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SOPHIE IN LONDON-1786 



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UNIVERSITY 
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SOPHIE V. LA ROCHE, I778 


From the original in the University Library at Munster 


SOPHIE in LONDON 

1786 


being the Diary of 

Sophie V. la Roche 


Translated from the German 
with an Introductory Essay 
by Clare Williams 


With a Foreword by 
G. M. Trevelyan 


JONATHAN CAPE 


1933 


UNIVEhTdTY OF VICTORIA 


Thirty Bedford 



Y 


FIRST PUBLISHED 1 933 


JONATHAN CAPE LTD., 3O BEDFORD SQ,UARE, LONDON 
AND 91 WELLINGTON STREET WEST, TORONTO 


PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY J. AND J. GRAY, EDINBURGH 
PAPER MADE BY JOHN DICKINSON AND CO. LTD. 
BOUND BY A. W. BAIN AND CO. LTD. 


FOREWORD 


This book is a valuable addition to the library of old 
travellers’ tales which forms so attractive a part of modern 
reading. A clever woman, belonging to the fine cosmo- 
politan civilization of Europe in the third quarter of the 
eighteenth century, herself coming from the noble Germany 
of that period, describes the English scene. That European 
civilization has since been changed past all recognition by 
machinery, and by resurgent ‘enthusiasms’ of every kind. 

Some things, doubtless, have been gained by these changes, 
but reading this book has reminded me more forcibly of what has 
been lost. The good lady’s eulogistic remarks on Wedgwood 
ware (page 122) are characteristic: ‘At Wedgwood’s to-day 
‘I saw a thousand lovely forms and images ; vases, tea-things, 
‘statuettes, medallions. . . . Were I a traveller of means this 
‘would have accompanied me home to Germany. “That the 
‘ “Briton is born for all that is noble,” is a true, not a biassed, 
‘statement. For so soon as his spirit is untrammelled, and he 
‘acts independently, his is the path to greatness, simplicity, 
‘and beauty in all things.’ Such a statement perhaps raised 
a smile in 1786; if uttered in 1933 it could only raise a guffaw. 
But if in England we have, like every one else, lost good taste 
under the pressure of the machine age, we have as yet kept 
the spirit of liberty that the eighteenth century bequeathed us. 

This is a remarkable picture of our ancestors, and I hope 
it will have the success it desers’cs. We owe Mrs. Williams 
a debt for bringing it to light. 

G, M. TREVELYAN 


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PREFACE 


This diary, intended rather for the bedside table than the 
study desk, written, like the countless scribblings of the period, 
for edification ‘without tears’ (if one may apply this most 
descriptive anachronism) has not been annotated. The earnest 
seeker, however, need never flag for want of printed matter, 
and to those interested I address this note. I have pursued 
a policy of exclusion, though by careful use of sources 
mentioned the reader should soon thread his way through 
the diversions of eighteenth-century studies. Perhaps an 
introduction of the diarist as she appears on paper would 
form the best approach. She finds a place— now a line, a 
page, or paragraph— in many general literatures. It will be 
well to consult Professor J. G. Robertson’s Short History of 
German Literature, 1931, for a start. (Here I must pause to 
thank him for putting the diary in my way, for friendly 
encouragement, and permission to use an article of his— 
mentioned below- to which I am much indebted.) ^ In the 
excellent bibliography to the above such general works as 
F. J. Schneider’s or A. Roster’s literatures and others, or the 
monumental Hermann Hettner’s Liter aturgeschichte des xviii 
Jahrhunderts (revised, E. Boucke, 1926) will be found, while 
those anxious for a German introduction may take W. 
Scherer’s classic, Geschichte der deutschen Litter atur, 1921, using 
Korner’s book selection. Biographies of Sophie and her 
husband by L. Assing, 1859, and R. Asmus, 1899, may be 
supplemented by the delightful sketch of Sophie as an old 
lady in the lively ‘moonshine’ letters of her famous grand- 
daughter, Bettina v. Arnim, Die Giinderode (edited H. Amelung, 

^ Since these lines were printed German scholarship has been impoverished 
by the death of this doyen of German letters. 

5 


5 PREFACE 

Inselverlag, 1914). Other, sometimes newer, aspects of her 
character and works are obtainable from tributes, or the 
contrary, in Erich Schmidt’s Richardson, Rousseau, Goethe, 
W. Scherer’s Aufsdtze uber Goethe, 1886, from articles by 
K. Ridderhoff, J. G. Robertson (see Modern Language Review, 
xxvii), or letters edited by R. Hassencamp, F. Horn, A. Bach 
in book and periodical format, in G. v. Loeper’s Goethe 
Letters, 1879, K. Wagner’s and E. Martin’s to Merck and 
Jacobi respectively, and finally in the intimate requests to 
Grespel to send her such varied fare as sausages, curtains, 
watches, stockings, down from Frankfurt! (see W. Hertz m 
Bernhard Grespel, 1914). To the publishers of H. G. Jansen’s 
stimulating new material in Sophie v. La Roche im Verkehr 
mit dem geistigen Munsterland, 1931,1 am indebted for permission 
to reproduce the silhouette, and should like here to add my 
grateful thanks to the photographic and general staff at the 
British Museum and London Library for much help and 
patience. Of the many books on woman s place and culture 
in society, Ghristine Touaillon’s Der deutsche Frauenroman des 
xviii Jhdts., 1919, is a very real contribution, and devotes 
much space to Sophie; Adalbert v. Hanstein, 1899, gives an 
efficient survey, Matthew G. Bach, in a far smaller work, 
specialises on Wieland’s Attitude toward Woman, etc., 1922, 
and so includes Sophie’s early years, and H. Lachmannski, 
1900, deals with women’s periodicals. Myra Reynolds’s The 
Learned Lady in England, 1630-1750, 1920, is an excellent 
precursor to the period for those seeking an English study, 
and reminds one, though they are too late for her, that the 
memoirs of a Hannah More (edited William Roberts, 1835), 
Mme. d’Arblay (edited Gharlotte Barrett, 1883), Mrs. Delany 
(edited Lady Llanover, 1861) make good counterparts to 
Sophie— for in these are met Mrs. Fielding’s ‘game of twenty 
questions,’ with Sir Joshua Reynolds amongst the victims; 
‘the Gagliostro and the Cardinal’s necklace’; the ‘mad’ 
Nicholson woman’s attempt on His Majesty; our friend 
Lyttleton and his ghost and many more familiar anecdotes 


PREFACE 


7 


from Sophie; while the journal of John Wesley (edited 
N. Gurnock, VoL vii) for Monday, 28th August-Sunday, 
3rd September 1786, testifies to Sophie’s veracity and gives 
us the somewhat mournful subject of his sermon thus: ‘It is 
appointed unto men once to die.’ Any such contemporary 
evidence can be recommended both as a pleasure and a check 
on Sophie’s work. It seems almost superfluous to add the 
Dictionary of National Biography and its German brother, Die 
Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, S. Redgrave’s old Dictionary of 
Artists and G. K. Nagler’s older Kiinstlerlexikon (see in the 
latter, for instance, Sophie’s friend Hurter) as clues to the 
detection of personalities, though some readers may be 
grateful; or again Wraxhall’s Historical Memoirs, 1836 (com- 
pare with Sophie, the Gordon Riots and ‘gutting’ of Savile’s 
house), J. T. Smith’s Nollekens and his Times, 1829, popular 
funds of anecdote, or Genest and Allardyce Nicoll as the 
theatrical ‘who’s who’s.’ In E. Beresford Chancellor’s Lives of 
the British Sculptors, 1911, a newer Smith, will be found 
references to compare with Sophie (Smith’s list of Nollekens’ 
works contains all those which Sophie saw) and again in 
Photiades’ Les Vies du Comte de Cagliostro, 1932, Sophie plays 
quite a minor role as visitor to this worthy. 

Lastly the tourist traffic may be followed satisfactorily 
through W. E. Mead’s Grand Tour in the xviii c., 1914, the 
excellent bibliography of which contains works connected 
with all phases— the traveller in France (A. Babeau, 1885), 
in England (Edward Smith, 1889, or Arturo Graf, 191 1, etc.). 
Anglo-German tourist relations are best handled by L. M. 
Price’s English-German Literary Influences, 1919, and J. A. 
Kelly’s England and the Englishman in German Literature of the 
xviii c., 1921, the bibliographies of which contain most original 
sources and German works on the subject. Beside these 
P. E. Matheson’s German Visitors to England, 1930, is but slight. 

As for the ‘London Scene,’ H. B. Wheatley’s London Past 
and Present, 1891, W. Besant’s volume entitled London in the 
xviii c., 1902, in his Survey of London Series, Daniel Lyson’s 


8 PREFACE 

Environs of London, 1792 (Vol. ii, Middlesex) are indispensable 
for general reference, while H. B. Wheatley’s Hogarth and his 
Times, 1909, Austin Dobson’s William Hogarth, 1907, and 
E. Beresford Chancellor’s recent popular survey, The xviii c. 
in London, 1920, contain delightful illustrations and form a 
good beginning. With Warwick Wroth, The London Pleasure 
Gardens of the xviii c., 1896, one can follow the vicissitudes of 
fashion from Belsize to Ranelagh, or trace the changes 
around Well Walk and Marybone very agreeably, and should 
one be guilty of a too roseate vision, then Dorothy M. George, 
in a more specialised and deeper work, London Life in the xviii c. 
1925, may be calculated to dispel illusions, while maintaining 
an optimistic viewpoint. Her bibliography will fill in the 
lacunae, and Sections iv and vi more particularly will be a 
a guide to the better-known topographers and travellers 
(see also ‘maps’) — the list from Daniel Defoe at the opening 
to T. Pennant at the close, is almost inexhaustible, as reference 
to the British Museum catalogue will show. Sir Mayson M. 
Beeton and E. Beresford Chancellor have extracted letters 
5 and 6 from Defoe’s first edition to make a luxurious volume 
with very gorgeous plates entitled A Tour through London, 1929. 

Should the reader not be versed in German, yet care to 
sample some of their travel journals, he will find Baron 
Bielfeld’s Letters, Count Kielmannsegge’s Diary of a Journey to 
England, 1761-2, G. F. A. Wendeborn’s View of England 
towards the Close of the xviii c., 1791, A. W. Archenholz’s 
A Picture of England, 1797, and the ever-popular Carl Philipp 
Moritz (see P. E. Matheson’s reprint, 1926) all at his disposal 
(as given) in translation. 

In conclusion, I mention John Timbs’ quaintly antiquarian 
The Romance of London, 1865, knowing hardly whether to 
praise or blame these odd sensationalisms clad in drab attire, 
and hasten to add the name of one whose library of 
eighteenth century vignettes, studies, essays, poems, bio- 
graphies and more, undoubtedly acclaim him as the literary 
hero of this Wartburg contest— Austin Dobson. 


To 

My Parents, and 
One Other 



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INTRODUCTION 


(i) The Grand Tour 

A GENERATION of mechanics, cubists, press-buttons, and 
robots, pampered with rapid and easy communication, will 
hardly grasp the lull signihcance of miracles like the grand 
tour or penny post of its eighteenth-century ancestors. 
Arthur Young’s statement that there were no longer any 
novelties for the tourist outside of Tartary nowadays, conveys 
none of its deeper implications, unless we realise the tre- 
mendous impetus given to travel and exploration at the time. 
The very term ‘grand tour’ sounds as the proclamation of 
some great event. It calls to mind the pomp of eighteenth- 
century monuments, the flourish of contemporary beaus, and 
all the show of a spectacle-loving age. It personifies the 
virtues and the vices of foreign self-complacence and all the 
tawdry glitter at the courts; the qualities and defects of our 
own self-named ‘emporium,’ where we proudly hugged our 
insularity; the faults and excellence of rationalism, smug 
. with its achievement. Yet we must beware unless it assert 
a right to innovation not its own. For travel was nothing new. 
Of Ulysses, the ceaseless wanderer, Phoenician traders, 
Caesar’s exploits, the voyages of a Cabot or Columbus, tales 
are often told. The eighteenth century, however, might lay 
claim to novel aims and methods, to improved communi- 
cations which turned travail into travel, and gave birth to 
a new genus— the incorrigible globe-trotter. It created the 
traveller per se—di tremendous organised attack on all the 
vantage points of Europe ensued. It launched a different 
age of travel. The grand tour was de rigueur. 

These two small words can conjure many a scene for us: 

13 


14 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

the crack of a coachman’s whip, as he spurs his new relay 
of horses on to Dover to meet the packet there, which is to 
bear his master, a gentleman of parts and fortune, to Paris, 
that ‘paradise of women and the follies’: some foreign 
count embarking at Helvoetsluys for Harwich, thence to 
London for George ill’s coronation. The phrase recalls the 
tedium of eternal gaieties and our gallants’ flight to a new 
round abroad. It brings to mind some refractory youth in 
the hands of an ill-used, sometimes ignorant tutor, skimming 
the continent in search of a veneer known as ‘bon ton’ — his 
store of capital for future years! We see a whole army of 
‘melancholy English’ escaping their ‘befogged’ and ‘smoke- 
bound’ London for sunnier climes. But these are sketches 
of the leisured few. The tour has its more serious sides. The 
scientists and antiquarians travelled too, digging for data 
everywhere they went. For many of these, however, the 
tour, which Nugent roughly estimates as comprehending 
Holland, Germany, Italy, and France— we must add 
Switzerland and England — was not ‘grand’ enough, and so 
we shall leave them to their adventures at all four points of the 
compass in the trail of a Cook or Mungo Park. 

Like all human institutions the grand tour had its uses and 
abuses. Many the cries and satires in its wake; pictures of 
naive Englishmen and their families decked out by Paris wig 
and dressmakers, fleeced and ruined; crowds of young fops 
making themselves objectionable, learning nothing but 
debauch; the hasty tourist missing all the best. ‘How the 
devil can you like being always with these foreigners? I 
never go amongst them with all their formalities and cere- 
monies,’ to which Lord Chesterfield coined the appropriate 
retort, ‘I am neither ashamed nor afraid; I am very easy with 
them; they are very easy with me; I get the language and I 
see their characters by conversing with them; and that is 
what we are sent abroad for. Is it not?’ But we will leave his 
query to be answered later. 

Nor must we imagine, despite improved communications. 


INTRODUCTION 


15 


that these voyages were all sweetness and content. More 
especially in its early stages the grand tour might in some 
respects be termed a tour de force. For marauders, broken 
wheels, closed city gates and a wretched lodging outside, 
in winter heavy rains, ice blocks falling on one’s coach, 
swollen rivers, were only some of the evils which might befall. 
In Germany the roads were abominable, and the coaches 
cumbersome and comfortless. Sophie once complains that 
‘the reigning princes should be made to drive round daily 
in a mail-coach for four hours on end, and they might then 
acquire some sense of justice towards their fellow-beings. 
Even the Queen of Prussia twice overturned along this road,’ 
and landing in a dirty ditch can have been no joke as one, 
the Baron von Bielfeld, proved to his discomfort. For Italy 
Nugent advises ‘a sword and couple of pistols,’ and ‘an iron 
machine to fix to carriage handle’ to prevent its opening in 
case of ‘murderous villains’ on the road, though the highway- 
men, as we knew them, were not so common there. In 
England, before the improvement scheme on paving, roads, 
and lighting after the middle of the century, mud was the 
traveller’s chief complaint. The sea also played its part in 
the series of accidents. Being ‘excessive sick’ was not the 
worst, though disagreeable as some know to their cost. 
An ‘ugly matter,’ one traveller remarked, baffling every 
effort at ‘pleasant or attractive’ narrative! Views seem to 
have varied as to the best preventative: some recommended 
the patient to gaze out upon the water, while others con- 
tended that nothing could be worse — one must keep one’s 
eyes upon the ship. Reading and even meditation were 
forbidden. More troublesome than this, however, were the 
long periods spent in some ‘dreary hole’ like Helvoetsluys, 
waiting for the favourable wind. Here there was nothing for 
it but to gnash one’s teeth, kick one’s heels, and empty one’s 
purse, for the natives knew how to charge in these tourist 
traps. Or having eventually got aboard successfully, the 
packet would be becalmed in mid-ocean for a space and one’s 


i6 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

supply of food likely to give outj or else some storm tossed one 
to Yarmouth instead of Harwich, where finally, on arrival, 
one fell a prey to officious customs officers. Such were the 
possible calamities, though some escaped scot-free, boasting a 
pleasant voyage from start to finish. Towards the close of the 
century more particularly, tourist traffic had seen a transfor- 
mation and England above all became the trippers’ paradise. 

An essential feature of the itinerary were the travellers’ 
guide and reference books. Though the bureau belongs to a 
later date (the hostelries it seems saw the beginnings of this 
institution), information in the form of manuals was abun- 
dant. For travel, as we have seen, had its abuses, though the 
‘man of sense’ designed it for its uses. There is no point in 
touring aimlessly. What is the use of life if our experience is 
not ordered to some purpose? Travel has become inex- 
tricably bound up with life; it is a ‘sentimental journey,’ its 
‘accidents, rubs, and difficulties’ the obstacles of life. The 
tour is both allegory and teacher. Injunctions to keep a 
record ensue; possibly ‘alphabetically arranged’ to simplify 
the jottings. The ideal in so doing was to sift one’s evidence, 
to have an end in view from which one should not swerve to 
take in any secondary matter. Here the specialists earned 
their laurels, for bibliophiles and antiquarians, botanists 
ransacking Europe’s cabinets for specimens, at Kew or Paris 
doing homage to their sire, Buffon, kept strictly to the letter 
of this law and noted only what concerned their field. Many, 
however, lost all sight of any aim they might have had, erring 
hopelessly through labyrinths of history, politics, and religion 
in an attempt to pad the narrative, letting the ‘reflections 
swallow up the travels,’ as Johnson aptly said. Nor perhaps 
can we blame them altogether, for these poor voyagers were 
weighed down with bibliography and counsel. Volkmann’s 
handbook of 1781, for instance, compiled for German visitors 
to England, is a mine of English, Latin, French, and German 
works on the constitution, geography, topography, and other 
aspects of that ‘queen of isles,’ not forgetting special guides for 


INTRODUCTION 


n 

London and environs, maps and sketches of the best-known 
sights. Nugent might be termed the father of Baedeker, 
though without innumerable predecessors he could scarce 
have flown so high. These — Stows, Defoes, and Enticks here, 
the Bernouillis or earlier French journalists abroad — set the 
pace, and though doubtless indispensable to the conscientious 
traveller for pointing out the landmarks, they turned his 
innocent pleasure into a Herculean labour. Besides the 
collections of an Astley or Bernouilli, there were catalogues 
such as Schad’s of Niirnberg, periodicals like Hamburg’s 
Traveller or England’s Modern Voyages, for the perusal and 
disposal of the tourist or directory compiler. Thus has the 
bulk of our material swollen from the tiny stream of readable 
and apposite reflections early in the century to a torrent of 
encyclopaedic matter from the 70’s on. This aspect of the 
‘European Itinerary’ should not be overlooked in the general 
storm of abuse flung at the good-for-nothings of the time. 

And how does England fare in all this touring? Long 
before the century had passed through all its crescents to 
reach full splendour towards 1770 and wane again round 
about 1800, England had witnessed a steady progression of 
visitors from abroad. The centre of gravity had shifted from 
Italy, which in previous epochs claimed priority from the 
traveller for her treasures and her learning— she was still the 
‘garden of Europe’ and ‘fountain of the arts’— to England, the 
hub of the world in politics and commerce. Like a magnet 
she attracted foreigners to her shores to breathe the purer air 
of liberty and learn the secrets of prosperity. Though that 
‘beautiful city with some ugly things,’ Paris, still rivalled the 
‘ugly city with some beautiful things,’ London, she was 
rapidly losing ground, for she was but the rotten core of a 
decaying system, and any serious thinker looked towards the 
latter for a possible solution of new problems which might 
avert the catastrophe of ’89. 

So Montesquieu, Voltaire, and many other Frenchmen 
took the lead, and Germany, never slow to copy France, was 

B 


i8 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

close at heel here. One by one and in their scores the 
Germans take the plunge and cross the Straits, unti y 1 799 
London was larger by thirty thousand of them resident over 
here Most of Europe was suffering from Anglomania, 
Germany worst of all: England, ‘that land whose very name 
is as music to our German ears,’ one traveller rhapsodical y 
exclaims; obviously no unbiased witness of our scene in 
1788! And amongst the endless German literature on 
England one man only dares to take a definite stand against 
us, and he is a pro-French revolutionary whose views reflect 
the tricolour. Furthermore, he seems to have been a crusty, 
quarrelsome fellow, who in consequence suffered many 
bufferings, though his statements are not without veracity 
even when he sees white at its blackest! Some minor aUempts 
at crushing the idealists occurred, and negative criticisms 
appear occasionally in the works of praise, but they are stil , 
small voices.’ The classic author in our time deserves a 
mention here: Wendeborn, writing in 1784, adopts the motto, 
‘Speak of me as I am,’ and deals with us accordingly. 

In general, German visitors did not feel as strange and 
outcast as a Frenchman or Italian; for to the French we were 
diametrically (and politically) opposed— it was only neces- 
sary for him to wear a small hat for us to adopt an outsize in 
that line, one German chuckles— while the Gerrnan, racially 
related, was tolerated, if not loved. German imagination, too, 
was fired by literary aspiration— for having exchanged the 
polished verses of French classicism for the barbarous but 
titanic Shakespeare, they flung themselves with fervour into 
Ossian’s bardic mists. Young’s melancholy nocturnes, and 
other English works, and so gained an intimacy with the 
‘promised land’ before arrival. Finally, an Elector of Hanover 
sat upon the English throne, forging the firmest link between 
both nations, and so, once across the water, friends and 
relatives at the court awaited them, the German pastor at the 
Savoy shepherded them, and Germans in plenty at the Turk’s 
Head or Paris Coffee-house or similar localities welcomed them. 


INTRODUCTION 


19 


As for their criticisms, we have already found tliem 
favourable. Our literature, in their opinion, had arrived, our 
philosophy and science likewise flourished with a Locke or 
Newton and the Royal Society at the head; our laws and 
constitution ‘discovered in the backwoods’ of our Saxon 
forebears, were ‘indubitably the masterpiece of all forms of 
government’ (according to one zealot, aforementioned). 
And although our fine arts lacked spiritual fire, our univer- 
sities were fat and prosperous and sluggish, our education 
needed thorough overhauling; yet these evils quickly vanished 
before a sight of the city or the docks, or Father Thames laden 
with merchandise. And if ‘kings chose to live like invalids’ in 
a ‘crazy, smoky, dirty’ convent, while the ‘invalids like kings’ 
inhabited the stately palaces of Greenwich and of Chelsea, 
why, that was just another English ‘whim.’ The nation, too, 
was prosperous as a whole — those drawn and haggard faces 
so familiar on the continent had disappeared. Beggars were 
plentiful enough, but even they wore tidy, cleanly rags. As 
for the English arrogance and candour, those, like other vices, 
had their virtues, for they gave rise to charity and good works, 
to loyalty and liberty of speech and action; and while their 
sadic lust for hangings, baitings, and similar sports was 
certainly difficult of comprehension in such a people, perhaps 
the relic of ancient Roman shows explained it, perhaps it 
was a mark of that proverbial English scorn of death. 
‘Young man . . . my soul is steadfast. I am English. I can 
die, for I can live and suffer like a man,’ are my Lord 
Edward’s words, imbued as Rousseau doubtless thought, and 
maybe rightly, with characteristic local colour. 

‘Nation of shopkeepers’ as we were in many respects, the 
taunt lost much of its sting in the applause of hosts of foreign 
visitors. ‘Grande Brettagna, it goes well with thee and 
happily, above many nations of the earth.’ Such was the 
spirit up to 1786, when Sophie v. La Roche first set foot on 
English soil at Harwich. 


20 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 


(ii) My Lady, the Grand Tourist 

My lady ‘has been a traveller. She is a connoisseur m 
antiquities and in those parts of nice knowledge ... wit 
which the learned and polite of other nations entertain 
themselves.’ How ably do these few words from Henriette 
Byron’s pen meet Sophie’s case. They mark the very essence 
of her qualities and defects as traveller and diarist. For this 
‘connoisseur in antiquities,’ this ‘learned lady,’ likewise has 
leanings to the part of bet esprit. And so personalities and 
anecdote, quite lovely Rousseauistic nature studies, glimpses 
of well-known sights and monuments, are introduced as 
appetisers before the heavier fare of museum or natural 
history catalogues, historical or other semi-learned disqui- 
sitions. 

At the same time my lady Sophie was m every way 
adapted to the part of eighteenth-century globe-trotter. A 
child of her age, as we shall see, she shared the general 
appetite for travel. La Roche, her husband, had travelled a 
little in his time, and his patron’s tours in Holland, Fmnce, 
and Italy (Sophie explains that the polite in his day did not 
necessarily include England), formed part of the ‘nice 
discourse at the castle of Warthausen, where they lived some 
years with him. While her library, in which we know La 
Mottraye figured, no doubt contained much of the travel 
literature then in vogue. At least she was well read in this 
department, for Mungo Park and Lettice, Mme. du Bocage, 
von Watzdorf or Wendeborn, are only some of the representa- 
tives she mentions. Yet all this fund of previous information 
did not hamper that spontaneity of vision and irnpression 
which was her greatest charm. Nor did Sophie^ suffer 
‘homesickness’ en route. Indeed, in the jubilance of this new- 
found toy, the tour, that ailment was overlooked. And 
travelling, too, mostly a luxury article, merely meant a 
transfer from the learned and polite of one country to a 


INTRODUCTION 


21 


similar circle in another latitude. And so Sophie, lady of rank 
and authoress, travelling in company with a friend or son 
(it was advisable to have a companion during tedious, 
sometimes dangerous, stretches), bearing introductions to her 
peers in foreign parts, has neither time nor inclination for the 
disease. 

Twice in her career Sophie bears witness to the three great 
moments of her life. Once from her look-out on the Baltic 
coast (doubtless referring to her trip to Hamburg, when she 
met Klopstock, the ‘heavenly’ Stolbergs, and others of the 
magic circle there), once in England, and once on a mountain 
summit facing the then unscalable Mt. Blanc in Switzerland. 
We should like to add a fourth and fifth: before the sea at 
Havre de Grace in France, and on the shore at Scheveningen 
in Holland. No doubt, however, she knew best! One thing 
is certain. Though Sophie belonged to that ‘tearful sect’ of 
‘sensitive and beautiful souls’ so easily ‘affected,’ though she 
was present at many a ‘sentimental congress,’ these were 
moments of genuine emotion. Her voice thrills with gladness 
and her sometimes pedestrian narrative rises to pasans of 
praise before the verdant, undulating hills of Richmond, the 
silver gleaming Thames threading its way through fertile 
valleys, past prosperous country seats and rustic villages. 
Likewise, surrounded by the mountain majesty at Chamonix, 
she feels some vast and all-pervading power about her. This 
indeed was Nature’s apotheosis. ‘Sing unto the Lord a new 
song,’ cries our eighteenth-century pietist, drowning her 
utilitarian instincts in this feast of Nature, oblivious for a 
moment of politeness and preciosity. Nor are these the only 
moments in her work. As she crossed from Germany into 
Switzerland she noticed how the ‘seam of the Fatherland was 
edged with wild roses,’ revelling in their masses, and her work 
is sown with many delightful images of the kind, bright 
flowers in meadows sometimes fertile, often dead or arid. 

Before following Sophie on her continental tour, one 
question of biographical interest might be answered here. 


22 SOPHIE IN LONDON, .786 

Why exactly did she cram her travels into the narrow nrargm 
of some mLths within the three consecuUve years of 84 
to Her fate and fortunes at the time will solve th 

question. Her daughters married, her eldest ^ ® 

Ld flown, Carl at the university, and Franz, *e § ’ 

waitine to be packed off to boarding-school at Colmar, 

Q free from all maternal cares, while her husband, 

Ls tie ustlection will tell, might be left to potter 
in his garden, or busy with his mineral cabinet and specimens. 
On the other hand, he period after 1786, fraught with much 
erief for Sophie, who lost a husband, favourite son, and 
daughter between 1788 and ’93, fraught with grave 
unrL for the world at large, hardly inspired Sophie, an old 
hdy to wander far from home. Further reasons for her 
decision in 1784 were obvious too. She must have of en 
dreamed of seeing the world and playing her part m re 
contemporary grand tour. For Italy she had sighed but 
symbolically this dream was never realised. ^ To Switzerla 
she had looked forward now for ‘forty years i certain y sin 
her youthful love affair with Wieland, and her subsequ 
epistolary link with Julie Bondeli, a remarkable femmi 
personality of the time. If Franz was to go to Colmai then, 
why not tike him to Switzerland first and leave him with her 
old'^ friend Pfeffel, the director, on return. Besides, the 
might be scope for some journalistic sketches here to swe 
the periodical she edited, Pomona, or some other publication. 
And so it happened; and Sophie left on 25th June of 1784 
with Franz for Switzerland. 

They had a fair to moderate journey, though the roads were 
bad in parts. Once, on entrance into Switzerland, they were 
compelled to leave the coach while the horses were unhar- 
nessed and led along the narrow defile. On arrival at 
Zurich, their first main port of call, they put up at the Sword, 
where La Roche had lodged before them. Sophie did not 
care for the steep, narrow streets and tall houses, but she did 
her duty, visiting the libraries and schools, the silk and muslin 


INTRODUCTION 


23 

factories, which jointly with the heavy tourist traffic were 
blamed for the undermining of the simple life, to the sorrow 
of Swiss patriots. In Zurich, too, where Gessner (the pastoral 
poet) and other old friends of Wieland, her young admirer, 
greeted her, her spirit harked back to ‘Doris,’ and her 
youthful romance. ‘For what woman does not smile gladly 
at the memory that she has been lovable and beloved, even 
though it be thirty-two years since?’ 

But Sophie’s main objective was Lausanne, so we will press 
on with her, though incidents en route must hold us up 
occasionally. At Lucerne, for instance, after a stormy 
passage across the lake, Sophie went up the Blumenalp. The 
guide addressed her as ‘Mama,’ and offered her his hand as 
soon as the path grew difficult. Then in the broadest dialect, 
which she faithfully reproduces, he continues, ‘Mama, ye 
marn’t go further, ye be a heavy woman and not wont to 
sich climbing.’ In Berne, ‘the cradle of her Julie,’ she did not 
tarry long, though architecturally it was an elegant town, and 
Tscharner and other famous friends of Julie’s gave her 
hospitality. July 17th saw her in Lausanne, much struck by 
the difference between French and German Switzerland. 
‘The French villages look sad, their stone houses less rustic, 
less cleanly than the wooden dwellings of the German 
peasant.’ Nor does the French labourer look as hale and 
hearty as his German neighbour. Nevertheless, Lausanne, 
home of Gibbon and the Neckers, was already the Mecca of 
the English tourist, and a great settlement of schools for 
children of the rich. ‘Whole troops of charmingly clad 
English women, just like Reynolds paints them,’ were taking 
the air one day while Sophie was out walking, yollowed by 
their menfolk.’ (The Englishman was reputed to be a 
bachelor at heart even in eighteenth-century England!) And 
Sophie doubtless felt this was a haul, for these unfriendly 
English formed colonies of their own and did not mix. Some 
of their customs, however, filtered through, for on her return 
to Lausanne six days later we find Sophie at Rapin Thoyras’ 


24 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

daughter, Mme. Blaquieres, taking tea with a dainty little 
roll, at six o’clock, as ‘introduced here by them.’ On this 
occasion and on her previous visit she met Mercier (prophet 
of Paris’ coming downfall). Gibbon (historian of past decline), 
and Mme. Casanova. 

In her subsequent adventure Sophie was led higher, if not 
further, than she had anticipated. For to please her son she 
joined in an expedition to the glaciers from Chamonix. 
Starting by char-a-bancs, ‘a wooden bench supported on four 
wheels with a piece of cloth drawn tautly over it,’ Sophie was 
then chaired part way, but eventually decided to climb, for 
fear of being tipped into a precipice. She rested at the 
‘English table of ice’— an ice plain named after its ‘dare- 
devil’ habitues— where the others joined her later for the 
descent. For this Sophie had to shed her heels, and a storm, 
which met them half-way down, did not make matters easier. 
They arrived back drenched— in Sophie’s case rather 
frightened— but none the worse for their adventure. Indeed, 
having put their clothes to dry, they formed a merry party 
by the fire and over a steaming meal. Sophie wore the 
goodman’s slippers, as his housewife’s wooden clogs did not 
quite suit! Indeed, this day amongst the splendours of 
Haller’s Alps was memorable to Sophie, as we saw, nor did 
she in any way rue a venture which made of her a pioneer in 
mountaineering— the first woman of her race in fact to 
undertake the ascent. 

These then, the high lights of Sophie’s tour in Switzerland, 
must satisfy us, though at times the shades possess a charm 
entirely their own. Her visit to Ferney and pilgrimage to 
Vevay mght be added. She found the ‘patriarch’s’ estate 
dilapidated, ‘rank with weeds, like some of the owner’s 
writings,’ while Vevay, immortalised by Rousseau, was a 
flourishing market town, cleaner and lovelier in its natural 
simplicity than any place she had visited. That Sophie gave 
an unconsidered, somewhat biased verdict does not concern 
us here: the ‘Ferney factory,’ scene of departed glory, could 


INTRODUCTION 


25 


not in any case compete with a new and vigorous order of 
society. Be this as it may, we must proceed with Sophie’s 
itinerary. In haste to reach Colmar with her son, she had to 
forego hosts of invitations — a luncheon with the Neckers, 
party at Mme. Casanova’s, to mention two — but managed to 
spend a couple of days or so at Basel exploring the town and 
making friends. To an introduction to a certain Sarasin and 
his wife, faithful followers of Cagliostro, she owed a meeting 
with the latter two years later in London. But we must take 
our leave of her. Having dropped a son and collected a 
‘foster’ daughter to stay with her, she ordered horses at 
Strassburg on 22nd August to carry her back to hearth and 
husband at Spires. 

We meet her again, however, the following spring, when 
she decided to compare the ‘wonders of Nature’ witnessed in 
Helvetia with the ‘wonders of art’ for which Gaul was famed. 
In how far she appreciated the latter, and whether her 
impressions of ‘sweet France’ are as complimentary as one 
French commentator imagines, we shall see. That she did 
not find France’s most ‘smiling aspect’ altogether her ‘truest 
one,’ is certain. For all through her narrative can be heard 
the plaintive note of poverty and subjection. These twin 
miseries seem to haunt her like the silent spectres of some 
immeasurable, nameless crime. Let us explain. On her 
route to Paris, for example, she calls in at an occasional 
cotter’s by the wayside. She finds the people clean, but very 
poor indeed. Again, almost her first impression of Paris is 
‘disappointing,’ ‘the streets are narrow and dirty, and the 
common people likewise.’ Later she tries to convince herself 
that it is truly the home of ‘art wonders,’ but cannot lose 
sight of the fact that the people, segregated into two distinct 
classes, one ‘wishing and enjoying,’ the other larger group 
‘waiting on the pleasure and egoism of the former,’ are 
wretched. ‘The abject misery of the populace and the dirt 
are past all imagination.’ This land where ‘pedestrians are 
jammed between carriages and carts makes one’s heart sink.’ 


26 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

In truth, ‘the good taste and wealth which supply art with 
bread’ are quite ‘remarkable,’ but the ‘misery bordering on 
it all’ can scarce be ‘overlooked.’ On one occasion, while 
watching a royal procession, she observes the lavish expendi- 
ture and luxury, but in contrast to the extravagance of the 
coaches, the mob looked ‘wretched. Certainly Louis xvi 
‘appeared a beneficent monarch, as he smiled kindly on 
every side and saluted his people,’ but this fact hardly glossed 
over realities. Visiting a silversmith’s the following day, this 
idea is repeated: all very handsome, but see the people 
outside collecting ‘rags and rubbish.’ Feeling is beginning to 
run high too, for when the queen makes her entry into Paris 
after her confinement, a mild surprise goes round amongst 
the spectators on the balcony about Sophie, and a murmur 
of ‘What’s this? The streets are packed, and not a single 
cry o^''Vive la Reine,'' ’ and one lady explains to Sophie that 
the populace is bravely evincing discontent. ‘It bears 
burdens, but does not fawn like the great.’ Two days later, 
at a procession of Corpus Christi, people are run over heed- 
lessly. ‘There is no longer the slightest regard for human 
beings or things.’ 

w'e have purposely emphasised a theme in Sophie’s record 
recurrent as the tragic motive in Wagnerian opera with its 
prophecy of coming doom; yet like this last, though Walhall’s 
time approaches, there are still sunny patches in the surround- 
ing country. ‘Gold is scarce’ in Paris as in Walhall! Spain 
was not circulating much.’ All the cunning of the combined 
deities was required to cover Freia with the Nibelungen hoard 
and yet there were beauties on the Rhine and in the woods, 
and likewise France has beauties by the Seine which must 
not be forgotten in our denunciation. If Versailles looked 
worn and dilapidated after one short century’s gaiety, the 
Tuileries still charmed Sophie’s eye, the Trianon, Marly, 
St. Cloud and Sevres were ‘delicious,’ the Louvre with its 
colonnade, the Luxembourg magnificent. Nowhere in the 
world were such parade, nowhere such elegant equipages, as 


27 


INTRODUCTION 

in the Bois. In Paris only did one find a coffee-house, where, 
as if laden by ‘invisible’ hands, the table appeared from out 
the floor already served. In Paris, too. Mile. Bertin ruled 
supreme, for the ‘whole of Europe bowed its head beneath 
the sceptre of fantastic fashion.’ While Paris at night, around 
the palace area, looked like a ‘fairyland’ of myriad lamps, 
though suburbs and outskirts did not compare with London 
in this respect. But Sophie was happiest out of the din and 
‘rattle’ of Paris vehicles; away in Touraine, for instance, 
fertile and smiling even then, with its ‘busy’ labourers, 
‘lovely’ country-side, and its clean, neatly clad inhabitants. 
Or away in Bordeaux watching the ships and dock life. This 
was evidently an English characteristic, for, as distinct from 
other foreigners, the English were known at once by their 
liking for the quay-side, which they visited within their first 
fifteen minutes on shore, loitering there for hours on end, 
gazing at the work. Sophie heard that they were clannish too, 
as in Lausanne. Nevertheless, the French regretted having 
helped America in the war against them, for now her com- 
petition was hitting France’s export trade. Or again, Sophie 
was happy at Havre de Grace, where a ‘wish long cherished’ 
was at last fulfilled. Here she saw the sea, and marvelled at 
its changing beauties, spending the greater part of her short 
stay in its vicinity, either in the lighthouse inspecting the 
great lamps some ‘ten feet in diameter,’ or sitting on a 
mound of grass in contemplation. 

But Sophie, despite this attitude and the many evils all 
around her, did not forget her social side. And so we see her 
at Versailles among the spectators in the palace after the 
royal household had heard mass, or in the marquee at 
Trianon during a garden fete given by the queen. She gained 
admission on these occasions through friends in the ministry. 
Again we catch a glimpse of her idolising Buffon, ‘the high 
priest of Nature,’ walking with him in his domain, the 
Botanical Garden. Then she is taken to Mesmer’s house, 
where three hundred patients were gathered awaiting cure 


28 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

from the quack magnetist. She goes to Mme. de Genlis, the 
French authoress, and discusses the attitude of men to women 
—that is, intellectual women! 

In truth, we cannot accuse her as she feared of ‘seeking 
every tombstone for inspection,’ like many of her country- 
men, for though the past and its memorials interested her, 
she had a keen sense of the present, its people, and conditions, 
and has made her diaries live accordingly. Her sojourn in 
France was crammed with sights and people, her diary with 
apposite reflection amidst — Sophie admits a weakness she 
cannot help— long discursive passages. Yet she left this 
‘wonder-city’ without the least regret, and welcomed the 
mountain country which heralded the Fatherland. On the 
whole she must have enjoyed her stay, or else what purported 
to be a six weeks’ tour would scarce have exceeded a period 
of three months. The French had two redeeming qualities, 
she thought— ‘good roads and handsome theatres’ — two 
matters of great value for the public. Whatever her criticisms 
may have been, however, she was carrying back with her the 
nucleus of ‘a book most interesting and remarkable’ for its 
impressions of the ‘waiting city.’ 

A year elapsed before Sophie set out once more for foreign 
parts. The best — we mean in her opinion — lay before her; she 
had but to choose the route. Calais or Boulogne to Dover, 
Dieppe to Brighthelmstone, Ritzebiittel to Yarmouth, by 
sloop from Rotterdam to London Bridge (not advisable, 
however), or Helvoetsluys to Harwich— all these paths led to 
the sons of Albion. She chose the last, like the majority of her 
countrymen, and took in Holland on the way. After mean- 
dering with the Rhine as far as Diisseldorf (and Friedrich 
Jacobi, her friend) past wooded banks and vineyards, steep 
rocks, and ruined fortresses, back through time to earlier 
scenes and old familiar faces, happy days at Mainz or 
Ehrenbreitstein, Sophie and her friend, accompanied now by 
Carl, sped on via Cleves and Nimwegen, into Batavia. Here 
they found no mere ‘deposit of German mud,’ no ‘indigested 


INTRODUCTION 29 

vomit of the sea,’ as cle Ruyter’s enemies or other scoffers 
chose to call her, but a spruce and prosperous people, 
industrious and thriving. Gone the haggard faces, vanished 
the poverty and dirt, the tawdry remnants of French 
grandeur; here was a power to be reckoned with, a flourishing 
community second to none abroad and rivalling Britannia on 
the ocean wave. The bustle round the harbours, great ship- 
yards, prosperous villages and villagers, livened the ‘mono- 
tony of boundless meadow flats,’ the ‘perfect quiet’ of the 
country-side with its ‘solitary farms and fisher-dwellings.’ 
For a study of conditions we might profitably turn to 
Amsterdam as typical. This city, with its harbour — like a 
stone flung into water — irradiating circle upon circle of 
canals, bordered by fine patrician buildings, as if by such a 
form to impress the curious guest or ignorant idler with its 
centrality and prime importance, was a very hive of industry 
and excited speculation. East India Company, Admiralty 
and ’Change, Town Hall, fine shops (some finer than in Paris) , 
and oriental wares (the Japanese dressing-gowns in all shades 
of light silk padded with wool, yet easily rolled for packing, 
attracted Sophie) were branches of a great commercial unity, 
the several spokes of an industrial wheel with docks and 
wharves for hub. Here Sophie watched the smiths and 
carpenters and rope-spinners; the whalers back from Green- 
land with seventy tons of blubber reckoned at 10,000 guilders’ 
clear profit. Such scenes and sums stirred the imagination, 
though the cost of living was relatively high. From Amster- 
dam again. Brook and Sardam were attainable. These 
villages were famous for Dutch spotlessness and prosperity, 
then proverbial. In Sardam, with its innumerable wind- 
mills, wood and marble saw-mills, paper, flour, and fulling- 
mills, Sophie found a kermis in full swing. Admirable 
opportunity to see the gala. She thought the costumes 
striking, especially the ‘caps of finest lace or linen with 
golden buckles in the nape and great gold or even diamond 
pins over the temples,’ as we know them still. 


30 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Other Dutch towns might be regarded as Amsterdam in 
miniature-industrious, well-to-do, and spruce, their business 
mostly centred round the harbour. Haarlem, already famous 
for its bulbs; Leiden, proud of its university-a fine town, 
Sophie says: in memory of her father she paid homage at 
Boerhaven’s grave. The Hague, elegant and residential; 
Delft, with its delightful ware, yet uninhabitable,^ ‘without a 
library and friends.’ At Scheveningen, a tiny fishing- village, 
already much sought by tourists, though unspoiled as yet by 
casino or hotel, the great North Sea rolled in ‘omnipotent 
and infinite.’ Sophie rose early here to see the catch, rating 
the old fishwives for their avarice as they hastened to The 
Hague with baskets full of fish. Lastly, at Rotteidam, 
nowadays a sea of masts, and doubtless not very^ different 
then, the kermis was again in progress, with its ‘countless 
booths, streets packed with people, dancing dogs and 
monkeys, trick-riders,’ and other strolling fry. The French 
players from The Hague had come in for the fair, and e\ eiy 
evening there was ‘Vauxhall after the English original.’ 

Nor must we forget the field of Dutch art. But Sophie, 
ignorant of ‘significant form,’ judged with eighteenth-century 
vision, mingled with independent standards of her own. 
‘The Night Watch’ was particularly praised, she said, for its 
truth to Nature in the torch-light, while Potter’s ‘Bull’ 
appealed to her, ‘a lover of the country . . . fields and cows’ 
as a true nature reproduction. Thus we will let these remarks 
suffice, for her mention of works by Don, Mieris, Wouwerman, 
and many more besides will teach us little about ait. 
Sophie’s ‘genius’ clearly cared more for the sister muses, 
history and literature; or, better perhaps, preferred theories of 
Greek perfection in the past to facts about Dutch practice 
present before her there. 

‘And so once more we turn the page: 

The slow canal, the yellow-blossomed vale, 

The willow- tufted bank, the gliding sail,’ 


INTRODUCTION 


31 


give place to a new scene. Emerald lawns now, wooded parks 
and verdant country-side are set to charm the eye. ‘I'he heavens 
be praised,’ after forty-eight hours at sea — Harwich, land, 
England at last! 


(iii) The London Scene 

Out of the ashes of 1666, ‘this great and monstrous thing 
called London,’ phoenix-like, rose up anew. For better or 
for worse? A question too far-reaching to be answered lightly. 
How many moderns can be heard echoing Defoe, who 
thought it ‘the disaster of London, as to the beauty of its 
hgure,’ that it was ‘thus stretched out in buildings just at the 
pleasure of every builder or undertaker’? Yes, aesthetically, 
the century had missed an opportunity; it might have 
handed on a finely planned metropolis. Yet the rebirth was 
not wholly bad, for streets were ‘widened’ and ‘prodigious 
files’ of excellent architecture erected; and as the century 
wore on, fine paving-stones were laid and illumination such 
as to be the envy of every foreigner. So if eighteenth-century 
men and women sometimes took fright at the rapacious 
monster which devoured their green fields and woods, we of 
the twentieth century know that some of London’s proudest 
workmanship belonged to them. Foreigners, settled here for 
any length of time, could not fail to notice this expansion, but 
thought it an improvement, for ‘fine streets and squares now 
stood on what but recently had been uncultivated ground, 
brick-kilns and dunghills,’ so that ‘within the last twenty 
years the environs were quite unrecognisable’ (1764-84). 
Forty-three thousand houses had sprung up in little more 
than a decade (1762-79), quotes Archenholz, and if we may 
poach on the very fringe of nineteenth-century preserve 
(1801-2), we find one German leaving Southampton Row, 
with its foundations barely laid, to return in a week’s time and 
find the row completed and unrecognisable. Recent studies 
of London in the century furnish some reasons for this 


32 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

wholesale development. Citizens, weary of the rumble of 
city traffic, growing so vast, were migrating westwards to the 
outskirts; the country, in order to be near the central market 
for business transactions, and then ‘to rub a little of the rust 
off,’ was moving townwards. Industrial concentration has 
brought a ‘deserted village’ in its train, which explains an 
over-brimming city. From such a condition of affairs in 
London there springs a new issue peculiar to the age. ‘East 
is East and West is West’ refers to the ‘emulation’ between 
court and city, townsman and rabble. West-ender thought 
the city man a ‘boor.’ The city rose at six and finished at five 
(except the shops, which were open until ten p.m.); the 
West or ‘other’ end, rose at eleven and finished next day ! W e 
remember young Evelina’s horror at being discovered by my 
lord, her admirer, in so despised and lowly an area as 
Holborn. Here the foreign view of London may prove 
misleading, for the place is ‘judged by the company kept,’ and 
he who resides at ‘the St. James’ End’ will necessarily 
entertain a different idea from a ‘lodger in the city.’ Unfor- 
tunately, records often wear a courtly guise, for travel was a 
luxury as yet, and writing diaries the business of an educated 
few who knew the ropes to some extent, while foreign 
aristocrats, less inclined to a democratic outlook than our own, 
expressed the view that ‘the sensible part of mankind is little 
concerned to know the manners, mode of thinking and living 
of common people.’ One attitude saw the people as reflec- 
tions of the great, sharing their virtues and their vices on a 
lower plane, yet in more emphatic form, their ambitions, 
sports, and pastimes on a smaller scale. This was one way of 
skirting difficulties, which undoubtedly contained more than 
an element of truth, but it is hardly a satisfactory study of 
lower-class conditions, and bodes ill for intimate knowledge 
of Gin Lane. Nor can we blame the foreigner altogether, for 
Gin Lane did not receive its guests with open arms, greeting 
all and sundry as ‘French dogs,’ so that he who valued his 
life, or at any rate his dignity, steered clear of possible calamity. 


INTRODUCTION 


33 


However, in the course of our descriptions an occasional 
glimmer of light creeps through the chinks, a crumb of in- 
formation in the bountiful bill of fare — too often a mere digest 
of some previous source— concerning the face of London. 

The face of London: how gain an adequate impression of 
such a visage? how take a ‘measure of the mighty body?’ 
Maps, meaningless labyrinths of streets and places, will but 
confuse unless we find our bearings. To do this, let us plunge 
into the heart of London and climb St. Paul’s (completed 
1710), like some of our German friends. We shall require a 
very miracle of visibility in this city of eternal mists, but 
granted that, no common sight awaits us from the summit. 
Below there ‘fair Thames casts his course into a crescent,’ 
winding east and west across the city and beyond. Across old 
London Bridge in Southwark, the Gothic spire of St. Saviour’s 
might just catch our eye, with St. George’s Fields stretching 
towards Lambeth. We gaze awe-stricken from ‘the Tower 
at one end to Westminster at the other’ — no insignificant 
boundaries to a city these— symbol of strife and cruel blood- 
shed in the east, of mastery and achievement in the west, two 
main factors of a nation’s history. Westwards, Tot Hill Fields 
lie on our side, the Kent and Surrey hills across the river to 
the south. From the enormous mass of huddled brick beneath, 
the graceful steeple of St. Bride’s or some other of Wren’s 
triumphs might be discerned: little else. Two hours this 
prospect fascinated Moritz; we will not stay so long, but make 
across to London Bridge. Here the sprites of commerce 
crowd the fancy as the mysteries of those docks and wharves, 
those bales and crates, that turmoil of hands, of mingled 
black and white and half-caste races, are disclosed. We turn 
and watch the river traffic — for 

‘ . . . such a road for ships 
Scarce all the world commands 
As is the goodly Thames 
Near where Brute’s city stands’— 
c 


34 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

steering cautiously beneath the bridge west towards some 
light amusement, or east to Greenwich and the training- 
school, to Deptford and its mighty shipyards, and out to 
foreign lands. 

Or if we have more time at our disposal we might wander 
down the century a little to Blackfriars Bridge (first stone laid 
1760), or up the river again, and take our stand upon the 
parapet of Westminster Bridge (begun in 1 738) . What sights 
to charm the eye. That undulating country inviting us on 
one side, the backs of the old Savoy or Somerset Houses, 
and quiet Temple Gardens, or later (after 1769) the famous 
Adelphi Terrace on the other. What a diversity of scenes— 
the east so turbulent, the gateway through which prosperity 
and prestige flow into the luxury-loving, peaceful west. 

So far we have not ranged farther than the town. One 
last attractive view awaits us from without the gates. A stroll 
to Hampstead, a ‘village’ once, now a ‘city’ almost linked 
with London by the Hampstead road, would be anathema in 
that century of horses, chairs, hackneys, and private carriages, 
so we will hire a vehicle (price little over is. 6d.) and hie us 
hence, or more realistically conveyed, ‘tug up ’one hill and 
‘straddle down’ the next. From a situation ‘so near heaven’ 
we are able to take stock of the earth and lowest depths 
around us! We stand on a hill with hills about us in the 
distance— the heights of Kent and Surrey veiled in their own 
characteristic bluish haze, and Bucks invisible behind us— 
below us in the vale country residences, and farther on the 
minsters of east and west with meadows and villages on either 
hand — Islington, Llackney, Bromley to north-east; Padding- 
ton, Kensington, Hammersmith to south-west, and the turrets 
of Windsor just topping the wooded slopes beyond. 

Thus equipped in the general topography of London, we 
will return, leaving the ‘gallant’ but none too ‘modest’ 
company in the popular resorts of Hampstead to their 
pleasures. 

A stand at Leadcnhall Street, the Strand, or any posting- 


INTRODUCTION 35 

inn this or the other side of Thames, would pass the time of 
day and tell us much about eighteenth-century travellers. 
Bettei still, however, go and meet the packet where a motley 
gathering awaits onlookers. Here, jostled by porters and 
customs officers, are specimens of every tourist type — pedant, 
merchant, courtier, idle rich — a cosmopolitan troop of globe- 
trotters seeking strange lands or home from foreign parts. 
In such a group stood Sophie v. La Roche on 4th September 
of 1786, gleeful at her safe landing after forty-eight trying 
hours at sea, and revelling in the Hogarthian figures of 
the English working-class. There being nothing to linger for 
at Harwich, travellers made the seventy-four miles to the 
‘capital of Europe’ as speedily as possible. By Sophie’s time 
communication had become a science; in 1723 it was an art, 
and consequently slower. Travellers at this early date 
evidently changed at Colchester and posted on from there 
next day. Long before Sophie’s visit, however, this change 
is made superfluous, and a traveller taking this route praises 
the ‘comfort and rapid travelling’ in England. That he was 
a private landau passenger (for which he paid five guineas) 
must be considered, though his remark applies to public 
conveyance just as well. Sophie, too, journeyed by priv'ate 
carriage, but complains of her privacy, envying the common 
lot in mail or stage-coach. Had she experienced a ride on 
top or been ‘shaken and bruised’ in the basket, ‘unforgettable’ 
in Moritz’s estimation, she might have been more grateful. 
A post-chaise, about the same price as a landau reckoned by 
the mileage, held two persons only. In one case a wooden 
bench was put in to accommodate four, but the consequent 
squeeze caused one to alight and hire a horse. For royal 
personages and others of high estate the way was smoothed 
as always, for coaches in plenty, sent to meet them, begged 
their patronage; but the King of Denmark, to maintain his 
incognito, spurned all offers in favour of a chaise. 

The next consideration was to find a lodging. Volkmann 
no doubt with some authority, as late as 1781, advises private 


36 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

rooms as cheaper than boarding-house or inn. Most Germans, 
with or without his counsel, evidently agreed. Addresses 
range from St. James’ Palace, Curzon Street, Mayfair, to 
Monuments’ Yard or St. Catherine’s near the Thames, an 
‘execrable hole!’ Charing Cross and the neighbouring streets, 
a cross in both senses between ‘court and city,’ v^as the 
popular resort, partly owing to its centrality. Here Sophie 
put up temporarily at the German Hotel in Suffolk Street— 
we wonder idly whether it was connected with ‘Mistress 
Benoit from the Pfalz,’ who kept lodgings at the upper end 
in 1710— before going to rooms in Portland Street. That 
accommodation was dear goes without saying, for everything 
was dear in London, and travellers were warned to go there 
with full purse. But there is only one complaint of lodgings 
in 1761, before the coronation, when, owing to the crush, one 
room and dressing-room combined and servant’s room in 

Little Ryder Street cost 35s. a week. 

Once settled in there is much to be done. Those housed 
in the palace were obviously catered for; people with friends 
in London, as Sophie had, were not taxed with problems of 
how best to manage their stay, specialists were busy seeing 
their specialities; the rest relied on guides, good sense, and 
chance acquaintance, of which the German eating-houses 
had a store. Before 1 780 most travellers, French and German, 
kept to London and near environs, excepting always flying 
visits to the Cam and Isis. The King of Denmark in 1768 
drove up to York and took a look at our manufacturing towns 
—Leeds, Manchester, and others— but this was a royal 
exception. By the last decade, however, others followed suit, 
making ‘circuits’ in the ‘island of Great Britain,’ as the 
English had been doing. But perambulation of London was 
common to all our clients, rich or poor, blue blood or other- 
wise, with a more or less degree of perseverance. Their ob- 
servations may not have probed far deeper than the surface, 
nor do we expect a penetrating study from the casual foreigner . 
His mission is to see familiar sights with unfamiliar and 


INTRODUCTION 


37 

objective vision, and render them strange and interesting to 
us. If he succeeds he will have fulfilled this mission; that is 
all we seek from him. 

One or two final points on generalities. Meals — not 
unimportant in the daily round — have so far proved ‘more 
pleasing to the eye than to the palate.’ Vegetables cooked 
in water lose all character, fish is good, the meat roasted to a 
nicety, some admit, does not appeal to more sensitive natures, 
apt to turn pale at the mere sight of John Bull’s red ‘rosbif.’ 
Inns excellent in all respects — the waiting unobtrusive and 
polite, the stairs and passages carpeted (not in the manner 
of Erasmus’ time), the beds made differently from continental 
ones, but always clean and very comfortable, the linen aired, 
all in fact irreproachable except to tramping parsons like 
poor Moritz. Travel too is orderly and efficient — little delay 
en route. So much so that one Dutchman, coming down from 
Yarmouth, disliked the speed, which left no time for gossip 
with the coachman, or a dram of local ‘courage’ by the way, 
and yelled continually in his mother tongue, ‘I must get out,’ 
but ineffectively. The coaches, too, were in excellent condi- 
tion, befitting rather a foreign princeling’s coach-house than 
public hire. With these remarks so good, and so to bed. 

Next morning, accustomed to a foreign routine, our 
German guests sometimes woke up betimes. Sophie, as we 
shall see, rose early and was ready dressed by seven- 
thirty, ‘before the maids were even blinking.’ Not a mouse 
stirring then, she betook her to the window and looked out. 
What she saw was something reminiscent of those English prints 
she loved, rather than realities below. First a few workmen 
passed the house, then the cry of a tiny ’prentice chimney- 
sweep trudging by his master, broke the stillness— a picture 
pretty enough, but appealing to humanity to plead its case— 
the clatter of milk-pans filled the air, and maids wearing black 
taffeta caps and ribbons (like the engravings), chintz or linen 
frocks, and white aprons came running up from Georgian 
basements to fetch the milk. Gradually hackneys start to ply. 


38 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and a drowsy west-end wakens from its slumbeis. No 
possibility of breaking fast till ten a.m., however. Meals^are 
curiously arranged, but on reflection quite conveniently, the 
workmen lunch at one, merchants and middle classes at three, 
and the genteel at four or after.’ Ten till four— a clear six 
hours for those not too polite, to work. For the polite, however, 
‘rising late, attiring in frock coat, taking a turn with cane, 
back again, change of apparel, to coffee or chocolate house, 
to court for levee, dinner, the women retire, wine, promenade, 
visits, the show, the assembly, and supper at midnight,’ are 
the several items of a full business day. From our window we 
might stay and watch the ‘men of six a-clock give way to 
those of nine, they of nine to the generation of twelve, when 
they of twelve disappear and make room for the fashionable 
world, who have made two a’clock the noon of the day. But 
we poor, tired itinerants must set out, for from our post but 
little can be seen. 

Leaving Suffolk Street with Sophie then (we will keep to 
1786, for by this date most of the innovations had been 
made : Tyers’ Vauxhall, Ranelagh, the Pantheon, opened 1732, 
’42, and ’72, Sadler’s Wells and other gardens made from 
1740 on, new squares round Mayfair added by 175^5 
bridges begun in 1738 and ’60, old London Bridge improved 
in 1754, while much of the London scene stood long ago and 
scorned its parvenu additions of the seventeenth and eigh- 
teenth centuries), we cross over to the Mall and along to St. 
James’ Park for a fashionable few hours. In this pleasant 
counterfeit of Nature, Beau Tibbs and his colleagues take the 
air (a favourite English pastime), the ‘ladies of St. James’,’ 
ride or stroll (silently as is their wont), cows graze, are milked 
to order for a glass, fallow deer crop the grass or laze. The 
queen’s residence to our right, Buckingham House, is an 
inviting, homely little palace challenging its frowsy neigh- 
l)our, St. James’ (now behind us), to rebuild Whitehall after 
Inigo Jones’ elegant design, more worthy of the glory of an 
English monarch. Surprising to find Dr. Graham and his 


INTRODUCTION 


39 

Temple ol Hymen and of Health in such a neighbourhood 
(in ’75 opposite the palace, in ’81 once more in Pall Mall), or 
Katterfelto, ‘with his hair on end,’ over there in Pieeaclilly 
(spasmodically from 1782). But the English, original and 
luxurious, are a credulous crowd, and easily put upon by 
quacks. What better rendezvous than Graham’s Temple for 
the Gorinnas who throng the London streets, theatres, and 
drawing-rooms even, the only sign of their profession in the 
higher ranks being a certain chic, good looks, and sometimes 
wit, in which they surpassed the chaster members of their 
sex. The latter, lovely too, with large blue ‘languid’ eyes and 
milk and roses (‘natural!’), captured almost every foreign 
traveller; one or two more critically disposed, occasionally 
withstood complete surrender. For with all their beauty these 
fair Saxons lacked that vivacity and general smartness of 
their Latin neighbours. The Englishwoman was stiff and 
often overdressed, seemed vain and cared for little but 
amusements, was silent, even amongst her sex, so that ‘twenty 
women together did not speak a word.’ But they kept 
excellent house, where numerous maids, ravishing creatures, 
dressed in silk and well-spoken, difficult to distinguish from 
their mistresses, had nothing else to do but dust the furniture. 
(We need hardly add that reference is to the upper ten.) 
They were good wives too, and generous towards their men- 
folk, accepting ‘Harry’s List of Covent Garden Ladies’ with 
apparent resignation, as they accepted drink and other 
contemporary evils. 

During these and similar reflections we have been rambling 
round the streets and squares in the vicinity. The latter are 
a delightful feature of modern planning and quite unique. 
Their copious trees and well-kept lawns add shade and 
greenery to an already verdant parkland in the west. The 
mansions railed off all around them, smoke-begrimed already, 
and unostentatious, are a little disappointing beside the 
hotels and palaces of foreign aristocracy. Once past those 
unassuming portals though, it is a different story altogether. 


40 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

for here relics of handsome Jacobean furniture, shining 
mahogany, lordly Chippendale, graceful Adam, or light 
Hepplewhite or Sheraton, bespeak patrician ease, unbounded 
wealth; here Dutch masters, Italian ‘plunder’ or works by 
the new and pleasing English school adorn the walls; here 
delicate porcelain, gleaming silver, sparkling crystal, invite 
one to partake of giant meals. There is little of the conti- 
nental gilt, but everything displays a taste, comfort, and 
abundance. The Englishman’s home is quite obviously his 

C3*stlc 

To the south-west, past Hyde Park, famous for its duels 
and troop reviews, and later fashion parades, superseding the 
popular St. James’, lies Kensington village; but we will turn 
down Tyburn Road to Oxford Street and see the shops. One 
German resident, on and off from ’69 to ’79, tells us that this 
street alone contained as many lamps as the whole of Paris, 
so that the scene, with shops open till ten p.m. and brightly lit, 
deceived the Prince of Monaco into believing all this brilliance 
in his honour. Another German visitor, an Anglophobe, who 
wished to save his people from the wreck of British finance 
and corruption, decried this lighting as gross extravagance. 
Most were impressed, however, and grateful after the 
murkmess of foreign towns m this matter. The shops did us 
justice too: watchmakers, silversmiths, china-shops, con- 
fectioners without equal, and the goods so elegantly displayed 
behind those fine glass windows. We imagine the effect not 
unlike Old Bond Street of a few years back. England had 
plenty with which to fill her windows, for her Wedgwoods, 
Seddons, Hatchetts, her Bartolozzis, Rowlandsons, and 
Boydells, her matchless instrument-makers were renowned, 
her cutlery, clocks and cloth, engravings, furniture and 
coach-making, and sundry other manufactures famed. And, 
though she may have been praised unduly for her iron- 
mongery and small steel goods, and could not compete with 
France in the art of fashioning bagatelles, as one Muralt 
(1725) cavils, these were mere trifles as compared to her 


INTRODUCTION 


41 


growing eminence in the field of manufacture. What else 
should England, nation of shopkeepers, boast if not first-rate 
shops. The Pantheon, too (erected 1771), decorating Oxford 
Street at a cost of £90,000, according to our Germans, is 
‘worthy of notice.’ Here high life, gathered for concerts, 
masquerades, balls and ridottos, might be studied at leisure 
from the gallery — not altogether to its advantage. 

Our next concern — how to pass the evening? London by 
Sophie’s day teemed with amusements and gaieties. The 
programme was lavish, the choice complicated by such 
profusion. Much will depend on the season: in winter the 
gardens will be closed (Vauxhall open daily from spring to 
late summer, Ranelagh three times weekly in the summer) ; 
in summer from June till September Drury Lane and Covent 
Garden shut, leaving the Little Theatre or Italian Opera, 
Elaymarket (the latter neither popular nor very good), as 
alternatives. Then again the climate was variable, never 
extreme, but, like the inhabitants, whimsical, so that it 
might be warm in the winter and cold enough for fires in 
June. (Those dreadful fires which the English call ‘company,’ 
‘hugging’ them till the front of their body is ‘roasted,’ while 
the back remains ‘frozen.’ Perhaps the habit of staring into 
them accounts for the numerous bespectacled men!) We 
might spend our first night at the play then. We are too late 
for Garrick, whose great days at Drury Lane are past, but 
Sarah Siddons is there to stir us still, or Mrs. Abington to 
provoke our admiration. But failing these, we must content 
ourselves with lesser lights ; one of F oote’s or Cibber’s plays may 
be running at the Little, featuring Palmer— and, if not, there is 
always the audience to amuse one. Unlike to-day, public and 
players were equally interesting. The English playhouses 
were ‘famous’ for their ‘noise and uproar,’ and the ‘upper 
gallery’ did not fail foreign spectators in providing some 
source of amusement, if it was only throwing orange skins 
into the pit. Such behaviour, however, did not imply any 
social derision of an actor’s rank and status. Once an 


42 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

acknowledged star in his profession, he was received and 
recognised by the great as in no other land. Where else in 
Europe did a lord stoop to become an actor’s pall-bearer? 
Would that Germany would treat her actors and literary 
men with similar respect. The English school, however, did 
not always go down with foreigners, some finding it ‘extrava- 
gant,’ and the voices seeming like ‘frightful bowlings.’ And 
after 1776, with Sheridan’s supremacy or Kemble’s regency 
at Drury Lane, the ‘former glory’ waned, Sheridan, despite 
his clever plays, having hastened the collapse by his indo- 
lence; while by 1802 Mrs. Jordan, once the popular Miss 
Tom Boy, was become too fat and vulgar, thought one 
German. Departed were the great theatre days, when stage 
controversy was rife as to the relative merits of France and 
England, Garrick’s heyday, when such as Lichtenberg grew 
warm in praise of English acting, was no more. 

