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 Eleventh 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

Volume the Ninth

Volume the Tenth

Volume the Eleventh

A key to the numerous characters may be found in this post, and [personal profile] threeringedmoon has created a GoogleDocs version that can be downloaded here.

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 would also desire to remark that her devot'd amanuensis is about revizing this chronicle with a view to eradicating errours and making it more widely available to the cognoscenti. The amanuensis says, watch this space.

Madem C- 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)

Please do let yr humble amanuensis know if there are any omissions or queries.

Volume 1

Madame C- C-: Clorinda Cathcart, the memoirist

Her household: Hector (Wilson), her black manservant; Seraphine (Pyecroft), his mixed-race cousin, the cook; (Thomasina) Docket, a lady's maid; Phoebe, Hector's sister, the housemaid, later advanced to housekeeper; Tibby (Phillips), a housemaid who aspires to become a lady's maid; Euphemia (Bennett), kitchen-maid; Prue (Brown), under-housemaid; Titus (Marshall), Hector's nephew, odd-job boy

The Reverend Mr A-: The Reverend Mr Armitage, parson in the London parish where Clorinda resides

Miss A-: Amelia Addington, actress

Bellamy: Lady Wallace’s lady’s maid

Miss B-: the late Miss Billston, a distant cousin of Lady Jane Beaufoyle, and her lover, a talented amateur composer

Mrs (‘Aunty’) Black: a midwife

*Mr B-: Mr Boxtell, a banker

Mamzelle Bridgette, a supposedly French modiste, real name Biddy Smith, an old friend of Docket

Mr C-: Mr Carter, surgeon to the antipodean expedition

Miss D-: Miss Daniels, a gossip of the demimonde

Mr de C-: Raoul de Cleraut, painter of French émigré origin

Dorcas (Chapman): a cousin to several in Clorinda’s household, maid to Miss Addington

The dreadfull crocodile: Old Lady Wallace, mother to Sir Barton Wallace

M. Duval: Lord Raxdell’s chef de cuisine

The Earl of E-: The Earl of Erringe, an elderly and debauched nobleman

Mr E-: Mr Evenden, FRS, a chemist

*Mr F-: Josiah Ferraby, ironmaster and civic improver; married to Eliza Ferraby; children Harry, Elizabeth (Bess), Margaret (Meg), Josiah (Josh) and Quintus

Frederique: Lord Raxdell’s valet

Mr G-: Mr Gaffney, a second-rate tragedian

Miss G-: Abigail Gowing, a courtesan, dear friend of Clorinda and a noted gamester

Mr G- D-: Mr Gordon Duncan, a singer

*Mr H-: Mr Hacker, FRCS, surgeon, anatomist and man-midwife

*Sir V- H-: Sir Vernon Horrobin, of the Embassy at Washington,

Lady J-: Lady Jane Beaufoyle, sister to the Duke of Mulcaster

*Mr J-: Mr Harold (formerly Hywel) Jenkins, an actor-manager

Dr J-: Dr Jessop, a physician at Harrogate

*Admiral, formerly Captain, K-: Admiral Knighton, RN

The K-s: the Knowles family: Miss Viola Knowles (little V), her twin brother Sebastian, her father, a wealthy City businessman, her mother, her elder half-sister Miss (Martha) Knowles, engaged to Jacob Samuels

Miss L-: Miss Lewis, a professional pianist, devoted friend of Miss McKeown

Madame Lisette, born Bessie Wilcox, another supposedly French modiste

Mr MacD-: Alexander MacDonald, MA, Sandy, secretary to Lord R-

Miss McK-: Miss McKeown, a professional singer, devoted friend of Miss Lewis, kept by Mr Boxtell

Duke of M-: see Lord S-

Maggy: Miss Addington’s dresser

Miss M-: Miss Minton, an actress

The Reverend Mr M-: Mr Morrison, headmaster of a boys’ school attended by the elder Ferraby boys

Mr N-: Mr Nixon, of the Home Office

Mrs O’C-: Mrs O’Callaghan, an Irish supposed widow, neé Mary Theresa O’Grady; Mr O’C-: Mr O’Callaghan, her scoundrel husband

Mr O’D-: Mr O’Donnell, a gentleman about Town with aspirations to Miss Lewis’s favours, under treatment by Mr Hacker for an unmentionable disease

*Mr P-: Mr Pargiter, a dramatic critic who publishes under the style of Aristarchus

Lord P-: The Earl of Pockinford, famed connoisseur of cows

Mr Q-: Mr Quennell, an attorney

*Lord R-: Gervase Reveley, Viscount Raxdell; aka Milord, G

*Mr R-/Sir Z- R-: Mr Robinson, RA, a painter, subsequently Sir Zoffany Robinson

*Lord S-, subsequently Duke of M-: Beaufoyle Beaufoyle, Lord Sallington, heir to the Duke of Mulcaster, succeeds on his father’s sudden death: Biffle to his intimates

Mr S-: Mr (Jacob) Samuels, a Jewish geologist affianced to the elder Miss Knowles

Miss T-: Miss (Katherine) Thorne, a not so very young lady having a London Season, a friend of Susannah Wallace

The Reverend Mr T-: Mr (Thomas) Thorne, a clergyman with scientific and mathematical interests

Signor V-: Signor Vivanti, an Italian violinist and patron of Miss Lewis

*Sir B- W-: Sir Barton Wallace, MP, man about town and gamester, a quondam favourite of Clorinda but enjoying the favours of Miss Gowing prior to his marriage to Lady (Susannah) Wallace

*Major W-: Major (Arbuthnot) Wallace, a cousin of Sir Barton Wallace, lately serving at the Cape

Williams: the Duchess of Mulcaster's lady’s maid

*General Y-: General Yeomans, of the Honourable East India Company’s Madras forces, retired

An as yet unnamed journeyman printer (Alf)

A wombatt, initially in the possession of Mr Thorne, but given by him to Sir Zoffany Robinson before setting out on the antipodean expedition

Volume 2: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 3: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 4: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 5: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 6: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 7: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 8: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 9: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 10: Changes in station and new characters )


Volume 11: Changes in station and new characters )


*Gentlemen who have enjoyed, or supposedly enjoyed, Clorinda’s professional favours at some time or other

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

I've been giving some thought to titles for the different volumes, and what motifs might be suitable for a cover design along with a fan. Here are some preliminary suggestions:

Volume 1: The Comfortable Courtesan. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that has been a Lady of the Demi-Monde these several years)
Cover: fan + wombatt

Volume 2: The Comfortable Courtesan: Exile from Town. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that has been a Lady of the Demi-Monde these several years)
Cover: fan + quill in inkpot

Volume 3: The Comfortable Courtesan : A Change of Station. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + coronet

Volume 4: The Comfortable Courtesan: Storming Society. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + domino mask

Volume 5: The Comfortable Courtesan: A Drama of Rival Mistresses. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + cello

Volume 6: The Comfortable Courtesan: Domestic Disruptions. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + horse*

Volume 7: The Comfortable Courtesan: A Favourite in Society. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + swan

Volume 8: The Comfortable Courtesan: A Death at a House Party. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + hatpin

Volume 9: The Comfortable Courtesan: Romantic Stratagems. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + lace and bobbins

Volume 10: The Comfortable Courtesan: An Honourable Estate. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + mongoose

Volume 11: The Comfortable Courtesan: A Deal of Visits. Being MEMOIRS by Clorinda Cathcart (that was a Lady of the Demi Monde for some several years, and is now elevat’d to aristocratick rank)
Cover: fan + pistol

Your opinions are solicited.

*I did think maybe just a riding crop, but that might imply a misleading message…

the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)
Eliza Ferraby looks where she has just written: ‘Sure I have nigh fallen in love with Lady Jane’. 'Tis a mere manner of speaking about a lady one finds entire after one’s own heart, with her fine herb-garden and well-equipped stillroom, her remarkable skill in dairy matters. Simply means one is greatly prepossessed by her. And yet, when Lady Jane talks of the late Miss Billston, there seems, Eliza frowns, she knows not what, but more than the affection due a cousin. But now she writes to Clorinda, and recalls those laughing blue eyes; and feels a curious inward flutter.
the_comfortable_courtesan: image of a fan c. 1810 (Default)

Thanks to the kind services of [personal profile] clanwilliam, the collated versions of

Volume the Tenth: episodes 'Matters get on at O- House' to 'Comes round once more Derby Day'

Volume the Eleventh: episodes 'A brief return to my own pretty house' to 'A hint at my stylish red cap of liberty'

are now available by way of GoogleDocs.

Any particular appreciation may be expresst as usual by way of PayPal.

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

There will be some continuation of the adventures of Lady B- and her coterie in due course.

There may also be a small treat or two in the interim.

Please feel free to talk among yourselves or ask questions in the comments.

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

Sure 'twas entire foolish in me to suppose that Docket would concede to be left behind. For her own consequence she will not let me go among foreigners without she is there to ensure that I am dresst in such a fashion as to demonstrate my own consequence and that of my nation. She also says that, altho’ indeed she confides that Sophy comes on very well, do I not recall the low superstitious way in which Hector and Euphemia were regard’d whilst we were at the villa? Sure she is agreeable to taking Sophy, 'twill be good experience and a treat for her, and indeed, she will admit that 'tis prudent to have one that will take the heavyer matters from her own hands, and she would not be trusting any of those Italians with the matter.

I sigh, but will permit myself to be persuad’d, and go send to the apothecary for a good supply of her drops, that I have packt up very carefull to secure from damage upon our travels.

I cannot bear write to all to say that I am leaving, but send Timothy around to a deal of places with my card saying PPC. Tho’ there are still letters that I must send, even are they dew’d with my tears as with the one I must indite to my darlings. To those to whom it would be entire incivil in the light of our friendship not to write at least a note, I express myself in such terms that I hope that 'twill be give out that may be some matter of health that takes me out of Town.

Indeed there are matters on hand that I am sorry to have to leave before the final act, yet I think the concerns I had over the Earl of N-'s family are resolv’d, that Lord and Lady D- are on restor’d terms of conjugal amity, that Agnes S- is in fine way to marry Mr L-, and that the matter of Miss N-'s marriage is also under hand.

I am still much distresst by the breach that has arisen with Sandy, but I consider that 'tis entire for the best that I go away and do not attempt repair it until he has quite thoroughly cogitat’d upon the matter and I daresay goes discuss it in suitable discreet anonymous terms with his philosophickal set.

Hector I think is mind’d to say he should come with me, but I am not oblig’d to go argue with him that I shall be entire well-defend’d in the Contessa’s train, and that when I come to Naples I am in entire confidence that Marcello’s stiletto will be entire at my disposal.

For one morn I go down to the kitchen to convoke with Euphemia as to whether there be any matters she wishes me convey to Guiseppina, or things she would desire me send her from Naples, and also to say that she should not stint the household while I am gone – tho’ I do not think she would – and that I confide that she will not let our fine reputation for generosity lapse (tho’ now Nell’s father is back upon his feet, tho’ still must employ a stick when walking, their household is in less want).

I find her there seat’d at the kitchen table frowning at a cup of tea.

How now, Euphemia, says I, I hope I do not distract you from some matter.

O no, Your Ladyship, says Euphemia, getting up to make a dip and then rushing most incontinent into the yard.

She returns looking an ashy colour and says, she comes to the apprehension that she goes with child, adding that sure that will put a stop to the questioning and the gossiping among their connexion.

O, Euphemia, says I, I am pleas’d to hear it, if you are.

She smiles a little and says, o, indeed, it feels that 'tis the time. And will go visit Aunty Black once the queasyness goes off, this very day.

So there is very considerable reason why Hector should remain in Town. Tho’ a few days later, after Euphemia has told him their news, she sighs and says, mayhap My Ladyship should take him, for he goes fuss over her like an old hen. But I see that she looks pleas’d at it.

All is nigh on in readyness for departure, and I am in my parlour looking over my books in consideration of what I might take with me – perchance 'twould be an occasion to take another essay at Tristram Shandy? – when comes Hector with a card on the silver tray.

’Tis the Earl of I- comes a-calling.

There is a chill runs down my spine, but I say that I am at home to His Lordship.

Hector shows him in, I curtesy, and say, will he take tea, or should he prefer somewhat a little stronger?

He says that tea will suffice.

I wave him into a chair, and go sit vis-à-vis, and ask after Lady I- while we wait for Celeste to come with tea, that she does most expeditious with the best company set.

I pour out, and then sit back with my own cup and ask to what I owe the pleasure of this visit?

He looks at me, looks over to see is the door shut, and says, he understands that Mr R- O- had some dealings with me.

La, says I, call’d upon me a time or two, seem’d to suppose I was a deal better acquaint’d with Mr W- Y- than I was and would know what had come to him.

The Earl puts cup and saucer down upon the table and says, let us not finesse about the matter, Lady B-, I am appriz’d of the business in which Mr R- O- endeavour’d obtain your cooperation.

I remain silent.

Mr R- O-, he goes on, has disappear’d from his usual haunts, and has not left any messages by way of the usual channels to say what he might be about, so we are in some concern about him.

He pauses. Mr O-, he continues, tho’ a fine dedicat’d servant of his country’s interests, was given to some excess of zeal in pursuing 'em, and in particular would sometimes employ means that, however material to the good of the nation, were somewhat deplorable.

Say you so!

And was inclin’d to take maggots of the mind concerning hidden seditious matters in places one would not suspect. 'Tis not entire unlike that they turn’d his brain and he has become a complete Tom o’Bedlam that wanders the roads having forgot his own name. Tho’ I am more like to suppose that he fell foul of one that he endeavour’d persuade to his ends.

I say nothing.

