Sure, I confide that my soirée was by no means a disaster - there was none came knocking upon the door for Lord D- and Mr H- to go most expeditious to Lady D, that I had been in some fears of – yet I would not count it among my most successful.
Apart from my concerns about the V-s - mayhap I might see does Jacob S- have some knowledge in the matter – I am somewhat worry’d that the Contessa did not attend.
Indeed, I am so worry’d that I determine that whatever business I may have upon hand, I should go call and see is she well – for she is by no means a young woman however ageless her spirit.
But when I am admitt’d at her fine mansion I find her seat’d in the parlour reading. On enquiring as to her health, she laughs and says, there were friends of hers at the Embassy, supposing she must be entire melancholick at Reynaldo’s departure, came call for her yestere’en to convey her with their party to the opera, quite impromptu. And since, she goes on, I daresay 'twill serve best that 'tis believ’d his departure saddens me, rather than giving me quite the greatest relief, I thought it prudent not to disclose that I was already bound about a party of pleasure by pausing to send a note of apology.
My dear, says I, your thought was as ever apt. And how was the opera?
She wrinkles her nose and says, she does not wish to dispraise my country, but indeed 'tis not the opera as we know it at Naples.
I laugh and say, as for that, as I collect she was not in Town when Mr P-'s and Mr G- D-'s opera Finn the Fair was produc’d? There were some pretty airs – sure you may have heard Titus sing 'em – but 'twas a sorry business if not as bad as Mr P-'s play of Queen Maud, for all are like to suppose that Mr G- D- curb’d his excesses.
She laughs and says, indeed, she would have no great hopes of any matter in which Mr P- might have a hand. She knows not why that nice Irishwoman puts up with him.
Why, says I, she will give it out that her first husband was a charming beguiling fellow that was an entire scoundrel – indeed, I know it myself, a shocking fellow, bad enough in himself but also one that delight’d in leading young men astray – dy’d in debtors’ prison. And Mr P- may be a sour creature, but he is a fellow of considerable probity.
Was he not, asks the Contessa, at one time a patron of Lady J-'s little actress?
O, says I, 'twas a matter of desiring to say that he had quite entire made the career of a second Siddons. Will still be heard occasional to grumble that she should become a great tragedienne.
And she with such a fine comick gift!
Indeed, says I. But since I apprehend that you are quite entire well, I should take my leave – oh, I cry, struck with a thought. I daresay Reynaldo would not have notic’d anything to the matter, but I am led to suppose that Herr P- goes take advantage of the fine sympathetick feelings of Frau and Fraulein H- that he lodges with, and may even have gone so far as to seduce the fair Fraulein. I confide he would not have said aught to you upon the subject?
Only, says the Contessa, disclos’d to me some of Herr P-'s thinking upon the freedom of the affections that should not be constrain’d by the conventions of society: and that he even advances some notions that in his ideal community there would be a plurality of loves.
Why, I say, giving her a sidelong look, 'tis very unlike the life of Society as we know it.
We both laugh somewhat immoderate.
Tho’ sure, I say more soberly, 'tis very curious the laws one may break, and still remain in Society, and the ones that one may not.
We both sigh somewhat.
And indeed, says the Contessa, tho’ the laws of this ideal society might allow a plurality of partners, I am not sure they will do away with jealousy.
I confide not. But does a fellow have such views, may consider he acts in entire accordance with the highest morality when he goes undertake a seduction. And indeed that might be no great matter in his ideal society in the wilderness, but for a respectable young woman that tries make a living in Town, 'tis a deal heavyer.
We sigh again.
And now, says I, I will indeed be gone.
We part with great amiability and I go home.
I am in the greatest suspicion that Hector and Dorcas are greatly mind’d to get me out of the house as soon as maybe in order to begin upon the works, but 'tis an afternoon when I am at home to visitors and 'tis by no means convenable that they should start putting my books into boxes and very carefully packing away my china so that 'twill not be damag’d during this upheaval.
