Next morn I am having a nice little breakfast when comes Hector to say there is come excellent news from Hampshire that Phoebe has bore a fine little girl, mother and babe do well; and they purpose to name her Lucile.
Why, says I, 'tis indeed excellent news, and I purpose go spend a few nights with the S-s there on my way to the house-party at Q-, 'twill be entire delightfull.
'Tis very agreeable news, and yet, after the very sudden tragedy with Camille, there is mayhap just a little shadow over it.
I go to my desk to be about my correspondence: 'tis entirely agreeable when is deliver’d by my diplomatick route a good fat letter from Marcello. He is most extreme delight’d to hear that Reynaldo is bound for Boston, for the fellow is the kind that would go light his cigar in a powder-store and 'tis safest to the Cause to have him a good way from the Two Sicilies but rousing hearts towards the Cause in the Americas.
Sure Marcello is become a surprizing sober fellow. He goes on to say he has had the most pleasing letters from Sir C- F-, that has advanc’d his interest with a number of savants both in England and in various continental parts that are concern’d in agarian improvements. 'Tis an excellent matter in itself, but he also takes the thought that does it become known that that he is engag’d upon this enterprize, ‘twill serve like unto his caro Marchese’s reputation for an interest in antiquity, that provid'd a fine cover for visitors upon other business.
The printing goes exceeding well: 'tis mostly in the hands of caro Alf, but Marcello himself is still oblig’d to undertake a deal of proof-reading, even tho’ Alf becomes entire fluent in the local tongue. Perchance il bello scozzese may know are there any new works in England that would repay translation?
There is some questioning in their local circles whether the Contessa purposes return, now that Reynaldo is safe dispatcht to the New World, and some concern that she may go stay in England. She is much misst.
Sure this is all excellent news, tho’ I feel a little melancholy to think that the dear Contessa may be returning to her native soil. But sure, there is so much good she may do there for the Cause, that I should not desire the pleasure of her company in Town prolong’d.
I make some notes in my little memorandum book as to matters I must be about. Sure 'tis near time I must open another little memorandum book.
I then sigh and return to my philanthropick correspondence with emotions that are, alas, far from charitable.
But I feel that I have got matters well under hand when I look up from my desk and stretch myself and look at the inky fingers that Docket will go chide upon.
'Twill do me a deal of good to go ride in the Park on my lovely Jezebel.
Tho’ 'tis the fashionable hour, there is already less company about. I see Mrs O’C- walking with her son, and go over to greet 'em. I dismount, and offer that Master O’C- might care to give Jezebel this apple I have about me? He looks entire delight’d – sure it improves his looks – and is about the matter, making much of my Jezzie-girl.
Mrs O’C- looks doating at him and says, he is so eager for our jaunt to Margate! Sure he loves it so much I can put up with the company - Mr N- a-prosing on, and Mrs N-, I daresay, sneaking off to write to Mr J- - I hear they go play in Harrogate?
Indeed, says I, Miss A-'s short season there last year creat’d a deal of interest, and 'tis a deal less tedious than touring.
And there is naught to keep Miss A- in Town, says Mrs O’C- with a smile.
I say, indeed, becomes quite a regular matter for Lady J- to go be a dutyfull wife in the Mediterranean.
Mrs O’C- laughs somewhat immoderate and says, 'twas shocking enough to hear that Lady J- was marry’d – sure 'twould have been amuzing to hear her promise to obey - but 'tis hard to imagine her as a wife.
I say I daresay stranger matters have come to pass. I ask after Mr P- - is he writing anything at present?
She sighs and says he tries his hand at a Gothick tale: 'twill, she dares say, keep him occupy’d during the summer even if comes to naught.
She calls to her son and says they must be about going home.
I mount once more and look about me to see are there any I know, or any that desire know me.
'Tis with great pleasure I see Agnes S- riding with her groom, and go greet her.
