30 September 1832

Awake at five and from then to getting up, lay thinking of Miss W-; at nine incurred the cross – I really am getting much more in love than I expected to be again – in fact, she likes [me], it is evident, and I think we shall be very happy together.

Just gently named to Marian, when alone with her, that I really wished she would never again set at me as she did last night – and she began roaring again, saying we did not suit, and she would go away etc. This always annoys me, and at last I am inclined to make it a rule never to mention Marian in any way to anyone.

29 September 1832

[Mrs Priestley and I] very good friends – told her I had lately heard it said she was a very fascinating person – all I said was kind and friendly as ever, and perhaps more flattering than usual on the subject of her fascination – at which she seemed not displeased. Quite as friendly, open and consulting as ever.

We now get on beautifully – I obscurely lovemaking and she all smiles – said felt sure of my own happiness and I might be equally so of hers. Oh, she was sure of hers, but had been thinking last night whether she could make me happy and be a companion for me. She said how happy she now felt and looked so, as we sat on the sofa. Joked her about being so formal in not taking cream till I had helped myself – she smiled and [said] she would not do so at home, but her aunt would have been astonished if she had not done as she did.

In moralising a little on how much we had both to be thankful for, how happy we should be etc – she said yes, she had often looked at all her things and said ‘what was the use of having them with nobody to enjoy them with her?’ She said it all seemed now like a dream to her – I told her I had made up my mind in May – the moment I was at liberty to do so – so that it had been well enough digested by me, however sudden it might seem to her – and that I have my happiness into her keeping in perfect security – said I had built the hut on purpose for her – talked of our journey.

She is to have Mr and Mrs Ainsworth in February – they cannot come before – she wishes not to put them off and, all other things suiting, would rather not go till February. Said I would wait for her.

Talked of (and advised her) letting her house at Lidgate to our steward Washington – she would never want it again as long as there was room for us at Shibden. I laughed and said, ‘let Cliff Hill’ – but on her saying ‘Cliff Hill!’, [I] thought it was too early in our day to mention, and said I was only joking. But I shall manage it all by and by – she is getting more and more attached to me, and I really do begin to be in love in good earnest. Her countenance lightens up, she looks happy and I begin to think her at times pretty. I begged her to take up her French and sketching again – and we already begin to feel at home together – and very much (however little she may understand it) like engaged lovers.

Her servant came home with me with a lantern to Mytholm Hill – where I sent him back on meeting Cordingley and Rachel.

[Stayed up till 11 with my aunt] telling her my real sentiments about Miss Walker and my expectations – that the chances were ten to one in favour of our travelling and ultimately settling together. My aunt not to appear to know anything about it, even to [old] Miss W-, till I had mentioned it to the latter. My aunt [said] it had really come into her head as she say in the drawing room this afternoon and seemed very well pleased at my choice and prospects. I said she had three thousand a year or very near it, as I had understood some time since from the Priestleys. She thought my father would be pleased if he knew, and so would both my uncles. Came upstairs at 11.

28 September 1832

Musing before getting up, and as I dressed, of Miss Walker – I think we should be happy together – I should gently lead her into my own ways and soon be really attached to her, to the exclusion of all care for anyone else.

Or rather, the last twenty-five minutes incurred a cross thinking of Miss Walker – I shall think myself into being in love with her – I am already persuaded I like her quite well enough for comfort.

Bordering on love making in the hut – said I should certainly take her off with me – hoped she could trust me. Yes, she had the greatest confidence in me, and our going together was actually agreed on – and we afterwards talking of it as a thing settled, depending only on our respective aunts, both of whom [are] in a precarious way.

Our liaison is now established – it is to be named to nobody but her sister and aunt and my aunt, and that not till a week or ten days before being off. We shall now go on swimmingly and our courtship will progress naturally – she already likes me – perhaps scarce knows how [much], and we shall both be in love seriously enough before our journey.

I should breakfast at Lightcliffe tomorrow and [would say I] could not resist calling as I returned, to ask if she had got cold – if she is out, I am to go to her at Cliff Hill. My aunt had hoped she would come on Monday, to which she readily consented – so that we shall probably see a good deal of each other. She looks happy and as if the remainder of the victory to be won would not cost me too much difficulty. Thought I, as I returned, ‘well, M- set me at liberty in May – in less than five months I am re-provided [for] and the object of my choice have perhaps three thousand a year or near it, probably two thirds at her own disposal. No bad pis aller – even if I liked her less – a better take than Lady Gordon or perhaps Vere either. Well, now I will be steady and constant and make the poor girl as happy as I can, so that she shall have no reason to repent.

