Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox Russell.

The rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance online

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** in threes or twos," and Carlyle tells us they had readings in the
evening of Phineas Fletcher's^ "Purple Island," "over which
Irving strove to be solemn and Kitty and I rather not, throwing
in now and then a little spice of laughter and quiz." To Miss
Welsh Carlyle wrote about this visit, and in his letter says :
" This Kitty is a singular and very pleasing creature, a little
black-eyed, auburn-haired brunette, full of kindliness and
humour, and who never, I believe, was angry at any creature
for a moment in her life ; " and " she is meek and modest as
a quakeress."

Miss Welsh evidently did not like Carlyle's encomiums

* Her guardians had the whole control of her money till she was twenty-one.

- The house was in Liverpool Terrace.

'■' Phineas Fletcher, a disciple of Spenser, born in 1584. His brother Giles,
equally a poet, wrote a poem on " Paradise Regained," which suggested the
subject to Milton, who borrowed many hints from it.

The Rose Goddess

on the Rose Goddess, and in her answer to him writes in a
sneering tone : —

" I congratulate yoi-i on your present situation. With such a
picture of domestic felicity before your eyes, and this * singular
and very pleasing creature ' to charm away the blue-devils, you
can hardly fail to be as happy as the day is long. Miss Kitty
Kirkpatrick — Lord, what an ugly name ! Good Kitty ! oh,
pretty, dear, delightful Kitty ! I am not a bit jealous of her,
not I indeed ! — Hindoo Princess tho' she be ! Only you may
as well never let me hear you mention her name again."

That she was jealous of Kitty is self-evident, and Carlyle's
praises long rankled in her mind. Tv/o years later, in
February 1826, she quotes them again thus: —

"There is Catharine Aurora Kirkpatrick, for instance, who
has ;^ 50,000 and a princely lineage, and ' never was out of
humour in her life ' ; with such ' a singularly pleasing creature '
and so much fine gold you could hardly fail to find yourself
admirably well off."

During this visit of Carlyle's to Dover, a trip to Paris was

proposed and instantly decided on. The party consisted of

Mr. Strachey, Miss Kirkpatrick, and Carlyle, and Miss

Kirkpatrick took her maid. Froude tells us a travelling

carriage (which was Miss Kirkpatrick's) was sent across the

Channel, post-horses were always ready on the Dover road, and

Carlyle was now to be among the scenes so long familiar to him

as names. They went by Montreuil, Abbeville, Nampont, with

Sterne's " Sentimental Journey " as a guide-book. Carlyle sat

usually outside, " fair Kitty sometimes sitting," he says, " by me

on the hindward seat," Carlyle coming on Paris fresh with

a mind like wax to receive impressions, yet tenacious as steel in

preserving them, carried off recollections from his twelve days'


The Rose Goddess

sojourn in the French capital which never left him, and served him
well in after years when he came to write about the Revolution.
Froude goes on to say that his expedition had created no small
excitement at his Scottish home. The old people had grown up
under the traditions of the war. For a son of theirs to go abroad
at all was almost miraculous. When they heard that he had gone
to Paris, " all the stoutness of their hearts was required to bear it."
When they returned to England, Mr. Strachey and Miss
Kirkpatrick stopped at Shooter's Hill, and Carlyle went to Isling-
ton, where he took lodgings near Irving. Whilst here he con-
tinued constantly to meet Kitty, both at Shooter's Hill and
in Fitzroy Square, where the Stracheys had their town house.
And " now that the Rose Goddess sits in the same circle with
him, the light of her eyes has smiled on him, if he speaks she
will hear it. Nay, who knows, since the heavenly sun looks into
the lowest valleys, but Blumine herself might have noted the so
unnotable. . . . Was the attraction, the agitation mutual then.? . . .
He ventured to address her, she answered with attention ; nay
what if there were a slight tremor in that silver voice. ^ What
if the red glow of evening were hiding a transient blush ! . . .
the hours seemed moments ; holy was he and happy, the v/ords
from those sweetest lips came over him like dew on thirsty
grass. ... At parting the Blumine's hand was in his: in the balmy
twilight, with the kind stars above them, he spoke something of
meeting again, which was not contradicted ; he pressed gently
those small soft fingers, and it seemed as if they were not
angrily withdrawn. Day after day, in town, they met again :
like his heart's sun, the blooming Blumine shone on him. Ah !
a little while ago and he was yet in all darkness. . . . And now, O

^ Miss Kirkpatrick's voice was remarkable for its sweet melodious tone, which
certainly could not be said of Miss Welsh's.


