[From Manx Recollections, 1894]
Or late years, Philip having left school in Douglas, went to King William's College at Castletown; but in 1860 he appears to have vacated Castletown for Cambridge. It had been the boy's wish to enter the army, but his mother was completely against it, not considering, it is said, the military profession one that a Christian man should voluntarily choose. Accordingly Philip with reluctance gave up the idea of the army, and began his university studies with a view to the medical profession.
In 1862 he took his degree of B.A., which was a great relief to his parents' minds. He left Cambridge, and returned to Douglas. Whilst at Douglas at this time he became very constant in his visits at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Craigie. They had one daughter; she was several years older than Philip, but somehow or other he got drawn into a very marked intimacy with her, and eventually they became engaged. This engagement was not one of which Dr. and Mrs. Elliott approved. Mrs. Elliott would fain have sought the comfort, though too late for the advice, of her brother; but she almost feared to tell him of the projected marriage, feeling sure that he would deem the engagement premature and very ridiculous, Philip being so extremely young, to say nothing of the lady being so much older.
Whilst labouring under anxiety about Philip and his future,
the mother insensibly dwelt, if possible, more than ever on the memory of Willie.
In a letter she writes at this time she says : - "This is the birthday of one
who would be twenty-four I years of age, if he were here. But he is awaiting
another birthday into endless life, through the birth and death and resurrection
of our Redeeming Lord, who liveth and was dead, and is alive for evermore.
"Every return of spring brings us nearer and nearer to the coming spring-time of that new life. When Willie was a young child he used to amuse himself with a childish play which he called 'Dissolving Views.' One day when he was going through it in his room, he took up a little anchor and said, 'This represents Hope leaning on her anchor, and waiting for the long land.' It reminds one of the voyagers on a stormy sea who cast anchors out of the stern and wished for the day."
She wished for the day - poor mother ! - the bright resurrection morn when she should greet her darling again. Though Willie was dead he was still in a sense ever living to her. She, as it were, felt him about her, touched him with her hand, spoke to him in that ever-recurring converse of spirit with spirit. Philip, however, was now her all in all in a more material sense. As the thought of his parting from her by marriage overwhelmed her at times, she clung to him with an intensity never before so apparent. Possibly, as she regretted the step her boy had taken in regard to the future, she remembered how she too had made her choice in the matter of marriage irrespective of the odds against it; and for this reason she must bear with the son who was just after all following in her steps. Not probably that the thought made the circumstance any easier to bear, rather the reverse. What we sow that shall we also reap, was a sad and painful reflection. Happily having at last confided her doubts and her fears to her brother, he wrote her a most kind and appeasing letter, which tended considerably to lighten the cloud which had settled on her spirit; and as it was her nature to see most things couleur de rose, rue rosy tint began to appear on the surface of the marriage engagement; and she set about making all due preparations of uiind for the approaching celebration. She and Mrs. Craigie, her boy's mother-in-law elect, went frequently to gether to return calls and receive from acquaintances and friends their congratulations on the coming event. The marriage was settled to take place on June 15, 1864, Philip being twenty-one years of age. It was to be at St. Thomas's, the church the Craigies attended; and Mr. Weatherell had consented to come over and assist at the marriage service.
In keeping with the tastes of the Craigie family, the wedding was a very gay one indeed; and poor dear Mrs. Elliott joined in the festivities with all the apparent mirth and gladness of a happy parent on an auspicious occasion. And who shall say how much was real and how much assumed? Perhaps it was all real, she had such boundless faith in the love and compassion of a prayer-hearing God; and had she not confided to Him all her care I and would He not, if it was His holy will, make smooth the path of her child's feet, and bright and happy the wedded years before him?
The marriage over, and the return to a childless home, was doubtless a time of painful reaction; but this too was got over. She rose above self, and strove to realise that she had not lost but gained by the event; for she was now the mother of a daughter as well as of a dear son, and the son was the richer of a wife in addition to a fond father and mother.
The young people, of course, went on their honeymoon; and then on their return settled in Douglas until Philip had made arrangements for starting his medical career at Barrowden in Rutlandshire. Their departure did not take place until May 1866, two years after their marriage.
It was during the year 1866 the Rev. A. Hoskins was assisting at St. George's. He is now (1893) Vicar of St. James', Cheltenham. Mr. Hoskins was even at that time a gifted divine, very devoted to the cause of his Master, and with a power peculiar to himself could arrest as well as inspire the hearts of his hearers to make Christ and His salvation their possession, and the things of God their great end and enjoyment of life. A young girl of an excem tionally lively temperament, delighting in fun and amuse ment, was one day, while passing near St. George's Church, and when the bell was ringing for the week-day service, urged by a lady, her senior in years, to come in and attend the service. The idea of spending the best part of a beautiful morning in church, when a ramble in the country or a sail in the sunny bay would have been much more to her fancy, was not welcomed very cordially. The lady, how ever, pleaded, and young Miss - was induced to enter. Mr. Hoskins preached that morning; and his address was one, as was usually the case with him, of original sentiment and of peculiar spiritual unction. The young girl was affected - deeply and permanently; and all that was really spiritual in her nature was acted upon, quickened, and in tensified, and it was soon made manifest, not only in her continuing to attend on all occasions the means of grace, but in a life devoted to the service of Christ. That same young girl afterwards became one of the spiritual coterie that grouped itself round Mrs. Elliott; and together they often spoke of the indebtedness of Douglas to the services rendered by Mr. Hoskins on his visits at different periods to the Isle of Man.
Mrs. Elliott, in a letter written in February of 1866, says to her sister-in-law: "I find that Robert (her brother) is giving lectures on the Apocalypse, and I trust that the special blessing pronounced on the third verse may attend the word. Sometimes I say to Mr. Hoskins, What a comfort it would be to my brother to be near you. Robert and he would agree so well in heart and mind. Some time ago he told us that he had been dreaming of Robert. He is a saintly person of deep piety and solid learning. He gives one the idea of a sort of Richard Hooker, whom he can repeat by heart."
Her frequent interviews and delightful conversations with Mr. Hoskins at this period contributed in no small degree to alleviate her pain at parting with Philip, and lessening the sense of loneliness and want she experienced in not seeing him about her. Mr. Hoskins and she were so much of one mind that the sympathy felt and manifested by him was very grateful and comforting to her.
This good clergymen at a later date, and when he was Vicar of St. Peter's, Cheltenham, a church in a poor district among poor people, was offered a good living in a suburb of Birmingham but, not seeing his way then to leave the poor people amongst whom he was settled, he declined the eligible offer. This act raised him more than ever in the estimation of Mrs. Elliott and others of his numerous friends.
[see also Chap18 of High Bailiff Laughton's Reminiscences]