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most generous Friendship that ever animated two human Beings.

“I am aware that when I am gone these letters can interest nobody. I am aware that they are almost entirely expressions of character and of affection. But I cannot ask my own hands to destroy the flattering proofs of having been the object of such affection, of such constant, unwearied, unselfish Friendship. Would that the conscious pride with which I look back to these recollections was entirely unsullied by my not having borne with sufficient patience in later years some weaknesses and peculiarities which I felt indignant at creeping over such a character as Hers !

“Oh noble, elevated, and tender Spirit ! if, from some higher state of existence, thou canst read my inmost Soul, as thou ever didst in this—Read then my self-reproaches. Read the just punishment of such impatience, in the entirely widowed Soul that has thus long survived Thee, wandering through the world--without a second and without a judge.'”1

Most interesting, too, is the correspondence, also printed for the first time, between Mary Berry, Mrs. Damer, and General Charles O'Hara, written when Mary Berry was engaged to the soldier. “This parcel of letters," Mary Berry wrote in October 1844, "relates to the six happiest months of my long and insignificant existence, although these six months were accompanied by fatiguing and unavoidable uncertainty, and by the absence of everything that could constitute present enjoyment. But I looked forward to a future existence which I felt, for the first time would have called out all

" Add. MSS. 37727, 1. 1.

the powers of my mind and all the warmest feelings of my heart, and should have been supported by one who but for the cruel absence which separated us, would never have for a moment doubted that we should have materially contributed to each other's happiness. These prospects served even to pass cheerfully a long winter of delays and uncertainty, by keeping my mind firmly riveted on their accomplishment. A concatenation of unfortunate circumstances - the political state of Europe making absence a necessity, and even frequent communication impossible; letters lost and delayed, all certainty of meeting more difficult, questions unanswered, doubts unsatisfied, -all these circumstances combined in the most unlucky manner, crushed the fair fabric of my happiness, not at one fell swoop, but by the slow mining misery of loss of confidence, of unmerited complaints, of finding by degrees misunderstandings, and the firm rock of mutual confidence crumbling under my feet, while my bosom for long could not banish a hope that all might yet be set right. And so it would, had we ever met for twenty-four hours. But he remained at his government at Gibraltar till his death, in 1802. And I, forty-two years afterwards, on opening these papers which had been sealed up ever since, receive the conviction that some feelings in some minds are indelible.”

An introductory chapter tells the story of the life of the Misses Berry from their birth until 1790, when the hitherto unpublished correspondence begins, and it contains some particulars of their family history, their early years, their first visits to the Continent, and their acquaintance with Horace Walpole. From that date the letters have been allowed, so far as possible, to carry on the narrative.

The sisters lived, respectively, to the great ages of eighty-eight and eighty-nine, and thus were the last links between the early years of the reign of George III and the mid-Victorian era. “A very few years since," Thackeray said in one of his lectures on “The Four Georges,” “I knew familiarly a lady, who had been asked in marriage by Horace Walpole, who had been patted on the head by George III. This lady had knocked at Johnson's door ; had been intimate with Fox, the beautiful Georgina of Devonshire, and that brilliant Whig society of the reign of George III ; had known the Duchess of Queensberry, the patroness of Gay and Prior, the admired young beauty of the Court of Queen Anne. I often thought as I took my kind old friend's hand, how with it I held on to the old society of wits and men of the world. I could travel back for seven score years of time—have glimpses of Brummel, Selwyn, Chesterfield, and the men of pleasure; of Walpole and Conway; of Johnson, Reynolds, Goldsmith; of North, Chatham, Newcastle ; of the fair maids of honour of George Il's Court; of the German retainers of George I's; where Addison was Secretary of State ; where Dick Steele held a place; whither the great Marlborough came with his fiery spouse ; when Pope, and Swift, and Bolingbroke yet lived and wrote.” The Berrys went everywhere and knew everyone; and their salon, held first at No. 26 North Audley Street, and later at No. 8 Curzon Street, was one of the features of London society. There night after night were assembled all the wit and beauty of that time. Miss Kate Perry wrote in her privately-printed Reminiscences of a London Drawing-room, “There was a charm about these gatherings of friends, that hereafter we may say: 'There is no salon now to compare with that of the Miss Berrys.'

Besides the Journals and Correspondence now in the British Museum, the principal authorities for the life of Mary and Agnes Berry are the Diary of Lord Colchester ; Thomas Moore's Journals ; Letters to Ivy from the first Earl of Dudley ; Harriet Martineau's Biographical Portraits ; Lord Houghton's Monographs; Horace Walpole's Letters, and Warburton's Memoir of Horace Walpole and his Contemporaries ; Letters of Harriet, Countess Granville ; Cobbett's Memorials of Twickenham ; Clayden's Samuel Rogers and his Contemporaries ; Mrs. Brookfield and her Circle ; Horace Walpole's Twin-Wives (Temple Bar, March 1891); and Captain Hamilton's Cyril Thornton.

I am much indebted to Mrs. Charles H. E. Brookfield for the loan of a copy of Miss Kate Perry's privately-printed and exceedingly rare Reminiscences of a London Drawing-room, which contains much interesting information concerning the Berrys; and to Mr. A. M. Broadley, who has most generously permitted me to insert letters hitherto unpublished from the Countess of Albany, Maria Edgeworth, and Lord Jeffery, to Mary Berry; and from Mary Berry to Lady Hardwicke, Elizabeth Montagu, Mrs. Lamb, and Kate Perry, the originals of which are in his library. To the Rev. Henry W. Clark, the author of the admirable History of English Nonconformity, I owe many thanks for assistance rendered during the preparation of this work.


LONDON, July 1913

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