Roundell Palmer's Memorials
Memorials. Part I. Family and Personal. 1766-1865. Roundell Palmer, Earl of Selborne. Volume 1. London, Macmillan & Co. Ltd. 1896. Index
THE loss of my brother Henry at sea, in the winter of 1834-35, was one of the turning-points of my life. There are, I suppose, such turning-points for good or for evil in the lives of most men. My Mother’s illness had begun in me, and my intercourse with Frederic Faber and Lady Winchilsea had confirmed, resolutions and efforts after a worthier life; they were fixed by this calamity.
Henry, after Tom’s death, was my next brother; he was born in 1816, there were nearly four years between us. He had not the same turn for Latin and Greek with most of us; ill-health and sorrow had disabled my Father from doing for him after we went to school all that had been done for us. He had no companion in the schoolroom. He was of a docile and lovable disposition, and in face more like my Father than the rest of us. He was sent for a year or two to Rugby; after which it was decided that he should go into the naval merchant service of the East India Company, some of the splendid ships belonging to which were owned wholly or in part by the house of business in Kings’ Arms Yard, in which my Grandfather had been, and my uncle Horsley was then, the leading partner. My Father loved him all the more for the disadvantages under which he suffered in comparison with William and myself.
[The following letters were written by the Rev. W. J. Palmer to his son Henry on the dates given.]
Addressed to Henry at Rugby, June 1830
[The beginning is torn off. ]
...Our Father and our God comes forth to meet us, and makes the first advances towards peace and reconciliation. Only let a man say “I have sinned,” and it is also said “The Lord hath put away thy sin,” and let the rest of that man’s life be a life of just humiliation, and sincere repentance; not indeed without the sense of God’s mercy, and the consolations of faith and of religion, nor without an especial blessing upon the fruits of his repentance.
Guilt like goodness, Henry, is in its own nature diffusive and can never rest alone. Remember then, I beseech you, that an offence is never single. Its consequences never rest with the offender only. In any particular instance of sin and shame, it happens much oftener than otherwise, that more than one are concerned; but the consequences and the pain always extend themselves, even to the innocent, and afflict those most who love us most. Oh, Henry! if one of our children should fall, if one should perish, the distinguished merit, the advancement, the affection of all the rest would not compensate for the loss of that one, or prevent grief or sorrow from embittering the remainder of our days.
But do not either forget that it is with us as it is with God. Repentance and recovery, though it cannot undo, may yet redeem. As God has been pleased to liken His own love to that of a father for his child, so we may be assured an earthly parent is ever ready to forgive also, and with joy perceives and helps the fruits of repentance. Peace, blessed peace, even on earth, will follow; and in the consciousness of peace the mind regains its rest. Nor shall any happiness, any gratification, be denied to any of us under such circumstances; whatever may be consistent with the completion of recovery, and the final perfection of character in holiness and purity and truth. Labour, however, meanwhile, and sorrow, may be expected, and hardships to be borne; but there is hope in the end—vile and unworthy as we are-such are the tender mercies of our God. Only let us never forget this one thing, that without turning away from what is base and sinful, without confession and without repentance, mercy is not, cannot be, for us.
My heart is too full, and it would be out of place to enter now upon other subjects; but I shall take an early opportunity of entering upon topics relating to your future. Circumstances point out the necessity of adopting without delay whatever course you are to follow, and of prosecuting it earnestly I shall pray always for your success, dear Henry, which will yet depend on yourself, and would be no success if not accompanied by the approbation of Almighty God.—I remain, your ever most affectionate friend and Father,
W. J. Palmer.
His first voyage was as a midshipman in the Dunira, leaving England in August 1830. He returned home in the following year, and sailed again in the same ship in February 1832, visiting, on both voyages, India and China. After her return from the voyage of 1832-33, the Dunira was broken up, and he was transferred (the China trade having been then opened to general competition) to another merchant vessel of a very different class, the Elizabeth, in which his relations had no interest.
Mixbury, 16th January 1832.
