Letters from Frank Pollard to Mary Spence Watson
(with nine from Mary to Frank, and one from Frank to Robert Spence Watson)
Frank to Mary:
It was very good of you to let me read your letter to Arnold—I have felt it almost an intrusion upon something sacred, but have read it over and over again. Need I say how constantly I have thought of you during the last few days, and of your life with its aching sense of loss always there? Your letter to him helps me to see better, though I knew it well before, what Arnold must have been to you, and how blank the coming days must seem.
My own sense of loss (and it is very great) gives me some little idea of yours. I miss him more than I can say, and every time I pass his door, I think of calling to see him or ask him to tea, and then remember the vacant room. I’m afraid I get little consolation from the ordinary religious talk at such a time. To me the only happy thing is to remember his pure and lovable and sympathetic heart—the memory and influence of which must be a treasure for ever. You must forgive me writing like this, as though my own loss could for one moment be compared with yours: but it is through this that I can enter a little into your grief, and wish, however vain it may be, to comfort you a little.
I have got the picture which was so very kindly given me, hanging up now in my room—I was immensely grateful for it, but I don’t think any memento will ever be needed.
By the bye I almost think that our football pump, of which Arnold was the custodian, must have got packed up among his things. I hope everything was all right, in the boxes and things.
Mr Fowler has been spending Sunday at the Hall, and we have had some delightful talks—he has been writing a bit of an account of the Griffin trip, in ‘Blue and Gold’, the Sidcot Old Scholars’ magazine—it is to appear in about ten days I think—I shall certainly get a copy—I wonder if you would like to see it. I hear there is some chance of Joe Wigham’s getting over to a Griffin party at Mr West’s in January: it’ll be great sport to see him again, and I expect he’ll bring his lantern slides.
I should like immensely to see my brother’s letter, if I might: I am sending back thy own herewith. If I had dared, I would have begun this letter as thou signed thyself there; but I thought I’d better not without leave from thee. May I? But I’m not sure that I want to.
I wonder what the remark was thou began to make –‘when you write to me’, just as I was coming away on Tuesday evening—thine very sincerely,
PS. I hope you are all keeping well, and are not utterly knocked up with the strain. How is Ruth? Please give my best regards to everybody.
PPS. By the bye we were so grateful for the lunch on Wednesday: we had quite a luxurious time in the train. It is awfully difficult settling to work again—E.F.H. has quite given it up as a bad job.
Mary to Frank:
We are all here now, but Evie and Ernest, who are coming to-morrow. I hope you arrived home safely, but I expect you found the journey rather awkward, with your bad knee. Will you have to lie up all the holidays? I wish you could have come here, so that we might read to you and look after you, but I’m sure Mrs Pollard will do that much better than we could. You must come and stay with us sometime at home.
This is a lovely house, and very comfortable. The baby is delighted with her new nursery.
Father has not been at well—in fact he was in bed all yesterday, but I think this air will soon do him good. Somehow the least illness makes us so anxious now, and the other night Ruth and I were wakened by a telegram (about the Russian Bourtzeff) and really we hardly could open it—our nerves are still so queer.
This house is close to the sea, and about a mile from the station.
We left Tommy behind, but perhaps are going to send for him.
I feel so utterly miserable that I don’t seem to have anything to say.
Mind you don’t begin to try and walk too soon. I do hope you will soon be better, and that you will have a happy Christmas, and a very happy New Year.
Yours very sincerely,
Mary Spence Watson.
[This letter enclosed a hand painted card of the Griffin in a Loch:]
Frank to Mary:
Thanks muchly for your nice long letter—it refreshed me very much—I was beginning to think you were never going to write—I suppose it was only about ten days, but that seemed a tremendously long while—I’m so greedy you see.
How very naughty of you to talk like that about being stupid and ignorant: just as though I couldn’t mention scores of things that you know heaps about and I know nothing at all. The first thing that occurs to me, is how to write a three sheet letter, which shall be interesting and nice from beginning to end; the next is how to paint pictures of Scotch lochs for Christmas Cards. There are two things straight off, that I should like very much to do but can’t, and you can.
I got back to the Hall yesterday afternoon. My knee is getting on very well, and I am doing a bit of walking now, generally with a large stick. Dr Brown came to see it this morning, and is quite satisfied with it; I may do a little gentle walking. I am back in my own room now, which is a blessing, though it is a fearful way off everywhere, with a terrible array of steps to be gone up and down.
Falkner came back today, and seems in good form I think, though rather tired with dances; he is full of his dancing, which he has been learning these holidays. Joe has been showing me his sister’s and Miss Grace’s photographs, and I am ordering about sixteen of them—many of them are very good indeed.
Thanks for the receipt: my mother made some according to it, but the result though very nice wasn’t much like the real original; for one thing it wouldn’t go properly hard: I wonder what was wrong.
What a funny idea of yours that the men always get the best of it; why, I thought it was a recognized fact that women always got their own way, and men had to do what they were told. I certainly never could get my own way on the Griffin—at any rate I always did what you told me, very meekly, whether it was not to drink any more tea, or to sing a song, or to be lazy and stay on board instead of going on shore. But perhaps you meant husbands and wives.
I don’t know whether this letter will find you at home, or whether you’ll have gone to Leicester—and you never sent your address! You are quite right in a way about the little Tommy, but you can imagine, can’t you, why I wanted to have it.
Tomorrow I am going to Birmingham to the Teachers’ Conference. I’m afraid I shan’t be able to get about to see the places they are going to visit, but that doesn’t matter much—the main thing is the meetings, and seeing people. I am looking forward to hearing your sister’s paper very much.
Yes, I remember the cat at Dunvegan very well: I was rather in a rage that evening I fancy, which was probably Joe’s fault or yours—it generally was: but I quite recovered I remember before going to sleep. There is to be a Griffin party at Penketh on Saturday, as perhaps you know: don’t forget to be present in spirit if you can’t be in the flesh. And what have I got to sing please?
I have been reading heaps of novels in the holidays; among other Black’s ‘White Wings, a Yachting Romance’, which you’ve very likely met with—it’s all about the parts we went to, and is very readable I think for those who’ve seen the places. And his picture of yachting life brought back very vividly the pleasures of our time there. Curiously enough two others that I read—Marion Crawford’s Dr Claudius, and Black’s Mad Cap Violet were about yachting too.
I will do my best to believe in your shyness if you’ll promise to try and believe in mine. I hope you’ll remember to pay some visits up in this part of the world when your time there comes to an end.
With best regards,
Yours very sincerely, Frank.
You never told me what to sing, so what was I to do? Well, I sang ‘To Anthea’ and ‘I’ll Sing the songs of Araby’, thinking you might have chosen those. Was it a punishment for saying I was greedy of your letters, that you kept me waiting still longer this time? I began to wonder what terrible offence I had committed, and I almost thought of beginning this letter: Dear Miss Spence Watson. But I must be rather a nuisance, I expect,—for which I apologize.
Do you remember the sweets with mottos on? I remember three very well, namely—‘I can’t understand you’, ‘Have I offended you?’ and ‘Come and sit beside me’. I think I must buy some with those on, and send them at appropriate times: —especially the last.
I am glad it is nice where you are, but am awfully sorry you’re so homesick. But perhaps you are feeling more at home now. How long are you staying there?
How comic about the smoke! But really I hardly ever smoke during the term; only that was just at the beginning when I had a few left over from the holidays.
When will you come and make some toffee in my room? Falkner and I as usual have all sorts of wonderful schemes in the air. The amount of time he and I spend in discussing his affairs (i.e. of course him and A.T.) is terrible, and I don’t think it’s very profitable. I have had to come round almost to your view of the case: it seems a very extraordinary situation—they seem to know one another’s feelings exactly, and so choose to continue the friendship—he of course hoping for something better. Will he get it? I think I would bet on his doing so: but I expect you know more about that than I do.
I expect my paper will be printed in the Friends’ Quarterly Examiner, which I suppose won’t be till somewhere about April. I could of course send you the manuscript if you would really like to see it. I was annoyed that there was hardly any time for discussion on it; as I wanted to hear it treated in a more practical way than I had done, by people of experience. Albert’s paper was on Science Teaching, or rather its place in the School Curriculum; and a splendid thing it was I thought—so clear and racy.
My leg is getting on beautifully thanks: I can manage straight forward walking all right now, and am only wearing an elastic kneecap.
I’m not sure whether I dare go beyond a single sheet,—may I? Besides it has just struck twelve, so I must say goodnight.
With best regards,
Yours very sincerely, Frank.
Thanks immensely for your delightful letter. I am so glad you like the Guy Mannering: and whatever do you mean about wasting money? I am sending you my paper herewith: I don’t think you will find it particularly deep, but I’m afraid it’s often very vague and general, too much so to be of much use.
I have read your letter about fifty thousand times, to speak Griffinese; there is only one paragraph that I don’t altogether enjoy, and I don’t quite know what to say about that, except that if it ever was true, it is certainly not so now. Perhaps I have no heart, or perhaps I have too much sense to sigh for the moon: anyway, if every wound had as pleasant and good a case, it would be nice. I wonder if you understand that, and what you will think of me if you do. I have been wondering ever since the middle of August whether I understand it myself.
I can’t remember being angry on Rum, but what made it seem impossible that you could be right was that I did not see how to defend her conduct from the charge of being cruel and heartless, if it was so. But since then I have gathered from what Falkner has said, that they understand one another’s positions exactly, and take the risk as it were—which explains it and makes it all right. But don’t you think there must be more in her feelings than she knows herself, to make her take such a course? That is my theory—but I am getting rather out of my depth.
I am writing this in the afternoon as you won’t let me sit up late; my last letter to you was written later than ever, namely between twelve and two on Saturday night, as I was going to be out all Sunday. I think it is rather a nice time for writing letters—everything’s quiet, and you don’t get disturbed, and also you don’t feel that you ought to be doing work all the time.
I am glad you’re enjoying your singing lessons; I am always meaning to take a lot more myself, but practising would be difficult to manage at the Hall, and in the holidays one’s never long enough in the same place. I wish I could learn some duets with you; ‘Maying’ for instance is a lovely thing; do you know it to sing? If not will you learn it? And I will, and then we’ll sing it some day. I will certainly sing Mandalay at Mr West’s.
What tremendous fun about the French! But I can’t claim to be good at it; I am fairly good at reading it, but as for composition and conversation, I’m afraid I’m very little use. Still if you like to take me as I am, of course I should like doing it immensely, but only on one condition and that is that the French letters are all extra ones—it wouldn’t do for them to take the place of the English ones at all. Can you write as nice ones in French as in English? Never mind about making them short; it’ll be good practice for me too.
The idea of your shopping in the carriage makes me quite frightened. I wish some one would leave me fifty thousand pounds.
Falkner, Gibbins and I are going to the Elijah tonight, by Halle’s Orchestra and choir; and Santley is singing. I am tremendously fond of the Elijah; some of the choruses are so terrific, and there’s such a splendid dramatic interest about the whole—a thing that is quite absent of course from the Messiah for instance.
I got my bundle of Arnold’s letters back today from Gateshead, with a letter from your sister; she says she is over head and ears with preparations, and is also learning housekeeping. I’m sure you ought to be at home teaching her. By the bye, I want your advice very much on two things. I should like to give her a wedding present—do you think she would like it or not? I think myself she would, but am not quite sure. And secondly, if so, can you suggest anything at all likely? I think I should choose a book as the most appropriate present from me, but I haven’t thought of anything yet, and of course I don’t know what she’s got.
Your letter was ‘rather a nice one’, and if it was stupid, I hope you’ll always and often write stupid letters. I’m sorry I imagined such ‘absurd thing’, but one does got taken that way sometimes. Besides, ‘only 2 or 3 weeks’!
Of course it will be terrible for you to come back to Manchester, much more to visit the Hall, yet awhile. I’m afraid the tea party Falkner and I used to plan is still in the distance; indeed it can never be what it was to have been. Did you ever hear of the things Arnold said about it in the early days of his delirium? It is awfully nice having that photograph of him; I’ve got it on my mantelpiece. I bought one of the cabinets too, but it is of course nothing like as good. A good many were bought in the Hall I fancy.
I think you will get the Griffin in a very few days now: mind and be present in the spirit at Mr West’s on Saturday week, and ‘come and sit beside me’. Do you remember how we used to keep each other’s feet warm in the cabin?
With best regards,
Yours very sincerely, Frank
Ma chère Marie
Thank you so much for your letter, with the interesting account of the wedding: it was very good of you to write to me then. Parts of it grieved me greatly, especially the part crossed out, which I read in spite of you: it is dreadful for you to think like that, when there are so many to love you, some too who love you better than anything else in the world. I hardly like to speak of it again, but I still think that a few days with us in Wensleydale would do you a lot of good and that you would enjoy it too when it came to the point.
I have been quite in the dumps lately, what with your not coming with us at Easter, and then too I hear (thought I don’t believe it) that you won’t be at York at Whitsuntide—in fact I’m beginning to think I shall never see you again. Some times even I get worse and think you wouldn’t mind if I didn’t. Won’t you run over for Easter Sunday any way?
I am sorry to have dropped into politeness; it occurred to me that other was cheeky. I might retort, why do you always wind up so politely, ‘coldly’ in fact? I will send back your French letters only on condition you send them back to me again: I’m sorry you tore it up—I really wanted it.
Yes, I think I shall speak to you if we ever do meet: in fact I back up rational dress immensely. You must have yourself photographed in it, and send me one.
I’ll send you our Wensleydale address next letter. Tomorrow I’m going home. Almost everybody has gone now, and we are having a nice quiet day or two. Falkner and I have had Dora Brockbank and Alice Lunt to tea this evening, and have had quite a jolly time. Then we saw them home, and spent the evening at the Lunts: they are both great sport.
Falkner has been considerably bowled over by his last letter from Liverpool, which seems to have been ‘horrid’. He’s hardly done any work since; in fact plays billiards and smokes cigarettes all day, and talks to me all night. The other day we had a bit of a Griffin party at the theatre—Miss Scott, Mr Fowler, Joe and I went to see the Second Part of Henry IV, enjoyed it immensely. Nearly all the chief parts were very good: especially Falstaff, Justice Shallow, and Mistress Quickly.
How is the Cookery Examination getting on? Please send me a copy of it; I should be most interested. Is it written, or is there practical work to be done? When will you give me some lessons in the subject? I’ve been getting a jolly lot of reading done this last week, as a lot of my work had stopped because of the College exams. I’ve managed among other things to finish that philosophy book that I began in the cabin of the Griffin: do you remember? I think it was just before a game of pounce patience with you, and I’m afraid I didn’t take in much of what I was reading.
I am quite hoping to be able to play cricket all right next term: that will be jolly. The other day I got into football clothes for the photo of the team: I felt tremendously tempted to go and play—it made one feel quite young again, instead an ancient party too old for active exercise, as I’ve generally been feeling like lately. Another thing that makes me feel horribly old is to hear of fellows that I’ve taught getting engaged.
I am sending you a programme of our Social of a week or so ago. It was a tremendous success: Mr Neild was here and several old students whom it was very jolly to see again. Schwann and I sang ‘Friendship’, which was liked very much I think: he wanted to change all the ‘he’s’ and ‘his’es’ to ‘she’s’ and ‘her’s’, but I wouldn’t. He is a very interesting case, being at present over head and ears in love: Falkner and I see a good deal of him, Falkner sympathizing with him, and I lecturing him. But it is very amusing, or would be if it wasn’t rather perilous.
My lecture came off all right I think at the Institute here, though some did say they hadn’t understood a word—I believe they meant it for the highest praise. Mr Neild made an amusing speech, in which he said that when he was a small boy, he imagined the soul was shaped like one of those lard bags that hang in the shops. I think I used to have much the same idea.
Falkner is just now deep in my David Copperfield—you may imagine what drew him to that one particularly. I tell him the finest character in the book is Betsy Fastwood, and next to her comes the Dora episode: but I’m afraid he won’t agree with me.
I don’t a bit like this letter, but perhaps there’s no harm in sending it. And now I must say good night (I always think of the Griffin when I write this),—it is awfully late.
With best regards,
I am yours very sincerely, Frank.
P.S. I was so sorry to hear a few days ago of your Mother’s illness: I do hope she is better.
P.P.S. Don’t read this letter in public.
My dear Mary,
As you seem to have signed the pledge against writing to me, I suppose the only thing to do for comfort is to write to you instead. Why are you so cruel? Don’t you know how I long for letters from you, and how I love them when they come? And my hopes rise half a dozen times a day, only to leave me more forlorn. Ah! Mary! I have waited long enough,—don’t you know how I love you with my whole heart and soul, and how there is only one thing in the world for me and that is your love and the right to love you as I long to. How can I sit down and write all this on paper? How cold and weak it looks! How can I tell how I feel, how I long for you always, how I treasure the thought of all the times we have been together, and fancy many many more in the future. Dearest Mary, there is no one else in the world for me but you,—there is nothing else worth having, unless you will be my comrade always. And yet I feel as I write that, how little right I have to ask it, how utterly unworthy I am to dream of anything so beautiful,—how can I dare to put myself beside you? and ask for your own sweet self? I have no right, I am often miserable at thinking how utterly unfit I am—but I love you Mary, and must tell you, and leave my fate to you. Can you ever care for me a little bit? I would spend my life in loving you and serving you.
Do you know how I have thought of you and dreamed of you for months and months? I have lived on the memories of our times together, and the dreams of meeting you again. And then at Easter it suddenly came true—and what a funny time we had! And yet to me it was divine, short and hindered as it was—and some moments in it I have been living through in fancy over and over again. But I have felt ever since that I could not be content with fencing with the subject much more—and now my heart has opened itself to you. It is yours Mary absolutely. I never meant when I began this letter to tell you all this yet: but just sat down, miserable at not hearing from you, and longing to talk to you, and wrote. But I found I must say it: the thought of settling down to proper cold letters again was making me mad. I felt I must risk everything and tell you and hope for the great reward. Oh Mary! The doubt is terrible; and after all what business I have to hope or why you should reward me I don’t know. But I do hope: it is so sweet to think of being able to love openly and fully, and of having such a treasure as your love, how can I help but hope? And yet how can I dare to?
Oh Mary, I wish I could make you understand how I long to see your face again, and hold your hand, as I did on Prudhoe platform: and I dare even to think of ‘passing the Rubicon’: May I?
The thought of the future is only bearable, Mary, if I can hope for your sweet companionship, then it is lovely. Otherwise it is a horrid blank.
Oh! How feeble all these words are to tell you of it all, and how incoherent and clumsy they seem. But you will believe that they are genuine: you will not tell me I exaggerate: I do mean every word I say,—and far more, if anyone ever meant anything.
Oh! If I could hold your hand, and look into your own dear eyes, I might tell you something of my love—it is all I can give you Mary, and it is yours now every bit of it. And what a prize I am asking in return! Your love and your self! Really it is very cheeky of me: but I’m not often cheeky you know, so you must let me off this once. Don’t tell me my hopes are absurd: don’t even say ‘soon’ and run out of the room, but tell me now that you’re going to take pity on me, that I may come and tell my story into your ears, and hear the best news I ever want to hear, from your own lips: Oh Mary it would seem too good to be true; the thought almost terrifies me, I seem to have deserved no such happiness, nor to be fit to think of serving you even afar off. But ‘My true love hath my heart’ and what can I do but tell her, and hope she will believe and understand, though it is only feebly put down here: and hope too that my dreams and fancies may really come true.
There is much more that I ought to say, that you have a right to ask me to say. But I cannot write more till I know my sentence. Yet you will believe what I have said, and may I hope that Mary will even grant me a little of her love, and a hope that the greatest treasure in the world may be mine.
Dearest Mary, don’t think this letter silly—I cannot pause to think of words and phrases, but it is from my heart. How can I live till I hear? But whatever you may think or say, I shall always be yours, Frank
In spite of your postscript I cannot let your letter go without a few words of reply, and one petition. I need not say how absolutely wretched it has made me; and yet, though its news was so terrible,—if anything could have made me love you more, your letter would have done—it was such a beautiful one, though so cruel. But Mary, please, please do not add to my pain by blaming yourself: indeed you must not, you have no cause to. And do you think I would rather have never loved you? Why, it is the only bit of happiness I have left. I suppose I cannot complain that you think me a fickle changeable person: and yet though it may seem so, I do not believe I am. Indeed I know that what I told you was no passing feeling, and some day you may perhaps believe me.
There is only one way in which your greatest wish can come about, and that is by your filling the place yourself: that is my dearest, my only, and my everlasting wish. I am utterly stricken to think of having given you so much sorrow—and I will do anything you ask—if you like, we will go on writing just as before—it can be done: or if you prefer, we will break utterly. If it is any comfort to you, you may feel sure that to serve you in any way however small, will always be my greatest indeed my only happiness, whether on occasions when we meet, as we shall have to, or by avoiding you if that would please you best. As to telling your Father and Mother, you will of course do what you feel to be best: I cannot and do not object in the least.
But enough of all this—I have one thing to beg for, Mary, and if you have any pity or feeling for me at all, you will grant it. It is that I may see you. A thing like this cannot be settled in a couple of letters. Let us meet one another, Mary. I am perfectly certain it will be best for both of us. It is a small thing to ask in a matter of this kind. Your first impulse will be to refuse; but do not obey it—it is my one little request and you may trust me not to give you needless pain. Let us go for instance to Prudhoe—I could get up from here and have just the same time there that I had before. It is because I think we should understand one another better, and it would save unhappiness, that I ask this: do not refuse it me, Mary. If it cannot be managed before, couldn’t we have Whitmonday afternoon at York, or Tuesday? but that is a very long time to wait.
Dearest Mary, if I may call you so once more, grant this one wish of mine: believe me mine is no passing feeling as you suppose—it is a question of the greatest happiness and privilege and duty throughout life, or a life—bearable I suppose—but with all the best gone from it. And it is this best that has been, and is still my dearest wish and hope.
May I say again that neither I nor yourself nor anyone else have any right or cause to reproach you in the very least for anything you have done. Your friendship in the past and my own true and lasting love are my only treasures left.
Ever yours, Frank
Your letter was very kind, and it is a great comfort to think of being able to see and talk to you. How would it be for you to come to Manchester from London? That would be all right as you have told your sister—I could see you there. But if that doesn’t suit, I will come to Prudhoe the first day after you get back. I can manage to be free any day next week except Thursday, or any day this week.
I don’t know of any reason why Arnold should have said what he did in his illness.
Ah Mary, the help I want is help to win your love, and that no one can give me, I’m afraid.
Ever yours, Frank.
Dear Mary, there is no question of forgiveness; but it is more awful than I can tell you to have all one’s happy memories and all happy hopes cut off at one stroke—but indeed they are not quite cut off yet. I cannot help hoping even yet that our happy friendship may some day grow to something far dearer. Forgive me for this: it is perhaps utter madness—but though so very faint and often dead, it is very sweet. I shall hope then to see you in a few days.
It was such a refreshing delight to get a letter from you again after all these weary months: especially a nice chummy letter that made one feel we were not utterly parted. I will never believe that with such memories of joy and sorrow we can become strangers or mere acquaintances: it seems madness to dream of it. I should like very much indeed to see Arnold’s letters to you—any that you think I might see: I am quite sure they would all interest me. I delivered your message to Gill and Gibbins: we are all glad if any sympathy we have given has helped at all during this time. When I read some parts of your letter I long to be able to do some little thing to comfort you—and I may not! Oh sometimes it makes me almost mad.
It is so lovely to be able to sit down and talk to you again: I wonder if you have any idea what this six months has been to me—a time of utter loneliness, when everything seemed purposeless, and all zest was gone from life. If I had followed your advice and forgotten, I should have had nothing left: but as it is, I have had one treasure and have kept it bright. If it is ever anything to you, Mary, that there is someone whose best hope is to be able to make you happy in any way however small, and who longs always to give his life to it, you must remember it, and let me serve you. Confess, Mary, that my love is not quite as flimsy a thing as you fancied: how could it be when it is all given to one who to me is all loveliness and love, all the dreadful faults she talks about and everything.
Forgive me Mary—I have been miserably silent all this time, and have felt that you never really understood what I felt. But now I will be very ‘sensible’, and will begin at the beginning.
First I want to thank you again properly for the Songs of the North, which have been a beautiful keepsake: but it was dreadful to send it without a word—I thought of sending it back. Also you really must come soon and write in it. And do you know, it’s nearly all about ‘M’hairi’. And then for your lovely card in September: it was very sweet of you to remember me then—it came like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
I read the diary very carefully every day in August, but it is getting rather dim in parts, not being in ink like yours. You have never seen it since it had its additions have you?
I am actually playing football again, much to my own surprise. But by playing with a strong leather support on the knee, and beginning very gradually, I have lasted so far. I was over at York playing an Old Scholars Match not long ago and stayed the night. And at the meeting house had the treat of hearing Ruth sing: her song Bonny Bobby somebody was running in my head for long afterwards. Also Mrs Richardson she sang ‘Went thou in the cauld blast’, which carried me back to the drawing room at Bensham. I hope you have been doing plenty of singing lately.
Do you know I am going as a master to Bootham after Easter? I shall be very sorry to leave Manchester, but glad for many things to get into a school again, though the life won’t be quite so free.
Faulkner is in rather a bad way: what is to be done with him? He says he has had enough of these alternations of hope and depression, and is going to drop all writing for a few months. I don’t know whether the mood will last, but that is what it is at present. A.J. is coming over to help at our stall at the Bazaar: a very funny thing for her to do, don’t you think? I hear you are going to make a cake: what kind will it be? Chocolate?
How very naughty to write letters at such a time of night: though there is certainly something to be said for it. It is at present half past twelve—quite like old times. Talking of old times, I hope this doesn’t smell of smoke—Jeanie actually gave me a pipe when we were in Devonshire, and I occasionally use it. You’ll have to write and scold her.
Don’t you think you can get over to Manchester before long, Mary? It would be so delicious to see you again, and a good talk is better than twenty letters. And another thing is, mayn’t I have a real proper photograph, Mary?
I think I’ve written a selfish enough letter this time at any rate. Forgive me if I have said anything to give you pain: and forgive me too for taking for granted that you would care about our writing to one another again: perhaps I am quite wrong and am only troubling you—if so, you must blame my foolish hopes. I will promise utter obedience in future—I will be as sensible as you like: but will only consent to be quite silent, if you can honestly tell me that it will make you happier. May I not be allowed to judge about my own side of the question? And whose happiness has the arrangement for this six months increased? If your, Mary, we will continue it; but surely not otherwise—
Ever yours, Frank.
Forgive this selfish letter: I have read your sad one over and over again, and feel as utterly unable to help as I should like. To me the only real consoling power seems to be found in the service of others, and all religious comfort seems to me to find reality there. But what where the sorrow is that one may not serve as one would love to?
Do you know Whittier’s ‘To my friend on the death of his sister’? I expect you do. I think it is one of the most beautiful things of the kind ever read.
I got your delightful letter with its still more delightful news in the middle of the Social. There is much I want to say about it, but the thing is to meet as soon as we can, and alone! Can you spare an afternoon this week? I would suggest that I should meet you by the trams by Fallowfield station and that we should then go somewhere together—the Art gallery or my room or somewhere: or if you think it would be more correct, I will call for you at Clifton Avenue.
I don’t know whether you will think this an unsuitable suggestion, but I see no other way of being alone together. And to meet when others are there will be much easier afterwards.
It is dreadful to think of your having been two days in Manchester—and I haven’t seen you.
If you will do this, Mary, I will be by F. station at two tomorrow (Tuesday), or 2.30 on Wednesday. I enclose a note to Mrs Weiss telling her what I am proposing. She will not I think object if you wish it: she promised me she would not interfere again. If neither time suits, then Friday at 3.0 would be the next. But I am longing so to see you—that would be a dreadful age.
Ever yours, Frank.
‘In spite of all you say’, Mary, ‘it has ‘not’ been so’.
Friends Summer School
Sept 4th to 5th 1899
Thursday 6.20 pm
My dear love,
I am hungry, and tired and sleepy, but I have a feeling that I have not put some parts of what I think quite as fully or seriously as I should like. Perhaps it will be more possible to be serious in a letter.
Is it worth while saying anything about one’s early loves? Are you serious in caring about it? Why do I speak of them as being imaginary and more or less sham? Is it because they are over and gone, and shall I say the same of this some day? It is nothing of the kind: it is because then I loved a purely imaginary being, not the reality—for I didn’t know it: do you suppose I ever had an intimacy and comradeship so near and open as yours before—for that is what it is, say what you like. Of course not. My love for you is the first that has been based on knowledge, it is the first I have ever uttered, it is the only one that has really saturated my life—is that not enough for you, Mary? That is why I know it will last.
I think you don’t understand what the giving of his heart to a girl can be to a young man. There is no influence conceivable so strong as this for keeping him straight and true,—he must long to be worthy of her. Alas! would that he was in this case! It is the one comfort I have—and it is a gloomy one indeed—that things are better this way perhaps for I am so wholly unworthy.
You ask me, sweetheart, for a list of your faults; and wonder how I can love you. I don’t know whether I can answer that. What can I say but that to me all that is sweet and lovely; I have a boundless admiration for your genuineness and sincerity—it is not common in women, or so I fancy; and the more I think of it, the more important and the more delightful does this utter absence of sham seem: what is greater than truth? And this is truth of soul.
But I cannot analyze you, Mary—it is your whole dear self that I love. You are my ideal of a sweet and gentle and sympathetic and independent woman. I don’t mean to flatter, and I don’t mean that I think you are perfection: but I hear you say ‘Ah this all shows you don’t know me?’ But that is wrong—It is the one who sees the best that truly knows; the lover’s picture is not imaginary—it has the deepest truth in it by far. I wonder if you understand how a man looks upon the question of married or single life: you seem to look only at the responsibilities and worries of the former—not at all at the self-centeredness and isolation of the latter. To me the pictures are these: on the one side—a life solitary and alone in all the deepest things of life, no one who cares for you to speak of, no one at any rate to whom you are the first thought, no one to cherish and care for yourself—a life shorn of its brightness, and of all, or much, that can make the fight possible and even splendid. On the other hand, a life of true comradeship and union between two lovers—each feeling that with the other life is worth living, and work is worth doing, and some success is possible.
There is a dreadful sense of antagonism in so many married relationships one meets with—to me this seems awful. But a real loving partnership seems the only life worth dreaming of. And forgive me for saying so, if you don’t like it—but I feel often that you and I are not far from this state—one of great interest in all one another’s concerns, one of utter freedom, of close sympathy: what do we talk about except one another? Why do you care what I think about things and what I read, and so on—Is it because you are at all in my state,—who live (or try to) my whole life, as it were, in your sight?
How do I know that I am really and truly in love with you? Because the thought of you is always close to me, even in the busiest times: because I willingly let all engagements and all other intercourse go to the dickens—if I can get one touch of your hand: because at your side I am happy;—when you are away, there is always a blank. Not that I am constantly and permanently feeling some tremendous emotion. Perhaps I am unimaginative and phlegmatic—I don’t know—but I know my heart is steadfastly yours and knows no other mistress.
I have much, sweetheart, to ask your forgiveness for—I get irritated and impatient I know, and unkind, and not much of a lover I expect—but you must believe me when I tell you that my heart is never other than full of love and tenderness for you, and of longing to do anything for your happiness, and to share and help you in your sorrows. There is no day that I do not think of you, but on the day you mentioned I will think of you very specially whatever happens, and if all the thought and sympathy I shall give you then, is some little comfort and help, you know that you will have it, Mary, in abundance—
Forgive this letter—
Ever, Mary, best and dearest, yours, Frank
My dearest Mary,
What can I say in reply to your dear letter? I’m not sure by the bye whether I ought to be replying to it at all. But I promise it shall be a very ‘sensible’ one, if possible.
Your letter was a dear one all the same, full of laughing and crying, like our time at Birmingham—like most of our times together, for that matter. But what I want—I’m very greedy in these things—is a really long one every other day at least, and with a little of Mary’s love in it too. Well, I think there is some in all her letters really, but what would I not give for her to tell it? One of these days she will have to make up for all that has been owing the last year or two.
But this was going to be quite sensible: so I must begin again. Your letter wasn’t half enough about yourself: I feel as though I had been spending all the time lately fighting so to speak, and hadn’t really heard or talked a bit about you. I want to know how the house cleaning is getting on; what you are reading; whether you are obeying orders (as I always do) as regards playing the piano, and are going to play regularly in public; whether Tommy grinned when you came home, and whether he has bitten any boys lately. (I sometimes wonder if we should quarrel on the question of keeping a cat!) Also I want to know what poetry you are learning, and what the passage from Keats was. I shall probably have to take (I half promised to) the Sunday Evening Reading in the Meeting House some time this term or next. What shall I talk about? I have an idea of writing a paper on ‘Religion from a boy’s point of view’—but I’m afraid I haven’t got much further than the subject yet. But I often think boys at school must get horribly mystified as to the connection of all the religious talk they hear, with their own lives. I’m sure I did and do.
Oh the Sunday I was at home at Ackworth (before the Summer School), Albert was there, and gave the school such a splendid talk at the evening reading on privileges and responsibilities—I seldom heard any thing of the kind better. He wound up with that grand old story about Henry IV of France and Crillon—‘Go and hang yourself, Brave Crillon, we have won the fight, and you were not there’.
I am writing this with an Iona penholder that Jeanie gave me at Oban. On the 12th she sent me two ties, which I hope you will like: and Mary wouldn’t give me anything, even though I asked for it!—she really is an obstinate thing, but I’m so much the reverse, that it’ll be all right.
I didn’t know before that the Old Maid Castles in the air were pleasant ones: I thought you resigned yourself to them because you thought you were cut out for an old maid by nature; and now that you find you aren’t, why they must go.
I am wondering what the point is exactly in not seeing me, and in waiting. I will put up with waiting, Mary, if we may see a good deal of one another. But as for complete separation I see neither rhyme nor reason in it. What is the good of seeing if you can’t forget and cease to care,—for that is what it comes to.
Supposing, when we are not together, there do come hard unfeeling sort of times when one hardly seems to care for anything or anybody—well, that proves nothing: that is not your real self—the real one is the one that always gets the upper hand again, the lasting one, the one that feels strongly—that is the one to follow. I wonder if all this touches your case, does it, Mary? You don’t know how my heart aches, sweetheart, to help you across the abyss. Isn’t it conceited of me to think that that will bring you happiness? I think when I have won Mary, I shall be quite unbearable. I think you had better come to York for a few weeks or months—and then if you get quite sick of me,—why, I’ll go to New Zealand or something of that sort, and the matter will be settled.
How jolly it will be some day for us to look back out of a region of serenity and happiness, upon these stormy times.
Ever, Mary dearest,
Your lover, Frank.
p.s. I’m sorry about changing the name, but don’t see what can be done.
p.p.s. I have just been buying ‘Frankadillo’: can you tell me the composer and keys and ranges of ‘The Milkmaid’? I tried to get it and they showed me two settings of it, and neither the right one!
I wonder if I have sufficiently collected myself after your letter to reply. Any way I will try, and there shall be no love or forgiveness in it—it shall be grim argument—not that there is any use in further discussion after your ultimatum.—but—well, a man likes to have the last word you know.
