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 Ninth 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

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 )

*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)

Sir C- F- and I make very fond farewells to one another, for has been a most agreeable couple of days, and then I am bound for Lord P-'s, that sure is not an immense distance away.

Sophy remarks to me, as we are sat in the carriage, sure 'twas a very pretty place, but 'twas exceeding quiet. I confide she is us’d to the bustle of Town, and indeed in great houses there is usually a deal a-doing, a lively servants’ hall &C. She adds that she took advantage of that fine herb plot to put up some lotions and washes, they were entire agreeable to her using the stillroom.

Why, says I, I shall be giving excellent good report of you to Docket. Sophy smiles and says she wonders how Docket goes on in Weymouth. I confide, says I, that she and Biddy Smith will be promenading themselves and waxing extreme critickal over the way other ladies are dresst. Sophy giggles and agrees 'tis very like.

I look at her and think how well she has come on since joining our household. Will never be tall, but has fill’d out, and altho’ her looks cannot match those of Dorcas, that are most out of the common fine, is become a pleasing creature that I daresay already finds those that aspire to a kind glance from her.

She takes out some knitting – sure she is admirable diligent.

I open my traveling desk so that I may go scribble a little upon my novel of wreckers and sea-monsters.

But 'tis not long afore we are arriv’d at Lord P-'s fine place: and this year, I apprehend, there will be no bad poet even are there still horrid swans. I am greet’d by Lady P- that expresses great delight at seeing me, I cannot comprehend why except that it be somewhat effusive civility. She goes introduce her daughter, that looks a little sullen at being oblig’d to stand about the hall in order to greet their guests when she might be in the open air among the company.

This, she says with pride, is my daughter, Lady Rosamund, that makes her debut in the coming season.

Lady Rosamund goes make me a somewhat cursory curtesy. I daresay to one of her years I appear quite entire as already one of the fusties. Lady P- gives out a little sigh, and goes on to say that of course D- is already here, and Arthur grows a fine lusty infant.

But what is this about dear Agnes? she says. Shows an entire inclination to accept this offer from some country parson, when she might do so much better.

La, says I, is’t Mr L- you mean? Has been showing most attentive to her. Is a most not’d scholar that moves in learn’d circles, and also has a deal of interest.

Lady P- concedes a little grudging that this makes some difference, but one that might do as well as Agnes S- - seems that she throws herself away.

Why, says I, perchance he may end up a bishop or gain some other fine ecclesiastical advancement (tho’ I think neither Mr L-, nor Agnes S- on his behalf, have any such ambitions). But the prospect greatly mollyfies Lady P-.

She goes on to say that poor D- has latterly been suffering a deal with his megrim: she confides in these fine country airs he will soon improve.

And how does Lady D-?

Comes about remarkable, allows Lady P-, feeds the boy herself, entirely in health (but there is somewhat a little hesitant in how she conveys this intelligence).

(Indeed I apprehend that there is some kind of trouble with Lady D-, tho sure she seems recover’d and does not show melancholick after the fashion of Susannah after Sukey’s birth.)

I proceed to my chamber, where Sophy is already about unpacking, laying out a fine muslin that I may change into, putting out a very charming hat and my parasol. Sophy, says I, as she goes about to help me out of my traveling garb, do you have any occasion to convoke with Copping, there seems somewhat of trouble concerning Lady D-, should like to know what’s ado.

Sophy says that Copping ever shows agreeable and she dares say there will be some fine tea-drinkings while we are here.

Excellent, says I, looking at myself in the mirror and finding the sight very agreeable: sure I am a vain creature. Well, I will go mingle among the other guests.

There is a deal of company – I mind me that Lord P- takes a desire to get rid of his obligations to Society in a bunch, so that he may then return to his darling cows without distraction – including Sir H- and Lady Z-, that promenade together around the lake in a fine display of conjugal amity.

Comes up to me Agnes S-, that is looking exceeding well and happy, takes my hands and squeezes 'em and says, would be extreme gratefull might we contrive to convoke - o, indeed, all goes well, but there are one or two matters –

Why, my dear, says I, I am quite upon the qui vive to know how things go with you. Think you that did we ascend to the Temple of the Winds we might contrive a little solitude?

She looks about and says, sure there are a deal of what Em calls the fusties that I doubt would be inclin’d for the walk, also 'tis nigh upon the hour for tea that I daresay they will find more pressing than the fine views one may obtain from that vantage-point.

I laugh and say, from Lady Rosamund’s expression I fear I am now among the fusties myself, but I should be delight’d to climb up there – I apprehend that is the weather sufficiently clear one may see Wales.

Agnes S- says very pretty that even was Lady B- eighty years old she would still not be a fusty; but let us essay the walk.

As we make the climb up the winding path, she says that Lord and Lady P- go warn all very serious not to try to take a boat under the bridge, for the swans have another brood of cygnets and both mother and father will show extreme ferocious towards intruders.

We laugh somewhat, and then she says, sure one never sees anything lately of Mr W- Y-, I hope he is in health?

Why, says I, I am for some reason in a supposition that he has gone abroad. Tho’ for what purpose, whether 'twas to take the waters or to fight against tyranny -

Miss S- says 'tis far more like the former.

We come to the gazebo in the form of a temple of the winds, and we look about and observe that no-one comes up the path, and we go point out distant sights to one another, and we perceive that the company that is about the lawn and the terrace moves like unto to a flock of sheep towards the drawing-room, so we feel there is little likelyhood of interruption.

Well, says I, sitting myself down upon the marble bench that runs around the interior of the temple, how go matters with you?

O! cries Agnes S-, all comes about quite exceedingly. For I writ to Mr L- concerning my authorship and had the very finest response – has a vision of the two of us sitting in an agreeable parsonage parlour, he about his studies, me about my verses, 'tis entirely a delightfull prospect, he says.

Why, says I, that is a fine thing in him.

And my guardian wrote to him saying that I was not pennyless but had a portion – tho’ he did not say how large 'twas – and Mr L- wrote back to say, he entirely suppos’d 'twould be settl’d upon me, with he dared say provision for any children.

Indeed, says I, better and better.

But - she says, wringing her hands together – I would not say there is opposition exactly, but I am like to suppose that Lady P- was in some hopes that I would marry one that would be advantageous to their family interests –

'Tis entire likely, says I (for indeed do I consider upon it they must have had some hopes in the matter).

- altho’ Lord D- is not so much put about by Mr L-'s theology and liturgickal practice as I had suppos’d he would be, but I think approves that 'tis not an entire matter of worldly advantage

Why, says I, shows well of him.

- but, Agnes S- goes on, Dora. I cannot fathom it. Says I could make a much finer match, mentioning various fellows that I do not incline to and that do not incline to me, save for the thought of repairing their fortunes. Will say that at least 'tis not Mr O’N-, and I will not be going to Ireland, but shows very put about by the notion that I shall be quitting their household and no longer living with 'em.

Indeed 'tis curious, says I, for last year she seem’d eager to have you matcht up and marry’d, even was it not to title or antient lineage, tho’, indeed, to one that all say is like to have a fine distinguisht career –

'Twas Dora’s way, she says with a sigh, did she see a fellow but speak to me civil would be asking did I not have a notion to him. But seems entire chang’d and even as if she does not wish me marry at all.

She then sighs again and says, but – sure she will not speak plain of it, because 'tis one of the mysteries of marry’d women that she will not discourse of to me –

I snort somewhat vulgar –

- but there is something, somewhat that troubles her, that makes her nervous and unlike her wont’d self, in particular towards Lord D-, 'tis worrysome.

I take her hand and squeeze it. Perchance I may come about to find out more in the matter –

But 'tis indeed strange, Dora would ever look to me or our aunt to smooth out her way - o, she was not spoilt, or over-indulg’d, ever entire sweet-natur’d –

I say that one sees that still.

- but indeed she was very much our pet. But now – 'tis almost as if was a stranger.

My dear, says I, may be some quite foolish small matter that bothers her, do you leave it in my hands.

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

Belinda and I take very affectionate leave of one another, and look forward to our next rencontre when I come to Northamptonshire. I desire her to convey my best regards to Captain P-, and also to go give my sweet Jezebel a pat upon the nose and an apple from me – for my lovely Jezzie-girl goes rusticate for the summer, kicking up her heels a little.

I let it be suppos’d that I proceed onwards to Lord P-'s house-party, but I have an intention to make a little visit somewhat discreet before I arrive there, for sure Sir C- F-'s fine property is entirely upon my way to Shropshire, and I go pass a night or so there.

'Tis no grand mansion, but an entire pleasing manor house in a quaint antique style – sure his family have been squires there these many generations.

He comes out to greet me and make a leg, says How now, very civil to Ajax and hopes they may have some discourse of horseflesh, and tells me that his housekeeper will show me to my chamber.

The bed is also in quaint antique style, but there is fine fresh clean lavender-scent’d linen upon it, and, I confide, a mattress that is not of the same antiquity as the bedstead.

Sophy goes look out of the window and remarks upon the very pretty view. Altho, she goes on, there are a deal of red cows.

Indeed, says I, I apprehend that Sir C- F-'s cattle are very well spoke of.

Hot water has been provid’d and I wash off the dust of travel and Sophy arrays me in a simple muslin and sets a cap upon my head. I go downstairs to the parlour.

Sir C- F- says he dares say I should like some tea?

La, says I, did you not promise me fine cider of your own making? Sure if I may I will take a glass.

A maid comes with two mugs of cider and we sit and drink – sure 'tis excellent fine stuff but I confide 'tis deceptively strong and I should not take a second.

We look at one another with antient affection, and I say, I daresay he would desire news of how Lady N- does.

He sighs somewhat, and says, sure I see into his heart.

'Tis excellent fine news, says I, makes an entire difference now she has an invalid carriage and may get about thus, the Marquess has been about alterations at O- House so that she may contrive to move about it with ease, shows most exceptional welcoming to her. Now they are at D- Chase she will spend hours together in the gardens, watching the children at their pastimes. Her spirits are quite vastly improv’d.

He smiles and says, 'tis quite excellent news, but he confides that one cannot hope for miracles and she will ever have to lead an invalid life.

I agree that 'tis so.

He gives a little groan and says that he is in the strongest suspicion that had matters been attend’d to a deal earlyer she would be a deal less crippl’d, but the Earl –

I daresay, says I. Mr H-, that is quite one of the finest surgeons in Town and a very not’d anatomist, will say that altho’ rest is an entire necessity of the process of healing, will come a time when one goes recover from the initial injury that 'tis desirable to undertake exercize for the good of the muscles and to be encourag’d to make an effort, but of course under the care of one that has professional understandings in the matter.

Lord, he says, H- is still about and not fled the country for fear of arrest over matters of body-snatching?

I say that 'twas fear’d might come to that last year when there was a great to-do over resurrection men, but in the event he was not among those nam’d in the business, altho’ there were whispers.

Once invit’d me to observe a dissection, says Sir C- F-. Sure I was oblig’d to run out mid-way for fear of puking. But I daresay 'tis grown quite the habit with him.

Sure he will say that there is none becomes a surgeon without they go spew once whilst observing an operation, but indeed, becomes a habit to 'em and they will approach the task with entire equanimity.

I return to our former subject and say 'tis quite the prettyest thing to observe the care Lord U- has for his mother. Indeed he is an excellent young man that is widely not’d for his good qualities.

Sir C- F- smiles and says, indeed he is a good boy, and runs entire contrary to his sire’s nature.

La, says I, not entire contrary, for would not that impute wild extravagance?

Sir C- F- confides that 'tis so, and adds that he supposes that they cannot yet have heard aught from the Earl – will not even be in sight of the Americk shore yet.

Supposing, says I, that he would be at the expense of the carriage of a letter!

Sir C- F- laughs and then says, sure that penny-pinching habit of his is no laughing matter. But, dear C- - I beg your pardon, Lady B- - I laugh and say, sure we are old friends and are not in fine society, I hope he will take the liberty to call me as he was us’d during that fine summer in Brighton.

C-, then – now you have refresht yourself you might care to step out a little and see the place?

'Twould be entire delightfull, says I, ever provid’d I do not have to go very close to any cows.

Why, my cattle are the gentlest creatures – 'tis a breed entire not’d for the amiability of its nature – but indeed I would not force you to confront a cow.

I am a sad timid creature, says I.

I go fetch my parasol, and we walk out of the house, thro’ a fine cottage garden of flowers and herbs just outside the door. Alas, he says, that I have misst the very fine sight of the orchards in blossoming-time: but he is like to suppose that come the autumn, there will be an excellent crop - tho’ sure one is ever at the mercy of accidents of weather.

Indeed there are a deal of fruit-trees, apples and pears – besides the cider, he remarks, he makes a very good perry, that we might have with dinner – and one may quite imagine how very beautifull they must be when they are in bloom. He goes talk a deal of the different kinds of apple, and various grafting experiments he makes.

We do pass by several fields of his fine red white-fac’d cattle, but there are stout fences, and sure they present exceeding placid.

These fellows, he says, are fine beef cattle, and you will be tasting how very good beef they come to at dinner. Has a few dairy cows for milk and butter but does not make any business of it. He discourses of matters of breeding, and feeding, and the great improvements there have been of recent generations.

He looks about him and breathes in the fine air, and says, sure he regrets he does not have a son to leave this to, when his family have been here so long. But – Oh, says he, he knows that there are plenty of fellows go marry even if 'tis not to their first choice; but has always felt as if he stood ready to come did she call: 'tis somewhat that would be hard for a wife to understand, 'tis not even as tho’ it could be the common matter 'twixt man and woman –

I take his hand and squeeze it and say that his feelings do him entire credit (sure indeed I feel somewhat tearfull, for 'tis a very beautifull thing), and indeed, she is a very fine woman. One may observe the affection in which her offspring hold her.

Exactly so, says he. He was in some mind to leave the place to Charles, but then he minds that he will fall heir to the very pleasing N- properties, and mayhap should leave it to one of his brothers, that will otherwise have only a younger son’s portion.

An excellent fine thought, says I. I apprehend that Mr Geoffrey M- has some mind to going into law, but I do not know what ambitions Mr Edward M- might have –

Sure, says Sir C- F-, has not show’d any inclination to the Army or the Church – but there is no exceeding hurry, I may sound the matter out further when Charles and his mother come visit.

We turn back towards the house, and he remarks that he keeps country hours and we shall be dining very shortly.

'Tis a most excellent fine dinner that is serv’d up to us, and sure the beef is quite the nonpareil of its kind, and the perry is most delicious, but, like the cider, I suspect somewhat deceptive, so I take it with caution.

Our conversation turns to chearfull reminiscence of our summer in Brighton, that was indeed a most agreeable interlude – I had been feeling a little desolate on account of dear Captain K-, as he then was, being post’d to the China Seas, but indeed my spirits were entirely benefitt’d by the sanitive airs, the many entertainments and amenities of the town, and Sir C- F-'s company.

And indeed, 'twixt these happy memories, and the effect of the perry in livening the blood, we find ourselves looking upon one another as we did in those happy days, when we would be at a ball, or a card-party, and our eyes would meet, and we would take our leave of the company, and return to our very pleasing apartments and go romp with great ardour.

Indeed, says Sir C- F- with a little embarrassment, I did not invite you with any intentions, but sure you are still a lady of most exceeding attractions.

I smile upon him - for indeed, 'tis some while since I have pay’d my dues to Aphrodite, and 'tis yet a tiresome while until I shall be with my darlings – and say that he is still a most appealing fellow.

And so matters are once more between us as they were that happy summer.

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

Belinda and I consider the notion of going visit the tenant farmers, but conclude that could only be embarrassing do they go complain upon any matter that is not within our power to remedy, and we entire confide that there are a deal of matters that should have been took in hand long since was the estate under proper hand. We sigh. For altho 'tis not quite in the condition describ’d in Goldsmith’s poem, 'tis by no means the fine estate it might be.

We therefore thank the agent very civil and say that we will go do our utmost to exhort Chancery to find some means to undertake the matter, but sure we are not entire sanguine that they would come to any decision afore the crack o’doom.

The agent sighs and says, at least when the late Marquess was in life one might correspond with him, as his late father did, and he would go authorize any matter that was in need of seeing to, even did he have no closer interest in his estate. But now! – 'twixt the present Marquess being entire lunatick, alas, and his affairs in the hands of Chancery –

Belinda and I exchange glances and I apprehend we both take some thought as to the lunatick Marquess’s notorious stingyness and the likelyhood that, was he in his wits, the estate would most like fare no better and perchance even worse.

We commend the way the agent goes on in such very trying circumstance, and declare that, may we ever be of any service to him, we shall be entire happy &C&C. Belinda indeed gives him some recommendations does he ever go to the races, and says, does he ever require a fine hunter for his own use, she can put him in the way of one at a most agreeable price.

We leave him at his premises, after having taken leave, and drive back to the inn, where we purpose stay another night so that we may convoke upon this business and engage in more general gossip.

We go into our private parlour and desire tea to be brought as soon as maybe.

Tho’, says Belinda, when I consider the rack and ruin that is come to what might be an exceeding fine estate, sure I am like to call for brandy, and plenty of it.

Indeed 'tis a melancholick sight, says I. Tho’ I confide may have been a somewhat gloomy place, low-lying as ‘tis, at its best: but I daresay did one cut back those overhanging trees, pull down some of the ivy that creeps up over the windows, bring the gardens back to what they us’d to be, might appear chearfull enough. But sure 'tis an exceeding great contrast to my late husband’s villa at Naples, that was all light and air, and fine open views.

Comes the tea and we indulge in the cup that chears - indeed it brings us to better spirits, and we go consider over how Belinda might present the matter to Chancery, and what is the least one might do. We are both of the opinion that, since the tenant-farmers have been commend’d, 'tis those matters of drainage &C that ought come first, lest they depart.

Sure, says Belinda, I confide they will consider us remarkable business-like - for ladies.

We both laugh somewhat immoderate, for without having undue conceit of ourselves, I think we may consider that we are prudent businesswomen. Sure, says I, I do not think you, dear Belinda, go giving away fine horses simply because you like the cut of a fellow’s jib.

Indeed not, she says. And sure, I will remark that making a gift to Lady B- has led to a deal of solicitations to us to procure fine looking but gentle mounts for ladies.

I laugh somewhat immoderate. O, indeed, 'tis the like of those fellows that send me samples of their china &C. Really, my dear, 'twas entire kindness in you and I am sure you did not think that 'twould lead to that.

Perchance not! For indeed, we had not been in any thought about mounts for ladies that were not bruising riders to hounds, but indeed, 'tis a pleasing addition to our business.

We look at one another with great affection. She says that they greatly look forward to my visit: they are in a little sadness that could not be contriv’d that Josh might come stay a little.

I laugh and say, why, there is the matter of Josh’s traveling menagerie: 'twas a deal of a business getting all in order so that might be safely convey’d north with 'em. But also, his brother Harry comes home for a little while as a holiday from his apprenticeship in engineering, and Josh would not desire to miss his brother’s company.

Belinda says she dares say they might contrive to house a menagerie: tho’ she knows not whether they might have food fit for a wombatt or a mongoose. I laugh and say, 'tis more a matter of preventing the wombatt from eating the carpets &C, and the mongoose is not particular in its diet – except that, 'tis most peculiar, altho’ they will fight and kill snakes, do not eat 'em. I daresay might were they extreme hungry, but 'tis not a dish they relish. So 'twould not be needfull to lay on a diet of serpents

I go stretch myself a little and say that I will go change, and I daresay 'tis country hours and we dine exceeding early?

Belinda agrees that 'tis so.