My Dear Henry—The very great personal loss we have sustained in Captain Wilson requires much thought and reflection on our part as to our future plans. Be most careful to lose nothing you have already acquired, and which may be of use hereafter whereon to build a more perfect acquaintance with languages and literature. You must therefore make it your object to retain your Greek and Latin; while you push as far as possible under the advantages of your situation a practical and theoretical knowledge of geometry, and make yourself familiar with the construction and use of instruments. Morally you must, above all, most anxiously bear in mind the influence of personal habits upon the soul which is the intellectual part, as well as upon the prospects of that comfort in this life, and that happiness in the next, which we are in wisdom and mercy made naturally and ardently to desire. And you must remember the value of your example, as a senior now in the Midshipman’s berth, as affecting the conduct and welfare of others also, and the responsibility that consequently attaches on you.—Most affectionately, my dear son, yours ever,
W. J. Palmer.
His Father wrote to him while at Gravesend on 16th April 1833.
My Dear Henry—See and read the 32nd Psalm. I have already, my dearest Henry, destroyed your letter, nor shall the subject be ever more remembered. I knew you were but a child; and I hoped therefore it would please God to touch your heart. He has touched it, and He will also heal. Let this one thing, however, never be forgotten by you or me, how that we were standing on the brink of a precipice together. One step more and we had been lost! when the providence of God in a way sufficiently apparent—of His infinite love and mercy, His undeserved mercy, His unspeakable love—hath delivered us. For you will perceive now, though but a child then, that the first act is as the first link of a chain which binds men to a course of sin and guilt, from which, however they may stand continually self-condemned, they are unable to escape. But let us thank God—for it was His act—the chain is broken.
I write now, my dearest Henry, without fear, but I should be inexcusable if I did not write; for you are young and liable to temptation both from within and from without, therefore still keep watch. You know also what you are most exposed to, therefore deny yourself, and flee that. Pray also for help. Be still employed, industrious, sober, diligent. Follow boldly the line which Providence, hitherto so much your friend, hath marked out; God shall prosper your honest efforts, and your success shall be no less profitable and consolatory to your parents, than your elder brothers—to be emulated also by those who come after.
One only charge I have, that you continue to love one another, and cultivate it among yourselves-not in word only, but in deed, by acts of mutual kindness as opportunity may offer. And I know indeed that you are so disposed. Cultivate it then, and let the disposition grow.
We shall all be truly glad to see you here as soon as you can be spared; and all send their love, and have been delighted with all the more than kind mention you have found in every letter from other quarters that have reached us during the voyage. Madras, Bengal, China, every quarter, on ship-board and on shore, all have spoken in your praise; and God grant that when they shall know all-even in that day when all things shall be revealed before the throne of God-they may praise you still!
Your Mother sends you her blessing and her love. She longs to see you, and participates in all that I have written. Thank God, she is much better than she has been, and though confined to her bed and unable to turn herself, she is cheerful and in good looks; and, although her amendment does not keep pace with our wishes, Mr. Tuckwell expresses a confirmed confidence in her ultimate recovery.—I am, my dear son, your ever most affectionate,
W. J. Palmer.
And two months later:—
Mixbury, 3rd June 1833.
My Dear Henry—I need not tell you that I contemplate the commencement of the present voyage with more than ordinary concern, not only on account of its probable length and the uncertainty of your return at the end of it, but as you are embarking now for the first time with strangers, and every hope rests and centres on yourself; to yourself alone, under Providence, you must now look for your own; comfort and well-being, and for the fulfilment you may desire of my fond and earnest aspirations—to which I know your gratitude and love will prompt you, no less than your own natural desires for credit and honourable esteem among men-leading you to profit in the rational and faithful use and temperate enjoyment of the things of the present life, which, so far as may be consistent with His gracious designs for your everlasting welfare in Christ Jesus our Lord, may God grant you to the full!
With respect to Whom, however, as an example to all His followers, “He went about doing good”; that He lived but for others, and to do His Father’s will; that He rejected the wealth and power, and what are commonly esteemed the comforts of this life, though He was the Lord of all. Therefore, my dear son, in all that is permitted us to desire and to seek now, it must be with reference still to the greater objects of our faith and hopes hereafter.
