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Letter to Sir William ElfordWilliam Elford, Sir, baronet , Recorder for Plymouth, Recorder for Totnes, Member of Parliament for Plymouth , Member of Parliament for Rye, Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), Fellow of the Linnaean Society (FLS) | Born: 1749-08 in Kingsbridge, Devon, England. Died: 1837-11-30 in Totnes, Devon, England.
According to L’Estrange, Sir William was first a friend of Mitford’s father, and Mitford met him for the first time in the spring of 1810 when he was a widower nearing the age of 64. They carried on a lively correspondence until his death in 1837. Elford worked as a banker at Plymouth Bank (Elford, Tingcombe and Purchase) in Plymouth, Devon, from its founding in 1782. He was elected a member of Parliament for Plymouth as a supporter of the government and Tory William Pitt, and served from 1796 to 1806. After his election defeat in Plymouth in 1806, he was elected member of Parliament for Rye and served from July 1807 until his resignation in July 1808. For his service in Parliament as a supporter of Pitt, he was made a baronet in 1800. After his son Jonathan came of age, he tried to secure a stable government post for him but never succeeded. Mayor of Plymouth in 1796 and Recorder for Plymouth from 1797 to 1833, he was also Recorder for Totnes from 1832 to 1834. Sir William served as an officer in the South Devon militia from 1788, eventually attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; the unit saw active service in Ireland during the Peninsular Wars. Sir William was a talented amateur painter in oils and watercolors who exhibited at the Royal Society from 1774 to 1837; he exhibited still lifes and portraits but preferred landscapes. He was elected to the Royal Society Academy in 1790. He was also a talented amateur naturalist and was elected to the Royal Linnaean Society in 1790; late in life, he published his findings on an alternative to yeast. He married his first wife, Mary Davies of Plympton, on January 20, 1776 and they had one son, Jonathan, and two daughters, Grace Chard and Elizabeth. After the death of his first wife, he married Elizabeth Hall Walrond, widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Maine Swete Walrond of the Coldstream Guards. His only son Jonathan died in 1823, leaving him without an heir. --#ebb #lmw
, September 12, 1819

Edited by Lisa M. Wilson.

Sponsored by:

First digital edition in TEI, date: 2017 September 10. P5.Edition made with help from photos taken by Digital Mitford editors. Digital Mitford photo files: P1020277.jpg, P1020278.jpg, P1020279.jpg, P1020280.jpg, P1020281.jpg, P1020282.jpg, P1020284.jpg, P1020285.jpg, P1020286.jpg, P1020287.jpg, P1020288.jpg, P1020289.jpg, P1020290.jpg, P1020291.jpg, P1020292.jpg, P1020293.jpg, P1020294.jpg, P1020295.jpg, .

Published by: Digital Mitford: The Mary Russell Mitford Archive, Greensburg, PA, USA: 2013.

Reproduced by courtesy of the Reading Central LibraryReading Central Library The principal archive of Mary Russell Mitford’s personal papers and related documents, holding approximately 1,000 manuscripts and a nearly comprehensive collection of her publications.
The principal archive of Mary Russell Mitford’s personal papers and related documents, holding approximately 1,000 manuscripts and a nearly comprehensive collection of her publications.--
.

Digital Mitford Letters: The Mary Russell Mitford Archive

Repository: Reading Central Library. Shelf mark: qB/TU/MIT Vol. 4 Horizon No.: 1361550 ff. 381

Two sheets of 23.5 mm high paper, four surfaces photographed. Folded in half vertically then in thirds horizontally. No postmarks. Second sheet (pages seven and eight) torn on right edge of page seven where wax seal was removed. There is also a small circular tear at the site of the now-removed wax seal. Three small remnants of red wax seal, now removed. Mitford indicates she removed the seal herself, as the letter was to be hand delivered.

