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The Way We Live Now

Three Editors
Let the reader be introduced to Lady Carbury, upon whose character and doings much
will depend of whatever interest these pages may have, as she sits at her writing-table in
her own room in her own house in Welbeck Street. Lady Carbury spent many hours at
her desk, and wrote many letters wrote also very much beside letters. She spoke of
herself in these days as a woman devoted to Literature, always spelling the word with a
big L. Something of the nature of her devotion may be learned by the perusal of three
letters which on this morning she had written with a quickly running hand. Lady Carbury
was rapid in everything, and in nothing more rapid than in the writing of letters. Here is
Letter No. 1
'Thursday, Welbeck Street.
I have taken care that you shall have the early sheets of my two new volumes tomorrow,
or Saturday at latest, so that you may, if so minded, give a poor struggler like myself a lift
in your next week's paper. Do give a poor struggler a lift. You and I have so much in
common, and I have ventured to flatter myself that we are really friends! I do not flatter
you when I say, that not only would aid from you help me more than from any other
quarter, but also that praise from you would gratify my vanity more than any other praise.
I almost think you will like my 'Criminal Queens.' The sketch of Semiramis is at any rate
spirited, though I had to twist it about a little to bring her in guilty. Cleopatra, of course, I
have taken from Shakespeare. What a wench she was! I could not quite make Julia a
queen; but it was impossible to pass over so piquant a character. You will recognise in
the two or three ladies of the empire how faithfully I have studied my Gibbon. Poor dear
old Belisarius! I have done the best I could with Joanna, but I could not bring myself to
care for her. In our days she would simply have gone to Broadmore. I hope you will not
think that I have been too strong in my delineations of Henry VIII and his sinful but
unfortunate Howard. I don't care a bit about Anne Boleyne. I am afraid that I have been
tempted into too great length about the Italian Catherine; but in truth she has been my
favourite. What a woman! What a devil! Pity that a second Dante could not have
constructed for her a special hell. How one traces the effect of her training in the life of
our Scotch Mary. I trust you will go with me in my view as to the Queen of Scots. Guilty!
guilty always! Adultery, murder, treason, and all the rest of it. But recommended to
mercy because she was royal. A queen bred, born and married, and with such other
queens around her, how could she have escaped to be guilty? Marie Antoinette I have not
quite acquitted. It would be uninteresting perhaps untrue. I have accused her lovingly,
and have kissed when I scourged. I trust the British public will not be angry because I do
not whitewash Caroline, especially as I go along with them altogether in abusing her