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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
, July 5, 1820

Edited by Lisa M. Wilson.

Sponsored by:

First digital edition in TEI, date: 2017-10-18. P5.Edition made with help from photos taken by Digital Mitford editors. Digital Mitford photo files: P1020402.jpg, P1020403.jpg, P1020404.jpg, P1020405.jpg, P1020406.jpg, P1020407.jpg, P1020408.jpg, P1020409.jpg, P1020410.jpg, P1020411.jpg, P1020412.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.--#ghb

Digital Mitford Letters: The Mary Russell Mitford Archive

Repository: Reading Central Library. Shelf mark: qB/TU/MIT Vol. 4 Horizon No.: 1361550 ff. 408

One and a half sheets of paper four surfaces photographed. Paper measure 23.2 cm high. Full sheet folded in half with half sheet inserted between, then packet folded in thirds for sealing. Address leaf bearing black postmark, partially illegible, reading
. Sheet (pages five and six) torn on right edge of page five where wax seal was removed. Red wax seal, complete, adhered to page six. Square impress visible.

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 Three Mile CrossThree Mile Cross, Berkshire, England | Three Mile Cross | Berkshire | England | 51.4047211 -0.9734518999999864 | Village in the parish of Shinfield in Berkshire, where Mary Russell Mitford moved with her parents in 1820. They lived in a cottage there until 1851. --#ebb51.4047211 -0.9734518999999864 July 5th 1820. 12

