Frances (Winckley) Shelley.

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THE DIARY OF FRANCES
LADY SHELLEY



First Edition . . . May 1912
Reprinted . . . May 1912




LADY SHELLEY.
From a miniature, by <.".. Sanders, in the possession of Spencer Shelley Esq.



THE

DIARY OF FRANCES
LADY SHELLEY

1787 1817

EDITED BY HER GRANDSON

RICHARD EDGCUMBE

AUTHOR OK "BYRON: THE LAST PHASE," ETC.



"The ioyful Remembrances of Loue already paft, and often Repetition of
old Acquaintance ended, is fo fweet a pleafure, and fo pleaf ing a delight to
all ingenuous Minds, that either to forget, or to be forgotten is alike iniurious
to the Dead, at to the Liuing."— The Catalogue of Honor, 1610.



WITH ILLUSTRATIONS



LONDON
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET, W.

1912



All Rights Reserved



£5:4*4



PREFACE

A few introductory words are all that I feel called
upon to write. The author's fascinating personality
is stamped on every page of a work, originally
designed as a private memento of scenes and events
that deeply impressed her.

Lady Shelley could not of course have foreseen
that, after a century of oblivion, these entries would
be interesting to the world at large. If she had
contemplated publicity, much of that spontaneity of
expression, and impulsive enthusiasm — which form
their chief charm — would have been curbed ; and
these pen-and-ink sketches of celebrated personages
would have been discreetly withheld. But whatever
personal reasons there may have been against publi-
cation during the lifetime of the persons concerned,
are now removed ; and, so far as I can judge, there
is scarcely a word to which their descendants could
reasonably object.

Lady Shelley possessed, in an eminent degree,
the gift of portraying in natural, unaffected language
the peculiarities of those with whom she was from
time to time associated. She was fortunate in having
lived in stirring times, and among people who helped
to shape the destinies of Europe. Her portrait of
the Duke of Wellington, in 1815, as he appeared



1 1 fZOPHQ



vi PREFACE

in private life, is an especially valuable contribution
to our knowledge of that great man of whom, in
his private capacity, so little has been written.

In these Diaries we are brought quite naturally
into the intimate society of the Empress Marie Louise,
the Countess of Albany, Metternich, Canova, Byron,
Sir Walter Scott, Brougham, and many others well
known to fame. In these pages the facile pen of
a brilliant woman, inspired by unquenchable
enthusiasm, has given us a fresh and faithful picture
of Society in the reign of George III.

It may perhaps be thought that too much
prominence has been given, in the Swiss tour, to
scenes with which most people are familiar. But
it must be remembered that Lady Shelley visited
the Switzerland of Byron and Shelley during the
lifetime of many who remembered Voltaire.

The Switzerland of 1816 — which is so vividly
described in these pages — was peopled by a peasantry
whose primitive minds had not acquired the seductive
art of enriching themselves at the foreigners' expense.
A century ago travelling in that country was both
difficult and tedious. It is interesting to contrast
our present-day trains and comfortable hotels with
the char-a-bancs, auberges, and hard fare of former
times.

If I venture on a personal note it is to appeal,
in my editorial capacity, for some slight indulgence.
In arranging a mass of papers committed to my
care — of which this instalment is a very small
portion — it was not always easy to divest myself
of a natural sympathy for whatever fell from the
pen of a relative, for whose memory I feel the
deepest reverence and affection. In my endeavour



PREFACE



VII



to discriminate between matters of general interest
and those which were personal, mistakes may have
been made. I have at least done my utmost to be
impartial, and I trust that these wonderful diaries
will afford as much pleasure to the reader as they
have given to myself.

Richard Edgcumbe.
Rome, March 191 2.






LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Lady Shelley Frontispiece

From a miniature by G. Sandars. In the possession of Spencer
Shelley, Esq.

FACING PAGE

'Waterloo 64

September iS, 1815.

The Duke of Wellington and Lady Shelley at

Malmaison, 18 i 5 96

Field Map of the Battle of Waterloo . . .112

From a sketch drawn by Sir Henry Bradford for the Duke of
Wellington.

St. Cloud 124

August I, 1815.

