[From Manx Recollections, 1894]
When the Weatherells had been about three years in Douglas, a son was born to them. He was named Robert. This son afterwards became the Rev. R. Weatherell, M. A., St. Edmund Hall, Oxon., Rector of Elton, near Nottingham. He is now succeeded by his eldest son and namesake. The young Robert as he grew in years grew in grace, and became the loving and constant companion of little Eleanor, though she was six years his senior. He was a precocious child. old for his age, and the difference between the two was scarcely perceptible, and became less so as time went on. The children were nurtured amidst the beauty and romance of their surroundings The little brother and elder sister especially delighted in rambling together through the fields and lanes in their neighbourhood, and scrambling in the autumn for blackberries, which grew in wild abundance up the Castletown Road and adjacent hedgerows. They delighted in racing through the Nunnery groves, and in spring and summer time down their grassy slopes, purple with wild hyacinths, to the river's brink, where along its margin the splendid king-cup spread in brilliant clusters of emerald and gold. Here they sported like the butterflies overhead, their young forms sometimes hid in the dense profusion of great flowering rhododendrons, and anon re-appearing, climbing a hedge and over into the expansive meadow, marshy, but fragrant with the cuckoo-flower and odoriferous meadowsweet with its creamy feathery blossoms. Freedom and nature's endless variety of charm filled the hearts and minds, and invigorated the healthy growth of these children. They early drank at the fountain-head of pure sweet joys, and they fed upon the daily sustenance till they grew up creatures of like mould, and endued with the breath and existence of all that was "lovely and of good report." Brother and sister were similar in disposition in many respects, but Eleanor had a power and grasp of mind and a fund of effervescing spirits that were all her own. She was intensely original and therefore peculiarly interesting. Her father died when she was ten years old. About this time she was sent to school. The school she attended was conducted by two accomplished gentlewomen of the name of Dutton. It was at 31 Athol Street. Amongst her schoolfellows were Catherine Jefferson, who afterwards married the Rev. Wm. Hawley (of whom more anon), and Eleanor, youngest daughter of Major Tallan, mentioned before. Here Eleanor Weatherell remained until she was fourteen. Her animal spirits at this time are said to have been extraordinary. She was the merriest girl in the school, and at times made the tall house peal with her laughter. Strange was it that in that very house, then vibrating with her child mirth, she was in womanhood to pass through the deep shadowland of grief unutterable, and finally herself to sleep the sleep that knows no waking until "He come."
On leaving Miss Dutton's, Eleanor was sent to school to Edge Hill, a suburb of Liverpool. She was at this school for three years-three years of untold misery. Away from her home and beloved brother-away from the freedom and 'beauty of hills and dales and wild sea-coast, she pined and pined to such a degree that when her mother came to see her at the end of the three years she could hardly believe she looked on her own daughter. Her parents were tall, and when she left Douglas, Eleanor gave promise of becoming tall too, like them and like her brother and sister. Instead of which she was diminutive for her age, changed in the expression of her countenance, and crushed in spirits. it was a sad disappointing meeting for her mother; and the end of it was Eleanor was removed from school altogether.
To add to Mrs. Weatherell's vexations soon after she brought her daughter back to Douglas an epidemic of smallpox broke out in the town, owing to the want of attention by the officials to sanitary regulations. Eleanor caught the infection, and was for a long time seriously ill Fortunately when she recovered, such care had been taken of her during her illness, scarcely a mark remained indicating that she had passed through that frightful disease And gradually as she recovered her strength, she recovered also to a great extent the buoyancy of her spirits that had flagged so woefully during the time she was at school at Edge Hill. Once more the light of health and lively intelligence shone in her eye, once more a tinge of delicate pink touched her cheeks, once more she could laugh and skip along the country lanes or climb the ocean rocks, rejoicing in a sense of freedom and congenial surroundings.
