August 12. [1869]

MS location unknown. Printed in Coleridge, Life 252-253

My dear Marianne-
This last day will be a very quiet one, for M. de Witt is gone to a horse-fair at Falaise, and Julian, Frances and Miss Martin are gone with him, starting at eight this morning, and coming home at eleven at night; unluckily I could not go, and Mme. de Witt caught a bad cold yesterday and I fear will not be good for much to-day. Caen had to be given up because of all the comings and goings last week, so my Norman experience is solely of Val Richer, where it seems Thomas à Becket once came and spent some time, and there used to be an old man who kept up the tradition of the place where he used to pray, but the old buildings are all gone now, except some of the barns where we went yesterday to see the enormous casks of cider and of brandy. M. de Witt takes out a license, makes brandy of cider and sells it, but there is a heavy excise duty, and the poor people cannot understand at all his not choosing to do it surreptitiously. Such enormous barrels, big enough for twenty men to get into; Julian did get into one by the little door, like an entrance into a cavern. The hay is all stored in lofts and barns, haystacks being unknown. There is little to tell about the day ; we took a long pleasant walk in the woods, and had a great hunt for the green frogs—beautiful fellows, bright grass green, with a yellow line down their backs, and black and gold eyes and marblings on their legs. They really are the sort that are eaten in the south, and they hop tremendously. We asked if they had stag beetles, and it appeared that not only they had and called them cervalons, but that when M. Guizot was a baby one got hold of his nose, and had to have its pincers cut off before he could be released. I had a very interesting talk with Mme. de Witt about various matters. She had been asked to write for the International Magazine that is setting up with a view to woman’s rights, in which she is a believer, and we went on to a good many things.1 There is very little governessing in France, but if girls are troublesome they are sent to convents, or if not they get their education entirely by lectures, like the Queen’s College system. One girl she knew who was married out of a convent into a very intellectual family had never read a whole book through in her life, and for three years her husband kept her continually studying to be on a level with the rest of his family. M. Guizot, she says, is all alive to everything that goes on, except that he lets himself rest from politics. Indeed we touch the less on our own that Miss Martin is very radical indeed, so we don’t want to fight our own battles, but one day we had a talk without her about his view of us, and I got further at his opinions from his daughter, and they are anything but Gladstonian. It is said that the House of Lords have raised themselves immensely in Continental estimation by their behaviour and speeches on the Irish Church matter. I think some blunder must have befallen our newspapers, for the Saturday Review is the only one that has arrived, and that M. Guizot eagerly snapped up, but a scrap from Mr. Wither tells us that Anne Collins reports Dr. Moberly to be Bishop of Sarum, so I am writing to Mrs. M., which brings this letter to an end. I suspect for the future you will get more hurried ones, with more events.

Our evening amusement was bits from Vitré’s Scènes Historiques of the Conspiration d’Amboise, where Condé (1st) is made to be smitten with Mary of Scotland, which M. Guizot says is historical, and certainly is very likely.-2

Your most affectionate

1The International Magazine is unidentified.
2The book referred to here was perhaps Albert Germeau, La Réforme en 1560, ou, le tumulte d'Amboise: scènes historiques (Paris: Levavasseur 1829).
Cite this letter

The Letters of Charlotte Mary Yonge(1823-1901) edited by Charlotte Mitchell, Ellen Jordan and Helen Schinske.

URL to this Letter is: https://c21ch.newcastle.edu.au/yonge/2333/to-mary-anne-dyson-10-3

One Comment
  1. Ellen Jordan says:

    Could you add a bit more about Queen’s College, Harley Street. E.G. founded in 1848 to improve the education of governesses, with the lectures by King’s College professors open to other women as well. Set a pattern which influenced girls’ education for the rest of the century. Still exists today.

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