Tag Archive | Lady P

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Lady Pendleton (the eccentric aunt of Damian Ashby from the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa) is a time-traveling Regency lady who is currently enjoying the Little Season in 1813 London. She was introduced to Miss Jane Livingston at a ball, and being notoriously meddlesome, she corners Jane in the ladies’ retiring room and quizzes her unmercifully, as is her custom.

Lady P: I understand that your family resides in Oxfordshire, Miss Livingston. Are you related to the late Ruth Livingston, perhaps?

Jane [stiffly]: She was my mother, ma’am.

Lady P [with a nod]: Indeed, just as I thought. I knew her when she came out, as Ruth Marley, of course. I was newly married at the time, but I recall her being a most gracious young lady, and the match with young Livingston seemed unexceptional. [Cocking her head to the right] She wasn’t much in London over the years, was she?

Jane: She was more comfortable in country society. My father too. We did go to London occasionally, though. My brother and I loved to go to Astley’s Amphitheatre and the British Museum.

Lady P: Ah, you have a brother. Tell me about him.

Jane [swallowing back tears]: We’ve just received word that Andrew has been wounded at Roncesvalles, and will be returning home soon. We haven’t been notified as to the nature of his injury, but he is alive, and for that we are exceedingly grateful.

Lady P [taking Jane’s hands]: Oh my dear, I do apologize for distressing you. I had no idea. Here, take my handkerchief.

Jane [dabbing at her eyes]: Thank you, Lady Pendleton. You need not apologize; the news has only just reached us that Andrew is on his way back to us, accompanied by his comrade, a Mr. Bainbridge. We are anxious to see him, of course, but also quite worried about the nature and gravity of his injuries.

Lady P: Of course, my dear. Take comfort in the fact that his injuries will surely mend more quickly once he is in the bosom of his family.

Jane [looking doubtful]: Perhaps. But there is just Papa and me. [Frowning] And Cecilia, of course. [At Lady P’s blank look] Andrew’s betrothed.

Lady P [with a reassuring smile]: A young lady to fuss over him…just what the doctor ordered.

Jane: [wrinkling her nose]: Cecilia Ashburton? Fussing over him? Somehow I can’t imagine it.

Lady P [frowning]: I take it you don’t approve of Miss Ashburton?

Jane [sighing]: Well, she did seem to care for him at first, but when he left for the Peninsula she seemed to have forgotten all about us. Her lively social life makes all the society columns, and her behavior—well, she’s surrounded by beaux who don’t seem to know about Andrew at all! I’ve been in Town this year for my come-out and she hasn’t called even once!

Lady P [patting Jane’s hand]: Perhaps she has been fretting for him and is simply trying to fill the void of his absence. One never knows what another person is feeling, you know.

Jane: Perhaps, but I could wish that Andrew would marry a nice, down-to-earth girl like my good friend Lucy Barlow. She’d be perfect for him, and then we would be sisters! But he still treats her like a child—even though she’s all of eighteen now!

Lady P: Lucy Barlow? I don’t recall that name. Has she been presented at court?

Jane [sadly]. No. The Barlows haven’t the means for it, and there are five daughters. Not much hope that any of them will marry to advantage, stuck in Charlbury the way they are.

Lady P [clasping Jane’s hand]: Take heart, my dear. Things work out the way they were meant to be. For now, let us pray that your brother returns safely and makes a satisfactory recovery.

Jane [swallowing]: Indeed, my lady. Andrew must be our first concern. Thank you for your counsel. I shall endeavor not to meddle in my brother’s personal life.

Lady P [rising]: As to that, my dear, I believe I have quizzed you long enough. Let us return to the ball and set our minds on happier things. I believe young Lord Needham was seeking a dance with you before I whisked you away.

Jane [with a rueful smile]: A reminder that I have yet to find my own match, after a whole Season! It is much easier to find matches for others, do you not agree, Lady P?

Lady P [with a secret smile]: Sometimes it is, Miss Livingston. And sometimes it just comes naturally.

About A Twelfth Night Tale

twelfthnighttale_4inchA wounded soldier and the girl next door find peace and love amidst a backdrop of rural Christmas traditions.

Without dowries and the opportunity to meet eligible gentlemen, the five Barlow sisters stand little chance of making advantageous marriages. But when the eldest attracts the attention of a wealthy viscount, suddenly it seems as though Fate is smiling upon them.

Lucy knows that she owes it to her younger sisters to encourage Lord Bexley’s attentions, since marriage to a peer will secure their futures as well as hers. The man of her dreams has always looked like Andrew Livingston, her best friend’s brother. But he’s always treated her like a child, and, in any case, is betrothed to another. Perhaps the time has come to put away childhood dreams and accept reality…and Lord Bexley.

Andrew has returned from the Peninsula with more emotional scars to deal with than just the lame arm. Surprisingly, it’s his sister’s friend “Little Lucy” who shows him the way out of his melancholy. He can’t help noticing that Lucy’s grown up into a lovely young woman, but with an eligible viscount courting her, he’ll need a little Christmas magic to win her for himself.

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Excerpt

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

A Blush® Regency romance from Ellora’s Cave

Chapter One

The Barlow Home

near Charlbury, Oxfordshire

23 December 1813

“It’s so kind of you to call, Lord Bexley. The flowers you sent are simply lovely, are they not, Lucy?”

Unable to miss the warning tone in her mother’s voice, Lucy sat up straight in her chair and smiled sweetly at their caller.

“Oh yes indeed. They are undoubtedly the most beautiful I’ve ever received, my lord.”

Of course, she did not mention that they were the first flowers she’d ever been sent by a gentleman. And considering that there were few opportunities to meet eligible gentlemen in the quiet little neck of the woods where the Barlows resided, the arrangement was quite likely to remain the only floral tribute to come her way.

Her caller beamed with pleasure. “They were the best I could find at the florist, but of course they cannot hold a candle to your beauty and sweetness, Miss Barlow.”

Lucy swallowed and forced herself to reply. “You embarrass me with your flattery, my lord.”

