the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

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.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

I remain in a state like unto that of Sisyphus with my correspondence.

I am about this quite betimes one forenoon when Hector says Lady Anna M- is at the door.

Why, says I, I daresay her groom goes convoke with Ajax and she is at loose ends, go send her in and desire coffee from Euphemia.

Lady Anna comes in – I perceive that she wears her old worn riding habit – and says that Tony has had to go down to D- Chase for a few days, and Davies has a desire to convoke with Ajax about some matter in the stables, and she hopes that I do not mind that she comes call.

Not in the least, says I, do you come sit here by the fire. (For indeed I have matters I should like to open to Lady Anna.)

She comes sit quite ladylike upon a chair, and says 'tis quite wonderfull, N- House is so warm these days, they do not have to sit and shiver, or go bundle up in shawls. O, and U- goes endeavour persuade Papa that we should give a ball. (Indeed he should, thinks I, with two daughters going about the Season, but I am not in any great hopes he will.)

Comes Celeste with coffee and some very fine little buns.

Tho’, says Lady Anna a little later, licking her fingers, sure we still do not have such very fine cooking at N- House.

Why, says I, I have been most sadly remiss in taking along a basketfull of fine comforts such as Euphemia bakes when I visit your mama, and must do so next time I call.

O, she cries, I did not mean –

Sure, my dear, of course you did not, 'tis I have been thoughtless. I go make a note in my little memorandum book.

But, says I, on matters of thoughtlessness, 'tis remarkt on that the Marquess of O- is seen very frequent at a most unfashionable hour riding with some lady, none knows who. Dear Lady Anna, do you really go riding with him so very often, unchaperon’d? No groom?

She blushes considerable and says, o, she does take Davies, but there is a young woman that goes walk dogs in the Park at that hour that he is exceeding taken by, and –

I shake my head. You may find yourself in difficulties, I say.

But, says Lady Anna, we are going to be marry’d!

Sure, says I, I know that there are some liberties permitt’d once a couple are formally affianc’d. But indeed there is not yet an engagement, whatever the understanding 'twixt the two of you. There are those say, who is this Fair Incognita that rides almost clandestine with the Marquess so many a morn? And go lay bets that his marriage with the Earl of N-'s daughter will not come off.

O, cries Lady Anna, raising her hands to her blushing cheeks, is’t so?

Indeed, says I.

Oh, she says, 'twas only so that we might be together, and talk, where we do not have to pretend and observe all the usages of society - I did not think.

She buries her head in her hands. O, she cries, I am such a foolish, thoughtless creature. Sure I sometimes think I am entire unworthy of his devotion –

Why, says I, I think he is somewhat to blame in the matter, but indeed, he has liv’d very much out of Society these many years –

She sighs, and says, and here am I, that never travell’d further than 'twixt Monks G- and N- House, wretch’dly ill-educat’d, I am quite entire unprepar’d to be such a wife as he needs.

But, says I with a smile, you are the wife he wants. I daresay he has a deal of acquaintance that count themselves learn’d ladies, but 'tis you his fancy has light’d upon. Perchance he does not want deep discourse of botany at his own fireside.

Might it be so? she asks. For he talks so admiring of Mrs V-, and Mrs S- that is such a help to her husband with her abilities in drawing.

Dear Lady Anna, says I, consider that the V-s and the S-s are in a very different station of society from His Lordship and yourself. What will be expect’d of you is very different.

She sighs again. And then says she is a wick’d ungratefull creature, when she should be calling down blessings upon me for all I have done for them, and not sitting complaining and worrying -

O, poo, says I, sometimes it will take one that can show an outside view upon matters. And sure I should think the less of you did you not go fret somewhat over the prospect of marriage, for, altho’ you are in the way to marry for love, that is too seldom the case for ladies of your rank, yet marriage is a heavy matter – does not the marriage service warn against entering upon it unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly?

She smiles. And then grows more sober and says, should they not continue their rides, then?

Might be prudent, says I, at least to pause for a while so that any gossip may dye down. I also wonder, I go on, whether might also be prudent to take Lord U- into your confidence about the matter: he is a fine sensible fellow and I confide able to be discreet.

Oh, she says, indeed he is.

She jumps up and says sure Davies must have conclud’d his convoking by now, and indeed she has took up a deal of my time, kisses me and takes her leave with many protestations of gratitude &C.

I return to my correspondence.

In the afternoon I go attend Lady J-'s musicale at M- House, first desiring Ajax to drive to R- House so that I may take up Meg.

Dear Meg is looking very wan at the prospect of performing, so I hold her hand and say that sure 'tis a well-known matter and shows no lack of talent to suffer from preliminary stage-fright, and mention that Miss A- is quite unable to eat before a performance, even when the play has been running a while. Meg squeezes my hand in silence.

At length she says with a little frown, 'tis a deal more frightening playing at one of Lady J-'s musicales than at a drawing-room meeting.

Why, I daresay, says I, for those at a drawing-room meeting are there for another purpose, and are like to be entire delight’d at a little entertainment to lighten the heavy matter they are there for; whereas at musicales, the audience is there to listen to the musick in particular, and are more like to be connoisseurs. Which is why, I say, giving her hand a squeeze, Lady J- is most exceeding exacting over who she invites to perform. You will have notic’d that Her Grace does not play on such occasions, and would not expect to.

O, says Meg, squeezing my hand in return. (Sure I do not know is this intelligence entire reassuring to her.)

But we come to M- House, and Lady J- greets us most extreme civil, and says how much she is looking forward to hearing Miss Margaret play – Miss L- says that they will be performing some duets by Haydn? Meg goes look a little more chearfull.

Viola beckons her over to sit with her and Sebastian K-. I do not immediate join 'em for I see Lady D- and Agnes S- enter, looking a little timid. I go at once introduce 'em to Lady J-, and mention Lady D-'s desire to find usefull work for good causes.

Lady J- looks down at her very benign: for indeed, even showing obvious signs of increase, Lady D- is a pretty fetching young creature, that looks up at Lady J- quite awestruck, saying anything, any humble task that she might undertake.

Why, says Lady J-, I am entire delight’d to hear of one does not think they are above the necessary humble tasks. Do you write a good clear hand? – Lady D- nods and her sister concurs – Why, there are ever circulars need addressing, and reports sending out, &C, and 'tis something you may contrive while sitting.

Lady D- expresses her entire willingness, and Lady J- says perchance did she come one day to P- House when Lady D- has nothing else upon hand? Lady D- nods and they proceed to the finding of a suitable occasion.

Agnes S- and I smile at one another as they are about this – and she very quick takes and squeezes my hand – and then I would go sit with Meg, but that I see Mrs O- B- with Charley looking a little overwhelm’d and go speak words of chear to 'em.

I go sit beside Meg, that Sebastian K- is telling of the exceeding fine musick he heard in various parts upon his travels. Viola looks at me and smiles and says, she has lately had a letter from Martha, that continues thrive in the sanitive airs of Hampshire, and is become quite the countrywoman - tho’ still cannot bring herself to feel comfortable around cows, has lately greatly taken to chickens and the management of the poultry-yard.

And Deborah? I ask.

O, entirely thriving, quite the bouncing infant. She adds that after the musicale, I might like come see Cathy?

'Twould be quite entire delightfull, says I, and then all fall silent, and Lady J- steps forward to introduce the proceedings.

Altho’ I should be quite happy to read some Shakspeare, have argu’d that since Miss A- has been out of Town 'tis entire proper that she undertakes this solus.

Meg shows most extreme well both in her own playing and in her duets with Miss L-. Mrs O- B- and Charley acquit themselves most impressive.

Naughty Miss A- desires Lady B- to come join her in reading: 'twould be entire vulgar to decline.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

There are still heapt-up piles of grimy snow in many places but the streets are a deal clearer as I go to O- House. Indeed, there is the very faintest hint in the air that spring may come again, which is most exceeding good to feel, even do my feet still rest upon a box of fine hot coals and are my hands still tuckt into my muff.

Sure matters get on at O- House. 'Tis now in sufficient trim that the Marquess has decid’d to move in, even does he not yet entertain Society, and even if there are still works go on around him. He remarks to me that sure has slept in worse places on his expeditions, even does he not count the occasional prison cell – sure, says I, you must recount me your stories some day – and Plender, that has left the club for a post as his valet, contrives to make him most exceeding comfortable.

He says, looking me in the eye, that sure we must sit down some day and tell stories, and, by the way, there was a fellow at the club lately show’d him a most horrid tale concerning a carnivorous flower.

Say you so! is’t in a book, or where, I love a horrid tale. (I doubt I shall be able to maintain my incognita from him for long, for he is a fellow of considerable perception and doubtless recalls that I went ask him several questions about carnivorous plants. Does he come across my tale, that is not yet publisht, about the Inca curse, I daresay the game will be up most entirely.)

He thinks 'twas in some newspaper.

But on the subject of stories, says I as we walk through the fine hall, where one can see the fine gold leaf and marble ceiling no longer plain grey with dust, I think you should be tippt the wink that there is an on-dit concerning your rides with a Fair Unknown in the Park at the unfashionable hours, that rouses speculations.

He makes an uneasy shrugging movement of his shoulders. When else are my dear Hippolyta and I able to meet to converse freely? Are we in company we must still act the comedy, and sure one may not have much conversation in a ballroom.

O, says I, I contrive to do so but sure I have had a deal of practice. Also I daresay my conversations are not of the kind you would desire to have with Lady Anna.

He sighs and then smiles and says, sure has greatly improv’d her spirits now she and her sisters do not feel themselves dowdy frumps.

Sure there is a deal of pleasure in feeling oneself dresst entire proper for the occasion and that do people go look, 'tis in admiration and even envy, rather than so that they may go titter behind their fans.

Some day, says he, you must tell me how you brought the Earl to these concessions.

Sure, says I, I think 'tis knowledge that should be shar’d, but yet I do not suppose it a matter that should be disclos’d to his children.

The Marquess raises his eyebrows, and doubtless considers that even if Lady B- is quite in Society and entire respectable, she may well retain antient connexions in the demimonde. He nods, and adds, that while he desires his future bride - he smiles very doating – should have the enjoyment of the Season, he is somewhat impatient for the time he may call her wife. Not merely, he adds, so that we need not meet so sub rosa, but so that I may have a place in the family and be able mayhap to moderate Lord N-'s freaks.

Does you entire credit, says I. And now, I daresay, I should go about and personate one that understands all the intricacies of housekeeping about your domestick establishment.

I go first to the kitchens, for I have a few messages for Arabella from Seraphine, along with some spices &C that she may not yet be provid’d with. I find Arabella seat’d at the kitchen table with Mrs Atkins, that is the housekeeper, comes with very fine recommendations from Mrs P- and Miss W-. I am pleas’d to see that they are on good terms, for indeed 'tis of great importance to the harmony of a household that housekeeper and cook should be upon diplomatick terms.

They look up and show a disposition to stand up and bob to me, but I wave them to sit down. Sure, says I, I perceive you are at your elevens. I hand over the package from Seraphine to Arabella, that opens it and say, o, 'tis the Indian spices! That is kind of her, for may be some while until I may acquire my own supply.

She then looks thoughtfull and says do I think His Lordship might go hold a tiffin party?

Why, says I, 'twould be a quite excellent notion and I will open the matter to him, for indeed he must begin take part in Society, and to do something a little out of the common way would serve well to introduce him.

That is, Arabella goes on, if you do not think Seraphine would dislike it?

My dear, says I, has Seraphine give you the fine receipts she had of General Y-'s Hindoo cook, and a supply of spices, 'tis no matter she will go take a jealous pet over.

Indeed, says Arabella with a smile, she is most unlike M. Duval.

Mrs Atkins stands up and says, has been exceeding pleasant convoking about household matters, but she should be about her own business now.

That minds me, says I, that by now Hector should have brought to your housekeeper’s room a selection of very excellent polishes and preparations for cleaning, that are not yet generally available, but that we would go recommend to you.

Why, that is kind, she says, as we walk towards her room. As the house has been clos’d up so long, there was no regular tradesman dealt with over such matters, and I am beleagur’d with a deal of circulars desiring our custom.

Indeed Hector has plac’d a fine basketfull of the first products of the enterprize making up Phoebe’s fine receipts for cleaning and polishing. Mrs Atkins goes look at them, opens some to sniff and says sure they have a most agreeable odour.

'Tis the mark of rank for a housekeeper in a large establishment such as this to be call’d Mrs and may not import that she is a marry’d woman. But I observe that there is a mark on the ring finger of her left hand altho’ she does not wear a wedding ring. But I confide that, as with the generality of those helpt to good places by Mrs P- and Miss W-, there is some sad story behind.

I am about to go, when Mrs Atkins clears her throat and says, 'tis a very great liberty she knows, but she has heard that Lady B- has connexions in New South Wales?

Indeed, says I.

Only, she says, her husband was transport’d some few years since – she adds that 'twas for agitation and endeavouring to form a combination - and she does not hear from him. Before he left he curst his foolishness that would leave her alone and in straits, and adviz’d her to forget him and give herself out a widow. But she would like to know is he still alive, and how he does, and sure, she does not forget him.

Why, says I, as I daresay you know, takes a deal of time to communicate with the antipodes, but I will write to my friends there, and mayhap you might write a note for your husband that I could enclose?

She thanks me a little tearfull, then recovers herself and says somewhat about laundry.

There are a deal of maids go bustle about: I hope 'tis not just because they see me and wish to show diligent.

Hector comes down the stairs and says he has been convoking with Carew, that is the butler, has heard about the extreme fine wines that are serv’d at Lady B-'s soirées and wonders whether we might supply the name of our merchant.

Hmm, says I, I think I shall have to go talk to Mr H- about the practickalities of the matter. (I also take a thought that perchance the Marquess may have views on smuggl’d goods.)

Hector then says, he observes that there is a fine train of horseflesh that heads towards the stableyard and he doubts not Captain P- and his lady come with 'em.

I go put my tippet on again – for ‘tis still so chilly that I do not like to venture outdoors without it – and make my way into the stableyard.

Sure there is indeed a deal of very fine horseflesh to be seen: for tho’ I do not suppose that the Marquess purposes setting up as a whip, there are still matters of carriage horses as well as riding cattle, to sustain his position.

I see him in converse with dear Belinda, and quite run over to 'em so that I may greet her and see how she does.

She is looking exceeding well, claps me hearty upon the shoulder and says the same of me, and adds that sure I have been missing some fine hunting staying mew’d up in Town. She goes continue tell the Marquess of some particular fine run they late had: sure I am of the Contessa’s views upon fox-hunting, 'tis an eccentricity I am unable to comprehend.

She then turns to me and asks is’t true I go marry Lord A-? (I apprehend from the Marquess’s expression that he has not heard this on-dit.) Sure, she goes on, he is a fine rider to hounds, but I should not have suppos’d the two of you particular suit’d.

Indeed we are not, says I,

The Marquess says, let us not stand around here becoming chill’d, I have order’d a collation to be laid in the small parlour.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

Your amanuensis is status Out Backson Bisy Backson.

(Feel free to talk quietly amongst yourselves.)

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

I go one forenoon to call upon dear Susannah, that is not going out at present: and sure the weather is such that even was one not increasing one might consider this a prudent course.

She sits beside the fire reading a newspaper through her lorgnette, with a pile of others and what I confide to be parliamentary reports beside her.

How now, my dear, says I, I see you are keeping busy.

She gets up and comes kiss me and says, 'tis a shocking confession, but she finds being busy about these matters a deal more agreeable than the demands of the Season. However distressing, she goes on, some of the matter in the news is and how benight’d so many of our legislators are.

She rings for one to go fetch coffee.

Well, dearest C-, you are looking most exceeding well. But, my dear, Sir B- W- says there is a deal of speculation, and actual laying of bets, around the clubs concerning your remarriage.

O, tush, says I, I have no intention to go remarry. Is this the matter of Lord A-? I daresay there are those consider Lady B- a pretty feather-wit that would be quite happy to wed such a fribble, but sure, I can imagine few things more tedious.

O, my dear! cries Susannah, pouring me coffee, and saying, no, indeed she does not mind it, but does not drink it herself at present. 'Tis not merely some matter of, by the end of the Season, or by the end of this year, tho’ she dares say that there are some go lay on the possibilities of Lady B-'s marrying at all. No, 'tis crying the odds on Lord A-, or Lord K-, or the Marquess of O-, and there is even an entire outsider, Mr Miles O’N-.

O, fie, says I. Do I go talk a little to a fellow in company there will be those suppose the banns are about to be call’d. And how might the world suppose there was any likelihood of a match with that mopish fellow Lord K-?

Why, has been put about that you were seen in deep converse with him at Lady T-'s party for her book upon lace, and that Lady T- is ever crying you up as manifesting quite the finest ton: indeed, 'tis consider’d a very signal mark of favour that she invit’d you on that occasion.

O, poo, says I, 'twas that I was able to be of some little assistance to her over the practickalities of having a book made.

Susannah laughs and says indeed she supposes that I have some knowledge of the matter.

Sure, says I, I have had to do with printers over pamphlets for my causes.

Dear C-, says she, sure you are quite a freak of nature. Had I writ some novel that all were reading and talking of, sure I should be quite shouting from the rooftops.

Oh! I cry, 'tis entire true that two may keep a secret if one of 'em be dead. And if there be three, sure there is no holding it back.

Why, says Susannah, 'twas Martha S- that mention’d it, and suppos’d I must be quite entire in the secret: and indeed, my dear, I am a little chagrin’d that you had not trust’d me with the knowledge.

