1 December 1798 – Saturday – from Steventon

My dear Cassandra

I am so good as to write to you again thus speedily, to let you know that I have just heard from Frank.  He was at Cadiz, alive and well, on October 19, and had then very lately received a letter from you, written as long ago as when the ‘London’ was at St Helen’s.  But his raly latest intelligence of us was in one from me of September 1, which I sent soon after we got to Godmersham.  He had written a packet full for his dearest friends in England, early in October, to go by the ‘Excellent’; but the ‘Excellent’ was not sailed, nor likely to sail, when he despatched this to me.  It comprehended letters for both of us, for Lord Spencer, Mr Daysh, and the East India Directors.  Lord St Vincent had left the fleet when he wrote, and was gone to Gibraltar, it was said to superintend the fitting out of a private expedition from thence against some of the enemies’ ports; Minorca or Malta were conjectured to be the objects.  Frank writes in good spirits, but says that our correspondence cannot be so easily carried on in future as it has been, as the communication between Cadiz and Lisbon is less frequent than formerly.  You and my mother, therefore, must not alarm yourselves at the long intervals that may divide his letters.  I address this advice to you two as being the most tender-hearted of the family.

My mother made her entree into the dressing-room through crowds of admiring spectators yesterday afternoon, and we all drank tea together for the first time these five weeks.  She has had a tolerable night, and bids fair for a continuance in the same brilliant course of action to-day. . . . Mr Lyford was here yesterday; he came while were at dinner, and partook of our elegant entertainment.  I was not ashamed at asking him to sit down to table, for we had some pease-soup, a sparerib, and a pudding.  He wants my mother to look yellow and to throw out a rash, but she will do neither.

I was at Deane yesterday morning.  Mary was very well, but does not gain bodily strength very fast.  When I saw her so stout on the third and sixth days, I expected to have seen her as well as ever by the end of a fortnight.  James went to Ibthorp yesterday to see his mother and child.  Letty is with Mary at present, of course exceedingly happy, and in raptures with the child.  Mary does not manage matters in such a way as to make me want to lay in myself.  She is not tidy enough in her appearance; she has no dressing-gown to sit up in; her curtains are all too thin, and things are not in that comfort and style about her which are necessary to make such a situation an enviable one.  Elizabeth was really a pretty object with her nice clean cap put on so tidily and her dress so uniformly white and orderly.

We live entirely in the dressing-room now, which I like very much; I always feel so much more elegant in it than in the parlour.  No news from Kintbury yet.  Eliza sports with our impatience.  She was very well last Thursday.  Who is Miss Maria Montresor going to marry, and what is to become of Miss Mulcaster?  I find great comfort in my stuff gown, but I hope you do not wear yours too often.  I have made myself two or three caps to wear of evenings since I came home, and they save me a world of torment as to hair-dressing, which at present gives me no trouble beyond washing and brushing, for my long hair is always plaited up out of sight, and my short hair curls well enough to want no papering.  I have had it cut lately by Mr Butler.

There is no reason to suppose that Miss Morgan is dead after all.  Mr Lyford gratified us very much yesterday by his praises of my father’s mutton, which they all think the finest that was ever ate.  John Bond begins to find himself grow old, which John Bonds ought not to do, and unequal to much hard work; a man is therefore hired to supply his place as to labour, and John himself is to have the care of the sheep.  There are not more people engaged than before, I believe; only men instead of boys.  I fancy so at least, but you know my stupidity as to such matters.  Lizzie Bond is just apprenticed to Miss Small, so we may hope to see her able to spoil gowns in a few years.  My father has applied to Mr May for an alehouse for Robert, at his request, and to Mr Deans, of Winchester, likewise.  This was my mother’s idea, who thought he would be proud to oblige a relation of Edward in return for Edward’s accepting his money.  He sent a very civil answer indeed, but has no house vacant at present.  May expects to have an empty one soon at Farnham, so perhaps Nanny may have the honour of drawing ale for the Bishop.

I shall write to Frank to-morrow.  Charles Powlett gave a dance on Thursday, to the great disturbance of all his neighbours, of course, who, you know, take a most lively interest in the state of his finances, and live in hopes of his being soon ruined.  We are very much disposed to like our new maid; she knows nothing of a dairy, to be sure, which, in our family, is rather against her, but she is to be taught it all.  In short, we have felt the inconvenience of being without a maid so long, that we are determined to like her, and she will find it a hard matter to displease us.  As yet, she seems to cook very well, is uncommonly stout, and says she can work well at her needle.

[This letter is continued on the following day, Sunday, 2nd December]

One Response to 1 December 1798 – Saturday – from Steventon

  1. Pingback: P. &. P. is sold. Egerton gives £110 for it.– I would rather have had £150, but we could not both be pleased | QuinnTessence

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