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It has been put to me, by those that appreciate this account, that there are those that would desire these memoirs in a more compendious and portable form. With the inestimable services and skills of Mistress [personal profile] clanwilliam, Volumes the First to the Eighth of these memoirs are now available as what are known among the cognoscenti as, ebooks.

These may be downloaded, by such as desire to read 'em, at Google Docs:

The Comfortable Courtesan: A Memoir by Madame C- C- (that has been a Lady of the Demi-Monde these several years)

Volume the First

Volume the Second

Volume the Third

Volume the Fourth

Volume the Fifth

Volume the Sixth

Volume the Seventh

Volume the Eighth

Madame C- expresses herself highly indebt’d to those that find amusement, education, mayhap even edification, in these chronicles. Any particular appreciation may be expresst thru’ the good offices of PayPal.

She also wishes to convey, to those that have expresst a desire to emulate her good friend that goes by the style of HotUtilitarian in writing what is call’d fanfic, that several works can now be found at AO3, and may indeed be added unto by those that so desire. Indeed, words can hardly convey her most exceeding gratification at being a Yuletide fandom.

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'Tis soon discover’d that the Admiral is already appriz’d of the sad end to their hopes of a pledge following Lady J-'s summer in the Mediterranean, and has took the opportunity of coming to England provid’d by a need to lay certain matters before the Admiralty, quite post-haste, so that he might see her.

'Tis consider’d entire in keeping with the fine romantick tale of their long devotion, I can see from the expressions on the faces of Lady Z-, Mrs O- B-, Lady D-, and Miss S-.

Biffle goes explain that Lady J- has been prevail’d upon to go to Harrogate to recruit - sure the airs in Hampshire are very sanitive but he dares say that the Admiral knows what 'tis like with Lady J- and a dairy: she would be up and doing rather than resting.

Harrogate, hah?

Answer’d most exceedingly for me, says Eliza, I confide 'twill do the like for Lady J-.

Biffle beckons over a footman who provides the Admiral with brandy. He looks about the room, and remarks, a few faces he does not know – while nodding to those he does. Biffle goes make introductions.

We discover that the Marquess is known to the Admiral after some encounter in the West Indies, when he was Lord Anthony and exploring for plants.

Viola steps forward and says, she will go tell the housekeeper to make him up a bed in one of the guest chambers –

No need at all, cries the Admiral, would not put anyone to trouble, have left my dunnage at my club and will stay there, 'tis entire convenient for the Admiralty.

No, indeed, says Biffle, we would entirely desire you to stay here for the duration of your visit, but perchance you might wish to move yourself in tomorrow.

'Tis exceeding kind of you, Duke, says the Admiral, but I am in hopes that when I go visit the Admiralty the morn, they will say that 'twill be a se’ennight or so before they can resolve the matter and I may return to my flagship, and I would take that opportunity to go to Harrogate to see m’wife.

The company considers this most extreme proper, and there are, I confide, some little sighs at how romantick this shows.

But have you din’d this e’en? asks Eliza.

The Admiral confesses that he has not and is immediate conduct’d to the supper-table so that he may take sustenance.

He goes reassure us all that 'tis not a matter of warfare breaking out somewhere in the Mediterranean, tho’ even was that the case he confides that the Navy would have the business well in hand.

As the party goes break up, I say that I will take the Admiral in my carriage: sure I may drop him off at his club, or else send him on once I have been convey’d home.

Once we are in the carriage, the Admiral takes hold of my hand in a very fierce grip and says, you would not go put me off with soft words: how does she, in truth?

Dear Admiral, says I, why do you not come in for a little of some very excellent port I have of late got in my cellar, and I will quite entire reassure you about Lady J-.

So we go in, and the Admiral greets Hector very warm, and we go into my pretty parlour and I desire the Admiral to go stir up the fire, and Hector comes with port and madeira.

As to Lady J-, says I, sipping my madeira, sure she was very much shaken by this unhappy event, and she did not do herself any good by supposing she could quite immediate get back into her old ways. For sure, she has always been a lady of quite abounding health and vital force, and 'tis exceeding distressing to her that she found herself so overset by this matter.

Indeed, says I, I incline to think that she suppos’d she was not like other women and could bear this business without all the troubles to which female flesh is heir, but 'twas not the case.

I think you have the right of it, says he, one sometimes sees the like in fellows that are wound’d and find that they are not as impervious as they thought. (Indeed, I think of Captain C-.)

But, he says, how was it contriv’d to get her to Harrogate? For she would ever speak very disdainfull of those that run around quacking themselves at spaws.

O, says I, 'twas entirely Miss A-'s doing. Went about to get herself a season playing in Harrogate, which quite inclin’d Lady J- to take the course that had been adviz’d to her of taking the waters. Tho’, I continue, I daresay that it may be the rest from being about many things that does her most good.

That was most excellent done of Miss A-! he cries. What a fine thing is their affection. And indeed m’wife is inclin’d to overdo - would go out in the fierce midday heat to walk about some ruin or other, I was in dread she would take a stroke of the sun.

He sighs. Indeed I was worry’d by her letter conveying the sad news: 'twas most unlike her usual style. But you set my mind at rest, dear Lady B-: still quite the finest woman in the realm.

O, tush, says I, sure a marry’d man ought to save such declarations for his wife.

And you still do not incline to another essay in matrimony?

Indeed not, says I (for I can anticipate no prospect that would allow me a ceremonious union with my dear loves).

And you are not lonely?

I smile and say, dear Admiral, why should you suppose that I would be lonely? 'Twould be entire false modesty to pretend there are not a deal of fellows would offer suit did I show agreeable to the prospect.

'Twas ever thus, says he with a smile, but you were ever fastidious.

He extends his hand to me and I take it. We smile at one another and I perceive that matters 'twixt us are as they have ever been.

At breakfast the morn, for which Euphemia has contriv’d to provide kedgeree and some mutton chops in the Hindostanee style, the Admiral says 'tis a pity he cannot remain in Town, would greatly like to renew his acquaintance with Lord Anthony – the Marquess, he should say. Quite the finest of fellows. While he was in the West Indies, and all suppos’d him quite entire about collecting flowers and strange plants, he compil’d a deal of information about the shocking conditions upon the plantations.

He seems an excellent fellow, says I.

Sure I wonder how he will settle down after the life he has led.

I smile a little and say, I think he has found his marchioness, that will make the prospect agreeable to him.

The Admiral smiles very broad and says, sure, that is excellent news. He grows more sober and says, he has some apprehension that there was a lady in the matter somewhere in the Spanish Americas but there was some tragedy came upon her. 'Twill be quite some several years ago now, and indeed, tho’ fellows will make protestations that their heart is in the grave &C, 'tis entire natural to love again.

(I daresay 'twas some comrade in the cause, one may quite imagine: or perchance 'tis but the fancy of a Gothick novelist.)

Hector comes and says, Mr MacD- comes call, wonders if the Admiral has come here for breakfast and converse with an old friend.

(O, the weasel, thinks I, knows well enough is the Admiral here what we will have been about.)

Show him in, says I, and you had better desire fresh coffee of Euphemia.

Comes in Sandy and greets us both very civil. Says, does Admiralty business permit the Admiral to take a little while to go see Lady J-, he has lookt out the coaches for Harrogate for him –

Most exceeding thoughtfull, says the Admiral, could wish some of my officers were as beforehand of matters.

- and has some books – works upon the classicks - that Lady J- might care for to beguile the time when she is not taking waters.

Why, she will be most extreme gratefull! Indeed that is a fine thought.

I remark that altho’ I apprehend that there are excellent circulating libraries at Harrogate, I doubt that they would have the kinds of works that Lady J- finds so agreeable. Sure one would not expect her to be reading horrid tales.

The Admiral says, has been most agreeable renewing our acquaintance, but he must be about his business.

I say sure he may take my carriage, I do not go out the morn.

He rises, expresses himself most indebt’d to Mr MacD-'s kindness, and perchance may see us again before he returns to his flagship.

I desire him to give my fondest regards to Lady J-, and to Miss A- does he encounter her.

He goes out. Sandy sits down. Enters Celeste with fresh coffee.

O, you weasel! says I.

Sandy looks at me very amiable and says, among your good friends 'tis known what a fine antient affection lyes 'twixt you and the Admiral. Indeed I suppos’d the F-s would be somewhat put about in the matter, but sure they shrugg’d and said, oh, 'tis the Admiral, that C- has not seen this age.

'Tis true, says I, and there has been this sad matter of the loss of their hopes; if one may convey some comfort -

Sandy helps himself to a mutton-chop, and says, has come to his ears that Reynaldo is appriz’d that the Marquess of O- has had somewhat to do with revolutionary matters in the Spanish Americas, and wonders should he go fight there for the Cause.

We both groan.

Why, says I at length, I confide 'twill come to nothing, for Lady Z- may plead that the anxiety 'twould cause her would be most deleterious for a lady in her condition.

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Is deliver’d to me one forenoon a little note from Lady T-, saying that she has receiv’d the proofs of her work upon lace and quite begging my assistance in the matter.

Sure, thinks I, can be quite daunting the first time one sees such a thing, and sure I was extreme fortunate in having Sandy’s guidance upon the business. I write and say, alas, today I am oblig’d to be about business of the optickal dispensary, but could come tomorrow.

She finds this quite answerable and so the following afternoon I take myself to T- House, where I find Lady T- in her parlour looking a little distraught. She looks exceeding pleas’d to see me.

O, Lady B-, she cries, sure I confide that you will know about this matter, for indeed it puzzles me.

I desire her to show me the proofs, and indeed, I do not perceive any great matter to be put about over; but I daresay 'tis the strangeness that troubles her. I go explain to her how one may mark errours - tho’, says I, 'tis a fine accurate piece of work, there will always be some go creep in.

She rings for tea and then says, seeing the matter in print makes her consider over how ambitious she has been.

Do not despair, Lady T-, says I: sure the extreme fine observation that you take to lace-making will serve you well at this task.

She of a sudden smiles and says, she dares say: and with lace there is no such chance to correct errours. Indeed you are kind to a cross-grain’d old woman.

Poo, says I, you do yourself injustice.

O, she says, I have some apprehension of how I am spoke of behind my back. Indeed, do I not note the buzz of conversation fall silent when I enter a room?

Sure, says I, 'tis known that you have excellent high notions of good ton, and I daresay those that go gossip or talk frivolity become conscious that they lapse from that standard.

She sighs a little. Dear Lady B-, she says, what is’t about you that so many find they may open their hearts to you?

Perchance, says I, 'tis because I learnt in my former life the value of discretion: for a lady of the demimonde that discloses secrets of her patrons or goes gossip upon them will soon find them fall away. Tho’, I continue, sure there are those save up such matters so that they may go write scandalous memoirs in their old age.

Why, says she, I had never thought of that, but indeed 'tis sound business practice. But, my dear, has Lord K- ever open’d his heart to you? I wish he would, has he not, for I am sure you would give him the most excellent counsel as a lady that knows a deal of the world.

He has not, says I.

'Tis pity, she says. For 'tis not as tho’ he has masculine intimates, either.

Even had he so, says I, 'tis most rare that gentlemen will feel easy in disclosing the innermost secrets of their hearts to other fellows.

She sighs, and we turn once more to looking over the proofs.

At length comes in Lord T-, and greets me very civil, while desiring his wife not to strain her eyes over-much, now it grows dark so early. Sure he manifests a fine affection towards her.

She rings for fresh tea; unless he should prefer a little brandy?

'Tis not yet cold enough for that, he replies. Has just been at R- House about a conclave of their politickal set: here is the Marquess of O-, inclines towards them, but has been out of England a good deal, requires informing of the issues. Adviz’d him to consult with MacD- about some fellow that could act his politickal secretary. Finds that Mr C-, that was preferr’d to him by MacD-, answers most exceedingly.

Comes in fresh tea, and the candles are lit.

Lady T- says that Lady B- has been most infinite helpful over these proofs. Sure she sees now how to continue.

The door opens and comes in Lord K-, that blinks a little at the sight of me but makes civil.

I say that sure I have linger’d long enough: does Lady T- require any further assistance with her proofs, to call upon my services at once; and take my leave.

Lord T- shows gracious in escorting me to the door and waiting while I put on my tippet and bonnet, while expressing his gratitude that I come keep Lady T- company and sooth her worries over this fine book she goes to make.

And an exceeding fine volume 'twill be, says I.

When I arrive home I go change, and Docket is extreme put about that I have left the matter so late.

Really, Docket, says I, an entire informal little evening party at M- House? Sure 'tis not an occasion for a display of finery.

Docket snorts and says that even so, My Ladyship should be well-turn’d-out, shows respect to the company.

Sure, Docket, you are quite correct, but when do you ever let me out other than well-turn’d-out?

Sophy looks exceeding amuz’d.

I contemplate my reflexion in my fine pier-glass, and confide that I am turn’d out entire suitable to the occasion.

Has been impresst upon me that 'twill be an entire friendly gathering of our set at M- House, quite informal, good conversation, a fine supper, mayhap Her Grace will play a little and Mrs O- B- agree to sing, perchance a little dancing does the company feel inclin’d, to introduce around the Marquess of O-.

'Tis Thomas keeps the door when I arrive: I smile upon him and says I hope that he and Jennie do well, while conveying him a compliment. Indeed, he says, and Phillips shows most exceeding kind to her.

The party takes place in one of the fine reception rooms – sure we should be quite lost in the ballroom. 'Twould be entire vanity to go glide in like a swan, however much my darlings admire the effect do I so.

Most of the company is already gather’d, and converse amiably among themselves in several groups.

Biffle and Viola are talking to the Marquess: Viola is telling him that sure, Lady Anna cannot be so very young, has been out at least two seasons already: tho’ 'tis true that her aunt, that is now gone to Bombay, had somewhat fusty notions and she may not have had a very wide experience of Society.

Biffle says, his arm going around Viola’s waist, that just because a lady is young, does not mean that she does not have good sense. At least, he has found that so. Viola looks up at him very fond, and says, sure, with a good husband to guide her, a young lady may come into good practices and habits.

To guide, says I, not rule. Do we not observe how much happyer Lord and Lady D- are now that he does not lay down severe rules of conduct?

Biffle says, he is not the one in their household that will lay down rules. He and Viola look at one another and both laugh a little.

And have you heard from Lady J- in Harrogate? I ask.

Indeed, says Viola, writes that she finds Dr J- answers just as Mrs F- suppos’d he would; the waters are quite disgusting to drink but doubtless do her a deal of good; Miss A- is not only much acclaim’d for her performances but greatly askt about to give readings for the benefit of good causes.

They turn away as Lord and Lady D, with Miss S-, are shown in. I go recount to the Marquess somewhat of Lady J-'s history, as I could see him wear the expression of one that hears others recount matter where the persons are already so well-known that the slightest allusion has meaning, but 'twill be quite baffling to one that knows the matter not.

Talking of readings, he says, when I have finisht, there is an on-dit that Lady B- is quite renown’d for her readings from Shakspeare, and has been mention’d that we may have that pleasure this e’en?

O, the weasels! I cry. Sure I daresay they already have the fine volume out ready.

Sure 'tis a most agreeable e’en. There is a little dancing, but as Susannah and Lady Z- both declare that they are not dancing at present – Lady D-, that is not so far along, concedes to dance a little – and Viola plays the piano for us – there is a shortage of ladies that may partner the gentlemen. (Alas, thinks I, that Milord and Sandy may not dance together, for I am sure that would be an exceeding fine sight.)

Mrs O- B- has brought her musick and obliges us with a few songs.

After supper, Sandy is persuad’d to read some Burns, and I concede to read a little from the Bard. Since Lord D- and his womenfolk have already heard me give my fam’d Juliet’s Nurse, and 'tis so greatly lik’d by my friends, I present that, along with some other passages.

While I am reading that fine speech concerning The barge she sat in, there is some knocking upon the outer door and someone speaking loudly, tho’ not so loud that we may hear the words.

The door of the reception room opens and enters Admiral K-.

How now, he says – somewhat moderating the quarterdeck tones we heard just now – where is m’wife?

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I confide that the drawing-room meeting for the orphanage has contriv’d to raise a deal of money for the enterprize, tho’ Mrs O- B- was kind enough to remark that sure it could not compare with mine, and she and her daughters are quite entire at my disposal do I purpose another.

Why, says I, I do indeed intend another one quite shortly for the work of the T-s in the antipodes.

This minds me that I should be about the business, in particular do I offer as an inducement to attend the renown’d singing of Titus, that is now so much in demand, so the morn finds me writing a deal of little notes. Sure I may not throw out the lure of Miss A-, for she remains in Harrogate and has most appreciative audiences there. But I am sure Meg will be delight’d to play the piano, and I daresay I might give some readings myself.

I also solicit items that may be raffl’d. I wonder might Miss S-, under concealment of anonymity of course, donate a copy of her poems, that are quite the sensation.

Comes Hector to say that Matt Johnson has call’d.

Do show him in, says I, and bring some fresh coffee.

Comes in Matt Johnson and we greet one another very amiable. I ask him how the business of catching malefactors goes. He sighs and says, if you catch one you may be sure that there are a dozen more go scot-free: but indeed, lately he has contriv’d to put away some shocking villains.

Celeste comes with coffee and some very fine fruit-cake.

Sure, says I, there is so much wick’dness in human nature that I doubt you would ever find yourself out of your place –

He smiles and says, MacD- will have it that the wick’dness lyes in the way society is constitut’d and were matters reform’d, why, we should see a deal less villainy.

May be so, says I, for I daresay there are those go about thro’ poverty to commit crimes entire to support themselves and their families.

'Tis so. But Hector says Your Ladyship had some matter you wisht investigat’d?

Indeed, says I. You may already have some acquaintance with one Molly Binns, a lady that resides in Covent Garden –

He nods.

- is maintain’d in an establishment by a fellow that gives himself out a Mr Perkins, and is suppos’d a nurseryman or some such in a good way of business. I happen’d to observe this gentlemen lately, when I was about visiting Dolly Mutton, that excellent woman, and I am like to suppose that he is not what he gives himself out as, but another fellow entirely.