The Rose Goddess

now ! she looks on thee ... in free speech, earnest or gay, amid
lambent glances, laughter, tears, and often with the inarticulate
mystic speech of music. ^ Such was the element they now lived
in : in such a many-tinted radiant aurora, and by this fairest of
Orient Light-bringers '" must our friend be blandished. Fairest
Blumine ! And even as a star, all fire and humid softness, a
very Light-ray incarnate. Was she not to him in very deed a
Morning Star. As from ^olian harps in the breath of dawn,
as from the Memnon's statue struck by the rosy finger of Aurora,
unearthly music was around him, and lapped him into untried
balmy rest. Pale doubt fled away to the distance ; Life bloomed
up with happiness and hope. ... If he loved his disenchantress
— Ach Gott ! His whole heart and soul were hers. . . , Our
readers have witnessed the origin of this Love-mania, and with
what royal splendour it waxes and rises. Let no one ask us to
unfold the glories of its dominant state ; much less the horrors
of its almost instantaneous dissolution. . . . We glance merely
at the final scene. One morning he found his Morning Star all
dimmed and dusky-red ; the fair creature was silent, absent, she
seemed to have been weeping. Alas, no longer a Morning Star,
but a troublous skyey Portent, announcing that the Doomsday
had dawned ! She said in a tremulous voice they were to meet
no more. We omit the passionate expostulations, entreaties,
indignations, since all was vain, and not even an explanation was
conceded him ; and hasten to the catastrophe. ' Farewell,
then, Madam ! ' said he, not without sternness, for his stung
pride helped him. She put her hand in his, she looked in his
face, tears started to her eyes ; in wild audacity he clasped her

' The Stracheys constantly had musical parties.

- It is surely a little far-fetched to say that the fairest of Orient Light-bringers
is "'a poetical expression" describing Jane Welsh, because Haddington was east
of Edinburgh I


The Rose Goddess

to his bosom, their lips were joined, their two souls, like two
dew-drops, rushed into one — for the first time, and for the
last ! Thus was he made immortal by a kiss. And then ?
Why, then — thick curtains of Night rushed over his soul as rose
the immeasurable crash of Doom."

Carlyle thought that Mrs. Strachey, whom he calls " the
dearest friend I anywhere had in the world," encouraged his
flirtation, and he wrote in his journal : " Mrs. Strachey took to me
from the first, nor ever swerved. It strikes me now more than
it then did she silently would have liked to see ' Dear Kitty '
and myself together and to continue near her both of us through
life — the good kind soul." Carlyle was alluding to another
of the family when he talks of " the Duenna Cousin, in whose
meagre, hunger-bitten philosophy the religion of young hearts
was from the first faintly approved of." Probably Mrs. Buller,
Kitty's cousin, and the wife of her guardian.^ It was not to be
wondered at that those to whose guardianship their rich and
beautiful young cousin had been confided, should wish to dis-
courage any possibility of her allying herself with the ci-devant
tutor, a man of lowly birth and very precarious means, however
much they liked him personally and appreciated his genius. Even
Carlyle himself says : " What figure at that period was a ' Mrs.'
Teufelsdrockh [the name by which he called himself] likely to
make in polished society ? Could she have driven so much as
a brass-bound gig, or even a simple iron spring one ? ' Pshaw !

^ Describing Mrs. Strachey, Carlyle says : " She is as unlike Mrs. Buller as pure
gold is to gilt copper ; she is an earnest, determined, warm-hearted religious
matron, while the other is but a fluttering patroness of routs and balls." In
Sartor he talks of Mrs. Strachey as the Gnadige Frau who, as an ornamental
artist, might sometimes like to promote flirtations.

" The famous answer in Thurtell's trial, when a witness was asked why he
called a man respectable, " He kept a gig," so tickled Carlyle's fancy, that ever
after he talked of " a gigman " and " gigmanity " to denote the world's estimate of


The Rose Goddess

the divine Blumine, when she resigned herself to wed some olher^
shows more philosophy than thou, a pretended man,"

Thus ended this romantic episode of Carlyle's early life.
To quote his own words, *' he loved once not wisely but too
well, and once only."

