[ The engagement of a Victorian banker. ] Correspondence of Hugh Colin Smith (future Bank of England Governor) and his future wife Constance Maria Josepha Adeane, comprising nineteen Autograph Letters Signed from her to him and seven from him to her.
The twenty-six items in good condition, on lightly-aged paper. His seven letters, all signed 'Hugh C. Smith', total 52pp., 12mo. Her nineteen letters, signed 'Constance M. J. Adeane', 'Constance Adeane' and 'Constance', total 114pp., 12mo. The correspondence begins on 9 April 1864, with her declining his proposal of marriage: 'Dear Mr. Hugh Smith | I have quite come to the conclusion that it will not be fair to keep you any longer in suspense for the chance of consideration & time making me change my mind – as it is quite made up. | I am quite certain I have not the feeling for you – or ever shall have – which I ought to have if I promised to marry you – I should not be doing at all right if I did so […]'. In his first letter, 27 May 1865, he urges her to reconsider, writing that he finds the 'existing state of affairs' between them 'so intolerable, & in my opinion so unfair upon you, & I am so unwilling at the same time to appear to persecute you whenever we happen to meet'. By 10 July 1864 the couple are on first-name terms, and the correspondence proceeds through an engagement with warm expressions of affection, and family news and gossip about a number of individuals such as 'Robert Jardine', 'Commander Pym', 'Jervoise', 'Mrs. Dutton', 'Sir Jonah' and 'Spicer', as well as London dinner parties and other social engagements; and topics including: an election in 1865 (with reference to 'Astell our opponent'), the reading of the banns, and Kingsley's novel 'Hypatia'. At times the correspondence almost reads like a novel, as for example this passage by him on 9 July 1865: 'Curiously enough I was thinking yesterday morning that after all Alethea might be right & that Lady Willoughby had bad manners as she had not been to call upon you, when your letter arrived announcing their visit. She really is a most estimable person in the best sense of the word, & I am confident that at Compton you will be very much impressed by the calm businesslike unfussy way she has of doing her duty always without pretension & in a sort of humble way deprecating criticism, & trying to avoid attention.' On 16 July 1865 she writes of the wife of the German merchant Gustav Christian Schwabe (1813-1897): 'Yesterday it rained a good deal all day, so I drew out of the window & about 4.30 Mrs. Schwabe of Yewden having called, she took us back in her carriage to see her husband's collection of pictures. He must be a very generous & large-minded man. He is going to give all this large collection next year to his native town Hamburgh. Yewden is close to the river – at Hambledon Lock […] The Schwabes give it up in October, & the Dugdales of Wraxall the Dowager Mrs. & 4 handsome Misses (Mrs. Dugdale being sister in law of Mrs. Schwabe) come to inhabit it. […] I did not admire the collection of pictures much, […]'. In her last letter, from Eastbourne on 27 December 1866, she describes herself jokingly as 'your poor wife', going for a walk 'with the Professor', reading Les Miserables, 'cuddling Mildred, & knitting a sock, & drinking my solitary cup of tea'.