Madame C- desires to make an announcement in the publick service

It has been put to me, by those that appreciate this account, that there are those that would desire these memoirs in a more compendious and portable form. With the inestimable services and skills of Mistress [personal profile] clanwilliam, Volumes the First to the Eighth of these memoirs are now available as what are known among the cognoscenti as, ebooks.

These may be downloaded, by such as desire to read 'em, at Google Docs:

The Comfortable Courtesan: A Memoir by Madame C- C- (that has been a Lady of the Demi-Monde these several years)

Volume the First

Volume the Second

Volume the Third

Volume the Fourth

Volume the Fifth

Volume the Sixth

Volume the Seventh

Volume the Eighth

Madame C- expresses herself highly indebt’d to those that find amusement, education, mayhap even edification, in these chronicles. Any particular appreciation may be expresst thru’ the good offices of PayPal.

She also wishes to convey, to those that have expresst a desire to emulate her good friend that goes by the style of HotUtilitarian in writing what is call’d fanfic, that several works can now be found at AO3, and may indeed be added unto by those that so desire. Indeed, words can hardly convey her most exceeding gratification at being a Yuletide fandom.

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A family reunion and an antient favourite

I go visit Lady N-: 'tis alas no weather to take her driving: 'tis cold with a chill rain that sometimes turns to sleet, but 'tis agreeable to go see her and observe how much interest she finds in the matter of furbishing O- House.

O, she cries as I enter her chamber and find her, with Selina’s assistance, perusing some samples of wallpaper, quite the most amuzing thing.

Really, my dear? says I. Say on.

She smiles and looks for a moment like a naughty child, and says, her husband the Earl came talk over with her this matter of how skittish our dear Nan goes over this fine propos’d match, that he does not see how she could have any objection to, and can I not bring a mother’s advice to the matter to show what an excellent thing it would be.

Why, I say to him, she goes on, 'tis entire pity you did not open the matter to me before you disclos’d your intent to her, for I could then have prepar’d her mind for it, given her maternal counsel about the benefits of a suitable match. Instead you have fright’d her by putting it to her so sudden, so she goes act like a nervous filly, 'tis entire understandable.

Oh, says he, indeed I will mind of that when it comes to her sisters. But meanwhile, might you endeavour to bring her into a better frame of mind? Sure this volatility of hers gives the Marquess some concern and I am in great fears that he may cry off.

I laugh somewhat immoderate, and Selina, that has been about curling up in my lap, gives me an affront’d stare, and jumps down again.

Indeed, says Lady N-, 'tis quite the comedy. She then looks a little melancholick and says, she sometimes feels most entire envious of her girls when they come in and tell her about when they go to the play with Her Grace.

I give a little grin and say, alas, I confide that amateur theatrickals are not quite the same thing.

But sure, she says, it keeps 'em busy and out of mischief: 'tis excellent to see how they continue practice while Miss A- is in Harrogate.

Why, says I, 'tis most exemplary and perchance I should offer go see how they get on some time.

My dear Lady B-, they would be quite ecstatick! Most exceeding kindly of you.

Sure, says I, I feel some responsibility for the matter.

We go convoke a little over wallpaper.

There is a noise outside the door and a sound as of scuffling, and then the door opens and quite tumble in two young gentlemen and Lord Geoffrey, follow’d by an older fellow.

O, cries Lady N-, holding out her arms, my dearest U-! and Eddy! sure I did not expect to see you this age.

They both go make exceeding affectionate to their mama, exclaim that she looks extreme well, sure they have a deal of matter to tell her and presents when they unpack their trunks.

But, my dears, do you not observe that I have company? – they both stand up and put themselves a little more in order – Lady B-, may I present my sons Lord U- and Lord Edward?

Enchant’d, says I, extending my hand and making a curtesy.

Once these introductions have been made, Lord U- turns to Lord Geoffrey and says, sure I thought this was just one of your exaggerations, you dog.

He and his brother go punch one another in the shoulder and scuffle affectionately.

The older fellow clears his throat and says, he fears this boisterousness will upset the Countess.

'Tis an entire delight to have my boys back safe and in good spirits, says Lady N-, but, Lady B-, permit me to introduce Sir C- F-, that is U-'s godfather and has very kindly bear-led U- and Eddy about the Grand Tour.

Sir C- F- and I look at one another and both give a little private smile; for, some several years since, we spent a most delightfull summer together at Brighton. I make him a curtesy and he makes me a leg. He then looks again at Lady N- and I confide he has a very chivalrous devotion towards her.

Indeed you are looking well, Lady N-, he says, but who would not when you have such excellent company?

Lord U- and Lord Edward go perch beside their mother on the chaise-longue.

Why, says I, this is a family reunion, sure I should be leaving.

There is some clamour that indeed they would not drive me away, but I am determin’d, and say I will return another day to talk over the matter Lady N- and I were about.

Lord U- notes the wallpaper samples and says, what, has Papa finally been persuad’d to a redecoration?

Lord Geoffrey snorts and says, is the moon blue? I confide 'tis for the furbishment of O- House.

Sir C- F- remarks that indeed he had heard that Lord Anthony had succeed’d as Marquess and 'twould be like that he would be opening up O- House. But he takes a little surprize that Lady N- is bother’d over the matter.

He then glances at me and I see him speculate that perchance I go marry another Marquess, and adds, tho’ Lady B- shows a fine appreciation of Lady N-'s taste -

And, blurts Lord Geoffrey, 'tis hop’d that 'twill be to Nan’s liking, that still goes dither over this proposal.

Both his brothers start speaking at once: I apprehend that they have not yet heard about this intend’d marriage.

Really, says I, this is family business and I must be gone.

Sir C- F- escorts me to the door and says he is delight’d to see me in such fine state. Indeed, while they were in Prague and afterwards they heard a deal about Lady B- from my great admirer young Mr K- - an excellent fellow, exceeding good ton.

He then sighs and lowering his voice, says, he confides that the Earl is still the same nip-cheese about domestick expenditure?

I nod. 'Tis not just my own observation, then?

Alas, no, I have been friend of the family these many years and have endeavour’d to bring him to a more generous practice.

Dear Sir C-, says I, why do you not come and take tea with me – or I have some exceeding excellent port in my cellar – for I see that you are a great friend to the family and indeed one sees that there are certain matters that perchance an old friend might contrive to improve.

When my carriage comes round, he looks at the box and says, what, is that Ajax, that rode so many winners?

Indeed, says I, was oblig’d to give up the turf.

And is that fine fellow Hercules – no, Hector? – still in your service? Sure Sir B- W- was most put about that his intend’d prizefighter had found other occupation.

But indeed, he says, you have risen in the world. I am entire delight’d for you – tho’, 'tis true, I am most glad that you have not been oblig’d to go write your memoirs to supply your retirement.

O, fie upon it! I cry, 'tis exceeding poor ton.

The tales you might tell – he goes on with a smile.

Silent as the grave, says I, tapping a finger to my lips.

He looks out of the window and says, still the same charming house? Would have thought you might be found in state at B- House.

O, says I, I daresay you heard the shocking tale of the present Marquess, the intending bigamist and incarcerate lunatick? that was living there in entire squalor until he was convey’d to that fine madhouse in Sussex.

He laughs and says, sure he has been being a country gentleman these several years and seldom hears the on-dits of Town. Does he look at the newspapers 'tis to see how fat-stock prices go.

We go in and he greets Hector very civil. I desire Hector to bring port, and some tea for myself.

Sir C- looks about my pretty parlour and says, why, is that not good old General Y-'s portrait of his bibi? Had it in his trophy-room at his fine place in Surrey: those were fine bachelor parties.

Comes Hector with port, follow’d by Celeste with tea and what I observe to be currie-puffs.