O, says I, indeed I would not have disclos’d it at all, but that Viola had made certain deductions upon the matter of authorship, that I could not deny to her face. And you must consider, I go on, that there are those in my philanthropick circles that consider merely reading novels to be a vice: I do not dare to think how they would consider one that writes 'em.

Susannah gives her charming crookt smile and says, indeed they do not point out those moral lessons of the kind that some contend may give a little licence to fiction. But sure she is also inclin’d to chagrin that she had not made some guess herself: for there was one in The Gypsy’s Curse most greatly resembl’d the dread crocodile, and once she had seen that it came to her that there were other characters in the tale very much resembl’d certain of our set.

So, says I, in an endeavour to turn the subject, how does the dread crocodile?

Susannah laughs a little and says she entire sees what I am about, but sure she is ever ready to complain upon her mother-in-law, that still hangs about the house and will not go somewhere take the waters. Perchance 'tis rather too much to expect her to go into Somerset at this season with the weather as 'tis, but are there not many spaws? She sighs.

Tho’, she goes on, at least does she have a companion that she may bother she does not come around bothering me, and sitting with me when I had rather be about my reading, and chattering and gossiping and complaining. Mrs D- K- has not yet heard all her stories, I confide, and perchance does not have to go endeavour suppress yawns at their repetition.

So she answers? Does not go about to seduce Sir B- W-? Or Captain C-? or any that might come to the house, as might be Sir C- F-?

Indeed not! Behaves very quiet and mannerly, tho’ perchance 'tis that she is still somewhat stunn’d by her husband’s untimely demise. Does not give any sign of wishing to go about and be seen in Society: of course, she could not do so anyway, 'twould look extreme vulgar when she is in mourning, but I would have anticipat’d a greater impatience at the constraints of recent widowhood.

Hmm, says I, 'tis indeed not at all what one would have prophesy’d.

After a little pause I go on, indeed once the debts upon the estate are paid off she will have a little income, will not be entire destitute: but I am like to suppose 'twill not be enough to support the way of life in Society she was us’d to. She will either have to live very quiet, mayhap in some country town, or else continue as a companion. I would suppose the sum enough that she would not be oblig’d to remain in an uncongenial place, but would support her while she sought another.

Why, my dear, you take considerable thought over one that I daresay would not do the like for you.

I therefore open to Susannah my visit from Mrs D- K- about her inquisition by Mr W- Y- and remark that 'tis entire desirable that she should think of us as kind protectors.

Do we, asks Susannah, suppose she was her husband’s confederate and accomplice, or merely his tool?

I confide that 'twas the latter, says I, for she seem’d somewhat bewilder’d by Mr W- Y-: but, indeed, I think we should maintain all prudent caution.

She laughs and say, and this is the lady that Mr W- Y- considers a feather-wit!

'Tis really most agreeable to converse with her. I spend the afternoon making a deal of less agreeable calls.

But I am most extreme delight’d that there is a happy coincidence of a free e’en for both my darlings and myself, and I go to R- House for family dinner.

'Tis most exceeding pleasant: I am able to go be my sweet Flora’s sleepy wombatt, and snuggle with her, and exchange kisses, until she falls asleep, the precious darling.

I come out from the nursery and my dear Eliza puts her arm around my shoulder and I rest my head upon hers, and sigh, and say, what a great girl she grows.

We go into the family room, where Bess and Meg desire to tell me some matters of their dancing class, and the prospect of Lady J-'s musicale, and Josh comes show me his sketch-book, for he has now commenc’d drawing lessons. Miss N- tells me that Mr L- has acquir’d a fine grewsome tale by the author of The Gypsy’s Curse for the paper, and purposes run it in three parts; also, she says, some very pretty poems by the one that wrote The Vengefull Spirit. 'Tis exceeding gratifying.

Come in Josiah and Sandy, that also, I confides, goes not out: indeed 'tis a deal better to be indoors for 'tis gusting wind with flurries of snow and exceeding cold.

We all move into the dining room where a very fine dinner is set – sure, says I, this is no family dinner, 'tis quite the company spread.

Why, says Josiah, we are out so much of late that having our family about us is quite like having company. He tousles Josh’s hair. So, he says, there will be no keeping Mittens on your lap and slipping of titbits.

I remark that I am sure that Mittens gets exceeding well-fed without begging at table.

Altho’ we do not go discourse of deep matters, there is most amiable conversation and laughter around the table.

When we return to the family room, and Josh is chas’d off to bed, Josiah goes to the window, twitches back the curtain and says, 'tis coming down as I suppos’d it would. We all go look at snow that falls so heavy that we cannot see very far past it at all.

Oh dear, says Eliza, I think, dear Lady B-, that you should not endeavour to go home thro’ this. We ever keep a chamber reserv’d for you, and I confide that the grooms will provide Ajax with some shake-down somewhere.

Why, says I, that is most kind, and I daresay my household will suppose that I have stay’d over.

So I go to my fine reserv’d chamber, and there come to me my darlings, very anxious lest their dearest C- be cold and concern’d to make sure that she is quite warm.

And in the morning I go look out upon the gardens and see that it no longer snows, and that the family along with Miss N- has gone frolick in the snow with Julius and Hannah, and I see Milord and Sandy come out onto the terrace of the west wing, and there is some exchange of snowballs.

I am still looking out upon this pretty scene, ‘twixt happyness and a little tearfullness, when comes dear Seraphine with some breakfast upon a tray – sure, says I, you should not be carrying that – that she puts down and then comes look out with me.

O, she says, little did we think, when we were in Surrey - and smiles at me.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

I am about my correspondence one forenoon when Hector shows in Mrs N-. I wave her to go sit by the fire.

Celeste comes with coffee and some very fresh warm muffins and some of Euphemia’s preserves.

Mrs N- goes partake very generous of these (I daresay she goes build up her forces for some fine adulterous f---ing with Mr J-) and says sure, did Euphemia ever desire to sell a pot or so of her making she would be very gratefull to buy. For Mr N- will ever complain of the poor quality of the jams that are supply’d to us by the grocers.

Why, says I, I will see does she have some in the store cupboard you could have.

I go ring for Celeste and desire her to convey this request to Euphemia.

Well, says Mrs N-, licking her fingers, you may tell me that you do not go marry Lord A-, and I am entire like to believe you, but the betting around the clubs says somewhat different.

Tush, says I. Tho’, I go on, I daresay one that knew the truth could go make a tidy profit in the matter.

She quite snorts with laughter, and goes on, There are also bets being laid that the Marquess of O- will not wed the Earl of N-'s daughter, for has been seen riding in the Park at an unfashionable hour of the morning with some lady, tho’ who she is is not known.

(I suppress my laughter at this notion that the Marquess goes jilt Lady Anna in favour of his fair Hippolyta: tho’ indeed I did not know that they were of this habit.)

Why, says, one hears that Lady Anna shows very reluctant towards the match herself, 'tis entire like to incline a fellow to one that welcom’d his suit rather than went disdain it.

Indeed, says Miss N-. Is there any whisper that there is some other preferr’d to her heart?

If there is, says I, she keeps it most exceeding close.

Mrs N- sighs. She then says, she confides that Mr O’N-'s suit to Mrs O’C- has quite fail’d.

'Tis my impression, says I. Perchance had he been occasional seen at Mass 'twould have tilt’d the balance in his favour.

She then goes discourse of various other on-dits that fly about.

Comes Euphemia with two fine jars of preserves to give to her. (Sure I hope that they go to Mr N- as intend’d and that Mrs N- does not go present them to Mr J- instead.)

Mrs N- expresses most effusive gratitude, and then sighs and says, 'tis most exceeding snug in here and a horrid day outside, but she should be about her business. Hears that Miss A- is return’d and takes up her old parts?

Indeed, says I, one supposes she has been quite welcom’d back.

One may well suppose, says Mrs D-, for tho’ Miss R- is an excellent fine actress, as she is at present circumstanc’d 'twould be a little ludicrous did she essay any breeches part.

We both laugh a little: tho’ sure there are actresses have done so until one might quite have fear’d they would go into labour afore the end of the play.

After she departs I return to my correspondence.

Some while later I dress suitable for a visit to P- House, viz: somewhat quiet and sober, and go call upon Lady D-.

She is sitting alone in her fine parlour and looking troubl’d over some pamphlets and letters she holds on her lap. The pug snores beside the fire.

O, Lady B-! she cries, rising and placing these impedimenta upon a low table, o, 'tis very good of you to come visit me.

She then goes weep upon my shoulder.

I daresay a deal of this emotion is due to her condition, but indeed there are certain ladies in the philanthropick set can be most exceeding tiresome and fretting to the nerves. I pat her a little, and say that I daresay tea would be soothing.

Oh, indeed, she says, sure I am a poor hostess, and goes ring.

By the time the tea comes she has compos’d herself a little but still looks somewhat woebegone.

I make general enquiries concerning her health and her state of mind: o, she says, 'twas most entire beneficial to talk to Mrs F-, quite sees why she is so prais’d among the ladies of our circle for her wisdom upon womanly matters. For altho’ she knows that Mr H- is a most practis’d man-midwife of the finest reputation, yet there are matters that somehow one cannot open to a man.

Why, says I, indeed he has quite the finest reputation in such matters, but sure his manner can sometimes be somewhat brusque: tho’ it conceals quite the kindest heart.

She bites her lip a little and says, but I did not wish to speak to you, Lady B-, about these obstetrick matters, but 'tis about philanthropick matters over which I quite find myself in the frets and knows not what to do.

I go ascertain whether this is some matter of practickality, as when one will be desir’d to make up the accounts, or to prepare a pamphlet to be print’d, and has no notion of how best to go about it.

No, she says, none has askt her to undertake such responsible matter yet, but o, there seems a deal of gossip and backbiting, and one set of ladies will warn her against another set, and vice versa, and they will cry down various causes, and she knows not what to think.

She offers to become tearfull again. I pour her some more tea, and sugar it well.

Why, says I, indeed there is a deal of brangling goes on amongst philanthropick ladies, I know not why should be, when they are about doing such fine charitable work, and when one hears that prize-fighters will be most exceeding civil to one another so be they are not in the ring. But as you are as it were a new recruit to these circles all go endeavour to attach you to their own party, for 'tis deem’d most particular desirable to be able to boast ladies of rank among one’s supporters.

O, she cries, is that why? and offers once more to become tearfull. Sure I should like to suppose 'twas because I could help in such good works.

Does you entire credit, says I, but 'tis an acknowledg’d fact that a deal of ladies will take up philanthropick interests in the hopes of social advancement (or, I do not say, to provide them with a deal of respectability do they have a somewhat scandalous past).

Do you, says I, have a good serious interest in working for good causes, I should advize you to go consult with Mrs P- and Miss W-, who do a deal of most excellent work.

Indeed, says Lady D-, I have lookt over the reports of the works they are engag’d upon and sure they are most prepossessing, but are those ladies not Unitarians?

Indeed they are, says I. But there are many ladies of other views that work with them. (I confide that, since I have listen’d most attentive, or seeming so, to Lord D-'s perorations upon the theologickal unsoundness of this or that one, he can have no apprehension of what a pagan creature is Lady B-.)

Also, says I, now Lady J- is return’d to Town, and I am entire sure she would be entire helpfull did you go to her and ask where you might be of use.

Lady D- looks a little nervous, and I daresay has heard tales of Lady J- and how very intimidating she can be.

Why, says I, sometimes her manner can be a little imperious, but sure she has quite the kindest heart.

Lady D- looks as if she is not sure about the truth of this assertion, tho’ indeed 'tis entire true, and she is quite entire the kind of lady with excellent intentions that Lady J- favours.

Why, says I, Lady J- tells me that she goes hold her fam’d private musicales once more, now she is return’d to Town in full health. I will prevail upon her to send you and your sister cards and you may encounter her there, where I may make any necessary introductions.

O, Lady B-, indeed you are so very good to us –

O. fiddlesticks, says I.

- and sure I should not trouble you further, but I have a little concern about my sister.

I raise my eyebrows and put on my listening face.

Agnes is a dear good girl that has ever been a protective elder sister to me, and indeed, Lord D- greatly esteems her fine qualities –

(Sure that argues exceeding well for his native powers of judgement.)

- but indeed, we now move in circles that we never dreamt of in Buxton. And sure there are most excellent people in 'em, but sure there are others that I fear are detrimental fellows that hear that she is an heiress that will bring a very pretty fortune to any match she makes.

But, says I, I confide that your sister is a young woman of most excellent sense that knows better than to listen to false flatterers.

O, indeed, but I am in some concern that there may be those that will take measures -

(O, thinks I, here we see quite the adverse effects of novel-reading: I daresay she goes suppose abductions and brib’d clergymen &C.)

- in particular, she goes on, there is that Irish fellow Mr O’N-, that at first was we suppose was mind’d to go sell horses to her, and now quite makes up to her. And also, she adds with a little sob, is of the Romish faith.

Sure, says I, he is a sad son of that Church, is never seen at Mass, &C. But I confide that Romish priests are most exceeding reluctant to conduct the wedding ceremony when one of the parties is of another communion. And indeed, dear Lady D-, this is England: I confide, I go on, that you will have read that salutary work Northanger Abbey? sure I think that author is a better guide than Mrs Radcliffe to how matters go in the world.

She nods and dabs at her eyes with a fine handkerchief.

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I find myself one morning in the happy position of having brought my Inca curse tale to a most telling conclusion. I put down my pen, and stretch myself, and am mind’d to go be dutyfull about philanthropick correspondence, when comes Hector to say Miss S- comes calling.

O, show her in, says I, stowing away my manuscript, and desire Euphemia to send up coffee.

Comes in Miss S- looking a little shy, so I go over, kiss her, and desire her to come sit by the fire, for I see that she has been riding and 'tis a grey cold day.

Thank you, she says. There was a little trouble at P- House when Lord D- discover’d the betting ring in the stables, but the grooms confide that the to-do has now blown over and they may resume, perchance somewhat more covert, and therefore Nicholls goes conclave as he was wont with Ajax.

Enters Celeste with coffee and some very excellent fruit-cake. I desire Agnes S- to help herself, and seat myself vis-à-vis and take some coffee.

She looks up, with a little colour restor’d to her cheeks, and says, she brings with her a few poems she has writ of late that I said I might be able to go about to place. I therefore open to her the matter of Mr L-'s most excellent newspaper, that goes build quite a reputation, and tho’ 'twill not pay as highly as some of the metropolitan press, is making its mark.

And, I say, does it continue to do so well and increase its sales and its advertizing revenue, Mr L- will be able to offer marriage to Miss N-, that is the F-s’ governess, with whom he has an understanding.

She sighs and says sure 'tis an entirely meritorious cause, to help those that make their way in the world. She hands me over her copies of the poems: I look thro’ them and indeed they are very fine, she goes improve. I say sure Mr L- should be honour’d to print these. She blushes.

She then looks thoughtfull and says indeed she minds how very fortunate she is. Especial, she adds, now matters go on so much better at P- House and Dora is so much happyer – tho’, dear Lady B-, did you have a spare hour or so to talk to her about philanthropick matters I confide ‘twould entire ease her mind.

Sure, says I, I have that in mind and will find some occasion to be about it. Tho’ I am like to suppose that matters in the philanthropick set will gang aft agly a good deal less now that Lady J- is return’d to Town in excellent health and goes put her hand to the wheel again.

Miss S- giggles and puts her hand to her mouth.

She takes another sip of coffee and says, is not the Reverend Mr L- a very excellent fellow?

Indeed, says I, a fine fellow.

Tho, she goes on, Lord D- will say that he is theologickally unsound and he dares say his practices drive a deal of his parishioners into the arms of Methodism, he seems to me a good man with a great care for his flock as well as his fine love for learning.

Sure, says I, he is a somewhat plain fellow but his character is exceeding prepossessing, and he is a most notable scholar - sure I know nothing of scholarship but Mr MacD- quite sings his praises. Only regrets that he does not turn his talents to Greek rather than Hebrew.

I have encounter’d him of late, she goes on, at several of the subscription concerts, and in the course of conversation I became aware that he has a good living in Surrey, that permits him in conscience to spend a little on the pleasures of musick and books and learning for the refreshment of his spirit, and that sure he feels entire translat’d from his previous condition of poor curate. He confides that 'tis entire owing to Lady B- that he may enjoy this state.

Oh poo, says I, his predecessor was a miserly wretch that is now in a madhouse, a circumstance that most fortunate protects him from prosecution for various crimes, and he had been showing well in the parish.

E’en so, says Miss S-, one knows these things go by interest. But altho’ he is so much better situat’d now, is entire comfortable, one cannot but think that 'twould be a fine thing could he employ a curate himself and devote himself more to study.

Indeed, says I, but I know not how one might contrive that, sure I know little about preference within the Church. Sure I will go consider over it and ask those that are better-inform’d.

Miss S- remarks that the Earl’s daughters show quite ecstatick at present, say Lady B- workt some miracle.

O, poo, says I, 'tis a most extreme exaggeration.

She sighs and says she dares say she should go back to P- House: Dora is of late inclin’d to get into the frets does she stay out too long – sure she has Nicholls with her – or Copping does she go shopping or to concerts – what could come to her?

Why, says I, perchance she fears they may be suborn’d by one that has abduction of an heiress in mind.

She laughs and says, sure, Lady B-, you should write novels.

I daresay, says I, that 'tis her condition makes Lady D- nervous.

