Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 3, Ch. 1

[+] | [-] | reset

"Six weeks, I hope; for I shall wish the place at the devil when you go."

"Do you, then, flatter yourself, my Lord," said Mrs. Selwyn, who had hitherto listened in silent contempt, "that you shall see such a beautiful spot as this, when you visit the dominions of the devil?"

"Ha, ha, ha! Faith, my Lord," said one of his companions, who still walked with us, though the other had taken leave, "the lady is rather hard upon you."

"Not at all," answered Mrs. Selwyn; "for as I cannot doubt but his Lordship's rank and interest will secure him a place there, it would be reflecting on his understanding, to suppose he should not wish to enlarge and beautify his dwellingh."

Much as I was disgusted with this Lord, I must own Mrs. Selwyn's severity rather surprised me: but you, who have so often observed it, will not wonder she took so fair an opportunity of indulging her humour.

"As to places," returned he, totally unmoved, "I am so indifferent to them, that the devil take me if I care which way I go! objects, indeed, I am not so easy about; and, therefore, I expect, that those angels with whose beauty I am so much enraptured in this world, will have the goodness to afford me some little consolation in the other."

"What, my Lord!" cried Mrs. Selwyn, "would you wish to degrade the habitation of your friend, by admitting into it the insipid company of the upper regions?"

"What do you do with yourself this evening?" said his Lordship, turning to me.

"I shall be at home, my Lord."

"O, -e;-propos,-where are you?"

"Young ladies, my Lord," said Mrs. Selwyn, "are no where."

"Prithee," whispered his Lordship, "is that queer woman your mother?"

Good Heavens, Sir, what words for such a question!

"No, my Lord."

"Your maiden aunt then?"


"Whoever she is, I wish she would mind her own affairs: I don't know what the devil a woman lives for after thirty: she is only in other folk's way. Shall you be at the assembly?"

"I believe not, my Lord."

"No!-why then, how in the world can you contrive to pass your time?"

"In a manner which your Lordship will think very extraordinary," cried Mrs. Selwyn, "for the young lady reads."

"Ha, ha, ha! Egad, my Lord," cried the facetious companion, "you are got into bad hands."

"You had better, Ma'am," answered he, "attack Jack Coverley here, for you will make nothing of me."

X [h] enlarge and beautify his dwelling

Mrs. Selwyn mines a contemporary satiric target, the peerage and gentry's penchant for "improving" their estates throgh grandiose building and landscaping projects.  The metaphor for hell points up monstrosity.