The Pursuit of Happiness
Copyright: Please feel free to make use of my written work, but please have the courtesy to give an acknowledgement.
The beginning of the Courtship: Frank Turner Gent & Florence Barrington
Holiday romances did not happen for Frank Gent. At the end of the year he met Florence Barrington at church, and a courtship commenced. Their frequent letters to each other (these were the days before telephone calls) were preserved in bundles.
14th January, 1890
Dear Miss Barrington,
I was sorry I did not see you after Church on Sunday night; but will meet you at the corner of the Square next Sunday evening after service, as you will perhaps have heard I have already promised.
At the same time as Frank Gent began his courtship, his mother found someone new to care for, Lily McCoughlin, a baby she eventually unofficially adopted.
Dear Miss Barrington,
I must thank you very much for the little shoes and stockings you sent for the poor baby I pity and nurse a bit, it is a little helpless creature and really needed pity or I should never have known it. How thankful we should be for parents and a good home. I was so surprised when I found them on the table the next morning and tried them on when I fetched it the next day. I little thought anyone was touched with compassion so young as you; several have seemed to pity, but it has ended there. The old woman lost her cow; many seemed to be sorry. When the Quaker came he gave her a sovereign, and asked others how much they were sorry. We have deformed and cripples enough so I thought I would try to save that little helpless one from such a life of misery, and must thank you again for its Mother has nothing to keep herself respectable after paying for it to be nursed, and it ought to be nursed and fed properly for the money, but I dare not say anything, for it only would be the sufferer for she would not let it come. In kind love I am yours affectionately
Six weeks later and they are already closer - he now addresses her as Florrie.
17th February, 1890
I have got the tickets and will meet you at 6 o' clock to-morrow evening at the corner of Quay Street and Deansgate.
It will be a very homely affair, so don't make any difference from the usual.
5th March, 1890
I am laid up with a severe cold or something so have not been able to come on that account. I had arranged to go with my Broughton friends to their dance at Eccles to-night. The one I mentioned to you, but of course it was out of the question.
I do hope you did not take any harm on Friday night, drop me a line to say how you are and just as a token of remembrance as I cannot come up.
I feel as if I shall have to take a severe dose of sweating medicine to relieve myself of pain, so in that case I shall have to stay in to-morrow. I need not say I am much disappointed as I looked forward to a night at Pendleton or somewhere else.
However, I must make up for it on recovery.
Looking for your letter
Florrie too has now dropped the formality. There is the familiar apology for her writing: she too had a sense of inferiority, and was acutely aware of her lack of education.
I have been thinking you may be ill, with another fresh cold, as you did not come. Such a night as Sunday made me feel ill. I have been in town to-day, there has been sales, so I feel rather tired. Although I have been waiting for you coming, I feel anxious to know why you did not come to-night.
I met Miss Sixsmith with a friend in town. She is not leaving here until next Monday. She wanted me to see her to-morrow night. I like to be with you better. I hope I have done right by writing, as I am always doing wrong you know. Excuse bad writing and don't be late to-morrow.
Yours sincerely Florrie.
8th March, 1890
I am sorry you are no better since last Friday night. Last Sunday was so bitter cold I did not expect you, as there was no appointment made. However I hope you are better to-day. What do you think, I have quite worn to a shadow since the past week. I won't expect you on Sunday night, try and get better. Edith and I are going to Seedley church, most likely.
The heading of this letter sounds quite familiar, that's a thing I am not used to.
With kind regards
Yours truly Florrie.
PS We shall be in Stretford Road some day next week, so write and let me know if you arrange to meet me. I can't think of anything more to say except I am quite well after the dance.
8th March, 1890
I cannot conceive what is the matter, I hope you are not ill yourself.
I should have come up to see when I did not hear, but have been too unwell. I was worse than I told you in the letter. I expect it was Russian Influenza, of course, everything is now.
Write by the morning's post to say whether you are well, let me have it to-morrow evening, as I am all anxiety to know how you are; it seems so long this week since last Friday at Salford with you. I have been miserable chained in at night and yet not daring to risk further cold as I was so ill.
Don't fail to write in the morning as I ask you now to please me, and say what about arrangements for Sunday; I do hope I shall be all right to come up then, I shall be miserable if I am not; if I am not you must really come down here, as I must not let another miserable week such as this pass over.
With hopes of hearing you are well to-morrow, and hopes of an early meeting.
Believe me, Dear Florrie
Yours very truly
22nd March, 1890
I was sorry I missed seeing you on Thursday, but I was late so could not blame you much; and have no doubt the news you heard from Miss S. would upset you also. It seems strange after me saying you had no time for her now, owing to me taking it all, that this should happen.
However, you won't be quite alone, as you filled her situation you know even before she left it, and our hearts won't hold too many at one time any more than the Pendleton tramcars.
I shall accept your invitation to your house to-morrow with pleasure; and as you will be alone till tea time I will come early, say about 3 or half past, as it will be an open night when the others arrive.
I will save all the rest to say to-morrow when we meet.
Till then, remember
31st March, 1890
I should have come up to see you to-morrow as I wanted to say something to you, but I have arranged to go to Chorlton which I am annoyed about, however, these calls of business have to be attended to however distasteful to us.
I hear the piece at the Royal is a very good thing so as we are meeting early let us get a good seat. Be at the rendez-vous at the time, 6.30, and we shall be able to have a talk before the play commences.
I hope you are not tired out after the walk: I have had a stiff day again; on foot all day, so feel inclined for a quiet rest and refreshment to-night.
I wished we were having a day in the country together this beautiful afternoon, and felt inclined to come for you to take a trip to Didsbury or Cheadle. But we will consider that a treat in store. Indeed we may have many such if all goes on as it is doing. I hope it may, and think it rests with you to a great extent now, though you always seem so suspicious of my sincerity.
I don't think there is anything else that will not keep till Wednesday.
I fancy you owe me about half a dozen letters now so after this I think I shall sue you for the debt or demand compensation when we meet. Oh, let it be soon.
With Kindest love.
Believe me, dearest
3rd April, 1890
I have been to the Excursion Offices to-day and find the trips to Matlock start at 8 AM those to Buxton at 9.40 and to Blackpool and Southport as early. I think these all too early so we will not go by them.