The itinerary next day might include Westminster, a 
coffee-house for lunch, and a ramble round the city. The 
Abbey, with its history in monument, the Parliament, seat 
of part of that clever anomaly, the British Constitution, 
shared prominence in the traveller’s record with St. Paul’s 
and the Tower, Greenwich and Bedlam! In the Abbey — 
‘awful and melancholy’— the German propensity for tomb- 
stones and epitaphs was sated. They collected these with 
avidity, and most took objection to Gay’s frivolous lines. For 
the beauties of Gothic form, that ‘frozen music’ of archi- 
tecture, eighteenth-century tourists had little appreciation. 
They were more concerned with entering by the west door 
for the Poets’ Corner, with comments on contemporary 
sculpture as represented by Rysbrack, ‘little Roubiliac,’ and 
others in the monuments, with the spirit of Addison’s medita- 
tions on things transitory, or inquisitive as to whether 
national gratitude or proud relatives’ full purses were 
responsible for so much recognition of the national figure- 
heads and minor personalities. The Parliament Houses, on 
the other hand, were material for reflection on things, not 


INTRODUCTION 


43 

permanent perhaps, but less perishable: the machinery of 
government, the house of peers, of commons, the monarchy. 
The bureau du spic, a hint of eloquence, of contemporary 
Ciceros, of rough debates and rowdy scenes; Black Rod, the 
Woolsack, quaint old survivals, very impressive though. 
Visions of great speeches or electioneering thrills were con- 
jured up, ‘excited scenes’ at the hustings during campaigns. 

After such a morning, lunch at some coffee-house, possibly 
near Charing Cross, not far from King Street, and on the 
route for further sightseeing, might be welcome. Especially 
since the English coffee-house habitues maintain a ‘very 
decorous stiffness,’ we shall not be disturbed. Indeed, the 
silence is quite impressive; have we perchance strayed into a 
Quakers’ meeting? Evidently not; there is some little 
whispered conversation, and for the rest John Bull is studying 
the daily paper, of which there is ample choice. If anyone 
should mention politics, tongues will soon be loosened and 
the debating spirit, reared at evening ‘spouting clubs,’ will 
take the floor. These houses are the resorts of stock-jobbers 
and business men, wags and wits and every man, in fact. 
But for them, Evelina might never have seen the light, while 
even thieves and beggars had their clubs in the St. Giles’ 
area, whither the graceful notice — since thought to be mere 
evidence of ironic eighteenth-century humour — ‘Here you 
may get drunk for id., dead drunk for 2d.,’ beckoned their 
clientele to partake from tables where knives and forks were 
chained. The eating-house and drinking-booth were clubs 
delightful for their sociability, indispensable for business, but 
breeding and harbouring many a vice and drunken brawl. 

Leaving Charing Cross we saunter down the Strand past 
the ‘new, tasteful’ Adelphi buildings on the river side, past 
Somerset House, now lately rebuilt and used for offices, the 
Royal Society and Academy, to Temple Bar, where we beg 
the Mayor and Aldermen for their traditional sign of 
admittance. St. Paul’s, ‘the beauty of all Protestant churches 
in the world,’ comparable only to St. Peter’s for magnificence 


44 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and size, monarch of the city, receives us next. Railed in and 
cramped between old mediseval streets and houses, against 
the architect’s every scheme, which was ‘unhappily baulked, 
the interior is disappointing and presents an ‘uncommon 
vacancy.’ The Whispering Gallery — in which Sophie had 
an unprecedented experience — and the view retrieved its 
reputation. On again to Pluto’s Palace, the Bank, or to the 
’Change, where the statues of Gresham and Sir John Bernard 
awaited company in neighbouring niches, though from twelve 
to three o’clock the place was full enough of agitated living 
beings; East India House, where Sophie came upon a sale of 
tea, the Guildhall, cramped and unimpressive, chiefly 
remarkable in foreign eyes for a statue of Mayor Beckford, 
for those ‘horrible-looking giants used to frighten perverse 
children,’ Gog and Magog, than for its records or association 
with the London trades and guilds, yet very curious as a 
symbol of the Lord Mayor’s estate with all his city retainers. 
Here in 1761, after a Lord Mayor’s show, were served ‘at the 
Foreign Ministers’ table and at another, two large pieces of 
roast beef weighing 227 and 230 lbs.’ Lastly, from here to 
that ‘very great and most strong Palatine Tower’ guarded by 
curious ‘lobster-coloured’ yeomen. The Tower formed a kind 
of general peep-show for the foreigner, with its zoo— the blood 
of wild beasts, we remember, was said to have ‘tempered the 
mortar’!— its mint, its armoury, crown-jewels exhibited 
behind bars in a dimly lit apartment by a witch-like hag, 
and its fund of murderous legend. Home again via the docks 
and customs, no doubt like Billingsgate, ‘forums of elo- 
quence,’ where Sophie succumbed to the oyster hawkers and 
enjoyed the first taste of this epicure delight. London’s 
markets, ‘monsters for magnitude’ and ‘very many,’ ‘flesh,’ 
fish, vegetable, corn markets, not omitting rag fair, London’s 
churches ‘rather convenient than fine, not adorned with 
pomp and pageantry as in Popish countries,’ our Germans 
took for granted on the whole, so crammed their programmes 
were with occupation and amusement. The Mansion House, 


INTRODUCTION 


45 


a ‘clumsy building,’ the city king’s abode (begun 17395 
completed 1753!), was apt to be forgotten amongst the host 
of more impressive sights. What, on the other hand, almost 
every German strove to include was a trip to Windsor and 
environs. The Hanoverian passion for this resort spread 
rapidly amongst their kinsmen, whose praises of the hallowed 
spot develop into lyric song. St. George’s Chapel, with its 
ancient heraldic emblems in the choir, the Hall of Beauties, 
a terrace superb (dimension 1870 feet, inserted carefully by 
all), the Order of the Bath, and the frescoes of its history; 
Eton, now a school for aristocrats, a foundation for poor 
scholars then, so very English, close by, and Windsor Forest, 
immortalised by Pope, stirred the Anglophile imagination and 
realised his dreams of this fair isle. Richmond too, further 
ground for rhapsody, ‘sweet Richmond,’ with its ‘fairy hills 
and flowery dells, above all with that queen of rivers, thy 
own majestic Thames.’ Here was ‘Elysium, Richmond,’ or 
seen in a different light, here was ‘a real Frascati.’ Such 
‘green hills,’ such rural beauties the Germans had anticipated 
from their reading of English poetry and novel. Here Sophie, 
whose affections for a Swabian meadow in her early child- 
hood bred a subsequent love of English nature scenes in 
literature and engraving, sought and found the park-like 
qualities she cherished. Whatever else had failed, this trip 
at least did not disappoint admirers. 

But London, with its crowded streets and haunts, recalls 
us from our rural panegyric. It still lays claim to some 
attention from us for its numerous charities, museums, and 
institutes. Bedlam (founded in the sixteenth century), 
sinee palatially reconstructed, a giant lunatic asylum in 
Moorfields, was reverently regarded by the Germans almost 
as a shrine of pilgrimage; to Greenwich and Chelsea, 
immense, majestic piles of eighteenth-century origin, fit to 
house kings, they also regularly repaired; the Foundling 
Hospital (1739) also had its share of visitors. Westminster, 
Guy’s, the London Hospital, infirmaries, springing up like 


46 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

mushrooms to support more hoary institutions, such as 
Bart’s or Thomas’, in this humanitarian age. Then again, 
the institutes and societies for the promotion of knowledge, 
medical and agricultural groups, and the Royal Academy 
( 1 769) . No doubt many of these good works were overstaffed 
or money was wasted on administration, or other abuses might 
be found as Wendeborn, our realist, indicates, yet they were an 
advance from German duchesses carrying broth into poor 
hovels and visiting the bedside— a somewhat precarious 
subsidy. Further, the museums: catalogues and collections 
have intimidated us and we have weakly beaten a retreat. 
But since the time is come (having first carefully written for 
our pass), let us be bold and make for Montague House in 
Great Russell Street, now the British Museum (purchased 
for ‘£ 10,000 in 1752’). Here one of two measures must be 
ruthlessly adopted. Either we explore this vast assembly of 
acquisition and bequeathments thoroughly, devoting a week 
or more to sections on natural history, on coins, collections 
of books, manuscripts and charters, Egyptian curios, or 
classical antiquities, with Paulet for guide (1761), there being 
nothing better, or we merely cross the threshold and take a 
peep, leaving the rest to assiduous or leisured visitors. One 
refreshing feature, hardly scholarly, was the sign ‘no 
gratuities,’ for German visitors were weary of the 
fees and found the vails expected after meals at friends’ 
private houses, ruinous. ‘Stunned, confused, and over- 
powered,’ after one effort at the Museum, we will try our 
luck at Ashton Lever’s, whose private collection of natural 
history specimens, the Holophusican (!) open to the public 
was unanimously acclaimed as better even than the British 
Museum’s. Natural history lovers like Sophie, eager disciple 
of St. Pierre, would revel in this mass of minerals, fossils, 
shells, animal, plant and vegetable kingdom; we will glance 
at her catalogue (copied carefully from Wendeborn, who 
copied carefully from Entick, we imagine!) and pass on to 
the library and pictures in Buckingham House, the cartoons 


INTRODUCTION 


47 


and fine paintings at Hampton Court, Agar’s private gallery 
in Park Lane, Townley’s antiquities, or the Royal Academy 
exhibition. Or if in search of lighter pleasures, we might look 
in at Cox’s Museum or Merlin von Liittich, inventor of 
mechanical curios and adaptable furniture at Hanover 
Square. 

Sophie’s description of his ‘stunt’ pieces makes amusing 
reading. The English seem to delight in such grotesque, 
sometimes macabre, amusements as cock-fighting, bear- 
baiting, wrestling, or boxing bouts, for which high stakes were 
laid. In fact, any kind of match from rowing to sack racing, or 
the great horse races at Newmarket or Epsom formed an excuse 
for betting, and drew spectators from rich and poor alike. 

Last of all, some sunny days in the environs to blow away 
the dust of ancient monuments. ‘Needless excursions’ into 
the country should be avoided, but in this period, when 
surrounding villages, embryos of future suburbs, are joining 
up with London, that ‘over-massive head upon the dwarf- 
like body of an elf,’ a flying visit (the metaphor may be 
permitted in those days of balloons and ‘Flying Machines’) 
is imperative. Had we been wise or desired to save 
unnecessary journeyings to and fro, some of the pro- 
gramme might have been accomplished on our return 
from Windsor, starting from Hampton Court and following 
the river. Reminiscent of those lovely mediceval colleges at 
Oxford, or so one early German visitor describes it, Wolsey’s 
luxurious Tudor mansion lay there almost sunk into oblivion 
since the modern craze for Windsor. An occasional visitor 
might disturb the peace and leave again with pleasant 
memories of the park and gardens, the maze, or pictures. 
But for any normal eighteenth-century rambler the venerable 
Tudor courts and crenellated towers will sink into insigni- 
ficance by the William and Mary wings, so very much more 
elegant in their opinion. Twickenham, their next stage, will 
prove more popular, where the villa and immortal grotto 
housed a poet praised by Voltaire as ‘most elegant, most 


48 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

correct and most harmonious,’ as capable of ‘transforming 
the shrill whistle of the English trumpet into the soft tones of 
a flute’— a French horn, we presume! To Kew, with yet 
another unpretentious royal manor, the queen’s summer 
house, and lovely gardens spoiled somewhat by a curious 
Chinese pagoda, but some of the ‘wealthiest for foreign plants,’ 
a German speeialist tells us (1777). On past Gunnersbury 
Palace, where the Danish king was entertained in ’68, to 
Chiswick, one of Rousseau’s temporary abodes with dog and 
mistress; Hammersmith, and Kensington, mere villages like 
the former, but Kensington distinguished for its royal palace, 
built by Mary, and her favourite residence, also for its 
gardens, now out of date but full of London strollers; then 
through Paddington village towards Harrow, which, accord- 
ing to Defoe, Charles ii claimed could provide theologians 
with at least one prominent example of the ‘visible church of 
Christ.’ We will not venture further, but turn our horses’ 
heads towards Hampstead, crowded with Londoners taking 
the air, the waters, or sitting at ‘George’s’. Here one might 
dance or talk and, before the ’forties, when Vauxhall, Rane- 
lagh, and other gardens usurped its privileges, it was no 
doubt the townsmen’s most popular resort. 

During our circuit we shall have admired the numerous 
country seats to right and left. In these English hospitality 
should be sought, not in the city. Here the true spirit of 
English culture was displayed, which fact is sometimes 
stressed in foreign character sketches, to undeceive the 
prevalent view amongst them that the English were un- 
friendly and reserved. Some foreigners undertook a trip to 
Stowe or Blenheim, in which case they never failed to repeat 
the undying tribute to Vanbrugh: ‘Lie heavy on him, earth!’ 
We, however, must content ourselves with specimens less 
distant: Sion House or Osterley Park, for instance, both 
monuments of Adam’s skill; or if we are fortunate as Sophie, 
an invitation to some country place, as Hastings’ Beaumont 
Lodge, would lend more intimacy to such impressions. Our 


INTRODUCTION 


49 

attention would particularly be drawn towards the gardens, 
for English landscape gardening, like English literature, was 
coming into vogue and ousting French. The underlying 
theory of the system seems to have been adherence to natural 
lines and beauties, yet with discreet and cunning use of art 
to polish the crudities of nature — ^just that difference between 
the subtly powdered, perfumed urbane lady and her rough, 
but pretty, rustic cousin. ‘Winding gravel paths’ — not 
straight and artificial avenues like the French — ‘grass walks,’ 
and a rivulet or waterfall, for ‘the Englishman thought 
nothing of a garden without water,’ were the main features 
of a style of which William Kent became the great exponent. 

And now our time is drawing to a close, leaving us with 
two familiar friends as yet unseen. Vauxhall and Ranelagh, 
playgrounds of London, where rich and poor, kings and 
beggars, wits and respectable bourgeoisie rubbed shoulders 
regardless. Notwithstanding, there were differences in the 
degree of rubbing, while the feeble ‘imitations,’ such as 
Marybone, Bagnigge Wells and others, were definitely 
scorned as for ‘apprentices, journeymen, and clerks to enter- 
tain their ladies.’ But returning to the parent tree, it is 
quite clear that Ranelagh was thought more decorous than 
Vauxhall. Was it not ‘quite a shocking thing,’ for instance, 
‘to see ladies come to so genteel a place as Ranelagh with 
hats on’ ? [which reminds us that Madame Duval in Rome 
forgot to be a Roman, for no breach of etiquette was quite so 
criminal in England as for a lady not to wear a hat outdoors. 
Even the lower-class women did, some of our Germans 
noted]. But we have deviated. 

There is no need of introduction to these twin famous 
gardens, the haunt of every eighteenth-century student. Who 
does not know Vauxhall where ‘grove nods at grove, each 
alley has its brother,’ the trees, the numerous lights and 
company, the scurry to the cascade— ‘why we must run or we 
shall lose it’— the scenes of ribaldry in these ‘dark walks’ and 
‘long alleys’ ? Foreign views show concerted admiration of this 

D 


50 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

wonder, but for one discordant note— a complaint that food 
was ‘exorbitant’ and tablecloths ‘dirty.’ Entrance, however, 
was cheap— a shilling only— and the place always open, so 
that on rainy days the orchestra withdrew indoors. The 
‘Gothic’ obelisk, Roubiliac’s statue of Handel, those of 
Milton and of Thomson, Dayman’s paintings as background 
to the supper-boxes, were all matters for applause, but more 
than all these, the walks lit by ‘large, globular lamps’ and 
‘small glass ones,’ the whistle which blew at nine when, to 
prevent ‘catching cold,’ there arose from out of the earth a 
vast number of rollers’ elegantly painted, unfolding as they 
rose ‘over all the boxes on three sides,’ pro viding^shelter from 
nocturnal breezes, and the hallucination of the tin cascade 
caused positive furore. While Ranelagh, with superior 
entrance fee of 2S. 6d. and ‘company much better and more 
select,’ was thought a gay, enthralling scene, an elegant 
piece of architecture’ ; Matthew Bramble strongly disagreed, 
however, finding little fun in the pastimes of a company 
‘following one another’s tails in an eternal circle like so many 
blind asses in an olive mill,’ or ‘drinking hot water under the 
denomination of tea till 9 or 100 clock at night to keep 
them awake for the rest of the evening. As for the orchestia, 
he continues, ‘especially the vocal music, it is well for the 
performers that they cannot be heard distinctly. But we 
recognise the misanthropic plaint of our whimsical dyspeptic, 
and have only to read on to find the livelier verdict of his 
young charges. That ‘only tea and coffee were served in the 
rotunda’ seems to have been an attempt at abstinence in this 
age of plenteous liquor. This rotunda was a ‘large circular 
hall, 150 feet in diameter, round which were 48 recesses, 
above these boxes and a fire in the centre,’ where the orchestra 
once stood. But who are we to speak of Ranelagh or 
Vauxhall, knowing Dobson’s delicate reconstruction of these 
pleasances where ‘sauntered the beaux and belles’ and 
sometimes ‘happier cits’ of eighteenth-century London? 

Sadler’s Wells, the Royal Circus, delicious tea-gardens and 


INTRODUCTION 


51 

milk -rooms have been neglected; ‘high life below stairs,’ the 
sinister aspects of eightccnth-centiiry London, overlooked; 
the ballad of ‘Beau Brocade,’ the highwayman, with his lower- 
class brethren, the footpads, common thieves, and pickpockets, 
omitted from our narrative. But like Defoe, no unworthy 
guide, we ‘in the person of an itinerant,’ have scarce had time 
to delve much deeper than the surface layers which met the 
eye, nor have those of us who choose ‘the manner of a 
letter,’the aims of an historian. That night-watchmen were 
drunken, bribery and corruption rife, the police non-existent, 
that poverty, distress, and roguery lurked in the back alleys 
and an excessive luxury corrupted those it seemed to bless, 
are horrid scars which marred the face of London, but no 
concern of such a cursory view. Nor has Sophie, with a 
vision always blind to unpleasantness, touched on such 
problems or presented any but the rosiest of spectacles — we 
should add that she had neither time nor opportunity to do 
other. We have purposely refrained from dipping into her 
material, so that it should seem fresh and cast new light on 
well-worn paths and familiar objects. Having already 
traversed the route ourselves with her compatriots and 
colleagues, we may presume to criticise her performance. 
As usual, she has mixed a pot-pourri of learning— often dull- 
picturesque description— always lively— with interludes of 
personal meetings and acquaintanceship. She had an odd 
assembly of celebrities upon her list: Cagliostro, ‘crack- 
brained’ Gordon, Warren Hastings, Herschel the star-gazer, 
Fanny Burney and their Majesties. Fanny’s diary for the 
period 1785-87 throws much light on Sophie’s view of 
London and forms an entertaining supplement, for they have 
many names and things in common. There, too, we shall 
find a comical and not altogether complimentary story of 
their meeting. Fanny admits Sophie’s disadvantage, for 
Mme. La Fite, her friend, herself a bundle of uncontrolled 
emotion, had pressed the introduction against Fanny’s 
inclination. ‘Had I met her in any other way, she (Sophie) 


52 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

might have pleased me in no common degree, for could I 
have conceived her character to be unaffected, her manners 
have a softness that would render her excessively engag- 
ing. She is now bien passee — no doubt fifty (actually 56) 
yet has a voice of touching sweetness, eyes of dove-like 
gentleness, looks supplicating for favour, and an air and 
demeanour the most tenderly caressing. ... I can readily 
believe that she has had attractions in her youth nothing 
short of fascinating. Had I not been present and so deeply 
engaged in this interview I had certainly been caught by her 
myself; for in her presence I constantly felt myself forgiving 
and excusing what in her absence I as constantly found past 
defence or apology.’ There follow passages of ludicrous 
emotion, the air was charged with a sentimentality with 
which Fanny could not cope. The interviews, conducted in 
French, were all too reminiscent of the Precieuses Ridicules, 
yet ‘charmante Miss Borni,’ having been kissed mille fois 
against her will almost yielded to this dynamic personality. 
We wonder what a Wesley or Warren Hastings thought of 
her. 

Turning to her diary once more we admit that her politics, 
the mere ‘journalistic gossip of a lady out to please,’ count 
for little— but she never tried to shine in ‘man’s domain’ 
of politics or history, as she imagined them, and certainly 
had no intention of figuring in a thesis on the subject— or 
again, that her style does not rank with that of Pastor Moritz 
or her matter with Wendeborn’s objective study of conditions, 
we confess. Yet with all that she achieved first place for 
co-ordination of light and heavy matter, narrative and 
anecdote different from any contemporary diary. And 
steering her pen quite nimbly between the heavy handbook 
compilation and the airy letter which skipped from place 
to place at random, she succeeded in giving as complete a 
set of facts concerning London sights as any. We should 
like to make a study of her sources and those of other records 
at the time; we should like to show our readers how Lhong 


INTRODUCTION 53 

Dinas, Sophie’s origin of London, came from Volkmann, 
how in his turn he borrowed this from Entick, who in his 
turn borrowed it from — but if we were to follow out the 
astonishing coincidences in the spate of eighteenth-century 
travel literature, it would lead us far from the London 
scene and farther still from Sophie. 

Let us conclude then on the note of appreciation which 
her handiwork demands. One German writes that he 
derived ‘much pleasure and information from her diary.’ 
‘You must be well acquainted with English history and 
literature, he says. And so she was. With all her failings, 
her independent vision, her delightful personality never 
fail to win us to her side despite occasional irritation, and so 
her diary for these two qualities alone will find admirers 
ready to accompany her untiringly from St. James’ round the 
city, from Cagliostro’s presence to Herschel’s telescope or 
to an eighteenth-century tea-party in the best of taste at 
Windsor. 


(iv) An Eighteenth-century Silhouette 

And so we turn to greet the personality who in her time 
might boast an international circle of acquaintance: one 
who had dropped a curtsey at Versailles and Windsor, 
exchanged a friendly word with such a motley crowd as 
Goethe, Cagliostro, Buffon, Gessner or Lavater and many, 
many more; one who inspired much criticism and affection, 
yet whose fame and writings, the very essence of her genera- 
tion, faded with it. It is for us to bring to life this stark, 
black silhouette, to sense the mobility of those rigid features, 
and trace the subtler lights and shades of a vivacious 
countenance. 

When Sophie v. La Roche was already an old lady— in the 
August of 1806— her oldest and most trusty friend, Christoph 
Martin Wieland, wrote her a ‘sentimental’ letter. In this 


54 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

our patriarch of three-and-seventy years reviews the spring 
time of their friendship and reminds his Psyche of an old 
refrain she used to sing: 

‘That Tin made so we all know, 

Why regret, if that is so,’ 

and in all sincerity admits that no rhyme could be more 
suited to her person. It is true that she hummed this air 
before she knew much of the buffetings of fortune, but as we 
follow her career we are inclined to agree with Wieland. 

‘Sophie, Frau v. la Roche, nee von Gutermann of Gutarz- 
hofen, born 6 Xre 1730. Espoused 27 Xre 1750: this 
silhouette made July 28 i775- Lovely of stature, noble of 
birth and breeding, outstanding both in science and in virtue, 
best of spouses and of mothers, most loyal friend, most 
charitable of human souls, yet with a manly intellect and 
modesty’ — this the hymenean in her husband’s hand on the 
back of an old silhouette. The testimony of a gallant age to 
an unusual woman, yet one which we may credit with some 
element of truth, for Georg Michael worshipped ^ at the 
shrine of cold reason, like many of his contemporaries, and 
was not to be swept uncritically away. Let us expand this 
history in miniature and see what praise is due. 

We can imagine Sophie as a child first in the small town- 
ship of Kaufbeuren, Swabia, Southern Germany, transplanted 
in her early teens to the greater splendour of Augsburg, 
the capital, old imperial city and ‘magazine of Europe,’ and 
trained in the rigorous discipline of an orthodox Protestant 
household. The eldest of a family of thirteen, life seems to 
have been a serious, though not unpleasant matter, for 
Sophie. Her father to all appearances was a stern man and a 
learned— a doctor of some repute in the vicinity, who in his 
youth had studied in Holland under the eminent scientist 
Boerhaven. To her father then Sophie’s education was 
allotted, while from her mother she learned the gentler 


iNTRODUCTlON 


55 

feminine arts and pastimes of the age. So by the time she 
reached fourteen she must have been a quaint mixture of 
Pietist ideas gleaned from her father’s garner of sermons by 
one Francke, eminent revivalist, philanthropist and preacher, 
Brocke’s nature hymnal, a Te Deum in poetry entitled 
Earthly Pleasure in God, and the facile finishing-school accom- 
plishments gained in her mother’s company — French, 
drawing, painting, dancing and the like. 

At this juncture Bianconi comes upon the scene. Fie was a 
young Italian doctor, stationed in Augsburg as surgeon to the 
Prince Bishop, whose introduction to the Gutermanns was 
no doubt effected at one of the doctor’s learned gatherings. 
For Dr. Gutermann, medical officer for Augsburg and dean 
of the medical faculty there, made his home the meeting- 
place of scholars. Sophie would be present at those assem- 
blies handing round the books — and no doubt storing 
information which was later to bear fruit. Thus began the 
romantic episode with Bianconi, and though the tale ends 
sadly, it left Sophie wiser and maturer. 

Together the friends explored the regions of Italian art 
and poetry or made trips along the rediscovered paths of 
Greek and Roman antiquities— Winckelmann’s epoch-making 
thoughts on ancient art were yet to come, though Montesquieu 
had already paved the way for Gibbon— nor must we forget 
the fine brown eyes of our brunette, that Bianconi was a 
dark and handsome child of the South. The idyll, however, 
was broken by religious strife, heritage of Augsburg’s former 
schisms, and the marriage, fixed for 1748, but postponed 
till ’49 on account of her mother’s death, never happened. 
Earlier friction on religious scores between the father and 
the lover, now aggravated in discussing the religion of the 
offspring, led to a dramatic close. Bianconi, injured suitor, 
hied him to Bologna; the doctor made a bonfire of the relics 
of the intimacy; Sophie renounced all fruits of their friend- 
ship— her music, her Italian. So the typical romance of this 
and the coming age— irate and autocratic father, romantic 


56 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

lover, thwarted but obedient daughter — drew to a close, and 
Sophie went to Biberach to recuperate. 

In affairs of the heart repetition can prove a better remedy 
than cure! For it brings relief to the old wound and fresh 
stimulus to the patient. Sophie put this precept to the test 
during her sojourn with relatives in Biberach; here, ‘looking 
out on to the distant, solitary churchyard of St. Martin’s’, 
the seeds of a new love took root in her. This time her 
erudite young cousin, Christoph Wicland, became the object 
of her affections. This young man, who boasted seventeen 
years to Sophie’s score, was not ill-qualified to act as mentor, 
versed as he was already in the works of rationalist philosophy 
and thought, while his upbringing amongst the Pietist 
fraternity of the monastery of Bergen gave the couple certain 
points of contact from the start. This relationship, with its 
currents of new thought and the creative genius it aroused 
in Wieland, must have swept Sophie like a fresh breeze 
after the thundery stuffiness of the last years in Augsburg. 

A picture of these adolescents hammering out the problems 
of their kind might engage our notice for a moment. 
Humanity and religion will no doubt puzzle them, they will 
want to find their own place in the universe. Was God the 
supernatural manifestation of Pietist creed? Were the 
Rationalists right in their conception of a material world, 
of nature as a game between cause and effect? Or they 
would wonder why in a community of human souls some 
were born to rule, while others fawned and groaned beneath 
their absolutism and caprice. Perhaps again current literary 
discussions would interest them. ‘I like to think that the 
naturally good heart of my beloved is being beautified by 
the edifying reflexions of the Spectator, for example, or 
Mr. de la Bruyere’s characters, Pamela, most of Moliere’s 
comedies, Destouches, Mile Barbier ... or the writings of 
a Scudery, the Rational Critics, the Hamburg Patriot.’ 
Here is a galaxy indeed, but none the less a signpost to their 
generation. Two young moderns corresponding here— 


INTRODUCTION 


57 


should we seek a parallel— would replace the French for 
Russian works, the English for German or American, while 
the last-named journals represent the weeklies which teach 
us how to think and what to read! 

Wieland’s catalogue of books brings to mind the young 
lady’s library of the day, and suggests a further problem 
which may have crossed their path, though we find only 
unconscious echoes in themselves. For the roots of nineteenth- 
century suffragetism lie fast embedded in early eighteenth- 
century soil, and it fell to Sophie’s generation in the main to 
reinstate what was then branded the ‘incarnation of vice.’ 
In this enterprise Fenelon, the champion of better education, 
and his disciples in Germany and elsewhere, the spiritual 
revival known as Pietism headed by a phalanx of ‘beautiful 
souls,’ the moral weeklies which ‘grew up like mushrooms 
overnight,’ modelled on Addison’s Spectator, all prepared the 
way. 

And so by such devious paths we resume acquaintance 
with our Arcadians, ‘wandering in the shade of young 
poplar trees like Gessner’s shepherds.’ For Wieland regarded 
his ‘Doris’ with the mixed emotions of a Klopstock and a 
Gessner. She was his ‘seraphic beauty’ and ‘heavenly vision’ 
of Pietist convention, but no less his shepherdess, or his 
Platonic comrade of the mind, while he was yet aware of 
those attractions which caused him to exclaim in ’69: 

‘Reason ne’er jested from a lovelier mouth 
And Amor ne’er round comelier bosom played.’ 

Perhaps we might draw this period to its close by citing 
another verse which sums up their relationship in these two 
years : 

‘God and wisdom, virtue and Sophie 
Are with me now, what evil can befall?’ 

No sooner said than they became an omen. For evil did 
befall them in this very year. And this is how it happened. 


58 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Fate in the forms of Dr. Gutermann, who had already 
declared the affair to be ‘stuff and nonsense,’ and Wieland s 
mother, intervened once more. Some letters, too, went 
astray and made confusion worse confounded. Wieland, 
obviously ignorant of the causes for this breach as later 
letters show, next heard of Sophie’s marriage with Georg 
Michael Frank v. La Roche, Councillor to the Elector of 
Mainz, and steward of Count Stadion’s Swabian properties. 
We are in December of 1753. [The inscription on the 
silhouette has blundered here.] 

In one of Sophie’s tales the heroine, ‘conflict endured,’ after 
love and disappointment, finds spiritual peace. It would 
not be extravagant to deduce that in this, as in many other 
of her works, Sophie’s own experience had a part. In fact 
the striking similarity between the situation La Roche, 
Sophie, Wieland-Bianconi: Wolmar, Julie and the passionate 
St. Preux, may suggest at least one reason for the influence of 
Rousseau on Sophie — at least in this particular. Undoubtedly 
her union may be termed the ‘mariage de femme-soeur’ of 
her own Sophie T. with Lord Allen; hence perhaps the 
starting-point of her whole conception of love and marriage, 
and further one of possible explanations of what all con- 
demned— and rightly— as the brutal treatment of her own 
daughters. ‘Love is not necessary in marriage, but honesty, 
virtue, and a certain similar trend of character— friendship, 
in a word.’ How often is Rousseau’s sentiment echoed in 
Sophie’s writings, and how well it suits her case. 

Sophie fluttering for refuge to La Roche— his lord had 
christened him the rock of his future fortunes— might have 
alighted on less solid ground! Twelve years older than 
herself, a man of no mean standing, he impersonates the 
better type of courtier of his day. No dullard either, or his 
own and other versions lie. A letter from him to a friend 
concerning the matter of his title sketches him for us and 
‘his history to the present’ with charming humour. ‘A 
certain decorum’ due to his status without nobility, he explains, 


INTRODUCTION 


59 


requires him to possess a knighthood. Not that ‘he will 
serve his lordship any the less loyally should a steed, a sword, 
spurs and knightly headgear be refused him. . . . The 
equestrian (knight) shall not be arrogant, nor the pedestrian 
lowly.’ A bright letter this, full of Latin tags, in mingled 
French and German tongue, as behoved an eighteenth- 
century wit. Here stands Sophie’s life-companion, so 
popular with Sophie’s literary friends, with her own testimony 
in addition as the ‘best of fathers and of husbands.’ 

It is tempting to divide their career subsequently into 
multiples of nine — nine years’ apprenticeship in Mainz, 
nine years of quiet retreat in the ‘enchanted castle’ of 
Warthausen and in Bonigheim, culminating in nine full and 
busy years’ achievement in the lovely Rhineland valley of 
Ehrenbreitstein. This time of jubilation came to an abrupt 
conclusion, however, with the Councillor’s sudden fall from 
grace in 1780. Councillor after Stadion’s death to Clemens 
Wenceslas of Treves, whose rule of ‘benevolent inefficiency’ 
was conducted from his centre at Coblenz, La Roche, and a 
friend of his, found reward for services in precipitate dismissal. 
Intrigue and earlier disfavour d propos of a religious publica- 
tion, through which La Roche earned undesired notoriety, 
were the joint cause. But as Wieland strove to comfort, it is an 
ill wind, and so the couple returned to the well-earned quiet 
beneath the twin cathedral towers of Spires. The triple nine 
of Sophie’s life from now until her death in 1807 sees her as 
blithe as ever, and full of enterprise, despite the many trials 
she underwent in these last years. She certainly was successful 
in her attempt to ‘transform old age into an autumn evening,’ 
to rob senility of all its sting. In one passage of her English 
diary we find her prayer that she might retain her faculties 
till the last. And again elsewhere: ‘One’s beauty wanes, why 
sacrifice one’s charms as well, why become crabbed and 
chase all youth away?’ So at the end we find a Sophie 
reminiscent of the youthful ditty. 

Tischbein’s portrait of the family group in the Green 


6o 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Room at Ehrenbreitstein, dated 1777, is a happy study. 
From left to right we have Franz, the apple of his mother’s 
eye, and Carl, Fritz, with great charm, but too much 
‘addicted to the ballroom,’ then Sophie, Max, ‘the black- 
eyed sylph,’ her father’s favourite, next the Councillor, 
lastly, Sophie’s second daughter, Loulou. This gives the 
reader some idea how part of Sophie’s time was spent during 
the period previously reviewed. Such a brood demanded 
care and education, her husband a charm and savoir-faire 
amongst his circle. So her days were hardly idle — indeed 
from what we know we can see her following the advice 
she gave to Lina in her educational letters: ‘You are ready 
dressed at 7 a.m. and go to bed at 10. Just think, my dear, 
what can be fitted in in 15 hours systematically arranged.’ 
A trifle pedantic no doubt, but so was Sophie— and needed 
to be if she was to complete her programme. She did not 
grumble though, in fact, she owns ‘lovelier days I never 
spent than in Warthausen.’ The ‘parquet of petty courts’ 
appealed to her; here with the count, his discourse and his 
library, a little music in the evening, and Wieland as 
occasional guest or eager correspondent, she found life 
blissful. No wonder that with her daughters’ departure for 
boarding-school, her eldest son at Erfurt under Wieland’s 
tutorship. Count Stadion’s death and the family’s removal 
to another of his seats, she missed the former life and felt a 
gap. And so it happened that her first work was conceived. 
Her old predilection for writing returned to save her now — 
notice here Wieland’s earlier references to her ‘fable,’ 
verses, then later her Silesian Anecdote and his criticism 
of her German style— and so having lost her real daughters 
she decided to educate a ‘paper maiden.’ This effigy, called 
Miss Sophie Sternheim, rapidly came to life. She had 
intended the novel for private consumption only, but 
Wieland, unbeknown to her, published under his own name 
in 1770. The work called forth some little adverse criticism, 
partly personal spite against the supposed author, whose 


INTRODUCTION 


6i 


popularity did not go unchallenged by his contemporaries, 
and partly justifiable; but on the whole opinion was 
unanimous. ‘Oh verily great soul! Men must surely blush 
and tremble in your presence’ one fantast later eulogised. 
And though we rather smile at such applause, yet we must 
admit that Sophie, the first woman to write a novel in 
Germany, was likewise the first to introduce the psychological 
element, and so prepared the way for Werther. Not that this 
element was of her invention — the History of Miss Sophie 
Sternheim savours of Pamela’s trials, while the Seymours 
and the Derbys claim blood relationship with Grandison, 
Lovelace and their tribe. Nevertheless, the feat remains — 
and with it Sophie fulfilled the dream of both her early 
lovers: her fame outdid the ‘Chatelets, Bassis, Gottscheds,’ 
and the dwelling at Ehrenbreitstein, which saw the famous 
‘Congress of Sentimentalists’ in 1772, became the place of 
call for all great travellers up and down the Rhine. 

We have now reached the apex of our heroine’s career. 
The adventures of her Sternheim sapped the best of her 
creative power. Rosalie, some half a dozen other novels, a 
volume of short stories are a sterile repetition of this one 
idea with a strong admixture of Rousseau. But we should 
not sit too heavily in judgment, for her works are linked 
inevitably with her life, and the expression of a leisured 
penmanship bears no comparison with the grind of a hack. 
A contemporary writes that Sophie bore the blow in 1781 
with ‘real courage,’ in fact we know she settled happily at 
Spires, but at the same time, from now until her death, 
references to circumstances creep into the correspondence 
which never occurred before. In that very year Zimmermann, 
surgeon to the house of Hanover, tries to gain protection for 
her from Catherine the Great. ‘It would be worthy in so 
renowned a woman to protect and avenge another of equal 
fame,’ he writes, while Wieland asks for her contributions to 
his journal Mercury as paying better than her publisher 
would do. She herself expressed the hope that Pomona would 


62 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

enable her to leave some savings for her younger sons.^ So a 
pile of educational and other tracts accumulated, lacking in 
all spontaneity and every tenet of artistic form: Pomona, 
to the daughters of Germany, her letters to Lina and to 
Caroline, her moral tales and such wordy, pointless novels as 
Liehehutten. On the other hand, the least little breath of 
inspiration is discernible; she enjoyed her travels and the 
autobiographical sketches. Silhouettes of Hours Departed, for 
example, deals partly with her stay, after thirty years’ long 
separation, with Wieland and his family. Here tea-parties 
at the castle, lunch with Goethe, the company of the flower of 
Germany to greet her, such pleasures charmed the narrative 
and inspired her pen. Her travel diaries likewise have their 
moments, as a future chapter will reveal— though these too 
served a double purpose. Taken all in all, however, after 
the initial work, with its hesitant claim to immortality, 
Sophie won men’s hearts for what she was rather than what 
she wrote. And though we feel the atmosphere she breathed 
after her marriage was in some ways retrogressive to her 
development, that had she been allowed a continuity she 
might have gone much further, keeping abreast of her 
generation; yet such surmise is fruitless and has no real 
foundation. The facts remain unaltered— Sophie, like a tree 
stunted in its prime, grew no taller. Richardson, Pietist 
sentimentalism, a nature adoration instilled by early influence 
and later fed by Rousseau, the new feminism of her early days 
remained her friends for life. The outriders of young German 
Storm and Stress she neither liked nor understood— the 
magnitude of the Revolution in France escaped her vision; 
she only deplored the slaughter in the light of her upbringing 
at petty courts. All her sympathies lay with that ‘army of 
locusts,’ the French emigrants on the Rhine— further she had 
no views. 

In summing up, however, we must not forget the fascina- 
tion she inspired in many— the homage paid by Goethe, 
Wieland, Schliiter, Lenz and countless other personalities of 


INTRODUCTION 


63 

her time— nor the positive influence of her exhortations on 
home and family life in Germany. Such a woman, though 
lacking the greatness of a master-mind, even the penetrating 
intellect of some smaller than herself, must have possessed 
a striking personality. Goethe proclaimed her the most 
wonderful of women, elegant in her bearing, with the 
dignity of the bourgeoise and the grace of the aristocrat and 
a most independent mind. Perhaps we can do no better than 
recall the lines: 

‘Our dirges, nay, nor all thy Wieland’s singing 
Will call thee back to us, thus comfort bringing.’ 


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A TRAVELLER IN ENGLAND 


Aug. 29 

And now for Helvoetsluys, thence with all speed to England, 
as in any case all of us look more favourably towards Great 
Britain than to Holland. 


Aug. 30 

Having handed Mr. Wachter my letters to your father, we 
left at 2 o’clock yesterday, in a comfortable conveyance 
holding six, lovely, pleasant Rotterdam behind us; had to 
cross the Maas three times, for it winds about so much here, 
forming islands with its broad tributaries; these have remark- 
able names — one is called Portugal, another Calabria, the 
third Old Batavia. The boats were laden with coaches, 
carts and people hurrying to the kermis. 

On these islands the soil is well nigh too fat. Grass, wheat, 
oats and flax abound in luxuriant beauty: all the trees are large 
and perfect. But around each acre of land a ditch is dug as 
in the marshlands near Hamburg, and the paths on these 
islands all run between canals, by which fine peasant farms 
are laid out, but all signs of estates and villas have dis- 
appeared. Finally one comes to a high dyke, planted with 
several rows of ash trees, very pleasant indeed and leading to 
our last crossing. 

To our right, looking through the trees, we espied great 
ships speeding in full sail towards Rotterdam, and in the 
end we were obliged to wait till five of them had passed, 
for their course just barred the way for us; but the pleasure of 
watching these grand, graceful machines of man’s invention, 
fruit of his courage and his industry, was sufficient reward 
for this delay. All the sails were taut and full of wind, driven 
so hard that they seemed almost to be flying past us. And 
indeed the dyke-reeves told us that we could not cross to 
E 65 


66 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

England by this wind. — Night soon closed in, however, so 
that from the fort of Helvoetsluys nothing but the bridge was 
visible; but at the gate we found an honest, friendly officer 
from Wertheim, near Frankfurt, who was glad to do us, his 
compatriots, a service, and gave us a common German too, 
for guide: without him we should certainly have been 
overturned more than once in the marshy egress cut across 
by dykes; for from the bridge of this fortification, between the 
walls and outworks, it is a long way to the outskirts alongside 
the harbour to Mistress Norman’s, an English hostess, to 
whom the proverb ‘that the fag-end is always far worse 
than the cloth itself’ applies admirably: for neither English 
nor Dutch cleanliness is evident in this establishment. This 
struck us particularly, as we were already used to Holland, 
and looked forward favourably to England. 

As we did not arrive till 10, we were only too glad to 
make straight for our rooms and our beds, where we lay 
down to rest after an evening meal; certain of a sufficient 
acquaintance with the place, as we shall be obliged to put 
up for a few days, and want to pass the time by practising 
the English tongue. 


Aug. 31 

There are now twenty-two of us, all sighing for a favourable 
wind; Wesley, the leader of the Methodists, who at the 
age of 81 travelled with two assistants to America to 
visit his congregation, and toured all the churches of the 
sects in Holland on his return. A venerable old man, and 
very understanding, who speaks well of everything and at 
the immense age of 83 enjoys complete good health. His 
disciples, charming young men of twenty or thereabouts, 
do not talk at all and mostly remain in his room with him. — 
An English captain, Webb, with his wife and sister-in-law. 
Miss Lake, and a cousin, have returned from a tour through 
France, Flanders and Spa— an American captain who served 
under General Green— an Englishman from the Falkland 


DIARY 


67 

Isles — Mr. du Moulin from The Hague, with his charming 
daughter— a French language master from Geneva — another 
fmglishman who has been in Patagonia, and a wealthy 
young Suffolk farmer who travelled to Rotterdam to see the 
kermis. After the dinner-bell had sounded we assembled, 
and the Methodists straightway gave us a proof of their 
stern practices; for when we had taken our places Wesley 
began to pray. The good language-master was holding a 
discussion by the window, and was not at once aware of the 
prayers, when suddenly Wesley reproached him in the most 
violent manner, accusing him of lack of piety and righteous- 
ness. The poor man was very embarrassed; and old Wesley 
found it difficult to resume his sermonising, as the rest of us 
said we should be glad of a meal. 

The Methodists, as perhaps my daughters do not realise, 
were thus named by some bright Oxford undergraduates 
while Wesley and Whitefield were living there, and true to 
their disposition were already strict observers of the Uni- 
versity rules. Having terminated their theological studies, 
they left to preach their own doctrines, partly in England 
and then around America; repudiated all books but the 
Bible, from which they drew the first text they stumbled on, 
or else stuck a needle in for the purpose, and used this for 
their sermon in meeting-house, market-place or highway. 
Their principles are ( i ) literal obedience to Biblical precepts, 
(2) downright denunciation of their people’s faults to their 
faces (3) never to wear diamonds, gold, silver, or silk (4) 
never to misconstrue or break a contract in their dealings. 
They have many followers, most of whom practise an 
exaggerated piety. All the English hold Wesley and his 
disciples in high esteem; and he told me ‘he reckoned his 
congregation at more than 70,000 souls.’ 

Our lunch consisted of soup, some good-sized fish, large 
English roasts, vegetables boiled in salt water with melted 
butter; pastries, fruit, and a large and excellent cheese, 
served in a beautifully carved mahogany cart, and rolled 


68 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

on four brass castors from one guest to another. But after 
a while the waiter drew our attention to some cannon shots, 
saying: that means the frigate Jason has arnved from the 
Mediterranean where she has been cruising since May. We 
turned to look at the sails all unfurled, which we could see 
some distance away, but they were approaching rapidly, 
and all at once we perceived a number of sailors on the 
rope-ladders and yards of the ship and great excitement in 

the port. 

‘The frigate has capsized!’ the cry rang out, and all our 
fellow-boarders ran to look. When the worst of the crowd 
was scattered somewhat, we women joined too, saw the 
sailors at work, boats hurrying to the scene to unload things 
from the ship, in order to lighten it. The 350 privates and 
the 36 guns were already rescued. Many workmen from off 
the quay at Helvoetsluys were loitering around the sides of 
the disabled vessel to see the damage, which was rated at 
10,000 guilders; but since no one had been injured we felt 
no sympathy with the wealthy Dutch republic, on the con- 
trary, I confess for my part and most other foreigners— we 
were ’quite pleased about the accident, as it gave us a very 
clear idea of what a shipwreck looked like. This is how 
it happened: the helmsman had missed the turning at the 
entrance to the harbour, and misjudged the strength of the 
wind; but on discovering this and trying to mend matters, 
the high sea and a gust of wind drove the frigate with such 
force against the corner of an outwork of the fortress that 
the whole bowsprit was destroyed taking a part of the large 
gilt Jason with it. A calm but profound disgust lay on the 
faces of all concerned; but no curses or noise were to be heard. 
The ship was towed into the harbour with all the care 
demanded by an invalid, and Jason’s broken leg handled as 
lovingly as though it were sensitive to feeling; all the 
necessaries for bandaging and repairs were immediately 
fetched, however, showing that both large and small marine- 
stores are equipped for any emergency. 


DIARY 


69 

This matter of the frigate led us foreigners into general 
conversation and somewhat closer contact, so that we spent 
the remainder of the evening together; we teased Miss du 
Moulin a little because she had been given a bedroom behind 
strict Mr. Wesley’s apartment, and told her she ought to 
be thankful too, for some other foreigners, a lady accom- 
panied by a Moorish woman in particular, were obliged to 
sleep the night in the public sitting-room. — We attended the 
short sermon and chanting of the psalms which Wesley and 
his disciples had arranged in his apartment, and promised 
to breakfast together. — Charming du Moulin had to turn 
in early so that Wesley could shut his door. — Mrs. Webb 
and my friend sought repose because of their delicate health, 
and I since we had to rise betimes. 


Sept. I 

We enjoyed our breakfast. All were assembled; Miss Lake 
made tea, while my Carl and the young Englishman, 
Sparling, prepared the bread and butter. We discussed 
English artists and scholars; also chemists, and wondered 
whether this science had for so long now been regarded with 
a kind of contempt, as many used it only for money-making 
purposes and yet became paupers and frauds. Then we 
turned to porcelain, especially noting the firing resistance of 
the Berlin ware, in which Chinese and Dresden porcelain 
can be baked. Captain Webb told us of a London chemist 
who exhibited phosphorus in oyster shells or other objects.— 
Chemical colours and new inventions were also mentioned. 

On this occasion my Carl modestly and competently 
expressed what slight knowledge he had acquired in the 
subject, much to his credit. The approval and attention of 
the men gathered round him gave me tremendous pleasure. 

Our young Englishman seems to be enchanted by charming 
du Moulin. I only wish he would behave like wealthy 
Mr. Beth and share his fortune with the dear child, for she is 
so fond of England, having been educated in a boarding- 


70 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

school there, and knows all the customs and conventions; 
besides which her excellent treatment of her father and her 
conversational powers show an unusual clarity of intellect 
and a very noble, sensitive nature. — She is looking forward 
to seeing Colchester again, where she was at boarding-school, 
and tried to persuade us to visit some gardens with her not 
far from Harwich, where the boarders spent their recreation 
periods, so we might see something of national education 
and character. I should much like to, but . . . 

I also managed to make a copy of a library catalogue, 
which an Englishman is taking along with him to the East 
Indies, for I am acquainted with so many book collections 
for all classes and countries that I did not want to miss this 
one. 

(1) A Persian, Arabian and English dictionary. 

(2) Dissertation on the languages, customs and character 
of Oriental nations. 

{3) Excerpts from Persian poems, or the odes of Hasan. 

(4) An Arabic-English. 

(5) A Persian-English grammar. 

(6) Excerpts from Asiatic poems. 

(7) Law-book of the Gentoos. 

(8) Collection of Persian decrees, a translation from the 
Persian original. 

(9) Institutes^ by Timur, translated from the Persian by 
Messrs. Davis & White, with notes. 

( I o) Persian and English description of East Indian diseases. 

(11) Reflections on sea-sickness. 

(12) The lives of British Admirals. 

(13) A History of the Mahrattas. 

A man possessing books like these and at the same time well 
informed in European literature commands respect. 

We went through some cupboards in my room; and as we 
only found all kinds of broken porcelain, torn maps, old 
Augsburg engravings of the seasons fallen out of their frames. 


DIARY 


71 


published by Engelbrcclit, wc kept to a bundle of Ipswich 
newspapers, which we picked out of the bottom and read 
from sheer boredom; in one of the papers I found two short 
articles about home-life, the first of which should render 
good serviee in any territory, though I hope the second is 
not serious. 


Domestic Economy (the first) 

‘This is not one of the shining attributes, though one of 
the most fundamental and useful, since the general and 
domestic welfare of family life depend on it: it may compare 
with the hidden roots nourishing the fine foliage of trees 
whieh thrust their branches cloudwards. Want is the source 
of carking cares, troubled minds and sleepless nights, often 
ineiting besides to wicked and unjust actions. Thrift sets us 
free from all these worries, supports our lives and is the 
guardian of our virtue; it prepares a soft pillow for us, where 
we can rest peacefully and fearlessly in the face of a dark 
future. Its uses are not only limited to the present generation, 
but ensure for its successors an independence, which only 
they are able to maintain.’ 

Satire follows on this good counsel: 

‘When a man and woman are observed in company 
bickering together without cause— 

‘Or two others look out, one on this and one on that side 
a coach — 

‘When a woman lets something fall, and the man nearest 
her tells her she has dropped something but does not pick it 
up- 

‘When the male party keeps twenty paees ahead of the 
female on a walk, and climbs the stile without looking back— 

‘When you see a man accosting a nice, attractive woman 
roughly and disagreeably, then you must know: they are 
man and wife! 

‘If they always call each other by endearing names: My 


72 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

treasure, my love — then again, ’tis man and wife. In this 


way the following calculations recently accrued: 

Wives left their husbands . . . . • 

Husbands left their wives ..... 2,348 

Couples demanding separation . . . . 4)^75 

Couples living in open conflict .... i 7 j 445 

Couples more tender, hatred partially concealed . 13,279 

Couples utterly indifferent .... 32,246 

Couples apparently happy . . . . 3 ? ^75 

Couples comparatively happy . . . . 127 

Couples utterly and completely happy . . 13 


Total . . 73 , 94 Q 

Ipswich is the capital of the county of Suffolk; so I asked 
Mrs. Webb whether this account was taken from that part, 
and told her that I was puzzled by this sarcasm, as so many 
love-marriages were made in England, but she referred me 
to the following prescriptions standing at the end of the 
calculation and applicable all over the world: ‘All married 
people should be pleasant and try to please; give and take — 
in this way all marriages would contain a foundation of 
happiness, and complete harmony would reign.’ 

After this I came to table and took my place near Mrs. 
Webb, the gentle, common-sensed woman, who without a 
trace of beauty manages to be extremely charming; she 
speaks French quite well and proves thus, as do her husband 
and sister, that the English have put off some of their pride 
and their prejudices, for at one time, with all their knowledge 
of foreign tongues, they would speak to no one who did not 
know some English or was not an Englishman. — The captain, 
his wife and Miss Lake all chatted pleasantly to us, and really 
enhanced our stay in Helvoetsluys by their delightful wit 
and pleasing manner. 

Two little scenes took place at table which were quite new 
to us. Firstly, the waiter entered bringing the gentlemen 


DIARY 


73 

their nightcaps and hats to wear until their wigs were 
dressed; secondly, they put on their slippers while their 
boots and shoes were being cleaned so as to be presentable 
outdoors after lunch. It struck us Rhenish women as strange 
to see the men shifting their chairs from side to side so that 
their feet might be attended to. The donning of hats and 
caps wrought such an amusing change in some faces that 
the scene was quite a merry one. Soon after, however, 
murmurings arose about the food, which was not well 
prepared, nor was there sufficient to satisfy our appetites. 
We women wanted to do without meat so that the men 
should have enough, but they would not hear of it, and 
Mistress Norman, who came up to us quite anxiously when 
some of the men left to eat elsewhere, had many complaints 
forced upon her ears — and in the hurry could only prepare 
some boiled fish and potatoes in butter sauce. It was a long 
time before order was restored, and our only consolation was 
that we had heard a veritable English squabble. Wesley 
and his disciples did not take part, as they appeared to have 
no truck with the needs of the vile body. At last the potatoes 
introduced a different mood and entertainment. The North 
American captain praised the flavour of potatoes in his and 
their native land; we reckoned up how long they had been 
known in Europe, and decided that it was 222 years since the 
first ones were brought from St. Fe, the Spanish colony in 
America, into Ireland. Further reference was made to Sir 
Raleigh’s little experience, that knight so famous for his 
service, enterprise and misfortunes under Queen Elizabeth. 
He had an estate in Ireland, and wanted to rear potatoes 
there right away; so he planted them, but did not know how 
they grew, and mistook the tiny seed-boxes at the top for the 
roots; had them cooked and naturally found them unpleasant, 
wanted to let them be and see if they would improve. After 
some time he impatiently ordered the field to be ploughed 
up. This was done, and now the potatoes appeared in heaps 
at the roots of this splendid plant, to the great joy of Sir 


74 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Raleigh. Our friend the American also praised the many 
services rendered by this simple victual during the war. 

The word ‘war’ led to many questions concerning 
auxiliaries attached to the French and German troops j and 
I was glad to hear Herr Brahm of Coblenz, Major to the 
Engineering Corps there, referred to with so much praise. 
I added that I had seen the young fellow before he left for 
America, and that his family, which I very much respected, 
had shown me letters in which Herr Brahm spoke very highly 
of the West Indies and its inhabitants. 

After lunch we took a stroll with the English ladies. We 
were shown the house in which the late King of England, 
George ii, lived when he visited his Hanoverian dairy, as the 
Britons termed it. The question arose as to whether this was 
the inn which had so much angered George i. As he had put 
up there twice and been charged so outrageously each time, 
he would not go in on the next occasion, but sat on the 
pavement until the coaches were unloaded and re-harnessed, 
and demanded three new-laid eggs, for which he was asked 
200 guilders. ‘Are eggs so scarce here, then?’ he queried. 
‘No, but kings are!’ the cunning host retorted, and received 
his pay. We thought it quite in order that the king’s conceit 
should have to pay for the landlord’s avarice. It struck me 
that had the name of Orange been less hateful to the Dutch, 
they should have told the English that here, a hundred years 
ago, William of Orange went on board when he was 
summoned by the English Protestants to help against James ii 
and elected king. 

Then we discussed the difference between the individuals 
and races sitting at our table; and seeing one of them at a 
coffee-house with quite a different expression from that which 
he wore in our presence, it was remarked what different faces 
people could put on, upon which topic clever Miss — was 
most intent. It is not my wish to repeat it, but she maintained 
that they had long admired all the excellent qualities of a 
man they knew at home, till in the end they discovered that. 


DIARY 


75 

like this stranger, he was capable of any kind of low-down 
trick in other people’s company, scoffed at love and devotion, 
which he had asked and received from them, and hurt them 
by his callousness and lies. My heart bled for good Miss — . 

We went to Mrs. Webb’s for tea, and she seemed immensely 
gratified that I should think so highly of her sister. The 
captain left us, according to English custom, but took leave 
of his wife very fondly. 

The good woman watched his departure gratefully and 
with sparkling eyes, and seemed to have read my thoughts 
aright, which were, ‘You arc a good, happy wife,’ for she 
took my hand, and, her head slightly inclined to one side, 
she looked at me and said kindly, ‘Is it not strange. Madam, 
that such a fine man took a wife with so few outward 
attractions? But Webb saw into my heart and loved it for 
some years very faithfully. Though I too have suffered much 
through him, and almost died when I thought I had lost 
him.’ I asked her to tell me about this while her sister and 
Miss du Moulin prepared tea.^ .... 

Her little family anecdote afforded me much pleasure, and 
the good woman related it so simply and honestly that she 
rose doubly in my esteem. Her husband returned for tea, and 
both invited us to spend a few days on their estate in Suffolk 
at the seaside. Mile, du Moulin and her father are going to 
stay in England during the unrest in Holland. The man has 
sustained great losses owing to the absence of the court from 
The Hague, as he owns a number of houses there, all empty at 
the present time. We then went to the packet-boat to reserve 
our berths, and I was pleased to be able to look over the ship 
before it rocked to the motion of the sea, for I very much 
fancy it will make me feel very giddy. 

Two rooms and two cabins hold twenty-six berths for 
passengers; it is all very attractive. The outer room is 
panelled with mahogany, and has a fine mirror and lamp 

1 Mrs. Webb’s private history— her virtuous, sensible education, the vicissi- 
tudes of her affections — are omitted as irrelevant. 


76 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

brackets fastened to the wall. The berths are ranged along 
the side walls in two rows like theatre-boxes, one above the 
other; they have thoroughly good mattresses, white-quilted 
covers, neat curtains, and on a ledge in a corner is the 
chamber made of English china, used in case of sickness. In 
order to lie down, the outer board of these boxes is removed 
and then fitted in again by the sailors to prevent people from 
tumbling out. It holds one person quite comfortably, and 
the whole looks very neat. — I shall be lodged right next door 
to Mr. Wesley. 


Sept. 2 

At last we are leaving, having taken recourse to dancing 
yesterday from sheer tedium and vexation at the dreadful 
weather — a turn of events I hardly anticipated. But Captain 
Webb was jolly, and they were so glad to possess an extra 
dancer in me that it would have been unfriendly to refuse. 
Miss Lake danced lightly as a bird — the captain and our B. 
were exeellent dancers — Miss du Moulin and my Carl were 
also quite good. Having performed some English folk-dances. 
Miss Lake and the captain danced a curious mixture of 
burlesque called Fricassee. Had anyone told me that English 
people amongst themselves enjoyed these comic cuts and 
capers, or that serious dignity and reserve could be immersed 
in the droll, I should never have believed it. But my friend 
B. was right when she told me: ‘Dearest, should you ever 
come across a mortal attaining to the extreme limits of 
perfection by his noble acts, then diminish your admiration 
by thinking of the relapse which this noble being may 
encounter— especially if he be vexed by trifles, for in that 
case some paltry matter is sure to drive him to the extremity 
of imperfection’— and thus it is with nations. 

Adieu, then, terra-firma, and all loved ones whom I leave 
behind! May the heavens keep you and my spiritual tenets 
unchanged ! Yesterday I stood at the end of the pier watching 
the surface of the sea which we are about to cross. The 


DIARY 


77 

waters are dull, not as beautiful as they were in Havre de 
Grace, where the waves looked like silver nosegays upon the 
sea-green sward, many fathoms long, in liollow rolls. They 
beat thunderously upon the shore, and I shuddered a little 
as I saw them toss the ships and craft now high, now low. 
If only I can hold out on deck with Miss Lake, so as to see 
the work going on on board. 


HARWICH, Sept 4, 

1 1 a.m. 

God be praised! We have arrived safely after dancing 
around forty-eight hours on the water. Everyone was sea- 
sick, and I first to start and last to finish. 

We all went on board, arranged our things, and went on 
deck, from where we watched the four other packet-boats 
being boarded and putting out to sea; like ours, they were 
obliged to await a more favourable wind, and were crammed 
with people. In the nearest adjoining ship was an English 
family returning from Spa, with two of the finest creatures 
of my sex growing up in its midst— girls aged thirteen and 
fourteen, whom we should have liked to have along with 
us, and as they sailed past we wished them good luck. 

As long as we sailed through the harbour and kept close 
to the Dutch coast, all went well ; for I chatted with the ship’s 
captain, a well-mannered, sensible man of good stature, whose 
sixteen-year-old son astonished us, nor is a finer or more 
handsome youth anywhere to be found. We told his father 
this. He was much pleased, and replied: Tf you care to 
visit me in Harwich you will see eight such children and their 
mother too, who is lovelier than all her children put together.’ 

This man and the sailors all paid Wesley and his disciples 
great respect. Everything on board was very clean and tidy, 
and nobody was heard talking except the captain. Wesley 
sat and read Virgil, with spectacles, in an Elzevir edition. 
Heavens! I thought, if the Methodists’ principles keep the 
sight as clear as that to the age of 83, then I wish I had 


78 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

been educated in their sect, for since their chief reads Virgil 
on the high seas, I too might have read my favourite works 
without damnation. 

Shortly after this idea I threw a last glance at the land, now 
rapidly receding from us, then let myself be led downstairs 
by a sailor and lay down in my little nest, already feeling 
sick and unsteady, drew the curtains, and resigned myself 
to the Power that rocked us in the waves of the ocean as in 
its arms. During these forty-eight hours I could neither 
stand upright nor take pleasure in anything. So I lay quietly 
in my nice little bunk, except that from time to time my feet 
jostled the head of honest Wesley’s resting-place; yesterday he 
preached a very fine sermon about the need for death and the 
danger of life, which was very well chosen and adapted to 
the storm. The sailors too showed a really appreciative 
interest. 

The good man then spoke to one of my fellow-travellers 
about his stay in Germany, especially Halle, where he had 
visited our famous Francke, to whom he referred with great 
respect. He also knew Young, author of Might Thoughts, and 
praised him. But he cannot bear Sterne, because he deems it 
unworthy in a preacher to present a buffoon, and he hopes 
never to have a Sterne amongst the seven hundred clerics of 
his community. 

My Carl was very ill too, and good Captain Webb could 
not hold out for a quarter of an hour, despite the big sea 
voyages he has twice made. Miss du Moulin was likewise ill, 
and Mrs. Webb and her sister were not able to partake much 
of the meals which the American had his servant prepare, 
now bringing a ragout, now a roast, or some very good wine 
to our bedsides. I was far more pleased to see the sailor 
waiting on us, whose gentleness, sympathy, and short, sensible 
talk I admired immensely as he went from one to another, 
cheering, comforting, or asking whether they wanted 
anything. The young Suffolk farmer was, indeed, one of the 
brightest, and amused himself with his nut-crackers, which 


DIARY 


79 

were carved and painted like mannikins with large mouths, 
and which he had bought for his children as portraits of 
young Dutchmen at Rotterdam kermis; for his friends, 
however, he had brought a number of melons with him. 

The night was very stormy, and the ship swayed from side 
to side; waves breaking, ropes creaking, sails rustling, and 
water rushing, sailors running about with muffled cries, 
prevented sleep and made one anxious. But the English were 
the more overjoyed as they caught sight of the Essex coast lit 
up by the sun. Miss Lake, that estimable woman, wept for 
joy, and when I came on deck I was much revived by the 
fresh breeze off the land and the sight of the well-ordered and 
cultivated country-side. The mere thought, ‘this is England,’ 
made me leap for joy, and bless the hand of that noble 
friendship which had prepared such unspeakable pleasure 
for me: for I admit that books and travel have always been 
my only source of perfect happiness in life. Especially 
England, with whose history, writers and agriculture I had 
so long been familiar, and which I had so long cherished, the 
place for which my soul had always yearned; and this last 
half-hour on the sea I found of inestimable value. I beheld 
the full, lively motion of the water; saw, since we veered with 
the wind, the county of Suffolk long and near enough to 
contemplate its lovely hills sown with cornfields, copses and 
that grand English verdure, ancient castles and occasional 
farms. Good Mrs. Webb pointed out her country-house, 
situated between some fine shrubbery with a view of the sea; 
showed me the county of Essex, and how an arm of the sea 
inclined to the coast at the foot of great fertile hills towards 
the river Stour. This view and the good lady’s friendliness, 
besides the advantage of seeing an English country establish- 
ment so far from the capital, were a most alluring combina- 
tion. The management of the ship, sail and helm, the 
passing of other vessels to and fro, the gradual approach to 
port, where so many other ships of all different sizes lay at 
various distances away; even the landing of the customs 


8o 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

officers, grasping and suspicious, amused me, amongst whom 
some quite Hogarthian figures caught my eye, causing me to 
beg the shade of this artist for pardon for having so frequently 
been so angry and annoyed at the crude and ridiculous heads, 
figures, or apparel I had seen painted by his hand. In his 
day he obviously had all the originals before him. 

