Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Duchess SPEAKS III

The main character in our next show is a fascinating woman known only as "The Duchess." As we approach the show's opening in October, we'll be sharing some carefully selected excerpts from her 6,000+ page biography/memoir. Here are a few of the Duchess's most vital statistics, as detailed in her book's appendix:

The weight of the duchesses wealth in gold (13 tons, 7 cwt. 3 qrs. 12 lbs.) would require 107 men to carry it, supposing that each of them carried 289 lbs.

In her summer rural excursions through different parts of the kingdom the first demand of the duchess at the country inns was whether they had any old magazines, and she would be rendered happy for the rest of the day by the production of “Ladies Magazines,” “Fashionable Miscellanies,” “Polite Remembrancers,” and such like forgotten veterans of the last century.

The duchess took in all the Sunday papers which attacked her, and had them placed in her library, for the benefit of those gentlemen guests who might wish to evince their independence of character by repeating ridicule respecting the individual whom they had adulated at dinner.

A dress of green velvet, with a black hat and feathers, and a superb diamond hawk suspended from the girdle.

Nobody made a present with more delicacy and grace than the duchess—a tact which, even if it had not been natural, she could hardly fail to have acquired by long and constant practice. ‘My dear,” she said to a fair damsel whose sarcenet scarf had been slightly marked by the wheel of the carriage, ‘you cannot possibly wear it to-night, for we are going to be very gay. I wish you would change with me. I may wear what I like in my own house, you know, and I never fancied what I have now on, it is too young for me. Come now, be a good girl, and do it to oblige me.’ So saying, she withdrew the sarcenet, and threw over the shoulders of its late wearer a valuable scarf of white blonde lace.

Her grace took great delight in disguises, comic recitations and songs, jests, imitations, jugglers, and ventriloquists; tastes which had probably been imbibed early in life.

Few persons enjoyed a facetious anecdote, a jest, or a bon mot, with more gusto than the duchess. It was, perhaps, the only pleasure of her youth that she retained unimpaired; she formed a capital audience, as it is technically termed; her laugh was prompt and hearty, and she loved to run about communicating to others the good thing which had just given delight to herself, and which she seldom repeated without improving it in the mode of narration. Without laying claim to be a wit herself, she knew well how to elicit it from others, while she displayed at times a quiet drollery that amounted to humour.

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