My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell Page 1 of 201
MY LADY LUDLOW
by Elizabeth Gaskell
I am an old woman now, and things are very different to what they were in my youth. Then we, who travelled, travelled in coaches, carrying six inside, and making a two days' journey out of what people now go over in a couple of hours with a whizz and a flash, and a screaming whistle, enough to deafen one.
Then letters came in but three times a week: indeed, in some places in Scotland where I have stayed when I was a girl, the post came in but once a month;-but letters were letters then; and we made great prizes of them, and read them and studied them like books.
Now the post comes rattling in twice a day, bringing short jerky notes, some without beginning or end, but just a little sharp sentence, which well-bred folks would think too abrupt to be spoken. Well, well! they may all be improvements,-I dare say they are; but you will never meet with a Lady Ludlow in these days.
I will try and tell you about her. It is no story: it has, as I said, neither beginning, middle, nor end.
My father was a poor clergyman with a large family. My mother was always said to have good blood in her veins; and when she wanted to maintain her position with the people she was thrown among,-principally rich democratic manufacturers, all for liberty and the French Revolution,-she would put on a pair of ruffles, trimmed with real old English point, very much darned to be sure,-but which could not be bought new for love or money, as the art of making it was lost years before.
These ruffles showed, as she said, that her ancestors had been Somebodies, when the grandfathers of the rich folk, who now looked down upon her, had been Nobodies,-if, indeed, they had any grandfathers at all. I don't know whether any one out of our own family ever noticed these ruffles,-but we were all taught as children to feel rather proud when my mother put them on, and to hold up our heads as became the descendants of the lady who had first possessed the lace.