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The Berry papers; being the correspondence hitherto unpublished of Mary and Agnes Berry (1763-1852) online

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I have not the most distant guess without the aid of
the King's Decipherer, how you can possibly read this
most abominable scrawl. . . .

I am this moment returned from Sir Wm. Pitt, but
my hand shakes to that degree it is quite impossible for
me to write any more. I am really alarmed about my
wounded arm that I perceive grows every day consider-
ably weaker. Prepare yourself to be my Nurse. If
any thing can recover me, it will be thy tenderness and
solicitude. God bless and preserve you in the same
sentiments you now experience for your truly affection-
ate and sincere friend,


Tell me if you have been able (which I fear and
doubt) to decipher my letters. 3

1 General Sir William Augustus Pitt (1728-1809), Governor of Ports-
mouth, 1794-1809.

* General Sir Ralph Abercromby (1734-1801), who commanded the
expedition against the French in the West Indies, 1795-6.

3 Add. MSS. 37727, f- 229.


General O'Hara to the Hon. Mrs. Darner

PORTSMOUTH, Monday, November 9, 1795.

Your soothing care, and affectionate solicitude for
the dear Irresistable claims my utmost gratitude, and
plants you, my dearest friend, the most amiable as well
as the most interesting of women, in the inmost recesses
of my heart, where the dear Mary, seated en souveraine,
courts you to remain with her for ever ; there folded
in her arms, her throbbing breast pressed to yours, she
will thank you for us both in a language I believe on
my soul to you two alone on earth well understood.

In your letter now before me, you call upon and
urge me to heal the wound my repeated groundless
apprehensions have so deeply impressed on the too
susceptible mind of the dear Irresistable. Thinking of
me as I trust you do, you must know I do not require
entreaties to remedy the evils you are both determined
to conjure up and accuse me with having created. That
soothing, pleasing task was the purport of my yesterday's
letter to Mary, and I repeat to you what I observed to
her, that if that letter does not restore your confidence,
as well as hers, you are both deceived if you suppose
Mary's happiness depends on me and the sooner I am
forgot, for all our sakes, the better. I have desired
Mary to send you that letter, as well as that I wrote
her by this day's post. It is therefore unnecessary to
recapitulate what you will find in those letters.

I have received the letter you supposed the dear
Countess 1 would send me, which I very sincerely lament
I cannot answer this day's post, from the very weak
state of my arm, which I beg you will have the good-
ness to explain to her. God bless you. Ever affec-
tionately yours,


1 Caroline, Lady Aylesbury. * Add. MSS. 37727. 233.


The Hon. Mrs. Darner to Mary Berry

PARK PLACE, Wednesday , November n, 1795.

I did not mean to send you a letter till to-morrow,
but I cannot delay giving you the gratification I think
you will feel on reading the enclosed from dear O'Hfara].
It so affected me it must please you. What a Being he
is, and how unlike any other man ! except in those
qualities so few men dare be like him ! As a proof
that I do not forget your injunctions I must tell you
that I had gone but three or four times over O'H[ara]'s
letter this morning when a tap at my door obliged me
quickly to dry the tears that were still, I assure you,
fast trickling down my cheeks, and that I was not cross.
In came my Mother and I saw for business seated
herself comfortably by the fire, and said, " if I did not
very much dislike it " she would send for Copeland and
talk to him with me, as together what she had to say
might be better " enforced." This was in consequence
of what Mr. Hope had yesterday desired relative to the
Farm, &c. &c. Copeland is an old, obstinate, interested
crone, to say no more, determined to go on in his own
way in spite of Mr. Hope, as the latter told my Mother
in plain terms yesterday. I wish you had heard my
Mother " enforce " and insist. I could not in duty use
your expression of " three blue bears," but in more
respectful terms when he was gone I did just observe
she had not shown herself very absolute. But enough
of that for the present.

I am really not easy about O'H[ara]'s arm ; I trust
to God he is careful and has consulted properly about
it and what is to be done. The climate of Gibraltar will
do much, I trust. Would we were both now going
there to coddle him ! 'Tis the truth, and I will in-
dulge myself at least in the expressing a vain wish.


Was there ever anything like them! I mean the
puzzle about ships or some things (what, for the life, I
cannot decipher) that is to come to Portsmouth from
Plymouth !