So I go have Sophy take off my walking-dress, that is in some need of brushing, and dress me in somewhat loose and comfortable, and then return to the parlour, where they are about laying up the table so that we may dine.

'Tis simple fare but well-cookt and there is plenty of it.

When we are come to the end of the meal and go sit with a little entire sanitive port and madeira, Belinda asks do I care to hear how matters go with her undear lunatick husband?

Why, says I, I should like to be assur’d that he is well secur’d and will not go escape again.

Oh, says Belinda, he is well-watcht after that; for indeed, 'twould do little for their reputation did it get about that one of their lunaticks levant’d and contriv’d to get to Town. No, 'tis mostly to say is surly and filthy in his habits &C. But there was a curious matter in the latest report –

Oh? says I. I hope 'tis not that he goes about to be restor’d to his wits. For has come to my attention that, altho’ he committ’d crimes, as he is a peer of the realm he may go cry privilege over a first offence for anything short of murder or treason, and go entire free from penalty.

Belinda expresses shock and horror over this. No, she goes on, he does not come about to show sane - what 'twas, was that he had a visitor -

What, says I, who would go visit him? I had not suppos’d he had many friends, that would go call upon him in his durance.

Indeed, says Belinda, she confides 'twas not a friend – indeed, she does not collect he had any – but some fellow that the keepers suppos’d conduct’d an investigation into some dubious matter in his Surrey parish. Sure one might quite imagine that he would have been readyly brib’d to undertake the office hugger-mugger over some runaway match – or indeed to tear from the register some birth or marriage that is now found inconvenient to be known of –

Did they, says I, say what the fellow’s name was? (Tho’ was’t Mr R- O-, as I am in considerable suspicion 'twas, I daresay he would give some incognito.)

No, she says, did not say. But his visit greatly agitat’d the poor Marquess, they report, set him off into one of his raving fits about that wanton jezebel, that suppos’d sea-captain’s wife, that temptress that was no better than she should be.

I am struck with a chill, tho’ there is sunlight pours in at the window and the room is by no means cold.

Why, says I, I confide they suppose that the lady is some phantasm of a sickly mind.

Most like, agrees Belinda. My dear, take a little more madeira, 'tis entire good for you.

So Mr H- gives it out, says I, and sure he is reput’d one that understands these matters of the bodily oeconomy. I sigh and go on, tho’ sure he is an imprudent fellow in the pursuit of the understanding of such matters: 'tis not at all long since that scandal about resurrection men, and 'twas very much rumour’d that he had had to do with 'em, but did he so, such dealings never came into court. One would think 'twould render him cautious; but lately his man said somewhat to Hector that leads me to suppose that he still dabbles in the business.

Say you so! a shocking matter.

Indeed, says I, and yet his intention is to advance knowledge, that one would suppose praiseworthy.

We shake our heads: 'tis a tangl’d problem that I daresay was I a philosopher I might unknot and determine the rights and wrong of, but as 'tis, cannot come at what I should think in the light of Universal Law.

To change the subject to something more agreeable, I go show Belinda the little painting of Flora by Mr de C-, that I keep in the secret compartment of my traveling desk, and she exclaims upon what a fine girl she is grown, and says she looks out for a pony for her.

We go to bed betimes but I find myself lying wakefull in somewhat of a fret over the likelyhood that Mr R- O- has been about interrogating the mad Marquess, and what he may suppose he might discover by that means, especial given the craz’d ravings that are report’d. 'Tis greatly worrysome.

But at least, thinks I, I am in some suspicion that he is about this matter, and forewarn’d is forearm’d.

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The Marquess looks out the letters he sent to his brother and shows 'em to me. Indeed, says I, these will serve exceedingly as a foundation for a fine volume upon your travels. Sure you will need extract passages, and omit allusions to your relatives and childhood friends, for tho’ I suppose your brother was most amuz’d to hear your comparison of a certain great-aunt to a llama, or rather, that the creature reminded you of her greatly, even unto the spitting habit, I apprehend that this would best not be expos’d to a general readership.

'Tis true, he says, and the aunt is yet in life, and still spits when she speaks.

Also, says I, I am most exceeding prepossesst by the little drawings you include and wonder might one by some means incorporate 'em into your narrative. Sure I think we should desire Mr MacD- to join in our convockation, for he has a deal to do with publishing matters.

Sandy is entire delight’d to be of the party, makes many usefull suggestions, discourses knowledgeably concerning the means by which illustrations may be includ’d within a book, and also remarks that there are certain episodes that constitute detacht stories that he wonders might Lord O- considering introducing to the publick in some periodical, that would rouse interest for the complet’d volume.

Why, says I, is not Mr L- always desirous of copy? Particular at this season.

Indeed, says Sandy, would serve quite admirably, his paper becomes exceeding well-thought-of both for its reporting and for its reviews and articles on matters of more general interest.

Sure, says the Marquess, do you propose this journal to me it must be quite the highest recommendation.

We both go descant upon Mr L-'s excellences as an editor and as a journalist.

Sure 'tis extreme agreeable to be here at D- Chase and see all so happy and to be among such good friends, but I am promist to go look over the matter of T- with Belinda so even tho’ I am besought to stay just a day or so longer, I must be off.

Since Docket is not with us, but enjoying the fine sanitive sea airs of Weymouth in Biddy Smith’s company, we make a somewhat long day of travel, and arrive at the inn that Belinda and I have chose for our rendezvous in the evening.

I find her already there, having bespoke their two best bedrooms and a private parlour. We embrace very warm, and she says she has told 'em to send up a little supper against my arrival.

Sure, says I, Arabella put up a fine basket for us to take along with us, but indeed a little refreshment afore I go fall into bed will be exceeding gratefull, especial is there a restorative glass of madeira to it.

As I eat – 'tis plain fare but good and fresh – Belinda discourses of how Captain P- does, how matters go with their business, the very fine colt that Cherry-ripe bore that they have most exceeding hopes of. 'Tis pleasing to hear how well matters go with 'em.

Then she looks at me and laughs and says, dearest C-, I can see your eyelids go droop, there will be time to exchange further news the morrow.

I smile and say, indeed, a day of travel is extreme exhausting even in such a fine carriage as mine with Ajax on the box, and also would not wish to keep Sophy up, is a young thing that needs her rest.

So I go to my bedchamber, and make sure that Sophy has din’d – o yes, she says, they fed us exceeding well in the kitchen, excellent hospitable – and she goes ready me for bed, and sure 'tis a very comfortable one, and I am asleep very soon. I am woke a little by the cock that goes crow upon the dawn, but soon fall back to slumber.

Sophy comes bring my chocolate and opens the shutters and says, 'tis a pretty morning, Your Ladyship: but you were sleeping so sweet and peacefull I did not like to wake you earlyer.

I rise and go look out of the window and observe Belinda that sits upon the mounting-block talking very amiable with Ajax. But I confide that Belinda is entire us’d to be up at cock-crow.

Why, says I, I entirely confide Docket would have done the like. And I daresay that what I should wear today would be some walking-dress, not too fine, but fine enough to demonstrate my consequence to this fellow that is the agent for the estate.

Sophy nods and says, there is hot water entire ready for you to wash, Your Ladyship. So I go wash, and she arrays me entire suitable for the day’s business, saying, perchance not a parasol, but a hat with a fine shady brim?

Entirely so, says I, but will not put it on just yet.

I go into the parlour, where I find Belinda sitting at table and laughing at me as a sore slugabed.

'Tis so, says I, but I hope you had an agreeable convockation with Ajax?

Indeed, says she, pouring us both coffee and taking a muffin.

Sure the eggs they serve are nigh on as good as Martha’s. But we do not linger at table but go to the premises where the agent conducts business and take him up in my carriage so that we may drive out to T-.

He is most anxious that somewhat might be done about the estate: sure there are improvements that would be most desirable, he fears the tenant-farmers may go leave is there not attention given to matters of drainage and hedging &C, and they are good solid fellows, 'twould entire repay any outlay.

Belinda sighs, and says Chancery, alas.

The agent sighs and says, 'tis a word strikes despair, and proceeds to some long account of some local fellow that took a case to Chancery that stretcht out some several generations.

As we come along the drive, that is heavily overhung by trees, he sighs and says, sure they should be cut back, his father can still recall what a fine sight us’d to be, but 'tis a very gloomy prospect now.

We go into the house that strikes extreme chill even tho’ 'tis such a warm day. All is under dust-sheets. One may see that, was it furbisht up, would be very fine, but as 'tis, is a desolate place entire fit for some Gothick novel.

The agent says that they conduct an annual inspection and undertake any necessary repairs, does the roof leak or is some window broke, and if necessary have a ratting - sure there are fellows in the locality would pay bring their terriers to a fine ratting, lay bets upon 'em &C.

Belinda, that I daresay is somewhat of a connoisseur in the matter, says that a ratting may be a fine sight, and they talk terriers for a while.

I remark that 'tis in a deal better repair than B- House in Town before we went furbish that up. But would certainly require work before 'twas fit for habitation.

We go walk out onto the terrace, that is most agreeable after how gloomy 'tis within-doors, and one may see that at one time the gardens were most exceeding fine but now are greatly overgrown, no longer a wild garden but an entire wilderness. In the distance one may perceive the tower of the fam’d folly.

We ask about the folly and the agent sighs and says, 'twas built as a mock-ruin, as was the fancy of that former generation, 'tis now quite a real ruin that one winter storm, I daresay, will entirely bring down.

No hermit? I ask.

He says that a hermit would have to be desperate indeed to live there, the wind whistles thro’ even does the place not go tumble about his ears.

He takes us about the place a little, without we are oblig’d to walk through nettle-beds &C, and there is a fine chapel that must be of considerable antiquity, to which is annex’d the family mausoleum.

O, says I, I should greatly like to go see my late husband’s tomb and lay flowers upon it.

'Tis fortunate that Belinda ever carries a neat little knife in her reticule, that is sharp enough to cut me some roses from the untend’d bushes that overgrow any beds they were previous confin’d to, and also to trim the thorns from the stems so that I may carry them without hurt.

The agent unlocks the grille, that is exceeding rusty and creaks and squeaks mightyly when 'tis open’d.

I go in, and they display excellent ton by leaving me to the matter, as I walk in and peer at the monuments to see which pertains to the dear good Marquess I marry’d.

I find it at length, and kneel down beside it to lay the flowers at its foot, and lean my head a little upon the cold stone that is engrav’d with his name and his dates of birth and death and naught else – sure I wonder, as I kneel there, whether he might have preferr’d a fine funeral pyre in the classickal fashion than to be in this dark gloomy vault so unlike his fine sunlit villa.

I daresay he would not have car’d what happen’d to his corporeal remains after death provid’d his wishes were carry’d out. Indeed, I think, he would be proud of Marcello. I am in no supposition that his spirit lingers, and yet I whisper very low how matters go.

I leave the flowers there and walk out into the sunlight, where Belinda and the agent are talking hunting very amiable together.

The agent enquires is there anything else we should desire see? Belinda and I look at one another and sigh deeply. For indeed, 'tis exceeding discouraging to see the state of the place, and consider how much needs doing, and how much worse 'tis like to get in the time it may take Chancery to come at some decision that work might be authoriz’d.

Sure, thinks I, I had quite entirely the best part of the Marquess’s legacy.

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That e’en after dinner (sure Arabella shows exceedingly) we have a little dancing, with Miss Millick playing the piano for us, 'tis extreme agreeable and I see quite delights Hester to watch us about it.

When 'tis done, Sandy and I are besought to undertake a little reading for the company. I have been about the library to find some plays that are not Shakspeare, to supply a little variety, and give 'em Mrs Malaprop, that is lik’d exceedingly. There is a proposal that mayhap on the morrow, we might read some play, or part of one, together? 'Tis a pleasing thought.

'Tis also desir’d that Lord O- tells us more of his adventures, that mightily impress the company. (Sure the morrow I must convoke with him about this matter of writing 'em down.)

I sleep most exceeding peacefull and wake only when Sophy comes bring my chocolate.

I ask her how she does in the household, and she says, o, Your Ladyship, most excellent well, Lorimer and Brownlee show exceeding hospitable and they sit together about their sewing and talk of their profession. And there is no saucyness from the menservants.

I am pleas’d to hear it, says I. And as 'tis still quite early of the morn, I will go take a little ride afore breakfast.

'Tis most exceeding pleasant, and I return with a fine appetite.

Sebastian K- is also at table. He says, sure 'tis shocking ton to raise such a matter during this very agreeable house-party, but he apprehends that I go visit my lead-mine, and indeed, they, that is, he and his father, would be most interest’d in establishing a business connexion in the matter, so would desire to be beforehand.

Why, says I, those matters are in the hands of the manager, an excellent fellow, one Mr M-, but do you say a little more to me concerning the business, I will open it to him during my visit there. Do you wait but a little while while I go change, and get my little memorandum book, and we may discourse a little on the matter.

So we do so, walking up and down and around the rose-garden, and proceed from a discussion of that very usefull mineral lead to how matters go with the polish factory, and about Euphemia and Seraphine’s preserves and pickles, and how exceeding prepossessing Herr P- comes on in the matter of business in Germany. 'Tis gratifying.

He then says, sure he would greatly enjoy further converse, but has been promis’d a lesson in archery that he should not wish to miss. Seems quite the crack at present.

Indeed, says I, was very popular at the Q- house-party, and Lady Emily is quite entire Maid Marian.

He goes off to where the butt has been set up.

I see that Hester has been wheel’d out in her chair to sit beside the fountain – 'tis clear she relishes this most extreme, and would sit out in the sunlight all day.

I walk over to her. She looks at my pretty muslin and sighs a little and says, you are always so well-dresst, dear C-, but sure must be exceeding dull for Brownlee to have to deal with my dull wardrobe.

Why, my dear Hester, there is no need at all for your wardrobe to be dull, just because you do not go about in Society. Sure does it not greatly elevate the spirits to be pleasingly dresst?

O, she cries, clasping her hands, do you think I might? Is’t possible?

I consider over this for a little. I daresay that one might contrive – a fine dressmaker might I confide come visit rather than you go to her – you are able stand a little, are you not? – she nods – so you might be measur’d and fitt’d at your convenience. Indeed I cannot see why should not answer. I will go about to desire Docket to advance your interest with Mamzelle Bridgette.

I perch upon the rim of the fountain and look at her. One may still see that at one time she must have been exceeding handsome. Sure, says I, perchance you might also have your hair dresst differently? And while I daresay you should not wish to paint, there are very fine washes and lotions for the complexion.

She sighs and says, for so many years has been her only aspiration to be clean and tidy, sure she never thought to primp. But, she says with determination, so be 'tis not vanity, she will be about it.

But, she goes on, now I am quite embarkt upon a course of self-indulgence, I will open to you another matter.

Why, says I, say on.

'Tis Milly, she says – Miss Millick, that has been governess here these many years, but that will be out of that place once Lou leaves the schoolroom. And 'tis not as tho’ we yet have a new generation ready to take up the horn-book &C. And, she continues a little sadly, I am like to suppose that Tony and Nan might desire a somewhat younger person that has more understanding of the modern ways. Now, my dear C-, I was in some notion to ask you was there any in your circles that might require a governess, but indeed, poor Milly’s age is against her and these days it seems more is expect’d. And indeed one hears that the lot of a governess may be very harsh -

Indeed, 'tis so, says I, thinking of that horrid D- family in which Ellie N- was employ’d.

- and already since Nan and Em have gone into Society, she has been acting somewhat as a companion to me, to fetch and carry, read to me am I too tir’d to read to myself, play a little musick, and such. Would it be exceeding selfish in me to desire her to remain in that capacity?

La, says I, did you desire a companion I am sure Lord U- would consider it entire proper, but might suppose you would desire some younger brisker woman –

O, she cries, I am us’d to Milly, and sure I should be distresst to cast her upon the world.

Why, says I, seems entire answerable.

Comes Arabella across the lawn with a tray, and Selina at her heels, saying she doubts not that Lady N- would like a little sustenance at about this time.

Oh, she says, that is so kind. And I hope that naughty puss has not been troubling you.

Indeed not, says Arabella, bending down to stroke Selina’s head. What a fine cat she is to be sure. She and Lady N- smile at one another. She then turns to me and says, there is a collation laid in the drawing-room does Lady B- wish to partake.

Indeed, says I, this very fine air gives one a great appetite, so may I leave you to Selina’s company, my dear?

Hester smiles and says, she doubts not that Selina makes up to her for titbits and not for the pleasure of her company, the naughty creature, but indeed, do you, Lady B-, go partake.

I walk back towards the house with Arabella, that desires me to advance to Lord O- the desirability of certain improvements in the kitchens at D- Chase, for they are by no means as up to the mark as the ones at O- House.

Indeed I shall, says I, and upon going into the house make a little note in my memorandum book.

I find Lord O- in the drawing-room, that says, the archers have carry’d away a pique-nique to sit about and imitate the Merry Men in Sherwood Forest, but he is come to such an age and has spent so much time of necessity eating in such circumstance, that he prefers to sit in a chair, at a table.

I open to him Arabella’s thoughts upon kitchens - tho’ says I, I confide one might not be about improvements while you have company in the house.

Also, seeing that we are alone, I mention the Earl of I-, that was formerly Lord J-, and enquire whether he had any acquaintance with him. He shakes his head, but says he dares says there are some dubious dealings behind and there are fellows he might go sound out to discover more.

After a pause, he says, are you at leisure, Lady B-, perchance we might convoke over this matter of my writings?

Indeed, says I, 'tis an excellent time to do so.

So we go to the very agreeable room in the turret that he has set aside and furnisht as a study, that I exclaim upon considerable – has fine views and one may indeed see the archers. He hands me over some several pages and says, he can see himself that 'tis sad dry stuff, lacks that vigour that he has enjoy’d in the works of a certain Incognita Lady –

O, poo, says I, does one deal of curses and hauntings and horrid experiments the reader will read on very absorb’d.

But I con over his pages and indeed they lack that spark that animates the account when he tells it. I frown a little over the matter and sure I see points where I might present the thing more telling, just as I may when I scrutinize Josiah’s speeches for Parliament.

I then go ponder a little and say, sure I might come about to work this up, but I wonder, has he thought about who he goes address the narrative to? Did he perchance have some general reader in mind, and sit down to write as if conveying the matter in a letter, rather than as a scientifick report, just as when he tells his tales to the company he shapes 'em to their apprehension, might well answer.

Why, he says, indeed I think you hit it off, Lady B-. Sure there are already letters I writ to my poor brother, for altho’ was such a sickly fellow, greatly relisht the tales of my adventures. I had not thought of that, but indeed, do I go look 'em over – for he preserv’d 'em very carefull, the dear fellow. He sighs somewhat.

He then says, sure that is an excellent fine thought, and goes on, but indeed, should still be very gratefull might you look over my manuscript once 'tis more advanc’d, to see whether I have got the knack of the matter.

Gladly, says I.

He then makes a very generous offer of a donation to one or other of my good causes, that I am very pleas’d to accept.

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Why, says I at length to Hester, perchance I shall go wander in the maze – am I not return’d by the time to dress for dinner, you might send one to search for me.

She laughs gently and says, she confides that Lady B- is ever able to find her way out of a predicament.

Oh, poo, says I, I do not think I have ever before contriv’d to traverse a maze. Sure I may come to crawling thro’ hedges, sure 'tis a good thing that Docket is not with me to chide me for spoiling my gown.

