Sunday, February 12, 2006

Diary of Lady Shelburne - 3rd Post

This is the third set of entries from the diary of Lady Shelburne, written in 1766-69. Other posts in this series are listed in the panel at the right. As before, the entries come from the Fitzmaurice biography of the Earl of Shelburne.

They span 10 days during the first half of January, 1766, and were written just 11 months after Sophia's wedding. She was now 20 years old. Her husband, Lord Shelburne, was eight years older and politically ambitious. When she wrote this entry, he had recently refused to become President of the Board of Trade because he opposed the current government's policy of taxing the American colonists. In the coming year he would become Secretary of State for the Southern Department in the next ministry, that of William Pitt. There's a useful timeline of events of this time at the web site for a course called Resources for English Literary Studies at George Mason Univ.

Here's the set of entries:
January 4th [1766] - Lord Shelburne came up to me early and read some of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. We were particularly struck with his funeral oration to the surviving friends of the Athenians killed in the first war.

January 5th - Lord Shelburne came up to me soon after breakfast and read part of a sermon of Abernethy's. He was called away by company, and Mr. Townshend made me a visit whilst Mr. Dunning was with my Lord.

January 10th - Lady Louisa Fermor told us at breakfast a very genteel repartee of Mr. Greville's to the Duke of Gloucester, who was accusing Lady Waldegrave of affectation for pretending to be ill and looking so well, to which she answered that her's was such an apple face that it never looked sick. "What do you mean by an apple face?" says the Duke of Gloucester. Mr. Greville who stood next her, and saw her at a loss to explain it, answered for her, "A nonpareil, Sir." After breakfast Lord Shelburne lent me a little book called Le Siècle d'Alexandre and I saw him no more till dinner, to which came Colonel Barré. After it I received a short visit from Lady Mary Hume. When she was gone to her other engagements and Lady Louisa to Princess Amelia, Lord Shelburne, Colonel Barré, and Mr. Fitzmaurice came to me and staid till near nine, when the two last went to Northumberland House. We all supped together, and Lady Louisa told us Miss Emily Hervey had run away with Mr. Cope, brother to Mrs. Walker.

Sunday, January 12th - Lady Louisa went early to St. James's Chapel, and breakfasted with Lady Charlotte Finch. At our breakfast came Dr. Leigh, an American, and Mr. Taylor, who desired Lord Shelburne to assist the Petition he is to present to the House of Commons concerning the Wells election, which he declined on account of not choosing ever to interfere with the decisions of that House. After they were gone I went to see Lord Fitzmaurice, and at my return to my own room I found in it Lord Shelburne talking to a Mr. Case about the construction of pondheads, and desiring him to look at that Mr. Brown is constructing at Bowood on his way to Lord Egmont's, where he works. He went away and Lord Shelburne read me two sermons before he went out. Governor Vansittart, Mr. Sulivan, Colonel Barré, and Captain Howe dined here. Lady Juliana Penn call'd in the evening. The gentlemen came up to drink tea, and after it Lord Shelburne went out with them and returned to supper. In the meantime Lady Louisa entertained me with reading to me some former letters of Lady Anne Dawson's.

January 13th - Lord Shelburne read to us a paper concerning the Stamp Act in America. He afterwards rode with Colonel Barré and Mr. Townshend to see my Lord Bessborough's villa at Roehampton.

January 14th - Lord Dunmore breakfasted here, and went afterwards with Lord Shelburne to the new house in Berkeley Square, and from thence to the House of Lords, the Parliament meeting to-day. Lady Louisa Manners came to us, and Mr. Ehret to me, with whom I begun the Chinese plants that blew at Bowood this summer. Mr. Sulivan, Lady Louisa, and I dined alone, the House of Lords sitting late, and Lord Shelburne going after-wards to the House of Commons, where Mr. Pitt spoke on the repeal of the Stamp Act in America. The Duchess of Bolton, Miss Finches, and Miss Lowther, drank tea here, and Lady Louisa and I were gone to our rooms just as Lord Shelburne returned from Boodle's, where he supped.

