09 October 1832

[Note from Miss W-] Her note begins, ‘how little did I imagine when we parted last night that I should so soon have had the pleasure of addressing you, my dear friend. Under other circumstances I should not have dared to take up my pen but the plea of soliciting your advice seems at least a tolerably fair excuse’ – then comes the subject of Collins – ending – ‘with my kind regards to Mr and Mrs Lister, believe me yours, very sincerely, Ann Walker’.

[Note to Miss W-] Began with, ‘your note, my love, surprises me but surprise is not the only, or uppermost, feeling which engrosses me – I leave you to imagine what I mean – for surely you already know me too well to be wrong in any surmise you may wish to make’ – then follows my advice about Collins and conclude with – ‘I am to thank you very much for the grapes with which your usual good judgement you have directed to my aunt. I am doubly flattered, doubly obliged – the cloak was of the greatest use to me last night – except among Alps and Pyrenees – I know not when I have been out in such a storm of rain and hurricane of wind, which last [night] was so strong against me that I was literally blown off the causeway five or six times. Forgive me if I can hardly return even your vexation about Collins – remember it is to him I owe your note and to him I owe this present unexpected pleasure of assuring you how much I am affectionately and very faithfully yours, A. Lister’. I wonder what she will think of this. I told her yesterday I thought her pretty – proof, said she, of how blind love is – told her how nice she looked in her evening gown for dinner on Thursday – she said she thought I rather looked at her. In fact, she will soon, I think, put me less and less in competition with Cliff Hill – if I can only manage her tolerably the first night.

Standing, musing about Miss Walker – whether I can at all satisfy her or not and how we shall get on together.

08 October 1832

Mrs Clarke took off with her a fortune of five and twenty thousand pounds – Christopher Rawson was told by her just before the sale of the Walker navigation shares, she would not marry. He might count upon it of seven or eight years or else John Rawson would have bought the shares – Doctor better informed. Jeremiah Rawson commission Mr R- to tell me he should be glad to steward for me – said we should have got on very well together, but he was too late – and laughed and said Miss Walker had proved me so that I had never seemed to be without steward. Joked and told her to take care of Frank Rawson against Kennys and Clarkes – as I meant to take the best I could of my sister.

On getting up this morning saw that my cousin was come very gently but put nothing on and determined to put off breakfasting with my friend for two or three days – agreed on Thursday which will do well enough. She thinks me over head and ears in love with her, as indeed my manner indicates – she is evidently pleased by my attentions – excited and gives me all possible encouragement short of legitimate hope. But I think she is in for it – and if I can only do moderately enough for her, her answer may perhaps be yes after all – however, I shall, in reality, take it composedly anyway. I [am] now inclined to risk trusting myself and doing my best for her the first night I have an opportunity – it is evident she will throw no obstacle my way.

We had a good deal of talk – I said happiness was, in well-bred minds, more metal than in others – if such was, or could be, her feelings and she could give up the thought of having children, perhaps she might be happy with me etc. Talked a little of the odd things abroad – said I had been a good deal humbugged by French Countess and let her understand that I had come in twenty-eight and been a year away from my aunt to get out of the way. Talked of there being no chance of my marrying but I saw she did not quite enter into this in spite of all the hints it seemed safe to give. Kissing and pressing her as usual – she put the blind down – lucky – James had come in on trivial errands twice.

And Mrs Priestley came at four – I had jumped in time and was standing by the fire – but Ann looked red and pale, and Mrs P- must see we were not particularly expecting or desiring company. She looked vexed, jealous and annoyed and asked (in bitter satire) if I had [been] where I was ever since she left me there – no, said I, I only ought to have been. My aunt had been quite in a host of miseries. Mrs P- said, as if turning it all on this, yes, she was quite vexed with me. I laughed and said I really did not intend doing so again. ‘Yes’, she replied angrily, ‘you will do the same the very next time the temptation occurs’. Plain proof, thought I, of what you think and that you smoke a little. I parried all with good humour – saying that I really must stay all night. She only stayed a few minutes and went off in a suppressed rage – probably giving me far more credit than deserved for plotting the visit of yesterday and being there all today and having refused breakfasting with her, not to go to Stoney Royde, but be with Miss W-. Mrs P- now probably believes her confidence insecure, me insincere, and the lord knows what.

