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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"J. Marmozet."

Me?itone, March 5, 1867. — Called by appoint-
ment on Carlyle at Lady Ashburton's. He has
a sort of pavilion separate yet attached to her
villa, where he may feel independent. Found him
alone reading Shakespeare, in a long dressing-gown,
a drab comforter wrapped round and round his
neck, and a dark-blue cap on, for he had a cold.
He received us very kindly, but would untwist
his comforter, and take off his cap, and comb his
shaggy mane in honour of the occasion. He looks
thin, and aged, and sad as Jeremiah, though the
red is still bright in his cheek and the blue in his
eye, which seems to be set more deeply than ever ;
there is a grim expression in his face, which looks
solemn enough.

First he launched out, I think, on the horrors of
the journey, " I should never have come but for
Tyndall, who dragged me off by the hair of mv


head, so to speak, and flung me down here, and
then went his way. He had better have left me
alone with my misery.^ Pleasures of travelling!
In that accursed train, with its devilish howls and
yells driving one distracted ! " " But cannot you
read in travelling ? " " Read ! No ; it is enough
for me to reflect on my own misery; they ought
to give you chloroform as you are a living creature."
Then of the state of England and the Reform Bill :
" Oh ! this cry for Liberty ! Liberty ! which is just
liberty to do the Devil's work, instead of binding
him with ten thousand bands, just going the way
of France and America, and those sort of places ;
why, it is all going downhill as fast as it can go,
and of no significance to me ; I have done with it.
I can take no interest in it at all, nor feel any sort
of hope for the country. It is not the Liberty to
keep the Ten Commandments that they are crying
out for — that used to be enough for the genuine
Man — but Liberty to carry on their own prosperity,

^ Airs. Carlyle died April 1866. "With some of the highest
gifts of intellect and the charm of a most varied knowledge of
books and things, there was something beyond, beyond." — Forster's
" Life of Dickens," vol. iii. p. 277.


as they call it, and so there is no longer anything
genuine to be found ; it is all shoddy. Go into
any shop you will and ask for any article, and ye'll
find it all one enormous lie. The country is going
to perdition at a frightful pace. I give it about fifty
years yet to accomplish its fall."

Spoke of Gladstone: "Is not he a man of prin-
ciple ? " " Oh, Gladstone ! I did hope well of him
once, and so did John Sterling, though I heard he
was a Puseyite and so forth ; still it seemed the
right thing for a State to feel itself bound to God,
and to lean on Him, and so I hoped something
might come of him ; but now he has been declaim-
ing that England is in such a wonderfully prosper-
ous state, meaning that it has plenty of money in
its breeches' pockets and plenty of beef in its great
ugly belly. But that's not the prosperity we want.
And so I say to him, ' You are not the Life-giver
to England ; I go my way, you go yours, good
morning' (with a most dramatic and final bow).
Which times were the most genuine in England ?
Cromwell's? Henry VHI.'s? Why, in each time
it seems to me there was something genuine, some
endeavour' to keep God's commandments. Crom-
well's tinie was onlv a revival of it. But now


things have been going down further and further
since George III."

A Httle knock at the door, and a lady in black
appeared and vanished, which was a signal that
Lady Ashburton was going presently, but he said she
wished to see us first, as she was going to see the
Bunsens at Florence. He liked to hear of the Ster-
lings, and of our being all near together in Cornwall.
" I hav^e always," he said, " a sort of pious feeling
about Falmouth and about you all, and so had she
who is gone away from me, for all your kindness to
John Welsh ; you couldn't do a greater kindness
than all you did for him and his mother. He was
a true, genuine man ; give him anything to do,
and you may be sure it was well done, whether it
was to be seen of human eye or no. He worked
hard, for the one unquestionable foremost duty he
felt was to raise his mother out of her troubles ; he
could see no other till that was done, and well
done, and he did it and died. I was once in Fal-
mouth harbour for two hours in an Irish steamer,
and I gave my card to a respectable-looking, sea-
faring sort of man, who promised to take it to your
late brother. I remember taking a leaf out of my
pocket-book and writing on it my regrets at not


being able to land." He spoke of the beauty of
this country, and specially of the view from the
bridge, which he must have crossed seventy times,
and the pleasure of the warmth and sunshine with
the blue sky clear above one, rather than the cold
and wet and mud of London. Then he took us to
Lady Ashburton, whose carriage was getting ready,
and we took leave of him.

