Monday, 25 April 2016

Sunday,September 3rd 1837

Some time ago I recorded in these pages that Fisher, in his enthusiasm to clear the city land, was offering a cash payment to all comers who cut down trees about the place. I predicted at the time that this would come back to bite him in the arse and to be sure, it has. First it has become clear that he had no authority to offer payment for such a thing and questions are being asked regarding exactly what he thought he was doing.

And of course, once money starts changing hands for cutting down trees, every Tom, Dick and Harry wants to get their slice of the pudding and trees have been felled left, right and centre, whether they needed to be cut down or not. I notice that Bingham Hutchinson is offering five pounds reward to find out who cut down a tree on his land and is proposing to take the man and his chopper to court and throw the book at him "to the utmost rigour of the law". 

Truth to tell with Judge Jeffcott in charge, "the utmost rigour of the law" is neither all that rigourous or particularly utmost, but good luck to him, I say.

Apart from this, Fisher seems to have pulled his head in now that Gouger has been sent packing. There was talk of Gouger and Mann taking legal action against me and suing for some exhorbitant sum because they had suffered "wrongful imprisonment". I take this to mean that they were invited to sit on my sofa for a half an hour after they were caught beating the bejesus out of Gilles. The rest of the Colony took it that way as well, and they dropped all talk of action after they became something of a laughing stock.

All in all a quiet week and long may it continue such!

Of course a quiet week officially can only mean trouble at home. The recent celebration of His Majesty's birthday has, I fear, whetted Mrs Hindmarsh's appetite for (I shudder as I write this) dancing. And need I add that where there is one dancer, there must inevitably be a partner! And that, naturally, means me.

I think it fair to say that I am not naturally gifted in the Terpsichorean Arts, nor do I move with sylph like grace. In fact I have not really danced since I was a cabin boy on the old Bellerephon. But that is not about to deter Mrs Hindmarsh.

How Mrs Hindmarsh thinks we look

And so I have been spent my time being trained in the Quadrille, English Country Dances, the Scotch Reel and the Cotillon. All hands have been called to man the pumps and so I have found myself being partnered with my wife, my daughters and even, to my horror, though to her evident delight, Widow Harvey. 

I must admit that many toes have been trodden upon, much furniture overturned and a number of vases and dishes broken. But Mrs Hindmarsh seems to think that we are as graceful as the ballet at Covent Garden and has been in transports of delight. 

How I fear we look.

She has taken to inviting friends and acquaintances for "Salons de dance". I cannot imagine that these friends and acquaintances are enthused by their receipt of the invitation,but when Mrs Hindmarsh insists what choice do they have?

My daughter Mary plays the piano with her usual abundant enthusiasm and minimal talent and there is much clomping about the living room and graceless hilarity. 

The men of the party have enjoyed my latest batch of beer. Since I obtained some rum barrels and have been using them instead of sauerkraut barrels the flavour of my drink has improved marvelously  Our men guests have all commented on how delicious it is and have not held back in their consumption of it. In fact, some of them have given it quite a nudge and have made rather an untidy mess of themselves.

This has resulted in Mrs Hindmarsh's "salons de dance" becoming somewhat more bacchanalian that polite society in London might deem proper, especially when Mr Gilles is a  member of the party and brings a supply of his own of brandy.

Mrs Hindmarsh has been kept busy making lists of people not to be invited again and I fear that most of the colony will soon be disallowed.

My daughters of course have also wanted to take things too far and have begged us to allow the Waltz at these evenings. This dance, unsurprisingly popular on the Continent and, I suspect,  invented by a Frenchman, is a prodigy of licentiousness and voluptuous immorality. When I say that the waltz involves the dancers clasping each other front to front then it will be readily evident that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. Of course, my daughters, who are now beseiged by suitors, want nothing else and say that their evening will be incomplete without waltzing. I was surprised to hear that my sister Anne was of the opinion that we "could at least try it and see where it led".

A group of beer sozzled men embracing young ladies and moving rhythmically about the room with them? Oh I think we can predict where it might lead and I do not think I need to be encouraging that sort of thing with a Vice Regal imprimatur. 

The mad poisoner has offered to prepare a selection of "niceties and finger foods" as she calls them. I do not know exactly what "finger foods" might be, but I fear that she will demand a supply of fresh fingers.

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