Caroline Fox.

Memories of old friends : being extracts from the journals of Caroline Fox of Penjerrick, Cornwall from 1835 to 1871 (Volume 2) online

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delivers us from its power.' "

April 26. — I could fill volumes with remem-
brances and personal historiettes of interesting
people, but for whom should I record them now ?
How strangely the heart falls back on itself, ex-
hausted and desolate, unless it gazes upward until
the clouds open, and then !


Caroline Fox to Clara Mill.^

" Penjer rick, May 7. — And then thy poor bro-
ther, with his failing health and depressed spirits,
walking up Etna ! Think of my boldness, I actu-
ally wrote to him ! It came over me so strongly
one morning that Barclay would like him to be
told how mercifully he had been dealt with, and
how true his God and Saviour had been to all
His promises, that I took courage, and pen, and
wrote a long history. Barclay had been the last
of our family who had seen him, and he said he
was very affectionate, but looked so grave, never
smiling once; and he told him that he was about
to winter in the South by Sir James Clark's order.
I hope I have not done wrong or foolishly, but I
do feel it rather a solemn trust to have such a
story to tell of Death robbed of its sting and the
Grave of its victory. It makes one long to join
worthily in the eternal song of 'Thanks be to
God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord

^ The Editor has recently seen a letter from Caroline Fox to a
friend, stating that she received replies from both Mr. Mill and his
wife, full of tenderness and deep sympathy in her loss. These letters
cannot, unfurtunately, be found.


Jesus Christ ! ' I can still report of our little

party as fairly well, though perhaps feeling what

an earthquake it has been, not less now than at


Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

" Penjerrick, June 13. — With all my heart I con-
gratulate thee on being at home once more — that
blessed, blessed, essentially English luxury. The
Swiss have their mountains, the French their Paris,
the English their Home. Happy English !

"No, we have no pretext for quarrelling about
St. Paul, nor even with him. I have heard that
text thou quotes, ' If in this life only we have
hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,'
explained somewhat after this fashion : — All the
nations around you — Greek, Roman, Asiatics —
have framed their instinct of an after-life with some
theory or vision or other ; some Elysian fields, some
halls of Eblis or of Odin. If you Christians ignore
an existence after this mortal life, how poor is your
conception of Man's great Being — how small, in-
complete, and false ; you are of all men most miser-
able. This, I think, is rather more satisfactory than
to conceive that St. Paul was whining over the
scratches that he and his suffered along the path


of their pilgrimage, as if they were an appreciable
counterbalance to the glorious joy of their calling
and their faith even in this present life. Are we
agreed ?

" Something in thy letter induces me to quote
the ^Heavenly Thought^ appointed for this morn-
ing — the speaker is Mrs. M. Maitland : ' It's ever
my thought that the most God-fearing man should
be the most blythe man/

" Hast thou read Kingsley's ' Westward-ho ! ' ?
It is very magnanimous in me to name him, for
it is all in thy interest ; a fine foe-exterminating
book of Elizabeth's time, done and written in the
religious spirit of Joshua and David. For Spaniards
read Russians, and it is truly a tract for the times,
selon toi"

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

"November 16. — Papa has been busy making
bottled compasses for Brunei's great ship, who
begged him to get at some magnetic results for him
but Papa must experiment in the neighbourhood of
much larger masses of iron than he can scrape to-
gether here. One thing, however, he has made out,
that a needle suspended in water becomes quiet in


its true position wonderfully sooner than when, as
usual, hung in air — hence bottled compasses. But
if thou and Dr. Gumming say that the world is at
its last gasp, what is the use of inventing any worldly
thing, when either destruction or intuition is so nigh
at hand ? The dear old world ! one certainly fancied
it in its very infancy blundering over BA ba, AB
ab ; but it may be dotage, for truly one sees people
nowadays quite biases at twenty. Which was its
period of manhood ? I suppose Kingsley would not
hesitate in giving it to the reign of our Elizabeth.
But Kingsley is no prophet of mine, however much
he may sometimes rejoice and at others strike me with
awe. Ah ! and that would only apply to England ;
and, if I remember rightly, nothing short of the
destruction of a world would satisfy Dr. Gumming.
Oh ! the comfort and blessing of knowing that our
Future is in other hands than Dr. Gumming's ; how
restful it makes one, and so willing to have the veil
still closely drawn which separates Now from Then.
It often strikes me that one must look forward to
some catastrophe for London, similar in spirit, how-
ever diverse in form, to what befell Babylon, Jeru-
salem, and Palmyra, but the How and When ? . . .
" Ah, yes ! I admit sorrowfully enouo-h that there


