One day while working on my biography of Frances Rolleston, Clementi was on my mind. I had just heard on the radio a sonatina of his that I had once played. Felix Mendelssohn was also on my mind because I was then reading his biography. So, imagine how interested I was to find a letter written by Frances Rolleston in which she mentions both of these musicians!
What occasioned her mention of Clementi was that a friend sent her a copy of his review of Dante's "Purgatorio," and she responded by telling him that Clementi had once sent her a Roman copy of Dante to get her opinion on a disputed passage. (Sadly, she no longer remembered what the dispute was.) Clementi lived in London for most of the years that Frances lived there. They must have been fairly well acquainted for him to consult her opinion.
Frances was also acquainted with Ludwig Berger, a student of Clementi's, who in turn, was one of Mendelssohn's early teachers. I found Frances' acquaintance with Berger particularly interesting because of a suggested possible romance. However, I will leave that for the biography!
January 11th, 1862
"Joyfully do I take the remaining few minutes to post time to bless the God of all peace, for peace between the sister countries. Every body is for giving every possible indulgence to wounded pride, &c; and now it is known that this Mason was the author of the Fugitive Slave Law, his reception will give no offence, it will be cool indeed, if not actively adverse--otherwise the released captive would have interested England, but anti-slavery England can not bear this."
The American Civil War endangered peace between England and the United States. The Confederacy had hoped for Great Britain's support, and in November 1861 sent James Murray Mason as commissioner for the Confederacy. He was aboard the RMS Trent on his way to England when Federal troops captured the ship. The north celebrated a little too much, bringing the threat of war with Great Britain.
Lincoln cooled off and engaged in some diplomacy by admitting that capturing the Trent was contrary to maritime law and that private citizens could not be considered enemy despatches, and everyone settled down. Mason sailed again in early January, and Frances predicted that his reception would be cool because of his pro-slavery views.