I address myself very conscientious to various matters of correspondence, in order that I do not go get into a fret over my soirée that comes about the e’en, and I am just at writing to Mr M- over some matters to do with my mine (that indeed does exceeding well), when comes Hector to say that Lady Emily M- comes call.
Oh, I cry, indeed I said she might, show her in and go desire coffee and whatever Euphemia may have upon hand in the matter of refreshment.
Comes in Em and looks about and I see that she manifests the eye of one that considers upon furbishing up a house. I gesture her into a chair and she sits plump down in it still looking about. O, says she, 'tis ever so charming here, I doubt we can attain to anything the like at N- House.
Why, says I, I confide that one might come about to achieve some very pleasing effects at N- House, there are excellent fine proportions to the rooms.
And, says Em more chearfull, Cousin Lalage has most exquisite taste.
I say that I should have guesst as much from her dress: sure 'tis not fine and I daresay she is oblig’d to have her gowns made over from year to year, but one may see that she has an excellent fine eye for colour and line even is she not entire in the crack of the mode, that indeed she may think improper in a daughter of the parsonage.
Em says sure Lalage gives 'em the most usefull thoughts upon dress, 'tis quite entire the reverse of Aunt Laetitia. And she wonders, do they go live at N- House – for at present they are to and fro 'twixt the two establishments – should they be about finding a lady’s maid.
Comes Celeste with coffee and some very fine little buns.
When Em has drunk a cup of coffee and eat several buns, she says, but indeed I did not come here to discuss these matters to do with our domestick establishment, and –
She puts down her coffee cup with a little chink, and I see her look distresst.
Sure, she says, I think 'twould be most agreeable to go keep house for U- and the boys, but –
But? says I, tho’ I have some notion of what the matter may be.
Oh, she cries, bursting into tears, Papa goes write to U- and to Mama complaining that I am not yet marry’d and why they do not go make a match for me and putting forward some of the horridest fellows in Town as desirable husbands – that tedious hypochondriackal fellow Lord K-, that Evangelickal bore Lord W-, and the dreadfull old Duke of H-.
And there is none of your many admirers that you incline to?
Em blows her nose very ferocious and says, O, Papa has heard some gossip that I incline to Lieutenant H- or this one or that one, merely because I show civil upon some occasion or because they are fellows that make interesting conversation. But indeed I do not wish to marry any of 'em – have never lik’d the thought of marriage, mayhap because I saw how little Papa car’d for Mama or consider’d her desires.
Why, says I, not all marriages are the like of that: even is’t not some great love-match as your sister enjoys, there may be mutual respect and agreeableness.
She pulls a face. And goes on, I know 'tis suppos’d to be the proper thing in our station in society, but did not Lady J- live quite independent for many years – tho’ I suppose 'twas a different matter, with Admiral K- but a poor Naval officer and the country then at war, so they could not marry.
'Twas more material, says I, that Lady J-'s uncle left her an independence so that her family could not force her into some other match that suit’d their interests. (For there are secrets that are not my own to disclose in the matter that I daresay I should not communicate to Em.)
Em buries her face in her hands.
But, says I, my dear, your father is in Washington and I confide has no immediate intention to return, and I do not think Lord U- or your mama would constrain you to matrimony if you lik’d not the prospect.
Oh, indeed they would not, she says, but he goes make threats about cutting off money or taking the control of the estates back into his own hands, 'tis very troubling.
Why, says I, I think he would find that a tiresome task being so far away, but yet, does he wish to be disobliging, he may do so. But let me think upon this matter.
I go ring for fresh coffee, for has grown entire cold in the pot. But, says I, was’t not for this freak of the Earl’s, the plan concerning keeping house for your brothers and Miss F-'s chaperonage would answer?
Entirely! cries Em. 'Twould be entire delightfull, is she not a quite wonderfull creature? She goes expatiate considerable upon Cousin Lalage’s virtues. I am pleas’d to see her take such an inclination towards a lady of merits that far surpass any that Lady Rosamund might claim.
