Single Letter

HAM/1/3/2/7

Letter from Sarah Dickenson to Mary Hamilton

Diplomatic Text


Augt. 24th 1791.


My Dear Sister

      As you was so good to ex
preʃs
a wish to hear from me, I have taken a folio
sheet which I intend to fill with the ------few obser
vations
I have made in our delighful little tour.
The day we left Birch was very unfavorable. The
rain was almost inceʃsant for near two stages,
& prevented our seeing some beautiful views with
which this mountainous country abounds.
we dined at Chorley and paʃsed thro the charming
village of Walton in our way to Preston. Sir Harry
Haughton has a good house near Walton, & a good
many Gentlemen of Fortune reside in the
neighbourhood. The church appears to be
a fine old building situated on the top
of a hill at the foot of which, the Ribble
winds its way in great beauty. I can say
nothing of Preston as we only changed horses
there. I believe there is very little trade
therein that town & it is remarkable for nothing but
par party animosities which are sometimes
carried to an extravagant height --
We slept at Garstange & arrived in very good time



at Lancaster to take a compleat view of that
venerable old Town. Unfortunately for me we went
first to see the castle, which is an object that
attracts the attention of all inquisitive stran
-gers
; as we enter'd the Gate of these venerable
remains of antiquity we found many of the
prisoners in the yard some of the most unfor
-tunate
flocked about us; the formality of
the doors being locked the clanking of the
chains & the Idea that many of them were to
suffer entirely overset[1] my weak spirits; we
went indeed to the top of one of the towers where
I -believe there is a noble extensive view of
the surrounding country but for my part I cou'd
not see, the horrors of the place had so entirely
occupied my mind that I thought I shoud have
fainted upon the leads. I am sensible all this
was very foolish but I coud not at that time
get the better of it. The houses in Lancaster
are many of them built of a beautiful stone
finely variegated but the town is extremely
irregular. I was very much pleased with two almshouses
one of them founded by Mrs: Ann Dennison[2]
for Eight Old Maids -- the other was for 12
widows & widowers. They were extremely neat
& simple & seemd well regulated. The Church



appears a fine old building, the Steeple ------is
not so antient. -- I was much delighted
with a walk along the sea shore which ------
revived, & did me infinite service. When
we left Lancaster to croʃs over the sands, I
exerted all my resolution to brave the danger;
I once felt very much alarmed as the carriage
before us seem'd raised up by the stream;
but as it was too late to retreat I resignd myself
to the event, & Thank God we came over with
-out
the least danger or even risk --
We are now at Flookburgh where we intend
to stay till Saturday -- I went yesterday to
see Lord George Cavendish's House at Holker.
The paintings I believe are very valuable, but as
I dont understand them, my mentioning those
I liked the best wd be very uninteresting to
you. -- In the evening I wrode to see Cartmel
Church which belonged once to a priory which
is now no more, I believe there are no vestages
left except an old gate way, which the anti
quarians
are undecided about -- I like this place
extremely, the natives are open hearted, modest
simple & unaʃsuming in their manner & they
greet ------ you with the cordiality of an old
friend, & with the respect of a stranger, which
is a distinction I never saw so well preserved
There is a large Cotton Manufactory establishd
in this neighbourhood, which the advocates for



trade are highly pleased with, but the
thinking part of the inhabitants are of a different
opinion. They in general observe that the
people were able to maintain themselves before,
that, tho' their gains were trifling in compa
rison
to what they now are, the price of [3]provising
were then proportionable, that their children
were well educated, their religious principalles
attended to, and their churches frequented.
The unhappy reverse of this is now the case,
the works have been the means of bringing many
strangers into the country, whose irregular lives
will in time corrupt the virtue & the manners of the people,
education is now in a great measure neglected,
& the wealth which will naturally accompany
an extensive trade, will be the means of introduc
ing
vice, immorality, & extravagance amongst
them. -- I dont know whether you will think
these reasons conclusive; but I must own
they have great weight with me.
We intend to go to Ulverston to day, & propose
seeing the Priory, the seat of Mr Bryddal.[4]
it is I believe a fine old building in very good
repair. Monday is the fixed on to begin our
journey to the lakes.[5] I hope the weather will
be favorable as the beauty of the views we are
going to see will be determined by that --
I dont suppose we shall be long absent. I have



