Online exhibition

A letter by Anne Lister and Ann Walker 1st August, 1834

To mark Yorkshire Day, this letter written by both Ann Walker and Anne Lister on the 1st August 1834 is published here for the first time. Recently acquired by Calderdale Museums, the letter will be on display in the Shibden 600 exhibition opening January 2022.

Page 1

My dear Aunt

We have been so very busy since we last wrote that this is almost the first leisure hour we have had. We went to the grand Musical performance at Geneva; that in the Church was very inferior to those we have in England, & the singing very indifferent, the second day’s performance was in the Theatre, & tho’ we went two hours before it commenced, & had even then much difficulty in getting in we were amply repaid by hearing M.’s Concerto on the flute, it was really perfect, & the audience so absorbed, you might have heard a pin drop, notwithstanding every part of the house was filled to excess the Theatre was beautifully decorated, the front of each tier of boxes being wound with white calico, ornamented at the top & bottom with wreaths of roses, & in the middle of the first tier, the arms of the 24 Swiss Cantons were displayed. All the Performers were amateurs: we left Geneva on Saturday & slept at [Annecy], a very nice small town prettily situated near the Lake to the head of which we went on Sunday, & saw the chateau which formerly belonged to the Marquise de[ Salle] on our return: this took us about four hours & a half, & we then resumed our route with the intention

Page 2

of passing the night at Ai.., however on our arrival, the place was so full of strangers, 1200 in that little town, not a bed nor even a dinner could be procured, therefore after just seeing the Baths we were obliged to proceed to Chambery, hungry as we were; & we at last sat down to dinner at the very fashionable hour of eleven o’clock at night. We remained at Chambery till yesterday, making little excursions to other celebrated places in the neighbourhood, Charmette; Rousseau’s residence, le bout du monde, where there are some very extraordinary cascades, the water of two of them being cold in summer & quite hot in winter, the waterfall at Crecy; & the monastery of Hautecombe, where the Sardinian kings were interred til the last five generations. all the tombs were of Scyssch stone, which is quite white the Church is undergoing a thorough repair & beautifying twill be very handsome when finished. The .... from Chambery here is very pretty & picturesque, but we have not seen any scenery equal to the ravine & gorge in our ride to the Grand Chartreuse today. just after we arrived at the little auberge near the monastery, a pelting thunderstorm came on we waited very quietly till the rain ceased, & were so fortunate as to get back without any: the weather is very unsettled just now, but as the

Page 3

Moon is about changing her quarters, we hope it will soon take up again, we go to Montmelian tomorrow & Anne will tell you.. the remainder of our route; we shall be anxious till we get to Paris; as we shall not be able to hear from you again sooner. I hope you continue to get into the garden when the weather is favourable, & that Mr. Lister is better. I leave the remainder of my paper for Anne, and my best love to Mr. Lister & Marian & believe me my dear Aunt, Yours very affectionately Ann Walker.

Fri. ... 1 Augst 1834 Town of Les Echelles, ½ in Savoy, ½ in France -

My dear Aunt – Ann has so well told you our history since leaving Geneva, I have little more to add – the weather continued threatening, that, tho’ it has in fact been fine, I did not dare return to the high alps – we have therefore taken the two very pretty lakes of Annecy and Bourget, and Chambery in our way to Grenoble where we shall now go – you know how long I have wished to see this last named town, and the valley of the Isere – from there we shall go to Lyons for a day or two, and, then, if we have time, round by Clermont to Paris and then home as fast as we can – but it is very hot; the carriage is heavy; we do not go more than five miles an hour; the journey is long, and we mean you to see us both looking well; so that we shall not hurry ourselves to death – the only disagreeable is not hearing from you till our arrival in Paris; but I dared not give you any other direction; for, if the weather had been bad, we shd have been there in 8 or ten days from sending off my letter – I only hope you are gaining ground, and that my father is going on well – I count upon being back by the end of the month – we will write again from somewhere in about a week – Direct to Rue St. Victor No.27 – Tell me again how many yards of grey gauze riband I am to get. But if you forget never mind – I shall get enough – do just tell John, George is much improved, and does very well – he will have fine tales to tell – except the Gorge d’Ortessa from Mt Perdu to Torla in Spain, I think the defile from the town of Pont- St- Laurent to the Grande Chartreuse, our route today, the finest I ever saw – It is a different style of thing from the deep valleys among the high alps, that no comparison can be made between our scenery of today & that amid the colossal mtns round Mt Blanc – we left Chamonix with more regret than Geneva or Chambery – I am curious to know how we like Grenoble – It was on a green alpside near there, I used to joke, and talk of having a cottage – but you wd have found it very hot in summer in Paris, too, was very hot six weeks ago – what will it be now? We have

Page 4

had a great deal of thunder and lightning –A – did not like it at all, at first – but she is more used to it, and does not care so much now – it is certainly tremendous among the high mtns – the deep vallies there are so sheltered and hot, the corn is all housed by this time, while hereabouts it is to cut, and we have seen some still green – whenever you hear of Miss Walker of Cliffhill, do mention her in your letters – Ann is really very well, and in excellent spirits – She is really a very good traveller – her writing for me is a great convenience; for journal, accts, bargaining and scolding take up my time very entirely – we perpetually say how raw English people must be cheated – we had a young s...per of a guide today, who, after, was lame, and I know not when we should have got home, if we had not mounted him on George’s mule, and made George get up behind A – we surprise the people by the quantity of strawberries we eat at breakfast and dinner – they are gathered in the mountains, and excellent – we shall pass thro’ Chambery tomorrow, on our way to Grenoble, and shall put this letter into the post, which letter I hope you will get in about a week – we shall be very anxious for good accts of you on reaching Paris – when there, we shall seem all but at home – my best love to my father and Marian, and believe me, my dear Aunt, always very affectionately yrs Anne

All images and text are the copyright of Calderdale Museums