Dinner To Their Majesties At Boston House





OUR next glimpse of their Majesties is not from, but at Boston

House. This unsought honour was rather deprecated, though thoroughly

appreciated by their hosts, who, in spite of their intimacy with the

King and Queen, never made any pretension to be more than simple

gentlefolk. Colonel Clitherow was the first commoner whom William IV.

so honoured, probably the only one, and instances of other monarchs

doing the like must be few and far between. In this case, doubtless,

both their Majesties regarded it as an act of simple friendship, and

not in any way as one of condescension.



'BOSTON HOUSE, 'July 10, 1834.



'On June 28, 1884, their Majesties honoured old Boston House with their

company to dinner. They came by Gunnersby and through our farm at our

suggestion; it is so much more gentlemanly an approach than through Old

Brentford.



'The people were collected in numbers and Dr. Morris's school, and they

gave them a good cheer. We then let the boys through the garden into

the orchard by the flower-garden, where my brother had given leave for

the neighbours to be, and it seemed as if two hundred were collected.



'We had our haymakers the opposite side of the garden, and kept the

people, hay-carts, etc., for effect, and it was cheerful and pretty.

The weather was perfect, and the old place never looked better.



'They arrived at seven, and we sat down to dinner at half-past. During

that half hour the Queen walked about the garden, even down to the

bottom of the wood. The haymakers cheered her, and had a pail of beer,

and when she came round to the house, instead of turning in she most

good-humouredly walked on to the flower-garden, and stood five minutes

chatting to the party, which gave the natives time to get her dress by

heart. It was very simple--all white, little bonnet and feathers.



'The King had a slight touch of hay asthma, the Princess Augusta a

slight cold, and therefore they declined going out, which separated the

party, and was a great disappointment to the people. We had police

about to keep order, the bells rang merrily, and all went well. We

received them in our new-furnished library.



'When dinner was announced the King took Jane, my brother the Queen,

and they sat on opposite sides, the Duchess of Northumberland[*] the

other side of the King, Lord Prudhoe[**] the other side of the Queen,

General Clitherow and General Sir Edward Kerrison top and bottom, and

the rest as they chose--Princess Augusta, Lord and Lady Howe, Lady

Brownlow,[***] Lady Clinton,[****] Lady Isabella Wemyss, Colonel

Wemyss, Miss Clitherow, Miss Wynyard, Mrs. Bullock, and Mr. Holmes.

That makes nineteen. The Duke of Cumberland[*****] was to have been the

twentieth, but Mr. Holmes brought a very polite apology just as we were

going in to dinner. The House of Lords detained him.



[*] Wife of Hugh, third Duke, and daughter of the first Earl Powis. She

was governess to H.R.H. the Princess Victoria, our late gracious Queen.



[**] Algernon Percy, second surviving son of the second Duke of

Northumberland, F.R.S., and Captain R.N.; born 1792. Created Baron

Prudhoe 1816. On the death of his brother he succeeded to the dukedom,

which, on his death in 1865, passed to his cousin, the second Earl of

Beverley.



[***] Emma Sophia, daughter of the second Earl of Mount Edgecumbe; born

1791, married, 1828, the first Earl Brownlow. She was Lady of the

Bedchamber to Queen Adelaide.



[****] Widow of the seventeenth Baron Clinton, Lady of the Bedchamber

to Queen Adelaide. In 1835 she married Sir Horace Beauchamp Seymour,

K.C.H.



[*****] He became King of Hanover on the death of William IV.



'As to the dinner, it was so perfect that it was impossible to know a

single thing on the table, and that, you know, must be termed a proper

dinner for such a party. My brother gave a carte blanche to Sir

Edward Kerrison's Englishman cook, and, to give him his due, he gave us

as elegant a dinner as ever I saw. Our waiting was particularly well

done--so quiet, no in and out of the room. Everything was brought to

the door, and there were sideboards all round the room, with everything

laid out to prevent clatter of knives, forks, and plates. Etiquette

allows the lady's own footman in livery, and we had ten out of livery,

the King and Queen's pages, seven gentlemen borrowed of our friends,

and our own butler. They all continued waiting till the ladies left the

room.



'We were well lit, wax on the table and lamps on the sideboards, and

many a face I saw taking a peep in at the windows. The room was cool,

for the Queen asked to have the top sashes down.



'The King was not in his usual spirits. He said had it been the day

before he must have sent his excuses. The Queen was all animation, and

the rest of the party most chatty and agreeable. The King bowed to the

Queen when the ladies were to move.



'Our evening was short, as they went at half-past ten. The Princess

played on the piano, and my brother and Mrs. Bullock sang one of

Ariole's duets at the Queen's request. When they went the sweep was

full of people to see them go, and their Majesties were cheered out of

the grounds.



'We had with us our little nephew Salkeld,[*] whom my brother puts to

Dr. Morris's school. He came in to dessert, a day the child can never

forget. The King asked him many questions, which he answered

distinctly, with a profound bow, and then backed away. He looked so

pretty, for the awe of Royalty brought all the colour to his cheeks. I

felt rather proud of him, he did it so gracefully. The Queen told him

she hoped he would make as good a man as his excellent uncle. After

dinner the Princess Augusta called him to her in the drawing-room,

saying, "I like that little fellow's countenance; he is quite a

Clitherow." She talked to him of cricket, football, and hockey, telling

him when she was a little girl she played at all these games with her

brother, and played cricket particularly well.



[*] He became a hero in the Indian Mutiny, losing his life in

volunteering to blow up the Cashmere Gate at Delhi in 1857.



'That we are proud of this day we cordially own, for my brother is the

first commoner their Majesties have so honoured; but we feel we ought

not to have done it. When Jane, with her honesty, told the Queen we

were not in a situation to receive such an honour, her answer was:

"Mrs. Clitherow, you are making me speeches. If it is wrong I take the

blame, but I was determined to dine once again at Boston House with

you.'



'The absurd conjecture of people at the expence of the day to my

brother induces me to tell you what it actually was, as we should be

ashamed at the sum guessed at. I have made the closest calculation I

possibly can, which includes fees to borrowed servants, ringers,

police, carriage of things from and to London, and I have got to L44.

Never was less wine drank at a dinner, and that I cannot estimate, but

L6, I think, must cover that. We had two men cooks, for he brought his

friend, and we got all they asked for. Really, I think we were let off

very well at L50.



'And now a word of our delights at the Abbey. The good Bishop of

Landaff, Copleston, gave us six reserve tickets, and we bought three.

Mrs. Bullock, Jane, and myself went twice, my brother three times, and

we all four went to the first rehearsal. We did enjoy it most

thoroughly!



'I delight in the thought of you surrounded by your family party, and

wish I could peep in. Remember us most kindly to them.



'Ever yours affectionately, 'MARY CLITHEROW.'





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