Monday, May 16, 2011

Ladies All

Lady Wallace, the Scottish author and translator mentioned in my last post, was said by Sir Walter Scott, in an 1825 letter to his son, to be “a very pleasant woman, [who] plays on the harp delightfully.” It should be noted that she was not Lady Wallace at the time, however; she was the baronetess of Newton Don. In 1825 her husband was Sir Alexander Don, sixth baronet of Newton Don. She had two children: Sir William Henry Don, 7th Baronet, the actor; and Alexina Harriet, who married Sir Frederick Acclom Milbank, bart., of Hart and Hartlepool.

Sir Alexander died in 1826, and in 1836 his widow married again, to Sir James Maxwell Wallace, K.H., of Ainderby Hall, near Northallerton, an officer who had served under Wellington at Quatre Bras and Waterloo, was afterwards lieutenant-colonel of the 5th dragoon guards (when Prince Leopold, afterwards king of the Belgians, was colonel), and died on 3 February 1967 as general and colonel of the 176th lancers. Lady Wallace died on 12 March 1878 without issue by her second marriage. So says Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is nothing if not complete. Anything you could possibly want to know about a baronet and baronetess can be found here, including how to address one, the fact that a baronet or baronetess is near the bottom of the ranks of nobility, and the revelation that a Duke and Duchess rank higher than a Prince and Princess, which was news to me.

When all is said and done, all that and $2.49 will buy you a pound of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” at your local supermarket.

Sir Walter Scott’s mention of his friends’s lady “playing on the harp delightfully” caught my eye, though, and I immediately thought, as I’m sure you probably did also, of Beatrice Lillie, Lady Peel.

What? You didn’t?

Beatrice Lillie, friend of Noel Coward and Cole Porter, is an artifact from days gone by. She was a comic actress and satirist who parodied the flowery performing style of even earlier decades when arias, declamations, recitations, and poetry readings were all the rage. If she looks the slightest bit familiar to you, you may remember her in her role as the villainous Mrs. Meers, laundress and white slaver, in the 1967 technicolor movie Thoroughly Modern Millie.

I think I remember hearing Bea Lillie perform “I brought my harp to the party, but nobody asked me to play; the others were happy and hearty, but I wasn’t feeling so gay” way back in the dark ages, but I couldn’t find it on Youtube. (Neither could I find Helen Hayes reciting “The White Magnolia,” but that has nothing to do with this post.) So if you have been dying to hear Beatrice Lillie perform, you will simply have to be content with hearing her do “There Are Fairies at the Bottom of our Garden” in a clip from the year 1952 on Ed Sullivan’s television program. And please try to remember that there was nothing more boring in the entire twentieth century than listening to Ed Sullivan talk.

If Beatrice Lillie doesn’t float your boat, maybe you would prefer listening to 5 minutes and 34 seconds of harp music, played delightfully by Ji Min.

And if that doesn’t float your boat either, just remember, there’s always Carrie Underwood.


  1. Interesting! Enjoyed your post!

  2. nope this does not float my boat

  3. Theanne (and Baron), glad you liked it!

    Putz, it's a good thing you live in Utah, then, because the Great Salt Lake will keep you afloat even without a boat.

  4. Mr.Brague,
    Very interesting. I always get a kick out of your random, but always related links in your posts. What does died "without issue" mean? Does it mean they had no children?