A house visit in Nottinghamshire

Alice’s weekend in Wales didn’t go entirely to plan, but she had high hopes for her next port of call- Kelham Hall in Nottinghamshire, home of racy London friend May Manners Sutton and her long-suffering husband, John.

Kelham, Saturday September 5th, 1868

Arrived here at about two-thirty, after the most fatiguing journey: and though I have not been in the house twelve hours, have already heaps to write.

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My worthy cousin John Manners Sutton’s conjugal principles are, happily for all concerned, constructed of the most elastic and yielding materials and his wife is not slow in turning to the best possible account the liberty she is thus allowed. Indeed, as far as I can make out, the world is quite of the same opinion. May looks upon her lovers as she does upon her dinner: a thing good in itself and indispensable to life; but that to render really palatable, must constantly be varied.

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Since I have known her, and that is barely a twelvemonth, a handsome young Italian, Col Wynne, Frank Gordon and Baby Stewart have all in turn been admitted and dismissed from favour. Yes, dismissed! Alas for the poor Baby, his sovereignty has expired and now Johnny Ogle the gambler reigns in his stead.

I am no particular admirer of les couvenances [the rules of decorum], indeed am in the habit of putting them aside, when I can do so undetected: but really May’s total disregard of them is something alarming.

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