Update on Percy, Duffin's Death, #poorTib, & Watson's hand is finally healed...


Lawton, Oct 23rd, 1839

My dearest Fred,

You end your letter to me by saying “strange if Watson

“Should hear first from Calais that her sister and niece are at Nottingham, &

“ have been there a fortnight or more” when you wrote this sentence you did not

think how much more strange it must be to me to hear from Egley that Mrs

Lister had passed thro’ London on her way to the continent, yet such was the case

from him I first learnt that you had quitted England. However, we will let

this pass, it is well to move all stumbling blocks against our comfort out of

the way, for the longest journey of life can be but a short one compared to

that which is to follow, and as both you and I are pretty well advanced

on ours it is wise to make as few drawbacks as possible. In your letter you

said if I wrote in a week I must direct so & so, it was not in my power

To do this, and procrastination making as usual depredations on one’s time,

I found at last that I had much exceeded the limits which you had set me

therefore, having nothing but myself to talk about I thought it would be wise to

wait for better materials with which to manufacture a letter, which might

probably have to follow you half the world over and not be worth the

reading when arrived. But perhaps you get English, or even York news-

papers, in which case the bit of novelty which is to season my dull papers,

will prove a twice told tale, if so when you have read it go no farther, for at this

moment I have a conviction that it will be the only thing in my papers


worth your lending your eyes to read. Have you heard that old Duffin

has at last fallen into his last sleep. He died on the 17th of Sept not having

had any increased illness, but the lamp actually going out because there was no

more oil to make it burn, it seemed, however, that a few hours previous to his

departure he had become very much weaker in physical power, but the mind

strengthened & he requested Mr Richardson to be sent for, a few words passed

between the parties and Mrs Duffin has the satisfaction of believing that he said “I

die trusting in my savior Jesus Christ”. On the day of his death I arrived in

York to spend a fortnight with my mother, the next day I called at the door to enquire

how Mrs Duffin was, Ducket met me with a most beaming countenance begging I would walk

in, as he was sure his misses would be glad to see me she having seen a many people

if such was the case I thought I would spare her any more fatigue so I left word that

I would call the next day, which I did, you can understand there was not much

to remind one that it was the House of Death, company came in & went out,

Mrs Duffin cried a little & talked a great deal of the dear departed, Ducket with two wax

candles invited every body to go into the front parlour to admire the beauty of the coffin

& finish of the cloth, & he, at least, was a merry mourner for he said he should have died if

the old man had lived much longer. It was said that a funeral sermon was to

be preached in memory of the departed on the following Sunday & a hope was expressed

that all friends would go, the widow herself intending to attend, as delicately as I could I hinted it was not usual for so near a “connection” to attend on such an occasion, & that I thought it was trying her feelings too much, but it was to be, & very great I think must have been the disappointment, for there was a very thin church & we had a poor unmeaning sermon which might have done for any body or any thing; exceedingly ill delivered & having a very soporific tendency. To be sure what could be said of a poor man who had been so long dead to the

world. Except that he was very sweet & clean, what after all would have been his wife’s praise rather

than his; after the first week I dare say dear Mrs Duffin would console herself with moving all

for you know she can neither bear to stay in the house or be much at home. I am


told she keeps the house as it is, servants and all, therefore I conclude the old

man has left her pretty much all for her life. This I think is the most material

piece of news which I heard in York, except indeed that Isabella Norcliffe had very

nearly been killed by a train of railway carriages going over, & was only saved by what

might have proved a second death, namely a man knocking her backwards off the trains

by which fall she was very much hurt & was seriously ill afterwards. During my stay

in York Ellen Best returned to England & gave a very deplorable account of both Isabella &

Charlotte whom she had left with Cooper all sick at Frankfurt. This did not sound

comfortable I hope both you and your friend are making a more satisfactory & joyous

travel. Perhaps you might hear something of Percy when you were in York, at least if

you saw her father you would hear that she was in a small lodging half a mile

from the town, it grieved me sorely to see the poor child’s young life so spent in

sickness, solitude and I was going to add vacancy, but this would have not have been

true, for I do believe that she has very exalted notions of enduring her present

painful condition, & patiently submitting to it. Her mind I think is in a very

happy state, and this is an unspeakable comfort, tho’ I cannot but look forward

to the fast approaching termination of her brief existence with a painful reminiscence

of the hopes with which I formerly looked forward to the time when in her I should

have some one to love and care for me in my old age. Two out of the three whose

early childhood shared my care will have gone & left me behind, what short sighted

mortals we are! Offley will soon be the only one left, and boys soon make other

interest than those afforded by an old woman. “It seems as if I never loved a flower

“but it was sure to fade away”- At one time we thought of Percy going to Paris

for the winter with an idea that the total change of scene might give some sort of impetus

to the mind, the body seems to resist every attack of medicine, even poisons have been taken

without appearing to make the slightest impressions, no medical man calls her case consumption

& yet they can find no name to give it. Steph is greatly troubled about her & indeed

it is a most distressing case for all parties, & I think her mother begins to suffer from

conflicting feelings she cannot persuade herself that the child is in danger, & yet there is

a feeling against making one in society when she is so great & so hopelessly an invalid.

Mrs Henry (Harriet Belcombe) herself has not been well, & is at this moment I fancy at Harrogate

with the Meeks. Mrs Meek Thompson is dead & Mrs H. B’s brother in law has come into

5 or 6 thousand a year. If his wife would die it would be all the better for Steph’s children, but she

lords it over her poor Husband, as she will where she can over every body else who will let

her. & should he die first I have little doubt but she would marry again as he will leave her

all for her life, probably 200 her own disposal. After my return to York we went to


London for a week I called at Hammersley’s to know if they could give me your

address, they said it was so long since they had heard any thing about you, that they hardly knew

what direction to give but I might take the one if I pleased which will be at the back of this letter

I did please & am going to make use of it as you have already seen. As your letter seems to imply

that you are going to wander over the face of the globe, I have not much hope of my pages ever

reaching you, they won’t be of much loss except to show you that absence does not make my

memory quite so short as yours. Mr L is quite well, and Watson has recovered the use of her

hand as far as she ever will, but it will always "come against her” as the little Doctor says.

I hope you and Adney are quite well, & have had better weather on the other side the


water than we have had on this. My affectionate love

attends you both, I don’t ask you to write, not because I don’t

desire to hear from you, but because I know you had rather

not be bothered with letter writing. Adieu! Affectionately Yours Mary

Envelope Front


Madame Lister

Received Sunday 17 Nov 1839

Answered Tuesday 21 January 1840

From Moscow

Top Right corner of envelope front:

Stockholm 2.50

Petersburg - 57

Moscow - 43