She was born near Clonmel in County Tipperary, Ireland. She did not have a happy childhood as she grew up in poverty having had a feckless father.
Her wretchedness was only increased as she reached her teens. At fifteen she was forcibly married off to an English officer, Captain Maurice St. Leger Farmer, who was a drunk. His vice and debts killed him in the end having became a lodger at King’s Bench Prison in 1817.
Fortunately young Margaret had by then fled to Hampshire to live with the family of a sympathetic and literary sea-captain, Thomas Jenkins.
She was introduced to John Gardiner, the 1st Earl of Blessington, a widower with four children, two are legitimate. Four months after her first husband’s death in prison, Margaret was wed to the Earl.
Marguerite was stunning, of rare beauty and wit. She was also generous and extravagant, just like her husband, the earl. They were spending too much that they encumbered their estate with a lot of debts.
Allegedly Marguerite and the Earl had met Count D’Orsay in 1821. D’Orsay was French, a dandy – a follower of fashion. There were evidences of sexual liaison between the three. A menage a trois?!!! All very broad-minded. LOL
The Earl and Countess with their retinue of children, sister-in-law and servants set off for a continental tour where again they met Count D’Orsay. They also met Lord Byron through the introduction of the Count; Marguerite was beguiled with the meetings with Byron that she wrote her most memorable work “Conversation with Byron’.
The Earl and Countess settled for a while in Naples and also spent time in Florence, often with D’Orsay.
Such was their close relationship that in 1827, D’Orsay married one of the Earl’s daughters.
Harriet Gardiner was fifteen years old at that time; it was not a happy, romantic marriage. D’Orsay used the nuptial as a means of a permanent connection with the Blessington family.
The sham of a marriage ended up in legal separation where Harriet paid off D’Orsay £100,000 to ensure that he does not make a claim to the Blessington estate. This was in 1838.
Prior to 1838, the Earl of Blessington died in 1829. His widowed countess returned to England with D’Orsay. Their new life was one of literary pursuit, first at Seamore House, then at their Gore House, which became an open place for literary and artistic society of London. The likes of Benjamin Disraeli and Edward Burwer-Lytton would discuss arts with D’Orsay, who was himself an amateur painter and sculptor.
Their way of life was extravagant that the debt collectors were always knocking at their door.
D’Orsay went back to Paris whilst Marguerite sold off all the furnitures and other things that can be sold in view of moving to France to be with D’Orsay.
Alas, she was only in Paris for two weeks when her heart burst. Apparently her heart had swelled up four times its size. 🙁
D’Orsay was left heart-broken.
He designed a grey pyramidal tomb for his Marguerite where he was also interred upon his death.
Genius is the gold in the mine, talent is the miner who works and brings it out.
Love-matches are made by people who are content, for a month of honey, to condemn themselves to a life of vinegar.
– Countess of Blessington
Religion converts despair, which destroys, into resignation, which submits.