Here are some notes on people and places mentioned in the diary entries. You can click images for enlargement.

Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War -
Sophie writes: "We were particularly struck with his funeral oration to the surviving friends of the Athenians killed in the first war."
          This is the oration by Pericles. It's given in full on a World Civ page at Washington State University. The site says:
At the end of the first year of war, the Athenians held, as was their custom, an elaborate funeral for all those killed in the war. The funeral oration over these dead was delivered by the brilliant and charismatic politician and general, Pericles, who perished a little bit later in the horrifying plague that decimated Athens the next year. The Funeral Oration is the classic statement of Athenian ideology, containing practically in full the patriotic sentiment felt by most Athenians.
Thucydides has Pericles say: "I have dwelt upon the greatness of Athens because I want to show you that we are contending for a higher prize than those who enjoy none of these privileges, and to establish by manifest proof the merit of these men whom I am now commemorating." And: "Make them your examples, and, esteeming courage to be freedom and freedom to be happiness, do not weigh too nicely the perils of war."
          England was at war on and off throughout the eighteenth century. At this time there was peace, but this was the time of the Stamp Act and conflict with the American colonies was abrewing. The references to freedom and happiness were somewhat prophetic. At this time, Sophie's husband, Shelburne, opposed the punitive acts of King George III and the Grenville government against the American colonists; he later opposed the British war policies when the rebellion began; and, still later, as peace negotiator, he tried to re-establish relations with the Americans while trying also to support the rights of American loyalists.

sermon of Abernethy's -
John Abernethy (1680–1740) was, like Shelburne, an Irish Protestant. He held that religious belief should be founded on reason and free choice, not the authority of church fathers or the appeal to emotions whether of exaltation or fear. He believed in tolerance for believers of all sects and supported campaigns to remove political and religious restrictions that had been imposed on dissenters.

Mr. Townshend. This was probably James Townshend, a political ally and friend of Shelburne's. He is described in the memoirs of the Earl of Albermarle:
The father, Chauncy Townshend, had all his life been devoted to the Court. The son, a man of independent fortune, ardent temperament and undaunted resolution, had embraced with much fervour the [radical, and thus anti-Court] cause of Wilkes. He was at this time member of West Looe [in Cornwall], was a friend and follower of Lord Shelburne, at whose house, in Berkeley Square, he was generally a guest during his stay in town. Although he was not a man of education, he possessed considerable talents and spoke in Parliament with much natural eloquence. "He was," says Beloe, "a firm and steadfast friend, and so tenacious of his promise, that he would leave the remotest part of the kingdom, and the most delightful society, to attend and give his vote at Guildhall though for the meanest individual and the humblest office. He was proud and tenacious of his dignity among the great, and of the most conciliatory affability with his inferiors. He would travel from one end of the kingdom to the other, with a small change of linen behind his saddle.
Memoirs of the Marquis of Rockingham and his contemporaries : with original letters and documents now first published by George Thomas, earl of Ablemarle, by George Thomas Keppel, Earl of Albemarle, London : Bentley, 1852, p. 95.

Mr. Dunning -
John Dunning, a member of the House of Commons, aligned himself with Shelburne and spoke there in favor of policies, such as repeal of the Stamp Act, which they both advocated. He would later become Baron Ashburton.

Lady Louisa Fermor -
It's typical of Sophie to write of her aunt using full name and rank. It doesn't seem to have been unusual, however, for many letter writers of the period do the same. Lady Louisa was one of Sophie's aunts. She stayed with Sophia quite frequently and often appears in the diary. Lady Louisa's connection to Princess Amelia was via Lady Charlotte Finch, the royal governess.