Facsimile of Invitation to Dinner with Marie

Louise 384



I— b



DIARY OF FRANCES
LADY SHELLEY



CHAPTER I

I was born at Preston, in Lancashire, in 1787. My
father, Thomas Winckley, of Preston, was a direct
descendant of the de Winkelmondeleys who, in Saxon
times, settled in a corner between the Ribble and the
Calder. My mother, who was the daughter of Hew
Dalrymple, descended from a kinsman of President
Lord Stair, who carried the Union with England. She
had previously been married to Major Hesketh, who
died young from a severe wound received in the
American War of Independence. By her first husband
she had one son, afterwards Sir Thomas Hesketh, and
six daughters. My mother had a charming person-
ality and was perfectly beautiful, with the celebrated
" Dalrymple brow," so well known in Scotland. She
w r as, of course, very proud of her Scottish descent. She
was not judicious in the management of her "lambkin"
(as she used to call me), a name which I resented, as I
felt that I had much more of the lion than the lamb in
my disposition. I disliked her impetuous caressing,
and early learnt to allow myself, as a favour to her, to
be kissed ; and not, as is usual with most children,
to receive a caress as the reward of good conduct and
maternal affection. Although my mother spoiled me,
there was a strong sympathy between us, and I liked
to sit on her knee and listen to the old Scottish



2 THE MOURNING FOR LOUIS XVI. [ch. i

Jacobite ballads, and the sweet poetry of Burns. She
was devoted to dress, cards, and the world, was often
absent on pleasure bent, leaving me in charge of my
excellent elder half-sister, Harriet Hesketh. My five
other half-sisters lived in another house in Preston,
while their brother, Sir Thomas Hesketh, who had
succeeded to his uncle's title and property, was at a
private tutor's in Kent. As my father had taken a
great dislike to the Heskeths, we rarely met.

I fancy that my mother's home was not a happy one.
My father, having been a younger son, was accustomed
to live in the Temple, where he led a bachelor's life,
which he preferred to his country home. On his
occasional visits to his family at Preston he generally
brought his London friends, two of whom, Montague,
Lord Rokeby, and Baron Parke, have often described
the charms of his conversation and wit, and the delight
they experienced while riding into Lancashire with
such an excellent compagnon de voyage. Lord Rokeby,
some years afterwards, told me that he well remembered
how the spoiled child (poor me !) would toss off a
bumper of port, and throw the glass over her shoulder
to the toast of " Church and King, and down with the
Rump " !

I well remember the universal mourning, and the
grief of all around me, on hearing of the execution
of the King and Queen of France. In a convent,
which stood on my own property in Preston, I
was taken to see Princesse Louise de Bourbon, sister
of Louis XVL, who had fled from her convent near
Paris during the Reign of Terror. Thus was the
instability of rank and prosperity impressed upon my
mind, in a manner far more eloquent and convincing
than by any amount of books or sermons relating to
that painful episode.

When my father had drunk two or three bottles of
port, he played all sorts of mad pranks, and on one
occasion insisted on taking me out of my bed in the



1792] "PROUD PRESTON" 3

middle of the night, and carried me in his coach, with
four black horses, his servants in tawny orange
liveries, to Blackpool (the Brighton of the North).
My mother, who was greatly alarmed, dared not in
such moments oppose any of my father's whims. Her
fears were at last relieved by hearing from a friend at
Blackpool that she had rescued me, and taken me
from the hotel to her own house. I was at that time
above four years of age. This calculation is based on
the fact that when my father died I was only six, and
long before his death he had become disgusted with
the erection of factories near Preston — M proud
Preston " as it was formerly called, because it was
the winter residence of the nobility and the county
families. One day my father, in a towering passion,
left his old house never to return. He had gone as
usual in the morning to select his fish for dinner. On
his arrival at the fishmonger's, he found himself fore-
stalled in the purchase of the finest turbot by a
Mr. Horrocks, a cotton spinner ! This was too much
for my father's sense of dignity. He pronounced
Preston no longer a fit place for a gentleman to live
in, and immediately rented a villa situated about four
miles out of Liverpool— then a rising, but still a small
town. The house stood on a beautiful hill, over-
looking the Mersey, so that the taste which I had
acquired in my own fair valley of the Ribble was here
still further indulged, and has become my delight
through life. I have always clung with deep affection
to my own lovely woods, where stood a building
called the " Folly." Here my mother often invited
her friends to eat the fresh salmon caught at our
weir in the Ribble. The party rode on pillions—
and I before the old steward, or his son— down a
steep rocky hill, to the old black-and-white family
house. Over its entrance, carved in stone, stood the
arms of our family, dating from 1650. Oatcakes hung
in racks from the kitchen ceiling, and I confess that



