Letter from Emma Hubbard to her cousin, Arthur Phelps.  Transcribed from a scan of the original in July 2012 by Penelope Forrest, born Phelps, great granddaughter of Arthur.


                                                Market Bosworth           Feby 18th  [1856]

My dearest Arthur,

          Don't you like the look of the old address at the top? & don't I like being able to put it there again, that's as I am so happy here, (I don't mean that it is the only place that makes me so - but that it does its share) so much happier than I can tell you, with every chance of becoming unbearably spoilt & selfish.  We shall have been at home a month tomorrow.  We went to Paris for a week which was rather a spirited proceeding, we consider, as we had so short a time, & enjoyed ourselves thoroughly: leaving all responsibilities & respectabilities behind us, & living just as it happened - spending the whole day walking about, eating when we were hungry & drinking when we were thirsty at the nearest Restaurant or Café - sometimes ordering our dinner with the utmost calmness from the carte without having the faintest notion of what would appear - from minced mouse to stewed rhinoceros - & at other times throwing ourselves humbly on the compassion of the waiters.  We went & returned via Newhaven & Dieppe - after weighing our purses against our interiors, though I cannot say that it was the heaviness of the former that caused them to win.

          What a hard life a doctor's is!  I did not half know how hard till I came here.  You are very right in your opinion that I was meant to be married - at least so John thinks - but I did not think I should be for all that.  Can you fancy me here at all?  Ordering dinner, receiving callers, writing pretty notes, cutting out shirt collars, carpentry & locksmithing, arranging furniture &c &c &c?  If you can it is very clever of you.  John has no notion of being vexed or impatient, whatever I do - or leave undone - so I hope I may in time become a very tolerable wife.  I wish you could see what a pretty drawing room we have 22 yd by 19.  It is over the dining room, which I dare say you remember, with a much more extended view over just the quiet cow-feeding home scenery I love.  Inside it is panneled (sic) pink with white mouldings, dark green curtains, furniture walnut with dark green Utrecht velvet & a green & grey carpet.  I don't know such a harmonious pretty room anywhere.  The piano - a Broadwood's square in light mahogany - is the only discordant piece of colour & it is so sweet-toned one would forgive it for any inharmony of exterior.  Then there are all sorts of pretty things about the room & almost everything you see is a gift from some one or other.  I would give a great deal to have you in it dear old boy at this present.  When I have done writing to you, May & I are going to put up another gift which came on Saty from Lord Howe, an oval mirror, with a small patterned frame & green enamel about it.  Won't it look pretty on the pale pink walls?  It came, with a great easy chair from Lady Howe.  She had called here a week before, & I have no doubt looked out for what we had not got.  Their daughter, Lady Emily Curzon, is just married to a Coll Kingscote.

          The Copes are all well.  It is so pleasant to be able to walk over to Osbaston again.  I never felt a bit at home at Kensington.  Here, I do thoroughly.  My only fear is that we are too happy - that it is out of the conditions of human life to go on so.  Well, it is very silly to look forward, & we are very thankful for the present. 

          The peace of Bosworth has been a little disturbed by some cheese stealing at Mr Bucknill's & the discovery that one of the most despicable gangs of burglars at Birmingham, numbering some 12 or 14, is called "the Bosworth Gang" & came almost exclusively from here.  So they know their way about here pretty well.  We have nothing to steal so don't disturb ourselves, but I should be glad if some of them were caught, I confess.

          Bassy is at last settled I hope for some time to come, & in a line which does allow some exercise, though of a rather cramped description, to his artistic powers.  Mr Oliphant, the gentleman who has the order for the painted window to Papa's memory (windows I should say - for besides the S.E. one, all the clerestory windows are to be partially stained) came to dine with us one day & was so struck with B & his drawings that he asked him to come to him - & I think he has been working there for 5 weeks.  I had a letter of 8 pages from him the other day - a happier & more lighthearted letter than I have had from him for a very long time.  I do hope he may be able to marry "Bess" this year.1  She is really a very particularly nice Bess & suits him admirably usually. 

          You did not tell me you had taken to smoking.  I am very glad it is put a stop to again.  B & Mr Oliphant smoke much more than they ought.  Mrs O is the authoress of Zaidu, The Quiet Heart, Katie Stewart, Mrs Margaret Maitland & a good many other very pretty books.  I think I like the Fagans.  He is rather a "tyrannious tyke" as an old Scotch poet has it, but he is an earnest zealous man & an Irishman which makes one excuse much.

          I have been in a continual state of expectation since we left Paris of having our photographs come after us but they have not appeared yet & we feel rather anxious about them as we - or rather I - unwarily paid for them.  The man, Meyer, has a brother in London, whom Mamma is worrying about them, as they were to be transmitted to him.  I fancy I am looking considerably better now than I did then.  I shall be so glad to see yours dear Stump when your moustache is to your own satisfaction.  John's hair is not at all like the Phelps Aunt's & is, I am sorry to say, turning grey.  It is dark chestnut & in crisp waves 2 almost angular - unlike any others I know.  One of the very best things I ever saw was John in a barber's shop at Dieppe whither he went on landing on the Saturday to be shaved.  That operation being successfully performed, the barber attacked his hair, & brushed away at it lustily, the hair starting almost straight up after each stroke of the brush, till the little barber was fairly beaten.  Then followed an impressive little pantomime - the barber standing in an attitude of deep thought for a moment looking at the hair, then, as if a brilliant idea had insinuated itself underneath his sleek head of hair, rushing to a shelf and producing a great pot of pomatum & sticking his fingers in ready to begin.  Then came John's turn, who started up with the utmost horror & gestures of denial & went to the basin & made it all right with a liberal application of cold water, to the astonishment of the man & the intense amusement of a girl of about 14 behind. - Such a pretty demure little maiden, nursing an Egyptian mummy of a swathed up babe.  She tried to keep grave & decorous for a long time but she gave in at last.

          Mary came with me to stay a few weeks & settle me here & I hardly know what I should have done without her.  I am almost quite unsettled about permanent servants but I am in hopes of having our nice old respectable Hannah come in June, as cook.  I should be very glad indeed to have her for a mistress has not a quarter the power over the right conduct of a household that the head of the kitchen has. 

          Poor Tom Oldacres died suddenly a few months ago.  He had been going on very well lately near Nuneaton I believe.  Buckwith is Mr H's ex-partner & does not practise. The other doctor here - by name David Pestall Thomas - has not much practice.  Mr H has about as much as he can do, but it is a very laborious practice - it extends over so many miles & the proportion of paying patients is so small that it needs a man to be in the height of his health & energy to make it at all worth having.

          Goodbye dear.  Your loving sister                Emma Hubbard


1. Sebastian Evans ("Bassy") married Elizabeth Goldney in April 1858

2. Emma illustrates the crisp waves