dancing, flirting, in a cloud of gauze. They are not very 
distinct it is true. For life then was not the life of Charlotte 
and Louisa. It was the life of families, of groups. It was a 
web, a net, spreading wide and enmeshing every sort of 
cousin and dependant, and old retainer. Aunts—Aunt 
Caledon, Aunt Mexborough—grandmothers—Granny 
Stuart, Granny Hardwicke—cluster in a kind of chorus, 
and rejoice and sorrow and eat Christmas dinner together, 
and grow very old and remain very upright, and sit in 
hooded chairs cutting flowers, it seems, out of coloured 
paper. Charlotte married Canning and went to India;
Louisa married Lord Waterford and went to Ireland. 
Then the letters begin to cross vast spaces in slow sailing ships 
and everything becomes still more protracted and verbose, 
and there seems no end to the space and the leisure of 
those early nineteenth century days, and faiths are lost and 
the life of Hedley Vicars revives them; aunts catch cold 
but recover; cousins marry; there is the Irish famine 
and the Indian Mutiny, and both sisters remain, to their 
great, but silent grief, for in those days there were things
that women hid like pearls in their breasts, without 
children to come after them. Louisa, dumped down 
in Ireland with Lord Waterford at the hunt all day, was 
often very lonely; but she stuck to her post, visited 
the poor, spoke words of comfort (‘I am sorry indeed to 
hear of Anthony Thompson's loss of mind, or rather of 
memory; if, however, he can understand sufficiently to 
trust solely in our Saviour, he has enough’) and sketched 
and sketched. Thousands of notebooks were filled 
with pen and ink drawings of an evening, and then 
the carpenter stretched sheets for her and she designed 
frescoes for schoolrooms, had live sheep into her bedroom, 
draped gamekeepers in blankets, painted Holy Families 
in abundance, until the great Watts exclaimed that here 
was Titian's peer and Raphael's master! At that Lady 
Waterford laughed (she had a generous, benignant sense