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 Ninth 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

Volume the Ninth

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 would also desire to remark that her devot'd amanuensis is about revizing this chronicle with a view to eradicating errours and making it more widely available to the cognoscenti. The amanuensis says, watch this space.

Madem C- 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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Quite the happyest exile

So, having dispatcht this matter into the hands of one that I confide will be better able to bring the Earl around to see that 'twould be the wisest thing for him to quit these shores – why, are there not flowers and plants in all quarters of the globe, save, I suppose, the Polar regions; for I have heard that even in deserts, is there even a little rain there will be a sudden blossoming - and make over the management of his estates to that excellent young man, Lord U-, that I confide would have the fine advice of his godfather Sir C- F-, and would not be one of these reckless fellows that supposes he understands the entire matter already, but would go seek counsel of his elders, &C –

Having, I say, put this matter in hand, I go call at O- House to see how Lady N- does.

I find her in a fine parlour with all her children save Lord U- about her, all in quite the highest of spirits.

O, dear Lady B-, she cries, sitting up and holding out her hands, you find us in the most agreeable exile here.

Lady O- smiles and says to me that sure, the household took the matter very calm, had bedchambers prepar’d &C as if 'twas quite an everyday matter, Mrs Atkins is a pearl of great price.

I smile upon her and the rest of 'em and say, I am glad to see 'em in such spirits.

Why, says the Honble Edward, one is always being exhort’d to show filial reverence &C towards fathers, but when it comes to a father that goes around thieving and the matter coming into low rags of scandal sheets, well, one must think of one’s own good name and the situation of one’s sisters and consider that 'tis a business might go stain us all.

And such pointless thievery too, cries the Honble Geoffrey, for what would he do with a venomous snake? The matter of cuttings and seeds one might comprehend, tho’ 'twas in shocking poor ton.

I say that I apprehend that snakes may have very handsome skins, indeed, lately at Lord R-'s tiffin-party I heard Major S- expatiate upon the subject, saying that tho’ there are many will admire tigers for the elegance of their pelt, tho’ they are quite entire as dangerous as any snake, will not appreciate reptile beauty.

But a live snake with fangs and venom? cries Lady Emily.

'Tis indeed curious, says I, but 'tis give out that 'tis a known eccentricity, that there are those will steal items that they do not need and could well afford, indeed sometimes entire trash.

Lady O- stands up and says, she dares say Mama would like to talk to Lady B- in a little privacy, and sure that is a fine billiard table has lately been set up, and there can be no objection to ladies playing at home with their brothers, so come along and let us have a match.

They leave with very civil remarks.

Dear Lady N-, says I, when they have gone, are you quite sure you feel well enough for company?

O, Lady B-, I do not count you as company, for you are an entire refreshment to my spirits. And, indeed, I hear from my dear Nan that she has begg’d you to call her by her name when you are not in formal company, and should greatly desire that you would call me Hester.

Why, says I, gladly, and you must call me C-.

Such a pretty name, she says.

And, by the way, says I, Mrs F- extends an invitation for Lady Louisa to come spend a few days at R- House with Bess.

O, so very kind, I am sure my little Lou will be quite wild to go. For altho’ 'tis so exceeding agreeable to be out of the gloomy surroundings of N- House – she looks about the very pretty parlour with great appreciation – there is a deal of heavy matter upon hand. For altho’ U- shows a very proper discretion over what he communicates to the other children, he felt it only right to disclose the whole to me, so that I would appreciate the entire propriety of this move.

She frowns and says, a snake, introduc’d to R- House, where I hear one sees the very pretty sight of several infants disporting in the gardens, why, what can he have been thinking?

I sigh and say, that Lady B- is a meddlesome trollop, I daresay. And sure I am quite as curious as our foremother Eve: do I see a fellow I recognize going about in disguise in some part of Town he would not usual frequent, I will go wonder about it.

And this poor creature in Covent Garden! Is there aught one might do?

Why, says I, 'tis give out – as you may know, my housekeeper Dorcas is a woman of most exemplary piety and goes hold Bible-readings and prayer-meetings at an entire respectable coffee-house in those parts, and brings me intelligence of what goes forth – that Mrs Binns is in the way to establish a very promising connexion in the matter of hat-trimming. Perchance, now 'tis seen that she has the matter in her, a little shop might answer.

'Tis no more than he should have done, says she, did he wish terminate their association after so many years without making some settlement. Sure I would not have grudg’d him consolation, when I am unable to be a full wife, but there are proper ways of going about the business.

Of a sudden there is some banging as of carpentry work taking place and I look up startl’d.

O, cries Hester, the Marquess is quite the finest of fellows. He goes to have slopes put in about the house so that I may go about in my invalid chair and not be confin’d to a single room or needing to be carry’d.

That is most exceeding thoughtfull, says I.

He says he saw the like when he was in Brazil - o, 'tis a very fine thing to hear him discourse of his travels, tho’ he will be so modest over 'em – where there was a senora in like case to myself, and her husband had fitt’d out their place thus.

One wishes he would write up his travels, says I, for I confide there would be a deal of interest.

Indeed, she says, I see my boys quite rapt at the accounts he gives.

The door opens and comes in Lord U-. He comes over to kiss his mama and make me a leg.

La, says I, I daresay you have private family matter to discuss, I will be away.

Indeed not, he says, I cannot think of any that has better right to be privy to these matters than you, Lady B-. I confide 'tis entirely due to your note that His Grace made time to convoke with O- and myself today. What an excellent fellow he is – I have ever found him a most amiable fellow in company, but such grasp of matters, such apprehension, I have every confidence that might anyone bring Papa to see the reasonable course, he could.

Did he not us’d to be that very wild young fellow Lord S-? asks Hester.

Sure, says I, was deep in follies in his extreme youth, but pull’d round most remarkable.

Why, Mama, exclaims Lord U-, you know what an excellent lady is Her Grace of M-, and sure he is quite entire devot’d to her, and to their offspring.

Of course, she says. I have been so out of Society. She sighs. But then rallies, and says, do you go fetch Lou so that I may convey to her this kind invitation to go visit at R- House –

An excellent thing! cries Lord U-, I shall go at once.

So shortly afterwards comes Lady Louisa, quite in ecstasy at the thought of going visit Bess, and Lady N- goes ring for Brownlee, so that she may make up a valise and a trunk may be sent the morn. Lady Louisa goes with her, I daresay to make sure that the dresses she desires are sent for her.

I begin to suggest that 'tis entire time I was on my way, must be greatly tiring for dear Hester when she has but lately seen such changes, when comes in Nan with Selina in her arms, saying, this naughty puss jumpt up upon the billiard table as if she desir’d play, and sure one fears for the baize from her claws.

Hester takes her and says, alas, C- is just leaving, mayhap you might show her to the door?

I am pleas’d at this for I had a word or two I wisht to say to Nan.

O, she cries, I have not seen dear Mama so happy this age! And Tony says she may live with us as long as she likes, and we will make the journey to D- Chase very gentle in well-sprung carriages –

'Tis exceeding good in him, says I. But, my dear Nan, 'twould be advizable did you go about leaving cards and making calls – I see her expression and go on, sure 'tis exceeding tiresome, but 'twill do you and your family a deal of good in Society –

O! she exclaims with a little laugh, is this about les convenances?

Precisely so, says I. 'Tis to show you do not hang your head and that you observe these proper usages. And sure you need not undertake it alone, I am sure Her Grace would be entire delight’d did you accompany her, and you may gossip upon the fusties together afterwards. And, I continue, I will go put it about that you and your mama will be receiving callers here, and see can I get Lady T- to come call, for that would do a deal to establish your position.

Lady T-? That looks so fierce? Oh, I should be quite terror-struck!

'Twill do you a deal of good, however, says I. Alas that Lady J- is bound for the Mediterranean.

Runs up Lady Louisa, follow’d by a footman with her valise, entire ready to depart.