an opportunity of sending this letter to Man
chester
. or perhaps I might have written still
more I am grown so very good.
My Father is in remarkable spirits the waters
agree extremely with him. I drink a little
but I act very cautiously, & never exceed a
very small quantity. The marsh which
lies very near us, is in some parts as soft
& even as a bowling green; I walked 4 miles
on Saturday -- I must also tell you Mrs M-
& myself went in a little car upon the sands
on SaturdayFriday evening & were very much amused
& dilighted -- I have seen an old tower which
formally belonged to a Baronet or Knight of
the name of Harrington, there is nothing now
remaining of it's antient grandeur, the greatest
part of it has been pulled down to build a farm
house. I believe I have sent you all the intelli
gence
I coud collect. I wish I coud have met
with anything new or interesting. --
I have looked about for sea weed but I find
there is none on these sands; the plants are
the same kinds of those about Taxal, I have
only seen 2 or 3 that I did not know. The
timber in this country (except a few in Ld Georges
Park) is poor & considering owing perhaps to the
sea breezes. There is very little fruit in this



country but we have fish, particularly
Cockles & Salmon in the highest perfection
I often wish for you tho' I believe there are
some things you wd not entirely relish.
I am impatient to hear from you, be so good
to write to me at Birch & tell me all about
Elizabeth. I think as little of her as I can
help. -- I have been very tolerable since I came
here I have been much commended for my
improved looks. I hope Please God I shall
for the future enjoy a better state of health
or perhaps more properly of mind as the one
is in me, entirely regulated by the other.
Be so good to remember me affectionately
to every one & believe me to be in every
situation your sister & friend in the
most endearing sense. S Dickenson --



Mrs Dickenson
Taxal
To be left at Miʃs Goulbourne's
King Street
Manchester

(hover over blue text or annotations for clarification;
red text is normalised and/or unformatted in other panel)


Notes


 1. 'To overcome (a person's mind/feelings)' (OED s.v. overset v., 2a).
 2. Apparently an error for Ann Gillison (Lancaster Civic Society).
 3. Provise 'to provide, arrange, or supply beforehand; to make provision for' (OED s.v. v., 2).
 4. A reference to Wilson Gale-Braddyll of Conishead.
 5. By this time The Lakes was a recognised label for the English Lake District, with its 'picturesque' landscape.

Normalised Text




My Dear Sister

      As you was so good to express
a wish to hear from me, I have taken a folio
sheet which I intend to fill with the few observations
I have made in our delightful little tour.
The day we left Birch was very unfavorable. The
rain was almost incessant for near two stages,
& prevented our seeing some beautiful views with
which this mountainous country abounds.
we dined at Chorley and passed through the charming
village of Walton in our way to Preston. Sir Harry
Haughton has a good house near Walton, & a good
many Gentlemen of Fortune reside in the
neighbourhood. The church appears to be
a fine old building situated on the top
of a hill at the foot of which, the Ribble
winds its way in great beauty. I can say
nothing of Preston as we only changed horses
there. I believe there is very little trade
in that town & it is remarkable for nothing but
party animosities which are sometimes
carried to an extravagant height --
We slept at Garstang & arrived in very good time



at Lancaster to take a complete view of that
venerable old Town. Unfortunately for me we went
first to see the castle, which is an object that
attracts the attention of all inquisitive strangers
; as we enter'd the Gate of these venerable
remains of antiquity we found many of the
prisoners in the yard some of the most unfortunate
flocked about us; the formality of
the doors being locked the clanking of the
chains & the Idea that many of them were to
suffer entirely overset my weak spirits; we
went indeed to the top of one of the towers where
I believe there is a noble extensive view of
the surrounding country but for my part I could
not see, the horrors of the place had so entirely
occupied my mind that I thought I should have
fainted upon the leads. I am sensible all this
was very foolish but I could not at that time
get the better of it. The houses in Lancaster
are many of them built of a beautiful stone
finely variegated but the town is extremely
irregular. I was very much pleased with two almshouses
one of them founded by Mrs: Ann Dennison
for Eight Old Maids -- the other was for 12
widows & widowers. They were extremely neat
& simple & seemed well regulated. The Church



