Anne Lister diary transcriptions Anne Lister's diary 1828 Anne Lister's diary July 1828

Monday 21 July 1828


Wrote the last 10 lines & breakfast at 10 55/60. Settled my accounts in about ½ hour & had just done them at 1¼. Heavy shower or [?][?] going by boat to Dunstaffnage. Off at 1 55/60 to the little pier & there embarked a small, light boat with 2 rowers at 2 5/60. Landed at Dunolly Castle at 2 25/60. Finely situated close to the water on a rock perpendicular on 3 sides but not apparently basaltic. More like sandstone. All around breccia-rock coast (270/415). Walked up to the house. A minute or 2 there. Saw the dowager Mrs McDougal & her daughter Colina (who has now a small house in York) & the young Laird’s wife (large in a family way, her boy a 10 months old), a Miss Timmins of Cheltenham, an only daughter of a captain of an Indianman. £7,000 [dower], may have about £30,000. McDougal of McDougal a commander in the navy, the estate £1,200 a year. The jointure perhaps £200 a year, the girls’ portions £1,000 each. Colina, at the age of 24, to be well married in autumn. The oldest son in the army killed in Spain. Miss Colina walked up with us to the castle (the small, white house just at its foot). Chiefly pulled down (by the great great grandfather of the present McDougal) to built the bit of a house. Nothing therefore remaining but the gutted square tower. A new garden made about the foot of the rock, close to the shore (water’s edge). A small cave discovered with skeleton standing upright hanging against the rock (very small skull, very narrow brow) & the [appearance] of another cave (still unopened) close by. These caves supposed to have communicated with what was the prison. They were discovered 6 or 8 months ago in sinking for the garden. Old Mrs MacD once found guilty of stealing lace in a shop and her daughter Louisa stole all sorts of things at Redford. This history brought on by my observing Mrs MacD’s saying that she and the Bromptons in York “were thick as thieves.” The McDougals asked us to dinner but we declined the invitation, said we were not quite well & were [hurried].

Dunollie Castle
Photo by Timo Newton-Syms, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Off from Dunolly Castle at 3 5/60. Land at Dunstaffnage Castle at 4 12/60. Founded on a promontory of breccia-rock (the foundation seen unequally rising & falling according to the unequal surface of the rock) but not a very “bold” one. Vid. Scottish Tourist, 269-70/415. A square building having 3 round towers at 3 of its corners. Sad ruined staircase by which one ascends to the modern, poor, shabby, comfortless, white house within the square. A large tree growing in the north round tower. The south ditto – seems to have been 1. The habitable parts now quite gutted. Ramparts round the square or curtain? The young laird (the heir to his uncle, now and long madman in confinement) there today. Talks of pulling down the old house & building a new one within the square. Went to the chapel. No roof. Quite a ruin. But a public burying place still. Tried the echo too, along the rock near the chapel.

Dunstaffnage Castle
Photo by PaulT (Gunther Tschuch), licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Re-embarked & off from Dunstaffnage at 5. Fine view of Loch Nell (Dunstaffnage Castle at the mouth of Loch Etive), Lismore backed by the hills of Morvern so as to seem the very foot of them. The bold mountain coast of Mull down to Loch [Buy] & the picturesque highish breccia coast towards Oban. Dunolly finely situated. Isle of Kerĕra finely shuts in the excellent harbour of Oban, a very pretty, good, white village, very prettily built around the bay. Land near the inn at 6 25/60, having had very fine weather, the sea as smooth as glass. Like a nappe d’eau. Never saw on eastern coast Scarborough sea so smooth. Broad white weed and star fish here & there at the bottom (& blister fish floating mid-way) a fathom or more deep, close under the dark breccia rock resting on light sandstone? covered with shells.

Oban harbour
Photo by Alex Liivet, made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

About ½ way home from Dunstaff saw a curiously ruffled patch in the water. ‘Twas a little shoal of maccarel. 2 seals too in the water close in shore. On landing went for a minute or 2 to see McDonald’s sister, Mrs Waddell, a very young-looking women, married most respectably to the baker here [1]. Got back to the inn at 6 33/60. Dinner at 7¼. Sat talking till 10½ then wrote all but the 1st few lines (11 lines written before dinner) of today, which took me till 11. Dull day but fair till 1. Then near an hour’s rain. Afterwards very fine afternoon & evening. Went to her bed from twelve and twenty minutes to one and three quarters. Very long kiss. Very comfortable to her at first and really good to me.

[1] McDonald was a maidservant at Anne’s home, Shibden Hall.

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