Thursday, February 23, 2006

29Oct1857, A Fire

HAWARDEN, October 29th, 1857.
—The much-loved, time-honoured old mother church was set on fire between three and four in the morning, and before the afternoon was destroyed with the exception of the walls, tower, and chancel windows and stalls. The whole of the nave and aisle roofs fell in, and the chancel one will have to come down. The W. window, stone work and all, is destroyed ; the tracery of the others still stands ; all the glass shivered, except in the chancel. Miss S. awoke me at about 1/2 past 5 to tell me, news having been sent to the Castle of it. We scrambled on to the leads of the house, and from thence saw the red glow beating high into the sky above the trees. Before 7 1/2 we went to see. The flames were then being subdued, but the whole floor of the body of the church was a mass of burning beams and red-hot ashes : the columns blackened and stripped of their plaster (a good thing, by the way), the last of the nave rafters burning away in its place across the top of the chancel, and the broken mullions of the W. window alone remaining, the font a shapeless ruin, the roof of the chancel, which still stood, smouldering and occasionally breaking out into flame, the fire-engine fizzing, roaring, rushing, spouting, drenching, a line of schoolboys passing buckets, rather enjoying the fun, an excited crowd all round ; the beautiful Memorial windows looking down upon the wreck serene and unmoved in the morning light, and the old clock melodiously chiming the quarters as if nothing had happened. While we stood on the tombstones bouche bĂ©ante, the last rafter gave way, and fell amid showers of sparks. Uncle Henry and Mr. Troughton were busy on the top of the chancel wall hauling up buckets, in the hope of saving the roof. The S. chancel aisle roof is saved. Uncle Stephen was there, almost niobe, as was Uncle H. ; Molly Glynne pink and green with dismay ; Miss Brown with her gown and shawl over her night-gown ; Mr. Brewster with his white hair in indescribable confusion, looking like a wild foreigner ; old Bennett helplessly wringing his hands. The engine was kept playing incessantly about the chancel, and at last the fire in the roof was put out, but not before the beams were charred and wasted, and the intermediate spaces done for. Then there was an alarm about the tower floor, the principal beam of which seemed almost self-supported, and true enough while they were spouting at it, crash came part of it, and nearly smashed young Waldegrave Brewster. We picked up particulars as we looked on, and later. The Grammar School master was roused a little after 4 by his dog barking, and saw flames breaking out of the W. window. He rapidly alarmed the village, Mr. Br. among the rest, who instantly sent to Chester for the fire brigade, which arrived promptly in 20 minutes. Meanwhile he, Uncle Henry, and Uncle William later, worked wonders at the church. Mr. B. crept on all 4s through stifling smoke into the vestry, and, with the aid of a maukin and Uncle H. who got in through the window, saved therefrom the parish registers. They penetrated into the chancel, brought out the seats of the choir, arrested the progress of the fire with mere buckets of water, had the organ fetched out, while the candelabras, altar-cloth, and a mass of books were also saved, either by them or by others. Now, the horrid part is that it is proved the church was fired on purpose, probably about 3 o'clock. For the organ was fired inside, and the W. end had also been set fire to. Moreover the poor-box was broken into, its staple was found on the ground, with the tool used. It is an act of diabolical wickedness : destroying the House of God, and a part of it too specially used for His praise, the noble organ whose voice has ever pealed through the church divine music, speaking to Him in what may well be thought echoes from the " Seraph choir," for there is something more than earthly and human in the voice of music.

22Oct1857, Reading

HAWARDEN, October 22nd, 1857.
—We read "Waverley" in the evening ; it seems to me heavy and prosy, but improves as it goes on.

HAWARDEN, October 23rd, 1857.
—We read "Waverley" in the evening : it gets interesting.

