Week 07 – Love
Anne Reid –
- older sister of my 2xgreat grandfather Alexander Reid
- Born 01 JUN 1818 (Edinburgh Midlothian Scotland)
- Lived in Tasmania from 1823 to 1835.
- Married Thomas Scott (35), (Assistant Surveyor-General) – 21 DEC 1835 – at just 17.
- Returned to Scotland 02 MAR 1836, arriving Scotland on 12 JUL 1836.
- Had three (probably four) children in the next 10 years.
- Died 28 APR 1846 at just 28 years old.
The following is certainly not meant to be a serious piece!
Anne – in the style of Emma (Jane Austen)
Sitting curled up in a chair by the window, I was reading Emma once more (mama’s tutor had given it to her long ago). It was another delightfully sunny day at Richmond Hill. The gentle breeze, off the river, fluttered the curtains. Papa entered the drawing room. My feet slipped to the floor… what he said next shocked me
Three weeks have passed since my father told me that I was to marry Mr Scott, and I had been anything but agreeable. Mama, vexed with all the preparations for a wedding at such short notice, had been encumbered by my selfish attitude. I was preoccupied in my own melancholy. I could not conquer my distress.
My thoughts dwelt on my father, my dear papa; who had betrayed me. He had given me no choice, no consultation. I avoided any discourse with him, aloof in his presence. I was aware of my perverse heart but chose to remain selfishly indulgent.
Not even the seduction of an expedition to Longford, to have a gown fashioned, could alter my contrary disposition.1 I refused to partake in any of the preparations, except briefly, when mama looked so doleful that I relinquished my peevishness to assist. I recognised my wretched attitude but remained obstinate.
The day of the ceremony has come. As my mother and sisters assist me with my gown, arrange my hair, and dress me with mother’s cherished jewels, all the way from Scotland, I cannot summon one scrap of cheerfulness. Even when fully attired in my elegant creation, together with exquisite shoes – custom-made by the shoemaker in Hobart Town – and I examine my image in a looking glass, I still cannot overcome my wretchedness.2
My father takes my arm and we walk from my chamber – mine no more. It has always been irksome to share with my younger sisters. But now… how many more nights I long to listen to their childish prattle!
We cover the short distance to the drawing room. The door opens; I gasp! I have to allow that what had been a quite ordinary drawing room is transformed into a ‘Galerie des Fleurs’! An extravagance of ivy falls from the ceiling, worked with fretted roses. Large jardinière, bursting with foxgloves, Canterbury bells, hollyhocks, hydrangea and eucalyptus branches, from mama’s extraordinary garden, occupy the room. Smaller urns, filled with lavender, sweet peas and lacy ferns, on every ledge or small table, infuse the room with a wonderful perfume. Our plain drawing room has been transported into a flourishing paradise. Mama has certainly employed every one of her artful talents.
It is, in that instant, that I discern the enormity of this day, the importance of the ceremony to come. But more than that, in that moment, I recognise the devotion and certain adoration I have for my mama and, reluctantly, for my papa. More significantly, I understand how they love and support me. They have nurtured me, given me the best of educations possible, and the most splendid life. Papa has disciplined me, but always consistently and reasonably.
If my parents consider that a marriage to Mr Scott is a fitting and suitable match then who am I to disagree?
Papa gives my hand to him. Is that a tear in papa’s eye? This unknown hand envelops mine firmly, yet softly. I am filled with strength and hope. I turn towards the man I will marry, looking up to graciousness and compassion. My heart soars perceptibly. My despairing soul is mending.
“We gather in the presence of God to give thanks for the gift of marriage … “
“I, Anne Reid, take thee, Thomas Scott …”
As I speak those words, I realise the change it means to my life. Yesterday, I was an unconcerned, single girl. Today, I am a married woman with all the responsibilities that represents.
“This ring I give thee …”
The Kiss … a raised face; fleetingly, gently, lips on my cheek. The papers are sealed.
He folds my arm through his with a masterful air and I am bewildered by his engaging smile. We walk together towards the door. I am hardly aware of anyone else in the room; although my dearest, genteel mama’s perturbed expression catches my eye.
In the dining room, a grand repast has been laid out. I glance toward the head of the table, my papa’s usual seat and quietly chuckle. My favourite, but formidable, old grandmama is settled there. I can hear her Scottish brogue as she converses with my Uncle Hugh and Aunt Jane; they listen. I can hardly believe they have journeyed so far from Hobart Town to be here
I hardly eat, I hardly speak. A short time passes, or so it seems.
My husband – Thomas – leans toward me and whispers, “You should say your farewells. We must quit this place forthwith. My carriage awaits.”
I rise from my seat. I must reassure and make peace with mama before I leave.
BACKGROUND TO THIS PIECE
I wrote this piece whilst studying Writing the Family Saga. It is a fiction-based-in-fact piece. It was quite experimental, using a mixture of tenses, plus language to suit a specific era, in this case, late-Georgian. Stylistically, I attempted to write using ‘Austenish’ language.
Because of this, I wanted my Anne to be a Jane Austen fan. It is quite possible that she was. Her mother was well-educated in Scotland by the famous Grammarian, Lindley Murray (so folklore says). 3 I’m sure he would have let his charges read the newly published works ‘By A Lady’!4 Her mother Annabella had also received a sound practical education, so a beautiful garden would not have been out of the question at Richmond Hill.5
I would dearly have loved to have placed the setting in the Sidmouth Auld Kirk (land donated and partly funded by James Reid), but it wasn’t completed till several years after Ann’s marriage.6 Her marriage to Mr Thomas Scott was an expedient match for James Reid Esq.7 Thomas was nearly twenty years older than Anne, but he was the Assistant Surveyor-General of Van Diemen’s Land so a prominent gentleman.8
- ‘To The Ladies, Advertising’, Launceston Advertiser (Tas.: 1829 – 1846), 24 July, 1834, p. 2., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article84776499, accessed 21 Jul 2017.
- ‘Matthew Muir [from Edinburgh], Boot and shoemaker, Liverpool Street, Hobart, Advertising’, Colonial Times (Hobart, Tas.: 1828 – 1857), 9 September, 1834, p. 3., http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8647806, accessed 18 Jul 2017.
- From Edinburgh to Hobart Town – The Young and Murray Families, ‘The Murray Clan’, http://www.cocker.id.au/murray/index.php, accessed 21 Jul 2017.
- Austen.com, ‘The Works of Jane Austen’, http://www.austen.com/novels.htm, accessed 21 Jul, 2017.
- From Edinburgh to Hobart Town – The Young and Murray Families, ‘The Murray Clan’.
- West Tamar Presbyterian Church, ‘History of the Auld Kirk’, http://westtamarpresbyterianchurch.org.au/history , accessed 20 July 2017.
- Marriage certificate of Ann Reed[Reid] and Thomas Scott, married 21 December 1835, Tasmanian Marriages 1803-1899, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office RGD2988, p.109.
- Australian Dictionary of Biography, ‘Scott, Thomas 1800-1855’ http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/scott-thomas-2643, accessed 18 Jul 2017.