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The Governess
By Aimée


Shibden Hall, September 3rd, 1821

Breakfast at 6.30 – just bread and tea, had no stomach for more. My aunt had tried to ask me to wear other than my usual black but I refused – it would after all suit my new station. I knew I was doing my duty & helping my family but the knowing did not make this endeavour any easier. I felt keenly ashamed. My father had said I should be grateful I was considered educated enough to be find a position but I only felt the stigma of having to earn a living. If he had been more careful with his money, we would have had enough to manage, but since some of Uncle James' investments had proved unwise, he had scarcely left enough to keep Shibden in the family. Marian, the foolish girl, still hoped to find a husband but for now was dependent on the family. Having no such hope or desire for myself, I had to contribute to the family's finances by some means or other. When Aunt Ann had heard her neighbours the Walkers were looking for a governess for their youngest daughter, she had immediately suggested me & I could scarcely refuse.

Bundled up several books I considered of potential interest to a 18-year-old girl & left for Crow Nest at 8. My trunk to be brought later on by Booth. En route, reflected on my new position. I had met Miss Ann Walker but once, a year ago & she had seemed to me extraordinarily stupid & vulgar. I had little hope for her brain. Arrived at Crow Nest at 8.30.

I knocked & was led first to the room I would occupied & then to the drawing-room by the butler.

"Mrs Walker." I bowed stiffly, reluctant even to acknowledge with that small gesture the inferiority of my current position. A Lister of Shibden Hall should not have to be subservient to a family that had made its fortune by trade.

"Miss Lister. My daughter will join us shortly. I trust you will find your accommodation satisfactory."

"Thank you, Mrs Walker. The room is perfectly adequate for my needs."

I could not bring myself to say more. The room was indeed adequate, and suitable for someone who would be little more than a servant in the household. Shibden Hall may be shabbier and more draughty than Crow Nest but I already missed my room there.

A young woman burst into the room and stumbled awkwardly on the carpet as she dipped into a curtsey. So this was my new charge. She had changed from the last time I had seen her and although there was no mistaken a certain gaucherie, the girl had a kind of coltish grace I did not find displeasing.

"Miss Walker."

"Miss Lister."

Huge nutty-brown eyes stared at me almost fearfully and for the first time I regretted my outfit. I knew my attire was not very ladylike and gave me a stern and imposing appearance. It usually served me well but I had no wish to frighten the poor girl out of her wits. We were speedily dismissed by Mrs Walker and I was taken to the schoolroom by my new charge. The room appeared comfortable enough and the fire in the hearth burned brightly. I decided it would be as well for me to get an idea of what Miss Walker knew in terms of academic subjects. I had already planned on a course of study but I feared it might be over-ambitious. Two hours later, I decided I would have to amend my planned curriculum. Although Miss Walker appeared proficient enough in botany and astronomy, could do pretty sketches and play the piano most pleasingly, she had no notions of natural philosophy, geometry or classical languages. She also seemed exhausted after two hours of what I thought had been gentle enough questions. I was myself eager to get out of the schoolroom and suggested we go for a walk. I was not used to being confined in a room and would welcome a little exercise.

As we walked in the garden, I told her about one of the latest books I had read by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a treaty on education entitled L'Emile. She had not yet spoken much and I was beginning to think that she was as stupid as I had feared but as I expounded on Rousseau's theory I was surprised by her remarks, quite relevant and thoughtful. After our walk, we had tea in the drawing-room.

"Do you – do you like travelling, Miss Lister?"

"I live for travelling, Miss Walker – I find nothing more pleasant than discovering new places and seeing new horizons."

"You talk as if you had had the chance to see many…"

"Not quite enough but I have visited France several times and have been to Switzerland and Italy. I wish to go further, though – all the way to Russia…"

I sighed – the good friends who had made it possible for me to go abroad would not always be there to finance my travels and I might be stuck in England for the foreseeable future. Or maybe I could convince the Walkers to let me take their daughter abroad and pay for the expense? She might make a tolerable companion.

"I am afraid you will find it very dull here, Miss Lister – you will find me very dull."

"Since I have no choice in the matter, I shall have to make the best of it."

Seeing her wince, I immediately regretted the sharpness of my words but the damage had been done. Even though I tried, she retreated into her shell and any signs of curiosity and eagerness vanished for the time being.

I hated dinner as much as I had thought I would. I was not used to remain silent and keep my opinions to myself, but it was obvious from my place at the table that a governess had no business participating in the conversation. When Mr Walker and one of his guests began to discuss the topic of suffrage I could not help myself and made what I thought was a well-informed and interesting remark. The silence that ensued made me blush and tears came into my eyes. I wished I could have eaten in my room, solitude would have been less humiliating than public and silent rebuff.

Wept in my room last night. Wished I had been at Shibden with Aunt Ann. Could not see happiness in my future at all. Felt so lonesome I could not sleep & longed for the comfort of a companion. M- played a cruel trick on me when she married C- & I do not think I will ever get over it. My soul cries out for a mate & although this journal brings me much solace it does not replace a human being. God have mercy on me & give me strength!

Crow Nest, September 13th , 1821

Washed & dressed by 7.15. Weather overcast & temp. down. Breakfast – eggs, a bun, cup of tea. Miss Walker looking quite pretty this morning – a little colour in her cheeks. We spent three hours in the schoolroom from 9.30 to 12.30 where I proceeded to instruct her on the classification of species of the animal world. She has proven herself to be an eager student when the topic interests her & I am finding teaching her less tedious than I had feared. I have also arranged to take my meals either on my own or with her & the arrangement suits me better. I have written to my aunt to reassure her. I now accept my fate much more cheerfully & have apologised for not having shown more gratitude to her when she had told me she had made the arrangement with the Walkers. Miss Walker is far less disagreeable than I remembered & we get on fairly well together.

Miss Walker seemed to like hearing about my travels – she had confessed she would love to go abroad but her parents thought her too young and sickly to leave England. I entertained her with tales of Paris – how my aunt and I had gone to the Jardin des Plantes, to the Comédie Française and to Versailles. I told her how different French fashion was from the British one – how much more risqué some of the dresses were. I had no interest in fashion unless it was to see a pleasant décolleté on a beautiful woman but it seemed to fascinate her. As we were talking, I came to mention my interest in human anatomy & how I had performed dissections in Paris.

"I dissected a baby once…"


"Oh – it was dead, of course – I would not have done it on a live one. Well – of course you know that. It was very tiny but amazingly well-formed. The mothers who cannot afford to bury their children usually sell the corpses, you know. Especially those who find themselves in a delicate condition without a husband. It was fascinating – one could see everything- we separated the flesh from the bones, using the finest bistoury available, and then we examined the interior of the skull in the most precise details: the arteries – the supraorbital artery and the trochlear artery – and the trigeminal nerve . The brain is the most interesting thing, do you know, Miss Walker? It looks like a messy mass of knotted matter and yet is the source of it all … Good Lord! I have shocked you, Miss Walker."

She had gone deathly white and I cursed my enthusiasm.

"No – no, of course you have not – it is…. I think – lunch disagreed with me…"

She fled from the room and I broke the ivory paperknife I had been fiddling with. Not only had I been clumsy with my words but I had been with my hands, too. Miss Walker had told me it had been a present from her cousin, and no doubt it had value for her. I left the broken parts on the table and went in search of my charge. I found her in the water-closet, bent over the toilet basin. She retched and I held her hair back, gently gathering the chestnut mass in my hands. Her stomach was soon empty and I helped her to her room and onto her bed. I ordered her maid to get her a wet cloth and a robe. When the maid brought both, I shooed her out and started to unlace Miss Walker's stays. She let herself be undressed as if she was a ragdoll. I had not expected my body to react to seeing her milky skin exposed, nor my fingers to trace her collarbone as if she had been a delicate piece of rare china. This was folly – I needed this position and I could not let my desires rule my head. Miss Walker was my charge and twelve years younger than I. She was innocent in matters of the flesh and I could not afford a scandal. And yet my fingers played a tune of their own on her body and I did not stop them. My lips brushed against her hair and descended to her cheek. I felt her breasts harden and I had to tear myself off her not to touch them. I managed to finish stripping her down to her chemise without further attentions to her body and to help her into her dressing gown. She shivered and I told her to get some rest – I would come back to see how she was later. She clung at me and begged me to stay and I could not refuse her. I dropped a chaste kiss on her wrist and settled on an armchair in a corner of the room, not trusting myself to stay too close to the bed but unwilling to leave her. What had I done? What was I going to do?

Crow Nest, September 14th , 1821

Another short & restless night – woke up several times from nightmares where I found myself thrown out by Miss Walker's father, on the streets & shunned by society. I know well enough what the world thinks & I am in no doubt of what people say about me. I cannot help being myself & would not be true to my nature if I were to entertain any other affections than those towards members of my sex, but many would deem my conduct immoral & sinful. I am supposed to educate Miss Walker in all things academic & set a good example in terms of modest & moral behaviour & cannot allow myself to yield to temptation. I am not ashamed of who I am but I must keep my good character to keep my employment. I would throw myself on Miss Walker's mercy & beg she would not tell her parents.

I took a deep breath & went down to the breakfast room.

"Miss Walker - have you slept well?

"Very well, thank you, Miss Lister.''

I noticed the colour had come back into her cheeks and she was eating her toast with appetite. I was not looking forward to the conversation we would have to have shortly and had to force myself to have some toast and tea.

"Would you come and ride with me, Miss Lister?"

"If you wish."

She did not seem too upset with me but I still felt uneasy. Miss Walker was not Mariana or Tib. She was young and had been sheltered from the world. I had no reason to think my attentions had been welcome and although she had not pushed me away she had not responded in any way. I had seen her look at me sometimes and fancied she had done so with fondness and maybe a little admiration but this might be my imagination. A ride would postpone awkward explanations and I was thankful for the respite.

All too soon I found myself en tête-à-tête again with her in the schoolroom. The broken pieces of the paperknife had remained on the table and I started with the easiest apology: "Miss Walker – I am afraid I clumsily broke something of yours – something of personal value. I sincerely apologize and will of course attempt to make it up to you, although I am well aware that nothing I could possibly give you could hold the same attraction than the original object given to you by your cousin…"

Her eyes on me were kind and her words even kinder: "I would cherish anything you would give me, Miss Lister, quite as much as what Catherine gave to me and probably much more. But you do not have to give me anything – truly, I have other paperknives, so unless you plan to break them all…"

I blushed and assured her I was not planning on it. I swallowed hard and took a deep breath, preparing myself for the harder apology. I got up and went to kneel beside her, taking her hand in mine to give me strength: "Miss Walker – I have another apology to make. First… I am deeply sorry for what I said yesterday about my… experiment in Paris. I was thoughtless and did not realise it would upset you so much. This is entirely my fault and I promise you it will never happen again."

