'Tis with some chagrin that I open a letter from dearest Belinda, that writes that she hears that I am return'd to Town, and I mind that I have not writ to her this age. I hope she does not take offense in the matter or suppose I go scorn her.
But she writes in all good humour to mention that they have had dealings with Captain C-, and that she is in correspondence with Chancery over the matter of T-, but she doubts that there will be any immediate action; and she hopes that I may join 'em for the Derby again this year. She also wonders a little whether my jaunt abroad had somewhat to do with that matter I open'd to 'em last summer. But as I am happyly return'd she confides that all's well.
So I address myself at once to inditing a letter to her with as much of my news as 'tis prudent to convey, and declaring that 'twould be an entire pleasure to join their party for the Derby.
'Tis most particular shocking to me to have neglect'd to write to her, when I contemplate that this very e'en I am bound to Lord A-'s ball at B- House, that will sure be a matter of interest to her.
But indeed, I have been entire besieg'd with invitations and callers and the wranglings among the philanthropick set, and trying put my writings in fit condition to be publisht or stag'd, and going furbish up my wardrobe so that Docket will not scold me. Yet 'tis most thoughtless in me.
But I cannot regret the hours spent about my wardrobe when I go have Docket and Sophy array me for the B- House ball: sure I am a vain creature, but it pleases me to look so exceeding well in a fine new satin gown of Maurice's devizing, with my fine Hindoo rubies blazing about my neck and my pearls gleaming in my hair. They stand back and look very approving.
Docket nods and says sure Maurice does excellent fine work.
I arrive at B- House late enough not to be unfashionable early, but not so late as to look haughty. I greet Lord and Lady A- very warm: I confide that she is at that stage of increase where she begins show a little but is like to feel exceeding well. Certainly she looks so, and I remark upon how very much she is in looks. Lord A- looks at her very proud and says, but she should not overdo: I daresay Mrs O- B- has been dispensing cautions.
I say that I hope we may have the pleasure of hearing her sing, if only a little, before I proceed up the stair to see the rest of the company.
Sure one would not know B- House for that desolate wreck that us'd to be, 'tis now a fine fashionable residence entire throng'd with quite the best society, and I can hardly even believe it that same place where I was menac'd by that creeping madman. The chamber in which I was so terroriz'd by that horrid apparition is now a fine musick room in which Mrs O- B- goes delight an audience with her song.
I go in very quiet and sit down to listen for a little while, and find myself next to Sebastian K-. We nod very civil to one another in silence so as not to distract the other listeners.
After Mrs O- B- goes sit down to considerable applause, I stand and leave the room, for tho' tis most agreeable to listen to good singing, I must go improve the shining hour, whilst I also demonstrate that I may still dance a very great deal without I go swoon.
I should perchance have preferr'd not to dance with Mr O- B- so early in the proceedings, for tho' a most amiable fellow is a quite wretch'd dancer that treads upon my feet, but I must show civil. Is most effusive as to what a fine residence this is, how very pleasant Lord A- shows - has took him a time or two to play goff at Blackheath ('tis indeed a great mark of favour); entirely doats upon Charley, and comes about to an apprehension of the duties of his rank.
Why, says I, that is entire pleasing. Was ever an agreeable young fellow but somewhat of a careless fribble.
Goes very meritorious to take up the business of his estates, goes on Mr B-. And is a fellow will listen to advice.
The dance ends and I endeavour not to hobble as I quit the floor. I stand wriggling my toes to ascertain they are not broken.
Comes over Lord O-, that has been dancing with Cousin Lalage – 'tis in exceeding good ton of him – and asks me to dance. I concede with pleasure.
He says, he is entire glad that Lady B- is return’d to Town, along with Mr MacD- - he gives a certain smile by which I confide he supposes that we have been about matters for The Cause; 'tis indeed not entirely mistook – for he comes about to have the manuscript for the book of his travels complet’d, and would scarce dare venture it upon the world without he took it before our judgements.