has been a canker in our Peace, that we have not
received it in a holy enough spirit or turned it to
highest uses; and yet in reading, as I have just
done, the history of the " Thirty Years' Peace " (it
is by H. Martineau, and I can't help it !), one can-
not but feel that those thirty years were not wasted ;
that great strides were made in the right direction,
towards education, mutual comprehension of na-
tions, classes, and individuals, sympathy with the
weak and suffering, and a few other things. Of
course there is neither time nor money now for
carrying out many of the Ideas which have been
the slow growth of Time and Pain ; but if we are
even now learning deeper lessons than those which
have been suspended, we will thank our Teacher,
not sullenly as a mere onerous duty, but with mar-
velling childlike trust — at least, we will trv to do
so. . . .

" Oh ! I do like what thou says about division
of labour, and qualified people taking the simple
generalship in all departments, and choosing their
Colonels, Adjutants, and Sergeants, instead of doino-
the privates' work themselves, though doubtless
they ought to be capable of that too. As to ' malign
influences,' I generally feel myself thoroughly guiltv

VOL. II. o


of my own sins^ and desire more to be delivered
from a weak or rebel will than from Satanic power;
but in this, as in most other things, I may be very
much mistaken. We shall know by and by,"

( 243 )



" Heaven lies about us in our infancy !
Shades of the prison-liouse begin to close

Upon the growing boy. . . .
The youth who daily farther from the East
Must travel. . . .

And by the vision splendid
Is on his way attended ;
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day."


Penjerrick, March 2. — Sir Charles Lemon and
his sister paid us a visit: as an illustration of Mac-
aulay's preternatural (quickness, he mentioned a
friend of his travelling with him and reading a
new book which Macaulay had not seen. The
friend grew weary and indulged in a ten minutes'
sleep ; on awakening, they resumed their talk,
which fell on topics apropos of the book, when
Macaulay was full of quotations, judgments, and
criticisms. ''But I thought you had not seen it,"
said his friend. " Oh yes ; when you were asleep


I looked at it ; " and it seemed as if no eorner of it
were unexplored.

March 29. — One of my poor friends, Mrs. Bastin,
told me of having, whilst living in Liverpool, passed
for dead after eholera for twenty-four hours ; the
authorities wanted her buried, but her brother-in-
law, a pious man, deelared, "No, she don't look
like death, she was not prepared to die, and no
one shall go near her but me." So he rubbed and
prayed, and prayed and ruiibed, and at last her life
was restored to her thankful family. In the very
next court lived a man who had to go away for a
day or two, so he said to his wife, " If you are
taken ill, send for So-and-so." In a few hours she
was taken ill of that terrible cholera, and had the
indicated doctor. A few hours later he said she
was dead, and the next morning her funeral left the
house. On its wav to the cemetery it met her
husband ; he said, " You may do what you like
with me, but you shan't bury my wife till I've
looked on her ; " so the funeral party turned round
and accompanied him home. Then he had the
coffin-lid removed, and drew out his wife and laid
her on the bed, reminding them of what had hap-
pened at the Bastins'. He too rubbed, and, I hope.


prayed^ and in time her life returned ; and many
times after that did the two women meet and ex-
change notes about their strange and awful experi-

Buri/ Hill, June 20. — Met the author of " Pro-
verbial Philosophy/' and heard him expiate on the
beautiful scene before him, and not in hexameters.
He is a happy, little, blue-eyed man, who evidently
enjoys talking, but does not approach the dignity
of his didactic poem.