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Has digg'd a pit, and is hoist with his own petard

In order not to look particular or give any reason for unwant’d gossip, I go ride my lovely Jezzie-girl in the Park at the fashionable hour. Tho’ I see a number of little groups engag’d in exchanging some fresh on-dit, none turn to look somewhat conscious at myself, so I confide that my own matter remains under the cover of discretion.

I see Lord A- driving Charley B- and go greet 'em, and ask do they go to the Z-s’ rout the e’en? Indeed, says Lord A-, would not miss it for the world, Sir H- ever knows what’s what and ‘twill be a fine affair.

They then go on to speak of the various matters that go on at B- House – sure they proceed a little slowly, but they do not intend go live there until Society begins return to Town in the autumn, all should be in hand by then – and Lord A- adds, there is one chamber rather curious fitt’d out, confides ‘tis a tennis-court. Was not the late Marquess once a most renown’d tennis-player?

I sigh, and say that, by the time of our marriage, was in no condition to pursue such sports, and 'twas not a thing we ever discours’d of. But I daresay there may be a court somewhere about B- House. I confide that Lord R- would certainly know, for they were quite the greatest of friends.

Why, indeed, exclaims Lord A-, R- would of a certainty know. I daresay will be at the Z-s the e’en, shall go ask him then. Sure 'tis a fine game and one that one may play year round.

I ride on and see Mrs O’C- walking without her son, that I daresay is at school. I go greet her and dismount to converse. She says she supposes I will be holding no more soirées until the autumn, and I say that I confide not, I am invit’d out such a deal at present, even tho’ Society begins leave Town.

She says that one may hardly call him Society but Mr O’N- lately took his congé, goes running back to Ireland. She sighs and says, sure he was once the most agreeable of young fellows, but has become a sad feckless creature that hangs out for a wealthy wife. Why, she says, in the manner of one that has made a success in business – as indeed she has, tho’ ‘tis a very curious one – did he go address himself more regular and business-like to his horses, she dares says he might do exceeding well, for he has an excellent eye and a fine hand in schooling, tho’ 'tis a matter to wonder at that his eye somehow fails him when comes to betting on races, that is, she doubts not, why he finds himself in difficulties.

Why, Mrs O’C-, says I with a smile, perchance did you go school him to the bridle, he might come around.

Mrs O’C- laughs and then says, sure that would be a most tedious matter in a marriage. Did she have any mind to remarry, 'twould be a husband that was for a straightforward gallop very occasional. But she cannot like to give her boy a step-father. She adds that they are for Margate as usual this summer, sure he greatly loves Margate.

We take an amiable leave of one another and I turn dear Jezebel towards R- House.

There is sure a great throng at the Z-s the e’en, so at first I do not think anything to the matter do I not immediate lay eyes upon the Marquess and Marchioness of O- and Her Ladyship’s brothers and sister.

I go remark to Lady Z- that I do not see her new cicisbeo - for the Honble Edward M- has been showing most markt attentions – and she smiles and then frowns and says, indeed, she hopes all is well at N- House, for was a note came most apologetick that none of them may come, and the same from O- House. She fears the poor Countess may have taken some adverse turn and thus they do not like to go into company.

Poor lady, says I. (Tho’ I wonder considerable at this, for I have heard nothing.)

But there is a deal of other society and a number of matters wherein I must improve the shining hour in this company and I do not have time to think more upon this.

And sure, then I return to my fine reserv’d chamber at R- House, and none are so tir’d by life in Society that we may not spend some little time in the contemplation of triangles.

’Tis therefore somewhat later than usual when Sophy brings my chocolate, and says, sure there is some to-do the morn but none knows quite what 'tis about.

When I am dresst and go to the family room I find not only my darling Eliza, but also Josiah, Sandy and Milord, that are all in a state of considerable excitement. I desire to be give some coffee and inform’d of what the news may be.

Why, 'tis a most exceeding brangle! says Milord. Should strongly advize that you sit down before we go about recounting the matters to you.

I do as bidden, and drink my coffee, and say, well, then, inform me.

Joisah says, 'tis report’d that Lord N-'s family have all gone quit his roof and depart’d to take up residence at O- House –

What, says I, Lady N- as well?

All of 'em, says Josiah, and have not said why, but must be some serious matter that leads 'em to such a step.

'Tis perchance a business that certain low scurrilous rags may shed some light upon, says Sandy. For there appear pieces that refer to a certain larcenous lord, that has long been rumour’d to be light-finger’d in certain matters to do with hortickulture, but now expands his operations to the ophidian creation. For there is late come to Town a gallant officer of the Hon Company’s Bengal forces with a fine collection of serpents of those parts, has been about the clubs accusing this lord of making off with one of his pets. And indeed 'tis not consider’d an improbable tale, for His Lordship’s eccentricity is widely-known, but was it confin’d to filching flowers, 'twas consider’d no more than that, but does he go be more general in his pilfering, Society may become reluctant to extend invitations to one that may walk off with the spoons, or mayhap some pretty piece of china that lyes about.

And, he continues, there is already in circulation a very badly-drawn print of a fellow that must be taken as the Earl that goes create an Eden of stolen plants, and introduces a snake to make the picture complete.

I look at him and he looks back and shrugs and says, indeed, had nothing whatsoever to do with the matter, Major S- has been going to and fro, and walking up and down, in great indignation telling any that would hearken about the Earl stealing his fine cobra; and indeed the Earl is none so popular a fellow that none would pay attention to such a tale, but would at once themselves recount occasions upon which he had visit’d their hothouses or those of some relative or friend, and 'twas strongly suppos’d that he had taken cuttings or seedlings or bulbs.

Comes a tray with a nice little breakfast for me, and I fall to’t.

Why, says I, hoist with his own petard, is’t not so? Has digg’d a pit, and fallen therein himself. Sure 'tis quite entirely proverbial.

I then go think over matters a little and say, sure, 'twould be entire the civil thing to go call upon Lady N- at O- House: and I daresay I could find out more of the matter concerning this decampment.

None can see any objection to the matter, but then comes a footman saying that the Marquess of O- and Lord U- have call’d and beg a moment of Lady B-‘s time.

Why, says I, taking some more coffee, do you show 'em into the small parlour, and send 'em up some coffee and I will convoke with 'em as soon as maybe.

So I go to the small parlour, where the Marquess and Lord U- are standing with the air of fellows that would desire pace up and down.

How now, says I, I understand that Lord U- has sought sanctuary at O- House for his mother and his brothers and sisters – 'tis quite scandal enough, but there is also a deal of scurrility goes about concerning the stealing of a serpent.

Lord U- sighs deeply and says, sure he feels his father’s conduct justifies this exodus even does one not disclose his murderous intentions, and His Lordship shows most exceeding kind and hospitable in putting 'em up in O- House, but –

Why, says I, let me think on this a little – sure, I go on after a moment’s cogitation, I confide that 'tis now the time to enter into diplomatick negotiations. Would it not serve very well did the Earl go out of the country for some while, until the gossip dyes down and is forgot, tho’ sure I think 'twill take some considerable while, for stealing some fellow’s snake is really quite out of the common.

But, says I, 'twould be prudent to make some provision for the management of his estates in his absence –

He will never agree, says Lord U- very gloomy.

What you require, says I, is one that may act the diplomat and go undertake negotiations as a neutral party that desires bring about concord; mayhap, I go on, you have heard of His Grace of M-'s abilities in that direction?

They look at one another. 'Twould be somewhat of an imposition, says the Marquess, but indeed he is a very fine fellow and 'tis give out has resolv’d a deal of matters that might have come to serious fallings-out or open scandal, and that had his father not dy’d so suddenly, would have advanc’d considerably in the Diplomatick, likely become an ambassador.

Let me, says I, write him a little note advancing your interests in the matter, for we are quite the oldest of friends.

They look at me a little uneasy, and then I confide mind that dear Viola and I are on quite the best of terms, and look somewhat less worry’d.

I sand and seal the note and hand it to the Marquess and say that I purpose come call at O- House the afternoon.

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A trial of an earl before his peers in the Lords must be a very fine thing

'Tis most agreeable to go to O- House for a small dinner-party with good friends, even do I still feel somewhat shaken.