17Aug1857, Mamma Dies

HAGLEY, August 17th, 1857.
—Suffering, and discomfort, and wearing, and sinking, only for a little while more. The Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, is hers now—it's all over, all left behind ; the Everlasting Morning has dawned on the short weary night. With Christ, which is far better, and all tears wiped away ; and the calm of Paradise, and the Arms of God.

13Aug1857, The Soul-light On Her Face

HAGLEY, August 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 1857.
—It is of no use—God has set His seal. She speaks about it, and the soul-light on her face makes her wonderful to look at. On Sunday she kissed all her twelve poor children, and said good-bye, and then she took the Blessed Communion with many of us, and then she lay still, waiting. Her precious eyes were very blue and clear, shining strangely, and looking on, away, beyond us, except when she turned them on us with a depth of wistful tenderness. No more suffering all Sunday, and such precious words : remembering everyone ; no fear and distress.

30Jun1857, The Brichtzka

HAGLEY, June 30th, 1857.
—Our coach-horses ! took Mamma out in the brichtzka for the first time, with good success ; Uncle William's Budget, spirited and a desperate puller, and a slow solemn creature whom Mamma has named Oenone, viewing Papa's beautiful translation of that poem, just printed.

19Jun1857, Mamma's Drive

HAGLEY, June 19th, 1857.
—Mamma had a drive in the Robins' carriage : a most acceptable loan, view our deficiency of vehicle, for she cannot bear the rough jolting of the pony carriage : she has had one or two drives in it ; me driving, to my extreme pride. Mamma seems quite to trust me, which she never used to with the ponies

08Jun1857, Our Last Day

FALCONHURST, June 8th, 1857.
—Our last day ! I went to the dear little church for the last service, and hovering about near it was caught by Mr. Hunt, who walked and talked home with me. A sort of recapitulation of what he has said before. I made Witherby show me at the last minute a cunning nightingale's and a nettle-creeper's nests, close to each other in some brushwood, and was only back in time for some goodbyes. I saved a daisy from among my Confirmation ones which were all expanding in water, stuffed the beautiful little nest of the Portugal laurel chaffinch into my pocket, with the cuckoo's egg in it, and we all set off in the car, and two other conveyances : Papa and Mamma in the pony carriage. We have left a bright blessed time behind us.

05Jun1857, Mr. Hunt

FALCONHURST, June 5th, 1857.
—Mr. Hunt [FN: The Vicar of the parish, a lifelong friend of the Talbot family] saw me before the evening of yesterday, and again either to-day or Saturday Agnes and I went through the Communion Service with him. My two godparents, Aunt Coque and Uncle Stephen, were there. Aunt Coque gave me yesterday the medallion of a Head crowned with thorns : most beautiful. I have had two such letters : one from Uncle Billy and one from Dove [FN: Her former governess, Mrs. Oxley].

04Jun1857, Confirmation

FALCONHURST, Thursday, June 4th, 1857.
—I was confirmed at Penshurst Church with many others by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sumner. We left Falconhurst early ; I was so sorry Aggy didn't come and wasn't confirmed with me. She and Cecil had got me a little bunch of daisies, which I loved taking with me. It was very quiet and all fear and trembling seemed gone. The long drive was nice and stilling, and the glorious bells chimed as we came up to the church. I had Papa on one side, Mamma on the other. We waited in the church for a long time before the Archbishop came, but it didn't seem so to me. And I seem to remember nothing very distinctly till I went up and knelt on the altar step, feeling the strangest thrill as I did so for the first time. And I know how I waited breathlessly for my turn, with the longing for it to be safe done, half feeling that something might yet prevent it. And I know that I felt when it was I that should come next at last, though my face was hid down in my hands. And I know that I shall never forget the touch of the hand on my head : " Defend, 0 Lord, this Thy servant with Thy heavenly Grace . . ." and the glorious rush of trembling calm that followed in indescribable feeling. And then I went back and knelt down. The crying came then, and the Thanksgiving and Prayers mingled and repeated in unutterable gratitude, while the " Defend, 0 Lord," blended with them in the gentle faltering words unceasingly. And the new Life has begun.

