BRIDGET WHELAN writer

for writers and readers….

Do Not Mock Weeping Women, says Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper

An acknowledged AUTHORITY on almost everything, Mrs Finnegan is the housekeeper at The Regency Town House in Brunswick Square Brighton and Hove.

My family laugh at me for being so sentimental. I cry at any sad story and I do believe I have got worse as I’ve grown older.
Anything sets me off. I only have to hear of a horse kicking an old lady in the next town and I am in floods.
Mrs Dainty from Dagenham village

Mrs Finnegan replies

Your tears SPRING from a noble heart and reveal your DELICATE SENSIBIILTY. Of course, they flow more rapidly than they once did. You are more PRACTISED. More proficient. You FEEL the pain of the old woman more keenly. Imagine the blossoming of the purple and PUCE bruises more vividly…

Only good can come from this. Copious weeping is a TONIC for the nervous system and CLEANS OUT the sinuses.

I am MUCH THE SAME about ballads. Do you know an Irish one called Lucy and Colin? I first heard it as a child and was well known for spilling a sink full of tears at the first refrain. It is SUNG by Lucy of Leinster who dies of a BROKEN heart

Of a false swain and broken heart,
In early youth I die;
Am I to blame, because the bride
Is twice as rich as I?

Lucy dies on her lover’s wedding day and her body is CARRIED to the church. Colin sees his true love in her shroud and collapses STONE DEAD. The pair are buried in the same grave.

Excuse the ink smudges. I must go and blow my nose.

Yours with damp eyes
Mrs Finnegan

Please be of help!
Do you think it is possible to aspire to be a lady-with-the-twelve-flounces or would that be beyond my station?
I rather like the idea of flouncing.
Ambitious of Amberley

Mrs Finnegan replies

The fact that you have to ask suggests the ONLY ANSWER is yes, it is beyond your station in life. No HOUSE wants to employ a servant who GADS about in finery on her day off. And if you are a costermonger’s wife dress as one and do not pretend to be the mistress of a fine establishment (a PRETENCE that a stable lad could see through) .

As for flouncing….

The two BEST FLOUNCERS I ever saw in action was an under parlour maid from Croydon and a titled Scottish lady. Neither came to a GOOD END.

A flounce is an EXAGGERATION whether it is in dress or character.

SUFFICE TO SAY if you could flounce you WOULD NOT be writing to Mrs Finnegan for permission.

Yours with the utmost respect
Mrs Finnegan

PS

Do you think the ART OF CONVERSATION has been affected by the present state of THINGS AT LARGE? By the way we do not – and should not – ENGAGE with one another as we once did.

This in Brunswick Square LAST night.

“I saw a fearful sight——”

“When?”

“I was about to tell you; last Monday, on the coach——”

“What coach?”

“The coach from Brighton to London. We were near the bridge——”

“What bridge?”

“I will tell you all about it, if you will only let me speak. I was coming from Brighton——”

“Last Monday, did you say?”

DEAR reader, the second person – the one butting in SO VERY MUCH at the wrong moment – is none other than MYSELF. I acknowledge there is a level of conversation that sits between “would you like ANOTHER BON-BON?” and “dearest friend, let me REVEAL my soul” which I have ENTIRELY forgotten how to have. Do you perhaps feel the same?

I have HEARD that men and women DIFFER in their language in that women have about TWENTY THOUSAND words a day at their command. With these a woman informs, reprimands, organises, plans, delves, detects, dissects, encourages, nourishes, cares and shares while also amusing herself and others.

Men, however, only have SEVEN THOUSAND words they feel comfortable using each day and these they use for the first TWO FUNCTIONS only.

This could explain my current malady. I have UNUSED words demanding to spill out AND OUT THEY COME. Not always in the right order. Not always at the right time. And not always to the RIGHT person.

My problem, however, may have BEEN SOLVED.

Susan – remember Susan? (see picture below) – arrived on my doorstep this morning saying she cannot abide at Number 60 a moment longer.

She says the D’Arthurs CHARGE too much for a miserable room and are INSUFFERABLE. Remember the D’Arthurs? Cantankerous mother and the son with the hair cut (see below). I CANNOT SAY I am surprised.

So, I will have plenty of opportunity to use up 20,000 words today. I need to explain to Susan (who thinks she is about to become a governess):
WHY there is no pupil for her to teach (did I promise a girl or a boy? I forget. It hardly matters as both are the work of my imagination.)
WHY there is no classroom set up.
WHY my VERACITY may not have been QUITE AS EXACT as she might have supposed

I may need more words…but at least I have a bedroom ready for her and a kitchen full of food. And a WELCOME which comes from within my bodice because if the poor girl is indeed with child I think she may be better off here than with the D’Arthurs.

I hardly had time to usher her over the threshold and take in her trunk (this woman has TWO) when another knock announced the arrival of a letter FROM MRS HANKEY.

I have no picture to show but you SURELY cannot have forgot my mistress? Come now, do KEEP UP.

She is the one who has set this SORRY TALE in motion. It was she who bade me search for the girl who may or may not have been RUINED by son Thomson Junior whilst in the West Indies. It is she who has NOT REPLIED to any of my earnest missives asking permission to engage the girl I BELIEVE may be the one sought for an EXORBIANT salary (only £5 a year less than my own).

It is WITH TREMBLING HAND I slit open the letter. I only have time to scan the contents. A few phrases LEAP OUT

I would appreciate a celebration dinner with my darling daughter on my arrival. 

…the horror of the girl from the West Indies has somewhat receded in that no one has any news of her…

I have taken such an aversion to the country that it may be a very long time before I visit it again.     

Mrs Hankey is ON her way.

Mrs Hankey THINKS her daughter Martha is living here. (I have not SEEN her this year!)

Mrs Hankey has not received ANY of my letters and is NOT aware of Susan’s existence.

OH dear.

Oh DEAR.

Mrs Hankey INTENDS to stay.

OH DEAR!

Mrs Finnegan is the creation of Bridget Whelan  and Paul Couchman, The Regency Cook 

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Reviews
**
I thought it would arrive by coach and horses and surprise my neighbours. It’s only an email
Mr Far-Too Literal BA (hons)

*****
Tuesday is my happy day!
Leonora

***
Not enough about cricket
S. Field Esq

*
I don’t believe a word of it!
Rev Hugh Morless



2 comments on “Do Not Mock Weeping Women, says Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper

  1. beth
    April 6, 2021

    amidst all the drama and tragedy, she is right!

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This entry was posted on April 6, 2021 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , .
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