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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 26, 1819

Edited by Lisa M. Wilson.

Sponsored by:

First digital edition in TEI, date: August 2, 2017. P5.Edition made with help from photos taken by Digital Mitford editors. Digital Mitford photo files: P1020296.jpg, P1020297.jpg, P1020298.jpg, P1020299.jpg, P1020300.jpg, P1020301.jpg, P1020302.jpg, P1020303.jpg, P1020304.jpg, P1020305.jpg, P1020306.jpg, P1020307.jpg, P1020308.jpg, P1020309.jpg P1020320.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. 383

Four sheets of paper eight surfaces photographed. Folded in half vertically then in thirds horizontally. Address leaf bearing two black postmarks, partially illegible, reading:
PLYMOUTH
6 OC 6
1819 and RE [ADING]
Sheet (pages seven and eight) torn on right edge of page three where wax seal was removed. Red wax seal, complete, imprinted "Mary," complete, adhered to page eight.

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.
To Sir W. Elford 17 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(this pen won't write) Septr. 26th 1819.

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Our letters always cross, my dear Sir William that is certain—within half an hour after Mr. Maitland had taken my packet to frank, yours came to hand. You really do write in a vein more Walpolian than ever—that letter was charming—I shall some day or other make them into a book & make my fortune—of that you may be assured. First of all to answer your kind questions—I can’t tell where we go nor when—the matter though settled is not finished—there is no more Chancery suit that is certain—but the writings are not drawn, money not paid & so forth—& till then we shall remain here. The Where is even more uncertain than the When. I have not however any notion that we shall migrate far from this neighborhood & to tell you the truth am desperately afraid of the famous & patriotic Borough of ReadingReading, Berkshire, England | Reading | Berkshire | England | 51.4542645 -0.9781302999999753 | County town in Berkshire, in the Thames valley at the confluence of the Thames and the River Kennet. The town developed as a river port and in Mitford’s time served as a staging point on the Bath Road and was developing into a center of manufacturing. Mitford lived here with her parents from 1791 to 1795, on Coley Avenue in the parish of St. Mary’s and attended the Abbey School. The family returned to Reading from 1797 to about 1804, after which they relocated to Bertram House. They frequently visited Reading thereafter from their homes at nearby Bertram House, Three Mile Cross and Swallowfield. Mitford later used scenes from Reading as the basis for Belford Regis; or Sketches of a Country Town.--#lmw51.4542645 -0.9781302999999753 which PapaGeorge Mitford, Esq., or: George Midford | Born: 1760-11-15 in Hexham, Northumberland, England. Died: 1842-12-11 in Three Mile Cross, Shinfield, Berkshire, England.
George Mitford was born on November 15, 1760 in Hexham, Northumberland, the son of Francis Midford, surgeon, and Jane Graham. He was related to the Mitfords of Mitford Castle, Northumberland. In 1784, he was living in Alresford and is listed in a Hampshire directory as "surgeon (medicine)." Although later sources would claim that he was a graduate of the University of Edinburgh medical school, there is no evidence that he obtained a medical degree; his father and grandfather worked as surgeon-apothecaries and it seems likely that he served a medical apprenticeship with family members. He married Mary Russell on October 17, 1785 at New Alresford, Hampshire. On the marriage allegation papers, both gave their addresses as Old Alresford; they later came to live at Broad Street in New Alresford. Their only child to live to adulthood, Mary Russell Mitford, was born two years later on December 16, 1787 at New Alresford, Hampshire. George Mitford died on December 11, 1842 at Three Mile Cross in the parish of Shinfield, Berkshire. --#lmw
likes for its newspaper & its justice rooms & its elections, & which I dislike for various negative reasons—A Town of negations that ReadingReading, Berkshire, England | Reading | Berkshire | England | 51.4542645 -0.9781302999999753 | County town in Berkshire, in the Thames valley at the confluence of the Thames and the River Kennet. The town developed as a river port and in Mitford’s time served as a staging point on the Bath Road and was developing into a center of manufacturing. Mitford lived here with her parents from 1791 to 1795, on Coley Avenue in the parish of St. Mary’s and attended the Abbey School. The family returned to Reading from 1797 to about 1804, after which they relocated to Bertram House. They frequently visited Reading thereafter from their homes at nearby Bertram House, Three Mile Cross and Swallowfield. Mitford later used scenes from Reading as the basis for Belford Regis; or Sketches of a Country Town.--#lmw51.4542645 -0.9781302999999753 is—no trees no flowers, no green fields, no wit, no Literature, no elegance! neither the society of London nor the freedom of the country. We never say a word about it for or against—never mention the illustrious dull TownReading_city
County town in Berkshire, in the Thames valley at the confluence of the Thames and the River Kennet. The town developed as a river port and in Mitford’s time served as a staging point on the Bath Road and was developing into a center of manufacturing. Mitford lived here with her parents from 1791 to 1795, on Coley Avenue in the parish of St. Mary’s and attended the Abbey School. The family returned to Reading from 1797 to about 1804, after which they relocated to Bertram House. They frequently visited Reading thereafter from their homes at nearby Bertram House, Three Mile Cross and Swallowfield. Mitford later used scenes from Reading as the basis for Belford Regis; or Sketches of a Country Town.--#lmw
—but I expect that some fine morning Papa will come back & have taken a house there—& my only comfort is that I fore-know that after a little grumbling & pining at the transplantation (Dear me I was first going to write transportation—I beg Botany Bay's pardon) after a little shrivelling & withering just at first I shall settle in the new earth, put out fresh leaves & be as sound at heart as a transplanted cabbage or any other housewifely vegetable.—The middle course & that I believe to which my dear Mama inclines is a Cottage within a walk of Reading whichpage 2
if such a thing could be procured I should like exceedingly—that would suit us all. Wherever we go you shall hear all about it—never I hope out of your way, my dear Sir William—It would be too much to lose at once our friends & our nightingales—& at or near Reading we shall be more in your road than ever.