In the assiduous discharge of our duty in that state of life, whatever it may be, to which the Providence of God may be pleased to call us, with moderate desires thus chastened, with watchfulness over ourselves, and with humble confession of unworthiness, and with prayer for help, the honest and industrious employment of time from day to day will prove the most effectual safeguard against temptation, leading too frequently to sin and guilt.
With respect to what is immediately before you, I have not much to say, for the gratifying testimony from every quarter that reached us during the last voyage, as well as my own observation since, assure me that you can be wanting in nothing that becomes the officer and the gentleman, nor indeed, as I hope, in that which is the very pith and heart of all, what may become a Christian and one of God’s children too.
Steady good-conduct with patience, a well-governed tongue, and a ready hand, not only best serve ourselves, but more frequently and effectually than we think, serve our Lord too, in the promotion of His glorious work. I refer to the known influence which the example of one individual has on many, especially on those below him or about him. And I feel sure that the savour of yours in the Dunira will be long felt and acknowledged.
You have well attended to my parting words at Gravesend in February ‘32.
There is a fault which I will here mention, not so much because I have observed it in you, as because it is one to which young people especially are liable, and which, indeed, is too often seen in older ones, but few young ones are altogether without it. That confidence in their own view and apprehension of things which makes them unwilling to give up an argument, disposes them to be strong and positive in assertion, and ever desirous of having the last word. I mention this, not because I have observed anything of this while you were with us,  but because, unless you are unlike every person of your family, you must needs have a little of it in you, and should be on your guard against it. The fact is, it is a fault arising from inexperience, and it often gives offence where none is intended, or ought indeed to have been taken; and among persons, strange to each other, or without the feelings of mutual affection, who must yet live together as gentlemen, it sometimes leads to serious disputes and quarrels,—I beseech you therefore be on your guard against it. If you differ in opinion, let it be only in opinion; give your reasons if you please, and avoid contradiction; and if your reasons do not satisfy, drop the subject; and suppose even that you may be wrong, or imperfectly acquainted with the matter in question. Others must be allowed to see and think as well as ourselves, and it very often happens that we find ourselves to be wrong when we are most confident of being otherwise. God bless you, dear Henry, and keep you His mercies have been very great—keep you yourself. You will be ever in my thoughts and those of your dear Mother and all your brothers and sisters. Happy days remain for you-many I hope-happy ones at Mixbury. But we must carry a mind about us above time and place.—Your ever affectionate
W. J. Palmer.
The Elizabeth left Gravesend on the 22nd July 1833, Henry being junior officer. It was soon apparent that the voyage would be uncomfortable, if not dangerous. The captain was ill; the crew were chiefly raw landsmen; the duty of the watch was severe; the ship was so ill found in stores and other necessaries, that he predicted, before she had got farther down the Channel than Brighton, that “unless they had a most extraordinary fine voyage she would be short of many things before getting home.” She reached China, however, in safety; and received orders to return by way of Canada, and to take in there one of those cargoes of timber which have so often been fatal in the winter season to ships better equipped than the Elizabeth. The tone of Henry’s letters, to my brother William especially, though far from cheerful as to the conditions of the ship, gave great satisfaction to my Father; who had also, from what had passed between them when he was last at home, such an assurance of his resolution to do what was right, as it was most comfortable to look back upon after his loss.
[The reasons which led to Henry’s joining the Elizabeth are given to the friend in Hong- Kong, referred to in the note.
I wrote to you last year about Henry and his prospects without the privity of anyone but my wife; we are satisfied entirely that for all, but especially for the young, work without profit is better than profit without work. You would therefore certainly have conferred no favour on me or mine, had you kept Henry with you without sufficient employment; and as no more eligible employment offered in the meantime, I advised Henry to go to sea again as early as he could get a berth.
Roundell has just taken his degree with that distinction which his friends were led to expect. The rest of the young ones are all well, which I cannot say of their dear Mother.
They are keeping the oft-recurring holiday of a birthday at our sister Mary’s at Finmere while I stay with Dorothea.]
Mixbury, 10th June 1834.
