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The experiences of beginner clinicians with adult clients. Journey from the Centre: Research Reports McCabe, P. Belinda obeyed the summons to her ladyship's dressing-room: She was in high consultation with Marriott and Mrs Franks, the milliner, about the crape petticoat of her birth-night dress, which was extended over a large hoop in full state. Mrs Franks descanted long and learnedly upon festoons and loops, knots and fringes, submitting all the time every thing to her ladyship's better judgment.
Marriott was sulky and silent. She opened her lips but once upon the question of laburnum or no laburnum flowers. Against them she quoted the memoirs and authority of the celebrated Mrs Bellamy, who has a case in point to prove that 'straw colour must ever look like dirty white by candlelight. Mrs Franks must let us see her again to-morrow, to take into consideration your court dress, my dear Belinda — "Miss Portman presented by Lady Delacour" — Mrs Franks, let her dress, for heaven's sake, be something that will make a fine paragraph: I have done a horrid act this day,' continued she, after Mrs Franks had left the room — 'absolutely written a twisted note to Clarence Hervey, my dear — but why did I tell you that?
Now your head will run upon the twisted note all day, instead of upon "The Life and Opinions of a Lady of Quality, related by herself. I shall not tell you my adventures as Gil Blas told his to the County d'Olivarez — skipping over the useful passages. I am no hypocrite, and have nothing worse than folly to conceal: But I begin where I ought to end — with my moral, which I dare say you are not impatient to anticipate. I never read or listened to a moral at the end of a story in my life: My dear, you will be woefully disappointed if in my story you expect any thing like a novel.
I once heard a general say, that nothing was less like a review than a battle; and I can tell you that nothing is more unlike a novel than real life. Of all lives, mine has been the least romantic. No love in it, but a great deal of hate. I was a rich heiress — I had, I believe, a hundred thousand pounds, or more, and twice as many caprices: I was handsome and witty — or, to speak with that kind of circumlocution which is called humility, the world, the partial world, thought me a beauty and a bel-esprit.
Having told you my fortune, need I add, that I, or it, had lovers in abundance — of all sorts and degrees — not to reckon those, it may be presumed, who died of concealed passions for me? I had sixteen declarations and proposals in form; then what in the name of wonder, or of common sense — which by-the-bye is the greatest of wonders — what, in the name of common sense, made me marry Lord Delacour?
Why, my dear, you — no, not you , but any girl who is not used to have a parcel of admirers, would think it the easiest thing in the world to make her choice; but let her judge by what she feels when a dexterous mercer or linen-draper produces pretty thing after pretty thing — and this is so becoming, and this will wear for ever, as he swears; but then that's so fashionable; — the novice stands in a charming perplexity, and after examining, and doubting, and tossing over half the goods in the shop, it's ten to one, when it begins to get late, the young lady, in a hurry, pitches upon the very ugliest and worst thing that she has seen.
Just so it was with me and my lovers, and just so "Sad was the hour, and luckless was the day," I pitched upon Viscount Delacour for my lord and judge. He had just at that time lost at Newmarket more than he was worth in every sense of the word; and my fortune was the most convenient thing in the world to a man in his condition.
Lozenges are of sovereign use in some complaints. The heiress lozenge is a specific in some consumptions. You are surprised that I can laugh and jest about such a melancholy thing as my marriage with Lord Delacour; and so am I, especially when I recollect all the circumstances; for though I bragged of there being no love in my history, there was when I was a goose or a gosling of about eighteen — just your age, Belinda, I think — something very like love playing about my heart, or my head. There was a certain Henry Percival, a Clarence Hervey of a man — no, he had ten times the sense, begging your pardon, of Clarence Hervey — his misfortune, or mine, was, that he had too much sense — he was in love with me, but not with my faults; now I, wisely considering that my faults were the greatest part of me, insisted upon his being in love with my faults.
He wouldn't or couldn't — I said wouldn't, he said couldn't. I had been used to see the men about me lick the dust at my feet, for it was gold dust. Percival made wry faces — Lord Delacour made none. I pointed him out to Percival as an example — it was an example he would not follow. I was provoked, and I married in hopes of provoking the man I loved. The worst of it was, I did not provoke him as much as I expected. Six months afterwards I heard of his marriage with a very amiable woman.
I hate those very amiable women. I should have been a very happy woman, I fancy, if I had married you — for I believe you were the only man who ever really loved me; but all that is over now! O, I married my Lord Delacour, knowing him to be a fool, and believing that, for this reason, I should find no trouble in governing him. But what a fatal mistake! We set out in the fashionable world with a mutual desire to be as extravagant as possible. Strange, that with this similarity of taste we could never agree!
During the first year of our marriage, I had always the upper hand in these disputes, and the last word; and I was content. Stubborn as the brute was, I thought I should in time break him in. From the specimens you have seen, you may guess that I was even then a tolerable proficient in the dear art of tormenting. I had almost gained my point, just broken my lord's heart, when one fair morning I unluckily told his man Champfort that he knew no more how to cut hair that a sheep-shearer.
