MSWP (& FEP) diaries
by Mary Spence Watson (1875–1962)
[Includes extracts from a commonplace book, and her holiday journal for 1898. Entries through 1897 are from a selective transcript by Ben Beck, with additional notes, in italics, made by Mary's daughter Caroline, many years later. From 1898 the transcript is complete.]
NB If a name is not listed in the key the person concerned has not yet been identified.
1904 (with FEP)
‘My 21st birthday. I did not go to Jarrow, but stayed at home & had a most delightful day. I got heaps of presents, all lovely & useful. This is a list.
Father & Mother.
" " "
Sisters & brother.
Uncle Theo & Aunt H.
" John & Aunt Marian.
Back-looking glass w. initials on back.
Cousin David & Cousin Kate
Hugh, Edie, Laurie, Gillie & Katie.
Aunt Gertie & Uncle Johnnie.
Uncle John & Aunt Nellie Gurney.
Brooch w. pearls.
Uncle Harry & Aunt Emmie.
Needle, scissor, etc case.
Cat match box.
Aunt Nellie Kuhlmann.
Telegram case & address book.
" " "
Post card case
Aunt Lucy, Joe & Myley.
Uncle Gregory & Aunt Emmie White.’
‘In the evening we had a very nice party indeed. Mother had arranged everything so beautifully, & we had a grand supper, turkey, & rings, buttons & 6d’s or 3d’s in the trifle, which I think Mother made, & Mabel did the creams. These people came: Laurie, Gillie & Katie, Herbie, Gertie & Edgar, Aunt Car, Theresa (Norbert was not well enough to come,) Muriel & her fiancée, Mr Polmon Mooy, Basil, & Esther Clark. They were all so jolly & greatly admired my lovely presents. We played jolly romping games, cat & mouse between 2 rows of people, the whistle game, a sugar game Katie taught us, etc.
‘Gillie was very lively.
‘The next day we all went an excursion to Morpeth & walked to Mitford (all but Arnie who was at York.) Had a delightful day. Rained a little, then cleared up. Snowdrops in Mitford Church yard, lovely. Had tea in Morpeth. Came home pretty early.’
‘Evelyn & I are going a tour together. We had meant to start yesterday, but I was not very well, so we put it off a day.
‘We were met at York by Arnold, which was very nice. E. had gone by an earlier train to see the Mount people.
‘We arrived at London about 6.30. I felt dreadfully tired. We took a bus to Victoria, having brought luggage which we could carry with us, & then went to get some food. Then we had a pretty long, but comfortable journey to Newhaven, where we got on the steamer for Dieppe. . . . It was after 10.30 when we started, & the sea was perfectly smooth, so we reached Dieppe before 3 a.m. not having slept very much. Here we got some very expensive coffee & bread, then went on by train to Paris . . . We reached it rather before 8 a.m. & at once drove, & deposited our luggage in the other Station "Gare du Lyons" from which we would have to depart.’
Saw Arnold en route for London, he was at York, at Bootham.
‘Curiously enough, we met Mr Trevelyan in the Gallery [the Louvre], on his way home from the Continent. He was very nice indeed; I wish we could have met him in Florence. He said if we had been staying longer in Paris he would have taken us round. . . . The French seem very merry, & the porters laugh much at our ineffectual attempts to speak the language. In the refreshment room we asked for water to take some "Valentine’s Meat Tea" & excited much interest, probably partly through giving ½ a franc for the water! The waiters pursued us to the door, trying to make us take some toothpicks!! Evie vanished & left me to shake my head violently & say "Non, non". It really was most amusing.’
A quick tour of the city on the top of a bus, and a hurried visit to the Louvre, where they bumped into Mr Trevelyan and a lady they had met in Norway—Mr T wanted to take them around but they had to catch their train. Mary comments ‘the French seem very merry, and the porters laugh at our ineffectual attempts to speak the language’. On the journey they saw lovely flowers and oxen pulling the ploughs—lovely, Alpine scenery as they drew nearer Italy.
‘As we got into Italy, we noticed the difference between the French & Italian people; the latter very handsome, & courteous, but not so merry as the former.’
Changed trains at Turin and had a short walk at Genoa, where they were enchanted with the place and the bright coloured houses. From Genoa to Pisa ‘the line was exquisite, oranges growing, flowers and vines, high hills.
‘At about 6.15 we arrived at Pisa, & went to the "Washington Hotel", where there is a very nice landlord, & he speaks English which is a great comfort.’
. . . had a good wash and the first proper meal since leaving home!
‘I never felt really well again till we got to Pisa, & I still had rather a cough, but I felt much better than when we left home. Both of us were very tired.’
‘We slept late, & started rather late to see the Cathedral & leaning Tower (Campanile). . . . It was curious going round the top of the tower, at one side we went up a hill, & on the other down it, instead of the top being level, & at the bottom we tried to stand straight against the wall, but could not do it.’
Went to the top of the leaning tower—marvellous view, then to the Cathedral. Inside a swinging lamp said to have suggested to Galileo the idea of the pendulum. Then to see the Campo Santo, the old burial ground for great people. Impressed with the Baptistry and the remarkable echo.
‘ . . . at 4.50 we left for Florence . . . We arrived about 7 o’clock & drove to the Nardini Pension. Piazza S. Giovanni 7. It is a very central position, a few steps only from the Duomo, which our rooms look out on to, but rather noisy . . . We have each a room, opening out from each other—(6½ francs,) at the top of the house.’
Later left for Florence and a pension, a few steps from the Duomo.
‘One of the German gentlemen tries to converse with us by talking in a mixture of French & German, but we find it very difficult. I made him laugh by saying "I was once in Germany, when I was young" as I could not think of the phrase for "some years ago." He laughingly asked "if I was now very old."’
They went to see the sights and in the afternoon called on Miss Baker and her sister and aunt and . . .
. . . ‘we then began a long, weary hunt for Cousin Jennie, as we had stupidly not got their address before leaving home. After going to may pensions & up many stairs, we were leaving in despair to go to the Post Office & telegraph home if necessary for the address, when by good luck, we met Cousin J. Hilda, Olga & Freda going for a walk. We returned with them to their pension & had some aft. tea & saw Cousin Sally, then went a short walk with them, & saw Uncle Joe’s pretty grave in the lovely Protestant Cemetery. It made us feel quite sad. Eliz. B. Browning & A. Hugh Clough are buried there also. We returned with the Sturge’s to dinner, & they brought us back here, after we had spent a delightful evening with them.’
A day of seeing many pictures, gardens etc and meeting more people they knew and continued to meet the Sturges for sight seeing etc.
‘In coming back [from the Church of Santa Maria Novella] we passed the house where Uncle Joe died . . .’
Went to see the Palazzo Vecchio, ‘there is a small chapel where Savonarola received the sacrament before being burned’—account of many pictures etc. Much sightseeing with Hilda and Olga Sturge. Impressed by monks at the monastery ‘who continually cross themselves and gabble prayers’ . . .
‘The monk went to the Altar, & drew a curtain, which revealed a picture of the Virgin, then fell on his knees & gabbled some Latin. Evie & I got a fright, & both began to laugh. It really was dreadful.’
‘Monks interest me greatly. I want to learn more about them—they live such a curious life.’
‘We went to afternoon tea at the Sturges’, who gave us a hearty welcome, & dry clothes, though we were very little wet. Dear Cousin Sally seems rather homesick.’
Another comment ‘men, instead of girls, sell flowers in the streets, and one often sees a basket let down by string from the upper stories of a house in order to receive newspapers etc.’
‘We lunch at about 12.45, & have dinner soon after 7. We get very hungry in between.
‘Photos here are very cheap. 12 for 4 or 5 francs.
‘Men sell flowers in the streets instead of girls, & one
often sees a basket let down
with by string from the upper
stories of a house to the street, in order to receive newspapers, etc.’
‘In the evening Cousins Sally & Jennie, & the girls paid us a very nice visit. They told us some interesting news about the war in Abyssinia, in which the Italian soldiers are suffering dreadfully from drought, & cruelty from the Sultan (?)’
‘We reached Bologna about 6, & drove in an omnibus to the Hotel Fossati.’
‘Venice looked lovely as we approached it. We had written
for rooms, but the porter who
had met us said the hotel Kirsch
was full, & we did not understand him when he said that rooms had been taken for
us in the Hotel D’Angleterre, so we rowed in a gondola to the Hotel Aurora, as
it is cheaper than the latter. There was no room there, as Venice is very full &
the landlady was rude, so we went to the Kirsch, & they told us they had taken
us rooms in the Angleterre. We each got a nice back room, 8 francs, & high up.
It was a long way from the station, & we enjoyed the gondola, but it was a
little bit spoilt by not knowing where to go.’
Left for Venice, seen off by Cousin Sally, all the Sturges etc. Stayed at Bologna on the way, more sightseeing, arrived at Venice, staying at Hotel Angleterre. Many trips in gondolas, one in the evening she comments ‘the Italians who were singing were seated in a boat hung with Chinese lanterns. It was very pretty to see the other gondolas flitting about with their lamps—in the full moonlight Venice looked most exquisite and the motion of the comfortable gondolas is very soothing.’
Went an excursion by boat to Buran0 and Torcello, much enjoyed, and accompanied by a very nice couple brother and sister, called Barrow. Met Lord Ripon on their return who said ‘I’m delighted to have seen you, and only wish we’d seen you sooner as we are going away tomorrow’—very cordial.
‘(While writing this, a game of bowls is going on outside among some officers. I looked out, & by mistake, coughed. Immediately they all looked up, so I promptly retired, & we roared with laughter.)’
‘After dinner we went in a gondola by moonlight for an
hour. It was simply perfect. First we
rode rowed out towards
Maggiore in the full moonlight, seeming as though we were going right out
towards the open sea, then turned & went up the grand canal, the fashionable
part. It was a pretty sight to see the gondolas with their lights, but the songs
spoilt it: they were just like a nigger minstrel’s.’
‘I forgot to say that after buying the photos, not far from our hotel we met Lord Ripon & spoke to him. He was so very nice, & said "I’m delighted to have seen you, & only wish we’d seen you sooner, as we are going away to-morrow." He was very cordial—said Father seemed in bad spirits about the government.
‘The mosquitoes last night were trying.’
‘The Lido is the only place where we have seen horses since we came to Venice—there are horse trams there.’
They saw the Barrows off on May 1st—discovered he is a ‘Rev’ and prepares boys for Harrow in the prep school.
‘Lovely Venice was weeping with all her might when we left with much sorrow this morning. We left the hotel in a covered gondola at ¼ to 8 a.m. . . . We reached Milan after 7.30, & drove to the Hotel Francia, a good long way from the Station in an omnibus.’
Staying at Milan, which they enjoyed.
‘We are greatly astonished at the way in which servants, poor people etc nearly all seem able to speak French, & some of them German, though few speak English. I am ashamed that after having learnt French for so many years, & having been in Germany, I can speak no language but English.’
Met the Barrows again on the journey to Lucerne. ‘The Barrons were going on to Basle; which is a great pity, but they had 1½ hours to wait at Lucerne, so we sent our luggage to the Hotel St. Gothard, close to the Station, & went with them to the Refreshment room to get some tea.’
. . . they received more letters from home ‘several engagements etc but ‘We are very, very sorry to hear of dear Cousin Ellen’s death. I believe she is the last proper Quakeress in Newcastle, & the last who wore the Quaker’s dress, & she was so splendid.’
