An altercation on horseback

D3580/C156: Rowdale, 1811

[To John Longsdon]

Harriet Needham's letter to John Longsdon

I write to you, I scarcely know why, but – there seems to me some shyness – some inexplicable mystery at Longdon, which it is impossible for me to develop – I went to Buxton under a most serious & trying indisposition –Providencefavor’d my exertions and I return’d home considerably amended – yet not so much so, as to make me feel entirely self-dependent. Last Friday however, was the first notice of any kind I rec’d from your family and that was from your Bro – James, driving near. This day Miss Longden & myself met your Father on our return from Bakewell – he had not call’d here – therefore I conclude he had purposely avoided doing so – he rode on the off-side our Horses, but our servant knowing him instinctively stop’d the Horse I was then upon – when Mr L. said “ah! Miss Hannah is it you? How do you do?”

“not very well” was my reply – as indeed my looks ward testify –

“who is that young lady on the single horse before you?”

“Miss Longden”, I told him – on which he galloped to overtake & speak to her – during the very short minutes converse we had, I could not help saying some thing about ingratitude, for tho I daresay you are unacquainted with it – report reach’d us at Buxton that it was Mr L. of Longdon who had so suddenly left this world – I – ill as I was made a great effort to find out the real truth – and the discovery as well as the anxiety previously – I mean the effect each had upon our but most particularly on my feelings, were known to your Father by means of a letter I had written to Mrs L. one day the week before last when very severe illness kept me in bed nearly the whole day –

 indeed I am so much weakened in health & spirits by some untoward events which I discover’d just before I went to Buxton – and which the unkind – unfriendly behaviour of the family in the world, which I had treasured with my all of earthly comfort in that I am – I hope I am perfectly resign’d to leave this terrestrial globe – trusting, as I firmly do, in another all mistakes will be done away – I never intentionally err’d, nor at this moment am I conscious of the smallest deviation from the path of rectitude – yet when I spoke of the word ingratitude to Mr L. he set spurs to his Horse & rode quickly away – saying “it was the first time he had ever been accused of ingratitude” – as if the not being told of our faults were a presumptive proof that we do not possess any – pardon a very hurried scrawl the post waits for it – with sincerest wishes for your health & happiness I am, Dr Sir Yours truly

[Harriet Needham]


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