Letter from the West Indian

Miss Vardill


As you have intimated that the defection of certain favored gentlemen justifies the advances of other candidates, I hasten to express my gratitude for the grave impertinence of Donald, and the sugared ice of Damon which provoked their dismission.

First, madam, allow me to exculpate myself from the libel of an anonymous letter-writer who pretends to have witnessed the memorable transactions of May-day in Birchall’s music shop. I say pretends, because if he had really assumed the office of shopman, he would have known that a superfine coat and an elastic toupee from Ross’s emporium are more necessary qualifications for that office than an old surtout and a secondhand wig. If we wore the latter articles, I suspect he was under no necessity of borrowing them, but only invented this ingenious excuse for wearing the best he had. The intelligence he has published so scandalously must have been gained by peeping through the shop-windows; for I am too well acquainted with the high priests of music to believe that he gained admission into the recesses of Birchall’s temple: Indeed, madam, I must be permitted to hint that your choice of this celebrated temple for the place of assignation was a pointed and peculiar invitation to me, who am Birchall’s principal patron, trustee of his affairs, and honour with my name the dedications of his best works.

Your anonymous libeller presumes to assert that not choosing the trouble of attending your appointment myself, I sent my servant “as soon as I awoke”. I shall confute this charge by informing you that I was not awake at all during that distinguished day. He is another proof of this informer’s ignorance and audacity. Where did he ever find a fashionable man awake so early as two in the afternoon? No, charming advertiser! I understand my rank and privileges too well to trouble myself or even to see when the sun sets or rises! Nor let this acknowledgement confirm your opinion of my indolence. I rise as early, think as much, and speak as often as any gentleman who spends his time in eating pineapple-ice in Bond Street, leaves his barouche at the door of the literary institution, yawns over the last Newmarket intelligence, and dines in time to attend the last dance at the opera-house.

That I sent a deputy-surveyor to Bond Street at your hour of assignation, I confess; for, improving on the fashion which multiplies secretaries, I keep one to think for me. That I did not attend myself was due, not to personal indolence, but to a gentleman-like respect for your character. Without vanity I may say my equipage is too well-known to escape notice; and had I followed you a step, or addressed a single word to your ear, not Birchall’s shop only, but all Bond Street would have been crowded with envying admirers! To lessen the delicate regret which you express for having exposed yourself to a gazing assembly on that occasion, I beg leave to hint that half the visitors in Birchall’s shop came to show me due respect and to obtain new claims to my notice. But like other prudent people in this fortune-hunting age, I require a great deal of courtship.

Thus far, madam, I have deigned to answer the sarcasms of a nameless writer who, even by his own account, is obliged to borrow clothes before he can look as well as a music-shop-man. Next allow me to remove the anxious flutter of hopeful curiosity which ladies always feel on such occasions. Upon my honour, madam, I am very well satisfied with you: that is, as well satisfied as an Adonis can be with any one except himself. Donald, with a degree of insolence which would provoke a challenge if duels were not ridiculously vulgar, intimates his dislike to the mahogany hue of your complexion: I, on the contrary, am pleased with its resemblance to mine; and heard with no displeasure that the weight and majesty of your deportment and the number of inches included in your diameter, seem proportioned to my own. The peculiar flatness and breadth of your visage, and the capacity of your mouth are no defects; for mine, as Lavater say, “is like a vessel formed for a good freight.” And as fine teeth are a material recommendation, I may add that mine boast the whiteness of the elephant’s, well contrasted with black streaks. My other accomplishments were enumerated in a former letter; but when I mentioned my perpetual faculty of speech, I forgot that as you had enough for both, mine would be a superfluity. My chief fear rests, madam, on you predilection for blue eyes: but as questions respecting rent-rolls never seem to escape your memory I venture to defy either Donald or Damon. For as these gentlemen express such aversion to gold-coloured faces, I presume their imaginations are only offended because they are reminded of that metal’s absence from their pockets. Their praises of moonshine would be less tender if they were not often obliged to sup upon it: and Donald, when he lamented (in his last serenade) the absence of “grazing cattle,” very plainly hinted a want of butter and cream at his breakfast-table.

To conclude, madam, as the hardness of a husband’s head is pronounced in your advertisement the criterion of his mind, I venture to submit mine to manual experiments. When I inform you that no elegant society could be complete without me, I meant to imply that the Attic Readings are always honoured by my presence. Therefore at half past nine o’clock on the ensuing Wednesday evening, when the Chest of Wit is closed, I shall present myself to the company, and challenge the experiments of all the fair candidates for my favor then assembled. The lightest hand will determine the preference of

Your devoted servant

West Indian AGF

P.S. Alopex, thinking me asleep has often darned his coat in my presence. I say nothing more: —  A rival’s feelings should be respected. But if Master Simkin Slenderwit desires any more holes in his surtout, my sword or pistol is at his service.