Lady Ashburton's is a winning and powerful
face, with much intellectual energy and womanly
sweetness. She encouraged our coming again to
see Carlvle, thinking it quite a kindness to stir
him up. She was glad he had spoken of anything
with pleasure, " for/' she added, " I'm very fond of
the old man, and I did what I thought was for the
best, and I really hope he is the better for it in spite
of himself, though sometimes it seems as if it was
altogether a failure." Lady Ashburton goes to
Rome and will return here. She leaves "her one
treasure," an only little girl, and Carlyle under the
care of two good, kindly, wise-hearted ladies.

Caroline Fox to J. M. Sterl'mg.

" Mentone, March 17, 1867. — How these precious
memorials thicken ! and they don't lessen in value,


as Time rolls on but does not sweep away our
memories of the Past, which often seem the most
absolute of our earthly possessions. It is a hard
task to be patient with one's own dryness and
weariness of heart and lifelessness. I know every
inch of that road ; but spring leaves, and even
flowers may follow that deathlike winter ; and that
strange rest which feels like torpor of the spirit, is
also wisely appointed when the heart has been over-

" Mr. Carlyle is gone ; we only saw him once
more, and then I thought his 'Good-bye' so im-
pressive that it felt like parting, and when we called
again he was gone. I was so interested to see how
the true man came out when he talked of you — he
had been grim in his views of England and things
in general, but then the sympathy and tenderness
shone out of him, and he dwelt on kindred themes
in his own noblest spirit. I am very glad to
have seen him again after an interval of many,
many years, though it makes one sad to think
of him — his look and most of his talk were so

" The manifold beauty of this place bewitches us,

and we are able to take long excursions on donkeys
VOL. II. u


amongst the mountains and quaintest of mountain
villages. The dear Father finds immense beds of
fossils, strangest strata, and bone caverns, to say
nothing of most glorious waves, and a bellows
which snorts forth its rush of waters, like a vast
walrus, through two nostrils. We had a picnic
at Roccabruna, in the olive grove behind that
grotesque place, in honour of a nice little Tuke's
birthday. It was a brilliant scene, with all the
bright children flitting about in the sunshine."

Caroline Fox to Charlotte O'Brien.

" Penjerrick, October 14, 1868. — We have just
had the John Brights staying with us, and enjoyed
it very much ; his conversation is so varied, he is so
simple and unreserved in telling one all manner of
things one wishes to hear about, and then there is
such downright manliness in the whole nature of
the man, which is refreshing in this rather feeble
age. How did you like him in your part of
Ireland ? Here he had nothing for the public,
though they wanted to present an address, but
would talk and read poetry until ten o'clock
to us.

"The Polytechnic took place the week before.


and proved quite a pleasant occasion. We had
various scientific people staying with us: — the
Glaishers, who had much to tell, both about bal-
loons and meteors ; Dr. Balfour Stewart, of the
Kew Observatory, who has gone on to look after
the branch observatories at Valentia and Dublin ;
then Frank Buckland was staying at my Uncle
Charles's, and you might have seen him in his
glory, lying on the pavement outside the drawing-
room door, with the three monkeys sprawling about
him. He gave a very amusing lecture one evening
on oysters and salmon. Since all these people left
we have had Mr. Opie (great nephew of a great
uncle !) painting a very successful portrait of my
dear Father, and now we are alone.

