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Although the kind treatment I received induced me to stay three years in London, whereas I had intended to pass but three months, the climate of that town seemed very melancholy to me. It even disagreed with my health, and I seized every opportunity to take a breath of pure air in the lovely vales and dales of England, where I could at least see some sunlight. I began, shortly after my arrival, by spending a fortnight with Mme. Chinnery at Gillwell, where I found the celebrated Viotti. The house was most luxurious, and I was given a charming welcome. On reaching the place I saw that the gate was garlanded with flowery wreaths twined about the pillars. On the staircase, similarly decorated, stood at intervals little marble cupids, holding vases filled with roses. In short, it was a springtime fairy pageant. So soon as I had entered the drawing-room, two little angels, Mme. Chinnery's son and daughter, sang a delicious piece of music to me, composed for me by that good-natured Viotti. I was truly touched by this affectionate greeting; indeed, the fortnight I spent at Gillwell were days of joy and gladness. Mme. Chinnery was a beautiful woman, with much mental subtlety and charm. Her daughter, then fourteen years of age, played the piano astonishingly, so that every evening this young girl, Viotti, and Mme. Chinnery, herself an excellent musician, gave us a delightful concert.

I recollect that my hostess's son, though yet a child, had a veritable passion for study. He could not be made to lay his books aside. When his hours of recreation came, and I told him to go out and play with his sister, he would reply, "I am playing." At the age of eighteen the young man had already earned so much credit that at the Restoration he was charged with reviewing all the accounts of the expenditure occasioned by the stay of the English army in France.

I was not tardy in making other excursions to the surroundings of London, and these excursions absorbed all the time I could spare for pleasure.

At Windsor, the royal residence, I admired only the park, which is very fine. The King enjoyed walking on a splendid terrace, whence a magnificent and extensive view is to be got. Hampton Court is another royal castle. Here I saw superb stained-glass windows, which are very old, and which I thought superior to any I had seen hitherto. I also found some grand pictures and some large cartoons, done by Raphael, which I could not admire enough. The cartoons were on the floor, so that I knelt before them such a long time that the custodian was surprised. In the galleries I was shown armour and weapons dating back to remote ages; then, in the gardens, gorgeous yellow rose-bushes, and finally a gigantic vine, enclosed in a hothouse, that in some year or other yielded 1,500 pounds of grapes.

I went with Prince Bariatinski and a few other Russians to pay a visit to the famous Doctor Herschel. This renowned astronomer lived in strict seclusion at some distance from London. His sister, who was always with him, aided him in his astronomical researches, and one was fully worthy of the other, both in learning and noble simplicity. Near the staircase we found a telescope almost large enough to walk about in. The Doctor greeted us with the warmest cordiality. He was obliging enough to let us see the sun through a dark glass, pointing out the two spots discernible upon it, one of which is considerable in size. At night he showed us the planet he had discovered that bears his name. We also inspected at his house a chart of the moon, very detailed, with the mountains, ravines and rivers represented which make that planet resemble the globe we inhabit. In fact, the whole stretch of our visit went by without a dull moment; my Russian companions, Adelaide and myself were all delighted with it.

One cannot speak about the environs of London without calling to mind several fine English watering-places.

Matlock, for instance, offers the precise aspect of a Swiss landscape. On one side of the promenade are highly effective rocks, grown with variegated shrubs, and on the other rich meadows. This English vegetation is truly lovely; it all presents an enchanting view to the eye of those who love nature's beauty. I remember following the bank of a stream so dainty and limpid that I could not tear myself away from it.

Tunbridge Wells, where one also takes the waters, is likewise a very picturesque place. It is true that although one may enjoy the morning rambles in the beautiful neighbourhood, in the evenings one is much wearied by the social gatherings, which are quite numerous. People came together for meals, and after supper, as after dinner, every one would rise and sing "God Save the King," a prayer for His Majesty, which moved me to tears through the sad comparison it prompted me to make between England and France.

Brighton was still better known than either Tunbridge Wells or Matlock. Brighton, where the Prince of Wales had then taken up his residence, is a rather pretty town opposite Dieppe, with the shores of France visible. At the time I was there the English feared a descent by the French. The generals were perpetually reviewing the militia, who were forever marching about with drums beating, making an infernal din. I took some delightful walks at Brighton by the seashore. One day I witnessed a singular phenomenon; the fog was so thick that the ships off the coast looked as if they were suspended in the air.

I spent a few days at Knowles Castle, which, after once belonging to Queen Elizabeth, is now the property of Lady Dorset. At the gate of this castle I saw two huge elm trees, reported to be more than 1,000 years old, which, nevertheless, still bore leaves, especially at the top. The park, whose boundary touches a forest, is remarkably picturesque. The castle contains some very fine pictures; the furniture is still the same as in the day of Elisabeth. In Lady Dorset's sleeping apartment the curtains of the bed are all sprinkled with gold and silver stars, and the dressing-table is of solid silver. Lady Dorset, an extremely wealthy lady, had married Sir A. Wilford, whom I had known as English Ambassador at St. Petersburg. He had no fortune, but was a fine figure of a man, with noble and distinguished mien. The first time we all met for dinner Lady Dorset said to me: "You will be very much bored, as we never talk at table." I reassured her upon this point. I told her this was also my own habit, having for years nearly always eaten alone. She must have been enormously fond of this custom of hers, for at dessert her son, eleven or twelve years old, came in, and she hardly spoke to him; she finally sent him away without giving him the least sign of affection. I could not help thinking of the reputation Englishwomen bear: that usually, when their children are grown up, they care little about them – which has been taken to mean that they love only their little ones.

