Series 1 Episode 5
"If he can play dirtily, so can I"


Episode 5: Let's Have Another Look at Your Past Perfect


It's GJ day 25, Friday November 9. Anne's "off to Lidgate at 7:10 - there in 25 minutes - went up to Miss W - in bed and said she had been dreaming Ι was on the other side in bed with her. Surprised and glad to see me. Very nervous and unwell. Talked and reasoned her into being to all appearance better. Stood by her as she dressed and washed in twenty-nine minutes, of which prayers took five. No foot or queer washing... Miss Parkhill there (she had arrived the previous day) and breakfast at 10 - Miss W to[o] unwell to sit there the whole time and left us to lie on the sofa... Thinks she has done wrong to say yes to me - is remorseful thinks she was bound to Mr A. [I] said Ι should write to York tonight for a turquoise ring - [she] begged me not, she could not wear it in mourning. Advised her about letter to Mr Parker and my conduct altogether bespoke a more than common influence tho' nicely done. What must Miss Harriet Parkhill think? But she likes me, Miss W says".

Anne then returns home, but soon sends Hemingway with an upbeat note: "sent back my night things saying Ι had not, Ι hoped, given up my room forever, then added 'you cannot count upon being much out of my thoughts'".

Hemingway comes back with a reply: "Ι had in reality just finished a note to you written in real despair... when Ι received your affectionate note my love. Ι will not disappoint you by sending what Ι had written but beg you not to write for the ring tonight, Ι must not and Ι cannot take it my love till Ι have fewer torments of conscience than Ι endure at present Ι cannot say that Ι feel stronger this evening and so weak as Ι am it would be madness in me to leave the kingdom" (9-Nov-1832). This is, of course, the note that Cordingley brings Anne the next day in GJ.

In GJ Anne doesn't go home, but spends the night with Anne: the "Swearing vows on the Bible? Like a wedding?" scene. The next GJ day Anne interrupts the Priestleys' breakfast, causing the nervous Ainsworth to follow Anne outside where she tears the rapist reverend a new one. One of my favourite scenes. Is Anne channelling Emily when she says "Ι'm mortally sorry you're not worth knocking down"? How many other Brontë references have Ι missed?

On GJ day 27, when Anne's alone with Ann in the breakfast room and after the apalled Harriet Parkhill has walked out, Sally Wainwright squeezes in an abbreviated version of perhaps the most famous line from the diaries: "Ι love and only love the fairer sex. My heart revolts from any other love than theirs". The actual entry - from January 29, 1821 - reads: "Ι love and only love the fairer sex and thus beloved by them my heart recoils from any love than theirs".

On GJ day 27 we see Anne in Whitley's bookshop where she's "looking for a Book of Common Prayer. Gilt-edged, bound - if you have it - in red Moroccan leather and with an attractively marbled fly-leaf". In fact it's a few days later that she takes the printed pages she had already bought to be bound: "At 1:50 down the Old Bank to Mr Parkin's office... then took the form of prayers Ι had got for Miss W to Whitley's ordering it to be bound in crimson Morocco with purple watered silk fly-leaves & richly gilt - home again in an hour" (29-Nov-1832).

Back in GJ land later that day Anne delivers the book of common prayer, and without so much as a 'thank you' Ann asks "What did you do with that ring and that Bible that Ι gave to you. That he gave to me?". What's up with this ring & bible business? It all seems very meaningful, but we never hear anything about them again.[1] Before they go down to face Miss Parkhill again Anne says about the Ainsworth revelations: "When you told me, it gave me a responsibility, it gave me a power over you". And it really did: in Regency England a scandal such as this would almost certainly ruin an upper-class woman's marriage prospects, not to mention destroying her place in society. A story like this was to be kept secret at all costs.[2]

Back at Shibden Marian's got John Abbott over for tea. According to Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion, John Abbott[3] really was engaged to Marion, in 1834.

Meanwhile at Crow Nest Anne has fallen out with Harriet Parkhill; in her diary she writes: "at Lidgate in 25 minutes at 11:50 - Miss Parkhill had disappeared and staid away in the other room during my visit" (1-Dec-1832). Anne and Ann have their big bust-up, with Ann declaring: "It's wrong. It's repugnant. It's against God" and - Sally Wainwright can't resist - "It's queer".

The episode ends with the Anne-getting-beaten-up scene, perhaps inspired by this diary entry: "Near German House[4] an impertinent fellow with a great stick in his hand asked if Ι was going home and made a catch at my queer. 'Goddamn you' said Ι and pushed him off. He said something which Ι took as meaning an attack. 'Do' said I, 'if you dare, Ι'll soon do for you' and he walked one way and Ι the other. Ι did not feel the least frightened. How involuntarily and bitterly Ι always swear on these occasions?" (25-Nov-1832).

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Notes & Observations
[1] The script suggests that the ring & bible represent Ann's vacillation between rejecting and accepting Ainsworth.
[2] Ann's marriageability declines the older she gets - if she does want a conventional marriage, this might be her last chance.
[3] John Abbott (1796-1870) never married and left most of his huge fortune of approximately £140,000 to charity.
[4] German House still exists on Smith House Lane; it was probably part of Ann's Lightcliffe estate. Ι'm not sure why Anne was taking this route home.
Page updated 4-May-2020
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