The journal of Amélina Petit de Billier

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1821 Miss Edgeworth and Bowood House

4 December [At Longleat]
Someone told us it was said that one tower of Laycock Abbey was haunted by ghosts, and that this tower, which had not been opened for a long time, would only be opened on the day of the majority of the owner, Mr. Henry Talbot, the son of Lady Elisabeth. Lacock Abbey is 3 or 4 miles from Bowood. Before arriving there, we saw a white horse which has been made by cutting the grass on a mountain: it makes a strange sight.
At length we arrived at Bowood, the residence of the Marquis of Lansdowne, a peer of England: he married Lady Louisa, Lady Elisabeth's youngest sister.

15 December, Friday. This house is very beautiful: the facade was built in imitation of the palace of Diocletian in Pola in Istria.. There is an immense park, beautiful gardens, a big cascade, and altogether everything that constitutes a fine estate: a fine library.

19 December Tuesday. Miss Edgeworth has arrived here today with her two sisters, whom one would take for her daughters. Miss Edgeworth is extremely short, quite ugly, but all her features express kindness; I have only seen her for a little while so far.
I forgot to say that in coming here on the 14th we dined at Warminster. We stayed there quite a long time, as there were no horses: the nearest town to here is Calne.
Mr. Feilding told me today that my letter had arrived in London: it should be in Paris now.

Maria Edgeowrth (not as ugly as reported by Amélina)

The writer Maria Edgeworth

22 Friday. Miss Edgeworth is still here: she is kind, gracious. I spoke with her several times. I find her sensible rather than brilliant.
I played all evening. Lord Lansdowne paid me some attention, conversing. We played two charades - library and idol. Lady Elisabeth and Lord Lansdowne acted. I had much conversation with Miss Edgeworth: she has two young sisters Fanny and Henrietta. They expect the Duc and Duchesse Decazes and her sister Mme. Prinstaux [?], ex-favourite of our king. It is said they will be here on Tuesday; we are not leaving until Wednesday, so we may still see them. I very much hope to.

I have just finished the Memoirs of service in the private life of the Emperor Napoleon, by his ex-secretary M. Fleury de Chaboulon. How interesting they are.

Saturday 23. Mr. Feilding, Lady Elis. and the young ladies have gone today to visit Laycock Abbey. I declined to make this little expedition, which held little interest for me. They celebrated Christmas: a noisy band resounded through the house all evening. Lady E. sent for me to hear it [...]