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

Wednesday 11 June 1828


Two very good ones last night and two still better this morning, for told her of running away, just when that was coming that ought to come, so she remained as long as I wished the last time and we wet the bed. Breakfast at 11½. We went out at 1. Called at a jeweller’s shop. Some time choosing a guard ring for Miss McL- to give me. Then walked slowly to the Hunterian museum, High Street. Paid 1/. each for our tickets & got into the museum at 1 40/60. (Handsome doric portico & pediment, the front towards the court.) On entering wrote in the book “Mrs Lister & party, Paris.” Struck with the cast of the head of Newton in the possession of Roubiliac, from which he did his monument in Westminster Abbey, which cast got into the possession of Flaxman who presented it to the museum. Birds not much worth seeing after those in Edinburgh. The museum wonderful as chiefly the collection of 1 man (Dr Hunter). The anatomical part very curious. Real subjects in spirits. Could not see the [medicinals] without 3 professors being present with me at the time. This makes the thing nearly impossible at this time of year when almost all the professors are out of town. The collection is that that the coin collector of Louis XV should have bought but the price he offered would not be taken till the owner had tried his fortune in London & he sold it to Dr Hunter (said the man who took our tickets) for more money. Would have this collection finer than that in the royal library at Paris. Unique silver coin of Alexander the Great. Comfortable little rooms too upstairs. A few illuminated works of 1 kind or other. A stereotype plate of a page of a 12mo [duodecimo] [1] edition of Sallust [2] published at Glasgow, proving the inventor to be William Ged, a Scotchman, in 1744, long before introduced by Didot in France. Downstairs in a glass hung up “a shirt completely finished in the loom without one stitch of needlework in the whole, by David Anderson weaver in Glasgow. It is believed that this is the most ingenious piece of work that ever came from the loom.” About 9 years ago. Almost incredible. Shirt neck regularly frilled or gathered in, 2 buttons set on to it, shoulder straps apparently back stitched. Just like an ordinary shirt with an interwoven piece of tablecloth damask in front with the weaver’s name wove on etc.

Hunterian Museum, Glasgow. Line engraving by A. Fox, 1830
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Left the museum at 2 40/60. Went to Bath Street to see the calico patent singeing apparatus. Stopped working. Would not begin again till 4. Bethought me of the James Daltons friends, Dr & Mrs Hooper. Called on them (7 West Bath Street). The doctor out. Saw & stayed 10 minutes with Mrs H-. Very civil. Asked myself & my friend to tea at 8 & her sister would walk with me to the botanic garden if Dr H- was too much engaged. (Miss McL- had walked about waiting for me.) We got home at 3 40/60. Ordered dinner at 5½. Wrote a civil note to Mrs Hooker [3] to say my friend was too much tired to venture out again this evening, but I would be there at 6½.

Off to the Hooper’s. Found Dr H- & the young lady (Miss Turner) ready to go with me to the gardens. A public evening. Band there every Wednesday, much company. Could not possibly get into the greenhouses without Dr H-, full of very valuable plants. About 12,000 different species not counting varieties. Many plants (saw at least ½ a dozen) unique in England except where given by the proprietors here. Fine pawpaw tree, juice of which used commonly in the West Indies to soften and make tender (in the course of 12 hours) the hardest, toughest meat. Curious property of the schinus rollins (knows no other plant having it). When the leaves are broken in small pieces (something like a [spear] of fern leaf?) move about on the water in the drollest way possible. The leaves exude an oil from the wounds (places where broken) & this oil exuding propels the portion of leaf. About 90,000 species plants regularly described. 150,000 known from dried specimens. Decandolle’s new work that he is about will describe about 100,000 species. Dr H- with his pupils always begins with Linnean or artificial system & ends with Decandolle’s or the natural system necessary to [medics] who wish to know the different medical properties. Drummond’s elementary work on botany very good. The best. Smith’s Grammar of Botany good. Among the plants noticed the pitcher plant of India. Most curious. A pitcher with an open lid to it hanging from the end of the leaf. Always moisture (a liquid) in the pitcher etc etc. More rare plants here than anywhere else in England. Some fine plants older elsewhere, as papyrus etc etc, but nowhere so many plants unknown in England. Kew chiefly famous for new Holland & . . . Java? plants.

