The Contrast "I Am At The End Of My Tether"

Maria Edgeworth

"I Am At The End Of My Tether"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: In this comedy contrasting the dignified simplicity of Colonel Manly with the social affectations of Dimple, Charlotte, and Letitia, there is an equally striking contrast between Jessamy, the frivolous servant of Dimple, and Jonathan, the shrewd but uncultivated servant of Manly. In Act III Jessamy is intent upon teaching Jonathan the manly art of courtly wooing. Preening himself before his master's glass, he contemplates the proper method of composing amorous epistles and the proper way of cutting one's nails, "the ends of which should be kept even and clean . . . and cut in small segments of circles." After sufficiently grooming himself and instructing Jonathan how to proceed, he introduces Jenny to this Yankee servant, now bumbling and slow-tongued in the embarrassment of such an unfamiliar situation. Jonathan tries chit-chat, but quickly exhausts his supply; he sings several verses of "Yankee Doodle" but stops for fear the bawdy will affront her. Finally, in desperation he rushes to her side and embraces her, only to be soundly slapped. Jenny charges that he has no feeling for the delicacy of her sex.

Feeling! Gor, I–I feel the delicacy of your sex pretty smartly (rubbing his cheek), though, I vow, I thought when you city ladies courted and married, and all that, you put feeling out of the question. But I want to know whether you are really affronted, or only pretend to be so? 'Cause, if you are certainly right down affronted, I am at the end of my tether;–Jessamy didn't tell me what to say to you.