Miss W- laughed and said we were well matched – we soon got to kissing again on the sofa. She said I looked ill – I denied, then said if I did look so, I knew what would cure me – she would know what – said I really would not, could not, tell her. At last I got my right hand up her petticoats and, after much fumbling, got through the opening of her drawers and touched, first time, the hair and skin of queer – she never offered the least resistance in any way and certainly showed no sign of its being disagreeable. However, having not uttered before I now fell upon her neck – seemed sickish – just whispered that I could not stand it and stood leaning my head on my hand off her shoulder till apparently composed. Then entreated her forgiveness in general terms – saying she behaved beautifully – no, she said, she knew she led me on – I would deny this, tho’ owning that I was of course sure she cared for me – why yes, said she, or should we go on as we do – in fact, she likes my attentions and the first night of my being there will give me all I am able to take.

When dusk, she asked (I had said I was at no time likely to marry – how far she understood me I could not quite make out) – ‘if you never had any attachment, who taught you how to kiss?’ – I laughed and said how nicely that was said, then answered that nature taught me. I could have replied – and who taught you? She told me, as she had done yesterday, that she had always a fancy for me and thought how much she should like to know me better. She seems to relax a little on the subject of my having no hope – said she would think – and afterwards said, tho’ I seemed to take no notice, it would depend upon whether the Ainsworths would come to Cliff Hill.

Told my aunt how cross Mrs William Priestley looked and that I really thought Miss W- was veering about a little and might, perhaps after all, give up Cliff Hill.

Sat up preparing my cousin and washing out stains done since dinner.

07 October 1832

[Miss W-] very glad to see me – began again about wishing me to have no hope, but that she had now said enough and would say no more about it – I had declared that I had given up all thought of the thing, had positively no hope at all. In fact, considered the decisive ‘no’ as good as said – no, she replied, I did not say that – I will think about it, but don’t go on hoping – I declared on my word I did not do so. Thinking on my word after much pretty talk – I care little about it, anyway will do. It seems I can have her as my mistress and may amuse myself – she kissed me and lay on my arm as before, evidently excited, tho’ talking of her coldness which I never contradict. Said a French Countess had taught me much of foreign manners and court scandal – my aunt afraid of her for me. To prove I had no hope, said I had told my aunt so – yet I kissed and pressed very tenderly and got my right hand up her petticoats to queer, but not to the skin – could not get through her thick knitted drawers for tho’ she never once attempted to put my hand away, she held her thighs too tight together for me. I shall manage it the next time.

She said she had now begun with fires in her room – said I would sit by it with her – laughed and said the dressing room door should have opened into the bedroom – and, finding my conversation needed not be so straight laced as for Catherine Rawson, hinted at the only use of pocket holes abroad etc and quizzed her for thinking we might be as comfortable – she at Cliff Hill and I at Shibden – as if we were together. In fact, I may certainly have my way – she all the time telling me of her coldness. She asked me to spend the whole day and stay all night on Tuesday – I said I would breakfast with her. I wonder what she will say when I have once fairly done my best for her – it will be odd enough then to talk of no hope. If she really continues to excite and amuse me, well and good – I will take her on her own terms and when I am tired, the no hope business will always be a plea to get off. How little she dreams of all this – she thinks me over head and ears past recall – her mumbling kisses and anything but coldness have done a world of good. She thinks me the only one in danger – if I am, I the greatest, she has not much to fear – she owns she cares for me. She consulted me again tonight about the Atkinsons – I shall soon get quite into her confidence. I wonder whether she is too deep for me or I for her.

John came for me tonight and went first to the Priestleys – they will talk us over and think something is in the wind. Mrs P- said yesterday my going to her, Miss W-, so much was a good thing for her.

