Series 1 Episode 6
"Nature played a challenging trick on me. Didn't she?"

Episode 6: Do Ladies Do That?

Throughout December & January both Ann and Anne continue to vacillate, each seemingly changing her mind almost daily. I've transcribed several diary entries to indicate how undecided they both were, and perhaps explain why the episode ends as it does.
"Talking last night till two, said she should not suffer for me so declared I would not grubble her. She excited as she lay on me and I pretended great difficulty in keeping my word. I felt her over her chemise and this all but did the job for her. She owned she could not help it and that now she had got into the way of it and did not know how she should do without it - thought she should be getting wrong with somebody when I went away. 'Oh', thought I, 'this is plain enough'. Yet still she talked of her sufferings because she thought it wrong to have this connection with me... She will have it she shall never marry if not Mr Ainsworth... but she is quite man-keen and the wrong with me is that I am not enough for her. She said she often thought of what I said on the fifth November that she ought to have said no at once... she will not do for me - I will not give her an opportunity of saying no on the first of January. ...she will not go abroad & now will not leave Lidgate on my going away" (6-Dec-1832).

"...reminding her that I had made up my mind and that my decisions were not like hers - I did not say one thing today and another tomorrow, that she needed not give herself any more trouble: I had decided for her and was determined. She said 'No, no' she could not go abroad, 'it could not be so'" (7-Dec-1832).

"Talked a little, her usual talk about thinking our connection (wrong?).[1] I reasoned gently but with some gravity and dignity and she asked me to sleep with her. Said she was unhappy by having had a letter from Mrs Ploughs - they are in a bad way. She, Miss W, must do all she can for them and had therefore given up the thought of going to York.[2] I took this very calmly saying nothing against it but at heart glad to be off." (10-Dec-1832).

"Without any persuasion she came to me at once last night and forgetting all the wrong she lay in my arms all the night and had three good long grubblings... In fact I was obliged to pretend sleep after it struck two or she would have gone on... Now that she sees me inclined to be off she wants to be on again. Said no more about the wrong but began to think she was throwing away her happiness and said she could not bear to part with me... She asked when she should see me again - I quietly said 'someday soon' and tho' she held me ten minutes kissing I left her immediately afterwards without shewing any of my usual reluctance to go... Went to my room for my hat and Miss W came to me and staid about an hour evidently courting me more as I court her less" (11-Dec-1832).

"Miss W very glad and much affected at seeing me - she thought it all at end between us and was overcome" (13-Dec-1832).

"Miss W told me in the hut if she said 'yes' again it should be binding, it should be the same as a marriage and she would give me no cause to be jealous" (14-Dec-1832).

"...sat on my knee while I grubbled her with my left middle finger. She owned she loved me - seemed more satisfied and happy than usual. Reconciled to go abroad and if our being together was all but certain" (14-Dec-1832).

"...she seemed wavering and I said the thing seemed now as uncertain between us as ever" (16-Dec-1832).

"I argued as usual - said I would [do] anything I could for her and would leave the thing open till the eleventh hour - asked if she would come and stay with me at Shibden - 'Yes' or go with me anywhere for a little while. 'What' said I, 'and run the risk of its ending in our being together?' - 'Yes' again. Had her on my knee and grubbled her more and better than before and on leaving her at Cliff Hill said many things were after all more impossible than her going away with me (to which she agreed)... She had before said she could live at Cliff Hill single if I was at Shibden and repeated that had not things been as they are I never could have such influence over her. She wants my services and time and friendship and to keep her money to herself... I left her with less care than ever and more resignation at being rid of her. I may use her person freely enough. I cease to respect and all my fine talk and professions of regard cost me less and trouble well. I half promised to go to her on Monday night - I shall see whether it will suit me or not. I am better without her and, talk as I may, will have no serious thought of her again" (22-Dec-1832).

"Did not sleep much last night smothered as usual under four great blankets. Grubbled her a little did not do it well enough or she was not much in humour for it so lay still. She thought me asleep but I was not. About two turned round and grubbled her again - rather better than before but stll not well - she said it had not been so agreeable to her for the last few times... Sat talking all the morning combatting her scruples and really thought I had made some impression and done her good till on going away and asking her to write and tell me how she was tomorrow she said 'Oh, no, she should be no better' and burst into tears and I left her thinking I never saw such a hopeless person in my life" (25-Dec-1832).