So when she comes to depart, making effusive apologies for bothering me, I say I will go consider over the business – for indeed, I mind that there is a deal more scandalous matter I might reveal about the Earl of N-. Even did I not disclose his endeavour to use the serpent he stole from Major S- to assassinate myself, I daresay there are low scandalmonging fellows that would be most extreme interest’d in anything Molly Binns might have to say about the quondam Mr Perkins. Perchance I should go write him a letter that, while I would not go explicitly mention these matters, might imply that I am still able to harm his already damag’d reputation. But sure 'tis troublesome when 'tis action at such an exceeding distance. Sure 'tis not as far as the antipodes and the posts are a good deal more expeditious but communications are still exceeding slow.
In the afternoon I go ride in the Park upon my lovely Jezzie-girl, and observe Captain C- taking his constitutional stroll. I dismount so that I may go greet him and find out how matters go. He quite wrings my hand in gratitude, murmuring that Mrs D- K- is entire the finest of women that has been shamefully misus’d.
'Tis so, says I. Tho’ I mind Sir B- W- saying that she was like a dog or horse made vicious thro’ ill-treatment, and that while we see the excellent effects of kindness, yet there may be occasions upon which some startlement will remind her of adverse times – sure, says I, here is my sweet Jezebel, ever treat’d in the gentlest fashion, but took the poor creature a while to recover from when that mad Bavarian fellow went wildly shooting in the Park, would go shy a little at the spot for quite some while.
Captain C- says he heard somewhat of that. And, he says, 'tis exceeding prudent advice. And so, he goes on, is your notion of where she might take refuge - quite the most excellent people.
We part with great good feeling.
But I still have a deal of time in which to go fret concerning my soirée before 'tis time for my guests to arrive.
But at last comes round the hour when my dear musickal friends arrive, and go over to the piano and look over their musick - Herr H- holds back a little so that he can say to me, he knows not what I said to Herr P-, but he at least goes try hold in his temper, and act more civil, and no longer tries convince him to take a clerk’s place.
'Tis well, says I. Also I mind’d that Frau P- might like convoke with some lady that has a deal of experience with infants concerning little Wolfgang’s fretfullness?
He says 'tis an excellent thought, for Mutti will ever say they were the peaceablest of infants, had nothing similar with 'em.
Come in Mrs O’C- with Mr P-, Mr and Mrs N-, and Mr H-. The gentlemen go talk together, Mrs N- goes see whether the devot’d ladies have any gossip to communicate, and I go talk to Mrs O’C- as she lays out counters &C at the gaming table. She looks about, lowers her voice, and says, she knows not what is ado with - a certain lord of our acquaintance - but comes quite demanding her services at an unwont’d time, but indeed, she has a deal of business upon hand at present, cannot just drop everything for his whim.
Arrives the party from R- House – Mrs L- looks a little over-aw’d, but is dresst entire suit’d to the occasion, and wears her pearls. Mr L- stiffens like unto a pointer at the sight of Mr H-, and says to me, would be exceeding glad of an introduction, has long wisht have someone write for the paper upon anatomy and whether are measures might do away with the dreadfull trade of resurrection men. I take him over.
I look at my darlings and hope that my expression does not give away my feelings for 'em.
Next arrive Sir B- W- and Susannah. O, says Susannah, raising her lorgnette, I apprehend that that gentleman discoursing to Mr H- is Mr L-, the editor? I should very much like to talk him about the excellent politickal reporting in his paper.
I am entirely agreeable to making this introduction, for Mr L- has expresst that has heard a deal of Lady W-'s acumen over politickal matters.
Come Biffle and Viola, that communicate to me sotto voce that Mr K- had already had troubling letters from Cologne and Dresden concerning Herr P-, and will go convoke over what may be done. Would not care to go to law.
I smile and am mind'd to say, why, give him what he once desir’d, passage to the Americas to go found an ideal community in the wilderness!
But then there is a great number arrive, and must be greet’d, and serv’d wine or lemonade, and introductions made.
And sure it begins to go, and Miss L- plays some pleasing tune upon the piano, and there is a pleasing buzz of agreeable conversation.
Has been agreed with my darlings that they will linger after all depart, 'tis a most delightfull prospect.