October 24, 1862
FR writes to a friend about inhabitants of other planets. This was a common topic of interest in the 1800s, for little was yet known about the solar system. The particular question under discussion is sometimes asked today regarding aliens in the universe:
How are those in other worlds to relate to Jesus Christ as savior since it is in this world he died and came to life again?
Here is FR's belief:
"May not their inhabitants be saved by faith in a Mediator, who, if not their brother according to the flesh, is their King, by whom and for whom they were and are created; might they not have a revelation, to faith that cometh by hearing and not by sight? I do not infer that the inhabitants of the planets are sinners, only imperfect, so requiring the Mediator."
She supports her statement with this from the Bible, "He chargeth his angels with folly," understanding that "The elect, unsinning angels stood in Christ."
The following few words of a letter from FR give us a hint of what was involved in establishing an infant school. Before the British government took on the responsibility of education, FR was an early pioneer of early childhood education. Her editor, Caroline Dent, claimed that FR established the third infant school in England, and from there she set up many more.
In FR's letter we also get a feel for the burden of her responsibilities to the community and to her friends elsewhere. It was written from Watnall, the seat of her father's family, where she set up several schools.
To William J. Irons
Watnall Cottage, October 9th, 1839
My very dear Friend,
I will not let you, and my unknown friend your wife, remain a day longer than I can help in the inconvenient position of expecting, when I am now sure I shall not be able to leave this place before Christmas, and most likely not then. The nearly finished school I must open and set going, and for another I have yet to raise funds, get the ground, set people to work, &c. &c. I have every prospect of success in so doing, but as soon as I went away last year all went wrong,—the Vicar, and the Squire, and the Squire's lady, and the Methodists of all sorts all fell out, and I have had to put them all in again, and now I am driving six in hand, railroad-pace, but if I throw up the reins over goes my omnibus of infants.
October 3rd, 1862
A friend sent FR a proof of his review of "Purgatorio," one part of Dante's The Divine Comedy, and she wrote to thank him for it. She then shared her interest in the Italian poets.
"In early life I was deep in the Italian poets, particularly what then no one cared for . . . their grand patriotic and political poetry. . . . Some years ago the railway thieves stole a box of books of mine and all my Italian poets, so I have not read of late, but I have often thought of Dante, Petrarca, and Filicaia, and their almost prophetic anticipations of the future of Italy, now come."
What was this future now come? For years Italy had been struggling towards unification. Finally, in March of 1861, the Italian Parliament proclaimed Victor Emmanuel King of Italy, and Rome as its capital, even though Rome was not yet part of the united area. In August of 1862, Garibaldi led his army in an unsuccessful bid to annex Rome, and this is where things now stood.
Two years previously FR was collecting money for Garibaldi by means of a woman's penny subscription: ". . . Garibaldi has opened twelve Orphan Asylums in Naples he really deserves our aid."