|Mad Lords and Sad Schooldays
Written by Caroline
(2/16/2003 11:05 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Early years at Steventon, penned by Leif G-n
John Charles Wallop, (1767-1853), was the son of the second Earl of Portsmouth, of Hurstbourne Park, near Andover, Hants. John was given the courtesy title Lord Lymington quite early on, and it’s interesting to speculate on whether the Austens actually had to address him as such whilst he lived with them. He was described as “rather backward” when he came to them. He seems to have always been a bit odd, and after leaving Steventon he grew ever more so, apparently gettiing obessessed with holding elaborate funeral rites for dead animals, amongst other things. He was subject of scandal in 1823 when some of his relatives attempted to have him declared insane, and temporarily succeeded in depriving him of his home, his inheritance and his dignity. However, he, with some loyal friends and relations fought back, and he managed to regain most of what he had lost, including the Earldom. I feel so sorry for him! Although Jane didn’t live to see the newspapers which chronicled the story of his struggle for legal status, she must have known him as a boy. Did she find him a sad figure then? I wonder if the boy was depressive, or sensitive beyond the usual. Would she, as a little girl, have been frightened of him, or would she have found him on a par with her, being so much younger than him?