« PreviousContinue »
erected the little Gothic building, which I got Mr. Bentley to draw; I took the idea from Chichester-cross. It stands on a high bank in the menagerie, between a pond and a vale, totally bowered over with oaks. I went with the Straffords to Chatsworth, and staid there four days; there were lady Mary Coke, lord Besborough and his daughters, lord Thomond, Mr. Bonfoy, the duke, the old duchess, and two of his brothers. Would
you believe that nothing was ever better humoured than the ancient grace? She staid every evening till it was dark in the skittleground, keeping the score; and one night, that the servants had a ball for lady Dorothy's5 birth-day, we fetched the fiddler into the drawing-room, and the dowager herself danced with us!
I never was more disappointed than at Chatsworth, which, ever since I was born, I have condemned. It is a glorious situation; the vale rich in corn and verdure, vast woods hang down the hills, which are green to the top, and the immense rocks only serve to dignify the prospect. The river runs before the door, and serpentizes more than you can conceive in the vale. The duke is widening it, and will make it the middle of his park; but I don't approve an idea they are going to execute, of a fine bridge with statues under a noble cliff. If they will have a bridge (which by the way will crowd the scene), it should be composed of rude fragments, such as the giant of the Peak would step upon, that he might not be wet-shod. The expense of the works now carrying on will amount to forty thousand pounds. A heavy quadrangle of stables is part of the plan, is very cumberous, and standing higher than the house, is ready to overwhelm it. The principal front of the house is beautiful, and executed with the neatness of wrought-plate: the inside is most sumptous, but did not please me; the heathen gods, goddesses, Christian virtues, and allegoric gentlefolks, are crowded into every room, as if Mrs. Holman had been in heaven and invited every body she
The great apartment is first; painted ceilings, inlaid floors, and unpainted wainscots make every room sombre. The tapestries are fine, but not fine enough, and there are few portraits. The chapel is charming. The great jet d'eau I like,
+ Daughter of John Hoskins, Esq., and widow of William, the third duke of Devonshire. (Or.]
5 Afterwards duchess of Portland. [Ed.]
nor would I remove it; whatever is magnificent of the kind in the time it was done, I would retain, else all gardens and houses wear a tiresome resemblance. I except that absurdity of a cascade tumbling down marble steps, which reduces the steps to be of no use at all.
I saw Haddon, an abandoned old castle of the Rutlands, in a romantic situation, but which never could have composed a tolerable dwelling. The duke sent lord John with me to Hardwicke, where I was again disappointed ; but I will not take relations from others; they either don't see for themselves, or can't see for me. How I had been promised that I should be charmed with Hardwicke, and told that the Devonshires ought to have established there! never was I less charmed in my life. The house is not Gothic, but of that betweenity, that intervened when Gothic declined and Palladian was creeping in -rather, this is totally naked of either. It has vast chambers-ay, vast, such as the nobility of that time delighted in, and did not know how to furnish. The great apartment is exactly what it was when the queen of Scots was kept there. Her councilchamber, the council-chamber of a poor woman, who had only two secretaries, a gentleman-usher, an apothecary, a confessor, and three maids, is so outrageously spacious, that you would take it for king David's, who thought, contrary to all modern experience, that in the multitude of counsellors there is wisdom At the upper end is the state, with a long table, covered with a sumptuous cloth, embroidered and embossed with gold,-at least what was gold; so are all the tables. Round the top of the chamber runs a monstrous frieze, ten or twelve feet deep, representing staghunting in miserable plastered relief. The next is her dressingroom, hung with patch-work on black velvet; then her state bed-chamber. The bed has been rich beyond description, and now hangs in costly golden tatters. The hangings, part of which they say her majesty worked, are composed of figures as large as life, sewed and embroidered on black velvet, white satin, &c. and represent the virtues that were necessary for her, or that she was forced to have; as patience and temperance, &c. The fire
6 It was anciently the seat of the Vernons, some of whom were members of Parliament for this country as early as Edward III. Sir George Vernon in Queen Elizabeth's time was styled “King of the Peak," and the property came into the Manners' family by his daughter marrying Thomas, son of the first earl of Rutland. (Ed.]