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

" Penjerrick, June 27. — What can I tell of our
London interests? The Yearly Meeting? No,
that thou wouldst be sure to treat profanely. The
luminous fountain at the Pantechnicon ? Well,
it was very beautiful, leaping up to the top of
the dome, and being flooded from thence with
colour. The Nineveh Marbles ? We saw them,
in a very edifying manner, under the convoy of
Edward Oldfield, who made the old life live again
for us with marvellous vividness and authenticitv.
And the Print Room, containing also the draw-
ings of the old masters, Cellini's beautiful vase,
and Albert Durer's marvellous carving:. Oh ! and


the Peace fireworks and illuminations^ which I
saw so well from the top of our friend's house,
and which were indeed excitingly beautiful. Or
the blaze of azalias and rhododendrons at Bury
Hill? Or Tuppcr, the Proverbial Philosopher?
from whom I heard neither Philosophy nor Pro-
verb ; the Coleridges, and Christabel's birthday
fete ? a picturesque garden party around her June-
pole. Or Oxford ? where we spent a few glorious
hours, subdued, overawed by the sense of age and
nationality which seems to fill the place. Professor
Maskelyne did the honours charmingly ; and Mer-
ton, and Magdalene, the Bodleian, the Radcliffe,
the Clarendon, the Theatre, the shaded cloisters
and the beautiful gardens, all leave such an im-
pression on the memory and imagination as I
should feel much the poorer for lacking. And
then they are building a w^onderful Museum, with a
glass Gothic dome or roof, and one or two hundred
pillars of British marbles interspersed amongst the
masonry. They have beautiful red serpentine, but
not the green ; would it be very difficult or expen-
sive to supply them with one ? I was delighted
to hear of their successful experiment to unite
Town and Gown by a Working Man's College ;


about two hundred Town students have now mus-
tered^ and a capital staff of collegians are delighted
to teach them. They talk of one for the women
too, but ladies are not numerous at Oxford. , . .
Fare-thee-well, good Queen Bess. With much love
from Penjerrick to Penzance, thy ever affectionate,
— C. F."

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

"Penjerrick, August 29. — We have embarked on
a beautiful book, Arthur Stanley's ' Palestine ; '
thou wouldst be much interested in it, I think.
He writes charmingly, seeing things so clearly, and
seeing them in their bearings, geographical and
otherwise, like a true pupil of Dr. Arnold's ; and
there is such a high and thoughtful tone over it
all." . . .

September' ^. — M. A. Schimmelpenninck is gone.
She said, just before her death, " Oh ! I hear such
beautiful voices, and the children's are the loud-

November 8. — Well, I have heard and seen
Gavazzi : his subject was, "The Inquisition, its
Causes and Consequences ; " his moral, " Beware,
Englishmen, of the tendencies to Hierarchy in your


country when the thin end of the wedge is intro-
duced ; it will work its way on to all this." He is
most dramatic^ has a brilliant power of comedy,
and some terrible flashes of tragedy in him ; it is
all action and gesticulation, such as would be in-
tolerable in an Englishman, but as an Italian char-
acteristic it is all kindly welcome, and certainly
most telling. But notes of his discourse would be
very poor ; it was the manner that made his words
so desperately vivid. He died, dreadfully for us,
under the torture of the wet linen on the face ; it
made every one breathe thick, and two ladies had
to leave the room. I take him for a very clever
man, and in earnest in his politico-religious mission
to England. He ended with a solemn benediction
and prayer for the future of this country.

( 249 )


" A sacred burden is the life ye bear ;
Look on it, lift it, bear it solemnly ;
Stand up and walk beneath it steadfastly ;
Fail not for sorrow, falter not for sin ;
But onward, upward, till the goal ye win ;
God guard ye, and God guide ye on your way,
Young pilgrim-warriors, who set forth to-day."

Penjerrick, Januanj i. — A new book and a New
Year ! what will they contain ? May God keep
evil out of them^ and all will be well.

January lo. — George Smith dined here, and gave
a good, easy, conversational lecture on the recent
Assyrian and Egyptian discoveries, and their con-
nection with Scripture History. The elaborate
records found in the vast palaces of Sennacherib
and others, engraved in cuneiform characters, are
most remarkable. There is Sennacherib's descrip-
tion of the very unfortunate affair with Hezekiah,
told after the fashion of Napoleon's bulletins. Cyrus,
George Smith says, was the first who had the idea


of founding an Empire; previous conquerors only
accumulated tributary provinces. He thinks that
civilisation and knowledge of the Arts is rather
retro- than pro-gressive, and is severe on all who
think otherwise. Adam and Eve, he holds, were
perfect in all science, literature, and art, and ever
since their time we have been steadily forgetting.
I like his face, so full of honesty, sense, and kindli-

January 12. — Reading "Never Too Late to
Mend," one of the weightiest events of late. Oh
those prison scenes ! how they haunt one ! How
they recall those despairing women's eyes I met in
the model gaol at Belfast !

