Anne's diaries
"Might we not be happy?"

August 1816

Mariana's extended honeymoon

After Mariana's marriage to Charles Lawton in March 1816, Anne and Mariana's unmarried sister, Anne "Nantz" Belcombe, accompanied Mariana & Charles on an extended honeymoon until August 20. Unfortunately the journals for this period - apart from a few days from August 14 until August 18[1] - are missing. From August 20 until August 22 Anne and Nantz stayed with Dr Belcombe[2] in Newcastle-under-Lyme, only seven or eight miles from Lawton Hall, Anne getting back to Shibden on August 23.

Part of the index for August 1816:
Wed. 14Macclesfield - Buxton - teazing Anne
Th. 15Buxton - Crescent - Stables - Walks - Castleton - Speedwell mine - Ebbing & flowing well - excusing myself to Anne for my partiality to the ladies
Fri. 16Dull day at Buxton - Remarks on the place - contradicted all I said to Anne last night
Sat. 17Left Buxton - the bath charity - conduct to Anne
Mon. 19C[harles] afraid of being thought mad - Mr Stamford Caldwell dined with us - remarks on his manner & conversation - Anne let me look at her - a lock of twere's[3] hair
Tues. 20wrote Mariana a circular for her frien[d]s - M[ariana] fainted - left Lawton - went to Field House -
Wed. 21all but connected with Anne - Mrs Steph's opinion of Charles - Steph's dinner party -
Th. 22conduct to Anne - Mrs Steph shewed me Charles's incoherent note of mon. 29 July - Left Field House -
Fri. 23Newcastle [under-Lyme], Congleton, Wilmslow, Cheadle, Manchester, Rochdale, Halifax - My aunt Lister's scandal about Charles - Got to Shibden about 8 in the evening -
Then in September a reference, possibly the first in the diaries, to Ann:
Fri. 20Miss A Walker & Miss Atkinson, & my uncle & aunt Lister called -
Followed by a return call?
Thurs. 26Called at Crow-nest, Cliff-hill, Lightcliffe, & Mr Hudson's -

"I had no kiss. C- & M- were off in the gig by 8. Mr Lawton[4] being left at home, Anne & I had the carriage to ourselves, & were off about half past 8... We went to the Great Hotel - had a sitting-room downstairs, C- preferred it on account of seeing the people as they walked along the piazza - ordered dinner immediately, & devoured a brace of moorgame which were excellent, but dear (16s) in consequence of the moors being so strictly preserved - I fell asleep afterwards on the sopha, during which time, M- was very sick & almost fainted. C- sent for Dr Buxton, not at home - then for Dr [illeg] (now settled in London) late of Macclesfield, & originally an apothecary there which, from his appearance & manners, one has no difficulty in believing - Anne & Watson[5] had a double bedded room - I a tolerably good single one opposite - 10s per week - up I know not how many flights of stairs - All rather tired & went to bed early - Anne sat by my bed-side, & lay by me upon the bed till 3 in the morning - I teazing and behaving rather amorously to her, she would gladly have got into bed or done anything of the loving kind I asked her" (14-Aug-1816).

"I had a kiss.[6] The morning fair & tolerably fine but, towards noon, threatening rain - Walked out & saw the Crescent - stables - the church - the walks, & the town... We got back about 7 - all delighted with our day's excursion - C- hardly spoke as we returned & would have been very much hors de guerre"out of the fight" if we had not coaxed him out of it - He told us how faint & sick & quere[sic] he had felt in Speedwell mine - he thought he should have died while he was in the boat - It certainly was very vaultish, & the atmosphere not agreeable - Anne sat by my bedside till 2. I talked about the feeling to which she gave rise. Lamented my fate. Said I should never marry; could not like men; ought not to like women. At the same time apologizing for my inclination that way. By diversarchaic spelling arguments made out a pitiful story altogether and roused poor Anne's sympathy to tears" (15-Aug-1816).

"I had a kiss. A very rainy day & Buxton looked very dull - Took a few turns every now & then under the Piazzas... Anne came into my room at night & staid perhaps an hour - I contradicted all I said last night, argued upon the absurdity and impossibility of it and wondered how she could be such a gull as to believe it. She said she had really been very sorry for me and said she thought I hardly behaved well to make such a fool of her. I begged pardon etc, etc." (16-Aug-1816).

"I had a kiss. Wet morning - took a turn or two under the Piazzas - they brought us in the subscription book to the Buxton bath Charity & the School of Industry - We all, as I believe is universally done by everybody, put down our names, & gave a shilling a piece to each - the bath Charity is, as its name imports, in[sic] behalf of those who could not otherwise afford to have the benefit of the waters - Every subscriber of one shilling (observe he must have been at Buxton in the course of, or within the year, as there is no putting down names by proxy) may recommend & send one poor person whom the governess of the Charity will provide board & lodging, medical attendance, medicines, bathing & the waters gratis..." (17-Aug-1816).

The diary is interrupted here, the pages until October 18 being missing - which is a terrible shame: I'd love to know what happened over the next few days, and to read about Ann's visit in September.

[1] The volume for this period exists, but the pages from midway through the entries from August 17 until October 18 have been lost - although the index does provide some information.
[2] Dr Belcombe (the Belcombe sisters' brother) lived at Field House, which had been owned by his wife's family.
[3] Is this the word Anne used (for vagina/vulva) before she adopted "queer"?
[4] Charles' older brother William.
[5] According to The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister - I Know My Own Heart by Helena Whitbread, Watson was Mariana's maid.
[6] I think that this and the following days' entries are references to masturbation, before she started to use "incur a cross". She doesn't get her "first kiss of Anne" until November.
Page updated 28-Jan-2021
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