'Twould, I fear, look somewhat particular did I go interrogate Mistress Binns myself, but I should be most exceeding gratefull could one go sound out the matter.

He laughs a little and says, sure Molly would be entire over-aw’d did Lady B-, that was once the fam’d Madame C- C-, call upon her and I doubt not would tell you whatever she thought you want’d to hear, whether 'twas the truth of the matter or no.

And if this fellow is the one I suppose him to be, I go on, I had rather he did not know that 'twas I that was about making inquiries.

Matt Johnson taps the side of his nose to signify discretion.

We look at one another with very good feeling. He rises and says he must be going to Bow Street, but will be about my matter as soon as maybe.

'Tis very good of you, says I.

He looks a little embarrass’d, but says nothing.

After he has gone I turn once more to my task, so that I may send Timothy about with these messages.

Once this business is dispatcht, and before I may be about it any further I must attend upon the responses. I am request’d to act the chaperone to Lady Anna, that has been invit’d to visit O- House, that will be her Town home does she marry the Marquess of O-. (I confide she would be entire happy to live with him in a cottage, but this is the next act in the little comedy we all go play.)

(I am like to think that, altho’ I had been given to suppose that I would be consider’d quite unfitt’d to act the chaperone, there are those that mind that one with Lady B-'s history will sure have a fine understanding of the wiles and tricks that fellows may be up to, and be able to sound a warning do they go about them.)

I go in my carriage to N- House, where Lady Anna is waiting entire ready.

As she gets in, she looks down at herself and says, sure, one might suppose her some fairytale heroine that is in rags.

’Tis not that bad, says I. And I do not suppose His Lordship likes you for your clothes: indeed, I do not take him for one of those fellows that pride themselves that they know a deal about ladies’ dress and constitute themselves arbiters of style.

Sure I think he is not, she says with a happy smile.

We come to O- House, where I see the Marquess waiting outside even tho’ 'tis a chilly afternoon. I hope they will remember to shake hands very proper and formal and show somewhat indifferent until we are within.

They do indeed contrive to look somewhat cold towards one another until we are inside, when they clasp hands and look exceeding delight’d to be remet. I daresay do I go turn my back or walk into another room there will be kisses.

Lady Anna looks around. His Lordship says very apologetick that there is indeed a deal to do before 'tis fit for habitation –

Fiddlesticks, says I, it is none that bad, one could live here in reasonable comfort once the chimneys had been swept and a fine new range put into the kitchen, but sure 'tis not furbisht as a man would desire the place to which he brings his bride.

He looks at her extreme doating and says, he would desire to furbish it as she should wish, and shall we go look at the samples Lady B- has been so kind to bring?

Oh, says Lady Ann, I know nothing about such matters, but Lady B-, you are given out as having such exquisite taste, might you be my advisor in the matter?

This is entirely to my taste, for I have develop’d considerable strong notions of my own about how the various chambers might be furbisht and look exceeding well.

So we go around with the various examples of paint and pattern-books of chintzes &C and sure they probably think me as entire tedious as Mr N- as I talk of the matter. I also say that I can put them in the way of some excellent polishes that will quite bring up the very fine wood of the tables and sideboards and other furnishings. And, I continue, I confide that some several of these very fine mirrors would benefit from re-silvering.

I also go expatiate upon the merits of fine modern ranges in kitchens. I do not think they mark a deal of what I say for they gaze into one another’s eyes, and hold hands.

When we have been into every room and chamber and along every corridor and gallery, His Lordship says in a somewhat daz’d fashion, do you write it all out for me, Lady B- (sure I have been keeping a tally in my little memorandum book) and advize me how I should go about putting the matter in hand. Tho’ indeed matters at D- Chase were badly out of order from my brother’s ill-health, sure I am not come to ruin and need not stint upon this business.

I mind me that I still have the names and directions of the workmen that did exceeding well about the furbishment of B- House, that I would quite happy put in the way of this work.

I convey Lady Anna back to N- House, and she beseeches me to come in and have tea with Mama. 'Tis entirely agreeable to me.

As we pass through the fine hall of N- House, Lady Anna says, somewhat loud, sure 'tis a fine big house and a good address, but did you not think it exceeding shabby within? And the furnishings very old-fashion’d. Would need a deal doing before one might even consider moving into it.

We go into her mother’s chamber, where she lies upon the chaise-longue with Selina kneading upon her breast.

Lady Anna goes kiss her. O, Mama, she says, 'tis a very fine house but needs a deal of work doing. Lady B- has kindly said she will advize on the matter.

Lady N- smiles, and then rings for tea.

Indeed, Lady N-, says I, I should desire to convoke with you about some of the matters to do with O- House.

Oh, she says, I live so out of Society, I have no notion what the latest fashions in decoration or furniture are.

Mayhap not, says I, but I confide that you have an eye and I have seen how very neat and pretty you arrange His Lordship’s hortus siccus. I am like to suppose that your opinions on the furbishment of O- House would be exceeding nice.

O, Mama, says Lady Anna, that would be the primest thing.

Well, she says, I will consider upon it.

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My dearest darlings come of an e’en for triangular matters and a nice little supper.

Imagine! says I. I am like to confide that the Marquess of O- and Lady Anna M- will go make a match of it, but 'tis still very secret.

Josiah looks extreme reliev’d, and Eliza bursts out laughing. Did I not tell you? – depend on it, I said, this is our best of C-s has some contrivance upon hand for the Marquess, 'tis no matter of her setting her cap for him.

O, shame! I cry, sure I am subject’d to unjust suspicion and jealousy.

Eliza gets a thoughtfull look upon her face and says, sure he goes be a very naughty Grand Turk, to so misjudge our darling –

We look at one another and then at our very dear Josiah, that holds out his hands and says, sure, he is quite ready to be brought to a state of penitence.

This is most exceeding amuzing, and indeed, 'tis some while before we go eat the fine supper that Euphemia has prepar’d for us.

My dears, says I, when our hunger begins be sat’d and we are able to give less mind to the fine dishes before us, do you know is there any opening for a stable-boy, or perchance a boot-boy, or a scullery-maid, at R- House?

Are these, asks Eliza, some of Hector’s connexion that you would help to good places?

No, says I, they are the offspring of a fellow that lives along the mews and was working in the livery-stable until his leg was broke by a kick from a horse. Their sister Nell cleans the mews cottage. Their mother is desirous to send them out into places now the family is in this distress, and there are a deal of bad places about that one would not like to send a young person to.

Eliza says she will go consider, but is not their darling advizing the Marquess of O- about opening up O- House? surely there will be places there.

'Tis so, says I, but 'tis not yet an immediate prospect; I should not like to prefer them to places there until I had a notion of the upper servants and whether they follow’d good practices.

'Tis prudent, agrees Eliza, sure she fears that Dawkins would go relapse into the old bad practices did she not keep him under hand, even after they had got rid of the worst of the footmen. But, she goes on, she confides that they could find places for a scullery-maid and a stable-boy, and they would be learning somewhat of the practices of a fine household, and then when matters come further along at O- House they might be prefer’d there.

My darling, that is a most exceeding sensible notion. I have advanc’d their interest to those ladies that will go equip poor young people with boxes to take into their first place, and once they are provid’d, may come to R- House.

They both look at me very fond and say, they are like to worry that the finest of C-s goes over-do herself with all this contriving.

O, fiddlesticks, says I.

O, 'tis ever hard that they must depart, but alas, I confide that Society would not understand the inwardness of the matter.

Next morn I rise somewhat late. While I breakfast I think of a matter and ring for Hector.

Hector, says I, there is a matter I should wish to put one to investigating, but sure I would desire not to go send openly to Bow Street to see if Matt Johnson is at liberty to pursue it –

Hector says that he goes occasional to a club to practice the pugilistick art, that Mr Johnson also frequents, and they will occasional have a friendly bout of sparring, and does he not encounter the fellow next time he goes, 'tis known a place one may leave messages for him.

Excellent, says I, perchance you could let him know that I have a small matter that he may be able to help concerning.

Mr Johnson, says Hector with a very straight face, I confide is ever anxious to be of service to Your Ladyship.

Has certain been most extreme obliging, says I.

I am still at breakfast when Mrs N- comes calling, and says, sure 'tis an entire brangle at the theatre at present, she is oblig’d to spend a deal of time listening to Mr J- complain upon actresses, that will be flying off to Harrogate, or getting themselves with child –

Sure, says I, that is not a matter they may accomplish entire single-hand’d –

Mrs N- snorts with laughter. Indeed not, she says.

- and he fears Miss R- will go marry that fribble and quit the stage, and very like abandon Mr W- and he will go back on the bottle does he not have one to take care of him and then do somewhat imprudent and be taken up for sodomy.

I say that I am in hopes that matters may not come to that sad conclusion.

Oho, says Mrs N-, I will tell him that Lady B- quite entire has the strings in her hand.

Why, says I, I confide that there are ways the business may be manag’d and all be benefit’d. But, my dear – do help yourself to anything upon the table, they have sent up entire too much for one person –

O, says Mrs N-, I spy Euphemia’s fam’d devill’d kidneys: and helps herself very lavish.

- but I wonder does there any gossip go about concerning the Earl of N-?

I wait while Mrs N- finishes her mouthfull, and she then says, Lord N-? there is not a deal said about him; tho’ 'tis remarkt that tho’ his wife is an invalid and unable to be a true wife to him these several years, he shows exceeding faithfull, or at least, does not openly flaunt some mistress. Is not greatly given to play or the turf or the Fancy, mostly frequents scientifick sets and those that are interest’d in hortickulture. Indeed somewhat of a dull dog.

'Tis curious, says I, in very idle tones, that a fellow that was so ardent a husband that he begot half a dozen children in barely more years (for the M- children are all exceeding close in age) leads such a monkish life.

Mrs N- snorts again and says, sure he is more interest’d in the breeding of flowers these days.

Perchance, says I, 'tis a special pleasure. We both giggle.

She says that she will go see if there is anything else said about him.

Mayhap, says I, he goes filch cuttings &C from other hortickulturalists - I have heard that 'tis a thing happens, and consider’d in shocking poor ton.

But tell me, my dear, this on-dit that the Marquess of O- goes make suit to you -?

Fie, says I, as he has no close female relatives and is quite the stranger to Town life, I go advize him about furbishing up O- House and matters of Society. As far as his heart goes, I confide that there is metal more attractive somewhere about.

La, is’t so?

And even did he so, have I not ever said that there are few more agreeable conditions for a lady’s life than to be a well-left widow?

'Tis so, says Mrs N-, not that I have any complaints of Mr N-.

In the afternoon I am oblig’d to go to a drawing-room meeting in aid of the orphanage, and in order to mollify the crabb’d spirits of the orphanage ladies, I have conced’d to give a reading from The Bard.

I am most exceeding tempt’d to give them the Shrew’s exhortation that a woman mov’d is like a fountain troubl’d, but alas, 'twould not do. Tho’ I daresay that they would not take the implication.

I am like to suppose that there has been a deal of brangling over who should hold the meeting, and indeed, over all matters including what comestibles might be serv’d.

'Tis a great comfort to me that the Matron of the orphanage is a fine sensible practickal woman that gets on with the business of running the enterprize while the ladies go bicker and backbite. Otherwise I should fear greatly for the state of the orphans.

At the meeting I see Mrs O- B-, that sighs and says in a low voice that one of the ladies that plays the piano says she will go accompany her. Mayhap 'twill answer.

I see Lady D- and Miss S- and go greet them. Lady D- says with great excitement that there is a party making up to go to Astley’s, will that not be exceeding delightfull? (I am like to suppose that Lord D- has heard that the longings of a woman with child should not be thwart’d.) Miss S- looks at her very fondly. I ask after the pug, which is, according to Lady D-, quite the finest and most intelligent of its kind.

Miss S- says that Lord O- has been persuad’d to talk to the antiquarians concerning the curious objects of the Incas in his possession – had not thought to send anybody cards, but that kind fellow Mr L-, that gave such a fine lecture on Hebrew manuscripts, is a Fellow and sent cards to Her Grace, who is quite wild to go hear.

Why, says I, here am I in and out of O- House talking of carpets and curtains and chimney-sweeps, and he does not think to tell me. I shall certainly ask him for a card: tho’ I daresay I might have one from Mr L-.

I see that the proceedings are about to commence, and compose myself so that I do not resemble Coriolanus confronting the Roman mob, that I confide must have been very like unto the orphanage ladies.

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Volume the Eighth of the memoirs is now available as a collated ebook of the entries '‘Twould be uncivil to cut' to 'There are still a deal of matters that I could be about'.

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Sure I would be about my business, but as I sit here beside the fire I have Dandy and Pounce upon my lap, that purr mightily and that I should not like to disturb as they are so comfortable. Perchance I should go distribute kittens to the orphanage ladies?

'Tis a fine agreeable way to spend a forenoon – I look down at Dandy, that commences wash Pounce –

And then comes Euphemia, says Nell’s mother has come call, will not be prevail’d upon to come upstairs, perchance I could speak to her in the kitchen?

Why, says I, does she feel she is not dresst as parlour-company, I will come down.

So I go down to the kitchen, where Nell’s mother sits at the table with tea and some fine fruitcake, and looks most embarrasst when I come in, struggles to her feet and makes a dip. I wave her to sit down again.

Though she has a worn-down look and her clothes are somewhat shabby she is clean and respectable.

She quite tearfull expresses gratitude for the help she has had from the household, and says if there is anything they might do – do we perhaps need one to undertake the rough? – hope we will call upon them.

But, she says, 'tis an imposition she knows but there is another favour they would beseech: she hears that there is a charity will fit young people up ready to go out in service and if she could have a recommendation to 'em? Her eldest boy already goes work in the stables, but 'twould be a great help could she send out his brother and their next girl.

Why, says I, I have to do with the ladies that run that very fine enterprize, I will go at once write to them and dispatch it by Timothy. (I also mind that perchance I could go ask Mrs P- and Miss W- concerning the households they will not send servants to.)

She weeps mightily and says, sure she did not know where to turn.

I go about writing the letters, and send them off post-haste with Timothy.

Hector comes and assures me that they are a good hard-working family, but with the father unable to work… He confides that they will not become encroaching.

I return to my duties, the kittens having gone away in a huff.

Comes the afternoon, I desire Docket to array me as a chaperone, very plain and sober. Docket looks at me very sceptickal, and I observe Sophy endeavours to conceal a giggle.

But indeed, in a good simple gown, with one of my plainer caps, I feel I am suitable rigg’d out and set out for N- House.

I am shown into a parlour in which Lady Anna is already sitting, in a fine state of the frets. She takes me by both hands. O, Lady B-, I feel quite sick.

Calm yourself, my dear. Take a breath or two. Sit down, and I will sit here, beside you, quite immense proper.

We are seat’d, and she babbles a little about not putting on any finery for the fellow –

Then there is a sound of footsteps approaching the door, and we see the handle turn. Lady Anna squeezes my hand quite painfull as it opens.

And then she starts to her feet, saying, What do you here?

And the Marquess cries, Fair Hippolyta, is’t you?

But, she says, you must not stay, there is one coming any moment –

I rise to my feet and say, I see it falls to me to make introductions. Lady Anna, permit me to present the Marquess of O-. Your Lordship, Lady Anna M-.

They gaze upon one another like characters that of a sudden find themselves quite in a fairy-tale, entire struck dumb.

O, cries Lady Anna, with a little sob in her voice, I thought I was to be wed to a monster.

I hope, says the Marquess, that I shall never be monstrous in your sight.

I go look out of the window. When I turn back they are about a deal of kissing, so I clear my throat.

O, Lady B-, cries Lady Anna, that still holds the Marquess by the hand, do you think 'twould be proper to go introduce His Lordship to my mother?

Sure, that would be the entirest good ton, says I. I will stay a little here, for 'tis a private family moment, but then I will come see your mother, for I have some matters for her.

Sure the parlour we are in is very dull: no books, no china that I might admire, some indifferent paintings. I sit down and take my little memorandum book out of my reticule and look thro’ to remind myself of the various matters I have on hands at present.

After I have wait’d a sufficient while I go outside and desire a footman to escort me to the Countess’s chamber. He is follow’d by another, carrying the two heavy china pots with flowering plants in ‘em that I have brought for her – I confide that even Selina will have considerable difficulty in pushing 'em over.

When I enter Lady N-'s chamber she is quite sitting up on her chaise-longue, and there is a pretty colour in her cheeks. She clasps Lady Anna’s hand, saying, my dear, why did you not tell me?

O Mama, I did not want to fret and worry you with the business.

Lady N- kisses her daughter very loving, and then looks up.

Oh! she cries. Are these for me?

Indeed, says I, I convok’d with Roberts at R- House as to what would answer for a little floral decoration for you.

That is so exceeding kind, she says, 'Twill greatly refresh my spirit. But, dear Lady B-, did you know of this tangle of my little Nan?

Somewhat, says I.

Nan, my dear, she says, go ring for tea.

Lady Anna does so and then comes sit next to her mother on the chaise-longue. The Marquess looks at her very doating.

Lady N- looks from one to t’other and smiles.

Lady Anna smiles at the Marquess, and then looks a little sad. Sure, she says, 'tis most agreeable to have the matter of marriage settl’d, but indeed I was greatly looking forward to this Season, with Her Grace taking us about –

Lady N smiles and says, sure Laetitia was a fusty old mump that had most antiquat’d notions – one must wonder how she gets on in Bombay - and 'twould be a pity did dear Nan not enjoy a Season in younger company –

Why, says I, one perceives that the couple have come to a full private understanding, but there is no need to make any publick announcement just yet –

O, says Lady Anna, but Papa –

Why, says the Marquess, I apprehend that your father has taken very little consideration of your feelings and preferences in proposing this match, however happy it has turn’d out –

Sure, says I, 'tis most improper in me, but I go think that you might contrive to teaze him somewhat that the business hangs in the balance -

They all look at me with extreme interest.