So you do not like Mr. Crabbe! Neither, to speak of his ^poems en masse, do I. But there are passages in [del: .]several of them both of humour & pathos that are I think very fine & the finishing of some of his pictures particularly the Interiors is [del: .] unrivalled. I do not quite agree with you respecting his versification there is too much antithesis—too much point—his poems are often only a series of couplets—but that in this last publication is a good deal done away with—there are many passages of which the flow is exceedingly grand & sweeping & some triplets that are absolutely Drydenish. The general tone is of course low & subdued as in so long a poem it must of necessity be—there was however no sort of necessity for its being so long & that in reality is Mr. Crabbe's Cardinal Sin.—As to Mazeppa I have nothing more to say—It is a spirited sketchy thing, but not worth disputing about. I was never you know one of Lord Byron's Idolaters & I certainly am not going to begin now.—I have just seen your fair enemy Mrs. D ickinson who takes your complimentary criticism in very good part & returns you your message that you are a charming man & a very persevering & able advocate in a bad cause. So far so good. I must tell you a piece of news respecting the dear Mrs. D ickinson, after eleven years marriage without any such prospect she is now in the family way. Nothing can be so delightful as this circumstance there is a large estate entailed either upon son or daughter which in failure of issue would have come to a lubberly half nephew of Mr. Dickinson's—a man who after marrying one of his Father's maid servants & living with her a week ran away with the other maid servant with whom he has lived ever since. Mr. D. is as you may imagine enchanted page 3
with this prospect & so is she.

A friend of ours has been spending a day or two with us this week & brought with her a lady most astonishingly like you. I never saw so striking a likeness of feature complexion countenance & expression—the likeness extended even to voice & manner—she talked like you & looked like you—& was just as good & kind to me as you are. I took to her amazingly & asked her a dozen times if she really was You or herself. She insisted that she was herself—& I believe her the rather because I think the real you would in petticoats have looked larger & taller. In fact she is much the same size for a woman that you are for a man—& then I enquired if she was no relation no sister or cousin—but she says she is not—& has not even the honour of your acquaintance—Her name is Greenwell & she lives in London—of course she is very pleasant & very pleasant looking—cela sans dire[2] Loosely translates as: "It goes without saying."—#ssc Should not you like to see her?