O, 'tis possible, tho’ speaking to Mrs F- very greatly sooth’d her mind.

She stands up. We make affectionate farewells and she departs. What an excellent young woman she is; 'tis a great pity that so many will go judge her on her looks. Tho’ indeed she is greatly improv’d she is still like to be deem’d plain.

I sigh. And then I go back to my correspondence.

I take a somewhat bracing ride upon Jezebel, tho’ I think Docket would desire that I lye down for a few hours with a cool cloth upon my eyes. But, fiddlesticks, says I, 'tis a party at Lady T-‘s for her fine volume on lace, 'tis only necessary that I look proper.

Indeed she arrays me so that I look quite entire proper, with my exquisite pearls that were a gift from the dear Admiral.

When I arrive at T- House I am greet’d very warm indeed by Lord and Lady T-, and with somewhat of reserve by Lord K- (sure I wonder has his mother been crying me up to him as suit’d to be his second wife).

I go look at the book, that has been produc’d in most exceeding elegant style, beautifully engrav’d plates, bound in fine leather with goldleaf. I go praise it exceedingly to Lady T-, that then goes present me with a copy, which is exceeding gracious of her.

I say to her that I confide she will donate a copy to the British Museum, that is the fine storehouse of knowledge for the nation. She looks somewhat startl’d at this, but I tell her that indeed, they keep a most exceeding fine library and all books that are publisht are sent there, and also to libraries in Oxford and Cambridge.

She says she cannot suppose that gentlemen of learning would desire to read about lace, and I say, sure, 'tis quite remarkable the matters that gentlemen of learning desire to read about.

She begins look somewhat flatter’d at the thought, and then goes greet other guests.

Lord T- in due course comes over and remarks what an excellent fine job the printers have done. He also remarks that he was late at R- House, convoking with His Lordship and Mr F-: sure Mr F- has very fine practickal notions about improvements: drainage, paving, model cottages &C. He took the opportunity while he was there of making a call upon the wombatt, that remarkable creature.

His son is standing around looking mopish, and Lord T- takes him by the arm and says, has he ever seen a wombatt? Most curious creature from the antipodes, somewhat like unto a small bear. Has a pouch into which it puts its infant offspring. I was just saying to Lady B- that I saw the one at R- House, that is entire the pet of young Master F-, and does not Sir Z- R- keep one in his Kensington garden?

He does indeed, says I, 'tis entire the practice of visitors to his studio to go pay it their respects.

Lord K- looks as if he has no interest at all in wombatts.

His father moves away to talk to some others in the company. I hope this is not a contrivance to leave me together with Lord K- so that we may improve our acquaintance.

He looks at me with his dolefull face (but I confide 'tis his habitual expression) and says he hears I have some acquaintance with that unfortunate creature Mrs D- K-, that late he encounter’d at Tunbridge Wells?

I concede that ‘tis so.

Sure the late Mr D- K- was a shocking wastrel scoundrel, says Lord K-, and one cannot suppose him any great loss, but I apprehend she has been left in want and is oblig’d to go as a companion to that dreadfull – to the Dowager Lady W-.

Why, says I, her friends are about disentangling the late Mr D- K-'s affairs: sure there were a deal of debts – Lord K- lets out a little affirmative groan as of one that entire suppos’d 'twould be the case – but once those are settl’d, there should be a little income for her.

He sighs and says, 'tis shocking to see such a fine woman – sure one thinks of those lines of the poet concerning A perfect Woman, nobly planned, To warn, to comfort, and command -

(Sure I am given to think of certain special pleasures.)

- eat the bread of servitude.

I smile and say 'tis sure not entire agreeable, but I confide she could be in worse circumstance.

(O dear, thinks I, does he take a notion to her? A woman his mother most cordially detests and considers in quite the worst of ton.)

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Sure I have a deal of matters upon hand, but one forenoon I desire Docket to dress me like unto some Evangelickal lady that goes distribute tracts so that I may call upon Dolly Mutton.

As ever, I make Ajax put me down several streets away from her coffee-house, and walk thro’ the dirty slippery streets. Inside the coffee-house are several women drinking coffee or breakfasting, and taking advantage of the fine stove Dolly Mutton has burning there. I go in, and they look and then look away, doubtless fearfull of catching my eye lest I go endeavour a conversion.

Dolly Mutton observes me, comes over and desires me to step into her parlour, where she offers me coffee, which is indeed gratefull on such a cold day. I hand her the extremely pleasing sum that Lord N- gave me for my philanthropick causes and say, 'tis from a generous patron that desires remain incognito.

She is most exceeding delight’d, and offers that I might like to see how very well the works upon the next door house come along.

That would be charming, says I, for I apprehend that she desires us to converse somewhere even further from those that may go overhear.

There is a communicating door so that we do not have to go outside, but 'tis still somewhat chill away from the cozy fire.

Once she is in some confidence that we may not be eavesdroppt upon, she says, Molly Binns has come visit her in somewhat of a taking. Mr Perkins has been acting quite the inquisitor, wanting to know did she have any acquaintance with that meddling w---e Madame C- C-. But, Molly comes cry to me, how should she have any acquaintance of a crack courtesan of the demimonde such as that, that went marry into the aristocracy? Has never been aught but a Covent Garden Miss, how should she be on speaking terms with such a one? Sure he can have no idea that there are ranks among w----s, just as there are in society at large.

Why, says I, should Mr Perkins come here making inquisition, I confide that you will not give him the answer he desires.

But, says Dolly, I apprehend that you have had somewhat to do with the fellow.

Sure, says I, but never after the fashion of business, 'tis only latterly that I have made his acquaintance and that of his family.

I daresay he is not call’d Perkins, either, but best that I do not know.

Indeed so, says I.

She looks at me in some concern and says, she hopes I will be carefull.

Why, says I, he is a bigger fool than I consider him to be does he not suppose I am a prudent creature that has left messages for certain friends should anything happen to me. (For indeed I have done so. Hector has instructions.)

She laughs a little uneasy.

We go back to her cozy parlour to warm ourselves before I must go. She praises the exceeding fine helpfullness of the F-s, what very excellent people they are, and she knows this is no place for the little lad, but she should greatly like to see him and how he does.

Sure, says I, I confide that Josh would quite jump up and down at the thought of coming visit (and go think about how this might be contriv’d). And most greatly loves Mittens.

I go on to tell her some tales of how Dandy and Pounce get on and make themselves great favourites within the household, tho’ yet there has been no catching of mice.

Why, she says, I confide they will grow into it, for Pussy was wont to be a fine hunter and the scourge of mousekind in her younger days. Pussy stirs upon her knee and yawns, as one that disdains such activity, for she considers that no mouse would dare come about her.

I sigh and say, sure 'tis very pleasant to be here, but I must be about my business.

Dolly cautions me to be exceeding carefull, for Molly Binns said that Mr Perkins was quite unlike himself.

Poo, says I, I am ever carefull.

Dolly laughs and says, is a man that put about concerning somewhat you have contriv’d, I do not think that carefull is any christen-name of yours.

I laugh and say that perchance she is right.

I am most exceeding glad to get back to my carriage after walking through the dirty streets with a little sleety rain falling, and the coals in the metal box are still warm to my chill’d feet.

In the afternoon I write a little upon my tale of the Inca curse, until Hector comes to say, Lady J- comes call, am I at home?

O, says I, jumping up and concealing the papers within my desk, desire her to come in at once and go ask Euphemia for the best tea in the good service.

Hector remarks that he confides that Euphemia entire knows what is proper.

Comes in Lady J- and I go greet her. Somewhat to my astonishment she kisses me upon the cheek and says, dear Lady B-.

I am pleas’d, says I, conducting her to the most comfortable chair beside the fire, to see you looking so very well.

O, quite exceedingly! she says. Sure I hope this has given me some greater understanding of those that are in poor health and of the need there sometimes is for entire rest. I fear, she says sadly, I was sometimes a little unfeeling towards my dearest Miss B- in times past – would go urge her to make an effort, would she only try, &C.

Comes in Celeste with the tea in the finest service, and some cinnamon toast.

And you found Harrogate to answer?

Most extreme, says she, tho’ I daresay 'twould have been a different case had dearest Miss A- not been there. Oh, she says with a fond smile, what an excellent creature she is. Ever thoughtfull, contriv’d to keep my spirits up was I like to fall into the dumps. And, she goes on, 'twas quite the prettyest thing to see her with the Admiral and both of them quite conspiring together for my benefit. Also I am most gratefull to Mrs F- for her recommendation of Dr J-, a good sensible fellow with very sound prescriptions, did not just go order me take the waters but explain’d very thoro’ their virtues and how they would answer in my particular case, why he diet’d me as he did, the importance of giving the healing powers of nature time to work.

She will be delight’d to hear that, says I, he quite entirely pull’d her around when she was so very poorly after Quintus’ birth. And indeed, he is one of the few physicians that Mr H- may be heard to praise.

Lady J- laughs a little and asks how matters go among our set. How very pleasing 'tis to see what a fine example Viola sets to these young ladies that enter Society and how well she is thought of. Indeed, she says, I am ever most exceeding gratefull to you that you brought me to see her merits and that did I show kindness rather than resentment they would entire blossom. Sure I grew most exceeding fond of the late Duchess, and of course Beaufoyle quite entire doat’d upon her, but I am like to think that Viola perchance shows more aptitude for the duties and responsibilities of her rank.

That is most exceeding pleasing to hear, says I, I am very fond of Her Grace.

And what a very fine creature is her sister, goes on Lady J-. I will confide that I perchance had a little prejudice at first towards her for her marrying against her family’s wishes and to one of the Jewish race, but really, they are the most excellent couple. She quite scold’d me for trying to over-do about dairying &C, and open’d to me how much she was pull’d down after the birth of that adorable infant Deborah and how much had been a matter of time and nature’s healing powers and the very admirable help and counsel Mrs de C- gave her.

Also her brother is a most promising young man, she adds. But there were certain matters I wisht to convoke with you about. I propose to go hold my musicales once more – I hope Miss Margaret F- will oblige upon the pianoforte –

I say that I confide she will be entire delight’d, quite jump up and down -

- and I apprehend that Mrs O- B- and her daughters’ singing begins to be much prais’d. I heard her at the M- House ball, and indeed 'tis a fine voice, well-train’d. Do you think they might be persuad’d to perform? I have spoke of 'em to Beaufoyle and apprehend that they are quite entire in your set and do not show in the least encroaching.

They are consider’d, says I, in such good ton that 'tis rumour’d that Lord A- goes make suit to the eldest Miss B-, Charlotte.

Oh? I had heard – but no, I thought, Lady B- would not incline to that fribble. I will indeed solicit 'em. And of course, my dear, would you concede to read some Shakspeare, 'twould be most appreciat’d.

Why, says I, I am ever delight’d to demonstrate the beauties of the Bard.

So, says Lady J- - sure this is most excellent cinnamon toast, they do not seem to have the same knack of it in the M- House kitchens – now we have dealt with these pleasant and agreeable matters, I daresay we should convoke of how matters go among the philanthropick set.

I let out a little groan and say, indeed 'tis a less pleasant matter and I hope that learning of the latest brangles of the orphanage ladies does not go set her back.

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As I go about my correspondence the next morn I ponder a little as to whether Lord N- will go show vengefull; and if so, what might he do? Sure, thinks I, there is little enough scandal he might put about, for he is, I confide, not a fellow that keeps abreast of the latest on dits, and 'tis old stale news that the Dowager Marchioness of B- was once a renown’d demimondaine. I make no secret of the matter, and I daresay there are those consider that I quite flaunt my wages of sin, viz: my fine Hindoo rubies, the Admiral’s exquisite pearls, my diamonds, &C.

He might, I suppose, bar me the door of N- House: but he must consider that that would look somewhat particular, and might tempt me to disclose his own secret.

But I will be wary, and alert, to see whether he goes move against me.

I return to my correspondence after staring at the wall while I contemplate this matter, and shortly after comes Sandy, follow’d by Celeste with coffee and scones.

How now, says I, once she has gone, what is this matter of going about telling your acquaintance that Lady B- is a Daniel come to judgement, that but for the little matter of her sex, could quite be call’d to the bar.

O, says he, I confide that you have been about promoting felicity at N- House, for indeed, Lord Geoffrey has of late sometimes swerv’d from discussing deep matters of philosophy to opening to me somewhat of the state of affairs in his family. And as he could not fail to mention that Lady B- was the bosom-confidante and champion of his mother and sisters, I may have expresst that their affairs were in quite the best of hands.

Hmmph, snorts I. I am not convinc’d that giving me such a reputation will serve our interests.

Dearest C-, does Lord Geoffrey go spread this intelligence about, all will have seen him gaping upon you, and will tap their noses and consider that he is a very young man and that you are the exquisite Lady B- and that his head is quite turn’d.

Why, says I considering, sure it may be so. But indeed, I think Lord U- begins to have some similar impression of me.

Now, says Sandy, there is a young man that we should greatly like to incline to our interest. Sebastian K- gives him a most excellent character.

Indeed, says I, he seems a good sensible responsible fellow that shows an extreme pleasing devotion to his mother – tho’ indeed 'tis quite markt that she is the entire favourite with all her children, but perchance ‘tis no wonder does one consider that the Earl is more interest’d in flowers than his offspring. Tho’ sure 'tis not uncommon among gentlemen of that rank to pay little attention to their children until, perchance, they are of age.

Sandy sighs and says that such neglect is distressing, but there are worse forms of fatherly behaviour.

(Indeed Milord’s father was quite a monster.)

He then says, with a note of somewhat like jealousy in his tone, he apprehends that I lately trust’d Matt Johnson with a commission?

Indeed, says I, and all fell out very happyly. But concern’d secrets that are not my own to disclose, so, dear bello scozzese, I beg that you will not go poke about in hopes of discovery.

He looks at me with the dour Calvinistickal glare and then says, smiling, that sure curiosity is his besetting sin -

Or one of 'em! says I.

- he glares again – but he can see that 'twould be entire idle curiosity to desire to know more.

But, says I, I have a matter to put to you. I open to him Agnes S-'s interest in perchance publishing her poems in the periodical press.

Why, says Sandy, I confide that there would be a deal of interest in the matter. But, he goes on, I was late talking to Mr L- while he was waiting for Miss N- at R- House, and he wonders about introducing a literary element into his paper. Of course he already publishes critickal notices and reviews, but he wonders about tales and poetry.

Why, says I, I daresay he would not pay as much as I might anticipate for a new tale from my hand, but 'tis such an excellent enterprize, that I might contemplate letting him have my tale concerning the carnivorous plant. And altho’ Miss S- devotes her profits to a good cause, she is in the happy position of not being oblig’d to earn with her pen and might, did I suggest it, let him have a few of A. M.’s verses.

'Tis generous, says Sandy.

Well, says I, does the paper continue to do so well and even improve, perchance Mr L- will be in a position to marry Miss N-.

Sandy laughs somewhat immoderate and refers to me as a matrimonial agency.

O, poo, says I, they have had an understanding this age, 'tis only that he desires to feel that he may offer her a secure living before they wed.

I hope, says Sandy, that she has not been beguil’d by the luxuries of R- House to have exaggerat’d notions of what constitutes a proper matrimonial establishment.

She is a good sensible creature, says I, and I confide that provid’d does not mean actual want, will be entire happy with what Mr L- offers her. Which I am like to think will be a pretty little house near the printing works in one of the more agreeable little towns just beyond Town. Which minds me, I go on, that he will not be offering her a log cabin in the wilderness that is only in prospect, and that Reynaldo has read Herr P-'s works and greatly desires to convoke with him upon ideal communities.

Sandy laughs somewhat immoderate, and then grows more sober and says, sure Reynaldo would be better off in the Americas than returning to Naples.

'Tis quite the general opinion, says I, the Contessa is entire of similar mind, and I daresay did I canvass Marcello he would think it a most excellent notion, for the further away the better. She is in some concern, however, about how he would do in a wilderness inhabit’d by savage Indians.

Why, says Sandy, I am not sure that even did he reach those shores he would proceed into the untravell’d regions. Did not Herr P- have a deal of adherents in, I think it was, Boston? I am sure did Reynaldo go among 'em 'tis very likely he would receive a deal of attention not merely for his connexion with Herr P- but as one that was forc’d into exile because of his resistance to the Bourbon tyranny in his native land.

O, indeed, says I, and one can quite suppose that there will be young ladies in those parts that find him quite romantickally heroick.

We look at one another and quite giggle.

Why, says Sandy, I can quite imagine him lecturing upon the matter to ardent crowds, and idealistick young Yankees sailing for Naples.

Sure, my dear, you could entire write a novel!

But, he says with a frown, does he not have tyes here in Town?

I apprehend that you mean Lady Z-. She has had a most agreeable liaison with him, but I am not sure she would be entire wearing the willow did he depart these shores. For she was in no inclination at all to fly with him; even did that not import a log cabin in the wild forests.

And as for Herr P-, I go on, I think he would be a deal more content’d to despatch as 'twere an emissary of his notions to those parts, while remaining himself most exceeding comfortable lodging with Frau H-, that is a most not’d housekeeper and cook, and the fair Fraulein H-, that I fear doats upon him, the wretch.

Sandy grins and says, he thinks I quite entire justly present the situation; and, so be Lady Z-'s heart is not broken, we might go about to encourage such a prospect.

We look at one another with great amiability (indeed I am glad that I have distract’d him from pursuing the matter in which I requir’d Matt Johnson’s aid).

