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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slave trade, long before the world had damned it
as a sin. The tender impartiality and the earnest
self-assertion, the loving pity for those who are


not ripe for Truth — all rounded off into a holv
feeling of thankfulness for clearer light — deeply re-
called his father's nohle and tender lines on poor

October 5. — We wandered forth hy the Lake, and
were overtaken hy a shower, and sheltered ourselves
in a shed. Hartley Coleridge saw us, and hegged
us to come into his cottage — "The Knhhe/' as he
endeavours to have it spelt. It was a snug little
room, well furnished wath books, writing affairs, and
MSS. Anna Maria said, in answer to some de-
precatory remark of his, " One might be very happy
here." " Or very misei-able," he answered, with such
a sad and terrible emphasis. He spoke with extreme
aversion of the kind of letters he has to write to his
own family, telling the state of his wardrobe even.
When he whites, he likes to write nonsense, or
anything that comes uppermost ; but to be chained
to a subject, and that subject Self, and to treat it in
a business-like manner — is intolerable. He has a
copy of Sterling's lines on S. T. Coleridge, and
admires them much. He read aloud to us Ster-
ling's " Lady Jane Grey." Then Anna Maria read
him Barclay's lines which arrived this morning,
"The Bridesmaids' Address to the Bride." He


admired them extremely^ read them twice to himself
afterwards^ and could make no suggestions. The
shower had cleared away, so we had no excuse for
staying, though there was nnich opening for in-
teresting and sober converse.

October 6. — Anna Maria and I paid a visit to
the Wordsworths. He was in great force, and
evidently enjoyed a patient audience. He wanted
to know how we came from Cornwall, which
naturally brought us to railroads and a short la-
ment over the one they mean to introduce here.
He grieves that the ravens and eagles should be
disturbed in their meditations, and fears that their
endeavours after lyric poetry will be checked.
However, he admits that railroads and all the
mechanical achievements of this day are doing
wonders for the next generation ; indeed, it is the
appropriate work of this age and this country, and
it is doing it gloriously. That anxious monev-
getting spirit which is a ruling principle in England,
and a passion and a law in America, is doing much
by exhausting itself; we may therefore look forward
with hopeful trust. Nothing excellent or remark-
able is done unless the doer lays a disproportionate
weight on the importance of his own peculiar


work ; this is the history of all sects^ parties, cliques,
and stock-jobbers whatsoever.

He discoursed on the utter folly of sacrificing
health to books. No book-knowledge in the world
can compensate you for such a loss ; nothing can
excuse your trifling with health except duty to God
or to your neighbour. All that is needful is to
understand your duty to God and to your neigh-
bour, and that you can learn from your Bible. He
heard with some indignation of Aunt Charles's
party having been at Kissingen. "Why don't they
take our own baths and not spend their money
abroad ? " Then we asked about his Solitary's
Valley — whether it had a real or only a poetical
existence? "Why, there is such a valley as I have
described in that book of the ' Excursion,' and there
I took the liberty of placing the Solitary." He
gave the outline of a beautiful tour for us amongst
the Lakes, and assured us that the guides would
not treat us to passages from the " Excursion," as
they probably did not know of the existence of
such a poem. Told him of our Wednesday evening
readings of the "Excursion." "I hope you felt
much the wiser for it when you had finished," he
said laughingly. When we told him who had been


the genius of those bright starry evenings, he said,
''^John SterHng ! Oh, he has written many very
beautiful poems himself; some of them I greatly
admire. How is he now ? I heard that he was
in poor health." When told. — " Dead ! " he ex-
claimed ; " that is a loss to his friends, his country,
and his age. A man of such learning and piety !
So he is gone, and Bowles and Rogers left, who are
so much older!" and the poor old man seemed really
affected. He said, "I was just going to have sent
him a message by you to say how much I had been
admiring his poetry." I read him the lines —

" Regent of poetic mountains,
Drawing from their deepest fountains
Freshness, pure and everlasting,
Wordsworth, dear and honoured name,
O'er thee pause the stars, forecasting
Thine imperishable fame " —

which he begged me to transcribe for him.