He was very close when he was on the trail, there was as 'twere a jealousy that some other might take his prize, but I knew that he took an interest in you, Lady B-.

(Oh that I had a fan in my hands to play with.)

But, he says, to my mind, and especial now I have spoke of you with Sir Vernon H-, I am mind’d to suppose Mr O- was very ill-adviz’d endeavouring apply his wont’d means of persuasion, rather than appealing to your sense of patriotick duty. For has been observ’d, Your Ladyship, that you not only have a very fine way of eliciting confidences, you also have very keen apprehension of what such confidences might import.

La, Lord I-, you go flatter me considerable! I cry. But indeed, I confide that I am as patriotick an Englishwoman as ever was, but perchance – for I am an uneducat’d creature that had my learning such as 'twas out of plays - I have a different notion of patriotism to you.

He looks at me somewhat puzzl’d.

(I think 'tis time to hint at the stylish red cap of liberty in my closet.)

I daresay, says I, that there are those suppose that tho’ a deal of my circle are of a reforming and even radickal tendency, that I associate with 'em out of pure womanly affection and antient friendship to fellows that were kind and generous to me when I did not enjoy the state I now do. But, Your Lordship, I have kept house these some several years, and my opinions upon domestick arrangements are very well consider’d and my advice will be askt –

He frowns.

And sure, does one keep house, one wishes be secure behind one’s own front door. But one does not say, o, the house has ever been thus and so, will keep it entire as 'twas first built. Even does one not make enormous changes, such as knocking rooms together or throwing out a wing, there are things need be done. Daresay you will have heard what condition B- House was in when the present Marquess was convey’d to a fine madhouse. Sure, there were those might have said, let us knock it down entirely and build a fine new house in the most modern style, and there may have been those would have said, leave it be. But indeed, there has been work undertaken, and 'tis still the fine house it first was, but has the benefits of modern improvements –

I daresay, says I, that you do not have to deal with kitchen matters, or servants, but indeed, a fine modern range is a deal better than an open hearth and poses less risque of fire and a scullery-maid that has a proper bed will be better rest’d and handyer about her tasks than if she was oblig’d sleep beneath the kitchen table.

I am a foolish soft-heart’d creature mayhap, uninstruct’d, a mere woman with an entire feminine mind, but I have the same opinions about nations.

But, says I, rising to my feet, which obliges him to do the like, as I daresay you have heard, the Contessa di S- has been most pressing in inviting me to go with her to Naples, and indeed there are reasons concerning my late husband’s property in those parts why 'twould be sensible for me to do so. And at present I am very beset with the business of getting ready to depart and having my affairs in order –

The Earl bows over my hand and says, he will not press me, but let me consider over the matter, and mayhap we may talk again when I return from Naples.

I make civil but do not say yea or nay to this proposition.

After he has gone I go flop plump down in my chair with a feeling of exceeding relief. But I am very glad that I shall be out of the country for some several months.

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

Sure one would suppose, from Shakspeare, that I should sleep very ill, if at all, and perchance go sleep-walking. But I do not even have my old nightmare of that creeping mad thing; instead, I do not recollect the whole of the dream, but I was walking in a meadow of flowers with my sweet child and Eliza.

Sophy comes with my chocolate and says that Docket says that I was sleeping so peacefull should not be woken.

'Tis curious. But sure, I did not go slay a king in order to advance my own ambitions, mayhap makes a difference?

And when I go wash, I do not cry out upon imaginary spots of blood, but look at my hands, that Docket and Sophy keep so smooth and white, in the water and wonder whether 'twas entire a dream that I shot Mr R- O- and caus’d him to be convey’d to Mr H-'s dissecting-room.

I wonder even more whether 'twas so when I go down to my parlour and find all entire restor’d to what it ever was, the floor clean and polisht and the rugs laid down, the dust-sheets all gone, one would not suppose it the scene of an assassination.

Celeste comes and sets my breakfast, and shows no apprehension that this morning is different from any other morn, and Euphemia has sent up a fine array that I find myself able to do justice to. And after I have breakfast’d comes Dorcas to say she purposes go to Dolly Mutton’s and do I have anything to send or any messages.

La, says I, I am in anticipation of some remuneration for my horrid tales, but have not receiv’d it yet. When it comes will send it at once.

Dorcas makes her dip and leaves.

I look at the letters upon my pretty desk, that I had no mind to attend to yestere’en, and think I must be about 'em. And sure, there is no sign in my parlour of what went forth. Yet, now I have such a fine library that I have hardly yet gone into, mayhap I will take my letters and deal with my correspondence there.

So I ring for Hector and tell him that that is what I purpose, and should there be any callers, tho’ at this season I think it unlikely, they may be shown there.

He says that he takes a thought that tho’ they have shift’d a deal of my books to the shelves there, they may not be arrang’d entire as I should like and I may desire rearrange 'em.

This is a task that strikes me as a pleasing prospect.

So I go thro’ the connecting door, and up the staircase, and into my fine library, and indeed it pleases me mightily to see the shelves and my books, and a press or two for papers, and the comfortable chairs, and a fine desk that one might work at, already equippt with pens and ink and paper and sealing-wax and sand-shaker.

And I turn to my letters, that I only glanc’d thro’ to see was there any ill news, so that I may read 'em more thoroughly. 'Tis entire delightfull to read how well Phoebe is and how flourishing Lucile. And to have a fine letter from the Admiral and Lady J- in the Mediterranean, and also news of my friends that spend the summer in Harrogate, and from Mrs N- in Margate.

I am at last turning to the letter from my dearest ones, that I save until last, when I hear footsteps upon the stairs and Hector shows in Sandy.

My dear! I cry, I had no notion you were in Town, suppos’d you still about your philosophickal perambulations. Sure you look very well for 'em.

He says 'twas indeed exceeding agreeable, but looks less chearfull than I might have suppos’d he would.

Comes almost immediate Celeste with coffee and shortbreads. I pour us both coffee and desire him to help himself to shortbread.

There is a little silence, I pour him a second cup, and at length he says, intend’d come anyway with the payment for your tales, but Matt Johnson came by early the morn, said there had been a troublesome matter here last night.

Indeed, says I, but the upshot is, that Mr R- O- has been remov’d from play.

Sandy looks at me and says, What? how? For how long?

O, says I, for ever, a permanency, stone-dead.

What! I see him consider a little and say, did Hector - ?

No, says I, I would not put the matter upon Hector, I did it myself.

You mean he was confident enough to take somewhat from your hands?

No, says I, was most incivil about refusing food or drink. I shot him, with Milord’s little pistol.

You shot him? Sandy rises and paces over to the window.

He threaten’d Flora, says I.

You shot him?

He threaten’d Flora, says I, and did not even consider that 'twas she he put in harm’s way to bring me to the betrayal of my friends.

I rise from my chair and go over to stand by him. Had contriv’d, I go on, to discover that I was in Surrey when 'twas give out I was at Carlsbad, and that I bore a child there. Sure he got the tale by somewhat of the wrong end – suppos’d the F-s took her in in return for interest and advancement – that the father was someone entire different. And was in great confidence that I should wish conceal my disgrace.

As if I should care for my own disgrace! But I will not have the world look upon Flora as the bastard daughter of a w---e. And I would not go betray the secrets I hold in return for his silence, that I did not in the least trust, would have gone hold it over me to bring me to serve his ends forever I daresay.

Sandy looks at me in silence.

At length he says, The secrets you hold…

Had I not seen how he went about with Mr W- Y- and Mr W- Y-'s poet friend that shot himself? Would find somewhat discreditable that one would not wish reveal’d, so that one would go ferret out the secrets he looks for, that indeed I consider’d entire figments but that he continu’d believe must exist.

Ah, says Sandy, looking somewhat sick. Or those things that one may not consider discreditable, but that the law and society deems abominable and unnatural?

Entirely so, my dear.

He paces up and down. After some while he says, 'Twas not some accident? You did not endeavour threaten him and shoot him because he startl’d you or somewhat of the kind?

I go sit down. 'Twas entire deliberate and carefully plann’d, says I. In cold blood. I could see no other way of stopping him.

Sandy comes sit down again. But what of the body?

Mr H- is give out once more to be obtaining bodies by hugger-mugger means, no questions askt, for his dissecting-room.

There is a long silence as he scrutinizes the carpet at his feet.

Finally, he says, C-, you have been my dearest friend this long while, but I feel that I discover a stranger in your place.

No, says I, I am the same silly creature as ever was: perchance was I cleverer and better-educat’d I might have come at some other less mortal device to halt him.

Why, he says, I cannot come at anything. One might have contriv’d to trepan him to distant parts, but was a cunning fellow that might yet return, and with vengeance in his heart –

Indeed, says I, the like occurr’d to me.

- but I am not sure I could have been bl- -

I hold up my hand. No Scottish play, says I.

He stands up. I should be a brute was I not gratefull to you on more than my own behalf. But, dear C-, this revelation leaves me in an entire turmoil of mind. I need to go –

Of course, my dear, you are ever free to go.

I hear him go somewhat stumbling down the stairs, and feel a little tearfull. 'Tis a sad thing do I lose that easy friendship we have enjoy’d this long while.

But sure 'tis a heavy thing I have done.

I sigh. But I must be about writing my letters and must let my darlings know that this piece has been remov’d from the board.

I must express this somewhat discreet and covert, but I am like to think that they will take my meaning after the discourse we had of the matter while I was with 'em.

I long for 'em very, very much, and also for my sweet darling child, and yet –

I sand and seal my letters and ring for Hector so that he may go send Timothy to post 'em.

And as he comes in I take another thought.

Hector, says I, do you know whether the Contessa has yet left Town to return to Naples?

He says he believes not.

Why, says I, I will go call upon her afore she does.

So I have myself dresst for making calls, and take my carriage, and indeed the footman at her door informs me that she is at home and will be delight’d to see Lady B-.

I find her at her desk, about some matter that I suspect has to do with cyphers. She turns and removes her spectacles and looks at me.

And I find myself throwing myself to my knees to go sob in her lap, as she strokes my hair, and makes soothing noises in Italian.

I look up at length, and say, dear Contessa, may I come with you to Naples? Oh no, says I, as she scrutinizes me, I do not think I am suspect’d, the matter was dispatcht most extreme discreet, but –

Even so, she says, may be prudent to be out of the country for a little while, and a change of scene and company is ever good for the spirits. How soon might you be prepar’d to depart?

Why, says I, as soon as maybe. Daresay 'twill take me longer to persuade Docket that she should not accompany me than to be all packt and ready.

She rises and kisses me and says, 'twill be an entire pleasure to have my company for the journey and in Naples.

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

'Tis indeed most exceeding agreeable to pass this time out of Town and away from my customary concerns, but I must return to my own place and the troubles that beset me. Belinda embraces me very warm and Captain P- squeezes my hand very firm, and say that they will be sending my sweet Jezzie-girl very shortly, for they have other cattle to bring to Town.

So off we drive and arrive back at my own pretty house that I love so much and that shows the care that has been took while I have been away, and I look upon it with tears starting to my eyes, for I am a foolish creature.

Hector greets me looking very sober and says, he is of the opinion that the house is being watcht again and has consult’d with Mr Johnson, that confides that 'tis so, and goes about to see can he come at what’s ado.

He pauses and says, he dares say 'tis some matter to do with that sneaking fellow, and, My Ladyship, his pugilistick art is ever at my disposal, and he knows a blow or two that would put an end to the nuisance.

Oh, Hector, says I, 'tis a most thoughtfull offer and I am exceeding toucht, but I confide 'twill not be requir’d of you.

I go into my parlour and look about and say, did you have any chimney-sweep come call while I was away?

Hector gives somewhat of a snort and says, had the chimneys swept a while ago.

Why, says I, you will think I am a foolish whimsickal creature, but I should desire you to take out the rugs and put dust-sheets about the parlour as if we had sent for a sweep and wisht to be in readyness.

He looks at me and says, as Your Ladyship desires.

He goes, and I go take my traveling desk over to the pretty desk that dear Josiah had made for me, and begin transfer the contents of one to t’other.

Comes Euphemia with tea.

I sit down in one of the easy-chairs and find that the cup that chears fails somewhat of its purpose when I take it.

I am in some supposition that Mr R- O- takes a fear I may levant, or may even have done so already.

Dorcas, Prue and Timothy come and roll up the rugs and take 'em out, and then cover all but my desk and two chairs with dust-sheets and leave more drap’d about that they may put on in due course. They look at me somewhat sidelong but say nothing.

Celeste comes with a nice little supper for me, but I find I have little appetite. I take a small sanitive glass of madeira.

'Tis some while on of the e’en when there is a knock at the door and Hector comes in with the expression of one that with great effort restrains himself from the use of the pugilistick art, saying that Mr R- O- would desire come speak to you, Your Ladyship,.

O, says I, send him in.

He comes in and looks about and sees the dust-sheets and raises his eyebrows. I am like to think he supposes I go close the place up with the intention of leaving.

La, says I in pettish tones, did you ever hear of so ill-manag’d a household? Here have I been away over a se’ennight when they could have had the sweep in any day, but no, he comes the morn, is’t not the greatest inconvenience? But do sit down, would you care for some brandy? Tea?

Thank you, no, says Mr R- O-, I came for what you said you would deliver.

O, I cry with a very pathetick effect, must I? Indeed, I have writ the matter out, now I have had the time to consider over it, but indeed it distresses me a deal to betray matters give in confidence.

Indeed you must, says he, unless you want your own confidential matters made publick.

I whimper affectingly as I move towards my desk, and bend over it so that he cannot see what I am about but will suppose I go take some memorandum of my friends’ secrets from it.

I turn around with the little pistol in my hand and say Silence to the death!

