Except for a bequest of "one years wages to any of my servants who shall at the time of my death have lived twelve years in my service", the whole of Mrs. Boyle Walsingham's estate was left to her "dear daughter and only child' Charlotte Boyle"(l55).
This young lady, she was then in her twenty-first year, now found herself the mistress of a fortune estimated at £200,000 and the second most wealthy heiress in the country(157).
She was a spirited girl but, as we have seen, her mother was somewhat imperious, and kept her offspring on a rather tight rein. To which she had submitted dutifully. It was not surprising, therefore, that once the bridle was released the emancipated filly, bounding with life and vitality, burst forth in full-blooded high spirits.
That such vast opulence should be bestowed on one person, and that person at once both young and female, should evoke feelings of envy in other less fortunate breasts, is not to be wondered at. Mrs. Damer, the sculptress, wrote to Mary Berry: "Would to God that half that which has been lavished on her, and seems now jumbling, jolting and filtering away, in rides, drives, balls, and a round of idle, empty amusements, had been bestowed on my poor cousin"(158).
Other people, however, viewed her "rides, drives, and balls", in a different light. Mrs. Damer's cousin, Horace Walpole, for instance, wrote: "Miss Boyle is intoxicated with her release, and laughs and talks and gallops and drives and dances from night to morning, and from one end of the isle to t'other - yet to the last moment of her mother's life never relaxed one moment in attention; and since with all her torrent of spirits, has done nothing to be blamed, and behaves with great regard and propriety to all her mother's old friends"(159).
Nevertheless, her mother's old friends were worried that she would now be pestered by suitors, solely after her money. Just how many noble bloods did, in fact, hurl themselves at her feet hoping to become masters of her fortune is not recorded. Walpole was lulled: "I do hear of no preference she shows; and she has the sense to admit no female to live with her (who would soon recommend a male) I hope she will not fling away her self and her liberty and her felicity on one of our sex, without knowing whether he deserves it or not"(160).
On 3 April 1791 he declared to Miss Berry: "Miss Boyle, who has not let herself be snapped up by lovers of her fortune, is going to Italy for a year with Lord and Lady Malden"(161).
However, he was mistaken. She never undertook such a journey. Instead, just one month later, he was telling the same lady: "Miss Boyle, I heard last night had consented to marry Lord Henry Fitzgerald. I think they have chosen well"(162).
Next - Lord Henry Fitzgerald
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