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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long, containing eight miles of tables. He is a
clear-headed Scotchman, w^ho sees into and round
his subject, and has the talent of making other
people also say what they really mean.

( 159 )


" I'm never merry when I hear sweet music." — SHAKESPEARE.

London, May 24. — Visited Ernest and Elizabeth
de Bunsen at Abbey Lodge, their pretty house in
Regent's Park. They gave us breakfast at eleven,
the little Fritz and Hilda acting as kellners. They
are soon expecting Kestner, the Hanoverian Minister
at Rome, the son of Goethe's Charlotte ; he is a
genial and kindly man. Abeken is now Under-
Secretary of State at Berlin, for he felt that Theo-
logy u'as not his vocation, and he saw no duty in
perpetuating an early mistake through life. He is
so able that everything is referred to him. His
look and address are quite repellingly uncouth,
but reach his mind or heart and you are fas-

May 27. — Drove to the Lloyds and found the
dear old Chevalier Neukomm there. We had a
capital talk. He is an adept in all the sciences


of the imagination^ including phrenology, mesmer-
ism, and homoeopathy, and talked with earnest zeal.
The lastingness of an individual conviction is with
him a pledge for its truth.

Whilst dining at Uncle David's, Captain Barclay
of Ury 1 walked in. He is so striking a Fact in
the family, that one is very glad to have realised
it whilst it lasts. It is a decrepit Fact now,
for an illness has much broken him down, but
there is a slow quiet Scotch sagacity in his look
and manner which declares him quite up to his
present business in London, viz., selling a vast
grey horse. His conversation was not memorable,
but his great strength was never supposed to lie
in that direction. He looks now upwards of

May 30. — Dined with the Priestmans. John
Bright was there, fighting his Parliamentary battles
over again like a bull-dog. It was quite curious
to watch his talk with his quiet father-in-law.

June I. — Anna Braithwaite told us of her last
interview with William W^ordsworth : he spoke of
having long had a great desire for Fame, but that

^ Captain Barclay of Ury, the celebrated pedestrian.


that had now all ceased^ and his sole desire was
to become " one of the poor in spirit " whom our
Lord had declared to be blest.

June 4. — A charming story of F. Cunningham,
coming in to prayers, just murmuring something
about his studv being on fire, and proceeding to
read a long chapter, and make equally long com-
ments thereupon. When the reading was over
and the fact became public, he observed, " Yes, I
saw it was a little on fire, but I opened the window
on leaving the room ! "

/line 5. — Attended a Ragged School ]Meeting;
Lord Kinnaird in the chair, instead of Lord Ashley
(who has become Lord Shaftesbury by his father's
death). A great deal of good sense was spoken,
and encouraging stories told. Dr. Gumming was
on the platform, and made an admirable speech,
with perfect ease, choice language, and excellent
feeling, so as to modify my prejudice against him
most notably. He spoke on the mischief of con-
troversy, except in such countries where Error was
the law, Truth the exception ; and spoke up for
the high affirmative course in all possible cases.
Described the origin and progress of the Ragged
Schools in his parish, and asked the audience for



,^€'500, assuring thcni that at his chapel he always
got what he asked for, large sums just as easily as
small ones ; the great thing being to ask boldly,
and you are paid boldly. He is a younger man
than I had expected — about thirty-six, with dark
hair and eyes, rather Jewish, wearing spectacles,
and very enerijetic in voice and manner.

June 7. — A bright dinner at Abbey Lodge.
Kestner was there ; a dry, thin gentleman of the
old school, who looks as if he had had his romance
done for him long before his birth. He has a most
interesting correspondence between his mother and
Goethe, who had greatly admired and loved her,
but as she was betrothed to his friend, he had the
prudence to retire from the great peril he felt
himself in ; and even after her marriage he left
Frankfort whenever they were coming there. These
experiences, and the awful death of a friend who
had not been so self-controlled, were combined
into the Wertherian romance. But of all this
Kestner said nothing; he is quite happv when
talking of his six Giottos, the gems of his collec-
tion. He says he has learnt English in the best
way, namely, by mixing in the best English Society.
The Chevalier and Madame Bunsen were there,