There is a good concert at the Botanical Gardens, and there is your fancy; Sale gardens. So there is plenty of choice, at any rate.
I have not been able to get any information about Alderley Edge anywhere. However, if you open the door at 3 PM to-morrow afternoon you may see me somewhere near it and we will then arrange for some place. I don't care where so long as we enjoy ourselves. Easter is nothing extraordinary with me as I can go a trip into the country any Thursday or Friday. So as we have such a stock of places to choose you must make up your mind before I come.
Trusting you did not have disturbed dreams of women walking in their sleep etc. last night, and looking within pleasure to to-morrow.
Postmark: 15th [?] April, 1890
10th April, 1890
I will meet you on Thursday, at 6.30 at the Tram office, so we can walk to your house If that is too early write and let me know, I don't see why, you never mentioned the time last Sunday night. I want to get home by 10.30.
We are going to learn some fresh patterns of macramé to-morrow night. It's never too late to mend, you know, take that as example. If I practise one or two nice songs you must try and sing them. If your Mother will allow it give her my best respects. If you are sure, you know, what I mentioned.
Good bye for the present,
Yours truly Florrie.
Frank must have discovered Florrie had a previous suitor, and was piqued with jealousy.
2nd May, 1890
Has something happened this week? I should be much obliged if you would let me know whether you intend coming on Sunday evening or at all. You have quite spoiled my pleasure this week. I was to have gone out on Thursday, but Ma would not let me, I suppose it would have been wrong, if you had come.
Now let me know, it's very unsatisfying to know nothing. I suppose you think it's time the correspondence is broken after the one year old love letter. You are sadly mistaken in that letter. If I had thought you should have seen the letter and date, what there is, last Sunday. Do you suppose I should waste my time. If I liked Mr [name cut out].
I dislike him if anything. Did you come last Tuesday? It was 7 PM, almost, when we came from town. I did not wait long as I wanted my tea.
There is nothing I desire better than to hear from you either one way or the other, by Sunday morning, as I want to spend Sunday with Miss Need if you don't come.
3rd May, 1890
Being a bit bothered on Sunday night I forgot what time you mentioned, 7 PM or half past. But meet me at the Trafalgar at 7 PM, Thursday. I am going with the festival to Bowden on Saturday, so I have been writing to Mrs Steel to let her know we can go, Em and I. You could not go, I know, you never make an appointment for Saturday's as you like to have a holiday.
Yours as usual
5th May, 1890
I hope you will like the enclosed, if they are not the right size tell me to-morrow night and I will change them for you.
Don't forget the arrangement depended on whether the weather was fine, if wet to-morrow I will come on Wednesday, but I am trusting to all the rain falling to-night, as I don't want to wait till Wednesday.
I walked all the way home last night from the corner of Oldfield Road after 10 and got home by 25 past. So it is not such a frightful distance.
I hope you would not catch cold on the car as it went so cold later on. I did not feel it till I left you; of course, you know the reason.
Excuse me saying more as I have the meeting to attend at 8 and
31st May, 1890
I don't expect to be able to come up before evening to-morrow so I will meet you as of old at the corner of Church Square at about 8 o' clock.
Yours as usual
Postmark: 3rd June, 1890
I am taking the opportunity of writing while our people have gone to town. I sincerely hope you was not vexed last Sunday night. I could not get Edith to go to church and I think you was not very particular whether I stayed with you or not.
This is not going to be an apologizing letter is it 'fidgle sticks' but I would like you to be more open minded and to let me know the next time you are coming because I can't always be waiting for you.
I will tell you, Frank, why I was vexed last Friday when I see you. It would fill six sheets to tell you what is in my mind.
We have a telegram this afternoon from Middleton to say my Aunt is nearly dead, so they will be going. Excuse more, as I am in haste.
Your sincere Friend
Wednesday, 11th June, 1890
I hope you would not be disappointed that I did not come up to-night as arranged, I was not able to finish business till half past 7, and then it rained so much I thought you would not expect me, and as we had arranged to go to the park it was of course quite unfit for being outside in such weather.
I have been so harassed with business and annoyances this week I have felt too much upset to put on a quiet easy air such as I ought to when I come to see you, though it would have done me good and calmed me down to see you to-night. Therefore you can judge how much I regretted the causes which kept me away.
I am afraid it will not be fine to-morrow, and so we shall be prevented from going out, and you know I don't want to be constantly sitting inside lest it becomes disagreeable to your folks. But for all that I will come in any case in the hope that it may be fine enough to go out, as I know you would rather go out than stay in.
I don't know whether you will think this a letter of vain and frivolous excuses, but I assure you it is not but is the pure and simple truth such as I always tell.
So awaiting to-morrow and seeing you with feelings of pleasure
13th June, 1890
Saturday, 11 PM
I hope you did not get in hot water for staying out beyond the time last night, we must go earlier in future when we go there as they keep us so long, and if we begin to play cards there will be more trouble than ever to get away early. But what are the odds so long as we are enjoying ourselves. I know you like to enjoy life and squeeze as much pleasure out of everything as you know how.
If it is fine to-morrow (which I dare bet on this time) I shall be sorry to miss the pleasure of an afternoon's walk, but it is no use coming up in the afternoon for an hour's stroll before tea. So I think the best plan will be to go to church and meet you for a quiet walk afterwards.
I intended to talk it over with you on Friday but we had not time, and we had so much to say that something had to be forgotten.
I have not yet got rid of my 'burdens' and don't know yet when I shall as my brother is not at all anxious to have the 'very latest' back at present.
I hope another week will so improve things with him that we can send the surplus of the family to his house.
Well, it is nearly bedtime so I will not put any more padding into this but wait until I see your welcome face to-morrow when I can say all I wish with more pleasure than I can write it while I am far away from you.
So till then dearest
Believe me still
57, Spring Gardens,
13th June, 1890
You must excuse me not writing to you before now, but I have been so very busy, and I thought I would wait until I could say when I was coming home. I intend coming on Sunday so if you will come to my home on Sunday afternoon about half past two I shall be very glad to have a walk with you. I have not time to write more fully, but I will tell you all news when we meet.