06 October 1832

[Little while with my aunt] She thought me looking uncommonly well and in unusually good spirits (and so in fact I felt) on the occasion of my [decision] (as I told her last night) giving up Miss Walker. Laughed – I felt as pleased that it was over as I had when it began – thought whatever is, is right.

[Mrs Priestley and I] very good friends – she said inclination would have led her to turn with me again – had she been able either my telling her this day well had had a good effect on her – or she made up to me on Miss W-‘s account. Somehow speaking of her, Mrs P- said we were very thick – I had been there every day – it was a very good thing for her, Miss W-. I ought to influence her to patronise this or that – I said I did not know that I had any influence but if I had, she be careful not to push it too far. Yes, we were very good friends – I had not been every day – not Tuesday or Wednesday – but we could not hold on quite at our present. I should not go there today.

05 October 1832

Thinking of my determination to be cautious, [I was] gravish this morning at first which repelled her – or she seemed going to be affectionate and fond as yesterday. However, just before her dinner (I had been dictating her letter to her aunt and cousin Atkinson), we somehow got more at ease again – for she said she understood me to mean that all was over now and no more answer required – I explained how sorry I was, would have been the last to have intruded on her feelings etc on such circumstances of such recent grief, but my being hopeless now no reason that I should be always so and we would leave things as they were – so far that I would not let her give her answer now but wait the six months as agreed. She thought that she could not feel regard enough for me and it would not be fair to me – still thought her answer would be no. I said my expectations were very moderate – I should be satisfied if she could always be to me as she was now. She had not expected my coming, but it was very good of me – did not think I should run the risk of being more with her – not fair to myself. I said the mischief was done and I was reckless of all that could come – sufficient till the day was the evil thereof. I had resolution enough and durst brave all.

We then got much as yesterday – but for her bad back and she very languid as she lay on the sofa on my arm, I might have done what I liked. She gave me her mumbling kisses again and I seemed impassioned, but still said I had no hope. I said, at all rates, I should never seek her pity or bother her with my regard – perhaps the next thing would be her thinking I did not care at all for her – oh no, that she never should think, she knew my manner was all put on – I then got quite cheerful and said how much better I was.

I got up to go before four, but she asked me to stay – and I loitered and said how little resolution I had. She said Catherine Rawson would suit me better – I said ‘no’, and afterwards explained that I could not sufficiently respect her common sense.

On before wishing her to have Doctor Belcombe’s opinion, she said he would only laugh – all would say ‘what was the matter with her?’ (meaning, she wanted a good husband). I of course denied it, but thought it near enough the truth. She thinks me over head and ears with her – she is mistaken – her mumbling kisses have cured me of that.

She was talking of Crabbe’s poems – Catherine maintained they were not fit to be read – Miss Walker was not so particular – not fit for young girls, but very well for herself and Catherine. Oh, oh, thought I, this is a new light to me – likely enough from your manner. She casually said the other day, she should now know better how to flirt than she used to do – it has struck me more than once, she is a deepish hand. She took me up to her room – I kissed her, and she pushed herself so to me, I rather felt and might have done it as much as I pleased. She is man-keen enough – if I stay all night, it will be my own fault if I do not have all of her I can – I really [think] she wishes to try the metal I am made of and I begin to fear not being able to do enough – and doubt whether fun will even be amusing or safe.

She told me not to go to Lightcliffe tomorrow as the Priestleys got to Harrogate on Tuesday and not to [go] again to her before then for fear they should see me there – so, as she is going next week into the Sowerby Valley, I proposed her going that day and calling for me, and laughed and said I would go to her that day week – she laughed but made no remark. My real and romantic care for her is set at rest and all I shall now feel for her will not get the better of me. Shall I or shall I not give in to fun with her? Stay all night and do my best without caring for the result.