also George de Bunsen the Philologist, Dr. I'auli,
Amelia Opie, and others. The Chevalier and Dr.
Pauli were my dinner comrades, of whose discourse
I remember some fragments. I asked Bunsen's
opinion of the Papal Aggression stir which has
been raging in England. He said, ^' That the
Roman scheme is such an one as would not be
submitted to for a moment in other countries, but
simply on the ground of politics, not of religion ; it
is our lack of Faith which is inconveniently brought
home to us by questions of this sort, and we rebel
against the inference rather than the fact that
systematising a black and white theology is a sub-
stitute for Faith, not an evidence of it. You are
excellent people, but very material ; you are afraid
to give yourselves up to any teaching but what has
existed on parchment for hundreds of years ; if an
angel brought you a new truth direct from Heaven,
you would not believe it till it was successfully
copied on the parchment : no, you are excellent
people, but you terribly want Faith. You are
afraid of Reason and oppose it to Faith, and
accordingly miss them both." I pleaded that thev
had given us such a fright in Germanv bv their
speculative vagaries, that we had fallen back in


despair on our practical existence. "Ah^ yes/'
he answered^ '^we gave you a great fright in the
time of Henry VTII.j didn't we? No! the fact is
that ReHgion is not a subject which deeply interests
you ; you are thoroughly practical^ and practical
politics are what engage your thought. Now in
Germanv, when thoughtful men meet casually, they
soon get to talking on Religion and Theology : we
talk of it because we think it the most interesting of
subjects : you at once fall upon politics because they
are the deepest interests to you. Sometimes we get
into extravagant views of religion, but your extra-
vagance turns to Jacobinism — a very characteristic
national difference. You in England so little re-
cognise an overruling Providence as directing the
thoughts as well as the acts of men." I asserted
our absolute belief in a Providence legible in all
history. " Oh yes/' he said, " you believe in a
Providence which prevents your catching colds, but
not in one continuous luminous Guide. You con-
demn research in religious affairs, and are accord-
ingly to be congratulated on a most irrational
Faith. Your Society of Friends has done much
good, and its Founders have said many admirable
things, but it wants vitality. I am very fond of


them, but I must speak the truth as I find it.
Your great peril is an idolatry of the form of
formlessness, instead of trusting the Living Spirit.
But vou are of vast practical importance, and will
still do much if you will but keep clear of the
traditional spirit of the age." Dr. Pauli is Just
bringing out a Life of our Alfred : he has found
some verv precious MSS. concerning him at Oxford,
many of his translations from monkish Latin poems,
w'hich were evidently first translated for him into
easy Latin ; and one original poem, a Thanksgiving
(I think) for the coming of St. Augustine and the
introduction of Christianity into England ; in which
his arrival, &c., is minutely described. I suggested
the propriety of an English translation being pub-
lished at the same time, when both mv gentlemen
waxed very scornful concerning the reading public
in England. No one would read it unless it had
some such title as, " Alfred the Great, or the Papal
Aggression Question Considered," or unless it had
pictures of the costumes of the people running down
amongst the letterpress ! Dr. Pauli has lately been
in Germany, and was grieved at heart to find the
state of things there. Politics have become terribly
earnest, and split up families even to the death ; for


they all believe themselves on the eve of a frightful
struggle, and accordingly adjourn all peace questions
till they have their fight out. They grieve over the
weakness of their King in not having accepted the
somew^hat democratic Crown which was offered him;
now they are all under the irresponsible despotism
of the Princes, The Chevalier is interested in
appending an Infant Asylum to his German Hos-
pital, where nurses may be taught their duties, and
the plan will, he hopes, spread through England.
They now limit the services of the Kaiserwerth
Sisters to two years, and arrange for their being
greatly relieved at night ; for the dear good Fliedner
forgets that human creatures are made up of body
and soul, and would totallv sacrifice the former.
The Bunsens have been deep in Mesmerism. The
Chevalier's theory of the mesmeric power is, that
it silences the sensuous and awakens the super-sen-
suous part of our nature ; a sort of faint shadow of
Death, which does the same work thoroughly and
for ever. George de Bunsen afterwards gave me
some of his own mesmeric experiences ; he is a rigid
reasoner and extorter of facts. I forget the three
absolute laws which he has satisfactorilv established,
but here is an experience of his own : — When he