"You should not blame yourself, Miss Lister – I am too delicate for my own good. Please forget it."

I swallowed again and looked down: "Thank you. There is – something else. Yesterday… In the bedroom…I…overstepped the mark. Grossly. I should never have… Touched you in such an intimate manner. I am truly mortified and I hope you can find in yourself the generosity to forgive me. I am deeply sorry if I have offended you, Miss Walker. If you cannot put this behind us, I shall of course offer my resignation to your parents at once. It would pain me very much to think may have lain myself open to your displeasure – I can only blame the folly of a moment and…" I could not go on as the tears threatened to strangle me. I buried my head in her skirt and remained there like a penitent awaiting divine justice. Since she had remained silent, I held no great hope of her leniency. I would have to go. I would pack and go back home, and then I would have to go away, because I would not outlive such a disgrace….

A gentle hand lifted my chin and a handkerchief dangled before my eyes. "Please do not cry, Miss Lister – you are going to make me cry too. There is nothing to forgive. You took care of me in my hour of need and you comforted me – that is all I remember and all you need to remember too. There is no question of you leaving. For … For the first time in my life I feel I have someone I can talk to, and I do not want to forgo that. I want you to do something for me, though, Miss Lister."

I dabbed at my eyes and swallowed a sob: "Whatever you wish, Miss Walker."

"I want you to call me Ann – at least when it's only the two of us. Mama might not approve."

I nodded: "And will you call me Anne?"

"I will."

My foolishness will have no consequence. I must be careful with my manners lest I should scare her away. I believe she is beginning to like me & surely this is to my advantage.

Crow Nest, September 24th, 1821

A worrisome day today. Booth came with a message from Marian at 9.50. My aunt ill – a fever during the night & very poorly since. Doc. came early this morning & said she could have caught a chill or eaten something that disagreed with her. What a fool – he knows nothing. Marian may have exaggerated but I could not take the risk. Worried all morning & was ill-tempered & short with Ann. I snapped at her so many times that I made her cry. Apologised, of course, but it was not enough & I fear she is still cross with me.

"Ann? Would you mind very much if I went to see my aunt this afternoon? I shall be back before dinner. I have left the Virgile on the table – you can read the first two pages of the second chapter and construe and translate them. If you think that is not enough, I can give you some quadratic equations so… Ann? Ann!"

Good Lord! What had I said now? I grabbed her shawl and followed her out – the foolish girl was going to catch a chill and then I would have two invalids on my hands. If I wanted to be back before dinner, I really ought to leave for Shibden now. I did not care about coming back late, but the Walkers had guests tonight and they had demanded I attended dinner. I had not been made privy to the identity of the guests but the Walkers were after all my employer and I had to try not to antagonise them. It would be poor form not to show up. Actually going to see my aunt was not exactly in the terms of my contract either – I suppose if I had asked permission it would have been gladly given but I could not get used to being accountable for my comings and goings;

I caught up with my charge soon enough – she had not walked far – and thrust the shawl towards her: "Here – please put this on. I do not want you sick."

"Do not pretend that you care about me, Miss Lister! How can you do this?"

"Do what?" I had no idea what she was talking about.

"Abandon me! When you promised you'd take me to your home just four days ago, too!"

Oh...I had not been expecting that. T'was true enough that I had said I would take her to Shibden and introduce her properly to my aunt, my father and Marian, but surely she could see this was not the time. The girl had worked herself up to a ferment and I could not spare time for her hysterics. I could not leave her like that either although part of me wanted to dearly.

"Ann – I am not abandoning you – I am merely going to see my aunt for a very short while because I am worried about her health. I will take you home when they are all well, I promise. Meanwhile, I would like you to go back and try to do some work for me. Can you do that?"

She was clinging to my hand as to a life rack.

"Promise me you'll never abandon me – promise me, Anne!"

I sighed: "Very well – I promise. Now will you do as I've asked?"

Instead of releasing my hand she surprised me by a quick peck on my wrist. When I looked up at her she blushed, let go immediately and fled towards the house.

On the way to Shibden I found myself looking at my wrist and stroking it with my thumb. The girl grew more and more devoted to me as time went by. I had to confess that I myself found myself quite fond of her and sometimes wondered whether she would make me a suitable companion. She was affectionate enough and could still be moulded to my desires... Who was I fooling? I had nothing to offer her. Her parents would find her a good match and she would grow old with a husband and a bunch of children and grandchildren. I quickened my pace to get rid of the harebrained notions in my head.

I found my aunt in much better health than expected. She said it had only been a bad bout of indigestion. I knew the doctor was a fool and Marian has no judgement for such things. I stayed a while and read aloud to my aunt. We both got engrossed in the story and I did not notice the night falling. When I took my leave, it was already dark outside. And half an hour before dinner time at Crow Nest. I decided to take a short cut through the fields.

Thoroughly horrible day. The news – fake – about my aunt, causing me unnecessary distress. The row with Ann. Another row with Marian about how she should not have sent Booth with such a vague message today. And to crown it all, a most disagreeable evening. Fell in a poacher's trap when taking the short cut. Was lucky I did not injure myself but arrived at Crow Nest after the first course, thoroughly dishevelled. I decided it would be better to go directly to the dining room than to be even later. When I arrived, found everyone at the table – which I had expected. I went directly to Mrs Walker & bowed & began to apologise. Then I noticed the guests were the Earl and Countess of Carlisle & they were looking at me as if I was a lunatic escaped from the asylum. Utterly mortified, I curtseyed to them too & escaped in the most dignified way I could muster. A- came to my room after dinner. I did not let her in. She said she had not seen anything funnier than my face in a long time. Have to admit I looked a sight – mud on my face & clothes, hair in disarray. Never again. I must pay more attention to my appearance & take care to look respectable at all times.

Crow Nest, September 25th, 1821

Was called by Mrs Walker to the drawing-room this morning. Very disappointed in me. Said she had only taken me on because of my family's respectability & my aunt's assurance that I would do my best for her daughter. That she had thought that knowing my aunt I would be of good breeding & well-mannered. That she had overlooked the derogatory comments about my mannish appearance & my oddity as she had though my company could be beneficial to Ann but she was beginning to think otherwise. She had no wish of having a hoyden in her household. She lectured me for near to 30 minutes & I felt thoroughly chastised. I apologised as meekly as I could & assured her I would in future behave like a lady. Said it was only my eagerness that had led me to appear in the dining-room without having changed. That I would not have shamed her in front of her guests for the world. That I would amend my ways & she would find me the perfect mentor for her daughter. Apologised again & said I was most grateful for the position & wanted nothing more than to remain.

Had to retire to my room for 45 minutes afterwards before I could face anyone. The implication that I was not well-bred & a credit to my family cut deep. I had been berated before for my clothes, my attention to the ladies & my gentleman-like manners but not for my lack of civility. Splashed some water on my face to compose myself before I went to the schoolroom. Decided not to have breakfast for I feared food would choke me.

I asked Ann why she had not done any work yesterday and she said without me she had no appetite for Latin. I decided we would work on something else today – a poem by Lucretius I hoped she would find more to her liking. The volume had arrived at Shibden during my absence and I had found it yesterday. I should not spend so much on books but they bring me such comfort it is not an easy sacrifice to make.

"So... What do you make of this, Ann?

Sed fugitare decet simulacra, et pabula amoris
absterrere sibi, atque alio convertere mentem,
et iacere umorem collectum in corpora quaeque
nec retinere, semel conversum unius amore,
et servare sibi curam certumque dolorem.
Ulcus enim vivescit et inveterascit alendo,
inque dies gliscit furor atque aerumna gravescit,
Nec Veneris fructu caret is qui vitat amorem
sed potius quae sunt sine poena commoda sumit.
Nam certe purast sanis magis inde voluptas
quam miseris. (Lucretius, de rerum natura, IV, 1055-1068)

« Hmm- not much, Anne – you know I do not have your talent for languages. Maybe the last word – it looks like the English one "misery"."

"Indeed it does – good. Now for this one here, at the end of the first verse "amoris" – see how it is repeated here" I showed her the fourth verse. "And here… » I showed her the eleventh verse. I was standing behind her and just could not resist caressing her nape with my other hand – the escaping blonde ringlet straying on it was all too endearing…

"Anne! You are distracting me…"

« Am I ? I am sorry – I will not do it anymore. So … Amoris, amore, amorem.. You know enough French to guess, Ann… »

« Hmm – amor … Amour »

She blushed. « Could it mean « love »? »

« Well done! I shall help you with the translation: These mockeries of love must be avoided, one has to push away everything that feeds passion. One has to distract one's mind, it is better to throw the sap amassed in us in the first body available than to keep it for the one who from an exclusive passion will bring us worries and torments… Love is an abscess which when fed kindles and festers; it is a frenzy that grows with every day. Nor is he who shuns love without the fruits of Venus, but rather enjoys those blessings which are without any pain: doubtless the pleasure from such things is more unalloyed for the healthy-minded than for the love-sick."

"Oh – oh I see – do you really believe that is true, Anne? I have always imagined love to be…A kind of wondrous state…Where you lose yourself so deliciously, so completely in… In passion that you have no care for anything else in the world…Where you can admire and desire and respect the object of your love so deeply and so reverently that…That you wish for nothing else."

"You have read too many of Mrs Burney's novels, my dear… You forget other cautionary tales – you forget Heloise and Abelard… Romeo and Juliette… Love is not always kind – love hurts, I believe, most of the times, especially when one loves too much and the other too little."

My thought went to Mary. She had been married for five years last week, and still she remained in my thoughts and my heart like an anchor – both securing me and shackling me in equal measures. Have I loved her too much? Do I still? I have very probably and I do. Will she ever be mine? The last time we had seen each other she had promised to take the sacrament with me and yet with her being married I do not know whether that would make matters better. She has left me a nasty present the last time we connected and I fear I shall not get rid of it easily... So if I did not echo the poet wholly, I did share some of his concerns.

"Have you – have you ever fallen in love, Anne?"

I nodded and added softly "And my heart got broken in reward..."

"Oh, Anne..."

Ann came closer and took my hand, leaning on my shoulder. She appeared genuinely distressed by my statement. I leant against her too, taking comfort in her presence and wondering once again if something could develop between us. Could I be worthy of her desire and admiration? Could she become my companion? I kissed her hair and she snuggled closer, and we remained there for a while in silence, lost in thought.

Crow Nest, October 3rd , 1821

Had a letter from Tib this morning. She suggested she comes to Shibden Hall to stay for a few days on her way to York. I wrote back immediately saying I would be pleased to see her. Although her manners do not suit me, she is still a very good friend. I am due some time off & will remain with her for five days. Aunt Anne will no doubt be glad to have me at home for a while & my mind will be free to ponder my current predicament. M- wants me but is not free & although she says she is my faithful & devoted wife, I fancy she has no idea of how much knowing she is with C- hurts me. I still want her but I find myself more & more intrigued by A- I find her loyal & affectionate towards me in ways I had not envisaged.