Wordsworth then spoke of having written to
Bowles on the death of his wife, and found that his
sympathy had been very welcome, though he had
feared that it would be all confusion in the mind
of the imbecile old man. It was Amy Fisher who
encouraged him to write. Spoke of her with en-


thusiasm: after what she wrote when a child, it was
impossible she could go on progressing; her poetry
was pure inspiration showered down direct from
heaven, and did not admit of any further perfection.
She is a very modest, womanly person, not allowing
herself to come forward in society, nor abandoning
herself to the eloquence of which he believes her
\'ery capable. Spoke of Archdeacon Hare as very
excellent and very learned ; more valued by Words-
worth for his classical than for his German attain-
ments. Talked of the effect of German literature
on the English mind: "We must wait to find out
what it is ; my hope is, that the good will assimilate
itself with all the good in the English character,
and the mischievous element will pass away like so
nuich else." The only special criticism which he
offered on German literature was, — "That they
often sacrifice Truth to Originality, and in their
hurry to produce new and startling ideas, do not
wait to weigh their worth. When they have ex-
hausted themselves and are obliged to sit down and
think, they just go back to the former thinkers, and
thus there is a constant revolution without their
being quite conscious of it. Kant, Schelling, Fichte;
Fichte, Schelling, Kant : all this is dreary work and


does not denote progress. However^ they have
much of Plato in them, and for this I respect them :
the EngHsh, with their devotion to Aristotle, have
but half the truth ; a sound philosophy must con-
tain both Plato and Aristotle." He talked on the
national character of the French and their equalising
methods of education: "It is all formal, military,
conventional, levelling, encouraging in all a certain
amount of talent, but cramping the finer natures,
and obliging Guizot and the few other men of real
genius whom God Almighty is too good to leave
them entirely destitute of, to stoop to the common
limits, and teach their mouths to flatter and con-
ciliate the headstrong, ardent, unthinking multitude
of ordinary men, who dictate to France through the
journals which they edit. There is little of large
stirring life in politics now, all is conducted for
some small immediate ends ; this is the case in
Germany as well as France. Goethe was amusing
himself with fine fancies when his country was in-
vaded ; how unlike Milton, who only asked himself
whether he could best serve his country as a soldier
or a statesman, and decided that he could fight no
better than others, but he might govern them better.
Schiller had far more heart and ardour than Goethe,


and would not^ like him, have professed indifference
to Theology and Politics, which are the two deepest
tilings in man — indeed, all a man is worth, in-
volving duty to God and to man."

He took us to his Terrace, whence the view is
delicious: he said, "Without those autumn tints
it would be beautiful, but with them it is exquisite."
It had been a wet morning, but the landscape was
then coming out with perfect clearness. " It is,"
he said, 'Mike the human heart emerging from
sorrow, shone on by the grace of God." We won-
dered whether the scenery had any effect on the
minds of the poorer people. He thinks it has,
though they don't learn to express it in neat phrases,
but it dwells silently within them. "How con-
stantly mountains are mentioned in Scripture as
the scene of extraordinary events ; the Law was
given on a mountain, Christ was transfigured on
a mountain, and on a mountain the great Act of
our Redemption was accomplished, and I cannot
believe but that when the poor read of these things
in their Bibles, and the frequent mention of moun-
tains in the Psalms, their minds fflow at the thouo-ht
of their own mountains, and they realise it all more
clearlv than others."


Thus ended our morning with Wordsworth.

October 8. — We went up to Wordsworth with
a copy of the "Beadroll of Scamps and Heroes"
for which he had asked. He was just going out, so
we joined him' in walking about the garden. He
was consulted about the lines of Dedication for
our Bride's Album, which Barclay had sent us —

" Living thoughts of mii^hly Dead
Through these leaves He scattered,
Writ in characters design'd
For the open heart and mind,
Shadowings of a high Ideal,
Half symbolic and half real,
Thoughts that breathe of Faith and Love,
Nurtur'd here, but born above ;
For howe'er misunderstood.
Still the Beautiful and Good,
Though distinct their channel's course,
Flow from one eternal Source.

Warm affection render dear

What thy Train have pencill'd here ;

If the fingers fail in skill,

Fond the hearts and great the Will :

Should our gift one thought inspire

Heavenward soaring, wing'd with fire ;

Bride, may it be thine to prove

Highest things are nearest Love."