Mr R- O- rises with a testy sigh, saying, he might have anticipat’d one of my origins would be prone to melodramatick gestures. He confides that I do not have the courage to shoot myself, and even did I so, he will not be at stand, knowing what he does. Sure, Lady B-, you were the easiest path into the business, but 'tis not your secret alone and there are others will not wish it known.

He approaches closer, I daresay with the desire to remove the little pistol from my hand.

Sure at this range I cannot miss.

Not my death, says I, and squeeze the trigger as Captain P- instruct’d me.

And o, I am not startl’d by the shot itself, but indeed I have not shot a man before and did not know what 'twould be like. 'Tis by no means like an actor affectingly expiring upon the stage.

I sit plump down in my chair and put my head down 'twixt my knees, for I feel extreme faint.

Comes in Hector, I think in some concern that matters were t’other way about. He looks from Mr R- O-, that may not yet be quite dead but I think 'twill not be long until he is, to me, and back again.

Hector, says I – and then I halt, for I feel a little sick – and then comes thro’ the door Matt Johnson.

I go into a hysterickal giggling fit.

Hector says, I askt Mr Johnson to come for I thought the fellow intend’d you some ill –

Why, says Matt, going over and looking at Mr R- O- - dead, he adds, taking up the arm to feel the pulse – sure 'tis quite transparent what happen’d here. This low fellow try’d force his attentions upon Lady B-, the wretch, and she endeavour’d discourage him by threatening him with a pistol, and he went try take it from her and it went off. An accident as ever was, she cannot have known 'twas load’d.

We all look around at one another and I bring myself back into a more sober condition. What, says I, you do not go arrest me?

Matt says, why, he supposes a determin'd prosecutor might bring it in manslaughter, that is a verdict for which Your Ladyship might plead the privilege of her rank. Seems a tiresome business to put you thro’ court proceedings that would bring a deal of adverse attention and scandal. Sure was there some way we might dispose of the body –

Hector says that 'twixt the two of 'em they might contrive to convey it some distance away.

He then says, but he dares say that there may be those knew that the fellow was coming here, or had some notion of his design –

They both look thoughtfull.

I begin giggle again. O, says I, is’t not give out that does one take a body to Mr H-'s back door there will be no questions askt? – Hector presses a glass of brandy into my hand and I drink some – The fellow would do fine service to anatomickal science.

Hector says, has certainly spoke lately with Hoskins (that is Mr H-'s man) that says indeed there are fellows that dye in the street unmourn’d, or have been kill’d in some falling-out of thieves and rogues, have been convey’d to their dissecting-room.

They look at one another and without a word spoke start wrapping up the corpse in the dust-sheets.

One might, says Matt, see do they have a cart for hire at the livery stables.

I put down the brandy glass, for Hector has pour’d me a very great deal, and I wish keep my mind clear for the present.

'Twould be best, says I, was neither of you there handing it over to Hoskins – they look at me and nod – but I confide that did you depute the task to young Sam Jupp, he would discharge it very discreet.

Hector remarks that that entire family would do a deal more for Lady B-. But he will just go across the mews to the livery stables and be about the matter.

Matt squats down beside my chair and takes my hand. Cold fingers, he says, and then puts an arm around me, and sure you are shivering, ‘tis the shock.

I begin to weep.

'Tis, he says thoughtfull, one of those times when one sees that law and justice are not the same thing and may be at odds. I doubt not the fellow deserv’d his fate. 'Tis better do you not give in to any urge to confess.

Why, says I, blowing my nose, I had as rather not be took away in chains to gaol might I avoid it.

Matt smiles a little and says, did he so, he confides that there would soon come about Holywell Street prints showing the brutality of the Runners to a wrong'd lady, and pamphlets upon the topick in Mr MacD-'s most scathing manner, and he might even suppose speeches in Parliament, like unto that famous defence of the French Queen.

La, says I, 'twould more like be Sir V- P- got up upon his hind legs and speaking, or rather bleating, there for once, and would only be listen’d to as an entire wonder.

Matt says I have better friends than that foolish fellow.

Returns Hector and says, young Sam is entire eager to undertake the business, even without I said he might keep whatever 'tis Hoskins is commission’d to pay out for a fresh body.

Pray does not incline him to the profession of resurrection man, says I.

They take up the well-wrappt-up corpse, and take it from the room. Hector then returns and says, he goes send for Docket to come prepare me for bed, and has told Euphemia to prepare a mug of the soothing drink.

Sure I am not mistress in my own household.

Docket comes and looks at me very gentle and says, Your Ladyship, let us get you upstairs and your stays unlac’d and your hair let down and brusht, you will feel a deal better.

I begin weep again.

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

After some consideration upon the matter by Captain P- and Belinda, 'tis determin’d that there is an attic at that side of the house that faces away from the paddocks, and may reasonably be suppos’d that the noise of shooting will not disturb the horses do we go about the matter there.

Captain P- is most prepossesst with the little pistol, says 'tis quite entire what he would expect from such a marksman as Lord R-. 'Tis also entire suit’d to a lady’s hand.

But to begin with, we go about without it charg’d, and I am drill’d in how I should stand, and how I should hold the pistol, and then how I should aim it, and how I should squeeze the trigger, not jerk at it, tho’ we may hope 'twill not come to firing, says Captain P-. But indeed, one would quite suppose you intend’d fire.

And then we progress to loading and charging, and firing, and he is most prepossesst that I do not immediate go jump at the report. La, says I, from my earlyest years was accustom’d to hear stage battles and duels, I daresay 'tis not unlike the training of cavalry horses, that use makes it a matter does not startle one. Sure I would go on copying out parts and my hand not shake, no blots to be seen, and my mother would be a-stitching away, entire calm.

And then we go on to aiming, and firing at a mark, and sure I confide I should need a deal more practice to go hit the mark as oft as I should like. But, says Captain P-, I confide that the matter will only come to firing does the fellow go grapple with you, and 'twill be at such point-blank range that a child could not miss.

Why, says I, I should hope 'twould not come to that. But I confide I go present myself as one that knows one end of the pistol from t’other and what I am about.

Indeed, he says, have seen fellows on the field of honour had less notion of what they were about, trembling like aspens.

Why, says I, there is something very terrible about a duel, for by the time comes to’t 'tis in cold blood rather than the heat of the original quarrel.

He grunts, and says, 'tis so, when one comes think of it, that there will be high words in the passion of a moment, and there may be drink in the matter, but in the chill of dawn, when one goes in all deliberation to the matter, 'tis indeed a very different matter.

He then says, I might wish to practise a little more, to keep my hand in, and I say 'tis a prudent thought, perchance I might come up here for a little while every day while I am here? Sure I know not how I might contrive in my own house. Tho’ at times the street is so noisy I doubt any would notice did a battle go rage across the rooftops.

He agrees that Town is sure a very noisy place.

I laugh and say that to me, 'tis quite a lullaby for 'tis so familiar to me. But here in the country – so quiet, and the noises there are not at all what I am us’d to.

So I go practise, and indeed I think that I become a little more skillfull at the business, but yet 'tis a heavy matter I go about and I know not whether I could fire was’t a person and not a mark that I aim’d at.

But does not take up all my time, and there is a deal of fine riding, and going about looking at the fine horses, and gossiping with Belinda, and reading of Shakspeare, and sure there is company comes dine, and we go dine with 'em, so I am by no means in an eremitickal condition.

Indeed all are most exceeding hospitable, as ever go exhort me to come in hunting season, when there will be fine runs and hunt balls. 'Tis most agreeable to be askt but I fancy I should not find such occasions entire enjoyable, and seems incivil to say, should happyly come to your balls but pray excuse me the pursuit of the fox, for 'tis clear to me that they consider this quite entire the greater pleasure.

Sure there is no accounting for taste.

There is a party comes dines one e’en, and I go up to my chamber to change out of my riding habit into somewhat more suit’d to the occasion, so that the guests may go say they observ’d Lady B- in quite the crack of Town fashion, of course, she can carry it off, 'twould not suit us.

And as I go in I see Sophy sits in the window-seat with a flower in her hair, a-writing up of her book - 'tis very creditable in her – and occasional glancing out of the window. I go over and see that there linger beneath the window several young fellows from the stables.

O Sophy, says I, you sad minx! Sure I daresay they all go ask one another But lo, what light from yonder window breaks? and one will respond It is the East, and Sophy is the sun.

Sophy jumps up in a fluster, makes me a dip, and says, O, Your Ladyship - !

I smile upon her and say, you are a good girl and about your tasks, you are not running off and being idle, you indeed come about to attain a most happy combination of being dutyfull and enjoying a little masculine admiration as you do so. Sure I would not go scold you, for I was a young girl myself once, sure 'twas most amuzing to discover that sitting in the prompt corner for rehearsals I could quite distract certain young actors and make 'em lose their place.

But, I go on, I hope you go be a good sensible girl and are not beguil’d by fellows making wild protestations, such as they will entirely go dye do you not show 'em favour, &C&C.

Oh, no, Your Ladyship, says Sophy. Sure I have been well-warn’d in the matter –

Indeed, says I, was there not some matter of Hector complaining about those fellows at the livery stable standing about ogling, and he dare’d say calling out coarseness?

O, says Sophy, they would not dare that, for Nell says her brother Sam knockt down some fellow that said somewhat of the like. But indeed they will come hang about the door to the stable.

La, says I, he goes show exceeding chivalrick (indeed I mind a matter of a fellow that went asking questions in the tavern the fellows from the stable frequent that Sam went attack.)

Sophy gives a little dimpling smile, and sure I collect that Sam has lately come to look a well-set-up fellow rather than a gangling boy.

Well, says I, let us be about arraying me for this dinner, I think I have not wore my diamond and emerald parure in company lately, so perchance I should dress for that. Sophy looks considering and says we may contrive exceedingly.

There is but a small mirror in the dressing-room, but I confide that I look extreme well when Sophy has finisht.

I touch the secret compartment in the necklace that contains a lock of Flora’s hair, and go down to the drawing-room, where a deal of red-fac’d men and women are already gather’d – indeed the company cannot be above ten in number, but sure they converse in very loud voices and all at once.

Belinda comes introduce me to a Sir T- I-, that is a magistrate and consider’d a fellow of eminence in these parts. She has previous mention’d to me that he is a widower, that looks about him for a third wife, that will be a stepmother to some seven rising offspring. La, said I, dear Belinda, do you go match-make? I daresay he counts as quite the catch in these parts.

At which she laugh’d and said, he may think himself a fine fellow but I confide you are above his touch: but 'twill greatly gratify him to be introduc’d to you and be seat’d next to you at dinner, and 'tis ever usefull to have the friendship of a magistrate.

Say no more, says I, a nod is as good as a wink.

So I make amiable to him by asking about the duties of a magistrate in these parts, and sure I need do very little to keep the conversation going, for he wishes make it known to me what responsibilities he has and the importance of his work in the county.

This continues once he has took me into dinner and we are sat at table, and he goes recount of the ways in which he maintains the King’s order, that is a quite distressing tale of the extreme severe punishments he metes out for matters I should consider entire trivial. He tells me a long anecdote concerning young women that wick’dly go about to swear bastards upon a certain entire respectable gentleman.

(I am like to suppose that he may be by no means as respectable as he is suppos’d, but the poor creatures that I daresay rightly accuse him will be consider’d spitefull jezebels. But 'tis not an occasion in which I might plead like Portia for justice for him and mercy for 'em.)

He says a deal more generally about the immorality of the age: sure the great increase in bastardy is by no means the worst. There is an abominable crime came before him at the last quarter sessions, too horrible to speak of before a lady such as you, Lady B-, 'tis entire unnatural, 'tis of such enormity that he is oblig’d to send such cases before the assizes -

Sure he has a booming voice and the entire table can hear him, including Captain P-, that is at the far end.

I turn towards Sir T- I-, as one that is entire engrosst in his tale, saying, La, Sir T-, you quite freeze my blood and make me shudder –

O! I cry, sure I am a clumsy creature – for I have contriv’d knock over his wine so that it spills upon him. rather than upon me, and the butler quite immediate comes with napkins to wipe him off. I wax most extreme apologetick, with wringing of hands and fluttering of eyelashes.

At this distraction, the conversation turns to the prospects of the new season’s hunting.

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

Sure, thinks I as I prepare to depart, 'twill be most exceeding delightfull to go spend a little while rustickating in Northamptonshire with dear Belinda and Captain P-. And perchance I may come to find some way thro’ this maze I find myself in that I have not yet come at in my ponderings.

I daresay 'twill be extreme dull for Sophy. But I confide 'twill be very agreeable for Ajax.

I am greet’d most heartyly by Belinda and Captain P- when I arrive at their place, that say has been quite an age, and convey me news about my sweet Jezebel, that frolicks like an entire filly in the paddock.

Why, says I, let me go change and I may go renew my acquaintance with her and see how matters go here generally – how does Cherry-ripe and her fine colt?

I desire Sophy to put me on my riding-habit, for I should very much like to ride a little now I am here.

Belinda links her arm thro’ mine as we walk out to the paddock, and asks how all my acquaintance do, and how is Josh?

I laugh and say, he and the badger are quite inseparable, 'tis a pretty thing to see 'em play together. One would never know him the sickly boy he was last summer.

My dear Jezzie-girl comes trot across the paddock very gratifying upon seeing me. I give her an apple and pat her nose and tell her she is entirely the best of Jezzie-girls, and turn to Belinda and say, mayhap we might ride out a little.

Belinda laughs and says, sure you have become the entire horsewoman, dear C-! We may yet see you following hounds.

So we both mount up and ride about their property, and she tells me of the various racers they have, and the likely fillies and colts that come up, and that they indeed go about some excellent business of gentle mounts for ladies. I say that Lady O- upon Blackthorn is an exceeding fine sight.

