Sunday, March 19, 2006

Diary of Lady Shelburne - 9th Post:

This is the ninth blog post from the diary of Lady Shelburne. There are links to the others in the right-hand panel. As before, the entries come from the Fitzmaurice biography: Life of William, Earl of Shelburne, Afterwards First Marquess of Lansdowne, by Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice (London, Macmillan and Co. 1912) 2 Volumes.
July 19th, 1768. [appears out of order in Fitzmaurice biography] My Lord's business calling him to town, he left me very early this morning with no other company to supply his place than my dear little boy, who after the solitude of the first day was past, has done it better than could have been imagined. I spend my time as follows: At eight I rise, dress and take the child without his nurse one turn round the shrubbery before breakfast. Immediately after, I go out with him again till a little after eleven, when he sleeps. I then read my chapters in my blue dressing room below stairs, and from that time till two, the Mémoires de Mlle de Montpensier; then go to see Lord Fitzmaurice dine, and teach him afterwards to spell words, till it is time to dress for my own dinner; after which I have twice taken the air, or walk'd with him, and amused myself in planting Chinese seeds, which Mr. Sulivan gave me, in pots for the hothouse, and after working some of my Paris net trimming, and seeing the child put to bed, walk in the shrubbery till nine o'clock, and then come in and read the Adventurer, or Les Caractères de la Bruyère till supper. I have seen none of my neighbours since my Lord went. My greatest amusement has, therefore, been receiving two very kind letters from my Lord by Thursday and Saturday's posts.

September 26th [1768]. My Lord returned (to Bowood) and brought with him Mr. Hume; they read office papers together in the evening while we drew and worked.

November 25th. This morning I had christened, at St. George's Church, a little negro boy of five years old, that was given me by Mr. Richard Wells on Friday last, by the names of Thomas Coulican Phoenix; the latter he had been called after the ship he was brought in. He is pretty and very good humoured, and I hope by proper care will turn out well.

Christmas Day. I could no longer delay the pleasure I proposed, in giving my watch to my Lord, and accordingly produced it at breakfast, when he was vastly pleased with it, and did me the honour to accept it. Here he remained till Sunday, January the third, and in the course of that time walked out very constantly till Thursday the last of December, when a fall of snow like that of the preceding year began. Our visitors in the course of that time were Lord Clare and Sir William Codrington, Sir John Hort, Mr. Parker, Mr. Fitzmaurice, Mr. Dunning, Mr. Townshend, Mr. Radcliffe, and Col. Barré, besides ourselves, and now and then an accidental visit from our country neighbours, Dr. Rolt, Mr. Daniel Bull, &c. The intense cold killed in one night our poor ourangoutang, or man of the wood, and possibly in some measure hastened the death of old Mr. Bull, which is a serious loss to Lord Shelburne, he being a most faithful, able, and zealous agent.

Some notes on people, places, and events mentioned in these diary entries.

Mémoires de Mlle de Montpensier. The Mémoires De Mlle De Montpensier, covered much of the reign of Louis XIV in France. The duchesse de Montpensier, also called "la grande Mademoiselle," was a member of the French royal family who, amazingly, had a military career in the middle of the 17th century which included capture of Orléans and command of the Bastille. The Wikipedia article on her says:
On July 2, 1652, the day of the battle of the Faubourg Saint Antoine, between the Frondeurs under Condé and the royal troops under Turenne, Mademoiselle saved Condé and his beaten troops by giving orders for the gates under her control to be opened and for the cannon of the Bastille to fire on the royalists. In the heat of the émeute which followed she installed herself in the Hôtel de Ville, and played the part of mediatrix between the opposed parties.
la grande Mademoiselle {click to enlarge}

Lord Fitzmaurice. Sophie's son was then 3 and a half years old.

Chinese seeds, which Mr. Sulivan gave me. Chinese plants might have been of interest because of the publication in 1750 of Story of the Stone, by Cao Xuequin, a novel having descriptions of Chinese gardens.

Walk in the shrubbery. The Shelburne estate at Bowood was impressive. The grounds and gardens, designed by Capability Brown, included a walled garden with rare trees and pleasure grounds. It's probably to these that Sophie refers.

The Adventurer. This was a periodical by John Hawkesworth, published as a bi-weekly successor to The Rambler. See and

The Les Caractères de la Bruyère were observations of society, a 17th-century satire of the court, of the nobility, clergy, and even of King Louis XIV himself. The book is the subject of a TV documentary by Eric Rohmer (1965).

Mr. Hume. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 2nd Post.

Richard Wells. It's just possible that this was Richard Wells of Virginia.

Thomas Coulican Phoenix. I've found nothing about this boy or the ship after which he was named.

Lord Clare. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 5th Post.

Sir William Coddrington. I don't know more about him than is given in this family tree: Sir William Codrington.

Sir John Hort. He was a cousin. About him the Fitzmaurice biography gives an interesting anecdote. Shelburne's aunt, Lady Arabella Fitzmaurice, left her chamber clock to Hort (her nephew) because "he values time and makes good use of it." (i, 5). The Hort family had close ties to the Shelburnes. Shelburne left an autobiographical fragment which Fitzmaurice prints saying that the father of Sir John Hort, who was handsome and well-mannered, "made himself acceptable to some of the first ladies in London." Shelburne made Hort a baronet and consul-general to Lisbon. (i, 12)

Mr. Parker. A Master Parker is a student at Eton in the entry given in the 2nd Post. This may be his father.

Mr. Fitzmaurice. You can tell by the name that this is a relative; otherwise not identified.

Mr. Dunning. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 2nd Post.

Mr. Townshend. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 3rd Post.

Mr. Radcliffe. Not identified

Col. Barré. See Diary of Lady Shelburne 3rd Post.

Our country neighbours, Dr. Rolt, Mr. Daniel Bull, &c. Not identified.

Our poor ourangoutang. The Shelburnes kept a menagerie for exotic animals designed by Robert Adam. Wikipedia says: "He furnished Bowood ... with superb collections of paintings and classical sculpture, and commissioned Robert Adam to decorate the grander rooms in Bowood and to add a magnificent orangery, as well as a small menagerie for wild animals where a leopard and an orangutan were kept in the 18th century."

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