Thursday, January 24, 2013

Lady Hester Stanhope on...Political Hostesses' Hospitality


Lady Hester Stanhope was not a woman to hold her tongue, which was only more apparent when her doctor (and close friend) released her memoirs in 1845 - which was more like his memoirs of her.  In it, William Pitt's niece remembered the various environments created by the great political hostesses of the time:

"'I remember too what a heavy, dull business the Duchess of R[utland]'s parties were - the rooms so stuffed with people that one could not move, and all so heavy - a deal of high breeding and bon ton; but there was, somehow nothing to enliven you.  Now and then some incident would turn up to break the spell.

Now, at the Duchess of Gordon's there were people of the same fashion, and the crowd was just as great; but then she was so lovely, and everybody was animated, and seemed to know so well what they were about - quite another thing.

As for the Duchess of D[evonshire]'s, there they were - all that set - all yawning, and wanting the evening to be spent, that they might be getting to the business they were after.'
It may be mentioned that Lady Hester was always very  severe on the Duchess of D. and her friends, whenever her name or theirs was mentioned."'

4 comments:

  1. Golly! Lady Hester may not have liked tithe Duchess of Devonshire's hospitality, but oh! What I wouldn't give to have seen just one of her parties!

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  2. Um,do I have my history twisted?
    I thought Lady Stanhope was the eccentric who ran away to the middle east and wore pants?
    Different Stanhope?

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  3. Interesting! I would like to have been able to attend one of these parties.

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  4. Same Stanhope! She started out as a political hostess herself before her Indiana Jones adventures.

    I only wish there were more descriptions of these parties!

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