Comes desiring to speak to me one morn Hector. I push my correspondence to one side and says, speak on, I hope 'tis not trouble in the household?
Indeed not, Your Ladyship, says he, at present all goes on exceeding smooth.
(Sure I hope that he does not go open the matter so widely discusst among their connexion of whether Euphemia yet goes increase.)
He says that Euphemia has open’d to him this business she and Seraphine go consider about preserves and pickles. From what Phoebe tells him about her enterprize, does not sound entire unanswerable, but he would wish to know whether My Ladyship, that has such an understanding of business matters, thinks it feasible?
Why, says I, I do not see why should not be. All go praise their preserves and pickles exceeding highly, quite beg pots for their own table, and sure there is a deal of very poor stuff upon the market. And 'tis not as tho’ we do not have the most excellent advice on such matters entirely at our disposal. I might be somewhat more concern’d that 'twas perchance over-ambitious, did we not have such excellent men of business to call upon to advize in the matter. But as 'tis, I purpose to ask Mr F- to convoke with ‘em about the practickalities, and, does he see the way forward, should be entire delight’d to invest somewhat myself in the enterprize.
Hector smiles quite doating. Indeed, he says, ‘tis a fine thing to have a wife takes a long view of things.
I daresay, says I, that you will go become positive nabobs of the jam trade, and set up in a country mansion.
Hector says he could never fancy to leave Town, and sure they are quite entire content in My Ladyship’s service.
'Tis extreme gratifying to hear, says I, but who knows what may come. 'Tis ever better to be provid’d for some unanticipat’d event.
Hector nods. He then says that, could he be spar’d a few hours in a se’ennight, he should greatly like to go give the little boys at R- House some further training in the pugilistick art. Sure there is Master Josh, that one fears will one day come across some fellows that kick a dog, or torment a cat, and go challenge 'em, and should be in the way to acquit himself well in such circumstance. And there is little Lord S-: one hears that the sons of the aristocracy are sent to these very rough schools, 'twould benefit him greatly to know how to defend himself.
Why, says I, 'tis most extreme thoughtfull of you.
Also, says Hector, he dares say Roberts would talk of turning the other cheek &C, but he thinks 'twould avail Julius to have some knowledge of the pugilistick art.
I smile at him and say, sure I think there could be no objection. 'Twould indeed benefit Timothy to gain more experience of tending the door.
Hector nods, and says, he comes on.
I turn back to my correspondence. A little later comes Hector again and says, Sir C- F- is at the door and wonders are you at home?
Why, says I, I confide that I am, and you might go desire coffee from Euphemia.
He shows in Sir C- F-, that comes kiss my hand very civil, and looks at me very kindly. I wave him to a chair beside the fire and go sit vis-à-vis.
We exchange questions about how one another does, state of health, &C, until comes Celeste with coffee and curd tartlets.
After she has gone I say 'tis entire delightfull to see him, and is there any purpose for this visit?
Sure, says he, we are such old friends and you have been of such very material aid to Lady N-, whose interests will ever lye close to my heart, that I did not desire merely to leave my card saying PPC.
O, says I, so you go return to Herefordshire?
Indeed, says he, there are matters he must be about there, sure 'tis very agreeable to be in Town and to have some most usefull discourse with other agrickultural improvers, but he has neglect’d his estate long enough – tho’ indeed he has a most excellent steward keeps the place up, comes the time one must see to the place oneself.
He then sighs and says, sure the Earl is a very old boyhood friend of his, but he finds that as he ages he becomes very set in his ways and develops eccentricities. Does not think he ever greatly relisht the responsibilities of his position, but still keeps matters clutcht within his grasp, when a fellow might be thinking of bringing such a fine son as he has in young Charles into the matter, and even resigning a deal of the business to him so that he might go botanize the day long.
Perchance, says I, needs a little time to ponder over the matter.
Sir C- F- sighs and says mayhap. But taking time to ponder sometimes looks very like doing nothing and hoping the matter will go away.
