« Mee Sing | Main | A Caution Against Complacency »

Consequences: Chapter Thirteen

...Charles plans on wearing a morning coat – with a blue flower in the lapel, a white waistcoat, dark grey trousers and a black top hat. His folded cravat of will be in a shade of blue to match my dress and he will wear lavender gloves (made by his Uncle Richard) stitched in black...

While Mary Eagle, who is expecting a child, is busy with her wedding plans, her betrothed Charles Simpson Walker pursues his career and looks out on the developing world of 1859.

... Charles keeps informing me of the goings on in the world. Apparently ground has been broken for the Suez Canal. Charles gets very excited about these things...

Jean Day's novel, inspired by a diary kept by Charles Simpson Walker, vividly recreates the social mores of 150 years ago. To read earlier chapters click on Consequences in the menu on this page.

Mary's Journal

April 25th
We have started getting responses back regarding the attendance at our wedding. Most of those invited have accepted, so it looks as if we will be having at least 60 at the wedding. We have finally finished making my dress, and it does look lovely. Mother very cleverly showed me how to make tucks and pleats in the skirt which can be let out as need be. We have also taken out some of the boning in my corsets – so it is now 7 rather than 13 pieces. I have nearly assembled all my clothes for taking with me to my new home. I also have my bottom drawer of linens which I have been embroidering for the past 10 years with this very time in mind. I am so pleased that I will be able to hang my sampler that I have spent years making at a place of importance in our parlour. I have also made a quilt for our bed.

Mother went through her old trunks in the attic and found several of her dresses. She said, “These might suit as I wore them when I was pregnant and they can be brought up to date by adding new collars and under sleeves. The style in those days was much higher in the waistline and they will be more comfortable to wear for later on in your pregnancy.”

I have several bonnets and cloaks and have bought new shoes for the wedding and to wear for best afterwards.

Charles plans on wearing a morning coat – with a blue flower in the lapel, a white waistcoat, dark grey trousers and a black top hat. His folded cravat of will be in a shade of blue to match my dress and he will wear lavender gloves (made by his Uncle Richard) stitched in black.

While I am busy planning our wedding, Charles keeps informing me of the goings on in the world. Apparently ground has been broken for the Suez Canal. Charles gets very excited about these things, but I must admit that my mind is so full of my wedding that the rest of the world seems immaterial to me.

May 1st
Quiet day today indoors but in the evening it was stormy and cold. During the day we had rain, hail and snow falling. I can only pray that this is a short storm and will soon be over.

May 5th
I felt the child within me stir for the first time today. I wish Charles had been here to feel it too. It felt like butterflies trapped inside me. I have tried to pretend this baby is not real, but now I cannot deny its existence. I also cannot deny that I am looking forward to having a baby to hold in my arms. But we have yet to work out the details of how this thing will be handled so as to minimise the scandal.

May 19th
I expect this is the last time for some time that I will be able to write in my journal. So much needs to be done yet. We have the rooms to ready for the guests, the decorations, flowers and the food to organise for the breakfast. Cook has done much of the preparation already, but Mother and I will set the tables for the reception. The service at church will be at 12 noon, and then the guests will come back here. We will have a reception line in the hallway. I think Charles has arranged to have a daguerreotype picture taken of us after the wedding; his great friend William Bellerby will do it. He did one of Charles back in 1851 which will be another picture we will take from his father’s house and display in our new home. All the flowers are arranged and the gowns are pressed and ready to be worn. Aunt Thackeray will come on Friday morning to arrange my hair. I can hardly believe that it is all happening, and that soon I will be in truth a married woman.

I wonder what surprises Charles has for our honeymoon. He said to leave it all to him but that he was sure I would be pleased. Charles also thought it was appropriate that the bell of Big Ben will be activated again on Saturday, just after our wedding. He is full of bits of information. He has heard that Titus Salt from the village called Saltaire that he created for his mill workers has become the MP for Bradford. Charles is very interested in the work Mr. Salt has done and went to see the village last year. He has created a whole perfect village with school, hospital, church, social centre and shops for his mill workers; he is indeed a benevolent employer.

Charles’s Diary for May

Letter from Mary keeping me up with those who have accepted for the wedding; It appears to be much as we expected & will make a full house.

Yesterday dined & spent the rest of the day at Mr. Needham's, playing draughts with Miss Maria Needham who is now 20 & a very good looker & after with Mr. Needham. Uncle Charles wrote saying truly the water we drink here is very impure being impregnated with the soaking of the cess-pools about the wells.

Aunt Hy with myself up at Wilson’s in the evening.

