Thursday, September 18
Mrs. Elton Sez: Modesty? Ladyhood? As if!
Gentle readers, last week Mrs. Elton received a letter from a young lady who is clueless in Beverley Hills entreating her for advice with a young man named Elton. Suffice it to say, Mrs. Elton's advice was not quite what she was expecting.
Hey Mrs. E.
Modesty? Ladyhood? Anglican? As if! Are you from Pasadena Mrs. Elton? Cuz my best Dione has a cousin Sally from Pasadena. She’s totally a dweeb and full of cake. Thinks she’s Sandra Dee or somethin’. Sits at home on Saturday nights watchin’ Stone Age flicks with her mom like Gidget Goes Hawaiian or Beach Blanket Bongo. Gag. Don’t they know dancing on the beach is so yesterday? Oh I could just ralph. Modesty? Oh yeah. Wasn’t that a fashion craze from London in the 60’s? I think that’s when my Gramma wore her stylin’ white go-go boots. Those were way cool. Anyway, why would you want me to be in that gross street gang Ladyhood? Ew! Their clothes are like so growdy and they need like better colors in their tattoos. Fur sure.
So I give one snap for effort Mrs. E., but give me somethin’ to work with here. That boy Elton is a total Bladwin, but he doesn’t even notice me.
Even more clueless in Beverly Hills
My dear Miss Horowitz,
Your letter concerns me greatly. It is so badly written, with such poor mode of expression, appalling use of gutter patois, and no attention to stops. When first I had the honour of hearing from you, you will recollect that I even thought you were Irish. I have been disabused on that point; but how extraordinary it is that the daughter of a rich man should express herself like the merest guttersnipe, so as to give rise to the impression that she is, at best, of the servant class, and newly arrived in a situation. It is the mingling of classes that does this sort of mischief, I am convinced. The divisions of society ought always to be respected; every one should know his place. Do not you remember the verse, "The rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, and ordered their estate"? Surely you have heard that in Church on innumerable Sundays...unless, can it be? Mr. Horowitz has not done his duty and made you acquainted with the precepts and duties of your Religion. But that can scarcely be possible. I would not believe it, even of him.
You are a Christian, are you not, Miss Horowitz? Yet I cannot account for your writing like the merest Cockney, like a girl who has not been gently bred. I do perceive from your letter, however little I comprehend its language, that you have a value for Fashion. That being the case, do you imagine that any of the most fashionable ladies in the kingdom speak or comport themselves as you do? Surely you know better. I conclude, however, that you are deaf to appeals to your better nature, to your Religion, and even to the trammels of Fashion. To what then can I speak? Only to your love of the young Mr. Elton, which would be perfectly apparent, even if you were writing in Greek.
A young lady who loves a young man (though no girl should fall in love until actually assured of the affection of the object in question) must study to see what will please him, and practice allurements and blandishments that will inevitably win him. Miss Horowitz, your money may be some inducement; your appearance is altogether well and even handsome, and may be another attraction. But young Mr. Elton is a gentleman, and none but a lady will ever succeed with him. You must rid your vocabulary of its coarseness, and learn to comport yourself as a modest young woman, as to be sure I have told you before, but you do not seem to have heard.
Miss Horowitz, I am patient beyond all reason, and will try to make myself clear once again. You are in the most urgent need of tuition. Your father has been so much occupied making money, it is very evident that he has neglected his duty by his daughter, and your manners have been formed in a very bad school. Who, then, is to teach you? Upon whom are you to model yourself as a lady? Out of respect to your family, I will venture to make a suggestion. If you would like to come to the Vicarage at Highbury for an extended visit of two or three months, I will do what I can in the way of tutelage. It is not to be expected, in the midst of my multifarous activities, that I will have much time for instruction; but by watching a clergyman's lady wife in her round of activities, you will have before you a Living Rule of Ladyhood, and the result should be that your manners and speech will be very much improved. Let me know if you wish to take up this invitation; Mr. E's coach can meet you halfway. I am sure I should find you of very valuable use with the younger children, and it may be that young Mr. Elton may even pay a visit to his old home. I make no doubt he will, if informed of your presence; but you must be thoroughly prepared for such a circumstance, and cease your foolish talk about white boots. They would be most extravagant and unsuitable in our muddy lanes.
Your sincere friend and well-wisher,
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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