Mrs. Mercer, ne'e Elizabeth Ord, a connection of Kitty's,
who was one of her most intimate friends, was staying with her
at Warberry many years after, and gives us the following inter-
esting recollection : " Kitty was arranging books in the library,
when she turned to me and said, ' Lizzie, have you ever read
Sartor Resartus?' No, I had not. 'Well, get it and read the
" Romance." I am the heroine, and every word of it is true.
He was then tutor to my cousin, Charles Buller, and had made
no name for himself, so of course I was told that any such an
idea could not be thought of for a moment. What could I do
with every one against it } Now any one might be proud to be
his wife.' " Mrs. Mercer goes on to say : " How Mr. Froude
and other writers could ever have imagined that ' Blumine '
represented any woman but herself puzzles me. Froude says
it referred to Margaret Gordon, and others have insisted to
Carlyle's own wife ; but the description in the * Romance ' was
so strictly true that by no possibility could it apply to any one
else. ... A blooming, warm, earth angel, more enchanting
than your mere white angels of women.' " Her cousin. Sir
George Strachey, says: "That 'Blumine' personified Miss
Kirkpatrick has always passed in the family for a certainty,
requiring no more discussion than the belief that Nelson
stands on the column in Trafalgar Square."

Carlyle left London in March 1825, but, as he says, " if his
sudden bereavement in this matter of the Flower Goddess is

^ How could this apply to Jane Welsh !

The Rose Goddess

talked of as a real Doomsday and Dissolution of Nature, his own
nature is nowise dissolved thereby ; but rather is compressed
closer ! For once, as we might say, a Blumine by magic
appliances has unlocked that shut heart of his, and its hidden
things rush out tumultuous, boundless, like genii enfranchised
from their glass phial ; but no sooner are your magic appliances
withdrawn, than the strange casket of a heart springs to again ;
and perhaps there is now no key extant that will open it, for a
Teufelsdrockh will not love a second time/ Singular Diogenes !
no sooner has that heartrending occurrence fairly taken place,
than he affects to regard it as a thing natural of which there is
nothing more to be said. . . . What things soever passed in
him — what ravings and despairings soever Teufelsdrockh's soul
was the scene of, he has the goodness to conceal under a quite
opaque cover of silence. . . . The first mad paroxysm past
our brave Gneschen collected his dismembered philosophies and
buttoned himself together ; he was meek, silent, or spoke of the
weather and the journals, only by a transient knitting of those
shaggy brows, by some deep flash of those eyes glancing one
knew not with tear-dew or with fierce fire, might you have
guessed what a Gehenna was within," The climax came when
in the course of his wanderings, " the silence was broken by a
sound of carriage wheels, and emerging from the northward
came a gay Barouche and four ; it was open ; servants, postilion
wore wedding-favours ; that happy pair, then, had found each
other ; it was their marriage evening ! Few moments brought

' Froude says : " Carlyle admired Miss Welsh, his future wife, loved her in a
certain sense; but like her he was not in love. Her mind and temper suited him,
he had allowed her image to intertwine itself with all his thoughts and emotions,
but with love his feeling for her had nothing in common but the name." In 1827
Carlyle wrote : " Surely / shall learn at Icni^th to prize the pearl of great price which
God has given to me unworthy."


The Rose Goddess

them near, Du Himmel ! It was Herr Towgood and Blumine.
With slight unrecognising salutation they passed me, plunged
down amid the neighbouring thickets, onwards to Heaven and
to England, and I, in my friend Richter's words, ' I remained
alone behind them with the night.' "

Kitty Kirkpatrick married Captain James Winsloe-Phillipps,
an officer of the yth Hussars, Lord Anglesey's crack regiment.
He was extremely handsome, and Carlyle describes him as " a
man of fine presence and unusual charm of personality." The
dyspeptic philosopher applied the term of " Towgood " (Tough-
gut) to him and others of his set as a generic name for men
of sound digestion, often as he thought with more health and
good looks than brains.

Kitty's mother was now dead, but her maternal grandmother,

Shurf oon Nissa, was still alive ; and Kitty wrote to her after she

was married to acquaint her with the fact, and sent a picture

of herself. She received in return, through Sir Henry Russell,

a most affectionate letter in the high-flown and poetic language

of her country. It was written in fine Persian writing, on paper

sprinkled with gold-leaf, and enclosed in a bag of cloth of gold.

In it she says : " My child, the light of mine eyes, the solace of

my heart, may God grant her long life ; after offering up my

prayers that her days may be lengthened, her dignity increased,

let it be known to my child that by the mercy and goodness

of God her representation arrived after a long time, and having

brought happiness with its presence, imparted happiness to my

heart and light to my eyes and occasioned such joy and delight

that an account of it cannot be brought within the compass

of the tongue or pen. The letter written by my child is

pressed by me sometimes to my head and sometimes to my

eyes. It is written in it that my child has married the nephew


Mrs. Phillipps, ("Kitty" Kirkpatrick).
" The Rose Goddess. "
(Prom a Miniature by Chalons)

