'I believe there never was a man suffered so much and for so little purpose.'
STRATFIELD SAYE provided little comfort. Endeavouring to please him, his wife invited guests to stay when he himself was coming; but they were rarely people he wanted to see, and sometimes he did not even remember their names. 'The Duchess,' he told Harriet Arbuthnot, 'has certainly the most extraordinary fancy in the selection of her acquaintances.' And worse than this, it was he who was expected to entertain them, while his wife sat at the other end of the table, dressed, 'even in winter', so Lady Shelley recorded, 'in white muslin, without any ornaments, when everyone else was in full dress . . . She seldom spoke, but looked through her eyeglass lovingly upon the Duke . . . When the ladies went into the drawing-room she retired into her own room.'1 She could see little without the aid of her ill-fitting spectacles or the lorgnette which she used with nervous fidgetiness. Her clothes annoyed her husband, too. He liked women to be smartly, fashionably dressed; but Kitty never troubled to be so. Her head-dresses were particularly unappealing. A complaint about a head-dress was passed on to her by her elder son who told her that his father was 'extremely hurt' at its 'being inconsistent with and beneath the station' which she held in the world. There seems, however, to have been no noticeable improvement in the Duchess's style of dressing thereafter, or in the relationship between husband and wife. While out walking one day at Stratfield Saye with Mrs Arbuthnot, the Duke complained 'heavily' of his continuing domestic annoyances. 'The parties at his house are certainly spoilt by the Duchess,' Mrs Arbuthnot said, 'for she is the most abominably silly, stupid woman that ever was born; but I told the Duke [not for the first time] I thought he was to blame, too, for that all wd go on much better if he would be civil to her but he is not. He never speaks to her & carefully avoids ever going near her.'2