At London I renewed acquaintance with the amiable Count de Vaudreuil. I found him greatly changed and fallen off, through all that he had suffered for France. He had married his niece in England, and I went to see her at Twickenham, where she was settled. The Countess de Vaudreuil was young and pretty. She had exquisite blue eyes, a sweet face, and the most striking freshness. Her invitation to pass a few days at Twickenham I accepted, and while there I did a portrait of her two sons.

His Highness the Duke d'Orléans lived near-by; the Count de Vaudreuil, whom the Duke d'Orléans had shown special marks of favour, took me to see him. We found that prince, whose chief delight was his studies, seated at a long table covered with books, one of them lying open before him. During the visit he pointed out to me a landscape painted by his brother, the Duke de Montpensier, whose acquaintance I also made while staying with Mme. de Vaudreuil. As for the youngest of these princes, the Duke de Beaujolais, I only met him out walking; he seemed to have a passably good face and to be very lively. The Duke de Montpensier sometimes came for me, and we would go out sketching together. He took me to the terrace at Richmond, whence the view is magnificent. From that eminence you survey a considerable part of the river's course. We also went over the lovely meadow where the trunk of the tree under which Milton sat may still be seen. It was there, so I was informed, that he composed his poem of "Paradise Lost." Altogether, the surroundings of Twickenham were highly interesting; the Duke de Montpensier knew them to perfection, and I congratulated myself on having him for my guide, the more as this young prince was exceedingly kind and sympathetic.

I had engaged to paint a portrait of the Margravine of Anspach, who asked me to stay with her for a few days in the country so that I might redeem my promise. As I had heard that the Margravine was an eccentric woman, who would not allow me a moment's peace, would have me waked at five every morning, and do a thousand equally intolerable things, I accepted her invitation only after stipulating certain terms. First I requested a room where I should hear no noises, on the ground that I wished to get up late. Then I warned her that in case we went driving anywhere I never talked in a carriage, and that I preferred walking alone. The good lady agreed to everything and kept her word religiously. If I accidentally came upon her in her park, where she would often be working like a day-labourer, she pretended not to see me, and let me pass without opening her mouth. Perhaps the Margravine of Anspach had been slandered, or perhaps she was obliging enough to put constraint upon herself for my sake; at all events, I felt so much at ease while under her roof that, when I was bidden to another country-place belonging to her, called Blenheim, I went without hesitation. There the park and the house were far better than at Armesmott, and the time went by in a most agreeable manner. Charming evening parties, plays, music – nothing lacked; indeed, though pledged to stay but one week, I remained, instead, three.

I made some expeditions on the water with the Margravine. On one occasion we landed at the Isle of Wight, which stands high on a rock, and reminds one of Switzerland. This island is noted for the mild and gentle ways of its inhabitants. They all live together, I was told, like a single family, enjoying perfect peace and happiness. Possibly now, since a large number of regiments have been in the island, it is no longer the same in respect to the quiet life, but it is a fact that at the time of my visit all the population were well-dressed, civil and benevolent. Besides the suavity I observed in the people, the scenery was so entrancing that I should have liked to spend my life in that beautiful spot. Only the Isle of Wight, and Ischia, near Naples, have ever made me feel such a desire.

I also went to Lord Moira's country seat. Although I have forgotten the name of his house, I remember how comfortable everything was and what wonderful cleanliness prevailed all over. Lord Moira's sister, Lady Charlotte, kind and courteous, did the honours with infinite tact. It was, therefore, unfortunate that the place bored one. At dinner the women left the table before dessert; the men remained to drink and talk politics. I can truthfully state, however, that at no gathering I attended did the men get drunk. This convinces me that, if the custom ever existed in England, it has now ceased as far as good society is concerned. I may also remark that I dined several times at Lord Moira's with the Duke de Berri, and that the Duke never took anything else than water, far from drinking too much wine, as has since been alleged.

After dinner we met together in a large hall, where the women sat apart, occupied with embroidery or tapestry-work, and not uttering a sound. The men, on their side, took books to hand, and observed like silence. One evening I asked Lord Moira's sister, since the moon was shining brightly, whether we might not walk in the park. She replied that the shutters were closed and that caution demanded they should not be reopened, because the picture-gallery was on the ground floor. As the library contained collections of prints, my only resource was to seize upon these collections and go through them, abstaining, in obedience to the general example, from a single word of speech. In the midst of such a taciturn company, fancying myself alone one day, I happened to make an exclamation on coming to a handsome print, which astonished all the rest to the last degree. It is, nevertheless, a fact that the total absence of conversation does not preclude the possibility of pleasant chat in England. I know a number of English who are extremely bright; I may even add that I never encountered one who was stupid.

The season was too far advanced when I was at Lord Moira's to allow of my taking long walks. Lady Charlotte proposed to go driving with me, but she went in a sort of cariole as hard as a cart, which I could only endure for a short while. The English are used to braving their weather. I often met them in the pouring rain, riding without umbrellas in open carriages. They are satisfied with wrapping their cloaks about them, but this has its drawbacks for strangers unaccustomed to such a watery state of things. Homeward bound in these English drives, I would sometimes stop on a hill four or five miles from London, hoping for a view of that stupendous city, but the fog lying upon it was always so thick that I never was able to distinguish anything but the tips of its spires.

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