Days Like These

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The Independent Culture
14 December 1791


composer, on the first of his spectacularly successful visits to London, records in his notebooks:

"On this day I dined for the first time in the house of Mr Shaw. He received me below stairs at the door, and conducted me thence to his wife, who was surrounded by her two daughters and other ladies. While I was bowing all around I suddenly perceived that the lady of the house, besides her daughters and other ladies, wore on their head-dresses a pearl-coloured band, of three-fingers' breadth, embroidered in gold with the name of Haydn, and Mr Shaw wore the name on the two ends of his collar in the finest steel beads.

"The coat was of the finest cloth, smooth, and bore beautiful steel buttons. The mistress is the most beautiful woman I ever saw.

"NB Her husband wanted me to give him a souvenir, and I gave him a tobacco box which I had just bought for a guinea. He gave me his in exchange. A few days afterwards I visited him and found that he had had a case of silver put over the box I had given him, on the cover of which was engraved Apollo's harp, and round it the words Ex dono celerberrimi Joseph Haydn."

11 December 1866


author and artist, writes to Lady Waldegrave:

"I have never been so utterly weary of six months as of these last: never seeing anything but the dreadful brick houses - and latterly suffering from cold, smoke, darkness - ach! horror! - verily England may be a blessed place for the wealthy, but it is an accursed place for those who have known liberty and seen God's daylight in other countries.

"By degrees, however (if I don't leave it by the sudden collapse of mortality), I hope to quit it altogether, even if I turn Mussulman and settle in Timbuctoo."