LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
Lady Blessington III

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
‣ Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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In the June of next year (1828) we again find Lady Blessington at Paris, after an absence of more than six years; and here it was her destiny to witness the events of the last days of the old Bourbon dynasty, and this in the almost daily presence of and intercourse with those personal friends and near family connexions who were the most devoted and chivalrous of its supporters,—the Duc and Duchesse de Guiche, the Duc de Grammont (father of the Duc de Guiche), the venerable Madame Crauford, the Duc de Cazes, Prince Polignac, &c.

The splendour and luxury with which Lady Blessington was at this, as at all other periods of her marriage, surrounded by the somewhat too gorgeous taste of her doting husband, may be judged of by a brief description of her own chambre à coucher and
dressing-room, in the superb hotel (formerly that of
Marshal Ney) which they occupied in the Rue de Bourbon, its principal rooms looking on the Quay d’Orsay and the Tuilleries gardens. The bed, which stood as usual in a recess, rested upon the backs of two exquisitely carved silver swans, every feather being carved in high relief. The recess was lined throughout with white fluted silk bordered with blue embossed lace, the frieze of the recess being hung with curtains of pale blue silk lined with white satin. The remainder of the furniture, namely, a richly-carved sofa, occupying one entire side of the room, an écritoire, a bèrgere, a book-stand, a Psyche-glass, and two coffres for jewels, lace, &c., were all of similar fancy and workmanship, and all silvered, to match the bed. The carpet was of rich uncut pile, of a pale blue. The hangings of the dressing-room were of blue silk, covered with lace, and richly trimmed with frills of the same; so also were the toilette-table, the chaiselongue, the dressing-stools, &c. There was a salle-de-bain, attached, draped throughout with white muslin, trimmed with lace, and con-
taining a sofa and bèrgere covered with the same. The bath of white marble was inserted in the floor, and on the ceiling was painted a Flora scattering flowers with one hand, and suspending in the other an alabaster lamp, in the shape of a lotos.

The whole of the vast hotel occupied by the Blessingtons during the first year of this their second lengthened residence in Paris, was fitted up with a luxury and at a cost no less lavish than those bestowed on the rooms I have just described. But it is proper to state here that Lady Blessington herself, though possessing exquisite taste in such matters, by no means coveted or encouraged the lavish expense which her husband bestowed upon her; and in the case of the particular rooms just described, he so managed as not to let her see them till they were completed and ready for her reception. Indeed, Lady Blessington had, in all pecuniary matters, much more of worldly prudence than her lord. The enormous cost of entirely furnishing a hotel like that in which they now resided, may be judged of by what was said to be the original cost of the ornamental
decorations of the walls alone, including mirrors,—namely, a million of francs.

With this year the more than queen-like splendours and luxuries of Lady Blessington’s life ceased. In 1829 her husband died, leaving her a jointure of 2500l. a-year, and a large amount of personal property in the shape of furniture, plate, pictures, objects of vertú, &c. After witnessing all the excitements of the “Three Days” of July, 1830, and partaking personally in some of the dangers connected with them, Lady Blessington, at the close of the autumn of that year, returned to England, there to reside uninterruptedly till within a few weeks of her death.

The following sketch was taken from the Ring in Hyde Park, at the period of Lady Blessington’s London life now referred to:—

Observe that green chariot just making the turn of the unbroken line of equipages. Though it is now advancing towards us with at least a dozen carriages between, it is to be distinguished from the throng by the elevation of its driver and footman above the ordi-
nary level of the line. As it comes nearer, we can observe the particular points that give it that perfectly distingué appearance which it bears above all others in the throng. They consist of the white wheels lightly picked out with green and crimson; the high-stepping action, blood-like shape, and brilliant manège of its dark bay horses; the perfect style of its driver; the height (six feet two) of its slim, spider-limbed, powdered footman, perked up at least three feet above the roof of the carriage, and occupying his eminence with that peculiar air of accidental superiority, half petit-maître, half plough-boy, which we take to be the ideal of footman-perfection; and, finally, the exceedingly light, airy, and (if we may so speak) intellectual character of the whole set-out. The arms and supporters blazoned on the centre panels, and the small coronet beneath the window, indicate the nobility of station; and if ever the nobility of nature was blazoned on the ‘complement extern’ of humanity, it is on the lovely face within—lovely as ever, though it has been loveliest among the lovely for a longer time than we shall dare call to our own recollection,
much less to that of the fair being before us. If the
Countess of Blessington (for it is she whom we are asking the reader to admire—howbeit at second-hand, and through the doubly refracting medium of plate-glass and a blonde veil) is not now so radiant with the bloom of mere youth, as when she first put to shame Sir Thomas Lawrence’s chef-d’œuvre in the form of her own portrait, what she has lost in the graces of mere complexion she has more than gained in those of intellectual expression. Nor can the observer have a better opportunity than the present of admiring that expression; unless, indeed, he is fortunate enough to be admitted to that intellectual converse in which its owner shines beyond any other female of the day, and with an earnestness, a simplicity, and an abandon, as rare in such cases as they are delightful.

The lady, her companion, is the Countess de St. Marsault, her sister, whose finely-cut features and perfectly oval face bear a striking general resemblance to those of Lady B., without being at all like them.

It is perhaps worth while to remark here,
in passing, that
Lady Blessington’s peculiar taste in dress and in equipage was not only in advance of her time, but essentially correct: in proof of which it may be stated, that though their early results stood alone for years after they were first introduced, they at last became the universal fashions of the day. Lady Blessington was the first to introduce the beautifully simple fashion of wearing the hair in bands, but was not imitated in it till she had persevered for at least seven years; and it was the same with the white wheels, and peculiar style of picking out of her equipages; both features being universally adopted some ten or a dozen years after Lady Blessington had introduced and persevered in them.