It is walking time now and I must go. Heaven
bless you.

i o'clock. The wind continues North East and has
now been fair long enough, I believe, to have carried
one of "all" our fleets out, and O'H[ara] half way on
his passage. It is too provoking, and must vex him to
death. I must remark his never mentioning the storm :
the roaring winds must be most familiar to his ears, or,
as I rather think, he did not wish to dwell on what he
thought might at this moment be a subject of alarm to
you for his sake. He is not like many who try to
exaggerate their dangers to create an interest in any
case, which said creation and commonplace art has
about the same effect on your mind, I am convinced,
that it has on mine. I was kept in good humour yester-
day morning at least should have been put into good
humour had I been disposed to be otherwise by hearing
you praised. There is nothing they did not say here,
separately and together. You may laugh, but I am sure
it was what they felt, and not said for, or to me. Even
Louisa would have said something if she had known
how. Seriously, she was not, I think, by at the time ;
it was when we were walking. My Mother began by
saying (and she seemed to say it quite with pleasure)
that you "had made a conquest of Miss Jennings."
Then up came the Grim King and talked you over in
his softest tone.

In the evening I was in that half-oppressed state,
partly perhaps from the cold, that gives me an uncon-
querable disposition to gape at every instant, and the
Grim King was as uncomfortable in his way, tho'
without a shadow of crossness, first half asleep in a
chair by the fire, and then talking to Louisa. I stuck


to the card table, where I was wanted, and Miss Jen-
nings scratched her right temple and beat me every

I wish you could have stayed at least a day or
two longer here, that we might have talked over these
letters of dear O'H[ara] together, for you well know
no pleasure, no gratification, can be half enjoyed by
me without you, and then my heart almost opens to
a degree of hope that was for ever from my most
distant expectation, tho' I felt sure of the reflected
comfort I should feel from any happyness you might

Farewell, for I will write a few lines to O'H[ara].
You may keep the letter I enclose, but I must have it
again when we meet. It is the picture of a mind I
admire and love, and I shall not part with it. I would
part with it only to you, and you have other copies.
Heaven bless you. 1

So O'Hara sailed for Gibraltar, and took up his new
position, which he held with distinction until his death
on February 21, 1802. " Old Cock of the Rock," he was
affectionately dubbed by the soldiers of the garrison, and
there is an interesting pen-portrait of him in Captain
Thomas Hamilton's novel, The Youth and Manhood of
Cyril Thornton, of which an extract may here be given,
since perhaps it explains the attraction that he at the
age of fifty-six had for a woman three-and-twenty years
his junior. " His appearance, indeed, was of that striking
cast, which, when once seen, is not easily forgotten,"
Hamilton wrote : "General O'Hara was the most per-
fect specimen I ever saw, of the soldier and courtier of
the last age, and in his youth had fought with Granby

1 Add. MSS. 37727, f- 235.



and Ligonier. One could have sworn to it by his an
and look nay, by the very cut of his coat that double
row of sausage curls that projected on either flank of
his toupee or the fashion of the huge military boots
which rivalled in size, and far outshone in lustre, those
of a Dutch fisherman or French postillion. Never had
he changed for a more modern covering the Keven-
hiiller hat, which had been the fashion of his youth.
There it was, in shape precisely that of an equilateral
triangle, placed with mathematical precision on the
head, somewhat elevated behind, and sloping in an
unvarying angle downwards to the eyes, surmounted
by a long stiff feather rising from a large rosette of
black ribbon on the dexter side. This was the last of
the Kevenhiillers ; it died, and was buried with the
Governor, for no specimen has since been discovered,
and the Kevenhuller hat, like the Mammoth and the
Mastodon, has become extinct for ever." 1

Mary Berry stayed in England, looking forward
eagerly to the day that would for ever bring them
together. Such pleasure as she might have found in
this marriage was not, however, to be hers. O'Hara
was a lover of the sex, and the last man in the world
to subsist on a platonic attachment. At Gibraltar he
formed connections with two women, by each of whom
he had a family, and he soon ceased to care for the
woman he had wished to make his wife. Mary Berry
certainly had herself to blame for the result, though
probably it was best for her that the love-affair ended
as it did. O'Hara is perhaps not to be blamed for

1 Cyril Thornton (2nd ed.), ii. M7- The description of O'Hara, however,
is at second-hand, for Captain Hamilton, who was born in 1789, never
saw him.


feeling aggrieved that his fiancee put the feelings of
others before consideration for him. She would not
marry him when he urged her, because she would not
hurt Horace Walpole, because she would not leave her
father and her sister, to the happiness of each of whom
she regarded herself as indispensable. A lover might be
forgiven for taking the view that he should first be con-
sidered. The end of the story is best told by the letters
that passed between them.

