WORDS OF THE WEEK

Sotheby's, the London auction house, is to hold a sale of the love letters between 20-year-old Isabella Mayson, later known as the Victorian cook Mrs Beeton, left, and her beau, Samuel. The correspondence was written before their marriage in 1856

Epsom

May 26th /56

As I have here two or three little matters in your note of yesterday which rather puzzled me, I thought I must write and ask an explanation. In the first place, in what does Bella sometimes now pain Sam just a little?

Why does he not wish to be near her? Secondly, what right has he to conjure up in his fertile imagination any such nasty things as rough corners to smooth down, when there is one who loves him better and more fondly than ever one behind did another on this earth at least. Oh Sam I think it is so wrong of you to fancy such dreadful things.

I must certainly say I have always looked up to, and respected, both parents and perhaps have been too mindful of what they say (I mean respecting certain matters), but then in a very short time you will have the entire management of me and I can assure you that you will find in me a most docile and yielding pupil. Pray don't imagine when I am yours - that things will continue the same as they are now. God forbid. Better would it be to put an end to this matter altogether if we thought there was the slightest probability of that, so pray don't tremble for our future happiness. I could not sleep without writing you, so you must excuse this nonsense. Good night, my precious pet, may angels guard and watch over you and give you pleasant dreams, not drab colours and accept the fondest and most sincere love of,

Your devoted,

BELLA MAYSON

Burn this as soon as perused.

June 1st /56

My dearly beloved Sam

I take advantage of this after dinner opportunity to enjoy myself and have a small chat with you on paper although I have really nothing to say, and looking at it in a mercenary point of view my letter will not be worth the postage. I am so continually thinking of you that it seems to do me a vast amount of good even to do a little black and white business, knowing very well that a few lines of nonsense are always acceptable to a certain mutable gentleman be they ever so short or stupid.

Accept my best love and think of me only as,

Yours affectionately, lovingly and truly

BELLA MAYSON

I am looking forward with great pleasure to that evening at the Opera, that is to say if we go by ourselves; rather a bold expression for a maiden of twenty.

1000000 kisses. Good bye, my darling.

June 16th 1856

My very dear Sam,

I have just returned from Brighton and hasten to write you a few lines just to give you a short account of my trip to Brighton.

In the first place I was very much disappointed at your not coming on Saturday evening. I waited and looked out anxiously for you but no Sam did I see to gladden my eyes. Naughty and very cruel of you to serve me so to serve me so, as Polly Hopkins says. We arrived about noon at Brighton and immediately went shopping for the small children to appear at our wedding in something more than usual.

We shall not be in Town till Thursday when I hope to see you. Could you not run down to-morrow evening to see me. It seems such an age since I have spoken with you and I can assure you I quite long for a quiet little chat with my old man, my dear darling venerable.

London Bouverie

Sunday Eveg 9 o'c

My dearest Bella,

As I have been completely sold to-day, and am feeling horribly blue, wretchedly cobalt, disagreeably desolate, I am going to wreak my miserableness on you, and bother you about a lot of things of which I have been thinking.

First of all, by some misunderstanding, Mr Hegarty didn't dine with us to-day and consequently I had not even the satisfaction of being able to say unto myself Well, if you would have preferred being with Bella, still you are doing your duty in paying all the respect you can unto a good fellow, and most valued friend of your Father's - you see I couldn't even gammon myself with that small specific, so I ate my dinner with the best grace possible, potted everybody, was surly to all, and escaped to my den in Bouverie - have written a multitude of people on different matters, looked at Ledgers, Cash books, Cheque books, etc., and, after all this dreadful wickedness, complete the scene by annoying you.

I commenced the day badly I fear, for I was violating the Sabbath by violetting in the field and roads, this morning, round Pinner.

London, Bouverie

Friday aftn.

My dearest Bella

How shall I thank you enough for your kind note - in what way can I pour forth my appreciation of your thoughtfulness and goodness in writing to me in so fond a manner? I give up the sweet talk in despair, for if one were to search out the most telling words of gratitude from all the vocabularies, written and underwritten, of all the nations - the mystic Chaldea the classic Latin, the pure Greek, the rare Hindostanee, the trenchant Saxon, the modern French, the mellifluous Italian - yet would all these fall far short of expressing that sentiment of thankfulness which I so strongly feel. The pleasure I derived from your letter, too, was heightened by the knowledge that my friend Fred likewise received an epistle from Brighton so, knowing how much I prized your fondly written lines, I could estimate his gratification of the receipt of his epistle.

The Beeton letters and a large collection of cookery books will be auctioned at Sotheby's on 10 April. For details phone: Polly Bayntun-Coward 0171- 408 5301.

Last week we inadvertently reported that the Radio 4 play 'Spoonface Steinberg' was to be repeated on February 4. It is, in fact, to be broadcast again on February 22 after an unprecedented demand for the repeat. We are sorry that we did not credit Lee Hall as the author of the piece. Lee Hall's first play, 'I Love You Jimmy Spud', is to be filmed this summer.

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