My dearest Henry—Your brothers and sisters are all well and looking forward with some impatience to meeting you. It is just a year since you joined us at the Commemoration, and we are now there again. It is a grand one. The Duke of Wellington, our new Chancellor, is to be installed, and we have grandees without end. Your uncle Roundell has taken lodgings for the week. Tickets for the theatre are very scarce. To-day is the first day; foreign Ambassadors, Dukes, Marquesses, and Earls without number are to be made Doctors. I have got tickets for your sisters and shall take them. William has come from Durham and Roundell is on the spot. By the bye Roundell has taken his degree with great honour, and has since then, within the last week, been fortunate enough to obtain Eldon’s Scholarship. He is one of those appointed to recite an Ode in the theatre in compliment to the new Chancellor; his day is Friday. Good-bye. God bless you, dear Henry, and have you always in His keeping. Believe me ever your most affectionate Father and faithful friend,
W. J. Palmer.
News came of the safe arrival of the ship at Quebec in the autumn of 1834; but on the 3rd February 1835 a report of her total loss in the St. Lawrence appeared in some of the newspapers. It was said to have taken place off Green Island; and, if that report had been true, the crew would probably have been saved. Another ship, the William Money, on board which was Mr. Silvester, a son of the curate of Buckingham, was wrecked in the same neighbourhood on the 23rd of November; and Mr. Silvester (who arrived safely in England on the 1st of February) passed the Elizabeth in the river about sixty miles below Quebec, while returning in a schooner to that port. He boarded her, and saw Henry on the 25th of November, safe and well.  This was the last that was ever seen or heard of the ship, or any of her crew, except that her pilot left her on the 28th of November.
I saw the newspaper report at Oxford, and at once gave up hope. I wrote to my Father on the 3rd February:—
I feel the hand of Providence more heavy upon me in this instance than if it had been a common loss; for death alone is not so dreadful, or the sudden and violent departure of dear friends so distressing, to those who believe in the promises of the Gospel, since the death of the good is only a change of doubt for certainty, and of trial for happiness. What I feel so heavily is my own responsibility for too many of the faults for which he is now called upon to account before the tribunal of God. So far from using the influence which my age and situation gave me over him some years ago, I cannot help remembering that, when best employed, it was employed frivolously and lightly. I confess this with deep humiliation and sorrow; and I feel that, if my brother is now, as we trust, one of the blessed, I have had no part in fitting him for that happy state. If it should be otherwise, what have not I to answer for! But, indeed, I have a confidence in my hope, because, ever since he began active life, his character and conduct has given constant proofs of an increasing seriousness, which promised a life of piety and virtue. Still, my fault is not the less, though my mind may be relieved from the fear of its awful consequences; and the solemn warning of his death forces upon me consideration of the state of my own mind. I fear much that if I had been called so suddenly away, your trust in my salvation might not have been equally well grounded. The love of the world and of worldly things is so strong within me, that I often doubt if I shall ever have strength to overcome it; and, while I have never ceased to worship God with my lips and with my reason, my heart and my actions have been too often in rebellion against Him. I greatly fear that my worldly success hitherto, and the prospect of worldly riches and power held out by the profession I have chosen, too much encourages this state of mind. I have been upon my knees to God, and I am now opening my heart to you; and, while I do so, I cannot, and I would not wish to, conceal that I have often thought of late that I should more consult the welfare of my soul by abandoning all worldly views, and consecrating myself to the service of God in the ministry. Hitherto I have resisted this feeling, because I thought it might arise from the perverse inclination of the human heart to wander after other blessings than those already in its possession, and from inconstancy of purpose in myself. Yet I cannot so far deceive myself as to imagine that I have yet subdued that bad ambition which alone made me desirous of entering the profession of the law, and which still strives to lead me on, though I am sensible of its evil nature. Could I again believe my ambition to be justifiable, or conducive to my spiritual welfare, I should not repent of my choice. Do I repent now, you will say? In my better moments I do repent, though too often not. The profession is a very dangerous one, and I think particularly dangerous to me. I trust, my dearest Father, that these thoughts will not be a painful intrusion upon your hour of sorrow. God has so abundantly bestowed upon you the gifts of His Spirit, that I feel you will be supported, and assist to support my dear Mother under this affliction, and still have consolation and counsel to bestow upon me. May He grant me grace to profit by it, to the salvation of my own soul, the welfare of my fellow-creatures, and His eternal glory.
