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Consequences: Chapter 28

...Today is my birthday, and I am 20 years old. A new decade to look forward to, or so Charles says, but I am so down in the depths of unhappiness that I find it hard to believe that I was ever happy and carefree...

Moralistic neighbours are shunning poor Mary Walker, whose new baby daughter was conceived out of wedlock.

Jean Day's novel, set in Dickensian times when the middle and upper classes were quick to condemn, is a most engaging read. For earlier chapters please click on Consequences in the menu on this page.

Mary’s Journal

November 1st
Charles says we must make plans to have Mary Christened. He suggests that we do it November 27th, when she will be nearly three months old. That is also our day for having the care of Mary ourselves, so it will be useful to have others around. He says we must have a party afterwards and invite our relatives and friends.

“If they shun us and refuse to come, then so be it,” he says. He thinks that it is important that we get on with our lives, and until I get over this fear I have of being ostracised, it will never happen. He treats me so much more coldly now than he did when we were first married. It is almost as if he loves me less and certainly again, he seems to be blaming me for everything, rather than admitting that at each stage of our planning, he was hand and hand with me, except for the end result which was his doing entirely.

November 5th
Received notes from two of Charles’ Aunts in York which are barely polite. I wonder how they are treating my parents. I wrote home with undisguised unhappiness about our situation.

November 8th
Today is my birthday, and I am 20 years old. A new decade to look forward to, or so Charles says, but I am so down in the depths of unhappiness that I find it hard to believe that I was ever happy and carefree. Charles bought me a lovely vase.

I didn’t feel up to going out to the theatre as Charles had planned for last weekend, but we went walking today and were overtaken by a tremendous hailstorm; the hail lying two or three inches deep. The very sharp frost had made the streets and roads sheets of glass, and very dangerous to walk on. It was miserable. The weather seems to mirror my mood.

November 10th
Charles had words with me today regarding my spending. He takes very meticulous care of the household accounts, and of course I have my allowance to spend on necessary food and such like, but it never seems to be enough. He has taken me through our spending so that I will have more regard for our money.

His salary is now £12.0.0. per month or £144.0.0 per annum.

We pay £2 per month rent for this house, which seems a lot, but it is furnished and in a very pleasant area. He paid for 8 months rent which comes to £16.

We get coal very inexpensively as Charles’ company deal in it, but we still have to add £4 for the yearly cost.

Charles reckons we spend about £60 a year on food and household supplies. We manage to do well out of our garden for vegetables and fruits, but we have to buy flour, butter, cheese, eggs and milk as well as porridge and rice, dried fruit, ale and whisky, coffee, cocoa and tea, condiments and spices, and cleaning supplies. I didn’t manage to convince Charles to try fish, so that is one expense we don’t have to add in. Charles has allotted me £5 a month since June to pay for our extra food, which normally is sufficient, if I don’t want to be extravagant.

Before we were married Charles paid Mrs. Griffin 12 shillings a month for board and room. He was there for four and a half months, so that works out at £2.12.0. He only needed to pay for one quarter’s washing bill as his aunt didn’t charge him after the end of March, so that came to 10 shillings.

We pay £2.0.0 per annum for city taxes, which includes the water and night soil disposal. It also pays for the street lighting in the parts of town that have it. We need to pay 3/4 of that, even though we didn’t take over the house until May but the charges are made on a quarterly basis, with no reduction for parts of a quarter.

The wet nurse, Ella gets 1 shilling a week now, but she had 1 shilling and 6 pence for the first few weeks, and we shall continue having her for several more months. That is about £1/1/0 for the period she has been here up to the new year. Sarah’s salary is about £10 per annum, plus room and board and we hired her in October so that will be £2.10.0 for this year. I feel she should be paid more than that as she is invaluable to us, but Charles insists that we stay with the prescribed rate. And she eats our food.

Another problem next year is that we will be liable to pay income tax. We are below the threshold this year. Tax starts with an income of £150 and with Charles’ expected pay raise of 10 shillings a month next year, that will take us over.

Because of his trips to York in January, February and April as well as our wedding and honeymoon in May, we have spent a great deal on travel, including hotels and inns for the honeymoon. Charles worked it out that we had spent £25, not including our little gifts we bought to remember the occasion.

I insisted on new curtains for the bedroom and drapes for the living room which came to £5.0.0.

The extra expenses for dealing with the baby have come to £2.0.0 in this very short time that she has been with us.

Because he had helpers in the garden when he was away, he reckons we spent about 10 shillings on it this summer. We did not sell any of the excess, as I was able to preserve it all in one way or another.

The items which are listed as sundry include little presents like our new Chamberlain’s charger, and various other gifts we have given each other, as well as small extra expenses for such things as cigars which Charles has occasionally, and special treats.

The cost for magazines and books comes to approximately £6 per annum. But neither of us would want to do without those.

Charles had a new shirt, waistcoat and tie for the wedding which cost him £2.0.0. I haven’t had any new clothes since I have been married, and my expenses before that were to my father’s account, not Charles.