The Rose Goddess

of Sir John Kennaway, ' Delawar Jung.' ^ The receipt of this
news replete with gladness has added joy upon joy to me."
Then comes a quotation : " If my life had been the sacrifice
for this goodness, it would be of no consequence." Shurf oon
Nissa goes on to say : " God is my witness that 1 keep my child
in my remembrance even to a greater degree than she has done
me. No minute or second passes by in which I do not think
of her. May the pure and exalted God speedily lift up the
veil of separation from between us and gladden us with a
meeting. ... In compliance with my child's request, I am
sending a lock of her mother's hair, I formerly received
accounts of the welfare of my children from Sir William
Rumbold, but since Colonel Doveton left this, I have received
no further accounts." Shurf oon Nissa Begum died in

Major and Mrs. Phillipps lived very happily if uneventfully
in Devonshire. They had eight children, but only four lived
to grow up." He died in 1864, but she survived, "beautiful
to the last," till 1888.^ Sir Edward Strachey, in an article
which he wrote about her, says: "I remember her from girl-
hood to old age as the most fascinating of women ; " and another
writer says : " In person she was far more foreign than English,
and it was this rare combination of Eastern grace and beauty
with the highest culture which made her so very charming.

^ Sir John Kennaway had been sent by Lord Cornwallis in 1788 as Envoy
to the court of Hyderabad.

* One son and three daughters : John James Winsloe-Philhpps, who married
Miss Charlotte Strachey; Mary Augusta married Captain Uniacke of the 60th
Rifles ; Emily, the Rev. Walpole Mohun-Harris of Hayne; Bertha, Colonel Lucius
Carey of Torr Abbey.

' Twenty-five years before this, Mrs. Phillipps had gone to visit Carlyle, but
found only Mrs. Carlyle, who wrote to her husband, "Oh, my dear, she is
anything but good-looking ! "

17 B

The Rose Godde


She had a keen sense of humour and the kindest heart, and
could not bear to give another pain."

In October 1868, Mrs. Phillipps went to see Carlyle in
Cheyne Row, and ^ propos of her visit he quotes from Virgil,
" Agnosco veteris vestigia flammas" (I feel the traces of my
ancient flame ) ; and shortly after he wrote to her : " Your little
visit did me a great deal of good ; so interesting, so strange, to see
her we used to call 'Kitty' emerging on me from the dusk of
evening like a dream become real. It set me thinking for many
hours upon times long gone, and persons and events that can
never cease to be important and affecting to me. ... I grudged
to be specially unwell that day (below par, in regard to sleep,
&c., for three weeks past), and never fairly to see you, except
in chiaroscuro, vv^hile you talked. You must mend that by
making me another visit when the lights are better disposed
towards us. With a great deal of readiness, I send you the
photograph, which you are pleased to care for, being sorry only
it is such a grim affair (thanks to time and what he brings and
takes), though, indeed, this was never much a bright image, not
even forty-eight years ago, when your bright eyes first took
it in." His letter finishes with these words: "All round me is
the sound as of evening bells, which are not sad only, or ought
not to be, but beautiful also and blessed and quiet. No more
to-day, dear lady : my best wishes and affectionate regards
will abide with you to the end." — J. C,

If Kitty Kirkpatrick had married Carlyle, the world would
probably have been the loser, as his Jane, the love of his in-
tellect, spurred him on, and without her he would not have
risen to so high an eminence; but, on the other hand, perhaps
the grim philosopher would have been happier with the
" undeveloped intellect " of the sweet " Rose Goddess."



" Your smiles have more of conquering charms,
Than all your native country's arms ;
Their troop we can expel with ease,
Who vanquish only when we please.

But in your eyes, O ! there's the spell !

Who can see them and not rebel ?
You make us captives by your stay ;
Yet kill us if you go away."

— The Fair Stra7iger, Song addressed to -Mdlle.
de Keroualle by Dryden.

It is said that Louise de Keroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth,
boasted that she was related to all the great families of France,
and that she never omitted to put on mourning at the death
of any member of the French aristocracy. Once a French
prince and the Cham of Tartary died about the same time.
Mademoiselle de Keroualle as usual donned her mourning, and
Nell Gwyn also appeared in sable garb. The latter was'asked
for whom she wore black. " For the Cham of Tartary," she
answered. " What relation was he to you ? " was the laughing
question. *' The same that the Prince was to Mademoiselle
de Keroualle ! " retorted the saucy beauty. Another story
told with the same import is to be found in one of Madame
de Sevigne's letters to her daughter, and reads as follows:
" Madame de Kcrouel avait pris un grand deuil pour le roi
de Suede ; a quelque temps de la, le roi de Portugal vint a
mourir; Nelgouine {sic) parut avec un carrosse drape et disait :


