August 6. [1869]

MS location unknown. Printed in Coleridge, Life 241-244

My dear Marianne-
The day went in this way yesterday—towards eleven o’clock there was a bell, and we all went down and wandered in the garden till everybody was assembled, then we went to M. Guizot’s study and had prayers, he reading a chapter of St. Matthew, and Mme. de Witt making a short prayer of it, ending with the Lord’s Prayer. Then came the post and breakfast, upon rissoles, fried potatoes, fruit and vin ordinaire, with a tiny cup of tea or coffee at the end, after which we had a walk in the wood, came back and sat under the catalpa tree at work till four, which is the time for the goûter, a funny little luncheon on marinated anchovy, bread, fruit and the like, another walk, and we all went into our rooms till seven o’clock dinner, and when we went into the drawing-room M. Guizot read us a French play, which lasted till tea-time, and then came bed.

It is very beautiful country in a quiet way; the hills are low but steep, with streams at the bottom, and the copses which are cut once in eighteen years are much like our own. The farm is almost all grass land, and there is a good deal of very pretty parklike ground near the house, planted by M. Guizot with numerous fancy pines, etc., which have had time to come to a good handsome size, and between which are very pretty peeps of the house. The garden is charming, plenty of turf, and great beds of roses, geraniums, and gladioli, and a sort of dwarf, late-blowing horsechestnut that they call Pavia. N.B– Before I forget it, the Norman name for quiver-grass is Langue de femme; is it not delightful? The house is a long one, part old and part new, of old whitish stone, three stories, and then a huge high-pitched roof of dark old red tiles, the walls quite covered with creepers of all sorts. The entrance is at the end, a great white fanciful gate, between two pillars overhung with creepers, and each with a stone seat below, where poor people are often to be seen waiting to speak to Mme. de Witt, or Marguerite. My window is at the end of the house, over the hall door, and Julian’s dressing-room is in a continuation of the house almost close to it, at right angles. Frances’ door and mine are close together, opening into the long passage, which is filled with books, cases of minerals, and fine prints. Everything has a history, and one can hardly move about for looking at the things. Downstairs there is a small hall, a library, and a drawing-room and diningroom, all with parquet floors and opening into the garden, and beautiful things in them, notwithstanding which they look empty. Language stands thus: Mme. de Witt and Marguerite are perfectly bi-lingual, M. Guizot and Julian scarcely less so (except that Julian does not know the French mechanical terms which he wants particularly). I can always understand what they say to me, but not what they say to each other, and can blunder on (rather like Philip Thistlewood1), only I never remember the gender of a word till I have said it wrong, and when I want to say anything I care about my French forsakes me altogether. Frances and M. de Witt understand, but do not commit themselves. Here is a little bit of the conversation that interested me most. It was at breakfast. You must know it is an oval table, M. Guizot always hands Frances, M. de Witt me, Julian Mme. de Witt, Pierre, a little cousin who is staying here, Marguerite, and Jeanne come alone. Then M. Guizot sits in the middle of the side between Frances and me, with his daughter and Julian opposite, M. de Witt and Marguerite at one end, Pierre and Jeanne at the other. ‘Rome et Genève,’ says M. Guizot, indicating the two pictures at the two ends of the room. ‘C’est un contraste,’ I say, looking at the dome of St. Peter’s in opposition to the lake, to which he rejoins that he keeps La Cordaire2 and Calvin’s portraits in his room together, and I observe that La Cordaire does not so perfectly represent Rome as Calvin Geneva, whereon he branches off to Père Hyacinthe and how Rome dares not molest the great Gallicans that are not ultramontane. It seems they summoned Père Hyacinthe to Rome, and when he got there no one did or said anything to him but civility, and they only kept him a few weeks. I asked whether he would show at the Council, and M. Guizot said he would probably not be there, being neither bishop nor chief of an order. He is a friend of M. Guizot’s, and so is Monseigneur Dupanloup, and M. Guizot went on to say that Dr. Manning had been to see him (G.) lately, he having known him in the old times, also that Dr. Manning had said he should not take Dr. Newman to the Council as his companion priest, whereon Monseigneur Dupanloup asked for him. But M. Guizot said that he heard he was not in health to go; I do not know how this is, but Mr. Wilson saw him about a month ago, and did not say he was unwell.2 Montalembert has been terribly ill, but is getting better, and has just been able to dine with his family. M. Guizot is wonderfully alert in every way; I should not have thought him more than sixty (he is eighty-two). He is in the garden at 6.30 every morning, but he has a sleep in the middle of the day. He is hard at work on the fourth volume of his Meditations, and on a history of England for his grand-daughters, and his rest after five hours’ work is with an English novel. His reading is beautiful, not at all an old man’s voice, but clear and fresh, and in the play full of change of tone, gesture, and spirit. Up a hill he always will give me his arm, which is to say the least unnecessary. He has Queen Amelie hanging in the drawing-room between the Queen of Spain and her sister, so I suppose he is not ashamed of the Spanish marriages.3 But the utter absence of political talk is quite curious. He did give a great eulogium of Pitt, exalting him far above Peel and Gladstone, though much admiring Peel, but I think that was the only time Gladstone’s name was spoken; and as to France, the only time the Government was mentioned was that Mme. de Witt said Mudie said that under the present he could not send her boxes to France, they give so much trouble by their regulations. One morning we had a funny debate on the name of the insect that eats the roots of the grass. I had always thought hanneton was a gnat, but it turns out to be a cockchafer. N.B.-Tell Helen that le petit Arthur was as giddy as a chafer, not a gnat. And sure enough wherever the grass looked dead there were sure to be half a dozen of the ugly white grubs. It is very cold, and Julian is rather rheumatic to-day. The Norman harvest-home and the country walks in Normandy exactly represent this place. The colony of poachers is to be visited some day when M. Guizot does not go out, as it is rather far for him. They are trying to get a Sister to keep school there; they have three at the village school, St. Vincent de Paul’s, but they are not missionary enough for such a wild place, so they go to a more missionary order for them. It is almost time for prayers, so I shall finish, hoping to go on to-morrow.-

Your most affectionate

1CRC’s note: In the Chaplet of Pearls.
2Although Guizot was himself a Protestant, he was evidently taking a great interest in the imminent First Vatican Council, which opened in Rome in December 1869, and was much concerned with issues of Papal authority. The French theologians mentioned are Jean-Baptiste-Henri Dominique Lacordaire (1802–1861), Charles-Jean-Marie Loyson (1827-1912), known as Père Hyacinthe, another famous preacher in Paris, and Félix-Antoine-Philibert Dupanloup (1802-1878), bishop of Orléans.
3In 1846 Guizot had arranged the marriages of Isabella II, Queen of Spain (1830-1904) to her cousin Francisco de Asis (1822-1902), who was thought to be impotent, and of her sister and heiress, the Infanta Maria Luisa Fernanda (1833-1897) to the Duc de Montpensier (1824-1890), younger son of Louis Philippe, king of France. This contravened an existing agreement with the British designed to prevent the succession of a French prince to the Spanish throne, and caused great resentment in some circles in Britain.
Cite this letter

The Letters of Charlotte Mary Yonge(1823-1901) edited by Charlotte Mitchell, Ellen Jordan and Helen Schinske.

URL to this Letter is: https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/yonge/2329/to-mary-ann-dyson-11

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