E. F. (Elizabeth Fries) Ellet.

The queens of American society online

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are especially welcomed, and find material for the grati-
fication of their taste in the works of art collected with
BO much care in Europe, which occupy one floor of the
dwelling. The library of Mr. Gilpin is, perhaps, the
largest private collection in America. It includes the
best selection of books in the English and foreign lan-
guages, the classical portion being particularly rich.
This library was left by Mr. Gilpin for the use of his
wife during her life, and bequeathed to the Historical
Society of Pennsylvania at her death ; the works of art
were left to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
in Philadelphia, to which collection Mrs. Gilpin has
desired that the portraits of Mr. Gilpin and herself shall
be added.


Mr. Gilpin died in 1860. His accomplished widow
prepared and printed for circulation among her friends
a memorial volume of his useful life and public services,
including various tributes to his memory from eminent
statesmen and scholars at home and abroad, with letters
of condolence and friendship to herself. The monument
which Mrs. Gilpin has erected to the memory of her
husband is a noble work of art.

Her sympathy in the misfortunes of others induced
Mrs. Gilpin to take a prominent part in the great Sani-
tary Fair of Philadelphia. She was appointed chairman
of the Ladies' Art Committee, by which department alone
was realized thirty-five thousand dollars.

Mrs. Gilpin, in resuming the hospitalities of her
house, has been liberal in her welcome to the lovers of
art and literature. Accustomed herself to these high
and pure enjoyments, she has sought to give the same
pleasure to others. Music by the best amateur perform-
ers is always a marked feature of her entertainments (as
dancing is never introduced). Her receptions have a
more elevated character than those of mere fashion.
Her private charities are active and incessant, and she
gives her personal attention to many whose sufferings
require the solace and friendship of sympathy.



Jonathan Southwick, a successful merchant of New
York, who accumulated a large fortune in business,
though he died at the age of thirty-five. The ancestors
of the family the Worthingtons and Elys were promi-
nent at an early period of Colonial history. A curious
relic preserved is a heavy gold seal-ring, antique in
pattern, and engraved with three fleurs-de-lis ; said to
have been presented by Charles IX. to one of the ances-
tors of the Ely family, with instructions that it should
always be worn by one of the descendants of the name
of Eobert. It is still so held. Kichard Ely came first
to America about 1660, and settled at Lyme in Connec-
ticut. John Ely was a colonel in the Revolutionary
army and a surgeon of great celebrity. His military
career was detailed in the statement of the Committee
on Revolutionary Claims to the House of Representa-
tives, in 1853. In 1777, he was commandant of Fort
Trumbull, his regiment having been raised by his own
exertions and at his own expense entirely fitted out. His
wife was Sarah Worthington, a great beauty, and the
daughter of Rev. William Worthington, brother to
another colonel of the American army. Mary, her


sister, also a distinguished beauty, married the father of
John Cotton Smith, Governor of Connecticut, the ances-
tor of the eloquent Hector of Ascension Church in ~New
York. Samuel Goodrich (" Peter Parley ") was a grand-
son of Sarah Worthington. These sisters were descended
from Hugh Worthington, who held the Lordship of
Worthington under Edward IY., in 1474. Some of the
family afterwards intermarried with the descendants of
Awley OTarrell, remembered as the last king of Com-
merene, in 1207. The eldest son of John and Sarah
Worthington was Worthington Ely, the grandfather of
the subject of this sketch. He was also a surgeon and a
colonel in the Revolutionary army, having graduated at
Yale College in 1780. It is said that at the age of
twenty he captured two British officers, and retained
them as hostages till he obtained the release of his father,
then in the enemy's hands. At the end of the war,
finding his resources crippled, he resumed the medical
practice, and settled on the Hudson, near Albany. His
wife was Miss Bushnell, of Connecticut. Their young-
est daughter, Lucretia, was the mother of Mrs. Waddell.
At a very early age, Miss Southwick was sent to
Mrs. Willard's school at Troy, where she went through a
thorough course of education. Soon after leaving school
she was married to Mr. McMurray, who lived but a few
months, leaving her a widow at the age of eighteen. She
afterwards married Mr. William Coventry Waddell.
He is connected with noble English families, being
directly descended from Lord Daubeney, of the time of