“Not at all,” he insisted. “You were quite the belle of the Christmas Ball last evening, Miss Barlow. I was much envied to be allowed the honor of two dances with you when so many gentlemen had to be turned away.”

The “Christmas Ball” was merely a small celebration at the local assembly rooms. Her mother had encouraged her to favor Lord Bexley, but in truth, Lucy herself had not found him objectionable. He was an accomplished dancer and quite distinguished-looking, in spite of the fact that he had at least twenty years over her.

At eighteen, she was of an age to be out in society, and Lord Bexley, a wealthy widower from Warwickshire, was undoubtedly the most eligible gentleman in the county. Recently out of mourning, he was seeking a new wife and a mother to his three children, and as Mrs. Barlow kept telling her, Lucy should be flattered that he seemed to be favoring her for the role.

Well, she was flattered. Wasn’t she? The number of young ladies far exceeded that of eligible gentlemen, and she didn’t wish to be left on the shelf. With her family in financial difficulties and four younger sisters to be married off, Lucy knew she owed it to them to marry well and do what she could to find her sisters suitable matches as well.

She was prepared to do her duty and make the best of it, but somehow, when she thought of marriage and children, it was not the kindly Lord Bexley who came to mind. It was the face of the strapping, dark-haired Adonis with laughing gray eyes who lived on an adjoining estate with his younger sister—her bosom friend Jane—who had teased her unmercifully from the time she learned to walk. She couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been in love with Andrew Livingston—she’d even asked him to marry her at the age of five when he’d been twelve and about to leave for Eton. He’d laughed and quipped that it would be like marrying his sister, and she’d nursed a broken heart ever since.

She sighed as she frequently did when she thought of Andrew and his affianced wife, and her mother glared at her. Fortunately, Phillips wheeled in the tea cart and Mrs. Barlow’s attention was mercifully diverted.

“Please do the honors, Lucy. An excellent opportunity to practice your housewifely skills.”

Lucy flushed. Could her mother’s intentions be more obvious? But Lord Bexley did not seem to notice. He smiled kindly at her somewhat shaky inquiry as to his preferences, and thanked her graciously when she brought him his tea and a plate of cherry tarts.

“Quite charming,” he commented as he regarded her with obvious approval. It was unclear whether he was speaking to her or to her mother, and Lucy wasn’t sure how to respond.

Fortunately, there was a shriek followed by the sound of fierce arguing from the back rooms of the house. Lucy turned instinctively to the door, which was promptly thrust open and filled by the figure of her sister Lydia, who was breathing hard and wringing her hands in agitation.

“Do come, Lucy! Lila and Louisa are having one of their rows again, in the kitchen of all places. Lila broke one of Cook’s mixing bowls, and Cook swears she’ll leave if someone doesn’t stop them and you know you’re the only one who can, Lucy!” She flushed when she saw Lord Bexley and her mother’s angry face. “Oh…pardon me, I didn’t realize we had a guest.” She backed out into the hall, shooting Lucy a pleading look as she did so.

Relieved for an excuse to terminate the social call, Lucy muttered her excuses and scrambled out of the room. But not before she heard her mother’s mortified apology and Lord Bexley’s soothing reply that he found it quite agreeable to discover a young lady so accomplished in the maternal skills.

Goodness, he really was intent on courting her! She should be flattered. She was a sensible girl, and it was pointless to set her cap at Andrew Livingston, in any case. Lord Bexley would be an excellent match for her. His three daughters could not possibly be as troublesome as her two youngest sisters, after all.

She gritted her teeth and hurried to the kitchen, the ineffectual Lydia as usual trailing behind her. The second eldest Barlow daughter was as helpless as their mother at controlling the two youngest children. When Lucy married and left the house, as she would in time, her bookish middle sister Laura was going to have to take up the reins.

About the Author

P1smsqA former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There’s just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.

In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around the UK and visit many of the places she’s read about for years, and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.

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Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

It’s Party Time for Susana’s Parlour!

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Susana’s Parlour was born a year ago, after I returned from my first RWA conference, in Anaheim, California. I had the time of my life there—especially in the evenings when my friend Selene Grace Silver took me Laguna Beach and other nearby sights. It was magical!

I knew from my local RWA chapter mates that I would need a blog eventually, but at the time I was an unpublished author and didn’t really expect to be published right away. I mean, don’t most writers have to plug away for a few years before they get “the call”? But I guess I finally allowed myself to be convinced that waiting until then to start a blog was a mistake.

So…what to write about? I decided I didn’t want it to be an “author” blog—where the author talks about the daily struggles of writing. It would be a “reader” blog, for those readers who enjoy reading historical—especially Regency—romances as I do. As far as content, I decided to use an article I had begun about my pet peeves in historical romances. And that’s how the “Deal Breakers” series began.

It was only two months later that I did get “the call”—or rather, “the email”—and by January, I was a published author!

That’s about when Lady P popped in to inspire me with all of her fascinating tidbits about the Regency era. And things just spiraled from there.

So what’s in store for the next year on Susana’s Parlour? Well, I’ve discovered that it’s hard to predict what Lady P will do, but she promises that she will be back at summer’s end when the weather in England starts to chill…and will be removing with me to central Florida for the winter. She’s anxious to see a real alligator and insists she wants to go to Disney World too. Will I ever get any writing done at all with her there???

But she assures me that she has lots of great things to talk about. Even though she spent most of the summer in the country with her daughter’s family, she will be in London for the Little Season and promises to bring back all the latest on-dits and fashion news. And it should be fun to introduce her to the other inhabitants of our retirement community. I wonder if they played bingo in Regency times. Hmm.

Announcement, announcement, annou-ounce-ment!

I’ve just contracted with Ellora’s Cave to have my Christmas novella published this season! It will come out digitally as a single and then in a print anthology with other Regency Christmas stories in the Christmas traditions series.

Yep, you heard right! It’ll be in PRINT!

I can’t post an excerpt yet because the edits haven’t been completed and the final product might look a whole lot different. But I can give you a little sneak peak.