She let out today that there is some[one] who would now be glad of her and taker her into a very different rank of life from her present one (some poor Scotch baronet?). At all rates, I may handle her as I like if I choose to venture it. How changed my mind – respect so staggered yesterday is gone today – I care not for her, tho’ her money would suit. She said she should have regretted all being off between us now, tho’ she expected it. She is so man-keen she reminds me of Miss Alexander – have she and Catherine been playing tricks? – but the latter is in the wane with her now. I am cured.

Said I thought the thing would go off for it seemed as if she could not give up Cliff Hill and I could [not] leave Shibden – said how I was cooled about the thing, but still that I would wait the six months for the answer – if it was no, I would not grieve much – and if it was yes and I wanted to be off, I was sure of some excuse. Putting all on Shibden made my aunt take all right.

04 October 1832

[At Lidgate at 10] and stayed till John Priestley came at two. She started as difficulties the not living at Cliff Hill and my intimacy with the William Priestleys – she should do as she liked about the former – it was herself, it was person, not place I cared for – and as soon as all was settled, my giving up the P-‘s was easy and natural.

This said, she seemed reconciled and satisfied – I said I would listen to no difficulty, but the pre-engagement of her own heart – she declared it not engaged – and talked of letting the Ainsleys [Ainsworths] have Cliff Hill as if she had determined on being with me at Shibden, yielding to all my reasons in addition to the former ones – I had said that if I survived her, I could no longer remain at Cliff Hill.

I had my arm on the back of the sofa – she leaned on it – looked as if I might be affectionate, and it ended in her lying on my arm all the morning and my kissing her and she returning it with such a long continued passionate or nervous mumbling kiss – that we got on as far as we, by daylight, mere kissing, could – I thinking to myself, ‘well, this is rather more than I expected – of course she means to take [me]’. Yet on pressing the hardness of my case in having to wait six months and begging for a less length of probation – she held out, saying her mind was quite unmade up – and I must not hope too much for fear of disappointment.

Yet she asked me to dine with her at five and stay all night – I promised the former. Very sorry could not do the latter while my father was unwell and my sister absent. Thought I, ‘I see I shall get all I want of her person if I stay all night’.

Back at five to dinner – she had put on an evening gown – and a sort of set out dinner for me – I talked much of the Highlands etc while the manservant was there. Afterwards drew near to each [other] and she sat on my knee, and I did not spare kissing and pressing, she returning it as in the morning. Yet still I was not to hope too much – she said I was infatuated – when the novelty was over I should not feel the same – and I might not find her a companion for me. I waived all this, fancying all her scruples were of this sort.

On leaving the dining room we sat most lovingly on the sofa – thought her aunt would not live six months – said she had a fancy for Eugénie. If we were not ready for her by January, we were to allow her something and retain her.

We were so affectionate – we let the lamp go out – long continued (mumbling moist) kissing, I pressed her bosom – then finding no resistance and the lamp being out – let my hand wander lower down, gently getting to queer – still no resistance – so I whispered, surely she could care for me so little? – yes – then gently whispered she would break my heart if she left me – she then said I should think her very cold (how the devil could I?) and it came out: how that her affections had been engaged to one of the best men – that they could not be transferred so soon for he had only been dead just three months – and she got crying. I begged a thousand pardons etc – declared it was only through ignorance that I had ever been so sanguine etc – and thinking a scene would then come beautifully from me, seemed in a paroxysm of stupid tho’ deeply sighing grief and stifled tears – and declared myself hopeless – said my conduct (or rather, my hoping) was madness and she had no longer any reason to fear my preparation for myself – nothing but disappointment. All this as very prettily done.

I however promised to see her tomorrow and we parted in all the pathos due to the occasion. I said little as I returned to poor John – musing on the curious scene of today. ‘Cold’, thought I, no sign of that – more likely she will try what I can do for her before giving the answer, and I don’t think I can do enough. She had said that if she once made up her mind, she thought herself as much as married to me for life. Well, I may try her – or rather let her try me – and go what lengths the first night I sleep there. She certainly gulled me in that I never dreamt of her being the passionate little person I find her, spite of her calling herself ‘cold’. Certainly, I should never have ventured such lengths just yet without all the encouragement she gave me. I shall now turn to sentimentally melancholy and put on all the air of romantic hopelessness. If I do this well, I may turn her to pity or fight off, I see, good. I scarce know what to make of her. Is she maddish? I must mind what I say to her – be cautious.

