November 25, 1863
FR has been promoted to the dignity of great aunt by the birth of her nephew's first child. This nephew, George Rolleston, son of FR's brother George, is a professor at Oxford. Mother of the child is Grace Davy.
George and Grace have named the child Humphry Davy after Grace's uncle, Sir Humphry Davy. This is particularly pleasing to FR because she was acquainted with Sir Humphrey in his youth, and she is always happy to speak of her acquaintances with scientific men.
And Humphry Davy was certainly a scientific man. He is credited with the discovery in 1808 of magnesium, calcium, strontium and barium through his experiments with electrolysis. He must also have been an enthusiastic person. Grace's father and Humphry's brother Dr. John Davy, reported that when Humphry separated potassium, he danced around, delirious with joy at his discovery.
FR admits she is proud that this child will advance Humphry Davy's name in the world.
November 22, 1963 the world grieved over the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy; the Christian world grieved over the death of Clive Staples Lewis.
November 22, 1863 the United States was in the deadly grip of the Civil War. In England, Frances Rolleston was finally shrugging off serious sickness.
What comfort was there for those grieving JFK's death? Could it be counted as anything other than a tragedy by all who loved him?
What comfort was there for those grieving CS Lewis's death? They had the assurance of enjoying eternity with him. "Therefore comfort one another with these words," Paul the Apostle wrote, following his description of the Lord's return.
Where did FR turn for comfort in her sickness?
She wrote to a friend, "I am daily better, in spite of the pouring rain all day, and stormy wind all night, which when I was worse I knew nothing of; nor, indeed, of any thing but the comforts of the Word of God, hourly sought in your most valuable large-print Testament,—do you remember it? Little did I think how valuable it would be on a bed of sickness."
For those like FR who are assured of the state of their souls, death or its near approach heightens awareness of the One who walks through the valley with them, and comforts those left behind.
November 15, 1840
"I am now here, among my beloved Yorkshire friends and relatives, and enjoying the sea, and far more the society of most highly valued religious friends. I enclose you two of their little tracts."
One of these tracts, "The Gospel," FR delights in because it explains religion as she experiences and by which she has been kept happy, and she wants to share it with her young friend Edith.
FR associated with many writers of tracts and wrote many herself. She carried a satchel of such materials to hand out wherever she walked.
Religious tracts were a phenomenon of Victorian England, looked at negatively by parts of the population and received gladly by others. Novelists, particularly, attacked tracts as harmful. This article from "The Victoria Web" gives some good insights as to why.
November 5, 1862
FR reported in a letter of this date about her efforts to relieve those affected by famine: "We have sent 56l this week for the cotton distress and more will go each week, we hope, for three months." She was helping collect money for relief of those starving due to the cotton shortage. The American Civil War was on and the North had blockaded Southern ports. Without southern cotton, the mills in Lancashire couldn't operate, and the workers were laid off. People all over England rose to the need, averting over the four years of the famine the most feared consequences (death and disease).
FR was not rich, but her writing and painting brought in some small income, which almost always was given to some cause or needy individual. In this letter she referred to income from her book. It was not yet complete, however, several parts had been printed and she was able to sell them.
"I sent the price of three 'Mazzaroths,' I cannot help giving away what I get for it, so far."
The New York Times November 26, 1862 article about England's cotton famine.
Story and photos of two towns affected by the cotton distress.