screens are particular; pieces of yellow velvet fringed with gold, hang on a cross bar of wood, which is fixed on the top of a single stick, that rises from the foot. The only furniture which has any appearance of taste are the table and cabinets, which are all of oak, richly carved. There is a private chamber within, where she lay, her arms and style over the door : the arras hangs over all the doors; the gallery is sixty yards long, covered with bad tapestry, and wretched pictures of Mary herself, Elizabeth in a gown of sea monsters, lord Darnley, James the fifth and his queen, curious, and a whole history of kings of England, not worth sixpence a-piece. There is an original of old Bess? of Hardwicke herself, who built the house. Her estates were then reckoned at sixty thousand pounds a-year, and now let for two hundred thousand pounds. Lord John Cavendish told me, that the tradition in the family is, that it had been prophesied to her that she should never die as long as she was building; and that at last she died in a hard frost, when the labourers could not work. There is a fine bank of old oaks in the park over a lake; nothing else pleased me there. However, I was so diverted with this old beldam and her magnificence, that I made this epitaph for her:
Four times the nuptial bed she warm’d,
7 She was the daughter of John Hardwicke, of Hardwicke in Derbyshire. Her first husband was Robert Barley, esq. who settled his large estate on her and her heirs. She married, secondly, sir William Cavendish; her third husband was sir William St. Lo; and her fourth was George Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, whose daughter, lady Grace, married her son by sir William Cavendish. [Or.]
Her children by Sir William Cavendish, were, 1. Henry, married to lady
As I returned, I saw Newsteade and Althorpe: I like both. The former is the very abbey. The great east window of the church remains, and connects with the house; the hall entire, the refectory entire, the cloister untouched, with the ancient cistern of the convent, and their arms on it; a private chapel quite perfect. The park, which is still charming, has not been so much profaned; the present lord has lost large sums, and paid part in old oaks, five thousand pounds of which have been cut near the house. In recompense he has built two baby forts, to pay his country in castles for the damage done to the navy, and planted a handful of Scotch firs, that look like ploughboys dressed in old family liveries for a public day. In the hall is a very good collection of pictures, all animals; the refectory, now the great drawing-room, is full of Byrons; the vaulted roof remaining, but the windows have new dresses making for them by a Venetian tailor. Althorpeo has several very fine pictures by the best Italian hands, and a gallery of all one's acquaintance by Vandyke and Lely. I wonder you never saw it; it is but six miles from Northampton. Well, good night; I have writ you such a volume, that you see I am forced to page it. The duke has had a stroke of the palsy, but is quite recovered, except in some letters, which he cannot pronounce; and it is still visible in the contraction of one side of his mouth. My compliments to your family.
Yours ever. Grace Talbot, daughter of George, earl of Shrewsbury, but who died without issue in 1616. 2. William, who was created baron Cavendish of Hardwick, county of Derby, May 4, 1605. He was one of the first adventurers who planted colonies in Virginia and in the Island of Bermuda : in 1616, by the death of his elder brother, Henry, whom he succeeded in the whole of his estates, he obtained a large increase to his already considerable fortune; and in 1618 was created earl of Devonshire. 3. Sir Charles Cavendish, of Welbeck Abbey, county of Nottingham, whose son William, by his second wife, Catherine baroness Ogle, was created in 1664 earl of Ogle and duke of New
8 Since invested with far deeper interest as the residence of Byron, who has described it in the thirteenth canto of his Don Juan, as
• An old old monastery once, and now
Still older mansion.' 9 The seat of earl Spencer. Dr. T. F. Dibdin's splendidly illustrated work ' Ædes Althorpiana,' is devoted to an account of the treasures of art here garnered by the taste of the late earl. [Ed.]
To the EARL OF STRAFFORD.
Strawberry-hill, September 4, 1760.
MY DEAR LORD,
You ordered me to tell you how I liked Hardwicke. To say the truth, not exceedingly. The bank of oaks over the ponds is fine, and the vast lawn behind the house : I saw nothing else that is superior to the common run of parks. For the house, it did not please me at all; there is no grace, no ornament, no Gothic in it. I was glad to see the style of furniture of that age; and my imagination helped me to like the apartment of the queen
of Scots. Had it been the chateau of a duchess of Brunswick, on which they exhausted the revenues of some centuries, I don't think I should have admired it at all. In short, Hardwicke disappointed me as much as Chatsworth surpassed my expectation. There is a richness and vivacity of prospect in the latter; in the former, nothing but triste grandeur.
Newstead delighted me. There is grace and Gothic indeed good chambers and a comfortable house. The monks formerly were the only sensible people that had really good mansions. I saw Althorpe too, and liked it very well: the pictures are fine. In the gallery I found myself quite at home; and surprised the housekeeper by my familiarity with the portraits.
I hope you have read prince Ferdinand's Thanksgiving, where he made out a victory by the excess of his praises. I supped at Mr. Conway's t'other night with Miss West', and we diverted ourselves with the encomiums on her colonel Johnson”. Lady Ailesbury told her, that to be sure next winter she would burn nothing but laurel fagots. Don't you like prince Ferdinand's being so tired with thanking, that at last he is forced to turn God over to be thanked by the officers ?
In London, there is a more cruel campaign than that waged by the Russians: the streets are a very picture of the murder of
1 Eldest daughter of John (afterwards) earl of De la Warre. [Or.] 2 The late general James Johnston. [Or.]