About A Twelfth Night Tale

Wounded physically and emotionally, Andrew returns home from the War on the Peninsula to find himself drawn to the now-grown-up girl next door. Lucy has always worshiped her best friend’s brother, but first she’ll have to turn down the wealthy viscount who can secure the futures of her and her four sisters.

Lucy and her best friend Jane are busy planning a party for the community Twelfth Night celebration. Jane’s brother Andrew has been home for some time when they finally run into each other, and Andrew can’t believe what he sees. The little girl who used to tag along after him everywhere he went has grown into a beautiful young lady! He tries to convince himself she’s off limits; after all, he was recently jilted by an avaricious fiancée and she’s being courted in earnest by a wealthy viscount. But the more time he spends with Lucy, the more drawn to her he becomes, and he wonders if he might have a chance with her after all.

Lucy has loved Andrew forever, but thought him lost to her when he became engaged to another woman. Her parents have five daughters to marry off with little in the way of dowries, and it seems like an answer to prayer when a wealthy viscount comes to call on their oldest daughter. Lucy has just about resigned herself to the match when she and Andrew—sans fiancée—are suddenly thrown together. But he’s still coming to terms with his own situation, and she can’t keep the viscount hanging on forever.

If there is any chance for a match between them, it’s going to take a bit of Christmas magic to make it happen.

Contest on The Romance Studio’s End-of-Summer Bash

Test Your Knowledge of Regency-Speak…and win a blue silver and marcasite cameo necklace!

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This contest ends at the end of the day Friday, August 16th

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Susana [to the Reader]: I’m afraid Lady P had to return to the 19th century for a christening (no, not Damian and Theresa’s this time, but one of her own daughters’ offspring). She promised to return after she’s had a comfortable coze with her daughters and grandchildren, but in the meantime, she sent someone who she said was a personal friend of Princess Charlotte, the daughter of the Prince Regent.

Lady Beauchamp: I would not characterize our acquaintanceship in quite that manner, Miss Ellis.

Susana: Forgive me, Lady Beauchamp, but I am not finished speaking to the readers.

Lady Beauchamp: Well, do hurry, then. I have an important social engagement this afternoon.

Susana [taking a deep breath]: Yes, well, Lady Beauchamp is the former Leticia Snodgrass, who was presented in London about the same time as Lady P’s niece-by-marriage, Theresa Ashby. You can read more about that in the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa, which is a free read on my web site: http://www.susanaellis.com/pub.html.

gloria_gown_stern

Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, née Snodgrass

Lady Beauchamp: Is it really? I daresay I should like to see how I am characterized in the story.

Susana [hurriedly]: Perhaps we should get back to the subject at hand, you being a marchioness and your time being so valuable and all. Why don’t you begin by telling us about your marriage and your family?

Lady Beauchamp: Of course. I was quite sought-after in my first season—many offers were made for my hand, you know—but there were only a handful of dukes that year and they were all married, so I chose to wed Lord Beauchamp. We had a fabulous wedding at St. George’s, and the Prince kissed my hand and called me the most beautiful bride he’d ever seen.

Susana: And your husband and family? Please tell us about them.

Lady Beauchamp: Fortunately, my youngest, George Augustus, takes after his mother. [Smiling] He has the most adorable cherubic face and blue eyes so like mine. I think it quite likely that his hair will lighten before long as well.

Susana: And your older son?

Lady Beauchamp [grimacing]: It is most unfortunate that Robert William takes after his father. Sturdy, bookish, and quite dull. At least dear Robbie has not lost his hair as his father has. Lord Beauchamp is much older than I, you know. His first wife gave him only daughters, but it was I who gave him his heir and a spare. [Preening]

Susana: I…see. Well, now that my readers are informed as to your…uh…pedigree, let us move on to the topic at hand. How did you become acquainted with the Princess Charlotte, Lady Beauchamp?

Princess Charlotte of Wales, during her pregnancy

Princess Charlotte of Wales, during her pregnancy

Lady Beauchamp [wrinkling her nose]: Of course. Well, we had met in passing at ton events when she was a child, although rarely with her mother, since her father wished to limit her exposure to her mother’s eccentricities. [Coughing delicately]. Blood will tell, however. Lady de Clifford, who had the charge of her at the time—only a baroness, you know—gave her far too much freedom. The girl had no sense of propriety—quite the hoyden as a child, but it was far worse when she reached adolescence.

Susana: Well, adolescence is a difficult time for everyone. I taught thirteen-year-olds for twenty-five years, you know. The best thing about it is that it eventually passes. I suppose the Princess showed the usual interest in the opposite sex?

Lady Beauchamp [shaking her head]: Oh, much worse than that, my dear Miss Ellis! If it wasn’t one of her cousins (illegitimate, you understand), it was William, Duke of Gloucester. They all took her fancy at one time or another. The rumors were rampant all over Town! Upon this proof that she took after her scandalous mother, the Prince Regent made arrangements for a marriage with William of Orange, hoping for an alliance with the Netherlands. It all came to nothing of course. Stubborn, stubborn girl! Not at all the sort of girl who ought to be a princess!

Susana: Do you know why she didn’t like the Prince of Orange?

Lady Beauchamp [curling her lip]: Indeed I do. She confided in me once—quite soon after she and Prince Leopold had settled at Claremont House—which is near Beauchamp’s estate in Surrey, you know—that he refused to promise to allow her mother to visit them after they were married because of her scandalous reputation, and after that, she steadfastly refused to have him. [Leaning closer to Susana] Of course, by then her mother had already fled to the Continent, and she never saw her again anyway.

Susana: How sad!

Lady Beauchamp [shrugging]: Was it? Many would say it was all for the best.

Princess Charlotte's silver lace wedding gown

Princess Charlotte’s silver lace wedding gown

Susana: So you socialized with the royal pair after their marriage. What can you tell us about them?

Lady Beauchamp: Quite a boring pair, really. Prince Leopold—who was quite impoverished, you understand, before he wed the heir to the throne of England—took rather too much of an interest in agriculture for my taste. Of course, he and Beauchamp used to tramp all over looking at crops, of all things. Her Royal Highness thought it was quaint.