went to college and studied Greek history, he learnt
that a book of Aristotle's on the politics of his own
time was lost. He mused on this fact, and pined
after the missing book, which would have shed such
light on his studies. It became a perpetual haunt-
ing thought, and soon his air castle was the finding
of this book. He would be for ever romancing on
the subject, getting into a monasterv, finding it
amidst immense masses of dusty books and parch-
ments, then making plans for circumventing the
monks, rescuing the treasure. Sec, &;c. Just after
this excitement had been at its maximum, he re-
ceived a letter from a friend, telling that he had
been consulting a clairvoyante about him, who had
seen him groping amongst dusty parchments in the
dark. It seems to have established a firm faith in
his mind in the communication of spirit with spirit
as the real one in mesmerism. His opposite class
of facts was thus illustrated : — When his father was
with his King and our ^ueen at Stolzenfels, he
wanted to know something about him, and accord-
ingly mesmerised a clairvoyante, and sent her in
spirit to the castle. "Do you see my father?"
" No, he is not there." " Then go and look for
him." At lenujth she announced havinsi; found him


sitting with an elderly lady. George de Bunsen
could not conceive him anywhere but at Stolzen-
fels, till the thought struck him, he may have gone
to Karlsruhe to see his sister ; so he asked, '^ It is a
very neat, regular-looking town, is it not, and the
houses new ? " and asked particulars of the room in
which he thoudit his aunt likelv to be found.
" No, nothing of the sort ; an old town, an old
house, and an old lady." She gave many details
which he could make nothing of, and gave up the
geographical problem in despair. In a few days a
letter from his father arrived, saying that the King
had taken a fancy to go somewhere in a steamer,
and had asked Bunsen to accompany him. This
brought him within a moderate distance of another
sister, whom he had previously had no idea of visit-
ing, and so he was actually with her at the time of
the clairvoyance. Ernest and George de Bunsen
sang gloriously : at one time they were nightingales,
the one merry, the other sentimental ; but George
de Bunsen's ''Wanderer" was beyond all compare.
Ford, the writer of the Handbook of Spain, joined
the party. A son of Brandis was there, quiet and
silent as a statue ; and the dear old Chevalier
Neukomm, who became rapt over the singing.

.?:tat. 32. yOURNALS OF CAROLINE FOX. 169

June 9. — Spent a charming evening at the Cheva-
lier Bunsen's. Thev were alone, and the Chevalier
talked much of their Universities as compared with
ours. His son is gone to-day to take his Doctor's
degree, which is just a certificate that he is able to
lecture on subjects of philosophy, history, and philo-
logv. He is much amused to think how little the
English Universities educate for the times we live
in, though he rejoices in some of the reforms at
Cambridge and Dublin, and wishes all success to
the Government Commission. But the spirit of
the evening was Neukomm. The inventor of a
silvery lute of some sort came to introduce his in-
strument, and its breathings were indeed exquisite ;
and very marvellous was it, when the two musicians
improvised together, just taking the '' Ranz des
Vachcs" as a motive, to hear how they blended
their thoughts and feelings in true harmony. But
I was glad when the flute was silent and Neukomm
poured out his own heart through the voice of the
organ. He led one whither he would, through
regions of beauty and magnificence, and then through
quiet little valleys, where nothing could be heard
but the heart's whisper — so pure, so tender, you
leant forward to catch what it said ; and then you


were carried onward into a spirit world, where all
around 'Svere such things as dreams are made of."
And then such a swell of harmony, such exulting
strains, would bespeak the presence and the triumph
of some great Idea, revealing to man more of him-
self and of his Maker. Then again that trembling
voice, " Can He love such an one as I ? " And
then the final magnificent swell of sound, triumph-
ing over doubt and fear and weakness. I never
heard music without words say half as much as I
heard this evening ; but very likely I quite misin-
terpret its real meaning, for each one must translate
it for himself.

June II. — Went to the Associated Trades' Tea at
St. Martin's Hall. Our chairman, F. D. Maurice,
is at his post behind the urn, but he springs up to
welcome his friends. He seemed nervous, for there
was no arranged plan of the evening. In listen-
ing to the workmen's speeches, especially Walter
Cooper's (cousin to the author of the " Purgatory
of Suicides"), we could not help feeling very thank-
ful that such fiery spirits had been brought under
such high and holy influences, leading them to
apprehend self-sacrifice as the vital principle on
which all successful co-operation must be founded.


