BRIDGET WHELAN writer

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Dealing with Spoilt Sons and the Fears of Wallflowers – ADVICE from Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper

Mrs Finnegan throws herself into her work as Housekeeper at The Regency Town House and FLINGS advice at all who ask for it…

PATER BOUGHT ME me a pony.
I need an extra wide doorway to be built at the back of the house so I can ride him indoors on wet days. The work hasn’t started yet because the kitchen and the servants’ hall are in the way.
I don’t see how that matters!
Mater bought me a dog.
It sits next to me at mealtimes.
It is a very fashionable kind of animal, but it has something wrong with its bottom.
It makes awful noises and horrible smells comes out.
Everyone with manners pretends it isn’t happening expect our two pompous footmen.
They haven’t said anything, but I can feel them snigger behind my back.
Shall I get rid of them?
Or the dog?
Do they think it’s me making those noises?
By the way, I am an only child.
Master Cedric

Mrs Finnegan replies

Cedric, you NEED NOT have mentioned you are an only child.
I could tell BECAUSE you have all the manners and CHARM of a young man who is the sole heir to a considerable fortune.
Dealing with these problems in turn, can I suggest you forgo the DUBIOUS pleasure of riding your pony indoors.
I have heard of many NASTY accidents in just such circumstances. Polished floorboards and horse shoes do not go happily together.
One boy I know fell and hurt his head on a SIDEBOARD.
It hurt MOST dreadfully for weeks.
Now to the dog.
The footmen do INDEED believe that noxious odours are emitted from your personage but it is useless to BLAME them. If they think so, others are also making the same TERRIBLE mistake (but will not let you know by look, or deed, or snigger).
The dog is a dear companion, but I think it best he is given away to a COUNTRY home where he can run in the fields and not sit at the dining table.

Your father will be pleased you have spared him the trouble of a new entrance.
Your mother will be MORTIFIED that her present has caused such difficulties.
I have NO DOUBT you can think of new and interesting ways that your parents can express their gratitude and remorse.

I LOVE DANCING and especially waltzing, but feel I am not pretty enough to allay my innermost feelings of being a wallflower at great and glorious balls. Please help me to conquer my almost insurmountable shyness and wanting to meet a gentleman. I do posses pretty dresses.
A shy young Miss

Mrs Finnegan replies

If you are a regular reader you will know I have only RECENTLY become acquainted with the waltz (last week in fact. You can read about it HERE) But I NOW understand its attractions.
I was brought up to think it quite SCANDALOUS in a continental way. There was considerable TALK when Princess Dorothea von Something-or-Other introduced it when Tsar Alexander came to London in 1818 (which doesn’t SEEM that long ago…)
Now young ladies who have mastered the easy-going steps are SOUGHT AFTER on the dance floor. Remember THAT when you’re sent an invitation.
Remember too that not ALL the balls you attend will be great or glorious.
Not all the MEN will be handsome.
Not all the girls pretty.
But a lot of them – MORE than half – will feel just as shy and fearful as you do.
You may not be the most beautiful girl in the room, but you can MAKE SURE you are the nicest.
And other people will remember that.

And there’s NOTHING wrong with wallflowers.

PS

Like all inteligent women, I believe in self-improvement and endeavour to add to my vocabulary as often as time will permit.
My favourite new word is SEQUACITY.
It means a slavish following of another person’s opinions without any questioning at all.

I am not entirely sure of the pronunciation, but that has never stopped me before, and I am using it at every APPROPRIATE opportunity – it is truly surprising how many there are. Do give it a go.

Mrs Hankey left her diary at the back of the second drawer of the tall boy this morning and, at such an OPEN invitation, it would be rude not to let my eye alight CASUALLY on the several pages she has penned since I last happened upon it.
She has received a reply from Thomson Junior, the golden boy and favourite son, and her relief floods the pages.

The dear, sensible boy tells me that when he was on the plantation he was so frightened of the slaves – there seem to have been grumblings and murmurings most of the time and very little gratitude – that he took the decision not to dally there. What a prudent boy even at that tender age. Not his father’s son – emotionally I mean, or in manners, or good sense. 

But did he RECOGNISE Susan’s from his mother’s description? That is the point.
For a long time Mrs H has harboured THE FEAR she will bring disgrace on the family. It is why Susan was appointed lady’s maid last summer. The idea was to keep her close, find out more, DISCOVER her plans…none of which has happened.
Susan and I have become QUITE GOOD friends but she is still a closed book to me.

…to my most immense relief he denies all knowledge of her. He adds that he pays very little attention to servants and for all he knows she could be serving him breakfast for years. What he can be certain of though is that no brat of hers has anything to do with me. He puts it so well.    

Ah, but I do not believe Susan was EVER a servant before she came into this house. What she was in the West Indies, I do not know, but it is MY BELIEF that she was more of a lady than a lady’s maid. I read on and discover

He is on his way! Oh my dear boy will be here soon. I must get tickets for the theatre and the Assembly Rooms. I must get a new hat and tell all my friends…

She must tell her housekeeper so rooms may be got READY and a fine dinner prepared.
Dinners!
Lordy, I wonder how LONG he is staying.
For all of you who tut and sigh whenever I pick up the mistress’ diary please KEEP this moment in mind. This house would be a permanent state of CHAOS if I did not take the occasional peek.

But I must fly and be away now to the butcher, the fishmonger and greengrocer.

Turnips!! Carrots!! Quarts of Cream to be got. Ducks! Sirloin! A leg of Good Sussex lamb

This may be a SLIGHTLY idealised view of my dash to get everything ready, but I can assure you it was how I was feeling INSIDE.

Would you like to see where I LIVE?
View the desk where I PEN advice to heartbroken readers?
Thread the STAIRS that multitudinous servants have climbed?
Tours of The Regency Town House resume THIS SUNDAY. Find out all about it HERE
.

Sadly, I am unavoidably detained elsewhere on all the dates but I can ASSURE you that you will be in for a real Regency TREAT

The Chronicles of Mrs Finnegan are a regular feature written by Bridget Whelan working with a host of readers and volunteers at The Regency Town House. This week a special thank you to:
Paul Couchman
Jill Vigus
Ruth Tansey
Catherine Page

If you click HERE Mrs Finnegan will send you a note every TUESDAY to let you know when the ink is dry and her chronicle is ready to be read. That’s one less thing to worry about…
This service is provided ENTIRELY FREE of charges, taxes and tips.

2 comments on “Dealing with Spoilt Sons and the Fears of Wallflowers – ADVICE from Brighton’s Regency Housekeeper

  1. beth
    April 19, 2022

    mrs. Finnegan would recognize a spoilt only child from a mile away.

    • bridget whelan
      April 19, 2022

      I agree. I have faith in her judgement and there are two spoilt boys in this week’s chronicle.

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This entry was posted on April 19, 2022 by in Mrs Finnegen ADVICE from the 1830 and tagged , , , .
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