Shibden Hall, October 10th , 1821

Arrived home early this morning, in time for breakfast. Marian in a huff because I had not told her I would. She says I always disrupt the household. Not here for one hour & already in an argument... Tib is due to arrive this evening. I am in two minds about her coming. My aunt is glad to see me but I already feel stifled here. At least I am my own mistress & free to do as I like, whatever Marian may think. A- very displeased by my departure. Cried & sulked all evening yesterday. I fancy she is more attached to me than I to her. I left her a course of study she may or may not follow & offered to visit but she said not to bother & I shall not impose. In the words of J. Howell, "Distance sometimes endears friendship, and absence sweetens it." 

This afternoon, went for a walk – I have missed going about as I please, since A- prefers riding to walking & cannot match my pace. Tib arrived at 6, in time for dinner. Long conversation with her afterwards. She cannot understand why I subject myself to working as little more than a domestic & I cannot make her see that I would feel like I was living from charity if I did not. I told her the work was not as disagreeable as she thought & that Miss Walker was not as vulgar & silly as I had first believed. Went to bed at 11.

Shibden Hall, October 11th , 1821

Two kisses last night but I could not find pleasure in them as before. Tib had drunk much during dinner & her breath reeked of liquor & snuff. Cannot abide those habits of hers. Have told her so repeatedly but she says she cannot do without spirit or snuff. I feel a little bilious this morning, as if I had drunk & smoked myself. Tea & dry toast for breakfast to settle my bowels. Also, noticed a lot of discharge this morning & itchy & sore. Neither the pulvis cubebs not the lotion much good. Should have told Tib about me possibly have a venereal complaint, but 'tis too late now. Quite remorseful – hope I have not infected her.

We had a long discussion again after breakfast. She said I had grown tired of her & I assured her this was not true but I fear I said that more to please her than to tell the whole truth. She thought it was because of M- that I could not be satisfied with her anymore, that I was too whole to have two people in my mind & heart & that I could do the deed but not enjoy it as much if my heart wasn't wholly devoted to the other. I decided I would try to unburden my mind to her. I asked her to walk down to Halifax with me – I find that I often find righter words when walking – it clears my mind like nothing else.

"Is there anything special you want in Halifax, Anne? You are walking like a pack of wolves is in pursuit."

"Oh – I did not notice – I shall slow down."

In truth, as well as indulging in wine, Tib had developed a sweet tooth as well and the results of her excess were showing round her waist and probably on her knees as well. I did not remember her walking so slowly before. I did, however, adjust my pace to hers.

"As for your question, Tib – yes, I would like to purchase a prayer book. I shall call at Whitley's first, and then Edwards if I cannot find anything suitable."

"A prayer book? Anne, I thought you had dozens of them already."

I blushed slightly: "It is not for me – it is – for a friend…I broke something of hers and I thought – it would make a pleasant gift. She is – very religious."

"A friend – who?"

"Well – not really a friend…For Miss Walker."

"You want to buy a prayer book for your pupil?"

She looked at me strangely and I stared right into her eyes: "I do – why not? And she is not exactly my "pupil" – she is, as I said, becoming a – a friend."

"No reason why not but…The lady does protest too much, methinks, Anne. Tell me the truth – you are becoming attached to this child…"

"She is not a child – she is soon to be nineteen years old – not exactly a child."

"Maybe – but in experience and compared to you, she is. Can you really tell me otherwise?"

Tib had the very disagreeable knack of always touching raw nerves. The question of the age difference between Miss Walker and I had been playing on my mind ever since I had realised we might be more suited than I had first thought. Moreover, in the eyes of the law she was indeed still a child depending on her parents. I did not want those mere trivialities to be a hindrance, however.

"We were all children once, Tib…"

"Did you bed her?"


"Well – I know you, Anne – it is a reasonable question."

"I did not."

As I answered her, I felt myself reddened and prayed Tib would attribute my flush to exertion. Of course we had done nothing together, but I could not say in truth that I had not imagined us lying together. We had gone no further than chaste kisses and a few caresses but Ann had not seemed averse to my affections and… Well, I might have incurred a cross or two thinking of her.

"So she is the reason you were not more enthusiastic with the erotics last night…Not Mariana. I am loosing you to a green damsel of no particular charm or talent."

"You cannot say that about someone you do not know – Miss Walker is charming, unaffected, and has many good qualities."

Should not have said anything to Tib. Arrived in Halifax in bad humour & much over-heated, though the weather was cold & wintry. Found a leather-bound book of common prayers at Edwards & purchased it – 2£ - steep but I think it suits my purpose well. A- should be pleased. Tib was fidgety & impatient & I said she had no need to wait for me but she said she had nothing else to do. Dinner quite dull & food insipid – veal cutlets, almost cold & potatoes, over-boiled. Tib had several glasses of wine as usual & seems at odds with me. Tried to kiss her afterwards but she said she was tired & not in the mood for amoroso. I retired to my room & read the letter I received from M- this morning. She writes of C- 's jealousy but also of hers on Tib's visit. She repeats that she loves me & I am her husband but what good is it to me to be hers in name only for shorts bouts of time, whenever C- can spare her? Nothing good can come of it, I am more & more sure. Tib joined me in my room & immediately went to bed & feigned sleep. In truth, I do not know whether I would have wanted us connected tonight. She seems to have found our conversation about Miss Walker vexing for some reason. I fancy she may be jealous of A- now or she wants to keep me from making a fool of myself. I will have to see what happens when I go back to Crow Nest. Maybe I am delusional to think A- could ever love me. Feeling very low tonight – I am beginning to think I may have to spend my life alone & it is a sad prospect. M- is not mine, Tib does not suit me & A-… is indeed not of age & maybe too young in mind to know what she wants. In the words of Catullus, "Difficile est longum subito deponere amorem" – it is indeed difficult to relinquish a long-held love in a moment & I shall not ever forget M-. But I have loved her too long & can see no happy ending to our story – were C- to die, would she come to me? I have no fortune & nothing to offer her. Tib wants me – or wanted me – to live with her – but there is Charlotte & I would not be mistress in my own home. Ann…She might be my future & yet I fear to frighten her with my eagerness. I must tread with caution.

Crow Nest, October 16th , 1821

Tib left this morning 11.15. Came back to Crow Nest 1.40. A- was in the drawing-room. She ran into my arms when I came into the room. Immediately noticed a bandage on her wrist. She said she had broken a glass & hurt herself. Insisted on us sitting down on the sofa & seeing the wound. She demurred but durst not resist me. Several cuts, quite deep – more than 2.5 inches long & a bigger gash. Could not have come from broken glass. "Did you do these to yourself?" I asked. "I did not", said she. "I do not believe you, Ann," said I. Finally she confessed & said she had been so miserable without me she had done it on purpose. Said she needed to feel & since she could not feel happy pain would help her. "Did you intend to kill yourself?" I asked. Upon which she cried & said she had not – that was a sin. She owned that she had missed me desperately & had for a moment taken leave of her senses & when she had seen the blood, felt such elation as to want it to flow more & more. Her maid had found her & told her mother, who had acted as if the whole thing was an unfortunate accident. There is none so deaf as will not hear. I consoled her as best as could & insisted on cleaning the gashes again with soap & vinegar to prevent infection & put a fresh bandage on. Made her promise on the Bible she would not do anything so foolish again. She said she promised me she would not as long as I did not leave her again. The girl worries me. Spent the afternoon reading aloud from Adam Blair & playing cards. Feeling heavy tonight. Still cannot believe A- would go to such extremities. I do not want her to be dependent on me. My aunt told me A- may not mens sana & I did not believe her but now it seems that I may have been mistaken. Worried about my reaction to it too. I staid [sic] very cool & collected but inside felt such anger that I could have broken a glass or two myself. I am beginning to think that A- would be much happier far away from her family & why not with me. Her parents treat her like a small child & she has so many relatives the house is never without one or two of them & none seem to really care for her as I do. I confess I have missed her a great deal those last few days. Tomorrow I shall give her the prayer book. I would have given it today but the wounds threw me & the moment passed. Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Crow Nest, October 17th, 1821

Feeling languid & dullish this morning after a bad night. Terrible headache & a little nauseous. Could not sleep & pondered my situation all night. I cannot offer anything to A- since I have no money to call my own. Having to rely on her parents for my salary burdens me greatly. I ought to apply myself to writing & having the result printed. Maybe a book on my travels. Or a treaty on the human body & its ailments & oddities – although I have not had any formal medical instruction I daresay I would do quite well with it. If only I had £200 a year to myself I would not feel so pressed for money always & could envisage setting up a home with someone. How hard it is to make plans when one must depend on the charity of others!

Am also greatly concerned about A-'s state of mind. I would like her to see Dr. Belcombe in York. I wonder if her parents would agree. I cannot allow myself to care for someone who might not be of sound mind & yet I believe her frailty in that matter is only a consequence of her circumstances & not an inborn concern. Time will tell.

Crow Nest, November 20th, 1821

Terribly chilly today. Fewer draughts here than at Shibden but still cold. Barometer at changeable. F 41 at 7am. We came back from York yesterday evening, late due to a dense fog on the way. Dr. Belcombe agrees with me that not much wrong with A- except a tendency to melancholia. He advises an opiate tonic at certain times of the month & told me the best thing for her would be to travel & discover new horizons. I shall endeavour to convince her parents to let her come with me abroad – maybe to Italy or to Paris. She is more & more attached to me & I to her. Had a letter from M- today. She assures me of her complete loyalty & love & I cannot help but think it is a great pity she chose the comfort of money & reputation over love. I cannot help loving her still, either, though I confess, less than before. My feelings all out of kilter at the moment. More & more affectionate in my manner towards A- & she towards me but I can see no happy outcome.