- suppose, says I, that the Marquess went to Lord N- and said, sure his daughter is a fine handsome girl, but he has some concerns whether she be too young for the responsibilities that would come upon marriage, and that he would need further time to acquaint himself with her character –

While Lady Anna could say, sure he is not so antient and wither’d as she fear’d, and of course she would desire to oblige her Papa’s wishes, but she would wish to know the Marquess a little better before giving him her hand.

And, I go on, would like to ask her brothers their opinion, once they are return’d from the Grand Tour and have opportunity to meet the Marquess and go about with him a little.

They all look at me with grins breaking forth upon their faces.

This would provide, says I, a deal of opportunities for you to meet and get to know one another, while Lady Anna would also be able to enjoy the pleasures of Society under the chaperonage of Her Grace.

O, Lady B-, says Lady N-, sure 'tis entire true that you should write novels or perchance plays.

Lady Anna and the Marquess are clasping hands. O, may I? she asks. I should consider myself quite entire affianc’d did other fellows attempt make suit to me, but indeed 'twould be most delightfull to have a Season in which Aunt Laetitia was not ever telling me all the things I might not do.

The Marquess looks upon her most exceeding doating, and says, sure, providing she will contrive to give him a deal of dances and that they may continue their rides. Indeed, he continues, I should not like to wed before O- House is quite set in order –

I laugh somewhat immoderate and say, perchance Lady Anna should join our convokations about decorating &C, and might bring about some decision about chintz and whether there should be fresh wallpaper. For she is the one will have to live there.

Indeed, says Lady N-, stroking Selina, that purrs most exceeding loud, do you go perform this comedy, 'twould be quite in order for Nan to go visit O- House, suitable chaperon’d of course, so that she may see what an exceeding fine establishment would be hers did she concede to the union.

Why, Lady N-, says I, I confide that you might write novels.

We all look about to one another with exceeding good feeling.

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Sure 'tis exceeding hard to get the Marquess of O- to give his mind to matters of paint and chintz and a fine range for the kitchen at O- House, for I see that the impending encounter with his promis’d bride weighs a deal upon his mind.

While he dithers over these domestick concerns, I go write in advance to dear Belinda that here is a fellow will need to stock his stable: a riding horse or two, and carriage-horses – I do not think he is by way of being a whip, but sure he will still need a carriage.

I look at my little memorandum book, and add groom and coachman to the list I make of the servants he will require. I daresay Ajax may advize me on those that look for a place in those occupations.

I wonder, I write to Belinda, whether Blackthorn might suit him.

I add a sentence or two about how well Quintus comes on with Mouse and also the news of Josh, but do not think I have any further news to convey – does she contrive to find the cattle for the Marquess’s stable I daresay she will come to Town and we may have a cozy gossip together.

I look at my correspondence, and then mind me that 'tis time I lookt over the household books – sure there are many tasks more preferable than dealing with the brangles of the orphanage ladies.

I frown a little over the books, for I did not think we had been living particular high over the last month, and ring for Hector to desire him to ask Euphemia to step in.

She comes in, drying her hands upon her apron, and makes me a dip.

How now, Euphemia, I hope I have not took you away from anything that requires your presence?

Indeed not, Your Ladyship.

I look at the books and then at her and say that we seem to have been laying out more than we are wont upon kitchen and cellar matters lately. Perchance there is some reason that prices are higher than usual of late?

Euphemia, with an uneasy look, winds her hands – that sure must be dry by now – in her apron, and says, what it is, Your Ladyship, is that usually there will be leftovers, that one may turn into hash, or bubble and squeak, does one not have 'em cold at another meal.

Why, says I, I observe that Timothy grows most exceeding of late, and also Celeste begins fill out, is it that there is naught left over, because of their appetites? Sure I would not stint them, but I will be mistress in my own household and know what goes on.

Euphemia bites her lip and then says, Nell’s father, that works in the livery stable at the far end of the mews, lately had his leg broke by a kick from a horse and is unable to work until it mends.

O, says I, I see. For I think of that family and that there are a deal of young ones, and while I daresay the older boys may pick up a coin or two by holding horses and running errands, and Nell has her wages from cleaning the mews cottage, the illness of the chief breadwinner must indeed bear heavily upon 'em.

Well, says I, I can find no objection to your sending our leftovers to feed his family, we can quite afford it. Indeed, I wish you had told me of this before. Might you not make them up a pot or so of good nourishing soup?

I take a little further thought and say, I think we should also let 'em have some coals, for being chill’d will not help his leg to mend: do you get Hector and Timothy to take 'em over a couple of basketsfull. And, has he been seen by a surgeon?

Euphemia, looking much chear’d, says she confides not: there is some fellow at the stables, doctors the horses, went splint his leg.

Well, says I, when Timothy returns from taking the coal, I will send him with a little note for Mr H- to come look at the fellow (for indeed I have heard Mr H- complain upon those that suppose they can splint a leg and all will be well and it goes heal crookt and the fellow goes troubl’d by lameness for want of skill’d surgickal attention).

She goes be about this matter and I write the little note for Mr H-.

And, then, sighing mightily, I go be dutyfull in the matter of correspondence on philanthropick matters.

Somewhat later I am about writing the pamphlet for Mrs D-, when comes in Hector and says, Her Grace the Duchess of M- is at the door, am I at home?

O, says I, show her in, and then go desire the best tea at once.

Enters Viola and we go greet one another.

But, my dear, says I, I hope all is well?

O, says Viola, we are all well at M- House, but I am in a perturbation over a matter that I thought I might disclose to you, were you at home and without other callers.

We sit down and Celeste comes with tea.

I do not know, says Viola, whether you have late seen much of the Earl’s daughters, but Lady Anna has been most exceeding volatile, either in a state of ecstatick bliss or quite complete in the dumps, and I finally prevail’d upon her to reveal somewhat of the matter to me.

I nod, and say, I know somewhat of it myself.

She sighs, and says, in some ways 'tis most like to her own case – tho’ at least that bigamous wretch made his proposal in person. And sure, she goes on, 'tis not entire the like, for 'tis not like Papa’s wish to gratify poor Mama by a match into rank, which can be of no great consideration to an Earl’s daughter –

- and then I consider how ever attentive Papa was to poor Mama in her illness and while indeed Lord N- behaves entire proper to poor Lady N-, somehow there does not seem that care, that consideration -

O, she says, dearest C-, I run on quite foolish, but sometimes it seems to me that all is not quite right in that household. But sure, I have not seen so very much of Society, and when one hears of households where there is open brangling, or the husband expects his wife to receive his mistresses, sure 'tis not that bad.

I pat her hand and say, sure she shows considerable insight, for indeed there seem things amiss. But on this matter of the match the Earl goes impose upon Lady Anna, sure there is a contrivance I have upon hand at present that I confide may resolve the difficulty.

O, dear C-, sure I should not have doubt’d that you would have the business quite entire in hand!

Why, says I, there is a certain circumstance which is entire none of my doing, but I discover can be put into play and I have hopes will prove most satisfactory. But on the broader questions, I have some anticipation that when Lord U- returns from his Grand Tour he may be able to set matters more in order –

Sebastian, says Viola, gives him out an excellent fellow – they late met in Prague, along with his brother Lord Edward, and are quite sworn comrades. Has writ a good deal about their exploits.

I am pleas’d to hear it, says I. I apprehend that they are about upon the return?

She nods, and says sure she will be delight’d to see her brother again, and for him to see dear little Cathy.

And how go matters with Lady J-?

Viola laughs and says, 'tis quite amuzing to see how the notion of Harrogate is so much more answerable now Miss A- goes play there for a season. But 'tis a great relief to us that she does not continue to overdo about the estate.

Indeed. But sure one regrets the removal of her hand from certain philanthropick sets that gang aft agly without it. Tho’ I would not inform her of the matter, for 'twould I am sure bring her back to Town in quite a Nelson spirit.

We look at one another with great friendship.

Alas, she says, I would I might remain and we could have a good cozy gossip, but Biffle and I are bidden to a dinner-party this e’en – sure there is a deal of social life even is the Season not commenc’d.

Indeed, says I. 'Tis quite the whirl.

We make very fond farewells and I go think what an excellent young woman she has become.

I look again at the pamphlet upon the hospital and think 'tis nigh upon ready to go to the printer. I glance out of the window and see that tho’ 'tis somewhat cloud’d and gloomy, does not offer to rain, and I determine to go take my dear Jezebel for a little ride in the Park.

The weather being so unprepossessing, there is not a great deal of Society in the Park even tho’ 'tis the fashionable hour. But I do observe Milord, that escorts not only dear Bess and Meg upon their ponies, but also Josh and Quintus.

How now, I cry, waving my whip at them, you are quite the bear-leader!

Indeed, he says. Does not Quintus come on a fine little horseman? Josh has been about conveying the instruction he had from Captain P-'s lady to his brother.

She is the finest of instructresses in equestrian matters, says I. But does not that cloud over there look somewhat ominous? I daresay do you all come to my house we can contrive an impromptu chocolate party.

This proposal is greet’d with great enthusiasm. I add aside to Milord that I am sure he may have port instead.

O, says Meg, look, there comes Tom O-. May we invite him too?

I concede that we may.

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I am about composing the pamphlet I promis’d Mrs D- when Hector shows in Sandy, that is follow’d very expeditious by Celeste with coffee and pikelets.

He says, with less chearfullness than I would have anticipat’d, that he thinks he comes to bring Mr D- K-'s heir to an agreement over the matter of what is due the widow.

Then why is your mien so dourly Calvinistickal? I ask. Sure this is excellent news.

O, he has conditions, says Sandy, holding out his coffee cup so that I may fill it anew.

Conditions? says I.

Sandy frowns, and says that while 'tis quite legitimate and entire understandable that he would desire the return of any heirloom jewellery – which we may contrive, since I prevail’d upon Mrs D- K- to make the pawn-tickets over to me – but there comes another condition, which looks entire like bribery.

Say you so, o bello scozzese! I pray you, tell on.

The fellow, says Sandy with a grimace, has long desir’d to be put up for a certain club - no, not that one, he is not in the least of the disposition - that G- is a member of, tho’ seldom goes there: I fancy 'twas one of those his father put him up for as suit’d to his station.

I see, says I. Well, does he seldom go there, he may not be oblig’d to see the fellow.

The difficulty being, goes on Sandy, that while G- may certainly put up fellows for election to membership, he does not have a deal of interest among the present members to ensure that the fellow may be elect’d.

Why, says I, being put up for a club is always a little uncertain: there may be some fellow bears a grudge and goes about blackballing, and 'tis all manag’d very secret. But are there any others of our acquaintance that are members and may canvass on his behalf?

Sandy groans and says he confides that Mr W- Y- is a member – I sigh – but then says, if he collects aright, so is Mr N-, and mayhap Mr P-?

I laugh a little immoderate and say, do we ask Mr N- to do us a favour in this matter, I confide that if he goes solicit votes all will say Yes! very prompt and endeavour to escape before he goes prose on at them. Also I am like to suppose he will be agreeable to being of service in the matter: Mr P- is a chancier quantity.

'Tis true, says Sandy with a grin. Also, I mind that Lord T- is also a member, and is the position of owing me a favour –

For a politickal secretary?

Indeed so – yes, now I have open’d this matter to our sibyl, I see that we may contrive the business. Tho’ indeed I am not entire happy that 'twill take this to make the fellow do the proper thing.

Well, says I, he is a relative of the late Mr D- K-, there may be somewhat of a family resemblance.

We look at one another very amiable. I pour him more coffee and say that I hope all else goes well?

Indeed, says Sandy. I have preferr’d an acquaintance of mine as classickal tutor for Josh – which minds me, Mrs F- says they will be having family dinner this e’en to which he is invit’d, and are you at liberty all would very much desire your presence.

Why, says I, 'twould be entire delightfull. And was there not also some matter of drawing lessons?

I shall shortly have some documents to take to Phoebe, and will take the opportunity to consult with Mr de C- upon the matter, I daresay he will know of those in artist circles that need such employment.

Indeed, says I, I in some supposition that at present he has so much work on hand that 'twould not be a matter he could undertake himself.

He rises and says he goes now to wrangle with pawnbrokers.

As 'tis a bright day, tho’ somewhat chill, I go ride my lovely Jezzie-girl in the Park at the fashionable hour, and see a deal of acquaintances.

I observe Mrs O’C- without her son, and go ask is all well with him?

Indeed, says she, is at school: Father O’D- can see entire no objection when the boy is still to have religious instruction from himself, do I not wish to send him away to the fine brothers he knows of.

How does he go on at school? I ask, for my impression of Master O’C- is that he is somewhat of a mama’s boy.

O, likes it most extreme! she says. Sure I think he felt the want of playmates.

But, she goes on, she must not linger, has an appointment with a patron: sure she goes make him wait somewhat, but must be about the matter.

I ride off and look about the crowds. I observe Mr W- Y- walking with Herr P-: sure I should not mourn did that dreadfull poet go reside in the wilderness of the Americas.

Comes riding up to me in somewhat of an agitation Lord Geoffrey.

How now, Lord Geoffrey, says I, what’s ado?

O, Lady B-, I am most extreme glad to encounter you for there is a matter that Nan is in a fret about, that I wisht to open to your wisdom.

Is this, says I, some matter that had best not be discusst in publick? For I confide that among the crowd there may be those that snap up titbits of gossip that they may put into low vulgar scandal-monging journals.

That is exceeding prudent, says Lord Geoffrey, where may we go?

Why, says I, can be no objection whatsoever do you come take tea with me.

This clearly delights Lord Geoffrey in spite of his anxious concern for his sister.

He looks about my pretty parlour as one that visits a shrine, until I desire him to sit down and I will ring for tea directly.

Celeste brings tea and some anchovy-toast.

When we are comfortable and have our tea-cups in hand, I desire him to disclose to me the matter of Lady Anna’s fret.

She has told me, says Lord Geoffrey, that Papa has told her that he purposes that she should go marry some nasty old hunks that is a botanickal acquaintance of his, that she has never even met or seen about in Society. And now, she tells me, Papa says the fellow desires to come look her over - quite as if she were some odalisque in a Turkish slave market.

O, fie, says I, quite shocking.

And she thinks 'tis a matter where she should have some chaperone by her, and 'twould be entire too worrying for poor Mama to ask that this encounter might happen in her chamber, and she says she dares say Her Grace might oblige, but she considers that this is an occasion where one would desire an older woman that knows the world.

Why, says I, 'tis an office I would gladly perform for Lady Anna, does she inform me of the date and time appoint’d.

O, thinks I, after he has gone and I go dance about my parlour, sure I am a naughty contriving C-, but indeed I desire very much to see how this comedy goes play out.

I am therefore in quite exceeding spirits when I go visit R- House for family dinner.

I convey the old playbills and other matter to Bess, that is most exceeding charm’d at the gift: what a nice man Mr I- is, she says, even tho’ he will complain of the ways of actors. Lou and Dodo are most exceeding envious of my excursions backstage; but o, is’t true Miss A- goes play at Harrogate?

Indeed so, says I. Bess sighs. I think she was hoping take her friends visit Miss A- in her dressing-room.

Josh comes hug me – he is now advanc’d to family dinner – and tells me a deal about his menagerie.

I see that Mr L-, that is the intend’d of Miss N-, comes visit the e’en. He comes say to me that this young lady that writes on fashion under the style of Sheba does most exceeding well for the paper, and he would be entire delight’d could she write more often.

Sandy, that is come to dine, brings over Josh’s classicks tutor, a Mr McN-, to make introductions. I perceive that he is one that doubtless goes declare that he thinks nothing to matters of rank and I daresay would quote Burns that The rank is but the guinea's stamp.

I give him my hand and smile at him, and sure I confide he is not of the disposition from the way he looks at me. I observe that Sandy is extreme amuz’d.

I look fondly at my dearest loves: sure 'tis hard that I may not run and embrace 'em as we should all desire.

Meg wishes to know if I intend giving another drawing-room meeting: she is practising some very pretty pieces that she confides would be entire the thing for such an occasion.

Miss N- asks do I hear yet from the antipodes, at which I must say, alas, no; but indeed it takes letters a deal of time to come from there, has not been an unusual period since her sister depart’d with the dear T-s.

We sit down to a fine dinner, but when the first course is remov’d for the second, Patty comes and makes a dip and says, she know not how she found out that Her Ladyship is in the house, but Miss Flora desires her Aunty C- to come be a sleepy wombatt.

Sure, I am quite unable to resist this desire, and go be sleepy wombatts with my precious darling until she falls asleep. I look down at her, already getting such a fine big girl that was once my very small but exceeding pretty baby. I dab my eyes dry and go back to the dining-room.

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I go take tea with Mrs D- that is Danvers D-'s mother in her pleasing small apartment: I daresay he would be happy to put her in some larger place, but she says 'tis quite entire sufficient for her, what would she do with a deal of fine rooms?

The pug comes sniff at my skirts to ascertain whether I conceal a rabbit or two under them. It then goes sleep at its mistress’ feet.

She goes pour me tea and we have some converse concerning the optickal dispensary: sure displays that there is an entire necessity for some such enterprize and 'tis a most excellent thing that we go about to open a second.

Sure, says I, I take a particular interest in the matter because there was a maid in my household was in a considerable state, on the verge of hystericks, until 'twas discover’d that she had some failing of sight that was quite immediate remedy’d by a visit to an oculist and the provision of spectacles.

We smile at one another over the tea-cups, and then she says, she confides I may have heard somewhat of the situation that Danvers finds himself in with Miss R-.

I nod, and put on my listening face. (For sure I do not know whether she hopes I will dissuade Miss R- from consenting to Danvers D-‘s offers of matrimony.)

A very pleasing young woman, says Mrs D-: one can tell she comes of decent people, and 'tis most prepossessing the care she has for her uncle. Always behaves extreme civil and will send passes for the theatre, very good ton. And sure I am quite delight’d that Danvers goes settle down after so many years of being a fribble about Town and spending his summers playing cricket. Indeed I could have no possible objection to his desire to marry her, for I have been like to suppose I should never hold a grandchild upon my lap.

