S. Sophia Beale.

Recollections of a spinster aunt online

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70 Filth Avenue,


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* —

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By G. Lbnotrb, Author of 'The Flight of Marie
Antoinette,' etc. Translated by Frederic Lbes
( Officur de V Instruction Publique),

In two vols. Demy Zvo* Fully illustratecL Price 20s, not.

AFTER WATERLOO. Reminiscences of European
Travel from 1815-1819. By Major W. E. Frye.
Edited by Dr. Salomon Rbinach (Miemire de

One Tfol. Demy 8zw. Price 15^. net.



Crown Svd. Price 6s. net.


21 Bedford Street, W.C

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/< F^'J" ^0


Copyright, L§nd&n and the Uniitd States of America

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. 66


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. 109


. 125

X. THE DEN . . . . .

. 148


. 172

XII. RHEINLAND . . . . .

. 192

XUI. PARIS . . . . .

. 213


. 241


. 272

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. 288


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* Why not?'

* But would any one care to read such a book ?
You know Aunt Jane was never acquainted with
any distinguished folk. Would it be interesting,
think you ? '

* I do not see why it should not be. If she
never knew any celebrities personally, she must
have seen many people and a vast number of
interesting things and places; and just think for
a moment of the changes which have taken place
during the last fifty years ; and change is not the
only development. Things were quieter, and people
less hurried in the middle of the "wonderful
century " — and what a really marvellous century
it was I The world was more conventional, more
fiissy, and prudish; but on the other hand, it
had time to think. Now all is rush; there are
plenty of ideas floating about, and possibly the
big brains are as good; moreover, their owners

A 1

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may develop their ideas as well, or better than
their forerunners were apt to do. But the small
people fly from one subject to another, and have
no time to think nor to meditate ; and as for con-
centration of thought or calm contemplation, it is
as much out of fashion as snuff-taking and toddy-
drinking. Why not try the book ? '

* But query, can I find the necessary middleman,
a publisher ? '

* Why, surely that cannot be difficult, consider-
ing the absolute rubbish which gets thrown upon
the market, presumably to be bought or read,
possibly both ? '

*You are right, good Friend, as regards the
printing of much rubbish, and no doubt a good
deal of it is read ; but we know no more of the
relationship of those who write to those who print
the aforesaid rubbish, than we do of the relation-
ship between the Guardians of our various Unions,
and the provision and coal merchants whose
tenders are accepted. The world is made up of
mysteries, and not the least extraordinary are the
whys and wherefores that select one book for
publication and doom another to oblivion ; it is as
if a disagreeable little demon pursued some brain-
workers, authors, painters, sculptors, music-men,
and the like, and, preceding the agents carrying
the works, whispered into the Middleman's ear
the advice of Pilate's wife.'

This conversation took place while the speakers


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were walking along that exquisite moorland of
Dorsetshire which overlooks Poole Harbour, the
Venice of England. Do not laugh ; but look over
that space of water at half-tides, and in imagina-
tion, if you have any, people the sandbanks with
a series of campanili, substitute stout piles for
the weakly little sticks of our harbour, and raise
the background of hills into seven thousand or
eight thousand feet snow-capped mountains, * that
misty band ' of which Ruskin speaks ; and have
you not something, a little scrap of Nature, that
reminds you of the Venetian lagoons ? with the
addition of colour — ^the heather, the bracken, and
here and there in summer, masses of rhododendrons
growing wild. And then the effects of light and
shade upon the water; it is all most beautiful,
though Poole itself can scarcely claim to be even
a very poor relation of the Queen of the Sea.

As to the subject of our conversation, it referred
to a scheme for putting together some old letters
and an incomplete diary written by a spinster
aunt. The letters were sent to a cousin in the
country, our old aunt being a Londoner. Was it
likely, was it even possible that the diary of an
insignificant member of society, and her letters to
a commonplace friend, could be of any interest to
the general public ? Yet, on the other hand, the
diary of an artistic uncle, found, years ago, in the
same ox-skin-covered trunk as these letters, had
appeared in an early number of the late Harry


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Quilter's interesting Universal Review, under the
title of * An Old- World Diary,' and had met with
a certain amount of appreciation.