I stand up and follow the path that she tells me will take me in the direction of the labyrinth. I am approaching the place where one begins venture into its windings when comes quite panting up to me the Honble Geoffrey M-, that desires me very effusive to permit him to conduct me thro’ the maze, for sure, Lady B-, 'tis most exceeding confusing do you not have the trick of it.

Why, says I, that is most exceeding civil of you, Mr M-, for I am sure that you have more entertaining matters to be about the day.

He blushes mightyly and declares that naught could be so congenial as to accompany Lady B-.

I smile upon him and say, sure you make pretty speeches. But indeed, sure I am an Ariadne that would wish some Theseus to guide her (it then comes to me that 'twas Ariadne that guid’d Theseus: but no matter).

I slip my hand into his arm and desire him to lead on.

'Tis, I confide, an occasion he has long desir’d in order to unbosom himself to me about how matters go with him.

He has a thought, he tells me, to go in for law, for a fellow should have some occupation and not be an idle fribble and wastrel.

'Tis most meritorious, says I, sure one sees a deal of idle young fellows about Town, and while there are those can afford a life of entire frivolity there are many that cannot.

Indeed, says Mr M-, altho’ U- has lookt over the accounts and thinks he may increase Eddy’s and my allowances, sure a deal of high living would ruin us very shortly: but U- has very kindly said that he does not see why we should not be able to run a fine new phaeton, and while we were at A- spoke to Lord R- and Lord V- about who might be the best carriage-makers in that line.

He then pauses and says, we must take this turn, that one is deceptive and will lead us into a dead end.

Why, says I, sure you are so well-spoke of as a whip, 'twould be entire proper for you to have some better vehicle.

He blushes and says, when the matter comes about, he hopes he may take me driving?

Indeed, says I, 'twill be an entire pleasure.

And sure, he goes on, there is no harm in healthfull recreation when one is set upon a course of study.

Indeed not, says I, but tell me more about this proposition that you should study law.

So he tells me, with interruptions to determine which way we should turn, and I am not in the least surpriz’d that he has been greatly influenc’d by his conversation with Sandy as to the utility of studying law, for even does he not practise there are a deal of matters in which it comes in usefull, and provides valuable training of the mental capacities, &C.

(And of course, thinks I, 'tis consider’d one of the gentlemanly professions along with the Army and the Church, and I cannot suppose either of those particular congenial to the Honble Geoffrey.)

Why, says I, 'tis a fine thing for a fellow to have a profession to his name and a means to earning a living, and not be hanging out in hopes of inducing some heiress to marry him.

He blushes and says, sure his sisters – you must know what girls are, Lady B- - go advance Miss S-'s interest. And indeed, she is a very amiable young woman and acts very pleasing, Miss A- greatly commends the clarity and apprehension with which she speaks her lines, but really, a fellow does not like it for his sisters to go match-make for him.

(I smile to myself. Sure they are young and have not yet learnt those subtle arts by which one may prefer a lady whose interest one wishes advance to a gentleman’s attention, but I confide that they will improve in the matter. Tho’ I then collect that Lady J- entire lackt any subtle art in the matter for all her years.)

We come, to my considerable relief, to the centre of the maze with the quaint sundial. It has some motto carv’d around it, but 'tis in Latin, so I do not attempt read it.

We pause for a little, and Mr M- asks should I care for snuff. I say, thank you, o, but do indeed indulge yourself.

(I am like to suppose that he has been about practising the elegant taking of snuff, and indeed manages the matter very pretty.)

He says that Lord R- has a very pretty snuffbox, that he says I gave him?

Indeed, says I, 'twas a gift to celebrate our long friendship (I confide that Milord did not go demonstrate the hidden naughty device, that is quite out of the common, and that we both find most amuzing).

Is he not an excellent fine fellow? cries Mr M-, and goes expatiate at some length upon Milord’s virtues, his aptitude at manly sports, his apprehension of a deal of politickal questions, his exceeding nice opinions upon the theatre, and the very fine manly affection he displays towards Mr MacD- despite the difference in their stations. But, of course, Mr MacD-'s qualities are such that must recommend him very widely within Society.

'Tis so, says I, very demure to conceal my amuzement. I have quite the greatest admiration for Mr MacD-'s qualities of mind myself.

I am then oblig’d to hear Mr M- expatiate at length upon this topic as we go wend our way out of the maze, tho’ he does mind what he is about and continues turning in a direction that will not leave us maz’d.

We come out nigh unto the hothouses, within which I see Lord and Lady O- with their heads together over some plant.

Geoffrey says sure Nan becomes quite besott’d with botany, he supposes it must be to make civil to her husband that she takes interest in such dry matter.

(I have no idea whether Mr M- has read that most entertaining and instructive work by Dr Darwin upon The Loves of the Plants, that must lead one to suppose that the study of botany is not so very far from the warmer passions of humanity.)

They look up and see us and wave, indicating that we may come in.

O, says Nan, Tony was just telling me of where he found this specimen, 'tis a most exciting tale – do you tell it 'em.

The Marquess smiles somewhat doating, says he doubts not that she is entire prejudic’d but does she desire he will recount the tale over again.

'Tis indeed a most thrilling narrative and I hear Mr M- sighing in wonder and envy beside me. Sure can Lord O- tell of his adventures thus, 'tis a great pity he cannot write 'em as effective. But perchance I may come at some stratagem in the matter.

'Tis a little close in the hothouse, and I say that I should desire go tell Lady N- that I have succeed’d in braving the labyrinth and was not oblig’d to encounter a minotaur, that I should not like at all to do, for I am exceeding frighten’d of cows.

(I perceive that Mr M- greatly desires protect me from furious bulls.)

Alack, says I, that I must go to Lord P-'s, that cannot come to believe that there are none do not suppose cows the finest thing in creation, and will boast 'em the gentlest tenderest creatures.

Nan suddenly snorts and says, and are not the swans upon his lake deem’d exceeding vicious? (I confide she has heard the tale of Mr W- Y-.)

Lord O- says sure the cattle he has seen about in England seem fine placid creatures, 'tis an entire different matter in other parts of the world, and goes tell us some fine tales of wild cattle upon the pampas and the very savage buffaloes that may be found at the Cape.

Mr M- follows on by saying Sir C- F- has remarkt that even the most placid and amiable of cows in his herd will become fierce do they have a calf and fear for it.

Indeed, says I, have heard the like.

Lord O- says he confides such extreme manifestation of maternal feeling is common in the animal creation, and recounts some tales.

O dear, says I, I hope that the hinds in the deer-park do not take exception to the girls, that go walk there to see the pretty fawns.

Mr M- says, has heard that the only time 'tis imprudent to walk about the herd is when the stags are in rut, for they become exceeding ferocious and as they have those wick’d antlers, might do one a considerable mischief. But, he says, seeing my look of concern, 'twill not be until the autumn that they do thus.

And, says Lord O-, one will hear when they are, a deal of bellowing.

Mr M- escorts me to his mother, that sits among the girls that tell her about the darling little fawns, how sweet they are, how pretty &C. Mr M- remarks that they will grow up into very delicious venison, at which they cry upon him mightyly and I fear Lady Louisa may go hit him.

O, says Bess to me, will not Josh be jealous? – she turns to Hester and says, that is my middle brother, has a great fondness for animals –

O, says little Lou, sure I told you, Mama, he has a menagerie, with a wombatt and a badger and ferrets and dormice, and a mongoose that is the most inquisitive thing in creation.

Mr M- sighs and says, all they had were white mice -

- that, his sister goes on, you let escape and sure Selina manifest’d herself a mighty huntress upon 'em.

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We go into breakfast upon our return to the house, and find the Honble Edward and Geoffrey sitting with Sandy and Sebastian K- and all expatiating upon the very excellent swimming they have just enjoy’d, quite entire got into the habit at A- and find there is a stretch of the stream here that will serve for the purpose.

Lord U- looks at 'em and says, he hopes 'tis a well-shelter’d stretch of the stream. (I confide they go bathe in an entire state of nature, and a very pleasing sight must be, for are all well-set-up fellows: but indeed there are matters of protecting maidenly modesty to be consider’d.)

O, indeed, says the Honble Edward, 'tis well away from the footpath and willows grow along the bank. But is’t not prime sport?

Sandy smiles and says, one of the best, but sure there is no comparison to swimming in the sea. They look envious.

Come in Lord and Lady O-, that I daresay may have been about some most enjoyable indoor exercize, for they set to the fine spread laid with most excellent appetite.

I pour myself some more coffee – sure Arabella entire has the knack of it, for 'tis excellent – and say, 'tis really shocking poor ton, but might I beg an opportunity to convoke with Mr MacD- upon a matter of business? For, says I, I purpose go visit my Shropshire estate after I have been at Lord P-'s, and there are one or two little matters upon which I should desire his advice.

The Marquess says that there can be entirely no objection, and we could have the library to ourselves this forenoon, he supposes, do we like.

That is most exceeding kind, says I, if 'tis agreeable to Mr MacD-?

Sandy looks at me in some amuzement and says, how could it be otherwise? He is ever quite entire at Lady B-'s service. (Sure he sits too far away for me to kick him.)

So after breakfast is done, and I have had Sophy put me on some suitable morning-dress, I go sit in the library, that sure indeed is a very fine one, that I should desire to explore further when I have leisure to it.

Enters Sandy, saying, how now, dearest sibyl, what problem of business do you have that I may solve? – and, by the way, Mr K- is in some desire to convoke with you over matters of lead that are pertinent to their interests.

La, says I, 'twas but a plausible excuse for some private convockation without Mr Geoffrey M- bursting in upon us or Bess desiring me to tell the girls about the theatre or some such interruption. No, 'twas not about my mine, 'twas a troubling matter that came about while I was at Q-.

Sandy looks at me and says, he supposes 'tis no matter that would require G- to call out Sir V- P-, is it?

Sure, can I not avoid the attentions of an antient ram, I shall have lost all my wont’d skills. No, 'twas the Earl of I-.

I open to him the matter, and what the Contessa had told me, and the Earl’s connexion to Mr R- O-.

Sandy looks thoughtfull. I wonder, he says – sure one has the highest esteem for the Contessa and the acuity of her judgement, but is’t possible that she did not interrogate too close into the politickal leanings of a fine amuzing young fellow that was an English milord? If I am not out in my calculations, I confide that she must have known him at about the time when Naples was under the Napoleonick yoke -

Why, says I, when he might have been entire sincere in any sympathies he expresst towards rising up against 'em, might he not?

We look at one another and remark that sure one would be interest’d to learn further of his itinerary upon his Grand Tour.

And then he goes succeed as Earl and is oblig’d to live according to his rank, says I, all entire proper, but –

But indeed.

Perchance, says I, I should contrive to go make friendly to Lady I-: talk to her about charity &C. That is do I have occasion to meet her again, for sure we are not in the same circles. Tho’ I daresay she has no notion what her husband is about, might nonetheless provide some intelligence.

Another thought, says Sandy, is to enquire of Lord O- whether in his days as Lord Anthony he ever came across the gentleman.

Indeed, says I, mayhap 'tis somewhat I may raise do I go be his amanuensis.

What? Sandy raises his eyebrows exceedingly.

He goes write some account of his travels, but finds it comes not easy to his pen, that is more us’d to writing of stamens and pistils and calyxes for gentlemen that are interest’d in scientifick matters.

Why, he tells his tales very well does he so verbally. But sure there are those that go halt does it come to turning a matter into written words.

We look at one another with great fondness, for sure has been some considerable time since we convok’d. And how, says I, was the fribble-set party at A-?

Oh, says Sandy with a smile, 'twas very congenial, quite surprizing so. Sure there is nothing wrong with manly sports, provid’d they do not take up all one’s time, and exercize for the body is as imperative as for the mind. And most excellent discourse, we were quite the symposium over the dinner-table.

Why, says I, I am quite delight’d to hear it. And, I go on, all is well 'twixt you and Milord?

Sandy blushes in such a fashion that even the dour Calvinistickal glare that he puts on cannot convince me that they are otherwise than extreme happy.

I look about me and say, sure this is a library that quite exceeds, should greatly desire explore it a little.

Sure, says Sandy, are we not told that this is Liberty Hall? There could surely be no objection whatsoever. There are some fine classickal works that I daresay would rouse Lady J-'s envy.

Alas, says I, those would be beyond the reach of a silly uneducat’d creature such as I, but I daresay there may be some simple tale for children or such that would be fitt’d to my capacities.

Sandy snorts and says, perchance in antient Etrusckan.

He then sighs and says, he should go make civil – has been desir’d by both Lord O- and Lord U- to convoke over the matter of secretaries, sure 'tis entire encouraging.

'Tis so, says I, walking over to the shelves so that I may examine 'em more closely.

'Tis some while later that I emerge, having found a very fine volume of the works of Chaucer, that I go puzzle at, for have heard exceeding well of this antient work in the English tongue, but indeed has chang’d a deal since those days.

A collation has been laid in the dining-room. Bess, Lady Louisa and Dodo are about making a fine feast of it, sure indeed they are healthy young women and getting their growth. Bess goes express to me a certain resentment that they may not go swim.

Why, my dears, sure I hear 'tis very agreeable exercize, but have you not learnt the way of it, must be some concern that you would be like to become three Ophelias in the stream.

Bess sees the sense in this, and says 'twould be most uncivil to one’s host to go drown.

I ask Dodo whether they hear from her sister Lady A-?

Oh yes, says Dodo, they have gone stay at F- Grange, that is Lord A-'s fine house and estate, before they go make visits, and then join us for the Music Meetings. She has writ that 'tis all most agreeable, tho’ matters have been in a somewhat unbusiness-like way she confides. But will be time to turn a hand to that, at present she goes about acquaint herself with the place, &C.

I am pleas’d to hear it, says I, 'tis their honeymoon, there will be time enough for business.

And, says Dodo, they purpose go have a fine house-party over Yuletide at F- Grange for the whole family, will that not be entire prime?

Quite bang-up, says Bess. But, o, Lou says there are fawns in the deer-park, we purpose go look at 'em.

I smile and say I daresay one must go exceeding quiet to come up upon deer.

Lady Louisa says they are quite tame, but sure one must not fright 'em.

The three of 'em go bouncing off.

I go out with my parasol onto the lawn, where Hester sits near the fountain in her invalid chair. One has brought her a nice little plateful that she may enjoy quite pique-nique fashion. I perch upon the fountain rim and ask how she does.

O, she sighs, 'tis such a fine summer as I have never had – able to come out into the sunlight, my dear children around me, good company, such thoughtfullness generally.

She looks around and says, have I yet essay’d the maze? There is a fine maze in the gardens, had been a little over-grown but dear Tony has had the hedges clippt back so that it may be traverst.

Why, says I, not yet, but I must certainly do so. I daresay there is some trick to it so that one may not get complete lost?

She says she dares say, but alas she did not note how one contriv’d to come at the centre, where there is a very quaint sun-dial, and out again at t’other side, when U- was kind enough to push her thro’ it.

He is an excellent son, says I.

Oh, quite entirely, she says, becoming a little tearfull. They are all such good children to me, and I have been so wanting as a mother.

I take her hand. Dear Hester, says I, I do not think that one that is so belov’d by her children can have been at all wanting as a mother. Do they not all come to you quite entire as their first confidante? Sure you might not romp with 'em or take 'em about in Society, but you have, I confide, ever shown 'em a very fine affection and they have seen that.

She lays my hand against her cheek. Was there not some Roman lady said of her children, these are my jewels? Sure they are.

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I discover that Sebastian K- is also of the party: there is, he tells me as we gather before dinner, a collection of strange and curious stones acquir’d by an ancestor of the present Marquess, that he has been looking at and confides that Jacob would be most interest’d to examine, tho’ they are not arrang’d in that state that a modern geologist would desire.

I convey to him news of his family that I have lately seen. He says that he purposes a flying visit to Q- on his way home: but business does not go cease during the summer, alas. I commiserate. I also mention that I have heard somewhat of this project’d tour to the Baltic and that Sir Vernon H- is like to be in St Petersburg by that time, 'tis ever of use to have some personal connexion with one at the Embassy when in foreign parts.

'Tis so, he says: confides that he met Sir Vernon in Vienna so is not an entire stranger.

We go into dinner: 'tis exceeding delightfull to see that Lady N- may join us at table in her invalid carriage. Lady Louisa and her friends also join us, along with the governess, one Miss Millick. I look at her with a mind to the thought that she must be soon out of a place: but from what the M- girls have told me about their education, I doubt she would be able step into Miss N-'s shoes.

There is a very fine dinner set before us – I confide Arabella takes charge of the kitchens.

The Marquess remarks to me that, seeing the Duke read the lesson in church t’other day, he was remind’d that the local parson has somewhat slantwise come at desiring him to do the like. Sure as a freethinker he is not sure whether 'twould be a proper thing –

Why, says I, I take it as entirely a matter of politeness to do so; shows respect. And do you not desire to look particular in the neighbourhood, would be a prudent thing to do.

And, I go on, while we speak of the Establisht Church, I was mind’d to advance to you – have you not already consider’d the matter – the interest of Mr L-, that fine scholar, do you have the presentation to any living that he might adorn.

Why, says Lord O-, 'tis an excellent thought. While one cannot like the system, one might if one can use it as well as one may. However, of the three or four livings in my disposal all are at present occupy’d, but should one fall vacant I shall immediately prefer Mr L-. A very deserving fellow.

Also, says I, I am like to think he is in mind to marry.

'Tis a state I most heartyly recommend, says Lord O-, looking at Nan, that is talking to Sebastian K-. Do you never think of marrying again, Lady B-?

I laugh and say, marriage is a very fine thing, but there are advantages in being a well-left widow.

He smiles and says he dares say, for indeed there are husbands that are not at all in that fine spirit that the marriage service sets forth. (He looks down the table to where Hester is in converse with Sandy, I daresay on the subject of the poetry of Burns.)

'Tis indeed curious, says I, that the state of marriage in society as it stands differs so greatly from those very beautiful words.

After the remove I turn to Lord U- and say, I hope he benefitt’d from his visit to Q-?

Indeed, he says, what an excellent fellow is the Duke of M-. And 'twas entirely beneficial to make the acquaintance of such a variety of sorts and conditions that are known to him. What a magnificent place is Q-: there is nothing the like at Monks G-, he confides his ancestors were by no means connoisseurs such as former Dukes of M- were.

He sighs, and says, he must consider his duty and go spend some time at Monks G- during the course of the summer dealing with affairs there, but altho’ the gardens are of course exceeding fine, sure the house is a gloomy place and one might well believe Nan’s contention that 'tis haunt’d by the spirits of vengefull monks.

O poo, says I, I confide 'tis entirely because there has been no attention give to furbishing it up these some several years. 'Tis remarkable what fresh paint and resilver’d mirrors will do to liven up a room, polishing up the furniture, perchance replacing some of the more antiquat’d pieces –

He laughs and says, he apprehends that Lady B-'s understanding of such matters is greatly esteem’d: hoping to get Lord D- off the subject of everybody’s theologickal failings, he happen’d to mention that he had heard that they were having P- House done up, and heard at great length all about the very fine advice they had had from Lady B-. And of course I was already appriz’d of your assistance in making O- House a fit habitation.

La, says I, perchance I may give a little help, here and there.

He looks at me and says, alas, 'twould be improper to invite me come spend a day or so at Monks G-, for he would not oblige Mama or his sisters to go spend time there, especial as they are so extreme happy here.

Indeed, says I, 'twould do neither of us any good in Society. But let me go think upon the matter.

After the dessert the ladies of the party withdraw, and go sit in the very pleasing parlour to take tea. Hester says, sure 'tis a great imposition, but she confides that Lady B- may not have heard Miss Dorothy sing? –

Only, says I, in company with her mother and sisters.