I find occasion to speak privyly to Lord U- and desire him to call upon me the next morn, for I have an exceeding troubling matter to communicate to him, and he declares himself quite entire at my disposal in the matter. I then go on to enquire as to how his mother does, and after his sisters and brothers.

He says that his mother does exceeding well, and he is pleas’d to see his brothers getting into such a good set, and Lou would ever be at R- House with Bess F- was she permitt’d, and Em has a deal of admirers but inclines to none of 'em so far –

Indeed, says I, she is consider’d quite one of the toasts of this Season.

He looks gratify’d.

We then discourse a little of our summer plans, and he sighs and says usually his father will consider it the proper thing to hold a house-party at some time while they are at Monks’ G- but he is still so much in the sulks that does not seem as if he would wish society. But O- has invit’d 'em come stay at D- Chase that would quite be entire Liberty Hall, and sure 'tis a tempting prospect, can they ensure that dear Mama may be of the party, for they would not leave her with Papa does he continue in this grumpy condition.

And, he adds, of course he and his brothers are to go to the very well-spoke of bachelor-party at A-, 'twill be quite the most agreeable thing.

The first course is remov’d and I turn to Biffle, that is at my other side, and say that sure we are quite strangers. He smiles and says indeed we have not contriv’d to have much discourse even have we found ourselves in the same places of late. But sure, now I have engag’d myself to come to their house-party at Q-, perchance we may convoke there, for he is quite sure that Lady B- has a deal of news.

Mayhap! says I.

'Tis all most entire delightfull to be with such friends, and most exceeding soothing to my ruffl’d spirits.

Over the teacups in the drawing-room after the gentlemen have come in, the Marquess says to me in a low voice, does the Earl really filch cuttings when he visits other fellows’ hothouses, or is’t that 'tis suppos’d I now should delight in hearing incivil gossip about him?

Why, says I, 'tis give out by those that are no malicious gossips – Roberts, that is a Methodist lay-preacher o’ Sundays, has had suspicions – but formerly you were consider’d quite his greatest friend and that he was your patron and might even go tittle-tattle to him was you told.

He grimaces and says, sure 'tis a needless matter when most would give him cuttings out of civility or because of his rank.

Quite so, says I, 'tis some strange freak.

He sighs and says, sure one would wish to restore diplomatick relations, but –

Perchance, says I, you should convoke with His Grace, that is greatly esteem’d for diplomacy.

The next morn I am up betimes so that I may be in the small parlour ready to receive Lord U-. Also I have retriev’d the bag containing the snake from the ice-house.

He comes in, makes me a leg, and I ring for coffee to be brought. While we wait we exchange some indifferent converse concerning the dinner-party, and I remark upon how well Lady O- lookt.

He smiles and says, 'tis a happy thing to see, and also how very affectionate the Marquess shows to her.

After the coffee has come and I have pour’d us each a cup, I begin open to Lord U- the reason for summoning him here.

Yesterday, says I, I receiv’d a most unwont’d gift, a snake -

A live snake? cries Lord U-.

Live, and venomous, says I. By great good fortune Josh F-'s mongoose came into the room and dispatcht it most expeditious. The corpse, I add, lyes in that bag there: 'twas a cobra that was stole from Major S-'s snakery -

One hears, says Lord U-, that he has a deal of the creatures and considers 'em quite in the light of pets. But, Lady B-, why would anyone send you a venomous snake?

Indeed, says I, I am not in the condition of Cleopatra, to desire one to send me an asp conceal’d in a basket of figs so that I may cheat the Roman triumph. But, I sigh, I have enemies -

Enemies, Lady B-? You? and then I observe an expression cross his face that I daresay is the recollection of some most incivil remark about me that his father has made. He swallows. Sure, he says, I know Papa remains most extreme put about concerning Nan’s elopement, will not come to reconcile, almost pouts like unto a child in the nursery that has not yet learn’d better, and has been heard to suppose that that sly trollop Lady B- was mixt up in it –

Well, says I, indeed I was, for the Marquess and your sister are my dear friends, and he is not. But, you will recollect that there was a matter of bringing him to see the requirements of good ton in providing for the ladies of his household –

Indeed, says Lord U-, I am still like to suppose that there was more behind that than you would disclose.

'Tis so, says I. I had come to discover quite by chance a matter somewhat discreditable to your father –

- This sneaking business of taking cuttings surreptitious when he goes visit hothouses? –

Indeed, says I, that does him no credit whatsoever, but there was another matter. I pause for a moment and say, sure 'tis not a thing one likes to disclose to a fellow’s son, in particular one that has such a fine fondness for his mother –

Womanizing? exclaims Lord U-. (Sure he is a young fellow of excellent apprehension.)

Why, says I, I do not think keeping one Covent Garden Miss is what is normally consider’d womanizing, demonstrates a certain fidelity, but 'tis what he was about, giving himself out a prosperous middling sort of fellow nam’d Perkins, and maintaining an establishment in those parts, until, taking a pet at having it known, even tho’ I am silent as the grave, goes cast her off and leaves her in penury.

The wretch! cries Lord U-. The poor creature – is there anything one may do to keep her from the poorhouse?

I smile upon him and say, 'tis a concern does him great credit, but I am appriz’d that some benefactor has set her up with the means to establish a connexion in millinery -

Sure, he says with a frown, you know a deal more than one would expect concerning what goes forth in Covent Garden.

O, says I, I have some charitable interests in that area, and my housekeeper Dorcas, that is a very pious Methodist, goes read the Bible and have prayer-meetings with some of the poor creatures there.

But, says I, tho’ I had promis’d silence did he show somewhat more generous towards your mama and sisters, I think that the agreement has been breacht upon his side – indeed, had I expir’d of snakebite, or from any other suspicious cause, my manservant Hector had letters to hand that I had instruct’d should be sent to certain of my acquaintance, for the Earl did look upon me very grim and as if he would be happy to serve me some ill turn – even tho’ I still live, thanks to Josh F-‘s fondness for the animal creation that led him to introduce a mongoose into the household.

But what will you do now? asks Lord U-.

I sigh and say, tho’ I confide that a trial of an earl for attempt’d murder before his peers in the House of Lords must be a very fine and remarkable thing, I take a consideration that 'twould be a very hard thing to prove upon him, and I have no doubt that many imputations would be cast upon my character, and antient scandals rak’d up.

We are silent for a while, and then he says, mayhap he will go convoke with his brother-in-law the Marquess on the matter, for he confides that 'twould only distress Mama to go tell all this to her, and would not lay it upon his brothers, that are yet young and reckless. Sure he would be glad of his godfather’s counsel, but Sir C- F- will be bury’d in Herefordshire at present watching his apple trees bloom.

I am further inclin’d, says I – but you must tell me do you like it not – that did one go spread the intelligence of his covert proceedings in Covent Garden 'twould I daresay become quite gossipt upon, and indeed there are low scurrilous fellows that purvey scandalous matter about Holywell Street would go have prints made with, mayhap, doggerel verse upon the matter compos’d by the low hacks about those parts.

Lord U- purses up his lips and says, sure he cannot say that 'twould be undeserv’d, but has a mind to the more general reputation of the family and thinks that, could it be kept quiet they would be much indebt’d.

Why, says I, I will go keep entire mum, tho’ with a thought that the matter may came out by some other route that I do not have my hand upon.

'Tis entire fair, says Lord U-. But do you provide me with the direction of the unfortunate creature in Covent Garden I shall go discreetly about making some provision.

That is exceeding good of you, says I.

Why, says he, I have some notion of who may be her benefactor.

La, says I, there is some Evangelickal lady goes about in those parts endeavouring to save souls and 'tis suppos’d she aims at preventing Mrs Binns from falling back into sinfull paths.

Lord U- looks at me and his lips twitch and he says, he wonders is the lady what Lord D- would consider theologickally sound, even is she of the Evangelickal persuasion.