Champfort, who is conceit personified, took mortal offence at this; and the devil, who is always at hand to turn anger into malice, put it into my lord's head, that the world thought — " My lady governed him. They say the torpedo, the coldest of cold creatures, sometimes gives out a spark — I suppose when electrified with anger. The next time that innocent I insisted upon my Lord Delacour's doing or not doing — I forget which — the most reasonable thing in the world, my lord turns short round, and answers — "My Lady Delacour, I am not a man to be governed by a wife.
My dear, I laugh; but even in the midst of laughter there is sadness. But you don't know what it is — I hope you never may — to have an obstinate fool for a bosom friend. My lord's case was desperate. Kill or cure was my humane or prudent maxim. I determined to try the poison of jealousy, by way of an alternative.
I had long kept it in petto as my ultimate remedy. I fixed upon a proper subject — a man with whom I thought that I could coquette to all eternity, without any danger to myself — a certain Colonel Lawless, as empty a coxcomb as you would wish to see. The world, said I to myself, can never be so absurd as to suspect Lady Delacour with such a man as this, though her lord may, and will; for nothing is too absurd for him to believe.
Half my theory proved just; that is saying a great deal for any theory. My lord swallowed the remedy that I had prepared for him with an avidity and a bonhommie which it did me good to behold; my remedy operated beyond my most sanguine expectations. The poor man was cured of his obstinacy, and become stark mad with jealousy.
Then indeed I had some hopes of him; for a madman can be managed, a fool cannot. In a month's time I made him quite docile. With a face longer than the weeping philosopher's, he came to me one morning, and assured me, "he would do every thing I pleased, provided I would consult my own honour and his, and give up Colonel Lawless. I replied, "that as long as my lord treated me with becoming respect, I had never in thought or deed given him just cause of complaint; but that I was not a woman to be insulted, or to be kept, as I had hitherto been, in leading-strings by a husband.
Upon this hint, I gave the reins to my imagination, and full drive I went into a fresh career of extravagance: This ridiculous game I played successfully enough for some time, till at length, though naturally rather slow at calculation, he actually discovered, that if we lived at the rate of twenty thousand a-year, and had only ten thousand a-year to spend, we should in due time have nothing left.
This notable discovery he communicated to me one morning, after a long preamble. When he had finished prosing, I agreed that it was demonstrably just that he should retrench his expenses; but that it was equally unjust and impossible that I could make any reformation in my civil list: I therefore advised him to reserve all he had to say upon the subject for the noble lord upon the woolsack; nay, I very graciously added, that upon this condition I would go to the house myself to give his arguments and eloquence a fair hearing, and that I would do my best to keep myself awake.
This was all mighty playful and witty; but it happened that my Lord Delacour, who never had any great taste for wit, could not this unlucky morning at all relish it. Of course I grew angry, and reminded him, with an indelicacy which his want of generosity justified, that an heiress, who had brought a hundred thousand pounds into his family, had some right to amuse herself, and that it was not my fault if elegant amusements were more expensive than others. It was, "My lord, your Newmarket blunders" — " My lady, your cursed theatricals " — "My lord, I have surely a right" — and, "My lady, I have surely as good a right.
In short, after running though thousands and tens of thousands, we were actually in distress for money. Then came selling of lands, and I don't know what devices for raising money, according to the modes of lawyers and attorneys. It was quite indifferent to me how they got money, provided they did get it. By what art these gentlemen raised money, I never troubled myself to inquire; it might have been the black art, for any thing I know to the contrary. I know nothing of business. So I signed all the papers they brought to me; and I was mighty well pleased to find, that by so easy an expedient as writing "T.
Delacour," I could command money at will. I signed, and signed, till at last I was with all due civility informed that my signature was no longer worth a farthing; and when I came to inquire into the cause of this phenomenon, I could nowise understand what my Lord Delacour's lawyer said to me: I sent for an old uncle of mine, who used to manage all my money matters before I was married; I put the uncle and the lawyer into a room, together with their parchments, to fight the matter out, or to come to a right understanding if they could.
The last, it seems, was quite impossible. In the course of half an hour, out comes my uncle in such a rage! I never shall forget his face — all the bile in his body had gotten into it; he had literally no whites to his eyes. Why, you are absolutely gold stick in waiting! But I will not trouble you with all the said I's and said he's. I was made to understand, that if Lord Delacour were to die the next day, I should live a beggar. Upon this I grew serious, as you may imagine. My uncle assured me that I had been grossly imposed upon by my lord and his lawyer; and that I had been swindled out of my senses, and out of my dower.
I repeated all that my uncle said, very faithfully, to Lord Delacour; and all that either he or his lawyer could furnish out by way of answer was, that "Necessity had no law. Having now found out that I had a good right to complain, I indulged myself in it most gloriously; in short, my dear, we had a comfortable family quarrel. Love quarrels are easily made up, but of money quarrels there is no end. From the moment these money quarrels commenced, I began to hate Lord Delacour; before, I had only despised him.
