I am at my desk the morn, somewhat dolefull from the lack of triangle - for sure there are few enough times when my darlings and I may be thus together during the present whirl of Society – but sure discretion is very necessary does suspicion rest upon my house over some entire different matter.
Hector opens the door and shows in my darling Eliza, that is in disguise as some humble creature that goes selling matters from door to door –
Hot-house fruit, says my dearest, I left the basket in the kitchen, and sure I dare not stay too long, for altho’ your kitchen has a good charitable reputation for providing tea and perchance some snack to those that look chill’d as they go about vending, they would shortly send me upon my way.
She comes put her arms around me as I still sit at my desk, somewhat in a shock.
Dearest of C-s, she says, we quite apprehend’d that your note convey’d some warning, and then this morn comes Mr MacD- somewhat in agitation, to say that has been told by Matt Johnson there is some fear that your house is being watcht and 'tis being gone about to find out if 'tis so –
I give a little smile in spite of myself and say, sure Wellington himself might envy my lines of communication. But – I turn and kiss her – 'tis quite the foolishest matter.
I go open to her the very curious inquisition I underwent concerning Mr W- Y-.
My dearest snorts. As if our darling, that has the very nicest taste in literature, would bother with Mr W- Y-.
I confide, says I, that 'tis suppos’d that a pretty featherwit may hear matter that she quite fails to comprehend, that some knowing fellow will understand the inwardness of. But sure I do not think Mr W- Y- would be about telling me his secrets after I reveal’d to him that I had found out his poetickal theft. And, does a lady witness some very ridiculous scene in which he is pursu’d by a swan, a fellow is like to desist from any suit he makes to her, for gentlemen hate to suppose that any lady considers them a figure of fun, and goes titter upon 'em over the tea-cups.
My love comes sit upon my knee and kisses me. Sure we were all in suspicion about Mr W- Y- before this. But indeed, altho’ Josiah is greatly mind’d to the punching of noses, he knows that 'twould not answer in a delicate situation the like of this.
I sigh. So, says I, we must all be most extreme discreet the while, chaste as ice, pure as snow, preserve the immediate jewel of our souls, in order to confound suspicion. 'Tis most exceeding irksome.
O, says my darling wild girl, and I daresay this – sure I will not deem him gentleman – that spoke to you yesterday, supposes Lady B- to be quite the entirest feather-brain?
I know not how 'tis, says I, but indeed I am like to suppose that he thinks that.
My darling kisses me upon the nose very fond. Also I daresay he has no apprehension in general concerning the wits of women.
Indeed not, says I. I daresay he cleaves to the opinion of Lord Chesterfield that they are merely children of a larger growth.
My love finds this thought most amuzing, but then makes a determin’d face, rises from my lap, and says, tho’ she would very much wish to stay, if only to exchange gossip - she hears Lady Z- was lately brought to bed of a fine daughter, and that yestere’en Mr H-'s carriage was seen outside Sir B- W-'s door – she had better be off.
We kiss very warm, and I give her some several kisses to convey to Josiah, and she departs.
I bury my head in my hands, but sure, we are, I am very much like to confide, entire beforehand of Sir R- O-. But I am in some concern that Mr W- Y- is an unknown quantity in the matter that may yet disturb our calculations.
'Tis an afternoon when I should be about going to a meeting of the orphanage ladies, but as I confide that Lady J- will be among 'em with her powers entire refresht and ready to get 'em well under hand, I am like to suppose that matters are unlike to gang aft agley do I cut, and remain at home, reading by my own fireside and eating the very excellent hothouse grapes that my darling brought the morn in service to her masquerade. 'Tis most extreme agreeable, and Pounce curls up upon my lap, and Dandy lyes across my feet, and I am in the enjoyment of a spell of lazyness such as I seldom have these days.
Comes Hector with a card upon a tray, and says, is My Ladyship at home? 'Tis Lady T- at the door.
