I am at my pretty desk the morn, when Hector comes say Mrs L- has call’d, am I at home?
Indeed, says I, jumping up, show her in and then go desire Celeste to bring us some coffee.
Comes in Agnes L-, looking most exceeding well in a riding-habit, and I embrace her. Alas, says I, that I was unable to be at your wedding, but I hear all went off entirely well.
O, cries Agnes, sitting down in one of the easy chairs, indeed I much misst your presence, but I confide that you are entire well after your sojourn at Naples?
Indeed, says I, very sanitive, and was able to address some little problems concerning my property there.
She smiles and says she finds in herself quite a taste for travel; perchance she and Mr L- may make a journey to Italy some time, for she is like to suppose that there are a deal of libraries there that he would greatly desire to visit.
Why, says I, you are in a position where you may travel in comfort, makes a deal of a difference. And should you venture as far as Naples my villa is entire at your disposal.
She smiles and says, altho’ Mr L- is most principally interested in the study of Hebrew she confides that the classickal sites in those parts are of quite the greatest interest.
Entirely, says I, the fellow that looks after my property is most exceeding well-inform’d in such matters – was the late Marquess’s assistant in his studies.
Comes Celeste with coffee and lardy-cake. I remark to Agnes that may not be the daintyest of dishes, but is exceeding delicious.
I ask do they stay long in Town? – for I am shortly holding a soirée -
She gives a little sigh and says, 'tis a pity, but they go to Buxton to visit her guardian very shortly, and then on to Mr L-'s new living – quite the prettyest rectory, they are most infinite gratefull to the Marquess of O- for the presentation.
Fie, says I, I am sure he is exceeding glad to have a fellow of such learning as Mr L- as incumbent, for the last fellow was more interest’d in hare-coursing than books.
Tho’ indeed, she goes on, Mr L- will be sadden’d to leave the excellent company of the U-s in his late parish. But 'twill be entire delightfull to be so close to D- Chase. And speaking of books, she adds, 'tis give out that you now have a fine library of your own?
O, poo, says I, cannot compare with fine libraries such as there are at D- Chase or Q-, 'tis a poor thing, but mine own.
She laughs and says, but might she go look at it? and then looks at her fingers and says, tho’ perchance not with such sticky fingers.
I laugh myself and ring for Celeste to bring us a damp cloth so that we may wipe our hands after consuming such a deal of lardy-cake, saying that 'twill be an entire pleasure to show her over.
So I take her into the new part of the house, and we peep into the dining-room, and then we go up the library, and she looks about, and turns around, and says, 'tis quite entire what one would desire in a library. I know not if there is anything of the sort at the rectory – but I daresay there have been previous incumbents that were given to study rather than country sports – and if not I daresay there is some chamber one might fit out like this –
But, says I, as she goes look along the shelves and takes out a volume here and there, do we discourse of books -
O, she cries, you will think I go take entire advantage, but besides the poems I had on hand last summer, I have a deal more to show you.
I smile and say, has indeed been a while since then.
And, she says, I took the liberty of bringing copies with me.
I laugh and say I am quite on fire to read 'em, and might I show 'em to Mr MacD-, that understands the intricacies of publishing? And perchance there might be a few that one might offer to Mr L-'s fine newspaper – o, perchance you had not heard? Has marry’d Miss N-, and they go live in in apartments set aside for 'em at R- House.
O, she says, what an excellent fine notion! For I was in some suspicion that Miss N- had some reluctance to abandon her pupils. But how do they all do there? and is Sophy still in your household? – sure there is a deal of news that I should like of our circle.
So I tell her how matters go, and we part with great amiability. Sure I am a little sadden’d that she goes be bury’d in a country rectory, but I daresay there will be visits to Town.
I then go and indite a little note for Sandy, for these poems provide a most plausible reason why I should desire him to call, and when he comes, may open to him also the question of Herr P-'s correspondence.
So 'tis that the very next forenoon, as I am about writing the cards for my soirée, comes Sandy saying he is delight’d to be summon’d to my service, for R- House is in that state of chaos that precedes the holding of a ball, and he had as soon be out of it.