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I feel myself no longer oblig’d to keep silence

I go lye down for a little with my stays loosen’d and Docket places slices of cowcumber upon my eyes, 'tis most extreme restfull. Sophy goes tend my hands the while.

After some several hours comes in Eliza to say that Mr MacD- is come in and looks exceeding fierce.

O, says I, sitting up and removing the cowcumber slices, I shall be down once I am decently clad.

I go down to the small parlour, where I find tea and some sandwiches; sure, I now find myself a little hungry.

Sandy is pacing up and down and swearing beneath his breath in what I take to be Scots.

Well, my dear, says I, pouring myself some tea and taking a sandwich, you may tell me your news.

He sits down and says, sure 'tis an eccentricity in Major S- to keep so many snakes about him, but he takes considerable measures to keep 'em secure, if only so that the servants may be reassur’d and not leave in a body. At his lodgings has a large chamber with a stout door and fine lock in which he has a set of glass-sid’d tanks, such as one will sometimes see fancy fish kept in, with tops that he may slide off in order to convey sustenance to his pets, keep 'em clean &C. For which task he prudently wears very stout leather gauntlets, for he says that they will strike does somewhat startle 'em.

But one may see that 'twould not be possible for a snake to escape unless there was some great carelessness, and he would not entrust the matter to any but himself.

Anyhow, I show’d him the corpse, at which he tutt’d and said 'twas indeed a cobra, the like of one that he had himself, a particular kind, and lookt it over very carefull and frown’d and said something concerning the distinctive markings, and then offer’d take me into his snakery.

And indeed 'tis very secure, keeps the keys about him, an exceeding stout door, construct’d so that even did a snake contrive to escape from its tank, could not get under it. And inside there are these tanks containing his serpentine favourites along with a couple of cages of white mice, that serve as their diet -

- Let us, says I, by no means communicate that particular matter to Josh -

- Indeed not. And he show’d me the tanks, that are very cunningly made, thick glass, lids that will slide open, and took me over to the one that had these particular cobras in, and lookt in and said, bless my soul, there is one missing. And then put on his gauntlets and open’d the lid a little and felt about – for there are rocks and branches within for the snakes to twine about, and do they remain very still are very much like rocks or branches themselves – and said, no, 'tis not one that looks a deal like one of mine, 'tis the exact same one.

And then we lookt at one another and he made a puzzl’d face and says, someone must have took it, but he cannot suppose that any of the servants – for they will not even go near the door unless they have to –

So I said, does he not have visitors from among the cognoscenti, that take a scientifick and philosophickal interest in ophidians; to which he frown’d, and then reply’d that sure it must have been since their last feeding, for surely he would have notic’d at that time, and they only require to be fed once of a se’ennight at the most. The only recent visitor he had was the Earl of N-, at which he was a little surpriz’d, for he thought the fellow only interest’d in the vegetable creation: but display’d a considerable desire to see the snakes, and was most interest’d in which were venomous and the degrees of venom – for, he add’d, there are some that crush their prey in their coils rather than by biting – sure, says Sandy, 'twas quite an education in the matter –

I raise my eyebrows at him somewhat and say, I am glad that he enlarges his understanding of reptiles, but should be exceeding gratefull did he come at the point, supposing there be one.

But, he goes on, I said that I presum’d he would not leave guests alone there. And he said, indeed 'twas not his practice, but that there was some matter he was momentarily call’d away for while the Earl was there, could not have been above a minute or two.

At this moment breaks in upon Sandy’s recital Josiah, in a quite towering rage, saying, what is this he hears about venomous snakes and mongooses?

So I tell him what happen’d the morn, and he says, what villain is this?

Why, says Sandy, the finger of suspicion at present points to the Earl of N-, but that I am not sure how he would contrive to carry away a serpent without Major S- seeing what he was about.

Hah, says I, a fellow that is give out to filch cuttings from other folks’ hothouses doubtless has light fingers that a common pickpocket would envy –

Josiah gives a start and says, we will recall the wild ways of his youth, and he is mind’d of the certain secret inner pockets in poachers’ jackets, and perchance, given the Earl’s larcenous habits, he has somewhat similar in his garments.

But, says I, a snake? Would it not bite?

Sandy looks thoughtfull and says, Major S- will say quite early on in his recital about his pets, of which the burden is that they are not as dangerous as one may suppose, that does one pick 'em up just behind the head they cannot strike at the hand that holds 'em; and did the Earl go there with some intention I daresay he would have provid’d himself with a stout leather bag or some such.

And then we all three look about at one another and I say, but I doubt could be prov’d upon him, ‘tis entire supposition.

Circumstantial evidence, says Sandy. I do not think 'twill make a strong enough thread to tye him up.

We all sigh. They look at me a little worry’d, and Sandy says, perchance did we bring Matt Johnson into our counsels he might come at some way to lay this to His Lordship’s account?

And then I sigh. Sure may not be proof enough for the courts of law, I should greatly dislike to try and bring it before a magistrate, 'tis all too like unto some Gothick tale -

Sandy says, he has some notion that as 'twould be a matter of a jury of his peers, the Earl would be arraign’d before the House of Lords -

- but 'tis proof enough for me. And the Earl is a fool does he suppose I did not have anything in store did some unusual accident come to me. Hector had letters to give out in such case. And I feel myself now no longer oblig’d to keep silence.

But, says I, this e’en I go dine at O- House and Lord U- is, I confide, to be of the company, and I may solicit him to a private interview, for he is a young man of excellent sense and sound intentions.

You will go out to dine? cries Josiah. Are you in any condition to go out? Sure you should go rest and recover yourself.

O, fiddlesticks, says I. I have rest’d already, do I stay at home I shall only go fret. And, o, I cry, as a thought takes me, do you still have the dead snake about you, Mr MacD-?

Sandy raises his eyebrows and says it perchances that he does, for he considers it in the light of evidence.

Then, says I, I would advize that you go ask Seraphine may you place it in the ice-house, 'twill go somewhat to preserve it from decay.

'Tis prudent, says Josiah, but will it not alarm any of the kitchenmaids that go there?

One might leave it in the bag, says I, and mayhap not mention what 'tis.

But, says Josiah, what is this matter that you had in store concerning the Earl? For indeed I think many of your friends have been inclin’d to suppose that you had somewhat to do with a late elopement, but is there some other dealing you have had with him?

He and Sandy both look at me somewhat speculative.

Why, says I, permit me to put suspicious minds at rest: there have never been any passages 'twixt the Earl and myself. But indeed I found out some matter not like to do any good to his reputation, but I decid’d that 'twould do better to trade my silence in the matter for his better behaviour towards the Countess and his daughters, the penny-pinching wretch.

Oh, says Sandy, and that is why Lady Anna and Lady Emily ceas’d to be the titter’d-at dowds of the Season and instead became most envy’d for being in quite the crack of fashion? And Lady N- goes about in a crack invalid carriage?

Precisely, says I.

And may we know, asks Josiah, what this disreputable matter was? Sure filching cuttings is poor ton –

Indeed 'tis, says I, does him no credit at all, but the matter I quite perchance came at was that he was, under the name of Perkins and presenting himself as a middling prosperous fellow, keeping a Covent Garden Miss very clandestine. That he has now, I go on, thrown over and left pennyless.

They both go roll their eyes. Sandy remarks that sure, one could make a deal of coarse jokes upon the fam’d amateur of hortickulture that cultivates a fallen blossom, would make a pretty Holywell Street print –

’Twas indeed my thought, says I, and the Earl is not the most popular of fellows, respect’d enough but not much lik’d.

Why, says Josiah, one may see why he may bear some grudge against the lovely Lady B-, but indeed 'tis taking the matter entire too far to resort to assassination –

- And by so clumsy a device, interjects Sandy –

Quite so, says I, and I will not take the matter meekly.

Dearest of C-s, says Josiah with an anxious expression, I beg you to be cautious in this matter.

O, says I, surely you are appriz’d that you may count upon my prudence and discretion?

They sigh deeply.

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PSA from your amanuensis

Volume the Ninth now available for your collated reading enjoyment. Any particular appreciation may be expresst in the usual manner by way of PayPal.

