[Sir John Cullum, antiquary.] Autograph Letter Signed ('J. C.') to his brother Thomas Gery Cullum, describing a visit to Bulstrode, with references to the Duchess of Portland, Rev. John Lightfoot, and a long description of Mrs. Delaney.

Author: 
Sir John Cullum (1733-1785) of Hawstead Place, antiquary [his brother Sir Thomas Gery Cullum; Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, Duchess of Portland; John Lightfoot; 'Mrs Delaney', Mary Delany ; Bulstrode]
Publication details: 
'W. Ham [i.e. West Ham, Essex] | 10 June 1777.'
£850.00
SKU: 22446

See the entries for both brothers in the Oxford DNB, as also those of individuals mentioned in the letter: Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (1715-1785), the fabulously-wealthy Duchess of Portland, owner at Bulstrode of the finest natural history collection in the land (her herbarium is now at Kew); her librarian the botanist Rev. John Lightfoot (1735-1788); and her companion the celebrated 'Mrs Delaney', Mary Delany (1700-1788). 3pp, 4to. On bifolium. Addressed, with postmarks, to 'T. G. Cullum Esqr | Bury St. Edmunds | Suffolk'. The letter was sent with a seal, which has been cut away leaving a hole in the first leaf, together with a triangular cut at the edge from the breaking of it, all of which has resulted in the loss of a few words of text. Otherwise in fair condition, lightly aged and worn. An excellent long letter in a neat close hand, giving a vivid and ecstatic description of Bulstrode in its glory, Cullum considering his visit 'one of the most capital Days of my Life'. Writing from the home of his wife's family, he begins: 'Dear Brother | Ashby's calling upon you has forestalled somewhat of what I intended saying to you, however I must give you an Account of my Expedition to Uxbridge, which turned out a very good one. My Design was only to have staid one Night: however the Evening I got there, I found Lightfoot [had] mentioned to the Duchess of Portland my projected Visit to Ux[bridge, and s]he had ordered him to ask Mr. Holcombe and myself to sp[end time] with her. This was an irresistible Invitation; and accordingly on Saturday we all set off in the Morning for the Seat at Bulstrode, which is but 5 Miles off'. There follows an account of the visit, with Lightfoot as guide, made over 'a long Day (which however waws much too short)', to both house ('nothing remarkable in its Architecture, or the Grandeur of its Appartments [sic]', but 'stored with almost whatever is curious in Art and Nature') and grounds. Bulstrode House is 'surrounded with a sunk Fence, in Circuit about 2 Miles, which encloses Gardens, Woods Waters &c.' He describes the 'multitude of curious Plants both foreign and native; of the latter of which I have brought away some, which I hope to bring alive to Hardwick; Circaea alpina, Trientalis Europaea, Saxifraga Hirculus, Saxifraga nivalis, Scandix adorata'. He continues: 'After spending the Morning by ourselves, at near five o'Clock we sat down to Dinner with the Ds. and her Friend Mrs. Delaney. [sic] Perfect Affability, and good Nature made the rest of the Day pass away most agreeably. Her Grace shewed me whatever I asked for, which was chiefly English Productions, particularly shells; and she gave me a new Pecten, and another Trifle or two; and she desired me to send her some Plants of the Trifolium ochroleucon; so you see a Correspondence is settled between us, which I hope may be conducted without any Scandal or Suspicion. The Mrs. Delaney [sic] I mentioned is a most extraordinary Woman; she is the widow of Dr. Delaney, the Friend of Swift, who made a famous ridiculous Song upon the Wedding; she is now in her 77th. Year, and has all the Cheerfulness, and Quickness of Parts which she ever had in her Youth; she is a Lady of extraordinary Accomplishments; among others, she excells in painting and drawing: this Quality has enabled to imitate Flowers in a most singular and beautiful Manner: she has caused Paper to be stained with every possible Gradation of every Colour; with these she cuts out Flowers to such a high Degree of Resemblance as is scarcely credible: they are stuck on dark Grounds to set them off- they are the Admiration of every one that sees them, and indeed they exceeded my Expectation, though raised pretty high'. He concludes with reference to the 'Flora Caledonia', which will be published in six weeks, 'and I can assure you, it must stand by its own Merit, for it will receive no Advantage from Type or Paper. The Author is at present hid by the Leg: in August he is to go into Nottinghamshire to take Possession of another Living which his Patroness has given him and upon his Return he says he will call upon me. Holcombe is gone Home to-Day; as I hope to do on Friday'.