Letter, Kate Whittle, Schloss Surgenstein, Bavaria to Sholta ‘Cattie’ Scott Douglas

This letter is from the papers of the Douglas, later Scott Douglas, family of Springwood Park, Kelso

“My dear friend, Long ago should I have written to you, enclosing the paper I now send, but I heard you were at Malvern, & I feared to trouble you with our business at a time when you could not do any thing, being absent from London – I think it better now to delay no longer, as it may be that you will be able to settle the affair = Margaret will write on a paper which I will include, whatever is needful to say about the business, she is our right hand as you know & has a better & more business head than I have. . I am very particularly sorry not to be able to pay off more of our debt to you, not to meet your wishes in this respect pains us much – but at present it is not possible for us to do it, unless you very earnestly desired it, when we would do it certainly. I hoped that the legacy from my dearest father’s property would have enabled me to repay you dear friends, but Margaret & I had only £1000 left us, and God for help, for there seems no human aid now near us = Thank God my dear husband is just at present pretty well for him, but his state varies so much, that the anxiety can never sleep. – We have as usual had a busy summer – friends like to come to us, and we delight in seeing them – without this refreshment to our minds & hearts we should be apt to grow rusty & self-engrossed = Syrgenstein is more beautiful every year – by degrees we improve it , but it retains still its peculiar wild character; the unfortunate tower is repaired, & is safe I trust for our life = many new woodland walks have been made, shrubberies planted, and small improvements that tell much in the general effect. Early in October Mrs Whittle left us; her health improved greatly during her stay here, & she is now wonderfully well for a woman of her age. James, Margie & I went with her to Zurich. She went on to a every where she will spend the winter – Mt. went to Carlsruhe where she spent a very interesting & pleasant fortnight with our good friends the Edward Devrients. Js & I went to pooor dear Aettishausen [? Ettinghausen] to see it for the last time as it is sold & poor Mrs Allen will in a few weeks leave her dearly beloved home for ever = We did not meet again here, Mt. & ourselves, until late in October, for our winter flight – Mt. is going to Marseilles, & perhaps a tour along the Riviera with some friends; Js & I go to Vevey until Xmas, & then to Marienberg for a six weeks “Kur” – the last we took, last winter, was of real use to my husband, & we earnestly desire to try another -. Of our beloved Nannie we have poor accounts – she is suffering in many ways & will for a time I fear have much to contend against – one knee is swollen & lame, & she is scarcely able to walk. She is now at a Cold Water Establishment near Geneva, & Mr & Mrs R Pigott are in a pension at Veytaux near Chillons. Margie had a meeting with that dear Agnes Casamajor in her own beloved Gurzenbach – & it is just poetry to hear Mt. [Margaret] tell of that wee bit of a visit – how sweet & lovely that dear one was in her Châlet, & the repose & elegance there was around her, truly it is her happy Valley; we tried to coax here here but she is like one enchanted when once she sets foot in Gurzenbach = Margt. is better than she was, but she is very often poorly & a small thing knocks her down. I am a very good-for-nothing creature just now – suffering night & day more than I very well know how to do. I hope it is temporary only. My darling Sholta said she would like to see me in a black moire – behold me! Mrs W. brought me one from London, & I had it photographed. Those who love me best like the face & figure too. … Have you you none to send me in return, I should dearly love your two precious selves, if like. Now farewell = my sweet birches – when shall I see you in living presence again!” … M’s best love & J’s sincere regards. Ever your true friend Kate Whittle.”

1 Catharine ‘Kate’ Whittle née Taylor (about 1810-1883); author, described by Henry Reeve as a cousin and “a great invalid and never goes out. But she is returning to a Schloss (Syrgenstein) they have in Bavaria.” [Laughton, John Knox, Ed. (1898) ‘Memoirs of the Life and Correspondence of Henry Reeve, C.B., D.C.L’, Volume 2, page 213]

1 Catherine Elizabeth Isabella ‘Cattie’ Scott Douglas (1824-1863)

1 Edward Taylor (1784-1863); singer and Gresham professor of music

1 Whittle

1 Schloss Syrgenstein in Bavaria, near Lake Konstanz (Bodensee)

1 Conceivably Agnes Margaret Casamajor (1801-1883), daughter of James Henry Casamajor and Elizabeth Rebecca Casamajor née Campbell, who has a strong connection with North Mimms, Hertfordshire but very little with Germany so this is a very speculative identification (and contact with her descendants does not suggest a link either), except that Agnes appears to be absent from the UK at the 1861 Census – around the relevant time – and that Julia Scharfer from Germany was a guest of Miss Casamajor in the 1881 Census

1 Veytaux, near Chillon, Riviera-Pays-d’Enhaut, canton of Vaud, Switzerland

1 Margaret ‘Margie’ Whittle (fl.1863)

1 Assume (Philipp) Eduard Devrient (1801-1877); German baritone, librettist, playwright, actor, theatre director, and theatre reformer and historian and his wife Therese Schlesinger

1 The Pigotts are not identified

1 Marienburg spa, St. Gallen, canton of Thurgau, Switzerland]

1 Karlsruhe, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

1 This presumably refers to Samuel Johnson’s ‘Rasselas’ or ‘The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia’ in which the Prince is shut up in the (so-called) Happy Valley “till the order of succession should call him to the throne”, though Kate Whittle appears to have overlooked the irony that those in Happy Valley are all dissatisfied, and quoted it literally; for a study of Johnson’s sources see Kolb, Gwin J. “The ‘Paradise’ in Abyssinia and the ‘Happy Valley’ in ‘Rasselas.’” Modern Philology, vol. 56, no. 1, 1958, pp. 10–16. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/435481. Accessed 23 June 2021.

1 John Edward Taylor (1809-1866), was from 1837 to 1851 partner to his uncle, Richard Taylor, who operated a printing house at Red Lion Court, London

Letter, Kate Whittle to Cattie Scott Douglas, SBA/513/5/3/2/1

[Source: Scottish Borders Archives & Local History Service SBA/513/5/3/2/1, papers of the Scott Douglas Family of Springwood Park, Kelso]

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Archivist, interests include Dr John Stewart Muir 1845-1938) of Selkirk, general practitioner, and Seton Paul Gordon (1886–1977), naturalist, author and photographer

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