Mr. Greville -
Sophie may mean George Grenville (1712-1770), the previous prime minister, recently replaced by Rockingham. It was his government that introduced the Stamp Act to raise revenue. The names Grenville and Greville were associated: George Grenville's son became first Lord Greville.
          An alternative possibility: Charles Greville Montagu (1741-1783), elected to the House of Commons later that year and then sent to South Carolina as colonial governor. During the American Revolution he raised 400 troops among American prisoners of war to fight the Spanish. He was himself accused of refusing to fight Americans and he carried out a promise to the American prisoners that they would not fight their fellow countrymen. He and many of them settled in Nova Scotia after the war.

Lady Waldegrave -
Probably one of the three daughters of James Waldegrave, 2nd Earl of Waldegrave and Maria Walpole. Their names were Lady Elizabeth, Lady Charlotte, and Lady Anne.

Duke of Gloucester -
This was Prince William Henry, a son of the Prince of Wales and step-brother to the Waldegrave sisters.

Le Siècle d'Alexandre: not identified

Colonel Barré -
Isaac Barré was a political associate of Shelburne's, he was known for his eloquent speeches in the House of Commons. The previous year, he and Townshend spoke on opposite sides during debate on the Stamp Act. Townshend called the American colonists "children planted by our care, nourished up by our Indulgence until they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence" and said they should be happy to pay a tax to support the home government ("to contribute their mite to relieve us from heavy weight of the burden which we lie under"). In response, Barré said "They planted by your care? No! Your oppression planted ‘em in America. They fled from your tyranny to a then uncultivated and unhospitable country where, ... actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, compared with those they suffered in their own country, from the hands of those who should have been their friends. ... [T]hat same spirit of freedom which actuated that people at first, will accompany them still. ... The people I believe are as truly loyal as any subjects the king has, but a people jealous of their liberties and who will vindicate them if ever they should be violated; but the subject is too delicate and I will say no more." The National Portrait Gallery has a portrait of Shelburne and Barré together.

Mr. Fitzmaurice
This was Shelburne's brother, Thomas FitzMaurice (1742-1793).

Lady Mary Hume -
This may be the wife of John Hume, Bishop of Salisbury,

Northumberland House -
London residence of the Percy family, who were at this time the Earls of Northumberland. Its interiors were designed by Robert Adam.

Miss Emily Hervey, Mr. Cope, brother to Mrs. Walker: not identified

Lady Charlotte Finch -
As noted above, Lady Charlotte Finch, Sophie's aunt, was governess to the children of King George III. Her skills as an educator were highly regarded; there is a good article on her in the Dictionary of National Biography.

Dr. Leigh, an American, and Mr. Taylor, MP: not identified

Mr. Brown -
Lancelot (Capability) Brown was the best-known landscape architect of his time.

Governor Vansittart -
This is probably Henry Vansittart of India. He was governor of Fort William in Bengal during the five years preceding this diary entry.

Mr. Sulivan and Captain Howe: not identified

Lady Juliana Penn -
Sophia Margaret Juliana Penn was the daughter of Thomas Penn and grand-daughter of William Penn of Pennsylvania. She married a son of the famous author, Lady Mary Wortley-Montagu. She died in April 1847.

Lady Anne Dawson -
One of Sophie's aunts. See the first of my diary blog posts for a story about her.

my Lord Bessborough's villa at Roehampton -
The villa of Lord Bessborough at Roehampton was designed by Sir William Chambers who had become famous for the work he did at Kew Gardens for the princess of Wales.

new house at Berkeley Square -
At the time Sophie wrote, Shelburne was building a mansion in London on that square.

Lady Louisa Manners -
The Frick Gallery says Lady Louisa Manners was sister of the Earl of Dysart. The same age as Sophie, she married John Manners of Grantham in 1765. The portrait at right -- from the Frick -- is of Lady Louisa Manners.

Duchess of Bolton -
Half a year before Sophie wrote this diary entry Katherine Lowther became the Duchess of Bolton by marrying Admiral Harry Powlett, the 6th Duke.

The Miss Finches were related to Sophie's mother, hence cousins, I think.

Boodle's -
Boodles on St. James' in London began as a coffee house in 1762 and was known as a political club.

No comments: