15th September 1830

Mrs Elinor Vicary

My dearest Martha,
What a joy it was to receive your letter so soon after my visit. Tunbridge Wells seems so very quiet after the gaieties of Brighton and Mrs Hogg’s simple fare no match for the magnifience of Mrs Simpson’s dishes. How well she made our supper that last evening. I am sure the old King himself would have been well pleased to have it set before him.
On my return to York Road Tyson, the footman, was nowhere to be seen and Mrs Hogg was forced to open the door to me herself, our maid being at her mother’s for the afternoon. How I wish I could once more afford a proper household, such as I had in Plymouth when Commander Vicary was alive. It is hard indeed to live on a widow’s pension and my own money becomes less each year. William lives well enough on his pay and his inheritance and I thank the lord that dear Harriet is so well set up in Devonshire. You are at least fortunate that Thomas makes a generous allowance for you and the household. I am sure that the Government will recompense him when the time comes and surely the plantations must bring in income.
You are correct to think of giving the muslin to dear Martha, for she is young and the young always need new clothes and gee-gaws to amuse them. She is a pretty girl and I, too, am surprised she has no obvious suitors. Are you sure there is no secret dalliance? Young women nowadays are very prone to this form of flirtation and although Martha is a sensible young woman I do not believe that any young woman stays sensible in the face of romance. I am sure the coachman or her maid will know the truth, for they always do. To have her married would bring you the comfort of grandchildren and the sound of merry voices once more, for you live too quietly. Marry, I know that both your husband and your son are loud but you need loving and soothing conversation.
My best advice concerning your husband is to bid him stay longer at the port after the cloth has been cleared. It may inflame his senses but it will render him unable to pursue his base desires and you may, with justice, bid him get himself to Waterloo Street. You, I know, will smooth your path to Morpheus with blessed laudanum. At all costs keep your son from the maids, for it will be a trouble on the household if he is incontinent.
Forgive my plain speaking, my dearest Matha. I am your true friend and speak only in your best interests.
Your loving and constant friend,
Elinor Vicary
PS I may order some taffeta silk from Jerram for a new gown for the Festivities. Dear Harriet and Courtney’s friends are so grand and my sister Maria scowls whenever she sets eyes on my old velvet gown.