betrayed by the frankness of his manner into saying the rudest thing I have to my knowledge uttered in England. Brougham asked me the meaning and etymology of the word ‘caucus.’ I told him that it was difficult to assign any etymology that was satisfactory; but the most approved one referred its origin to the very town where Lord Lyndhurst was born, and to the very period of his birth,—in this remark alluding to his age, which I was not justified in doing, especially as he wears a chestnut wig. Lord Brougham at once stopped me. ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘we know what period you refer to,—about 1798.’ ‘Somewhere in the latter part of that century,’ I replied, anxious to get out of the scrape as well as I could by such a generality. I was gratified by Lyndhurst's calling upon me a few days afterwards, because it showed that he had not been disturbed by my unintentional impertinence. The style of intercourse between Lyndhurst and Brougham, these two ex-Chancellors, was delightful. It was entirely familiar. ‘Copley, a glass of wine with you.’ He always called him ‘Copley.’ And pointing out an exquisite gold cup in the centre of the table, he said: ‘Copley, see what you would have had if you had supported the Reform Bill.’ It was a cup given to Lord Brougham by a penny subscription of the people of England. It was very amusing to hear them both join in abuse of O'Connell, while Charles Phillips entertained us with his Irish reminiscences of the ‘Agitator,’ and of his many barefaced lies. ‘A damned rascal,’ said Lyndhurst, while Brougham echoed the phrase, and did not let it lose an added epithet. This dinner was on Sunday. On the next Sunday I was invited by Lady Blessington1 to meet these same persons; but I was engaged to dine at Lord Wharncliffe's, and so did not get to her Ladyship's till about eleven o'clock. As I entered her brilliant drawing-room, she came forward to receive me with that bewitching manner and skilful flattery which still give her such influence. ‘Ah, Mr. Sumner,’ said she, ‘how sorry I am that you are so late! Two of your friends have just left us,—Lord Lyndhurst and Lord Brougham; they have been pronouncing your éloge.’ She was, of course, the only lady present; and she was surrounded by D'Orsay, Bulwer, Disraeli, Duncombe, the Prince Napoleon, and two or three lords— Her house is a palace of Armida, about two miles from town. It once belonged to Wilberforce. The rooms are furnished in the most brilliant French style, and flame with costly silks, mirrored doors, bright lights, and golden ornaments. But Lady Blessington is the chief ornament. The world says she is about fifty-eight; by her own confession she must be over fifty, and yet she seems hardly forty: at times I might believe her twenty-five. She was dressed with the greatest care and richness. Her conversation was various, elegant, and sparkling, with here and there a freedom which seemed to mark her intercourse as confined to men. She has spoken with me on a former occasion about Willis, whom she still likes. She would have been happy to continue to invite him to her house, but she could
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 .
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