'Tis very agreeable to be back in my own place, and to see and hear how well matters get on within the household, and to have a nice little supper brought to me by Celeste, with a sanitive glass of madeira to it, and to sleep in my own bed.
I have some little convockation with Dorcas about matters of housekeeping, and she says that Nell and Polly come along very well in taking hold of good practices. She also says that she and Prue continue make regular visits to Covent Garden, and Mrs Mutton and her enterprize go on exceeding well, and they have quite a little congregation there. And one has gone put up the money to rent a little shop for Mrs Binns to be about her hats, and she confides that one may see the workings of grace within her.
(Why, thinks I, I confide that is the work of that excellent young fellow Lord U-, that was so shockt at his father’s miserly proceedings in the matter.)
And in the morn I am woke by Sophy with my chocolate, and put on my wrapper and go take a nice little breakfast in my parlour, and 'tis quite entire the pleasantest thing.
And when I have dresst suit’d to the morning, I say that I will go be in my library.
Hector says, indeed, Your Ladyship, and here is come a deal of letters and invitations &C.
La, says I, I will go deal with 'em there, tho’ had hop’d to spend a little time arranging my books.
Sure 'tis gratifying that, hardly am I return’d to Town, but I am besieg’d with requests to do this or that and invit’d to such and such an occasion; yet I might have relisht a little time before I was whirl’d into the frenzie of the Season.
So I am considering over what I should desire attend, and matters where I might perchance return a civil refusal, when Hector comes and says, there are two ladies come wondering if you might be receiving company.
That, says I, depends most entirely upon what ladies they are.
Hector smiles a little and says, 'tis Mrs N- and Miss A-.
Why, says I, you may send 'em up here at once, and desire coffee, and any buns or such that Euphemia may have upon hand: but she is to send Celeste and not be about carrying trays and running up and down stairs herself.
Hector sighs a little and says, perchance does My Ladyship give the order she will obey, and goes.
A very little while later he shows in to my fine library my dear old friends, who come up and kiss me and exclaim upon how well I look –
See, says Mrs N-, turning to Miss A-, I told you that she was not fallen into a consumption and come home to dye, has been entirely set up by that Mediterranean sun that you say Lady J- speaks so well of –
- indeed, she goes on, turning back to me, Mr H- was poo-pooing the notion that you were in the least out of health to Mr N-; said he thought you lookt a little troubl’d in spirits afore you went away, thought it might be some difficulty to do with your property in those parts. Felt himself entire confirm’d in his hypothesis when Mr MacD- went out to join you.
Why, says I, indeed there were a number of matters to do with the late Marquess’s property out there, but a deal of the reason for my departure was the pleasure of the Contessa’s company, that I fear we may not see again in Town.
Alas, says Mrs N-, did she not give quite the finest ridotti?
Miss A- has been looking about my library and my books and goes crying out upon some fine volumes I have of works of renown’d dramatists.
But you and Mr N- are entire well? and you, dear rogue, how do you?
I am assur’d that Mr N- is in excellent fine condition, that Mr J- is likewise, and that matters at the theatre get on – Miss A- does not risk fate by saying they go well, but offers that they are not as bad as might be.
Comes Celeste with coffee and what I observe to be fine scones quite hot from the oven.
But, says Miss A-, you may not have heard yet, having only just return’d to Town, Lady J- is in happy anticipation of a pledge; and she goes about very carefull in the matter after the unhappy business last time, and will rest very conscientious, and not go rattling up and down to Hampshire but have Mr S- come call upon her with reports –
You will tell me next she has give up brangling with the orphanage ladies!
Alas, says Miss A- with somewhat of a pout, even does one urge that cannot be good for her, cannot bring herself to abandon the orphanage. But she brings on that pretty little dumpling Lady D- as her deputy in the matter, will send her to their meetings with instructions, seems as if answers.
I confide that you knew all about this, says Mrs N- with a meaningfull look, but Lady D-'s sister, that was a prize heiress upon the marriage market, has gone marry a parson - but 'tis give out that he is a fellow of great learning and has a deal of interest and will shortly go in to a very fine living in the Marquess of O-'s disposal.