You can have no notion to what meanness extravagance reduces men. I have known Lord Delacour shirk, and look so shabby, and tell so many lies to people about a hundred guineas — a hundred guineas! O, my dear, I cannot bear the thoughts of it! I was intoxicated with the idle compliments of all my acquaintance, and I endeavoured to console myself for misery at home by gaiety abroad. Ambitious of pleasing universally, I became the worst of slaves — a slave to the world. Not a moment of my time was at my own disposal — not one of my actions; I may say, not one of my thoughts was my own; I was obliged to find things "charming" every hour, which tired me to death; and every day it was the same dull round of hypocrisy and dissipation.
You wonder to hear me speak in this manner, Belinda — but one must speak the truth sometimes; and this is what I have been saying to Harriot Freke continually for these ten years past. Then why persist in the same kind of life? Why, my dear, because I could not stop: I was fit for this kind of life and no other: I could not be happy at home; for what sort of companion could I have made of Lord Delacour? The first was a boy: My second child was a girl; but a poor diminutive, sickly thing.
It was the fashion at this time for fine mothers to suckle their own children; so much the worse for the poor brats. Fine nurses never made fine children. There was a prodigious rout made about the matter; a vast deal of sentiment and sympathy, and compliments and inquiries; but after the novelty was over, I became heartily sick of the business; and at the end of about three months my poor child was sick too — I don't much like to think of it — it died. If I had put it out to nurse, I should have been thought by my friends an unnatural mother; but I should have saved its life.
I should have bewailed the loss of the infant more, if Lord Delacour's relations and my own had not made such lamentations upon the occasion that I was stunned. I couldn't or wouldn't shed a tear; and I left it to the old dowager to perform in public, as she wished, the part of chief mourner, and to comfort herself in private by lifting up her hands and eyes, and railing at me as the most insensible of mothers. All this time I suffered more than she did; but that is what she shall never have the satisfaction of knowing.
I determined, that if ever I had another child, I would not have the barbarity to nurse it myself. Accordingly when my third child, a girl, was born, I sent it off immediately to the country, to a stout, healthy, broad-faced nurse, under whose care it grew and flourished; so that at three years old, when it was brought back to me, I could scarcely believe the chubby little thing was my own child.
- Natural Pregnancy A-Z.
- Attic (Ein Fall für Special Agent Pendergast) (German Edition)?
- La ruée vers Laure: Divagation (blanche) (French Edition).
- Anthesis (Art Version)?
Lord Delacour could not bear the child, because it was not a boy. The girl was put under the care of a governess, who plagued my heart out with her airs and tracasseries for three or four years; at the end of which time, as she turned out to be Lord Delacour's mistress in form, I was obliged — in form — to beg she would leave my house: There she will, at any rate, be better instructed than she could be at home.
I beg your pardon, my dear, for this digression on nursing and schooling; but I wanted only to explain to you why it was that, when I was weary of the business, I still went on in a course of dissipation. You see I had nothing at home, either in the shape of husband or children, to engage my affections. I believe it was this "aching void" in my heart which made me, after looking abroad some time for a bosom friend, take such a prodigious fancy to Mrs Freke. She was just then coming into fashion; she struck me, the first time I met her, as being downright ugly; but there was a wild oddity in her countenance which made one stare at her, and she was delighted to be stared at, especially by me; so we were mutually agreeable to each other — I as starer, and she as staree.
Harriot Freke had, without comparison, more assurance than any man or woman I ever saw; she was downright brass, but of the finest kind — Corinthian brass. She was one of the first who brought what I call harum scarum manners into fashion. I told you that she had assurance — impudence I should have called it, for no other word is strong enough. Such things as I have heard Harriot Freke say! But, to my astonishment, all this took surprisingly with a set of fashionable young men. I found it necessary to reform my manners. If I had not taken heart of grace, and publicly abjured the heresies of false delicacy , I should have been excommunicated.
Lady Delacour's sprightly elegance — allow me to speak of myself in the style in which the newspaper writers talk of me — Lady Delacour's sprightly elegance was but pale, not to say faded pink, compared with the scarlet of Mrs Freke's dashing audacity. As my rival, she would on certain ground have beat me hollow; it was therefore good policy to make her my friend: But I have no right to give myself credit for good policy in forming this intimacy; I really followed the dictates of my heart or my imagination.
There was a frankness in Harriot's manner which I mistook for artlessness or character: I, amongst others, took it for granted, that the woman who could make it her sport to "touch the brink of all we hate," must have a stronger head than other people. I have since been convinced, however, of my mistake. I am persuaded that few can touch the brink without tumbling headlong down the precipice.
Don't apply this, my dear, literally , to the person of whom we were speaking; I am not base enough to betray her secrets, however I may have been provoked by her treachery. Of her character and history you shall hear nothing but what is necessary for my own justification. The league of amity between us was scarcely ratified before my Lord Delacour came, with his wise remonstrating face, to beg me "to consider what was due to my own honour and his. Harriot Freke is visited by every body but old dowagers and old maids: I am neither an old dowager nor an old maid — the consequence is obvious, my lord.
