It does not become me to write the least word that may appear disrespectful of any person related to your ladyship and Mr. B. Otherwise I should say, that the B——s and the S——s are directly the opposites of one another. But yet, as she never saw your ladyship but once, you will forgive me to mention a word or two about her, because she is a character that is in a manner new to me.
She is a maiden lady, as you know, and though she will not part with the green leaf from her hand, one sees by the grey-goose down on her brows and her head, that she cannot be less than fifty-five. But so much pains does she take, by powder, to have never a dark hair in her head, because she has one half of them white, that I am sorry to see, what is a subject for reverence, should be deemed, by the good lady, matter of concealment.
She is often seemingly reproaching herself, that she is an old maid, and an old woman; but it is very discernible, that she expects a compliment, that she is not so, every time she is so free with herself: and if nobody makes her one, she will say something of that sort in her own behalf.
She takes particular care, that of all the public transactions which happen to be talked of, her memory will never carry her back above thirty years! and then it is—“About thirty years ago; when I was a girl,” or “when I was in hanging sleeves;” and so she makes herself, for twenty years of her life, a very useless and insignificant person.
If her teeth, which, for her age, are very good, though not over white (and which, by her care of them, she seems to look upon as the last remains of her better days), would but fail, it might help her to a conviction, that would set her ten years forwarder at least. But, poor lady, she is so young, in spite of her wrinkles, that I am really concerned for her affectation; because it exposes her to the remarks and ridicule of the gentlemen, and gives one pain for her.
Surely, these ladies don’t act prudently at all; since, for every year Mrs. Judy would take from her age, her censurers add two to it; and, behind her back, make her going on towards seventy; whereas, if she would lay claim to her reverentials, as I may say, and not try to conceal her age, she would have many compliments for looking so well at her years.—And many a young body would hope to be the better for her advice and experience, who now are afraid of affronting her, if they suppose she has lived much longer in the world than themselves.
Then she looks back to the years she owns, when more flippant ladies, at the laughing time of her life, delight to be frolic: she tries to sing too, although, if ever she had a voice, she has outlived it; and her songs are of so antique a date, that they would betray her; only, as she says, they were learnt her by her grandmother, who was a fine lady at the Restoration. She will join in a dance; and though her limbs move not so pliantly as might be expected of a lady no older than she would be thought, and whose dancing-days are not entirely over, yet that was owing to a fall from her horse some years ago, which, she doubts, she shall never recover, though she finds she grows better and better, every year.