Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Earl Percy

October 6 [1827].—Left Ravensworth this morning, and travelled as far as Whittingham with Marquis of Lothian. Arrived at Alnwick to dinner, where I was very kindly received. The Duke is a handsome man, who will be corpulent if he does not continue to take hard exercise. The Duchess very pretty and lively, but her liveliness is of that kind which shows at once it is connected with thorough principle, and is not liable to be influenced by fashionable caprice. The habits of the family are early and regular; I conceive they may be termed formal and old-fashioned by such visitors as claim to be the pink of the mode. The Castle is a fine old pile, with various courts and towers, and the entrance is magnificent. It wants, however, the splendid feature of a keep. The inside fitting up is an attempt at Gothic, but the taste is meagre and poor, and done over with too much gilding. It was done half a century ago, when this kind of taste was ill-understood. I found here the Bishop of [Gloucester], etc. etc.

On October 6, 1827, Sir Walter Scott is visiting Hugh Percy, 3rd Duke of Northumberland.  The Percy surname was granted by act of Parliament in 1750 to his grandfather, Hugh Smithson, when he married Elizabeth Seymour, who was Baroness Percy by birth.  Hugh Smithson the 1st had, among his children, a son James, who provided for what became the Smithsonian Institution, and as son Hugh, who fathered the Hugh that Scott knew.  Percy was a Tory politician, who served as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, beginning a little more than a year after Scott's Journal entry.

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