Thursday, March 30, 2006

30Dec1858, The Ball at Stourbridge

HAGLEY, December 30th, 1858.
—The great event of our first ball came off at Stourbridge, and we much enjoyed it ; chaperoned by Papa and Aunt Coque. The thought would come of how Mamma would have liked taking us ; and it must have made it sad to Papa. But I think he enjoyed seeing us dancing, and greatly we liked it. We were not in bed till past 3, nor up next morning till 11 1/2 ! It felt so dissipated.

15Dec1858, Hunting

HAGLEY, December 15th, 1858.
—Papa and Charles hunted, and came home looking mildewed with fog, having found nothing.

04Dec1858, Silence Was Appalling

HAGLEY, December 4th, 1858.
—Soft and pleasant. We made much of the boys : blew soap-bubbles with them (one of mine, by the bye, floated from the perron to the witch elm, where we lost sight of it), played draughts, whist, and backgammon in the evening. I marched in solitary state at 8 to church, which Cooper and I divided between us. Uncle B. reconnoitred from behind the curtain : looked at me in the foreground, dim emptiness behind me, and retreated. After a pause of agitating suspense, Papa and Mr. Boyle came. In due time both clergy walked into the reading-desks, where they stood for full 3 minutes. The silence was appalling. It might have seemed sublime ; but somehow 'twas only ridiculous. After those ominous minutes, Rector and Curate stalked back to the vestry, and Papa and I and Cooper returned to our respective homes.

01Dec1858, A Problem Visit

HEWELL, December 1st, 1858.
—Two young ladies Bridgeman have been frightfully burnt, through some carelessness. One, Lady Charlotte, died on Saturday. They are daughter-in-law's sisters to Lady Windsor, and very intimate. Hence we concluded that our invitation to Hewell would have been blown up. That not being the case, however, we drove here in the evening, doubting and wondering, 1st whether a letter had been written and miscarried, 2ndly whether we had been altogether forgotten, 3rdly whether we should find the whole party gone to the funeral, or going tomorrow, 4thly whether we were unaccountably reckoned such old shoes that they didn't mind our sitting, dullissimus, benumbing, with them, 5thly if they had taken it for granted we should not come. In all which surmises we were mistaken. We found the Lady Baroness and two daughters in quiet but placid spirits, and happy coloured gowns, quite ready to entertain us, which, with the help of the Revd. Mr. Dickens of Tardybigg, they successfully did till 11 1/4 at night when we went to bed.

10Nov1858, The Ionian Isles

HAGLEY, November 10th, 1858.
—I wrote to Agnes, who is going with her parents to the Ionian Isles, he [FN: Mr. Gladstone was sent on a mission to the Ionian Islands in 1858.] as Lord High Commissioner on some knotty point. Very delightful, but they will miss Willy's first Oxford vacation, and be away for Xmas, which is a pity.

04Nov1858, Old Saxon Architecture

LANHYDROCK, November 4th, 1858.
—Dim, grey day, cold and autumnal, with no distance. We drove with Papa and Mr. Robartes in a post-chay and two, a 40 miles drive to Tintagel and back. The drive was bleak and desolate, over dreary moor, with stunted trees, few and ruinous cottages, and not a human creature for miles ; nearly went melancholy mad. At length we came within sight of the church, standing nakedly up on a hill against the sky, and then by a most unprepossessing approach to a pretty little parsonage smothered in creepers. Here the brisk little Vicar received us with a rapid flow of words and welcomes, and carried us off to the church. I never saw such an interesting one : much of old Saxon architecture, so supposed, Norman, E. English, and a bit of Decorated and Perpendicular : a side-chapel with a stone altar 1,000 years old, with crosses cut upon it, ancient carved wood, and little single lancet windows, with deep splayed sides. We returned to a sumptuous and highly peppered luncheon, and then---- Now for the beauty that forms a fit crowning-point to all that we have seen in this beautiful county.

We went down a rocky valley with a stream running along it into the sea. Then we turned to the left and saw before us a steep path up one of the cliffs, which stood up grandly round the bay, all craggy and broken. The sea was deep emerald-green, far below us. We climbed higher and higher, among the scanty ruins of the Castle, old beyond all date, and said to have been King Arthur's. No use trying to do justice to the greatness and dignity of these perpendicular cliffs, and the sea four hundred feet below, warm with that wonderful colouring in spite of the grey November sunlessness, which, alas ! prevented us from seeing the glorious expanse of horizon.
We saw a peak standing apart, like a needle ; rough and craggy ; and on the flat top is a cross carved, still easy to be seen, and having a look of solemnity, as if the wild rocks and sea would speak of One greater than they. As indeed they do !

24Oct1858, Aboard the Royal Albert

ANTONY, October 24th, 1858.
—A very pleasant last day. We went for morning service on board C. Rice's ship, the Royal Albert, which we went all over. The service was most striking : the middle deck covered with sailors : 1,000 of them, all very quiet and attentive, the sermon excellent. All the passages in the Liturgy about the sea coming in with such meaning, and the beautiful Navy prayer. I was positively awestruck at the enormous size, depth, and complication of the ship ; with the mighty mysterious machinery, the swarms of sailors, the beautiful incomprehensible rigging, etc., etc. It has the heaviest broadside of any ship in commission. And all as clean as a pink. C. Rice, with other officers, pioneered us about, and we did it as thoroughly as possible in so short a time. We had luncheon on board, and then home, and to afternoon church at the School. A very nice evening of talk, music, and singing.

