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.