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A YOUNG LADY'S JOURNEY
FROM DUBLIN TO LONDON IN 1791 1
[Joan Reilly, of Scarvagh House, County of Down, Member of Parliament for Blessington at the time of the Union, married in 1773 Jane, the only child of Colonel Lushington, of Sittingbourne, Kent; their daughter Jane Hester, the writer of this diary, was born in 1774 and died in 1813.]
Friday, May 6th.—At ten at night came down to the Packet House. Mr. Dawson and Mrs. Benson (a friend of his) met us there. We set off in a little open boat down the river and found it very pleasant, being a fine, warm night, went down into the cabin ; when we got on board the ship and mother played cards. We got under way at two o'clock past midnight, and then went to bed and were not the least sick, but were kept awake all night by a drunken passenger.
Saturday we got up at nine, went on deck and saw the Wicklow Mountains faintly on one side and Holyhead on the other; we spent the day very pleasantly on deck, eat heartily, Mr. Benson played the flute, we passed many ships in the course of the day and toward evening the Queen passed pretty close, we saluted her with one gun and hoisted our Irish colours ; about the same time we were so near Holyhead as to enable me to take a slight sketch of the coast which is rocky with blue mountains appearing behind; a little later we had a fine view of the Skerry Islands with the Lighthouse on top of them and the sun just setting behind them; all the Welsh coast we passed that evening is bold and rocky but not a tree to be seen, we went down into the cabin after sunset, part of the passengers went to bed, mother and some gentlemen whom we had got acquainted with sat down to whist and others looked on, I began to net, a little odd figure of a quaker in a red night cap got out of his berth and came over to the table where we sat and began to preach against gambling in general, but particularly when we were in danger of going to the bottom, mother prevailed on the gentlemen to leave off and we sat
[The style and punctuation of this interesting little fragment hare been left quite unaltered lest any of the characteristics of sweet seventeen' of 100 years ago (long before the advanced woman' was invented) should be interfered with.-EDITOR, Nineteenth Century.]
down to supper ; our party at table consisted of Mr. Dawson, Mr. Benson, a good sort of civil young man, Mr. Evans an elderly man, whom mother had once known, a rough good sort of quizz his son, his father said he was agreeable, going to the Temple, Dr. Thomas a good humoured fat person with very laughing eyes, Mrs. Collier a short broad woman with a cross countenance, but something in her manner which indicates a better heart than you would at first suppose and rather agreeable, a bouncing female Quaker who was very lively and pleasant, and Mr. Galbraith a young gentleman who wore a short blue jacket over a long grey coat, there were besides in a berth just by us Mrs. Thomas, wife of the parson, an ugly quiet little woman, too sick to eat, in another berth was a Miss Hoar, a tall, handsome English woman, who luckily for her fellow passengers was very sick, as we found the next morning she would have talked us all to death; there were many other passengers particularly Quakers; at ten o'clock we had finished our supper and part of us went on deck; there was rather a better gale than we had before, the moon was just setting and was a most beautiful sight; the Captain told us we were just crossing Beaumaris Bay; we did not stay long on deck but came down and went to bed at twelve o'clock; the ship was so quiet there was not a voice to be heard.
