Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 7/The Notting Hill mystery - Section I
THE NOTTING HILL MYSTERY.
[It is unnecessary for us to state by what means the following papers came into our hands, and it would be no compliment to the penetration of our readers if we indicated beforehand the nature of the mystery they are supposed to unravel. It will, however, require a very close attention to names and dates to comprehend the view of the compiler, as to the case he is investigating; and, so far, it is requisite to rely on the reader’s patience and discernment. The whole particulars of the case will extend to some seven or eight numbers of “Once a Week,” and some things which are dark at first will appear clearer in the sequel. If the compiler has really discovered a new species or description of crime, it is natural that the evidence of it, which is circumstantial, should be somewhat difficult of acceptance. The illustrations are simply added to make the reader’s task more agreeable, but, of course, it is not pretended that they were made simultaneously with the events they represent.]
Mr. R. Henderson to the Secretary of the —— Life Assurance Association.
“Private Enquiry Office, Clement’s Inn,
“17th Jan, 1858.
“In laying before you the extraordinary revelations arising from my examination into the case of the late Madame R**, I have to apologise for the delay in carrying out your instructions of November last. It has been occasioned, not by any neglect on my part, but by the unexpected extent and intricacy of the enquiry into which I have been led. I confess that after this minute and laborious investigation I could still have wished a more satisfactory result, but a perusal of the accompanying documents, on the accuracy and completeness of which you may fully rely, will I doubt not satisfy you of the unusual difficulty of the case.
“My enquiries have had reference to a policy of assurance for 5000l., the maximum amount permitted by your rules, on the life of the late Madame R**, effected in your office by her husband, the Baron R**, and bearing date 1st November, 1855. Similar policies were held in the —— of Manchester, the —— of Liverpool, the —— of Edinburgh, and the —— of Dublin, the whole amounting to 25,000l.; the dates, 23rd December, 1855, 10th January, 25th January, and 15th February, 1856, respectively, being in effect almost identical. These companies joined in the instructions under which I have been acting; and, from the voluminous nature of this letter and its enclosures, I shall be obliged by your considering my present reply as addressed to them conjointly with yourselves.
“Before entering upon the subject of my investigations, it may be as well to recapitulate the circumstances under which they were originated. Of these the first was the coincidence of dates, above noticed; and an apparent desire on the part of the assurer to conceal from each of the various offices the fact of similar policies having been elsewhere simultaneously effected. On examining further into the matter your Board was also struck with the peculiar conditions under which the marriage appeared to have taken place, and the relation in which Madame R** had formerly stood to the Baron. To these points, therefore, my attention was especially directed, and the facts thus elicited form a very important link in the singular chain of evidence I have been enabled to put together.
“The chief element of suspicion, however, was to be found in the very unusual circumstances attendant on the death of Madame R**, especially following so speedily as it did on the assurance for so large an aggregate amount. This lady died suddenly on the 15th March, 1857, from the effects of a powerful acid taken, it is supposed, in her sleep, from her husband’s laboratory. In the Baron’s answers to the usual preliminary enquiries, forwarded for my assistance, and herewith returned, there is no admission of any propensity to somnambulism. Shortly, however, after the occurrence had been noticed in the public prints, a letter to the Secretary of the Association from a gentleman recently lodging in the same house with Baron R**, gave reason to suspect that in this respect, at least, some concealment had been practised, and the matter was then placed in my hands.
“On receipt of your instructions, I at once put myself in communication with Mr. Aldridge, the writer of the letter in question. That gentleman’s evidence certainly goes to show that, within at least a very few months after the date of the latest policy, Baron R** was not only himself aware of such a propensity in his wife, but desirous of concealing it from others. Mr. Aldridge’s statements are also to a certain extent supported by those of two other witnesses; but, unfortunately, there are, as will be seen, circumstances calculated to throw considerable doubt upon the whole of this evidence, and especially on that of Mr. Aldridge, from which alone the more important part of the inference is drawn. The same must, unfortunately, be said with regard to some other parts of the evidence, as will be more clearly seen when the case itself is before you.
“From his statement, however, in conjunction with other circumstances, I learned enough to induce me to extend my researches to another very singular case, which not long since had given rise to considerable comment.
