Saturday, March 26, 2011

Old Mrs. Wallen 3

“...One of my schoolfellows, a daughter of Dr. Gordon in Jamaica, was a relation of Westmacott the sculptor, and she got him to select and purchase a present for the Babingtons. It was a very solid silver inkstand and an inscription under the candlestick, The night it was presented they gave us a supper. When the Miss Rawlings had been about six months they made the pupils discontented by making a good many changes and there was much grumbling about it and my cousin and many others left. She was placed at Miss Fellowes who only took twelve young ladies, and they were treated as if they were her own family. I was made to sleep with a girl that was sickly and that I did not like. A friend of Uncle John’s, a Mr. Panton, brought his wife and children to England to place his little daughter at school. He had known me at St. Vincent and I had often been at his house. He called to see me and invited me to stay with them on a visit, and my cousin and also with her brother Tony. They were very kind, took us out one day to see the different sights—the British Museum, Panoramas, and in the evenings to Astleys and Sadlers Wells. I told Mrs. Panton how I hated the school since my cousin left and she advised me to write to my father and ask him to let me be at school with my cousin. My letters, of course, were always read by my schoolmistress, so I took Mrs. P.’s advice and wrote to my father about it, and he at once made arrangements with Mr. Constable to place me with Miss Fellowes. So I was invited to his father’s house for a week after leaving Whitelands before I went to Miss Fellowes in Cadogan Place. She had a French mistress who was always with us, French master twice a week, English master for writing and arithmetic and the use of the Globes and reading. A dancing mistress, daughter of Oscar Byrne, an African dancer—a music master, Krailmark, a composer, twice a week, singing mistress once a week. My cousin had lessons on the harp and I on the Guitar. We were sent to walk in the Square for two hours every day with the governess unless it rained heavily. I got a prize from the English master, the only one he gave, and also the French master had never given any but me, two volumes handsomely bound of Fontaine’s plays which I gave Sam Wallen when he left for Trinidad as he was going to study French on the voyage. My aunt John arrived in London to take her 2 eldest boys from school. Charles Fox from Winchester and Tony from school at Chelsea. She had my cousin and myself for a few days before they left for St. Vincent. I was very fond of Anthony. He was such a handsome merry fellow and he came every 2nd Sunday to see us at school. Colonel Jackson (Militia) Tatelle’s godfather (who gave her a present of a little black girl) called at my aunt’s lodgings and insisted on taking us all to one of the theatres. My aunt thought it was not one of the best theatres but did not wish to offend him, so we went and enjoyed ourselves very much. My aunt was shopping all day, taking out beautiful things to my cousins. Miss Fellowes took me to the Isle of Wight for my summer holidays. She went with her mother and sister and a Miss Cadett, whose father was a planter in Trinidad and had been at the school for a great many years. The lodgings were at Ryde. I preferred leaving my allowance andgetting it all when the holidays commenced. Poor Miss C. never got any, alth’ her father was very rich. We two went every morning to the Beach. I wd. buy biscuits or bread and cheese, and we had books from the library. I had engaged a machine to bathe sometimes. I persuaded Miss C. to come to bathe. She did not like me paying for her. She was very proud and so clever. She was white, only her hair a little curly but I was told her mother was black. We sometimes went to the woods we called Apley, such a lovely place. One day Miss Fellowes got a conveyance and took us to see the ruins of Carisbrooke Castle, and we had lunch at a farm near there. Another day we went to Netley Abbey. In the winter holidays Miss Fellowes [went] to her father’s house in Aldergate St. In the city it was anything but pretty and cheerful, but Miss Fellowes allowed us to go to a Library and choose books, but I do not think we selected very desirable ones. We had “The Children of the Abbey,” and I don’t know how many volumes, “The Castle of Otranto,” etc. Old Mrs. F. was very kind and gave us good dinners. Another winter, Miss F. took a house out of London in partnership with her father, mother, and sister. They had purchased everything nice for Xmas dinner and all was left in a larder outside the house. On Christmas morning it was found broken into and everything robbed during the night. It was with much difficulty anything was got for our dinner. One day we were summoned to the drawing room and it was to see my sister and