Henry VII., 1485,* and from the earls of Coventry. He
has kept up an interesting correspondence with the
representatives of these families in England. Possessing
high literary attainments, Mr. Waddell had held many
important trusts under government, and was at that
time in an official position, and possessed of wealth.
Their residence was fixed in New York. Mr. Waddell
built a splendid mansion at the corner of Fifth Avenue
and Thirty-seventh street. "Murray Hill," with its
grounds, occupied an entire block. It was a Gothic villa,
with tower, and large conservatory ; the grounds were
laid out in walks and divided by hedges, and vines were
trained along the walls. From the broad marble hall a
winding staircase ascended to the tower, whence a view
of the city, the river, and distant hills could be obtained.
The picture-gallery, well stored with valuable paintings,
always attracted the attention of visitors. In the wintei
of 1845, several lots had been put into a wheat-field by
the gardener, so remote was the place from the city.
For twelve years Mr. and Mrs. Waddell lived in this
delightful villa, while the city gradually approached
nearer to their home. The winters were passed here,
while the summers were spent at Saratoga, where the
remarkable beauty of Mrs. Waddell, her graceful man-
ners, her good-humor and winning kindness of heart,
and the intellectual charms of her brilliant conversation,

* See Burke's Dormant Peerage. That Lord Daubeney was in tho
direct line from William de Alhini(1168), eldest grandson of the standard-
bearer of William the Conqueror.


gave her indisputable supremacy in social circles. It
was in her power to give happiness to those around her
by her ample means for promoting enjoyment, and she
took pleasure in doing so. Her parties in the winter, at
u Murray Hill," were the admiration of the New York
fashionables ; and one might be always sure of meeting
there any really worthy celebrity. When the frigate
"Prince of Orange" came to the United States, Mrs.
Waddell gave the Dutch officers a ball ; and the decora-
tions of her rooms and conservatory were magnificent.
The lights in the tower, seen through stained windows,
had a very fine effect. Sir William Boyd, in his work
on America, wrote :

" One esteemed friend I can neither omit nor fail to praise ;
charming in person, elegant and amiable in manner, considerate
and kind in disposition, she honors the Fifth Avenue by her resi-
dence. So perfectly did her style of beauty resemble that of a
lovely English woman, that, in the well-bred though liberal hospi-
tality of her house, an Englishman could forget that three thousand
miles separated him from his own dear country."

At Saratoga, in August, 1849, she was thus described
in papers of the day :

"Mrs. Waddell, of New York, was generally admired. A com-
plexion pure and brilliant as the roses and lilies of childhood, large
blue eyes, sparkling with vivacity, and lips always rosy with smiles,
well became the superb dress of ' a bride.' A veil of exquisite lace
fell from a tiara of pearls that confined her bright brown ringlets;
a string of large pearls on the neck, a cross of brilliants on the
bosom, diamonds twinkling on her arms and amid the folds of a
superb lace dress, completed a costume distinguished for its costli-
ness, its cloud-like purity, and that exquisite adaptation to the per-
son which so few understand."


One morning, at Saratoga, she came late to the
breakfast-table, where Washington Irving and J. F
Kennedy were seated. "Here comes Aurora!" said
Mr. Irving, gayly. Mrs. Waddell asked him if he
spelled it with an " A," or an "E." He laughed hearti-
ly ; and said her question was the best joke he had heard
iu a long time.

A visitor wrote :

" On Thursday, the ball of the season took place at Mrs. Wad-
dell's Gothic villa on Murray Hill, Fifth Avenue. The beauty of
the house, its corridors and halls, its towers and oriels, gave an
attraction with which other establishments cannot vie ; while the
affability of the fair hostess, and the occasion the debut in society
of a daughter of Mr. Waddell added to the interest. We noted
a greater array of city fashionables than we have seen gathered
together this season ; and, as is usual at this lady's parties, every
one appeared to enjoy it. The beautiful conservatory was thrown
open, and the flowers, the bay-windows, the winding stair-way
through the towers, the oriels, the corbels, the tapestries, the music,
the ball, the supper, the fair hostess, and the concourse of gallant
knights, could not well be surpassed. There were about five hun-
dred present. Mr. Brown the guard's arrangements were excellent,
especially the fine large tent he erected to keep off the night air
between the carriage- drive and the hall-door."