Lots more sight seeing at Lucerne. Everything very beautiful.
‘Before going into the gardens, which we enjoyed immensely, we did some shopping; bought a cuckoo-clock, etc.’
‘We came back in time to try & get a bathe, but the baths were shut, as it is still cold in Lucerne. Here we met a man, who would call himself a gentleman—the only really unpleasant person we have met since we came abroad. He asked us a few questions—we thought at first he also was seeking for baths—& found out thro’ my stupidity where we were staying. He seemed rather paralytic, & walked queerly. We of course left him, & went off to the Swan Hotel to have tea with Mr & Mrs King, who were very nice, but seemed rather tired & depressed. We returned to the hotel Gothard at 5 o’clock, packed, & I came down to add a little to my journal. Who should be standing in the hall but our objectionable gentleman of the afternoon! I suppose I should not have spoken to him, but I was so taken by surprise that I did, & he said he was sorry he had not invited us to the Schweizerhof to tea to hear the band, (as if we would have dreamt of going,) & that he would come & see us off—said his regiment used to be in Newcastle, etc. I escaped when I could, & told Evie. We were both furious with him, & determined he should not go & see us off; so we fled from the hotel, without saying goodbye to the hotel people properly. He was sitting outside, & I did not dare to look at him, but Evie glared at him. We hurried off to buy some buns, & did not feel happy till we were safely off in the train at 6.45. He did not come to the station, so was evidently effectually snubbed!!’
‘We passed "Lewes" where Mother was at school. It looks a lovely place.
‘As we came into London, shortly before 8 we thought it looked dreadful, such ugly dirty house, & the porters are so rude—not nearly as nice or polite as the foreign ones, or even as our Northumbrian porters. After the soft Italian speech the Cockney dialect is truly terrible.
‘We reached West Dulwich about 9 & had rather a hunt for Miss Cooper’s house. She gave us a warm welcome, & after having some supper we went to bed.’
. . . went to a Picture Exhibition of water colours ‘Turners, Birket Fosters, Burne Jones, Rosetti, etc and some of dear old Venice by Holland.’ Went to a play ‘For the Crown’ and the acting was magnificent. Forbes Robertson the hero and Mrs Patrick Campbell a slave girl, but a very sad play.
‘Got home 8.30. Only Bertha in—Father & Mother came later.’
Back home ‘We’ve had an almost perfect time, and Evie has managed splendidly, but home is home all the world over’. ‘As Father says it has been a very great experience for us, and an education.’
Each "Old Scholars" seems nicer than the last, and especially the latter part of this one has been so delightful, that Bertha and I felt very flat afterwards and determined to write an account of it.
Bertha and I, Gertie and Herbie, Ruth and Jim Corder, (latter not going to York) and Basil got an engaged carriage, and went by the 12.45, arriving at York about half past 2. Then we separated. We were met by Arnold, Mrs Procter, Mr Pollard etc. sent our luggage straight to the Procters, then Bertha, Arnold and I went to the river, to join a large party which Frederick Andrews, and Mr Collinson had got up. We had 4 boats, one large one and some 4 oars. I was put in a 4 oar to steer, and Mr Pollard, Ernest Merz, Frank Lean and ----- Priestman rowed. The other boats contained Bertha, Arnold, Mr C., Mr Andrews, Margaret Andrews, Mr Gower, Ethelwyn Pumphrey and some others, most of whom I did not know. We went to Poppleton, landed there and had a game of rounders, in which I broke the cricket bat. It must have been decidedly rotten.
Then for a short time it rained, but we did not get wet as we were having tea in the summer house. Very grateful we were for the huge thick pieces of bread and jam etc.! The evening was lovely and we were very sorry to return home. I steered very badly, straight into another boat, and Mr Andrews called out "There’s Miss Spence Watson sitting as cool as a judge, and trying to execute everybody." He also said he was glad I came of a good Quaker Stock, because I showed no agitation". (However, I felt decidedly agitated.)
We got back in time for the Mount Meeting at 7.30. Arnold walked up with us. We met Mabel there. It was the first time I had seen her since her marriage. Everybody was very nice. I only just saw Miss Bayes, and said a few words to her. The Meeting was very long, lasted till after 10. Some of the girls’ reports were very good, but to us the nicest part was when Miss Fanny Thompson announced that the Old Scholars had decided to give Mabel a present of a linen chest. It was the very thing she most wanted. We saw the design which is very pretty, the arms of York above, and the pattern of folding linen below. It is to be made from the old oak taken out of St. Nicholas when the belfry was repaired. There was a lengthy discussion about the Scholarship, which had finally to be deferred till Monday afternoon. I was so hungry that I rushed into the dining room to get some sandwiches, then we drove back to Mrs Procters, May and Hugh who had come up to the Mount, walking. The Procters gave us a warm welcome and after supper we soon went to bed.
Mr and Mrs Thorpe, Walter Dymond, Percy and Herbie, May and Hugh, Bertha and I all stayed at the Procters. Basil was in lodgings, but came in to meals.
(P.S. The O.S. present to Mabel was particularly appropriate, as this is her birthday)
A lovely day. We all went to Meeting, which was very long, but nice. John Rowntree spoke beautifully. Basil, Phyllis, Ber and I meant to sit together, but went to the wrong form, and had to be turned out, much to Lewis and Ernest’s amusement, as they were watching us.
There were 22 or 23 of us at the Procters to dinner, Lewis, Ernest, Arnold, Phyllis, and Dolly Thorpe all came too. In the afternoon Percy, Lewis, Arnold, Ernest, Bertha and I had great fun lying on the grass. Percy is so jolly. At about 4 Percy, Bertha, Herbie Corder and I went to the Thompsons’ to tea across Knaves Mire, Arnold and Ernest walking there with us. There were not many people there that I knew. After tea Bertha, Agnes Thompson and I walked and talked together—Agnes and I discussing old times—our S.S.P.I. Society, etc. We walked with her down to Meeting, and she gave us a great account of her doings abroad, and the fun she has at the Liverpool College etc. She asked me to go and stay there. She has grown very pretty and has lovely eyes.
I asked Mr Fryer a favour, which to everyone’s (except my own!!) surprise he granted, namely that after the Reading Arnold and Ernest might come out with us to see Hugh off at the Station. Poor Hugh! He has not had much of O.S. Frederick Andrews took the Reading, which I should have been very sorry to miss. It was most interesting, chiefly about Friends’ views, especially about baptism. We were too late to see Hugh off, but met Mabel. We went up to the Mount, while she paid a call, and walked about in the garden till Arnold and Ernest had to go back to Bootham. Soon afterwards the girls came back from meeting and Miss Waite and I walked about together. She was so nice. Then we went into Reading in the lecture room. Gertrude Brooks and her sister appeared in great style, but Gertie is always very cordial to me. We all sang "The King of Love my Shepherd is", and Louie Knight and Ethel Barringer read very nicely. It was most amusing to watch the girls bow, as they went out, to Miss Harrison. There were a good many old scholars, and we had supper in the dining room with the teachers. I sat between Miss Waite and Miss Wood. It was such fun. There was delicious lobster salad, and a marvellous birds’ nest pudding, which I thought was spinach and eggs, but was really sponge cake covered with green pistachio nuts, and eggs inside made of blanc-mange. There were lots of delicious things. After supper, Bertha went round the bedrooms, as she knows most of the girls. Mabel and I went to No. 3 to see Phyllis, Milly Procter and Dolly Thorpe. When we came out, a girl in a nightgown rushed to the door of No. 4, and called out piteously "Please won’t you come and see us. We’ve had no-one here." Of course we went in, though we did not know them. They introduced each other, and I remember one girl was called Connie Lilly, and there was a Peplar I think. I believe they expected us to kiss them all round—one of them said as much to me—but I was far too shy, and Mabel never thought of it till I told her afterwards. It was amusing. They are such jolly girls at the Mount. Then we were dragged into No. 2, where Marian Mennell is, so I told them stories of Chrissie Mennell and Becca. We also looked into No. 13, but it has no curtains now, and is not nearly as pretty as when we slept in it. Then May, Ber and I walked back to the Procters.
A lovely day. First we drove to the Mount to see the gym. Father, Mother and Evie came for the day, at least Evie stayed till Tuesday. I did not think the gym quite as good as usual, but the girls had very pretty dresses, with white sleeves, and white at the top. Isabel Yewdall, Nellie Moulton, Mother, Bertha and I walked down to Bootham together. Here we met the usual "Monday" cousins, and others, Charles, and Norbert, etc.
After watching the cricket for a short time, and having some refreshments, Lewis took me into the school to see the exhibition, some parts of which were very good. There were splendid drawings of a lion’s and a donkey’s head, but the sketches from nature were peculiar—good maps etc. The diaries were interesting, and Lewis and Ernest both obtained prizes for their "moths".
When we returned to the cricket field the cricket was nearly over. Old Scholars won. Bertha and I stayed to Bootham to dinner. I had never stayed before, and we had great fun. A lot of us, Charles, Teddy, Ernest etc. went up to "Heaven", i.e. the roof before dinner. Then Mr Collinson took me to the drawing room and solemnly left me there among a lot of people. He has been much quieter this time—in fact he has hardly spoken to me, which is quite disappointing.
Presently the bell went, and Lewis and I got separated from the others, and sat by Miss Woodhead at a small table with Harry and Marian Mennell and one or 2 others. It was very nice. Harry was at Bootham when I was at the Mount, and we once had fun together on Malcolm Spence’s little steam launch.
After dinner (Mr C. asked me if I had had enough!) I thanked Mr Andrews for Saturday’s excursion, then we went with Gertie to her lodgings and up to the Mount. Bertha and I changed our dresses in Miss Waite’s room. I enjoyed the afternoon immensely. I did not see much of Arnold, for he was with mother, but Lewis was simply sweet, and stuck by me the whole time. I had a nice talk with John Fryer about Italy. The tennis was good and the O.S. won. Claus had a short walk with me, but I made Lewis stick with us to prevent him from being silly. Mr. Collinson got me some coffee and was really very nice. He umpired part of the time. He is much more sensible than he used to be, and jolly.
Gertie and I endeavoured to make peace, so to speak, with Malcolm Naish by bowing (we had cut him by mistake), but he now cut us dead.
Claus asked me to walk down with him, but I went with Lewis, who is most amusing, and sweet. Mr. Collinson was on duty and could not go to the tea.
I had a short conversation with Harry Mennell in the afternoon, who was amused because Father had told him that he and Basil had stayed too long in the Baths. He said he must be a prophet.
Tea was great fun. Our usual party got the upstairs room. I sat between Lewis and May Sturge. Percy was great fun. He would teaze me by saying he was going to take me to the Hawser Shop and watch me eat a hawser and drink a bottle of ginger beer etc.
In the meeting I sat by Ruth Corder and May Sturge. Father’s songs were very badly sung, which was most disappointing. Father took the chair with his usual grace, John Stevenson Rowntree gave a very nice address. Arnold Rowntree spoke amusingly, but most of the speeches were not very funny, and Vipont Brown was missed.
