Letters to My Governess


! A Birch

Dear Miss Carlisle,

I was so happy to hear that you have returned to England after all this time. I hope your sojourn in India was both enjoyable and fruitful. There are many who have served the Empire there who have returned with nothing but praise on their lips of your various successes there. I cannot say that I am at all surprised.

I suppose you heard that my husband, Sir John Ogilvy, died last September last and I am now back at Darnley House. You may not have heard that my dear Mama finally succumbed to her various ailments and was buried back in May.

Given our former relationship I am hesitant to be over familiar, but I do hope you might consider a short visit here to renew our acquaintance and talk over old times.

Yours Amelia, Lady Ogilvy, née Darnley,
Darnley House, October 1891


Dear Lady Ogilvy,

How nice that you remember me, and without rancour it would seem. Yes I was so sorry to hear of your late husband’s misfortune and that of your mother, Lady Darnley. I offer my sincere condolences for them both.

As for my sojourn in India, as you put it, I must own it was a success. It is gratifying that my reputation has preceded me. However, I must take issue with the suggestion that my work is in any way enjoyable, for that suggests frivolity rather than noble duty, which is at the heart of my vocation.

Your invitation for a visit to Darnley does rather take me by surprise. You were always so reluctant to accept my good offices and it was only as you approached your nuptials did we arrive at any measure of mutual understanding.

However, if you are sincere in your offer I would be happy to consider it.

Yours curiously,

Jane Carlisle, Governess
Clifton, October 1891


Dear Miss Carlisle,

I had hoped that you would remember me more kindly, but then again I suppose I have no right to expect such. As a young woman I know I was a trial to both you and Mama and I do not believe that I have ever thanked you properly for ‘your good offices’ as you term them.

I can only confess that not only did I come late in my appreciation of your talents, but even after I learned due respect of your methods and even to welcome them after a fashion, I was perhaps a little ungracious and also a little shy about our time together. Rest assured, I am far more mature and measured these days, although I must admit not as much as I should hope.

Please do consent to visit Darnley.

Yours, Amelia Ogilvy.

Darnley, October 1891


Dear Lady Ogilvy,

Or should I perhaps address you as Miss Amelia, as I once did?

I am happy to have you say that you so unreservedly appreciate our time together and it is most gratifying that you have become such a responsible and perfect young woman. With this in mind how could I not accept your invitation to renew our acquaintance?

Yours Jane Carlisle,

Clifton, November 1891


Dear Miss Carlisle,

Please, do call me Amelia when we meet, I feel that you are an old friend.

I am so happy that you have consented to visit; although now that you have I must confess I am sudden all of a flutter since I can do nothing but remember those past times at Darnley.

Yesterday, the weather being clement, I took walk towards Blue Bell Woods and happenstance took me past that stand of birch trees alongside the very public Church Lane. I could not but shudder and I think that I may not have been this way since that last time under your supervision.

Moved by these memories I also went see if that bucket was in its old place, it was. Above it the old harness strap, which hangs there still.

Yours Amelia Ogilvy,
Darnley, November 1891


Dear Amelia,

I am so glad that you are moved by the memories. My methods were ever reliant on forging such recollections, otherwise how can one learn?

I recall I had to be most firm with you that first time, as you went to your late Mama with objections and she almost yielded to your whims. You made such a fuss of being led out in only your shift to collect the necessary. Though, not as much fuss as you made once the rods were made. I warned you then that any further such comedies would result in another promenade to Church Lane, with shift hem pinned to the waist. You soon complied.

I look forward to our visit.

Yours Jane Carlisle,
Clifton, November 1891


Dear Miss Carlisle,

You remember it well and how I now thank the Lord above that Mama held strong for I do not believe I would be the woman I am without your guiding hand. I do recall that your threat to pin my hem to the waist was in fact carried out on more than one occasion, I shudder to recall. It is a shame I will never live down, nor should I.

I do recall that hairbrush, I have it still. It is in my writing desk drawer with the Scotch strap you had occasion to use. The cane hangs in the wardrobe. Although it is the birch rod I learned to rue the most.

I read in your excellent book, How to Train a Lady, “That there is nothing so good for a girl as a thorough birching on the completely bare behind.” I know this to be true even though sometimes I could not sit down for days afterwards. I also agree with the sentiments you expressed about a girl never being too old.

Yours humbly, Amelia,
Darnley, November 1891

To be continued

8 Responses to “Letters to My Governess”

  1. Love this exchange!!!

  2. Looks interesting

  3. 4 bklynny0856

    Sounds like the renewal of a beautiful friendship.

  4. I’m really looking forward to the next instalment of this. My gran & great gran were both governesses & I heard some great tales from my gran about those days..

  5. I first misread the title of your post as “Letters to my Governor: and thought it would be a political post:) These letters are much more fun! Can’t wait to read about their meeting.


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