appears a fine old building, the Steeple is
not so ancient. -- I was much delighted
with a walk along the sea shore which
revived, & did me infinite service. When
we left Lancaster to cross over the sands, I
exerted all my resolution to brave the danger;
I once felt very much alarmed as the carriage
before us seem'd raised up by the stream;
but as it was too late to retreat I resigned myself
to the event, & Thank God we came over without
the least danger or even risk --
We are now at Flookburgh where we intend
to stay till Saturday -- I went yesterday to
see Lord George Cavendish's House at Holker.
The paintings I believe are very valuable, but as
I dont understand them, my mentioning those
I liked the best would be very uninteresting to
you. -- In the evening I rode to see Cartmel
Church which belonged once to a priory which
is now no more, I believe there are no vestiges
left except an old gate way, which the antiquarians
are undecided about -- I like this place
extremely, the natives are open hearted, modest
simple & unassuming in their manner & they
greet you with the cordiality of an old
friend, & with the respect of a stranger, which
is a distinction I never saw so well preserved
There is a large Cotton Manufactory established
in this neighbourhood, which the advocates for



trade are highly pleased with, but the
thinking part of the inhabitants are of a different
opinion. They in general observe that the
people were able to maintain themselves before,
that, though their gains were trifling in comparison
to what they now are, the price of provising
were then proportionable, that their children
were well educated, their religious principles
attended to, and their churches frequented.
The unhappy reverse of this is now the case,
the works have been the means of bringing many
strangers into the country, whose irregular lives
will in time corrupt the virtue & the manners of the people,
education is now in a great measure neglected,
& the wealth which will naturally accompany
an extensive trade, will be the means of introducing
vice, immorality, & extravagance amongst
them. -- I dont know whether you will think
these reasons conclusive; but I must own
they have great weight with me.
We intend to go to Ulverston to day, & propose
seeing the Priory, the seat of Mr Braddyll.
it is I believe a fine old building in very good
repair. Monday is fixed on to begin our
journey to the lakes. I hope the weather will
be favorable as the beauty of the views we are
going to see will be determined by that --
I dont suppose we shall be long absent. I have



an opportunity of sending this letter to Manchester
. or perhaps I might have written still
more I am grown so very good.
My Father is in remarkable spirits the waters
agree extremely with him. I drink a little
but I act very cautiously, & never exceed a
very small quantity. The marsh which
lies very near us, is in some parts as soft
& even as a bowling green; I walked 4 miles
on Saturday -- I must also tell you Mrs M-
& myself went in a little car upon the sands
on Friday evening & were very much amused
& delighted -- I have seen an old tower which
formerly belonged to a Baronet or Knight of
the name of Harrington, there is nothing now
remaining of it's ancient grandeur, the greatest
part of it has been pulled down to build a farm
house. I believe I have sent you all the intelligence
I could collect. I wish I could have met
with anything new or interesting. --
I have looked about for sea weed but I find
there is none on these sands; the plants are
the same kinds of those about Taxal, I have
only seen 2 or 3 that I did not know. The
timber in this country (except a few in Lord Georges
Park) is poor & owing perhaps to the
sea breezes. There is very little fruit in this



country but we have fish, particularly
Cockles & Salmon in the highest perfection
I often wish for you though I believe there are
some things you would not entirely relish.
I am impatient to hear from you, be so good
to write to me at Birch & tell me all about
Elizabeth. I think as little of her as I can
help. -- I have been very tolerable since I came
here I have been much commended for my
improved looks. I hope Please God I shall
for the future enjoy a better state of health
or perhaps more properly of mind as the one
is in me, entirely regulated by the other.
Be so good to remember me affectionately
to every one & believe me to be in every
situation your sister & friend in the
most endearing sense. Sarah Dickenson --



Mrs Dickenson
Taxal
To be left at Miss Goulbourne's
King Street
Manchester

(consult diplomatic text or XML for annotations, deletions, clarifications,
quotations,
spellings, uncorrected forms, split words, abbreviations, formatting)



 1. 'To overcome (a person's mind/feelings)' (OED s.v. overset v., 2a).
 2. Apparently an error for Ann Gillison (Lancaster Civic Society).
 3. Provise 'to provide, arrange, or supply beforehand; to make provision for' (OED s.v. v., 2).
 4. A reference to Wilson Gale-Braddyll of Conishead.
 5. By this time The Lakes was a recognised label for the English Lake District, with its 'picturesque' landscape.

