Lady Louisa Conolly’s letters

March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm (books, history, news) (, , , , , , , )

Looking today for Lady Louisa Seymour (it’s a long story, but the National Portrait Gallery, London has photos of Maria Louisa Culme Seymour, née Smith with this unusual nomenclature for a baronet’s wife), I came across this FANTASTIC auction which occurred in December 2011:

You can read the full description at the auction house, Mealy’s, but here’s an abbreviated description:

Lady Louisa Connolly’s Transcript Letters Connolly (Lady Louisa) [Seymour (Lady Albert)] A very important collection of nine quarto volumes containing manuscript transcriptions of Lady Louisa’s letters 1759 – 1821, mostly to her brother and sisters (the celebrated Lennox family), with a few letters from other family members. The volumes strongly bound in half moroco on heavy marble boards, transcribed in the clear mid-19th Century hand of Lady Albert Seymour. As m/ss, w.a.f.
Lady Lousia was the wife of Thomas Connolly of Castletown House. She was a daughter of the third Duke of Richmond; her brother Charles Lennox, the fourth Duke, organised the celebrated Ball on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. One sister was married to Charles James Fox; another to Sir Charles Napier, historian of the Peninsular War, and another to the Duke of Leinster (hence Lord Edward Fitzgerald was her nephew).
[…]
* A most valuable and important historical collection, deserving of much further research. Some of the original Lennox letters have been sold at various times (including some at Mealy’s…) and other deposited in various libraries, but this is probably the most complete collection of their texts than exists anywhere else.
Provenance:
From the family of Lady Albert Seymour, who was great-niece of Louise Connolly, the daughter of Lady Sarah Napier.
Sold for €4200

oh! seeing these books I’m just salivating!

Some of Lady Louisa’s letters were published (edited by Brian Fitzgerald) as The Correspondence of Emily Duchess of Leinster, in three volumes back in the 1940s and 1950s. (Find the books at the National Library of Ireland.)

AMAZINGLY these books have been digitalized by the Irish Manuscripts Commission!!! Oh, fabulous (although I have the books):

vol 1 – Letters of Emily, Duchess of Leinster; James, 1st Duke of Leinster; Caroline Fox (Lady Holland)

vol. 2 – Letters of Lord Edward Fitzgerald; Lady Sarah Napier (née Lennox)

vol. 3 – Letters of Lady Louisa Conolly; William, Marquis of Kildare (2nd Duke of Leinster)

Click on the picture of Lady Louisa to get to the Irish Manuscripts Commission’s list of digitalized books.

Find portraits of the Conollys (note the spelling difference from Mealy’s!!) online at Castletown House.

* * *

Bonus Question: can you spot the incorrect information in the auction house’s description??

Oh, such mis-information makes me cringe! (Unfortunately, I have written such statements before…)

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Mystery Men

June 19, 2011 at 9:39 pm (books, entertainment, travel) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

So, to get back to the book I’ve been reading: Priviledge and Scandal, by Janet Gleeson tells the life story of Harriet Spencer, later Countess Bessborough. I remember when the book first came out (2006 in the US), and one reviewer was quite negative, calling it a rehash of Amanda Foreman’s biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire mainly because (since they were sisters) it covered much of the same territory. Poor Harriet; and poor Janet Gleeson. It is a very decent read; evidently quite what I am in the mood for, at present.

It helps that the time period is well in the period in which the Smiths (in general) lived and which I am writing about — the more I read, the more some small puzzle piece sometimes clicks into place.

Anyway, I was struck, reading about Granville Leveson Gower (Harriet’s lover, by whom she had two children) and also of his friendship with Henry Richard Vassell Fox, 3rd Lord Holland (nephew of Charles James Fox). Curious, I do wonder how much Jane Austen might have come across concerning either man, for their early friendship, as Gleeson tells of it, so reminds me of Darcy-Bingley.

I mentioned this in my earlier post, a little teaser. Read that one to get an idea of why I immediately thought “DARCY” when first encountering this description of how people sometimes thought him haughty.

And it’s also the description of his new-formed “Grand Tour” friendship with Holland that struck me. Read this description: “Holland had not until now numbered Granville among his close friends — Granville’s hauteur was alien to Holland’s outgoing ebullience. But being onboard ship for three months had smoothed Granville’s affectations and perhaps too make Holland less choosy about the company he kept. ‘I think Leveson much improved both in intellect manner etc., and has lost that reserve which however laudable and prudent always prevents my liking a man much — I fancy my reason for not liking in this instance … must originate from self love and that I cannot much esteem …’.”

So Leveson Gower got better upon acquaintance! Just like Darcy.

Now how much, and what type of information, Jane Austen might have heard about the man — men, if I include Lord Holland, which in his amiability rather reminded me of Mr Bingley, I perhaps can never say. A bit of a coincidence? Or, did some little news tidbit or  gossip once plant the seed for this seemingly unusual friendship between two “opposites”? Inspiration does come out of the blue sometimes…, and takes on consequences of its own, far outshining the original thought.

updated 6/26/11: Am reminded: From the mouth of Jane Austen, when asked if she had portrayed an individual: “she expressed a very great dread of what she called an ‘invasion of social proprieties.’ She said she thought it fair to note peculiarities, weaknesses and even special phrases but it was her desire to create not to reproduce ….” (See Deirdre le Faye Jane Austen : A Family Record p233)

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