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

Thursday 5 June 1828

11 5/60

I had no idea she would have taken things so composedly last night but somehow she seemed to have expected extremities for when I accused her of having washed with cold water for I knew not how long, on purpose not to be not too warm (that is dry) to me, she owned she had. She was desperately dry, for after handling her & right middle up a little I got her near to me (first time) & could not make much of it. Told her we should do better another time. By & by tried her again but not much better tho’ I did feel a little myself. She certainly did not scold me & in spite of dryness seemed to have pleasure or move about a little as if she had. She was not at all awkward in letting me get near & laughed when I charged her with so washing, which I said was destruction to everything. This morning awaked before eight but roused up at nine. She begged me not to begin again when it was light, on which I got up & shut the shutters & had her without a word. After a little handling said she was better, but I hoped we should still improve for she was hardly yet mine, then put up my right middle finger by way of opening her a little for tonight. Very tight. She said I hurt her a little. I could not get up to make her bleed. She said I should cease to respect her. I said no. I should like her less. No. She said it was not right at all, about scruples. Enlarged on my natural taste etc etc with my usual arguments on the subject. Never denied my being harum skarum. Had never refused by any one. Only asked her forgiveness. She said she had nothing to forgive, it was her own fault, like me better for being candid in owning my past conduct. In fact she takes very kindly to me & said perhaps I was not wrong when I told her today I had never despaired of her present, knew she liked me from the first & certainly from the time of our meeting at Esholt. She said she always thought my manners different from those of anybody else & thought of me more than I fancied or she then understood.

Breakfast at 12 20/60. Best breakfast we have had, or that I have had for long. Excellent (tea for Miss McL-) milk, bread & butter, little fried pieces of mutton, ham & marmalade very good & eggs. On sending for the landlord he wanted full price for the return chaise & tired horses of yesterday. Said I had never heard of such a thing so he came down to 10/., that is (10 miles), 9d per mile ½ price, and 3d per mile additional for, as he said, duty to government. Do return chaises pay this duty? Then agreed for chaise to Balloch 8 miles & if to Dumbarton, the 4 miles more & back chaise. Balloch 9d per mile + 3d per mile duty, & 1/. for baiting the horses at Dumbarton. Thoroughly rainy morning. Off from Drummond, a pretty enough nice little village, at 2. A picturesque good bridge of 4 pointed arches over the Endrick water. At a little distance (right) pass Buchanan, a 2 storied not handsome enough house for a duke of Montrose. A merely common gentleman’s house, but the postboy said “a very fine policy,” meaning fine grounds & excellent gardens. Close here in the midst of the duke’s property is the picturesque ruin of the Castle of Maines belonging together with a [?] around it to a Mr Gowan. At 2¼ first & very pretty peep of Loch Lomond, & see it better by & by for a short while. Bad weather makes all dreary & the road seemed so for the 1st 2 or 3 miles afterwards wooded & pretty. Very pretty from the good village of Renton (where is the column in memory of Smollett[1]) to Dumbarton.

From Annals of the road : or, Notes on mail and stage coaching in Great Britain, 1876,Charles James Apperley and Harold Esdaile Male. Vehicles shown are stagecoach (top), post chaise (middle) and gig (bottom, overturned).

The man said as it raining so fast & the castle was a mile off, he had best drive us there. He did so and alighted at the castle gate at the foot of the very fine basatic[2] isolated rock at 4½. A soldier shewed us round, mounting up the steps along the natural cleft in the rock. Very fine. 280 steps up to the barracks (which will hold about 106 or 130? men. Only 17 there now of the 1st foot (royals)) & 100 steps more up to the flag-staff, or the highest point of rock, over the Clyde & near to what they call Wallace’s Tower, of which nothing remains but some rough foundation wall seeming to embrace a single point of rock. Just went into the small armoury of modern arms merely to see Wallace’s 2-handed sword. Steel, 5 feet 4 inches long, tho’ unfortunately shortened by 9½ inches about 17 years ago by a Miss Fisher of Glasgow who, being considered a very strong lady, was trying to balance the sword on its point on her hand (the arm stretched out) & did so, but let it fall & thus broke off the length above named.

Then mounted the point over Dumbarton. Very fine view. Then a little higher to the powder magazine. Then on the highest & flag-staff point (flags always hoisted in Scotland on a Sunday). Very fine view. Benlomond. 2 steps on one side to his rounded summit & one on the other. A white line around him, his foot the water of the lake. The Leven & its junction with the fine broad Clyde. The Ayr steam boat that ran down the Comet, at that moment passing. 2 or 3 more following. Dumbarton prettily sheltered along the Leven just before its broad junction with the Clyde. On a fine day can see the smoke of Glasgow eastward, & westward very clearly port Glasgow & Greenock. The hills of Argyle south & the Grampians north finely shut in the view. How much finer to us the view from Dumbarton Castle than from Stirling Castle! How much more interesting or better worth seeing the castle & its finely cleft rock. The look up along the flights of steps most striking. Glad to have come here. Fair as we alighted & cleared up for us while (¾ hour) we were at the castle.

