May.—Some months have elapsed since I noted down a line in this book. Indisposition and its usual attendants, languor and lassitude, have caused me to throw it by. Time that once rolled as pleasantly as rapidly along, seems now to pace as slowly as sadly; and even the approach of spring, that joyous season never before unwelcomed, now awakens only painful recollections. Who can see the trees putting forth their leaves without a dread that, ere they have yet expanded into their full growth, some one may be snatched away who with us hailed their first opening verdure?
When once Death has invaded our hearths and torn from us some dear object on whose existence our happiness depended, we lose all the confidence previously fondly and foolishly experienced in the stability of the blessings we enjoy, and not only deeply mourn those lost, but tremble for those yet spared to us. I once thought that I could never behold this genial season without pleasure; alas! it now occasions only gloom.
Captain William Anson, the brother of Lord Anson, dined here yesterday. He is a very remarkable young man; highly distinguished in his profession, being considered one of the best officers in the navy, and possessing all the accomplishments of a finished gentleman. His reading has been extensive, and his memory is very retentive. He has been in most quarters of the globe, and has missed no opportunity of cultivating his mind and of increasing his stock of knowledge. He is, indeed, a worthy descendant of his great ancestor, who might well be proud of such a scion to the ancient stock. Devoted to the arduous duties of his profession, he studies every amelioration in it con amore; and, if a long life be granted to him, will prove one of its brightest ornaments.
The Marquis and Marquise de B—— spent last evening here, and several people dropped in. Among them was the pretty Madame de la H——, as piquant and lively as ever, as content with herself (and she has reason to be so, being very good-looking and amusing) and as careless of the suffrages of others. I like the young and the gay of my own sex, though I am no longer either.
Prince Paul Lieven and Captain Cadogan dined here yesterday. The first is as spirituel and clever as formerly, and the second is as frank, high-spirited, and well-bred—the very beau ideal of a son of the sea, possessing all the attributes of that generous race, joined to all those said to be peculiar to the high-born and well-educated.
I like the conversation of such men—men who, nursed in the lap of luxury, are sent from the noble dwellings of their sires to be “cabined, cribbed, confined,” in (to my thinking) the most unbearable of all prisons—a ship; pass months and years exposed to hardships, privations, and dangers, from the endurance of which even the poor and lowly born often shrink, and bring back to society the high breeding and urbanity not to be surpassed in those whose lots have been exempt from such trials; and, what is still more precious, the experience and reflection acquired in their perilous profession, and in the many hours of solitude and anxiety that appertain to it.