Letter from Miss Prudentia Quickset

Miss Flaxman

Tabby Hall Nov 15th 1812


After much deliberation and careful enquiry for precedents, I am at length satisfied that I may allow myself the liberty of addressing you by letter, without any violation of the decorum it so much behoves young ladies to observe.

That very useful and discreet person, Mr Barnaby Scratch our Secretary, has made you acquainted with the plan of our Society, but he has not informed you that I was the lady who drew it up, taking my idea from your very elegant and rational Attic Amusements.

My very dear and confidential friend Miss Biddy Buzz (who is blessed with a most astonishing memory) repeated to me the heads of a very interesting poem, at the reading of which she was fortunate enough to be present, and in the course of conversation with Miss Nettletop I confided to her the thoughts that poem suggested, which so much delighted her, that she declared, if a select number of ladies would unite their fortunes to form an establishment (provided I was one of them) she should be very happy to take upon herself the care of arranging the domestic concerns of the Society. We spoke of this to our most intimate connections, and the result has been what was communicated to you by the Secretary. I come now to remark to you Mr Editor, that some alarming innovations have been introduced which at first mortified me extremely.

In my original plan it was particularly specified that no male inmate whatever should be admitted, and you must allow the prohibition to be highly proper and decorous, even the Chaplain, a gentleman of most exemplary character and deportment, was to have been only a visitor at stated periods, but as soon as Miss Croaker arrived, she insisted that it was absolutely necessary to have a physician and apothecary residing under our roof. The vexation this proposal caused me brought on a fit of the bile, which terminating in the jaundice, eventually reconciled me to the measure and two very respectable professional men were nominated and I must do them the justice to say, that for men they behave with great decency, but still there is something so very shocking to my ideas of delicacy in being actually domesticated with persons of the other sex, that I cannot get the better of it, and I have daily tremors lest any one of these gentlemen forgetting his professional gravity, such venture to address such compliments and speeches to me as I have flown hither to avoid. I have suffered persecution of that kind, and there is nothing I so much dread as inspiring a passion which must be unhappy resolving as I have resolved never to listen to the sighs of Man.

But to return to the subject of innovation. Miss Sacharissa Murmur persuaded us to have a Secretary but the utility of this officer I am ready to confess as he acts for us on many occasions (independent of his nominal character) as a sort of steward or Major Domo. Besides which he plays whist, reads the newspaper aloud at breakfast, carves at dinner, serves for a cavalier when we go out, and always brings home a cargo of provincial intelligence when he has been to the next market town to make purchases.

If we stop here, Mr Editor, it might be well, but I greatly fear further additions. I believe that Mr Secretary hinted something to you concerning a solicitor. I am excessively shocked that the world should have any reason given them to suppose we should ever have occasion to add such a character to the Society. I intreat, sir, you will by some means, some poetical agency, warn the Community of the danger of such an admission, whereby our hearts (that is to say, all the hearts but mine), our fortunes, and above all our reputations will be endangered.

I shall not at this time trouble you further, but beg you to be assured of the perfect esteem and respect of


Your obedient servant

Prudentia Quickset

N.B. Miss Nettletop as the Senior of the Society would have written first, but is engaged superintending the making of quince marmalade, &c.