On Pride and Prejudice
Lord Byron and Miss A
Matcham, near Sittingbourne, Kent
Friday 12 July 1811
My dear damnable officious Hobhouse–you have recommended worse things to me than staying these friends of yours but none more threatening of tedium–what did you mean by it? Is fl from London so imperative that I must Mput up with a leg-of-beef-eater, his vegetative wife, and three daughters as fibrous as so many string beans? I arrived late, begged off supper, spoke two words to the Matchams (who are welcoming, I grant you) and repaired upstairs to write this–my head seethes with venom. Heaven spare you tomorrow if the other guests resemble the plain Jane I glimpsed, fixing me with the cursedest Dragon stare ever wielded by maidenhood. Byron.
Hobby, you are forgiven and forgot. Only an Angel could earn you this mercy, an Angel who may vouchsafe . . . but more hereafter. The day began abominably. I was up early for me (eleven) but late enough to hope for solitude at breakfast. Not so. I entered upon the same Dragon of last night, alone and a-contemplating of . . . not her fricassee, but a sheet of paper covered in writing. This she at once hid with sinister composure beneath her table napkin. Another damned female diarist!
My animadversions of last night were half-unjust, for she is not plain–indeed, the figure is light and the face pleasing–except that the eyes, being of a clear, accusatory hazel, still darted fire.
I said nothing, helped myself to a slice of bread (to which I would …