MISS EDEN’S LETTERS
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTIN’S STREET, LONDON
IT is difficult to express one’s gratitude. Mine I owe to my brother, R. E. Dickinson, to Mrs. Ernest Farquhar (granddaughter of Lady Theresa Lewis), to Sir Guy Campbell, Mrs. W. Rendel, and Sir Arthur Stanley, for the loan of letters in this book. I also thank Mr. Claud Paget and Mr. W. Barclay Squire for the help they have given me.
Doubtless, through want of experience, I have been guilty of leaving out much that might have been left in, and leaving in much that might not be of interest.
The pleasure of knowing Lady Campbell through her letters has been doubled by the kindness I have met with from her daughters, Mrs. Ellis and Mrs. Percy Wyndham.
Lord Cromer before his death in 1917 had been interested in reading these letters. It is due solely to his encouragement that they are now published, though lacking the Introduction he was good enough to offer to write.
A friend of mine read some of the proofs. I found on three occasions they induced sound sleep within a few minutes, which leads me to hope perhaps other readers may find them equally soothing.
IN the autumn of 1913 a Life of Lord Clarendon was published, and among many of his letters were a few written to him by an old friend, Miss Eden. It was thought that a further selection of Emily Eden’s letters might be of interest.
She was a keen politician of the Whig order, clever, amusing, critical, an excellent friend and a devoted sister. Her father, William Eden, was the third son of Sir Robert Eden, Bart., of West Auckland, Durham, and he married in 1776 Eleanor Elliot, a sister of the 1st Earl of Minto. Two years later, Eden went as a Commissioner to America. He was Chief Secretary in Ireland under Lord Carlisle; Minister-Plenipotentiary in 1785 to the Court of Versailles; in 1788 Ambassador to Spain, and in the following year Ambassador to Holland; he was given a peerage in 1789 (Baron Auckland). Mrs. Eden, from her own account, was evidently a first-rate traveller; she took great interest in her husband’s work, and she had a child, often amidst much discomfort, in every country to which they were sent.
Emily was born in 1797. Her parents were settled at Eden Farm, Beckenham, Kent, and her father now devoted his time to politics. Her mother took great trouble to rear and educate her family of fourteen, leaving a detailed account in her Diary of their upbringing, diseases and marriages. Evidently her sense of humour and cheerfulness helped her through much misery.
“Out of fourteen I suckled thirteen. Eleven of the children had smallpox during their wanderings, also cow-pox, whooping-cough, measles and scarlet fever.”
In 1786, Eden, who was then in Paris, wrote to his friend Lord Sheffield: “Mrs. Eden is just returned from passing nearly a week in the Circle and Society of the whole Court of Versailles without feeling a moment’s discomposure. It is impossible to describe to you all the glorious attentions with which she is honoured by the Queen of France, not only in presents, but in what she values more, in admiration of her children. She and the little Frenchman are both well, and we have now as many nations in our Nursery as were assembled at the Tower of Babel.” Another friend also wrote:
“Every report says Mrs. Eden’s Nursery is the admiration of the Court and the Town, that they make parties to see it, that she had made domestic life quite fashionable”; and there are constant allusions to the Brattery, the Light Infantry, and the little Parisians.
By her contemporaries Lady Auckland was known later in life as Haughty Nell, and the Judicious Hooker. Her eldest girl, Eleanor, was Pitt’s only love, but for various reasons, after a long correspondence between Pitt and Lord Auckland, the affair came to an end, and Eleanor in 1799 married Lord Hobart, who became Secretary of State for War and the Colonies in 1801, and succeeded his father as Earl of Buckinghamshire in 1804.
Lord Auckland died suddenly at Eden Farm in 1814. Lady Auckland only survived him four years. Six of their daughters had married, and the remaining two, Emily and Fanny, lived with their elder brother George, and went with him to India when he became Governor-General in 1835.
From an account given of herself in a letter to one of her friends, Emily had profited by the education she received from her mother. She had read Boswell’s Life of Johnson, the Memoires du Cardinal de Retz, Shakespeare, and knew a great part of the Bible almost by heart before she was eleven.
She took a strong interest in politics, but she was never happier than when living quietly at Greenwich with her brother, sketching, reading and gardening, and in 1835 the prospect of a five months’ sea journey to India, and being obliged to leave her sisters, friends, and interests, depressed and worried her.
On her return to England in 1842 she published her Portraits of the People and Princes of India. She also wrote Up the Country; Letters from India, edited by her niece; and two novels, The Semi-Detached House and The Semi-Attached Couple.
Three large volumes of her Water-colour Sketches were sold at Christie’s in 1907 and are now in the Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta.
The year 1849 proved to be one of the greatest sorrow to Miss Eden. Her brother, Lord Auckland, died quite suddenly in January, and three months later she lost her sister Fanny. For the next twenty years she divided her time between Eden Lodge, Kensington Gore, and a little cottage at Broadstairs, writing her books, and seeing many of her friends. Though she had become quite an invalid, her house still remained a centre of political interest. One of her nieces, Lena Eden, lived with her.
Among her most intimate friends were Mr. George Villiers (Lord Clarendon) and his sister Theresa, who married Mr. Lister of Armitage Park in 1830. He died twelve years later, and in 1844 she married George Cornewall Lewis, M.P.
Unfortunately, none of Lady Theresa’s letters to Miss Eden can be found. She had a most attractive and gifted nature; her family and friends were devoted to her. Kent House, Knightsbridge, in which she lived nearly all her life, was within a short walk of Eden Lodge.
Another great friend was Pamela, daughter of Lord and Lady Edward FitzGerald. Her father, the chief figure in the Irish Rebellion of ‘98, had married her mother, the beautiful and fascinating Pamela, six years previously. He died in Newgate Prison, Dublin, leaving three children, Edward, Pamela, and Lucy.
After his death a bill of