My Father replied:—
You have written the dictates of your heart, in the full persuasion that you had lost a brother; and, though I trust it is not so, I must answer you as though it were. If, indeed, our dear Henry is gone, it is assuredly our duty, not only to submit to the dispensations of our Heavenly Father, but to submit even with thankfulness through faith that it is for good. Nor are we to forget that we are His creatures, and have no right over ourselves much less over what concerns another, with respect to whom we do indeed believe that, as the Son of God died, in whom our brother believed, and for whose sake he sought forgiveness of his offences, his offences have been forgiven, and he is in peace; while it is our part, as instructed by the Royal Penitent, to arise and eat bread, yea, to go into the house of God and worship, seeing, indeed, that we shall go to him, but he shall not return to us. Although we hope, as I have already said, there are other things in store for us, let these be our sentiments whenever the time comes, which must come, and that soon and often, seeing we are many, and have many brethren and friends. For yourself, my dear Roundell, and as regards your brother, I feel that you task yourself somewhat too severely. Yet I would you should never forget, how much we may all, and everyone, have to answer for, in respect of the offence of others; but, thanks be to God, we have time yet before us, in which we may show our sense of whatever has been done amiss, and strengthen one another.
He then dissuaded me from contemplating any change of my profession, saying that it had been chosen for me, and ought not the less to be so thought of, because I had made the choice my own.
If you are sensible of the temptations that await the men of this world, then be on your guard against them; never forget that you are of this world only for another. And, as for wealth and honour and name, etc., and the moral evils that are too often attendant upon them, it may be wise at present to think little about them. Probably they may never come. Only, if they do, pray that you may use them aright; be humble, and escape the evil. There is a good Providence, however, in all these things, upon which we shall do well to depend; and upon which whoever does depend, It shall never fail him. The accidents of the day are sufficient to show this; for God is able both to save and to withdraw His servants from evil to come. Go on, then; go on, and prosper. And God give you always humility and moderation, and an earnest desire to serve Him in your generation, through faith in the Redeemer. And may the blessings of love and unity and friendship and affection unite you and your brothers and your sisters, everyone, to the day of your death. And God grant that this may be to everyone a day of hope and peace!
Long and terrible was the suspense; no authentic information ever came. A spirit less noble, less thoroughly Christian than my Father’s must have broken down under the strain. It left its mark upon him, visibly and permanently, but his courage and resignation never failed. February, March, April, May, June, successively passed away; inquiries were made in every direction, but with no result. The report of the ship’s loss was traced to Halifax, which encouraged hope, but how it originated there nobody could discover; and at last it was concluded that the ship’s name had been mistaken, and that the report which appeared in the newspapers really related, not to the Elizabeth, but to the William Money. It was soon ascertained that the Elizabeth had not been wrecked near Green Island; and then the rumour was that the disaster had happened off Cape Gaspé, near the entrance to the gulf. The owner, Mr. Nicol of Liverpool, wrote to my Father in March, that “he understood crews of ships had been frozen up for two, and even for four, months together on some one or other of the islands of the gulf, and that there was a great probability of the same having happened to the crew of the Elizabeth.” Afterwards it was thought likely that Anticosti, the largest island in the gulf, might have been the place where she foundered; in which case, if the crew had lived through the winter, they were not likely to be heard of till the ice broke up, and the navigation again became open.
Vessels (my Father wrote upon the 5th of May) are frequently lost upon this island; and crews have passed the winter upon it, and made their appearance in the spring. Yet even in this case, there would be much to contend with—wreck, possible want of provisions, and great severity of climate, on a large uninhabited island... It is the practice to make depôts of provisions in various parts of Anticosti for the use of shipwrecked mariners in the winter, with directions where, in case of necessity, they are to be found, and thus the crews of many vessels; have been preserved. God, my dear Roundell, alone knows what is best; and if we pray to Him, and depend upon Him; He will ever do it. A very few weeks are almost sure to bring us some intelligence. Till then, it is best for us to rest, as we may, in the hope that if they survive we shall soon meet and if not, in the consoling thought that the trial with them has been long over. They are in peace; grief, henceforth, is for us alone; and that not long either.
