'Twas somewhat of a vain hope to suppose that a little more calm would reign in the household after the theatre excursion had took place. For Polly and Nell have fallen quite in love with Mr J- and will ever be chattering about him, plotting upon further excursions to the theatre &C. But aside from that, no sooner is this much anticipat’d treat over, than the nuptials of Tibby and Titus are upon us. Sure indeed I am not mistress in my own household, for 'twill be entire impossible to undertake anything in the way of a drawing-room meeting until the matter is over.
Dear Viola comes call one morn, and I go show off my fine library to her, at which she declares herself exceeding impresst. Why, she cries, do I not observe the plays of Wycherley, that I had some desire to look into a while ago? and goes take the volume from the shelf.
O, she says, 'tis from the M- library –
I say, very demure, that she will mind that the Old Duke waxt exceeding generous over my not making a fuss when he dispatcht his heir to serve his country in the Diplomatick at Constantinople, and was kind enough to present me with that volume. (I do not go recount how I would read certain scenes to him in bed.)
But, she says, putting the volume by with a longing glance, I did not come here to discourse of the drama of earlyer times – perchance upon some other occasion – 'tis this matter of Tibby’s marriage. Should wish to demonstrate the great esteem in which we hold her, but should not like to cause awkwardness among the gather’d company that come celebrate the couple, and create a constraint.
I go think upon this and say, 'twould look exceeding well did you attend the ceremony, and might hinder the officiating parson from rattling off the service entire by rote as they are wont to do. And then, did you come to the breakfast just long enough to drink a health to the couple, 'twould be a mark of civility.
She smiles and says, she confid’d that dear C- would know what would be in good ton. And perchance send some wine from the M- House cellars?
Entire well, says I. And you find Jennie answers?
O, excellent well! Of course, I shall always be quite especial fond of Tibby and is there any service we may do her or Titus will be extreme happy to do it.
I say 'tis entire understandable, and ask how the rest of her family do.
Why, she says, Biffle is exceeding well, and goes about very busy at this time of year. Essie is learning his letters and numbers alongside Julius at R- House, what an excellent thing it is, what a fine governess is Mrs L-. Cathy is a fine bouncing girl, has made her curtesy in the R- House nursery set. Lady J- minds that she should rest and the auguries are promising, and – she casts down her eyes with a little smile – I am myself in some hopes that –
My dear Viola, says I, that is delightfull to hear. And how does Martha?
Why, a deal better than we fear’d, keeps in good health and of course Jacob is very carefull to ensure she does not overdo. And Sebastian will shortly be going to the Baltic.
Why, says I, I am pleas’d to hear that you all thrive. I saw a little of the Admiral in Naples, and he was in fine spirits.
The dear good fellow, says Viola. O, and while we are in convockation, what is this new freak of Lady Emily’s to go keep house for her brothers? Sure shows a pretty familial spirit, but 'tis somewhat of a new departure.
La, says I, do they not all go become a deal steadyer lately? She sees her elder sister take up her duties as Lady O-, and Lady Louisa attending to her lessons –
Hmm, says Viola, I fear she goes seek distraction from having her feelings wound’d by that minx Lady Rosamund. I daresay, she goes on, there are those consider that an Earl’s daughter must be in exceeding good ton by nature, but I confide that in any of lesser rank her conduct would be deem’d vulgarity. When I think that I was bother’d as to whether Rebecca G- or Julia P- would be up to the mark! – excellent well-conduct’d creatures.
Tho’, she goes on, perchance with Lady Emily 'tis a stratagem so that she may defer the prospect of marriage under guise of family duty. For indeed I do not see her incline to any suitor at present and sure, a young lady should not be oblig’d to marry just so that she may say she was askt and so that people will not go about saying she hangs upon the family’s hands.
For, she goes on, I have been most exceeding fortunate in my matrimonial venture, and when I think what a very foolish young creature I was when first introduc’d into Society, and what irreparable errours I might have made – is’t not quite widely deplor’d that the present Marquess of B-'s wife may not obtain release from a lunatick that endeavour’d commit bigamy and try’d murder her? – sure I thank heaven fasting.