- so, might she give us a song or two?

Dodo agrees with entire alacrity, and goes to the piano with Miss Millick: I observe that there is already musick upon it.

Sure she has a very pretty voice, in a somewhat different style from her sister Charley, tho’ perchance may develop; and of course exceeding well-train’d by Mr G- D-.

'Tis not at all long before the gentlemen come join us, perchance the time 'twould take to smoak a fine cigar.

Dodo is request’d to sing a little more, and then Hester says, 'tis perchance quite greedy of her, but she has heard so much of Mr MacD-'s reading of Burns and Lady B-'s readings from Shakspeare, that she should very much like to hear for herself.

Sandy says, it so perchances that he ever travels with a volume of the Ayrshire Bard, if we will excuse him he will just go fetch it.

The Honble Geoffrey leaps to his feet and says, he will go fetch the collect’d Shakspeare from the library.

As we sit waiting, Lady Louisa murmurs to me that sure they were brought up without accomplishments - o, Milly try’d teach 'em to play the piano, but did not take, perchance because they were sad idle creatures that did not practice, not like Meg F-. Bess, that is at her other side, says, but Lou, you are an entire centauress upon horseback, 'tis a thing to wonder at.

Sandy returns with his volume of Burns, follow’d very shortly by the Honble Geoffrey.

'Tis a most agreeable evening, tho’ I am in some fears that we tire Hester, that is not us’d to such company. But gives her such exceeding pleasure do not wish to call halt.

Sure 'tis a very comfortable bed I am in, and I do not need fret concerning night-time scratchings upon my door.

I arise betimes in order to see Docket off, even tho’ she declares 'tis entire unnecessary and I should sleep on for the good of my looks.

O, poo, says I, one morn will make no difference. Now, have you got your drops? Do you have the receipt writ out so that do you need more you may take it to some good apothecary? Docket scowls at me as tho’ she was my grand-dam and I had instruct’d her upon sucking eggs.

I also, tho’ I confide 'tis quite a supererogatory matter, tell Ajax to drive exceeding carefull.

Sophy and I go wave 'em off, and then I say, sure am I up, may as well go take a ride, Lady O- has put Elvira quite entire at my disposal.

So I go desire one of the grooms to saddle her for me, and ride off across the park.

I am passing thro’ some pretty woodland in which I catch glimpses of deer, when I hear the sound of hoofbeats behind me; I look around and see 'tis Lord U- comes catch up with me.

We greet one another very civil.

He remarks upon what pleasure our entertainments yestere’en gave his mother.

I hope we did not tire her excessively, says I.

Indeed not, he says. But, he goes on, because she has been out of Society for so very long, and sure Aunt Laetitia was entire useless as a guide to the customs and manners of the present day, I do not have that guidance in such things that a mother might supply. And while Lord O- is quite the finest fellow, has been much out of the country. Thus I find myself coming to you, that are such a friend to the entire family, for counsel - do you tell me do I become an entire burden.

Why, says I, I have the greatest fondness for your family; also matters that may seem heavy to the uninstruct’d may be no such thing to one that has a little more understanding.

He proceeds to tell me how much he admires the Duchess of M-, is she not an entire pattern of womanhood, what a very fortunate fellow is the Duke –

(I hope he does not go on to declare an unrequit’d passion for Viola.)

- sure 'tis early days yet for him to think of marriage, and yet, he now has responsibilities, and must be entire envious of one that has such a helpmeet to help him bear the burdens of rank. How does one go about to find such a woman? He finds that 'tis very hard to tell upon meeting young ladies in Society, for there is a deal of conventional behaviour -

Why, says I, 'tis indeed yet early days, but I will go consider over the matter.

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'Tis perchance all to the best that most of the fusties have depart’d by the time the charades take place. Sure indeed I think I shall draw a veil over the event: mayhap 'twas not an entire disaster but I confide that those who took part were exceeding over-ambitious.

But the matter serv’d very well to keep most of the younger set occupy’d and out of mischief while 'twas in preparation, and sure that is a very excellent thing with such a large house-party and such a mingl’d collection of guests.

There is also an archery competition: in the men’s competition there is none may touch Selim Pasha, while with the ladies 'tis a close-fought match 'twixt Lady O- and her sister – 'tis the latter takes the prize in the end. I confide Lord O- will be besought to set up a target at D- Chase has not already done so.

Indeed, I am now myself bound for D- Chase for a few days at what I am promist will be Liberty Hall. Once we are there, I purpose to have Ajax convey Docket to Weymouth so that she may go frolick there with Biddy Smith as in their giddy girlhood.

Now we are in the carriage and on our way and quite private, Docket and Sophy go disclose to me what they have discover’d concerning Lord and Lady I-.

She was, 'tis said, somewhat past her blossoming-time when they marry’d: of excellent lineage, but somewhat plain and quiet, and but a modest dower to offer. He had been lingering some years beyond the usual upon his Grand Tour, only return’d upon the intelligence of his father’s mortal illness, and once he had inherit’d, went look about for a bride. The match was made up very expeditious by way of family connexions.

No great romance, then? says I.

Entirely prudential, says Docket.

And 'twas not one of those unions in which warmer feelings grow on closer acquaintance: sure the Earl ever behaves civil, but not affectionate. An heir, a daughter, and a second son as reserve heir, in short order; and no further increase. Indeed they behave dutyfull to one another, he is not violent, she has a fair if not generous amount of pin-money, but they live almost as strangers or at least, passing acquaintances. Does he womanize, or keep a mistress, does so exceeding discreet. She goes do good works among the cottagers.

Hmm, thinks I, 'tis quite the common tale in their station. Tho’ sure I wonder what he was about all that time upon the Grand Tour, for was not so very long at Naples, I think.

'Tis not so very far to D- Chase from Q- that we are oblig’d to break our journey, and we arrive late in the afternoon.

Lord and Lady O- have already arriv’d, and greet me at the door. They inform me once again that 'twill be entire Liberty Hall, for 'tis just the family and a few close friends, and Nan says that she dares say I should like to go wash off the dust of the journey and go change. The footmen will take my trunks.

There is hot water ready for me, and Docket and Sophy go array me in somewhat suitable for an informal country party among friends. Docket, says I, you are not to go bothering yourself about unpacking &C, you should rest in preparation for your journey tomorrow; sure I confide you may give Sophy her instructions as well seat’d as not.

Docket looks at me for a moment and then nods and says indeed there is nothing that Sophy will not be able to manage.

I was mind’d to go call most immediate upon Hester, but I look out of the window to the lawn and see that her invalid carriage is dispos’d near unto the fountain, and that there is a game of cricket in play, as much as may be contriv’d with but a few players. One, I see, is Bess, so I suppose that Lady Louisa’s guests yet remain.

I go out onto the lawn – I observe that servants are about setting out tea, will come extreme gratefull – and over to where Hester sits watching the game.

Dear Hester, says I, you are looking exceeding well in this fine country air.

O, dearest C-, 'tis an entire pleasure to see you. And not at all showing the effects of the dissipation at Q-: but then, I daresay you did not feel oblig’d to stay up to all hours playing billiards or cards and smoaking as U- did – Tony says he argu’d that he was entire newly-wed, could not be expect’d to neglect his bride –

- indeed, says I, one saw no danger in the least of that –

- or getting quite knockt up over some matter of charades as Em did –

- sure, says I, do I go manifest any ravages from high living, Docket will be about making me lye down with slices of cowcumber upon my eyes and mayhap Sophy brushing out my hair.

Why, 'tis a course one might put to Lorimer that she might do similar.

But indeed, both sisters were very much admir’d in the company.

She sighs and says, as for admir’d, here is Em comes quite raving about this Turk that was at Q-.

I laugh and say, sure I think 'twas his archery she admir’d, and his tales of hawking: I do not think she will go elope to join his seraglio.

She is indeed somewhat of a tomboy, says Hester with another little sigh.

We look over to the game, and I apprehend that the Honble Edward and Geoffrey are return’d from A-, for the latter stands at the wicket as Bess bowls.

O, says Hester, has been so delightfull for little Lou to have her friends come stay, such nice girls, such pretty lively creatures, shall be sorry to see 'em go.

(I am not sure that the Honble Geoffrey, that walks from the wicket shaking his head, is of the same opinion.)

He comes over and makes me a leg, kisses his mother and says, sure 'tis no game of pat-ball does Miss F- play! He thought his own sisters were fine bowlers, but she quite exceeds.

I ask how he lik’d the house-party at A-. (His mother gives a little smiling grimace as if she has heard entire too much on the topick.)

Entire prime, he says, and proceeds to tell me in a deal of detail about their recreations, the fine discussions they had, the excellence of the table set before 'em; and that he and Eddy have been invit’d to go visit Lord V- shortly.

But I said, says Hester, that I should desire to discover a little more about Lord V- before I could be happy with 'em going.

(Sure I cannot see any harm to the matter do they visit Lord V-, that is an amiable young fribble and a well-reput’d whip. But I will discourse of the matter to her later in private, and say somewhat to this effect.)

Comes running over Lady Emily, kisses me very warm and says, pray do not talk of the charades, was’t not an entire debâcle?

I wish, says her brother, Lady B-, you would say somewhat of those charades, because neither she nor Nan will say aught but that they do not wish to talk of the matter. Tell me, did Em go present as an odalisque?

His sister, that I suspect may have been being teaz’d mightyly in such terms, gives him a shove: as he is sat upon the rim of the fountain, he overbalances and falls in. Hester sighs, and tells him to run in and change.

O, Em, she says after he has gone on his dripping way, sure I hope you did not behave thus at Q-.

Lady Emily says that brothers can be very provoking, and will go on and on at a jest until 'tis quite wore out. Can I not say a fellow was a fine archer without they will suppose that I long for the banns to be read upon us? Sure we have heard enough of Lord R-'s skills with the sword, Lord V-'s pretty handling of the ribbons &C&C.

I say that Lady Emily was very pretty-behav’d at Q-, and her own skills with the bow exceedingly admir’d. And one not’d that she did not all want for partners at the ball.

She blushes a little. 'Twas more agreeable than I suppos’d 'twould be, she says, even with the number of fusties there were.

Comes over Lord U-, that has also been got out by Bess, makes a leg, says 'tis delightfull to see me, and hopes have converse with me while I am here.

Why, says I, I am like to suppose there are a deal of fine walks and perchance rides about the place, and I daresay fine things in the house –

I am given to apprehend, says Lord U-, that the library is very fine, quite out of the common, indeed have not been able to tempt MacD- out of it –

O! says I, trying to conceal my delight, Mr MacD- visits here? ('Tis not just that 'twill be an entire pleasure to see Sandy, but that I hope that we may contrive to convoke over my uneasyness concerning the Earl of I-.)

Indeed, says Lord U, before I left A- I besought him, had he no other engagement upon hand, to come along with Eddy and Geoff, for there are a deal of matters Lord O- and I should desire open to his understanding, talk over the matter of secretaries &C, and indeed Lord O- is most exceeding sensible of the assistance he was over the matter of marriage.

Hester looks a little longing and says, she has heard how very well Mr MacD- reads Burns, would it be improper to ask might he do so some evening?

At this moment runs up my dear hoyden Bess, and embraces me very hearty, saying, O, Aunty C-, is this not an entire bang-up place? Was it not that Harry is going to come home for a little visit, should not wish to leave at all.

Come up a little more restrain’d Lady Louisa and Dodo B-, that make civil, follow’d by the Honble Edward, that makes me a very polisht leg (I daresay 'tis an effect of the sojourn at A-) and says somewhat civil about hoping I am not tir’d out from my journey.

O, 'twill be delightfull to spend some few days in this fine company.

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'Tis a very large ball, for Biffle takes the opportunity to invite county neighbours and some leading citizens of the borough of T-. Remarks to me in the ladies’ retiring chamber Viola, that is having a torn ruffle sewn back, sure they do not give out to young ladies ambitious to wear a coronet how much dancing with entire clodhoppers one is oblig’d to undertake to manifest one’s civility. O, my trod-over feet!

Indeed 'tis a well-kept secret, says I. I too, my dear, have done my duty to demonstrate a pleasing condescension in dancing with a deal of clumsy fellows, several with unpleasingly clammy hands. Sure I think I may now go waltz with Sir Vernon, that was ever an exceeding fine dancer, and I daresay has all the latest steps as practis’d in Vienna.

One must observe, says Viola with a sly glance, that Sir Vernon admires you greatly – sure ladies may not themselves be in the Diplomatick, 'tis a great pity, but I confide that a lady might contrive do quite a deal for amity among nations, was she marry’d to a fellow that was.

Well, says I, 'tis rumour’d he anticipates to be preferr’d to St Petersburg, and sure I think of my dear friend Miss G- that was – o, says I, I am in the strongest suspicions that she and her husband, that was a reform-mind’d fellow very imprudent much given to criticizing the Tsar, have been exil’d to the remote fastnesses of Siberia. Yet, was one in those parts, one might contrive to discover what was ado, perchance send comforts, even might one not go plead for their release –

Viola laughs and says, with a meaningfull look, 'twould also she dares say provide a deal of possibilities for Gothick tales. She goes on to say that Sebastian would be going there if this Baltic tour comes about.

'Tis sure give out very fine, says I, but exceeding cold, and was one connect’d with the Diplomatick, one would, I suppose, be oblig’d to wink at the oppressions of the Tsar and keep mum.

So we return to the ballroom, and I go dance with Sir Vernon, and she goes dance with Lord O-, that dances exceeding well for a fellow that has spent so much time in wild and savage places.

And it comes around to having a dance with Lord I-, during which I apologize most effusive and extreme insincere that I am unable to take up his kind invitation, sure I am quite desolat’d, but I should not like to gain the reputation of a lady that cuts does some better offer come along. I gaze at him with my most feather-witt’d look.

He says, alas: for sure, Lady B-, you quite adorn any company you are in.

La, says I, Lord I-, you go make pretty speeches to me! Sure one would think you had designs. (For I think, however matters go with Lady I-, he is not a fellow would desire there to be an on-dit that he hangs out for Lady B-.)

Indeed I see this puts him in some confusion, for he would not wish to insult me by saying he had no such intentions. I flutter my eyelashes at him a little.

'Tis a relief to go dance with Lord U-, that says sure he may say he has done his duty dancing with what his sisters call the fusties and some misses of the neighbourhood that giggle and blush and simper. Lady B- is known for her acute judgements: do I think he has done enough to be consider’d a very well-conduct’d young man?

Why, says I, 'twill serve you well with the fusties, but I fear that young ladies may think you a sad dull fellow – but I smile as I say this, for is a well-set-up young man and I have seen the younger ladies look upon him very approving.

O, you think I should venture somewhat in the Byron strain?

I pray you, Lord U-, do no such thing! While I apprehend that 'twas of a certain poet that the critick Deacon Brodie said one Byron is quite enough, I think 'tis a sentiment of wider application.

He laughs. Why, I must remember that.

The dance ends and he says, he is promis’d to Miss S- for the next: sure his sisters exhort’d him to the matter, out of their friendship to her, but indeed she is an excellent fine dancer, and, do you not think she is in remarkable looks this e’en?

I follow his gaze and indeed, Agnes S-, that has just been dancing with Biffle, looks exceeding well. The exercize suits her, says I. (But I think the notion that there is one aspires to her hand thinking her but a poor dependent, and one to whom she already inclines, makes a deal of difference to her confidence in herself.)

The Marquess comes up and desires me to step to the floor with him, to which I gladly concede. He says that Selim Pasha has been telling his womenfolk about hawking, and Em takes a most exceeding notion to it, especial after seeing the lady in the tapestry that holds a falcon upon her fist. But he doubts that there are many in this land practise that art, and from what he heard in Turkey, 'tis a considerable undertaking to train - he does not suppose one may say tame - a hawk.

I say that sure one gains that impression from the passages in the Bard that allude to the matter. I wonder, says I, will any attain to have Lady Emily fly to their fist.

He sighs and says, does indeed wonder.

Seems to me, says I, that tho’ she will give ardent ear does a fellow go recount tales of the anthropopagi and the men whose heads do grow beneath their shoulders &C 'tis no such matter as Desdemona. But does a lady hearken most intent to a gentleman, he is like to suppose 'tis a sign that she inclines to him, and not that she is more interest’d in fine tales of anthropopagi or hawking or the wild Indians of Nova Scotia.

He laughs and then grows more sober and says, he confides that 'tis indeed the like with Em.

I am about to say somewhat of a certain scandal when Lady J- was making her debut and had rather listen to fine tales of naval warfare than indulge in flirtations, and then think, o, o, o, might it be thus? and hold my silence.

But 'tis fortunate that the dance ends, and we must go seek other partners.

'Tis most agreeable to tread a measure with Biffle, during which I am able to communicate to him that Sir Vernon has a great desire to look upon Antipodean Flora, and sure a nod is a good as a wink and I see that he quite apprehends the inwardness of this matter.

He looks around the ballroom and says, indeed it goes, does it not?

Quite entirely, says I, and the house-party as well.

'Tis gratifying to think so, says he. For among those that Viola calls the fusties are a deal that recall that wild young fellow Lord S- and look sidelong to see if I go do somewhat reckless.

Why, says I, I daresay will be report’d as being in entire the best of ton.

He looks very fond over to where Viola dances with Sir Vernon and says, 'twas a lucky day I came across her weeping in the library at N- over that lunatick bigamist’s scoundrelly proposal.

(Why, thinks I, 'twas not altogether a matter of luck, but I will say naught to the matter.)

For, he says, lowering his voice considerable, tho’ Kitty was quite the finest of women and I lov’d her most extreme, I confide that perchance Viola is more suit’d to certain duchessing matters.

Why, says I in the same lower’d tones, I daresay that had it come to her the late Duchess would have contriv’d; but indeed, one sees that Viola is most apt to this business. (For indeed I myself am most prepossesst that Viola, that I daresay would greatly prefer to studying some language or reading Parliamentary reports or recreating herself with a Gothick tale, or playing with Essie and little Cathy, goes about so exceeding effective at the publick duties of her rank.)

In order to change the subject, I say, I daresay has not yet heard from Lady J-?

No, he says, once she is arriv’d at the flagship the Admiral has means for the expeditious dispatch of letters, but until then –

He then sighs and says, he knows not whether to hope that their endeavours are successfull when he remembers how all fell out last time –

But, says I, perchance Lady J- has now come to some appreciation of the exhortations to lye upon a sopha?

He laughs and says, mayhap! as we leave the floor and go look about for our next promist partners.

Sure the hour is quite exceeding advanc’d when carriages are call’d for those that go home.

I go my chamber and find that that good creature Sophy has prevail’d upon Docket not to watch - and is drowsing a little in a chair in the dressing-room. She jumps up at once and says, she dares say those slippers are entire ruin’d?

I look down at 'em and turn 'em up to consider the soles and say, sure, wore entire thro’, but 'tis the nature of fine kid slippers suit’d to a ballroom. I kick 'em off. Sophy goes about to undress me and unlace my stays, unpins my hair and brushes it, and says, Phillips gave a little party of her own in her sitting-room the e’en, very civil, and sure that is a very agreeable young woman she brings on, Jennie. Is being court’d by that fellow that had a notion to Euphemia.

So I hear, says I.

Sophy sighs a little. I wonder is there one she takes a notion to, tho’ sure she is yet young. But I am entire too tir’d at this moment to interrogate further, and perchance 'twould be better to enquire of Docket.

Before I go to sleep, I scribble a few notes in my little memorandum book, that lyes at the bedside.

