Encrypted letter, found in the Raxdell family muniments
My dearest Gervase
Profoundest apologies for my delay in responding to your latest: I have been suffering under a tiresome recurrence of the mala aria that laid me up for a se’ennight or so.
'Tis excellent news that you are provided with a stratagem to baffle your father: indeed I had some concerns as to how you should do once you were back in Town, knowing his nature. Madame Clorinda sounds a most excellent woman, and indeed I think 'tis quite apt to compare her with the dear Contessa: for there is something about a woman gifted with native wit that has also had the chance to observe a plurality of the other sex in their unguarded moments. Conveys a wisdom in the ways of the world that I fear the generality of our own sex have no idea of.
I have indeed pension’d Giacomo, that most immediate went about courting the young lady of his fancy and desires open a tavern.
And indeed, I confide I do have a new favourite, but comes to me quite unexpected, an entire coup de foudre.
You will recall that I constituted myself the patron of a young fellow, some connexion of Giuseppina’s – indeed I was in some suspicion that he was the result of some youthful folly of her own, for I daresay even a strega may be beguiled in the days of her innocence – that showed considerable intellectual promise. When she preferred him to my interest she thought he might make a priest, for although she has no great opinion of the Church and I daresay only attends its rituals as a matter of form, 'twould be considered a great advancement and a fine living.
He has lately returned from his studies at the University, that have inclined to matters of law and philosophy rather than theology, as a matter of discretion, having got himself into a revolutionary set and finding it prudent to rusticate for a little while.
He is of a beauty that quite takes the breath away, but when this is combin’d with keen apprehension, a passionate desire for learning, and revolutionary fervour - well. As you know, I have ever approached my amours in a spirit of prudence, and the knowledge that the interest on t’other side is largely of a mercenary nature. But I find myself quite entire in the state described by Sappho towards him: and cannot convince myself that 'tis merely a recurrence of the mala aria fevers.
Sure I cannot yet be in a doating senility, can I? But I have not felt the like since those events in my youth that caused me to seek exile from my native shores.
I daresay, my dear Gervase, that, when you recall my own words to you concerning the discreet and prudent pursuit of desires such as ours, you will be laughing considerably that I find myself in this predicament. That I find myself hesitating to take advantage of his gratitude, that is expressed with great effusiveness and quite melting looks from those fine eyes.
'Tis almost enough to make me go seek aid of Guiseppina – no, my dear, not to procure a love-spell but to read my fortune in the cards and see does it portend happiness in love. For though I have no superstitious belief in this oracle, I have a deal of admiration for Guiseppina’s ability to sound out a situation and pronounce judgement upon where it may lead: but should hesitate to ask her directly on this particular matter.
Well, my dear, I hear your laughter at the state I find myself in, after all the warnings I gave you –
And then I look up from this page I write, and see, lingering upon the terrace in such an attitude as some ancient Greek sculptor would have sighed to recreate in marble, the beauteous Marcello himself. It entirely scatters to the winds the thoughts I had intended to convey to you concerning English politics.
Ever your friend