On this day in 1830, a great celebration was underway—the opening ceremony for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. The Prime Minister was in attendance. The celebration began with a parade of locomotives: Northumbrian, Phoenix, North Star and finally Rocket. Sadly, the exciting event was marred when a Member of Parliament, William Huskisson, was fatally stuck by Rocket.
In a letter two months later Frances Rolleston mentioned that the day of the accident which killed poor Huskisson (whom she had known), she had consulted her Hebrew teacher to ask if the word carcaroth in her Bible, translated swift beasts, could not be more correctly translated carriages.
She wrote, The word occurring no where else has received the most whimsical interpretations. I said, the Holy Spirit had dictated a new word to express a new thing, the reduplication of the root car expressing intensified rolling round and round, as the wheel of railway cars.
The scripture containing carcaroth is Isaiah 66:20 which speaks of the return of the Jewish people to their land: "And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the LORD out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the LORD, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD."
The oth of carcaroth is the plural suffix; what remains is car car, with the idea of round, the doubling indicating intensity. Frances' conclusion is that even by railway would the Jewish people one day return to their land. She was always alert to compare current events with Bible prophecies.
This is Flat Frances standing in front of an 1830's map of London. She's preparing to tour the places in England where she lived and worked: Aldgate, Dulwich, Camberwell in London; Watnall in Nottinghamshire; Kingston-on-Hull, Kirk Ella, Filey, Scarborough in Yorkshire; and Keswick in Cumbria.
In some of those places she will meet some "flat" figures of past acquaintance: Sir Anthony Carlisle, William Wilberforce, Henry Thompson, William Hone, and William Wordsworth.
The changes since the mid 1800's may be a shock to her—not least that she will travel by airplane.
The "Flat Frances" idea came from the History in the Margins website. FR never had a photograph or portrait made—only the small silhouette seen on the home page of this site. Flat Frances was made from a print of the Gainsborough painting of Mrs. Siddons, which FR's friends said was very like her. The hair is changed to brown and the eyes to blue, to match hers of early life.
If you would like a synopsis of her return to England after the journey, please use the comment option to write "Return to England" and your e-mail address.