By John Russell, 1801. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click to go to original.
Mother and child by Adam Buck. Victoria and Albert Museum, via Jane Austen's World blog. Click to visit.
Uh-oh... (Spirit of Skiing 2 by Lamson Library via Flickr)
This is actually James Armistead Lafayette, a Virginia slave who turned into a spy for the Continental army and helped uncover the treachery of Benedict Arnold. (Click to go to article for more info.)
Party Boy George IV by Thomas Lawrence, via Wiki Commons.
My Dear Friend,
How long it's been! A little bird told me you have kindly been asking about our ever-growing family and how we all have fared in our early years of marriage. Thank you so much for keeping us all in your thoughts. It is with great joy that I can report we are generally thriving. Our days are peaceful for the most part - aside from all the usual rounds of the children's ordinary illnesses and their rather more extraordinary levels of noise when all the little cousins are together. (Mr. Walsh, our dear old butler, threatens to hide in the silver vault in the cellar on such occasions.)
For ourselves, my sisters-in-law and I have formed our own steadfast coterie, since it seems some of the ton's high-stickler ladies still refuse to accept, well, mainly me. I care not for my own sake if they will never receive me, as long as they do not shun my children when they are grown. But then, I know full well they wouldn't dare.
In any case, here is a sampling of all our latest news! Hmm...well, to start with, our dear bluestocking, Lizzie, has recently penned another novel. Of course, I cannot tell you what her pseudonym is, though you are welcome to guess. We are all sworn to secrecy on that point. She insists, for everybody knows that viscountesses don't write sentimental penny dreadfuls ~ as Alec likes to tease her that her books are. But his wife, Becky, who openly declares her love for wild gothic tales, is always Lizzie's first reader. If she cries, swoons, or has nightmares, depending on the story, we know the book will be a success.
Jacinda, meanwhile, is playing nursemaid to Billy these days after the foolhardy adventurer fell off a cliff (I am not jesting) in the Alps on one of his recent nature-conquering outings with Jack. Our ourdoorsy lords decided to attempt the Nordic sport of skiing. Let us simply say it did not end well. (To the surprise of neither of their wives.) Fortunately, Jack's wife, Eden, had an excellent herbal poultice from her father's exotic plant collection that helped to soothe their husbands' various bumps and bruises. Poor boys!
Oh, here is an interesting bit of news that I nearly forgot to mention! Do you remember Lord Strathmore's very kind African friend from American, Ben, who endured the horrors of slavery in his youth? A very brave man. Ben has returned to Philadelphia, at great personal risk, I might add, where he has joined an effort to help other escaped slaves establish new lives as free men and women in safer regions. Devlin accompanied him in case there was any trouble. I am not sure what the plan is, and though we are rather worried about their safety in these intrigues, we are all so proud of this noble work--especially Lizzie, of her beloved Devil Strathmore.
Our India cousins are all in Greece right now, awaiting the birth of Princess Sophia's royal firstborn on Kavros. I am told that our fearless Gabriel is a bit of a wreck. At least he has his brother by his side as he faces first-time fatherdom. Everyone here is laying wagers on whether the new royal heir of the island of Kavros will be a boy or a girl. Sophia is very happy, we are told.
Lastly, the merriest news of the day [NOTE - STRICTLY A SECRET!] is that the twins' wives, Alice and Miranda, are secretly planning the more enormous revelries for the occasion of Lucien and Damien simultaneously turning forty in a few months' time. Please keep word of this under your bonnet for now. You have no idea how difficult it is trying to plan a surprise birthday party for a former spy. In any case, it is sure to be the fete of the Season - and do rest assured, my friend, that you will receive your invitation by footman in due time. So you might want to start thinking about a new ballgown for the occasion now, before all the best modistes in Town are booked too far in advance. We are expecting King George himself to attend - but you know Prinny. His Majesty was never one to miss a party.
So, there you have it. All the latest news from the Knight ladies! Thank you once again for thinking of us, and please know we wish you every happiness, in turn.