July 24, 1849
Frances Rolleston had been living in Keswick of the Lakes District for a year. Already she knew the names of all the mountains. Even some long time residents asked her for information. She wrote in this letter that she amused herself by talking to tourists, telling them not only the names of the mountains, but the stories associated with them as well.
One such story was that of the mountaineer Mary Green. Mary at age seventy-seven had never been in a church nor heard the name of Christ except as a curse. But at this advanced age she began to think that she had heard of having a soul. The missionary from Keswick was able to lead her to faith in Christ, and she died soon after, happy.
IN 1859 Frances published a book called Lights and Shadows on the Sunny Side of Skiddaw. It is a guide to the Lakes District, written in verse—one I would like to have. A copy is in the British Library, but want to find one I can buy. I saw one when I was in England in 2002(?), and if I had known how hard it was to find one later, I would have bought it then.
July 26, 1847
FR has been in the Lakes District now for a month. "Depend on it," she writes to Rev. Irons, "the mountains have waked a new chord in my lyre." She is finally seeing real mountains after years of copying those in other paintings, and she decides that no painting can come up to the colours as they truly are.
So far she has climbed only one, the minor one at the head of the lake. That day "all was purple splendour with waves of silver clouds forming and breaking over the summits. . . . The continual action of the clouds on the hues and forms of the mountains no painting can even attempt, nor had I imagined; you look in amazed delight, and it is gone, and another form, as beautiful, is coming."
"I study them hourly," she says, and her diligence has earned her the reputation of knowing the names and forms of the mountains better than the natives. Already tourists go to her for advice.
She encloses a couple lithographs in her letter to Rev. Irons and makes a pen-and-ink sketch on the page. "This No. 2 is but a tame view of the mountains as you see them from below. Here you see the two grand ones, Langdale Pikes, besides. . . . From this house a good road leads to a rocky hill, considerably higher than that above the church, called Brant Fell, ranges of rock like castle walls in ruin crown it; mountain air, heath and thyme, a few sheep, and deep mossy turf; not very steep, and perfectly safe everywhere; I rejoice to be so near; I send all tourists there."
At this point FR does not know if she will make this area her permanent home, but within months she has decided. This is where she lives her last sixteen years.