my cousin Clarissa and Scott Busche, about ten months old in the arms of a black nurse called Peggy Fox. She must have been quite six feet in height and very stout. My brother-in-law had brought my sister to introduce her to his family in Ireland. They stopped at Hackett’s Hotel but only remained a fortnight in London. We went to spend a day with them once. My little brother called Robert Busche, died suddenly. I went into mourning. Bushe’s eldest sister was married to Mr. Scott, Dean of Lismore. They had no family so Bushe had been adopted by her when a little child, so they went there when they went to Ireland and then visited all their friends. Clarissa was very much admired. She could have been married to a Mr. Langrush, a wealthy bachelor in Dublin. Mr. Congreve was devoted to her and she liked him very much. He had a splendid property and two sisters lived with him; she was on a visit to them for some weeks. My sister said the sisters wd. not let him marry. So nothing came of it. Dean Scott was suffering from cataract so Mrs. Scott arranged with my sister to go to London with her to consult a celebrated London doctor named Alexander who said an operation wd. have to be performed to remove it, but not ready yet, and he was to go to Bath to drink the waters. So my sister and Mrs. Scott took a large furnished house in South Parade, Bath. Mrs. Scott sent for her housekeepr. They had the Dean’s man servant and they went to Bath and arranged that my cousin Mary Anne and her brother Johnny and my brother Edward and myself shd. All go to Bath and spend the Xmas holidays with them. We were to go for a night to Miss Twiggs and my brother Charles, who was keeping his terms at the Temple, was to see us to the coach. We arrived in the evening. My sister had all the lower part of the house, Peggy Fox and Scott one above that. The Scots housekeeper came every morning to know what we four wd. have for dinner. We were allowed to choose and dined early by ourselves. We all agreed oftenest in having roast pork and apples and dined early by ourselves. Ambrose Power, after Archdeacon, came to Bath for a short time, also his brother Gervase, a Captain in the army, about to go to India. They were with us every evening. We had a piano in my sister’s sitting-room. After dinner they came down and so did Cla and we sang and danced and had games and had such a merry time. We four went off every morning and climbed the hills and after our dinner went off to the Pump Room where the band played and my cousin Mary Anne had weak ankles and the Dr. ordered very hot water to be pumped on them and then cold. The Dean could not see my cousin very well and he always called her his lamb, and Mrs. Scott thought her beautiful, and said she was like Psyche. Maria Burke had taught Peggy Fox to read while they were in Ireland so she could read her Bible. She had always been a great Methodist. She took Scott to the Chapel with her. My sister left him entirely in her care. She came from St. Vincent when she was about 16 years old, in Trinidad to see him—must have cost her a good bit for the passage, but she was comfortably off. You [Robert Wallen] were about seven months old and ill from teething and wouldn’t eat anything. She put down a chicken and boiled it to a jelly, then she danced you about and slipt in a spoonful in your mouth now and again—in fact you got better directly. When our 6 weeks holiday ended we wanted to remain one day more, then to stay that day and go by the night coach. We had a dreadful night. It snowed all the way, but we were inside. When we got off for tea a man was frozen and unconscious, and a poor woman with a baby was nearly so, only the coachman and some gentlemen covered them with their own coats. We arrived at Bedford St., London, where Miss Twigg lived at 6 o’clock in the morning. My brother took us to our various schools but the night before we begged him to take us to the theatre. He said he could not afford it. We suggested that he could if we went to the Pitt. He said that was out of the question. At any rate we gave him no peace, and went to the Haymarket and saw Madame Vestris’ first appearance, and after herself the Beggar’s Opera in which she acted herself. An acquaintance of my sister’s in the Boxes recognized me and my brother and came down to us. We did not feel pleased as he was well off and always dressed in the height of fashion. He was with a party of ladies. He was glad to see us and remained a short time chatting. Next day we all went to school. Shortly after this my brother Edward was sent for to come to Dominica and came to bid me good-bye. I never saw him again after. He was very steady, in fact very religious, and helped my mother to read the Bible in English when able to do so. She [understood] it much better then in French.”

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