1899…and its time to end things…
…today I get a letter from Mater saying that I must write to Dearest and make him understand that there can be no possible arrangement between him and me, as putting aside the fact that we cannot live on 2d a year we are totally unfitted for each other, that I am not in the least in love with him and it would be absurd to tie myself to him, etc…etc…so I set my mind to it and wrote to Dearest telling him all. I dread to think of the consequences, he will I know take it terribly to heart but what can I do, I must comply with Mother’s wishes. Of course she is right about the financial part of the business but as to suiting one another I think that might be left for us to judge, however its all done with now.
I got the answer to my letter…it was just as bad as I expected… She wrote back trying to comfort him, then tried again with her mother.
It is ten days since I wrote but I could not bring myself to put in anything as I have been in such trouble lately. I had a final discussion with Mother on the subject who absolutely forbade any idea of an engagement…so I wrote explaining all, and back came a letter such as I have never had in my life before…the long and short of (which) was that he thought I was giving him up because I didn’t care for him, so I got permission to write once again and explain all, how I had fought for it and how terribly distressed I was at my failure – thank God he knows now how truly I love him. Of course we are not allowed to correspond.
The affair was over. A month later she saw Charles in a crowded London drawing-room looking “very down in the mouth” and after a time they were permitted to write to each other again: “I had a letter of the kind which we have decided we are to write, it seemed extraordinary to get one like that from him.”
In November Wynne was packed off to India, where, as designed, she met and became engaged to someone her mother considered much more suitable. He was Major Herbert Jackson, and was twenty years her senior, but could support her. She returned to England in May 1899. (click Herbert in the Love browser for this story – or go to Travel for the boat trip to India).
It made me quite sick to find CM’s initial in the Wilderness beech tree (at Brookfield, the family home)…however all that is over and done with and although it saddens me to look back on, I cannot regret it all with this new happiness which has been sent me.
But the words are misleading. She should be allowed a final comment. In March 1899, before the announcement of her engagement, she had been reading through her diary and allowed herself a rare outburst:
March 5th, 1899
What real self denial is. I have been reading over bits of this Diary, principally the part during June – what absolutely empty things words are, and how impossible things look on paper. Any stranger reading it would think one had no feeling and hardly cared at all when all the time one was just distracted with grief. I do not even realize what a terrible thing happened last year, sometimes I am almost thankful that I can’t realize as I verily believe I couldn’t bear it, this sounds dreadful and I suppose one only feels so at times, soon I shall have written a whole year in this book and really when I look through it and try to realize what a lot has happened in that year it simply makes my head swim.
There is a postscript to this story. Charles Maclean married someone else, and his son, Sir Fitzroy Maclean, had a distinguished career in World War 2. The family did not entirely lose touch. Charles’ brother, Adie, became a godfather to Wynne’s second child, Ysobel, and was, much later, to meet up with them all when they emigrated to Kenya. He was in the administration, and was able to meet them and show them around when they first arrived in 1924.
Many, many years later, his grandson piloted the plane that took that same Ysobel across Kenya to the funeral of her brother – seventy years almost to the day after Wynne had turned down his great uncle.