In Her Own Right

Letter from Mary Elizabeth Garrett to M. Carey Thomas, June 12, 1891

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Date created 1891-06-12
Creators Garrett, Mary Elizabeth, 1854-1915
Description Dearest Minnie, I hope you got my cable yesterday, for I hate to have you so long without news of me. I am to blame, and yet not so much to blame as I seem, for not having written for so long, for again and again I have sat down to write and have been able to get through only a business note or two and then have had to give up, or a number of times, have had to give up, without beginning. A few notes have of course had to be written to people here answering visitations, but of home and friendly letters I have written hardly any. The Sunday after I wrote you last I was so perfectly wretched in the morning that I did not attempt to write even a line, and stayed in bed till the last possible moment, expecting to get back by 5:30 or 6 at latest. The afternoon before I was taken sick, nearly a week too soon and having to make one or two visits in the afternoon and go out to dine in the evening, did not help me to feel mighty. The dinner was at Mr. J.B. Potter’s, and the other guests were Miss Cobden, Mrs. Sickert (her sister) and her husband, Mr. Carew, a Parnellite, who was one of the those imprisoned and would be there now if he had not been so ill that they had released him, and Susan Travers. The young wife is only 35, but was a friend of the first one, nursed her through her last illness and talks of her most affectionately and is very thoughtful of the old man. That Sunday both Susan and I lunched with the Cobdens, Mr. [illegible] the head of an Anglo Mabourstan College in India, and a Quaker or rather ex-Quaker M.P. from the North being there. The former very attractive. After lunch we 3 ladies took the train and went to Hammersmith first to Mrs. Sparling’s (the Morris’s daughter May) then to the Morris’s, where we made Mrs. M. a long visit, spending part of the time walking in the garden and the last half hour in the dining room with Mrs. Morris and three of Rossetti’s portraits of her, the one in the place of honor over the fireplace being the one with the wonderful blue dress. Both Susan and I fell under her spell, wonderful she still is, although looking broken and ill and unutterably sad. Their other daughter, who they say is very pretty and attractive, has epilepsy and it has increased terribly of late so that for many months now she has been away from home. The strain of her illness has broken down Morris, who was very sick, but is now better, and has told very much upon Mrs. Morris, whose health has been wretched for years, ever since the birth of this daughter in fast. At about 8 we got back, very tired, but feeling that it had been worth getting tired for. I was however too used up to do anything but lie down and found it hard work to get up and get ready in time to take the 3 o’clock train on Monday for Mansfield. We had been planning to go ever since Miss J.’s arrival, but the weather had been too hopelessly bad to think of the country until a day or two before, when we decided to risk it. We spent two days there, getting back late Wednesday evening, and found it well worthwhile. The first morning we spent at Newstead Abbey and found it both much more interesting and much more beautiful than I at least expected, the gardens very lovely, although the rhododendrons which should have been in their glory, were only just beginning to bloom, and Byron’s rooms being preserved [sic]. In the afternoon we drove to Hardwicke Hall and Bolsover Castle and had a tremendous thunderstorm by way of variety. The next day we went to Wilbeck Abbey, which was terribly depressing in itself, but the drive very beautiful, and wound up with Clumber. We ought to have had another day for the Forest (Sherwood) but Miss J. had to get back as she was to leave on Friday and the weather was not very tempting on the whole. Thursday I did again nothing but rest, except leaving one or two cards and going in one or two errands in the afternoon with Susan, because I wanted the air and was too tired to either read or write. On Friday we went out to Windsor, Mrs. Sickert and Mrs. (Several) Custes going with us, as Miss J. had got a special permit for the private rooms, it was a perfect Spring day and we did not attempt to do very much, so that it was a success. We took the 11 o’clock train, went through the rooms, hideous in themselves, but with a few interesting pictures and lovely views, then after lunch divided, Mrs. Custer and I driving out to Stoke Pogis on a pilgrimage to Gray’s Churchyard and the others going back to the Palase and we joining them on the train at Slough. We again had a heavy storm in the afternoon, but were none the worse for it, except that of course all this bad weather was not helpful to rheumatism. Susan dined with me and while we were at dinner, Mr. Genge de B. Kein and his daughter who had just come to the hotel to stay came to ask me to go to the theatre with them. Miss J. left for Paris at 7:30 and I went with them to see Hare in a truly British comedy which they had been told was extremely good and which was very well acted. The next day I did nothing except go for a very little while to the Academy with Miss K. who had not been and wanted to go to the city in the afternoon and run one or two errands and in the evening to the opera with the Keins again. They were staying at Brown’s and were so very kind to me and we lunched and dined together usually and I went out with them in the evening. That