JULIA MARGARET CAMERON, the third daughter of James Pattle of the Bengal Civil Service,
was born on June 11, 1815. Her father was a gentleman of marked, but doubtful, reputation, who
after living a riotous life and earning the title of "the biggest liar in India," finally drank himself
to death and was consigned to a cask of rum to await shipment to England. The cask was stood 
outside the widow's bedroom door. In the middle of the night she heard a violent explosion, 
rushed out, and found her husband, having burst the lid off his coffin, bolt upright menacing 
her in death as he had menaced her in life. "The shock sent her off her head then and there, poor 
thing, and she died raving." It is the father of Miss Ethel Smyth who tells the story (Impressions 
that Remained), and he goes on to say that, after "Jim Blazes" had been nailed down again and 
shipped off, the sailors drank the liquor in which the body was preserved, "and, by Jove, the 
rum ran out and got alight and set the ship on fire! And while they were trying to extinguish 
the flames she ran on a rock, blew up, and drifted ashore just below Hooghly. And what do you 
think the sailors said? 'That Pattle had been such a scamp that the devil wouldn't let him go out of 
India!' "

His daughter inherited a strain of that indomitable vitality. If her father was famous for his 
lies, Mrs. Cameron had a gift of ardent speech and picturesque behaviour which has impressed 
itself upon the calm pages of Victorian biography. But it was from her mother, presumably, 
that she inherited her love of beauty and her distaste for the cold and formal conventions of 
English society. For the sensitive lady whom the sight of her husband's body had killed was a 
Frenchwoman by birth. She was the daughter of Chevalier Antoine de l'Étang, one of Marie 
Antoinette's pages, who had been with the Queen in prison till her death, and was only saved by 
his own youth from the guillotine. With his wife, who had been one of the Queen's ladies, he was 
exiled to India, and it is at Ghazipur, with the miniature that Marie Antoinette gave him laid upon 
his breast, that he lies buried.

But the de l'Étangs brought from France a gift of greater value than the miniature of the unhappy 
Queen. Old Madame de l'Étang was extremely handsome. Her daughter, Mrs. Pattle, was lovely. 
Six of Mrs. Pattle's seven daughters were even more lovely than she was. "Lady Eastnor is one 
of the handsomest women I ever saw in any country," wrote Henry Greville of the youngest,