I smile at her. Why, says I, I think the good fortune goes both ways.
She blushes. But, she says, dear C-, I am sure you have a deal of matters upon hand – and have you had opportunity to write any tales? Martha was asking only lately whether there was anything new from your pen.
Indeed, says I, have been about fair-copying for the printer, and meditate upon a new novel. Perchance I may beg opportunity to come look in the M- House Library, for was not one of the former Dukes very not’d for his studies in history?
She declares that I should be entire welcome, and we part with great affection and good feeling.
But indeed, I cannot go about this matter until the wedding be done, for I am not in that calm that favours study tho’ I find myself able to go about fair-copying.
But comes around the day, when Sophy brings my chocolate along with exhortations not to rise just yet, for Celeste will bring me a nice little breakfast upon a tray so I may take it peacefull in bed. I confide that this is entirely to keep me from underfoot, and so that Docket and Sophy may go array Tibby along with Prue and Celeste, that will attend her to the altar, afore they come dress me.
And when I come to be dresst, that is in a fashion that will display my consequence and be a compliment to the couple, without I distract attention from the bride, Docket says, she confides that I should wear my fine cashmere shawl, for strikes cold in churches when 'tis not a full congregation.
'Tis so, says I, as I rub my face against it and think of dear General Y- that gave it me.
But in due course I set off for the church, and smile a little as I wonder has any gone convey advice upon the wedding night to Tibby or Titus, that I confide are no novices in the business of conjugal embraces. Euphemia I daresay is well-appriz’d of how matters stand but I am not so certain about Hector.
Come we to the church, and outside is one of the M- House carriages, that Viola has plac’d at Tibby’s disposal for the occasion.
And I go into the church, and go sit beside Viola, and look about me. Jennie sits with Docket and Sophy and Euphemia has conced’d leave the kitchen under Seraphine’s hand so she may come see Tibby wed, and there are some of Tibby’s family, tho’ will be more at the breakfast. Titus stands flankt by Hector, that is his best man, looking far more nervous than I have ever observ’d him about performing.
There is a little pause, and then comes Tibby, that might be the Queen of Sheba in her progress.
And observing that there are persons of quality in the assembl’d congregation, the parson goes perform the service in a fine reverent fashion, 'tis very pleasing.
Tho’ I am brought to muse upon the fine mutual aid and comfort that may be found between those that have not been to church and had the words said over 'em, and, indeed, may not go to church and take those vows however much they might desire to. And that there are those that have made those vows for better or for worse &C and do not adhere to 'em, or only very grudging (I consider upon poor Hester’s fate marry’d to Lord N-). And that altho’ the husband declares with all my worldly goods I thee endow, unless a lady has very prudent advizers and lawyers, he may go make free with her worldly goods and leave her entire destitute (like that scoundrel Mr O’C-).
But sure I have no doubts about the sincerity with which Titus and Tibby take the vows: and, I think no harm and a deal of benefit that they have already try’d their affection and do not rush into marriage pell-mell in order to gratify passing lust. Indeed, was I to celebrate marriages in the name of Aphrodite, I would make this a condition.
I smile a little to myself at what a foolish C- am I. For 'twould preclude such a marriage as I had with the late dear Marquess: tho’, thinks I, under the rites of Aphrodite there would be no need for such prudential unions, for all might wed where they lov’d.
I may put a deal of horrid matter in my tales but I confide did I indite any concerning such a happy state 'twould be deem’d entire shocking and immoral and very like burnt by the common hangman. I sigh.
Viola takes and squeezes my hand: I daresay she supposes that I fall into melancholy thoughts of my late husband.
After the ceremony is conclud’d and Titus and Tibby are now one flesh, we proceed back to my house where a merry crowd has already assembl’d to greet the couple.
Viola makes a very pretty speech and drinks to the happy couple, and then departs, not, I am like to think, without a little regret.
There is great conviviality, some fine singing from Mr G- D- and Miss McK-, excellent fine food and wine, and at length Tibby and Titus leave for a brief wedding jaunt to Brighton.