When Sophy dresses me for dinner, she says that there will be a fine tea-drinking with Copping tomorrow and mayhap she can contrive to discover the matter I spoke of.
Why, Sophy, says I, I hope you may, and I am sure you have watcht Docket about the matter oft enough to know that one must come at matters roundabout and not by direct interrogation.
Sure, says Sophy, one should not go about like unto a Bow Street Runner.
And even they, says I, may be oblig’d to go about indirect in their investigations.
Sophy says, indeed I hear that Mr Johnson tells very fine tales of matters he has been about, sure I should like to hear 'em. (I mind that Docket will be about standing upon rank and not go sitting in the kitchen of an e’en or over elevens, so I confide that she will not be letting Sophy attend these household convockations either.) But what a very agreeable fellow he is, sure I thought I should quite dye of fright did a Runner come question me, but he was entire civil.
Why, says I, I think he greatly approv’d the good sensible clear way you answer’d his questions, had a fine apprehension of where you had been and what had took place, 'twas most material usefull.
Sure 'tis nigh on impossible to tell does Sophy blush, but she looks pleas’d. I wonder does she take a girlish liking towards Matt Johnson.
I find that I am to be took in to dinner by Lord D-. Sure there is a deal that I should wish to discourse of with him but I confide they are not matters for the dinner table, and doubtless I shall be oblig’d to hear a deal about theologickal errours.
He shows civil enough to enquire whether I have lately heard from the antipodes - alas, no, says I, takes a deal of time for any communication to come from those parts – and also concerning the optickal dispensary, to which I say that we are in great hopes that another may be establisht quite shortly.
He goes on to say that there was one said to him that perchance his megrim attacks were to do with some weakness of sight – knew a fellow that suffer’d the like, went to see an oculist, obtain’d spectacles, and was entire cur’d. He dares say that I must have a deal of acquaintance among oculists?
'Tis so, says I, for there are several give their services to the dispensaries, and is one in particular that Mrs T- consult’d when she was in Town. Also I lately had my housemaid Prue see him, for altho’ she already wears spectacles, was squinting and having the headache, and indeed he prescrib’d different lenses and is entire improv’d. 'Twould sure do no harm did you take your trouble to him.
He is exceeding gratefull for this recommendation, tho’ I fear is about to embark upon a discourse as to whether 'tis in accordance with Biblickal edicts to take advantage of modern developments in matters of opticks, but that the first course is remov’d and we are oblig’d to turn to our other sides.
I find 'tis that amiable fellow Lord G- upon my other side, that notes that I do not wear my rubies - for, since there are none of the company know its history, I wear my diamond and emerald parure with the secret compartment holding a lock of my precious Flora’s hair, that Josiah gave me. Why, says I, they are exceeding fine, but a lady will be spoke upon does she ever wear the same jewels, just as if she ever wore the same dress. One must ring the changes.
He then goes on to say that he hopes that there will be no attacks by savage swans this year (I confide that 'tis a jest I shall hear entire too often over the next days).
When the ladies have withdrawn and tea and ratafia is serv’d in the larger drawing-room, comes up to me Lady G- and makes very civil. We have a little discourse on optickal dispensaries - let us, we say, see how a third one goes afore we start opening 'em up on every street corner in Town, that we daresay some of the ladies would like, but 'tis entire over-ambitious – and then she says, is glad to see me here as has a little matter to open to me.
Say on, says I, but is’t some matter of the orphanage ladies I may go run into hystericks.
She laughs and says, is’t not entire the same with her? no, 'twas a personal matter. She has a god-daughter, one Miss Frances C- - the Honble Miss Frances C- - daughter of her dear friend of girlhood, that marry’d Lord C-, that may be able to trace back his lineage to the Norman Conquest, but is now in somewhat impoverisht state. She purposes give the girl a season or two in Town, in hopes she may make a better match than is like to in their country society. And of course will present her at a drawing-room and ensure she has the entrée at Almacks &C, but would like to provide her with some younger company. And there is, she goes on, that very good set around the Duchess of M- in which you take interest, 'twould be entire ideal might she mingle a little among 'em.