Your amanuensis also wishes to mention that we are fast coming to the end of yet another volume. However, as there are several matters that remain unresolved, and upon which there is speculation, it is hoped that another volume of these memoirs may surface in due course.

Work proceeds apace upon the task of editing these memoirs with a view to a wider audience.

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An exceeding careless method of assassination

Sure, my dearest, says I, you should open a school for young ladies that go marry into the responsibilities of a large household, 'twould be quite as usefull as deportment and dancing and whatever matters are taught at fine schools for young ladies.

Perchance! says Eliza. And anyway, neither Lady O- nor Miss B- were sent to school: had governesses so I am told. And a lady of any intelligence could surely contrive to pick up the matter – look at Her Grace.

I wonder, says I, how much she undertakes in the matter: for His Grace will say, when Lord T- goes praise up the importance of having a fine politickal secretary, that some fellows will marry a lady that serves exceeding well in that capacity, tho’ so not to seem as if he boasts on his own wife, will speak of Susannah W-.

One must collect, says Eliza, that the M- establishments have been under the hand of Lady J- and have good practices; sure once there are good practices, does not take all day for a lady to keep her hand upon the household.

Quite so, says I, for here is my darling that becomes quite as necessary to the Grand Turk’s politickal career as she ever is to his ironworks, and has the R- House households running like clockwork that only need a little winding once a day.

My dearest love blushes and tells me that I am a flattering weasel C-.

So, says I, will you go instruct the young Marchioness?

Of a surety: a nice young creature, and the Marquess is like to become entire part of our coterie, so 'tis felicity maximiz’d all around I daresay.

Why, says I, I will go write her at once, and I have some other agreeable letters to be about: have had a fine bundle from Hampshire: Phoebe is exceeding delight’d to be there, Mr de C- goes paint little Deborah, Martha has extreme fine hens that lay a deal of double-yolkt eggs, and the V-s go visit as well in order to see the rare orchids &C in the flower line there.

Eliza smiles and says, a deal more agreeable than the orphanage ladies.

So I go to the small parlour and open my traveling desk, and commence about my correspondence with more chear than usual because the letters I write are such pleasing matter. 'Tis in particular agreeable that Mrs V- has expresst how romantick she finds this tale concerning the Marquess: sure she should have consider’d her own knowledge of his excellent character rather than the tongues of scandal.

As I am about this delightfull task, comes a footman with a parcel for me. I sigh, for I daresay 'tis yet more samples of china or some such. I desire him to place it upon one of the low tables, for I am in no haste to go inspect it and had rather finish my letters first.

At length I look up from this task, having sand’d and seal’d ‘em all ready to go be post’d.

The parcel still sits upon the table. I go pick it up and look at it to see is there any sign of the sender, but 'tis an entire blank. Feels somewhat curious in my hands, as if the weight of it shifts about: perchance ‘tis some piece of china that has broke and the pieces rattle around. 'Tis no encouraging sign of the purveyor’s quality, can he not ensure that the goods are packt securely.

I begin about untying the string and unwrapping the paper to find the box within. I start to open the lid, and comes pouring out a serpent.

I stagger back, and then hold extreme still, for I have heard that their eyesight is poor, and unless they see movement, may not strike.

It raises up its head – 'tis one of those hood’d kind –

And the door of the room begins to open.

Stay out! I cry, and see the snake’s head start to turn towards me.

But comes in at the door the mongoose, that seeing its traditional adversary, puffs up its tail, rises upon its hinder legs, and lets out a chittering cry that I daresay is a challenge.

And is follow’d by Josh.

I dart across to the door – the snake is already about turning its attention upon the mongoose – quite thrust Josh back past the door and push myself after him, slam the door shut and lean against it. And then mind that a snake may contrive to creep under it, so pull Josh away and move away myself.

A snake, says I, panting somewhat, I confide 'tis a venomous kind.

O! cries Josh, and the mongoose goes fight it, o, prime. He shows a disposition to go peer thro’ the keyhole to observe the match but I pull him back.

Josh F-! says I. 'Tis not always the mongoose that triumphs, and I had rather not have to be oblig'd go suck venom from the wound did the snake bite you.

Oh, says he. Should I go fetch someone?

Go tell your mother, says I, while looking about me for somewhat that I might use did the snake endeavour escape.

He goes, looking rather pale, and I pull at one of the standing candle-holders, that mayhap I might contrive to push over so that it fell upon the serpent, that would hinder it if not crush it entirely.

I am standing beside the door holding this weapon when comes up Eliza with two footmen holding fire-tongs.

Well, how now, here’s an ado! says she. 'Tis still in the room?

I nod.

She puts her ear to the door, and says, she confides she hears the mongoose go chatter, then falls to her knees so she may look through the keyhole – sure she is braver by far than I.

Hah! says she. The mongoose goes dance about the room, I confide has won the fight and celebrates its victory. Very cautious she goes open the door and looks in. And, says she, there is a snake upon the floor that looks exceeding dead.

The footmen go in and one of them very cautious picks up the snake in his tongs. It hangs entire limp. The mongoose goes, one may suppose, jeer at it.

The footman turns to Mrs F- and says, should they dispose of it.

I lean against the wall with my legs a-tremble and say, no, 'tis a mystery where it came from that we need resolve, and the corpse may prove material.

Lady B-, says Eliza, you should sit down at once and put your head between your knees before you faint.

Indeed I do not protest.

She dispatches one of the footmen to be about fetching brandy, and tells the other to go over to the west wing to see if Mr MacD- be there, and if so, tell him 'tis a matter of urgency.

I go sit plump down and put my head between my knees until I feel that I shall not go swoon away, while Eliza goes examine the box.

Only one snake, at least, she says.

Comes the footman with brandy, follow’d by Josh that goes make much of the mongoose and feeds it treats. He sighs a little and says he wishes he might have watcht.

I see Eliza in some mind to rebuke him for this curiosity, and then consider that we owe a deal to the mongoose. But nonetheless she tells Josh to run off to the schoolroom.

I am sipping of brandy when comes Sandy in a state of considerable agitation. What is this about a snake? he asks. Did it come in from the garden?

'Tis not, says I, tho’ I have made no great study of the matter, any serpent native to this soil.

I wave at where the dead snake lyes and Sandy goes scrutinize it. Indeed, says he, I confide 'tis what they call a cobra, that is found in India. I cannot, he adds, suppose that there are a deal of these around Town. 'Tis not like parrots or mongooses or monkeys that sailors may bring in to sell as pets. I wonder, he continues, whether Major S- might know about it. Do you provide me with somewhat I may carry it in, I will go visit him and ask.

While Eliza goes about this, he stands staring down at the snake with an expression as of John Knox encountering the serpent of Eve’s temptation.

Sure, he says at length, 'tis an exceeding careless method of assassination compar’d to a stiletto. For altho’ 'twas, we must confide, aim’d at you, dear sibyl, the package might have been open’d by some servant; or after had attackt you, might have run loose about the house or got into the garden –

I take a rather larger mouthfull of brandy.

We must suppose, goes on Sandy, that there was an desire for action at a distance.

What, says I, are there no Italian assassins to be hir’d? Fellows that might shoot me in the street?

Why, does one hire an assassin, there is a fellow has knowledge of somewhat that the fellow who commission’d him would, one must dare say, rather have not known.

True, says I. One may also consider, that even is there no demand for continu’d reward for keeping silence, cannot come cheap to hire an assassin.

We look very thoughtfull at one another.

Sure, says I, may be that I am being entirely the author of horrid tales on most unlikely matters, but there is a certain nobleman, bears me considerable resentment – no, Mr MacD-, not for the reason that I have been wont to find fellows bearing resentment, as in the instance of the late Mr O’C- - and is also not’d for his extreme carefullness with his gold. But perchance I misjudge him.

Comes Eliza with a bag that she confides will keep the snake secure and hidden while being borne about the streets. We go convey the corpse into the bag with the tongs, and Sandy says he will be about convoking with Major S- about the matter.