O, so you still have that fine cook?

I explain that Seraphine is now marry’d and in Milord’s employ, but that Euphemia, that is marry’d to Hector, was school’d by her in the culinary arts.

We sit vis-à-vis by the fire. He sips his port – most excellent, he says, you must tell me your wine merchant – then gazes into the fire a little and says that indeed he is concern’d for the poor Countess.

One sees that you are very fond of her.

He sighs and says he had hop’d to marry her, but her parents were extreme eager for her to marry an Earl’s heir. And in those days he had not become the penny-pinching wretch he later show’d.

Does not pinch pennies over everything, says I. Spends a deal upon his hobby-horse of botany and hortickulture.

Indeed, says Sir C-. But 'tis a delicate matter to point out a fellow’s miserly ways and the hurt they do to his family. Sure 'twas entirely my pleasure to take the young fellows about a Grand Tour, in my position as young U-'s godfather; but I confide 'tis not my place to go provide a fine comfortable invalid carriage for Lady N-, much tho’ I should like to. 'Twould look somewhat particular.

Indeed, says I with a sigh, but your sentiments do you a deal of credit. I am now become quite an intimate of the household, and go about to see is there anything I can do –

He gives a little laugh and says, sure, he recalls certain contrivances when we were in Brighton.

I put on an innocent expression.

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A most romantick tale

I go to O- House to see how matters come along and to see the Marquess and find how his matters come along. I find him in the library, where, the chimneys having late been swept, a fire is lit, that is indeed somewhat of a necessity at this season. I therefore put down my muff and remove my tippet.

The Marquess remarks that 'tis a finer library than he remember’d, and do I see anything that I should like to peruse, I am entire at liberty to do so and to take it away to read at leisure.

Sure you have found me out, says I, I am a bookish creature. Is there, perchance, some volume upon the Incas I might read?

He replies that his own books are still packt up, but he confides that there will be space here for 'em. And once he has unpackt ‘em, he will go send me some suitable work.

And, says I, I hear you go talk to the antiquarians about the Incas.

Indeed, he says. Should you like a card?

I smile and say, sure I already have one, there is a Fellow of their company sent it me, very civil of him.

He says that there are scholars that know a deal more about the Incas and the other peoples that flourisht before the Spaniards came, but he has acquir’d some fascinating objects and can say a little to the matter that may be unknown more generally.

Now we have exchang’d these civilities, I go tell him about my endeavours to finding servants for his household.

He sighs and says 'tis very good of you, Lady B- - have not been in the habit of keeping an establishment, and would desire to have all in order for my dear Hippolyta.

I take out my memorandum book and say, and that is another thing I must think on, she must have a lady’s maid: for I daresay that Brownlee will remain with her mother and sisters.

(I take a thought that perchance Connolly would be agreeable to leaving her place with the dreadfull crocodile. I do not think Jennie is yet like to be sufficient advanc’d in the mysteries of the profession to be preferr’d.)

He clears his throat and says, he apprehends that Lady Anna is in some concern about going about with her sister during the Season badly dresst, and 'tis yet another imposition, but, do you, Lady B-, have any notion how one might contrive about the matter? Indeed I should like her to enjoy herself.

Why, says I, I have also been somewhat puzzl’d in the matter, but I am in some hopes that when Lord U- returns from his Grand Tour, which cannot be long now, he may be able to bring it about.

Ah, indeed. Very proper.

I go on to remark that he will require a valet himself.

That I think I can come at, says he. There is one of the servants at the club has been tending to my needs in that respect, and has expresst a desire to go into private service.

There is a knock upon the Library door and comes in Hector, saying that the work is coming along better than he anticipat’d, and they understand what they are about.

Is there nothing else that requires attention, says I, perhaps, Your Lordship, you would like come sit in my own cozy parlour with tea, or perchance some exceeding excellent port that I have lately add’d to my cellar, and we might discuss these matters more comfortable.

That would be agreeable, says he.

Hector goes make sure the fire is smother’d, and we go to my own pretty and warm parlour.

The Marquess says that he is sure that my port is quite excellent, but tea would be entire pleasing. 'Tis not the yerba maté that he grew accustom’d to in the Americas, but 'twill serve.

He goes look at my bookshelves, and also scrutinizes my china, Sir Z- R-'s portrait of me in my rubies, and my mementoes of dear General Y-.

Comes in Celeste with tea, crumpets, and parkin.

O, says I, this is quite the feast!

We sit down vis-à-vis by the fire, and the Marquess says, speaking of feasts, he purposes to hold a small dinner-party – of course it cannot yet be at O- House, but he hears good report of the private rooms at M. Duval’s eating house for the quality, do I think that would answer?

Quite exceedingly, says I.

I suppose, he says, could not be arrang’d in time that Admiral K- might be among my guests.

Does he go to Harrogate to see Lady J-, by the time he returns I am like to suppose that the Admiralty will have his orders and he will be off post-haste.

Excellent fellow that he is! says the Marquess. Tho’ sure I was very surpriz’d to hear that he had marry’d Lady J- - tho’ one apprehends that she is a most excellent woman –

O, entirely!

- but when I was with him in the West Indies, he spoke a good deal of the finest woman in the realm or out of it, and I suppos’d that did he marry, 'twould be to her; that is, to you.

Oh, I have quite the greatest fondness for the Admiral, it is a most antient affection, but I could not think that marriage would answer. I am a sad timid creature –

That is not the character you are given at R- House!

- the flattering weasels – and I confide would not do well on shipboard. Nor do I have the talents that would serve in managing the fine property he inherit’d: whereas Lady J- has a fine hand for such matters. They are remarkable well-suit’d, and I daresay you will have heard the very romantick tale of their meeting when he was a poor young lieutenant?

The Admiral mention’d, says I (for I am a true daughter of Eve and rul’d by curiosity), that he was of an impression that you had suffer’d some tragedy of the heart while you were in the Spanish Americas?

The Marquess looks into the fire and says, somewhat of the sort, and that was indeed why I was like to take a prudential approach to matrimony, because I thought that I could not feel such emotion again –

- but sure I was wrong!

There is somewhat of a pause, and he says, 'twas an episode quite like unto some novel. While I was about plant-hunting, I was attackt by some venomous creature – did not even see what 'twas – became quite delirious and indeed do not recall how I got there, but I stagger’d onto some remote estancia, and the fellow who own’d it took me in, and had me nurs’d by his servants until I recover’d.

And gradually I came back to health, and naturally I was exceeding gratefull to him for this care.

He had a daughter – his only child – what they call in those parts mestizo, for her mother had been his Indian mistress, and he quite greatly doat’d upon her, and had considerable concerns about what would be like to happen to her did he dye.

While he was a fellow in the prime of life, he had some affliction of the heart that was fear’d might take him off quite sudden. He desir’d to leave his fine property to her, but her sex, her mingl’d race and her illegitimacy he fear’d would bring her great problems did she not have a trustworthy man to stand by her. He had also, I know not how, gain’d a very elevat’d notion of the character of an Englishman, and I was, as 'twere, an answer to prayer.

And indeed, his daughter – Inès – was a very fine creature, tho’ of course I was not permitt’d to see much of her at first.

I should perhaps mention, he goes on, that I happen’d to be carrying certain documents with me, that could have caus’d a deal of trouble both for those who sent them and those to whom I took 'em, did they fall into the wrong hands. And when I had come to myself, I found that the package had not been restor’d to me along with my clothes and such possessions as I had not lost during my delirium.

I do not think Don Hernando – that was his name – had any leanings to any side in the conflicts then raging – his estancia was indeed remote and he may have thought that 'twas all a storm that would blow over and not touch him. But he quite apprehend’d that these documents were a very persuasive business for me. Without ever being direct, he indicat’d that did I marry the fair Inès, I might then proceed upon my journey with 'em, with the understanding that I would return.