30May1857, Fishing

FALCONHURST, May 30th, 1857.
—I went to look at the robin's nest, wherein all the eggs are hatched but one. The chaffinch's in the P. laurel have vanished like the others : it must be a weasel. We went in the afternoon to a pond some way off, where we fished : Witherby presiding. I had been in common with all the others tantalized by perpetual bites, and had twice I think brought a roach above water, which then splashed away again, and had in some despair changed my place, when behold ! two or three little bobs of the float, a very great one, a dash of it towards the middle of the pond, a stiff tightening of the line, a frantic tug upwards on my part, a flight through the air of a great flapping fish and a landing of a—carp ! ! ! !

With this overwhelming exploit, my afternoon deeds ceased ; I caught no more. Two little roach had been caught before, one by Cecil, and one by Edward, but the capture of the carp seemed to exhaust the pool, for even bobs of the float became rare. But it was all great fun, especially the frequent excited appeals to Oracle Witherby, on the occasion of deceptive Bobs, or Roberts, as Meriel's wit denominated them. We ordered the carp to be done for dinner, in spite of its single blessedness, and had the two small fry for tea. But alas ! the carp was let fall by the culpable cook and rendered unfit for presentation.

27May1857, Boiled Eggs

FALCONHURST, May 27th, 1857.
—We boiled two eggs ourselves, to a nicety, and the elders came to look at us. Agnes has actually been to the Opera !

Sunday, February 19, 2006

26May1857, Nests and Eggs

FALCONHURST, May 26th, 1857.
—Mr. Hunt saw me again : went through some of the Commandments, and spoke about Amelia, whom he saw, and advised me to go on speaking to her. A very nice talk. We have got in the garden seven nests, all eggs except the linnet's. Besides those mentioned elsewhere, a coletit's lying on its side on the ground wherein we found first two, then three, then four, then five, and now six lovely eggs, pure white, with red spots on the thick end. And I found a perfect little chaffinch nest, in a Portugal laurel, with three eggs, and there is another with three eggs in a little cedar. There was a sparrow's near this one, but alas ! four pretty eggs disappeared mysteriously. We have taken the cuckoo's egg from the robin, for it would only turn the little robins out. Alack ! to-day an egg vanished from my nest, and horror of horrors ! abominable Gip, Edward's dog, caught and killed a darling linnet, now full-fledged and able to flutter about. A most mysterious event has happened with regard to the nest in the cedar. The three eggs were hatched a few days ago, first two, and then the third. Visiting it on Monday, I found but two birdlings, the nest weighed down on one side, and the third suspended by its poor little claw to a branch below, quite cold and dead. Having fully ascertained this tragical fact, and in vain tried to recall the little thing to life, I buried it, and settled to my Prescott's " Peru " in the library, when Behemoth and Cecil appeared frantically at the window. " Lucy ! Lucy ! it's alive, and we've put it back in the nest." " Alive ! " quoth I, " why I've buried it ! " They stuck to their assertion, having found a little nestling under the little cedar, in a weak state but alive, of exactly the appearance of the other two, which after a little warming, they put in the nest, where it recovered. Behemoth disinterred my little bird, and produced it studded with bits of mould, to prove the truth of my words. And the event remains a mystery, making us believe that take 1 from 3, 3 remain, or else, that transmigration of souls—and bodies too—exists among birds. . . .
(By the bye, I have had two rides with Edward, on a little mouthless, perverse creature, whom I force with some difficulty to follow my way, not her own.) We had a delightful picnic tea in the wood. Our own fire, boiling, etc.

19May1857, Nests Found

FALCONHURST, May 19th, 1857.
—We have found two more nests : a chaffinch's, and a darling robin's among the roots of an oak, six eggs, one a cuckoo's, which I rejoiced to purloin.