April 2. — Ernest de Bunsen is with us. I wash
I could chronicle a great deal of his talk ; it is mar-
vellously vivid, and he seems equally at home in
all regions of human thought : deep metaphysics,
devout theology, downright boyish merry-making,
the most tangled complexities of court intrigues^
and then his singing ! He is truly a man of infinite
aptitudes. Took him to Carclew, where he was a
perfect bottle of champagne to Sir Charles ; and to
Roscrow, where the boys were lost in admiration and
delight. He has been translating William Penn's


life into German, and sent a copy to Humboldt,
from whom he has received two charming letters
about it, in one saying that he has read every
word, and that the contemplation of such a life
has contributed to the peace of his old age. We
had German hymns, original and of olden time,
verv full of devout thought as well as feeling.
Then he sang Handel's "Comfort ye My People"
and "Thou wilt not leave His Soul in Hell," and
Haydn's "Creation of Eve;" the one so mighty
and overwhelming in its grandeur and expressive-
ness, the other so varied, picturesque, and exquisite.
AtTregedna we had one deep-hearted Irish melody,
and one Sicilian, full of love and patriotism, and
triumphant hope. He is perfectly ingenuous about
his voice. At Heidelberg three Bunsen brothers
and a brother-in-law would sing quartettes. In the
course of our talk he said, " Forgive to the fullest
extent and in the freest spirit, but never forget
anything ; it is all intended to be a lesson to
profit our after-life, for there is no such thing as

^pril 5. — Heard Professor Nichol's lecture at
Truro, when for two hours he held us poised in
those high regions, until we felt quite at home


amongst the nebulae, gazing on them with reverence
and love, rejoicing in their docility and law. He
came to us afterwards, and we had much talk about
his own subjects and mutual friends. He has a fine
head, and his face is a very scintillating one ; he
looks most happy in his expositions of those occult
Facts ; a sloping imaginative forehead, a light-blue
eye, and an affectionate trusting expression beaming
over the whole countenance.

June 13. — Warington Smyth talked with great
delight of Florence Nightingale. Long ago, before
she went to Kaiserswerth, he and Sir Henry de la
Beche dined at her father's, and Florence Nightin-
gale sat between them. She began by drawing Sir
Henry out on Geology, and charmed him by the
boldness and breadth of her views, which were not
common then. She accidentally proceeded into
regions of Latin and Greek, and then our Geologist
had to get out of it. She was fresh from Egypt,
and began talking with W. Smyth about the in-
scriptions, Sec, where he thought he could do pretty
well ; but when she began quoting Lepsius, which
she had been studying in the original, he was in the
same case as Sir Henry. When the ladies left the
room, the latter said to him, " A capital young lady


that^ if she hadn't so floored me with her Latin and
Greek ! "

/uli/ 9. — We are reading the Life of Charlotte
Bronte^ a most striking book. Genius as she was,
she is beautifully attentive to the smallest practical
matters affecting the comforts of others. She is
intensely true, and draws from actual life, cost
what it may; and in that remote little world of
hers — a village, as it seems, of a hundred years
back — facts came to light of a frightful unmitigated
force ; events accompanied them, burning with a
lurid glow and setting their very hearts on fire.
She is like her books, and her life explains much
in them which needs explanation.

Dublin, August 22. — Paying diligent attention to
some sections of the British Association's Meeting:,
which is held in the new building at the College,
gorgeous with marbles and arabesques. Father read
his paper on the temperature in Mines in the
Geological Section, though Section A cried out
vehemently for it. He read it well, and when
Dr. Forbes disputed some of the facts, thinking
that the heat might be referred to decomposition
of metals, 8cc., Papa answered very well and with
no nervousness, and Lord Talbot de Malahide,


the President, made him a very handsome speech
of acknowledgment, compHmenting him on the
honesty of his facts, so uncooked for the occasion,
and spoke of him as a veteran in the cause of
science, and trusted to welcoming him at these
meetings for many years. Met F. Burton there ;
a sharp-eyed, agreeable man, who told us of the
group of Goethe and Schiller about to be inaugu-
rated at Weimar. Dr. Lloyd told us of a happy
turn which Lord Carlisle gave to an incident before
the first B. A. Meeting at York. A coin had been
found whose inscription they could not read, until
on applying heat out came the words, " Deo gloria."
"Thus," said Lord Carlisle, "w^hen the torch of
Science is faithfully applied to dark subjects, ' Deo
gloria' is always the result it brings."