Speaking of Miss Sophia Greenup – said Miss Duffin said ‘now kiss Sophia, love’ – and mentioned that I was to have brought her home, but her mother luckily did not like her being under obligation to me. Merely said it was Miss Hobart – now Lady Vere Cameron – I had with me at Hastings.

Hang it, this queer girl puzzles me. She told me this morning of the weakness in her back for which she uses Mr Day’s ointment – it was from making her walk too soon when an infant. I think a little spice of matrimony would do her good.

Miss W- much troubled with anonymous letters – said she would get rid of all troubles of cousins or letters when with me. She seemed quite persuaded of this – I wonder what she will say to me tomorrow.

03 October 1832

Lay awake an hour and a half thinking of Miss Walker – I really do get more and more in love with her, not perhaps a little heightened by the having to wait [for] her answer for the next six months. She has really behaved very judiciously for I believe she likes me.

01 October 1832

We sat from a little past ten to ten minutes to four – [a] sign she was not tired of my company. I said my aunt had questioned me and that I had really owned her suspicions were right – that I could make a good excuse for her, Miss W-, and thought she had better call another day – when both parties were ready to receive each other more at ease. Said how kind my aunt would be to her, how pleased she was etc.

Proposed her living with me at Shibden and letting Cliff Hill – she spoke of her great attachment to the latter – I advocated skilfully, and I think successfully, the advantages of Shibden – and said that less money needed to be paid out than she perhaps imagined. Explained that there would be more éclat and independence even for her at Shibden than at Cliff Hill – and that she had but a life interest in the one and might have the same in the other. Said I expected to have ultimately two thousand a year – she told me it was more than she expected from my manner of speaking before.

I then asked if she thought she could be happy enough with me, to give up all thought of ever leaving me. This led her into explaining that she had said she would never marry – but that, as she had once felt an inclination not to keep to this, she could not yet so positively say she should never feel the same inclination again. She should not like to deceive me and begged not to answer just now. I said she was quite right – praised her judiciousness – that my esteem and admiration were only heightened by it – that no feelings of selfishness should make me wish my happiness rather than hers – that I would give her six months, till my next birthday (she twenty-nine twentieth May last) to make up her mind in, and I should only hope that, as we saw more of each other, my reasons for despair would not increase. She thought I had given her a long [time]. We then rallied each other – she declaring that she would give no answer till the time and I maintaining that, in spite of her, I should find it out. To all my thorough love speeches (of anxiety and impatience) hoping she would not think me foolish, she invariably replied – ‘indeed’, she did not think me foolish at all – in fact, I think I was too agreeable to be found any fault with. On the plea of feeling her pulse, I took her hand and held it some time – to which she showed no objection – in fact, we both probably felt more like lovers than friends. I said, if she felt a quarter the regard for me [as] I did for her, I should be satisfied – but if she ever felt half, I should be more than happy – she said that would come – in fact, I think it will.

[Margin] Gave her (first thing I ever did give, save the key of the walk gate at the same time, tho’ first) one – that last but one I have – of the little golden gondola brooches I brought from Venice.

I had said she had more heart and more of something like romance than her sister – yes – she told me she always thought I had a tincture of romance about me. I praised her penetration. It seems she had observed and felt my manner of sitting by her when she called with her uncle and aunt Atkinson – I said that was done because I really could not help it, or I should have sat by Mrs Atkinson. She said she had thought of me every day at Wast Water and could not help thinking now of the very great anxiety she somehow felt to get home again. She had always an idea that her thirtieth year would be a very important one.