Your most kind & delightful letter, my dear Sir William met me on my return from an unexpeected & very pleasant excursion—I  returnedcame homeyesterday from passing 3 days in London & four at Richmond—going up in the atmosphere of Calcutta & coming back in that of Greenland—but equally well & enjoying myself as much in one as in the other. This is a vaunt of the very first magnitnde—but greatly am proud of my health—because when my size is considered I think it a curiosity.—All this time was spent in seeing sights—The Exhibition where I had the honor of paying my respects to your very pretty landscape. It has a great charm to me in its originality—There was some courage in laying those enclosures before one like a map that & the success has amply repaid the daring. By the bye the Exhibition gets worse & worse. Nothing but dull faces.—To be sure Wilkie & Chantrey & Turner are well worth looking at—& I have great delight in gazing on the kindest the Niobe train in that room where nobody [del: .] goes but else to be a rational thing the Royal Academy seems to want the infusion of a little fresh blood.—(Have you seen an head of Scott, which have Chantrey has just finished? The only successful likeness that has been taken of that most difficult & uncatchable countenance) The British Gallery—Oh what a treat! I thought I should never be able to get away—I will not begin to praise those protraits of great people by great Masters for fear my letter should be able to exclamation—all notes of admiration—a sort of Catalogue de raisonné which would be the least edifying possible. Did you see this charming Collection? The thing I cannot help saying—set me right if I am wrong—Reynolds does not seem to me to bear the of Vandykepage 1
—there is a want—I don't know where—but I feel it—the curious thing in the collection is that incomparably the two ugliest portraits are those of Jane Shore & Mary Queen of Scots—The state of Art at the time accounts for the first & besides no Painter on earth could ever have been able to give the style of beauty implied by Shakespear's loveliest of all lovely sketches—"A pretty goot, a cherry lip, a passing pleasing,tongue"—but that they did not get the Bodleian Mary is quite astonishing especially as they had portraits from Oxford. To be sure where was not much to be expected from a set of Directors who affronted Sir W. W. Wynne by refusing to put in Ramsay's bad but interesting picture of Prince Charles Edward under any other name than that of the Pretender—Was not this a prodigious want of commonsense in the year 1820 when there is nothing like a Stuart left? Princess Charlotte's Cenotaph—Did you see that? Great want of Common sense there too—Common sense a very rare gift! To think of that marble soul flying away from that marble body! Two Princess Charlotte's—one lying—the other in the air! To think of that in all the tangibility of solid marble—where nothing like illustion can be maintained really makes one stare again—It's a pity, for there is much prettiness if there were anything real or possible—What a different affair Chantrey would have made of it!—4 Miss Kelly's acting—for one say's nothing of the rest of the tribe—what a charming creature she is—so perfectly true so fancy, so so sulky, so jaunty—so fine a compound of all the good & evil of a lady's maid—She deserved to live in Colley Cibber's days & that he should have written an account of her.—% Haydon's Picture s—You won't say what you think on that subject—But you may very safely—I shan't tell him—I never shew your letters my dear Sir William, & as to saying any thing in the way of blame to that worthy & delightful personage I never do—because I know he can't bear it. Goodness me! He I knock down with a look.—Seriously, do you like the head of Christ? This page 2
is the question every body asks—for about composition expression colouring there seems no doubt—but do you like the Head of Christ?—I did not at first—but it gained upon me though I still think it rather too large & too pale—& with too much glory about it—& too little of mere mortal beauty. Still the conception, the abstractedness the looking forward & inward, all this is very grand—very grand indeed.—He is now painting another great picture—the resurrection of Lazarus different from any of the many paintings on this subject. All the other pictures represent Lazarus as rising from a horizontal position—Mr. Haydon following the custom of Jerusalem where the tombs were excavations from the holoow in which he had been enclozed & throwing off the grave clothes at the Command of Christ "Lazarus Come forth!"—Nothing can be finer than the sketch which I have seen, it contains about 20 figures & will occupy I suppose nearly 2 years.—Mr. Haydon himself spent a day with the friends at whose house I was staying at Richmond—I never saw any one in such health & spirits—enjoying most honestly his well earned success.—These with some lesser sights, shopping, calling, & driving about to look at streets & Parks pretty well filled up my London days—three sighted I missed—Lord Grosvenor's Fathers of the Church by Rubens—(which I lost by going to Richmond the day before they were shewn)— the QueenQueen Caroline—& Mrs. Opie—that  prettyexcellent & ridiculous personage who is now placed in Bond Street (where she can't even hear herself talk) with a blue hat & feathers on her head—a low gown—without a tucker—& ringlets hanging down on each shoulder. These sights I lost but the first & the last I hope to see again—& the second I don't care if I never see at all—for be it known to you my dear Friend that I am no Queen's woman—whatever my party may be—I have no toleration for an indecorous woman—& I am exceedingly scandlized at the quantity of nonsense which has been talked in her defense. The less that is said on the subject the better—[del: .] It is no small part of her guiltpage 3
or her folly that her arrival has turned conversation into a charnel of scandal & detraaction on either side which if it continue threatens to infuse the taste the purity the moral character of the nation. Don't you agree with me? For my part I had [del: .]rather talk about Richmond. Do you know much of that Fairylnd which has so little to do with the work a day work & seems made for a holiday spot for ladies & gentlemen—a sort of realization of Watteau's pictures—The Hill is grown rather too leafy—too much like Glover's pictures—too green—it wants crags, as Canova says & really looked better when I saw it last in the winter—but the water & the banks are beyond all praise00The House where I was staying had a beautiful garden down to the river & there or on the water I quite lived. We went to see Pope's grotto—which is unchanged except in the addition of some china plates stuck about the wall—Strawberry Hill—which is likewise a sad China Shop, but where I walked about amongst the finery in a very pleasant reverie thinking of Horace  & of myWalpole & his Correspondents— Horace the Second—Hampton Court which I wonder to see so deserted. What a beautiful Palace! How can any body leave Hampton Court & live in the Pavilion! My enjoyment there was very perfect—The Cartoons which I had never see together before, though every one knows them by heart by copies & drawings & prints & seeing them by twos at the British Gallery—the Cartoons & Titian's Portrait of himself formed by great [del: .] delight.—Kew Palace—I was much gratified there too though in a very different way—The simplicity, the homeliness, the shabbiness even of that royal dwelling where there is nothing good but books & pictures formed a pleasing contrast to the common notion of courts—I am sure there is scarcely a Country gentleman of my acquaintance who would be content with such furniture—The most astonishing things in the Palace are a bust of the present Queen which one wonders not to see removed— & axportrait of himselfpage 4