16May1857, Falconhurst, Kent

FALCONHURST, May 16th, 1857.
—Oh, such a beautiful house ! Built of yellow-grey stone, large, with one wing, and a long pretty range of offices. Bow windows, and all of them plate glass. A very pretty front door, with a cut iron hook for handle. Opens into a good-sized carpeted hall, with such pretty white and gold pillars, supporting the staircase landing and passage above. The staircase is of dark waxed wood with the most beautiful banisters I have ever seen. Oak, and very massive and low, with some of the interstices filled up with T and one with C, I suppose for Mrs. Talbot, as her name is Caroline. The staircase leading into a long passage, out of which open four rooms, the first and last of which are Mamma's and ours, facing the stairs. Both with bow windows, and such delightful rooms. The passage turns down at the top leading to Cecil and Miss Harris' room, and the schoolroom. On the ground floor are the library and a little study opening out of it, which rooms we occupy. Then a large uninhabited drawing-room, with pillars at one end. These all open out of a passage corresponding with the one above. At the end of the passage, the nice large dining-room. A door on the opposite side of the passage, leading to the kitchen and other offices, all on the same floor : so nice. On the south of the house a terrace, and all round it a large garden. The approach on the north. The view a pretty cultivated wooded country, with a few rare cottages, and much rising and sinking ground. One or two woods close to the house. On rising ground within a quarter of an hour's walk, the little church, whose spire is seen from the house. The trees bushy and plentiful, but small and slender, without much variation, being chiefly dwarf oak. Witherby, the butler, showed us to-day a darling linnet's nest, with five birdlings in it, in a little box tree close to the house. We also saw a thrush's nest in a laurel in the garden, with five eggs. There is daily service, and we went through a lovely wood, by a little grassy path to the church, which is lovely. Of the same stone as the house, only one aisle, and a beautiful porch, with these words over the church-door : " This Church was founded and begun by the Honble. John Chetwynd Talbot, and completed in fulfilment of his instructions by his widow, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity. The memory of the just is blessed." So beautiful ; surely what he would like to be there.

27Apr1857, Boating

BRIGHTON, April 27th, 28th, 29th, 1857.
—Such a number of little tobies up and down the parade. (So I call all wicker carriages, in fond remembrance of Toby and the little black one at St. Leonard's.) Had the most enchanting boating in a long boat, with four oars, Charles, Albert, and two sailors. Herewith we skimmed away briskly ; to the Pier in five minutes, a little coasting, straight out a mile and a half to sea, gaining upon, beating, and heading a boatful con­siderably in front of us, rowing up to a large coal brig, letting her pass us some hundred yards, with her sails all spread to the fair wind, beating her, under the pier, out to the end of Kemp Town, and home in an hour and a half.

23Apr1857, Convalescence at Brighton

BRIGHTON, April 23rd, 1857.
—Mrs. Talbot came up again. A lovely apparition sent to be a moment's ornament, for --

April 24th, 1857 — She went back again.

(Lady Mary Lyttelton is recovering. Mrs. Talbot could only stay briefly.)

21Apr1857, Nevy and Spencer

BRIGHTON, April 21st, 1857.
—Nevy and Spencer went back to Geddington ; niobissimus, poor, dear, old fellows.

31Mar1857, Baby Baptized

LONDON, March 31st, 1857.
—Baby was baptized. Uncle Billy came on purpose to do it ; the first of the whole twelve that he ever has. Such an addition to the brightness of to-day. I went to see the precious one dressed : he was perfectly good during the trying operation, though it was his crying time. He looked lovely in his robes, and Mamma's wedding-veil, with the tiny Christening cap surrounding his little placid face, which struck Uncle B. on first sight with its look of happy thoughtfulness. Mamma came to church, so nice. Mr. Selfe, Althorp, and Aunt Emmy were godparents ; Mr. Cavendish and Auntie P. representing the two latter. Oh, the beauty of the service and Uncle B's reading of it ! The little one was wide awake all the time, gazing round him with his beauteous eyes, and moving his little arms. He never made one cry, and only uttered a little low sound when Uncle Billy took him tenderly, becoming quite quiet again, and looking earnestly up at him. The Water touched the calm white forehead, and the Cross marked Alfred Lyttelton as Christ's soldier and servant, sealing him as God's child, purifying his immortal soul, and filling it with the Spirit that makes him an inheritor of glorious Eternity. God for ever bless the new Christian enrolled under His banner.