He made only one criticism, and withdrew it
directlv on understandino; the line better. He


praised the verses^ and luade various gratifying in-
quiries about the dear writer. He brought us in to
see Mrs. Wordsworth, who was getting tea ready,
and then we had an affectionate parting.

The old man looks much aged ; his manner is
emphatic, almost perenij:)tory, and his whole de-
portment is virtuous and didactic.

( 45 )



" I could lie down like a tired child,
And weep away the life of care
Which I have borne and yet must bear."

— Shelley.

Falmouth, January i, — Life is ceaselessly repeating
itself, yet anvthing but monotony is the result.
The beginning of our New Year was an epitome
of our last year's experience — a marriage and a

January 13. — S. Rigaud, Lecturer from the Peace
Society, came to dinner ; he told us of an interview
with Louis Philippe, who expressed his strong sym-
pathy with the principle of Peace, declaring that
when he was in America he was often asked for a
toast, and always gave, " Universal Peace through-
out the World." He said that since he came to
the throne, he had been endeavouring to maintain
the peace of Europe, and had succeeded so far as
to make it improbable that war should be again
known, and that if he should be spared a few years


longer, he quite hoped to be able to make war
impossible ! Bravo ! most modest King.

January 18. — Charles Johns, the Botanist, spent
the morninii; with us. The earliest botanical fact
concerning him is, that a biscuit was given him
over which carraway seeds were sprinkled ; he
picked out the seeds, planted them, and waited,
alas ! vainly, for a crop of biscuits !

January 24. — A walk with Papa, in which he
bore his testimony to the depth, perseverance, and
far-seeing nature of the German mind in the way
of science. Gauss's theory of electricity is the
cosmopolitan one, but so transcendent as to be
almost beyond English comprehension. What is
understood of it is greatly applauded. But his
))olitical sentiments are so liberal that he is unable
to remain at Gottingen.

March 17. — Reading "Wilhelm Meister." It is a
marvellous book, with its "infinity of sharply drawn,
jierfectly distinct personalities; there is nothing in
the least ideal in it, unless, indeed, it is Mignon,
that warm, bright, pure, mysterious presence, which
tends to sanctify much, which much requires sancti-
iication. Wilhelm's weakness is indeed remarkable,
and the picture of German morals, if a true one,


shows that they want vet another Luther. The
book does not make one love the author more, but
you are ahnost startled at his cleverness and ferti-
lity, and often passages are extraordhiarily thought-

June 6. — Reading a brilliant book by a nameless
man — "Eothen, or Eastern Travel." Full of care-
less, easy, masterly sketches, biting satire, and proud
superiority to common report. It is an intellectual
egotism which he acknowledges and glories in. He
has remarkably freed himself from religious prepos-
sessions, and writes as he feels, not as he ought to
feel, at Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

June 12. — Spent the evening at Penmere, and
met Professor Airy.^ His subjects were principally
technical, but he handled them with evident power
and consciousness of power. Perhaps his look and
manner were sometimes a little supercilious, but his
face is a very expressive and energetic one, and
lights up with a sudden brightness whilst giving
lively utterance to clear expressive thoughts. He
spoke with evident astronomical contempt of the

^Airy (Sir George Biddell), Astronomer-Royal; born June 27,
iSoi, at Alnwick.


premature attempts of Geology to become a science ;
all but mathematically proved Truth seems to him
a tottering thing of yesterday. He delights in
the Cornish miners, whom he has long known,
and attributes their superior intelligence and in-
dependence partly to their having themselves an
interest in the mining speculations and adventures
of their employers — an arrangement unknown in
other parts. The virtues of the dousing-rod he
wholly attributes to the excitability of the muscles
of the wrist. He totally ignores all inhabitants
of the Moon, and says there is no more appear-
ance of life there than in a teacup. And he seems
to shun everything like undemonstrable hypotheses.
He says the difference which Herschel's telescope
makes in the appearance of the Moon is by giving
it shade, and therefore the globular, instead of the
flat look, which it has through ordinary glasses.
There was a comet visible this evening, but very
pale and hazy.

Note. — The following poem by John Sterling, written to
a friend of his youth, was published in Blackwood, and as it
appears in Caroline Fox's Journal for this year, it is here
reprinted, with the Editor of Blackwood's very kind permis-
sion : —



" Thy pure and lofty face,
And meditative smiles long years ago,
Return to me, how strangely, with the grace
Of quiet limbs, and voice attuned and low.

