« PreviousContinue »
dear deceived purblind husband, the Count Criminil Converskoff—she is Princess in her own right—was here as ambassador from the great Cham in the year '40. The woman must be fifty by this time, if she be a day; and she is the very last person that a young lady, an English young lady, ought to know. I suppose, as usual, she wears very low-necked dresses, and is plastered from her coiffure to her shoes with diamonds. But diamonds will not make virtue, my darling.
Among the other English, you had Lord Claude Mifflin, the Chargé d'Affaires, and the usual sprinkling of English Guardsmen, bureaucrats, and do-nothing dandies; among whom, I presume, our Mr. Ferdinand de Fytchett and youryes, your—Mr. Reginald Tapeleigh were conspicuous. You needn't endeavour to persuade me, Miss. Do you think I am quite blind--that I am entirely devoid of perception ? Had I not the fullest confidence in Mrs. de Fytchett and our Argus eyes, I should say that the young gentleman to whom I had last alluded had been a great deal too much about your home in Pagoda Square since your return from abroad. He fetches books for you, does he ? He executes little commis. sions, and runs upon little errands for Miss Louisa Chesterfield, does he? You find him useful in holding your skein of silk while you wind it off for your embroidery. Pray what did you say were his office hours ? What is his salary, and has he any expectations from his family worth speaking of ?
I can't dismiss Lady Coseymore's fête for a moment or two longer. Besides the distinguished English, and a gorgeous attendance of the Corps Diplomatique, including the Marchese de Bribante, Señor Puchero de la Tertullia, the Hereditary Prince of Sachsenhausen-Flügelstadt, and Kibab Effendi from Stamboul in addition to these, the ancient, the real, the immutable aristocracy from the Faubourg St. Germain were there to do honour to Lady Coseymore. There was the Prince Duc de Roquefort-en-Bree, the Marquis de Carabas, and the Marquis de Pretantaille, the Comte de Côte Rôtie, the Chevalier de Pourceaugnac, the Bailli de Droitenjambe, and the Vidame de Turlupin. Ah! the great names! Ah! the good old times! I have no heart, after these high-sounding titles, to enumerate the frothy, mushroom dignitaries of the Empire, first and second—the Marshal's sons, the sham Count and Baron's daughters, the barrocracy, the bureaucracy, and the boursocracy. My Louisa danced her fill, and was happy. What did it matter to her if the Baron who was her partner had an ancestor who fought in the Crusades, or was the son of one of Louis Philippe's deputies, who made a fortune out of soup kitchens and warm baths ?
LETTER THE ELEVENTH.
ON VARIOUS RECIPES FOR TEACHING THE YOUNG IDEA
HOW TO SHOOT.
With grief mingled with amazement, my dearest, your mamma has lately received a mass of letters from persons whose acquaintance she not only has not the pleasure of enjoying, but of whom she positively never heard in her life before, complaining in the bitterest terms that she has failed lately in writing her accustomed number of letters to her daughter. Can it be that my Louisa has made her parent's communications public? Forbid the thought, gentility. I know that there are many cunning, but unscrupulous persons, who inveigle you into writing letters to them, and, so soon as they have a sufficient quantity of your manuscript in hand, pop off to the nearest bookseller and make a bargain with him for the bulk of the more or less precious epistles. Mr. Pope's friends served him this way, and Mr. Curll was ever ready to publish.
People have written letters to me from the remotest quarters of this empire, begging for my autograph, or for the loan of ten pounds, or to be informed of the exact date of the death of Queen Anne, merely, I am persuaded, for the purpose of entering into a correspondence, and, I am afraid, with ulterior motives. A gentleman of whom I have no greater knowledge than of the man in the moon, wrote me the other day from Gobowen, near Oswestry (where is Gobowen, near I had courage
Oswestry ?), threatening that if I did not, by return of post, comply with his request for a pecuniary loan, he would “rush unbidden into the regions of the eternal unknown.” I was dreadfully flurried at the idea of any one committing suicide on my account, and, very incautiously, wrote back to say I really could not lend the sum my correspondent required; whereupon he wrote back, thanking me for my “amusing communication," and demanding the immediate remittance of a post-office order for a smaller sum. enough not to answer this ; but he has been pestering me ever since, as though I owed him the money ; just as the man in the jest-book, who wanted to borrow half-a-crown, and had a shilling lent him, continually dunned his creditor for the odd eighteenpence. Be careful how you write letters to people you know; be doubly careful against writing to people you don't know. Letters in Vanity Fair, hints Mr. Thackeray, should be written in ink that will fade to invisibility after seven years. I don't go so far as that; but ah! how much pain, and shame, and anguish, how many scandalous exposures in law courts might be saved, if writingink were only a little less durable ! Who would not dearly like to recall some things she has written, ay, the very
best of us? But the writing won't fade, my dear; fire, fire won't burn paper that has got any ink on it; and long years afterwards the writing on the sheet will turn up against us, to be pryed into and commented upon like the Graffite of Pompeii.
This is an age when curious folks not only collect our letters and docket them, as though they were invoices, but lie in wait for our conversation to make notes of it in their common-place books. There died, not long since, in St. James's Place, a vain, rich old man, called Rogers, wh had written some poetry now forgotten, and on the strength