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Penelope Brandling A Tale of the Welsh coast in the Eighteenth Century   By: (1856-1935)

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First Page:

PENELOPE BRANDLING

By

VERNON LEE

A TALE OF THE WELSH COAST IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY

LONDON

T. FISHER UNWIN

PATERNOSTER SQUARE

M CM III

TO

AUGUSTINE BULTEAU

THIS STORY

OF NORTHERN WRECKERS,

IN RETURN FOR A PIECE OF PARIAN

MARBLE PICKED UP IN THE

MEDITERRANEAN SURF

AT PALO

GRANDFEY, NEAR F., IN SWITZERLAND.

May 15, 1822.

Having reached an age when the morrow is more than uncertain, and knowing how soon all verbal tradition becomes blurred and distorted, I, Sophia Penelope, daughter of Jacques de Morat, a cadet of the Counts of that name, sometime a captain in the service of King Louis XV., and of Sophia Hamilton, his wife; and furthermore, widow of the late Sir Eustace Brandling, ninth baronet, of St. Salvat's Castle, in the county of Glamorgan, have yielded to the wishes of my dear surviving sons, and am preparing to consign to paper, for the benefit of their children and grandchildren, some account of those circumstances in my life which decided that the lot of this family should so long have been cast in foreign parts and remote colonies, instead of in its ancestral and legitimate home.

I can the better fulfil this last duty to my dear ones, living and dead, that I have by me a journal which, as it chanced, I was in the habit of keeping at that period; and require to draw upon my memory only for such details as happen to be missing in that casual record of my daily life some fifty years ago. And first of all let me explain to my children's children that I began to keep this journal two years after my marriage with their grandfather, with the idea of sending it regularly to my dearest mother, from whom, for the first time in my young life, I was separated by my husband's unexpected succession and our removal from Switzerland to his newly inherited estates in Wales. Let me also explain that before this event, which took place in the spring of seventeen hundred and seventy two, Sir Eustace Brandling was merely a young Englishman of handsome person, gentlemanly bearing, an uncommon knowledge of the liberal arts and sciences, and a most blameless and amiable temper, but with no expectations of fortune in the future, and only a modest competence in the present. So that it was regarded in our Canton and among our relations as a proof of my dear mother's high flown and romantic temper, and of the unpractical influence of the writings of Rousseau and other philosophers, that she should have allowed her only child to contract such a marriage. And at the time of its celebration it did indeed appear improbable that we should ever cease residing with my dearest mother on her little domain of Grandfey; still more that our existence of pastoral and philosophic happiness should ever be exchanged for the nightmare of dishonour and misery which followed it.

The beginning of our calamities was, as I said, on the death of Sir Thomas Brandling, my husband's only brother. I have preserved a most vivid recollection of the day which brought us that news, perhaps because, looked back upon ever after, it seemed the definite boundary of a whole part of our life, left so quickly and utterly behind, as the shore is left even with the first few strokes of the oars. My dear mother and I were in the laundry, where the maids were busy putting by the freshly ironed linen. My mother, who was ever more skilful with her hands, as she was nimbler in her thoughts, than I, had put aside all the most delicate pieces and the lace to dress and iron herself; while I, who had made a number of large bundles of lavender (our garden had never produced it in so great profusion), was standing on a chair and placing them in the shelves of the presses, between each bale of sheets and table linen which the maids had lifted up to me. When, looking through the open glass door, I saw Vincent, the farm servant, hurrying along the lime walk, and across the kitchen garden, and waving a packet at us. He had been to the city to buy sugar, I remember, for the raspberry jam, which my mother, an excellent cook, had decided to sweeten a second time, for fear of its turning... Continue reading book >>




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