A Man of Independent Mind
Clorinda Cathcart’s Circle
Volume 2: Alexander MacDonald, MA
Alexander MacDonald M.A. (Edinburgh), takes ‘the finest sight a Scotsman ever sees’, the road to London. Political views: radical. Philosophical tendency: Utilitarian. Private inclinations: towards his own sex. Favourite poet: Robert Burns. Fortune: none. Influential friends: none. Social graces: minimal. Intellect: superior. He anticipates finding friends and comrades – maybe even, since a man may hope, a lover – among those of similar kind. He is going to be surprised. Very surprised.
You might like to read the Chronology & Reading Order for these books & also the notes for this book: A Man of Independent Mind: Allusions and References:.
View Cast of Players
- Admiral Knighton
- Alf White
- Basil Linsleigh
- Beatrice Reveley Yeomans
- Belinda Gorston, Marchioness of Bexbury
- Bert Edwards
- Bess Ferraby
- Biddy Smith
- Beaufoyle Beaufoyle, Duke of Mulcaster
- Captain Reuben Gold, RN
- Captain Denys Penkarding
- Charlotte Brumpage
- Clorinda Cathcart
- Colonel Adams
- David Samuels
- Deborah Samuels
- Thomasina Docket
- Dorcas Chapman
- Dr James Asterley
- Euphemia Bennett
- Flora Ferraby
- Gretchen Hahn
- Gordon Marshall
- Hal Ferraby
- Hannah Clorinda Roberts
- Harry Ferraby
- Hector Wilson
- Helen Dabney
- Franz Hahn
- Herr Karl Paffenrath
- Horatio Knighton
- Jacob Samuels
- Jane Tempest Knighton
- Jerome Fallon
- Johnny Yeomans
- Josh Ferraby
- Julia Perrott
- Julius Roberts
- Lady Anna Merrett
- Lady Catherine Beaufoyle
- Lady Demington
- Lady Diana Ambert
- Lady Emily Merrett
- Lady Jane Beaufoyle
- Lady Louisa Merrett
- Hester, Countess of Nuttenford
- Lady Raxdell
- Lady Rosamund Saxorby
- Lady Sarah Channery
- Lady Zellen
- Miss Lalage Fenster
- Lizzie Smith
- George Parry-Lloyd, Viscount Abertyldd
- Lord Ketterwell
- The Marquess of Offgrange, FRS
- Gervase Reveley, Viscount Raxdell
- Lord Raxdell
- Lord Rollo Beaufoyle
- Beaufoyle Beaufoyle, Lord Sallington
- Lord Saythingport
- Charles, Lord Undersedge
- Viscount Vinwich
- Marcello Traversini
- Sebastian Knowles
- Matt Johnson
- Maurice Allard
- Meg Ferraby
- Miranda MacDonald Yeomans
- Amelia Addington
- Miss Maude Coggin
- Hattie Daniels
- Martha Knowles
- Fanny Minton
- Lucy Netherne
- Agnes Simpson
- Viola Knowles
- Molly Ringen
- Mr Cartwright
- Enoch Dalgleish
- Raoul de Cléraut
- Mr Evenden
- The Honourable Mr Edward Merrett
- Josiah Ferraby
- The Reverend Mr Gorston
- The Honourable Mr Geoffrey Merrett
- The Reverend Mr Hugh Lucas
- Alexander MacDonald, MA
- Mr Quennell
- Elias Winch
- Eliza Ferraby
- Mary Theresa O'Callaghan
- Eldred Mysell-Monting
- Nat Barron
- Nell Jupp
- Nick Jupp
- Orlando Richardson
- Philip Dabney
- Phoebe Wilson
- Prue Brown
- Quintus Ferraby
- Rebecca Gold
- Reynaldo di Serrante
- Rowley Dabney
- Sam Jupp
- Sir Barton Wallace, MP
- Sir Charles Fairleigh
- Sir Godfrey Allder
- Sir Hartley Zellen MP
- Sir Stockwell Channery
- Sir Vernon Horrobin
- Sophy Lacey
- Sukey Wallace
- Susannah Wallace
- Terence Offerton
- Thomasina Jupp
- Tibby Phillips
- Timothy Smith
- Titus Marshall
- Thomas Ollifaunt
- Tom Tressillian
- William Wilson
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Read Chapter 1 ...
Encrypted passages in a curious commonplace book
It is not known how this set of commonplace books, inscribed on the flyleaves ‘AMacD’, first came into the library that now holds them. They can be dated to the early decades of the nineteenth century on the basis of internal evidence. As with the genre of commonplace books more generally, they contain a very wide and miscellaneous range of material, the connections between which were presumably too apparent to the compiler to need any explication. One can discern a significant interest in the radical politics and philosophy of the day, with notes of conversations and lectures attended, extracts from books, and personal commentaries, along with an interest in contemporary literature and the theatre. There are what appear to be the beginnings of several novels and plays. Several passages summarise the state of the laws at the time, including the matter of recompense for the seduction of servants and various questions to do with marriage and separation, including the procedure to obtain a special licence. Although several pages are devoted to the subject of digitalis and its use in cardiac afflictions, there is little on medical matters more generally. The recipe for Atholl brose is a unique culinary item. A number of very various documents have been pasted in or can be found inserted loose between the pages, from details of the coaches to Edinburgh and the times of Channel sailings to a scurrilous, indeed scabrous, verse about Venus and Mercury and several vulgar satirical prints, the import of which is somewhat obscure to the present-day reader. A curious element in these volumes is a number of passages interspersed throughout in what was either cypher or shorthand: it has now proved possible to decrypt these passages, which are of considerable interest.
Cypher notes - Volume 1
Offered a most eligible post as secretary to Viscount Raxdell, which it would be foolish in the extreme to reject — his political views remarkably sound for a fellow of his rank, a very commendable interest in making improvements upon his estates, I really could not cavil. When I first met HL [?His Lordship] I was inclined from certain signs to suppose him of a similar disposition to myself, but have discovered that he is well-known to be one of the accepted favourites of that noted courtesan, Madame Clorinda Cathcart. I saw them lately in his box at the theatre — much leaning close to whisper, playful tapping with fan &C, laughter at her sallies, for she is given out a woman of uncommon wit — they make what is commonly called a very pretty pair. This is probably all to the best.
In spite of my knowledge that there is no utility in it, it would be the utmost of self-deception to endeavour to deny that I find HL a fellow of most exceeding attractions. Today, I chanced to pass through the gallery on my way to the library (for a purpose I quite entirely forget) at the hour when HL’s fencing master comes for his daily practice. The sight of HL at this exercise entirely proved the verisimilitude of those lines of Sappho concerning fire under the skin, dimming of sight, ringing in ears, &C. Also, in my own case, considerable stirring of the membrum virile. Obliged to lean against a wall out of sight, gathering my wits and control over myself. Passionate envy of the Cathcart (peer of the gods indeed).
It can hardly be suited to my position in the household to go about questioning the servants as to whether ’tis an accustomed habit of HL, when somewhat flown in drink, to make comments of a personal nature concerning physical attributes, and seem inclined to amorousness. I was surprized into saying something about his own charms: but though exceeding tempted to take advantage of his state remarked that this was a conversation that should be had sober. I daresay he has no memory of this encounter.
Extremity of felicity (mutual).
Yet I caution myself against raising my hopes: are there not men that incline to both sexes?
Desired by HL to provide advice to Madame Clorinda concerning the seduction of her cook and the getting of her with child by a scoundrel that had obtained an entrée to her household under the guise of scientific investigations. Had a somewhat vulgar supposition that I should find myself quite in some scene from Hogarth: both she and her household in entirely the finest of taste and indeed did I not know her profession I am not sure I could have deduced it. Most excellent strong coffee such as I wish the kitchen at Raxdell House could learn to produce. Of great good sense and judicious apprehension over what might be done in the matter. Also put me very greatly at ease concerning her own relations with HL, and explained the necessary comedy that they at present enact of jealousy. However, although my mind is set at rest over the absence of any carnal relation between them, I now find myself envying what must be a very warm friendship such as I had not supposed could exist ’twixt man and woman.
Sight of HL kneeling before me troubling yet most thrilling, even before performance of act only previously known from references in the more salacious poets of antiquity. Spoke of this after: is this not the way things shall be once monarchy, aristocracy, church o’erthrown? he asks with that smile. No! says I, in that fine future none shall kneel to another — save, I add, perchance, at their desire, for this delight.
