up. She was a keen horse-woman, and discusses her horses
at great length with him : —
2Qth February 1848.
"The horses are in excellent order. We have struck
out some new rides lately, but fear they will be ploughed
up before you come. You will remember a field on Shel-
ford Common, near Dr. Kitling's, in which we used to get
a gallop last year. We turned into that the other day
and followed a field road in excellent order, which brought
us out at Hauxton Gate ; we then turned round and
i;ook off in another direction, and came out at Shelford,
opposite Mr. Twiss's. Another day we tried a field about
half-way on the far round, and came out below Lord
" A new fair Equestrian has appeared, about whom I am
very curious. She rides a dipt horse of bad action, humps
fearfully (nay, flies from her saddle at least a foot) in a
canter, and is accompanied by a gentleman (not a good
rider) and a large black dog. They neither of them
appear to have any hand on a horse, but straggle about
in a strange manner. They passed me on Parker's Piece
near the Gaol. I thought they were making for the
University Arms, when lo ! I discovered they meant to
go through the posts to Downing Terrace ! ! ! Papa
would call this ' crossing the country. "" "
20th June 1848.
" I send you the Post Office order for the sum you
named, and it is, as before, in your Papa's name. At the
same time I must tell you we do not quite approve of your
boating, nor are we without our fears for your safety.
You are so inexperienced a swimmer that it is not to be
expected you could save yourself hi your clothes, which you
must know add considerably to your difficulty, and then,
as you are so unaccustomed to the management of a boat,
there is every fear that you may not be always able to
keep your balance.
" I shall be sorry if you take to boating as many lads
do, because I think it injurious to the health and produc-
tive of idleness : still, of course, in moderation there is no
objection to it, and you know I should wish you to be
Letters from Ho7ne 59
able to do everytliing. Cricket, I suspect, you will never
follow, but I hope you will always prefer ruling to any
other amusement, and hunt (if railroads do not destroy
the country too much) when you can ! !
" I hope you will not give up swimming and bathing
now that you have passed, as the first requires practice
and the latter is good for your health.
"We took our last ride on Saturday; it was a sultry
day, and by the time we had walked to Trumpington the
clouds threatened a storm. We turned back, came along
the Fen, till deterred by a hand of Savages, went to
Trumpington again, along the cross road to the gate^and
Mrs. Clark was an enthusiastic gardener and a very success-
ful exhibitor at the local flower-shows. She spent hours in
her garden, and was particularly successful with roses. When
there were no flowers to tend, she would spend the afternoon
in the vinery "painting stakes." In her letters to J. there
is almost always some reference to the garden, and to her J.
certainly owed his talent for cultivating flowers and his passion
Another feature of Mi's. Clark's correspondence is the gusto
with which she describes social events and little local scandals.
As a sample, I may quote from a letter dated the 20th of
February 1849 :—
" We have been very gay, Mrs. Williams gave a very
nice party on Friday; the following day Dr. Fisher had a
ball — this was not so much to my taste as the company
was not very select, and seats were very scarce. On
Thursday Mrs. Prest had a ball, very well managed
indeed ; the drawing-room carpet was covered with that
unbleached linen which is so much used now, stretched
quite tight. The only drawback to the pleasure was that
the house shook so fearfully ; and the windows rattled so,
that it could only be compared to a sto?-m at sea. Many
expected the floor to sink ; it was impossible to sit at the
end near the fire-place. I fully expected the dining-room
ceiling would have fallen in ; however, it all went off* well.
"There was to be another grand ball in Downing last
6o y. as a ^oy
night, at Mrs. G.'s ; you may perhaps remember she lost
her husband , . . thirteen months since. She has now
laid aside her wido\v''s cap, and, to the great scandal of all
steady people, dances with anybody, dresses in zahite, and
has now given a ball.
" Our Ray ^ on Wednesday was very good indeed, 22
in all. Professor Camming came for a meeting at Trinity
Lodge on Thursday.
" Mr. Cartmell was elected Master of Christ's on Thurs-
day ; we called on him yesterday; it is reported that he
is going to be married."
In this case rumour proved to be correct, but even now
everyone seems to expect that the moment a man is made
Master he should rush out and marry the first maid he meets.
