• 10th Nov 1818

    Ellen [Empson] & I had a long confab. Told her I was often in low spirits & she owned I had some reason – my father’s managing his estate so ill & living in that quere [sic] sort of way at Weighton. I said I often wanted a companion – someone to take care of me & now she was gone there was nobody I cared about. Said she, very innocently, “Why did you let me marry?” “What could I do? You never asked me.” “That is true enough. I never asked anybody.” She seemed to feel a great deal interested about me – said I was odd but hoped I would not change.

Anne’s journal as a refuge from the world

Anne was aware of the impression her masculinity or her ‘oddity’, as she called it, made upon people. Usually she was able to rise above the vulgar taunts of the rougher elements in the town.

As a member of the landed gentry, however minor, her social status in the town enabled her to consider herself above the crowd. When accosted in the streets by strange men who attempted to become over-familiar with her, her sense of dignity was both affronted and reinforced. On one such occasion, after politely exchanging a few civilities with a carter who had stopped her on her way home,

“I had wished him good night & had not gone more than 2 or three yards before he called out, ‘Young woman. Do you want a sweetheart?’ ‘What!’ said I angrily, ‘I never listen to such impertinence but I shall know you again, & mind you never speak to me again’. He muttered something, I know not what. Did the man mean to be impertinent, or was he encouraged by my talking to him? It will be a lesson to me to take care to whom I talk to in future. One can hardly carry oneself too high or keep people at too great a distance.” [Journal entry 5th May 1820.]

Her greatest refuge from the ‘slings and arrows’ of the world was her journal.

“I owe a good deal to this journal. By unburdening my mind on paper I feel, as it were, in some degree to get rid of it; it seems made over to a friend that hears it patiently keeps it faithfully, and by never forgetting anything, is always ready to compare the past & present & thus to cheer & edify the future.” [Journal entry 22nd June 1821.]

I wonder, was Anne’s perceived snobbishness partly a defence mechanism as she ran the gamut of rude remarks in the streets?

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