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As I return from a most agreeable ride the morn upon Charmian, Ajax says that I am prudent to have got in a ride so early, there are those have a weather-eye say we may well have some rain later.

This makes my heart somewhat to sink, but then to consider that Q- is a fine large place and there are many matters indoors that the guests may be about, looking at the paintings in the gallery, or the fine tapestries, or the famous silverware and does not mean that all will be coop’d up and like to brangle.

It does not yet rain, however, and passing by the butts, I see Nan and Em already out with bows and arrows, along with Selim Pasha, and his page that very obliging runs fetch arrows for the archers. He tells me that the bow is not entire like what he is us’d to, but he comes to understand it. O, cries Lady Emily, the Pasha is an entire Robin Hood and has convey’d us some most usefull hints on stance &C.

(Well, I think, provid’d she is with her sister – and also there is a deal of coming and going about the place – perchance there is no great harm to it, and whatever he imports, I confide that Lady Emily is only concern’d to improve her toxophilick skills.)

I go in to breakfast, where I encounter Sir Vernon. On my telling him the intelligence concerning the day’s weather, he says, may come about to serve well for fishing, does it so. He then looks around and sees that there are none but servants that go clear away or bring fresh hot dishes, and says, have I perchanc’d to have much converse with that Turkish fellow?

Naught beyond a few civilities, says I.

Only, he says, 'tis give out that this is as 'twere a Grand Tour he makes, is not at all about the Sultan’s business, but travels entirely in the capacity of a private gentleman. But I collect, he says with a reminiscent smile, that in bygone days you had a considerable capacity of penetration, and that furthermore, gentlemen us’d to be entire eager to confide to you a deal of matters they would not otherwise share.

La, says I, sure you flatter me, Sir Vernon; and indeed, these days I should be somewhat constrain’d in eliciting such confidences, as a respectable widow’d Marchioness. O, 'tis not so much that such confidences are exchang’d upon the pillows, tho’ indeed may be, but that a certain air of promise will incline fellows to boast and brag in the belief that it advances their suit.

Alas that 'tis so, he says, not that 'tis not extreme pleasing to see you so advanc’d in Society. For I remember that matter of the Florentine diplomat – and that Spanish fellow – sure you did the nation fine service.

O, poo, says I, am I not a true-born Englishwoman?

Indeed, says Sir Vernon, was there not also some matter of Hindoo royalty brought to a considerable inclination towards the Hon Company’s designs? Sure I cannot fathom what Lord I- can be thinking when he will mutter that you are almost a tricoteuse of seditious conspiracies.

I go laugh somewhat immoderate at such a notion. Fie, says I, there are those in my circle incline to radickal notions but I confide they do not go about plotting revolution.

Quite so, says Sir Vernon, I confide the Duke would not ally himself with that set if so.

Now, says I, have you not spoke to him about the Pasha, I am like to think he may have more apprehension of what’s afoot.

He takes and kisses my hand most respectfull. Have I not remarkt on your penetration? The problem is entirely how to have some private intercourse with His Grace.

Why, says I, there is a certain exceeding fine painting that he keeps in his study, for there are those might take exception did they see it in the gallery, that you might desire to have sight of.

Oho, says Sir Vernon with a grin, is’t not the painting of a certain lady with a wombatt? Indeed I should greatly like to view it.

I then go change from my riding-habit into somewhat more suit’d to morning-wear in company, and see out of my window as I do so, that it commences upon showering.

I go into the drawing-room, where a deal of the ladies of the party are gather’d. There is a group goes examine some number of La Belle Assemblée and listens extreme respectfull to Viola’s comments (that I daresay she has been rehears’d in by Tibby) on the matter. Lady D- has brought little Arthur for admiration, and I eschew going too near, for is becoming quite a competition in obstetrickal tales. I hope this may bring her to some realization that the sufferings of childbirth are one of the travails common to womanhood: tho’ there will ever be one lady that boasts that, sure, all hers poppt out like unto greas’d pigs.

I write in a few albums - O, Lady B-, that was a very pretty piece of Shakspeare you read to us yestere’en, might you inscribe a few lines for me? - and go look about for a place to sit (sure I wish I had thought to bring my embroidery with me).

Lady I-, that is sat upon a sopha sewing, pats the place beside her and gives a timid welcoming smile. Following my converse with Sir Vernon, I am in some suspicion that her husband may have askt her to go sound me out under a cover of womanly gossip. However, against that possibility stands my observation that they are on terms of matrimonial civility but there is by no means anything like the warmth one may see 'twixt Biffle and Viola, or Lord and Lady O-, nor even that fine affection and respect I have not’d between Lord and Lady T-.

I ask what she sews, for does not look like fancy embroidery. O, says she, perchance 'tis not a matter she should undertake in company, but she goes make baby-clothes - I glance at her and confide that 'tis perchance not for her own use, sure indeed she is more of an age to anticipate a grandchild, but I pick up one of the tiny garments and see 'tis not of the fineness of fabric one might anticipate –

'Tis for the cottagers’ children, she says, we expect a fine crop this year. I ever try to have some by me to send to 'em.

I look at the one in my hand and say, but such exquisite work! – for tho’ I am no great hand at stitchery myself, I can tell when such is particular fine, have I not been lesson’d by Docket in the matter?

She blushes a little and says, sure she endeavours make 'em to last for they will be hand’d on and past down. And she confides 'tis entire proper work to be about.

Indeed, says I. Living in Town as I do one does not have the opportunity to do such work.

But you do other fine work, Lady B-, she says, in what I might almost suppose a wistfull tone.

La, says I, I am an idle creature compar’d to Lady J-.

She smiles and says that sure Lady J- is a lady that does a very great deal. She then looks down at her work, colours a little, and says, Lady B-, we should be most extreme delight’d could you come to a house-party we go hold –

She tells me when 'twill be and I can say entirely truthfull that alas, I am already engag’d (even will it be naught but frolicking about with Belinda in Northamptonshire). She sighs and says, His Lordship her husband will be extreme sorry.

Why, says I, 'twould be a great pleasure (sure this is entire mendacious) but 'twould be uncivil to cut an invitation I have already accept’d.

Indeed, she says with a little sigh, I try’d put it to him that Lady B- is a great favourite in Society, sure did you intend invite her we should have writ a deal earlyer, 'tis most like that by now her entire summer is took up with visits.

'Tis much about the case, I concede.

Mayhap upon some other occasion, she says. I respond with civil vagueness.

Perchance I would not find this invitation so sinister had I not already heard the dear Contessa’s views upon Lord I- and lately had the intelligence communicat’d by Sir Vernon (indeed I remember the dear fellow with much fondness, but, alas, these days 'twould not do).

Come into the drawing-room Nan and Em, that come over to me and Nan says, 'tis entire improper for a young lady to go play billiards, is't not?

Em pouts a little and says, she already confides 'tis, but is there no exception for a rainy day?

I say, alas, there is not. But might you not beguile the time in preparing your charades? I turn to Lady I- in order to beg her leave to go talk over this matter with 'em.

We go over to the window and look out at the rain sweeping across the gardens, and I say, sure 'tis a very fine effect, especial as there are those glints of sunshine thro’ the rain.

Lady Emily sighs and says she dares say all these fusties will frown upon their charades.

Well, my dears, why do you not gather together your actors and come rehearse and I may see might there be any matter for objection.

'Tis some hours later that I go to my chamber quite entire ready to concede to Docket’s desire that I should lye down quietly with cowcumber slices upon my eyes and Sophy pumicing the ink – sure I have got inkt just writing in albums – from my fingers in anticipation of the ball the e’en.

Docket, says I, as I go be very obedient in this matter, do you ever drink tea with Lady I-'s maid? I am like to wonder how matters stand in that household.

Docket says, only so far in general company, but sure she can go about to contrive a tea-drinking and gossip with her, does My Ladyship desire.

'Tis well, says I, and you might see if Tibby will let you use her sitting-room, 'twould manifest a deal of consequence.

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Comes Sunday, and 'tis in good ton to go to church (for sure one will never find a temple of Venus that goes hold services anywhere in the English countryside), so I take my prayer-book and go down to the hall, where the company assembles either to take carriage to the church or to walk.

Sure 'tis such a fine morning, and there is a little breeze, that I confide I shall walk, and Docket has provid’d me with my parasol.

Lord U- comes up and offers me his arm, do I purpose this amble across the park. I take it very gratefull. For otherwise I may find myself oblig’d to make civil converse with Sir V- P- or the Earl of I-, or one or two other gentlemen that I have observ’d cast their eyes upon the lovely Lady B-.

I ask how he lik’d the party at A-, and he says, most extremely. What an excellent set that is: sure some of 'em may be fribbles, but by no means rakes or debauchees. There was a deal of fine manly exercize, including swimming, as well as excellent conversation. Sure he can take no concern whatsoever do Eddy and Geoff remain there, 'twill be entire good for 'em.

What a fine thoughtfull fellow is Viscount R-. There are many matters he has undertook about the estate that I would desire do similarly at Monks G-. And 'tis an entire education to discourse with Mr MacD-; do you suppose he has any acquaintance that I might prefer as a secretary to myself? There are a deal of matters in which I confide Sir C- F- will be delight’d to act my mentor, but he has his own property to keep under hand. I purpose pay him a visit some time during the summer, and mayhap contrive to take Mama along with me.

He then smiles and says, it quite exceeds as Lou will say, to see how well Mama looks of late. Of course, she will never get up and dance, one must not expect entire miracles, but her spirits are so much better.

But indeed, he says, I rattle on. How go matters with you, Lady B-?

I say, before it flys from my mind, I must entire exhort him to enquire of Mr MacD- about the matter of a secretary – but lately he advanc’d a fellow of his acquaintance to Lord T-, that is most extreme prepossesst. But as for myself, he may have heard that I go extend my premises - have took the house next door, so that I may have a dining-room and give dinner-parties - sure my cook is in entire ecstasy at the prospect! – and some other matters that could not be contriv’d in my little house.

He says he confides there will be a deal of Society hangs out for invitations to dine, knowing of my cook.

We come to the church, and enter in.

Because 'tis his parish church, that is a living within the gift of the Dukes of M-, tho’ sure the incumbent is of an age that I daresay must have been appoint’d by Biffle’s grandfather, Biffle reads the lesson, that he goes about exceeding well. During the sermon I go fret a little, wondering how Phoebe and Lucile do, and what this matter is that Tibby wishes convoke upon, and also how I might contrive to go ask Mr L- whether his newspaper now does well enough that he might wed Miss N-, that I have some concern goes droop a little that 'tis a matter that seems ever deferr’d to some future date.

On the way out, 'tis not entire what I should have desir’d, but I observe Sir V- P- come wambling towards me, so slip my arm into Lord D-'s, as he happens to be next to me, and say, sure I have not seen him this age, how does he? How is fatherhood?

He says, sure they do well enough, they spend the summer on the Shropshire estate, he confides that 'twill be most sanitive both for Arthur and for Dora, and sure Arthur is a fine thriving boy. He then adds that I must know he has a sister, Lady Rosamund, will be making her curtesy during the coming Season – do I think that Her Grace would be willing to take her into Society a little?

(I am a little surpriz’d that she will not be under the aegis of Lady D-, and then consider that Lady D- is very young, somewhat shy in Society, and I daresay will still be nursing little Arthur.)

(I also take a consideration that 'twill look well for Viola to have a young lady of such impeccable birth among her chicks, especial does she go take into Society Jacob S-'s niece and her father’s friend’s daughter.)

Why, says I, I confide she would be entire delight’d.

He gives a little reliev’d sigh, and then goes expatiate, tho’ somewhat less fervent than his usual wont, upon the theologickal failings of the sermon we have just heard. But, sure, such an ag’d fellow in a country parish

As 'tis Sunday there are a deal of things that 'twould be improper for the company to do, but since the weather is fine, at least the company may go appreciate the beauty of the gardens, the delights of nature &C, even may they not fish or practice archery.

After there has been a light collation, I engage in a little strolling up and down and conversing with one and another, until 'tis time for me to go convoke with Tibby - can I not slip away unmarkt from some gathering I shall consider I have lost all my wont’d skills.

Docket and Sophy are just about to depart for a tea-drinking with Lorimer – is showing very well, says Docket, Lady O- and her sister are extreme well turn’d-out, 'twas an excellent choice. I go into the dressing-room.

Tibby sits there turning over the pages of La Belle Assemblée, but jumps up and makes me a dip.

How now, Tibby, what is this matter that you wish convoke upon?

Tibby sits clasping her hands before her and says, she apprehends that my Ladyship knows that she and Titus –

Indeed, says, and I hope your mutual fondness continues?

O, indeed, Your Ladyship. But while they had no desire to rush into matrimony, it comes about that their thoughts go turn in that direction –

'Tis not, is it, some matter of necessity?

Oh no, says Tibby, nothing o’that thanks to Your Ladyship’s kind advice in the matter, but 'tis more that, we find in ourselves a desire to live together, for that mutual aid and comfort of which the wedding service speaks. For altho’ Mr G- D- has been most exceptional good to Titus, and indeed he is the entire favourite in that household, you will I daresay know that 'tis a very crowd’d household even does Mrs G- D- not go increase as regular as she was wont.

And 'tis also very noisy with so many children, and those that come take lessons with Mr G- D-, and rehearsals, and makes it very hard for him to compose. But sure I cannot like to think of Titus in lodgings.

Sure I am most exceeding attacht to Her Grace, she goes on, that is such a fine young woman and shows so exceeding well, does one entire credit. But - , she begins, and then pauses.

As 'tis you that put me in the way of the matter, you will know that I have been writing pieces upon matters of dress and style for Mr L-‘s newspaper, and has brought me a deal of letters from the ladies that read ‘em, desiring advice upon this or that matter. And they are mostly ladies that would not be seeing the Assemblée or Ackermann’s, unless 'twould be turning over the pages in some circulating library or reading room, and if they do, will think, o, that is not for me, has no place in my own life. And yet they have a very understandable desire to dress well, and look in good style, without they go ape the aristocracy. And am I able to give 'em some little nudge in the matter, 'tis very pleasing.

Also, altho’ I daresay there may be papers would pay more, it does come to be a pleasing little sum month by month. And I think also of mayhap writing some book, for altho’ there are a deal of specifick matters as to what is consider’d the entire crack of the moment, there are also general principles -

I laugh and say, Tibby Phillips, the philosopher of fashion!

- and 'tis a matter I might go about while keeping house for Titus, and 'twould be somewhat towards our keep. But sure I would be reluctant to leave Her Grace, was it not that Jennie comes on in most commendable fashion, has the very nicest taste and notions, needs only some instruction in the business of demonstrating consequence, and I should be entire happy might she succeed to my place.

She pauses and we look at one another.

Why, Tibby, says I, sure 'tis an excellent and well-thought-out plan you have here, most exceeding commendable, that I daresay you have already spoke of with Titus –

Indeed, says she, for he was in understandable worry that his profession is somewhat precarious, and that he could not ask me to undertake the risque that would come with marriage. And so I said, here is Phoebe goes market her fine polishes, and Euphemia was making money from her receipts, and now there is this preserves factory plan, and there are other matters that a woman may undertake without going out to work – does not Mrs S- undertake matters of making drawings for scientifick gentlemen? And I had just had a nice little sum from Mr L- along with the solicitation to write more often.

Why, says I, jumping up and kissing her, dear Tibby, I think 'tis quite entirely answerable.

She then pulls a face and says, she dares say Docket will consider it a descent from attending upon a Duchess.

Poo, says I, Docket I am sure desires see you happy.

We then discourse a little on Docket’s health and the very excellent plan for her to go to Weymouth with Biddy Smith, and Tibby commends Sophy’s attentiveness.

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Viola says with a sigh that sure she has finer company here than any of their guests, but she will go be a dutyfull duchess. She kisses Essie and little Cathy, and we leave the nursery.

Might you, says I, just point me in the direction where I might find the fam’d gallery of paintings?

She obliges and says with a merry look, be sure to mark the one with the saint that leads a dragon by a leash.

I laugh and say indeed I shall.

'Tis an exceeding fine gallery and a great number of paintings adorn the walls. The light is just what one should desire – have I not heard Sir Z- R- and others expatiate upon the topick? – 'tis a fine clear light for viewing the works, but so contriv’d that the sunlight will not fall direct upon any of 'em, for 'tis most deleterious.

I have found the painting – sure 'tis very old and quaint in its style – in which some saint leads a dragon, that is a deal smaller than one would suppose, on a leash: indeed quite entire like unto a lapdog. I am contemplating this, when comes in Biffle with two footmen.

I curtesy to him. He looks embarrasst, as he goes about direct the footmen to remove one of the paintings at the other end of the gallery. 'Tis where there are some several paintings of a modern kind – I begin laugh.

O, I say, I confide you go conceal Antipodean Flora?

He clears his throat, and says, 'tis so, thinks it may be more diplomatick not to have it on display (unlike my exquisite bubby, thinks I, but am also diplomatick in not saying any such thing before the footmen); he then turns around and tells 'em to go put it in his study.

Once they are gone I laugh somewhat immoderate and say, sure there are fellows in this party have some auld acquaintance with Lady B-'s bubbies, 'twill not be a surprize and a wonder to 'em, but my dear, I greatly admire your delicacy in the matter. I daresay did Lord D- cast eyes upon it he would be most put about.

After a moment Biffle laughs himself. We look at one another with very antient friendship, and perchance a little more. So I say that I was lately in the nursery with Viola and little Cathy comes about to walk, and he looks doating.

Then says, D—n, I must go do the gracious host and keep my guests occupy’d so they do not go brangle amongst themselves.

I say as if idly that I was surpriz’d to meet the Earl of I- in this company.

Biffle shrugs and says, my father and his father were quite bosom-comrades, and he invit’d me to a shooting-party last year, I daresay for that reason, but sure we are not intimates. Indeed I have no opinion of his leanings, but –

You were most admirable train’d in the Diplomatick?

Entirely so, says he. I daresay Sir Vernon made entirely amiable to the Yankees even as he consider’d ‘em entire barbarians, that will chew tobacco and spit whatever the company.

That minds me, I say to change the subject, that Lord O- was saying he went hawking with Selim Pasha when he was in Turkey – did you do the like?

Indeed, says Biffle as we leave the gallery, a most excellent fine sight, such as I had only seen in the tapestries here – have you not seen 'em already I commend them to your attention.

I look out of the window and see that most of the company are out of doors, for the weather holds most extreme fine. Why, says I, I daresay I should go take the air, and will go desire Docket to put on my hat and hand me my parasol.

When I go to my chamber I find Docket and Sophy in convockation with Tibby. They jump up and make me their dips and I say, just put me on a hat and hand me my parasol and I will be out of your way.

Docket purses her mouth and says, Tibby had a notion about your hair, and indeed you should not go out without you have had it tidy’d –

O, says I, sure one may not withstand this cabal: and go sit at my dressing-table so that Tibby may be about the matter.

And, says Docket as Tibby gently places the hat upon my much neaten’d head and holds out a hand toward Sophy for a hat-pin, Tibby would desire some private converse with Your Ladyship could you spare a few minutes on some occasion.

(Pray, thinks I, that this is not to communicate the intelligence that her spunges have fail’d their purpose and she goes with child.)

Why, 'tis entire agreeable to me.

Perchance, goes on Docket, she might come here – Sophy and I may find somewhat else to be about – for might look particular did you go to her sitting-room.

Oh, poo, says I, and then take the consideration that 'tis not like visiting Biffle and Viola alone, there are a deal of nigh-on strangers about the place, including their servants that may go gossip and speculate, and that 'tis best to err upon the side of propriety. No, indeed, I go on, you have the right of it, Docket. I daresay you might some time go take tea with Lorimer?

