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Countess of Sutherland. The youngest was Willielma, the subject of these Annals, born after her father's death, on the 2d of September 1741.
Mrs Maxwell having lived a widow twelve years, was on the 27th of August 1753 married to the Right Honourable Charles Erskine of Tinewold and Alva, a Senator of the College of Justice, with the title of Lord Alva; in consequence of which, by the courtesy of the times, she enjoyed the title of Lady Alva till her death. She survived her daughter Willielma twenty years. Lord Alva was, soon after his marriage, raised to the high office of Lord Justice Clerk, equivalent in Scotland to that of Lord Chief Justice in England. Under the parental roof of this much respected Judge, the Misses Maxwell spent the last seven years of their unmarried state; and of his Lordship's kindness during that period, Lady Glenorchy always spoke with much reverence and affection.
The Misses Maxwell were in their day celebrated for their beauty, accomplishments, and amiable manners, as well as for their fortune. Their mother, lofty and ambitious, had, from their infancy, destined them, in her own mind, to the attainment, by marriage, of high rank.
She obtained her object; but, alas! as is often the case in schemes of worldly ambition, it was followed with many bitter consequences.
[1761.] Mary, the eldest, was married, with every flattering prospect, on the 14th of April 1761, to William the seventeenth Earl of Sutherland, and premier Earl of Scotland. To the finest person, he united all the dignity and amenity of manners and character which give lustre to greatness, while she was every thing which could be desired by such a husband. But their earthly career was of short duration. "As for
his days are as grass; as a flower of the field so he withereth."
About the time of Lord and Lady Sutherland's union, a proposal of marriage was made to Willielma by John Lord Viscount Glenorchy, the only son and heir of John the third Earl of Breadalbane; a young man, in every respect, except in rank and fortune, the very opposite of Lord Sutherland. Lord Breadalbane had been bred at Court, and possessed very extensive property and influence. He was proprietor of one of the most magnificent seats in Scotland, where he lived in princely splendour. A suitor placed in the circumstances, and possessing the prospects of Lord Glenorchy, was a temptation, if not too great for Miss Maxwell, yet beyond a doubt too great for her mother to resist. His character must have been at this time in a great degree unknown to them both, as it had not yet been fully developed. Pushed on by mistaken friends, and deceived by the fascinations of grandeur, which had no doubt been increased by the marriage of her sister a few months before, she was, in the twentieth year of her age, on the 26th of September 1761, married to Lord Glenorchy, who on that day was twenty-three years old.
Lady Glenorchy had fine talents, and she had profited much by a very liberal and expensive education. She was esteemed one of the first amateur musicians, and had a charming voice, which, after she became a decided Christian, she seldom used but in the worship of God. She was naturally vivacious, gay, peculiarly formed for hilarity, and commanded a very considerable portion of pleasantry, which she was capable of using with great effect. In short, she seems to have been endowed with every talent calculated to communicate delight to a virtuous and well regulated mind.
[1762.] Lord Glenorchy, the year after his marriage, succeeded to the estate and mansion of Great Sugnal in Staffordshire, which he derived from his mother, the heiress of John Pershall, Esq. There Lady Glenorchy and he sometimes resided. Lord Breadalbane had a house in London, and magnificent apartments in the Abbey of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, besides the celebrated Castle of Taymouth in Perthshire. His Lordship generally resided during the winter in London, and Lady Glenorchy with him. After Lady Breadalbane's death, he resigned to Lord and Lady Glenorchy the establishments of Edinburgh and Taymouth. Although, therefore, Lord Breadalbane was generally with them wherever they were, Lady Glenorchy had the direction and command of the whole establishments.
[Aged 21.] Soon after Lady Breadalbane's death, which took place at Bath, September 1, 1762, Lord and Lady Glenorchy, accompanied by Lord Breadalbane, went abroad, intending to make the usual tour of Europe. They had spent some time in France, and had proceeded to Nice, when Lord Breadalbane left them, being called home by the death of his sister, who was maid of honour to the Princess Amelia. Lord and Lady Glenorchy pursued their journey to Italy and Rome; and after spending about two years on the continent, they returned home.
[1764. Aged 23.] Lady Glenorchy was now about twenty-three years of age, and during all that time "had walked according to the course of this world, without God, and without hope." This is the account which she herself gave about two years afterwards in
her Journal, which shall presently be brought before
On their return to Britain, Lady Glenorchy, like the bulk of young people in her circumstances and present state of mind, entered with ardour into the pomp and splendour of high life, and frequented public places and fashionable amusements. But among these she found no place on which she could rest the sole of her foot. In the full possession of all those things which are objects of envy to the worldling, she was wretchedly forlorn. O! what a hard and deceitful task-master is this present evil world!
That the health of a young and delicate female should suffer from such a mode of life, is not uncommon. And so it was with Lady Glenorchy. The seasons of indisposition, however, were seasons of reflection: she thought of God and religion, became sensible that she was not in spirit what she ought to be, and formed resolutions of abandoning her present pursuits, of returning to God, and living a devout and religious life. But, alas! when the dawn of health and spirits appeared, as is usual in such cases, the dew of good intentions evaporated.
Great Sugnal, where Lord and Lady Glenorchy sometimes resided, was at no great distance from Hawkstone, the celebrated seat of Sir Rowland Hill, Bart. At this time, several of the younger branches of this family, Mr Richard Hill, the Rev. Rowland Hill, Miss Hill their eldest sister, and another sister, afterwards Mrs Tudway, were of a decidedly pious character, and bore the reproach ordinarily connected with it, from the thoughtless, the formal, and the profligate. Lady Glenorchy visited this family, became intimate with it, revered and loved its members, and secretly wished that she was like them. Happily the time was at hand in which God fulfilled these desires of her heart.
Early in the summer of 1765 she was at Taymouth. While there, she was seized with a dangerous putrid fever, and confined to her bed in the melancholy state of mind to which reference has already been made. On her convalescence, by a singular circumstance in Providence, a train of serious thoughts and reasonings was produced, and was followed by convictions and purposes which ended in a complete renovation of heart and conduct. To this she beautifully adverts in her journal.
Lady Glenorchy was not yet twenty-four, and Miss Hill was about her own age, perhaps somewhat older. They had before been intimate, but from this time they became bosom friends. The goodness of God was very evident in providing for Lady Glenorchy an adviser so well informed, so wise and prudent, so faithful and affectionate. The judicious and pious reader will be struck with wonder and admiration at the religious knowledge and experience of so young a person, and at the ease and clearness, as well as decision, with which she in her letters conveys her ideas; and at the integrity and truth, the simplicity, fervour, and good sense, with which she expresses herself on various, and even mysterious subjects.*
*The correspondence between these friends, from 1765 to 1768, was frequent, and did it exist entire on both sides, would be very valuable. Miss Hill survived Lady Glenorchy only a few years, having died about 1793, and most probably had destroyed the letters of her friend, as they contained much delicate communication; for her niece, to whom her papers were committed, could find no vestige of them. The original letters of Miss Hill, the author of these Annals thinks, were also restored to her by Lady Maxwell, Lady Glenorchy's executrix, soon after Lady Glenorchy's death; for he is in the possession of a letter from Miss Hill, requesting him to apply to Lady Maxwell to restore them. However, a very considerable number of them has been preserved, in a very neat and