After much to-do, a wet-nurse for little Lord S- has been appointed, one Betty Higgins, a fine healthy creature on whose milk he thrives. Lady J- had some prejudice against her since there are signs of African ancestry, which is sure somewhat remarkable in one that is known for her activities concerning the abolition of slavery. Minnie is said quite upset to be leaving the little darling.
My dearest, in confederacy with Williams, who is now quite definitely preferr’d to a place as her lady’s maid, has managed several visits to me and even once or twice brought my darling sweet amiable Flora, that I doat upon so extremely. But now she must return to the North and our dear Grand Turk, on whose behalf I give her several particular kisses. She say that does the play go forward, they will both make a most exceeding effort to come to Town to see it.
Sure Mr J- is most enthusiatick to proceed in the matter, proposes himself in the part of the court fop, which offers a pleasing contrast within a single role of effete fribble and defender of the oppresst. Miss A- is wild to perform the gypsy, while Mr W-, the comick actor, thinks that much may be made of the creeping priest.
Sandy comes with what he tells me is tincture of digitalis, consider’d most exceeding effective for heart troubles, tho’ must be administer’d with great care and caution for can prove most fatal if taken in excess. He has writ down the mode of procedure. Do I desire further supplies it can be obtain’d of any reliable apothecary.
This is very good of you, I say. He says that he should hate to hear the intelligence that one of Madame C-'s patrons had expired during what he supposes (for those that care for that sort of thing) is the height of ecstasy. O, I say, did such a thing occur I am sure I could prevail upon Hector to remove the body to some other place. (I do this to see what kind of expression he will make. 'Tis most amusing: sure I am learning from my dearest to be a wicked teaze. Tho’ I am sure did this ever perchance, Hector would indeed do the like.)
He adds that should I care for a drive G- says his curricle and fam’d matcht blacks are ever at my disposal, all remark that Madame C- is looking somewhat peakt in this oppressive weather, and, he doubts not, these visits you make to a house of mourning must lower your spirits.
Oh, says I, are those by now a general on-dit?
Most certainly not. But I receiv’d a most charming note from Mrs F- apologizing for any distress her teazing might have caus’d me, and declaring that she can be entirely discreet, and also saying could G- and I find any way of distracting you from those sad hours you spend in consoling the grieving Duke, 'twould be an act of friendship.
That was very good of her, I remark.
'Tis clear that she is indeed most uncommon fond of you – and, he adds, seeing me look most amuz’d – not merely for any Sapphick matters that lie between you. Indeed, I say, we had been very good friends this long time before ever that came into contention. That is mayhap even stranger, he comments.
After he has gone, I go to Docket and also summon Tibby, so that I may instruct them about the tincture of digitalis, and the requirement of caution. Docket, who seems much better, sniffs and says that they are well appriz’d of matters where more becomes entirely too much, as it might be in the case of rouge, when only the slightest touch is need’d.
I could almost weep at hearing Docket being herself once more, but give orders that she is not to over-exert herself, and that she should leave any heavy business to Tibby. I also say that they may ask Euphemia to let them have some of the best company tea. I add the news that Williams is to go to the F-s, and Docket at once says she must write to Williams with some advice.
Sure I hope that this tincture will work the miracle that is boast’d of.
The next day, which is fortunately very fine, Lord G- R- arrives in his curricle to take me for a drive. O, I say, might we go somewhere that I might look at the sea? somehow I have a great fancy to look at the sea. The dear Admiral says there is no medicine like it, and while I am doubtfull that sailing upon it would be very medicinal, for I fear mal de mer, Mr H- will always have it that sea-air is peculiarly sanitive.
His Lordship says that he could indeed fancy a run out to Whitstable, and when we get there, we might have some of their fam’d oysters, which are also suppos'd sanitive.
As we drive out into Kent, he tells me that he has been getting some advice from Mr J- on publick speaking, now that he has seen how very well this answered for Sir B- W-, who is becoming known as quite the orator. Mr J- has given him some very sound instruction, including not to force himself when he feels he may stammer, but stop as if to make a telling pause. He also says that one should find one’s own style, rather than suppose there is one single way of the matter, and of course that entirely accords with his own notions of fashion. It is quite like that this will make him a more effective speaker in parliamentary debates.
I am indeed glad to hear that – sure I have known Mr J- as quite the kindest of instructors myself.
But I think, goes on His Lordship, that he has some suspicion that I am the anonymous author of this play of yours.
Why, say I, 'tis a not unreasonable deduction. Your known fondness for the theatre; the intermediary your secretary – why should you not undertake such a thing, but desire to maintain incognito?
He sighs. I should rather see credit where it is due.
Ha, says I, were it given out that Madame C- had writ a play, none would believe it and it would be put about that some fellow had undertaken it for me, if it were found any good; and if it were not, I daresay Dr Johnson’s remark about the dog on its hind legs would be invokt.
He laughs at that and we drive on in silence but for the sound of the hooves of the fam’d matcht blacks for a while.
Eventually he asks whether I have any notion about this sudden whim of Sandy’s to take a trip to Edinburgh – no doubt he still has friends there, but he has never heard him speak particularly well of it or desire to return before. It is most ill-tim’d, for his friend the Marquess of B- that has been living at Naples this long while is proposing a visit.
Sure, he goes on, I was in hopes that Sandy would be at home so that he would have someone to talk antiquities and the classicks to, for I have quite forgot any of the classickal learning that was flogg’d into me at Eton. The Marquess is a fellow of very great learning indeed, quite the virtuoso.
Oh, says I, very thoughtfull, perchance Sandy considers that if you are such old friends you would not want a third to your conversations.
He sighs. I daresay the fact of being a Marquess is against my dear old friend in Sandy’s eyes, even if he is also one of the brotherhood, which is the reason for his long exile.
Perhaps you should convey some of these thoughts to him?
Indeed, perhaps I should –
You should not, says I, be affright’d by that dour Calvinistickal face he puts on.
This makes His Lordship laugh. You hit that off most exact, he says. For that is very much his disapproving expression. And it does indeed daunt me. But, as ever, dearest Madame C-, you are right, and we should be more rational and talk over these matters.
Sure, I say, ‘tis the high road to maximising felicity.