Mary Berry to General O'Hara

[Undated, circa January 1796],

Setting to work with a pen, ink and paper and
an Arithmetic upon the plan of life you at first pro-
posed, my dear friend, I find, as indeed I told you at
the time, that it would cost much more than you had
any idea of, and much more even than the funds of
which you then supposed yourself possessed. But upon
a smaller scale (on the accuracy of which from my ex-
perience in my father's house I think you may depend)
I have made out a plan which, I am persuaded, includes
every comfort necessary to a small establishment in
London upon the only footing that you and I should
like any establishment that of order and regular ex-
pence, not of pinching economy and pitiful savings of
which I am as incapable as yourself, c'est tout dire. You
who are perfectly unacquainted with the details of an
Establishment in this town, will, I daresay, be astonished
at the expence of every article. I have taken them up
at their present high price, and made such a liberal
allowance upon most of them that I think we should
never exceed and might sometimes be within the mark ;


but upon a less sum, that is to say, at less than the rate
of this sum per annum, I don't think you could possibly
live comfortably to yourself in London. I mean seeing
agreeably all those friends who should prefer a neat
plain dinner or supper, and our agreeable society to a
French Cook and dull company. You will see I have
cut off all your extravagancies, your Saddle Horses, your
separate carriage, and one of your Men-Servants ; and
yet I have not reduced my calculation within the limits
you prescribed ; but I have to observe that our expences
whether we were in the Kingdom of Gibraltar, visiting
the Pyramids, or on any other travelling scheme whatso-
ever would everywhere be considerably less than estab-
lished in London, and that whenever you find such
establishment inconvenient or imprudent, I shall be the
person most eager to break it up and most willing to
accompany you to any other part of the Globe. I
must tell you, too, that upon my father's talking to
me upon the subject of affairs, which he has done
since we parted, I find him quite unwilling that I
should be a burthen to you, and determined that
every thing I can have from him shall belong to
you as soon as I do myself. Enough upon the sub-
ject of money, on which I know we both think
much alike. I am aware of all its advantages, take
all it procures, and know how little it can be done
without ; but the more or the less never made happi-
ness, and when weighed against the real satisfactions
of the heart is not (even to the sober eye of reason)
a feather in the scale.


s. d.
One pair of Job Horses inclusive of coachman's

wages for 8 months of the year . . . 125 o o

Annual repairs to Carriage about . . . 25 o o

Two Men Servants at 20 apiece . . . 40 o o

An Upper Man at the wages of . . . 5500


s. d.

Wages of 4 Women Servants, a Housekeeper, a
Cook under her, a House maid and Lady's

maid . . . . . . . . 58 o o

Liveries for the 3 Men Servants and the Coach-
man .... .... 80 o o

House rent and taxes 200 o o

Coals . . . . . . . . . 50 o o

Candles 25 o o

Beer 25 o o

Wine 100 o o

Housekeeping, at the rate of ^10 a week or .40

a month 480 o o

^1263 o o

To you ; . '''.' . 800 o o

To me 200 o o

.2263 o o 1

General O'Hara to the Hon. Mrs. Darner

GIBRALTAR, April 26, 1 796.

When you have seen my letter to your friend, you
will understand for what reason I complain of the very
extraordinary treatment I have received from you both,
and how very sensibly I am affected by it, par-
ticularly from you, who I love with the warmest, most
cordial affection, not only for your own uncommon
excellencies, but because you are the Daughter of the
two people upon Earth to whom I feel the most obliged
for the affectionate countenance and protection upon
which my good fortune and pride has been built.
Farewell. 2

1 Add. MSS. 37727, f. 269. fb., f. 238.


Mary Berry to Gen. O'Hara

April 27 [1796].

