June 28, 1850
"You and I know that a few words are often the best. So I say no more to-day."
FR penned these words to Bessie Roby, sister of Caroline Dent. Both these young women had become dear to FR, so it was a shock when she read Cary's letter with bad news.
The day before Cary's letter arrived, FR had been reading in the Liverpool Mercury all the sad details of the wreck of the steamer Orion, never a thought that some of her own dear acquaintances were on board.
The Orion was carrying 38 crew and 170 passengers (accounts differ) when it hit rocks near the lighthouse at Portpatrick Harbour and sank in minutes. Bessie and her daughter were among the rescued, but Mr. Roby, Bessie's husband, drowned along with 40 others.
FR's consolation, and her first thought upon reading the news was, "Thank God he was a Christian!"
Bessie Roby's account of the Orion wreck and of John Roby's life can be read here, beginning on page 71. Reports of the wreck can be read here.
June 22, 1835
While living in Watnall Cottage, FR makes a visit to Annesley, the ancestral hall of her childhood friend Mary Chaworth. Mary died three years previously, but the time with Mary's husband John Chaworth-Musters and their daughter Sophie delights FR.
"Such a poet's dream as my visit to Annesley! We dined in the ancient marble-paved, weather-stained hall, with immense fires in June, 'for there, even summer days are cold,' and I slept in a haunted chamber with tombstones looking into the window."
FR finds Sophie pious, elegant, and poetical with "an extraordinary understanding and decision of character." Part of the discussion between them concerns the book Abbotsford and Newstead by the American writer Washington Irving after his visit to Abbotsford (home of Sir Walter Scott), Newstead Abbey (home of Lord Byron), and Annesley (home of Mary Chaworth, Byron's first romantic interest). FR and Sophie make a plan: they will write comments on Irving's book and include facts and have a friend submit it for publication. The plan is never carried out due to Sophie's marriage.
If you wish to read Irving's Abbotsford and Newstead online. Click here.
Sunday, June 12, 1864
This morning FR passed from this life. The following record is in the words of Caroline Dent, who sat with her during the last hours.
"About half-past six, an expression of majesty and peace settled on her face, that no words can describe. It seemed something superhuman. I could not but feel, that however youthful her resurrection body might be, that majestic look would identify it. It was her own noble face, but transformed into something nobler than I had ever conceived as belonging to earth. It lasted about ten minutes, and then, with the faintest of breaths, she passed away to enter on the eternal keeping of Sabbath, in the presence of her Lord. As the light of Sunday morning, breaking over the mountains, streamed in at the window, we felt how in harmony with her faith in our resurrection, because of His, was it, that her spirit should rise from mortality on that day."
June 5, 1847
FR arrived in the English Lakes District for the first time. At last she laid eyes on real mountains. She had admired them in paintings and copied paintings of them, but had never seen them.
"The vision of my youth is before me, at length I have seen the mountains, and the reality is even far beyond the pictures I have often copied and oftener admired. The forms, the colour, are equally beyond the reach of art; poetry and imagination had gone nearer, in Wordsworth's Excursion I had seen them far better."
On this first visit, FR stayed at Bowness. The next spring she moved to Keswick, where she remained for the last 15 years of her life.
The photo above is of Derwent Water next to Keswick taken on my trip this past April.