"Better today - talked till I had half persuaded her to say a serious 'yes' and go with me - her scruples seem abated. Grubbled her after our walk she saying nothing for or against but seeming not very anxious about my ceasing [to?][3] care for her. Talked of keeping on Lidgate for us to return to, her going to York and Langton[4] and our being of(f) on the last day of next month. Had before said if her answer was 'no' she might go with me to London which seemed to please her. She said she had been looking at the first note she ever had from me which she had carefully kept and it was dated the seventh November... This date seemed to have made a great impression on her. In fact tonight she was quite inclined for going and seemed to think more seriously of her word and the tie between us - but I attached in reality no importance to all this well knowing that tomorrow she might be all on the other side [of] the question" (26-Dec-1832).

"Miserable as ever - I tried to cheer her and make the best of her decision[5] but all in vain... Our going to York apparently at an end. Parted in tears - both of us, I saying I never did or could understand her. At all rates all had been her own doing. Attendri[6] as I returned in spite of myself and thought of going to her the first thing in the morning and not sending back her notes or Mr A's letters or his ring, but keeping all for the present or perhaps even till she married - but if I had her what could I do with her?.. This girl, without really having my esteem or affection, somehow or other unhinges me whenever I see her. Well! here is the end of another year! how different this new year's eve from the last!.. tho' in each case unsuccessful lovemaking" (31-Dec-1832).

"How different my situation now and this time last year - quite off with Mariana - Vere married and off at Rome, but we are and likely to be excellent friends - Miss W as it were come and gone, known and forgotten, and myself what I have never been before since fifteen: absolutely untied to anyone. I never stood so alone and yet I am far happier than I was twelve months ago, in fact happier than I have been of long. I, amused and reconciled to my loneness, I shall do some way or other. What adventure will come next? Who will be the next tenant of my heart? Providence orders all things wisely - 'For human weal heaven husbands all events'[7] - and if the clouds seem lowest now & then non si male nunc, et olim sic erit[8] (31-Dec-1832).

"Miss W was tearful as usual and I too attendrii. Wanted to cut her nails again but she said I must do it no more, yet I kissed her much as usual... there was her letter on the table for the post to her sister to say all was at end between us and she should not go to York, but when I said 'perhaps she might - I would see what I could do' she said she would do what I thought best... Miss W may cry as she pleases, I think she will get over the loss of me. How can she have much real feeling for me and do as she does and has done? She merely wanted to keep me dawdling on but feared, I think, my getting hold of herself and her money. May she do better - but seeing her always unhinges me. I was low and in tears at dinner and could not get her out of my head and why? For if I had her what could I do with her? It is far better as it is and I shall forget her by and by."

Low and tearful till thought of her only in the light of a mistress, and of the liberties I have been allowed (queer's hair I am to keep, etc.), till at last I incurred a cross about her as I sat and this set me into a more reconciled and cheerful train of thought" (1-Jan-1833).

"At Lidgate at 3 ¼. Miserable again, both in tears and owned ourselves wretched - she not knowing what to do.. was evidently going to say she would change and say 'yes' but in the midst Mrs & Mr Thomas Dyson & his friend, a Mr Cotton, called & staid about ½ hour... Then we had been roused and got more cheerful but soon in the pensive strain. However grubbled her, said it was a comfort to me - was happier for it. We could never go back to common acquaintanceship - she owned it a comfort to her at the time but romorse [sic] afterwards... no fear of her resolving to go with me and I shall soon be off and have done with it" (3-Jan-1833).

"Incurred a cross just before getting up thinking of Miss W as of a mistress. Her conduct yesterday, her easy yielding, has cured me. I shall not fret after her but amuse myself as suits me and be glad not to be tied. She will do well enough for me to amuse myself with" (4-Jan-1833).

" Lidgate at 4 - Miss W very glad to see me not having expected me today - but miserable and talk as usual and grubbled her" (4-Jan-1833).

"Incurred a cross just before getting up thinking of Miss (W?)".[9]

"Miss W today as usual and half inclined to go with me then doubting. Had thought of asking me to take her to Paris without any engagement between us which I got off. Talked as usual as if I should yet be glad to have her, but I should be taken in if she after all took me at my word - I am far better without her. Grubbled her and did it well and quickly this time" (5-Jan-1833).