Why, says I, that shows extreme gracious in you and gives you considerable credit for perceiving her merits. For alas, there are those that think any connexion with the theatre must signify entire debauchery.

In these days? cries Mrs D-. O, perchance among the Evangelickal set. And I daresay there are still vagabond players that go about the country playing in barns &C that are not at all the thing. But a crack actress in Town like Miss R-? That plays alongside Miss A-, the entire favourite of Lady J-, that is so exacting?

Also, she continues, the D-s are none so aristocratick a family. Danvers’ grandpapa was an innkeeper that made some very prudential investments in property and had his son educat’d as a gentleman.

I look thoughtfull for a moment and say, I have not very lately spoke to Miss R-, but last time I saw her she was in great distress at the prospect of giving up the stage – and sure, would it not be a great loss to the Tragick and Comick Muses did she no longer tread the boards?

'Tis so, agrees Mrs D-, she has quite remarkable talent.

I am like to suppose, says I, that she feels a very great devotion to her art, that she would have to relinquish did she go marry a gentleman.

Mrs D- looks down upon the pug and says, sure, there are ever things a woman must relinquish upon marriage: the late Mr D-, rest his soul, could not bear a dog in the house but would go sneeze uncontrollable, his eyes would redden and weep, would commence to wheeze -

And you, says I, not only with a great fondness for the canine creation, but, 'tis give out, a very great hand at bringing 'em into civil ways.

Indeed, says Mrs D- with a complacent expression, I confide I have a certain talent in that direction.

And had there been some means by which you could have enjoy’d that talent as well as your union with the late Mr D-, I daresay you would have quite jumpt at the chance -

Alas, she sighs, did I even go so much as fondly greet some friend’s dog, when I came home he would start up to wheeze. 'Twas a little hard.

I clear my throat. Miss R-, says I, is an actress. Cannot in the least harm her reputation is she set up in an establishment by some fellow – I daresay that your son has already made a settlement upon her? –

O, indeed, she says, for he says that who knows whether he will not have some accident when driving or upon the hunting field, and there are even those that have sustain’d mortal injuries from cricket-balls.

Very proper and thoughtfull, says I.

O, says Mrs D-, I come to perceive your drift. That does Danvers make suitable provision for Miss R, there is not such a necessity for her to marry, and she might continue to act.

She sighs. But I do greatly desire grandchildren

Does not Miss R- have quite exemplary familial feelings? I confide that did she suppose you would welcome her progeny, she would be entire delight’d that they should have such a grandmama. For indeed, I continue, I confide that she shows so admirable devot’d to her uncle because her parents cast her off.

O, is’t so? I had suppos’d her an orphan.

She goes consider for a little while, and then says, with a smile, sure I daresay I may go persuade Danvers that 'twould be an act of selfishness to deprive the publick of Miss R-'s talents, but that I would indeed entirely welcome any offspring they might have.

I leave with a fine donation to the optickal dispensary, but have also somehow contract’d to indite a pamphlet in aid of Mrs D-‘s favour’d hospital.

I go call at Miss R-'s apartments and find Mr W- there alone. He tells me she has gone to the theatre, as Mr J- has conced’d that ‘tis a deal better sense for 'em to rehearse together at some time when she will not be running offstage every few minutes to go puke.

And, he adds, she will be taking on a deal of Miss A-'s parts while Miss A- goes to Harrogate. I hear, he continues, they have offer’d her a most generous contract for her short season. Indeed, the provinces are always eager for some good Town acting.

O, I say, pray do not tell me you go intend go play at Bath or Buxton: 'twould be an entire swearing in Welsh matter.

Mr W- obliges with an imitation of Mr J- in a rage, 'tis most exceeding amuzing, and then says, no, he will not desert J- in this hour of trial. Also, he adds, he should not like to leave his niece as she is at present situat’d. Sure he does not see that she is under any obligation to wed that fribble: but, after all, he has treat’d her very well. 'Tis a tangle.

He then looks at me, waggles his eyebrows, and says, 'tis given out at the club that does one have a tangle on hands, Lady B- has a most excellent touch at untangling.

La, says I, I am quite gossipt upon. Well, if Miss R- is at the theatre, I will go see her there.

So I drive off to the theatre, and when I go in Mr I- pops out of his office, greets me very civil, and asks after that excellent young lady Miss F-. He has been keeping some old playbills and other matter for her –

O, says I, she will be quite delight’d with those.

- that is always welcome to come visit, behaves most exceeding civil and thoughtfull.

'Tis agreeable to hear this praise of Bess. He goes on to tell me that Miss R- is at present in the midst of rehearsal of one of Miss A-'s parts, and unless the matter is most exceeding urgent, he advizes that I should go wait in her dressing-room.

I go to her dressing-room, therefore, where her dresser Letty makes very civil, offers me tea - no, says I, pray do not bother – and tells me of the sufferings of her poor Miss R-.

Meanwhile little Puggsiekins comes investigate about my skirts for rabbits.

I tell Letty that I am told that ginger is exceeding sovereign for queasiness. She says she will mind to get some.

Little Puggsiekins goes bark and Letty looks down at him and remarks, see what a good civil dog has become. Do you not mind being left alone, Your Ladyship, I will go take him a little promenade about the alley for his necessity.

She has not return’d when Miss R- returns, looking somewhat pale and strain’d.

She dips me a curtesy. O, Lady B-, sure I did not expect a visit from you. Would you care for some tea? I know not where Letty can have got to.

I tell her of Letty’s present whereabouts, decline tea, and say that I have late been with Danvers D-'s mother. I perceive that Miss R- is about to go be a tragedy queen over the supposition that Mrs D- dislikes the project’d marriage, so I cut her off before she is got too far in to the scene, and explain to her instead the conclusion that Mrs D- and I had come to.

O, says Miss R-, what a very excellent lady she is. Sure that would most entirely answer. Indeed I should be entire delight’d did our child have such an affectionate grandmama, for I was in considerable doubts that even did I go marry my family would come round - for I confide that they would still not be reconcil’d to my dear good uncle and I would not cast him off.

I smile at her and I say, between 'em, she and Mrs D- will surely bring Danvers D- round to see the answerableness of this course.

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Some several days later I am sitting at my pretty desk in the forenoon, and not looking towards the piles of correspondence while I draft out a horrid tale about a carnivorous plant.

Comes in Hector, saying Lady Anna M- comes to see are you at liberty, her groom having desir’d to show Ajax how well his prescription workt.

Why, says I, desire her to come in and go request coffee of Euphemia.

I push my notebook into a discreet drawer and rise to go greet Lady Anna.

How now, my lady, how do you? Did you enjoy the ridotto?

O, she cries, her face quite lighting up, it quite exceed’d.

She then grows more sober and says, but there comes about from it a matter I should desire to open to you, Your Ladyship.

Why, says I, sure you are welcome to do so.

Comes Celeste with coffee and some excellent curd tartlets.

I motion Lady Anna to a comfortable chair and sit down vis-à-vis.

Well, my dear? says I.

O, Lady B-, I am in such turmoil! – I put on my listening face - there was a most agreeable fellow danc’d with me and took me into supper at the ridotto - but indeed, tho’ 'twas exceeding pleasant, I did not suppose to make a great deal out of it –

Very wise, says I.

- but then, a day or so later, I was riding in the park the morn, with my groom, as is my wont – I know 'tis not the fashionable hour, but why should I want to be on display in my shabby riding-habit, when I might ride almost unobserv’d and let Elvira stretch out.

Entire sensible, says I. There could be no objection in the world by even the severest censor.

But, says Lady Anna, I had happened to mention to the gentleman at the ridotto that such was my habit, because he had askt me whether he was like to see me in the Row. And it so perchanc’d that as I was riding that morn he came up on horseback – not a very fine creature at all, he explain’d that at present he does not keep a stable in Town, but hires a hack at livery – and expresst how pleas’d he was at the rencontre, and that he has thought I should look exceeding well upon horseback and was delight’d to see that he was right in that surmize –

- and then, we rode on together in company, and talkt of a deal of matters – says he has been out of Town this long while, knows very few in Society – and sure, 'twas all most agreeable. There was nothing in the least encroaching in his manner –

Dear Lady Anna, says I, would this be the fellow in the feather’d garments? – she nods – o, an excellent fellow, I go on, I had some converse with him at the ridotto as he wisht to have some of the company point’d out to him, being a stranger: was quite in entire the best of ton. At such an occasion one does not go interrogate into breeding &C, but he seem to me exceeding well-bred, tho’, by his account, has roam’d about the world considerable.

He said somewhat to that, she admits with a slight blush (sure, there is nothing wrong with admiring a fellow for the dangers he has passt thro’), but not in the least in a boastfull fashion.

And now, she says, do I go ride in the Park of a morn, I am like to find that he also rides there, and will come talk with me.

(I maintain a most exceeding straight face during this account.)

Why, says I, can be no objection to civil converse do you meet thus, at a time that you both find yourselves riding in the Park.

But, she says, wringing her hands, I find myself in a great liking to him. And then I think that Papa has promis’t me to this ag’d friend of his, that I have never even met, and sure I become quite despairing. O, Lady B-, have you contriv’d to find out any matter concerning the Marquess of O-?

Why, says I, he is well-spoke of among those in my connexion that have had to do with him, over matters of natural philosophy &C, and from my own observation is a civil well-conduct’d fellow. Does he keep a mistress must do so most exceeding discreet.

She groans. I apprehend that she would rather he was report’d a deep-dy’d villain that she might quite reasonable object to.

Compose yourself, dear Lady Anna, says I. I have certain contrivances I may yet be able to bring to bear.

O, she cries, Agnes S- says that you are able to work miracles!

Indeed not, says I, but sometimes 'tis possible to give matters a little nudge - have you e’er seen a game at billiards, where one ball glancing off another sends it spinning into the pocket?

Sure, she says, I have watcht my brothers play.

'Tis somewhat of the same thing, says I. But do you eat up this last tartlet – sure Euphemia would be entire offend’d did I send any back – and let us go see whether your groom has conclud’d his conclave with Ajax

After she has depart’d I return to my tale, tho’ sure I feel that I play a confidante’s role in a comedy of mistook identity.

In the afternoon I set off with a deal of examples of paint and patterns of chintz to O- House so that the Marquess may look them over before work begins.

He goes pace up and down the drawing-room when I arrive.

Lady B-! enchant’d – was thinking that I should go about setting up my stable -

Perchance, says I, you lately met Mr Miles O’N-?

Why, indeed I did, and he was telling me of the fine cattle he raises in Ireland.

I say that I daresay his horses may be well enough, but I mind that they are in Ireland and none has seen them, only heard his very glowing accounts. Does the Marquess desire some exceeding fine horseflesh, I would advize him to go consult with Captain P-, that is in Northamptonshire and that he might visit without the trials of a trip to Ireland - tho’ I daresay that would be quite a bagatelle to him – but indeed, he and his good lady raise very fine stock indeed.

I go on to say that Hector has brought in a deal of sample-books &C if he cares to look over them and make his choices so that one may be about furbishing the place.

Indeed, he says in a distract’d tone. He paces up and down some more.

My Lord Marquess, says I, you seem in some distress and turmoil of mind. Sure I am an uneducat’d creature with no deep learning, but if this is some concern about matters of Society, 'tis possible that I may be able to help.

He throws himself down into a chair and waves me into another. 'Tis entire too much to ask of you, and yet, I know not who else I might talk to. May be some matter of social usage that those who live in Society quite entire understand –

I put on my listening face and wait.

Now that I am return’d to England and take up these duties that go with my unexpect’d elevation, I apprehend that there are a deal of matters I must attend to. There were many matters down at D- Chase that I had to grapple with – for my poor brother had been incapable of undertaking business a year or more before his death. There is this matter of opening up the Town house and going about in Society.

And, of course, I am suppos’d to marry. Sure my life until now has been such that one could not expect a woman to share it – either she would partake of my own perils, or would languish alone for long periods.

So it perchanc’d, he continues, that I happen’d to mention to an old friend of mine, a passionate amateur of botany that was a generous patron to my expeditions and for whom I have nam’d several species that I discover’d, that I suppos’d I should have to go marry.

So, he replies to me that he has a daughter that is quite of an age when she should be marry’d, 'twould be an excellent match; and sure, it seem’d at the very least incivil to refuse – and indeed I have been in parts of the world in circumstances where did one refuse such an offer the consequences might prove mortal.

I confide, says I, that your patron would be the Earl of N-? I am, says I (for I feel fury boiling within me} pleas’d to hear that he shows so exceeding generous towards your expeditions, for his daughters go shamefully badly dresst because he thinks gowns may be endless made-over, and his invalid wife suffers needless discomfort because he will not be at the expense of a fine modern sprung carriage to convey her.

The Marquess turns and looks at me. Lady N- is a dear friend, says I, does not go complain on her husband, but tho’ I am no bluestocking, I can put two and two together.

He gives somewhat of a groan, and says, but he had thought he might go thro’ with this proposal, as he had no other match in mind; but has lately met a young lady to whom he takes a most exceeding inclination, and now knows not what to do.

Well, says I, 'tis usual in this country in this age that brides are not deliver’d to their husbands at the altar, and that 'twould be quite in order for you to desire meet and speak to your intend’d bride. For it may seem to her that she is being dispos’d of in a way that does not accord with being a freeborn Englishwoman.

Indeed you are right, Lady B-, I should have at least gone ask the young lady if this is any desire of hers.

I fancy, says I, that the Earl wishes to get her off his hands with as little trouble and fuss as may be. (But sure I have a deal of prejudice against the Earl and perhaps 'tis just that he thinks this an excellent match.)

But, says I, I came so that you might make these decisions about paint &C, and also have some matter concerning servants to open to you.

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'Tis extreme late by the time all go home from the ridotto: has been quite entire another success for the dear Contessa.

I therefore sleep shocking late the next morn: when Sophy brings my chocolate she says Docket told her that My Ladyship was sleeping so sweet and peacefull I should not be disturb’d.

Indeed, when I go down to my parlour I feel a great disinclination to going about my correspondence: I shuffle the letters to make sure I do not miss any I should like to peruse, as it might be from New South Wales, and then put them down again, for 'tis all business of the most tedious.

Instead I go read the reviews of my own novel and of Miss S-'s excellent poems, that Sandy has most kindly extract’d and sent round.

Mine are none so bad, and hers are truly gratifying.

'Tis the afternoon of the day of week upon which I make myself at home to callers - o, that is Lady B-‘s day, those who wish to make it theirs are told. So I tidy away the reviews, push the letters into neat piles weigh’d down by curious stones that I have been given by Jacob S- from time to time, a lump or two of lead from my own mine, and similar mementoes.

I take up my embroidery, which sure is like unto Penelope’s web that is never finisht: but I proceed upon it so slowly that I have not yet been oblig’d to undo my stitching.

I am about this drear task – perchance I should ask Lady T- would she teach me lace-making? – when comes Mrs V-. I put my work aside and rise to greet her, then ring for tea.

O, Lady B-, you misst a treat t’tother day, did Lord Anthony – sure, I mean the Marquess of O-! – not tell you that he was giving a lecture at the botanickal society on carnivorous flora? 'Twas most fascinating matter: for there are a deal of them in the Spanish Americas and Brazil that he has been able to study.

Comes Celeste with tea.

Carnivorous flora? I enquire, with a picture in my mind of how my precious bundle will pick up a cutlet and gnaw upon it, until she is rebuk’d for poor table-manners.

Mrs V- goes tell me a very great deal about these plants, that most immediate suggests to me the seed for a very horrid tale.

She is still about the topick when Lady D- and Miss S- are announc’d. I make introductions.

O, says Lady D-, was that not quite the finest ridotto? (Her sister looks upon her fondly.)

Why indeed, says I, ‘twas the finest I have known in this land, but sure, in Naples I think they are a little finer, if only because one may stroll about balconies and terraces and even into the gardens, because the climate there is so benign.

Lady D- gives a little sigh. Indeed Lord D- says that the hospitality he was shown there was quite out of the common.

Mrs V- is most interest’d to hear about the ridotto.

And did you persuade the Marquess to go? she asks. He was in some reluctance on the matter when we spoke to him after his lecture.

Why, says I, I daresay 'tis a frivolous matter for a man of his learning, but I apprehend that in his new station he is oblig’d to go somewhat into Society, and indeed, he seem’d to like it well enough.

Next is shown in Mrs D-, that is the mother of Danvers D-. She looks a little put about, and I wonder was she in hopes of finding me alone and conclaving over the matter of Miss R-: but she immediate puts on an expression suit’d to the company, and goes talk pugs with Lady D-.

Miss S- remarks that sure Danvers D- made a very fine Corsair yestere’en. His mother smiles.

Mrs V- says to me that she hopes that the Marquess’s new station will not distract him entirely from botany.

Why, says I, in the course of advizing him on the matter of getting O- House in order to open up, I observ’d that there are some fine hot-houses and he made some remark about making experiments in germination - I think that was the word? – of the seeds and cuttings he had brought back from his travels.

Oh, that is excellent news! she cries, indeed we long to see growing examples, even though he makes such fine drawings and has dessicat’d specimens.

But, she says, looking about her, sure I should be on my way. Farewells are made all around, and as she leaves comes Celeste with fresh tea, and Hector to announce Mrs P- and Miss W-.

Lady D- immediate stops talking about the quaint ways of her pug puppy, and puts on a serious expression.

Mrs P- and Miss W- quite immediate begin ask about the ridotto: the Contessa, they remark, may be of the Romish faith but is a very fine generous woman to good causes.

I remark that seems to me that adherence to the Papacy sits very lightly on the Contessa; adding that she had a most fine learn’d English governess, one Miss Grosvenor, that form’d her mind.

Ah, says Miss W-, that would account for her lack of superstition -

That, says I, and an uncle of hers that was somewhat of a free-thinker and a scholar. But sure, there is a deal of antient pagan belief in those parts: the cook at my late husband’s villa was a not’d strega that was reput’d a fine hand at spells and curses.

