Fanny Burney, Evelina : Vol. 2, Ch. 15

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Letter XV

EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS Holborn, June 17th.

YESTERDAY Mr. Smith carried his point of making a party for Vauxhallh, consisting of Madame Duval, M. Du Bois, all the Branghtons, Mr. Brown, himself,-and me!-for I find all endeavours vain to escape any thing which these people desire I should not.

There were twenty disputes previous to our setting out; first, as to the time of our going: Mr. Branghton, his son, and young Brown, were for six o'clock; and all the ladies and Mr. Smith were for eight;-the latter, however, conquered.

Then, as to the way we should go; some were for a boat, others for a coachh, and Mr. Branghton himself was for walking; but the boat at length was decided upon. Indeed this was the only part of the expedition that was agreeable to me; for the Thames was delightfully pleasant.

The garden is very pretty, but too formal; I should have been better pleased, had it consisted less of straight walks, where

Grove nods at grove, each alley has its brotherh.

The trees, the numerous lights, and the company in the circle round the orchestra make a most brilliant and gay appearance; and had I been with a party less disagreeable to me, I should have thought it a place formed for animation and pleasure. There was a concert; in the course of which a hautboisw concerto was so charmingly played, that I could have thought myself upon enchanted ground, had I had spirits more gentle to associate with. The hautbois in the open air is heavenly.

Mr. Smith endeavoured to attach himself to me, with such officious assiduity and impertinent freedom, that he quite sickened me. Indeed M. Du Bois was the only man of the party to whom, voluntarily, I ever addressed myself. He is civil and respectful, and I have found nobody else so since I left Howard Grove. His English is very bad; but I prefer it to speaking French myself, which I dare not venture to do. I converse with him frequently, both to disengage myself from others, and to oblige Madame Duval, who is always pleased when he is attended to.

As we were walking about the orchestra, I heard a bell ring; and, in a moment, Mr. Smith, flying up to me, caught my hand, and, with a motion too quick to be resisted, ran away with me many yards before I had breath to ask his meaning, though I struggled as well as I could, to get from him. At last, however, I insisted upon stopping: "Stopping, Ma'am!" cried he, "why we must run on or we shall lose the cascadeh!"

And then again he hurried me away, mixing with a crowd of people, all running with so much velocity, that I could not imagine what had raised such an alarm. We were soon followed by the rest of the party; and my surprise and ignorance proved a source of diversion to them all, which was not exhausted the whole evening. Young Branghton, in particular, laughed till he could hardly stand.

The scene of the cascade I thought extremely pretty, and the general effect striking and lively.

But this was not the only surprise which was to divert them at my expense; for they led me about the garden purposely to enjoy my first sight of various other deceptions.

About ten o'clock, Mr. Smith having chosen a box in a very conpicuous place, we all went to supper. Much fault was found with every thing that was ordered, though not a morsel of any thing was left; and the dearness of the provisions, with conjectures upon what profit was made by them, supplied discourse during the whole meal.

When wine and cyder were brought, Mr. Smith said, "Now let's enjoy ourselves; now is the time, or never. Well, Ma'am, and how do you like Vauxhall?"

X [h] Vauxhall

Places

Vauxhall Gardens on the south Thames bank in Lambeth.  The attached image shows the long alleys, the dark walks, and the wooded character of the gardens.

X [h] some were for a boat, others for a coach

Transportation

Vauxhall was on the south shore of the Thames near Lambeth and guests either arrived by boat or across Westminister Bridge on foot or coach.  

X [h] Grove nods at grove, each alley has its broth…

Writing & Reading

From Pope's  Epistle to Burlington with its attack on the monotonous regularity of a strictly geometric garden plan:

"No pleasing Intricacies intervene,

No artful wildness to perplex the scene;

Grove nods at grove, each alley has a brother."  

Evelina shares Pope's taste for a less formal landscape design. 


X [w] hautbois

Arts

The hautboy or oboe.

X [h] cascade

Amusements

A nine o'clock bell called visitors to a viewing of an artificial landscape that included a waterfall and mill.