One hopeful feature in this associative experiment
is that they are prepared and expect to make mis-
takes in application, but the principles of sympathy
and self-sacrifice they hold by for ever. Arch-
deacon Hare was delighted at the spirit and genius
of some of the speakers ; there was so much of calm
practical wisdom, so much of applied Christianity,
humbly acknowledging its origin, as made it alto-
gether a deeply interesting and thankworthy occasion.
June 12. — Went to Thackeray's lecture on the "Hu-
morists" at Willis's Rooms. It was a very large
assembly, including Mrs. Carlyle, Dickens, Leslie,
and innumerable noteworthy people. Thackeray is
a much older-looking man than I had expected ; a
square, powerful face, and most acute and sparkling
eyes, greyish hair and eyebrows. He reads in a
definite, rather dry manner, but makes you under-
stand thoroughly what he is about. The lecture
was full of point, but the subject was not a very
interesting one, and he tried to fix our sympathy
on his good-natured, volatile, and frivolous Hero
rather more than was meet. " Poor Dick Steele,"
one ends with, as one began ; and I cannot see,
more than I did before, the element of greatness in


/jme 13. — We went to Faraday's lecture oti
"Ozone." He tried the various methods of making
Ozone which Schonbein has already performed in
our kitchen^ and he did them brilliantly. He was
entirely at his ease, both with his audience and his
chemical apparatus ; he spoke much and well f)f
vSchonbcin, who now doubts whether Ozone is an
element, and is disposed to view it simply as a con-
dition of oxvgen, in which Faraday evidently agrees
with him. The Duke of Northumberland was in
the chair.

June 27. — Saw George Wightwick, who, with
wife and other furniture, is just starting for Clifton
to live. He showed us two portraits of himself:
one by young Opie, so good that he savs if he saw
a fly on its nose he should certainlv scratch his
own ; the other by Talfourd, catching a momentary
passionate gleam of dramatic expression — a fine
abstraction. Talked of Macreadv and his retire-
ment from the stage to Sherborne, where he is in
perfect happiness, with wife and children, and all
joyousness. He begs Wightwick sometimes to tell
him something about theatrical matters, as he hears


CaroUtie Fox to Aunt Charles Fox.

" Penjerrick, July 19. — Anna ^Slaria says you wish
to see this book (Carlyle's ' Life of Sterling'), so here
it is. That it is calculated to draw fresh obloquy on
the subject of it, is a very secondary considerati(.)n
to the fact that it is a book likely to do much harm
to Carlyle's wide enthusiastic public. It is painful
enough to see the memorial of his friend made the
text for utterances and innuendoes from which one
knoivs that he would now shrink even more than
ever, and God alone can limit the mischief. But
He can. That the book is often brilliant and
beautiful, and more human-hearted than most of
Carlyle's, will make it but the more read, however
little the world mav care for the subject of the
memoir. The graphic parts and the portraiture
are generally admirable, but not by any means
always so; however, you will judge for yourselves."

Decemher 2,- — Great news stirring in that volcanic
Paris. The President has dissolved the Assembly
and appealed to the people and the army ; he esta-
blishes universal suffrage, and has arrested his poli-
tical opponents Cavaignac, Changarnier, Thiers,


and some thirty or forty others. The French world
seems quite dazzled by his audacity, and is quiet ; to
be sure, the streets are thickly guarded by military,
the opposition journals seized, and no political
meetings allowed. How will it end? Shall we
have a Cromwell Junior, or will blood flow there
again like water? One learns to give thanks for
being born in England.

December 29. — C, Envs told us of Sir John
Franklin, shortly before leaving home the last
time, lying on a sofa and going to sleep. Ladv
Franklin threw something over his feet, when he
awoke in great trepidation, saving, " Whv, there's
a flag thrown over me; don't vou know that thev
lav the Union Jack over a corpse ! "

( 175 )



" The welcome news is in the letter found,
It speaks itself."— Dkydhn.

Caroline Fox to Elizabeth T. Came.