I have not seen the Welsh Mountaineers—but your [del: .]account of the book is exactly to my taste—I care nothing for story & all for character—I have set afoot a general searching & begging system for this novel (Which they have not got in Reading—stupid place!) & do not doubt of seeing it before I write again. In the mean time I am going to read a book by the same Author I believe (Is not the Welch Mountaineers written by Catherine Hutton)(I beg you to observe [del: .]how carefully not knowing the true orthography I have spelt Welch, Welsh in one place Welch in another & Wel*sc*h (in a happy betweenity—a sort of compound letter) in the third) (I flatter myself that this congeries of parentheses outdoes your outdoings in that way) called the Miser Married—which when I have read I shall tell you all about—

Oh you are greatly mistaken when you think me a Huntite—I think one of the worst consequences of this sad affair at Manchester was bringing out the unsuspected good qualities of that vulgar & dangerouspage 4
Demagogue. His acuteness, presence of mind, & moral courage so contrary to the general opinion of his cowardice, have given him a temporary popularity which doubtless his impudence & his astonishing talent for grovelling will soon overset—but at present it certainly does exist in an alarming degree—& that it exists at all is solely owing to the rash & unadvised conduct of the Magistrates & yeomanry—who acted as it seems to me with all the hasty cruelty of Fear. This is my Manchester creed—What is yours? I do not doubt your lamenting as much as I do the victims on both sides.

I am not going to make any speech about your illness—though I must say that I hope it has not returned (you'll let me do that I am sure). Mama has a follow feeling for you—having been a sufferer from the same cause this summer—She is quite well now.—Good night my dear Sir William—It is bed time & I find that I have made fifty mistakes which I know you will forgive—Anybody in the world but myself would be ashamed to send you such interlined scrawls—but I am incorrigible  & you spoil me. Good night—God bless you!—

Monday Sept. 27. (see how I improve) What you say of Hamlet agrees perfectly with my feelings—though it is a thing you know that one scarcely dares to say. I remember the observation in Mr. Northcote's Life of Sir Joshua—& remember thinking at the time that Mr. Fox's objection to Hamlet probably arose from the very different treatment of a nearly similar story in his favorite Greek Dramatists—the Orestes however cruel & barbarous is certainly a much more dramatic personage than the Hamlet—& again I must confess that in spite of the admirable writing of great part of the play & the inimitable effect of the opening of which the preparation, the familiarity, the awefulness, the art or the artlessness, seem to me unrivalled even in Shakespeare, in spite of all this Hamlet is no favorite of mine. This is a terrible heresy—but with Mr. Fox & Sir William Elford page 5
to keep me in countenance heresy begins to look like reformation. And to tell the truth I am not sure that one reason of my dislike for the play is not the stupendous quantity of eloquent nonsense that has been written in praise of it. That character cannot be very clearly defined of which every critic offers a fresh explanation—& how Warburton to Schlegel every body who talks of Hamlet has some new theory to produce & some old one to overset—The German writers in particular & that Germanized French woman Madame de Staël talk "about it & about it" till one is sick of the very name. Now good bye again till I can hear of an M.P. & have read The Miser Married—which will be the text for a fresh sermon. Good bye my dear Friend.

October 2nd No—no sermon on that text—the novel is a sprightly amusing thing enough, but not [del: .][good enough]sufficiently good to pull to pieces—You know they are only beauties that one examines feature by feature, & roses & carnations that one picks leaf by leaf—Daisies & [del: .] ugly faces escape untouched. After all there is some talent in it—as much perhaps of the germ of talent as there was in Miss Austen's Sense & Sensibility—if the next resemble Pride & Prejudice what can be wished for more. The Miser Married is Miss Hutton's first production & was written 5 years ago. You see I proceed on the supposition that Miss Hutton is the Authoress of the Welsh Mountaineers though I have only a vague recollection of an advertisement in the newspaper. Tell me if I am right. I have likewise been reading the last Edinburgh Review & find there a disquisition on Mr. Crabbe's Poetry which might have spared you the trouble of reading any of my trash on the same subject—It is written in Jeffrey's very best style—full of subtility & eloquence—more poetical even than his subject & possessing every power page 6
 (skip this page & go on to the next) [3] insert this when I or carry Mark on the other page.—#penAnnotRCL From Mr. Wordsworth's Poem on the Yew Trees But worthier still of note Are those fraternal Four of Borrowdale Joined in one solmen & capacious grove. Huge trunks! & each particular trunk a growth Of intertwisted fibres serpentine Upcoiling & inveterately convolved,— Not uninformed with phantasy & Looks That threaten the prophase, a pillared shade Upon whose grassless floor of red brown hue By sheddings from the final umbrage tinged Perennially, beneath whose sable roof Of boughs, as if for festal purpose decked With unrejoicing berries, ghostly shapes May meet at noontide; Fear & trembling Hope, Silence & Foresight, Death the Skeleton And Time the shadow; there to celebrate As in a natural temple scattered o'er With altars undistrubed of mossy store United worship; or in mute repose To lie & listen to the mountain flood Murmuring from Glenamara's inmost Cave.

