Monday, January 03, 2011

31Jul1876, Improvements to Althorp Estate

LONDON, July 31st—August 6th, 1876.
—A capital piece of matrimonial news after all the twopenny ones: B. and the Bishop of Exeter!! [FN: Beatrice Lascelles, cousin of Lord Frederick, married Dr. Temple, afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury.] She is in great happiness. I have always thought highly of him, knowing Papa and Uncle B.'s high opinion of him. Folk say he is undoubtedly much in love. I had tea at No. 62 on Friday and found him there; liked much his simple, quiet manner, manly and unconstrained. They are to be married the end of August, and after September he will be hard at work. B.'s episcopal experience will begin at the Land's End where he holds Confirmations in October....

We went to Harleston, where the Spencers are staying, while Althorp is to be turned over to builders for improvements. I have never been there since a happy visit before I married with Papa, in 1863, when he hunted with great enjoyment on a famous hunter of Spencer's called Pale-Ale, and affronted Spencer by blaming the horse for refusing a brook. "My dear George, you rode him at it with a loose rein—you never put his head at it!" "Well, all I know is, my old hunter would have gone over it if I had put his tail at it!" How well I remember this! We all went over to Althorp, Sunday afternoon, and in spite of its being all in curl-papers I revived old old recollections, going back to New Year '54, and Uncle Fritz calling me Topsy. They have laid out a garden on one side which is an immense improvement.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

24Jul1876, Painting Wellington's Forehead

LONDON, July 24th-30th, 1876.
—Ld. and Ly. Robartes. He and Uncle W. were good company at breakfast. He told me an anecdote of the D. of Wellington's always insisting on having his forehead represented in painting or sculpture wider than it was, and Chantrey telling Lucas, to whom the Duke was sitting. Uncle W. (so exactly like him!) took the story desperately to heart as being unworthy of the Duke's high sense of truth; and it was impossible to make him see how the story might be quite consistent with his truth of intention: he might have honestly supposed his forehead wider and Chantrey may have humoured him.

24Apr1876, Thoughts of Papa

HAGLEY, April 24th-30th, 1876.
F. and I stayed on at Hagley. Sybella most touching in the absolute unselfishness and patience with which she bears her great grief: she has constant tears to relieve her, and clings to his children, and turns to the religious thoughts and words which were the "strength of his life," to comfort her in his death. She told me that though she could never get him to teach her by precept, yet by degrees, as she learnt more and more of his character and its motive power, she grew into sympathy with his religion; and that learning to feel with him "doubled and trebled" her love for him. Many beautiful lessons has his life taught us all—such as courage, trust, generosity, truth, wide sympathies, and kind judgments coupled with hatred of evil and the highest standard of right ; but the chief lesson of all is, how to blend the Love of God and the golden thread of religion with common daily life in the world—with all duty, with dry detail, with pleasures and enjoyments and mirth; with sorrow, trial, and disappointment; and so to do this as to produce, not scrupulosity or gloom, but the joyful spirit of a loving son, the glad service of willing obedience. Nobody showed more by every day of his active life that God's service is perfect freedom, and His ways the way of pleasantness and peace. All our lives through, accordingly, his beautiful example has taught us that the Church's life of religion is the happy and complete life, and that seeking first the Kingdom of God all other things are added to us. Nevy once said to me, "The governor always showed us that duty must come first of all." Letters pour in upon us, and are very helpful and soothing in showing how deeply and widely all that was best in him was known and loved. Hardly one but calls it a "noble life"; and in the light of it the awful darkness at the end seems to shrink to a point.

19Apr1876, Papa Ends His Life

LISMORE, April 17th-23rd, 1876.
—It has been God's will to send us a terrible anguish. On Monday morning came from Aunt Coque a sadly disheartening account of dear Papa. The latter days of the week before last we all saw hopeful symptoms, especially in his looks and also in his diminished restlessness, and power of occupying himself for longer times together. (Tho' all along as always during former attacks he has done whatever work he had to do.) If he had been younger, no doubt this would have been the beginning of recovery as formerly. But from Aunt C.'s letter it seemed that he had entered upon a different and darker stage : utter lassitude and hopeless distress, with occasional paroxysms of misery. Never any delusion or altered feeling towards any of us, but true perplexities all exaggerated....

God only knows what his anguish has been these many weeks past, deepening and deepening upon him ; yet through all what gentleness and uncomplaining patience and affection! and what faith in God! We never thought of anything worse than a longer trial than usual. Hitherto his vigorous health, both mental and physical, has always thrown off the attacks, and he has recovered absolutely; they have rolled away like clouds....

On Easter Monday he wrote kindly and sympathetically to Archdeacon Horn, on hearing of his daughter's death, ending his letter with a few words about being detained in London by "some sort of nervous complaint" and a word or two on business. The very morning after came upon him what we do indeed believe was a messenger of release (God seeing that His true and loving servant could no longer bear the anguish), a momentary and over-mastering paroxysm. Not knowing what he did, he rushed away from the man who was always with him in his room, and fell over the banisters: we shall never know if it was in any degree accidental or not, but we do know he was as unaccountable as if a lightning-stroke had fallen on him....

And at a little past midnight God took him to His Eternal Peace.

06Mar1876, The Queen Opens a Grocers' Wing

LONDON, Tues. March 6th-12th, 1876.
—With Ly. Robartes and At. Coque to L. Hospital to see the Queen open the "Grocers' Co. wing." The whole way up Whitechapel gaily decorated, be-mottoed, and thronged with loyal people. Bright cold weather. The Q. very punctual : stood rather grim and glum on her platform, but at the right moments, when she did bow and smile and make those incomparable curtseys of hers, was, in spite of her little dowdy black bonnet, as Queen-like and gracious as ever.