as an

On October 19 the prince went to Newmarket for the races. During his
stay he was introduced to a rich merchant of the neighbourhood, who
invited him to spend a couple of days at his country-house. He gives
Lucie a minute account of the manners and customs of an English
_mnage_, but these are only interesting to the modern reader in
so far as they have become obsolete. For example: 'When you enter the
dining-room, you find the whole of the first course on the table, as
in France. After the soup is removed, and the covers are taken off,
every man helps the dish before him, and offers some to his neighbour;
if he wishes for anything else, he must ask across the table, or send
a servant for it, a very troublesome custom.... It is not usual to
take wine without drinking to another person. If the company is small,
and a man has drunk with everybody, but happens to wish for more wine,
he must wait for the dessert, if he does not find in himself courage
to brave custom.'

On his return to town the prince, who had been elected a member of the
Travellers' Club, gives a long dissertation on English club life, not
forgetting to dwell on the luxury of all the arrangements, the
excellent service, and the methodical fashion in which the
gaming-tables were conducted. 'In no other country,' he declares, 'are
what are here emphatically called "business habits" carried so
extensively into social and domestic life; the value of time, of
order, of despatch, of routine, are nowhere so well understood. This
is the great key to the most striking, national characteristics. The
quantity of material objects produced and accomplished--_the work
done_--in England exceeds all that man ever effected. The causes
that have produced these results have as certainly given birth to the
dulness, the contracted views, the inveterate prejudices, the
unbounded desire for, and deference to wealth which characterise the
great mass of Englishmen.'

During this first winter in London the prince was a regular attendant
at the theatres, and many were the dramatic criticisms that he sent to
his 'friend' at Muskau. He saw Liston in the hundred and second
representation of Paul Pry, and at Drury Lane found, to his amazement
that Braham, whom he remembered as an elderly man in 1814, was still
first favourite. 'He is the genuine representative of the English
style of singing,' writes our critic, 'and in popular songs is the
adored idol of the public. One cannot deny him great power of voice
and rapidity of execution, but a more abominable style it is difficult
to conceive.... The most striking feature to a foreigner in English
theatres is the natural coarseness and brutality of the audiences. The
consequence is that the higher and more civilised classes go only to
the Italian Opera, and very rarely visit their national theatre.
English freedom has degenerated into the rudest licence, and it is not
uncommon in the midst of the most affecting part of a tragedy, or the
most charming cadenza of a singer, to hear some coarse expression
shouted from the gallery in a stentor voice. This is followed, either
by loud laughter and applause, or by the castigation and expulsion of
the offender.'

The poor prince saw Mozart's _Figaro_ announced for performance
at Drury Lane, and looked forward to hearing once more the sweet
harmonies of his Vaterland. 'What, then, was my astonishment,' he
exclaims, in justifiable indignation, 'at the unheard-of treatment
which the masterpiece of the immortal composer has received at English
hands! You will hardly believe me when I tell you that neither the
count, the countess, nor Figaro sang; these parts were given to mere
actors, and their principal airs were sung by other singers. To add to
this the gardener roared out some interpolated English popular songs,
which suited Mozart's music just as a pitch-plaster would suit the
face of the Venus de' Medici. The whole opera was, moreover, arranged
by a certain Mr. Bishop; that is, adapted to English ears by means of
the most tasteless and shocking alterations. The English national
music, the coarse, heavy melodies of which can never be mistaken for
an instant, has to me, at least, something singularly offensive, an
expression of brutal feeling both in pain and pleasure that smacks of
"roast-beef, plum-pudding, and porter."'

Another entertainment attended by our hero about this time was the
opening of Parliament by George IV., who had not performed this
ceremony for several years. 'The king,' we are told, 'looked pale and
bloated, and was obliged to sit on the throne for a considerable time
before he could get breath enough to read his speech. During this time
he turned friendly glances and condescending bows towards some
favoured ladies. On his right stood Lord Liverpool, with the sword of
state and the speech in his hand, and the Duke of Wellington on his
left. All three looked so miserable, so ashy-grey and worn out, that
never did human greatness appear to me so little worth.... In spite of
his feebleness, George IV. read his _banale_ speech with great
dignity and a fine voice, but with that royal nonchalance which does
not concern itself with what his Majesty promises, or whether he is
sometimes unable to decipher a word. It was very evident that the
monarch was heartily glad when the _corve_ was over.'

In one of his early letters the traveller gives his friend the
following account of the manner in which he passes his day: 'I rise
late, read three or four newspapers at breakfast, look in my
visiting-book to see what visits I have to pay, and either drive to
pay them in my cabriolet, or ride. In the course of these excursions,
I sometimes catch the enjoyment of the picturesque; the struggle of
the blood-red sun with the winter fogs often produces wild and
singular effects of light. After my visits I ride for several hours
about the beautiful environs of London, return when it grows dark,
dress for dinner, which is at seven or eight, and spend the evening
either at the theatre or some small party. The ludicrous routs--at
which one hardly finds standing-room on the staircase--have not yet
commenced. In England, however, except in a few diplomatic houses, you
can go nowhere in the evening without a special invitation.'

The prince seems to have been bored at most of the parties he
attended; partly, perhaps, out of pique at finding himself, so long
accustomed to be the principal personage in his little kingdom of
Muskau, eclipsed in influence and wealth by many a British commoner.
Few persons that he met in the London of that day amused him more than
the great Rothschild, with whom he dined more than once at the
banker's suburban villa. Of one of these entertainments he writes:
'Mr. Rothschild was in high good-humour, amusing and talkative. It was
diverting to hear him explain to us the pictures round his room (all
portraits of the sovereigns of Europe, presented through their
ambassadors), and talk of the originals as his very good friends, and
in a certain sense his equals. "Yes," said he, "the Prince of -----
once pressed me for a loan, and in the same week on which I received
his autograph letter, his father wrote to me also from Rome, to beg
me, for Heaven's sake, not to have any concern in it, for that I could
not have to do with a more dishonest man than his son...." He
concluded by modestly calling himself the dutiful and generously paid
agent and servant of these high potentates, all of whom he honoured
equally, let the state of politics be what it might; for, said he,
laughing, "I never like to quarrel with my bread and butter." It shows
great prudence in Mr. Rothschild to have accepted neither title nor
order, and thus to have preserved a far more respectable independence.
He doubtless owes much to the good advice of his extremely amiable and
judicious wife, who excels him in tact and knowledge of the world,
though not, perhaps, in acuteness and talents for business.'

Although the prince had not as yet entered the ranks of authors, he
was always interested in meeting literary people, such as Mr. Hope,
author of _Anastasius_, Mr. Morier of _Hadji Baba_ fame, and
Lady Charlotte Bury, who had exchanged the celebrity of a beauty for
that of a fashionable novelist. 'I called on Lady Charlotte,' he says,
'the morning after meeting her, and found everything in her house
brown, in every possible shade; furniture, curtains, carpets, her own
and her children's dresses, presented no other colour. The room was
without looking-glasses or pictures, and its only ornaments were casts
from the antique.... After I had been there some time, the celebrated
publisher, Constable, entered. This man has made a fortune by Walter
Scott's novels, though, as I was told, he refused his first and best,
_Waverley_, and at last gave but a small sum for it. I hope the
charming Lady Charlotte had better cause to be satisfied with him.'
Towards the end of December, his Highness's head-gardener, Rehde, a
very important functionary at Muskau, arrived in London to be
initiated into the mysteries of English landscape-gardening. Together
the two enthusiasts, master and man, made a tour of some of the
principal show-places of England, including Stanmore Priory, Woburn

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