'Tis an excellent suggestion, says Docket.

I look at myself in the mirror and smile – sure I am a vain creature – pick up my parasol, and go be in company.

I pass across the lawn and go towards the avenue of statues, where I encounter Lady D- and Agnes S-. I greet 'em and say, what, Lord D- is not with you?

O, says Lady D-, some of the gentlemen go fishing and he goes with 'em. She then gives a little sigh and says, she confides 'tis time she goes feed Arthur, and leaves us.

I look at her back and then at Agnes S-, who shrugs and says in a low voice, she seems to like the babe well enough despite of her suffering. I do not query further but I think she implies a deal without saying it.

She then says, Em has besought her to go watch her toxophilize, so she will go visit the butts. Has no desire undertake the matter herself, but must be a fine thing to watch.

Must sure provide inspiration for poetry, I say, and she blushes and looks about, but indeed there are none near us.

I therefore go my way to the avenue, that leads up to the pagoda, and converse with one or two as I make my way thro’ those that guess at what the statues represent, or are entire certain about the matter, and indeed, there is a little mild brangling over these matters of interpretation.

Coming to one that can sure be nothing other than the nymph Daphne in the midst of transforming into a tree, I am greet’d by the Marquess of O-, that seems to be alone. I look about for Nan.

Why, he says, is Hippolyta not an amazon? And do not amazons practise archery?

And you do not go watch?

She begg’d that I would not, for she is shamefull out of practice and doubts not she will be shooting very wild. But, he goes on, have you yet visit’d the folly?

I concede that I have not yet, perchance we might go view it?

He offers me his arm and we walk up the little incline to the pagoda. I wonder, says I, did they ever have a hermit install’d? and if so, was he oblig’d to wear Chinese robes?

The Marquess gives a little sigh and says, now, there was a place he never got to.

Do you, says I, giving his arm a little squeeze, regret giving up your life of exploration?

He does not answer immediate, and perchance 'twas not a very tactfull thing to enquire of a newly marry’d fellow. After some minutes he says, why, I cannot deny I should have lik’d to see China, and visit the antipodes, but – 'tis not the imperative desire that drove my earlyer travels. There is work to my hand here, there is my ador’d Hippolyta, and sure I find I already have a family about me that I find most congenial. 'Tis a thing I am entire unus’d to.

They are excellent creatures, says I. Lord U- is becoming very well spoke of.

We come to the pagoda. One may go inside, and sure 'twould provide accommodation for a hermit that preferr’d some simple habitation.

Might we hold converse here? says the Marquess. There were none others coming this far up the avenue.

I laugh a little. Sure you are still a stranger to the ways of Society, for I am like to suppose that do you remain more than a very few minutes in this place with one that was once the notorious Madame C-, even is she now a quite renown’d philanthropist, there will be a deal of salacious speculation. No, says I, I not’d this morn that one gets a very fine view up to the pagoda does one walk a little way down the other side of this incline. We might do that, that would keep us in entire plain sight of any that past this way.

So we do that, and when we are far enough away that even does any come nigh the pagoda, they will not hear our discourse, he opens to me the matter he wishes discuss.

Lady B-, says he, 'tis in my mind to write up my travels, but I find that a manner that suits botanickal essays or intelligence reports does not serve. You have a fine and vigorous style –

La, says I, you go read my philanthropick pamphlets?

He scowls down at me, then smiles, and says, he confides I write other matter as A Lady Incognita. 'Tis a large favour to ask, he goes on, but I am like to suppose did I convey the matter to you, you might set it forth very telling.

Why, says I, I might.

If there was any recompense I might make –

Why, says I, there is a philanthropick enterprize I support, would be extreme glad of some contribution (thinking of Dolly Mutton’s good work). But I confide 'twould provide me with a deal of matter for horrid tales. Let us convoke further when I come to D- Chase.

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Somewhat later in the e’en, Sir Vernon H- comes to my side and says in low tones that sure I must have acquir’d the elixir of youth: 'tis very pretty in him, sure I was ever fond of him, the dear fellow. Sure the Marquess was a lucky fellow, he goes on.

Alas, says I, his health was quite entire done up by the time we wed, from the ravages of the mala aria.

Indeed 'tis a dreadfull malady, says he, gets into a fellow’s bones, tho’ very fortunate has not been afflict’d himself.

During the course of the night I am woke several times by scratchings upon my door, but I take no notice of 'em. (Sure, even in the old days I did not give my favours too readyly, 'twas the prudent counsel of Madame Z- that, whatever fellows may say, does 'em good to wait.)

Next morn I arise somewhat betimes and desire Sophy to array me in my riding-habit; Biffle has commend’d to me the mare Charmian in his stables as entire suitable for me.

Ajax is already about putting my saddle upon her and says he confides she is a sweet-natur’d thing, and that Miss S- but lately rode out upon Mercutio, he dares say I may catch up to her.

'Tis very agreeable to ride solitary in the park, that is indeed exceptional fine, and I do not force on Charmian, for I confide that in due course I will come up to Agnes S-. And so 'tis that at the far end of the ride, before I go turn back, I find her dismount’d and looking up the slight eminence upon which the folly stands. I go dismount myself and join her.

Do you suppose, says she, that 'tis truly Chinese or phantastique imagination?

La, says I, I am an ignorant creature and know not. But sure looks very well. But there was a matter you wisht discourse of to me?

She bites her lip. Indeed, Lady B-, sure 'tis not a matter I would yet wish disclose to Dora or Lord D-. I have had, she says, a letter from my guardian – she produces this from some inner pocket and hands it to me.

I go read it. There is a fellow, writes her guardian, has writ him desiring permission to pay his addresses to her, very proper. Says he is a clergyman that has a tidy living quite able to support him as a marry’d family man, and also has hopes of patronage that may prefer him to one yet better. However, he is not one that runs after ecclestiastickal advancement, but a scholar that would be entire happy in some country parish.

O, says I, I confide that 'tis Mr L-? But how came he to know the direction of your guardian?

O, says Agnes S-, one day he askt was Dora my only relative, so I said no, I had an aunt in Buxton, and also a guardian, that, altho’ no relative, I regard’d as in some sense an honorary grandfather. And indeed my guardian is somewhat of an antiquarian tho’ his gout these days hinders him from coming to Town.

I continue perusing the letter. 'Tis clear that Mr L- is determin’d to establish that he is in a position to support a wife in a reasonable way of living, if not, he concedes, in the style she enjoys at P- House. But there is also a deal about how very great his esteem for Miss S- is.

What, concludes her guardian, is this a fellow that knows nothing of your substantial portion? 'Tis very prepossessing if so.

Why, says I, 'tis not to be wonder’d at. Is not a fellow frequents clubs save for his antiquarian societies, so is unlike to hear the gossip that goes about concerning the present crop of young ladies that are upon the marriage market. Supposes, I confide, that you are a dependent relative that your sister and Lord D- hope to make some suitable match for.

Indeed, I suppose that to be the case, for I would not expect him to understand how in the crack of fashion I dress and how much that costs, says Miss S-, for indeed Maurice ever states that I suit a very plain style, and sure I have no hankering after ruffles and furbelows.

But, my dear, the question is, do you wish to receive his addresses?

O, she says, sure I must at the very least be most prepossesst by one that does not regard me in the light of a pot of gold. But is he not an excellent fellow? quite the kindest of hearts, and such learning!

I smile and say, sure I did not think her desire to provide him with a curate to spare him time for scholarship was entire disinterest’d benevolence and respect for scholarship.

She blushes. But, she says, my poems - sure I do not think I could give up turning verses -

- There is entire no reason why you should –

- but indeed I should have to tell him –

- do you not have firm evidence that he admires your work? –

She smiles and says, 'tis so – but –

And then continues, and apart from that, I apprehend that Lord D- considers him theologickally unsound, for he is not in the least Evangelickal in his tendencies –

My dear Miss S-, Lord D- will go fulminate upon the Archbishop of Canterbury himself, indeed I know not who he considers entire theologickally sound - mayhap some half-dozen of his Evangelickal set? – I would not consider that a hindrance to any match.

Only, I would be in some concern he might not wish to be on terms, and cut me off from Dora –

Why, says I, let us not borrow trouble before it comes to us.

Sure I am being foolish! she says. Let us have a fine canter back and I will go write saying that the gentleman may pay his addresses.

'Tis indeed exceeding pleasant as we ride back, and then go take a very excellent breakfast.

Once I have chang’d into somewhat suitable for morning wear, I go seek out Viola. I say sure I should like to see the lovely Lady Cathy, does her mama have a moment to show me to the nursery.

Why, says Viola, that apprehends that this will provide an excellent occasion for private convockation, we could go now.

So we ascend to the day-nursery, where Betty Higgins keeps a watchfull eye upon her charges, Essie that rides a fine rocking-horse, and Cathy, that will go take a step or two and then fall down and get up again and see whether she may get the trick of walking this time, 'tis entire charming to see.

Betty, says Viola, is quite discretion incarnate: I daresay in days to come the children will come tell her all their secrets.

Betty gives a small smile, and then looks down on the mending in her hands.

I say that I am a little surpriz’d that her brother is not of the party.

Oh, says Viola, Sebastian is a deal too serious, 'tis better he goes frolick with the fribble-set for a little than come here.

A good thought, says I, indeed he gains a name as a responsible fellow but must do him good to kick up his heels a little.

Provid’d, says Viola with a little smile, he can be persuad’d to that rather than discoursing of oeconomick theories with Mr MacD-.

But what I wisht to come at opening to you, was that Papa has an old friend, has been in Bombay these many years, has a daughter he wishes advance in Society.

Why, says I, 'twas somewhat of a similar matter I had from Jacob S-, only 'tis, I apprehend, a niece of his that her mama would wish the same for.

And also exceeding well-dower’d by a doating parent, I confide, says Viola.

'Tis so.

She frowns. 'Tis extreme gratifying, says she, to be thought a suitable lady to introduce young women into Society –

I laugh and say, sure a coronet will be consider’d to cover a multitude of sins.

- indeed, that is a consideration. But, she goes on, I am young and altho’ poor Mama was of good family, am consider’d to have come from trade by some of the more exacting ladies in Society, even does Lady T- cry me up for the excellence of my ton. I know 'tis quite possible to misstep. Do we not see how there are those go scrutinize the M- girls, even tho’ they are so high-born, because between the elopement and the extraordinary conduct of the Earl, there is some fear they may become a scandal?

'Tis so, says I. And aside from that, there may be some worry that you go use the power of your position to introduce those that more exacting arbiters would shun.

Quite so, says Viola, and lowers her voice still further. I am in some suspicion that Papa’s friend’s daughter is perchance the offspring of one of those customary liaisons

Entire possible, says I, 'twould not be the first instance, and one must suppose that if so, she is not so dark as to give any absolute proof in the matter –

We pause and I go consider for a little and say, I do not think you should offer to introduce any young lady into Society sight unseen. But, on the other hand, there is something very distastefull about an inspection – might one encounter 'em in some informal manner – sure, I will go think upon this, there is entire no urgency.

Oh, sighs Viola, 'tis such a relief to give it over to you!

Why, says I, I cannot work miracles but I may be able to come at some contrivance. And sure you show a very nice sense of the constraints in Society.

Viola smiles very warm and says, sure is one marry’d to such a diplomatist, one appreciates such matters.

I look at her very fond. And then Lady Cathy achieves to a good half-dozen steps before she goes plump down again, and Viola runs to embrace and praise her, and also minds not to neglect Essie.

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Altho’ 'tis somewhat to my relief that I am took into dinner by the Marquess of O-, I find upon my other side the Earl of I-, that I confide I have at some time been introduc’d to, but have no great acquaintance of. Yet there is some familiarity to the name, and of a sudden I collect that the dear Contessa mention’d attending a house-party of his, and that in his earlier years as Lord J- had been a fine amuzing young fellow and a favourite of hers (tho’ sure there are a deal of fellows of whom that might be said) but had since those days become quite the complete reacktionary. And was it not, I puzzle my memory, on that same occasion that she encounter’d that horrid creature Mr R- O-?

But during the first course I may converse with the Marquess, that says 'tis quite entirely charming to have such a family about him at D- Chase, altho’ Eddy and Geoff are at present still at Lord R-'s fine bachelor-party, that U- thought it prudent to quit to come here as he thinks 'twill do 'em good in Society does he so.

Indeed, says I, I think he has the right of it. Now he takes on the responsibility of the N- estates, should be about among fellows of a more serious and weighty nature rather than a fribble set - tho’ one hears that the A- house-party this year includ’d a deal of recreation for the mind.

So one hears, says the Marquess, and he confides he should be about asking MacD- might he recommend one that might be a politickal secretary. (For sure, thinks I, his belov’d Hippolyta, that indeed he keeps glancing towards where she sits by Biffle, is not a lady of the like of Susannah or Viola.)

He then laughs and says, sure there is somewhat of a house-party at D- Chase at present. Seem’d a little desolating to leave the Countess and Lady Louisa entirely solitary while the rest of us were about these jaunts, so – after a deal of begging by little Lou - she has Bess F- and Dodo B- to stay a se’ennight or so.

I laugh and say, 'tis an entire prudent measure for that visit to take place while you are away, for when those girls get together there is a deal of laughing and shrieking girlishness, have I not seen the like when they would be about R- House?

He says that he dares say 'twill be agreeable to Lady N-, however. He then lowers his voice a little and says that he would be glad of some private converse with me can it be contriv’d.

I know not what matter this might be and am somewhat perturb’d, but say indeed, I daresay we may contrive somewhat, I will consider upon the matter.

The first course is remov’d and he turns to Viola, that has been conversing with Selim Pasha very amiable, and I turn to the Earl of I-. We exchange a few words upon indifferent matters of social courtesy and then he says he understands that I am acquaint’d with Contessa di S-.

I laugh very merry and say, are there any that do not know the lady? Sure she has a very wide acquaintance, almost, one might suppose, from China to Peru. But indeed, we met when I was in Naples, or rather, at my late husband’s villa that is somewhat outside of the city, about various affairs to do with his estate.

And you did not desire linger in those parts yourself?

I smile and say, unless one is born there, I confide 'twould be extreme deleterious to the complexion to go live there year round. Of course, 'twas a different matter for my late husband, 'tis an entire paradise does one care for classickal antiquities -

I go on to say with somewhat of a titter that I am a deal fonder of the works of the modern day, and commence to talk about the china &C that I go acquire to adorn my pretty house, entire the latest crack.

He says 'tis give out that there are other attractions in those parts. (I wonder whether he comes at the very fine looks of the peasantry, or revolutionary struggles.) I look at him with my most feather-witt’d expression and say, la, there is very fine scenery, but does not compare to the Park in the Season; and sure one would ever be in a fret that Vesuvius would go erupt, even did one not succumb to the mala aria.

He says that is a prudent way of looking at it. But did I not share my late husband’s interests?

I sigh and offer to look tearfull and say, whatever might once have been, when we ty’d the knot he was in very poor case, almost entire an invalid. (For perchance he has heard that tale that the Marquess was sent abroad to rescue him from my toils, that was a confusion in Sir B- W-'s mind with Biffle.) However, I do not think the Earl goes take any implication that I had been marry’d as a nurse to tend a sickly husband.

Did not that fellow that was the heir, endeavour’d a bigamous marriage, and then ran mad, make some trouble over the inheritance?

O, says I, 'tis a harsh and sorrowfull memory that I would not wish to recall.

The Earl nods and says, shocking poor ton

I dab my eyes affectingly with a handkerchief. But he is now, says I, in quite the finest madhouse.

I am exceeding gratefull when Viola rises to withdraw the ladies and leave the gentlemen to themselves.

Sure, says I, going to the window of the drawing-room, this is an excellent fine vista.

Indeed, says Viola, 'tis give out that 'twas design’d thus so that one might look out at it compos’d quite like unto a painting. She gives a little sigh and says, she hopes the weather holds fair these next days. (Sure 'twould be troublesome to have such a crowd upon hands indoors.)

Comes up Lady Emily and says, o, Your Grace, 'tis give out there will be toxophily?

Viola smiles at her and says, indeed, the butts should be set up by the morn.

Oh, prime, says Lady Emily. Viola smiles at her very kindly – for all the style of looks that made her such an effective Titania at the Contessa’s ridotto, Lady Emily is somewhat of a hoyden - and then says, sure she must attend to the fusties, and moves away.

Lady Emily then says, a little uncertain, she confides that 'tis quite proper for ladies to take bow and arrow in hand? She dares say Aunt Laetitia would have said not at all, but does Her Grace provide the matter as an entertainment for her guests, cannot be unsuitable? She sighs. Sure there are a deal of rules that no-one writes down so that one may memorize 'em.

Why, says I, I confide archery is consider’d quite entire proper – I daresay because 'tis entirely a recreation these days, 'tis not a matter of war or even hunting - and is said to show off ladies extreme well.

But not billiards, she says with a grimace.

Alas not, says I.

She goes on, 'tis all exceeding tiresome. There was a fellow at a party lately, was a deal more interesting than most, had been in Nova Scotia and before that at the Cape, and sure he had tales of his travels almost as fine as Tony’s – o, I suppose I should say, His Lordship my brother-in-law?

I say that there are those would consider it in better ton.

- and of the Indians. But that seems a thing that people take exception to?

I look considering and say, some might consider it in excellent ton to converse with a fellow that is somewhat pull’d down in health and therefore might not desire to dance too much but sit out, and of course Captain C- has been out of Town Society and I daresay matters go on differently in the colonies, but indeed showing too much attention to one particular gentleman will get a young lady gossipt upon.

She sighs again. 'Tis enough to make one run away to be an actress.

I laugh, and say, I think she would find that a hard life, and go ask her how their amateur dramaticks come along.

She sighs once more and says, at present they lack that fine instruction that Miss A- gave 'em – o, is she not quite remarkable? Sure I wish I might go to Harrogate, 'tis said they will revive The Gypsy’s Curse and I long to see her in that part.

But she hears there will be charades one e’en and that will be most agreeable, tho’ she dares hazard that 'twould be consider’d most improper did she essay any breeches part?

I am like to suppose so, says I. And I should not, does the opportunity arise, was I you, undertake to present Cleopatra and her asp.

She gives a little snort of amuzement, and then pulls a face.

At this moment come in the gentlemen.

Biffle leads over to us Lord U- and another gentleman, that I recognize from many years ago.

Lady B-, permit me to introduce Sir Vernon H-, that has lately been in Vienna with the Diplomatick.

I curtesy to Sir Vernon, that I enjoy’d some passages with after he had return’d from Washington and then, do I recall aright, was post’d to Madrid, or mayhap Lisbon. Lord U- introduces him to Lady Emily, saying that Sir Vernon was at one time in the Embassy at Washington –

Frightfull place, he says, shocking climate, a deal of feverish miasmas, and barely civiliz’d in its manners (I collect he was ever of that opinion); sure Vienna is a deal more agreeable to a gentleman. He then goes say somewhat of the pleasures and delights of Vienna, and then says, he understands that Lord U- has some filial concerns about Washington.

Indeed, says Lord U-, my father the Earl goes visit some Yankee botanist admirer of his there.

Sir Vernon groans and says, sure the plants of those parts are extreme vicious, you will touch one that seems entire harmless and then break out into a most noxious tormenting rash, had a most disagreeable experience himself.

(I endeavour not to wish this upon the Earl, but I am a wick’d vengefull C-, alas.)

