Monday, March 15, 2010

Shepherd, Locke, and Fricandeau

An interesting anecdote about Lady Mary Shepherd, in a letter (November 19, 1829) from Joseph Jekyll to Lady Gertrude Sloane Stanley:

Joseph dined yesterday with that crazy metaphysician Lady Mary Sheppard, who swore to me that she read and mastered Mr. Locke's profound treatise at eight years old. The best of it is that Joseph will not admit that she is insane, as she gives him fricandeau.

About Joseph Jekyll I have been able to find very little. He was a barrister who went up to Parliament; he was one of several candidates preferred by Lord Lansdowne. Jeremy Bentham, the utilitarian, was so furious at not having been chosen that he wrote Lansdowne a letter consisting of an extended rant seventy pages long. In the course of it, he says that Jekyll in Parliament was a burlesque on the very idea of Parliament. Be that as it may, Jekyll seems to have acquitted himself well enough as a member of the Whig party; he was in Parliament for over three decades during which, he says in one of his letters, "I gave hopeless votes for Reform, Catholics, Dissenters, and black men," but the 'hopeless' part came to an end with the government of Earl Grey, which passed the Reform Act of 1832 and abolished slavery throughout the Empire. The Joseph mentioned in the letter is his son; the younger Jekyll was a friend of Washington Irving. In November of 1829 Lady Mary would have been approaching sixty years old. Fricandeau is a way of cooking veal by larding and braising it; I've never had it, but it is supposed to be quite the delicacy: famously it is so tender that it is supposed to be carved with a spoon, never a knife.

In any case, the interesting comment is his claim that Lady Mary "swore...that she read and mastered Mr. Locke's profound treatise at eight years old."

UPDATE: Apparently Joseph Jekyll wrote a biographical essay on Ignatius Sancho

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