She sighs and says, must be a sight to see. Sure the Marquess spoke very highly of his lady and her equestrian skills.

Why, says I, altho’ I confide he is an entire doating husband, yet I think he is entire right about Lady O-'s abilities on horseback. Indeed I think you would like her, and her sisters, extremely, sure the edicts of society may be very foolish things, for I am sure also that they would greatly admire you.

I go say somewhat of what excellent creatures the Earl’s daughters are, and also about poor Hester.

O, the poor creature! cries Belinda, sure that is a hard life to lead.

Indeed, but she is a very fine woman. And 'tis extreme pretty to see the ways in which Lord U- and the Marquess will go about to think of ways of eazing her lot.

She says that Lord U- has lately writ very civil to 'em to see can they provide a fine pair suit’d to a phaeton -

La, says I, is no fast young fellow himself, but his younger brothers have considerable notions to becoming known as whips - sure the younger acquitt’d himself very pleasing in a late race to York - and there are worser indulgences for young fellows.

Belinda says they go consider over the matter, but 'tis exceeding gratifying to be solicit’d to the business. He apprehends that 'tis like to take a little time. But, come, let us stretch out a little.

O, 'tis most exceeding agreeable to be with 'em, and to be desir’d to read a little Shakspeare of the e’en, and ride a great deal.

But there is another matter that came to me I might be about while I am here.

So one morn when I have come back from riding with Belinda, and she goes see how Cherry-ripe and her colt do, I put Jezzie into Ajax’s hands, and apologize to Captain P-, that has been discoursing with him upon some equestrian matter.

O, says Captain P- very civil, you are both here a while, there will be other occasion.

We walk towards the house, and I say to him that there has lately come about me a very pestering fellow, will not leave me be, I am in the greatest concern he will endeavour press his suit will-I nil-I –

The scoundrel! cries Captain P-, have you no friends that might call the fellow out?

Why, says I, I am in fears that did that come about 'twould cause an entire scandal, and as you may well apprehend, I have to be most particular cautious in such matters. No, I have been puzzling upon the matter, and I was lately looking into my desk and realiz’d that I still have about me a pretty little pistol that Lord R- lent to me when I was going on a journey where there was some fear of highwaymen. And he gave me a little instruction but 'twas a while since. And as I thought over this matter, seem’d to me that did I turn a pistol upon this fellow, and did I have the look of one that knew what she was about with such a thing, might go about to discourage his suit.

And sure I would have desir’d further instruction of His Lordship, but that I was in a concern that he would consider it quite his duty to go call the fellow out. But I mind me that you must be near as fine a shot as he is, and could you be so kind as to spend a little while showing me how to stand, and hold the pistol, and mayhap fire a little so that I do not look like one that will start at the sound of a shot –

Captain P- says he would be entire delight’d, and sure, he takes the thought that winging a fellow would be like to discourage him from any plans of ravishment -

La, says I, might that not bring down the force of law upon me?

He laughs and says, he doubts that such a rogue would be about telling any that he had been shot by a lady, would be mockt about the clubs for a fortnight at least, and the tale would follow him for ever.

I daresay 'tis so, says I.

Let me consider on where we may go practise so that there is no risque of frighting the horses, he says, and I will set up a target and we may be about the matter.

As we approach the house I see that Sophy is sitting with her sewing in the pleasing little portico that was thrown out at some time in such a way as to catch the sun. And a pretty sight she is about it, too, 'tis entire agreeable to me not to keep her mew’d up when she may get the benefit of the sanitive airs of this place.

I then take a thought that may not be the sunlight nor the airs that lead her to sit thus, for there is an unwont’d coming and going about the place of stable-lads and grooms.

Sure Sophy does not conduct herself in any vulgarly flirtatious manner, but has a way of raising her eyes, and then lowering 'em to her work with a little smile, that is most exceeding beguiling.

I might be in some concern about this proceeding, did I not mind that there is a deal of respect in the place for Ajax and I doubt not that she is consider’d under his protection, 'tis like to keep her from any coarseness that might otherwise be offer’d.

But I know not what Docket or Hector might say to this proceeding. I am like to feel a considerable sympathy to Sophy, for have I not been a young girl myself and found how very agreeable 'tis to be admir’d? And I daresay she continues keep a hat-pin about her in case of undue saucyness.

Comes up to us Belinda, that says sure Cherry-bounce comes along a fine creature, but 'tis entire too soon to try his paces.

Captain P- says he will be about looking for a place where I may be lesson’d in shooting a pistol, and I go about to disclose the tale to Belinda, that says 'tis a pity I did not have a little pistol about me when that mad creature came creeping about B- House.

Indeed, says I, as we go in to the parlour. Sure, my dear, you would scarce know B- House any more, 'tis almost entire ready for Lord A- to move in with his bride. 'Tis very agreeable to see it such a fine residence when I consider what 'twas – bats in the attic, rain coming thro’ the roof, holes in the floor, rats in the cellar &C&C and is now quite entire fit for a lord.

Belinda says, 'tis entire delightfull to think upon, but then groans, and says, sure the matter of T- cannot yet even be put before Chancery for they go take their vacation.

She then frowns and says, but what would happen did my undear bigamist spouse dye?

I frown myself and say, 'tis a matter to ask Mr Q-, but I am in some supposition you might yet retain some life-interest: perchance there is even a dower-house set aside – she shudders: should not care to live in that gloomy place – Mayhap there is still some distant cousin that might inherit.

She sighs and says, sure that lunatick never mention’d any cousins save for the ones that would have to dye so that he might become Marquess of B-, did not have a deal of family-feeling any more than he had any friends, there was no going about on visits.

And, says I, has he had any more visitors?

She shakes her head. But indeed I am in some concern that there will be some scandal from the parish that he was mixt up in – o, if we talk of entails and property, mayhap tearing a page from the register to conceal a legitimate birth, am sure he would have done so for a sufficient bribe. And likely kept the page by him so that he might go back for more.

My dear Belinda, says I, sure you should write Gothick novels.

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

So next morn I go call upon the Contessa, and indeed I observe a certain bustle about the place that speaks of a purpos’d decampment.

We go greet one another very effusive, and kiss, and look one another over with great affection, and I say, alas, Town will be entire duller without her and without her fine ridottos to enliven us.

She smacks me lightly with her fan and says, sure 'tis not true that the English are incapable of pretty speeches, but she entire confides that we shall get on without her. Indeed, she has made good friends here as well as the ones she already had, but now that she need no longer be concern’d over Reynaldo’s lack of discretion, feels that 'tis entire her duty to return.

La, says I, 'tis I am like to suppose a matter of fie upon this quiet life, I want work!

Why, she says, casting down her eyes, there may be some things a silly old lady may do, still.

Not silly, says I very affectionate, and entire ageless: have you not been to Guiseppina to make you up some elixir of enduring youth? sure one might think so.

I go tell her of the very excellent device I have for conveying communications, that there is a fellow in the Embassy quite entire delight’d to relieve that poor silly creature Lady B-'s mind of her anxieties about messages from her estate going astray, by popping 'em into the Diplomatick Bag.

She laughs quite immoderate, and says, 'twill be an opportunity to go look upon that very handsome fellow that looks after your estate –

Altho’, says I, 'tis give out that he is my steward the Marquess left it to him, with the thought that 'twould be prudent to let it be suppos’d that I was the owner.

Such a prudent thoughtfull fellow, says the Contessa with a sigh. Sure, my dear, 'tis some weeks yet before I leave, but you are so much in demand and out of Town that I was quite in fear that I should miss you.

I should be very sorry not to have some opportunity to bid you farewell, says I.

We sit and look at one another with great affection as we drink our coffee.

My dear, says I after a pause, has it ever come to you in the course of your revolutionary proceedings that you were oblig’d to kill a man?

The Contessa looks at me very thoughtfull and says, sure she was never oblig’d to undertake the matter with her own hands, but indeed there have been matters she put in hand that led to a death, one way or another, and she must bear the responsibility. She goes tell herself that had she not done as she did, 'twould have led to other deaths, or captivity and torture, and it ever seem’d a lesser evil; but 'tis a heavy matter.

Sure it must be, says I, I was quite distresst enough when that Prussian fellow went startle at me and fell down and broke his neck.

She says, was no loss, a nasty fellow by all reports, dares say he had a guilty conscience.

But, she goes on, my dear Lady B-, did you desire to come visit Naples for a little I should be entire delight’d to give you hospitality.

Why, says I, I was in no immediate thought of doing so, but yet, 'twould be very agreeable, I might go see how matters go on with these agrickultural improvements upon the estate, and I daresay 'tis possible I might be able give a little assistance to the Cause.

The Contessa says she made the offer with no such thought, only the pleasure of my company, but do I mention it, indeed there are matters that a mad English milady may contrive most exceeding usefull.

I will go consider over it, says I, sure I have a deal of matters upon hand, but I confide that they may go on without me, 'twould be pridefull in me to suppose that naught may get on without me.

The Contessa laughs somewhat immoderate and says, indeed, she herself is like to suppose that the Cause in Naples manages to continue without she is there.

From the letters I receive from Marcello, I confide they contrive! says I.

The Contessa says, a most excellent young man. Sure when the Marquess first took up with him I suppos’d he had been beguil’d by fine looks and a form like unto some antient Greek statue, but he has a deal of less apparent qualities.

I shall miss her greatly when she leaves Town, and make her very effusive farewells.

When I return to my own pretty house, where Euphemia brings me a pleasing little nuncheon, I find that a message has been deliver’d from Milord, that finds himself in Town and has learnt that I too may at present be found here. Should I care for a little drive out of Town, he is entire at my service.

Falls out most convenable: I write a little note that I should be entire delight’d and dispatch it with Timothy.

I go dress suitable for a drive - sure I daresay the roads will be exceeding dusty - with a fine wide-brimm’d hat.

'Tis exceeding agreeable to see Milord, that is looking exceeding well.

We drive off and do not engage in converse until we are out of the brangles of Town, where there is a deal of going to and fro in the streets. Once we are upon a good turnpike, I turn to Milord and remark that I did not anticipate to see him in Town this while, sure I suppos’d he would be about a deal of visits or down at A-.

He says that there was various business that oblig’d him to come up to Town, somewhat tiresome.

Sure I cannot help but smile, and say, sure, Your Lordship, is that not quite entire why a fellow in your position employs a secretary? So that he will not need to undertake such tedious excursions?

Milord laughs somewhat immoderate and then says more sober that he dares say that did Sandy consider that 'twas his duty would stay at R- House the entire summer long, but, dear C-, I am entire beguil’d by the pleasure that comes upon his face at the prospect of this philosophickal tramping and how much he enjoys the matter.

'Tis very good of you.

Why, as we cannot be together while I go about the deal of visits I am invit’d upon, I should like him to spend some time in the enjoyment of life. Not only would it look particular did he accompany me everywhere, I confide he would not enjoy many of the house-parties to which I am bidden.

Tho’, says I, I hear that your bachelor-party at A- this year was a most resounding success.

Indeed, he says, was not sure how 'twould go, but went off very well. What excellent young fellows are the M- boys, not in the least like unto their father. And sure we could never have suppos’d when we first encounter’d him how very well Mr Sebastian K- would turn out. As for the fribble-set, they are come to years, I hazard, when they start thinking of settling down and taking up responsibilities – Lord A- has set them quite the example.

I am like to think so, says I. There was young Lord V- spoke to me of turning over the notion of marriage in his mind.

We go ask one another whether we have heard aught of how Danvers D- gets on in Harrogate. I say that his mother has writ me of what a very fine child Miss R- has borne, and Miss A- writes that Miss R- is now back in her old parts, and some that were once Miss M-'s, and Danvers D- is at every performance. And Mr W- is showing most pleasing sober and well-conduct’d. Milord says Danvers is no great correspondent but has sent a scrawl or two concerning the joys of fatherhood &C.

This is all agreeable matter, but since I am able to convoke with Milord, that I had not suppos’d I should have the opportunity to do, I am mind’d that I should disclose to him the heavyer matter that weighs upon my mind concerning Mr R- O-'s pryings.

I therefore tell him that I am sorry to spoil our happy mood and agreeable thoughts of friends, but I should apprize him that that dreadfull fellow Mr R- O-, that has been endeavouring spy upon our set, has gone discover what went forth in Surrey some years since, and while he is somewhat out in what he imagines the truth of the matter was, still knows enough that I should not wish to come out, and holds it over me to go about as Mr W- Y- did, but with a deal more apprehension concerning our clique than the poet ever attain’d to.

My dear C-, cries Milord, what do you intend to do about the fellow? I suppose 'twould not answer for me to find some excuse to call him out and shoot him down like a mad dog?

I confide not, says I, for I am like to suppose that he is a fellow goes very cautious and evasive and would not come up to the mark. But I go consider upon the matter and how I might contrive.

Dearest C-, should you mind did I drive very fast for a little while?

Just let me grasp firm hold, and close my eyes, and do you so.

After he has slow’d down once more, to my great relief, he says, he is sure I have already come at the thought that Sandy stands in most exceeding danger from this fellow’s exertions.

Yes, my dear, troubles me exceedingly, and sure I fear that even did I declare Silence to the death! Mr O- would find some other means to come at him.

Do you think he - ?

Has not made any insinuations, but perchance has suspicions he keeps in reserve and does not yet throw into play, waiting upon what I reveal. But sure Mr Y- had no apprehension in the matter.

We both sigh, and Milord says, tho’ 'tis heavy news, he is glad I have told him. And can he be of any assistance in any stratagem I devize –

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I am most exceeding obliged for the helpful suggestions upon this matter.

