Feb. 8th, 2017

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

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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