" Lidgate & there at 4 ¼ - Miss W anxious for me to stay all night - sent James with little note to this effect to my aunt & to bring my night things - told her that if she asked me to stay she must understand I should take it as a confirmation of her promise. She tried to evade this but I said I would not stay unless she said 'yes' (to our living together) and she did say so and I staid" (6-Jan-1833).

"Slept ill as I always do at Lidgate with Miss W - not closed my eyes till after two... Touched her a little but it hardly amounted to grubbling. Before six heard her moaning and groaning - on my inquiry she said she had done wrong - her promise was from a wrong motive, from the fear of being left nothing but misery - I could not cheer her...

"Home at 5 ½... Note from Miss Walker Lidgate brought by two boys as follows: 'When I left you this morning I little thought how soon I should take up my pen. I do it as a last hope and in utter misery. What I said last night I bitterly repent, my promise was made from a bad motive, from a want of confidence in God. It is this that is the source of all my misery and wretchedness. It is not only death in this world but a far worse death that I fear. I wanted to tell you this today but I could not. I dare not wait till tomorrow for every hour is of consequence. If ever the prayers of so true a friend may avail for another may yours be heard for me this night, that the gate of mercy may not be for ever closed upon me for I am wretchedness itself. AW. I will walk to your hut tomorrow if the day be fine at ten o'clock.'

"'Why', said I to myself, 'this explains all' - the poor girl is beside herself. Wrote back the following: 'Shibden Hall, Tuesday evening, 8 January eighteen-hundred and 33. I am very glad you have written. I quite enter into all you tell me. I hope tomorrow will be fine and then I shall count upon seeing you at ten in the morning. Be assured of my saying and doing everything in the world I can to cheer and console you...'" (8-Jan-1833)

"We went together to the moss house & sat talking about 1 ¾ hour - she was in tears, had no hope for this world or the next. Reasoned with her as well as I could - said her belief was wrong, presumptuous, wicked, it was heresy, and now that we so differed on religious subiects there was an insuperable barrier between us... We walked to the Hall... sat about ½ hour with my aunt - then brought Miss W upstairs to see the library passage etc. & my room here took her on my knee grubbled her well and longish and she appeared to enjoy it and looked happier and said she was much better...
" Lidgate by 3 had rather made love, said how happy we might have been. What good going abroad would have done her. She might set her note of last night aside if she liked - she hesitated so I said 'well then, let it stand'. Asked if I might give her a ring - 'yes, if I pleased'. She was going to dress expecting Mrs Carter - would have me go upstairs with her and dressed and sat on my knee till Mrs C came and I then went away at five - said Miss W must not expect me tomorrow and Friday she goes to Huddersfield for Catherine Rawson. What could I do with Miss W? The sooner I am off the better" (9-Jan-1833).

"Note from Miss W...not well either in body or mind - 'I will try to gain comfort and consolation from what you said tho' I fear it is almost hopeless. If you can come either for an hour or to stay all night I shall be indeed glad to see you but do as you think best. AW.' wretched. I must write to her sister or get rid of all this some way" (10-Jan-1833).

"Note from Miss Walker between 1 & 2 - 'Had comfortable sleep till twelve last night then till three misery again - it is these hours of the night I so much dread and they make me feel afraid of going to bed. Oh my very dear friend if I could have more faith it would enable me to support better other afflictions. I hope you are better. Believe me yours, most gratefully and affectionately, A Walker'" (12-Jan-1833).

"Home at 5:05 - very soon after note from Miss Walker to say she had a worse night than usual last night 'I don't think I can go on much longer in this way' - asked me to stay all night... at Lidgate in 25 minutes at 5:50... Miss W glad to see me - not apparently worse than usual - my cheerfulness seemed to rouse her" (13-Jan-1833).

"Had made Miss W give up Mr Day's ointment and have her back clean - washed with hot water - last night and sleep with me over the kitchen - she came to me and I grubbled her at first and once afterwards in the night. She awoke for a few minutes twice then slept again and had really a good night. Not so I whose sleep was long in coming and disturbed and never sound - there was too much fire and she clung to me too closely, but it is evident I do her more good and have far more influence than anyone. Went with her to her room this morning and stood talking twenty minutes undressed" (14-Jan-1833).

"Note from Miss Walker this afternoon to ask me to go & stay all night - she does not seem much better - did not like having a bad night tonight and wanted to write to Lady Stuart so wrote to Miss W beginning 'it grieves me my love not to have seen you these two days'...... prevented yesterday and today would have gone tonight but obliged to write letter. Would be with her before or by eleven tomorrow morning. To cheer up I would invent something to do her good, she would be better by and by. Concluded with faithfully and affectionately yours" (16-Jan-1833).