I therefore present to your collected wisdom, the consideration that, perchance a fan would supply a unifying motif, combined with some particular other thing for individual volumes (a wombatt, a traveling desk, a horsewhip, a swan)?

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As I sit and sip my brandy, I find myself shaking; and I look up and gasp, for 'tis not fear, 'tis anger. He considers my beloved sleepy wombatt child, my darling infant bluestocking, that is also so very greatly lov’d by my dearest ones, as a mere pawn in the game, an embarrassment that I go conceal for fear of my own reputation and not because I would desire her a life I might not give her myself.

But, indeed, I then go consider, that he does not at all apprehend how very much I love her, and he can have no notion at all of how matters stand 'twixt me and my darlings.

'Tis a thought that puts heart into me, and yet, he may still do immense damage to those I care for, and, indeed, a deal more generally, is he not halt’d in this course.

Comes in Euphemia and says, here is a fine fricassee of chicken for Your Ladyship’s supper, and a little cream’d spinach to it, that is your favourite. And 'twould be better you took a little wine to it, rather than brandy.

They are so very good to me.

So I go eat my supper, and take a glass of claret, and then mind me that I still have my letter to Eliza to write, that is a matter I should like to dispatch before I am about going into Northamptonshire. So I go to my pretty desk and take paper and pen and go indite a letter about the matters I have lately observ’d at the house-parties I was about, and then go open to her my thought concerning Miss N- and Mr L-. I should greatly like to say somewhat about this latest troubling matter, but can come at no way to describe it sufficiently discreet and covert. So I merely desire her to convey many kisses to the infant bluestocking from me.

I should also greatly like to convoke with Sandy upon this matter, but he goes tramp about the countryside discoursing of deep philosophickal matters still, and I can come at no way whereby I might communicate with him.

I confide that Mr R- O- will not have gone approach Biffle with his suppositions, for there is a deal of difference 'twixt threatening one of my origins however elevat’d my present rank, and one that is the present incumbent of an antient Dukedom with a deal of power and influence. And tho’ I have quite the greatest fondness for Biffle, I am of the opinion that the fewer that know Flora’s true parentage, the better.

I am still musing and fretting upon the matter after sanding and sealing my letter to Eliza, and putting it in the tray to be post’d the morn, when comes Hector to say, Mr Johnson has call’d at the back door and wonders is My Ladyship able to receive him?

(I perceive that Matt Johnson has gone from being that Bow Street fellow to Mr Johnson when Hector mentions him.)

Why, says I, send him up, see should he desire some ale or would brandy be more gratefull, and also whether he should require any other refreshment, for I daresay malefactors do not go out of Town for the summer and he has been about catching rogues.

Comes in Matt Johnson, doffs his hat and makes civil, and I wave him into a comfortable chair, saying that I hope I see him well.

He says, indeed, as well as maybe, and he confides from my glowing looks I have lately been in the country.

Indeed, says I (and sure I am a vain creature, but pleases me to think I am in looks in spite of the troubles upon my mind). Have been about a deal of house-parties.

Arrives Celeste with a mug of ale and a plate of bread and ham.

I say that I confide that 'tis no time of rest for him, and he concedes that 'tis so. There are those will take advantage that houses are shut up and put in the care of some watchman that may be idle or will take a bribe to look away.

'Tis a wick’d world, says I.

After he has refresht himself somewhat, he says ‘tis ever agreeable to see me, and in such health, but there is a troubling matter that he desires open to me.

Say on, says I, for one would wish to know is there any bothersome business like to come in my way.

He goes on, therefore, to recount to me that he goes call upon Dolly Mutton from time to time –

Oh, I cry, I hope there is nothing adverse comes to her?

- indeed not, quite flourishing, purposes another seaside excursion with the inmates of her house, the one last year answer’d so well.

(Sure I have not yet taken occasion to convoke with Dorcas over matters of housekeeping and how matters go in Covent Garden.)

But, he continues, she is worry’d by one that came about asking questions about Lady B-'s blacks that came so regular to her coffee-house, and what they were about. And of course, she said they were about providing religious consolation to the women of those parts, that may despite their way of life be good pious creatures but have no notion to being denounc’d from the pulpit for fornication. And that 'twas a very creditable matter in Lady B- in permitting her servants to undertake the business.

'Tis entirely true that 'tis what they are about, says I, but, alas, I have other signs that I have enemies and that there is one or another goes seek out matter to my discredit.

Why, he says, even now the Earl of N- is bound for the Americas, so 'tis said?

I sigh and say, I am like to fear that there are others go work against me for one reason or another. I am in some concern, I go on, that there is an intention to find out some discreditable secret of mine, that I would pay to keep conceal’d.

He shakes his head. Indeed there are scoundrels that make that their business, I daresay they consider 'tis a deal safer means of robbery than picking pockets or burglary, but 'tis a very nasty thing. Sure there are even those will go make accusations entire unfound’d, on matters 'twould be exceeding hard to disprove, such as sodomitickal approaches &C.

'Tis entire shocking, says I, and yet one knows that there are many have some secret in their lives, may not even be a criminal matter but a thing they would not desire known for 'twould stain their reputation, perchance make 'em a laughing-stock.

I take some little concern, I go on, that does one go ask about me in Covent Garden, Molly Binns is give out somewhat ill-dispos’d toward me…

Matt laughs and says, sure now Molly Binns goes make such a good thing out of her hat-trimming, will declare 'twas entire the best thing that Mr Perkins went throw her over and she is well rid of him.

Indeed, 'tis most amuzing, and I find myself laughing too, tho’ perchance there is somewhat hysterickal in my mirth.

He says that sure he will keep his ears and eyes open for fellows that go around looking for secrets of mine.

I say that I am most infinite oblig’d to him, and, does he not have to immediate go be about catching malefactors, should be most agreeable to offering an expression of my gratitude.

He says that sure 'twas in no expectation –

I entire know it to be so, says I, but ‘tis somewhat would give me pleasure.

He smiles and says, My Ladyship’s enjoyment is a very pretty thing.

So we go about a most enjoyable romp, 'tis most entirely agreeable and sure quite sanitive.

But as we lye considerable sat’d, I say, what should you think was’t give out that I had kill’d someone?

He guffaws and says, his first thought would be that had been some accident, that I might have pickt up some pistol not knowing 'twas load’d. But, he goes on more soberly, was’t not such a case I would be like to suppose that you had been about defending yourself from some low rogue that endeavour’d force himself upon you; or that you had been defending one that was attackt.

Why, he says, have you been about killing anyone of late? ('Tis clear he does not suppose me entire serious.)

Not lately, says I. There was a fellow, I go on, 'twas an entire accident, when I was in Naples, I came out upon a balcony and startl’d him so that he fell over the edge; and land’d in such a way that he broke his neck.

Why, was a fellow so nervous would be startl’d by the appearance of Your Ladyship, must have had an exceeding load upon his conscience.

I daresay 'twas so, says I. (For I am like to think that I was not the only burden upon the Junker’s conscience, and might even have been worse.)

Well, he says at length, 'tis time I was about my business of chasing malefactors.

So since 'tis still not extreme late of the e’en, I rise myself and put on my peignoir and go down to sit a little in my parlour and meditate over this further intelligence.

And after Matt has left, I am still sitting brooding when Hector comes and says a note has just been deliver’d by one he takes to be one of the Contessa’s footmen.

Oh, says I, I hope 'tis no heavy matter.

But when I break the seal I find that 'tis a note from the dear Contessa that says she is inform’d that Lady B- is at present in Town and as she is purposing a return to bella Napoli, would most greatly desire a rencontre before that parting of our ways.

Indeed, thinks I, a winter there is a deal to be preferr’d to one here, particular is one not us’d to the chill and the fogs &C and indeed, have been surpriz’d that the Contessa has not succumb’d to some seasonal ailment.

I will go call upon her the morrow.

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These chronicles will shortly be coming to another hiatus, but it is anticipated that there will be more to come.

On the project of publishing these memoirs, we are now at a stage where we are considering upon covers. I am prepossessed by the existing low-key monochrome images, but I daresay this is the sort of thing that is deemed not to answer does one aim at a wider circulation?

Your thoughts are solicited in the matter, and it is remarked that one could possibly pay for something that would not look a botched-up job.

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Mr R- O- is sat in a chair beside the hearth, still and silent as a cat afore a mousehole. Timothy goes take down books and places 'em in crates.

I dip a deep curtesy and then tell Timothy he may leave off this task for the while, and request him go desire Euphemia to send up tea -

Or, says I turning to Mr R- O-, perchance you would prefer somewhat a little stronger?

He indicates that the matter is of entire indifference to him, so I reiterate, tea.

Timothy leaves but I daresay we must expect Celeste very shortly with the request’d tea, so I go sit vis-à-vis to Mr R- O- and say, sure 'tis very heavy weather in Town at present, one notices it coming from the country.

He agrees that 'tis exceeding pleasant to get out of Town at this season: somehow he contrives to imply that he has stay’d in Town despite the weather out of dutyfull concern for the nation, whilst I have been about enjoying myself in an entire whirl of frivolity.

In due course comes Euphemia herself with the tea, with such an expression that I doubt not she has been endeavouring prevail upon Hector to let her take the frying-pan to Mr R- O-.

She leaves us, not without a backward glance at me, and I go pour out tea. Mr R- O- holds up his hand to decline a cup – indeed, had I been able to think of some contrivance to poison him while 'scaping myself, should have done so without a qualm.

I take up my own cup and look at him over the brim with my most feather-witt’d expression, and blink several times. La, Mr O-, sure I am surpriz’d that you come call upon me again – O! I cry, might it be that you have news of Mr Y-? Sure I have been in some concern in the matter.

He looks at me, goes to the door to ensure that it is clos’d, returns to his seat and says, Lady B-, I should be greatly oblig’d if you would desist from this masquerade of idiocy.

I raise my eyebrows somewhat.

I daresay, he goes on, that there are those that may believe that, from your most exceeding humble origins, and ill-reput’d trade, you have risen to a position of considerable esteem in Society and acquir’d a deal of interest quite entirely thro’ a combination of very much admir’d looks and the excellent fortune to marry the already ailing Marquess of B- shortly before he expir’d, that convey’d you not merely the name of wife but aristocratick rank. Give me leave to admire the solider qualities that have brought you to such eminence and the patronage of most exceeding exacting individuals. 'Tis quite entirely to be applaud’d.

I flutter my eyelashes a little.

Furthermore, he continues, your abilities have been attest’d to by no less a one than Sir Vernon H- - sure one does not become as well-spoke of as he is in Diplomatick circles without a deal of judgement – that praises you in a manner that one cannot suppose is merely a question of favours happyly recall’d but concerns your great assistance in some matters of delicacy.

Alas, thinks I, dear Sir Vernon’s attempts at intervention for my benefit have had an entire contrary effect.

Be assur’d, Your Ladyship, that I have no doubts as to your capacities and the acuity of your intelligence, and 'twill not be at all usefull to endeavour to convince me otherwise.

La, says I, you quite find me out.

Indeed I do, says he. Sure was he a villain in one of my horrid tales at this point there would be a mirthless grin or perchance some manifestation of evil triumph, but his face remains unmov’d.

Some years ago, he commences, 'twas given out in your circles that Madame C- C- had depart’d very precipitate from these shores in order to go to Carlsbad, where her dear friend, that notorious gamester Miss G-, was said to be in difficulties. All quite entire believe this tale, and will even elaborate upon the fate of Miss G-.

Meanwhile, he goes on, a lady giving herself out to be the wife of a sea-captain bound on voyage to distant parts went reside at the Sussex property left you by General Y-. 'Twas soon afterwards not’d in the parish that she went with child. There was also comment upon her black servants, tho’ was not consider’d entire strange, for General Y- had also been not’d for his Hindoo attendants, and was given out her godfather.

La, says I, these country places, sure a stranger will provide gossip to feast upon for many years, 'tis not like Town when is a scandal a week old 'tis entire stale. But pray continue, Mr O-.

This was all, says Mr R- O-, just around the time when the Duke of M- was proving what an entire reform’d character he was by marrying an eligible and respectable young lady.

O! I cry, and proceed to dab at my eyes with a handkerchief. (For, thinks I, here we discover that Mr R- O- is not quite entire so well-inform’d as he supposes himself. Sure I am still in peril, but I am no longer in terror that he is all-seeing, does he go suppose 'twas Biffle’s child I bore.)

So, he goes on, from local gossip I hear you were visit’d by various members of your and the Duke’s set, and in due course, a daughter was born, and baptiz’d in the parish church, the F-s standing as godparents.

And shortly afterwards, the intelligence went around that Mrs F- had but lately and somewhat unexpect’d borne a daughter. One imagines that this kind act of concealing an inconvenient bastard birth has been well reward’d in matters of interest and preference for the F-s, such as a parliamentary seat for a borough in which the Duke has interest, &C.

(I am coming to a realization that Mr R- O- cannot suppose that there may be matters of liking and friendship, and that indeed Biffle has shown a deal of favour to the F-s because he finds them agreeable, as well as there being matters of mutual interest concerning ironworks and improvements and politicks. No, must all be matters to him of connivance and seeking advantage.)

I weep quite unfeign’d, for I remain in considerable fear for my darling Flora, tho’ I am in the supposition that Mr R- O- thinks that 'tis Biffle’s reputation and my own that he threatens thro’ exposure.

Sure, he says, 'tis a business you would not want bruit’d about. In particular are you such a great favourite with the present Duchess of M-.

I sob some more and say, indeed 'tis a matter I had suppos’d bury’d beyond discovery.

Why, says he, with, at last, a truly horrid smile, 'tis worse than the dreadfull crocodile’s, I might be mov’d to keep your secret, would you be obliging to me.

La, says I, blowing my nose, this is the strangest way to advancing a suit I ever saw.