Susana: But they got on well together?

Lady Beauchamp [reluctantly]: I suppose they must have. I never heard talk of rows between them, and her manner of dress became more sedate after her marriage. Indeed, Prince Leopold seemed to have a calming influence on her. We shared a box at the races once, and when Her Royal Highness began to show rather more enthusiasm than was proper, her husband caught her attention and said, “Doucement, chérie,” and she immediately smiled and regained her composure.

Susana [eyes filling with tears]: How sweet! What a shame their time together was so short! Were you around her during her pregnancy?

Lady Beauchamp: Her confinement, Miss Ellis. Do try to exercise a bit of restraint in your speech, even though you are American. [Sighing heavily]. Indeed I did see her a few times, although as her condition advanced, she was kept in seclusion. Considering all of the doctors who were consulted, one would have thought at least one would have been able to assist her safely through her trial. But no, she was allowed to eat until she reached elephantine proportions, and then they tried to starve her until she turned despondent. Why, Sir Richard Croft was not even a physician! My own husband would never have allowed a mere accoucheur near me when I was brought to bed. But it’s like my mother says, everything the Prince Regent touches ends in failure. Born under an unlucky star, she believes.

Susana: I understand Prince Leopold never recovered from the death of his wife and son.

Lady Beauchamp: Nor has England either. One would think the world has come to an end. The King has no legitimate grandchildren and his youngest son is over forty. The city closed down for two weeks and within a few days there was no black cloth to be had, as all of England was in mourning. Beauchamp said there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen during the funeral, when she was laid to rest with her son at her feet in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. To be sure, I can’t imagine what will happen to the succession now. I suppose all of the royal princes will run out and marry and try to sire an heir as quickly as possible. [Pursing her lips] Well, all I can say is they’d be well advised to do it soon, because the King’s health deteriorates as we speak, and the Regent isn’t much better. [Sliding her chair closer to Susana] My dear Miss Ellis, it occurs to me that you must be in possession of—shall we say?—interesting information about what happened with the succession. Perhaps you would be kind enough to indulge my curiosity?

Susana [glancing at her watch]: Oh dear, look at the time! If you do not return immediately, Lady Beauchamp, I fear you will be late for Lady Pritchard’s Venetian Breakfast. Do accept my sincere thanks for condescending to speak with me this morning!

Lady Beauchamp [with narrowed eyes]: As it happens, you are correct, Miss Ellis. I really must take my leave of you. However, you can be sure that I shall seek out Lady Pendleton as soon as may be to discover what she knows. [She waves her arms and disappears.]

Susana [gripping the arms of her chair]: I do wonder how this time travel thing is managed. Lady P has mentioned something about an old lady who runs the apothecary shop on Dapple Street, but she has so far declined to go into detail. [Frowning] When she does return, we are going to have a long chat about a few things I discovered after she left. For one thing, my digital camera is missing…after she went on a photography binge taking pictures of everything, even the engine of the car. And then there is a little matter of charges on my credit card for $800 at Toys R Us and more than $300 at the Battery Warehouse. Did she hear nothing I told her about the Prime Directive?

Lady P will be back soon. As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!

Susana: Lady P and I recently returned to Ohio after spending a month in Florida where she enjoyed taking daily “constitutionals” around the retirement village where my parents live, and eventually condescended to take a dip in the heated pool, although the bathing costume she rigged for herself raised more than a few eyebrows from the other swimmers.

Lady P [indignantly]: My dear Susana, I could not possibly have appeared in public in those-those underthings you and your mother wore. I should have been utterly humiliated!

Susana: They are called swimsuits, Lady P. Bathing costumes. And that’s what everyone else wore.

Lady P [with a hand to her head]: The gentlemen—such as they were—were much worse. I thought I would swoon when I saw those naked chests!

Susana [chuckling]: But surely you have seen a bare-chested man before, Lady P. Why, you and Lord P were married for nearly twenty years, were you not?

Lady P: Well, of course I did, but not in public, Susana. Why, my Pendleton was exceedingly conscious of propriety. He would never have appeared in public half-dressed; why his valet would have slit his own throat before allowing it!

Susana [biting her lips to keep from laughing at the thought of the suicidal valet]: These gentlemen are from the 21st century, Lady P. Frankly, what these men wore was quite modest compared to some of the younger gentlemen. Don’t you remember that day when we went to the beach and saw—

Lady P [shuddering]: Do not even remind me, Susana. The young women’s attire…why they were nearly as naked as the day they were born! Where is their sense of modesty?

Susana [making a mental note to avoid beaches and pools in the future]: Perhaps we should get back to today’s topic—the Luddite revolt in 1811-12. Can you tell my readers what you recall of that uncertain time?

Lady P: Indeed I can, although one could wish to forget it.

ludditesSusana: It started in the Midlands with the stocking industry, when stockingers, using looms and equipment leased from their employers in their homes, lost more than half their income when they were forced to produce cheap stockings that their employers could sell in larger quantities and increase their profits. Is that correct?

Lady P: How could I forget? Those stockings fell apart after barely a week of wear, and even the servants disdained them!

Susana: That was the same year the harvest failed, and food prices rose to an alarming level, and more and more people were suffering in economic distress.

Lady P: A shilling for a loaf of bread! It was outrageous!

Susana: People became desperate, and before long, gangs of disguised men started going around destroying the frames and looms used to produce the stockings to protest the treatment of the workers and the poverty more and more of them were forced to endure.

Lady P: That may be how it started, Susana, but it escalated into so much more than that. Why, many of us feared an uprising against the monarchy comparable to the French Terror of barely two decades past. And there wasn’t much to be done about it; Pendleton told me that fully half of the militia had taken up the cudgel for General Ludd in stealth and would turn against their officers in a trice if ordered to put down the revolutionaries.

Susana: I’m curious to know what Lord P thought should be done about it. He was a Tory, and the Tories were in power. Did he approve the decision to make frame-breaking a capital offense?

