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taken away, so my uncle cut off the clasps, consisting of two large brass bees linked together by a serpent. This clasp and a book found in the carriage were left to me, and are also at Levens.
He left the Duchess of Richmond's ball the night before the battle, and had no time to change his dress, or even his shoes, before going into action. When he received orders to go to England with the despatches he posted to Antwerp, and there took the first sailing-boat he could find to convey him to Dover, where he landed in the afternoon. He found that a report of the victory had preceded him there. The Rothschilds had chartered a fast sloop to lie off Antwerp and bring the first news of the battle to the English shorenews which was to be used for Stock Exchange purposes.
My uncle's confirmation of the rumour of a great victory was received with the greatest relief and enthusiasm. At that time the hotel-keeper at Dover, a certain Mr Wright, had the monopoly of the posting arrangements between that port and London. He immediately placed his best horses at my uncle's disposal, and despatched an express to order fresh relays all along the road. Besides the despatches my uncle took the two captured eagles of the Imperial Guard with him. These, being too large to go into the carriage, were placed so as to stick out of the windows, one on each side. In this manner he drove straight
to the Horse Guards, where he learnt that the Commanderin-Chief, at that time the Duke of York, was dining out. He next proceeded to Lord Castlereagh's, and was told that he and the Duke of York were both dining with a lady in St James's Square. To this house he drove, and there learned that the Prince Regent was also of the dinner-party.
Requesting to be shown immediately into the dining-room, he entered that apartment bearing the despatches and the Imperial eagles with him. He was covered with dust and mud, and, though unwounded himself, bore the marks of battle upon his coat. The dessert was being placed upon the table when he entered, and as soon as the Prince Regent saw him he commanded the ladies to leave the room. The Prince Regent then held out his hand, saying, "Welcome, Colonel Percy." "Go down on one knee," said the Duke of York to my uncle, "and kiss hands for the step which you have obtained." Before the despatch could be read my uncle was besieged with inquiries after various prominent officers engaged, and had to answer "dead" or "severely wounded" so often that the Prince Regent burst into tears. The Duke of York, though greatly moved, was more composed.
By this time my uncle was exhausted from fatigue, and begged the Prince's permission to go to his father's house in Portman Square. The crowd was so great in St James'
Square that he had the greatest difficulty in getting through it, and reaching my grandfather's house, which was soon surrounded by anxious multitudes begging for news of relatives and friends. My uncle told them that the victory was complete, but that the number of killed and wounded was very large. He told them that he would answer more questions next morning.
He said that the agony of suspense and grief which he witnessed made him insensible to the joy and triumph of the victory, and that he could only think of the awful price at which it had been gained.
Lady Mornington told me that when she went to see the Duke of Wellington after the battle of Waterloo, and congratulated him, he put his hands before his face and sobbed, saying, “Oh, don't congratulate me! I have lost all my best friends."
As Rear-Admiral, my father was appointed to the command of the Cape of Good Hope Station in 1841. We sailed from Portsmouth on board the Winchester, my father's flagship. At that time the Brazils were included in the command of the Cape Station, and we spent some time in Rio Janeiro, where we were most hospitably entertained by the English Minister, Mr Hamilton. We made many long riding excursions through beautiful tropical scenery and vegetation, the orchids and air plants being most wonderful. For a fortnight we
rode all day and danced all night, and then left for the Cape of Good Hope, after vowing eternal friendship to many people at Rio whom we never saw again or heard of. We anchored in Simons Bay, and went to stay at Government House, with Sir George and Lady Napier, until the Admiralty House was ready for us.
Six months after this we went to Mauritius, to stay with the Governor, Sir William Gomm, and his wife. Port Louis in those days was very healthy, and we stayed both there and at Réduit, the Governor's country place. Mauritius was in my father's station, and the dinners and balls given for us were endless. The most interesting visit we paid was to an old
old French gentleman, a Monsieur Genève. He was over ninety, and had left France at the time of the Revolution. In manners, dress, and deportment he belonged to the ancien régime. He had a large property on the Black River, and when we arrived we were received by him and all his family under a large banyantree. There were pavillons or large huts, dotted about all over a big lawnone for my father, another for my sister and myself, and so on. The dining-room and drawing-room pavillon contained also Monsieur Genève's own rooms. a large village near were all his emancipated slaves, who were devoted to him and his family.
At Bourbon, whither we went after leaving Mauritius, we were
entertained by the French Admiral Bazoche, whom my father had fought in the old war. showed us the greatest hospitality, and he and my father, when we were not riding about the island, used to sit together and spin war yarns all day. I was sometimes called on to interpret between them. He gave a large official dinner in our honour, and at the end of it stood up and proposed the Queen of England's health.
We were to have gone on to Madagascar, but the French officials gave my father so alarming an account of the fever which they declared was raging there, that he did not like to expose us to it; so, much to my disappointment, the intention was abandoned. I have since thought that even in those days (1842) the French were jealous of English men-of-war visiting Madagascar, and that the authorities had orders to prevent my father visiting the island, and therefore exaggerated the danger from fear of our doing so.
The next cruise we took in the Winchester was up the West Coast of Africa. H.M.SS. Sappho, Thunderer, Bittern, and Conway accompanied the flagship, and every evening the Winchester lay-to during dinnertime, and the captains of the ships dined with us.
After we left Benguela, the officer of the watch came down to the fore-cabin while we were at luncheon, and said to my father
very raking masts-a slaver, probably.'