Now Florrie don't disappoint me but do come and don't be late please.
PS Remember 2.30.
[enclosed is Florrie's membership card of the Girls' Friendly Society with 'Rules of Daily Life'.]
Six months have gone by, and it appears that although Frank was at Florrie's house every week, she has not been to his home. His mother pleaded the care of young Lily, but there is also the suspicion that she secretly did not want to lose her son.
Saturday, 9 PM
21st June, 1890
As I promised you to write some arrangement for to-morrow I now do so though it is with deep regret that it is not to arrange for you to spend the afternoon down here. You know my Mother feels this child a great charge and is more upset with company than if she were younger. The house is also in such a neglected state as I have told you, having only had a woman in one day as yet, that she feels fretful at the idea of anyone coming while she is so hampered and while the place is in such a state.
So I think it best to postpone for the present the pleasure of having you down for our long talked of visit. Knowing that you will fully understand my position and be sure that it is only for these reasons that I feel able to wait until we have got clear of our encumbrances.
I heartily wished you to come but when I see that my Mother is really so harassed with a young child, what can I do? You were also considerate enough to say you would not come till after we were clear so I am deferring it on the strength of the sympathy which you showed.
I enjoyed myself very much last night at your house as I always do, and devoutly hope ere long to have such evenings at ours.
I will meet you at the Hospital corner at 6 to-morrow evening if fine, if not, I will meet you after church at the corner of the Square, unless you are at the Hospital at 6 whether fine or wet. I shall be, and if you are not there, shall see you after.
With fondest remembrances
Your Sincere friend
Postmark: 22nd June, 1890
Lest you think I have forgotten you this week I had better do something to keep myself in remembrance.
It is now 10 o' clock yet I sit down to write. I have been busy all day, and engaged with my brother and another gentleman all evening since 7 talking over some business. I had great difficulty last night in getting someone to take my duty at the Building Society the night I shall be away (Monday week), especially as things are in rather an awkward state owing to two or three of the Officers having resigned. However, I have got a gentleman to promise, but holidays take a lot of anxiety getting ready for. Though we never care to be without them for all that.
I was in town to-day but did not see you about Cannon Street. I met Mr Birtles and asked him where he had been hiding, but could get no satisfactory answer.
I had a young lady in at 6 to-night in very doleful spirits who says she is going away into the country for her holidays as she is tired of the frivolity of seaports and she is going where she can have quiet rest and calmness as she has no friends she cares for to go with and she feels lonely and miserable. What do you think of that? and she is a remarkably handsome girl who would receive lots of notice anywhere, I suspect something has gone wrong with her courting matters and she can't forget it. Oh dear: 'Love's young dream again.' Perhaps it's an old dream though in this case.
If fine to-morrow meet me at Trafalgar at 3.30 for a trip in the fresh air.
It is now closing time
So believe me
Florence was the second of seven children. The eldest, Frances, was married to Percy Wilkes. She had a younger sister Emily, and the youngest, Maud. Her three brothers were William, married to Emma, Ralph, married to Edith, and Arthur.
28th June, 1890
Sorry I can't arrange for to-morrow afternoon. Ma has not returned from Middleton. If she spends another night Pa will be sure to bring her back to-morrow. So in that case come for an afternoon walk and have tea with Mr Wilkes, or come here as usual, but please yourself, come in the evening if you prefer, tell you all good news when I see you, ta-tar.
1st July, 1890
I could not get to see you in anything like decent time to-night so had to disappoint myself of the pleasure I always have in coming to see you.
I have had the tic or whatever it is, ever since Sunday, have had hardly any rest and feel so knocked up I did not feel able to come. It was nearly eight before I had tea and then I had some more business that required doing before to-morrow. Nevertheless, if I had felt fit to come I should have done so and left it, as I have told you often before.
I have got a letter about going into the country to-morrow with my mother so shall have to make an effort and go, perhaps the change of air will do my jaw-ache good, though if it is wet it will not be much pleasure. I may not be back till late in the evening as we want to call at one place in the evening after tea. So I may not be able to see you now till Thursday, but you know what you say absence does; if it is true it is all right and I hope it will have that effect.
I think I have written you a very calm letter and have not given you much sentiment this time though I have had a job to keep from it. I hope you have not been suffering in sympathy with me with the tooth-ache as you were on Sunday.
I shall have to stop this I have so much to say I don't know how to say it. I ought to be with you and then I could get on better.
So remember dearest that I shall be waiting anxiously for our next meeting and hope you may be doing the same.
For the present we must put up with things as they are and 'be contented with our lot.'
Believe me dear Florrie
Here is another clue of tension between Esther and Florrie. Given Esther's humble origins, it is strange that she thought Florrie not quite good enough.
17th July, 1890
Has it to be, the old saying, absence makes etc. this week. However, you might send an explanation, as I think you should have wrote, if you have been busy visiting your friends. If I said anything to annoy you last Sunday evening, I am to be excused. Just place yourself in my position, and think our people thought that I might get someone better and so on. I don't suppose you would think it pleasant. That is the way I look at things, when your Mother talks of looking fate in the face. I really have liked going to your house, only that one thought I don't like.
Now I must end my letter as Emily and I have to go up town again to-night.
Pa was quite calm with me last Sunday night, I think there was no occasion for you to hurry off, like you did.
Hoping to hear from you.
Sincerely yours Florence.
Here are the plans being laid for a holiday together in the Isle of Man, though in circumstances of utmost propriety.
29th July, 1890
I have received answers from Douglas, and both places are anxiously waiting, of course. We are thinking of staying in Circular Road. I wrote to the lady in Athol Street last night because she may expect us. Ma thinks we had better go by the 1 PM boat. If you have any news from your Uncle, write and let me know to-night, and the time for meeting you on Thursday. But I think if you can come for a short time after business on Wednesday evening, things would be better understood, don't you.
No more at present from
Yours Sincerely Florrie.
PS If you are busy don't call because I shall understand, if you write a nice letter.
Postmark: 30th July, 1890
Tuesday, 10 PM
I got your letter at tea time and was glad to hear you had heard from the boarding houses, if we are not satisfied with Circular Road when we see it I have got the cards of other places that I know so we shall be safe somewhere.