Cypher notes - Volume 2
Extremity of felicity, that cast us both into slumber: a dangerous thing for though the door is ever well-secured, did I leave when the servants were already stirring it would, I fear, cause gossip within the household that could prove most damaging. Woken by mutterings and cries of fear beside me, and finding HL moving spasmodically supposed him in nightmare, gently shook him awake and he clutched on to me with an expression quite of terror until he realized where he was. O, he says, drawing me close, o, my dear. ’Twas the old dream, he goes on, that I am a very small boy just sent to Eton — he shudders, and says a little about this, most extreme shocking for me to hear — that the greatest in the land send their small sons to such a pit of barbarity and depravity such as I had never imagined. It makes the dominie’s tawse that punctuated my own education seem trivial by contrast. I put my arms about him and tell him that he is safe now (as if fellows such as we could ever be safe). My dear G, I say, I am sorry that you suffer this and that I cannot always be by to wake you, feeling for him a depth of affection I know not how to put into words. This brings me the realization that this has become far more than a rational arrangement betwixt us that enables the mutually agreeable indulgence of passions deemed criminal: at least, upon my side there is also quite a profound tenderness.
Cypher notes - Volume 3
[Immediately following several pages of notes and diagrams concerning the mending of an ornamental garden fountain.]
Well, I will concede that I am a great fool, and that I entirely do not deserve such a friend as Madame Clorinda, let alone the affections of HL. Her kindness — her patience with my clumsy and misguided overtures — her self-command not to burst into mocking laughter as I sure deserved, but instead to calmly set out in the most admirable clear way the true nature of the matter — surely she is quite the finest of her sex. Though I daresay she would smile and remark that ‘tis ever the habit of my own to discount the qualities of hers, a fault I must admit to. Was she a man — but I smile at the very thought. Though indeed there are women that one may imagine thus translated, Madame C is such an epitome of the entirely feminine that one cannot begin to make the attempt. There are those will say, does a woman show any remarkable talents of intellect, o, she has the mind of a man, or, more like, nigh like unto the mind of a man, but does one not encounter a very great number of men whose gifts of intellect are none so remarkable?
But sure I go into these speculations in order to evade a feeling of guilt over what this ill-advized action might have portended — had she not been one whose wisdom in such matters far transcends my own — for my relations with HL? What a wretch am I to thus abuse his trust, his sweet unsuspecting nature. How could he suppose that I would take this stolen opportunity to embark upon such a rash experiment? What disaster I have avoided. How vividly she showed me my own suspicious and doubting nature, that I daresay provoked me into this wild course. Sure he deserves better of me.
It was those words of my dear friend concerning philosophical and scientific interest in investigating the carnal relations of man and woman that put it into my head how I might contrive to a certain matter that I had some apprehension would greatly gratify HL. Has never required of me that act that is supposed so exceedingly not to be named and a most particular abomination, for he has seen my own reluctance, even after observing the great pleasure he himself takes in it.
So, once we had retired to the chamber set aside for us, I put it to him that I had been thinking over the matter and that surely it ill befitted a philosopher not to explore those experiences that might come to him and that there might even be scientific interest in the matter.
And after dear G had ceased manifestations of mirth, and become more sober, he kissed me and said, my dear, sure there are many ways we may give one another pleasure, but if you wish to undertake this experiment, I will happily comply with your desire, with the proviso that you must tell me at once do you find it painful or distasteful. And then conveyed to me certain instructions as to how I should dispose myself, being unaccustomed to the practice. His soothing voice and his hands upon me did much to allay the sense of apprehension that I had in spite of my determination.
O. Any thoughts of philosophy and science were entire reft away in ecstasy such as I had never imagined.
When I finally returned to myself after this wild perturbation of the senses, I saw that dearest of smiles, as G said, ‘twas, I confide, not so dreadful, was it, my dear? I was yet unable to form coherent speech yet I think I gave him evidence enough of how very much the reverse of dreadful I had found it.