Auld Lang Syne was sung at the end, which a small Bootham boy—Geoffrey Morland—played very nicely. I believe he is very musical. Afterwards Gertie and I arranged with Mr Collinson to go the long walk. He could not come in the morning, but hoped to meet us in the afternoon. As May Sturge had asked me to supper at the Station Hotel, he said he would walk down with me, but of course I had to go with her, and Bertha and Ruth Corder came too. It was rather fun, but the supper was rather muddly. Roger Clark, Charlie Sturge and Jim Corder were there too. At another table were Charles, Norbert, Claus, Yeomans, Teddy and I think Malcolm Naish, and Charles would keep smiling across at us. May and Roger told us some funny stories. Charlie Sturge saw Ruth home, and May and Roger came with us. We did not get to the Procters till after 11. They had forgotten about us, and locked the door, but had not gone to bed, and said it didn’t matter a bit. We were very tired.
As usual all this time I have had a slight cold, but nothing much. I nearly always do have one at O.S.
A fine day, but rather doubtful. Had an amusing time packing our lunch, especially watching Basil struggling over his!
Drove to the Station very early. Train went soon after 9.30. Poor Evie lost her purse and was in a great state. (It turned up afterwards under the mattress of the bed next to hers!!) Oliver Morland and others who could not go were there to see us off. We were packed in the Saloon. I sat next Gertie and Isabel—great fun playing "Up Jenkins", "Old Maid" etc. Malcolmson, Harry Mennell, Percy, Evie, Procters, etc were near us and Mr Pollard. They got rather rowdy. We had lots of goodies and chocolates. We went past Scarborough to Staintondale, where the most energetic of the party got out to walk over the moors. The rest preferring a walk by the sea. We were:- Percy, Evie, Roger Clark, Gertie, Bertha, Neave, Gerald Brown, Fred Fryer, Malcolmson, Francis Impey, Basil and Mr Pollard, Thompson Clothier, Isabel, John and Con, Ruth Corder, Ernest Morland, Harry Mennell, Wilfrid Crosland, Edward Mennell and myself. I think these were nearly all; not very many ladies; it was much nicer being a "select" party. Arnold Rowntree came part way to set us on the right road.
At Staintondale Evie went to do her hair, and somehow Harry Mennell and I got separated from the others and walked together to the Falcon Inn. At first I felt rather shy, but soon recovered. Here we had lunch, and soda water, and most peculiar milk, and thankful I was for it. Then we got right on to the moors, which were golden with gorse. We had great fun all the way fighting with plantains. Most of the day I walked with Harry Mennell and Isabel, but I had a nice talk about St. Moritz and tobogganing with Thompson Clothier. At the top of the moors, not having Arnold Rowntree to guide us, we got rather wrong, and went a longer way than was intended, this making the walk about 14 miles. I’m not sure if we ever saw the "Bloody Beck" or "Sanguinary River" as Percy calls it at all. They pretended part of the time that I had led them wrong as I was walking in front. We all had a grand run down a steep hill, Thompson Clothier nearly dragging me off my legs, and a charming looking boy called Wilfrid Crosland, carrying all the sticks, umbrellas and hats, with a girl’s hat on the top of his head. I longed for a Kodak. I thought my hat was lost, and T. Clothier began to go back for it, but E. Morland had got it on in front. It began to be very dull. Crosland, Basil and Ed Mennell stayed behind and had a bathe, and we went on and rested. Percy, Evie and John Wilhelm R. told amusing stories. After a time Evie and I stayed behind, and had a nice quick bathe in a shallow pool. Soon after it began to drizzle. Some of the others went on in front and got tea and had swings at a place called, I think, Hackness, and Ernest Morland kindly ran back to tell us if we hurried we could have some. So we had a hasty cup, and then hurried on to get the train at Scalby, through a pretty part, rather like private grounds. E. Morland, Harry M, and Isabel and I were together and the 2 former sang to make it easier to walk, but it was hard work keeping up with Morland’s long strides. It drizzled so heavily that my blouse got quite soaked. At last we had simply to tear for the train; Harry dragged me along, Malcolmson dragged Ber, and nearly all of us were dragged by someone. I got a pain, and felt quite miserable when at last we reached Scalby and found the train waiting for us. We were an amusing sight, described afterwards by Percy in his speech after tea, as "scarlet-runners". We recovered a little before we reached Scarborough. Here was Mr Collinson. He had been the long walk, but of course with hardly a chance of meeting us, so we did not see him till we got to the Scarborough Station. We walked to the Grand Hotel, tidied, which was most refreshing, then had tea in the huge room, very kindly given to us by the Scarborough Friends. I sat between Mr Collinson, and Harry Mennell, near Ber and Evie, and Gertie etc. There were some good speeches afterwards by Percy and Arnold Rowntree, etc; then we looked at the sea till it was time to go. Poor Mr C. had lost his camera. I walked to the Station with Mr C. and Mr Pollard and Isabel. There was a great squash in our carriage. I sat by Percy, (H.M. on the table near), with Isabel on my knee. There were some very jolly songs—Louisiana Lou, Here’s to Mary, here’s to the Lamb, My old Dutch from Ernest Morland, Wash me, mother, and Peter Piper from Mr. Collinson, Philadelphia, etc, etc. Of course we ended up with "Auld Lang Syne", and even "Happy we’ve been a’ together", and had a collection for the guard. Really as we said goodbye to each other on the York platform we felt quite sad. Mr C was very nice, and asked Ber and me to go up and see the drill at Bootham next day. Evie, Basil, Edgar, etc, went home that night. Ber and I drove up with the Procters, and went to bed as soon after supper as possible.
Soon after breakfast Bertha and I said goodbye to Mr Procter, and drove with Percy, etc to the end of Scarcroft; then walked up to the Mount for a last visit. We both walked into Miss Waite’s German class, with great fear and trembling, ushered in by Miss Greener. Miss Waite had said we might. It was quite a small class, in the 1st class room. One of the girls lent me her book, and when we were settled, Miss Waite turned to me "Mary, would you like to go on reading now." Of course I blushed, said "No thank you Miss Waite" and everyone giggled. It was great fun to be in a lesson again. I longed to be back at school. Then we had lunch at the teacher’s end in the dining room, and I was teased about my large appetite when at school. Then Miss Waite, Ethelwyn Pumphrey and I walked down to Meeting, and Bertha with Miss Sturge. I sat by Miss Waite, and felt much ashamed of my dress as it was fearfully crushed.
After Meeting we said goodbye to Mrs Procter, told Mr C. we would come up to the drill as Ethelwyn was going also; then I saw Harry Mennell, looking quite grand in a top hat. He came up, and asked if we had still determined to go on the river, and I said "yes". He hinted very broadly that he wanted to come, so at last I asked him, and told him to bring his sister from the Mount. Then Arnold, Ernest, Lewis, Bertha and I, as the boys had not to be in school till 12, went to the Minster, and got the old man to take us up the bell tower, to see the bell struck. It is too big to ring. We stood underneath the bell while he struck it, and it made a tremendous noise. The boys then tore off to school, Bertha and I following leisurely. Miss Woodhead showed us the way to the gym. I felt rather nervous, as Mr C. had altered a lesson, so as to show us this drill. Ethelwyn and Neave were both watching, and Harry Mennell appeared in the middle. It really was very pretty to watch—all to music which Mr C. played. Some of the boys worked very well. It was mostly dumb-bell exercises.
Then we thanked Mr C, said goodbye to him rather unsatisfactorily, and went into the garden, i.e. Ethelwyn, Harry, Bertha and I. We could not get rid of H. so at last I said we were going to see Miss Pumphrey off at the station, but he calmly walked there with us. I really felt very cross. There, however, he left us. He asked us up to Miss Williams to dinner, but of course we could not go.
I chaperoned a party up the river in the afternoon. We had one boat and I think 3 canoes—I felt much afraid of the Boothamites or Mountites upsetting! There were Harry and Marion Mennell, Bertha, Lewis, Arnold, Ernest and myself. We had a lovely time, eating chocolates, and changing from the canoes to the boat. We had tea together in a shop and went to the Museum Gardens and played "Simon says thumbs up", etc. Bertha and I got a train home about 6.0 I think, and we felt extremely flat for several days afterwards.
Soon afterwards I paid my first visit to Sedbergh. We went some glorious excursions and I enjoyed it hugely.
‘Mother, Arnold, the 2 maids, (Martha & Sarah) & I started at 3.5 for Stranraer—also "Tommy." Father followed later. . . . we were v. late getting to Larne, & though the sea was quite smooth I was sick, owing to the shakey train. . . . We had meant to go on to Belfast, but were too tired, & Mother managed to secure the last 2 rooms in the v. nice hotel close to the station, but she & I & the 2 maids had all to sleep in one room.’
. . . 2 hour crossing.
‘Then to station, & met Father arriving from the steamer, greatly surprised to see us. Went on with him to Londonderry . . . Reached Londonderry about 2.30; Evie & Bertha met us, having come from Glasgow direct. Went across river to "Imperial Hotel" . . . Rather a rough kind of hotel for a town, but comfortable. The maids are enjoying the journey, & bought several things in Londonderry.’ E, B, and A left on their bicycles for Letterkenny and Gackie to join them later, Tommy went too. Mary comments ‘they looked so nice Tommy following in great excitement. He has been so good on the journey, never barked and been no trouble. Poor thing he was so frightened on the steamer, so we put him in charge of the cook!’ Explored Londonderry ‘met many bonny merry barefooted children’.
‘Arrived Glenties about 2.0, & had a jolly 6 miles drive in a trap to Andara. Here the village was crowded owing to a fair. Went into inn, & had milk & eggs, then came to the house we have taken, in centre of the village, just opposite inn. Arranged rooms, etc. Martha seemed discouraged at sight of the kitchen, but soon recovered.’ Very nice large house, dining room, 2 sitting rooms, 7 bedrooms . . .
‘Wrote letters, then went a short walk, then to Prot. Church. I wanted to go to R.C. to hear the sermon in Irish, but we were too late. Not at all nice. Mother got quite furious over the sermon, as it was agst dissenters.’
In the next days much walking, sketching, fishing, bathing, looking at the caves, going in Irish ‘cars’ with horses going like the wind’.
‘At 12.30 Mother & I drove in car to meet Ruth at Glenties. . . . We had dinner, & soon after Ber & Arnie appeared, having ridden from Dunglow on their bicycles. Evie & Father arrived, driving, about 6. It is so jolly to be together again, but we do miss Mabel.’
‘In aft. Hugh & Mabel arrived to our great joy.’
‘Reading & hymns in house, then Ber & I went to the R.C. Church; it was full of peasants, lots kneeling on the floor, & part of a letter from the Pope was read. I believe some of it was in Irish, but it might have been in Greek for all I could tell.’
‘B. & I had a great washing of various things, then she gave me another bicycle lesson, & I got on quite well. In aft. another bicycle lesson . . .’
. . . ‘B. lent me her bicycle. For some way I got on nicely, then got nervous partly because Tommy seemed to get rather in the way, & partly because a steep hill came, it it wld not stop, so I jumped off at the wrong time, fell, & twisted the bicycle handles. However Arnold put them all right, but I was in a fearful state in case I had spoiled it. There are such a lot of hills here, & with sharp curves in the middle. There was also a great wind blowing at the time.’
‘In evening dear Aunt Car arrived.’
‘An old woman who cld hardly speak a word of English gave us a taste of seaweed. It was horrid. Father sang & repeated beautifully all the way home.’
Went to Carrick and a long expedition. Mother [i.e. Mary] walked 22 miles.
On getting home, ‘We 3 girls & Aunt Car all slept in one room, with Tommy under the bed, & had a quiet night, w. no cackling geese or barking dogs to disturb us.’
‘Last week I walked 90 miles or a little more.’
