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or to do something towards reinstating themselves in a less unbecoming situation.
Meanwhile I was their joint plaything, and although education was a word then unknown as applied to females, they had taught me to read and speak and think and translate from the French, till I was half a prodigy; and my father's brother Thomas, who was bred
for the ecclesiastical courts with poor papa's money, and who lived in London among the gay and great, said how his friends, the Duke of Leeds, Lord Halifax, &c., would be delighted could they but see little Hester. My mother, however, thought it would be best to conciliate her own relations, and made me, I know not at how early an age, write a letter to my Uncle Robert, who had lately lost Lady Betty. The scheme prospered: grandmamma Salusbury of Bachygraig was dead, and Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton said he longed to kiss his sister and the little girl ; to whom he was perhaps more willing to attach himself, as he had no progeny, and his only brother had married, not much to please him, a portionless cousin of his own ; Miss Cotton, of Etwall and Belleport, by whom he had many children, among which two only were favorites at Lleweney. An invitation followed, and we came to the Old Hall hung round with armor, which struck my infant eyes with wonder and delight.
My uncle soon began to dote on Fiddle, as he called me in fondness; and I certainly did not obtain his love by flattery, as I remember well this odd tête-à-tête conversation :
“ Come now, dear,” said he, “that we are quite alone, tell me what you expected to see here at Llewenney.” “I expected," replied I, “ to see an old baronet.” “ Well, in that your expectation is not much disappointed; but why did you think of such stuff?” 66
Why just because papa and mamma was always saying to me and to one another at Bodvel, what the old baronet would think of this and that : they did it to frighten me I see now; but I thought to myself that kings and princes were but men, and God made them you know, Sir, and they made old baronets.” “Incomparable Fiddle," exclaimed my uncle ; "you will see a Mr. and Mrs. Clough at dinner to-day ; do you know how to spell Clough ?” “No,” was the reply ; "I never heard the name; but if it had been spelt like buff, you would not have
have asked me the question. They write it perhaps as we write enough — c, 1, o, u, g, h.” What baby anecdotes are these, you cry.
your poor friend certainly ceased being in any wise a wonder after she was five years old, at which period we left Wales and came to my uncle's house in Albemarle Street, where he told my mother he should follow in less than two months ; make a new will, and leave poor Fiddle £10,000, having understood that my parents had by their marriage settlement agreed to entail the old Bachygraig Estate on Thomas Salusbury, brother to papa, and then a doctor in the Commons; and on his sons, rather than their own daughter, if they had no male heir. I fancy some rough words passed concerning this. My uncle certainly but ill brooked my father's pride, and he still less willingly endured being informed that, if his quality friends would provide him some distant establishment, my mother and myself should share the old baronet's fortune. “ No, no, Sir Robert,” was the haughty answer, “if I go for a soldier, your sister shall carry the knapsack, and the little wench may have what I can work for.” I have heard that our parting soon followed this conversation, and scarce were my infantine tears dried for leaving dear Llewenney and my halfadored uncle, before the news reached London of his sudden death by an apoplectic fit; in consequence of which his brother, Sir Lynch Salusbury Cotton, came into everything by a temporary will kept in case of accidents till one more copious and correct should be formed.
Some traces yet remain upon my mind of poor mamma's anguish and of my father's violent expressions. She has related to me his desperate engagement with some quacks and projectors who pretended to find lead on his encumbered estate, whilst we remained in town, and I became a favorite with the Duke and Duchess of Leeds, where I recollect often meeting the famous actor Mr. Quin, who taught me to speak Satan's speech to the sun in “ Paradise Lost.” When they took me to see him act Cato, I remember making him a formal courtesy, much to the Duchess's amusement, perhaps to that of the player. I was just six years old, and we sat in the stage-box, where I kept on studying the part with all my little power, not at all distracted by the lights or company, which they fancied would take
attention. The fireworks for the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle were the next sights my fancy was impressed with. We sat on a terrace belonging to the Hills of Tern, now Lord Berwick's family,
and David Garrick was there, and made me sit on his lap, feeding me with cates, &c.; because, having asked some one who sat near why they called those things that blew up, Gerbes in the bill of fare, I answered, “ Because they are like wheat-sheaves, you see, and Gerbe is a wheat-sheaf in French.”
When Garrick was intimate at Streatham Park more than twenty years afterwards, he did not like that story: it made him look older, at least feel older than he wished, I suppose.