O, poo, says I, I am like to suppose 'tis quite entire its own recommendation: Mr L- was most entire prepossesst by the preliminary essays he publisht – declar’d they had a fine virile style -
The Marquess’s lips twitch and he says, sure he cannot have suppos’d how much assistance I had from a certain lady of the pen -
Tush, says I, 'tis entire like unto advizing concerning furbishing up a residence: a gentleman’s study and a lady’s boudoir will require a different approach. But, I go on, I see that you have quite another kind of production in progress –
He looks somewhat more sober and says, sure the prospect is exceeding delightfull, but one cannot entire be unfearfull, 'tis a perilous matter for women.
'Tis indeed so, says I, I hope you have her in good hands?
He says that he understands Mr H- to be very well-thought-of in the man-midwife line.
Entirely, says I, tho’ did you prefer a midwife of the more usual sex there is one whose interest I might advance to you.
He looks thoughtfull and says, he will ask his dear Hippolyta what she might prefer.
At the end of the measure I observe Lieutenant H- approaching. He makes me a leg and offers that I might care to dance? As he leads me onto the floor I remark that I had not expect’d to see him still in Town rather than return’d to his ship. He sighs somewhat and says, is at present second’d to duty at the Admiralty, sure had rather be at sea, hears I was lately at Naples, was the fleet there?
O, says I, arriv’d just about as I was about returning to Town, heard the Admiral’s excellent news.
He says somewhat of what a fine fellow is the Admiral, what a privilege 'tis to serve with him, and then his gaze strays to where Em is dancing with some fellow that I do not immediate recognize, and I confide that there are certain attractions ashore, even does he yearn for salt water.
At the end of the dance he goes with great expedition solicit Em, and I look about me and see where Viola is sitting. I go greet her and she says, she confides I have not yet been introduc’d to Rebecca G-, that is dear Jacob’s niece, and Julia P-, from Bombay.
They are indeed very fine-looking young women, of a most out of the common exotick style of beauty, that make exceeding civil. Miss P- in particular has a fine ivory-tint’d complexion and smooth raven hair and finely-cut features; perchance there is a little look of the Orient, that may be attribut’d to her upbringing in Bombay. I am like to think that Sir Z- R- would be quite wild to paint her, and remark on this.
Why, says Viola, perchance we might go to his studio one day, there can be entirely no objection to the matter.
Then come up the gentlemen to whom the young ladies have promis’d the next dance. I sit down beside Viola, ignoring that Sir V- P- endeavours catch my eye to come solicit me.
I mind, says I, that Martha found the scent of paints &C somewhat unsettling when she first went increase with Deborah.
Viola sighs and says, indeed she at present finds there are certain scents do cause a certain qualmishness, 'tis somewhat tiresome. Might you, dear C-, be kind enough to take 'em there? Are they not quite among the belles of the Season?
Entirely, says I, do they yet have any eligible offers?
O, there are several go pay 'em most particular attention, but do not yet come to that point. But 'twixt their looks, their portions, and their very excellent address, I cannot think they will linger upon hand very long. And, she goes on, Miss C- I think has already took, Lord V- shows exceeding smitten.
So 'tis give out, says I. What about Lady Rosamund?
Viola sighs and says, she was anticipating a young woman that would display theologickal objections like unto her brother; and sure she is mind’d to suppose that that would be a deal less exasperating than the ways she shows. But, she goes on, you should not be sitting out with me, dearest C-, I am sure that there are a deal of fellows quite panting to dance with the exquisite Lady B-.
'Tis possible, I concede, so be I may evade the antient ram. Aha, I continue, I observe Mr Geoffrey M- -
Viola laughs somewhat immoderate and says, do you go have a youthfull cicisbeo like unto Lady Z-? 'Twill be said that you have got quite into Italian habits.
O, poo, says I, he is an agreeable and respectfull young fellow.
Indeed, he comes over and makes an elegant leg – one may most certain see the effect of his association with Milord – and offers that I may care to dance?
I rise and curtesy and we go tread a measure, during which he conveys to me some very shocking matters he has lately discover’d in his studies concerning the laws of the nation.