"Make all sail and chase her," ordered the Admiral. An officer came down to report at intervals how we were gaining upon the vessel. As we drew near her, a gun was fired from the Winchester, which was answered by another from the slaver. Our boats were then ordered out-the cutters and a launch, fully armed. On seeing this, the slaver went about, and tried to run for the mouth of a river on the coast; but she was soon overtaken, and had to surrender. The following morning, her captain was brought on board the Winchester, and my father saw him in the after-cabin. He was a handsome young Spaniard, and wore beautiful clothes, his coat being adorned with silver filigree buttons, and altogether he was clearly a great dandy. He and my father spoke together in Spanish, which I did not understand. He declared that the captain was not on board, and that he was merely the supercargo; but I believe that this subterfuge was always made.
I went on board the slavevessel with my father. captain's cabin was very smart. There were plenty of nice books in it, and every luxury, and his guitar, with blue ribbons tied to it, was lying upon a sofa. The slave-deck was a terrible sight, and I shall never forget it.
The miserable creatures were crowded on it, doubled up, with their knees touching their
"A sail in sight, sir, with chins. Twice a-day they were
ordered to the upper-deck, for the sake of the fresh air, and to prevent them dying, which many tried to do in order to escape from their miseries. If they were unable to rise from their cramped position and walk, they were flogged unmercifully until they did so. This slaver was "condemned," and sent to Sierra Leone, and the slaves, of course, liberated. I remember hearing that if liberated slaves fell into the hands of the Boers at the Cape, they were so cruelly treated that they preferred their days of slavery, when they often found kind masters.
We had a black servant called "Jumbo." He was a Christian, and very intelligent, and we always heard that he had been a prince in his own country. He could recollect the agony of being torn from his home and sold in the Brazils as a slave. Whenever a slaver was condemned, Jumbo so far forgot his civilisation as to dance his native war-dance and sing with joy. He came to England with us, but could not stand the cold, and, moreover, he was terrified when he saw the steam of his breath on a cold day, because he thought his inside was on fire! We sent him back to the Cape of Good Hope to Admiral Dacres, who succeeded my father at Simons Bay, and were very sorry to part with him.
Sir James Ross and Captain Crozier, in H.M.SS. Erebus and Terror, anchored in Simons Bay on their way home to England from their Antarctic
explorations. My father asked them to stay at the Admiralty House while they were there, and they remained some time with us.
Sir James Ross and Captain Crozier were the dearest of friends, attached to each other by their mutual tastes, and by the dangers and hardships they had shared. Their hands shook so much that they could scarcely hold a glass or a cup. Sir James Ross took me in to dinner one evening, and said: "You see how our hands shake? One night in the Antarctic Circle did that for us both. There was a heavy sea running, and a fearful gale. Icebergs were all round us, and in front of us a wall of ice, for a rent in which we knew we must steer in order to find the passage through it. It was a pitch dark night, and we could only guess where the gap in the icewall was by seeing one part look blacker than the rest. Both Erebus and Terror steered for the blackest bit. We could not see each other for a long time, and each of us thought we had run the other down."
Sir James told me that this episode had shaken their nerves more than any other peril of that perilous voyage. Captain Crozier told me that on neither of their ships had any one been ailing, but at Simons Bay many of them fell ill, and suffered terribly from the heat, though it was winter at the time of their visit.
After our return to England, my my father was subsequently made Commander-in-Chief at
the Nore, which post he held till 1854. In the meantime I had married, and my naval experiences came to an end.
I well recollect Talleyrand. On one occasion, Lord Westminster gave what was then called a breakfast, at Moor Park. King William IV. and Queen Adelaide were there, and the Corps Diplomatique came down from London to it. We children were sent to play in the garden while the party were at luncheon, and were illmannered enough to flatten our noses against the dining-room windows to see what was going on inside.
The King saw us, and asked my father whose children we were, and, to his annoyance, he had to reply that we were his own. The King sent for my brother and myself, and kept us beside him, giving us ices and fruit, and was extremely kind to us. My father told me to look well at M. de Talleyrand, who was sitting opposite, as when I grew older I should read a great deal about him. He was deadly pale, and looked like a death's head. I also well remember Madame de Gontaut at The Grove, Lord Clarendon's place. She was a most amiable and amusing old lady.
I was present with my mother at the Queen's coronation in Westminster Abbey. We had to be in our places in the Abbey in low dresses, at four o'clock in the morning. I "came out" at the ball given at Stafford House on the night of the Queen's
marriage, and danced with old Lord Huntly, who made a point of dancing with every débutante because he had danced with Marie Antoinette!
In the summer of 1847 my husband and I stayed in Grosvenor Square with his grandmother, Lady Mornington, in order that I might make acquaintance with the Wellesley family. My mother - in - law, Lady Mary Bagot, Lady Mornington's daughter, was dead, but while we were there the Duke of Wellington, Gerald Wellesley, who became Dean of Windsor, and Lord Cowley, our ambassador in Paris, were frequent visitors in the house. Having been brought up by my father to think of the Duke of Wellington as the greatest man living, or who ever lived, I naturally felt very shy of him.
Lady Westmorland, my husband's aunt, asked night to go with her to her box at the opera, as my husband was on guard that night. The Duke came with us, and Lady Westmorland told him that I was very frightened of him, so he took my hand and held it throughout the first act of the opera, which only made me still more shy! However, my fear of him soon passed, and I asked him for a piece of his hair, and also for some of that of his famous charger, "Copenhagen," the horse he rode at Waterloo. Lady Mornington had already given me some of his hair as a young man, and next morning his valet brought me a packet containing his hair as an old