A Letter from Mrs. Creevey to Mr. Creevey in London.
“. . . Oh, this wicked Pavillion! we were there till past one this morng., and it has kept me in bed with the headache till 12 to-day. . . . The invitation did not come to us till 9 o’clock: we went in Lord Thurloe’s carriage but the Prince did not come out of the dining-room till 11. Till then our only companions were Lady Downshire and Mr. and Miss Johnstone—the former very goodnatured and amiable. . . . When the Prince appeared, I instantly saw he had got more wine than usual, and it was still more evident that the German Baron was extremely drunk. The Prince came up and were in fear of being too late; sat by me—introduced McMahon to me, and talked a great deal about Mrs. Fitzherbert—said she had been ‘delighted’ with my note, and wished much to see me. He asked her ‘When?’—and he said her answer was —’ Not till you are gone, and I can see her comfortably.’ I suppose this might be correct, for Mac told me he had been ‘worrying her to death’ all the morning.
“It appears to me I have found a true friend in Mac* He is even more foolish than I expected; but I shall be disappointed if, even to you, he does not profess himself my devoted admirer.
“Afterwards the Prince led all the party to the table where the maps lie, to see him shoot with an air-gun at a target placed at the end of the room. He did it very skilfully, and wanted all the ladies to attempt it. The girls and I excused ourselves on account of our short sight; but Lady Downshire hit a fiddler in the dining-room, Miss Johnstone a door and Bloomfield the ceiling. … I soon had enough of this, and retired to the fire with Mac … At last a waltz was played by the band, and the Prince offered to waltz with Miss Johnstone, but very quietly, and once round the table made him giddy, so of course it was proper for his partner to be giddy too; but he cruelly only thought of supporting himself, so she reclined on the Baron.”
Sunday, Nov. 3, 1805. “And so I amuse you by my histories. Well! I am glad of it, and it encourages me to go on; and yet I can tell you I could tire of such horrors as I have had the last 3 evenings. I nevertheless estimate them as you do, and am quite disposed to persevere. The second evening was the worst. We were in the diningroom (a comfortless place except for eating and drinking in), and sat in a circle round the fire, which (to indulge you with ‘detail’) was thus arranged. Mrs. F(itzherbert] in the chimney corner (but not knitting), next to her Lady Downshire—then Mrs. Creevey— then Geoff—then Dr. [erased]—then Savory—then Warner—then Day, vis-a-vis his mistress, and most of the time snoring like a pig and waking for nothing better than a glass of water, which he call’d for, hoping, I think, to be offered something better. . .
Last night was better; it was the same party only instead of Savory, a Col. or Major Watley [?] of the Gloster Militia, and the addition of Mrs. Morant, an old card-playing woman. . . . Mrs. Fitz shone last night very much in a sketch she gave me of the history of a very rich Russian woman of quality who is coming to Lord Berkeley’s house. She has been long in England, and is I suppose generally known in London, though new to me. She was a married woman with children, and of great consequence at the court of Petersburgh when Lord Whitworth was there some years ago. He was poor and handsome—she rich and in love with him, and tired of a very magnificent husband to whom she had been married at 14 years old. In short, she kept my Lord, and spent immense sums in doing so and gratifying his great extravagance. In the midst of all this he return’d to England, but they corresponded, and she left her husband and her country to come to him, expecting to marry him—got as far as Berlin, and there heard he was married to the Duchess of Dorset.
“She was raving mad for some time, and Mrs. F. describes her as being often nearly so now, but at other times most interesting, and most miserable. Her husband and children come to England to visit her, and Mrs. F. says she is an eternal subject of remorse to Lord Whitworth, whom she [Mrs. F] spoke of in warm terms as ‘a monster,’ and said she could tell me far more to make me think so. The story sometimes hit upon points that made her blush and check herself, which was to me not the least interesting part of it. . . . She laughed more last night than ever at the Johnstones—said he was a most vulgar man, but seem’d to give him credit for his good nature to his sister and his generosity. The Baron is preparing a phantasmagoria at the Pavillion, and she [Mrs. F] laughs at what he may do with Miss Johnstone in a dark room.”
* The Right Hon. John Macmahon, Private Secretary and Keeper of the Privy Purse to the Prince of Wales. Died in 1817.
Number One London’s 2019 Queen Victoria Tour will be visiting the Brighton Pavilion – find details here.