The expression of these people’s faces during the examina- 
tion is quite remarkable. When they first arrive on deck 
they try to inspire fear and reverence; then during the 
investigation of foreign trunks, packets and bags, a certain 
penetrating astuteness and a sensation of their own power, 
at once comic and obstinate, comes over them; which struck 
me as quite absurd, particularly in the case of a wig-box. 
A foreigner was carrying it in his hand quite openly, not even 
tied up, and wanted to join the rest of us in the boat which 
was meant to bring us right into Harwich, when he was held 
up by one of these Hogarthian eccentrics with the queer 
cast of countenance already referred to, and asked what the 
box contained: ‘Nothing, sir, but my periwig.’ ‘I must see 
it,’ came the domineering retort; ‘Open the box!’ Now it 
opened with difficulty, and the stranger declared once more 
that it contained nothing but his wig. The customs man 
raised his voice, flashed his eyes with greater fire, and insisted 
on opening the box; then, looking important meanwhile, 
lifted out the wig, lying there in blissful content, and dropped 
it again scornfully. The foreigner said, ‘It is only my wig after 
all, isn’t it?’ ‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘but a wig often covers a 
multitude of sins.’ 

And now I took a last look at the sea, Suffolk and the 
packet-boat, and stepped cautiously and fearfully down the 
small ladder into the open boat, which glides over the waves 
and conveys us to Harwich in less than a quarter of an hour, 
where we found the banks crowded with men, women and 
children, who watched us unload with curiosity. 

The first steps taken on firm land are like those of a 
drunkard, for one still feels very giddy. However, I picked up 


8i 


DIARY 

a tiny black mussel shell, which to me was of value for being 
on English soil, I was also grateful to good Mrs. Webb for 
having candidly admitted that Harwich was a poor place, 
otherwise I should have been disappointed at the very 
striking diflerence between this and Dutch towns. But the 
attractive inn made up for everything. 

We took tea with our charming travelling companions for 
the last time; Mrs. Webb gave me the note-book from her 
bag as a keepsake, and Miss Lake divided a jasmine flower 
with me which she had just received with Mr. Wesley’s 
blessing. My friend went to bed, our men to the customs to 
retrieve our trunks and portmanteaus and hire a coaeh to 
London, while the captain ordered a small boat to take him 
and his women, with the handsome pointer which had 
accompanied them the whole way through France to Spa, 
across the Stour to Suffolk, He was in a great hurry, as he 
had promised himself and his Diana, over their first piece 
of English bread and butter shared together at tea, that they 
should still go out hunting to-day. He assured me, for my 
part, of Diana’s lasting gratitude for my kindness to her at 
Helvoetsluys. 

I was truly sorry at parting with these good folk who had 
shown me so much real kindness and sympathy. 

Miss du Moulin accompanied her father to her friends, and 
I examined the houses in that quiet, yet wide and attractive 
street. The private houses only have two stories, and seem 
to belong to poor tenants. I was indeed astonished to find 
that the local lord mayor’s house, erected in 1 769, is built in 
completely Gothic style. The church which stands at the 
end of the street looks poor. Nor do I care for the English 
women here as yet; caps, hats, hair and clothes look as 
though an eternal wind-storm raged along this coast, 
allowing no single garment to remain in place. 

Meanwhile I considered how an active imagination in good 
people will exaggerate the fine, in bad people pick out the 
nasty points; and when perchance hazard brings truth in 


82 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

its train, then the former feel displeasure at seeing the lovely 
colours of their picture fade, while the latter are inwardly 
vexed at the conviction that those people whom they blamed 
are not so bad as they thought; and so a thing unweighed 
brings its owner sadness and his neighbour disgrace; and it 
is in any case nonsense to fancy Holland full of wealthy, 
England of fine, well-dressed, France of gay, smart people. 
I shall take note of the pranks played by the pictures of the 
imagination and register nothing but what I really see and 
hear. 

The transport arrangements for London are excellent. 
From the capital to Harwich is a distance of seventy-four 
English miles; these are divided into five stages: from here to 
Mistley, twelve miles; Colchester, ten miles; Witham, fourteen 
miles; Ingatestone, fourteen miles; Romford, twelve miles; 
London, twelve miles. The host of the ‘Three Bumpers, ’ our 
present abode, keeps horses, grooms and coaches, of which 
he has all kinds, letting them out for London, and he is 
connected with landlords at the above-mentioned localities 
who, if one arrives with his coach, immediately harness the 
best horses and put one en route again fast as lightning, 
accompanied by very well-dressed attendants. Our coach 
held five comfortably, was lined with fine cloth, and so well 
built and lacquered as befitted a state-coach. Four horses 
and two postillions brought us early into Ingatestone along 

Sept. 5 

the best of roads and through the finest of landscapes. First 
a long climb up the gentle slope with a view across the calm 
sea’s surface, where one thousand years ago the English 
gained their decisive victory over the Danes; then we took 
leave of the Suffolk hills, which can be seen from across the 
Stour, and the small cove by the sea; and, wishing the Webbs 
and Lake family good luck, amused ourselves by watching 
hill, wood and meadow-land, which we had missed so 
amongst Holland’s flats. The straight lines and meticulous 


DIARY 


83 

order of the Dutch have remained behind on the continent; 
there is no artificiality here; nature and man both equally 
enjoy noble freedom; the landscape, over which hundreds 
and hundreds of fertile hills extend, is set with the splendid 
country-houses of the great, and charming well-built farms. 
Fields and meadows bordered by quick-set hedges where 
horses, sheep and cows graze, add life to the whole scene as 
in no other land. Everything is simple and straightforward in 
taste and character like the nature here. I particularly 
admired the great caution with which ditches and pools were 
fenced around so that beast and man shall come to no harm. 

We traversed this part of what was the East Saxon king- 
dom, when Britain was divided amongst seven lords, much 
too fast for my liking, and arrived in Colchester, capital of 
Essex; large, old and beautiful, proudly rising above Anglo- 
Saxon times, telling how it was built by Coil, father of the 
Empress Helen, mother of Constantine the Great, king of 
this part of Britain in the year 1 24. The fortress and walls 
with their many watch-towers show how firmly they once 
stood. Now it is famed for the best silk manufacture and the 
best oysters. We saw nothing of the former and tasted none 
of the latter; but as we drove past, enjoyed the fine shops, 
which jut out at both sides of the front doors like big, broad 
oriels, having fine large window-panes, behind which wares 
are displayed, so that these shops look far more elegant than 
those in Paris. 

Soon after Colchester we passed through a village with a 
new church, charmingly built, though extremely simple, and 
a fine walk laid out on the large square in front. The local 
fountain has the rustic, but excellent, idea of obtaining its 
water from a swan swimming in it. 

Were human happiness not conditioned like our virtues, 
by imperfections and incompleteness, I would have had the 
pleasure of stopping here and there and inquiring about this 
or that peculiarity. I should have loved to travel by cheap 
stage-coach like a common woman, and with some wise 


84 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

friend by my side, to get to know everybody and gain some 
knowledge of popular character, habits and speech, and thus 
I should have returned with a far richer harvest. Yet we 
must be grateful to fate for the single ears. For I am surely 
far luckier than many others in fulfilling this, my one great 
desire. Though I should have liked to pass one of the big 
saffron fields, which, after three years’ yield of saffron 
without manure, provides abundance of the best barley for 
another eighteen. I did not mind so much about missing 
this county’s powder-mills as its great hop gardens. 

We encountered a number of coaches and vehicles, 
especially goods-vans, whose wheels, by Act of Parliament, 
are over a hand’s breadth; and so, constantly on the look-out 
for new and pleasant objects, we arrived in the lovely village 
of Ingatestone, were at once given the choice of a number of 
well-papered rooms fitted with every possible comfort, and 
carpeted, as were stairs and corridors, by which means even 
with the house full of guests there is a kind of hushed effect, 
which is just as pleasant in its way as the cleanliness of every- 
thing one sees and wants. I have not better bed or table- 
linen than was provided here. All the bed-covers are of a 
white cotton material with fringe decorations woven in. 
Everything we had was spotlessly white, and until our meal 
was ready we had the fun of watching the Colchester mail- 
coach arrive. Its name is quite rightly the Colchester 
Machine— seating six people inside, in front outside behind 
the coachman four more, and at the back, where the trunks 
usually go, as many again within a neat enclosure with 
benches, while eight people were sitting above on deck, their 
feet dangling overboard, holding fast with their hands to 
screwed-in brass rings. This was a new experience for us; we 
called to each other to come, and my Carl investigated the 
structure of the machine as soon as it was empty; this took 
place with all possible convenience to the passengers, as not 
only those occupying the scats of honour inside were able to 
descend as in eveiy other good coach, but the rest could climb 


DIARY 


85 

down too with the aid of small, prettily worked and painted 
ladders placed immediately alongside, like those found at 
home in well-appointed libraries. Travellers cannot take 
many or large parcels with them, though they can quite well 
manage for themselves alone, as such good roads should not 
jolt them much. Half an hour after we saw them all re-enter, 
supplied with horses just as good and swift as those on our 
coach. 

We enjoyed the first English supper immensely. We were 
given slices of beef and veal, cut very thin and beaten tender, 
about the size of a hand, sprinkled with bread crumbs and 
grilled, and nicely served on a silver dish; fine big potatoes 
with salt butter to follow; delicious beer and a good Bordeaux 
wine. 

Here, where the soil is excellent, an acre costs twenty-five 
guineas, a pound of beef eightpence, likewise a pound of 
butter, twenty-four eggs a shilling, or thirty kreuzers, a capon 
three shillings, and a cow seven guineas. 


LONDON, SUFFOLK STREET GERMAN HOTEL, 

I p.m. 

And now not only am I in the land, but in the city I have 
wanted to see for so long; which have meant more to me than 
Paris and France, though not so much as Italy: for the 
history of mankind, of the arts and sciences from three- 
quarters of the globe prove that Italy will always hold first 
place. Yet London is the centre of a nation prominent 
throughout so many centuries, the theatre of such great 
debuts as have inspired the human heart and mind both with 
glory and repulsion. This was the home of Newton and of 
Addison. 

Coming from Suffolk we were obliged to cross almost half 
London; and this alone would have made the journey worth 
while, for ancient and modern buildings and shops displayed 
so much good taste and excellence both in human industry 


86 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and art. In many ways London stands for far, far more than 
Paris, especially in the near-lying districts and its ordinary 
city architecture, where so much general prosperity is 
evident, far more pleasing to a philanthropist’s heart than is 
the sight of a hundred palaces, the property of might and 
wealth, jammed up against thousands of miserable hovels. 
Should not this more equal distribution of the good things 
of life in England and comparative lack of class distinction 
amongst London’s inhabitants be ascribed to a republican 
spirit welded with a monarchy? 

How refreshing the country was from Ingatestone here! 
Everything cultivated; trees and meadows everywhere most 
gloriously green; and Romford, oh how sweet! Wide streets 
with a little garden ten paces long in front of each house 
on the street side; not childishly laid out with cockles and 
mussels or trimmed box— oh no! — but planted with tasteful 
economy, on the fine lawn a large bush of flowers or else 
shrubbery ; in one part stands a basket of flowers with paths 
running beside it, in another a vase is placed on a hillock 
covered with flowers, or a group of two boys playing amidst 
the wonderful verdure; the path leading to the steps neatly 
inlaid with marble tiles or Portland stone, the whole 
surrounded by light, well-wrought trellis-work. 

As in London the houses are mostly of brick. What 
numbers of people, too! How happy the pedestrian on these 
roads, which alongside the houses are paved with large, 
clean paving-stones some feet wide, where many thousands of 
neatly clad people, eminent men, dressy women, pursue their 
way safe from the carriages, horses and dirt. In town and 
country buildings possess their own peculiar character, 
simple but lofty, always sensible. Humble dwellings and 
paupers’ cots are also to be found in the country, but well-to- 
do houses prevail. Their agricultural implements, carts and 
carriages are excellently contrived, the latter all painted in 
oil, bearing the owner’s name and address back and front, 
just as each stage-coach states its starting-place and destina- 


DIARY 


87 

tion on both doors. The country people do not look so 
haggard, pale and delicate as in many provinces of that fine 
country I visited last year, while they dress themselves and 
exhibit their work or commodities quite differently. 

It is almost impossible to express how well everything is 
organised in London. Every article is made more attractive 
to the eye than in Paris or in any other town. What I already 
mentioned about Colchester is all the more perfect here. We 
especially noticed a cunning device for showing women’s 
materials. Whether they are silks, chintzes or muslins, they 
hang down in folds behind the fine high windows so that the 
effect of this or that material, as it would be in the ordinary 
folds of a woman’s dress, can be studied. Amongst the muslins 
all colours are on view, and so one can judge how the frock 
would look in company with its fellows. Now large shoe and 
slipper shops for anything from adults down to dolls can be 
seen— now fashion articles or silver or brass shops— boots, 
guns, glasses— the confectioner’s goodies, the pewterer’s 
wares— fans, etc. Behind great glass windows absolutely 
everything one can think of is neatly, attractively displayed, 
and in such abundance of choice as almost to make one 
greedy; in such streets as have fewer shops, especially the 
newer ones inhabited mostly by learned or rentier classes, 
an iron railing, erected some few paces from the house, 
runs up to the front doors dividing the road from the 
basement, which not only contains the cellar but also 
kitchen, bake-house and servants’ quarters. In all the big 
streets stands a row of hackney coaches, as fine as any used 
at home to drive to court in, and such a crowd of them as 
though there were one to each house. 

We crossed the Haymarket, and here I witnessed a method 
of taking hay to market which aroused my admiration and 
caused me no little pleasure. This was a number of boards, 
a hand-breadth in thickness, a few spans long, of rectangular 
form as neat as if cut with a razor, all bound round twice with 
thin reeds, and between them the hay is so firmly pressed 


88 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

together that not a blade can be lost en route: I might almost 
term them hay-cakes, and shall certainly find occasion to study 
the rick and the preparation of these cakes with some country- 
man. The bundles of straw, also sold on the square here, 
are only one-third as thick as those at home, but arranged and 
cut just as nicely as the hay; not a single blade peers out 
longer than another, and it is all piled on the clean, painted 
waggons; the people with them are so well dressed and the 
horses so beautiful that it might all be mistaken for pageantry 
at some national festival. And should it be inferred that this 
good order costs a great deal of time, I shall beg to contradict: 
for seasons and days in England are no longer than with us, 
the countryman is economical too, and does not keep more 
people than are absolutely necessary; but these folk are used 
to such orderly work from childhood up, and carry it out just 
as rapidly as we do our usual slovenly humdrum routine. 

Mr. Hurter, an old friend of your father’s and agent for 
the Margrave of Baden in London, then called to see us. 
He has found us comfortable lodgings and board. His 
pleasant eldest daughter is getting me a cap and hat, as 
women here may not go out without a hat. So the land with 
the greatest freedom of thought, creed and custom is yet in 
some measure fettered by convention. Meanwhile, I am 
very glad that women of my age wear caps under their hats, 
and that I shall not have much trouble or expense with my 
coiffure. 


Sept. 6 

They cat at 3.30 p.m. here, so as we were ready at 1 1 a.m. 
yesterday, I was able to write down anything that came into 
my head during the first dazed hours of excitement and 
curiosity. Suffolk Street is rather quieter than the streets we 
drove through; we soon finished looking over the inn, in 
spite of its many nice rooms, and within the first hour my eye 
had grown fully acquainted with the costume worn by the 
maids, women of middle-class and the children. The former 


DIARY 


almost all wear black taminy petticoats, rather still' and 
heavily stitched, and over these long English calico or linen 
frocks, though not so long and close-fitting in the bodice as 
our tailors and taste cut and point them; here they are 
sensibly fashioned to the figure. Further, they mostly wear 
white aprons; though the servants and working- women often 
appear in striped linen aprons. The caps really resemble 
those seen on English engravings, and simple black taffeta 
hats besides with black ribbons htting right down on to the 
head. I rather lingered on this subject, as English women’s 
dress, in fact any strange attire, always tickles the curiosity. 
There is not much to be seen of the feet, except that nearly 
all the women wear black shoes with very low heels when 
walking, and get across the roads very rapidly. The houses 
are mostly brick and have no decoration other than big, well- 
kept windows, whose panes are framed in fine, white-painted 
wood. The front doors, compared to those in other countries, 
have the peculiarity of being tall and very narrow. The stairs 
are clean, well-lit and carpeted. 

We had a very good meal, but a very dear one, at six 
o’clock, then proceeded to Mrs. Hurter’s in the Marlborough 
Road, and took tea with her at seven. Without quite realising 
how the day had passed we returned to our rooms not very 
many yards away in Portland Street, and already found an 
invitation awaiting us to see some horse-racing. 

Really, I cannot think why I did not join the rest to go and 
see the miniature horse-race held at Barnet by Mr. Hurter’s 
Geneva friend who lives there. It would not help matters at 
all were I to state the reasons for my disappointment; the 
fact remains— the men went off alone, and I console myself 
for my loss with the thought that my dear son Carl will see it. 

I spent part of the long morning clearing out my things 
from my trunk into a wardrobe, looking at the houses in our 
street, and the first pedestrians abroad. Native custom and 
travel have made me used to early rising. As, however, even 
the maids here seldom open their eyes before eight o’clock. 


go SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

I was already dressed when I saw the first workmen passing 
and heard a young voice calling ‘Chimney-sweep! chimney- 
sweep!’ and perceived a tiny chimney-sweep boy, six years 
old, running along barefoot at his master s side, his soot-bag 
on his back, shouting for all he was worth; then I saw the 
milk-maids calling in the district, and some youths from the 
apothecary with china pans, and the maids coming up from 
the basement through the railings in front of the house to 
buy their milk. The beautifully bright milk-cans hung so 
prettily against the frocks and white aprons of the country 
wenches, who wear black taffeta hats like the town maids. 
After a time the crowd increased, and the coaches started 
running. 

I was elated to think I was really and truly in London, and 
reflected on the history of England and its capital. Would it 
be possible for anyone to journey back into the distant 
centuries and form a clear impression of them to place beside 
the present? The Thames flowed on just the same, washing 
the foot of the slopes of London, Richmond and Windsor 
like it does to-day; but how many changes have come upon 
the inhabitants of its shores before its waters were fit to carry 
warships and merchant craft? I should like to read the great 
history of this land, of its rulers and subjects, sitting by the 
side of the English woman Macaulay, so well informed by 
history’s sapient muse, or at the elbow of that estimable Mile. 
Keralio in Paris, and then to listen to these women’s 
comments.^ .... 

. . . Vividly the image of true happiness takes shape again 
in my imagination, and I picture a man of independent 
means, gifted with a lofty, active mind, reading the history of 
nature, government and art of our European countries in the 
lands themselves, combining visits to the most ancient 
records and matters of modern interest. But would the means 
and life of a human being prove sufficient? Indeed, I think 

^ There follows a jejune essay on English history from Roman times, to be 
found in any textbook of English history. 


DIARY 


9 ' 

so, if no single second or penny were wasted, such a favoured 
one of fortune might place a volume of his own observations 
and thoughts beside each volume of history. 1 was able to 
think out all this and write it down, as lunch is not until 3.30 
p.m. here, as I mentioned once before; this is an excellent 
scheme once it has become a habit, for the morning, which 
always lends more brightness to the mind, more lightness to 
the body where work is concerned, is thereby lengthened and 
only a moderate supper is required. 


Sept. 7 

Mr. Hurtcr gave me evidence of true Swiss loyalty, and 
showed a generous disposition when he undertook, in memory 
of the friendship formed with your father on a Swiss voyage 
in 1 769, to let us board with him and take us to sec the sights. 
This man’s kindness of heart alone makes my journey worth 
while. Though 1 profited besides in several ways to-day, 
being shown the factory of mathematical and physical 
instruments which Mr. Hurtcr started at his house, together 
with Mr. Haas of Bibcrach in Swabia, a thoughtful man 
born to physics and mathematics. In this factory the great 
improvements on the air-pump were invented and carried 
out, subsequently so very highly commended in the philoso- 
phical transactions. I also saw a machine for which all kinds 
of mechanical feats have been devised, and was likewise able 
to muse upon Mr. Hurter’s excellent collection of portraits 
on enamel; his particular forte lies in copying the idiom and 
colours of every great master, so that he once had the 
brilliant scheme of reproducing in enamel the finest pieces 
in the Dresden Gallery, in the Palace of the Duke of Orleans, 
those belonging to the Prince of Orange, others from Mann- 
heim, Munich and Dresden. For the execution of this plan 
he opened a fund, but did not obtain sufficient encourage- 
ment, so left The Hague and went to London, where he found 
everything he required as an artist. His acquaintance and 
friendship is also very useful to my son, as he wants to 


92 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

introduce him to Mr. Kirwan, the famous and learned 
chemist, who has a complete mastery of German, so as to 
read and study its works himself in the original; and as 
Kirwan may be reckoned a scholar by choice and not 
compulsion — his income amounts to ^^ 0,000 guilders and 
has stimulated many wealthy young people to take up 
science, his discourse should certainly prove of great value to 
my Carl. 

I wrote to my dear friend, Madame La Fite, who is with 
the court at Windsor, and sent a card to the Countess of 
Reventlow, the royal Danish ambassador’s wife, whom I had 
met at Hamburg, then wearing her bridal wreath as the 
blooming Countess Schimmelmann— the remainder of the 
evening I spent in the company of a person who gave me a 
very clear description of an educational academy for wealthy 
English girls of good family. 

This establishment possessed a certain distinction in the 
character of its founders; these were four sisters with wealth 
and beauty, Stephenson by name, who said that they had 
no desire to marry, yet wished to become mothers according 
to nature’s laws, and, as is the way of communal life, felt 
themselves called upon to be of some use; so they decided to 
avoid the reproach of leading a useless existence by bringing 
up young women. They arranged their own lovely home in 
(Queen’s Square and one beside it for boarders, and adver- 
tised their school, and, as they were known to be persons of 
merit, the best children were entrusted to them to receive all 
the good tuition which they themselves had obtained during 
their education. The number grew to 220. The sisters 
divided the business; one took over correspondence with 
receipts and expenditure; another the whole domestic side; 
the third superintended masters and private lady tutors, of 
whom there were twelve. Fees for the young ladies amount 
to more than one hundred guineas, but they are all excellently 
cared for and have all kinds of masters. My informant added 
the following details of the enterprise. 'Fhey are particularly 


DIARY 


93 

fond of music and singing; adore dancing; love dress and 
ornament; but are so reserved in all their other affections 
that it takes one a little while to get to know a girl six or 
seven years of age. They must be strictly supervised, as they 
soon grow mischievous; are very adaptable, however, 
reasonably serious, and are always models of tender friend- 
ship. They all possess these traits in common, only mingled 
with a greater or lesser degree of merriment or meditative 
bent. Fancy work, drawing or painting, or whatever else 
they undertake, are all executed to a measure of perfection. 

All this made me very desirous of seeing this place and 
making a comparison between St. Gyr in France and Queen’s 
Square. This evening at the play the great love of finery was 
evident everywhere and in all classes. We went to the 
Haymarket theatre, which sometimes presents good society 
plays, and sometimes, like the ‘Theatre Italien’ in Paris, two 
or three short sketches. I rather expected not to see the 
greatest actors, but as the big theatres of Drury Lane and 
Govent Garden are closed and national character may always 
be studied at the play, this in itself offered ample amusement. 

The house seemed exceptionally small, but it is very 
prettily painted in blue and white; the boxes, as in Paris, are 
open and everything is well lit. 

The first piece presented a fairy-tale, with a number of 
changes of scenery and scenes. Particularly effective was an 
island representing the basalt pillars of Ireland, where a 
charming maiden was brought up, who knew nothing of the 
ways of men. A shipwreck lands a nice young man there. 
For a time, of course, he laments; but now the fairy, a pretty 
actress. Mistress Bulkley, appears from between the basalt, 
comforts him, foretells his good fortune, if he can keep his 
peace, and vanishes. This, however, he cannot do, finding it 
necessary at least to converse with his echo. Finally the 
maiden arrives, and the scene of surprise and joy between the 
two is very charming. The father and fairy come as well, and 
they are made one. 


94 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

The second play was a translation of the dialogue from the 
French, where a young aristocrat who is to be married in the 
country pretends to be the domestic, and the bride takes the 
place of the chamber-maid. This was very well acted by 
Miss Farren and Mr. Palmer. The third piece was a kind of 
farce for the populace, in which Harlequin plays the part of a 
great magician in order to abduct Columbine. The old 
major, her father and the serv'ant are quite ‘grotesque’ 
Hogarthian figures. A stage-coach is about to leave; then all 
the people arrive and register, all of which is very amusing 
and realistically presented. And now the laden coach topples 
over, each passenger complains of some special woe, but the 
major is in the worst plight; then in the hostelry the scenes of 
abduction take place. The pantomimes are very jolly and 
comical. Amongst other things Columbine meets a man in 
the market selling birds, of which he has five in different 
cages and holds one after the other up to her, sings a verse 
in her praise, and imitates a bird’s note so realistically that 
the flexibility of his throat and careful study of his art can 
but be admired, for the song of the white-throat, lark, finch, 
nightingale and canary are all perfectly true to nature. A 
twelve-year-old girl dressed as a poor boy who walks round 
with a bundle of rushes, straw and reeds to patch up old 
chairs, then really sits down to work on one, sang and played 
unusually well; indeed, was obliged to give two encores; the 
third time, however, announced with dignity and candour 
that it would not be possible, and that she feared she might 
be unable to take her part the next day; which would grieve 
her excessively, as she liked having her modest talents 
appreciated and applauded. Everyone clapped and praised 
her aloud. She is beautiful, and deserves to be the nation’s 
darling, and will certainly become a great actress, competent to 
keep her voice, gesture and features in complete control, never 
using her talents wrongly or producing exaggerated effects. 

After this delightful performance I saw the players hold a 
kind of trial and support tlie motion, ‘That it is the duty of the 


DIARY 


95 


stage to condemn social evils, and seek improvement through 
the medium of its wit.’ 

It is already common knowledge that the goddess of 
fashion suffers from quotidian fever, which, it has often been 
noticed, at a certain degree of heat turns to madness; as the 
get-up of four ladies attested, who entered a box during the 
third play, with such wonderfully fantastic caps and hats 
perched on their heads, that they were received by the entire 
audience with loud derision. Their neckerchiefs were puffed 
up so high that their noses were scarce visible, and their 
nosegays were like huge shrubs, large enough to conceal a 
person. In less than a quarter of an hour, when the scene 
had changed to a market-square in any case, four women 
walked on to the stage dressed equally foolishly, and hailed 
the four ladies in the box as their friends. All clapped loud 
applause. The two gentlemen accompanying the fashionable 
fools were least able to endure the scorn, for they hastily 
made away. One of the women held her fan before her face, 
and was thereupon called by name — and when the expression 
of the remarks became too strong, they too departed before 
the end of the sketch, but they were followed out by a number 
of people from the pit and gallery, and held up to ridicule. 


Sept. 7 

Our hour at breakfast is most pleasant, as we plan out how 
to make best use of the day; then we read the daily paper, 
which gives us full information on the events of yesterday, 
and what may be seen and had to-day. It seemed a good idea 
to us to utilise the first page for news of the theatre, rope- 
dancing and trick-riding, although it comprises articles on 
commerce, health and service in addition. The notices in 
to-day’s papers run: 

(i) Plays produced at the Haymarket theatre; names of 
actors and actresses as with us, followed by the prices of the 
seats: boxes, 5s.; pit, 3s.; first gallery, 2s.; second gallery, is. 


g6 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

(2) Plays at the small Sadler’s Wells theatre, where to- 
day’s programme offers a satire on magnetism and somnam- 
bulism in particular, and where tumblers and tight-rope 
walkers may be seen: boxes, 3s. 6d.; pit, 2s.; gallery, is. 

(3) At the Royal Bush, Mr. Astley’s amphitheatre; men, 
boys and girls in trick-riding; fireworks; short comedies and 
ballets: boxes, 3s.; pit, 2S.; gallery, is. 

(4) Bermondsey Spa, a place where firework displays are 
held, announces that the scaffolding has been well and 
strongly made. 

(5) The Royal Circus; adults and children in trick-riding, 
children in comedy and pantomime; Italians in dancing and 
buffoonery. 

(6) Two fine large green tortoises for sale, which can be 
pond-reared or else fed. 

(7) A notice against some piratical printer. 

(8) Discovery of new pills. 

(9) Notice of maritime matters; that on 12th September 
the crossing of passengers and provisions to Botany Bay, 
also of Moors to the coast of Guinea, are to be dealt with. 

(10) On the docks at Woolwich all kinds of old ships’ 
timber and nautical instruments to be sold. 

(11) Notice that at ii a.m. on September 14th the South 
Sea Voyagers’ company will meet. 

(12) Fifty guineas reward for information concerning 
attack of a customs officer by one or more of the shipping 
hands. 

(13) The East India Company wants to buy 300 chaldrons 
of coal. 

(14) A pleasant villa in Fulham to be sold; with orchards 
and fish-pond. 

(15) Bitter stomach pills. 

(16) M. Clarkson; slave traffic investigated and proposals 
for liberating and educating the wretched beings, and a 
description of Guinea. 

(17) Notice that the king and queen returned here yester- 


DIARY 


97 

day from Windsor to hold a court (called levee here), and 
all the names of the gentlemen presented: further, that the 
list of criminals committed to die was placed before the king; 
that yesterday evening in the queen’s palace a concert was 
given for the Archduke and Duchess of Milan, 

(18) That the East India Company offers several million 
pounds of tea for sale, terms of disposal consequently much 
lower. 

(19) That on the continent there is a rising against papal 
power, and that the German Catholics would soon be talking 
like Lord Bristol some years back. I am a Roman by religion, 
but do not stand for the Romish court. 

(20) More congratulations to the king from various cities 
for having escaped the mad Nicholson woman’s attack. 

(21) Mourning for the death of the great Frederick; much 
praise and political ratiocination. 

(22) Concerning the attitude of the Palatine electors 
towards the Court of Rome. 

(23) Discovery that the bottom of a fishing-smack was 
exclusively laden with French brandy. 

(24) Growth of the fishing industry in Nova Scotia. 

(25) That the commercial pact with France would mean 
permanent peace. 

(26) That all those gentlemen opposed to the minister Pitt 
are gone to the country to increase the number of their 
supporters. 

(27) That a nobleman has found and tested a method of 
pumping water from ships. 

(28) A match between a Jew and a harness-maker in the 
Epping Forest. 

(29) Notice of a lawsuit. 

(30) The reason why the scaffolding collapsed at the fire- 
works and so many people were injured: some rogues having 
loosened the clamps. 

(31) A neat retort to the complaints of Garrick’s sensitive 
friends with regard to the printing of his letters, which bring 


98 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

to light some small matters that might darken the great man s 
fame. The author of the retort maintains that a number of 
excellent people of Queen Anne’s period would have re- 
mained unknown had her posthumous letters not spoken of 
them. I am quite convinced by this point. For as my noble 
Julie Bondeli destroyed and burned all her essays, and as her 
friends will also die, what testimonies remain to us now other 
than her inimitable letters? ‘These are,’ the Englishman 
says, ‘the nearest way to the hidden places of the heart: to 
one’s friends one makes a clean breast; passions, principles 
and intentions are honestly defined, just as each thought 
finds its mark in a picture.’ And in a letter appended, such 
noble traits of friendship are disclosed that praise alone is due. 
And if it is true that the moral, charitable qualities of the soul 
are worth more than intellectual bombast, then such a letter 
will arouse greater posthumous renown than some book of 
learning which in no wise stirs the spirit. Here Garrick’s 
sixth letter follows, to his friend Draper of Dublin, in 1745, 
in which he shares his fortune, his hopes and ambitions with 
him; at the same time directing him to raise money for an 
honest man who has lost a great deal through bankruptcy, 
and on whose loyalty Garrick so counted that he offered all 
his possessions should they be of any use to him. 

(32) Miss Farren reprimanded for having been ashamed to 
repeat an epilogue for the fourth time. 

(33) Fashion praised; since its caprice and changes contain 
elements of true charitableness, it would not be wise to 
combat the ruling taste of the age, as the fooleries which 
individuals perpetrate in their dress might serve the common 
cause. The author hopes, however, that the fashion for 
shoelaces will not become prevalent, as so many families of 
shoe-buckle manufacturers will be wiped out. 

(34) Mutual advantages of the Universities of Oxford and 
Cambridge, since the former has always had the best poets, 
while the latter produced mathematical scholars, that 
monarch of genius Newton in particular. 


DIARY 


99 


(35) Notice of the beautiful poem on charity, by Mr. Lacy. 

(36) That a young Newfoundland dog drew the milk from 
a sleeping woman’s breast each night, so that her child very 
nearly pined, when the husband discovered it. 

(37) A reminder to change the post-time. 

(38) Praise of Mr. Jonas Han way, a late writer, for seeking 
out all objects of sympathy and charity and particularly for 
writing on behalf of the poor little chimney-sweep boys. 

(39) Notice of the fraudulence of a certain Major Sempel. 

(40) Much news of horrible scenes in Ireland concerning 
the White Boys. 

(41) News from Paris. 

(42) From Plymouth. 

(43) Horse-racing, breed and virtues of horses. 

(44) Short verses. 

(45) Shipping news — who, where and whither. 

{46) Bills of exchange, per cents, and bank news. 

(47) Height of the water near London Bridge. 

(48) Auction of a country-house, and all the appurtenances. 

(49) Notice that the heirs of a certain Nash are desirous of 
selling the six houses he has built, and from which he derived 
^194 annually. 

(50) A desirable residence, eighty-four years’ lease. In all 
these cases a separate breakfast-room is mentioned. 

(51) Another in Barnet for thirty-nine years. 

(52) Several estates, all laying particular stress on the fact 
that fruit-trees are planted there, and are watered by a canal. 

(53) A large estate. Court Lodge, where fox-hunting laws 
seem to prevail. 

(54) In addition several more houses, mills and farms. 
With the houses there is always a note to the effect that they 
do or do not contain many mahogany pieces. 

(55) A hunt for large parties on the Thames and some 
small, attractive craft for sale. 

(56) Sixty kinds of coaches for sale. 

(57) Horses of all descriptions. 


lOO 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

(58) All kinds of wines, no bottles. 

(59) Inquiry about two missing men. 

I only wanted, dear children, to give you an idea of the 
papers here, of which twenty-one different kinds are issued 
daily, containing all the court, parliamentary, literary and 
foreign news besides. 

This morning we accompanied Mr. Hurter to Vulliamy’s, 
court-clockmaker by royal appointment, and witnessed works 
of exquisite beauty and perfection there. It is no prejudice 
on my part if I state that no Paris invention comes up to 
those which I saw here; and truly, ideas for practical use 
cannot be more nobly represented. 

(1) One table-clock represents a genius showing a boy 
the clock with one hand, and Minerva with the other, as 
though he were saying: Wisdom will teach you to make good 
use of your time! The clock is suspended from a broken pillar 
standing on an incline; at the side sits Minerva, book in hand. 

(2) A large French clock executed for the Prince of Wales: 
a round temple on whose altar the hours are marked out; 
Time sits on the steps clipping Cupid’s wings. 

(3) A nymph on a slope near a footstool on which stands 
a cinerary urn; around its base she slings an arm, looking 
meditatively meanwhile into the urn to which the clock is 
fixed. The expression on her face suggests that she is con- 
templating the fugitive race of time. 

(4) A temple which the art-daemons are busy decorating; 
but Time, looking out from behind a pillar, has already given 
other orders, namely, that it must be destroyed, and more 
daemons behind the pyramid to which the clock is fixed are 
breaking parts of the beams and pillars in two. 

(5) One where music, drawing and a figure reading share 
out the hours. 

French artists have certainly created some fine things both 
in clocks and watches, as have artists in Geneva and Neuf- 
chatel; but I never yet saw anything so noble, simple and 
instructive from their hands. All the images are Greek figures 


UKiVElh'i'l Y 


■'"TORIA 


DIARY 


lOI 


in ‘biscuit porcelain,’ and Mr. Vulliamy’s physiognomy 
and gentle modest person hide a store of Greek ideas and 
moral allegory. His spirit leads him along the path of true 
beauty. May he travel along it for many years with just as 
much good fortune as he has modesty. His lovely wife and 
children will serve as models to him for anything he requires. 
And yet I think I noticed a certain deep and subtle pride, 
for all that, very reasonable. This is how it was: 

The room where the French clocks are is large, and the 
clocks stand round it on small, simple tables, arranged so as 
to reach to eye-level, and paper covers keep his beautiful 
works free from dust. Of course, Mr, Vulliamy takes off 
these covers when he exhibits his fine creations, and must 
feel boundless pleasure on observing the connoisseur or 
sensitive moral soul contemplate his labours with wonder and 
affection. Having absorbed all the beauty of his figures, 
invention and perfect craftsmanship, however, one is shown 
all manner of table-clocks of French manufacture, with 
particularly fine setting and bronze ornament, yet which 
must inevitably lose when placed beside his works, as it is 
impossible to change so swiftly from a feeling of noble 
simplicity to one of luxury and magnificence. Not many of 
these clocks will come to Germany, I should say, for the price 
is too high for most fanciers— fifty, eighty and one hundred 
guineas per piece. I enjoyed this visit, and I shall tell my 
Lina with what pleasure I looked back on the time when I 
gave her a precise and clear impression of the art of clock- 
making, encouraging her to get to know the elements of every 
art and science; not for bragging or vain show, oh no! but so 
that she might view a fine piece of mental and manual labour 
with a better knowledge and understanding of the long series 
of mental and artistic processes implied. Mr. Vulliamy did 
not hear me talking much, but he noticed that my soul was 
entirely given over to a realisation of the value and a feeling 
for the beauty of his works. This satisfied him, and quiet, 
fervent enjoyment of my knowledge, me; only on leaving did 


102 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

I congratulate him on his intimate acquaintance with the 

Greek spirit. . 

From this house we arrived at St. James’ Park, and right 

at the entrance we were shown the place where the mad 
Nicholson woman made an attempt on the king’s life. This 
put me in mind of the marble court at Versailles, for there 
last year I was shown the spot where Louis xv was wounded 
by Damien. The treatment of these two poor lunatics differed 
in each case according to the differing spirit of the law; 
Damien went to a horrible death; Nicholson to a mad-house, 
where fanatics belong, rather than to judgment halls. But 
let me turn from such sad thoughts to nature s grandeur. 
The park is large and regal. It is one of the finest things ever 
conceived by Henry viii, and the first sight of it leads one to 
exclaim, ‘Was it possible for the man who felt the charm of 
these gardens to be cruel in himself?’ But Catherine of 
Medici, too, knew and loved the fine arts, and notwithstanding 
commanded the Huguenots to be massacred. 

I was delighted to have nature so close to the royal palace; 
for cows were grazing on a meadow in the park and drinking 
from out a pond lying there. On entering the park the old 
palace, which consists of a number of detached buildings, is 
left behind, and the large three-fold avenue lies in front, 
which serves for riding, driving and walking; on the right 
the queen’s palace, or Buckingham House, is visible on 
gently rising ground, and on the left stands the splendid pile 
belonging to the horse-guards; proceeding farther, West- 
minster Abbey can be seen towering above the fine trees, also 
a large square on which the bodyguard performs its 
manoeuvres, and a lovely bosket alongside the canal where 
fallow deer stalk. There we saw a Scotsman in highland 
costume; his striped blue and white cloak slung round him; 
his apron and bare knees were new to us. 

I prefer the park to the Tuileries in Paris, although the 
buildings there look more splendid, just as all London houses 
are far inferior to those in Paris; but as I said before, 


DIARY 


103 


I like this difference, as most of the well-to-do plebeian 
houses are witness to the fact that England divides up 
fortune’s spoils more equally; just as if a state with a republi- 
can spirit controlling the power of the monarchy were to 
keep its ground territory more level, so that the goddess of 
fortune might roll her wheel unhindered into every nook and 
cranny. Enraptured by this park, designed for kings and a 
kingly nation, I sat down for a few minutes to enjoy a sight 
of the charming English women, that pretty picture hovering 
in my mind which Mme. du Bocage made of them in 1758. 
But even she would no longer find the chic, noble, sylph-like 
dress and nymph-like gait which she admired twenty-eight 
years ago in this park; for the good English ladies have spoiled 
their originally fine taste in dress by adoption and exaggera- 
tion of Paris modes in hats and heels. The characteristics of 
national costume are gone, the size of the head-dress is out 
of all proportion, and many of them neglect their petticoats 
to a degree which grieved me not a little. 

We spent the afternoon with the learned Reverend Mr. 
Woide, who is besides librarian of the Museum, and inhabits 
a pleasant wing of this marvellous palace. I was amused at 
the analogy I discovered here with the French intellectual 
spirit. In Paris the palace of Cardinal Mazarin was used as 
royal library, and in London the Duke of Montague’s, who, 
as Charles ii’s favourite, collected and gave away great 
treasures. It is a magnificent edifice, having four wings, just 
as though fate, at its erection, had intended it as a repository 
for the collection of nature’s wonders and the greatest works 
of human genius; for in this house everything is large, in 
keeping with the dignity of the objects preserved there. I 
was very glad to be able to meet some of my worthy country- 
men from Stuttgart at the same time and to find them eager 
for knowledge and attentive. Owing to legacies the library 
possesses a large number of books, which occupy several 
rooms, as a delicate and thoughtful sense of truth and 
gratitude always allowed each gift of books its own room 


104 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

with a portrait of the donor. But, in my opinion, they doubly 
deserved that their name and collections of books and 
manuscripts should be preserved apart: firstly, because a 
man who has been an example of devotion to learning and a 
life well spent, merits the respect of his contemporaries and 
successors; and secondly, for having left his choice collection 
of instructive works for the common benefit. It also contains 
a great deal of material collected from the environment of 
kings and queens: amongst other things, a series of letters 
dating from Henry vi up to the present king, also many 
original portraits in chronological order. 

There is hardly time enough amidst a swarm of foreigners 
to take note of everything one would like to see. The ‘Magna 
Carta,’ or the great charter of liberty received by the nation 
from Henry i in its entirety and for eternity, was shown 
beneath a glass casing. I shall never share in these liberties, 
but the sight of this piece of parchment, badly damaged in 
some fire, rapidly and vividly conveyed to my mind the 
splendid picture of the fortunes of an English monarch.^ . . . 

... You can readily imagine, beloved daughters, what my 
thoughts were before the original portrait of the lovely, 
reckless, luckless Mary of Scotland; before that of Elizabeth 
the vindictive, in many ways so great, and before the prayer- 
book which she wrote: how objectionable I found Cromwell’s 
portrait and letters, especially after seeing the petitions 
handed to parliament by Charles I’s children, next to which 
lies the carte blanche placed with them by Charles ii. 
Prince of Wales, bearing the words: The parliament might 
make any conditions it pleased, he would fulfil them if only 
they would let his unhappy father live. Yet Cromwell, an 
evil man of prayer, who always carried the psalms about with 
him, was not softened by these petitions and tears. But there 
are still amongst us apparently good people who torture the 
best of creatures without cause, regard unmoved the tears 

' Omitted are a few muddled concepts as to the history of English liberty, 
more adequately replaced by modem commentaries on Magna Carta. 


DIARY 


105 


and pleadings at their feet — why should an ambitious 
hypocrite not have done so a hundred years ago? 

The sight of Pope’s and Rousseau’s letters slightly minimised 
the sad impressions which previous objects had made upon me, 
and the excellent works of Sybilla Merian almost succeeded in 
dispelling them. Also I must admit that I was glad to be rid 
of all such bitter meditations, and so exchanged them readily. 

This reminded me of the extract from Sybilla Merian’s 
story, which I received from a noble-minded lady in Upper 
Saxony, together with some beautiful letters, as a contribution 
to Pomona after this monthly had already ceased; and as 
these two delightful friends, who used to write to me jointly, 
never gave their name or address, I was unable to thank 
them; though Merian’s immortal works brought their 
soulful letters vividly to mind again. Maybe this diary will 
chance into their hands, and at least they will see that 
Pomona La Roche was by no means ungrateful or forgetful 
of their fine gift, and that she still desires to know the modest 
friends, and they should grant her this opportunity. And I 
said to myself: 

‘How happy was Sybilla Merian in devoting her immense 
talent for drawing and painting to natural history alone, and 
employing her sharp eye and delicate feeling solely on the 
wondrous fashionings and beauties of the vegetable world; 
for here and amongst insect-life her soul need not suffer so 
much in its observations as that of the painter of historical 
scenes, obliged to trace out all the human passions. As a 
portrait painter, she would scarcely have worked with inward 
calm had she detected an evil heart, insolence or baseness 
beneath a charming exterior. I was indeed glad that her 
admirable art and infinite industry were busied rather with 
nature’s quips, with the thousandfold transformations of 
tint and texture of flowers, herbs, beetles and creeping things 
than in pursuing the sad tricks of human emotions. ’. . .^ 

1 Here follows a biographical extract of little interest, such as were found 
in contemporary biographical dictionaries. 


io6 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

What evidence our Merian is, that women too, if their talents 
are cultivated, are capable ofearning fame and honours in man s 
field of science, which even men might covet for themselves. 

I should have liked to contemplate all the details of her 
uncommon talent j but beside her works there is also a very 
fine and perfect collection of a similar kind by a French 
artist, Robert, though I should give Sybilla’s first place. 
On the walls hung portraits of learned Britons whose works 
or names were known to me, and delighted me greatly, for 
the memory of their mental qualities lent greater worth to 
their external features, though, frankly speaking, without 
the important name attaching, many a face would pass 
unnoticed. Respectfully one stops to look at Mr. Sloane s 
portrait, whose collection of books fills six rooms; the 
seventh contains manuscripts, and then follow several volumes 
of dried herbs from all over the world; a number of drawings, 
prints and nature exhibits. He had collected thousands of 
various other curios. Parliament voted twenty thousand 
guineas to his heirs and the right of electing one of the 
librarians as token of eternal esteem to Sloane. 

At the end of the library’s many rooms, amongst the 
collection of new and foreign writings, we also found the 
portraits of Voltaire and St. Evremont. I trust that Count 
Buffon will be added, and Newton would not inspire less 
reverence and affection even if Leibnitz were to be next 
door. Henry viii has a face most repulsive to one’s moral 
feelings; his full cheeks and double chin seem brimful of 
blood and sap drained from good humans; the smile of his 
eyes and mouth suggests a certain grimness. These clearly 
defined characteristics, like Cromwell’s hidden traits, make 
one shudder even now; while the angelic innocence and 
visibly fine qualities of Jane Grey and her Guildford, on the 
other hand, engender great love and sincere affliction, Mary 
of Scotland’s and her grandchild Charles I’s weakness and 
want of wisdom, pity, Elizabeth’s proud, harsh spirit, 
vexation, and her sister Mary, abhorrence. 


DIARY 


107 

I thought it very delightful to find a learned Pole, the 
librarian Woide, guiding German scholars round England s 
temple of the sciences; I should have liked to have seen one 
further collection besides, arranged according to the ideas 
of that scholar who wrote a book on the state of English 
literature from its origins up to the time of William the 
Conqueror, continuing from there to Edward i and our own 
day. I imagine it would be a most interesting collection in 
any land, even though only one author from every branch of 
science were represented, so that thus an extract of the 
centuries would be collated in one room. 

With these ideas passing through my mind I came to the 
Chevalier Hamilton’s magnificent collection of Roman and 
Etrurian antiquities, which appears to contain some wonder- 
ful rarities. His life-size portrait hangs there too. This room 
alone rewards the student of history and of nature for his 
trip to England. Several Greek and Roman urns are to be 
seen; in one of the latter there is still a piece of asbestos in 
which the body was incinerated. These human ashes, whose 
lust for power sought to disturb peace and welfare all over 
the earth, are quite appropriately placed near some fragments 
of Vesuvius and Etna, which by means of forces supplied to 
them by nature, shattered the fatherland of these haughty 
conquerors, burying thousands of them beneath their glowing 
lava. With what sensations one handles a Carthaginian 
helmet excavated near Capua, household utensils from 
Herculaneum, ruined two thousand years ago, lachry^mary 
vessels from the graves of Magna Graeca. I should like to see 
a noble-minded young Englishman survey the standards of 
the Roman legion called ‘Victrix,’ the Victorious, for the 
first time. There are mirrors, too, belonging to Roman 
matrons, golden earrings, necklaces and bracelets. With 
one of these mirrors in my hand I looked amongst the urns, 
thinking meanwhile, ‘Maybe chance has preserved amongst 
these remains some part of the dust from the fine eyes of a 
Greek or Roman lady, who so many centuries ago surveyed 


io8 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

herself in this mirror, trying to discover whether the ear- 
rings and necklet before me suited her or not. Nor could I 
restrain my desire to touch the ashes of an urn on which a 
female figure was being mourned. I felt it gently, with great 
feeling, between my fingers, but found much earth mixed 
with it. The thought, ‘Thou divided, I integral dust am still,’ 
moved me greatly, and in the end I thought it must be 
sympathy which had caused me to pick this one from so 
many urns to whose ashes a good, sensitive soul had once 
given life. This idea affected me, and again I pressed the 
grain of dust between my fingers tenderly, just as her best 
friend might once have grasped her hand, complaining that 
she had but ill reward for her kindness, or that her best 
intentions were misread. And gently I returned the particle 
I had taken to the rest of the dust, murmuring to myself, 
‘Forgive Hamilton and me for breaking in on your peace.’ 
I had become quite attached to that ash and would have 
liked to bury it somewhere, so as to prevent its being shaken 
up and fingered again; but how was I to shield that which 
had been taken from its mother’s womb one thousand years 
ago? 

The others had meantime had a good look at what 
remained. I admired the fine Etrurian vessels of all shapes 
and sizes, which had furnished Mr. Wedgwood with the 
idea and ingenuity of modelling his porcelain on none but 
Greek or Etrurian lines. 

You know that the Grand Duchy of Tuscany was formerly 
called Etruria and that the art-loving house of Medici, the 
beauty of Florence and large collection of all kinds of 
masterpieces still go to prove that this region has ever been 
consecrated to higher culture. 

I also saw some tesserae or Roman signs made of ivory, 
and some of glass; these were used like our tallies or as 
invitation cards, entrance or lottery tickets, at the play, or 
given out with imperial presentations. On some of them the 
poets’ names whose comedies were played still stand. Dice 


DIARY 


109 


were there too, not excluding some false ones. ‘So,’ I 
remarked, ‘even in those times the ugly passion for gaming 
lowered man’s character to practise fraudulence, then?’ and 
received the reply, ‘Yes, just as the mirror, invented so as to 
keep the face kempt and clean, made coquettes, where I 
wager deceit plays just as large a part as with false dice. 
High-minded men must avoid both dice and painted women 
too,’ was Mr. Woide’s retort. 

I should have very much liked to look at the numerous 
house-gods, for they possessed as many of these as wishes 
might arise, and so turned to the figure which stood for their 
particular desire. 

But there is no need to stop over them, as in many thousand 
Christian families we find just as many images of saints as 
there are diseases and charities, for which reason they are 
called upon and worshipped. 

Hamilton’s room leads into that devoted to Captain Cook, 
that luckless, excellent man, and all the pots, weapons and 
clothes from the South Sea islands just recently discovered, 
are on view there, just as they are shown in the prints 
illustrating the description of his voyage: crowns, helmets 
and war-masks, state uniforms and mourning — the former 
made of tiny shells and feathers, very densely and neatly 
sewn on in strips according to colour, the latter also partly 
of feathers and partly of bast, and made out of linen from the 
so-called lace-bark tree. Their hunting and fishing imple- 
ments are very cunningly devised. The high priest’s and 
chief mourner’s garments are really such as to inspire endless 
fear and awe into the people. The king’s dress is much 
enhanced by the millions of tiny flame-red feathers, much 
resembling the apron of old Roman garb, and the bodice 
sewn tightly with numerous white and yellow feathers shaped 
like a harness. The helmets in stark, crude colours, with 
high-flying plumes and horrible masks attached, made of 
small shells, are awesome; similar to our good German 
ancestors in purpose, when they tie animal heads on so as to 


no SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

appear more terrible. On the whole, however, Roman, 
Greek and Carthaginian remains, swathings of Egyptian 
mummies. South Sea islanders’ apparel and portraits of 
English royal personages or of those we see around us still, 
all prove that vanity and imperiousness led people at all 
times and in all places to ornament and instruments of 
slaughter, just as sounds of joy produced song, trippmg 
merriment led to dance, passionate gesture to a groping 
after language. 

Here one of my friends’ sayings occurs to me, which 
maintained that culture and refinement of the mind only 
began after food supplies and bodily comforts had attained a 
certain degree of perfection. I could no more contradict than 
judge, and so kept to the lesser paths of observation and 
criticism more in compliance with the power of my intellect. 

Archenholz and Wendeborn— the latter by no means as 
famous or esteemed as he deserves — have written about 
English sights and singularities so well and so instructively 
as to put everyone else in the shade, except for Moritz and 
Herr v. Watzdorf, who both deserve attention. I make no 
pretensions whatever, but hope by relating what I saw and 
thought, to give my daughters some slight entertainment, and, 
for myself, to renew some happy days. 

We had no time to visit the nature exhibits or the 
Museum’s lovely garden, and went home full of admiration 
for so splendid an institution; just think of seeing so many 
useful things without its putting the connoisseur or the merely 
curious to the least expense, for all gratuities are strictly 
prohibited. We returned by a number of new streets as yet 
unexplored, and remarked with renewed admiration on the 
beauty of the shops; likewise wishing that in all cities the 
police were as thoughtful for pedestrians. 

The rest of the evening we spent at tea, talking to a young 
native of Berne, who sought my company and surprised me 
immensely by complaining that he found his fifth week’s 
stay in London boring. He is hurrying to Paris and looking 


DIARY 


1 1 1 


forward to the Magnetists and Martinists. But on hearing 
me speak of Switzerland with such affection he praised the 
Oxford district rapturously, preferring it to all Swiss land- 
scapes. He said he went to Oxford to compare this University 
with Gottingen, but had forgotten all else, so much did he 
appreciate its perfect natural beauties. Now with his friend, 
Tillier, he wants to compare Paris with London. He also 
led me to make a comparison of his features with those of 
other Berners of my acquaintance, so as to find out whether 
this one too were a victim of tedium; so interested was this 
young fellow in points of comparison— London and Paris; 
Oxford and Gottingen — I asked him whether he was also 
intending to compare the Magnetists with Boerhaven and 
Zimmermann, and the Martinists with Less and Jerusalem’s 
principles? 


Sept. 8 

We spent a delightful morning, and one which appealed 
both to the heart and the intelligence. We went to Leicester- 
fields, to the house of one Sir Ashton Lever, to look over his 
collection of nature exhibits and art treasures, occupying 
sixteen rooms. I was glad we decided to walk there, and 
fairly slowly at that, owing to my friend’s delicate constitu- 
tion, which enabled me to inspect a number of shops and home 
crafts more closely, for pedestrians need dread neither dirt 
nor danger here. Cleanliness and a quite unique good taste 
range everywhere. The workmen look industrious and 
thoughtful, and so many delightful figures and extraordinarily 
lovely children are to be met, that each step increases one’s 
respect and pleasure in the contemporary and growing 
generation of London’s population. 

A pastry-cook’s attracted our attention for some time, as it 
is surrounded, like a large spacious room, by glass cases, in 
which all kinds of preserved fruits and jellies are exhibited in 
handsome glass jars; in the middle of the shop, however, 
there stood a big table with a white cover containing 


I 12 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

pyramids of small pastries and tartlets and some larger 
pastries and sweetmeats; wine-glasses of all sizes, with lids 
to them, and full of liqueurs of every conceivable brand, 
colour and taste were attractively set out in between, as 
might be expected, at a large and very elegant table. What 
we women liked best of all though, was a large but delightful 
covering made of gauze, which hid nothing from view and at 
the same time kept the flies off. Indeed we promised our- 
selves a breakfast in this shop after our visit to Sir Ashton. 

Leicesterfields is one of the many big London squares with 
beautiful lawns inset: in the middle stands a statue, and there 
are paths all round with neatly wrought iron railings, lit up by 
lamps at night which, since several thoroughfares abut there, 
and fine houses occupy the squares, are very pleasant to the 
eye. There is a big house here once inhabited by the Prince 
of Wales, father to the present king. This, Sir Ashton rented 
when he came to town with his curios, amassed during many 
years in the country. A delightful court, planted with trees 
and decorated with flowers along both sides, leads up to this 
fine mansion. 

In the first entrance stood a number of long, narrow 
cupboards, on which large crests were painted, which we 
thought must belong to the collection. But distinguished 
officers’ uniforms are kept in these, ready to hand there for 
service. Then the big door to the main apartments opened, 
and we stood in a large marble hall at the foot of a handsome 
staircase, in the midst of a heap of old armour and guns from 
every age and corner of the globe, displayed as trophies. 
The high walls of the well-hole are hung with dried sea- 
monsters of every description, and at the top of the flight of 
stairs in front of the first room an excellently stuffed young 
elephant bids one welcome. On leaving him one enters the 
room, hung with sea-green damask, curtains of the same, 
and with sweet little benches by the windows. Lining three 
walls there are nothing but neat glass cases containing all 
species of sand, earth, stones, metals, resins and fossils. 


DIARY 


Madrepores come next; after these all kinds of birds from 
every clime, from the ostrich to the humming-bird, whole 
families of some of them, old and young, eggs and nests. A 
room lull offish is equally fine and perfect, another containing 
various kinds of snakes and reptiles; all the rare quadrupeds 
of the known world; all manner of apes and insects. Another 
room full of musical instruments of all nations, ancient and 
modern, and in with these different types of music since the 
discovery of notes. A further room containing all kinds of 
porcelain, cooking- and eating-utensils of all nations. Of all 
these sights the most charming and unique was the person of 
Sir Ashton himself, a good friendly man of some fifty years 
or so, who addressed us courteously, though briefly, remarking 
that as we were foreign we would not see the collection so 
often, and so he would show us the most important things 
himself; and then proceeded to guide us round. Our pleasure 
and admiration both pleased and pained him. ‘I myself 
come here daily,’ he said, ‘to view these objects which I 
cherish as old friends; for one day they will be in strange 
hands and I shall not see them again. It was a passion of 
mine to possess all nature’s wonders: no expense was spared; 
I have spent over a million on it, and now that I am old, I 
find I have hardly enough to be able to live in comfort, so 
was obliged to auction it all by lottery. But an evil star was in 
my wake — I made out thirty thousand lots, each at a guinea, 
and settled on a time for the draw. I had hardly sold seven 
thousand lots when the day came round — I had to keep my 
word, and the fifth drew my collection.’ 

We saw that the thought depressed him and did not 
inquire further: afterwards he told us of two kind actions 
done him by the parliament and people. The former, 
through a delegation of his friends, gave permission to 
Sir Ashton to show his collection daily until the beginning of 
November at a charge, and the latter has been streaming in 
horde-wise ever since to help pay damages to the poor man 
thus twice disappointed. As not only did he not sell his lots, 

H 


II4 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

but he lost a hope cherished for five weeks; for during the 
period after the draw there was no announcement made, and 
Sir Ashton himself, and his friends as well, thought some 
magnanimous soul had won it and had decided not to put 
in an appearance, either to enable the owner to retain it 
or let him make some profitable deal; thanks and praises 
were daily being offered up to the generous anonymous, 
when a barrister turned up with the winning ticket, saying 
that his late wife had taken part in this lottery unbeknown to 
him and had died before the draw. He was her heir and had 
found the lot when looking through her papers. . . Thus fate 
and justice favoured the claimant, but popular sympathy 
was so hot on Sir Ashton’s side and enthusiasm grew to 
such a pitch, that some went to see the collection ten to 
twenty times to contribute an equal number of shillings 
towards his losses; and nearly all showed a certain aversion 
to the barrister who had destroyed the fine ideal of generosity 
entertained for so many weeks, during which time all had 
rejoiced at Sir Ashton’s returning good fortune. This 
barrister has now promoted a company, which has rented 
different rooms, where the curios are housed and exhibited 
on certain days on payment. I hope they convey everything 
successfully and look after them equally well. Good Sir 
Ashton had labelled and named even the smallest trifles, or 
attached little pieces of cardboard, so that the curious might 
find information about everything, complete. Captain Cook 
so much admired this good Ashton’s intellect, that he gave 
him a complete collection of all kinds of South Sea curiosities, 
which to me seems much vaster even than the one in the 
British Museum. 

I enjoyed seeing dresses belonging to kings and queens, 
lords and ladies three hundred years ago or more, offering a 
splendid selection of models for masked fancy dress; some 
of their weird trimmings are just as preposterous as those of 
the Chinese, Turks or Tahiti in the adjoining room. It is 
quite impossible, dear children, to give an idea of all the 


DIARY 


115 

innumerable things I looked at there until almost two 
o’clock, for impressions follow one another so fast, and all 
the wonders of nature, and all the incredible artistic concep- 
tions of form and colour, pleasant and unpleasant, are so 
tightly packed, that the mind and eye are quite dazzled by 
them, and in the end both are overwhelmed and retain 
nothing at all. 

Sir Ashton’s house can indeed be called a temple of 
nature, where every possible mark of her miracles and good 
works is preserved. 

From here we came to Westminster Abbey, in itself and 
with the monuments it contains, a temple consecrated to 
moral curiosities. 

What a number of changes have taken place in this realm 
and in the City of London since the Saxon king, Sebert 
(605), erected a chapel dedicated to the Apostle St. Peter 
upon the ruins of the Roman temple to Apollo! How varied 
was the scene between the time of Sebert and Edward the 
Confessor (1045), extended this chapel into a large 

church, and began the’ practice of making it the burial- 
ground for all royal personages. Again how different from 
Edward up to Henry vii’s day (1500), or while the forty- 
four abbots succeeded one another, under whom the church 
was enriched by gifts from various kings and queens! ’Tis 
true it lost everything again under Henry viii, but his daughter 
Mary re-endowed it and agreed to the acquisition of more 
monks, while Elizabeth finally founded a deacon and canons, 
and established their rights. 

The nave is 360 feet long, and the transepts, for it is built 
in the shape of a cross, 190 feet wide. It is in real old Gothic 
style, carried out in fine light grey stone; but London air 
must contain some element very destructive to such ornament, 
as I never saw a Gothic building so ravaged and blunted 
externally as this. We took the entrance nearest the so-called 
Poets’ Corner, containing a number of monuments to 
English and foreign scholars, much after my own heart, as 


ii6 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

there were inscriptions, busts and names of some eminent 
people there, whose history and works I knew. These I 
contemplated with reverent awe, grateful for the teaching 
and pleasure they have given me. Your brother has copied 
the inscription from Goldsmith’s tomb*, it may please some 
Germans to find it here, though all will most certainly feel 
righteous indignation that the man deserving of such 
encomium should die of want in London.^ 

I was struck by the idea that Shakespeare, the dramatic 
poet, should have a monument in Westminster, of which a 
copy may be found in almost every household. Veiy 
estimable too is that an extract from his maxims can be read 
inside the church, since those fine verses from The Tempest 
are written on a scroll hanging from beneath his arm.^ 

‘The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces. 

The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 

Yea all which it inherit, shall dissolve, 

And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 

Leave not a rack behind. . . .’ 

I was glad to see the bust of St. Evremont, partly because 
the respect shown him proves that England recognised 
foreign merit impartially, partly because he was the first 
French author I had read with any profit. The artist’s 
conception for Handel’s monument is veiy delightful, as 
the musician is portrayed listening to the call of an angel’s 
bugle. The memorial to that unlucky Major Andre moved 
me greatly, all the more because it is placed near the one 
erected by Mrs. Thomson to her son, slain in that tragic 
American war. Andre’s was presented by the king, but 
how different the feelings of these two mothers must have 
been. The latter condemned to hang for a thoughtless action, 
and Thomson at his post on the battlefield. For my part, I 
think it an eternal disgrace that the Americans put from them 

1 Here follows in the text a copy of the epitaph ; ‘ Olivarii Goldsmith, etc. 

The Tempest, act iv. sc. i. 


DIARY 


117 

petitions, magnanimity and sympathy, punishing the young 
man’s exaggerated enthusiasm thus cruelly. They have made 
some slight amends by knocking Washington’s head off the 
bas-relief which shows him at the council of war! Behind 
the choir, which is only used for services, is St. Edward’s 
chapel, in whose coffin a large golden chain and cross were 
found six hundred years after his death, in 1655, and given 
to James ii, who probably took it with him on his flight to 
France. This chapel is surrounded by ten others, where 
kings and queens of England and many other people besides 
are interred. 

I was sorry that Matilda, Henry I’s wife, who died in 
1 1 1 8, had no monument, for I am so grateful to her for having 
bridges built, and looking after road repairs, and doing good 
to the poor. It would make very pleasant entertainment 
reading the biographies of all those buried here, noting the 
qualities most highly appraised, and comparing the taste of 
the sculptors and eminent people through the centuries. 
The portraits and inscriptions are both large and small, 
lofty and bombastic in conception. I think the point at which 
England’s artistic afRnity with the Greek spirit set in might 
easily be determined. 

In one part of the church there is such a profusion of 
monuments that one is obliged to squeeze between them. 
In the real world, I thought, one certainly never bumps 
into none but notabilities at a party! I was sorry to find 
that the place was neither so well cared for, nor kept so 
clean as the Paris churches, nor as befitted the dignity of 
the edifice, the many remains resting there, and the wonderful 
Gothic works of every kind. The chapel where the great 
beds of state stand as memorials to royal personages, is both 
dark and narrow; many tombs look childishly small, others 
touching in their simplicity, as in the case of one of James I’s 
daughters, who lies in a charming alabaster cot with the 
great arched hood and the cover turned back like a sleeping 
child. 


ii8 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Young Lady Russell, modelled life-size at the age of 
seventeen, is seated, and supports her lovely head quietly 
but sadly in one hand, pointing with outstretched finger o 
the other to a death-mask lying at her feet, for she is said to 
have died from a needle-point which broke off in her finger, 
mortally injuring her. 

The memorial erected by Charles ii to the remains of the 
two brothers Edward v and the Duke of York, murdered by 
their uncle, is also fine and impressive— an urn bearing the 
combined royal and ducal arms and surrounded by branches 
of palm as a sign of their martyrdom. The windows and 
pillars of the aisles on both sides are lined with the crests 
of those families who flourished at the time of Henry ii, when 
he restored and extended the church. 

The custom of exhibiting wax figures of important 
personages, clad in the costume of their day, struck me as 
extremely queer. A beautiful Duchess of Richmond seems 
to come towards one, when the doors of her cupboard have 
been opened, fan in hand, in her court-dress of green velvet 
embroidered in gold, as seen a hundred years ago; her stuffed 
dog and parrot are by her side. Likewise Queen Mary, 
Elizabeth and others are in full dress, as also the great Lord 
Chatham in parliamentary attire. A slim figure and fine 
features, quite different from anything I might have imagined 
from his works and activities; for I should have pictured him 
very serious. This image stresses rather the greatness of his 
mind, and that the planning and execution of important 
matters were but trifles to him. 

