Letter from Pertinax Townly

Miss Vardill

More last words from Sir Pertinax Townly! In sooth, Mr Editor, the task of detailing to you my adventures has so agreeably employed many of my leisure hours at Positive House that I am loth to bid you a final farewell; tho’ I cannot hope (notwithstanding the fashion of making domestic occurrences the subject of public animadversion) that the conversation of my fireside, yet happily unseasoned by a quarrel, can be of the slightest interest to you or the Attic Society. But the auction at Positive House gave me so much amusement that I think you may derive some from a description of it. This interesting sale finished yesterday, and tho’ the lottery offices have made rhyming advertisements sufficiently common, the whimsicality of the enclosed address attracted an extraordinary concourse. During the sale I could not help having many of the feelings of a proprietor; and it was not without regret that I beheld articles which I had so long seen and used, knocked down at half their worth to bidders who scarcely seemed contented with their purchase. The temptation to rescue many of these from their fate was irresistible. On the whole the sale was more productive than could have been expected and as fashionably attended as Catalani’s. Our splendid chemical and electrical apparatus was in complete order and fetched its full value. Much of Lord Aircastle’s most expensive frippery owed to the éclat of his name a better fate than it merited. Even the silk of his unfortunate balloon found a purchaser in an upholsterer commissioned to decorate a temporary apartment for a fete in honour of the Royal Nuptials: and Electromagus’s patent apparatus for measuring the genius of all who approached him received its worth as a common electrometer.

When the scenery, dress, and decorations employed in the representation of the lunatics were exhibited, I could not suppress a hearty fit of laughter. The clouds in which Astarte descended, the hydrogen organ, the blue lamps &c. &c. all recalled sensations exquisitely ridiculous. But when Meux’s broken vat was announced, I could not help remembering that in it I had first seen and first danced with my Incognita; so with a sly glance at her, I purchased ti as a summerhouse to adorn my country residence, and a mosaic pavement from the grounds to act as its floor. I shall easily metamorphose it into a grotto.

Next came a more whimsical medley — scraps of prose and poetry of every description met with in sweeping out the different apartments, particularly that of Atticus. These were eagerly caught by a crowd of would-be witlings, and I obtained some of my own purchased poetry at a considerable advance of price. Among other things were two reviews by Atticus of the White Doe of Rylstone or the Fate of the Nortons, one intended for the Quarterly, the other for the Edinburgh, but mis-sent and returned accordingly, as not suiting their politics. I enclose a few stray fragments, with some memoranda of the 4th Day’s sale on the last page of the catalogue. These, added to my own and Lady Townly’s united wishes for the prosperity of the Attic Institution, form the farewell offering of

Your sincerely obliged

Pertinax Townly

Mr Beauclerc is too happy to attend auctions — Atticus, I hear, has been brought from Bowness by a sheriff’s officer; Lord and Lady Aircastle are already on the Continent; and we have found a comfortable appointment for Electromagus, but whether Surveyor of Telegraphs or Keeper of the Eddystone Lighthouse, Beauclerc forbids me to say.

Grosvenor Square, May 22, 1816