Hands other than Mitford's noted on this manuscript:

Mitford’s spelling and punctuation are retained, except where a word is split at the end of a line and the beginning of the next in the manuscript. Where Mitford’s spelling and hyphenation of words deviates from the standard, in order to facilitate searching we are using the TEI elements “choice," “sic," and “reg" to encode both Mitford’s spelling and the regular international standard of Oxford English spelling, following the first listed spelling in the Oxford English Dictionary. The long s and ligatured forms are not encoded.
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To Sir W. ElfordWilliam Elford, Sir, baronet , Recorder for Plymouth, Recorder for Totnes, Member of Parliament for Plymouth , Member of Parliament for Rye, Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), Fellow of the Linnaean Society (FLS) | Born: 1749-08 in Kingsbridge, Devon, England. Died: 1837-11-30 in Totnes, Devon, England.
According to L’Estrange, Sir William was first a friend of Mitford’s father, and Mitford met him for the first time in the spring of 1810 when he was a widower nearing the age of 64. They carried on a lively correspondence until his death in 1837. Elford worked as a banker at Plymouth Bank (Elford, Tingcombe and Purchase) in Plymouth, Devon, from its founding in 1782. He was elected a member of Parliament for Plymouth as a supporter of the government and Tory William Pitt, and served from 1796 to 1806. After his election defeat in Plymouth in 1806, he was elected member of Parliament for Rye and served from July 1807 until his resignation in July 1808. For his service in Parliament as a supporter of Pitt, he was made a baronet in 1800. After his son Jonathan came of age, he tried to secure a stable government post for him but never succeeded. Mayor of Plymouth in 1796 and Recorder for Plymouth from 1797 to 1833, he was also Recorder for Totnes from 1832 to 1834. Sir William served as an officer in the South Devon militia from 1788, eventually attaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel; the unit saw active service in Ireland during the Peninsular Wars. Sir William was a talented amateur painter in oils and watercolors who exhibited at the Royal Society from 1774 to 1837; he exhibited still lifes and portraits but preferred landscapes. He was elected to the Royal Society Academy in 1790. He was also a talented amateur naturalist and was elected to the Royal Linnaean Society in 1790; late in life, he published his findings on an alternative to yeast. He married his first wife, Mary Davies of Plympton, on January 20, 1776 and they had one son, Jonathan, and two daughters, Grace Chard and Elizabeth. After the death of his first wife, he married Elizabeth Hall Walrond, widow of Lieutenant-Colonel Maine Swete Walrond of the Coldstream Guards. His only son Jonathan died in 1823, leaving him without an heir. --#ebb #lmw
16 Bertram HouseBertram House, Berkshire, England | Grazeley | Berkshire | England | | Mansion built by George Mitford for his family residence, begun in April 1802 and completed in June 1804, after tearing down the previous house on the property, Grazeley Court Farm, a farmhouse about three miles outside of Reading, in the hamlet of Grazeley. George Mitford named his new house after a knight from the reign of William the Conqueror, Sir Robert de Bertram, who had married Sibella Mitford, daughter of Sir John de Mitford (source: Vera Watson). This estate signified George Mitford’s status as a land-owning country gentleman. Prior to this time, the Mitford family lived in Alresford and then in Reading. The family removed from Bertram House in April 1820, after financial reverses forced the family to sell the property.--#ebb #lmw Sept 12th 1819.