And so I tell 'em, before going sit in my parlour in case of callers.
Very shortly comes Mrs V- that makes most apologetick about not attending my soirée, but they were sent at very short notice a card for a lecture by Mr V-'s old friend, Major S- of the Hon Company’s Bengal forces, that has made a great study of the snakes of those parts. And they are such antient acquaintances that, quite apart from the fascination of the subject matter, 'twould have been most incivil not to attend.
I remark that I was told by General Y-, of the Madras forces, that the snakes in those parts are extreme venomous?
O, says Mrs V-, not all, by any means, and Major S- declares that does one understand how to handle 'em, there is very little danger. Had some exceeding fine specimens.
(I daresay that are these his pet serpents he would not be agreeable to having one battle Josh’s mongoose, that the dear General said was an extreme fine sight.)
Why, says I, I certainly should not expect you to give up such a feast of knowledge in favour of my soirée.
Comes in Mrs D-, that is the mother of Danvers D-, makes civil to Mrs V- and myself. There is some exchange of general gossip, including the very romantick tale of the Marquess of O-'s elopement.
Mrs V- draws her brows into a frown and says, sure she cannot understand why Lord N- continues look so grim – did he not promote this match himself?
I confide that moving as she does in scientifick and philosophickal circles she is not inform’d on the progress of this tale. Mrs D-, however, enlightens her and remarks that Miss R- quite sighs for one to turn it into a play.
Mrs V- minds that she has spent the proper period for a call, and I daresay has others to make. She adds, before departing, that she is told by Jacob S- that there is somewhat very remarkable in the way of a rare orchid on the Admiral’s Hampshire estate.
I remark to Mrs D- that she does not bring the pug into company – no, she says, I have calls to make upon those that will go sneeze at the sight of the poor little fellow. Before she departs about these calls she gives me news of Miss R-‘s condition, that is what one would expect now she is this far advanc’d; and adds a remark as to what an entertaining fellow is Mr W-, so I confide that they are quite a family group.
After a few more callers I may expect no more, and go change into my riding habit so that I may go out upon my lovely Jezebel for a little while.
There is a deal of company in the Park, for 'tis the fashionable hour and exceeding fine weather. As ever there are fellows wish attract the attention of the fascinating Lady B-, but I quite entire ignore 'em.
I see Agnes S- riding with her groom alongside her, and go up to greet her. How go matters with Lady D-, I ask?
Agnes S- says she knows not, 'tis a matter entire mysterious to her and she confides that Lord D- thinks 'twould be improper for her to know more. Indeed, she says with a profound sigh, he is endeavouring persuade me to go stay with some relations of his – sure I am daresay they are kind and hospitable but they are rather old and fusty. Was matters different at N- House I am sure I might go stay with dear Lady Emily, does he want me out of the house, but from what I hear from 'em, they do not like at present to invite guests.
Indeed, says I, matters there are still unsettl’d. But, my dear! My own house is but a small house and I am just about to have building works put in hand, and I go stay at R- House with the F-s for a few weeks while the matter is undertook. Sure that is a fine large house and I confide that they would be entire delight’d did you go visit 'em for a few days.
Sure I could not presume, says Miss S-, but looks somewhat longing.
My dear, they would be charm’d! Sure the younger set there is of years a little below your own –
O, those nice lively creatures Bess and Meg F-, that came to Vauxhall? Indeed 'twould be a pleasure to improve our acquaintance.
Why, says I, I will go home at once and write a little note to Mrs F-, and I confide that the morn you will have an invitation to go visit at R- House.
'Twould be exceeding delightfull, she says: and oh, I have heard it give out that there is a wombatt?
O, an entire menagerie! says I.
Sure she looks exceeding well when she smiles so. But I will say nothing, she says, to Lord D- until the invitation comes.
Extreme prudent, says I.