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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
, January 3, 1822

Edited by Lisa M. Wilson.

Sponsored by:

First digital edition in TEI, date: February 6, 2019. P5.Edition made with help from photos taken by Digital Mitford editors. Digital Mitford photo files: .

Published by: Digital Mitford: The Mary Russell Mitford Archive, : 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. xxx

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. Setting up template.
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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 Jany. 3rd 1822.

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This is the first real absolute letter (notes that are dated Tuesday morning & Wednesday Evening & and so forth don't count in this case) the first genuine letter that I have set down to write in 1822 & it shall be addressed to one of the kindest & best of my Correspondents. Your very long & delightful letter gives the best possible proof of life & spirits, & I assure you, my dear Sir WilliamWilliam 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
, it is quite a consolation to think of a dear friend who is well & happy. This singularly mild & unhealthy season has been fatal to [del: .] many of my oldest & most valued connexions—In three weeks I have to condole with three correspondents on the death of a father or a Mother—my kindest & most partial friend Mr. Perry being one of them—Well I will not sadden you by talking of sad things

so you have a real fancy to see my Puff—I have the strongest possible inclination to gratify you & if I can by coaxing, scolding, stealing or otherways procure a Reading paper of that week you shall have it. My own copy I have been swindled out of in a very atrocious manner—But I certainly will get one for you if I can, because I should like you to see Mr. TalfourdThomas Noon Talfourd | Born: 1795-05-26 in Reading, Berkshire, England. Died: 1854-03-13 in Stafford, Staffordshire, England.
Close friend, literary mentor, and frequent correspondent of Mary Russell Mitford. A native of Reading, Talfourd was educated at the Reading’s newly-established Mill Hill school, a dissenting academy, from 1808 to 1810. He attended Dr. Richard Valpy’s Reading School from 1810 to 1812. His career in law began with a legal apprenticeship with Joseph Christy, special pleader, in 1817. He was called to the bar in London in 1821 and ultimately earned a D.C.L. (Doctor of Civil Laws) from Oxford on June 20, 1844. While establishing his practice as a barrister and special pleader, he worked as legal correspondent for The Times, reporting on the Oxford Circuit, and also continued his literary interests. After 1833, he was appointed Serjeant at Law, as well as a King’s and Queen’s Counsel. He was elected and served as Member of Parliament for Reading from 1835 to 1841 and from 1847 to 1849 ; he served with Charles Fyshe Palmer, Charles Russell, and Francis Piggott. Highlights of his political and legal career included introducing the first copyright bill into Parliament in 1837 (for which action Charles Dickens dedicated Pickwick Papers to him) and defending Edward Moxon’s publication of Percy Shelley’s Queen Mab in 1841 . He was appointed Queen’s Serjeant in 1846 and Judge of Common Pleas in 1849 , at which post he served until his death in 1854. He was knighted in 1850 . Talfourd’s literary works include his plays Ion (1835), The Athenian Captive (1837) and Glencoe, or the Fate of the MacDonalds(1839). --#lmw #cmm #ebb
's Epilogue which is capital in one way, & my critique which is no less famous in another—I think you cannot fail to be amused at the very grave face & begowned & bewigged dignity which I [del: .]put on for the occasion—You have no notion what an easy thing it is to seem learned.—As to my own Play—what part of my Tragi-comical distresses did I tell you? Where were we in that equally doleful & comical history? Had I told you that the Play was written under advicepage 2
which seemed excellent for three principal characters—Young Young Mr. Young
Doctor from Reading. More research needed. --#scw #lmw
Charles KembleCharles Kemble | Born: 1775-11-25 in Brecon, South Wales. Died: 1854-11-12 in Savile Row, London.
Member of a renowned family of actors, Charles Kemble was the younger brother of John Kemble, and performed with him in Shakespearian roles in the 1790s and was especially known for his role as Hamlet beginning in 1803 and frequently repeated in subsequent decades. He often adapted plays for production from other authors, and though most were not successful on the stage, his farce on Cervantes, Plot and Counterplot, or, The Portrait of Michel Cervantes, which he adapted from a French play by Joseph-Marie-Armand-Michel Dieulafoi , did well at Haymarket Theatre in 1808 . His long-running theatrical career kept him acting regularly from the 1790s into the 1830s on stages on both sides of the Atlantic from London to New York.--#ebb
& MacreadyWilliam Macready
English actor (1793-1873) Born London, died Cheltenham. Appeared at Covent Garden and Drury Lane. Appeared in Sheridan Knowles’s William Tell (1825) and Bulwer-Lytton’s Money (1840) --#lmw
—that Charles KembleCharles Kemble | Born: 1775-11-25 in Brecon, South Wales. Died: 1854-11-12 in Savile Row, London.
Member of a renowned family of actors, Charles Kemble was the younger brother of John Kemble, and performed with him in Shakespearian roles in the 1790s and was especially known for his role as Hamlet beginning in 1803 and frequently repeated in subsequent decades. He often adapted plays for production from other authors, and though most were not successful on the stage, his farce on Cervantes, Plot and Counterplot, or, The Portrait of Michel Cervantes, which he adapted from a French play by Joseph-Marie-Armand-Michel Dieulafoi , did well at Haymarket Theatre in 1808 . His long-running theatrical career kept him acting regularly from the 1790s into the 1830s on stages on both sides of the Atlantic from London to New York.--#ebb
from disgust at the other two had seceded, ^from the Theatre, & that in consequence of alterations suggested by Mr. Macready Mr. Young's character had become too unimportant for a man of his dignity—in the language of a Charade my second had quarreled with my first & my third affronted my second & extinguished[del: .]my first. The consequence of all this was easy to foresee—the play was presented to Mr. Harris, & after a great deal of hesitation rejected in terms of such praise & admiration, as would have satisfied any Author who wrote from Vanity—Mr. Macready says for my consolation that no refusal was ever so much like an acceptance—that Mr. Harris actually prefers it to a Tragedy which he has taken—& that, in short, it has been refused merely because the state of the performers is such that it could not be acted with a fair chance of success. This is you see very poor consolation—Indeed I am not sure whether to have come so very near the mark is not more provoking than to have utterly failed—One comfort however there is—This Play has certainly cleared the way for most respectful attention to any piece that I may send in hereafter—And I have accordingly already begun Tragedy on a story purely imaginative which I intend to write without any respect for ^the Mr. Young's or the Charles Kembles, with one leading character for Mr. Macready & a number of inferior ones which may be filled up my any walking Gentleman—walking sticks they might call them—which the Theatre may happen to have in pay. Don't you think I am very bold & persevering? Pray praise me—& pity me—I am forced to pity myself sometimes or I should never get on at all—I have entirely lost the fluency which I used to possess ten years page 3
ago & write with a difficulty a labour a fastidiousness that seem almost incredible—besides ? every thing ? —nothing but the certain conviction that I should fail hinders me Washington IrvingWashington Irving, or: Geoffrey Crayon | Born: 1783-04-03 in New York City, New York, USA. Died: 1859-11-28 in Sunnyside, Tarrytown, New York, USA.
--
from trying a Comedy. Mr. Talfourd says I should succeed—but I cannot think so—I will at all events try another Tragedy first.