“You will, no doubt, remember that in the autumn of 1856 a gentleman of the name of Anderton was arrested on suspicion of having poisoned his wife, and that he committed suicide whilst awaiting the issue of a chemical enquiry into the cause of her death. This enquiry resulted in an acquittal, no traces of the suspected poison being found; and the affair was hushed up as speedily as possible, many of Mr. Anderton’s connections being of high standing in society, and naturally anxious for the honour of the family. I must, however, acknowledge the readiness with which, in the interest of justice, I have been furnished by them with every facility for pushing my enquiries, the results of which are now before you.
“In reviewing the whole facts, and more especially the series of remarkable coincidences of dates, &c., to which I beg to direct your most particular attention, two alternatives present themselves. In the first we must altogether ignore a chain of circumstantial evidence so complete and close-fitting in every respect, as it seems almost impossible to disregard; in the second, we are inevitably led to a conclusion so at variance with all the most firmly established laws of nature, as it seems almost equally impossible to accept. The one leaves us precisely at the point from which we started; the other involves the imputation of a series of most horrible and complicated crimes.
“Between these alternatives I am constrained to confess my own inability, after long and careful study, to decide. I have determined, therefore, simply to submit for your consideration the facts of the case as they appear in the depositions of the several parties from whom my information has been obtained. These I have arranged, as far as possible, in the form in which they would be laid before counsel, should it ultimately be deemed advisable to bring the affair into Court. In view, however, of the extreme length of the case, I have given, in a condensed form, the substance of such of the depositions as did not seem likely to suffer from such treatment. The more important I have left to tell their own tale, and, in any case, my abstract may be at once checked by the originals, all of which are enclosed.
“Should your conclusions be such as have been forced upon myself, further deliberation will yet be required with reference to the course to be pursued; a point on which, in such case, I confess myself almost equally unable to advise. Whether in a matter so surrounded with suspicion, it might not be well, in any event, to resist the claim, is certainly a question to be considered. On the other hand, even assuming the fullest proof of the terrible crimes involved, it is a matter calling for no less careful consideration, whether they would be found of a nature to bring the criminal within reach of the law. For the present, however, our concern is with the facts of the case, and ulterior questions had better be left on one side until that issue is decided, when, I conclude, I shall hear further from you on the subject.
“In conclusion, I must trouble you with a few words on a point which seems to require explanation. I allude to the apparent prominence I have been compelled to afford to the workings of what is called ‘Mesmeric Agency.’ Those, indeed, who are so unfortunate as to be the victims of this delusion, would doubtless find in it a simple, though terrible solution of the mystery we are endeavouring to solve. But while frankly admitting that it was the passage from the ‘Zoïst Magazine,’ quoted in the course of the evidence, which first suggested to my mind the only conclusion I have as yet been able to imagine, I beg at the outset most distinctly to state, that I would rather admit my own researches to have been baffled by an illusory coincidence, than lay myself open to the imputation of giving the slightest credit to that impudent imposture. We must not, ever, forget that those whose lives have been passed in the deception of others, not unfrequently end by deceiving themselves. There is, therefore, nothing incredible in the idea that the Baron R** may have given sufficient credence to the statement of the ‘Zoïst,’ above-mentioned, for the suggestion to his own mind of a design, which by the working of a true, though most mysterious, law of Nature, may really have been carried out. Such, at least, is the only theory by which I can attempt, in any way, to elucidate this otherwise unfathomable mystery.
“Awaiting the honour of your further commands,
“I am, Gentlemen, very faithfully yours,
SECTION I. THE CASE.
Extracts from Correspondence of the Honourable Catherine B**.
1. From Lady Boleton to Honourable C. B** (undated), about October or November of 1832.
“Oh, auntie, auntie, what shall I do? For three nights I have not closed my eyes, and I would not write even to you, auntie dear, because I kept hoping that, after all, things might come right, and he would come back again. Oh, how I have listened to every sound, and watched the road till my poor eyes ache! And now this is the fourth day since he went away, and, oh, auntie, I am so frightened, for I am sure he is gone after that dreadful man, and, oh, if he should meet him, I know something terrible will happen, for you can’t tell how he looked, poor Edward, I mean, when he went away. But, indeed, auntie, you must not be angry with him, for I know it was all my own fault, for I ought to have told him everything long ago, though indeed, indeed, I never cared for him, and I do love dear Edward so dearly. I was afraid . . . . . . . . .
[Here the MS. becomes in places very blotted and illegible.]
. . . and I thought it was all at an end, and then . . . . . and only a fortnight ago we were so happy . . . . married hardly seven months and . . . . . . . but you must not think I am complaining of him, dear auntie, for you don’t know how . . . . . . . Only if you can, come to me, for I feel getting so ill, and you know it is only . . . . . God bless you, auntie; oh, do come to me if you can. “Gertrude Boleton.”