Do you, says he, have a fair copy of your tale concerning flesh-eating flowers, I can offer it to Mr L- some day when he comes courting Miss N-.

So be, says I, that you preserve my incognito, handing him over the pages.

Silence to the death! he declares.

Sure, says I, did it come to that, I confide I would permit you to breach the silence.

We look at one another and laugh.

After he has gone I make a note in my little memorandum book to open the matter of Mr L-'s very fine newspaper with Agnes S- when next I see her. And then I return to the matter of my correspondence: 'tis either philanthropick matters, or a deal of invitations hither and yon. Sure 'tis very agreeable to be so much in demand, but indeed I cannot say yes to all.

Later in the day I take my sweet Jezebel for a little promenade in the Park. While we are there – sure there are a deal of fellows come up and endeavour to attract my attention – I observe a pretty little invalid carriage drawn by a pony, led by a groom, with Lord U- riding alongside.

O, I cry, riding over, Lady N-! how charming!

She looks up at me with a pretty colour in her cheeks and says, 'tis quite the finest thing – may be pusht about indoors, can be drawn along by a pony, and so exceeding comfortable. And, o, is this Lady B-'s fine mare that I have heard so much about?

And, she says, the girls are in a state of complete elation, for they go to Almack’s this e’en in their new finery.

I daresay, says Lord U-, 'twill be quite immense tedious, but one apprehends that 'tis important to young ladies that are in Society.

So I apprehend, says I (for I decid’d quite some while since that 'twould be entire foolish for me to endeavour to obtain the entrée: for was it refus’d, I have no doubt 'twould get about and become an on-dit).

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I wake up next morn with a feeling of most extreme gratifycation at the success of my soirée: all went most exceeding well, no quarrels, no stalkings out, a deal of excellent musick and agreeable conversation, a very fine supper displaying Euphemia’s skills.

Sophy, looking somewhat anxious, comes with my chocolate, and says, there is a message deliver’d from N- House, the fellow waits upon an answer and looks exceeding troubl’d.

O, thinks I, I hope 'tis not that dear Lady N- takes a turn for the worse.

I desire Docket to array me in my peignoir so I may go to breakfast.

As Celeste goes set the dishes before me, I open the note: 'tis from Lord U-, that says his father has found out about the purchases charg’d to his credit, and 'tis all entire wigs on the green at N- House. Poor Mama is badly overset for he went ranting at her yestere’en, tho’ she knew nothing of the matter. However, he has heard such report of Lady B-'s ability to pour oil on troubl’d waters, that he dares write to see does she have any remedy for this state of affairs.

I drink my coffee and come to the conclusion that 'tis high time to put into play my knowledge of the Earl’s Covent Garden excursions. But I will go call at some suitable hour and not rush off pell-mell.

I go to my pretty desk and indite a little note for Lord U- to say that I shall come call upon Lady N- this afternoon, and hope that I may have opportunity to have a word with Lord N- while I am in the house – perchance it may be give out as to do with one of my philanthropick enterprizes (which indeed 'tis, for charity begins at home: a maxim that the Earl needs reminding of).

I spend the forenoon about my novel of wreckers and sea-monsters, 'tis most extreme calming to my spirits. Sure I do not wish to have to deal with the brangles of the orphanage ladies the morn.

In the afternoon I desire Docket to array me somewhat plain but suitable for an afternoon call. I am in some mind to say, and no jewellery, but then say, I will wear the jets.

I take the carriage to N- House, and am inform’d by the footman at the door that Lady N- is at home to you, Lady B-. I am escort’d to her chamber, where I discover her surround’d by her offspring, all in a state of high indignation. I think this may be a little distressing to her, on top of the Earl’s report’d ranting, for there is a somewhat hectick colour in her cheeks.

I go greet her and she clasps my hands. O, dear Lady B-, what is this to-do?

Why, says I, 'tis, I confide, about prevailing upon your husband to undertake certain matters for the benefit of his family. Sure there are some fellows that would see the entire rightness, of the matter once it had been plac’d under their nose, without it having to be put to them very forcefull.

Lord U- says, but he will not listen to us.

Why, says I, I daresay that fathers take a dislike to being lesson’d by their sons, whatever the justice of the position. But sure do I play Portia and go plead –

They all look at me very hopefull. MacD- says, says Lord Geoffrey, that Lady B-'s powers of persuasion are quite out of the common and sure 'tis a great pity that ladies are not permitt’d to be lawyers and plead in court.

(I will have words with that sneaking Scottish weasel about that.)

Fie, says I, I would not rate my abilities so high, but, like Portia, I will be the instrument thro’ which justice and mercy speak.

Oh, says Lady N-, somewhat tearfull, if you can do something to restore harmony -

Agnes S- says, says Lady Anna, that Lord D-'s household is quite transform’d since Lady B- spoke to him.

Why, says I, my dears, 'tis ever agreeable to be spoke well of, but I hope you do not expect miracles (but, by their expressions, they do). But sure, I think I have arguments that may be material to the occasion –

Lord U- of a sudden looks extreme thoughtfull: I confide that he goes wonder were there passages 'twixt Lord N- and myself in former times.

But perchance someone could conduct me to him?

The footman is rung for and escorts me upstairs to where the Earl is about business.

Lord N- looks up as I enter and motions me with a gesture towards a chair that I confide is most exceeding uncomfortable, and 'tis hop’d by this means to curtail the interview. Sure he does not know that he is oblig’d to deal with one that watcht a deal of cricket while maintaining the greatest civility.

I sit down and smile agreeable at him.

He says in grumping tones that he supposes that I come about one of my charitable causes, but 'tis not a good time to approach him on such a matter, he finds that there has been some havey-cavey business within the household and his financial affairs are quite entire at sixes and sevens.

O, says I, 'tis not one of my causes that I come about, 'tis to remind you that charity begins at home.

Have those wretch’d children prevail’d upon you to come plead their cause?

No, says I, what prevails upon me to plead their cause is justice, mercy, and a sense of the decent ton that a fellow in your position should manifest towards his wife and daughters.

He glares at me quite as if I were a slug that went gnaw at some particular priz’d plant of his.

'Tis quite entire no business of yours, says he.

I tilt my head a little, and say, sure 'tis oft stat’d that women do not have the same fine friendships as men and will not rise up in defence of other members of their sex. Like many common suppositions, runs somewhat contrary to fact.

I clasp my hands in my lap. Sure, says I, 'twill not look well for you do you refuse to pay for these matters that are in question. 'Tis no matter of cannot - that is a fine profitable coal-mine of yours – 'tis a matter of will not.

Really, Lady B-, says he, 'tis I who will say what I do with my money.

Oh, indeed, says I, Mr Perkins.

He starts. Why do you call me that?

Why, says I, is’t not what Molly Binns calls you?

Has that trollop - ?

Indeed she has disclos’d nothing, still supposes that the gentleman that pays her bills and maintains her establishment is one Mr Perkins, a fellow of the middling sort in a good way of business.

And who should care do I keep a w---e in Covent Garden? 'tis well-known my wife is an invalid.

(I am like to suppose that is a fellow so extreme carefull of his anonymity, he is in some concern that the matter is not known upon him.)

O, says I, I think there are low fellows that delight in scandal would be most interest’d: a wealthy Earl, quite the patron of botany, goes cultivate a fallen blossom in Covent Garden. Sure 'twould make a fine Holywell Street print, and be a cause of jest around the clubs.

And sure, I go on, given such circumstance, there are those who would consider that proper ton would require rather more generous treatment of the ladies of your family. Also, I go on, I think the opinion of the profession would be that your wife’s condition owes a deal to bearing some several children exceeding close together. (Mr H- will ever wax indignant over such cases.)

I sit back and fold my hands in my lap and let him go consider this for a while.

Eventually he says, and how much do you want to keep this secret?

La, says I, I am a well-left widow’d marchioness and need not practice extortion to maintain my position. Tho’ I should not refuse some donation towards my charities. But my conditions for discretion are that you go about to render your Countess’s life more comfortable and agreeable – an invalid carriage, a properly sprung coach, good fires in her chambers when 'tis chilly, and such-like matters – and dress your daughters as suits their rank in this year of grace.

Is that all?

Well, says I, I think something more generous in the way of pocket-money for the girls would be entire proper.

We look at one another. Sure this chair is really most unsuit’d to the human form, but I will continue to comport myself as an Englishwoman.

He looks away.

At length he says, Very well, and since there has been a deal of brangling within the family over the matter, perchance 'tis better that I do as you suggest. I will go see my wife at once, and I daresay they all hang about her.

He then unlocks a cash-box that lyes upon his desk and says, here, take this for your charities.

Why, that is exceeding generous, Your Lordship. (Sure I will pass this on to Dolly Mutton.)

We go downstairs - perchance I should leave now, but I desire to see how the matter plays out.

We go into Lady N-'s chamber, where her children sit around her in a defensive phalanx.

He goes over and takes her hand. My dear, Lady B- has brought me to see that your condition requires certain concessions, and that 'twould indeed be a boon for you to have a fine invalid carriage.

He looks at his daughters and says, and Lady B-'s knowledge of Society and fashion has reveal’d to me that sister Laetitia’s notions were somewhat antiquat’d and that 'tis indeed quite in order that you should be dresst in more modern style.

They squeal and clap their hands.

He turns to Lord U- and says, I thought your representations came from foolish youthfull notions, but Lady B- has shown me the justice in 'em.

They shake hands very formal.

Well, says I, 'tis most agreeable to see such family harmony, and I will be about my business.

Lord U- comes escort me to the door. I am most infinite gratefull, he says, however you achiev’d that end.

O, says I, sure 'tis not as you think! No, 'twas entire that I could bring your Papa to see the correct ton of the situation.

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I am indeed in some concern how things go at N- House and whether has already come to Lord N-'s attention that his credit has been pledg’d will-he nil-he for certain matters. I am in some hopes that he will consider that 'twould reflect very poorly upon him did he refuse pay for an invalid chair for his Countess or to dress his daughters suitable for the Season.

I am about my correspondence one morn, when Hector shows in Miss A-, that looks exceeding well for her jaunt to Harrogate.

How now, dear rogue, says I, kissing her, we hear great tales of your triumphs.

She laughs and sits down by the fire. O, indeed fine appreciative audiences, and a deal of requests that I might undertake readings. Sure I was quite spoilt.

And Lady J-?

Oh, 'twas quite entire the best thing for her! Sure she would complain of the taste of the waters, but she took 'em, and rest’d as Dr J- desir’d her to do, and bath’d most regular, and obey’d his instructions about meat and drink, and indeed one could see her begin to come round and by the end was going for walks - o, none of your promenading to see and be seen, but fine long walks. And at first she did not come to the theatre, because she was suppos’d to go to bed most exceeding early, also Dr J- had some concerns about miasmas, but by the end, was no keeping her away.

Comes in Celeste with coffee and the little buns that Miss A- likes most particular

And the dear Admiral! she cries. O, what an excellent fellow he is! Quite the best thing for her spirits. And so exceeding understanding over the state of affairs: treat’d me most extreme civil and courteous.

But, dear Lady B-, she goes on, tell me how matters get on in Town. Does Miss R- go marry Danvers D-?

I unfold to her the arrangement that has been reacht thro’ the very excellent good sense of Mrs D-.

O, indeed I was in some concern as to how we should manage without her! For there is none at present in our company that I should be entire happy to prefer to her roles. Sure, we must go think a little, for the time will come round when she may have to step down for a while, whether there is any that could be brought on -

I daresay, says I, that there are those that have been oblig’d to take on greater parts in your absence. Perchance they begin show their qualities.

Perchance, she says, I should not have took Maggy with me but left her as my spy.

I remark that I have not been to the theatre quite so much of late, being quite beset by invitations about Society.

Miss A- looks at me and says, and there is an on dit that you go marry again?

I snort somewhat vulgar and say, you will see me lead apes in hell first.

Why, indeed it seem’d most unlike to me, but Maggy has already been going see what gossip goes about. I have not seen dear Mrs N- yet, that I daresay has all the tales clutcht in her hands.

But, my dear, I must tell you that the Duke is most extreme gratefull for what you have done for Lady J-

O, cries Miss A, coming to a blush, sure I would do anything I might for her, 'tis not in hopes of reward.

I do not in the least suppose that Grace imagines that you would; but he wonder’d is there anything –

Miss A- looks thoughtfull and says after a while, why, I have my profession, tho’ 'tis ever a precarious one, and I have my dearest’s patronage, so I am not in want, and indeed, would be tid’d over did there come some accident befall or the publick run after newer favourites on the stage.

She puts on a considering expression and says, but who knows when may come a time when interest with a Duke might be of material benefit?

Why, says I, who is this prudent Miss A- that shows such forethought? But indeed, my dear, I think you have the right of it. Shows exceeding good ton that you do not expect material rewards, but hope that His Grace will ever stand your friend &C.

She gives me her most roguish smile and says, why, I daresay I have learn’d somewhat from a certain kind mentor.

Also, says I, you are now an entire acclaim’d actress and not a scar’d little rabbit having to show obliging to Mr P- for his patronage; and you are in the enjoyment of the devotion of a most excellent lady.

O, sighs Miss A-, indeed I am.

She jumps up, comes kiss me and says, and as she is no longer a scar’d little rabbit, she will go brave Mr J- at the theatre.

My dear, I quite confide he will be so glad to see you back and in good health that there will be no swearing in Welsh. And I hope I may see you at my soirée this e’en do matters not detain you at the theatre.

We part with a little affectionate laughter.

Sure the dear rogue has distract’d me from being in the frets about my soirée, but now she has gone I find in myself an inclination towards that state.

But my spirits are much elevat’d by going for a fine ride in the Park upon my lovely Jezzie-girl: ‘tis a fine clear bright afternoon tho’ extreme chill, but my ride warms me most agreeable. There is not a great deal of Society about, for 'tis not quite the fashionable hour.

But indeed, the little while before my guests are expect’d finds me in the reception room, fiddling with cards and counters, moving about the chairs, wondering is my fine portrait entire straight upon the wall, &C, until the musicians arrive, follow’d with great expedition by Mrs O’C- and Mr P-, along with Mr and Mrs N-. They are most exceeding shortly follow’d by the R- House set, Mr H- and Mr B-. Timothy goes about with glasses of wine and fruit-cup.

Next arrive Sir Z- R-, with Mr de C- and Phoebe, and Mr van H-, with on their heels the V-s along with the Marquess of O- and Jacob S-, that is in Town about some scientifick meeting, then Mrs P- and Miss W-, and the dear Contessa.

The M- House party consists of Biffle, Viola, Sebastian K- and Lady J-, that indeed is looking most exceeding well. She remarks that no doubt I have been keeping the peace in the philanthropick set this while and we must convoke together over how matters proceed.

Come Lord and Lady G-, with Mr and Mrs O- B- almost falling over them in the doorway. I observe that Mrs O- B- brings with her some musick: indeed I was in hopes that she would sing but did not wish to impose upon her.

There is a little pause in the merry chatter that rises from the company when Lord D- arrives with Lady D- and Miss S-, but Biffle, that is entire our diplomatist, goes over and engages Lord D- in conversation.

I am most extreme gratify’d that Lord and Lady T- have come.

A few more of the scientifick and philanthropick sets arrive, also the Reverend Mr L-, that has, he says, been about taking advantage of the antiquarians’ exceeding fine library. He conveys to me the very warmest regards of the U-s and their wondering whether I purpose any visit to the vicinity in the near future. I sigh and make some complaint upon the demands of the Season, that hinder me from matters I might rather undertake.

Lady J- I observe is by no means letting the grass grow beneath her feet, for she is in deep converse with Mrs O- B- and I confide hopes that she will condescend to perform at one of her musicales.

Sir C- F- is shown in along with all three of the Earl’s sons: he murmurs aside to me that Lord N- is in some mopish sullen mood and would not come (sure I am somewhat reliev’d that he does not). Lord U- and Lord Edward look around, and I say do they care for a little play, strict limits upon the stakes, entire friendly, I see that a table is making up – Mr N-, Mr H-, Mr P- and Mr B-, as Mrs O’C- sorts counters. Lord Edward looks at his brothers and says he could fancy a hand or two.

At last come Sir B- and Lady W-, Captain C-, and Sir H- and Lady Z-. Susannah and Lady Z- most immediate go sit down near to Lady D- and go converse of matters of mutual interest about their condition - Phoebe does not yet manifest any outward sign, but indeed goes once more with child. Sir H- Z- goes over to the card table.

Sure we are all well met and there is a most agreeable hum of conversation, Miss L- plays most pleasing upon the piano and I look about my guests.

I observe that Mr H- goes employ his practis’d tactick of distracting the other players by discoursing of some most interesting operation he late undertook at Barts. Mr L- makes most exceeding civil to Agnes S-, desiring to be assur’d that she is not in a draught &C. Lady T- goes converse with Mrs P- and Miss W-, having been introduc’d at my drawing-room meeting.

Sir B- W- converses most amiable with Jacob S-. I observe signs that Lord U- is another of the young gentlemen that is smitten by Viola. Josiah and Eliza are in some discourse with Phoebe and Sebastian K-.

I look over to Mr G- D-, that has been talking with Mrs O- B- by the piano, and nod to signify that ‘twould be a good time to strike up the musick.

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The day after the ball I sleep exceeding late and feel somewhat languid when I rise, but am able to be about some of my correspondence and to go for a little ride upon Jezebel before I enjoy a quiet e’en at home such as I confide will be exceeding rare over the next months.

