Page images
PDF
EPUB

which I returned, there were several gentlemen waiting, to more than one of whom I heard the unpalatable information given • The King, sir, cannot see you to-day.' While waiting for Woolmore, one of the pages came and offered to conduct me round the Pavilion-a singular mixture of grandeur and simplicity. One room, spacious and lofty, contained gorgeous furniture, and splendid paintings; but the paintings represented nothing, I should apprehend, ever seen in this planet. Birds, beasts, and fishes glittered in gold, but were very unlike the beasts of the field or the fowls of the air, such as we are accustomed to see them. Passing from this room—the music-room-which realises the description of the Arabian Nights, we entered a room of a character altogether different-low in the ceiling, neat, but simple, the furniture simple, and having a pretty cheerful appearance, though very different from that of its more gorgeous neighbour. From this we passed into a small music-room, similar to the first in shape, but equally simple in its character with the last ; and thence into the drawing-room, commonly used when there is no party; and finally into the dining-room, another magnificent but fantastical room. Preparations were making in the different rooms for the ordinary occupations of the day. In one a portrait of the King, now executing by Sir William Beechy, was brought out. were entering one of the rooms, one of the pages whispered to my conductor that the Queen had just entered it, whereupon we did not enter. Old Woolmore meanwhile rejoined me, pleased with our interview, and gratified at the Kiny having invited me to dinner. He dines on such occasions at the Palace as a matter of course, from his long previous intimacy with the King; but I fancy it is rather an unusual honour to confer on a subaltern. Well, we amused ourselves for the rest of the day walking about the town, calling on some people whom we knew, or rather whom Captain Woolmore knew; and, partly from what I was told, and partly from what I overheard, it was obvious what a matter of mighty moment it was to be received, and well received, at the Payilion. A. had been invited when B. thought he ought to have been invited. Though the Duchess C. had left her name,

As we

no notice had been taken of her call; and so on. The world is the same everywhere, varying only in the scale. Most of these people are of large fortune, and of a station in society to secure them every comfort and happiness; but they are fashion's slaves, and miserable. So passed the day. The Earl of Errol had offered to send his carriage for us, which Captain Woolmore accepted ; and having entreated me to be ready in timethough, to tell the truth, there was no great necessity for the caution, seeing I had no wish to have to walk into a room where King, Queen, and Countesses were at dinner, without knowing very well where to go to. However, I can go no further to-night-past twelve-candles smouldering in their sockets, and breakfast to-morrow morning at half-past eight -Good night. Now, to return to the dinner party. My old friend went to his room to dress at half-past five o'clock, and at six o'clock his servant came to me to know if I was ready. He could not overcome his anxiety lest I should not be prepared at the moment, supposing, perhaps, that as one may always take a quarter of an hour at ordinary dinner parties, I might inadvertently, and from habit, do the same on this occasion. However, I relieved all his apprehensions by entering his room, fully equipped or harnessed, at half-past six o'clock. The hour for the carriage, a quarter to seven-no carriage. Ten minutes to seven-no carriage. What shall we do? Wait three minutes more, and then walk, was my proposal. Enter the waiter-Lord Errol's carriage is at the door, sir.' Doors fly open-waiters clear the way; enter the carriage, and next moment we are at the Pavilion, a splendid hall, and two rows of servants in the royal livery. We are conducted by a page to a long gallery or room. I have drawn a plan, to make the description more intelligible. In the long room was a single lady. Old Woolmore made his bow, and introduced me to the Countess of Mayo. She is the lady waiting on the Queen. Speedily ladies and gentlemen began to enter the room, almost all of them resident in the palace, for it so happened that there were not above four or five strangers at dinner that day. It might be reckoned almost a family party in point of numbers, though the number amounted

