Indeed Bess and Meg go quite entire personate actors in the green room afore a first night, altho’ at least we have no swearing in Welsh and neither goes puke as 'tis give out Mr W- will do. I am oblig’d to go be very soothing to 'em and to assure 'em that 'twill be all right upon the night and similar saws, that a bad dress rehearsal is as 'twere a libation to the dramatick muses, &C&C.
And indeed the toy theatre performance goes very fine, they entire have the knack of the matter by now, and all looks very fine with the newly furbisht wardrobe - Sophy is very taken indeed with the toy theatre, says that she thought herself most entire indulg’d when give a tuppence-colour’d one in card when a child.
But comes the time when I must depart, 'tis entire sorrowfull and worrysome, but sure I cannot go cut my purpos’d visit to C- Castle. My darlings make a deal of the matter, and say they fear I will go be marry’d to Lord K-, for 'tis quite remarkt upon how much Lady T- smiles upon me –
Fiddlesticks, says I, have said somewhat to her that I confide has gone disincline her to the notion; for one must suppose that she desires to see heirs to their titles. But sure I could not fancy to marry Lord K-.
O, says Eliza, and who could you fancy to marry?
Why, says I, most jealous of wild girls, since there will be no parson concedes to unit a plurality of spouses, none at all. O, perchance may yet come to it that might be a prudent matter to go wed Milord, but I confide that we should all understand one another very well in such circumstance.
We are all a little quiet for a moment, for we feel that a shadow hangs over us and our good friends.
But indeed, says I, in the matter of Lord K- there is metal more attractive I am given to suppose: but, my darlings, the secret is not all mine to disclose, and the matter may come to naught.
Leaving is indeed a mournfull matter with my sweet infant bluestocking clinging at my skirts to hold me from mounting to my carriage and the girls complaining very vociferous that 'twill be entirely dull do I go.
'Tis also somewhat of a tiresome journey I undertake to Lincolnshire and requires that I pass two nights at inns that are not entirely what I should like (perchance I too grow spoilt with fine life). But Sophy, that was so shy when she first came, becomes somewhat chattersome, now she is not under Docket’s eye, and upon my asking her about her toy theatre conveys to me a deal of reminiscence about her childhood, and about her Cousin Maurice, that made such fine dresses for their dolls, and would dress up as a girl, 'twas most exceeding amuzing and made a very pretty one. (But I do not think 'tis with him as 'tis with Docket. 'Tis perchance more of the like with Mr W-, that 'tis give out will, when in good discreet company, as it might be at that certain club, dress up as a woman and perform most entertaining.)
At length we are arriv’d at C- Castle, and we are shown to my chamber, and hot water is ready there, and I go wash off the dust of the roads while Sophy goes unpack and furbish up one of my good afternoon muslins so that I may change, and we consider upon hats.
But then comes knock upon the door a footman with a note from Lady T- that she would greatly desire me to come take tea with her in her small parlour. I send word back that I shall come as soon as I have chang’d.
My muslin will entirely do, I confide, with a pretty set of corals that I have had these many years, and a suitable cap.
Lady T- is alone in what I surmize is her private sanctum, and in a state of unwont’d agitation. A footman brings tea and she desires me to be so good as to pour.
She sighs and says, dear Lady B-, I have quite long’d to see you and to take counsel of you, I have had the most appalling intelligence.
(I confide I know what 'tis, but will keep silent, in case 'tis somewhat else, so that I do not let the cat out of the bag.)
Really, dear Lady T-? 'Tis not some matter of your health, I hope? or Lord T-'s?
She groans and says, ‘twere only that! No, 'tis K-, that has come to me and says has made an offer to that creature Mrs D- K- - and her mourning year not yet up, is’t not shocking?
But Lady T-, what did the lady say to his suit?
Why, at least she has not give him a definite yes, but he thinks she looks upon him with some favour.
('Tis indeed what I deduce from her letter to me.)