Lady P [shaking her head and sighing]: No, of course he did not. He thought it was incredibly stupid to think that masses of starving insurgents could be deterred by fear of the gibbet if they were caught. [Swallowing hard] He was, in fact, quite moved by Lord Byron’s speech in the House of Lords, where he decried the Tories’ attempt to solve the problem by force. He insisted—quite eloquently, Lord P admitted—that the Midland workers were being exploited to increase the profits of a few hosiers, and that the resulting misery benefitted no one.

Susana [thoughtfully]: The more things change, the more they stay the same. [Seeing Lady P’s raised eyebrow]: I was just thinking of how the Ohio House of Representatives just voted to eliminate the forty-hour work week so that employers won’t have to pay overtime—pay them double—for working more than that.

Lady P: As to that, I can’t say, Susana. But that is one reason I became a Whig. I would never go so far as to overturn the entire government and plunge the country into turmoil and terror such as what happened in France, but I have always believed that certain reforms to prevent the poor from being exploited could be instituted without much upheaval, and that the entire country would be the better for it. [Sighing] Dear Pendleton felt the same, but he was unable to persuade his colleagues to listen to reason. As afraid as they were of a revolution, the only solution the Tories could agree on was to threaten the insurgents.

Susana: It wasn’t long after that the Tories fell out of power, didn’t they? After the assassination of the Prime Minister?

Lady P: Indeed, and it was well-deserved too. Not because the Whigs’ ideas were much better, although they certainly used the Tories’ imprudence to their advantage. The Prince Regent’s intemperate behavior and his treatment of his wife made him vastly unpopular, so the Whigs took up the cudgel for Princess Caroline, proclaiming that she was being badly treated, and causing more riots, spreading to the north.

percevalSusana: And didn’t the people actually cheer the assassin as he was led to his execution a week later? There was that much dissatisfaction with the government that they cheered the murderer of the Prime Minister?

Lady P [tight-lipped]: Poor Lord Perceval. He was a good man. Had twelve children, you know. A family man. He could have gone far, if it weren’t for that Bellingham fellow shooting him in the House of Commons. Do you know the government wouldn’t even give him a public funeral because they were fearful of riots? I hardly knew what to say to his wife Jane when I saw her after that.

Susana [sighing]: Some things seem so unfair, don’t they? Like my friend whose daughter just died of breast cancer at age thirty-seven. Or many of my friends whose husbands lost their jobs and couldn’t find anything comparable afterward because of their age and the cost of health insurance. What do you say? How do you help them?

Lady P [clucking]: I suppose there will always be misery and injustice, no matter how diligently we try to eliminate it.

Susana: But that doesn’t mean we should stop trying.

Lady P [smiling]: Exactly. Now, Susana, don’t you think something should be done about all the weeds in the back garden? Since the weather turned warmer, they seem to be popping up all over the place.

Susana [leaving the room]: Have at ’em, Lady P. There’s a hoe in the shed and some work gloves in the drawer over there.

Lady P [frowning]: And where might you be going, then?

Susana [from the office]: I have a Christmas story to write. Deadline, you know. Can’t be bothered with weeds for awhile.

Lady P makes a beeline for the back door, audibly grumbling about “misplaced priorities,” “writing Christmas stories in May,” and that she “really should go back to the 19th century where there were gardeners to do such onerous tasks.”

As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!

georgeiiiSusana: [to the Reader]: Lady Pendleton’s opinions on George III tend to be diametrically opposed to mine, which she attributes to my “ignorance due to indoctrination by history books written by misguided wretches attempting to justify the dreadful bloodbath caused by the radical colonists.”

It seems doubtful that we will ever come to agreement on that score—too many years of July 4th picnics and fireworks and, pledging allegiance to the flag, and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner”—but I have begun to see George III in a more sympathetic light. More than 200 years have passed and since my trip to England last year, I have come to realize that the English do not see him as the tyrant “we” do (and I say “we” even though at least some of my ancestors still lived in England during that time), and most never did.

And I have to say—in spite of all the patriotism instilled in me over decades—I am intrigued with the idea of growing up speaking with a British accent. (Can I be deported for saying that?)

Lady P: You must admit that the American accent sounds decidedly low class, Susana. Perhaps I could give you lessons in enunciating. Much like that Henry Higgins did to Eliza in that film we saw the other evening. You would never pass for upper class in society, of course, but it would be a definite improvement.

Susana: I thank you for offering, Lady P, but I’ll stick with the lazy American drawl for now. Perhaps some other time.

Lady P: Very well. Shall we discuss His Royal Highness King George III for your readers? Where shall I start?

Susana: At the beginning would be best. Where did you meet him?

Lady P: I was too young to attend his wedding to Queen Charlotte, but I do recall my mother bringing home a flower—was it a camellia or a rose?—but it was pink and she put it in one of the heaviest books in the library for pressing. I remember feeling very sad that she had to destroy such a pretty posy in order to preserve it. I wonder what happened to it? I believe my brother Henry inherited all the books in the library, so perhaps it’s still there. He was never one to read or study overmuch.

Susana: But you did meet him at some point?

Lady P: Goodness, yes. During my come-out—my mother was so vexed that the Royal Pair failed to attend my presentation ball—I was presented to Queen Charlotte, as were all of the young debutantes, you know, and I did meet them once or twice that season. After I was married to Lord Pendleton, we met more often. Lord P was in the House of Lords, you know, and we were obliged to attend certain political events.

Susana: What did you think of him?

Lady P: He was a kindly old man, quite stodgy, you understand. As a young girl, I didn’t appreciate that quality in him. One expected the King to be a cut above the rest of society, and he wasn’t at all. I recall complaining to Pendleton about the plainness of the fare at Windsor Castle and why the King could not have a French chef as skilled as ours, and he said the King didn’t appreciate rich food anymore than he did the French. Good, hearty English fare was good enough, he said.

Susana: I hear his marriage was a love-match.

