Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary August 1828

Wednesday 6 August 1828

2 50

Might probably have been asleep an hour when called & got up. My eyes so bad kept my night cap on over them under my hat. Went down to the coach office. Explained the hardship of being detained & having to go back for my box & thought they ought to charge nothing for my place in the coach and I at once got it gratis. On seeing the inside could not make up my mind to get in (fine morning tho’ thick fog over the river & hazy) & in spite of my eyes, mounted behind the coachman and off at 3¾ (I was quite ready in ½ hour & had been waiting in my room 25 minutes). Stopt at another inn. 4 o’clock before we were finally off. Alighted at The King’s Arms, Dumfries at 8 20/60. At 1st no box to be found. Musing what to do. Bid the guard (the same that came with us on Monday) look everywhere and to my great joy it had been put away in a place no one had thought of looking in. Guard & I both rejoiced. Still with my night cap over my eyes & breakfasted this [pretty] [figure] with a gentleman & lady inside passengers. The gentleman off in ½ hour to Glasgow. The lady, going to Kircudbright, sat talking to me till I had done breakfast at 9½.  Then went upstairs. Good and looseish motion and dressed my hair. Reading Scottish Tourist & looking at the map. Think of going to Selkirk & thence to Melrose Abbey.

The Graveyard, St Michael’s Church, Dumfries
David Dixon / The Graveyard, St Michael’s Church / CC BY-SA 2.0
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Go out at 10¾. To the old church (St. Michael’s) to see Burns’ monument. The church thus full of monuments. Tombs, columns, obelisks. Quite the Père la Chaise1 Largest cemetery in Paris.of Dumfries. The woman said people said it was like some place abroad. Père la Chaise? Yes! That was it. Alas! No trees nor shrubs nor flowers. But plots of 3 or 4 yards square iron-railed off. The fee simple (la perpetuité) of this quantity of ground £5. Burns’ monument a sort of square (about 4 yards square within the walls, domed roof) ionic temple with the corners squared & at each corner a pair of coupled ionic columns externally to support the plain frieze under the roof. 3 steps run all round the temple. 3 sides open. Against the 4th is the white marble sculpture. Burns [aged] between 18 & 19 in the dress of a farming boy, short open jacket, partly open waistcoat, breeches & gayters, his right hand holding across his breast a Kilmarnoc cap, his left resting on the near plough-stilt, the plough at full length upon a marble imitating ploughed land. Above is a whole-length female figures in air holding over the poet a mantle bordered with thistles. The inscription at the foot of the sculpture is simply ‘BURNS’ & in the corner ‘P. Turnerelli sculptor London.’ Certainly a very fine monument. By subscription. Cost £1500. Begun about 14 years ago. Finished about 12 years ago. Now erecting a much larger monument (the busts of 2 of the principal personages of his poetry already put up & his own bust in progress, but all in stone) at Ayr, his birth-place.

Burn’s Mausoleum, Dumfries, ca. 1890 – ca. 1900

The old woman knew him & remembered him quite well (died about 30 years ago?). Very stupid looking man. His eyes always fixed on the ground. You would think there was nothing in him. But pleasant enough in his conversation when he spoke. Very large, big man before he died. Very broad across the chest. Very [strongly] built. The side face of the sculpture like, but not the front face. It might be like when young & before being so large. Died not well off. It was after his death his works were so prized. Part of the money raised sunk for his widow & part spent in the education of his sons. 2 went to India. 1, [James], has sent over his children to his mother, still living (has a house in Dumfries but seldom there, lives as well as any lady) to educate & makes her an allowance. Has lost his wife. The old woman then shewed me into the “lobby” of the church. 2 monuments there, 1 on each side. One a tablet to Sir [Thomas] Reid, a merchant in London & twice chosen chairman of the East India Company, who died 3 or 4 years ago, & the other by the sculptor Dunbar to the memory of his child, a very pretty little infant (all in white marble) lying on a little mattress, its head leaning on a little bolster. Very pretty. On the base the following inscription:

“Erected to the memory of Elizabeth Stokes Dunbar who died in her infancy –
Like a dew-drop kiss’d off by the sun’s morning beam,
A brief but a beauteous existence was given:
Her soul seem’d to come down to earth in a dream,
And only to wake ascended to heaven.”

But no monument like that at Ashburn in Derbyshire to the memory of Sir Brook Boothby’s child.2Sir Brook Boothby (1744-1824) was, among other things, a landowner and poet based in Deryshire. He was said to be emotionally self-indulgent and a spendthrift. In 1791 his only daughter Penelope tragically died, aged five years. Boothby never recovered from the loss of his child. He commissioned an extraordinary tomb for Penelope including a realistic life-size effigy of Penelope sleeping and the inscription: ‘She was in form and intellect most exquisite. The unfortunate Parents ventured their all on this frail Bark.’,_6th_Baronet

Effigy of Penelope Boothby, St. Oswald’s church, Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Photo by Poliphilo
Made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

