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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Falmouth, October 16. — The Ernest de Bunsens
' are with us ; he read us last night Mendelssohn's
"Elijah/' illustrating it whenever he could with
such exquisite feeling, power, and pathos. The
last time he saw Mendelssohn, they had played and
sung several things together, when Mendelssohn
asked for one more. He chose " Be thou faithful
unto Death and I will give thee a Crown of Life !"
When he had ended, Mendelssohn slipped away
from the room, overcome with emotion. Ernest
de Bimsen followed him ; he said, " Gott segne euch
alle,'' and was gone.

October 27. — T. Bourne lives at Rugby, and
told us many things of Dr. Arnold, whom he knew,
though slightly. The Duchess of Sutherland wrote
to ask if she might attend the School Chapel, and
arrived at the little inn one Saturday, where Dr.
Arnold found her and brought her to his own house


for a day or two. This was not long before his
death^ on which occasion she sent Mrs. Arnold
^ioo_, begging it might be spent in some Httle
memorial fashion. Mrs. Arnold proposed giving
copies of his forthcoming volume of sermons to
each of the three hundred boys ; this the Duchess
liked, but desired that it should be done in Mrs.
Arnold's name. It was not until his death that
people felt what he was ; before that it often
required some courage to speak well of him in
" religious society."

November 15. — Papa has had the great interest
and satisfaction of seeing the theory of stratification
being caused by pressure well disproved, and his
own conviction of its being produced by an in-
herent crystallising power in rocks, call it chemical
galvanism or what you will, well confirmed, by
finding that a great lump of clay, thrown aside
from Pennance Mine some five years ago, has
arranged itself in thin lamina, just like the ordi-
nary clay slate. This seems to determine a vexed
question in geology.

( 26o )



" We turn'd o'er many books together." — Shakespeare.

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

" Falmouth, January 5. — I did dearly love thy
last letter ; it was the most earnest^ friendly New
Year's greeting that had reached me, and it called
up a deep Amen from my dull and sleepy heart.
Thy facts, too, were so very cheery and thankworthy.
Yes, let us take all the Christmas blessings along
with us on our New Year's road. Whether muddy
or dusty or ruttv, or neatly macadamised and well
trodden, with fair and quiet scenery around, or
Alpine gorges and Alpine heights, what matter ?
Really and deliberately I would desire to repeat —
What matter? If He who knows the road, and
knows our capacities and our needs, is but with
us, would we wish to take the guidance out of His
hands ? I trow not. And so welcome to the beau-


tiful New Year, and may we welcome all it may
bring us of joy or sorrow, and learn the lessons
hidden in each. And thus I echo back thy New
Year's greeting. And I accept thy idea of the
marked blessings designed for us in these marked
periods of life — times for drawing up, pausing,
looking backwards and forwards, and then stepping
on with fresh vigour along the path appointed for
you — not anybody else's path, however it may
exceed your own in goodness and brightness and
usefulness; you would blunder and fall there, even
with the best intentions.

" Of Buckle's book I have only heard through
Lady Trelawny, who thinks it a most remarkable
work, full of genius, power, and insight ; the first
volume seems mainly preliminary and introductory
to a long series — a German-like beginning ! But T
shall hear more about it soon, as we go to Carclew ,
to be with her for a day or two, to-morrow."

January 10. — George Cook had much to tell of
the Carlyles. He has just finished two volumes of
" Frederick the Great," which has been a weary
work. He seems to grow drearier and drearier ;
his wife still full of life and power and sympathy,


spite of the heavy weight of domestic dyspepsia.
Kingsley pays him long visits, and comes away
talking just like him: "Why, if a man will give
himself over to serve the devil, God will just give
him over to his choice to see how he likes it," Sec.
Whilst in Paris, G. Cook has been much in Ary
Scheffer's studio, where a little musical party in-
dulge in quartettes amidst all the art visions lying
about the room.