Lady P [snorting in a very unladylike manner]: Romance again, Susana? Americans seem obsessed with it. The King met his betrothed on the day of the wedding. He wasn’t allowed to marry Lady Sarah Lennox when he wished to because she was only the sister of a duke. Royalty must marry royalty, you know. Or at least they did in my time.

Susana: But they did have fifteen children, so the marriage must have been somewhat of a success.

Lady P: Oh indeed, they got on well after that. Queen Charlotte was not well-favored, but she had a very pleasant disposition. She was a perfect wife for a down-to-earth man like the King.

Susana: So what happened to their children? The sons, at least, did not seem to be able to sustain such happy marriages. Look at the Prince Regent, for example. His life was like the antithesis of his father’s.

Lady P: Indeed. The King disliked his oldest son intensely. Frederick was his favorite. Pendleton told me the King often bemoaned the fact that Frederick was not his oldest son. Brought up to be a military man. He was the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, you know, until the scandal.

Susana: The scandal?

Lady P: Apparently he passed on military secrets to his mistress, a sly little hussy by the name of Mary Anne Clarke. She took bribes in exchange for promotions, and although she was the one to blame, it was his indiscretion in telling her such things that caused him to resign in disgrace. [shaking her head sadly] Should have stuck by his long-suffering wife. Frederica was a most amiable woman.

Susana: So even his favorite had feet of clay. What about the others? Wasn’t one of them accused of murder?

Lady P: Ernest, that was. He was an odd sort. Spread all sorts of cruel rumors about his brothers. His valet turned up with his throat cut, and it was whispered that he’d been seduced by his master, who murdered him when the man attempted to blackmail him.

Susana: Oh my. Homosexuals were hung in those days, were they not?

Lady P: Indeed they were. It would have been a massive scandal had that little fact become known. Which is no doubt why the inquest determined that the man committed suicide.

Susana [shuddering]: Who commits suicide by cutting their throat?

Lady P: Exactly. Not to mention that the man was left-handed, and the deed had to have been done with his right hand. [sighing] But I suppose such things must be done to protect the monarchy and the nation.

Susana: Surely among fifteen children there must have been at least one or two who turned out well. What about the daughters?

Lady P: Poor Amelia died in 1810. She was 27 and unmarried, since she had not been allowed to marry the man of her choice, Charles Fitzroy. She was the youngest and the King’s favorite and he was never the same after that. The other girls—well, the oldest, Princess Charlotte was married to the King of Württemburg—remained unmarried and living at home, and dear me, they never dissembled about expressing how they felt about that. Well, they were all rather plain, like their mother, and ran to fat, but they did adore their father, no matter how unstable he become as the years passed.

Susana: The Prince of Wales was made Regent because of his illness, which has been called dementia. Did you ever see him in that state, or know someone who did?

Lady P: I did not, of course, since he was kept in seclusion as soon as he began to exhibit symptoms. But Pendleton did, on one occasion, when he was attending the King on parliamentary business. [clucking her tongue]. He began speaking in shrill tones, so quickly that he could not be easily understood, calling for “the woman he loved,” a certain Lady Pembroke who served at court. His eyes bulged and he dropped his breeches to reveal his backside. Pendleton was horrified when I nearly fell over laughing when he described it. He said it was a horrifying experience.

Susana: The King of England mooned your husband? Heavens, what a sight that must have been! [grinning broadly]

Lady P: Harrumph! It was, rather. And yet I did feel very sorry for him. He was a fine king and deserved much better than to be afflicted by such an undignified malady. And then to have his sons to be such bounders, and one of his daughters to bear an illegitimate child… It is almost a blessing that such distressing news was kept from him.

Susana [sighing]: My belief in fairytale royal marriages died a tragic death after what happened with Princess Diana. Although I can’t help hoping that Prince William and Kate will end up happily.

Lady P: They do seem a sensible pair, and very well-matched, like my nephew Damian and his wife Theresa. Have I told you Theresa is expecting again?

mi_hacienda_edited-1Susana: You’ve mentioned it a few times. What do you think about Subway for dinner?

Lady P: What was that Spanish place we went to last week? I rather fancy one of those—what do you call them—burros?

Susana: Burritos, Lady P. And it was Mexican, not Spanish. Mi Hacienda, on Glanzman Street. They offer salsa lessons on Wednesday nights. What do you say we paint the town while we’re at it.

Lady P: A burrito will do, Susana. And perhaps some of those savory chips. Never had anything like them before. Do you suppose I can take the recipe back with me for my own cook to prepare?

Susana [shaking her head]: Sorry, Lady P. We’ve had this discussion before. Remember the Prime Directive?

As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!

Susana: [to the Reader]:

The other day, Lady P and I got to talking about the position of women in the Regency period and how it evolved from the late 18th century when women such as Georgiana Cavendish held political salons and marched in support of political candidates to a time when women were to be saintly and devout and “protected” from the seamier side of life, leaving the important decisions to their sturdier husbands.

Miss_Hannah_More-304x400Lady P: ‘Twas Hannah More and the Evangelicals that popularized it. Women were to be seen and not heard, at the same time obedient to their husbands and revered by them. [Snorting in an unladylike manner] Pendleton and I laughed about it on many an occasion. I’ve never been the obedient sort, and Lord P would not have wed me if I were. Nor did I wish to be worshiped either. The very idea!

Susana: No doubt it was a reaction against the excesses of the previous generation. The Devonshire ménage-à-trois, for example. The Prince Regent and his illicit marriage, as well as all of his mistresses and excessive spending. The scandalous behavior of Lady Caroline Lamb.

Lady P [Frowning]: There were excesses, of course, which did lead to the pendulum swinging in the other direction. But such extreme changes more often than not led to equally harmful excesses on the other side.

Susana: Indeed. I can certainly see that is true in the 21st century. But do explain what you mean, Lady P. What were the harmful excesses caused by the Evangelical movement?

Lady P: A popular interpretation of the wife-as-saintly approach was that the husband was allowed and even expected to be a sinner.