Letter from Ned Thackray this morning; his health is better; feels a bit ensnared in the cab business, his father having taken over the half share of Father’s cab company when Uncle Henry died & Aunt Ann felt she could not manage; what Ned needs is a wife; perhaps Mary will have some ideas for him. He looks forward to seeing us at the wedding.

I was quiet indoors last night, writing & squaring our cash a/c's up; my cash in hand being "beautifully less" than I had imagined.

Letter from Mary yesterday saying she can feel the baby moving. Somehow makes it all seem real now; soon she will be my wife & I so much look forward to that day. Yesterday a man named Rogers called at the office (Mr. N being from home since Tuesday - down at Nottingham) & wished to engage with me for the removal of 150 to 200 tons Hay & Timber to B'ham, from Bucknalls of Hallow saying he had seized the whole of the Farm in execution, sent Bromley over; found Rogers was the head of a gang of fellows who get up false writs, seize & dispose of what property they can thus obtain; a new mode of plunder.

Wrote to Father last night re: future home. In town today; Deighton's ordered Illustrated London News for tomorrow, sent last week's home. Letter from Mr. Needham.

Up at garden on Rainbow Hill conveniently close to new house. It will surely prove an advantageous investment of my labour & money now that I will have a family to feed. The perennials are coming along nicely; planted cucumbers, lettuce, radishes, etc.

Wrote to William Bacon & then had a walk up the Tolladine Road, cross Gas Hill & back by Rainbow Hill, afterwards went up to Boughton & had tea with them.

Jones & I after calling at my lodgings walked up to Groves on Lark Hill calling at Wilson’s by the way & returning again to my lodgings.

Last night at Athenaeum to exchange Art Union & on to Jones' to borrow his Harries Life of Napoleon; looking thru part of illustrations in evening. Letter from Ned Thackray, relative to fowls & their treatment & to his desire to visit Worcester again; no one would be heartier welcome to both Mary & me when we are settled & we will tell him so; hopefully we can help him find a soulmate.

Mr. Barnesley came in; being over here from Manchester for a few days; he looks well; Discussed with him possibility of meeting up with Gaskells during honeymoon. He promised to look into it; also to arrange for theatre tickets. Moonlight - clear. Mr. Needham at Birmingham to-day, having driven his mare over in the phaeton - 56 miles- & does it again with her on Monday.

Walked in Pitchroft as far as the Grand Stand & home by the Butts by 10. Looking over "Napoleon" last night & finishing Volume 1. I am reading during the spare time I have - George Burrows Lavengns – Paid garden rent to Mr. Charles Parsons of Mealcheapen & he has put it up to £3.10.0 per annum payable every 25th March & 25th Sept. Still good value. Surprise party for me as this is the last weekend I will be a single gent. Adelaide Hilbourne was there with eyes & hair of ebon blackness; the eyes brilliant & expressive; the development of a Venus & clear ruddy complexion; shortly after the other ladies entered, blazes of beauty! Maria Alforth, quite sweeping one away, she looked so irresistible. Miss Agnes Bullock dressed in excellent taste, was quite blooming & Eliza was arrayed with unusual grace; games, forfeits, acting & other amusements, spending the time pleasantly; we had dancing & then charades in which Eliza at once, tho her first attempt, made herself at home; "cham-pagne" was one word & Harry played well in it; Eliza making a splendid chambermaid; also "Inn-0-cent". Tea passed & the ice thawed, everything pleased; cards came on; Jones arrived; then followed games at forfeits of all descriptions; then quadrilles etc. Harry playing; then some noble charades, Harry, Eliza, Agnes & John forming one party & Jones, Adelaide, Maria & I the other. Harry's party played "Lap-pet" well; Harry and Eliza played with spirit; all good except the full word; we played "A-dore" & it took well; the hedge school in the 1st scene making a sensation. dancing again & games until 1/2 past 4 in the morning & then to bed; everyone staying; 4 ladies in one room; Harry & John & Jones & I the other; we breakfasted together; all left except Eliza, Maria, John & Jones & we all dined together & in the evening we all (except Agnes) renewed the party till tea; then saw them home; a party of 29 hours duration.

More at garden last night. Put in a few kidney, scarlet & dwarf beans & showed Kemble the work I have planned out for him; also quantity of manure for hot bed etc. In town this afternoon, Deightons, Chaplins etc. & in evening walked up High St. Jones & I at Hilbournes last night.

After work early today and got the 5.35 train for York, staying with Father tonight. Tomorrow I will be a married man; we will have a short rehearsal at the church this even.

Wonderfully warm & beautiful day; it will be a busy time, so don’t expect to be writing much in my diary for awhile. My love is about to become my wife; what joy!


Creative Commons License
This website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.