I still consider that your coming to York for three months and our seeing as much of one another as possible, followed if you like by a few months’ separation, would be the better plan both from your point of view and mine. Unless of course the object is to see if you can’t forget me—in which case why not make sure and call it twenty years instead. Here is a maiden in a difficult position of loving and not loving—an unhappy sight—it is not that she is not very happy when she’s with him, not that she does not miss him when he’s away (it seems incredible, but she says so)—but it is that when she’s away from him, all the difficulties and worries come to her mind, the misgivings and the shrinking gets the upper hand. What then? So they do, I am certain, in most people at times, even the most ardent.
But life is not to be passed away from him, but with him. Every one has times of misgiving and shrinking from such a tremendous step, which comes when the loved one is not there. What is to be done? Why, they are to be smashed utterly, and kicked out. Is the remedy utter separation for a while? Surely not, it is daily intercourse, so that there shall not be passing times of dreamland at long intervals, but lives that intertwine more and more—which will cease to fear the humdrum of married life, for the ‘happy dream’ will be sure to pass into settled daily real happiness.
That is my view as far as I can put it into a few words.
Goodness me! What a pity we aren’t living in the days when a woman was carried off by main force: I really believe that is the only treatment that will meet your case.
But of course if you dread marriage so awfully as you say, there’s no more to be said—and I’m afraid I shan’t be much richer in two years time.
And let us look at the other alternative—if you were to give an utter and emphatic refusal. You must not think that we could know ever again the intimacy of the last year or two; not, l mean, that a friendship would be impossible, but that ours has been much, so very much, more. We shouldn’t go walks together by our two selves, oh dear me no! We shouldn’t love to talk (or if we did, we should have to refrain) of all the times we have had together, in which all the least details have a magic of their own. Certainly not! We should talk about the weather and the crops. No more happy dreams for us—(dreams by the bye which were not happy because of passing feeling and sentiment, but because of a sense that we belonged to one another, because all our interests and thoughts and sympathies were so honed together—and that I think is a reason that will stand the test of humdrum life). Of course you would burn all my letters, and even Guy Mannering and the brooch had better be put out of sight I should think. And I—well never mind about me.
Such I think is the picture that we ought to face with equanimity if we took such a step. And if we can’t do it with comparative equanimity, we are taking a step which is against our deepest feelings—and why? Because when alone, the anxieties are more prominent in our minds than the love which shall over shadow them; because we can imagine ourselves falling in love with somebody else—Pooh! I can imagine any mortal thing—from committing murder to being Pope of Rome. Or is it because we think happiness consists in outward things, and not in the deepest facts of comradeship and love? Well, well, I have said my say, but you will go your own way probably. I should say don’t name any period—you will only feel as tho’ a decision was hanging over you. I will promise not to ask you again for a long while, and I will not feel bound by anything except my own heart. And Mary must promise to tell me of her own accord, if she changes—
One thing more—there is no question of forgiveness. I should be the last person to blame any one for giving the most anxious thought to such a tremendous step. And as to anything else, your feelings being as they have been, I don’t see how you could have acted otherwise—indeed it would have been wrong, for it might have spoilt our future happiness. Believe me, Mary, I have never blamed you in my lightest thought.
Two years is a long time! Mary will deepen all her other friendships, and form new ties perhaps, and ours will be forgotten, will they? And I—well, perhaps Mary’s image in my heart and my love for her will keep me from growing quite selfish and crusty. Do not dream that I shall forget, sweetheart.
Ever yours, Frank.
Many, many thanks for your long letter and the hymn. There’s no hurry about the Milkmaid or the notes. It is such a great grief to me, dearest, that I seem to have brought so little but perturbation and unhappiness into your life!
I’m so glad about the music.
I’m not sure whether letters are still legitimate, or whether, after the ultimatum negotiations are broken off. But this is just by way of returning the notebook—for which many thanks. They are very good notes, though sometimes too brief to be understandable by one who didn’t hear the lectures. I made one correction.
Best thanks also for something else—what sport! Mary’s given in, for once—but daren’t own it! The idea of your being like Dora is very comic. Didn’t you know I’d chosen you because you were such a good cook? I think you are a mixture of Elizabeth Bennet, Catriona, Bella Wilfer, Little Dorrit and Mary Garth:—all their good points that is; I don’t think you’re mercenary, as Bella was.
I had chocolate and a walk with Bertha last night, which was good for me spiritually. I think you are a riddle—one’ll need a life time to work you out—so it’s just as well that I’m to have it (in two years time?)
Don’t imagine, if I say nothing more, that I am convinced. I don’t see any reason why a party should fall in love with some one she never sees or speaks to. As to coming to York, if it is best, it ought to be managed. Observe my selfishness—but when a man is fighting for his life, he may be selfish.
Shall we make a bargain? I’ll promise not to think you so good, if you’ll promise not to think me so good—that’ll settle it.
All the same, Mary is and always will be to me the best and sweetest and dearest and loveliest, Frank.
My dear Mary,
I send herewith a just payment of my just debts. It makes one more letter for you to answer – but I’ll let you off the rest, if one of these days you will reply to the one of last June: don’t you think it deserves one? I think you will. Any way don’t be angry with me for anything I have done or may do,
Yours ever, Frank.
p.s. It was so very, very lovely to see you, dear Mary! I think if you knew what a breath of fresh air you bring to me, you would have compassion on me oftener.
I thought I must try and write you a few lines tonight,—in spite of all the good reasons there may be against it. I often think of what you asked me once at Birmingham—do you remember?—to think of you at this time of the year, and how I was rather angry and wouldn’t promise. But I think you know that I always have done, and have longed to help you. I was going over again with Mrs Richardson, the other day, the events of that terrible week five years ago. But after all what one really loves to recall is Arnold himself—his truly sympathetic spirit, and his unswerving loyalty to what he thought he ought to do. Knowing him even as a pupil and a friend, I can see these qualities so clearly still, and feel them to be a good memory: for you, Mary, I can dimly see what a loving comrade he must have been to you, and what a precious possession you have been stripped off since he left us.
I wonder how you find your way, or what way you find, through these mysteries. I only know that the memories of those we have lost—their images in our hearts—are treasures to be kept safe and bright, and presences that we must try and be worthy of: and that no loss or grief must hinder our playing a man’s or woman’s part in the world. But that is much, don’t you think? Yes, and there is this too—that we may all try,—and surely you and I, Mary, among the rest—to be as Stevenson says, ‘even down to the gates of death, loyal and loving one to another.’
Forgive my writing—but the time is so short since I held my own brother’s hand for the last time and heard his last wishes for me, that I thought I should like a little talk with you about these things.
I wonder if I shall see your father at Leeds or Manchester on the Peace Deputation visits: I haven’t had an invitation from Newcastle yet!!
Yours ever, Frank.
My dear Mary,
I cannot keep myself from writing to you to say what happiness you let me have for a while yesterday—short and interrupted tho’ it was. It was so delicious and refreshing to hear your dear voice again, and hold your hand. Don’t let it be so long again before you give me a little light in the darkness.
I am keeping the present yet a while after all; so you’ll have to wait a bit. When I receive your diary—which I want to see very very much—I’ll send you mine: but you’d find it very prosaic, I’m sure. I’m better at writing other people’s diaries than my own—and even then only with assistance, and in the most comfortable of circumstances.
I have been taking in hand lately a number of Albert’s papers with a view to printing them in a small volume for private circulation: I wonder if you would like one when they come out: they are educational and religious mostly.
It is uncommonly difficult to settle to humdrum work this morning—especially for me—hence (perhaps) this letter, while I have a little time free.
I was interested in your learning Latin—tho’ I think (I had to stop here—and I can’t for the life of me remember how sentence was going on!). Why Latin I wonder? Why not Greek? or Psychology? I recommend that. I live in permanent admiration of your wonderous energy. I feel as though I never succeeded in getting anything done myself: and the number of things to do grows day by day—books to read, methods of teaching to work up or think about, one thing after another—and where is the time?
I am hoping to get over to Manchester to the Old Students’ Gathering on the 20th; and shall see Falkner and Agnes in their new united bliss—I am glad to hear he is ‘splendid’.
But the modern education, we understood last night, turns out ‘incomparable old maids’! It will be a grim failure if it does nothing better than that, won’t it?
I had ten thousand things to say yesterday, but want of time, or of ease and peace, (or perhaps it was shyness!) prevented: and I haven’t said many even now—
Yours ever, Mary, Frank.
15.VI. [no year or envelope, but it appears to fit in here]
My dearest Mary, I have only a minute or two before post time, having only just about heard of your having gone home—but I must send a word or two. I would have come to the Station, only was on duty at 4.0 for the rest of the day.
I have been in a state of mingled perplexity and joy, all day: joy because I think you are going to make me happy—but I have an uneasy impression from your words yesterday, that it feels to you like something mainly dreadful and that you are making a sacrifice for my sake. You know I hope that I long for your happiness too much to think of your doing that. But it isn’t so really—I know it isn’t—it is natural enough just before the step is taken to think over all the changes and responsibilities. Are you convinced—Mary, that I wasn’t a bit shocked! I do believe very strongly in free discussion of such things at the outset. And do believe, Mary, that I long for your happiness, and have a boundless reverence for you, as well as love.
Well! Mary—it was rather horrid to part having had so little but argument—but when we meet again soon it will be different—we shall be starting on the more perfect comradeship of lovers. Ah sweetheart! It seems too good to be true. It will be no more endless and fruitless discussions—but loving and learning to love more and more, and growing more closely bound together.
And for me to try more than ever to be worthy of your own sweet self—and now good night.
You know you have all my best love, my own dearest Mary,
Yours always and always, Frank.
[Undated letter, but fairly obviously August 1903]
My own dear Sweetheart,
We shall be so late into Ackworth that I shall scarcely catch the post even for a little note to thee. Hence this scrap in the train.
I ran off to catch my train, remembered my bag on the platform, couldn’t find it, scrambled into my train as it was going, and found the bag in the van at York! Some kind porter.
Did thou have a comfortable journey? and art thou going to have a good night undisturbed by toothache or any other trouble?
I wish I was holding thy dear hand now, and could be with thee to face the formidable things in store—I feel as happy as seventeen kings, and prouder than any—
Thine forever and ever, Mary dearest, Frank.
27.VIII. [no year]
My dearest comrade,
I am lying on my bed—at about 10.45—and in my usual rather cowardly way, am going to write what I have not succeeded in saying.
What was I to say this afternoon? I feel that perhaps I did not denounce you as I ought: but then how can I tell your blameworthiness? I do not imagine that you did it deliberately, then was it just a case of not knowing your own mind? and if so, ought you to have known it, or ought you to have acted differently at some point? I cannot tell these things, but if you feel you have done wrong, I will not make light of it: let us only hope it will not bring more suffering than can be helped—and also of course make sure that there is no doubt left now. That is of course assuming that there is no doubt—is that correct? I wonder why you went part way and then stopped. Did you think you loved him? and find you didn’t? But this afternoon I felt only drawn to assure you of my own unalterable love. If you have fallen from your best, Mary dear, I will grieve with you: but you are still to me what you always have been and will be, and my hopes and purposes are what they have always been.
And now I’m going to lecture you—tentatively and hypothetically at any rate. You suggest sometimes that you have no work in the world—nothing that you do or can do well. Now are you sure that it might not be your duty—your place in the world—to perform the great functions of the head of a family? I know you to be well filled for it in many, many ways, and I want to put it to you whether you are shirking this for any reasons that are not good and brave. I am not judging you, but wish to put the question to you—because I long for your filling the best place possible, and because I know how your simplicity and truth and sympathy fit you for it, not to mention more practical everyday capacities.
This sounds as though I meant it was your duty to marry me: but you will take it as it is really meant, and forgive it if it is out of place. As regards you and me,—please never again talk any rubbish about my marrying someone else—it will never be. And surely you didn’t think I should never ask you again—it is years since we talked about it, and changes do come into feelings, even without provocation. I hold—as I have said before—that when two people love best to talk over and over again of the treasures of their mutual memories, when they love to unbosom themselves utterly to one another,—as we do Mary,—they do love one another—and to deny it is madness. I want no better love than such things prove. But I am not going to harass you now: I have given you pain enough in the past, Heaven knows, where I only longed to give help and happiness.
But when you told me such things as this trouble, I could not help trying to convince you again of my unchanged love—in which you have so little faith. If you will not have it, then I must give what I may, and get what I can—for the present: but all the same I shall have a vision (because I can’t help it) of something better—and there’s no law against asking again, nor against changing your mind,—so there, madam!
The fact is you’re frightened you wouldn’t be ‘boss of the show’,—but I expect you would you know.
Yours always, Frank
Letter from Frank to Dr Spence Watson
Ackworth, Nr Pontefract
Dear Dr Spence Watson,
I am writing to ask you for the best gift that you could give me: and I feel how little I deserve it. I don’t know whether Mary will have told you, but my love for her which tried and failed before has won the victory at last, and she has said that I might write to you at once to ask for Mrs Spence Watson’s and your approval. I know very, very well how much it is that I have asked from her, and how much I am asking from you: and I am afraid that some things I have done in the course of a long campaign may not have been approved by you. I have only one excuse—that I have loved her all the time with all my heart; and now more than ever, if that is possible.
I wish I was more worthy of her, to ask for such a prize and treasure—but we love one another, and I think that will keep us happy—any way I will try my best to serve her in all things. So I am hoping that you will grant me this great gift.
Mary will I know be longing for your help and approval—she feels she is making a great venture and needs all her courage, especially now.
May I hope then that you will give us your blessing, and that we may call ourselves engaged,—as we are in heart?
I don’t know whether you would like me to speak here of more mundane matters. Since I spoke to Mrs Spence Watson three years ago, my place at Bootham has improved, and this next year I shall be in a more responsible position—but of course there is no great substantial change. I wish that I could offer Mary an easier and more comfortable position—but that can’t be helped—and I think we shall manage.
I shall be glad to tell you anything else if you wish, and to come and see you about it, if that would be best—I am free just at present to do anything at a moment’s notice.
I wish I could tell you better what I feel about it all—but perhaps you will understand from what I have written, and perhaps Mary will help me out where I have failed.
So may I leave it with you thus?
With kindest regards to Mrs Spence Watson and yourself,
I am yours very sincerely,
I was so glad to get thy note this morning, for I had begun to feel as if it was all a dream, and I need all the help thou canst give me.
I told Mother almost directly I got home, and then I went to the dentist’s and he unpicked the stopping of my tooth and put in a new temporary one which has given me great relief. When I got home again I told Ruth, who was very sweet and kind and I believe pleased, but Mother would not let Father know till this morning, in case he had a bad night.
We had some people to dinner, as Sir Robert and Lady Ball are staying with us (their eldest son is going to marry Olga Sturge to-morrow) so I felt tired when I went to bed, but quite happy, till I woke in the early morning, and could not sleep any more, wondering if I was doing right. Oh, Frank dear, I do hope I’ll be able to make thee happy. I’m so afraid I won’t. You must promise if you ever have the slightest doubt, to draw back before it is too late.
I’m writing in bed which I hope accounts for the bad writing. Father and Mother were in such a state about my cough, that I stayed in bed to please them—please don’t imagine I feel ill, for I don’t.
Father came to see me after breakfast, very much surprised; he never says much, but told me ‘Love in a hut with water and a crust, is, Lord forgive me, cinders, ashes, dust’, at which I was angry; he said he’d always heard you were a very good fellow, and I shan’t tell you what I replied, but I told him he’d soon learn to love you, and you him.
Could you come here for the week-end? (longer if you can). You might meet us on our way back from Birmingham....
[rest of letter not there—page torn off either purposely and accidentally]
My dear Love
I wonder if thou has any idea how delicious thy letter was to me: it is the first taste I have had, Mary, and was very, very sweet—whatever better things may be to come.
I am glad thou ‘would like to see me again soon’: and I will come on Saturday if that suits—and will meet you as thou suggests if I know your times.
I did not tell any one till I got thy letter this morning,—then I told Mother and Jeanie and Will. Mother was very delighted (as she ought to be): will thou write to her? Perhaps Jeanie will be writing. I don’t know. I won’t tell anyone else (tho’ it is a great effort) till thou says I may. I wrote to Mrs H.R. this afternoon, but just thanked them very, very much for their kindness—and said I should always be grateful. Would they understand that?
I feel in such a mixture of excitement and happiness and solemnity—it is a serious thing, sweetheart, to have the treasure of thy self to guard for one’s very own: and how I wish I was worthier of it! (n.b. I’ll give the promise thou asks, with a light heart—what a thing for thee to say! How can I give thee more faith?)
I think my letter to thy father was the most difficult I ever wrote: and I wasn’t a bit satisfied with it—but perhaps it didn’t matter really. Did thou mention to them the Northallerton plan, I wonder? It makes me laugh to think of Northallerton platform as the scene of victory: I’m not at all sure how it would have gone, if my train hadn’t happily been late. I think I must write to Philip Burtt and thank him. Yes, the bike was all right. Jeanie and I went a bit of a ride yesterday afternoon.
Today I have been looking through a great lot of Greek photos taken by Argonaut people on our Easter tour and choosing a lot both for prints and slides.
I do hope thy cough is better—and that the Birmingham expedition will not do it any harm. Did the comfortable seat by the river make it worse?
I will write to G.H.M. to morrow if I can produce a letter that will do. I’m glad thou wrote to him at once. Poor fellow! he will have a bad time.
I haven’t left time for this letter—indeed it doesn’t reckon one at all. I thought perhaps thou would like to see this that I wrote in the spring.
I wonder what thou has been wearing to day. I haven’t any clothes to come in on Saturday: isn’t that serious? And now I must rush to the post.
Mind and give me a good account of the conference!
My own sweetheart, try and believe in it all: it isn’t a dream—or if it is it’s going to last for ever. Art thou happy? I am, except that thou art not here beside me.
I got thy lovely letter this afternoon: and parts of it made me laugh with happiness. Why art thou so sure that Mabel will be astonished? I wonder—I’m not certain.
Since thy letter came at about 4 o’clock—we have had an early tea, and Will has gone away. It has been so jolly having him here: we have seen so little of him the last few years. Our two nephews came along from the school to escort him to the station—Cuthbert Irwin (Lil’s eldest boy) and Eric Sparkes (Sophie’s youngest): they are nice chaps—the former top of the school though only thirteen.
Yesterday I went to Pontefract with the School Eleven to play for them: but only made 7. E.B.C. came to supper afterwards and was just as usual: I have always liked him in spite of many things to the contrary—you know he was rather fond of you once wasn’t he?
I have been trying to read some Vergil this afternoon but it wasn’t a very great success. I much preferred looking through those wonderful chapters in Shirley, telling of the conflicts between Louis Moore and Shirley: does thou know them?
I wrote a brief note to Harry Mennell—though I felt very doubtful whether I ought not to have kept silent, whether he will not resent it as an impertinence from the victor: but it was short and well meant.
I have forgotten whether you have most of my songs at Bensham—I shan’t be bringing many—there won’t be room.
Twice a week at the dispensary!—there’s another item in thy energetic programme! Ah Mary, see how my knowledge of thee is confirmed over and over again!
I hope thou will be up and well again, dearest, tomorrow: I am coming to Bensham at 3 o’clock. I feel as though it would take a while to get used to the serene enjoyment of my treasure, after all these years of conflict. But I will try, sweetheart.
How art thou today? None the worse for yesterday, I do trust. This will be crossing one from thee perhaps, but there are a few letters thou will like to see, so I am sending them—some of them are very nice. I think I had better explain who the people are:
There is one from my eldest sister Sophie (Mrs Sparkes): also from her eldest boy Malcolm—his reference to the house is because he is in that line—house filling, cabinet making etc of an ornamental type. Then my sister Lucy (Mrs Jackson) and her husband: and then Mrs Theodore Rowntree—and a beautiful letter from Julius. I do feel even now when the far better gift is mine, what a great and good thing is friendship.
I was so sorry not to see Bertha in York—I ran across after tea at Mabel’s—but she was out—I ought to have sent her a card separately. I wish I could express how I have felt the loving welcome I have had from all thy family.
F.A, and Jeanie came down soon after I got home: I hear that Margaret when she was told said ‘why wasn’t it done five years ago? What’s he been waiting all this time for?’—Just the same complain thou made. What a bungler I have been!
Ah Sweetheart, I did miss thy loving welcome this morning: I feel as though I had been pretending all these years to know what love was or would be—but now I know I had no conception how sweet it would be. It was hard parting from thee, Mary my darling—and yet there was the sense one had never had before of a triumphant love that could rise above the bonds of space and time—now that our hearts are open to one another—and knit together for ever and ever. And yet how contradictory it seems! For there never was a time, in all the days of longing for thee, when I longed so much as now for thy sweet presence, to hold thy dear hand and look into thy dear brown eyes.
It has occurred to me it would be rather nice for thee and me to give Hugh and Mabel a present in memory of a week at Carr End—what does thou think? And what would be likely? I hope Ruth is a little better—tell her not to be a refractory patient.
What a long time it will be till Monday! And how shall I take in all the wisdom of the British Association, when my thoughts will be all of more important matters. I didn’t read any Virgil on the way home.
All my heart’s love, Mary dearest, Frank.
The Limes Hydro
It has been very, very lovely to get two letters from thee today! And the messages of thy love, my darling, are very precious. How thou does dive into the future! I think we shall be a loving (though of course sober as we are now!) couple all through life.
What amuses me, madam, is that although thou has been swearing all thy life to be an old maid, and art still swearing not to be married for ‘ages’, yet thou has evidently carefully considered where to get married, what to wear, how to get the most presents, how many rooms (not to mention beds) to have, how to do without a servant, what kind of socks to make, and what time thy husband ought to retire to rest. Reconcile these things, my dear! Are they all within the last week?
But seriously, it will be time enough to consider the date of the wedding when we’ve been engaged a few months (say): why, we’ve only been ‘hitched’ about ten days, young lady! The idea of laying down the law for a hen pecked husband already! Never mind! I’m not going to express any opinion: only thou may change thy mind! So don’t be too dogmatic: thou may get tired of being merely engaged—it will be a time of many partings and much separation. There now, I drop the subject for some time to come: only don’t imagine I shall set myself against thy final wishes. It wouldn’t be much good if I did: ‘man proposes, but woman ------’.
There are some lovely letters for thee to see—A.R. and Mrs A.R. and Sturge. Last night Isaac Thompson and Mrs I.T. congratulated me, telling me what a very, very lucky man I was : I know it well, my sweetheart, but it is nice to hear it all the same.
I got afternoon tea with JWH. and then walked out with him to the end of the pier—a mile long—getting a fine blow. He and his Mrs send warm congratulations and wishes.
I am going to be home about 5 o’clock on Monday, and then I shall soon be able to hold my own precious girl to my heart again. She will always make me happy—and with one loved jewel my home will always be rich—
All my love, Mary dearest, Frank.
I wish I was with thee today. Thank thee so much for thy specially delightful letter. I can’t help getting morbid if I lie awake at all, and then when I get thy letter in the morning, everything seems lovely again.
Dost thou know I’ve got a most lovely letter from John Morley this morning. As it came on thy birthday I think it’s a sign that I must give thee his book. Ruth says it would be worth while to get engaged just for this letter! She sends thee many messages. Oh, it’s so nice to be able to say ‘the day after to-morrow.’ I’ve got lots of letters to let thee see, and am longing to see thine. I’m going to York on Monday, arriving there at 11.27, but have not yet found out the trains to Ackworth.
I’ve had rather a tiring day. First of all I went to get a dress tried on. Miss Norman, to whom I have been for years and who is quite a friend of mine was much interested to hear about thee. I made her laugh by telling her thou said I was growing stout, for she said the dress she was altering was at least 2 inches too slack! Then I went servant hunting for Mother, unsuccessfully I’m afraid, and then to Aunt Gertie’s, where I began to learn to knit socks. They all came in to watch and teased me fearfully. I got back at 1.0 and after lunch read to Ruth and then at last got down to the Workhouse. The women in the blind ward were very excited and showered blessings upon us, but were a little disappointed that my wanderings had not induced me to bring home an Arab! They were very delighted to hear about thy singing and look forward to hearing thee at Christmas. I told them it was not partiality that made me say thy voice is beautiful, for everyone else said so too. Then I went to see an old Irish woman—Katherine O’Neill—she is 75 and has given me several presents of wonderful knitted work. It took me about 10 minutes to convince her that I was not joking and when I did succeed she was very angry, and said it shouldn’t be, etc etc. I couldn’t pacify her, even though I said I would take thee to see her—in fact she said she wouldn’t see thee—but finally she became rather mollified. She is great fun, and I know she will be delighted when she sees thee.
Ruth still may not come downstairs. We had to send for her own doctor, and he says she must be very, very careful. I am sorry for her, for she misses so many things. She is very funny; says she ‘nearly fell out of bed in a fit at seeing thee and me sitting on one chair’ !! Oh, Frank dear, it will be lovely on Monday ‘to have the arms of my true love round me once again’—not, however, ‘where he was wont to meet me’. I enclose a few more letters. Please keep them as they are not answered yet, and Father wants to see Mr Graham’s.
It’s stupid of me I forgot to buy a Bradshaw, and our time table doesn’t give Ackworth, and they can’t tell me the trains at Bensham Station, but I expect there is a train from York arriving in Ackworth sometime in the afternoon, and I can telegraph to ‘Jeanie’.
I’ve just been washing my hair, it is so nice to have got it done at last.
Aunt Gertie said this morning she had wanted to kiss thee on Tuesday, but was afraid neither of us would like it!!
A week ago to-day thou came—I have been thinking of thee specially to-day. It seems a long time ago.
The ring has been much admired. I believe I’m getting reconciled to it. Really, though, Frank dearest, I do think it’s lovely, and I’m sorry I was so ungracious about it, only I don’t like the feeling of ‘forms’ being a necessity.
‘Red, the ruby (in its good sense) signified fire, divine love, the Holy Spirit, heat or the creative power and royalty.’ ‘White, represented by the diamond or silver, was the emblem of light, religious purity, innocence, virginity, faith, joy and life’.
Thy letters were in Ruth’s room. I hope thou art having a happy birthday.
Goodbye—dearest—ever thine Mariechen.
p.s. It is so nice to feel Father and Mother are in the country. They were both worn out, and Sir G.R. said it gave him quite a shock to see Father, he looked so much older and bent than in the spring. My cough has almost entirely gone!
14.IX. [no year]
My dearest Mary,
What a peaceful time you will have been having since you got rid of your tiresome lover! Have you missed me a little bit, Mary? I could not bear to think of the unhappiness I caused you so often, if I did not hope that happiness would come of it in the end. And if you have as much as I shall have, you will be blessed indeed: but then you can’t possible have, for mine is knowing and loving and I think being loved by the sweetest girl in the world.
You will be coming through York on Saturday, won’t you? Could I possibly see you? Couldn’t you possibly spend a few hours here—perhaps you are going to—? You might spend a while in my room—I’m on duty all the afternoon, so shall have to be on the premises.
But of course I will submit to anything you like: if you think no good could come of meeting for a while, well, let us leave everything at present. You know I don’t want to worry and bother you—but indeed I should like to see you again, and really in private,—before we decide to wait, whether it be two weeks or two years. Mary dearest, I have come from Birmingham with the certainty that we are nearer together than we ever were, and that we surely must come to be happy in one another’s love, and that before very long.
If anything like what I suggest is possible, and seems right to you, will you send me a line to say so, and when.
Are you taking heaps of notes for me? or are you being as lazy as when I was beside you?
I laugh out loud whenever I think of your remark to Mrs G, and then of her telling me of your frivolity.—I don’t wonder at her.
I have moved into E.B.C’s room now, which will be mine till the new buildings are done—or perhaps not so long, Mary? You won’t be able to come up the fire escape any more—
Ever, Sweetheart, your lover Frank.
This isn’t much of a letter is it? But I will do much better, longer at any rate, when I really may write. You see this doesn’t reckon to be a letter. How many sheets will you write to me, in the intervals of housecleaning? I want your present one of these days please, and on my own terms!
I must snatch as much time as possible before eight o’clock—when I have to meet A.R and Sturge to talk over the French teaching arrangements—to talk to thee a little. My heart sank such a long way when I bid good bye to thee, Mary—all the more because there was no time of meeting to look forward to precisely: but of course being conspicuous for sobriety, we shall possess our souls in patience.
I hope you reached home in comfort and good humour; I wonder what you talked about and who did most of it. Did thou leave anything in the train, or go in to Edinburgh by mistake, or anything else indicating confusion of mind? I hope not.
I didn’t get a great deal done yesterday evening, beyond making up a History and Geography paper for the Entrance Scholarship exam: and finished that off about 10.45—with an interval for supper, and another for cigarettes on the playground, and then Sturge and I talked till about twelve mostly about their camping out at Scarbro’ just after we broke up—he and three boys and Joe Wood, an old boy from Leeds, with some dozen young fellows from a lads’ club in the Leeds slums. It seems to have been a great success considering they were all beginners in the art of camping—he told me what a tremendously busy time they had, fetching water, collecting wood etc, how well Hinde (one of our boys) cooked for them, how they cheered him (Sturge) in York Station when he went to say goodbye to them—and so on.—very interesting and satisfactory, and I think a most valuable institution in connection with the school: to get boys to take an active part in such work is worth a century of advice.
Then this morning was full up with settling the classes in—I was able to get to work at Latin with the Upper and Lower Senior—and with another masters’ meeting about mathematics.
Then in the afternoon a Guild executive in my room from about three to six. F.H. Brown, Charles Evans, Nicholson and Mary O'Brien Harris were the only ones there: and we settled the date and programme of the Saffron Walden Meeting in January, subject to approval on their part: viz Jan 6, 7 & 8—very early—it will probably leave a week before we reopen afterwards.
I had to forego a game of football on account of this blessed old committee: but I’ll say this for them that they insisted on paying my Brit. Association fee and my travelling expenses to Southport—in spite of my having run away on the Monday!
Thou may imagine with all this that I haven’t got much tidier in either of my rooms than I was before: indeed I am clear flummoxed as to where to put some things—books chiefly.
I have had a nice letter from Mr Brayshaw, and congratulations from Evans today: but tomorrow!! think of that! But I shall never tire, Mary dearest, of being told of my good fortune—for it is the very, very best fortune that man ever had—I think I shall be a poor creature if I cannot make something of life with the love and sweet presence of such a precious comrade to help and cheer me always.
Ah my sweetheart, how I am longing for thee now! It is so lovely to feel thy dear form in my arms and on my breast! (or as thou would express it ‘sitting on top of me!’). I wonder what a prosaic and matter of fact middle aged schoolmaster like me has done, to deserve such an incomparable blessing. Nothing I am sure—but he loves it very much—and will try and keep it untroubled for ever.
Many wishes to thee, my dear love,—for cheerful happy days, for a good appetite, for long nights, for a successful Sunday School, and for the imagining of many loving kisses on thy neck and hair and cheeks and lips
bestowed by F.E.P.
My own dearest,
Thy letter was ‘great’: and it was very sweet too. But fancy addressing it wrong—so that I was desolate for some hours before it came across the road!
I am sending thee another present thou sees—it is such a long while since I gave thee anything! I think thou wilt enjoy some things in it very much: the best things in it—that is the most mature and finished are the ones on Science in the School Curriculum, and on Peace and War: but they’re all interesting to any one who knew him well.
Since starting this, I have got thy next letter; parts of it—about thy lung—made me shiver to the very backbone, Mary my darling: I had hoped it had got on better than that—but of course thou’ll obey doctor’s orders! But we won’t talk about that yet.
Parts of it made me feel I ought to come and teaze thee a bit—take thee in my arms and pull thy hair down and tie it round thy face. Thou’rt not going to tempt me to say anything more about getting married at present—so there!
They are having some more Young Friends’ meetings today and to-morrow—and I have got to go in a minute—I refused to give another evening up, but consented to run along and sing a song in the social business before the main job begins. I think I shall sing Friar of orders Gray—and now I must trot—
50 mins later—There that’s done—I sang the above—and also The Arrow and the Song—found I was very husky for some reason or other, but got through all right. But I wanted thy dear fingers to play for me, sweetheart. Indeed that’s why I want to marry thee,—to get an accompanist—and then thou will say thou wants to listen and I have to do it myself after all!
We had a good meeting I think at the Retreat last night. A number of us talked pretty freely about our position in the religious life of the meeting—Arnold Rowntree, Edward Worsdell, Frank Rowntree A.R., Sturge, Pierce and I etc—the difficulties of speaking in meeting in the presence of old and weighty friends, the need of opportunities of that very kind for young friends to meet informally and talk freely but seriously about great questions so as to keep our minds alive and clear, the difficulty of finding time and strength from business or from manifold interests, for the work of the meeting itself, the thought that it was difficult to feel the enthusiasm for a mere ideal which some feel for the personality of Christ but which we perhaps cannot rise to—but on the other hand, in reply to that and much truer, that we must take ourselves as we find ourselves: if the thought of the work to be done and the future that we may help to bring about stirs us best, why, that is in no way inferior to the motive of love to Christ, which stirs others more.
And then too the need, in these days of bustle and worry and social problems and anxieties and over work,—the need of quietness and serenity—how that the quiet and true demeanour and quality of ordinary life is more important and influential than many anxious enterprises.
These are a few points that have remained in my mind. I am glad the Sunday School came off comfortably: thy life seems very full, Mary my dear, of manifold helpfulnesses to all sorts of folks: and I will include a good deal given to my own needy self, lassie—I think thou hast lifted me out of a rut of bachelor stagnation in which the best parts of life would have in time become an unknown language to me—but I am learning them now, my beloved, and shall some day perhaps be worthy to possess the dear and precious heart that I have won—no, never worthy, but more and more able to cherish it as it should be cherished.
I won’t be angry, dearest, though I wondered what thou was feeling to write some things. I do want thee to try and explain everything always that thou wants to: but, my own dearest girl, what need can there be to be miserable about anything ever? Ah, Mary, my own love, would that I could always kiss away every slightest uneasiness in thy thoughts! Try and think what my love for thee means—it doesn’t only mean that I love to have thee in my arms and to stroke thy hair and hold thy hand in mine—it is that I want thy loving comradeship through life, that I want thy cheering sweetening help in my mushy old life, that I want to serve thee faithfully and make thee happy if I may and love and reverence thee always. Yes, Mary, I am happy—I haven’t read the letters yet, so can’t compare my feeling with Mr Atkinson’s. It is a happiness partly that rests upon the abiding knowledge of our true love, but partly upon the thought of a future by thy side, Mary dear: the former is very supremely restful, and the latter looks ahead for more complete joy.
But there, my friend, if I write much more, we shall endanger our reputation for sobriety—which still survives in our own minds (if in on one else’s) in spite of defunct fires, abandoned night shirts—(dresses I mean), and other aberrations—
Take a squeeze in the ribs (if it is allowable to allude to a lady’s ribs), a pull of the hair (I am glad thou has pulled that one out—there can’t be any now) and many loving kisses for a good night, Mary my own treasure—
thy lover, Frank.
I am not sending the present after all till the morning. Tell me constantly and faithfully about the lung, dearest: I am very, very concerned for thee, and for me too.
My own Mariechen
Thy letters are always a joy to the hungry soul: and each one grows better the oftener I read it. I always browse on one before getting into bed, to calm and purify my mind.
I am writing this in the Senior classroom where I am on duty from 7.30 to 8.30: so forgive deficiencies by remembering distracting surroundings.