I therefore saved the sterling gold, and bestowed upon him nothing but counters. I tell you this to save the credit of my taste and judgment. I, of course, repeated to her every word which had passed between my husband and me. She out-heroded Herod upon the occasion; and laughed so much at what she called my folly in pleading guilty in the Lawless case, that I was downright ashamed of myself, and, purely to prove my innocence, I determined, upon the first convenient opportunity, to renew my intimacy with the colonel.
The opportunity which I so ardently desired of redeeming my independence was not long wanting. Lawless, as my stars which you know are always more in fault than ourselves would have it, returned just at this time from the continent, where he had been with his regiment; he returned with a wound across his forehead and a black fillet, which made him look something more like a hero, and ten times more like a coxcomb, than ever. He was in fashion, at all events; and amongst other ladies, Mrs Luttridge, odious Mrs Luttridge! The colonel, however, had taste enough to know the difference between smile and smile: Wherever I went, especially to Mrs Luttridge's, envy and scandal joined hands to attack me, and I heard wondering and whispering wherever I went.
I had no object in view but to provoke my husband; therefore, conscious of the purity of my intentions, it was my delight to brave the opinion of the wondering world. I gave myself no concern about the effect my coquetry might have upon the object of this flirtation. Heart, I took it for granted, he had none; how should a coxcomb come by a heart? Vanity I knew he had in abundance, but this gave me no alarm, as I thought that if it should ever make him forget himself, I mean forget what was due to me, I could, by one flash of my wit, strike him to the earth, or blast him for ever.
One night we had been together at Mrs Luttridge's; — she, amongst other good things, kept a faro bank, and, I am convinced, cheated. Be that as it may, I lost an immensity of money, and it was my pride to lose with as much gaiety as any body else could win; so I was, or appeared to be, in uncommonly high spirits, and Lawless had his share of my good humour.
We left Mrs Luttridge's together early, about half-past one. As the colonel was going to hand me to my carriage, a smart-looking young man, as I thought, came up close to the coach door, and stared me full in the face: I was not a woman to be disconcerted at such a thing as this, but I really was startled when the young fellow jumped into the carriage after me: I thought he was mad: I had only courage enough to scream.
Lawless seized hold of the intruder to drag him out, and out he dragged the youth, exclaiming, in a high tone, "What is the meaning of all this, sir? Who the devil are you? By the laugh I knew it to be Harriot Freke. Lawless laughed, we all laughed, and drove away.
Fun and Freke for ever, huzza! Lawless, in his silly way, laughed incessantly, and I was so taken up with her oddities that, for the some time, I did not perceive we were going the Lord knows where; till, at last, when the 'larum of Harriot's voice ceased for an instant, I was struck with the strange sound of the carriage. Now don't fancy that Lawless and I are going to run away with you. All this is unnecessary now-a-days, thank God! I guessed and guessed, but could not guess right; and my merry companions were infinitely diverted with my perplexity and impatience, more especially as, I believe, in spite of all my efforts, I grew rather graver than usual.
We went on to the end of Sloane-street, and quite out of town; at last we stopped. It was dark; the footman's flambeau was out; I could only just see by the lamps that we were at the door of a lone, odd-looking house. The house door opened, and an old woman appeared with a lantern in her hand. But I am not come yet to the tragical part of my story, and as long as I can laugh I will. As the old woman and her miserable light went on before us, I could almost have thought of Sir Bertrand, or of some German horrifications; but I heard Lawless, who never could help laughing at the wrong time, bursting behind me, with a sense of his own superiority.
Colonel Lawless's laugh broke the spell. Harriot Freke, never whilst you live expect to succeed in the sublime. I will not trouble you with a pompous description of all the mummery of the scene, my dear, as I despair of being able to frighten you out of your wits.
I should have been downright angry with Harriot Freke for bringing me to such a place, but that I knew women of the first fashion had been with Mrs W— before us — some in sober sadness, some by way of frolic. So as there was no fear of being ridiculous, there was no shame, you know, and my conscience was quite at ease.
Dr Belinda Kenny
Harriot had no conscience, so she was always at ease; and never more so than in male attire, which she had been told became her particularly. She supported the character of a young rake with such spirit and truth , that I am sure no common conjuror could have discovered any thing feminine about her. She rattled on with a set of nonsensical questions; and among other things she asked, "How soon will Lady Delacour marry again after her lord's death? Colonel Lawless laughed; I was angry; and the colonel would have been quiet, for he was a gentleman, but there was no such thing as managing Mrs Freke, who, though she had laid aside the modest of her own sex, had not acquired the decency of the other.
Well, my dear, I am in a hurry to have done with all this: The idea of a divorce, the public brand of a shameful life, shocked me in spite of all my real and all my assumed levity. O that I had, at this instant, dared to be myself! But my fear of ridicule was greater than my fear of vice.
You gape and fidget: I verily believe you are afraid to trust yourself with us. Which of us are you afraid of, Lawless, or me, or yourself? False shame made me act as if I had no shame. You would not suspect me of knowing any thing of false shame, but depend upon it, my dear, many, who appear to have as much assurance as I have, are secretly its slaves. I moralize, because I am come to a part of my story which I should almost be glad to omit; but I promised you that there should be no sins of omission. It was light, but not broad daylight, when we got to Knightsbridge.