‘Had Reading and Father spoke most beautifully, but it made us all feel very sad!’
‘Packed. Sketched. Picked blackberries, etc.’
Came home in cab w. J.M. & Mother. I said 'It's awfully nice to see you again Mr. Morley, it's such ages since we've seen you.' He took hold of my hand & said 'Thank you my dear thank you.' He took hold again when I asked him if he wodl pass thro' N/C on his way to Montrose. Outside the door he put his hand on my shoulder & said Oh how nice this is. Why did I ever think of going to the Station Hotel. It always makes me feel good to come here."
"As a parting request" he asked that I might go by the later train to Jarrow in the morning.
Uncle John Spence sent me an invitation to go to the Rocket practice, so I got Theresa to go too, and we took "Tommy" also. It began at 3 p.m. and punctually the brigade came out, dressed in uniform, Uncle John last as he is Captain. He did look so nice. The rocket was fired from the Spanish battery to the pier, at Tynemouth. All the fixing of the apparatus, and the proceedings generally, were most interesting. Then a man came across from the pier in the breeches buoy with his legs dangling down, and looking most extraordinary. With rather fear, I asked if I might go across, and amid much laughter from the spectators, squashed myself into the breeches buoy sitting like a Turk. Once off the feeling was most delightful, and I went across to the pier and back again. Once or twice I got very near the water. The muddy water from the ropes dripped over my face and clothes, and I arrived back again looking dreadful I expect. Uncle John introduced me to Major -----, and then I ran off to get dry in the house where shipwrecked people are sheltered. Tommy was much excited and pleased to see me back again. The brigade men all came in to the house to answer to their names, and Uncle John introduced us to several. They seemed to think I was very plucky, which is quite a mistake, as it was a most simple thing to do. We saw over the house which was very interesting, berths for shipwrecked sailors, baths, etc etc, and then went to North Shields to have tea at Chirton. Here we saw more interesting things. Uncle John is a really wonderful old man, so energetic and delightful. Tommy was both fascinated by and terrified of the alligator, and stood and barked at it getting nearer and nearer, till it opened its jaws with a snap, when he promptly retired, but began to approach it again.
Both Theresa and I much enjoyed ourselves, and it was so nice having her with me.
We have just had a most delightful visit from the Great Explorer, Dr Nansen and his wife. They are on a lecturing tour in England and arrived here on Friday, Feb 19th at 5.15. There was a large crowd in the Central, and a small one outside our house, which cheered them, and I watched out of the little room window, and saw Dr Nansen take his hat off in the graceful Norwegian fashion. It was really most exciting and quite touching meeting them. Mother almost broke down. We had dinner, after dressing, and then I went in by train to the lecture, which began at 7.30, in the Town Hall, and was simply splendid. The views are magnificent, and seem to bring the Arctic regions before one. I had never realized at all before what they must really be like. Afterwards there was a reception, but I did not go to it. I might mention that the Lord Chief Justice of England (Russell) spoke very nicely in offering the vote of thanks. We did not sit up long after supper, as the Nansens were very tired.
All came down very late to breakfast, in fact Father had gone to business before the Nansens appeared. I had a nice talk with Mrs Nansen, who is very easy to get on with. I am a little bit afraid of Dr Nansen, and he seems to dislike talking of his experiences, and I expect it is no wonder, for everyone asked the same questions. Their little daughter, Liv, is only 4 and snow-shoes beautifully. She began to learn when only 3. She does not like music, and begs Mrs Nansen not to sing sometimes.
Lionel (Nansen’s private Sec.) and Mr Christy, (his lecture agent in London) came to lunch, then they and Nansen went off to the latter’s lecture in South Shields. Mother, Mrs Nansen and I went a drive through the Ravensworth grounds. It was a lovely warm day, but very windy. When Father came in we had afternoon tea, then at 5.30 I went to Bensham station to meet Evie who was coming home over Sunday. At 7.30 we had dinner to which Lionel, Aunt Hope, Aunt Car and Uncle Theo came. Afterwards Mrs Nansen sang some German songs, and one Grieg simply exquisitely. It was unfortunate that we could find no other Griegs, but expect Ruth has got them away with her. Then I had to play my pipes, and Nansen and Mrs Nansen both tried, amidst much laughter. The strap would not meet round Nansen, so we tied it with string, and he thought it would be quite easy, but he could not do it at all!!
None of us went out. Uncle John and George came to breakfast, and were very nice. There was some interesting talk between Nansen and Uncle John about the building of the "Fram", and also about fir and pine trees. In the afternoon Uncle Johnnie and Eva came down. To tea came Percy, Nelly, Walter, Mr Mundahl, Cousin Charlie and Gilbert, all of whom had been asked, but Miss Vickers and Miss Laing also came. I had made a chocolate cake, and Martha had made a paper ship, which we iced, and stuck on the cake, with a Norwegian flag on, and lumps of icing round about. I also made an iced rice cake. Mother bought some tiny china bears, and I iced them so that they looked like polar bears, and stuck them round, with Evie’s model of Nansen on snow-shoes in the middle.
Miss Vickers and Miss Laing went soon after tea, but the others stayed to supper. Mrs Nansen again sang most beautifully, and she plays her own accompaniments so well; one or two she sings from memory. She sang "Jeg elsker dig", Grieg’s "Got Morgan", a simply delicious song, "Wo bist du", and after much persuasion from Nansen "A fond kiss". She sings with a very great deal of expression, and the last was full of pathos. Nansen says "Mit deinem blauen Augen" was the song she caught him with. They seem simply devoted to each other. Nansen says he wore the helmet Mabel made him, on his journey over the ice with Johannsen. It is nice to think of.
We had reading pretty early, and went to bed directly afterwards. Mrs Nansen kissed me. She is charming, so is he.
Feb 22nd Monday
Evie had to go in by the 8.45, and I went down to Bensham to see her off. It has been lovely having her at home. Nansens sat in the library all the morning, and of course Lionel came. He says Father was one of the first Nansen sent his book to, and he only sent about 50 copies altogether I think. Lionel told us some funny stories. Nansen always wears a charming squash hat, and the butler at Sir Geo. Baden Powell’s (with whom Lionel became friends) remarked "I think he might have managed to bring a silk hat to London, anyhow." Nansen is pestered for autographs. One lady wrote "Don’t let this letter fall into the hands of a cruel secretary". Lionel answered it, and signed himself "Cruel Secretary". After lunch, Lionel and I drove in with the luggage and the precious slides, the Nansens and Mother following later. They went by the 2.35 train to Middlesborough. Father came also to see them off. There were a good many people, among others Nelly, Olive, and Maud Armstrong. They cheered, as the train steamed away. We certainly have been most fortunate in securing Nansen and Mrs Nansen to stay with us, for they are lionised everywhere, and all the great people send them invitations.
Nansen’s second visit to us in 1897 (He has been once or twice before, but came in Feb. and again in March this year as well.)
Of course the first visit was the most exciting, but both Nansen and his wife were as charming as ever the second time. On Saturday night he lectured at Sunderland. We had the Richardsons (Uncle Harry etc) to dinner, and Mr and Mrs Dendy. Mrs Nansen had a cold and could not sing. On Sunday George and Dora rode over to breakfast. The Nansens came down very late. A Parisien came all the way from Paris to take their photograph, which was done outside the front door. It is very successful. He also took one of Dr Nansen, Mrs N, Father, Mother, George, Dora, me and "Tommy" as a memento, which is also good.
Some amusing discussion between Mother and Nansen about Bergen. She said we used always to stay at the Scandinavia Hotel. "Oh! A very poor place that!." Then she said we knew Dr Stabel, Mr Martin and Mr Hopstack. "They are the three most stupid men in Bergen (or Norway?) but the first is not quite so stupid and is the nicest."! Esther came to dinner, and stayed night. Father, Mother and I went to the lecture in the evening at the Tyne Theatre, which we again much enjoyed. Laurie went with us. A lot of people came to tea.
Nansen teased much about "Tommy", called him "Tommy rot" and then apologized. He had to admit that he was a good jumper, though. On Monday Walter Corder came to photograph Nansen, which he did at Mother’s desk (Mary Queen of Scots) in the dining room. It is really a splendid photo. Nansen developed all his photos on board, and took prints on the sledge journey, in case the Fram should be lost. He has such an amount of forethought. One photo he took of the moon, and did not know how long to expose it, but gave it 3 hours. Meanwhile the moon moved onwards, and one can see in the photo in his book how he has blotted the mark out with his finger. I got his and Mrs Nansen’s name in my birthday book. The Percy Cycle Company brought out a beautiful bicycle which they are going to give to him (a good advertisement!) to show him, and photographed his standing beside the machine. They photographed Mother, Mrs N and me with him and the bicycle also, but these photos we have not yet received.
I think the Nansens left us about 12 o’clock. We have certainly enjoyed their visits enormously, and they said they hoped we would sometime go and see them in Norway. It would be nice.
4 or 5 years ago (it is now 1898), Bourtzev, a young Russian, was sent to Bulgaria to help to put the army in order. The Russians were soon suspicious of him, and recalled him, but he refused to go. Was a great friend of the Prince of Circassia; they did botany together, and had a set of private signs, so that everyone would not know their discoveries. The Prince went to Constantinople, and one day Bourtzev got a telegram saying he was ill, and B. must go to him at once. B. was suspicious and did not go, but another telegram came, and still he would not go. Then a third came written in the private signs of the friends (which the police had discovered) and this time of course he went. At the station at Constantinople he saw the Russian police, knew he had been led into a trap, so quietly submitted, and therefore they omitted to handcuff him. He watched his chance, managed to escape down to the quay, got English sailors to take him to their ship, begged a captain not to give him up. Captain took him to his cabin. Russian officers boarded the ship, and Captain would not let them go below, but very slowly and carefully got up steam, till they were out of reach of a man-or-war; then began to go quickly.
Officers now noticed and were alarmed, and begged to be put off. Captain said no, they were on the way to England, and he could not stop. Eventually he slowed and let them go. Then he brought Bourtzev to England where he still is, and he has just been arrested in London. (1897)
The Russians in Constantinople had at once telegraphed to Father about his arrest there, and he at once wired back to Captain telling him not to give B. up, and the English would stand by him. This he wired on his own authority, for there was no time to communicate with the government, but directly afterwards he wired to Sir James Ferguson (Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs.)
The Captain was afterwards given a gold watch.
The Circassian Prince had been arrested and sent to Siberia, (where he still is) for nothing, no reason, except that the Russians wanted to get his papers and find out the private signs; then they wired to Bourtzev that if he wished to see him (the Prince) alive, he must come at once. He did so, and was arrested.
Now 1897 he has been arrested in London for plotting against the life of the Czar. It may or may not be true, but if true, surely it is no wonder?
Mary went to O.S. and so did Arnold for his first time, and she was so glad she had gone as they had a ‘very, very jolly time’. They went on the river with ‘F.E.Pollard and 2 other boys.’
At this time Molly was born (named Mary, but called Molly to avoid confusion)—Ernest Weiss and Evie not yet engaged, but staying at Bensham. Mary and Arnold had a very happy time together studying Constitutional History, playing tennis etc and even jumping off the swing!
Evie and Ernest then got engaged.
Mary prepares for yachting trip, buying yachting cap, sailor blouse etc.
This was the first summer all did not go to Norway. Mabel, Hugh and Molly at Stocksfield, Ruth visiting, Mary on the yacht, the rest in Norway. Later Mary and Arnold developed her photos in the darkened bathroom and Mary sang ‘Griffin’ songs, Eton Boating Song, Mandalay, My Old Dutch etc. They got on so well.