Susana: Which gave him the freedom to take mistresses and carouse as often as he liked, while his “sainted wife” stayed home and raised the children.

caroline_lambLady P: Well, yes, but it was rather more than that. As unrealistic and unfair as it was to the women, I believe it was equally unfair to the men. Lord Byron, for example. Why would such a dissolute young man choose to marry a staid bluestocking like Annabella Milbanke?

Susana: Because she was an heiress and he was close to bankruptcy?

Lady P: Then why would she agree to marry him? She had turned him down flat in the past, having recognized that he was a loose screw.

Susana: Because opposites attract? Because she thought she could reform him?

Lady P: Exactly! She was quite forthcoming about it, actually, and Lord Byron seemed to agree that she would be a good influence on him, at least at first. But as the wedding drew near, he began to have doubts, complaining to his bosom bows that he feared the medicine would be far more disagreeable than the disease itself.

Susana: It can be tiresome to be preached at all the time. In a true partnership, both partners accept each other, flaws and all.

Lady P: Precisely. In this case, Annabella overestimated her own influence and underestimated the extent of her husband’s vices. She did not know of his immoral relationship with his half-sister Augusta until after the marriage, for example, and like most women who incessantly nag their husbands, she came to be regarded by her husband as a nuisance.

Susana: But as you say, Byron was a bit of a loose screw. Would it have worked between them, do you think, if he’d been on some sort of medication?

Lady P [with a loud harrumph]: Your society seems to be of the opinion that all can be cured with a tiny pill, Susana, but I’m not so sure. We had quacks touting medicines in our day too. Why, the stories I could tell you about laudanum…!

Susana: But getting back to the issue of women’s rights, what did you think of people like Hannah More, Lady P? Was she a good influence or a bad one? She did influence people to care for the poor, did she not?

Lady P: Hannah More and those around her were neither good nor bad, Susana. The mistake, in my opinion, is to paint everything in life broadly as either white or black. Hannah More did a great deal to awaken society to the plight of the poor and stir up support on their behalf, that is true. But I believe that she did a disservice to both women and men in promoting the role of women as subservient to men.

Susana: But women were still legally the chattel of men, were they not? And they were not given the right to vote for another hundred years.

Lady P [somewhat impatiently]: Legally, yes, that is true. But my dear Susana, you must not assume that every marriage was built on such an unequal basis. Discerning women always knew how to manage their husbands, so long as they took care to marry a husband who could be managed, that is. I daresay even the redoubtable Hannah herself could not have managed such a bedlamite as Lord Byron.

Susana: But you said yourself that you never told Lord Pendleton about your Whig activities with the Duchess of Devonshire.

Lady P: Indeed not. It was for his own protection. His family would have been scandalized.

Susana [shaking her head]: Sometimes your logic escapes me, Lady P.

Lady P: I’m not saying that my own marriage was ideal, or that most marriages were not unequal in my day, Susana. There was just as much hypocrisy in society then as there is in your century. Why Hannah herself apologized in her books for having the temerity to write them at all, being a mere woman as she was. My point is that one must consider one’s options and make the wisest choices possible in whatever circumstances one finds oneself. I may have decided to become a Whig, but I wasn’t foolish enough to believe they should have unilateral power. No indeed. Some of their official policies were ridiculous in the extreme, and I was glad there were rational voices on the other side to temper their excesses.

Susana: In that respect, I certainly agree with you, Lady P. I find I cannot blindly accept any philosophy or ideology without considering each facet of it on its own merits. But I find it extremely frustrating that there are so many who do, as though they haven’t a brain to think for themselves.

Lady P [dryly]: So I’ve noticed that about you. But Susana, it does appear that you are missing the point. People are who they are, and there’s not a lot you can do to change them. My counsel in such cases has always been to do what you can and let the rest be, else you work yourself into a state fit for Bedlam.

Susana: [shaking her head]. You remind me so much of Dr. Ellis, author of How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything, Yes Anything.

Lady P: What a singular title for a book! The logic seems sound, however. Why, many was the time when Lord P left me alone to go to his club that I could have spent the night fuming, but I decided instead to use that time to follow my own interests.

Susana: Such as attend the Whig salons at Devonshire house?

Lady P: Yes, and attend balls and musicals that Lord P did not enjoy. It wasn’t fashionable to live in one another’s pockets, in any case. We muddled along well enough, I do believe. How I do miss the dear man! [Sigh]

As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!

The Lady P Series

Episode #1: Susana’s Adventures With Lady P: The Introduction

Episode #2: Lady P Talks About… Pride and Prejudice?

Episode #3: Lady P and the Duchess Who Lost a Billion Dollars

Episode #4: Lady P and the Face On the $100 Bill

Episode #5: In Which Lady P Discovers Sparkly Fabrics and Ponders Violating the Prime Directive

Episode #6: Lady P Dishes the Dirt on the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #7: The Political Exploits of Lady P and the Duchess of Devonshire

Episode #8: Lady P and the Prince Regent’s Illicit Marriage

Episode #9: In Which Lady P Depletes the Cooking Sherry During Her Discussion of Caroline of Brunswick

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Episode #11: In Which Lady P Talks About Hannah More and the Rights of Women

Episode #12: Lady P’s Revelations Regarding George III and His Peculiar Progeny

Episode #13: Lady P Discusses the Luddite Uprising, the Assassination of Spencer Perceval, and the General Unfairness of Life

Episode #14: In Which Leticia, Lady Beauchamp, Pops In For an Interview On Her Personal Acquaintance With Princess Charlotte of Wales

Episode #15: Lady P On Assignment in 1814 Kent

Lady P Quizzes Jane Livingston, the Hero’s Sister From “A Twelfth Night Tale”

Episode #10: Lord Byron: Mad, Bad, and Dangerous to Know

Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!