Lawless, encouraged for I cannot deny it by the levity of my manner, as well as of Harriot's, was in higher and more familiar spirits than I ever saw him. Mrs Freke desired me to set her down at her sister's, who lived in Grosvenor-place: I did so, and I beg you to believe that I was in an agony, to get rid of my colonel at the same time; but you know I could not, before Harriot Freke, absolutely say to him, "Get out!
As Harriot Freke jumped out of the coach, a cock crowed in the area of her sister's house: Now it's to be hoped your fear of goblins is over, else I would not be so cruel as to leave the pretty dear all alone. But where shall I set you down, colonel? I'm persuaded that the confusion which, in spite of all my efforts, broke through my affected levity, encouraged Lawless, who was naturally a coxcomb and a fool, to believe that I was actually his, else he never could have been so insolent.
In short, my dear, before we had got through the turnpike gate, I was downright obliged to say to him, "Get out! He muttered something about ladies knowing their minds; and I own, though I went off with flying colours, I secretly blamed myself as much as I did him, and I blamed Harriot more than I did either. I sent for her the next day, as soon as I could, to consult her. She expressed such astonishment, and so much concern at this catastrophe of our night's frolic, and blamed herself with so many oaths, and execrated Lawless for a coxcomb, so much to the ease and satisfaction of my conscience, that I was confirmed in my good opinion of her, and indeed felt for her the most lively affection and esteem; for observe, with me esteem ever followed affection, instead of affection following esteem.
Woe be to all who in morals preposterously put the cart before the horse! But to proceed with my history: My esteemed friend agreed with me that it would be best for all parties concerned to hush up this business; that as Lawless was going out of town in a few days, to be elected for a borough, we should get rid of him in the best way possible, without "more last words;" that he had been punished sufficiently on the spot, and that to punish twice for the same offence, once in private and once in public, would be contrary to the laws of Englishmen and Englishwomen, and in my case would be contrary to the evident dictates of prudence, because I could not complain without calling upon Lord Delacour to call Lawless out; this I could not do without acknowledging that his lordship had been in the right, in warning me about his honour and my own , which old phrase I dreaded to hear for the ninety-ninth time: We took it for granted that Lawless would hold his, and as for my people, they knew nothing, I thought, or if they did, I was sure of them.
How the thing got abroad I could not at the time conceive, though now I am well acquainted with the baseness and treachery of the woman I called my friend. The affair was known and talked of every where the next day, and the story was told especially at odious Mrs Luttridge's, with such exaggerations as drove me almost mad. I was enraged, inconceivably enraged with Lawless, from whom I imagined the reports originated.
The company all crowded to the windows immediately, and I was left standing alone till I could stand no longer. What was said or done after this I do not remember; I only know that when I came to myself, the most dreadful sensation I ever experienced was the certainty that I had the blood of a fellow-creature to answer for. Miss Portman, have the goodness to ring, for I must have something immediately.
Lady Delacour became more composed, or put more constraint upon herself, at the sight of Marriott.
Marriott brought from the closet in her lady's room the drops, which Lady Delacour swallowed with precipitation. We hear of men being shot in duels about nothing every day, so it is really a weakness in me to think so much about poor Lawless's death, as Harriot Freke said to me at the time. She expected to see me show sorrow in public; but very fortunately for me, she roused my pride, which was always stronger than my reason; and I behaved myself upon the occasion as became a fine lady.
There were some things, however, I could hardly stand. You must know that Lawless, fool and coxcomb as he was, had some magnanimity, and showed it — as some people do from whom it is least expected — on his death-bed. The last words he said were, "Lady Delacour is innocent — I charge you, don't prosecute Lord Delacour. She never has recovered his loss. Do you remember asking me who a tall elderly lady in mourning was, that you saw getting into her carriage one day, at South Audley-street chapel, as we passed by in our way to the park? That was Lady Lawless: I believe I didn't answer you at the time.
I meet her every now and then — to me a spectre of dismay. But, as Harriot Freke said, certainly such a man as poor Lawless was a useless being in society, however he may be regretted by a doting mother. We should see things in a philosophical light, if we can. I should not have suffered half as much as I did if he had been a man of a stronger understanding; but he was a poor, vain, weak creature, that I actually drew on and duped with my own coquetry, whilst all the time I was endeavouring only to plague Lord Delacour. I was punished enough by the airs his lordship doubly gave himself, upon the strength of his valour and his judgment — they roused me completely; and I blamed him with all my might, and got an enormous party of my friends, I mean my acquaintance, to run him down full cry, for having fought for me.
It was absurd — it was rash — it was want of proper confidence in his wife; thus we said. Lord Delacour had his partisans, it is true; amongst whom the loudest was odious Mrs Luttridge. I embraced the first opportunity I met with of retaliation. You must know that Mrs Luttridge, besides being a great faro-player, was a great dabbler in politics; for she was almost as fond of power as of money: There was to be a contested election in our county: Mr Luttridge had a good estate there next to Lord Delacour's, and being of an ancient family, and keeping a good table, the Luttridges were popular enough.