About fifty times I determined, my dear Sir William, to sustain my epistolary dignity & never be betrayed into writing you three letters to one. But it is in vain—the more I resolve the less I execute—especially when the resolution is a sort of unnatural holding one’s tongue—So consoling myself with the sophistry that the letter which crossed yours cannot count for a bona fide letter—only a sort of a sidewind— & that I have only sent one epistle since—I write. My motive is partly a desire to prattle—partly a desire to hear—mostly the last.—First of all you must condole with me. I have lost my poor Mossy. He died about a fortnight ago of a fit, exceedingly lamented by every body about the place & most of all by me—the faithfullest & most intelligent creature in the world & fonder of me than anything in it except just Papa & Mama. Are not you very sorry for poor Mossy? I remember so well your feeding him & how well he understood when he was to take the meat. I am sure you will be sorry for poor Mossy. He was only 6 years old & had eaten a hearty breakfast just the day he died—but though so large & strong looking a dog he had never been healthy.—Then you must tell me that you have forgiven one breach of promise—I assure you if I have not been to Bickham I have been no where else—scarcely out of our own gates—but sitting under the trees all day long reading, working, & taming [del: .]by half the redbreasts & black birds in the neighborhood—a very lazy very happy life. Then when you have condoled & pardoned you may say what you will—any thing—or nothing—no not nothing English—nothing French—des riens—they make the best letters of any thing of my acquaintance as witness Madame de Sevigne—Horace Walpole & Sir William Elford. page 2
Mrs. Dickinson is come home quite delighted with your Camilla criticism  which is indeed admirable—I have promised to show her that on the Bride of Lammermoor which she admires for those precise qualities which you & I call faults! She won’t be converted—but she will think it very clever (your critique I mean) nevertheless. The Legend of Montrose she did not much like in spite of Captain Dalgetty. By the way did I ever  say to you that whichmention what strikes me so much in reading that & some other of Scott’s Characters—that he is a greater favorite with the Author than he pretends—that he makes believe to decry & undervalue him just by a species of allowable coquetry to gain more surely the hearts of his readers. Shakespeare I think does that with some of his finest & most intellectual characters—Falstaff, Shylock, Richard—& the reaction is felt even by those who do not observe the artifice. Perhaps this is only a fancy of mine—but I have it—& where ^is that fancy which I do not tell you?—Oh I have been reading Opie’s Lectures—Indeed Dr. Valpy having a spare copy gave them to me—a very valuable gift in my opinion. Nothing can  givebebe a juster character than your phrase, There is no standing still in them—all is clear sparkling running water—no weeds, no scum, no mud. They give me a much higher idea of his powers than his paintings—or rather having constantly before my eyes a coarse & unpleasant specimen of his portraits I had allowed myself to be prejudiced against him— naturally perhaps but certainly unfairly. The lectures are very powerful—they have not Fuseli’s Italian Imagination, but they make up for that deficiency by a great fund of English good sense. I do not like them the less because they contradict Fuseli in the very points which made me stare so much. A great proof that Mr. Opie is right. Don’t you think so?— Pray have you read Evelyn’s Memoirs? If not do. Begin forthwith—& do not shrug of your shoulders or look askew at theIt was a very fine picture of Dr. Mitford & the likeness to the truth was too strong to satisfy the ideal view which the daughter took of his Manners & character page 3
bulk of the Volumes—they are as entertaining as they are thick.—I cannot give them a higher character. Perhaps I like them the better for the portion of history that they embrace—The reign of the Stuarts from Charles the 1st to the Revolution has always been the part of English story that has had most attractions in my eyes—After the Revolution all is as dull & flat as a novel when the hero & heroine are married, & I would as soon read the long accounts of Miss Byron’s wedding dresses & Sir Charles Grandison’s furniture, as the petty squabbles of William & Mary & Anne & the Georges—Now Evelyn not only gives you all the finest part of this grand fifty years drama but shows the Actors behind the scenes—off the stage—with their wigs thrown by & their hoops off—You meet them at dinner parties & at plays the Buckinghams, the Shaftesburys the Arlingtons the Clarendons—all the cabal— you talk with the King & the Duke by land & by water—let houses to the