(Why, thinks I, falls out exceedingly.)
Sure, says I, Her Grace of M- is become quite a leader in the younger set, and consider’d in quite excellent ton by some very exacting ladies.
And, says Lady G- with a smile, have been two quite excellent marriages made in her circle and we apprehend that Miss S- is like to marry a clergyman that has a deal of interest and ‘twixt that and her fortune, is like to go far.
(Sure 'tis very little to do with dear Viola that these very excellent matches have come about, but must seem entire auspicious for her circle generally.)
The next morn I confide 'twill look well for me in Lord D-'s eyes do I rise in time to attend the morning prayers he holds.
Indeed I think also reflects well upon him in the eyes of certain of the Evangelickal interest that are of the party, that make more than usual civil to me as we go to breakfast.
I go walk upon the lawn and down to the lake, where the ornamental water-fowl quack and gabble, and ponder upon how I might come about some private converse with Lord D-.
Most happyly breaks in upon these meditations, Lord D- himself, that rows upon the lake in a boat, and offers that I might care join him? We need not, he says, go anywhere near the swans.
Why, says I, that would be delightfull.
So I step into the boat and we set off across the lake in the direction of the little island in the middle, that has a folly, a duck-house in an Oriental style like unto the Pavilion at Brighton. Willows droop into the water. There are a deal of dragon-flies.
We come round to the further side of the island and Lord D- lets the boat drift a little. He says that he apprehends that I have the acquaintance of Mr L-, that makes suit to his sister-in-law - ?
Entire so, says I, an excellent fellow.
Sure, he says, his mother, and Theodora, cry that with her fortune Agnes might make a very fine match indeed, but he is like to be more prepossesst does she seek merit rather than worldly splendours - and while he has some concerns about Mr L-'s leanings in matters of theology and practice, he also apprehends that he is a fine conscientious pastor of souls to his flock, as well as most distinguisht for learning -
'Tis so, says I, and gains interest.
He rows on a little further away from the island towards the further shore, and then rests upon the oars and lets us drift again. I remain silent but with an air of one that is ready to listen, for I think there is some heavy matter he would wish disclose.
O, Lady B-, he says, all give out that your understanding of the heart is quite exceptional – sure I know not what to make of the matter myself. My belov’d Theodora –
He gives somewhat of a groan and then bursts into sobs. He tends to his oars for a moment and then looks up with tears upon his face.
- my dear loving affectionate Theodora that was, sure has entire vanisht. Shows cold and distant, when would be us’d to give pretty manifestations of wifely devotion: will even go cringe away do I approach too near, and will endeavour avoid being alone with me. Sure, he goes on, mopping at his face with a handkerchief, I quite apprehend that in the present circumstance I should show a proper manly restraint in the matter of conjugal embraces - Mr H- warn’d me very particular that 'twas entire deleterious to the female constitution to go be breeding too often and that 'tis an old wives’ tale to suppose that does a lady suckle her own child, 'twill preserve her from conception the while.
(I confide that 'twould not serve to inform Lord D- of the means by which the matter may be avoid’d, alas.)
But indeed, one may demonstrate affection, may one not?
Why, indeed, says I, tho’ I apprehend that there are those fear it may lead on to further embraces.
Lord D- says he hopes he is a fellow can master his carnal urges.
O, says I, I quite confide that you would. (Sure entire the best thing would be for him to communicate his praiseworthy resolution to Lady D-, but does she flinch so from his company, 'twould be hard to contrive.)
I am silent for a little while as he blows his nose and takes up the oars again. Alas, says I, I am in some concern that Lady D- has took against me for favouring her sister’s union to Mr L- - has shown somewhat distant to me of late – but I will see may I contrive to have some discourse with her.
He declares that he would be quite infinite gratefull, and rows us back around the island.
(I daresay all go think he discourses to me of the state of my own soul.)