I am sorry my account of the meeting was unsatisfying: but I thought I had made my own view clear on the main point I spoke of. People so often speak—even broadminded men—as though all true aspiration and effort must centre in personal devotion to Christ. Now I don’t want to minimize that for a moment, but to me personally, the thought of Christ as a leader is present certainly—and no one could believe more strongly than I do in the need of the principle of the Kingdom Christ founded, at the present day:—but it is the thought of the work that needs doing for truth and goodness, the vision of what human life might be that now and then in clear hours one gets,—these are the things that stir me most: and I decline for one moment to admit that this is an inferior position to that of a man whose whole moral life is filled with the thought of Christ. I think it is a narrowing of the divine to find it only in one channel: I will find it where I can: and that will be in the whole experience of life—the best one knows and feels and hopes for—and I don’t care twopence where the thoughts and hopes come from so long as they appeal to me as true and noble. All this hasn’t much to do with the meeting—for the point was only mentioned incidentally.
We have had many interesting things to discuss the last few days: and time is pretty full up. For instance A.R. was talking to me about a great Scheme for entrance scholarships which is in the wind. A sum of about £1000 has been raised and is to go to this purpose:—the capital itself to be spent, that is, during the next three or four years. Questions of age, examination etc have of course to be settled.
The yesterday afternoon we had a conference with four of the Ackworth masters—Nicholson, Collinson, Robinson and Ludlam—(did I tell thee all this by the bye? Miss it out, if I did) about the Mathematics teaching in the two schools—the fitting in of our respective courses, methods etc. It was rather a scattery time: I spent most of the time trying to prevent H.R. devoting the whole discussion to the best kind of rulers to buy! Still it was worth having I think.
Then in the evening after supper, Baynes, Sturge and I had to meet A.R. to discuss the work of the Upper Senior—who were going to take what exams—which of them would take Greek this year and so forth: I was so sleepy for some reason or other I could scarcely stay awake.
Then again we have been having prolonged football committees to settle the various teams.
How I shall be alarming thee with all this! They don’t really fill as much time as it sounds, and of course when things are properly started, they work automatically. This afternoon instead of the last period’s school we had what we call an Exhortation Meeting—i.e. in which the Astronomy, and Archaeology and Workshop Curators etc etc make speeches to urge fellows to take up out of school work: they are unique institutions—and very useful in stirring up the brethren. I am secretary of the general society that embraces all these things, and so have to organize the programme, persuade new and nervous curators to take to public speaking. It was a great success: the best speech was by F.H. Knight who is going to run the Natural History Club this term.
I am sorry to find there is a silly misprint at the beginning of the first of Albert’s papers—it was written in 1891, not 1901 of course.
I am glad thou art going to get the walking tour: I expect air and exercise and food (remember the last names specially) are what thou wants most—so it’ll be good if not overdone—and I imagine Isabel will not encourage anything excessive. Tell her that I have great confidence in her devotion as a caretaker, and that her responsibility in charge of a precious patient is a very great one.
I am writing now in my room, and three boys who have been staying up to do some work in the library are munching biscuits in my easy chairs. And it is just post time. Take great care of thy self, Mary my darling, I dream of seeing thee again some day—I wish it was tomorrow.
I accepted the kiss,—two years is such a long time: it always has been difficult to pursue the best policy—otherwise I should have been a happier man long ago perhaps—
But thou perhaps will be able to wait: in case thou can’t, take many kisses, my own dearest, dearest Mary, and lots of love from, Frank.
My dearest Love,
I am weary and worn, but by no means sad,—and have been writing letters all the evening, leaving thine till last!—answering some still remaining congratulations, and sending out a few of A.P.’s Essays. So perhaps this letter will be less fresh than it ought to be.
I am not a bit angry with the giver of our first wedding present—it is splendid: it makes one believe in its reality now that it’s reduced to pounds shillings and pence. I hope thou will spend it—and that forthwith—only whatever its on—whether on rational dress, bananas or tobacco,—I shall reckon them half mine. And as for they being very angry—well I’m only sorry I wasn’t there to see!
The idea of a letter being uninteresting because it’s about thyself! Why, my beloved girl, what else interest me at all in comparison? There is nothing thou canst tell me about thyself which will not be welcome to me—remember, Mary dearest, that thou art part of my very life.
I was immensely pleased with the account of thy visit to the dirty house, and the dressing down thou gave the woman: magnificent! I believe I am at least 5 ft 6 ins—but won’t swear to it.
Tell me how to spend the rest of my mother’s present, please: 12/6 that is, about. How would two or three Merediths or Thackerays do? Or Scott or Jane Austen? And if so which? I have none of the former, and only Peveril, and Pride and Prejudice of the latter. I look forward so greatly to lots of reading aloud in the (distant?) future, Mary: thou likes it, doesn’t thou? I think we ought always to have a book in reading—if not two, one light, and one serious: how would that be? Then thou’ll be able to learn some psychology, and I shall pick up some crumbs of Italian Art.
I have started pretty comfortably I think with most of my new work. There is this advantage (among others) in taking work with older boys, especially those in for an exam, that they do work—one hasn’t to be perpetually using the goad. I am reading the Aeneid Book IX with the Upper Senior; and Book V with the Lower.
I think I didn’t tell thee how on Wednesday we had half an hour or so devoted to hearing Sturge and one of the boys tell of their camping experiences at Scarborough, so as to interest the school in it: it was a great success—if they remember, I should think heaps of boys would be ready to go another time. Sturge made an amusing speech—he was telling how the fellows from the Leeds Lads Club were quite young men: one fellow of nineteen, he said, was a married man—‘and yet he was quite a pleasant and jolly chap’! We married men (forgive this anticipation) had to go for him afterwards.
After the Mathematics meeting on Wednesday, Baynes and I went a cycle run: he was telling me about his camping out in Bute with the Muirheads (Mrs M is Mrs A.R.’s sister)—and how jolly they were—kept a hospitable house at Glasgow, though in a small way, where friends could drop in and take what was going—no fear of a fuss being made—and how sensible and comfortable that was: and I agreed and said I was taking mental notes.
On Sunday evening I have to talk to the boys at our evening reading—A.R. thought some account of the Summer School would be a good thing: and that will be my text at any rate. There are of course heaps of lines one can run in close connection with it—either the search for truth, the desire for knowledge on these great topics; the need of a free and open mind, and so forth, or the idea of preparation for service: and either can be applied pretty directly to a boy’s position at school. It is immensely easier to speak to the boys at a function like ours than to speak in Meeting: with the boys I feel I have some ‘locus standi’ for playing the part of moral adviser—it is quite in place, and I understand them. With a general audience it needs a great sense of something worth saying, to overcome my sense of the impertinence of distributing advice in such a promiscuous way—not a belief that it’s impertinent at all, but a sense—which it is difficult to overcome. Then too one can have a few notes here—and in meeting I am horribly nervous. Once I forgot every mortal thing in the world that I wanted to say,—and I talked rubbish for half a sentence till it came back. Still that won’t last long—only one so seldom feels to have said just what one meant to say, and in the right way: and that in the most important of all subjects.
Stick to Perris—if he’s good: even though he may be dull. It’ll be the subject of politics for some years and when thou art a leading member of the York Women’s Liberal Association,——!
And now I must stop this prolonged harangue. The thing that matters most in the world at present is that my darling’s precious health shall be quite restored. I hope thou art having a jolly and invigorating time, in ‘mind, body and estate’. Never mind how heavy thou gets: I’d bear it, if I could feel my sweetheart’s arms about me, and her untidy hair wandering about my face—
Goodnight, madam, Frank.
My own true Love,
It was magnificent to get thy two refreshing letters this morning. I have been following thy walk on the map as well as I could. I’m so glad you had some such beautiful weather—and could get all the good of the fine fresh air: art thou sure the burdens weren’t too heavy? Otherwise it will be sure to have done thee good. (This doesn’t include the bathe—I’m not sure about that at all!). I wonder if thou got a card of mine sent from here on Saturday evening to Wooler—only a picture of Phil May’s with a word or two. I expect not. Send me a telegram if thy examination says thou art all right: it would lift a good deal off my heart.
It is true that we have been engaged more than a month—it is really six years! I saw Ernest Rowntree at the station for a minute the other day—he said ‘Why ever did you take so long over it?’ I said ‘Ah! No doubt man is a very bungling sort of animal’.
I wrote a letter to Gertie the other day in reply to that one about thy misbehaving at Ackworth. I explained that it was unlikely we should get married this Christmas, because thou wouldn’t have the socks finished!
I didn’t feel to be in very good form yesterday evening—I talked for ten minutes or more about Woodbrooke, how Prof. Barton discussed the dates of Psalms, Prof. Peake’s discourses on the Early Church, Miss Sewell on Philanthropy, and University Settlements, of our visit to Bournvill—and pointed a general moral that people who went to Summer Schools thought of Education (in the search for truth, and preparation for service) as a thing going on all through life: and that that was an attitude for us here and now—keeping intellects alert, and sympathies warm and characters growing—and so serving our day and generation here, and likely fitted to afterwards. But I had a feeling of having been ineffective—which may or may not have been the case.
After supper yesterday evening A.R. and I and two Old Boys (Willie Gray of Glasgow and another) had a prolonged and exciting argument about the fiscal question, Mr Chamberlain, the lot of the working man and other things. It was a terrible exhibition on their part (which A.R. and I tried to expose) of ignorance of elementary truths, of blind admiration of Chamberlain without any knowledge of South African facts, and of a complacent view that the lot of the working classes is all that could be wished for such beings, who must be kept in their place to do the work of the world as Providence has ordained. It was very melancholy: it made me wonder whether we oughtn’t to give courses of lessons on Liberalism. But i trust some of the material we turn out is rather better than this.
I have hardly read a word this term except in the way of work: yesterday I managed another essay in Wicksteed and Carpenter’s Studies in Theology—I forget whether thou saw it—a most excellent book—Unitarian of course.
Thank thee muchly for the Northern Echo with thy father’s paper in: I haven’t read it yet, but mean to this evening. Yes, we’ve had some excellent football, though of course the weather is very warm: one is wringing wet at the end of it. When art thou coming to watch a match? I’ll send thee a Fixture Card when they are out.
On Thursday I am going to London to a meeting of the Central Education Executive at Devonshire House; probably going at 12.40, and back by 8.15 from King’s Cross.
It seems so ‘queer’ sometimes, and yet so absolutely natural, to be writing all about everything to thee, Mary dear, like this. Art thou interested in it all? I haven’t yet got over the astonished sensation at anybody caring—that sometimes I pull myself up and wonder if thou really can. And then I rest in the happy certainty of thy love, my dearest. Why that sudden outbreak in thy letter as to why I love thee? What a silly old thing! Just as though I hadn’t carried off a prize that makes my friends green with envy; what a pity I can’t write that poem to my mistress’ true and loving heart which she deserves!
But another reason why I fell in love with her was her excellent common sense, and as Toots would say—‘that there was no nonsense about her’. What stuff I am talking—wilt thou take these things as compliments (my own peculiar kind)? for they’re meant to be. But somehow my pen declines to be wholly serious for more than half a sentence at a time.
I don’t like that proposal of thin for the first week of the term at all. I’ll pour out the coffee for thee at breakfast—make it first of course—, serve the beans at dinner, drink six cups of thy best tea at tea, smoke to thee—no, no, if there was only one chair, thou wouldn’t like that—in the evening, and perhaps be lectured by thee all night. Surely that is worth having! I would give a good deal for it now at any rate. I think I want a little teasing, and I’m sure thou does. By the bye when we buy chairs, we shall have to see that they’re strong, shan’t we? But perhaps the floor is best after all for such undemonstrative people as thee and me. Still tho’ we are so sober, I would love to have thee here now, Mariechen, to give thee many, many kisses, and to feel thy dear arms round me again,—to clasp thee as close as close, and hear thy dear voice once more. It is ages since I did, my darling.
But then again I come back to the abiding and comforting foundation of our love which is there always.
Thy lover, Frank.
My mother sends her dear love: and I’m not sure that I don’t too.
My own Dearest,
Thy telegram was very satisfactory—thank thee for sending it—and in a few days I hope it will be ‘quite well’. And thy letter this morning was so nice—they all have been—breezy and cheery from the heather and the sea. It would have been good to be with thee. And the enclosure was interesting too! I haven’t eaten it!
Mary my sweetheart, thou must not talk of making up for past unhappiness—when thou hast given me the wondrous and priceless treasure of thy love, and hast set me free to give thee mine—surely that has far more than made up for it—it has wiped it out—almost transformed it. I think it has become almost pleasing to look back from the hill of victory upon the schemes and battles of the way.
I ordered three novels this morning which will just take the rest of the money—they were Scott’s Old Mortality in the Guy Mannering edition, Meredith’s Egoist, and Thackery’s Newcomes in the Biographical Edition. The two latter I have not read and want to some day. Also I have bought two songs—Sullivan’s Orpheus with his lute, and the Hungarian one I spoke of—‘Mohacs field’.
I don’t think there’s anything else for ‘fiancé’: here are two suggestions:—1st, stick to thy present phrase ‘young man’: and 2nd go a step forward and try ‘husband’—that’ll be much simpler.
Poor old thing! With thirty letters to reply to: and does thou describe me in each? I should think thou has forgotten what I’m like, and will be romancing even more than usual. Try ‘thanks awfully—love from Mary’—if that doesn’t satisfy them, it ought to.
I should have written to thee yesterday, only there was a Literary Meeting at the Retreat, and I had to attend a committee and ran off straight from school at six o’clock, and didn’t get back much before eleven. The programme was Holiday Essays—one or two were good, but some were dull: indeed all their holidays were dull compared with mine! And I don’t quite know about writing tomorrow—unless it be in the train—perhaps I may manage that.
I’m shocked about that fish—I think it would have been only common humanity to eat it after giving it the trouble of being caught—did thou rise to that? Seriously, has thou carefully considered the question whether thy present inability to throw off a cold may not be due to thy system having lost ground the last few years—unknown until the test comes. I think this is a grave question, Mary dear: art thou prepared to face it? I went across to Mabel after tea to reassure her about thy progress: they had just come back from a great blackberrying—at Strensall I think—and had got three pounds. Colin seemed in great form.
We had a great football game this afternoon—among ourselves that is: North and South, and the South beat us by four goals to three. I am sending thee a fixture list for thy edification.
This is a poor letter—written in the intervals of duty—between prowls round the premises—so forgive its manifold deficiencies. I feel my mind and heart want refreshing by a little of thy company, my dearest: it will be a grand thing to have such a refreshment and stimulus (or stimulant?) always with me—that’s what I look forward to as a life-long treat in store for my undeserving self. I wonder thou’rt not in more of a hurry out of sheer curiosity as to how it will work—it’ll be most interesting I fancy—great sport in fact. Did we decide to keep a cat? I forget. Oh! It was a parrot, thou wanted: goodness! Fancy in a four roomed house!
It would be nice for separation to be over—I long for thee, very much, Mary my own best and dearest comrade—and I long to hear that thou art absolutely well, and with no shadow on thy prospect of happiness. This feeble letter does bring a lot of love for thee—as much as thou wants.
7.X. [no year]
My own Mariechen,
We are having a lazy half holiday today—no football match that is, as far as masters are concerned. Some of us have been watching the boys’ 2nd eleven play, and then having cocoa up here to warm us up—and I brought out thy cake. It is lovely, dear; thank thee again for it—we shall be able to live by selling chocolate cakes if all else fails, it’s evident. But it is thy loving thought which makes it so welcome. I hope I shall never come to the state in which a man takes all kindness as a matter of course: I don’t think it’s likely. We will try and be sweethearts all through life, my darling: and why shouldn’t we succeed? I’m quite sure we shall. If thou had my faith, thou would know for certain that marriage will take us into fuller and uninterrupted love. That is why I want it and am only very temporarily satisfied with half measures. Not that I am not serenely happy, Mary dear, in our blessed comradeship—it is a treasure I am humbly grateful for at every hour of the day. I can never get over the wonder and the joy of the thought that there is a dear true heart that really cares for me, and to whom I may give my love freely.
I wonder if you are having a really good time,—I do hope so: and that all remnants of weakness are being rooted out of thy precious body. Perhaps in my absence thou wilt be really eating enough: do try. It seems to me that if thou ever loses thy appetite, I shall have to go and get meals at the School: or perhaps thou can retire to the bedroom, (like ‘the young lady called Maud’). By the bye I believe a cigar in bed is rather a good thing for assisting sleep: what does thou think of that?
I have been reading Chamberlain’s speech with some care. It is largely based on a use of the Export Statistics for the year 1872—which he knows perfectly well was a very exceptional year. If that is borne in mind, together with the fact that the general level of prices has greatly changed, his whole picture of a decaying trade falls to the ground. He also assumes (1) that there is an indefinitely increasable market in the colonies—which is absurd—some of them are scarcely growing in population at all, (2) that the colonies are likely to give up their protective tariffs to some extent, to suit us—which there is no reason to suppose. Then again one would like to know how he is going to keep on a duty on some foreign imports so as to benefit colonial farmers, and at the same time offer to knock it off, if the foreign nation will give us some other advantage: you might do one of these two things, but it is physically impossible to do both.
Anyway the Tory party is wrecked—that’s one good thing.
Yesterday evening there was a Monthly Meeting Conference on the Ministry—a sort of preliminary canter to the November yearly Meeting Conference. Joseph Rowntree introduced the subject, deprecating looking only at the small detail of Recording, wanting a general survey of the needs of the day,—the need of an intellectually qualified ministry, and difficulties of the free ministry in these busy days and the hope of help from Woodbrooke. We had an interesting discussion. I hesitated rather to speak but finally did some what to this effect: that a more important thing than learning was a humble and determined contact with life and its needs and problems, so many sermons seemed so much in the air—the question constantly occurred to one as one listened ‘what has this got to do with life’? If this was borne in mind, we might have sermons less confined to one religions phraseology, and a broader outlook as to what religion was—a thing that had to do with life and its battles and problems—and is as wide as experience itself. I felt for once to say pretty much what I meant to say.
Come back from Erin, Mavourneen, some day or other
Thy lover, Frank
Card just to hand from Dublin, please give my love to all. Am sorry to hear of thy being so tired lassie!
Bootham School (addressed to Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin)
My dearest Love,
Hurrah! And I’m so glad thou’rt excited. I expect thou thinks I’m viewing it with complete equanimity—Well! Thou may pretend to think so if you likes. The only thing is it looks as though thy father’s and thine and all of your holidays were being shortened for some reason—which is a pity. But oh! My dear lassie, it will be so lovely to have thee here again: if the week would only fly!
The idea of throwing the blame on thy teachers! It must have been a business indeed having to deal with such a problem as thee! Sweet possibly, but confoundedly wilful, I’ll bet! No, I think my sympathies go out to them—they did their best I’ve no doubt, and the point of their labours—well, it may be seen some day even yet. Why I expect thou talked in season and out of season—I don’t suppose the poor women ever got a word in edgewise; and as for persuading thee to take any advice or suggestion, why they might as well have gone and stood ‘upon the beach and bid the main flood bate his usual height’. This is my picture of the situation: isn’t it approximately correct?
And what of the future? Well, if Ernest is henpecked, what shall I be I wonder? The only question left therefore is—will the process be rather nice? I live in hope.
I don’t think anything has happened of any kind since I wrote last though it is two days ago. I had a nice quiet Sunday—with no duty except the Scripture class in the morning. That was about the early Church having all things in Common and so we had an interesting discussion on socialism: then came the monstrous incident about Ananias and Sapphira—which we read and passed on: and so on to Gamaliel. The early part of Acts is not very profitable: it is Paul that is worth doing.
Then in the afternoon, coffee and gossip in the masters’ room, followed by two hours of mingled sleep and reading—from Studies in Theology—a paper by Estlin Carpenter on Immortality.
I am so glad thou had liked the essays. We have heard of one that they were set to, who had been under the influence of some revivalist mission, and had got completely be-fogged (as to whether she had to strive I suppose, or it would all be done for her)—and this paper of A.P.’s came as a great help and light, and set her on the right track again. This is all very good: to me specially pleasing—I have felt that the bringing out of this book was not only a memorial of a lost friend, but a carrying on of the work he loved, in the cause of sound education and healthy Christianity; and in so far as I have had anything to do with it, a doing of some of the work that his death laid all the more upon me.
I went out to supper, along with Sturge and Benoit, to Seebohm Rowntree’s.
Today the programme has been much as usual—except that I received thy dear letter at breakfast instead of the evening as on other days. Before dinner I took my frock coat to the tailor to be done up (in honour of thy coming, madam, perhaps!), just to make it last a few months longer, till I get a new one for the wedding! There now, there are several things there to rouse thy wrath!) This evening a lot of Greek lantern slides came and I have been looking them through, before settling down to my evening task (or privilege, shall I call it?). Mabel told me yesterday about the Johannesburg plan, but it doesn’t seem likely to go any further—so we may get married yet!
I wish thou was sitting in my easy chair, sweetheart—and the door was locked! I would be in thy arms, and feel thy loving clasp about me again: and soon I will.
Goodbye, my own true love;
Thy lover, Frank.
Bootham School (addressed to Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin)
I thought thou might like to hear something about the debate we had last night, in which H.R. [Hugh Richardson] led off. It was one of the best we have had for a long time I think. H.R. holds that there are no political principles, or at any rate none yet discovered: nothing but attitudes of mind—mere prejudice and bias. The thing is like the hounds in a paper chase who get on to the high road and run ahead forgetting to look for the scent. Or again like a Rugby football scrimmage—in which all are pushing one another, the ball lies untouched, and there is no progress. The necessity of getting a majority is a fatal weakness: the thing becomes a struggle for victory, not for compromise and settlement. The evil effects of the tyranny of majorities are seen in the reception of the Education Bill. The criticism that the party system furnished was not a wholesome criticism—it was ‘organised pigheadedness’. The Church and the State were the two gigantic anachronisms of the age. The system evolved by some companies and societies of retiring by rotation seemed good, and seemed to have been adopted recently by the Cabinet!
It was a very able speech I thought: though not in the least conclusive of the point at issue. Chrichton (who led off), Theodore Rowntree, Sturge and I went for him hip and thigh: some ladies and other supported him; but we beat him on the vote by 21 to 9.
This afternoon we have had a good but silly football match, in which we had the upper hand all through but got beaten one to none.
Tonight a lot of the Senior Boys are going to hear Clara Butt, and Kennerley Rumford and others in the Exhibition: and I am getting a free ticket to go and look after them. Mabel was to have come (but won’t) and Baynes is making soup afterwards to show that a man can.
This is just a line—not to trouble thee—but to remind thee of my existence, and to send some love, Mariechen, if I may.
I think thou wilt come on Saturday, thy lover, Frank.
Bensham Grove, Gateshead
My own Beloved,
It’s nearly time for the last post. I wonder if there will be a letter from thee! I went to see Gertie and Sarah this afternoon. They did teaze, Gertie said thy came here to supper on Sunday, and Father informed them that he had left me ‘in the arms of Frank’, (he didn’t, and of course he only said it in fun) so Gertie said, ‘Poor Frank’, and certainly I am glad to think thou art getting a rest.
I went to the workhouse and had such a warm welcome, and so many blessings on my safe return that it was quite refreshing. I do love going there now, and it’s funny to think how I used to dislike it, and do it from a sense of duty. One woman got hold of my hand, as she was sure I must have got married, but she got hold of the wrong hand! (Gertie says she is quite afraid of hearing that we’ve suddenly been married!!) Poor old Katherine had been ill, and very much afraid she would die before I got back, but she was in very good spirits, and is now most interested in hearing about thee. She thinks thou wilt want to go and see Ireland soon. I asked her if I would be able to influence thee to go, and she said, ‘Oh yes, you’ll get your own way’, so I told her to wait till Christmas and perhaps she would change her mind. She thinks Ireland makes me look so well, but Tunis just the reverse ‘you’ll never go back there’. She is most amusing, but it’s mostly in the way she says the things. They are all so looking forward to seeing thee, but I shall feel quite shy taking thee there.
I was just starting to bicycle into town, when it began to pour, so I walked, as I wanted the exercise.
Ruth came home this afternoon; she looks much better, and has talked—well she does beat me at talking.
I went to see 2 old women who live near to-day, and they were greatly pleased to hear of my engagement. They ‘had wondered why no one ever thought of asking Miss Mary for she was a canny lass’! They think Bowes looks so very nice, and they must see thee. I do think this letter is horrid, but I’m longing so for one from thee.
Goodnight, Dearest. ‘Sweet be thy sleep, may angels around thee a loving watch keep’.
Thy loving Mariechen
I herewith send a just payment of my just debts. I hope it is right.
Bootham School (addressed c/o Mrs Shield, Station Rd, Low Walker, Newcastle-upon Tyne)
My own Mariechen,
I must snatch a few minutes between tea and going to Miss Well’s lecture to talk to thee a wee bit. I have had no time before, today,—unless thou would reckon a few minutes spent in skimming Chamberlain’s speeches, or after dinner in drinking coffee. It has been the finest day this term about,—we played football in the field for the first time for some days; and that is good for the souls both of boys and masters. The match with the Foxes team from London which we were to have had on Saturday next is unfortunately scratched; they can’t get up a team.
I don’t think anything has happened today beyond the usual routine: two Algebra lessons, two Latin classes—Vergil—would be good if boys weren’t such cows; one ancient History—this, about Sparta and Athens, I always enjoy almost more than any classes: also the making up of an Arithmetic and Algebra paper for Knight’s class to see how much he has got into them (or out of them) during the half term.
This is the time of the term when things begin to be numerous, and when one wishes one hadn’t postponed so many things during the previous weeks: and they come thicker and thicker for the rest of the term; I don’t know that the time they take is very vast, but there are so many strings to keep in one’s hands: eg the preparations for the F.G.T. Conference, a Sunday evening paper at the end of November, School Charades etc etc. What a different atmosphere all this is from what thou’rt in just now!
How art thou getting on, sweetheart? I think it was a doubtful experiment: but let’s hope it is being a success, and not very dreadful or dismaying. What kind of things art thou learning to do, I wonder?
This doesn’t reckon a letter—it doesn’t deserve to, anyway. I miss thee every hour of the day, my beloved. I hope thou art happy and in good form.
Goodnight, Mary my darling, thy lover, Frank.
My own Beloved,
Thy splendid letter this morning filled me with triumph once more that I had won such a heart as thine,—so simple, brave and true. I wonder who else but my own dear girl would be so gallant and unconventional as to take up the life and work that thou art having now. And I am so glad that thou art enjoying it—as I think thou art in spite of the dinner things! What a busy time thou art having, lassie! I think it is simply grand of thee to do it! And if I could love thee any more for it, I would. How I wish I could put my love into good enough words, dearest! That thou shouldst know to the full and over and over again how my heart and life are thine—They are not much, but they are all I have, and they are all given to her who is the best and dearest girl in the world: and I will try that this may mean good service and tenderness through all the time to come.
And for me there is the great and wondrous gift of Mary’s love—‘’Who can fear
Too many stars, tho’ each in heaven shall roll,
Too many flowers, though each shall crown the year?
Say thou dost love me, love me, love me—toll
The silver iterance!—only minding, Dear,
To love me also in silence with thy soul.’
But there! My mind flies back to Northallerton station and the warning thou gave me in the hour of victory—But thou hasn’t carried it out too strictly—but hast fed me with many blessings.
What does thou think? Nothing very serious,—only that I went and was photographed this afternoon!! I expect it’ll be a dismal failure: a camera invariably reduces me to gloom. But I believe the hair will be all right—and that’s the main thing I seem to have understood.
I wonder if we do eat too much: I don’t think the practice of the working classes is a good thing to go on: they are not mostly in the most efficient physical condition by any means, nor are they the best resisters of disease, I guess. Still it may be true—with one conspicuous exception—I’m, quite sure thou doesn’t eat enough.
Today and tomorrow we have to spend a lot of time rather barrenly, on making up and adding up marks for the mid-term placing. Happily I have a fairly small class to deal with this term. Fortunate people like H.R. who aren’t class masters are spared this: and in December and July when there are great sheets of marks for both exam and class numbers to get out it is a big job.
I don’t know which of thy letters I like best, I’m sure: but I love them all. Some perhaps seem to make thee live before me, seem to be talking to me, more than others. I think, madam, that thou has a literary gift for certain kinds of description: or am I prejudiced? By the bye when am I going to see thy Tunis paper? I do want to, but seem quite unable to get my own way, even in one little point! Alack! Alack! What a look out! But do send it me, please.
Suggest a subject for me, for an essay for our boys’ society. I have thought of Middlemarch: I think one could knock off in a short time a bit of a talk about Dorothea, and Mr Brooke, and the Garths, and Bulstrode, and Mrs Cadwallader and Celia. What a grand book it is! Such a multitude of clearly drawn men and women, such a complexity of portraiture all centreing round a few great themes. I think the scene between Dorothea and Rosamond one of the greatest things George Eliot ever wrote.
I am sorry I wrote such a poor epistle to thee yesterday—I must have been in a parched up condition—but thy letter has brought refreshing streams.
I clasp thee to my heart, Beloved, and kiss thy lips
Thy love, Frank.
My own Beloved,
I have often wondered, in the days of my youth, what on earth lovers found to say to one another in their perpetual letters (and I still wonder how they manage thirteen sheets, or three times a day!)—but now how natural and delicious it is to feel that one must write, even if it be very little or utter nonsense, to her who is one’s dear comrade—we belong to one another so! I do feel this very, very much, sweetheart, and it is lovely; try and believe this even if I sometimes write poor or short or prosy letters.
They seem to have had an interesting time at the Quarterly Meeting at Sheffield on Wednesday—especially the hearing of the Report on the Mount by the Board of Education Inspectors—a long document, full of praise, but discriminating and valuable. Two criticisms I hear were amusing to be passed upon a Quaker School—one that the governing subcommittee had only one woman on it, and the other that too much time was given to music! Another thing in the business meeting was, in connection with Adult Schools etc, a fine appeal by one of the young Doncasters, to the Ackworth and Bootham boys who were there, to give help in the future, even though they didn’t feel capable of what is generally called religious work: how their knowledge, say, of history or literature, or Natural History, or their experience of running school societies would all come in. This is emphatically the right line to take: if the modern youth hesitates to go straight from school and take to religious discourse or biblical exposition, I for one think he’s quite right: and I don’t think it arises from indifference a bit.
Still less do I believe that the Society is getting indifferent and careless because it is losing hold of the old dogmas,—as the last Yearly Meeting’s Epistle made out. No, those who have wrestled with old dogmas and had perhaps to give them up, are the strenuous people for the most part: and in many cases as they have abandoned the creeds they have got a deeper and stronger hold on the real things of life, and a growing purpose in it. My worship of Christ and the help I get from him is not dependent upon agreement with the creeds about his Deity, but upon the extent to which I love his character and admire his courage and accept his great principles of life.
This morning just as I was beginning a discourse to my class about Stephen and the Hellenists etc A.R. came in and turned the school out for a walk instead—it was because of an obnoxious odour somewhere—drains or dead cat or something.
Since dinner H.R. and Knight and I have been having a great discourse on Vivisection—in connection with a great pamphlet of horrors put into the Masters’ Room lately—called I think the Shambles of Science. I think it is written rather foolishly: the real question is: Is the humane and tender side of human character of more importance than all possible physical improvements? And if so, must vivisection therefore go? In other words, are ethical considerations supreme above all material questions? The difficulties are:– (1) physical improvements (such as knocking out small pox or hydrophobia) are great moral causes, and will help the moral uplifting of men. (2) need a man (like Pasteur for instance) who acts with great and good purposes, necessarily be degraded by vivisection? (3) we have to distinguish in our own feelings between disgust at revolting facts (which, may be, we ought to overcome), and indignation at animals’ agony. That an experiment makes us sick proves nothing. The question is why does it make us sick.
(I think in the case of vegetarianism that this nausea at the thought of slaughter houses and butchers’ shops often dresses itself up as a lofty humanity, when it is no more this than it is humane to faint at the sight of blood)
For these reasons I can’t bring myself to condemn all vivisection, though I would go a long way in stringently restricting it. It is a pity anti-vivisectionists won’t stick to the ethical question instead of trying to prove that vivisection has accomplished nothing. Have I been treading on delicate ground in all this, Mary dear? I think I wrote it partly to clear up my own ideas: there’s nothing like putting thoughts into definite words, for clearing them up.
I can’t tell what to suggest about acting. As to the people I don’t know them: as to the piece—well, has thou looked at The Dolly Dialogues? I think the pieces about George are funny: and also about old Lady Mickleham. But of course I don’t know what kind of things you generally do. But I’ll think about it some more.
I must get this off before meeting, for fear I’m asked out to supper.
What a lovely time we had a week ago, Mary my beloved! I think thou grows more precious to me every day, sweetheart—
Much love and many kisses, from thy own, Frank.
My dear Love,
I came back by the afternoon train after all, and got in to a late tea—and I have got two letters! to answer—and one a gigantic one—though I wish it had been thirteen sheets, except for thy sake. This will be about that, I think.
I will begin with the big one. I’m sorry my letters make thee cross—but I’m going to go on writing them all the same,—so get used to it if thou can! In my opinion we do agree on almost all important things—as to how to bear ourselves in the joys and battles of life like good men and true,—and those are the really important things,—things of character, moral and spiritual things. That we differ on vegetarianism, or pink dresses, or even theology, is in comparison of small account. And as to the deepest things we are surely hand in hand, are we not, in seeking the truth: and that is the great thing. If one of us was a Roman Catholic or a Plymouth Brother, to whom the whole matter is cut and dried and known for certain, and all others are anathema, it might be different: but we are alike seekers and learners who believe that faithful and reverent seeking is our duty, and will be rewarded—rewarded even now with that peace that comes with devotion to a great end, and, as years go on, with I trust growing satisfaction. I agree with thee that the older Friends may very likely have something that we have not: but what then? We must try for it in our own way. It will certainly never be our duty to try and imitate them by pretending to believe what does not really appeal to us as true. Whatever we have lost, we must stick to the truth through thick and thin. But indeed I do not believe that it was their theological views that gave them that which we have not got: but rather a resting upon that inward source of strength and consolation which is ours too if we will only take it.
One word or two in this very argumentative letter, on vivisection etc. I think all vegetarians, antivivisectionists and anti-vaccinationists are in the habit of resting upon the views of a very small minority of the doctors—who happen to agree with them! Now if you are going to appeal to medical authority, you must do so fairly—to those of greatest eminence and to the preponderant opinion. Why for instance accept the opinion of one person as to the right weights of foods and reject the opinions of a hundred others who hold that meat is important? As to vaccination, I think it is enough to point to the fact that the towns that go against it have mostly been scourged with small pox: indeed I never heard of any argument against it (though many in favour of immense care about the lymph) except that it seemed such a nasty unreasonable sort of thing to do!
I can’t think that thou means, Mary, by saying ‘surely there is nothing humane in fainting at the sight of blood’. That was just my point that there was nothing: but that there was a danger of not distinguishing between disgust at revolting sights and indignation at inhuman acts—the latter is a virtue, the former may be mere feebleness.
My dear madam—and now I’m going to give thee a lecture—if I’d known thou was going to show those photos of mine about like that, I should certainly never have given thee them. Goodness Gracious! Fancy putting them on the mantelpiece! I’m not going to send thee a new photo unless thou promises to put those juvenile ones away into thy coffers and treat them as private and confidential: so there!
I’m glad thou art going to get out of the doctor’s hands soon, and I’m grieved that he hurt thee: grieved also that I haven’t any notion what thou art in his hands for!