There was also in the box another bundle of
letters tied up with a blue ribbon, and bearing the
Jamaica postmark upon the folded letter paper.
The handwriting was evidently a man's (you could
not mistake a woman's writing in the thirties and
forties of the last century) ; the composition was
somewhat sentimental, unmistakably that of a
lover, but also of an old friend. These I put aside
to bum, deciding that we had had of late years
a sufficient instalment of love-letters, for unless
they be written by celebrities, proving that all the
world 's akin and the intellectuals as silly under
certain conditions as their commonplace brethren,
such effusions are apt to pall upon the mind.
But the remainder of the letters and the scraps of
diary being considered of sufficient interest by an
unbiassed reader who sat in judgment upon them,
it was determined to arrange them in order to
afford a sort of disjointed account of my old aunt's
childhood and early life.

She came upon the stage in the Victorian age,
when women wore cottage bonnets, short skirts
with one flounce, and shoes with sandals in fine
weather, and clogs in wet, the latter having super-
seded pattens as more seemly. They were
wooden-soled things, with a hinge under the
instep and a leather toe-cap, as clumsy as the


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pattens, but not quite so difficult to walk in, as
the latter rested upon a circle of iron imder the
centre of the foot upon which the wearer had to
balance herself.

One of the earliest letters was written when the
aunt was eight or nine years of age. The family
had gone to Heme Bay one summer, when that
watering-place consisted of merely half a dozen
cottages with few or no visitors.


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May \Oth 1847.
My dear Cousin Mary

We came heer yesterday, and this morniDg we
had our first barth in the see it was so funy. We
got in the barthing machine and it jogged down
the beech into the see i was so firitenned and it is
horrid going into the water The rope did not
brake but nurse thought it wood Then we un-
drest and stud on the steps, and then down came a
grene curtane and we only saw the see like a room
it was so cold as we stud on the steps and then
the curtane was lifted up and an ugly old woman
drest in blue came in under the curtane she had
such lots of cloths on she was so fat and a shiny
cap on her hed and she looked something like the
Diver at the Pollyteknik and i began to cry. and
then she said don't cry, Deerey, and she took hold
of me with both her hands and held me in her
arms and then throwed me into the water 8 times
and every time i kickt her so and skremed and the
water got into my eyes which was as bad as the
sope at home in the hot water and i went on


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A spinst:er aunt

skreming all the time Mama wiped me for she
rubed me so hard i was so cold and i don't like
the see it is wurse than that big bath at home
were Papa yust to put me in when i was little he
tride everjrthing to make me like it but i always
kiekt and the see is quit as cold You remember
when i had a little frog on a piece of wood in the
bath but that never made me like going in but i
liked playing with mister fix)ggy from the outside
he looked so prety sitting on the wood he was
quit wee and grene. I am going to play now so
gud by

Your afecshonate cosin» Ba.

Mm/ SO 1847

My deab Maey

Do you bdeve this Mamma says when i was a
very little gurl she took me one day to hungerfud
markit to buy a fat chiken and wile she was
talking to the man i was out side the shop and i
puled a little pigs tale out and she found me
suking it how cud a tale be puled out of a pig
but the others always tese me now and call out
who stole the pigs tale we came hear by the bote
it was called Father Thames and some of the
pepel were so sik but i wasent and it was ole
Brandy Ball who drove the hakney coch to the
river were we got the bote there was plenty of
room for us all its so big i like bilding karsels in


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the sand and we put stones all along the parths
up to the karsel and i hay got a spade and a pale
and i wish you was hear and Nipper sends his
luve and i am your afecshonate cosin Ba. Mama
has a big sugar loaf today and we are going to cut
it up with nippers.

Janery 7 1848
My dear Mary

We had a party last nite and a big cake not so

big as those at the shop in the Strand wich we

went to see the other day. One had a karsel on

it, and another a big ship with barly sugar masts

and ropes. Ours was as big as a chairs seat and

had white sugar flowers on the top and it was so

good we had caracters and Edward and Evey wer

the king and queen and they cut the cake did

I tell you about the big party Mamma had at

Christmas. I did not like it much because I had

to walk all round the room and shake hands and

say good nite to every boddy I was so glad wen I

got away but what do you think I did one night

I walked down stairs and into the drawing room

in my nite gown all asleep and they were dancing

Bekky carried me up again before I went to bed

they all sat round the room and one lady sang a

song and another lady played the harp at the

same time. She looked like the pickture books

and they said she was prety but I don't think so


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she had long mittens and a big thing on her head
like a Turk and she was too old to be prety I am
sm^ she was 40.