Later in life there were times when Mrs. Clark fought J.
with all the vigour and tenacity with which the implacable
old IVIrs. Knox of Aussolas fought her grandson, Flurry ; but
all through her life (again like old Mrs. Knox) she fought her
servants with amazing acrimony and vigour, and with such
success that time after time she put them all to flight, and she
^ As this letter contains the first mention of the Ray Club, it is well
to give a short account of a Club which has played no small part in the
advancement of Science in the University during the last three-quarters
of a century. Tlie Club had its beginnings in certain " Friday evenings"
held during full term in Professor Henslow's rooms from 1829 until the
end of 183(5. These "evenings" were frequented by both senior and
junior members of the University interested in Science. On their dis-
continuance, they left a void, and early in 1837 certain senior members
of the University, prominent amongst whom were Mr. C. C. (later
Professor) IJabington and l\Ir. (later Professor Sir G. E. ) Paget,
resolved " to form a Society for the cultivation of Natural Science by
means of friendly intercourse and mutual instruction." Rules were
drawn up limiting the number of members to twelve, and at the first
meeting of the Club it was decided to call it after " the celebrated John
Ray," the great Trinity naturalist. The Club met once a week, and dined
annually on the 29th November, "the supposed natal day of John Ray,"
in the rooms of one of its members. In 1842 certain rules were added to
the original " Laws " admitting a defined number of undergraduate and
bachelor members, and these new rules have proved of the utmost benefit
to the Club.
Letters from Home 6 1
and Dr. Clark were left in their hour of victory alone on the
field of battle, dependent for the commissariat department on
the intermittent attentions of a casual charwoman. Much of
Mrs. Clark's correspondence dwells in detail on the delin-
quencies of her staff, but these letters are scarcely worth
reproducing. After a devastating encounter, when all the
men-servants but the gardener were routed, and the females
put out of action, Mrs. Clark writes to J. (6th March 1848): —
" I forgot to tell you our arrangements. William
pumps and cleans boots ; papa brushes my habit and his
own clothes, lights lamps, and very often shuts the
shutters. I do most of the errands and open and shut
bedroom windows, &c., and Eliza does everything else.
Ray answers the front door, but does not, I find, take
the trouble to ask anyone for their name. Mrs. Kidd
cooks joints and makes pies, and we live on them till
she comes again. Kay shows a great inclination to
muddle about in the kitchen, which I dislike and dis-
courage, but, I fear, do not prevent. Don't comment
on her conduct in your letter, as papa is sufficiently
annoyed by it without being reminded. We neither of
us think she will stay long, and really her constant ill-
health makes it little desirable, as she is always under
Dr. Bond's care."
And on 20th February 1850 :—
"The new housemaid arrived on Thursday. She is
short, and so tight-laced that scrubbing seems to take
away her breath. She appeared in a very pretty, gay-
looking gown, a very long waist, with an absurdly long
peak, a little mousseVine de laine apron, very full, a scarlet
neck ribband with long ends, and a very smart cap. Of
course I read a long lecture on dress and had the neck-tie
removed. She told Higgs she had always been accus-
tomed to wear one of an afternoon, and a velvet in the
morning — a genteel undress ! ! "
The following letters give a very spirited account of the
festivities in connection with the Prince Consort's installa-
tion. Although the letters are long they are worth printing,
62 y, as a ^oy
as they give a contemporary record of what must have
been a very great occasion in the University, and reveal
many features of Cambridge life in the middle of the last
century : —
4<A July 1847.
" We are all in bustle and confusion. Cambridge seems
turned upside down. Up to last night there was nothing
to be seen but paint pots, ladders, and every symptom of
cleaning and ornamenting. . . .
" There is a splendid triumphal arch at the end of the
hospital grounds, where the pavement ceases. ... It is
nearly as high as the houses, and it is intended to screen
the Fitzwilliam so that Her Majesty when she emerges
from the arch may be astonished at the unexpected effect.
" To-morrow I am to go with Mrs. Fisher to the gallery
at ten. Papa will go at twelve to Trinity to receive Her
jNIajesty. . . . After dinner I must cut roses and make up
my bouquet till dark. At ten we go to Parker's Piece to
see the fireworks.
" On Tuesday I must finish my flowers by nine — there is
then the Senate House from half-past ten. At two there
will be the Horticultural Fete in Downing, and at six
we are to dine in Trinity College Hall with Her Majesty.
