25 September 1838

MS location unknown. Printed in Coleridge, Life, 137-139.

My dear Anne

Though I wrote to you so short a time ago, I cannot let an opportunity pass without writing. I wished for you last Friday, for I think you would have liked our party of pleasure. As it was St.Matthew’s Day, we asked leave out for Johnnie, Duke, Archer and Charles Wither at seven o’ clock in the morning.1 They came here in a fly, the horses of which were afterwards put on to our close carriage. But I had better tell my own story, for I do not know what was going on at Otterbourne at that time. I have not told you that the occasion of all this set out was to see the first stone of Ampfield Church laid2. At a quarter past ten Duke and I set off in the fly for Mr. Keble’s, Duke to take back word at what time Mr. and Mrs. Keble meant to set off for Ampfield, I to go to church, have my lecture and dine, and a delightful morning I had there. Dinner was over, the gig with Whitethorn, the flea-bitten grey horse, was at the door, and Mr. Keble began to say there was no time to lose. We began to think that mamma was not coming for me, so they said they had room for me; so behind in the carriage I went with Caroline Coxwell, where she and Alethea made that fine telescope with their bonnets on the Netley Abbey day. We were just settled when the carriage came with mamma, but I stayed where I was, and fine fun Caroline and I had, for we went over the park anyhow, over dells which the post-horses behind looked finely amazed at, and we looked back and laughed. Then we came into Ampfield wood and passed the place where Caroline and I left you and mamma sitting near the great ants’ nest, and we talked of that pleasant day. Then we came into the road and there we found a great assembly of people arriving, three carriages from the park, two carriages of our own, and more from all Hursley. The church is in a beautiful place, where the Hampshire paper says ‘An appropriate service was performed by the Rev. J. Keble.’ Little Gilbert Heathcote laid the stone, spread the mortar about underneath in fine style, and finally gave the stone three taps with a mallet.3 Then came some of the 132nd Psalm, which was exceedingly appropriate, especially the sixth verse, when we looked round and saw the plantations of fir-trees round us4. No sooner was the service finished than Mr. Fowlie5 the steward stooped down and kissed Gilbert, saying ‘Little dear.’ You know when Julian6 laid our first stone everybody said ‘Pretty dear,’ which made him very angry, so we had a fine laugh at him. In the evening Johnnie and I had some fine games at backgammon, in every one of which he beat. The Confirmation is to be next Monday, and I am very sorry papa will not be at home on that day. I went to Hursley yesterday for the last time before it, and Mr. Keble gave me my ticket.7 He is so kind as to promise to go on with me after the Confirmation, which I am very glad of. The church bells are to be put up to-day, and the inside is being painted, paved, and plastered, but the work does not make much show. Papa says he wishes the men would employ the time of his absence in drinking all they mean to drink until the church is finished, so Mr. Wither is going to give them a supper on Michaelmas Day I believe. Tell Alethea that Mr. Rudd, the tall man we took the hospital paper to, is dead, and as it was said that he was the handsomest coachman that ever drove to St. James’s, his wife thought, I suppose, that he would make a fine skeleton, so she had his grave done two feet deeper than usual that he might not be dug up again, and employed two people to watch him every night; but those people being great poachers spent the night at the river, and left the poor man to his fate.8 Poor Mrs. Moore has been disappointed of her journey to Bognor, for they were actually on the road, when about Guildford Mr.Moore was taken so ill that she was obliged to go back again, and she does not wish to leave town again. He is better now I believe. I had a letter from Alethea at Heidelbourg the other day. Aunt Duke had had some bad headaches for the last few days, which was the only new news to you I suppose. Old Mag has just had his wing cut, which affronts him very much.9 Mamma held his beak whilst papa cut his wing. I have now three hundred and ninety-seven dried flowers. I hope your work10 will be ready to come by papa as well as Jane’s night-cap. Tell Charles that Julian is learning Greek and has got as far as ο, η, τό, and can read a line of the Greek Testament without help. A gentleman who has been a good deal in Germany told us the other day that Heidelbourg was a bad town, so I am glad that Aunt Duke lives out of it. I enclose the form that was used at the laying the first stone. Give my love to Jane and Frances, and tell them that I hope to have a letter from each of them by papa. Mamma will be very glad of her worsted if you can get it for her, and pray send a pair of black purse sliders, for one of those of the beautiful purse, both yellow and black, is broken, though the purse is as good as new.

In the meantime I am, dear Anne,
your very affectionate
Charlotte M. Yonge

1St.Matthew’s Day is 21 September, presumably a holiday at Winchester School, where Anne’s brothers John Bargus Yonge (1821-1863) and Duke Yonge (1823 -1881) were at school. The other schoolboys were probably Fulbert Archer (1825-1904), a cousin of the Yonges, and Charles Wither (1822-1896), the curate’s youngest brother.
2Ampfield was a village in the parish of Hursley, and Heathcote had paid for the building of a separate church there.
3Compare [[cmybook:]The Daisy Chain] (1856), Part 2, Chapter 22, where a child lays the first stone of a church: ‘Gertrude scooped up the mass of mortar, and spread it about with increasing satisfaction . . slowly down creaked the ponderous corner-stone into the bed that she had prepared for it, and, with a good will, she gave three taps on it with her trowel.’
4Psalm 132, ‘Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions’, was perhaps chosen for the church dedication ceremony because of verse 7: ‘We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool’. The sixth verse is: ‘Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields of the wood.’
5Coleridge prints ‘Fowler’ but Heathcote’s steward was William Fowlie (b.1791/2).
6JBY (1830-1891) had laid the foundation stone of Otterbourne Church in 1838.
7Keble had prepared her for Confirmation, and the ticket signified that she was worthy to receive the sacrament from the Bishop.
8Despite the Anatomy Act (1832), permitting physicians and scientists to dissect the bodies of unclaimed paupers, there was evidently still a market in disinterred bodies, especially unusually large ones.
9A pet magpie.
10i.e. needlework.
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/2938/to-anne-yonge-6

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