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

^^ January 25. — Thy peep into Buckle is very
interesting, and quite confirms Lady Trelawny's
view j she found it very fascinating and most
masterly, whilst much of his reasoning she could
not at all go along with. When I read thy re-
marks on him to Papa, he thought thee most right
in the abstract, but that the Facts of general his-
tory supported Buckle's view. How many of our
special views and consequent acts, for instance,
arose from the ' accident ' of birth, the opinions
of those amongst whom we are educated, and
so on. But very likely we have not got hold of
a hair of his tail, so I'll cut short the paternal


November 12. — Heard Thomas Cooper lecture on
his own vagaries, practical and speculative, and
their solution. He began by an autobiographical
sketch, dwelling on the mischief done by incon-
sistent professors, who seemed to have badgered him
out of Methodism into scepticism ; then, seeing the
cruel wrongs of the stocking-weavers of Leicester,
drove him into Chartism ; he was in the thick of
a bad riot, much of which he encouraged, but he
did not intend the incendiary part of it. However,
he was taken up and convicted of sedition, and
imprisoned for two years. Then and there he sank
the lowest, in loveless, hopeless unbelief. His study
of Robert Owen, and discovery of the fallacy of his
reasonings, seemed to do much to bring him round
again ; and then going about England with Wyld's
Model of Sebastopol seemed to have had some
mysterious influence for good ; and here he is —
Convert, Confessor, and Reasoner. He is a square-
built man, with a powerful, massive face ; he walks
up and down the platform and talks on as if he
were in a room, with extreme clearness, excellent •
choice of language, and good pronunciation, con-
sidering that he was formerly a poor shoemaker,
and had to teach himself the much he has learnt.

( 264 )


" My eyes are dim with childish tears,
My heart is idly stirred,
For the same sound is in my ears
Which in those days I heard."

— Wordsworth.

Fenjerrick, January i. — I will commence the year
with Raleigh's noble words : —

" O eloquent and mighty Death ! whom none
could advise, thou hast persuaded ; what none have
dared, thou hast done ; and whom all the world
hath flattered, thou only hast cast out of the world
and despised : thou hast drawn together all the
far-stretched greatness, all the pride, cruelty, and
ambition of man, and covered it all over with these
two narrow words, ' Hie facet ! ' "

June 5. — Settled once more into dear, beautiful
home-life, the near and distant memories being all
so living and precious beyond all words. The
welcomes from dear home friends, rich and poor.


have been truly heart-warming, and it is delightful
to be able right honestly to rejoice with them in
being at home once more,

Caroline Fox to E. T. Carne.

^' Penjerrick,June 24. — So thou canst see nothing
fitting for Italy but slavery to some foreign power
or other, and this spite of all that Sardinia has done
for herself and her neighbours in the last few years.
Read About's desperately keen book, ' La Question
Romaine/ and admit that against frightful odds
there is a national spirit still, and that there are
genuine men in that nation. Doubtless their his-
tory through the Middle Ages tells of anything but
Unity, but there is a great thirst for it now in
many quarters. Unquestionably the present state
of things is wrong; if God overrules even the
iniquities of this war to give them some taste of
Liberty, don't let us begrudge it them. Rather
let us join the many who are earnestly praying
that they may become indeed a free and Christian
nation. Even if the French should take the posi-
tion of Austria with regard to them, the tyranny
would be much milder, religious liberty would be
secured, and, as the poor Fratelli in Tuscany are


crying out, ' We shan't be imprisoned for the Bible

any more

I '"

September 4. — A full week has driven by. We
spent two davs at Carclew with Dr. Whewell and
his wife. Lady Affleck. He was as urbane and
friendly as needs be, and seemed determined to live
down Sydney Smith's quiz about Science being his
forte, and Omniscience his foible ; for he rarely
chose to know more about things than other people,
though we perseveringly plied him with all manner
of odds and ends of difficulties. There is a capital
element of fun in that vast head of his ; w^itness
his caricatures of Sedgwick in his Cornish Sketch-
book. He made me notice the darkness of sky
between two rainbows, a fact only lately secured,
and a part, he says, of the whole theory of the rain-
bow. Speaking of some book he had written with
a touch of Architecture in it, he said, " There are
many wise things in it, but Pm wiser still ! " which
he hoped was a modest way of stating the case.
He declines throwing light on the axe-heads which
are making such a stir, thinking there is no need for
such hurry, and only tossing to one the theory of
the greater age of man than is now admitted. Of