Sunday 8th.—I awoke at four o'clock and heard a good smart breeze; it was a little lowered at five and finding I could not sleep and wishing to see the Welsh coast I got mother to get up and went on deck; the sun was not long risen, we were near the coast, which had altered its appearance much since we saw it the preceeding evening, it was more cultivated but still bold; we were told we had got on a good way in the night and had passed the Bar of Chester ; mother and I got into the carriage, and while we were there a small Merchantman passed us so close as to be near breaking it, some of our ropes got entangled with it, but we were soon disengaged; about eight o'clock while we were at breakfast it became quite calm and we waited for the tide to carry us down the river Dee to Parkgate; at this time we had the coast of Wales on the right, which had not changed its appearance that morning but continued a steep shore much wooded and here and there some houses; on the left we had sand banks; at a distance the coast of Lancaster; when we got into the river it was much nearer but not a pleasing object as it seemed to consist of steep banks of barren sand; we were here shewn the mast of a ship which had been wrecked in the late storms coming out of Liverpool; it continued fine and we were carried by the tide at a very pleasant rate down the river; we passed a large Dutch vessel. After sailing close enough to the coast of Lancaster to see some fine houses we arrived about ten o'clock at Parkgate, but the tide not being quite in we could not get close to the shore, but went some part of the way in a small boat and were carried by the men
the rest of the way. We found chaises on the beach to take us to the Inn where we dressed as soon as we could get the luggage from the Custom house; our fellow passengers soon dispersed; some of our friends went on in the stage to Chester. While we were dressing there came a Merchantman into the harbour (I suppose the one we had passed in the morning as it was coming slowly the same way as we were) on fire, and the whole time we were there they were striving to save the cargo and sink her. Just as we were setting off from Parkgate the King arrived in the harbour, it had left Dublin twelve hours later than the Prince of Wales in which we sailed, but had more of the breeze which blew up in the evening than us. Mr. Montgomery and his sisters were in it and Mr. and Mrs. Pomeroy. We set out for Chester at two o'clock with excellent horses and saw some coal mines at a distance and passed through Neston a neat little village. The country from Parkgate is flat and not remarkably planted, but the neatness of the houses pleased me, the frightful wooden ones also surprised me much at first, as they are striped and figured in a most ridiculous manner. The road is narrow and bad ; towards Chester it grew broader but was very bad still. Chester appears a fine old town as you drive into it. We dined at the White Lion Inn with some of our sea friends, it is a very good one and the man who keeps it is remarkable for his fine carriages, we saw many quite elegant. After dinner we walked to King Street to Mr. Gray's ; we supped at nine which appeared odd to me, but I was very glad to get to bed as I was very much tired and more giddy with the sea than I was when I was on it.
Monday.--After breakfast Mrs. Gray took us out in her chaise to see the town, we went first to the Castle, where we met Mr. G. and got out of the carriage; here we were first shewn the model of a new jail that is to be built after the plan of Howard's; there is a great deal of it done, which we saw from the room in which the model was, it will be most magnificent. We next walked to the inner castle yard, which is a fine fortification very high and looks down on the river Dee and has a fine prospect, we here saw the convicts who were working at the new jail all dressed in yellow jackets and hats, with chains on their legs. We then got into the chaise and drove to the East Gate, which is an extremely fine arch. We here got up on the walls which encircle the town and are broad enough for two people to walk abreast on them; there is on one side of them a small parapet wall and on the other a slight paling, and we walked along them for some way; though it is the public promenade for all the beaux and belles in Chester it is by no means pretty, only one peep of the Dee and its banks; there are here and there little watch towers which are now converted into resting places for the Masters and Misses of the town to Airt in; they were once used for a very different purpose. We next walked in the Rows which are piazzas under which you may walk all through the town with shops on either side, they are like everything else in Chester very old; we next went to the Cathedral which is Gothic and very fine and very old, but in tolerable repair; what entertained me most were some little figures round the Bishop's throne, whose heads we were told had been cut off by Oliver Cromwell, but were found some years since and put on again. There is a fine tapestry altar piece, of Saint Paul; we then drove into the court of the Bishop's Palace, where there was nothing remarkable but the gate into it, a fine old Gothic arch. After dinner the Miss Grey's came home from a visit, where they had been for some days. Mrs. G. took mother and me out in the evening to see the Linen Hall which is thought a good one. She then took us to where we could have a good view of the race course which is small, but prettily circumstanced ; there is near it another fine new arch under the walls. When we came home I was so sick I was obliged to go to bed.