22Oct1858, Fun in the Carriage

ANTONY, October 22nd, 1858.
—We had great fun in the carriage parodying Scott, and singing all the old songs we could rake up.

21Oct1858, The Two Captains Rice

ANTONY, October 21st, 1858.
—We both greatly like the two Captains Rice, who seem sensible and good and are very amusing. We had an exciting morning of battledore and shuttlecock.

20Oct1858, Most Delightful Day

ANTONY, October 20th, 1858.
—The most delightful day of all. We went in a boat across the Sound to the Breakwater, towed by a gunboat most of the way, and going 7 or 8 miles an hour. We went along the breakwater to the lighthouse, in spite of the sea breaking slightly over it. We climbed up the lighthouse, and going back had a sort of race with the waves, which as the tide was rising deluged the breakwater every moment. M. with her accustomed sang-froid, wouldn't go above a foot's pace, and got drenched up to the knees ; all of us were wet ; it was great fun. Then another delightful row, with the sails up, and all over the dockyard, where I first learnt to appreciate the enormous size of the ships, by their masts and yards. Also saw a penny reduced to pure copper ore by the blow-pipe, and soldering by the same. A delightful row, and pleasant walk home with the elder C. Rice.

18Oct1858, Mount Edgcumbe

ANTONY, October 18th, 1858.
—We went to Church, view St. Luke, and drove with the Carews and young Captain Rice to the top of and all round Mount Edgcumbe. The steep descent below us was one mass of evergreen, tier above tier, and at its foot spread the open sea, lit up with one of the transient gleams of sunlight, which just caught the white crests of the waves ; while to the left lay five stately ships of the line. This broke suddenly upon us, and the beauty was such that I had a wild impulse to fling myself down into its arms as it were.

12Oct1858, New Cards for Whist

HAGLEY, October 12th, 1858.
—I invested four shillings of my gambling money in a new pack of green-backed cards, with a gold ivy pattern on them, wherewith we played at whist in the evening. I trust they are not intensely vulgar !

11Oct1858, We Came Home

HAGLEY, October 11th, 1858.
—We came home, after a most delightful visit, full of much pleasure, and giving me a very happy launch into the world. I have enjoyed it greatly and kept quite clear of all scrapes. In fact, C. Ebbett has paid us both compliments as to our manner, etc. This is very nice to hear : it is what would have pleased Mamma.

09Oct1858, Amazing Fun

ESCRICK, October 8th, 1858, or rather the 9th, for it must be past two.
—We have all sat up to this unconscionable hour at Lord Boyle's earnest request to Cousin Ebbett, put in irresistible Irish, under the promise of something amusing at the end of the evening. So we had playing, the Miss Grahams' glorious singing, three comic songs, a round game, from whence I was 10s. richer, and finally a jig by Lord Boyle, in a coat with one tail, tucked-up trousers, and all etcs., to make him a perfect tipsy Irish post-boy. He kept us dying with his brogue for some time : amazing fun, but perfectly gentlemanlike all the time, and looking too absurd. I rode with Bingy, Papa and Edward. We saw some of the shooting. Bingy paid me a most elegant compliment. He asked me if I liked his mother. I said : " Do you think anyone can know her without liking her ? " Says he : " No ; and can anyone know you without liking you ? " He is a pleasant, bright boy, and the pink of courtesy. Papa has sold the Rubens for £500.

07Oct1858, A Pleasant Day

ESCRICK, October 7th, 1858.
—Pleasant windy day, warmer ; damp, but no rain. I rode with the three children to Morby, where we saw Mrs. Preston. I was on a nice fast pony, and greatly liked it. For the evening came Mr. and Mrs. Duncombe and her two sisters, who made most beautiful music, singing Italian together in such harmonious unison, with soft full voices. There were also two comic songs, and to wind up, the most capital jig, performed by Lord Boyle and Cousin Bick. Oh, the fun of the former !

04Oct1858, A Drive and a Comet

ESCRICK, October 4th, 1858.
—We had a 60 miles drive ; to Riveaulx Abbey, four-in-hand, changing horses twice, in the drag. So very delightful : Cousin Ebbett [FN: Lady Wenlock] and I on the outside : the aged Meriel within. There came also Papa and C. Dicker, who drove turn about ; Lord Boyle and Edward Neville. I never saw finer country or such perfect and beautiful Early English ruins. We set off at 9 and were home at 8, I remained outside the whole time. Pouring rain nearly all the morning ; but a beautiful afternoon and night. I saw the heavy bank of clouds that had overhung the sky all day roll off into nothing at nightfall before the stars as they shone out one by one, and the marvellous comet with its sweep of pale light, curving high upwards, like a great white plume, all one line of beauty.