“A perpetual state of honeymoon” – snapshots from a Victorian marriage – 14th March 1867

Malcolm begins his letter with the fact that he has been ferreting all day and then details how he has decided to change his travel plans. He explains that he is going to delay coming back to London for a few days, intending to travel on the following Monday (18th March).

Malcolm then goes on to outline the reasons why it is so difficult it is to find a house with suitable accommodation for their family and servants:

‘It is curious how little assistance is to be obtained from anybody. There seems to be no provision for a poor gentleman who has any more servants than a couple of women. This seems to be the great difficulty. You may get a proud house and stables – provided you only have a groom and a maid-of-all-work, but you can’t get a small house that will put up the very limited establishment we should require.’

Malcolm is clearly concerned about the current management of the Edinchip estate and feels it is being poorly managed. It would seem that the estate is being run by a Trust:

‘I feel convinced that money has been frittered away to the advantage of no-one’.

There also appears to be some sort of contention as to who will inherit the estate:

‘I feel I often keep hammering away on my own account and so must bore you, but I want you to understand the whole question so that you may help me in dealing with it. And if we ever do get things right a large portion of our success will be due to you.’

Malcolm remarks ‘I am very glad that Margaret has been vaccinated and hope she may be none the worse & it may take well.’

Below is an image of a vaccination certificate from one of the couple’s younger children to show the style and wording of the document. The certificate for Margaret is not in the papers, but would have been the same as this.

He closes his letter by saying how much he is missing Helen – ‘I ain’t fit to be alone, for I don’t feel myself in your absence.’

In her letter Helen laments that the post is so often delayed and worries that he will think that she is not responding to specific points in his letters:

‘… I replied as soon as I could. I am sure the letters here are often detained at Kingston [upon Thames], or it may be in London

She comments on her suspicion that she thinks her mother sees Malcolm as neglecting her:

‘… it was not that she actually said anything, but her asking so often if you were still at Scone I thought odd & I felt inclined to ask in return, where else should you be?’

In-laws and their opinions have evidently always been an issue between married couples.

Helen writes that it is cold and snowy and the weather so bad that she didn’t feel she could go out. She gives news of the two children and the visitors she had that admired the children:

‘When we’d finished luncheon, Malvina came down & behaved very well, she hid her face for a moment but then sat on my knee talking to herself & was quite placid as long as they didn’t come too near… Margaret also came to be looked at and was much admired.’

As she does often, Helen closes the letter with how much she misses her husband:

‘How glad I shall be, my own pet, to see your dear face & hear your voice again.’