2. Extract of letter from the Same to the Same, written about four days later.
“I am so sorry to hear you are so ill; don’t try to come, darling auntie; I shall do somehow, and if not, anything is better than this horrible suspense . . . . . No tidings yet, but I cannot write more, for I can hardly see to guide the pen, and my poor head seems to open and shut. God bless you, auntie. “G.”
“I open my letter to thank you so much for sending dear kind Mrs. Ward; she came in so unexpectedly [in a blue] just as if she had come from heaven. I wonder if she has seen Ed. . . . .”
[Here the MS. ends suddenly.]
3. From Mrs. Ward to Honourable C. B**, enclosing the above.
“Beechwood, Tuesday night.
“My dear Catherine,
“I fear I have but a poor account to give you of our dear Gertrude. Poor child! when I came into the room, and saw her looking so pale and wan, and with great black circles round her eyes, I could scarcely keep in my own tears. She gave a little cry of joy when she saw me, and threw herself upon my neck; but a moment after, turned to the writing table and tore open the letter I send you with this, and which was lying ready for the post. The long-continued strain seems to have been too much for her, and she had hardly written a line when her head began to wander, as you will see from the conclusion of her postscript, and in trying to write her husband’s name she broke down altogether, and went off into a fit of hysterics which lasted for several hours. She is now, I am thankful to say, comparatively calm again, though at times her head still wanders, and she seems quite unable to close her eyes, but lies in her bed looking straight before her, and occasionally talking to herself in a low voice, but without seeming to notice anything. I have endeavoured, as far as I dared, to draw from her the history of this sad affair, but can get nothing, poor child, but eager assurances that it was ‘all her fault,’ and that ‘indeed, indeed, he was not to blame.’ It seems as though my coming—though certainly a great relief to her—had had the effect of putting her on her guard lest anything should escape her unfavourable to her husband, and her whole faculties seem to be concentrated in the endeavour to shield him from reproach. I fear, however, there can be no doubt that he has been very seriously to blame; indeed, from all I can gather, the fault seems to have been entirely on his side. What is the precise history of this unhappy business I have not been able to learn; but it seems that Sir Edward, who is certainly a most violent young man, and I fear also of a most jealous temperament, contracted some suspicion with regard to that Mr. Hawker who so perseveringly persecuted poor Gertrude the winter before last, and to have left Beechwood, after a very distressing scene, in pursuit of him. Mr. Hawker is supposed to be on the Continent, and it is known that Sir Edward took the Dover Road, which, as you know, passes close by this place. This is all I can at present learn with any certainty, though I hear but too much from the servants, who are all in such a state of indignation at Sir Edward’s treatment of their mistress, that I have the utmost difficulty in restraining it from finding some open vent. Should I hear more, I will of course let you know at once; but meanwhile I cannot conceal from you my deep anxiety for our dear Gertrude, whose poor little heart seems quite broken, and for whom I am in hourly dread of the effect but too likely to be produced, in her present delicate state, by the anxiety and terror from which she is suffering . . . . . You know how much I always disliked the match, and I feel more than ever the impropriety of consigning so young and sensitive a girl to the care of a man of such notoriously uncontrollable temper. Poor thing! this is evidently not the first time she has suffered from it, and even should she herself escape without permanent injury to her constitution, I dread the effect upon the child . . . . . . . And now I must close this long and sad letter, but will write again should anything fresh occur; meantime, I cannot be longer away just now from Gertrude’s side. I hope your own health is improving. My love to little Henry, and tell him to be very good while I am away.
4. The Same to the Same.
“Beechwood, Monday morning.
“My dear Catherine,
“I am sorry to say I can still send you no better account of poor Gertrude. Since I last wrote by Saturday evening’s post very little change has taken place, though she is certainly more restless, poor child, and I fear also, if anything, weaker. She now constantly asks for letters, and seems impressed with the idea that we are keeping them from her, as indeed, in her present state, I should, I think, take the responsibility of doing, if any arrived. The newspaper I have always kept from her until it has first been carefully examined. I am dreading fever, though by the doctor’s advice I have not attempted to dissuade her from getting up. The exertion, however, is almost more than she can bear, and I am looking anxiously for his next visit. She lies all day on the sofa, looking out of the window, which commands a view of the Dover Road. This morning she seems growing more and more restless, and I am waiting with inexpressible anxiety for Dr. Travers.