Your afecshonate Ba-Janie.

P.S. — Fanny and Ellen took me to the Pan-
theon to buy wax to make flowers its a luvly
place and there are parots and cockatus, and we
went one nite to the Sury Gardens to see the
Sige of Badderjoz all fireworks and soljers. I
want to go agane. Mama says its like Voxhorl
wen she was yung. and Ranneler They were both
gardens but are shut up now. But we saw a play
and Madam Celeste — O she does scream so. I like
the horses at Aslys much better they dance and
do all sorts of things and I have been in the
Thams tunel it drips so and smells of earth.

April 8 18^
My dear Mary

There is to be a great meeting of Chartists
the day after tomorrow on Kenington Common,
every one is very excited and peple are being
made into speshal cunstabels. Leo is one not
Papa because he is a docter and has not time and
if any one is shot he will have to bind them up.
Papa is going to take me to see the cannons to-
morrow so good bye. I am Your afecshonate Ba.


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My dear Mary.

We went to the Common this mommg but
there was nothmg to see. Papa talked to a
polliceman and he said there were some big guns
in some of the back yards and gardens so we
came home to tea and every body thinks they will
fight tomorrow out there on the Common.

I am your afecshonate cousin Ba.

Septembur 11 1848
My dear Mary

We are going to Briteton tomorrow wont it be
fun. I will write more there.

Here we are at Brighton I dident spell it
properly yesterday and I have seen the chain pier
and the Pavilion but the jolly part was coming
down in the train we were in an open carrage the
thurd class and as we were very early at the
station we got seats with our backs to the engin
and so we were out of the wind but some times
the sparks flu about and one woman got a hole
burnt in her shawl, there was no lid to our carrage
like some of them had resting on 4 posts at the
comers. I should not like to go in these carrages
in winter
Your afecshonate cousin Ba.


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At this time, 1848 or 1849, my aunt seems to
have begun writing her diary. The first entry
must have been, I think in 1849, early in the
year — but it is not dated. — Ed.]

I am going to keep a diary mamma says that
it is the best word or I might say journal, and
I shall copy it for you sometimes or send it to
you and you can send it back. Mr. Whitmore
is made doctor to the opera and he says he will
send us some tickets sometimes I shall like that

My dear Mary

Mamma took me to see the opera last night
and it was so lovely it was the lady of the lake
Madame Grici was the lady Ellen I think she
was called and Madame Albony was her lover
Malcolm and he came down the hills with his
Highlanders and they had plaid sashes over
muslin gowns I mean Ellen and the ladies had.
It was so lovely and I hope Mr. Whitmore will
send us some more tickets.

I am your afiectionate Ba.

The Diary

1849. We went last night to see Don

Giovanny and we had a lovely box on the grand
tere. of corse we were late because we had to
dress and we were in such a hurry Signor Tam-

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burini was don G. and Madame Persianni was in
it and Mario and Madame Grisi Don Giovanny
and Zerlina she is a peasant girl had such fun
running about after each other in one of the
senes and then Mazetto came and ran about too
and he was so cross and Zerlina screamed he
was called Signor Ronconi. they all sang italian
so I could not understand what they said,
donna Ann and don Attavio don means Mr. you
know, were very sad people but their servant
Leporeller is great fim and he has a great long
strip of paper with a lot of names on it and he
undoes it and then they all laugh. Don G. gives
a large party and they all come to it and don
Attavio and his wife and another lady sit down on
8 chairs, there are only 8 chairs in the room.
Some of the people at the party had lovely dresses
but those 8 were all in black. I love the music
and the end is so funny. A lot of little black
and red boys with tales like cows come up the
trap doors and dance round Don Giovanny. and
then fire comes up and I was so frightened but
Mamma said it was not real fire and the imps
Mamma calls them so tried to hold don Giovanny
and a statue comes in with a stiff arm sticking
out and he catches hold of don Giovanny and he
carnt get away and then they all go down trap
doors. O it was fun. the conductor Js so hand-
some his name is Coster and he wears white kid
gloves and holds a white stick.