Guests for dinner tonight – friends of Mr. Walker. Mr. Coulson & his wife have just come back from America & they brought many interesting tales. We talked about women's education & the new & first women's college opened there this year – they have six daughters! Two of them came with them. The eldest, Sarah, looks stupid & vulgar, with a dumpy figure. The other one, Jane is less plain & has a much nicer figure with a full bosom & a piexish face. Mrs. Walker said she is glad there is no such thing as ladies' colleges in England yet. She thinks like most people that a girl's place is at home with her parents. I cannot completely disagree – I remember miserable years at Ripon, but then I was only seven. It is a different matter when we are talking about girls out of the schoolroom. Some women are not & never will be strong enough for mental exertion but it would be folly to dismiss all women as incapable of intellectual pursuits. There is no physical proof that women who do not bear children end up sick & degenerate, nor that they are more feeble-minded or fickle than men. I may have expressed my opinion too forcefully & now regret it but I so seldom have the opportunity to express my own mind in the company of intelligent people nowadays that I could not help it. After dinner A- said I should not have said so much & her parents – her mother at least, her father seemed to agree with me – would think my progressive ideas dangerous. "Do you agree with me, Ann?" I asked. "I would not like to turn into a bluestocking, but I often find myself very stupid when I talk with you, Anne" was her reply. I said I thought her quite clever & would not have her any other way. I would not be without my books & my knowledge although they sometimes make me more of an oddity than I already am. Went to A-'s room to talk after everyone had left – one of the only rooms with a decent fire in the evenings. We had a good chit-chat. She sat very close to me & we held hands although I made no attempt of putting my hands up her petticoats I caressed & pressed her legs a little. I kissed her throat too & almost her lips. Maybe I had too much wine at dinner & it went to my head. Went to bed heated & incurred two crosses thinking of A-. God have mercy on me and keep me from loving another unattainable woman!

Shibden Hall, December 1st, 1821

Arrived at Shibden for breakfast at 11. Mrs Walker & A- paid a visit to my aunt this afternoon. Felt ashamed about the shabbiness of Shibden compared to Crow Nest. Also poor quality of tea – stewed & the cakes heavy & too sweet. My father slurping his tea. Marian prattling foolishly about things she does not understand. I cannot stand the vulgarity of their manners. My poor aunt, having to live with them. A- does not seem bothered, nor her mother but I am. They left at 6. Am staying for two days. Made A- promise not to do anything silly while I'm gone. Told her I would be thinking of her & left her books & work to prepare. Have tried to talk to her mother about taking A- to France in the new year – Paris & then Vichy to take the waters. She said neither yes nor no. We could take Cordingley with us & stay at Madame de Boyve. Would not cost too much. Feeling cold & desperately low tonight. Talked to my aunt about my plans & she said A- seems infatuated with me but she is young. Her family would never allow it. Aunt Anne wishes nothing more than my happiness but she does not want me to hope without cause. I know that but cannot get her out of my mind. If only we could be together alone, without her relatives or mine... Life passes me by in a series of unfortunate doomed encounters & soon I shall be too old & the dreary burden of loneliness shall fall upon me for the rest of my life. How desolate is the state of one who longs for companionship & cannot find it. Yet here I am on the cusp of potential happiness with a kindred spirit & the rest of the world conspire to doom our relationship.

Crow Nest, December 31st, 1821

Another year over & nothing much to show for myself. The little money I have made I tried to give to my aunt but she said to keep it for myself. I feel both ashamed of the smallness of the amount & glad I shall have it to spend but I wish I had earned it with my pen instead. Being little more than a domestic does not sit well with me & if I did not need the income I would have given notice. Seeing A- every day & knowing she is out of reach gives me more pain than pleasure & if only I could escape abroad I would.

Crow Nest, January 10th, 1822

Was called into the drawing-room by Mrs Walker this morning at 11.15. She said she & her husband agree A- would benefit from a change of air. They suggested Brighton. I argued for Vichy. Said the Marquise de Sévigné had written much about the waters there & how they were of great help to her. Explained the thermal baths had just been rebuilt in the most agreeable way & several French aristocrats frequented the place, including the Duchesse d'Angoulême. Finally managed to convince her & the Walkers will pay for suitable accommodation & carriages. Progress at last – I cannot wait! Not till spring though. She also told me A- is to go & visit with her friend Mrs Ainsworth for a month. I am not to accompany her there. Hopefully I can use that time wisely to go on with my own studies & start writing in a view to be published.

Shibden Hall, January 20th, 1822

Staid in bed until 9 this morning & feel all the worse for having wasted so much time. Must apply myself more diligently to my studies & not yield to the temptation of idleness. Joined my aunt, my father & Marian for breakfast at 10 after writing in this journal. They have no conversation other than gossiping about local affairs. Read about Mrs Fry & her Society for the Reformation of Female Prisoners in the newspaper. An interesting endeavour but in my view doomed to failure for most of them. Did some mending from 10.45 to 11.15 & then Greek – the Poetics, Aristotle from 11.15 to 3.30. Then straight to the library in Halifax – staid until 5. Diner soon after 7.

Shibden Hall, January 21st, 1822

Got 2 letters this morning – one from M- & one from A-. M- is coming to see Steph & asks if she can stop here for 2 nights. Says she cannot wait to see me. She misses me very much. No one is as dear to her as I am. I am in two minds about her. I do want to see her but is it not better not to prolong the agony of an impossible situation? When we are together I believe anew that we can have a future together & when she leaves I find myself a thousand times more bereft each time. Wrote back by return to say that of course she can come & I shall be delighted to see her – my heart is convinced of it & jumps at the thought whereas my head is more circumspect & wary. A- writes she misses me very much & cannot enjoy the company of her friend Mrs Ainsworth as much as usual. Marriage has changed her apparently – she is no longer the gay companion she used to be. A- says she compares her current entourage to me & find them bland & uninteresting. She says she misses my wit & that even though she feels stupidish when talking to me she much prefers that to being bored. She does not mention Mr Ainsworth much. He is apparently much younger than his wife and not very clever. A- says theirs was a love match, very quickly made. Maybe as the saying goes theirs' a case of marry in haste, repent at leisure. Her admiration for me in that letter is quite clear – I believe she esteems me & dare I say, loves me a little. She is coming back in 9 days & I shall be glad to see her, although it will mean leaving my home again & go back to servitude.

Shibden Hall, January 28th, 1822

M- arrived this morning with her maid. We walked this afternoon to Highcroyd Farm. Saw M. Biggs, the new tenant, about his roof & agreed to pay for half if he does the work efficiently & promptly. Had a long conversation about my expectations, hers, her life, my life, my failings & her opinion of me.

"You seem quite taken by your little pupil, Anne. From what you told me about her, I would not have thought she was your type."

The tone was waspish in the extreme and I suddenly snapped: "Jealousy does not suit you, Mary – Miss Walker is at least free of marital bounds. You know full well I have loved you deeply and unwaveringly, and you repaid my affections by selling yourself to a man for a carriage and financial bounties I would never have been able to offer you. You took the sacrament with me and swore to be faithful to another – you agreed to be my wife and yet you sleep in another's bed – how can that be, Mariana? How do you think that makes me feel? Did you even consider for one second that I could and would be hurt by your actions? But then, you never did, did you? When you said my appearance and my clothes shamed you, when you reproached me my uncouth behaviour – you never thought your words could possibly wound me!"

By the time I had finished my tirade I was near tears and Mariana was crying. I do not know why I lashed out at her in such a vehement way but seeing her both saddens and frustrates me more than pleases me. To have her with me and to know she is not mine is too much to bear and my soul rebels in anger at the unfairness of the situation. I took her in my arms and held her close and we comforted each other. She wept on my shoulder and repeated again and again that she was sorry and that she loved me more than life itself. By the time we had both calmed down, dusk was falling and we walked back to Shibden. A pretty sight we must have made – both of us dishevelled and tear-streaked. Mariana managed to get upstairs unseen but I paused to give the cook instructions for supper and encountered my aunt on the stairs. She immediately noticed my emotional state and beckoned me back to her bedroom. Poor Aunt Anne – my burdens are my own to bear and I do not want to distress her. I tried my best to hide my sorrow but to no avail – my aunt knows me too well. Soon the tears welled up again and I poured my heart out to her. She knows how attached I am to Mariana and has guessed that I am not immune to Miss Walker's charms either. She wants my happiness above all but understands full well how arduous my path is and urges me to be cautious. She says she regrets having suggested me as Miss Walker's governess, for she feels responsible for my current predicament. I assured her Miss Walker and I would have met eventually and fate, not human choices, was responsible for the path of love. And alas, my love is like the poet's, "of a birth as rare, As 'tis for object strange and high; It was begotten by Despair, Upon Impossibility." Nowadays, fortune and rank decide of matters of the heart where only sentiment should, and I have none to speak of. I composed myself as best as I could before joining Mariana in my room.

After dinner, long talk with M-. She would not want to stand in the way of my happiness but cannot see a connection between A- & I. Her parents & my lack of assets will stand in the way. I should resign & go abroad, or seek a new position elsewhere. She apologised again for everything she said about my behaviour or my attire & I believe she is truly sorry, but I began to remember all her remarks & to hurt all over again. Also remembered M. Diderot's words "On n'a tant d'indulgence que quand on n'a plus d'amour" – alas – I can only believe M- is becoming more tolerant of my oddities because I am losing her. And though she is Charles' in name & body, I had hoped she was still mind in heart & soul – I was mistaken.

A kiss last night. M- asked for it, I did not & did not enjoy it. Wary about the venereal taint & having worse symptoms. Also still under the effect of our rowe {sic]. Lord have mercy on me, forgive me & guide me!

Crow Nest, February 10th, 1822

Grey & thundery this morning, with heavy fog. Walked back to Crow Nest at 10, George following with my things. Brought some new books for A-. Found her in bed when I arrived at 10.45. She said she has been feeling queasy since she arrived back from the Ainsworths' last night. Offered to bring her some crackers & tea but she said she felt too sick to eat. As we talked, me sitting on the edge of her bed, she retched several times & I thought she would be sick indeed. I asked if she had eaten anything anything odd at her friends & she said no. A very quiet day. A- staid [sic] in bed & slept for most of the time. She is very quiet – subdued. Cannot make her talk about her visit. She said she missed me. Said, likewise. Talked a little about M- visiting me but it seemed to displease her so I stopped. The change of air does not appear to have improved her spirits at all.

Crow Nest, February 11th, 1822

Did not sleep much last night. A- had nightmares & I had to go to her at about 3. She was drenched & shaking & kept saying she was tainted & impure. I could not get her to say more. I held her & caressed her & finally ended up staying the night in her room. She woke up once more during the night & screamed. Went to get her some hot milk & soothed her to sleep again. This morning, I had a headache & felt very much out of sorts & out of patience but I tried to overcome it & to talk with A- about what had happened at the Ainsworths', since her behaviour shows me something must have.

Crow Nest, February 12th, 1822

Breakfast at 10, by myself – tea & toast with bramble jam. A- still not up so went to see her. She told me she didn't feel like getting up but I convinced her fresh air would do her good. Told her to dress warmly & brought her a cup of tea while she was getting ready. Took her for a walk down to St Mary's church. She complained all the way & said it was too cold and wet. It was not – barometer a very little above changeable, F 41°. I ignored her grousing & said she would feel better after a little exercise. When we came back after 2 ½ hours she had a little colour in her cheeks & although she complained I walked too fast, I believe she felt better. She wanted to go back to bed but I told her it would be a pity since she was up & dressed & offered to play mariage with her. She grumbled a little & said yes. Asked the cook to bring up some sandwiches & tea & we spent a quiet afternoon – cards, letter writing etc. I wanted her to talk to me about her visit but she did not seem so inclined so I said nothing & waited.