Looking north across the River Clyde towards Dumbarton Castle, photographer Alan Hughes

Off at 5 & alighted at the King’s Arms (Scorey) at Dumbarton at 5 7/60. The King’s Arms (near to the castle) & the Elephant the 2 best inns in Dumbarton & the former at least large & apparently good. Sat down & wrote the latter 1½ page & finished my letter begun yesterday to M-. How disappointed to have no letter from her in Edinburgh, this the only drawback on my tour. Begged her to write to me at “Alexander McL-’s Esquire of Coll, Tobermory, N. B.,” where I hoped to be in 8 or 10 days at most. Account of my journey from leaving York up to today, the moment of writing. Gave my letter at 5 55/60 to the waiter with 4 or 5 of Miss McL’s to go at 7 by the post to Glasgow. To “Mrs L-, Lawton Hall, L-, Cheshire, S. B.” Then sat down to tea at 5 55/60 and at 6 55/60 off from Dumbarton, a good little town. 2 black looking glass houses, but no smoke from them then.  Neat modern church & neat town. Very pretty drive to Balloch. Prettier back than coming. Very nice small inn, the property of Sir James Colquhoun of Luss. The steam boats under the [window]. Beautiful view of the south end of the lake (Loch Lomond) sun setting finely over the Grampians & glittering over the smooth water. [Great] [opposition] now. 2 steam boats on the lake. Shall therefore get to Tarbet for 2/., ought to pay 5/.

From 8 40/60 to 10 settling my travelling accounts since leaving Edinburgh on the 31st ult. 6 days our expenses average 1.14.10 5/6. From 10 to 11½ wrote the whole of today & the last 4 lines of yesterday. To sleep together again. She evidently liking it. Then till 11¾ making out itinerary from the day of leaving York, Thursday 15 May. Rainy day till 4¼. A little rain again between 5 & 7 and afterwards fine evening.

[1] Tobias Smollett, Scottish poet and novelist (1721-1771).

[2] I think she means ‘basaltic.’

You can see the original diary page here:

12 thoughts on “Thursday 5 June 1828

  1. I came across another version of the story of Wallace’s sword in a tourist journal today quite by chance. Anonymous tour journal from 1812:
    “… we were shown the sword of the famous Sir William Wallace, which [is] a prodigious weight and still about 4 feet long tho’ we were informed a lady out of the great love she bore him broke of[f] a peice [sic] of about 26 inches long which she kept as a remembrance of the illustrious hero…”
    It would be really interesting to track stories like these which I assume were told to tourist by local guides. Whether the stories got modified through writing them down or whether the guides gave out different stories at different times would be interesting to study.

    1. Fascinating! I wonder if the ‘Miss Fisher of Glasgow’ story was produced for AL because she seemed to be a ‘very strong lady’ herself.

  2. It is pure conjecture on my part in both cases. Firstly was or could the unclear word be interpreted as grounds or gardens? Doing a bit of research and reading around Balloch Castle, although the old castle dates back to the 13th Century, in 1808 a new castle was built for John Buchanan of Ardoch. It was designed by Robert Lugar, who also designed Tullichewan Castle. John Buchanan was one of the original partners in the Glasgow Ship Bank and he signed all the bank notes at the castle. In an Historic Scotland website [] is the following ..

    “Within a spectacular lochside setting, the landscape park typical of the early 19th century remains strongly evident, while improvements in the second half of the 20th century, associated with Country Park status, introduced shrubberies and woodland walks…… [further on] … The tree and shrub collection started by John Buchanan and continued by Gibson Stott gives Balloch high Horticultural value.

    Purely conjecture as I mention, but I fancy for someone like Anne who while then not the outright owner of Shipden at the time had aspirations for some improvement – the rebuilding of the old Balloch castle with a new grander castle – it could would have been worth seeing as they passed by?

    Secondly, again conjecture I mention the similarities in Anne’s diary, more as a narrative style and timeline rather than her copying passages. As we know, Anne traveled with (and possibly planned her itinerary) a copy of The Scottish Tourist. My thoughts on The Steamboat guide reflect a more prosaic condensed version of a guided tour around Scotland rather than her copying passages. Her diary narrative of what she saw or experienced is exactly her own words. What fascinates me however is the speed at which she travels, especially in Europe later in time. Anne wasted not a minute on these jaunts, or meeting people or assimilating facts, which makes me sit back and think how on earth did she absorb all this detail in 24 hours. Amazing. Which brought me to the possibly then that additional references came from guides (books) or discussions after the event. I do exactly the same when somewhere new or traveling in that I back reference where I’ve been with later research before writing about it. Musing then that with Scottish Tourist entries for a particular place are often provided as a lengthy read whereas in The Steamboat, the pace is quicker with summary notes are given adjacent to certain sections, perfect for a ‘stranger’ in a hurry. Love that concept Strangers Guide. Did Anne pick up a copy? or Sibella? It would be interesting to discover if they had.

    Of course I could be absolutely wrong about both counts – that’s what keeps me coming back to Anne and her world.

    Doing a bit more research before replying to the above, I’m intrigued by Anne’s reference to Wallace’s Tower. I can’t find a reference to a Wallace’s Tower in the area, which is not an issue as names change all the time and Wallace was brought to Dunbarton Castle after his capture. However I did stumble across this. (as a researcher Anne’s diaries open up whole new avenues of interest in me).

    “… Dr David Caldwell, National Museum of Scotland . The so-called Wallace Sword is actually a type of Scottish sword that dates to the late 16th century. This sword was seen at Dumbarton Castle by the famous poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy when they toured Scotland in 1803. One of the soldiers in the garrison told them it was Wallace’s. This is the first time the sword is known to have been associated with the Scottish hero – was the soldier deliberately telling a tale for these English visitors? ”

    The Sword’s provenance continues – Wallace’s sword was remodeled at least once after his death and moved to Stirling Castle in 1888 where I’ve seen it in the Wallace Monument.

    1. Thank you so much for this information. I have to balance researching the historical context with making progress with the transcriptions, and always want to know more. I’ve make cursory efforts to find out more about the ‘very strong lady’ Miss Fisher of Glasgow, but nothing obvious available online. Can you turn anything up?

      1. So far I’ve failed to find any provenance for this sword story. I’ve been in touch with the Wallace Monument and the National Archives in Scotland, nothing so far. But it intrigues me.

        1. It’s great you’ve been trying to find out about this. Do let me know if you manage to turn anything up, I’d love to know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top