I sip my tea and consider. At length I say, Sure the late Mr D- K-, that was no loss to society at large, was quite one of the worst of husbands. Sir B- W-, that may declare that he is not the cleverest of fellows, but has a deal of insight and judgement, has expresst to me the opinion that any faults in her may be consider’d similar to those of a dog that has had a cruel master, or a horse that has been abus’d, that might be remedy’d by kind treatment.
Lady T- sighs and says, sure one would like to think that a good husband might have as benign an influence over his wife’s character as a bad one had an evil, yet she is not one of those that supposes that a husband may entirely mould a wife –
Indeed, says I, gentlemen might like to think they may do so, but 'tis somewhat of a delusion.
She puts down her cup somewhat forcefull with a considerable chink, and says, it may be so that having a husband that is not a scoundrel may improve a lady’s character, but while she hopes she is in all charity towards the prospect that Mrs D- K- may come to some happyer and reform’d condition – indeed one must observe that she has conduct’d herself entire meek towards the dread – towards Dowager Lady W-, 'tis a good sign - but the scandal that attaches to her, that she can only suppose poor K- has never heard, because he is not one that goes attend to gossip about the clubs, gives her quite the greatest concern. Sure 'twould make him an entire laughing-stock to marry one that is point’d at as she is.
(I am a little surpriz’d to discover that Lady T- has by some means become appriz’d of the manner in which Mrs D- K- was oblig’d to render payment for her husband’s debts of honour.)
I say merely that I have heard somewhat of the matter.
But dear Lady B-, what am I to do?
Why, says I, Lord K- is of age, a widower that may be suppos’d to know his own mind –
Do you think, says Lady T- in tones of desperation, that did one pay the lady –
Sure, says I, I confide she is in somewhat penurious condition, tho’ not entire destitute, and certainly would find money exceeding welcome. But, I go on, I am like to suppose that altho’ his worldly goods must constitute something of a motive to accept Lord K-'s suit, she must also be very prepossesst by the prospect of the security offer’d by such a match, and, I daresay, the thought of a husband that is quite the opposite to her late spouse, that is, the merits of Lord K-'s character.
I am also like to suppose, I continue, that did Lord K- ever discover that you had brib’d her 'twould come to a very unhappy breach within the family.
Lady T- puts her head in her hands and says, she confides that 'twould. Also, one must worry that she would not keep to the bargain, or would go demand moreon threat of revelation –
Entirely so, says I. No, I go on, I am in some mind you should go entirely contrary, and make as if you are inclin’d to welcome the prospect –
Why, says I, 'tis give out that Lord K- has until now shown no inclination to remarry and beget heirs, so that he is mov’d to do so must be a good sign. May be that he has finally come about to cease to mourn, and Mrs D- K- is but the first lady that his fancy has happen’d to light upon. Do you show not entire ill-dispos’d, 'twill prevent him setting up in a stubborn opposition that might lead to precipitate action, and leave some room for longer consideration over whether ‘tis a well-adviz’d match.
Lady T- looks at me and says, o, I see where you lead. Do we go show hospitable – invite her into company &C, sure 'twould not be so very improper for there are family connexions tho’ considerable distant – he will be able observe how she conducts herself in society.
Entirely so, says I. For a fellow may find a lady that has been widow’d of a notoriously bad husband, and is oblig’d go be a companion to the croc – to Dowager Lady W- - a figure quite of romantick pathos, but 'twould be quite another matter to see her in the circles in which he is accustom’d to move.
Why, says Lady T-, Lady B-, sure I am astonisht that you do not write plays or perchance novels, for that is a stratagem that might appear exceeding telling upon the stage.
La, says I, I was brought up in the theatre and educat’d upon plays, but sure I would be in some hesitation about undertaking such a matter myself.
Lady T- smiles and says, she has notic’d how very telling the pamphlets I indite for my causes are, and that in philanthropick circles ladies will go sigh for Lady B-'s hand upon their own pamphlets, so she confides that I might write a play as good as any of the stuff one sees upon the stage.
I declare that she entire flatters me.