To Miss LAETITIA WILLIS, at Gloucester.
My dear Letty,
I wrote you at great length by the post, the twenty-sixth of last month, to which I refer you for an account of our proceedings at Bath; and I expect your answer with impatience. But, having this opportunity of a private hand, I send you two dozen of Bath rings; six of the best of which I desire you will keep for yourself, and distribute the rest among the young ladies, our common friends, as you shall think proper—I don’t know how you will approve of the mottoes; some of them are not much to my own liking; but I was obliged to take such as I could find ready manufactured—I am vexed, that neither you nor I have received any further information of a certain person—Sure it cannot be wilful neglect!—O my dear Willis! I begin to be visited by strange fancies, and to have some melancholy doubts; which, however, it would be ungenerous to harbour without further inquiry—My uncle, who has made me a present of a very fine set of garnets, talks of treating us with a jaunt to London; which, you may imagine, will be highly agreeable; but I like Bath so well, that I hope he won’t think of leaving it till the season is quite over; and yet, betwixt friends, something has happened to my aunt, which will probably shorten our stay in this place.
Yesterday, in the forenoon, she went by herself to a breakfasting in one of the rooms; and, in half an hour, returned in great agitation, having Chowder along with her in the chair. I believe some accident must have happened to that unlucky animal, which is the great source of all her troubles. Dear Letty! what a pity it is, that a woman of her years and discretion, should place her affection upon such an ugly, ill-conditioned cur, that snarls and snaps at every body. I asked John Thomas, the footman who attended her, what was the matter? and he did nothing but grin. A famous dog-doctor was sent for, and undertook to cure the patient, provided he might carry him home to his own house; but his mistress would not part with him out of her own sight—She ordered the cook to warm cloths, which she applied to his bowels, with her own hand. She gave up all thoughts of going to the ball in the evening; and when Sir Ulic came to drink tea, refused to be seen; so that he went away to look for another partner. My brother Jery whistles and dances. My uncle sometimes shrugs up his shoulders, and sometimes bursts out a-laughing. My aunt sobs and scolds by turns; and her woman, Win. Jenkins, stares and wonders with a foolish face of curiosity; and, for my part, I am as curious as she, but ashamed to ask questions.
Perhaps time will discover the mystery; for if it was any thing that happened in the Rooms, it cannot be long concealed—All I know is, that last night at supper, miss Bramble spoke very disdainfully of Sir Ulic Mackilligut, and asked her brother if he intended to keep us sweltering all the summer at Bath? ‘No, sister Tabitha (said he, with an arch smile) we shall retreat before the Dog-days begin; though I make no doubt, that with a little temperance and discretion, our constitutions might be kept cool enough all the year, even at Bath.’ As I don’t know the meaning of this insinuation, I won’t pretend to make any remarks upon it at present: hereafter, perhaps, I may be able to explain it more to your satisfaction—In the mean time, I beg you will be punctual in your correspondence, and continue to love your ever faithful
LYDIA MELFORD BATH, May 6.