She already feels towards me she scarce knows what and is surely in the high road to being in love – yes, I think she will take me. I see I must be uncommonly and fastidiously delicate. I wanted to hint at the propriety of her leaving me for a minute or two on our getting to Lidgate, but she was too modest to seem to understand me at all. I see there is evidently coming on all the shyness usual in such cases – well, I shall like her all the better for it and am already fairly in love myself.

Read her what M- had said in her last [letter] about Eugénie and said what I had written. Much confidential conversation – I had near been in Spain – might [have] settled with a woman of rank and fashion and two thousand a year (alluding to Lady Gordon), but could not make up my mind till I knew what chance I had elsewhere – fancy all powerful etc. Yet amid all, she never let slip her own income.

We sat from soon after ten to ten minutes to four in the hut, then saw her home – sat till she had some gruel and biscuit and wine – and walked with her almost to Cliff Hill, so as just to avoid being seen, and left her at six and a half. Thought I, she is in for it if ever a girl was – and so am I too. Walked leisurely home by the new road, sat a little while in the hut and [home at 6 ½].

30 September 1832

Awake at five and from then to getting up, lay thinking of Miss W-; at nine incurred the cross – I really am getting much more in love than I expected to be again – in fact, she likes [me], it is evident, and I think we shall be very happy together.

Just gently named to Marian, when alone with her, that I really wished she would never again set at me as she did last night – and she began roaring again, saying we did not suit, and she would go away etc. This always annoys me, and at last I am inclined to make it a rule never to mention Marian in any way to anyone.

29 September 1832

[Mrs Priestley and I] very good friends – told her I had lately heard it said she was a very fascinating person – all I said was kind and friendly as ever, and perhaps more flattering than usual on the subject of her fascination – at which she seemed not displeased. Quite as friendly, open and consulting as ever.

We now get on beautifully – I obscurely lovemaking and she all smiles – said felt sure of my own happiness and I might be equally so of hers. Oh, she was sure of hers, but had been thinking last night whether she could make me happy and be a companion for me. She said how happy she now felt and looked so, as we sat on the sofa. Joked her about being so formal in not taking cream till I had helped myself – she smiled and [said] she would not do so at home, but her aunt would have been astonished if she had not done as she did.

In moralising a little on how much we had both to be thankful for, how happy we should be etc – she said yes, she had often looked at all her things and said ‘what was the use of having them with nobody to enjoy them with her?’ She said it all seemed now like a dream to her – I told her I had made up my mind in May – the moment I was at liberty to do so – so that it had been well enough digested by me, however sudden it might seem to her – and that I have my happiness into her keeping in perfect security – said I had built the hut on purpose for her – talked of our journey.

She is to have Mr and Mrs Ainsworth in February – they cannot come before – she wishes not to put them off and, all other things suiting, would rather not go till February. Said I would wait for her.

Talked of (and advised her) letting her house at Lidgate to our steward Washington – she would never want it again as long as there was room for us at Shibden. I laughed and said, ‘let Cliff Hill’ – but on her saying ‘Cliff Hill!’, [I] thought it was too early in our day to mention, and said I was only joking. But I shall manage it all by and by – she is getting more and more attached to me, and I really do begin to be in love in good earnest. Her countenance lightens up, she looks happy and I begin to think her at times pretty. I begged her to take up her French and sketching again – and we already begin to feel at home together – and very much (however little she may understand it) like engaged lovers.

Her servant came home with me with a lantern to Mytholm Hill – where I sent him back on meeting Cordingley and Rachel.

[Stayed up till 11 with my aunt] telling her my real sentiments about Miss Walker and my expectations – that the chances were ten to one in favour of our travelling and ultimately settling together. My aunt not to appear to know anything about it, even to [old] Miss W-, till I had mentioned it to the latter. My aunt [said] it had really come into her head as she say in the drawing room this afternoon and seemed very well pleased at my choice and prospects. I said she had three thousand a year or very near it, as I had understood some time since from the Priestleys. She thought my father would be pleased if he knew, and so would both my uncles. Came upstairs at 11.