My dear Cassandra
Your letter was a most agreable surprise to me to day, & I have taken a long sheet of paper to shew my Gratitude. We arrived here yesterday netween 4 & 5, but I cannot send you quite so triumphant an account of our last day’s Journey as of the first & second.– Soon after I had finished my letter from Staines, my Mother began to suffer from the exercise & fatigue of travelling so far, & she was a good deal indisposed from that particular kind of evacuation which has generally preceded her Illnesses–. She had not a very good night at Staines, & felt a heat in her throat as we travelled yesterday morning, which seemed to foretell more Bile–. She bore her Journey however much better than I had expected, & at Basingstoke where we stopped more than half an hour, received much comfort from a Mess of Broth, & the sight of Mr Lyford, who recommended her to take 12 drops of Laudanum when she went to Bed, as a Composer, which she accordingly did.– It is by no means wonderful that her Journey should have produced some Kind of visitation;– I hope a few days will entirely remove it.–
James called on us just as we were going to Tea, & my Mother was well enough to talk very chearfully to him, before she went to Bed.– Lyford has promised to call, in the course of a few days, & then they will settle about the Dandelion Tea;–the receipts for which were shewn him at Basingstoke, & he approved of them highly; they will only require some slight alteration to be better adapted to my Mother’s Constitution.
James seems to have taken to his old Trick of coming to Steventon inspite of Mary’s reproaches, for he was here before Breakfast, & is now paying us a second visit.– Mary is quite well he says, & uncommonly large;– they were to have dined here to day, but the weather is too bad. I have had the pleasure of hearing that Martha is with them;– James fetched her from Ibthrop on Thursday, & she will stay with them till she removes to Kintbury.–
We met with no adventures at all in our Journey yesterday, except that our Trunk had once nearly slipt off, & we were obliged to stop at Hartley to have our wheels greazed.– While my Mother & Mr Lyford were together, I went to Mrs Ryders, & bought what I intended to buy, but not in much perfection.– There were no narrow Braces for Children, & scarcely any netting silk; but Miss Wood as usual is going to Town very soon, & will lay in a fresh stock.– I gave 2s/3d a yard for my flannel, & I fancy it is not very good; but it is so disgraceful & contemptible an article in itself, that its’ being comparatively good or bad is of little importance.
I bought some Japan Ink likewise, & next week shall begin my operations on my hat, on which You know my principal hopes of happiness depend.– I am very grand indeed;– I had the dignity of dropping out my mother’s Laudanum last night, I carry about the keys of the Wine & Closet; & twice since I began this letter, have had orders to give in the Kitchen: Our dinner was very good yesterday, & the Chicken boiled perfectly tender; therefore I shall not be obliged to dismiss Nanny on that account.– Almost every thing was unpacked & put away last night;– Nanny chose to do it, & I was not sorry to be busy.– I have unpacked the Gloves & placed yours in your drawer.– Their colour is light & pretty, & I beleive exactly what we fixed on.–
Your letter was chaperoned here by one from Mrs Cooke, in which she says that Battleridge is not to come out before January; & she is so little satisfied with Cawthorn’s dilatoriness that she never means to employ him again. Mrs Hall of Sherbourn was brought to bed yesterday of a dead child, some weeks before she was expected, oweing to a fright.– I suppose she happened unawares to look at her husband.– There has been a great deal of rain here for this last fortnight, much more than in Kent; & indeed we found the roads all the way from Staines most disgracefully dirty.– Steventon lane has its full share of it, & I donot know when I shall be able to get to Deane.– I hear that Martha is in better looks & Spirits than she has enjoyed for a long time; & I flatter myself she will now be able to jest openly about Mr W.–
The Spectacles which Molly found are my Mother’s, the Scissors my father’s.– We are very glad to hear such a good account of your Patients, little & great. My dear itty Dordy’s remembrance of me is very pleasing to me; foolishly pleasing, because I know it will be over so soon. My attachment to him will be more durable; I shall think with tenderness & delight on his beautiful & smiling Countenance & interesting Manners, till a few years have turned him into an ungovernable, ungracious fellow.– The Books from Winton are all unpacked & put away;– the Binding has compressed them most conveniently, & there is now very good room in the Bookcase for all that we wish to have there.– I beleive the Servants were very glad to see us, Nanny was I am sure; she confesses that it was very dull, & yet she had her Child with her till last Sunday. I understand that there are some Grapes left, but I beleive not many;– they must be gathered as soon as possible, or this Rain will entirely rot them.
I am quite angry with myself for not writing closer; why is my alphabet so much more sprawly than Yours? Dame Tilbury’s daughter has lain-in—-Shall I give her any of your Baby Cloathes?– The Lace Man was here only a few days ago; how unfortunate for both of us that he came so soon!– Dame Bushell washes for us only one week more, as Sukey has got a place. — John Steevens’ wife undertakes our Purification; She does not look as if anything she touched would ever be clean, but who knows?–
We do not seem likely to have any other maidservant at present, but Dame Staples will supply the place of one.– Mary has hired a young Girl from Ashe, who has never been out to service, to be her Scrub, but James fears her not being strong enough for the place. Earle Harwood has been to Deane lately, as I think Mary wrote us word; & his family then told him that they would receive his wife, if she continued to behave well for another Year.–He was very grateful, as well he might; their behaviour throughout the whole affair has been particularly kind.– Earle & his wife live in the most private manner imaginable at Portsmouth, without keeping a servant of any kind.– What a prodigious innate love of virtue she must have, to marry under such circumstances!–.
It is now saturday Eveng but I wrote the cheif of this in the morning.– My Mother has not been down at all today; the Laudanum made her sleep a good deal, & upon the whole I think she is better;– I shall be able to be more positive on this subject I hope tomorrow. My father & I dined by ourselves–How strange!– He & John Bond are now very happy together, for I have just heard the heavy step of the latter along the passage.– James Digweed called today, & I gave him his brother’s deputation. Charles Harwood too has just called to ask how we are, in his way from Dummer, whither he has been conveying Miss Garrett, who is going to return to her former residence in Kent.–
I will leave off, or I shall not have room to add a word tomorrow–
[This letter is continued on the following day, Sunday, 28th October]