So I agreed. 'Twould take some time for the business to be put in hand, and once we were formally affianc’d, I was able to have some communication with Inès – we would ride out together, for example, attend’d by a groom. I became increasingly prepossesst with her: she had had education at the hands of nuns and was an intelligent inform’d young woman, rode most exceeding well, could shoot -

But as we grew to know one another, I came to understand that she was perhaps even more reluctant for this match than I had been, and at length I discover’d that she had a passionate desire to become a nun, a desire encourag’d by the Mother Superior of the convent wherein she was educat’d. Did she manage to get herself within their walls, they had a deal of influence to keep her there and obtain any dispensations necessary for her to take the veil.

She said she would go extract my package from where her father had conceal’d it, would I accompany her to the convent. She had allies in the household would provide us with horses, supplies, &C.

By this time I had an entire passionate admiration for her, but I could see that altho’ I think she felt a friendship for me, 'twas not love, and her devotion was given to her vocation.

So – o, there were alarums and excursions, but I deliver’d her to the convent, made my own escape, deliver’d my package to those it was destin’d for –

And once a year, he continues, Sor Catarina, that she is now nam’d, writes me a letter.

I sigh and say sure 'tis a most romantick tale.

But, he says, I find another and different romantick tale has come to me.

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One day childish things will be put away

I go visit the excellent enterprize of Mrs P- and Miss W- that finds places for servants that have met with misfortune, so that I may register the interest of the Marquess of O- for setting up his household at O- House – at present, however, there is a deal of workmen about furbishing the place.

I confide that there will be no difficulty about maids and they are in hopes that they can provide a housekeeper. I know not what to do about a butler and menservants. But I shall go ask Seraphine whether there are any in the kitchens at R- House that might reasonable be preferr’d to her own kitchen - for sure it only makes bad feeling does one that might take such a place continue subordinate.

I also purpose to ask Roberts about how one might go about finding gardeners, tho’ I daresay there are already gardeners at D- Chase that might come to Town.

The Marquess will require a valet but I am like to suppose that that is a matter that gentlemen go about themselves.

Sure, says I to myself, you are indeed a silly creature, C-! Here is your best belov’d Eliza been running both households at R- House, and sure she will have a notion about butlers and footmen.

So I determine that I must make a little excursion to R- House, talk with my darling and with Seraphine and Roberts: 'tis quite entire no hardship to me, for I daresay I may take the opportunity to look into the nursery and see my precious jewel and the rest of the nursery set.

The gardens are looking somewhat bleak and there are fellows clearing up fallen leaves &C. Roberts goes direct their work and I would not interrupt him.

I go thro’ the conservatory on my way into the house. I find that Bess is there, walking up and down in some passion.

How now, Bess, says I, what do you here?

She gives an angry little sob. O, 'tis not true, is’t, Aunty C-? 'tis some tale those beastly girls go make up?

I draw her down to sit beside me upon a bench. What tale is this?

O, she says, stamping her foot, Tom O- was asking me was it true what some of the girls at dancing class say, that Mama and Papa go establish my interest with His Lordship.

I sigh and say, sure 'tis an on-dit I have heard, but 'tis entire false, you must know that.

Only, Lou was telling Dodo and me that her sister – Lady Anna – was told by her papa the Earl that she was to marry the Marquess of O-, that she had never even met, and that 'twas the way things are done.

O, says I, 'tis somewhat of the way matters go among families in that rank, that make prudential alliances, like unto diplomats. But I do not think you have to fear the like.

I pause and say, but indeed, you know His Lordship quite well already –

Bess looks at me and then says, sure he is a very fine gentleman, and has been very kind to us, but the thought of marriage! And sure it minds her of what Beatrice says in the play to the Prince, that she would like a husband better fitt’d for for working days.

I put my arm around and she leans upon my shoulder. I daresay, says I, that there are those among your dancing class whose parents would indeed like to promote their interest in such a fashion, which is exceeding poor ton. But sure you cannot suppose that your Mama and Papa would go about in such manner.

Sure, says Bess, I know there was some romance to their meeting and marrying and there was opposition, quite like Romeo and Juliet.

Why, says I, I do not think there were duels and deaths: but indeed I am like to imagine there was a deal of brangling over the match.

And when you marry’d the late Marquess?

O, says I, we were introduc’d by friends - in particular Milord thought we should make an excellent match of it, and indeed 'twas so. We found a deal of liking to one another.

Bess begins looks more chearfull.

Also, says I, I hear that altho’ the Earl is very desirous of making this match 'twixt the Marquess, that has been a friend of his these many years, and Lady Anna, they are both of them somewhat hesitant - he wonders is she yet too young, and she would desire consult with her brothers that are at present upon the Grand Tour but like to return quite soon, to know their opinion of him – for I daresay in like case you would wish to have Harry’s opinion on any fellow you wisht wed –

Bess snorts a little and then says, she supposes she would. She then goes on, Josh says the Marquess is a bang-up fellow.

Sure, does one show admiring of the wombatt, 'twill quite win Josh’s favour.

Bess giggles. She then says, Tom O- is most envious when he hears about Harry being apprentic’d engineer in Leeds. Do you think, does Harry come home for Christmas, I might invite Tom O- take tea with him? He would greatly like to hear about the steam locomotives &C.

Why, says I, I think there is some plan upon hand to have a party - quite a rout, I daresay – for the younger set, perchance at New Year.

O, prime! cries Bess. 'Twould entire exceed.

I confide so, says I. But sure, I see you are become entire devot’d friends with Lady Louisa and Dodo B-.

Oh, indeed, they are bang-up creatures. And does not Dodo sing most exceeding well? And Lou is an entire centauress upon horseback. O what a pity 'tis that Miss A- is gone play in Harrogate, 'twould be so delightfull to take them visit her in her dressing-room.

Why, says I, I daresay Lady Louisa already has some acquaintance with Miss A- from her going instruct the Earl’s children and their friends in acting. And Dodo B- was introduc’d to her after my drawing-room meeting: but she was so awestruck she did not speak a word.

'Tis so, says Bess. But is Miss A- not entire the charmingest creature?

Entire so, says I. And now, I daresay there is some schoolroom matter you should be about, or 'tis time for you to sit with your Mama about business.

Bess flings her arms about me and gives me a warm kiss. O, Aunty C-, thank you!

She runs off. I look out into the gardens where Roberts is still directing various matters.

I therefore go to the kitchens to speak to Seraphine, that is taking a moment to put her feet up in her sitting-room. I beg her not to disturb herself, and she need not be at the trouble of desiring tea for me. 'Tis just a matter of seeking her advice.

She waves me to sit down and says, 'twould be a pleasure.

I therefore open to her the matter of a cook to take charge of the O- House kitchens, that I am making the Marquess put a fine modern range & C into. Think 'twill be no hard matter to find kitchen and scullery-maids – I descant a little upon Mrs P- and Miss W-'s excellent enterprize – but a fine competent cook fit for aristocratick service is another matter entirely.

Hmm, says she, I will go consider, but I confide that Arabella is entire fit to have charge of her own kitchen: was shocking kept down by M. Duval, but has come on exceedingly.

I go on to mention that I should desire Roberts’ advice concerning gardeners: but I observe that he is occupy’d at present.

She smiles fondly and says, she will ask him this e’en: he is shortly to go down to A- to tend to matters there, but she confides that he can advize on this matter before then.

We then exchange a little gossip about the other members of her family: what a fine enterprize this is to do with Phoebe’s polishes, and we hope that, if 'tis true she increases, she will not over-do.

Seraphine then smiles at me and says, sure, 'tis exceeding agreeable to talk like this, but she dares say that I quite long to go to the nursery and see Miss Flora.