The next morn I am more early and beforehand at my desk, where I find a very civil letter from Lady T- that the copies of her fine volume upon lace have been deliver’d to her, and she is most exceeding delight’d at how very well it looks. She purposes to give a very select little party to celebrate the matter, and very much desires my attendance.

Why, thinks I, I daresay 'twill be a somewhat staid occasion, but 'twould be civil to go; and write with my acceptance.

I also write a little note to Herr P- at the H-s’ house, for to the best of my apprehension he continues to lodge there, and sure Frau H- is given out an exceeding fine cook in the Bavarian style, concerning Reynaldo’s desire to meet him and discourse of ideal communities.

I dispatch Timothy with these and several other messages and go consider over the household books. Sure expenses have been somewhat higher than they were wont, for Euphemia continues to send leftovers, good hot soup, &C to Nell’s family while her father’s leg mends. I also confide some coals go to them as well. Also the ice-house goes be fill’d with ice. But sure there is nothing that is particular out of the ordinary and sure we are in no position to need to retrench.

For I look also over the letters from Mr B- at the bank and from Mr Q- and confide that even do I go lay out upon a steam-pump and smelting-mill matters, I am by no means come to penury. 'Tis most agreeable.

I mind that do I faircopy the tales I late writ, Sandy may take them about editors and I may have some nice little sum for Dolly Mutton’s enterprize. So I set to the matter for a while.

I am still about it when Timothy returns, with a note from Herr P-, that takes somewhat of an effort to decypher, for he writes in a crabb’d Germanick hand, but at length I am appriz’d that he would be entire happy to converse of ideal communities with one that he apprehends is an exil’d champion of freedom.

When I have ceas’d laughing somewhat immoderate, I am about to write to Reynaldo, and then mind me that 'tis a while since I have visit’d the Contessa, tho’ we have seen one another in passing and exchang’d greetings, and I may go open this business to her and leave the message for Reynaldo.

When I am admitt’d I find the Contessa beside a snug fire, reading The Hidden Door. She puts down the volume and removes her spectacles and comes embrace me very hearty, saying sure it has been an age. Was it not an entire crush at M- House? – an excellent occasion. She glances towards the book and says, she doubts not I have read it already, being such a friend to the author, but pray do not tell her how all falls out.

I lay a finger to my lips.

A footman brings tea: she remarks that dear Miss Grosvenor quite gave her the taste.

We talk a little about the visits she went to country house-parties – one thing, she remarks, that she cannot understand about the English, is this matter of fox-hunting: 'tis an entire great to-do, and sometimes the fox will escape, and even do they catch one, 'tis not for eating. And yet they will risque injury and even death about this pleasure of theirs.

I say does she find hunting a bewildering thing – and indeed, I do not quite see myself why it should be consider’d such a great pleasure, tho’ I have dear friends that consider it quite the finest pursuit – has she ever been to some summer house-party where they go play cricket? 'Tis like to drive one quite lunatick with ennui watching 'em. Indeed one can quite see why English milords are suppos’d mad, or at least most extreme eccentrique, by the rest of the world.

She laughs somewhat immoderate and says, she confides that that is one pastime of an English gentleman that Reynaldo will not be about taking up.

I therefore disclose to her Reynaldo’s sudden enthusiasm for Herr P-'s ideal community, and mention somewhat of the unhappy fate of his plans to establish such a community in the American wilderness.

After she has ceas’d laughing, and taken some tea, she says, well, sure if he is thinking of that he is not supposing he should return to Naples, which greatly relieves her mind. But is it not very dangerous in the Americas once one is away from what one is told are quite excellent fine cities upon the Atlantick coast? Reynaldo can be a very tiresome creature, but she has a fondness for him and should not like to have him scalpt by wild Indians.

Indeed that is I daresay quite the possibility: but I am like to think that there is perchance a greater difficulty present'd by a certain impracticality in those that are so very enthusiastick for the project: who would be, I confide, somewhat inapt as pioneers, that will be oblig’d to undertake a deal of arduous labour, building cabins, cultivating the soil, hunting for food &C.

Why, says she, I daresay Reynaldo would be capable of hunting for food, he is a quite excellent shot; but indeed, the building of shelters and the cultivation of crops would not be so attractive to him. And anyway, I do not suppose he would like to go so very far away from the handsome Lady Z-.

I confide not, says I, seems most exceeding attacht to her.

O dear, I go on, I hope he does not suppose he may beseech her to fly with him to this quite chimerickal idyllic existence that Herr P- describes. Tho’ I confide that she is a woman of too great sense to do any such thing: especially does she have an infant in arms.

What an extreme fine dancer is her husband, remarks the Contessa, I not’d that lately at the ball.

We exchange a little more gossip and then I say I will leave her to her novel, and depart.

I confide that 'tis not too late to go call upon Lady D- and have some converse on the matter of philanthropick ladies and their brangles.

However, when I am arriv’d at P- House, I observe that there is one of the R- House carriages waiting outside the door and a footman informs me that Lady D- is not at home to visitors: I apprehend that she is closet’d with my dearest Eliza and opens to her any concerns she has over her condition.

I am just turning to go, after leaving my card, when comes in the door Agnes S-, along with Copping, and says they are just return’d from a subscription concert, do I care to I might come and have tea in the little sitting room?

I say this is quite entire agreeable to me. Copping takes Agnes S-'s cloak and hat, and I hand my tippet and muff to the footman.

Agnes S- says that she dares say Dora goes receive company in the parlour, but indeed, the little sitting room is a deal cozier at this time of year. We go sit vis-à-vis in chairs beside the fire.

I say I apprehend that Lady D- goes talk over matters to do with motherhood with Mrs F-, and Agnes S- says that is a great relief to her, for altho’ Dora supposes such matters are not to be mention’d to unmarry’d ladies, she had been taking some concern that she was troubl’d over the business. Doubtless 'tis entire the kind of matter that did one have a mother, would have been convey’d upon marriage but their aunt was a spinster

Why, says I, I confide she could find no better person to talk to than Mrs F-, that is esteem’d throughout our circle for her understanding of maternity.

A footman brings tea, and Miss S- pours out.

O, she says, I am delight’d to see you, I was purposing to come call, might I find some opportunity to do so.

Oh? says I, in some concern that one or another may have been making suit to her.

I apprehend, says she, that besides publishing one’s poems in pretty volume form, there are those that go publish 'em from time to time in the periodickal press?

'Tis so, says I. And now A. M. gains a deal of reputation on account of The Vengefull Spirit and other poems, I confide that editors would be like to make very pleasing offers for the chance to display new works from that hand. Sure I can go ask Mr MacD- how one goes about the matter.

She smiles and says that would be most exceeding kind.

And, she says, on the matter of kindness, she has observ’d that Lady Anna and Lady Emily are now dresst in quite the crack of fashion when they go into Society, and upon remarking upon this to 'em, they were about blessing Lady B-'s name.

O, says I, 'twas entire that I was able to contrive to introduce them at Mamzelle Bridgette’s.

She looks at me with a little frown.

For, says I, 'tis nigh impossible to have fittings and gowns made up now the Season begins, is one not able to bring some interest to bear upon the matter.

She continues to frown. And then says, 'tis not some device by the Marquess? Sure he seems a most agreeable fellow, I cannot see why Lady Anna takes him in such dislike.

I put on the expression of one who might tell an if she would, but is requir’d to show discreet. Let us, says I, wait upon how things fall out.

Indeed, says Miss S-, I am not sure she dislikes him so very much, for I saw them dance together at the M- House ball and she seem’d to be enjoying herself mightily. Tho’ perchance was just because she was so fine dresst.

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Dear readers, this is to convey notice of an upcoming hiatus, as your amanuensis is shortly going to a spaw to recruit.

Your amanuensis was in some supposition that these memoirs might be drawing towards a stopping-place, but finds that they are like to continue for a little while yet after this hiatus.

It is an entire gratification to observe the kind testimonials to the pleasure and comfort derived from these memoirs.

There is also the thought that, perchance, one might go edit the memoirs (for indeed certain errours and inconsistencies had crept in over the course of the narrative), with a view to publishing 'em in some general fashion. Notions upon this are solicit'd and would be extreme welcome.

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Sure there are a great many more come solicit me to dance: Lord U- and his brother will not be deny’d, but I feel oblig’d to concede yet another to Lord Geoffrey, on the grounds of our older acquaintance. I also dance with Sir C- F-: we have ever sort’d well together on the floor and 'tis still the same as 'twas in Brighton.

I find that the Freiherr is another will not abandon his hopes: but indeed he conducts himself most exceeding civil, doubtless wishing to redeem the character of his nation in my eyes.

Mr O- B-, alas, is not a good dancer, but I should not like to refuse him, for he is quite entire one of our set. He looks across the dance-floor and says with great gratification that he observes that Lord A- pays a deal of attention to Charley: sure he dares say nothing will come of it, but does a deal for a young woman does a fashionable fellow like Lord A- show her markt notice. And sure he has had to step between Mrs O- B- and those that would desire her to sing for she is like to get quite wore out by the demands they make. But that too is exceeding gratifying. Does he see the F-s – is there not an entire press here this e’en? – he must convey to them how very much little Dodo enjoy’d the fine party they gave at R- House.

After this dance I go to the side of the floor and wriggle my toes to make sure they are not in truth broken.

Comes up Biffle and makes me a leg and desires me to dance. I give him my hand most gladly. Why, says I, I think this ball of yours will go be talkt of as a great success. He looks towards where Viola dances with Sandy, and says, indeed he hopes so. Dear Viola was quite in the frets that it would not go, even was there not some disaster.

Why, says I, indeed 'tis the first great publick occasion in Town you have held since she became Duchess, 'tis a matter that must prey upon the mind. But sure, even without Lady J- at her elbow to advize – for I confide she is most recent return’d to Town – has done exceeding well. But how is Lady J-?

Biffle laughs a little and says, o, she is determin’d to get back into her old ways as soon as maybe –

I laugh a little immoderate and say, sure the orphanage ladies will have a surprize coming to 'em!

- but indeed, dear C-, we should greatly like to show our gratitude to Miss A-, could we contrive some way to come at it.

Why, says I, I will give my mind to the matter. And how do your children?

Oh, says he, little Cathy thrives exceeding, the pretty darling; and Essie was most exceeding prepossesst by the fine party at R- House: his only complaint was that Julius was not there, is most particular taken with Julius – Yes, says I, went with Roberts and Seraphine down to A-. - Indeed that is an excellent infant set.

He looks over to Viola again and I see them smile at one another. I squeeze his hand. He looks down at me and says, you have been a very good friend to us.

O, poo, says I, 'tis a matter goes both ways.

We look at one another with the great good feeling of antient friendship and step from the floor. We exchange partners and he dances with Viola and I with Sandy.

We smile at one another with great affection, and do not feel any obligation to chatter, 'tis quite entire a great relief to me, and I daresay to him as well.

When the dance is done, he goes do the civil by asking Agnes S- to dance. Sir B- W- is conversing very amiable with Lady D-: Lord D- looks at her very affectionate and says, as Sir B- W- keeps her such good company, would you care to dance, Lady B-?

'Tis quite entire politick for us to be seen on such excellent terms, and, after all, 'tis not a waltz, that might affront his principles. He tells me that he finds this a most excellent occasion, quite in entire the best of ton; of course His Grace is oblig’d to set aside a room where gentlemen that wish to may enjoy a little play, but he dares say 'tis all quite a friendly matter and no exceeding high stakes. I reply that I confide 'tis so.

I go on to remark that I go shortly to hold another soirée and hope he will come: and of course Lady D- is she still going about in company. He looks over to her very doating and says, sure she bears up remarkable. But indeed, he thinks she would benefit from talking to some motherly lady that has borne several herself: he had wonder’d whether Lady W- might undertake it, but she expresst the belief that the very best lady to talk to was Mrs F-. His own dear mother is of course in the country at present.

Why, says I, 'tis quite the general on dit that Mrs F- is entire the best lady to talk to on matters of obstetricks and motherhood. I am sure she would be delight’d to sit down with Lady D- and soothe her mind does she have any of the little worries that come to a lady that anticipates her first confinement.

He says that is entire a fine recommendation and he wonders would I be so kind as to open the matter to Mrs F-?

Should delight to do so. But I hear that Lady D- continues about good works?

Indeed, he says with an indulgent smile, and then frowns a little. But sure, Lady B-, there are some little matters among philanthropick ladies about which she would greatly appreciate the advice of a lady that is so well-vers’d in ‘em.

(Sure, thinks I with an inward sigh, I daresay this is the orphanage ladies again.)

Sure, says I, did she care to come call upon me – or perchance 'twould be better did I come visit her at some time when she is not receiving general company?

He confides that the latter would be the most answerable course.

We return to where Lady D- is sitting and fanning herself a little. I remark to Sir B- W- that I suppose that Lady W- is not going out in the evenings at present. He agrees that she is somewhat in retreat as far as Society goes – certainly she does not feel that she could face a ball, however agreeable – however, Lady B-, do you intend one of your soirées I daresay she could be persuad’d.

Lord D- looks at Lady D- and says, sure this is not a very vigorous dance, do you think you might care for it? She looks up at him with a smile and stands up and takes his hand. Sir B- W- looks at me and we join the other dancers on the floor.

I ask after dear Susannah and he says, alas, his mother comes stay with them, which ever puts her in dolefull humour. But 'twould greatly chear her did I come call.

Why, says I, that would be entire agreeable to me. Sure there is a deal of matter on hand now the Season is truly begun, but one may ever find time for good friends. And how, I go on, does Mrs D- K- answer in the capacity of companion?

Surprising well, says Sir B- W-, sure there have been companions before have not last’d this long: has not brangl’d with her, and I will not say m’mother has no complaints, for there will always be something, but she is not constant complaining upon her.

He goes on to remark about how very greatly Bobbie enjoy’d the party at R- House; he dares say so did Sukey but she is still somewhat young to express herself much in the matter.

The next dance after this is the supper-dance, and I perceive with a sinking of the heart that Sir V- P- comes looking in my direction again, but comes up before he has time to reach me Milord, saying sure he has quite neglect’d me and hopes I am not already bespoken?

Indeed not, says I, 'tis most entire agreeable to me.

When we go in to supper, we find a quiet nook where we may sit and converse, and he says in low tones that he hopes matters come about with A- shortly so that he need not be about showing so harsh towards such an old friend, that looks at him with sad spaniel eyes at these manifestations of unfriendliness.

Why, says I, I am in some supposition that matters may be like to come about before long and you may be reconcil’d with many displays of frank manly affection.

He laughs and says, that would be indeed very agreeable. Lord A- may not be distinguisht for intellectual powers, but sure they have been friends these many years and he is an excellent fellow.

Indeed, says I, there is no harm in him, is no rake, perchance sometimes plays somewhat higher than his skills would make prudent, but aside from that, nothing to his discredit. At least, says I, no more than the generality of fellows, that will suppose that a lady must be entire fascinat’d do they discourse of some matter that is of great interest to 'emselves.

Milord laughs somewhat immoderate, causing several to look around at us.

Was it not Lord Chesterfield, says I exceeding prim, was of the opinion that a true gentleman did not give way to laughter in company?

What a quite frightfull prig the fellow must have been.

After supper, and a little strolling about – I observe Sandy and Lady J- in deep converse, I daresay on classickal matters - I go dance with my dearly belov’d Josiah, that remarks that they have seen that Lady B- has been hard at work the entire e’en. I open to him Lady D-'s desire to benefit from Eliza’s experience and he laughs, quoting How doth the little busy bee.

You take advantage, sir, says I, that I may not go smack you with my fan for your impudence.

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Docket is most extreme exacting about what I shall wear for the M- House Ball. Sure there is no arguing with her.

My rubies? says I, a little dubious.

Your rubies, says Docket in tones that brook no contradiction. Are they not most exceeding fine stones?

Yes, says I, but –

That you earn’d entire honest by your own efforts?

Do you put it thus -, says I, still somewhat dubious.

And that suit this new gown that Maurice has creat’d most particular.

I throw up my hands and declare that sure I am not mistress in my own household.

Docket looks at me and asks, do I employ her to make sure I am ever dresst suitable for the occasion, or do I not?

I observe that Sophy is in some discomfort from suppressing the giggles.

I sigh and say, the rubies, then, Docket: and I am like to suppose that you are also purposing to put the pearls in my hair.

No, says Docket, she knows I do not wear those exceeding fine jets since coming out of mourning, but they will look exceeding well in my hair.

Well, says I, Docket, do with me what you will, sure this is like unto being a girl’s doll.

But when I look at myself in my fine pier glass once she is done, I cannot help but smile. Sure I am a vain creature.

So I am in excellent good spirits by the time I get into my carriage to drive to M- House, where sure there is a large crowd gather’d to view the guests as they arrive, spite of the chill wind and the threat of snow.

There are some very agreeable, if somewhat vulgar, things shout’d as I make my to the entrance and am shown in by bowing footmen (sure 'tis a great change from the days when I came to the discreet sidedoor and up the conceal’d stair).

I am greet’d most extreme effusive by Biffle and Viola, and I am entirely delight’d to see that Lady J- is return’d to Town and looks most exceeding well. But I must leave them to the task of greeting their guests, and go on to ascend the very fine staircase. Sure there is a great crowd here already, but I perceive several that I know.

I observe, at the top of the stairs, gazing about themselves with delight, Lady Anna and Lady Emily, along with their brothers, that are also quite entire failing to look jad’d.

Why, my dears, say I, you are looking most exceeding fine the e’en.

