27 February 1831

Mrs Elinor Vicary

My Dear Martha,
What joy to receive a letter from you, coming as it has in the middle of such a miserable week and at the end of such a dreary month.  Life has been most dull here in Tunbridge Wells and I have lacked any company of note since I returned.
The rain that has beset you and dear Lady Ponsonby (how I love her already)  has fallen with equal vigour here. This cold winter is turning into a damp spring; our trees drip and the ornamental walks are indistinguishable from the rutted lanes that lie outside our city.  If, perchance, the sun dares to shine in contest with the clouds, then the wind comes back with greater vigour and extinguishes it.
To add to my woes, dear William is once again away at sea, and his letters to his dear Mama arrive infrequently and from strange ports. How I miss his company. If only, dear Martha, he would find himself a wife with whom I could keep company during his absences. The weather is so bad that I have been unable to visit Harriet in Devonshire, for she writes that they are quite cut off from the world. She keeps well but the children suffer for being confined to the house and make such a noise about their play that Guy spends yet more time with his steward. Daughters are such a worry until they are married Martha, but once they are safely settled with a husband of means and they have children and a household to manage one may perhaps begin to enjoy their company. I find distance no object to this; indeed, it may aid my relations with my dear Harriet. I trust you will find a husband for Martha very soon, for she is becoming an independent young woman with a strong will, and I cannot think any man of standing will find that to his taste. Forgive me for saying this, my dear, for you know I love Martha as much as I do you and her best interests are always in my thoughts.
What company you keep now that you are installed in Brunswick Square! I am sure Lady Ponsonby will soon come to look on you as a confidante. Who could resist your charm and Martha’s elegance? I am quite certain that Caroline Peasebody was destined to marry well from a very early age. I recall her Mama kept her away from all possible influence except that of herself and the governesses and dancing masters employed to fill her head very little except charming and frivolous past times that gentleman find so delightful in a young woman. A decent fortune ensures the match is well made indeed. I counsel you to offer no advice on the matter of the house. Lord Ponsonby is a proud man and he would not take kindly to interference. Surely there must be a housekeeper or a steward who might manage this for the silly girl?
As you may surmise, my dreary winter has not improved my temper. I gave been sorely deprived of company. How I long to join your tea parties;  they sound delightful,  Truly, a place where women might converse freely on the subjects that are most important and interesting to them, is a great boon. The menfolk have their clubs and their cards but for us there are few place where we may speak freely. I fear Mrs Markham, the milliner, hears quite too much and Mrs Walsh, our dressmaker, surely knows more secrets than she may say.  I long to be able to join a game of cards once more. When the dear Commander was alive I was much more in the society of gentlemen and often found their conversation most stimulating. I wish to hear more of Captain Swing, for he has cut a swathe through Kent and many are to hang. Many of the gentleman here, as in Brighton, talk of nothing but electoral reform. The argument they make for all men of property to be enfranchised seems to be most sensible. Do you suppose, Martha dear, we may one day enjoy that privilege, too? I understand some of the radical free-thinkers believe we should. I do not believe it will ever be allowed, for we lack the means to think so seriously about matters as gentlemen do.
My dear Martha, I look forward to sipping tea and enjoying Mrs Simpson’s fine cakes and fine dinners once more. I delight in your company and I shall wait eagerly for the first opportunity I may have to come once more to Brunswick Square. Do not become distressed by Mr Hankey, dearest. Remember he is a man and may easily be satisfied by a little care from those who surround him when he is away from your drawing room.
Your affectionate friend,