I have not yet heard from my Uncle but he is always very remiss in his correspondence. However, I have got the address also where he stayed, so that is another one in a very nice situation. I am rather vexed that he has not written more especially to ask my Mother to his house; if there is no letter in the morning I think she will go even without hearing from him to spend her holidays there. I wanted her at last to come with me but she seems inclined to go to Liverpool. We have gone away so often together it seems strange not doing so now to her.
I have been frightfully busy getting things in order (business I mean) that I felt quite done up to-day. I must pack and arrange my own business to-morrow and will if possible come up to-morrow night as you suggest.
We will go by the one o' clock boat if you like but I thought the 11.15 boat would be less crowded. You must be sure and wrap yourself up well as it may be very cold on board. I still think it would be better to take the 10 AM train, then if we did not like the first boat we could lunch in Liverpool.
Well we shall soon I hope be safely housed in the 'Beautiful Isle of the Sea.' I hope we shall have a calm passage and a glorious holiday.
So till to-morrow evening
Yours as ever
July 31st, 1890
Thursday Central Station with Mother. Met Florrie, Emily and Arthur, train to Liverpool. Bus to landing stage. Saw Mother in tram for Tuebrook. We went to dinner, took one o' clock boat, Prince of Wales for Douglas, good passage, felt squeamish, nearly lost luggage. car to 70, Circular Road, tea, out shopping etc.
Friday Up at six, walk on prom with Arthur. Oysters. Breakfast. 8.30 set in wet. Douglas head very wet, in all afternoon. Falcon Cliff at night, got ragged at other fellows, nearly a row.
Saturday Joined party in car to Ramsey, grand drive and dinner leg of lamb, looked round, drove home evening, tea.
Sunday Kirk Bradan, after dinner train to Port Soderick, walked over cliffs Emily and Arthur went back in steamer, we stayed till six o' clock went back in yacht, tea at house.
Monday Bank Holiday. Douglas head. niggers, girls met two fellows. I left them let them go home alone. I went to dinner after, rather boozy. Walked about at night.
Tuesday Could not get steamer to Dhoon, so took train to Castleton, looked over castle and town, tea, missed train, walked to Balasalla, train at 5.30 to Douglas, tea. Derby Castle at night, girls paid for themselves, they got two fellows, Florrie went in grounds, so told her off after that night seemed upset, no more dancing. Waited for Emily. Took car home, Florrie wanted to walk alone, they went out to buy in. I left Mrs Shemimin [?] to pay driver and went out to see the game, saw them going home. When I got in Flo had gone to bed, went up to see, brought her down bottled all, long talk, said good night on stairs, she was more yielding than ever. bed at 1.30.
Wednesday Douglas Market, bought fish called pub, offensive landlord, Douglas Head, sat together all morning, switch back. Dinner at two. In all afternoon. Evening walked to Onchan etc. Emily wanted Palace but Flo would not have any.
Thursday Up at seven, train to Peel eight. Belfast by Fenella landed two. Grand passage. Lunch, Dublin stout, tea, etc. Board at four, Peel 9.30, Douglas twelve. Bit cross, made it up in train.
In my [deleted] at [deleted] but [deleted]
Friday Last day. Douglas Head all morning till two. Emily with another, had some sentimental talk seemed to want to prolong it, got home at last near three, got pill [?], dinner, had to run for boat, good passage home, sat in salon an hour. Walked to station. Luggage not arrived till twenty to nine, tea at restaurant,
9.30 train, saw them in cab, tram to Grosvenor Street, Jackson till 11.30. Walked home, after perhaps the most blissful time I ever spent.
Account for Holiday at Isle of Man, August, 1890
Fred 1 0
Brandy and beer 1 0
Ham etc 1 6
Mother coal 2 0
Tram Central 1 0
Luggage 1 0
Tickets 1 7 0
Boat 1 0
Tram etc 1 0
Emily 5 0 Thursday night
Emily 5 0 Friday morning
Palace 2 6 Friday night
Head etc 8
Saturday drive 3 4
Beer 1 0
Teas etc 3 0
Beer etc 1 0
Flo 5 0 Saturday night
Sunday, teas etc 6
3 4 8
Tram 3 6
Car 2 5 Emily paid 2/6
Tea 2 0
Flo 5 0 Monday night
Tues 9 morning
Beer etc Borts 5 0 Fares and nt
Wednesday 5 0 Flo
Portraits 2 6
View etc 1 0
Photos 2 6
Drive 1 2
Dinner 3 0 Thursday
Kippers 2 0
Bill 1 1 0
Man 1 0
Boat 1 0
Tea 2 6
Salt Sta [?] 7
Br Tram 6
Cab 1 0
3 4 8
3 0 7
6 5 3
Arthur Gent 1 17 0
In hand 7 0 0
Hoyle 1 10 0
Fare 12/- Mush 4/6 B 3
Br 8 Porter 6
Dinner etc 4/6 P. Cds 6
Oysters 9 Glass Strap 1/6
Presents (Purse, scent) etc 1/8 Br etc 6
F Cliff 2/- Tram 1/- Br 1/-
Tax [?] and Tobac 1/- Dinner 2/6
Car to Ramsay 10/6
Sun Kirk 6B 1/- Post [?]etc 1/8
Mon BPH, Douglas 4d
Morning saw niggers
girls met 2 fellows I
went home alone to dinner
Tues. Castletown by car [?]
at 11.30 Fare 3/- Drinks 1/-
Toffy 6 Looked thro Castle Rushed [?]
Tea, missed train, walk
Balasalla, train to Douglas
home 5.30. Derby Castle
at night 1/- girls paid for themselves
Drinks 1/- they got 2 fellows. I
got vexed, told Flo off after that night, seemed staggered, took a car home, they went to buy in, I went out. F. to bed after supper. I went up. She loving and reconciled.
Wed. Douglas market, bought fish. Kippers 6d Drinks 8d Album 6. Man at pub attempted to be familiar [ ]ead. Sat down together [ ] switch back
Dinner at 2 in afternoon. Evening walked to Onchan and back. Emily wanted to go to palace. Florrie would not said sick of those places and rows.
