After my tedious journeying, however, I do not feel mov’d to rise betimes for Lord D-'s household prayers, but instead sleep in a little, and then desire Sophy to array me in my riding habit so that I may take a little agreeable horseback exercize.
Red Rogue is still to be found in the stables, and Ajax warrants him as still a sweet-temper’d creature and a smooth ride. 'Tis exceeding pleasant to ride out into the park, and to be alone for a little with my own thoughts,
Sure, while I am still in considerable perturbation over the matter of Sir R- O-, there is at present nothing I may do but fret. While I daresay there is enough upon hand here at C- Castle to provide a deal of distraction to my mind.
After a very fine canter, I bring Red Rogue back to a more sober pace to return to the stables. Sure has give me a very fine appetite, but 'tis not Liberty Hall here and I had better go change into some more proper morning dress afore I go breakfast.
When I go to my chamber I find a footman lingering about the door flirting with Sophy, that shows by no means shy in the matter.
O, Your Ladyship, says she, there is a note from Lord O-, that would like a reply.
I raise my eyebrows but take the note. Lord O- writes that he apprehends that Lord T- goes arrange a shoot for the gentlemen of the party, but 'twill not begin until the morrow. He takes the thought, therefore, that today might be a suitable time to conclave upon his book.
Why, thinks I, provid’d it does not look particular for us to be closet’d on the matter – and sure he shows so exceeding doating to Nan there could be no adverse comment – 'twill be answerable, and I therefore indite a little note conveying that intelligence.
The footman takes his leave.
Why, Sophy, says I as we go within, are you about having followers?
She giggles, and says, they are about having a servants’ ball one e’en, sure I told him that I could make no promises of dances without I askt Her Ladyship might I go.
La, says I, sure I can see no harm to the matter, especial do you convey your hat-pin with you against any saucyness: tho’ I do not know whether such an occasion would accord with Docket’s notions or Hector’s opinions on good practices.
O, thank you, Your Ladyship!
Once I am dresst more suit’d to the time o’day I go down to breakfast. As I cross the hall, I look at the various paintings that are on the walls. There is one that must be Lord K-'s late wife – I go look more closely and see that 'tis Sir Z- R-'s handywork. She was very much in the same style of looks as Lady Rosamund: that fine straight fair hair, the pallor, the profile that speaks of many generations of aristocratick descent. Perchance Lady P- takes the thought that 'tis in Lady Rosamund’s favour. But I mind that Mrs D- K- is in a very different style. I also mind that, altho’ 'tis give out that 'twas his great feeling for his late wife that has led Lord K- to be so apathetick in the pursuit of a second match, I know not whether 'twas some great romance or whether the marriage was made up 'twixt families.
I go into the dining-room and find that Lord and Lady O-, with Lady Emily and Lord U- and Agnes S- are already sat there. Lord U- leaps up to offer to fetch me somewhat from the sideboard.
What, says I, were none of you about a fine morning ride? Perchance you were at the prayer-meeting?
Agnes S- says she thought it proper to go the morn – Dora does not go, makes the excuse that she must be feeding little Arthur – but does not purpose to do so every day. And thinks she will go ride a little after breakfast, do you come along, Nan? Em?
Lady Emily looks about the dining-room and says, mayhap. 'Tis so unlike her to be so indifferent in the matter that I wonder might she be ill. Nan looks at her with somewhat of sisterly exasperation. O, Em, she says.
Once I have breakfast’d and Em has been somewhat reluctant prevail’d upon to join her sister and Agnes S- for a ride, Lord U- says that Lord D- has said there is fine fishing in the stream and purposes go talk to him on the matter, and begs to take his leave.
Why, says I to Lord O-, is this not a fine occasion for us to go discourse upon your book? I will go send for my parasol and we may walk about the grounds – yesterday the lime-tree avenue seem’d quite entire desert’d.