I remark that I had suppos’d they would already have gone down to Lord P-'s place in Shropshire, and she says, very shortly. O, she says with a sigh, 'twill be exceeding dull, I confide –
She looks about a little and says, before they go, would very much like to convoke with you, Lady B-, there are a couple of little matters –
Why, says I, let us go take tea at my house. I am like to suppose that Davies will find it agreeable to have some discourse with Ajax, and I daresay Euphemia can supply a mug of ale or so for him.
Because 'tis such a hot day, I ask whether she would care for a cooling sherbert rather than tea.
O, yes, she says.
Comes Celeste with our sherbert, and also bowls of strawberries and some cream.
O, this is quite delightfull, says Agnes S-, setting to with relish.
When we are somewhat refresht, I ask how matters go with her.
Oh, she says with a little blush, the most amuzing thing lately happen’d. Mr L-, that excellent learn’d fellow, came call, askt very civil after Dora and the babe, entire proper, but said that he was pleas’d to encounter me alone.
'Tis some effort not to raise my eyebrows at this.
And he said he had not’d my very fine taste for poetry, and dar’d say I was not in a position to build up my own library, and though I might care for this book of poems, that he had lately read himself and thought out of the common fine stuff –
- and, o, she goes on with a little stifl’d laugh, ‘twas The Vengeful Spectre and other poems by A. M..
I am surpriz’d into a laugh myself, and say, and did you disclose your authorship?
Her hand goes over her mouth – sure I thought she was getting out of that habit – and says, oh no, sure I should have quite dy’d of embarrassment after he had been so kind about the work. And indeed, she continues, a fellow may admire a work of poetry, but might feel different about a poetess did she reveal herself.
But I think she looks a little wistfull. 'Tis also pleasing, she says in more sober tones, does a fellow make pleasant to me even does he, as I suppose he must, consider me some dependent relative. But sure I suppose it to be that he manifests a truly Christian nature and does not judge by worldly measures, and therefore will show kind to all.
(I am like to suppose that 'tis rather more personal than she thinks, but I hesitate to remark upon it for fear of making her self-conscious.)
He is an excellent fellow, says I. Sure matters with the Marquess of O- have been such that I have not yet felt it the proper time to open the matter of any good living he may have at his disposal, but I shall most certain find occasion to convoke with him on the matter when I visit D- Chase, is he not at Q-.
Agnes S- sighs. You are going to their party at D- Chase? They invit’d me but I could see that Dora, and indeed Lord D-, did not like the prospect, so I made some polite excuse. But indeed, I confide 'twill be the most charming affair.
Oh, entirely, says I. I could see no objection whatsoever, is it that Lord D- takes some fret about their theologickal soundness?
She gives a little smile and says, was that a concern, sure I doubt we should ever go anywhere, even to Lord P-'s – for sure, was there not some Egyptian goddess depict’d as a cow, I was lately at a meeting of the antiquarians when there was some mention of the matter, besides the great reverence in which one is told the Hindoos hold 'em? - and one is like to suppose that he would find such a deity very congenial. No, 'tis not so much Lord D-, that has come round to considering that the M- children follow’d their consciences in a most praiseworthy fashion in dissociating themselves from the Earl’s shocking behaviour, tho’ had been muttering somewhat about the runaway match beforehand.
She sighs, and says, no, 'tis Dora, shows very much inclin’d to cling to me and beg me not to leave her. I had been like to suppose that perchance once the child was born she would show less fancyfull and not go fret so much at my absence. And indeed, I think she is less worry’d that I may be abduct’d do I go to the shops or to ride in the Park, but does not want me to be out of the household.
She frowns and says, I think she found childbirth a great shock, and altho’ she comes about into restor’d health of the body, her spirits are shaken considerable.
I say somewhat that I daresay time will operate its healing powers (tho’ I find this worrysome intelligence), and mention Susannah’s melancholick state after the birth of Sukey, that is now quite entire recover’d from.
Agnes S- says, very like. But, she says, 'tis most agreeable to sit here and talk matters over, but sure she should be returning to P- House – where there will be a deal of work in hand over the summer, following your advice on furbishment.