The party will necessarily be very limited. It is confined
to the ladies of the Heads of Houses and Professors. We
are to meet in the Combination Koom, where Mr. Carus
will receive us, and when dinner is announced he will
marshall us hoo and two. The Chamberlain will then
announce the Queen, and we are to receive her standing — ■
after dinner we are to retire to Mr. Carus' room till nine,
when we are to be presented to Her Majesty.
" On Monday Her Majesty is to dine at Catharine Hall :
they have taken down the gates to enable her to drive
into the Court : she is to be received at the door of the
Lodge by Mrs. Phil pott, who is to precede her upstairs
walking backwards all the way into the drawing room."
J. always dearly loved a function and he nmst have
regretted his absence from Cambridge at the Installation. On
6th July he wrote to his mother as follows : —
The l7tstallatio7i of i^^y 63
" My dearest Mummy, — I forgot to tell you in my last
letter that Mrs. Okes ^ was so kind as to send for me to
breakfast with her on my birthday, as it was a whole
holiday. After breakfast she took me and another boy
who was breakfasting there also round the gai'den, and
then brouo-ht us in and showed us some books of eng-rav-
ings and her cabinet of shells. She says I may go and see
her whenever I like. My birthday, I assure you, was
miserable enough away from home.
"I think you will have a splendid Installation; I only
wish I was there to see it. The weather here is perfectly
roasting; the evenings are beautiful. I often think of
our happy summer evenings together, and wish I was at
home, which in less than three weeks I shall be. Only
think, we are to come back on the 4th of September, not
quite six weeks.
" I get on very well with my swimming; I shall be able
to pass in about a fortnight. ... I long for your news-
paper and account of the Installation. — Believe me, your
affectionate little John Willis Clark."
Here is his mother's account of the function, dated 8th July
" My dear little Boy, — The bustle is at length over
and all has gone off well and satisfactorily. We have
ordered a newspaper for you which you will get on Satur-
" Monday. — Got up at six to cut roses, arranged
about half in their respective places and put them in the
cellar; breakfasted, dressed, and joined Mr. Fisher's party
at ten ; from thence we went in a carriage to the Directors'*
gallery to see her Majesty arrive. There was an erection
under the colonnade at the railway station. The royal
carriages waited in front of us, and as the day was splendid
the carriages were all open. The room through which we
passed was covered with crimson cloth for her Majesty to
pass through. The Mayor and Corporation received her
^ The wife of Richard Okes, at this time Lower Master of Eton, later
Provost of Kiug's.
64 y- ^s <^i '^oy
on the platform and preceded her to Trinity Lodge.
There were two very handsome galleries on each side of
the road close to the station and flags flying and lesser
galleries in every direction. The Pensioners and Whittle-
sea Yeomanry came to meet her and also the Guards to
clear the way. I forgot to mention that the High Sheriff
in a full court-dress, Lord Hardwicke in uniform as Lord-
Lieutenant, and Lord Godolphin as High Steward were
also in attendance. Papa went to the court of Trinity
College to present the address. From the railway I went
to the Senate House ; about three o'clock Prince Albert
arrived and was met at the door by the V^ice-Chancellor,
Beadles, &c., and led to the platform where the ceremony
of installing him took place ; a short time after her Majesty
arrived. The Prince went to meet her and conducted her
to a chair prepared for the occasion ; she was accompanied
bv the Duchess of Sutherland and Lady Desart. She
looked very pleased ; at six she dined in Catharine Hall —
I arranged a bouquet for the show.
" Tuesday. — Went to the Senate House at nine, having
previously despatched my plants ; no one got in after
eight ; some were on the steps at five — hundreds were in
the Senate House square where we enjoyed air at least.
The Queen and Prince Albert were there to hear the Ode,^
&c. At two we went to Downing where there were eight
thousand persons. ... At six we went to dinner — this
was very elegant and well managed. The ladies hand-
somely dressed, and everybody delighted. We assembled
in the Combination Room and were taken to our places
in the Hall by noblemen. I had a capital place. After we
were all placed her Majesty and Suite came in; grace was
said by the Master and Professor Sedgwick, and then we
sat down to dinner. When the Royal Party left the Hall
the ladies retired to jVIr. Cams"' rooms under the clock till
nine, when we went to the Lodge for the Presentation.
. . . Very affectionately yours, M. Clark."
Mrs. Clark's lively pen was equally capable of sketching the
characters of her guests and of her hosts, and all for the benefit
of her boy at school : —
' Written for the occasion by William NVordsworth.
Cambriage Gossip 6 5
20^A February 1850.
