DAYS Like These

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The Independent Culture
18th May, 1863


writes to his sister:

"It has ever been a hobby of mine that a man's life lies in his letters. That is why Hurrell Froude published St Thomas a Beckett's letters, with nothing of his own except what was necessary for illustration or connection of parts. It is the principle, I suppose, of the interest which attached to such novels as Clarissa Harlowe, Evelina etc. And it is exemplified in one of the popular novels of the day, The Woman In White, in which I cannot detect any merit except what lies in the narrative being a living development of events as exhibited in supposed letters, memoranda and quasi-legal depositions."

18th May, 1870


writes in his diary:

"Went down to the Bath Flower Show... Found the first train going down was an excursion train and took a ticket for it. The carriage was nearly full. In the box tunnel as there was no lamp, the people began to strike foul brimstone matches and hand them all down the carriage. All the time we were in the tunnel these lighted matches were travelling from hand to hand in the darkness. Each match lasted the length of the carriage and the red ember was thrown out of the opposite window, by which time another lighted match was seen travelling down the carriage. The carriage was chock full of brimstone fumes... and by the time we got out of the tunnel I was almost suffocated.

20th May, 1847


author, writes in her diary:

"Went to Chelsea, where we soon settled into an interesting talk with Mrs Carlyle. She has been very ill, and the doctors gave her opium and tartar for her cough, which induced, not beautiful dreams and visions, but a miserable feeling of turning to marble herself and lying on marble, her hair, her arms, and her whole person petrifying and adhering to the marble slab on which she lay. One night it was a tombstone - one in Scotland which she well knew. She lay along it with a graver in her hand, carving her own epitaph under another, which she read and knew by heart. It was her mother's. She felt utterly distinct from this prostrate figure, and thought of her with pity and love, looked at different passages in her life, and moralised as a familiar friend. It was more like a madness than anything she has ever experienced."

Ian Irvine