10769.2 | Lady Blanche Paulet to Frances Allen Jack
Lady Blanche Paulet to Frances Allen Jack
Emma Carleton Jack
April 24th 1862, 19th century
Ink on paper
11.5 x 15.2 cm
Gift of E. Portia MacKenzie, 1962 (Emma Carleton Jack Memorial Collection)
This artefact belongs to: © New Brunswick Museum
Keys to History
Imagine the surprise and excitement when Fanny Jack (1854-1913) received a letter from Lady Blanche Paulet, a British aristocrat who had been living in France, the centre of the fashion world. The note even mentioned Captain George C. Gordon, of the Scots Fusilier Guards, who had posed with Lady Blanche's uncle, Lord Frederic Paulet, in a carte-de-visite photograph that the family had received a month earlier. Unbeknownst to her, Fanny's mother, Emma Jack (1825-95), had woven together an elaborate ruse to infuse a doll with a fictional personality and ensure that her young daughter received an unforgettable gift.
Miss Fanny Allen Jack
Written on board
The Steamer "America"
You will doubtless be rather surprised, at receiving a letter from me, and still more so when I tell you that I am going to throw myself upon your hospitality and ask you to let me stay with you as long as you will give me house-room; but Oh! Dear! Sweet! Miss Fanny do not refuse to let me come to you; for I am sure that nowhere shall I be able to enjoy that happiness and repose that I have vainly sought (since I have been left the helpless orphan to buffet with life's waves) as in the bosom of your charming family which I am quite certain from my dear uncle's description of it, is never disturbed by quarrelsome noisy disagreeable children who are so fearfully oppressive to a person of a nervous temperament like mine. But I must explain how it happens that I am on my way to America, you must not suppose that it is owing to any carelessness or neglect of my beloved uncle, Lord Frederic Paulet, Oh No! but I could not endure to reside near the scene of my sad loss and last winter when I returned from France where I had been with my governess for two years my uncle advised me to go out to the colonies and promised to let me know if he found a nice young lady who would be kind to me and when he saw you he was quite satisfied and told me to come out. Trusting that you will feel that affection for me which I already have for you and with a great deal of love to your sweet sister I mean the one called "Little Red Ridinghood" who my uncle often mentions, and with kind regards to the rest of the family.
P.S. I was sorry to hear from Captain Gordon one of my uncle's staff and a great favourite of mine that your sister Edith does not like the Scotch.
Lady Blanche's letter suggests that she may have been created to resolve minor instances of unwanted behaviour in her owner.
The actual ship, America, sailed from Liverpool, England, on April 19, 1862, arriving in Halifax on May 2, 1862.
Considerable effort went into timing the arrival of the letter with the sailing of an actual vessel, close to Fanny's birthday of May 5, 1862.
Comparison of the handwriting in the letter from Lady Blanche with that in other letters contained in the Jack files (NBM) confirms, beyond doubt, that Emma Jack is the author of the letter.