Lady Pendleton, Damian Ashby’s eccentric aunt (see the epilogue to Treasuring Theresa on Susana’s web site), is visiting Susana from the early 19th century. She’s intrigued by life in 21st century Toledo, Ohio, and, of course, Susana is thrilled to have the opportunity to pick her brain about life in Regency England. It certainly gives her a great deal to write about in Susana’s Parlour!
Susana (to the Reader): One of my traditional New Year’s goals is to work on clearing up the clutter in my basement office. I use a FlyLady timer that my friend Ellen sent me and tackle the mess fifteen minutes at a time. Well, I was going through some of the travel paraphernalia I brought back from England last May, and I found a $100 bill I had taken along just in case my debit card got eaten up by some greedy ATM. Since I usually carry around $60 or less at one time, I was just about to take out a bank deposit envelope when Lady P caught sight of the picture of Benjamin Franklin on the bill and mentioned that her father had been a great friend of his and that she had met him several times during her come-out. And she did have some fascinating things to say about this famous American statesman and his progency that you may not have heard before.
Lady P: My father dabbled a bit in science, you know. Younger sons do need to find something to occupy their time, even if they marry heiresses, as Papa did. In any event, Papa was a great patron of the sciences, and he and Mr. Franklin took to each other immediately. Papa visited his lodgings on Craven Street quite often to conduct experiments and whatnot.
Susana: How fascinating that you were able to meet Benjamin Franklin! What was he like?
Lady P: Quite a charming man. Not a dasher, you understand, though exceedingly well-groomed. But his witty conversation and elegant manners…goodness, if his son William had inherited even a small portion of his father’s charm…I daresay he could have married into the ton, despite his unfortunate birth.
Susana: Unfortunate birth?
Lady P: Indeed. He was a natural son, you know. Acknowledged, of course, and a British Loyalist all his life. Much better looking than his father, even in his sixth decade, as he was when I met him in the 1790’s, but certainly lacking his father’s éclat. you understand. Landed on his feet, though. Married a sugar heiress, I believe.
Susana: An illegitimate son who was a British Loyalist. Fascinating.
Lady P: Not so unusual. Like many colonists, the elder Mr. Franklin had divided loyalties. Why, Papa told me that many a time Mr. Franklin bemoaned the fact that neither side was willing to compromise on their positions. In the end, he took the side of the colonists and never returned to England, but his son William did. Fathered an illegitimate son of his own, too. Who in turn fathered two illegitimate children by two different women.
Susana: Oh dear. So many illegitimate children! Must have been quite scandalous at the time!
Lady P: Not really. Natural children are quite common. Our Englishwomen are known for their attraction for the male sex, you understand. It’s all in the complexion.
Susana: Er, yes. Of course.
Lady P: Dear Pendleton, of course, was much too prudent to indulge in such behavior, but his uncle–goodness, I could tell you endless stories about his escapades. Poor Aunt Lavinia was forever being humiliated…
Unfortunately, Susana never did finish de-cluttering her office. But she has pages and pages of notes about late 18th/early 19th century scandals that she plans to turn into a book one day. Lady P predicts an instant best-seller.
See you on Monday! As always, please comment if you have any specific questions you’d like Susana to pose to Lady P while she is here.