They come with thee, benign

And ever-sage Serena, whom no more

I hoped to see with outward eyes of mine

Than sunsets lost on boyhood's distant shore.

Though years have left their mark,
How calmly still thine eyes their beauty wear ;
Clear fountains of sweet looks, where nothing dark
Dwells hidden in the light unstain'd as air.

In manhood's noisier days.

When all around was tumult and excess,

I saw thy pure and undistracted gaze,

As something sent from Heaven to warn and bless.

And then with shame I sighed,
For 'mid the throng I rushed without a pause.
Nor had within me disavowed the pride
Of rash adventure and of men's applause.

But soon were we to part ;
I still to strive in throngs without release.
Thou to thy leafy village, where thy Heart
Poured blessings wide, repaid by tenfold Peace,

Yet often wert thou nigh.
As when a wanderer on the Indian Sea,


In sun-fire fainting, dreams with staring eye,
His English childhood's old o'ershadowing tree.

We spake of old, when Night
With candles would outblaze the rising Sun ;
When fairest cheeks, and foreheads hoary white,
Seemed all detected each itself to shun.

Now through this window note
The sycamores high built in evening's grey:
Whilst scarce a star can pierce, nor air can float
Through their soft gloom from ocean's glistening bay.

Nature is blent with man,
Its changeful aspects and its mild repose ;
And I could fancy in thy soul began,
The purple softness of this evening's close.

O joy ! again to meet.

Far gone in life, secure in wisdom's mood.

Two friends whose pulses temperately beat,

Yet feel their friendship Heaven's foretasted Good.

Accept my whispered praise,
O Nature ! and Thou holier Name than this.
Who sends to walk in earth's delirious ways.
Forms that the reckless fear, yet fain would kiss.

Goodness is great, O God !
When filling silently a humble breast ;
Its feet in darkness and disgust have trod
All noisome floors, to seek all pain supprest.


How more, when tranquil eyes,
Twin-born of Mercy, dwell upon the height,
Serena, far above our worldly skies,
Whence Life and Love o'erflow the Infinite.

Let us be glad, dear Friend,
And part in calm profound as midnight's hour,
Nor heed what signs in groaning earth portend,
For we have that within beyond its power ! "

J. S.

( 52 )


" What is man? A foolish baby ;

Vainly strives, and fights, and frets ;
Demanding all, deserving nothing ; —

One small grave is what he gets." — T. Carlyle.

Falmouth, January 4. — I have assumed a name
to-day for my religious principles — Quaker-Catho-
licism — having direct spiritual teaching for its dis-
tinctive dogma, yet recognising the high worth of
all other forms of Faith; a system, in the sense of
inclusion, not exclusion ; an appreciation of the
universal, and various teachings of the Spirit,
through the faculties given us, or independent of

February 10. — Mrs. Barnicoat told us funny re-
miniscences of servitude in Bath and Weymouth :
in the former place, servants are treated like
Neddies ; at the latter, she was engaged by the
Royal Hotel to cut bread-and-butter for the Royal
Family, who would take tea there every Sunday


at six o'clock. She was particularly endowed for
this service, being able to give each slice a bit of
curl, highly satisfactory to Majesty. One evening
when she chanced to be out, the plates of bread-
and-butter went in flat, and came out as they
went in.

February 18. — Teaching in Infant School. By
way of realising a lecture on affection and gratitude
to parents, I asked each of the little class what one
thing they had done for their mothers that morn-
ing; and I confess I felt humbled and instructed
to discover that one of these tiny creatures had
worked some pocket-handkerchief, another lighted
the fire, another helped to lay the breakfast, whilst
most of them had taken part in tending the baby
whilst mother was busy.

March 18. — Papa zealously defended this age
from the charge of languor. He thinks there never
was such activity — so much so, that men live twice
as long now as formerly, in the same number of
years. In mechanics, in shipping, in commerce, in
book-making, in education, and philanthropy, this
holds good.

London, May 17. — To Samuel Laurence's studio
to be drawn. Admirable portraits in his rooms of


Harc^ Tennyson, Carlyle, Aubrey de Vere, and
others. Of Laurence himself, more anon. Saw
the Mills afterwards, who were infinitely cordial,
and John Mill most anxious that we should come
and see them in the spirit of self-mortification.