We had a very good meeting of the Education Committee: here is the programme of it. The address that the three of us were to bring in was not ready—as J.S.R. was ill part of the time. What will come of it I don’t know: J.S.R. has a great affection for extracts from the Book of Discipline, and I have a strong opinion that no-one will read them, and that they ought to be omitted and the whole thing cut down to about half its present length—so we shall have to fight it out.
The main discussions were: (1) on the fund called the C.E. Fund, but in future to be known as the Friends’ Educational Endowment Fund; and what precisely it was to aim at. The meeting was very strong on the need of increasing the remuneration of teachers, and broadly settled down to Fellowships for teachers, and Scholarships for scholars as the main objects. This, of course is a big fund for people to make bequests to and big donations, mainly. The discussions were excellent: A.R. amused people (and threw me into confusion!) by saying with what consternation he viewed the news of any of his men getting engaged to be married!, and so being likely to leave and seek better posts: and friends might imagine what a state of anxiety he lived in when he told them he had three engaged men on his staff. I don’t feel personally at all disposed to look out eagerly for other posts. I am an unenterprising person, as thou wilt find out, and much prefer to go on doing something I know I can do than fly to something quite fresh. But perhaps money affairs will appeal to me more now than they have done.
(2) the morning meeting today on the Quaker Text book. Several of us attacked the idea of the committee issuing any such thing, as partaking of the nature of an authoritative religious pronouncement, and because a free and untrammelled individual could do it more freshly and livingly. Eventually a committee was appointed to find some well concerned friends who felt a concern to do it. For further information see Thomas Pumphrey.
I had a pleasant though terribly flying visit to Sophie and her household—getting there at 10.15, and leaving at 9.0 am. She is very anxious to see thee, dear,—and hopes if thou art London-way anytime thou wilt look her up.
What frivolous things you are taking bets on such serious subjects! I’ll take that bet about Gertie—with all due respect to her.
Yes, I think we’ll try and have a very peaceful home, lassie; and I love very, very much to look forward to it, with my own beloved girl as its dear mistress—a haven of peace and love—for me I know it will be, sweetheart, and I will try and make it so for thee too.
Have I written thee a very dry and controversial letter, Mary dear? I hope thou won’t be ‘cross’: it is because I do like to tell thee everything, and because I do want us—not necessarily to agree, but to understand one another. So though stiff and argumentative, dearest, it does spring from a great love, and a desire that our hearts and minds may be open to one another, and so known and understood. But indeed some of the points are unimportant enough—so perhaps it’s only man’s desire to have the last word: but I think not.
No, I don’t think I do like pink. Don’t say ‘this isn’t interesting to thee’: it is, dear,—everything that has to do with my own sweetheart interests me—‘interests’ is an absurdly weak word. Perhaps an old blouse could be made into a waistcoat for me, could it? Or perhaps holes will be an advantage—I shall be able to tickle thee better.
Ah, very own beloved, I am thirsting for a sight of thy dear face, and a hearing of thy dear voice. How can I last till Christmas? I know not, but I feed upon the thought of the days to come when I shall have this treasure always with me, and there shall be no more absences and separation. Come into my arms, my darling, and let me clasp thee to my heart, and feel in thy love that we are really one.
Goodnight, Mariechen—from thy lover, Frank.
I over ran post time last night by mistake. I think I mustn’t write more now, but spare thee. I used thy sponge bag on my trip South and on the way back, feeling still a free bachelor, I bought a cigar!
One kiss on thy lips, dearest.
I send the proofs after all: which please send back soon. I think they’re horrid, but probably as good as I shall ever rise to.
My own Beloved,
This letter is a short one for no reason except sheer lack of time—I have absolutely not had a moment free since half past one, and now it is twenty to ten, and I must catch the ten o’clock post.
It was very, very nice to get thy letter this morning. If there is anything to forgive, Mariechen, thou knows I do: I cannot bear to think of thee being miserable, dearest!
Ah! I do want thee so very much, sweetheart: I want to feel thy love here close round me, in my arms and on my lips. Perhaps we are unreasonable beings—men—wanting women to come and soothe and entertain us when we are dull or tired: I wonder if that’s it. No, I think I want thee always, whether to love or to be loved—but indeed there is no distinction—it is one love I think that binds us close together.
Please thank Ruth from me for a delightfully cracked letter: I will answer it some day when I am mad enough: at present I am too sane. As to the photos by the bye I am quite serious: but I will withdraw if thou wilt send me a selection of thine own early ones.—there are some lovely ones in the album I remember. Malcolm photographed me when I was in the South—I wonder how it’ll turn out.
And now I must rush off.
I hope thou hast slept, for thou should have known, dearest, that thou art all the world to me,—that my heart is thine at all times. Ah how I look forward to Christmas when I shall have my darling’s own goodnight and morning welcome, and days of happiness together—and still more, dearest, to the future further off when we shall be united always and always.
Goodnight, my own beloved, thy lover, Frank.
My own Beloved,
I was so sorry to write thee such a feeble little letter yesterday—but I couldn’t squeeze in a moment anywhere. In the evening I had to go to an Arrangements Committee in connection with the coming Ministry Conference, and that took about two and a half hours. Today has been pretty full too—I have had a great lot of Guild literature to send off: and this evening there is the Annual Meeting of the Albert Library—but I’ve drawn the line at that—except perhaps that I’ll run along for the Auction of next year’s periodicals at 8 o’clock. Auctions are rather sport, but you do get landed sometimes—I bought the Spectator last year quite unintentionally.
I do wish I had heard thee read The Choir Invisible the other night: Ruth gave such a lovely picture of thee as thou looked that night. Teresa evidently is a person of insight: and thou may grow as conceited as thou likes, Madam—indeed I hope thou wilt. I’m afraid I don’t do my duty half enough in that way,—I mean in praising thee, dearest. I wonder why it is—perhaps because I love thy whole dear self so much, that I forget to dwell on separate things. Ah! I wish I could tell thee, my own lassie, what I really think of thee. Thou remembers my hasty words on certain occasions so well—but it is when I talk of thy truth and tenderness, thy sympathy and courage, sweetheart, that I am telling my deepest truest thoughts: and there thou art enshrined, my darling, and thy image there will be a better and better treasure as the years go by. May it be granted me to honour it purely and truly always!
What a busy life thou has! thou pretends I haven’t believed it—but I think it’s only pretence: I wonder if I shall see anything of thee at Christmas. Does thou remember that great discussion there was on the morning of the day we went to Tynemouth and Cullercoats long ago: everybody proposing different things—I think I wanted to stop at home—I hadn’t come to Gateshead to see the sights—I had all I wanted in the drawing room at Bensham. Oh and I remember the supper JWH and thou and I had together when we got back—the others were out: thou was jumping on me for playing football. But the times I remember best are the drive at Bardon Mill—I was energetic and meant to walk until I found there was room on the box—helpless as usual thou sees, and bound still tighter when the ride was over; then some time in the garden when JWH and Bertha were swinging and thou and I walked up and down: but most of all—I don’t quite know why—Prudhoe and thy seeing me off at the station: does thou know how kind thy eyes were then, my dear? I went away with their brightness shining on me, and felt happy even though it was our parting. But the happiness didn’t last long, did it?
How funny it is to look back on these things! I seemed to blunder over and over again through over confidence—and yet, thou knows, I was right every time! Thou doesn’t mind looking back like this, does thou, Mary darling? Some of those times were very sweet, even though there was a great question between us. I hardly even yet realize always that it no longer separates us: except when I have the treasure I have won here in my very arms: and feel her love freely and richly given to me—though I deserve it so little.
I hope thou art well and happy, Mariechen, getting a nice dress, taking lots of exercise, eating plenty of good food, reading plenty of political speeches, learning plenty of poetry (by the bye, instead of learning it, in the future mornings, like Evie thou might repeat it to me I think), getting plenty of sweet sleep, and knitting a little of the sock now and then—I’m sorry about the sleeve—but thankful it was nothing more precious—was it one with the baggy part at the bottom? I suppose so.
Lots of love, and many kisses (where would thou like them?), from Frank.
My own Beloved,
Thank thee so very, very much for the nice, long, frank letter—it came, as a ‘draught of vintage’ after days of drought. It grieves me very deeply to think that thou has to fight and suffer so, and all through me: but I will say no more about it, except that thou will know how I feel for thee, Mary dear, and long that some day I may bring thee some happiness that may make up for it.
I will post pone the idea of coming over, to another season—as thou suggests. I am glad you have had a good time at the Liberal Conference: I should indeed like to hear thy father at a big political meeting—though I have heard him so often, it has never been at a thing of that sort.
On Wednesday I went to Monthly Meeting at Harrogate: after the business was over, I gave them an account of the recent meeting of the Central Education Committee, speaking for about twenty minutes. I think people were interested—and I hope educated:– it is most important to keep friends roused and enlightened on educational problems—nothing can be done without a sound public opinion. It was of course rather awkward coming from me, because so much had to be about increased pay for teachers—but I told them I spoke as a member of the C.E.C. and of the Monthly Meeting and not as a teacher myself!—and I think I steered clear of any serious breach of taste.
In the warm evenings lately Sturge and I have reverted to our pipes, and have had a quiet time between ten and eleven on the playground, after the wearing duties of the day: there is little enough peace to be had as the end of this term draws near. This evening we extravagantly went and had tea in the city so as to escape from the place for a while.
My mother writes that she is looking forward to seeing thee in the holidays—though perhaps it won’t be at Ackworth—she talks of going away somewhere—partly because there won’t be very much room for us all at Bentinck Villa, and partly to get Jeanie away from Ackworth for a greater change. My only difficulty is that if we go into lodgings, shall we have two sitting rooms? We must try and see to that: or art thou so hardened that it wouldn’t matter?
By the Bye I have found that my total on clothes so far this year is about £10; so that even if I have to get another suit, it won’t get to more that £14. A note from Mr Neild the other day suggests that I must be giving up the Secretaryship of the Guild, because of an increase in my private correspondence!! Isn’t that foolish!
My dear girl, what late hours thou does keep, and what early ones too! Don’t over work thyself. Thy health is far too precious, my darling, to treat lightly. It looks to me as though I should probably have to take to a pipe in bed to while away the time waiting for thee!
Tonight is a big party at Joseph Rowntree’s, partly to meet Hamar Greenwood the Liberal candidate: I was asked to sing, but really couldn’t give up another evening this week—so am taking duty in the schoolroom as I write.
It was so sweet to have thy love and kisses, Mary my own best treasure—I hope thou art happy—
Thy lover, Frank.
I think we will be sweethearts always, if thou has no objection—married or single.
My own Beloved,
It was nice to get thy dear letter this morning. I am glad thou art happy: and hope thou art enjoying Evie and Elsa. What a disaster about the tomato and the dress! As to the velvet coat, I thought thou was going to look after it in some way or other: but indeed I am very doubtful about it: get an extra dress for thyself instead, in place of the tomato-ey one: it doesn’t matter what I wear I’m sure.
I went and got photographed again yesterday morning—and however they turn out, I’m not going again on any account—except to be taken with thee. I am coming to think the two I sent are not so very bad after all. The fact is thou forgets what I’m like and art disappointed with the reality!
Yesterday the Dalton team came over from Manchester—and we beat them two to one: it was a very hard game, and the ground was very heavy; so one was pretty well fagged out at the end. They were nearly all Friends, and five or six were old boys: Mascall stayed on at H.R.’s, and I went in to supper there with Knight,—and we had some whist, till I was afraid Hugh and Mabel—who were neither of them playing—would go to sleep.
The smoking carriage idea is an interesting one: I’ll bear it in mind,—tho’ it is thy suggestion, remember,—not mine. Perhaps thou would rather spend the honeymoon in different places—we could pay one another visits occasionally, but not too often—so that it would be almost as nice as being engaged, wouldn’t it? As to Sturge, we’ll go into the garden, or if there isn’t one, on the doorstep will be a good place.
On Friday evening I had my four assistant librarians in to supper, and regaled them on biscuits and cake and cocoa: they are all nice boys, and they chattered away like anything. Thou knows there has recently been a fire at Woodbrooke, and these chaps told me it was generally believed in the school that Mr Brayshaw had had to escape by climbing down a spout! All sprung I think from a conversation overheard between Sturge and Linney, saying what a pity there wasn’t a photograph of A.H.B. climbing down a spout in his pyjamas!
John Wilhelm Rowntree was at meeting this morning: it is a long time since he was here, and he gave a fine sermon, though rather long. He seems to think there is a danger lest we should get so immersed in social work, and be so full of housing schemes and so forth (of course not wishing to deprecate this for a moment), as to forget that progress will really come only in so far as individual hearts become more filled with the love of God. And I think he is right—these other improvements, pressing as they are, are only means to an end: and we tend to forget the goal in the heat of the contest.
I think it is very unlikely that I shall be able to stay the night: but oh, Mary dear, it will be lovely to see thee again, even if it is only for a few hours. Yet that is hardly long enough even for the first welcome of kisses, that have been due all these weeks—that I want to pay and to enjoy—hardly long enough for me to realize afresh—though I know it so well—what it is to have they arms round me, my darling. Yes, this will be lovely: but it will be better still when we can be together long enough to really do things together; read aloud, and go to things, and so on; really live continuously together in fact. Perhaps we shall manage it a bit at Christmas, but not properly even then, madam.
Remember always, Mary dearest, how thou hast brought joy and happiness into my life by the great gift of thy love, and because now I may love thee freely—Ah! And I do too, ‘freely as men strive for Right’, and ‘purely as they turn from Praise’ and ‘to the level of every day’s most quiet need’.
Thy lover, Frank.
My own Mariechen,
I wish thou was here beside me—for me to talk to—and I dare say thou would get a word in now and then too: it would be nicer than letters. I wish I could write better ones to thee, dear: giving them the fag end of time and energy instead of the best, is what I often do I’m afraid. But thou must forgive it—I would give them the best hours of the day if I could.
Last night we had such a splendid evening reading from Edward Bowen the great Harrow Master whose life came out about a year ago. Sturge reviewed it in the British Friend, and I think I shall borrow his copy for the holidays. E.W.’s reading was a very racy affair for a Sunday meeting: but very good—and the boys listened like anything. Bowen was of course the author of Forty Years On etc; and played football regularly till the age of sixty or so; and had an immense opinion—too high perhaps—of the educational value of games. ‘There is more religion in a good honest game than in half the hymn books’, or some such phrase, was quoted.
At the Monthly Meeting the other day Joseph Rowntree gave us a bit of a talk in which he referred to the position of the Temperance question: he evidently thinks the crisis a very grave one—as to the Temperance Party agreeing to support a practicable policy. He thinks the leaders have mostly come to see things clearly, but that among the rank and file there is appalling ignorance: and that if we don’t take care, a good Liberal Temperance Bill might be lost for want of united support, as the bill of 1871 was, and the cause be thrown back a generation. I see he has a good article in the British Friend this month about it.
I am grieved to find that the day I go to Scarbro’ on Peace is the day when we celebrate the American thanksgiving festival, in honour of our American Colleague,—by having a turkey for supper: I have been a persistent advocate of this, and now am going to miss it after all!
Yesterday there was an announcement of an intention of marriage, and as Sturge is clerk of the Monthly Meeting, notices of objection have to be given to him. We were chaffing him about this at the M.M., and it was pointed out that my turn would come—and how the boys would laugh! Mrs Theo Rowntree said I should be sure to stay away that day: I said I should do nothing of the kind, but should certainly go, and laugh as much as any one. It certainly will be rather funny: but perhaps Sturge won’t keep the clerkship so many years as that!
No! I don’t want a large house—for any body’s sake—certainly not my own, and not thine if thou art going to do the work thyself. But we shall have to have two sitting rooms I suppose! Why, our books will fill up one! And then bedrooms—that depends I suppose on whether there’s a damsel or not:—say three provisionally as a minimum. But as a matter of fact we shall have to take what we can get. I can hardly be said to have a house in prospect: all I said was that Theodore Rowntree was looking out for another house, and that I had my eye on his present one. And so I have, Madam, and I hope thou will take an early opportunity of calling there.
I wonder if thou wilt want a wallpaper like the one in Bertha’s drawing room: if so, I shall certainly go and smoke in the kitchen, and leave thee to practise Chopin in the drawing room by thy self. What wrath will have been burning in thy bosom during the last page or two! Never mind, lassie,—one disaster at once—and at present thou’rt nothing worse than engaged.
By the bye shall I send thee a copy of the rules of Football, or an occasional copy of the Athletic News? I think something must be done; and as thou resolutely refuses to come and see me play here, what the dickens is to be done?
One kiss—I think that’s as much as is proper from me while we’re only engaged—and a prospect of much love when there are more opportunities.
Thine in patience and hope, Frank.
My own Dearest,
Thy letter this morning was delicious,—full of the sound of thy own dear loved voice—and that is the best of all music to me, sweetheart. And then too the delightful photographs—what a terrified youngster thou does look! I don’t think it’ll be much like that on ‘a certain day?: I think we shall both be as cool as cucumbers.
Yes, I think I will come this Saturday—by the 12.50 from here—it is the train I came by on Sept 5th (is that right?), and missed the train at Durham and kept thee waiting so dreadfully—I won’t try the Durham business again, but come right thro’. I’m afraid staying the night is very doubtful: thank thee for thy postscript, dear; thou knows I will try for it if I feel able to. Ah, my dearest, I am longing to see thee—it seems ages since I lay on thy lap, clasped round by thy loving arms. How are the rough hands? Does this weather make them worse? I love them whether they are rough or smooth: I have known them a long time—and kissed one of them long before I was promoted to a higher sphere—So I feel they are old friends: and that still, in spite of their recent adornments. Does thou feel quite at home with it now, my dear? Or does it disturb thee sometimes, and make my dear girl feel rebellious? Remember, dearest, that it came only as a little token in celebration of our united and triumphant love: it was not I that was victorious, it was the true love in both our hearts that had conquered and was at rest at last. The giving of the ring was no convention, as I think thou knows: no conventions for me—I try to live up to the standard thou sets me in that matter,—has set me in fact down from Griffin days, or even earlier.
I am grieved thou has not been sleeping well, but glad thou art doing better now. Art thou really quite well, dear, and in good form?
Goodnight, Mariechen my beloved,
Thy lover, Frank.
My own Beloved,
I reached the station all right in heaps of time: but the train was very full and I had to get in a corridor compartment where there were six of us—smoking, and two of them worse for liquor. We had a funny time. An old buffer by me was in the talkative stage, made personal remarks all round, told yarns about his travels and gave advice freely on all subjects from marriage to railway tickets. A fellow opposite he put down as a doctor, and made an onslaught on all their ways. Me he put down as a Jew from my nose and curly hair (what does thou think of that?), and wanted to discuss the question of how Moses crossed the Red Sea. He told us how he had put up all the Ocean lights in the world except two! And lived ten months on a desert island upon dog biscuits and tinned meat. A young fellow opposite was an unhappy sight—evidently had been drinking heavily and was sick and ill and racked with headache—so that he rolled about the place. So it was partly funny and partly very sickening, and it was nice to come out and have a walk home in the night air and the starlight. I was in bed at a quarter to two: and by the aid of coffee am keeping awake this afternoon pretty well.
The first man I spoke of refused an offer of a cigarette because he said he was waiting for me to offer him one of my cigars! But I told him to get his pipe out and smoke it: but he never quite forgave me. The cigar was excellent—and the flowers look lovely, and the rug was very welcome.
How lovely it was, Mary dear, to be with thee again! Does my dear girl know how much joy her love gives me? and is she more reconciled to her fate?
My own comrade, I will think of thee very specially during this week in the memory of the terrible time six years ago: I feel as though I ought to give thee a double portion of love and care, knowing what thou hast lost: and I will try, dearest—I will give thee all I have -.
Now be a good girl; don’t throw letters about; drink the milk up; practice Chopin and everything else; and give my love to everybody. I hope Evie is all right, and Elsa better for being clapped [(slapped?)—I think it must be slapped!]
Thy lover, Frank.
My own Dearest,
I was delicious to get thy letter this morning: by the bye it came at about half past eleven—not at breakfast time.
That was amusing about the cigar: I think we might rise to a few, but must fix a limit, and of course only to be smoked in the kitchen, on the doorstep or in a bedroom. I think I must get Jeanie to give me a box, and then perhaps thou’lt get educated to enjoy their real excellence.
Yesterday evening we had an excellent address from J.W.G. on the Ministry from the point of view of his own experience—a bit of autobiography of real value I thought and full of most sound advice as to length of sermons, frequency, danger of self coming in and one’s thinking of preaching a fine sermon; danger of outrunning one’s inspiration, of getting into habitual speaking; advice to think out the course of argument and its conclusion, and to keep this clearly in mind—especially the conclusion.
At the school Evening Reading, instead of one of our usual hymns, I sang ‘But the Lord is mindful of his own’, and was in rather good voice I think: but the piece suits me, and of course the Library is a splendid room. Sturge gave an excellent talk to the boys on Social Service after they left school; winding up with a rather fine little poem of William Watson’s on The True Imperialism.
This evening the Ministry Conference kicked off: with tea first of all. I had some talk with Gertie, Herbert Corder, Mr Holmdens (about the Guild going to Cambridge), and others. After the meeting for worship, I stayed back to rig up the tea room and the writing room—so am, as too often, rather late for the really important work of the day—viz. writing to thee, my dear.
I have taken the proofs back to the photographer now, so we shall have to wait till the real things turn up: and we........[second page missing]
p.s. Here are some old letters I found in turning over thine of some weeks past. This letter seems prosaic: but imagine that it’s full of dearest love as it really is, Sweetheart.
My own Beloved,
I have two grand letters to thank thee for. I was so grieved not to be able to write yesterday, but I absolutely had no time at all from morning till night: else I should have liked to have written, rather specially. I am sending back several things in this envelope: firstly the Tunis essay, with some comments—serious and foolish—I wrote them in the train yesterday—hence their unreadableness. Also Box and Cox: I have come to the conclusion that I shall not be able to give any time to it this term. It is a question therefore whether thou cares to rely upon my capacity to learn it between Dec 22nd and 25th: I wouldn’t if I was thee, but it could be done, and I am game if thou wishes it.
Also the French letter: I am glad no one will decide for thee—and I’m not going to either. I shall certainly not think it unkind, dear, if thou thinks it worth while to go. I don’t think I quite see any adequate advantage to be got out of it, but the question is whether thou sees it or not—if thou does, go by all means. Is it as a piece of bachelor freedom, so soon to be lost, that it attracts thee?
Please send the photograph back: I didn’t intend it as a serious effort, but after thy abuse of it I am beginning to like it rather. As to the others, thou has not kept to the conditions, madam; and I am not going to send thee one of the new ones, until thou does. By the bye what does Evie say? I don’t remember anything about the steam launch, except being frozen to death, and thawing ourselves with coffee at the Fox Inn—if that is the time. Another time was from the Procters’ down the river: and Evie nearly steered us into the bank. But what either of those times can have to do with photographs or vanity, I’m blessed if I know.
I think we had a good meeting at Scarborough—though I don’t know that I did anything to be proud of. I got there a little after eight: Mrs Ellis and Mrs Cross were hostesses on behalf of the Peace Society to a gathering of eighty or a hundred teachers from the Scarborough schools. I spoke first, for about half an hour about on my usual lines, though dealing specially with the teacher’s question of how to deal with the rising generation. Joan Fry spoke for about the same time, illustrating very well how moral forces are real, and greater than physical, and giving an interesting picture of the hearing of the case between the U.S.A. and Mexico, in the quiet little court at the Hague.
I caught the 10.0 train back—(see if thy essay smells of smoke!)—and got back to a dish of turkey and sausages that had been kept warm in the oven for me. One couldn’t go to bed at once on top of that, so Sturge and I sat up talking by the fire till about half past twelve!
Today I told Sessions’s to send the Gladstone bill to thee—but they are awful apes, so thou mustn’t be surprised if they send thee a bill for notepaper or schoolbooks or something ridiculous instead or as well.
I am sending thee a few flowers, Mary dear—they are nothing much, but are a little message of my love and thought. If thou art not going to the cemetery, put them in thy own room, sweetheart. I am so very, very glad that I have helped thee, dearest, in the past. But it grieves me much that thou finds things so hard now. But some things are hard, and no power in Heaven or Earth is going to make them easy. But we have got fighting spirits given us, that we may delight to overcome; and a power of sticking hold of a purpose or a belief which our best selves really cherish, even in times when we feel heartless or blind or indifferent, or when the surface of our feelings changes from moment to moment. Never mind the shifting surface: let us stick to the times when
‘A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eye sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life’s flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.’
. . . . . .
And then problems will be seen in their real proportion: and they can only be dealt with in one of two ways, either don’t think about them, if they aren’t worth it; or if they are, wrestle with them and face them plainly. Will not love—not an airy sentiment, but the practical and encircling ‘bands of knowledge and reverence and comradeship—will not this love carry us through much, Mariechen? I have a firm faith that it will.
Please give my dear love to thy father and mother and to Ruth—and to Evie and to Mabel? Are they there?
And dearest of all to thyself, my beloved,
From thy lover, Frank.
Thank thee so much for thy dear letter. Will thou forgive me for not writing? Indeed, sweetheart, it was not that I did not think of thee—ah! As though there even was such a time, least of all on that day of all others! I was so glad to have thy recollections of the days six years ago—thoughts of the things that are best to remember I think—some of them—of Arnold’s smile of recognition: I don’t think I knew that he ever recognized you in the last day or so. And it is sweet of thee, dear, to remember the little that we did to help you—it was nothing at all and one did so long to be able to. Yes, I remember the wet walk very well—I wouldn’t go and get my overcoat, because I felt sure that thou would run off without me, if I did! And I expect thou would.
Arnold would have made a capital football player: he used to play half back in front of me, and was getting to be a very useful man. What escapades he and Hugh Gibbins used to be up to! They climbed up a rainwater pipe outside, and forced an entrance into Gopsill Burtt’s room (the room above Arnold’s) when he thought he was secure behind his double doors. But they had some more serious fights to make than that, with one or two men that there were about then—I don’t mean physical fights—and they came out strong there too, I know. I remember well the great discussions we used to have in his room at times—he and Gibbins and Gill—and I was there sometimes—but was still something of the schoolmaster perhaps—too much so for quite an equal footing. I remember persuading him to read at one of the Socials—with great difficulty. Indeed I bought my copy of My Lady Nicotine for him to read a piece from: I think it was the chapter called ‘My Brother Henry’. And then too we had great difficulty in persuading him to begin to shave—when it really was getting very necessary. He must have had thy affection for long hair!
I used to give him tutorials in Jevons’s Logic: in fact he had one with me the day he was taken ill. The poem is a beautiful one, dear.
We were to have had a match this afternoon with the Yorkshire College eleven, from Leeds: but weather and the appalling state of the ground prevented—for which I was sorry—I wanted some exercise and shouldn’t have minded the mud a bit.
This morning we sang ‘Dumb, Dumb, Dumb; in singing time: I felt a more personal interest in the subject than ever before!!
I have been trying to get on with my Sunday evening paper—but find it very hard: the inspiration doesn’t seem to come very freely: it seems very bald and abstract at present, but I hope will improve. It’s to come off a fortnight tomorrow, if it ever gets written. One difficulty with me is that the more I think about a subject, the more it seems to reduce itself to one simple statement—after which there seems no more to be said: which is silly, for purposes of converting other people.
On Tuesday there is to be a joint Debating Meeting of Bootham and the Mount—to consist of a series of semi-impromptu debates: this is an excellent thing I think. I have always thought it monstrous to have two schools like these so absolutely cut off from one another. I am a bit of a co-educationist in theory—or have leanings that way—though practically I have no desire to teach girls.
I don’t want to write less often, Mary dear, but if I do miss during these last three weeks of the term, thou wilt understand that the spirit is willing but the flesh unable to find a blessed moment. But I hope it won’t be so. For I do love to talk to thee, my own Beloved—Ah how I wish I could really—and hear thy own dear voice!
No! Sentimental wasn’t the right word—except in a very nice and special sense.
Dearest love and kisses,
From thy lover, Frank.
After the funerals to-day I had to go to the meeting house to a meeting of young friends to discuss something, and coming home with Herbie I somehow, by chance, began to tell him of how horrid I’d been to thee and of some of my difficulties. I wonder if thou thinks that a very queer thing to do. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned religion to him before; he is too reserved, and so am I in some ways, but I have felt so unhappy lately that I had to talk to someone, and he is so strong and sympathetic, and understands me rather well—too well when it comes to being told straight out of one’s faults, though it’s a good thing too!
He made me feel so much better that I want to write to thee—Frank dear, it’s been horrible the kind of feeling that I have had lately of wanting to be separate from thee. It wasn’t natural, but I didn’t seem able to help it, and I felt so miserable at feeling there were some subjects which I would never like to mention to thee. But dearest, wilt thou try and understand my difficulties? They aren’t difficulties to thee, and so I suppose it is hard for thee to see, but please do try and see that they are really so to me, and don’t just say, ‘it doesn’t matter’, for I feel that it does. Also, remember it’s very hard after persuading myself for years that it would be wrong for me to marry, now to try and think it is right. Often I can’t, and then I just regret my weakness of mind, and feel that I’m very wicked to have given in, for I simply can’t look on married life in the same way that most people do.
Herbie said to-night that I think too much about myself, and in some ways am selfish. I know it’s true, and it may be selfish to feel and wish perpetually that I could die, and yet it really seems to me it would be the best thing that could happen and not only for myself. I honestly don’t think it is very right for a person who gets as depressed as I do to get married.
I’ve written all this and never yet begun what I most wished to write about. Somehow I don’t see where to begin. I wonder whether thou hast ever prayed for me as I asked thee to years ago? It would seem such a help to me if thou has and does. Perhaps thou’llt think me very silly, but I’m not strong and good like thee, and yet, though my faith is so little, and I’ve felt too rebellious for my prayers to do me any good, I don’t think I’ve ever missed doing it for thee. what has come over me I can’t think—I always wanted to do the things thou wouldst have liked till now, when I’ve almost given up going to meeting, and almost hate being called a Friend.
It’s not that I want thee to say things thou doesn’t believe, though I do want thee to say thou believes in Immortality, for it seems to me without that there is no foundation for anything. I very rarely talk about religion to Father, but his firm faith I feel I couldn’t live without, for it is such a help.
What thou calls—or I imagine it—the ‘ordinary religious talk’, when it is genuine and true, feels far better and substantial than anything else. I’ve felt it so the last few days, when Uncle John was told there was no hope for him, and he talked to Aunt Nellie of how they would meet again, and Aunt Emmie who said it was so nice to feel that he and Aunt Etty had joined Nellie—I feel it so for Arnold too. Somehow to the older generation Christ seems a real living friend, which is not so with me a bit.
I don’t want to be narrow minded—I don’t believe everything in the Bible—but I cannot see why, as thou seemed to think—it is necessary to prove things scientifically. Hundreds of things are true that cannot be proved, and I’d rather have a true religious firm faith, however narrow-minded, than be able to prove things were wrong, for the people who have it are always the best, and one feels it instinctively with them.
Herbie was so kind—he brought me all the way home and stood outside arguing for ages, though I know it was very difficult for him to talk as he did—he says it is not easy even to live sometimes.
One thing I couldn’t agree with—he thinks I like to feel unhappy—how could it be true? It’s far too horrible.
If only I was still 22 I’d take all my ideas from thee and it would be alright, but I'm not, and I can’t just yet, though I hope I shall someday.
If thou doesn’t agree with all I’ve said, don’t be too emphatic, please dear. I do want to try and be ‘sensible’ again, but it’s not easy, and I don’t think thou hast the least idea of the real misery I’ve been enduring. If thou hadn’t been so awfully good and patient, I should never have been able to bear being engaged, for it’s more difficult than struggling on in loneliness.
We seem to have been all day at funerals—but sad though they are—they don’t make me feel as sad as a wedding—the latter is such a doubtful thing.
Uncle John’s was not exactly a Friend’s funeral, but quite as nice I think. His grave is just behind Arnold’s. After it we went to lunch at the Claphams. They were tremendously brave, and even went to Uncle John’s funeral, as well as their Mother’s. The day was fine, but bitterly cold.
At Aunt Etty’s Father read ‘Lord thou hast been our dwelling place through all generations’, and there was some beautiful speaking. I think it’s dreadful for Lionel and Norman living together with no Mother. They will feel so lonely.
The letter will last thee for the rest of the week I think. I daren’t write much, for I’ve lost all faith in myself—though I’ve still got a little left in thee.
Please, dearest, wilt thou tell me if thou likes the enclosed patterns. I’m sure it would be much better to get it done in York by thy own tailor, but as thou won’t, I’ll just hope this man won’t make it very badly. I believe black will suit thee best, though I would rather thou couldst have had brown.
I’m disappointed thou can’t act, and rather angry! with thee for not deciding sooner, for it’s left me so little time to get anyone else, but I’m not quite sure if we’ll be having the party in the same way this year. Anyway I expect a good many will stay away.
Sunday. It is Arnold’s birthday. It’s funny to think he would have been old enough to get married if he’d lived till to-day.
How very queer men are! I begin to think I can never have understood them a bit. I wonder if I’d ever got married, if thou wouldst no longer have been friends with me. I think thou would. But I must say I’ve lost faith rather in so-called friendship between men and women when I remarked that someone never comes here now, and rarely asks me there. Father said, ‘That’s because you are engaged and no longer interesting’. I was very indignant, but think after all he must be right. I don’t want others now I’ve got thee, for thou art far more to me than anyone else, but I think it’s stupid and annoying.
I’ve got behindhand in everything lately, and never even went down to the workhouse last week. I think I’ll go this afternoon. I would like to see thy paper for next Sunday; may I? Perhaps I’d better wait till it is over.
Someone sent me an invitation to Saffron Walden, but I don’t think I can go there as well as to Ackworth, and Ackworth would be the nicest I think, if when the time comes thou wants me to go there.
We miss Evie and Elsa very much. The day they went away, Elsa pretended I was the sleeping beauty and she the Prince waking me with a kiss. When that was done,—‘now we’ll have tea’ and then ‘the Prince is going to give you a bath’! The whole thing was gone through quite solemnly, ending with going to bed. It was so funny.
We’ve been arguing about ‘mourning’. Mother said I should have put on darker clothes to-day, but I said I couldn’t do it half and half, though I’m quite willing to get a black dress if she wants it. But she doesn’t approve of it—sometimes I think I’ll always dress in black, it would save such a lot of trouble and is really rather nice.
Father sends his love ‘to the person I’m always writing to’!
Goodbye, dearest. When thou writes again, write me a lovely letter like thou used to. I want it now. I left Father in bed this morning when we went out, singing at the top of his voice!!!
I long for a good big kiss,
Thy loving Mary.
My own Beloved,
If thou ‘understands’ me at all, thou wilt know that thy letter this morning ended a week of miserable uneasiness which was very hard to bear—thou didn’t want to write or be written to, dear, but I longed for both, but it was denied. But, knowing this, thou must next forget all about it, and think only of the sunshine that thy love brings me,—I cannot live without it, sweetheart—and if I am hard and faithless, Mary, why then I need thy love and help all the more.
Some of the advice thou gives me I did not think I needed: but if I do I will try and take it. I do know, Mary, how difficult it is for thee to make such a sudden great change—I know very well that I have nothing to offer thee as I ought to have, but that thou art granting me the great and undeserved blessing of thy love and of thy own sweet self. Do I not know that? Am I not humbly thankful for my prize every day? Have I really been guilty of taking it as a matter of course? Not in my heart, dear, at any rate.