O, yes, says Lady Emily, sure it makes an entire difference. She lifts her fan and looks over it. Oh, look, there is dear Agnes S- with Lord and Lady D-. She waves at them, and adds to her brothers, that Agnes S- is the most delightfull young woman and quite their dearest friend. (I think she has not abandon’d hope of making a marriage.)

But, says I, I am surpriz’d not to see you already in the ballroom.

(Tho’ I am inclin’d to think that they stand there, where all must pass, so that they may be admir’d, for must be quite an unusual sensation for 'em.)

Lord and Lady D- and Miss S- ascend the stairs, and there are affectionate greetings. Lord D- says that he goes find a chair where Lady D- may sit, but desires introductions to these gentlemen first? I go make the necessary introductions 'twixt him and Lord U- and Lord Edward. Lady D- looks most extreme elat’d to be at such a fine ball, and sure she is not so very far advanc’d that she may not contemplate a little dancing so be 'tis not too boisterous.

Miss S- and her friends go discourse, I confide, of the miracles that Maurice has wrought.

I smile at them in general and remark that I daresay we shall be reencounter’d later, and proceed upon my way.

I peep into the musick-room and observe several beseech Mrs O- B- to favour them with a song or two. 'Tis well.

And then I go glide like a swan into the most excellent fine M- House ballroom, that has a magnificent paint’d ceiling, but no such matter that might cause Lord D- distress, 'tis fine Italian, or mayhap Greek, landscapes with temples.

Comes up to me most expeditious, just ahead of the Freiherr von D- and well in advance of Sir V- P- that wambles in my direction, Sebastian K- to desire a dance. I smile at him and accept. Sure he has acquir’d a deal of polish and address in his Grand Tour.

He looks at me and smiles and says, sure he was expecting to find little nieces on his return – what extreme fine infants they are – but he did not anticipate this train of young women that follows after Vi and hangs upon her words.

I laugh and say that 'tis an entire pretty thing to see, and all remark upon the excellent example she sets.

Sure, he says, I am still having difficulty in telling one from 'tother. Two of 'em I know are U-'s sisters and have a look of him –

Lady Anna and Lady Emily –

- and one of 'em is to marry the Marquess of O- that, according to U-, is an excellent fine fellow but she goes show very missish in the matter. But talking of marriage, is’t true that you are to marry Lord A-?

I laugh somewhat immoderate and nearly miss my step. Sure gossip is most eager to see us wed, a deal more so than either of ourselves!

Why, he is an agreeable enough fellow, but I could not quite see him as your choice.

(I do not say that in bygone days I should have had entire no objections to Lord A- as a patron - for he is a fine well-set-up fellow – but sure that is not enough to incline me to wed a fellow.)

Moreover, says I, I do not require to wed and I should have to be most extreme prepossesst with a fellow did I give up my agreeable state.

Indeed you are in a position to be discriminating!

The dance ends and we part. Up comes Reynaldo di S-, quite sweeps me onto the floor in a waltz. He expresses his continuing devotion to Lady Z- and his concerns over her condition, but then says, have I ever come across a Herr P-, a Bavarian fellow of most extreme radickal views? He has read his works (sure 'tis a revelation to me that Reynaldo reads anything but the racing calendar), and hears he is at present in Town. O, would it not be wonderfull to meet him and discuss how one might put his fine notions into practice?

Why, says I, as far as I know he is lodging with Frau H-, that is the mother of Herr and Fraulein H-, compatriots of his. (For I think it a deal better that Reynaldo goes think about ideal communities in the Americas rather than return to Naples.) Is somewhat of an invalid.

Alas, says Reynaldo. But if I might contrive an introduction –

Sure, says I, I may be about it.

At the end of the dance I say I must go refresh myself, for I become exceeding thirsty; evade the approach of Sir V- P-; and move to the side of the ballroom where I perceive footmen with trays of drinks. Comes up to me as I take some very mild punch the Marquess of O-, that takes my hand and squeezes it. O, he says in an undertone, she looks quite magnificent, how did you come about it?

Oh, says I, I fear there may yet be the devil to pay in due course, but I took them to the modiste I patronize, and desir’d 'em to be dresst in accordance with their station and position. May yet come a time when I may disclose all. But have you yet danc’d with her?

He shakes his head.

Well, says I, go do so.

He laughs and says, he will go do my bidding.

As he departs, comes up Lord A- and desires me to tread a measure with him.

Once we are on the floor, he sighs and says that he is extreme distresst by these signs of Milord's displeasure. They have been friends this age, is there nothing that I might say to bring about a reconciliation?

Why, says I, I endeavour to bring him to a more reasonable frame of mind. But, says I, I am like to suppose that until you go wed some young lady that is not myself, he fears you aspire to my hand.

Lord A- looks at me, and I mind me of when Bess said that like Beatrice she would prefer a husband fit for working days rather than Milord. I confide that Lord A-, tho’ I doubt he would put it in the fine words of the Bard, has a somewhat similar sentiment concerning myself. He then looks at somewhat over my shoulder and says, sure Miss B- is a very fine young woman -

Greatly admires you, says I. Very fond of cricket.

Say you so! He blinks a little. Excellent fine voice, he goes on, displays good ton –

Well, Your Lordship, I think that you should go secure her for the next dance.

I observe Sir V- P- moving in my direction yet again, but he is forestall’d by Sir H- Z-. Sure Sir H- is an excellent fine dancer. I ask after Lady Z- and he says as well as may be expect’d when it gets to this point. He goes on to say that his boys cannot stop talking about the fine party at R- House and the F- boy’s menagerie. Why, says I, I am sure Josh F- would be delight’d did they visit again.

After he has depart’d for the gaming-room, having undertaken his duty number of dances, I look about me but do not observe Sir V- P- lingering in my vicinity. Comes up Lord Geoffrey with hopefull solicitations that I may dance with him.

Why, indeed, says I. I see that he is wearing the waistcoat he wore when he took me driving: 'tis indeed far better suit’d to a ballroom.

We are about to step out on to the floor when his brothers arrive and tell him he is a cunning dog to be so beforehand with Lady B-.

I smile at them and say, sure there are a deal of dances yet to come.

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Now the Marquess is return’d to Town, we may go see how matters proceed in the furbishment of O- House. Indeed, I remark, they get on exceeding expeditious, tho’ I confide 'tis not yet quite what one would wish to introduce one’s bride into.

The Marquess concedes this with a slight sigh. Sure, he says, besides my desire to have my lovely Hippolyta at my side, I should greatly wish to have the position that would accord me within the Earl’s family. I have late, he goes on, seen a deal of Lord U- and his brothers, most excellent young men, and I am led to know more of the unsatisfactory way matters go on within the household.

He gives a little groan and says, sure one only knows the publick face of a fellow when one encounters him in scientifick society and thro’ matters of botany &C: one has no idea how he shows to those that are oblig’d to live with him.

Why, says I, I have consider’d over this matter – for one may make deductions from things one hears and observes, even is there no complaint - and it may be that 'tis just that, with his thoughts so greatly taken up with his own interests, he does not give his mind to thinking how his wife might lead a more pleasant life in spite of her invalid condition, and that he does not realize the great importance of clothes to young women that make their way in Society. For I apprehend that he does have some notion that his sons should have some allowance, for he was a young man once himself.

The Marquess looks at me and says, sure he does not know why certain fellows go about describing Lady B- as a charming lovely featherwit -

Sure, Your Lordship, says I, you of all fellows should realize the entire utility of such a supposition. Can be most entire beneficial to have one’s powers under-rat’d.

He laughs and says sure, he found entire the like in having the reputation of an eccentrique English milord that is interest’d in nothing but flowers.

Serv’d my dear husband well to be consider’d much the same, but a dilettante that dabbled in antiquities. Indeed, one said you had visit’d him at Naples? Some time I should greatly like to hear your reminiscences of him.

The Marquess blinks a little, and I daresay recalls to mind the other matter that my dear late husband dabbl’d in - perchance he even made some acquaintance with Marcello? – and says, indeed he would greatly like to hear how that marriage came about, but at some other time perchance.

We go look at several of the rooms and indeed there is a noticeable improvement – the windows sparkle, the carpets and rugs show the benefit of being took up and well-beaten, &C.

But this matter of the Earl – if 'tis as you say, perchance if these matters are brought to his attention, he may see the entire rightness of doing better by his womenfolk? – tho’ I understand from Lord U- that his first essays did not go well, and that he has proceed’d to going order upon his own authority such matters as an invalid chair for his mama, and instructing the servants to be more liberal in building up the fires even does it mean sending to the coal-merchants for further supplies.

(O, I think to myself, I put some idea into Lord U-'s mind and now he goes take it as his own and takes it further. Well, we shall see does this shame Lord N- into consideration for his family.)

I am like to suppose, goes on the Marquess, that did I have that standing within the family that comes of being a son-in-law, and could bring to bear arguments that might be more willingly heard on account of my greater age and experience of the world, 'twould be greatly material to this campaign.

'Tis possible, says I. (Sure do I not have to bring in Covent Garden, 'twould be entire agreeable to me. I had much rather work indirect than by a frontal assault.)

Comes Hector and reports about how matters go in the kitchens, the provisions for the servants’ chambers, and other needfull things. Indeed the business is getting on.

The Marquess expresses himself quite infinite indebt’d to us. Sure he wishes he had such advisors down at D- Chase.

Why, says I, I confide that would be a somewhat different problem, in that, as I suppose, there is an establishment that was us’d to matters under your brother –

O, indeed, there is that, has ever been done thus in this household does one suggest some change or other. The other matter is the neighbours, that he confides think of him as a strange fellow - practically a foreigner himself for he has been so much abroad – and indeed he is not us’d to English county society. Now, at Captain P-'s they do not stand on ceremony, can a fellow follow hounds over rough country he is quite entire accept’d to their set, but 'tis not the same at D- Chase.

Indeed, says I, they take one as they find one. But perchance, once you are marry’d, your neighbours may come round a little more.

He looks somewhat sceptickal.

We take very amiable leave of one another, dare say we may meet again shortly at the M- House ball.

In the afternoon, I go make a number of calls and leaving of cards, and when I have conclud’d a dutyfull number, tell Ajax to take me to N- House so that I may call upon Lady N-.

When I enter her chamber – where I observe there is a far larger and more welcoming fire than has been wont – I see that my dearest Eliza is also calling upon the Countess, and has brought her some of the fine hot-house fruit that Roberts grows at R- House. Selina goes sit in my darling’s lap and purrs considerable.

Lady N- is looking unusual well, with a becoming little colour in her wont’dly pale cheeks. O, Lady B-! How charming. I confide you are well-acquaint’d with Mrs F-.

O, says I, we have known each other quite this age.

I hear so much about the F-s and R- House from Lou, says Lady N-, I am quite fascinat’d. Sure I was a little worry’d that my boys might be getting into Lord R-'s set –

Sure, says I, do you mean the dandy-set he frequents?

Indeed, says Lady N-. Sure I should like my boys to enjoy themselves, but I should not desire them to be entire fribbles.

Why, says I, they are a pleasure-loving set that are his antient acquaintance, think about little that is not dress or sport or play, but there is no harm in 'em: there are very much worse sets. Sure His Lordship sets 'em a fine example of the most excellent ton.

'Tis reassuring to hear, but I am most extreme prepossesst by what Mrs F- tells me of how kind and generous he is to her offspring, and how greatly he is esteem’d by Mr F-.

O, says I, he is quite the benevolent uncle, as 'twere.

And indeed, tho’ my dear Geoff will say what a hard thing 'tis that Mr MacD- must bear the yoke of servitude, I think it does His Lordship a deal of credit that he employs a fellow of such talents, shows judgement.

Why, says Eliza, Mr MacD- is most greatly esteem’d by His Lordship: will oft remark that does not know how he would get on without him.

(Sure we dare not meet one another’s eyes.)

Lady N- smiles and says, so she need not fear that U- and Eddy will of a sudden talk of nothing but fine waistcoats and racing phaetons and high play and opera-dancers?

I confide not! says I. And indeed, I late discover’d that I had done Lord A- of that set an injustice by supposing his interest in the opera entirely to be about scrutinizing the dancers thro’ his quizzing-glass. Has a most exceeding nice taste for musick and can discourse of singers with quite as much connoisseurship as he can give to cricket.

At this moment come bouncing in Lady Anna and Lady Emily, that say they hear that Lady B- is come call, and would beseech dear Mama that she would spare her for a little while to come and advize 'em over what jewels they should wear for the M- House ball.

She looks at 'em with great affection and says she is sure that Lady B-'s advice in the matter will be extreme nice and proper, and indeed she can spare her while she has the excellent company of Mrs F-.

Introductions are made and the girls remark upon little Lou's constant praises of Bess and R- House generally.

So I go up to the girls’ dressing-room, where Brownlee is about sorting stockings, and they show me the most exceeding fine gowns that have been sent from Mamzelle Bridgette’s – Lady Anna’s indeed has a little hint of the amazonian warrior, while there is something somewhat ethereal about her sister’s.

There is a fine jewel casket set upon the dressing-table.

Lady Emily remarks that U- goes quite cry up the virtues of the Marquess of O-.

Lady Anna gives a little yawn and says, so since U- makes so much of the matter, I will go make civil to the Marquess at this ball, and mayhap give him a dance or two: but sure I do not want Society to start supposing we will go make a match of it.

She then goes unlock the casket and says, a deal of this is very old-fashion’d. But Aunt Laetitia had very severe ideas upon what young ladies making their debut should wear, and we hardly ever wore jewels at all.

Why, says I, these are exceeding fine stones, and I do not find them so exceeding antiquat’d in style: but indeed there are strictures to be observ’d.

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Sure I am particular pleas’d to see Sandy the next morn, so that I may open to him this troubling matter that has been communicat’d by Mrs D- K-.

He comes in looking a little shadow-ey’d.

I pour him some coffee and desire him to help himself to parkin.

He drinks several cups of coffee and looks more wakefull.

I apprehend, says I, that Milord is return’d to Town.

Indeed, says Sandy and then gives me a dour Calvinistickal glare. I see not, he says, what a silly creature finds so amuzing.

O, indeed I am a light-mind’d featherwit, says I. But sure, I have some heavyer matter to disclose to you.

I tell him of what Mrs D- K- said to me, and he frowns. Sure there were a deal of papers she hand’d over concerning her late husband’s affairs, that were in most extreme disarray – he was not a business-like fellow. I did not scrutinize everything – was about finding anything relating to his financial situation, and passt over anything that lookt not like that, but perchance I should go and examine the papers again.

Would he have kept any matter relating to suspicions of sedition in writing? says I. I suppose he might have employ’d some cypher.

Sandy sighs and says, did I not remark that he was unbusiness-like? And one may very much doubt that he ever manifest’d that discretion that is so admirable a quality of our dear sibyl’s.

Flattering weasel! says I, but I daresay you have the right of it.

But I am also given to wonder, he goes on, whether the poet goes drop hints that there was somewhat unnatural about Mr D- K-'s demise –

Sure, says I, doubtless someone went about to bribe the local surgeon, the crowner, the jury, into silence, despite his wounds bleeding and crying for vengeance. Did I put that into a novel 'twould be consider’d a deal more improbable than ghosts or monsters or love-potions.

But, says Sandy, I do not think one would need to invoke bribery. Those fellows were all country neighbours of Sir V- P-, that is of a long-establisht gentry family in those parts, and when one considers that his guests includ’d a Duke among others of high rank, may be suppos’d that they were all entire over-aw’d and eager to be persuad’d.

Oh, says I, ‘tis possible. But sure I would suppose that given that all had heard of the quarrel 'twixt Mr W- Y- and Mr D- K-, and there were those went look at him slantwise, for receiving poetick inspiration is not the soundest of alibis, that the poet would not go about to raise suspicions that there was aught unnatural in the matter.

Hmmm, responds Sandy, does he suppose he may throw mud but remain spotless himself, I confide that the laughing-gas has a most deleterious effect upon his ratiocinative capacities, which were never remarkable to begin with.

La, says I, Mr MacD-, you use such exceeding long words, sure a silly creature such as I is quite bewilder’d.

Hah! does he go about describing Lady B- as a pretty featherwit I daresay there are those will be brought to considerable doubts about his judgement.

Say you so!

Come, dear C-, if one such as Lord A- can describe you as a prudent lady that knows what’s what -

What? I cry.

O, indeed he sees that you would make a fellow a most excellent wife, but indeed, 'tis not that he goes make suit to you, 'tis that he hopes you will put him in the way of a lady with similar merits and a very large portion, and would greatly desire that I could make this known to G-. For he is very put about that G- supposes he is about cutting him out with the exquisite Lady B-. Sure he would not dare.

I laugh somewhat immoderate. Why, says I at length when I am capable of speech once more, indeed I think I go about to find a young lady that will entire meet his requirements.

I hope, dearest C-, that you are not about making a monster, animat’d by lightning, that would be all that Lord A- desires –

O, do not teaze! There are young ladies in Society that greatly admire a fellow that is so good-looking and so exceeding well-dresst and such a not’d sportsman.

Sandy begins smile and says, sure he confides that he has the original of such imitations.

Indeed you do, my dear, and a very pretty thing 'tis.

He blushes somewhat and endeavours look severe.

And do you go to this party at Sir B- W-'s the e’en?

I anticipate the R- House party will be there in force!

And Miss N-?

I confide that Mr L- goes take her out – the theatre, I apprehend. There is an excellent fellow that runs a very fine paper, that becomes quite widely read beyond its locality, his leaders much not’d &C.