Thursday up at 7. Train to Peel 8. Belfast. landed 2. back 4. Peel 9.30. Douglas 12. (Fenella) said I should ask the great question there. seemed either coy or averse. In my b r at night but correct.
Friday. Douglas Head 10.30
Emily with another, we alone all morning. Some sentimental talk, did not seem to want to go home to dinner, got home at last near 3. got bill, had dinner, had to run like mad for boat.
good passage home, sat in saloon an hour or more, fellow impertinently staring and leering all the way nearly. Walked to the station. Luggage not there till twenty to nine. tea at restaurant
9.30 home saw them in cab. tram to Grosvenor Street
with Jackson till 11.30. walked home. Ma in bed.
Florrie's father, William Barrington, was a draper in Salford. He was also a member of the police force. He was also difficult when drunk.
Postmark: 9th August, 1890
I hope you were not very tired last night when you reached home.
I have a bit of important news, so don't call to-morrow at church time, but meet me, the same 6 PM, at the corner as usual.
There was such a storm about quarter past twelve last night. Pa came home mad with drink, been with some friends from the lodge, most likely. He is very dangerous when like that, and took his revenge on the tin trunk, and asked where was we, the reason we had gone to bed without seeing him, there was nothing particular said about you, only that we should have let him know the right day we was coming home. I think that I only slept two hours last night. We was rather afraid. I feel glad to write. So there, you can wait till the storm is cleared. I can tell you the rest when I see you.
Willie went to the Isle of Man last Tuesday and we never saw him. However, Percy had the pleasure of keeping Pa quiet last night. Excuse the scribble, as I want to catch the 8 PM post.
Don't be afraid of meeting me to-morrow, as the bloom is leaving my nose.
The Tuesday-night tiff on the Isle of Man had, in fact, brought them closer to each other. This is a delightful letter. Furthermore, she is to meet Esther again: the beginnings of acceptance.
Postmark: 13th August, 1890
Tuesday, 12th August, 1890
I wonder how you are managing to struggle through this week: you said on Sunday it would make us think more of each other.
I can only say I think it miserable after the bliss we enjoyed together last week always in each other's society.
I hope it is having the same effect on you though it seems selfish to say so, but it is so comforting to know that the feeling is the same on both sides.
Well, life isn't all holidays so we must take it as it comes.
I hope you are settle down quietly to ordinary everyday work after that week of perfect pleasure in 'Beautiful Mona.' I shall long look back to it with feelings of the sweetest pleasure as one of the happiest periods of my existence, as I told you often there, and I hope if your feelings are similar to mine that you will think of it the same.
Such weeks as that we spent there are not too plentiful in life, so we cannot afford to forget the bright spots of sunshine which they leave; memory still recalls them and we feel as if we were there again.
The children have not come this week as it is one of their birthdays, so they are coming next. My friend who is married on Saturday has written for me to spend the evening of Thursday at his bride's father's, so I am going.
Percy was kind enough to get me a present at cost price to-day which turned out very cheap.
My Mother wishes you to come to tea to-morrow, so meet me at the tram office at four o' clock (not half past) as seven o' clock would be so late we should hardly have any time together.
I wish you to do your best to come, but if you cannot do so, I will be there again at seven. But try to come to please
Your ever faithful
Postmark: 16th August, 1890
You may be surprised to hear from me, I have quite a long story to tell you. I can't meet you on Sunday evening, I shall be taking Maud to Castleton, she is spending two weeks there. Aunt will be alone, as the rest is spending their holidays. I have wrote to-night telling her I should bring you, without asking, if you would like to come. However, don't disappoint me, but come. Castleton is a nice place, and Heywood the place your friend is. Go after tea, if you come, it's only a mile off. But I should like you to go, as she is my favourite Aunt. We catch the twenty to three o' clock train from Victoria Station, so meet me at a quarter past two o' clock at the Old Trinity Church in Chapel Street. If you get at the end of Blackfriars Street it's only a few minutes walk from there. Don't be late, as I am certain to be there. I hope it will be fine for you to-morrow and you enjoy yourself, only don't have a headache for Sunday. Let me know last thing to-morrow night, write I mean, if you intend to come. Excuse bad writing.
Yours very truly,
19th August, 1890
I am obliged to write and let you know that Percy has changed his mind about going to Belle Vue. They intend going a drive to Cousin Walter's on Thursday afternoon. Pa said he would look out for a conveyance. We intend having a jolly out if it will keep fine. I should be pleased if you can come and bring the family with you. But on no account come if you would rather not. Percy is bringing his Ma and Pa most likely, as the carriage will be large enough.
So I shall not see you to-morrow. I know you are sick of coming to Salford. I am sorry you came so much out of your way on Sunday evening, but I got to know something I was glad to hear. Perhaps it would be better if that young lady would make amends for what she had done, you may be happier with her, than with me. However, I should be sorry, if that was the case. This letter is getting too long and you may think I am writing silly.
Percy has come, so he won't let me post this letter. He wants to see you to-night, it would look better, and so on. Hoping you will see him,
Make arrangements with Percy.
Postmark: 24th August, 1890
August 23rd, 11 PM
Even though so late I sit down to send a line as I expect you will think I ought to make an appointment for to-morrow as nothing was arranged on Thursday evening. I hope you enjoyed the picnic. I did, I assure you. But I think if fine to-morrow we had better have a walk in the evening as of yore, so that we can have a chance of an uninterrupted chat together, we haven't had one lately, and I haven't had a chance yet of talking over the last letter with you, and of telling you how much pleasure it gave me. But I can say it when I see you.
I enjoyed your Father's company very much on Thursday and hope to have the pleasure of some more of the same kind of outs, but not on the same footing as I shall consider it my duty to pay; it is quite enough to have the pleasure of the drive without expense. But say nothing about me having mentioned this lest your Father is displeased.
I will meet you at the Hospital corner at 6 PM.