And as to some differences and difficulties, I do not think they don’t matter: but I do think that they are things which need never separate us for a moment. That thou art tried by them, Mary, is a concern to me every hour of the day. Have I written flippantly about them or what, dear? Indeed I am much perplexed how to write. Thou forgets that when thou was in Ireland, I wrote thee two letters as serious as I could—I told my own heart’s beliefs as I never told them to anyone in the world: but it seemed to distress thee, dear—and thou said it was no good going on saying the same things over and over again.
Patience, Mary my dearest, is the thing for both of us. We shall understand one another better and better—I have that faith at any rate—and if I have been dogmatic or too ‘emphatic’ or hasty or unsympathetic, won’t my dear girl forgive me?
Some of thy questions I will not attempt to talk about in a letter: but I am so glad thou told me about thy prayers, dear: how all my sins seem to stand up again and condemn me, when I learn that I was all those years in my sweetheart’s thoughts and prayers. If I was kept at all near to what I ought to have been—and it was far enough away, alas!—it was my dear girl’s image in my heart that helped more than anything. It was a vision and a hope that must not be desecrated. I hope thou will not take thy ideas from me, madam, unless thou art convinced they are right and true. Have I been too emphatic, dear? I am so very sorry: but it is only my brief way of putting things—thou doesn’t think, does thou, that there was any severity in my thoughts. I think they are always gentle towards thee, lassie, and full of longings to help thee and be helped by thee. But I am a poor groping sinner, and thou must be patient with me.
Am I to come at Christmas, madam? I’m sorry thou shouldst be angry: why, I can’t imagine—I gave thee my answer about a fortnight ago—it was only that Mabel nearly talked me over again. But what decided me (perhaps) was the wish to see thee and her do that other piece about the cook. Here are the patterns back: thank thee for them. I prefer brown to black I think, but I have washed my hands of such an extravagance,—get a blouse for thyself instead. John Edward Walker said in a letter to me that Mrs W. would be very pleased if thou could come to Saffron Walden: it would be nice—but not of course if it were instead of the later time, but only if it were as well. My mother talks of going to Scarbro’ if she does, I am stipulating for two sitting rooms at any rate!
What an excellent idea of Elsa’s. I think that’ll make an excellent game—but I don’t know about the bath I’m sure.
My darling, my darling, how I am longing to have thee once more beside me—ah!—more than that—in my arms, and with thy dear tumbling hair wandering about my face, and thy lips against mine. How delicious after the turmoils of these closing weeks to be at peace in my beloved’s arms again! Wilt thou have me, dear? I shan’t want to do anything at the beginning of the holidays, but be lazy and listen to thee talking,—or playing! or singing!!—but probably thou’ll be cooking and rehearsing—in which case I shall chew tobacco and sing psalms like George Fox.
Men are ‘queer’: but it’s nothing to the ‘queerness’ of the frailer (?) sex. There’s an excellent joke in this week’s Punch: if thou has not seen it, get hold of it—thou’ll know which it is—if thou doesn’t like it, pass it on to Ruth with my love.
My dearest, it is one of thy duties to thy future husband to keep him informed as to the state of thy health: art thou standing this measly weather? I feel inclined to echo the words of the apostle James ‘Be ye warmed and filled’: but am equally unable to do anything more practical at this distance.
The week is horribly full up: to-morrow Twelfth Night, Wednesday Monthly Meeting, Thursday afternoon Mrs A.D. at home, —show of paintings and pottery—Mary Watson and Nelson Dawson etc etc—I have to sing—Mrs R sent a special invitation to thee, dear!—Friday—singing at a Liberal meeting—and so on: and then come the exams.
Can thou tell me of any presents to give to thy family, lassie? Or would it be possible to get something on the 23rd in Newcastle along with thee? or wilt thou be far too busy?
It seems to me it’ll be confoundedly cold in the garden!
I’m afraid this isn’t a ‘lovely’ letter, sweetheart! But it is doing its best to bring thee my dearest, dearest love, and some loving kisses on thy cheeks and hair and lips;
Mariechen my Beloved,
From thy lover, Frank.
Many thanks for thy sweet letter. [large ink blot] (Please excuse the blot—it will do for a kiss!) We heard this morning that Evie isn’t well, so as Ernest has been a very long time alone, I wrote to ask him if he’d like me to go over for a week, but I hope he wont, and probably he’ll go to York for the week-end.
I felt dreadfully tempted to come to York by an excursion train to-day, but was afraid it would bother thee as thou art so busy.
I’m sorry to disobey the commands of ‘my lord and master’, but if thou doesn’t tell me about thy health, why should I about mine? If I was ill, thou’d hear it soon enough—however, it looks as if I was quite up to the mark, doesn’t it, when I tell thee that besides my swim yesterday I walked about 11 miles to and from the town, and felt fresher at the end of the day than the beginning? and I’m so happy again now.
I think the only way for thee to get a proper rest here will be for thee to lie in bed to breakfast—I’ll bring it up to thee—but if thou goes to sleep again afterwards, thou’llt have no peace till thou gets up!
I’m sorry we don’t seem to have the 2nd number of the Independent Review, and Father hasn’t quite finished with the 3rd yet.
Elsa remembered the message, did she? I somehow wanted to send it, but I wouldn’t say who it was for, but I heard Evie whisper it to her!
Thou mustn’t be a ‘blind and partial lover’ dearest. Someday there will be a painful disillusioning. (I don’t know if that’s a proper word.)
To-day I’ve nearly finished getting in my subscriptions—such a mercy for it’s tedious work when it’s too muddy to bicycle. There’s a great deal of distress, and many people out of work, so some can’t pay. The rather better class of poor people hate saying they can’t pay, and I feel so sorry for them. I’ve got to know a great many of the members now, and they are usually so nice and friendly. We’ve got a rather flourishing Society, and always have a good balance! One thing thou mustn’t say—please—which is that I must not take my ideas from thee. I must and I will try to, for of course they’ll be right. I’ve discovered partly why I find it so hard—because I see now that I’ve invariably taken them all from Father—(or Mother). Just because he tried to make us see 2 sides of a question, and find our own answer, I always took his view, or if I didn’t generally wished I had. As I’ve always considered him about as perfect as anyone can be, it has been nice. If he’d tried to make me see his way, I’d probably have gone to the opposite extreme—as it is, I have never even said a few words even at Benwell, or anything like that, without having them criticized by either Father or Mother or both—and so on in everything. Suddenly I began to realize that someday I must depend on thee instead of Father, and instinctively feeling that in some ways thou didn’t think the same as he did (even though it may have been better) I felt perplexed, and worse still cross. Forgive me dearest—it was horrid of me; but so that I don’t do it again, thou must really let me—no, try and make me depend on thee for everything.
And that reminds me—thou wouldn’t even advise me about Paris, so feeling at that time the further from York the better of course I decided to go, and now I simply can’t think of it, it seems so awful. Father said he was very sorry to hear I’d got hold of a nice place (at first he said he must go to see it) but he wanted me to do as I felt best. The thing that stopped me most was the feeling it might be selfish to mother, as she has more work when I’m away, but she said it wouldn’t be, and I hope that perhaps they’ll go away early in the year, for they both need a rest.
I haven’t seen Punch yet.
Is thy hair nice and long, and are the grey hairs disappearing?
Thou art rather unkind not to let me have thy photos, but I’ve got a better one in my mind, and I’d rather have all those lovely little ones. But thou art very obstinate. Ruth says brown velvet would quit thee. Thou art evidently not vain, but thou might take a little interest in the velvet coat!!
My dearest love,
I feel the pleasant placid feeling of a Saturday evening, just comfortably tired with football, having finished off most of the duties of the day, and with an easy Sunday to come. But if I was able to have a quiet pipe over my fire, I should be more comfortable still: and perhaps, dear, there’s another way that would be a little better still!
Won’t it be lovely to have a good week together, dearest? We have never had such a thing since we were on the Griffin—and even then I could only get a look in sometimes, thou knows. I think we shall be able to get over our shyness in a week. I am looking forward to hearing thee talk, my dear—I shall be too lazy for anything: not to mention hearing thee play and read. What a selfish thing man is!
We had a very muddy game this afternoon: the Cocoa Works led by 3 to 0 for a long time and then we made a draw of it in the last twenty minutes—which was good: I didn’t feel much use myself, and I am a little scared of my leg on a slippery ground. Does thou understand the off side rule yet? and what does thou think of the prospects of the Test Match in Australia? I think M Coquelin’s way of passing the night a good one—except that a pipe would be better than cigarettes: though for thee I should say cigarettes.
I have finished my paper but haven’t copied it out yet. I sometimes feel very disgusted at the idea of my trotting out a lot of sublime sentiments and giving oceans of advice—I don’t feel as if I had any business to do it, and wonder if it’s all humbug really. Someone has said that there is an element of bad manners in all preaching: and I’m not sure that there isn’t—at any rate in my present mood! I have invested in the Great Northern Ordinary Preferred paying 4%—recommended by the broker: I hope thou approves. Has thou got the desk thou talked of? Thou and I won’t have much temptation to luxury I suppose: and yet we mustn’t fall into the usual practice of condemning as luxuries just those things that you don’t feel necessary yourself—I think it’s an awfully difficult question. The only clear thing is that luxury is what has a deteriorating effect on the character—but then it is difficult to judge this without prejudice.
There is a splendid discussion of Asceticism in James’s Varieties of Religious Experience—in the chapter on the Value of Saintliness. What does thou think of this?—‘Is not the exclusively sympathetic and facetious way in which most children are brought up today—so different from the education of a hundred years ago, especially in evangelical circles—in danger, in spite of its many advantages, of developing a certain trashiness of fibre? Are there not hereabouts some points of application for a renovated and revised ascetic discipline?’—worth thinking about, I think, whether one agrees or not. The same passage contains a striking quotation from an Austrian officer, about war—which I generally trot out in my Peace harangues.
My dearly Beloved, I hope in these busy days thou art keeping well and strong in body and soul. How I am longing for our time of meeting once more!—I suppose it will be in a station again, as usual! Does everybody else care as little for surroundings as we do, I wonder? I don’t fancy so, but I’m sure it doesn’t matter whether they do or not.
I enclose an officially expressed invitation for thee for the Show: I have sent out about a hundred and fifty of these today, with the help of some boys: as also some two hundred programmes and voting papers to the A.G.T.
Art thou being a good girl and eating plenty, and drinking plenty of milk? Please give me an exact inventory of what thou has for dinner to morrow.
Good night, dearest,—lots of true love and kisses, from Frank.
My own Mary,
Thank thee so very much, now again as always, for the many blessings of delightful letters that thou gives me. I am a happy and privileged being, sweetheart—for I have won (or half won, shall I say?) the dearest and sweetest girl in the world—she is so, though she does so often make herself out all sort of funny things: but I know very well what a treasure and a prize is mine. Ah, Lassie, would that I were more worthy of it: but if I can give my darling some happiness sometimes, perhaps she will forgive the failures and shortcomings. I do long to, and I will try, dear.
What are we going to do at Christmas particularly I wonder? Thou wilt have to make the plans, madam—I shall want nothing at all, so long as I have thee, Mariechen—and I shall have now and then, shan’t I? What a naughty girl to pretend she thinks I am as cool and indifferent as......as......well, as if I were prepared to wait two years, and run away to Paris meanwhile. No! No! Dear, that won’t do. Ah! I wish the days would fly, and bring me to thee. I want to feel thee, dear: how can life go on all these weeks, without a touch of thy hand, or a feel of thy loving arms, or a kiss from thy dear lips.
It’s no good laying the blame on the men, young lady: they are helpless before the blandishments of—no, no, the sweetness and charmingness of thy sex. And if a man wants Gertie as a comrade through life, why, he couldn’t very well give a better proof of his sense than that; and if he’s worthy of her, I hope he’ll win her: No, it won’t do to set up that standard—so I’ll say if she can love him, I hope she will. I wonder who he is: do I know him? Has thou been at thy matchmaking again, my friend? Alas! Alas! when shall we get to the bottom of woman’s wiles? I hope thy excitement won’t quite destroy thy appetite: because my presence does afterwards, so altogether thou will fare rather badly. Keep cool, dear: just pretend we aren’t engaged, or are married, or something calming of that kind. Remember thou said it had got to be done again—though why in the garden I can’t imagine. I’m not going down on my knees on the wet grass, in my best trousers, I can tell thee: if thou doesn’t mind I’ll bring my football things and do it in them.
I daresay we can manage the meeting in the station: if necessary we can get into an empty carriage somewhere about. Not that we were particularly affectionate last time we did that, were we? Thou preferred to put it off till the last moment—a sort of pill, dear! Thou hast become hardened since then, or softened perhaps! How is thy growing propriety showing itself I wonder! I will try and shatter it if possible.
I’m not sure about my mother’s foot, but fancy it’s a little, but not very much, shorter than mine—perhaps a fair amount—I don’t know. I am sorry about the dress and cloak: poor old thing! Wear dresses down to the knee, and then it’ll be all right—what thou wants is a meek and well trained husband to trot about and carry parcels for thee.
Please give Ruth my love, and thanks for her illustrations: I have been meaning to write to her for about a month, but it doesn’t seem to come off. I should like to have heard her yell—what an unseemly riot you must have been having! Was she in pretty good voice?
Thou doesn’t want to hear what exam papers I’ve been setting and which I’ve corrected and so forth, does thou? There isn’t very much else to record just now. We are talking of running a fruit club next term instead of a coffee club: what does thou think of that? I’m afraid it wouldn’t keep us awake so well, and it would be difficult to do it very well for the same money: but it might be better, and would be a change any way. Quiney threatens to start a shredded wheat club in opposition! I think we are in a frivolous condition,—and it’s very necessary at this stage—if life is to be bearable at all.
For my part, sweetheart, I am living for next Tuesday—when I shall meet my own dearest, dearest girl and clasp her to my heart.
They true lover, Frank.
13 Valley Bridge Parade,
My own Beloved,
How strange and stranded I feel without my darling girl! and yet I came away with such a joyful sense of being wrapped round with thy love, dearest,—that the wrench of parting was made less unbearable than it would have been—but it was hard, dear!
We were twenty five mins late at Darlington, and I thought it was all up for my train at York: but we came along finely and made up some time—and I caught it by the skin of my teeth.
We are in the road leading from the station to the Valley Bridge—not much of a situation, but a very nice sitting room. Mother and Jeanie seem in pretty good form I think: they are immensely pleased with the photograph: I haven’t sprung the velvet coat on them yet. By the bye I never properly awoke to the fact that the coat is a part present from thy father—it is, isn’t it?—I am a little mixed—but thou must make him understand my gratitude for it—I like it tremendously. Let me know my own indebtedness for it when the bill come in.
I feel that I ought to thank everybody very, very muchly for the welcome they have given me into the Christmas circle: most of all thy father and mother, dear: I can never tell them how I have felt about it. And then I have come to know them better and see even better than before how splendid they are.
This isn’t a letter, dearest—it’s only a glorified postcard. I do hope that when thou gets it thou wilt have had a good night’s rest, and be about to eat a thumping breakfast.
My own, own Sweetheart, we have grown closer together even than before,—haven’t we? To think of going a week without my beloved’s kisses! I suppose the time will go somehow.
Dearest love, lassie, from Frank.
I hope Ruth is better: what would she say if I sent her a message of love and kisses?
My own dearest, dearest Frank,
It’s dreadful to have to go back to letters again, after having thee. Even Mother has been quite unhappy—when I said to her at dinner time:—‘what are you thinking about?’ she said ‘Frank’, and Father was quite distressed because thou had never tasted the marzipan! Oh! I do want thee back again—how can I do without thy sweet goodnight kiss?
Dearest, thou hast been so good and kind and patient, and I know I’m often horribly unreasonable and cross and horrid, but I’m really and truly sorry and I will try to be good and not rebellious if I possibly can.
I do hope thou had a nice journey and caught the train at York alright, and didn’t catch cold. Thy travelling companions looked very unattractive. I hope ‘My Lady Nicotine’ was soothing.
I just caught the train home, and spent a long afternoon at the Workhouse. I told some of them my reason for going there to-day, and indeed it acted well, for ‘he’s proper’, ‘he is a fine young gentleman and will make a splendid husband’, etc etc. One or two people were dreadfully disappointed not to have seen thee! I am so glad thou went, dearest, for it was such a pleasure to them (and to me). The poor old man who is doing our mat is very ill—at least has been ill.
Ruth has been sick at intervals all day, and is rather miserable. I hope she will sleep, and then she will be better.
I’ve had a great struggle with my accounts, and got them fairly correct, now I’m doing the W.L.A. ones, and they are wrong, which is awful.
My own beloved, it has been delicious having thee here; thou doesn’t know how proud I am of thee, and it is so nice to feel that perhaps thou art getting a little fond of my own dear home.
Goodnight my dearest. Try and feel my kisses and my love.
Thy always loving Mary.
13 Valley Bridge Parade
My own Dearest,
What a lovely and delicious letter, this morning! And yet it is terrible not to hear thy own dear voice really talking to me—though indeed the echoes of it seem in my ears every minute of the day: its ‘ceaseless chatter’, sweetheart, is very sweet to me—I do listen to it, and I do love it—I want no better music ever.
I found one or two presents waiting for me here—a copy of Sir Thomas Browne’s Religio Medici, from my brother Bedford, and two very nice candlesticks—at least I think so—from my sister Lillie. And my Mother gave me five pounds—that we will keep, dear, like the other five, and spend when we know better what we want.
This morning Ernest Rowntree dropped in, on his way to the station—he was just departing. I asked him about the Liberal candidature for Scarbro’ now that Rickell has decided to withdraw,—and he smiled and said there would be some interesting developments, but was sworn to absolute secrecy at present. I wonder what on earth he meant,—whether his father is going to stand, or what. Then his father, and John Wilhelm turned up—the latter is very keen to get me out to Scally some day: I shall very likely go on Monday.
After dinner I smoked a pipe and read Mr G.—but went and fell asleep for more than half an hour: I have done the introduction and the first chapter. Then before tea Jeanie and I went a walk on the South Cliff—it was splendid but bitterly cold—the bay looked very fine in the evening light, with the circle of the town beginning to be lit up.
By the bye, dear, it was a beautiful day in York when I came through—the river looked as blue as blue, and the sunset light was on the Minster towers!
I wonder if you have had the proof of the other photo of us yet, and if so what it’s like: probably not as good as this. How many will you want? Thou might order half a dozen for me to start with perhaps. It is so nice to have the proof. I am in such a love-dreamy state, lassie,—I’m sure I shall be doing something silly one of these days.
I do long to be telling thee again, dearest,—and over and over again—how I love thee more every hour I was with thee—and yet it could not be, for I was overflowing before. But I saw afresh what a vigorous and helpful maiden I had won: and I blessed the fates—or my own persistence?—or thy loving kindness?—that had given me such a dear and good mistress, a queen whose service would be so good and blessed.
My own Beloved, I do feel thy kisses and thy love; and they bring me happiness even here in the wilderness.
And now goodnight—and don’t think it ‘premature’, sweetheart,—if I come in spirit to kiss thee and clasp thee in my arms before thou goes to sleep.
Best love, Mariechen dearest, from Frank
And I have omitted in all this to wish thee a happy New Year! Ah! How I do long, dear, that it may be filled with real and true and deep happiness for thee: how proud I shall be, dear, if I can bring thee some. The old year is going—thou and I, beloved, will have some tender feelings for it now and always. It has brought thee trouble and perplexity—but I hope too—Ah! I know—a portion of great joy and of good and great hopes: for it has brought me these, and I know our love is one and indivisible. May the New Year bless thee richly, dear.
Please wish thy Father and Mother and Ruth a very happy New Year from me.
13 Valley Bridge Parade,
My own Dearest,
Thank thee for thy darling letter this New Years’ morning, with all the love of thy heart, that is so precious to me. It is sweet beyond all words to think that we are going to walk together hand in hand through the year that is opening. I think I am realizing more and more how glorious it is to have a dear true comrade to love and be loved by, and to trust unreservedly in everything.
Last night Jeanie and I sat up by the fire and saw the New Year in: I read Gladstone and finished Book 1 where he has done with Oxford.
Today I have started the Egoist—which seems likely to be good sport. We don’t seem to have done much today: this afternoon Jeanie and I went up Oliver’s Mount, and on our way back called on Mrs George Rowntree—I and she are first Cousins. Mrs A.R. was there too. The number of people one knows is appalling—I only went out for a few minutes in the morning and succeeded in meeting Malcolm Rowntree (a Bootham boy), Mrs Joshua, Herbert Walton, Mrs Cross, and Mrs Bedford Pierce. Mother and Jeanie went to Allan Rowntree’s, and ran across Mrs Edgar Edmundson.
This evening I have been doing a lot of Guild business—happily it is nearing the end now. And soon I shall be singing a few songs: does thou remember how it was only thy orders I would take about songs? What a lot of them have always been bound up with the thought of thee, sweetheart! right away down from the old Griffin days. I think those days seem nearer now than they have done for long—and transfigured now, dear!
Here is a belated congratulation thou may like to see.
I hope you had a good time at the party: who took thee into supper, my dear? I don’t think thou scores much by being engaged if I only take thee in about twice a year: some day I’ll be taking thee into supper every night—in the kitchen perhaps!
This is a poor letter—but oh! How I am longing for my own dearest girl!!
Sweet dreams, beloved.
Love and kisses, from thy lover, Frank.
My own Sweetheart,
Thy dear and loving letters have made me so very, very happy, revelling in the joy and strength that thy love gives me—even though they made me feel very unworthy too, and humble—But oh! so full of gratitude that such a blessing has been given me—the blessing of being loved, and of being able to give one’s love unrestrainedly.
So thy confident hopes have come true: it is very, very delightful. Why, we shall soon have lots of young couples to patronize, dear! But no! We’ll remain a young couple ourselves for long enough yet, lassie,—won’t we? Yes, it is very lovely: and it does seem to help us to feel all afresh as it were our own joy, in knowing of theirs. Curiously enough Hugh and Mabel had not heard: I went up to her and said ‘This is interesting, isn’t it?’ and she said ‘What is?’ She had had a delighted postcard from Evie, which had been quite unintelligible to her. I am going in there to tea in a few minutes.
Thy sweet letters, my darling, made me quite conscience-stricken (it looks as though I had one after all!) that I had been so long in writing and had then only written a very dry and unfeeling letter. I hope thou forgave me dear, and read into it heaps and heaps of love—for it was all there really.
When will they be married, I wonder, and what in? What about beards and top hats? It was very interesting to hear about thy canvassing. They are going to start a very systematic visitation or rather distribution of literature in York—the whole place has been portioned out, and is to be periodically deluged with Free Trade leaflets. Let’s hope some of it will stick. I see Mr Mosley is speaking a good deal this week up in Scotland.
I don’t think much has happened here. I gave my usual scripture lesson this morning of course: we are about half way through Acts, and I spent half the time in revising what we did last term, chiefly by questions, and then went on with a bit about the Roman Empire in the days of Paul, and just launched him on his first missionary journey—getting him as far as Cyprus. It is interesting stuff, quite,—but as in most other things one wishes there was time to read extensively,—from Ramsay and others. We have a most excellent Biblical section in the library now: but where’s the time coming from?
Mrs Philip Burtt broke to me this morning that my Grecian talk to the Book society is to be on March 1st—rather earlier than I thought: so I must be taking that in hand soon. It will be mostly about Troy and Knossos I expect. Another batch of slides is coming in a day or two.
I went up to J.S.R’s to dinner today, but escaped in time to write this letter. Edith got me to sing ‘Rest in the Lord’ before I came away—which I think they liked. I just spoke to Eva at Meeting this morning about the exciting news.
Mrs Theodore Rowntree says she saw us in the cafe at Scarborough, but did not want to disturb us: she seemed to think thou saw her, but I said not. Ah! how I wish we were together again, dearest! I am so glad thou art happy, and so glad too that thou wants me, lassie. What wonderful holidays we have had: I do not know whether they were long or short—time seemed to be obliterated—in my mind it is an alternation of happy moments in big chairs or on the floor, with jolly walks in wind and rain—not to mention the mud and the sea!
Goodbye, my own dearest girl: no more cold or cough I hope. Give my love to thy father and mother and Ruth: and there is all my heart for my sweet mistress, Frank.
I am so glad thou stayed in bed, though concerned that it should have been needed. I wish I could have brought thee some breakfast, and given thee a morning kiss—as I long to do. Life seems grey and prosy without my Beloved’s sweet presence. But sometimes I can feel again her arms about me, and her heart beating against my own—tho’ it wasn’t always very strong certainly.
Thank thee for the enclosed note: under the circumstances I should say close with it—perhaps thou has already done so.
Don’t worry any more about Paris, lassie. If thou has made up thy mind that things at home need not knock it on the head, then the matter is settled, and I hope thou will have a pleasant and profitable time.
I hardly know whether to look forward to next week or not—it will be delicious to see thee again, sweetheart: but I shall have to brace myself for the long absence: Ah! my dear, my dear, how could thou think that work or football or anything else could be weighed against the loss of my own dear girl! I am so lonely with thee, Mariechen—though indeed it is not the old loneliness of an utter separation—yet again in some ways it is harder, after one has tasted, as we have done so blessedly, the glorious happiness of true love, together. I couldn’t help thinking about thee nearly all meeting time yesterday, dear: and some of the funny scenes nearly made me laugh out right: for instance my coming upon thee and thy screaming, at Bertha’s, and lots of others.
Bertha wanted me to go to tea today, and on up to West Mount to a Liberal Meeting to sing, but I wouldn’t—hadn’t time: she came and called—interrupting me in the middle of an English History Class with the Upper Schoolroom! I was talking about cave men and Celts and things. I didn’t invite her in, either.—into the class, I mean.
I am writing this in the Schoolroom, where I am taking prep. duty for Quinney, who is in bed.
I showed Mabel our joint photo yesterday—and she was greatly pleased. Hugh hoped the man was not touching the others up at all, but leaving them as in this rough proof.
We had a masters’ meeting this morning to hear the Board of Education report on the School as a result of the inspection last May—it has been a long time! It was a good report, very—showing insight and knowledge and making useful suggestions—besides much praise.
I seem to have got on my brain a vague outline of the song Marie Edmundson sang to us at Scarboro’—but can’t remember any of the words except ‘My Beloved, my Beloved’—but that is the root of the matter after all.
Art thou going to start again on Being and Doing, dear, as thou said? Or what? I should so like always to read what thou art reading day by day. Does thou know the collection Poems of the Inner Life? I think the nicest thing would be for us to arrange a set of readings ourselves. Only it wouldn’t do very well when thou art away—it would have to be one book then almost. What does thou think, dear?
How are the young couple getting on? I must write this evening to congratulate them—speaking as one who knows.
I hope thou will be quite well when thou takes thy journey, Mary: I am grieved to hear of thy being tired, and having to stay in bed. What’s wanted? More beans? Or what? Go to bed in good time, dear, after the late hours of Scarbro’. How is the picture, madam, and the ring? The only one thou may turn round is the ring!
My Dearest, always remember whatever sort of letters I write to thee, that thou art very, very precious to me. I long more than anything else that my love may wait upon and serve and help thee.
Lots of true love, lassie,
From thy lover, Frank.
Wilt thou ask thy Father whether copies of his Presidential Address to the Guild at York would be of any use to him? I am destroying a good deal that is in excess of what the Guild need keep,—unless authors want them.
Thank thee for thy little letter this morning: what a busy thing thou art! I think it’s I that’ll never see anything of thee not the other way—I quite expect I shall have to cook the beans and make the pastry, in addition to doing the fires and the boots and the beds—as I am intending. Thou’lt be out canvassing or addressing vegetarian meetings or distributing five pound notes to distressed women—like the kindhearted angel that thou art—or opening exhibitions or attending conversaziones. Never mind, young lady, I’ll give thee some curtain lectures to make up—it’s not only your tyrannical sex that can do that—I’ve no doubt we can if we try—downtrodden worms though we are in the main.
By the bye thou’rt a cool person to lecture me, madam, on the indiscriminate use of superlatives—thou, who sometimes describes a letter as ‘delicious’, and sometimes a gingerbread; who art prepared to call anything ‘lovely’ or ‘perfect’, from a clock work rabbit to a poem of Tennyson’s; to whom all sorts of things are ‘darlings’ from little pot dogs to real ones and on to....to....well, we’ll draw a veil over the rest, dear—it’s too humiliating.
I suppose thy hair is probably keeping wonderfully tidy nowadays, isn’t it? I believe the best thing will be to cut it off—then it could be made into a watch chain or a pair of garters or something, for me. I can’t be spending all my married life, doing thy hair, thou knows: especially if I have to shave extra often in the interests of thy ‘pillow’. I should love to pull it all down now, sweetheart,—and give thee—well, say—one good loving kiss, and feel thy clasping arms.
Thy friend, very sincerely, Frank.
My own Dearest,
I hope that this little note will reach thee on the morning of thy birthday—to tell thee once again,—and very specially, dear, of how I love thee, and of how I wish for thee a life of blessedness and blessing, and many returns of this thy birthday marking years of happiness. And oh how I do long to be able to share in the bringing of this happiness to thee. it is what I would love to be able to do now—if I only could. But courage, sweetheart,—in spite of all difficulties and troubles there are years of love and happiness ahead of us: pull for the shore, lassie, and cheer up. (Talking of pulling ‘for the shore’ reminds me of this photo—take great care of it.) A hint from thee, dear, that thou would like to have letters,—and I will try and write thee some nice ones.
I will start exercising my legs at once for bearing thy growing weight, if a way can be devised: I wonder if Bertha would act as thy representative; what does thou think? I wonder where thou art putting on flesh: how are the dresses?
I think the weather is going to improve shortly. My cold is not well, but a good deal better: I’ve had a sort of seedy attack this week, but am pulling through without giving in.
I’m going to Gateshead tomorrow for the afternoon and evening: how queer it will be! Ah lassie, lassie, that thou wert there to greet me! In going through letters, I have put several things aside for thee to see, but thou wilt not want them now: but here’s one—Malcolm sent it me seven years ago when I was laid up with my knee. I bought a book for thee, but am keeping it myself! Cool, isn’t it?
Again dearest love, Mary, and all my best and deepest wishes for thy happiness now and always—and may I send a kiss, dear?
From thy true lover, Frank.
I have just been reading in Pickwick old Mr Weller’s opinion that ‘as you get vider, you’ll get viser. Vidth and Visdom, Sammy , always grows together.’
My dear Love,
Thank thee very much for thy letter yesterday morning—I got it just after I had posted mine. I am looking forward to the nice letters again—it will indeed be a change—thou has treated us all very badly this last week or two and it has been very hard to bear, and has greatly increased the trouble and perplexity when there was already much. Although I have felt deeply for thee in thy trouble and have longed to help thee and do always, I must say this much, dear. Please never treat us so harshly again: it is not like thy own true and loving self. I hope thou wilt take this, as in very truth it is, as coming not from any spirit of bitterness—I feel none—but of much love and longing for thy happiness and peace.
There seems every prospect of thy father going away soon and pretty far afield and for a longish time: and though it is terrible to think of not seeing thee for so long, I hope thou wilt go with them—they will love to have thee, and in the sunny south thou wilt be able to be out all day and enjoy it.
As regards Easter, dear, we don’t break up till April 12: so thou can easily be back for that if necessary: or if not—supposing I was to come out to you for instance—I think we could get the necessary preparations carried through in term time without much difficulty.
Think over this, dear. I am longing for thee so very, very much: but as I am robbing them of so great a treasure I must not be selfish now. Besides how much better it will be in the Mediterranean than of a blooming old place like Torquay!
I hope thou art having a happy birthday, my darling: how I would love to have given thee a morning kiss, and held thee in my arms again! How is the heart going? I wish it was beating against mine!
Dearest love, sweetheart, from Frank.
I went into thy room to see how the picture was getting on: it seemed to be facing the right way: I also ate some Devonshire cream.
My dear Love,
Many thanks for thy letter—or parts of it. I do hope things are looking a little brighter—both outwardly and inwardly. I could excuse thy being cross, dear, more easily if it was not based upon such an impossible idea—viz. that there has been nothing the matter with thee: against that set two facts (1) that thou has had a cough for 6 months (2) that competent doctors found something wrong. Those are facts—as thou knows as well as anybody else. But indeed if we have all been wrong and deliberately unkind as thou seems to enjoy thinking—still that does not justify thee. I am not thinking of myself, dear—thou has written nothing unkind to me—and I have not the slightest wish to blame—I only long to help thee to see things as they really are.
I find it terribly hard to write to thee as I should like. I dare say my letters this last fortnight have been weak and bad—but I have tried my best—but have not had a hint from thee that thou cared anything or wanted to have anything more to do with me. Even when I send thee a present, thou does not even acknowledge it.
How can I go on like this? The hardest thing to bear is that trouble should come between us when it ought to bring us together. I can understand thy being in the dumps—but why cast me off on that account? There is no reason for being in a rage with me!
If thou had come here for a day or two, we might have helped one another to see things more clearly. But just then thou was positively revelling in thy wrath.
Here are some home truths for thee, dear—or so I believe them to be. But indeed they are written with much loving anxiety to help: may I hope that thou wilt receive them in the same spirit?
Does thou not think, Mary dear, that thou looks upon thy ‘crossness’ too much as other people’s fault, or as a mysterious visitation for which thou art not responsible—whereas really it lies at thy own door, however wrong others have been,—and it is thou who must hate it and try to chuck it overboard. I am far from supposing it easy. But think of others, dear, whom thou canst make happy or miserable.
Cheer up, lassie, and be quick and be able to come North again.
Thy lover, Frank.
Here are two letters for thee—the other I wrote this afternoon, this this evening. The other is one thou won’t like perhaps—and I don’t know whether to send it or not. I have seen thy Mother and heard of your movements—I hope things will turn out nicely—and that thou wilt have warm and sunny weather, get brown and fat, learn lots of French and cookery, write poetry and learn to swear in French, and come home and get married.
By the bye I have been to enquire of Theo Rowntree—they are going to give notice about April 4, and leave about July 4: the house has 2 sitting rooms and 3½ bedrooms, and is £30—very cheap.
These two letters are—the one to give thee some advice, the other to wish thee bon voyage: and both to send thee much true love, dear. But after this I will wait till I hear thou wants a letter—I am not made of cast iron, dear.
P.S. Why not get married at Easter at Ackworth? There’ll be nobody there. My holidays are April 12 to May 4 or thereabouts.
Thank thee ever so much for thy letter just received. The kiss was very precious, dear.
I wrote these two letters yesterday and I think I will send them still: don’t be angry with either of them.
I am only in middling form, but perhaps I shall be better now.
Write me a nice letter from Bordighera, sweetheart—
Thy lover, Frank.
How nice to think that February is nearly done; it is usually a horrid month.
By the bye, I don’t know what my letters are like when thou gets them, but thine to me were almost tumbling out of the envelopes. However I don’t think the postman will be able to read English. I am so sorry to enclose a bill—I hope thou won’t mind it, or feel extravagant—I did so love to see thee in thy velvet coat, that I’m sure it was worth far more than this (it sounds as if it was the coat I like to see! It’s not that a bit!) The cheque is my ½ silk dress!!