I stood for some minutes before Newton’s monument, put 
into practice a part of the inscription’s content to the effect 
that ‘all mortals should congratulate themselves on the good 
fortune of having had such a man amongst them.’ And into 
my mind came the French Academy of Sciences’ kindly 
thought, which delivered an oration in praise of Newton 
actually written by Fontenelle. I was glad that Fontenelle 
was given the chance of elaborating on so pleasant a theme 


DIARY 


II9 

as Newton’s great mental qualities and equally line spiritual 
virtues. Everyone, at the mention of his name, knows that 
he was one of the greatest mathematicians and made some 
most important discoveries; but not everyone knows that this 
great man combined modesty, gentleness and kindness 
towards all mankind; that he mastered all the big things, 
yet never despised small ones — never discussed himself or 
others, nor did the eagle eye of blame or envy ever discover 
a suspicion of vanity in him; he met people simply and 
amicably on their own level, and talked to them according 
to the standard of their knowledge, showing justice to all and 
never omitting the calls of friendship and good company, or 
treating any with disdain. In rapid, broken snatches these 
memories returned, and I concluded that ‘the immensity of 
his knowledge does not lie within our scope, his gently 
glowing, noble, spiritual virtue, however, might become the 
common property of every scholar as an embellishment to 
his science, and of all the rest as a substitute for more brilliant 
qualities.’ Much awed I stroked the urn which covered this 
great man’s ashes, and Addison’s too, marked by a small stone 
let into the wall. Practical scholarship and merits self-achieved 
are shown a totally different type of recognition from good 
birth and high position. Addison’s name is a stranger to none 
with some slight knowledge of the minds of good and great 
men, yet he is never known as Secretary of State to George i; 
on the contrary, this position and England obtain a glamour 
from his name, as Biberach does from Wieland’s. I looked 
around in search of the column behind which his friend and 
chief collaborator on the English Spectator stood at his 
funeral, weeping so sorrowfully as he said, ‘Ah, Addison, 
hadst thou not married thou wert alive still.’ That an 
English woman should have made Addison so wretched that 
he no longer cared for life, upset me. I was also led to think 
of Addison’s reflections about this church, as from his stone 
I turned my gaze on the numerous tombs around; so well did 
he express the truth. 


120 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

‘Here lieth the dust of innumerable multitudes: priests 
and soldiers— monks and kings— beauty and strength. When 
I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy 
dies in me. When I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every 

inordinate desire goes out.’ . . .^ 

Full of like thoughts I came to Lord Chatham’s splendid 
tomb which the nation consecrated to his memory, enjoining 
its grandsons, and those still alive to-day, to remember this 
great man with gratitude and reverence; the inscription 
ends with the words, ‘That the gloiy and welfare of England 
have attained such heights through his spirit and laws, as 
never was before and never will be again.’ It stands isolated 
beneath an arch and can be seen by all. Neptune sadly sits 
on the seashore, looking towards Chatham’s statue, placed 
on an eminence. Britannia is weeping on one side, and the 
spirit of the motherland hands the noble patriot a crown. 

Straightway from this monument we made for the 
parliament chambers, where Lord Chatham displayed the 
last glorious uses of his rhetoric for the good of England and 
America, after long, vain counsels and fruitless warning. I 
had them show me the spot where the great man of virtue 
swooned away, exhausted by his zeal and suffering. Though 
people may only have a limited conception of the English 
Parliament, yet they will be forced to look about them in 
pensive, solemn frame of mind. 

The chamber of the Upper House is lofty and vaulted, 
beneath the windows running round the top are tapestries 
representing the defeat of the invincible Spanish fleet. 
Round the walls and through the middle of the chamber lie 
woolsacks covered with red cloth, where by ancient rite the 
lords are seated instead of on chairs. I sat down for a few 
moments, and my thoughts strayed to the momentous 
affairs of a mighty nation managed there, and to the frequent 
pangs and palpitations which even the best of sovereigns 
must endure upon the throne which I saw before me. I 

^ Sophie quotes more fully, see Spectator Everyman Library, i, No. 26. 


DIARY 


I2I 


noted every spot, and wished that Lyttleton’s, Chatham’s and 
Camden’s spirit might influence those who sat there now. 

In the chamber of the Lower House my mind roamed 
to parliamentary speeches that I had read; and the places 
from which Pitt, Fox, Burke and Sheridan speak, suggested 
to me how often the weal and woe, wrongs and riches of so 
many millions of Britain’s population depend on the will 
and insight of the Commons. These thoughts penetrated 
the now empty hall, and peopled it for me. The simplicity 
of these two important chambers, world-renowned one might 
almost say, touched me too. The green-covered benches 
of the Lower House are so well arranged, that the whole 
five hundred members can hear the speaker’s every word. 

We also saw Westminster Hall, 270 feet in length, and 74 
feet wide, where the plaints and prosecutions against the 
peers of the realm are heard; where the Duchess of Kingston 
had to appear a hundred years ago on a charge of bigamy. 
The hall is entirely Gothic, surprisingly high, has no pillars, 
and is ornamented on both sides near the roof with curious 
wood-work. 

I did not spend long at table as I had a great deal to write, 
and also wanted to go and see the performance of Lessing’s 
comedy, Minna von Barnhelm, called the ‘Baroness of Bruchsal’ 
by the translator— I cannot think why. 

On the whole it was excellently acted; Minna by Miss 
Farren, the Major by Palmer, and Just by Edward. The 
house was full too, and a number of spectators, particularly 
men, wept at the fine traits with which Lessing’s noble mind 
imbued his characters. In the extract from the criticism 
Lessing is called Germany’s favourite and her Shakespeare. 
Johnstone, the translator, also admits ‘that he could not give 
a perfect rendering of Lessing’s untranslatable wit, delicacy 
and lingual beauty.’ But in addition they said ‘that the 
matter of this comedy was too thin and meagre for the 
English theatre, though it has an emotional appeal and 
generous warmth enlivening every scene and preventing 


122 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

tedium.’ Might one not add, ‘What more do you want?’ 
Between Minna and the epilogue I thought of the numerous 
experiences I had had to-day — at Ashton Lever’s all the 
moods and miracles of nature — at Westminster the images of 
so many dead, at peace now that their parts are played — 
while the Houses of Parliament suggested the kind of scene 
which law and liberty, patriotism, noble sentiment, ambition, 
envy, petulance and fraud might lead to; where, as at the 
theatre, the public listens, watches — and does the paying! 
The epilogue, reckoned for the people, was in the popular 
vein. For a French dancing-master and an Italian singer 
were burlesqued. A good, conservative old Englishman was 
plagued by his wife into giving his daughter a fashionable 
education, which resulted in an exaggerated caricature of 
these two, causing much amusement in the gallery. 

When, however, at the end of the play I wanted to see the 
crowd disperse, there was no cab or chair left in the heavy 
rain; so I decided to hurry along, keeping to the houses, as 
the streets are so well lit— for it was quite impossible for me 
to loiter outside the theatre with the crowd of light women, 
although they were all better dressed than I, and looked 
extremely pretty. But I had hardly gone a hundred yards 
when the rain came down in torrents, so that I was obliged 
to shelter in a doorway, from where my companions hailed 
all the passing cabs. At last, after a long wait, we found an 
empty chair at the end of the Haymarket — so I had the 
opportunity of discovering that such conveyance in London 
is very rapid and efficient, though my black hat with the 
embroidered crape was ruined, and I had to get a new one. 

The scenery is excellently painted, a T'oom with prints 
stood out particularly, and the actresses’ costumes seem more 
refined than at the French theatre. 


Sept, g 

At Wedgwood’s to-day I saw a thousand lovely forms and 
images; vases, tea-things, statuettes, medallions, seals, table- 


DIARY 


123 


ware and a service on which pictures of the finest villas and 
gardens of the last three reigns were painted; were I a 
traveller of means this would have accompanied me home to 
Germany. ‘That the Briton is born for all that is noble,’ is a 
true, not a biased, statement. For so soon as his spirit is 
untrammelled, and he acts independently, his is the path to 
greatness, simplicity and beauty in all things. 

This ware certainly does not compare in splendour or 
ornateness with the Sevres manufacture; but it seems to me 
that just that moderation in the gilding and other decoration 
lends a pleasing touch to the articles of Wedgwood fabrica- 
tion. The blackish-brown mass from which the seals and 
medallions are made looks like extremely fine-grained basalt. 
I bought a seal, really expressive of my present mood and 
past fortune; namely, a female figure leaning on a ruined 
pillar, looking back along the road she had come; and 
Carl took one equally adapted to his views and years— 
Hope resting on an anchor. 

It was a curious chance which took us straight from the 
centre of such delicately fashioned stone ware to the 
magnificent great stone pile of St. Paul’s Cathedral. At 
first sight one cannot help wishing that Parliament would 
purchase a number of the surrounding houses and have 
them broken up so that the splendid pile might appear in all 
its dignity. For, although a square has been railed off all 
round, yet both it and the neighbouring streets are still too 
narrow. Anyone fond of architecture and able to appreciate 
great ideas must inevitably regard this church with real 
pleasure and admiration, reverently mindful of the name of 
Christopher Wren. I was glad the great man had the good 
fortune, unusual in the case of such vast buildings, to see his 
work completed. For it took thirty-seven years after its 
inception to carry out. Had as many Englishmen travelled 
through Italy and Greece as is now the case, the world would 
have seen a finer monument of his genius; for he would have 
built entirely in the lofty spirit of Greek architecture. His 


124 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

noble plan was quite ready, but the dean and chapter 
disapproved of it and refused to allow their church to have 
any pagan form; so Wren was obliged to build in the shape 
of a cross. His sketches were preserved though and engraved, 
and bear witness to his feeling for the magnitude and beauty 
of architecture, and to the fact that in this temple London 
might have possessed just as great a masterpiece of architec- 
ture as Paris in the Louvre colonnade. 

The prejudice of the ignorant canons must have proved 
just as painful to the estimable man as the praise of the 
discerning Bernini was flattering to the inventor of the 
colonnade. Every epoch and estate, however, produces 
examples of the ignorance of the governing classes at the 
expense of all that is noble, good and great. 

It is said that excavations from the square of St. Paul’s 
Cathedral supply evidence that the Romans inhabited 
London prior to the ancient Britons, for beneath Anglo- 
Saxon burials of more recent date were found remains of 
ancient Britons on top of Roman urns. A description with 
notes by the finder would certainly be interesting. I should 
like to hear his opinion of the interior on hearing that the 
impression it left was one of ‘an enormous void, all the more 
striking after the wealth of external decoration.’ He can 
hardly have desired it thus, besides which, ‘that Britons can 
leave a great design incomplete,’ is an unpleasant reflection. 
I hasten to add that this feeling of dislike was very different 
from my grief at the desecration of the Louvre colonnade. 
And it occurred to me that I was being lightly chastised for my 
implicit faith in British greatness— for this noble pile was the 
object of so much pettiness: as, for instance, when London’s 
great artists were desirous of presenting it with masterpieces 
by their own hand as a voluntary contribution, and the bishop 
obstinately refused to give his sanction. On another occasion 
the citizens of London wished to erect the monument 
dedicated to the Earl of Chatham here, and the ministry in 
power at the time was small-minded enough to envy the 


DIARY 


125 


deserving man this glorious position and prevented the 
king’s permission, not realising that Chatham’s dust would 
cast eternal rays of true renown, no matter where its 
destination, even from out its dark recess in Westminster, 
radiant through future generations. Their reverence for 
the great man would have placed them in a favourable light 
and caused the nation to exclaim, ‘Who true virtue loveth, 
himself must virtue cherish.’ 

Partitioned off by a screen of dark, carved wood, the choir 
in which services are held, offends the eye by the strong 
disparity of its colour and form with the height, vastness and 
strong light of the nave. For a lack of harmony is always 
regrettable both in the deeds of great men and the con- 
stituents of great works. 

Our guide wanted to give us examples of the curious echo 
which repeats things word for word, and the English which 
he called out resounded quite distinctly, but when one of us, 
standing on the allotted spot, recited some German phrases, 
the echo remained silent — since the boy hidden aloft could 
not imitate them. 

I very much wanted to climb to the gallery round the 
cupola, just so as to inspect various parts of the architecture 
of this temple more closely, and secondly, to view London 
and the Thames from there; but I was told that there were 
five hundred and thirty-four steps to mount, and that then 
nothing was visible but mist enveloping the city. So I did 
not trouble. 

Queen Anne’s statue, standing on the square in front of 
the church, demonstrates the fact that movement can make 
a surfeit of ornament on a living person just bearable, while 
a statue in a fish-bone skirt looks particularly hideous; its 
beauty must consist in harmony, dignity and simplicity. 
For the crown and the many carved insignia render this 
statue all the more obnoxious. Rain and coal-smoke combine 
in their effects on large portions of the edifice, the former 
by keeping the patches which it strikes quite white, and 


126 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

wearing it away somewhat, while the latter coats it with 
black crust, making it difficult to distinguish some of the 
finest statuary. 

From the magnihcenf but empty Paul’s Cathedral we 
made our way to the Tower, a kind of citadel, whose fortifica- 
tions are very dilapidated. First, we were conducted to the 
wild beasts’ section, whose boxes seem to be arranged in 
circular formation. There are lions, leopards, tigers, wolves 
and hyenas to be seen. Since their cages are large and light, 
and the railings fairly broad, one can get perfectly acquainted 
with them. I thought the lions seemed to pace up and down 
with a kind of resignation to their fate, while the handsome 
leopard watched us wild with inward fury. The movements 
of the hyenas were the most impassioned and persevering— 
it is indeed an ugly, fearful and revolting animal. The tigers 
appear to combine craft with anger, and they walked to and 
fro with an air of searching for an exit and thoughts of 
escape, though they always kept to the bar where it was 
light. The hyena ran round restlessly and ceaselessly. The 
tigers and leopards have lovely pelts and are finely coloured; 
yet the sad thought occurred to me that these animals so 
often display the pleasant tempting side in the fine marking 
and colouring of their pelts, while their eyes, the shape of 
their head and jowls, clearly evince the fearfulness of their 
nature. Mankind, far more cruel, wears a pleasant expres- 
sion of piety and hides his real character. Young bears, 
both white and black, were playing together. Eagles were 
perched sorrowfully beneath the trees, fastened to thongs, 
looking to the sun and airy regions above. I was sorry for 
them, just as it would hurt me to see a fine young man 
born with good intellect condemned by fate to low, servile 
work. 

The all-black tiger, which Mr. Hastings brought with him 
from the East Indies, is most handsome, but his tigery glance 
all the more horrible. Monkeys I always loathed when I 
saw them, even though I realise that, like hyenas, they belong 


DIARY 


127 


to creation: but I hate and despise them since the story of 
Professor Naheuss’ family in Amsterdam, where a monkey 
murdered one child and teased the other silly; the pregnant 
wife died of fright, and the husband of grief. It saddens me 
to think that these animal species have parallel characters 
amongst mankind, from which fact people try to deduce 
the laws of unity in the whole. 

I gladly left these surroundings, though I was pleased to 
have seen such rare beasts; but I wanted to be rid of the 
melancholy impressions which they and their affinities had 
given me. I was glad to find that the keeper’s features bore 
no trace of wildness, as the thought of this office had led me 
to fear. 

Now a beef-eater came and conducted us over a big bridge 
built across the moat and leading into the interior of the fort. 
These people’s costume is very splendid — of scarlet and blue 
velvet with gold, in form as seen on sentries stationed at the 
lists in pictures of old tourneys. This free entrance into the 
Tower should endear his motherland to every Englishman, 
as thus, even for State prisoners, human rights are respected. 
This seems to me the most outstanding difference between 
London and Paris; the foreigner is shown the Tower, while 
he dare’ not even look at the Bastille. Here prisoners still 
enjoy hope and a sight of the heavens and mankind, there, 
only fear and anguish. 

We entered the room containing old weapons and guns, 
amongst which the combination of a shield with the barrel 
of a pistol struck me most; for the pistol was fixed at the 
protuberance of the shield, to which the ancients often 
fastened long iron spikes, and the man aimed through a 
small aperture and then fired. There are also some richly 
worked, very large and uncommonly heavy ancient shields 
there. 

Having seen all this, the sword used to decapitate Anne 
Boleyn is shown; and almost at the same moment a green 
curtain is raised, behind which a picture of her daughter. 


128 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Queen Elizabeth, stands next to the stuffed horse ridden 
by her, when once she herself commanded her army. The 
picture shows her dress on that occasion, made of thick silk, 
since faded, but still embroidered in silver like a kind of 
armour. A page is holding her white palfrey, on which saddle 
and arms are laid, and is offering her a helmet with the 
other hand. 

From this room we arrived in the large hall in which 
stand two rows of stuffed horses with their riders, some in 
tournament array, some in battle armour with closed and 
open visor. It is a fine sight, and looks very much more war- 
like than the modern uniform. 

The work of the armourers at that time, judging from much 
of the armour, is worthy of the greatest admiration, and 
whoever knows the history of England and its civil and 
foreign wars will not remain indifferent to the sight and 
name of this or that king or general. After this we were 
shown weapons captured from the Spaniards, with the chains 
spoiled by England when she destroyed their invincible 
fleet, aided by a favourable storm. Then, in the armoury, 
we saw rifles for eighty thousand men, carefully hung up 
to form all kinds of patterns on the walls, and only placed 
in order in the centre of the rooms, I might say almost 
with solemnity and simple dignity. I liked the pride with 
which the keeper showed the cannons captured from Spain 
and France; he especially dwelt with melancholy praise on 
those which General Wolfe gained at Quebec. Finer metal 
cannons than the Spanish are not to be seen. 

The houses and rooms where Gordon and Lawrence the 
American were imprisoned, meant nothing to me; and during 
that narrative I mounted the Tower Hill, called the Bloody 
Hill, recalling a number of sad events in English history. 
The tower standing in the centre which gives its name to the 
whole, no longer looks as it did in the time of William the 
Conqueror, when it was built, and I am inclined to think 
that the building in which the royal treasure is preserved. 


DIARY 


129 


descends rather from those times, as dark, narrow passages 
lead to the vault, where a woman opens an old smoky cup- 
board by the light of two tallow candles, shows crowns and 
sceptres, and really by her demeanour and the way she has 
of handling the things, turning them round and putting 
them back again, shows a disdain of these tokens of might 
and power to which one inevitably succumbs. Even the 
gold loses the power to impress which it usually possesses; 
for it seems impossible that a woman, furthermore so ungainly 
in appearance, should be put in charge of pure gold and all 
that a crown implies. We all found it shocking. 

By the feeble light thrown by the candles on to the narrow 
bars, I noticed another door which appeared to lead still 
farther into the vaults. The whole was so dreary and eerie 
that I was reminded of the drawing of a nobleman and the 
poem by Miss Williams, where the door, closed since time 
immemorial, was illustrated, and the murder of Edward v 
and his young brother, the Duke of York, so beautifully, so 
loftily portrayed, when their cruel and ambitious uncle, 
Richard iii, found an archbishop to deliver the two royal 
children into his hands by entering Westminster Abbey, 
whither the widowed queen had fled with her younger son, in 
a bishop’s pastoral habit, that confidence-inspiring garment, 
and persuaded this good mother to confide her second son 
to him.— whereupon Richard had both killed in the Tower. 
Beauty, religion and innocence were evidently of no avail 
in those times; for Richard, deformed by nature, beside his 
crown, found accomplices in the murder of these brothers, 
his nephews. These thoughts stimulated a number of 
others from English history— the idea that in this building 
lions, tigers and hyenas are prevented from doing harm with 
the aid of bars, wood and stone, and, on the other side, 
innocent, virtuous, truthful, good people were put into 
dungeons far more terrible than these animals’ cages, and 
that neither laws nor religion could prevent evil, cruelty and 
deceit from bringing so many noble fellow-humans hither 

I 


130 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

as their sacrifice. The Tower was hateful to me: the cement 
of the floors seemed almost to be bound with innocent blood. 
Perchance I had crossed the stones which paved Jane Grey’s 
path to the block and axe— I detested it all— I felt real pain 
in my heart. The centuries which have flowed across these 
events could not diminish the impression or the historical 
truth of such black deeds; and I shuddered at England’s 
daemon. For as long as ambition reigned over him, his wings 
were dipped in the blood of the great — and now it is said 
that they are gilt, he soars indifferently over the life of the 
small, hangs many hundreds in his own country for the sake 
of a few shillings— and in India, to gain rupees, lets millions 
die. Alas, why did not Alfred the Great become guardian 
of his people! Welfare and knowledge would have thrived 
and flourished under him. I longed to get away from the 
Tower, but the yeoman or tower-sentry did not stop until 
we had left the hill for a lower path to see— for the price of 
6d.— the shellwork of some honest lass, who by this means 
helps to feed her poor mother’s many children. This thought 
in itself would have lent beauty to the work, had it not been 
so pretty and varied in any case. It is hard to know which 
to admire more — the charm of thousands of shells or the 
industry with which the good creature composes lovely 
buildings, half-relief pictures, birds and flowers. I recovered 
somewhat from the melancholy of my previous mood, by 
contemplating the wealth of nature and the industry of this 
loyal daughter and sister. 

Miss Phillips is very modest and simple with all this. 
The inscription on the wall, where she applied a ground of 
black shells on which she announced in white ones that there 
was something to see, we thought a clever invention. I had 
grown calmer now, though had not the courage to enter the 
Tower church where so many beheaded noblemen lie buried. 

The paper which we perused at table proved that, as I 
had prophesied, we had lost a really special pleasure: for we 
missed the breakfast given by the Queen of England to the 


DIARY 


13 ^ 

Duchess of Milan at Kew, when the estimable Charlotte of 
Great Britain quite played the English housewife, preparing 
tea herself and looking to the guests. As chance will not 
often bring two such princesses together, loved by all for 
their wisdom and virtue, this sight would have been much 
after my own heart — although the memory that your father 
had addressed the Duchess in Pressburg in a time full of 
security and hope, and that I, robbed of all deserts, was 
seeing her now in London, would have upset me greatly. 
Were good people to know why I forewent this noble 
pleasure, they would once more marvel at the power of 
trifles. 

Towards evening we drove to the play at Sadler’s Wells, 
and were held up on the road by what was to us the strange 
apparition of a Moorish funeral. The black pall-bearers and 
mourners, then the more distant relatives and friends with 
white cravats, and some thirty or more black or brownish- 
yellow women following in couples, wearing white cambric 
caps, passing our coach, seemed like a play to us. I had seen 
many a Moor with a look of sadness on his face, though it 
always seemed tinged with bitterness to me, as if he mourned 
his fate amongst the whites and hated their unjust severity. 
This time too they were sad, but gently so; as are sympathy 
and pity for the sorrow of a neighbour. The cruel pride of 
the complacent European will one day realise too late that 
the common Creator laid an immortal soul and human 
feelings in the black breast, and that the thick lips also called 
to Him and could speak of love and friendship. Just, good 
Europeans have often noticed acts of generosity and kindness 
in this race, segregated by its colour, which show that in the 
eye of the Omniscient and All-righteous they must count 
for quite as much as the best of us. 

We passed through some fine streets, as yet unknown to 
us, especially near the Duke of Bedford’s palace situated in 
Bloomsbury Square. He is quite a young man of whom the 
nation entertains great hopes, since, from a youth upwards 


132 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

even travelling abroad, he has displayed the noblest char- 
acter. His wards said that they were very eager for this 
reason to increase his large income, as he would certainly 
make good use of it, and they hope to hand one hundred 
thousand pounds sterling over to him. All this keeps the 
Duke of Bedford’s male friends busy; the women, however, 
talk of his good looks, and on the 8th the paper reported 
that since his return modistes had twice the work; all 
observers agree in the statement that England possesses 
more handsome men than beautiful women, so that the 
figures are estimated at hve fine males to three of our own 
sex. 

We also passed shops where animals were for sale, which 
goods were both novel to us and comical. Peacocks were 
placed on pretty perches, bright cages with songsters hanging 
in between; there were cases of monkeys, large bird-cages 
containing turtle-doves, others with fine domestic fowls; 
lap-dogs of every type followed in nicely padded kennels; 
pointers lay at the bottom on leads, and by their side baskets 
of all kinds of game— all grouped so artistically that the 
whole made a charming picture. We noticed also the 
famous monument to the Great Fire, 1666; it is beautiful, 
colossal, built on the model of Trajan’s Column in Rome, 
which also has a spiral staircase leading up to the extreme 
summit. But the English architect in his reflections on the 
art of the ancients forgot to discover how they made their 
buildings endure for thousands of years, for the pillar 
threatens to collapse and should be removed. With like 
views and discussions we arrived at the northern end of the 
town, at the playhouse dedicated to the small middle-class, 
Sadler’s Wells. This district is very lovely: large meadows 
alive with herds of excellent cows; lakes with trees in front 
of the house itself, numerous avenues with delightful tables 
and benches for visitors, under trees hung with tiny lamps. 
In the open temple lower-class lasses, sailors and other 
young people were dancing. We were astonished at the 


DIARY 


133 

handsome building and illumination of the hall, consisting of 
some hundred splendid Argand lamps which were bright as 
sunlight, and proved at the same time that such lamps do 
not smoke one little bit. 

I he scenes in the pit and boxes we found as strange as 
the ten-fold comedy itself. In the pit there is a shelf running 
along the back of the seats on which the occupants order 
bottles of wine, glasses, ham, cold chops and pasties to be 
placed, which they consume with their wives and children, 
partaking while they watch the play. The front seats of the 
boxes are just the same. In three hours we witnessed nine 
kinds of stage craft. First, a comedy, then a ballet, followed 
by a rope-walker, after this a pantomime, next some 
balancing tricks, an operette, and the most miraculous feats 
by a strong man; another comedy, and finally a second 
operette. All the decorations were exceedingly well painted, 
the dresses very fine and the music good. The producers 
go to great expense and yet always make fifteen to twenty 
thousand guilders profit. The box next to ours was occupied 
by eight so-called light girls, all with fine, blooming figures, 
well dressed and true to their name, the most obvious gaiety 
in their eyes and faces. Not one of them looked older than 
twenty, and everyone so made that the best father or husband 
would be proud of having a virtuous daughter or wife with 
such stature and good features. We were sorry to think that 
Mr. Archenholz had counted fifty thousand of these surely 
unhappy creatures. On our homeward path we saw the 
crowd of lamps along the roads, as Sadler’s Wells lies on 
higher ground, and admired the splendid lighting of the city 
and its squares; but it was almost eleven o’clock before we 
reached home. 


Sunday, Sept. 10 

Indeed the Lord’s day in London is beautifully celebrated. 
Great and small keep it in peace and quiet. No other 
coaches are heard except those driving to church; for no 


134 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

calls are made or received at all. We went to a Quaker 
meeting, where we found a large congregation assembled m 
a big hall, lit from the dome: all were modestly clad; all 
with thoughtful faces! We ladies were led in friendly fashion 
to the women’s side and the gentlemen to the men’s. All sat 
quiet and solemn without books or motion. After half an 
hour a young man, of fine physique, rose, and in grave 
touching accents spoke of the causes which should make 
good Christians despise the world. Everyone listened 
attentively; quietly he resumed his seat, and shortly after, 
exchanging a gentle but friendly handshake as they met one 
another, they left for home. 

I paid a visit to a compatriot from Biberach of the narne of 
Haas, just as expert a confectioner as his brother is physicist. 

I saw excellent sand work there, which he has actually hung 
up as a picture in his room, nor does he meiely make 
inventions in this craft, but copies the mannerism of the 
greatest artists. I noticed one of Angelika s fine pictures 
there, excellently executed; and a delightful allegory which 
he exhibited for dessert at a banquet, when the city of London 
treated the minister Pitt. Idea and execution were equally 
good: London in the background, then a part of the 
magnificent Thames, in the middle the Guild of Merchants 
Hall, on one side people of all nations of the globe with 
whom they are trading, on the other, Pitt with England’s 
genius pointing out to him the bust of his father and West- 
minster Abbey, where the nation erected a monument to his 
memory. The spirit’s expression and that of some of the 
London citizens seem to say to Mr. Pitt, ‘We hope that you 
too will deserve a monument of gratitude and blessing.’ 
The industrious artist is immensely pleased at the plan to 
make the lid of a cabinet in the new palace at Windsor of 
this work. He employs one of his younger brothers as 
apprentice; and I, pleased to find such clever Swabians here, 
proposed to him to read our great compatriot Wieland’s 
early works, especially the Agathon, which contains so many 


DIARY 


135 

charming sketches, and to carry out some of these in his own 
pictures. Everyone would be glad to hear that a great poet 
of his native land had written Agathon’s story, and that he, 
out of affection for him, wished to present it in picture form! 

While I talked of Wieland to the good man, I noticed a 
house on the opposite side from which a nice young woman 
had been watching me intently, as I thought. I told Mr. Haas, 
and heard that they were really looking out for me, for this 
rich merchant, living on the capital he had amassed, was a 
German, and he believed a relation of my late mother’s, 
Heinzelmann by name, and that he would be very glad to 
see me. The good man was an invalid and confined to his 
chair. He had two daughters, one married to Count 
Schulenburg, who had left her widowed at the end of a 
year. I liked the idea of finding a cousin in London, and I 
told Mr. Haas that I should certainly visit the family. 
That to-day, however, I had to hurry home, as we wanted 
to see the royal gardens at Kensington, his late Majesty’s 
favourite resort, before lunch. 

My whole soul was gladdened at the beauty and peace I 
found there: I strengthened myself against sorrows which 
chance might have in store for me; rejoiced that I was 
incapable of hurting anyone; that my soul was still pure 
enough to enable me, at the sight of a clear open sky and 
beneficent beauty, to feel all the pleasure needed to make one 
overlook lies and malice, pardon all things and experience 
that joy which none can steal from mankind. In every other 
country Kensington would be taken for a nice town; but the 
propinquity of mighty London is reason enough for it to be 
considered a lovely village full of wealthy people. 

Above the gates of the fore-court to a really entrancing 
country-house we read the inscription, ‘Boarding School for 
Young Ladies,’ and were glad to think that the children not 
only enjoyed good air here in Nature’s arms, but also had 
before them every form of beauty in landscape, architecture 
and artistic gardens. When, however, we approached the 


136 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

garden gate, the entire school of dear, lovely creatures 
passed by us on return from their walk. There were some 
twenty of these flowering graces; beautiful features, excellent 
figures, naturally curly hair, unpowdered, on lily-white 
brows and necks — simple white uniform, light, cheerful 
gait— showed me a generation of English girls such as 
Mme. du Bocage saw twenty-eight years ago and I had 
missed till now. Many other people were strolling in the 
spacious gardens, daily open to all, by the King s good 
grace. Here one may wander between tall trees and lovely 
shrubs, or by the pond over hilly ground, or across meadows, 
book in hand, towards a resting-place where charming 
vistas of near and distant verdure, or flower-beds alternate 
with the instructive pleasure of reading. Many inhabitants 
of London who have no country-seats of their own, in summer 
move into Kensington houses for the sake of the good air, 
the gardens and the fine prospect. 

We returned by Hyde Park, known in Germany from 
English novels and duels. It is, however, a large pleasure- 
garden, situated between London and Kensington; in which 
people drive, ride or promenade. The high road runs along 
its boundaries, and we were pleased to see all classes and 
kinds of Londoners. 

Our evening passed at physical experiments, which most 
certainly form part of divine service, showing us as they do 
the inner qualities of being, and so leading a sensitive soul 
to increased and rational reverence for its Creator. 

Sept. II 

A Mile. Vauce of Brussels had come to London with her 
niece to consult Count Cagliostro regarding the little girl’s 
health. She had taken a room in our establishment, and while 
showing us the attractive designs she composed of dried 
moss and flowers, we heard all about Cagliostro’s home and 
interviews. I had some letters to deliver to him from my 
dear friends the Sarasins of Bale, and could thus look forward 


DIARY 


137 


to meeting him, whom I admit intrigued me not a little, 
since his life, activities, friends and destiny had made him 
so remarkable. A very sensible woman who had long been 
sufifering from ill-health accompanied us, so as to get to know 
his method of treating sickness. He lives in Knightsbridge, 
one of London’s outermost suburbs, in a new well-equipped 
house, with large tracts of meadow-land and low, lopped 
trees beside a winding stream in front of it. We had to wait 
a few moments until he had read some of his friend’s letters — 
when all at once the door opened and a large elaborately- 
clad Moor signed to us to alight. The house with its solitary 
situation, the district, and this unusually big black domestic 
were reminiscent of enchanted castles. ‘May the heavens 
see us safely back!’ I muttered, as I stepped down from the 
carriage. The Moor led the way and we followed, suspicious 
and expectant. The count received us at the door. I found 
him exactly like his portrait. He made some polite remarks 
to me concerning my friends the Sarasins. My eye rested 
on a tall, emaciated man dressed in black, with fair, closely- 
cropped hair, a pale face and strangely expressive dull blue 
eyes. Cagliostro asked me quickly, ‘Do you know this man?’ 
‘No,’ I said, ‘it is the first time I have seen him.’ ‘How does 
he strike you?’ I thought this question a little strange, but 
so was the man himself. So I cast another look at the stranger 
and said, ‘He has personality, though I do not think it is a 
bad one.’ ‘To what religion do you belong?’ This question 
surprised me even more than the previous one, as it seemed 
more peculiar than ever. But the thought that I was at 
Cagliostro’s calmed and reassured me. So I replied, ‘I am 
Protestant.’ ‘Lucky for you! as this is Lord George Gordon, 
who cannot abide Catholics. You would not have been 
allowed to stay here another minute.’ 

This explanation amused me intensely, for I had to laugh 
at the tricks of a fortune which contrived for an Asiatic 
charlatan to introduce an English fanatic to a German 
novelist— and in any case I was glad to see this Lord Gordon, 


138 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

whose fame was both tragic and ridiculous, for myself. We 
seated ourselves, spoke of Sarasin, asked after the countess, 
who finally appeared, was very courteous, a paragon of a 
really pretty, virtuous and ever-smiling wife. I thought 
never to have seen so white a breast, neck and hands. She 
spoke affectionately of Sarasin, and with rapture of her 
French friends . . . but with horror and dread of the Bastille, 
French criminal law and the treatment they endured in 
France. The count’s words were, ‘As long as I was spending 
100,000 pounds in France, no one asked me where they 
came from. Now when I demand all that they have robbed 
from me, I am asked to prove how I make my money.’ 
Mr. Thilorier, his solicitor in Paris, is with him too, and from 
here directs proceedings against Mr. de Launay, who is 
painted very black: as are likewise the consequences of 
Mr. de B.’s injured pride, for he avenged himself on one of 
Cardinal Rohan’s caustic remarks with all the power 
attaching to his position. 

Gagliostro found an enemy awaiting him over here in the 
form of a news reporter who came to him, or so he tells, with 
a confederate the day after his arrival, saying, ‘You are a 
wealthy man and have great resources; present us with this 
sum of which we are in great need, and we will write for 
you: if not, we are your foes.’ Gagliostro refused them the 
money, and they do in fact write the most futile rubbish 
daily. 

A Count Zenobia of Venice, and two Englishmen, paid a 
call, and changed the subject, which had reached an import- 
ant point for me, as the count had discovered from my 
friends, the Sarasins’, letter, that I had written a little on 
education, and his opinion was, ‘That education never 
altered people: they always stayed as they were born.’ — He 
looks upon the different religions as so many different systems 
of education, but likes the Catholics least, because their 
clergy are too powerful, and maltreat humanity and nature 
in sundry different ways. His fate in France has made him 


DIARY 


139 


morbid. He does not go out. ‘Il l had not that dear creature, 
my wife, 1 should go and live with the wild beasts of the 
jungle, certain of finding friends amongst them.’ 

He did not maintain any part of the discussion steadily. 

1 decided that my Swiss and Alsatian friends were attached 
to this man because his really good medicaments had restored 
their lost health to them, and others besides, naturally filling 
their honest hearts with gratitude. They also saw him do 
good to the poor (just as they, too, support all those to whom 
they can be of help), and this formed a bond of affection 
between them, the necessary basis of all friendship. 

His theories that the Catholic religion, by erecting and 
countenancing monasteries, is acting against nature’s laws, 
must have found varied interpretation amongst genial folk 
in France. And since he prepares medicines to prolong our 
years above the usual figure, with attendant good health, 
which many consider the equivalent of a good time, it was 
inevitable that he should be popular in Paris. The English 
do not believe in such tonics, and the numerous suicides from 
trifling causes, the cool, unimpassioned way young thieves 
are watched dying on the gallows, seem to indicate that the 
cause lies in the national character, for amongst those who 
waste their guineas in such devious way little store is laid 
by life, and so such prescriptions do not trouble them, nor 
do they particularly seek out the owner of the mystery. In 
the beginning he was invited by the Prince of Wales and other 
prominent people, as his long imprisonment, the small shreds 
of his story, and the public pardon offered by Parliament, all 
pleaded for him to a nation generous by birth. But they did 
not seek him long, and now he never leaves the house himself. 
We were invited to lunch the next day, and hurried home, as 
we had an hour’s drive before us. 

During the afternoon we were taken to the mechanic and 
musician. Merlin v. Liittich, to see and hear his pretty, but 
curious, inventions: for he has tuned a grand-piano to sound 
as if all the instruments were invisibly emerging from it. The 


140 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

work and labour expended on this achievement call for 
respect, although I should consider myself unfortunate if I 
had to listen to it daily! Though a man discovered in a 
spacious room with the evidence of his labour and industry 
all about him, in himself commands admiration. The easily 
movable chairs for gouty people and other invalids, to whom 
bed is a burden and an added affliction, were objects of 
double interest to me, as I imagined they would alleviate the 
patients’ suffering and lessen the ineffectual toil of the healthy 
on their behalf Neat little writing- reading- or working- 
tables, combined with charming, soft-toned pianos, also 
earned my whole-hearted approval; I hoped they might be 
presented by kindly fathers, a brother, uncle, or generous 
husband to a daughter, sister, or quiet but busy wife, for 
their own private and allotted rooms. Others with the piano 
concealed, and clever desks with lights attached for quartettes, 
set up in less than three minutes, which, if not required for 
music, might be converted into a nice piece of furniture for 
playing chess. A tea-table, where the housewife can open 
and close the cock of the tea-urn with her feet and rotate the 
table-disk to pour out the cups, and thus send tea and sugar 
the round. Balances for weighing oneself and anything else: 
and all so elegant and simple. I next came upon the inven- 
tion mentioned in Switzerland: an arrangement whereby the 
servants should know immediately the bell rang in their 
master’s room what was required, by means of a list fastened 
to the latter’s bell similar to a barometer, registering the 
orders which so constantly recur — water, broth, coffee, 
chocolate and the like. Now since whoever pulls the bell 
simultaneously moves the pencil connected with the list and 
fastened in the servants’ room, so this, the sound of the small 
bell, announces the employer’s requests to the servants— all 
of which is a great saving for the staff and results in rapid 
service, as English kitchens are in the basement with the 
servants’ quarters. At this moment Mr. Merlin and the 
respected scholar Hanway seemed to me equally estimable, as 


DIARY 


141 

the former employed a part of his genius for the relief of 
servants, while the latter devoted his oratory to the good of 
the little boy sweeps. 1 was also grateful to the saddler who 
invented padded cushions for the back of coaches, so that the 
postillions should have to suffer less from the jolting on the 
paving-stones. 

The model for Apollo’s temple which the man showed us 
is an example of inventiveness, industry and good taste, 
coupled with an understanding for the infinite thirst for 
pleasure of the rich. Mr. Merlin is working on a room where 
Apollo is to sit enthroned, play his lyre, and make a gesture 
meanwhile, by which a complete melody will be heard, 
though no instrument is visible. Apollo plays the gently 
melting Adagio of the piece alone upon his lyre, without 
accompaniment from the other instruments, and machines, 
which appear dressed as waiters and waitresses, bring in any 
refreshments requested; thirty people can be present at a 
time, and each performance is long enough for them either 
to breakfast or lunch. He hopes by the coming spring to have 
the whole thing ready for presentation, and has invited us to 
come again. His inventions in pianoforte and other instru- 
ments are innumerable, and though not all equally perfect 
and pleasing, most of them are excellent. 

We strolled up and down lovely Oxford Street this evening, 
for some goods look more attractive by artificial light. Just 
imagine, dear children, a street taking half an hour to cover 
from end to end, with double rows of brightly shining lamps, 
in the middle of which stands an equally long row of beauti- 
fully lacquered coaches, and on either side of these there is 
room for two coaches to pass one another; and the pavement, 
inlaid with flag-stones, can stand six people deep and allows 
one to gaze at the splendidly lit shop fronts in comfort. First 
one passes a watchmaker’s, then a silk or fan store, now a 
silversmith’s, a china or glass shop. The spirit booths are 
particularly tempting, for the English are in any case fond 
of strong drink. Here crystal flasks of every shape and form 


142 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

are exhibited." each one has a light behind it which makes 
all the different coloured spirits sparkle. Just as alluring 
are the confectioners and fruiterers, where, behind the 
handsome glass windows, pyramids of pineapples, figs, 
grapes, oranges and all manner of fruits are on show. We 
inquired the price of a fine pineapple, and did not think it 
too dear at 6s., or 3 fl. Most of all we admired a stall with 
Argand and other lamps, situated in a corner-house, and 
forming a really dazzling spectacle; every variety of lamp, 
crystal, lacquer and metal ones, silver and brass in every 
possible shade; large and small lamps arranged so artistically 
and so beautifully lit, that each one was visible as in broad 
daylight. There were reflecting lamps inside, which in- 
tensified the glare to such an extent that my eye could scarce 
stand it a moment: large pewter oil-vessels, gleaming like 
silver, were ranged there, and oil of every description, so 
that the lamp and the oil can be bought and taken home 
together if one likes, the oil in a beautiful glass flask, and the 
wick, too, in a dainty box. The highest lord and humble 
labourer may purchase here lamps of immense beauty and 
price or at a very reasonable figure, and both receive equally 
rapid and courteous attention. I stayed long enough to 
notice this, and was pleased with a system which supplied the 
common need— light— in this spot, whether for guineas or for 
pence, so efficiently. 

Up to eleven o’clock at night there are as many people along 
this street as at Frankfurt during the fair, not to mention 
the eternal stream of coaches. The arrangement of the shops 
in good perspective, with their adjoining living-rooms, makes 
a very pleasant sight. For right through the excellently 
illuminated shop one can see many a charming family-scene 
enacted: some are still at work, others drinking tea, a third 
party is entertaining a friendly visitor; in a fourth parents 
are joking and playing with their children. Such a series of 
tableaux of domestic and busy life is hardly to be met with 
in an hour as I witnessed here. How rapidly I reviewed in 


DIARY 


143 

the course of this evening countless daily tasks of countless 
busy folk. How heartily I desired that every artist craftsman 
and worker who had contributed to the production of this 
mass of works of art might enjoy a quiet supper and find new 
vigour in refreshing sleep. 


Sept. 12 

We left early for Covent Garden to visit Mr. Forster and 
\’iew the fruit and vegetable market, remarkable both for its 
constant fresh supply of fruit, vegetables and flowers, as for 
the order reigning there. We were told that London con- 
sumes annually 2,957,000 bushels of wheaten flour, 100,000 
oxen, 700,000 sheep and lambs, 195,000 calves, 238,000 pigs, 
115,000 bushels of oysters, 14,000,000 mackerel, 16,000,000 
pounds of butter, and 21,000,000 pounds of cheese annually, 
exclusive of game and poultry; that a fat ox costs 20 pounds 
sterling, a sheep 2, a pig 3; that 5s. pays a goose, 3s. a fowl, 2S. 
three pigeons, and is. buys 20 eggs; thus the millions of millions 
necessary for general circulation can be roughly calculated. 
You will laugh, children, when you hear that calves are bled 
so as to keep their meat white; it is a proof, however, of 
the enormous luxury. 140,000,244 quarts of beer, a most 
nourishing beverage, are brewed annually in London. 

This calculation led me to respectful contemplation of the 
peasant’s industrious toil and the earth’s fertility, though I 
was sadly shocked at the immense crowds of people here, for, 
according to Mr. Mercier, a crowd is its own moral corruption. 

An extremely pleasant prospect greeted me as I stood at 
Mr. Forster’s window — first of all looking at the earth’s inner 
treasures before me in his handsome cabinet of nature 
exhibits, causing a delightful sensation of abundance, and 
at the same time down on the great square before the house, 
where I beheld the top surface of all those beneficent herbs 
spread out for our nutriment. The beauties and rarities of 
this cabinet are more than my pen can describe. In fact, 
their arrangement is calculated to please the eye, and yet 


144 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

contains the most marvellous products of the mineral and 
lapidary kingdom. Anyone with an inquiring turn of mind 
must enjoy a visit to London, were it only to see this cabinet. 

I think very highly of Mr. Forster’s learning and respect him 
for the reverence which he shows towards the miracles of 
creation, and for the laudable way in which he strove to 
satisfy this noble passion— partly by his travels all over our 
own Europe and other parts of the globe besides, collecting 
all possible specimens of the works and whims which nature 
conceives and conceals in her womb. He gave me pleasure 
greater than any king could grant, and the good man rejoiced 
at our enjoyment and at the knowledge Carl and his friend 
displayed. 

Mr. Forster comes from Magdeburg, and knows your 
brother’s esteemed patron, the minister von Heinitz. Mr. 
Forster has lived in England a long time now: married a 
charming woman here, but had no children by her, and so 
brought up a nephew, whose views were very much his own, 
and at the age when other youths run after every little 
sensuous amusement, this splendid youngster researches into 
the secrets of the mineral world. He mastered five languages, 
grew into a modest young man whom everybody liked, 
travelled across Spain and Portugal, and in the quarries of 
these countries collected strata and crystallisations whose 
beauties of form and colour provoke surprise and admiration. 
The Messrs. Forster are, in fkct, particularly fortunate in this 
work; it almost seems as though nature were conscious of 
possessing true specialists and admirers here, and has 
invoked a genius of her own to point out the spots where lie 
the greatest treasures of her hidden beauties. 

Carl has obtained permission to go there daily. We women 
admired two large vases besides, which Mrs. Forster has 
composed of shells, compared to which Miss Philipps’ work 
at the Tower is insignificant. 

M. Forster has been warned against the danger of fire, and 
what a pity it would be should his precious collection ever 


DIARY 


145 


suffer such calamity; but he put our minds at rest on this 
point, showing us that the finest and rarest specimens always 
stood in the entrance hall, where they could be saved 
immediately. ‘For,’ as he said, ‘even though I were insured 
for fifty thousand pounds with the fire insurance, that sum 
would by no means replace my losses.’ 

From this temple of nature, and having contemplated the 
beauties of the physical universe, we entered the queen’s 
palace. I was much affected at this change of scene as I 
crossed the threshold of the house inhabited by our German 
Charlotte of Mecklenburg, who is devoted to every moral 
virtue, has all the cares of motherhood and royalty upon her, 
and practises all that is good and kind. 

Oh thou who didst ordain her for a mother and a queen, 
and gavest her a pure soul, grant her for future days those 
things which my own adoring soul asks on her behalf! The 
noble simplicity of the furnishings, the order and neatness, 
were marks of the character of the owner — marks of the wise 
humility upon the throne. 

The library occupies the largest apartment and embraces 
the entire treasure-house of human knowledge. Three rooms 
are given up to it. Two are much larger and finer than the 
Versailles ones. Fine pictures by Van Dyck, a large number 
by Claude Lorrain, Guido Reni, Del Sarto, masterpieces by 
Angelika and some excellent miniatures render these simple 
damask hangings very valuable. 

In a small cabinet off the bedroom are the portraits of the 
fourteen royal children— thus the first waking moments are 
dedicated to this sight and the emotions of true motherhood. 
May theirs be the reward of such tenderness, my heart softly 
murmured. 

In one apartment I saw Raphael’s famous cartoons. 
Above the library is a room which the king, the Prince of 
Wales, the relatives of the Gibraltar Eliot must cherish very 
much, since ports of such importance to England as Plymouth 
and Portsmouth are excellently modelled there, with all their 


146 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

buildings and gardens and ships and their manifold industries; 
Gibraltar’s rocky fastness, the Spanish encampment, all on a 
table ten feet long— and next to it the royal entrenchment 
with the bomb-proof casemate, all worked in natural 
Gibraltar rock. Ships, too, modelled from the very first 
stages to the time they are ready to put out to sea. I was most 
interested in the cavalry transport boats. 

Shipbuilding is truly one of the wonders of machinery, as 
the first long sea-voyage undertaken was a feat of miraculous 
courage. The great care bestowed on the preservation of 
these works proves that the owners can appreciate art. 

Mr. Vulliamy, senior, also showed us one of his eldest son s 
inventions, which cannot but interest a British sovereign with 
affection for his subjects. For on a large semi-sphere set in 
the wall, he can follow which parts of the world are affected 
if a heavy gale is sweeping England; while the weather-vane 
on this house, with its eminent situation, calculates and records 
so accurately on this sphere that the king can conjecture how 
his fleet is faring. I told Mr. Vulliamy that I thought him 
a very lucky father. This remark inevitably affected him, as 
it must all good parents who have experienced this good 
fortune, and he replied with thankful, sparkling eyes, ‘Yes, 
madam, I am lucky in both my sons; they combine a real 
knowledge of their craft with a good, honest disposition.’ 
‘Happy, indescribably happy man,’ I said. ‘God bless your 
sons for the joy they bring their father.’ 

The concert hall contains a large organ, and this not merely 
because England happens to be particularly fond of this 
instrument, but also because the royal family holds private 
prayers to an organ accompaniment; for it has always been 
mainly associated with church music. 

The audience chamber is devoid of all splendour: one 
cabinet, however, is enhanced by the queen’s tapestry-work. 
In a side room looking on to the garden an artist was at 
work; and there, too, we found two lovely portraits of the 
youngest princesses and a handsome shield of a Carthaginian 


DIARY 


147 


general, an immense implement made of silver and very 
finely wrought; it has now lain in the soil for many centuries 
unharmed, and was discovered by an Englishman who was 
excavating not far from Tarentum, and presented to the king. 

There is a colonnade in the vestibule worthy of the dignity 
of this small palace’s mistress; but since it originally belonged 
to the Buckingham family, whose name, Buckingham House, 
it still bears, it also shows that the builder had a taste for 
greatness and nobility; and since the stairs are also decorated 
with frescoes, I wondered whether it was not a monument 
to the great mind of George, Duke of Buckingham, whom 
Voltaire, in his Histoire Universelle, mentions as ‘the hand- 
somest, proudest and most generous man of his period, who 
governed the mind of his king, Charles i, and tried to take the 
Queen of France’s heart captive by making violent love to 
Queen Anna, Louis xiii’s wife, while escorting Princess 
Henrietta home from France!’ Voltaire adds somewhat 
maliciously, ‘The queen only regarded this insolence as a 
proof of the effect of her beauty, which could offend neither 
her virtue nor her Majesty.’ I should like to know whether 
this man’s pride, no longer immorally lusting after the 
attentions of a queen, would not be flattered at having done 
something, by the construction of this house, to gain the 
applause of the present Queen of England. 

The choice of site for this palace is perfect, as it takes in 
the gradual incline, from which the royal park of St. James’ 
and Green Park can be completely overlooked, and at the 
back of it a pleasant garden has been laid out in which to 
take a solitary stroll. The towers of Westminster Abbey, the 
coronation and burial-ground of British monarchs, can be 
seen from here as well as from St. James’ Palace. Apparently 
the kings of England never felt that puny fear of death which 
prevented Louis the Great of France from inhabiting lovely 
St. Germain, because from there, past Paris, the gay city, 
the towers of St. Denis are visible, where the dust of his 
ancestors lies at rest. 


148 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

We rejoiced on passing through the suites of apartments at 
being able to enumerate a series of virtues and accomplish- 
ments common to the lofty souls of the proprietors of this 
residence. While marvelling at the delightful order and 
simplicity reigning everywhere, Mr. Vulliamy said, ‘The eye 
of the queen spreads this elegance in Buckingham’s house, 
just as her heart allows the king to savour the sweet happiness 
of purest love.’ 

From here my noble friend and I journeyed to Knightsbridge 
for lunch with Cagliostro. I think my daughters must be 
eager to know all details of the episode, since this man is 
famous in so many different ways, that even the least trifle 
concerning him is held remarkable. 

We met the notorious Lord Gordon there again, who 
questioned me a great deal concerning Mendelssohn, and 
spoke very highly of the principles of Jewish religion. 
Cagliostro also seems to like to talk about religion, as I already 
noted yesterday; except that to-day he spoke more against 
what is called education, and praised Mohammed’s doctrines 
with reference to the duty of good works. I should have liked 
to hear him speak of the Bastille; but he evaded all questions 
about it except for loud complaints against Mr. deLaunay; and 
I do not think he quite trusts his solicitor, Mr. Thilorier, in this. 

Our menu was half English, half Italian. In place of the 
soup with which we were served, Cagliostro took an immense 
quantity of macaroni. Instead of boiled beef we had stewed 
lamb, fresh young codling, steamed cabbage, pork, a large 
fish, mussels, roast veal, a huge loin chop and a heap of cress, 
which Gordon ate sprinkled with salt and nothing else, 
potatoes in thick brown sauce, salad and pastries. The 
table was covered with a fine big damask cloth, on which we 
all wiped our mouths in old English style, as there were no 
serviettes. The dishes were silver, the plates china, and glasses 
of English crystal. The Moor mostly served us by himself, 
though another unliveried servant also appeared. The 
costliest wines were at our command, for he has a good cellar. 


DIARY 


149 

I did not see Cagliostro eat anything but macaroni, which is 
supposed to be his favourite dish. 

I asked Gordon whether he liked the Minister Pitt. 

‘No,’ he answered to this question. 

‘Why?’ No reply. 

‘What about Fox?’ 

‘Sometimes!’ 

‘What do you mean?’ 

‘When he is against the court I like him, as then he is 
honest. If he votes for the court, however, I hate him, as 
then he speaks against England’s welfare.’ 

‘Do you like the king?’ 

‘No.’ 

‘Why not? He is such a good, honest man.’ 

‘You do not know him, and I shall never forgive him for 
robbing England of the greatest man we have ever had.’ 
‘Who was that, and how did the robbery come about?’ 
‘The famous barrister Yorke, whom he moved by means of 
crocodile tears to take the Chancellor’s seal; and as his noble- 
minded brother, Lord Hardwicke, would have no more to do 
with him, in despair he cut his throat.’ 

During this tale I noticed his pale face flush up and all the 
traces of a kindling anger become visible, so quite passively 
I said: 

‘I think, my lord, there are many other circumstances 
attached to this incident which would certainly free the king 
from all blame; for it is surely laudable on his part to use 
everything in his power, yes, even tears, in order to move so 
deserving a man to accept so important a post. York cannot 
have been so great as you maintain, or else he was not in good 
health, if he took his own life. Why did he not allow his 
actions to speak for him?’ 

‘I cannot tell you all,’ was the retort. 

Now we rose from table, had coffee, and Gordon calmed 
down and seated himself quite quietly beside me, saying: 
‘What do you think of me?’ 


150 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

‘I am amazed that you, with your gentle mien, could be 
responsible for the death of so many hundreds of London’s 
inhabitants, and for bringing misfortune to hundreds of 

others.’ 

And to this he replied, with a tone and expression ot deep 
grief: 

‘Ah! madam, that was not my fault, nor was it my inten- 
tion; but when the English mob is once roused to ire it can 
no longer be restrained.’ 

‘But, my lord, a noble Englishman with knowledge of the 
mob-mind, and a love of religion, should not release so 
unruly a spirit in rebellion.’ 

He listened kindly and quietly to me, pressed my hand, 

smiling meanwhile, and said; 

‘I like you, madam, for your frankness. You will not hear 
any more of this kind of thing about me. Only stay in London 
long enough to get to know both great and small, and you 
will change your opinion.’ 

I smiled too, and replied: 

‘I imagine I should find my observation of great men in 
Germany confirmed — namely, that their pride does double 
to their intellect, for it does not prevent their taking 
wrong turnings, nor afterwards allow them to retrace their 
steps.’ He smiled, and was silent; and I was relieved our 
discussion had ended so well, for I felt I had really taken a 
risk in speaking so openly to this man, who only a few 
moments before had evinced such signs of wrath. He told me 
later that he was popular with a number of Germans, 
Hungarians and Bohemians, and that he had been the 
subject of much encomium in his work against the Catholics; 
he was still in receipt of letters from congregations asking him 
for contributions to Protestant churches. 

And now tea-time had come, and I noticed Lord Gordon 
liked sitting next to pretty Countess Seraphine, who already 
speaks quite good English; and We left for home. 


DIARY 


151 

Sept. IS 

An extraordinary day! Pictures by Reynolds, Gains- 
borough, West and Stuart; then to Green, the engraver’s. 
To my mind, in the homes of these men the English character 
glistens like the gold they employ for the encouragement and 
reward of diligence in art; the numerous orders and the 
artists’ prosperity are evidence of this. Lovely homes, apart- 
ments hung with pictures by famous old masters, bronze and 
marble ornaments — these are one’s first impressions ; then at 
Reynolds’, through a passage full of half-finished pictures, one 
enters a room lit from above, and where the quantity and 
beauty of the pictures heaped up there, as if conjured by a 
magic wand in their myriad forms and fascinating rhythms, 
leave one quite dumbfounded. This is no exaggeration, for 
they are piled against each other in threes and fours. Sir 
Joshua Reynolds was in the country, which disappointed me, 
as I should have liked to make his personal acquaintance and 
judge of his manner; for a clever man quite recently main- 
tained ‘that the works of painters and sculptors always reveal 
qualities of their own personality, in the same way as poets 
and moralists always put their main affections into the title 
role, with the strongest light thrown on to them.’ 

I do not know whether this remark has any foundation, or 
whether I was prejudiced by the specious tone of the 
utterance, but I thought I saw some truth in it, as once a 
painter, who had very strong features, was criticised in all his 
really good and finished portraits for ‘making a credible 
likeness and beautiful picture with features too strong.’ 
Another, the lower part of whose face was very long, was 
inclined to elongate all his lines. But let me tell you about 
Sir Reynolds’ pictures. 

There were some large Englishmen with very speaking 
faces— like Fox’s portrait, for example, which reads like one of 
his violent speeches. Lovely, very lovely paintings of young 
ladies and young misses. The Duchess of Rutland, a goddess 


352 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

endowed with Grecian grace. I called your brother, and 
asked him whether this was not an extremely beautiful 
woman? He considered for a while, and answered, ‘Yes, she 
is extremely beautiful, but in Berlin we have one who is even 
lovelier.’ I was astonished, and said, ‘My good Carl, you 
must be in love, else you could not say such a thing.’ ‘No, 
I am not, but Mme. Herz is far more beautiful,’ he answered, 
with his quiet reserve and a tone of assurance mingled with 
pleasure at Germany’s possessing a more beautiful woman 
than her whom England regards as the loveliest. 

At Gainsborough’s, who always paints the members of the 
Royal Family, we saw two royal princesses surveying one 
another in sisterly fashion, painted while out for a walk, the 
handsome Prince of Wales, and a quite delightful picture of a 
peasant girl carrying a bowl of milk, and a great many other 
pictures; but not such a quantity as at Reynolds’, whose 
fresh colours are very fine, though they are supposed to fade, 
leaving nothing but mere shadows gracefully posed. Gains- 
borough, however, has an attractive and permanent palette. 

We found West, the painter of historical scenes, there in 
person, surrounded by pupils and masterpieces by his own 
hand. He received us nobly, though unassumingly, in the 
manner of all great achievement. He works in a room lit 
from above, and the gallery leading to it is hung with 
sketches of completed pictures of which engravings had been 
made. He showed us some of the large historical canvases 
he is painting, and the very attractive composition from an 
ode by Anacreon in which Cupid, in the presence of his 
mother, is weeping over a sting from a bee hidden in a rose. 
Nothing could be lovelier than the god Amor, with tears in 
his eyes and running down his cheeks. The whole effect 
clearly indicates the nature of this child of the gods. The 
sudden withdrawal of his arm and wounded hand, which his 
mother tenderly caresses, is portrayed and coloured with 
admirable realism: the mother holds his head to her breast 
with one hand— as only the ideal of motherly love knows how 


DIARY 


153 


— at the boy’s feet lies the rose, and the bee is flying off to the 
side. This delicious picture is meant for Catherine ii. 

Then he led us to his collection of old and modern masters, 
for he possesses one choice piece by every famous painter. I 
was proud on immediately recognising a Titian, which Mr. 
West procured in an auction for 15s., saying that the picture 
would sell now for more than the same number of hundred 
guineas. This is a very large picture, with the hunting of 
Acteon for subject; for Titian wanted to prove that he was 
just as great at landscape and animal work as he was famous 
for his human figures. There is a very touching story 
attached to the picture, as also to Guido Reni’s ‘Head of 
Christ,’ and to some other works once the property of Charles i. 
When his wife and children had fled from England, after 
his life and all else were so miserably forfeited, these costly 
pictures fell into strange and ignorant hands, were covered 
with dust and dirt, and only saved from utter destruction by 
the hazard of fortune in the person of the art-daemon— for he 
led his favourite, Mr. West, upon their tracks, thus guiding 
these masterpieces by some of his former children into his safe 
keeping. 

Mr. West has the expression and fine features said by 
Lavater’s physiognomical work to characterise him; his 
picture might furnish further evidence for the statement 
made above. His latest work on copper shows Lord Chatham 
swooning in Parliament, and all the Lords gathered round him. 

From here we arrived at Mr. Stuart’s, a young, but re- 
spected artist, who will become an excellent portrait painter; 
he already has plenty to do, and deserves every encourage- 
ment. He, too, lives as if in the hall of the temple of the 
Muses, in rooms of magnificent style, fit for true genius to 
unfold its wings and soar. Fine architecture surrounds 
him; and it would be almost impossible for him to introduce 
anything niggardly or anxious into his pictures. But in 
accordance with all this, 20, 50, 100 and 150 guineas are the 
sums quoted here when the talk turns to the prices of portraits. 


154 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

We finished up the morning at Mr. Green’s, the famous 
and wealthy engraver, at whose place we witnessed one of 
the most complete collections of works in this art. 

I lunched at Mr. Heinzelmann’s, who is, in fact, a near 
relation of my dear mother’s. He came to England many 
years ago, and married a rich merchant’s daughter. His love 
of his country caused him to hand over his business to 
another, and travel to Germany with his wife and two daughters . 
He stayed there six years, at the same time supervising his 
daughters’ education, now about to attain their sixteenth 
birthday. Then, after a short residence in France, he 
intended returning to England. In Dunkirk, however, he had 
an attack of gout, so was obliged to winter there, where his 
lovely younger daughter married a Count Schulenburg. She 
had to accompany him to Saxony, so her parents also 
decided to settle there in order to live near their pet; but the 
poor, sweet child lost her husband before she had lived with 
him six months, and before she was even mother, was a 
widow. They journeyed back to England. A lovely boy, like 
his father, was the sad young mother’s only comfort. He 
grew in stature and talents until he was seven, when he went 
into a decline and she almost died of grief. 

We had an old English menu: a large fish, boiled mutton, 
pudding, boiled cabbage with butter, and a roast. Punch was 
made at table. After the meal Miss Heinzelmann played the 
piano and sang until I was fetched to see Somerset House, a 
magnificent palace built in four large wings dedicated to the 
academies of science and art. 

Part of the main building faces that fine street, the Strand, 
the rest looks on to the Thames. We viewed the part devoted 
to the academies of painting and sculpture. With statues on 
either hand, one comes to the staircase, where Cipriani’s 
artistic bas-reliefs form an inestimable ornament. In the 
assembly hall there are pictures by other great masters; the 
muses of painting and poetry by Angelika. The library and 
entrance hall are large and nobly proportioned. Were this 


DIARY 155 

building situated on St. James’ Square, it would merit a 

visit from all quarters of the globe. 

From Somerset House we set out over Blackfriars Bridge 
to the Royal Circus, where trick riders, tumblers, and plays 
can be seen. Actually it is a large circular building. 

Children from seven to twelve years ride there, and perform 
a hundred and one tricks. A dear little girl eight years of age 
was particularly entertaining; first dismounting from her 
horse, she proceeds to the stage, where she amuses the 
spectators with her by-play. Then it was the adults turn to 
ride, and an operetta followed, after this rope-walkers, then a 
handsome boy raced the girl on horseback, next came 
tumblers, and finally three grown-ups in a group galloped 
with the four children balanced on their hands and shoulders. 
This pyramid, fraught with art and danger, rode past us a 
few times, changing places as it went. The scenes with these 
children grieved me, though I could not but admire their 
skill, energy, and the infinite flexibility of our body. What 
cannot human nature accomplish by straining every sinew, 
using all the power of its intellect and every minute of its 

time. 

During the rope-dancers’ scene I watched some sailors, 
and tried to read from their expressions whether they were 
comparing their tasks on the ship’s rigging with the measured 
steps of the former with their balancing-pole. I thought the 
sailors’ work and courage most commendable, but the rope- 
walkers’ despicable; and I should have liked to have them, 
and the acrobats and break-neck riders as well, selected with 
the first press-gang and placed on board a cutter. 

To-day Carl was at Mr. Kirwan’s for the second time, 
accompanied by two young people of high standing, twenty- 
years of age, like himself, and very keen students of natural 
history. One of them has three thousand guineas pin-money, 
and a position in the royal guards. He spends his time and 
money in reflection and research. He is the only son and 
heir of a wealthy family, and an unusually handsome man. 


156 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

His mother was very worried lest the chemical experiments 
should ruin his constitution, complexion, and especially his 
lovely hair. He tried to pacify her, but, finding nothing of 
any use, he took her scissors and began to cut off the hair she 
loved so dearly, until she promised to let him continue his 
studies in peace. 

Mr. Kirwan, so my friend Hurter says, thinks highly of 
your brother Carl, and he is now to attend with his other 
students every evening. 


Sept. 14 

This morning we looked over the nature exhibits in the 
royal museum, and to-day I was able to see its beautiful 
garden and the glorious view adjoining, with Hampstead and 
Highgate in the distance, situated on high hills. I was 
enchanted at this prospect, and full of admiration for Parlia- 
ment’s splendid idea of purchasing this fine edifice and 
forming a centre here for the wonders of art and nature. 
What a large share of this admiration is due to those patriots 
who have bequeathed their collections here. 