You quite find me out, says I, I cannot come to R- House and not go see her.

We exchange warm farewells, and I proceed to go to the nursery in the east wing.

My dearest jewel jumps off the rocking-horse and comes run to me very affectionate. When she has given me as many kisses as she thinks proper, she desires me to kiss Hannah, that she continues to doat upon.

And then there is the usual demand that I should be a tiger, and sure I am quite unable to resist my pretty darling’s pleas, and indeed all join in and there is a fine romp about the floor – the nurses are grown quite us’d to this and smile upon the scene.

Flora, I confide, knows that I am quite wound around her little finger, and when our tiger-romping is done, demands a story, and I am quite unable to refuse. At length comes Patty and says to Flora that that is quite enough, sure your Aunty C- will be here again.

Flora clings to me with a little pout, but I see that there must be some discipline in the nursery, kiss her, and say, sure she should listen to Patty and be a good girl, and I will come again soon. She shows a little inclination to sulk but then kisses me and makes a pretty farewell.

When I leave the nursery I go sit upon the stairs and put my head in my hands. One day, thinks I, Flora will look upon tigers and sleepy wombatts as childish things to put away, will no longer come running so sweetly fond. I become a little foolishly tearfull over this thought, until I feel a tug upon my foot and I look up to see my darling Eliza, that has come look for me.

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Matters 'twixt us are as they have ever been

'Tis soon discover’d that the Admiral is already appriz’d of the sad end to their hopes of a pledge following Lady J-'s summer in the Mediterranean, and has took the opportunity of coming to England provid’d by a need to lay certain matters before the Admiralty, quite post-haste, so that he might see her.

'Tis consider’d entire in keeping with the fine romantick tale of their long devotion, I can see from the expressions on the faces of Lady Z-, Mrs O- B-, Lady D-, and Miss S-.

Biffle goes explain that Lady J- has been prevail’d upon to go to Harrogate to recruit - sure the airs in Hampshire are very sanitive but he dares say that the Admiral knows what 'tis like with Lady J- and a dairy: she would be up and doing rather than resting.

Harrogate, hah?

Answer’d most exceedingly for me, says Eliza, I confide 'twill do the like for Lady J-.

Biffle beckons over a footman who provides the Admiral with brandy. He looks about the room, and remarks, a few faces he does not know – while nodding to those he does. Biffle goes make introductions.

We discover that the Marquess is known to the Admiral after some encounter in the West Indies, when he was Lord Anthony and exploring for plants.

Viola steps forward and says, she will go tell the housekeeper to make him up a bed in one of the guest chambers –

No need at all, cries the Admiral, would not put anyone to trouble, have left my dunnage at my club and will stay there, 'tis entire convenient for the Admiralty.

No, indeed, says Biffle, we would entirely desire you to stay here for the duration of your visit, but perchance you might wish to move yourself in tomorrow.

'Tis exceeding kind of you, Duke, says the Admiral, but I am in hopes that when I go visit the Admiralty the morn, they will say that 'twill be a se’ennight or so before they can resolve the matter and I may return to my flagship, and I would take that opportunity to go to Harrogate to see m’wife.

The company considers this most extreme proper, and there are, I confide, some little sighs at how romantick this shows.

But have you din’d this e’en? asks Eliza.

The Admiral confesses that he has not and is immediate conduct’d to the supper-table so that he may take sustenance.

He goes reassure us all that 'tis not a matter of warfare breaking out somewhere in the Mediterranean, tho’ even was that the case he confides that the Navy would have the business well in hand.

As the party goes break up, I say that I will take the Admiral in my carriage: sure I may drop him off at his club, or else send him on once I have been convey’d home.

Once we are in the carriage, the Admiral takes hold of my hand in a very fierce grip and says, you would not go put me off with soft words: how does she, in truth?

Dear Admiral, says I, why do you not come in for a little of some very excellent port I have of late got in my cellar, and I will quite entire reassure you about Lady J-.

So we go in, and the Admiral greets Hector very warm, and we go into my pretty parlour and I desire the Admiral to go stir up the fire, and Hector comes with port and madeira.

As to Lady J-, says I, sipping my madeira, sure she was very much shaken by this unhappy event, and she did not do herself any good by supposing she could quite immediate get back into her old ways. For sure, she has always been a lady of quite abounding health and vital force, and 'tis exceeding distressing to her that she found herself so overset by this matter.

Indeed, says I, I incline to think that she suppos’d she was not like other women and could bear this business without all the troubles to which female flesh is heir, but 'twas not the case.

I think you have the right of it, says he, one sometimes sees the like in fellows that are wound’d and find that they are not as impervious as they thought. (Indeed, I think of Captain C-.)

But, he says, how was it contriv’d to get her to Harrogate? For she would ever speak very disdainfull of those that run around quacking themselves at spaws.

O, says I, 'twas entirely Miss A-'s doing. Went about to get herself a season playing in Harrogate, which quite inclin’d Lady J- to take the course that had been adviz’d to her of taking the waters. Tho’, I continue, I daresay that it may be the rest from being about many things that does her most good.

That was most excellent done of Miss A-! he cries. What a fine thing is their affection. And indeed m’wife is inclin’d to overdo - would go out in the fierce midday heat to walk about some ruin or other, I was in dread she would take a stroke of the sun.

He sighs. Indeed I was worry’d by her letter conveying the sad news: 'twas most unlike her usual style. But you set my mind at rest, dear Lady B-: still quite the finest woman in the realm.

O, tush, says I, sure a marry’d man ought to save such declarations for his wife.

And you still do not incline to another essay in matrimony?

Indeed not, says I (for I can anticipate no prospect that would allow me a ceremonious union with my dear loves).

And you are not lonely?

I smile and say, dear Admiral, why should you suppose that I would be lonely? 'Twould be entire false modesty to pretend there are not a deal of fellows would offer suit did I show agreeable to the prospect.

'Twas ever thus, says he with a smile, but you were ever fastidious.

He extends his hand to me and I take it. We smile at one another and I perceive that matters 'twixt us are as they have ever been.

At breakfast the morn, for which Euphemia has contriv’d to provide kedgeree and some mutton chops in the Hindostanee style, the Admiral says 'tis a pity he cannot remain in Town, would greatly like to renew his acquaintance with Lord Anthony – the Marquess, he should say. Quite the finest of fellows. While he was in the West Indies, and all suppos’d him quite entire about collecting flowers and strange plants, he compil’d a deal of information about the shocking conditions upon the plantations.

He seems an excellent fellow, says I.

Sure I wonder how he will settle down after the life he has led.

I smile a little and say, I think he has found his marchioness, that will make the prospect agreeable to him.

The Admiral smiles very broad and says, sure, that is excellent news. He grows more sober and says, he has some apprehension that there was a lady in the matter somewhere in the Spanish Americas but there was some tragedy came upon her. 'Twill be quite some several years ago now, and indeed, tho’ fellows will make protestations that their heart is in the grave &C, 'tis entire natural to love again.

(I daresay 'twas some comrade in the cause, one may quite imagine: or perchance 'tis but the fancy of a Gothick novelist.)

Hector comes and says, Mr MacD- comes call, wonders if the Admiral has come here for breakfast and converse with an old friend.

(O, the weasel, thinks I, knows well enough is the Admiral here what we will have been about.)

Show him in, says I, and you had better desire fresh coffee of Euphemia.

Comes in Sandy and greets us both very civil. Says, does Admiralty business permit the Admiral to take a little while to go see Lady J-, he has lookt out the coaches for Harrogate for him –

Most exceeding thoughtfull, says the Admiral, could wish some of my officers were as beforehand of matters.

- and has some books – works upon the classicks - that Lady J- might care for to beguile the time when she is not taking waters.

