My Recollections by Adeline Horsey Countess Cardigan 1824 1915 Chapter VIII: Widowhood is in My Recollections by Adeline Horsey Countess Cardigan 1824 1915.
After Lord Cardigan's death I remained quietly at Deene for some months. I felt quite overwhelmed by my loss, for as I had known his Lordship nearly all my life I mourned for a dear friend as well as for a beloved husband. My two friends, Miss Hill and Miss Hunt, stayed with me a great deal, but I sank into such a state of apathy and depression that they became alarmed, and begged me to go up to town and see what result change of scene and society would have on my shattered nerves.
I was very loth to leave the country, but I yielded to their entreaties, and went to London, where I saw a few of my intimate friends, and I gradually began to take an interest in life once more.
One evening my sister-in-law, Mrs. de Horsey, persuaded me to go to the Gaiety Theatre with her and Lord Robert Bruce (23). I was idly scanning the stalls when my attention was riveted by the sight of a gentleman sitting near some members of the Austrian Embassy. Impossible though it may seem, it is nevertheless true that this stranger was the living image of my late husband. He had Cardigan's features, his carriage, his colouring, and the likeness was so painfully real that I was naturally greatly agitated.
" Robert", I said, pointing the stranger out to him, " do you see that gentleman in the stalls ; he's Cardigan's double. I feel I must make his acquaintance, I must know who he is ; do try and ascertain for me, and if possible present him to me ? ".
Lord Robert doubtless thought me very unconventional, but I did not care, my one desire was to speak to the person who was so like my husband, and I was delighted when Robert returned and told me that the gentleman was Count Lindemann, a Franco-Bavarian nobleman, and that he could introduce him to me through a mutual acquaintance at the Embassy.
Count Lindemann and I became great friends, but the friendship on his part changed into love, and he begged me to marry him. I refused, partly on account of a fortune-teller having told me that I should marry twice, and that my second husband would die before me.
" I like you so much as a friend", I told him, "that I could not possibly be happy if marriage meant losing you". The Count was a fine steeplechaser, and he was constantly at Deene. After some years his mother, who was in bad health, begged him to return to Bavaria and take charge of her estates. Lindemann did not wish to leave England, but as his mother threatened to leave her money and property to the Church if he did not, he eventually complied with her wishes.
As I was always fond of yachting I went for long cruises, usually accompanied by dear Maria Hill. We visited Trouville and Deauville, and in 1871, when I was at Trouville, the King, then Prince of Wales (27), came to tea with me on board the Sea Horse.
His Majesty honoured me with constant visits to my houses in town, Newmarket, and Cowes for many years, and I cannot write too enthusiastically about the pleasure I experienced from his agreeable visits and his kind friendship.
The King was a delightful companion, and he was most appreciative of my efforts to entertain him. We often discussed Art together, and those who say that a taste for High Art can only be acquired are quite wrong, for the King is a born artist.
I remember a very amusing incident which happened on one of the many cruises of the Sea Horse, when I had invited a small party, including Miss Hill, Robert Bruce (23), Count Lindemann and the Vicar of Deene, my dear old friend the late Mr. Sylvester.
Lord Ernest Bruce (57) came to see us safely on board, for leave-takings were the joy of his life. He always loved to speed the parting guest, and invariably went through the same ceremony whenever he said good-bye. This consisted of kissing everybody with much solemnity, and then with a great show of generosity he would present the porter with sixpence !.
Robert Bruce (23) was an amusing person in those days, and when old Lord Ernest (57) was preparing to say good-bye to us, he called out : " Now, father, kiss the porter and give me the sixpence ! " greatly to Lord Ernest's (57) annoyance.
It was about half-past ten at night when we left Cowes, and about 3 A.M., when we were outside the island, the weather became dreadful. I could not sleep, and I suddenly heard a loud knocking at my cabin door. " Who's there?" I called. "Come in". The door slowly opened and the head and shoulders of the Sea Horses captain appeared. "Whatever is the matter, Captain Smart?" said I, noticing that his usually jolly red face wore a very cross and worried expression. " Well, my Lady", he grumbled, "you can see we're in for rough weather ; it's all along o' that 'ere parson on board, and we sha'n't be better off till he's left us"..
" Nonsense ! " I told him, " we can't put back to Cowes and ask Mr. Sylvester to give up the cruise. I won't hear another word " ; so Smart withdrew in a very bad temper.
The weather did not improve, and when I told the padre about Captain Smart's nocturnal visit he very good-naturedly refused to be the Jonah any longer ; so we returned to Cowes, where we left him at Rose Cottage, and continued our cruise, and curiously enough we had lovely weather all the time. Whenever I encountered Captain Smart afterwards he wore an air of subdued triumph, and the gleam in his eye might have meant " I told you so ! ".
I spent much of my time at Deene after I had begun to recover from the shock of Lord Cardigan's death. He had always expressed a wish that if he predeceased me I should still keep up the traditional hospitality of the house, so I commenced to entertain large house-parties.
One evening I gave a dinner-party to which I had invited some very dull neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. H. Aubrey Coventry was staying at Deene, and he suggested playing a joke on Mr. H., a very pompous, snobbish person, who "dearly loved a Lord". Aubrey accordingly dressed himself up as a woman. He was laced into the cook's stays, and my sister-in-law lent him one of her exquisite tea-gowns. He wore an effective wig, and I must say he made a very striking-looking woman. He was introduced to the H.s as Lady Aubrey Coventry, and sat between Mr. H. and John Vivian at dinner. Mr. H. talked a great deal to " Lady Aubrey", who told me afterwards that out of sheer mischief he kept treading on Mr. H.'s foot all through dinner, and he wickedly enjoyed watching the growing embarrassment on that gentleman's face !.
When the ladies retired, Mrs. H. pounced on " Lady Aubrey", and began to get so confidential that poor Aubrey was quite confused, and pleading sudden indisposition he went to his room. A few hours afterwards, clothed in his own garments, he was dancing at the ball which took place later in the evening, and I believe the H.s remained in happy ignorance of * Lady Aubrey's * real identity.