Letter from Miss Annabella Squib

Miss Flaxman

Tabby Hall, Dove Dale

Dear Sir

In my last I mentioned the expected addition to our Society, and I have now the pleasure of introducing to your acquaintance Lady Belle Bluemantle and Miss Barbara Botheram, the first easy, sprightly and elegant, exactly what Dr Cardamom and I supposed from the turn of her letters she would prove.

Miss Botheram is much more difficult to describe, or rather it should be said, she is indescribable. I wished the Dr to have written to you Mr Editor but as he for the present declines it, I shall inform you that about half an hour before dinner, Miss B’s vehicle drove up to the door. Mr Julep, who had that moment returned from one of his botanizing perambulations, flew to hand her from the carriage. Well, Sir, the fair stranger with the assistance of the gallant compounder of cordials alighted, her appearance was rather extraordinary, being entirely enveloped in a mantle of green oil’d silk which was perfectly transparent and gave the effect of a cucumber in a glass bottle, such as you may have seen Mr Editor in the window of an oil and pickle shop. Mr Julep appeared struck, I assure you, and eyed her with the same apparent wonder and curiosity I have seen displayed by a little boy at a peep show.

We all assembled in the drawing room to meet and welcome the new associate who when uncased was really a pretty woman, and would look much better but for her peculiar style and method of dressing, every article of her apparel is some new invention or experiment. Her gown in non-ignitable, her mantle anti-aqueous, her veil she calls a new araneous network, impervious to those fine particles of matter vulgarly called dust. Her shoes are glued together, perhaps hermetically closed, her parasol has a lightning conductor and her auburn ringlets if not fire or water proof are I verily believe non naturals.

Most of these particulars she informed us of in the course of the day. I should have said she informed the Doctor, for entre nous Mr Editor she did not think anybody else worth attending to, and if I must confess the truth, the gentleman seemed wholly engrossed by her. But I suppose it was because she was a stranger, or maybe he was exceedingly amused with her oddities. I know this however that it will not be polite of him to continue dedicating all of his time and attention to her for she is not ill, Mr Editor, therefore you know it will not be at all necessary. It is not on my own account that I mention this, but my esteem for the Doctor is too great to see him likely to behave particular without being vexed by it.

But to return to the Lady. When Dr C asked her if she had not found the road from Buxton very beautiful, she replied that as for the accidents of scenery, she never paid any attention to them, and in the present instance had amused herself on the way with planning a new sort of carriage where the rational creature would not be compelled to sit behind the irrational, a situation she had always considered highly derogatory.

“Dear Madam,” said Miss Nettletop, “why you would not put the cart before the horse, would you?”

The glance was contemptuous which the lady cast on poor Rebecca, and then turning again to the Dr. told him that she would have a model of her machine made and try it in the pleasure grounds.

“I’ll tell you what,” whispered Emily Echowell, “if she gets into the wheelbarrow and Jeffery Julep Esq. drives her, the plan would be perfected.”

“Very likely,” answered I, “provided we could ascertain which of the two were the rational animal.”

The company had by this time divided into small parties, but the force of attraction still acted upon our she philosopher and her new friend, I was rather desirous of hearing their conversation, but I would not seem curious. I continued the whole evening too far from them to hear more than a word or two in a sentence, such as “rotalary motion” — equipoise — gravity — velocity — maximum impulse — &c. &c. Finally I thought I made out that the perch of the new carriage is to be placed transversely instead of longitudinally, while the horse and the lady are to be parallel with each other. How the wheels are to be situated I could not understand nor whether their usual proximity had given umbrage to the fair Mechanist. I shall take an early opportunity of telling you how we go on — but I am vastly mistaken if I do not see mischief brewing, as Miss Barbara says. You shall hear of it, you may rely on

A. Squib

I quite forgot whether any of us have mentioned Emily Echowell. She is quite young, a mere novice. Lady Belle is quite delighted with the idea of corresponding with the Attic Chest, as is the good natured gossiping Emily.