" We are alive, which you will be surprised at when I
tell you of our dissipation. Mr. A came on Saturday ;
Sunday, he and Papa dined at Caius ; on Tuesday we
dined at Emmanuel Lodge ; Wednesday, a party of thirteen
at home ; Thursday, dined at Trinity Lodge ; Friday, a
party of fourteen at home ; Saturday, Mr. A left us.
Papa is quite worn-out, and said it seemed so different
to our usual routine of every day alike ! ! !
" Mr. A returns on Saturday for another week.
Papa is very tired of him ; he takes a great deal of room,
knocks things over, spills the ink, spoils the pens, brings
in a great deal of dirt, drops jelly and gravy on the table-
cloth, and handles books so roughly that he dislocates
the leaves ... he is also an eternal talker in a low voice,
which requires all your attention. . . .
" Papa would not let me go to the Bachelors'" Ball ; but
I hear it was a very good one, and there were no falls.
" Mrs. H dined with us on Friday ; her dress was
so decolletce that we were quite shocked ; her shoulders were
out all the time, and when she moved I saw under her
arm ; it was white silk with a very thin black lace Par-
dessus over it. She must be a very strange kind of saint ;
I wonder if she has a tract on modesty. . . ."
Beyond the meagre record that on 15th March, Johnny was
" second in trials," I can find out little for 1850, except that
Mrs. Clark, as usual, took several prizes at horticultural shows
for her roses and other flowers. The family must have been
at Eyemouth in August, because there and then she " sketched
a rock resembling a peacock on one side and a judge on the
other."''' They also visited Scotland,
Her description of the househoki of a friend with whom
they stayed on their way to Guiseley would serve for the
" argument " of a Jane Austen novel ; —
2mh September 1848.
" I am glad to be able to tell you that we are once
more at Guiseley, for though I believe the M 's were
66 y. as a ^oy
glad to see us, I did not altogether enjoy my visit —
their perpetual quarrels, his scolding his wife and children,
and her indifference to everyone's comfort wearied me
extremely. Then the perpetual going in and out of
the room, the doors and windows open, and the making
and altering of plans of amusement, with the children
practising in the drawing-room all the morning, kept
one in a perpetual fever.
" Papa is quite an old man, obstinate, cross and self-
"Mamma is much aged in appearance, her hair as grey
as your grandmother's, still wearing no cap, and dressing in
short sleeves and neck in the fashion of twenty 3'ears ago.
"Emma is a sweet girl, very quiet, sensible, fond
of reading, desirous of information, but lamentably near-
sighted ; kind, amiable, and obliging.
" Mary is forward, pert, childish, idle, and Mamma's
" George is very short, a fine healthy idle boy. They
have taken him away from the preparatory school in their
own neighbourhood and are undecided as to where he
is to go. Mamma hates all schools and wishes for a Curate
who shall act as tutor ; in the meantime the boy is ruined :
he does as he likes and bullies Papa and Mamma, as in-
deed they all do."
As a further example of Mrs. Clark's troubles with her
servants, I quote the following from a letter written from
Cambridge, 28th October 1849 :—
" I am tolerable, but worried to death — the Cook
turned rest'roe on Tuesday and was worse on Wednesday,
telling me that she should not attend to my orders — on
Thursday she was dismissed. The Housemaid, who is to
leave at the end of her month, pretends to do everything
and neglects all — she is an impudent, violent, Tinock- about
woman — you may always know where she is by the noise
she makes. We had Peck's men from Wednesday to
Friday, lime-washing the kitchens and larders, and a
Charwoman to clean after them ; to-day we have had Mrs.
Kidd to cook a joint, and Papa cannot decide what to do
about the Groom ; if he stays his clothes must be ordered
Cambridge Gossip 67
— he is most odious, will only do what his master desires,
attends to no messages, and eats enormously!! Papa has
been for a ride to-day to see whether he can clean a horse
and turn one out well. I saw he was disgusted with the
Groom going in to tea and leaving the horse untouched.
Then there is a perpetual battle with B ; with all his
horror at Dall not having propagated Verbenas, Helio-
tropes, etc., he has done likewise ; and had the impudence
to tell me to-day that it answered quite as well or better
in February, just the time when Dall left. The grass is so
long I dare not go upon it ; and the apples having been
allowed to fall off are rotting in the chamber. Our
anemone-seed has not come up, for it has never been
The following gossiping letter gives a curious account of
the social life in the University in the middle of the last
century : —
^Uh May 1851.
