Michael Mitre to the Editor

Mr Flaxman and Miss Vardill

Worthy Sir

I hope you will pardon me for sending another letter of complaint so soon after the first. I am conscious it is very wrong to intrude our disagreeable concerns on such as have no interest in them, for as my dear mother often says, “Everyone has plagues enough of his own,” but indeed my present intention is not to trouble you for advice or on any other account, it is only to rectify a mistaken report circulated among the learned ladies and gentlemen of the Attic Society, “that Miss Kitty Maltravers is married to me.” Now, my good Sir, I do most earnestly beg you will contradict this report — for it is not true! — as I value the character of an honest man which I hope I shall always endeavour to maintain. Who could have raised it or for what purpose I cannot tell. Surely no one would be base enough to circulate such a story to prevent a young woman from settling in the world. I really feel very much for her and would rather lose all I have than commit the least offence against her, tho’ it should never be known to any one, for her behaviour was very considerate and feeling towards me during my illness at Tabby Hall, when I was treated worse than a dog by those who ought to have known better. Yet still I repeat my declaration that I never thought of Miss Kitty for a wife, nor ever said a word to her on the subject. I beg you will not ascribe this declaration to pride, because I possess some property or because Miss Kitty is a little odd in her manner of writing and talking, for we all have our defects, and a person with a good heart and fair character might marry into a king’s family without disgracing it! But you can’t suppose I was fickle enough to marry another person when I was covered all over with plasters for my wounds and bruises, when I had not an eye to see out of, nor a foot to stand on. I think of marrying at that time, why I could not look up, and I don’t know whether I ever shall look up again as I used to do. I have suffered so much in mind and body concerning that poor deluded Barbara who thinks herself so much wiser that everybody else! But thank Heaven she has cured my love for her, and I don’t know whether I shall ever marry at all, yet I shall give Miss Barbara a piece of advice, and all that are going the same road with herself, they may bake, boil, and stew their experiments, set the Thames on fire, smoke some people to death, blow up others, and revile those that frequent the church to learn their duty. But if this is the use of all their learning and science they would do well to look to their safety both here and hereafter. Oh! the hopes and losses I suffered at the very time idle people gossiped about I was married! Do you think it a trifle, Sir, to be jammed to a jelly, masked to a mummy, and live six weeks in bed under the full persuasion that every bone in my skin was broken? Why this alone is enough to make one as mad as a march hare, as distracted as the lovely Barbara! But I deserve it all for leaving my honest employment and my dear, good, indulgent mother who taught me my duty and always makes my home comfortable. I deserve it all I say, and it’s all for my good! It has been a good and sufficient lesson. Now Sir I shall just mention some other losses during my foolish excursion to Tabby Hall.

The late worthy alderman Sir Caesar Petronius Partridge and my father went upon the livery in the Joinery Company at the same time as my father and he were sworn brothers we were sure we should furnish his funeral whenever he died, and we were also sure it would be very grand, for there never was an alderman so beloved by the whole city! He was so great a patriot that he always contradicted what was said and done by minister, so great an orator that fewer people went to sleep during his speeches than those of any other member of the court or common council, but he shone chiefly in his military capacity and distinguished himself in the storming of Greenwich Park Wall and the blockade of the under game keeper’s house, and if it had not been for a timorous gentleman in the neighbourhood who indicted Sir Caesar for a nuisance before the bench of justices, which stopped his gallant career nobody knows how much he would have astonished the world! Judge yourself Sir with how much spirit this attack must have been conducted when at the first onset all the deer flew over the Park Wall and never stopped ’till they reached the powder mills at Dartford! Oh! poor Sir Caesar he was a most gallant and accomplished officer as any between Temple Bar and Moorgate — but the last turtle feast proved fatal to him. The day was hot, the symptoms all came on at once before any assistance could be got. If there had been time for laying before the fire, oiling, and the exhibition of Epicurea, all would have been well. Oh! he was an irreparable loss to the city!!! But my own mortification in losing our friend’s funeral was aggravated by the following circumstance. Sam Shaving whom I discharged from my employment for irregular conduct opened a shop over which he wrote “Saml. Shaving, Cabinet Maker, Upholder and Undertaker, Successor to the late Mr Mitre. N.B. No connection whatever with the house four doors higher up.” By this and other artifices in my absence he obtained Sir, Caesar’s funeral and a very grand one it was, there were all the train bands with their artillery and colony, all the Duke of York’s Band and the Pandeans, the alderman’s body armour was carried in the possession just finished by the tinman in Fleet Street and his war horse was shot over his grave. Not killed, they only fired powder over his head in honor of his deceased master.

However Sir no ill action goes without its reward for Mr Shaving is likely to lose his money as poor Sir Caesar was a very generous man and has left his family in great distress. I mention these circumstances to convince yourself and the Attic Society how little disposed I should be to form a matrimonial engagement under such circumstances, and remain with great respect

Your most obedient servant

Michael Mitre

High Holborn