Bertha back to Swanely Horticultural College.
Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Day (June 21st) they spent at Bamburgh with the Hodgkins and later in the train saw all the bonfires—Mary got tired rushing backwards and forwards from side to side of the carriage!
Nov 17th The beginning of Arnold’s illness. He kept having bad colds and these seem to have weakened him, especially playing for the First Eleven Dalton Hall football team.
Nov 19th After breakfast (F.E. Pollard at the top of the table) he did his work as usual but later became really ill, pneumonia, and was put in the sanatorium. Mary speaks so highly of the care the Grahams gave to him.
He got progressively worse and was looked after altogether by 19 people, including nurses and students.
Mary went to York to Mabel’s and Gackie to Manchester, and letters and telegrams were sent perpetually. Arnold delirious and often unconscious. All this time they were helped by many relatives and friends.
Eventually all the family went to Manchester, Evie having decided it was essential, and Bertha from Swanley.
All slept at the college to be near Arnold. A terrible time for all. Arnold given morphia, and champagne (from Mr Brockbank) when awake. The crisis passed but he remained desperately ill and on Nov 27th they abandoned hope and later he died.
Gackie broke down.
Later they sorted his things and found a piece of paper ‘I am not going to smoke when I go to Cambridge’.
Some students carried his coffin to the train. All the servants were weeping. All went back to Newcastle and on Nov 30th Arnold was buried at the Jesmond Cemetery and a Meeting at the Meeting House afterwards. Gackie spoke with great difficulty ending ‘The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away, Blessed be the name of the Lord.’
A year later an exquisite wreath was sent from Dalton Hall.
Father, Mother, Bertha and I left home by the 3.0 train, being seen off by Mildred and Edith White, Theresa and Ernest, Mr and Mrs Dendy and Cousin Charlie. Father and Mother badly needed a rest, but we all felt very sad, through leaving Ruth behind at Ilkley, ill, and it seemed so different from our usual summer holidays. There are so few of us left to go away together now, and there is one blank which can never in any way be filled.
We had a rather tiring journey to London, and Mother was quite knocked up by it, and had a very bad night.
We met Uncle Theo next morning at breakfast. (Great Northern Hotel) Managed to start at 9.0 and drove to London Bridge where we got train to Newhaven. The sea was as smooth as glass, and it was hot on board, so we all went to sleep in deck chairs. Enjoyed the passage very much. Arrived Dieppe about 3.0—made tea with the tea-basket and bought fruit. Then began a lovely, but frightfully hot journey to Paris—happily we travelled 1st class and had a carriage to ourselves—arrived about 7.0 in a melting condition and perfectly black—wearisome wait for the custom house officers, who examined none of our boxes. Then we drove to the Hotel St. James & Albany, 202 Rue de Rivoli, and went to bed directly after supper. The heat was very great.
A scorching day. After breakfast we went to the Louvre, not attempting to see it all, but to see the Venus of Milo, La Belle Jardinière, some of Leonardo da Vinci (portrait of Mona Lisa), Raphael, Titian, etc. I liked the latter’s girl with the mirror. We also saw the model of the wonderful Assyrian Palace, parts of which were lately discovered at Susé, I think. We had lunch of pears, lemonade, ices and biscuits, which somehow reached the exorbitant price of about 12 francs; then went to see the Sainte Chapelle where there is much wonderful stained glass. We returned to the hotel, and Father, Mother and I undressed and went to sleep, as the heat was so dreadful. Then we made some tea and went for a lovely drive along the Champs-Elysées to the Bois de Boulogne—it was cool and delightful driving by the beautiful lake under acacia trees, watching the people sitting about, and the ladies in their beautiful dresses, being driven. We all enjoyed it muchly. After table d’hote we went for a short walk along the streets.
Another boiling day. Went for a short drive, and to Notre Dame, which is very fine with lovely double aisles. At 2.15 started from Gare du Lyons (same train as Evelyn and I had gone to Pisa by, 2 years ago) for Lyons. The train was fearfully shaky and dirty, and we could hardly read or speak. Happily we had a carriage to ourselves, but the heat was dreadful and we sat with dirty rivers of water running down our faces. At Dijon, where we arrived about 7.0 we got some refreshment and washed, and after that it was cooler, and we all slept a good deal. Arrived Lyons at 11.0 and drove to ‘Hotel Collet et Continental’. B and I have separate bedrooms here.
Another very hot day. I washed my hair, and a shirt of Father’s. Went by funiculaire railway to see the Church of Fourvières. Very gorgeous and rather fine. Met an interesting old priest who had been nearly all over the world. Then went up a tower in a lift and had a magnificent view, though not very clear. The beautiful town, and the distant hills, the Cevennes in one direction, and the Alps in another, though the latter we could not see clearly, and the 2 rivers, Rhone and Saone.
We went back to the hotel for lunch, rested some time, then to the Baths in the Rhone, which were very shallow, and not particularly nice, but cooling, and great fun. Then to see a beautiful old Cathedral, with lovely windows, but it was so dark we could hardly see anything. After dinner, an hour’s drive to the Park—it was quite dark, and the cabman would walk (at least let the horse walk!) which was rather annoying.
Left the hotel at 8.0. It is a very nice hotel with a kind of centre, covered in, court. Took 8.30 train to Voiron. Beautiful journey, but still very hot. Then took a small, kind of tram train to St. Laurent du Pont, where we had a delicious dejeuner. The journey through the gorges, winding round and round, really among precipitous, high mountains at last, was magnificent, only needing a roaring torrent to complete the splendour. The lack of water is a great loss.
We took diligence from St. Laurent to the Grand Chartreuse, 3 horses had hard work, as it was uphill all the way, though mostly pretty gradual. The views were very fine. The monastery is rather imposing, I think, with a high wall all round. Father saw round it, but no women may enter. Afterwards we walked slowly down in the cool of the evening (which is bliss, after the heat of the day) to St. Pierre, about 2 miles from the monastery I think. It is a pretty village by a stream, rather shut in by mountains. It is delightful to be in the country at last. We have just had supper at the ‘Grand Hotel du Desert’ and are soon going to bed.
Sundays abroad seem the same as any other day, and we can hardly realise that to-day has been Sunday. Were in bed by 9.0 o’clock.
Mother’s 60th birthday. Another lovely day. I woke at 5.0, so at 6.0 Bertha and I got up and went for a bathe in the stream. It was most refreshing, but very cold. We went a short walk and had a beautiful view of the place which is much finer than I had thought before. After breakfast Mother sketched, and we had another short walk. At 9.30 started in a comfortable carriage from the pretty village, and had a splendid drive to Grenoble, on the Isère, still very hot. We had a long ascent first of all, and then began a quick drive down—the views of the mountains were splendid, and we had a very nice driver. Shortly before arriving at Grenble, we saw Mont Blanc quite distinctly in the distance. The drive was about 18 miles—we arrived ‘Grand Hotel, Grenoble’ about 1.30 and had some soup and fruit. Then rested and afterwards went a walk to the park, small, but gay with flowers and the river, from whence a magnificent view of the Alps all round is obtained. It certainly is a most beautifully situated city. The hotel is fairly grand, but with a nice court for sitting out, full of trees and chairs. It has been a delightful day.
B & I went short walk—bought some soap and cocoa. At 11.0 we started in a small train for Vizille, ascending most of the way. The smoke from the engine was dreadfully dirty, and we got dirty and hot. Here we waited an hour, resting near a lovely waterfall in the grounds (½ franc each) of the picturesque chateau. French Revolution formally declared here in 1788. Then we took another small train, and went through magnificent mountain scenery with a glacier river flowing down, to Bourg d’Oisans where we arrived about 4.0. Went to a very nice hotel, but it was very expensive and going to close in a day or two, so we went to Hotel Milan in the town near the river. It did not seem nearly so nice, but we decided to stay, and have just had a very nice dinner.
Another lovely day. Started soon after 8.0 in a nice carriage to drive to St. Christophe. Almost the whole way was a steep ascent with almost a precipice on one side, so we had to walk a great deal. A carriage is an absurd vehicle for such a road. St. Christophe is about 5000 ft up. Here we had dejeuner à la fourchette, and then Father, B and I started about 2.0 in the broiling sun with our rücksacks, to walk to La Berarde, leaving Mother to follow on a mule. It was about 10 miles and rather hot and tiring, as we were not yet used to the rücksacks. Mother did not overtake us for a very long time. There is a good mule path from St. Christophe to La Berarde (5700 ft up) which place we reached soon after 6.0, very glad to have had some real exercise at last, and to be right among the mountains. I went to bed at 8.30 after a very nice dinner. It is a beautifully clean inn, built by the ‘Society of Tourists of the Dauphiné’, and B and I each have a dear little room. La Berarde is a tiny village between 3 narrow valleys near a noisy glacier stream, surrounded by splendid peaks, and glaciers and very wild—hardly a tree anywhere. Very unsketchable, and most suited for climbers. The mountains have not much snow, owing I suppose to their precipitousness, and also to the exceptionally hot summer.
Started about 8.30 for the glacier Pilatte. Very stoney morrain path, uphill nearly all the way. Hot walking. At the foot of the glacier we rested, and B and I had a dip in the glacier river which was icy. Then the landlord, and a very nice French lady and gentleman joined us, having ridden on mules. We had lunch, and spent about 1½ hours on the glacier, seeing some good crevasses, but it was perfectly easy though steep. The peaks and glaciers are very fine indeed, but we did not get a far stretching view. Got back to the inn about 5.0, and had some most refreshing tea. Mother was rather tired—it was a very long walk for a lady of 60! About 15 miles, but steep and stoney and hot a great part of the time.
I don’t care for the French system of meals—tiny breakfast, dejeuner just like a long dinner, and a long dinner in the evening. 2 a day are too much. It was better in Italy, where the dejeuner was quite simple. Went to bed at 8.30.
Got up at 5.30. Started after 6.0 for the Tête de la Maye, close beside the hotel. A man as guide followed us soon with provisions. Went very leisurely. There is a made path all the way, but parts are very steep indeed, and there are one or two places where one might get giddy. It is 8275 ft. high. Reached the top about 9.30, and had a splendid view of the mountains round about, but as they were much higher, of course we could not see beyond them. The Meije, the most difficult peak in these Alps, and the Écrin, also very hard, both 1300 ft. odd, were seen magnificently, quite near to. The latter with a tiny snow peak, and a very serrated edge, is particularly fine.
A little way down we had cheese, bread, cold coffee, etc. We had not passed a drop of water anywhere, and were fearfully thirsty. Had a very long rest. Coming down seemed rather long, and the heat was really fearful, although so high up. Father and Mother were both rather tired. It was a tremendous walk for them, and none of us are in training yet. We were all glad to get in about 2.0, drink some delicious milk, and have a bath! What a luxury! So lovely and cooling.
This air does not seem to me at all bracing. An unusual event in that I am hardly ever hungry.
Went a very short walk in the morning—back to lunch. In afternoon some walked. I read, sketched, etc. Waiter rather drunk at dinner time.
Up at 5.30. An exorbitant bill—2 francs for 6 small glasses of milk, etc, etc.
