Page images





HE social position of Mr. Buchanan and his niece in Eng.

land can be described only by making extracts from letters. Miss Lane joined her uncle in London in the spring of 1854, and remained with him until the autumn of 1855. American minister at the English court, at periods of exciting and critical questions between the two nations, is very likely to experience a considerable variation in the social barometer. But the strength of Mr. Buchanan's character, and the agree able personal qualities which were in him united with the gravity of years and an experience of a very uncommon kind, overcame at all times any tendency to social unpleasantness that might have been caused by national feelings excited by temporary causes. Letters written by Miss Lane from England to her sister Mrs. Baker have been placed in my hands. From such letters, written in the freedom of sisterly affection, I can take but very few extracts. Many most eligible opportunities occurred which might have fixed the fate of this young lady away from her own land; and it appears from one of her uncle's letters that after her return to America a very exalted personage expressed regret that she had not been “detained ” in England. It was entirely from her own choice that she was not.


56 HARLEY STREET, London, Friday Feb. 9, 1855. I have no letter from you, dearest sister, since I last wrote, but shall continue my fortnightly correspondence, though my letters are written so hastily that they are not what they should be. We are luxuriating in a deep snow, with a prospect of being housed, as nobody thinks of sleighing in England

indeed there are no sleighs. I returned home on Friday last, and really spent four weeks near Liverpool most happily, and truly regretted when our charm. ing trio was broken up—we were so joyous and happy together. Mr. and Mrs. Brown and Miss Hargraves came up with me, and Laly, after remaining a few days at the hotel, came to stay with me. She will remain until Thursday, and is a sweet, dear girl.

To my great regret Mr. Welsh talks of going to the United States on the 24th. I hope he may yet change his mind, for I shall miss bim so much, as there is no one in the legation I can call upon with the same freedom as I do on him. Our secretary is not yet appointed; it is said Mr. Appleton has received an offer of the place; if he should come, uncle will be perfectly satisfied, as he was his first choice. The Lawrences talk of going upon the continent in March. ...... Mr. Mason continues to get better, but I would not be surprised to hear of their anticipated return, as I am sure his health would be much better in Virginia than in Paris. ...

They have had great trouble here in forming a new ministry, and I am sorry Lord Aberdeen has gone out, as he is a great friend of the United States, and Lord Palmerston, the new prime minister, is not. London is still dull, but begins to fill up more since Parliament is in session. The war affects everything; there are no drawing-rooms announced as yet, and it is doubted whether there will be any, at least until after Easter. The queen returns to town the middle of this month. Uncle is well, and seems to escape the cold that is so prevalent. There are few Americans here now, and the “ Arctic” will deter them from crossing in such numbers to the World's Fair in Paris in May. We have had canvas-back duck sent us lately, and it really takes one quite home again. How you would have enjoyed them. Do you have them in California ? Mr. still continues in London. He has called since my return, but unfortunately I was not at home; however I like his remaining so long in London with no other attraction,

was in London for two hours the other day, and passed one here. His sister continues very ill. Do write me often, dear sister. I dare say your time is much occupied now, but send a few lines.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

March 20, 1855. I did not send you a letter last week, dear sister, for I was not very well and writing fatigued me. I am much better now, and as the weather has become much milder, I hope my cold will pass entirely off. I have your letters of Dec. 31st and Jan. 15th, and think you have indeed been lucky in presents. There is not much of that among grown persons here; they keep Christmas gaily, and the children receive the presents.

Every thing is worn in Paris standing out. Skirts cannot be too full and stiff; sleeves are still open, and basque bodies, either open in front or closed; flounces are very much worn. I had some dresses made in Paris that I wish you could see.

Uncle wrote you ten days ago, direct to California. He is in good health and spirits, and likes much to hear from you. We have dined with the queen since I wrote. Her invitations are always short, and as the court was in mourning and I had no black dress, one day's notice kept me very busy..... I ought to have black dresses, for the court is often in mourning, and you know I belong to it; but the season being quiet, I did not expect to go out to any court parties. The queen was most gracious, and talked a great deal to me. Uncle sat upon her right hand, and Prince Albert was talkative, and altogether we passed a charming evening. The Princess-Royal came in after dinner, and is simple, unaffected, and very child-like—her perfect simplicity and sweet manners are charming. Every thing of course was magnificent at the table-gold in profusion, twelve candelabras with four candles each; but you know I never can describe things of this sort. With mirrors and candles all around the room, a band of delicious music playing all the time, it was a little like fairy-land in its magnificence. We had another band after dinner, wliile we took tea. Every thing is unsettled here about the war and the ministry, and, really, England seems in a bad way at present. It is positively stated that the Emperor Napoleon is going to the Crimea, in opposition to the advice of all his friends.

March 23, 1855. I have your bright, cheerful letter of Jan. 31st, dear sister, and rejoice in your good spirits. I have not been quite well for a few weeks, suffering from cold-the weather has been so dreadful—so that I have gone out but little ; indeed, there seems to be a gloom over everything in the gay line this year. Archbishop Hughes dined with us on his way to the United States. He spoke of remembering me in Washington at uncle's, where he never saw me, and of course it was you. We have given one large dinner this year, and I am sorry it is time for them to commence. Our old butler, Cates, was ill at the time, and on last Tuesday the honest old creature died. We all felt it very much, as he was a capital servant, and so faithful—my right-hand man. We dined two and twenty on the 10th, English and Americans, and it passed off very well. Wednesday was "fast-day," and universally unpopular. They said, “ we fast for the gross mismanagement by the ministers of our affairs in the Crimea," and all such things. There is great satisfaction at the czar's death, and not the same respect paid by the court here that there was in France. Mr. Appleton, our new Secretary, has arrived, and will be presented to her Majesty on Monday. On Thursday, the 29th, will be the first drawing-room. I shall not go. It will not be a full one, as it comes before Easter, and it is rumored that the Emperor and Empress of the French are coming in April. Unless required to present Americans, I shall not go to more than two this year. It is so expensive-one cannot wear the same dress twice. There are usually four during the season.