Finally, as I was writing to Tib, I heard her murmur something.


"Do you ever want to get married, Anne? I don't think I want to – ever!"

"You are young – you may change your mind later."

"I shall not! I would rather live alone and die alone than have to be... To be subjected to – to the – to a man..."

"Do you not want children, Ann?"

"I think I could quite happily live without them – do you want children, Anne?"

"I have never felt that urge, no. It seems to me I am not made for – I am not meant to have them."



I looked at her: she was blushing hard and I told myself I had never seen her look so pretty.

"Have you ever – been with a man?"

Nearly choked on my cup of tea since I had not been expecting such a question from my charge. Tried to get out of answering by saying I had never been married to a man & she should not ask that as it could be taken as impertinent & ill-bred. She then repeated she would never get married to a man – never – because men were indelicate & demanding & brutish. I asked her why she would say that & then it all came out. How Mr Ainsworth had taken advantage of his wife often being unwell to spend time alone with her. How he had kissed her & she had not dared refused him. How he had asked her to yield all – I can scarce write it. The scoundrel! He pretends to be a man of God & yet would inflict himself on an innocent girl! A married man, too, with his wife under the same roof. I could kill him! It is scarcely believable & yet if I had doubted her words, her tears & her demeanour would have told me the truth. She cried in my arms & said now she was tainted – impure. Reassured her as best as I could. Said she had no need to ever get married if she did not want to. Said that some women live together in happy harmony & companionship & it could be as good as a marriage. She has told neither her friend nor her mother – she is ashamed of having sinned, of having been led into temptation by that vile individual. I assured her she was not the sinner but had been sinned against & God would not punish an innocent but she spent the evening praying & reading the Bible & had another agitated night. Once again rued my current station in life & my sex. Would have had no hesitation about challenging the predatory bastard to a duel. Instead, I had only my words to soothe A- & the efficiency of those far from obvious.

Crow Nest, March 4th , 1822

Overcast day but A- insisted on going riding & I had no choice but to go along. Her mood much improved during the days although at night she is still weepish & nervy. Her parents are giving a ball for her to make her debut in two months. They are inviting all the necessary people from around here – an array of nobility & gentry to witness A- making her entry in the world. Soon she will be out of the schoolroom altogether & will have no need for my services anymore. Like the child she can still be at times, she is looking forward to the ball with youthful naivety & bouts of giddy excitation. She has been promised a new dress – all pink satin & white lace. It should suit her splendidly. She forgets – or choose to – that the ultimate purpose of such an event is to find her a suitable match. Or maybe she has already decided that marriage is for her after all. I do not know & I cannot care, for my own sanity of mind. I shall not, of course, attend the ball – a lowly governess has no place in such festivities. No matter that my skin tingles uncomfortably at the thought of A- being ogled & pawed by high-born fops in their best attire. I tell myself she will never be mine & yet cannot bear the thought of her belonging to someone else.

Crow Nest, March 12th, 1822

Windy, blustery day. Feeling out of sorts today – could barely swallow anything at dinner. My back has been troubling me much these last few days & I believe the mattress is the cause of my discomfort. A- has gone riding but I begged off as I feared it would make my backache worse. Sat in the schoolroom with my own Greek books & attempted to catch up on the schedule I had set myself last year. Sorely behind & not a jot more advanced on my writing projects. I may be destined to be a servant all my days after all.

When she came back from her ride A- insisted on trying her new ball gown for me. She asked for my help in tightening her stays since her maid was busy & I obliged as best as I could. My fingers lingered on her soft skin a little longer than necessary & I sighed & told myself it was incredibly unwise to entertain such thoughts as those in my head. My tongue, however, had other ideas & when faced with her creamy white skin & her delicious décolletage, I let out that the dress suited her very well indeed but I would rather see her without all that fabric that with it… She may not have understood my meaning but she blushed & I blushed too & asked her to forgive me for my forwardness. Said I had forgotten myself & would not do so again. She said she would do anything to please me. We are sailing in dangerous waters. She does not understand herself & I must be careful for us both. Amicitia semper prodest, amor et nocet.

Crow Nest, March 20th, 1822

Letter from M- this morning, brought by George from Shibden. Says she missed me as much as always. C- apparently very attentive to her. Wants an heir. She says she wishes she was here with me & asks about Miss Walker. Drafted a reply this afternoon, saying I miss her too. Which may or may not be the truth. As for Miss W- … I am very much afraid she is falling in love with me & I am very much fonder of her than I should. Must admit to myself at least that I flirt shamelessly with her & she responds in kind. She gave me yesterday a handkerchief embroidered with my initials & I thanked her with a kiss that brushed her lips in the most non-innocent way. I cannot help but touch her often when she sits beside me – my hand wanders on her knees & sometimes under her petticoats & since she does not object, I believe she finds it agreeable enough. I forget she is an innocent in those matters & can go further than I ought.

Crow Nest, March 22th, 1822

Had the day off today so walked to Shibden Hall to see my aunt & uncle. The other members of my family vulgar & irksome as always. Marian always grousing about some thing or another. While I was there, got a little brooch in the shape of a gondola I brought back from Europe to give to A- in thanks for the handkerchief. Arrived back at Crow Nest at 9.45. Too late for supper. Asked cook for a little bread & ham & thankfully she obliged. A- insisted on seeing me on my return so I went to her room & gave her the brooch. She seemed very pleased with it & kissed me on both cheeks & I kissed her back & she sat on my knees. Grubbled her a little & after a while said I had to get to my own bed. A- did not want me to leave & said I could maybe spend the night in her bedroom. I said it would not be wise & escaped but regretted it afterwards in my own cold & narrow little bed. Incurred a cross thinking of her. Yet did not enjoy it as much as usual because of M-. Have to remind myself that she was unfaithful to me first by marrying C- . Lord have mercy on me & help me through this!

Crow Nest, March 30th, 1822

Very windy day. Breakfast at 10 – toast almost burnt & very dry. French lesson for A- this morning – she must improve if she ever wants to be comfortable in the country. Hoping the Walkers still agree about us going to Paris & Vichy together. Read & wrote in French for 2 hours before luncheon. Then riding until 4 & stopped for tea at the Priestleys. Very civil to A- & almost to me. I believe Mrs Priestley thinks me odd but not disagreeable. Evening very dark & gloomy – a storm is brewing. A- asked me to sleep in her bedroom & I did not refuse. Dreamt of A- & myself being more than friends.

Crow Nest, April 3th, 1822

A- would do anything to oblige & please me. How foolish am I to know it & enjoy it! I should not be led into temptation, as pretty as she is, nothing can come of it. She sat on my knees this afternoon as we were reading from La Nouvelle Heloise & I grubbled her a little. My hands under her petticoats, etc. She seemed to like it & kissed me full on the lips, mouth slightly open. At dinner tonight, she looked at me once or twice with obvious admiration & dare I say it, love. Her parents did not notice, thankfully. She does not realise what she does. I cannot tell her off, though, for such obvious pleasure at my company. T'was my birthday today – another year passed & nothing much accomplished. Is it my destiny to die alone & without having made anything of my life?

Shibden Hall, April 15th, 1822

Have not written in this journal for 3 days, so ashamed of myself as to be unable of putting on paper what I did & what happened. Should never have let myself be tempted by A- . I knew the risks & yet…Went to church yesterday but did not stay the sacrament. Feel remorse at not having staid [sic] & prayed for forgiveness for that & my sins. May God be merciful & grant me absolution. May He protect A- & give her peace. I do not believe I did her any harm but if I did… Forgive me!

Mrs Walker saw us. She came into the schoolroom & we did not hear her. We were… In a compromising position. There was no hiding it. Even if A-'s clothes in disarray had not let our activities known, the look on our faces would have. She ordered A- to her bedroom & me to the library. Waited there for her for 30 mins. – half-believed she had called the constable to arrest me. Had never felt so nauseous & sick in my life. Finally she came alone. Said she had said nothing to her husband & would say nothing if I went immediately & without fuss. Said she was disgusted & appalled by my conduct. Said she had always defended me in front of others & had never thought me capable of such ills as the rumours accused me of, but she had had proof they were funded. Said she would never have believed me capable of defiling her daughter. I should be ashamed of myself. I was abnormal, a monstrosity of nature, etc. I could say nothing in my defence. Did not want A- to be tarred with the same brush. I would rather her mother blamed me & only me. Could not say I loved her & she me. Just stood there mostly in silence. Just murmured I had committed no crime in the eyes of the law. Mrs W. replied it was a great pity because she would have had me arrested. Said my soul must have become hardened if I could not recognise a crime against God. Since it was late at night, she allowed me to spend the night & said a maid would sleep in A-'s room to ensure I did not go to her. I could hear her crying, though & my heart bled for her. I did not sleep & spent my night praying & reading the Bible to comfort me. Am I so wicked to behave as nature made me? Am I as depraved as Mrs W- implied?

I could not tell my aunt & uncle what had happened – God forgive me for having deceived them. It has been three days & they still think I shall go back after my holiday is over. My heart is bleeding & the lies etch deeper into it. Sent home in disgrace from a servant's position – my shame is complete. I should go abroad & never come back but I fear it would kill my aunt. Have never felt so lost, low & aimless in my life. None has never felt as wretched as I feel now. When I think about A-, the tears flow & I wish I knew how she is. I cannot bear the thought of never seeing her again & yet if I was certain she would be better off without me I would obey the diktat, not without pain but without doubts. I cannot, however, be certain of it & my soul rebels at the injustice of it all.

Shibden Hall, April 16th, 1822

Staid in my room today all day. Cordingley brought me some tea & biscuits but I can barely swallow. Marian came up too – very snidy – wonders what happed at the Walkers – she does not believe I am on a holiday & I cannot force myself to act as if I was. Aunt Anne came up too – she is worried about me – thinks I may have caught some illness or other. I have, but it is not one medicine can cure. I hate to worry her, though & am thinking of confiding in her the real reason for my melancholy. I fear she would be ashamed of me, though, & that would be more than I could bear. Wrote several letters to A- & tore them all afterwards. I do not know what to do.

Shibden Hall, April 18th, 1822

Confessed everything to my aunt this morning – the burden of lying became too great. She consoled me as always – I am very fortunate to have her in my life. The loss of 40£ a year is nothing compared to the shame & dishonour I have brought on the family. If it ever becomes known why I left Crow Nest… I could argue that Miss Walker was as much willing as myself, but that would scarcely make a difference. People talked about me before but this would bring a whole different dimension to the comments.

