On the 10th of May, 1849, I visited Gore House for the last time. The auction was going on. There was a large assemblage of people of fashion. Every room was thronged; the well-known library-salon, in which the conversaziones took place, was crowded, but not with guests. The arm-chair in which the lady of the mansion was wont to sit was occupied by a stout, coarse gentleman of the Jewish persuasion, busily engaged in examining a marble hand extended on a book, the fingers of which were modeled from a cast of those of the absent mistress of the establishment. People, as they passed through the room, poked the furniture, pulled about the precious objects of art and ornaments of various kinds that lay on the table; and some made jests and ribald jokes on the scene they witnessed.
At this compulsory sale things went for less than half their value. Pictures by Lawrence and Landseer, a library consisting of thousands of volumes, vases of exquisite workmanship, chandeliers of ormolu, and precious porcelains—all were knocked down relentlessly at farcical prices. Lady Blessington reserved nothing for herself. She knew that the hour had struck, and very soon she was on her way to Paris, whither Count d’Orsay had already gone, having been threatened with arrest by a boot-maker to whom he owed five hundred pounds.
D’Orsay very naturally went to Paris, for, like his father, he had always been an ardent Bonapartist, and now Prince Louis Bonaparte had been chosen president of the Second French Republic. During the prince’s long period of exile he had been the guest of Count d’Orsay, who had helped him both with money and with influence. D’Orsay now expected some return for his former generosity. It came, but it came too late. In 1852, shortly after Prince Louis assumed the title of emperor, the count was appointed director of fine arts; but when the news was brought to him he was already dying. Lady Blessington died soon after coming to Paris, before the end of the year 1849.
Comment upon this tangled story is scarcely needed. Yet one may quote some sayings from a sort of diary which Lady Blessington called her “Night Book.” They seem to show that her supreme happiness lasted only for a little while, and that deep down in her heart she had condemned herself.
A woman’s head is always influenced by her heart; but a man’s heart is always influenced by his head.
The separation of friends by death is less terrible than the divorce of two hearts that have loved, but have ceased to sympathize, while memory still recalls what they once were to each other.
People are seldom tired of the world until the world is tired of them.
A woman should not paint sentiment until she has ceased to inspire it.
It is less difficult for a woman to obtain celebrity by her genius than to be pardoned for it.
Memory seldom fails when its office is to show us the tombs of our buried hopes.