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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Mistress Peggy Goes to Court

By Margaret Hutchinson

[Daughter of the Governor. A Letter to her Sister in America. Written, October, 1774.]

MY task is over. I have been at court again. It has been a fatiguing though not altogether an unpleasant day. I sent yesterday to Mrs. Keene to know if it would be agreeable to her to go to-day. We were both of a mind; for while a servant was going with my card she sent one to me; and to-day about one o’clock papa and I set off for St. James. We called for Mrs. Keene, but found that one coach could not contain more than two such mighty hoops; and papa and Mr. K were obliged to go in another coach. There was a very full Drawing-Room for the time of year. The King and Queen both spoke to me. I felt much easier than I did before, as I had not the ceremony of being presented to go through: indeed, my dear, it is next to being married. I thought I should not mind it, but there is something that strikes an awe when you enter the Royal Presence. I had, however, many compliments paid me on my performance: if I tell you what the Queen said of me to-day, will you not think me vain? The company all stand round in a circle, and the King and Queen go round, and speak to everybody that has been presented. As she advanced toward me, I felt in a little flutter, and whispered Mrs. K that I should behave like a fool. “You need not,” says she, “for the Queen has been saying many fine things of you to my sister. She says you are very genteel, and have much the appearance of a woman of fashion.”

I can’t say but I felt of more importance, and perhaps answered her questions with a better grace. She asked me how long I had been in town? I answered: “About a fortnight.”

“Are you come for the winter?”

“Yes, ma-am.”

“How do you like England—better than the country you came from?”

“I think it a very fine country.”

“What part of it have you been in?”


“I hope you have your health better for it.”

“Much better.” Thus ended our conversation; and had it been with any other than a queen, I should have thought it too trifling to relate. She told papa she was very glad to see his daughter look so well. We were fatigued with standing, and got out of the Presence Chamber as soon as we could.

Lord Dartmouth came and spoke to me. I congratulated him on the birth of his daughter, which is a great rarity, after seven sons. He is the most amiable man I ever saw; and was he not married, and not a Lord, I should be tempted to set my cap at him,—two substantial reasons however to prevent me….

Four of the young Princes came in after I had been there about half an hour. I never saw four so fine boys. After the Drawing-Room was over we went into the nursery, and saw the rest of them. I was highly delighted, and could hardly keep my hands off them: such sweet creatures I never beheld. The Princess Royal with two sisters and a little boy which I took to be about three years old, stood in a row, one just above the other, and a little one in leading strings, sitting in a chair behind them, composed this beautiful group. I was determined, if possible, to kiss one of their little pudsey hands, and with some difficulty persuaded Mrs. K. to go up to them, their [there] being a great deal of company in the room. She at last went, and I followed her. I asked Prince Ernest for his hand, which he very readily gave me, and I gave it a very hearty kiss. They behaved very prettily: they courtesied to everybody that came in, and the boy nodded his head just like little Tom Oliver. We did not get home till almost five o’clock, and found Elisha and Billy fretting for their dinner.