Czar Peter & show gardens to the Russells & the Sidneys—All the  personages of thedramatis personae of the the Memoires de Grammont are before you & half the heroes of the State trials. Nothing can be more delightful—there are some charming letters too from that unlucky personage the Queen of Bohemia—whose adhorrence of the K & Queen of Sweden (Christian) is exceedingly dramatic & entertaining & a correspondence between Lord Clarendon ^when only Sir Edward Hyde & Sir Richard Browne his Majesty's resident at Paris which puts the poverty of that ambulating court in the strongest point of view possible—Only think of the Chancellor's sending the Preisdent a Pistole to pay the postage of his letters—& begging the Resident who had been lucky enough to light upon some wire to pay the Carriage or he should not be able to take it in. Nothing as I said before can be more delightful. Pray read it. Then I have been reading about the same people in a fine lordly book—Lord John Russell's Life of Lord Russell. Don't page 3
read that. Its prodigiously heavy indeed—it does nothing but stand still—it quarrels—it turns up its nose—it says How good I am to tell you all this—you ^ never forget that its by a Lord & about a Lord all the way through—that I must say though he is my Cousin.—Now Bishop Burnet tells the very same story & he makes it interesting—but between Bishop Burnet's Book & Lord John's there is much the same difference as between the old Lord Russell alive with his head on, & the said Lord Russell dead with his head off.—It's a great mercy that Lord John when he was about it did not take Algernon Sidney in hand—That would have overset my patience entirely—Instead of the cousinly & civil manner in which I have spoken of him above I should I am afraid have said something disrespectful & saucy—for Algernon Sidney is my hero of Heroes, the only rival of Napoleon in my heart, & millions of miles above Lord Russell—whom (to confess the truth—as a great secret & quite in a corner) I cannot help thinking a good deal over-rated. He was a very good man to be sure—too good by fifty times—though abundantly heavy & preachy & prosy—& but for his excellent luck in being beheaded in such a cause might have lived & died without the slightest risk of pitching in any rhyme but a dedication or an Epitaph. And (as a still greater secret—in a still lower voice & closer squeezed into the corner) my opinion of his wife is pretty much the same—She was a very good wife to be sure & a good Mother—though rather addicted to match making & Bishop-making—& putting me in mind perpetually of Buckingham's presentation of Richard to the Mayor & Alderman See where his Grace stands twixt two Clergymen—but to talk of her as such a miracle of talent & character—to place her on the same line with the Mrs. Hutchesons the Lady Fairfax's the Madame Rolands is an injustice of praise for which I can only account by the violent prejudices of party Historians who will have Angels & Devils for their personages instead of Men & Women.—Pray don't tell. )page 4
But even more than Evelyn I must recommend to you a book that I have just finished—Peter's letters to his Kinsfolk—Have you read it? It is a fictitious account of real people & those people are all the celebrated men of the Northern Athens vulgarly called Edinburgh. The book is charming—so are the people—James Hogg I am in love with—(I always was in love with his poetry)—& I am little less with John Wilson—though his verses are not so much to my taste—Mr. Jeffrey is very taking too—In short I read the book twice over & should like exceedingly to read it again. The Author is a great craniologist & makes a very artistlike & graphical use of this unknown knowledge. He is also a great Tory which you will like & a great Wordsworthite which you will dislike—but altogether I defy you not to be pleased.—The accounts of the great advocates are admirable particularly Mr. Clark ^mr Jeffrey Mr. Jeffrey Mr. Cranstoun—(Is he a brother of your Correspondent?) One quite wonders at the power which has given such an air of reality & identity to such high coloured panegyric—for he scarcely mentions any one but to praise except poor old Lord Buchan—& yet one is scarcely every tempted to suspect him of flattery. I liked it the better for my old acquaintance with Blackwood's Magazine for which in spite of its toryism & its sauciness I have had all along a sneaking kindness. Do read Peter. By the way I wonder very much who he is! Tell me if you hear. Now I will positively plague you no more about books.— The Hofland's splendid publication (that can't be called a book for the engravings are the soul of that grand work) is out at last—& they are in great luck not to have got many subscribers for the booksellers have agreed to take them at 7 guineas a copy page 5
don't like the sight of one.

Adieu my dear Friend!—I shall not send this till Wednesday when owing to a grand music meeting at Reading there will be a great influx of Lords & M.P.s. Perhaps I may hear from you by that time—so I shall leave "ample room & verge enough" for my answer—Adieu—Papa & Mama beg their best regards & I am ever

Most sincerely & affectionately your'syours
M. R. MitfordMary Russell Mitford | Born: 1787-12-16 in New Alresford, Hampshire, England. Died: 1855-01-10 in Swallowfield, Berkshire, England.
Poet, playwright, writer of prose fiction sketches, Mary Russell Mitford is, of course, the subject of our archive. Mary Russell Mitford was born on December 16, 1787 at New Alresford, Hampshire, the only child of George Mitford (or Midford) and Mary Russell. She was baptized on February 29, 1788. Much of her writing was devoted to supporting herself and her parents. She received a civil list pension in 1837. Census records from 1841 indicate that she is living with her father George, three female servants: Kerenhappuch Taylor (Mary’s ladies maid), two maids of all work, Mary Bramley and Mary Allaway, and a manservant (probably serving also as gardener), Benjamin Embury. The 1851 census lists her occupation as "authoress," and lists her as living at Three Mile Cross with Kerenhappuch Taylor (lady’s maid), Sarah Chernk (maid-of-all-work), and Samuel Swetman (gardener), after the death of her father. Mitford’s long life and prolific career ended after injuries from a carriage accident. She died on 10 January 1855 at Swallowfield, Berkshire and she is buried in Swallowfield churchyard. The executor of her will and her literary executor was the Rev. William Harness and her lady’s maid, Kerenhappuch Taylor Sweetman, was residuary legatee of her estate. --#lmw #ebb
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Wednesday night. No letter to answer yet! Naughty man! as some one of Mr. Richardson's heroines is wont to say—Naughty Man!—which was it used to say so? Miss Howe? or Lady G? I can't remember—but the word is a good one—& seems made on purpose to be applied to the very best correspondent in the world—the best letter writer I mean—when he takes a fit of laziness & Lotos his pen—Naughty Man—have you read the last that is third Volume of Nicholl's Literary History of the last Cent[gap: reason: torn.][ury]—I am reading it now—not finished—but very much amused especially with the Hardinge Part of the Miscellany—That Mrs. George Hardinge seems to have been a singularly strange character for a eminent judge—a Boswellish sort of a person—full of good humour & animal spirits & self importance & vanity & flattery & vivacious detail—a sort of person to jump & sing when other men would walk & talk—some of his letters very very entertaining indeed particularly the letters Royal. The account of the Duke of Kent's establishment at Castle Hill is the best & most amusing way of accounting for his debts that I have met with—I had a very high opinion of the Duke of Kent & I am really quite sorry (as sorry as one can be for a thing one laughs at) to find him guilty of so much solemn frivolity.—You will guess that I mean to recommend Mr. Nicholl's Melange—so I do—with much skipping will bepage 6
understood—for just now I am stranded amongst a shoal of^the illustrious —dull acquaintances ^& such small dogs whose own trumpery letters are become Antiques—deuce take the Good Bodies—they hurt me not for I skip—The book is a good book notwithstanding—there is a delicious little bit of Lord Stanhope's charming madness—& a good deal of Bishop Watson's matchless egotism—& one or two morsels of Horace Walpole. By the bye have you read his letters to Mr. Montagu & Mrs. Cole?—Good bye—I remember I promised you to talk no more of books this time—but you are used to my breach of promise in this way—& mind it no mo[gap: reason: torn.][re] than an eel does skinning—This letter looks prodigiously like the literary article in some third rate magazine—the article called notices of new publications stuck in the midst of deaths, thunderstorms, & [del: .] patients lately enrolled.—forgive the fine stitched double nonsense a literary air.—I say this because I am sure you will think it—Adieu—I hope all your family are well & Miss Welsford proceeding in her case—God bless you.

I took off the seal for fear of weight. The way it got so dirty & crumpled was travelling in Papa’s pocket—Pray excuse it—