I haven’t done any sketches; the weather is too cold to sit out and too damp; on the one or two days that were fine enough I didn’t feel inclined to try. Mr Bell who sits next me at meals, is so disgusted with the weather and the place, for there are no short walks, and he is not strong, that he is going away to-night to the Riviera, as he says it is warmer. I have got to like him, and am very sorry he is going, for he is tremendously interesting on literature of which he has a great knowledge. We talk, or rather he does, a great deal, and he tells heaps of stories, of which I see the points of about ½ ; he doesn’t like explaining them, so I don’t say anything about the other half!
Last night he told one—perhaps thou knows it—of a man who wanted to enter Heaven, but Peter wouldn’t let him in—at last he said: ‘I’m married and you’ve been married too, so let me in.’ ‘Come along’ said Peter, ‘in that case you must certainly need a rest.’ Another man heard and expected to get in the same way, so he said ‘Let me in, I’ve been married twice.’ ‘Go away,’ said Peter, ‘we’ve no rooms for fools here.’
Mr Bell says that Gladstone was too good a man for his life to be very interesting—that Shakespeare—whom he thinks the greatest of all writers—never wrote about a single hero—he had heroines—but all his heroes were men of many faults, except perhaps Henry V. He seems to believe that our character is our fate, which is true in a way, but not altogether. He was talking last night of being in love, and how it was very often a painful thing, and he gave Goethe as an example. I wanted to find out if he is married, but couldn’t, but he is fairly old.
The Ericssons are going to-night too, and they have been nice lately, so we will miss them, for we shall be alone in the hotel, except for a Belgian family whom we don’t like. Yesterday Edith Ericsson played to us for ages—classical things and otherwise. She plays extremely well and I can’t help envying her, and also her French, for she speaks a fair amount. She and I tried a duet of Haydn’s—I hadn’t touched a piano for weeks, but it was quite nice. Yesterday afternoon she and R and I went to town and into one of the mosques. It is curious to see the way the Mohammedans pray. I made them come with me into a Moorish café, and we had cups of their horrid coffee; Edith was sure it couldn’t be safe, and said she was going to write an anonymous letter to thee to tell thee to be prepared to pay a ransom for me, but I told her it was unnecessary, for the Arabs looked with scorn on R and me as we couldn’t talk French, but they chatted away to her!
2 days ago was the great fête day of the Mohammedans, and all the women came out in their best clothes, and went to the cemetery to dress the graves, and pray. R and I took off our shoes, and went into the mosque, and talked to one or 2 of the women—or rather said a few words. It was quite an interesting sight.
What a cheerful letter, isn’t it? It’s more than I feel. I have arranged to have 6 lessons in the Berlitz School, but it’s not much use, and somehow I don’t feel that anything is any use now. I’ve never felt in such a mood of ‘not caring’ before—my room is untidy, but I leave it; I leave everything that possibly can be left, to another day, and simply can’t feel interested in things.
Edith E. was telling me her first impressions of me last night—not very flattering. ‘I saw you standing on the ship and was sure you were another daughter of Dr Spence Watson’s, but I didn’t speak to you, for you looked so forbidding and old.’ I’m sure I do look years older than when I left home—thou’ll not know me with all my wrinkles etc!
I do so want to hear how thou art. Do tell me what is the matter with thee.
I haven’t replied to thy last two letters properly, but it is because I don’t feel the need to just at present—having told thee what I felt made me rather better, and so I’m just going to try and write ordinary letters as long as I can, and then I’ll try and tell thee my feeling, for I believe they grow worse when I try and keep them to myself.
But I can’t see how it is that love, if it can’t abolish difficulties, should make them harder instead of easier. Though I could never attain to it, it feels as if it would be so much easier to strive towards becoming an ‘incomparable old maid’ than even a very ordinary wife. People should get married here, for there is so much orange blossom! Falkner seems to have been very poorly. Agnes still asks me to join them at Aporto.
Goodbye, Thy loving Mary.
I do so wish I had known I was coming here, as there are some of thy old letters I do so want—I know a good many bits off by heart fortunately.
Mother is going to church—I ought to go with her, but feel too afraid of the service making me cross. What a weak-minded person I must be!
I had such a nice letter from Mrs Outhwaite at Carr End the other day. I’ll show it thee sometime.
[Undated letter fragment from about this date. Notepaper includes portrait of 'La Belle Fatima', in Arab costume.]
La Belle Fatima.
Doesn’t thou wish thou had seen her?
. . . beautiful, and wears the most splendid clothes and jewels. I shook hands with her! She is one of the great sights of Algiers, but for some curious reason, it is not considered very proper for ladies to go and see her, so we were lucky. Enclosed is a programme. The dances are wonderful, but extremely ugly. Bertha will explain to thee what they are like. The Aissaoua was not thrilling like in Kairwan last year, for it did not seem a religious thing, but simply a ‘got-up’ thing for the benefit of visitors, but the men really did eat glass and a scorpion, and a piece of burning charcoal, and one of them hammered a huge nail so far into his head that several gentlemen had tries before they could pull it out. But I was rather disgusted with the whole thing, and don’t want to go again.
The other day R and I went over the lovely little British hospital; there was a poor negro in bed who couldn’t speak a word of French, so none of the nurses could understand him; I felt very sorry for him.
Nurse Leah came to tea this afternoon. She was so nice and interesting. There is something very fascinating about nursing—one has no time to think of oneself. She told us many amusing things.
I dreamt last night I was ill, and woke up wondering if it was true, then I was sick, but I felt quite well, and suppose a Christian Scientist would have said I ought to have gone on dreaming. I lay awake, alas, listening to Father coughing dreadfully, and watching the vivid lightning. He has no chance to get better quickly—the humidity in the air is 60% and there are torrents of rain.
Goodbye, Love from thy loving Mary.
My own Mary
I have sent on the letter to Jeanie, received yesterday along with thy own. I was so very glad to hear that you are having good weather at last, and that thy father is better. And so thou art going to be all by thyself for a while—it seems rummy—but then thou art a rummy person.
I don’t understand why thou has not heard from me for a long time—I have written every three or four days. Did thou get one enclosing a printed notice of my lecture for instance? I hope they have not tumbled to bits on the way—though indeed I don’t know that they were worth very much either, so perhaps it’s no loss.
Today has been a really splendid day—bright and blue and dry and exhilarating—life will become quite worth living again if we can have some more like it.
It is nearly a week since I wrote to thee—I have been so busy—but I dare say it’s as well not to bore thee.
Well, to go back to last Sunday. While A.R. is away, the duty of haranguing the boys on Sunday evening falls on three or four of us. I discoursed to them this time on the Will—a sort of lesson in psychology—winding up with Tennyson’s lines—for once I happen to know them—art thou familiar with them?:–
Oh well for him whose will is strong,
He suffers but he will not suffer long,
He suffers, but he cannot suffer wrong.
For him nor moves the loud world’s random mock,
Nor all calamity’s hugest waves confound,
He seems a promontory of rock,
That, compassed round with turbulent sound,
In middle ocean stands the surging shock,
On Monday I went and had a comfortable and peaceful tea with Mabel; on Tuesday Sturge and I made tea in my room, toasting tea cakes and brown bread. Wednesday was Monthly Meeting—we had an interesting discussion on Chinese Labour, and adopted a memorial to the local Members of Parliament. Some people—the Herald for instance—are saying that the Coolie labour in the West Indies—e.g. on the Rowntree’s estates—is of exactly the same type. Joseph Rowntree and Sam Davies dealt with that at the Monthly Meeting quite effectively, and I believe Bowes has written to the Herald—but I haven’t seen it yet.
I have hardly got any Gladstone reading done lately—I have had such a lot on: this was because of being rather out of form, and spending two days in London—work had accumulated rather and I have had to made a great push to get through. In connection with the Upper Senior work in English and English History, there is a lot to be done in the way of Essay writing,—and these take a great deal of looking through. This afternoon for instance I set them to write a half hour essay on any one of these four subjects—straight off out of their heads that is—:–
To-morrow I am going to tea to Bertha’s and on with Mabel and them to West Mount to meet Hamar Greenwood—there is a bit of a meeting there I suppose—I am asked for the sake of some songs of course.
I am glad to see there is to be a great meeting in the Concert Rooms next week on Chinese Labour especially, to be addressed by Thomas Shaw, Greenwood and others—the Henry Tennant in the chair. I shall go to that if possible.
Is all this prosaic enough for thee, dear? I hope so—in fact it would be nice if it was too prosaic.
I am looking forward to seeing the silk blouse immensely—indeed I might even say ‘to feeling it’—if I dared: but I am getting rather timid nowadays—when I may not even chaff thee about getting fat.
I certainly hope that we shall be able to spend the East holidays in looking at furniture—as thou says—or in some other way of needful preparation—surely nothing has happened to affect that, presuming thou art not still at the ends of the earth. I think, dear, that two or three weeks in York are what thou needs just now.
On Tuesday is to be the Friends Literary Society Conversazione—with a lecture on Browning by Graham—Mr and Mrs JWG are to stay at Hugh and Mabel’s I believe.
We seem to have already got into the region of exams: the matric test exam comes off at the end of the term, and also the exam for the new Entrance Scholarships—and papers have to be prepared for these. But of course the bulk of the school doesn’t have any exam at the end of the spring term.
One begins in weather like this to dream of coming pleasures of the cricket field—when one sees the green turf of the pitch, and the horse strolling up and down with the big roller.
Give me an exact programme of one of thy days, dear, next time thou writes—so that I may picture thee properly.
Dearest love, from Frank.
I have been thinking of thee a great deal—more even than usual perhaps—during the last few days; wondering for instance whether I was justified in hoping so strongly that thou would come home—for it cannot be said that the weather in England is very nice. It is improving I think but only in a very fitful manner and with many lapses. But I have longed so much that we might be together again—for we do love one another, dear, don’t we? and the right place for us is in one another’s arms as in the dear days of a few months back.
We had a song last night whose words echoed in my heart –
‘Good night, sweet love, God bless thee with his grace’!
And I longed that thou might be blessed with all strength and comfort for thy troubles. Have I been a cold and unprofitable lover, dear, during these weeks? If so, it has not been in my heart, but only that I might write the sort of letters thou wanted. But the thought of my dear girl away all alone and in much trouble has made my heart bleed—how I do long to help her and take her in my arms and try and cheer her, if I could! Sometimes I think I could, lassie; is it very presumptuous and vain? Give me the chance, sweetheart: and I will do my best, now and through life. I will devote myself altogether to thy service and happiness: and will try and understand and sympathize better than I have done, and share my darling’s difficulties. It is not that I do not recognize these difficulties—but that I know we love one another, and that I want that we should face them bravely and patiently and, above all together. Believe me, though I know the difficulties, I am confident we need have no serious misgivings about the future. When I hold thy hand again, and look into thy dear eyes and, if I may, press my kisses on thy dear lips, I will take thee back through these troubles to the days when we lived those lovely days together—and when, though there were hard problems to face, we yet were happy I think in one another’s love, wandered together in the wind and rain, ploughed through the mud, and raced the waves—or sang to each other the songs we love.
Mary dear, thou has not forgotten these things, has thou? When we meet again they will soon come back, and new and better things will be in store. If we dwell on our deficiencies, which of us does not find them manifold and melancholy? How well I know that I am not fit to take the precious burden of thy life into mine! And yet I long to do it! Is that the selfishness of love? I hope not; I hope it is its confidence in the power of mutual hearts and tender help. May we not dwell then each on the other’s love instead of our own shortcomings, and vow to be worthy of it? Lassie, I will try very hard; but it is only with thy love and help beside me, that I can really rise to it as I should wish.
We had a great collection of people at the Conversazione last night—about a hundred I fancy, and things went off very well. There was some very good music between 7.30 and 8.30—the school band and Radcliffe our violin master and Robson an old boy who sings—then people wandered round looking at Arthur Richardson’s pictures, Natural History work of the boys—stuffed birds for instance, performances in the Science school, a gymnastic exhibition and so forth. Then Mr Graham gave us his very brilliant lecture on Browning—a good deal I had heard before—that was why I urged getting him. He read in full (I think) two that have always been my favourites since I first heard him—The Italian in England, and By the Fireside—also a short love poem called I believe Garden Fancies, which I did not remember.
Then we had supper and people got away towards eleven o’clock. One doesn’t feel inclined for bed after a business like that, so Sturge and I had a smoke on the playground, and then a gossip over my fire till about a quarter to one!
Hugh has been down with a heavy cold lately, but is back at work now though hardly fit for it.
I am so glad thou art having fine and warm weather now: what a lazy old thing thou wilt be growing! And so am I too—thou because the weather’s nice and I because it is beastly. I expect I shall be taking to drink shortly to help me to bear the vicissitudes of life.
I wonder if I ought to give any wedding presents—say, to Gertie—I think not, unless I joined with thee and I suppose thou has fixed it up already.
I don’t think much happens of interest here—we jog along in the usual way, preparing lessons, lecturing, correcting Latin composition and English Essays, watching football tournaments and so forth. We are looking forward—some of us—to hearing Thomas Shaw on the Chinese Labour question on Friday—has thou heard him speak? I suppose he’s a great man—he certainly took a splendidly strong line during the war.
There is less than four weeks left of the term now: I shan’t be sorry when it comes to an end. Come and help me correct exam papers during the last ten days, wilt thou, dear?
I wonder much whether thou wilt like this letter: I do hope so—it is well meant at any rate,
Thy lover for ever, Frank.
Here are some passages to follow thy Psalm CXXI.
Galatians VI 1—10
1 Corinthians XII 4—27
Revelations III 7—22
" XXI 1—7 and 22—27
Mark X 35—45
Luke X 25—37
My own Beloved
Just a line of greeting wherewith to salute thee in the morning:—poor substitutes these for the loving kisses and caresses we have had these ten days. I trust that you reached Bensham in much peace—no untoward incidents on the way, and the home ready for thee on thy arrival.
How my dear lassie grows more and more into my heart! And how proud I am of my treasure! All we have been doing together during this week—houses and presents and caps and what not—has seemed to make us more really one; ‘half-married’ as thou says, dear: and this has been sweet.
I’m afraid I have been horribly selfish in not welcoming thy London plans more than I have done. Forgive me, dearest: I withdraw it all. We will have a jolly time—of mingled recreation and business—and for thee I hope also of spiritual edification. Ought I to book a room at the Hotel near where thou art going? Or will they? And I hope thou wilt go to Evie’s, my dear: I think it will be good to: never mind my unfortunate—half chaffing—remonstrance.
Well, sweetheart, I wish thee a busy but smooth time during these few days of infant management. I shall be tremendously interested in hearing how things go on.
And for us both I wish that we may know and feel more and more the power of the Spirit of righteousness and peace in our hearts, and so be united in seeking the highest and richest life.
Here is a brief medley of my thoughts for thee, my darling.
How thou wilt be longing for thy father and mother I expect—or art thou too busy to long for anything?
All my dearest love is for my sweet lassie: and I am exalted in the thought of hers.
Thy lover, Frank.
Dear thanks and kisses for the beautiful clean cushions!
My own Dearest,
Thou wilt forgive me if I only write a few lines during these few days: I should love to write sheets—but Latin calls and must be obeyed.
It was sweet to get thy letter this morning, lassie: there is no need, dear, to say anything about thy sins to me—if my love for thee could not cover them, it would not be worth much.
I have been wrestling with Latin papers all day except when teaching—and a half hour’s walk with Sturge—I went and looked at the outside of the first Bootham Crescent House—it looked rather nice—tomorrow I must go over it.
It is not easy to stick to things—first a youth comes and wants advice as to a song to sing on Monday, and another seeks solution of a problem in Virgil—and so the exam papers don’t progress. But after supper things will not be so disturbed—and some tea will keep me awake perhaps.
Today I have been wearing thy tie pin—which both looks nice and feels nice—from the thought of the dear giver.
I am so lonely without thee, sweetheart; thy dear letter is far too kind—but it is very blessed to have thy love, dearest, and to feel that I have given thee some happiness.
If there is any chance of thy coming on Tuesday, I might wait—but I have told Mother thou would probably be coming on Wednesday
Many kisses, My own Mariechen,
From ‘thy obedient servant’, Frank.
Ask Colin if he is acting up to his responsibilities.
Thank thee muchly for thy letter—one that wants answering carefully at greater leisure than I have now—and best by word of mouth.
I’m afraid I have hesitated to talk—or at any rate write—about religion, since thou gave me such a dressing down from Ireland. For I had written what was, to me at any rate, the inmost truth of religion.
And thou must forgive me too for this reason—that I never came closely across any one before who looked on my views as thou seems to, dear. To me it seems that I am getting free from the bonds of creed and convention and phrases, and, far from losing religion, am finding out what it really is;—a thing of the spirit, of the ideals and forces of the human heart, of the quality of the life we live. And this is the most characteristic thing of this age—that hand in hand with the loss of old dogmas goes a closer knowledge of Christ, a seeking for reality in religion, and a deeper and more intelligent interest in the Bible.
These things are not being destroyed—they are being discovered afresh. I did not mean to discuss things in a letter, but thou wilt understand, dear, that feeling as I do and as so many do that I and all in my position are finding, not losing, it is strange to me to be thought of as one who has cast away the best aids to life: I hope I am beginning to gain them.
Be patient with me, therefore, dearest—and we will try and be quite frank with one another in all things—Surely we can give sympathy and understanding and therefore help, even if not agreement always.
I incline to think—bring thy bicycle: there will be Jeanie’s—but we might want to go out all three. It could stay at Ackworth till I go back to York and I could take it then. If thou thinks two enough, don’t trouble.
There is the 12.42 from here, Ackworth 1.26; and 4.40. getting in at 5.27. The 10.30 from Newcastle will catch the former and the 1.45 the latter. I have only a March guide, but I will check them later.
Don’t make any changes in London plans, lassie.
Thank thee for the orange blossom, my own dear __________ !
Dearest love, sweetheart, from Frank.
A line to greet thee in thy terror stricken and lonely life in the hotel—but what hotel? And will it greet thee? and there are other questions too, for instance—is it really so terror stricken? And—no, I won’t ask whether it is lonely or not—thou surely can’t have picked up a Mr Rubens so soon as this. A wire came from the Esmond this morning—and was brought to me when I was looking at Jeanie’s books at the school. I wonder if thou got mine and whether thou understood it.
I have wondered much how thou got on—both on the journey, and at the hotel—but mostly as Dr Mills’s pupil. I do most fervently hope, my dear girl, that thou wilt find something—even if only a little—of the help thou has felt in need of—the help towards an even and cheerful and healthy outlook upon life—And is not that what we all need and all find so difficult?—so easy to say, but so hard to retain amidst uncertainties and misunderstandings and misgivings as to the future. Try to think only of my sympathy with thy longings and efforts, dear—for it is true and deep.
I am feel quite better with this beautiful day, and the little exercise I have taken. This afternoon I sat in the garden as before—smoked a pipe, and read two chapters of Gladstone on Irish Land and the Education Bill—both 1870.
Jeanie has gone to Pontefract to get another dress I think—two a week seems rather a lot, doesn’t it?
Tell me lots about everything, lassie! What wilt thou be doing tomorrow I wonder?
Much love and many kisses
from thy betrothed Frank.
My own Beloved,
My heart was sorrowful at breakfast that there was no letter from my darling, but this afternoon came thy dear loving letter—straight from thy own dear heart—and my soul was refreshed indeed. What have I given thee, dear lassie, to compare with the wondrous bestowal upon me of thy own bountiful fountain of love? May I be worthier of it than I have been! Prouder of it I could not be.
I am grieved to think of thee in such a mouldy old show: thou wilt have to get thy meals at the best restaurants in London to make up for it.
I don’t know what about Monday: I’m quite game for thy plan, if thou has a place in thy mind. It rather depends whether thou art going to stay on or not. But we will see on Friday. I am intending to come by the train into King’s Cross at 4.15, and suggest that we should go to Wembley by the 5.20 from Euston. If so, shall we meet at Euston—where the cabs drive up and disembark—at 4.45? I shall be there about then.
I was greatly interested in the account of the lecture. I think there is a good deal in the idea—a very vague one—of going with the creative power and not against it: but what is the creative power and which way is it going? And are you sure in any particular case that the stream you are embarking on is not a bad one? But the thought is good.
I don’t quite understand about the two nervous systems, nor the feelings remaining in the head. Strictly speaking a feeling is not a material fact at all—it is in the mind and can be nowhere else: though no doubt feelings may be kept well in hand by a healthy brain, or ill regulated ones may breed disorders. I hope, my dear, that the longing for me is neither a poison, nor a cause of indigestion. The only way to stop them—where we want to—is surely to become absorbed in some great purpose or hope or love which will raise us above them,—so that though they remain they cease to shake us as of old. Again mere words! but if true, then perhaps of some guidance.
I am getting on excellently: went an hour’s cycle ride nearly with Jeanie this morning.
All my best love, sweetheart, from Frank.
My own Sweetheart,
Today is much like yesterday—this afternoon at any rate has been beautifully sunny and I have been enjoying Mr G in the garden. How I longed to have thee beside me! I have taken him on past the end of his great ministry, through the vehement controversy on the Vatican Decrees, and lastly a most interesting chapter on his miscellaneous correspondence.
Here is Spurgen on him:- ‘You do not know how those of us regard you, who feel it a joy to live when a premier believes in righteousness. We believe in no man’s infallibility, but it is restful to be sure of one man’s integrity.’
And Morley winds up the chapter:- ‘’So the perpetual whirl of life revolves ‘by nature an unmanageable sight’ but ‘not wholly so to him who looks In steadiness; who hath among least things an under-sense of greatest; sees the parts as parts, but with a feeling of the whole’. Such steadiness, such undersense and felling of the whole, was Mr Gladstone’s gift and inspiration, never expanding itself in pensive musings upon the vain ambitions, illusions, cheats, regrets of human life—such moods of half morbid moralizing were not in his temperament—but ever stirring him to duty and manful hope, to intrepid self-denial and iron effort.’’
So much before the post came this afternoon. Now thy welcome letter, dear,—though containing some strange material. Upon this I hardly know what to say. Thou seems to have got thyself into a pretty predicament—from which nothing can extricate thee except some blunt and persistent refusal. I don’t think lodgings would do personally: hotels are different—but a landlady might be perturbed at such an improper visitation—that however may be merely my conventional outlook, and I don’t want to press it if thou thinks it would be all right. But in this particular case there is the difficulty of the proximity of the Atkinsons, whose opinions are doubtful, and whose presence is not wanted. Therefore thou must extricate thyself somehow I think.
Thy views on living, my dearest, will I trust come right with time—are coming so I am thankful to believe—and this not so much under the influence of happiness, as of the realization that there is a place in the world that can be filled by thee and thee alone among mortals—that otherwise its work would be undone, and the place a blank. This is true of everyone—though often so hard to believe—and this may well summon us to a brave playing of our parts and a resolution not to shirk. So too I verily believe we shall all—thou and I especially—reach much blessedness.
I am sorry if my letter was lacking in that whole hearted love, of which my soul is so full. Thou wilt never doubt that, wilt thou, my dear girl? I have been trying to think why I should have written coldly or prosaically: perhaps it was this—a kind of solitary feeling that comes over me sometimes in holidays that those I am with—I am not thinking of thee particularly—have no interest in the serious things that interest me most—the desire to test things and get at the truth, the struggle for progress in national things, and so forth: now I expect this is almost entirely mythical—and the feeling is certainly a piece of unworthy conceit?—one of those that give us spiritual if not physical indigestion, and ought to be cast out. But here I confess it to my mistress, and ask her forgiveness, sympathy and help.
How I look forward in the further future, Mariechen, to a united life in which our hearts and thoughts shall intertwine more and more closely! And in the near future, how blessedly near now! to being in one another’s arms again, my darling—even though it be in Euston Station. I seem to long sometimes for fresh words to tell thee of my love, my dear one,—of how precious thou art to me, and of how I long to shelter and serve thee—and yet the old, old words are the best. I love thee, dear, all that is thee and thine in body and spirit; my heart longs unutterably for the enclasping arms and the warm kisses, the loving bright eyes and the dear sweet smile of my true love—the joy and crown and treasure of my life.
Beloved, these are true words and I am thy true lover, Frank.
My dearly Beloved,
I must send thee a few lines by this evening’s post—just to tell thee how I have been thinking of thee, and how I am longing for thee—though thou knows it very well already I hope. It is lonely and desolate without thee, my own dear sweetheart,—and yet it is a supreme happiness—more so, it seems, than ever—just to think about thee, and to let my mind dwell fondly upon thy loved and loving self. Take good care of it, lassie, body as well as spirit—for it is a rich and precious prize that thou must look well after, in my behalf.
I have not done much today except eat and read and go out a little. I have finished the second volume of Mr G. The closing chapters are immense—all about the great days of the Midlothian Campaigns, and how he felt his great mission from God to rouse the nation and hurl the Beaconsfield ministry from power. It reads almost like the religious fervour—almost the phraseology—say of a Cromwell—in some parts.
Also I have been looking at guide books and meditating on August, and thinking of writing to various other places—an inn a few miles from Lynton, and one on Loch Duich (!). What does thou think of that? Are the memories of Loch Duich things to be cherished or obliterated? I’m not sure—but not obliterated I think: the reconciliation was too sweet—at the top of the cabin stairs wasn’t it?
And now I must run to the post. Tomorrow evening I go to York.
Goodnight, Mariechen, my own dear Betrothed,
Thy true lover, Frank.
My dearest Mary,
Thank thee muchly for thy nice pencil letter from the ABC place; and for thy mother’s and its very kind enclosure—I will write to her at once. I don’t see that we can book ourselves for three years.
I do hope thou has got my letters—thou may remember there is no post from here on Sunday except the early morning, so I posted on Monday morning and addressed it to Westminster Mansions. (The train seems confoundedly joggly).
I don’t think there is much news—but who cares for news? Last night we had a great game of Bezique—I as usual getting badly beaten—having awful luck. I wonder how it would work out if one gave up trying to score oneself, and devoted one’s energies to trying to take all the tricks, and prevent one’s opponent declaring.
Since finishing Vol II of Mr G. I have been plunging into Adamson’s Philosophy, and have read about four lectures. Then this morning I went up and talked to Jeanie a bit, while she was mending boys’ nightshirts. Next Monday is the anniversary of Albert’s death.
I have left a lot of my songs behind—Jeanie wants to mend them—I mean put sticking paper along the backs—I don’t think it’s good plan to bind them, does thou?
Then after dinner I packed, squeezing things in with much difficulty: thou will be pleased to hear that Mother has knitted or bought and run the heels of a few socks. She is rather melancholy I think—feels that she is sending me back to school for the last time—and that she will soon have no one left to look after. I tried to comfort her by reminding her that thou was going to ask her over to darn vast quantities of socks, but she thought thou would soon get to like it! Just fancy!
I am all alone in a fine Midland compartment—not a Smoking one either, dear: and shall be in York in about twenty minutes—and so once more into the business of the term. Tomorrow morning a Masters’ meeting from about nine to eleven—A.R. back again of course.
As I hardly know what may fill up my time at the school, I will wind this up now—and write a better one tonight or tomorrow.
Isn’t this prosaic, lassie? But thou knows and must read into it all the love it bears to thee, my own, own Dearest.
Goodnight, Sweetheart—thy lover, Frank.
My dearest Love,
It was grand to get two long letters from thee this morning—even though one of them had not been written to me. But I was so very, very grieved to hear from thy mother such an unhappy account of thy father; what a terrible pity just when a good holiday had done him such a lot of good. I do hope that some days in bed, and the good care he will get, will soon make it all right. And I have thought too that this will be another perplexity, perhaps, to thee, dear: thou wilt wish thou was at home to help. I saw Ruth and Bertha for a minute or two this morning—Ruth I think will very likely go home almost at once—it depends what she hears in the morning. And thou, I suppose, dear, will stick to thy work—though it will be reluctantly I know. Still, let us hope he will be all right very soon. I think thou knows, sweetheart, though perhaps I have never talked about it,—how I admire and love him. To me as to so many he has long been an inspiration—as one who stood for great ideals of progress and citizenship; but now I have learnt, and am learning more and more, to know and love him in a closer way: and it is indeed a privilege. These are stiff and poor words—but they are truly meant, Mary—and somehow I felt inclined to write them, after enjoying seeing thee with him in London and now grieving that he is so poorly.
That was a beautiful poem, I thought, of Coventry Patmore’s—didn’t thou? happy we, whose dear ambition fate has not marred. It is not only ‘smarts’ either, that purify. Our love has come through many tears, dearest and I think its triumph will help to make our hearts ‘more generous, dignified and pure.’
I was greatly interested in thy account of thy lectures and class. It will require some care I think to disentangle the practical help that thou may get from him from the—as I think—delusions with which it is mixed.
It is helpful I think to look upon goodness and rest and faith and harmony as being God as it were—as I gathered he suggested: not as qualities of some distant and separated deity far away, but as being themselves the God within us—and at the same time—wonderfully—a part of ourselves—alas!! such a feeble part often—but one which is part of the force that is moving the world on, and which will grow in us if we let it. And it is helpful—to me too, to think of Christ’s unity with God, his inward peace and serenity, as being not the inevitable consequence of something supernatural, but as having been won by him—and as being therefore a prize which all men may similarly aim at by seeking satisfaction in life on the true lines that he followed.
Helpful also to lay stress on the power of our thoughts and imaginations—we so often fancy ourselves in the hands of outer things, or allow ourselves to be. ‘The aids to noble life are all within’ says Matthew Arnold.
I expect thou would like a book I have, called The Power of Silence. It is on just Dr Mills’s lines; has, like his lectures, a good deal of rubbish in, but also some good stuff as to one’s practical attitude towards life. But very likely ‘In time with the Infinite’ covers much the same ground.
I have just got thy dear little letter, lassie: my heart is much with thee in thy unhappiness—and if thou decides to come, I’m sure it will be a great help. Thou will be sure to wire me if thou comes . .
[letter stops at the bottom of a page and the next page is not there]
My own dearest Mary,
I am concerned indeed at the account thou gives of thyself. Does the doctor say in what precise way thou has not taken care of thyself? I want to know how I have to look after thee specially. I am inclined to think that if a person who has been strong all her life now begins to get below par, it will probably be due to some difference of life during recent years—and there is one conspicuous difference—viz a vegetarian diet. Until I hear a better explanation suggested, I shall continue to suspect that, and therefore to feel nothing but hostility to a movement which in my opinion is injuring the strength of the constitution. Whatever it may be for some people, I believe the evidence tends to show that for the average hardworking person a vegetarian diet weakens their power to resist disease. If thou was living an easy and indolent life, and was likely to it would be different. There now, dear—thou must let me relieve my mind now and then—thy health is too precious for me to restrain these opinions or acquiesce without an occasional protest.
Now I am going to give thee today’s programme, if thou cares about it.
6.40 was woke up by the bell—had a bath, dressed and shaved in 20 minutes—rather good.
7.0 watched the Lower Senior prepare Cicero, while I corrected some English papers.
7.30 breakfast—porridge and fish—letter from Mary, in which she says she encloses a bill, but doesn’t.
8.30 heard Knight give a lesson on circulating Decimals
9.15 instructed some youths in Simultaneous Quadratic Equations
10.0 Cicero’s Oration against Catiline—with the Lower Senior.
10.45—11.45 no class—corrected English, prepared Caesar, read the newspaper, ate biscuits and cheese.
11.45 read Caesar with the Upper Senior.
12.30—1.30 Play time.
2.00 coffee in the masters room.
2.30—3.40 Set Senior to write essays on ‘How to Bat’, ‘Chinese Labour’, ‘Superstitions’, ‘The Channel Tunnel’, ‘As Civilization advances, Poetry almost necessarily declines’ (a sentence from Macaulay’s Essay on Milton), and so on—one to be chosen of course.
Also Ancient History—Aeschylus and Sophocles.
4.0 Made some afternoon tea: Sturge and Knight came—I criticized the latter’s lesson this morning somewhat. Then cricket for an hour and a half. After it (it’s rather a close day) I tried using two baths, rushing straight from a hot one and plunging into a cold one—much nicer than sponging oneself and cold streams trickling about one’s corpus.
6.30 Tea. A balmy evening—watched Sturge and Knight play tennis for a bit, then came in to write to my betrothed. Query—will she have read as far as this I wonder?
Thou art very uncommunicative about thy movements, my friend: what are they in the immediate future?
I have just been down to see if there were any letters by the evening post—and found a parcel—It turned out to be a present from the Grahams—small teapot, cream jug and sugar basin—very nice I think—unusual style rather—fresh to me at any rate. Here is Mrs G’s letter—a nice one—I wish thou was as well as she says. Still I hope it is so as far as any serious trouble is concerned.
Don’t be troubled at getting lots of presents, dear: some will be a trouble no doubt—but almost all will be the tokens of genuine love and friendship and heartfelt good wishes—and these are great possessions for us to have, and happy omens to surround our union, dear.
I am quite prepared to go in for the eiderdowns. Don’t be concerned about my following thy wishes: I didn’t very much on the subject of the list of things in the house! The house handles and finger plates are in existence of course but these are nice one, belonging to the R’s. The oilcloth had its pattern worn but not itself otherwise, so I took it. The gas pipe goes with the gas stove in the big bedroom: and I took them. There isn’t much room in the hall for a hat stand or anything like that: I think the pegs would be useful somewhere anyhow. The ground globes are all right. What did thy enigmatic remark about incandescent lights mean? The only gas in the drawing room is by the fire—so you want a good one.
Now I’ll go down to supper—goodnight, my dear, dear, lassie.
Thy true lover, Frank.
I am supposing that we go on with Peace—Adelaide Procter’s poem is a great favourite of mine.
My own Mariechen,
I presume thou art still with Evie, as no wire came from thee: else I was going to have tried to get thee to stay till the 7.55, and would have come to the station. The boys had a cricket match against Pocklington Grammar School—I umpired for about two hours. If thou comes on Monday morning, what time will it be? I see there is a train in at 12.25. I am on school till 12.30, and on a cycle could be there soon after.
I return herewith Uncle J’s letter. I think we shall have to order a safe yet, to store things in. By the bye shall I bring the Grahams’ present along for thee to take, or will thou have enough things to look after, by thy unaided self? I could bring it when I come over some day if that would be best.
The bill arrived this time—I suppose they’re in no hurry for the money, are they?
It has been a beautiful day, with cloudy exceptions. The school garden is really looking very lovely, and will be better still in a week’s time. The Cooper Beech is well out, the double cherry is coming on, and soon the may and the chestnuts will be breaking forth—and the limes are a most delicious green. But there, I forgot, madam—thou doesn’t care about foliage, does thou? for my part I love it more every year, I think—and the view from the school windows is hard to beat in the spring time, in its own line.
After all, I think I will send thee the letters etc I have had from the various hotels—also Arnold Gray’s. The post offices I wrote to haven’t replied (Ballachulish for instance).
Tomorrow is a free Sunday—how I wish thou was here, Sweetheart! or to imitate thy own commendable moderation, ‘I do really want to see thee’. It isn’t very long since thou and I went a walk on a Sunday afternoon—and we had to take great care to keep out of sight of all houses, to satisfy a certain wayward and sensitive maiden. Well! Well! The world does progress after all.
Tomorrow, dear child, I should like to lie with thy heart pressed to mine, and pull thy hair all down, and try and make thee blush if I could, and press my lips to thine in one long happy kiss. Instead of that one’s bachelor existence has to be endured for a little longer.