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We make our gentle way towards Q-, spending one night in a good comfortable inn, and the next day we ascend to the fine situation where Q- lyes, with magnificent views all around. I observe that a deal of company is already arriv’d.

I go in to where Biffle and Viola receive their guests, and greet them very warmly.

Why, says Biffle, 'tis not a party until Lady B- be of the company.

I remark that 'tis an exceeding large assembly he brings together. He sighs and says, they are oblig’d to invite those who invit’d 'em at one time or another, and certain relatives, along with good friends that they really would desire see, and 'tis an entire hotchpotch and he doubts not will require all the skills he learnt in the Diplomatick to keep all amiable.

And, says Viola with a merry look, there is a Turkish gentleman that was acquaint’d with Biffle in Constantinople, and makes as it were a Grand Tour.

Splendid fellow, says Biffle, believes that there is a deal that the Ottomans might learn from the new ways that go on in Christendom.

And, says I, does he travel with his seraglio?

Biffle rubs his nose and says, no, only with a small retinue of servants, but there is a page to whom he seems considerable attacht, 'tis not uncommon in those parts. But I confide that he is a fellow understands the need for discretion.

And, says Viola, his travels across Europe have accustom’d him to ladies that go about without veils and unattend’d by eunuchs.

Biffle looks somewhat doating at her and says, was most impresst by the Duchess’s command of his tongue.

Viola laughs and says she confides she is able to make civil in Turkish but she hopes he does not anticipate that she may be able to converse in that language on politicks or industry. But on other matters entirely, dear C-, when we are at leisure – tho’ sure there is little enough of that for the hostess when a house-party is in train – I should greatly desire to convoke with you in private.

Why, says I, I should be delight’d, and indeed there was a matter I have been askt to open to you myself, might we find occasion. And how, I continue, are Essie and little Cathy?

Entire thriving! But sure we long to know how matters go with Martha and Jacob and their guests, for I am in some fear that when she writes Martha does not wish to worry me.

O, they were entirely well when I left, are much respect’d in the locality, very like to accede to the Admiral’s design that they should remain there.

But, I go on, sure I should change out of my travelling-wear, and go mingle.

When I am shown to my chamber, I see that Docket and Sophy are already well-advanc’d upon unpacking my trunks and furbishing up a fine muslin that I might wear to stroll upon the lawn and down to the lake and along the fine avenue of statues.

Docket says that Phillips has invit’d 'em for a tea-drinking in her fine sitting-room, 'twill be most agreeable. Indeed, says I, I long to hear how she does.

So when I have washt away the dust of the roads and been clad in an exceeding elegant muslin and a fine hat secur’d upon my head and a parasol put into my hand, I go out to the grounds, where there are indeed a deal of people, but because the grounds are so extensive, does not seem at all crowd’d. There are some linger on the terrace and the lawn, others circumambulate the lake and some even go boating, there are those walk along the avenue of statues and I daresay endeavour identify who or what they might be, for one apprehends that the ancestor that purchas’d 'em did so as 'twere as a bundle or miscellany rather than a regular set of the gods of Greece or Roman emperors or heraldick animals or such. A few have even gone so far as to go admire the fine folly in the Chinese style.

I look about me to see might I find any of my acquaintance: I observe that Lord D- rows Lady D- upon the lake. I begin walk across the lawn – 'tis most exceeding well-kept and there are very fine flowerbeds. Comes up to me not quite running Agnes S-, that clasps my hand and says she is exceeding glad to see me, is this not a throng? She hears that the Marquess and Marchioness of O- are here somewhere, along with Lady Emily and Lord U-, but has not seen 'em yet.

Indeed, says I, there is a deal of company here that I do not know at all well, I daresay we have met in Society but they are by no means in my wont’d circles. (I am also in some concern that I may come across fellows that were acquaint’d with me quite intimately in past times.)

She looks about and then lowers her voice and says, there is a matter I should very much desire to convoke with you upon, Lady B-, but sure I know not when one might attain to private converse.

Hmmm, says I, I will consider upon the matter. Perchance if one contriv’d to go visit the pagoda somewhat early of a forenoon? Or I daresay there will be opportunities to ride, the park is give out most excellent fine. But let us not linger here conversing at present, may look a little particular. Let us go walk by the lake and wave to Lady D-.

(I observe that Lord D- rows exceeding well, 'tis somewhat I would not have expect’d of him. I hope he does not take a pet over the statues, many of which depict nak’d flesh in marble.)

As we walk beside the lake we discover the Marquess of O- on one of the rustick seats conversing with one I take to be the Turkish gentleman. Sure he is a very well-looking fellow a deal paler than I suppos’d Turks to be.

The Marquess turns and smiles at us and asks whether he may introduce his companion. Indeed, says I, 'tis only civil to the stranger within the gates. The fellow, whose name is Selim Pasha, that I confide is a gentleman of some rank within the Ottoman domains, bows extreme elegant and looks at me with interest, but neither with horror at my unveil’d condition nor with unduly impertinent scrutiny.

The Marquess says, had some acquaintance with Selim Pasha while was hunting for plants in those parts. (I daresay he may also have had some connexions with those that desire throw off the Ottoman yoke.) Was that not, he says, an exceeding fine hawking excursion we had?

Indeed, says Selim Pasha, but he observes that hawking does not seem to be a common sport of gentlemen in England?

The Marquess says that there are some few still practice the art, but 'tis not consider’d a particular fashionable pursuit. But sure 'tis a very wonderfull thing to see. Perchance there will be a revival, as there has been with archery. He apprehends that there will indeed be some archery during the next days, at which the Pasha looks exceeding delight’d.

Come somewhat bouncing up to us Lady O- and her sister, and greet us with great effusiveness. They are both looking extreme well.

Lady Emily slips her arm thro’ Agnes S-'s and says, are there not a deal of old fusties about?

I say that I daresay Their Graces are oblig’d to invite 'em.

That awful old creature, she goes on, Sir V- P-. Sure was he in truth a sheep he would have been mutton long since, tho’ I daresay 'twould be stringy and tough.

(I sigh inwardly. Indeed Sir V- P- adds no gayety to any gathering he graces, but I daresay 'tis entire dutyfull of Biffle to invite him. I must mind to lock my chamber door o’nights.)

(I then catch the Pasha looking at me with an expression I am well-acquaint’d with, and confide that however much he doats upon his page, his tastes do not incline to be exclusive.)

Have you seen those very curious statues? says Lady Emily to Agnes S-. I am sure you will be able to tell more about 'em than I can, let us go walk there, and we may convoke about these promis’d charades of an e’en.

They go off together. Lady O- says she is extreme glad that Em has been distract’d by the prospect of charades, for she show’d some disposition to billiards: sure is it just family and mayhap a few good friends, could be no objection, but does she essay them in this company ‘twould be most prejudicial.

Why, Nan, says I, as we walk off ourselves around the lake, you are become a very sober matronly creature now you are marry’d.

She sighs and says, has come to apprehend that her family has already become a source of scandal, and that there are some quite little things that in others might be winkt at would be imprudent in Em or Lou.

I take her hand and pat it.

'Twas, she says, a warning give to dear Mama by Lady T-. Sure a deal of the blame must lye upon me for the thoughtless manner I carry’d on.

O, poo, says I, the fault lyes quite entire with your Papa, that was happy to let you grow up as entire savages, until came time for him to dispose of you on the marriage Exchange.

Indeed, Lady T- said somewhat about early training, but I was in supposition she meant backboards or the like, Aunt Laetitia was always saying we should have been put in 'em.

Fiddlesticks, says I, the first thing the Marquess not’d about you was how well you carry’d yourself.

O, says she with a delight’d blush, did he so?

Indeed, says I. I would suppose Lady T- meant that had your mother been able to be more in Society, you would have learnt by example, and by listening to what ladies say over the tea-cups, as to what one may and may not do.

Nan sighs, and says here is Em, a deal of fellows taking a deal of interest with her, she shows entire uninterest’d, and then goes spend a deal of time talking with that Army Captain friend of Sir B- W-, about Indians.

I remark that I confide that Agnes S- is a steadying influence.

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I spend a very agreeable few days at the Admiral’s fine property. Phoebe seems to be pulling round, tho’ still lyes in. I have many fine rides upon Callisto. I open to Jacob the concerns that Belinda and I have about the fine B- estate at T-, that we fear falls to rack and ruin, and that we go visit in hopes that we may come at some means to persuade Chancery to do somewhat. He says that he had heard us’d to be an extreme fine place – was there not a not’d folly and remarkable gardens? - alas, says I, for all one knows the folly has long since tumbl’d down, one hopes without injuring any, and I daresay the gardens are like unto a wilderness.

He laughs and says, sure does one require a fellow that is acquaint’d with wildernesses, he hears that Lady B- is most extreme esteem’d by the Marquess of O-, that has had a deal of experience in such places.

I say, why, he may still have a matchet or two about him that might come most usefull in the matter. But once we have took a look at the place, might be that we should desire the advice of one such as yourself as to what might practickable be done.

Sure, he says, he should greatly like to see the place, even if 'tis fallen to rack and ruin; and sure may be a matter of, looks very bad, but might not need a deal of work to bring it back to a better state.

Why then, says I, we may call upon you in the matter, tho’ indeed, with Chancery mixt up in the business, one fears there could go grow up around the house a thicket like unto that in the tale of Sleeping Beauty.

I also spend a deal of time with dear Martha, and go help her feed the hens, and listen to her observations upon 'em, that are most exceeding acute.

They also go invite several neighbours to dine one e’en. I am most exceeding prepossesst at the esteem in which they hold Jacob S-, that is ever delight’d to give 'em the benefit of his understandings of rocks and soils, and how one might most effective go about draining some marshy field.

'Tis entirely pleasant to see how well they do in these parts. Indeed, when the ladies withdraw for tea and ratafia, there are those say, some other lady show’d 'em a charming sketch Mrs S- made of their house (or some fine feature of their property). Sure there is somewhat or other about their own property that might inspire Mrs S-? Martha I confide is somewhat taken aback, but responds very civil that tho’ of course she is not an artist to compare with Mr de C-, that has exhibit’d at the Royal Academy Exhibition and she dares says will shortly be admitt’d a Fellow, she confides that 'tis a matter of waiting upon one of the present Fellows to dye, she has a little knack for water-colours. Sure there are a deal of very pretty possibilities in the neighbourhood.

They show a little shy of me, so I say that sure 'tis said among some quite eminent artists that water-colours require a deal of skill. But I hear that several of 'em go have portraits took by Mr de C ? There is a deal of remark about his skills in the matter and the civility of his manners, sure one would not know him a Frenchman, indeed you would not know him from his speech anything but English.

Why, says I, was but a child in arms when his family fled The Terror and has liv’d in this realm ever since. I confide that they all think that shows most excellent taste that has not return’d to those shores.

There is a little pause in the conversation, and then Martha says to one of the ladies that she hears she keeps some very fine bantams and the conversation moves on to matters of poultry, ornamental waterfowl, &C. I can see that some of Martha’s remarks upon chickens are consider’d most exceeding telling.

And then the gentlemen come in, none of 'em, I am pleas’d to see, very much the worse for drink. There are several of 'em come most immediate to converse with the fascinating Dowager Lady B-, and ask me have I seen this or that fam’d local site, do I stay long, &C&C.

La, says I, did I remain longer sure I would go visit Winchester and see the Cathedral and the Round Table, and mayhap a jaunt to Portsmouth, but I stay but a few days on my way to the Duke of M-'s house-party at Q-.

There is general remark that alas, did My Ladyship remain longer, there would be a deal of invitations to dine and to local balls, parties of pleasure of various sorts, 'tis a great pity that I do not linger, but indeed, one hears Q- is most exceeding fine and the Duke very hospitable.

O, entirely, says I. His and Her Grace are quite among my dearest friends (sure 'tis entirely true).

(Sure I daresay it does no harm to the S-s’ consequence in this neighbourhood that their close family connexion to the Duke of M- is known.)

Also, I say, I am very glad to see my old friend Admiral K- fall heir to such a fine property as this is.

(I wonder do they go speculate upon the nature of these antient friendships.)

There are also ladies come discourse with me upon dress, to know what the latest Town styles are, and also to wonder whether Lady J-, that is so very not’d for her philanthropick work, might be brought to an interest in various causes of their own in the locality? There is a plan they go about for almshouses, Mr S- has already gone give 'em most usefull advice –

(I confide that they have only heard of Lady J- and not encounter’d her.)

Why, says I, there is hardly a philanthropick enterprize in Town can contrive to get on without Lady J-, but sure when I see her, tho’ cannot be for some months as she goes visit the Admiral upon his flagship –

I perceive that 'tis believ’d the most entire romantick story in these parts just as 'tis in Town.

- I will most certain mention the matter to her. I ask somewhat about the almshouses, to make civil.

Sure 'tis a relief when the company’s carriages come and bear 'em away. I think this emotion is shar’d by Raoul de C-, for a deal of fellows have been asking does he paint dogs or horses or cows, there is even one fellow has some particular fine pig he would desire commemorat’d in oils.

He does not feel, he says, that his talents lye in that direction, but he will most certain go remark upon this desire to any artists of his acquaintance that feel their brushes apt for the depiction of the animal creation -

Why, says I in low tones, observing that Jacob and Martha S- are still waving off their guests, I thought you hit off the dormouse exceeding well.

He gives a little smile. Why, he says, 'tis a different matter – sure he thought there was a very fine effect to be had of Josh F- and the badger - not, look at my fine possession, that has won such and such a race, or took the prize at some agrickultural show –

I consider upon this and say, I think I see what he means.

Jacob and Martha S- return from the front steps. Well, says Martha, there is our duty to local society done for a while. Jacob S- looks at her very fond: dear Matty, he says, all went exceeding well, and puts an arm about her. She leans against him and says, sure, she knows that these matters are necessary do we live in society, but sure she is glad she is not little V, that has to hold this enormous house-party.

Indeed, says I, 'tis the first one they have give, must give her some concern.

Martha smiles very proud and says, but did not the M- House ball go off most exceeding well? I daresay 'twill be entire the same at this house-party. Tho’ sure I am glad that we do not have to attend.

We all troop off to our bedchambers – I take a little peep in at Phoebe, and smile to see that she slumbers very peacefull.

Indeed 'tis come time that I must up sticks and travel on to Q-: Martha begs cannot I stay but one more day, to which I say, ‘twould make it too long and tiring a journey for Docket; and also I think Ajax might not go have words with me about overdoing the horses, but sure he can communicate a deal of such matter without words.

Martha looks at me very fond and says, she dares say I was not listening to that conversation about servants taking advantage and that one must not indulge 'em -

My dear Martha, says I, do I not indulge Docket I confide she will send me out into Society looking an entire fright while telling me 'tis the latest crack.

O, says Martha, sure you will go pretend 'tis entire prudential. But on more interesting matter than servants - can they find no other matter to discourse of? – do you have any novel coming out?

I sigh and say, sure I have been in such a whirl of Society that my very horrid tale of Cornish wreckers and sea-monsters is still not yet complet’d, mayhap I shall have time over the summer, tho’ indeed there is still a deal of Society, and 'tis spread all about the country with a deal of travelling between. But there is a tale of mine comes out shortly, I will send you a copy when it appears.

'Tis very kind, she says.

I go make my farewells to Phoebe, that looks a deal better now she sleeps better. She clasps my hand and says, 'tis ever good to see me, and hear news of the household, and also about dear Miss Flora, that grows such a great girl now.

I kiss her and kiss the sleeping Lucile, shake Raoul de C-'s hand, and go downstairs, embrace Martha, shake Jacob S-'s hand, and get once more into my carriage, that I daresay I shall become extreme tir’d of within the next months.

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So the morn I have Sophy array me in my riding-habit, and go to the stables, where Ajax informs me that sure they are not giving Callisto enough exercize: but there is no wick’dness in her nature, none at all.

Callisto is a deal taller than my own sweet Jezzie, 'tis not to wonder at is she Lady J-'s favour’d mount, but Ajax helps me into the saddle, and I settle myself comfortable and take the reins as he holds her head. We set off at an eager trot and once we are into open countryside move to a brisk canter, that I find myself enjoying quite exceeding, for her gait is most agreeable.

'Tis a most pleasant morn, promises that 'twill be hot later but at present there is a refreshing breeze. I pass by a field of the fine cows of the place, and am exceeding glad to be mount’d so high and safe. There is a dairymaid goes among 'em quite fearless, slaps 'em upon the rump to move 'em so she may pass, strokes 'em upon the poll, sure I could not do the like.

As I turn to return, and bring Callisto to a slower pace to cool her down, I see Jacob S- upon a steady cob as he goes look about the estate, and come up by him.

We remark on what an agreeable morn 'tis, and I say somewhat in praise of Callisto. He says that 'tis an excellent thing that she may have someone give her a little more exercize than the stable-lad has time for. I say that I daresay they will not yet have heard from Lady J-, and he says that 'tis so – can hardly have yet attain’d to her husband’s flag-ship.

What an excellent fellow is the Admiral, he goes on, has took the trouble to send me a deal of fine geologickal specimens and fossils from about those parts, says 'tis somewhat that will keep the middies occupy’d and out of mischief to send 'em about hunting for interesting rocks &C – I smile, for 'tis so like the dear creature - has also, he goes on, solicit’d that we might stay on at the estate to keep it under hand. And Lady J- quite concurs in the design, for says she cannot suppose that she would like to reside out of Town as a permanency.

And do you incline to the plan? I ask.

He looks about him with great pleasure and says, sure, he had never suppos’d himself a countryman, but he finds the business extreme absorbing, and 'tis so exceeding healthfull a place for Martha and Deborah. There are several fine local scientifick societies in the locality, 'tis not so distant from Town that he may not get to meetings of the Royal Society &C, and friends and colleagues may come visit.

Why, says I, 'tis exceeding good to hear. Martha, I confide, comes round quite completely to restor’d health?

Quite entirely, and we may even hope that Deborah might have brothers and sisters, Mrs Black was most exceeding reassuring in the matter when we took the liberty of consulting her while she was attending upon Phoebe’s lying-in lately.

I say this is all quite exceeding good news, and add that is he not already acquaint’d with Sir C- F-, that is very not’d among agrarian improvers, I should be entire happy to bring about an introduction.

Sure you have a wide acquaintance, Lady B-! Indeed he is a fellow one should like to know, has writ some most interesting essays.

I smile and say sure I knew him many years since, but lately had an unexpect’d rencontre with him in his capacity as Lord U-'s godfather.

Excellent young fellow! says Jacob S-. But was another matter I should desire to open to you, that is so well-acquaint’d with Society and its convenances -

O, poo! says I, sure you flatter me. But say on.

I have an older sister, he says, was marry’d very young to a wealthy associate of my father’s, now has a daughter that is coming to a marriageable age, very pleasing looks, and will be well-dower’d. My sister dreams of an exalt’d match -

Aha! says, and doubtless desires that you may advance her interest to your sister-in-law, that marry’d so exceeding well?

'Tis so, he concedes, but one would not wish to look encroaching. I have less knowledge of the girl than I might have due to the estrangement with my family. Seems well-brought-up enough – nothing vulgar in her manner –

I frown a little in thought and say, let me consider upon the matter. Indeed Her Grace is now the preceptress of a fine circle of young women, two excellent marriages in the past Season made among 'em, I apprehend that the Marchioness of O- and Viscountess A- will be making their curtesies as marry’d ladies next Season under her sponsorship. But I must think a little how one might go about it.

Lady B-'s judgement in such matters is consider’d most exceeding nice, I apprehend.