“The doctor has been, and confirms my fear of approaching fever, which, however, he says may possibly pass off. He has ordered me to lie down at once for some hours, as I have hardly been in bed since I arrived, and he says if fever should come on I shall want all the strength I can get. I shall keep this letter open, to send you by the evening’s post the latest account.
“All is over. I can hardly command myself sufficiently to write, and yet I must tell you what has happened. Oh, my dear Catherine, how shall I ever forgive myself for leaving poor dear Gertrude; and yet I know that this is foolish, for I was ordered to do so for her sake. But I must come at once to the sad news I have to tell. I left poor Gertrude in the charge of her maid, with strict injunctions to call me if there should be any change; but the poor child seems suddenly to have grown quieter, and at length to have fallen asleep. The maid watched her until just four o’clock, when, overcome with weariness, she herself dropped off into a doze, and on waking at a little before five, was horrified to find herself alone. She flew at once to me, but I had hardly got to the top of the stairs when some one came running up to say that the postman was below, and had just met with poor Gertrude, who had been watching for him at the gate. She enquired eagerly after letters, and on being told there were none, asked for the newspaper, which she at once hurried away with into a part of the grounds called the Wilderness, while the postman, fearing from her manner that something was amiss, came on to the house to tell what had occurred. I need not tell you with what anxiety I hastened to the Wilderness, and there, poor girl, we found her, stretched upon the turf close by the edge of the lake, with the fatal newspaper in her hand. I had her taken carefully to the house, and a man despatched on horseback for the doctor; but before he arrived she had recovered consciousness, only, poor child, to be at once seized with the signs of her approaching trouble. From that moment until she breathed her last—an hour ago—I have never left her side. After nearly thirty hours of the most terrible suffering I have ever witnessed, she at length gave birth to two poor little girls, both so small and weak-looking that it is quite piteous to see them. The elder in especial, which was born about an hour before the second, is so weak and sickly, that the doctor says it is scarcely possible it can live, and, indeed, one can hardly hope that it may. The second seems stronger, but both are very small and weakly even considering their premature birth.
“Poor Gertrude now sank rapidly, and though every means was tried, and she still lingered on for three or four hours, she at last sank altogether, passing away at the last so quietly that we hardly knew that she was gone. Poor darling, I always loved her as being such a favourite with you all . . . . . . One word before I close as to the paper which was the unhappy cause of this terrible blow. It contained, as I had feared, the long-dreaded intelligence of Sir Edward’s fatal quarrel with Mr. H.; and I send it off by the same post, as you will wish to know the sad particulars. I cannot write more now, for I am fairly worn out, and must take some rest. You know how deeply I sympathise with you . . . . . .
“Most affectionately yours,
5. Extract from the “Morning Herald,” of the 12th of November, 1832.
“Fatal Duel at Dieppe.—We learn from the Paris papers, that an extraordinary and fatal duel took place some days since in the neighbourhood of Dieppe, between two Englishmen, neither of whom have as yet been identified. It appears that the parties encountered each other in the court-yard of the Hotel de l’Europe, where one of them, whose linen bears the mark of C. G. H., had been staying for some days. The new comer at once assailed the other evidently with the most opprobrious language, to which Mr. H. replied with equal warmth, but the conversation being carried on in English, was unfortunately not understood by any one present. The altercation at length grew so warm that the landlord was compelled to interfere, and the parties then left the hotel together. A few hours afterwards Mr. H. returned, and calling for his bill, hastily packed his portmanteau, and departed. He has since been traced to Paris, where he was lost sight of altogether. Early the next morning a rumour spread that the body of an Englishman had been found in a vineyard, about a mile distant from the town, and on enquiry it proved that the victim was no other than the gentleman with whom the dispute had occurred on the previous night. It was evident on examination that the unfortunate man must have fallen in fair fight, though no seconds appear to have been present during the encounter. A pistol, recently discharged, was firmly grasped in the hand of the dead man; and at a dozen paces distant lay its fellow, evidently the weapon with which he had been killed. The fatal wound, too, was exactly in that portion of the chest which would be exposed to an adversary’s fire, and had evidently pierced the heart, so that death must have been instantaneous. The weapons, too, with which the fatal duel was fought appear to have been the property of the deceased. They were a very handsome pair of duelling pistols, hair triggers, and evidently of English make. On the butt of each was a small silver shield, bearing the initials “E. B.,” and an armed hand grasping a crossbow. The initials of the unfortunate gentleman’s opponent were, as we have said, C. G. H.; and we have reason to fear that the victim was a young baronet, of considerable landed property, with whose sudden departure for the Continent rumour has for some time been busy.