4 WHERE THE PRETENDER SLEPT [cfc. i

the fresh buttermilk from the sweet buttery made me
prefer the offices to the stiff, high-backed chairs, and
stone floor of the hall and the company parlour.
After seeing the salmon caught, the party scrambled
up the hill to the " Folly," whence the view ex-
tended for miles, embracing many gentlemen's seats,
and the famous Houghton Tower, where the first
baronet received King James in regal state on his
first arrival from Scotland. The " Bills of Fare " are
still preserved at Houghton, and assisted Walter Scott
in his graphic description of the feastings at Kenil-
worth in the reign of Queen Bess.

We were at that time all strong Jacobites. In our
old house the Pretender had slept on the night before
the battle of Preston ; and I still possess a bracelet
given by him to my ancestor, with a portrait of King
Charles, made in his own hair, which was cut off on
the scaffold and dipped in his blood. I recall the pride
with which I wore this bracelet on State occasions.
Many were the quarrels I had with my Whig cousins,
the Hornbys, on the respective merit of the Stuarts and
Queen Mary. On these occasions I upheld my high
Tory principles, and my adoration of Pitt, while they
were equally devoted to Charles Fox, their mother
being sister of the old Lord Derby, that statesman's
most intimate friend. As the Hornbys were thirteen in
family, and I was an only child, I early learnt to hold
my own even against superior forces. My father did
not long survive his removal to Larkhill, and after his
death my mother took me to London, where we were
domiciled with old Lord Stair, in New Street, Spring
Gardens. Among those who welcomed us to London
were my mother's first cousin, the Earl of Peterborough
and old Doctor Pitcairn, the celebrated physician, a near
Scottish cousin. 1 I remember once, while at dessert
after dining at his house, the old man emptied his
pockets of the guineas he had received during the

1 David Pitcairn (1749— 1809). Began to practise in London 1779.



i795l INDISCRIMINATE READING 5

day, and bade the children scramble for those which
fell on the floor!

When I was eight years old (1795), I was sent to
a small childs' school at Twickenham. I had a great
deal of ambition, even at that early age, and made
much progress in French, and in music. Marks of
approbation, and of disgrace, were pinned on our
frocks. I seem to have been always in disgrace ! I
was wilful, headstrong, and determined to have my
own way. The youngest sister of Miss Dutton, who
kept the school, took me in charge, but in spite of
violence and smacking, she could not subdue me. On
one occasion she hit me over the shoulders with a
wooden case full of pens. They flew out over the
room in all directions, much to the merriment of my
companions, who left their books to pick them up,
and restored them to their owner with mocking
curtseys. After this the elder sister, a delicate gentle
creature, took me under her care, and I shall never
cease to remember her kindness, her judicious manage-
ment, and the strong affection which she inspired.
After two years at this school my mother took me
aw r ay to reside, under a governess, at her house at
Bath. After my father's death my mother decided to
bring the Heskeths, her children b} r a former
husband, under her own roof. My half-sisters were
very handsome, and were at that time much occupied
with their lovers. I heard all their secrets, and read
indiscriminately the books in my father's not very
select library, which he had left to my mother. I
continued to manage every governess put over me;
and dressed my sisters' hair for the balls and parties,
having, apparently, more taste and address than
their maids ! After having been initiated into their
love affairs, I attended the weddings of three of
them.

I must, at this time, have been delicate, for I re-
member being ordered to ride on a pillion with a



6 A PASSION FOR THE STAGE [ch. i

steady old coachman, who indulged me by gathering
bunches of wild flowers from the lovely lanes around
Bath. My drawing master taught me to paint them.
My governess, at this time, was sister to Mrs. Elliston,
wife of the celebrated actor. 1 It was from her that 1
acquired a passion for the stage, and constantly spouted
the parts which impressed me in the acting. I have
often since found the knowledge of men and manners
thus acquired most useful. I still remember, and
have often had occasion to put into practice, the
virtues of the heroic Mrs. Beverley in "The Gamester." 2
My pet motto was drawn from "The Way to Keep
Him," then much in vogue :

" To win a man, when all your arts succeed,
The way to keep him, is a task indeed ! "

Had I not then acquired some knowledge of the
world, and of mankind, how could I have steered un-
harmed through the trying scenes and the difficulties
of my early married life !

