Jan. 16, 1839.This London is socially a bewitching place. Last evening I first dined with Booth, a Chancery barrister; then went to Rogers's, where was a small party, —Mrs. Marcet, Mrs. Austin, Miss Martineau, Mr.Lyell and Mrs. Lyell, Mr.Wedgewood and Mrs. Wedgewood, Harness,1 and Milman. We talked and drank tea, and looked at the beautiful pictures, the original editions of Milton and Spenser, and listened to the old man eloquent (I say eloquent indeed); and so the time passed. This morning I spent chatting with Hayward about law, literature, and society; then walked with Whewell, and afterwards dined with Bellenden Ker.2 And the dinner! it is to be spoken of always. There was a small company: our host and his wife,—one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen; Courtenay,3 M. P., and his beautiful daughter; Eastlake, the accomplished artist; and Lord Brougham. Then the house was a little gem. It is in Regent's Park, removed from the bustle of town. The door-panels of the drawing-room are copies of some of the first masters; and the room is hung round with attractive paintings, and adorned with some of the finest curiosities of art. The dining-room is painted in imitation of a room of Pompeii. You may not know that Courtenay is the great epicure of London. His taste in matters of the table is reputed to be unerring, and his judgment of wines incontrovertible. With him a dinner is the putting in practice of a great science. I need not add, that the host and intimate friend of such a guest gave us a simple but choice dinner. My wonder at Brougham rises anew. To-night he has displayed the knowledge of the artist and the gastronomer. He criticised the ornaments of the drawing-room and the dining-room like a connoisseur, and discussed subtle points of cookery with the same earnestness with which he emancipated the West India slaves and abolished rotten boroughs. Calling for a second plate of soup, he said that there was ‘a thought too much of the flavor of wine;’ but that it was very good. He told how he secured good steaks, by personally going into the kitchen and watching over his cook, to see that he did not spoil them by pepper and horse-radish,—the last being enough to make a man go mad. I called his attention to the woodcock story, of which I have already written you, and he told me that the epigram which I have sent you under his Lordship's name was written by the Bishop of Durham, and that it was the best of all offered. The Marquis of Wellesley wrote a Latin one, of which he has promised to give me a copy; it is not, however, ‘lapidary,’ being too long. Brougham told me that his own Greek epigram was the worst of all. You will see an allusion to this story in a note in the last ‘Quarterly Review,’ to which I first called Chantrey's attention. I have spoken of Courtenay as the great gastronomer; I shall not neglect to add that he is as good a scholar as epicure. When we were speaking of Greek epigrams,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Chapter 16 : events at home.—Letters of friends.— December , 1837 , to March , 1839 .—Age 26 - 28 .
Chapter 17 : London again.—characters of judges.—Oxford.—Cambridge— November and December , 1838 .—Age, 27 .
Chapter 18 : Stratford-on-avon.—Warwick.—London.—Characters of judges and lawyers.—authors.—society.— January , 1839 , to March , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 19 : Paris again.— March to April , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 20 : Italy .— May to September , 1839 .—Age, 28 .
Chapter 21 : Germany .— October , 1839 , to March , 1840 .—Age, 28 - 29 .
Chapter 22 : England again, and the voyage home.— March 17 to May 3 , 1840 . —Age 29 .
Chapter 23 : return to his profession.— 1840 - 41 .—Age, 29 - 30 .
Chapter 24 : Slavery and the law of nations.— 1842 .—Age, 31 .
Chapter 25 : service for Crawford .—The Somers Mutiny.—The nation's duty as to slavery.— 1843 .—Age, 32 .
Chapter 27 : services for education.—prison discipline.—Correspondence.— January to July , 1845 .—age, 34 .
Chapter 28 : the city Oration,— the true grandeur of nations. —an argument against war.— July 4 , 1845 .—Age 34 .
2 H. Bellenden Ker was a conveyancer; was a friend of Lord Brougham, and passed the later years of his life at Cannes, in France, where he died, about 1870. Sumner was his guest at dinner on different occasions, at 27 Park Road, Regent's Park.
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