Mrs P- shakes her head, and then says, but what can one expect? The oppressive Bourbon tyranny keeps the populace poor and ignorant.

'Tis true, says I, and go on to say a little about Marcello’s agricultural experiments and the likelihood that they will be resist’d by the peasantry.

An excellent endeavour! she exclaims.

I mind me that one of the good causes she and Miss W- go about is finding places for young women that have been unfortunate and may encounter difficulties in finding one, as in, unable to present a character, or having a child at nurse to support. Sure I have been considering over the question of servants for O- House: I confide 'twould entirely answer to convoke with Mrs P- upon this topick at some more suitable time.

I say a little to this and we agree to go talk further.

Lady D- says this sounds a most admirable enterprize and she will go talk to her husband as to whether they might give employment to some of these poor creatures.

Miss W- remarks that they also keep a record of households where they would by no means place a servant. We all look sober.

Mrs D- says she has more calls to make, makes farewells, and also gives me to understand that she would greatly desire a more private conversation at some time.

Miss S- looks at her sister, and I am like to think endeavours to catch her eye and telegraph that they should depart, but Lady D- is too immers’d in what Mrs P- and Miss W- go tell her that she does not notice.

Hector comes announce Lady T-, which causes a general sensation as of rabbits that mark the approach of a stoat.

I rise and greet her most civil, desire Hector to go ask for fresh tea, and conduct her to the best chair that is near unto the fire but not so near that she will roast do I not pull across the fire-screen.

Lady D- now looks as tho’ all she would desire to do is leave, but doubtless considers that 'twould look somewhat particular so hard upon the heels of Lady T-'s arrival.

Lady T- looks about the company, nods very civil, and makes some remark upon the weather. (Sure I think she is shy, and that this, along with her late mother’s strictures, makes her ill-at-ease in company, and this resembles stiff disapproval.)

Comes Celeste with fresh tea and I go pour out.

Miss W- says that she hopes that Lady B- is in contemplation of another of her fine drawing-room meetings.

Indeed, says I, I was in hopes of having news from the T-s by now that I might read out, but I confide I should not delay, does the post take such a deal of time to come from the antipodes.

Hector shows in Susannah and Lady Z-. Lady D- quite leaps to her feet to desire Susannah to take this most exceeding comfortable chair, she and her sister are just on the point of departure. Susannah accepts with her charming crook’d smile, as Agnes S- offers her chair to Lady Z-.

Lady Z- remarks how exceeding effective was Miss S-'s costume at the ridotto: indeed she had a far more imperial air than Miss A- contriv’d.

Miss A-, says I, was forc’d to act the Empress in a perfectly dreadfull play: most discouraging.

Miss S- looks gratify’d, and they take a very civil leave of the company.

Lady T- says – perchance 'tis not meant as disapproval – that no-one talks of anything today but that ridotto.

Why, says Susannah, 'twas exceeding well-tim’d by the Contessa di S-: the greater part of Society return’d to Town, the Season not yet begun in earnest, and all entire ready for some such distraction.

Hector shows in yet further callers, that look a little perturb’d at the sight of Lady T- (yet I confide 'twill be report’d the favour she shows Lady B-, quite remarkable).

I send for fresh tea.

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I am about my correspondence the morn – for I am in some fears that do I not give ample time to addressing the matter, one morn I shall come into my pretty parlour and 'twill be entire cover’d with letters and cards &C.

Sure the orphanage ladies have time on their hands for writing very often and at great length. I am like to suppose that when Lady J- is not there to keep 'em under hand and to provide one that all may go complain about behind her back, a general dissension breaks out.

'Tis a most great relief to come to a letter from Martha S-, the dear creature. Who writes a deal about her own doings (sure 'tis a pity she is not in Town, for I confide she might then provide drawing-lessons for Josh), and those of Jacob and Deborah, that grows a fine healthy girl. She also confides that Lady J- has at last made up her mind about going to Harrogate, which will sure do her a deal of good.

There is also a letter from Lady J- herself that communicates the same intelligence, adding that 'tis a quite entire different proposition to go take the waters when she knows that dearest Miss A- will be there, rather than being among one knows not who that goes to such a place about quacking themselves. She has writ to Mrs F- for the benefit of her counsel about a physician to place herself under, and lodgings.

I also have a note from the Reverend Mr L- that reports that he is now elect’d a Fellow of the antiquarian society: would it be encroaching to send cards for their meetings to that fine learn’d woman the Duchess of M-?

I reply that I am sure she would most greatly appreciate the chance to attend these fine learn’d occasions. Also I find that I have tickets for several subscription concerts that alas, I shall not be able to attend, but I daresay he may find use for them.

But the greater part of my correspondence is a deal less agreeable.

Docket comes tell me I should come lye down a little with a cool cloth over my eyes do I wish to be fresh for the ridotto. Sure I dare not gainsay Docket on such a matter, and I go drowse a little, 'tis very pleasant.

She and Sophy array me in my fine costume as a Dresden shepherdess, with a small stufft lamb ('tis not a real lamb) upon one shoulder. Also there is a crook.

They stand back to approve of their handywork.

I try on my domino. The effect is exceeding charming.

There is a deal of a crowd assembl’d outside the Contessa’s mansion, that shout out comments upon the guests as they go enter.

There is also a deal of company has already arriv’d and goes milling about, sure there are gods and goddesses, antient Romans and Greeks, characters from history and literature, some several Harlequins, Columbines, and Pierrots, pirates, Corsairs, and some that I know not what they are intend’d to represent.

I go greet the Contessa, that is dresst as the famous doctoress of the Middle Ages, Trotula, that was renown’d in the parts about Naples for her healing skills. I fancy that the fellow near her that is dresst as a plague-doctor is Signor V-.

I look about me.

I see a fellow that looks a little awkward, wearing some costume that has a deal of feathers about it, and recognize the Marquess of O-.

How now, says I, going up to him, do you personate Papageno?

He is, says he, an Inca, that were the fellows that rul’d in the parts that are now known as Peru, before they were conquer’d by the Spanish.

Say you so! I cry. I apprehend that there is an opera by Purcell that deals of Incas, from a play by Dryden. Have heard Miss McK- sing a most moving aria from it.

I am in some anticipation that he will go tell me in great detail about the Incas, but merely says a little to the effect that they had a very fine civilization before the Conquistadores came. But, he says, we are not here this e’en to discourse of Incas - are you interest’d there are books I may commend to your attention – but I should be grateful of some guidance.

Why, says I, since 'tis a ridotto and all go disguis’d, you may go ask any lady that you like the look of to dance - you do dance, do you not?

I was taught as a boy, says he, and have occasional had need of that learning since. But I should wish to go about and study the people. If you could identify them to me in their real persons I should be most gratefull.

So we walk about as I do so, and I remark that does he like, there will be a gaming-room somewhere where he may enjoy play - he shakes his head – and there is a musick-room, and sure there will be a fine supper serv’d.

We watch the dancers for a while as I go identify them to him.

Who, says he, is that fair amazon there that carries herself so well? Indeed one might imagine her upon horseback, drawing a bow –

O, says I, I daresay 'tis some young woman lately come to Town that I do not yet have acquaintance of. (For does he not recognize his intend’d bride, 'tis none of my business to reveal her to him.) Now, over there, the fine Turkish gentleman that dances with the pride of his hareem, that is His Grace of M- and the Duchess. And that couple that are a knight of the Middle Ages and his fair lady, I confide to be Sir B- and Lady W-.

I look a little beyond them and see a fellow dresst in what I suppose to be the garb of the Indians of Nova Scotia: Captain C-, that dances with the Empress Maud - indeed that robe is very becoming to Miss S-.

And that chubby little Harlequin, that shows so devot’d to his Columbine?

Lord D-, says I, that is the heir of the Earl of P-, and Lady D-. She is the sister of Miss S- over there.

I observe a fellow dresst as an antient Roman that I take to be Brutus or some such hero: 'tis Reynaldo, that dances with a lady deckt out as her own grandmother might have been, with powder’d wig &C; standing talking to a cavalier - Milord - is her masculine counterpart, Sir H- Z-.

I point out several others to him, and then he says, you are truly kind, Lady B-, but I should not take up all your time, and I daresay there are many fellows anxious to dance with you.

Why, says I, ‘twill do 'em good to wait. But, sure, let us not go about to look particular.

Scarce has he left, with, I apprehend, the intention of desiring a dance with the amazon, comes up to me a maskt Bow Street Runner.

Sure, says I, you have detect’d me.

I have a matter of sheep-stealing to discourse of with you –

O, fiddlesticks, says I, I daresay Sir V- P- may be found at the gaming-table, a stray’d sheep, not a stolen.

'Tis notable, remarks Sandy, that there are those that will look somewhat conscious do they see a Runner, before they observe that I am in masquerade.

We smile at one another, and then go join a set that is making up for the next dance.

Thus occupy’d, we observe Robin Hood and Maid Marian, that are my dearest loves, and go change partners with 'em for the next set.

Sure I do not lack for partners and my slippers are like to be quite wore through by the time I go home.

I am standing by myself for a quiet moment after being whirl’d about in a waltz by Freiherr von D-, that is an attaché at the Bavarian Embassy, and goes make apologetick over the matter of the Graf von M-: why, says I, 'tis a business I have almost forgot.

Why, Lady B-, you are most exceeding mercyfull and forgiving: he has gone live upon his estates and 'tis very much impresst upon him that he would be ill-adviz’d to return to Munich society for some while.

Why, says I, perchance he will take that opportunity to put his talents to the service of agrarian improvements or such.

(I would be most extreme curious to know what is the present condition of that suppos’d lunatick, Herr F-: whether he be in a madhouse or playing the violincello in some orchestra. But 'twould be inadvizable, I fear, to ask myself rather than hope that the intelligence might be volunteer’d.)

As I stand meditating approaches another Robin Hood, a deal younger than Josiah, that I have no difficulty in discerning to be Lord Geoffrey, that has – by strategy or entire chance – come just as sets are making up for the supper dance.

He is an excellent dancer, and sure I should prefer to take supper with one that gives me respectfull admiration rather than the several I see that I daresay would go be more pressing in their attentions.

Who was that fellow, asks Lord Geoffrey after bringing me a nice little plate of dainties and wine-cup, with the feathers, that you were talking to earlier so intimate?

La, says I, to talk at all in this press one must lean exceeding close, purports nothing: 'twas a fellow new-come to Town, wisht me to point out some of the company to him, entire a matter of civility.

Only, I see he then went be very attentive to Nan - indeed, he says, looking up, I see he has contriv’d to take her to supper.

Why, says I, 'tis a perfectly civil and well-bred fellow, I do not think you need fear that he plots abduction or ravishment, rather than that he takes an admiration for Lady Anna.

I hope 'tmay chear her up a little, she seems quite melancholick of late, has she disclos’d aught of the matter to you?

O, says I, I confide 'tis womanly business.

He blushes a little and does not ask further.

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I am like to apprehend that someone, most like Milord, has put it to the Marquess of O- that 'twould be quite entire inadvizable to make suit to the exquisite Lady B-, for there are gentlemen quite ready to defend her reputation, has the aspirant not already encounter’d Hector’s pugilistick art; moreover, Nemesis overtook several fellows that advanc’d undesir’d suits.

Not that I suppose he has any great inclination towards me, but there have been fellows that suppose that on account of my former profession I will be exceeding pliant to offers of solace in my widowhood.

So he behaves with quite extreme propriety when first we foregather at O- House, which is a fine mansion at an excellent address. 'Tis indeed clear that has been somewhat neglect’d, but is by no means in the dreadfull condition of B- House.

The Marquess looks around a little helpless. 'Tis large, he says, I had forgot how large.

A mouse runs across the floor. Hector remarks that he doubts our kittens are yet of an age to be expert mousers, but he wonders whether young Master Josh’s ferrets might be given a run around the place.

Why, says I, I apprehend that Mr F- has a great knowledge of ferrets from his younger days, we might go ask him.

We go through the various rooms, and indeed, I do not think there will need a great deal of work done. A really thorough cleaning, of course, and some places where fresh paint is entire desirable. The furniture is perchance a little old-fashion’d and not the latest crack but I cannot suppose that it would not serve quite admirably, for there are some very fine pieces. Needs only be well-polisht up, and perchance some chairs and sophas recover’d.

There is an excellent library, where I do not linger, tho’ 'tis a struggle against temptation.

We go into the very fine reception room, and I feel a little unease, I know not why.

I look down at the carpet and say that I fear the moth has been at it, perchance it could be repair’d is the damage not too severe, and move around still feeling uncomfortable.

Sure, says the Marquess, the wallpaper may be somewhat out of style, but 'tis very fine. I remember looking at it as a child, and making up tales about the figures.

I look at it more closely and recognize the source of my unease. 'Tis a chinoiserie paper not exact the same as that in B- House, but so exceeding similar that I feel my legs turn weak under me, and go sit down rather precipitate on a chair, raising a little cloud of dust.

Lady B-! are you unwell?

A moment’s qualmishness, says I, for I do not wish to tell him about that dreadfull lunatick creeping thing.

I am entire recover’d by going into other rooms, inspecting the attics for bats &C. We also go to into the kitchens, where 'twould be most desirable to put in a fine modern range.

The Marquess says rather hopeless by the time we reach the end of our tour of inspection that he would serve us some refreshment, but there is still the matter of servants to be undertaken.

Why, says I, let us return to my house and take a little tea and convoke further.

When we reach my house and go into my pretty parlour I say, or of course there is brandy or port should you prefer that? Tea would be entire excellent, says he.

We take out our little memorandum books and go compare the points we have not’d.

I daresay, he says, that 'twill take some time to put all in order.

(He does not speak as a man would that is eager to have a place set in good order ready for a wife; but as one who perceives that some matter may be happyly deferr’d for some while upon plausible excuse.)

Most like, says I, especial as this is a time of year when a deal of Society are having matters put in order in their houses to be ready for the Season.

He sighs, and says he would desire to be better acquaint’d with Society and its ways before he sets up house and is oblig’d to keep state.

The way, says I, to find out about Society is to go about in it a while.

I go think a little. Have you receiv’d an invitation to the Contessa di S-'s ridotto?

He frowns and says yes, he collects that he has receiv’d a card, but sure there are a deal of the things and he knows not how to decide upon which are the ones he should pay attention to.

If you collect who has left you cards, says I, I can make some endeavour upon telling you what you should do.

As he tells me those that he can remember, I note that there have been a deal of persons leave their cards for him that are encroaching nuisances that hope to advance their own interest by an association with him. But there are also those that are entirely in good sets, as well as cards of those that I take to be cognoscenti.

I advize him upon the ones in which he should take an interest, does he not already know them by way of the Royal Society &C. He makes notes in his little memorandum book.

And, says I, 'twill be much to your advantage to go to the ridotto -

He frowns a little.

- you may observe a deal of Society there that thinks it may conduct itself with a freedom it would not normally allow, because 'tis in masquerade and thus not recognizable; but indeed, 'tis not so.

Lady B-, he says, you would really make an excellent spy.

La, says I, a pretty feather-wit such as I? (For indeed, my friends have desir’d me to be mistress of intelligence once more to sound out whether the Marquess would be a genuine adherent to our coterie.)

He laughs and says, he has heard that those that think thus of Lady B- are pursu’d by angry swans. But if I go to the ridotto, will you be so good as to whisper in my ear who everyone is?

Sure I will, says I: for my bringing-up in the theatre made me very adept at piercing thro’ disguises. 'Twas a most entirely usefull skill in my former profession.

He looks at me awhile and says, sure he has been much out of the country and knows not how matters go on here these days: but are ladies that have been in your condition not meant to express penitence, and mayhap tell some sad tale of seduction by some rogue to excuse their fall? do they not endeavour entirely to conceal that part of their history?

O, poo, says I, I was sufficiently renown’d that 'twould be quite entire futile to endeavour to conceal the matter.

I daresay: but I saw you shudder at the wallpaper in the grand reception room, and wonder’d did it raise unhappy memories.

That is very discerning of you, says I. I did indeed have a most disagreeable experience in a room thus decorat’d, but 'twas naught to do with my former profession. Do you have such powers of observation I confide you will do very well in Society.

'Tis entire worrying to me that as I make further acquaintance of the Marquess he seems an excellent agreeable fellow even is he one that is a stranger to the common usage of Society: but that there is that matter of the proferr’d marriage. I cannot fathom it out.

In the matter of disguise, I confide that none that do not look most exceeding close will recognize the lovely Lady B- when next forenoon I go to convoke with Dolly Mutton dresst in such a fashion that all must suppose me an Evangelickal lady that goes about with tracts to save souls.

I have with me a nice little sum for the aid of her enterprize from the profits of my own late endeavours and from Miss S-'s poetry.

As I walk thro’ the byways of Covent Garden, that at this time of day are exceeding quiet, I perceive a fellow coming the other way that looks somewhat familiar. Is clad as some moderately prosperous fellow of the middling sort: but 'tis, I realize with a deal of shock, the Earl of N-. I do not give any sign of recognition, and he barely glances as me as we pass.

Well! thinks I, sure one supposes that his wife being such an invalid he may seek consolation elsewhere, and at least he does so with some discretion, but indeed I would have thought he had tastes above Covent Garden misses.

I come to Dolly Mutton’s, and am admitt’d to her private parlour. Pussy comes show me great favour by sitting in my lap, and we drink coffee as I hand over the money. There are a deal of matters for which cash in hand is requir’d.

I stroke Pussy and remark to Dolly that on my way I encounter’d a fellow, lookt somewhat familiar – I describe him.

Oh, she says, that must be Mr Perkins – or that is the name that he gives out, which may not be the one he goes under elsewhere – has set up Molly Binns in a tidy little establishment these several years. She supposes that he must be a nurseryman or some such in a good way of business – brings her quite the finest flowers when he comes visit.

O, says I, I thought 'twas someone quite entire different.