night it was Lohengrin, with a very good cast, but there seemed to me to be an immense difference between it and the New York performances. On Sunday I did not intend to go out at all, but I found as so often before that I could do nothing if I stayed in and thought perhaps the air would help, so Mr. and Miss K. and I went in the afternoon on a most interesting expedition following out the line of London Wall partly, then going to the charter house and all through it, to St. Giles Cripplegate where as you of course know Milton is buried and Cromwell was married, and to Burnhill Fields. I never had done any of this before and enjoyed it extremely and all the more because Mr. K. knows a great deal about London and has read much. I got back only in time for an hour’s rest before going to the Cobden’s for tea, as they had asked me to come ‘if I was not tired of them’. To my surprise and great pleasure I found Mrs. Morris there and again Mr. Beck and one of his pupils, Sultan Ahmed, who has come to England with his brother to spend 3 years in study and has already begun to eat his dinners in the Temple. On Monday Mr. Johnston lunched with us and left just in time for me to get to the city before 4 and do one or two errands and rest before driving with the Keins to meet two friends of their and go to the opera with them, the new one of “Manon” this time with Sybil Sanderson as Manon and not amounting to much. Tuesday afternoon I had to attend to something for Miss Travers, then to pay a visit and get back for 5, when I had promised to be at home. Mr. Sylvester appeared to my surprise, the first time he had been in London since my arrival and paid quite a long visit, being quite interested in my visitors, who were the lady whom I had met at dinner the night before, an American living in London (who by the way was staying in Balto. last year and was at my reception!), Miss Cobden, Mr. Beck and his two Indian pupils and Miss Kein. Miss Cobden stayed till 7. She is very distressed that their County Council bill was not brought up in the House of Lords. That night I tried my old plan of taking a nap, hoping to wake up fresh enough to write, but I couldn’t even gather together the books and papers I wanted to bring and had to go to bed. In the morning I had to attend to a few things before leaving the Hotel at 1, the Keins going down to the station with me. I was in bed by a little after 11 that night and hoped that the absolute quiet of the country (I spent the night with the Johnston’s in Cheshire) would make me feel quite ready for all the writing I ought to do in the morning. I had none than 3 hours of undisturbed quiet after breakfast, but wrote nothing but telegrams and cables and some cheques, spending the rest of the time on a sofa. Rather than let things go on this way again, I will follow your suggestion of sending postals, but the trouble is I always hope that tomorrow it will be different and that I shall certainly be able to send a letter then and that I had better at least wait and try to send a letter by the next steamer instead of an apology for one by this. The beginning of our trip was perfectly ideal in regard to wind and weather. We sailed at 2 o’clock from Rock Ferry, on the Cheshire side and made our first halt at Oban on Friday, getting there about 3 o’clock. I missed part of the most beautiful scenery that morning by my usual fate at sea. I simply couldn’t keep awake and took a long nap. In the afternoon we all went on shore and walked through the town and some distance beyond it, getting back from our expedition only in time for an 8 o’clock dinner. Both that night and the night before the sunsets were wonderfully beautiful and these long twilights have a very great charm. Last night you could see to read distinctly on deck at 11:30. Yesterday we had stormy weather all. The moderate breeze becoming a shift one as we neared our harbor and we raced in with a whole fleet of fishing boats making for the [illegible] of the harbor of Stoenoway where we are now (Sunday 11:40 A.M.) and are likely to stay until tomorrow night, as the storm still continues and we shall not attempt to cross to Norway until the weather is better. Last night it nearly cleared and we hoped today would be fair, but the true Scotch mist haunts us. 6 P.M. The rain stopped and we went on shore for a walk, getting back in time for an early dinner. As usual the walk tired me, so that I went to sleep after dinner, only being waked by the tea-bell and now have only time to close this for them to take on shore. Now that I have caught up in my account of things to you, I feel more hopeful about writing, but it has been done at the cost of a decided headache. I do hope your next letter will bring better accounts of you. You must be simply worn out. I thought of you much on the closing day and wished very much that I could be there to see you in the becoming bonnet and to assist at all the proceedings. Anything that would be likely to reach me by the 10th July mail to Care Wm. Johnston and Co., 21 Water St, Liverpool, and after to Brown, Shipley and Co. as before. Goodbye with much love, Yours, Mary E.G.
Size 18 pages
Type text
Subjects Thomas, M. Carey (Martha Carey), 1857-1935 | Garrett, Mary Elizabeth, 1854-1915 | Female friendship | Women--Education | Voyages and travels
Geographical location Blue Ridge Summit (Pa.)
Language English
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Contributing institution Bryn Mawr College
Rights This work is believed to be in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States. For more information, see