Have you read the Pirate? And do you like it? I think you will say no to both questions—you have not probably yet had time to read it—& you have heard enough of the story to be pretty sure that you shall not like it. I don't at all. There is a great deal too much about Zetland superstitions & Zetland manners, & Zetland revelry—& there is an old witch who would of herself be enough to spoil the finest thing that ever was written. What a fancy the great Unknown has for a witch! I verily believe this Norna is the 9th or 10th of that species which he has produced—& of all of them she is the worst, by far the worst—he has given her a poem in prose to recite after the fashion of Ossian, Chateaubriand & those sort of people—& there is such a quantity of her too! Altogether The Pirate is perhaps nearly on a par with the later works—for there has been nothing very great since Ivanhoe (notwithstanding the beauty of one or two scenes in the Monastery)—nothing like the Antiquary & Waverley & Guy Mannering & Old Mortality— the Antiquary being to my taste the one & unrivalled of them all. (By the bye in an article which ? strangely at ? purposes of the scotch hovels in the last ? ? Oldbuck & Pleydell & the high comic character called the "fool" & "the Rose"—What manner of taste call you this?) —One of the best things in the Pirate is some excellent raillery on the subject of breeding clubs & ?—& the best one seems to be that where Mrs. ? produces her boiled goose page 4
to feast ? ? but then the witch comes in—& there's an end on(?)—as ?? would say—I thoroughly agree wtih you, for your reasons & others, as to the certainty of the books being written by Sir W. Scott, & thank you very much for your transcript ??'s charming anecdote.

