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MARGINAL NOTES ON WRAXALL'S "HISTORICAL MEMOIRS OF MY OWN TIME."
I SEND Wraxall with the quartos, that you may read something written of your poor friend as well as something written by her. His book will be a relief when you get into the dark ages of "Retrospection."- Mrs. Piozzi to Sir James Fellowes.
Her note on Wraxall's statement relating to Marie Antoinette's first confinement is :
You see how cautious Sir N. Wraxall is -but you may likewise see through his caution. He knew no doubt better than myself, that about this time a swathed baby made of white marble was laid at the bed chamber door with this inscription:
"Je ne suis point de Cire subintelligitur Sire — Je suis de pierre — subintelligitur Pierre.”
A Life-Guard Man as I was informed.*
Recent and impartial history favours the belief in Marie Antoinette's personal purity; but her indiscretion was of a nature to give rise to the coarsest scandal amongst a people whose loyalty was rapidly declining into a diametrically opposite train of feelings. In the following epigram the speakers are the Queen and Mlle. d'Oliva, the courtesan who personated her Majesty in the affair of the Diamond Necklace:
"Vile espèce, ose tu bien
Jouer le rôle d'une reine ?
The Dauphin, who died very young, and the other, who lived to suffer still more whom every one pities, are mentioned in the 2nd vol., but I can't find the place now. Ils étoient vrais Descendans de Louis XIV., mais comment? Juste Ciel!
In reference to Wraxall's description of the celebrated women of the day, she has pasted in copies of the following verses:
(Said to be written by Charles Fox.)*
To pass my life and think with Crewe.
(Said to be written by Mr. Chamberlayne, who threw himself out of the window.)
With charming Cholmondeley well one might
*In the Album at Crewe Hall.
Of Tully's Latin, Homer's Greek,
With learned Carter one could speak;
With Sappho's ardour, Sappho's art,
when you produced a Crewe, Have prayed for all mankind.
The verses on Henrietta de Coligny, Comtesse de la Suze, are quoted by Wraxall:
Quæ Dea sublimi vehitur per inania curru ?
Si genus inspicias, Juno: si scripta, Minerva :
They are thus paraphrased in a marginal note by Mrs. Piozzi:
Her birth examined, Juno we discern,
Her learning, not Minerva's self denies :
But that Love's mother laughs in both her eyes.
* Mrs. Greville, author of the "Ode to Indifference," mother of Mrs. Crewe.
When the King of Sweden was murdered in a ballroom, by Ankerstroom, about the year 1792, there was a comically impudent caricature published representing George the Third, with a letter in his hand and a label out of his mouth, saying, What, what, what! Shot, shot, shot!
"The last Princess of the Stuart line who reigned in this country, has been accused of a similar passion (for drink), if we may believe the secret history of that time, or trust to the couplet which was affixed to the pedestal of her statue in front of St. Paul's, by the satirical wits of 1714."-Wraxall.
Note.-Brandy-faced Nan has left us in the lurch,
to the church.
VERSES ON CATHERINE OF RUSSIA.
Elle fit oublier par un esprit sublime
Elle se maintint par les vertus.
Her dazzling reign so brightly shone
Few sought to mark the crimes they courted; Whilst on her ill acquired throne,
She sate by virtue's self supported.
"The Countess Cowper was at this time distinguished by his (the Grand Duke Leopold's) attachment; and the exertion of his interest with Joseph the Second his brother, procured her husband, Lord Cowper, to be
created soon afterwards a Prince of the German Empire."-Wraxall.
Note. She was beautiful when no longer a court favourite, in 1786. Her attachment was then to Mr. Merry, the highly accomplished poet, known afterwards by name of Della Crusca.
"In 1779, Charles Edward exhibited to the world a very humiliating spectacle."— Wraxall.
Note. Still more so at Florence, in 1786. Count Alfieri had taken away his consort, and he was under the dominion and care of a natural daughter, who wore the Garter, and was called Duchess of Albany. She checked him when he drank too much, or when he talked too much. Poor soul! Though one evening, he called Mr. Greatheed up to him, and said in good English, and a loud though cracked voice: "I will speak to my own subjects my own way, sare. Ay, and I will soon speak to you, Sir, in Westminster Hall." The Duchess shrugged her shoulders.
"It was universally believed that he (Rodney) had been distinguished in his youth, by the personal attachment of the Princess Amelia, daughter of George the Second, who displayed the same partiality for Rodney, which her cousin, the Princess Amelia of Prussia, manifested for Trenck. A living evidence of the former connexion existed, unless fame had recourse to fiction for support. But, detraction, in every age, from Elizabeth down to the present times, has not spared the most illustrious females."— Wraxall.