The Mary Hamilton Papers : Letter from Sarah Dickenson to Mary Hamilton

Dickenson, Sarah

The Mary Hamilton Papers

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Letter from Sarah Dickenson to Mary Hamilton, relating to a tour of Lancashire and the Lake District. Dickenson notes that as Hamilton has expressed her wish to hear from her she will write to her some of her observations made whilst touring. They travelled first to Preston, where they stopped to change horses before moving on to Lancaster, where they visited the Castle, which was in use as a prison during this period. A number of the prisoners were in the yard and many crowded around them. The noise and the thought of the suffering of the prisoners affected Dickenson greatly. Her party made their way to the tower to view the surrounding area but she writes that she was unable to appreciate it, as the 'horrors of the place had so entirely occupied my mind'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The letter continues to describe Lancaster, and Dickenson notes that the 'almshouses' did impress her, particularly one founded by a Mrs Ann Dennison [possibly an error for Gillison] for old maids; another was for twelve widows and widowers. Both houses were 'neat & simple & seemed well regulated'. She reports visiting Lord George Cavendish's house, Holker Hall in Lancashire [now part of the county of Cumbria], reporting that she liked the paintings which she 'believe[s] are very valuable'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The letter touches on changes in production and increasing industrialisation and how this has affected communities. On cotton production in Lancashire, Dickenson reports on the importance of the industry in the neighbourhood 'which the advocates for trade are rightly pleased with, but the thinking part of the inhabitants are of a different opinion'. These people 'observe that the people were able to maintain themselves before that [the factories]'. Although the gains are 'trifling in comparison to what they now are, ... the works have been the means of bringing many strangers into the country', who may in 'time corrupt the manners of the people'. She continues that education is 'neglected' and the increased wealth that will accompany these changes 'will be the means of [spreading] immorality & extravagance amongst them'.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Dickenson carries on describing the tour, her health and her wish to hear news from Hamilton.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Original reference No. 3.</p>

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