"...long tête à tête with her in her room - despairing as usual and I tried to cheer her as well as I could - talked of going to York next week..." (17-Jan-1833).

"Off to Lidgate at 5 - Miss W wished me to stay all night... Miss W low as of late but always better on seeing me and while I am there - Miss Rawson a nice sensible girl" (19-Jan-1833).

"Slept with me over the kitchen without [a] fire and Miss W had an excellent [nig]ht - slept uninteruptedly after my grubbling her well but not too tediously and all at once. I slept or dozed better than usual but so that I heard her if she stirred. Miss Rawson kept me this morning saying Miss W would be worse as soon as I was gone we had a little tete a tete after breakfast and both spoke openly of Miss W's being not herself, I begging Miss R not to name it at home but let it be all hushed up as much as possible" (20-Jan-1833).

"Miss Walker & Miss Rawson called - Miss W tired, brought her upstairs & she lay down for ½ hour after sitting quarter hour on my knee - had doubted whether to come but better for the walk - in tolerable spir[i]ts but did not attempt to grubble her. On pretence of bring[ing] Miss R upstairs had a little talk - she said how uneasy and unhappy she was about Miss W who was quite out of her mind... charged Miss R to keep all as quiet as possible" (21-Jan-1833).

"Slept with me as on Saturday" (Feb 19) "and after a nice, not tedious, grubbling had as good a night - meant to have been up early but she kept me first grubbling her and then talking of her going till I got attendri...

(Ann) "said she ought to go" (to Scotland) "for my sake for if we were to be eventually together..." (22-Jan-1833).

"Miss W much as usual - wished me to stay all night, but I really could not - Why should I sacrifice time and sleep oftener than I can well help? She seems getting worse and will soon I fear be quite beside herself - she fears evil spirits at night and dare not sleep. Poor soul her mental misery must be great, feeling as she says it is all over, she has no hope of being saved" (24-Jan-1833).

"Miss W had had a bad night & was very poorly that is worse as to her mind, more despairing and beside herself. Very soon went with her to her room - she lay down and I sat by talking and reasoning which did her good for the moment while it lasted but no longer. Saw Miss R[awson] for a little while alone in her room - said I had written to hurry Captain S[utherland]. Miss W frightens her. I wish she was well off" (25-Jan-1833).

"Slept in the orange room as of late... she too despairing to come to her old place. No grubbling and she did not sleep so well - a little disturbed but I kept her in bed and she slept and snored afterwards" (27-Jan-1833).

"Miss W had wished me to burn her promise then repented having said so" (30-Jan-1833).

"2nd note from Miss W - 'I will try to get over the night tolerably and pray that the evil I fear may not come upon me but it is very different without you - how I long to see you...... yours faith[full]y and affectionately, Ann Walker.' Poor soul she is quite beside herself and I cannot stand all this long - I wish she was well off" (31-Jan-1833).

Back to GJ...

While all this is going on Anne is hedging her bets knowing that she might be travelling alone. A letter from Mariana recommending a new groom is used more or less word-for-word on GJ day 30: "...mentions a man that has lived 2 years with the Kinnersleys, a native of Lawton, 'a remarkably hansome fine looking young man' & from her account likely enough to suit me - 'understands horses & carriages but not driving & would much like to go abroad, has a good character, &, as far as words go, promises very fair'...'& I believe would be most glad to do anything in the way of making himself useful'..." (9-Dec-1832).

On GJ day 33 Catherine Rawson tells Anne how sorry she is to have believed all the rumours she's heard: "I've heard the worst things said about you Miss Lister...". Anne records in her diary the actual conversation: "I had told Miss R there were more capabilities about Miss W than she (Miss R) thought, but I now feared her mind would not hold out. Miss R said she used to think me all that was disagreeable and how wrong she was - she said what good I had done her and wept over the injustice she felt she had done me" (2-Feb-1833), followed by "Talk with Catherine who again wept over the injustice: had been told I was the most dangerous friend and the worst enemy" (4-Feb-1833).