At a masquerade ball, given in College Place, by
Mrs. John C. Stevens

"Mrs. Waddell wore, in the early part of the evening, a black
mask p.nd domino; afterwards, white satin trimmed with rich black
lace, with corsage of diamonds, and flowers in her hair. This lady,
from her agreeable and affable manners, commanded much atten-
tion, and received the flattering encomiums of a large circle of ad-
mirers. Mrs. Waddell, at her villa, 'took up' the ~bal poudre of
Mrs. Stevens, when that lady was compelled to relinquish it at. her
residence, in consequence of a death in her family. At Mrs. Scher-


merhorn's ~bal costume de rigueur of the reign of Louis XV., a jour-
nal reported Mrs. Waddell's dress as Marie Antoinette, 'crimson
moire antique, jupe flowered with point-lace. The Louis Quinze
brocade trimmed with point-lace ; the corsage ornamented wit!
diamonds, and rose de Chine ribbon, fluted ; powdered head,
wreathed with diamonds.' "

Tributes of a higher kind were not wanting to this
accomplished lady, as the following letter will show. It
was elicited by Mrs. Waddell' sending a basket of fruit
from her conservatories to the distinguished author :



"Had it pleased the gods to make me poetical, what a choice
copy of verses your most dainty present would have inspired ! I
should have wrought out some capital similitudes to yourself in
the choice fruits of which it consisted. I should have made some-
thing of the peach with its damask cheek and nectared sweetness ;
of the grape, with its potent power to lead the senses captive, and
'make glad the heart of man.' But having no gift of weaving
immortal verse, I can only make my acknowledgments of your
kindness in humbler prose, which is the more sincere for not being
labored into rhyme or turned into couplets.
" Believe me, very truly,

"Your obliged and admiring friend,


Here is a fragment from one of many tributary
poems :

" Let Dryden sing divine Cecilia's days,

And Alexander's Feast in verse be sounded;
Be mine a greater glory still to praise

The queen whose conquests yet no world hath bounded.
He wept for worlds to conquer ; thou beguilest

Realms which he never knew, thy sway to greet;
He wept for other conquests ; thou but smilest,

And all the world lies vanquished at thy feet."


The following is another specimen :

"CLAEENDON, Friday, January 28th.


"My friend, Mr. , who has just returned from London

(where he was your Secretary of Legation, and danced in a most
distinguished manner at our court and other balls), ought surely to
see a beautiful ball at New York, and I shall be very thankful if
you will favor me with a card for him. I am so glad that I shall
be in New York on the night of your party, and that you kindly
remembered that I wanted to see it.

" Believe me very faithfully yours,


Mr. Thackeray first saw Mrs. Waddell at a party,
and as she came into the room exclaimed, " Who is that
lady !" expressing astonishment at her beauty. After
his introduction, while looking at some paintings, he
remarked to Mrs. Waddell : " You should have sat to
Sir Peter." She replied that she did not admire Sir
Peter Lely's pictures. Thackeray pretended, laughingly,
that he had meant Rubens. A few days afterwards,
while walking with Mrs. Waddell through her gallery,
he remarked : " I still think, Mrs, Waddell, you should
have sat to Sir Peter. None of these do you justice."
Thackeray, during his stay in the United States, became
a frequent visitor and a warm friend of Mrs. Waddell.

Her playful wit was sometimes exercised in reprov-
ing ill-breeding, but in a kindly way. A bigoted Eng-
lish nobleman, well known in fashionable circles (as
something of a bore), who detested every thing Ameri-
can, and ridiculed the celebration of the Fourth of July,


was kept firing off rockets on that anniversary till he
was tired out, by his fair hostess.

In the monetary crisis of 1857, Mr. "Waddell lost a
splendid fortune. His reverses compelled him to sacri-
fice his home on Murray Hill ; the house, grounds, and
furniture were sold, and the march of "improvement"
has now effaced every trace of the once beautiful villa ;
covering the site with stately brown stone houses. Mrs.
Waddell submitted cheerfully to this change, and smiled
as she read the notes of sympathy and regret sent by her
neighbors. In Charles O'Conor's words: "In bending
so gracefully and cheerfully to adverse circumstances,
she won more laurels than were gained in prosperity."
When, after removing from the house, she took posses-
sion of her rooms at the St. Denis Hotel, she found them
filled with bouquets and baskets of flowers; welcome
offerings, as delicate expressions of kindly feeling from
those who had known her in the sunshine of affluence.
After a few months, she retired to a country home upon
the Hudson, two miles north of Newburgh. A tourist
thus describes it :