jiugust 28. — An extremely interesting collection
of African Explorers — Dr. Barth, De I'Abbadie, and
Dr. Livingstone; discussed the risings of African
Rivers, and why the Niger got up so much later
than the others. This was supposed to be from the
second flow of rains on the high table-land near its
source, which so swells it that about once in six
years it reaches the outskirts of Timbuctoo, and
between whiles evaporates, so as to leave only tables


and dry ground between. Dr. Barth gave a strictly
geographical history of his explorations^ and mourned
over the deaths of Vogel and Pattison. He is a
well-burnt, hard-featured_, indomitable sort of man ;
De I'Abbadie very dark in complexion, hair, and
eyes, with a singular pose in his head, as if, said
some one, he were accustomed to w^ear a pig-tail.
Dr. Livingstone tall, thin, earnest -looking, and
business-like ; far more given, I should say, to do
his work than to talk about it. Finished the
evening with supper and gossip with the wise men
at the President's.

August 29. — A grand dinner and soiree to all the
savants at the Vice-Regal Lodge. Papa enjoyed it
greatly, as it gave him a two hours' tete-d-tete with
Dr. Robinson. There was quite a row when the
gentlemen wanted their hats, terrible confusion and
outcry: never before had a broad-brim so justified
itself in my eyes ; it was found at once and restored
to its owner, whilst I had to leave poor General
Sabine in a mass of perplexities.

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

" Penjerrick, September 5. — . . . Papa and I re-
turned yesterday from Dublin (so I'm not going to


talk about most wretched India and all my poor
young cousins there), where a most successful
British Association Meeting hath been holden.
We were with our dear friends the Lloyds, which
was not the least pleasant part of the affair. Socially
and scientifically it has been all very brilliant —
from our dear President's opening address to the
Viceroy's magnificent reception at the Castle. The
Committee (a hundred or so) dined there, and we
went in the evening. Naturally it was the gayest
scene I have ever been in, but the Viceroy was so
good-natured, and there were so many interesting
people to chat with, that after the first solemnities
of presentation it was a very pleasant evening. Of
course not so pleasant as a home one over reading
and drawing; but still very pleasant as things go.
Dr. Livingstone's lecture I should like everybody to
have heard. People say it was signally lacking in
arrangement, but I have no nose for logic ; I thought
one just mounted his ox and went on behind him
amongst those loving, trusting, honest, generous
natives of his, first to the eastern coast, then to the
western. So much of the future of Africa seemed
to lie in his apergus : the navigabiHty of the Zam-
besi except one rapid part, which, of course, English


ingenuity would soon calm, the healthiness of the
district, the disposition of the natives for commerce,
and the abundance of material — all this was very,
very cheering. And almost even more so than that
was his assurance that the Niger Expedition had
not been made in vain ; that frequently in the
interior, and more and more as he approached
the coasts, he found there had been tidings of a
white nation who loved black people ; and he
reaped abundant benefit from this prestige. Oh,
if Sir Fowell Buxton might have known it ! But
doubtless he does, and gives glory where alone it
is due. Dr. Livingstone, the Whatelys, &c., came
to the Lloyds' after the lecture, and the ladies
agreed on sending a sugar-cane press to his chief
in remembrance of that evening. There is a great
deal of quiet fun about Dr. Livingstone; he would
pair off some African barbarism with some English
civilisation with great point. For instance, some of
his Africans wear hoops on their heads, with their
wool drawn out to it, like the spokes of a wheel ;
' but, poor people ! they are not at all civilised ;
they put their hoops in the wrong place; they'll
know better by and by.' Also the rain-making of
that country, and the table-turning and spirit-



rapping of ours^ the news whereof reached him
there and rather surprised him. But most one
admires the earnest simplicity of the man^ who
always seemed as if he had so much rather be doing
his work than talking about it. I long for him to
be at it again^ for if people can spoil him, they will
— such is the height of his popularity."

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Online LibraryCaroline FoxMemories of old friends : being extracts from the journals of Caroline Fox of Penjerrick, Cornwall from 1835 to 1871 (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 19)