The Summer House

Miss Porden

We have been much amused by a strange sort of an Autolycus here, who has been pestering us with a whole pack full of projects. He wanted us to subscribe to more wild themes than Lord Aircastle ever patronized, though I believe Electromagus thought it would be a reflexion on his science to listen to him, but I found a good deal of amusement in some of his dreams. Among others he had a plan for lighting the mail coaches with gas! It was to be supplied by a vast reservoir in the new Post Office, and he gave out that his plan had been presented and approved by the expected architect. From this reservoir, elastic pipes were to be attached to all the coaches, to elongate as they proceed, and contract on their return. He amused the ladies very much by an account of his patent dress-maker, a machine which is to save them the trouble of handling a needle, or submitting to the cabagging impositions of a fashionable milliner. He boasts much of the success of a similar scheme in a large shoe manufactory at Battersea.

Lord Aircastle is expected in about three weeks, and then comes the day of trial. I have little fear of success as I shall trust to my own powers, though I have yet not got half through my poem.

I believe I must really tell of a charming little incident of this morning. I rose rather early, there was no fire in the breakfast room, so allured by the warm beams of the sun, and the mild fragrance of the vernal gale, I strolled into the grounds. But what was my surprise, my delight, on approaching the summer house so frequently mentioned, to hear the soft tones of a female voice, accompanied by the lute. I thought at first that it was Lady Olivia, but the voice was more powerful, and listening attentively I caught part of the strain.

The flowers are bright on hill and dale,
And spring is warm in every gale,
Yet ah! no spring my heart can move
Bound in the frost of hopeless love.
Yet say! is hope for ever fled,
Are all the flowers she nourish’d, dead
Then why this tumult in my breast?
Why haunts his form my broken rest.
When reason’s hand, so coldly fair
Would force her from her dwelling there,
She clings more closely to the heart,
With life alone will hope depart!

’Tis said, that oft beneath the snow,
Green turf will spring, and flowers will blow,
Ah! thus the frequent sighs I breathe,
Reveal the latent warmth beneath.

Impelled by irresistible curiosity, I opened the door of the summer house, and perceived my Incognita! She was bending over a lute which Lady Olivia had accidentally left there, and singing with an earnestness that prevented her from marking my entrance, till affected I suppose by the coolness of the apartment, an unfortunate sneeze discovered me. She started up, the lute dropped from her hand, and her cheeks were suffused with the deepest crimson. A little confused myself, I attempted an apology for my intrusion, but immediately recovering herself, she said, “You discovering me here, Sir, appears so extraordinary that I hasten to explain the circumstance. The beauty of the morning tempted me early abroad. I had wandered unconsciously to the lower gate of this garden, and finding it unexpectedly open, and thinking it too early for detection, I could not resist the wish to enter. My love of science drew me to the summer house, where I had been sometime engaged when this lute attracted me.”

“To me, Madam,” replied I, “certainly no apology can be necessary for the pleasure of meeting you. These grounds are perhaps new to you, and surely worth seeing. Will you permit me to show them to you?” She complied, and we sauntered on till heard the breakfast bell ring at a distance. The easy propriety of her language, the delicacy, and often the depth of her reflexions, and the tinge of romantic sensibility, had so charmed me that I quite forgot Electromagus and his regulations. I started at the sound of the bell, and she asked its object. I informed her.

“I must then,” she said in something like a tone of regret, “hasten from this enchanting spot.”

“If you will join our breakfast party,” said I, “I will answer that Electromagus will always receive kindly those who are drawn to him by a regard for science.”

“No,” said she, “you have found me in a situation sufficiently embarrassing. I must not risk another more so.”

You will believe, Mr Editor, that I could not help attending her home, but alas! when we came in sight of the unfortunate cheesemonger’s shop, my thoughts and my spirits lost at once their elevation, and bidding her rather abruptly good morning, I quite forgot to ask if I might have the honour of calling on some future day, but hastened to Positive House.

Breakfast was half over, but Lady Olivia welcomed me with one of her sweetest smiles, saying she presumed my walk had been agreeable, while Electromagus gravely asked me why I had neglected to appear in the laboratory. “Tho’ I have been a truant, Sir,” said I, “perhaps my walk has not been less fraught with inspiration than the electric battery.”

“What!” said Lady Olivia, “has one of the Muses descended in person to favour you?”

“Madam,” said I, “Electromagus once informed me that Saussure thought the reason why exercise in the open air was more conducive to mental and bodily health, than the same exertion in a close room, is that the body attracts more electricity, and to show you that his is not entirely mistaken, I will write down the fruits of this morning’s meditation.” So saying, I copied what I could remember of my Incognita’s song, which Electromagus received very graciously, though he said that it might still have been benefitted by a few sparks. I thought Philemon and Lady Olivia laughed when it was handed to them, possibly suspecting that it was purchased. It is but just to say that I had no intention of appropriating the verses, till the mention of the Muse suggested its convenience. Farewell.

Your most obedient

Pertinax Townly