Rough Scan
January 190-
DEAR CHRISTINA, - Our young ladies has decided to stop here a whilie, so I'll can tell you all about the strange and manifold sights of London.
Firstly, the colour of the washings is beyond the power of pen to describe; and, unless you were to see it with the naked eye, you would never believe the drumlie, grey, dirty colour poor Lady Lindesay's napery is now! I would be black-affronted to see such awfu-like things hanging out in our back-green. But everything is sent out to the Lady's Lilywhite Laundry, so what can ye expeck? Mrs M'Clumpha says the gairden is too dirty for bleaching in--fair black wi' soot--and nobody takes a daunder in it except the cat.
I have been away seeing Westminster Abbey the day, it being considered one of the foremost sights of London. Miss Celandine took me.
Appearingly there's been a deal of mortality among the high faimlies in England since it was built, for it's fair crammed with tombstones, Kings and Queens being included. We paid sixpence each to be let through an iron gate, and when once we were through, a tall genteel-looking gentleman in a black gown attended upon us to tell us all about the monuments, tombs, sepulchres, graves, and other objecks of interest. There was a good few ladies and gentlemen kept company with Miss Celandine and me, and they were aye askin' questions about one thing and another, and pittin off the gentleman's time: he was a Verger, it appeared, and he said he would be needed to verge at three in the efternoon: he was gey short in the temper, too, and couldna abide the folk no keepin' close to his heels: - "Keep near me, ladies and gentlemen," says he, "if you wish to hear what I have to say." But, if you'll believe me, he spoke such high English that I couldna understan' the half he said--and him no more than a Minister's man! He showed us tomb upon tomb till I was fair wearied: a lot of the graven images on the monuments was lying flat on their backs with their feet on their pet lions-poor beasties! (I wouldna care to keep one mysel'.) Some of them had dogs to stick their soles against. A very stylish tombstone represented a family group: - the old gentleman and his lady were lying side by side on the top floor, like, and the six young gentlemen were kneeling down below, three and three, on six hassocks with tossels at the corners. They were all dressed the same - knickerbockers, awfu full in the legs, and armour on the top - warmish, I'm thinkin'. The hassocks with the tossels were as like as life, mind you, and all made of stone! I was thinkin' I would mebbe make one for my seat in the Kirk; a bit carpet on the top, and worsit tossels would look fine: I never saw that style in Edinburgh, but ye need to traivel to find out the new fashions.
The best thing we saw was near the last-no less than the Coronating chair. And what do you think it is made of? Naething more nor less than a stone the English took from the Scotch folk! Dear peety me! could they no' hae gotten a stone to theirsels? They call it the stone of Destiny, but I'm no' sure where that is; down the West Coast, mebbe. I couldna see that it was onyway wonderfu; I had a first cousin that was a sculpterer down Leith Walk, and, if you'll believe me, I've seen dizens of stones the very same in his yaird. It must have been a heavy carry; but, no doubt, it was long afore the days of chairging for extry luggage-a perfeck imposeetion. There's four gold lions, wi' long curly tails, for feet, and they've put a bit wood over the stone for fear the Kings and Queens that sit on it might catch the cold; "Them that sit on stane, are twice fain"; fain to sit down, and fain to rise up again, as many a day I've felt mysel', sittin' on the rocks at Dunbar, with the bairns diggin' holes in the beach by the hour thegither.
There s forty poor widows gets something to theirsels once a week in the Presinks; it will be what the lawyers call a "mortification" in Scotland, viz. when folks leaves their money to the poor, and no' to their own relations. Every one of them gets 11/2 lbs. of the best beef; a 4-lb. loaf of bread; and tuppence in coppers: my certy!
The very last thing we saw was the monument to Sir John Franklin, who was conneckit, more or less, with the North. The gentleman read the Hepitawph (that'll be what they call the text in London), and it sounded real bonny. Miss Celandine has written it down the way he said it; she is an obliging young lady, when she's not on the nonsense. It is poetry; viz. -
==Not 'are; the wite Nawth 'olds thy bones,
===An' thou, 'eroic sailor soul!
==Hart passin' on thy nappier voyage now
===Towards no hearthly goal.
With which solemn words I must conclude.
The young ladies sends their kind regairds to you and Merran. - Yours sincerely,