"A large stone mansion, wreathed with ivy, stands on an ele-
vation overlooking the majestic landscape. It is the residence of
Mr. and Mrs. Waddell. Her exquisite taste has already beautified
the place, supplied by nature with every requisite for adornment;
and her cheerful spirit makes it a paradise indeed. Those who
visit her in her rural home will find her as charming as in her
princely suburban residence. The pearly freshness and delicate
rose-tint of her complexion, and the luxuriance of her rich brown
curls, have not been impaired by the air of the Highlands; while
the ease and grace imparted by perfect culture, mental accomplish-


ments, and familiarity with the best society, are hlended with the
most winning frankness and elastic gayety of spirits, and with a
genuine cordiality which, emanating from true kindness of heart,
cannot fail of the response of heartfelt admiration and regard."

After living a few years among the mountains, Mr.
and Mrs. Waddell returned to the city of New York ;
but her taste for flowers and fresh rural scenery could
not be satisfied without a suburban residence. A neat
ornamental one has been built, under her directions, at
" West End," on the (proposed) grand Boulevard drive
in course of being laid out by the Central Park Commis-
sioners upon the northern part of Manhattan Island, a
short distance above the unrivaled " Central Park."

Mary Wharton was born in Philadelphia, and .be-
came a celebrated belle in that city, being one of the
most beautiful women in America. She was married
when very young to James S. Wadsworth, who became
a distinguished general in the Union army, and lost his
life in the service of his country. He was the son of
James Wadsworth, and the nephew of the bachelor,
General Wadsworth, who was conspicuous in the war of
1812. Mrs. Wadsworth went with her husband to Eu-
rope for a bridal trip, and remained abroad nearly a
year. Their home was then in Geneseo, New York,
where the summers were spent ; the winters being
passed in different cities. During a few years they
retained a house in New York ; afterwards in Philadel-
phia. Mrs. Wadsworth had six children. Her daugh-
ter Cornelia married Montgomery Bitchie, a grandson


of the elder Harrison Gray Otis. She was noted as a
belle in New York, of a brilliant and stylish beauty;
with dark hair and large, full dark eyes. She lived in
Geneseo with her parents during Mr. Ritchie's life ; in
the widowhood of her mother passing most of her time
with her. After her husband's death, Mrs. Eitchie went
to England, and resides in London. Mrs. Wadsworth
lives in Philadelphia, but spends her summers at her
favorite country home. Her sister-in-law was Miss Eliza-
beth Wadsworth, who married Hon. Charles Augustus
Murray, and died in Egypt.

Miss Emilie Schaumburg is a Philadelphia celebrity
in society, who has added the fascinations of rare skill in
vocal music, and still rarer powers of dramatic expres-
sion as an amateur comedienne, to the attraction of
great beauty. Her grandfather, Colonel Bartholomew
Schaumburg, of New Orleans, was a ward of the Land-
grave of Hesse Cassel, and closely connected with him.
Educated under the auspices of Frederick the Great, at
the German Military School, he was commissioned an
officer in the Grenadier Guards, and at the time of the
American Revolution was sent to this country as adju-
tant and aid-de-camp to General Count Donop, who, in
conjunction with General Kniphausen, commanded the
German forces subsidized to England. Colonel Schaum-
burg never joined Count Donop, however ; for the trans-
port ship upon which he and other officers and soldiers


had embarked, became separated from the fleet in a
storm, off the American coast, and came up the Dela-
ware, anchoring at Newcastle, where they learned from
the people the nature of their struggle for independence,
and that General Washington was at no great distance,
on the Brandywine, daily expecting an attack from the
British forces under Cornwallis. Preferring to fight for
an oppressed people rather than for England, with whom
they had no sympathy, they determined to join him,
which they did, and were incorporated into General
Sullivan's German Legion, serving under General Wash-
ington throughout the Revolutionary War. Colonel
Schaumburg also served with great gallantry through
all the early Indian wars, under Generals Wayne and
Sinclair, and afterwards held the rank of Deputy
Quartermaster-General during the war of 1812. The
site of Cincinnati was chosen under his direction ; and,
as an accomplished artillerist, he superintended the cast
ing of the first cannon ever made in the United States.
Colonel Schaumburg had sacrificed his title and much
of his property by espousing the American cause, but
some years later he was earnestly solicited by his rela-
tives to return to Germany, which he unhesitatingly
refused to do. He married a lady who was a lineal
descendant of the principal Indian chief or king Secane,
of the Leanape tribe, who signed the treaty of 1685 with
William Penn, selling him the large tract of land in
which Philadelphia is situated. Su-sa-he-na, his daugh-
ter, had been married to Dr. Thomas Holme McFarlane,


