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Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox Russell.

The rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance online

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affection and my gratitude. I feel for her an attachment equally
bmding with the most violent love— tho' it wants its enchanting
fire and delirium. I allow I have a tenderness for her of which
I did not think my heart was capable; but which was very

diff'erent to what I felt for Lady •

" You talk in your letter of wishing to see my menage
before Parliament meets ... We shall be here or at Blenheim
till Bedford races, which begin August 6th, and after that time
shall stay in this country till after Christmas. About September
I believe I shall inhabit my house, and consequently shall like
much better to see you there. Indeed, I am so well satisfied
with the country, and so is my wife too, that I think 1 shall not
see much of London this year . . . Adieu, my dearest R
guess how much I dislike writing, since it is disagreeable to me
to make any longer this letter which is to the man to whom I
can most freely speak of all I think and do. Ever yours,

"F. T."
^ " My present happiness may perhaps be but a dream." Alas !
this was a prophetic surmise which the decrees of fate had
settled should be fulfilled.

In less than three years the happiness of this young couple
was brought to a tragic end by the unexpected death of Lord
Tavistock. When out hunting he had a fall, and his horse
kicked him, fracturing his skull. This terrible news came to
the Duke and Duchess of Bedford whilst they were at the
Opera. Lady Tavistock and the Duchess of Marlborough being
with them, and both ladies being in delicate health, the Duke
and Duchess, fearing for them a sudden shock, concealed the
news, and actually sat through the remainder of the opera hiding

75



"Che Sara, Sara"

their ghastly secret. The suppressed agony of the father had a
curious effect upon him : his head the day after broke out in
boils, which probably, it was said, saved his life. Lord Tavistock
was twice trepanned, but died on the 22nd March 1767.
Horace Walpole writes : " No man was ever more regretted ;
the honesty, generosity, humility and moderation of his
character endeared him to all the world. The desolation of
his family is extreme." Besides being high-minded and right-
principled. Lord Tavistock was very accomplished and in every
way a young man of great promise.

Lady Tavistock, who loved him passionately, never recovered
from the shock, though she lingered for many months. Four
months after her husband's death she gave birth to a posthu-
mous son, who was given the name of William. After this
event was over there was a consultation of the three physicians,
Ward, Damian, and Ford, and they recommended her being
taken to Lisbon, more with an idea of affording her some relief
through change of scene and a warm climate than with the
hope of any real cure, her mental anguish being terrible to
witness. A touching story was told by one of the doctors.
During a visit to her, he wished to feel her pulse in both
wrists, and finding a reluctance to open one of her hands, he
used a gentle violence, and saw that she had concealed in it
a miniature of her husband. "Ah, Madam," he said, "all our
prescriptions must be useless, while you so fatally cherish the
sorrow that destroys you." " I have kept this," she replied,
" either in my bosom or my hand, ever since my dear lord's
death, and thus I must indeed continue to retain it, until I
drop off after him into the welcome grave."

Lady Tavistock was accompanied to Portugal by her
brother, Admiral Keppel, and by her sister, Lady Caroline

76




SIK JOSHUA KEYNOLDS, ptllX.

Francis Russell, 5th Dukk of Bedford; Lord John Rlsskll (akthkwahds

6th Duke of Bedford) : Lord William Russell, and Miss Hknkiktta \'i:k\on

(afterwards Countess of Warwick).

(From a Mezzotint at SwallowfielJ, by Y. Green, 1778)



*' Che Sara, Sara "

Adair, with her husband, but neither change of scene nor
climate produced any good effect upon this broken heart,
and she died at Lisbon on the 9th of November of the same
year (1768) aged twenty-eight.

The tragedies of these two deaths did not complete the
chain of disasters that befel this ill-fated family.

One of Sir Joshua's well-known allegorical pictures — and a
very poor one — is composed of four figures, three of whom —
youths in armour — were the sons of the aforesaid unfortunate
Lord and Lady Tavistock.^ The eldest youth, who is supposed
to be St. George attacking the Dragon, in the foreground of
the picture, was Francis, Lord Tavistock, who succeeded his
grandfather as fifth Duke of Bedford in 1771- He seemed
to have everything that this world could give, position, great
talents, and immense wealth to enable him to utilise it for the
good of his country, which he showed every desire to do,
and a lovely bride, Lady Georgiana Gordon, daughter of the
Duke of Gordon, to whom he was shortly to be united, when
suddenly this promising life was brought to an early close, like
his father before him, as the result of an untoward accident.
He injured himself playing at racquets, and died in a few days,
after suffering intense agony, borne with the greatest fortitude
and thinking only of others to the last. Seldom has any one
been more lamented by the public, as well as by his friends
and relations. Charles James Fox, his cousin, made an eloquent
and touching eulogium on him in the House of Commons,
seconded by Sheridan. He was succeeded by his second brother.
Lord John, who became sixth Duke of Bedford, and married,
as his second wife, his late brother's fiancee. Lady Georgiana

1 The fourth figure was their cousin, Miss Henrietta Vernon, who married the
Earl of Warwick.

77



"Che Sara, Sara"

Gordon. He had a prosperous life and left innumerable
descendants; Lord John Russell, K.C., the Prime Minister, was
one of his sons,^ and the late Duchess of Abercorn one of his
daughters. His youngest son. General Lord Alexander Russell,
a man of charming personality, died only quite lately.

The culminating tragedy of this family fell upon the third
and youngest of the brothers. In the picture Lord William
is represented crouching in the background, supposed to be
terror-stricken at sight of the Dragon which his brother is
attacking with his spear ; but there is no look of horror in his
face, and one story is, that when Sir Joshua told him to look
more frightened, he laughingly said he could not manage to
do so at such a ridiculous creature !

Sixty-three years later he must have had the expression on
his face that Sir Joshua had desired to depict, when as an old
man of seventy-three years of age he saw the midnight
assassin's cruel knife descending over his defenceless head.

In May 1840, Lord William Russell, then a slight, frail
man, very deaf, lived alone ; his wife, Lady Charlotte Villiers,
daughter of the Earl of Jersey, had been dead thirty-three years,
and his two daughters were married, one to her cousin. Lord
Wriothesley Russell, and the other to the Hon. Grey Bennet,
son of Lord Tankerville ; but he had a son, Mr. William Russell,
a barrister, who always lived in London, and either he or his
wife, who had been one of the beautiful Miss Campbells of
Islay, and was a great favourite of Lord William, visited the
old gentleman every day without fail.

Lord William occupied No. 13 Norfolk Street, Park Lane,

^ Lord John Russell, K.C, created Earl Russell, was third son of the sixth Duke
of Bedford, by his first wife, the Hon. Gcorgiana Byng, daughter of the fourth
Viscount Torrington.






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Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 7 of 22)