Cypher notes - Volume 4
Now my shock has somewhat receded, I discover a dawning curiosity about that act in which I surprized Clorinda with Mrs Ferraby — for indeed I obtained no very clear view of the matter, only a deal of wriggling and squirming and squeeking and sighing as they — I am like to suppose, but what do I know of the female amorous nature? — approached and attained the crisis. I find myself quite puzzling over it and have even resorted to the relevant shelves of the library where there are works on anatomy &C — HL’s father was no great reader and thus, for all his assorted and numerous debaucheries, one does not find any of those salacious works that might, perchance, better illuminate the matter. I could not see — but sure in the moment I was not in the best condition to make accurate observations — that they were employing implements upon one another. My reading, such as it is, inclines me to understand that there is a small organ about the female parts of considerable sensitivity that responds to titillation, and that such an action is recommended to husbands as a prelude to the conjugal act. Alas that I may not apply to my usual fount of intelligence in such matters: for to speak to Clorinda of the matter would, I fancy, appear in the light of vulgar and impertinent curiosity. As perhaps it is.
Cypher notes - Volume 5
I come to be in some concern over Marcello. I have given him considerable warnings concerning the stringencies of the law in this nation — I daresay there are some places of resort that may provide some security for fellows of like desires to encounter one another, but alas, I am entirely ignorant of such and am quite unable to provide any advice to him. The matter becomes more worrying as he begins to demonstrate a certain inclination towards myself — I fancy he does not need to sit quite so very close when we are about discussing this pamphlet, and there have been several sighing remarks as to how fortunate is HL, certain glances from flashing dark eyes rapidly veiled by drooped lashes (fie, I have just been reading over one of Clorinda’s Gothic tales: the style becomes infectious). Sure I know not what to do. Should I, perchance —
It is a very foolish thing. In principle I entirely subscribe to the notion of freedom of affections and the tyranny of church and state in imposing restrictions upon the heart, and in truth, G and I have sworn no oaths, though ‘tis ever rumoured that there are those that have, and sympathetic clergymen that will even perform some ceremony over them (though of course that is a foolish superstitious ritual). But —
I cannot be entirely indifferent to Marcello’s considerable attractions, but I am also given pause by his readiness with his stiletto, however great a service it has done us. But whether I should grant him indulgence of his desires — indeed I am in great confusion.
The most curious event this morn, when I went to visit Clorinda and unfold to her my concerns around Marcello. She listened to me with all sobriety for a while but eventually was overtaken by quite a paroxysm of mirth, quite unlike the dainty laughter she will normally manifest, bringing a flush to her cheek &C. Sure I have ever considered my disposition to be as firmly set and unchanging as the colour of my hair or the weakness of sight that necessitates my wearing of spectacles; and yet, as she laughed so heartily, felt the most distinct signs of desire even unto stirring of the m. v. I have been greatly missing dear G while he must be about the duties of his station at Ammerpark; but I would not have supposed that that would incline me in this direction. I said nothing, of course: doubtless had I done so she would have made allusions to love in idleness or fateful philtres; or perchance renewed that kind offer she made on that occasion in Surrey: but my sensations had nothing of the philosophical and scientific about them.
Great relief on discovering that my recent unwonted sensations concerning Clorinda must have been some passing frenzy. Able to feel quite entirely on our usual terms when I visit her. Only wish that I might disclose this strange vagary to her, for I daresay, with her knowledge of the phenomena of desire, she might have some thoughts upon the matter. Perchance as students of psychology suggest, some forgotten association brings it about?
Cypher notes - Volume 6
How very gratifying it is to have the opportunity to engage in discourse with such a fine classical scholar as Lady Jane. Not only does one apprehend that she was exceeding well instructed by her late uncle, that is very well-spoke-of, indeed, had some correspondence with the late Marquess; but has also kept up with her studies. Subject of course to those constraints that afflict any that are outside those charmed circles of the antient temples of learning: yet she reads extensively, acquires a deal of books and periodicals, and I fancy is most eager for one with whom she might converse on these questions. Such a fine liberal understanding — for I find McNair still somewhat like to be affected in his judgements by the teaching of the Kirk and notions of sin that ill befit a professed freethinker.
And, knowing her nature, I need not fear that there will another matter such as there was over German lessons.
Alas that I was deluded — quite the kindest offer, was I not situated as I am — what shall I do? — ’tis entirely a problem to lay in Clorinda’s clever hands, and I entire deserve any teazing she may bestow upon me. I will lay the matter before her, and submit to her judgement.