Why, she will be most extreme gratefull! Indeed that is a fine thought.

I remark that altho’ I apprehend that there are excellent circulating libraries at Harrogate, I doubt that they would have the kinds of works that Lady J- finds so agreeable. Sure one would not expect her to be reading horrid tales.

The Admiral says, has been most agreeable renewing our acquaintance, but he must be about his business.

I say sure he may take my carriage, I do not go out the morn.

He rises, expresses himself most indebt’d to Mr MacD-'s kindness, and perchance may see us again before he returns to his flagship.

I desire him to give my fondest regards to Lady J-, and to Miss A- does he encounter her.

He goes out. Sandy sits down. Enters Celeste with fresh coffee.

O, you weasel! says I.

Sandy looks at me very amiable and says, among your good friends 'tis known what a fine antient affection lyes 'twixt you and the Admiral. Indeed I suppos’d the F-s would be somewhat put about in the matter, but sure they shrugg’d and said, oh, 'tis the Admiral, that C- has not seen this age.

'Tis true, says I, and there has been this sad matter of the loss of their hopes; if one may convey some comfort -

Sandy helps himself to a mutton-chop, and says, has come to his ears that Reynaldo is appriz’d that the Marquess of O- has had somewhat to do with revolutionary matters in the Spanish Americas, and wonders should he go fight there for the Cause.

We both groan.

Why, says I at length, I confide 'twill come to nothing, for Lady Z- may plead that the anxiety 'twould cause her would be most deleterious for a lady in her condition.

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An informal friendly gathering

Is deliver’d to me one forenoon a little note from Lady T-, saying that she has receiv’d the proofs of her work upon lace and quite begging my assistance in the matter.

Sure, thinks I, can be quite daunting the first time one sees such a thing, and sure I was extreme fortunate in having Sandy’s guidance upon the business. I write and say, alas, today I am oblig’d to be about business of the optickal dispensary, but could come tomorrow.

She finds this quite answerable and so the following afternoon I take myself to T- House, where I find Lady T- in her parlour looking a little distraught. She looks exceeding pleas’d to see me.

O, Lady B-, she cries, sure I confide that you will know about this matter, for indeed it puzzles me.

I desire her to show me the proofs, and indeed, I do not perceive any great matter to be put about over; but I daresay 'tis the strangeness that troubles her. I go explain to her how one may mark errours - tho’, says I, 'tis a fine accurate piece of work, there will always be some go creep in.

She rings for tea and then says, seeing the matter in print makes her consider over how ambitious she has been.

Do not despair, Lady T-, says I: sure the extreme fine observation that you take to lace-making will serve you well at this task.

She of a sudden smiles and says, she dares say: and with lace there is no such chance to correct errours. Indeed you are kind to a cross-grain’d old woman.

Poo, says I, you do yourself injustice.

O, she says, I have some apprehension of how I am spoke of behind my back. Indeed, do I not note the buzz of conversation fall silent when I enter a room?

Sure, says I, 'tis known that you have excellent high notions of good ton, and I daresay those that go gossip or talk frivolity become conscious that they lapse from that standard.

She sighs a little. Dear Lady B-, she says, what is’t about you that so many find they may open their hearts to you?

Perchance, says I, 'tis because I learnt in my former life the value of discretion: for a lady of the demimonde that discloses secrets of her patrons or goes gossip upon them will soon find them fall away. Tho’, I continue, sure there are those save up such matters so that they may go write scandalous memoirs in their old age.

Why, says she, I had never thought of that, but indeed 'tis sound business practice. But, my dear, has Lord K- ever open’d his heart to you? I wish he would, has he not, for I am sure you would give him the most excellent counsel as a lady that knows a deal of the world.

He has not, says I.

'Tis pity, she says. For 'tis not as tho’ he has masculine intimates, either.

Even had he so, says I, 'tis most rare that gentlemen will feel easy in disclosing the innermost secrets of their hearts to other fellows.

She sighs, and we turn once more to looking over the proofs.

At length comes in Lord T-, and greets me very civil, while desiring his wife not to strain her eyes over-much, now it grows dark so early. Sure he manifests a fine affection towards her.

She rings for fresh tea; unless he should prefer a little brandy?

'Tis not yet cold enough for that, he replies. Has just been at R- House about a conclave of their politickal set: here is the Marquess of O-, inclines towards them, but has been out of England a good deal, requires informing of the issues. Adviz’d him to consult with MacD- about some fellow that could act his politickal secretary. Finds that Mr C-, that was preferr’d to him by MacD-, answers most exceedingly.

Comes in fresh tea, and the candles are lit.

Lady T- says that Lady B- has been most infinite helpful over these proofs. Sure she sees now how to continue.

The door opens and comes in Lord K-, that blinks a little at the sight of me but makes civil.

I say that sure I have linger’d long enough: does Lady T- require any further assistance with her proofs, to call upon my services at once; and take my leave.

Lord T- shows gracious in escorting me to the door and waiting while I put on my tippet and bonnet, while expressing his gratitude that I come keep Lady T- company and sooth her worries over this fine book she goes to make.

And an exceeding fine volume 'twill be, says I.

When I arrive home I go change, and Docket is extreme put about that I have left the matter so late.

Really, Docket, says I, an entire informal little evening party at M- House? Sure 'tis not an occasion for a display of finery.

Docket snorts and says that even so, My Ladyship should be well-turn’d-out, shows respect to the company.

Sure, Docket, you are quite correct, but when do you ever let me out other than well-turn’d-out?

Sophy looks exceeding amuz’d.

I contemplate my reflexion in my fine pier-glass, and confide that I am turn’d out entire suitable to the occasion.

Has been impresst upon me that 'twill be an entire friendly gathering of our set at M- House, quite informal, good conversation, a fine supper, mayhap Her Grace will play a little and Mrs O- B- agree to sing, perchance a little dancing does the company feel inclin’d, to introduce around the Marquess of O-.

'Tis Thomas keeps the door when I arrive: I smile upon him and says I hope that he and Jennie do well, while conveying him a compliment. Indeed, he says, and Phillips shows most exceeding kind to her.

The party takes place in one of the fine reception rooms – sure we should be quite lost in the ballroom. 'Twould be entire vanity to go glide in like a swan, however much my darlings admire the effect do I so.

Most of the company is already gather’d, and converse amiably among themselves in several groups.

Biffle and Viola are talking to the Marquess: Viola is telling him that sure, Lady Anna cannot be so very young, has been out at least two seasons already: tho’ 'tis true that her aunt, that is now gone to Bombay, had somewhat fusty notions and she may not have had a very wide experience of Society.

Biffle says, his arm going around Viola’s waist, that just because a lady is young, does not mean that she does not have good sense. At least, he has found that so. Viola looks up at him very fond, and says, sure, with a good husband to guide her, a young lady may come into good practices and habits.

To guide, says I, not rule. Do we not observe how much happyer Lord and Lady D- are now that he does not lay down severe rules of conduct?

Biffle says, he is not the one in their household that will lay down rules. He and Viola look at one another and both laugh a little.

And have you heard from Lady J- in Harrogate? I ask.

Indeed, says Viola, writes that she finds Dr J- answers just as Mrs F- suppos’d he would; the waters are quite disgusting to drink but doubtless do her a deal of good; Miss A- is not only much acclaim’d for her performances but greatly askt about to give readings for the benefit of good causes.

They turn away as Lord and Lady D, with Miss S-, are shown in. I go recount to the Marquess somewhat of Lady J-'s history, as I could see him wear the expression of one that hears others recount matter where the persons are already so well-known that the slightest allusion has meaning, but 'twill be quite baffling to one that knows the matter not.

Talking of readings, he says, when I have finisht, there is an on-dit that Lady B- is quite renown’d for her readings from Shakspeare, and has been mention’d that we may have that pleasure this e’en?

