I Appear As an Ornament of English Society

All the journey down to Hackton Castle, the largest and most ancient of our ancestral seats in Devonshire, was performed with the slow and sober state becoming people of the first quality in the realm. An outrider in my livery went on before us, and bespoke our lodging from town to town; and thus we lay in state at Andover, Ilminster, and Exeter; and the fourth evening arrived in time for supper before the antique baronial mansion, of which the gate was in an odious Gothic taste that would have set Mr. Walpole wild with pleasure.

The first days of a marriage are commonly very trying; and I have known couples, who lived together like turtle-doves for the rest of their lives, peck each other’s eyes out almost during the honeymoon.

I did not escape the common lot; in our journey westward my Lady Lyndon chose to quarrel with me because I pulled out a pipe of tobacco (the habit of smoking which I had acquired in Germany when a soldier in Billow’s, and could never give it over), and smoked it in the carriage; and also her Ladyship chose to take umbrage both at Ilminster and Andover, because in the evenings when we lay there I chose to invite the landlords of the ‘Bell’ and the ‘Lion’ to crack a bottle with me. Lady Lyndon was a haughty woman, and I hate pride; and I promise you that in both instances I overcame this vice in her. On the third day of our journey I had her to light my pipematch with her own hands, and made her deliver it to me with tears in her eyes; and at the ‘Swan Inn’ at Exeter I had so completely subdued her, that she asked me humbly whether I would not wish the landlady as well as the host to step up to dinner with us. To this I should have had no objection, for, indeed, Mrs. Bonnyface was a very good-looking woman; but we expected a visit from my Lord Bishop, a kinsman of Lady Lyndon, and the BIENSEANCES did not permit the indulgence of my wife’s request.

I appeared with her at evening service, to compliment our right reverend cousin, and put her name down for twenty-five guineas, and my own for one hundred, to the famous new organ which was then being built for the cathedral. This conduct, at the very outset of my career in the county, made me not a little popular; and the residentiary canon, who did me the favour to sup with me at the inn, went away after the sixth bottle, hiccuping the most solemn vows for the welfare of such a p-p-pious gentleman.

Before we reached Hackton Castle, we had to drive through ten miles of the Lyndon estates, where the people were out to visit us, the church bells set a-ringing, the parson and the farmers assembled in their best by the roadside, and the school children and the labouring people were loud in their hurrahs for her Ladyship.

I flung money among these worthy characters, stopped to bow and chat with his reverence and the farmers, and if I found that the Devonshire girls were among the handsomest in the kingdom is it my fault?