Tuesday 14th January
The old night nursery
I am currently waiting for our seamstress to finish pinning the skirt of Elizabeth’s new gown for the last adjustments, so that she can begin on my sleeves. She has left the final fitting rather late, and Mother is justly unhappy.
It’s our birthday in ten days. Ten days! In ten days I will be sixteen years of age, and Elizabeth and I will begin our season of ‘coming out’. Perhaps we are rather young; and yet Mother wants us very much to have been presented ere the Great Exhibition begins. Of course, it will be a prominent and celebrated event across the entire Empire, and thousands of people are expected to come to our city London from all over the globe.
How dreadfully exciting it’s all going to be! Gennie says we are to go to the opening ceremony. I think, since I am not yet officially a young lady of England, I can be permitted to say ‘I can’t wait!’ Alas, I think I might have to do just that, unless I perish before the coming of the summer—and that would not be a very favourable occurrence, for I would never be able to witness the object of my desire.
I ramble! Yes, Mother is convinced that the Exhibition will allure many young wealthy gentlemen from very rich and beautiful places. It’s always ‘husbands, husbands, husbands’ with Mother! And care I, for that? Not a little—I care a lot for talk of handsome and entitled men! if not so very much for foreigners. It is true that I would like to see Paris and Vienna and Venice, and perhaps the South of Spain; but I have no use for a husband who cannot speak my language. Oh, no!—I care for the gallant men of our great London.
But Mother does not understand that. She says if she’d ever been given the opportunity to marry a man who lived in Central Europe, she would have grabbed the chance with both hands and never let go. I wonder what the man she married might have thought of such an action, had she truly held to it! —I wonder still more what poor Father would think of that, had he heard it.
In any case, there will not be many months for us to find and captivate these young wealthy gentlemen from very rich and beautiful places. Why, even our dear Herr Blumenthal has decided to return to Salzburg after the Exhibition. And so we go to our first ball in five days!
How I dream that Mr C Rutherford might be there… Yes, indeed, Clement Rutherford…
For our birthday night Mother has arranged a dinner party. This, to me, is less exciting than the ball. I am to partner our cousin Frederick, and the other members of the table will be standard—family and such. No eligible bachelors save for Frederick—and goodness me! If Mother intends me for my cousin Frederick I am swore to run away and freeze to death in my grandmother’s graveyard! Sooner would I dally in deceit and scandal than to wed such an abominable creature!
Do as I am told I will, but marry my cousin I will not! Every command I obey should be within due reason. Marrying Frederick would not be within reason. Such that even I could not rashly bestow him upon my sister Elizabeth. ‘Twould be too terrible a tribulation—even for a sister!