[On my return home, found on my desk [a] parcel: the letter-press (presse-papier) and note from Miss Walker – explaining about Collins and that she should hope to find me in my walk between 3 & 5 – begins with ‘I have real pleasure in sending the letter-press, tho’ my own motive, and its possible utility, are its only recommendation to your acceptance] We are in smooth waters now – she tells me more and more of her affairs – she feels at ease and happier with me than perhaps she could easily explain, and probably we shall both be impatient by and by to be off. I myself am surprised at my so rapid success and at the novelty of my situation. Perhaps after all, she will make me really happier than any of my former flames – at all rates we shall have money enough and I don’t fancy she will either be close or stingy or cold to me. Had just written the above of today at 8 ¾. How little my aunt thinks what is going on! M- believes me safe at home and dreams not how she is losing all chance of me – she is right served.

[Margin] Like the day of engagement between Miss W- and me.

27 September 1832

Miss W- and I very cosy and confidential – on parting, she said she knew not when she had spent so pleasant a day – I believe her – she sat and sat in the moss house, hardly liking to move. Of course, I made myself agreeable, and I think she already likes me more than she herself is aware. She seemed pleased at my reminding her of our walk ten years ago by Hilltop etc – when I joked about her going abroad – said it had always been my intention to make the offer more seriously as soon as I could – that she must remember I had always been in the same strain – that I had never joked anyone else in the same way, and I hoped she would now understand that I was more serious than she supposed. She said her uncle and aunt Atkinson had said I should get her abroad – but that she had told them ‘oh no, it was all joke’. Ah, said I, ‘then they understood me better than you did’. She had told me before that she was always told I was not to be depended on – I successfully parried this and she believes me.

We talked of the Priestleys etc – I dextrously giving her to understand that she would turn me quite. I consulted her in all frankness of confidence what I should about the French maid etc. Talked to her about planting trees at Shibden etc etc – said how much change the climate would do her – and I now really believe she will go with me! She seems to take all I say for gospel. Advised to fight shy of the Harveys when they come to Crow Nest – not to enter into dinner visits with them and, in fact, she seems inclined to follow my advice implicitly – she consults me about her affairs.

Said she was sure people never meant us to get together – that Mrs Stansfield Rawson looked odd on finding me there – and in short we congratulated ourselves that chance and Doctor Kenny (I always thank her for the kindness of telling me the plot to catch Marian) had made us better acquainted. She said she would call on my aunt on Monday – I to meet her between nine and ten. I really did feel rather in love with her in the hut, and as we returned. I shall pay due court for the next few months – and after all, I really think I can make her happy and myself too.

‘Well’, said I to myself as I left her, ‘she is more in for it than she thinks – she likes me certainly’. We laughed at the idea of the talk our going abroad together would [stir] – she said it would be as good as a marriage – yes, said I, quite as good or better. She falls into my views of things admirably. I believe I shall succeed with her – if I do, I will really try to make her happy – and I shall be thankful to heaven for the mercy of bringing me home, having first saved me from Vere, rid me of M-, and set me at liberty.

We shall have money enough. She will look up to me and soon feel attached and I, after all my turmoils, shall be steady and, if God so wills it, happy. If Vere had rank and was more charming, she would have always thought she did me a favour – and M- has annoyed me too often. I can gently mould Miss W- to my wishes – and may we not be happy? How strange the fate of things! If after all, my companion for life should be Miss Walker – she was nine-and-twenty a little while ago! How little my aunt or anyone suspects that I am about! Nor shall it be surmised till all is settled.

26 September 1832

Incurred a cross thinking of Miss Walker.

[Called at Lightcliffe – Mrs Priestley out – then called to inquire if Miss Walker was returned – yes! Last night – sat with her from 1250 to 220, she had brought me a presse-papier from the marble works at Kendal] Very civil conversation, quite confidential, and we really get on very well, yet she said she could not go to Italy, They give old Washington seventy pounds a year and young ditto the same for the management of the property.

25 September 1832

[Letter from M-] [‘I am very unwilling, my dearest Fred, to cuff you to another person that does not learn to share your own mind on the best – but it seems to me that Eugénie is the person of all others to suit you’ – However, she went to see Miss Smith and let me know what she thought of her…I scarce know what to do – poor M- seems not very confident off that long expected, C[harles] would be beside himself and often told M- so.] Her letter seems as if she thought of me affectionately – does she half repent the break between us? Heaven only knows. If I can get Miss Walker, M- will be surprised – she talks of my probably settling abroad for some years. [M- would not advise me to take a foreigner if I was going to remain at home, but on my return advise me to ‘take a steady, respectable woman who you can depend upon to look after your other servants’]. This seems as if M- had no thought of ever being with me.

23 September 1832

Brushing pelisse.

[Letter to Mrs Norcliffe, chit chat] but at the end said I would ask her to help me out with a hundred pounds for the last month or two of the year if I wanted it and, therefore, on second thoughts, determined not to send the letter.