O, the weasels! I cry. Sure I daresay they already have the fine volume out ready.

Sure 'tis a most agreeable e’en. There is a little dancing, but as Susannah and Lady Z- both declare that they are not dancing at present – Lady D-, that is not so far along, concedes to dance a little – and Viola plays the piano for us – there is a shortage of ladies that may partner the gentlemen. (Alas, thinks I, that Milord and Sandy may not dance together, for I am sure that would be an exceeding fine sight.)

Mrs O- B- has brought her musick and obliges us with a few songs.

After supper, Sandy is persuad’d to read some Burns, and I concede to read a little from the Bard. Since Lord D- and his womenfolk have already heard me give my fam’d Juliet’s Nurse, and 'tis so greatly lik’d by my friends, I present that, along with some other passages.

While I am reading that fine speech concerning The barge she sat in, there is some knocking upon the outer door and someone speaking loudly, tho’ not so loud that we may hear the words.

The door of the reception room opens and enters Admiral K-.

How now, he says – somewhat moderating the quarterdeck tones we heard just now – where is m’wife?

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Sure I can be as tedious as Mr N-

I confide that the drawing-room meeting for the orphanage has contriv’d to raise a deal of money for the enterprize, tho’ Mrs O- B- was kind enough to remark that sure it could not compare with mine, and she and her daughters are quite entire at my disposal do I purpose another.

Why, says I, I do indeed intend another one quite shortly for the work of the T-s in the antipodes.

This minds me that I should be about the business, in particular do I offer as an inducement to attend the renown’d singing of Titus, that is now so much in demand, so the morn finds me writing a deal of little notes. Sure I may not throw out the lure of Miss A-, for she remains in Harrogate and has most appreciative audiences there. But I am sure Meg will be delight’d to play the piano, and I daresay I might give some readings myself.

I also solicit items that may be raffl’d. I wonder might Miss S-, under concealment of anonymity of course, donate a copy of her poems, that are quite the sensation.

Comes Hector to say that Matt Johnson has call’d.

Do show him in, says I, and bring some fresh coffee.

Comes in Matt Johnson and we greet one another very amiable. I ask him how the business of catching malefactors goes. He sighs and says, if you catch one you may be sure that there are a dozen more go scot-free: but indeed, lately he has contriv’d to put away some shocking villains.

Celeste comes with coffee and some very fine fruit-cake.

Sure, says I, there is so much wick’dness in human nature that I doubt you would ever find yourself out of your place –

He smiles and says, MacD- will have it that the wick’dness lyes in the way society is constitut’d and were matters reform’d, why, we should see a deal less villainy.

May be so, says I, for I daresay there are those go about thro’ poverty to commit crimes entire to support themselves and their families.

'Tis so. But Hector says Your Ladyship had some matter you wisht investigat’d?

Indeed, says I. You may already have some acquaintance with one Molly Binns, a lady that resides in Covent Garden –

He nods.

- is maintain’d in an establishment by a fellow that gives himself out a Mr Perkins, and is suppos’d a nurseryman or some such in a good way of business. I happen’d to observe this gentlemen lately, when I was about visiting Dolly Mutton, that excellent woman, and I am like to suppose that he is not what he gives himself out as, but another fellow entirely.

'Twould, I fear, look somewhat particular did I go interrogate Mistress Binns myself, but I should be most exceeding gratefull could one go sound out the matter.

He laughs a little and says, sure Molly would be entire over-aw’d did Lady B-, that was once the fam’d Madame C- C-, call upon her and I doubt not would tell you whatever she thought you want’d to hear, whether 'twas the truth of the matter or no.

And if this fellow is the one I suppose him to be, I go on, I had rather he did not know that 'twas I that was about making inquiries.

Matt Johnson taps the side of his nose to signify discretion.

We look at one another with very good feeling. He rises and says he must be going to Bow Street, but will be about my matter as soon as maybe.

'Tis very good of you, says I.

He looks a little embarrass’d, but says nothing.

After he has gone I turn once more to my task, so that I may send Timothy about with these messages.

Once this business is dispatcht, and before I may be about it any further I must attend upon the responses. I am request’d to act the chaperone to Lady Anna, that has been invit’d to visit O- House, that will be her Town home does she marry the Marquess of O-. (I confide she would be entire happy to live with him in a cottage, but this is the next act in the little comedy we all go play.)

(I am like to think that, altho’ I had been given to suppose that I would be consider’d quite unfitt’d to act the chaperone, there are those that mind that one with Lady B-'s history will sure have a fine understanding of the wiles and tricks that fellows may be up to, and be able to sound a warning do they go about them.)

I go in my carriage to N- House, where Lady Anna is waiting entire ready.

As she gets in, she looks down at herself and says, sure, one might suppose her some fairytale heroine that is in rags.

’Tis not that bad, says I. And I do not suppose His Lordship likes you for your clothes: indeed, I do not take him for one of those fellows that pride themselves that they know a deal about ladies’ dress and constitute themselves arbiters of style.

Sure I think he is not, she says with a happy smile.

We come to O- House, where I see the Marquess waiting outside even tho’ 'tis a chilly afternoon. I hope they will remember to shake hands very proper and formal and show somewhat indifferent until we are within.

They do indeed contrive to look somewhat cold towards one another until we are inside, when they clasp hands and look exceeding delight’d to be remet. I daresay do I go turn my back or walk into another room there will be kisses.

Lady Anna looks around. His Lordship says very apologetick that there is indeed a deal to do before 'tis fit for habitation –

Fiddlesticks, says I, it is none that bad, one could live here in reasonable comfort once the chimneys had been swept and a fine new range put into the kitchen, but sure 'tis not furbisht as a man would desire the place to which he brings his bride.

He looks at her extreme doating and says, he would desire to furbish it as she should wish, and shall we go look at the samples Lady B- has been so kind to bring?

Oh, says Lady Ann, I know nothing about such matters, but Lady B-, you are given out as having such exquisite taste, might you be my advisor in the matter?

This is entirely to my taste, for I have develop’d considerable strong notions of my own about how the various chambers might be furbisht and look exceeding well.

So we go around with the various examples of paint and pattern-books of chintzes &C and sure they probably think me as entire tedious as Mr N- as I talk of the matter. I also say that I can put them in the way of some excellent polishes that will quite bring up the very fine wood of the tables and sideboards and other furnishings. And, I continue, I confide that some several of these very fine mirrors would benefit from re-silvering.

I also go expatiate upon the merits of fine modern ranges in kitchens. I do not think they mark a deal of what I say for they gaze into one another’s eyes, and hold hands.

When we have been into every room and chamber and along every corridor and gallery, His Lordship says in a somewhat daz’d fashion, do you write it all out for me, Lady B- (sure I have been keeping a tally in my little memorandum book) and advize me how I should go about putting the matter in hand. Tho’ indeed matters at D- Chase were badly out of order from my brother’s ill-health, sure I am not come to ruin and need not stint upon this business.

I mind me that I still have the names and directions of the workmen that did exceeding well about the furbishment of B- House, that I would quite happy put in the way of this work.

I convey Lady Anna back to N- House, and she beseeches me to come in and have tea with Mama. 'Tis entirely agreeable to me.

As we pass through the fine hall of N- House, Lady Anna says, somewhat loud, sure 'tis a fine big house and a good address, but did you not think it exceeding shabby within? And the furnishings very old-fashion’d. Would need a deal doing before one might even consider moving into it.

We go into her mother’s chamber, where she lies upon the chaise-longue with Selina kneading upon her breast.

Lady Anna goes kiss her. O, Mama, she says, 'tis a very fine house but needs a deal of work doing. Lady B- has kindly said she will advize on the matter.