(O! thinks I, 'tis quite exact, I confide, how he has ever fac’d, or not fac’d, the Countess’s situation: as if one day she would rise from her couch and walk and go undertake all the publick duties of her position once more. I daresay, quacks being what they are, her physicians made some soothing allusions to the healing powers of nature and miraculous recoveries after all despair’d, and he wait’d upon that rather than making her invalid life easyer for her. That would indeed have requir’d him to give some thought to the matter.)
'Tis true, says I.
He sighs again and says, many years since he urg’d Her Ladyship to fly with him – or, that he would contrive by some means to have her convey’d out of that great gloomy place into a carriage. But, sure, she would not leave her children.
Indeed, says I, one sees that there is a deal of affection 'twixt her and them.
He smiles and agrees 'tis most extreme pretty. He then looks at me and says, sure you sav’d my life, Lady B-, that summer in Brighton.
What? says I.
'Twas my intention to spend a summer debauching myself and then sail visit my cousin in Calcutta, and if the perils of the voyage did not do for me, doubtless there would be tigers and venomous snakes and fevers in Bengal could contrive it. And instead I went down to Herefordshire and became a country squire, and there is contentment in’t.
You gave no sign, says I.
Why, I was determin’d to throw myself into pleasures, play high, drink to insensibility. &C –
But, my dear Sir C- F-, as I collect we were ever home betimes tho’ then would be extreme wakefull for some hours.
He gives a little reminiscent smile and says, precisely.
O, says I a little tearfull, I am Venus’ votaress, and sure the Goddess of Love would not let one that is so fine and devot’d a lover go throw his life away.
He harrumps somewhat in emotion. And then says, sure he must be away, but indeed, if there is anything he may do for me –
Why, says I, have you not already undertook to be most helpfull about my estate in Naples?
We part with most extreme good feeling on either side. Indeed, in Brighton, I had suspect’d some secret sorrow, but not so heavy a matter.
In the afternoon I go make a few duty calls, but return in good time, for Belinda and Captain P- come dine and as they are us’d to country hours, dinner will be serv’d somewhat earlier than my wont.
When I spoke to Euphemia on the matter, I said I suppos’d we should set some plain fare as they were us’d to in the country. Oh no, Your Ladyship, she says, I confide they would most greatly enjoy some refin’d Town fare such as they would not come across in Northamptonshire. Well, says I, I daresay you have the right of it.
So we look upon a fine first course of veal prepar’d in a Neapolitan style – for I know not where one might go purchase goat - mutton kabobs in the Hindoostanee fashion, rabbit fricasee’d, and a pigeon pie, as well as a fine assortment of vegetables and relishes.
Why, says Captain P-, this is something like. My dear – he turns to Belinda – may I help you to anything?
Hector comes round pour wine, and the Captain is most prepossesst.
They do very well, they say, with the Marquess’ commission, for he desir’d them undertake the entire provision of his stables. They do not themselves go raise carriage cattle but of course they know those that do, and are less like to be cozen’d or cheat’d in the matter. He also desires 'em to keep Blackthorn in anticipation of his marriage, for is quite entire the horse he should desire for his bride, that is a most extreme fine horsewoman. Excellent fellow, show’d exceeding well following hounds, tho’ from his tales of the Americas, must be somewhat tame matter to him.
The first course is removed and Celeste and Euphemia come bring some soles in a fine sauce, a duck, a chicken pillow, and a ham. (Sure I confide Nell’s family will go eat well upon the leftovers.)
Euphemia then brings a most impressive ic’d pudding. I go tell 'em about the ice-house as we eat.
Hector then brings round port, brandy and madeira.
Captain P- says he dares say we have womanly matters to discuss – Belinda and I look at one another in puzzlement – female fal-lals about the B- estate &C – and he was intending look in at his club, 'tis rumour’d that the fam’d comoedick actor Mr W- may be there and is said to be most entertaining company.
Why, says I, he is quite the most amuzing fellow and I should not wish to deprive you of such a pleasure, and indeed must be a tedious matter listening to the feminine fripperies of Chancery matters &C.
So we make amiable farewells and Belinda and I go sit by the fire with port and madeira and consult over the matters of B- House and the estate at T-.