I could only make a rapid survey of everything, for you 
can imagine, dear children, how much of the following list 
can be seen in three hours: coins and medals, both ancient 
and modern, 23,000; cameos and old seals, 968; vases made 
of agate and jasper and other materials, 2,256; crystals, spars, 
etc., 1,864; fossils, marble, talc and other stones, 1,663; 
different kinds of earth and salts, 1,035; resins, sulphur, 
amber, 392; corals and sponges, 1,421; shells and sea- 
urchins, 6,502; all species of fishes, 2,341; birds, birds’ nests; 
eggs, 1,172; quadrupeds, 1,186; snakes and snake species, 
521; insects, 5,439; vegetable species, 12,506; dried plants, 
334 vols., of which those presented by the Duchess of Beaufort 
arc the finest. I should like, however, to appoint Mr. Forster 
of Covent Garden superintendent and director, so that some 
order and selection might be introduced into this profusion. 

Amongst the precious stones models of the largest-known 


DIARY 


157 


diamonds may be seen: Pitt in France, one from Tuscany, and 
another in Russia being most perfect of all; but the King of 
Portugal is said to have received a diamond from Brazil 
twice as large as the largest here. 

A tragic feature of this stone’s natural history occurred to 
me, and spoiled the pleasant sensation of wonder caused by 
this most perfect creation of the lapidary world. For when 
the second diamond region was discovered some hundred and 
seventy years ago in the kingdom of Golconda, which yields 
the biggest stones, of 60,000 people working in the mines 
57,000 died of starvation and misery, so there are only 3,000 
left there, each earning a bare five dollars annually. 

Much moved, I meditated on the excellent Indian maxim, 
‘Never deceive a child,’ which is the reason why in Visapur^ 
the stones are purchased by children, ten to twelve years old, 
who carry them around in their waist-belts and hand them 
in at evening to the big merchants. With the image of the 
children in my mind and the thought that people’s passions — 
vain love of show in some, avarice in others — traded on such 
precious innocence, my expression may have taken on a 
curious look. 

When we came to the case of pearl shells, two foreigners 
from the French isles, intelligent observers and critics of all 
they saw, told us about the new discovery that pearls were 
inhabited by tiny animals which grew inside the seed, adding 
that they had seen such pearls themselves. I was already 
familiar with this discovery, having read the notice in 1 784 in 
the Esprit des Journaux, and so I did these people a good turn 
by telling them, for their tale had been received by others, to 
whom this story of the pearl was a huge novelty, with a kind 
of incredulous astonishment bordering on mistrust of the 
narrator’s intelligence and honesty. ^ . . . . 

... I left the museum with its myriad wonders sadly, as I 

^ Sic. ? Bijapur. 

2 A passage of moral reflections, followed by some historical remarks on 
imitation pearl fabrication. 


158 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

should have liked to become acquainted with it all in a 
leisurely way — with all the tiers of a small Chinese house 
made of some kind of rice paste— but I had to hurry, so 
wished those lucky ones with time and leisure at their dis- 
posal that thirst for knowledge with which my own soul is 
aflame. Were I but of their number I should leave no work 
of nature’s or of human hands unseen. I should visit every 
manufactory, watch great and small in their joys and in their 
sorrows, and acquire so intimate a knowledge of the language 
that I could follow parliamentary speeches. Farming 
amongst poor and prosperous peasantry — the life of the 
aristocrat, the pastor and the judge — would all be objects of 
interest to me; the peasant and the working-woman’s lot, 
and particularly that of children’s nurses, next a study of 
general educational standards. 

We went to Hatchett, one of London’s most famous 
master saddlers, who employs several hundred workmen in 
his service. At home we have no conception of such a saddler, 
with premises for Cartwrights, smiths, harness-makers, 
sculptors, painters, upholsterers, gilders, girdlers— all kinds of 
workmen necessary for coach- and harness-making and other 
accessories, working under his supervision and producing the 
loveliest masterpieces of their kind. I cannot think of any 
visit more interesting than this one — think of three floors of 
spacious rooms, so to speak, fitted with swarms of busy 
people, whose perfect workmanship is only excelled by still 
more perfect implements. 

The painters and lacquer-workers were on the third floor. 
All the main flights of stairs are broad, and so arranged that 
the banisters may be taken down and the finished vehicle 
allowed to slide down on ropes. I especially admired the 
neat craftsmanship of the harness-workers and upholsterers. 

We concluded our tour amongst a number of finished 
coaches, and with an inspection of some fine drawings of all 
kinds of vehicles. 

I was amused to see how the people played into each other’s 


DIARY 159 

hands, as the saying goes; and that a saddler has a counting- 
house and a paymaster just like a banker. 

I should have liked to have taken the drawing of a coach 
costing fifteen thousand guineas, made for the Nabob of 
Arcot, along with me; or that of the Empress of Russia, or 
Rumbold’s, the governor of the East Indies, just to have an 
idea of the size and magnificence of this kind of conveyance. 

From here we went to Mr. Parker’s glass-factory and 
magazine, which contains a profusion of crystal vases and 
glasses of every description. I confess here that on inspecting 
such manufactories I am pleased and proud at having 
acquainted myself with the rudiments and character of the 
products of human labour. The precious and exceedingly 
beautiful crystal work, I think, afforded me greater pleasure 
in that the magnificent chandeliers, where the sunlight 
played in a myriad hues — the vases and hundred other 
pieces — brought to mind the pebbles, salt and potash herb of 
Spanish shores, the English bull herb, manganese and tartar, 
and all the labour of the glass-works before these forms and 
vessels were evolved. The story of these crystals passed 
rapidly before me, but I experienced even greater pleasure 
on being shown the burning reflector, two and a half feet in 
diameter, and two others, which require but a few minutes 
to smelt diamonds. 

Mr. Woide, the librarian, lunched with us; a most estimable 
scholar and a very modest, good man too, whose conversation 
was another source of enjoyment and pleasure to me. 

We spoke of the famous astronomer, Herschel, and Mr. 
Woide told me about this great man’s sister, who accompanies 
him on his path to glorious immortality, for not only does she 
help him in his calculations, but in his absence recently 
discovered a new comet, and enjoys a claim to her brother’s 
great reputation in the matter of the telescope discovered and 
perfected by him, for when in order to finish it he was forced 
to remain at his polishing-wheel thirty hours without a break, 
she assisted him and kept him company, fed him with the 


i6o SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

food and drink he required, and wiped the sweat from his 
brow. They live in a small cottage near Windsor, and I hope 
to make their acquaintance. 

During the evening we were introduced to a venerable old 
gentleman of 81, a Mr. Grand, who lives opposite Mr. 
Hurter. Having watched the quiet, steady industry of this 
family for some time, he visited them, paid homage to the 
father’s talents, and praised the daughters’ quiet reserve. 
His respect counts for a great deal because of his great 
knowledge and integrity. He was tutor to young Lord 
Savile, against whom the fanatical Lord Gordon principally 
levelled his ire. Since this noble humanitarian had voted in 
favour of freedom of thought and worship amongst the 
Catholics, his house was the first sacrifice to mob fury, and 
Savile barely had time to save his trembling mother before 
his house was broken into, despoiled and ravaged; books, 
manuscripts, picture collection and other costly things, as in 
Lord Mansfield’s case, burned and destroyed, while George 
Savile himself was so much pestered and plagued that he 
afterwards expired. The venerable old de Grand still sheds 
some tears on speaking of the ill-fortunes and the virtue of 
his pupil. I thought Gordon most hateful and despicable as 
I heard the detailed account of these murderous and 
unbridled scenes; they were never made really public in 
newspapers or letters, for the government and nation must 
have been ashamed of possessing so wild a mob of villains in 
its capital. The papers never mentioned that fifteen places 
were set fire to simultaneously, and that a number of invalids 
and pregnant women died of shock. Let me turn from the 
pictorial accounts I received, to wish you, dear children, and 
myself, if fate decrees old age for us, a life spent like Granci’s: 

Thoughtful towards friendship and deserts. 

Kindly in all his dealings with mankind. 

Knowledge of his youth fresh in his mind. 

And a lively interest in every new discovery. 


DIARY 


i6i 


He has been a great traveller. Has made every funda- 
mental and fine science his own. He enters society enriched 
with the spirit of his age, and eager to sample modern 
knowledge, like a man with a quantity of golden medals 
which he is ready to compare with newer mint. Lord 
Savile’s mother is still alive, and often visits her son’s friend, 
talks about him, and is glad to pay Mr. Grand the pension 
which the family considered a debt of gratitude, for the 
subsequent fame attained by the worthy son is rightly 
attributed to Mr. Granci’s excellent tuition. He spends a 
few weeks with the mother every year on the country estate 
of which her noble son was fondest, and where the fine 
portrait of this martyr to a just philanthropy is hung. 

Mr. Granci lives alone in a nice little house with a couple of 
devoted servants. On hearing him recite some French verses 
exceedingly well, I told him that I took him for a very happy 
old gentleman. ‘Indeed, I am, but I always prayed to 
Apollo, in the words of Horace’s thirty-first ode: Grant me, 
son of Lato, bodily health and a pure spirit together with 
contentment in adversity; and an old age without disgrace, 
but not without a lute.’ This the old man spoke so beautifully, 
in such a friendly way! 

Sept. 

To-day we visited the site of the Adelphi buildings, which 
i occupy an entire district on the Thames, are very attractively 
built, and afford the foreigner the pleasure of strolling along 
j the embankment and watching the mighty river. For, next 
to sixty houses, the architects have laid a street with fine iron 
railings on the river-side. 

From here we entered the splendid premises of the 
voluntary society for the improvement of agriculture and 
the arts. ^ I must first make brief mention of the fact that I was 
very happy in this house, for I not only found there a large 
room full of machines for easing and improving agricultural 

1 Officially designated . . . The Society for the Encouragement of .Arts, 
Manufacture and Commerce, 

L 


i62 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and manual labour, but also a number of prizes offered for 
afforestation of all kinds of useful trees, which was a pleasing 
sight. Anyone cultivating oak trees on ten acres of land 
received a gold medal worth twenty guineas; anyone, as 
above, planting five acres in one year got a silver medal 
worth ten guineas. Likewise for the drainage and cultivation 
of marshes and tests applied to fodder, herbage — and corn.' 
For the cultivation of waste-land — whoever makes the best 
suggestions for this purpose earns the gold medal. For 
evidence that in one soil chalk, in another manure, in a 
third clay or marl, flourish best, the prize offered is a gold 
medal. If a person has cultivated heath or land near the sea, 
he also is the recipient of a gold medal. Evidence as to when 
lime, wood or coal ashes are most profitable is crowned with 
the gold medal. And a great deal more of the same kind, 
which I cannot describe here, all of it for the good of man- 
kind or the domestic animal, followed by drawing prizes, in 
which case the age of the entry is always afflxed; a special 
class for the children and grandchildren of peers of the realm 
and the nobility; prizes for schoolmasters, within a thirty-mile 
radius of London, teaching boys to read and write Latin by 
the easiest and most rapid method ; as also for those teaching 
people to read and write German, Spanish and Italian — 
always the gold medal! There is no mention of French. For 
articles much in demand in England like kelp and potash 
for glass-making, for the growing of mulberry trees and 
rearing of silkworms, a gold medal is offered. For discovery 
of a method of preserving acorns, nuts and other seeds from 
destruction, as for the most successful wheat crops, a gold 
medal. Whoever derives most fodder for domestic animals 
from a given number of fields, receives ten guineas. Whoever 
destroys the largest number of mice and rats, and discovers a 
means of getting rid of other noxious animals and insects, 
receives the gold medal. 

Further, for discoveries in mineralogy; the quantity and 
pressure of steam and increased use of same in machinery, a 


DIARY 


163 

gold medal. New mills to be invented; smoke and steam 
injurious to mechanics using fire processes to be diminished, 
and innumerable problems of a similar nature are set as 
prize tasks. Prizes arc offered to the inhabitants of the islands 
for planting nutmeg, a gold medal for five pounds’ worth; a 
similar reward for the bread-fruit tree, and oil taken from 
cotton seed, or spirit from the shell of coffee-beans, etc. 

The society consists of six thousand, and the same number 
of hundred members, who contribute two guineas annually, 
which are always distributed as prizes, either in medal form 
or in ready guineas, if the latter are more appropriate to the 
circumstances of the inventor or worker. What thousands of 
people have been encouraged in industry and reflection, have 
been rewarded and certainly enriched since 1753 ? when a 
fine, upright man of the name of Mr. Shipley founded the 
society. 

A large picture runs the whole round of this honourable 
and esteemed society’s conference hall, which is also lit from 
above, depicting all the labours and activities of mankind, 
and ending with the reward of the philanthropist’s good deeds 
at the doors of eternity. 

Fine, indeed, very fine, are the laws which treat a lord of 
the highest estate and a member of the lowest class with 
equal regard and equal rights. 

My heart was big with blessings, and tears of joy filled my 
eyes, at the list of the many names to whom rewards had been 
given for improved methods of cultivation or inventions of 
tools. 

I wished noble Count Hartig, the author of an interesting 
history of agriculture, in which he warmly commends this 
foundation, had been with us. He also names some young 
Englishmen who devoted their life and property to the good 
of their country— Clare, Conway, Chesterfield, Buckingham, 
Bridgewater, Clanricarde, the Duke of Bedford, for whom a 
medal was stamped and himself named ‘Bedford triptolemus.’ 
Noble land, where the virtue of humanity is rewarded and 


i64 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

extolled. Thank God that nowhere, either spoken or 
written, did I meet with complaints of egoism, as was so 
often the case in France. 

From this building, the home of all the virtues, we came to 
Pluto’s palace, the Bank, where we admired the handsome 
architecture, and saw some gold bars. It seems significant 
that a church was broken up to allow more space for riches. 
For, alas, how often are all feelings of humanity and religion 
suppressed so that gold may the more readily be hoarded. 

The way here leads through large, beautifully vaulted 
halls into circular apartments supported by pillars, where 
hundreds of people are paying in bank-notes, handing out 
money in exchange for paper, or taking the former and giving 
the latter; a number besides come in and write letters at the 
free tables and ink-wells, and transact business. 

In the vault, where guineas and crowns are not counted 
but weighed, and shaken into jars or sacks, there is a terrible 
rattle and clatter. One man showed us gold bars from 
Guinea, whence the English gold coins take their name. 

Man’s absolute need of this metal — for even the noblest 
comes to an ignoble end, unless some small portion of it be 
his— and the miserable plight of the blacks who extract it 
from the earth came to my mind, and lent the gold bars such 
a character that the sight of them weighed heavily upon my 
heart. Indeed, I thanked heaven that it was yet possible for 
industrious hands and an inventive mind to tread the road 
to greatest virtue and yet earn at least a modest portion of 
it all. 

Not a single calm, contented face did I see there, not even 
amongst those receiving large sums of money. Their joy 
was rather dazzling than radiant; others looked care-worn, 
or covetous, or seemed restless and worried while they wrote. 
Those weighing the money appeared indifferent, a state 
which habit always fosters. Those drawing small trucks 
laden with gold and silver across the court seemed, from the 
expression of their faces, contorted by pulling their load, to be 


DIARY 


165 

the only people connecting desires and sorrows with the sense 
of the weight behind them. We had been told that amongst 
the many people rushing to and fro, note-snatchers and 
pickpockets were to be found. I confess I looked into many 
a face for this reason, but I do not fancy I spotted any, for 
even the best faces expressed a fervent longing for fortune’s 
bounty. 

I departed, hoping that the riches amassed in here might 
be earned and enjoyed without regret.^ . . . 

. . . And now I am turning towards London again, back to 
East India House which, without much show, is yet very effec- 
tive; though not as fine as one might expect from the owners of 
dominions supplying sixteen million subjects and six million 
pounds sterling, and having a standing army of eighteen 
thousand men. 

The great tea auction was just taking place inside. A large 
number of merchants were present— all quite quiet. There 
was not a sound except for the auctioneer, and a reply, of 
which every one made a note; after a short interval another 
offer was made, and so on. This company only seems to 
work in millions, for it was a question of several million 
pounds of tea. From there we went quite cheaply to the 
Excise and Customs House on the Thames. It is impossible 
to describe the confusion of workmen and ships’ hands there, 
and the quantities of cases, casks and bales. This portion 
of London shows far more clearly than St. James’, that it is a 
great trading state, and that here is the residence of a mighty 
king. We spent a few minutes upstairs in the rooms where the 
goods are registered and taxed, and it seemed to us that if 
reserve and searching curiosity are not apparent anywhere 
else, they are at least to be found here. 

I had an altogether new experience. I had never eaten 
oysters; and we went over a fish-market on the Thames, 
where a load had just come in, and some people were 

^ Some etymological speculations on the origin of the word ‘ bank ’ are here 
omitted. 


i66 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

eagerly buying and carrying them off, while others had them 
opened and were eating them, for innumerable bread and 
lemon vendors were present offering their services. For a 
time we watched with interest, finally we were seized by the 
desire to sample really fresh English oysters. We entered an 
inn, where the lower floor was separated off into a number of 
small rooms holding six to eight persons. The cubicles were 
neat, the tables laid with white cloths, and there were de- 
lightful wicker-chairs to sit in. A fisher-woman with a basket 
of oysters, a youngster with lemons and a small basket 
containing bread, plates and knives followed immediately 
after us. An excited enthusiasm whispered in my ear: ‘These 
are English oysters, and you are in London,’ and any previous 
aversion to oyster-eating I may have entertained vanished, 
and I liked them very much. 

From such trifling remarks on the power of fancy I was 
taken to Moorfields, to Bedlam, the famous lunatic asylum, 
where an overwrought fantasy at its highest and most 
tragic pitch has gathered some hundreds of unfortunates. 

I had always had a horror of such establishments, where my 
heart would be torn at the sight of so much anguish, and 
seized with an aversion to all those in authority, though my 
grief and despair could do the poor sufferers no good. For 
this reason I did not go to Bicetre, near Paris; here, however, 
curiosity overcame my loathing; I wanted to see this London 
institution to test the truth of her philanthropy. I traversed 
the fine avenues of that magnificent, though somewhat 
solitary, Moorfields, and was much affected by , the two statues 
of the sad and raving lunatic above the entrance, by the 
sculptor Cibber, regarded as masterpieces for the penetrating 
truth of their expression, and deservedly. With a heavy heart 
I then approached this palace of greatest human misery. 
It is indeed a very palatial building, 540 feet in length, with 
two large wings either side and fine gardens, where the poor 
people can enjoy fresh air and recreate themselves amongst 
trees, flowers and plants. 


DIARY 


167 

It was formerly a monastery, where an abundant piety, 
loveliest of passions, peopled the cells with voluntary entries; 
now the grief of unrequited love, the pangs of vanity, 
ambition, hate and affliction, and other similar emotions 
bring — oh, how many — hither! 

Entrance and vestibule arc fine. The inspector is an 
intelligent, humane person. On every step of the stairs by 
which we ascended my fear increased. We came to a broad 
passage, thoroughly well lit, with cells on either side, just as 
in a monastery. A number of men were pacing calmly to and 
fro, saluting the inspector in friendly fashion. An attendant 
opened some cells, and I noticed the inspector showed a 
kindly tact as he explained, ‘You will see here a man who has 
been very ill,’ or, ‘Here is someone who is very ill.’ The cruel 
expressions ‘fool’ or ‘madman’ never once passed his lips. 

The living-rooms of these unfortunates arc spacious and 
bright, with windows up above, and contain comfortable beds, 
while many are provided with tables, books, and writing 
material; we were afterwards shown a man whose poor brain 
was overtaxed and strained over some calculation. This man 
does nothing but repeat this sum, writes it down very neatly, 
and with excellent figures, of which he handed me a sheet, 
his countenance doleful. 

The inspector and attendant spoke gently and kindly to 
them all, especially to the invalids who are kept locked up, 
since otherwise they might inflict wounds upon themselves 
and others. But here the forethought and humanity of the 
authorities were exemplified, for these unhappy folk had no 
chains or straps to rub sores if they made frenzied gestures 
with their arms and hands and so aggravate mental stress 
by further pain. They wore a strong jacket with long, white 
sleeves, tied behind their backs; this forms a sufficient 
deterrent to their harming anything with their hands and 
does not hurt them in any way; if they should show signs of 
restlessness while strolling around loose, they are fastened to 
the corner of the room with strong cords, also fixed to the 


i68 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

jacket. They can move backwards and forwards in a semi- 
circle, so preserve a certain amount of freedom, yet are 
rendered harmless without having to suffer. 

The cleanliness, order and gentleness with which these 
wretched folk are tended, and their condition notwithstand- 
ing, all affected me greatly, particularly the affectionate care 
taken not to hurt them. The inspector told us that it was 
Dr. Monro’s institute, and he had forbidden them to ill-treat 
or frighten any one of the unfortunates either by word or 
threat or mien. 

‘This is a fever of the mind,’ he says, ‘tender, gentle 
handling is the only cure for this. Where the fever has 
proved infectious to the body, I shall try to relieve it by diet 
and medicines.’ And the man continued: ‘Such persistent 
tenderness and kindness must inevitably have a salutary 
effect, for the worst attacks improve within a fortnight or 
three weeks, and a number are cured.’ 

I wept for joy, and blessed Monro and the inspector. The 
man was moved and said, ‘What a pity you were not there 
last Wednesday, when five complete cures were handed back 
to their families, and all, like you, blessed and thanked Mr. 
Monro.’ 

A ship’s captain who had served with honours was very 
unhappy, and lost his reason a second time. His pensive, 
gentle visage and a preoccupation with sea charts dis- 
tinguished him. 

A young French cook lay on his bed almost aglow with 
the heat of his fever, but smiled and with a welcome, kissed 
his hands to us. They hope to have the poor young fellow 
cured soon. 

One man in the lowest cell, with books all round him, was 
wearily sitting head in hand. He had committed a murder, 
and the agony of it drove him silly, though he continued to 
attack people; he is cpiiet again now, but disconsolate and 
incurable. 

Next we came to the unfortunates of my own sex. Some 


DIARY 169 

young creatures amongst the patients were most pathetic 
sights, clad in white flannel skirts and tunics. One was lying 
on a bench very deeply moved, and she turned hei head 
away when I cast tearful glances at her. She had beautiful 
eyes and perfectly regular features. Her reason had been 
impaired by abortive marriage plans. Another was sitting 
in the passage all huddled together, pensive and melancholy. 
Some quietly walked beside us, following us with curious 
gaze. One of them was laughing and skipping. ^ 

‘And now,’ said the supervisor, door key in hand, ‘I will 
show you Mistress Nicholson.’ I shuddered at seeing a person 
with murderous instincts. She sat there, tidily attired, her 
hat upon her head, with gloves and book in hand, stood up 
at sight of us, and fixed her horrible grey eyes wildly upon us. 
Meanwhile the inspector had noticed a number of pens 
lying on the ground. ‘Are these pens no use, Mistress 
Nicholson?’ he asked kindly. She answered rapidly, ‘No, 
not one,’ taking a paper on which she had written with a 
really good hand. ‘See here, the first lines were good, but I 
cannot let the prince see the rest.’ Then the inspector assured 
her she should have good pens, and called a nurse imrne- 
diately to take those away and bring fresh ones, for which 
the sad woman thanked him. Then he asked her whether she 
still had anything to read. ‘A few pages, as you see,’ while 
she passed her fingers through them. ‘I will send another 
part at once,’ he answered. She nodded thanks, sat down 
again, and continued her book. It was Shakespeare which 
she was reading so intently. 

We then saw some of the quieter patients, some of whom 
were sewing and others sitting together, for they are gladly 
allowed to make friends and be sociable; except at night, when 
they must all retire to their own room. 

One nice girl was hovering round a woman sitting there, 
for whom she affected all the poses of a lady’s maid ready to 
adorn her lady. She was wan, and very gentle. Another did 
nothing but move her hands like a person diligently sewing. 


lyo SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and did not look up. From one poor, melancholy creature I 
bought a little basket of plaited straw. She ran quickly into 
her cell with the money, a lovely slim figure which filled me 
with compassion. 

The inspector answered an inquiry as to ‘which species of 
madness afflicted the women most.’ ‘Young ones mourn a 
lover’s faithlessness, his death, or the parents’ harshness at 
not agreeing to the marriage. The greatest number of older 
women come from the Methodists’ ranks, usually from child- 
bed, when they are in any case very frail and the strict 
doctrines of this sect had made them anxious, which gradually 
gives way to a quiet kind of lunacy; but these cases were 
mostly cured.’ ^ . . . 

... I was sorry to hear that there are more than three 
hundred private homes for lunatics in London, and that one 
more house had recently been erected for this purpose, which 
had received one hundred thousand pounds sterling in 
donations in twenty years. Bedlam has an income of five 
thousand pounds sterling. 

This mass of asylums is a humiliating counter-balance to 
the reflective qualities and philosophic disposition which 
distinguish the English nation; and I should only like to 
know whether these institutes are as necessary in provincial 
towns and in the country, as in the capital, where passion is 
nurtured and stimulated. 

I left the house with blessings for the wise, humane doctor 
and noble commission whose rooms I had inspected. I only 
wish every good, honest worker and wage-earner and their 
families in the Fatherland might have such sound, spacious, 
clean rooms as these unfortunates; and prayed God to keep 
my intellect fit unto the end; even if only for the sake of the 
misery which my collapse would cause. 

An Eolian harp at the half-open window of the chief 

^ A discussion of motives — to be found more satisfactorily in the Dictionary of 
Nat. Biog.—^.nd incidents pertaining to the attempted murder of George in 
omitted. ’ 


DIARY 171 

inspector’s room seemed to me significant, and as the door 
opened the draught caught the strings and produced very 
delicate, soft tones. 1 reverenced such evidence of feeling, 
such attentiveness in listening for gentle harmonies in a man 
holding a position of this kind, for I felt convinced that he 
would not miss the often quiet promptings of humanity, and 
would thus be in accord with Monro. 

In the afternoon we visited a book-shop in the Strand. I 
fancied to myself I was at the chemist s who supplied the 
aids and preventatives against those mental diseases I had 
so lamented at Bedlam that morning. But I should soon have 
caught a fever there too, for I was so seized with the desire 
to see and read all these fine works, that the thought of the 
sheer impossibility of such an enterprise made the tears well 
up and really grieved me, till I caught sight of some works 
in the buildings of the court below which distracted my 
attention, and I admired the good fortune and ability of this 
man who supervised his printers and his bookbinders, woiking 
for the shop, from a charming cabinet hung with beautiful 
engravings where works of immense value are displayed. I 
noticed a number of attractive girls folding the books with an 
almost incredible speed, which only habit could have lent 
their hands and fingers. Perfect eyesight, plenty of time and 
guineas, might sum up my desires on seeing the neat arrange- 
ment for collecting all the English poets, charmingly bound 
and printed, into a case shaped like a large book. Ah, 
indeed, if only I might stay here long enough to browse 
amongst this publisher’s collection, how blissful, then, how 
more than blissful my glorious trip to England would be! 

This day seemed to have a definite end. We spent the 
morning looking at gold bars and silver ingots; then at 
paucity and wealth of intellect, and finally we visited Messrs. 
Jeffries’ silver store. 

From the book shop we drove across the fine Blackfriars 
Bridge to the other side of the Thames, and back over 
Westminster Bridge to this silversmith’s, whose stock must be 


172 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

worth millions. It was all illuminated, and from this room, full 
of sparkling gold and silver moulds and vessels, with two of 
its walls lined with large mirrors, there is a magnificent view 
into two brightly lit streets, the shop lights shimmering on 
either side. I have never seen silver moulded into such noble, 
charming, simple forms; never in such profusion and with the 
added pleasure of comparing the work of previous generations 
with up-to-date modern creations, whereby the client’s taste 
and artist’s workmanship at different periods may be 
construed and criticised. These antique, well-preserved 
pieces, so Mr. Jeffries said, often find a purchaser more readily 
than the modern. This is because the English are fond of 
constructing and decorating whole portions of their country 
houses, or at least one large apartment, in old Gothic style, 
and so are glad to purchase any accessories dating from the 
same or a similar period. 

The shelves round the window and the tables contained a 
number of indefinable but delicately wrought trifles, as, for 
instance, rings, needles, watches and bracelets, showing an 
inventiveness and craftsmanship almost past imagination. 

In the end I stood dumbfounded, and the depths of my 
soul were shaken with this thought: 

Heavens! How differently laws, education and native 
land deal with the wretched negro digging silver from the 
bowels of the earth in Peru, and the European offering it for 
sale at Jeffries’. Both have an immortal soul inspired to life 
by the breath of divinity; both possess eyes and two hands, 
and both are destined to live upon this earth. 

Alas! I turn away in silence; admire our cultivation of 
mental and physical abilities, and offer up a tear to the fate 
of our black, yellow and brown brothers, because similar 
powers in them are choked and strangled and disqualified for 
any higher uses. 

I was once told that the glory of our generation was 
attributed to a spiritual enlightenment responsible for a wide 
tolerance and forbearance. Would it not prove a source of 


DIARY 173 

great fame to some people, were learning, wealth and might 
to increase charity and human kindness? And would not 
Europe, with all her intellect and power, appear for these 
same reasons to other portions of the globe like a new race 
of demi-gods? 

We finished the evening at tea investigating Argand larnps 
of all descriptions. Their advantage lies in a wick which 
burns around a tube fixed inside a glass funnel higher than 
the flame, with an air current beneath to prevent flickering 
and smoke. There is a paper screen on top, till now of 
French manufacture. The good inventor, however, spoke of 
his lamps too soon, and somebody copied them and tried to 
claim the invention, involving poor Argand in a law-suit 
which cost him twelve thousand guilders. 


Saturday, Sept. 16 

To-day, at breakfast, I received an invitation from the 
Duchess of Reventlow to go to Richmond, and another to 
Windsor, from my dear La Fite. Both gave me great pleasure, 
and I gladly accepted. The good family Webb also evinced 
the genuine nature of their friendship towards me, for I 
received a letter, a pheasant and two partridges, with 
Diana’s compliments, requesting me to accept the visit of 
two lady friends of theirs from Chelsea, who would be only 
too glad to show me kindness in their name. I was greatly 
touched, sent a reply, and prepared to leave for Windsor 
about midday, taking your brother and young Mr. Hurter 
along with me, as our English is none too fluent, and I want to 
know that he is in good company while I am at Mme. La Fite’s. 

We drove first to Mr. Seddon’s, a cabinet-maker, and 
before leaving for Windsor I must tell you a little about our 
unusual visit there . He employs four hundred apprentices on 
any work connected with the making of household furniture- 
joiners, carvers, gilders, mirror- workers, upholsterers, gird- 
lers— who mould the bronze into graceful patterns— and 


174 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

locksmiths. All these are housed in a building with six wings. 
In the basement mirrors are cast and cut. Some other depart- 
ment contains nothing but chairs, sofas and stools of every 
description, some quite simple, others exquisitely carved and 
made of all varieties of wood, and one large room is full up 
with all the finished articles in this line, while others are 
occupied by writing-tables, cupboards, chests of drawers, 
charmingly fashioned desks, chests, both large and small, 
work- and toilet-tables in all manner of wood and patterns, 
from the simplest and cheapest to the most elegant and 
expensive. 

But the scheme of a dining-room designed both for prac- 
tical use and for ornament took my fancy most. It contains 
a mahogany table some feet in breadth, of which a third on 
either side is reserved for drawers, and with an opening in 
the middle like most writing-tables have. Attached to the 
wall is a bracket on which to stand glasses and salvers. And 
by pressing a spring in the place where the drawers are 
indicated by attractive fittings, a lead-lined compartment 
flies open with shelves, where wine-bottles are kept cool in 
water, with the monteith fixed on the other side. There were 
two foot-stools of the same wood, and made to match, and 
fine dark marble vases with lids to them on the side. In these 
foot-stools there are two tiny cupboards, one lined with sheet- 
iron and neat giillers, on which plates can be heated by the 
red-hot iron beneath them; the other is meant to keep salt 
cellars and other table utensils. The vases up above hold 
spoons, knives and forks, and their fastening is carefully 
made on the side facing the wall. These three pieces are 
extremely tasteful in ornamenting a dining-room. 

Charming dressing-tables are also to be 'seen, with vase- 
shaped mirrors, occupying very little space, and yet con- 
taining all that is necessary to the toilet of any reasonable 
person. Close-stools, too, made like a tiny chest of drawers, 
with a couple of drawers in, decorative enough for any room. 
Numerous articles made of straw-coloured service wood and 


DIARY 


175 


charmingly finished with all the cabinet-maker’s skill. 
Chintz, silk and wool materials for curtains and bed-covers; 
hangings in every possible material; carpets and stair-carpets 
to order; in short, anything one might desire to furnish a 
house; and all the workmen besides and a great many seam- 
stresses; their own saw-house too, where as many blocks of 
fine foreign wood lie piled, as firs and oaks are seen at our 
saw-mills. The entire story of the wood, as used for both 
inexpensive and costly furniture and the method of treating 
it, can be traced in this establishment. 

Seddon, foster-father to four hundred employees, seemed 
to me a respectable man, a man of genius, too, with an 
understanding for the needs of the needy and the luxurious; 
knowing how to satisfy them from the products of nature and 
the artistry of manufacture; a man who has become intimate 
with the quality of woods from all parts of the earth, with the 
chemical knowledge of how to colour them or combine their 
own tints with taste, has appreciated the value of all his own 
people’s labour and toil, and is for ever creating new forms. 

We were horrified to hear that three years ago the whole 
building was burned down with all its storage, and we were 
not a little surprised at seeing it working again on such a scale. 

Two wishes rose within me. Firstly, for time to examine all 
these works, and then to see the tools with which they are 
made, manufactured in Birmingham; for I handled some of 
them here, and regarded them as most valuable and 
beneficent inventions. 

From here we went to Christ’s Hospital, an old but very 
large and beautiful edifice, where we were just in time to see 
the boys playing in the court. They were wearing dark blue, 
according to ancient tradition, yellow stockings and white 
collars, like our clerics have. 

Edward vi founded it for orphans, and Charles ii added a 
mathematical training college for forty boys to learn all 
about navigation. 

Thousands of children receive good instruction here; men 


176 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

to teach the boys, women for the girls. All the boys are 
taught Latin, Greek, mathematics and writing, and then 
put on to manual work, which they may choose for them- 
selves. That is why foreigners often refer with such surprise 
to the book collection and language knowledge of English 
artisans; why a shoemaker for instance, a brewer or a baker 
read Virgil and Homer. 

This institute for the instruction of orphans caused me to 
revere the memory of good King Edward vi. Fluent as he 
was in seven tongues, and having acquired all the learning 
of his age, he had savoured the happiness of knowledge. So 
he wanted to give children, born with ability and robbed of 
the good fortune of their parents’ support, a substitute, not 
merely by feeding them and teaching them a craft with 
which to earn a livelihood, but by opening out a path through 
the medium of their intellect to the enjoyment of higher 
studies. I poured forth blessings on his dust, and on all 
benefactors who so generously contribute to this excellent 
grant, right up to the present day. 

I blessed Sir John Frederick who had a hall built where 
the children can stretch their legs in winter or on rainy days. 

We still had some time to spare, so went over the Foundling 
home; this has been reproached for its over-lavish expenditure 
on buildings, with the result that fewer children can be 
accommodated. I did not think it extravagant, but large 
and healthy for the poor creatures, who also had their 
recreation before meals. The entrance lay on the far side of 
a large square between two long, two-storied buildings; the 
square on either side then extended into lawns, bounded 
likewise by similar buildings. The girls were playing all 
kinds of games on one side of the large lawns, the boys on 
the other; they looked bright and attractive and very 
healthy. Approximately ten boys were harnessed to a roller, 
which they were lustily trailing across the sand so as to level 
it. Their brown clothes bound with red, and the girls’ 
white pinafores made a pleasant sight. 


DIARY 


177 


It occupies a healthy situation at the far end of the city, 
and only the main building has three stories; half of the 
second one rests on an arcade supported by columns, which 
gives the place an attractive aspect. 

The elder girls had laid the tables in very pretty spacious 
dining-rooms; everything was white and spotless; other 
girls did the waiting; the meal only consisted of one course 
of mutton boiled with barley, but it is so well prepared, and 
served in such quantities, that with their good bread and 
mug of beer besides, the children could not want anything 
better. 

We were also shown over the bedrooms, where the beds 
were so cleanly, the air so pure, and everything looked so 
nice, that I fancied they were symbolic of the nation’s best 
characteristics. 

The directors’ council room is hung with tablets stating 
the names and contributions of benefactors— amounts from 
fifty to sixteen thousand guineas; no one year passes without 
numerous donations of two or three thousand, and there are 
always plenty of a hundred. 

London: your foundling home, the education of your 
orphans, the philanthropy which tends your poor women in 
labour and your wretched lunatics are distinctive traits of 
your charity, wisdom and great-heartedness. Faults you 
must possess while human kind inhabits you— imperfection 
is our common lot— but how much good, what measure of 
perfection is yours in incalculable small ways and in larger 
issues catering for the common good. The blessings of a 
generous heart remain with you to the end. 


WINDSOR, 

Early Sept. ly 

I arrived here yesterday at six in the evening; encountered 
none of their so-called ‘highwaymen,’ which I was very much 
afraid I should, but came through a very lovely district and 
enjoyed dri\ ing at will wherever I chose to, in a comfortable 

M 


178 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

pretty carriage for three, drawn by two horses and a friendly 
coachman on the box, for fifteen shillings a day. 

What a varied assortment of villas and gardens, of coaches 
and riders we passed before the royal standard on the round 
tower appeared from out a lovely wood, announcing our 
approach to Windsor. 

The large Gothic castle commands a fine situation on an 
eminence, with a splendid prospect on all sides. William the 
Conqueror selected this hill for its invigorating air and fine 
large woodlands all around, which he extended by laying 
waste several villages, small towns and monasteries, against 
which Pope quite lately exclaimed in his poem, Windsor 
Forest, with the words ‘Proud Nimrod first the bloody chase 
began, a mighty hunter and his prey was man 

After William several kings added to this castle, until the 
buildings grew to such a size that it stands like a fortress on 
the brow of the hill, very pleasing to the eye, a monument 
of former royal prestige and ancient architecture. The town, 
lying on the hill-slope and along the plain, stretches charmingly 
down to the winding Thames, from whose shores it takes its 
name. Winding Shore, which in time has become Windsor. 
We found pretty streets and houses there, took rooms at an 
inn called ‘Old Windsor Castle,’ and I sent straight to 
Mine. La Fite’s with whom I had invited myself to tea. 

The way to her house was already very pleasant, as it took 
me through two lovely streets towards a gateway over the 
old castle moat, past St. George’s Chapel, the engravings of 
which arouse such admiration, then through another Gothic 
gateway, to be welcomed in most friendly fashion by Mme. La 
Fite, whose quiet abode lay on this gentle slope between two 
tiny gardens, a seat of modest virtue; and I was all the more 
delighted at her forethought in gathering a select company 
to meet me — ladies of very high standing, others of noble 
rank or court circles, and a very delightful member of the 
scholarly world were present there. 

' There follow fourteen lines from Pope’s Windsor Forest in German translation. 


DIARY 179 

The first of these a Mrs. Fielding, daughter of Lady 
Finch, head governess to the royal princesses. 

Miss Finch, her sister, the queen’s maid of honour. Both 
ladies of noble stature and comportment. Mrs. Fielding more 
vivacious, and with more fire in her large blue eyes than I 
imagined possible in an English woman; and Miss Finch less 
reserved in her advances than I had been led to expect from 
English ladies. But I was at once told that Mrs. Fielding had 
been educated by the eminent Mrs. Beaumont, and was the 
original in this lady’s didactic writings of the ever-recurring 
character. Lady Sensee, and further, she really brings up her 
three daughters according to her own precepts. If her hand 
is as successful in guiding her own children as Mrs. Beaumont 
was with her, Mrs. Fielding will be an enviable mother, and 
the whole world would follow Mrs. Beaumont’s educational 
methods. Miss Finch was still in the service of the Court, and 
I must confess I was inwardly surprised at the heavily 
dressed hair, particularly in an English woman, and a 
maid of honour at that. Mine must be a singular and 
specific conception of beauty, for I do not find the general 
taste in pompous hair-dressing, caps and hats, at all pretty 
and graceful. Perhaps the fact that I had pictured English 
women like the originals of Reynolds’ pictures, nobly and 
simply attired with Greek coiffure, accounts for this. But 
the liberty of Great Britain is also swayed by fashion’s 
sceptre. 

Miss Burney, daughter of Mr. Burney, who made the great 
musical tour and criticisms, is herself famous as authoress 
of Miss Evelina and Cecilia. Your brother and I thought her a 
true ideal in figure, culture, expression, dress and bearing. I 
do not think the fine mind and gentle disposition for which 
she is conspicuous can ever be surpassed. She and both the 
ladies speak perfect French. This little friendliness made it 
a really delightful evening for me, as my English is none too 
good, so that I should have missed a great deal of the talk 
over their embroidery. 


i8o SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Mrs. Fielding was an intelligent, broad-minded woman. 
Miss Finch was much elated at any especially good remark 
and appeared to regard her sister as a model; I was much 
amused at my dear friend La Fite’s clever idea of introducing 
me— the contributor of some writings on young women’s 
education and authoress of some didactic novels, or so I 
flatter myself! — to an English masterpiece of education, and 
to the noble novelist Burney, who must have thought 
herself the embodiment of profound scholarship. 

Here was a picture, too, of a first-class English tea-party. 
The tone was intimate and refined: the hostess busies herself 
delightfully and just enough to allow of grace and deftness. 
While Mme. La Fite prepared tea, the ladies continued their 
fancy work, sewing bands of fine muslin. While we sipped 
at our tea, pretty and practical discussions took place, in the 
course of which I was asked a number of questions about 
France and the Countess Genlis; the topic then turned to 
travel, and Mrs. Fielding and her sister spoke of their voyage 
to Lisbon with their mother to visit a sick brother there, 
returning, however, by way of the Pyrenees and Paris. 

At the end of the visit the ladies very courteously expressed 
a desire that I would call on them. I asked them to let me 
pay my respects to-morrow, and was once again witness to 
the sanctity of the English Sabbath; for in all seriousness, 
yet with utmost politeness, they replied that they never 
received or paid calls on a Sunday, though I might choose 
any other day convenient to me. 

I went to bed in very happy mood; your brother again 
expressed his gratitude to me for having made this trip; and 
again I was compelled to admire English precision, for in his 
bedroom a tiny bag was fixed at the head of the bed to hold 
a watch. 

We did not subscribe to the habit of considering tea- 
parties as supper. The landlord was greatly surprised at our 
wanting any more to eat, and we, for our part, were 
astonished at the pleasure he evinced on gaining a supper. 


rJIARY 


i8i 


My joy on opening my window was inexpressibly great, 
lor as we are on the third floor, and our rooms look on to the 
park, across the beautiful lawn strewn with villages and 
country seats, and the town running down to the valley, I 
could see the splendid slopes of the forest of Windsor, and 
repeated Pope’s words: 

‘Here hills and valleys, woods and meadows, earth and 

water seem to battle anew. . . 

1 breakfasted with the dear friend I have so long desired 
to meet; not merely because I was beholden to her for the 
compliment she paid me in translating my Sternheim into 
French, but because I had a high opinion of her from her 
writings and scholarship, her piety and her own fortunes. 
It will be a long time before I partake of such a breakfast, 
never again perhaps will so much true wisdom and loyal 
friendship proffer me a hand. 

Mme. La Fite gave me one of her hats to wear, and I 
accompanied her to church at Windsor Castle, as building 
is proceeding in the cathedral. I beheld the royal family, the 
court and the service: witnessed the pious and edifying 
devotions of the monarch, his esteemed consort and his 
children in the house of the King of kings, and noticed the 
respect which springs from every Briton’s heart towards the 
royal house, and a nobleness and simplicity in everything. 

The service is stirring, and the alternate singing, with 
organ accompaniment, of the psalms and litany by the choir- 
boys and choir-men, who are distinguished by their seating 
and their different vestments, is charming; only certain 
phrases and prayers seemed to recur too often. The sermon 
was read. We women had large psalters before us in which 
we followed the prayers. The congregation behaves well and 
reverently, as God’s house demands. In the women’s pews, 
owing to the constant kneeling, there are round prayer-stools 
of plaited straw, like flat beehives on top, two feet high. 
They were all neatly and quietly dressed, and amongst them 
was a number of very lovely figures. 


i 82 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

This chapel with its magnificent hall adjoining are both 
dedicated to St. George, and were painted by Anton Verrio, 
a Neapolitan painter, under Charles ii. The altar-piece in 
the chapel presents the Last Supper. On the ceiling, Christ s 
ascension, and on the surrounding walls the kindly miracles 
of the Saviour are depicted; in which the artist is reproved 
for painting himself in a black wig, with Kneller and Coopei, 
who helped him at the work, as friends of the palsied asking 
to be healed. 

The royal dais is very fine, ornamented with excellent 
sculpture, gilt and crimson velvet, and the carving over the 
pews is very highly valued. 

After the service the choristers had an audience in the 
royal guardroom next to the hall, and their majesties spoke 
kindly to them all, while their pretty wives awaited them on 
benches in St. George’s Hall. How I wished some choristers 
from German foundations had been present after the audience, 
so as to see their faces as these gentlemen in their long, 
handsome surplices took their little wives by the arm and 
led them home. 

We looked over this hall, considered one of the finest halls 
in Europe, with some English provincials. It is 108 feet long, 
and, like the chapel, dedicated to the Order of St. George, 
more commonly called the Order of the Garter, to which 
there is a reference in every picture. Charles ii is painted on 
the ceiling wearing the dress of the Order, stepping with his 
right foot on a lion’s head. England, Scotland and Ireland 
surround him; religion and plenty are holding crowns above 
his head, and at the side stand Mars and Mercury with the 
symbols of peace and war. The royal government stands 
opposite him, supported by religion and eternity. Justice, 
strength, moderation and shrewdness beat rebellion and 
faction aside, and a Cupid bears the riband with the 
inscription, 'Honi soil qui mal y pense' This is quite a clever 
conception and retains the old legend of this Order’s founda- 
tion, upheld some centuries ago (now denied by modern 


DIARY ^^3 

English historians), that Edward iii picked u}) die beautiful 
Countess Salisbury’s garter at a ball, bound it round his 
foot while speaking the above— all of which is now held to 
be pure hetion, and the foundation of the Order is ascribed 
to the more serious motive of a war which Edward iii wage 
against France in 1345; and in order to ensure the services 
of the already warlike nobles he enlisted their piidc by tiis 
distinctive honour, appealing to the religious spirit of t le 
age by leading it in the steps of a holy knight for patron ol 
the Order, while the garter was to be the insignia worn by 
the knights. This king is painted on the side- wall, while 
the captive monarchs taken by his son, John ii of France 
and David Bruce of Scotland, are led into his presence. He 
appears to be enjoying his son’s triumphal entry, which is 
staged entirely in Roman fashion, with slaves and captives 
marching before the chariot. Verrio, keeping to the original 
version, however, has placed a lovely lady as Countess 
Salisbury in one corner weaving laurel garlands foi the king. 
Pictures of St. George and William iii may also be seen there. 

A servitor belonging to the royal castle led us round the 
apartments. They are all large and lofty— either Charles i 
or his wife, Catherine of Portugal, appear on most of the 
ceiling pieces in various attitudes, in company with this or 
that deity, who is more solicitous for them than are all their 
chamberlains and waiting-women; but Charles of England is 
never portrayed as Mars or Apollo like Louis xiv at the 
Trianon. I cannot describe all the rooms, dear^ children, 
but they contain a treasure-house of great masterpieces, such 
as Van Dyck, Honthorst, Guido, Paul Veronese, Lely, 
Holbein, Nicolas Poussin, Garlo dolci Parmigiano, Raphael, 
Breughel, Snyders, Quentin Metsys and others. 

Gurious, and very attractive, is an old royal chamber with 
Gothic windows in which graded wooden benches are 
arranged, whence glorious views may be enjoyed. Another 
chamber is entirely hung with knotted tapestry. 

The knotted threads are made by the women at court here. 


i84 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and a woman in Germany, very respectable, whose circum- 
stances are not too happy, makes hangings out of them for 
which the queen pays and supports her; thus the court ladies 
are kept diligently employed. 

We were also shown a bed and chairs in magnificent 
embroidery made by poor girls who learned to embroider at 
her majesty’s expense, attained great proficiency and thus 
virtue and talent were not wasted: apartments full of valuable 
Japanese porcelain of the first order followed. In one room, 
closed by a half-lattice door, the French standard, made of 
white — embroidered with golden lilies, lies on the centre 
table annually brought in state to Windsor by the Duchess of 
Marlborough’s family on 2nd Aug., so that the honourable 
memory of the great Marlborough’s victories over the French 
armies, especially at Blenheim, is kept alive on the one hand, 
while on the other, the family shows its recognition of the 
fact, that for the manor of Stow and Woodstock, which bring 
in five thousand pounds sterling, and the handsome castle 
of Blenheim erected by the nation, it is indebted to the royal 
grace. A very odd fellow gave me a cutting from a paper, 
dated 14th September, about it, so that I might read the 
nation’s opinion of the king’s generosity to Marlborough. ^ 

Having read this article I said that had this modern 
fanatic against Marlborough’s renown only known that the 
Germans equally disapprove of this general, he might have 
strengthened his bitter observations. 

But from such fruitless political remarks let me turn to the 
room in which portraits of the greatest beauties at Charles ii’s 
court are hung, named accordingly ‘Room of Beauties.’ 
There are some twenty portraits of very charming women. 
I thought a Lady Gramont the fairest of the fair, and at the 
same time I enjoyed the contemplation of some pretty 
English women who were with us in this room. I tried to 
discover whether a period of one hundred years had made 

^ There follows a translation of the extract, decrying Marlborough’s ‘ clumsy 
edifice.’ 


DIARY 


185 

a marked ditrcrcncc; but in church during the morning, and 
here again, 1 had seen faces with just such perfect features; 
and the minds of these ladies of Charles ii’s period, practised 
as they were only in court fripperies or in the passions, made 
the painted portraits look shrewder, more sparkling, more 
pensive, altogether haughtier — lit up with the memories of 
their admirers — than the chaste and natural rustie counten- 
ances of those around me now could ever do — and by the 
grace of God they will remain unspoiled. 

Once more I surveyed the exterior of this old castle. Its 
prinee and architect were eertainly possessed of greatness, 
if only in the choice of this hill and execution of the plans. 
The Gothic forms have taken on a friendly aspect now that 
the moats are filled up or turned into gardens, and the high 
ramparts have been torn down, and its dignified grandeur 
is now majestic rather than fearful. The large round castle 
tower, built like an amphitheatre on the highest summit of 
the hill, looks really beautiful, for it is kept in good repair, 
and the hill, planted with trees, bushes and flowers, is laid 
out in charming walks. 

Mr. Hurter and your brother climbed the narrow steps 
to enjoy the fine view over twelve counties from the tower’s 
highest point; also saw the rooms in which John, King of 
France, David, King of Scotland, and the Marshal of Belleisle^ 
were kept prisoner. The beautifully wrought chain-armour 
tunics belonging to the first two, which they were wearing 
on that luckless day of their captivity, have been preserved, 
John’s being adorned with France’s golden lilies and David’s 
with Scotland’s golden thistles; Belleisle’s marshal’s staff and 
ribbon were not alluded to, however. The governor of 
Windsor has to live there, which he can do with ease, as it 
contains a number of good-sized rooms; the smaller and less 
comfortable ones being allotted to State prisoners. 

Meanwhile Mme. La Fite and I went to Miss Burney’s; 
she has a very choice book collection, from which I should 

^ Sic. 


i86 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

steal Samuel Johnson’s Dictionnaire of the best thoughts and 
passages from English poets. This remarkable man and 
greatest of scholars during the present king’s reign— or so 
contemporary evidence insists — respected Miss Burney s 
intellect, was her friend, called her his daughter, and from 
her worthy father, who as doctor of music undertook his 
wonderful travels on behalf of this science, obtained permis- 
sion for her to live for a time with Mme. Xhrale in Streatham, 
where in the select society of the place she displayed, exercised 
and enriched her intellect. Indeed she speaks of him with 
grateful reverence, and I too have become devoted to him, 
since I realised how he struggled to the fore in the face of 
two tremendous obstacles — poverty and sickness for in his 
youth he was so badly operated upon for ulcers on the neck that 
he never saw again with his left eye nor heard with his left ear. 

My whole discussion with Miss Burney was extremely 
pleasant, and it is certainly doubtful whether her personal 
grace, her mental accomplishments or her modesty merit 
first place, but all noble-minded rational beings would delight 
in her acquaintance and feel at home with her. As I was 
thinking about her, despite my small amount of English, I 
discovered an expression which fits her qualities excellently: 
‘Darling of virtue,’ that is, ‘Liebling der Tugend.’ 

My son, Mr. Hurter and I lunched with Mme. La Fite. 
We had a pleasant English meal, and her estimable maid, 
a country parson’s daughter, clad in the fashion of Mr. 
Archenholz’ excellent description, waited on us. 

Afterwards we visited Mme. de Luc, and arrived at her 
house at the very moment when her excellent husband had 
returned from his travels in Germany. 

I cannot possibly give my beloved daughters any idea of 
what this visit meant to me: firstly, making this gentle- 
man’s acquaintance in this delightful, isolated villa, further 
on entering a room whose windows look on to 
Windsor Castle and its superb terrace built by Queen 
Elizabeth, stretching 1870 feet beside the majestic pile. 


DIARY 


187 

where one of the finest views over the lhanies can be 
obtained; from the other windows a delicious English garden 
with clumps of clustering flowers, and a meadow with a swift 
stream flowing through, and some fine cows grazing there, 
can be seen. Mme. de Luc joined us then; a pretty woman, 
clever and kindly, a member of the Spenser and Marlborough 
family, who had already spent eight happy years in the circle 
of de Luc’s friends, for everyone enjoys this enlightened 
gentleman’s society, and guided by a tender regard for him 
was joined in wedlock. 

In this same Mr. de Luc’s company, with whom your 
father became acquainted in Geneva, 17695 on a visit to the 
former’s valuable natural history collection, winning his 
friendship by his learning and pleasant intercourse, who later 
came to stay with us in happier days at Coblenz, and in 
whose house in England I now sat at tea next to Mme. La 
Fite, a lady of unusual merits known to me from our cor- 
respondence during her sojourn in Holland and from her 
writings, I looked around me blissfully and rejoiced in the 
thought: 

‘That the bonds of a common respect for all that is 
virtuous, good and knowledgeable had brought four people 
together from such different quarters of Europe. Mme. La 
Fite, born in Altona and married in Holland; de Luc from 
Geneva and myself a Swabian. The proverb, “It’s an ill 
wind that blows no one any good” fitted us admirably: for 
Mme. La Fite, had she not lost her husband, I, had not a 
hard fate befallen me and mine, and de Luc without his 
country’s gross ingratitude would never have met on the 
blessed soil of liberty and sapient legislature.’ 

It was nice to be able to discuss our fatherland and friends 
together. For I had been in Altona and Geneva: had seen 
Mme. La Fite’s friends in Bordeaux and her brother in 
Altona and met Mr. de Luc in Geneva; was able to discuss 
the glaciers and Mont Blanc with him, and follow his eager 
information that he had had letters and that his suppositions 


i88 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

were correct: the mountain was accessible, and two natives 
of Chamonix were the first amongst mortal men, as long as 
the mountain endures, to attain its summit. Their names, 
Paccard and Balmat, would go down to posterity, and now 
the learned Mr. von Saussure would certainly complete his 
observations, which de Luc and his brother had begun twenty 
years ago. He is working at present on a great and important 
work about the atmosphere, in which he will certainly take 
up worthy Saussure’s discoveries. Mme. La Fite was able 
to talk about Paris and The Hague with me, and de Luc of 
the Rhine and Switzerland. He embraced my son, I his 
daughter. I asked after his great compatriot Zimmermann, 
in Hanover, and he inquired after the estimable and cultured 
Captain Trosson of Coblenz, who helped him investigate the 
mountains and dead volcanoes on the Rhine with such 
friendliness and quick intelligence. Alas! how the time flew 
in this abode, with kindness, learning and friendship for its 
companions. 

Happy de Luc! The learning of your worthy wife and 
daughter increase your pleasure in true philosophy; they 
realise the value of the labours of your mind; science and 
virtue abide with you, and calm, bright, beauteous nature 
is about you. 

We left this house to visit Dr. Lind, a friend of Mr. Hurter’s. 

It will be a long time before I meet so fine a couple as 
this man and his wife, and greater kindness or willingness 
are not to be had. Mr. Lind was ship’s doctor with the great 
Captain Cook on his first voyage round the world, and 
afterwards stayed three years in China, whence he returned 
with just as many curios and remarkable information as 
from his previous tour of the whole globe. 

Grief assails me as, like Tantalus, I survey before me all 
* those things for which my curious soul is thirsty, and like him 
I am compelled by circumstance, without having quaffed, 
to break off and turn away; for who would not avail himself 
of this estimable man’s gracious manner to hear his observa- 


DIARY 189 

tions on nature and the arts in tlie five divisions of the 
universe. 

Aceident took us to Mr, Lind’s just as a young scholar 
from Iceland had called on him, who spoke so warmly of his 
native land that we concluded: it is quite evident that Iceland 
glows with internal fire! He wants to make his beloved 
eountry, which is almost as large as England, better known; 
and our astonishment was obvious as he told us about the 
six hundred original writings by different scholars, and the 
printing-presses of ancient times in Iceland, at the same time 
showing us a prayer-book in which the capitals were German 
and the small letters Latin. 

Mr. Lind afterwards showed us all the plants of our vast 
universe, painted by the Chinese, and a collection of 
pictures on which the structure, arrangements and occupa- 
tions of their monasteries are very aceurately presented and 
in most vivid colours; an ABC; a book about their birds and 
their domestic articles and clothing, with the names adjoining; 
whieh last year incited the French Due de Chaulnes to turn 
his chemical acquirements to the discovery of these colours, 
and his talent for painting to copying them. Mr. Lind also 
showed us in the upper story of his house a crowd of Chinese 
pots and works of art; the tools used by a painter and writer; 
a very finely worked case of knives, containing different 
instruments besides; a magnet and compass which show from 
the date that these were known by the Chinese long before 
us; a gold balance, accurate and perfeet to a degree; a 
mortar for the kitchen in which to pound things, always 
turned by foot; a sun-dial and a method of finding the 
altitude at midday as simply as possible; a coolish cushion 
for the cheeks made of light, fine, plaited wood, and fitted 
with joints, so that it can be raised and lowered at will. 
Mr. Lind also lit some perfumed wooden twigs plaeed in 
tiny porcelain flower-pots just one finger high, to show us how 
the Chinese worship and offer incense to their household 
gods. He also showed us a number of vases cleverly made of 


igo SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

rice-paper, besides hundreds of other things which passed all 
too quickly before us. We then arranged to go to Mr. Herschel s 
at Eton to-morrow with Mr. Lind and Ihekhelm, the 
learned and lively Icelander. 


Monday, Sept. i8th 

A fine, happy morning! With La Fite, Mr. Lind, Ihekhelm, 
my son and Hurter to Eton, which is connected with Windsor 
by a bridge across the Thames, and filled me with longing 
to go there yesterday morning already, as from the castle 
windows I beheld the lofty Gothic church belonging to the 
school. 

We arrived at the college just at the hour when the royal 
scholars, founded by the good, but unfortunate, Henry vi 
in 1440, were having their recreation and wandering beneath 
the trees, wearing overcoats of the period. From this square 
we entered the inner quadrangle, which is very large and 
surrounded by four fine buildings, where the seventy pupils 
and their teachers live. The statue of their honourable but 
luckless founder stands, melancholy and contemplative, in 
the centre of the court. 

Beneath arcades we entered the library, supposed to be one 
of the most important in England. Our excellent Icelander 
displayed his knowledge of ancient tongues, for he was able 
to read manuscripts quite foreign to the librarians. He does 
credit to his native land, which he prizes so highly, and to 
the sovereign who allows him to travel. An old genealogical 
tree, written on a long, narrow parchment roll, showed traces 
of his mother-tongue, in the Danish associations reigning 
formerly in England. He spoke Icelandic and wrote some 
down for us; it seemed softer to me than my own language, 
and more melodious than English. 

My friend’s learning was concealed beneath a cloak of 
extreme modesty: she did not even betray the slightest 
fiimiliarity with anything, except when a look of attention 
and appreciation, as this or that author in the department of 


DIARY 


philosophical or classical literature was lauded or discussed, 
proved the contrary. 

The library apartments are line and everything is in good 
order. A number of people still send considerable collections 
here, and only recently the Chevalier Topham presented 
them with a valuable set of most beautiful drawings of all 
the wonders in ancient and modern Rome. 1 wo of the 
younger professors have to be in the library every day to 
bring out any books required. They are very helpful and 
polite. 

Grossing some very pleasant country, we very soon came to 
Slough, where Mr. Herschel and his estimable sister inhabit 
a solitary, simple dwelling. I was overcome by an intense 
feeling of respect on seeing this brother and sister — Mr. 
Herschel full of that humour and philanthropy befitting a 
noble, sapient man, his sister all gentleness, sensibility and 
humility; both through their close contact with the eonstella- 
tions are raised above all artificiality and conceit. On a 
small portion of meadowland there stands a simple wooden 
scaffolding where Mr. Herschel made the new discoveries 
which interested the entire learned world, and found the 
greatest of all the stars, which he named Uranus. Even the 
mechanism of this structure is witness to Herschel’s tender 
love for this science. Upon one side is fixed an enclosed 
chair, from which Herschel makes observations, and which 
can be screwed without his speaking a word or interrupting 
his observations, by a man sitting on the other side in a 
spacious box-like contrivance well protected against wind and 
weather, on Herschel’s ringing a bell when he wants to be 
raised higher, which also acts as signal when he is high 
enough. I seated myself in this chair with true reverence; 
the dear man himself raised it for me; I could see over his 
garden and the surrounding neighbourhood, beheld the 
heavens and wished I could be here during a bright starry 
night. 

Had Pope met Herschel, too, his poem on this vicinity 


192 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

would have been even lovelier and to the point, when he 
eulogises a worthy man in words I shall apply to Herschel. 

Happy the man whom this bright court approves, 

His Sov’reign favours and his Country loves; 

Happy next him who to these shades retires, . . . 

(He) Now marks the course of rolling orbs on high, 

O’er figured worlds now travels with his eye, . . . 

Or looks on heaven with more than mortal eyes.^ . . . 

As my glance fell on the broad horizon which Herschel’s 
eye penetrates through a thousand suns, I bade the heavens 
protect the brother and sister. 

At my request Mile. Herschel picked me a few daisies 
which were growing at the foot of this structure, and were all 
the more valuable for having chosen such a spot and such a 
hand to pluck them; for this hand takes notes and calcula- 
tions, as from this simple erection her great brother observes 
the most wonderful of God’s inanimate creatures. 

Inside I saw how his chamber communicates with the 
scaffolding, so that Herschel can move the pointers to two 
disks, in front of which his sister sits with astronomical charts 
before her, and notes which portion is being observed.— 
Can there be a finer mental communion between brothers 
and sisters than this? 

On dull days — a frequent occurrence with the English 
firmament, since an island is so placed as to afford free entry 
to mists and vagrant breezes— they prepare their observations 
for press; read and review the works appearing on astronomy, 
and entertain one another with music, in which both excel, 
and seem to believe in the harmony of all creation, although 
that of the higher spheres is quite inaudible. For me this 
room became a temple, with a garden leading into it for 
portico. 

I then sat down to the telescope through which Mile. 

1 Sophie quotes from Windsor Forest, 1 . 235 f., more fully, in prose translation. 


DIARY 


193 


Herschel had this spring discovered a comet; for this noble 
creature continued the astronomical researches during her 
brother’s trip to Hamburg, on a visit to his mother, so that 
science should lose nothing by the fulhlment of filial affections. 

I peeped through this telescope with real sympathy, and once 
more pondered some of the thoughts that had occurred to 
me as I sat in her brother’s seat up on the hill: ‘How often 
an important personage is replaced and nothing of importance 
done; from the thrones of the mighty down to the good 
craftsman’s latest habitat. It is not the place that counts 
then, but a soul replete with knowledge.’ 

We were then conducted into a hut specially built for the 
large catophic telescope designed and executed by Mr. 
Herschel, 40 feet long and 5 feet in diameter, which is to 
take a mirror weighing 1 000 pounds, cast and polished by him. 

My dear friend and I had the pleasure of seeing this worthy 
man approach us earthlings, through this remarkable 
telescope the while it lies earth-bound, for in a couple of 
months his spirit will soar with it to the utmost heights, 
in contemplation of a thousand new worlds and their planets, 
or, as Thomson says,^ ‘Philosophically uplifted, will span the 
breadth of heaven, and gaze upon the sparkling vault and 
view the planets rolling in their spheres, and then from these 
infinite, wondrous works transfer all thought to the Being at 
whose word all nature was set in motion.’ 

From this great man who, by his spirit and invention of 
excellent instruments, has perfected a science which has 
been the source of uninterrupted study during five mil- 
lenniums, we went straight to Mr. Jervais, the discoverer of 
a lost art, to which he gave new life and vigour; to wit, that 
of staining glass. 

I have already mentioned the lovely homes of London 
artists, where even the entrance to the hall is expressive of so 

1 Possibly from Thomson’s Fragment of a Poem on the Works and Wonders of 
Almighty Power, 1 . 21 ff. The idea recurs in Thomson : see Hymn to God's Power, 
Hymn for The Seasons, 1 . 61 ff., etc. 

N 


194 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

much. In the case of Mr. Jervais this was even more attractive 
to my mind, for instead of an open space in front of the steps, 
like the great London artists usually have, he has a dear little 
garden full of flowers before the house, leading straight into 
his sitting-room, where every window bears small paintings, 
emblems of his craft, just as other painters hang their 
pictures on the wall. His good wife was ill; so he led us right 
into his main room, where the windows look on to another 
part of the garden laid out, park-like, with all kinds of trees. 