Started for St. Christophe at about 7.0, with luggage on a mule. Very pleasant walk. Saw some beautiful butterflies, the ‘Camberwell Beauty’, etc. Had lunch, then started for Bourg D’Oisans in a carriage with a nice, white shade above. Rather exciting drive. The road was very steep, narrow and winding with enormous precipice on one side, and there was only about a foot between it and Eternity. However I, at any rate, enjoyed the drive very much, and we came down quickly, arriving Bourg D’Oisans about 2.0. Welcome letters. Not an over clean hotel (Milan) but nice landlady.
(I forgot to mention that at La Berarde Bertha and I began wearing our rational dresses always. We find them most comfortable and convenient and were the first ladies to wear them there!)
Chamois cutlets for dinner!
At last a rather cloudy day, and not quite so hot. Just right for driving! We started at 7.0 in a landau, 3 horses abreast. A great part of the way was uphill, very pretty. I sat on the box most of the time.
Arrived at La Grave (5000 ft) on the Romanche river, about 11.30 or 12 I think. There are 2 good hotels. We are staying at the ‘Hotel des Alps’, and are the only visitors. Each of us, even Father and Mother have separate bedrooms, looking straight out on the ‘Meije’. The view is really glorious, and the whole place looks lovely and not shut in like at La Berarde. It is a small village. Soon after lunch Mother and I walked through the picturesque old village, rather smelly, but with some lovely old houses, and then made a sketch of the pretty little church and the Meije, which looked very fine. B and Father walked to the glacier. Mother and I took a short walk to a waterfall. The mists came down over the mountains, and it was dark by 6.30. Looks rather stormy.
Another glorious day. Started at 8.0 for the Plateau de Paris (8070 ft) an easy walk by a path, but it was very hot. The tiny inn here was really shut, but happened to be open for the day. We ate our provisions and got some coffee, and then proceeded to the summit, a good long way further, and pretty steep. There was a magnificent view, and much more open than some we have had—the Swiss mountains, Mt Pelvoux, etc, and La Meije looking extremely fine with its beautiful glaciers. It is a wonderful mountain. It seemed a good long way coming home, and it was rather too far for Mother, who got very tired. We got back to our very nice hotel at 6.0, and have just finished dinner. I am writing this in a kind of outhouse, lit with electric light, which is very nice.
In the morning Father, Bertha and I went a walk, Father singing to us delightfully. Mother sketched. Very nice restful day. In afternoon Mother and I sketched—others a short walk. I had amusing talk with 3 peasant women. Find my French lessons have helped me immensely and made everything much more interesting.
Father, Bertha and I got up at 2.30, had some coffee and bread and butter, and started at 3.0 with 2 brothers as guide and porter called ‘Mathonnet’ for the Col de la Lauze. It was a lovely starlight night, but quite dark, only we had 2 good lanterns; we crossed the river, and began the ascent at once by a mule path. It was easy walking in the dark and rather impressive—in about an hour it slowly began to get lighter, and at 5.0 the lamps were put out; then the sun rose, lighting the hills with a rosy colour. About 6.30 or rather sooner we reached the Refuge—Hotel Chancel (8860 ft) and had a nice rest, and breakfast of bread, jam, eggs etc., most refreshing it was! The path ended here, and we had a fairly long ascent over a morrain then we were roped and had a very long ascent over the glacier, passing over two rather exciting crevasses, where a slip would have been very awkward. Poor Father’s breathing was dreadfully bad, and he got fearfully tired, but we stopped a lot and went very slowly, and he insisted on persevering till the end. At last we reached the ‘col’ (11,625 ft) and proceeded a little higher to the top of some rocks. The guide shook hands with us, and we drank healths in champagne, and had some breakfast. The view was glorious, though not very clear, but the clouds made it all the more beautiful I think, and it was very extensive. The ‘Écrins’ stood out well. Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa were not visible. We stayed about an hour on the top, but it was rather cool. We descended the glacier much more quickly, though it was very slippery owing to the melting from the heat of the sun. We reached the hut (hotel) and 2.30, and while Father had a rest, Mother, who had ridden there on a donkey to meet us, Bertha and I had a most refreshing, lovely bathe in a deep blue lake. Far the best bathe we have had in this country yet. We all went down from the lake together, going very quickly down the path, mother riding part way. It was very pretty, part of the way through larch woods which we had not seen through ascending them by night. It seemed a fairish way, and we reached La Grave about 5.0, having been out 14 hours. Neither B nor I were tired—we had enjoyed our first Alpine climb with Father and the first time we had been roped, immensely. The weather was splendid, and it is good to start early before the heat of the day. The guides were most kind and nice, and encouraging to Father, but it is sad and strange that he, who usually encourages us, should now have to be helped himself.
We made some tea when we got in. There were 2 nice elderly English gentlemen at dinner—the first English we have met since Paris. Not very good account of Ruth, in letters received to-day.
It has been a glorious day, and we have enjoyed our first Alpine climb with Father immensely.
A pottering day. In the morning I washed some clothes, and B and I had a nice cold bathe in a pool. Afternoon I sketched and we went a short walk, but felt rather stiff. The weather grew cloudy and rather chilly. B and I had fun sliding down some very steep dry grass. It was like tobogganing and quite exciting.
Another glorious day. Left La Grave with very great regret before 7.30, driving in a light, comfortable waggonette. We drove through 2 long tunnels and we ascended to Le Lauteret, where there is an inn, but it would not be a place to stay long in. Then it grew very steep, and Father, B and I walked up to Galibier, the col, 8720 ft high. It was quite a toil up in the heat, but views were beautiful Italian mountains in distance, and hills covered with crimson bilberry leaves. Then began a wonderful descent—the zigzag road was a work of art, and we drove quickly down, round tremendous curves with a precipice on one side and very wild country—great rocks and stones. Happily we had a good, careful driver, and I, at least all of us, enjoyed it muchly, except Bertha, who was not very well, and suffering from toothache. At Valloie (4600 ft), a village in a fertile, lovely valley, we stopped for 2 hours to rest the horses and have dejeuner. Then we ascended again, and then another tremendous descent to a more fertile part.
We had already come down a descent higher, much, than any of our English mountains. The road was really marvellous, and the horses so well-trained and sure-footed. The drive was over 40 miles I think, the longest I had ever been, and it was most delightful. At nearly 5.0 o’clock we stopped at St. Michel and had over an hour to wait for the train to Albertville. The train journey was about 2 hours, but we had to change, and wait about ½ hour at St. Pierre d’Albigny I think. Mother and Father went to an hotel and secured us some dry bread and pears as we were famished. We arrived at Albertville on the ‘Arly’ about 9.30, and had some tea and chocolate and went straight to bed—Hotel Million. The road we drove down is the highest in Europe, save that of the Stelvio.
So far, on this tour, in spite of the great heat, we have had no trouble from flies of any kind, which is delightful.
We have now left the Dauphiné Alps and are going to the Western Graians.
Bertha went to the dentist with Mother. He was very nice and put some stuff in the tooth to deaden the pain. Had a short Bible reading, and then shopped; although it was Sunday most of the shops were open. Albertville is a very pretty little town. In afternoon Bertha and I went a short walk, and went into a church. The weather grew rather hot. At 4.30 started for the station—left our luggage at Albertville and only took our rücksacks with us. Train left at 5.0 for Moutiers (Tarentaise) which we reached about 6.30, and went to the Hotel de la Couronne, where we found welcome letters. A jolly band was playing outside. A great banquet was going on and it was a good time before we could get dinner. A party of 9 merry officers had it with us, it was rather fun watching them. Had to go almost outside to get to our bedrooms—such a quaint place.
Went to see the church before breakfast—nothing much to see. Started soon after 7.0 in a landau to drive 8 miles to Bozel. At Moutiers there was a great fair and some of the women were in costume. We drive past Brides-les-Bains, a fashionable watering place. Saw 2 splendid eagles while driving. At Bozel we had 2 hours to wait for déjeûner, so Mother and I sketched. Very hot. Déjeûner was one of the slowest we had ever been at, one grew hungry again between the courses! What was our horror to learn from a gentleman that the inn at Pralognan whither we had intended to walk that afternoon had been shut up. It was most disappointing, but we took a trap and drove 8 miles to see it. It was uphill all the way, so Father, B and I walked nearly all the way there. Got some lovely blackberries, the first we have found. Lovely pine woods, reminding me more of Norway than any place we have been to yet. Very pretty rushing river through a gorge. Pralognan itself is perhaps a little shut in, but the glaciers above it are very fine, and the air was cold and fresh coming straight from them. We drove back again very quickly, but it grew dark before we got back to Bozel. There was a lovely moon. Dinner, another long slow affair, but quite nice, and then to bed. Most romantic kind of place, up an outside staircase, almost in the open air, to get to our bedrooms. I had a very comfortable room, or rather bed.
3 weeks ago to-day we left home, and have never had a drop of rain yet. To-day has been rather cloudy. Started at ¼ to 7, (all our plans of course have had to be altered, owing to the inn at Pralognan being shut), Mother on a mule, for the Mont de Jouet, 8,400 ft odd, a 4 hours climb, but it took us a little longer, and was very close and tiring going up, though there was a good path. Father’s heart hurt him. At the top we had a very beautiful view, though many of the mountains had their tops covered with clouds, Mont Blanc included. A little lower down, near a closed chalet, and near delicious water we ate our provisions. I forget to say that on the way up we got a lot of delicious milk in a small chalet at a reasonable price. The mule and man went back to Bozel, and we went on the way to Moutiers. We lost the path, but found it again, and a nice girl with a cow showed us the way. We found some wild strawberries and raspberries. The descent seemed enormous, and Mother got very footsore, and her knee began to give way. At 10 mins to 5 we entered the station at Moutiers having had very few rests, and having walked steadily almost all day. Our rücksacks, which had been sent from Bozel by diligence had not turned up. Father went off to seek them, found them in a café, blew the driver up, and returned just in time to get the train at 5.0, but we had managed to have it kept waiting a few minutes. Reached Albertville at 6.0. Very nice fruit at dinner, peaches, pears and grapes.
Our first wet day. Spent the morning writing. In afternoon it was not very wet, and Bertha and I went a very pretty walk, up a road surrounded with orchards, full of grapes, pears, apples and chestnuts. Father and Mother also went a walk.
Breakfast at ¼ to 7. Though cold and dull it was not raining, so we decided to take the covered diligence to Annecy, instead of going a round-about way by train. The nice landlady gave Bertha and me some lovely roses. The Hotel Million was comfortable, not dear, and cooking excellent.
The drive was pleasant along a very straight, flat road, but rather cold. We reached the lake after 12.0 and joined the steamer, having lunch on board. The lake looked small, about 9 miles long and pretty broad, but is much larger than it looks, because it curves, so that one cannot see it nearly all. I enjoyed the steamer immensely, in spite of the cold; the mists were rather low on the mountains, but the effect was very fine and the deep blue of the lake was beautiful. We reached Annecy about 2.0 I think, and Mother and I drove to the Hotel Verdun, which is quite near to where we landed, but the cabman charged 3 francs!! One can see the lake from some of the windows, but it is disappointing that it does not really overlook the lake. After reading the letters, we went a walk. The town itself, the old part, has many arcades, and an old chateau castle, now used as a garrison, stands out finely above the other houses. Some of the streets with their quaint balconied houses are most picturesque and there are some canals, reminding me of Venice in a small way. Pretty sunset. Came back through the pretty public gardens. Also we watched the soldiers drilling, in their white uniforms and red caps. A good many people at dinner.
