Frank Leward: Memorials
Part III. Home Again
Part III. Home Again.
Mrs. Leward to Mrs. Herbert.
Dearest Mother, My beautiful boy has come back, full of stories of that strange dark underworld where he has been, and so affectionate and true. Of course he is much changed and grown, but as noble and good as ever. I hardly know how to begin to tell you about it all. We hardly knew whether to laugh or cry when he walked in on Saturday evening, it seemed it could scarcely be true that he was back and that all I have suffered was over at last and I had my boy in my arms once more, never to go away again. He was very shy at first. You would hardly know him again, he is so changed, but when you are with him a little time you see the old look come back and it's the same dear boy again.
Francis is still away in London, and enjoyed seeing page 60the marriage of our beloved young Queen to the good Prince, who seems from all the reports we hear from those who know him best, to be a perfect model of what a prince should be, in spite of all the small jealousy and meanness shown by some members of Parliament and even by some in the House of Lords. I was rather glad that I was alone when our dear Frank came back. I sometimes dread the meeting between him and Francis. Francis is so strict and has been brought up in a school with notions so different to those of the present day. Frank has become a thorough sailor. Of course his ways are different, and as so many young men do now, he smokes a good deal, which I am afraid Francis will object to. Still if other young men do it why should not Frank?
I was afraid he would have lost all his good manners, and look shabby, but not at all. He made enough coming home to get proper things in London, and when we went to church on Sunday, I felt so proud to take the arm of my fine sailor son, and oh dear mother the inexpressible joy when I knelt by his side and offered up the most heart-felt thanks that I think a woman ever poured out before the throne of God. I was very much affected who could help it at such a time. How often kneeling there had I almost repined against the divine will and now all is cleared up, and I sometimes think I can see it was ordered for the best. Yet still in our short-sightedness it seems strange to me that one who might have done so much and been amongst the cleverest and most useful should now fill so comparatively small page 61a sphere as a sailor's must be. Still I think to be good and brave is better even than to be great and clever and my trials might have been much worse.
He has brought me a present of a rug made out of the skin of some strange animal. It is very warm and comfortable, and would be very handsome only Frank was obliged to use it coming round Cape Horn where it was so dreadfully cold to keep himself warm at night, and it got a good deal stained with salt-water and other things, but I shall treasure it as one of my greatest treasures because it was so thoughtful of him to bring it and because it protected him so often from the intense cold.
Good-bye, dear Mamma. I must bring Frank to see you soon, but he must not come without me I want you so much to see my boy. I hardly know how I have written this it all seems so strange and as though I was living in a world of happy dreams.
Your happy and loving
Bantpton to Frank.
Feast of S. Chad, A.D. 1840.
My Dear Frank,—I am so delighted to hear of your return after your peregrinations round the world. You have heard, I daresay, that I came up last October term. I wish you had stayed at Upton. You would just be thinking of coming up now, and you can form no idea of the beauty of Oxford, or the perfectly enjoyable life we lead. They say it is the happiest time in a man's page 62life, and I do not think anything could be happier. The University is full of interest You remember how fond we used to be of reading about King Charles and the noble stand he made against schism and heresy. Here one seems to live again in that time.
Close by and nearly connected with Oriel is S. Mary's, with its porch and statue of our Blessed Lady just as it was erected by the holy Laud and once formed part of the charges brought against him on his impeachment, as it now shines out a special jewel in his martyr's crown.
New Inn Hall, though plain externally is full of loving interest, for there they turned the rich plate, the free offering of all the Colleges, into money to aid the good King in bis great crusade.
S. Edmund Hall takes us back to an earlier period, when the brave Edmund Rich of Abingdon gladly gave up the immense revenues of his see and went into exile rather than yield one jot of his ecclesiastic right, and was willing to lay down his life for the cause for which he fought, as his great predecessor S. Thomas of Canterbury had done before him.
You would enjoy too the boating. The river is alive every afternoon with joyous crews skimming the Isis with their boats, and we could make many pleasant excursions "rejoicing to Newnham and Godstowe."You must come up next term and stay with me for a week at least. I can get you a bed at my scouts.