In GJ Catherine Rawson is still at Crow Nest to see Ann off, but in fact she had to leave Lidgate on February 11. She was on good terms with Anne, even confiding in her about a personal problem: "Said if I saw Dr Belcombe I would speak of her complaint without naming her & if he said anything particular would write it to her mother - it is a three years' stoppage of her cousin[10] but there is no marked symptom of suffering from it".

On the 16th, Captain Sutherland arrives with his mother to take Ann to Scotland with them; the following day, after dinner at Lidgate, Anne gives her verdict: "I had been very sorry for myself in such company. Mrs S[utherland] vulgar which would have been sooner and more easily perceived had she been less quiet. She had dirty nails. Captain [Sutherland] good-hearted and well enough - obviously not a high-bred highlander... Thought I, well poor girl, what a set she is getting amongst" (17-Feb-1833).

On the 18th (GJ day 46), the day Ann is to leave with the Sutherlands, Anne opens her entry for the day thus: "Grubbled her last night - she on the amoroso and wanted to be nearer to me - that is have my drawers off - but I thought it better not. She would sleep in my arms and snored so shockingly I could scarce bear it. Gooded myself with the thought of its being the last night. She seemed as if she was going to leave all she liked best and could scarce have enough of me. Poor girl, she could hardly leave me in the morning and this made us so late. She was a little on the amoroso again - I touched and handled her and grubbled a little but would not do much".

Then in plain hand: "She had given me last night the little bible (society for promoting Christian Knowledge) promised me some time ago - having written on the fly leaf next the title 'February 18th 1833 Psalms 91.11.' and on the back (at the end) 'AW to AL'. I did not see this till tonight when I turned to the reference 'For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways' and the sight of this affected me. Poor girl, what a pity she has not more mind to be happy herself and make others so. She seemed to the last thinking of being back before I was off and of going with me - she said she should never let me leave England without her..."

Later that day Anne is alone with Mrs Sutherland while Ann and Captain Sutherland are visiting Aunt Ann at Cliffe Hill - much of the GJ dialogue on the steps of Crow Nest echoes the diary: "She asked if any love affair was on her mind. No. If she thought of Sir Alexander Mackenzie (Mrs S's nephew). No. I knew she did not like him. It came out he had offered to her on a three-days' acquaintance and thought at first he had reason to hope but she changed her mind. I said he must have mistaken her civility for something else - she was always civil. Mrs S said she refused him on the plea of having another attachment. He meant her to have paid his large debts - he had not a sixpence and besides had his mother and her family to keep. I said I thought Miss W would not marry to pay anyone's debts, nor ought she - surely Captain [Sutherland] would take care that proper settlements were made - she looked as if not expecting this. Poor girl, they want her for some of the kin if they can get her".

In GJ Mrs Sutherland says "He has been rather - I shouldn't say it - inept. With money" - and it seems that Alexander Mackenzie was a 'penniless rogue'. I haven't been able to find any information on him, so quote Anne Choma: "...Sir Alexander would would not have been a good catch at all for Ann Walker. He had a chequered army history. In 1831 he had asked for, and had been granted, special leave from the East India Company to 'settle' his public accounts. In 1832 he had been court martialled on a charge of disgraceful and insulting conduct towards his commanding officer, for the use of gross and indecent language...".[11]

Anne describes their final minutes together: "Miss W busy over 1 thing or other but seemed very low at going - said she would rather go with me - knew she should be miserable there as she was before - felt as if she should never come back yet smiled and rallied when I joked her about running after me. She seemed quietly bent on being back before June when she thinks I am to be off. At last I saw them off at 1 ¼ - Miss W & Mrs Sutherland inside & Captain S & James (McKenzie, Miss W's man servant) in the rumble[12] behind" (18-Feb-1833).

And then: "Heaven be praised, said I to myself as I walked homewards, that they are off and that I have got rid of her and am once more free" ...not quite the sentiment we see in GJ.

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Notes & Observations
[1] A word is missing here.
[2] Another planned visit to see Dr Belcombe.
[3] The actual coded text here is 'sssortof', which I can't make sense of.
[4] The home of the Norcliffes.
[5] Not sure which decision is being referred to.
[6] French: 'emotional'.
[7] Paradise Lost.
[8] 'If it is ill now, it will not also be so hereafter' - Horace.
[9] The coded text ends with 'Miss'.
[10] Anne's word for menstruation.
[11] 'Gentleman Jack: The Real Anne Lister' by Anne Choma (2019).
[12] Rumble seat.
Page updated 13-Oct-2020
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