Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary June 1828

Thursday 26 June 1828


Slept well & not disturbed in spite of finding the bug last night. There was no going to her last night. She is worse in the whites. Begins to be rather more heated about the parts, and tho’ not bad I am rather afraid of her. Breakfast at 11. At 12 35/60 Miss McL- & I with our driver off in a gig to Scone palace. In the house (the waiter got us a printed permission, price 1/., shown at the porter’s lodge, & delivered to the housekeeper at the house on entering our names, “Mrs L- & party, Paris, Travelling thro’ Scotland”) from 1 5/60 to 1¾. Atkinson of Bentinck Street, London the architect. Very good, comfortable house but rooms too low & staircase too narrow. Exterior very well done. Very consistently in the castle style.  Gentlemen’s seats for the most part castles in the Highlands.

Scone Palace by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, 1829
Image extracted from page 272 of Modern Athens, displayed in a series of views; or, Edinburgh in the nineteenth century; exhibiting the whole of the new buildings, modern improvements, antiquities, & picturesque scenery of the Scottish metropolis & its environs, by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (original drawings) with John Britton (text).

Returned & back at the inn from Scone at 2¼. Sat in the house ¼ hour then sauntered out into the town till 3¾. Very good town, about 20,000 inhabitants (107/415) & some very nice shops. Pretty public green (as at Glasgow) on the south side & down to the Tay. Ordered a sticgum [1] bag and pipe to be used as a uterine syringe, the bag to contain five ounces, for Miss MacL. To be sent by Duncan & Ogilvie, 52 North Bridge, Edinburgh to Souter & Reid, druggists, 52 Union Street, Aberdeen. Vid. Scottish Tourist, 105/415 et seq. The county hall, fine doric? pediment & portico. The bridge length 906 feet, 9 inches breadth, 22 feet within the parapets. 10 arches, at least one of them at each being small & dry. The depot built in 1812 had at 1 time 7,000 French prisoners [2]. One should spend a day or 2 at Perth, but we have not time. Thought of Loch Leven but 17 miles off. Go another time to Kinfauns Castle, to the top of the hill of Kinnoul & to Pitkeathly wells – 113-15/415.

Perth Bridge, North Inch &c
From The Imperial Gazetteer of Scotland; or Dictionary of Scottish Topography, compiled from the most recent authorities, and forming a complete body of Scottish geography, physical, statistical , and historical by John Marius Wilson, 1868

Settled my accounts & off from Perth (outside) per 2 horse accommodation coach at 5 20/60. Fine view from the bridge. At 5 40/60 the black & ragged precipice of Kinnoul hill finely frowning over the valley & enter the celebrated Carse of Gowrie, “the granary (196/415) of Scotland.” Kinfauns castle (left), Lord Gray, & should be visited. Like its exterior yet there is a gable end that should be viewed near before approved. This, tho’ quite in the style of old Scotch castle house, does not suit an eye loving only such castles as Raby, Conway, etc. But see Kinfauns. Would it do at Shibden? Very fine rich valley on the other side the hills (left, north west), the fertile valley of Strathmore. Much pleased to have come this way. Beautiful [ru…ing?]. The coach man pointed to ground (very little grass cut) that would yield 300 [stones] hay per acre, & would return 16 fold of corn. For every 1 boll of wheat (4 bushels English) sown would produce 16 bolls. The land would yield 14 to 15 bolls wheat per English acre. This land let at £4 per acre + ½ boll of wheat + ½ boll of barley. Some land here was let rent and corn rent together as high as £7 per acre. Great deal of maslin (½ & ½) beans & peas. Capital peas. Not, I think, one instance of beans alone. The smell of them delightful as one drives along. Some excellent farm houses. A line of 12 tow horse carts going for [lime], all belonging to one farmer. In some of the peas great deal of yellow weed.

Kinfauls Castle by John Preston Neale, 1824
in volume 4 of Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Second Series by John Preston Neale

At 7 change horses at the ½ way house (a lone house) & enter the widest & most fertile part of the Carse. At 7 20/60 richest part about, near, 5 miles across the Carse to the Tay. Our road lying between 3 & 4 miles from the river. A sort of open field land all the way. Several gentlemen’s seats. At 7 50/60 the picturesque village of Lonforgan [3]. The church like a common sash-windowed house save for the neat tower at the end. The highland churches, said Miss McL-, generally so. At the end of the village fine view of the fine, broad Tay. The water down bare sands. Reminds me of the Dee at Parkgate.