O, fiddlesticks, says I, as we approach the stableyard once more, you go flatter me.

There is a very fine scent of breakfast, such that I am disinclin’d to go change from my riding-habit, and instead go into the dining-room, where I see Raoul de C- already at table.

He stands up and makes a leg and says, sure he was most exceeding late yestere’en, was desir’d to stay to dine at the house where he had been making portraits of the family, seem’d only civil to remain. And when he return’d Phoebe was slumbering most exceeding peacefull, as she has not ever since Lucile’s birth.

Why, says I, I would consider that 'tis the healing power of nature: when one has been so wakefull so long, sleep will quite o’erpower.

He dares say that 'tis so.

I butter myself a muffin and look about the well-spread table. I am just in contemplation of what I might take, when comes a maid and lays before me a very large boil’d egg, that Mrs S- desir’d 'em to cook fresh for Lady B-.

Indeed, 'tis a very fine fresh egg, and has a double yolk, sure one never gets such fine eggs in Town.

I ask Mr de C- how he does, and he says, sure, he thought he would be eating the bread of idleness here, but he supposes that the S-s have gone cry him up about the neighbourhood and he has a deal of commissions upon hand.

Why, says I, I am like to think that after that exhibition in the early part of the year, your renown spreads considerable.

He says indeed, 'twas extreme gratifying. But, he says, to change the subject, I am quite infinite gratefull for the assistance you have been in this matter of Phoebe’s polishes &C, 'tis not only that it quite relieves our minds of any frets about how we may live, but has serv’d most exceedingly to distract her mind with occupation.

Indeed, he says, when you have conclud’d your breakfast, if you would care to come to the chamber that has been set aside as a studio I have a small token for you.

O, says I, 'tis not at all needfull, but 'tis very good of you.

After I have finisht breakfasting – sure a morning ride in country air gives one a fine appetite - I therefore go to his studio, that I confide was perchance meant in the first place for an orangery or such, for has fine large windows.

There are a deal of canvases in assort’d states of completion about the place, but he goes to a bureau at one side of the room, and opens a drawer.

I thought, he says, that you would desire somewhat that you might readyly conceal from casual observers, so I workt on a smaller scale than I am wont.

O, says I, as tears start to my eyes, how can I thank you? For 'tis a painting of my belov’d precious child Flora, holding a dormouse in her hands and smiling down upon it.

He says that, to manifest his gratitude to the F-s for their very great help in Phoebe’s enterprize, he went to R- House to make 'em some paintings of the children – Bess and Meg with the toy theatre, Josh in his menagerie, Quintus at his lessons – that gave him the opportunity also to make this one.

I cannot resist my desire to kiss her dear face.

Indeed, he says, one sees that she is greatly belov’d in that family, but –

Oh, says, I fear I should make a dreadfull mama, spoiling, and fretting, 'tis entire better for her, my sweet darling, but sure I miss her.

He sighs and says, had they been told that Camille would live, did they give him up – sure, 'twas a brave thing to do.

(No, I cannot tell him that only my great love for my best darling Eliza could have brought me to it.)

I say that I will go put it away safely, and 'twill be greatly treasur’d.

I go therefore to my chamber, and am somewhat astonisht to discover that Docket and Sophy are nowhere to be seen. I go look a little along the corridor, and eventually hear a noise as of some brangle.

I go along to where I can this sound of voices, and find that 'tis Docket and Sophy that go thro’ Martha’s closets and set aside those gowns &C that are in requirement of furbishing or making over to bring them more into style, much to Martha’s indignation.

I go in and put my arm about Martha’s shoulders and say, dear Martha, I confide that you and Mr S- go be invit’d about somewhat in country society, is’t not so? And I daresay there are those in the neighbourhood that are scientifick amateurs? Sure are you going to go about in company, my dear, 'tis entire proper to be well-dresst.

Martha pouts a little, but says, indeed they do get invit’d to dine about the locality, and to assemblies &C.

Docket says, after all, 'tis only provincial society, she dares say they can bring on one or other of the maids to undertake matters, once they have her wardrobe in good order.

Martha sighs and says, she supposes 'tis sensible.

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Comes at last the time when I must go out of Town. Indeed I have some very agreeable visits to make along with some that are more dutyfull matters.

Biffle and Viola go hold a house-party at Q-, but I have determin’d to depart a few days beforehand of it, and go visit Martha and Jacob in Hampshire and see how Phoebe does. 'Twill also make it an easyer journey for Docket and I daresay for the horses.

'Tis entirely delightfull to arrive at the Admiral’s fine property and see how much matters have come on under Jacob S-'s hand. Martha, the dear creature, comes running out of the front door with little Deborah in her arms to greet me.

O, dear C-, how entire charming to see you! what a becoming hat! do come in and have some tea to refresh yourself from the journey.

Jacob S- comes out after her and tells Ajax where he may take the carriage, says they have put me in the Rose Room, and that Docket and Sophy are invit’d to go take tea in the housekeeper’s room while the trunks are taken up.

I embrace Martha and kiss Deborah and shake hands with Jacob and say, they all look exceeding well, sure these are healthfull parts, and does Deborah walk yet?

Jacob S- laughs and says, does not essay to walk yet, but will creep at a great rate does one put her down.

And how does Phoebe? I ask.

Martha sighs a little and says, sure she and little Lucile come along very well, but she is exceeding anxious, can scarce bear to go sleep in case it comes to Lucile as it did to Camille, tho’ indeed, one cannot wonder, the poor thing. She kisses the top of Deborah’s head. But she will be delight’d to see you.

Sophy hands me out a basket and I say, Euphemia would not let me depart without I brought this basket of good things for all of you, even tho’ I said here you were in the countryside with fine farms all about.

Why, says Martha, 'tis true, but there are no cooks in the neighbourhood to compare with Euphemia or Seraphine: well enough at plain country fare, one cannot complain. But let us go in.

It almost brings tears to my eyes to see the parlour so very much Martha’s room, with a large table cover’d with drawing paper and pens and water-colours and paint-brushes, quite entirely in her old style. I go look and see what she is drawing and see that there are a number of very charming studies of hens.

O, says Martha, ringing for tea, I am become an entire countrywoman and devote myself to the poultry-yard, sure chickens are a deal more interesting than I ever suppos’d. And wait until you taste our eggs, they are quite out of the common good.

I sit down in a very comfortable chair and take my hat off. Deborah does indeed go creep exceeding fast now Martha has put her down.

The tea comes and she pours out. Handing me my cup, she says, and how does this matter of the Marquess and the Earl’s entire family coming live with him go?

Why, says I, the Earl goes sulking off to Washington, where there is some Yankee botanist has desir’d him go visit this age, and he has authoriz’d Lord U-, that excellent young fellow, to take charge of matters of the estate. And all are extreme happy at O- House, and the Marquess goes fit it up so that Lady N- may get about the house in her invalid carriage, and 'tis entirely the prettyest thing to see him with the new Marchioness, they will be ever billing and cooing.

Martha gives a happy sigh and says, ‘tis most agreeable when things fall out so. But how are matters at R- House?

Why, says I, the F-s have gone return to the north for a few months, so that they may see how matters go with the ironworks – tho’ sure Mr D- is a most excellent partner in the enterprize, it greatly relieves their minds now that they are oblig’d to spend so much time in Town or going about visits. And His Lordship and Mr MacD- have gone down to A- for his usual bachelor party before they are about the various visits they are invit’d on.

She goes on to say she hears that I go extend my premises?

Indeed, says I, I was beginning to feel a little crampt in my pretty little house. Sure I was in no position to give dinner-parties: well, I daresay I could have gone take a private room at M. Duval’s, but, sure I am not mistress in my own household, I confide my entire establishment would have up and left.

Martha laughs somewhat immoderate and says, and I daresay your guests would not be at all pleas’d either.

Indeed, says I, Euphemia is a very fine cook.

And do she and Hector go increase?

Not as yet, I say, but there is plenty of time for that. But, my dear, 'tis extreme pleasant to sit and gossip but I should very much like to go see Phoebe.

Of course! cries Martha, I should not hinder you, I confide she is most anxious to see you herself. She lyes in in the Lilac chamber, I will take you up myself.

I go into the room, that has a fine sunny aspect, and see Phoebe sat up in bed nursing Lucile.

O, Your – I mean, C- - 'tis an entire delight to see you, and looking so well. And this, she says looking down very doating, is Lucile.

I go over and sure Lucile looks a fine healthy pretty babe, and I say that I hear that there are those have a superstition that one should not praise an infant’s looks for fear the fairies will come steal it and leave a changeling, so I will say, sure, she is well enough, and you may take my meaning.

Phoebe smiles and says, sure she is a darling, goes take the breast very civil, Aunty Black was exceeding pleas’d with how we did – but then her face falls, and she says, but o, I cannot help but worry, after Camille.

'Tis no wonder, says I, but I would have suppos’d Mrs Black might soothe your concerns?

O, indeed she will say 'tis a rare thing, and lightning does not strike twice, but I cannot help but be foolish fretfull.

Why, says I, I confide that time will prove that. But how is Mr de C-?

Phoebe smiles very fond and says, has got about the neighbourhood that he stays here, and there come those from about the county, even from Portsmouth and Winchester, that would desire him make their portraits. 'Tis indeed gratifying.

And, she goes on, 'tis quite the best thing for him to have some occupation.

But, says I, sure I will suppose that he already goes make some very fine pictures of Lucile.

Indeed he does, says Phoebe with a fond smile. But, if I might ask how matters go in the household, and how Seraphine and her family do? Does Euphemia - ?

Not yet, says I, and they do not seem troubl’d at it. Seraphine’s Joseph is a fine healthy fellow, and of course they go to A- over the summer, 'tis quite the best thing for the children.

And Titus and Tibby still walk out?

Indeed they do, says I, but they seem in no hurry to go marry.

Why, there is Tibby in quite the finest place, says Phoebe, and tho’ Titus does well 'tis ever a precarious matter that he must depend so upon his voice, will go take extreme care when there are colds &C going about.

Sure, says I, that is a concern, but he now goes about to compose – o, as you know has already made some very pretty songs, and finds the matter remunerative – an entire cantata out of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia -

Why, that is a fine ambitious thing in him! and when I think what an idle shiftless fellow was when came to the household, 'tis entire remarkable.

- but 'tis another string to his bow, in the same way as Tibby’s writings as Sheba.

She smiles and says, or my polishes.

Why, dear Phoebe, I would not tire you with business matters, but all goes exceeding well – I have some reports and accounts for you, but they can entirely wait. Is there any matter you desire discuss, Mr Sebastian K- can be here most expeditious.

That is exceeding good of 'em. And how goes the matter of Seraphine and Euphemia’s preserves?

Why, in my absence, Euphemia purposes quite a Grand Tour about orchards and fruit-growers to make sure that the business starts with good quality produce, for has ever been their practice to do so.

Phoebe smiles and says, sure she remembers Seraphine standing at the door arguing with one or t’other that try’d sell her somewhat she thought not up to the mark.

I see her looking a little drowsy and say I shall leave her now, should she like me to put Lucile in her cradle? As I take her, Phoebe says in sleepy tones, and how does Miss Flora?

I put Lucile down in her cradle and say, o, a fine bouncing girl and the darling of my heart as ever.

I look around and see that Phoebe sleeps, sure I confide she needs it. And little Lucile shows every disposition to do the same. I go pull the curtain so that the light does not shine upon 'em, and walk out very softly.

Jacob S- is in the hall when I descend the stairs, sure he looks quite the entire countryman. He says that should I desire to ride about the estate – there are indeed some exceeding pleasant rides to be had – Lady J- most specifick said that I might ride her Callisto. Indeed he confides that she does not get enough exercise at present.

Why, says I, that is most exceeding civil in her, and mayhap I might go take a ride the morn?

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I am seat’d at my desk and feeling in some confidence that I may reach the bottom of the pile of correspondence that I have to deal with, when comes Hector to show in Mrs N-.

I rise and greet her with a kiss and desire Hector to request coffee.

Why, says I, I had suppos’d you must be already on the way to Margate.

Hah, says she, I am in no great hurry to go there, sure might be a different matter could I only prevail upon Mrs O’C- to gossip a little upon her patrons; but she is ever discreet, alas. Indeed, I am sure 'twould quite surprize those that know her as a dispenser of special pleasures to see her upon the sands with her son, building fortifickations or looking in tide-pools, and collecting shells and pebbles.

But then, she goes on, there is nothing a-doing in Town, so one might as well be in the healthfull airs, and mayhap go bathe a little to keep Mr N- company –

Sure, says I, 'twill set you up for some fine adulterous f-----g in dressing rooms when Society returns to Town. I hear Mr J- takes the company to Harrogate?

Indeed he does – says he is getting a little too old and set in his ways for touring and its travails. And is greatly chear’d that Miss R- is out of lying-in and in considerable health –

What! says I, she goes with 'em to Harrogate? (Tho’ indeed, she is a very dedicat’d actress and I daresay desires get back upon the boards.)

Mrs N- laughs and says, o, 'twill be an entire family party: as well as Mr W-, her devot’d fop Danvers D- goes with her, and not only that, his mama goes too, will mind the babe while Miss R- is at the theatre, take her own pug and little Puggsiekins promenade about the town, and take charge of the household generally.

Sure, says I, I have been in such a whirl and flurry of Society that I have had no opportunity to go call upon her. A little boy that she calls Orlando, is’t not?

With lungs that promise a fine future career upon the stage! She then sighs and says, Mr J- and Miss A- have both come separately to her to promise that any romps will be entirely a matter of beguiling provincial tedium –

Tush, says I, there are a deal of fine entertainments in Harrogate and excellent walks about the place, 'tis report'd – you will mind that Mrs F- found the place exceeding beneficial, the T-s lik'd it extremely, and the S-s have also stay’d there because there are matters of geologickal interest in the vicinity. I should have suppos’d Miss A- would know somewhat of the matter.

Mrs N- rolls her eyes and says, I confide she had other amuzements!


She then says, she wonders does Lady B- know more than she tells about this business of Lord N- and the exodus of his family from N- House and this very sudden voyage of his to the Americas.

Why, his light-finger’d ways have long been an on-dit in society and winkt at, until Major S- went become so vociferous about the loss of his dear serpent of Old Hoogly, that none could do so any more.

She looks at me very thoughtfull and says, she sees I am quite silence to the death! upon the matter. So, what is this rumour that Lady Z- already goes find a new cicisbeo in that family?

Why, says I, Mr Edward M- goes gape upon her considerable, and she shows civil to his boyish ardour.

Sure the M- boys are fine handsome creatures, she says. And while 'twas Mr Geoffrey M- saw you first, 'tis rumour’d that Lord U- takes an elder brother’s privilege to cut him out.

O, poo! I cry, Lord U- considers me entirely as a friend of his mother -

Mrs N- begins laugh quite immoderate. And then recovers herself and says, must be away.

I laugh a little myself after she goes. But mind me that, altho’ there is no urgency in the matter, I might go consider upon the young ladies upon the marriage market that might suit for Lord U-. Has no necessity to hang out for fortune but I daresay would desire good breeding. I collect that Lord D- has a sister that must be shortly making her debut in Society.

In the afternoon I take my card-case and go make calls: 'tis most exceeding agreeable to discover how many houses there are where I may merely leave my card and not be oblig’d to make suitable conversation for the proper time.

I end up at O- House, for I greatly desire to see how matters get on there and how Hester does.

I am shown into the exceeding charming room that is her parlour, deckt with a deal of flowers and Selina sitting upon her mistress purring.

I go kiss her and say, sure she looks comfortable. And Selina takes no desire to return, for one hears cats are very attacht to their homes?

Hester laughs and says, sure, she is quite supersed’d in Selina’s affections by Arabella, that will offer tempt her appetite with a little cream, or keep by a little salmon for her. Has never liv’d so high in all her nine lives. But indeed Arabella is an excellent creature: will send up all sorts of little treats to tempt my own appetite, entirely welcomes little Lou, that has taken a passionate desire to learn about cooking, into the kitchens – for Lou comes back from R- House full of tales of how she and Bess and Dodo would go lesson themselves under Seraphine.

Oh, she sighs, she is quite in love with Bess F-, that is so clever and well-instruct’d and understands business, and would desire to see her bowl to her own brothers, for 'twould show 'em what a young lady can do.

I smile very much at this account of the dear hoyden. She is quite the best of girls, says I.

And her sister is a prodigy upon the pianoforte, and her brother has a menagerie of beasts quite entire tame, and there is their little sister that is the prettyest child she ever saw –

- I am near surpriz’d to tears by this praise of my precious jewel –

- indeed, her brothers and sisters are mayhap a little tir’d of her praises of R- House; or rather, Geoff will say 'tis all very well for girls and children, but for manly exercize and learning there is nowhere can compare to the west wing of R- House.

I laugh and say that I hope he benefits.

O, she says, the boys are all quite wild about this party at A-. Oh, the convockations about dress, and what they should take.

She smiles very content’d and says, 'tis really most agreeable.

She then grows a little more serious and says, now Nan is return’d to London she takes Em about a little when she goes into Society, and they were lately at a supper-party at Sir B- W-'s –

Indeed, says I, was there myself, and was struck by how very much in looks they both were.

She smiles very fond, and says, but I take just a little concern over Em, that met some fellow, a friend of the W-s, a Captain C-, that has been at Nova Scotia, and told her a deal of fine tales about the place. Sure she comes and tells me all about the matter, 'tis an excellent thing, but one would like to know who the fellow is.

Why, says I, I know a little of the fellow, that I first met in the company of a fellow-officer of his, Major W-, that is a cousin of Sir B-. And he is currently invalid’d home having suffer’d some very severe fever in those parts, and is under the care of physicians. Is in some concern that may no longer be consider’d fit for active service, talks of selling out and returning to Nova Scotia to cultivate the land, or perchance raise horses. I know little enough of his family, but suppose that, as he has been residing on the W-s’ Somerset estate this while, as more sanitive than staying in Town, either has no family or perchance is not on the best terms with 'em. But I can go interrogate Lady W-, that is quite one of my dearest friends –

My dear C-! Is she not a sad bluestocking that runs her husband, that us’d to be a great fribble?

Not in the least! I cry, why, indeed she is a well-educat’d lady and shows a fine understanding of politicks, better than many gentlemen that sit in Parliament, but a most agreeable creature. There is a pretty mutual devotion 'twixt her and Sir B-, 'tis no matter of wearing the breeches, and he was certainly us’d to be a sad fribble but has quite pull’d round. But indeed, I can find out from her whether she knows any more of Captain C-.

I am probably a very silly creature, says Hester, and live so much out of Society, but when Em, that has never shown any great inclination to gentlemen before, comes be so effusive -

Why, says I, are we not given caution by Shakspeare about young women that come to admire fellows for the dangers they have past thro’? But sure I have heard Captain C-'s tales of Nova Scotia and the Indians there &C and indeed he tells 'em well.

But, my dear, I will just make a note in my little memorandum book to the matter, and then I will be gone.

As I come to the front door I encounter Sebastian K-, that is such a favourite with the M- boys, that is also about leaving. I offer that I might take him at least part of his way in my carriage.

’Tis very kind, he says, he goes to M- House if 'tis not out of my way.

Not in the least, says I.

On the way to M- House, he expresses his gratitude for my putting them in the way of having Herr P- undertake German correspondence for 'em. Shows very well, great apprehension, has even made a suggestion or two demonstrating a very fine grasp upon matters, 'tis most encouraging.

He then adds that his papa is now considering sending him another Grand Tour, this time about the Baltic, mayhap next year.

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