Sunday is a perfectly peaceful day at Oxford. Not the morose Puritan's Sabbath, nor the noisy saturnalia of continental Sundays. We on that day enjoy the page 63calm thoughtful repose enjoined by the purer catholicity of our ancient Church, and inter pocula do not disdain social gatherings and festal entertainments. How you would astonish our men at breakfasts and wines by your stories of the antipodes, kangaroos, and other strange sights you have seen on your travels !
I should like, too, on Sunday to take you to S. Mary's to hear Newman the greatest man of the age. You should see his face and hear his voice, you would be reminded of S. Bernard and S. Francis of Assisi He has been particularly kind to me and would be much interested in you if I was to introduce you. I am going in for smalls soon, so I am working for the schools, but at Commemoration I shall be quite free, and you must come to see me then.
Write soon and say you are coming. Meanwhile I am, and always shall be, your very affectionate friend,
C. Augustin Bampton.
Mrs. Leward to Mrs. Herbert.
Dear Mamma, Frank is away at Oxford, staying with his friend Bampton, for the Commemoration. After that they mean to go to Upton for the breaking up, and to play in a cricket match against the boys. I am glad Frank has this opportunity of a change, his life here must be rather dull, though he never complains. I am glad too he can be with his old friend, who is decidedly clever and original, though deeply affected I fear by the Tractarian page 64movement. Francis you know has a great horror of it though for my part, if a young man is good religious and thoughtful, I do not think it matters much what particular form his religious views may take. Dr. Newman is no doubt very attractive to young men, but Francis declares he is purposely remaining in our Church with the design of Romanizing it. I do hope Bampton will be staunch, it would be such a pity to lose him.
Frank and his father get on very fairly well together, though there was much embarrassment at first and Francis thinks he ought to have something settled to do. He has proposed to take a small farm for him, but Frank does not care about it, and he told me the other day if he took to farming at all it would not be in England. You can imagine how I broke down for I knew what he meant and I have ever looming before me the dread lest he should leave me again,
Frank and I hope to come to Claydon at the end of the month. I think sometimes Francis wishes Frank to be away when Arthur comes home, he is so particular about Arthur. I am looking forward so to coming with Frank to see you.
Your affectionate daughter,
J. Jones to Frank.
Dear old Man,—Here I am, stuck up in this beastly dirty hole. I kept to the old tub as long as I could and then I went home. My governor was not so bad after all as I expected and said he forgave me and all page 65that but I couldn't stand King's Square and the infernal dinner parties. I got rather tight at one and the next day the governor said he thought I had better get a ship and that he knew some of the big owners in the city and would speak to one of them. So I've come on a coaster as third mate and am reading like old Harry to pass for second but it's beastly difficult. What do you say when I get back to going out again to Van Diemen's Land? its much jollier than this old hole. My governor would give me something to take a small place there. I had a letter from Polly the other day she says she's been awfully good and wants me to go back. There will be a ship going to New Zealand in about two months which will put in at Launceston we could easily manage to get out in that Are you game? I am. Write soon care of Weaber Jones & Blogg, Throgmorton St London. The women are awfully ugly here and call the beastly place Ool.
Mr. Saunders to Mrs. Leward.
Dear Mrs. Leward, I must write to congratulate you on your son's return. It was a great pleasure to me and to all of us to see him again. He received quite an ovation from the boys. He is still the same genuine, modest fellow he always was, with all the old childlike simplicity of character we knew and loved so much. I was very glad to find he and Bampton were as great friends as formerly. What the one wants the other page 66supplies. Bampton is thoughtful, erudite, and clever, intensely earnest, enthusiastic, and pious, but too much taken with externals, which seem to appeal to a certain feminine quality of his character, while Frank is a fine, strong young man, whose only fault is a tendency to despise conventionalities. The one will, I expect, broaden out into a remarkable genius, and the other, though so diffident of himself, if he will take the culture his friend can give, may become a most useful country gentleman, should his want of ambition prevent him from aspiring to anything higher.
I was grieved to discover, in a long conversation I had with him, that he is not satisfied with his present position, and that he meditates leaving England again. I am not surprised that one of his roving spirit should yearn to increase his knowledge of the world, a desire which, I have no doubt, increases with its being indulged in; and I believe his sensitive nature feels deeply the position in which he is placed, and if I might say so, the not altogether cordial terms on which he seems unfortunately to be with his father. I don't suppose he has ever even hinted at this to you, but I can see it rankles in him. The result will be, I have no doubt, that he will be anxious to emigrate altogether, or at least for a considerable time, and we shall lose one whom we so much wish to keep here, and he will lose the opportunity of cultivating the tastes which he possesses. It is greatly to be regretted that something cannot be found for Frank to do in England which would satisfy his active mind and habits. Your younger son is now at the head of the page 67school, and will, I have no doubt, if his health continues good, do very well when he goes to the University. He has mathematical abilities of a very high order.
