December 1, 1829
William did come again, and told us all about his exciting time. He went with Uncle Tom to a Gentleman’s Club in Hackney. Apparently they played bridge until midnight. Then the next day, after work, they dined in town and went to the opera see Fanny Kemble playing Juliet. He said that her acting was beautiful in some parts. “The balcony scene was admirable, you would believe that she really did love devotedly,” he said, “But she is quite plain, but as we were in the boxes, not
fancying the pits, we were quite a distance away and couldn’t see her distinctly.”
It was her 20th night, and apparently they have cleared £10,000 by her acting in it already. That seems an almost unbelievable amount of money to me.
William seems to have caught a cold from the bad weather, but he went with us to Chapel to hear Mr. Aspland, but did not go for the usual Sunday afternoon walk.
I asked to William tell me something more about where he works. The name of the solicitor's office is Taylor and Roscoe and they have their chambers at 11 King’s Bench Walk. Apparently Mr. William Roscoe used to be partners with Josiah Lace from Liverpool, and the families knew each other. That is how he was able to get his position with them.
William has rooms at Rev. Sam Wood’s house, 28 Carmarten Street, which is
directly across from the University, so that is where Rev. Wood gets most of his lodgers from. It is a mile and a half that William has to walk to get to his chambers. He is friends with some of the other boarders.
We saw William at Mr. Thomas Belshaw’s funeral. He apparently was a
distant cousin of William’s mother. And he used to be the preacher here. Rev. Taggart took the service, and it was very good, and not too long. Often sermons go on for over an hour but this was only ¾ of an hour. We didn’t speak to William as he was with someone he knew via his fiancee’s family in Liverpool.
December 11, 1829
William came early to our house on Wednesday for breakfast with Father and to
meet two of his friends, Mr. Pringle, who writes in the Annuals, and Colonel Thompson, who was formerly Governor of Sierra Leona, but recalled for his liberal opinions. Father welcomes liberal opinions in our house.
Mr Pringle went from Scotland to Africa about 10 years ago, and wrote lots of poems about his time there. William gave me a copy of this one to put in my diary. It is called The Desolate Valley.
At still midnight, within our wattled shieling,
'Twas wildly beautiful at times to hear
The Elephant his shrill reveille pealing,
Like some far signal trumpet on the ear:
Then, while the silvery moon was shining clear,
How fearful to look forth upon the woods,
And see the stately forest-kings appear
Emerging from those mountain solitudes—
As if that trump had woke Earth's old gigantic broods!
I wish I could write poetry like that. And I would love to go to Africa to see the animals.
Colonel Thompson had been in Parliament before he became governor of Sierra
Leone. He and Father are both involved in the Anti Corn Law League. The corn laws were made to protect English farmers from wheat imports from abroad, but it also makes the cost of a loaf of bread much higher, which works against the welfare of the working class.
Father is good friends with Colonel Thompson as he is with William Wilberforce, and they are all doing their best to get rid of slavery. That was why Colonel Thompson was dismissed from Sierra Leone. He didn't like their system of having freed the slaves then forced upon them an apprenticeship for 14 years. He said it was like they were becoming slave agents themselves, so he was sacked. He is in the army in India now, just home on leave.
William says his fiancee Mary Cox is keen for him to have his likeness done,
but he is not sure which miniature painters would suit him. Father recommended Moses Haughter, so he was going to look into that.
16 December 1829
William is going to spend Christmas Day with Grandma and his cousins, but no
doubt we shall see him and go for walks together. He was here on Sunday and showed us his likeness which he is sending to Mary for her Christmas present. I wonder what she will think of it. I think it makes him look very serious and intelligent. He is annoyed as the painter made his ribbon red, without asking him, and it was black. But by the time he saw it, it was too late to make him change it, and the painter said it looked better with more colour. And William also thinks the man made his hair too reddish and he thought it made him look too gay.