Consequences - Chapter 3
CHAPTER 3 - Charles’ Diary for January
January 1 SATURDAY 1st Month 1859
The year started here in York rather stormily & with unnatural weather for this season, warm & even sultry, with winds which do not freshen the air. This 1st January is in a worldly view a great improvement on last year's & perhaps so in all views; I hope so; I have found a love & companion with whom I can consort & live equably; Mary’s intellectual company & corresponding social ways will keep me from being sad & leaden. I love her & respect & admire her.
We went to Church today & I was proud to announce to all & sundry that Mary has agreed to be my wife & that our nuptials will take place at All Saints on the 20th of May. Mary proudly displayed her ring & has such a glow of happiness around her that I’m sure no one could help but be aware of it. We plan to go to the theatre tonight to see La Tour De Nestlé, which was written by Alexander Dumas in 1832 & is considered the greatest masterpiece of French melodrama.
Quite an effort to get to work today, having left York on the 7.15 a.m. train. The connection at Derby was somewhat late & I arrived at 3.30. Stayed late at the office to make up for it. Mary surprised me & somewhat shocked me by her bold behaviour in coming into my room this morning. I think & hope all will be well & she won’t regret her impetuosity. In the evening I had the Miss Mayberrys and Jones to spend the evening & we played the first game at whist which had been played in this house of the ‘Serious family’; My landlady, Mrs. Griffin's horror of card playing & its ungodliness seems to exist in quiet companionship with her refusal to sympathise with the afflictions of those whose afflictions are of their own bringing on; for these she has a godly hatred or rather a bigoted & sectarian one.
Last night I wrote a long letter to cousin friend George Thackray in reply to his last, telling of our wedding plans & giving him a general invitation to come & see me, at his own time & convenience; Note from Jones desiring to go to Malvern on Saturday. In town in evening, paid Weaver, boot maker’s bill 1/19/6.
Unclouded morning, but fearfully muddy; I wrote to Mr. McGlowan, Head of Vegetarian Society in answer to his application for my subscription posted some time ago. Long letter from Mary telling about her plans for the wedding. She seems in happy high spirits, which relieves my mind. Wonderful cartoon in last month’s Punch which I have just seen. It is by John Leech and shows two couples playing a string game, while the snow is piling up outside. The caption is Snowed Up. Poor fellows. They can’t get any Hunting and are Obliged to Play Cat’s Cradle.
Wrote last night to Uncle Clephan, not having heard from him this month past, also to Charles George & to Post with both. Met Mr. & Mrs. Cale walking out together this morning looking very blissful & delightfully idle; much different countenance from his usual at work. Got cough now on hand a week, which I am desirous of disposing of at a great sacrifice. Aunt Wilson & Jones down at my rooms this evening; walked uptown with my friend Jones to Andersons the Druggists, then to Hilbournes & settled with Mrs. B for two shirts made me by Adelaide.
Last night I was with Miss Bridges to spend an hour or two; present: Miss Bridges, two Miss Mayburys & a deaf Miss Mathews; playing at cards interlarded with Miss Bridges good humoured, laughing but somewhat broad & unreasonable attack on vegetarianism, of the principle of which she knew nothing.
After breaking fast walked up to Cousin Harry’s; waited until they rose; too damp for Malvern; tea and dinner at Aunt and Uncle Wilson’s.
Yesterday I had a long letter from Father, being the first this year, his letter had a reviving influence on me & instantaneously drove away the worries under which I have been labouring since the year began; Letter from Uncle Clephan announcing the death of his excellent and worthy Mother after a long illness, but as Uncle says, “She was a good mother and we feel her loss.” To lose a mother at all must be an irreparable loss whenever it may take place, as I know only too well & more especially when she possesses the mind, energies & talents that belonged to Mrs. Clephan. My dear departed mother is always in my thoughts.
I had another letter from Friend-Uncle William giving me some slight hope of coming over to Worcester as he is meditating on a visit to his brother at Leicester & would in that case, of course come over here. Wrote to encourage his good intention & keep him in the vein.
Letter from Mr. McGowan Secy to the Vegetarian Society acknowledging my letter & explanation in regard to my subscription. As I am secretary he asked me for details of local events & membership. Wrote to J.H. London as to “every information as to having your fortune told” signing “Walker.”
Finished my letter to Father last night. Then I sat up until 2 this morning writing to Mary in reply to her last & giving her all the news I could muster. Walked up to post & met cousin Harry Walker bringing him back to tea with me.
At Deighton's this morning & bought Scenes of Clerical Life by George Eliot. Received a reply from a fellow called Herman alias Tradoe the Seer a reply to my application as to his vocation, a circular with scale of charges for telling fortunes and casting nativities; what a shame that authority should tolerate or allow the existence of such impudent charlatanry.
Wrote, last night to my friends; William Dewse, telling of our wedding plans & also wrote to William Bacon. Letter this morning from cousin Ned Thackray of a melancholy nature in which he bemoans the usage his Father gives him ‘continually trying every small pretext to annoy him’ & so on; Ned had evidently written in a fit of the spleen & so I wrote back to him a longish letter of admonition & encouragement. Wrote also to my friend Bellerby to know if he could do a daguerreotyped portrait of our wedding. Letter to Mary.
