Series 1 Episode 4
"A clever court jester. An entertaining... freak"


Episode 4: Most Women Are Dull and Stupid


Tuesday October 23, GJ day 21. Anne & Ann are in bed at The Black Swan[1] in York, waiting for Dr Belcombe. They did stay at the Black Swan, the previous day's diary entry reads: "Miss W & Ι off in her carriage for York at 11:35 & alighted there at the Black Swan at 4:55" (22-Oct-1832).[2][3] It sounds like they took full advantage of the privacy of the hotel: "did not sleep much grubbling her till two last night and then again this morning" (23-Oct-1832). Dr Belcombe's diagnosis is "no organic disease" (Dr Kenny's phrase in GJ).

They return to Halifax on the 25th and then to Cliff Hill the next day (it's still day 21 in GJ) to visit Aunt Ann. And as per GJ: "the letter with black-edged paper & black seal from Miss Bentley, Manchester, being given to Miss W junior to read - it fell from her hand on reading that it was to announce the death of her friend Mrs Ainsworth in consequence of being thrown out of an open carriage - to be interred on Monday" (26-Oct-1832).

On November 1 the letter from Ainsworth arrives: "'Oh oh', thought I, all this is very clear and Ι candidly told her what Ι thought. She owned she could not misunderstand him but could not shew me his letter after the request he had made. In GJ it's the following morning (GJ day 23; Anne in her underwear) that Anne makes her ultimatum, but actually it's the same day: "this led to my saying that she must now decide between Mr A and me and ought to make up her mind before she sat down to write to him. Convinced her of this and it ended in her resolving to give me her final answer on Monday, to write to Mr A on that day, and shew me her letter" (1-Nov-1832). Note that it's Ann who sets the Monday deadline.

GJ day 22. Anne's back at Shibden after the excrutiating visit at the Priestleys; Marian asks after Miss Walker & Anne replies: "Very well, well she was and then this bereavement seems to have knocked her for six"... pedantic perhaps, but cricket's boundary law wasn't introduced until 1844, so it's unlikely that "knocked for six" was in common use in 1832.

After Anne has dealt with Jeremiah Rawson, she & Marian walk down Old Bank into Halifax[4], Anne on her way to the pit. They did really talk about "flannel for drawers", but later, on November 6: "Off at 11 ¼ with Marian to call at the vicarage, there in 20 minutes & sat ½ hour with Mrs Musgrave - then went with Marian to Walker's"Jackson's" in GJ shop to order flannel etc. for things for me in readiness for being off" (6-Nov-1832).

Later that day Anne goes down the pit with Holt; actually she only planned the visit: Holt "explained the manner of working coal pits - asked him to give me an underground plan of a pit in working & asked him to let me know when Ι could go down with him into one of his pits. Ι must understand coal-getting before Ι have done with it - Holt's pit at Binny bottom[?] will be ready for working in 2 months from January[?] & Ι can go in at the day" (6-Nov-1832).

GJ day 23. A Rawson family gathering:[5] three of the brothers (Christopher & Jeremiah, plus Stansfield, Catherine & Delia's father), two wives (Stansfield's wife Elizabeth and Jeremiah's wife Hannah), two daughters (Catherine & Delia), and old Mrs Nelly Rawson, the matriarch and friend of Anne's. "So sorry ladies".

Ann's answer comes on Monday morning, November 5 (GJ day 24). It happens pretty much as in GJ: "...at 11 Miss Walker's servant brought a basket of grapes for my aunt & note to me etc. and the note that ought to have said yes or no. Ι opened it in agitation little e[x]pecting to find it a mere evasion and all between us as undecided as ever".

Anne does return to Lidgate the same day - although she finds it necessary to record an hour-long discussion with a Mr Outram about "lama-hair cloaks at 20/- a yard" before continuing: "she was nervous when we met but Ι looked calm and we soon got on tolerably. We kissed and she was affectionate as usual as far as Ι would let her. But tho' my manner was at intervals cheerful and playful yet Ι would not go on quite as us[u]al and consequently never attempted to touch her queer or anything of that kind as Ι am convinced Ι might have done.[6] Ι returned the purse with the 'yes' at one end and the 'no' at the other just as she had sent it, saying Ι could not leave to the decicion[sic] of chance what ought only to be decided by her own heart... said Ι would stay then till after my rent day on the second of January". Anne ends the long coded entry for the day: "Ι have asked myself once or twice is this a sort of spell breaker? Should she even say yes at last should Ι value it as much as if it had come more freely. 'Had it been earlier it had been kinder.' Better be an end of it at once?" (5-Nov-1832).

In the diaries the Ainsworth story unfolds over the next few days; in GJ the events are cleverly wrapped up into a single scene on the same day.

Two days later Anne goes back to Lidgate, but first has to do her accounts: "Settling what remained for me to pay Miss W - expense of our journey to & expenses at York - it seems the balance against me is only 5/8".[7]

Then back with Ann: "At last from little to more it came out that if she married him it would be from duty. Ι pressed for explanation and discovered that she felt bound to him by some indiscretion. He had taught her to kiss but they had never gone so far as she and Ι had done". Now everything's out in the open and Ann's misgivings disappear: "...she asked if Ι would take her and gave me her word and 'yes' and hoped Ι should find her faithful and constant to me - thus in a moment that Ι thought not of was Ι accepted and the matter settled. Ι kissed her and this had hardly passed before Mrs P came; Miss W just went upstairs and gave me the purse and 'yes' in it before she went down to my fathe[r] and sister[8] who could little dream what had happened" (7-Nov-1832).

Anne stays with Ann overnight; the next day's diary entry opens: "Slept in my drawers as usual but grubbling at intervals and talking and kissing till after one. She seemed satisfied tho' as Ι told her [her] mind would waver at times for long to come. More details about Ainsworth's persistence emerge as Ann "declared things had never gone to extremities but said he had asked her to yield all, assuring her it would not hurt her, that no harm would be done - and then he should be sure of her. Luckily she refused. He had vowed pathetic contrition and she had forgiven but then it first happened last April twelve-month and she had been staying at his house since and the thing had been reiterated in spite of all her resolutions... all she regretted was that she had not done as she had now some months ago while Mrs A lived. She wished to have made some reparation to her but she felt she was in his power. He had charged her never to breathe the thing that it would be ruin to him but adding that indeed she could not as it would commit her equally. Ι held up my hands and exclaimed 'infamous scoundrel' two or three times" (8-Nov-1832). Infamous scoundrel indeed.

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Notes & Observations
[1] Exterior filmed outside Grays Court Hotel, Chapterhouse St. The real Black Swan still exists at 23 Peasholme Green, York.
[2] Average speed about 8 miles per hour.
[3] Ι love the way Anne's got her hands in Ann's knickers and she's still referring to her as "Miss Walker".
[4] Filmed at Wakefield Gate again.
[5] The house is Stoney Royd - unfortunately now demolished.
[6] WTF!
[7] Five shillings and eight pence; perhaps £30 today.
[8] Anne had previously written in plain hand: "Mrs William Priestley called for ¼ hour - then about 1 came my father & Marian".
Page updated 4-May-2020
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