Tuesday 10th.—Left Chester at nine o'clock, Mr. Dawson riding with us he had been so good as to wait to conduct us part of the way. As we left the town we had a fine view of it as it stands on the banks of the Dee. We found the roads bad, but were recompensed by a fine cultivated country, a good deal of planting, and a fine view of Besan 2 Castle; it stands on the top of a very high steep mount, which raises its head beyond the near trees, which together with some more blue distant mountains would make a good picture; it changes its appearance often as you go along and is in all points of view beautiful ; we also passed a neat little village with a beautiful church, it is called Acton. We came next to Tarporley, a neat village, where we changed horses, but did not alight; the road from Tarporley to Nantwich (our next stage) is better than the others and lies through a cultivated country, but there is not much variety; we did not lose sight of Besan Castle till we had passed Tarporley some time. Nantwich is an old town chiefly built of wood; we did not get out there either, we next came to Woore, a small neat village, and next to Stone where we dined. The country during these last two stages had little altered, except once for a short space
grew more mountainy and in my opinion more beautiful; in this spot there was a neat country seat situated on the side of a small lake surrounded by wooded mountains; the postilion told us the name of it was Mear and that it belonged to some lady whose name he forgot. I now first observed the paling which I have admired so much all through England. There is an excellent Inn at Stone. We set out next for Wolseley Bridge, we passed by Lord Harrowby's, a little further on we were surprised by a man crying out. Ladies, a gentleman told me to tell you the park which you are just coming in sight of is Ingestre Hall, Lord Talbot's' (it was Mr. Dawson who had ridden on before us, who had desired him). We passed it with great pleasure, both on account
2 Pecforton Castle.
of the owner and the beauty of the place; it is a large range of hills well laid down and planted with some pretty buildings; it is joined by another place more beautiful, as the hills grow more steep and uneven with a river running at the bottom; it belongs to a Lady Anson and is the prettiest park I have yet seen in England ; it extends to the sweet village of Wolseley Bridge and helps to beautify it, we got out there for a moment, as the Inn which is situated on the banks of the river looked so inviting we could not resist. On the other side of the village is Sir William Wolseley's, a pretty place, we got to a comfortable Inn at Lichfield about dusk, and were very glad to get soon to bed after travelling [blank in original] miles that day.
Wednesday 11th.—Went to see the Cathedral at Lichfield at seven o'clock, it is extremely worth seeing; we first went round the outside, which is magnificent; it is entirely Gothic, the ornaments wonderfully light, but many of them much defaced ; they are cut out of the same soft stone as at Chester; on the top of the front there is a figure of Charles the Second, which is much newer than the rest ; there are numbers of odd figures, besides others almost imperceivable and some quite gone; there are some curious old tombs; the inside is delightfully fine; they are at present repairing it; the entire roof is stone and nearly all the ornaments light and beautiful, the caps of the pillars and everything carved in a degree of taste that would do honour to a modern artist. There is but very little painted glass and no altar piece; there is a pretty monument to the memory of Lady Wortley Montagu. We then went to Coleshill this town has nothing remarkable in it. We breakfasted there; our hostess told us that Baddington, the seat of Mr. Bromley, was near it; the country from it to Coventry is uninteresting till you come in sight of the town, which you see on rising a small hill after a long flat, four spires appearing among the trees, three of them belonging to Coventry and one to a new little village romantically situated which you pass through before you come to the town, as we left Coleshill we overtook four men riding with twenty fine young horses that they were taking to a dealer in London. At Coventry there was nothing worth observing but Peeping Tom, a ridiculous old ugly figure in a wig and a gold laced hat stuck out of a hole in the wall. Our next stage was to Dunchurch; though some part of the country is extremely well planted it is all ugly from the excessive flatness of it till you come within six miles of Dunchurch, when the road becomes very broad and good planted on each side with fine large trees which hide the flatness of the country from you and beautify the road very much ; they were planted by the Duke of Montagu. We next came to Daventry where we bought cheap silk stockings, which are manufactured in the town ; we then set off for Northampton ; first the road lay through a fine country, not so flat as the preceding day and