A lovely morning. Breakfast at 7.0, but we had to wait a little. Evidently most visitors here are not down so early. Began a sketch. At 9.8 went by train (12 mins) to Larwargry, and then walked a short way to see the ‘Gorges du Fier’. They are truly marvellous, and one walks along a narrow made bridge, with the river below, and these enormous precipices on either side, made by the glaciers, and with great potholes; in many places beautifully covered above with trees. They are over 200 ft long, about 23 ft wide I think. We had never seen anything like it before. Sometimes the river rises to an enormous height. Then we walked up to the beautiful old Chateau de Montrottier; most picturesque with a glorious view, but to-day it was not clear enough to see Mont Blanc. Caught the ¼ to 12 train back to Annecy.
After déjeûner Father and Mother rested, and Bertha read ‘Guy Mannering’ aloud. Just as Mother, and B and I went out, it began to pour, but it was only a shower. While Mother sketched, I bathed. The baths were really closed, as it is getting late in the year, but the man kindly opened them, and I enjoyed it. The water was really much warmer than the air, but so shallow. Even though I swam out into the lake I never got much above my knees. Then we went a pleasant row for an hour; the colour of the hills and water was most lovely. The rain kindly kept off till we landed, and then it pelted, so we went back to the hotel.
Father not very well. Packed before breakfast, and I finished a sketch after breakfast. Bargained with a man, and finally decided to drive all the way to Chamonix instead of going as far as possible by train. Started in a landau, with the luggage strapped on behind, at 9.30. Hotel Verdun nice and moderate—took us ‘en pension’ for the day and 2 nights.
The first part of the drive was by the lake, and was perfectly lovely, so that we felt very sorry to be leaving Annecy. Water does make such a difference to a place, and the blue hills covered with freshly fallen snow were very beautiful. (It poured last night.) It was a delightful day for driving, warm but not sunny, and the cloud added to the effect. At last we left the lake, and went past lovely woods and rocks to Thones, where we had a very nice, but slow, déjeûner. (On a table were some dead squirrels which the landlord said are very good to eat. Cruel! I told him.) This took 1 or 1½ hours, then we proceeded through most beautiful country, fir woods and splendid snow mountains in the distance. The top of the Col des Aravis was over 4000 ft., so though the road was not steep we had to walk a good deal. We should have had from the top a good view of Mt Blanc, etc, but unfortunately the mists had descended and we could see no distant views. However we were most fortunate in not having a drop of rain all day. The road on the other side being very stony and steep, the horses had to walk all the way down, then it grew dark, and the road still being bad, and the driver not knowing it well (though he was a very good driver and nice) we had to go very slowly all the way to Flumet. We had meant to go about 7 miles further, but it was cold and dark, 7 o’clock and we were all very hungry, so we decided to stay the night at Flumet, and came to the Hotel de Mont Blanc. Had refreshing supper of omelette, cutlets, potatoes, cocoa, jam etc. It seems a very nice inn, (country) and Bertha and I slept from soon after 9.0 till after 6.30. It was jolly.
Breakfast with comb honey! Then we went a very short walk. Flumet is a most picturesque long-shaped village, with pretty walks round. Our driver left us, and we had a new driver and carriage from Mégève. The first part of the journey was so beautiful that we were very glad we had not missed it by driving in the dark. The top of Mont Blanc was covered, but most of the range was clear, and magnificent. The air was very cold, but grew colder. At 11.30 we reached St. Gervais, and stopped for déjeûner at 12.0 with 2 French ladies, elderly; one spoke good English. She tried to convince us that we were far too late for Chamonix. Directly after lunch we went on again. The road now was a good deal uphill. We passed a ‘chlorate of potash’ factory, worked by the water of the Arve, which rather spoilt the landscape with its huge pipes, etc. The driver says it is most unhealthy work for the workers in it, that after 10 years they can work no more, which is very sad.
We grew quite excited as we neared Chamonix, but were very sorry to stop driving when we reached it about 4.30 I think. We had not decided which Hotel to go to, but the Beau-Site, the first we came to, looked so nice that we stopped there; only 2 Americans were staying there, so we got a good choice of rooms, and as no more visitors were expected Bertha and I each got rooms to ourselves, very nice ones with electric light. We are being taken ‘en pension’ for 7 francs a day, and are very comfortable. After dinner we had some amusing, interesting talk with the American gentleman and lady—a very pleasant young couple, who left next day. Before dinner we walked through the village. There is a very nice statue of Jacques Balmat showing Saussure the top of Mont Blanc, and there are some lovely shops.
Cold and rather misty. Father not very well, so Bertha and I went a walk starting about 9.30. Suddenly we resolved to go to the Flégère, where there is an inn with a fine view. It was further than we expected, and we had simply to race up, getting very hot, and as there was a good mule path we ran nearly all the way down, and got back to déjeûner at 12.30.
In the afternoon we all walked to the ‘Glacier des Bossons’. A man took us into the grotto in the ice, 85 yards long. It really was exquisite, such a deep blue colour, and such a wonderful feeling to be right inside a glacier. It is indeed well worth a visit, and we were all impressed with it. We crossed the glacier, which was a very short way (15 mins), but rather slippery, and I only had on shoes with no nails in, and then descended through the woods on the other side, a prettier way than in going. Bertha and I had a jolly dip in a pool. We passed the Cascades des Pèlerins, et du Dard, the latter really lovely with the glacier standing out behind it, looking clean and with wonderful seracs. We got back about 5.30. An elderly English gentleman and a French gentleman and lady to dinner, staying here.
Started about 9.30, Mother on a mule, for the Montenvert (6267 ft). Met several people going up, and some English boys. Reached the inn about 11.30 and had some soup. Then left the mule to go back, and took our nice guide on over the glacier, the Mer de Glace, which was quite easy, dirty in some places and dark blue in others. At the opposite side we had lunch near a stream and soon afterwards walked down the ‘Mauvais Pas’, and the Chapeau, but they are really very good steps with an iron railing, and not at all difficult to anyone at all accustomed to mountain walking.
The ‘Mer de Glace’ is a very good name for the glacier, most expressive. The seracs do not look as huge as on the glacier des Bossons. When we got to a village near Chamonix, we stopped to see Joseph Claret, the guide who went with Father and Mother on their wedding tour. He did not quite recognise them, which was not much wonder as it is about 30 years since he last saw them, and he is now 80 years old, but when Father said ‘M. Robert & Madame’ he knew at once and was so delighted to see them.
A lovely Alpine glow in the evening. It begins to get dark now soon after 5.30, alas! A nice English gentleman, elderly, has arrived. After dinner, to please a French lady and gentleman, I played a few things, badly, on the piano, and then we had some interesting conversation with the English gentleman in French about languages, etc. I find my French lessons at home have helped me greatly. I can understand much more than before.
We had meant to go to the Brévent, but put it off, thinking it would not be clear, but it turned out lovely, and we saw the real, snowy top of Mont Blanc quite distinctly. Father and B walked to the Flégère, (5925 ft). Mother and I sketched. After déjeûner Bertha and I had a lovely bathe in a pool with a sandy bottom. At 5.0 Joseph came by invitation and we had a very nice talk. He was so nice; it was quite touching to see his affection for Father and Mother.
2 English ladies arrived, or rather Scotch.
Started about 8.30 for the Brévent. (8285 ft). Mother on a mule. A man and a boy both came saying they would be needed, as we intended to come down another way, but in the end, they told us we had not time, and the mule walked back a lot of the way by itself. We had to pay a great deal for these two, and it was too ridiculous, for there is quite a road all the way to the top, and we did not need them both a bit. It was a regular swindle! Places where many tourists go to get quite spoiled!
After going some distance we got into the mists, and by the time we reached the Bel Achat it was pouring. A man had come up, and opened the hut, so we bought some lemonade, went in and ate our provisions. After waiting a good time it quite cleared up, and at the top, though not clear we had a very beautiful view. A man opened the hut and brought out a very powerful telescope. Through it we saw quite distinctly the ‘Grand Mulet’ where people sleep before climbing Mont Blanc, the ‘Chapeau’ and a gentleman just arriving there wiping his face, the wonderful seracs near the ‘Grand Mulet’, the people walking about in Chamonix, and the very crevass into which Mr Binns and his guide fell a week or two ago and lost their lives. They made the first ascent of the Charmoz and the accident occurred fairly near the bottom of the glacier on their way down. It was dreadfully sad.
We could not see the top of Mont Blanc, as it was in clouds. We came down quickly, as we came the same way, B and I arriving first about 5.0, and Mother and Father soon afterwards. Welcome letters, but not a very good account of Ruth.
Oct 7th Friday
Raining, but it cleared up a little, so we spent most of the morning shopping, and being photographed in our climbing clothes, all four of us together!!
At 2.0 we started in a carriage for the ‘Gorges de la Diosaz’, the main road branching off at Servoz. Very soon it began to pour and continued nearly all the afternoon, but with wraps and cloaks we hardly got wet at all, and in spite of the rain the gorge was magnificent. There were some splendid pools for bathing. This gorge was quite different from the ‘Gorges du Fier’, not so uncommon or unique, but more beautiful. The trees on either side had changed colour and were lovely. There is a platform along which one walks ½ mile or more in length; several little waterfalls, and at the end a beautiful one. The walk is going to be extended. It takes now an hour to walk there and back to where one leaves the carriage.
Got back here about 6.0. To bed as usual, at 8.30.
Oct 8th Saturday
A week to-day and we will be at home again. Home is always delightful, but oh! The town is horrid after the country.
Father, B and I started at 8.30, (Mother sketched) for the Plan d’Aiguible, but missed the path, so went to the Pierre-Pointue (6700 ft) instead. I was rather glad, as it is the first stage for the ascent of Mont Blanc, and we had a most splendid view of the beautiful Bosson glacier (my favourite I think) and of the way to the Grand Mulets. The mountains in the distance were lovely too, but there were many clouds, and the top of Mont Blanc was not visible. We descended very quickly, B and I stopping for a hasty dip on the way, as we were very hot, and we got back at ¼ to 1.
In the afternoon not so fine but quite fair. We shopped, packed etc.
The photos came, and are very good on the whole. Father and B are best. Our ‘rationals’ have come out nicely.
At suppertime, or rather, dinner-time, we drank the healths of the English gentleman, and the 2 Scotch ladies, Mother and I in water, the rest in Champagne, and Father hoped ‘that sweet be the sleep of their pleasant hours’ etc.