" It must have been delightful to get an experi-
enced sister to assist in the parish work, but don't
let them talk thee into joining a sisterhood.
Woman's work may be well done without all that
ceremony, and whilst there are wifeless brothers
with parishes to look after, I think it would be a
shame to turn deserter. This is very gratuitous
advice, for thou never gave a hint of such possible
change of raiment. Thou art gallant about the
Irish Church, in spite of thy ecclesiastical belono -


ings, and I should have great faith in the blessing
which would be granted to an act of justice — parti-
cularly when it threatens to involve a large amount
of self-sacrifice. But a calculated self-sacrifice
spoils all ; it loses its own blessing and the effect
on the community. I trust with thee that Parlia-
ment may be greatly enlightened as to the remedy
for Ireland^ in the wisest wav, of all the questions
which would have to be considered, if Gladstone's
aiito-da-fc should be accomplished."

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came, ivritten seven days
before Her Going Hence.

" Penjerrick, January 5, 1871. — And now, dear,
thank thee so much for that earnest pamphlet.
Thank thee for so bravely speaking out the con-
viction, which was doubtless given thee for the
good of others as well as thy own, that nothing
short of communion with our present Lord can
satisfy the immense need of man. How true that
we are so often fed with phrases, and even try some-
times to satisfy ourselves with phrases whilst our
patient Master is still knocking at the door. I
trust that the seed thou hast been faithfully sowine:


may lodge in fitting soil, and bring forth flowers and
fruit, to the praise of the Lord of the garden, and
to the joy of some poor little human creature with
whom He deigns to converse.

" In hopes of a happy meeting whenever the
fitting time may come, and with very loving wishes
for the new-born year, — Ever thine very lovingly,

" Caroline Fox."


Since the publicatio7i of the First Edition of Caroline
Fox's Journals, the orif^inal letters written from time to
time by John Stuai't Mill to Robert Barclay Fox, and
to which she refers in her Diaries, have been foutid at
Penjerrick, and, by the kind permissio7i of the late Mr.
Mill's Executrix and family, are here appended, otnitting
therefrom only stech domestic details as have no public


John Stuart Mill to Robert Barclay Fox.

Kensington, August 3, 1840.

My dear Friend, — Your letter came, and was most
welcome J and the same may be said of certain other
missives which I had the pleasure of despatching to
Guildford. It was very pleasant to be able to figure to
oneself your mode of existence at Penjerrick. I often
think one never knows one's friends, or rather, they are
not properly one's friends, until one has seen them in
their home, and can figure to oneself some part at least
of their daily existence. I am sure we all feel much
nearer to all of you by having become so familiar with
your local habitation, or I may say habitations, and with
so many of your haunts on that lovely coast, — how often
I fancy myself looking through the transparent spring air
across the lovely blue bay to Pennance, nor are remin-
iscences of Penjerrick either unfrequent or faint.

It is curious that your letter about Tocqueville and
Brown found me also occupied with both of them — re-
viewing the one, and reading the other once again after
an interval of many years. I have not, however, yet got
to his theory of the moral feelings ; and though I re-


member that I did not like it, and took great pains, as I
fancied quite successfully, to refute it, I cannot say I
remember what it is ; and so many of my philosophical
opinions have changed since, that I can trust no judgment
which dates from so far back in my history. My renewed
acquaintance with Brown shows me that I was not mis-
taken in thinking he had made a number of oversights ;
but I also see that he has even more than I formerly
thought of those characteristic merits which made me
recommend him as the best one author in whom to study
that great subject. I think you have described his book
by the right epithets, and I would add to them, that it
seems to me the very book from which to learn, both in
theory and by example, the true method of philosophising.
The analysis in his early lectures of the true nature and
amount of what we can learn of the phenomena of the
world, seems to me perfect, and his mode of inquiry into
the mind is strictly founded upon that analysis.

As for Tocqueville, I do not wonder that you should
find him difficulty for, in the first place, the philosophical
writers of the present day have made almost a new French
language ; and, in the next place, he is really abstruse. By
being so abstract, and, not sufficiently (especially in the
second part) illustrating his propositions, I find it tough
work reviewing him — much tougher than I expected,
especially as I was prevented from beginning so soon as I

So you are now all, or nearly all, reassembled ; and we
again see or fancy the family picture in its accustomed
and original frame. That is much, although not so much
as it would have been if we had not seen you in the
opposite circumstances of London, — I was going to say
the uncongenial circumstances, — but you are all so happily


constituted that no circumstances are uncongenial to you ;
still some are more congenial than others, and I can
fancy, for instance, that if you were standing beside
Sterling, in one of Raphael's stanze in the Vatican,
you would find the situation very congenial indeed. I
return the old Michelet, with my prayer that your
youngest sister, whom I have hardly yet forgiven for not
taking it, and who must by this time be weary of the
sight of it, will make haste to lay it up in some crypt of
her autograph cabinet, and let the world see no more of
it ; I trust she is satisfied, for I have now kept it till
another came.

