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Peer Reviewed

“What a certainty of instinctive faith I have in heaven, and in the Mama’s living on”: Unpublished letters of Mrs. Gaskell and unpublished Gaskell family letters.

William Baker, Northern Illinois University

Letter 3


Church House | Knutsford | September 30

My dear Harry, If any of your most unreliable-for-information, — or-answers-to-questions family had ever told me near what town [Mapsplecock] was I should have written to you long ago. For don’t you know after any member of a family goes away, one always wants to carry on the habit of trivial communication, and the first week after you left hardly an hour passed without some reference to you, — “What would Harry say?” “I wish Harry were here!” “Remember to tell Harry that!” “What a success of Cook’s, What a pity Harry is not here to criticize, or to enjoy.

We implored for the name of Mapplearde’s post town,— all of no use. Till Florence sent us word you you were going off with the [Aibrins] to some mysterious place. Yes! and we located your address for our own private purposes last Thursday! After deep quiet & much rain at home, Marianne in Yorkshire, Julia at school,@ Mr Gaskell almost invisible, either in his study or out of the house, Meta & I, at his suggestion made a sudden start at 1/2 an hour’s notice into Wales last Thursday; and we did so want to know Mr Llewellyn Turner!@ We dashed (2nd class return) to Conway; had tea at the Castle, and went off to Pendyffryn@ for a second ‘genteel’ tea — (I always think it highly genteel to give one nothing to eat,) with her & many smart people who were staying in the house; I heard of Arthur Darbyshire’s@ engagement to Miss Ellen Taylor of Sharston; do you know her for I don’t. The next morning we saw all on the Castle Plas [Mawr] &c &c, I went to Llanrwst by rail, — Betwys.- y-Coed — on by outside of coach in beautiful drifting rain, and slanting sun shine & a triple rainbow against a purple-black cloud to Llanberis , — where we studied “Mr & Mrs. Crompton 89 Oxford Terrace London” in the book, with increasing wonder, admiration, and surprise, — scrambled about there on Saturday morning — went again thro the pass of Llanberis to Beddgelert, & just caught the coach to Caernavon,— coming down on the town & Straights in a silvery haze. There we longed for “Lleweleyn,@ — & went on the Castle, — & so to Bangor & across to the Brodies@ at Min-y-Gartle, & walked to Beaumaris, — & so here where we found a letter from Mr Gaskell, asking for your address that he might write & thank you for the rabbits & hares; which we hope to enjoy, if he has not been very greedy, in a day or two. — He says “I had one of the hares for dinner today which was very good.” And so are you, in your way for thinking so kindly of us; but why are you weak, and don’t you think you had better come to P.G.@ again? It strikes me that unless you are feeling strong enough to be out-of-doors (without over-fatigue), a great deal, you had much better be in worse air, [indecipherable word] agreeable Society” — and where will you find such agreeable Society as in that from which modesty forbids me to mention more plainly? Now do you think of this, dear Harry? and just come off straight away if you really feel that it would do you good. The “young couple” are at Llanstwan, as I dare say you know; got there 3 hours too soon, which was a mistake, & found all the preparations half-made ready. I will send you your mother’s note, & Florence’s too, — (you may burn both,) tho I dare say you will have heard all about them. W.d you like a little more gossip about the Townley affair? The Miss Goodwin who was murdered was brought up with a young man, & the two fell in love & were engaged. Then he took orders, & had no money, & her friends made her break it off, — & forced her (on dit [they say] ) to engage herself to a young Townley. & I hear the clergyman had living given him & sent to renew the old engagement — so she threw off Mr Townley, & re-engaged herself to the clergyman. But her family are disagreeable, — her father can’t be found. She was handsome. By the way I was nearly forgetting to tell you that Sophy Holland (Fred’s sister) came to us Thursday after you left, — & on Sunday night or Saturday morning (10 minutes past 1 am], the two set off from our house to go to the North of Scotland to a place the name of which can neither be pronounced nor spelt. And Fred left his snake to Meta, — who kept it in her bedroom, & is half afraid half-fond of it. It can’t be said that at present she has made much way into its affections for it sends out the bad smell which is its sign of dislike whenever she reverently strokes it. We have not seen Julia yet; but we hear she “is devoted to her labours.”

Mary (ci devant[former cook]@ is to be married tomorrow by Mr Gaskell, in Brook St Chapel.

Meta’s love to you.
Yours affectionately