a nephew of Thomas Holme, the first Surveyor-General
of Pennsylvania. Miss Schamnburg is the eighth re-
move, in a direct line, from this aboriginal princess, and
was born in New Orleans, although she has always re-
sided in Philadelphia. From childhood, her great
musical talent was evident, united to a voice of uncom-
mon power, purity, and sweetness. Its natural ad van
tages have been fully developed by the late Signor
Perelli, who considered her his most brilliant scholar ;
and she combines the finest dramatic appreciation with
the most remarkable compass and execution. The
"soirees" musicales at her residence gather together all
that Philadelphia society affords of most elegant and
most accomplished. The earlier portion of her educa-
tion was chiefly directed by the late Hon. II. D. Gilpin,
one of the most elegant scholars of America ; and she
has had all the advantages in cultivation which his mag-
nificent library can afford. She has added the accom-
plishment of speaking several modern languages. She
has also a graceful gift of versification, frequently,
though unpretendingly, exercised for the entertainment
of her immediate circle.

Miss Schaumburg's appearance in the first social
circles was followed by general admiration. "When the
Prince of Wales with his suite visited Philadelphia, he
spent the only evening of his stay at the Academy of
Music. He saw Miss Schaumburg in another box, and
his attention was at once attracted by her beauty. She

was dressed with simplicity, in white, with gold orna-


ments in her hair. The lorgnettes of the royal party
were turned in her direction long enough to show the
whole house the object of their admiration. The Prince
declared her " the most beautiful woman he had seen in

Her great dramatic talent was first developed during
the patriotic exertions made for the Sanitary Fair. A
number of gifted and energetic ladies and gentlemen fit-
ted up a little private theater, to hold about three hundred
persons, the performers to be all amateurs, selected from
among the elite of Philadelphia society, and the proceeds
to be devoted exclusively to the wounded soldiers. The
enterprise was eminently successful in a financial view ;
and it also proved Philadelphia unsurpassed in the pos-
session of amateur talent. Many plays were brought
out, but " The Ladies' Ba'ttle," in which Miss Schaum-
burg sustained the principal role of the " Countess," took
society by storm. Those who witnessed that exquisite
rendition, combining the most perfect grace and high-
bred elegance with the most delicate shades of emotion,
remember it as a piece of acting unrivaled on the Ameri-
can stage. A year or two later, the comedy of " Masks
and Faces" was produced by the same association, for
the benefit of the Chicago Fair, under the immediate
supervision of Mrs. Aubrey H. Smith, a daughter of
Judge G-rier, of the Supreme Court, and a lady noted for
her vivacity, energy, and spirit. Miss Schaurnburg sus-
tained in this the great role of " Peg Woffington," and
again created a furore. It seemed difficult, indeed, to


decide in which she most excelled the dash and bril
liancy, or the pathos and emotion of the impulsive,
warm-hearted, and fascinating Peg ; whilst her Irish
"jig" was inimitable in its spirit, lightness, and grace.
The play altogether was so superbly put upon the stage
of the little theater, or " Amateur Drawing-room," as it
is called, and so admirably rendered in each of its parts,
by gentlemen and ladies of cultivation, that to those
who witnessed it, all professional performances of it since
have suffered by comparison. A melodrama, called
"The Wife's Secret" in which Miss Schaumburg sus-
tained the role of "Lady Evelyn" was afterwards pro-
duced, with great eclat, at the " Drawing-room," for
charitable purposes. In this probably the most trying
role ever attempted by any lady amateur Miss Schaum-
burg achieved fresh laurels. Madame Eistori, who was
then in Philadelphia, and who witnessed one of the per-
formances, expressed herself surprised and delighted at
the genius of the brilliant amateur. So remarkable a
talent should be frequently exerted in the noble cause
of charity ; and as it is becoming more and more the
fashion for ladies in private life to exercise their gifts for

Online LibraryE. F. (Elizabeth Fries) ElletThe queens of American society → online text (page 25 of 30)