“Since our first edition went to press, we have received further particulars, which leave no room for doubt that the victim of the above fatal occurrence was, as we feared, Sir Edward Boleton, Bart., of Beechwood, Kent; but the cause of the duel, and the name of his opponent, still remain a mystery. The unfortunate gentleman leaves behind him a young wife, to whom he was united but a few months since. Failing a male heir, the baronetcy will now, we understand, become extinct, while the bulk of the estates will pass to a distant connection. The widow, however, is, we believe, in possession of a considerable independent property.”
6. Mrs. Ward to Honourable C. B**.
“My dear Catherine,
“You ask me whether I am satisfied with what I saw the other day of poor Gertrude Boleton’s little ones. To say that I am satisfied with their appearance would, poor little things, be hardly true, for they are still anything but healthy—poor Gertie especially looking like a faded lily. The younger, however, is certainly improved, and will, I hope, do well, and I quite think that they both are better where they are than they could possibly be elsewhere. It is indeed sad, poor things, that they should have no near relation with whom they could live, but I quite agree with you that, in your state of health, it would not only be too great an undertaking for yourself, but would be by no means beneficial to them. Indeed I am convinced that on every account they are best where they are. The air of Hastings seems to suit them, and in the higher part of the town where Mrs. Taylor lives is bracing without being too cold. Mrs. Taylor herself is a most excellent person, and extremely fond of them. She seems especially interested in poor Gertie, and never wearies of relating instances of the wonderful sympathy between the twins. This sympathy seems even more physical than mental. According to Mrs. Taylor, every little ailment that affects the one is immediately felt also by the other, though with this difference, that your namesake, Katie, is but very slightly affected by Gertie’s troubles, while she, poor child, I suppose from the greater delicacy of her constitution, is rendered seriously ill by every little indisposition of her sister. I have often heard of the strong physical sympathies between twins, but never met myself with so marked an instance. Both, unfortunately are sadly nervous, though here, too, the elder is the greatest sufferer, while in the younger it seems to take the form of extreme quickness of perception. . . . Of course, as they grow up, they should be placed with some one in our own rank of life, but for the present I think poor Mrs. Taylor will do very well. . . . I shall be at Hastings again next month, and will write when I have seen them. . .
7. From Mrs. Taylor to Honourable C. B**.
About January, 1837.
“with My Humbel duty to Your ladyshipp and i am trewly sory to sai as mis Gerterud hav took a terrabel bad cold wich i Was afeard as she wud do has Miss kattarren av Likeways Had wun for 2 dais past wich i Am sory to sai as mis gerterud is wuss than mis Kattaren but Hoping she wil be Well agen Sone wich has I hev told your Honnered Ladyshipp they as allers the same trubbels ony pore mis gerterud allers hav them Wust. Honnered Miss the docter hav ben her wich he sais has mis Kattaren his quite wel agen he sais Honnered mis he hops mis gerterud will sone be wel 2. honnered Mis yore Humbel servt. to comand “sarah tayler.”
8. From the Same to the Same.
About June, 1837.
“with My humbel Duty to Yore ladyshipp hand i am trewly thenkfull to sai the dere childern are both quit wel wich miss Kattaren made erself Hill on teusday and pore miss gerterud were verry bad in connsekens for 3 dais but his now quit wel agen. honnered mis yore Ladyshipps humbel sert. to comand “sarah tayler.”
9. From Same to Same.
“with my humbel duty to Yore ladyshipp hand wud you plese Cum Direcly wich sumthink Dredfull hav apenned to pore mis Kattaren honnered mis Yore Ladyshipps humbel sert. to comand “sarah tayler.”
10. Mr. Ward to Honourable C. B.**
“Marine Hotel, Hastings,
“12th July, 1837.