At the first news of an election, out comes a flaming advertisement from Mr Luttridge; away posted Mrs Luttridge to begin her canvass, and away posted Lady Delacour after her, to canvass for a cousin of Harriot Freke. I was ambitious to have it said of me, "that I was the finest figure that ever appeared upon a canvass.
All that the combined force of vanity and hatred could inspire I performed, and with success. You have but little curiosity, I presume, to know how many hogsheads of port went down the throat of John Bull, or how many hecatombs were offered up to the genius of English liberty. My hatred of Mrs Luttridge was, of course, called love of my country. Lady Delacour was deified by all true patriots; and, luckily, a handsome legacy left me for my spirit, by an uncle who died six weeks before the election, enabled us to sustain the expense of my apotheosis.
The day of election came; Harriot Freke and I made our appearance on the hustings, dressed in splendid party uniforms; and before us our knights and squires held two enormous panniers full of ribands and cockades, which we distributed with a grace that won all hearts, if not all votes. Mrs Luttridge thought the panniers would carry the election; and forthwith she sent off an express for a pair of panniers twice as large as ours. The verses were as bad as impromptus usually are, and the drawing was not much better than the writing; but the goodwill of the critics supplied all my deficiencies; and never was more praise bestowed upon the pen of Burke, or the pencil of Reynolds, than was lavished upon me by my honest friends.
My dear Belinda, if you will not quarrel with the quality, you may have what quantity of praise you please. Mrs Luttridge, as I hoped and expected, was beyond measure enraged at the sight of the caricature and epigram. She was, besides being a gamester and a politician — what do you think? She wished, she said, to be a man, that she might be qualified to take proper notice of my conduct. The same kind friends who showed her my epigram repeated to me her observation upon it.
Harriot Freke was at my elbow, and offered to take any message I might think proper to Mrs Luttridge. I scarcely thought her in earnest till she added, that the only way left now-a-days for a woman to distinguish herself was by spirit; as every thing else was grown "cheap and vulgar in the eyes of men;" that she knew one of the cleverest young men in England, and a man of fashion into the bargain, who was just going to publish a treatise "upon the Propriety and Necessity of Female Duelling;" and that he had demonstrated , beyond a possibility of doubt, that civilized society could not exist half a century longer without this necessary improvement.
I had prodigious deference for the masculine superiority, as I thought it, of Harriot's understanding. She was a philosopher, and a fine lady — I was only a fine lady; I had never fired a pistol in my life, and I was a little inclined to cowardice; but Harriot offered to bet any wager upon the steadiness of my hand, and assured me that I should charm all beholders in male attire. In short, as my second, if I would furnish her with proper credentials, she swore she would undertake to furnish me with clothes, and pistols, and courage, and every thing I wanted.
I sat down to pen my challenge. When I was writing it, my hand did not tremble much — not more than my Lord Delacour's always does. The challenge was very prettily worded: I believe I can repeat it. Lady Delacour begs leave to assure Mrs Luttridge, that though she has the misfortune to be a woman, she is willing to account for her conduct in any manner Mrs L— may think proper, and at any hour and place she may appoint. Lady D— leaves the choice of the weapons to Mrs L—. Freke, who has the honour of presenting this note, is Lady Delacour's friend upon this occasion.
The hour was fixed to be early in the morning, to prevent all probability of interruption. In the evening, Harriot and I rode to the ground. There were several bullets sticking in the posts of the barn: I own my courage "oozed out" a little at this sight.
The Duke de la Rochefoucault, I believe, said truly, that "many would be cowards if they dared. I bravadoed to Harriot most magnanimously; but at night, when Marriott was undressing me, I could not forbear giving her a hint, which I thought might tend to preserve the king's peace, and the peace of the county. I went to the ground in the morning in good spirits, and with a safe conscience. Harriot was in admiration of my "lion-port;" and, to do her justice, she conducted herself with great coolness upon the occasion; but then it may be observed, that it was I who was to stand fire, and not she.
I thought of poor Lawless a billion of times, at least, as we were going to the ground; and I had my presentiments, and my confused notions of poetic justice: I secretly called upon the name of Marriott with fervency, and I looked round with more anxiety than ever Bluebeard's wife, or "Anne, sister Anne! Oh, those laws of honour! I was upon the point of making an apology, in spite of them all, when, to my inexpressible joy, I was relieved from the dreadful alternative of being shot through the head, or of becoming a laughing-stock for life, by an incident, less heroic, I'll grant you, than opportune.
But you shall have the whole scene, as well as I can recollect it; as well — for those who for the first time go into a field of battle do not, as I am credibly informed and internally persuaded, always find the clearness of their memories improved by the novelty of their situation. Mrs Luttridge, when we came up, was leaning, with a truly martial negligence, against the wall of the barn, with her pistol, as I told you, in her hand. She spoke not a word; but her second, Miss Honour O'Grady, advanced towards us immediately, and, taking off her hat very manfully, addressed herself' to my second — "Mistress Harriot Freke, I presume, if I mistake not.