In this room I was more convinced than ever how important 
a good memory is in contributing to one’s reputation for 
great knowledge and scholarship; for having immediately 
recognised in the magnificent stained-glass paintings adorning 
the room, Potter, Wouwerman, Steenkerk^ and other masters 
whose pictures I had seen in a gallery at The Hague and 
elsewhere, Mr. Jervais regarded me as a great art con- 
noisseur, despite the fact that all I did was to remember what 
I had but recently witnessed. 

These pictures possess incredible beauty, and all the 
masters are so accurately copied, both in drawing and colour, 
that they can be immediately recognised. The pieces I saw 
are as large as the glass in a State coach, and just as thick; 
the colours are all burnt in, but cut first on one side then on 
the other. The fine effect produced by these paintings in the 
large windows of this room, suffused by the quiet greenery 
of the park behind, is indescribable. 

Lady Grimore has an apartment on her estate containing 
eight window-paintings by Mr. Jervais, which cost her eight 
hundred guineas. Three-quarters of a sheet costs fifty pounds 
sterling, and paper royal two hundred. — The dancing girls 
of Herculaneum look charming in this room. 

He is besides working on a painting, eighteen feet high and 
eleven wide, for Windsor Chapel, which will come to two 
thousand guineas, representing the Resurrection, after an 
excellent picture by West, an example of the noblest and 

^ ? Steen, Steenwyck or Heemskerck, 


DIARY 


195 


most touching kind of flattery, if I may say so; for into the 
gloriole beneath the choir of angels jubilantly hailing Christ, 
West has inserted the portraits of the two royal princes, who 
died young, in the form of angels, and yet brothers, hastening 
hand-in-hand towards their Saviour and rejoicing with 
heavenly rapture. 

Mr. Jervais accepted all the marks of admiration and 
esteem with manly modesty, though he looked very pleased, 
and asked me if I had noticed the famous stained glass work 
in Dutch churches: then he told me that he had spent many 
years longing to acquire this art. He was the only son of a 
distinguished cleric, and was put to theology by liis father, 
which he studied, but drew, painted and became versed 
in chemistry at the same time; but as long as his father was 
alive he was not allowed to follow this bent. In the end he 
inherited a good income, and the first use he put it to was a 
tour of the Netherlands to see all the stained windows, 
paying the vergers good guineas for splinters of painted 
panes, which they let him have. With this treasure he 
returned and pursued this lost art until he arrived at a perfect 
mastery of it and so produced the greatest masterpieces. I 
told him his talents had nevertheless remained in the service 
of the Church, as he was painting so immense a picture of 
our Saviour.— He has no children and as yet no pupils.— I 
added, too, that the most noble act, worthy of any Briton, 
would be for him to write and hand down the history of his 
discoveries and leave instruction in this, his re-created art. 

I lunched alone with my estimable friend; but a company 
soon gathered, and Mr. de Luc joined us too, and the talk was 
most interesting and entertaining. Magnetism, which gains 
more and more ground daily, was also a topic of conversation, 
and Mr. d’Armand in Paris, a preacher who is looked upon 
as an atheist, and Lavater as a fanatic, were discussed for using 
magnetism and producing somnambulists, thus reviving the 
old story of the true and the false prophets. Then came the 
question of the time when we first met; of the fortunes of 


ig6 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

courts and princes; of the joys and sorrows of existence; of 
obstacles to our good and our well-being. 

* 

My noble La Fite is working on an excellent dialogue 

between a governess and her princess. 

I spent the evening at Lady Charlotte Finch s house with 
Mme. Fielding and three of her delightful young daughters, 
aged fourteen, eleven and nine years respectively, Miss Finch 
and Miss Burney. 

That simple, pretty room — oh! — no detail of that evening 
will escape my memory, for everything there seemed in 
accordance with my heart, mind and my own personal 
tastes and interests, as I should have chosen for my ideal. 

Picture to yourselves, dear children. Lady Finch as a lady 
nearing the sixties; yet still possessing the delicate features 
of a former beauty, with an expression as though kindness 
were her practice and all the evidence of good court breeding. 

Mrs. Fielding some thirty years old; tall, beautiful and 
dignified in bearing; large intelligent eyes, and a vivacity 
curbed by a considerable tenderness; with a very confiding 
manner, cultured and charitable, at the same time very 
frank and open. 

Miss Finch, nineteen years of age; also tall, slim and with a 
real English figure; but I thought her charming personality 
could have been more becoming in the delicate English style 
of simple coiffure than with the fussy style she was obliged 
to adopt for the sake of etiquette. Her expression was one of 
frank, trusting kindness and a spark of satisfaction at accom- 
plishments attained; for she is advanced enough in pastel 
painting to make a perfect portrait of her mother. 

The three Miss Fieldings, three figures blooming with 
perfect beauty, whose features show a keen desire to learn, 
mingled with a born mental alertness, and coupled with a 
lovely grace of movement. 

My friend La Fite, gifted with real learning, which, however, 


197 . 


DIARY 

as I said before, she hides beneath the thickest cloak of 
profound modesty. She is tall and well built; has a longish, 
interesting face, bearing many traces of grief at the loss ol 
her husband and children, and yet having a clever, thoughtful 
and kind expression. English dress suits her very well. 

Miss Burney, as I described her the first time, the ideal 
English Miss; quick-witted, gentle, sensitive, virtuous and 
with great human insight, in such combination, and all 
these qualities so perfect, yet always checked and controlled 
so that they should only appear like delicious sprites just at 
the right time and for a fleeting moment. 

Your mother, with the merit of admiring all these people 
and their qualities, and knowing how to value them; with a 
fervent sensation of joy at being amongst them and glad of 
their esteem. Imagine me now between Mrs. Fielding and 
Miss Burney on the sofa; the oldest Miss Fielding pouring 
out tea; a younger one handing round bread and butter; 
the other women are working. — Education is being discussed; 
the value of knowing geography, chronology and history.— 
Mrs. Fielding admits that she lays great stress on these and 
tries to urge such knowledge on her daughters (she has no 
sons) in every possible way; in which she regards the game 
of questions as very profitable, giving us a test then and 
there, in which the young women showed themselves 
intelligent and charming. 

I have double grounds for complaint of my lack of a 
fulsome and accurate memory, and for dissatisfaction with 
myself for not having taken more pains about it; for then I 
could relate the whole game to you; name the King of 
England and the year of the nice little anecdote about a 
friend who, when he was encircled by spies and no one could 
speak with him, sent him a present of golden spurs as a hint 
that the king must in haste flee the place of his destruction. 
The second Miss Fielding had set her mother this one; and 
since twenty questions about the century, portion of the 
globe, country concerned, reign of the prince, should the 


igS SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

idea have historical bearings, and about the nature of the 
main idea, are always allowed, it was guessed soon aftei the 
discovery that metal was involved at the seventeenth 
question. — This game presupposes quite a vast knowledge; 
for through this alone at Mannheim, Frau v. Dalbeig 
discovered that Homer’s left eye-socket was the object 
thought of. 

My second source of displeasure lies in the fact that when 
I was asked to think of something from ancient or modern 
history and set it, the lack of accurate historical data deprived 
me of the pleasure of telling this family, in the course of the 
game, a truth they would certainly have appreciated, namely, 
that I know that the Fieldings are descended from a Count 
Gottfried v. Habsburg-Laufenburg-Rhinfelden, who went 
to England in the thirteenth century due to disagreements 
with his family, and served under Henry iii, received an 
office at court and married Mathilde Colville, daughter ol a 
good house; as he only retained half his surname — that is, of 
Rhinfelden— Felden, which in English became Fielding, it 
would certainly have been a nice use of the question game; 
especially since in the person of the archduke a grandson of 
the Habsburg house visited Windsor. 

They observed the efforts I was making while I thought, 
were all silent, and naturally awaited something very special 
from the good opinion they had formed of me; and behold. 
Mine, de La Roche had got into difficulties, which further 
hindered me in casting around for another idea, though one 
was in my mind, and substituting it: so I confessed to a search 
after one of my pet stories which eluded me. Mme. Fielding 
and my dear La Fite showed extreme tact and sensibility 
on this occasion, for they gave a turn to our former entertain- 
ment by making inquiries about somebody in Windsor. 

I tell my l^eloved daughters and friends this tale, so that 
when they luring up their children they should lay great store 
by steady memory exercises. It might fail their young 
people on some occasion, when their honour and fortune 


DIARY 


199 


would lose just as much as my conceit sulFcred to-day; and 
there are but few Fieldings and La Fites to set one up again 
so carefully, without increasing one’s embarrassment by 
caustic jokes, secret sniggers and whispers. 

Since lunch in England is at four o’clock, supper generally 
falls out; at seven one partakes of tea and bread and butter, 
and the tea-visits often last till eleven o’clock, when one goes 
home to an easy sleep undisturbed by indigestion. 

I will just mention the neat stands for work-baskets which 
have just arrived at Lady Fielding’s, consisting of three 
smooth round legs made of mahogany, or of any other wood 
attractively painted, placed next to one another and fastened. 
The pretty embroidered work-baskets or neat flower-vases 
placed on them in the corner of the room form a charming 
decoration, and they are very convenient to carry to and fro 
for working purposes and take up very little space. 

This, dear children, was a really lovely day and ended up 
with some news which, not only metaphorically, but literally, 
almost crowned it all: for to-morrow I am to have the honour 
of an audience with the queen. 


Tuesday^ Sept, ig 

I was full of excitement without feeling in the least afraid, 
for the queen was famed for her kindness and virtue; this 
made me just as confident as I was awed. The idea that I 
was to see and speak to Queen Charlotte of England, whom 
I had so long admired, at close quarters upon English soil, 
kept me awake for quite a long while. The circumstances 
linked by fate so as to bring about this day memorable 
amongst its fellows from out cycles of dreary ones, remained 
more satisfactorily defined in my mind than did the Fielding 
V. Laufenburg story; but as our good Karschin says, that 
may well be because ‘Sorrow cuts furrows into the heart 
with a diamond plough; hence it is that calamity makes such 
accurate narrative material.’ 


200 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Tuesday evening 

At eight o’clock, during prayers and afterwards in the ante- 
chamber, the thought struck me that I had beheld their 
Majesties and the princesses humbly prostrate before God, 
and now I saw them full of magnanimity towards me. I 
was fully aware of the honour done to me, for I was not 
unacquainted with the laws for the ordering of humanity 
as introduced by an all-wise Deity to mankind, though I 
clearly felt my heart incline before their virtue. Rather 
Fate has granted them the highest position in a great 
monarchy, and this distinction made by Providence, in itself 
merits the highest esteem from the community; I, however, 
admired rather the moral onus they had imposed upon 
themselves. As my first impression of the queen was gained 
from a picture of her and two of her children, bearing the 
inscription, ‘Good queen, good mother,’ this impression was 
revived and accompanied by the tenderest of emotions as I 
beheld her surrounded by four princesses. 

She is of good medium height; a true impersonation of the 
spirit of orderliness; a generous condescension, or rather 
friendly sympathy, with her fellow-beings, marks all her 
gestures, beautiful eyes and beautiful expression; a gracious 
countenance kept pure, I imagine, by the constant tender 
care of her children. 

She informed me with much grace of her satisfaction at 
making my acquaintance, and that she thought well of me and 
of my pen. 

The king, a most distinguished and handsome man, 
listened with kind attention while I spoke with his worthy 
consort, and addressed me very graciously, adding, however, 
that as ‘an authoress they should not speak to me in German.’ 
I replied that ‘I rejoiced for my Fatherland that their 
Majesties still loved its language.’ Thereupon he laid his 
hand upon his breast with fine, manly frankness, saying, ‘Oh, 
my heart will never forget that it pulses with German blood. 
All my children speak German.’ 


DIARY 


201 


At that moment the princesses approached. Her eldest 
Highness, a really lovely princess; Princess Augusta, lively 
and attractive; the two youngest ones very innocent and 
sweet. They all addressed me in German; are all kindly 
disposed, and their beauty proves that they are children born 
of purest love. Gracious inquiries were made after your 
father; amongst other things, I said he would be rejoiced to 
hear that I had had the good fortune to see Her Majesty the 
queen; he had had the pleasure many years ago, when the 
queen was eleven years old and betrothed already to the 
Prince of Wales. 

I cannot, nor am I willing to, repeat all that was said; but 
the manner in which their Majesties addressed my friend 
showed me some part of their fine characters; and if ever I had 
cause to praise the kind attentions of the great it was so to-day . 

The queen wishes me tomakeMme. Delany’s acquaintance, 
so I shall go and see her. 

Some thoughts from two poets of whom I am very fond 
occurred to me; and with Jacobi in his prologue to Elysium 
I spoke the words: 

‘She smiles at thee— of queens the very best. 

Of innocence the priestess blest!’ 

These thoughts were most compelling as I beheld her there 
encircled by her children, her piety and culture fitting 
her for great motherly devotion. 

The king recalled Thomson’s poem on Liberty. I fancied 
1 would rather have seen him King of England than of any 
other realm. He deserves the good fortune of an English 
monarch described by Thomson: 

To clothe the naked, feed the hungry, wipe 
The guiltless tear from lone affliction’s eye ; 

To raise hid merit, set the alluring light 
Of virtue high to view; to nourish arts.^ . . . 

1 FromJamesThomson’sIii^rij)', Part IV, Britain, 1 . ii6i ff. Quoted to 1 . 1176. 


202 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

I saw the Fielding family again; I saw Miss Burney again, 
and the king and queen’s departure for Kew; afterwards 
discovering that the villa inhabited by the royal personages 
is just as simple as their London home; the sofas and chairs 
seemed to be the only striking feature, the legs of which were 
ivory. 

We returned over the terrace, making vows on behalf of 
the royal house and the beautiful country which lay before 
us. 

I also saw the large chapel of St. George standing in line 
with the deanery and chapter-house, a beautiful pile, now 
completely restored, to my great joy. I could only inspect 
it rapidly; but if I were lucky enough to spend a few days more 
here, I would not leave any one of the burial chapels 
unvisited, even though by so doing I were to offer fresh 
evidence of the fact that Germans are so attached to tombs. 
There are some fine old stained-glass windows in it, com- 
parable to Mr. Jervais’ new art, and ancient and modern 
sculpture as at Westminster. 

Eight different burial-chapels are here, all testifying to 
the spirit of their founders’ epoch. As, amongst others, one 
is called Oxenbridge, the name is not spelt, but an ox, an 
N and a bridge beneath which is some water, are hewn over 
the entrance. The large portion of the church dedicated to 
the choir, and especially to the Order of St. George, happily 
escaped the ravages for which Cromwell’s troops were 
responsible in all the churches attended by royalty; the 
beautiful ancient wood-carving remained unscathed; and it 
appears they also preserved the knights’ banners; for some 
are hung above each stall, the earliest of which must hark 
back to Cromwell’s time. 

Edward iv built the choir, and is also buried here; as also 
Henry vi, murdered by Richard, Duke of Gloucester; 
Henry viii and his last wife, Jane Seymour, and the luckless 
Charles i have a resting-place here. As Pope in his poem says 
more ably than I would: 


DIARY 


203 


Let softer strains ill-fated Henry mourn, 

And palms eternal flourish round his urn; 

Here o’er the martyr-King the marble weeps, 

And fast beside him, once-fear’d Edward sleeps, . . . 
Make sacred Charles’s tomb for ever known A . . . 

The place is dark and the stone bears no inscription. A 
Countess of Lincoln had an alabaster monument placed 
here for her husband and herself; the finely worked cover 
on which they are lying is an object of great admiration. 
His feet have a dog for rest, while she leans hers against a 
monkey. 

I then visited Mmc. Delany, a venerable lady close on 
ninety years, combining the rarest talents and a most 
unusual fate. I found her pretty still and with an intellect 
keen enough for her to converse in good and fluent 
French with me. While I surveyed the pictures round the 
room her smile was very sweet, like my esteemed Mme. dc 
I’Isle Ferme’s in Bordeaux used to be, as she looked down 
at her spindle. ‘Those are no masterpieces you see there,’ 
she said; ‘merely copies I made while on my travels.’ You 
can imagine, children, how this explanation staggered me, 
and how carefully I followed her forefinger as she indicated: 
‘This is taken from a gallery in Italy, this one from the 
Netherlands and that one there comes from France.’ 

But my gaze remained intent on the portrait of Mme. de 
Sevigne, which the venerable and sensitive Delany copied in 
Grignan during a visit to the castle in the company of her 
friend, the Duchess of Portland, with the family scenes as 
described in the marquise’s inimitable letters all vividly 
before her. It is a pretty trick of fortune that just a year ago 
the authoress of the Eloge de Sevigne had invited me to her 
estate, and here I was to-day with one who had made a 
visual portrayal. The pictures, moreover, are well painted. 

I lingered over the portrait of Charles i.— ‘This,’ she said, 

1 See Windsor Forest, 1 . 31 1 f. 


204 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

‘I painted because of the story relating to Count Bernini, to 
whom Van Dyck’s original was sent to Rome for a statue of 
the king, and Bernini after the first glance, exclaimed, “Lord, 
what an unhappy physiognomy that is.” On being assured 
that it was very like the king, he was doubly grieved and 
asserted that he had either suffered some great distress, or 
that a sad fate was awaiting him.’ 

This was great material for discussion. But the large 
collection of cut-out plants and flowers sent me into ecstasies 
of a totally different kind. — This estimable lady has employed 
her talent in cutting out and painting, towards collecting 
nearly a thousand herbs and flowers from nature, cutting 
them out first of all, and afterwards tinting them according 
to the shades bestowed by this their loving mother. Every- 
thing, even the tiniest blossoms and stamens, is portrayed 
with artistry, truth and beauty. They are stuck on to black 
paper with little red bands : underneath stands the Latin and 
English plant name, and the place where she found the 
original is on the back. 

God forbid that my beloved daughters should ever weary 
of hearing attributes lauded, or of beholding virtue’s image, 
or that they should reprove this diary, dedicated to them, for 
having a surfeit of virtuous things. My soul would indeed 
grieve deeply if I thought there were people incapable of 
appreciating and approving this woman and the conduct of 
her life. I at least pray God to preserve within me a keen 
perception of nature’s beauty and of the merits of my fellow- 
beings to the last moment of my life. 

I was very happy and much moved as I sat by this lady’s 
side, with nearly a century behind her; whose features 
betrayed a kind and friendly spirit, as she sat surrounded by 
the abundant evidence of her noble industry and intellect. 
Quietly and wisely she accepted my expressions of regard; 
blessed me in motherly fashion, and said she would be pleased 
to see me again if I cared to come. Beautiful, indeed, the 
dawn of her youth must have been, since her life’s setting 


205 


DIARY 

glows with so much sweetness. A sweet, gentle niece lives 
with her; I do hope that the delicious creature may in all 
ways reflect her aunt. 

And how superb the queen appears in this: Mme. Delany 
is the widow of Dean Swift’s immediate successor (a 
curious freak of fortune as with me), then for fifty years she 
was companion to the rich and generous Duchess of Port- 
land. The latter dies; apportions her large estate generously 
amongst the staff, the poor and her friends, since she has no 
children; remembers all except Mme. Delany; the whole of 
England is astounded; the queen hears of it, ponders; writes 
to Mme. Delany: 

‘You may possibly not be aware that I am among the 
heirs of the Duchess. She has left her well-beloved Delany 
to my charge and friendship; and I hope you will grant me 
the privilege of fulfilling this part of her last will, and settle 
in the house which I have ordered and where I shall often 
be able to see you— Charlotte ’ 

The queen had arranged everything with so noble, tactful 
and fine a spirit that every noble-minded, virtuous soul 
must surely love, bless and revere her for it. If only she could 
do all the good she desires and wants, how much more 
happiness there would be! But these limitations are also a 
test of higher virtue. 

Filled with these and similar pictures I travelled to 
Countess Reventlow’s at Richmond; clambered up many a 
lovely hill-side, the charm and delight of this island; surveyed 
the loveliest country from a height near Staines, and could 
still see the flag at Windsor flying for quite a long way, and 
the massive Gothic towers rearing proudly to the clouds. 

At the large village of Staines a fair was in progress, and 
I noticed the same system as I had approved at the cattle 
market in London, for the cattle are all in separate pens; 
everyone soon finds his property without plaguing himself 
and the wretched animals, and the purchaser can view them 
more adequately. Farm-hands and maids very cleanly 


2 o 6 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

dressed, bunches of flowers in their hats, stood here seeking 
employment, and were selected on the spot by peasants and 
peasant-women and taken right away with them. 

There were a number of stalls containing wares for the 
country-folk, particularly gingerbreads and other goodies 
appealing to these country people; many of the wares, 
however, are placed on, or hung round brightly painted 
carts as though these were a stall; all the household com- 
modities are very nicely worked, the copper and iron goods, 
joiners’ and brushbinders’ work unusually good. 

From Staines the way leads between scattered villas, 
small ponds and tree plantations to Twickenham, where 
Pope lived, and then through the pleasantest of scenery to 
Richmond, up a lovely gradual incline to a bridge across the 
Thames. The glorious view of these hills, with hundreds of 
villas dotted about them, can be relished in advance, 
shimmering between the fine verdure; the small islets in the 
river; the meadows with jolly children skipping and people 
strolling there. Dear children, if you have read Moritz, 
Watzdorf, Archenholz and other descriptions of Richmond, 
then you will not find my expression in any way exaggerated. 

Soon, through the pretty open town, I had reached the 
hospitable home of noble German von Reventlow. This 
acquaintance was the splendid result of my trip to Hamburg 
eight years ago. I was indebted for it to the hand of an 
angel— Emilia Schimmelmann. I believe that from celestial 
pastures she still tended the friendship which she founded, 
so that long afterwards I might reap the fruits of it in distant 
lands. These two excellent people are very happy in them- 
selves — and over here. Their nice spacious house lies at the 
far end of the lovely little town of Richmond; in fact, in 
the very heart of nature, which spreads a paradise before 
them: a sweet garden, or rather a carpet of lovely verdure 
extends over a scarce perceptible slope, with clusters of trees 
and bushes, I might almost say, cunningly devised, so as to 
make it seem larger than it is, and offering constantly fresh 


DIARY 


207 


views, now of the river, now of meadow-land or pasture, park 
and solitary villas; then there is Richmond terrace, which the 
charming Julia Rcventlow took me to see before lunch already. 

How gladly 1 would have addressed this charming woman 
thus: ‘O thou, who with artless grace canst shine at any 
court or saunter across the meads with deep meditation for 
company, look around on nature, kindly and blossoming 
in all things as thou!’ 

Here, once again, I admired the broad regal splendour of 
Windsor terrace; yet felt the one at Richmond was more 
intimate; not so grand as Windsor but attractive. With awe 
one wonders at the might and majesty of nature at Windsor; 
here the thankful soul prays at the source of all virtue and 
beauty. Had I only enjoyed this one hour away from my 
own people, standing beside the noble German Reventlow 
and Schonborn, who deserve all the best that celestial 
bounty can bestow, yet I would always bless the hand that 
led me hither. This district alone merits a journey to 
Great Britain, if only to drink in the bliss unfolded there. 
May the blessings of God remain with these enchanting hills 
for ever, and pious happy folk inhabit them in thankfulness 
to the end of time. 

A real English family from the vicinity lunched with us: 
the Burths— father, mother, daughter and son; the former 
about sixty years of age, a man brought up on British 
patriotism, the wife a good mother of a family; the daughter 
like a rose blossoming in rural glades, smiling at its own 
image in a pool; the son a young man of twenty, modest and 
quiet as if respect compelled his silence. 

A completely English repast suggested the reason why 
such large dishes are to be seen in silver, pewter, china and 
crockery shops; to wit, because a quarter of a calf, half a 
lamb and monstrous pieces of other meats are dished up, 
and everyone receives almost an entire fish. But since 
England knows nothing of separate cooking for the servants, 
who partake of all the courses sampled by the masters, the 


2 o 8 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

latter having first choice and the servants what remains 
hence the large dishes and portions are explained. The blue 
glass bowls used for rinsing hands and mouth in at the end 
are quite delightful. 

Dessert had hardly been touched, when the ladies, accord- 
ing to ancient custom, rose, and left the gentlemen alone with 
the bottle. We chatted together, listened to the countess 
playing the piano, and I considered Miss Burth’s really 
sylph-like costume — a white skirt with wide border on which 
she herself had painted trailing roses; a bodice of pink and 
white striped taffeta, with pearls on the seams and bindings 
of the short sleeves; the simple straw hat adorned with real 
roses and a ribbon like the skirt. This costume suited her to 
perfection; she was amiable and fond of speaking French for 
practice. The rest of the evening passed very delightfully, 
and at six we took coffee, and tea at eight. 

Count Reventlow has a true, noble, unruffled disposition. 
Schonborn, secretary to the Legation at the Danish Embassy, 
a man of great repute amongst our scholars and much 
esteemed by them, once consul in Algiers for a long period, 
expresses great satisfaction at having seen this land and its 
inhabitants, and at having been witness to the ill-starred 
landing of the Spaniards; he has now formed a correct 
estimate of the influence of laws and climate on character 
from his visits north and south, observing the people here and 
making notes on how they vary. I am very pleased at the 
friendly way in which he treats your brother, and the good 
Count Reventlow, having heard Carl express his wishes, is 
going to give him an opportunity of investigating a fire- 
machine and seeing the mill built on the Thames and driven 
by coal gas, so that two people can produce more flour daily 
than ten ordinary mills. 


Sept. 20 

A day especially marked out by heaven! Both in the moral 
sphere and on God’s good earth. Reminiscences and letters 


DIARY 


209 


from the Stolberg circle. They recalled angelic periods of my 
life which are long fled, and only flit across my soul like 
bright phantoms. Noble circle, mayest thou live undivided 
through many lovely days to the honour of God, an example 
of righteous humanity: Brothers Stolberg! May you fre- 
quently experience the joy and surprise of the unexpected 
guest, and feel safe in the conviction that the brother is not 
more than two days’ journey distant. Countess Louise, noble 
lady! Wise in jest and profound when earnest. Agnes, thy 
thoughts are counterpart to an angel’s raiment. Catharina! 
my friend, newly roused muse of Sion. Countess of Bernsdorf, 
noble, worthy dame! Would that they were here with me in 
Richmond’s paradise! I pretend you are, as I watch the 
heavens glide above this Elysium upon earth. God bless you 
in rich measure as He has given you virtue. Much moved I 
leave my writing-table, go to the window, survey the wide, 
magnificent horizon, and the Thames flowing between 
flowers, now past the palace, ornate with marble, now past 
some prosperous peasant’s cot. The Thames, which shows 
this nation so much might and treasure, where merchant 
ships, swans and pleasure-craft float past one another: the 
foot of Richmond Hill, now hidden by the trees of a park 
jutting out, now abutting on to meadows covered with sheep. 
I can see all this across a laughing flower-bed and blossoming 
shrubs brought from the West Indies, in Julia Reventlow’s 
home, perchance beneath the gaze of that angel Emilie, 
thanks be to heaven! She may read my soul and see how 
gratefully I bless her memory. 

To-day with fervent joy I saw how friendship and active 
kindness could affect a noble character; the adorable Coun- 
tess Julia lay ill; I was at her bed-side; she spoke about her 
noble, absent friends, showed me some of their letters, and I 
fancied that the touch and the unfolding of the beloved papers 
meant as much to her as the rapture felt by pious Catholics at 
sight of the sacraments; they affected both body and soul by 
cheering and comforting them. 


210 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

The count drove with me, good old lady that I am, in his 
phaeton through Richmond Park to Twickenham to see 
Pope’s garden; the lovely weather after many rainy days was 
lighting up this paradise afresh. By devious paths we drove 
swiftly through the wood, which brought a picture from 
Ossian to my mind, for four fallow deer, resting in the fine, 
tall bracken, sprang up, startled by the stamp of our horses, 
glanced shyly round, and scuttled down the bushy slope. 

It pleases the philanthropic mind to see royal bounty 
dwelling in the royal park, and all at once, between foiest 
trees, oaks and beeches, to come upon scattered habitations 
surrounded by flowery plots. Think of my surprise on be- 
holding a house with pillars right in the middle of a wood; 
and on leaving this, at some quarter of an hour’s distance, 
finding another villa, where families, liking peace and verdure 
and without an estate of their own, obtained permission to 
build a house and plant flowers all around. It made an 
indescribably delightful impression on me, did the vision of 
these stags, large tracts of fernery, oaks growing densely, and 
the houses in amongst them; nor can I well describe my 
feelings on seeing the valley, after we had driven along a 
delicious path with shrubberies on either side, running down 
into the sweetest village and afterwards emerging on to a 
bridge across the Thames where the grandest of prospects 
awaited us. As soon as the gentle incline of the woodland 
drops, bushes and trees are visible to the right, mingled with 
both grand and simple villas, sometimes situated on the plain 
or sometimes on the hill-side; the river, broad, flowing with 
slow majesty, forcing its way in amongst them or sometimes 
forming lakes. 

Thus I approached Pope’s residence, at present the 
property of an honest man, a Mr. Ellis, who treated it as 
sacred, and has made no alterations, except to build on to 
either side so as to make room enough for himself and family. 
I had already noticed the bank sloping towards the Thames 
from Pope’s grotto, and the weeping willows, grown as large 


DIARY 


21 I 

as oak-trees, planted and carefully kept by him; as also the 
grotto which he himself contrived, using the basement of the 
house for the j)urpose and lining it with tuff. The main 
portion, where Pope’s bust marks the spot which in the glow 
of life he chose for work or rest, lies at the bottom of the 
double flight of steps leading from here into the large room 
of his house. From this, down beyond this carpet of sloping 
verdure, the river and opposite bank and the lovely region 
on the far side can be seen; it was a clever inspiration to invent 
such a contrivance, for here he could sit in solitude, or bathe 
in the stream, feed the swans, watch the passing ships, the 
sun or the moon mirrored in the Thames, or stroll between 
the pillars of rock in the passage, dug out beneath the high 
road, across into his garden lying on the other side; it is 
poetically conceived, and its undulations are conducive to 
a contemplative mood and tender emotion. 

On the highest point, encircled by fine trees, stands the 
monument which Mr. Pope had erected to his mother, 
translated in her ninety-third year. A simple pyramid with 
pediment inscribed as follows: 

‘Ah Editha! Mater amantissima, 

Mulierum meritissima, vale.’ 

Count Reventlow taught me, too, that there is no need for 
pen and pencil in order to take a note, for he copied these 
words on to a card with a pin for me, as I was anxious not to lose 
them, wanting to use them here: ‘How happy was the woman, 
mother of so great a man, in being thus honoured by him.’ 

This kind lady, esteemed by all for her godliness and 
charity, lived long enough to see the laurels heaped upon her 
son from the age of twelve, when he wrote his pastoral poems, 
probably drawing his inspiration from the magnificent forest 
of Windsor, where his father lived. His intercourse with 
scholars and courtiers made it possible for him to write his 
Essay on Man, in which he claims to have combined philo- 


212 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

sophy with delicate ideas for the first time amongst English 
poets, and he has schemed these poems so completely that 
they are considered by all nations to contain the finest moral 
lessons. His verses were so beautiful that Voltaire remarked, 

‘ Pope has transformed the unpleasant whistle of the English 
tongue into the softest flute-like tone.’ He died in this house 

The garden is full of simple grace, and many Englishmen 
come here with their friends and families to read Pope’s 
verse, but they all know so much of it by heart, that they 
recite it as they walk; which seems to me the finest com- 
pliment to his memory. Nor is there any house in England, or 
any garden of repute which does not possess a bust of Pope. 

I plucked a twig from the willows he had planted with his 
own hand, which I am going to take with me. These two 
trees, watered by the Thames, are kept so fiesh that their 
branches all round are bowed and touch the ground, forming 
an arbour beneath which a table and chairs can be placed. I 
was much affected at seeing two swans swimming beneath 
the boughs, which dip into the river on one side; I should 
have liked to know Pope’s last poem, as the curious custom 
prevails of terming this a poet s swan song, because according 
to the Ancients, these birds only sing before they die.^ I stood 
a few moments on the prow of the fine lawn which juts into 
the Thames, looked up the river, and beheld the myriad 
beauties of the opposite bank. I offered up fervent thanks to 
heaven and Count Reventlow for the precious moments. 

In this place I dedicated Pope’s lovely poem to a friend 
upon her birthday to my beloved daughters: 

‘Oh be thou blest with all that Heaven can send, 

Tong Health, long Youth, long Pleasure, and a Friend.’ ^ 

You can easily understand, dear daughters, that I looked 
back tearfully at Pope’s bust and the spot where, maybe, he 

1 To Mrs. M. B. on her Birthday, 1723— Sophie quotes the poem in full. 


DIARY 


213 


composed this lovely poem. Some moments later 1 recalled 
Voltaire’s house and garden, which 1 had seen two years ago, 
all ruined and desolate; how different were the feelings 
stirred by these two visits. 

We regretted that we had no tickets for Hamilton’s garden, 
which we passed, and that only the side facing the Thames 
was visible, where, amongst artistically planted trees, the 
residence resembles a large, dilapidated Gothic church, with 
gloomy walks around it, provoking contemplation of things 
transitory. A broad, friendly avenue, on which we en- 
countered a number of people riding and driving, led us back 
between country houses lying along our track or some 
distance away: we passed through some delightful country, 
and every moment furnished some fresh aspect. The spectacle 
of a party of women riding through this radiant country- 
side in mourning, with bands of crepe on their hats, impressed 
me strangely, as in our own land and in France mourning is 
discarded in the country. 

At lunch Mr. Barthelemy, French ambassador, Mr. 
Burford, a wealthy Englishman, and Mr. Hutton, legation 
secretary to the English minister who is to take up office in 
Spain, a wealthy, clever man, were with us. They were all 
astonished at the number of things I had already seen, and 
recommended us to have a look at the assize officer— Agar’s 
—collection of paintings, regarded as the finest in London. 
This man derives an annual income of ten thousand pounds 
from his property, yet does not resign his troublesome post; he 
puts all his income into works of art, and takes his earnings 
from his work at the assizes for his keep. 

The talk was full and varied, and touched on many 
important topics. The minister Pitt was discussed; one of the 
two elderly gentlemen said: ‘Pitt as a boy was the model of all 
boyish virtue; likewise the youth; was the best son, brother 
and friend, just as in the end he will become the best 
minister at court.’ How fine a testimony from a middle- 
aged, honest man of this great patriot he saw grow up! 


214 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Pitt’s maiden speech, delivered to Parliament at the age of 
twenty-three, was recalled, when he was apparently already 
the greatest speaker there. I should like to see this man just 
for an instant, because of his and his father s immense 
reputation. 

Mr. Eden’s achievements were also mentioned, for he 
brought the promising commercial pact with France to a 
close, and received a gift of a large silver service and a salary 
of eight thousand guineas. His wife is one of Count Notting- 
ham’s four daughters . He purchased a portion of land for 
three generations, and as he only used two of them that is, 
for himself and his son, who died without an heir the 
daughters sold the third generation, for which each received 
thirty thousand pounds. The affair struck me as curious, 
that is why I mentioned it. 

The charming countess played the piano and sang, while 
ten different kinds of wine were handed round amongst the 
men. Some wanted to put one of the countess’s gloves into 
somebody’s bag, and to send a rider after it to hold up the 
coach as highwayman, and, when the first shock was past, he 
was merely to demand the glove; this idea appealed to most 
as a very humorous one, for the wine had swept them far 
from all clarity, but the sober-minded count and his wife 
would not consent to it. The gentlemen stayed at Richmond 
until eleven at night, as at this hour the high road is far less 
dangerous than at six, nine or ten o’clock. 

The post had brought a fine new composition by Catharina 
V. Stolberg; the count read it, and it gave me fresh ground for 
christening her the darling of Sion’s muses, for she had taken 
the rescue of Moses from the Nile as her subject, and treated 
it with reverent grace and sensibility. The character of 
Pharaoh’s daughter is excellent, both as daughter and friend 
of humanity; all the feelings which an affectionate princess 
should experience are delicately delineated, yet with pro- 
found knowledge. May the aristocratic circle constantly 
attendant on princes have this lady’s maxims, then we should 


DIARY 


2^5 

see happier princes and liappier subjects. But wliat a family 
spirit those Stolbergs do possess; how extremely good and 
noble they are! May ample blessings accompany their 
fortunes, just as their soul is the abode of every virtue. 


Sept. 22 

The morning passed rapidly for all of us. Your brother 
Carl went for a walk with Mr. Schonborn, and I had a short 
talk with the countess’s Moorish servant I He saw to the coffee 
and brought it to my room. You know, children, how the 
negro fate has always been uppermost in my mind, and I 
always regarded them with sadness. I spoke to this fellow, 
in whom I saw traces of a gentle disposition, noticing too 
that he was quietly spoken. I asked him about his country, 
and how long he had been in the countess’s service. He 
comes of a slave family on the old Count v. Schimmelmann’s 
plantations, who had him and several young Moors brought 
to Copenhagen, where they learned writing and arithmetic, 
some surgery and other things. He was not interested in 
medicine, and the old gentleman gave him to the Countess 
Juliana. He is happy, for his employers are very kind. He 
does not wish to see his native land again, for his parents are 
dead; if only his countrymen were a thousandth part as happy 
as he! I valued the memory of old Count v. Schimmelmann, 
an important figure in Denmark, with whom I was 
acquainted, for he used his power over these hired bondmen, 
and the advantages of European culture, to give these 
miserable wretches a first taste of education. My love for the 
sweet, noble countess was doubled on hearing her praises 
sounded so lovingly and gratefully by this child of warmer 
climes, and I shall always keep the two copies of Count 
Friedrich Leopold v. Stolberg’s verses, which this negro 
copied for me, for his beautiful hand is a proof of how un- 
justly we pride ourselves on being born with greater talents 
than these poor, black brothers. 


2 i 6 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

The count and countess drove to a luncheon-party some 
miles away, and I returned to London with Carl; but spent 
the last lovely minutes in the garden, at the gold-fish pond, 
in the place where the countess sits at her writing-table, 
one of the Thames’ islands in the distance and beautiful 
shrubbery all around her, writing letters to her absent friends, 
making garlands of her thoughts, everlasting blossoms with 
which to wreathe the altar of friendship and of noble minds. 
Oh, if one day she would publish her pages in Italy or in this 
country even, how many pleasant hours she would grant 
humanity. She picked some flowers and leaves for me from 
her garden, wishing me good luck and embracing me for the 
journey, and I arrived in London to find my noble friend just 
about to go to lunch; spent the evening at a popular enter- 
tainment, where, in a large garden, between two rows of 
trees, a charming concert platform is erected; opposite this a 
number of nice little boxes, and beneath the trees to the right 
and left of the stage, tables and benches where tea, coffee 
and wine are served; whole families sit down to enjoy the 
verdure and fresh air with music and a pleasant supper at the 
same time. We found the good order, quiet strolling to and 
fro, and mannerliness of this large crowd of people, mostly of 
the small bourgeois type, very admirable, as it proves a 
general background of sound habits and ideas which speak 
well for law and education. It is only necessary to peruse the 
quantities of English newspapers and certain instructional 
articles in their columns for the surest means of judging, or 
so I believe, in how far the English as a nation have enjoyed 
superior schooling and instruction to any other. At home we 
think we have done a great deal for the common man by 
inserting a modicum of good sense in the calendars, which arc 
only issued to the people annually; but in England and in 
London there are twenty-one daily newspapers, containing 
news of foreign parts and states and excellent articles on all 
kinds of subjects, poetry, humorous and witty passages, satires 
and moral maxims, historical and political essays in addition. 


DIARY ‘^17 

I already mentioned the Ipswich paper at Mistress Norman s 
in Helvoetsluys on that account, for this is only a provincial 
town, and yet so many ideas for one’s enlightenment are 
contained in it. 

These and similar thoughts passed through my mind as I 
wandered round this garden amidst such crowds of people, 
and I did so much wish that our great men would embark on 
such an undertaking, and so give hundreds and hundreds ol 
honest workers, artisans and their assistants some respectable 
amusement. 

I was very glad to have seen the populace at play, which 
closed to-day with the presentation of a large illuminated 
cascade. On some other occasion there may be a fireworks 
display or some illuminated architecture. We drove past 
countless pedestrians, lamps and watchmen’s boxes, which 
extend into the surrounding villages, back home. 


Monday, Sept. 22 

To-day Countess Reventlow fetched me, according to my 
request, as I had expressed a desire to see English gala dress; 
for this subject always lures our sex, and I was anxious to 
learn the taste and style. The king’s coronation day was being 
celebrated. The attempt on his life had increased the number 
of his supporters, and a great deal of the nobility had come 
from the country to pay him their respect. I was vexed that 
English sovereigns did not also share the excellent scheme 
introduced by French monarchs; for all good foreigners, and 
the natives too, are permitted to view all personages of the 
royal house and the aristocracy from the gallery; I should 
have been interested to observe the English attitude towards 
George iii, in the same way as I watched Louis xv’s reception 
at Versailles. 

The ladies’ hoops did not differ at all, for the London ones 
are just as large as those in Paris; the train, however, which at 
Versailles trails as a mark of respect, is here held up for the 


2i8 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

same reason, and only the queen allows hers to hang loose. 
It was a delightful moment for me, when I offered my hand 
to the countess for her to step into her hoop, to which the 
skirt was already fixed; it was made of silver floss, with 
twining roses, the petals all of foil, like a rose-hedge in which 
a beauteous nymph, garlanded with flowers, wanted to hide, 
asking me to lend a hand. The sack with sleeves was 
of the same silver floss, trimmed with rich blonde lace, 
flowers and pearls. Nothing is gained by fastening up the 
train, for a great length is required so as to form a number of 
deep folds as it loops. I accompanied her to St. James’ 
Palace, saw many fine ladies and gentlemen, the former 
wearing a quantity of diamonds, which, however, the countess 
did not do, it being forbidden at the Danish court, and the 
noble lady remains loyal to her native traditions. 

We wanted to see the court at Govent Garden theatre, 
but were at great pains to procure a box; for although 
Gountess Reventlow had arranged to get seats and for some 
man to reserve them, yet there was no way of moving forward 
once on the large stairway; people swayed to and fro as 
though balanced on the waves, until those above had gained 
a footing. One eminent gentleman offered my noble friend 
his arm, and conducted us finally to our destination. I was 
amused to see what a rabid curiosity and lust for pleasure can 
do in a mob: but heaven preserve me from a second such 
experience, for some cried, T am dying,’ T am suffocating.’ 
Others lost their hats and cloaks; clothes were torn, arms 
crushed, and finally the cry went out that pickpockets were 
among the crowd. I had drawn my things around me as 
closely as possible, and clasped my bags tightly, so that they 
should be safe like my clothes. Many a charming person had 
to suffer for the lovely ringlets hanging over her shoulders, 
which were tangled and tugged enough to make their owners 
scream. For some moments I even thought we must look 
like a good performance of Hogarth’s ‘Overflowing of the 
Pit,’ as things were at such a pitch that we were well-nigh 


DIARY 


219 


Hung down the stairs, ilicre was a crush iii the box, but we 
occuj:)icd the front scat, and had the royal boxes and a 
number of the aristocracy facing us. 

It was an extraordinary play called The Beliefs Stratagem, 
and was well acted. 

We had missed the entry of the royal family, but at their 
departure we noticed the sovereign’s great courtesy, and 
especially the queen and the princesses, bowing to the boxes 
and the pit; there was an answering applause which shook 
the whole house. The king’s and the princesses boxes weie 
decorated with a canopy and hangings of pink velvet with 
gold fringes; the king in scarlet, wearing the Order of the 
Garter; the queen in yellow and silver moire, with many 
brilliants, the princesses clad in white, also with diamonds 
these likewise glistened from out the ladies’ boxes. 

We waited until all had left, so as not to get into the press. 
I thought the regard for humanity and liberty very beautiful, 
and almost sacred. 

A man on very nearly the furthest seat in the pit called out 
to an actor in the midst of the play: ‘Stop!’ The actor was 
silent: the man said someone was ill, and must be got out. 
All are quite calm, though naturally every one turns to look. 
Finally the man rises and shouts, ‘Go on!’ and the actors 
finished their parts. Neither the king nor the great ones 
looked the least impatient: all waited quietly till the sufferer 
had been removed and the healthy had resumed their seats. 


Sept. 2j 

To-day we visited the Chevalier Townley’s collection of 
antiquities, in a fine house with some of the rarest and most 
costly ornamentations, which immediately strike one on 
entering, for in the vestibule already a porphyry sarco- 
phagus of great value, vases and busts announce what is in 
store. 

This leads into an apartment with statues on either side 


220 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

placed between handsome pillars, making this room into one 
of the pleasantest I have ever seen. 

A very slightly curved, or rather turned, white marble 
staircase, with a very elegant yet simple banister, took us to 
the upper story, where, according to a great specialist on the 
subject, we found treasures of ancient art; particularly the 
group of boys playing at knuckle-bones and wrestling 
together, made famous by Pausanias; one has hold of the 
other’s arm, and is biting it so as to wrench the knucklebone 
from his grasp. An excellent piece preserved intact, but for 
one foot, for over two millenniums. A Minerva, with head 
of white, and helmet and breast-plate of black marble, of 
marvellous beauty. A bust of Marcus Aurelius; vases; bas- 
reliefs; most perfect examples of ancient beauty collected 
there, and what is more, exhibited in a room whose windows 
look on to St. James’ Park. 

Everything is tastefully arranged, and the proprietor, a man 
of great nobility and modesty, a traveller in Italy and 
Graeca Magna for four-and-thirty long years, Pausanias in 
hand, went digging wherever this writer, or any other poet 
or historian referred to some great or rich man’s habitation, 
or the site of some former curious city. He was patient, paid 
his workmen well, so that they should put in careful work, and 
by this means obtained some very valuable pieces, and a 
thousand trifles besides, all parts of ancient history: rings, 
gems, some small gold trinkets, stones and corals. He speaks 
very good French, and told us how happy he felt on dis- 
covering an Egyptian alabaster vase, and lifting it out of the 
ruined remains of a large family vault with ashes and bones 
still inside. 

He is a Catholic, and therefore excluded from holding any 
office at court or in Parliament; so courts instead, as he puts 
it, the bust of Marcus Aurelius, and offers supplications to 
heaven to send the Christians as good a regent as this pagan 
was. 

I was loath to leave this chamber, where, from two couches. 


DIARY 


221 


with overhanging canopies, these valuable remains can be 
studied at ease, or one can muse on the ruined magnificence 
of Greece, while a turn of the head brings a number of pretty 
English ladies, out strolling, into view. 

He also took us to his library facing the stairs, and occupy- 
ing with these the centre of the house, and liaving overhead 
lighting likewise. On one side it contains a choice book 
collection, on the other a cabinet of coins and cut stones, and 
along the first row of shelves precious works in antique 
bronze. 

From there we entered the living-room, where vases, dishes 
and drinking-vessels with paintings of Rome and other parts 
of Italy are exhibited. 

Below there is another large room containing further piles 
of battered curios from the great ancient world, and the 
noble gentleman mostly spends his time here investigating, 
cleaning and piecing them together. 

Our beloved Germany is not at all famed in the field of 
ancient works of art, though the Chevalier listened to our 
report of the Badenweiler finds with great enthusiasm, and 
made a note of them immediately, as he thinks there must be 
several more curiosities hidden there. 

On leaving the great stone sculptures of the Ancients we 
arrived at Mr. Gray’s to inspect the steel work of the Moderns, 
and admire a thousand delicate ornaments and instruments 
made from this metal. For whatever the most skilled gold 
craftsmen or diamond polishers can show, may be found in 
steel here artistically wrought, and most tempting, so tasteful 
is the moulding of every separate piece, to which the pleasant, 
I might almost say modest, tone of the steel contributed 
largely. Carl was presented with a pair of spurs by a man of 
much learning, and I wished they might spur him on along 
the paths of knowledge and good conduct. 

We also visited Mr. Wendeborn, preacher in London, and 
author of the three instructive volumes on the state of 
religion, the constitution, of learning and the arts in Great 


222 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Britain; a scholarly, subtle-minded man, and very pleasant 
company. He showed us the copying machine he himself 
invented, which always requires the finest paper, best ink, 
and a good deal of intelligence if it is to be used correctly: 
the first and second, because the copy can only be read 
transparently, and the third sinee the paper has to be 
moistened just enough not to spoil both the copy and the 
original. 

From Mr. Wendeborn’s we went to the Exchange, first 
built in 1566 by a merchant, Thomas Gresham, and given to 
the city; burned in 1666 with all the rest in the great fire, 
when the present building took its place for eighteen thousand 
pounds sterling. It is 203 feet long and 171 feet broad, and, 
like the Exchange in Amsterdam, has covered arcades all 
round, rooms and galleries above, with statues of twenty 
kings and queens standing between the windows. Gresham’s 
monument has a niche in the lower arcade, many of which 
are waiting to be filled by deserving men. The two entrances 
are decorated with pillars and fine architeeture. 

I followed Mr. Wendeborn’s advice and read Addison’s 
description of the London Exchange, which I shall also pass 
on to you, as it describes this important pile in all its many 
aspects. The excerpt will interest you. Addison says ‘There 
is no place in London which I so much love to frequent as 
this Royal Exehange. It gives me a secret satisfaetion and 
in some measure gratifies my vanity, as I am an Englishman, 
to see so rich an assembly of countrymen and foreigners 
consulting together upon the business of mankind. . . . 
Trade, without enlarging the British territories, has given us 
a kind of additional empire. It has multiplied the number 
of the rich, made our landed estates infinitely more valuable 
. . . added to them an accession of other estates besides as 
valuable as the lands themselves.’^ 

I confess, children, that here I should like to add some 

^ We quote the beginning and end of letter Gq, from the Spectator, Everyman 
Idb. I, p. 260. 


DIARY 


223 


extracts from Thomson’s glorious poem Liberty', but I am 
afraid you would not be carried away as I was by it. Nobly 
as a patriot of a free country, instructively as a clever man, 
enchantingly as a good writer, he contrasts the beneficent 
deeds of liberty with the misery of bondage; tells the story 
of Italy, Greece, of the later free states and our free cities; 
liberty comes to England and records the history of this 
happy isle. Glover’s poem, London or the Progress of Commerce, 
is fine; it represents the history of the whole world’s trade from 
the beginning. Should you ever read these two pieces and 
find as much pleasure in them as I, then your mother is at 
this moment the happy means of giving you some pleasant 
hours to come.i 

Then we saw Mr. Hurter finish the two pictures of Gharles 
and his wife Henriette, daughter of Henry iv of France. 
Encaustic painting is a fine art, and Mr. Hurter has brought 
it to perfection. I always regret that the spirit of modern 
times shows less generosity towards artists than formerly; for 
now Mr. Hurter is not going to complete his splendid scheme 
of painting each great painter’s best works on six-inch enamel 
plaques. These two copies are taken from Van Dyck’s fine 
originals in Kensington, and every finesse of the original is 
completely transferred to the enamel. 

This was the first time I had seen Henriette of France. She 
is a beautiful woman, but must have been an unhappy wife 
and daughter, for her father was murdered by a fanatical 
villain and her husband by an ambitious hypocrite. 


Sept. 24 

This Sunday I looked through a species of genteel chronicle 
or so I should call the two Middleton volumes, which are 
rendered even more attractive by their delightful engravings. 
During the evening we had tea with the estimable old de 

^ There follows a brief paraphrase of the poem recording the birth of 
Commerce, etc. 


224 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Grand, who showed us his collection of prints. The more I 
see this worthy old gentleman, the more I hope that culture 
may have as good an influence on myself and others as on this 
man, and may help us to retain so lively a memory of the 
ancient and such a taste for modern writers in conjunction 
with such kindness, courtesy and charity right up to the end. 

Monsieur de Roverais, a native of Geneva, established over 
here, spent the evening with us. This man has enriched his 
national spirit by the addition of observations made in 
Britain, and seems to have trafficked in ideas as profitably 
as in bank-notes or commodities. He was intimate with a 
number of scholars, and related numerous humorous anec- 
dotes from their private lives. Goldsmith’s death pained us 
all, for he is a double loss: ‘He inhabited prosperous London, 
yet for some days had nothing to eat; received some 
money from a friend in the street, and straightway took it to 
a baker’s, purchased and foolishly partook of some warm 
bread, to which the English are so partial; but it meant death 
to poor, clever Goldsmith’s empty stomach.’ 

I took Middleton home with me, and fell into a restless 
longing to possess it, for it contained a county history as well 
as that of the lovely country houses and their architects 
connected with the subject. 


Sept. 2^ 

To-day we made a pleasant trip to Osterley Park, Madame 
Child’s country seat, widow of the late banker of this name, 
whose property amounted to 500,000 guilders. We could 
never have imagined such a place had we not seen it. It is 
eight miles from London, in the county of Middlesex, almost 
opposite the Duke of Northumberland’s fine property, Sion 
House, and indeed they are the joint-owners of equal shares 
of the Sion monastery estates. 

Queen Elizabeth presented Osterley Park to the famous 
Gresham, and the Child family had bought and rebuilt it. 
A charming path leads there, past the entrance to Sion Llouse, 


DIARY 


225 


with a marble lion courant above the great portal of the fore- 
court, like the one on the top of the palace in London. Kew 
and Richmond are on the left, and it is a pleasant drive 
between sweet little villages and villas to this park, with its 
lovely winding path through the fields, where sheep were 
grazing, meadows full of handsome cows, past ponds and 
copses filled with fallow deer, towards a building with three 
wings, connected by a flight of steps and a white marble 
colonnade and four towers for decoration; the former lead 
into a hall inlaid with grey and white marble, and adorned 
with statuary, bas-reliefs, and urns. 

As friendly Mr. Burth, whom I met at Count Reventlow’s, 
had sent us a ticket admitting five people, we were led into 
the breakfast-room until the caretaker arrived, where we 
looked at some nice pictures, had a view on to the park and 
the very portion of the wood where the fallow deer were, and 
had the pond on one side and some fields and Richmond hills 
in the distance on the other. 

From here the friendly woman conducted us into the 
magnificent library, where book-cases and reading tables are 
of mahogany, with gilded bronze ornamentation, two marble 
mantles beautifully worked, pictures above them by Zucchi, 
dear Angelika’s happy husband, representing the muses of 
astronomy, poesy, history, and the genius of the fine arts. 

The dining-room is very large, with delicious decorations, 
and looks out on to flower beds, and farther still on to the 
drive. 

From here we came through a fine, tapestried apartment 
into a gallery 130 feet long, with large windows on to the 
garden, and a marble staircase on one side leading out of it. 
But on three of the walls we saw a collection of magnificent 
pictures. Charles i and the noble Count Strafford, who gave 
his life to save his king; both by Van Dyck and full length, 
so placed as apparently to survey one another from their 
respective walls, bringing their story vividly to mind. Then 
Titian, Salvator Rosa, Alban, Claude Lorrain, Correggio, 

p 


226 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Murillo, and others besides; only one piece by each, but 
always one of the largest and most valuable. There are 
tremendous Japanese vases in there also, large enough to 
conceal Carl. 

This gallery led into the drawing-room, where are some 
most superb hangings and chairs of Gobelin tapestry. We 
entered a green velvet bedroom next. Then one where all the 
draperies and curtains are richly, yet very prettily, em- 
broidered. Another lovely room follows, and yet another, 
called the Etrurian cabinet, since its wall paintings are 
copied from one similar found in Pompeii; the chairs and 
tables are of Etrurian form, likewise the porcelain. 

Upstairs we saw Mrs. Child’s apartments; she is away in 
Switzerland at the moment. These are dainty boudoirs 
containing all the most delicate porcelain, gold and silver 
ornaments, and miniatures. More especially a collection of 
enamels, being the portraits of the Child family, and a 
number of them by the famous Petitot. 

I was pleased to find my Sternheim in English translation 
amongst Mrs. Child’s books, and on the fly-leafi wrote down 
something of the joy and pleasure I had experienced at 
Osterley Park— in English, too, as well as I was able. 

The Count and Countess of Westmoreland’s apartments, 
with hangings of East Indian material, reminded us that by 
this marriage the countess, Mr. Child’s only daughter, had 
caused her father’s death. He would not consent to the 
match, but she eloped with the count, having slyly schemed 
to order and pay for all the post horses along the entire route 
to Scotland, where they were married, so that no horse was 
available should they be pursued. Mr. Child, who fell ill 
of distraction, forgave his daughter and her husband before 
his death, but left the mother in such complete possession of 
the entire estate, that should they give her the least ground 
for displeasure, she has the right of disinheritance; but they 
get on exceedingly well together, and the good lady is very 
fond of them both. 


DIARY 


227 

We then came to the guest-rooms across the large gallery, 
excellently planned so that the master’s chamber and bed- 
room always faces the apartments of the chamber-maids and 
valets. It is impossible to think of anything lacking here, or to 
desire anything more delightful or delicious. We went down 
to the very lowest floor where are all the servants’ quarters 
— kitchen, bake-house, laundry, housekeeper’s lodge — all as 
spruce and clean as I myself could have desired my whole life 
long. The dairy and milk-room, however, surpassed all my 
expectations. There was an entrance in which milk and 
milking-pails and butter-tubs stood in splendid array, all 
white and with brass rings gleaming like gold; then down a 
step into the dairy where the milk was standing in large, flat 
china pans, especially made with broad spouts for pouring 
off the milk, around the four walls on grey marble tables. 
The fresh butter lay in large Chinese dishes full of water; 
charming milk vessels, china tumblers and butter saucers 
were strewn all around on marble slabs; it is impossible to 
imagine anything nicer and more attractive. Greater sweet- 
ness or neatness are impossible, and, to make the picture 
perfect in its way, the sweetest, prettiest girl in the world 
entered, wearing a grey frock, white apron and collar, with 
a small straw hat upon her lovely brown tresses, and brought 
us each a glass of cream and bread and butter with it, having 
as charming a presence and personality as though she were a 
daughter of very good family in disguise, while the inex- 
pressible rustic simplicity and shyness of her eighteen-year- 
old countenance put me in mind of the description of a milk- 
maid in the English poem. The Patriot's Virtue, by Mr. Bodslay . ^ 

I wished this dear creature at Osterley Park a rich farmer 
for husband like Patty had. And the housekeeper led us on 
through the poultry run, and across a fine spot reserved for 
washing, bleaching and drying, back to her own part, where 

^ ? Dodsley : a quotation follows, ‘Patty, sweet Patty, who has not heard of 
her and her snow-white milk-pail ... * etc. No poem of this title in 
Dodsley’s collection. 


228 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

we had to partake of some cherry brandy and very good 
cakes, so that the milk should not chill our stomachs. The 
supply of sugar and spice is stored in one of the four towers on 
the floor, which we term cellar. I was obliged to exclaim at 
the quantity of everything, at the tidiness of the china and 
crystal vases. 'Alas, how far behind we are in all such things, 
both for our own good and our kinsmen’s. 

We visited the garden, especially the Chinese summer- 
house, where all the furnishings come from China, arranged 
in the taste and custom of the country. It stands beneath 
the shadow of a laurestine plantation, of which there are 
many in England, a proof of the mild climate, since these 
trees grow into woods in open country, bearing leaves two 
spans long and one wide, like the ones in Osterley Park. 
Imagine this wood, children, with broad paths intertwining 
and flowers dotted about beside them here and there, leading 
into a vegetable garden, and there again whole hosts of a 
thousand different flowers beside the vegetables; hot-houses 
containing hundreds of pineapples of unusual size; one for 
growing grapes, which, now that they are really ripe, are 
allowed to have the air so as to give them the fine fragrance 
which so improves our own grapes; but the stems in the 
greenhouses are trained in such a way as to make their 
tendrils cling to a trellis, and since there is no woodwork 
round about they form a large grape enclosure. We also 
noticed some very light and dainty flower-stands. Beehives 
made with peculiar care, so that their work should always be 
visible. 

We hurried to Kew, as this royal garden is only open for 
another few days. The house in which the royal family is 
staying is of a noble, touching simplicity, but the garden is 
regally expansive everywhere — be it lawn, wood, pond or 
promenade. We encountered several people, and I was 
interested, having seen all that the South Sea Islanders 
possess of human industry at the royal museum and at 
Ashton Lever’s, to see all their plants flourishing here with 


DIARY 


229 


the aid and care of a Solandcr, Forster and a Cook. It was 
an infinitely happy moment for me, as I beheld English 
horticulture, grand and unfettered as nature herself, adorned 
with European and American trees, bushes, and flowers — and 
in addition, various hot-houses full of Asiatic plants and 
flowers, and others from the South Seas, certainly not long 
enough, but just so as to be able to say that my eye had 
witnessed the whole realm of useful, nourishing and orna- 
mental plants of earth and water — since the latter are sus- 
tained with water in large lead tanks. I always loved the 
plant world for its charitable actions; entrancing, curative, 
it yields up sustenance and support, offers itself ungrudgingly 
and unremittingly for our service and pleasure. Oh! how I 
long for a summer in Kew, wandering round here alone with 
Linne and Millar, and learning every form and virtue of 
these creatures and their history. I rested on a bench beneath 
weeping willows on the bank of a lake; withered leaves, 
whirled to my feet by the wind, reminded me of fortune’s 
faded joys and glitter; I was something mournful, but grateful 
to heaven and friendship for this lovely day, and was certain 
that God, who knew my heart, would be satisfied with my 
intentions. I bade Him steel my soul, by the enjoyment of 
things lofty, against the burden of bitter grief. 

Slowly I strolled up the slope where the Eolus temple 
stands in its pleasing ingenuity; it is circular and half open, 
and can always be easily turned round and adjusted accord- 
ing to whether one wishes to avoid the sun or the wind, or to 
sec some other part of the park. The tower erected here, 
similar to the one in Nankin, is not made of china, and I 
confess that I cannot sufficiently overcome my dislike of all 
things Chinese to say much about it. In one of the fine 
houses we also inspected a hillock of rare flowering plants, 
a very pleasant sight, and my only regret was that my noble 
good friend was not well enough to share this day’s enjoyment. 

I spent the evening at a society where all topics of interest 
to an Englishman are discussed: 6d. a person is the charge. 


230 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

I found a large, well-lit room, with benches and a kind of 
desk for the president, who handed the subjects up for debate. 
He then announces them, the speaker rises, and all are quiet 
and attentive. 

The first subject to-day was: ‘Whether it is useful or harm- 
ful to create a number of peers of the realm as has recently 
happened.’ In the end the votes were counted, and the 
conclusion was: It is not harmful. 

There followed a seriously farcical motion: ‘Whether it was 
better for a man to beat his wife or for women to control 
men.’ A speaker rose in support of the men, introducing all 
the faults of genteel and gross women, saying that the hus- 
bands in the former case could count themselves lucky from 
out their suites of apartments in finding one for solitary 
reflection and as a retreat, or in remaining unharmed outside 
his home; the common man could not do the former because 
of the lack of space in his home, and could not escape 
because of work, must therefore keep the peace by the 
strength of his arm, etc. Another stood up and took the 
women’s part, decrying all the male vices in all classes; both 
were good speakers, and mentioned some unusually practical 
truths. A third rose and began to speak, but his memory 
or courage failed him; he was flustered and resumed his 
seat, though no one made fun of or laughed at him. 

If I stayed here I should often visit these societies. A 
number of women attended, and the room was crowded with 
all kinds of people; this kind of pastime after tea and work is 
an added proof that common sense and reflection are very 
common in England, for there are a number of such societies, 
in London, as well as in other cities of the realm. 


Sept. 26 

To Fulham and Bartolozzi, the great engraver, whose 
works I had so often admired, having also seen the fine 
composition in which he is represented together with the 


DIARY 


231 


sculptor Carlini and the inventive genius Cipriani on one 
page. It was a lovely morning, and it seemed as though 
Apollo were favouring our pilgrimage to his rural temple. 
We encountered a number of people, riding and walking, as 
if half the town still wanted to enjoy the last bright days of 
autumn. 

We came upon the eminent artist with his worthy pupils 
at a nice house situated in the midst of a large flower garden, 
busts of his friends in the alley-ways, and Apollo on a hill, 
overgrown with laurel, in front of his window. His rooms are 
charming and decorated with valuable drawings by Angelika 
and Cipriani. 

In Cipriani’s death two months ago art has suffered an 
irreparable loss; for this man possessed an inexhaustible fund 
of knowledge and beautiful imagery, combined with the 
ability to clothe each thought in noble form. We have no 
idea of what Cipriani was, but he is conveyed to one through 
his drawings at Bartolozzi’s and in the latter’s talk of his dead 
friend. 

‘The heavens preserve Angelika,’ he said, ‘for she is 
certainly the honour of her sex and of our century— the 
greatest woman, combining, as she does, a high standard of 
painting, a vast knowledge of history, languages, all the poets, 
and with the finest taste of her century. It is impossible,’ he 
added, ‘for her ever to have an imitator.’ 

How fine it is to hear such encomium from the lips of a 
fine, experienced artist! This was one of the most splendid 
scenes of my entire journey, this outpouring of a man’s soul, 
a man so brilliant and so modest, over the merits of a 
deceased comrade and distant feminine friend. 

I was most fascinated to note what grade of art his pupils 
had attained, at the same time observing that his mind had 
not only influenced their hand and vision, but their character; 
that they are noble and crave after knowledge; gentle and 
refined in manner, as if the image of the art-deity and his 
zealous disciple Bartolozzi stirred them to similar diligence 


232 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and awe. Mr. Hurter brought out some of his new enamel 
paintings, and Bartolozzi reviewed them as critic and 
connoisseur. It was amusing to watch the different types of 
interest shown by his pupils, as they first scanned the picture 
and then their master’s face. Two young Englishmen should 
gain distinction one day, and an Italian already shows a 
masterly hand on the completion of Lord Chatham’s portrait 
after West, at the moment when the count, speaking 
emphatically for the common good, swooned away. After- 
wards Mr. Bartolozzi showed us all the copperplates he had 
engraved over a period of twenty years; the amount and 
beauty of the man’s work is astounding. He plucked me a 
bouquet from the feet of Apollo in friendly fashion, and I 
received it gladly, as if the hands of some noble prince’s 
distinguished son had given them me. 

We then accompanied Mr. Hurter to Kensington Palace, 
where he is to paint Charles i and his consort once more for a 
French apartment. He secured permission for us to see the 
collection of pictures and the inside of the palace. I enjoyed 
a number of perfect Holbeins, Tintorettos, Raphaels, 
Michelangelos and others. In the gallery are the portraits 
of poor Mary of Scotland; the appalling Henry viii, who to 
my mind looks like a born hangman; his wife, Catherine of 
Aragon; her daughter Mary, who combined her father’s 
cruel disposition with her mother’s melancholy piety. Eliza- 
beth in Turkish costume, as a permanent monument to her 
incomprehensible vanity about her figure. When she asked 
the ambassador, on his return from Constantinople, whether 
oriental feminine attire would suit her, he assured her 
wickedly that no habit better became her features, so he had 
to order a suit for her to be painted in, which is anything but 
beautiful. Such an array of the different periods of dress, 
of so many kings and queens, makes a curious spectacle. The 
rooms and the whole palace are panelled in large but simple 
style, like the view on to the charming artless garden. 