After he goes Eliza comes sit upon the arm of my chair, puts her arm around me and rests her face against my hair. O my darling, she says, her voice shaking, 'twas a very bad thing.

Indeed, says I, 'twas unforgiveable. (For I think of the children and in particular my darling Flora.)

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Mrs F- would be entire delight’d to convey her wisdom

Agnes S- comes to Eliza and myself as we sit in the family room exchanging impressions and gossip after the tiffin-party – did not the Honble Edward M- seem very taken with Lady Z-? – and says, has been most exceeding agreeable staying here, but she feels that she should return to P- House.

She does not look entirely glad to be doing so but I confide considers that 'tis the proper sisterly thing.

Why, says Eliza, we shall be sorry to lose you, for you have become quite the greatest favourite within the family, but indeed, I daresay your sister will be missing you.

Agnes S- looks a little tearfull and says, sure, everyone here is so kind and pleasant, such excellent company, and she hopes that she may go ride with the girls some time in the Park, and mayhap come undertake some chymical experiments, and Josh has said that when the baby dormice are able to leave their mother I may have one of 'em –

- Eliza and I look entire doating -

- and, o, in time perchance little Arthur might come join the nursery set?

Eliza remarks that 'twould be quite the finest thing could he so, tho’ she is not sure their theologickal principles are what Lord D- would approve of, from what she has heard of Quintus’s fine sermons at the funerals of the mice and birds that Mittens goes slaughter.

Miss S- is brought to laughter at this. They are a fine set, she says.

So 'tis sadly not long after that Sophy comes and makes her dip and says Miss S-'s trunks are all packt and she is having them convey’d to the carriage.

Agnes S- looks tearfull once more, but then smiles at Sophy and thanks her very heartyly, says she hopes that she suffers no ill-effects from that wretch that assail’d her in Cheapside, and conveys to her what I confide is an exceeding generous compliment.

We exchange very warm farewells and she leaves us.

My darling and I look at one another and sigh. Well, says Eliza, can you not be about finding her a suitable husband?

Sure, says I, I know not why all suppose I may contrive miracles and conjure up fine husbands that are not sneaking fortune-hunters and will appreciate her fine qualities of character and think it a very excellent matter that she writes poetry –

Indeed, says Eliza, I see that 'tis somewhat of a task.

'Tis so, says I.

Comes peeking into the room to see what’s ado, the mongoose, close follow’d by Josh, that is a little put about that he did not get the chance to say his own farewells to Agnes S- and conduct her to make a formal congé of the menagerie, because Mr McN- was about giving him some classickal tuition.

Oh, says Josh, was there not a fellow at His Lordship’s tiffin-party that was give out to have a deal of snakes? Would it not be a prime thing could one be set to fight with the mongoose?

I fancy, says I, that Major S-, that I apprehend to be the gentlemen in the question, is such an admirer of the serpentine creation that I would dare say he has quite the lowest opinion of mongooses – mongeese? – and would not concede to any such thing.

Josh sighs. (I am a little amuz’d that one that will express such antipathy to matters as badger-baiting and dog-fighting takes such a desire to see the mongoose in combat: but I do not think his fondness for the animal creation extends to snakes, that are indeed somewhat of a special taste.)

I am entire happy to be with my dear ones and their family. The work upon my new premises proceeds apace, 'tis most agreeable to hear, even tho’ the work on my library was put back somewhat by the diversion of the carpenters to O- House to fit out a dressing-room for Lady O-.

I am still being deliver’d a deal of solicitations for my attention to matters of china, plate, table-linen, &C, and the small parlour has become the place in which I keep these, where 'tis less likely than in the family room that small fingers will go poke about and mayhap break things. There is an exceeding pretty tea-set suit’d to dolls that demonstrates in miniature the fine craft of the maker, that I quite long to see my darling Flora play with, but perchance should be put by for a few years until she may play with it with due care.

Thus it perchances that one morn I am about looking at this bounty and endeavouring to decide which showrooms I should go visit – for assur’dly I may not visit 'em all do I wish to get my fine new dining room fitt’d out any time this present year – when is announc’d to me Lady O-, that I am most exceeding glad to see.

She shows no formal manner but comes embrace and kiss me and say sure I am quite the architect of their entire happyness, how may they ever recompense me, &C&C; also she is quite entire delight’d with Lorimer -

Indeed, says I, stepping back a little so that I may take in how she is dresst, she has a very nice way with her.

Of course, says Lady O-, I shall have a deal of fittings at Mamzelle Bridgette’s and so forth.

And you are also quite entire delight’d with your lawfull wedd’d spouse? I ask with a smile.

She gives a deep happy sigh and says, oh, he is quite the finest of fellows, I am a most fortunate woman. And then she gives a naughty grin and says, and sure, when dear Tony discourses to me of plants, 'tis most exceeding agreeable, not that Papa ever thought his daughters worth talking to upon such a subject.

And then she gives a less happy sigh and says, Papa still has not come round – sure I may sneak in to N- House so that I may visit dear Mama, but he still refuses receive us, tis exceeding worrying.

Why, says I, 'tis in the way of things that gentlemen are like to take pets are their wishes thwart’d, in particular are they made to look foolish besides. But I daresay he may eventually come into a better frame of mind.

She does not look entire hopefull that this may come about, says that altho’ he is oblig’d to have dealings concerning her portion &C, 'tis all conduct’d via that fusty fellow Fosticue the attorney.

Indeed, dear Lady O-, says I, I confide it pains him considerable that he may not cut you off without a shilling for disobeying his wishes, but you are of age, have marry’d into rank, 'twould be more of a scandal to endeavour withhold it. Also going to law is an exceeding costly business.

She laughs and says, there is one thing she would desire, I have been such a friend to 'em, must we be so stiff and formal and will I not call her Nan as her family and friends do? At least when we are not in company where we must observe les convenances - sure she is little enough acquaint’d with those –

I should advize, says I, to go lesson yourself with Her Grace of M-, that is already your great friend. But, my dear, do I go call you Nan, you must do likewise and call me C-.

Oh, she says blushing greatly, that is exceeding kind of you. But might you not instruct me in the ways of Society?

Why, says I, I confide that my situation is rather different from that of a young lady just marry’d, and that the Duchess has been in a like position – and was not born in the purple so was oblig’d to study upon the conduct proper to her station, with the advice of Lady J- -

Nan shivers and says, sure one knows that Lady J- is a most estimable lady but indeed, I should not like to have to go ask her to her face.

Has not Lady J-, says I, become quite the romantick heroine? And even tho’ the Admiral is a fellow well-regard’d for his gallantry in warfare, and now has a tidy property, there are those were a little scandaliz’d that a Duke’s sister would stoop - for he is of no great birth.

Even so, she says with a smile, and even tho’ Miss A- will speak so well of her, I ever feel she regards me as an ill-conduct’d creature.

Why, says I, 'tis a most admirable thing I have observ’d in Lady J-, that she will concede to change her mind: do you go enquire of Her Grace I confide she will tell you the like.

Nan pulls a little face and says, well, mayhap she will speak to Her Grace, that all agree is quite the finest model for young ladies. But, she goes on, I forget the matter that dear Tony taskt me with, that was to say that he purposes a small dinner party at O- House, entirely good friends such as yourself and His and Her Grace, dear U- - is he not the finest brother a lady might have? – and mayhap Sir B- and Lady W-, and would greatly desire your company.

Why, 'tis most exceeding civil, says I. Sure I am bid about to a deal of Society occasions, but 'tis come the time when some already begin leave Town and go to their estates and I need no longer contrive to be in two places at once of an e’en so as not to show myself haughty. And indeed 'twould be entire congenial to dine at O- House in such company, and to see how Arabella comes along so that I may report to Seraphine.

There was one other thing, she says, casting down her eyes. Mrs Atkins is most extreme kind to my ignorance, but Charley was telling me how most exceeding helpfull 'twas to have some converse with Mrs F- on matters of housekeeping in a large establishment, and sure I am very ill-instruct’d in such matters, for I was a heedless creature that did not attend when dear Mama went about to give us some notions in the business, when her health permitt’d –

My dear Nan, says I, I confide that Mrs F- would be entire delight’d to convey her wisdom to you.