During these years of Eleanor's life, if Douglas revelled in its gay little dinner parties, balls, and other social entertainments, a large section of it rejoiced in the higher and holier satisfaction of a living spiritual existence. The saintly Rev. Benjamin Philpot ministered at St. George's; and 1832 saw the beginning of the ministry and reign of the greatly honoured and beloved Dr. Carpenter. He was Incumbent of St. Barnabas in Fort Street, but his character and spiritual influence were felt in every church in the town. He was a power for God and humanity. To this day his name is held in the highest reverence; and there are those still living who can trace their spiritual birth and regeneration of life to the teaching and saintly example of this consistent earnest man. He was the instigator also of almost every good work that was set on foot in the town and neighbourhood. He cared for the bodies as well as the souls of the community; and by his means the House of Industry was built, an institution for the housing and employment of the aged and destitute poor. Visitors to the building may see the Doctor's portrait hanging in the committee-room, as if he presided still over all the deliberations held there for the benefit of the institution. He it was, too, who inaugurated the Hospital and Dispensary in Fort Street, and built and set on foot the schools connected with St. Barnabas Church, where an excellent secular education was given, but subordinate to the teaching and spiritual guidance of the Word of God. He was a father amongst his people, and from the humblest to the highest was rewarded as such. At all hours and under all circumstances he was welcome in their dwellings; his counsel was ever needed and as readily given An amusing instance of the demand for his advice is that recorded by one who knew of the incident. Miss Dutton was greatly teased at times by young gentlemen, who for mischief paraded about her house, peeping in at back doors and open windows, to attract the attention of the young ladies under her care ; and in desperation at the annoyance, she went to Dr. Carpenter and begged of him to interfere, and have the tiresome youths brought to account for their conduct.
Ah, Miss Dutton," said the Doctor, " believe me, I can do nothing, for where the girls are the boys will be! "
The Doctor was an Irishman and could not resist a little fun. He was said himself to have eloped in his youth with the lady who became his wife, and who was a baronet's daughter; the Doctor having been tutor in her father's house. Be that as it may, young Carpenter came under the power of the grace of God, and his whole soul henceforth was set on fire in the service of his Lord and Master.
When Eleanor Weatherell was about eighteen years of age she heard Dr. Carpenter preach a sermon from Matt. xxv. 34-36: "Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hundred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me:
I was in prison, and ye came unto me." The Doctor had a way of preaching peculiar to himself; it was like a father speaking to his children. There was nothing, it is said by some, very learned or exceptionally eloquent in his sermons, but in their appeals to heart and conscience all agreed they wan irresistible. His people idolised him, and hung upon his lips as if their souls went out to his. For how long the teaching and indwelling spiritual power of this preacher had been working upon the heart of young Eleanor Weatherell is unknown; it is possible, as she and her relations attended his church, that the seed had been dropping and perhaps rooting for long, and that the new life born of the Spirit of God had begun. But this particular sermon was as a glorious ray of heavenly light that streamed into the hidden depths of her nature, and caused the leaf and soon the fruit to appear of a healthy vigorous spiritual plant of life. She re~ that true faith in and love to the Lord must of t manifest and prove themselves in works to His ~and praise, and for the good of His creatures. "Peter, thou Me ? " Then, "Feed My sheep, feed My lambs - was the argument and sum total of the lesson taught and her heart; and "Love," the great commandment, other is included, was from this date forward of young Eleanor's existence.
As to where to begin her operations of service to the master the newly-aroused and enlightened disciple went to her own dear brother for sympathy and counsel. His advice was that she could not do better than begin by visiting the Widows' House at the rear of St. Barnabas Church; it would afford a fine field for the exercise of her devotion and zeal This house for poor widows is still in Mucklesgate, as the locality is called - a new building on the site of the old. Over the doorway, in the hands of a carved angel, is this inscription:-
"Widows' House, founded by Mrs. Squibbs, 1833; rebuilt by public subscription 1868. 'Let thy widows trust in me' (Jer. xlix. i i). Trustees :- Hon. and Right Rev. Horatio Powys, Bishop of Sodor and Man; Rev. J. H. Gray, Incumbent of St. Barnabas; Rev. Wm. Hawley, Chaplain of St. George's."