I wish Frank and Bampton could have come with me to the Lakes, where I generally spend my summer holidays; but Frank was anxious to visit his grandmother, to whom he has a very strong attachment, and Bampton was, I believe, to spend some time with him there. I should like to have taken both to Rydal Mount to see Mr. Wordsworth. I was there the other day, and the great poet gave me the same kind, genial greeting that one always gets there. It made no difference to him that the day before he had entertained the Queen Dowager. I visited Southey, too, but his mind is quite gone. Frank would have enjoyed seeing these great men; for although he does not seem to read much, and certainly never quotes, he has a great appreciation of good poetry. While he was at Upton lately I read something of Wordsworth's to him, and he made a remark which, coming from him, struck me. He said he didn't like what people call sacred poetry, but he did like Wordsworth, because all his poetry was sacred.
I have taken the liberty of writing this long letter, because I thought you would like to know my opinion of Frank, and I was anxious to throw out a suggestion I should be so glad to see acted upon.
—I am, my dear Mrs. Leward, yours very sincerely,
A. M. Saunders.
Mrs. Leward, Mrs. Herbert, Claydon, Bath.
Mrs. Leward to Mr. Leward.
My dear Husband,—We have been spending a very happy time here. I wish you could have come with us. The only drawback has been mamma's rheumatism which often confines her to her room. She has aged considerably. The excitement of having us with her, and of seeing Frank again rather upset her at first. Frank is very good and attentive. Bampton came last week, and is a great addition to our party, he talks so well and is so clever and gentle and fond of Frank. I don't think he is nearly so High Church as people say, at any rate he does not show it. He is very anxious that Frank should work with a tutor and go up to Oxford. How I wish it might be done. I and Bampton have long talks together on the subject. My dear husband you little know our boy's affectionate and sensitive nature, or I think you would be more considerate to him. You are so much wiser and know so much more of things than I do I know but I believe Frank notices a coldness on your part, and that it pains him deeply. From what he has said to me and more from what Bampton has told me I am afraid he has made up his mind to emigrate. He says he hates an idle life, and never will be dependent on any one, and would rather go away to make a home for himself than be a burden upon you. I have told him he will of course succeed to mamma's property at her death, and that however much we all wish to keep her with us yet in the course of nature we must expect page 69her to be taken from us before long and that we cannot hope that she will live many more years.
She I know has said much the same to Frank herself for dear Mamma does not fear the end—why should she? —she rather looks forward to it as to a happy release from the infirmities of old age and to the prospect of joining my dear father in heaven. You know how devoted they were to one another, and ever since his death I think she has regarded this life only as something standing in the way of a happy reunion with him she so dearly loved and loves.
Don't scold me dear Francis for what I have written. If you drive Frank from me again I think I would rather go with mamma and be relieved from the changes and chances of this variable world. I have felt for some time that the happiness I have had since Frank's return was too great to last and that I ought to expect some great overpowering sorrow to make up for it.
I forgot to mention that Mabel is here frequently, she and Frank are much together, and seem so happy in one another's company. Only the other day mamma and I were watching them from her window as they were walking together in the garden, and we could not help expressing what we had both so long thought how nice it would be if some day they were to become man and wife. I know she likes him and I believe he is very fond of her.
Write soon, and remember to tell us exactly how you are my dear husband.
Your very affectionate wife,
Mr. Leward to Mrs. Leward.
My dear Wife,—I have been sorely grieved, and I must confess astonished, at some of the remarks contained in your letter of the 24th ultimo. Frank may be affectionate to you; for me he seems to have but little affection. I speak not of outward protestations; those I neither expect or care for. I allude to those marks of affection evidenced by a desire to do that which he knows I wish. A more strict attendance on the ordinances of religion, a more appropriate seriousness of demeanour, especially on the Lord's Day; these would be among the evidences of real affection and regard for a parent's wish.