Indeed I feel a contrition that is quite overpowering towards dearest G, that does not chide, or even mock, even though I have behaved so very foolish and ill and ungrateful. Sure I endeavour to demonstrate —
He has by far the finer nature! As I stooped to make demonstration once more, he put his hands about my head and lifted it so that I might look him in the face. Dear Sandy, he said, you need not go about quite so desperately humble in making amends: I know there are interests of yours I cannot enter into, for I have no claim to any great learning. Moreover, do I not spend a deal of time in pursuits in which you cannot join, with the empty-headed wastrel set? I would not grudge you the pleasure of converse with the terrifying virago, do you find it there. Provided you do not go so far as to arouse a ferocious jealousy in Miss Addington’s bosom, so that she fancies you the Fair Rosamund to her Queen Eleanor —
Indeed, I have thought that the normally amiable Miss Addington had looked upon me rather scowling of late.
—you are entire at liberty to go take tea with Lady Jane, and talk of classics, for, my dear, ’tis all Greek to me.
Whereupon I punched him in the ribs and we were once more upon the usual easy terms.
Cypher notes - Volume 8
I am a wretched grudging fellow that was, I must confess here, quite spiteful towards dearest G the e’en. He came to display himself to me in his costume for the Contessa’s ridotto, that he had kept quite as a secret up to that moment. He had got himself up as some figure of a Highland Jacobite laird out of the novels of Scott —
That, I must concede, became him exceeding well. His legs can very well bear the exposure imposed by the kilt, and the bonnet, with a jaunty feather in it, perched rakishly upon his head, was so exceedingly becoming I wonder whether we may see it become the next style.
The whole impression, indeed, was such that I found myself carnally impressed quite entirely against my better judgement, and, my jealousy roused at the thought of his going into such a glittering company so very attractively arrayed, began to lecture and harangue and sermonize in, alas, my most entire John Knox style about the history of my nation, the very pernicious rendering of it that is found in Sir Walter’s works, &C, until he was obliged to leave.
I will go sneak into his bedchamber and wait up for his return so that I may express my entire contrition at this ill behaviour.
Sure I am entirely undeserving of such warmth of kind affections. Such exceeding fine amorous attentions.
Cypher notes - Volume 10
Perchance I may yet come about to be a dancing fellow. Sure, I was in some despair of the matter after the departure of the dancing-master, that I could see endeavoured to look encouraging whilst sighing inwardly that he had such poor stuff to work upon, and exhorted me to practise betwixt lessons. Finding myself with a little leisure from my duties, and the rain precluding any exercize in the nature of a walk, I therefore addressed myself to the task, in which I was discovered by G, coming to find where I was.
My dear, he said, and I observed that he was in some difficulty in concealing mirth, I am indeed gratified that you take so to heart the necessity to study upon these social frivolities, now that you concede to mingle more in Society. But I fancy that there is somewhat missing.
I snorted and said, innate physical grace in movement, I confide, I am an awkward gawky fellow.
O, said he, I do not think so, but do you suppose that to be so, why, you will be awkward. No, what I came at was that what was missing was a partner — I fancy that did you have one to dance with, you find the whole thing a deal easier to come at.
At this I frowned and said, I supposed I might ask Clorinda, but that I was in some concern that she would teaze —
Dear Sandy, said G, I should be entire delighted to take the lady’s part in such an endeavour, I think it would answer exceedingly. He went to ensure that the door was secured, and came over to me. Here, let me come demonstrate. For ’tis easier to see how arms should go do they not clasp a phantasm, and how feet should move are they to avoid a partner’s.
And he came up and made a dip as if to curtsey, and I made a leg as I had been instructed, and he commenced to hum a suitable melody, and took my hands, and conducted me through the various figures that had been presenting me with such difficulty, and indeed I found this answered very well and I began to think that mayhap I should not disgrace myself was I obliged to lead some lady out to dance.
Now, said G, there are still those will entire refuse to countenance it, but nevertheless, ’tis becoming common enough that I think you should be able to undertake it should the occasion arise: let us essay to waltz.
He clasped me in his arms and began to hum. O, indeed I can see why there are those that make moral objections to this dance, for, though I found myself waltzing most satisfactory — once one has caught the trick of it, ’tis an easy enough thing — there came a moment when we danced no more.
