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Letter 16
Evelina To The Rev. Mr. Villars Queen Ann Street, Thursday Morning, April 14
BEFORE our dinner was over yesterday Madame Duval came to tea; though it
will lessen your surprise, to hear that it was near five o'clock, for we never dine till
the day is almost over. She was asked into another room while the table was
cleared, and then was invited to partake of the dessert.
She was attended by a French gentleman, whom she introduced by the name of
Monsieur Du Bois: Mrs. Mirvan received them both with her usual politeness; but
the Captain looked very much displeased; and after a short silence, very sternly
said to Madame Duval, "Pray who asked you to bring that there spark with you?"
"O," cried she, "I never go no where without him."
Another short silence ensued, which was terminated by the Captain's turning
roughly to the foreigner, and saying, "Do you know, Monseer, that you are the
first Frenchman I ever let come into my house?"
Monsieur Du Bois made a profound bow. He speaks no English, and
understands it so imperfectly, that he might possibly imagine he had received a
Mrs. Mirvan endeavourd to divert the Captain's ill-humour, by starting new
subjects: but he left to her all the trouble of supporting them, and leant back in his
chair in gloomy silence, except when any opportunity offered of uttering some
sarcasm upon the French. Finding her efforts to render the evening agreeable
were fruitless, Mrs. Mirvan proposed a party to Ranelagh. Madame Duval joyfully
consented to it; and the Captain though he railed against the dissipation of the
women, did not oppose it; and therefore Maria and I ran up stairs to dress
Before we were ready, word was brought us that Sir Clement Willoughby was in
the drawing-room. He introduced himself under the pretence of inquiring after all
our healths, and entered the room with the easy air of an old acquaintance;
though Mrs. Mirvan confessed that he seemed embarrassed when he found how
coldly he was received, not only by the Captain, but by herself.
I was extremely disconcerted at the thoughts of seeing this man again, and did
not go downstairs till I was called to tea. He was then deeply engaged in a
discourse upon French manners with Madame Duval and the Captain; and the
subject seemed so entirely to engross him, that he did not, at first, observe my
entrance into the room. Their conversation was supported with great vehemence;
the Captain roughly maintaining the superiority of the English in every particular,
and Madame Duval warmly refusing to allow of it in any; while Sir Clement
exerted all his powers of argument and of ridicule, to second and strengthen
whatever was advanced by the Captain: for he had the sagacity to discover, that
he could take no method so effectual for making the master of the house his
friend, as to make Madame Duval his enemy; and indeed, in a very short time, he
had reason to congratulate himself upon his successful discernment.
As soon as he saw me, he made a most respectful bow, and hoped I had not
suffered from the fatigue of the ridotto: I made no other answer than a slight