The knowledge that an autograph of Guizot has pro-
bably reached you or will reach you from other quarters,
consoles me for not having one to offer ; for his invita-
tions to dinner are printed forms. I have dined with
him again, but one gets so little real conversation with
any one who has to attend to his guests. The last time
it was a most successfully made up party j I mean that
fortune was most propitious to me in particular, for of six
guests three were persons I always like to meet, and two
of the other three were the two persons I most wished to
meet— Thirl wall, with whom I renewed an acquaintance
of which the only event was a speech he made in reply
to one of mine when I was a youth of nineteen (it has
remained impressed upon me ever since, as the finest
speech I ever heard), and Gladstone, whom I had never
seen at all — and with both these I hope I have laid the
foundation of a further knowledge, especially as Thirlwall
will now be in town in Parliament time. How delighted
Sterling must be at finding him a bishop — but hardly
more so than I am. — Yours ever, J. S. Mill.


John Stuart Mill to Robert Barclay Fox.

I. H., November 2^, 1840.

My bear Friend, — It is very long since I either heard
from you or wrote to you, but the correspondence between
your sisters and mine, which is considerably more active
than ours, has kept up a sort of communication between
us, which, though very agreeable, I do not find entirely to
supply the place of direct correspondence. I am not, I
know, entitled to expect frequent letters while I show
myself so remiss in fulfilling my own part of the implied
contract between absent friends. But we people whose
whole life is passed in writing either to " our Governor-
General of India in Council," or to everybody's Governor-
General the English public, are, I believe, excusable if we
like better to receive letters than to write them.

I enclose a copy of a recent epistle of mine to the latter
of those great authorities. It will reappear as part of
two little volumes, which, although you already have
nearly all the contents of them, will some time or other
in the course of next year appear before you as suppliants
for a place on your shelf. About the same time I hope
to have finished a big book, the first draft of which I
put the last hand to a few weeks ago. I do not know
whether the subject of it will interest you, but as you
have been so much pleased with Brown, many of whose
views I have adopted, perhaps it may.

We have all of us been in great trepidation about the
state of affairs in Europe. It would have been too bad
if the two most light-headed men in Europe- — Palmerston
and Thiers — had been suffered to embroil the whole world,
and do mischief which no one now livinsr would have


seen repaired. I do not know which of the two I feel
most indignant with. The immediate danger is, I hope,
over, but the evil already done is incalculable. The
confidence which all Europe felt in the preservation of
peace will not for many years be re-established, and the
bestial antipathies between nations, and especially between
France and England, have been rekindled to a deplorable
extent. All the hope is that founded on the French
character, which, as it is excitable by small causes, may
also be calmed by slight things, and accordingly alternates
between resentment against England and Anglomania.
— With kind regards to all, ever faithfully yours,

J. S. Mill.

John Stuart Mill to Robert Barclay Fox.

Kensington, December 2^1^ 1840.
My dear Friend, — I return with many thanks what I
ought to have returned much sooner, the notes of the
Welsh sermon. It is a really admirable specimen of
popular eloquence, of a rude kind — it is well calculated
to go to the very core of an untaught hearer, I believe
there is much preaching of that character among the
Methodists, and more perhaps among their still wilder kin-
dred, the Ranters, &c. Do you know Ebenezer Elliot's
poem of the Ranter ? This might be such a man. I
believe even this does good when it really penetrates the
crust of a sensual and stupid boor, who never thought or
knew that he had a soul, or concerned himself about his
spiritual state. But in allowing that this may do good,
I am making a great concession ; for I confess it is as
revolting to me as it was to Coleridge, to find infinite
justice, or even human justice, represented as a sort of