(I go consider to myself that maintaining a doxy in Covent Garden rather than some finer address is not merely admirable discreet, must also be a deal more oeconomickal. Tho’ at least he brings her the fine flowers that he does not bother to provide his poor Countess.)

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Phoebe has quite begg’d me to accompany her to a meeting at R- House with Josiah, Mr K-, Sandy, and Mr Q-, that wish to convoke about the business of her polishes and cleansing receipts, and draw up an agreement.

Sure, says I, you may quite entirely trust your interests to be well-look’d-after, you surely do not require me.

I should feel more comfortable, says she, and I go apprehend that she fears that she may be at some disadvantage on account of her colour and her sex.

Why, says I, I confide that you are at least as good a businesswoman as myself, and mayhap better, but do you desire another feminine presence, I shall come with you.

So I go with her to R- House and we meet in the chamber that Josiah keeps for business matters, and there is a deal of legal verbiage, but Josiah or Sandy will nod at me to confirm that all is quite in order, and I then squeeze Phoebe’s hand and she goes sign the documents.

Mr K- shows far more exceeding amiable than I had anticipat’d, shakes both Phoebe and myself by the hand, says this is an excellent morn’s business; and once we are in production he confides with a smile that we may anticipate a testimonial that these items are employ’d in all of His Grace the Duke of M-'s establishments.

I smile and say, sure they could have no better.

He goes on a little to talk very enthusiastick of his grand-daughter, alas that her poor grandmama never had the chance to see her. I remark that indeed she is a very fine child and her parents quite doat upon her. He adds that sure dear Matty also has a very fine child.

My dearest Eliza comes to say that a collation has been laid.

We descend to the dining-room, where we discover Milord already ensconc’d along with the Marquess of O-, that desir’d to conclave with him the morn. Introductions are made and I observe that the Marquess displays the most excellent civility towards Phoebe. Has seen engravings of those very fine paintings by Mr de C- upon the evils of the slave-trade. Eliza remarks that Mr de C- has the very finest touch in drawing children: quite lately did a most charming group of her girls, sitting on the grass making daisy-chains.

He takes out a little memorandum book and makes a note, adding that he does not have any children at present but will bear this in mind for future occasion.

In due course the gathering breaks up: Milord to take the Marquess to convoke with Roberts, Josiah and Sandy about their business, and Phoebe to go visit Seraphine. She thanks me exceeding hearty for my presence and for putting her in the way of this fine opportunity: she will quite be able to pay off all their accounts and start quite fresh.

And, oh, she says in a low voice as we make our farewells, I am in some suspicion that I increase again. Could not replace Camille, but will be very welcome to us.

I go with my darling to their family room, and we exchange a quick kiss. I have Bess coming any moment, says she, for a little training in business matters, and I daresay Meg goes practice. 'Tis a good time for Miss N- to take Quintus thro’ various matters, without his big sisters declaring that sure they were more advanc’d at his age.

And I am like to suppose that the nursery-set will desire their tiger.

I smile and say sure I would not disappoint them.

O, I have a very fine romp in the nursery with my precious bundle and the rest of the nursery set until my hair starts come down.

As I descend the stairs endeavouring to pin it up again, I see from the window that Josh goes romp upon the lawn with the wombatt, so I will go see how that fascinating creature does, and the rest of the menagerie, and whether there is progress upon a tutor in the classicks.

Williams accosts me and says if I will permit, she will put up my Ladyship’s hair for me. 'Tis a very kind offer and sure she can contrive it better than I may.

When I go out into the gardens, I see that there is some fellow that talks to Josh, that goes present him the very fine points of the wombatt, makes it roll over so that he may examine the pouch, &C.

As I draw closer I see 'tis the Marquess of O-.

Josh looks up and sees me and runs come hug me. I tousle his hair.

Do you know the Marquess of O-, he asks, has been to a deal of places about the world, but not to the antipodes.

Alas, says the Marquess, I had been planning an expedition in those parts, but then I succeed’d, and was oblig’d to take up my responsibilities.

And advizes, goes on Josh, that I should study drawing as well as the classicks and mathematicks do I intend pursue a scientifick career, 'tis of quite the greatest utility.

Sure you will be a very accomplisht fellow, says I.

But, he says, I daresay Miss N- will be calling me do I not go now to the schoolroom.

He carries the wombatt back to its pen, and goes indoors, after telling the Marquess that he is quite welcome to come visit the menagerie again.

What a splendid little fellow, says the Marquess after Josh has gone indoors.

Is he not, says I.

(Sure I cannot help but be somewhat prepossesst by a fellow that appreciates Josh’s qualities.)

The Marquess looks around him and says, sure he spent a deal of time more than he anticipat’d here: His Lordship so exceeding welcoming, Roberts such a repository of hortickultural wisdom. Sure he should be on his way back to his club.

What, says I, you have not open’d up O- House?

Not yet, he says, but he supposes he should be about the matter.

And thus, I presume, do not maintain a carriage -

Indeed I walkt here this forenoon, I find I get little enough exercise in Town.

Well, do not let me keep you from healthfull exercise, but you are very welcome to come in my carriage – for do I look to the sky I fear it forebodes rain.

The Marquess says that he has not yet got a weather-eye for this clime; and would be exceeding gratefull for the ride.

Once we are set off, he looks a little awkward, shifts his feet, and clasps and unclasps his hands. Indeed, Lady B-, I have been in hopes of finding some occasion of conversation with you –

Oh? says I. (For I daresay that some prudent arrang’d marriage impending may not deter every fellow from making suit to another lady entirely.)

- sure, I am not hanging out for your favours, 'tis not such a matter at all.

He clasps and unclasps his hands. In my travels, Lady B-, I have ever found a local guide of the very greatest utility. And sure Town and Society are as strange to me as any place I have been – o, I have spent some time in masculine company and with those who follow scientifick pursuits, in my brief sojourns in this country, but I have never been in what is consider’d Society.

I suppos’d, he goes on, that my late brother was entirely a malade imaginaire, that made a pastime of quacking himself and taking the waters &C but was in entire health – would eventual marry – beget heirs - but 'twas not the case; is said by his medical attendants to have been of a sickly constitution for many years and unlike to have liv’d to any great age. But I never thought the title and its duties would fall to me. I am sadly ignorant of the accept’d usages.

Surely, says I, there are gentlemen - colleagues - that might advize?

I have heard, he says with a smile, that Lady B- is most exceedingly admir’d for the excellence of her ton; and that is a very enviable thing – but I am most particular taken by the discovery that you were not born in the purple.

Indeed I was not, says I, unless it might be some fine stage cloak that I was wrappt in as an infant.

Which leads me to suppose that you understand the ways of Society better than those that were born to it and grew up in it and never had to think about it.

Perchance! says I.

Also, one notes that ladies have a very great importance in Society and I am in some fears I may misstep out of ignorance.

'Tis possible, says I. I think you had better come and take tea with me.

When we arrive at my pretty house I hand my hat and gloves to Hector and request him to desire tea of Euphemia. And perchance the fire in the parlour could do with stirring up.

After Celeste has brought tea, and the fire stirr’d up, I pour us each a cup, lean back in my chair and say, 'tis an intriguing proposition, but I am like to suppose that the world will consider you go make suit to me, unless –

I look into my tea-cup.

- did you open up O- House, says I, there are doubtless housekeeping matters that you would require female advice upon – do you have any female relatives?

Only a great-aunt or two that would prefer to stay in their cozy homes in the country.

Excellent! And there will doubtless also be matters of decoration, new furniture, &C, on which you might desire the advice of a lady so not’d for the excellence of her taste as Lady B-.

That is a prudent thought, he says.

Why, says I, do you go about opening up O- House, I may come visit there to advize, and bring my manservant Hector with me to protect my virtue and my reputation, and 'twill be all entire aboveboard.

He looks at me somewhat nervous. Perchance he thought he should have to offer more persuasions, but this provides most excellent opportunity to find out what he is about.

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'Tis most extreme pleasing to go to the theatre and to observe Lady D- and Miss S- in the M- box: Lady D- can scarce contain her excitement.

The play is nothing remarkable, and to those that attend most regular, Miss R- must appear not quite in best form, and, after hearing Mr J-'s complaints upon actresses, I cannot help but surmize why.

Sure I must go and sound out this matter of Miss A- going to Harrogate and Miss R-'s queasy turns. Indeed I am a little surpriz’d that I have not seen the dear rogue for some days.

The next forenoon I am about my correspondence while I continue to puzzle over these theatre dramas.

Hector comes show in Sandy; shortly after comes Celeste with coffee and scones.

How now, o bello scozzese, says I, sure I am particular glad to see you the morn, have a question I should like to ask of you.

Sandy blinks a little: I perceive that he has not yet got coffee-cup in hand, so I pour him some and wait for it to make its effect.

Ask on, o wisest of silly creatures!

Do you know aught of the Marquess of O-, that was formerly Lord Anthony A-, fam’d explorer and virtuoso of botany?

Sandy gives a great mirthfull smile and says, indeed he does, has heard a deal concerning the fellow among sets he frequents.

O, says I, is he perchance of the brotherhood?

What! not to my knowledge: the fellow is, or has been, shall we say an adherent of the Cause? His explorations took him to a deal of parts of the globe where there were struggles against tyranny, and sure, an eccentrique English Milord that hunts flowers - who would suspect such a one of revolutionary leanings?

Ah, says I, 'twould explain why he desires an introduction to Milord and his fine politickal set.

Why, says Sandy, 'tis most encouraging to hear. But does the fellow go make suit to the lovely widow’d Marchioness?

I confide not, says I, for I am given to apprehend that he has been offer’d a matrimonial alliance.

That is extreme expeditious, remarks Sandy, the fellow can scarce be out of mourning for his late brother. But indeed, I daresay there are those anxious to bring about such an advantageous match –

Will or nil the propos’d bride, says I.

Oh. Sure, dearest C-, I have heard you quite sermonize upon the topick that there are fellows that preach liberty and freedom most liberal, and still have very benight’d notions concerning the place of woman.

Entirely so, says I. Sure I was not wearing my very stylish red cap of liberty when I met His Lordship. He show’d extreme civil, desires to convoke with Roberts upon some botanickal matter as well as an introduction to Milord; is well report’d upon by Jacob S- and the V-s; but, indeed, if he concedes to this marriage as entire in order and the done thing, I shall not be able to bring myself to like him.

One may suppose, says Sandy very thoughtfull, that does a fellow go offer another fellow his eligible female relative – for I daresay the lady is comely, youthfull, and of high birth? – I nod – 'twould be a somewhat difficult matter to refuse outright.

Hmm, says I, you may be right. And one that has just succeed’d as Marquess can hardly make your fine declaration about a man of spirit’s dislike to marrying for advantage.

Are you entire sure, dearest C-, that you do not propose writing a novel of Society life?

Fie upon it, says I, leave me to my ghosts and monsters and horrid devices. Why do not you attempt such a matter?

We look at one another with great affection.

Well, says he, I will go tell G- that the fellow desires his acquaintance and has some inclination towards our coterie. And I will mention the matter to Roberts. He pauses and adds, Do you hear from Lady J-? there are a couple of new works upon classickal subjects that I should like to send her to have her opinion of, is she recover’d enough to give time to her studies.

Sure, says I, I confide that she would be extreme gratefull. Might distract her from running around about dairy-matters, for Martha reports her still somewhat pull’d down in bodily health.

We part with very amiable feeling, and I return to my correspondence.

Comes in Dorcas, and says Dolly Mutton has no particular knowledge of the gentleman I askt about, but will go ask about. Also she has taken the liberty of arranging to take Prue to have her eyes examin’d.

Excellent, says I. Is all else well within the household?

Dorcas says that she confides so, but that Nell, that should be about her duties in the mews cottage, finds a deal of occasion to come around gaping upon Timothy.

Well, says I, he is becoming a well-set-up young fellow, and I apprehend that Hector has been about warning him of the beguilements of women.

In the afternoon I desire Ajax to take me to Miss A-'s lodgings, for I greatly wish to discover what this matter is of her going to Harrogate. However, Rose informs me that Miss A- is gone to the theatre, so I proceed there.

When I arrive at Miss A-'s dressing-room, I discover her there, along with Miss R-, that is awash with tears and sobbing mightily.

How now, says I, perchance I come at an unsuitable time?

O no, cries Miss A-, I have just been exhorting Miss R- to open the matter to you, that is always such a wise mentor.

O, you flatterer! says I, seating myself. Might we have some tea, 'tis very soothing?

Miss A- goes send Maggy, that grumbles the while, to fetch tea.

So, says I, when we all have what the poet has justly called the cup that chears, what’s ado, my dears?

Miss R- blows her nose and says that she goes with child.

Well, my dear, is the matter not too advanc’d there is a fine midwife I could recommend to you, that I confide will know of means of taking it off; but if you do not wish to take that road, sure I daresay Danvers D- would do all that is proper, provide for your lying-in, acknowledge the child and make suitable provision –

Miss R- breaks out in tears again and says, he has start’d to talk about marriage. Says his mama has been pestering him for grandchildren this age, and he has never encounter’d a woman he likes as much as me, 'twould be a most excellent thing.

But, she says, in a great wail, I should have to give up the stage.

Indeed, thinks I, sure there are marry’d actresses, but they are those that have marry’d within the profession; Danvers D- is of a different station and 'twould be consider’d in very poor ton for his wife to be upon the stage.

'Twould be a great loss to the theatre, says Miss A-, did Miss R- go marry and quit it.

Sure I quite see that: 'tis her vocation, just as 'tis Miss A-'s.

But, she goes on, sure I should not wish to hurt Danvers’ feelings, and 'tis a kind and honourable offer.

I say indeed 'tis a very knott’d business, but I will go consider upon it.

Also, she goes on, who would make a home for my uncle did I go marry?

She is at length got out of the dressing-room and goes splash water upon her face and, I daresay, make little Puggsiekins the confidante of her troubles.

Well, says I, turning to Miss A-. 'Tis a brangle and no mistake. Sure she is by no means ineligible as a wife: comes of genteel folk, I apprehend, and I daresay would show well in Society. And Danvers D- may be exceeding wealthy, but he is by no means of aristocratick rank himself. Mrs D- already quite doats upon Miss R-.

But, my dear, what is this business of going play in Harrogate? I saw Mr J- 'tother day very put about in the matter.

Miss A- folds her hands in her lap and looks at me a little sideways. Why, says she, I had to find some stratagem to persuade Lady J- to go take the waters instead of delaying her recovery by getting up before dawn to milk cows &C. So, I wrote to friends at Harrogate, that are quite delight’d to get a crack Town actress for a short season; and then told Lady J- that I was going there, would she not come join me, and get the benefit of the waters while we were there?

And, she says, she has quite conced’d that 'tis a most excellent plan – I think she fear’d becoming melancholick did she go there alone, for I daresay she would not consider the society there up to her mark. But am I there, 'twould be an entire different matter.

My dear! says I, what a fine stratagem! Sure we will yet find you writing plays as well as acting in 'em. And indeed, I think 'twill greatly benefit her to go take the waters and not be anywhere where she feels oblig’d to bustle about in her usual fashion. I confide that the Admiral would greatly applaud your course of action.

What a dear fellow he is, says Miss A- with a slight blush. Would never think of coming 'twixt Lady J- and myself, 'tis surely a very rare thing.

The finest of fellows, says I. But will this fine plan not cause problems with Mr J- and the rest of the company?

She gives a little smile and says, she thinks it may make them not take her for grant’d.

Dear rogue, says I with a smile, sure you are no longer that little scar’d rabbit that was Mr P-'s protegée.

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I hear back very expeditious from Jacob S-, that says he has encounter’d the present Marquess of O- at various scientifick meetings when he was merely Lord Anthony A-. An intelligent fellow that led a most daring life in search of rare specimens. He did not know him well enough to say much on his character, but he is somewhat predispos’d in his favour as he was ever, unlike some even among those of learning, extreme courteous to himself. Which at least perchance argues that he is not given to vulgar prejudices.

The V-s say similarly that because Lord Anthony was so much away about his travels, they did not know him well, but was ever entire civil, and also quite apprehend’d that Mrs V- was entire a partner in their botanickal enterprizes and one that had very fine understandings. They confide that he would be an entire ornament to my soirées.

Why, says I to myself, at least he is not so bad as that weasel Mr E-, but sure I would hope for something a little more encouraging to offer a prospective wife.

Comes Mrs N- and says, have I heard? Lord and Lady D- and Miss S- were of the party that Sir B- W- got up to go to Ranelagh lately, along with that military fellow that is their guest. Sure, my dear, instead of making a penitent magdalene of you, Lord D- has been turn’d into a positively agreeable fellow that does not frown upon harmless amuzements.

Really? says I, I am quite behindhand on that intelligence. (I wonder is there some consideration that Miss S- might be a possible bride for Captain C-?) But, my dear – do help yourself to these turnovers, they are quite fresh from the oven, Euphemia will be most offend’d do I send them back – 'twas not any matter of Lord and Lady D- about which I wisht to talk to you.

She sips her coffee and nibbles on a turnover and composes herself to listen.

Do you know aught, I ask, of the new Marquess of O- - sure not so very new, but has been observing very proper mourning for his brother and only just coming about into Society. Indeed there may not be a deal to know, he having been out of the country so much about his plant-hunting.

She looks thoughtfull. Indeed, he is not a fellow of a reputation that precedes him, except for going into wild and dangerous places and coming back with flowers. I daresay he must have spent enough time in Town in between his expeditions that had there been anything particular remarkable in his conduct, 'twould be talkt of. But I will go about and see what there is to learn, tho’ I confide that one might hear more from those that frequent masculine society and in the clubs rather than over tea-cups.

But, she goes on, that may merely mean that did he go womanize, 'twas not among Society ladies, or, indeed, crack demimondaines such as yourself or Miss G- - do you ever hear from her in her wintery fastness?

Alas, says I, I confide that the posts from Russia are exceeding uncertain, and have the greatest fears that she finds herself in Siberia. But my dear Mrs N-, how do you and Mr N-? I have not seen you quite this age.