May 18. — Interesting time with Laurence,
Tennyson strikes him as the strongest-minded man
he has known. He has much enjoyed F. D.
Maurice's sittings lately, and dwelt especially upon
the delicate tenderness of his character. Went to
South Place to luncheon, and met Dean Trench
there — a large melancholy face, full of earnestness
and capacity for woe. Under a portrait of himself
he once found the name " Ugolino " written, he
looked so starved. He spoke of the two Newmans,
who are alike in person, and he sees a likeness in
their intellectual results.

Called on the Derwent Coleridges at St. Mark's.
Spoke of F. D, Maurice : whatever country clergy-
men may think of him, he is appreciated in London
and recognised as a Leader in the exposition of
fundamental eternal Truth. He feels the likeness
between Maurice's method and aim and that of
S. T. Coleridge, and devoutly loves it accordingly.

May 19. — In the evening enter F. D. Maurice,


who spent two or three hours with us in varied
conversation. Of the Newmans : he thinks John
Henry has far more imagination than Frank, He
(Maurice) was so Httle prepared for John's last
change, that he hardly feels sure it will now be a
final one. Of Bunsen's " Church of the Future : "
he says it is in part a defence from the German
charge that he would bring Episcopacy into his
Fatherland ; by this book he proves himself a Ger-
man Lutheran in the ordinary sense, valuing Epis-
copacy, but not deeming it essential, and, in the
Arnold spirit, recognising the priesthood of every
man. Talked of the Duke of Wellington, in whom
he considers the idea of Duty to be so strong and
constant as to alone make him emphatically a great
man. The other day Rogers remarked to the Duke,
" How is it that the word Glory never occurs in
your despatches ? " " Oh ! " he replied, " Glory is
not the cause but the consequence of Action."
F. D. Maurice then spoke of Carlyle's "Cromwell,*'
in which he rejoices: the editorial labour in it is
enormous ; there was such confusion, now brought
into perfect clearness by different punctuation and
an occasional connecting word.

May 23. — To the College of Surgeons, where we


found Professor Owen enjoying his Museum. On
looking at the Dodo, he said that he beheves the
Dutch, on their way to Amboyna, used to call at
New Zealand and lay in a stock of these birds ;
that the poor natives used themselves to eat them,
and when they were all gone, they were reduced to
feed on each other. He talked genially about
Cromwell : long since he had founded a high
notion of him from Milton's Sonnet, which he once
triumphantly repeated to a party who were con-
sidering the propriety of erecting Cromwell's Statue,
as a monument likely to outlast the House of Com-
mons and most other tangibilities. He has been
recently staying with the Prince de Canino in
Rome, amongst the relics of his uncle, the great

May 28. — To the Coleridges' examination by
Milman ; he is a man with great black eyebrows,
and a strongly expressive countenance, displaying
more of strength than sensibility, more of the critic
than the poet.

May 29. — Went to the Mills. John Mill pro-
duced Forbes's book on the Glaciers, and descanted
thereon with all the enthusiasm of a deep love.
Talked of Blanco White, whom he once met at


dinner. He did not seem a powerful man^ but full
of a morbid conscientiousness. None who knew
him could avoid thinking mildly of him, his
whole nature was so gentle and affectionate. As to
Cromwell, he does not always agree with Carlyle,
who tries to make him out ever in the right. He
could not justify the Irish Massacres, though he
fully believes that Cromwell thought it was right,
as a matter of discipline, or he would not have done
it. Mill says that he scarcely ever now goes into
society, for he gets no good there, and does more
by staying away.

/une 2. — Called on the Maurices. He talked of
Emerson as possessing much reverence and little
humility ; in this he greatly differs from Carlyle.
He gave me, as an autograph, a paper on the philo-
sophy of Laughter ; he thinks it always accompanied
with a sense of power, a sudden glory. From this
he proceeded to dilate on Tears, and then to the
triumph over both.

June 3. — Paid the Carlyles a visit. He looks thin
but well, and is recovering from the torment of the
sixty new Cromwell letters : he does not mean to
take in any more fresh ones on any terms. He

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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 3 of 19)