My aunt just came back to my room – she has heard from the servants A- is being sent to Scotland for an extended stay with her newly married sister. The ball has been cancelled – explanation given being a touch of fever. She is leaving tomorrow morning. I cannot bear not seeing her again.

Shibden Hall, April 18th, 1822

Woke up very early this morning & could not get back to sleep. At 4.30, got up & went down to the kitchen to have a cup of tea. No one about. Washed & got dressed without disturbing anyone & walked to Crow Nest. Arrived there around 6 & hid in the bushes, with a good view of the front porch, where they bring the carriages round. I needed to see her again. Waited until 9.30 – occupying myself with doing my accounts in my head & reciting Latin poetry to myself. Finally, at 9.30, the carriage came round, rigged for a longish journey. A- came out of the house with her maid & her parents. She looked drawn & haggard & I wondered if they had given her laudanum, for she appeared to walk in a haze. They embraced & A- & her maid got into the carriage. The carriage door slammed & it drove away. I managed to remain hidden but for a brief moment I considered throwing myself in the horses' way. Watching her go away almost smote me. My heart is breaking in a thousand little pieces, & I fear some will get lost forever.

Shibden Hall, April 28th, 1822

Dreary, showery, blustery day. Church this morning – 3rd Sunday of Easter. The Collect: "Almighty God, who shewest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness". Am I? Nature & God have made me the way I am & in truth I believe I am not straying from the Lord's path for me, but am I in error? The Epistle also gave me thought, from St Peter 1, 2.11-17. Copying it here in this journal as it spoke to my soul: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him, for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well-doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: as free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness; but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king." I have no liberty but that of my wits, as I have no fortune & I am a woman. 'Tis hard enough to live alone & to depend on the charity of your family, 'tis harder still when one has known bliss for a short while, only to have it stolen away by ignorant & ill-thinking people. I am unhappy – am I unloved? I have no means of knowing but the thought that A- has not forgotten me – may pine for me, even, gives me hope. The idea she may be as desolate & forlorn as I, in the Scottish mists, is however a further torment, for I should be the cause of her wretchedness.

Shibden Hall, April 29th, 1822

Did not sleep much. Staid [sic] awake most of the night dreaming up plans. Got up with head aching & sore eyes. My uncle James sick – feverish & sore throat. Said I would take care of the planting & fencing. Went out to the hayfield at 10 to see to the men there. Not as advanced as I would like to but all seem willing & work well. Then down to Edwin Jones – the yield not as good as the other years – he said he had sold all but 50 strikes of peas. This afternoon, wrote to M- , confessing what happened with A-. Said I was destined to be thwarted in love. Said i had never hoped to find another who would suit me so well & when I had, it was only for her to be snatched away. How lonely I was & how wretched. Alluded to my night plans but without giving her any details – she would try to talk me out of it. Would say it was foolish & foolhardy. Retired to my room 9.10. My uncle no better this evening. May have to call for the doctor tomorrow.

Shibden Hall, May 2nd, 1822

Slept badly last night. Only 3 hours & very fitfully. Tonight is the night – I can wait no longer. Deceit is abhorrent to me & although it had behooved Iphis & Ianthe or Oronce, I had never thought I would have to go to such extremities. Have wept many tears over the last few days about leaving my aunt & uncle so deceitfully but my heart is in Scotland & I cannot live like that anymore. Everything is ready. I shall wait until 3 tomorrow morning & leave. May God forgive me for the pain I shall inflict on my aunt & uncle. I have scarcely repaid their kindness. Would not have taken any money if I had been able to do otherwise. Will send it back as soon as I can. 'Tis fortunate my uncle's affairs have taken an upturn – they will not miss the 11£ I took from the housekeeping money. Still... How low have I fallen – dismissed & sent home in disgrace, & now a thief... If I could have done otherwise I would have, but I see no other way.

If I ever come back, I shall beg for their forgiveness & throw myself on their mercy.

2.50. Time to go. I have hidden my journals & am only bringing this one with me. The thought of never seeing Shibden again tears at my soul. I kissed my aunt goodnight last night with as much tenderness as I could without giving myself away. She has been more of a mother to me than my own & taught me much about love & myself & the word of God. I cannot dally any longer, nor dwell on the past. I am ready.

I added pounce to the page and waited for a few seconds before shutting my journal and slipping it in my bag. Then I looked at myself once more in the mirror. So many people had called me mannish that I had known it would not take much to disguise my femininity altogether. With the breeches and the overcoat, and the boots I favoured anyway, I could pass easily for a man. I had added a little soot to fake a stubble and fancied no one would think me other than who I would pretend to be, a traveller from one of the bookshops in Halifax. I could converse intelligently enough on the book and printing trade. I wished I could have ridden Hotspur but it would have forced me to stop too many times on my way to Ayrshire. The coach was a better option. Once there – well, I would find Ann's sister house and then... I hoped Ann would agree to go away with me. Maybe we could go to Gretna Green and solemnize our union. It was not what I wished for myself, not for her – nature had made me a woman and I wanted to live my life as one, but I would do anything for her. I would find work and hopefully we could make a future together. I glanced around my room one last time and tiptoed out. I durst not light a candle for fear someone may see the light, but I knew the house well, down to every creaky wood slat. Down the corridor, down the stairs... And then ... Furious barking, a scream and I found myself staring down the barrel of my uncle's gun. For a moment I stood there paralysed, in the hall, frozen in disbelief. That darned dog! One of our tenants had given a pup to Marian only a week ago and I had not paid much attention to it, only to demand it did not sleep in the house. She had apparently ignored my wishes and let it stay downstairs. A puny little mongrel, it had a loud bark and had awakened the household. My mind worked frantically – should I try to deceive my uncle? Try to escape, make him think I was a mere intruder, a vagrant intend on robbing the Hall? Alas! In what seemed to me like seconds, Marian and then my aunt appeared on the stairs with candles and my uncle had me trapped between his gun and the wall. My appearance my have fooled strangers, but I had not planned on my own family seeing me in my garb.

"Good Lord! Anne! James – put that gun down! It's Anne!"

When I heard my aunt, I knew it was over, but my throat was so dry I could not speak. Keeping the gun aimed at me, my uncle came closer and knocked my hat of my head, revealing me to the astonished onlookers. Satisfied I was who I was, he lowered the gun, grabbed my arm and shook me. Still in a stupor, I did nothing to defend myself. I deserved it. He then pushed me into an armchair and I collapsed in it, still silent. By that time, Marian and my aunt had come downstairs and were staring at me, Marian in scorn and Aunt Anne in sad bewilderment. I could not pretend I had not been leaving – the bag at my feet betrayed my intention. In my youth, when still leaving with my parents, I had often gone out at night and mingled with unsavoury types. I had longed for freedom from convention and the weigh of family life. My father had whipped me for it and declared me unmanageable. The lash of the whip had caused me less pain than the sorrow I now saw in my aunt's eyes. The purse with the stolen money burnt a hole in my pocket and I could not meet the eyes of my relatives. Thankfully, Marian decided that going to make tea would be more useful than gawking at me. For a wild moment, I imagined confessing and then leaving, with their blessing, but that foolish notion soon passed. It had been hard enough to decide to leave in secret, it was impossible to think of leaving now. I began to shake from nervous tension and dabbed ineffectively at my cheeks to wipe the soot. It took me several minutes to manage to get up and to run back upstairs, where I threw my overcoat on the floor, myself on the bed and wept.

I heard a knock on my door and my aunt came in with a cup of tea. She sat and opened her arms. I sat on the floor at her feet and sobbed in her lap, for lost hopes and shame. Finally, she gently asked the question I did not want to answer: "Why, Anne? Why were you leaving without saying goodbye?" She had no need to ask where I was going to go – she knew me well enough to have guessed I had intended to find Ann. I had no answer for her, and the one I gave, "I did not want to cause you pain", was woefully inadequate, and a lie. My sneaking out in the most cowardly fashion would indeed have caused them much grief. As she held me I confessed everything, except the money.

"I want your happiness, Anne – you know that. But not like that. Don't you remember that woman, who was pilloried at Charing Cross and imprisoned for having impersonated a man and married a woman?"

I cried harder then, because my aunt was right, it was no solution to my problem. I did not want to get married as a man, although I wanted Ann as my wife, and she was hundreds of miles away. I strongly suspected Captain Sutherland, her sister's husband, had been tasked by Ann's parents to find her a husband. She would be lost to me forever then, just like Mariana. I

I could see my aunt was still pale from shock and looked exhausted, and my heart tore knowing I was the cause of her torment. I kissed her and promised her I would not leave, swore it on my Bible. She left my room and I slowly undressed, shedding the masculine clothing I would have burnt if the waste of it had not added to my sins. I was thankful neither Marian nor my uncle had come – I would have to face them tomorrow, and it would be soon enough. I knelt at the foot of my bed and prayed God for mercy and forgiveness, asking him to cleanse my heart and offer me guidance.

Shibden Hall, May 2nd, 1822

Not much sleep last night. Too ashamed of myself & heartsick to find solace in oblivion. Woke up at 7. The whole household still in slumbers. Felt nauseous & headachy, could not eat anything. Remembered the whole sorry tale of the night. Dug this journal out of my bag & started to write in it. Then read from Rousseau – Les Confessions- for 2 hours. Could not face my family. Went down for dinner & sat down at the table – Marian smirking & my aunt still looking worried & my uncle stern. Did not eat much – a little chicken & potatoes. My stomach rebelled. After dinner, asked my uncle if I could see him in the library. He nodded sternly. I prepared myself for a severe sermon. Went to get the 11£ from my room. Could have put them back without him noticing but that seemed dishonest – really wanted to make a clean breast of it all. Arrived in the library, annoyed with myself to see my hands were shaking slightly. First thing I did was to put the money on the desk. My uncle did not ask me to sit down. Said he was very disappointed in me. Not so much for having deceived them but for having conceived that hare-brained scheme in the first place. I replied I had it all thought out and would have managed to reach Scotland. Not a good idea. He berated me for 20 minutes, telling me he relied on me to succeed him in running Shibden but may change his mind if he cannot trust me. Said he wanted me to be happy but I could not do such whimmy things. Made me feel like a wayward child. Got out of the library thoroughly chastened & went to see my aunt to apologise again for my behaviour. I cannot lose Shibden.

Shibden Hall, May 3rd , 1822

Very little sleep again. Cannot get A- out of my mind. Thinking of going away to see Tib for a few days. Tried to get on with my studies but cannot concentrate on construing Latin or solving equations. Feeling miserable & out of sorts.