Harvested barley field, view from Fifebanks to the Tay View across arable fields to Longforgan and the Firth of Tay
David Hawgood / Harvested barley field, view from Fifebanks to the Tay / CC BY-SA 2.0

Dundee a large, good town. Upwards 31,000 inhabitants (Scottish Tourist, 359/415 Note). Alight at Merchant’s Inn & Hotel at 9. Dinner at 9½. Baddish peas-soup, ditto crimped skate [4], good Scotch scallops, sort of beefsteak, new potatoes, spinach & gooseberry tart & milk. Ordered gill of whisky. But by [Mister St. Gin], not discovered till too late. Came to my room at 11 30/60. Curled my hair. Two rooms. Then had her in mine and then went to hers till one and three quarters. We had been talking of her whites. Said that six years ago there were internal ulcers. It was matter that came away. She had leeches applied there. This led to some how or other my telling her how I was ill and had Dupuytren [5] and mercury at Mrs Barlow’s, that she nursed me and must have known it, and that I was ill before I went and went to be cured. A married lady gave it me two years before. But would not say it might not have been otherwise twenty years ago. Then got to talking of her quietness. She said I could not make her fidgetty. Took this as if someone else might till said I suspected that she might have forgotten herself and might after all be as bad as myself. Would she give me her word of honour she was not. At last she got hurt and rather cried. Gave me her honour and I drew in my horns, declared I believed her did not suspect etc etc, wished we could settle it with a kiss but must be prudent so came away.

Very fine day. Once thought of going to Campsie Linn on returning from Scone but feared to be too late back. Our driver had never been there. The waiter at the inn had not heard of it & nobody seemed to know much about it save that it was 7 miles from Perth. “Perth 1 of the most ancient & handsome towns in Scotland.” About 1½ miles in circumference, situated west back of Tay “where 3 tracts of vast fertility, the Carse of Gowry, Strathmore & Strathearn may be said to terminate & unite.” When the Romans “first beheld the Tay & the plain upon Perth now stands, they were so struck with the resemblance to the Tiber & its banks in the vicinity of Rome that with 1 consent they exclaimed, in a transport of enthusiasm, Ecce Tiber! Ecce Campus Martius!” Scottish Tourist, 105/415.

We had talke[d] in coming of Vere [6]. Were Miss MacL on her death bed and thought Vere would be mine would she consent? Yes with all her heart, it would make her happy to have her so well taken care of for she, Vere, would be very happy with me. From what she said in the grounds at Dunkeld, Vere has not much to look for from her family, so many have married ill.

Left margin: Perth to Dundee, 22 miles

[1] Contraction of ‘elastic gum’ ie rubber. Thanks to Dr Helen King for explaining this.

[2] Perth depot was built between 1818 and 1812 to house French prisoners of war from the Napoleonic war. According to the Scottish Prisoner Service website the prisoners were relatively well treated; they would make and sell straw dolls and ornaments carved from animal bones at a market held at the depot. The officers were allowed out in the city on parole. The prisoners were released and repatriated after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

[3] I think she means Longforgan

[4] Crimped fish was fish prepared by slashing it whilst the fish was alive, leaving it to rest in water for an hour or so, and then boiling it. This was intended to keep the flesh of the fish firm. 😮

[5] The surgeon that Anne consulted about her venereal complaint whilst in Paris. Dupuytren prescribed a meagre diet, warm baths, pearl barley and nitrate to be dissolved in liquid, as well as mercury to be rubbed on the affected area. Dupuytren’s treatment ended up making Anne weak and ill but did not cure her symptoms. See Helena Whitbread’s No Priest But Love for more, in particular chapter 4 ‘The Charm is Broken.’

[6] Vere Hobart, Sibella’s niece.

You can read the original diary entry here:

9 thoughts on “Thursday 26 June 1828

  1. Sad to see them quarrel, the encoded passage sometimes can be shocking, like, using leech…… ditto AL’s using mercury in Paris. Also, when they talked about Sibella MacLean’s quietness, what does it really mean, quietness?

    1. ‘Then got to talking of her quietness. She said I could not make her fidgetty.’ I believe by ‘fidgetty’ AL means sexually aroused (I have seen it used before and the context seemed to suggest that’s what she meant), so I wonder if by ‘quietness’ she means lack of sexual ardour or interest. Or perhaps literal quietness, in that she doesn’t respond vocally to AL’s physical attentions?

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