Did I not say you need not act the innocent, Lady B-? I confide you have some apprehension of my desires and I assure you my intentions are by no means carnal.

(Sure I have been in some concern that he also had hopes to enjoy my favours as part of the bargain, a thought that is like to slugs creeping upon my skin.)

No, he continues, what I desire of you is the intelligence I am sure you have concerning the members of your set, the views they may express are they not in publick, the secrets they have that they would not desire known, their connexions that they would rather not have reveal’d. That I am sure you are privy to.

Mayhap 'tis so, says I, snuffling somewhat in a pathetick manner, may indeed be so. But I should require some time to think the matter over and consider and recollect –

Indeed, says he, that is a reasonable thing and indeed I should be a little concern’d did you quite immediate go spill out some tale, for I daresay would be incomplete without you took thought over it, was there even truth in’t.

I am going into the country, says I, to recruit a little, and 'twould look very particular did I not go now I have give it out that I shall, but I might take that opportunity to collect my thoughts; and mayhap I might write 'em down?

He nods and says, 'tis a good thought. (For I daresay he would like writing of mine to hold over me.)

He says that he will come visit upon my return, and by my leave, he will go now.

I ring for Hector to show him to the door, and when he comes back say, brandy, Hector, 'tis well beyond tea.

And, altho’ I feel somewhat sick, I desire him to ask Euphemia to prepare me some light supper: for I shall not think any the better for going hungry, and the sickness is of the spirit rather than the stomach.

I take a sip of brandy, and go consider over what I may do.

I do not think that 'twill at all answer for me to make up some tale that would lead him entire astray. For even if did not become seen at once for what it was, and did I send him chasing after some will o’the wisp, have I not seen the dangers that may come of making up some tale, that may come about to harm one or another that is entire innocent.

No, I do not think that 'tis the occasion for the skills of a Gothick novelist.

I am in no disposition to give up my friends’ secrets, for apart from what is ow’d to friendship and affection, I doubt not that 'twould not be the end of his demands, and I would not have sav’d myself by betraying 'em.

I go to my desk. I open the secret drawer with the miniatures of my darling, and kiss them very hearty and very tearfull.

I then open the other secret drawer and take out the little pistol. I hold it in my hand and look at it, and think, could I do this? Is there no other escape?

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Indeed Miss C- looks a deal better with her hair dresst in a different style. I am in some hopes that Lady Emily will become quite bosom friends with her, but altho’ she shows exceeding amiable, does not seem as besott’d as she was with Lady Rosamund.

I manage to contrive to convoke with Lord O- upon the essays upon his travels, that I consider are now in a condition of readyness for me to go advance them to Mr L- for publickation in his newspaper. He remarks that altho’ is not oblig’d to earn his living with his pen, yet he dares says that the labourer is worthy of his hire –

Entirely so, says I, tho’ if you are not in actual need of the sums in question, you might go present ‘em to a good cause.

I was in some thought, says he, that there are those I knew in my former life –

La, says I, you need say no more, for I confide 'tis a like case to my late husband’s instructions to me, and I daresay that you have lines of communication in place.

He agrees that 'tis entirely so.

I go on to say that I purpose go spend a few days in Town, seeing how the work goes upon my house, and making sure various matters are under hand, before I go upon my next visit ('tis in fact to spend a se’ennight or so with Belinda and Captain P-, that will be most exceeding agreeable). While I am there I shall go call upon Mr L- with these essays, for I also have another matter to open to him.

The Marquess laughs and says, he observes that Lady B- ever has a deal of matters upon hand.

O, perchance! says I. Sure now I am become the lady of leisure, rather than one that is oblig’d to go earn her living, find a deal of time hangs upon my hands.

He laughs again and says, there are few would consider Lady B- a lady of leisure: sure 'twixt her fine work in philanthropy and her going about in Society he knows not how she contrives to write horrid tales.

La, says I, 'twas a habit I got into at a period of my life when I was oblig’d to withdraw from society and therefore found myself idle (I am like to suppose he will take this as meaning my mourning period for my husband), and began scribble. And sure once one is in that habit, 'tis entire like unto laudanum and exceeding difficult to break off.

Comes up to us Nan, that sighs and says, sure she has been having a deal of advice upon how a wife should deal with a husband from the older ladies in the party, she supposes 'tis an act of kindness in 'em, but 'tis like to render her entire melancholick.

Lord O- takes her hand and says, he hopes that she will not have to deal with him.

I find this house-party more agreeable than I anticipat’d, but nonetheless I am extreme glad when it breaks up and I am bound once more for my own household.

Indeed 'tis most exceeding agreeable to enter at my own front door of my own dear house and to find all in such good order. I go sit in my parlour and Euphemia brings tea, and I observe the tidy piles of letters and cards upon my pretty desk and indeed after having been traveling about the country 'tis most extreme agreeable to be in my own place again.

I go convey certain matters from my traveling desk, and look into the various compartments, including the secret one in which I bestow’d Mrs D- K-'s hat-pin, for I am in some consideration that I ought to dispose of it, or perchance go return it to her to do with as she wills. I had forgot that I had placed in the same compartment the little pistol that Milord lent me lest we should encounter highwaymen when I assist’d Lady Anna in her elopement. Sure I should be about returning it to him, tho’ ‘tis quite secure where 'tis.

I pick it up and think that for somewhat that may be so deadly, 'tis surprizing pretty: tho’ sure one would not expect Milord to have anything about him that was not elegant.

I put it back for the while, and go instead look upon the miniature portraits of my dear sweet Flora.

O, 'tis most delightfull to be at home and to have Euphemia make me a nice little supper, that I may take alone and not be oblig’d to make civil to anyone, and go sleep in my own exceeding comfortable bed.

And the next morn go look about at how very well the work comes on in the new part of the establishment, 'tis entire pleasing.

I spend a few days about catching up upon my correspondence and undertaking a few errands in Town, and then desire Ajax to drive me to the suburb in which Mr L- publishes his newspaper. 'Tis not at all a long drive, that is a matter I had already not’d, indeed, 'tis a place many come reside to be out of Town itself yet convenient to go in upon business.

He greets me very civil, and asks whether I have some matter for him.

Alas, says I, I have no work of my own hands to offer you, but I have been askt to see if these fine travel pieces by a friend of mine might be the sort of thing that is want’d?

He goes look 'em over and says they are most exceeding prepossessing, and sure 'tis a time of year when one is in great need of matter to fill up the columns, would be most exceeding gratify’d to publish 'em.

We therefore go negotiate over terms and reach a very agreeable accord in the matter.

After this is conclud’d, he tells me that Miss N- continues to write exceeding fine pieces for his paper, 'tis indeed pleasing to think that she is not in the situation of so many governesses that have no time to call their own, that are they not about instilling learning into their pupils are expect’d to assist in winding wool and similar domestic occupations. He then sighs.

Mr L-, says I, I thoroughly apprehend that you and Miss N- would greatly desire marry, and that your business comes about that you feel you may go wed her without bringing her into penury -

He says indeed 'tis so.

- but that she is greatly attacht to the F-s and their children.

Who would not be in her situation? he cries. They are quite the finest employers.

Indeed, says I, she is most happyly circumstanc’d. But has occurr’d to me – may be an entire whim, and mayhap not in the least answerable – sure 'tis no great journey 'twixt Town and here and one might reside in Town and yet maintain a business here.

He sighs and says, but sure there is a difference in what 'twould cost to maintain a household in Town.

Indeed so, says I, but I take a thought that R- House is exceeding capacious and that one might have a little suite of rooms, quite entire private, where you and Miss N- could lead a most agreeable conjugal existence, she would be able to continue instruct the F- children, you might run to a gig that would convey you here most expeditious –

He looks at me with some longing and says, sure 'twould be an entire idyllic existence, dares say he would also find opportunity to converse with Mr MacD- from time to time, but could it really be answerable?

Why, says I, 'twas only lately Mrs F- expresst to me that she would be somewhat distresst to lose Miss N-, that is such a very fine learn’d lady and has such paedogogick capacities, is so fond of the children and so belov’d by 'em, 'twould be a task to replace her with any that would give such entire satisfaction. Have not open’d this thought of mine to the F-s, for only came to me very recent while turning the matter over in my mind, but I am like to think that they would find it most exceeding answerable.

Oh, Lady B-, he says, leaning over to take my hand and wring it very fervent, 'twould be a most wonderfull thing might it be so.

Well, I go on, if so be you would find it agreeable, I will be about writing to Mrs F- as soon as maybe to make this proposal and see whether 'twould also be agreeable to Miss N-.

He expresses himself most effusive gratefull, for, indeed, has been in a great desire to marry Miss N- this considerable while.

Sure I feel, as I depart, that I have done a good afternoon’s work and that I may go home and write a good long letter to my dearest wild girl Eliza and put this proposition to her that I think will go about to maximize felicity.

And sure I have been most entire prepossesst at the way Miss N- has brought on my darling infant bluestocking so that she considers lessons an entire treat, 'tis quite the prettyest thing.

So I am in considerable good spirits when I arrive at my front door.

But when I enter I observe that Hector has his rat-in-the-wainscotting expression.

How now, says I, what’s ado?

Hector sighs deeply and says, 'tis that fellow Mr R- O- came calling, would not take a denial, desir’d wait upon your return, and I took a consideration that might be imprudent to expel him bodyly.

Alas, says I, I think you are right. But what have you done with him?

Hector sighs again and says, I put him in the parlour, but to discourage him from any prying about, said that while you were out of the house Timothy was about packing up a deal of the books from the shelves there so that they might be convey’d to the library.

O, Hector, says I somewhat tearfull, that was most well-done.

I take a deep breath, remind myself that I am a freeborn Englishwoman and a lady of rank, with a deal of interest, and go open the door.

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Becomes apparent to the entire company that a rivalry is in train 'twixt Lieutenant H- and Captain C- over Lady Emily, that listens most intent to their tales of adventure and danger but I confide takes no notion to either of 'em.

Indeed, when we ride out one morn she says sure this is a pack of fusties, but at least one hears fine tales of foreign parts and naval actions &C.

I say that indeed 'tis a particular staid affair, but 'twill do 'em a deal of good to be known lookt well upon by Lord and Lady G- and the L- J-s, that are very much about in Society, and precisely because they are no wild young things nor elderly debauchees, their good opinion is to be valu’d.

O! cries Em, sure 'tis a hard matter to have to live down a prodigal father!

Indeed, my dear, entirely so. But while the scandal is yet so fresh, 'tis entire advizable to conduct oneself in the most exacting of good ton.

She sighs considerable. Nan was saying 'tother e’en, that sure Papa gave more attention to cultivating his flowers than to bringing us up in the proper ways of Society.

Alas, says I, 'tis by no means a unique case amongst fathers of his rank, particular as regards daughters.

Em is silent for a moment and then says, sure Geoff gets hold of some very strange notions, and sometimes one must suppose has the matter by entire the wrong end, but he was saying that Mr MacD- will often deplore the position of women in society and declare that 'tis by no means natural but the result of law and custom, and that in a better state of things women would be entire upon an equality with men.

Why, says I, Mr MacD- is in a good set in which he has the opportunity to be about ladies such as Her Grace and Lady J-, that demonstrate quite entirely the capacity of the female sex for learning, and he finds Lady W-'s apprehension upon politickal matters most superior. And has remarkt that did some accident come to Mr F- such that he was unable to be about business, Mrs F- could manage the ironworks quite entire satisfactory and still keep household matters at R- House up to the mark.

But are they not most exceptional ladies? Or perchance had the advantage of better education than we did: sure Milly is a darling, but even had we not been such idle creatures in the schoolroom, do not think she could have give us the learning that Her Grace has, or taught us the fine matters Bess F- boasts of.

La, says I, do you not find that for all the trouble is taken over gentlemen’s education, there are a deal of 'em that are none so clever or well-inform’d? A lady may go educate herself is she so inclin’d. But look, the field ahead is not standing corn and I confide we may let the horses out into a brisk canter.

'Tis most agreeable and we come back with fine appetites, but I go change into suitable morning dress before I go breakfast. Sophy tells me she is invit’d to a fine tea-drinking the afternoon by Heston that is Lady G-'s woman, along with Lorimer, and the other ladies’ maids. Why, says I, 'tis very civil in her, but mind you behave in such a manner that they will go away and remark upon the fine training you receive from Docket, and how much you do her credit.

Indeed, says Sophy.

And o, says I, is’t Heston that attends upon Miss C- while she stays here? You might offer to undertake dressing her hair, for I think it might be a deal more becoming than 'tis.

Sophy agrees that Miss C- has excellent fine hair, a good colour and very abundant, but she has took the same thought herself.

So I go down to breakfast dresst most extreme respectable. Em is there still in her riding-habit; sure I must mind to convey some thought in the matter to Nan to pass on to her. She is attending to Lieutenant H- that tells her about some time that he was in a hurricane in the West Indies: and there was Admiral K-, as calm as if 'twas some light breeze. (The dear creature, thinks I. I should greatly like to ask Lieutenant H- has he lately seen the dear Admiral, but mind that the matter is a little delicate, having met him first upon my little cruise aboard the Admiral’s flagship, and the Lieutenant being some connexion of Lady J-'s.)

Comes over Sir Vernon and offers fetch me a little plate of something or other. I say, was not Lord G- expatiating upon the virtues of his pigs and the very excellent hams they come to? I daresay one should go try the ham.

'Tis indeed most excellent ham.

After we have conclud’d our breakfast, Sir Vernon offers that I might care for a turn around the gardens, there is some very amuzing topiary that I might care to view.

Why, says I, 'twould be most agreeable.