yes the second Vol. of the sketch book is certainly a little Americanish —a little heavy—a little mawkish—& very ? & unfaithful in his English details—Mr. Washington Irving is excellent in humour, & in old dutch Colonists & other American diversities—but he must not meddle with [del: .] us proud English—I wish he would give an American novel with all the peculiarities the vulgarities & the affectations of that ridiculous country. We have a fine specimen of New York manners close by—a rich friend of ours was taken in by Mr. Birkbeck's fine plausible lies (there's a glorious illustration of my system for you—that book of Birkbeck's seemed as true as Robinson Crusoe!) & intending to embark some 20 or 40,000(?) in the Illinois, sent out a son of seventeen to reconnoitre. Mr. Fearon's fine antidote & other accounts soon determined him to keep his money in England—but the son staid on—not in the Illinois that disagreed with him—but in New York—& is only lately returned—a very good sort of young man I believe, but the most complete transatlantic coxcomb that ever eyes beheld. He is somenm, smooth & smirking—smiling like Malvolio though not like him cross gartered—superficial as a newspaper or a review talking in a strange outlandish jargon half of it too fine for common wear & half too [del: .] —a mixture of tissue & ? cloth—? gallant** to a distressing degree—he never sees you seated but he cants an ottoman under your feet, or standing, or walking but he claps a chair down behind you—so that the singer at a piano sometimes finds herself blockaded by a double row of [del: .] seats— [del: .] His cloakings & shawlings are worse than any cold & he walks in a dancing step. page 5
Jany. 9th 1822 I have at last succeeded in borrowing a Reading paper—but as I could only get it on promising to return it I must give you the trouble to send it back to me when you ? have read it. you will find mention made of a little boy of the name of Richardson who performed a part in the Chorus , ?? , & the Epilogue— I never saw in my life so much promise of dramatic talent— talk of the Young Rosuies ? ! Look at little Richardson— he is the son of ? master at Reading; who on this occasion signed in the ?, & really one of the most delightful facts of the evening was to watch the poor dancing master's fear of joy which followed every look sword & movement of this lovely boy—I have just been reading Lord ByronGeorge Gordon Noel Byron, sixth Baron Byron | Born: 1788-01-22 in Holles Street, London. Died: 1824-04-19 in Missolonghi, Greece.
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's Plays—The Two Foscari of course was the first object with me—but he has taken up the business just where I left it off, so that it does not at all clash with mine. The Dog [gap: 1 chars, reason: torn.][?] is well executed I think—but young Foscari notwithstanding [gap: 1 ?, reason: torn.][?] good speeches is utterly imbecile—an ultra sentimentalist [gap: 1 ?, reason: torn.][?] clings no one knows why or ? with a love like dotage to the country which has disgraced & exiled & tortured & finishes by killing him—& his wife Marina is a mere scold. Both that & Sardanapalus are miserably wise drawn & spun out—one is really quite tired in reading them. Cain is of a higher strain—& yet though there is nothing in it bolder than Milton John Milton | Born: 1608-12-09. Died: 1674-11-08.
English poet and essayist, best known for his epic poem Paradise Lost (1667).--#esh
has put into the mouth of his Satan one is s[gap: 1 chars, reason: torn.][om]ehow shocked at Lucifer's speeches ^in Cain which never happens in Paradise LostParadise Lost. John Milton. 1667. . The impression is different— I don't know why but it is so. Altogether it seems to me that Lord ByronGeorge Gordon Noel Byron, sixth Baron Byron | Born: 1788-01-22 in Holles Street, London. Died: 1824-04-19 in Missolonghi, Greece.
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must be by this time pretty well convinced that the Drama is not his forte—he has no spirit of dialogue—no beauty in his groupings—none of that fine mixture of the probable with the unexpected which constitutes stage effect in [del: .] the best sense of the word—& a long series of laboured speeches & page 6
set antitheses will very ill compensate for the want of that excellence which we find in Sophocles & in Shakespeare & which you will call nature & I shall call Art—Pray do you ever paint animals? We have a Greyhound called May-Flower of excellency grace & ? symmetry—just of the colour of the May blossom—like marble with the sun upon it—& she kills every hare she sees takes them up in the middle of the back & brings them in her mouth to my father & lays them down at his feet—I assure you she is quite a study whilst bringing the hares—the fine contrast of colour—her beautiful position, head & tail up & her long neck arched like that of a swan—with the [del: .] shade shifting upon her beautiful limbs & her black eyes really emitting light. I wish you could see May Flower. Farewell my dear friend—

I have only room to say how much I am always yours
M. R. Mitford

& is an ampersand

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Mary 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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