[From Manx Recollections, 1894]
Ir was in December when Mrs. Elliott returned home from Elton - returned to the embrace of but one of her darling children. Little Philip was to fill, he alone, the awful blank that the special darling's death had occasioned in the mother's heart and life. She missed her lost one at every turn, and in every pursuit; for wherever she went, whatever she did, in it he had had a chief share. It is marvellous to conceive how ever we rise at all from some of the crushing blows of life; but He who created us, created us for Himself, and enables us to live our life with the breath of hope and renewed vigour that He alone can and does bestow.
In December of this year Gavazzi paid Douglas a visit, and on which occasion he delivered several lectures, attended by Mrs. Weatherell, and without doubt by her daughter Eleanor. At all events the principles inculcated by the great convert from Romanism were those firmly held and established in the heart and practice of the subject of this memoir.
These lectures, denunciatory of the Pope and Popery, were listened to with grave attention by the large audiences that crowded to hear the famous ex-priest and eloquent speaker. His descriptions of the horrors of the Inquisition were so graphic and minute in their details, that numbers of his hearers spent a sleepless night after listening to the freezing recital.
One of the chief points in his appeals was to beware of the Jesuits in the great Protestant Church of England - that there were at that time in England "more than one thousand of the subtle and baneful order, besides any number of female Jesuits."
Did Gavazzi speak as less than a prophet? Let the history of the advance of Roman Catholicism in Britain since then answer the question!
In 1854 an event occurred which conspired 'as much, or more than most things, to revive in our friend's heart and mind interest in what took place around her. It was the fact that the Bishopric of Man was now vacant; and a thing perhaps previously unheard of in Church annals, the people of the island were making a strenuous effort to secure a bishop of their own selection; and who? Dr. Carpenter! Yes, Dr. CARPENTER - Who had been told four years before by the tongue of slander that his work was done in Douglas,' that he was no longer needed in the island!
A regular canvass was made; and the excitement over this business was immense. In a very short time seven hundred signatures were obtained, representing the leading ecclesiastical and lay officials and principal Church people in the island. Even the Dissenters joined the chorus of voices that clamoured for the return of the beloved Doctor. The island appeared unanimous in its desire; and no greater tribute of appreciation, of love, and of respect could surely have been paid to faithfulness in the service of Christ.
The signatures obtained, a petition was drawn up, expressing public feeling in regard to Dr. Carpenter, and its opinion of his manifold labours in the diocese; and stating that in every sense he was the spiritual overseer and guide best suited to the religious views and needs of the Manx people. This petition was forwarded to the Crown, and with eager anticipation the answer was awaited. Alas! the solicitation was rejected; and the Hon. Rev. Horatio Powys, a High Churchman, was selected instead to fill the Manx see. The lamentation was bitter from one end of the island to the other; and it became a common saying that Bishop Powys, when he accepted the diocese of Sodor and Man, "entered upon a sea (see) of troubles." He was not the man for the Manx, who had too long imbibed the evangelical teaching of former bishops and become impregnated with the spiritual influence of Dr. Carpenter and his contemporary clergy, to tolerate the idea of a ritualistic overseer of the churches.
As an instance of how the feelings of the time have never been effaced from the memory of Manxmen, it will be interesting to quote the following paragraph from the Isle of Man Times as recent as January 30, 1892
"Of the evil results of intruding a bishop with discordant views of Church doctrine and ceremonial upon a diocese like the Isle of Man, we have a striking example in Bishop Powys. A man of great personal energy, and full of love for his work and his people, his whole course as a Manx bishop was wrecked by his persistent attempts to force his High Church views upon the Manx people. Ultimately, defeated by their dogged resistance, he gave up the attempt; but so strong was the feeling against him, which had been excited by his proceedings, that he left the island, and spent the latter years of his life in the South of England, while the interests of the Manx Church suffered greatly in the conflict. The Manx Church, to this day, has not recovered from this disastrous struggle."
As we may not have occasion to mention Dr. Carpenter again, it may here be stated that he found it a difficult matter to succeed such a mighty and popular preacher as M'Neile. His ministry in Liverpool was not as successful as in the Isle of Man; too much, in some respects, was demanded of him. He afterwards, however, found a congenial sphere at Penzance, where eventually he died, adored and lamented by his people.
In 1854 a learned acquaintance of Mrs. Elliott's passed away near Edinburgh, Professor Edward Forbes. His two sisters lived in Douglas; one was a maiden lady, the other. Mrs. Matthews, was a near neighbour of the Elliotts.
She will be remembered by some, who knew her otherwise less personally, for her often-to-be-seen large open carriage under which a great greyhound careered in keeping with the pace of the horses.
This year the Isle of Man shared in the national ferment created by the declaration of war against Russia. The 26th April was appointed to be kept as a day of humiliation and prayer to avert the calamities of this disastrous campaign, The Rev. William Hawley preached two remarkable sermonf on the occasion, and gave token of the power which he subse quently exercised in the pulpit as an able and eloquent preacher.
It was soon after the events of this period that Tennyson pubhshed his "Charge of the Light Brigade," commemorative of the gallant feat of the brave six hundred at Balaclava. Few responded more heartily and appreciatively to the chorus of acclaim all over the land that greeted the production of this graphic and spirited poem than Eleanor Elliott; but a higher and far deeper appreciation of England's bard filled her heart, when alone she communed with that grent and impassioned spirit that flooded its wealth of boundless and beautiful feeling on the pages of "In Memoriam." It was the record of a great love and a great sorrow such as she herself had known and that enveloped her around with their undying memories.
As if to escape from the war-cries that filled the public ear, our friend and her boy went together to visit the English lakes about this time. It was there, especially at Grasmere, that possibly her love for Wordsworth's calm sweet poesy was intensified. And amid the silent, fairy-like scenery of that enchanting region, the mother sought to instil into her surviving son's mind something of that spirit which dwelt so richly in the heart and soul of the son who was gone. But young Philip had none or very little of his mother's and brother's imaginative temperament. He preferred to scamper about over hill and dale, exploring, and exercising his sinew and muscle.
Whilst dwelling on the pensive muse of her favourite lake poet, Mrs. Elliott also involuntarily conned and meditated upon the delicate feminine lays of Mrs. Hemans. She regarded Mrs. Hemans as a refined gentle spirit who translated the glowing emotions within her into an artistic composi tion of womanly grace and high-toned sentiment worthy of woman's warmest and purest approval. As she threaded the mazes of branching foliage by the sleeping waters of Grasmere's silvery lake, while all around the beauty and music of spring filled heart and ear - head aloft and eye mellowed with hallowed light and holy joy, she repeated half to herself and half to the silent beauteous world around the poetess's sweet lay, "The Voice of Spring :
"I come, I come! ye have called me long.
I come o'er the mountains with light and song!
Ye may trace my step o'er the wakening earth,
By the winds which tell of the violet's birth,
By the primrose-stars in the shadowy grass,
By the green leaves opening as I pass."
Mrs. Elliott's and Philip's return to Douglas was met with the news of an accident that had all but proved fatal to Frederick Grier, the former's nephew, and the son of Lieutenant-Colonel Grier. It happened in Ireland, at Tralee; he was bathing when cramp seized him and he sank. His cousin, William Dillon, had been bathing with him, and was dressing when a boy arrested his attention and pointed to the sea. William, though himself also suffering from cramp, unhesitatingly sprang into the water, and saved his cousin just as he was sinking for the last time. This brave William Dillon (we hope he is still living) was a nephew of Sir William Jeffcott, Chief Justice of Singapore, of the same family probably as the present Jeffcotts of Castletown, Isle of Man.