Lady N- smiles, and then rings for tea.

Indeed, Lady N-, says I, I should desire to convoke with you about some of the matters to do with O- House.

Oh, she says, I live so out of Society, I have no notion what the latest fashions in decoration or furniture are.

Mayhap not, says I, but I confide that you have an eye and I have seen how very neat and pretty you arrange His Lordship’s hortus siccus. I am like to suppose that your opinions on the furbishment of O- House would be exceeding nice.

O, Mama, says Lady Anna, that would be the primest thing.

Well, she says, I will consider upon it.

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To be a well-left widow is a most agreeable state

My dearest darlings come of an e’en for triangular matters and a nice little supper.

Imagine! says I. I am like to confide that the Marquess of O- and Lady Anna M- will go make a match of it, but 'tis still very secret.

Josiah looks extreme reliev’d, and Eliza bursts out laughing. Did I not tell you? – depend on it, I said, this is our best of C-s has some contrivance upon hand for the Marquess, 'tis no matter of her setting her cap for him.

O, shame! I cry, sure I am subject’d to unjust suspicion and jealousy.

Eliza gets a thoughtfull look upon her face and says, sure he goes be a very naughty Grand Turk, to so misjudge our darling –

We look at one another and then at our very dear Josiah, that holds out his hands and says, sure, he is quite ready to be brought to a state of penitence.

This is most exceeding amuzing, and indeed, 'tis some while before we go eat the fine supper that Euphemia has prepar’d for us.

My dears, says I, when our hunger begins be sat’d and we are able to give less mind to the fine dishes before us, do you know is there any opening for a stable-boy, or perchance a boot-boy, or a scullery-maid, at R- House?

Are these, asks Eliza, some of Hector’s connexion that you would help to good places?

No, says I, they are the offspring of a fellow that lives along the mews and was working in the livery-stable until his leg was broke by a kick from a horse. Their sister Nell cleans the mews cottage. Their mother is desirous to send them out into places now the family is in this distress, and there are a deal of bad places about that one would not like to send a young person to.

Eliza says she will go consider, but is not their darling advizing the Marquess of O- about opening up O- House? surely there will be places there.

'Tis so, says I, but 'tis not yet an immediate prospect; I should not like to prefer them to places there until I had a notion of the upper servants and whether they follow’d good practices.

'Tis prudent, agrees Eliza, sure she fears that Dawkins would go relapse into the old bad practices did she not keep him under hand, even after they had got rid of the worst of the footmen. But, she goes on, she confides that they could find places for a scullery-maid and a stable-boy, and they would be learning somewhat of the practices of a fine household, and then when matters come further along at O- House they might be prefer’d there.

My darling, that is a most exceeding sensible notion. I have advanc’d their interest to those ladies that will go equip poor young people with boxes to take into their first place, and once they are provid’d, may come to R- House.

They both look at me very fond and say, they are like to worry that the finest of C-s goes over-do herself with all this contriving.

O, fiddlesticks, says I.

O, 'tis ever hard that they must depart, but alas, I confide that Society would not understand the inwardness of the matter.

Next morn I rise somewhat late. While I breakfast I think of a matter and ring for Hector.

Hector, says I, there is a matter I should wish to put one to investigating, but sure I would desire not to go send openly to Bow Street to see if Matt Johnson is at liberty to pursue it –

Hector says that he goes occasional to a club to practice the pugilistick art, that Mr Johnson also frequents, and they will occasional have a friendly bout of sparring, and does he not encounter the fellow next time he goes, 'tis known a place one may leave messages for him.

Excellent, says I, perchance you could let him know that I have a small matter that he may be able to help concerning.

Mr Johnson, says Hector with a very straight face, I confide is ever anxious to be of service to Your Ladyship.

Has certain been most extreme obliging, says I.

I am still at breakfast when Mrs N- comes calling, and says, sure 'tis an entire brangle at the theatre at present, she is oblig’d to spend a deal of time listening to Mr J- complain upon actresses, that will be flying off to Harrogate, or getting themselves with child –

Sure, says I, that is not a matter they may accomplish entire single-hand’d –

Mrs N- snorts with laughter. Indeed not, she says.

- and he fears Miss R- will go marry that fribble and quit the stage, and very like abandon Mr W- and he will go back on the bottle does he not have one to take care of him and then do somewhat imprudent and be taken up for sodomy.

I say that I am in hopes that matters may not come to that sad conclusion.

Oho, says Mrs N-, I will tell him that Lady B- quite entire has the strings in her hand.

Why, says I, I confide that there are ways the business may be manag’d and all be benefit’d. But, my dear – do help yourself to anything upon the table, they have sent up entire too much for one person –

O, says Mrs N-, I spy Euphemia’s fam’d devill’d kidneys: and helps herself very lavish.

- but I wonder does there any gossip go about concerning the Earl of N-?

I wait while Mrs N- finishes her mouthfull, and she then says, Lord N-? there is not a deal said about him; tho’ 'tis remarkt that tho’ his wife is an invalid and unable to be a true wife to him these several years, he shows exceeding faithfull, or at least, does not openly flaunt some mistress. Is not greatly given to play or the turf or the Fancy, mostly frequents scientifick sets and those that are interest’d in hortickulture. Indeed somewhat of a dull dog.

'Tis curious, says I, in very idle tones, that a fellow that was so ardent a husband that he begot half a dozen children in barely more years (for the M- children are all exceeding close in age) leads such a monkish life.

Mrs N- snorts again and says, sure he is more interest’d in the breeding of flowers these days.

Perchance, says I, 'tis a special pleasure. We both giggle.

She says that she will go see if there is anything else said about him.

Mayhap, says I, he goes filch cuttings &C from other hortickulturalists - I have heard that 'tis a thing happens, and consider’d in shocking poor ton.

But tell me, my dear, this on-dit that the Marquess of O- goes make suit to you -?

Fie, says I, as he has no close female relatives and is quite the stranger to Town life, I go advize him about furbishing up O- House and matters of Society. As far as his heart goes, I confide that there is metal more attractive somewhere about.

La, is’t so?

And even did he so, have I not ever said that there are few more agreeable conditions for a lady’s life than to be a well-left widow?

'Tis so, says Mrs N-, not that I have any complaints of Mr N-.

In the afternoon I am oblig’d to go to a drawing-room meeting in aid of the orphanage, and in order to mollify the crabb’d spirits of the orphanage ladies, I have conced’d to give a reading from The Bard.

I am most exceeding tempt’d to give them the Shrew’s exhortation that a woman mov’d is like a fountain troubl’d, but alas, 'twould not do. Tho’ I daresay that they would not take the implication.

I am like to suppose that there has been a deal of brangling over who should hold the meeting, and indeed, over all matters including what comestibles might be serv’d.

'Tis a great comfort to me that the Matron of the orphanage is a fine sensible practickal woman that gets on with the business of running the enterprize while the ladies go bicker and backbite. Otherwise I should fear greatly for the state of the orphans.

At the meeting I see Mrs O- B-, that sighs and says in a low voice that one of the ladies that plays the piano says she will go accompany her. Mayhap 'twill answer.

I see Lady D- and Miss S- and go greet them. Lady D- says with great excitement that there is a party making up to go to Astley’s, will that not be exceeding delightfull? (I am like to suppose that Lord D- has heard that the longings of a woman with child should not be thwart’d.) Miss S- looks at her very fondly. I ask after the pug, which is, according to Lady D-, quite the finest and most intelligent of its kind.

Miss S- says that Lord O- has been persuad’d to talk to the antiquarians concerning the curious objects of the Incas in his possession – had not thought to send anybody cards, but that kind fellow Mr L-, that gave such a fine lecture on Hebrew manuscripts, is a Fellow and sent cards to Her Grace, who is quite wild to go hear.