Lord Halifax was now, or soon after, head of the Board of Trade, and wished to immortalize his name he had no sons by colonizing Nova Scotia. Cornwallis and my father, whom he patronized, were sent out, the first persons in every sense of the word; and poor dear mamma was left sine pane (almost, I believe), certainly sine nummo, with her odd little charge, a girl without a guinea, whose mind however she ceased not to cultivate in every possible manner. For French, writing, and arithmetic I had no instructor but herself; and when she went from home where I could not be taken, my temporary abode was the great school in Queen Square, where Mrs. Dennis and her brother, the Admiral Sir Peter Dennis, said I was qualified, at eight years old, for teacher rather than learner; and he actually did instruct me in the rudiments of navigation, as the globes were already familiar to me. The small-pox, however, and measles interrupted my studies for a while, when my Grandmother Cotton invited my mother and myself to spend a summer in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire, where she had a fine country-seat called East Hyde, not far from Luton, to which I made reference in “ Retrospection” (Vol. II. p. 434). This lady, daughter to Sir Thomas Lynch, after whom I was named, had possessed an immense fortune in Jamaica ; but being left an orphan at five years old, was, as she always said, and I believe, purchased of Lora Torington, her mother's brother, by Sir Robert Salusbury Cotton for his son Thomas, the child he educated himself in the Tower
of London, when confined there on account of his correspondence with the Electress Sophia.*
Certain it is that Lady Cotton was scarce fifteen years older than her own eldest son, my dear Uncle Robert, husband of Lady Betty Tollemache; which she considered as little to the honor of her father-in-law, who, she believed, obtained her fortune to his family by any means he could.
She had made a second choice when left a widow at thirtyseven years old, with many children, all mortally offended at her marrying again ; but Captain King was dead, and they were reconciled at the time I am speaking of. At East Hyde I learned to love horses; and when my mother hoped I was gaining health by the fresh air, I was kicking my heels on a corn-binn, and learning to drive of the old coachman ; who, like everybody else, small and great, delighted in taking me for a pupil. Grandmamma kept four great ramping war-horses, chevaux entiers, for her carriage, with immense long manes and tails, which we buckled and combed ; and when, after long practice, I showed her and my mother how two of them (poor Colonel and Peacock) would lick my hand for a lump of sugar or fine white bread, much were they amazed; much more when my skill in guiding them round the court-yard on the break could no longer be doubted or denied, though strictly prohibited for the future.
* Sir William Wraxall, in his Historical Memoirs (Vol. I. p. 304), in reference to the adventures of the Stuart family, relates an extraordinary anecdote about the destroying of the correspondence of the Electress Sophia with the Court of St. Germains. “It ought not to surprise us (he says) on full consideration that Sophia should feel the warmest attachment to James the Second.” On this Mrs. Piozzi remarks in the margin: “ It surprises me because my own great-grandfather was put into the Tower for corresponding with the Electress, by James the Second; and, being permitted to have any one of his family with him, chose a little boy, whom he taught to read and write there. My great-grandmother used to walk on Tower Hill till she saw her husband's signal poked out of some grated window. She was, by birth, Hester Salusbury, of Llewenney, and married to Sir Robert Cotton, of Combermere. I have seen, when a child, some of the Electress's letters signed Sophia. I remember nothing of them, but my uncle said they were full of Latin quotations: his son, father to Lord Combermere, burned them. I have looked in Lord Orford's miscellaneous works, and perceive that he and my friend Wraxall are of a mind about Sophia, of whose letters I can recollect only the odd signature, writing her name with a long l ; but my cousin was a strange fellow, to throw them into the fire.”
Among our Hertfordshire neighbors was Sir Henry Penrice, Judge of the Admiralty, who by the heiress of that branch of the Spencer family had only one daughter, the all-accomplished Anna Maria, who sought my mother's friendship the more eagerly, as she felt her heart daily more and more attached to my father's brother, Doctor Thomas Salusbury, of the Commons. My resemblance to my papa’s whole family fixed me a favorite. My mother thought herself ill-used by them, and so in fact she was ; her husband having left his brother a power of attorney to do everything for him, and he neglecting all mamma's entreaties, having forbore to change the hands of a mortgage upon that portion of the Welsh estate appointed for her jointure. Worse than that: my mother had scraped up, by dint of miserable privations, money for the purpose ; but Uncle Thomas neglected his absent brother's interest, and the estate was lost. Love was, however, his apology ; and a faint hope, perhaps, that so immense a fortune as that of Miss Penrice might in some wise and on some future day benefit her child, hushed all mamma's complaints. The lovers married. Sir Henry died, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, both in his place, his title, and his estate.
My father had meanwhile, I fear, behaved perversely, quarrelling and fighting duels, and fretting his friends at home. My mother and my uncle, taking advantage of his last gloomy letter, begged him to return and share the gayeties of Omey Place, mentioned in “ Retrospection," Vol. I. p. 213: likewise, if I remember rightly, in the Travel Book (Vol. II.), where I recollect the plains of Kalin reminding me of our dear airings upon Lily Hoo, the common near our house, joining to that of Offley, – scenes I shall see no more!
Here I reigned long, a fondled favorite. Kind Lady Salusbury felt her health decline, but told her husband she should die more happily, persuaded that he would not marry, as he was so attached to the good girl she now considered as her own, having nearly lost her precious life by a severe miscarriage. She, however, lived with him nine years, and said it were pity I should not learn Latin, Italian, and even Spanish, in all which she was conversant. Study was my delight, and such a patroness would have made stones students.