Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1823

20 August 1823

[not complete yet, but this is what I have so far]

Soon began on the erotics last night. Her warmth encouraging. I said this was not like keeping our promise. She answered no and reached a towel to put under us to keep the bed clean on account of her cousin[1]. I had retired too early for her. Am I too soon for you? Yes rather said she and I resumed determined she should have a sufficiently good kiss before I had one. She said she had and we fell asleep. Both awoke at five in the morning and talked till seven. Asked if this was not better than my sleeping in Micklegate. Yes but it was prudence on her part. She had a feeling she could not describe, would make any sacrifice rather than have our connection suspected. She seemed very affectionate and fond of me. Said I was her only comfort, she should be miserable without me. Lou has got rather out of her good books. She said …

Soon began on the erotics last night. Her warmth encouraging. I said this was not like keeping our promise. She answered no and reached a towel to put under us to keep the bed clean on account of her cousin. I had retired too early for her. Am I too soon for you? Yes rather, said she, and I resumed determined she should have a sufficiently good kiss before I had one. She said she had and we fell asleep. Both awoke at five in the morning and talked till seven. Asked if this was not better than my sleeping in Micklegate. Yes, but it was prudence # on her part. She had a feeling she could not describe, would make any sacrifice rather than have our connection suspected. She seemed very affectionate and fond of me, said I was her only comfort, she should be miserable without me. Lou has got rather out of C’s good books she, Lou never got up to breakfast. Living with her uncle had given her very independent notions. He waited for her. Consulted her in everything. She told C- one morning, she got up at the hour that suited her convenience. C- has therefore been sadly out of his best humour this summer and M- sadly fidgeted. Told M- that she did not understand one ½ my letters and misunderstood the other. That my aunt said, speaking of the regard between us, it was much more on one side than the other “on my side than the other.” On my side than hers.

# Tuesday morning 26 August 1823this is very well in its way but she has more of it than love.

Miss Pattison had blushed up to the ears and told her at Manchester that C- complained of her being old and she wished she would try to be warmer when she returned. M said she and C- very well knew the reason of that. She could not seem warm if she did not feel so. M- once sat next Miss Pattison uncle at dinner there and he said of her she looked like one who could love. I agreed, then reverting to ourselves, “This is adultery to all intents and purposes.”
“No,” said she.
“Oh yes M-,
no casuistry can disguise it.”
“Not this then but the other.”
“Well,” said I, choosing to let the thing turn her own way, “I always considered your marriage legal prostitution. We were both wrong, you to do it and I to consent to it, and when I think of blaming others I always remember nothing can at all excuse us but our prior connection.”

I did not pursue the subject nor did M- seem to think much of it. The fear of discovery is strong, it rather increases I think. But her conscience is seared so long as concealment is secure. She said yesterday of Harriet, “If she had never liked Milne I could have made more excuse for her.” Thought I to myself, if none but those who are without sin threw the first stone, Harriet like the woman taken in adultery might escape. Told her she needed not fear my conduct letting out our secret, I could deceive anyone. Then told her how completely I had duped Miss Pickford ## and that the success of such deep deceit almost smote me, but I had done it all for her, M’s, sake. “Why should it smite you, it is deceit that does no one any harm?” I made no reply but mused how sophistry might reign within the breast where none suspected it. How might not this argument be stretched from one deceit to another? Mary, you have passion like the rest but your caution cheats the world out of its scandal. and your courage is weak rather than your principal strong. Yet is it I who write this? She’s true to me yes, but she has not that magnanimity of truth that satisfies a haughty spirit like mine, is too tamely worldly and worldliness is her strength and weakness, her foible and her virtue. She loves me, I do believe her, as well as she is capable of loving, yet her marriage was worldly, her whole conduct is worldly to the farthest verge that craven love can bear. How often has it struck me that years ago, when once talking to Lou about this marriage and the powerful circumstances that almost compelled it, “Well,” said she, “you do not know M-, she is worldly and the match was worldly altogether.” This did indeed strike me at the time but it never struck me as it does at this moment – Thursday 21 August 3 55/60 p.m. 1823. It now opens upon me as the key of all that all I have never yet been able to comprehend in her character. I have doubted her love, doubted her sincerity. How often with an almost bursting heart have I laid aside my papers and my musings because I dared not pursue inconsistencies I could not unravel. I could not deem the dial true, I would not deem it false. The time, the manner of her marriage. To sink January 1815 in oblivion, oh how it broke the magic of my faith for ever, how spite of love it burst the spell that bound my very reason suppliant at her feet. I loathed consent but loathed the asking more. I would have given the yes she sought tho’ it had rent my heart into a hundred thousand shivers it was enough to ask. It was a coward love that dared not brave the storm; & in desperate despair my proud indignant spirit watched it sculk away. How few the higher feeling we then could have in common! The chivalry of heart was gone. Hope’s brightest hues were brushed away. Yet still one melancholy point of union remained. She was unhappy, so was I. Love scorned to leave the ruin desolate, & time she had shaded it so sweetly my heart still lingers in its old abiding place, thoughtless of its broken bowers save when some sudden gust blows thro’ & screeching memory is disturbed. But oh! no more. “The heartknoweth its own bitterness” & it is enough. “Je sens mon couer et je connois les hommes. Je ne suis fait comme aucun

de ceux que j’ai vus; j’ose croise n’etre fait comme aucun de ceux qui existent.” Rousseau’s Confessions, volume and page first.

## Tuesday morning 26 August 1823 did not give the slightest hint of P’s real character, nor does M- at all suspect the truth. I merely said she was the most learned woman I knew and had therefore more penetration than the world in general. M- thought she should feel under restraint before her.

She loves me tho’ it is neither exactly as I wished nor as I too fondly persuaded myself ere years had taught me to weigh human nature in the balance, or unlock the loveliest of bosoms with the key of worldliness. Yes she loves me. My own feelings shall descent to hers, they have done so in part. How I could have adored her had she been more of that angelic being my fancy formed her. No thought, no word, no look had wandered, then surely my every sentiment towards her had had less of earth in it than heaven. How like “the visions of romantic youth”! I know she might have realized that. Je sens mon couer. But no more. No more. I seem unable to return to the dry detail of a journal.  At seven an hour before getting up asked her to get out of bed and

[1] ‘Cousin’ is a euphemism for period.

You can see the original page here:https://www.catalogue.wyjs.org.uk/CalmView/GetImage.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=6a%5cff4bf4-4f2c-480c-8584-1dc4fd28ddef.jpg

One thought on “20 August 1823

  1. Mary, you have passion like the rest but your caution cheats the world out of its scandal.

    This is one of my favourite Anne Lister quotes.

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