to thirty. Presently the Queen enters (by the door marked in plan), leaning on the arm of her maid of honour, a very pretty girl by the bye. Ladies and gentlemen form into two rows on each side, to allow Her Majesty to pass to the drawing-room. Then the King enters, bows to such of the gentlemen as happen to be near his side, and walks on to the drawing-room. Then the gentlemen enter the drawing-room, or walk about the gallery till dinner is announced. Whether the King conducts the Queen or not I cannot tell you, being too distant to notice that part of the ceremony. Be that, however, as it may, the King takes his seat at the middle of the table, ladies of the highest rank on his right and left. On this day the Landgravine of Hesse Homburg, Princess Elizabeth, and Lady Maryborough, were, I believe, the ladies. The Queen on the opposite side, Prince Leopold on her right, Lord Mayo on her left. At the two ends were two officers of the household, Sir Andrew Barnard and Sir Philip Watson. Where to go—where to place oneself, was the difficulty. There were more gentlemen than ladies, therefore it did not fall to my lot to conduct any of them into the dining-room. Old Woolmore had the last. However, my embarrassment was very soon over, and I found myself very comfortably seated between two ladies-very pretty women; but who might they be-Mrs or Misses, Countesses or Duchesses ? From this difficulty I was speedily relieved, by a gentleman on the left of one of these ladies introducing me to both of them. One of them, Miss Mitchell, a beauty, and maid of honour to the Queen; the other, Lady Errol, one of the Fitzclarences (daughter of the King and the late celebrated Mrs Jordan). To the gentleman I had been introduced before dinner by Woolmore, but I had not heard his name. I found out afterwards, however, that it was Sir Augustus D’Esté, the son of the Duke of Sussex and Lady Augustus Murray. I was still more indebted to him on our return to the drawing-room. D’Esté is a colonel in the army, and well acquainted with some of our principal officers ; and he kept all around him at table in good humour. He was kind, attentive, and polite to all within his reach. Lady Errol was pleasant and conversible, so that I speedily found

myself, if not absolutely at home, yet unconstrained and unembarrassed.

The King sets an example to the household in his attention to his guests. He asks them all to drink wine with him, from the highest to the lowest. Indeed, he asked me twice—the second time probably because he had forgotten the first. The dishes are brought round by servants, the dessert only being on the table, with magnificent gold candelabra and vases, &c.; the tablecloth is therefore not removed. Plates, silver ; servants, of course, in great numbers, and exceedingly attentive. The Queen and the ladies rise, and leave the room; and after no great interval, the King rises, and is followed by the gentlemen, if they please, to the drawing-room. After the departure of the ladies, Sir Augustus D'Esté and I had a long chat; and after the King had withdrawn to the drawing-room, I was obliged to remind him that, as the scene was new to me,

I was anxious to see what was going on in the drawing-room. 'I had almost forgotten,' he replied ; 'but come, and I'll introduce you to some of the ladies.' Well, we entered the drawing-room, where ladies and gentlemen were dispersed much in the way they are in any other room. The ladies—many of them at work, but the conversation was in a low tone, no voice being heard except the King's. In the music-room there was obviously less restraint. The Queen's band occupied the room, and played at intervals. At one table sat the Queen, Lady Mayo, Miss D’Esté, Marchioness Wellesley, and some other lady. They were all employed in embroidering. On the opposite side sat the King and Lady Maryborough on a sofa ; and the remainder of the ladies and gentlemen were disposed in groups, in different parts of the room ; but it seemed, on entering the music-room, as if they laid aside a mantle of ceremony, and talked and chatted with less reserve. This cannot be a happy state of things, however, though very well to look at once. Well, the music ceases ; presently the Queen rises. The ladies form in two lines at the door, and the Queen kisses the cheek of each of her own ladies of honour. They in return kiss her hand. She then disappears. The King follows, and then-the devil take the hindmost."

[graphic]

By this time Drummond and his friend Robe had established themselves in a house in Park Road, with a general servant, Margaret, a most excellent woman, and a page, to attend upon them. In the letter just quoted there is a reference to Robe's mother-Lady Robe—and to two of the Miss Robes, as visiting the friends, seeing to the putting up of their curtains, and to other domestic arrangements. The page was Margaret's antithesis. “ We are now very comfortable," says Drummond,“ saving having a young flibbertygibbet of a boy, who must be one of the devil's imps, I think, except that he speaks the truth, be it for or against him, and, indeed, it is very rarely in his favour.” In another letter, he says he has to cuff the imp occasionally on the ears—a cuff being the only argument he will listen to. The Park Road establishment was not long continued. Robe's mother died suddenly in February 1831, when it was proper that he should be more with his sisters, and the house which he shared with Drummond became no longer needful to him.

A near neighbour in Park Road was Mr Bellenden Ker, with whom Mr Drummond became acquainted. Mr Ker was a Chancery barrister, who also enjoyed a considerable literary reputation. Than one of his works, “ The Archæology of English Rhymes and Phrases," I know no book, in its way, more curious and ingenious. At his house Drummond made the acquaintance of many distinguished people, and notably of Miss Hariett Martineau and Lord Brougham.

There is an account of his first meeting with Lord Brougham, an event which was powerfully to affect his career, in a letter to his mother, dated March 26, 1831.

By the way,” he says, “I dined with the Lord Chancellor the other day, not at his own house, but at the

« PreviousContinue »