As we walk along, my arm thro’ his, he sighs and says sure he never expect’d to find himself head of a household with all these responsibilities, or at least, not yet and for some years, and yet here he is. They are entire good young people, but are nigh on as much strangers to Society as he is, and also inclin’d to look to him for guidance, now that their father is depart’d for Washington, tho’ he gave very little but prohibitions. It troubles him somewhat that they may go commit some solecism and find themselves barr’d and blackball’d.
I daresay, says I, I should say fie to your worries, but indeed, I think you have some cause. Their aunt that is now in Bombay was a poor guide to the manners of the present day, and of course Lady N-'s condition has left her somewhat out of society. Lord U- is fortunate that he has such a fine godfather that takes an interest in him: but again, tho' Sir C- F- is an excellent fellow he lives somewhat eremitickal as a country squire.
'Tis a great relief to see Geoff show such an inclination to take up the law; but Eddy does not yet show any leaning to any particular course –
(I confide that 'twould be imprudent of me to mention Sir C- F-'s thoughts upon the matter has he not yet open’d them himself.)
But indeed, I did not intend complain to you upon these little family worries –
- why, is there any advice or guidance I may give, you may entirely call upon me. But Lady O- and her sister are quite part of the very good set about Her Grace of M- -
- Oh, my dear Hippolyta takes the greatest admiration for the Duchess! Sure she is an excellent young woman – but indeed, I meant to solicit your criticisms upon my first essays at writing up my travels.
I laugh and say, you should not expect the stringent criticism of Aristarchus from me, I daresay he would say you should go lesson yourself with Sir Walter Raleigh or some such, you are dealing with a common reader and as one I find the parts I have read exceeding answerable. There are some little matters that might improve the narrative but 'tis very little. I show’d the pieces to two young fellows that were most impresst and now desire go to Brazil
Indeed, says I, after I have been to this small party at Lord G-'s, I purpose return to Town for a few days to see how matters go about with the work on my house, and I might take the opportunity to convey your essays to Mr L- for his paper.
That would be most exceeding kind, Your Ladyship. Gives me a deal of confidence that you think I have hit the right note at last.
O, entirely, says I.
We return to the house. I am in some distaste at the thought of taking up my embroidery, and then mind me that surely there could be no objection did Lady B- occupy herself in the drawing-room with beginning upon writing a philanthropick pamphlet for the T-s’ fine work in the antipodes, drawing upon the very usefull matter in the letter I late had from Abby.
So I take my traveling desk into the drawing-room, where indeed some several of the company are sat exchanging gossip, embroidering, playing spillikins &C. We make civil to one another and I chuse a seat where I may not be suppos’d to be cutting myself off from the company, but gives me a little seclusion for my task.
I am about writing up the excellent effect of the convicts being able to have letters writ to send to their lov’d ones, when comes up to me Lady Rosamund, all pretty smiles, saying, O, Lady B-, would you be so gracious as to write a little something in my album?
Why, thinks I, here’s a different tune. Perchance Em has gone cry me up to her, and she sees that 'tis of great utility to be in favour with Lady B-?
But I smile, and take her album, and ponder a little over what I might write, and in due course decide upon that sonnet of the Bard Oh, how much more does beauty beauteous seem, by that sweet ornament which truth doth give, write it out, sand it, and hand it back to the young lady.
She thanks me most exceeding effusive, and then, almost kneeling beside my chair, goes ask whether there is any chance that Lady B- will be delighting the company with one of her fam’d readings?
Looks up Mrs L- J-, that has been giving Lady D- the benefits of her own experience upon the matters of babies and wind, and says, sure, Lady B-, you will not deny us? 'Twould be most exceeding agreeable.
Why, says I, I would not be one of those that goes inflict herself upon the company, but am I solicit’d, why, 'twould be entire churlish to refuse. Mayhap this e’en after dinner, when I shall have had time to look over my Shakspeare and consider upon what I might read.
Lady Rosamund makes quite ecstatick squealings of joy, sure one might suppose I was Mrs Siddons that had offer’d to display her very fine effects in the Scottish play to the assembl’d company.
Comes in Lady Emily, still in her riding habit, and seeing Lady Rosamund, gazes upon her quite like unto her brother Geoffrey upon Sandy.