From the first date, it is evident the institution was only newly started when Eleanor began her visits there, and for this reason was a very likely place for a youth to recommend as a field of Christian labour, for no doubt the recent inauguration of the good work occupied the minds of many, and its merits were pretty generally discussed. At all events, there it was Eleanor began her life-service to her beloved Saviour.
From the personal appearance of the subject of this memoir later on in life, one would judge that at eighteen she must have borne a very strong likeness to Frances Ridley Havergal at that age. There was the same style of brow, contour of face, form of head, and the features not unlike-the expression was undoubtedly similar. Now it is possible that there was also a certain similarity of disposition; and it is quite conceivable that the work of grace having once begun to develop in the case of Eleanor, progressed with a like rapidity and power as in the case of Frances. Miss Havergal's friend, the Rev. Charles Snepp, says to the effect that, having made the start, he never met with any one who advanced with such rapid progress in knowledge and practice of Divine things as did Frances Havergal.
Eleanor Weatherell, it is evident from all that can be ascertained of her life's history and what will follow here, having put her hand to the plough in the work of Christ, matured in knowledge and experience in a very marked way, going from stage to stage in Divine wisdom and its fulfillment in daily life,
"Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee,"
Truly the aspiration of her young soul, as it was that of the gifted poetess and Eleanor's twin sister in grace.
At this time she was not only the subject of Divine grace and a living testimony to its power, but her intellect grew proportionately, and outstripped all youthful competitors for Imming and general acquirements. The Word of God became her daily and profound study, and the proficiency she attained in Biblical lore and sound theology was very unusual at her age. With the view of assisting herself in Bible study, she set about learning Hebrew, Greek, and Latin. French she had begun at school, but she applied herself to gain .a fuller knowledge. German, Italian, and Spanish, as time went on, she added to her studies; but never obtained more than a slight acquaintance with each. She was a voracious reader, and every branch almost of literature came readily to her, and she set herself to its acquisition. Poetry she loved and appreciated with a soul made receptive by the early study and admiration of nature. History she grasped with a masculine understanding, and was able to retain by means Of a singular memory for facts and dates. Biography she fed upon, deriving stimulus from the lives of the great and the good for the perfecting of her own character and services
About this period also she probably first began to express herself in literary composition, both in prose and verse. In pertsuit there does not appear to have been the faintest desire for distinction. She studied and wrote apparently bemuse she could not help it, or because in both she found a channel to be of further use in the service of her Master, Christ. Humanly speaking, this very unusual lack of ambition in the prosecution of a beloved pursuit is, in her case, to be regretted. Almost everything she wrote and published was anonymous, or never saw the light of day.
It might have been otherwise; she might have devoted herself far more exclusively to literature, and to good purpose. But from the date of her call to Christian service, the love of Christ and humanity bulked so largely in the eye of her heart that she felt constrained to turn into immediate and active service all the powers within her.
In addition to her literary ability and acquirements, she possessed a feature of character that betimes gained for her access to the hearts and homes of persons of all kinds and classes, and so enabled her to extend her Christian influence in a very exceptional way. The young man of the world and the dashing girl of fashion were not repelled by the simpler personality and the higher tone of life of their young companion in age and social standing. They owed her no grudge for her superiority of mind and contrasted seriousness of deportment, they liked her for her unlikeness to themselves, and they drew to her as something dependable as well as pleasant. She fortified them with her strength, and ennobled them with her nobility. It was -",without doubt mainly the result of her being so supremely natural, so utterly free from self-consciousness, and withal so kind and sympathetic. None could feel otherwise than at ease with her. She assumed nothing, she was herself, and the imitation of no one. Such persons are a rest as well as an inspiration to meet with. In writing of this delightful simplicity of manner which characterised our friend, we are reminded of a French saying " Il n'y a rien do si charmant que la simplicité et rien de si difficile."