’Twas a little reckless, perchance. Yet — I fancy I might require a few more dancing-lessons, to entire polish my capacities in the matter.
Cypher notes - Volume 12
[Much of the 12th volume of the Commonplace Books is of the character of a travel diary, consisting of notes of information and annotations of matters of interest concerning travel across France and Italy to Naples, a sojourn at Naples, with observations on agricultural improvements being undertaken by his host, and similar records of a leisurely return to England.]
In turmoil. Slumbers broken, nightmares when I do sleep, what have I done?
G HL treats me with chill civility over any necessary business we are obliged to have dealings over. Perchance this sleepless state leads me into delirious hallucinations: for I thought, passing Eliza Ferraby in the garden, holding Flora and Quintus by the hand, that she pushed them behind her and stood growling at me like unto a she-wolf defending her young.
Still shaken by Clorinda’s revelation. Indeed there seem no undesired repercussions from her act.
I am a great fool, for my greatest wish is to unburden myself of my frets to that dear sibyl’s wisdom. When I think of how she endeavoured to conceal that I must have grievously wounded her by a response to her heroic act — an act she must have found revolting and distasteful in the extreme — so cold and — oh, confess it! — lacking in a due sense of gratitude for a great menace lifted from us — it is foolish indeed to wish to throw myself upon her womanly sympathy as I so often have when in distress of mind.
Surely she can be in no risque is she in company with the Contessa — has not fled alone and friendless, even is she not attended by Hector. And yet —
I must consider that the mind cannot always detach itself from the travails of the body, and I was very ill indeed crossing the Channel yesterday and am not yet fully recovered. This may account for my exceeding lowness of spirits and the phantasms my mind conjures up as the result of this precipitate flight.
But indeed, I do not think I mistook the languishing looks Mr Geoffrey Merrett has been casting upon HL after he has praised his talent with the ribbons, when they have passed a bout with the foils, &C, and mayhap ’tis my own jealous imagination that supposes —
Oh, write it and see that ’tis ridiculous! That do I return with our dear sibyl, I shall find that Mr Merrett is entirely part of the fribble set, acknowledged by them as a most particular favourite of HL — perchance even invited to come reside at Raxdell House, does Lord Undersedge undertake to go furbish up that dreary mausoleum of a town house. And what shall you do then, eh, MacDonald? Is it so ridiculous? A very agreeable young fellow of his own station, that manifests passionate admiration, rather than jealousy and resentments: how should he not gain entire preference?
Or that I may not persuade her to return. That she will jeeringly laugh at me, and turn upon her heel.
I fear that the ebullience of my mood upon the reconciliation with dear Clorinda — such generosity of spirit — such kindness — rendered me quite light-headed, even before we had sat down to dine and the consumption of a great quantity of Marcello’s exceedingly good wine followed by that strong fiery spirit grappa. This, perchance, entirely swept away any reluctance or hesitation I might have felt —
O, I delude myself. I was looking at Marcello and Alf and thinking what very well-set-up fellows they are, and considering that was a time when each of them had some notion towards myself, and sure I found myself by no means indifferent.
Even so, I was considerable startled to discover Alf’s hand upon my thigh, as he smiled very beguiling at me, and Marcello looked at both of us in a very ardent manner. And somehow, this led to carnal embraces such as I could never had imagined — or, to be entire honest, that I might have imagined, for there were scenes of a similar nature on some of the pots acquired by the late Marquess, but I could scarcely have figured myself as a participant in such a scene.
Cannot deny, that there was a deal of carnal gratification in the matter.
I must grant that it greatly soothes my spirits to find myself in receipt of such amorous attentions — and indeed, to find myself bestowing the same — and there is a deal of pleasure in the matter. But —
This masquerade of marriage, though doubtless very prudent, provides entirely too much occasion to find myself sobbing in most unmanly fashion upon Clorinda’s bosom. And while I cannot but admire her fine womanly sympathy in my travails — most especial when I consider that her own spirits must be troubled by the desire to return to her dearly loved ones and the slowness of our progress — I am also given to fear that I become quite tiresome to her. For I recollect that once, when I said that following her elevation she must be exceeding glad to be relieved of the carnal demands of her former trade, she smiled most mischievous and said, sure that was naught to having to listen with great attentiveness to fellows a-talking of themselves and their affairs. I had supposed that she alluded to such as Nixon prosing on or Pargiter voicing his opinions, or those of the fribble set discoursing of horses or cricket, mayhap the ovine bleatings of Pottleby: but I am led to a consideration that her immense sympathy of manner must have led to many confidences and perchance bewailing of unfortunate circumstances, that required a deal of feminine soothing, and not merely an agreeable listening expression.