And a prudent businessman as well, says I, knows what will sell papers and entice advertizers.

Delightfull tho’ 'tis to converse thus with the sibyl - sure when you were at R- House there would always be one coming desiring you for some matter of toy theatres or tigers or wombatts or some such – there are matters I must be about.

Indeed, I think after he had gone, 'tis most agreeable to converse freely tete-à-tete without such interruptions, even do I greatly love being one of the family. But I also greatly enjoy being my own woman, for 'tis a habit I have been in these many years.

I go write upon my novel of wreckers, that now also deals of a horrid sea-monster. 'Tis most exceeding agreeable work, for I find the words quite flow at present, as they do not always do.

When I go dress to go out, Docket chides me for my inky condition, sure she knows not how I contrive to go spatter myself so wholesale. I apologise very meek for the trouble this gives.

But in due course I am finely array’d and in no wise resemble an inky schoolboy.

I have a fine box of hot coals in my carriage to keep me warm, tho’ 'tis no great journey to Sir B- W-'s.

Indeed, 'tis not quite the same as the fine parties at the S-s’ modest house, but when I come into the reception room I see that 'tis our own usual set, including the S-s themselves, that spend a few days staying at M- House, their own little house being let while they stay in Hampshire, so that they may undertake some necessary business in Town. It is indeed most exceeding agreeable to see Martha and Jacob S- and to ask after little Deborah and to exchange news and express concern for Lady J- and remark upon the Admiral’s fine devotion &C.

Sir C- F-, that is an old friend of Sir B- W- from his fribble days, has been invit’d, and goes twit his friend very much in the spirit of here you may see Benedick, the marry’d man. Sir B- W- takes this with entire good humour, and tells Sir C- F- that he should go marry a clever woman himself, 'tis quite the finest thing, and looks exceeding doating at Susannah.

He has brought with him Lord U- and Lord Geoffrey from M- House – I say to them I hope Lord Edward is not ill and they say no, Eddy said 'twould look somewhat particular did we all come in a pack, and he would stay with Mama and read to her.

That is exceeding good of him, says I.

Lord U- smiles somewhat and says he dares says Eddy will take the opportunity of being alone with Mama to confide about the very fine lady Sebastian K- introduc’d him to in Prague - o, really, Geoff, there is no need to pull that Evangelickal face, she was an entire respectable young lady in one of the families he had an introduction to. But I hazard 'Bastian will be here this e’en?

I am like to think so, says I. I see that His and Her Grace are not yet arriv’d, perchance he comes with 'em.

Sure I might go feel somewhat put about when Lord Geoffrey’s attention is quite withdrawn from myself and he gazes over to the door of the reception room, where the R- House party come in.

Oho, says Lord U- to me in an undertone, is that the fam’d MacD-?

Red hair, spectacles? says I. With Lord G- R- and Mr and Mrs F-?

Is that not Viscount R-? says Lord U-.

Indeed that is his correct style, says I, but we first made our acquaintance before his father’s death, when he was still Lord G- R-, and sure I got into the habit.

Lord U- looks at me and I apprehend that he has heard somewhat of the extreme discreet liaison there has been this entire age 'twixt Milord and myself. You are old friends, then, he says.

O, most extreme old friends! I cry. But do you let me make introductions.

As I am about this, enter Lord and Lady D- and Miss S-, follow’d extreme shortly by Biffle, Little V, and her brother. I am kept exceeding busy about introductions, greetings, exchange of news, &C.

I am very prepossesst at Lord U-'s talking to my dear love Eliza about how much his sister, Lady Louisa, enjoy’d the party at R- House for the younger set. ('Tis extreme gratifying to hear.) His Mama does not make calls – Eliza indicates that she is appriz’d of the Countess’s invalid condition – but did Mrs F- ever call at N- House he is sure she would be admitt’d. Eliza declares that Lady Louisa is a fine young woman and quite the greatest favourite with her own dear hoyden Bess.

While they are in conversation come the V-s, along with the Marquess, who observes Jacob S- in the company and goes greet him very civil.

Tho’ sure I miss the dearest T-s that were with us last year, 'tis still an exceeding fine party.

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Sure 'tis time I went hold a soirée: and perchance do I so, 'twill not be so dramatique as the last one. I therefore go write little notes to Mrs O’C- and to Mr G- D-, the devot’d ladies, Signor V-, &C.

I am about my correspondence one morn when comes Mrs O’C- to call. O, she says, what a fine time her boy had at the F-s’ party for the young people. Sure he can hardly stop talking about it, and that he saw the wombatt and the badger and Josh F- let him hold a ferret.

Celeste comes with coffee and shortbreads.

And, she says, she is entire delight’d to be of service taking banque at my soirée, but indeed, I need not be at the trouble of inviting Mr Miles O’N-. Sure he is a charming enough fellow, but she confides that he is a sad rogue, that goes about telling all of these fine horses that none has ever seen. Sure even are there horses upon his fine estate in Ireland, she doubts they are all he cries them up to be.

Why, says I, I have been like to wonder about that. 'Tis a considerable while he has been on these shores, and I would suppose that to raise fine horses one would need to give them more attention, even does one have an excellent head groom &C. (For I cannot suppose that Belinda and Captain P- would leave their fine place in Northamptonshire for so long: or at least, one or 'tother would remain.)

I marry’d one beguiling rogue, says Mrs O'C- with an expression of some bitterness, that was a fine hand at charming the gold out of other people’s pockets, but not in the least given to earning it -

Sure, she goes on, Mr P- is not the chearyest of fellows, indeed, a grumpy creature, but will go sit at his desk with a deal of sighing and write for hours together, has a deal of application, would scorn to take money that was not his.

But I begin to think that Miles O’N- is of that former kind, and comes to England to sell horses as 'twere in a poke, and to see can he find a wife that he can live on, the wretch. Indeed, I would not give my boy such a father-in-law.

I am sure you are wise, says I. I daresay he goes appeal to your happy memories of youthfull days –

Indeed he does! But one would hope a fellow had made something of himself by his years.

One would hope so indeed, says I. But I will not invite him – sure I have heard he goes about Society quite horse-coping, 'tis exceeding poor ton, and not the behaviour one would like among one’s guests.

Has he made any suit to you? she asks.

Why, says I, I confide that 'tis still suppos’d about Society that Lord G- R- retains an interest, and I daresay Mr O’N- would not care to face a challenge.

O, indeed, says Mrs O’C-, he may take warning by what we see with Lord A-.

O? says I as if idly, and Mrs O’C- goes recount some encounter at which Milord went almost to give the cut direct to Lord A-, show’d very chill and formal.

O, poo, says I, sure Lord A- has show’d civil to me a time or two in Society, but can it really be that Society expects the banns call’d any Sunday now – or mayhap that he goes to the archbishop for a special license? Well, gossip will make much out of very little.

Mrs O’C- looks a little sceptical, and I daresay wonders if the lady doth protest too much. But she then goes on to say that another mark against Mr O’N- is that she never sees him at Mass, and dares say he has not been to confession these many months. 'Tis no example to set.

I say perchance 'tis just that he is a most feckless fellow - he is that, she remarks – but that I daresay one might go about to discover what the position might be.

No, she says, she is determin’d to have no mind to him, she does not require to know for certain that the fine estate he boasts upon is barren scrub with a broke-down nag or two upon it.

Sure, says I, did you desire return to your native soil, I confide that there are fellows that seek special pleasures there and would provide you a fine living in Dublin.

She looks thoughtfull.

After she has gone I consider over what she has told me. Indeed I have been like to suppose that Mr Miles O’N- hangs out for a well-endow’d wife, and I have been in some concern that he has gone make exceeding pleasant to Agnes S-, praising her horsewomanship &C. Tho’ I do not think she shows any particular inclination towards him.

I return to my correspondence. I am in some intention to go make calls, once I am like to feel I have been dutyfull enough over writing letters – tho’ sure, I had rather be about writing a tale or so.

But I am just sitting up and stretching myself when comes Hector to say Mrs D- K- comes call.

Why, says I, send her in. For I know not why she comes calling and wish to find out.

She comes in and I wave her to a chair beside the fire, for she looks chill’d. Celeste comes with tea, and shortbreads, that I confide are left from the morn’s baking.

(I hope Mrs D- K- has not come inform me she has just murder’d the dreadfull crocodile.)

How now, says I, how do you?

She sighs and says, why, she has not kill’d the old b---h yet; sure Lady W- is very forebearing that she has not done so. For they went to Somerset and the old lady goes spoil her grandchildren by interfering with anything their mama and papa say, and indeed behaves as if they had been hatcht from eggs rather than having a mother. And now they are return’d to Town the old b---h comes with 'em, for she will not go moulder in Somerset while 'tis the Season.

Indeed, says I, has long been her practice, but the high living quite shortly goes affect her liver and she will be about taking the waters somewhere.

Shall be extreme glad to leave Town, says Mrs D- K-.

Oh? says I, with my listening face.

She sighs. In Town I cannot help but run across fellows that were in my husband’s set. And there are those that look at me with a little sneer; and then there are those that make more pleasant and then go offer me carte blanche.

And you do not incline to any of 'em?

Sure, she says in drear tones, one gets agreeable us’d to being without a man (I mind me that her late husband was a foul-temper’d brute): but I daresay in time I may bring myself to it.

Why, says I, I confide Mr MacD- will have writ to you that once the debts he has compound’d for are clear’d, you should have a little in the way of an income.

He has gone to a deal of trouble on my behalf, she says with a frown.

(I do not think she will understand do I say that Sandy regards such matters in the light of a puzzle he may solve and that he finds enjoyment in it.)

'Tis best that these matters do not remain in a tangle, says I.

She gives a great sigh and rubs her face with her hands. As for tangles, she says, and then falls silent.

I remain silent myself to see if she will speak further.

Have you lately seen Mr W- Y-? she asks at length.

Not very lately, says I, he has not been as much about in Society as was wont. (Which I daresay is to do with this new freak of his of laughing-gas visions.)

Only lately came visit me, and askt did I still move among your set, and that there are those that would be very interest’d to know what went forth among you –

La, says I, is he reduc’d to going sell gossip to the scandal-monging press?

Indeed, at first I thought it was some such matter, but what scandal might there be among a set that is so not’d for matrimonial devotion? Even the Z-s, that us’d to be somewhat at outs, are now entire reconcil’d and Sir H- hangs over Lady Z- as if no woman ever got with child before. So then he said 'twas some politickal matter, but that featherwit Lady B- would not notice there was a revolution did the tumbrils roll past her door and tricoteuses sit upon her doorstep.

Sure, says I, was there a revolution I hope I should have sufficient wit to clap a very stylish red cap of liberty upon my head.

Mrs D-K- looks at me, and with some reluctance gives a smile and says, that is a deal more like. But he went about to intimate that there might be reward in it.

O, poo, says I. Has he not yet learnt the lesson that befell that Bavarian fellow that thought I went hide seditious Germanick agitators? I think his reward would be seeing his caricature in Holywell Street windows. Indeed, I go on, I have heard that he goes indulge in laughing-gas, in the hopes of poetic visions: but I think it gives him instead wild hallucinations.

Indeed, she says, he seem’d not entire himself – a little disorder’d in dress &C – a little rambling in speech.

Pray, says I, that his brain is not entire turn’d and he does not end up in Bedlam.

He did say, she goes on, that he dar’d say my late husband had found somewhat out, had he not communicat’d anything to me? was there not anything among his papers? So I told him that his affairs were in such disorder that I had give all his papers to MacD-, at which he groan’d exceedingly.

O, says I, sure must be entire an effect of the gas, tho’ has ever been inclin’d to talk wild.

She sighs and says she confides the old b---h will be stirring from her nap. She stands up, and looks at me for a little, and then blinks and says she must go.

After she has depart’d I go sit gazing into the fire. Did she come warn me? 'Tis a wonder, if so.

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I am sitting in my darling’s family room a little mournfull as I must return to my own house, for I have been at R- House these several days, and to stay much longer would look particular. So Ajax has come with my carriage, bringing Sophy so that she may be about packing up my trunks.

Harry is already on his journey back to Leeds. Sure he seems to take his new understanding of matters within the family unusual calm: I hope this may not be deceptive.

The dear girls, Quintus, Josh, and my precious bundle sit about the room and complain, and beseech me to stay a little longer, and come sit upon my lap and go nuzzle me in the fashion of a sleepy wombatt, and these manifestations of affection are like to make me extreme tearfull.

Meg says, and they had matters about the toy theatre that they wisht to open to me, and have not yet had time, and she and Bess go disclose these to me while my naughty angel desires me to tell her a story of the elephants, and Josh wishes to know whether I should like to go to the menagerie to bid the dear creatures farewell, and Mittens goes wind about my feet, and my darling Eliza looks on and endeavours not to laugh.

Comes in Josiah with a letter in his hand, saying 'tis from Mr D- - no, no, all is well with the works, and he hopes that he may take a few days to go into Shropshire does the weather hold clear - but the main burden of his news is that while Mr A-'s sister came visit him, they have come to a fine agreement of mutual liking and purpose to marry in the summer.

Eliza exclaims that indeed 'tis high time, they have been yearning at one another these several years every time she came visit Mr A-, sure she wonder’d would they ever speak or would one have to manage the matter for them.

I glance over at Bess, that seems a deal less troubl’d about this news than I fear’d. Perchance she goes grow out of her girlish liking for Mr D-.

Comes Sophy, makes a dip, and says my trunks are all now put on the carriage, and we can be gone as soon as maybe.

There is a deal of clamour at this and I am much kisst by the girls and hugg’d by Josh and Quintus, and Flora hangs onto my skirts as if she would hold me from departing, but indeed, I must go. I kiss Eliza in formal manner, shake hands with Josiah, and say, sure 'twill not be long before we are remet: at Sir B- W-'s Twelfth Night party if not before (for as Jacob and Martha S- will not be holding their usual party for the occasion, Sir B- W- and Susannah purpose to hold one for the usual set). I also go promise invite the young people to a chocolate party before long.

Sure I feel a little desolate when I am seat’d in my carriage with Sophy, but 'tis ever agreeable to enter once more my own pretty house, see how excellent everything is in order, be greet’d by Hector, go into my pretty parlour where there is a fine fire blazing, &C.

Tho’ indeed my heart goes sink at the number of letters and cards that lye upon my pretty desk.

Comes Celeste with coffee for which I am most gratefull. I go sit at my desk and go be dutyfull. And indeed, there is a deal less than I fear’d concerning the brangles of the orphanage ladies and others, a deal of invitations, a fine letter from Lady J-, that sounds to be coming about to be entire set up by her stay in Harrogate, a letter from Major W- in Upper Canada that details his extreme fine hunting (sure I hope he does not send me a moose’s head) and mentions that he hears from Captain C-, that sings my praises, and a very fine epistle from Belinda, who gives 'em out most entire prepossesst by the Marquess of O- and that they will be coming to Town, once he has his stables in order, with the exceeding fine cattle they supply to him.

I go look at my invitations, and indeed I find myself very much in Society: indeed there is more society than I could encompass without I creat’d some simulacrum of myself did I accept all of them. (Sure this gives me a notion for a tale, but I should attend to my correspondence.)

Euphemia comes bring me a light nuncheon that I may eat while I am about this business. I ask how their Christmastide was, and she says excellent fine, but that indeed there were glances, and privy communications from Aunty B-. Sure she knows quite well how one gets with child. And Titus, she thought, lookt a little melancholick on account of Tibby’s being at Q-, even tho’ he has a deal of work upon hand at present, which is sure gratifying.

She goes on to tell me how Nell’s family do.

This is all good to hear.

I put down my pen, ring for Hector, and desire him to send Timothy about with the deal of notes I have already writ. I then go get dresst for an afternoon excursion.

Sure, says I to Docket, I am not the one going be dresst by Maurice today, sure 'tis no matter of manifesting my consequence.

Docket gives me a severe look, for she considers I should ever manifest my consequence, which shows off her own.

I take the carriage to N- House, where Lady Anna and Lady Emily are waiting for me in their dear mama’s chamber in a state of great excitement, for I have promis’d them an excursion with an air of mystery.

I clasp Lady N-'s hand and say she is looking well, for indeed there is a little colour in her cheeks and she has a much happyer air than she was wont. She says she will not detain me, for she fears that her dear girls will quite expire from their state of anticipation. I laugh and say, onward!

Sure, says I when the girls are got into the carriage, perchance I should blindfold you, to make the surprize greater? For they go look out of the window and make wild surmizes as to where we are bound.

They have a little air of disappointment when we reach our destination, for indeed Mamzelle Bridgette’s does not openly boast, tho’ 'tis entire well-known to the cognoscenti of fashion and style.

We go up the stairs and Biddy Smith herself comes welcome us, most exceeding gracious, and says that Maurice expects the ladies, and do we go into his fitting room, she will send tea.

O, says Lady Emily, 'tis a fine dressmakers.

Fie, says I, Mamzelle Bridgette is a crack modiste, no common dressmaker.

Lady Anna gives me a look. But, she begins.

My dears, says I, do not go trouble yourselves but come in and let Maurice be at his work.

Lady Anna gives me another look, by which I apprehend that she takes a surmize that the Marquess of O- has gone and made some arrangement. Sure I am quite content to let her believe this for the moment.

Maurice greets them most exceeding civil. I see them a little taken aback at meeting a fellow, and moreover one that displays signs of his Africkan ancestry. I tell them that Maurice is known entire the crack in matters of ladies’ gowns: have they not observ’d his very fine creations for Miss S-?