Shibden Hall, May 4th, 1822

Got up at 8.30 – too much time lying in bed – I cannot let idleness invade my mind. After breakfast, went with my uncle to see James Smith about the pigs. Then walked to Halifax, for the first time since I left Crow Nest. Stopped at Whitley's to pay for a blank book & look at others. I could not afford any but cannot do without this journal. My aunt retired to bed in the middle of the afternoon – said she felt quite sick & light-headed. We shall have to call the doctor if she is now better tomorrow for there are rumours of enteric fever in the area. Worried myself into insomnia, regretting my past behaviour & thinking I may have caused Aunt Anne's illness.

Shibden Hall, May 5th, 1822

Got up at 7.50. Had a cup of tea & bread & jam, then went to see my aunt. Still very poorly – sent George for Dr. Kenny. She cannot keep anything down & emptied herself during the night. At 10.30, went to see Jack Eliot over the wheat – my uncle staid with my aunt. Marian cross with me – says she cannot believe I could be so inconsiderate & stupid. Says Miss Walker is much better off without me. I almost slapped her but managed to restrain myself, fearful my aunt would hear the commotion.

Went to my room early, just after dinner – I could not stand Marian's prattling anymore. I can feel I still have not redeemed myself in my uncle's eyes either. All worried about Aunt Anne. Dr Kenny says probably not enteric fever but colic or kidney stones – prescribed purgatives & laudanum & an emetic. Was thinking of going to see M- or Tib, but cannot leave while my aunt is ill. Marian is a poor nurse – always fussing about & not much use to anyone.

Shibden Hall, May 7th, 1822

Showery day – barometer a little above variable. Temp. 58°. Spent 2 hours & a quarter this morning on the Met. Drank 1 basin of milk & took 3 dry biscuits with me to eat on the way to Halifax – felt a little sick to my stomach this morning. Went to get Johnson's remedy for my aunt. She is very much improved – yesterday her urine was bloody & she passed some gravel & today she ate a little & sat up in bed. All very relieved – it was not enteric fever after all.

Heard distressing news in Halifax – a carriage accident last night – a servant from Crow Nest was telling the chemist – said he had been sent for more laudanum. I did not know him – a youngish boy, must have arrived since I left . Could not help myself & asked him what happened. He told me in great detail & I fear great relish exactly what had happened. "On their way back from the Watkinsons, Ma'am! Yesterday evening – my Master and Mrs – they were in the landau and the horse shied and it galloped away! Thrown out, they were – in the ditch. Nelson came and called for help, but it was too late. My Mrs was dead and the Master – well, they say he is not to last the day. They brought him home and called the doctor but his leg got mangled and he almost bled to death right there on the spot. T'was awful, Ma'am – he looked like – well, white, like." I thanked him for telling me & after having bought the medicine for my aunt, came straight back here, all the way thinking about God & His justice & how death can come to all of us & we should always make our peace with Our Maker & others so as not to be plagued by our sins after our demise. Also thought of how very wicked I was because those tragic news surely must mean A- & her sister will come back for the funeral?

Told my aunt & uncle all about it & they sent George to inquire if we can be of help & to express our condolences for Mrs Walker's demise & our good wishes for Mr. Walker's speedy recovery.

Shibden Hall, May 8th, 1822

The news came this morning – Mr. Walker died last night. Prayed for his soul & that of his wife, however ill I thought of her. Poor Ann – how tragic to lose both parents at the same time! Her forest of relatives no help – all very vulgar & ready to prey on her vulnerability. Tried to concentrate on Cicero's treatise on old age but could not concentrate, my mind harking back to last month & thinking about Death & how surely it was the great judge of our existences. Also thinking of how I can ingratiate myself with A-'s relatives. Surely they will not want her to live alone & would like someone to look after her. If only Mrs Walker said naught about me I may be a suitable companion. Shall go & express my condolences as soon as possible. My thoughts very unsettled & my wishes muddled. Should like A- to live at Shibden. Would she suit me? I believe so – surely I would manage to cure her of her nervous disposition. I could be happy with her. Can use her money to sink another pit – that would help with the upkeep of Shibden. Would she grow tired of me? I trust not. Would I of her? Maybe – but she is yet but young & I can improve her temper & her nature & teach her to make an agreeable wife for me.

She is pretty enough, quite meek & gentle with a touch of spirit & not wordly. Moreover, she was devoted to me when I left & I shall soon regain her trust &, God willing, her love.

Shibden Hall, May 11th, 1822

A sunny, summery day. Temp. 65°. An anticlimactic sort of day for a funeral. My aunt still not well enough to go – am going with my uncle & Marian staying here. My heart & my head all in a dither – feeling cold & warm at the same time, & my heart beating faster than usual. Sat in the middle -left of the church with my uncle & watched the Walker pew – recognised & saluted the Priestleys when they walked in. She came in last, just before the coffin, with her sister & someone who I take is Captain Sutherland. She looked pale & her eyes were red-rimmed but very genteel & pretty. Mourning suits her. I do not know whether she saw me for her eyes were down as she walked to the pew. Tried to concentrate on the homily but my thoughts kept straying to her & I saw in my mind's eyes how our encounter might go. I durst not hope for too much but fear too little.

Shibden Hall, May 12th, 1822

Woke up at 6.10, clear-headed & eager to get on with my day. Walked with my uncle & Marian to church. None of the Crow Nest crowd there. Then read prayers with my aunt for an hour & then wrote out in this journal my rough draft from yesterday. An awkward moment yesterday after the funeral service when I came face-to-face with the Earl & Countess of Carlisle. My uncle knew them & they exchanged a few pleasantries & I bobbed & kept my head low in the hope they would not recognise me from that fateful dinner at the Walkers. If they did, they were too civil to say so. Then A- walked down the aisle & our eyes met & her pupils dilated & she held her hand out towards me. I took it in mine & clasped it tightly, not able to kiss it as I wanted to. I murmured I would come & see her today & she nodded.

I dressed more carefully than usual and checked my stockings were not torn and my black silk clean. My hat was a little crooked and I reshaped it as best as I could before setting off for Crow Nest. I told myself I wanted to make a good impression on Ann's relatives, but in truth I wanted her to see me looking my best. When I arrived I was shown into the drawing room by a servant I did not know, which pleased me very much – I was not treated as a domestic but as a guest. I waited for a few minutes, too excited to sit down and finally Ann came in. She threw herself into my arms and I held her tightly as she laid her head on my shoulder. I made her sit on the sofa and sat beside her in case anyone came in. We talked at length before I finally said what I had in mind.

"Ann – you cannot stay alone here, surely. What are you going to do?"

"I don't know! I don't know!" was the almost angry reply I got before she burst in a flurry of tears. I reproached myself for not having waited long enough or having been indelicate and proceeded to apologise for my bluntness.;

"I had no wish to make you cry, Ann – I only want to help."

This only made her sob harder. I handed her my handkerchief and held her while she wept. Finally, she murmured something and my heart leapt: "I only want to be with you, Anne."

"Are you sure, Ann? Would you come with me to Shibden Hall? I know it is not as grand as what you are accustomed to, but it is my home."

"I don't mind that!"

"You would want to live with me, then? Well, with my aunt, and my uncle and Marian, too, but – with me? As my companion?"

What I really wanted to say was "Will you be my wife?" but this was not the time, nor the place. She nodded. "Yes – I want to be with you."

"What about your family?" I asked carefully. I personally thought they would be glad not to have to care for her.

She hesitated: "My aunt Walker has been appointed my guardian but… I do not think she would mind if I wanted to live with a friend. Especially you, Anne – she likes you – and your family. I would be an incumbrance for her, I'm sure."

I took her hand then and assured her she would never be an incumbrance in my household. Then I bent my head and dropped a kiss on her wrist, before my lips brushed hers…

Shibden Hall, May 14th, 1822

A good night sleep. Incurred a cross thinking of A- . Had breakfast with Aunt Anne & my uncle, Marian having gone to visit Miss Jones, a friend of hers in York. A- is coming for tea this afternoon. Wrote letters to Tib and M- this morning, telling them about A-'s sad news & what may ensue. Then, 1 hour & 35 mins on Mechanics, in preparation for the lecture next week in York. Went to tell the cook to prepare a good tea – bake fresh muffins, etc for A-. Do not want her to find the tea wanting.

Went up at 9.30. The afternoon went rather well. Played pale-maille with A- on the lawn before tea. Made myself very agreeable to her – flirted as much as is proper with someone so recently bereaved. My aunt & uncle very civil to her. She left at 6.20 & then I had a talk with my aunt Anne. Told her how much A- means to me. Told her I wanted her to come & live at Shibden. My aunt not surprised – said she had noticed how much I had become fond of A-. Asked her what she thought of the scheme. She said she thought A- was a "nice little thing" – not my equal in intellect but pretty & modest enough. She asked, "what about Isabella? Did you not want her as a companion?" "Isabella does not suit me", said I. The one who would have suited me best was Marian & she has sold herself into marriage. "Would you not get tired of Ann?" said she. I said I did not think I would – said her money would allow us to travel & that would uphold our companionship. Never thought of anyone quite like I think of A-. Am very fond of her & would like my aunt's blessing to bring her to live at Shibden. My aunt gave it readily & said she did not want me to be alone. In a few days, she will go & talk with Ann's aunt. Hopefully she will not object. Before bed, prayed for us all & the future. I shall buy A- a ring. Later on, shall ask her to take the sacrament with me.

Shibden Hall, May 16th, 1822

A fair day – barometer a little above average. Went with my uncle to the bank this morning to get a cheque for the jeweller on Church Street in York. In the afternoon, did some mending – stockings & petticoats. Wanted to go to Crow Nest & see A- but was afraid of appearing too eager. Instead, occupied myself with planning a trip to France. I shall take A- to Vichy – the waters will be very good for her. We shall stay in France for a month & then, God willing, we shall settle at Shibden.

Shibden Hall, May 23th, 1822

My aunt Anne & I to Crow Nest this afternoon. She visited with Mrs Lister senior while I spent time with A- & we all had tea together. Gave A- the ring I got from York last week. A- looked very pleased & thanked me a thousand times. Said she had never had anything so pretty. I put it on her finger & it fitted very well. She regretted not having anything to give me in return – I said my pleasure at seeing her enjoying my present was enough. I said that ring symbolised my commitment to her & my everlasting devotion. She blushed & looked very shy & then kissed me on the cheek. Grubbled her a little – not too much because of both our aunts downstairs & liable to come up at any moment.

Fresh strawberries & cream & scones for tea – most delicious. In my mind's eye I saw myself feeding the fruit to A- ... A fruitful visit – it is all arranged. We shall leave at the beginning of July for Vichy via Southampton & Calais. A- will bring her maid & I George. Mrs Lister agrees a change & the waters will do A- a world of good. She has no objection to A- & I travelling together. She thinks it a most suitable arrangement. During our travels, the house can be made ready for our return. Incurred a cross tonight, thinking of A-.

