candlestick

July-December 1858


The Collected Letters, Volume 34


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JWC TO TC ; 12 July 1858; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18580712-JWC-TC-02; CL 34: 37-40


JWC TO TC

NOTES OF A STILL-SITTER 1

Monday night [12 July 1858]

I have sent for a penny Telegraph (Today's) in which there is a long account of Lady Bulwer's incarceration.2 Meanwhile here is what I already know of this scandal.

Lady B, true to her oath that she “would oppose “Sir Liar, Coward” at every step “of his carrer”3rendered herself, escorted by her Taunton Landlady,4 at Hertford, the evening before his Election.5 For that night she kept her self incognita. But the Town was astonished in the morning, at seeing itself placarded all over with insults to Bulwer.

In his absence (for he did not arrive till the business of the day commenced) his son, Robert Lytton,6 never dreaming who had done this thing, employed people to rush about and tear the placards down. Meanwhile Lady B presented herself at the house of the Mayor,7 and demanded as a British subject to hire the Town Hall—therein to deliver a Lecture on her Husband! The Mayor horribly perplexed refused to see her; sent his wife to her to—offer her a glass of wine! which her Ladyship politely declined, saying that if anything but water passed her lips that day, her Husband would call her drunk. She then made her way—to the Hustings. Sir Liar had meantime arrived and seated himself on the platform.8 Mercifully for him, his wife was under the impression that it was at the Town Hall he would show himself If she had known he was so near her, and got her eye on him, I dont doubt but she would have taken him up and shaken him, as the Taylors'9 dog did to Nero.

The Son was also on the platform; hearing a sort of disturbance, he looked in the direction of it, and saw a prodigiously large woman, dressed entirely in white, with a white parasol, talking to the people about her. He turned away without a suspicion that the white phenomenon concerned him! But again his attention was drawn to it by increased commotion; and he noticed at the same time a group of Gentlemen talking very gravely among themselves, and looking from the white figure to his Father, and from his Father to the white figure! And then at last the idea struck him “like a pistol shot” “it is my Mother”!—(This was his own account to Mrs Forster).10 He asked, and was told, even so! Thinking of nothing but to save his Father from a collision “which would have killed him”—(I dont doubt) Robert Lytton ran to his Father and taking him by the arm said “Lady Bulwer is here”—Sir Liar needed to have this repeated three times before he heard—(so deaf he is!) and when he did hear he fancied the Lady Bulwer meant was his sister-in-law, and answered “How very kind of Georgina to come!”11— Robert Lytton desperate then, seeing the white figure approaching nearer and nearer screamed into his ear; “Your Wife is here”—Sir Liar “staggered, turned as white as a sheet—cast one wild look at his wife—and—“rushed down the companion ladder”!—(the platform steps) near the bottom of which, by the kind foresight of somebody, his carriage and servants stood ready! He “jumped in—fell back almost fainting”—and was gallopped back to Knebworth12—leaving his friends to speak for him!—Dont you think The Lady had the best of the day here?—

I have only heard two quotations from her address to the crowd—and neither of them indicates insanity, I should say—the very reverse! “Colonies”! she said—“Yes—that is the thing for him. He would have been sent to the Colonies years ago if people got their rights”!13 And this was her description of Sir Liar's personal appearance “The head of a ram on the body of a monkey”; There is a report that he inveigled her up to London by the offer of “an amicable arrangement” and increased income—and then handed her over to a mad doctor—instead of a Solicitor!— Forster (who was here again with wife today) contradicts this—to the whole extent at least. But even as he had it, the case looked very bad against Bulwer.14

The Forster's came with new invitation to dine— “Impossible for the present—still a great deal of cold” “I see I see—(taking my hand) great God!—how feverish you still are!—but come now! do settle some thing for next week!—say you will dine with us dearest Mrs Carlyle!”—

In the course of his gesticulations he made his feet bang about. And Charlotte rushed in, rather terrified looking, and said “please Mam, did you knock?”— “No”—said Forster turning to her with majesty—“that was only my energy!”

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Tuesday [13 July 1858]

A bad night Dear! and this morning I have been put in a rage—the first thing after your letter—Bramah's account came along with it, and imagine the cipher! £5.7.6!!!15 I have just written to say I never will pay that account!

It is a dull damp day threatening a deluge of rain— my head aches— Who is Dr Hay Thompson? that is not Dr Carlyle's Friend?16 I dont think his reputation will be increased by his conduct in Bulwers business,— Three Taylors!17 good god! It is like something in the Nibelungenlied!18

Yours ever /

JWC