" Penjerrick, April \^, Easter Tuesday. — I wish T
could as fullv enter into the conclusion of thy sen-
tence^ ' To nie Easter is an especially cheerful time
— a remembrance and a pledge of conquest over
death in every shape.' I wish I could a\\va.ys feel it
so ; for we may without presumption. But human
nature quails under the shadow of death, w^hen
those we dearly love are called iTcnce at even such
a time as this. And but one Easter Tuesday passed
between the departure of two most attached sisters
on this very day, and as it comes round year by
year the human sorrow ivill not be entirely quenched
in the resurrection joy.

'' Thanks many and warm for thy dear little
apropos-of-a-scold note : I so liked what thou said


of the caution which should always be observed in
writing, because I had never distinctly thought of
it before, and have been grieved at being taken
quite au pied de la let&e sometimes, when I meant
my lecture to have a smile and a kiss at each end,
and two in the middle.

"Excellent news,^ first from Vigo, t'.en from
Lisbon, has set our hearts a-dancing. They had
a long voyage, thanks to adverse winds, but suffered
far less than they or we had feared. They had
pleasant fellow- voyagers, and were able to read,
write, and draw, and digest deep draughts of Scan-
dinavian archaeology from the Portuguese Minister
to Denmark and Sweden, with whom they seem
to have fraternised. They were charmed with a
before six o'clock walk through Vigo, with the
Atlantic waves, with the entrance to Lisbon, the
massive cypress grove in the Protestant cemetery,
and their own flower-full garden and charming
lodgings. They have already received much kind-
ness, and are disposed to receive much more.

^ From her Father and his party, wlio had been deputed by a
Meeting of the Society of Friends to visit some members of the
Portuguese Government and urge their keeping the treaty with
England, in which they promised to prevent the Slave Trade in
their African Settlements, this promise being constantly evaded by
the Traders.


" Of Slavery matters more anon ; of course, there
is not much to report on vet, but things look cheerv
in some quarters."

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

"May II. — How pleasant it is to go on abusing
each other, instead of being alwavs on one's Ps and
Qs, with one's hair brushed and one's shoes on one's
feet. But was not that old Druid circle itself a
Faith-Institution in its day ? Only the idea has
developed (!) of late into Orphan Asylums and some
other things. Worship and Sacrifice those old
stones still witness to ; but now, instead of slaving
their children on the altar, a Higher than Thor or
Woden has taught His priests and priestesses to
rescue them and bid them live to Him. Still, there
was faith in an invisible and almighty Power, so
strong that they were willing to sacrifice their
dearest and their best to propitiate it. With them,
too, I suppose it was conceived as a question of
Vocation. The victim must be the appointed one ;
the day, the hour auspicious. Poor Druids ! and
Poor Us ! on the threshold of what confusion do we
stand continually, even with the Light of Heaven
shining clearly above us, and the Book of our Pil-



grimage in our hand. But we must be for ever
explaining and dogmatising and speaking of the
things of God in the words of man ; and so we have
to be rebuked for our presumption^ sometimes in
one way^ sometimes in another, but always so as
most effectually to humble our conceit, and make us
crave for others and for ourselves the indispensable
blessing of an ever-present Teacher and Guide."

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

"June 25. — . . . We have one of the best, if not
the absolutely best (excuse me), women in England
now staying with us — sound, clear-headed, thought-
ful, religious ; she has performed the difficult duties
of a sad-coloured life with thankful and cheerful
energy, and a blessed result in the quarter which
lay next her heart. Of course she is one of our
family, but any one might hug Louisa Reynolds,
for she is worthy of all honour and love. It may
be very stimulating or very humbling to come in
contact with such people, or, better still, it may lead
one to forget self for half an hour.

" There is a slight movement — such a slight one
thus far ! — for engaging a true friend for the navvies
who may be expected shortly to descend upon us.


They have been proved by analytic experhnent to
be human and malleable, and I trust it may be
arranged for a wise Christian man to continue to
carry on this class of experiment. . . . Are you in
for any election interests ? A curious Purity-experi-
ment is being tried here, which a good deal engages
speculative minds just now. The young candidate,
T. G. Baring, the subject or object of this experi-
ment, is very popular."

Caroline Fox to E. T. Came.

"August II. — But thou dost not absolutely forbid

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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 9 of 19)