My Lady Delacour, I was going to observe that my principal has met with an unfortunate accident, in the shape of a whitlow on the fore-finger of her right hand, which incapacitates her drawing a trigger; but I am at your service, ladies, either of you, that can't put up with a disappointment with good humour. Mrs Luttridge, with her left-handed wisdom, fired first; and I, with great magnanimity, followed her example.
I must do my adversary's second, Miss Honour O'Grady, the justice to observe, that in this whole affair she conducted herself not only with the spirit, but with the good-nature and generosity characteristic of her nation. We met enemies, and parted friends.
Though the critics will allow of no such thing in their books, it is a true representation of what passes in the world; and of all lives mine has been the most grotesque mixture, or alternation, I should say, of tragedy and comedy. All this is apropos to something I have not told you yet. This comic duel ended tragically for me. Why, 'tis clear that I was not shot through the head; but it would have been better, a hundred times better for me, if I had; I should have been spared, in this life at least the torments of the damned. I was not used to priming and loading: I had not, at the time I received the blow, much leisure for lamentation; for I had scarcely discharged my pistol when we heard a loud shout on the other side of the barn, and a crowd of town's people, country people, and haymakers, came pouring down the lane towards us, with rakes and pitchforks in their hands.
An English mob is really a formidable thing. Marriott had mismanaged her business most strangely: I am convinced that they would not have been half so much scandalized if we had boxed in petticoats. The want of these petticoats had nearly proved our destruction, or at least our disgrace: The mob had just closed round us, crying, "Shame!
The person was clad in splendid regimentals, and he was armed with a long pole, to the end of which hung a bladder, and his pigs were frightened, and they ran squeaking from one side of the road to the other; and the pig-driver in regimentals, in the midst of the noise, could not without difficulty make his voice heard; but at last he was understood to say, that a bet of a hundred guineas depended upon his being able to keep these pigs ahead of a flock of turkeys that were following them; and he begged the mob to give him and his pigs fair play.
At the news of this wager, and at the sight of the gentleman turned pig-driver, the mob were in raptures; and at the sound of his voice, Harriot Freke immediately exclaimed, "Clarence Hervey! Clarence was, as I suppose you have discovered long ago, "that cleverest young man in England who had written on the propriety and necessity of female duelling.
Old England for ever! Yonder comes a Frenchman with a flock of turkeys. My pigs will beat them, for a hundred guineas. Old England for ever, huzza! The Frenchman waved a red streamer over the heads of his flock — Clarence shook a pole, from the top of which hung a bladder full of beans. The pigs grunted, the turkeys gobbled, and the mob shouted: The French officer was followed with groans and hisses. So great was the confusion, and so great the zeal of the patriots, that even the pleasure of ducking the female duellists was forgotten in the general enthusiasm. All eyes and all hearts were intent upon the race; and now the turkeys got foremost, and now the pigs.
But when we came within sight of the horsepond, I heard one man cry, "Don't forget the ducking. Harriot Freke pushed her way into a milliner's shop: I could not get in after her, for a frightened pig turned back suddenly, and almost threw me down. Clarence Hervey caught me, and favoured my retreat into the shop. But poor Clarence lost his bet by his gallantry. Whilst he was manoeuvring in my favour, the turkeys got several yards ahead of the pigs, and reaching the market-place first, won the race. So he got off without being pelted, and they both returned in safety to the house of General Y—, where they were to dine, and where they entertained a large party of officers with the account of this adventure.
The news of our duel, which had spread in the town, raised such an uproar as had never been heard, even at the noisiest election. Would you believe it? The common people, one and all, declared that they would not vote either for Mr Luttridge or Mr Freke, because as how — but I need not repeat all the platitudes that they said. In short, neither ribands nor brandy could bring them to reason. With true English pigheadedness, they went every man of them and polled for an independent candidate of their own choosing, whose wife, forsooth, was a proper behaved woman.
Clarence was charmed with my spirit and grace; but he had not leisure at that time to attach himself seriously to me, or to any thing. He was then about nineteen or twenty: His essay on female duelling was a most extraordinary performance; it was handed about in manuscript till it was worn out; he talked of publishing it, and dedicating it to me.
However, this scheme, amongst a million of others, he talked of , but never put into execution. Luckily for him, many of his frolics evaporated in words. I saw but little either of him or his follies at this time. All I know about him is, that after he had lost his bet of a hundred guineas, as a pig-driver, by his knight-errantry in rescuing the female duellists from a mob, he wrote a very charming copy of verses upon the occasion; and that he was so much provoked by the stupidity of some of his brother officers who could not understand the verses, that he took a disgust to the army, and sold his commission.
He set out upon a tour to the continent, and I returned with Harriot Freke to London, and forgot the existence of such a person as Clarence Hervey for three or four years. Unless people can be of some use, or unless they are actually present, let them be ever so agreeable or meritorious, we are very apt to forget them.