Postmark: 2nd September, 1890
The sports commence at 1 o' clock to-morrow, so will you try and come soon. I am writing and I don't really know whether you care on this occasion. However, I want to go. They are the first and certain to be nice. I am expecting you to come, of course. You would not disappointment me, I think, it would be the first time (as you often say to me). Our people will start early. You may not be able to come so soon, but I will wait for you and let the others go on. Only try not to be late, on account of missing something good. Don't neglect business for the sake of being early. They will leave one of the invitation cards. Make a big noise if the shop should be closed, so I can hear you. Aunt Emma came this afternoon and Ma was persuading her to come to-morrow, but can't. I am jolly glad, as I want to wear the slate. It has wet or fine on the programme. Excuse more till to-morrow.
After the glorious happiness of the holiday, there are misunderstandings and unhappiness. These two letters following overlapped, but the unhappiness led to a better understanding.
6th September, 1890
We are having such glorious weather and you are cruel enough to stay away. What has come across you. If you did not enjoy yourself last Wednesday, it was not my fault. We have very little to do with those friends as we saw, on the racecourse. Otherwise I should have been only too glad to introduce you. If you are going to be friends as I don't like surly people. In fact, I have made myself so foolishly miserable thinking about you, and perhaps you never gave me a thought.
I think I will go to church to-morrow evening. I can learn the truth there, as I am so tired of being deceived. I shall be pleased to see you to-morrow, but don't be late, 6 PM. We are going to Albert Park to-morrow afternoon, and the young lady I told you about. If you care to come be at our house at 2.30 please. If not, shall see you in the evening. Good bye Frank.
Yours truly Florrie.
Frank had known unhappiness, and was keen to find happiness in his life, and in marriage. He expresses his philosophy eloquently in this letter.
Postmark: 7th September, 1890
Saturday, 6th September, 1890
As the weather seems to have taken up it would be a pity for us to lose to-morrow, and what little there is left of this year's summer (as we have had so much of it).
But in spite of its gloom I have enjoyed it, as I have often told you, more than perhaps any summer I have yet known, and Life should be made the most of and no offers of happiness be allowed to slip. I have often thought how foolish we are not to take our opportunities of bliss when they do come in our path, as it is sometimes dangerous to neglect them lest they do not come again. They are like leaves in a stream, which only give us a moment to catch them, yet we are often careless about taking something we most desire.
You will perhaps wonder at all this sentiment, but you know you are taken that way sometimes, and you will no doubt understand it as well as I do.
I felt very grateful for your taking me to the Sports and enjoyed them much but 'of course you would have taken me if I had been anybody else.'
You once said I should be more open minded, but I don't think you could possibly say now that I am not confidential enough with you, as I conceal nothing from you, and think we have known each other long enough to have done with coyness and should have perfect trust and openness. I feel that if you will treat me so it may be much better for both of us.
So as not to let the fine weather all fade and the good Sundays all be missed I will meet you to-morrow if fine at the Hospital at half past two and spend the rest of the day somewhere in the country, at whatever place is most convenient or agreeable, it does not matter to me so that we get there, you know I think any place good enough if you are there and the less other people the better for my taste. Crowds are all very well at times but at other times two are quite enough.
I think I owed you a letter so have now cleared the debt with interest.
So lest there is nothing left to talk about to-morrow I had better ask you to remember
If wet I will come at six as usual.
8th September, 1890
Though so late and only just finished I having had crowds of people calling to-night on business and not a minute to myself, I feel I must write to tell you how glad I was you gave me that letter, I should have been sorry not to see it, as it proves that you care for me as I care for you. I am truly sorry dearest that you felt it so much last week, and that you thought I never thought of you I solemnly assure you I was thinking of you and longing to see you and yet I thought you were not anxious to see me.
This is what comes of these wretched misunderstandings of each other and our always being so liable to doubt our own happiness. I have honestly always been true in my thoughts and words to you, and have never deceived you, and it gives me untold pleasure to know you are so true to me.
I hope we understand each other better now and that neither of us will ever doubt again, and that the happiness we both desire will not be long delayed.
You are really and truly the only girl I have thought so much of as to love, Florrie, who has made herself even more dear to me by loving in return.
Trusting it will be fine to-morrow evening for a long walk, when I will tell you I did enjoy the sports and did not care a straw about you not giving me an introduction to the others. I would not give such a trifle a thought.
I hope you will never now doubt my sincerity and constancy
Postmark: 17th September, 1890
Excuse postcard, as I am in haste. Sorry you did not go to Francis and I did not know for certain whether you would come on account of that meeting. We shall be alone, as Ma told you, to-morrow, so if possible come to tea, about 3.30, and oblige
Yours sincerely Florrie.
Postmark: 21st September, 1890
Saturday 10 PM
I feel very unwell to-night with a cold but will do my best to come to-morrow. However if I could not I should not be able on a Sunday to let you know, so I will write to save you wondering if I am not well enough. But you know I shall be there if fit.
My gruel is ready so Good night beloved.
During the 1880s Frank had become involved in several societies: the 2nd Hulme Popular Building Society, the Brotherly Knot, and the St George's Club. During his courtship they became burdensome, as he no longer has so much spare time to commit to them.
30th September, 1890
My Dear Florrie,
I have been so busy to-day I could not possibly come up to-night. I did not have tea till nearly seven, and have had to write half a dozen letters, and have now to go out again. I told you if I ever did not come it would be through urgent business or illness.
I am getting heartily sick of such constant anxiety and having so much to attend to.
We are taking the Vestry Hall of the Hulme Town Hall for a Building Society [meeting] on October 20th and engaging a Glee Society to draw the people, and trying to get a Town Councillor to take the chair. So you may guess how much I have on hand, writing and re-writing. We had a meeting last night till 10.30.
And it being quarter end I am more than usually busy in the insurance business. And sometimes when we work the hardest we get the least success. But there is no money without work so it has to be done. I feel really upset with all the trouble to-night, but I will come up to-morrow wet or fine, though I fear it will be wet.
You said some things on Sunday night I have thought a good deal about. But I hope you did not mean it, as it is different to what I supposed, and to what you have said before; however, if you care to talk about it we can do so to-morrow as I like to know your real feelings.
I have explained all this dry business to you to show you how I am harassed; it may not interest you, but it will show you I am not giving empty excuses for my absence, and if my affairs are as interesting to you as yours are to me you may be glad to hear it and believe it is all true.
Trusting to have a few hours together to-morrow
Postmark: 1st October, 1890
Come to-morrow night, as Percy is having his party then.