Vichy, 13th of July, 1822

Anne Lister to Miss Anne Lister senior

My dear aunt,

A thousand apologies for not writing any sooner. We have been, as you can imagine, very busy settling down here in Vichy. Since my last letter, we have been travelling at a steady pace from Calais to the Auvergne – mostly in comfortable conditions, although the last inn was very noisy and we did not sleep much. Ann caught a slight cold during the voyage but is very much better now and looking forward to taking the waters here. We are staying at the Hotel Bonnet, where Her Royal Highness the Duchesse d'Angouleme staid just last month. They gave us two good-sized communicating bedrooms with a small parlour. The carpet is brown and hideous and I shudder to think of the dirt hidden by the colour but the bedlinen appears clean enough and all in all I am well satisfied with the accommodation. We walked around the town yesterday for two hours and a half and already feel quite at home. By a stroke of luck, Madame de Monbassier, whom we met the last time we were in Paris, my dear aunt, if you remember, is staying at the Chateau de la Fauconnière with Monsieur le Vicomte de Fontanges and we have been invited there for dinner next week. Tomorrow we shall take the waters for the first time – the smell is not as invasive as in Baden, although the town is in some ways similar. The costs of cure here are slightly lower though – 1F for a bain d'eau douce and 0.75F for a bain d'eau minerale. My stomach has been a little unsettled since we arrived, probably from the rich food we have had on the way – too many roasts and puddings – so I have asked the hotelier to prepare some boiled white meat and vegetables for our next meals. He suggested we tried the pastilles de Vichy and we went to buy some yesterday. Those lozenges are made from sodium bicarbonate and sugar and the local spring water and taste delightfully fresh and minty. I am sending some to you with this letter and hope you will enjoy them as much as we do. Compared to other small towns in France, Vichy is very clean, the previous mayor having passed several bills about refuse disposal every Saturday of every week and before the major fetes days recognised by the Concordat. The women are very elegant and many sport the latest Paris fashions – I feel very shabby in comparison and shall probably have a new dress made. A-'s mourning clothes, although from our Halifax seamstress, look very appropriate. I shall stop here for today as Ann is calling me for our daily walk. My best love to Uncle James and Marian. Ann sends her very fondest regards too. Ever, my dear aunt, very affectionately yours, A.L

Vichy, 26th of August, 1822

Anne Lister to Miss Anne Lister senior

My dear aunt,

I hope this letter finds you in good health and as usual apologise for not having written sooner. I fully intended to write immediately after having received your own missive, especially since it was so long and newsworthy. I know it makes your eyes painful to write by candlelight and it makes your letters all the more ear to me, although I do not like to know you are suffering on my account. I am very pleased to learn that Mrs. Wentworth had a little daughter and that both mother and baby are faring well. We are making the most of our stay and making interesting connections. We have had tea several times with Madame de Bouille and Madame de Clermont-Tonnerre and her daughters. We have nothing to complain about except the weather, which is a little cold for the season – only 11 Degres Reaumur yesterday. Nevertheless, Ann's health is getting better and better and my own often difficult digestion much improved. It seems that Mr. Henry's claims about the Vichy waters in his Elements of Elemental Chemistry were well founded. She surprised me yesterday with a very thoughtful gift – a Breguet sliver pocket watch, really quite splendid. Now she complains I hardly put it down!

Two days ago, we visited the Hopital de Cusset, very well kept by the sisters of St Vincent de Paul. The nuns take care of the sick admirably and the wards appear clean and airy.

Then yesterday, for the feast of St Louis, the whole town celebrated. All the foreigners staying in hotels were invited to a grand mass and afterwards, two distributions had been organised for the poor of the town, one of bread and one of money. In the evening, a sumptuous ball was given – Ann looked very elegant in her pink silk and I wore my usual black one – I admit I was much stared at but do not care much. Ann had her first glass of champagne! We are both rather melancholic to think this was one of the last soirees of our stay but we have already delayed our return by nearly a month and it would be unwise to stay any longer, for I do not want Mrs Lister senior to think I have abducted her niece! All in all, we have got along very well and she makes a very pleasant travel companion. She sends her love to you and Uncle James and bides me tell you she is very much looking forward to staying at Shibden Hall for an indefinite time.

Please do not send any letters now, for we shall be leaving here in three days and making our journey back home. Can you please make sure the bed in the room next to mine – over the kitchen – has been aired and is ready for Ann? Please add also a bookcase near the window as we are bringing back plenty of novels and other books.

Ever, my dear aunt, very affectionately yours, A.L

Shibden Hall, 15th of September, 1822

Not a good sleep - caught a cold in the coach from London & now cannot seem to shake it off. Barometer a little below average - temp. 59°F. Breakfast – toast with bramble jam & tea. This morning, walked with A- in the grounds & went to the stables to see if the stall for her pony was ready. Have been back at Shibden for only two days & yet France seems very far away & Shibden very shabby. Worried it will not be enough for A- but she seems glad enough to be here. She was a better travel companion than I thought she would be & her French is passable. She is very affectionate towards me. My aunt very pleased to have us back. Wanted to hear all about the people we had met and the sights. Her rheumatism still plaguing her. A- went upstairs at 9.35 & I followed soon afterwards. A- a little shy at first for the erotics under my uncle's roof but I reassured her that the rooms were far enough & my aunt & uncle quite deaf & they slept soundly. A good kiss last night – put my hand under her nightgown & grubbled her a good while & she seemed to like it. All in all, I do think she will suit me very well.


The End

Sunday musings – I was doing research for my current fanfic and remembering Anne was fond of Rousseau. That lead me to revisit his Confessions (1782), which I read years ago. I find the resemblances uncanny – did Anne like him so much as an author because she agreed with most of his ideas – including that of letting Nature express itself – or did she model her thinking on his ?

A few samples to illustrate my meaning

"My illusions about the world caused me to think that in order to benefit by my reading I ought to possess all the knowledge the book presupposed. I was very far indeed from imagining that often the author did not possess it himself, but had extracted it from other books, as and when he needed it. This foolish conviction forced me to stop every moment, and to rush incessantly from one book to another; sometimes before coming to the tenth page of the one I was trying to read I should, by this extravagant method, have had to run through whole libraries. Nevertheless I stuck to it so persistently that I wasted infinite time, and my head became so confused that I could hardly see or take in anything."

"Never have I thought so much, never have I realised my own existence so much, been so much alive, been so much myself ... as in those journeys which I have made alone and afoot. Walking has something in it which animates and heightens my ideas: I can scarcely think when I stay in one place ; my body must be set a-going if my mind is to work. The sight of the country, the succession of beautiful scenes ... releases my soul, gives me greater courage of thought, throws me as it were into the midst of the immensity of the objects of Nature ... my heart, surveying one object after another, unites itself, identifies itself with those in sympathy with it, surrounds itself with delightful images, intoxicates itself with emotions the most exquisite."

I worship freedom; I abhor restraint, trouble, dependence. As long as the money in my purse lasts, it assures my independence; it relieves me of the trouble of finding expedients to replenish it, a necessity which always inspired me with dread; but the fear of seeing it exhausted makes me hoard it carefully. The money which a man possesses is the instrument of freedom; that which we eagerly pursue is the instrument of slavery. Therefore I hold fast to that which I have, and desire nothing.

Thrown, in spite of myself, into the great world, without possessing its manners, and unable to acquire or conform to them, I took it into my head to adopt manners of my own, which might enable me to dispense with them. Being unable to overcome my foolish and disagreeable shyness, which proceeded from the fear of offending against the rules of polite society, I resolved, in order to give myself courage, to trample them underfoot. Shame made me cynical and sarcastic. I affected to despise the politeness which I did not know how to practise.

When alone, I have never known what it is to feel weary, even when I am entirely unemployed; my imagination fills up every void, and is alone sufficient to occupy me. It is only the idle gossip of a room, when people sit opposite each other, moving nothing but their tongues, that I have never been able to endure. When walking or moving, I can put up with it; the feet and eyes are at least employed; but, to remain with folded arms, talking about the weather and the flies buzzing round, or, what is worse, exchanging compliments, that is to me unendurable torture.

The first, the greatest, the most powerful, the most irrepressible of all my needs was entirely in my heart; it was the need of a companionship as intimate as was possible; it was for that purpose especially that I needed a woman rather than a man, a female rather than a male friend.

Although we did not require a very profound knowledge of arithmetic for our calculations, we required enough to sometimes cause me some trouble. To overcome this difficulty, I bought some books on arithmetic, and learned the subject well, for I learned it alone.

What I most regret in regard to the details of my life which have escaped my memory, is that I never kept a diary of my travels. I have never thought so much, existed so much, lived so much, been so much myself, if I may venture to use the phrase, as in the journeys which I have made alone and on foot. There is something in walking which animates and enlivens my ideas. I can scarcely think when I remain still; my body must be in motion to make my mind active. The sight of the country, a succession of pleasant views, the open air, a good appetite, the sound health which walking gives me, the free life of the inns, the absence of all that makes me conscious of my dependent position, of all that reminds me of my condition – all this sets my soul free, gives me greater boldness of thought, throws me, so to speak, into the immensity of things, so that I can combine, select, and appropriate them at pleasure, without fear or restraint.

A man who, at the age of five-and-twenty, knows nothing and wishes to learn everything, is bound to make the best use of his time. Not knowing at what point destiny or death might arrest my zeal, I desired, in any case, to get an idea of everything, in order to discover the special bent of my natural abilities, and also to judge for myself what was worthy of cultivation.

Magnanimous Despair alone

Could show me so divine a thing
Where feeble Hope could ne'er have flown,
But vainly flapp'd its tinsel wing.

And yet I quickly might arrive
Where my extended soul is fixt,
But Fate does iron wedges drive,
And always crowds itself betwixt.

For Fate with jealous eye does see
Two perfect loves, nor lets them close;
Their union would her ruin be,
And her tyrannic pow'r depose.

And therefore her decrees of steel
Us as the distant poles have plac'd,
(Though love's whole world on us doth wheel)
Not by themselves to be embrac'd;

Unless the giddy heaven fall,
And earth some new convulsion tear;
And, us to join, the world should all
Be cramp'd into a planisphere.

As lines, so loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet;
But ours so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.

Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.

a ! pereat, si quis lentus amare potest

Ah ! que périsse celui qui peut rester impassible en amour !

"Pale-maille is a game wherein a round box[wood] ball is struck with a mallet through a high arch of iron, which he that can do at the fewest blows, or at the number agreed upon, wins. It is to be observed, that there are two of these arches, that is one at either end of the alley. The game of mall was a fashionable amusement in the reign of Charles the Second, and the walk in Saint James's Park, now called the Mall, received its name from having been appropriated to the purpose of playing at mall, where Charles himself and his courtiers frequently exercised themselves in the practice of this pastime."[8

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