One grows strangely selfish by living in the world: But in London one has no time for thinking of deliverers. And yet what I did with my time I cannot tell you: One day after another went I know not how. Had I wept for every day I lost, I'm sure I should have cried my eyes out before this time.
If I had enjoyed any amusement in the midst of this dissipation, it would all have been very well; but I declare to you in confidence I have been tired to death. Nothing can be more monotonous than the life of a hackneyed fine lady; — I question whether a dray-horse, or a horse in a mill, would willingly exchange places with one, if they could know as much of the matter as I do. You are surprised at hearing all this from me.
My dear Belinda, how I envy you! You are not yet tired of every thing. The world has still the gloss of novelty for you; but don't expect that can last above a season.
QUT | Staff Profiles | Belinda Carpenter
My first winter was certainly entertaining enough. One begins with being charmed with the bustle and glare, and what the French call spectacle; this is over, I think, in six months. I can but just recollect having been amused at the Theatres, and the Opera, and the Pantheon, and Ranelagh, and all those places, for their own sakes. Soon, very soon, we go out to see people, not things: A dismal story and a true one. Excuse me for showing you the simple truth; well-dressed falsehood is a personage much more presentable. I am now come to an epoch in my history in which there is a dearth of extraordinary, events.
What shall I do? I would if I could; but I cannot. Then I must confess to you that during these last four years I should have died of ennui if I had not been kept alive by my hatred of Mrs Luttridge and of my husband. I don't know which I hate most — O, yes, I do — I certainly hate Mrs Luttridge the most; for a woman can always hate a woman more than she can hate a man, unless she has been in love with him, which I never was with poor Lord Delacour.
I certainly hate Mrs Luttridge the most; I cannot count the number of extravagant things I have done on purpose to eclipse her. We have had rival routs, rival concerts, rival galas, rival theatres: My hatred to Mrs Luttridge, my dear, is the remote cause of my love for you; for it was the cause of my intimacy with your aunt Stanhope. It may be dangerous, for aught I know, to interpose in the quarrels of those who hate their neighbours, not only with all their souls, but with all their strength — the barbarians fight it out, kiss, and are friends.
The quarrels which never come to blows are safer for a go-between; but even these are not to be compared to such as never come to words: The moment it was known that Mrs Luttridge and I had come to the resolution never to speak to one another, your aunt Stanhope began to minister to my hatred so, that she made herself quite agreeable.
She one winter gave me notice that my adversary had set her heart upon having a magnificent entertainment on a particular day. On that day I determined, of course, to have a rival gala. Mrs Stanhope's maid had a lover, a gardener, who lived at Chelsea; and the gardener had an aloe, which was expected soon to blow. Now a plant that blows but once in a hundred years is worth having.
The gardener intended to make a public exhibition of it, by which he expected to gain about a hundred guineas. Your aunt Stanhope's maid got it from him for me for fifty; and I had it whispered about that an aloe in full blow would stand in the middle of one of Lady Delacour's supper tables. The difficulty was to make Mrs Luttridge fix upon the very day we wanted; for you know we could not possibly put off the blowing of our aloe. Your aunt Stanhope managed the thing admirably by means of a common friend , who was not a suspected person with the Luttridges; in short, my dear, I gained my point — every body came from Mrs Luttridge's to me, or to my aloe.
She had a prodigiously fine supper, but scarcely a soul stayed with her; they all came to see what could be seen but once in a hundred years. Now the aloe, you know, is of a cumbersome height for a supper ornament. My saloon luckily has a dome, and under the dome we placed it. Round the huge china vase in which it was planted we placed the most beautiful, or rather the most expensive hothouse plants we could procure. After all, the aloe was an ugly thing; but it answered my purpose — it made Mrs Luttridge, as I am credibly informed, absolutely weep with vexation.
I was excessively obliged to your aunt Stanhope; and I assured her that if ever it were in my power, she might depend upon my gratitude. Pray, when you write, repeat the same thing to her, and tell her that since she has introduced Belinda Portman to me, I am a hundred times more obliged to her than ever I was before. I believe love is more to your taste than hatred; therefore I will go on as fast as possible to Clarence Hervey's return from his travels. He was much improved by them, or at least I thought so; for he was heard to declare, that after all he had seen in France and Italy, Lady Delacour appeared to him the most charming woman, of her age , in Europe.
The words, of her age , piqued me; and I spared no pains to make him forget them. A stupid man cannot readily be persuaded out of his senses — what he sees he sees, and neither more nor less; but 'tis the easiest thing in the world to catch hold of a man of genius: You look at me, and from me, and you don't well know which way to look. You are surprised, perhaps, after all that passed, all that I felt, and all that I still feel about poor Lawless, I should not be cured of coquetry.
So am I surprised; but habit, fashion, the devil, I believe, lead us on: I am, and I see you think me, a strange, weak, inconsistent creature. I was intended for something better, but now it is too late; a coquette I have lived, and a coquette I shall die: I speak frankly to you. Let me have the glory of leading Clarence Hervey about with me in public for a few months longer, then I must quit the stage.