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This younger friend was Miss Katharine Perry, for whom, and for her sister Mrs. Frederick Elliot, my father's affectionate admiration was great. These two sisters were on very intimate terms with the ladies of Curzon Street. Miss Perry has left a little privately printed pamphlet of extracts from a diary kept in 1849, of which two or three pages give a pretty picture of the Miss Berrys and their home circle and of the people who frequented it.
Here is a page out of Miss Perry's note-book:
Dined with the Miss Berrys-Miss Agnes' own dinner. She had said, so days before, she meant this next dinner to be composed of her own particular friends. I am proud to say [Miss Perry writes] she invited Jane (Mrs. Frederick Elliot) and me. The party also included Kinglake, Thackeray, Bielke, Mr. Rich, and the beauteous Louisa, Lady Waterford. . . . Carlyle was discussed, and, Miss Berry asking what his conversation was like, Kinglake said · Ezekiel.' . . .'
On another occasion Miss Perry also met Macaulay and Sydney Smith, and she describes Sydney Smith's admirable influence upon Macaulay's conversation, preventing a monologue, by which she says its brilliance was greatly enhanced. Miss Berry, in one of her letters to the Dowager Countess of Morley, writes:
Talking of Macaulay, I hope you have got his book . . . of all the seductive books you ever read. . . . The first edition of 3,000 copies was sold in the first week, another of 3,000 more is to come out on Thursday.
Mr. Morley's Life of Gladstone,' I am told, has about equalled this record.
It must have been at one of these dinners that poor Sydney Smith said of his own talk:
I have not even the privilege which belongs to every Briton, of speakin about the weather, without a roar of laughter from a set of foolish fellows who suppose every word I speak is a joke.
Here is one of the lady's reminiscences which reminds the
Most of these old friends used to come again in the same informal way to Chesham Place, where Miss Perry herself was living with Mr. and Mrs. Elliot, her brother-in-law and sister. How plainly it all rises before one! Kate Perry floating into the room, with her graceful ways and wonderful wreaths of crisp waving, auburn hair; and the good-looking master of the house, with quick, brilliant alertness, and the kind mistress with deep-set grey eyes. It was a kind amusing house, full of welcome and interest and discussion, with a certain amount of criticism and habit of the world to make its sympathy amusing. Lord Lansdowne used to go there, and Mr. Kinglake and Sir Henry Taylor. The great clan of Elliot used to be seen there, and most of the persons who, in those days, were writing and reading and making speeches; and Lady Theresa Lewis herself, and the charming Kent House coterie, and Mr. Spedding, and Mr. Venables, and Lord Houghton, and all the philosophers.
writer of an odd fashion which she can remember in her schoolroom days, that of fashionably immoderate peals of laughter, which took the place of the impassive calm of the present. One day, when Kate Perry dined there alone, Miss Berry told certain anecdotes of by-gone ladies of fashion. Lady Mary Coke was one of these, and she described her talking of the Empress Maria Theresa:
'I remember the manner that creature treated me,' said Lady Mary Coke. 'Why, what did she do?' asked Miss Berry. Do! why, she gave me for dinner chickens black at the bone. What do you think she gave me for supper?— chickens black at the bone; and what' (raising her voice) 'do you think she gave me for breakfast ?-chickens black at the bone!'
By this time Miss Berry said she herself was in such fits of laughter that she leant up against the chimney-piece and hid her face in her hands, and Mrs. Damer coming in thought she was in hysterics or that Lady Mary had said something offensive. All Miss Berry could utter was-pointing at Lady Mary—' She is mad, ask her what she had to eat at Lecidè.'
Here is a memorandum of something Miss Kate Perry heard at the Miss Berrys' one day when she was not alone with them. One of the gentlemen present had just met the Duke of Wellington at dinner, where the Duke had been speaking of Masséna and of Marshal Soult. He had said, 'When I was opposed to Masséna I had neither time to eat or to sleep or to rest, but with Marshal Soult before me I ate and slept and had plenty of leisure.' Then he added: 'All the same he was a great general, there was no one who could move ten thousand men with greater skill from one place to another or bear on a point with greater rapidity, but'-he added
-' when he got the men there he did not know what to do with them!' The Duke must have said this more than once, for the story is to be found in other memoirs of the time. Miss Berry in earlier days had been introduced to Napoleon, and her memoirs contain an amusing description of him and of his court. Mrs. Dawson Damer had gone to Paris in order to present a bust of Fox which she had wished to offer to him; Miss Berry accompanied her. The two ladies were somewhat disconcerted when he only spoke to them of the opera and made no allusion whatever to the gift.