I told them where we was going on New Year's Day, so he seems determined to have us there. I suppose plenty will be there, we can enjoy ourselves and have some fun. I would have much rather come to your house to-morrow night, then I could have played a song or two over. I suppose there will be a noise in the form of singing, so bring something I can play, or I may have one.
I hope you got home safe on Sunday night, you seemed rather strange before you went, or I could not quite understand what you said.
Will you come as early as you can to-morrow. If you have made any different arrangement in your letter in the morning. I shall know you are coming, excuse all these mistakes.
Waiting to hear from you.
I remain yours affectionate
[Contains perfumed card to support the Seedley Congregational Church new organ fund.]
The photographs of Frank and Florrie were presumably taken to make their engagement, though there is no record of when this took place.
Postmark: 15th October, 1890
14th October, 1890
My Dear Florrie,
Just a line to say I could not come to-night, being what is vulgarly called 'up to the neck in it.' Will tell you when I see you how I have been worked this week.
I caught the Pendleton car with a run on Sunday and got in town too late for my car home. But I was not as vexed as all that as I left my toothache in Salford which was something to be thankful for.
In future: if I am not away by ten I must turn my face towards Regent Road and walk home.
I hope that your toothache is better and that you are all right.
I will come to see you to-morrow early and will bring the proofs of the photos for you to see. I got them to-day.
I have to attend a committee to-night about that Dinner at the Blue Boar next Saturday week. I wish I could get out of it, that is, out of the committee, but they won't let me.
When are we going to be on a more, however it is no use, talking, it is in your own hands.
Till we meet
as of old
15th November, 1890
My Dear Florrie,
Just a line even at this late hour to say I will come early to-morrow as it is going to be fine so be ready and we can go to Worsley or somewhere a good walk in the country.
I waited till 1 PM for my Mother and went to bed at last feeling tired out, she stayed all night with the baby as it was very ill, I don't know how she stands it, but she always was anxious to soothe anyone in distress and especially children. I cannot do anything but respect her for it, though I think it foolish for her to do it at her age.
I am looking forward to seeing you for a many hour to-morrow and to having a lot of talk; we had better go to church at night as we arranged to do always, we shall have time in the afternoon and evening to say all the rest we require to.
I have not felt up to the mark at all to-day and have taken physic to-night so I had better post this and get to bed.
Trusting you got home safely, and longing for to-morrow.
With apologies for this wretched nervous scribble.
18th November, 1890
My Dear Florrie,
I have been so busy to-day I could not possibly come up and it is not walking out weather this, in fact it is only fit to stay at home or go to theatres. I have been very hard at it again this week. Longsight again this afternoon and had to go to see a gentleman to-night at nine o' clock to get a year's insurance from him. I stayed for a long talk and a glass at his house and have just got back.
Though I have had a very good week's business I felt low-spirited, perhaps owing to the weather, and you know another reason as well. You said you had no business to distract your thoughts, if you began to think too much, but I always am thinking of you notwithstanding the continual care and worry of making a living, and it is a pleasure to do so, and a relief from the struggle of life.
I shall look forward to a pleasant evening to-morrow and hope I shall be in first-rate spirits to enjoy it.
I am not sending a witty letter you see. I am too serious to be frivolous, which is all the better for you.
I hope you are writing to me to-night as it is such a pleasure to me to hear from you. I shall look out in the morning so with dearest love
27th November, 1890
My Dear Florrie,
I have only just got back from Didsbury and there is no fire so you can imagine it is cold writing. If I could have got away earlier I would have come up to-night though you hinted you would be busy. I would much rather have done so, but they would not let us come away. Mrs Atkinson again asked me most cordially to take you down for an afternoon, I am sure you would enjoy it, she makes us so very welcome. My Mother is always delighted to go there and would go though the weather was so severe it was so intensely cold going I felt colder even than on Wednesday night. We got lost trying to find the house and lost half an hour dodging about.
Well now I hope you don't think I did not want to come, if you ask my Mother she could tell you different. I was very much disappointed but she would have had to come home alone through the snow if I had insisted on coming away as I know you will know how awkwardly I was placed.
However you are to go with us next time so you will see for yourself.
I want you to meet me at six to-morrow evening at Trafalgar to see 'Sweet Lavender', I hear it is grand, so don't be late.
Excuse scrawl I'm so cold and Believe me dearest
7th November, 1890
My Dear Florrie,
We did not arrange whether to meet if wet to-morrow, so I will conclude you will come even if wet. Don't put anything on you care for as you will have some distance to walk from home to City Road and we shall not be seen in a crowded room packed in a seat. I do hope it will be fine it will be so much pleasanter to go home after the Concert.
I hope you did not take cold last night and that you were home in good time and all went off agreeably.
You must not expect me to be dressed to-morrow, I may not even have time to go home to wash but I don't care if you don't, other people's opinions are of no matter to me if you are content.
I have been in the habit of coming to see you so much lately that it feels quite strange to-night not coming.
I wonder if you have written to me to-night and whether I shall have the pleasure of a letter from you in the morning. I shall be very pleased if I have but I hardly expect it, it doesn't do to expect too much.
I am going to take advantage of being at home to-night by going to bed early so as to take care of my constitution, besides I feel rather like a fish out of water somehow so it may be a good place. I feel rather nervous so you may notice some shakiness in my writing but I shall feel better to-morrow night I have no doubt.
I have nothing else to write about so till then
Dearest believe me
Postmark: 13th November, 1890
I was pleased you let me know that you would be busy to-night. It was better than disappointing me. It's a long time since I wrote and it takes me some time to consider what to put for fear of doing wrong. So the least said, the soonest mended, but that is not what I wanted to say. I have been wondering what you have been doing to-night. Of course, you will tell me to-morrow. If there is no business, come soon. I feel ashamed to write because I know you will think I can't rest a day without thinking of you.
Excuse this untidy note from Yours affectionate
Postmark: 26th November, 1890
25th November, 1890
I just wish to write a few lines to you. Did you get wet on Sunday night? I hope not.
We have been very busy with the paperhanger to-day, so I am glad you were not able to come down, as we were very upset and untidy, especially me, as I always wish to look very nice when you come, of course.