the Working Men's College at Cambridge, he is
quite sure it is doing the teachers great good^ what-
ever it does to the learners. He does not see what
is to come of the middle-class examinations ; they
are not a step to anything by the direct method,
and one man who got a high certificate was quite
astonished at having some trusty situation offered
him, never dreaming that it was in consequence of
this. ^^But won't some further career be opened
for these meritorious people ? '' "I don't find
people in general very good judges of their own
merits." " Well, then, won't the lookers-on open
some way for them ? " "I don't see much good
come of spectators. Why, already there are so
many half-starved curates ; what are you to do ?
F. D. Maurice comes down sometimes, and there
is a great sensation ; or Mr. Ruskin, who astonished
them all highly the other day, only he flew rather
over the people's heads." Papa got from him a
formal contradiction of the choice storv about
Chinese Music, which was a pity ; but he savs
he never wrote on the subject, only on Greek
Music, He told of a talk he had had with
Martin amongst his pictures, which he assured
him were the result of the most studied calcula-


tion in perspective ; he had been puzzled how to
give size enough to an angel's hand^ and at last
hit on the expedient of throwing a fold of his
garment behind the sun.

September 24. — The little Fox has gained her
quest and brought distinct tidings of Franklin's
death in 1847; the vessel crushing in the ice in
1848; multitudes of relics found in various cairns,
which were their posts of observation around that
dreary coast : Bibles with marked passages and
notes, clothes, instruments, all sorts of things of
most touching interest, so preserved by the climate ;
many skeletons they found, and some they could
identify by things they had about them. It is a
comfort to believe that they were not starved, as
thirty or fortv pounds of chocolate was found
with them, and Sir John Franklin may have died
a quite natural death a year before the cata-

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

" Penjerrick, November 25. — Thanks, Eccellentis-
sima, for thy last letter, written under evident
difficulties. What with the sons of Zeruiah and
the Land of Nod, it was a hard lot to have to
concoct a letter ; it was well to put all the spice


into it that lay convenient, and to treat me to a
discharge of firearms. By all means, my dear,
get the new percussion fittings, and kill as many
Frenchmen and others as thy conviction of Duty
may require. I have a great reverence for Loyola
and Xavier, though I don't agree with them
about the Inquisition; for Las Casas, though he
introduced American slavery ; and for John New-
ton, though an eager slave-trader, which he never
seems to have the least regretted. ' Let every
one be fully persuaded in his own mind,' but then
let them first have gone honestly through the
whole process of suasion, or their results may have
to be reconsidered at any time, however incon-
venient. I am reading that terrible book of John
Mill's on Liberty, so clear, and calm, and cold :
he lays it on one as a tremendous duty to get
oneself well contradicted, and admit always a
devil's advocate into the presence of your dearest,
most sacred Truths, as they are apt to grow windy
and worthless without such tests, if indeed they
can stand the shock of argument at all. He looks
you through like a basilisk, relentless as Fate. We
knew him well at one time, and owe him very
much ; I fear his remorseless logic has led him


far since then. This book is dedicated to his
wife's memory in a few most touching words. He
is in many senses isolated, and must sometimes
shiver with the cold."

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

" Falmouth, December 23. — No, my dear, I don't
agree with Mill, though I too should be very
glad to have some of my ^ugly opinions' corrected,
however painful the process ; but Mill makes me
shiver, his blade is so keen and so unhesitating.
I think there is much force in his criticism on
the mental training provided for the community;
the battles are fought for us, the objections to
received views and the refutations of the same
all provided for us, instead of ourselves being
strengthened and armed for the combat. Then
he greatly complains of our all growing so much
alike that individuality is dying out of the land ;
we are more afraid of singularity than of False-
hood or Compromise, and this he thinks a very
dark symptom of a nation's decay. France, he
says, is further gone than we are in this path."

Decemler 31. — The old year is fled, never to


come back again through all Eternity. All its
opportunities for love and service gone, past re-
call. What a terrible thought ! like that which
must have flashed upon the disciples in their old
age, when they remembered the Garden of Geth-
semane and the gentle rebuke, " Could not ye
watch with Me one hour ? " and then afterwards,
when all watching was too late, all utterly vain,
either for sympathy or for resolve, with what a
tolling sound would those other words fall on their
hearts, " Sleep on now and take your rest ; behold
he who betrayeth Me is at hand." How can I
look back on these forty years in the wilderness
without falling into such musings as these !

