Mrs Finnegan, housekeeper from the 1830s ADVISES:

Mrs Finnegan, celebrated authority AND housekeeper at THE REGENCY TOWN HOUSE rattles through a number of queries this week in attempt to reduce her stock of unanswered mail to a manageable size. 

If you are still waiting for a reply rest assured, dear reader, that Mrs Finnegan will get to it in the by and by. It would be useful if URGENT ENQUIRIES were written in red ink

I have been reading your advice for some time. You sound like just the sort of no nonsense woman that I like.
My dear departed wife had similar attributes and I do so miss her. 
Would you consider meeting so we might get better acquainted?
I’d say we could take a stroll along the promenade but my legs aren’t what they were. 
Do you have any suggestions?
I wait in excited anticipation. 

Willing and Eager of Willesden

Mrs Finnegan replies
Thank you, Sir, for taking the trouble of enclosing your portrait. It has saved me a good deal of trouble.
I see from the date scrawled on the back of the canvas that it was completed OVER 10 years ago. 
With regret I must inform you that various work, religious, literary, social and sleeping commitments prevent me from meeting on ANY DATE you might mention now or in the future.

From PERSONAL EXPERIENCE I know that where the Housekeeper cannot equal the literacy ambitions of her underlings, she TURNS TO DRINK (from her mistress’ bottle) and her domestic arrangements lose all rhyme and rhythm. 

I would ABSOLUTELY discourage any young woman, especially if she is able, willing and literate to apply .


Mrs Finnegan Replies
Apply to me, do you mean? 

I wonder if you are you the same DS – briefly in my employ – whose work I once said was like that of a shoddy-grinder?  

This correspondence is now closed. 

Mrs Finnegan replies to the five people complaining about the weather

Miss Old Bones – Yes, ESPECIALLY in the morning. 

Master Cure-All – Frogs? Never heard of it, but perhaps in East Anglia

Mr House-Proud – Very sorry to learn about the damage, but you might as well write a letter to the EAST WIND as complain to me. 

Mistress Optimistic – You tell me SUMMER will start on Friday. There’s always ROOM for hope. Didn’t the Good Lord save one of the thieves and that’s not a bad percentage. All the same, I won’t be PACKING the wool vests away on THURSDAY night. 

Regretfully, I must point an error in the last edition of your chronicle (very promptly delivered to my door by coach and four for which I thank you).
When referring to your excellent guide on the goings on in Brunswick Square you used the expression

‘Are you at sixes and sevens about whom is whom?’

You cannot say ‘whom is whom‘ since ‘whom’ is object, and the phrase must therefore be ‘who is whom‘, since it must have a subject. 

The easy way to remember when to use ‘whom’ is to replace it with ‘him’ and who with ‘he’; and clumsy as ‘he is him’ may be, you will see it is infinitely preferable to ‘him is him’. 

I trust you  will forgive my pedantry in pointing out this trifling matter, but I wish to be of service in the endeavour of introducing grammatical purity to the world.

Mistress Sarah 

Mrs Finnegan replies
I assure you it ’twas not ignorance on my part but a MOMENTARY lapse of concertation occasioned (most likely) by a stab of grief, pin sharp, as I contemplated the image of the dear DEPARTED Mr Finnegan.

What DISTRESSES me greatly is that you were the ONLY READER who pointed out this ERROR. I was under the impression that the quality of the readership of this column (and the circulating chronicle issued on Tuesday mornings) had IMPROVED somewhat of late. 
It seems not. 

I am, gentle readers, Your obedient servant
Mrs Finnegan 

I feel much easier in my mind having Miss Martha back in Brunswick Square and the Mistress’ diaries to read and reflect upon (which she doubtless intended. The frequency of my own name in the pages leaves me in no doubt about that.) 

Here is the entry for the day mother and daughter returned.

My mission has been accomplished, Martha is with me as she should be. 

An urgent letter from a dear friend in Tunbridge told me I would find her staying with little Mary Louise who lives in a small cottage with her mother far from The Pantiles and I was able to sweep Martha away. It is true that she wept a little in the carriage on the way back to Brighton, and complained I am too overbearing, but I told her to dry her eyes before they became irreparably red and sore and other people would notice. 

A glass eye would shed a tear for Miss Martha. What a journey and what a mother. 

Mrs Finnegan did not believe Martha had fled there, but I KNEW. I am her mother after all but Mrs Finnegan persists in assuming that she knows the girl when in reality she has only the most superficial knowledge. We arrived home and she immediately went to her room and is there now. I have asked Mrs Finnegan to take her some soup and I will talk to her tomorrow.

Superficial! I could tell Mrs Hankey a thing or two. But I won’t, of course. Not a word. Now this entry was written only yesterday. 

I am quite disturbed after my long talk with Martha and also with Mrs Finnegan. It seems that my daughter formed an attachment with a dancing master called M. Etienne d’Arthur who lives in no 60 Brunswick Square! A dancing master! He had given her private lessons! And Mrs Finnegan allowed these to happen. I called in Mrs Finnegan and she had presumed that all was well because M. Etienne’s mother, who apparently gives art lessons, was to be present at all times. (How very naïve, I would have thought Mrs F more experienced). 

I was right about that MAN! O I wish was wrong. So, that’s why Mrs H was questioning me before dinner. I thought she was going to demand the account books (which are not quite ready for inspection). But Miss Martha did not have private dance lessons last summer – we both knew that would have been UNSEEMLY. And the dear young lady has a LIFETIME of dance learning behind her. She has EDUCATED feet. The Mistress has got quite the wrong idea. No! Miss Martha had art lessons with the mother and I was there too, although perhaps it won’t HELP to mention that.

Mrs Finnegan asked the mother if she was present at the ‘lessons’ and she apparently simpered and said how wonderful it was that the two young people were becoming ‘close’, at which Mrs Finnegan became concerned, as well she might. How very irresponsible of her to have allowed matters to progress so far. 

Mrs H gets everything the wrong way around. Of course Madam D’Albert was at the lessons – she was giving them. I may have said she was a SIMPERING SORT who would be well pleased if her son made such a MAGNICENT match (I marvel at my restraint – the THINGS I could say) . 

Fate, however, took a turn because it seems that the dancing master is a ladies man who cannot restrain himself and is now infatuated with a young girl who lives on The Steyne. 
He no longer wants anything to do with my daughter. She simply could not face me with her broken heart and scampered to Tunbridge Wells. Poor lamb.

Poor Miss Martha. I must rush to her but wait, there’s another entry written this morning. I must be careful as the ink is still wet. 

I will comfort my daughter and arrange a suitable circle of young people she may mix with. 
As for Mrs Finnegan, I do not know.

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