I only got a little sleep between 12 and 3 a.m. and was very tired to-day. Got up often in the night to see Mont Blanc, but it was not clear. Had breakfast about 5.30 and left Chamonix very regretfully about 6.0 in a carriage with both seats facing the horses. ‘Farewell, ye loved mountains’. We did want to see Mont Blanc once more, but it was quite in cloud. Suddenly Mother turned round and said ‘look’ and the top was perfectly clear, and lit up with sunlight. I had never seen it looking so beautiful before. It was a surprise and we were so pleased, especially as it was soon lost again in cloud. Then for sometime I was nearly asleep; we passed near beautiful woods and a river. As we came near the Tête-Noire, the road became very rough, and so narrow, that it was almost dangerous, for we were ascending, and there was a great precipice on one side. There was only just room for our carriage. The Tête-Noire is a beautiful pass, but the views would be best going towards Chamonix I think. At the hotel we had déjeûner, and the horses a good rest; then we drove a little further and it began to rain. Happily it soon stopped, and we came to a very long, steep hill, up which we all walked. It was a weary pull up, and so hot. At the top we should have had a splendid view and seen the Oberland mountains, but everything was in mist, which was disappointing. From here there was a tremendous descent all the way to Martigny. Unfortunately ice had been carried down, and the whole road to the bottom was ploughed up. It really was dreadful, and very hard on the horses pulling through the mud. They stumbled, and of course they had to walk all the way down, and it was one continual jerk. It cleared and we had a lovely view of the Rhone valley. We began to think we should miss the train, but we arrived at Martigny in good time, and had some tea. The train left at 4.20, and we went luxuriously first class. It was a very pretty journey, especially as we neared the Lake of Geneva. (Léman). It was quite exciting passing places of which one has heard so often, Territet, Montreux, etc and the Castle of Chillon which looked beautiful. We reached Vevey at 7.0 and drove in a bus to the ‘Grand Hotel du Lac’. It did seem grand after our smaller hotels, but the cooking and food is excellent, and our bedrooms on the 3rd floor, overlooking the lake were most comfortable. B and I each had a room as they charge by beds. The hotel is close to the lake with a very pretty garden, and most glorious view. Had table d’hôte, and soon after went to bed. Very nice ‘Potage Reine Hortense’ at dinner, and a wonderful very pretty ice pudding, with a huge piece of real ice round, and a candle in the middle.
A glorious day. Got up at 7.0; the mountains were quite pink and ethereal looking with the sunrise, and I began a sketch before breakfast. Directly afterwards we took the electric tram, which runs just outside the hotel every 10 mins to Chillon. It was fearfully shakey, but we got a splendid view sitting on the top, of the Lake, mountains, huge fine hotels, villas, gardens full of beautiful trees, scarlet salvias, begonias, etc. Passed Territet and Montreux. The Castle itself was interesting, but the most beautiful part is the outside. We saw the dungeon in which Bonivard was imprisoned for 6 years. Some of the rooms are right on the lake and have a glorious view. Beautiful roofs and ceilings. It was most interesting to see the place which one knows of from Byron’s poem. We caught an electric tram back to the hotel, and after a very nice déjeûner, left by 1.5 train for Neuchatel. Going beside the lake was glorious, but how hot it felt after Chamonix! The mountains in the distance, pale and hazy through heat I suppose, and the liquid blue of the lake were most beautiful. The lake is bluer than most Swiss lakes. It is about 40 miles long, and sometimes 8 miles broad. After Lausanne, which does not look nearly so nice as Vevey, we left the lake, and went through not such a beautiful part till we came to the Lake of Neuchatel, and had a superb view of the Bernese Oberland mountains—the Jungfrau, Matterhorn (called Mont Cerirn) Mont Blanc in the distance, Wetterhorn, etc. As they have not been clear for a fortnight we were most fortunate. The Jungfrau looked specially beautiful, with its white covering of snow—most of them were covered with snow. We arrived at Neuchatel about 4.0, and left the luggage while we walked on to the Hotel Bellevue, close to the lake and with a magnificent view. After some tea and reading the letters, B and I went to the Swimming Baths, 10 min off. They were said to be shut, but we rang a bell, and were taken in. ‘Baths’ they are not, for you go straight into the Lake, and it gets deep at once. Nice, clean horses, and pretty bathing dresses. The water was not cold, but not warm, and we had a glorious swim. It really was perfectly delicious, even though we missed seeing an Alpine glow.
Dinner at 6.30. I sat next a charming old English lady.
Poured in the night, but cleared up. After breakfast we shopped in the picturesque market, and walked up to the old chateau and church. The chateau is extremely picturesque, and commands a fine view, though it was not clear to-day. There are some pretty cloisters, and some pretty little bits of carving and all round Neuchatel I think there would be plenty to sketch. The roof of the church is rather pretty variegated tiles.
Mother, Bertha and I next went to the Baths, while Father went for a ride in an Electric tram. The lake was rough, and the choppy waves buffetted us about, but it was great fun, though rather cold. There was a nice shower bath of water not from the Lake to go under when we came out. I found that they really are baths, but owing to the very dry season, the Lake has shrunk, and the Bath itself is dry. Mother bathed too, but did not swim. We had déjeûner at 12.0, and then left in the omnibus. The Hotel Bellevue is very expensive, and not nearly as nice as some of the cheaper ones we have been at; a great contrast to the Hotel du Lac at Vevey. The view of course is beautiful. It was disappointing not to see the Bernese Oberland mountains again.
Train went at 2.0 I think. We passed through a lovely gorge. Saw the people gathering in the vintage. Father got quite excited, and when they waved as the train went past, he waved back to them. At Pontarlier we had to change, and it was simply pouring by this time, and continued all the rest of the afternoon. We made some tea, but it was not very satisfactory. Comfortable 2nd class carriage, to ourselves most of the way. Arrived Dijon about 7.15, and glad we were to quit the train which shook fearfully, so that one could not read or do anything.
Drove to the Hotel Jura, which is close to the station, and were quite welcomed, heaps of porters etc. rushing out to carry in our things. Had some very nice cutlets and sweet omelette. My bedroom is quite luxurious, a large kind of feather bed, table, sofa, 2 easy chairs, pier glass and a little cupboard room, in which is the washstand, and electric light in it. This tiny room is so hidden, for the door opens in the wall and is covered with the wall paper, that at first I could not see it.
Alas! Our time is nearly over, and we will soon be back in England.
Fair. Slept well in spite of the noise, except Mother, who had not a very good night. Soon after breakfast we went to explore the town, parts of which are very picturesque, and there are some nice shops, particularly chocolate. We went to the Cathedral, and another church, but though the outside was rather grand, Italian style I think, it was not beautiful. Inside there were some beautiful pillars, a group of tall, narrow pillars forming one pillar.
The museum is rather wonderful for a comparatively small town, not many pictures I cared about, and some extraordinary ones. There was a rather nice one of St. Bernard, and we saw his cup. Some beautiful old Venetian glass etc. Bertha and Mother also went to the Botanical Gardens, which are very nice, and Father and I went to a pretty garden, with lovely begonias, cannas and salvias.
Nice lunch. Started for Paris at 1.25. Train crowded, and we had great difficulty to get seats. B and I played games and read. Arrived Gare de Lyons at 6.12 and then had a long drive to the Hotel St. James et D’Albany. It was so full that we could get no double-bedded rooms (to my delight), so we got 4 single ones on the 2nd floor, and had dinner almost at once.
Mother and Father had a long interview with the Plombière doctor about Ruth. Then Mother, B and I shopped in the Louvre, a huge shop, but the things were no better than one can get in England. After déjeûner at 11.30 we drove to the station and caught the 1.25 train for Dieppe. We went 1st class and had a nice carriage to ourselves. At Rouen where we arrived before 4.0 we had to change, and could not go on till 5.13. It was very nice to get out of the very shakey train, and we went first to see the Cathedral. It is magnificent, both outside and inside. The tall columns are beautiful, and have a kind of 2nd column springing from them on one side. We saw the tomb of Richard Coeur de Lion, where his heart is buried, and some beautiful carving—the Cardinal Virtues, Temperance, etc., were very pretty. The glass is particularly fine I think. The rose window is nearly all blue and green, exactly harmonizing, with orange, red in the centre. There is no screen, so one can see from one end of the church to the other.
Then we went to St. Maclou; the outside is rather nice, but too fantastic, and we did not like the inside.
We had just time to hastily see St. Rouen, which is very fine indeed, though I think the inside columns are a little spoiled by capitals for statues, which seem to break the grace of them, though perhaps they would look different were the statues there.
We went on a 5.13 and had a nice journey to Dieppe, which we reached about 7.0. It is rather interesting staying at places which one usually just passes through. Father sang us a lovely song he has composed to the tune of ‘Grammachree’ in the train. We drove in an omnibus to the ‘Grand Hotel’; which is on the shore, and almost shut up, as the season is quite ended. There were 4 other people in the hotel, but it is a huge place. We got nice rooms, and after dinner I went straight to bed.
Walked along the shore, which is all shingle, no sand. Then went though the town, parts of which are pretty. There is a fairly picturesque old Chateau. Bought lots of fruit. Went to the church St. Jacques, a very fine old building, with fine flying buttresses. The inside also is very nice; the stone at the far end by the transept, when seen from the nave, looks quite a green colour. It has a curious, not unpleasing effect, and is I suppose, owing to the colour of the glass windows.
I then made a sketch on the beach, and Mother sketched indoors. We had déjeûner pretty early, and then went to the steamer, which started at 1.15. We all got comfortable chairs, and dozed and read. The journey seemed very short, but we saw a storm was brewing, and it was already beginning to blow. We reached Newhaven at 5.0, had some tea, and started (1st class) at 5.30. We much enjoyed some fruit we had bought in Dieppe, ripe figs, peaches and pears. We had 2 cabs in London, Father and I in one and Mother and B in the other, and quickly drove from London Bridge to Kings Cross, where we started from at about 8 and had a nice journey to York in a very quick train. How nice it was to be in a train which did not shake, though just before arriving at York, poor B was very sick, probably partly owing to the after effects of the sea voyage. We reached York about 12.0 and went straight to bed after reading some letters, in which we read that Evie had come over and would breakfast with us to-morrow. Poor B was ill again, but all right next morning. Mother and I were too excited to sleep very well.
Evelyn arrived early, and talked to us while we were dressing. It was jolly, but she does not look at all well. Cyril also came to breakfast, and was very nice. We went to see E. off to Manchester at 10.0 and Mabel suddenly appeared, and then we drove with her to 12 St. Mary’s, where we saw Ruth and Molly, Ruth looking better than I had dared to expect. It was most delightful to see them all again. Molly is no longer a baby, but quite a little girl. Hugh came in to dinner, and it was nice to get a proper 2 course dinner again, with blackberry pie!
I was persuaded to stay the weekend, so after tea we went to the station to see the others off, and then Ruth, Hugh and I walked back. I felt a little melancholy, not ending up with the others, but spent a pleasant weekend; I slept in Ruth’s room.
It poured on Sunday, but Hugh, Mabel and I went to Meeting; I walked part way with Mr Collinson; Mr Baines, Mr Gower and Miss Chapman came to tea.
On Monday I caught the 2.5 train, which did not stop once between York and Newcastle, and arrived home about 4.45, and good indeed it was to be at home again, though sad to think that our very delightful holiday is dream of the past. It has been a great privilege to go away with Father and Mother, and to see so much of them. They are splendid. This motto greeted us on our arrival home:-
"Where we love is home, Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts". V.W. Holmes.
Father is a wonderful planner, for he had never been to the Dauphiné Alps, but each place was taken in the right way and for the right length of time.
From the green alps the cattle bells
Chime softly on the ear.
How many a tale their music tells
Of days to memory dear
The old man’s feeble grown and worn
Full oft his heart is sore.
Yet brightly breaks this autumn morn
As broke those days of yore.
Once more he treads the slippery slope,
The summit wins again,
Once more his heart beats high with hope
Though joy be touched with pain.
His winsome wifie by his side
Still treads the flowery brae,
And merrily the sunbeams glide
To cheer us on our way.
And bairnies in far days to come
When you shall gaily climb
Up to the Chamois’ chosen home
As in our golden time;
Strong prove your hearts though rough the road,
And blithe your spirits be
As when in Life’s young days you trod
The snowy Alps with me.
R.S.W Written, I think, at Chamonix about 12th October 1898
[Transcript by Katharine S. Coleman, with her permission.]