I have been invited by the lovely and charming Miss Grazia to share a few words with you, her ardent followers, and I must confess I find myself honored and perhaps even a bit humbled by the task.
Certainly it’s a bit different from when I was penning my memoirs, as I had good reason to suspect that due to the scandalous material to be found within those pages, they should not see the light of day for many a long year.
In this case, I am obliged to suspect that hundreds of lovely eyes shall be scanning this page in short order, so I shall endeavour not to disappoint.
But whatever shall I write about?
Having been given no particular task by our delightful hostess, I shall venture, perhaps, to write about the role of the scoundrel in polite society.
“Come, come, Mister Impudence,” I can hear all of the Mrs Jennings in the audience begin to chide us (oh, yes, my friend Willoughby did acquaint me with the activities of that meddlesome old harridan, and I’ve known many more of her sort in my day) “polite society has no place for rakes, rogues, and ramblers!”
Au contraire, Mrs Jennings!
In point of fact, society would be damned boring if not for the exploits of chaps such as myself, John Willoughby, that young rascal Harry Flashman, and even (though it pains me to say so) our French contemporaries such as the notorious hussar Etienne Girard. Whatever would people gossip about in salons if not the latest scandals perpetrated by ourselves and our feminine counterparts such as Lola Montez?
Besides all that, we tend to perform some useful functions in uniting the affections of those more proper ladies and gentlemen whom without our intervention, should be prevented by their damnable pride and questionable prejudices from every being joined in matrimony.
Consider my god-brother Darcy and the former Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Unlike myself, Darcy is no seducer, and hadn’t the wit to imagine that the best way to woo a woman might not be by firstly insulting her family, her lack of connections, and even her own beauty. And to come right out and admit to having ruined her favorite sister’s prospects for happiness? Clearly Darcy was never going to win Elizabeth’s hand if left to his own devices, and thus it was up to me (for the small price of 10,000 pounds and a commission as a Dragoon officer) to engineer a situation that would not only allow him to redeem himself, but give him a suitable opportunity to renew his suit...
You will be able to read the details of how I accomplished this (no mean feat, considering the antipathy with which my taciturn god-brother viewed me) in my memoirs, ‘round about Chapter Nineteen, if memory serves. Supposing, of course, that my indolent historiographer, the rascal E.H. Carpenter, gets around to publishing it sometime soon. Good lord, the fellow barely manages to edit and post a chapter a week. You would think he had a real job, or something, but he claims to be an officer and a gentleman, so more likely he’s wasting my time and his money gambling, drinking, or chasing foxes and women. But I digress.
Finally, it falls on me to note the other particular influence of scoundrels on polite society, to wit, that we’re often created by it, and could often have been reformed by it, if not for the Mr Darcys and Mrs Jennings of the world.
Again, consider my case. I had wooed and won Georgiana, as detailed in Chapter Nine of my memoirs, but thanks to the meddling of her guardians, Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam, that union was blocked, and thus, rather than being married to the one woman whose accomplishments and good nature might have served to reform me, I would later end up married to the former Lydia Bennet, a woman quite accurately described as “vain, ignorant, idle, and absolutely uncontrolled” – hardly the sort of woman to rein in my baser impulses.
So, there you have it. One man’s opinion, but as a man who’s been married and fought Napoleon (hard to say which was the more dangerous job) worked undercover for the Prime Minister of England, chased mythical monsters to the far reaches of the globe, betrayed renegade Lords, seduced any number of wanton women, and managed to keep my head firmly attached to my shoulders throughout it all, I’d say I’m entitled to that judgment, but of course I would love to hear yours.
Adieu for now,
Wickham himself may be found at https://twitter.com/Mister_Wickham or https://www.facebook.com/MisterWickham .
His memoirs are being published one chapter a week as a serial novel at: http://theperfidiousmisterwickham.blogspot.com
His rascally historiographer can be found via the following methods: