Welsh Journals

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BENJAMIN AND AUGUSTA HALL, 1831-36 (PLATES XIII. 5-8) SHORTLY after the return1 of the Halls2 and Mrs. Waddington3 to Llanover, at the beginning of 1831, Benjamin was invited to stand for Parliament to represent the County of Monmouth. He refused, partly because of his disinclination to oppose his old friend, Sir Charles Morgan, 4 and partly because he felt it would be impossible to succeed in face of the overwhelming Morgan interest in the County, which had been enhanced by their prudence in voting in favour of Reform. Benjamin was then invited to stand for Monmouth Boroughs5 against the Beauforts,6 who had voted against Reform. He immediately accepted, although their wealth, power and prestige as landed proprietors might well have made him pause, for no-one had ever succeeded against them, or their nominees, since Henry VIII had suppressed the Lords Marchers and constituted Monmouthshire a separate county. During the six years, from 1831 to 1837, in which he represented the Monmouth Boroughs as a Whig Reformer, he and his wife continued to entertain the usual run of Waddington cousins, Hall brothers, sister, and in-laws and friends. The Chevalier Neukomm8 was among the large party staying at Llanover in October 1831, and they had music every evening, the party being especially delighted with his brilliant variations on Serch Hudol, a Welsh tune familiar to them all. There were also fancy dress dances at Abergavenny, Cricket Dances, and the usual Assembly Balls. In October 1832, Benjamin was instrumental in saving the unique Hortus Siccus9 of Mrs. Delany,10 which is now in the British Museum. Mrs. Waddington and Augusta had been roused to a high pitch of anxiety at hearing of the sale of Park Hall, and its contents, owing to the ruin of its owner, Mr. Stratton.11 It was a totally unexpected blow, for Mrs. Stratton was Augusta's cousin, the former Anne D'Ewes12 of Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, who had a fortune of £ 39,000 on her marriage, and her husband had an income of £ 7,000 a year. Everyone had thought it a most suitable match, but the wretched man had spent his own, his wife's, and even his 86-year-old mother's money on elections and speculation. Not even his wife knew of his ruin until there was an execution in the house, and she discovered he had escaped to America, leaving her and his mother penniless. Mrs. Waddington was in a fever when she heard the news, for all the marvellous Hortus Siccus cut out by Mrs. Delany, and her oil and crayon paintings, had been left to Mrs. Stratton. Neither Mrs. Waddington, nor Augusta, both brought up to revere Mrs. Delany's memory, could bear to think of these precious relics