We arrived home late, and did not go out again to-day. 


DIARY 


233 


I read the diary of Countess Emilia v. Schimmelmann, whose 
maiden name was v. Ranzau, given me by the Countess v. 
Reventlow. It refreshed many memories for me, since it is 
concerned with her German voyage; her stay in Ems, and 
acquaintance with the noble house of Stein and with myself; 
her remarks are good, and extremely fine the conflict between 
her keen intellect and cautious kindness, for the former 
showed her so many imperfections, while the latter taught 
her to refrain from publicly declaring them. The traits of an 
English mentality are visible on every page, and the lovely 
writing is further symbolic of the system and orderliness 
regulating it. 


Sept. 2y 

This morning, directly after breakfast, we went to see the 
sculptor Nollekens, where I experienced the infinite pleasure 
of meeting this clever, modest man, whose talent is quite 
equal to that of the ancients, as well as seeing a crowd of 
antiquities and inspecting his works, as they grade from the 
raw hewn block right up to the finished counterfeit of the 
great ancients. I also saw some busts of noble Englishmen: 
as, for instance, Savile, Mansfield, Spencer and others; then 
the superb monument which the Duke of Rutland is having 
erected at Westminster Abbey to his beloved brother 
Manners. Lord Manners died at the age of twenty-four, a 
naval captain in the American war, from a cannon-ball from 
the enemy ships, which deprived him of both feet. This 
monument is very large and very noble. A kind of hill by 
the seashore, on which Time is supporting a rostral column, 
and pendent from it the bust of Lord Manners, and, at the 
duke’s command, those of two other honest officers who 
served and died at his brother’s side; a sea-horse bears a 
Triton to the shore, who mournfully points to the likenesses; 
the spirit of fame hovers over the monument, laurel wreaths 
in hand. The second monument is meant for the garden of 
his country estate— Lord Manners lies dying on the sea- 


234 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

shore, supported by the goddess of victory. The artist 
tactfully contrived to make the goddess in the image of the 
beautiful Duchess of Rutland, who gazes at him with a sister’s 
tender sorrow, supporting him with one arm and offering 
him a palm of victory with her other hand. 

I cannot tell you, children, what noble thought and 
execution is in this design; according to the criticism of 
connoisseurs the man possesses a great and true feeling for 
beauty; his figures have a noble bearing, gesture and costume. 

Lord Spencer’s statue is equally well planned and de- 
signed; Grief reclining on an urn on which is a bust portrait 
of Lord Spencer, and gazing wistfully at a burnt-out torch 
lying on the pedestal. This simple picture is of a lofty and 
noble beauty, and inspires a gentle sorrow. 

I noticed with great pleasure that the artist was not only 
employed and supported by art lovers, but that friendship 
played its part; for Mr. Nollekens had over six bust portraits 
of the estimable Savile to complete for his friends, two of 
whom sent for him with great dispatch on the death of 
Savile, so as to have an immediate cast of his features. He 
showed us this mould, from which it is evident that the good 
man had passed beyond all feeling; for the warm, adhesive 
mass had torn some hairs away all round his forehead; the 
veins were still pulsing with the last beats of his charitable 
heart; pensiveness and spiritual suffering still left their mark 
on the tender, manly features. 

I was much elated at touching three models for statues by 
Michelangelo, which Mr. Nollekens had brought back with 
him from Rome, as the sacred relics of art. 

We lunched with the noble v. Reventlow at Richmond, 
where she had invited us all, but ill-health once more 
prevented my good friend from accompanying us. 

We passed the great new bridge at Kew, and I was glad we 
were obliged to cross the old bridge, though with caution, as 
I had always enjoyed a sight of this bold, artistic creation, and 
should like to rescue from oblivion the name of the first man 


DIARY 


‘•^35 


to think out a means of erecting arches across a river firm 
enough to last for generations. 

On the royal chapel in the great court at Kew the staff 
was still standing to which the royal standard had been 
attached while the court was in residence for a few days, and 
which will now be flying at Windsor again. 

We met Prince Rezoniko from Rome, Count Woronzofi, 
the Russian, Count Luchesi) the Neapolitan ambassador, and 
Baron Buchwald of Germany. 

Rezoniko, who had often seen me at Coblenz twelve years 
ago, in his conversation with me was much struck by the 
coincidence which brought us both to Richmond, and 
mentioned the delightful Frau v. Deden, whom he respects 
for her quick intellect and noble character. 

Count Woronzoff conversed with me about his empress. 
All agreed with us that the art of looking after and entertain- 
ing guests had become so essential a part of social etiquette, 
that nowhere had it attained to such perfection as in this 
hospitable abode— all equally agreeable— from the serving- 
dishes, waiting, food and drinks to the plentiful abundance 
and pleasing attentiveness, the atmosphere of unconstraint, 
general culture in languages, and other subjects, music, grace 
and noble poise of an extremely charming, clever woman. 
But the discussion was interrupted by the fact that all these 
guests feared highwaymen, for they were all booked for the 
evening, and so had to leave for London much earlier than 
eleven; perhaps they needed their money for gaming, and 
hence could not afford to give it to the highwayman! So they 
decided to depart all together, as the robbers would hardly 
hold up four coaches at once. — This drove me, too, from this 
dearly loved house; but our coachman was drunk, and so 
could not keep pace with the rest, and I had leisure enough 
for anxious and gloomy cogitation on the imperfections of 
English litigation, character and education. I only hoped 
we should encounter one of these unpleasant gentlemen, like 
the one Mr. Duttan, English councillor to the embassy. 


236 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

described for us this evening: ‘That when in May of last year 
he was returning with two ladies from a country party, they 
were held up by a thief on horseback. One of the ladies 
noticed from his voice that he was young and still a little shy. 
She offered him her purse, and added very gently: “Young 
man, it seems to me that some misfortune has brought you to 
this; let him think how long he might live to be a righteous 
citizen in his native land, and how soon, on the other hand, an 
evil hour might lead him to a wretched death.” In moved 
tones he thanked her for her kindness. The ladies were 
touched by this, and collected 150 guineas amongst their 
friends the following day; then announced in all the papers 
that the young man who had encountered two ladies and a 
gentleman at such and such a time and place in the evening, 
was to come forward and would receive a money instalment. 
But already, before this was fully public, the lady received 
a letter containing first many thanks and blessings for her 
humanity and kindness in thus addressing an unfortunate, 
and then a confession that he had really come to such a 
desperate pass through bad luck in gambling, but her voice, 
which still resounded in him like an angel’s, had moved his 
soul. — He had ridden after her carriage and inquired for her 
name. He had used the money he received to pay off a 
gambling debt, and had gone to an uncle in the country with 
the story of all his mistakes, and her generous kindness. His 
uncle had forgiven him and blessed her. As yet, he had not 
courage enough to state his name until he could appear 
before her with the report that he was an honest man.’ 

This little tale had so much moved me that I undertook 
likewise to observe the voice of anyone who might attack, and 
speak gently to him. I was still troubled, despite the fact that 
it was almost impossible for anyone to hold us up, as scattered 
country-seats and villages form one long chain into London; 
but once such an idea takes hold of the imagination, cold 
reason seldom has any power over it. 

We arrived home quite peacefully, met a great deal of 


DIARY 


237 


traffic on the road, and my son laughed at the highwayman 
and my alarm, despite the fact that he had seen all the 
gentlemen hiding their watches and only keeping a third of 
their money in their purses. 


Sept. 28 

To-day we visited Mr. Boydell’s shop, London s most famous 
print dealer. What an immense stock, containing heaps and 
heaps of articles! The shop is on the Strand, one of the city s 
most populous thoroughfares, and has a view either side. 

Here again I was struck by the excellent arrangement and 
system which the love of gain and the national good taste 
have combined in producing, particularly in the elegant 
dressing of large shop-windows, not merely in order to orna- 
ment the streets and lure purchasers, but to make known the 
thousands of inventions and ideas, and spread good taste about, 
for the excellent pavements made for pedestrians enable 
crowds of people to stop and inspect the new exhibits. Many 
a genius is assuredly awakened in this way; many a labour 
improved by competition, while many people enjoy the 
pleasure of seeing something fresh— besides gaining an idea 
of the scope of human ability and industry. 

I stayed inside for some time so as to watch the expressions 
of those outside: to a number of them Voltaire’s statement— 
that they stare without seeing anything certainly applied; 
but I really saw a great many reflective faces, interestedly 
pointing out this or that object to the rest. 

Then we entered an inner room and looked around there; 
finally I noticed a foreign lady perusing a number of land- 
scapes with her companion. On hearing her speak German, 
I addressed her, and noticed how pleased she was at finding 
me here. How pleasantly surprised I was on making Mme. 
Prestel’s acquaintance, and that on her own special artistic 
field. Mr. Boydell spoke of her talent with regard, and I hoped 
this noble race would do justice to this estimable and great 
artist. 


238 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

And now we joined company, and followed Mr. Boydell, 
junior, an excellent draughtsman, to an upper story, where he 
showed us the best pieces in the shop and a nice collection of 
fine paintings hung on top of one another in a slanting corner 
of the room, which I will describe, as it may be of service to 
yourselves or one of your friends. Since Mr. Boydell’s house 
is situated in the old city and is hence not planned according 
to modern method and leaves him very little room, he has 
made use of the corner space, filling it with nothing but 
doors a foot apart, five of which are as wide as the wall and 
open very easily after one another, so that on the side facing 
the window he can show a number of fine paintings with the 
light full on them, by means of this invention, keeps the dust 
off, and is able to hang them, for which purpose the re- 
mainder of the room was neither large nor light enough. 

The room next to it is, however, lit from above, and 
devoted to works by native artists, and contains portraits of 
famous English painters, especially engravers; I liked Woollett 
best of all because of his artistic representation of trees. Next 
to this I chose a piece by Peters, a cleric, who portrays the 
figure of an angel leading a lovely lad in the full bloom of 
youth into eternity: a very excellent piece in lofty modern 
style. I have already seen paintings of angels bathed in 
celestial light, but I fancied Mr. Peters’ light hailed from the 
dawn and the sun itself Wainscot, ^ a historical painter, 
stirred me by his astonishingly striking accuracy of perform- 
ance. There are two pictures of Edward iv’s sons: the first 
shows the charming twelve-year-old Edward v in the Tower, 
embracing his brother, now likewise stolen from out his 
mother’s arms and glad to have his boon companion and 
playmate with him again. The second presents the royal 
brothers lying close together in innocence, beauty and 
fraternal affection, asleep and hands tightly clasped as if they 
had grasped each other in horror at the dark, unfriendly room, 
or with some secret presentiment of their fate, had feared to fall 

' Sic. 


DIARY 


239 


asleep— their murderers with a lamp, a satanic expression on 
their countenances. The impression left by these pictures 
must remain unforgettable in every mother’s mind. 

On another wall is the large canvas by Mr. Cosway, of 
General Piereson’s death in Guernsey during the unexpected 
landing of the French in the American war. The painting 
is significant and expressive. It also contains portraits of the 
officers fighting beside the general, and of the Moor who shot 
the man dead at the very moment he had taken his master’s life. 

On this story twenty thousand guineas’ worth of drawings 
are also kept, bought by Mr. Boydell for engraving purposes. 
In the auction of Cipriani’s estate some, with a figure scarcely 
larger than a hand, fetched twelve, fifteen and eighteen 
guineas. Amongst others, however, a much more expensive 
one represented fortune as an unclad woman, standing with 
one foot on a globe, surrounded by several venturesome boys, 
who are climbing up her; one is clinging to her thighs, 
tightly clasping them with arms and feet; another is em- 
bracing her body, but she pushes his head away from her 
with one hand, and seems to want to shake off another who 
has clambered up one of her arms; one is hanging from her 
hair, which he has wound around his hands, and another 
from this one’s feet— as often happens when a person only 
reaches the summit by dint of cringing at some great man’s 
feet— but a couple of poor lads are lying on the ground. I 
thought it a new and very striking picture of destiny. Had I 
been a person favoured by her I should have made much 
more of it to-day, and bought a number of magnificent 
pictures; if I were to stay over here I should put Addison’s 
saying into practice— ‘Things belong to him who enjoys them, 
not to him who possesses them’— and should often come here 
and view the collection and any new additions to it. 

From Boydell’swewent to the Wool Hall, built with arcades, 
but not very well maintained, as the wool is no longer 
brought here. 

And thence to the Guildhall, or London’s town hall. 


240 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

where some labyrinthian, but very bright, vaulted passages 
lead to a great vaulted hall said to hold seven thousand 
people. 

There is another monument to Lord Chatham here, and 
the statue of Lord Mayor Beckford, who protected the rights 
of the nation against the court, and who, according to the 
quaint prophecy in which the whole of London is to collapse, 
will be the sole survivor, thus sacred and immune even from 
temporal destruction. 

It is splendid to read the testimonies to their merits, and 
the respectful blessings of an entire nation. I was further not 
a little surprised at the sight of a gigantic and solid wooden 
statue, in coloured jerkin and trunk-hose, near the above- 
mentioned pictures and some royal portraits, without the 
slightest reference to its meaning; but then it struck me that 
in a noble being low and crude ideas and sentiments are 
frequently mingled with great spiritual traits, and their 
occurrence and origin is also difficult to explain. 

A delightful act of kindness took me from here to the 
medical society. As the daughter of a respected doctor I was 
bound to rejoice at the fine edifice. It is very beautifully 
built. I looked with awe on the busts of Sydenham, Harvey, 
Mead, as my father’s friends, and had he lived over here he 
would also have received a monument in his honour. The 
memory of him revived with affection and reverence within 
me. I had often heard him mention these men, while telling 
me the history of medicine, as names sacred to humanity and 
learning. Sydenham and Harvey lived before him. Mead was 
his contemporary. The latter founded the bust to Harvey, 
and the University similarly honoured the memory of 
Sydenham and Mead. 

I revered one room, consecrated to humanity, where all 
the poor are heard, advised and given prescriptions for free 
medicines. 

From this house, which only calls up suffering and death 
to the imagination, I made my way to the Pantheon, where 


DIARY 


241 

none but bright and robust company attend for balls and 
concerts in the winter. 

The main entrance is on the Oxford Street side, and its 
fa9ade is copied from the Pantheon in Rome. The architect 
only half knew what he was about, though he certainly kept 
society in mind — and was acquainted with the decorative 
style to suit a building of that kind; and succeeded in spending 
the ninety thousand pounds sterling: but the astonishingly 
high hall, cut down below by colonnades, and surrounded by 
a gallery, is supposed to be unfavourable to music, for even 
Mara’s splendid voice did not stand out there, as the sound 
becomes diffused. But it is excellent for masquerades; from 
these broad galleries where the statues of the graces and all 
the gods and goddesses are arrayed I should very much like 
to see English nymphs and sylph-like figures wandering in 
and out; for when the many thousands of wax candles are 
alight, the building is said to look entrancing. The tea-, 
coffee- and refreshment - room really requires effective 
illumination, as it is placed in the basement beneath the 
ballroom. 

The Prussian ambassador’s councillor to the legation, who 
comes from Neufchatel, and knows the esteemed Generalin 
V. Sandoz and all my friends there, paid me a delightful visit 
at my home. His report that the excellent Mme. Bertrand 
was to have graced a post with the British princesses, and yet 
had preferred Frankenthal, was grievous news to me. So 
even the keenest mind can be shortsighted. My dear 
Mme. Bertrand would have been so worthy of the happiness 
of being with these princesses and their royal mother. It was 
also vexatious to know that there are six hundred Sandozes 
alive, for it is always desirable for a person of distinction to 
possess a name peculiar to them. 

Count Woronzoff, a man of great nobility and distinction, 
also honoured me with a visit; and when he heard that I had 
been at Boydell’s and Bartolozzi’s he discussed this art with 
great knowledge and understanding; mentioning more 

a 


242 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

especially Cipriani’s and Bartolozzi’s merits. He said that 
before their time engraving had meant very little over here, 
but had now grown into a branch of commerce worth four 
times a hundred thousand pounds sterling. He hopes the 
nation will grant Cipriani’s son a pension. 

As he had been ambassador in Turin, and from there had 
made a tour through the whole of Italy, he showed great 
spirit and acumen in the discourse on the art, customs and 
character of this nation, which differs so intrinsically from 
England. He sings the praises of his queen, rather as an 
honest man appreciative of her merits than as a courtier or 
an underling delivering base flattery. I hope to see the good 
man at his home where he lives, the tenderest of fathers and of 
husbands, solely for his two children, offspring of the wife 
he lost and worshipped. 

I do not think I am offending Her Majesty, the great 
Catherine, when I say that the private character of being 
an honest and excellent man, attributed to Count Woronzoff, 
made his visit just as valuable as his public function of 
ambassador. We spent the afternoon with our noble, sick 
friend, and the evening with the valued Hurters, where 
Mr. Grand was invited for tea and was glad to hear me 
speak of his beloved Lord Savile’s bust. On my repeating 
Mr. Nolleken’s encomiums he sighed, but said quite charm- 
ingly, Tt cannot even be said of me, ‘‘Blessed are they who 
die in the Lord, for their works follow after them”; Lord 
Savile’s education was the best I have performed, and he has 
overtaken me.’ I gladly remembered Jacobi’s thoughts in the 
prologue to his Elysium^ and so spoke the lines: 

‘A ray of his bright virtue goes before. 

It gently gleams on the nocturnal shore.’ 

Thus, I fancied, was the death of his unforgettable pupil. 

I received another letter from Mrs. Hastings, telling me that 
she was calling the next morning. I admit I looked forward 


DIARY 


243 

immensely to meeting this woman personally, for her fate and 
the varied rumours regarding her reputation make her 
remarkable. 1 heard lier story four years ago from a very 

estimable man and near relation of Mr. v. J , who took 

her as his wife, first to England, and then to the East Indies, 
and left her there with two children in order to buy a home 
in Europe with the money he had earned by dint of toil and 
talent. She asked him for a divorce bill, however, and 
received it after four years, and then, before the eyes of the 
entire East Indies, became the wife of Mr. Warren Hastings, 
Governor-General of all the English possessions. Her faithful 
love for her mother, brother and other poor relatives have 
already impressed me favourably, and I await her with like 
regard and curiosity. 


Sept. 2g 

After breakfast we visited the famous sculptor. Bacon, to 
see the statue of General Rodney, to be erected by the inhabi- 
tants of Jamaica as a token of their gratitude to his courage 
and ability in preserving their trade and their fatherland for 
them. 

My first impression of the portrait made me wish immedi- 
ately that Rodney would pay a personal visit to the island, 
and make use of this fanatical gratitude to persuade the 
proprietors of the too extensive tracts of land on this ex- 
tremely fertile isle, to submit half of their huge possessions 
lying there untilled to other planters, and to replant their 
own half with those magnificent mahogany forests for their 
successors, for it is asserted that this wood grows most success- 
fully on Jamaican soil, and that by dividing these vast acres, 
the property of some three hundred families, a hundred 
thousand extra people could comfortably be supported out 
there; this would raise the value of an acre of land, now only 
worth fifteen to twenty pounds sterling, to thirty and fifty 
pounds sterling. 

The thought of some hundred thousand people living in 


244 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

comparative prosperity absorbed me for a while, mingled 
with the idea that one of the largest tracts of land, endowed 
so bountifully by nature with fertility, would thereby 
flourish in all its wealth of beauty. And since a generous, 
frank and sympathetic nature is generally attributed to the 
inhabitants of this happy isle; that learning, a knowledge of 
the world and good taste dwell in their midst; and the 
women possess (when they wish to, one might add) a love of 
comfort and cleanliness, a bright disposition, humility, geiitle 
manners, are clever with the needle, and the art of keeping 
house, I sincerely hoped they might all be alike in this, for 
affluent young men are thus prevented from keeping Moorish 
women, it is said, and enter more readily into matrimonial 
ties, and so the sons of these three hundred landed estate 
owners would certainly till fresh areas and bring up fine new 
families. It seems to me, if one were to tell the good English 
women of Jamaica that they could create happiness for one 
hundred thousand people by increased practice of these 
virtues, it would have more effect than Mr. Brown’s method 
of heavily taxing untilled estates. 

But let me return to the statue whose Roman dress reminds 
one of Roman agrarian laws. The figure is more than life- 
size, baton in hand, like a general commanding victory. 
The head is said to be an extremely good likeness; it has all 
the signs of a keen and contemplative man who has made a 
firm decision and is bent on carrying it through. 

Perhaps chance favoured this monument, for at precisely 
the same time Bacon was working on a statue of Mars, and 
so had to acquire an intimate knowledge of noble martial 
bearing; his Mars is supposed to be much finer than the 
Venus which is to stand opposite the former. 

I was sorry Bacon was not present when I heard his model 
of Venus adversely criticised, as I should have searched his 
face to try and discover what part of his character enables 
him to create a man stirred by ambition and imperiousness 
more successfully than a gently alluring, lovely woman. But 


DIARY 


245 


for another reason, too, 1 should have kept critics and artist 
in opposite camps, as the former not only found Venus 
lacking the infinite charms of the goddess of beauty, but also 
condemned her expression of modesty befitting rather the 
Venus Urania than the friend of Mars; for I thought it 
significant of Bacon and his critics that the sculptor aimed at 
a combination of beauty and propriety, while the latter 
desired a coy and sensuous interpretation. The battle was 
indecisive. 

We saw the model for a statue of Lord Chatham, next a very 
noble picture in half-relief representing a nymph mourning, 
leaning against a pedestal, and from this there hung a cypress 
wreath to which she points with melancholy grace. 

I never saw so many blocks of marble nor such excellent 
chimney dressings, unless I include the ones at Osterley Park. 
Garlands of fruit and flowers are so finely wrought as though 
the marble altered its very texture beneath Bacon’s chisel 
and could be modelled like wax. I stayed a long while so as 
to watch the under-workmen employed on some delightful 
Greek figures designed for a monument. 

Mr. Rigaud, a French painter and friend of Mr. Bacon’s, 
came to make his customary inspection of the workmen, and 
we were thus given the pleasure of seeing all the models and 
completed works shut away in the ante-rooms. 

He then took us through Bacon’s garden to his own house, 
where he showed us a ceiling which he is painting piece by 
piece, and which should look very delightful. We also saw 
the original of the portraits of Cipriani, Bartolozzi and 
Carlini, and still more interesting a picture of the American, 
Joseph Brand, who became eminent as the leader of a party 
of natives, and came to London some years back, when 
Rigaud painted him full-length in national costume. The 
dress, strong colours and flame red which the native 
Americans paint their cheeks in battle gives him quite a 
grim and fearsome look. Rigaud also made an attempt to 
illustrate the story of the Duchess of C. from Adele and 


246 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Theodore, but his brush does not draw its inspiration fiom 
the genius which ruled the Genlis pen, and the pictures show 
very little of the tale. 

I then hurried home so as not to miss Mrs. Hastings visit. 

I was expecting to see an unusual woman, and was confronted 
with traits of delicate beauty, a fine figure, elegant in all 
her movements, kind, modest and very intelligent; she speaks 
a delicious fluent English and German still surprisingly well, 
also Persian, Indian and French. Her manner was that of a 
young friend meeting an elderly acquaintance again after 
long absence, glad to have her unusual experiences regarded 
with sympathy. This woman deserves to be liked, as well as 
admired for her subtle mind. She made a very correct and 
astute criticism of Mr. Hurter’s enamels, and proposes to set 
a new fashion of wearing men’s portraits in the buckle of one’s 
belt. She spoke of her husband with grateful affection and 
respect, and gave frank intelligent answers to all my 
questions. She invited me to a homely meal en famille 
to-morrow, midday, as she and Mr. Hastings had come to 
town from their estate on purpose to see me. She returned 
home at half-past three; she was the subject of our discussion 
for quite a while afterwards, and then I visited the four 
Stevenson sisters’ educational establishment, already men- 
tioned above, having procured an introduction from Lady 
Fielding to her three nieces. Even for the parents and closest 
relations the only day reserved for seeing the young ladies is 
that of the main dancing-class, as they are not allowed too 
many diversions. 

We arrived at a large house on Queen’s Square; a liveried 
attendant led us from the pretty hall into the visitors’ room, 
where the damask draperies, fine lustres fitted to the wall, 
mirrors and two sofas, in every way resembled the interior of 
a wealthy home. One of the sisters received me very 
courteously, spoke a very good French, and to my surprise 
was dressed in that fashion. She accepted our compliments 
with great dignity and then showed me a portrait of her 


DIARY 


247 

mother, saying: ‘The happiness which this woman has given 
us, by means of friendship and education, incited us to devote 
our lives to education and the spread of culture with the 
sweets of friendship more universally amongst our sex.’ 
Then she conducted us through an ante-chamber, where a 
very prettily dressed attendant was sitting with her needle- 
work, and opened the door of the apartment. I can find 
nothing to compare with the entrance and the spectacle it 
afforded, except those great English conservatories where 
flowers and magnificent shrubs are planted in blossoming 
hillocks or tiers. In the background of the well-lit hall, was 
an amphitheatre with green upholstered benches, where sat 
over a hundred pretty creatures watching the girls dancing; 
they also occupied the benches along the sides of the hall and 
we took our seats opposite the amphitheatre. Our entry was 
like a west wind blowing over a hill covered with lilies, 
orange blossoms, jasmine and white roses and causing them 
to sway gently; for they all rose and bowed, were all dressed 
in white, and only their unpowdered brown hair and green, 
red, blue and violet girdles cast a kind of shadow and broke 
the brilliance; the light, white caps lay in neat, almost 
fantastic folds, quite artlessly tied, and the curls in rolls on the 
prettiest of necks. Angel visions wherever our gaze roved, 
and the beauty of the pretty creatures was surprising, ranging 
from six to sixteen years of age. The movement along the 
benches of the amphitheatre was very sweet when it was 
their turn to dance, for they were exercised six couples at a 
time for minuets, and the same number for folk-dancing. I 
was just as pleased as they were when it was time to dance 
the latter, for at this age one is far more addicted to skipping 
than to the measured and tiring paces of the minuet. They 
have a good dancing-master and the girls are eager to learn, 
as they are already quite advanced and promise to make 
good dancers. I especially noted their shoes, and found that 
they were fitted to the foot’s natural form as they would have 
been chosen in Greece in the time of Aspasia; made like the 


248 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

Turkish slippers men are in the habit of wearing, of green, 
red or yellow morocco leather. I cannot describe how light 
and naturally graceful these young persons were, but such 
dancing certainly means more to the noble patriot than the 
greatest ballet in an opera, for what true humanitarian could 
look indifferently upon nearly two hundred young people 
in the purest bloom of life and talent growing up with virtue 
and wisdom for a guide; all daughters of good families, whose 
example will always be of great influence in their various 
counties and their own family circle. The excellent 
Stephenson told me that the annual visits home had not all 
been paid yet, and that they could not abolish this custom 
as they would like; for it increased the educational difflculties, 
as one or the other of the girls always returned with morally 
harmful or misguided notions which, however, they tried to 
turn to account as material for insight into human nature, 
thus making it a self-defence in life. During an interval I 
asked to see the Misses Bridges, Mrs. Fielding’s nieces; the 
instructresses sitting on one side called them across and I 
saw three delightful forms between nine and fourteen years 
old, with beautifully moulded features, eyes, mouth, nose, 
neck and breast, a lovely skin and billowy brown curls on the 
finest napes in the world. When I spoke to them of their aunt, 
a sweet little five-year-old maiden^ came running up and 
introduced herself. On being asked what she wanted, ‘Oh,’ 
she said, ‘the Misses Bridges were called across to this lady, she 
is talking to my sisters and so I want to find out whether she 
would not like to speak to me too, as I am also a Miss 
Bridges.’ Impossible to describe how adorable the little girl 
looked meanwhile. The Stephensons keep their methods 
secret, otherwise they would not have refused to divulge 
them to the Duchess of Milan. This much revered princess 
spent three hours in this house, inspecting everything; she 
found curriculum and lessons excellent, and particularly 
admired the way the girls are accustomed to orderliness and 

^ Diarist’s inconsistency, see p. 247. 


DIARY 


249 


work, while they may learn anything that temperament and 
talents fit them for, for all their things are specially supervised, 
books, musical and mathematical instruments, paint things, 
personal ornament and dress. 

My mind wandered to St. Cyr and all I had witnessed 
there Tor comparison; admittedly, if ever I had disbelieved 
in national cast of feature, I should certainly have been 
con\’inced by the spectacle and memories of to-day. The 
number of well-proportioned figures and fine features might 
amount to approximately two hundred here, but the contrast 
in character and mentality is striking. At St. Cyr a hundred 
faces sparkled, as numerous bright ideas played upon their 
features. While here, from out the greater number of large 
lovely eyes with their slower movement, there gazed a 
dignity indicative of pride. The French girl’s fiery eye 
showed an obstinacy and spirit of fun. The English girl’s 
bordered on coldness and reserve. At St. Cyr they were 
bubbling with merriment and joke, and seemed more readily 
amused and interested than the English, who are inclined to 
pensiveness and more enduring passion. I should not close so 
soon were I to relate all my impressions; but Cipriani would 
certainly have made the loveliest pictures of these varying 
shades. A memory of France occurred to me in arithmetical 
form— on admiring the lovely complexion and beauty of these 
young folk I wondered how many calves would one day have 
to be slaughtered, if the skin of these two hundred and twenty 
girls was to be preserved in perfect freshness by being 
plastered with veal still at blood heat, in the way that ageing 
French women on waking up treat their faces, breasts and 
arms so as to nourish the shrivelling skin and keep it full. 

I only wished that now were the time for the dancing- 
masters’ great annual ball, held in one of London’s most 
magnificent halls, and where academy pupils of both sexes 
dance together; all the parents subscribe to it and dress up 
their children, sit all round as spectators, and are either 
amused or annoyed, according to the amount of applause 


250 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

their children receive. I should love to witness Britons, old 
and young, at such a scene of petty vanities; but I shall have 
to forgo this pleasure, and only hope that the boys of dis- 
tinguished people receive as fine and good an education as 
the girls in Queen’s Square are taught good conduct and 
accomplishments. 

Anyone who has seen or heard the Duke and Duchess of 
Milan, speak with high regard of both; partly because they 
were so natural and courteous towards every one, and partly 
because of their great respect for the arts and sciences and 
their desire for greater knowledge of them. The English 
people very much liked what the arch-duke said at Green- 
wich, namely, that ‘He was no longer surprised at the number 
of excellent men in the English navy, as the royal provision 
made for old and invalid sailors must prove most encouraging 
to the young ones.’ 


Sept. JO 

To-day we went to Greenwich ourselves. At the outset the 
weather was lovely, but changed to heavy rain during the 
journey, so that there was a dense curtain of fog on both sides 
of the coach which prevented our enjoying the neighbouring 
view; we could only notice that the route was a lively one, 
as we encountered a large number of riders and vehicles of all 
types. To our joy it cleared up a little around Greenwich, so 
that the majestic pile was visible from afar, rising sheer above 
quantities of ships’ masts; but when we alighted it began 
raining again, so that my walk through the great peristyle 
was spoiled. 

The six buildings of this hospital, which stand detached, 
facing the Thames, are not only large and extensive in 
character, but of grand and noble structure, creating the 
impression of summer palaces, which so many great lords had 
planned to build here, rather than of a residence for sick 
sailors. 

The glorious river, where battleships and merchantmen. 


DIARY 


251 


built ill the neighbouring Deptford, always lie at anchor, and 
the Woolwich cannon foundry adjacent, must bring back 
to the two thousand old seamen supported here pleasant 
memories of early days, about which they spin yarns to the 
one hundred and forty boys being trained for marine service. 

Their dormitories are very pleasant; large, light and lofty, 
with cubicles containing glass windows on the side, where 
each has his own bed, small table, chair, wardrobe, tea and 
smoking outfit which he can lock up. No humanitarian with 
a philosophical turn of mind could be indifferent to the way 
in which they decorate their cubicles: a number of them have 
sea and land charts, with the voyages they have made 
marked out on them, or spots where storms have been over- 
come or battles fought, where they have lost an arm or a 
leg, or conquered an enemy ship, and so on; others have 
stuck figures of every nationality on cardboard, others of 
strange beasts in foreign lands, while a number have collected 
books in several languages with which they amuse themselves. 

The corridors are wide enough to admit of eight people 
walking abreast. It is all beautifully panelled and the floor 
is covered with rugs. In the centre of each passage there 
stands a large fireplace around which a crowd of men were 
sitting; two of them had a bench in the corridor, where they 
sat astride, leaning up against each other at play; and beneath 
it was a chamber (in good old English fashion) for their 
mutual use, so as they should not have to leave their labours. 

Everything is spotless. Each man has two white shirts 
weekly, and a hundred and four women are employed to do 
the laundry and keep the place clean. 

Their dining-halls and kitchens are on the ground-floor, 
fitted with strong pillars supporting the vaulted roof; the 
tables are marble— they were laid— cloths and pewter are 
beautifully clean so that they should relish their large 
portion of meat and vegetables, and their beer mugs brightly 
polished. 

I was very touched on seeing them approach from all 


252 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

directions when the gong had sounded : across the quadrangles, 
along the dormitories, built in the finest Roman style, there 
hurried hundreds of well-dressed, contented-looking old men 
into the dining-room, despite their crutches and missing arms 
or senility. 

The large chapel was burned down some years ago and 
services are now held in the great hall, which has pillars along 
the side walls so artistically and deceptively painted that 
they must be touched to convince one that the chamfers are 
not hewn. Had the illusory statues in the niches been 
Cipriani’s handiwork, then this hall might have boasted the 
flower of this kind of painting. By the soldiers’ benches I saw 
woven praying-stools similar to those in Windsor. 

The quadrangles are paved with large slabs of Portland 
stone; the statue of Charles ii stands in the centre, and two 
large globes carved from stone are erected here, one of which 
depicts Admiral Anson’s voyage round the world. 

We walked as far as the railings by the Thames. I gazed 
up and down this mighty river which is of such significance 
to the realm, and saw numerous ships near Deptford; 
pondered on the twelve thousand vessels employed by English 
commerce, the three hundred and fifty battleships which 
convey the wealth and character of the nation best of all, 
for they combine greater luxury and elegance and more real 
comfort than any other nation or type of vessel can provide: 
they are mostly copper-lined, possess ventilators to renew the 
air inside; lightning eonductors; distillatory apparatus so as 
to make the sea-water drinkable in case of urgent need; 
bake-ovens so as to bake bread in mid-ocean, and that 
people should no longer be compelled to eat mouldy pastry; 
forges and quantities of dried tablets made from meat-broth 
so as to sustain the people’s strength. 

By this means both the danger and the difficulties of 
maritime service are diminished. All are well paid. And if 
one considers that this great trading realm possesses a 
merchant society which maintains an army eighty thousand 


DIARY 


253 

strong and having an income of six million pounds sterling, 
this leads to a series of reflections, arousing alternate pleasure 
and admiration at the ability and effectiveness of the human 
mind, and fear and horror at the abuse of these advantages. 

The rain deprived me of a visit to Greenwich Park and 
Captain Cook’s goat, which, after accompanying him on his 
voyage round the world and supplying him with fresh milk, 
had also earned the recognition of the marines and permission 
to spend the remainder of her days amongst the tars, where 
she may eat her fill without disturbance. 

We went to Deptford and wanted to see the shipping wharf; 
but this was not allowed, and I was only rewarded while 
waiting for permission by seeing the carpenters go out 
through the gate for lunch, each carrying his ration of wood 
on his shoulder, while a number carried a large net full of 
shavings. A nice sight indeed, this crowd of family fathers 
with their domestic provision of tinder going to their midday 
soup, weary from their labours and honest toil. God! how 
small a portion of these six million guineas they help to earn, 
falls to their lot! They were mostly fine-looking fellows; 
many of them with the eye of a mathematician, still making 
calculations. In them I saw embodied the fine English 
schools, where the citizen’s son, like the son of the aristocrat, 
is taught all kinds of mathematics and really good Latin. 
I am sure many of them will be reading the papers this 
evening and talking of the common welfare; watching for 
the names of outgoing and incoming vessels, glad to find some 
amongst the number on which they have worked, or to read 
of an institution doing honour and useful service to the 
nation. 

The respect with which our coachman had to treat these 
working-people, not being allowed to turn in the narrow 
street until they had passed, gave me time to consider and 
contemplate them. In the meantime the sky had lightened a 
little, and we were able to see the fine surroundings and villas 
on the hill-side on our return drive. 


254 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

I was touched to find an orphanage founded even in 
Deptford, and only hoped that the many houses bearing the 
inscription ‘boarding-school’ or ‘educational academy for 
boys and girls,’ would possess men and women for teachers 
with ideas as practical and manners as attractive as were the 
houses and district from the outside; for I was afraid in 
some cases mere conceit because of a fancied erudition, and 
an avarice promising itself great benefits, had founded such 
institutions, so that the children are tyrannised by the 
former and the parents fleeced by the latter, and in the end 
the children are either neglected or spoiled. 

Mrs. Hastings sent her coach for me and I dined alone with 
her husband, herself and one of her friends. 

They live at St. James’ Place, and the main apartments have 
a view on to Hyde Park, which I thought was most fortunate, 
and Mrs. Hastings agrees with me, for she loves the beauty of 
nature and quiet repose. I had an extremely pleasant chat 
with her, and found she fully deserved the reputation for 
modesty and goodness of heart bestowed on her by all her 
acquaintances. Her general comportment is sufficient 
evidence that she can fill the position of vice-queen with 
dignity and charm. She is now forty-one, lovely still, and 
possesses a broad, pleasing intellect. In this house I also 
observed how careful people are with their pictures and 
household goods on removal to the country; all the frames 
are wrapped in paper and cloth and everything well 
protected; so I saw very little of the East Indian glory, but 
all the more of a great man’s mind. 

Mr. Hastings is of medium height and has one of the 
noblest and most manly faces I have ever seen: large, fiery, 
blue eyes, keen and friendly; a mind peculiarly adapted to 
great things, for I have never yet met with thought so 
precise, expression so terse, and remarks so subtle or an 
intellect so keen, tempered with such infinite charm. This 
man, once Governor-General of the East Indies, with 
twenty million people under him, showed us the pictures 


DIARY 


255 


he had had painted in India, of cities and districts, forts, 
temples and palaces, with gracious affability and without 
the least sign of arrogance. He has brought back diagrams 
of different parts of a great Indian temple, centuries old, 
combining Greek and Gothic styles of architecture of infinite 
work and beauty. On hearing my fellow-traveller express 
his admiration, Mr. Hastings said: ‘You see how unjust is 
our European attitude when we take these people for 
ignorant barbarians; believe me, they are fine, splendid 
people.’ 

The picture of an Indian palace on the Ganges was 
magnificent; what a great thought it seemed to me: several 
hundred columns to support a room which is made up of a 
combination of squares and octagons culminating in an open 
gallery where an unusually fine view may be enjoyed. This 
glorious edifice stands at the point of a peninsula, around 
two sides of which flows the Ganges. Perhaps there are 
banyan forests there, about which tree Hastings related that 
it first grows fully twelve feet high, then twines its branches 
round until they curve to the ground where they take root, 
and out of their trunk the branches repeat the process, 
taking root once more, so that from one such trunk springs 
a forest of quarter of an hour’s compass. Some of the country 
shown in his drawings was magnificent: the Tibetan mountains 
look grand, though they are partly covered in eternal snow, 
like Mont Blanc in Savoy. 

I received a sad reply to my inquiry about the burning of 
the women-folk after the death of their men. This custom 
still prevails, strengthened by every possible prejudice; for it 
is not part of their religious creed any more than the burning 
of the unhappy captives during the Inquisition bears out 
Christian doctrines. Pride forces the Indian woman to her 
fiery death, for a woman outliving her husband becomes 
slave to all the harem, and she is scorned by all her and her 
husband’s relatives: her hair is shorn, she has to perform the 
most menial tasks of the house, and is constantly tortured 


256 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

with reproofs for her lack of honour and courage. The 
alternative, on the other hand, promises her the place of 
demi-goddess in another world, counts her amongst the 
heroes, and tells of her husband’s eternal gratitude; just as 
both families are honoured by her deed and immediately 
raised to noble rank. The priests are also certain to seize 
all the jewels, gifts of gold and silver which this poor sacrifice 
to vain illusion brings to the pyre. 

I have never met a European who did not shudder on 
being told this tale; and yet if we look round, the power of 
superstition has influenced us just as strongly through the 
centuries. Poor old women were burned for having a sick 
cow, just as the young Indian wife must burn for a dead 
husband, who often did not love her nor she him. What did 
the blind religious fanaticism of the Inquisition not perpetrate? 
and still does? Poor Indians, poor Europeans! I must turn 
from such reflections, they cast a gloom over my days and 
substitute no bright ones in their stead. 

Mr. Hastings once received evidence of the strength of 
these prejudices. He took an Indian woman to his palace and 
tried to dissuade her from her intention by the use of every 
rational and emotional argument; but she held her finger in 
the candle until he fairly shuddered and opened the door for 
her, suggesting that she might dispose of herself as she 
pleased. Was not the charitable doctrine of Christian religion 
constantly misinterpreted by religious fanatics? Was it ever 
really pursued? 

I wish I might tell Mrs. Hastings’ narrative of her stay 
in Benares as well as she did herself, with that spirit of love 
and esteem for her husband. 

When for twenty long days Mr. Hastings was in the gravest 
danger and defending himself against Cheyt Singh with all 
possible strategy and fearlessness, attempting meanwhile to 
spur on the loyal Indians, she was in Benares without news 
of him; yet had wisdom and courage enough to appear 
cheerful, entertain and pretend she was having the best news, 


DIARY 


257 

although all she knew was that a number of decapitated 
bodies were floating down the Ganges, and that such might 
be the fate of her husband and his friends; for which reason 
she spent her nights weeping and praying, but comported 
herself with calm and composure towards England’s greatest 
enemies during the day; and finally a loyal Indian brought 
her a tiny note hidden in a pigeon’s feather stuffed up his 
nose, bearing good tidings from her husband; for all previous 
messengers had been taken prisoner and killed. 

Mr. Hastings assured us that Benares was only held by his 
beloved wife’s courage and astuteness. 

In Germany rumour is rife— ^but this woman fully deserves 
the hard-earned happiness she now enjoys, after a multitude 
of sorrows. I asked her about a number of anecdotes, for 
instance the one about the string of pearls thrown into the 
sea, which she had left in the basin after washing her hands. 
With a smile she said: ‘No! I was not so foolish as to walk 
around the ship with handfuls of pearls during a six-months 
voyage; but my friend and I wanted to wash our pearls, as 
salt water is best for them. In the last basin of water I left 
one string behind, which really was thrown into the sea with 
the water. The young man was quite expecting to be 
punished, but it would really have been most unjust of me 
to wreak vengeance on him for my carelessness, as I had given 
him instructions to empty the basin.’ She still has two Indian 
men in her service; but she could not keep the four maids 
she brought across as they refused to work any harder than 
in India, and wanted to lead exactly the same life; it is due 
in effect to this mode of life that distinguished people out 
there have to keep so many servants to get the work done, for 
the heat makes the limbs so languid that no one can do more 
than one piece of work, and having done this must go to 
bed and rest — according to Mrs. Hastings, who was obliged 
to do this herself, and only rose occasionally to fetch fresh 
linen and put new mattresses on. But when the sun has set, 
company comes and the evenings are spent as in London, 

R 


258 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

over tea, games, dancing and chatting; punch and ices are 
imbibed until dawn sees one home again by palanquin. 

Here in London they live in retreat, as Mr. Hastings 
resembles all those who have lived in the East Indies; the 
damp, cool air gives them bouts of ague, so whatever company 
they are in, they return home at ten o’clock, read or talk an 
hour and then go to bed, but, contrary to English practice, 
are up again the next morning at seven. He loves his wife 
intensely, as also his king, and respects his queen. 

Someone asked him whether he did not think England 
might one day lose India as she lost America. ‘Yes,’ he 
replied, ‘in precisely the same way as she lost America — 
through the people in Parliament — in no other way.’ 

While we were talking about the Indian womien being 
burned at their husbands’ death, noticing my disgust he said, 
‘One should always observe the effects of zeal and how they 
may lead one astray, and mark the difference between an 
action carried out with pomp and circumstance and one 
effected by very simple medium, like that of the Roman 
matron Aria, who, hearing of her husband’s death sentence, 
stabs herself with a dagger, draws it out again and offers it 
to her husband, with the words “Peto, non dolet.” Such quiet 
simplicity will endure through all generations, will stir and 
win the sympathy of noble minds, while the Indian women’s 
sacrifice kindles one’s wrath.’ In reply I admitted the great 
beauty of Aria’s action, but supposed there were few people 
ignorant of the pain incurred by burning, which feeling 
increased one’s horror at the Indian women’s death. But I 
was argued down by a comparison of the fine picture of 
Queen Eleanor of England sucking the deadly poison from 
her husband’s wound— and a woman who took poison as a 
result of some great passion— for the type of death was 
similar in these two cases, but the motive in the first case 
made it a beautiful and touching action, while in the second 
sympathy was mingled with repulsion. 

Mr. Hastings’ thoughtful and friendly mien is full of 


DIARY 


259 

grateful obligation when he hears an idea that pleases him; 
then he replies with some subtle observations, never saying 
anything coarse or ambiguous, even against his enemies, 
and all his remarks on Burke’s The Sublime and Beautiful were 
great, simple and noble. I asked him to publish his collection 
of paintings and drawings of India, and to give them to some 
good young artist, not to the already prosperous Alderman 
Boydell. 


Sunday, Oct. i 

We only took a drive to-day, and divided our evening 
between charming old Mr. Grand and the excellent Kirwan. 

Grand was glad I admired Montague and had visited his 
grave; and I added my lament to the general lamentation 
for the death of Lady Eliot Pitt, sister of the minister, reputed 
to have been one of England’s most noble ladies, and her 
loss is all the sadder for such a trifling cause; for her ladyship, 
who was only just recovering from a very bad confinement, 
and was sitting up for a short while, rose from her chair, which 
the nurse then withdrew, so that when she came to sit down 
again she fell so heavily that her already feeble frame was 
shattered by the shock, and death was the result. Her 
husband and distinguished brother are said to be overcome 
with grief. Both nursed and waited on her during her last 
hours, and after the dear lady had put her affairs in order 
in preparation for death, she invited her husband and brother 
to receive the last communion with her, and so seal their 
former harmony of ideas by this last sacred act. They 
acquiesced, and it is said none can imagine a scene more 
pathetic. Lady Eliot was now composed, and for some few 
moments appeared happy; then mustered all her strength, 
thanked her husband and brother for the love they had 
shown her, and requested them to leave her for ever. 

‘My soul has no further desires on this earth,’ she said; 
‘what my body requires the nurses will administer.’ And 
so she took her leave, peaceful as an angel after wandering 


26o SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

this earth for a short space, looking back at virtues performed 
along the way; and forward at the eternal bliss to come. 

Kirwan mentioned the death of the great physicist and 
chemist. Price, who gave a great deal of time and labour to 
the investigation of metals, and finally laid claim to the certain 
discovery of a method of turning silver into gold^. . . . 

Mr. Kirwan praised your brother Carl, asked me about 
everything I had seen, and wished we had come in the spring 
and taken a number of short excursions into the country; he 
would have accompanied us on some of them and introduced 
me to some quaint moral characters, so as to have thrown 
greater light and shade on my remarks. ^ 


Oct. 2 

This morning Mr. Hastings, his wife and Major Scott, 
renowned for his loyal friendship and great oratorical gifts, 
called on me. I was astonished to find so great a character 
in this florid, pink-and-white man, one who champions truth 
and his persecuted friend so staunchly, and I liked their 
noble, simple manner towards one another. 

I asked the major how it was that his friend was persecuted, 
and received the reply that in the mixed monarchical- 
republican government of England, just that violence and 
sincerity of character were interwoven which were uppermost 
when Athens’ fortunes were at their height; men of excellent 
merits and great popularity were treated as traitors to the 
common good, and complaints from jealous and self-seeking 
enemies, knowing what power lay behind the mob, were 
used to stop the love and respect which it should render any 
man of real distinction. 

This little demonstration of the fine art of rhetoric made 
me wish to listen once to the parliamentary debates, since I 

1 Anecdote of Price’s demonstration, failure and subsequent suicide omitted 
as irrelevant. 

2 Anecdote of some of Kirwan’s students and their whimsical relatives 
omitted as irrelevant. 


DIARY 


261 


admire this part of English liberty intensely — it is a hue 
thing for a man with a love and knowledge of truth, or one 
recognising harmful mistakes or noticing the errors made by 
authority, to be allowed to stand up and speak on behalf of 
the common good or for the rights of some persecuted 
individual, with his whole mental perspicacity and out of 
the warmness of his heart. This public use of our rights is of 
far more value to the general welfare than the bitter gibes 
and complaints, to which private societies and their humours 
give vent, as is the case in other realms and governments. 

Mr. Hastings displayed great knowledge as he discussed 
some enamel paintings and mathematical and physical 
instruments which he noticed in the room, shown us by 
Mr. Hurter’s eldest son. He was especially taken with the 
device for demonstrating how a sphere in constant revolution 
must finally become flattened on two sides, as happened to 
this earth of ours. 

I was most pleased to hear a man of Hastings’ ability 
praise my dear friend Hurter as a man of genius, and I 
thought Hastings was to be admired for not allowing his 
knowledge acquired in earlier years, and love of science and 
literature, to be obliterated by the tedious political and 
involved constitutional affairs in which peace and war, 
nations and individuals, wealth and commerce demanded 
his whole attention. I promised very readily indeed to go to 
Beaumont Lodge on Thursday and spend the whole day 
with them. Mr. Hastings wrote down the route I was to 
follow, and said as they were leaving, ‘Come early, as we 
rise at seven, and have a great deal to talk about.’ 

This afternoon I took a walk up and down that lovely 
Oxford Street, so as to take a good look at all the houses and 
the numerous shops. Our imagination, dear children, is 
not nearly big enough to picture the quantities of inventions 
and improvements. I found another shop here like the one 
in Paris, containing every possible make of woman’s shoe; 
there was a woman buying shoes in here for herself and 


262 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

her small daughter; the latter was searching amongst the 
dolls’ shoes in one case for some to fit the doll she had with 
her. But the linen-shops are the loveliest; every kind of white 
wear, from swaddling-clothes to shrouds, and any species of 
linen, can be had. Nightcaps for ladies and children, trimmed 
with muslin or various kinds of Brussels lace, more exquisitely 
stitched than I ever saw before. I already wrote you about 
the petticoats for infants of six months to hoary age. 
People, I noticed, like to have their children with them and 
take them out into the air, and they wrap them up well, 
though their feet are always bare and sockless. 

I ventured another stroll to Green Park, adjoining St. 
James’ Park, and was surprised at being able to walk so many 
miles, was glad to strike some of the streets in which the 
butchers are housed, and interested to find the meat so fine 
and shops so deliciously clean; all the goods were spread on 
snow-white cloths, and cloths of similar whiteness were 
stretched out behind the large hunks of meat hanging up; 
no blood anywhere, no dirt; the shop-walls and doors were 
all spruce, balance and weights brightly polished. Bread 
likewise laid out on white cloths; the assistants are decently 
clad, and the master fairly courteous, though no Englishman 
will ever pay one compliments, for they are not taught 
cringing respect for people of rank or affluence; they know 
that their greetings and thanks are unbidden. I saw a number 
of people standing near an engraver’s, in front of some 
caricatures, the subject of which was the life and 
marriage of the Prince of Wales; they are sold to the public. 
The bridal-chamber struck us, partly because of the picture 
of Danae whomjupiter conquered by means of the golden rain, 
token of the worldly qualities of the lady, who holds the prince 
enthralled, and partly because of the three ostrich feathers, 
the Prince of Wales’ crest since 1346. We laughed at the 
change wrought by 440 years. Edward ill’s son, who so 
distinguished himself in the battle of Crecy by his wisdom and 
daring, tore these three feathers from the King of Bohemia’s 


DIARY 


263 

helmet, a parly to the French side whicli Edward overcame 
through his son; this picture presents them upside down on 
the bride’s night-chamber. We also saw some portraits of 
Count Cagliostro and his wife and numerous reproductions 
of the royal family, which I should have liked to buy, as I 
thought them good likenesses. Soon after I was in Green 
Park; we sat on a bench near the lovely lake, and I rejoiced 
for all the good people in this large metropolis who cannot 
afford country-seats, and who wear their eyes out at their 
daily toil, and are always inhaling the atmosphere of their 
own room, that they could rest their eyes of an evening on 
the verdant green, refresh themselves here in the air, on this 
large friendly plot sown with trees, and far from all the stir, 
where none but rural, pleasant objects meet the eye; for even 
the royal palace presents an intimate bourgeois aspect from 
here, as from St. James’ Park, so that the idea of sovereign 
or monarch can scarcely oppress the passer-by or spoil his 
recreation. My good Helvetian friend, who was with me, 
agreed with these remarks, and added that every honest man 
could confidently look upon this bourgeois palace, as he 
knows that in the king and queen are combined every virtue 
of paternity and motherhood. Some reflections on the 
national character followed; I thought it a very happy thing 
for the children to be allowed a freedom of ideas, certainly 
the main source of the peculiarly healthy mind to be met 
with more in England than anywhere else. Admittedly, with 
Wendeborn one agrees that Oxford and Cambridge produce 
arch-pedants, the Methodists arch-fanatics, the governing 
High Church arch-orthodoxy, while there are many English- 
men who would favour royal despotism; but a wisdom 
true and noble, just moral sentiments, respect for the 
worth and value of humanity keep the balance. Freedom 
of thought, speech and writing, a general taste for the 
greatness and simplicity of truth and beauty of nature give 
England the advantage of distinction and happiness. 

So we entered the interior of St. James’ Palace, which in 


264 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

many ways bears the marks of its original design, as its 
architectural purpose was to erect an institute for sixteen 
spinsters and eight priests suffering from palsy, who were 
got rid of when the palace of Whitehall was burned down. 
Henry viii enlarged the premises, keeping the name 
St. James, its patron, and made a royal residence of it. 
Certainly a remarkable change in inhabitants and visitors 
to the house — first, the most despised of proprietors, and then 
the most eminent in the land— formerly an asile for sickness, 
from which everyone fled, now often the meeting-ground for 
the grandest beauties in full splendour — as a hospital the 
hope of few people, as St. James’ cabinet the focus for the 
whole world and the hope of many thousands. 

On St. James’ Square we hired a hackney, wishing to take 
the nearest way home, but had to retrace our steps owing to 
a big fire in one of the streets, which lasted till eleven 
o’clock at night and burned nine houses down. From 
Mr. Hurter’s we could see the smother of the upward flying 
sparks. One of our friends went off to have a look at the 
blaze, but was surrounded and buffeted by a number of 
people; when he got free he made the discovery that his 
purse, containing three guineas, had stayed behind with the 
mob; he was surprised at having kept his money in his 
pocket, as he had taken precautions to leave his gold watch 
at home; so it was a dear lesson that he learned. 


Tuesday, Oct. j 

To-day I saw some more encaustic painting, read some 
Middleton, and about the conditions of the arts and sciences 
in the England of 1 750 as described by the Abbot Roquet, 
so as to compare his remarks with those of Mr. Wendeborn. 

A good German artist paid me a visit, giving me some 
letters for his relations and asking me to put in a good word 
for him about his marriage. A sweet and lovely orphan, 
sixteen years old, took his fancy and he hers; he did not 


DIARY 


265 

want to add to her misfortune by seducing her, and married 
her, hoping to earn enough to support her; so they rented a 
room and a bed; the young woman cooked and managed 
matters, but when she was expecting, there was no way out 
but to go to one of the excellent institutions to be found in 
almost every quarter of London, which homes bear the 
inscription ‘Maternity Home for the Wives of the Poor,’ since 
for those unfortunates who are unmarried there are yet 
other establishments. The former are meant for poor artisans 
or working-men’s wives who have not money or room enough 
to look after mother and child; these go with a certificate 
from their parish parson to the managers of the institute, 
announce the date of confinement, receive a ticket and are 
taken in a fortnight previous, being nourished meanwhile 
with strengthening foods so as to live through their child- 
bed, and for six whole weeks they are given a good bed with 
nice white linen and all possible attention, when they are 
finally presented with a cot and swaddling-clothes for the 
child. So they return fit and well to husband and children, 
ready to superintend the housework again, and the men 
meanwhile have been able to put all that their wives might 
have cost them into the savings-box. I had already marvelled 
at and given my benediction to these institutions, but repeated 
my views with twice the fervour now, as tears of gratitude 
and blessing rolled down the man’s cheeks, and the praises 
of numerous other honest, hard-working citizens of London 
left his lips. These charities seem to me to belong to some of 
the best national features. I am wife and mother and know 
the pain inflicted by nature on those in travail, know the 
heart’s anxiety for a beloved, newborn babe, and can imagine 
what a poor, helpless woman must suffer in such circum- 
stances, both on her own and on her child’s behalf. Every one 
of these thoughts increased my blessings on the sacred ashes 
of that loving heart which, wrung with similar conceptions, 
endowed the first of these foundations for poor, honest family 
mothers, dividing them respectfully from the fallen women, 


266 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

thus adding to his good action and helping to bring up 
healthy workers for the home country; for how often are the 
poor, honest man’s children ruined by poverty, and the 
mother, too, or else they remain with her in stricken and 
sickly state. 

I enjoyed the comedy at Drury Lane: firstly, because, 
charming Countess Julia at my side, I was to see the famous 
Mrs. Siddons play; and secondly, to see besides a number of 
Englishmen and their families, for whom I had come to have 
a high regard. Before the curtain rose I glanced around on 
them with sincere respect and tenderness, and my gaze 
remained fixed on some of the ladies’ boxes with the thought 
that not far from me one of the noble souls, may be, was 
sitting, who had contributed to the erection of a home for 
girls over sixteen, where they are educated by honest widows, 
rescued from poverty and seduction and formed into good, 
useful citizens. 

The Archduke of Milan and his wife entered their box 
opposite to Lord North, my lady and their two daughters — a 
curious family, none of them having the least trace of beauty, 
otherwise so common in England. And now the play began: 
Venice Preserved. Mrs. Siddons kept my attention com- 
pletely riveted on her: to my mind there is no greater actress 
in existence, nor any whose figure could be better suited to 
lofty tragedy; greater reality or unstudied grace are not to be 
imagined, much less seen. This piece is well suited for 
introducing every kind of talent; Belvidera takes the stage 
in the part of wife and daughter, and acts with a truth which 
charms and ravishes; men and women wept with pity for 
the excellent woman whose keen perception, sensitiveness 
and knowledge of the human heart teach her to adapt 
expression, gesture and exact change of tone to every 
moment, so that one forgets the play, thinking and acting 
with her; one wants to weep, indeed to cry aloud; and despite 
this work and study, this woman is a good mother and 
housekeeper, as will be seen by the following incident. A 


DIARY 


267 

large party, which was recently fascinated by her acting, 
decided at supper to send her a gift next day, accompanied 
by verses in her praise. One of the gentlemen paid her a 
visit himself on this day, and found Mrs. Siddons at her sick 
child’s cot, rocking it with her foot and holding another at 
her breast, her new role in hand, which she was learning. 
The company was so affected by this tale that it wants to 
publish an engraved portrait of this estimable lady in this 
position, without any alterations. 


Wednesday^ Oct. 4 

I spent this morning with Countess Reventlow in her 
London house, where I saw her portrait (painted by 
Angelika in Rome), and almost felt that the brush in a 
woman’s hand refused to do full justice to another woman’s 
beauty; for Julia’s features and expression are not there; 
the pose, however, is very delightful, as if the countess were 
in her garden hurrying past a rose-shrub to meet a friend. 
In the other rooms there are some fine souvenirs of her 
Italian trip, evidence of her good taste. The count and 
countess had copies and pictures made by artists of the great 
masters’ finest paintings, and of the loveliest spots they came 
across. It was exceedingly pleasant accompanying them 
through these apartments, hearing the origin of first one, then 
another picture, and their delicious reminiscences on coming 
upon a fine landscape rising above the sea; this is where we 
breakfasted, or saw the sun set; and noble too was the modesty 
of the countess, who refused to admit she was as pretty as her 
portrait, and quite seriously accused dear Angelika of 
flattery, at the same time relating this great artist’s most 
sterling qualities, amongst which her amicable reception of 
strangers strikes one most, for she shows them her pictures 
and drawings as indifferently as if they belonged to some 
unknown person, thus hardly letting the admirer so much as 
surmise that he is lucky enough to be listening to Angelika 
herself. 


268 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

During the afternoon I also called on the Heinzelmanns, 
and was much affected at the sight of Count Schulenberg’s 
beautiful young widow still weeping over his portrait and 
letters, and heard her mourn the death of the child she had 
loved, and tell of his budding talents with true maternal 
affection. And as they took this opportunity of showing me 
their son’s excellent handwriting, I learned at the same time 
one of the nice methods employed by the educational 
academies: a large sheet of paper is engraved with an 
important event chosen from the current year, and beneath 
the picture the children have to write out the story relating 
to it as a handwriting test, and they give it to their parents 
in the Christmas holidays. The dear lady quite rightly 
complained of the coolness with which the count’s family had 
treated him, her child and herself. 


Thursday, Oct. 5 

To Beaumont Lodge this morning and to Governor 
Hastings’. A charming, delightful journey past the loveliest 
villages and villas along the winding banks of the Thames. 
I shall for ever retain the memory of the impression of repose 
created by the peace and simple beauty of most of these 
country houses and their open, spacious gardens. The road 
winds quite imperceptibly uphill, and the magnificent river, 
with swans to give it life, its tortuous bed, bordered by a 
myriad plantations, shimmers along through the fertile 
valley. I saw peasants at work and families with bright, 
merry children strolling on the front lawn, just like the 
intimate and charming illustrations of English prints. On 
approaching Beaumont Lodge there is quite a broad incline, 
and the path, twice intersected, meanders along between fine 
lawns which slope down from the house like spread carpets 
over the hill, and leads to Beaumont Lodge, an old English 
residence surrounded by tall trees, likewise a pretty house 
quite large enough to accommodate hosts and guests, and a 
very welcome sight. 


DIARY 


269 

The reception-room is very large, luxuriously furnished, 
with a fine Indian carpet and a piano for decoration. From 
the oriel window, formed by a kind of tower, there is a fine 
view of Windsor and the entire park, with an occasional 
glimpse of the Thames and Loddon in between. The 
reflection of the pink-and-white shimmering curtains with 
sea-green edging and fringes, and the rich verdure of the 
trees outside, give the room an extremely pleasant light. A 
delicate scent of roses, emanating from a rose essence manu- 
factured in India, perfumed the whole house, even outside 
on one of the garden paths. 

We spent an exceedingly pleasant day here in the company 
of these people, whose fate has been so remarkable: his was 
the simplicity of the true philosopher, full of the wisdom of 
experience; hers the friendly modesty which always casts a 
grateful glance back at the past. She answered all my 
questions about her education and fortunes straightforwardly, 
without the least concealment, and he replied to those about 
my company with wit. This time it was even more evident 
than the first that this man combines those two excellent 
qualities — intelligence and gift of language; brevity and 
subtlety of expression, never one syllable too much or too 
little — thus he always finds the loftiest form and tone for his 
ideas. 

I do hope my ardent desire that Hastings should write his 
Indian reminiscences and remarks about Europe will be 
fulfilled. The genius of government-craft and philosophy 
would read them with pleasure and profit; and if his wife’s 
biography were recorded by a friend to humanity and truth, 
the malice and falsity which have so far pervaded the 
narrative would be astounding. 

I shall never forget the walk in the park at Beaumont 
Lodge, where, on the arm of this rare and lovely woman, a 
magnificent prospect before me, I advanced towards one of 
the earth’s most fertile regions, and in the course of our 
conversation perceived the finest impulses of a generous soul, 


270 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

which is so thankful to heaven and sympathetic towards 
mankind, that it would be unfair of me to conceal it or leave 
my sincere regard unexpressed. 

In this park I saw a fine grey Tibetan cow, with both her 
young, and several other Eastern animals. 

In our gradual ascent we had climbed to the top unexpect- 
edly, where from under the shade of high beeches and oaks 
an infinite panorama spreads out before one to the turrets of 
Westminster and Windsor, and the course of the Thames, as 
it travels past hundreds of villages and country estates. How 
superb, how beautiful nature is here ! How diligent is the poor 
man, how tasteful the prosperous dweller on this indescrib- 
ably lovely plot of earth. To Mr. Hastings this large area 
is the merest phantom of the province he governed in 
East India; he added, too, that he regarded it all as his 
property, and was glad his country residence occupied a site 
from which he could overlook everything. 

I thought it a delightful trick of fortune to have placed me 
beside the Governor of East India, to inspect animals from 
that clime, wrapped in an East Indian material more costly 
than silk, much lighter and also much warmer than the latter. 

Mrs. Hastings tied a shawl round me before going out in 
the garden, as she thought my cloak was too thin. I accepted 
it, as one never hesitates to borrow a eloak from a friend, but 
when I wished to remove it, with a most charming expression 
on her face, she said that I was to take it back to Germany 
in memory of the wife of the Governor of East India. 

She spoke with understanding of her sojourn in India, of 
the customs of the inhabitants and those in England. She 
entrusted me with some presents for her mother; a gold watch, 
amongst other things, for which at the moment she did not 
have a case, so took one belonging to an oriental watch set 
with pearls, which gave me an opportunity of seeing her 
pearls. One can only have an idea of them by seeing them 
for oneself, but finer than this wealth of gems was her 
character itself 


DIARY 


271 


When I inquired about a portrait encircled by large pearls, 
she said: ‘It is Miss von Schwellenberg.’ 1 do not know 
whether I made any comment, but 1 inspected the portrait 
closely, and she continued: ‘I shall never forget that Miss 
Schwellenberg was my benefactress, giving me dresses and 
linen when I left for East India.’ 

