Philobiblon: A princess in Islington

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A princess in Islington

My 19th-century "blogger" Miss Williams Wynn is today showing the breadth of her interests, with a diary entry about the history of Haiti, particularly the reign of the despot Henry Christophe. She's been reading a manuscript history by a "Mr Courtenay", who visited with Sir Home Popham, but then goes on to report her own involvement, in trying encourage a friend of Christophe's daughter to write a memoir from her recollections.

The eldest daughter was described as a woman of superior talents, who had taken great pains in cultivating her mind. She was said to have been the confidante and counselor of her father during his latter years. She spoke French easily but not well, she had a good figure, and, as far as I could judge from under a close black bonnet, an intelligent eye. The other sister was a heavy, stuffy, short, fat person. They were in deep mourning, and very plainly dressed. ...
In the summer of 1824 I heard of them travelling in Germany: at this period the King of Bavaria purchased a part of a set of the ex-Queen's jewels (rubies I believe) for a wedding present to his daughter, who married the Prince Royal of Prussia. In 1826 I saw one of these Haytian Princesses walking in the street at Pisa. My laquais de place called her a Principessa della Morea, spoke of them as living very retired, but knew nothing of the mother, who, I conclude, is dead.

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