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Tuesday, September 23

Mrs. Elton Sez: Dancing Demon Wants to Ditch Sisters!

Dear Mrs. Elton,

I am fifteen years old and am appealing to you to intercede on my behalf. My two older sisters, Emily, who is eighteen, and Octavia, who is seventeen, have come OUT and are attending balls, soirees, and parties. In a few months they will be traveling to Town for the season, while my parents have decreed that I must remain in the nursery with my younger sister, who is ten, and my twin brothers, who are two years old. This situation is unfair! I would be forever grateful if you would consider writing to my father and advising him that I am mature enough to join my older sisters. He has a high regard for Mr. Elton's sermons, so I am certain your thoughts would be most welcome.

Sincerely yours,

Miss Cordelia Compton

My dear Miss Cordelia,

You write like a young lady who has the insatiable taste for dancing that comes to us all at fifteen. But it will never do for a younger sister to be married before her two elder ones, and judging by the liveliness and eagerness of your letter, you will be snatched up for marriage in your first season, very likely ahead of Miss Emily and Octavia. Imagine their fury! They will be your sisters for the rest of your lives; do you wish to disappoint and alienate them so that a positive hatred for you stirs in their breasts? Surely not. I know it would be a very fine thing to walk before them into all the drawing-rooms of the country, as Mrs. So-and-So, or better yet, Lady So-and-So, which will happen if you are the first to marry; but I appeal to your sense of fairness. You are young enough to wait a little, and to give your elders a chance. Only think, if they have a season themselves, they will be all the better placed to introduce you to all manner of beaux when you come out. Whereas if you all entered society at the same time, you would be in danger of being thought as elderly as they! No, no, depend upon it, you will come out with far more eclat if you wait, if only for a twelvemonth. I give you my word, if your papa and mamma do not consent to your being presented at sixteen,
I will mention the matter to them myself, or perhaps beg Mr. Elton to intercede on your behalf. In the meanwhile, practice your music and drawing assiduously; make good use of the back-board, and be most careful of your Complexion. Grow older and prettier, my dear Cordelia, and you will, with certitude, have your reward.

Faithfully, if a bit wearily,

Mrs. Elton

Mrs. Elton Sez is written/channeled by Austen-esque author Diana Birchall, whose latest book, Mrs. Elton In America, is now available. Please join her once a week for her sage and sometimes sardonic voice, as she graciously condescends to advise on a variety of subjects. Laurel Ann and Vic admit to channeling their Regency doppelgängers as they take turns writing the letters. They are usually surprised by Mrs. Elton's responses, whose mind is as unpredictable and lively as her tongue.

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