“Dear Miss B**,
“Helen was unfortunately prevented from leaving home at the time your letter arrived, so, as the matter seemed urgent, I thought it best to come myself. I am sorry to have to send you such very unsatisfactory intelligence. Poor little Catherine has been lost—stolen, I am afraid, by gipsies—and I have hitherto been quite unable to find any clue to their whereabouts. It appears that Mrs. Taylor took them for a trip with some friends of hers to Fairlie Down, where they fell in with a gang of gipsies, of whom, however, they did not take any particular notice. They had taken their dinner with them, and after finishing it sat talking for some time, when suddenly the child was missed; and, though they hunted in every direction for several hours, no trace of her could be found. On returning to the place where the gipsies had been seen, the camp was found broken up, and the track, after passing near where they had been sitting, was lost on the hard road. Unfortunately, poor Mrs. Taylor—who seems quite distracted by what has happened—could think of nothing at first but writing to you, and it was only by the gossip of her friends, who live at some distance from the town, that the intelligence at length reached the police. Enquiries were being set on foot when I arrived last night, but I fear that, from the time that has been lost, there is now but little chance of recovering the poor child. I have advertised in all directions, and offered a large reward, but I have little hope of the result, nor are the police more sanguine than myself. Unfortunately poor Catherine’s dark, gipsy-like complexion, and black eyes and hair, will render it easy to disguise her features, while her quick intelligence and lithe, active figure, will make her only too valuable an acquisition to the band. I need not tell you how grieved I am at this fresh trouble to these poor children, and I fear Gertrude will suffer severely from the loss of her sister, with whom she has, as you know, so extraordinary a bond of sympathy. I am going now to the police station to consult on further measures, and will write to you again by to-morrow morning’s post.
“Ever, dear Miss B**,
“Very truly yours,
11. Mrs. Vansittart to the Honourable C. B**.
“Grove Hill House Academy, Hampstead Heath,
“Wednesday, May 1st, 1842.
“I have much pleasure in complying with your request for a monthly report of the health and progress of my very interesting young friend and pupil, Miss Boleton. In a moral and educational point of view nothing could possibly be more satisfactory. . . . . . . Of my dear young friend’s health I am compelled, however, to lament my inability to address you in the same congratulatory terms which in all other matters I am happily so well authorised to employ. Notwithstanding the extreme salubrity of the atmosphere by which in this justly celebrated locality she is surrounded, and I trust I may venture to add the unremitting attention she has experienced both at my own hands and those of my medical and educational assistants, her general health is still, I regret to say, very far from having attained to that condition of entire convalescence at which I trust she may yet, with the advantage of a prolonged residence upon the Heath, before very long arrive. My medical adviser, Dr. Winstanley,—a physician of European reputation, and one in whom I can repose the most entire confidence,—informs me that Miss Boleton is suffering from no especial ailment, though subject from time to time to fits of illness to which it is often difficult to assign any sufficient cause, and which after a while disappear as strangely as they arose. He trusts with me that the pure air of the Heath, which so far as we can venture to believe has already been beneficial to his interesting patient, will in course of time effect a radical cure. The loss of her young sister, of which you informed me on her first joining our little society, inflicted, beyond doubt, a very serious blow upon her naturally feeble constitution; but I trust that its effects are already passing away. I shall, of course, adhere strictly to your instructions never in any way to allude to the sad occurrence in conversation with Miss Boleton, and have thought it advisable not to acquaint her companions with the fact. On the 1st of next month I shall again do myself the honour of acquainting you with the progress made by my interesting young friend, and have little doubt of being at that time able to furnish you with a satisfactory account of her physical no less than of her moral and intellectual advancement. For the present, dear madam, permit me to subscribe myself,
“Your very faithful
“And obliged servant,
“Amelia Dorothea Vansittart.”
“To the Honourable Catherine B**.”
12. Mrs. Ward to the Honourable C. B**.
“14 June, 1851.
“My dear Catherine,
“Very many thanks for your early intelligence of dear Gertrude’s engagement. I congratulate you most heartily, though as you have yourself alluded to it, I cannot deny that I should have been better pleased had Mr. Anderton, in addition to all his other good qualities, possessed that of a somewhat less nervous and excitable temperament. I have always liked him much; but with poor Gertrude’s own delicate constitution I cannot but fear the results of such an union upon both. However, it is impossible to have everything, and in all other respects he seems more than unexceptionable, so once more I congratulate you heartily. Are you really thinking of coming up to the Exhibition? . . . . . . Give my best love to dear Gertrude, and say all that is kind and proper for us to her fiancé. Ever, dear Catherine,
- Great-aunt of the late Mrs. Anderton. The object of going so far back will presently appear.
- Scratched out.
- The residence of Sir Edward Boleton.
- This letter is omitted as containing nothing of any importance.