Impressions vary. A friend, who used as a very young girl to be taken to Curzon Street by her mother, has described to the writer the weary hours during which she sat there silent in a corner, while the elders were discoursing-'not laughing' she said in answer to my question-'quite the contrary.' Miss Berry on her carved chair sat upright, never leaning back; stout and dignified, with a large cap ornamented by a bow of ribbon. No one ever contradicted her, everyone bowed before her and accepted her views, whatever they might be. So much for the impressions of fourteen impatiently waiting for life!
Miss Perry's notes continually dining and sleeping at the Miss Berrys'-Miss Agnes's health had been breaking a little, she says, but she never would confess she was not well; with her complete unselfishness of character, her thoughts were so occupied with others that she had no time to devote to herself.
With all her kind-heartedness [the Diary continues], she had considerable clearness and acuteness of perception: Thackeray always maintained she was the most naturally gifted of the two sisters. At times she had an irritability of manner without more meaning in it than the rustling of the leaves of an old elm tree when the wind passes over it. On one particular evening Mr. Kinglake was interesting us all by his eloquent description of the Greek Church and its magnificent services; my carriage was announced, I could hardly tear myself away. 'I do pity you very much,' Miss Agnes said, 'for having to leave us; we are all very good company to-night.' Miss Agnes appeared in better health and spirits than she had been for a long time; but the next day her health began visibly to decline.
She lingered on till the middle of January. She begged her friends to come as usual: 'It was less dull for poor Mary,' she said. The last evening of her life she asked who was below. 'Go down,' she said to Kate Perry, and give my love to them all, and tell my dear friend Eöthen not to be anxious about me.' And then, in the early morning, her gentle spirit passed away.
After a time the light was again placed in the doorway, as a signal that Miss Berry could receive her friends once more. They gathered round, but the light burnt dimly, the gaiety and spirit seemed quenched now that the kind Agnes was gone. We all knew that it was the union of the two sisters which formed the peculiar charm of these evenings in Curzon Street.
The things which are, certainly gain extraordinarily by things which have been-so far-reaching a chord is that of everyday life.
The first sentence of the lecture on the 'Four Georges' concerns Miss Mary Berry:
A very few years since [my father writes], I knew familiarly a lady who had been asked in marriage by Horace Walpole, who had been patted on the head by George III. This lady had knocked at Dr. Johnson's door, had been intimate with Fox, the beautiful Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire, and that brilliant Whig society of the reign of George III.; had known the Duchess of Queensberry, the patroness of Gay and Prior, the admired young beauty of the Court of Queen Anne. I often thought, as I took my kind old friend's hand, how with it I held on to the old society of wits. . . .
This was written about 1860, and some ten years before that time my father had taken us as children one day to the little house in Mayfair where the Miss Berrys had lived since 1830 --that No. 8 of which their friend the witty Lady Morley wrote so affectionately, at whose door it was a pleasure to find oneself knocking. I remember my father knocking at the door and pointing out the iron extinguishers on either side of it which had served for the torches which once flared, which lighted the dazzling past company that used to climb the narrow staircase. We were shown into a little grey drawing-room giving on the street, and thither presently came a little grey lady; a tiny woman, daintily dressed in grey; she wore a white lace cap and a white muslin tippet, fastened by a pink satin knot, she seemed grave and rather hurried and preoccupied- My sister is not well, we must not see our friends to-day; please come again,' she said, or words to that effect, and then as she spoke she looked up at my father with a gentle confident glance and a certain expression of arch composure which I think I can still recognise in the portrait of the younger of the girls in Zoffany's picture.
ALMS FOR OBLIVION.
BY RICHARD GARNETT, C.B., LL.D.
DIPLOMACY IN THE TENTH CENTURY.
Time hath, my lord, a wallet on his back,
Troilus and Cressida.
THE mediæval period has left us few more racy and entertaining documents than the Lombard bishop Luitprand's narrative of his mission to the Court of the Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, A.D. 968. This pre-eminence is not so much due to any especial literary merit of the writer, the most lettered and polished of his age, but whose learning rather than his taste was in advance of its standard, as to his character as an unconscious humorist of the Pepys class, a man wittier than he knows, and facetious at his own expense. It is also of much value as a delineation of the Byzantine Court from a hostile point of view, and as affording a glimpse of modern European diplomacy in its infancy. The dignity of classical times had been overlaid under the Roman Empire by a thick coat of servility, upon which the disasters of later times superinduced a thicker coat of barbarism. Yet diplomatic traditions survived, which in the tenth century gradually struggle to light, though the rudeness of the age frequently inspires sovereigns and ambassadors with what we should now deem a most undiplomatic frankness.
Luitprand, or Liudprand, was born in Lombardy about 920. Having embraced the ecclesiastical profession, his studies qualified him for those public employments which could be discharged only by men of education, a character in that age nearly synonymous with the clerical, and most commonly not even with that. Luitprand had influential relatives, who pushed him forward, and he himself, though his natural parts were obscured by the barbarism of the times, was a man of genuine literary instinct. In 949 he greatly extended his knowledge of literature and of the world by a