I have several times endeavoured to start writing and been obliged to pause, lest I dew the page with my tears. The generosity — the kindness — the entire welcome I received entirely beyond my deserts. The sight of that dear face, quite lighting up with joy when he saw I was returned. No recrimination, no condemnation —
His confession of his self-recriminations, blaming himself for leaving the weapon with Clorinda, and having the direst imaginings of all the ways her endeavour might have come to an entire more adverse end —
My confession of my own shock at the sense of relief I felt at the knowledge that that fellow and the threats he posed were gone —
That had put us each into an entire confusion of emotions that had led to that dreadful falling-out.
There may be certain disclosures to make of matters that befell during our separation, but, indeed, we seem now in a restored mutual dedication.
Cypher notes - Volume 16
What a fine knowledgeable fellow is Dalgleish! I quite see why he is so valued by the Ferrabys. We were having an excellent discussion today of the various means by which one prevents the parts of machinery wearing and grinding upon one another, and the substances one may employ, and why some are to be preferred to others, and thus why he goes see various fellows that make experiments pertinent to the matter while he is in Town with his wife (a most well-educated lady that is a pleasure to converse with).
This discussion came to mind somewhat later in the day when I was about deploying oil and paused and remarked that perchance there might be yet better substances to the purpose? One might undertake experiments —
G laughed considerable and said, Dearest Sandy, I daresay there is an attic somewhere in Raxdell House that you might equip as a laboratory, but I should be extreme grateful could you put your mind to the business you are about.
[Here follow several pages of chemical formulae and experimental notes.]
This has proved a more difficult task than I supposed: I fancy a deeper knowledge of the sciences, and perchance a greater dexterity in experimentation, is required. For too often I have produced somewhat that smells horrid; or dries very fast; becomes very sticky (might serve as glue?); has a repulsively slimy texture; causes the skin to itch; and nothing that turns out entirely answerable to the purpose. I cannot come at any I might convoke with in the matter, alas.
G, however, smiles at me, and declares that has supplied a deal of entertainment, even have I found nothing more answerable than oil: and indeed, oil is a substance entirely readily come by, is’t not?
Cypher notes - Volume 28
[There were no more encrypted entries for several volumes, during which entries generally became more sparse, and then, near the beginning of the final surviving volume, the following passage.]
Over breakfast G and I were bickering a little, and then he smiled and said La, my dear, sure we are quite like unto an old married couple!
Tears came to my eyes, for indeed, we have been together now this very long while, and has there been no for richer for poor, in sickness and in health to the matter, apart from an occasional winter cold or such (and indeed, is there one thing afflicts the sweetness of G’s nature, ’tis a cold, that puts him entirely into the grumps), there has been a certain deal of for better for worse over these years, as well as much mutual society, help, and comfort.
Is there one thing that is a source of regret, ’tis that we must still be extreme discreet about sharing a bed, may not pass the night together except under some most unusual circumstance. Although I know that in G’s station ’twould anyway be the custom for husband and wife to inhabit separate chambers, I sometimes wish we might simply share a bed after the day’s efforts, without it was a matter of an assignation. He tells me that his nightmare is now exceeding rare, but I should wish to be there does it ever come to him.
But I should not repine: when I consider how society regards affections like ours, the severity of the laws, &C, and the penalties so many pay.
[This final volume of the AMacD commonplace books ends abruptly halfway through. Between two pages are inserted a large number of loose cuttings from assorted periodicals, reporting the death of Gervase Reveley, Viscount Raxdell, in a street accident which only his skills as a whip prevented from being a far worse disaster, but leading to his being thrown clear of his own curricle and fatally injured. There are also a number of obituary notices. On the following page is written three times I must be philosophical with a heavy line drawn underneath.]