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

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Volume III

Letter I.

EVELINA TO THE REV. MR. VILLARS. Bristol Hotwellsh, Sept. 12th.

THE first fortnight that I passed here was so quiet, so serene, that it gave me reason to expect a settled calm during my stay; but if I may now judge of the time to come, by the present state of my mind, the calm will be succeeded by a storm, of which I dread the violence!

This morning, in my way to the pump-room with Mrs. Selwyn, we were both very much incommoded by three gentlemen, who were sauntering by the side of the Avonw, laughing and talking very loud, and lounging so disagreeably, that we knew not how to pass them. They all three fixed their eyes very boldly upon me, alternately looking under my hat, and whispering one another. Mrs. Selwyn assumed an air of uncommon sternness, and said, "You will please, gentlemen, either to proceed yourselves, or to suffer us."

"Oh! Ma'am," cried one of them, "we will suffer you with the greatest pleasure in life."

"You will suffer us both," answered she, "or I am much mistaken: you had better, therefore, make way quietly; for I should be sorry to give my servant the trouble of teaching you better manners."

Her commanding air struck them, yet they all chose to laugh; and one of them wished the fellow would begin his lesson, that he might have the pleasure of rolling him into the Avon; while another, advancing to me with a freedom which made me start, said, "By my soul, I did not know you!-but I am sure I cannot be mistaken;-had not I the honour of seeing you once at the Pantheon?"

I then recollectedw the nobleman, who, at that place, had so much embarrassed me. I courtsied without speaking. They all bowed, and making, though in a very easy manner, an apology to Mrs. Selwyn, they suffered us to pass on, but chose to accompany us.

"And where," continued this Lord, "can you so long have hid yourself? do you know I have been in search of you this age? I could neither find you out, nor hear of you: not a creature could inform me what was become of you. I cannot imagine where you could be immured. I was at two or three public places every night, in hopes of meeting you. Pray, did you leave town?"

"Yes, my Lord."

"So early in the season!-what could possibly induce you to go before the birth-dayh?"

"I had nothing, my Lord, to do with the birth-day."

"By my soul, all the women who had, may rejoice you were away. Have you been here any time?"

"Not above a fortnight, my Lord."

"A fortnight!-how unlucky that I did not meet you sooner! but I have had a run of ill luck ever since I came. How long shall you stay?"

"Indeed, my Lord, I don't know."

X [h] Bristol Hotwells

Highly regarded for waters from hotsprings beside the Avon.  Like Bath, Hotwells offered music and social entertainment, but the curative power of its waters remained its predominant attraction.  

 

X [w] Avon

Places

The River Avon or the Bristol Avon rises in Gloucestershire, flows through Bath, then Bristol, and into the sea at Avonmouth near Bristol,  The river is one of four in England named Avon. 

 

X [w] recollected

People

See Volume I, Letter XXIII, the nobleman then unnamed notable for his stare. 

X [h] the birth-day

Manners & Morals

George III's birthday, June 4, marked the end of the London season.