Letter from Barnaby Scratch

Miss Flaxman

To the Editor of the Attic Chest

Most Judicious Sir

On one of your Attic evenings last winter a poem was read, entitled “The Complaint” in which Mnemosyne meets a damsel in great grief for the loss of her lovers. The matron relates to her the discreet resolutions of several of her daughters, in consequence of similar disappointments.

This, sir, suggested to certain ladies the idea of forming a Society of Vestals on their Paroles d’honneur. This has been carried into execution, and there are already five fair inhabitants of the mansion. It is intended to limit their number to nine, consequently, there are four vacancies, and if amongst your friends there should be any lady desirous of withdrawing from the miscellaneous society of the world to be one of a chosen few, she will be received with particular deference if recommended by you, to whom they look up as in some degree the founder of their community and in order that you may be enabled to judge impartially of the Society, the ladies have desired me officially as their secretary to send you a description.

List of the Ladies who now form the Party as well as a slight sketch of their plan.

Each lady brings her fortune whether large or small to the general fund. When she quits the community she withdraws one half which decrease of property will serve as a touchstone upon which she will prove the good faith and disinterestedness of the leaver.

The full liberty of visiting and receiving visitors.

There is a good library, the regulations of which hang of the chimney. (For the laws of the Society at large apply to the secretary.)

Ladies of the Society

First — Miss Rebecca Nettletop

A very notable and discreet lady, vastly useful to the Society, being a very Buchan in medicinal and Rumford in culinary matters.

Has chosen this plan of life, that her talents may have greater scope than in a female establishment of her own.

2 — Miss Sacharissa Sophia Murmur.

A lady of a very gentle pensive turn of mind, a disappointment of a tender nature gives a soft shade of melancholy to her features, her conversation, and her elegant poetical effusions.

3 — Miss Annabella Squib

This lady is of a sprightly disposition, fond of society and conversation, she enlivens us occasionally with humorous compositions both in verse and prose. She desires me to declare her intention of becoming a frequent correspondent of the Attic Chest.

4 — Miss Prudentia Quickset

A lady of the strictest propriety and decorum of manners, who likewise wishes to address you, sire, as a person of gravity and discretion concerning some hints she intends giving for the better regulation of this Society.

5 — Miss Cassandra Croaker

Possessed of the most extraordinary prudence and foresight, and having dreamt lately of publishing a new edition of Artemidorus, is quite determined to put it into verse and means to consult you on the measure most adapted to the purpose.

All the ladies desire their most respectful compliments to yourself and the Editress and hope their communications will be received with indulgence. I remain with great respect, sir,

Your most obedient and devoted Servant,

Barnaby Scratch

Tabby Hall
Octr. 15, 1812

P.S. I am requested to add that the Society beg you will mention their plan to the lady who was so unsuccessful in her advertisement last year. She may be assured of meeting with the most sympathising attention and they flatter themselves that in every respect their institution will be found eligible for a lady so situated.

The officers of the society are

The Rev. Willoughby Woodbine, Chaplain

Comfrey Cardomam M.D. Physician

Jeffery Julep Esq. Apothecary

B. Scratch, Secretary

When the number is completed it will be requisite to retain a solicitor.