This open confession of her former poverty and grateful 
remembrance of the charity she had received, was just as 
valuable a moral phenomenon as the size and quantity of 
her pearls were a remarkable spectacle of the physical 
universe. 

Mr. Hastings was asked whether he had had any children 
by her. ‘Oh,’ he interrupted, ‘my happiness would indeed 
be great were I to have children by this woman.’ As the talk 
proceeded, he wanted me to see a picture of part of the 
Ganges he had had painted, so as to commemorate the love 
she had borne him for others as well. 

As the heat of the summer often made Mrs. Hastings ill, 
she lived on the water during the hot months; had a number 
of ships round her, and if she tired of the neighbourhood, 
moved farther up or down stream and lay-to again. Once, 
when she was four hundred miles from Calcutta, the river 
rose from the melting of the snows in the Tibetan mountains 
to such a height that she was forced to land. But scarcely a 
few days after she told one of the officers from her guard that 
she felt very restless, and had an idea Mr. Hastings was ill, 
and she would like to go to him. ‘Impossible,’ was the 
retort, ‘we have no elephants with us to carry you, and the 
river is so high that by water it would mean imminent death.’ 
‘Never mind,’ she replied, ‘order two small boats for yourself 
and me, and do not tell a soul; to-morrow, before daybreak, 
I want to leave.’ She did this, and, to the amazement of the 
whole city, landed safely; enters the governor’s palace, 
inquires and hears that he is dangerously ill. ‘Didn’t I say 
so?’ she said to the officer. Hastings, who was dozing 
lightly, noticed some stir amongst the people round his bed, 


272 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

and finally asked what was the matter. He was told that his 
wife had arrived. He is astounded; she falls on his neck, 
and his joy effects a crisis which saves his life. Then the 
officer told what she had done, and how the hermit on the 
rock of the Ganges had prayed, fearing for their two frail 
craft, and blessed them, as usually this storm demolished 
everything. In token of his grateful affection, Hastings had 
these rocks, the boats and sorrowing hermit painted. 

Another picture showed a fine edifice, their abode in the 
East Indies, with the elephant they used to ride for short 
excursions, a small bodyguard around them. Myself a 
Swabian, I was intensely amused at hearing another 
Swabian’s accounts of her journeys by elephant. 

We were to spend the evening and some few days with 
them; she wanted to show me another part of England, but 
chance decreed it otherwise, and so I left Beaumont Lodge 
with quantities of good wishes for its inhabitants. 

I have never seen finer silver ware. French and English 
dishes were served; under each dish was a thermo-lamp lit 
with spirit, which gave the beautiful crystal glass a pleasant 
spark. The wines were very rare, and the dessert service, I 
imagine, of genuine Indian porcelain, and magnificent; we 
also partook of East Indian rice, the grains of which are about 
half as large as a bean, and steamed tender in Indian fashion. 

Two Indian boys, thirteen to fourteen years old, waited on 
Mr. and Mrs. Hastings. They have longish faces, beautiful 
black eyes, fine eyebrows, sleek black hair, thin lips, fine teeth, 
a brownish complexion and kindly, intelligent faces. East 
Indian is a very soft language; Mrs. Hastings talked to 
them at my request, as they understand no English. 

I spent the evening at Windsor with my dear Mme. La 
Fite, where I met some English ladies, and Mr. de Luc’s 
charming daughter, and was introduced to Mr. Kuttner, an 
estimable German scholar, who has already lived over here 
a long time as tutor to the son of an eminent English family, 
and who is responsible for some of the best information on 


DIARY 


273 

Irisli climate, character and custom; for his letters, published 
in 1785, belong to the finest and most complete sketches of 
this truly strange land, which is less known even than India. 

I felt grateful to him for having noted Lady Salton’s noble 
patriotism, for she spent a considerable time touring Holland 
so as to familiarise herself with all the improved processes 
of linen bleaching, and handed the results to Ireland where 
weaving is already such an art. 

I also heard the tone adopted by an English lady when 
finding fault with others, especially when the criticism 
concerns women of unusual merit, as on this occasion when 
Mme. Thrale — a friend of the famous Samuel Johnson, to 
whose biography she added some penetrating notes — and 
Mrs. Macaulay were reproached for their indiscretions. 
The first, for marrying her daughter’s music-master, and 
going to Italy with him; the second, who enjoyed great 
respect as a famous historian, for marrying a young arch- 
humbug at the age of fifty. Convincing evidence that wit 
and learning are two qualities quite divorced from wisdom; 
for it is said that few women possess such a good mind as 
Mrs. Thrale (now Piozzi), and even fewer the great scholar- 
ship of a Mrs. Macaulay. Wise reflection might then have 
made such rebuke unnecessary. 

Literature was largely the topic of conversation; and as 
this goes hand-in-hand with the fine arts I was curious to 
make the acquaintance of rich Mr. Locke’s son, who is 
considered the greatest genius of historical drawing; his 
father is setting him at liberty to pursue this natural talent, 
and the very finest work in this line is awaited from his hand. 


Friday, Oct. 6 

I visited Miss Burney to-day, and was introduced to a 
charming Miss Planta, of a good Graubunden family. She 
spoke of the minister Pitt’s fraternal affection with great 
spirit and feeling, and, with emotion, related how he mourned 


274 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

the loss of his sister before the king and queen, and both their 
noble majesties had shed a tear in memory of her virtue and 
for the honest man’s grief. How fine is such sympathy! 
How fine of the great Pitt to say: ‘I have lost more than just 
a sister: Lady Eliot was my friend, binding me to my good 
principles; cheering me when I was cast down and weary. 
From her earliest years her noble soul encouraged all my 
generous impulses.’ What testimony from such a brother! 
She had truly earned her place as the great Lord Chatham’s 
daughter, whom she too early followed to her resting-place 
at Westminster by his side. 

Then we went to Leonard’s Hill, seat of Lord Harcourt, 
whose wife is friendly with the queen. Would that all those 
whom I love and revere had made this trip with me, so as to 
share the pleasure and the memory. 

On the summit of a gently rising slope, right in the very 
middle of the forest of Windsor, which can be viewed from 
here on every side, lies a well-built and tastefully furnished 
house. The way winds in between oaks and beeches, from 
which now and then the loveliest views can be had; finally, 
one comes to a drive, on one side of which stands the gardener’s 
lodge, on the other, the gatekeeper’s, as finely built as those 
in the royal gardens in Paris. The watchman pulls a bell, so 
that those in the house, which lies some distance away, 
know at once whether the visitors are riding or driving. The 
path then leads between laurel bushes and flowers towards 
the arcade into the house. A sad mischance, however, had 
called the countess away suddenly, for a courier had come 
from Spa, bringing news of Miss Danby’s death, her only 
much-loved sister, whereupon Mrs. Harcourt straightway 
hurried ofif to comfort her mother. As I could not see the 
noble lady, I asked whether I might look over her house and 
garden. The stewardess, who knew my friend very well, 
willingly assented, and I saw over a house fine enough to 
delight a prince in our country. 

The countess’s workroom not only does her credit because 


DIARY 


275 

of the fine tapestries she sews, but because of the number of 
large and excellent drawings she has executed, for she has 
drawn all the districts visible from Leonard’s Hill, and in 
addition, those from which this noble country house can be 
seen. They are all half a royal folio in size, so masterly in 
execution, that I was unjust enough to marvel how a lady 
could attain such a high degree of finish and so selective a 
vision. 

The reception-room is glorious, and contains, as do all good 
houses over here, chests in the finest workmanship, holding 
the necessaries for all kinds of games, and lined on top with 
books of all varieties and languages; a piano, music, violin, 
and anything required for concert purposes on another side; 
numerous sofas and all kinds of arm- and easy-chairs; ladies’ 
work-tables besides, so as all the guests may do exactly as they 
please. There are large French windows to the ground, 
whereby glorious views of the finest parts of Windsor may be 
had from any portion of this beautifully appointed room. 

The breakfast-room, where they drink tea, is very ap- 
propriate, and is also ornamented with Chinese windows, 
porcelain furnishings and panelling, and is situated on the same 
side as the garden, into which a colonnade, built along the 
house and decorated with statuary and flower vases, leads one. 

Two balconies run round one side of the guest-rooms, 
offering one a breath of fresh air and at the same time an 
astonishingly distant and indescribably fine view, since the 
house is situated so high up. 

Everything was in order; flowers all over the place; 
pleasant odours were wafted towards one from all the 
numerous rooms. In one I found an extremely fine portrait 
of the Countess Coventry, formerly one of England’s greatest 
beauties, who was married very young and taken to court 
from the country at a time when great festivities were in 
progress; here the old king asked her whether she had already 
seen many things— and received the naive reply: ‘Yes, 
your Majesty, everything; except a coronation!’ 


276 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

The bedroom displayed yet another aspect of the countess’s 
industry and good taste. It is hung with a delicate monotone 
pale-blue chintz, with a border of the sweetest flower- 
garlands embroidered in blue of the same shade on a white 
ground, similarly the curtains, quilts on both the beds, and 
chair-covers. 

The charm and simplicity of this room are inexpressible. 
All the delicious rooms and balconies on this floor run along 
one passage, round an oval billiard-room which is lit from 
above. 

The dining-room is very large, and caused me to wonder 
whether the feast of the merry fox-hunt were not sometimes 
celebrated here, described by Thomson in lines beginning 
thus: 

‘But first the fuelled chimney blazes wide. 

The tankards foam; . . .’^ 

The original of this society picture must be very hideous, 
for even poetry cannot embellish it; and it must never defile 
this hall. 

We returned past flower-beds, one of which was being laid, 
over large plots 'of tall bracken in a myriad variegated hues 
and infinitely lovely prospects, skirting Sophia Farm, home, 
where at Mme. La Fite’s I once more enjoyed the society of 
Miss Burney and the estimable de Luc family and learned of 
Mrs. Siddons’ excellent remark. On being congratulated 
once by the king and queen for her gift of portraying every 
character with such truth, she answered with modest 
pleasure: T am supposed to interpret the thoughts of others 
so well, yet cannot even tell my own.’ 


Oct. 7 

They want me to meet Mrs. Montague yet; not because she 
is proprietress of the finest house in the whole of London 
and has nine thousand guineas a year besides, but since she 
1 Sophie’s paraphrase of lines 502-561 from Thompson’s Autumn omitted. 


DIARY 


277 

is the most learned of my sex, and has a generous spirit, too. 
I was, in fact, to meet this greatest and best of women, but 
was prevented by some misunderstanding. May blessings 
rain upon that hour which the highest good ordained. 
Resigned I will subject myself to the power of a hostile fate, 
and never cease thanking heaven for allowing me to behold 
this land, so long cherished, with my own eyes; and to enjoy 
the spectacle of nature’s beauty here, and the friendship of 
noble beings who by their kindness gave me further pleasure. 
Indeed, how much the acquaintance of a Captain Phillip 
might have meant to me!— who as Cook’s lieutenant 
accompanied him on his travels, landed with him on the isle 
of Owhyee when the great man was so treacherously 
murdered, and Phillip, the duties of a good officer in mind, 
had at this tragic moment to double his efforts on behalf of 
the living, so collected his people together and was himself 
wounded by a dagger which an islander thrust into his neck 
from behind. Phillip swam to his boat, the dagger firmly 
lodged in the wound, numbered his party, noticed a man 
unable to swim, whom the boat could not reach because of 
shallow water, being pursued by the barbarians— Phillip 
plunges, dagger, wound and all into the sea, bringing the 
man safely to the vessel which bears them to the big boat, 
where he finally has his wound bound up. 

Dear, noble Burney! How well you told this tale! How 
pleasant your voice sounded, and the delicate flush upon 
your countenance as our gaze was fixed upon you. Beauteous 
soul! You should have been born in Newton’s house, 
consecrated to Queen Charlotte, Burney’s daughter, and the 
sister of this Phillip. 

A delicious reply escaped her lips when, during the general 
mourning over Cook’s death, someone expressed the view 
that he had fulfilled his mission, and it was time for him to 
die. I would not have stirred a finger to save him. ‘That,’ 
said Burney, ‘is a very sublime way of considering Cook’s 
death.’ 


278 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

We then hurried past Colnebrook and Hounslow, with their 
vivid memories of Grandison, to Richmond and the Countess 
Reventlow, and another enjoyable day. 


Oct. 8 

I have at last torn myself away from Windsor, from dear, 
honourable La Fite; alas! from so much that has become 
sacred to me, and to-day have cast a last look at the hills of 
Richmond. Yesterday they were bathed in sunshine, but 
they look stormy to-day; I can hear the rustling of the trees, 
half bare of leaves, and see dusky clouds scudding across the 
lovely landscape like excited indignation over the beauteous 
features of an otherwise peaceful, noble soul, causing ex- 
pressions of anger to escape it. Thou wilt soon become merry 
again, fortunate horizon! Pour into the souls of my dear 
friends that blissful emotion which overpowers me here, and 
make all those living with thee as happy as I have been. 
Lovely plot from out my God’s own earth, I shall never see 
thee more, flourish on. May heaven implant virtues on thee 
as manifold as are thy charms. You regions of Windsor and 
Kew, may the angel of God watch over the days of the royal 
father, the queen mother, and their worthy children ! 

My heart is sore. I must leave, tear myself from the 
pleadings and invitations of the noblest of friends. 

Blessings upon you, estimable Count and Countess Revent- 
low, wherever heaven may lead you, blessings as bountiful as 
your friendship was generous, and your spirit noble. 

Oh God! What do other days mean compared to these 
spent amongst such beings, and with Schonborn in 
Richmond. 

Yet one more glorious hour in London culled from the 
hand of true, loving friendship— the count had us driven 
through the park to Chelsea, so that I should experience this 
one further pleasure. Indeed, these two often wrestled 
together in my life; my good daemon wishing me well, and a 
hostile destiny bringing nothing but ill. So 1 saw yet another 


DIARY 


279 

lovely region; and the military hospital, where the land 
forces are tended like the seamen at Greenwich. 

I wanted to pay my respects to dear Mrs. Webb’s friends, 
but found them out; so we had a look at Ranelagh, which is 
now quite forsaken, and discovered from the inscription on 
the portrait of the architect hanging in the hall that the 
house is named after him. It is a round hall, large and lofty, 
built like a temple, which consists entirely of a series of open 
boxes all around where parties of music-lovers sit, eat and 
drink, which process may also take place in the gallery above 
them. In the middle of the room there is an immense stove, 
nicely decorated, and on both sides stalls for the musicians. 
The ground, stairs and passages are covered with rugs, for 
it would be impossible otherwise, against the tramp of several 
thousand pairs of feet, to hear the concert or the singing; for 
loud speaking or any other sound is never heard in England 
on such occasions, even in the biggest crowd. Manners have 
not changed since the time of Mme. du Bocage in 1750, 
who painted the scene far more charmingly than my pen can 
depict it. 

I will copy the verses which she sent her sister about 
Ranelagh for you, dear daughters, since you may not have 
her letters handy, for your amusement and my justification, 
for since a French lady gives such expression to her feelings 
my encomium will not be wholly attributed to bias. She had 
seen Vauxhall before coming to Chelsea and Ranelagh.^ . . . 

I feel there is nothing more to add, but that her picture is 
still true. I was glad Carl saw the room at Chelsea to-day, 
for the noble pursuit of science has often led his footsteps 
hither to see the fire-machine, and discover whether there 
were no improvements which he might take back to Bur- 
gorner and introduce on the machine there. 

1 Here follows an abbreviated account of Vauxhall ‘ i /- entrance, evening 
illumination and concert,’ Ranelagh ‘ less noisy and ornate ’ and ‘ prefer- 
able ’ to the former, then a faithful reproduction of the poem entitled 
‘ Ranelagh ’ to be found in Recueil des OEuvres de Mme. du Bocage, Lyons, 
1762, Vol. Ill, letter iii, April 15, 1750. 


28 o SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

At midday I found my esteemed friends the Hurters very 
well, and very pleased at my return. Some visitors called 
during the evening, and there was a great deal of praise of 
the commercial pact with France, as it should prove very 
profitable to manufacture, and Pitt is even more popular on 
its account than he used to be. Good, noble Grand was also 
there; there was some talk about the real courtesy of the 
English, consisting not in words and ceremony but in 
deeds. 

Afterwards I was taken for a drive, and so saw the gardens 
at Vauxhall myself. They are fine and large, as is necessary 
for the inhabitants of London, numerous and wealthy as they 
are. Half this excellent area is occupied by boxes, where 
people can have morning breakfast or eat and drink during 
the evening; at the back of these boxes there is either a fresco 
painting or a mirror. The rest of the garden is divided into 
attractive walks with tall trees and green walls on either side; 
in the evening there are three thousand lamps alight; a kind 
of Gothic tower stands in the centre, with a gallery for music 
on the middle floor, and an organ, of which, especially since 
Handel, the English are extremely fond; his statue adorns the 
best position. On the new grounds stands a large round 
temple to Apollo, and a monument to Milton. In the 
large, covered hall the pillars are rose-coloured, inlaid with 
silver, as if they were made of that fine stone quarried in 
Alsatia, which would make them very valuable indeed, as, 
being so hard, it is much more expensive to work on; this is 
the reason why this very excellent stone has till now lain 
unused. These magnificent columns lead to a section of the 
room containing four large paintings from modern English 
history and the full-length portraits of the king and 
queen. 

This portion of the room offered me further insight into the 
national character, weaving as it does the spirit of patriotism 
most nobly into its amusement, for these four pictures portray 
none but the deeds of Britons who have contributed to the 


DIARY 


281 

kingdom’s greater prestige. The first shows the surrender of 
Montreal to General Amherst, who afterwards named his 
country house Montreal. The second, Admiral Hawke’s 
victory over the French fleet. On the third. Great Britain is 
handing out laurels to Granby, Albemarle and Townshend; 
and on the fourth. Lord Clive is seen taking homage from an 
Indian Nabob. On another side there is a theatre where only 
certain pieces are presented, as landscapes, for example, with 
cascades, which can be heard rushing down, or artistic views 
which give an optical illusion with the sea in motion. 
Sixty thousand guineas’ profit are reckoned during the 
summer, contributed by the Londoners and surrounding 
population. 

The tea-gardens are also charming, there being crowds of 
them in England, particularly around London, where good 
middle-class people foregather and drink tea in the open. 
Foreigners will always admire the excellent service, clean- 
liness and orderliness of these establishments, and find the 
good behaviour amongst the great mass of people interesting. 
On the drive home I often raised myself in the carriage, so as 
thoroughly to enjoy the sights to be seen in this neighbour- 
hood. I saw Lambeth, too, the seat of the archbishop, 
beautifully situated on the Thames, and the view from 
Westminster Bridge showed me St. Paul’s for the last time 
rearing up above the clouds, and Somerset House, the fire- 
machine and the three round towers of St. George, all the 
same height. Once more I passed by the magnificent parade 
of the Horse Guards, and on my arrival home found letters 
from Hastings and my dear noble Countess Reventlow 
awaiting me. 

A visit from Kirwan lent zest to the evening, who talked 
to me about his life and ideas on social matters with most 
charming frankness, giving me messages to Salomon Gessner, 
for whom he has an exceeding admiration, and telling me that 
the entire English nation was likewise agreed upon the works 
of this noble, gentle spirit, or else Gessner’s writings would not 


282 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

have reached their eighteenth edition. He also commended 
and gave his blessing to your brother Carl.^ . . . 

. . . The evening closed with tests of an electric machine 
designed for the Republic of Berne, with two cylinders, whose 
sparks shoot out some twenty inches, and which is very 
excellently made. 

Some more nice things were said about Carl, and so I 
concluded a very happy day. 


Oct. g 

To-day Mazanti, former conductor of the orchestra in 
Wtirtemberg, visited me. His conversation pleased me, for he 
not only praised the Englishman’s generosity towards the 
teachers of his children and to artists, but also the con- 
scientious treatment he received from several families who 
had gone away for an indefinite time, yet paid him all bills 
owing for that period as if he had demanded it of them. A 
man of good principles, energy and modest bearing, he 
assured me, might always count on happiness in his old age, 
for the remuneration for the first lesson was three, for all 
subsequent ones, one guinea. 

He sang Mme. Mara’s praises unstintingly, and said that 
she had earned her good fortune of making three thousand 
guineas a year, by diligent application to her art; though she 
had almost failed because of the Pantheon, the structure of 
which gave the voice no chance at all, and since she sang 
there on her first appearance, when her loveliest notes were 
lost, many would have condemned her, though she received 
six hundred guineas for twelve arias. 

I then went to buy a trunk, making yet another satisfactory 
excursion into the spirit of English craftsmanship. The shop 

1 A lengthy digression giving the full contents of their conversation on (i) 
science, Kirwan’s early life and w^ork ; (li) physiognomy, a dubious eighteenth- 
century scientific craze headed by Lavater ; (iii) the Burney Family and well- 
known ancedotes of Fanny’s childhood and burning of her writing given in 
A. Dobson’s preface to Evelina and elsewhere ; (iv) tales of the ‘ Eccentric Lord 
Monboddo’; (v) ‘Wicked Lord Lyttleton’s ’ famous dream in 1779, in all of 
which there is nothing new, as a glance at the D.N.B. will reassure. 


DIARY 


283 

to which 1 was taken was full of trunks in all shajjcs and 
sizes; they were all shown me very pleasantly, and I was told 
quite candidly — ‘On this side arc the best and most expensive, 
and I guarantee them even if they were booked as far as 
India and filled with stones; but on this side you will see some 
which must not be packed with heavy things if you wish to 
go a distance. Choose whichever you prefer.’ I took one 
at 14s., for, as it has to be embaled, I thought it quite strong 
enough: I packed it, and spent another pleasant evening with 
the Hurters. If only I could repeat Mr. Kirwan’s clever 
remarks on feminine intellect, or tell you the comments made 
this evening about the slender threads from which joy and 
friendship depend, or to which philosophy, wisdom and 
generosity, goodness and Godliness are attached — so quickly 
rent if vanity or pride are hurt or some sensual passion is 
aroused.^ . . . 

... I also learned of a further trait regarding the philan- 
thropy of a Mr. Day, who is very wealthy, lives very simply 
with his family, and uses a great deal of his income for the 
redemption of honest debtors; as, for example, recently, when 
he improved the circumstances of a poor grocer imprisoned 
for three hundred pounds sterling; Mr. Day paid the amount. 
The man was called upon to meet the assembled creditors. 
‘My God,’ he said, ‘what do they want with me? They know 
I cannot pay them.’ ‘They are already paid,’ came the 
retort. He thought it was a dream, though he attended in 
the room where they were waiting for him to hand over the 
signed receipts. With heartfelt joy he asked after his bene- 
factor, who had long since departed; Mr. Day was named. 
‘I have never heard that name and do not know the man! 
Where does he live?’ They informed him; he went there, and 
offered his thanks gladly and with all his heart. Day inter- 
rupted him, saying he was glad to have been of assistance, and 
now what was the man going to do? ‘I shall collect the 

^ Omitted are some rambling and insignificant reflections on ‘ philosophy ’ 
as from a newspaper dated 2nd October. 


284 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

remains of my meagre estate, and begin to trade again.’ 
‘Would these remains suffice for him to start up again?’ 
‘I should certainly require quite two hundred pounds, but I 
have fresh credit now.’ Day was silent, turned away, pulled 
some bank-notes out of his desk, handing them to the honest 
man, who was standing there dumbfounded. ‘Oh, sir, you 
are good indeed! I do not know whether I shall be able to 
repay you!’ ‘I do not ask for payment.’ ‘But please accept a 
note of hand from me.’ No! his heart was guarantor enough. 
God bless the money for a fresh and successful venture. 
Should he make any profits then it was for him to help 
others. 

Dear children, this is the last anecdote I was told in 
London; Kirwan, himself an estimable character, related it, 
and my departure was all the more painful. He wanted, had 
we had more time to spare, to tell me some equally fine 
actions rendered by acquaintances of his. I was to be 
introduced to Dr. Monro, whose very lucky wife is German; 
should have accompanied charming Countess Reventlow to 
Count Woronzoff, and seen him in the part of tender, 
enlightened father amongst his children; ought to have spent 
a day in Chelsea with good Mrs. Webb’s friends; a few days 
at Hastings’ place— but these days had to be cut. And so 
I took leave of the capital of this land I love so well, of the 
family of my friends, the Hurters, whose native land I had 
valued so highly all my life. And the Swiss deemon rewarded 
me for this, here in this promised land, for it gave me friend- 
ship and many lovely days by means of two of its distinguished 
sons, Hurter and de Luc. I took my leave of the Hurters 
very reluctantly, for they had all been very kind to me, and 
in their turn deserved my eternal affection, esteem and 
gratitude. M^ay the honest parents live long enough to bring 
up the excellent children they love so well successfully, and 
give them happiness. 


DIARY 


285 


DOVER, evening 

I travelled with Mr. Hurter, who had fixed business in 
Paris in such a way as to keep us company as far as Calais and 
St. Omer. 

You can well imagine, my daughters, that I kept my eyes 
open everywhere — and swallowed anything that came my 
way! We left Deptford and Greenwich to our left, and in 
heavy rain came through some delightful hamlets to the 
summit of Smith’s Hill, notorious for the many thefts 
committed there. 

On top, at the end of a large estate, stands a high Gothic 
tower which must command a fine view over London; and 
once again I realised the whole scope of the good fortune 
attending those who on a voyage are at liberty to do with 
time and circumstance what they will. For example, I should 
have stopped at Blackheath, because of its famous battle and 
glorious country-seats; at Gravesend also, that delightful, 
populous township, with its excellent walks by Thames-side 
and its hosts of ships — and there recalled the boldness of 
Admiral Ruyter, who ran up the Thames as far as this in 
1667, burning all the English lying at anchor, and had brooms 
fixed to his own masts with the assertion that he intended to 
sweep the sea of English boats; nor should I have chased 
through Rochester, Canterbury, Chatham, but in the first of 
these should have gone over the extensive ruins of the old 
castle, in Canterbury looked at the cathedral, in Chatham 
the harbour and docks. Though I was lucky in my com- 
panion, Mr. Hurter, whose descriptions and pictorial mind 
were an excellent substitute. 

The Thames looms ahead magnificently, sometimes a 
large, sometimes a smaller stretch, often like a lake, at peace 
amongst fertile slopes, seen shimmering between copses or 
across soft, verdant hills; or it bursts into view from a hill-top 
in its entire expanse, laden with ships sailing up and down. 
At every fresh incline the myriad pleasant objects grew in 


286 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

number— hills, coppices, meadows, with cows and sheep 
grazing, scattered over whole fields; the highroad with 
coaches hurrying to London, just as we were fleeing thence. 
At one corner we encountered some itinerant farmer’s 
caravan, with their household goods piled on one wagon, 
and the children and poultry in another, while in a second 
cage, next to the latter, were a ginger and a black cat — an 
extremely picturesque procession. Soon after we came upon 
a sight which would provide material for a novel with a 
copperplate of it for ornament; at the corner of a gentle slope 
where two highroads converged, a very pretty maid stood 
near some fruit, which was for sale, and very decoratively 
arranged; from the head of the fields forming this corner 
shrubs ran down, between which a round, neatly thatched 
roof was fixed over her seat and fruit display. The girl, 
wearing a red coat, white apron and attractive hat, the fruit- 
garden on the other side, and the lonely peasant’s cot 
standing in the distance, seemed to us a charming subject for 
a rustic picture and romance. 

Traffic on this busy highway is very well catered for in that 
each locality possesses several post-houses, and fine vehicles 
and horses are to be had everywhere. 

It was a quick drive to Canterbury, which must be a very 
old town, for they say the first settlers came there in 900 b.c. 
with St. Augustine for their first archbishop; later they 
acquired a saint and martyr of their own in the person of their 
archbishop, Thomas Becket, murdered in the church during 
Henry ii’s reign in 1170, and while England remained 
Catholic they derived great benefit from pilgrimages to this 
saint. But when Henry viii, with a change of wives, made a 
change of religion and pillaged the costly shrine, reliquaries 
and offerings, the inhabitants sought their fortune in trade, 
and it is said that French materials in particular were to be 
had here in great quantities. They do not seem to want to 
vaunt their wealth externally, however, for the city walls and 
most of the streets bear not the slightest trace of any out-of- 


DIARY 


287 

the-way prosperity, though the districts on either side of 
Canterbury are fine; and as there are woods all round, the 
sight of the many hues with which autumn tints the trees and 
bushes was a joy; may the fat, fertile country-side nurture a 
free and happy people to the end of its days. 

I was frequently reminded of my tour through Normandy, 
for there were also chalk cliffs here, streaked with flint, and 
grey sand-hills, with great layers of granite alternating with 
sand, and towards Dover again nothing but chalk, though its 
surface has long been cultivated; for from the fissures or 
broken clods it is quite clear that herbs, roots and flowers 
have long been rotting there, and forming two whole feet of 
fertile soil on top. For some time nothing but great heath- 
lands are visible, unlike Normandy, and which is a pity for 
England’s sake. We came across a number of pointers, 
sniffing about them keenly, led by their masters; but they 
would certainly not have succeeded in beating anything up 
on this very barren patch of country, even if they had been 
unleashed. 

To my great despair, night fell upon us; and though the 
moon shone very friendly I could no longer see the neighbour- 
hood as I should have liked; I just managed to discern the 
different shapes of the cliffs near Dover, silhouetted against 
the horizon, but all else was mantled in grey. I was much 
entertained by the so-called will-o’-the-wisps, quantities of 
which were floating to and fro on our right-hand side, which 
made me wonder whether that side might not soon be tilled 
and made fertile. I contemplated the beauty of the far bank 
of the Thames sown with villas and townships, the upper 
reaches of which I should also visit, were liberty and wealth 
at my disposal, as are my ideas. 

I soon saw Dover Castle, like a black silhouette rising on 
my left, and thought of the temerity of a Blanchard and 
Jeffries entering their balloon here so as to fly across the 
Straits to France. 

During our discussion we arrived in Dover, which I had 


288 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

imagined must be a very large town, as it took us quite a long 
while to reach Mr. Le Marie’s inn, who bade us welcome with 
a cup of very good broth and French bread, placing the 
newspapers ready for us, and remarking that the commercial 
treaty recently concluded with France had already doubled 
the influx of travellers for him, as many people from both 
countries were scurrying to and fro, so as to be the first to 
rouse slumbering contracts and derive benefits. 

One of the papers listed a number of things, amongst others, 
‘That England might hope for better comedies from the new 
free trade with France, as now her lazy English dramatic 
poets would be allowed to translate French plays, or other 
honest folk might found a factory of these translations and 
make use of this very necessary branch of commerce.’ 

The rest of the party arrived after Mr. Hurter and me, so 
I had ample time to write and repeat to myself, ‘You are now' 
on the English frontier, and will never come over again except 
for some fresh miracle of friendship or of chance, but you will 
always rejoice that you have been across.’ 


DOVER, Oct. 10 

As the wind is unfavourable we are obliged to content 
ourselves here for a few days, so we went to take a look at the 
coast and the harbour. The sea is rough, and I saw it tossing 
some twenty fair-sized vessels at various distances away, up in 
the air like a ball. I spent some time watching the flow of the 
waves, which bring in the tide, breaking on the shore. With 
might and grandeur the waves roll in, chasing each other 
along, then broad and towering tumble on the shore, and 
break with a dull thud of thunder, like a waterfall now flecked 
with silvery spray. 

We had a telescope, and I observed Dover and its vicinity, 
with its chalk cliffs in crescent form, one of them bearing the 
old castle fastness with its four square towers, like all "such 
buildings in England, their roof hidden behind the high 
castellated wall, and formerly intended as a look-out for 


DIARY 289 

distant foes, and a vantage ground from which to combat any 
attempting to scale the tower. 

I saw the spot from which Blanchard started by air to 
Calais, and imagined the crowd of thousands of people 
thronging the harbour, shore and cliffs, anxiously and 
admiringly watching the desperadoes, Blanchard and Jeffries, 
in this air-filled balloon, made of white, flimsy material, rise 
up above the ocean. Hundreds of spectators followed their 
course eagerly through telescopes. A number of women were 
taken ill, and it lasted three hours before the great telescopes 
on the castle hill observed them land on terra firma in France. 
Some humane persons had sent out boats in squad formation, 
ready to come to the flyers’ rescue should they have the ill- 
luck to fall into the sea. This incident seemed to me re- 
markable in that so few people of standing or particular 
intellect were present, only the populace came to see. The 
landlords, who naturally calculated that this extraordinary 
scene would mean some profits, sent out men to invite 
eminent and prosperous people as well to witness this novel 
spectacle; according to our very sensible host, Le Marie, how- 
ever, they came, stirred rather by the patriotic conception 
of bringing Dover some money in, than for Blanchard’s sake. 

This remark gave me food for thought, and I came to the 
conclusion that this kind of indifference was the fruit of an 
inward disdain towards persons entering on any useless 
enterprise, however artistic or perilous it may be. The 
dexterity of tight-rope walkers or acrobats, for instance, 
leaves one dumbfounded, while the perseverance and 
accuracy of movement required for balancing-tricks arouses 
one’s admiration; the love of one’s fellow-beings makes one 
shudder at the danger involved in certain extraordinary feats, 
and it is difficult to conceive how daring they really are, but 
intellects, energy and lives thus employed will never meet 
with any feeling of regard. The landlord’s further comment 
to the effect that all the spy-glasses and lorgnettes in London 
were sold out at the time, while after the first fearful glances 


290 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

at the air-balloon it was quite humorous to see so many 
thousand people with telescopes of all sizes, made us smile too. 

Returning homewards it struck me that the few streets we 
had rambled through contained far more pretty members of 
my sex than either I or my fellow-travellers had ever seen 
elsewhere; features, dehcate skin, colour, stature, eyes, and 
all combined with a pleasant manner. And in the light of 
such remarks one is at once reminded of a statement from a 
scholar’s travel diary to the effect that the real explanation of 
the beauty of the English race lies in their mixture of 
Danish, Saxon, and Norman blood. Dover has a constant 
influx of foreigners, several of whom settle, and thus this 
unusually fine human stock (as it is now called), is produced. 

The English maintain that the excellence of their laws 
consists also in the fact that they, likewise, are extracts from 
the laws of these different nations. This might very well 
apply to their good taste in works of art, which seem to be 
extracted from all the best and loveliest that the English have 
noticed on their travels amongst strange peoples, appro- 
priating features from the ancient and modern world, and 
introducing them at home, where the noble patriotism and 
glorious craftsmanship of their workers have nationalised and 
perfected them. 

But the question arises as to whether this mingling always 
had this effect or was always necessary; whether Circassia, 
Georgia and the Greek isles ever used such expedients, or 
whether such things took place in Italy, when she was 
selected as the first point on the line of beauty stretching to 
Persia. There is a maid in the inn here who is most lovely, 
even the most exquisite of connoisseurs allows this, and her 
figure attracts the feminine eye to such an extent that it 
cannot deny her exceptional charm; it is evident that she is 
conscious of it, though it seems to leave her quite indifferent, 
and she hovers, without any definite stopping-place, like an 
enchanting vision amongst the rooms and passages. We were 
told, however, that one of the subtleties in the policy of an 


DIARY 


291 

English landlord was always to select the prettiest girls— 
clever and honest ones, that is— for his house, as this attracted 
double visits from wealthy clients; for every lover hoped he 
would win the day eventually. How does such sport appeal 
to you, my daughters— a combination of avarice and lewd- 
ness with wit, beauty and virtue along the seashore in the 
charming country around London? 

I am sorry I allowed a little rough weather to prevent my 
climbing up to the castle with your brother, though this was 
not the only reason, as I was advised not to, and gave in with 
inward vexation for fear of appearing stubborn; from there I 
might have overlooked Dover and its surroundings, besides a 
large slice of England, should have seen the old Gothic castle 
close to, and given my blessings once again to the neighbour- 
hood of Windsor, London and Richmond; but I always 
give in, and prefer other people’s ideas when it comes to 
sacrificing one of my own. So Carl went alone, and I re- 
visited the harbour, spent a few moments contemplating this 
portion of the English coast, and gazed across the water to 
the shores of France, for the sea extended a mighty arm 
between them, and divided Great Britain from the continent, 
with the care of a divine precaution encircling the ever- 
blessed isle on every side. I rejoiced at this, rejoiced at the 
stormy waves before me, hoping they would preserve the 
English national character from any harmful contamination 
from others, for I would rather they were influenced by their 
guardian angel, the sea, than by their artistic neighbour on 
the continent. May their great and noble qualities, the fruits 
of nature and generosity, and their born love of reflection and 
endurance, end in that perfection of which they are the 
nearest exponents and certainly possess many examples. The 
noble ambition of their mechanics striving after perfection 
a lofty taste in art and high-minded simplicity inherent in 
them, respect for law— all these things bring them close to 
the highest grade of moral effort, and their geographical 
position makes my love confident that it is impossible for 


292 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

them to become petty slaves or flatterers. I may fear abuses 
of their liberty, good fortune and talents, but their downfall 
never. As long as this sphere of ours endures, may it be 
possible for the true philosophical observer to remark, like 
Archenholz, that in the whole history of the human species. 
Great Britain has given a permanent example; that millions 
of beings live together freely, rationally, according to the 
dignity of human nature, and despite the highest culture, 
affluence and learning, law governs and not man. And if, 
in time to come, our nation should contribute a second 
Wendeborn to England, may this new estimable man, after 
fifteen years of observation, be in a position to write: ‘Honesty 
and candour are part of the English national character. 
Wealth and position are of no avail in court, even if the 
plaintiff is quite a poor man. No nation has a more natural 
inclination to treat mistakes with kindness and pity the 
unfortunate. In England thoughts, tongue, pen and press 
are free, therefore have no cause for hypocrisy; neither 
education nor law makes slaves of them. The ordinary man’s 
leisure in reading public papers does away with unruliness, 
oppression and superstition everywhere. The public is the 
great tribunal by whom all judgments are made, and this 
voice can awaken shame and terror: the English are brave 
and regard death as a gift of heaven.’ Should there be Deists, 
Quakers, Socinians, Papists and Presbyterians amongst the 
English Christians at that date, I hope this new Wendeborn 
who is to do honour to our grandchildren may be able to say 
of them ‘That they speak of their different creeds candidly, 
amicably, without interference. May the educational tenets 
of the Quaker be disseminated, as they are said to possess the 
secret of persuading children to perform the tasks and endure 
the unpleasantness of human existence, so that, according to 
a very credible statement, the Quakers have never been 
known to commit a suicide.’ 

I love England’s poets of all time, and hope that in the 
future a new Thomson will experience the joy of singing the 


DIARY 


293 

spirit and virtue of Britain’s sons and daughters as he did in 
his Seasons. And if a subsequent Talbot should fade at the 
prime of his success, may the new Thomson, as he draws a 
comparison between Britain and Rome, Greece and other 
modern and ancient free states, always be justified in giving 
preference to the noble freedom of his motherland, saying, 
‘Centuries ago another name sang that virtue alone could 
maintain England’s prosperity; it has done so.’ 

And may another Glover intone some magnificent poem 
on the everlasting blossom of action, and further Popes and 
Counts of Rochester find no more material for Dunciads and 
satires on human kind. 

I pondered once more my stay in England, and all I know 
about her; my spirit was moved, and with tears in my eyes I 
besought Providence always to provide this country with a king 
as fatherly as George in, and a queen with as great a learning and 
virtue as Charlotte of Mecklenburg. Chatham’s spirit hover 
over all the ministers and the lasting influence of the society 
for the encouragement of agriculture and useful crafts. For 
there are still hundreds and hundreds of untilled acres where 
that soil can be seen of which Addison says it yields nothing 
but buttercups, buckthorn berries, blackthorn and truffles. 

And now Carl returned from castle hill, and told us of the 
vastness of the buildings and halls, and of the strength of the 
walls, and brought all kinds of stones he had collected from 
the cliff-top and seashore: chalk, lime, mortar, granite flints, 
marine plants, one of which is supposed to be polypoid. I 
was glad he had gathered all these specimens, but angry with 
him, after the guide’s statement, for risking himself so far on 
to the outer edge of the cliff, so that he had to lie down flat 
on the ground to prevent himself being carried off by the 
wind and flung into the sea. 


Oct. II 

This afternoon I was vividly reminded of Miss Burney, as 
there was some talk in the paper of good Lavater, and some- 


294 


SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

body, on hearing that his mind had become fuddled, said, 
‘It was a good thing for humanity, as this example would cure 
many of the exaggerated enthusiasm to which he had brought 
them.’ Charming Miss Burney would almost certainly have 
made as pointed a remark as she did over the Cook incident. 
During a discussion on physiognomy Mr. Hurter expressed 
the idea that it was nothing more than a game of chance. 
It was only a matter of drawing some fine figure or other, 
and then either contracting the said features a little or 
expanding them, so that three different physiognomies of the 
same person would excite a similar number of different 
versions of their moral character. With reference to the above, 
I expressed the hope that I should find Lavater in good 
health on arrival, and should like to hear him talk with the 
author, as due to inclement weather we had to stay about here 
quite a long while, and the sight might have dispelled the 
tedium; but it gave us the advantage of a rest, and we were 
thus able to select our ship from amongst the packet-boats 
lying at anchor. 

I should very much like to sketch the schoolmaster, who 
has a school opposite my window in the room of a really 
miserable abode; a large, powerful man, strong enough to 
strangle four youths at a time, and who, in addition, has his 
square head bound up in a large cloth which, plus his dark 
brown overcoat, gives him a disagreeable look which must 
frighten the children. Nor can anything more joyful than 
the faces and capers of those little ones when school is over be 
imagined. During those dreary days in Dover, these boys of 
six to fourteen years, in that fine flower and with the splendid 
stature peculiar to the English, cheered me somewhat. 
Youthful spirits, sensation of freedom, companionship and 
mischief; some of them having a sense of justice and protec- 
tion towards the oppressed, others aggressive and offensive, 
then beating a cowardly retreat, showing malice or sym- 
pathy, all these characteristics could be discerned amongst 
the fifteen or sixteen boys, and just as I am writing this, they 


DIARY 


295 

are gathering for school again. Five of them still have some 
important task to perform, and are investigating their tiny 
pipes and squirts made of elm-wood, smiling kindly at them 
before putting them away in their pockets, and then they 
troop into school together. There are very fine boys amongst 
them, but those with the little pipes seemed to me gentler, 
while the owners of the squirts were more \aolent and more 
decided in their gestures, which was the natural outcome of 
their characters, as perhaps they fashioned the soft, simple 
pipe from the wood of some shrub to give themselves and 
others pleasure, while the squirts were cut for teasing pur- 
poses or perhaps for revenge. They did not put their books 
down, and I regret not having asked them to show me their 
school-books. May they grow into honest citizens supporting 
their old parents, and become good husbands to the pretty 
lasses with whom Dover abounds. 

I remember to have heard from Mr. le Bret that in the inn 
at which he stopped during his trip with the Duke of Wiirtem- 
berg in Dover, there was a library for foreigners where several 
languages might be had, so that the period of waiting for a 
favourable wind should be pleasantly whiled away. I made 
inquiries at our lodgings, too, and saw a cupboard opened 
which contained besides a supply of tumblers and bottles a 
few copies of very good English sermons. 

One volume of Plutarch translated into English in 1686. 
A copy of a Paris newspaper, which some traveller must ha\ e 
left behind, and one book, with the title-page missing, from 
Louis xiv’s time, describing a fete galante held by the latter 
at Marly. ^ . . . 

The rain cleared up a little, so I went to buy a travelling- 
bonnet, and visited a book-shop as well, and asked for Brath’s 
charming tale, Emma Corbet^ from which Angelika borrowed 
the subject for a stirring picture representing Virtue bending 


1 There follow pages of translated extract from V Ennui sans sujet (tedium 
without cause) describing the pastimes of the age, building of Marly, 2ifete 
galante held there at the time of Louis xiv, which are omitted as irrelevant. 


296 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

over Emma’s urn, and mourning her death. But the man did 
not have this tale in stock. I was tempted to buy a delightful 
little engraving, however, showing a lovely peasant girl 
holding ears of corn in her hand in pious rural manner, and 
her eyes lifted to heaven. The inscription reads, ‘Lord, Thou 
who tookest away my parents and madest me poor, grant me 
work and protect my innocence, and I shall never bemoan 
my fate.’ 

I bought the September and October numbers of the 
Lady's Magazine, and was sorry I had not procured them all, 
as they contained very nice essays, most useful for the informa- 
tion of my sex, as, for example, An idea of true philosophy 
and wisdom; On the spirit of contradiction; Educational 
institutes; Medical notes for women; Blind delusions of love; 
A fine picture of the value of a loyal stepmother; charming 
poems on various subjects, and a number of riddles, some 
made up especially from the names of boy and girl pupils in 
different counties, some requiring a thorough knowledge of 
the language, others observation in natural and racial 
history, art and other branches. I was informed too late of 
the publication of a handbook for ladies dealing with 
feminine interests and amusements, and directions as to how 
to become prosperous with honour. Further, dedicated to 
men of small means, advice showing how families can live on 
£750 to ^130 a year. As such sums are often the lot of eminent 
persons at home, and as now the state revenues and expendi- 
tures of kings and princes are becoming known, it seems to me 
a useful piece of work might be done using this material as 
a companion study to our estimable Professor Crome’s 
catalogue of European products, entitled, Europe and her 
Expenditure. But this useful English book cannot be very well 
known, even in its own country, as in the latest papers I saw 
a number of estates up for sale; it seems to me as long as 
paint a la Ninon Enclos, soap-bubbles of Venus, hair-oil of 
Athens, and exaggerated fashions are sought by the ‘ladies,’ 
as this paper reports, and as long as there are men who 


DIARY 


297 


dodge the ban upon the coming fashion of tying shoes with 
laces, which threatens to ruin buckle-makers, by wearing a 
buckle on one foot and a shoe-lace on the other, so as not to 
cause too precipitate a change — so long there will be family 
estates on the market, and this booklet will need to go through 
more than five editions, especially if ministers be returned 
again of the type rebuked for spending untold millions, for 
the nation cannot always count on a William Pitt to succeed 
with virtuous precepts in counteracting this irresponsible 
squandering. 

I was very glad to have this reminder of the great man 
while still on the shores of his own country, just as the last 
drop of a rare elixir from the chalice of human joy is quaffed 
rapturously. I derived great pleasure from reading the 
invitations to four different winter clubs — for philosophers, 
doctors, politicians and economists — where practical prob- 
lems are dealt with. There is also one announced for fools 
and idiots, in which the maddest member acts as president. 
I do hope the economic club will encourage Mr. Watson’s 
excellent suggestions for teaching young people of rank and 
means the principles of agriculture, commerce and manu- 
facture, so that they may one day be of real service to their 
country in important matters in parliament by their under- 
standing, and on their estates become models and leaders in a 
sound land policy and be assured against the tedium of which 
gay, wealthy noblemen complain in the country. Further, 
this excellent man strikes chords, the sound of which excites 
my grief; for instance, he suggests that this would cause 
a sound increase in agriculture and the good, honest, peasant 
population, as millions of acres are lying there fallow; and 
let me add that it would remove the reproof that highway 
robbery is a native English characteristic. Secondly, Mr. 
Watson continues that parents leave their children at the 
university too short a time, as they take them away at the age 
of seventeen, give them a horse and money at random to 
pursue gaieties galore, teach them to drink at table like 


298 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

their elders, and then send them to France or to Italy — so 
that Great Britain overflowed with babblers on good taste, 
literature, art and religion. 

Millions of untilled acres, and so many young people 
ruined by the senseless kindness of their parents — this was a 
double crime, and grieved me extremely. Swarms of young 
Englishmen in Gottingen, Geneva and Lausanne came to my 
mind, confirming such complaints. I am indeed sorry that 
parents are accused of this, thereby throwing a great moral 
shadow over the fair isle. 

My children must allow me one more extract from this last 
paper read on English soil, for so many desires with regard to 
my own country are entailed; and I openly confess that I am 
sorry to find in this extract the faults of the teachers in the 
English academies I have praised so highly. 

Mr. Digby wants to found an academy for fifteen scholars, 
who are to learn Latin and French, and a perfect knowledge 
of their English mother tongue, with pleasant, harmonious 
pronunciation and every fine turn of phrase, to enable them 
to pursue their studies or travel worthily and with enjoyment. 
They are supposed to be made familiar with the classical 
authors of these three languages, and mathematics. Besides 
which, they must be trained to show a fine candid spirit and 
a pleasant demeanour; nor will any punishment be inflicted 
which might harm the mentality of a sensitive, honourable 
youngster, as happens in so many academies amongst 
disagreeable, stupid teachers, often for quite minor youthful 
offences caused by thoughtlessness, making learning a torture 
for them, and suppressing all noble ambition. 

He guarantees large, clean rooms in addition; simple, 
nourishing food; boasts that his dwelling is situated far away 
from any disturbing racket and has an exit into the park for 
open air and walks, so that good parents might rest assured 
regarding their sons’ health. 

I only wish as many academies were provided in our 
German Fatherland, and that the scholars were given 


DIARY 


299 


English frock coats, hats, boots and cravats to wear, and 
that something of Mr. Digby’s programme were adopted in 
their general training, and that their intellect were polished 
by social intercourse and modern languages, while avoiding 
the glaring mistakes in teaching which he reproves. 

The apparently vainglorious tone assumed in praising the 
pretty, spacious rooms and the cleanliness and his position 
near a good walk is no small matter — I have heard good 
parents complain of the incredible dirt prevailing in educa- 
tional establishments at home, ruining the health, order- 
liness and good habits of the pupils, so that they were taken 
away before they had received half their instruction. 

I should have liked to write some excerpts from the 
history of Dover, but found nothing but the fact that the 
castle had been constructed on the foundations of the great 
Roman castle which Caesar had built, and that once the town 
had seven parishes, only two of which remain; that Dover 
had once been rich enough to equip twenty-one battleships, 
but was not so prosperous now. So the good city is, in fact, 
only meant for transit and a passage through, for fortune and 
affluence do not settle here. 

We too assert that had we only known we should have to 
stay some days in Dover, we could have remained in London 
a little longer. Some few more days there would have meant 
so much to me. One more amongst the finest in my life at 
Windsor, which some high mercy had decreed for me; 
another little trip with friends and Carl. . . . Oh, I feel in 
these and other joys, I experienced the sensations of an artist 
scheming an ideal for a painting or a statue, with a mental 
picture of the glorious creation in its supreme perfection 
before him, striving to give it form, using every effort in his 
power, and then discovering that the image he had planned 
was quite different from the one confronting him. But a 
peculiar, rare specimen of genius is required to hew Apollo 
from out a block of stone, or with the brush present immortal 
masterpieces. The spirit in question, combined with happy 


300 SOPHIE IN LONDON, 1786 

hours, would have to cast and mould circumstances in such a 
way that the image of a happy moment would grow as we 
had fancied it. Very ably drawn was the picture of my 
enjoyment, both mental and emotional, during this tour — 
contour, blend of colours, all in finest perspective; perhaps, 
however, I have forgotten the shadows which overcast all 
earthly phenomena. 

I owe my Pomona one very real pleasure in winning 

Mme. W for a generous friend, for she gave me the amount 

of the remaining hundred copies, enabling me to let my son 
make the return journey with Mr. Hurter via Paris, and so 
give the dear boy yet another pleasure which will last him 
the rest of his life— that of seeing one of the world’s most 
remarkable cities in the company of his parents’ trusty friend, 
who loves him too, and at the same time of visiting with him 
physicists and mechanics there. This prospect for your 
brother crowns the pleasure of my tour to England, and of 
my work with the friendly pages of Pomona. 


Early Oct. 12 

The wind has veered at last. We are leaving at midday with 
the French mail-boat in which the Duke of Milan crossed to 
Calais; the man harped on this incident as though it were 
some particular achievement on the part of his vessel. 

Adieu, England! Be thou ever as fair as when I beheld 
thee, and as virtuous as I believe thou art. Windsor, 
Richmond, I shall never forget you more. 


INDEX 


Anglo-German relations, 7 
Anglomania, 18, 45 
d’Arblay, Mme., see Burney 
Archenholz, A. W., 8, 31, no, 133, 
186, 206, 292. 

Bacon, John, 243-245 
Balloon adventure, 287, 289 
Bartolozzi, F., 40, 230, 231, 232, 242, 

245 

Bertin, Mile., modiste, 27 
Bianconi, see La Roche, Sophie v. 
Bielfeld, Baron von, 8, 15 
Bocage, Mme. Figuet du, 20, 103, 136, 

279 

Bondeli, Julie, 22, 23 
Boydell, John, 237-9, 259 
Buflfon, 16, 27, 53, 106 
Burney, Fanny, 179, 185, 186, 196, 
197, 202, 273, 276, 277, 282 n., 
293. 294 

diary of, 6, 51, 52 

Cagliostro, Comte de, 6, 25, 51, 53, 
136^,148,263 
biography of, 7 
Caricature, 262, 263 
Casanova, Mme., 24, 25 
Charities, 1 70, 254, 265, 283; see Index 
of Places 

Charlotte, of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, 
Queen, 130, 145, 199, 200, 201, 
205, 219, 276, 293 

Cipriani, Giambattista, 154, 231, 239, 
242, 245, 252 

Coaching, 15, 35, 82, 84, 86, 94, 235, 
286 

Cook, James, 14, 109, 1 14, 188, 253, 
277 

Cosway, Richard, 239 
Customs, the, 80 

Defoe, Daniel, 8, 31, 48, 51 
Delany, Mrs., 201, 203-5 
Memoirs of, 6 


England— 

fashions in, 49, 88, 89, 95, 98, 103, 
208, 217-19, 296 

meals in, 37, 38, 67, 148, 154, 188, 
i99» 207, 272 

tourism in, 1 7, 35, 82, 290 
English gardens, 49, 86, 194, 210, 212, 
231; see Country houses, Kew 
Sabbath, 135 

Fielding, Mrs., 6, 179, 180, 196, 197, 
198, 199. 248 

Finch, Lady Charlotte, 179, 196 
Miss, 179, 180, 196 
Forster, J. R., 143,144, 156, 228 

Gainsborough, Thomas, 151, 152 
Genlis, Mme. de, 28, 180, 24.r. 

George i, 74 

II, 74 

III, 14, 170 n., 200, 201, 217, 219, 
276, 293 

Gessner, Salomon, 23, 53, 57, 281 
Goethe, 53, 62 

Gordon, I.ord George, 7, 51, 137, 148, 
160 

Graham, Dr. James, 38, 39 
Grand Tour, the, 13-19 
books on, 7 

English abroad, 14, 23, 27, 298 
in England, 8, 17, 18 
in Germany, 15 
in Italy, 15 

in London, 31, 33, 35, 36 
Nugent on, 14 

Green, Benjamin, engraver, 1 5 1 , 154 
Guide-books, compilers of, 1 6, 1 7 

Haas, brothers, 91, 134, 135 
Hastings, Warren, 51, 126, 243, 246, 
254~9> 260, 261, 268-72, 281, 284 
Mrs., 242, 243, 246, 254, 256, 257, 
270, 271, 272 

Hatchett, John, coachbuilder, 158, 

159 


301 


302 


INDEX 


Herschel, William, 51, 159, 190-3 
Caroline, 159, 192, 193 
Highwaymen, 51, 214, 235, 236, 237 
Hogarth, William, 80, 218 
Hurter, John, painter on enamel, 88, 
89, 91, 100, 156, 160, 223, 232, 
242, 246, 261, 264, 280, 283, 284, 
285, 288, 294, 300 
Junior, 173, 186, 190 

Jacobi, Friedrich, 28, 201, 242 
Jervais (Jarvis), Thomas, 193-5, 202 

Katterfelto, quack, 39 
Kauffmann, Angelika, 134, 154, 225, 
231, 267, 295 

Kielmannsegge, Count F. von, diary, 8 
Kirwan, Richard, chemist, 92, 155, 
156, 259, 260, 281, 282 n., 283, 
284 

La Fite, Mme., 51, 92, 173, 180, 181, 
185, 186, 187, 188, 190, 196, 198, 
272, 276 

La Roche, Sophie v.— 

Articles, etc., on, 6 
and Bianconi, 55, 58 
and Wieland, 6, 22, 23, 53, 56, 57, 
.58, 59, 60, 62 
Birthplace, 54 
Biography of, 5, 53-63 
Children, 22, 28, 60 
Husband, 5, 20, 22, 54, 58, 59, 60, 
88, 187 

Letters to, from, 6 
Maiden name, 54 
Marriage, 58 
Parents, 54, 55, 58 
Works, 22, 60 ff., 105, 226, 300 
in England, 19, 35, 36, 37, etc., 77 
to end 

in France, 25-28 
in Holland, 28-30, 65-77. 
in Switzerland, 20-5 
Lavater, Johann K., 53, 153, 282, 293, 

294 

Lever, Ashton, collector, 46, 111-15, 
122, 128; see Museums 
I.ind, Dr. James, 188-90 
Luc, Mons. de, 187, 188, 195, 272, 
276, 284 

Lijttich, Merlin von, 47, 139-41 
Lyttleton, Lord Thomas, 6, 282 n. 


Magnetism, 27, 28, iii, 195 
Methodists, 66, 67, 77, 170, 263 
Monro, Dr., of Bedlam, 168, 171, 284 
More, Hannah, diary of, 6 
Moritz, Carl Philipp, 8, 33, 35, 37, 52, 
I to, 206 

Newspapers, 130, 216, 295 
extracts from, 71, 95, too 
Nicholson, Margaret, 6, 97, 102, 169 
Nollekens, Joseph, 7, 233, 234, 242 

Packet, the, 14, 75, 76, 77-80 
Peters, Matthew W., painter, 238 
Pope, Alexander, see Twickenham 

Qiiakers, 43, 134 

Reventlow, Julia, Countess of, 92, 
i73> 205, 207, 269, 217, 218, 233, 

266, 267, 278, 281, 284 

Count, 206, 207, 208, 21 1, 225, 234 
Reynolds, Sir Joshua, 6, 23, 151, 152, 

.179 

Rigaud, John Francis, 245 

Sarasin, J., 25, 136, 138 
Savile, Sir George, 7, 160, 161, 233, 
234, 242 

tutor to, 160, 1 61, 242, 259 
Schools, 92, 93, 135, 175, 246-50, 294, 
298, 299 

Scott, Major, 260 

Seddon, Thomas, cabinet-maker, 1 73- 

. 5 . 

Societies— 

Debating, 229, 230 
Medical, 240 
Royal Academy, 43, 46 
Royal, 19, 43 

Soc. for Encouragement, etc., 161-4 
Specialists, on tour, 16, 36 
Stolberg circle, 21, 219, 215 
Stuart, Gilbert, 151, 153 

Theatre, on the, 7, 41, 42, 12 1 
Plays, 93, 94, 1 21, 219, 266 
Players, 41, 42, 93, 94, 98, 1 21, 266, 

267, 276 

Vulliamy, Benjamin L., clockmaker, 
too, 101, 146, 148 


INDEX 


303 


Watzdorf, H. von, 20, 1 10, 206 
Wedgwood, Josiah, 108, 122 
Wendeborn, G. F. A., B, 18, 20, 46, 52, 
no, 221, 222, 263, 264, 292 
Wesley, John, 6, 66, 67, 69, 73, 76, 77, 
78, 81 

West, Benjamin, 151, 152, 153, 194, 
I95> 232 

Wieland, C'hristian M., 119, 134; see 
La Roche, Sophie v. 

Woide, Rev. Carl G., 103, log, 159 


Women, 39, 57 
books on, 6 

intellectual, 28, 61, 105, 106, 178- 
80, 196-99, 203-5, 231, 277 
Woollett, William, 238 
Woronzoff, Count, 235, 241, 242, 284 
Wren, Christopher, 123, 124 

Young, Arthur, 13 

Zucchi, 225; Angelika Kaufl'mann 


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A 


i 




INDEX OF PLACES AND SIGHTS 


Addphi, the, 34, 43, 161 
Amsterdam, 29, 30, 222 
Augsburg, 54, 55, 56 

Bank of England, 164 
Basel, 25, 136 
Berne, 23, 282 
Blackheath, 285 
Bonigheim, 59 
Bordeaux, 27 
Boulogne, 28 
Bridges— 

Blackfriars, 34, 155, 171 
Kew, 234 

London, 28, 33, 38, 99 
Westminster, 34, 171, 281 
Brighthelmstone, 28 
Brook, 29 
Burgorner, 279 

Calais, 28, 300 
Canterbury, 285, 286, 287 
Chamonix, 21 
Charities— 

Bedlam, 42, 45, 166-71 
Chelsea Hospital, 19, 45, 278 
Foundling Hospital, 45, 176, 177 
Greenwich Hospital, 19, 42, 45, 250- 
3 

Guy’s Hospital, 45 
London Hospital, 45 
St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, 46 
St. Thomas’ Hospital, 46 
Westminster Hospital, 45 
Coblenz, 59, 235 
Coffee-houses, 18, 43 
Colchester, 35, 70, 82, 83, 87 
Machine, 84 
Colmar, 22, 25 
Country-houses, 48 
Beaumont Lodge, 48, 268, 269 
Leonard’s Hill, 274-6 
Osterley Park, 48, 224-8, 245 
Customs House, 165 


Delft, 30 

Deptford, 252, 253, 254, 285 
Dieppe, 28 

Dover, 14, 28, 285, 287-91, 29^, 295, 
298 

East India House, 165 

East Indies, 70, 243, 254, 258, 270, 272 

Ehrenbreitstein, 28, 60 

England, see General Index 

Eton, 190, 1 91 

Ferney, 24 

Guildhall, 44, 239, 240 

Haarlem, 30 
Hague, The, 30, 75, 194 
Hamburg, 21, 92, 193, 206 
Hampstead, 34, 48 
Belsize, 8 
Well Walk, 8 

Harwich, 14, 16, 19, 28, 35, 70, 77,81, 
82 

Havre de Grace, 21, 27, 77 
Haymarket, 87, 88, 122; see Theatres 
Helvoetsluys, 14, 15, 28, 81 
at, 65-77 

Ingatestone, 82, 86 
Ipswich, T2 

Jamaica, 243, 244 
Kaufbeuren, 54 

Kew, 16, 48, 1 31, 202, 225, 228-9, 
. 234, 235, 278 
Knightsbridge, 137, 148 

Lausanne, 23, 27 
Leiden, 30 

London, 31-53, 85, 86, 87, 91, 115, 
127, 135, 143, 177; see under 
Charities, Parks, Theatres, etc. 


305 


INDEX 


306 

London — 

Environs of, 45, 47, 48 ; see Windsor, 
Richmond, etc. 

Growth of, 31, 32 
Lhong Dinas, 52, 53 
Shops, 40, 87, III, 1 12, 132, 141, 
142, 158, 159, 1 71, 172, 221, 237, 
261, 262 

Tower of, 42, 44, 126-30, 144 
Transport to, 82 
Works on, 7, 8 
Louvre, the, 26, 124 
Lucerne, 23 
Luxembourg, the, 26 

Mainz, 28, 59 
Mansion House, the, 44 
Markets, 44 
Covent Garden, 143 
Billingsgate, 44, 165, 166 
Mistley, 82 

Museums (collections) — 

Agar’s private gallery, 47, 2 1 3 
British Museum, 46, 103-10, 114, 
156, 228 

Cox’s Museum, 47 
Holophusicon, Leverian, 46, 41 , 1 1 2- 

115 , 

Townley’s Antiquities, 47, 219-21 
Oxford Street, 40, 41, 141, 241, 261 

Palaces— 

Bedford House, 131 
Buckingham House, 38, 46, 102, 
145-148 

Gunnersbury Palace, 48 
Hampton Court, 47 
Kensington Palace, 48, 223, 232 
Marly, 26 

St. James’ Palace, 38, 147,218, 263, 
264 

Trianon, 26, 27 
Versailles, 26, 27, 53, 102, 217 
Whitehall Palace, 38 
Windsor Castle, see Windsor 
Pantheon, the, 38, 41, 240, 241, 282 
Parks— 

Green, 147, 262, 263 
Greenwich, 253 
Hyde, 40, 136, 254 
Kensington Gardens, 135 
Richmond, 210 


Parks — 

St. James’, 38, 40, 102, 147, 220, 
262, 263 

Tuileries Gardens, 26, 102 
Paris, 14, 16, 1 7, 25-27, 29, 83, 86, 87, 
93, 102, 103, III, 127, 139, 195, 
217 

Pleasure Gardens, 8, 281 
Bagnigge Wells, 49 
Bermondsey Spa, 96 
Marybone, 8, 49 

Ranelagh, 8, 38, 41, 48, 49, 50, 
279 n. 

Sadler’s Wells, 38, 50 
Vauxhall, 30, 38, 41, 48, 49, 50, 
279, 280, 281 

Richmond, 2i, 45, 90, 173, 205, 206, 
207,209,225,234,235,278,300 
Ritzebuttel, 28 
Romford, 82, 86 
Rotterdam, 28, 30, 65, 67, 79 
Royal Exchange, 44, 222 

Sardam, 29 

St. Paul’s Cathedral, 33, 42, 43, 44, 
123-6, 281 
Savoy, the, 18, 34 
Scheveningen, 21, 30 
Slough, 1 91 

Societies, see General Index 
Somerset House, 34,43, 154, 155, 281 
Spires, 25, 59, 61 
Stour, River, 79, 81, 82 
Suffolk, County, 79, 80, 81, 82, 85 

Theatres— 

Astley’s Amphitheatre, 96 
Covent Garden, 41, 93, 218 
Drury Lane, 41, 42, 93, 266 
Italian Opera, Haymarket, 41 
Little Theatre, Haymarket, 41, 93- 
95 

Royal Circus, 50, 96, 155 
Sadler’s WelE, 96, 131, 132, 133 
Touraine, 27 

Twickenham, 47, 206, 210-12 
Vevay, 24 

Warthausen, Castle of, 20, 59, 60 
Westminster Abbey, 42, 102, 115-20, 
122, 125, 129, 147, 202, 233 


INDEX 


307 


Westminster Abbey — 

Hall, 12 1 

Parliament, 42, 43, 120—21, 122 
Windsor, 34, 45, 47, 53, go, 92, 97, 
I bo, 173, 207, 21 1, 235, 252, 272, 
274, 278, 299, 300 
Sophie at, 177-205 


Witham, 82 
Wool Hall, 239 
Woolwich, 251 

Yarmouth, iG, 28, 37 

Zurich, 22, 23 






009966 




1186 ^ 



. T«2 La Roche, Sophie Vf.n. 

I 

S<^ohle 1 n 1^86,