Received Yorkshireman containing account of an action brought by William Richardson against Uncle Thackray for horsewhipping him, laying his damages at £50. Uncle got his whipping for £ & I dare say he thought the pleasure cheap. Went up to Jones to breakfast, meaning us to go to Malvern but the weather looks stormy & foreboding so we did not, but we walked down town & up Rainbow Hill & Lansdowne Crescent & the fields adjoining coming back after a very muddy walk to my lodgings to dinner; cousin Harry also dropping in & joining us. Towards four, we all turned out & had a walk up Gas Hill & on the Tolladine Road, taking the fields to the right & coming back past the Railway to tea at my lodgings after a delightful (?) mud bath.
George Eliot’s book is as pretty a tale as I ever remember reading; pure, fresh & earnest as a mountain stream & sparkling in the light of genius. Putting my books & book closet in order this evening, the Griffins having too noisy a party to admit of writing or reading.
Wrote to Father to buy & send me a pair of braces by Aunt & Uncle Henry. Miserable day, the sky being very overcast & cloudy; very heavy rains falling since yesterday morning.
Letter yesterday from Mr. McGowan, acknowledging receipt of my comments about lack of any local meetings, as I am the Local Secretary for this district but there are only two of us in the area who are registered, so not worth meetings or reports. The letter had been kept two days in Worcester, through some Post Office error. Finished my Christmas accounts yesterday & hope now to be a little more at leisure than I have been for a month or so past. In the town this evening after I had left the office.
At Deighton's yesterday, bought more paper, washing book etc. & got Victor Hugo’s Les Chatments out of library. This morning letter from William Bellerby saying he will take the daguerreotype picture for the wedding.
Yesterday I went up to Boughton in the evening, arranging how to send all of them to York for the wedding. Called at Harry’s & found them very tired; on up to Wilson’s to supper. Letter this morning from Mary. How I miss seeing her blessed comely face. Wrote long letter to her tonight, bidding her as good advice as I could about wedding plans etc.
Letter from Father this morning; Aunt & Uncle Henry still in York staying at Thackrays; Wrote this evening to Lindsay Hall, good friend since Liverpool days some ten years ago, scarcity of time cutting it short. Informing him of our plans for May. At Hilbournes last night & at Deighton’s. Reading a volume entitled The History of the Conspiracy of Maxamillian Robespierre, written in 1795 by a M. Mountjoy and bearing on it the impress of a mind shaken by the tremendous scenes it has witnessed into weakness & imbecility, so that he fancies he sees a huge conspiracy in the Reign of Terror the object where of was to create an Emperor Maximillian; he does not see that the very facts he narrates show how fearfully in earnest Robespierre was in doing right to his uttermost.
Last night I went up to Mr. Needham's; not only employer but good friend; decided to go to Wilson’s on Sunday to suffer a martyrdom in miniature by taking tea there; giving lessons to Richard in drawing, whereof I am only in the A.B.C.'s; I may be though, like Byron's governess who by teaching, learnt herself to spell. Am going to Mr. N's to dinner.
I went to Silver St. Chapel, none of my landlady’s family - the Griffins there; heard a very excellent sermon from W. Crowe on the Errors of Religion, breathing liberty of conscience & pointing out the best course he considers to follow: after sermon he gave a notice that the Rev. Mr. Somebody would use his pulpit next Sunday to enlighten his congregation as to the merits of the Seaman's Society, but he begged to caution them against aiding him with any money, for Mr. Somebody had promised to do without any & he, Mr. C. “hated trickery in religion. Let us pray.”
At Mrs. Plane's last night to return the old lady her glass, which she brought me with her present of jam in, then to Hilbourne's; told Adelaide of our wedding plans & how I need to be on the lookout for a suitable house & I jokingly proposed to her to come & be housekeeper for us. At Post Office in evening.
Mr. Needham's coal and corn transport business, despite the railways opposing him in all branches of it, increases & my labour proportionately so, in so much that I scarcely have half-an-hour between Sunday & Sunday available for any purpose of my own; it struck twelve this evening before I left the office & I am glad to note that things go more smoothly & correctly now, than when I was more disengaged; my thoughts have no wandering time.
After tea, I sat down to a long correspondence home, sending Father all the news, opinions & reflections I knew & had on hand, writing also to Mary & also wrote to cousin friend Charles George in reply to his last.
Yesterday spent an unusually quiet & therefore, pleasant evening, reading Georges by Dumas in which he examines the question of race & colonialism. The main character, a half-French mulatto, leaves Mauritius to be educated in France & returns to avenge himself for the affronts he had suffered as a boy. Long & retrospective welcome letter from Will Dewse full of honest feeling & rugged but glowing eloquence, with best wishes for our engagement & breathing brotherly attachment. Jones called at the office last night; I had not seen him for 10 days previous.
Heavy rains continue; the opposite bank of the “cut” of the canal to my office burst this evening, the water flooding the cottages close by to a considerable depth. Very busy at the office; did not leave until past 10.
Received Yorkshireman, as usually I do weekly, from Father; nothing of importance; the daily papers. Sent Herald home & Yorkshireman to Uncle Clephan. At Deighton’s, ordered scrap-book & Notes & Queries. Sent Household Words to Mary as I know she enjoys it so much.
Letter from Mr. & Mrs. Barnesley in Manchester still at the Temperance Hotel & for the management of such a place Mrs. B. appears eminently suited; she had got a severe cold; made her promise to send me receipt for lemonade; full of snow & sleet.
I am advancing rapidly in reading Dumas' George; his Marie Antoinette broke the prejudice I had against Dumas & I am now very much his admirer, and there are scenes which by their vivid sketching are daguerreotyped at once upon the mind's eye; and yet he uses the most common place language. Mary and I went to see a play of his in York over the New Year which was not done justice by the actors.