The Real Louise de Keroualle

' La Kerouel et moi avons partage le monde ; elle a les rois du
Nord, et moi ceux da Midi,' "

Nell Gwyn, however, was in this case more witty than wise,
for Louise de Keroualle could boast with perfect truth of a
very ancient lineage both on her father's and her mother's side,
and moreover, the great number of kings and queens, not to
mention other illustrious personages, that are to be found in
her pedigree, is very remarkable. It is not astonishing that
Nell Gwyn knew nought of these royal ancestors and noble
relations, but it does seem curious that modern writers, who
pretend to write true biographies, should print such statements
as the following, which appeared in a recent publication entitled
"Court Beauties of Whitehall." The author says of Louise
de Keroualle, " Although Madam Carwell, as the English people
called her, has escaped oblivion, the mere spelling of her name
has become a matter of indifference to history. ... A similar
uncertainty attaches to her origin. The Duchess of Ports-
mouth, however, had no doubt about it, and was herself ex-
tremely proud of her ancestry, and boasted — when in England,
be it understood — an ancient and distinguished lineage. It (sir)
is characteristic of parvenus."

Now there is absolutely no uncertainty attached to the

origin of Louise de Keroualle ; no pedigree is better attested

than hers, and the veriest tyro in French history can easily

ascertain for himself her "ancient and distinguished lineage."

She was no " parvenuc " but patrician "jusqu'au bout des

ongles." Her pedigree is to be found ifj extenso in the very

well-known work of the greatest authority on noble French

families, namely, the Hisloire gcnealogique et chronologique de la

Maison Royale de France^ written by Le Pere Ansel me, vol. v.

p. 928, and we are giving a resume of it in our appendix, all


The Real Louise de Keroualle

the names surmounted by a cross being of the Royal House of

Louise-Renee de Penancoet de Keroualle was the eldest
daughter of Guillaume de Penancoet, Comte de Keroualle,
Seigneur de Kerboronne de la Villeneuve et du Chef-du-bois,
by his wife Marie-Anne de Ploeuc, daughter of Sebastien,
Marquis du Timeur et de Kergorlay.

The house of Penancoet de Keroualle was a very ancient
though impoverished family of Brittany, seated near Brest, and
descended from Rene de Penhoct, living in 1280. The Penhoct
family was one of the four great families of the eveche de
Leon, of whom it was said : —

" Antiquite de Penhoct,
Vaillance du Chaste!,
Richesse de Kerman,
Chevalerie de Kergournadeck."

A Penhoet married the daughter and heiress of a Penancoet,

Seigneur de Keroualle, and acquired with her the lands of

Keroualle in Basse Bretagne, an express stipulation being made

that he and his descendants should drop their patronymic and

take that of Penancoet as well as adopt their shield (" Fasce

d'argent et d'azur de six pieces "), which accordingly they did, as

also the motto "A bep pen leaddit" (" Loyaute partout "), and

" En diayez " (" A decouvert ").

But it was on the distaff side that Louise de Keroualle's

pedigree was so remarkable. Her grandmother was a de Rieux,

a daughter of Rene de Rieux, Marquis de Sourdeac, whose father,

Jean de Rieux, was second cousin to King Francois I. Through

the de Rieux's, Louise de Keroualle was allied to the houses

of de Bretagne, de Penthievre, de Leon, de Machecoul,

d'Amboise, de Clisson, de Rochefort, de Montauban, d'Harcourt,


The Real Louise de Keroualle

de Rohan, d'llliers, d'Aiguillon, de Loraine, de Derval, de
Rouge, de Boyseon, de Montmorency et de Bourbon.

Louise was descended from Jeanne de France, daughter of
Charles VI., and also, through the de Rohans, from Jean de
Montfort, fifth Duke of Brittany, and his wife Jeanne, daughter
of the King of Navarre, who afterwards became the Queen of
Henry IV. of England ; and consequently Mademoiselle de
Keroualle was related to the Kings Fran9ois I., Henri II.,
Francois II., Charles IX., Henri III., and Henri IV., and thus
was a distant cousin of King Charles II. of England as well as
of Louis XIV. There is a letter extant written by the French
King, Henri III., to the great-great-grandfather of Louise de
Keroualle, in which his Majesty says : " Ayant mis en considera-
tion la grandeur, illustre maison, et noblesse de notre cousin
Messire Jean de Rieux," &c. &c., and in 1710, when Rene-
Louis de Rieux wrote a letter to Louis XIV. claiming his
protection against certain abuses of power committed in the

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Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 2 of 22)