Oh, says she, they get on very comfortable. Mr N- has a notion for them to go to the Contessa’s ridotto as a Roman Emperor and Empress –

I give a somewhat vulgar snort of laughter: is there not some saying concerning Caesar’s wife?

Perchance there is! But, indeed, she puts down her cup, sure I should be off to the theatre. My dear Mr J- seems somewhat put about on some matter, but has not yet disclos’d the full business to me.

Perchance Miss A- goes be somewhat distract’d while Lady J- convalesces?

No, dear Miss A- seems quite remarkable calm and diligent at present: sure there is a change! Mayhap Mr W- goes disport himself indiscreet again.

We take a very warm farewell of one another and she departs for, I confide, adulterous f-----g in a dressing-room.

Well, thinks I, 'twould be a prudent thought to see does Dolly Mutton or any of her connexion in Covent Garden have any knowledge of the Marquess of O-. And on the matter of manly company, 'tis an entire age since I was at Sir Z- R-'s studio and he has a very wide acquaintance.

I know not when I might find time to go to Dolly Mutton’s, but I send for Dorcas, that I daresay will be visiting there no very distant time hence, and ask her to convey to Dolly Mutton my most exceeding regards, and to ask does she have any intelligence concerning Lord Anthony A- that is now become Marquess of O-.

And how, says I, goes your sitting to Mr van H-?

Dorcas replies that he ever shows civil and well-behav’d, but she minds of Phoebe saying aforetimes that 'twas a tiring matter sitting to an artist, and she is quite in agreement.

She goes on to say that she has some suspicion that Prue may require new spectacles; goes screw up her eyes somewhat, and complains of the headache.

Well, says I, I have the directions of a deal of oculists, and she may go see one as soon as maybe.

In the afternoon I go visit Sir Z- R-'s studio. He declares that I am quite the stranger - has not seen me since that soirée - hears I have entire forgiven Lord D- for his abrupt departure – do I hear about how Lady J- does, &C&C.

I look about the company. There are a deal of familiar faces.

And how does the wombatt? I ask.

Becomes somewhat torpid now the weather becomes colder, but in fine stout state. He wonders whether it becomes inclin’d once more to amorous sport.

I remark 'tis the very prettyest thing to see Josh playing with the infant wombatt.

Speaking of R- House, says Sir Z- R-, there was one here just now, would most greatly desire to convoke with Roberts, that is known most skill’d in all hortickultural matters. He looks about him. Indeed, he is still here. He waves, and a fellow I do not know comes over.

Lady B-, may I present the Marquess of O-?

I curtesy, and he makes me a leg.

Lady B-, Sir Z- R-, says to the Marquess, has a deal of interest at R- House: Roberts marry’d her former cook, that is quite as celebrat’d in her sphere as he in his, the renown’d Seraphine, that goddess of the kitchen.

I observe the Marquess. He is somewhat younger than I suppos’d: tho’ I confide he will not see thirty again, I do not think he is yet nigh to forty. He has a brown weather’d complexion that I suppose is from his daring travels. Is dresst in entire good ton but very plain: does not, I think, aspire to be consider’d in the dandy-set.

I smile and say I should be happy to prefer his interest at R- House. His Lordship and I have long been on the most affectionate terms, for the late Marquess was quite his dearest friend, and as Sir Z- R- has said, I have a considerable interest in Roberts and his family.

That is most exceeding kind of you, Lady B-: 'tis a matter of some seeds I have, that I have been unable to coax to germinate, and I was like to think that this is somewhat that Roberts may be able to advize concerning.

Why, says I, he is sure exceeding not’d for the very out of the common things he is able to grow –

Sir Z- R- interjects that he has given the most valuable advice on his own antipodean garden.

He then sights one he must speak to and leaves us.

I should also, goes on the Marquess, be extreme gratefull for an introduction to Lord G- R-. I apprehend that he is in a very good thoughtfull politickal set; and since I shall be taking up my place in the Lords, now that I have settl’d a deal of matters about the estate and am out of mourning, I should like to talk to him on the matters that go forward there.

I am sure, says I, His Lordship would be entire delight’d to talk on such matters with you.

The Marquess sighs and says he has been much out of Society, as he looks about the studio. I came see Sir Z- R- about a portrait - for 'tis the tradition in the family to have one paint’d as soon as maybe after accession – and he most kindly invit’d me to stay and make some acquaintance in the company. Sure he knows a deal of people.

Why, says I, I hear that you are known among the cognoscenti in the sciences.

He sighs again and says he is a deal happyer in their company.

Sir Z- R- comes over and desires introduce some others to the Marquess. I drift away, and see Mr J- standing brooding in his best Hamlet manner at the wombatt. But as I tap him upon the arm with my fan, looks at me with that little smile of old acquaintance and the knowledge that I once gave him that thing that is suppos’d to be a maiden’s carefully-guard’d treasure, that I was exceeding anxious to dispose of.

He sighs, and says sure he thinks the theatres of the Bard’s day had the right of it by having boys instead of actresses to play the women.

I raise my eyebrows.

Here, he says, is Miss A- suddenly takes a freak to go play for a season in Harrogate; and there is Miss R-, looking pale and shaky of a morning, and interrupting rehearsals to rush to her dressing-room and there, he confides, puke.

I say that boys, unless serv’d as the Italians do to make castrati, presumably grew beards and had their voices break.

I pat him upon the arm, but this intelligence gives me much to wonder at.

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The very next e’en my darlings are to come for triangular business and a nice little supper.

They come in very solemn-fac’d and I see that they are in the mood to chide me for being somewhat flirtatious with Captain C-.

Indeed, my darling, begins Eliza, we apprehend that dear Susannah askt you to make amiable to Captain C-, and we should not desire the loveliest of C-s to be incivil, but sure, it can cut to the heart to see our darling seem so very agreeable to some fellow.

And sure, adds Josiah, a fellow showing so attentive to our precious third will bring one to thoughts of noses and punching.

I fold my hands in my lap and put on a pathetick expression. I determine not to plead Susannah’s desire that I should contrive to turn Captain C-'s thoughts away from any lingering upon Mrs D- K-; I will not even go claim that sure, I was like to think of the merchant to secure his treasure &C.

O, says I, with perhaps a little tearfullness, I am a bad, wick’d, thoughtless C-, and indeed I deserve to be punisht -

My darlings look upon me very thoughtfull, and then exchange considering glances.

Why, says Eliza with a wick’d grin, sure I confide that we may bring our darling to a state of penitence.

This makes for a most amuzing time, and indeed we are all entire reconcil’d and in complete amiability by the time we go have the supper Euphemia has prepar’d.

When we part with many fond sighs and kisses, I remark that perchance I am not the only bad naughty creature, and there are others may need bringing to penitence in due course. We all laugh a little, and, I confide, embark upon anticipation.

It therefore happens that Docket declares next morn that I was sleeping so peacefull that she did not disturb me, and I am in my peignoir having a belat’d breakfast when Hector comes tell me that Lady Anna M- is come to call.

Why, says I, show her in, and go desire some fresh coffee and muffins of Euphemia. And I am not at home to anyone else.

Comes in Lady Anna, makes me a curtesy – I go excuse myself for my deshabille - and looks about my pretty parlour. She gives a little sigh. O, indeed 'tis as exquisite as Agnes said.

I wave her into a chair as she continues to look about her.

I took occasion, she says at length, of my groom wishing to convoke with Ajax about some matter that troubles Orion to ride out here the morn.

Comes Celeste with fresh coffee, more muffins, and some of Euphemia’s most particular priz’d bramble jelly.

O, cries Lady Anna, after I have pour’d her some coffee, sure this is not like the coffee we have at home.

I smile and say, sure I am exceeding particular concerning coffee. But do have one of these nice warm muffins.

She eats these with great relish and then licks her fingers.

Oh, Lady B-, says she, 'tis very good of you to see me. I do not know where I may turn.

(O dear, thinks I, I hope she has not been seduc’d by some rascal.)

I look at her with my face of sympathetick listening.

Papa, she says, wringing her hands together, desires me to marry his old friend the Marquess of O-, that I have never even met.

Indeed, I am oblig’d to stop and think what I may recall concerning the Marquess of O-. I collect that the present holder of that rank succeed’d upon the death of his elder brother some twelve-month or so since, so will have been in mourning and not much in Society. Before that, was a fam’d traveller to distant parts upon expeditions to collect plants. I do not think I have ever met the fellow, but I daresay I shall be able to discover somewhat about him do I go ask about, and put Mrs N- to the task.

Why, says I, I know nothing to his discredit, but indeed he has been much out of the country.

O, she cries, Papa says that he is an excellent fellow in the prime of life and a Fellow of the Royal Society, and purposes to give up his travels to be about his responsibilities now that he has succeed’d, which Papa thinks most creditable in him, for his brother was a weakly fellow that spent his time quacking himself and going take the waters and neglecting the business of the estate.

Dear Lady Anna, says I, I know that in your high station marriages are often arrang’d thus. But is there already some other fellow your affections light upon?

She wrinkles her nose a little and says, there is none in particular has caught her fancy, but sure she and Em have not been as much in Society as they should like. And the Season not even fully begun yet.

She sighs and says, sure she knows that the match 'twixt His and Her Grace of M- was most unusual romantick, quite like unto a novel; but she is not a fool, 'tis most unlike there would be some handsome young Duke come rescue her from an undesir’d union.

Indeed not, say I, tallying over the present Dukes and finding none that would fit this description that is not already marry’d.

I doubt, says I, that the Marquess of O- is such a horrid creature as the present Marquess of B-, that is quite raving and in a fine madhouse. I do not have his acquaintance, but I daresay I may go find out somewhat about him (sure is he a Fellow of the Royal Society Jacob S- may know him, and even be able to effect an introduction), and see whether he can be persuad’d that this is no way to go about choosing a wife.

O, Lady B-, cries Lady Anna, clutching at my hands, I should be most infinite gratefull.

There, there, my dear, says I, I will go be about the matter. Have some more coffee.

After she has gone Hector comes say that Ajax is wishfull to go to the stables at N- House as there is some trouble with one of the cattle there that he thinks does he look at, and have his hands upon, may be able to do somewhat about.

Why, says I, I do not go out this afternoon, for I have the F- girls coming for a chocolate party –

Hector says, indeed, Euphemia is already about baking for 'em.

- I daresay he may be spar’d.

After I have dresst for the day, I go to my pretty desk and sigh at the pile of correspondence. Before I go wrestle with it, I indite a letter to Jacob S- concerning the Marquess of O- and any knowledge he may have of him. 'Tis also possible that the V-s know him, is he in the Earl of N-'s botanickal circles. I go about more indirect to 'em, saying that I hear that the Marquess is now out of mourning and going about in Society and given out a great virtuoso: is he perchance one that would adorn my soirées?

I also dash off a little note to Mrs N-, remarking that I have not seen her this age, and have a matter or two in which I would be greatly oblig’d by her talents. I also mind that is the Marquess a virtuoso of learning may be known to Sandy, that I confide I am like to be in conclave with within the se’ennight.

But sure I merely go beguile the time until the girls arrive.

And then they are here and tumbling into the room and my darling jewel comes hug me very exuberant, follow’d more sober by Bess and Meg, that look at her exceeding doating.

Flora, says Bess, show Aunty C- how very well you can count, which she goes do with most extreme enthusiasm.

Sure, says I, she is quite the infant bluestocking.

And knows her alphabet, too, says Meg: that Flora goes perform

And, says Bess, goes teach the nursery set.

O, says I, there is a girl that deserves a kiss; suiting the action to the word.

Come in Euphemia and Celeste with the chocolate-pot and china and a great array of delicacies.

O, cries Meg, sure this quite exceeds. Euphemia smiles at her and says she hears that Seraphine goes lesson 'em so that they may make their own.

Meg says, a little too offhand, that 'twas Bess and her friends that Seraphine went school in the culinary arts.

Why, says Bess, you could have join’d us, but you made a deal of to-do that you might injure your hands and hinder your playing.

Come, my dears, says I, do not brangle and set Flora a bad example, but come sit down and have some chocolate.

Flora goes tell me a deal about the dormice, and Mittens, and the badger; and then sidle into the room Dandy and Pounce, that have deduc’d that there is somewhat afoot, and may be occasion to tell company how very ill-us’d they are, and perchance be offer’d nourishment, for, sure, they are quite cruelly starv’d.

The girls go exclaim, and I tell 'em not to believe these protestations, for the kittens are exceeding well-fed and have a warm place to sleep and are entire doat’d on by the entire household, even Docket.

I ask how the rest of the household do, and Bess says that there is the business on hand of appointing a tutor so that Josh may learn the classicks; and she minds that Lady J- is given out a great scholar of such matters, so cannot be unfitt’d to the female mind, and mayhap they should go study ‘em too?

(I am in supposition that 'tis consider’d unsuitable for females because of the deal of coarse matter that the Greeks and Romans wrote.)

Why, says I, I daresay you might, but you already have a deal on hand, do you not?

Indeed they do, they concede, and go tell me of all they are about.

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'Tis somewhat of a surprize when Miss S- comes a-calling again so soon.

Oh, Lady B-, says she, sure I confide that you are the only person I might even talk to about this.

(This gives me somewhat of concern.)

I desire her to take some good strong coffee and help herself to these very fine tartlets that Euphemia has provid’d

I apprehend, says she, that I go earn money from my poems?

'Tis so, says I (much reliev’d). Mr MacD- goes manage the matter as he is well-acquaint’d with publishers and their ways –

O, is’t true that he writes novels?

- 'Tis given out, says I, but I do not know whether 'tis true.

But what I wisht to ask was, as I do not need this money, for I cannot suppose that there is any matter where my guardian would not go pay my bills –

Indeed you are in fortunate case! says I. Short of having the management of one’s own money in one’s own hands, a liberal trustee that does not make difficulties is the next best thing.

She then says, o, perchance did I go play high I might find myself in difficulty, but indeed I feel no inclination –

'Tis very well: a most deleterious habit and one that is most particular dangerous to a young woman that is not yet marry’d.

So, she says, I am mind’d that I should give the profits from my poems to some good cause, might it be done discreet and anonymous.

Was there, says I, some particular cause that you had in mind?

I was hopefull, dear Lady B-, that you might go recommend one or another to me.

I pause and take thought and say, there is a particular charity of mine that is a most discreet matter, that I myself support very covert for there are those would quite entire condemn the work and consider it grossly immoral.

Miss S- looks entire fascinat’d by this.

You will doubtless, says I, have heard of magdalene asylums -

She nods.

- where women that are what is call’d fallen may quit their trade in what is suppos’d vice, at the expense of being preacht over and sermoniz’d upon and requir’d to live very strict, and engage in laundry-work &C.

As I daresay you are appriz’d, I was of that profession myself, tho’ was a deal more fortunate than many that undertake it or fall into it as a result of misfortune. And sure I should greatly dislike to be preacht at, and sleep on hard beds and rise very early to go pray. But there are those that desire to leave that life but have not done well enough that they may live independent and even come to be consider’d respectable citizens.

Miss S- is watching me with entire attention.

There is a friend of mine, says I, runs a refuge in the vicinity of Covent Garden where such women may live in comfort, have any medical attendance they require, and altho’ they may have any spiritual consolation they desire are not subject quite involuntary to sermons on their sins. 'Tis a most exceeding well-run enterprize, but 'tis not something that one may get up subscriptions for , or hold drawing-room meetings for the benefit of, in the usual way.

O, cries Miss S-, covering her mouth with her hand, o, 'tis a shame it must be so.

Indeed, says I. But I provide for it, and some other friends of mine do the like.

Miss S- smiles and says, she has somewhat of the impression that ladies that earn their living by their pen, or even merely dare to become writers, are sometimes spoke of in almost the same light.

(She really has a deal of apprehension.)

So, she says, might I give the proceeds of my little lyrics to this excellent purpose?

'Twould be a most kindly act, says I.

Then indeed I shall do so! How should I be about it?

I suggest to her that she writes a little note conveying to Sandy that she would desire him to make over her profits to me for philanthropick purposes, and give her paper and a pen so that she may do so.

She exclaims very much over my pretty and exceeding usefull desk: o that she had such a thing.

Well, my dear, I am sure that your guardian would not quibble with the bill did you have one made.

She sighs exceedingly and says she fears it would look particular and there would be questions.

We part with most exceeding amiability 'twixt us, and I am most exceeding delight’d to have got something for Dolly Mutton’s fine enterprize.

The e’en comes the time appoint’d for Sir B- W- and Susannah’s dinner-party for Captain C-. I am array’d suitable stylish by Docket, that advizes my rubies, that are indeed very fine and become me mightily.

Sure 'tis agreeable to go dine with good friends: when I arrive I find that my darlings are of the party, along with Sir H- and Lady Z-. Captain C-, I confide, is looking a deal better, tho’ says that the quacks still go shake their heads.

Lady Z- is also looking extreme well: like Susannah, she shows visible sign of increase; Sir H- Z- shows as pleas’d and attentive as if 'twas his own child she bore.

I am sat at table 'twixt Sir H- and Captain C-. I have late discover’d that the Z-s’ Cornish property contains a tin-mine and therefore am able to converse with Sir H- Z- upon mining, comparisons 'twixt lead- and tin-mining, &C.

On my other side, I hear that Captain C- is in deep converse with my darling Eliza concerning the Indians of Nova Scotia, that are most exceeding fine hunters and cunning traders in furs. O, cries Eliza, I confide my boys would be quite wild to hear you discourse of Indians - if you remain in Town a little while and have no objection to a nursery tea I hope you will come call.

O, cries Lady Z-, that is talking with Sir B- W-, sure my boys would also long to hear the stories; she turns to Sir B- W- and says, perchance your Bobbie is still a little young to appreciate such tales?

Josiah remarks that he dares say their girls would listen quite avidly. (Indeed I think he is right.)

Captain C- looks extreme pleas’d and says sure he would be delight’d to talk to the young people, has some curious items they might care to look at, also a fine suit of the clothes the Micmacs, for thus they are call’d, wear.

