The Wedding of Margaret Baynes and Gother Mann, 1845
An entertaining letter from a collection in the Bodleian transcribed by Julia de Lacy Mann, the working copies of which are held in the Library. It describes in great detail the Guernsey wedding of Margaret Baynes, whose letters from Trinidad have recently been published.
Louisa Routh to her mother, at De Beauvoir, Rohais, Guernsey, September 22, 1845.
G'dmamma was in great spirits until Aunt Dobrée came in to urge her to give Gother a present; she then became quite grumpy, for she has set her face quite against the marriage; she thinks the parties too young and he not sufficiently rich, I suppose. However at last she gave eight pounds and said they were to buy just what they pleased and not let her know any more about it.
Those Baynes are the most disagreeable people to deal with, they think only of their own pleasure without consulting anyone else’s convenience. On Saturday Mrs B. called on Aunt Mann to say she was so nervous if the wedding was delayed so long she would fret herself into a fit of illness. She looked so excited and wretched that Aunt Mann gave in, and it was arranged that it should take place Wednesday. You may imagine the hurry everything had to be bought and made and it was three o’clock before it was settled, so nothing hardly could be done yesterday. Then there were so many changes as to where the ceremony should take place. St Peter’s was the first proposed, but the inclement weather puts that out of the question, and the Dean being taken with a disobliging fit and refusing to sanction its being performed at St James’, it is at last decided that Mr Hawtrey performs the ceremony at the Town Church at nine o’clock in the morning – a most inconvenient time but they will not listen to reason. The most provoking part is that Mrs B. recovered her serenity immediately and has been as bright as a bee, while poor Aunt Mann is worried to death. Gother looks quietly happy, the bride herself is as pleased as Punch and in madcap spirits; Annie looks as though she does not know whether to laugh or cry, I believe she does both by turns. I suspect the same idea has struck her which gives us quite an uncomfortable feeling. You see they have not heard from James for nearly six months, & it does look like as if the Baynes feared any bad news from or of him might put off the wedding, and it really seems as though the Baynes rushed to secure Gother before the post comes in. However perhaps that idea has not entered their heads, but it does look like it. [“Wedding presents” not transcribed.] Dear me, but it seems an awful thing to contemplate. However Gdmama says, What! Be sure she is going to be united to the man she loves. Oh my! I don’t see that, then .....
Well, all the fusses and bothers are at an end and everything has gone off beautifully. We were up by six, it was no small pleasure to see the sun shining brightly for we have had a good deal of rain for the past week. There was just a little confusion about the carriages. Henry had ordered one for us and Aunt Dobrée countermandered it that we might go with the honourable Martha who had honoured us with a seat or the offer of one and then disappeared. At last we set off, six in a carriage, Emilia, Julia, Harriet, Mary H., Ellen and I. We had such fun going down. We thought we were the first, however Gother and his father, Henry and one or two more had already arrived. The church was crowded already, but a space was left for us to march up the aisle. We sat down on chairs a little distance from the table. We were there full ten minutes, at last however the procession appeared & very pretty it was.
The bride was led by Dr. Hutches[s]on, and the eight bridesmaids filed off to the left while the groomsmen went to the right. Mr Hawtrey read the service in his own peculiarly solemn manner, and I must say I think that in particular the Americans have improved on our service by shortening that most awful ceremony. Gother was ashy pale at first, the bride was much agitated and all the bridesmaids trembled and some shed tears and really Mr Hawtrey’s manner was so awfully impressive I could have shouted out “Do go on”. However after a while they all got better and Gother was not in the least awkward and looked very handsome. Uncle Mann was the first to kiss the bride, and then the bridegroom gave her such an affectionate kiss and whispered something, I wish I knew what he said, but perhaps it was only “You darling” or something like that. They then hurried to the vestry and we all followed with our congratulations. We had such fun going home, the groomsmen packed all into one carriage and went just before us and the street was lined with spectators. The bride & some of her bridesmaids went to De Beauvoir to see Gdmama.
They did not manage the breakfast very well as to places .... Gother and Margaret sat at the top just behind the cake, and Aunt Martha next to Gother, and Uncle Mann on the other side next to Margaret, the bridesmaids I think should have come next with their gentlemen, however this they could not manage. For a long time nothing was heard but the clatter of knives and forks, for the bridal [ceremony] does not take away the appetite even of the bride. At last Mr Hawtrey rose and in a very pretty speech proposed the health of the bride & bridegroom. We were all surprised when Gother rose to return thanks which he did, very kindly inviting everyone to follow his example and wishing that when they did their chances of happiness might equal his; but we were more astonished when Uncle Mann rose and begged to add his thanks and paid very pretty compliments to his son and his daughter. He looked very nervous when he was speaking and the glass he held in his hand shook so I thought he would have let it drop, but he went through it very well, though he says he was never more astonished than when he found himself standing, and then forgot all he intended saying. Then followed the bridesmaids’ health and as none of the bridesmaids would return thanks, James Brock summoned up all his courage and rose, but at the first word it all oozed out again; after a great deal of laughing he said, 'Gentlemen and ladies, I am desired by the bridesmaids to return you their best thanks' and sat down amid shouts of laughing. Then Mr Hawtrey made another and very funny speech, saying he quite understood that gentleman’s feeling that he was overpowered by that blaze of beauty & had been unable inconsequence to express all that he would and felt, loud applause and cries of 'Too true' from James Brock. He ended by proposing the health of the next bride and bridegroom, he would mention no names, as the individuals in question would feel conscious whom he meant, but in the meantime he called on Henry Brock to return thanks, who being seated next to his intended, Miss Louisa Mainguy, was for a moment taken quite aback, but however soon recoverered and made a very nice answer. Young Baynes next proposed the health of Mrs Isaac Dobrée, & Henry as 'Patriarch of the family' returned thanks in a speech that gave universal satisfaction. Grandmamma was quite flattered when she heard of it.