Sure there are enough matters ado at R- House the while to occupy Agnes S-'s mind and keep her from brooding overmuch upon her sister, that she goes visit daily and says remains well in body and recovering health, but still seems lower’d in spirits.
(I hope that Lady P- does not go recount to her her deal of shocking tales concerning ills that come to children, that is what she will converse of as a variation from horrid obstetrickal tales. 'Twould lower anyone’s spirits.)
Eliza or I ever accompany her when she visits, so that we may distract Lady P-, or go converse with Lord D-, that I think has come into some theologickal tangle concerning the pains of childbirth, for there is his sweet innocent Theodora, quite the least sinfull of women and always concern’d to do good, suffer’d so exceeding. And he know that 'tis in the Bible concerning the initial sin of Eve, but –
I say, but have you not consider’d that even the brute creation goes travail to bring forth young (for sure, both Lord and Lady P- will discourse of the matter as it comes to cows even over the dinner-table) and that 'tis somewhat in the way of nature? But, I go on, seeing his somewhat shockt expression, I am an uneducat’d creature that did not even have the benefit of a Sunday School.
He says gloomyly that education will oft lead fellows astray. Sure Mr H- is a fine surgeon and the most expert of man-midwives, but he doubts not from things he says that he is a Deist if not an entire freethinker. (He may not have said so to Lord D-, but has expresst to me that one that had study’d anatomy might have made a better job of creation, for there are improvements might be made.)
Why, 'tis common among his profession, says I. But, Lord D-, do you purpose to come to the R- House tiffin-party? Pray, do not scowl at me so: meseems that 'twould be most entirely sanitive for you to go out and about a little and mingle in company, not at all a matter of self-indulgence. And I daresay you would come back with matter that you might talk of to Lady D- concerning the world outside her lying-in chamber, that would also be exceeding healthfull.
Well - , he says in considering tones, do you put it thus –
Why, then, says I, we shall hope to see you there. Is the weather fine, there is some thought of holding it upon the terrace, for the gardens are showing most exceedingly at present.
I succeed in obtaining his acceptance of the invitation, just as Agnes S- comes into the drawing-room.
We take our leave. In the carriage Agnes S- says that Dora seems a deal better in health but still somewhat mopish.
I say somewhat to the effect that Lady P-'s conversation would make Wellington mopish, 'tis quite the reverse of chearing even does she rehearse it in such hearty tones.
Miss S- covers her mouth with her hand, and then says, indeed 'tis so, cannot be good for poor Dora.
Indeed I think she means kindly, says I.
Sure, says Miss S-, she is exceeding good-natur’d. And then sighs.
But indeed I think she is somewhat distract’d, if not chear’d, by the matter of the drawing-room meeting and being desir’d by Meg to advize upon what she should play, making out cards for the raffle, &C.
The occasion itself is most exceeding successfull: sure there are a deal of ladies that desire see inside R- House, and even tho’ there is a larger room than my own pretty reception chamber to hold it in, 'tis well fill’d.
There is musick from Meg and from Mrs O- B- and her daughters, I read the extracts from Mr Atkins’s letter and further intelligence upon the work of the T-s in New South Wales, there is a most exceeding fine spread from Seraphine’s kitchens, the raffle goes well, and there is a very substantial collection.
I would be a little surpriz’d at the absence of Mrs D- that is the mother of Danvers D-, but has sent a little note to say that Miss R- is brought to bed and she goes be with her in place of her own mother. 'Tis a very kind thought, will also allow her to soothe Danvers D-'s concern that I am sure will be exceeding great.
Lady J- comes up to me and says that she would desire conclave at some time before she sails for the Mediterranean. Why, says I, I am at home to particular friends of a forenoon in the small parlour here, did you care to call. We may be entire private (for I daresay this is about the dear Admiral’s tastes).
She looks considering and says, sure she has a deal on hand at the moment to put matters in order before she departs, might she call the morn of the day His Lordship gives his tiffin-party?
Why, says I, 'tis entire answerable.
So on that morn she comes call upon me, and a footman brings us some of Seraphine’s excellent coffee and some fine biscuits, and I say to her, I have already prevail’d upon Seraphine to provide me with some pots of preserves and pickles and a particular sauce that the Admiral relishes, that she may take with her.
