"Mrs. Charlotte Mordaunt, took it into her elderly head to make our house her home. She had lived with her uncle-in-law, Mr. Heneage Legge, till his death, and having conceived an affection for my unworthy self, the idea of promoting my interests by increasing my father's income occurred to her mind. The realisation of this plan, involved, as I have said, the necessity of our removal to a larger abode; for "Cousin Charlotte's" possessions, in the shape of books, classically valuable, were large, to say nothing of an exquisite " Sir Joshua,"* her mother's portrait, which would of course be hung in her private sitting-room. She was not the least exacting, that wealthy old maid, who, beneath the simplest of manners and of dress, was without exception the proudest as well as the most fastidious of her sex. She had from her childhood been accustomed to dwell in rich men's houses. nevertheless, her domiciliation in our unpretending habitation was effected without eliciting on her part the faintest murmur of disapproval. In our pretty villa at Molesey, where we became the near neighbours of my father's old friend, the editor of the Quarterly, "Cousin Charlotte's" little sitting-room, with, on three sides, its well-filled dwarf bookcase, and over the chimney-piece the precious "Sir Joshua," speedily became, for me the most valued of refuges. In that small square library (if such it could be called), the one window of which had view upon a paddock, whereon our three cows "fed like one," I passed, after Mrs. L 's departure, some of the pleasantest as well as the most profitable hours of my life. I had always, no uncommon taste, by the way, loved flowers, but it was in that quiet, bookworm-smelling boudoir that I, under my cousin's tuition, learned something of the science of botany, and that my love for gardening in all its forms grew and strengthened.
I have not as yet mentioned that, in addition to the royal parks and palaces, the gardens appertaining to those palaces were under my father's surveillance, and this being the case, he was fortunate in securing the services as head and landscape gardener, of a man as remarkable for taste and practical knowledge of his profession, as he was for his morose disposition and singular bearishness of manner. Between this man, whose name was Johnstone, and our new inmate there soon existed a very excellent understanding. The former was quick to perceive, as well as ready to show respect to the possessors of real and incontestable knowledge; and therefore Miss (or rather Mrs. Mordaunt, for the dear little woman had lately assumed brevet rank) was always treated by him with a deference which he never accorded either to his employer or to the Ranger, who seemed to enjoy, when accident threw him in the way of the surly Scotchman, a chat with that invaluable functionary. It is needless to say that the treatment meted out to "Cousin Charlotte" was due to her botanical acquirements, and to her love of trees and flowers, which Johnstone was quick-witted enough to perceive had the merit of being genuine.
The near neighbourhood of our home to that of my father's old friend, John Wilson Croker, was the means of our becoming acquainted with several literary and world-famed characters. Amongst these I may mention Theodore Hook, James Smith, Sir William Follett, the poet Moore, Sir Francis Chantrey, and Sir Thomas Lawrence. The two latter were, I recollect, especially introduced by their host to Mrs. Mordaunt, and this professedly on account of the ownership by our cousin of the "Sir Joshua" which adorned her sanctum. I can see Sir Thomas's tall figure before me now, as he stood admiringly in front of my grand-aunt's portrait. He had a pleasant face and a courteous manner, which contrasted agreeably with Mr. Croker's short stature, and fussy, self-important demeanour. The successful man did the honours both of the portrait, the Mordaunt family generally, and of the artist, one of whose exquisite works was of course the theme of his lecture, with an air of patronage which, as I could plainly see, was irritating beyond measure to my cousin. Beneath the homely dress she wore, the old Norman blood of the Mordaunts evidently rose up in silent protest against the pretentious off-handedness of the Mayo ganger's son.
* The beautiful portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds of my great-aunt, Mrs. Mordaunt, is now in Walton Hall, the seat of Sir Charles Mordaunt, whilst the companion picture, also by Sir Joshua, of my grandmother, Lady Morris, sister of Mrs. Mordaunt, was bought a few years ago by Mr. Beaumont, M.P., and now adorns the walls of the wealthy purchaser's Northumberland home. "
(Web-master's note - "the Mayo ganger's son," an interesting description of Sir Thomas Laurance. Not how Wikipedia describes him.)