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June 98 1850
My dear Mary

Last night we went to Covent Garden and
heard the Prophet, a lovely opera with beautifid
costiunes. The Prophet is a sort of priest or
bishop and he has a mother who was Madame
Viardot Garcia; the Prophet was Herr Tamber-
lick. But something happened which was quite
new. The dancing scene is meant to be skating
and it was just begun when every one ran about
in a very excited way. We were in a small box
up at the top of the theatre opposite the royal
box and all of a sudden every one stood up and
cheered and made a great noise. Then we saw
the Queen and Prince Albert come into the box,
and they came to the front and bowed and looked
very pleased. And then Madame Grisi rushed
on the stage in evening dress from her box, she
was not acting, and all the singers sang God save
the Queen. It was a wonderful sight as there had
been a draMring room in the afternoon and every
body was covered with diamonds and dressed very
smart. It was very funny to see Madame Grisi
standing by all the skaters and old-fashioned
people in her evening dress. The reason of it
was. Papa went out and asked the box keeper
what had happened, and he said a man^ had
thrown a stick at the Queen when she was driving
in the Park, but it did not hurt her. So after

^ An ex-officer named Pate. — Ed.

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they had sung God save the Queen, the opera
went on.

Last week we saw the Hugemots. Its all
about Protestants and Catholicks in Paris and
there is a lot of killing. Madame Grisi and
Signor Mario were lovely when they sang a
duet, and then he jumps out of the window,
although she tries to hold him. But the old
servant has such a loud voice and sings so many
hjrmns I don't like him much, for he seems to be
always scolding some one. Its so funny to see
the Queen of France riding about Paris streets
all alone on a white horse ,1 wonder if she really
did. The chorus called the Benedictine is lovely ;
it means blessing the swords. The stage is full
of men and soldiers and monks and priests and
princes and they all stand and sing holding up
their swords, and then they all run up to the
prompter's box. And then they turn roimd and
walk quietly back like the archery ladies and
when they get to the back of the scene they turn
round and run to the prompter and sing again
with their swords up. I don't know why they bless
their swords twice. Mamma said that was what
they were doing when they held up their swords.

I don't care for dancing even on the skates, but
some people do very much and I was reading
yesterday about 4 very celebrated dancers years
ago in a ballet called the Seasons. They were
called Taglioni, Cerito, Carlotta Grisi and Fanny


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Elsler and the person who wrote about them talks
such nonsense I think you will laugh at him. You
know a ballet is a sort of play where they act but
do not speak or sing. The book is called the
Mirror of Fashion and it was written in 1888,
And this is what he says. ^You will see in a
few minutes the most divine dancer TaglionL'
Fancy a divine dancer ! no one would write like
that now! *Her form and motion suggest the
most exquisite images of beauty. She sets us
dreaming rather than reasoning — and carries us
into a world of spiritual Fancies, out of the world
of Thoughts. In Taglioni there is an aerial
simplicity, a purity of taste, and an involuntary
grace, that contrast strikingly with the voluptuous
energy, the poetical license, and startling grandeiu*
of the Elsler — ^the dove and the eagle are not
more opposite. The step and mien of Taglioni
are as soft and touching as the beatific visions
of some of oxa old saints. Fortunate for the
anchorites that such visions vanished with their
sleep 1 Had the angels, that visited their slumbers,
lingered in their cells in such shapes, the world
would have lost some of their fine treatises on
dogmatic theology and ghostly inflictions.' I
don't know what all that means, do you ? I don't
see how dancers can be like angels as they wear
very short petticoats and show their legs and
angels wear long gowns which don't stick out and
cover them all up except their feet and no shoes,


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and dancers wear satin shoes. I saw lots of
angels at the National Gallery one day |[when
Miss Jolly took us all. And here is some more
about the dancers which Mr. Rose, Papa's French
friend said was quite true about them. * Taglioni's
elasticity is even more remarkable than that of
the Elslers. She floats like a blush of light before
our eyes ; we cannot perceive the subtle means by
which she contrives, as it were, to disdain the
earth, and to deliberate her charming motions
into the air. The dance is an acted Poem,
sparkling with images, which, reduced to words,
would resemble the brilliant conceits of Carew
and Suckling.' I found them out in the Dick-
tionary and they were poets a long time ago, but
I don't know who he means is conceited, do you ?
*She relieves the office of wings, without their
encumbrance. Her sweetness and gentleness have
a wooing tone, which breathes from her with no
more external appearance than the aroma from
flowers; and she sometimes seems to fade away
like a gossamer caressed by the winds.' The
Dicktionary says gossamer means the down of

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