As I was decidedly inclined to consumption at
this time, my anxious mother removed to Clifton,
so as to be within reach of Dr. Beddoes, 3 who
used to put his consumptive patients in rooms
above the cow-houses. Through the chinks of the
flooring the breath of the cows ascended ; this was
supposed to be an infallible cure. To my great delight
the doctor said that I only required plenty of fresh
air and exercise, so my governess was dismissed, and,
at the age of ten, I was allowed to wander at will over
the wild heather and rocks of that then quiet and
lovely country. I often found myself miles from

1 Robert Elliston (1774 — 1S31), manager of Drury Lane 1819-26, author
of '• The Venetian Outlaw."

2 "The Gamester," by Edward Moore (1712 — 1757), probably assisted by
Garrick. Mrs. Beverley was a favourite part with Mrs. Siddons.

3 Thomas Beddoes (1760 — 1808), reader in Chemistry at Oxford. He estab-
lished at Clifton in 1798 a Pneumatic Institute for the treatment of disease
by inhalation,. He married a sister of Maria Edgeworth,



1795] A FORBIDDEN BOOK 7

home, sometimes alone, and sometimes with com-
panions a very little older than myself.

These young ladies were the daughters of Lady
Morris Gore, an Irish family ; they had been extremely
ill brought up, and tried to lead me into every sort of
mischief. They procured from the library novels of the
worst description, among them Monk Lewis's book
"The Monk," which was at that time the subject of
conversation in all societies. 1 My imprudent mother
even, had warned me not to read it ! These Gore
girls laughed at the prohibition, and were determined
that I should be as wise as themselves on subjects
which I obstinately refused to discuss. I must have
possessed a very precocious intuition for purity and
refinement, and I certainly dreaded that my magnetic
temperament might lead me astray. One night one of
these girls brought me this book, and a candle to
read by in bed. I can now recall the strong tempta-
tion with which I wrestled. My love of novels was
then intense. With an effort I blew out my candle,
and slept the sleep of tiie just, with " The Monk " under
my pillow. I returned the book next day without
having read a line of it. By this means I retained
my influence over these older girls, who, happily
for themselves, were willing to be guided by me
when, not long afterwards, their folly had nearly
ruined them for life. As I did not approve of the
conduct of these young ladies, I fell into disfavour,
and was accused of pride and caprice. But I never
betrayed them, and began to wander about in
solitude. One day 1 was tempted to enter the
"Giant's Cave," a forbidden feat, accomplished with
great difficulty, and some personal risk. I did not
dare to confess to my mother that I had done this,

1 Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775— 1818), author of "The Monk," published
in 1795, which made him famous. He had West Indian property and took
great interest in the proper treatment of his slaves. He died at sea on hjs
way home in 181 .8.



8 HANNAH MORE [ch. i

nor to any one, lest she should hear of it, and forbid
my wild ramblings. When I visited this spot a few
years ago, my heart beat as I approached it. I
remembered my childish delight at this dangerous
performance, which would now, I believe, be im-
possible owing to the fall of the cliff near it.

Soon after this escapade I made the acquaintance, and
became a great favourite of the poet Cowper's cousin,
the widowed Lady Hesketh. She had lived a long
time abroad, chiefly in Italy, and from her description
of that country I imbibed a passion for travelling
which remained long ungratified, owing to the dis-
turbed state of the Continent. Cowper's poems made
a deep impression on my young mind. Lady Hssketh
often read them to me (I think from the manuscripts
themselves) and I acquired a strong religious feeling —
not creed — which gave me happiness through life,
and chastened me in joy and in grief. Lady Hesketh
was a lovely, delicate person, with regular features,
and a pale complexion which flushed when interested
with a beautiful hectic, which betrayed the malady
from which she suffered, and which alas ! so soon
deprived me of the first object of my hero-worship.
At her house I met the afterwards celebrated Hannah
More, then occupied in establishing her schools in the
Mendip Hills. I read all her admirable tracts for the
poor, which helped to break the Jacobite spirit which
infected the lower classes in England at that time.