I ope my eyes very wide – sure of any callers I might have expect’d, she was most unlikely – and then go remove my feet from under Dandy, lift Pounce from my lap, put down my book, and say, indeed I am at home to Her Ladyship. And please desire tea from Euphemia in the best china.
Hector nods, and comes in Lady T-. I go across the room to greet her, make my curtesy, and convey her into the most comfortable chair.
I know, says she, this is not your afternoon for being at home to callers, but I took the chance that you might not have gone out.
O, says I, there has been such a frenzie of matters lately that I took the opportunity to be idle for a little.
She glances at the book that lyes upon the table beside me, and seeing that 'tis An essay on the natural history of Guiana, says sure she did not expect to find me recreating myself with such a volume.
O, says I, the Marquess of O- has quite the finest collection of works upon the southern Americas and the West Indies (I do not say that I read in hopes of finding somewhat towards a horrid tale or Gothick novel) and has very kindly give me the run of his library.
Comes Celeste with the best tea in the best tea-set, and some exceeding elegant biscuits.
I go pour out as Lady T- says that of course, she hearkens not to those who describe Lady B- as a pretty feather-wit, but did not expect to find me in such deep studies.
I stick out my foot and look at my ankle and say, sure my stockings are still not blue, but I endeavour improve my mind.
This surprizes a laugh from Lady T-.
But indeed, she says, sure I feel myself quite the lady of learning, for I have had a most exceeding civil letter from the Keeper at the British Museum thanking me for presenting a copy of my book.
I am pleas’d to hear it, says I.
And, dear Lady B-, you were of such inestimable assistance to me in bringing the matter to its conclusion I should desire to make you a little gift - she draws a package out of her reticule – I collect how very highly you prais’d this piece when examining my china collection –
'Tis the exquisite Chinese porcelain bowl, that indeed I had some covetousness in my heart concerning.
I cast down my eyes and say, sure Lady T- has never had occasion to hear of the origins of Lady B-'s collection of fine china; 'tis not an edifying tale.
Well, says Lady T- in positively robust tones, one has heard that gentleman that wisht gain favour with Madame C- C- were wont make offerings of china, and her taste in the matter was consider’d most exquisite, but sure, Lady B-, you have such excellent feeling for china, seems a great pity you should not increase your collection.
I am somewhat struck dumb. I look over to my china cabinet. I then mind me that, do I go have more bookshelves put in, 'twould not be unfitting to have some shelves glasst and set aside for new china, and there would be a distinction, so that perchance the general would not suppose that a new piece in Lady B-'s collection signify’d some new favourite.
Why, Lady T-, says I, you present the idea to me so very kind and thoughtfull that indeed I cannot refuse. And this piece is so entire exquisite -
I go wrap it up again and place it in my desk, until I have some place it may fitly be display’d where the cats will not get at it.
Tho’ indeed, says Lady T-, putting down the biscuit she nibbles upon and casting down her eyes, there is a gentlemen I would prefer to your favour –
I sit down and say, indeed?
- o, she continues, I may be his mother but I know he is somewhat of what schoolboys call a muff: yet I think that a lady such as you – that may not be a bluestocking but has a deal of mother-wit – could do him a deal of good.
You mean Lord K-? says I. Alas, I confide he considers me a light-mind’d creature, and does not show any inclination towards me – for I cannot deny, I have a deal of experience in telling whether a fellow does or no. Sure I am quite entire honour’d that you should consider me for the position of daughter-in-law, but I am like to suppose that you would be in hopes of grandchildren, and from certain matters communicat’d to me in consultation with the profession, I am given to understand that increase would be unlikely. (O, I daresay I could get with child once more, but after my ordeal bringing forth my belov’d bundle Flora, should not care take the risque).
She pats my hand.
But, says I, indeed I will look about me for some lady that perchance might better suit (tho’ knowing of his patronage of Mrs O'C-, I am not in very great hopes).