They would surely most greatly like that, says Eliza.

(I hope that the society of women that are both excellent helpmeets and examples of maternal devotion will incline Captain C- away from the dangerous charms of Mrs D- K-.)

The first course is remov’d and the second brought on, and more wine goes around, and Captain C- turns from Eliza to me. Alas, I confide from his expression that his thoughts turn from excellent women that are helpmeets and good mothers to one that has been, perchance, no better than she should be. (Sure I daresay he has heard a deal about me from Major W-.)

He imparts to me a deal on the beauties of Nova Scotia: the quite magnificent harbour at Halifax, that is a most thriving city; the splendid green nature of the countryside, that particular impresst him coming from the Cape. 'Tis a land, he confides, a deal more agreeable to one that has been bred in English climes. And tho’ in the past there has been some trouble with the Indians, 'tis not so now.

(La, thinks I, sure he should go recommend the place to Herr P- for his ideal community.)

But, says I, looking at him wide-ey’d over my fan, are there not many wild animals?

O, says he, sure there is most excellent hunting, but Halifax is entire civiliz’d, and a deal of the land is now farm’d.

Say you so! I cry, for I find myself falling into old habits of flirtation.

We continue in this strain and I am like to feel as tho’ I am being watcht, even tho’ I apprehend that Eliza goes converse with Sir B- W- about whether 'tis time to think of a governess for Bobbie. Why, says she, 'tis early days, but Miss N- has had a most pleasing notion of making up little songs and rhymes to teach Flora her letters and numbers, sure 'tis something that might become more general in the nursery set. While Josiah is talking with Lady Z- about whether she goes to the ridotto. But I think they mark me out of the corners of their eyes. They cannot be jealous, can they?

'Tis quite entire that I should act civil and agreeable to Captain C- in accordance with Susannah’s desire to bring him to thoughts of ladies that are not Mrs D- K.

When Susannah rises to withdraw the ladies from the table, Eliza takes the opportunity to come up beside me and whisper in my ear that I am quite the naughtiest of C-s.

I flutter my lashes at her over my fan.

She goes talk obstetrickal matters with Susannah and Lady Z-.

The gentlemen do not remain overlong over their port and cigars, and join us very shortly.

Captain C- at once comes up to me to resume conversation. As we talk to observe that Sir H- Z- observes him a little quizzickal. But I do not have any sensation that Captain C- goes flirt with me purely as a masquerade to conceal the disposition.

And I fear there may be words with my darlings: for indeed, my own behaviour was not entire a masquerade and in former times I should not have been impervious to a suit from Captain C-.

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I ensure that my carriage is well-supply’d both with cushions and with several metal boxes of coals, for has of a sudden become exceeding chill, and desire Ajax to take me to N- House.

I am in a little doubt whether Lady N- will be inclin’d to this excursion, but I find her well-wrappt up waiting for me, with a stout footman ready to lift her in.

O, say she, 'tis such a refreshment to my spirit that I should not wish to cry off.

I should not, says I, wish to be the means by which you became entire done-up.

She gives a little snort and says she is a poor feeble creature, but there are matters for which 'tis worth paying that price.

Sure there is a little colour in her pale cheeks.

She leans forward to look out of the window. She sighs, and says sure she misses the bustle of Town life, living so quiet as she is oblig’d. She could quite envy her girls, with their theatre-parties and this ridotto and the lively way they go on. 'Tis a dull life living in two rooms.

O, she goes on, they are dear good creatures and come visit their mama daily or more, tell me of their adventures, but I could wish to be able to go about with 'em.

We drive through the Park and a little more generally about Town before I think she goes look a little weary, and we turn back to N- House. She quite beseeches me to come in and take tea, saying she sees so little company. (Sure I must go prevail upon my connexion to come call upon her.) So I concede.

She is carry’d to her sopha, where Selina quite immediate jumps up to her to complain of neglect. Lady N- rings for tea, and then goes assure Selina that indeed she is not scorn’d.

Lady N- is most curious to hear from me the true tale concerning Lord D-'s most improper behaviour and his coming to a better frame of mind; sure Geoff came home quite wild about the matter but suppos’d that there was no use in offering to challenge a canting hypockrite like that? but had heard a story of some German fellow that offer’d insult to Lady B-, and was soundly horsewhippt by her friends for his presumption.

O dear, says I. 'Twas not only myself that the fellow insult’d: had been coarse to a great number of entirely decent women, such as musicians that were oblig’d to put up with him out of professional considerations; and also grossly slander’d Lady J-.

I give a little smile and say, sure 'tis not known who the fellows were that took such vengeance: but I have known Admiral K- this long while – if not so long as Lady J-! – and he would ever propose horse-whips did he hear of some low fellow acting vulgar towards women.

O, cries Lady N-, is that not a most romantick tale about Lady J- and the Admiral?

I smile at her. Do your girls, I ask, take lessons from Fraulein H-? most excellent young woman, brother a fine flautist, supports the family by giving lessons and undertaking correspondence for those that deal with merchants in those parts, does a little translation &C. Was engag’d to that Bavarian wretch but threw him over when this business came out.

Lady N- looks down and says that Lord N- considers that girls need enough learning to read and write and compose civil letters, and a little knowledge of arithmetic, but does not hold with these modern notions of teaching 'em languages and the higher mathematicks and astronomy - Miss Herschel may be an entire excellent woman but what does a girl need with knowledge of constellations and comets?

But then, she continues, my little Lou comes in and tells me of all the matters Bess F- goes study, and Dodo B-'s singing lessons, and I fear that my girls are growing up uninstruct’d and lacking in accomplishments.

(I do not say that that perchance 'tis assum’d that their high birth – and indeed, they also have very pleasing looks – will help them to husbands.)

I remark that sure I am a sad uneducat’d creature: learnt my letters by copying parts for actors, and my numbers out of matters of theatre receipts. But seems to me that among my circle there are a deal of ladies that find much enjoyment in study and the development of their minds: there is Lady J- that will regard reading a little Greek quite in the light of recreation, and Her Grace that is most passionately fond of studying languages - even learnt a little Turkish from His Grace; and Lady T- that not only makes exceeding fine lace but studies its history; and Sir B- W- will ever be boasting of his clever wife.

Indeed, she sighs, I try to enter into Lord N-'s interests, by helping with his hortus siccus and such, but sure I never had any fine education.

I look about the room and come to an apprehension of something missing.

I am surpriz’d, says I, Lord N- being such an enthusiast of flowers, that you have none in the room. Perchance you are one of those that will sneeze, and find her eyes stream, if you come too close to flowers?

Indeed, she says, looking about her, 'twould greatly relieve the tedium of living as mew’d up as I do, did I have a fine show of flowers to look upon, that were not dessicat’d specimens. Tho', sure, she adds, scratching Selina behind her ear, I daresay this naughty puss would be about knocking 'em to the floor and fighting with 'em.

This leads me into an account of Dandy and Pounce, with a few anecdotes of Mittens; and thence to Josh’s menagerie.

She exclaims that sure the F-s are quite originals.

And then there is a little tap on the door and comes in Lord Geoffrey, that makes most unconvincing claims of surprize at finding me with his mama, as he makes an exceeding polisht leg.

Says that he is glad to hear that that little scrub came up to scratch and did the proper thing: one could observe that Miss S- was most extreme upset over the matter.

How go your theatrickals? I ask.

Why, he says, they come to an apprehension of how much they have to learn now they have the advantage of Miss A-'s instruction, and confide that they should not trouble an audience, however indulgent, just yet.

His mother smiles. Alas, she says, I daresay then we shall not welcome your brothers back with a fine performance.

Sure, he says, I think they would go mock us quite extreme did we do so. 'Tis a pity, he goes on, that there is no prospect that they will back in time for the Contessa’s ridotto. I suppose you will be going, Lady B-?

Indeed, says I, the Contessa and I became the fastest of friends when I visit’d Naples, and was long a dear friend to the late Marquess.

MacD- says he was a great loss to the study of antiquity, tho’ at least his fine collections are now in the British Museum?

'Tis so, says I, tho’ of course I was unable to enter into his activities in that direction. (I mind me that 'tis some time since I had word from Marcello: pray he has not been taken up for revolutionary activities.)

Lady N- says she collects that His Lordship once visit’d the Marquess when he was making a botanickal expedition in those parts.

O, says I, I should dearly like to hear his tales of that time: we had so sadly short a marriage.

Lady N- leans over and pats my hand. And no children, I apprehend?

Alas, no, says I, but indeed it came to my having to be examin’d by surgeons and midwives to prove I was not with child – but you will have heard, no doubt, about the present Marquess, that is an entire lunatick? essay’d a bigamous marriage and was denounc’d at the altar by his living wife. Made a deal of trouble over the succession.

Sure, says Lord Geoffrey, 'tis like unto a novel. And is’t true that MacD- writes novels?

'Tis much speculat’d upon, says I, whether 'tis so, for if he does, is extreme close upon the matter. Hardly accords with being a philosopher.

But, cries Lord Geoffrey, has he not expresst the opinion that fiction and even poetry can convey ideas in ways more telling than a dull treatise?

Why, says I, indeed he has. But nonetheless, does he write novels or poetry, conceals the matter very carefull.

I glance at Lady N- and perceive that she is looking a little pale.

Indeed, says I, I should not linger, for I daresay you are somewhat tir’d after our excursion.

Perchance a little, says Lady D- with a smile, stroking Selina, but has been most extreme agreeable.

It has so, says I, and sure we must repeat this experience.

Lord Geoffrey goes very ceremonious to show me out.

Before we come to the door, he clears his throat and says he confides that his sister Nan is troubl’d about somewhat, but will not open the matter to him: he confides 'tis some womanly business that perchance she does not want to bother their Mama with. Miss S- has said things to suggest that she has had most valuable counsel from you, Lady B-, and I would entire suppose that you could provide the like to Nan.

Why, says I, am I able to provide that advice that an older lady may give to a younger, I should be delight’d to perform that service for Lady Anna. Does she come call upon me one forenoon I am like to be at home to her.

Lord Geoffrey takes my hand very respectfull and says he will tell her that. (I wonder what the matter can be, for I confide the matter of ridotto costumes has been settl’d by Miss A-'s kind device.)

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

To show that there are quite entire no hard feelings I go call upon Lady D- as soon as maybe.

I find her in her parlour, with Miss S-, and a very small pug.

Lady D- rises – sure she looks a deal happyer - and comes shake my hand, says how very kind 'tis of Lady B- to visit, indeed she is exceeding sorry that there was some misunderstanding -

Why, says I, I confide all is now come to a better understanding.

O, indeed I hope so, she says, looking down quite wreath’d in smiles at the pug that plays about her feet. Then recalls her social duties and rings for tea.

Sure, says Miss S-, we apprehend that Lord D- had been given a quite misleading apprehension of Town society –

Oh, says I, sure one does not like to wax critickal of a fellow’s parent, but indeed I daresay that Lord P-'s fatherly advice might serve one that intend’d go amongst cows, but would not be of any great utility concerning the intricacies of Society.

They both giggle behind their hands.

There will be those that suppose that Society is a spider-web of vice and corruption, but sure there are many elements within Society, 'tis not like some club where all are of the same party or share some interest.

A footman brings tea and Lady D- goes pour out.

Indeed, she says after handing out cups, one may see Her Grace of M-, that is quite devot’d to her husband, and he to her, and to their little girl, and - 'tis give out that Lord S- is in fact her stepson? –

'Tis so, says I, his mother dy’d very shortly after he was born.

- but quite entire behaves with maternal affection towards him. And is such a partner to His Grace’s interests, and ever improving her own mind – Quite the pattern one should wish to emulate.

She is a most excellent young woman, I agree, but, sure there are many kinds of excellence and they are not all of the same pattern. Mayhap yours will be different, just as Her Grace and her sister-in-law Lady J- are both very fine women of different type.

Oh, says Lady D-, looking a little sad, what very distressing news 'twas about Lady J-. Do you know how she does?

Has gone to the Admiral’s fine property in Hampshire, says I, but her friends take a little concern that she sees too much to be about there to rest.

They both sigh.

I hear, says I, in order to restore chear to the company, that you go to the Contessa di S-'s ridotto?

Oh yes, says Lady D, dimpling very pretty, Lord D- says she show’d most extreme hospitable when he was in Naples, 'twould be poor ton to refuse. O, I have heard that her ridotti are most exceeding fine occasions.

Agnes S- smiles fondly at her sister.

The footman comes to announce Mrs P- and Miss W-, that I have besought to establish an interest with Lady D-, to show her that one may go about philanthropick matters and yet not be the gloomyest of Evangelickals.

They greet her very amiable, and she rings for more tea. Miss W- goes admire the pug.

I determine that I have stay’d a polite amount of time, and that I do not greatly wish to remain until any of the Evangelickal set come calling, and rise to depart.

Agnes S- comes with me to the door and says, O, Lady B-, may I come call upon you the morn? I am in some trouble of mind over a matter and I am quite sure that you will be able to advise me on the best course to take.

Why, my dear Miss S-, you quite flatter me, but I will do what I might to resolve your difficulty, do you come call tomorrow morn; and I daresay your groom is in great desire of convoking with Ajax about racing matters.

She laughs without immediate putting her hand to her mouth. Indeed I daresay he is.

So, next morn, while I am about my correspondence, that puts me in mind of the fate of Sisyphus, comes Miss S- to open her concerns to me.

Comes Celeste with good strong coffee and some very pretty little cakes.

I say to Miss S- that I apprehend that matters go more happyly at P- House?

Oh, indeed, she says with a smile, sure 'tis much more agreeable that Dora does not go in constant fear that Lord D- may chide her, and may read novels less clandestine. But 'twas not that I came talk to you about –

I raise my eyebrows and put on my listening face.

'Tis the matter of Lord N-'s daughters, she says, I am become most entire part of the circle of Lady Anna and Lady Emily, they are the most delightfull creatures, we are quite sworn friends, but there is a matter that gives me to ponder –

- I daresay you have not’d, Lady B-, that Lady Anna and Lady Emily are oblig’d to go about in last season’s – or even the previous season’s – gowns, somewhat made over; and one also apprehends that these gowns were chose for them by their aunt, that is now gone to Bombay, and had very antiquat’d notions –

Indeed, says I, has come to my attention that this is the case.

And at present they greatly bemoan that they have nothing suit’d to a ridotto, and are not in a position to have somewhat made, or perchance hire a costume, and it quite detracts from any excitement they might feel over the prospect.

And so, she continues, it has come to me that I am well-provid’d and might offer as an office of friendship to pay for 'em to have some handsome costume?

I lean over and take her hand. Dear Miss S-, 'tis a very generous thought that does you most extreme credit. And yet such matters may lead to difficulties between friends.

But sure, you need not go trouble yourself, for Miss A- has also not’d this matter and purposes to go lend 'em certain old theatrickal costumes that are not requir’d for productions at present on hand –

O, that is a very fine thought! what a most excellent woman she is.

She also had a notion – but you may have had thoughts about your costume already – that you might look most exceeding well in a robe like unto the one she wore as Empress in the play Queen Maud. Sure the play was very poor stuff – Mr P- should stick to criticism - but she show’d so well in it that 'twas quite the making of her reputation. I do not think her costume from the role would fit you, but did you have something made up on the same lines, 'twould be most effective.

O, cries Miss S-, indeed I have been wondering what I might go as. I confide Dora and Lord D- will go as Columbine and Harlequin -

I suppress my amuzement at this prospect, for they will be a deal plumper than those figures are usual present’d.

- but that sounds quite entirely a thing that could be contriv’d.

I daresay, says I, that Miss A- could contrive to give Copping a sight of the robe, and 'twould be no great matter to make up, I confide. And perchance a crown.

O, 'twould quite exceed, she cries.

I pour her some more coffee and urge her to make free of the little cakes, for Euphemia will be most offend’d do any return to the kitchen.

She then falls silent for a little while, and after a pause goes on to say, indeed she is most extreme fond of Lady Anna and Lady Emily and they make quite similar protestations to her, but she becomes a little concern’d when they say, o, would it not be the finest thing did she become their sister thro’ marrying Lord Edward or Lord Geoffrey. And, she says, I have not even seen Lord Edward, that I understand to be about the Grand Tour with their elder brother that is the heir.

(Sure I can suppose that the Earl’s daughters go about to establish an interest for their brothers.)

My dear Miss S-, says I, I hope 'tis not vulgar inquisitive to enquire, but I know you are well-provid’d, and I am like to wonder is your inheritance contingent upon matrimony, or would it be entire at your disposal once you came of age.

O, she says with a grimace, grandfather told us that he was leaving us both well-provid’d, but more for me than Dora, because 'twas – quite rightly – suppos’d that she would readyly catch a fine husband, while, did I desire to marry, some incentive for suitors might be requir’d. But did I fail to find a husband, I should have a fine independence and might live as I would.

And do you, I ask very idly, desire to marry?

Oh! she cries, perchance I might like a husband and children, but I cannot feel any leaning towards fellows that I suppose pay me attention because I am the well-dower’d Miss S-: there is always the feeling that they find themselves oblig’d to shut their eyes and consider their debts, or the need for improvements upon their estate, &C. I am like to suppose that if, as in some play, I had it put about that all my money had been lost in some enterprize, they would fall off very fast.

Indeed, says I, while I think that there are those that consider making suit to you that would behave with entire civility, show the respect due a wife, &C, 'tis because they are kind and mannerly and see the proper ton of the situation.

But, she says in somewhat desperate tones, is’t in the least likely that any fellow would wish to wive me except for prudential consideration?

Dear Miss S-, says I, there are those consider Lady W- a plain creature, but Sir B- W- entire doats upon her. His Grace was quite extreme in love with Lord S-'s poor mother, that was some years beyond those usual for making her debut, and also given out plain.

She looks a little hopefull at this. But, she says with a grimace, the knowledge of my wealth can only be a barrier to fellows such as Mr MacD-, that scorn to marry for advancement.

My dear, says I, was never anything so unexpect’d as my own match with the dear Marquess.

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