All my doubts are at an end. You have at last
thought fit to speak a language which no prepossession
can mistake, nor no indulgence palliate. I have now re-
ceived your letters of the 26th February and 3oth March,
and Mrs. D[amer] your letter of the yth March. Make
yourself perfectly easy. Your having " consented to
become my Husband " as you are pleased to express your-
self to Mrs. D[amer] will entail none of the evils you
so much dread.

My last letter of the 4th April will have shown you
my unwillingness to believe and my determination not
to admit, the only interpretation your long silences and
the very improper style of your letters could bear, till
sanctioned by yourself. That sanction you have at last
fully and completely given in two letters whose least
faults are their being a farrago of inconsistencies and
contradictions, both with regard to me and yourself. They
are expressed in terms which I believe were never before
used to any Gentlewoman, not to say to any woman of
common sense and common spirit. They have, however,
completely done their business, yet so persuaded have
you chosen to be (from what part of my character I am
perfectly at a loss to guess) that, whatever your conduct,
/ am determined to marry you, that I fancy you will
hardly now believe your own eyes or my assertions.
You desire me to be explicit and to be serious (as if /
had ever been otherwise) but I shall now be explicit in
your own words, which as they are generally very extra-
ordinary ones, may perhaps (to yourself) be clearer than
any others. I do then " indeed suppose, and verily believe
that you have recourse to a thousand falsehoods and imagin-
ary apprehensions merely as a cover to disguise the real
cause, your having altered your mind and not meaning to


marry," Your letter to Mrs. D. confirms this to me,
nay, owns the change in your sentiments in express
terms. And, on the other hand, even supposing your
intentions with regard to marriage were not really
altered, then your conduct towards me for these last six
months has been such as " justly to have forfeited my good
opinion with all its inevitable consequences, my affection
and esteem."

My frank, open, honourable nature would have pre-
ferred and given you credit for a more immediate, a more
decided and a more Gentlemanlike avowal of a change in
your sentiments ; it would have spared me many months
of cruel anxiety, and when I had ceased to consider you as
a Lover, your character would to me have remained in-
violate as a friend. You have chosen it otherwise ; so
fare you well, and if ever in future you feel the want or
require the comfort of a sincere, intelligent, affectionate
friend, remember the pains you took to eradicate senti-
ments which you will then no longer mistrust and of
which no power on earth but yourself could have
robbed you. Farewell.

April 2th.

Since writing the above, I have seen your friend,
Mr. Barnes, who delivered me your letter of the 2oth
March, and I have since received your letters of the
27th. They are all of a piece with the unwarrant-
able and unprovoked language of the other two, but a
hundred such letters would now have no other effect
upon me than confirming my indifference to their
opinions of myself, and my pity for their wrong-headed
writer, who, under the mask of exaggerated ideas of
honour and justice, is perhaps not aware he is guilty of
a flagrant breach of both. In your letter of the ayth
March you talk to me of keeping you in doubt and un-
certainty to me who, till the receipt of your last letters,
had no more doubt of becoming your wife than she has


now of having nothing more to do with the man who
can bargain for tyranny beforehand, and would accept
of that Being for his Wife who he found would patiently
submit to ill-treatment.

Mr. Barnes will give you his own opinion of your
conduct. His distress at it was visible on his counte-
nance. It is at his earnest request that I have not sent
this letter by to-day's post, and indeed I should be
sorry that you supposed it the hasty effusions of anger,
instead of the calm resolutions of a suffering injured
and determined mind. Farewell.

P.S. I should not have taken notice of your writing
a letter to Mr. Barnes by the hand of a Secretary, in
which my name at full length, and the proposed con-
nexion is talked of, if you had not thought fit to accuse
me of having mentioned what time has proved the
propriety of concealing. On my side I am certain it
has not been betrayed ; you best know if, after the
fact I have mentioned, you can say as much on yours. 1

The Hon. Mrs. Darner to General O'Hara


You have no "sermons," be assured, to fear from
me. A few words will be sufficient to answer the part
of your letter which relates to myself, and, as you have
made it useless, I shall certainly not trouble you further
with my sentiments on your conduct to my friend.
She must judge, decide, and speak for herself, and I
thank Heaven ! that blended with tenderness and
affection she has a force of mind, rarely indeed united
in the same character, which will enable her to do so in a
manner that can leave her no regret as to her own
decision. As to myself, my real and sincere friendship