If you admire nothing else in this extract you will admire (in the old sense of wonder) as my pretty schoolgirl's writing my vs. & ks & ms. Which are generally all alike, now blazoned as the herald's bay with a difference.—Oh if any body had told me I should ever mind my ps & qs—how I should have laughed at them!—I hope you won't take a fancy to me desire me always to write legibly.—

except the power is a greater degree than that of communicating to his readers the enthusiasm that he professes to feel. Mr. Jeffrey's admiration may be very sincere—it is certainly not contagious—He is a much greater "Puller down" than "Setter up" & knows better how to depress Mr. Wordsworth than to elevate Mr. Crabbe. A matchless writer after all is Mr. Jeffrey—& the Review which I have thought languishing lately seems regaining some of its old vivacity in this number—particularly in the articles on Botany Bay & Buonaparte. (I hope you won't be wicked enough to think this juxtaposition betokens any failure of allegiance to the Emperor of my affections—whom I admire more than ever from some of the tracts brought against him—especially that one of tossing the books he did not like out of his carriage windows—don't you?)—Apropos to Mr. Jeffrey and Mr. Wordsworth—I want you to read one fair specimen of the great Laker.—& I think his best chance is to be put in the shape of a long Parenthesis (a thing which you & I both like you know) into my letter. There's vanity for you! I have chosen the Yew Trees because I think it exceedingly opposite to your notion of Mr. Wordsworth's writing & likewise (to be perfectly fair on my side) because I think the lives the finest he ever wrote—but in the whole range of English poetry it would be difficult to find any finer —The long words will remind you of Milton as well as the structure of the verse, but—(pray don't tell)—I have sometimes thought Milton's long crabbed words just for the sake of their length & their out-of-the-way-ness—Now Wordsworth's could [del: .] not be supplied by any other—It is a perfect picture & no other colours could have given the effect—The truth of the touch is quite inimitable—& so are the magnificent personifications—Now do tell me what you think of them—Don't fancy I am going Wordsworth mad—I think just as you do of Mr. Wordsworth's system & of his vanity—but I think differently of page 7
his powers—so would you if you had ever read the last edition of the Lyrical ballads—& part of the Excursion & [del: .] the White Doe of Rylestone. Mind—I have not the slightest intention to recommend them to your Worship's perusal—I shall be quite content if you read the 20 lines I send you.—My dear dear friend I must make up my mind to pause & seal up my letter—It grows like a snowball & if I do not fling it forthwith at your unlucky pate, it will turn into an Avalanche & crush you with its weight.—fare well my dear Sir William—Best & kindest & most patient of Correspondents farewell!—Papa & Mama send their best regards—

Ever most affectionately your's. Pray write soon—that is my last word—write soon!) 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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ReadingReading, Berkshire, England | Reading | Berkshire | England | 51.4542645 -0.9781302999999753 | County town in Berkshire, in the Thames valley at the confluence of the Thames and the River Kennet. The town developed as a river port and in Mitford’s time served as a staging point on the Bath Road and was developing into a center of manufacturing. Mitford lived here with her parents from 1791 to 1795, on Coley Avenue in the parish of St. Mary’s and attended the Abbey School. The family returned to Reading from 1797 to about 1804, after which they relocated to Bertram House. They frequently visited Reading thereafter from their homes at nearby Bertram House, Three Mile Cross and Swallowfield. Mitford later used scenes from Reading as the basis for Belford Regis; or Sketches of a Country Town.--#lmw51.4542645 -0.9781302999999753 October 4 1819

Sir W. Elford BtWilliam 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
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BickhamBickham, Somerset, England | Bickham | Somerset | England | 51.163534 -3.506621999999993 | Hamlet near Plymouth, and residence of Sir William Elford, who lived there until the failure of his finances in 1825 forced him eventually to sell his family’s estate. He sold his property in Bickham in 1831 and moved to The Priory, in Totnes, Devon the house of his daughter (Elizabeth) and son-in-law.--#ebb #lmw51.163534 -3.506621999999993

Plymouth