I believe the river Irwell overflowed on Sunday. Susie said it just looked like the sea. I wish I had known, as I always like to see it.
What a beautiful night it has been, I should have enjoyed a walk, but there is always some disappointment.
Excuse mistakes, as I feel rather tired to write well, hard work does not agree with me very much. I won't say any more as I shan't have anything left to say to-morrow night; hoping it will soon be here.
Postmark: 3rd December, 1890
Out too late last night to write. Will tell you to-night.
I was looking for you yesterday in town, at four o' clock, but was disappointed. I went in Market Street, Cannon Street and Oldham Street so thought you were not in view.
Expect me just after tea.
A more cheerful letter after the tribulations of the autumn.
5th December, 1890
My Dear Florrie,
I have thought a great deal about last night. I lay awake from five till eight this morning, so then slept till ten to make up for it as it is a leisure day.
I found a shop open on the way home so turned in to have some more supper, so I had some fish and chips at twelve there; when I got home they had left me some roast pork and onions on a plate on the oven so I had that too. I was desperately hungry last night. I never knew laughter would make anyone eat like that.
I feel sorry I came in with you last night; of course it is unreasonable to suppose your parents want to be annoyed with our late hours. In future, I will only see you to the door if we miss the cars, or else we must stop theatre going, which will be a disappointment. It is a nuisance being so far apart. When I come late in the evening it is bed time before we have sat down almost, and when we go out we get in a row for being late.
I ought not to have stayed in town for supper I know, but I felt so hungry ('I had got a pain in my stomach'). However I shall know better in future, as I said before - I expect you would get it when I was gone, and am very sorry as I alone was to blame. It seems so seldom to meet only on Sunday and Wednesday and yet circumstances seem to be against us seeing each other oftener. I feel miserable at the tail end of the week when the rush of business is over, if I am not seeing you, and yet these annoyances are sickening, but 'do you know' people in love are always selfish and sometimes foolish and like to think of no one but themselves. It is all 'I and you' as you said in your last letter; in fact, those two words are the world just them and we consider nothing else. I know you like me to come home with you and to even stay there, at least I hope so, but I would rather you had told me it would be better for me to leave you outside as your father would not like it, then it would have saved your father hearing me come in at that hour of the night. I should have liked it from you and could not have blamed you for telling me: as I have so often said there ought to be no restraint or disguise between us; we should then get on a lot better and there would be less annoyance and more trust and confidence. I have reposed every confidence in you. Why don't you do the same? If you know anything I have deceived you in tell me, and if there is anything I will explain it.
I should like to have seen you this afternoon but perhaps things had better calm down. If you care to drop a line I am anxious to hear from the little girl who is the pride and joy of
G.F. Gent & S. Gent
Send Best Wishes for A Happy Christmas
Florrie consistently spells her sister's name as 'Francis'.
Postmark: 20th December, 1890
20th December, 1890
I would like you to come to-morrow afternoon and we will go and spend the day at Francis's, if it will be agreeable to you, but don't get the same thoughts as last Sunday, it makes me think you are getting tired of coming. No doubt you are, after Thursday night.
There always seems something to prevent me meeting you at the right time. I think there must, because I always hurry. So try not to be vexed.
We are having it bitter cold. I was thinking of you, having to face it. We can stay in to-morrow, and have a few songs, hymns I mean. Come soon, won't you, then you won't be late home, and I have lots to say to you. We had the lamp in the shop and it set some things on fire. And I have had an Uncle looking at those photos. He said yours was a bright looking young man, but the same cry about mine being too dark. That is, with knowing me to be rather light.
I reckon I am very busy to-night, but I suppose you won't be kind enough to write to me.
Excuse bad writing.
Postmark: 23rd December, 1890
Monday, 10 PM
My Dear Flo,
I got home nicely last night and found it quite bright and clear up here, a grand, sparkling, frosty moonlight night. I did not feel better though till this morning.
I have been twice to-day for a plumber and brought him with me to-night, a pipe burst, so we got the water turned off next door. He hammered the pipe up and is coming in the morning to make it safe and right for us. I am glad, and hope we shall get it made safe. Have you read in the paper of the people being killed in the explosions?
Well, now I am writing I can't say if I can come to-morrow night, if I can I shall you know, I don't know whether your folks will be sick of company. But at Christmas time I hope we shall have extra license to meet oftener and enjoy ourselves.
I have heard no more from my Brothers so don't know yet what they are going to do. He is sure to let us know to-morrow and then I shall be able to make my own arrangements.
I did enjoy myself on Sunday and am glad I came up, though I stopped you from going to church. Perhaps you were better in the house out of the fog.
Well if you don't see me you will know I am too busy to come, as I may possibly have to be at it late to finish on Wednesday.
With fondest love
I am dearest
Postmark: 28th December, 1890
27th December, 1890 10 PM
My Dear Florrie,
I shall be so busy next week that I shall have to call on Mr Pettitt to-morrow on business as I could not see him next week either Monday or Tuesday nights, so must therefore see him to-morrow.
My Mother seems very tired after the bustle of Christmas, so she wants a few days quiet and rest when I trust she will be quite set up again.
I would like to have had a little stir myself and to have had some of you down, but you know I have often told you how my Mother dislikes such bustle as these parties so I have to deny myself many little pleasures I should like. I cannot wonder at her time of life and I know you will not. If we live to that age we shall like quiet ourselves. Never mind, the day will come, you know, when we shall be able to please ourselves I hope.
I refused an invitation to-day to spend New Year's Day, on account of being with you, anywhere, but you must be there.
To-night I received the enclosed from Mrs Atkinson's nephew, the red-faced young fellow we saw at Sale Gardens, son of the people on the bicycles, to spend it with them. I leave it to you whether you accept or whether you prefer to go to Mr W.'s. Don't say I said so to them or they might be vexed. I only want you to please yourself. But I must write to accept or decline. Either of them will be vexed if we don't go, so you must decide it. I have no doubt we should enjoy it at either place.
You can tell me to-morrow when we meet at six. I will call for you to go to church.
Believe me, dearest, till then
[on back of envelope: Mother sends many thanks to your Mother.]