Has thou decided what we shall read in August, dear? I expect one good novel, and one other book will be enough. Will The Newcomes do? Other standard novels I have on my list to read are Villette, Daniel Deronda, Rob Roy, Fortunes of Nigel, Woodstock, Barnaby Rudge, Evan Harrington—why, I have forgotten all about Vittoria! Thou hasn’t said what thou wants in regard to it. I guess we shall neither of us get any further, so it will be continued straight from Keston to Donegal—which is very fitting.
Then oughtn’t we to try (it may not come off) to do some other book too? What does thou think? How about Chesterton’s Browning or Watts or one of Stevenson’s volumes of essays, or Emerson, or some poetry?
See what an unpractical person I am! I expect I ought to be discussing the relative prices of bedrooms in Letterfrack and Balmacarra, or the colours of kitchen walls, or the difference in cost between beans and bacon—and instead or that, here one is, talking about Browning and Emerson! Thou will have to supply the practical, as well as the poetic, temperament, my dear—it is clear: what mine is I don’t quite know—but it seems deficient on both those sides.
I have felt much inspiration form portions of Mr Morley and Winston Churchill today—with their fine appreciation of the true conditions of a nation’s welfare, and the need for strenuous and hopeful human effort.
Thou says nothing more about thy own bodily state, dear: I hope no news is good news. Art thou doing lung exercises nowadays? I believe it’ll take us an immense time to get up—dressed I mean—in the mornings—we shall have to be drilling one another so much—pulling legs, or holding feet or something. Well, it’ll be good sport anyway. I believe I shall begin to get quite excited in the prospect of the new world opening out in front. If there are ever any feelings of hesitation at the strangeness of it all, they are soon swallowed up in the blessed thought that I shall be with my own dear girl, my best and dearest lassie, whom I love and who loves me.
Many kisses, sweetheart, from thy own Frank.
My own Beloved,
I have just got in from a jolly afternoon on the river with Sturge and three of the Upper Senior boys. We went down the river about to Naburn Village, and broke our journey on the way back to get some tea at Bishopthorpe. There was a tremendous wind, and it was quite rough in parts!
My dear child, what has come over thee? does thou know what thou did with thy last letter? Thou addressed it to 30 Bootham. Whom has thou been so accustomed to write to at no 30 somewhere, eh, madam? It is lucky that it got here at all—which it did in the course of the morning—of course after I had posted my letter. Thou must have been in a very woolly-headed condition, my dear. Thou hasn’t told me at all how thy father is now: better I do hope.
Thanks for the list of presents—I am not keeping any list—I though thou was. I think I get the best of the lace, dear, really—for I see it, whereas thou only wears it.
I’m afraid I wrote rather a cantankerous letter this morning: if so, I’m sorry—especially after thy kind one, dear.
I was sorry thou didn’t come through York the other day for two reasons—first I wanted to know whether to go to Y.M. or not—and thy movements rather affected it; and secondly whether to get a new suit before Old Scholars: as it is, I haven’t done so, so shall probably be unfit to be seen. I still don’t know whether to run up to London on Tuesday or not: almost certainly not however—I can’t afford it for one thing.
Thank thee for the account of the wedding—as far as it went: what a pity thou didn’t go, dear! Where have the happy pair gone? Would thou like to go to Norway, dear? We will if thou likes: though to kick off with thirty six hours on the briny deep would be a risky beginning of bliss!
I think after all on looking at thy letter again that it came straight here by the second post: but it’s rather risky!
I hadn’t been thinking of converting thee at all when I wrote about the garden etc—I just put down what was in my mind. Thou may swear by Gateshead for ever if thou likes: it’s rather too slummy and foggy for me! What’ll thou be wearing I wonder when I see thee next—I am anxious about the hats.
I am grieved at thy misgivings about the house and the hard work in store. I think thou rather exaggerates its size in thy mind: remember that we shall not be using the top storey, so there will only be one bedroom, and that close to; a damsel will do a lot of the rougher work all right; and there will not be much in the way of mending of clothes to start with, will there?—with such a lot of new ones—as far as thine are concerned. And don’t imagine that I am an insatiable epicure—I’m sure I am looking forward to the simplest of simple meals, and shall love them with thee, dear; and I should hate anything else if it came with the thought that my dearest girl was overworking herself. I shall be perfectly content to live very largely on vegetarian lines if thou art doing so—and that will simplify things, won’t it? Certainly not entirely, but wholly vegetarian days at times, I mean—and ordinarily as I proposed as a compromise. Further than that I do not believe it would be right to go: but what is there really in the world that I care about compared with my dear girl’s health and happiness. What ages it seems since I saw thee! We shall have to get engaged again I suppose for the seventeenth time, so get thy proposal ready once more. I am wondering whether to get my hair cut before Saturday or not. I hope thou will come—I want thee to mend my batting glove before Monday’s match—also possibly for other reasons.
I remain, with kind regards,
Thy obedient servant
My dear Love,
Yes, we can manage to squeeze thee in on Saturday I’ve no doubt. Thank thee for thy letter, this morning,—addressed right this time, too. What time will thou be coming I wonder? I want to be off pretty early in the afternoon so as to avoid the crush and the launch, and be able to get back comfortably for the Mount Meeting: we ought to manage 2.15 I think.
I went across to Afternoon tea (!) at Mabel’s today, and saw them all, including Bertha—who seems a little indignant. If thou knows beforehand, send me word whether Isabel is coming or not. By the bye do I call her Isabel? I forget: I think it would be the right thing.
It is strange to look forward to Whitsuntide without the usual perturbation—though much pleasant excitement, dear!—and without the prospect of a ruined appetite, and prolonged manoeuvres to compass a few minutes happiness. They had an interest of their own, certainly,—how one used to sacrifice everything, including politeness often—to the securing of the rare treasure one sought! And now I have won it, and I know it to be a much better treasure even than I fancied. Dear lassie, it’s a pleasure to look back on those days of perplexity and pursuit—for the painfulness is transformed now by the happiness of the issue, and there remains the memory of the old excitement, and the few moments of bliss that were graciously granted now and then—sometimes it was only the carrying of a cloak that was granted—but sometimes a seat in a hammock!
How art thou feeling sweetheart? I do so long to hear that thou art beginning to feel more vigorous again. I don’t think much has happened today—it is rather a hard day. I was pretty close at it from seven till half past twelve, with the exception of breakfast and half an hour after:—doing algebra, and Latin Composition; and two hours this afternoon at Latin, and Grecian History. I am starting Socrates which I always enjoy greatly—it is a great subject, and I know it better than some things one has to teach—one so often has to keep a course going on very imperfect preparation for sheer lack of time.
These summer evenings we play a great running game—Gaol—on the playground: it is good fun and good training, and brings one into jolly sort of contact with the boys at large.
Here is the programme of the Adult School lecturettes—I forget whether I told thee about it. Let me have it back, please, dear.
Does thy father want the Independent Reviews back? I have got the Feb and March ones. I should very much like to see the May number when it is at liberty: I want to read Masterman and some other things. I am on the point of deciding to give up taking in ‘Mind’: it is often beyond me, and I have no time, and can’t afford it.
So thy father is coming after all: well, it is splendid of him, however unwise. I do hope he’ll be none the worse: may the weather by auspicious!
Please give them my love, and would thou like a little or will it keep? Both I hope—
Goodnight, my own sweet lassie,
Thy lover, Frank.
It seems such an age since the train carried thee off! And I think of such lots of things that we ought to have talked over! And I do so long to be with thee so continuously as to talk freely about other things than just arrangements and dates and so forth! That will come some day, dear! I am sorry if I have been reserved or silent: I was not intentionally so.
We had a very nice meeting this morning—chiefly through the ministrations of Frances Thompson—who spoke very finely about making the life fair that came to one, not merely dreaming about some other life that might be fair but was a mere castle in the air—a quotation from Browning was the text to this effect, but I can’t quote it, and didn’t know where it came from.
We ought to have been playing the Retreat this afternoon—and did begin, getting five of the wickets for twenty eight—I got three for seven—does thou understand?—but rain stopped us: we got rather wet, and waited a bit—don’t be alarmed, my dear nurse, I took my shirt off and put my dry sweater on—but we had to chuck it up, and come home to hot baths and cocoa and oranges—the remnants of Saturday’s.
I have written to the Hotel at Corrie. Don’t imagine that I am set against Donegal, dear: thou seemed to think I had not written to Church Hill—so I send thee again the letter etc from St Columb’s Hotel. I wonder what thou has been doing today, lassie. I think thou must feel free to omit letters to me when thou art full up with many things—if it would be any relief. I long for them every day, my dear,—but I long most for thee to get what peace and quiet thou can: so instead of writing, lie down and think about—well, about whatever makes thee happy to think about.
I wrote at last to B. and F’s to say we would take the wardrobe, and not the chairs and chest of drawers.
I hope thou wilt go to Grasmere and not London—for after all the physical is more important than the intellectual in this case—I know there are many other things to consider—but thy rest and refreshment is the most important really.
Beloved, I trust that the spirit of courage, and content, and hope will carry thee safely through these days of strain. I long to clasp thee to my heart.
Thy lover Frank.
My own Sweetheart
Thy dear loving letter was such a joy to me, bringing the fresh sense of my unutterable happiness in the gift of thy loving heart, and the foretaste of a joyful comradeship with my own sweet lassie.
Hurrah for the wedding cake! I’m glad it’s nice; but hope thou was not too exhausted with the labours.
No, dear, I’m not shocked—and I do love to have thee tell me all thy thoughts whether fixed and deep or just passing fancies. I don’t think having two wives is obviously and intrinsically wicked in the way that vice or deceit or cruelty is—but that monogamy is an institution with which the best relations of man and wife, and also the best welfare of the home are bound up, and which therefore good men will support. But one can imagine opinion changing, and one can’t on the other points. There now—what a serious lecture on ethics in reply to thy random revolutionism!
Don’t imagine, dear, when I talk of not affording things that I am feeling it or that it costs me much to renounce them—indeed I generally say it half in fun to remind thee that I have to look forward to paying for thy hats and blouses! And that, dear, is a privilege I am looking forward to (if it’s not too heavy! Ah! if only my purse was a bit heavier—for thy sake, dear!)
I don’t think much has happened today—Algebra—Latin—gerunds and gerundives—Socrates—Cicero—Oh! and I corrected some English essays of the Lower Senior—Last week I set them to write a Monthly Meeting Minute on either Military Sunday or York races—some of them had done it very well, others of course very boyish and badly expressed and arranged. That of course was just a short thing—another piece of composition was to write on—well they had a choice of what they liked—some piece of brief explanation requiring clearness about everything; for instance how to set beetles, How to enlarge photographs, how to work the electric lantern, how to build a boat and so on—each one doing something that they knew about of course. I haven’t looked through these yet—it’s rather a business.
It has been an awful day—so heavy—would that it would pour!
There are some splendid things in the Duty Section, aren’t there?
Forgive these short letters, dearest,—but I have some arrears of work which will not get cleared off. Thy letter seemed very energetic—don’t overdo it, dear.
Thank thee for the kiss, madam: I’ll give thee one some day,
Thy true lover, Mary my own, Frank.
Mary, my Beloved
My room is lovely and scented with the splendid bluebells that thy dear fingers have sent me: it was very delightful of thee, my sweetheart—and I love every one of them: I would have loved to be with thee among them. Thou art very good to me, lassie,—surrounding me with many tokens of thy love—so that I feel even now the joy and pride of possessing thee and of being possessed by thee. I feel as though I had lots of fresh love to tell thee of and to give thee in long kisses upon they dear lips, my darling. No past words will do, although they all stand true and constant: but I long to put my arms about thee again, and to look into the bright eyes that I love, and to tell thee the old story, Mariechen, that I love thee. Why has thou bewitched me so, my dear? My life seems filled with the thought of the dear maiden who has trusted herself to me, and to whom my heart has been so given. My dear one, I cannot tell thee my heart’s feelings as I would—but what I long for is that they may be constantly transformed into real loving acts and true help and sympathy day by day. If they ever have not been or are not, dearest, it will be the weakness of the flesh—and thou wilt forgive and know the love that is truly there.
Today has been mostly wet. Between seven and twelve thirty I did more work than I often do in a given time: besides four classes, I corrected English compositions of the Lower Senior, English précis of the Upper Senior, Latin Exercises of the L.S., prepared a piece of Latin translation, looked through written copies of the same by the U.S., and prepared for the afternoon’s work. Then I took a rest and arranged thy flowers, which came at eleven,—as well as the clumsy fingers of the mere man could do them.
Since tea, I have been having a long talk with Sturge partly about a paper H.R. has written on scholarships—possibly to appear in ‘Bootham’—and which perhaps I shall criticize, also on the organization of the English teaching of the school which seems to me in rather a chaotic state. As regards my own work in most things this year, I have felt rather chaotic. When landed with fresh work, one has not time to think out a systematic course at once, but lives from hand to mouth—so that the first year’s work tend to be rather unorganized and experimental. I think I must bring the English up at the Masters’ Meeting next Thursday.
Mother has sent me a great guide to Ireland issued by the Lancashire and Yorkshire [illegible R?], which Miss Clark has got—(she was mentioned in the letter thou would read!): it has a glowing description of the Donegal highlands.
Another thing I have done today is the partial correction of the proof of an historical catalogue of the Library. This was prepared by Brayshaw—and is a classified list of the History books, according to periods—with references to special chapters often , and sometimes explanatory notes. I think it will be a very useful thing—but needs some very careful correction. I have turned the boy librarians on to verify references; they stayed up last night to do it, and I gave them some of thy cake before they went to bed—and if that wasn’t a reward, what could be?
My cold is getting on nicely thank thee, dear: it is not well, but it is not troubling me at all, and I am in very good form. I’ll take care about the slippers—though I don’t think it’s any worse than putting them (the feet I mean) into the bath, personally.
Goodnight, my own best and sweetest lassie: sleep the sleep of peace and serenity, and awake fresh and vigorous.
Thy true lover, Frank.
Thank thee for thy nice long letter. This is going to be matter of fact mostly—or so I suspect.
First with regard to the colour of the bedroom—I don’t remember what the present one is, and can’t find out now. So it had better wait—if it matters.
Don’t let thy conscience trouble thee, dear: probably if I had thought a moment I shouldn’t have objected—but the thing suddenly struck me. Indeed dear, thou can always see all my letters. Poor old chap! I’m sorry for him!
Then as regards Agnes’ letter—is a copper one a lot of trouble? If so, rule it out at once: if not, I support it as probably a unique present—not likely to be duplicated. I can’t be perfectly certain of getting the black kerb—they may mean to keep it now—but I should think not.
Fourthly as to fish—I rather hope thou will, dear: I’ll promise not to put it down to the fish—but after all the main thing is that thou shouldst grow strong: if the fact is secured, the explanation is unimportant—and I will swear if necessary that it is due to thy not drinking tea or to thy lying on thy back or not having a pillow or to bile beans or thy natural strength of mind or anything else thou likes.—Only get strong, lassie!
Fifthly—the chairs are given up because we got them at Storys’ instead: and we never meant to get the oak chest if we took the wardrobe, thou doesn’t want an oak chest with the other set—does thou? Besides we booked the other chest. Or does thou want an extra one? But where would it go?
Herewith is a letter from the Corrie Hotel. I named August 10th to him in a general way. Is that date the limit, dear, inevitably? That is a Wednesday. I am inclined to book up with this place: but must name a day. I doubt if we can get there in a day. So it would be the 11th. Shall I say a week for certain and ask for chance of more—leaving it open? I incline to a fortnight.
Forgive this prosaic scrap, dear. I do not feel prosaic at all: but long to see thee and kiss thee, my own dear girl—
Dearest love from Frank.
Thank thee, as ever, for thy dear letter. It made me long more than ever—no! That cannot have been so—to come and pay thee a visit, lassie: a weekend would certainly be more satisfactory—but I am like an indentured Chinese labourer—only allowed off the premises for a limited length of time (except for three months of the year—which is a fair slice after all). No! I shall have to pay thee two or three flying visits—probably a fortnight yesterday for one, dear, if thou wants to see me when that time comes. I think it’s a good thing we took a fair sized house—the bride cake alone will take up the servant’s bedroom I should imagine.
Today is rather jolly—we walked back from Meeting through the Museum Gardens—and they are looking very fine with laburnum and lilac and rhododendrons.
Sturge and I are going to Bertha’s to tea,—in a few minutes—and to Meyer’s to supper. This is an off day thou sees.
Loch Hourn is impossible I think—there’s nowhere to stay. I think we shall have to toss up between Donegal and Arran,—especially as thou supports each in turn in successive letters,—thou bewildering damsel! But after all, as some one has said, what’s the good of having a mind if you mayn’t change it? Don’t change it on some things—that’s all, dear!
I have been enjoying the Independent Review greatly: this afternoon I have read Lowes Dickinson on Religion and Revelation—and felt more agreement with it than any thing I have read for a long time—not only agreement but much intellectual satisfaction.
Forgive this scrap, my dear lassie—I will try and write a nice one next—but I have been clearing off some writing—and left thee too late. I long for the days when our intercourse shall be closer and freer and more constant—and yet how I love thy letters.
Goodbye, my own best and dearest,
Thy lover, Frank.
My sweet Lassie,
I wonder why thou thought thou had written a horrid letter: I’m sure it wasn’t—‘parts of it were’ lovely, dear. I’m glad thou’rt sentimental, sweetheart: I shan’t give thee a necklace I don’t suppose, but I’ll give my bride a long sweet kiss if she’ll give me one—and it shall be the forerunner of many a love token, lassie, in the time to come. Don’t recover, dear! I shall count the days till I see thee again and feel thy arms round me.
My dear, I am in worse confusion than ever: I thought thou was so anxious that we shouldn’t be too much alone—for fear of something or other I don’t quite know what. But certainly the price at Corrie is appalling. It’s only the amount of money we’ve had given us that allows of its being even considered. But I’m certainly rather swinging round to Church Hill. I don’t suppose we shall do much cheaper if we moved to other places in Scotland—that is if we stick to hotels. I don’t feel much troubled about the crowds in Arran—it is crowded because there is hardly anywhere to stay: Corrie will be a very minute place. How would one of the cottages at Balmacara do, if they would do for us as to meals?—i.e. after a week or so at Corrie?
We break up on July 28th—a Thursday. Some small points against postponing the day are (1) a fortnight’s holiday before it will be somewhat horrible to me—a sort of prolonged excitement—unless of course I postponed the house affairs and spent it largely in York—busy in that way. (2) it would be more difficult to get, say, Sturge and Mr Andrews than if it was very soon after breaking up. I only mention these as very small points, dear. But if thou can tell me to within three or four days, I could write to an hotel. The Glenshiel Inn by the bye is 63/- a week: it would be fine no doubt, and secluded.
Yes, dear, get the cookery things by all means: though I don’t want to put more on to thee than can be helped. But I am aware of my own incompetence in many things from carpets and curtains to pans and pruning hooks.
My dear, thou wilt be the dearest of travelling companions, then and always: and I want nothing better than to travel ever by thy side, my darling. However I express it,—those will be my thoughts thou may be sure. How rummy it will be! With a precious maiden to be constantly thought of and looked after—with a dear comrade who has come right inside one’s life.
Does thou remember in the Dolly Dialogues—Dolly reading a letter:- ‘Marriage is at once a trial and an opportunity.’ ‘Hear, hear’, said Mr Carter ‘a trial for the husband, and ‘.....’Be quiet’ said Dolly.
We had a pleasant time at the Meyer’s last night. I sang ‘Phyllis is my only joy’—fancy!—and ‘My Queen’: a Dr Hartley from the Leeds Infirmary was there—a pleasant man. Then too we smoked first rate cigars: and had some excellent veal pie. Their garden is superb: wallflowers and all sorts of things. They are training up a lovers’ walk—I always remonstrate with them for not having it ready—but they say it will be in time for their sons. (who are now at Bootham).
Today has turned out pretty well in the end—and we had some good cricket between 4.30 and 6.30—playing a game between the Upper and Lower Landings (bedrooms). I have written to Sophie telling her a chair, or desert set or knives: was that right? I hadn’t made any note about it.
I wish I was writing thee nicer letters, Beloved—such as thou art giving to me. But read into them, dear, all the love and devotion that thou knows is really in my heart. I think of thee at all times, my dear one; and I rejoice in the strong and loving bond that there is between us. How I long for thy sweet presence! ‘How do I love thee’! I could not count the ways if I would. I’m glad thou’rt being a good girl and taking rests;—and getting fat too—bless my soul!
Some kisses, dear, and all my best love, Frank.
My Dearest Mary,
Tuesday is my easy day as far as classes are concerned, so I have been getting a variety of things cleared off. I have finished for instance the correction of the History Catalogue proof; drawn up a set of essays or questions for Knight to do on Educational theory and history; also sketched out a list of subjects for my English history class. I am always anxious to avoid making the history course merely a set of lectures, and to get them (the boys) to do some definite reading on their own account. So I have generally given up two or three weeks to this, put up a list of subjects for essays for them to choose from, and turned them loose in the Library. This time I think I shall have them make a few pages of well arranged notes instead of an essay. They will get more done, and it will take me less time to look through,—the latter an important consideration. After all the main thing is that they should be turned out with a desire to do historical reading, and knowing how to set about it.
This time they will be mostly thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth century things—such as the rise of Parliament, Chaucer; Wicliffe, the Peasants’ Revolt and so forth. I am thinking in my Ancient History class of leaving Greece—now that I have done Socrates—and taking up some parts of Roman history—such for instance as the Punic Wars,—especially the 2nd, about Hannibal; and the times of Caesar and the establishment of the Empire.
Next Sunday I have to give this lecturette to the Adult School on Socrates. I don’t feel very happy about it—twenty minutes is such a very short time—and they will have no foundation in their minds of knowledge of the times or anything of that sort. Still perhaps it may be done.
We have just had the football team photographs given out,—that were taken towards the end of last term. The first team one is rather bad: indeed I daren’t send it to thee—thou art such a severe critic, my dear!
Today has been awful—heavy as lead—it is a pleasure now to listen to the rain pouring down—though the ground will be rather swampy for the match tomorrow.
Observe my economy in note-paper, my dear,—and commend it. We shall save a good deal of that afterwards any way—unless thou writes home every day. The flowers are unhappily beginning to fade; but some are lovely still. I wish I could wear thy socks, dear—but they must wait till the cold weather comes again I think. But I look at them sometimes and think of all the kind toil that my dear girl put into them—and the sponge bag too! And the braces! And the washing of the cushions! And all sorts of things! Thou art rather a nice old thing, I must say!
This is a queer letter—I wonder what kind thou likes—
I remain with love thy friend, F.E.P.
Today has been a perfectly splendid day—excepting only that I was bereft of the letter that I always long for. Thank thee very much for the Arbitrator, dear: it is very good reading.
This morning I strolled round the city doing various odd jobs—got my hair cut for instance, called at the gas place—they let out stoves—free if you have a slot metre, or if not, charging say half a crown a quarter; looked in at Hunter and Smallpage and inquired the cost of revolving bookshelves, and of music cabinets—they were not as much as I expected, but none of the latter were very nice, and the former were rather small.
It is excellent to see the use made of the opportunity presented by the Cobden centenary: after all there have been few wiser and saner men in English public life than he, or whose names stand for higher and truer ideals.
This afternoon we played the North Riding Asylum, and smote them. A thing happened that perplexed my judgement and conscience greatly. When I had made 2, one of our boys, who was umpiring, gave me ‘not out’, when I was palpably out. What was I to do? Get out on purpose or what? Well, I stayed in and slashed round recklessly with the idea of getting out—gave two or three chances which were missed—and eventually made 70: but I felt very uncomfortable and do still. Linney made 100—a fine innings. I don’t know whether thou understands this, but get thy father to explain—if thou art at all interested.
How I long to be with thee again, my dear one! Forgive me if I have said anything harsh: thou would if thou knew how I was longing unutterably for the music of thy voice, and the brightness of thy dear brown eyes, and the loving kindness of thy arms about me and thy kisses on my lips—if that might be. I think again of the first sweet embrace we ever had, my darling—the herald of the new joy that had come into life—and which thou has given me in such abundant measure.
Forgive this short letter: I am on duty, and have Scripture and Socrates to prepare.
May I send thee some kisses, and all my best and dearest love, Mary my sweetheart,
Thy love, Frank.
My own Dearest,
It is nearly eleven—and this letter won’t get off to night therefore—but I feel inclined to begin it before retiring to my ‘mossy couch’.
Thank thee for thy card, dear: although it was meagre compared with what my soul was desiring. I have been thinking about thee all day, with much love and longing in my heart, lassie—love for the sweet maiden who has trusted herself to me—and longing for loving words from her lips—and with the thought that I am sometimes forgetful of the duty of tenderness and sympathy, and of making the path she has chosen—(a difficult one and chosen for my sake)—easy and smooth, as I ought to try to do. But I must try and do better, and no man can do more.
I am going to begin some negotiations about getting off, when way seems to open—but there are some grave difficulties. Wednesday is Monthly Meeting at Bubwith, and some will be let off to go: on Saturday Baynes is going away—In consideration of his labours as headmaster last term, he is being given a long weekend—observe, dear, that it is a very special privilege given for a definite reason. Now this makes it difficult to get away at the same time, and harder to ask for any time off—it would look like asking for a similar thing. Mary, dear, I am longing to be with thee again in thy own dear home; but I cannot beg for favours, I think of added burdens to my colleagues, I remember that when I am married I shall permanently be exempt from duty which will fall all the oftener upon them—and I don’t want to be an example of the notorious uselessness of engaged men. Perhaps thou art not convinced, but I am trusting that thou wilt at any rate understand.
I hope thou art well, lassie: may I send thee some loving kisses before I go to bed? Come and tuck me up, dear, and let us read the poem together as of old—and may I feel thy kisses on my neck? Goodnight, Mariechen my own.
Thank thee for thy letter, dear—it made me rather sad—for there is nothing I want so much as to help thee, if I am only given a chance. But tell me how, dear! When I talk about things it only seems to distress thee—and that is the last thing I want to do. However we will talk things over when we are face to face in the flesh again.
I don’t know whether to send this letter or not: it ought to have been much more matter-of-fact—but as it has been written, it may go—I nearly tore it up.
Try and remember, Mary, how I like to hear all that thou does and says and thinks, if it is not a burden to thee. I have felt the want of it so much.
I discoursed on Socrates yesterday morning as arranged, for about twenty five minutes, with some satisfaction. Today has been horribly cold for some reason or other; and in the game this evening I was bowled second ball.
I was so disappointed, Mary dear, that thou had not read the poems—I have thought of thee as I have read them in bed, and pictured thee reading them—and rather specially the last few nights—and it was all a myth! Alas! Alas!
Cheer up, madam! I have a vision of getting a whole day if I can some day, and coming to breakfast—if thou wants me! I think it’s rather a brilliant notion. I’ll come and knock thee up in the morning—
p.s. later Let me know by the morning post, dear, if it would do for me to come on Wedn. (day after tomorrow) and whether thou would like me to: and I will write when I know for certain. I suppose if I turned up to breakfast, there would be some.
My Own Betrothed,
Only a tiny letter I’m afraid, for I have been having tea with Hugh and Mabel, have to do some extra Latin with a youth soon, then am on duty for seeing the pretty dears to bed, then have some work in the Library, and lastly supper.
I got to York comfortably at 1.20, and was snugly in bed at 1.40, and up again to a class at 7.0. I think yesterday was a day of unclouded and special and complete happiness; I hope it was to thee, my dearest—and that the discussions about things do not worry thee—rather think of them as full of interest as anticipating the happy days to come. By the bye we didn’t settle in the end when it was to be—whether the 3rd or 10th: I don’t think the question of delay for me is worth consideration,—though the inconvenience of splitting people’s holidays, who will want and whom we shall want to come, is a small point to be thought of. Still the main thing is thy convenience. If thou doesn’t write definitely in a day or so, I shall toss up and book rooms accordingly; so there, madam!
I hope thou had a good night, lassie—I mentally waved a handkerchief and threw a kiss as we rushed through Bensham—I hope thou was tucked up by that time.
Don’t get any more headaches, dear, please: it is awful to think that I have been the cause of them at all by my ‘unreasonable’ness. And take so much rest as can be compassed in this whirl of life. I am hoping thou will be as strong as a horse in August—though sometimes I think thy energy is rather an alarming prospect.
There doesn’t seem to be anything to say about today. We are approaching mid-term, and numbers have to be made up—a bother. I have got the Cobden Club portrait of R.C. and pinned it up in the senior classroom: it is a very good one I think.
This morning I got a proposed itinerary sent of an Argonaut tour to the Isles of Greece, next Easter—shall we go, dear? Not more than £80 I should think!
My own sweetheart, I am so refreshed with the renewed sense of thy love, and the feel of thy kisses.
Best and dearest love, Mary my own,
My dear love to thy Mother and to Ruth.
Thanks for thine just to hand.
My own Beloved,
It was good to get thy letter this morning. It seems such a long time since thou went away, and I long to see thee again.
Mother and I have had a busy day and rather a nice one. (except so cold) We got to Sunderland at 10.20 and it was nearly 2.0 o’clock when we finished choosing the linen. Oh, Frank, I’d no idea it was such a business, nor that sheets and tablecloths, etc cost so much. We spent about £90 and yet we might have spent heaps of times as much, but Mother insisted on getting good, but plain things, and of course I was glad, and I’m sure thou would like it best too. I do really think people nowadays are ridiculously extravagant, and I do think also that sheets and things of that sort are much better plain or nearly so. Uncle Alec and Herbie and a young man waited on us the whole morning and were most kind and helpful, only they won’t believe our beds are only 3 ft and by this time I’m not sure myself. Are they? However I think the sheets will fit even if they are bigger.
I tried to learn the difference between the different kinds of things and they were amused and Herbie said that when he comes to see us he will say ‘this is a tablecloth’ etc.!
Really, dear, I’m beginning to think that even linen may be interesting, and that I shall be proud of ours. I daresay Hugh was right when he said some months ago it would be a good thing for me to begin getting my trousseau!!
We got tablecloths and serviettes, sheets, pillow and bolster cases, towels, dusters, cloths of every description, handkerchiefs, etc, but only 3 bedspreads until we know the colours of the rooms. Later on I’ll give thee the size of the pillow and bolster cases, so that we can get the pillows to fit. Uncle Alex thought some of my ideas queer I’m afraid. They showed us, I think, tablecloths which cost 10 guineas or more, and yet people buy them. I hope thou’lt like ours—I couldn’t resist a shamrock.....
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[added to the top of the first page] Don’t blame thyself for my headaches, Frank dear please.
I wish I could have waved to thee from the balcony the other night—we’ll miss that if we go north! It will be funny for all the others have gone south.
Goodbye my dear betrothed, a nice long kiss from thy loving Mary.
My own Dearest,
Thank thee muchly for thy long and interesting letter—most interesting, dear—the idea of thinking all that would be dry and dull! I am amazed at the amount required for the linen and things: it is awfully good of thy Mother to take so such trouble and fit thee out—us, shall I say?—so substantially. There seem to be some serious arrears of questions to be answered—I wonder if I can remember what they are—still more answer them.
Yes, the beds are 3 ft: I think they will be all right. I should say certainly prepare for a double bed. My own opinion would be—get one now in the spare room: but if thou doesn’t want this, we should be quite likely to have one sometime.
I cannot tell thee the exact measurements of the dressing tables—I think 3 ft 6: and I believe the table was 3.6 wide, 4 ft to 6 ft long. If it is important I will find out exactly: we arranged for 3 leaves, but I have no note as to whether they were to be 2 ft or 2.6 when all in.
I hardly know how the piano shops are, here—but should doubt if they’re likely to be as good as yours. I have no opinion as to makers. The idea of thy being nervous because I’m a player is absurd, dear: why, most of the pieces thou plays, I couldn’t do if I practised for ages and ages. I am looking forward to lots of joint concerts, dear, for our own two selves: I love hearing thee play, dearest,—tremendously.
I am not conscious of leaving things out because they would be uninteresting to thee: I generally plonk down what comes into my head. So I hope thou won’t take to anything of the kind, dear,—but chatter freely about every mortal thing—they all interest me.
Mabel was talking the other day about what they should give us—I think they will probably wait and see what we need.
The other night Dobson turned up and had supper in Sturge’s room. He had been bringing a gentleman to the Retreat—had spent the previous night at Storrs Hall outside the man’s room—inside was the chap himself—raving—with club and revolver.
I started to write a note to E. Garnett last night—to thank him for congratulations a few months ago!—and then I remembered he had given us a present—and I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was! Please tell me, dear.
This afternoon I got tea at St. Mary’s with Laurie and Gertie: they seem in good spirits and on good terms with one another, in spite of the trials of married life.
Not much has happened today I think. A rather jolly day—Algebra and adding up marks all the morning, and bullying some silly little jossers who couldn’t do simultaneous quadratics,—and a boys’ second eleven cricket match to watch this afternoon—lazy and placid—then tea as above. Since then some more marks to finish off—and then this letter and now it’s approaching supper time.
I am sorry to think thou art having such a rush, dear—specially when thou ought to be taking it easy: and I wish I was more competent to help thee with things. If there is anything that I can do—as to kitchen things for instance—thou wilt tell me, won’t thou, dear. I don’t think I shall be very specially busy in school matters the rest of the term.
It is getting near, certainly: the business-like nature of thy letter, my dear, was really magnificent.
I have written to Corrie, asking to book for a week from the 4th: of course he may not be able to—I spoke before about the 10th. I still think that a minimum of a fortnight would be best: and incline to write to Church Hill for about the 18th,—if thou art so disposed: the alternative is the Balmacara or Duich region.
I think distemper looks very nice to start with: but it doesn’t last well—it would mean frequent doing—it takes marks very badly—pictures, furniture etc.
What a prosaic letter! And yet it is not! I never write these things without feeling the romance of them all,—full of visions of happy days by my sweetheart’s side,—for she will always be my own precious sweetheart—whom I shall love more and more dearly as the days go on. We will grow younger together in spirit, dear—and be as we were in old Scotland days—only far, far happier: and if we grow old, lassie, it shall only bring us closer and closer together.
I’m sorry I have not written thee better letters the last few days—but though I’ve not been specially busy, there have been lots of things to keep my mind from being free to think about a good daily report to my sweet mistress.
Beloved, it was so good to see thee and feel thy love—I want it now and always.
Thank thee for thy nice kiss.
Love and kisses, from thy faithful servant, Frank.
Thy desire for me to have a beard would be a reason for giving it favourable consideration, my dear. And as to smoking, I will confine it to the bicycle shed.
My own Darling
I’ve got such a wave of longing on me for thee that I am beginning another letter to-night.
We had a good many people to tea, and then Margaret Shield and some of her family appeared. Her husband is making us some kitchen fire-irons.
Father suffered so much to-night that we went to Mosscroft and telephoned for the Doctor. I’ve been absolutely miserable ever since, because I find that I am right, and he has got angina pectoris (the present pain is not heart pain) and thou knows that it is quite incurable and indeed the heart is always deteriorating though it may be very slowly. It is not this that troubled me for I knew it before (though I hoped I had made a mistake) but because in a discussion with R. I see that it is no use depending on her to tell me things when I’m married. I promised Evie I would tell her everything, and I’ve always done so, because, though Mother means to tell, if she is really anxious she is apt not to, to try and hide her own anxiety. She wouldn’t let us be sent for when Arnold was ill, and Evie had to take all the responsibility of telegraphing for us. I sent this to her to-night and she admitted it was true, and so I made her promise to tell me the truth and let me come and help if Father gets ill, but though she has promised, I feel it is no use depending on it, and if Ruth won’t do it there will be no one to hear from, but when I feel in a better mood, I’ll try and persuade Ruth into feeling differently about it.