They both sigh considerable. O, quite the finest things, says Lady Emily.

Indeed, says Maurice, she shows well for good dressing. He then goes walk around the sisters, that giggle somewhat nervous, scrutinizing 'em, and at length says, sure, 'tis no matter of concealing defects, 'twill be entire a matter of showing off to advantage. They both blush a little. He goes on to remark that, as they will know, there are certain rules concerning the dress of unmarry’d ladies, but he is like to think that these will entire favour 'em.

He goes to the door and snaps his fingers and bolts of stuff are borne in. The Earl's daughters are becoming most extreme excit’d. Sure, whispers Lady Emily to her sister, this is not like Aunt Laetitia’s seamstress.

Also comes tea, which we are civilly desir’d to drink well away from the fine stuffs that are being shown about.

There is a deal of discussion and a showing of fine fashion-plates so that they may acquire a notion of the intend’d effect. He confides that there is no particular reason why they should dress alike? – for indeed, altho’ there is a very strong resemblance 'twixt 'em, they are also quite different in their characters, and should be dresst to show that distinction.

They gaze at one another in wonder.

Also, he says, you might persuade your maid to dress your hair differently. He goes show them some plates in La Belle Assemblée to explain his thoughts on the matter.

They are somewhat wore out by the time we leave, but both look most extreme pleas’d at what has been accomplisht. Have been promist that they will have fine new gowns quite entire in time for the ball at M- House, that they have been, they say, quite dreading.

And, says Lady Emily, U- and Eddy have said that 'tis a great bore, but they confide we shall wish to go to Almacks - indeed, one thing Aunt Laetitia did contrive for us was the entrée there – and they will do their brotherly duty and accompany us.

That shows very kind and fraternal, says I.

They beg me to come in and see Mama, she enjoys my visits so much. Why, says I, mindfull that they may go bubble over in their excitement in a manner that may be somewhat tiring to Lady N-, I will come in for a little while.

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Altho’ there is a deal of Society has gone to country house-parties, there are still some that linger in Town, and I go make calls.

The Z-s have prudently conclud’d that in Lady Z-'s present condition 'twould be most imprudent to go into Cornwall, 'twixt the condition of the roads and the state of the weather, so I go call upon her.

'Tis a pretty family tableau: Lady Z- seat’d in a most comfortable chair, observing with smiles Sir H- about some game with their two boys.

They greet me very civil and say they did not expect to see me in Town.

O, says I, indeed I have a deal to be about that may be quite readily accomplisht when Society is so quiet; and sure once the Season is begun there will be no rest.

Lady Z- smiles and says, sure she has a good excuse not to be out at all hours, and not to dance. Perchance, Sir H-, do you go about to all these various revels, Lady B- may allow you a dance or two?

Why, says I, 'tis no hardship to dance with one that is such a master of the art as Sir H-.

I add that I hope their boys will be coming to the fine New Year’s Party for the younger set at R- House.

Indeed, says Sir H-, 'twill be most agreeable for 'em.

He very civil shows me to the door when I rise to go, and remarks upon the on-dit that Lord A- makes suit to me.

O, poo! says I. A fellow shows somewhat attentive at some rout and 'tis put about that the banns are about to be call’d.

Why, says Sir H-, Lord A- has long expresst the opinion that there are few finer women in Society than Lady B-.

I laugh and say, such admiration does not mean he desires me to have and to hold, for richer for poorer &C.

I then proceed to call at N- House, where I am inform’d that sure Lady N- will be pleas’d to see me. I find her in her room with her children about her, all very merry as Lord Geoffrey and his sisters present scenes from Shakspeare for the delight of their mama and their older brothers, or at least to their amuzement.

O, cries Lady Anna, let us cease at once, sure I should quite blush to perform before Lady B-.

Why, says I, you come on not so badly. But, Lady Anna, I mind’d our discourse of Naples, and collect that you had not read Mrs Radcliffe’s fine work The Italian, which gives a most excellent impression of the beauties of those parts.

I hand her over the volume, in which I have conceal’d a letter from the Marquess.

O, Lady B-, cries Lady Anna, that is indeed exceptional kind, I will go put it in some place where 'twill not be damag’d in our romps.

She runs out of the room.

Why, says Lady N-, 'tis a most entire delight to see you, Lady B-: but I cannot suppose that you did not have a deal of invitations to country house parties, how comes it you remain in Town? I hope 'tis no unhappy cause.

Indeed not, says I, but sure I have a deal of matter on hand that I should like to feel I had finisht with before the Season begins.

Ah, says she, I hear all about your good causes and the excellent work you do for 'em. Would that I might be able to help.

Sure, says I, did so well at my drawing-room meeting for the T-s’ fine work in the antipodes that I am able to send them a deal of things they should require and must be about that.

(I do not say that my tale of Cornish wreckers goes turn into a novel, and that I have complet’d a most horrid tale about a carnivorous plant, and have another almost complet’d that owes somewhat to the Marquess’s account of the Doňa Inès, tho’ I bring in an antient Inca curse.)

Lord U- says that he doubts not that Mama would like a little quiet in which to talk to Lady B-, and goes chase the others from the room.

I remark to her what very excellent devot’d children she has and how very fine a filial affection Lord U- manifests.

O, she says, with a little tearfulness, indeed he is an excellent son. But indeed, dear Lady B-, I am pleas’d that we have a little while on our own, for I am very concern’d about my poor little Lou, that declares that she will not go to this fine party that the F-s give at R- House, for all will suppose her some poor relation.

Sure, says I, I was in hopes to have some words with you on that matter. Bess – that is, Elizabeth F-, Miss F- - is most concern’d that Lady Louisa does not have anything suit’d to the occasion, and as they are much of a size, offers to lend her one of her dresses, would it not seem presuming.

Oh, cries Lady N-, clutching at my hand, what a very fine thoughtfull young woman she must be. Sure Lou will ever be singing her praises, but young girls and their fancies – O, how very kind. I hear so much about Bess and Dodo’s fine clothes, and indeed, would greatly like to be able to turn out my own girls so well.

She sighs.

Why, says I, I have a little matter on hand that may come to serve them.

If you can, says she, I will be most infinite gratefull. Sure there is little I may do for my girls, helpless as I am.

I smile and pat her hand. Does Lady Louisa call upon Miss F-, in the next day or so, I confide they will come about to find somewhat for her to wear that will not entire disgrace her.

Comes around New Year’s Eve and the fine party for the younger set that has not yet been introduc’d into Society. Sure this is a deal of young people, from Sukey W- - Sir B- and Lady W- having return’d to Town from Somerset – that is quite the youngest, up to Harry, that doubtless feels himself somewhat too old for such a matter, but will go oblige the young ones.

My darling jewel is most exceeding excit’d, perchance a little too much so: Eliza sighs and says she doubts not there will be tears before bedtime. But then we look at our pretty darling and how very prettily she is array’d and smile exceeding.

Josh is a little put about that he may not bring in the wombatt and the badger, as he confides that there are fellows would greatly like to see 'em, but is prevail’d upon to consider that neither of his darlings is greatly given to society and would probably show sullen and unamiable.

However, he is gratify’d when young Master O’C- says he has heard of these wondrous creatures, and the Z- boys overhear. Josh therefore takes a small and select party to view his menagerie.

Tom O-, however, is far more interest’d in discoursing of steam with Harry, that shows entire delight’d to converse of such matters. I daresay they will go become quite sworn brothers.

Bellairs shows extreme admiring of Bess, and goes about to endeavour to impress her with the tales of the society his family moves in, the very fine hunting he has late enjoy’d, &C.

Meg goes play the piano so that the little ones may play musickal chairs & such-like games: 'tis very pretty-behav’d of her.

After 'tis time that the little ones go home or to bed, some very mild punch is serv’d to the older ones, and then they begin play blind man’s buff, somewhat romping.

Miss N- says is it desir’d to have dancing, she will be quite delight’d to play for 'em, for she doubts not Meg would rather dance.

’Tis thoughtfull, says Eliza, but first they go play hide and seek. Sure even do we set limits to where they may go hide, this is a quite excellent place for the game.

We watch the young people, and then comes Patty, to say Miss Flora is in one of her takings with the excitement.

Why, says my darling, I daresay a little while with her sleepy wombatt would be like to soothe her spirits.

Patty says she does not wish to disturb Lady B- for that naughty child –

Why, says I, 'tis no trouble to me. So I go to the nursery, where there is my fretfull little angel, sitting up in bed, red-fac’d and crying angry tears. How now, says I, is this how a sleepy wombatt behaves?

Sure my precious jewel is in fractious mood, and at first shows disclin’d to lye down and will not concede to be cuddl’d or kisst, but folds her little arms and says No! Why, says I, is there no sleepy wombatt here, perchance I should go. But then a little hand grasps at my sleeve, and little by little she is brought to lye down and manifest the behaviour proper to a sleepy wombatt, and at length she sleeps. I give her one last kiss, and step away.

As I go down the stairs I see that there is a couple in the shadow’d spot under the staircase. I take another look to make sure all is well and nothing untoward afoot.

I observe that they kiss, and there is no struggling or attempt at evasion so I am like to think 'tis a welcome thing.

O, Bess, says the young fellow – sure, 'tis not Bellairs, 'tis Tom O- - what a bang-up girl you are.

There is a little giggle and Bess says, sure you are none too bad, for a boy. But let us go see can we get back to the parlour without being caught.

I see that they take one another’s hand to do so.

When I return to the parlour, where a little snack of cakes is being serv’d before the dancing, I look over and see Bess looking very pleas’d with herself. For indeed, I confide that she finds that there is something very agreeable in being admir’d, and have Tom O- bring her a plate with the nicest cakes he can find, and in general manifest a boyish liking. Bellairs goes look somewhat sullen.

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

We are perchance somewhat sober’d by this occurrence, but still my darlings come to my fine reserv’d chamber and say that sure there cannot be the least objection to their demonstrating their fine affection to one that is such a friend of the family.

Fie, says Eliza, a kiss or so under a kissing bunch, what harm could there be?

But I think she talks to convince herself.

But next morn I cannot linger to find out what’s afoot – should there be any matter afoot – for Ajax comes with my carriage so that I may go distribute boxes to my household on this day consecrate to that business.

'Tis entire agreeable to see my good people and to reward them for their excellent service.

Ajax tells me that young Nick, that is Nell’s younger brother, shows very eager come help him in the stables. Has a pretty hand with horses already.

Why, says I, 'tis I daresay better that he learns somewhat of the trade here rather than at the livery stables, for I confide that there are a deal of coarse fellows frequent them that are no good company for a boy of his years (for I suppose him to be about the same age as Josh, tho’ not so well grown). Do you find that you could use the help, I can see no objection. But I daresay one should go open the matter to his parents?

Ajax conveys to me, I am not sure entirely how, for he does not go be explicit, that 'twould entire embarrass 'em did I go myself, and that he will be about the matter. He is like to suppose that they would entire be delight’d did we just give him his keep: 'twould be a great easing of the family budget.

I say perchance I should convoke with Hector upon the matter. Ajax nods.

Hector thinks 'tis an excellent notion: Timothy has been wont to give an occasional hand in the stable, but sure he has other duties to keep him occupy’d and out of mischief. We may see how Nick answers. He dares say that Ajax’s consequence among those that deal with horses will most greatly prepossess the boy’s parents.

Why, indeed, says I, between those that desire his inside knowledge concerning the turf, and those that seek his skills in horse-doctoring, there is a deal of coming and going to our stableyard.

Hector smiles somewhat and says, 'tis so. He confides that it provides us with usefull interest.

It does so, says I. Do you or Ajax have any occasion to get into more general converse with that fellow from N- House that is ever here about some difficulty they are having with their cattle, perchance you might offer him a mug of ale or so, even a snack of Euphemia’s very fine bread and cheese: for I should be most entire interest’d to hear any intelligence from belowstairs in that establishment. For there seems a deal of not-rightness there.

Hector nods. I apprehend that he understands me.

And, says I, before I return to R- House, I hope all is well 'twixt you and Euphemia?

Hector smiles exceedingly and says, yes, indeed, Your Ladyship. Some of our connexion go wonder that we do not yet see increase: 'tis most interfering of 'em, for 'tis entire none of their business.

(I conceal my amuzement that Hector resents this, when he is so put about concerning matters within his connexion that go not to his liking.)

Well, says I, removing the indignant Pounce and Dandy from their comfortable place in my lap, sure I should be about returning to R- House.

Hector clears his throat and says, should the F- boys desire a little instruction in the pugilistick art, he would be entire happy to come to R- House and convey it to 'em.

Why, says I, I confide they would quite jump up and down at the prospect – save perchance Harry would think it beneath his dignity to do so - and I will go open this kind offer at R- House.

Hector remarks that he hears that these northern industrial places are exceeding rough and 'twould be entire advizable for Master Harry to have some knowledge of the art.

I daresay 'tis so, says I.

When I am return’d to R- House, I go walk up and down a little in the conservatory, for I feel a deal of shyness coming upon me.

However, I find myself not in the solitude I anticipat’d to find, for there is the scent of a fine cigar being smok’d and I discover Sandy, that looks out onto the gardens, where Josh, in spite of the chill, goes romp with the wombatt.

I know not how it may be, says he, but somehow I am like to suppose that you are in the frets.

I snort a little, but indeed, he is not wrong in this surmize.

Harry, he goes on, seems somewhat perturb’d the morn –

I sigh deeply.

Dear silly creature, I confide he saw nothing as startling as a certain scene I once walkt in upon –

Indeed he did not! says I, somewhat indignant.

- and sure I do not go indulge in speculation concerning your intimacies with the F-s –

I scowl at him somewhat ferocious.

- but there is an entire admirable affection and devotion that one may observe 'twixt the three of you.

O, says I, finding myself somewhat tearfull.

Indeed, says Sandy with a slight smile, I was somewhat tempt’d to expatiate upon the matter of the conventions of society, the relations of the sexes, &C, but I refrain’d, and merely remarkt upon the excellent friendship that exists between his parents and yourself, that you are quite the general favourite of the family, and that perchance he should take his concerns to his mother.

'Twas indeed thoughtfull of you, says I.

Dear sibyl, I hope I am entire aware of what we owe you.

O, poo, says I. Let us not talk of owing and debts.

I confide, says he, that you are a deal more utopian in your thoughts than Herr P- is ever like to be.

Tush, says I, I am but a foolish uneducat’d creature, that is oblig’d to live in the world as it is, and not go build a new one in some wilderness. But I have good friends. However, my dear, let us not become mawkish.

I sigh. For indeed I should not dilly-dally here, but go comport myself as becomes an Englishwoman.

I go into the house. One of the footmen says that the mistress has said that when I return to the house, I am desir’d to go to her study.

So I go up to my darling’s family room, where she sits alone, in one of the chairs, looking contemplative.

Dearest, says I, you askt that I should come here?

She takes my hand and presses a kiss upon it.

Loveliest of C-s, she says, sure there is no need to be in the frets. I have disclos’d a little family history to Harry, for indeed he is of an age that he should know, and while I daresay 'twill come to him a little strange, he goes see, I confide, what a very beautifull thing you did for us, and that we are quite natural most exceeding gratefull, and that you are also extreme glad that our precious darling has such a fine family –

I sit plump down in a chair vis-à-vis. You told him about Flora?

Why, our very dearest, I confide that he had already observ’d that there is a certain likeness: and while there are those more generally in society may suppose that our pretty bundle takes after some relative of that colouring, Harry knows that there are none such on either side. He has also observ’d the very pretty fondness that lyes 'twixt the pair of you.

But –

And Josiah now goes talk with him man-to-man.

Sure I am quite entire dumbstruck.

Eliza leans over and takes my hand. Also, she says, I am like to suppose that to one of Harry’s years, it must seem entire the case that with such ag’d creatures as we are, the heyday in the blood is tame, whatever passages there may once have been.

Why, Mrs F-, says I, 'twixt laughter and tears, sure you should write a novel.

My very dearest of C-s, you do know that we should love you quite extreme even was there no matter of our little jewel?

Why, says I, sure I am a shocking untrusting C-, but sometimes, when I am in despondent mood, I am wont to wonder whether my dear ones fear I may take her away and go placate me…

Do we not, says Eliza somewhat dry, have somewhat similar concerns? O, we are a foolish three, are we not?

Sure, says I, would my heart not be entire broke was I cut off from the dear girls, from Josh and Quintus and Harry?

O, says Eliza with a little twist of the lips, sure I could not bear the inquisition, the entire chorus of whys, did we see Aunty C- no more.

We look at one another and laugh a little tho’ our eyes are somewhat damp.

Why, says I, I think I shall go and see our naughty angel.

So, I go to the nursery, and Patty says, sure 'tis an entire liberty, but is My Ladyship here, am I like to stay for a little while, while she goes to the laundry room?

Why, says I, 'twould be an entire pleasure.

Flora greatly desires her tiger and we have a fine romp – sure I daresay Patty goes gossip with the laundry-maids – and then I go sit upon the floor while she shows me how very well she can count.

The door opens and comes in Harry. O, he says, colouring a little, I did not know you were return’d –

Flora jumps and up and runs to him and he picks her up and swings her a little. They smile at one another.

Why, says I, I have a message for you and your brothers, that do you desire, Hector would quite gladly come give you a little instruction in the pugilistick art.

O, prime! cries Harry, and indeed I mind that 'tis not long since he was a schoolboy. And then grows more serious and says, You are very good to us.

O, poo, says I, who would not be?

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