That is exceeding kind, she says, sure I know I am a curious kind of wife but I can at least study upon what will give my lawfull spouse pleasure -
She pauses, and I am like to suppose she thinks upon those pleasures that are lawfull within marriage –
She swallows and puts on a determin’d face and says, she would greatly desire that he did not think that she merely consider’d him as a means to increase -
Why, dear Lady J-, I confide that you have already discover’d that the Admiral is not a fellow that desires merely wifely submission -
There is a little colour in her cheeks as she says, so she discover’d –
- and what delights him is mutual pleasures and equal passion. (For does she wonder does the dear Admiral have any special pleasure, sure I have never found it out, beyond this quite admirable taste in amorous proceedings.)
O, she says, with an increas’d blush and the beginnings of a smile, sure I think I can come at that, tho’ 'tis a thing I never suppos’d I should like.
I am very pleas’d to hear it, says I.
She gives herself a little shake, and says, she purposes call at the estate on her way to Portsmouth, and dares say I know that Mr and Mrs de C- go make a visit there, with the intention that Mrs de C- may lye in in those healthfull surroundings.
Indeed, says I, Phoebe disclos’d this plan to me, a most excellent thing, and 'tis no great distance, she may readyly summon Mrs Black when the time comes. 'Tis exceeding kind in the S-s to invite ‘em.
Oh, dear Martha will cry that ’tis little enough after Mrs de C-'s most exemplary generosity last year.
O, says I, I am entire delight’d that they find the place so agreeable and that it answers for 'em so exceedingly, but sure one misses their company in Town.
But, I go on, I confide that we have been talking long enough that the tiffin-party must be gathering. I will, I continue, get one of the footmen to put this parcel in your carriage against your departure.
She stands and says, she will go join the company, and is quite infinite oblig’d to you, Lady B-, takes my hands and kisses me upon the cheek.
I am already dresst in the gown Docket had pickt out as suit’d to the occasion – 'tis quite warm enough the day for me to wear a fine muslin – but I go upstairs to my dressing-room so that she may fasten my fine pearls around my neck and secure a very pretty hat upon my head.
'Tis indeed a fine enough day that the party may take place upon the terrace of the west wing, that provides such a fine vista over the gardens.
There is already a deal of company arriv’d, and a fine table is spread as well as footmen going about with platters of currie-puffs and savoury fritters, cooling drinks, &C.
I see Sir B- W- talking to Lord D-, I daresay rallying him by discoursing of the joys of fatherhood.
I also see that the Marquess and Marchioness of O- are of the company, and I go up to greet them. Lady O-, as we must now style her, is looking quite entire radiant and makes most effusive towards me, desires that I will go visit 'em at D- Chase during the summer, they are in hopes to have an entire family party there. The Marquess looks on exceeding fond.
He then looks round and says, is that not S-, of the Bengal service? I heard he was come to Town along with his serpents -
Serpents? Says Lady O- with a frown, looking around as if they may be sliding about our feet.
O, says the Marquess, I do not suppose he brings his pets into company, but is a fellow that has took advantage of being in a place where there are a deal of 'em, to study snakes, that he declares have a very ill reputation that he doubts is deserv’d, are meek shy creatures that will hasten away if disturb’d, only bite when provokt, 'tis entire a matter of knowing how to deal with 'em.
So, says I, I have heard those with vicious dogs declare that they are quite the best of creatures, loyal, devot’d, will only attack evil-doers; one must suppose that they have some unusual ability at sniffing out evil in the most benign of hearts, for 'twill appear to any but their masters that they attack quite willy-nilly.
The Marquess laughs and says, indeed he is somewhat of the same opinion himself, and that he confides that snakes are touchy creatures that are like those fellows that are always seeing some insult.
I say that I am like to think 'twas after he had left Town that Josh F- acquir’d a mongoose -
I look about and observe that that exceeding curious creature has come see what is this ado.
Josh comes running out to pick it up and take it away.
The Marquess laughs and says doubtless it hears the discourse of snakes and hop’d to join battle.