We spent so far with adding in the estimates for the remaining months of the year, over £130. I feel that is not so bad, considering the huge expense of the honeymoon which will not be recurring in other years. But Charles would like to have extra money saved from this year to pay the increasing costs of having an older child, and paying for the house rent year round rather than just for a fraction of a year as we did this year. And he intimates that we may have another child by then. I shudder at the thought. He is a worrier, but I know that I just have to let him do as he wishes. He is the head of the family and thus needs to be in charge. I will try not to have any more little treats for awhile.

November 15th
I never get invited out, and no one ever calls on my “At Home” days. This both upsets me and relieves me, as I don’t feel I have the energy to be pleasant to anyone. Having so much time on hand, as the nurse deals with Mary and I have only slightly more work to do than before, I will practice with some new receipts for Charles’ supper. I will make a pudding in a bag using oatmeal and cheese and steaming it. It is the sort of pudding that one normally makes with sausage meat, but I hope it will work for me in this new way.

November 25th
Charles is very excited about the publication of a new book by Charles Darwin called The Origin of the Species which argues that organisms gradually evolved through natural selection. The book was sold out immediately. Trinity College at Cambridge have banned it.

Charles says he thinks much of what Charles Darwin says makes good sense, and he doesn’t feel it is fair to consider him an agnostic. This is what Charles Darwin has said regarding his views of the origin of man according to what Charles has read.

“There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the ichneumodidae (wasps) with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see a necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed.

On the other hand. I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am included to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me. I feel most deeply that this whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton: Let each man hope and believe what he can. Certainly I hope that my views are not at all necessarily atheistical. The lightning kills a man, whether a good one or bad one, owing to the excessively complex action of natural laws. A child (who may turn out an idiot) is born by the action of even more complex laws, and I can see no reason why a man, or other animal, may not have been aboriginally designed by an omniscient Creator, who foresaw every future event and consequence. The more I think the more bewildered I become…”


November 27th
Charles came home with 2 new shirts – which he says he asked Adelaide to make for him. I was angry. He berates me for spending too much money, and then hires someone to do a job I am very capable of doing. Does he think I am not an adequate seamstress? I made my wedding dress, the curtains; does he think they are not of sufficient quality? Why does he keep wanting to spend time with her?

November 28th
Yesterday was the Christening. We held it after the regular morning service at St. Martin’s Church. We had sent invitations to 30 of our closest friends and relatives inviting them around for tea and cake afterwards. We had seemingly polite responses regretting they must decline – from 20 of them. But in a spirit of solidarity, Charles’ Father and Aunt Ann and her children came down from York for the weekend. Luckily we have many relatives with large houses to put them all up. My mother and sister also came, and my mother brought the family Christening robe of cambric which has a pin-tucked front with tiny flowerets embroidered on yoke and tucked ruffles on the lower edge. The yoke, sleeves, and bottom ruffle are trimmed in finest lace. Mary looked a very fine baby.

My father and brothers could not leave the Inn for the weekend. They have nearly secured the sale of it to the new owner, but he will not take over properly until January 1st. He is coming in regularly to learn the running of it from my father. Being a toll keeper for the past ten years, he had no experience of running an inn. He has no children and only his wife to help him run it, but they will no doubt keep on many of our part-time staff. Mother and Father have found a house to buy in Clifton, to the northwest of York and where we have several relatives living. It is also where Charles’ Uncle Charles lives and CG and his family with them. Father’s house is large enough for the boys and Elizabeth to each have their own rooms. I don’t know what Father will do with himself when he stops work. He says he is looking forward to it, but he had hardly a day free in his entire life. How is he going to cope with unlimited free time?

The ceremony was short and to the point. The Rector did his part, but his wife was noticeable by her absence, despite being specifically invited. Mary was as usual very good and didn’t cry when the cold water was poured on her head. I was very relieved that my friends Sophia and Emily with their husbands and families came, and they treated me with kindness. Perhaps we can continue our friendship after all. Sophia expects her baby early in the new year so it will be potential play friend for Mary in years to come.

We had Christening cake and tea back at our little cottage – which was filled to overflowing by the guests. It is just as well everyone didn’t come as they would not have all fit in and the expense is halved as well, which Charles will be pleased about.

Many brought presents for Mary – Christening mugs, rattles, teething rings, a bible and such like. Mary was as quiet and good as she always is. And I must admit she did look quite sweet in her Christening robe. Elizabeth was her godmother, so she held her during the ceremony, but I held her quite a bit too, more so than I normally do, and I didn’t find it as worrying as before. It turned out that the Christening coincided with Sarah’s full day off, but with so many relatives around, we had all the help we needed with her, and it wasn’t as much as a problem as I was anticipating.


November 29th
Charles left yesterday for a few days work in Ludlow and Leominster. In a way it is a relief not to have him here making me feel guilty. Sarah and I get along swimmingly and she doesn’t make me feel guilty.

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