Metadata

Library References

Repository: The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

Archive: Mary Hamilton Papers

Item title: Letter from Sarah Dickenson to Mary Hamilton

Shelfmark: HAM/1/3/2/7

Correspondence Details

Author: Sarah Dickenson

Place sent: unknown

Addressee: Mary Hamilton

Place received: Taxal, Chapel-en-le-Frith

Date sent: 24 August 1791

Letter Description

Summary: Letter from Sarah Dickenson to Mary Hamilton, relating to a tour of Lancashire and the Lake District. Dickenson notes that as Hamilton has expressed her wish to hear from her she will write to her some of her observations made whilst touring. They travelled first to Preston, where they stopped to change horses before moving on to Lancaster, where they visited the Castle, which was in use as a prison during this period. A number of the prisoners were in the yard and many crowded around them. The noise and the thought of the suffering of the prisoners affected Dickenson greatly. Her party made their way to the tower to view the surrounding area but she writes that she was unable to appreciate it, as the 'horrors of the place had so entirely occupied my mind'.
    The letter continues to describe Lancaster, and Dickenson notes that the 'almshouses' did impress her, particularly one founded by a Mrs Ann Dennison [possibly an error for Gillison] for old maids; another was for twelve widows and widowers. Both houses were 'neat & simple & seemed well regulated'. She reports visiting Lord George Cavendish's house, Holker Hall in Lancashire [now part of the county of Cumbria], reporting that she liked the paintings which she 'believe[s] are very valuable'.
    The letter touches on changes in production and increasing industrialisation and how this has affected communities. On cotton production in Lancashire, Dickenson reports on the importance of the industry in the neighbourhood 'which the advocates for trade are rightly pleased with, but the thinking part of the inhabitants are of a different opinion'. These people 'observe that the people were able to maintain themselves before that [the factories]'. Although the gains are 'trifling in comparison to what they now are, ... the works have been the means of bringing many strangers into the country', who may in 'time corrupt the manners of the people'. She continues that education is 'neglected' and the increased wealth that will accompany these changes 'will be the means of [spreading] immorality & extravagance amongst them'.
    Dickenson carries on describing the tour, her health and her wish to hear news from Hamilton.
    Original reference No. 3.
   

Length: 2 sheets, 1256 words

Transliteration Information

Editorial declaration: First edited in the project 'Image to Text' (David Denison & Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, 2013-2019), now incorporated in the project 'Unlocking the Mary Hamilton Papers' (Hannah Barker, Sophie Coulombeau, David Denison, Tino Oudesluijs, Cassandra Ulph, Christine Wallis & Nuria Yáñez-Bouza, 2019-2022).

All quotation marks are retained in the text and are represented by appropriate Unicode characters. Words split across two lines may have a hyphen on the first, the second or both fragments (reco-|ver, imperfect|-ly, satisfacti-|-on); or a double hyphen (pur=|port, dan|=ger, qua=|=litys); or none (respect|ing). Any point in abbreviations with superscripted letter(s) is placed last, regardless of relative left-right orientation in the original. Thus, Mrs. or Mrs may occur, but M.rs or Mr.s do not.

Acknowledgements: XML version: Research Assistant funding in 2016/17 provided by The John Rylands Research Institute.

Research assistant: Sarah Connor, undergraduate student, University of Manchester

Transliterator: Liam Bretag, undergraduate student, University of Manchester (submitted May 2017)

Cataloguer: Lisa Crawley, Archivist, The John Rylands Library

Cataloguer: John Hodgson, Head of Special Collections, The John Rylands Library

Copyright: Transcriptions, notes and TEI/XML © the editors

Revision date: 13 April 2020

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