While attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Byron and Shelley obtained lodgings from a local lawyer who had two beautiful daughters named Faith and Hope. Because of the thickness of their accents, Shelley thought of them as Feth and Hawp, and while Feth was the prettier of the two, she did not hesitate to express a flood of aggressively vocal opinions about everything from the weather to politics, and spoke so constantly that it would have taken a medical examination to determine exactly how she managed to breathe. Shelley much preferred Hawp, a demure and respectful creature who had little to say about anything at all while in her sister’s presence, but she was smitten with Byron.
On their second night in town, Shelley took Feth to see a comedy from England, during which she continually whispered comments, questions and opinions about the acting. Meanwhile, Byron took Hawp out to dinner, and the moment they sat down, Byron found himself in the company of a woman who was just as vocal, twice as opinionated, and ten times as discontented as her sister. His sole contribution to her unceasing flow of invective and dissatisfaction was the occasional grunt of sympathy and the infrequent interjection of the words “Oh really?” “Do you now?” and “Is that so?”
At the end of the evening, having bid their respective dates good night, the two men retired to their chambers in a state of wearisome distemper.
“How was your evening?” Byron asked.
“Oh it was Intolerable,” Shelley declared. “The Creature chattered away throughout the entire Performance. She is a sad Paradox, Byron—her opinions are as Odious as her features are Beautiful. And how was your dinner with Hawp?”
Copyright 2014 Matthew J Wells