Letter from Diana Dainty

Mrs Rough


Altho’ a stranger I am compelled to solicit your introduction to the Society of Fair Inexorables so lately established at Tabby Hall. Inexorables I must call them as I have too good an opinion of my own sex and of the regard professed for it by the other to believe that necessity not inclination should have established them as ancient maidens. My claims for admission I will endeavour to make out.

I am now arrived at that age when it becomes doubtful under what denomination to address the Single Fairs viz. rather too old for Miss and not quite old enough for Madam — in short find I am upon the very brink of forty. My person is large and well formed, and were it not for an outward squint I should certainly be rather agreeable than otherwise. My dimples have been variously celebrated, and my voice in speaking — but alas, Sir, these are vanities and I merely name them as accounting in some degree for the share of liking I have experienced. At twenty I received and returned the affection of a very amiable young man who fell in the service of his country, and since that period my heart has never declared itself in favour of any other — I have however in pursuance of my friend’s advice suffered myself to listen to the soft sayings of six different gents, who have honoured me with their attention. But in sooth, for I consider the advantages of single blessedness so far superior to those which you married people possess that you will not marvel much at the objections made to them severally.

The first gentleman upon the list had the misfortune to have but one eye and that one taking the same turn as my own, the eyes would necessarily be always following and never meeting. This I could not endure as I hold the eye to be the index of the soul, to say nothing of the remarks which such a coincidence must excite. For example, “Here come Mr and Mrs ----, always on the look out

The second is a man of great eloquence but so rapid a talker that I can never edge in a word. Perhaps, Sir, you may have found out ere now that females like to make use of their tongue but to have one’s thoughts called up and one’s wits set afloat and yet not have the power of using them — Ye Gods! it would be too much for female mortality to bear. Besides I love an argument to my heart and this would be denied me — Even now when addressing me on the most tender subject (excuse my blushes) he cuts me off with “I read your answer in your eyes.” Nothing but his own vehemence could excuse so gross a misapplication of words. But I forgot to say that this gentleman was in the laws.

The third gent. is an amateur of music, has a fine voice, and thinks he cannot exert it too much. He practises his shake in every corner of the house and if he is kept waiting a few minutes before I make my appearance, he is in one of his fine cadences and I am obliged to wait patiently till he has seen himself out. Beside his crescendos, diminuendos, and a long et cetera of Do’s, verily, Sir, I was as some wild canary bird.

The fourth stood a great chance of success had he not been an enormous snuff-taker. Now, Sir, I hold it against all rules of decorum for a married man to take snuff while a woman stands exposed to a perpetual catarrh. Besides who would submit to their carpets &c. being spoiled by so vulgar a vegetable. To be silent about the tinted nose, the powdered shirt, and the motley handkerchief — 

The fifth is in the church and had lately received considerable preferment thro the medium of Lady Dorothea Dictate but unfortunately he is so wedded to the opinion of this dowager that altho’ in search of a wife he can think, speak, nor dream of ought but her ladyship and the wonderful advantages which his wife would derive from so able an adviser. Now as I am a woman, a real woman, and like governing in my own way, I beg to be excluded.

As I doubt my meeting with any beings more likeable than the above, I now set myself down to be an old maid and as such I offer myself and future to your select Society. My disposition is I think tolerably cheerful and happy. I can sing a little, dance a little, read a little, and flirt a great deal should it not be against the established rules of Tabby Hall. Perhaps this question may be answered by one of the gentlemen who have lately been admitted as legal protectors to the fair inmates. By this I shall abide as I have an hereditary liking for these sons of deeds and parchment.

Diana Dainty