25Mar1857, Eton

LONDON, March 25th, 1857.
—M. and I had the lark of going to Eton, with Papa, Auntie P., and Agnes. We found Charles in the heat of a game of fives, which he lost by one I believe in our very eye. However it was an excellent game. All were flourishing. We dined at Seymour Neville's rooms, which he is making elegant to suit his Minor Canonship. It was great fun. Before luncheon we saw the boys' rooms, with char­acteristic differences between Charles' and Willy's, and Mr. Coleridge who received us most affably, and told us several mournful particulars about the health of his wife, whose brain is in some melancholy state of dilapidation : not softening like that of his friend Miss Hawtrey, but something analogous. We went in the afternoon to Eton Chapel, wherein the flood of boys looked very striking, especially when they all stood up, with a sort of rushing sound. But the unfortunate thing was that there were no proper responses, only a muttered whisper. We went to the Castle : most beautiful view.

08Mar1857, Christ Church, Oxford

OXFORD, March 8th, 1857.
—One of the happiest days I have ever spent. As soon as we were dressed, after Mrs. Talbot had read aloud the Xtian Year for the day, Johnny appeared, in his cap and gown to please me, for he says the men of Ch. Ch. (Christ Church, Oxford) are not wont to walk about in them, though every other college does, and he is an anxious martyr to manners and customs. Well, under his escort, we walked to Ch. Ch., which I am happy to say we found free from smell, and Johnny's rooms much the better for the chloride of zinc, and looking bright and comfortable. The breakfast one is much longer than broad, and had its whole length filled with the breakfast tables, covered with an elegant spread. The grate amused me : its bars were of the most collegiate and ecclesiastic appearance, of this shape.(With a sketch.) Mr. Majendie soon turned up : in fact we had, I thought, rather too much of these gentlemen, one or other of whom, or all together, were with us nearly all day. The toast was cut in a collegiate way also, triangles of an impressive appearance. We had an excellent breakfast ; the coffee alone being rather inferior. Beautiful sort of hashed fish, which was obtained after some little difficulty, caused by some regulation against the importation of fish for breakfast. However we had it, and it was lucky we did, for Mr. Majendie had two or three helps of it. Indeed, one of my notes of Oxford was the large quantity everybody eat, myself included, for there was no help for it. . . .

We went to luncheon at Mr. Majendie's rooms in Peckwater Quad, adjoining Tom Quad (e.g. Johnny's quad), where we found an excellent spread. A young Mr. Villars, son of the new Bishop (on which account Mrs. Talbot warned me not to speak disrespectfully of Lord Palmerston's bishops : as if I was likely to !), Mr. Henniker, and Mr. Palmer, all came in to luncheon : all being Johnny's friends. They made pleasant talk, and we had a very good luncheon. It was in fact a very complete dinner.

27Feb1857, Baby's Name : Duodecimus?

LONDON, February 27th, 28th, 1857.
—Mamma lies on a bed-couch during the day, and is getting on : such nice appetite. Such a debated point Baby's name : Duodecimus, or Octavius, though appropriate, have been rejected. Papa dares to think of Frederic. My abomination. Mamma talks of Grenville or Grey. I have been building on the hope of being his god¬mother more than I can express, but I hear that Aunt Emmy is to be. I suppose I shall not be confirmed in time, but it is such a dreadful disappointment.