At the beginning of June the first ship of the season was reported as having arrived at Quebec, without seeing any other vessel in her passage through the gulf. My Father dared no longer to hope, but, he spoke words of consolation and of faith, trusting that others called upon to bear the same suffering might have the same support; “for others had their parents, friends, and dear relations, as our Henry his,” Several vain reports, calculated to revive hope, but resting on no solid foundation, were circulated during that month. The communications between all parts of the coasts of the gulf and of Newfoundland were reopened on the disappearance of the ice, but still nothing was heard. My Father wrote on the 4th of July:—
The conclusion, I fear, is too certain, that there is no survivor… This indeed, my dear Roundell, is a very severe blow upon us all, but upon me in particular. Regrets are, indeed, natural, and they are unavailing. If I feel my loss, I have at least the unspeakable consolation of a humble but confident reliance upon the mercy and goodness of God, that he has been received in peace; others, I hope, the partners of his distress, now over, with him too. Only let us remember that we live but for this; that the time is short; then shall the disappointment of a mortal hope, the grief, the tears of the present, be forgotten; nay, perhaps they shall minister to the joy of a future meeting.
It was on the 2nd of August that we put on mourning for Henry. I was at Haverholme Priory, a house belonging to Lord Winchilsea in Lincolnshire, spending a second long vacation with Lord Maidstone, who was to go in for his examination during the following term at Oxford. All the rest of our family were at Mixbury, and the day was one of special observance there. My Father wrote me an account of it, enclosing the prayer which he had used, with a memorandum of the dates (21st February and 30th June) at which his first hopes had been successively shaken, and at length extinguished; and “a text of assurance from our blessed Lord Himself, that nothing can ever happen to us without the notice, permission, and decree of Almighty God: ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.’” Then he said of my letter of the 3rd February:—
It affords me now the very best source of consolation, under a loss the greatness of which I did not then appreciate, in the thought that we had good reason to believe it had not befallen us. I will, however, cease to speak of that, and endeavour also to cease feeling it as a loss, of which we have far more sure ground of hope that, to a son and brother dearly beloved, It has been indeed again; the distress and anguish of the struggle, being past and over. And while I cannot but acknowledge the right of Him that gave life, not absolutely, but for a term only and for a use, to resume His own, I am sensible of the many and substantial subjects of joy and gratulation He hath continued to vouchsafe us—chief, that I spiritually behold this day our Henry yet present with us. I see him, indeed, in the perfection of that graver and severer look which you justly observe he had begun already to assume, but full of kindness and duty and affection still; unaffected by terrors that have passed away; declaring to us the love of God our Saviour, who willeth not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his sin and live,—who hath even now pardoned and received him to a place of rest and safety, where he abideth in the hope of glory, desiring only that his parents and his brethren may be partakers with him in the same. And I feel, my dear Roundell, that by the grace and help of God, and through His inestimable love and mercy, notwithstanding our many and great offences—I feel as if his desire and our own, in that respect, should be gratified to the full. It remains only, that for a few days we bear with one another’s infirmities; consoling our brethren with our conversation, and assisting them with our means, and promoting with earnest zeal the glorious work of our Redeemer upon earth; not forgetting that our good or evil will not abide with ourselves; but, as on the one hand we may corrupt others, so also, if we do well, they who see our good works shall themselves learn to glorify our Father which is in heaven.
William wrote to me on the same subject at the end of the month:
I wish you had been there too on that evening, and we should all—that is, all of us that remain—have been able to join together in the prayer which my Father added. I could wish, too, if it were possible, that whenever any of us should go, all the survivors should meet and use the same prayer, till, if it please God, it be accomplished on us all.  How very quick our lives have begun to pass! Does it not seem as if it were only yesterday that Tom died? It does to me. How careful we ought to be of ourselves, and how dearly we ought to love one another! I hope and trust we shall; out we are so weak, so miserably weak, that, if life be well over, it is certainly no matter of regret. There is a letter of my Grandmother’s concerning the loss of my Uncle Edward, which my Aunt Mary showed me not long ago. It is a most excellent letter, and might have been written only the other day on our own loss; I wish you would read it too—written under the same circumstances, by one whose memory is so dear to us all, who felt then as we feel now. She seemed to live to a good old age afterwards, but, in reality, how short a time was it that they were separated! Where is it all now? But I must stop myself… Feelings, which are life and death to the heart, look too much like truisms on paper.