Besides this, there are the habits he indulges in, and which I particularly abominate—the smoking of tobacco, the familiarity with those who are dependent on us, and other such like things.
As to Frank's reading with a tutor with the prospect of going to Oxford, I must emphatically refuse to allow any such thing. In the first place, the idle life he has led for more than two years has quite unfitted him for such a career; and my wife should remember that I view the University of Oxford at the present time, whatever it may have been in the past, as the hot-bed of Popery, the very school of Antichrist. I should feel it as a sin, and a stain on my conscience, if I allowed any child of mine to enter there. That his friend Bampton does not make a show of his Popish proclivities in a Protestant page 71household is not to be wondered at; such people never do. I am still more astonished at what you say with regard to the probable not far distant succession to the Claydon property. I, as your mother's trustee, have a right to know how that property will be devised, and I shall not scruple to give a decided opinion to Mrs. Herbert on that subject. I am well aware that your father had so firm a belief in his wife's discretion, that he refused to allow the usual restrictions on a wife's disposing power to be imposed upon her by his will; but although she is legally entitled to dispose of the property as she thinks fit, she is enjoined by his will to take the opinion, and to be guided by the opinion, of her trustee in so disposing of it. I have consulted my lawyers on this point, and they advise me that this injunction in all probability creates an implied trust on behalf of any person I may point out as the proper devisee of the estate; and although they do not seem certain about this, they have no doubt, if the property were thrown into Chancery, a long course of litigation would ensue, and that a Court of Equity would certainly order the whole costs to be paid out of the estate, and a very serious loss be made in its value. They give many reasons for this opinion, and quote several high authorities, which it is unnecessary for me to recapitulate now; and were I to do it, I am sure you would not understand them.
But however the law may be, I am sure your good mother will feel herself morally bound to follow my advice in the disposition of the family estate. As to the savings of her income, which ought to be considerable, she page 72has a perfect right to do as she likes with them. She has not consulted me for some time as to their investment, and I do not know what has become of them. I shall take an early opportunity of seeing her, and enforcing on her the necessity of making a will at once, and of giving my opinion as to the appointments it ought to contain.
As to my own estate, I have long since determined which son shall inherit that. It has been so long in the family, that I am bound to be very careful lest its possessor should squander it away. Its respectable income I should indeed prefer to see in the hands of one who will spend it in a judicious maintenance of the dignity of our name, and in charitable and philanthropic undertakings; certainly not in the vagaries of a wandering vagabond, who seems, if he has any religious convictions at all, to lean to the side of that party whose extermination I consider it to be the duty of the State to secure, unless it wishes to see the evil days of the dark ages revived, and papal supremacy again paramount among us. Under all these circumstances, it will perhaps be better for you to undeceive Frank at once if you have really raised in his mind any serious expectations of succeeding to either property. I have already informed him that I am prepared to assist him in establishing himself on a farm, with the only proviso that it shall be situate at a distance of not less than one hundred miles from Southampton, and be at least equidistant from Bath; if, however, he prefers emigrating to a new country, I shall offer him the same liberal terms. I think the latter course would on every account be preferable. In a page 73new country he would have a good opportunity of recovering that character which he has lost, and something of that position he has forfeited at home.
As to any fanciful attachment to Miss Grey, I do not for a moment suppose that her mother, from what I know of her, would consent to a matrimonial alliance with Frank, especially when she discovers, as she soon will do, the way in which the Claydon property is likely to go. I shall feel it to be my duty to put this matter truthfully and faithfully before Mrs. Grey without any unnecessary delay. A mother, under any circumstance, is the last person capable of forming an accurate estimate of her son's worth; and in your case your small experience of the world and of character renders you peculiarly unfit even to attempt to do so.
I know you will readily submit yourself to your husband's will—a will you are solemnly pledged to honour and obey. And in conclusion, I must beg of you to be careful not to allow yourself to make an idol of your son. Children are given to parents to honour and respect them. If parents idolise their children, they may reasonably expect Heaven to visit them with those troubles and sorrows which your conscience seems to forebode as coming upon you. If such visitations do come, prepare yourself to receive them, and humble yourself under the chastening hand of God—He who is a jealous God, and wills not that we should make to ourselves an idol of any created thing.
—I remain, my dear wife, your very affectionate husband,