'Tis a very pleasant morning as we go out into the gardens, with my arm thro’ Sir Vernon’s as we converse of idle matters. I know not whether he desires convey some matter of diplomacy to me, or whether he goes advance a suit. La, thinks I, in the past, was't not both? I hope he is not about desiring I should demonstrate favour to Selim Pasha, that is a well-set-up enough fellow but not to my taste. Sure in the past would not have been entire averse, but these days I need only accept such offers as I find myself in a particular inclination to.

He remarks that he doubts I have any leanings towards a second match, now I am so well-establisht a widow’d marchioness, but he confides I should make a most excellent diplomatick wife.

O, poo, says I, you go flatter me.

Indeed not, he says, for he confides that those talents that make me so greatly accept’d in Society among the most exacting would serve exceedingly in advancing our nation’s interest abroad. He then smiles and says, but indeed you have other qualities that a fellow would greatly desire in a wife.

He goes on to remark that he is come to that stage upon his career in the Diplomatick when 'tis consider’d that a man should acquire a wife.

We are now come to a distance from the house and we can see none of the other guests anywhere near.

I am in particular mov’d to this proposal, says Sir Vernon in lower’d tones, because I fear that you have enemies in this country that have heard entire lying tales about you and I am like to suppose mean you no good. 'Tis quite complete foolishness and I have endeavour’d put it to those that might act in the matter, but, these fellows that deal with matters internal to this nation, there is, I might say, a narrowness in the way they view things that one cannot keep does one look at the larger picture as one is oblig’d to when going abroad and dealing with other powers.

I take his hand and squeeze it. I am most exceeding prepossesst, says I, at your very fine concern for me – I daresay besides Lord I-'s mutterings upon me, there was some fellow came asking questions of you about me? – he concedes that 'twas so – but altho’ I am greatly mov’d by your kindness in making this offer, as you suppose I am not inclin’d towards a second marriage and I should find it very hard to quit England. Indeed, I find it not entirely to my taste to leave Town, I am a sad cockney.

He squeezes my hand back and says, sure, he thought 'twas like to be so, but hopes that I will ever consider him a friend that will have my interest at heart. And should I ever find it prudent to make a jaunt abroad, would be entire delight’d to see me in St Petersburg.

We then go look at the topiary so that we may talk about it to the company.

(Alas that I feel 'twould be a little undiplomatick to say to Sir Vernon that a romp, might we contrive one, would be exceeding pleasant.)

We return to the drawing-room, and talk of the quaint and curious topiary creatures, and Sir Vernon is invit’d to go play billiards by Captain C- (Lady Emily looks exceeding longing, but I observe Nan kick her in the ankle to mind her of proper conduct).

Mrs Robert G- is looking over the latest Belle Assemblée with Miss C-, both of them exclaiming over the fine styles. Mrs Robert G- sighs somewhat and says she doubts they would do in their provincial society – they reside upon the family estate in Cumberland - sure, she says, excellent fine scenery she dares say, there are those make a deal of it ('tis clear she would rather be in Town among Society).

I look over Miss C-'s shoulder. I remark upon how hair is being worn at present. My dear Miss C-, says I, you have exceeding pretty hair – she blushes – but I wonder how 'twould look was’t dresst a little different. Should you like, I could send my maid – has a very nice touch with hair – to arrange it for you.

Mrs Robert G- says even they have heard of Lady B-'s fine lady’s maid – La, says I, 'tis not Docket comes with me at present, 'tis as 'twere her apprentice that gains experience, so I like to give her the chance to try her hand with other ladies.

'Tis very kind, says Miss C-, I should like that exceedingly.

Why, says I, are you at leisure now we might go up and see whether she might undertake to make some experiments, and then come dress your hair for dinner the e’en once we have consider’d upon the matter.

Sophy is entire delight’d when I bring Miss C- to my dressing-room, where she is about a little mending, and we all spend an agreeable while about the matter.

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Over the next few days 'tis entire apparent to all that Lord and Lady D- are upon exceedingly improv’d terms, will ever be about one another and from time to time one may see their fingers go twine together. I hope that they are not so greatly reconcil’d as to bring about that end that Lady D- fear’d.

I am like to think that the Evangelickal set that attends morning prayers must consider that Lord D- looks exceeding chearfull, rather than going groan under a sense of his sins, tho’ I daresay there is nothing theologickally unsound about his prayers and readings of the Bible.

Lady Rosamund continues show encroaching to me. I am in some supposition that Lady Emily may have mentioned the very excellent marriages that have lately took place among my circle, and therefore Lady Rosamund wishes gain my interest in order to advance her preference in the matter. But sure I do not find her a prepossessing prospect as a wife. She goes make eyes at Lord K-, and also at Lord U-, so I daresay she aims at being at least a countess in due course.

Agnes S- comes to me quite ecstatick and says, she knows not what I said to Dora, but she entire changes her tune over her marriage to dearest Mr L- and 'tis an exceeding great relief. Her guardian purposes come to Town when Society returns, so that they may talk of settlements &C with lawyers –

- as ever I advance the interest of Mr Q- in the matter –

- and so that he may meet Mr L-, that has already offered take him to meetings of the antiquarians and to go visit the private collections of certain of their number where he now has the entrée. He also wonders whether there is some Town physician skill’d in the gout that he might consult.

Why, says I, I will ask about – I daresay Mr H- may be led to recommend some physician, for I believe he considers gout to fall within their purlieu rather than that of surgery - for I think none has recommend’d the amputation of gouty limbs as a remedy.

O, 'tis exceeding kind in you.

I smile at her and say, he sounds a most agreeable fellow, and 'tis greatly to be admir’d is he so, for 'tis give out that the gout will try the serenest of spirits. But where do you go when our revels are end’d at C- Castle?

She pulls a face and says, Lord M-'s, that I daresay will be prayer-meetings morn till night and a library entire full of sermons.

I say that she must therefore provide herself with a good supply of horrid tales and novels, perchance with some cover upon ‘em that will lead 'em to be suppos’d edifying literature.

She giggles, and says, and read 'em with a most sober face.

Precisely, says I.

We make very fond farewells when the party breaks up and I am upon the road for Lord G-'s: 'tis by no means a particularly arduous journey as his place is in Huntingdonshire, and much of the way is very flat - indeed Lord G- discours’d of the fact that us’d to be swampy fens that were drain’d round about the time of the Civil War, and the advantages most recent display’d of steam-pumps over windmills, tho’ perchance less picturesque a sight, when I happen’d to mention the steam-pump at my lead-mine.

'Tis early afternoon when we come at the place. I go refresh myself from the journey and have Sophy put me into somewhat suitable for afternoon wear, with a becoming cap, and then descend to the drawing-room where the company gathers.

'Tis but a small company: Lord and Lady G-'s son the Honble Robert and his wife, Lady G-'s god-daughter the Honble Frances C-, their good friends the L- J-s, Lord and Lady O- and Lady Emily, Sir Vernon H- that is some family connexion, Lieutenant H- of the Navy that I met some years since on board the dear Admiral’s flagship, and is some connexion of Biffle and Lady J- as well, I suppose, as some relative of Lord G-'s (I hope none will go about explaining how such and such is relat’d to such a one, for ‘tis most entire tedious to any that is not relat’d). 'Tis mayhap a company a little lacking in young men (tho’ the lieutenant is none so very old), but 'tis give out that they hold a dance for county neighbours one e’en.

I ask Sir Vernon how the shoot at N- went, and he says, most satisfactory, detailing the bags they made, tho’ I daresay there is a double meaning was’t some occasion for privy discourse with Selim Pasha. And what improvements have been made: hardly recogniz’d the place. Indeed, the Old Duke was a very fine fellow, but had no mind to modern ways, ‘twas a great pity. Lord G- goes overhear us and discourses once more upon the great merits of steam-pumps, with some divagation into the floods that us’d to be such a peril in the district. Sure this is an age of great wonders and nigh on miracles.

I am able to say somewhat of the prospects of steam locomotion, for Harry told us all a deal of the matter while I was at the F-s. Lieutenant H- remarks that of course the Admiralty take a deal of interest in the matter, and sure he can see where steam locomotion might be of quite the greatest utility – has one ever been becalm’d in the tropicks one must entire see the force of the matter: he goes on to recount at some length just such an occasion – but he cannot suppose 'twill ever entire replace sail.

But who, he says, looking across the room, is that lady? I do not think I have her acquaintance.

La, says I, 'tis Lady Emily M-, the daughter of the Earl of N- and the sister of the Marchioness of O-.

Splendid-looking creature, he remarks. But, was there not lately some scandal about the Earl? Heard that he had gone off somewhat hugger-mugger to Washington, but 'twas old news when I came to Town and did not get the whole tale.

Stole a snake from a Company officer that kept a deal of them quite in the nature of pets, says Lord G-, do we not suppose that there is somewhat in the air of the Indies brings about such eccentricities? 'Tis hard for the Earl’s children – the heir, Lord U-, a most excellent young fellow, must be entire embarrasst at the business – also behav’d most peculiar over marrying his daughter to the Marquess – first was saying she must, and then would be breaking the match off over some idle gossip – but see what a very fond couple they are.

Lieutenant H- says he confides he is acquaint’d with the Marquess, from before his elevation, met him when he himself was but a middy with Admiral K- in the West Indies, should greatly like to renew acquaintance. He moves over towards their little group.

Lady G- comes bustling up to me and says 'tis an entire pleasure to see me, and what an enchanting gown that is, and she would desire to make known to me her god-daughter, Miss Frances C-: she goes beckon to the latter, that turns over musick upon the piano.

She comes over and Lady G- makes introductions. While Miss C- is not perchance a great beauty that will take Society by storm, she is a well-looking girl with pretty light brown hair, that might be dresst somewhat more becoming, and a fresh complexion, and an excellent figure. She curtesies to me and makes exceeding civil.

I say I observ’d her looking at the musick on the piano, does she play?

She smiles very agreeable (fine teeth, I notice), and says, o, well enough for a drawing-room do the company desire a little musick, also sings a little. But sure she does not aspire to publick performance such as her godmother has told her of at Lady B-'s drawing-room meetings.

Why, says I, 'tis a pleasing accomplishment. And I daresay you keep an album?

She blushes and says, indeed she does, but would not presume –

Poo, says I, do you desire I will indite a little Shakspeare in it.

Mrs L- J- comes over and says, she hears Lady B- discourse of the Bard, and hopes that she may be persuad’d to a reading.

Why, says I, 'twould be entire delightfull to undertake the matter is’t agreeable to the company.

Oh, says Mrs L- J-, that will be a treat.

I hear, says I, that there will be some very fine fishing offer’d for those gentlemen that enjoy it (for I recall that 'tis a pastime of which her husband is greatly fond).

O, indeed, she says, this is a watery land.

At this moment is shown in Captain C-, that I had not expect’d to encounter in this company, but turns out that he is some connexion by marriage to Mrs Robert G-. He makes very civil to the company, is looking better than he has been, and looks particular pleas’d to see Lady Emily, that is in converse with Lieutenant H-, that I dare say goes tell about the dangers he has past thro’. The two gentlemen look at one another and I think there may come about some rivalry 'twixt Army and Navy.

He comes sit by me – I make him known to Miss C- - and says that sure 'tis somewhat of a tiresome journey from Somerset by stage. He conveys me news of Sir B- W- and Susannah and their offspring, that go rustickate on the estate over the summer, tho’ I daresay there are also visits they are oblig’d to make.

He also says that the quacks still go be so very dubious about signing him fit for active service, that he is most exceeding mind’d to send in his papers and go raise horses in Nova Scotia. I see him glance over at Em and daresay he has some notion to her, but takes a consideration that tho’ of good enough birth, may be somewhat presuming in him to aspire to an Earl’s daughter.

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I find that Lady Rosamund goes be somewhat encroaching to me, so I say that I will go take my Shakspeare into the knot-garden and meditate alone with but the Bard for company upon what I might read to the company.

This leaves her to Em, that shows signs of doating upon her, I cannot imagine why should be so, but young girls will take fancies. Sure Lady Rosamund is quite Lady Disdain, but entire without that wit that renders Beatrice so appealing a figure.

So I am seat’d in the knot garden, with a little breeze that wafts most exceeding agreeable scents of flowers towards me, musing upon readings, when comes up to me Nan and sits beside me, saying she hopes she does not go disturb me.

Indeed not, dear Nan, says I, 'twas in large part a stratagem to escape from Lady Rosamund.

Nan laughs, and then sighs, and says, looks as tho’ Em has taken one of her fancies to the lady, thought she had got out of that habit – when we went to dancing classes there would always be some favourite - but alas seems 'tis not so.

Certainly, says I, seems greatly took with her.

She shakes her head. I cannot fathom it, for seems a dull disagreeable creature. Sure I think I had rather hear her brother discourse of theologickal unsoundness than listen to her gossip and boast.

Why, says I, has a certain style of looks and is well-dresst: but indeed, there is something distastefull about a young woman that suddenly makes exceeding over-civil to a lady she has previously scorn’d, as if there could be no memory of the matter.

What, says Nan, did she so?

Oh, says I, I think she count’d me as one of the fusties at Lord P-'s house-party –

Nan laughs very hearty and says, dear C-, might it not be that she took a pet at seeing she would not be at all the belle of the party?

La, says I, might it be so? For she has all the charms of youth upon her side.

Nan laughs somewhat immoderate and says, there are a deal of ladies have come and convey’d to her that Lady B- always manifests the best of ton and would not be about stealing so very recent a husband, and they are entire sure 'tis only that he desires her opinions on matters of taste, for hers is deem’d so extreme exquisite, does he go walk with her among the lime-trees.

O, poo, says I, I am not in the style that the Marquess admires, and we are entire able to have a rational friendship that is, indeed, extreme pleasing.