The awakening of the labouring classes, after the
first shock of the French Revolution, made the
upper classes tremble. They began to fear that
those who had hitherto been treated as helots might
one day, as in France, get the upper hand. Never,
in the history of our country, was a better proof
afforded of the good sense of the Anglo-Saxon char-
acter. Practical measures were adopted to improve
the condition of the poor. Land allotments, clothing
clubs, and many other philanthropic measures were



1795] A HEALTHY SPIRIT OF THE TIMES 9

promoted. Village schools sprang up in many parts
of the country. The parson no longer hunted ; or
shot, five days in the week, cleaning his fowling-piece
on the sixth, prior to the preparation of a drowsy
sermon, delivered on the seventh day to a sleeping
congregation. Every man felt the necessity for
setting his house in order, and every woman began
to educate her children, so that, if the necessity
arose, they might, like the distinguished French
emigrants, who were reduced to earn a livelihood, be
able to become governesses, or tutors. This health-
ful spirit of the times made an impression upon me
also, and had its influence in the formation of my
character.

I never, from that time, hesitated to share my
pecuniary advantages with those about me. I did
the best I could for those less fortunately situated in
worldly possessions, and only asked to be loved in
return. Giving, and receiving happiness, became the
ruling passion of my young life. I hope that, as an
old woman, I may be pardoned for saying that few in-
deed have been more fortunate than myself in the full
enjoyment of the love and sympathy of all those with
whom I came in contact during a long and stirring life.

At the dawn of womanhood, le besoiu daimer, as
the French say, was strong in me, but no one within
my reach fulfilled my beau ideal of friendship ; and
it was only in poetry and romances that 1 could, in
any way, realise the personality for which 1 craved.
I was very fastidious, and would never become in-
timate, or even associate with any one whose character,
and standard of ethics did not correspond with my
own. One of my most difficult and wearying duties
at this time was to play at cards, during the fine
summer evenings, at my mother's casino table, where
I made the acquaintance of an Irish Major Barring-
ton, of good family certainly, but of most disgusting
vulgarity. He had a strong " brogue," and the ton de



io A CRUEL STEP-FATHER [ch. i

garnison. This objectionable addition to our family
circle succeeded, at length, in gaining the affections
of my poor mother, and, to her ultimate misery,
and my disgust, he induced her to marry him. My
married half-sisters were all absent ; and Harriet, who
could have influenced my mother, had sailed with
her husband, old General Despard, to assume the
Government at Cape Breton. 1 It was thus that my
mother had no one to discuss the matter with,
and although I entirely managed her household
affairs, and held the purse, I had no power to
revoke her fatal determination. I have an impres-
sion that the marriage was strictly private, and
that I did not know it had taken place until I was
formally introduced to my step-father. This revolted
me, and I absolutely refused to acknowledge him as
a relation. I never felt more deeply humiliated ; and
nothing, beyond bare civility, could Major Barrington
ever obtain from my high and wounded spirit.

My prejudice against this man was, alas ! too soon
and too cruelly justified. We moved to London,
where my poor mother became dangerously ill. I
never left her bedside, and sat up with her at night
until driven away by the Major, on his return from
some gaming table, drunk and discourteous. My
mother dreaded these returns, especially when the
low state of her purse obliged her to refuse the con-
stant demands he made upon it. Often have I averted
the blows which that brute levelled at her, and often
have I seen the marks of his violence when I was
not present to protect her ! A faithful old servant,
who took care of me, told me of my mother's suffer-
ings, and said that it would not be possible for
her to live long, under such treatment. We both
lamented the fatal infatuation which had brought
my mother to this dreadful pass. She encouraged

1 General John Despard, who had fought in the Seven Years' War, com-
manded .troops at Cape Breton from 1799 to 1S07..



i8o 4 ] RUFFORD HALL n

me in the onty protection which I could afford to my
mother, by threatening Major Barrington to inform
my guardian of his conduct. I knew that he would re-
move me from the house, and withdraw the allowance
made for my maintenance. But this threat was never
carried out. I felt that it was my duty to stay with
my poor mother, and I never knew how it was that



Online LibraryFrances (Winckley) ShelleyThe diary of Frances lady Shelley (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 33)