1 Add. MSS. 37727, f. 272.


for you was founded on an opinion of your character
a compound, as I thought, of honour, sincerity and
affection, which your conduct for these five months
passed has proved so very erroneous, it is impossible
that friendship can as formerly subsist. Not that I
shall ever be blind to your merits, or what I still believe
in, the natural goodness of your heart, but so corrupted
are your sentiments and opinions, I suppose by bad
habits and a bad world, that they are in fact scarcely,
and I am sure in this occasion not at all, to be traced.
When we parted (Oct. 28th), all doubts, scruples and
fears, in appearance, were banished from your breast ;
your confidence in me at the time seemed such as
would have engaged you to express them, had any
remained respecting my friend and your future con-
nection : all, in short, was settled relative to your
marriage but the mode and means of your meeting.
No new difficultys have arisen, no change on her side,
to my certain knowledge, had taken place. On April
the 27th I received your letter of the 7th March, the
first addressed to me since your departure. On this
letter I shall make no comments ; but lest you should
have forgotten its contents, as a justification of what
I have said I enclose you one of triplicates you sent
me. Farewell.


Mary Berry to General O'Hara

TWICK[ENHA]M, fuly 16, 1796.

Alas, my dear friend, how have you trifled and
doubted away both your own happiness and mine ! I
have this moment received your letter of the 2oth June.

The high opinion, the confidence and the affection
which you know I have so long had for you when

1 Add. MSS. 37727, f. 239.


considering you merely in the light of a friend, still
assures me that what you say in your letter is strictly
true or at least what you believe to be so. And as
far as I am able to comprehend your real meaning
and wishes from your letter ; it is this : That your
intentions with regard to me have never altered, but
(to use your own words) " when separation gave you time
to reflect and, see what would be probably the result of our
marriage considered on the serious side," such doubts and
fears of our mutual happiness arose in your mind as
you thought necessary to communicate to me. Re-
member it is not of this I complain : on the contrary,
you know my principal reason for objecting to our
marriage before you left England was that it might
be sanctioned by reflexion, but the moment that reflexion
made it appear to you in a different light, the moment
such doubts and fears took possession of your mind,
that moment you should have decidedly and openly
owned your altered feelings, instead of only starting
injurious doubts which your always making to originate
in my sentiments instead of your own, together with
the frequent levity of your style, have alone thus
long deceived me both as to your conduct and your
real wishes. My constitution and character does not
like yours (l urge and press me on with Giant steps upon
every occasion." On the contrary, obliged from my
earliest youth not only to think for myself, but to
think for those who ought to have thought for me,
I have learnt to make Giant steps in nothing but
thoughtfulness and precaution. Ihad given the subject
of our union my most serious consideration in every
point of view in which / could place it, before I agreed
to it, and before we parted. No separation would then
have made any difference in my opinion till I was
convinced it had altered yours, but the instant this
was the case to have concealed it from me would
have been treachery to my all-confiding affection and


sacrificing every real principle of honour to a Phantom
that would have made us both miserable. All I have
to complain of is that you did not sooner explain
yourself in clearer and less offensive language, and
not continue for months together writing to the Being
who, by your own account, you still continued to
love, letters whose style, arguments, and general import
deceived not only my partial judgement but that of
my friend (interested in nothing so much as me and
yourself), that of my Father, that of my Sister, and that
of the sober head of your friend, Mr. Barnes, whose
letters to you (which he showed me) must surely have
convinced you, if anything could, of the extreme im-
propriety and cruelty of your letters to a woman you
still loved, respected, and intended to become your
wife. Can you possibly think that so many people, all
warmly partial to you, should unite in wilfully misunder-
standing and misconstruing your letters, if they had
been in any respect such as reason and affection should
have dictated to a person in my situation, at such a
distance, and who always addressed you with the perfect,

Online LibraryLewis MelvilleThe Berry papers; being the correspondence hitherto unpublished of Mary and Agnes Berry (1763-1852) → online text (page 15 of 38)