'Tis quite entire what Tony says. Has quite the greatest admiration for your intelligence, and your understanding of society.

That is most gratifying to hear, says I. But you are entire happy in your marriage?

Oh, cries Nan with something of a blush, quite exceedingly. Tho’ sure I am somewhat daunt’d by the responsibilities of my position – even such small matters as running the household – I realize what a jewel is Mrs Atkins, now I have had to deal with Mrs Bassett at D- Chase.

O, my dear, says I, I am none to come to concerning such matters, for all know I am not mistress in my own household.

Nan looks at me very merry and I think is about to say somewhat about my household, when comes up Lady G- and looks at us very benign. She says she hopes we do not talk secrets, so that she may join us?

Oh no, says Nan, I go seek the reason why Lady B- is so well-serv’d by her household.

Lady G- laughs and says, she remembers when she first marry’d and was oblig’d to take up the management of the household, and o dear, there were those had been in their place since the days of Methusaleh, and matters had always been done thus and so, ever making difficulties.

There is a little discussion of household matters and the problem with servants that have been in their place since the Flood, all very amiable.

But, says Lady G-, I came here with the intention of asking you, Lady O-, whether you and the Marquess might care to come to our little party that we go hold immediate after we leave C- Castle? 'Tis sorry late in the day, but we thought you might not yet have had a deal of invitations for the summer?

Why, says Nan, indeed I should have to ask T – my husband, but sure we do not have any other invitations –

And mayhap your brother and sister as well? (I mind that she has a god-daughter to promote to a good match, and Lord U- is exceeding eligible.)

O, says Nan, U- purposes a visit to Sir C- F-, that is his god-father, but might I bring Em?

Indeed, says Lady G-, Lord G- has remarkt to me what a very fine-looking young woman she is, and shows very pretty-behav’d. 'Twill provide some company for Frances – that is Miss C-, my god-daughter, that I bring to Town in the autumn to give a little society.

She then looks at the volume in my lap and says, ah, we may hope for Lady B- to give us one of her fine readings I apprehend.

Indeed, says I, but o, I just see Lady D- go into the pleacht walk with her sister, and I have a few matters of the philanthropick set to convoke with her about, by your leave?

Lady G- smiles and says, 'twill do her good to have her mind took off motherhood and all the ills that may come to babies.

So I stand up, and leave my Shakspeare upon the bench, and go walk over towards the pleacht walk.

'Tis pleasing shady, so I close my parasol, as I walk towards Agnes S- and her sister, that shows somewhat nervous.

How now, says I, had a matter or two of philanthropy to open to you did I find occasion; and go on to say somewhat to the business.

Agnes S- says, if we go talk philanthropy, she is going to go find somewhat to read in the library, and mayhap take it to the shell grotto.

I am left alone with Lady D-, that begins to brim with tears.

What, says I, how now, what’s ado here?

I put my arm about her and she goes sob upon my bosom.

Please, she says, do not beg me to go show dutyfull to my husband.

Why, says I, 'twas not my intention, but dear Lady D-, pray disclose to me what is the matter troubles you. Sure I know childbed may be an ordeal, but I daresay you were appriz’d of what would come, for Mrs F- spoke to you on the matter and would not leave a young woman to be surpriz’d.

Lady D- sobs some more and says, she suppos’d 'twas one of these tales that older marry’d women tell to young women, that some matter will be of very great heavyness, and she dares say 'tis to put them in a sober frame of mind, but she did not think 'twould be so very bad, for –

She looks up at me and says, sure you have been marry’d and I may talk to you of the matter.

Afore I was marry’d, she goes on, our aunt, being a spinster, desir’d her friend that was the rector’s wife to convey to me a little understanding of what I might expect once I was marry’d. But indeed, she goes on, tho’ she had left me in considerable trepidation concerning the wedding night and wifely duties, apart from a little pain at first, 'twas all quite entire agreeable – there is a little smile comes thro’ her tears – indeed, exceeding pleasant.

(Why, thinks I, Lord D- may have been convey’d a phthiriasis by that fine Neapolitan courtesan, but I daresay she also convey’d him some understanding of the carnal arts that serv’d him well in the marriage bed.)

So, when it came to lying-in I confid’d 'twould be not so bad as I had been told; but 'twas entirely worse, and o – she breaks out in sobs again – I so want’d Agnes with me, that has ever been at my side and sooth’d my hurts: tho’ 'twas no matter of kissing the bruise to make it well, I should have felt less fright’d by the business had she been by me, but had been sent away, put me in a great distress.

('Tis indeed fortunate she knows not what came to pass while Agnes S- was out of P- House and the business with Mr Miles O’N-.)

And sure little Arthur is a sweet thing and I love him most extreme but I am in the greatest terror of a repetition of the ordeal. Mayhap, she says, with an attempt at bravery, in time I may come round to it, but I am in entire fear that Lord D- will go demand his husband’s rights.

Her mouth quivers. And sure, 'twould be hard to resist -

My dear, says I, putting my arm about her shoulders, Lord D- I confide has been warn’d by Mr H- over the matter, and sure he is a husband would not put his own needs afore a concern for his wife’s health, has a very fine affection towards you.

(Alas that I fear 'twould not be proper to go recommend to her the use of spunges, that I daresay Lord D- would consider most exceeding irreligious and sinfull.)

And, says I, supposing that you did find yourself in a like situation in due course, was your sister marry’d herself there could be entire no objection to having her with you.

O, says she, I had not consider’d that, but indeed 'tis so. But, she goes on, I had hop’d for some great marriage for Agnes, that goes throw herself away upon that bald parson.

Fie, says I, do you wish your sister to marry a fellow that considers her the most wonderfull woman that ever walkt the earth, or to some nobleman that sees her merely as the means to repair his fortunes?

She dabs at her eyes with her handkerchief and says, do I put it to her thus, sure 'tis Agnes’ happyness that she should desire.

Quite so, says I.

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After my tedious journeying, however, I do not feel mov’d to rise betimes for Lord D-'s household prayers, but instead sleep in a little, and then desire Sophy to array me in my riding habit so that I may take a little agreeable horseback exercize.

Red Rogue is still to be found in the stables, and Ajax warrants him as still a sweet-temper’d creature and a smooth ride. 'Tis exceeding pleasant to ride out into the park, and to be alone for a little with my own thoughts,

Sure, while I am still in considerable perturbation over the matter of Sir R- O-, there is at present nothing I may do but fret. While I daresay there is enough upon hand here at C- Castle to provide a deal of distraction to my mind.

After a very fine canter, I bring Red Rogue back to a more sober pace to return to the stables. Sure has give me a very fine appetite, but 'tis not Liberty Hall here and I had better go change into some more proper morning dress afore I go breakfast.

When I go to my chamber I find a footman lingering about the door flirting with Sophy, that shows by no means shy in the matter.

O, Your Ladyship, says she, there is a note from Lord O-, that would like a reply.

I raise my eyebrows but take the note. Lord O- writes that he apprehends that Lord T- goes arrange a shoot for the gentlemen of the party, but 'twill not begin until the morrow. He takes the thought, therefore, that today might be a suitable time to conclave upon his book.

Why, thinks I, provid’d it does not look particular for us to be closet’d on the matter – and sure he shows so exceeding doating to Nan there could be no adverse comment – 'twill be answerable, and I therefore indite a little note conveying that intelligence.

The footman takes his leave.

Why, Sophy, says I as we go within, are you about having followers?

She giggles, and says, they are about having a servants’ ball one e’en, sure I told him that I could make no promises of dances without I askt Her Ladyship might I go.

La, says I, sure I can see no harm to the matter, especial do you convey your hat-pin with you against any saucyness: tho’ I do not know whether such an occasion would accord with Docket’s notions or Hector’s opinions on good practices.

O, thank you, Your Ladyship!

Once I am dresst more suit’d to the time o’day I go down to breakfast. As I cross the hall, I look at the various paintings that are on the walls. There is one that must be Lord K-'s late wife – I go look more closely and see that 'tis Sir Z- R-'s handywork. She was very much in the same style of looks as Lady Rosamund: that fine straight fair hair, the pallor, the profile that speaks of many generations of aristocratick descent. Perchance Lady P- takes the thought that 'tis in Lady Rosamund’s favour. But I mind that Mrs D- K- is in a very different style. I also mind that, altho’ 'tis give out that 'twas his great feeling for his late wife that has led Lord K- to be so apathetick in the pursuit of a second match, I know not whether 'twas some great romance or whether the marriage was made up 'twixt families.

I go into the dining-room and find that Lord and Lady O-, with Lady Emily and Lord U- and Agnes S- are already sat there. Lord U- leaps up to offer to fetch me somewhat from the sideboard.

What, says I, were none of you about a fine morning ride? Perchance you were at the prayer-meeting?

Agnes S- says she thought it proper to go the morn – Dora does not go, makes the excuse that she must be feeding little Arthur – but does not purpose to do so every day. And thinks she will go ride a little after breakfast, do you come along, Nan? Em?

Lady Emily looks about the dining-room and says, mayhap. 'Tis so unlike her to be so indifferent in the matter that I wonder might she be ill. Nan looks at her with somewhat of sisterly exasperation. O, Em, she says.

Once I have breakfast’d and Em has been somewhat reluctant prevail’d upon to join her sister and Agnes S- for a ride, Lord U- says that Lord D- has said there is fine fishing in the stream and purposes go talk to him on the matter, and begs to take his leave.

Why, says I to Lord O-, is this not a fine occasion for us to go discourse upon your book? I will go send for my parasol and we may walk about the grounds – yesterday the lime-tree avenue seem’d quite entire desert’d.

As we walk along, my arm thro’ his, he sighs and says sure he never expect’d to find himself head of a household with all these responsibilities, or at least, not yet and for some years, and yet here he is. They are entire good young people, but are nigh on as much strangers to Society as he is, and also inclin’d to look to him for guidance, now that their father is depart’d for Washington, tho’ he gave very little but prohibitions. It troubles him somewhat that they may go commit some solecism and find themselves barr’d and blackball’d.

I daresay, says I, I should say fie to your worries, but indeed, I think you have some cause. Their aunt that is now in Bombay was a poor guide to the manners of the present day, and of course Lady N-'s condition has left her somewhat out of society. Lord U- is fortunate that he has such a fine godfather that takes an interest in him: but again, tho' Sir C- F- is an excellent fellow he lives somewhat eremitickal as a country squire.

'Tis a great relief to see Geoff show such an inclination to take up the law; but Eddy does not yet show any leaning to any particular course –

(I confide that 'twould be imprudent of me to mention Sir C- F-'s thoughts upon the matter has he not yet open’d them himself.)

But indeed, I did not intend complain to you upon these little family worries –

- why, is there any advice or guidance I may give, you may entirely call upon me. But Lady O- and her sister are quite part of the very good set about Her Grace of M- -

- Oh, my dear Hippolyta takes the greatest admiration for the Duchess! Sure she is an excellent young woman – but indeed, I meant to solicit your criticisms upon my first essays at writing up my travels.

I laugh and say, you should not expect the stringent criticism of Aristarchus from me, I daresay he would say you should go lesson yourself with Sir Walter Raleigh or some such, you are dealing with a common reader and as one I find the parts I have read exceeding answerable. There are some little matters that might improve the narrative but 'tis very little. I show’d the pieces to two young fellows that were most impresst and now desire go to Brazil

Indeed, says I, after I have been to this small party at Lord G-'s, I purpose return to Town for a few days to see how matters go about with the work on my house, and I might take the opportunity to convey your essays to Mr L- for his paper.

That would be most exceeding kind, Your Ladyship. Gives me a deal of confidence that you think I have hit the right note at last.

O, entirely, says I.

We return to the house. I am in some distaste at the thought of taking up my embroidery, and then mind me that surely there could be no objection did Lady B- occupy herself in the drawing-room with beginning upon writing a philanthropick pamphlet for the T-s’ fine work in the antipodes, drawing upon the very usefull matter in the letter I late had from Abby.

So I take my traveling desk into the drawing-room, where indeed some several of the company are sat exchanging gossip, embroidering, playing spillikins &C. We make civil to one another and I chuse a seat where I may not be suppos’d to be cutting myself off from the company, but gives me a little seclusion for my task.

I am about writing up the excellent effect of the convicts being able to have letters writ to send to their lov’d ones, when comes up to me Lady Rosamund, all pretty smiles, saying, O, Lady B-, would you be so gracious as to write a little something in my album?

Why, thinks I, here’s a different tune. Perchance Em has gone cry me up to her, and she sees that 'tis of great utility to be in favour with Lady B-?

But I smile, and take her album, and ponder a little over what I might write, and in due course decide upon that sonnet of the Bard Oh, how much more does beauty beauteous seem, by that sweet ornament which truth doth give, write it out, sand it, and hand it back to the young lady.

She thanks me most exceeding effusive, and then, almost kneeling beside my chair, goes ask whether there is any chance that Lady B- will be delighting the company with one of her fam’d readings?

Looks up Mrs L- J-, that has been giving Lady D- the benefits of her own experience upon the matters of babies and wind, and says, sure, Lady B-, you will not deny us? 'Twould be most exceeding agreeable.

Why, says I, I would not be one of those that goes inflict herself upon the company, but am I solicit’d, why, 'twould be entire churlish to refuse. Mayhap this e’en after dinner, when I shall have had time to look over my Shakspeare and consider upon what I might read.

Lady Rosamund makes quite ecstatick squealings of joy, sure one might suppose I was Mrs Siddons that had offer’d to display her very fine effects in the Scottish play to the assembl’d company.

Comes in Lady Emily, still in her riding habit, and seeing Lady Rosamund, gazes upon her quite like unto her brother Geoffrey upon Sandy.

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