Why, says I, I think you may have met him, was about a little among our circle, would come up from his Surrey parish to attend meetings of learn’d fellows &C.
And Miss R- still does well, and her babe? I go on.
Miss A- laughs somewhat immoderate and says, she may not have marry’d her devot’d fop Danvers D-, but they go live a most regular life: he has took more extensive lodgings, his mama, that entirely doats upon the child, comes live with 'em, Mr W- continues part of the household, little Puggsiekins goes brangle somewhat with his progenitor, but otherwise 'tis quite the conversation piece of domestick harmony.
I laugh myself.
But my dear! cries Mrs N-, I daresay you were away when this on-dit first start’d, that that sad dull fellow Lord K- goes pay his addresses to Mrs D- K-, she goes about now a little in Society but conducts herself very quiet and well-behav’d – tho’ I daresay that does little enough against the gossip upon her for matters that came about during her marriage. Is still companion to the dreadfull crocodile, that one supposes thinks any fine match the widow K- makes will redound to her own credit so makes more amiable in the matter than one might anticipate. Mrs D- K- must feel herself entire 'twixt Scylla and Charybdis, with the prospect of Lady T- as mother-in-law. She goes show civil and in good ton, does not go about to deliver the cut, 'tis quite remarkable, but sure one would be quite terrify’d.
I say that she has want’d to get Lord K- marry’d again these several years and perchance grows desperate, and is glad that at last his whimsickal fancy lights upon any at all.
Mrs N- sniggers and says, well, he is getting his gratification without he takes any lady to church to have and to hold, &C. Sure Mrs O'C- must do very well out of him.
I can see her then go consider upon current on-dits, and say, Lady Z- does not go wear the willow for her depart’d Neapolitan cavalier servente - is seen much in the company of Mr Edward M-.
Why, says I, I was like to think Sir H- display’d excellent ton in the matter of Reynaldo di S-: for is a fellow with a deal of business upon his hands, cannot take his wife about as she might desire, there can be no harm does some young fellow go squire her around and sigh upon her a little.
Hmmm, says Mrs N-, one hears that matters are give out thus in Italy and 'tis an understood thing, but I am not sure 'tis a custom fully apprehend’d by fellows of our nation.
But, she says, she dares say her own cavalier servente is at the theatre, wondering where she can be, and offers to Miss A- that they may go along together.
Miss A- says that she will be along in a little while, since 'tis not yet time that rehearsal was call’d, but would desire enjoy a little further conversation with Lady B-, that has not been seen in these parts for so very long.
My dear! says I, one would think I had journey’d to the antipodes, circumnavigat’d the great southern continent, and then made the voyage back, rather than past a few months at Naples.
But, o! cries Miss A-, it indeed felt like an age.
Mrs N- laughs and says she will be getting along (I daresay there is some fine adulterous f-----g in a dressing-room in her immediate future).
Miss A- says, that their revival of The Gypsy’s Curse did so well in Harrogate that they revive it in Town; but, dear Lady B-, I wisht open to you, do you know whether the dramatist goes write anything else, whether it be from a novel or some original play like unto A Husband’s Malignity? Mr P- did offer a play out of The Sorceress but 'twas sorry stuff – would have requir’d a deal of work – Mr J- turn’d it down and Mr P- goes take a pet.
Why, says I, I have been out of my wont’d circles but I will go ask about does any know aught in the matter (for indeed, during my travels I complet’d a stage version of The Antiquarian’s Daughter and embarkt upon an entire original play in which some may recognize certain late scandals).
She also looks at my volumes of plays and says, sure there are some excellent fine parts in those old plays, but she confides that there is also a deal of coarseness unsuit’d to modern taste.
'Tis so, says I, and am not sure could readyly be cut without deleterious effect.
She sighs, and then says, was a further matter she desir’d open to me, but she sees it comes on towards the time for rehearsal, must away.
This leaves me in a little perturbation.