[To THE HONOURABLE ARTHUR GORDON
2nd September 1870.
I wish I could, in some faint degree, express the true and real sympathy we feel for the long-continued anxiety and trial, which Lady Aberdeen has had to endure on your nephew’s account, now brought to so sad a close.
It brings back to my mind the most painful (in some respects) of all my own early recollections, when I lost a brother at sea, whose fate was for many months uncertain, and was never cleared up by any positive intelligence. My Father’s long and patient suffering, at that time, is vividly impressed upon my memory; and I am, therefore, not wholly unable to understand what Lady Aberdeen has had to go through. She has, I know, the one source of strength and consolation which is sufficient for every trial; and I am glad to hear from you, that the announcement of her son’s loss was accompanied by so strong a testimony to his personal character and conduct. R. P.]
Edwin Palmer, aged eleven, wrote on Sunday, 25th October 1835, from Mixbury to his sister Eleanor then at Hastings:
I have taken this opportunity of writing to you though Horsley is doing the same. My greyhound had the misfortune about a fortnight ago to hurt one of his eyes, which has consequently become blind. Since we had Fly (the dog we borrowed to run with mine) we have caught several things—namely, one full-grown hare, a brace of leverets, and two brace of rabbits: one of the rabbits we caught in the garden which abounds with them (Mama has had some very fine dahlias late in the year): Horsley’s dog that broke his leg is still at Mixbury, as it cannot walk on its leg; we are seldom out coursing less than twice a week, though sometimes three or four times. You will hear from Horsley all the particulars of his visit to Oxford, therefore I shall say nothing about it, excepting that he bought some fireworks there which he let off on the night of his return; this set my fancy agoing, so we asked for and obtained leave to go to Buckingham together yesterday morning in the gig and bought two sky-rockets, two Roman candles, a Bengal light, and six Cathrinweels, which we let off at night to the admiration of everybody, only Mama was alarmed thinking that one of the rockets flew over the house, but she was mistaken, as one went towards the top of the garden, and the other only over the poplar trees towards the church. You have got by the basket the last melon off my bed, but I cannot warrant its goodness. Pray tell Mary to pick up and bring home as great a store of unpolished pebbles as she conveniently can and do the same yourself. I hope that Miss Wall, my Aunt Mary, yourself, Mary, and Emma, are quite well, pray give my love to them all. The house at Mixbury is getting on slowly, though all the work outside is done, they have pulled down the back and garret staircases, and the wall of the pantry, they have also pulled down that piece of wall of the room opposite the nursery, against which the wardrobe used to stand. I have got no more to say now, except that Mama is the same as common, so believe me, ever your affectionate brother,
“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.”
O God, whose never-failing Providence ordereth all things both in Heaven and Earth! Whose mercy is over all Thy works! But for Thy Son’s sake regardeth chiefly the Children of Men! Give Thy servants grace humbly to accept with faith and hope all Thy dispensations; and when Thou art pleased to take from them One, naturally and dearly beloved, then comfort Thou Thy servants with the thought, that it is Thy will! And let them still remember, that in a very few years, with Thee only as days, themselves also and all their generation shall be gathered unto their Fathers,—that they may apply their hearts unto wisdom! And, whenever the day of their visitation cometh, do not Thou forsake them! But grant that Thy servants and all their Brethren may, by Thy mighty power, be supported under their affliction, and delivered out of their distress! And so long as it shall be Thy good pleasure for them to continue, grant that they may always profit in that which shall befall them, as Thou wouldst have them profit,—that their repentance may be still renewed,—their faith increased,—and that they may grow in grace, and give Thee thanks always even to their lives’ end, through Jesus Christ, Thy Son our Lord! Amen!