24 June 2014

Lady Hester's Melancholy

One day in December 1815, Lady Hester Stanhope's physician Dr. Charles Meryon recorded her Ladyship's melancholy over the days of her youth:

“I reading the Absentee (one of Mrs Edgeworth’s fashionable tales) to Lady H[ester]. In it (somewhere about the XVIth chapter) mention is made of home, of the paternal roof, etc. She seemed to recollect past times, and the tears came frequently into her eyes. It was indeed a scene for reflection, to see on a wooden bedstead (something like those in an English barrack) without curtains, the grand daughter of the great Chatham lying sickly and in tears, with no relation, no old friend near her - with nobody but myself, who had first known her long after Mr. Pitt’s death, and one single English maid [Miss Elizabeth Williams, Lady Hester's close female friend] - to think that her high spirit, incapable of bearing the slights of persons she had once looked down upon, had driven her, from disgust, to foreign countries. When I looked at her, and considered what she had been, I was deeply touched, and the mournful sight she presented will not easily be effaced from my recollection.”


Dr. Charles Meryon's papers. The Wellcome Library, MS 5689, f. 168.

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