La, my dear, says I, if you will go be away while these matters are being plann’d, sure 'twill come to chaos was your hand not upon matters from the commencement.
As a certain silly creature would say, poo. I recall a deal of fretting last year over the same matter. But, dear sibyl, do you show me Mrs L-'s poems, and I may give you these reviews of your play to peruse.
I groan and he says, no need at all to go cast yourself into despair, 'tis considerable lik’d. Aristarchus of course will never praise a comedy, but even he will concede that there is exceeding witty dialogue.
Why, do you say so, and have you not conceal’d any adverse opinions, I will believe you, and do you give 'em to me and we may read over our coffee and muffins.
A little while later he looks up from his perusal of Agnes’ poems and says, these are very well indeed.
Sure I thought so, but I am an uninstruct’d creature –
I am like to suppose, dear C-, that you are a deal better acquaint’d with the finest flowers of the literature of this nation than some of the fellows that set themselves up as criticks.
O, mayhap, says I. I was mind’d, I go on, to think that one might make two pretty little volumes out of 'em. Should also be inclin’d to offer a few to Mr L- to print in his newspaper.
Sandy nods. I will be about it, says he. And since you do not go fall into a melancholick fit, I apprehend that you are pleas’d with what the criticks say of The Rivalrous Ladies.
Why, says I, 'tis not as bad as I fear’d. But, have we conclud’d our convockation on these agreeable matters, I have one that is less agreeable to open to you.
I disclose to him the visit I made to Herr P-'s household, and that I hope I have contriv’d to prevail upon Herr P- to behave a little less tyrannickal to the rest of the household – and, says I, perchance he may even permit Frau P- to resume at least attendance at the Duchess’s reading circle, for 'tis a pleasure to Her Grace, and she is the daughter of Mr K-, that one supposes he must desire ingratiate himself with, or at least not offend.
But, says I, I am like to think he is also engag’d in some surreptitious matter, employing Frau P- to write in German on some matter that I suppose not to be merely requiring her to act his secretary in his business for Mr K-.
Sandy raises his eyebrows. Perchance, he says, he goes keep up some communication about ideal communities -
'Tis possible, says I, but anyway, I abstract’d two or three letters, but as they are in German, cannot read 'em myself.
Sandy raises his eyebrows even further, says hopes I will never tell him the full tale of the matters I was about in Naples for fears 'twould be entire too thrilling for his peace of mind, and takes the letters.
I see him frown over them somewhat, and his lips move, and after a while there is a dawning of a very dour Calvinistickal look, and at length he looks up, says somewhat in Scots that I confide is by no means flattering to Herr P-, and goes on, the fellow is an arrant scoundrel.
La, says I, 'tis no surprize, but what is the ado? Does he go betray the Cause and inform upon his erstwhile comrades?
No, says Sandy, but 'tis entire shocking enough. 'Tis indeed a betrayal but of one that has shown a considerable benefactor to him.
Say on, says I, do not draw out the tale.
Takes advantage of the connexions he makes in undertaking matters of German business for Mr K-, to go endeavour set up in business for himself, by offering himself to various enterprizes in the Germanick regions as their London agent, and telling 'em that he will be able devote himself better to their interests than Mr K-, that is a fellow about very great deal of matters, could not give 'em the particular attention he could –
That is, says I, I confide what is consider’d sharp practice?
Indeed 'tis. But I am in some quandary how we should proceed now we have this knowledge. I suppose Sebastian K- is now depart’d for the Baltic?
So I am given to apprehend. 'Tis a pity, because ‘twould have been more answerable to go by way of him. Am by no means on the same terms with Mr K- himself.
We sigh and go contemplate upon the matter in silence for a little while.
Why, says I, I have it! Give me back those letters, and I will go take 'em to Viola, saying that I saw Frau P- about all this writing, and fear that Herr P- has not abandon’d his revolutionary ways -
Sandy shakes his head admiringly. Madame Nemesis, he says with a bow.