"... We have had rather a busy week. On Tuesday
there was a Horticultural Show — nothing worth looking
at. We afterwards dined at Emmanuel Lodge. On
Wednesday the Ray — a very pleasant meeting — seventeen
altogether, and they made a very good tea. On Thursday
we dined at Dr. Bond's — this was a ' triste affaire."'
They had had many disappointments. Professor Maine
was called to town — Mrs. Duffield was not well enough to
come — Mr. Frere of Cottenham was taken very ill at his
uncle's at Bury St. Edmunds of scarlet fever a few days
before, and I am sorry to say died on Tuesday. This had
distressed them very much. A few had been asked to come
in in the evening, but John Parry was singing, and Mrs.
C. Francis had a ball which interfered sadly. The room
was very hot, and we were all very dull.
" On Friday we had a very small party at Christ's
Lodge — Mrs. H came out in silver-grey satin with
black lace flounces and a white cap with marabout
feathers ! ! The young ladies in pink silk. By the by,
they are reckoning very much on his being knighted.
He had the bad taste to say to Isabella Gumming the
other day that he hoped it might be so, that his wife
might go before the old woman at Trinity ! ! "
68 y. as a ^oy
J.'s letters home were those of a boy who had spent most
of his time with older people, and this life with his elders was
one of the causes which tended to isolate him from his school-
companions. Sixty-five years ago English boys matured earlier
than they do now, and the following letters of J. to his mother
seem to me to show some evidence of this ; —
28th April 1847.
" My clock goes very well and is ver}' useful ; I keep
the key in my desk for safety. I am very glad the
enemy has been discomfited and that our sweet-scented
China has got a prize. On Sunday we get up at eight
and have to be down in the pupil-room at half-past,
where Mr. Johnson explains to us the Epistle and Gospel
and compares them with the Greek ; when we have done
this we go and breakfast, and at half-past ten go to Church,
out of which we get at half -past twelve ; at half-past one
we dine, and go again to Church at three ; we come out at
four, and do what we like till tea-time at six, after which
we have to answer the questions I enclose you on the
Epistle and Gospel ; at ten we have prayers, and then go to
bed. . . .
" I like Eton neither better nor worse than when you
saw me ; I think perhaps I am not so much plagued as
formerly. , . .
" The temporary Chapel is a most flimsy erection, and
I think will soon fall. Several of the seats were broken
last Sunday. The old one will be finished about
" I have been counting up the time to the holidays ; we
have thirteen weeks last Monday, or ninety days.
" I got into an awful scrape yesterday. I was out
walking with another boy when we saw a gentleman at
some distance. Not thinking he was a Master, we pursued
our walk, but as soon as we got near him he stopped us,
asked our names and told us to come to him at a quarter
past six, which we did. He only gave us a long lecture
and told us we ought to have ' shirked."" " ^
^ If a boy meets a master, out of bounds, he is expected to go, quite
formally, behind a tree or hedge.
His Letters from Eton 69
J. does not often mention his schoolfellows, but in a letter
written on returning to Eton for the autumn half in 1847 we
learn some of their names. Mrs. Clark took her boy back to
Eton at the beginning of the autumn term, and J.'s first letter
to her shows he was settling down at the school ; —
Uh September 1847.
" After you left me I went in to seek Mr. Johnson, but
I found he was out. Ward ^ said that there was no
absence and that I might come in almost when I liked. I
gave Ward some fruit for him. I went to Mrs. Okes's
afterwards and spent a very pleasant day there. . . .
"... I suppose Mrs. Welsh's poorliness arose from her
grief at parting with me.
" Clarke,^ to my great delight, is messing with Glad-
stone,^ but I believe when Alderson ■* comes back he will
cease to do so. I gave him to understand that I did not
mean to mess with him. At present I am messing with
Crawford^ but I fear it is only temporary. Vivian^ has
gone to his room on the other side of the house, but, not
liking it, he has come back again and I am afraid he will
not let me mess with him. On Sunday I refused to go
down on my knees when Gladstone ordered me and endured
several blows which I warded off. I have not known the
least fear at any one,
"... Football has not yet begun ; there were hardly
half a dozen boys in the playing-fields. Mytton ' says it
won't begin till the cold weather gets in. I will play most
vigorously when it does."