( 272 )



"The grand Napoleon of the reahns of rhyme." — Byron.

Paris, May 25. — Madame Salis Schwabe took us
to Ary Scheffer's studio, and introduced us to his
daughter and to Dr. Antonio Ruffini. What deep,
and beautiful, and helpful things we saw there !
The Marys; the Angel announcing the Resurrec-
tion to the Woman, the paint of which was even
wet when he died. Earthly sorrow rising into celes-
tial joy — a wonderful picture of his dying mother
blessing her two grandchildren, and his own keen-
eved portrait. His daughter had gathered around
her an infinity of personal recollections, and it felt
very sacred ground.

Falmouth, September 22. — Alfred Tennyson and
his friend, Francis Palgrave, at Falmouth, and made
inquiries about the Grove Hill Leonardo,^ so of

1 Supposed to be an original sketch for the picture of the Last
Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci, and now in the possession of Robert
Fox at Falmouth.


course we asked them to come and see it ; and thus
we had a visit of two glorious hours both here and
in the other garden. As Tennyson has a perfect
horror of being Honised, we left him very much to
himself for a while^ till he took the initiative and
came forth, apropos of the Leonardo, he said that
the Head of Christ in the Raising of Lazarus was
to his mind the worthiest representation of the sub-
ject which he had ever seen. His bright, thoughtful
friend, Francis Palgrave, was the more fond of
pictures of the two: they both delighted in the
little Cuyp and the great Correggio; thought the
Guido a pleasant thing to have, though feeble
enough ; believed in the Leonardo, and Palgrave
gloated over the big vase. On the leads we were
all very happy and talked apace. " The great T."
groaned a little over the lionising to which he is
subject, and wondered how it came out at Falmolith
that he was here — this was apropos of my speaking
of Henry Hallam's story of a miner hiding behind a
wall to look at him, which he did not remember ;
but when he heard the name of Hallam, how his
great grey eyes opened, and gave one a moment's
glimpse into the depths in which " In Memoriam"

learnt its infinite wail. He talked a good deal of
VOL. II. s


his former visit to Cornwall, and his accident at
Bude, all owing to a stupid servant-maid. In the
garden he was greatly interested, for he too is trying
to acclimatise plants, but finds us far ahead, because
he is at the western extremity of the Isle of Wight,
where the keen winds cut up their trees and scare
away the nightingales in consequence. But he is
proud and happy in a great magnolia in his garden.
He talked of the Cornish, and rather liked the con-
ceit of their countryism ; was amused to hear of the
refractory Truro clergyman being buried by the
Cornish miners, whom he forbade to sing at their
own funeral ; but he thought it rather an unfor-
tunate instance of the civilising power of Wesley.
By degrees we got to Guinevere, and he spoke kindly
of S. Hodges' picture of her at the Polytechnic, '
though he doubted if it told the story very distinctly.
This led to real talk of Arthur and the " Idylls,"
and his firm belief in him as an historical personage,
though old Speed^s narrative has much that can be
only traditional. He found great difficulty in recon-
structing the character, in connecting modern with
ancient feeling in representing the Ideal King. I
asked whether Vivien might not be the old Brittany
fairy who wiled Merlin into her net, and not an


actual woman, " But no/' he said ; " it is full of
distinct personality^ though I never expect women
to like it." The river Camel he well believes in,
particularly as he slipped his foot and fell in the
other day, but found no Excalibur. Camel means
simply winding, crooked, like the Cam at Cam-
bridge, The Welsh claim Arthur as their own, but
Tennyson gives all his votes to us. Some have
urged him to continue the " Idylls," but he does
not feel it expedient to take people's advice as an
absolute law, but to wait for the vision. He reads
the Reviews of his Poems, and is amused to find
how often he is misunderstood. Poets often mis-
interpret Poets, and he has never seen an Artist
truly illustrate a Poet. Talked of Garibaldi, whose
life was like one out of Plutarch, he said, so grand
and simple; and of Ruskin as one who has said
many foolish things; and of John Sterling, whom
he met twice, and whose conversational powers he
well remembers.

