A very silly nonfiction book featuring Lady Jane Grey (among other things, it has her waltzing, playing the pianoforte, and being made to wear “hunting outfits . . . similar to those of jockeys”) put me in mind of this equally silly “journal” of Elizabeth Woodville. This is not my invention, but was presented in Thomas Russell Potter’s 1842 book, History and Antiquities of Charnwood Forest, as being an extract from an authentic document. According to David Baldwin in his biography of Elizabeth Woodville, a newspaper clipping pasted inside a 1914 book also reproduces this extract, with a few additions, and claims that the original “journal” could be found at Drummond Castle. Not surprisingly, Baldwin was unable to find such an original document. This “journal,” with its portrayal of Elizabeth Woodville as a proper Victorian miss, therefore, is likely entirely bogus, but it makes for fun reading, and for far more pleasant reading than some of the modern slurs against Elizabeth Woodville.
Thursday Morninq (May 10, 1451).—Rose at four o’clock, and helped Katherine to milk the cows: Rachael, the other dairy-maid, having scalded one of her hands in a very sad manner last night. Made a poultice for Rachael, and gave Robin a penny to get her something comfortable from the apothecary’s.
Six o’clock.—Breakfasted. The buttock of beef rather too much boiled, and the ale a little the stalest. Memorandum to tell the cook about the first fault, and to mend the second myself, by tapping a fresh barrel directly.
Seven o’clock.—Went out with the Lady Duchess, my mother, into the court-yard; fed five and thirty men and women; chid Roger very severely for expressing some dissatisfaction in attending us with the broken meat.
Eight o’clock.—Went into the paddock behind the house with my maiden Dorothy: caught Stump, the little black pony, myself, and rode a matter of six miles, without either saddle or bridle.
Ten o’clock.—Went to dinner. John Grey one of our visitants—a most comely youth—but what’s that to me? A virtuous maiden should be entirely under the direction of her parents. John ate very little—stole a great many tender looks at me—said a woman never could be handsome, in his opinion, who was not good-tempered. I hope my temper is not intolerable; nobody finds fault with it but Roger, and Roger is the most disorderly serving man in our family. John Grey likes white teeth—my teeth are of a pretty good colour, I think, and my hair is as black as jet, though I say it—and John, if I mistake not, is of the same opinion.
Eleven o’clock.—Rose from table, the company all desirous of walking in the fields. John Grey would lift me over every stile, and twice he squeezed my hand with great vehemence. I cannot say I should have any aversion to John Grey: he plays prison-bars as well as any gentleman in the country, is remarkably dutiful to his parents, and never misses church of a Sunday.
Three o’clock.—Poor farmer Robinson’s house burnt down by an accidental fire. John Grey proposed a subscription among the company, and gave a matter of no less than five pound himself to this benevolent intention. Mem. Never saw him look so comely as at that moment.
Four o’clock.—Went to prayers.
Six o’clock.—Fed the poultry and hogs.
Seven o’clock.—Supper at the table; delayed on account of farmer Robinson’s fire and misfortune. The goose pie too much baked, and the loin of pork almost roasted to rags.
Nine o’clock.—The company almost all asleep. These late hours are very disagreeable. Said my prayers a second time, John Grey disturbing my thoughts too much the first. Fell asleep about ten, and dreamt that John had come to demand me of my father.