1870 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Frances Arabella Rowden

A. G. K. L'Estrange, in Life of Mary Russell Mitford (1870) 1:20-21 &n.



Her daughter [Mrs. Mitford's] was at this time at school in Hans Place — a small square into which you turn on the right hand out of Sloane Street, as you go from Knightsbridge to Chelsea. It was then — some seventy years ago — just finished; and the houses, bright, fresh, newly painted, looking into a garden full of shrubs and flowers, were in no slight request among persons of moderate incomes and gentle condition. One of the largest of them, No. 22, had been taken by M. St. Quintin, a well-born, well-educated, and well-looking French emigrant, for the purpose of setting up a ladies' school, which, perhaps, of all the schemes adopted by any of his suffering and ingenious co-mates in exile for the relief of their necessities, appeared the most extraordinary and least likely to answer. He made the attempt, however, and it succeeded. He was assisted, or rather chaperoned, in his undertaking by his wife, a good-natured, red-faced Frenchwoman, much muffled up in shawls and laces; and by Miss Rowden, an accomplished young lady, the daughter and sister of clergymen, who had been for some years governess in the family of Lord Bessborough. M. St. Quintin himself taught the pupils French, history, geography, and as much science as he was master of, or as he thought it requisite for a young lady to know; Miss Rowden, with the assistance of finishing masters for Italian, music, dancing, and drawing, superintended the general course of study; while Madam St. Quintin sat dozing, either in the drawing-room with a piece of work, or in the library with a book in her hand, to receive the friends of the young ladies, or any other visitors who might chance to call.

* Miss Rowden entertained a high opinion of the ladies educated under her auspices; on which, Miss Mitford observes (August 8, 1811), "Fanny Rowden surely does not mean to assert that all who have breathed her air of 22 Hans Place must be female Solomons. If she do, Heaven help her! Don Quixote, when he took the fair nymphs of the inn for the daughters of the governor of the castle, did not make a greater mistake."