demoniacal rage that must be appeased by blood and
anguish, but, provided it has that, cares not whether it
be the blood and anguish of the guilty or the innocent.
It seems to me but one step farther, and a step which in
spirit at least is often taken, to say of God what the
Druids said of their gods, that the only acceptable sacri-
fice to them was a victim pure and without taint. I
know not how dangerous may be the ground on which
I am treading, or how far the view of the Atonement
which is taken by this poor preacher may be recognised
by your Society, or by yourself j but surely a more Chris-
tian-like interpretation of that mystery is that which,
believing that Divine Wisdom punishes the sinner for the
sinner's sake, and not from an inherent necessity, more
heathen than the heathen Nemesis, holds, as Coleridge
did, that the sufferings of the Redeemer were (in accord-
ance with the eternal laws on which this system of things
is built) an indispensable means of bringing about that
change in the hearts of sinners, the want of which is
the real and sole hindrance to the universal salvation of

I marvel greatly at the accuracy of memory, which
could enable Mrs. Charles Fox to write down from recol-
lection so wonderfully vivid, and evidently almost liter-
ally correct, a report of this sermon. I know that Friends
cultivate that kind of talent, but I should think few
attain so high a degree of it.

The testimony of the Yearly Meeting I have read
with great interest, and though I had read several similar
documents before, I do not remember any in which the
peculiarities of the Society in reference to the questions
of Church government, &c., which agitate the present
day, are so pointedly stated and so vigorously enforced.


I am glad you like my article. I have just had a
letter from Tocqueville, who is more delighted with it
than I ventured to hope for. He touches on politics,
mourning over the rupture of the Anglo-French alliance ;
and as the part he took in debate has excited much sur-
prise and disapproval here, it is right to make known
what he professes as his creed on the matter — viz., that
if you wish to keep any people, especially so mobile a
people as the French, in the disposition of mind which
enables them to do great things, you must by no means
teach them to be reconciled to other people's making no
account of them. They were treated, he thinks, with so
great a degree of slight, (to say the least) by our govern-
ment, that for their public men not to show a feeling of
blessure would have been to lower the standard of
national pride, which in the present state of the world,
he thinks, almost the only elevated sentiment that
remains in considerable strength. There is really a great
deal in this, although it does not justify and scarcely
excuses the revival of the old national animosity, or even
the warlike demonstrations and preparations. A nation
can show itself otfended without threatening a vengeance
out of proportion to the affront, and which would involve
millions that never offended them with units that did,
besides ruining themselves in the end, or rather in the
beginning. And the tricky policy of Thiers, which is
like the whole character of the man, is not in the least
palliated by the offence given. But I do think it quite
contemptible in England to treat the bare suspicion of
France seeking for influence in the East as something
too horrible to be thought of, England meanwhile pro-
gressively embracing the whole of Asia in her own grasp.
Really to read our newspapers, any one would fancy such


a thing as a European nation acquiring territory and
dependent allies in the East were a thing never dreamt
of till France perfidiously cast a covetous eye on the
dominions of Mehemet Ali. I cannot find words to
express my contempt of the whole conduct of our
Government, or my admiration for the man who has
conjured away as much as was possible of the evil done,
and has attained the noblest end, in a degree no one else
could, by the noblest means. Of course, I mean Guizot,
who now stands before the world as immeasurably the
greatest public man living. I cannot think without
humiliation of some things I have written years ago of
such a man as this, when I thought him a dishonest
politician. I confounded the prudence of a wise man,
who lets some of his maxims go to sleep while the time
is unpropitious for asserting them, with the laxity of
principle which resigns them for personal advancement.
Thank God, I did not wait to know him personally in
order to do him justice, for in 1838 and 1839 ^ ^^^ ^^^^
he had reasserted all his old principles at the first time at
which he could do so with success, and without com-
promising what in his view were more important prin-
ciples still. I ought to have known better than to have
imputed dishonourable inconsistency to a man, whom I
now see to have been consistent beyond any statesman of

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