Why, says I, here am I in and out of O- House talking of carpets and curtains and chimney-sweeps, and he does not think to tell me. I shall certainly ask him for a card: tho’ I daresay I might have one from Mr L-.

I see that the proceedings are about to commence, and compose myself so that I do not resemble Coriolanus confronting the Roman mob, that I confide must have been very like unto the orphanage ladies.

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Sure 'tis often remarkt that I should write novels

Sure I would be about my business, but as I sit here beside the fire I have Dandy and Pounce upon my lap, that purr mightily and that I should not like to disturb as they are so comfortable. Perchance I should go distribute kittens to the orphanage ladies?

'Tis a fine agreeable way to spend a forenoon – I look down at Dandy, that commences wash Pounce –

And then comes Euphemia, says Nell’s mother has come call, will not be prevail’d upon to come upstairs, perchance I could speak to her in the kitchen?

Why, says I, does she feel she is not dresst as parlour-company, I will come down.

So I go down to the kitchen, where Nell’s mother sits at the table with tea and some fine fruitcake, and looks most embarrasst when I come in, struggles to her feet and makes a dip. I wave her to sit down again.

Though she has a worn-down look and her clothes are somewhat shabby she is clean and respectable.

She quite tearfull expresses gratitude for the help she has had from the household, and says if there is anything they might do – do we perhaps need one to undertake the rough? – hope we will call upon them.

But, she says, 'tis an imposition she knows but there is another favour they would beseech: she hears that there is a charity will fit young people up ready to go out in service and if she could have a recommendation to 'em? Her eldest boy already goes work in the stables, but 'twould be a great help could she send out his brother and their next girl.

Why, says I, I have to do with the ladies that run that very fine enterprize, I will go at once write to them and dispatch it by Timothy. (I also mind that perchance I could go ask Mrs P- and Miss W- concerning the households they will not send servants to.)

She weeps mightily and says, sure she did not know where to turn.

I go about writing the letters, and send them off post-haste with Timothy.

Hector comes and assures me that they are a good hard-working family, but with the father unable to work… He confides that they will not become encroaching.

I return to my duties, the kittens having gone away in a huff.

Comes the afternoon, I desire Docket to array me as a chaperone, very plain and sober. Docket looks at me very sceptickal, and I observe Sophy endeavours to conceal a giggle.

But indeed, in a good simple gown, with one of my plainer caps, I feel I am suitable rigg’d out and set out for N- House.

I am shown into a parlour in which Lady Anna is already sitting, in a fine state of the frets. She takes me by both hands. O, Lady B-, I feel quite sick.

Calm yourself, my dear. Take a breath or two. Sit down, and I will sit here, beside you, quite immense proper.

We are seat’d, and she babbles a little about not putting on any finery for the fellow –

Then there is a sound of footsteps approaching the door, and we see the handle turn. Lady Anna squeezes my hand quite painfull as it opens.

And then she starts to her feet, saying, What do you here?

And the Marquess cries, Fair Hippolyta, is’t you?

But, she says, you must not stay, there is one coming any moment –

I rise to my feet and say, I see it falls to me to make introductions. Lady Anna, permit me to present the Marquess of O-. Your Lordship, Lady Anna M-.

They gaze upon one another like characters that of a sudden find themselves quite in a fairy-tale, entire struck dumb.

O, cries Lady Anna, with a little sob in her voice, I thought I was to be wed to a monster.

I hope, says the Marquess, that I shall never be monstrous in your sight.

I go look out of the window. When I turn back they are about a deal of kissing, so I clear my throat.

O, Lady B-, cries Lady Anna, that still holds the Marquess by the hand, do you think 'twould be proper to go introduce His Lordship to my mother?

Sure, that would be the entirest good ton, says I. I will stay a little here, for 'tis a private family moment, but then I will come see your mother, for I have some matters for her.

Sure the parlour we are in is very dull: no books, no china that I might admire, some indifferent paintings. I sit down and take my little memorandum book out of my reticule and look thro’ to remind myself of the various matters I have on hands at present.

After I have wait’d a sufficient while I go outside and desire a footman to escort me to the Countess’s chamber. He is follow’d by another, carrying the two heavy china pots with flowering plants in ‘em that I have brought for her – I confide that even Selina will have considerable difficulty in pushing 'em over.

When I enter Lady N-'s chamber she is quite sitting up on her chaise-longue, and there is a pretty colour in her cheeks. She clasps Lady Anna’s hand, saying, my dear, why did you not tell me?

O Mama, I did not want to fret and worry you with the business.

Lady N- kisses her daughter very loving, and then looks up.

Oh! she cries. Are these for me?

Indeed, says I, I convok’d with Roberts at R- House as to what would answer for a little floral decoration for you.

That is so exceeding kind, she says, 'Twill greatly refresh my spirit. But, dear Lady B-, did you know of this tangle of my little Nan?

Somewhat, says I.

Nan, my dear, she says, go ring for tea.

Lady Anna does so and then comes sit next to her mother on the chaise-longue. The Marquess looks at her very doating.

Lady N- looks from one to t’other and smiles.

Lady Anna smiles at the Marquess, and then looks a little sad. Sure, she says, 'tis most agreeable to have the matter of marriage settl’d, but indeed I was greatly looking forward to this Season, with Her Grace taking us about –

Lady N smiles and says, sure Laetitia was a fusty old mump that had most antiquat’d notions – one must wonder how she gets on in Bombay - and 'twould be a pity did dear Nan not enjoy a Season in younger company –

Why, says I, one perceives that the couple have come to a full private understanding, but there is no need to make any publick announcement just yet –

O, says Lady Anna, but Papa –

Why, says the Marquess, I apprehend that your father has taken very little consideration of your feelings and preferences in proposing this match, however happy it has turn’d out –

Sure, says I, 'tis most improper in me, but I go think that you might contrive to teaze him somewhat that the business hangs in the balance -

They all look at me with extreme interest.

- suppose, says I, that the Marquess went to Lord N- and said, sure his daughter is a fine handsome girl, but he has some concerns whether she be too young for the responsibilities that would come upon marriage, and that he would need further time to acquaint himself with her character –

While Lady Anna could say, sure he is not so antient and wither’d as she fear’d, and of course she would desire to oblige her Papa’s wishes, but she would wish to know the Marquess a little better before giving him her hand.

And, I go on, would like to ask her brothers their opinion, once they are return’d from the Grand Tour and have opportunity to meet the Marquess and go about with him a little.

They all look at me with grins breaking forth upon their faces.

This would provide, says I, a deal of opportunities for you to meet and get to know one another, while Lady Anna would also be able to enjoy the pleasures of Society under the chaperonage of Her Grace.

O, Lady B-, says Lady N-, sure 'tis entire true that you should write novels or perchance plays.

Lady Anna and the Marquess are clasping hands. O, may I? she asks. I should consider myself quite entire affianc’d did other fellows attempt make suit to me, but indeed 'twould be most delightfull to have a Season in which Aunt Laetitia was not ever telling me all the things I might not do.

The Marquess looks upon her most exceeding doating, and says, sure, providing she will contrive to give him a deal of dances and that they may continue their rides. Indeed, he continues, I should not like to wed before O- House is quite set in order –

I laugh somewhat immoderate and say, perchance Lady Anna should join our convokations about decorating &C, and might bring about some decision about chintz and whether there should be fresh wallpaper. For she is the one will have to live there.

Indeed, says Lady N-, stroking Selina, that purrs most exceeding loud, do you go perform this comedy, 'twould be quite in order for Nan to go visit O- House, suitable chaperon’d of course, so that she may see what an exceeding fine establishment would be hers did she concede to the union.

Why, Lady N-, says I, I confide that you might write novels.

We all look about to one another with exceeding good feeling.

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