I have given up all idea of returning home before June, and most likely not until uncle does in October; but I highly approve of your plan to pay us a visit upon our return. As to my going to California, you know how I should


like it for your sake, but uncle would never hear of my taking such a journey It is different with you; you return to see every one.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

APRIL 20th, 1855. I have yours of February 28th, and am delighted to hear you are so snug and comfortable. Uncle positively talks of my return in June, and he has really been so good and kind that if he thinks it best, I must not oppose it. He is not going to charge me with any money I have drawn, makes me present of my visit here, and has gratified me in every thing. He gives up his house on the 7th of July, and will go to some place in the country, near London. If he kept it until October, he would have to pay for several months more, and it will economize a little to give it up — every thing is so enormous here. I hope you have better luck about getting to church, as I think you have been living very like a heathen. Much obliged for the postage stamps. There are some alterations in the postage law lately; every thing must be prepaid.

The emperor and empress arrived here on Monday last, and went immediately to Windsor. All London is mad with excitement and enthusiasm, and wherever they move throngs of people follow them. Yesterday they came to Buckingham Palace, and went into the city to be present at a magnificent entertainment at Guildhall. There never was such a crowd seen. In the afternoon at five they received the diplomatic corps at the French Embassy, and I had a long talk with her Majesty, who was most gracious and affable. She is very striking, elegant and graceful. She wore a green silk, flounced to the waist with seven or eight white lace flounces, white lace mantle, and white crape

bonnet and feathers. We go to the palace to-night to an evening party, and there I shall even have a better opportunity of seeing them. I was disappointed in the emperor's appearance-be is very short. Last night they accompanied the queen, in state, to the opera, and there was a grand illumination all over the city. I drove out to see it, but there was such a crush of carriages, men, women and children, that I was glad to get home. They were asking from fifty to one hundred guineas for boxes at the opera, and from ten to forty for single stalls. To-morrow the imperial guests depart, and London will again return to its sober senses. There does not seem to be much gaiety in prospect, but really this visit seems to be the only thing thought of. The Masons are not coming to pay me a visit. Betty has gone to Nice with her father, for his health. It is said the queen will go to Paris at the opening of the exposition in May. Ellen Ward's marriage is postponed until the fifth of June, by her father's request. Mr. T. writes he has taken a state-room on the Baltic, which was to sail on the 18th. He has talked of this visit so long that I would not be surprised to hear it ended in nothing. Lu has every thing planned and fixed and destined to take place just as she wishes

, even that I am to be married in my travelling dress and very quietly. I was at the Crystal Palace on Tuesday, which is truly the most fairy-like and exquisitely beautiful thing that could be made. The royal party go there

to-day. The building far exceeds in magnificence the one erecting now in Paris. Mr. has lost his favorite sister, and is in great distress, so I have not seen him for a time. I have made another conquest, who comes in the true American style, every day. He is rich and keeps a yacht, which costs him £2000 a year. Beaux are pleasant, but dreadfully troublesome.

[ocr errors]

May 3d, 1855. I have yours, dear sister, of March 16th, and really your account of the failures and rascals among your Californians is quite frightful.

London is looking up in the way of gaiety, though the war is still a sad weight upon many hearts. Yesterday (Wednesday) I attended the second drawing-room of the season. You remember I was not quite well at the first, and did not go. It was a very full and brilliant one. I wore a pink silk petticoat, over-skirts of pink tulle, puffed, and trimmed with wreaths of apple blossoms; train of pink silk, trimmed with blonde and apple blossoms, and so was the body. Head-dress, apple blossoms, lace lappits and feathers.* There will be one more in celebration of the birth-day on the 19th. Her Majesty was very gracious to me yesterday, as was also the prince. On Wednesday next there is to be a state ball at Buckingham Palace, which we shall of course attend. On Monday Mrs. Shapter and I ran down to Brighton on the sea-side, and returned on Tuesday night. We enjoyed it very much, and I am sure the change was beneficial to both. I had two splendid rides upon horseback along the water. Mrs. Shapter goes away for a week on Saturday, and I shall miss her dreadfully. You have doubtless heard of the attempt to assassinate the Emperor Napoleon since his return from London. The diplomatic corps are invited to be present at the singing of the Te Deum in the chapel of the French Embassy on Sunday next, in celebration of the emperor's escape. ... I have seen

and he ordered his gardener to send me from the country all the roses he had in bloom, for the drawing-room. Preceding the box came a sweet little note, which I of course answered in a tender way.

the man of the yacht, is getting quite desperate, as he is ordered to join his regiment for a month. He is constantly sending me flowers, and after his visit to-day, despatched a magnificent bouquet. He is fellow, and I really am sorry.

Uncle of course knows and sees every one who comes to the house, and places such confidence in me that he gives himself no uneasiness. I have as many beautiful flowers now, as my


* On their return home from that drawing-room, Mr. Buchanan said to his piece : “Well, a person would have supposed you were a great beauty, to have heard the way you were talked of to-day. I was asked if we had many such handsome ladies in America. I answered, 'Yes, and many much handsomer. She would scarcely be remarked there for her beauty.' "" This anecdote is taken from a book published at New York in 1870, entitled, LADIES OF THE WHITE House, by Laura Carter Holloway. Deducting a little from the somewhat gushing style in which the biographical sketches in this book are written, it is reliable in its main facts, and it does no more than justice to Miss Lane's attractions and to the high consideration in which she was held in English society.

« EelmineJätka »