At present I just feel I can’t leave home, and I do wish thou wast here to comfort me with kisses.
Having been at Leicester gives one a certain right to help to nurse, which I shall lose after August, and it is dreadful to think of. I did want it so when Arnold was ill, for I hardly ever was allowed into the room.
I forget, did I ever tell thee that of course I think it would be best to stay at least a fortnight in Arran? Herbie and Olive wrote the other day to Aunt Gertie that they had been ‘plodging’—‘don’t let Mary hear or she will despise us!’ I am amused, for I love plodging though not when one can get bathing instead!
Laurie has been made quite energetic, climbing snow mountains. He says he grumbled at first, but got to like it!
Monday. Many thanks for thy letter dear.
Dost thou know Father and Mother did not take a single book with them on their wedding tour except a guide book, and they think the Bible! But then, Father could repeat pretty nearly all the time if necessary, but he slept from Paris to Basle, and Mother had nothing to read. I should have been angry! And papers and books weren’t so common in the hotels in those days.
I’m not proposing we should do likewise! If we go to Ireland we might take ‘The Island of Sorrow’ for a light novel. I saw it well reviewed and with Vittoria and the ‘Lord of the Isles’ we will have a fair amount. Thou didn’t say whether Lockhart’s Life of Scott, or part of it, would be nice to take.
Father is dreadfully discouraged and no wonder. 2 attacks of pleurisy, pericarditis, and now very slight inflammation of the bowels, or of the muscle, all this year, is enough to make him so, and he thinks people will cease to depend on him. He will have to miss an important meeting to-day, and he hates not going to work. However, I think he will soon be better—he is so obstinate—I begged him to let me get the Dr on Saturday and he wouldn’t—next time I shall of my own accord.
I’ve been in most of to-day, going over things as usual, sewing, attending to Father and writing letters for him ( and he forgets I don’t write shorthand!) trying to decide what will be useful in Bootham Crescent, and what will merely be useless lumber, and I find this most difficult to do, and so on.
We can’t go away now on Friday as we had hoped. I’m so disappointed, but Agnes is coming here, which is lovely.
I wonder when I’m going to see thee again—before long I hope. I get absolutely no reading done now—except old letters! I wonder if it bothers thee when I enclose them for thee to see—don’t read them if it does—thou knows we are a dreadful family for sharing things of that sort, but some people hate it, so I don’t want thee to feel compelled to read them dearest. These that I’m enclosing are because of the allusions to thee, and I do not see that they need be kept any longer. It is now nearly 4 years (June 17th) since that day thou came over here—I’m not sure that I like to think much about it yet—thou wilt see what a sweet letter Bertha wrote to me then.
About Jeanie dear—I’m sorry I can give thee so little help, but I feel in the dark myself. Won’t thou ask Mabel about furniture, papering, cleaning etc, the times of doing it I mean, and then it would be easier to fix about Jeanie. It is kind of her.
By the bye, I enclose a letter from Esther Clothier, to show thee that I did work hard occasionally at school (thou thinks it was my own fault that I didn’t learn more). It is rather sentimental, but very kind; (I did get into the 1st that half!) but how sad it is to think how utterly one grows apart from some of one’s friends afterwards. Thou and I never can now, can we? It would be too dreadful.
Goodbye, my Beloved. Let me send my astral body to be with thee—I think it always is. I don’t much like Being and Doing just now. Can’t we read something else?
Thine loverfully, Mariechen.
My own dear Lassie,
Thy long and sweet and interesting letter was very good to get: it told me much of thy thoughts and the feelings of thy heart, Beloved—and what do I love to hear about so much, and long to understand fully and always? My heart is very full of love for thee, my sweetheart—I am longing to fold thee again to my breast: what a joy it would be to feel my darling’s arms around me now, and hear the music of her loving words. Dearest I was happy in the old days, but I am looking forward to more blessed times ahead of us. There were many prizes out of reach in the days of the walk on Rum—lovely as it was. We did not hold one another’s hands, dear; thou did not call me by dear loving names; I might not stroke thy hair and look into thy dear eyes; thy hair was undisturbed then (it was generally down, wasn’t it); I did not put my arms around thee, lassie, nor dare even to kiss thy hair: no, no,—for me at any rate, I could not resign these privileges—I treasure them far more than thou thinks, Mariechen, dear—their only rivals are thy arms around me, dear, and thy loving kisses on my neck and lips.
How funny it will be when we can love one another without possibility of interruption, and without the thought over us of an early parting. I think it will bring a quietness and serenity and restfulness into our hearts, so that sympathy and understanding can grow peacefully day by day. Not that everything will always be easy: you cannot take two lives and bind them up together without its needing watchful care in giving and taking to see that they blend harmoniously. It is my most earnest aspiration that I may keep my heart and understanding tender and open—so that the dear maiden who has trusted herself to me may not regret her rashness. This uplifting of my heart is my prayer, dear—which will be answered in so far as I live in its spirit, and keep its vision before me.
And now reluctantly I must turn to prose—and yet after all the poetry of life is worth very little if it cannot transform and infuse itself into the prose.
And first as regards bridesmaids and bouquets. I would much rather thou decided without considering me. I am inclined to demur because I think the simplicity of the wedding is being slowly undermined by a series of things each small in itself. But then the whole thing is incomprehensible to me: how a person can feel strongly about whether they dress exactly like someone else, and whether they walk a yard behind thee or five yards behind thee, I cannot even begin to comprehend. As long as they are there, and are decently dressed, what possible difference can it make?
As to flowers, though I love them, I expect they are far more a necessary of life to thee than to me—so thou had better leave me out of account, dear.
I think the 1.30 performance and departure by the 5.29 and stopping in Edinburgh, sounds best. But there may be more trains after June: also I haven’t heard from Arran yet. Yes, I shall probably read the paper, the Virgil I am not sure about, but the cigar I am quite certain about!
What a hurry Liberty’s seem to be in! I’ll write to them just to comfort them a bit. The Murray’s Ireland arrived this morning—for which much thanks.
This afternoon the Matriculation (London) exam began: we are a centre for it—and the John Bright Library is being used and nearly forty candidates are taking it there, including our own ten—and some from the Mount, and a number of others. Thou may be interested in the English paper: please return it some day. As regards subjects for essays, the syllabus reckons to include some History and Geography, as well as mere language etc: so they are prepared for that. I don’t think it’s a bad paper—rather sensible—certainly a good test of knowledge of and power over the language. But it’s very difficult to do much specific preparation for. Does thou know John Lawrence? He’s a Friend.
I have just been down to see if there were any letters, and found one from Arnold Rowntree—which I enclose—sending a cheque for three guineas (I hope thou art keeping a list, dear—I’m not)—isn’t it good of him? He’s an old fellow—matric of mine. How would a picture do?
I had a kind letter from Evie this morning—sending a small present to me: I’ll tell thee what it is someday, dear.
Goodnight, my Beloved
Ever thy own Frank.
p.s. What does thou think of the passage from Huxley? I think it’s great. A.P. quotes it in one of his essays.
p.p.s. It was the maniac inside who had the revolver.
My own Dearest,
I am sitting—after a comfortable tea—by my open window, and the strains of the gala band are borne in, with a remoter background of the merry go round. Tonight the boys stay up to see the fireworks—which are often very fine.
And this all brings back the days of my meeting thee in the flower show, and all that followed. I wonder what the things are that stick in one’s memory most—well, I remember holding thy hand in the garden of 12 St. Mary’s, walking back with thee from the Albert Library, lying at thy feet in the Bensham Drawing Room, kissing thy hand and hair, dear, and the vision of thee in white, as my train steamed out. And if I also remember lying on the sofa and crying my heart out—or the wound and blank of the hours and days that followed,—why, my Beloved, these things are softened, transformed indeed and hallowed by the happy issue. And it is the years of harassment that thou has had, which I find hardest to forgive, as it were.
This afternoon we played St. John’s College—a strong team, not beaten yet this year, and who beat us the first match of the season—In Baynes’s absence, I captained: we made 103—A.G.L. was out first ball of the match, Littleboy made 51, I made 12: and then we got them out for 22!! A.G.L. got 6 wickets for 12, F.E.P. 3 for 9. Does that interest thee, my dear? It was a great and glorious victory.
If we go to Balmacara, would thou prefer the sea? I think the Claymore or Clansman going round the Mull and taking about 28 hours from Greenock to Balmacara, would be jolly. Then I should like to plan a walking tour to wind up with via Loch Duich, Glenelg etc—the difficulty is there is no hotel on Loch Hourn apparently, or we might have come steadily South towards Arisaig or Fort William. All this is just rambling—nothing requiring any opinion, dear.
Thank thee for thy nice letter this morning—but I was grieved indeed to read thy anxious report of thy father, dear. My spirit is with thee, my darling, very specially in the thought of the troubles and anxieties of these days: may they soon pass, and health and strength reign again!
I broke out into my book buying tendencies this morning, after a long restraint: I don’t know that they will be much in thy line, my dear: they were Henry Bradley’s Making of English, the Tutorial Series Matric. English Course, and a Manual of Précis writing, and a book of (and on) Education.
By the bye there is of course an abridged Lockhart—does thou mean that? I saw a 1/- edition of it this morning.
I don’t think I want to add to the list of those to be invited, except Sophie’s boys, and ? a child or two with Lillie—as I suggested: and Sturge, and Mr Andrews. The latter will not come I think—as Binyon is getting married on the 3rd, and he is booked for that. I suppose Falkner will be asked—I feel he has the first claim as a comrade in days of affliction.
How soon shall I send a list of those to have cards? Could I not address envelopes for them? That would be simplest I should have thought.
I have just had to run away on duty—and have been giving young Clapham a quarter of an hour’s private algebra: he seems a keen youth.
My dearest, how I wish I was coming over again—and I must before long, but it isn’t easy to arrange—next Wednesday some going Rawdon General Meeting, the week after Ackworth G.M.—and so on. It will probably be a sudden performance like the last—making thee cancel several engagements!—What inconsiderate things men are, aren’t they, dear?
And now I must run off to the boys’ supper and reading.
Later. They will be going down in the field shortly, and I must run out to have an eye to them.
Goodnight, my dear one,—all my best love is for thee, and I send lots of kisses. Oh that I could feel thine!
Thy lover, Frank.
My own Beloved,
I write the words I have written so often before—and yet feeling them more deeply and richly than ever—the joy of thy sweet companionship, lassie, being fresh and living in my heart.
We ran past Bensham at 31 min past eleven, and I thought of my darling in bed—and I should not have minded if she was asleep—though it was nice to feel that she was thinking of me. We got in here punctually—I had had a pipe, read a chapter, dreaded and snoozed—and was into bed about the usual time. I have not weathered the late journey so entirely as usual—being rather headachey today—but am all right now after tea. I have had an easy day really—getting off a class this morning because of the boys going to one of the Home Reading Union lectures—on Roman Britain. This was not a great success according to their account—the chap not speaking well at all.
By way of taking it easy I have read Mr G.—the chapters on Mitchelstown, the Parnell Commission and thereabouts—and with great interest. The Commission came when I was a boy here, and a few of us followed it with immense keenness. I remember I specially ordered copies of the Freeman’s Journal for a week because it had the fullest report of Sir Charles Russell’s great speech.
I ought either to be listening to Professor Miall on the History of a Gnat; or to Dr Strong of the social Institute, New York, on Twentieth Century Problems—at the Meeting House—under the auspices of the Friends’ social Service Committee—Perhaps thy Mother met him at the Peace Conference at Manchester.
No, I oughtn’t really: I am doing my duty and pleasure as it is, dear.
A letter from Jeanie this afternoon: she is very busy, the house keeper being ill, and the General Meeting coming on. She says that Lillie has just had a telegram from John saying he’s coming home—probably the heat has knocked him up: so perhaps he’ll be at the Wedding after all. Jeanie recommends getting the furniture in before the end of July and says that if we are away a month she might be able to come and straighten up for a few days before we come back. So, it’ll have to be a month, my dear, won’t it?
I have been looking at some of my possessions: does thou know I have three teapots?!! Also five or six cups and saucers, two sugar basins, seven tea spoons, two kettles (one very juvenile), a cake dish! Why with thy plates that’s enough to begin on by itself! I suppose I shall hear from Mother in the morning about the spoons and things, and will send thee a line at once.
I hope all thy folk are better, recovered from cold and tiredness. How I loved the time with thee my dearest! I wonder if we shall fight as much as Falkner and Agnes. How lovely it was sitting on the log,—why, isn’t there a song ‘I’m sitting on the log, Mary’?—if there isn’t there ought to be.
When I hear thee talk freely and happily about the future, my Beloved, I feel once again something of all the gratitude I owe thee for the brave way in which thou art entering on a life where there is so much to make thee inclined to shrink. What can I do in return for thy loving kindness, my own?
Thy true lover, Frank.
My own Sweetheart,
Thank thee for thy nice letter. I am interested in hearing of the new presents. Jeanie has got her knives ready—and I shall probably bring them back with me tomorrow. I am going for most of the day after all—I had hardly expected it—but A.R. offered it.
No dear, I’m not overworking myself: I stayed in bed this morning till about ten past seven, which seemed quite luxurious. In the morning I had a Vergil class with the Upper Senior, spent some time in worrying a difficult Algebraic example with Knight, read the newspapers, went through the notebooks of the Upper Schoolroom on the English History subjects that they had chosen—some of them were very good. Then dinner, coffee, cricket,—an English History class—I am taking up the period of the Renascence for the rest of the term. Then I looked in upon Knight who was having a children’s party—Joan, Ailie, Molly and Colin—and we drank tea together. They afterwards went out and played bears on the lawn.
Then at 5.15 I gave the Lower Senior a great questioning on the Roman History we have done during the last two or three weeks. I have been having thy braces altered so as not to wear the shirts, and got them back from the sadler’s today.
Another dress! Dear me, dear me! it’s a good thing we have one or two extra rooms, dear, to show things in: or how would it do to send some of thy dresses—say eighteen or twenty of them—to the bank along with the surplus salt cellars and spoons. Please send me an accurate description of the hat,—including (and this is the main point) its diameter frontways and sideways.
Tonight I am going to send a cheque to Liberty’s, and also to Herbert Corder—the first premium for the Insurance: it is a policy for £500 payable at death or in 1929, and the premium is £17.5.0 per annum.
I see that yesterday’s Times had an immense article by Tolstoi on War: and I am rather hoping to get a look at it. But of course his attitude is well known enough: and personally I can’t go with him in his condemnation of all force. I think the development of international law and international tribunals is a much truer and more hopeful line—I liked Courtney at Manchester greatly.
I hope, dear, that thou wilt take some book for thyself in August: I feel sure if the weather gives us much time for reading we shall want to read on our own account a bit. Personally I always like a holiday most if I do a bit of stiff reading on it: still, dear, I admit this will be rather an exceptional time!!!
This is rather cold blooded, isn’t it, lassie? Not that I feel so in the least: no, I am filled with a feeling of our deep unity, dearest, and of great confidence in our joint life that lies before us.
Much true love, Mary my own, from Frank.
It is such a long time since I have heard from thee, dear—that I almost hesitate to write: but as I want to, I will—just for the sake of talking to thee. I have been thinking much the last few days (especially I believe last Friday evening—and that was why thy Sat. Morning letter distressed me so much)—about the long years in which I waited or schemed in hope (or sometimes despair) of winning Mary’s love, the treasure that was for ever, as it seemed, to be out of my reach. And as I remembered those times, it seemed almost unbelievable that I had really won the prize: and yet for a year the dear maiden whom I had loved from afar (not always very far!) has been my own betrothed—and her love has come to be the most precious possession of my life, and I love her more than ever—more than I can tell her—for words are feeble things. Perhaps when we are heart to heart, and lips are touching, and we can look into one another’s eyes, then perhaps we know and understand our hearts. Mary my darling, I want to have thee again: come and bless me with thy own dear presence—I am but a desolate and crippled thing without my sweetheart—who indeed in her loving-kindness and her truth is my ‘better half’. Lassie, I do not think that in all my dreams of love in the old days there was anything to compare with the reality: for though thou and I have had our troubles, yet they have generally in the end drawn us closer together, and the sweetness of thy tender companionship, my dear one, has brought the fresh air upon me—and it is for me to tell thee, dear, how grateful I am from the very bottom of my heart, that thou hast let me in to the sanctuary, though I am not worthy to come beyond the outer court. Forgive me, Mariechen, if I am writing what thou art not in the mood for, but I feel as though with business to talk about, I had fallen to taking thy love as a matter of course: indeed, indeed, it is not so, dear. So I have filled these pages, when what I want to do is just to take thy hands and look into thy eyes and say ‘I love thee, Mary dear, more than words can tell, and I am thankful to thee with my whole heart for the treasure of thy love.’ And I will try hard, dear, that these shall not be empty words, but that I may serve thee faithfully through all the days to come.
Goodnight, my dearest, thy true lover, Frank.
My dearest Love,
How natural it always seems nowadays to begin my letters with dear names for thee that once I used only to imagine—and hardly that! and yet however natural, I never write them without feeling them, dear, to the full—it is lovely to be able to call thee ‘my dearest’ and ‘my sweetheart’—and yet all words are poor and inadequate to tell the thoughts of one’s heart. How naughty and faithless to think that we shall cease to be lovers, my dear: I don’t believe a word of it—and I don’t care two pins what any one says. Why, people who start prosaically like us will grow more loverish, not less, as time goes on. I expect we shall grow quite spoony some day: our visitors will get quite embarrassed—by Jove, it’s rather jolly to picture it, too: and ‘how nice it’ll be when they’ve gone’—to quote Jeanie.
Yes, I think the kitchen would be a very good purpose for Aunt
Car’s money: will it cover a table and dresser too? As regards coming, I should think Monday evening would do all right: I shall get the keys on Monday from Theo. R., and have offered to meet the landlord at the house either on Monday or Tuesday morning. We have an Essay Society tea and games probably on Monday evening—but Tuesday is a very free day.
My dear, Child, if I said it was long since I heard from thee—it was with no faintest thought of complaint—but only of how I love to get thy letters: why, it seems long from one breakfast time to the next—so today has been specially blessed!
Yes, I think it was right to have the clock changed: I shall be sorry indeed if our presents give thee a lot of labour in the future: if they do, I shall sell them or give them away.
Yes, I had got the form of a will, to make out a document for myself upon: but it might be better to have it done more professionally. It will be simple—appointing thee sole executor, and leaving everything to thee. But I think it is equally necessary for thee to,—thou has more money than I have.
We had a most delightful excursion—the day was incomparable, Gormire lake with its circle of hills is one of the most beautiful places in Yorkshire—(I took the address of a farmhouse that lets rooms!)—then there was the walk over the moors, the splendid Rievaulx valley, and so to Helmsley. The wild roses were splendid—though too far out to gather. Last time I was at Rievaulx and Helmsley, was when I chaperoned Agnes and Falkner on an O.S. Excursion!
My room is gradually getting bunged up with presents, wallpaper patterns, and so forth: and I suppose it will get fuller still.
This morning I had my last Latin class with the Upper Senior—and finished revising the Vergil: and tomorrow will be the last of our 6.30 a.m. opportunities—which will be a blessing. Next week they are being examined: we don’t get off much—because we have to preside at the exam.
By the bye—two points about the wedding—the Meeting House—that you will see to of course: then the certificate—shall I get an ordinary one or will there be an adorned or peculiar one? I still hope the reading of it will be at the end: who will have the job? Can he be winked at so as to break up?
I have left to the end the question of coming over tomorrow: and I think it must not be, dear. I’m sorry—but I’ll try and do it later if it may be.
Dearest love from Frank
I have changed my mind and will come at 3.40.
My own Mariechen
I am having a peaceful evening after a busy morning and a fine afternoon’s cricket. An innings of 80 has left me comfortably tired—comfortable that is after three good cups of tea. I wonder if thou wilt ever treat me as Mabel does Hugh, and explain to people that he doesn’t mind in the least what he drinks, or as Bertha does Bowes, and draw the line at two cups, or keep him waiting a quarter of an hour to prevent him drinking much.
I went this morning with Mabel to look at the corner cupboards, and was very pleased with an old mahogany one that would have looked better in our drawing room I think than a dark oak one: but I hear that Hugh is not satisfied with it, and prefers to go into the question more thoroughly: which is like him, but whether to profit I don’t know.
Well, madam, I hope thou art contemplating the future with a resigned spirit. Think what sport it will be to have at any rate one helpless creature at thy beck and call: are not the pleasures of anticipated sovereignty considerable? And then a dagger! Well, I had hoped it would have been nothing worse than a poker or a whip: but a dagger will certainly be quicker. It’s a good thing we’re going to be in separate beds: and perhaps thy suggestion of putting the beds as far away from one another as possible may have its advantages. Thou will hardly take any weapons away on the honeymoon, wilt thou? I wonder if the hotel walls will be thin, as in the famous story—and the curtain lectures will edify the neighbouring sleepers. Goodness me! what things there are to look forward to! I feel like Daniel on the verge of the lion’s den!
Why art thou so anxious to be known as a newly married couple I wonder? I thought it was generally the other way, and then it was revealed accidentally by the wife asking if he took sugar in his tea! No danger of that anyway! Well, I know how proud I shall be of my bride: and I hope she won’t be ashamed of her husband—at any rate not quite at once. I am glad the clothes are done, dear: are they all put on in a different way, and shall I have to learn all the methods? And how many does thou wear in the course of a single day? It will be a perfect kaleidoscope before my astonished eyes! And I am glad the cake is progressing: I don’t generally care about wedding cake much, but when it has come from the hands of my dear mistress it will be different.
Thank thee about Sturge’s raiment: that will be best no doubt—I had not thought of a frock coat, but only of a black one as a possibility.
Well, I think we are rather a curious couple: but perhaps when we’ve been married a while and have grown ten times more in love, we shall get more ordinary. I will bear in mind what thou says about the picture rail—it certainly is much better.
I am so sorry to hear of thy father’s unwellness—any chance of the poem?
I ran off to the house at the end of morning school, but it was too late—the men had cleared out, and I hadn’t got the key. Was thou serious as to coming over again, dear? It is not in the least necessary of course, though no doubt it would be a help, and certainly it would be delicious.
Ah my beloved! I cannot get on without thee: I want the burden of thy precious weight upon my lap: yes, and my sweetheart’s chatter in my ears.
I hope thou art sleeping well, lassie, and wilt have a restful day tomorrow: I hope there is a time coming when dressmakers and dentists cease from troubling, and even brides are at rest.
Dearest love and twenty seven kisses
From thy own Frank.
[one for each day until their wedding day I think!!]
My own Beloved,
Thank thee muchly for thy letter—poor old thing to have to write to me after writing 18. Thou must have been tired.
I was interested in the general knowledge paper—think I could only have answered about half! Some of the questions were very good, but I thought 28 and 30 silly, for things like that seem an unnecessary tax on one’s memory. I hope thou didn’t set those two, or I shall wish I hadn’t said it (or thought it!) Don’t be wrathful and say I’m hypercritical: I enjoyed the rest of it very much!
We’ve had a magnificent day for our party, everyone said they had enjoyed it. They came from 3–6, and we had the Industrial School Band, 30 little boys, who played splendidly nearly the whole time. At first everyone was horribly stiff, but in spite of the heat, I got them started on [?] tether ball, and then we had tea, strawberries and ices, and after that we began games—potato races and ‘widow will I make thee’ (Jacob’s ladder). I believe I played that last at Dunvegan. It was immense fun. Mr Howson and I nearly fell into each other’s arms and everyone roared with laughter. I think only about 100 came. I got heaps of good wishes—if one could live on them, we would be happy indeed!
Father didn’t come till nearly the end, which was a pity. We got the refreshments all done for us which saved a lot of trouble, but still there was plenty to do. People are so kind; it is difficult to think of leaving them all, for it’s so hard to make friends when one grows as old as I am. It’s amusing to feel the different ways of shaking hands.
The police superintendent interviewed me this afternoon, and gave me his best wishes; wondered if 4 officers would be enough for the wedding day, etc. he is not a Novocastrian and it struck me that perhaps I am not dignified enough with such people, for he said to me ‘I am rather free and easy with you, Miss—you must excuse me, but you are so frank with me’—it’s so hard to know where to draw the line—however he was perfectly polite.
...across the High Level bridge. I enjoyed it, for I feel very proud having him on my arm. Lister’s sent 28 opal rings out for me to choose from, instead of the old one, because the opals were always dropping out, and I think I like the new one better, only now that I have thine I don’t want another. But it is very pretty, and simpler I believe.
Father had 2¾ hours with the corporation to-day and is fearfully exhausted, but as usual, he made them listen to him agreeably and they have come to an agreement after wasting between the 2 sides about £14,000. It is too absurd—poor public and poor shareholders. What a waste of money!
I finished with the dentist with a rather bad time this morning. He was thankful also for he said my teeth were so hard to do that it was nearly hopeless, and now I just have to be patient until these last 2 recover. Unfortunately he is afraid they decay quickly and says I ought to go back in 3 months. It is, of course, better not to keep changing one’s dentist, but I’m afraid he is too expensive, though I don’t know how he compares with Glaisby. However I must wait and see, but it will be a pity to let them get bad again, though . . . . .
[Rest of letter missing]
My own sweet Lassie,
Thank thee so much, Mary my own, for thy dear letter—kind and loving far beyond my due—and it was beautiful of thee to sign thyself with the old name that will have such precious memories for thee. I will remember nothing, dearest, of what thou hast said, except the love that thou has blessed me with so richly. How I am longing for thee, dear! I want to feel thy arms around me, and the beating of thy heart, my darling.
By the bye are the shoulders being kept back? I am thinking of drawing up a code of rules or general advices, such as Remember to keep thy shoulders back, Always spend half an hour a day at least on the piano, Don’t use a bolster if thou doesn’t want one, Always wake me up whenever thou can’t get to sleep and wants to talk, Let me have as much tea as I want, Go to Bensham or Paris, or Donegal or Algiers whenever thou wants—and leave me to the tender mercies of Jenny—and so on and so on: these are just a few examples.
I don’t really think there is anybody I had any great desire to ask, dear: I had thought of Julius Firth and his wife, Ernest Rowntree, the Grahams, Baynes, AR and Mrs, and Theodore Neild—none likely to come and no special need in any case. I don’t know what kind of people are asked to these things: only some of the letters thou sent, made me think it was being done more widely than I imagined. Anyway it’s probably too late now.
Thou wilt be able to keep one nightdress case in our room, another in the spare room, and another at Bensham to be ready according as where so ever the spirit moves thee to be: would one of them do for a knapsack?
I think it’ll be much the best for neither of us to wear either hat or gloves: so I hope thou won’t , dear: stick to it! If thou does, I shall wear a hat and gloves: if not, neither: and I think that would be best.
Is the certificate all right? How it can be I don’t know: because I thought we had to decide what words precisely we were going to use—but perhaps that is filled in at the last moment.
No, madam, I don’t suppose I shall be asleep—though I think we shall very likely be pretty sleepy either that night or the next: and my dear child’s restful holiday must include jolly good nights.
My Bible isn’t very small—though not vast: will a small New Testament do, or does thou want the Psalms?
Today the Senior have been away: the rest had two exams this morning,—I did some shopping, and finished correcting the Latin, and interviewed a man from Hunter and Smallpage about moving the things from this room. The whereabouts of the desk is still a problem. Then the afternoon was a half holiday and we had a great match Upper Schoolroom with Brown and me against the Middle and Lower with Linney and Knight. An interval gave the boys a bathe, and us strawberries in the garden.
Mabel tells me the corner cupboard is coming here tonight or tomorrow morning. Another thing I did was to run through some more old letters—there were a lot thou would have been interested in, but they must wait: only I send one thing for thy perusal: did thou drink coffee in those days, my dear?
I wonder if I can get that rack or stand or whatever it is put into the kitchen, or had it better wait for thee? It’s just a resting place for plates etc from which water will drain into the sink, isn’t it? Also that bathroom business, was it made specially for you or can you buy them?
Well, lassie I hope thou art keeping ‘thy courage up to the sticking place’. There is that before us that may well make us feel as though the old life we have known was going to be torn up, and something new and untried entered upon: and in degree it is so, but it will be entered on with the one we know and love, Mary,—it will be full of growing interest and happiness, I am certain.
Look up and let thy nature strike on mine,
Like yonder morning on the blind half world;
Approach and fear not, breathe upon my brows;
In that fine air I tremble, all the past
Melts mist like into this bright hour, and this
Is morn to move, and all the rich to come
Reels, as the golden Autumn woodland’.
The rest I will say to thee on the day, dearest, when thou and I enter, with brave hopes I trust, upon ‘that new world which is the old.’
Beloved, I send thee my best love, and whatsoever kisses thou would like upon the hair and lips and neck that I love.
The true lover, Frank.
My dearest Treasure
First of all to business—as time is short—of course I approve the mats—I had forgotten there were such things. As to bedroom ware, I don’t think I shall venture to do it: but if thou art too busy—as of course thou art—leave it till September.
Hugo is about 14½
As to At Home days, I don’t think there’s anything in it except that it is only Saturday and Wednesday that will allow of my going to see thee, dear: that is, unless our curriculum happened to be changed: but perhaps that doesn’t matter.
I will get some cards myself, thank thee, dear,—probably the year after next.
As to the time of the wedding, why will not 1.45 do? If people can’t manage that, they needn’t.
I’m afraid I shall not be away from York before Saturday: the match may go on till 6 or 6.30 on Friday—and then there is the furniture. I was round the house today, and things are coming out rather nice: the drawing room paper looks well I think—if that is dark, I shall start and learn the English language over again.
There are two bothers: one that Leak and Thorp say the blinds may come to pieces when cleaned—I told them to risk it. The other that the stair carpet and the rods are almost identical in width: I really don’t think there is enough over to hold at any rate—so we shall have to buy some more rods I’m afraid.
The corner cupboard come today and looks very well indeed I think: I hope thou will like it, dear.
I have been spending an awful lot of money lately—I think it must be that I was terror-stricken at thy onslaught upon all untidiness when thou was here.
There are two more exam papers—neither of them good at all—in the Scripture only the last five are mine. I think my mind was too much occupied to set good papers this year. On Sunday I have to question the Upper Schoolroom on the Acts before the Friends: what they want to come for I can’t imagine, but they seem to enjoy it.
This morning I read to the Upper Senior (who are rather on the loose just now) my old lecture on the ‘Self, a study in Psychology’—they listened better than I expected and one of them borrowed my young ‘James’.
Tomorrow morning by the bye come the results of the London Matric—we sent ten in, and I shall be fairly content with five through I think.
My own Beloved, my mood today has been one of utter impatience that there was such a long time to wait before my life was to be crowned with the fullness of our love. Lassie, lassie, it is a terrible long time—I want thee now—here in my arms, that I may tell thee again, my sweetheart, that I love thee with my whole heart, that I may feel the girdle of thy love about me, and have the light of thy dear eyes shining on me. Ah! and may all these thoughts of my heart be the tokens of real love and devoted service in the days to come, to her who has blessed me and is to be my dear, my beloved and reverenced wife!
Mary, dear, have a good night—I should like to tuck thee up, and stroke thy tumbling hair as thou lies in bed, and press my lips (how do I dare to do it?) to thine in a long, long kiss—
Thine in faith and hope and love, Frank.
I hope you had an enjoyable time at the Private Secretary Last night.
I have felt that at a time when I ought to have been specially loving and sympathetic, I failed badly: but indeed I was so miserable at the reception I got, that my heart seemed shut up—which was silly of it, dear, I know. But indeed I was quite stunned: it was so unexpected, dear, and so incomprehensible still. I seem to have made many mistakes—but surely that cannot have been it: if I have sinned in some way, Mary dear, please forgive it. It would have been better if I had gone straight to Whitley, instead of unasked to Bensham: and I nearly came away too when I got there!
One or two points of business: I quite forgot to tell thee that one of the presents—Mr Andrews’s—I had sent by post from York to save myself trouble: I wonder if it has arrived and whether it perplexed thee.
As regards tomorrow, there does not seem very much knowledge here as to arrangements—but as far as I can gather, unless we hear otherwise—wire in the morning or something—we shall be at Monkseaton station at about a quarter to four.
And now, Mary, my dear lassie, I feel as it were as though I was writing thee a sort of last letter—it is the last I suppose of a long series of the literature of our engagement—and one naturally looks back over the series. I feel very conscious, dear, of the many shortcomings of my part in it—lack of openness sometimes, not giving the thought and time I ought to what was after all my chiefest and dearest duty, and sometimes perhaps a tendency to try and score points either by unreasonable argument or by appeals to sympathy. And yet, dear, I do believe that I have told thee something, and that sincerely, of my daily love for thee—and I think we have entered more and more into one another’s hearts and thoughts and interests—and if, through fixed habits of thought and dryness of imagination, I have not always entered into my sweetheart’s thoughts and difficulties as I should—why, I have hopes she will forgive and believe that I shall try and do better in the days of comradeship that are before us.
And as the new life comes upon us, dear, let us join in lifting up our hearts in the desire that we may live always in free and open confidence—in which alone all love and sympathy and knowledge can grow. I feel in all sincerity, Mary, that I shall need to appeal to thy patient love very much—for I cannot learn all at once everything that I should know to be a daily counsellor and companion to a mystery such as woman is: but I will do my best, dear—and I long that thou wilt always tell me all that is in thy mind, whether it be thy own thoughts and opinions, or thy difficulties spiritual and physical, or my own shortcomings—there, dear,—there’s an opportunity for lectures! I wonder if the walls of the Corrie Hotel are fairly thick.
But I look back also on the countless loving letters that my dear girl has blessed me with—often when she was very harassed and busy: I have been grateful, dear, beyond measure, for these—even when I have not showed it. And not least, dear, for some written at times of much trouble of soul, and though perhaps prosaic to say the least, yet showing that thou had not forgotten me, but still turned towards me in some queer sort of way. I wonder why: but indeed the whole thing is wonderful. May I never forget or cease to realize what the step really is that thou art taking, dear. I will not dwell now on the wrench that it must be—but I trust the thought will make me more loving and more full of longing to serve thee and smooth thy path before thee.
All this is very feebly expressed, my darling,—but perhaps it shows a little the thoughts towards thee that are in my heart.
Today I have been doing just as little as possible—‘amusing myself this afternoon’ with—reading the royal Magazine!
Forgive me, dear, for my foolish and selfish thought in wanting thee to come here today—when thou and thy father and mother are to enjoy the Sunday together: it was really gross of me. I do hope you are having a happy and undisturbed time together. Please give this note to thy Mother: there is much I should have liked to say to her—but it was beyond me!
When I came North yesterday, the express almost pulled up in going through Northallerton station, so that I could have a good look at it, and remember even more vividly than ever the wonderous event that happened there!
In looking through my things a few days ago I came upon a lovely Christmas card that I had bought a few years ago, but never dared to send—the words were ‘Here’s my hand and my heart in’.
And so goodnight, Mary my own Beloved,
thy betrothed, Frank.
[Frank and Mary were married on 3 August 1904.]
[Transcript by Katharine S. Coleman, with her permission.]