Tennyson is a grand specimen of a man, with
a magnificent head set on his shoulders like the
capital of a mighty pillar. His hair is long and
wavy, and covers a massive head. He wears a
beard and moustache, which one begrudges as hid-


ing so much of that firm, powerful, but finely
chiselled mouth. His eyes are large and grey, and
open wide when a subject interests him ; they are
well shaded by the noble brow, with its strong
lines of thought and suffering. I can quite under-
stand Samuel Laurence calling it the best balance
of head he had ever seen. He is very brown after
all the pedestrianising along our south coast.

Mr. Palgrave is charmingly enthusiastic about
his friend ; if he had never written a line of Poetry,
he should have felt him none the less a Poet ; he
had an ambition to make him and Anna Gurney
known to each other as kindred spirits and of
similar calibre. We grieved not to take them to
Penjerrick, but they were engaged to the Truro
river ; so, with a farewell grasp of the great brown
hand, they left us.

September 28. — Holman Hunt and his big artist
friend, Val Prinsep, arrived, and we were presently
on the most friendly footing. The former is a very
genial, young-looking creature, with a large, square,
yellow l^eard, clear blue laughing eyes, a nose with
a merry little upward turn in it, dimples in the
cheek, and the whole expression sunny and full
of simple boyish happiness. His voice is most


musical^ and there is nothing in his look or bearing,
spite of the strongly-marked forehead, to suggest
the High Priest of Pre-Raphaelitism, the Ponderer
over such themes as the Scape-goat, the Light of
the World, or Christ among the Doctors, which
is his last six years' work. We went to Grove
Hill, and he entirely believes in the Leonardo
being an original sketch, especially as the head of
our Lord is something like that of one of Leonardo's
extant studies ; he is known to have tried many,
and worked up one strongly Jewish one, but not
of a high type, which at last he rejected. Holman
Hunt entirely agrees with F. D. Maurice about
the usual mistaken treatment of St. John's face,
which was probably more scarred with thought
and inward conflict than any of the other Apostles,
and why he should have ever been represented with
a womanish expression is a puzzle to him. At
the early period of Art they dared not step beyond
conventional treatment. He spoke of Tennyson
and his surprise at the spirited, suggestive little
paintings of strange beasts which he had painted
on the windows of his summer-house to shut out
an ugly view. Holman Hunt is so frank and open,
and so unspoiled by the admiration he has excited ;


he does not talk " shop/' but is perfectly willing to
tell you anything you really wish to know of his
painting, 8cc. He laughed over the wicked libel
that he had starved a goat for his picture, though
certainly four died in his service, probably feeling
dull when separated from the flock. The one
which was with them by the Dead Sea was better
off for food than they were, as it could get at the
little patches of grass in the clefts ; still it became
ill, and they carried it so carefully on the picture-
case ! but it died, and he was in despair about
getting another white one. He aimed at giving
it nothing beyond a goat's expression of counte-
nance, but one in such utter desolation and solitude
could not but be tragic. Speaking of lionising,
he considers it a special sin of the age, and specially
a sin because people seem to care so much more
for the person doing than for the thing done.

October 5. — We have had Miss Macaulay here.
Lord Macaulay's sister ; a capital clear - headed
woman, with large liberal thoughts and great ease
in expounding them. We had so many people as
well as subjects in common, that we greatly en-
joyed her visit. Robertson of Brighton was her
Pastor, and of him she talked with intelligent


enthusiasm, sadly confirming the fact of his isola-
tion in the great social system. She talked a little
of her brother ; his earliest printed poem was on
the death of Henry Martyn, written when he was
eleven, but he had before that composed an Epic
in honour of the reputed head of their house. All
his MS. used to pass through her hands. She has
a strong, thoughtful face, with a good deal of
humour in it and much tenderness.

Penjerrick, December 15. — Baron Bunsen is gone ;
illness had brought him so low that his friends
could only long that he might be delivered from
his weary pain — but how much has gone with him ?
The funeral was a very touching and striking one ;
first his sons carried the coffin, and then the Bonn

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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 14 of 19)