St. Michael’s plain neat, good, modern church. Walk down past the good, very neat-looking, not large infirmary to the side of the Nith, a broad, good, dark-brown river. Thro’ the cattle market (market day) along the water’s edge. Large shew of black & Galloway cattle. Good Galloway cow, of first calf, £9 or £10 or more. 2 year old [in poor order] calves £3 to £4. From the cattle market ascended the steps on to the old bridge (no carriage can therefore pass it), 7 arches. 1 of them being dry. The river just above dammed up for mills (a corn mill?) makes a pretty cascade in its whole breadth. Then along the street to the short way distant, handsome new 5 arched red sandstone bridge that all the carriages pass over. All the buildings of red sandstone, some of the houses white-washed, particularly those both sides the water’s edge. Pretty view of them from the new bridge along the river. The country up the Nith prettily wooded with good white houses interspersed. Some apparently pretty places embosomed in these woods. At the end of this new bridge, iron guide-post, dated 1827, with the following distances: Annan 16, Carlisle 33, Huntingdon 272, London 330, Edinburgh 72, Glasgow 74, Portpatrick 84, Castle Douglas 18. 2 churches, 1 English chapel, 1 Roman Catholic ditto & several dissenting houses. Pass the neat new gaol. Eat Gooseberries at one of the fruit stalls (gooseberries, black, red & white currants, some bad little pears & ditto apples) near the market cross. Buy a small pamphlet explanatory of free masonry & come in at 1.

The Old Bridge, Dumfries
Photo by DNethermill
Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

To be off in 20 minutes by the Portpatrick mail which came in at 7 this morning. Not off till 1 40/60. On the box with the coachman. At about 10 miles from Dumfries & afterwards, but not uninterruptedly, good view of Skiddaw. At 3¼ 12 miles from Dumfries, hid in wood, Kinmount, Marquess Queensbury. Great gambler. Will not promise to give up gambling. Has 11 daughters. The Duke of Buccleugh, very distant relation, heir to the property. Going to pay the Marquess’s debts. By this road Dumfries to Annan 16 miles. Annan to Carlisle 17 miles. At Gretna, Graitney, or Gretna Green at 4 40/60. Small picturesque  white village. The blacksmith (the old man is dead) (neither he nor his father any trade or calling, called blacksmith “because the first who had the privilege of marrying” got it from “King William! for shoeing his horse the wrong way” & thus favouring his escape) & a man of the name of Elliot marry but both live at Springfield ½ mile to the left. Cannot see it at all. Much better village than Gretna. Linton too of the Gretna-hall Inn (would not answer at all but has a farm with it – very little posting – steam boats hurt coaching & posting) marries, because the other men take the people they marry away from Linton’s to other inns so he marries himself. His house a nice comfortable looking place with a garden in front. Short [bread] & walk down to the village. Small white church. Mr & Miss Linton (the sister) & 2 postboys & some 1 else present when the blacksmith married Miss Turner. She behaved like other people “as they usually do” behave. Shewed no unhappiness. At The Bush at Carlisle Mrs Holmes had some talk with her. Seemed in good spirits.3Since the marriage laws in England were tightened in 1754, requiring that couples had to be over the age of 21 to marry without their parents’ permission, English couples began to runaway to marry at Gretna Green, the first town across to border into Scotland, to take advantage of the more relaxed marriage laws. Weddings started taking place at the blacksmith’s as it was the first building you came to in Gretna. In 1826, two years before Anne Lister’s visit, 15 year old heiress Ellen Turner was tricked into marrying the nefarious Edward Gibbon Wakefield at Gretna Green. Wakefield, who had married his first (and by this time late) wife Eliza Pattle, then 17, in a similar way, hoped that Ellen’s father, a wealthy mill owner, would accept the marriage and settle a sum of money on him rather than face public scandal. Unfortunately for him Mr Turner got a warrant for Wakefield’s arrest issued and he was ultimately sentenced to three years in prison. The marriage was annulled by an act of parliament.

Filial Affection, or a Trip to Gretna Green
Thomas Rowlandson, 1875

Like this road better than the other. Higher. Better views. The last turnpike in Scotland very near to the bridge of Sark, an inconsiderable [stream] to bound the 2 countries. Painting the iron work of the 3 arch iron bridge over the Esk. Common iron bridge. Not suspension bridge. The coachman says erected 8 years ago. The clerk at the cathedral yesterday said 12 or 15 years ago. ‘Tis 6½ miles from Carlisle. Large peat moss. The great [k…?] tower of the castle is most striking. Are there 3 or only 2 towers in the castle? Perhaps 3 tho’ only see 2 now. Carlisle looks well as one descends upon the fine bridge over the Esk. Alight The Crown & Mitre at 5 50/60. Ours (the Portpatrick), the Edinburgh & Glasgow mails all drive up at once. The Manchester mail too at the door and another coach or 2. What a bustle! All these coaches stop alternately here & at The Bush. Tea & cold meat at 6½. Before & after till 8 50/60 wrote out journal of today. In coming along this afternoon determined to go to Selkirk tomorrow, breakfast at the Duffin’s on Tuesday & get that night to Langton, returning here to take the heavy coach that runs to York from here Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays. Starts at 3¾. Ought to be in York at 9. The London mail that leaves here every evening at 6 40/60 ought to breakfast at Leeds at 9 the next morning. Very fine day. Then settling accounts till 9 10/60. The band played a little as last night. Came to my room at 10 35/60.

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