William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865) in 1834
Plate 12 from Makers of British Botany (1913)

The collection of [medicinals] here has had no addition made to it these 23 years. The Paris collection ditto. That at Munich ditto. That in the British museum better. 3 professors to be present on shewing it is according to the will of the donor, Dr Hunter. Even as it is a few [medicinals] have been stolen. He shewed 2 4to volumes just received (only another copy) of the mosses (300?) collected by Captain Frankland in his last tour. The exterior of the jail containing the law courts very handsome. The interior arrangement very bad, “don’t go to see it.” The Breadalbane mountains near Killin some of the finest scenery in Scotland. But the finest mountains and scenery Dr H- had seen out of Switzerland are in the Isle of Skye. A Scotch (Edinburgh) advocate drinking tea there. The advocates’ library Edinburgh to small for them. Have sold it to the writers for £12,000. Going to build a new one. Dr H- walked home with me. Got home at 10. Dr H- gentlemanly & very agreeable. Mrs H- has always bad health. Ought to be like a gentlewomen? not exactly haut ton [4], but very civil & attentive, ditto ditto her sister, delighted with the hope of going to Italy next spring. On coming away, gave me an enormous & beautiful nosegay. Till 12 20/60 wrote the journal of today & settled accounts. Miss MacLean put on my finger the little guard ring [5].

[1] You may notice when reading Anne Lister’s diaries that she refers to books, as well as by the number of volumes, as ‘4to,’ ‘8to,’ ‘12mo,’ etc. This confused me and I had to look it up. These terms refer to how the book was produced from single sheets of paper, and give a guide to the size of the book. For example, ‘folio’ (abbreviated as ‘fo’) refers to a book made from sheets of paper only folded once; these are generally the biggest books. ‘Quarto’ (abbreviated as ‘4to’) refers to a book made a sheets of paper folded twice, resulting in four leaves. And so on, all the way up to ‘sexagesimo-quarto, (‘64mo’), made of sheets folded 32 times, resulting in a very tiny book.

[2] A Roman historian.

[3] Anne refers here to ‘Mrs Hooker,’ but elsewhere in this entry refers to Dr and Mrs Hooper. I think she must mean ‘Hooker’ as it was a Dr Hooker who was regius professor of botany at Glasgow University, and contributed to the development of the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow (which were founded in 1817, and intended to supply Glasgow University). I’ve seen Hooker referred to as one of the most eminent botanists in the world at his time; Anne certainly had some good contacts!

[4] This now obsolete expression means ‘high tone’ (literal translation from French) or ‘high fashion.’ The ‘ton’ in Anne Lister’s time was a well known term for the fashionable elite of society.

[5] I have done a bit of Googling about ‘guard ring,’ but have yet to find what I consider to be an authoritative source for definition and origin of this term. It seems this may refer to a ring worn to prevent other rings (for example valuable wedding and engagement rings) slipping off the finger, that guard rings were often of sentimental value, and possibly people wore them as alternatives to engagement and wedding rings. I’d love to know more about this; please comment below if you know about this.

You can read the original diary entry here:

6 thoughts on “Wednesday 11 June 1828

  1. Hi,
    Yes, I’m convinced it is Joseph Hooker she meets.
    Re guard ring – information I found online suggests the guard or keeper rings is said to have been invented for the wedding of George III and Queen Charlotte. The ring set with diamonds was worn next to her wedding band.
    I did a bit of research in Glasgow trade directories to see if I could work out which jewellers shop they might have visited but there are too many possibilities. Might have been somewhere in Argyll St, might have been in the new arcade across the street from their lodgings.

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