Susana: [to the Reader]:

Lady P and I just finished watching the 2007 BBC movie about Lord Byron, and I thought you might find some of her reminiscences of the original characters as intriguing as I did. [Turning to Lady P] You knew the real Lord Byron, did you not, Lady P? What was your impression of him?

byronLady P:

Oh yes, I was acquainted with the man, as was anyone who was anyone in the ton during the spring of 1812 when he came onto the scene. I could never understand why women were making cakes of themselves over him. He wasn’t all that well-favored, you know, not nearly as attractive as that actor who played him in the film. Although he did have a certain magnetism, I suppose, when he looked at a woman with “the stare,” that is, with hooded eyes. I’m not at all sure what he was conveying with that most peculiar stare, but whatever it was had the effect of making formerly sensible women abandon all pretense of prudence in order to attract his attention.

Susana:

Undoubtedly Lady Caroline Lamb was one of them.

Lady P:

She was the worst of them, but then, she was always somewhat of a loose screw, Susana. Even when she was small—she was eight years old when her mother, Georgiana’s sister, moved the family into Devonshire House to escape her father’s abuse—Georgiana used to tell me about her flights of fancy and frequent mood swings, and when she married George Lamb and moved into Melbourne House, we all hoped that her husband and Lady Melbourne, his mother, a prominent Whig hostess you know, would prove to be steadying influences on her.

Susana:

It didn’t work out that way, though, did it?

Lady P [shaking her head]:

Not at all. You know, Susana, it is never a good idea for a newlywed to move in with her husband’s family. Or the other way round, I’m sure. In this case, Caroline clashed constantly with Lady Melbourne, and it only got worse when Caroline and Byron were so foolish as to allow their affair to become public. Harriet—Lady Bessborough, Caroline’s mother, you know—tried to rein her in, especially after Lord Byron tried to break things off with her, but Caroline was so far gone from reality that she listened to no one. She foisted herself on his friends and begged them to help her win him back. She threatened to harm herself. She neither ate nor slept and was quite wraith-like when her mother and husband finally persuaded her to go to Ireland with them. But even that wasn’t the end of it. Poor Caroline raved over him until the day she died, alternately loving and hating him.

carolinelamb

Susana:

I suppose today she’d be diagnosed bipolar and given medication to help her cope with her illness.

Lady P [frowning]:

Bipolar?

Susana:

Mood swings. You know, when someone is rapturously happy and believes everything is right with the world and doesn’t care if everyone knows it, and then later falls into a serious depression. I’m no psychiatrist, of course, but it does sound to me like she suffered from such an affliction.

Lady P:

Well, she did suffer from some sort of affliction, that much is obvious. And I shouldn’t wonder if Lord Byron didn’t suffer from something similar. He too, was something of a loose screw. Although I can’t really say what he was like as a child. I did hear that his father was something of a tyrant, like Caroline’s.

Susana:

What an interesting thought! But did he exhibit an equal passion for her, at least while their affair was still going full-swing?

Lady P [with a decidedly unladylike snort]:

Oh yes, indeed. Of course, when he first came onto the social scene, he was a Nobody and she the reigning Beauty. No doubt he was flattered when she took an interest in him. They were both poets, you know, possessed of mercurial artistic temperaments. At first, her mad, childlike bravado attracted him, but when Lady Melbourne got her clutches into him and convinced him that Caroline’s antics could make him persona non grata in society, he began to cool toward her.

Susana:

Lady Melbourne? Caroline’s mother-in-law? Why would Lord Byron pay attention to anything she said about Caroline?

Lady P:

My dear Susana, Lady Melbourne was one of the premier Whig hostesses, exceedingly attractive for her age, and it was whispered about that Lord Byron was infatuated with her. Yes, even though she was more than thirty years his senior. It does happen, you know. She had many affairs with prominent men, including the Prince Regent, and her son George bears an uncanny resemblance to him too.

Susana:

So why was she so critical of Caroline, then, if she indulged in adulterous affairs herself?

Lady P [somewhat impatiently]:

The difference between them, my dear Susana, is that Lady Melbourne’s lovers were carefully chosen to increase her influence in political circles. She was also careful to manage them with the utmost discretion. Caroline, well, she had no such scruples. She was the victim of her impulses. And to a lesser extent, Lord Byron was to his as well.

Susana:

I feel so sorry for her. But Lord Byron did not pine away for her, did he?

Lady P:

Not at all. He cut a wide swathe among the ladies of London. [Lowering her voice] It is said that he had an incestuous relationship with his half-sister Augusta, and that her daughter Elizabeth is his.

Susana:

Goodness! For a society so bent on propriety, there was certainly a great deal of scandalous goings-on!

Lady P [sighing]:

Oh yes indeed! It was keeping up appearances that was the important thing. So hypocritical. Why, I always thought it was beyond outrageous when Lady Swindon cast her maid into the streets for being with child when she herself was having an affair with the Duke of Kent. I do hope I was able to instill better principles into my own daughters while they were growing up.

Susana:

Lord Byron eventually married, did he not? I heard that his daughter Ada was the world’s first computer programmer.

Lady P:

Computer programmer? Well, I can’t speak to that, since I have no notion of what that is, except for that machine you use for your writing. But yes, he did marry Annabella Milbank, who was Lady Melbourne’s favorite niece and an heiress besides. And now that I think on it, I do recall that she was thought to be something of a bluestocking, so it is likely that she would have an intelligent daughter. Why, Annabella was better educated than most of the men of the ton; you’d have thought she’d have better sense than to marry a sad rattle like George Byron.

Susana:

Those mesmerizing, hooded stares of his, no doubt.

Lady P:

She probably thought she could reform him. She was quite a devout young lady, I believe. [Shaking her head] Such a shame. Why, I made sure my girls knew better than to attempt such a thing with their husbands. There are ways a woman can influence her husband’s opinions—I can certainly attest to that—but it is far better to choose a mate who doesn’t require a great deal of changing. Do remember that, Susana.

Susana [rolling her eyes]:

Of course, Lady P. [To the reader] That’s all for today. I hope you enjoyed Lady P’s reminiscences about the celebrated poet that Lady Caroline called “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.”

As always, please do comment if you have any questions you’d like to ask Lady P about the late Georgian/Regency era. She does love to chat!