 by Vandyke which I prefer even to the Titian. What a glorious race of beings those great Painters were! What spirit! What grace! What intellectual beauty! Where shall we find three such men as Titian Vandyke & Raphael?—You will think me picture mad—& really I do love pictures better than any thing else in the world except flowers & books & greyhounds, & fresh air—& old friends. I will only tell you two things more of paintings & have done. The one that Mr. Hofland is about a landscape, a gala day at Richmond which promises to be his best, combining that beautiful scenery with the out of door gaiety which is so rare in our climate & still rarer in our Art s—& that at an old house at Richmond they have rummaged out three pictures which had lain unsuspected in a garret for I don't know how many years—George the Second between  Queen Carolinehis Queen & Lady Suffolk—you have no idea of the interest they excited, not on their own account for they are bad or on the account royal but solely & purely because they revalled the ide of Jeanie Deans—What I admired most at Richmond was Lord Dysart's place—Did you see it ever? It is of the style of Charles the First or the Commonwealth—a bad style but so preserved so perfect, the keeping is so complete—there is the grand heavy stately quiet house, far from the water—screened by trees which keep off the light & glare—the ha ha which parts the court from the lawn the  heavy grated iron grate, though which one cn almost fancy Lovelace slipping a letter to Clarissa—the busts, the balconies, the terraces—the fountains the oldfashioned flower garden full of old fashioned flowers—trim pinks & old Cabbage roses—no new fangled flaunting Azelias or China roses—nothing that can counteract the gloom & the silence & the perfect repose. I know nothing at all of Lord Dysart but I honour him & his progenitors for resisting the temptation to alter & preserving so fine apage 5
specimen of the residence of our ancestors.—Well now I have done. My dear Sir William laud the Gods that there is no danger of my going to France or Italy, what would become of you if I were to take a journey of that sort when I cannot even make a trip to Richmond without inflicting on you my seeings & doings.—I heard very little literary news—Every body is talking of Marcian Colonna Barry Cornwall's new Poem—Now Barry Cornwall is an Alias. The Poet's real name is Proctor a young Attorney who feared it might hurt his practice if he were known to follow this "idel trade"—It has however become very generally known, & poor Mr. Proctor is terribly embarrassed with his false name—he neither knows how to keep it on or throw it off. By whattever appellation he chuses to be called he is a great Poet.—Poor John Keats is dying of the Quarterley Review—there is a sad silly thing but it is true. A young delicate imaginative boy that withering article fell upon him like an East wind—I am afraid he has no chance for recovery—Mr. Gifford's behaviour is very bad—He sent word that if he wrote again it would be properly reviewed which was admitting the falsity of the first critique & yet says that he has been Keats's besst friend because somebody sent him 20 £ tp console him for the injusstice of the Quarterly. I am very sorry for John Keats—he had a thousand faults & a million ^of beauties—& he is struck to the earth by the mere effect of worldly hardness & derision upon a tender heart & a sensitive temper. I am very sorry for John Keats.—Miss Porter is sick too of  theher condemned Plays—I have not much pity for her—Her disease is wounded vanity—an old Stager & an old dealer in magnanimity ought to know better. All my pity is for poor John Keats—Did you ever see his Endymion? It is thd easiest thing in the world to laugh at it—but there are passages which could hardly be equalled by any living Poet—And he was so young—so likely to improve—Are you not sorry for him?page 6
I met with a great curiosity whilst I was absent—a young lady trained up on the house & ;the steps of Mrs. Elizabeth Carter by her nephew the Revd. Montague Pennington the Godson of Mrs. Montagu (Does not the family of this name for a prig match with the names & dates of your American billet?) The young lady was nineteen in age—& ninety in manner—I never saw so complete a specimen of what one calls in Children "an old woman cut shorter"—always talking the Carter wisdom except when tempted to deviate into the Montagu wit—a very good sort of little body—but so tiresome that one yawned instinctively when she came into a room & felt as if ^a sheet of lead was removed from one's temples when she went out. I hope never to see another wise person as long as I live.

—Nothing rejoices me more than your account of Miss Walsford—the kind friend who tolerates my nonsense—Tell her or let her tell herself how glad I am to hear of her recovery.—A to your treachery with Lady Madelina. I have only say that I hope she is a good skipper—the most useful of all qualifications to a reader of my letters & a good Forgetter of nonsense—or how shall I ever be able to look her in the face?—My honour, which in spite of all my consciouness I cannot help anticipating with great pleasure. How much longer does she remain in your neighborhood? Does she talk of coming this year into ours?—I shall obey your interdiction—little right as you have to impose it—Nobody shall see your letters but Mama—they shall be locked up on a casket & talked of as something precious & unfindable—the Prester John or the Delai Lama—Adieu by dear Friend—Write to me very soon—Do not expect another letter first—this may very well stand for two—& I have emptied by reservoir—what can I have to say for a month to come!—Adieu by dear Friend—Kindest remembrances from Papa & Mama—

Ever most 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 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

Reading, July ten, 1820

Sr W Elford Bart



J. B. Monck