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Major S- declares that snakes have an undeserv'dly ill reputation

Sure there are enough matters ado at R- House the while to occupy Agnes S-'s mind and keep her from brooding overmuch upon her sister, that she goes visit daily and says remains well in body and recovering health, but still seems lower’d in spirits.

(I hope that Lady P- does not go recount to her her deal of shocking tales concerning ills that come to children, that is what she will converse of as a variation from horrid obstetrickal tales. 'Twould lower anyone’s spirits.)

Eliza or I ever accompany her when she visits, so that we may distract Lady P-, or go converse with Lord D-, that I think has come into some theologickal tangle concerning the pains of childbirth, for there is his sweet innocent Theodora, quite the least sinfull of women and always concern’d to do good, suffer’d so exceeding. And he know that 'tis in the Bible concerning the initial sin of Eve, but –

I say, but have you not consider’d that even the brute creation goes travail to bring forth young (for sure, both Lord and Lady P- will discourse of the matter as it comes to cows even over the dinner-table) and that 'tis somewhat in the way of nature? But, I go on, seeing his somewhat shockt expression, I am an uneducat’d creature that did not even have the benefit of a Sunday School.

He says gloomyly that education will oft lead fellows astray. Sure Mr H- is a fine surgeon and the most expert of man-midwives, but he doubts not from things he says that he is a Deist if not an entire freethinker. (He may not have said so to Lord D-, but has expresst to me that one that had study’d anatomy might have made a better job of creation, for there are improvements might be made.)

Why, 'tis common among his profession, says I. But, Lord D-, do you purpose to come to the R- House tiffin-party? Pray, do not scowl at me so: meseems that 'twould be most entirely sanitive for you to go out and about a little and mingle in company, not at all a matter of self-indulgence. And I daresay you would come back with matter that you might talk of to Lady D- concerning the world outside her lying-in chamber, that would also be exceeding healthfull.

Well - , he says in considering tones, do you put it thus –

Why, then, says I, we shall hope to see you there. Is the weather fine, there is some thought of holding it upon the terrace, for the gardens are showing most exceedingly at present.

I succeed in obtaining his acceptance of the invitation, just as Agnes S- comes into the drawing-room.

We take our leave. In the carriage Agnes S- says that Dora seems a deal better in health but still somewhat mopish.

I say somewhat to the effect that Lady P-'s conversation would make Wellington mopish, 'tis quite the reverse of chearing even does she rehearse it in such hearty tones.

Miss S- covers her mouth with her hand, and then says, indeed 'tis so, cannot be good for poor Dora.

Indeed I think she means kindly, says I.

Sure, says Miss S-, she is exceeding good-natur’d. And then sighs.

But indeed I think she is somewhat distract’d, if not chear’d, by the matter of the drawing-room meeting and being desir’d by Meg to advize upon what she should play, making out cards for the raffle, &C.

The occasion itself is most exceeding successfull: sure there are a deal of ladies that desire see inside R- House, and even tho’ there is a larger room than my own pretty reception chamber to hold it in, 'tis well fill’d.

There is musick from Meg and from Mrs O- B- and her daughters, I read the extracts from Mr Atkins’s letter and further intelligence upon the work of the T-s in New South Wales, there is a most exceeding fine spread from Seraphine’s kitchens, the raffle goes well, and there is a very substantial collection.

I would be a little surpriz’d at the absence of Mrs D- that is the mother of Danvers D-, but has sent a little note to say that Miss R- is brought to bed and she goes be with her in place of her own mother. 'Tis a very kind thought, will also allow her to soothe Danvers D-'s concern that I am sure will be exceeding great.

Lady J- comes up to me and says that she would desire conclave at some time before she sails for the Mediterranean. Why, says I, I am at home to particular friends of a forenoon in the small parlour here, did you care to call. We may be entire private (for I daresay this is about the dear Admiral’s tastes).

She looks considering and says, sure she has a deal on hand at the moment to put matters in order before she departs, might she call the morn of the day His Lordship gives his tiffin-party?

Why, says I, 'tis entire answerable.

So on that morn she comes call upon me, and a footman brings us some of Seraphine’s excellent coffee and some fine biscuits, and I say to her, I have already prevail’d upon Seraphine to provide me with some pots of preserves and pickles and a particular sauce that the Admiral relishes, that she may take with her.

That is exceeding kind, she says, sure I know I am a curious kind of wife but I can at least study upon what will give my lawfull spouse pleasure -

She pauses, and I am like to suppose she thinks upon those pleasures that are lawfull within marriage –

She swallows and puts on a determin’d face and says, she would greatly desire that he did not think that she merely consider’d him as a means to increase -

Why, dear Lady J-, I confide that you have already discover’d that the Admiral is not a fellow that desires merely wifely submission -

There is a little colour in her cheeks as she says, so she discover’d –

- and what delights him is mutual pleasures and equal passion. (For does she wonder does the dear Admiral have any special pleasure, sure I have never found it out, beyond this quite admirable taste in amorous proceedings.)

O, she says, with an increas’d blush and the beginnings of a smile, sure I think I can come at that, tho’ 'tis a thing I never suppos’d I should like.

I am very pleas’d to hear it, says I.

She gives herself a little shake, and says, she purposes call at the estate on her way to Portsmouth, and dares say I know that Mr and Mrs de C- go make a visit there, with the intention that Mrs de C- may lye in in those healthfull surroundings.

Indeed, says I, Phoebe disclos’d this plan to me, a most excellent thing, and 'tis no great distance, she may readyly summon Mrs Black when the time comes. 'Tis exceeding kind in the S-s to invite ‘em.

Oh, dear Martha will cry that ’tis little enough after Mrs de C-'s most exemplary generosity last year.

O, says I, I am entire delight’d that they find the place so agreeable and that it answers for 'em so exceedingly, but sure one misses their company in Town.

But, I go on, I confide that we have been talking long enough that the tiffin-party must be gathering. I will, I continue, get one of the footmen to put this parcel in your carriage against your departure.

She stands and says, she will go join the company, and is quite infinite oblig’d to you, Lady B-, takes my hands and kisses me upon the cheek.

I am already dresst in the gown Docket had pickt out as suit’d to the occasion – 'tis quite warm enough the day for me to wear a fine muslin – but I go upstairs to my dressing-room so that she may fasten my fine pearls around my neck and secure a very pretty hat upon my head.

'Tis indeed a fine enough day that the party may take place upon the terrace of the west wing, that provides such a fine vista over the gardens.

There is already a deal of company arriv’d, and a fine table is spread as well as footmen going about with platters of currie-puffs and savoury fritters, cooling drinks, &C.

I see Sir B- W- talking to Lord D-, I daresay rallying him by discoursing of the joys of fatherhood.

I also see that the Marquess and Marchioness of O- are of the company, and I go up to greet them. Lady O-, as we must now style her, is looking quite entire radiant and makes most effusive towards me, desires that I will go visit 'em at D- Chase during the summer, they are in hopes to have an entire family party there. The Marquess looks on exceeding fond.

He then looks round and says, is that not S-, of the Bengal service? I heard he was come to Town along with his serpents -

Serpents? Says Lady O- with a frown, looking around as if they may be sliding about our feet.

O, says the Marquess, I do not suppose he brings his pets into company, but is a fellow that has took advantage of being in a place where there are a deal of 'em, to study snakes, that he declares have a very ill reputation that he doubts is deserv’d, are meek shy creatures that will hasten away if disturb’d, only bite when provokt, 'tis entire a matter of knowing how to deal with 'em.

So, says I, I have heard those with vicious dogs declare that they are quite the best of creatures, loyal, devot’d, will only attack evil-doers; one must suppose that they have some unusual ability at sniffing out evil in the most benign of hearts, for 'twill appear to any but their masters that they attack quite willy-nilly.

