[London—Thursday, 11 August 1859]
Thursday 11th of August. Jamie and I walked in the sunset light to Westminster Abbey. The glorious old place looked finer than ever in the golden gleams.
Mr Candell sent us a photograph of one of Hoppner’s pictures.
Took the train for Dover at ½ past 8. Jamie had previously engaged George whom we think to be a great comfort. His wife and children came down to see us off: they had been together only 3 days and were much disappointed to be so soon separated.
It was an exquisite evening. The moon was high and almost unclouded. We had a slight breeze and a quiet sea so that we were nothing more than uncomfortable on the passage. We sat together under one of the safety boats watching the white picturesque cliffs of Dover as they slowly receded in the distance. Their great height was proved to us by the fact that we seemed never to lose sight of them; finally however the lights alone remained and then we found we had reached Calais. Only a short two hours sail separating us from all familiar sights and sounds.
The first man who touched me said “Permettez moi, madame” &c. with an air which taught us this was France and there could be no mistake. We put on our sharpest curiosity-spectacles and enjoyed immensely the three little men in the custom-house who amused themselves even at this late hour with manufacturing jokes out of the very poorest materials nor could I help laughing at the unfortunate little soldier who felt himself obliged to pull my night-dress out of the portmanteau looking important and half ashamed of himself at the same time. At last we were free and went joyfully pattering over the rough pavé gazing by the imperfect moon-light at all the queer old places on the way; soon we came to an old court-yard. George hastily exchanged a few words with the waiter and we were led across an enclosure surrounned [sic] with green pots in which acaccias [sic] were growing, up a few stairs and into the cleanest freshest sweetest little bed-room which one could find on a long summer day and before ½ past two we were unconsciously breathing the atmosphere of France.