The Londonderrys in Russia

Posted by Tory Historian Thursday, December 30, 2010 , , ,

Tory Historian has just finished another book that might be of interest to people who are interested in conservative history and its ramifications. The Third Marquess of Londonderry and his second wife, Frances Anne Emily Vane-Tempest, une femme formidable according to all including Disraeli, spent several months in Russia in the winter of 1836-7, visiting St Petersburg and Moscow as well as a few smaller places, attending many balls, dinners and receptions, being friendly with the Emperor Nicholas I and his family as well as a large number of Russian and foreign aristocrats and generally exploring many sights and events.

Lord Londonderry, the Lord Stewart mentioned in several of Georgette Heyer's novels, a distinguished soldier and diplomat who had, as an "uncompromising Tory", fallen foul of The Times by the early 1830s, published an account of the trip together with various thoughts and ideas about Russia and her Empire. Tory Historian has not read it yet but it is generally described as being rather dull and formal. Well, it would be, one supposes.

Lady Londonderry's diary, on the other hand, is delightfully informal and full of interesting information and rather catty comments as well as some realistic descriptions of roads, inns and Russian houses. Though it had been seen by various people and excerpts published here and there, the full volume was not in print till 1977. The Journal was edited by W. A. L. Seaman (Chief Archivist of Tyne and Wear Archives) and J. R. Sewell, who do not appear to like the lady or her husband. In the introduction, which is not as informative as one would like it to be (for instance, we never find out what possessed the Londonderrys to travel home through Poland, various parts of Germany and France in the worst part of the winter) they quote every disparaging reference they can find, though they also quote Disraeli's admiring one. In their anxiety to show up Lady Londonderry's ignorance or silliness they make several mistakes in the notes.

On the other hand, it is the Journal itself that is worth reading and marvelling over.


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