The Marquess laughs and says, indeed he is somewhat of the same opinion himself, and that he confides that snakes are touchy creatures that are like those fellows that are always seeing some insult.

I say that I am like to think 'twas after he had left Town that Josh F- acquir’d a mongoose -

I look about and observe that that exceeding curious creature has come see what is this ado.

Josh comes running out to pick it up and take it away.

The Marquess laughs and says doubtless it hears the discourse of snakes and hop’d to join battle.

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Sure I am quite a paragon of good taste

So 'tis that the following morn, I go call at O- House and desire to speak to Mrs Atkins.

I find, when I am admitt’d to the housekeeper's room, that Arabella, that has gone to D- Chase to oversee the kitchens there while the Marquess is in residence, has already writ to her to desire to get in hand certain matters of kitchen supplies against His Lordship’s return and thus she already has the business of ensuring that the house is quite entire ready well under hand.

However, she has a few questions that she is eager address to me about Her Ladyship’s quarters, and where they should put her maid. We therefore go and consider over which is the finest bedchamber that also has an antechamber best suit’d to serve as a dressing-room.

Once these decisions have been made, I go write a little note to Hector, desiring him to send shortly to O- House the carpenters that at present fit out my library, in order that they may put in the necessary presses, dressing-table, &C that the dressing-room will require, noting that also a pier-glass will be requir’d; and dispatch it by one of the O- House footmen.

After all this matter has been conclud’d, I ask her whether she would be so kind as to permit me to copy out some passages from her husband’s letter concerning the work of the T-s in New South Wales, so that I might include it in a pamphlet, and also, does she have no objections, might read 'em out at the drawing-room meeting I hold in aid of their work.

O, she says, somewhat tearfull, she is sure that he would be entire delight’d to be of such assistance in their fine work. So I sit down and copy out some fine extracts praising the T-s and the very salutary effect their endeavours have upon those that were in entire despair at having been transport’d to the distant ends of the earth.

We then have a very amiable tea-drinking and I say that I am in hopes of finding a woman of considerable experience to prefer to the place of lady’s maid, that might, do I find that the one I have in sight answers, most usefull come into residence shortly and advize upon the matters of the dressing-room &C.

She says that she apprehends that Her Ladyship is quite a young lady? Indeed, says I, and I confide has not had a deal of housekeeping experience, but I am sure that you will be able to provide any help she requires while she is learning the ropes. A fine young woman with an excellent heart.

We part with excellent good feeling on both sides, and I return to R- House, where I partake of a fine nuncheon with my dearest Eliza, Agnes S-, the dear girls and Miss N.

As the lady whose interest has been advanc’d to me by Mrs P- and Miss W- for the post of Lady O-'s maid lodges in that suburban part wherein Mr L- edits his newspaper, we take advantage of my going there with Docket to convoke with her to take with us Miss N-, Bess and Meg and Miss S-, to undertake a most exceeding educational excursion to his press.

'Tis an exceeding pretty place and one cannot wonder that there are those would prefer reside there out of the smoke of Town when 'tis so convenient close. We leave Miss N- and her party at the printing-works, saying we will call back later, and go on to where Mrs Lorimer lodges.

She admits us to her rooms, that, tho’ small, are clean and tidy, and we observe her to be a woman of a little under Docket’s own years. She appears a little over-aw’d, tho’ I know not whether this be because of my rank, or because of Docket, that is so fam’d in her profession.

She offers us tea, and we go sit and converse.

She was marry’d to a fellow that was doing exceeding well in the haberdashery line, kept a shop that is now under the hand of their son. At the mention of her son she goes sigh, and say, has marry’d a young lady that is entire business-like and a good housekeeper, but she and I cannot be in the same house without we jar upon one another. And my daughters are good dutyfull girls but they are in service, do not yet have their own households in which I might reside.

And sure, she goes on, I am none so old that I desire to do naught but eat the bread of idleness, even might I afford to do so, would wish to have occupation. Tho’ sure 'tis some while since I was in service myself, I go keep up with the modes by consulting La Belle Assemblée &C at the circulating library. And there is a lady writes pieces in the local paper, under the style of Sheba, that give one a very fine notion of what is in style, even does she write for the wives of the fellows that live in this place, that will not have more than mayhap one new gown in a season, and must go make over and refurbish &C.

Docket and I look at one another with private smiles.

Docket goes interrogate her on some several matters to do with their mysteries. She then gives a little nod, and says, 'tis well. Sure you might go lesson yourself a little with M. Lavalle, the hairdresser – sure he is no more French than I am, but has the matter in him – and Her Ladyship the Marchioness of O- already has the entrée at Mamzelle Bridgette’s. She turns to me and says that My Ladyship has been well-adviz’d and that Lorimer should do very excellent.

Does she, she goes on, come bring her boxes with her to O- House, 'twould be entire her own pleasure to take her around and make introductions.

Mrs Lorimer looks a little daunt’d by this sudden advancement, but nods and says that she is most entire oblig’d for this preference.

Once we are back in the carriage Docket says one may see that there is a woman has the matter in her even has she been shop-keeping these some several years. Will take her call upon Biddy and all the milliners, shoemakers, perfumers &C she will have to have dealings with, and hold a fine tea-drinking with Phillips and Williams and Bellamy &C, before all go out of Town for the summer.

'Tis very good of you, says I.

She gives a small smile and says, why, one that is so prepossesst by Tibby’s writings, one must like her judgement.

I look at her very fond.

When we come to the printing works the visiting party has not yet emerg’d; I get down and go inside to see what goes forth, which is that Mr L- has gone print up a page that purports to be from the paper that reports upon this visit, 'tis very charming in him, and now hands them out to his visitors. He looks exceeding fond at Miss N- and sure I confide that did he think he might offer her a secure living he would take her to church the morrow.

He comes over to me and says, please to excuse the inkyness of his hands, but 'tis a pleasure to see me. And do I go on any travels lately?

Only into the country about house-parties, says I, and to go see about matters upon my Shropshire estate.

He sighs a little, for I confide he is still in hopes of publishing further matter by A Lady of Rank, not knowing that he has lately publisht a very horrid tale about carnivorous flowers by the same hand.

Comes up Bess and says, did I know that they use lead to make the letters for printing? – she turns to Mr L- and says Aunty, that is, I mean Lady B-, has a lead-mine on her estate.

Indeed, says I, I had some such notion that ‘twas employ’d in this trade. 'Tis an entire usefull metal tho’ 'tis not count’d precious.

Indeed, says Miss N coming up to us, there is a fine speech in Shakspeare that we have heard Lady B- read. But tho’ this has been entire pleasant, and extreme instructive for the girls, I confide we should be about our return now?

I consult my pretty little watch – 'twas a gift long since from Sir C- F- at the conclusion of our Brighton summer - and say, indeed should we so.

So we take very civil farewells of Mr L-, and are driven back to R- House.

When I go in to the family room I find my darling looking somewhat askance at a deal of parcels pil’d up upon the floor. Hector, she says, came over with these that have been sent for Lady B-.

I frown at ‘em and say, sure I cannot think of any matter I sent for that is not somewhat that might just as well stay at my house until I return.

My darling rings for tea and I go about undoing string and unwrapping paper, with Mittens' kind assistance in the matter, and discovering what has been sent.

O, says I at length, I apprehend that the intelligence goes about that Lady B- is extending her premises and in particular having a dining-room put in, and there are a deal of tradesmen go consider that sure she will be requiring dinner-sets and silver-plate and her taste is give out most exceeding nice and 'twould give 'em a deal of comsequence was they known to have supply’d my wants in the matter. So they go about to send me samples of their work, and the catalogues of their wares, &C, in hopes of obtaining my interest.

Very civil letters to these gifts, I add, inviting me to call at their showrooms at my pleasure.

My darling goes pick up Mittens, that has been about ensuring that the wrapping paper does not go rise up and attack us, and chasing the naughty string that endeavours escape, &C, and laughs and says, sure our dearest is quite a paragon of good taste.

O, says I, looking at her very fond, indeed I am, Mrs F-.

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