Maria's Diary chapters 15 and 16
Happy the righteous! come what may,
Though Heaven dissolve and earth decay;
Happy the righteous man! for he
Belongs to immortality.
August 1, 1833
Our friend William Holt and his fiancee Mary Cox were married on July 25 this year, at the Church of St Anne’s. In Liverpool. Witnesses were George Cox, her brother, and Robert Holt, his brother. They will continue to live with the elder Holts for the time being. I wish we could have gone to the wedding, but with Papa up to his neck in writing up things about Mr. Bentham, there was no possibility, and of course Moma’s advanced pregnancy was against the trip too.
I have not made many notes in my diary lately, but I will put a summary of the things that have happened.
Mother produced another baby girl, whom they have named Emily Lucy Ann, but the family usually call her Lucy. She is a very good baby.
As well as his work on Mr. Bentham’s writing, Papa again went over to France, where he made close investigation into the silk trade; and he visited Belgium on a commercial mission for the government. The mark left by his work in France was not welcomed by all; as one commentator remarked,
Of all men, high or low, that I ever met in society, this Dr Bowring is the most presuming and the most conceited. He is a fit charlatan, for Whig employment; pushing and overbearing in his manner, and, like other parvenus, assuming an official importance which is highly ridiculous.
Papa just laughs when people are so critical of him.
Papa had published his book of poems based on the writing of the Slavic people. This is the one I like best. He translated it from the original language.
Upon the Turkish Boundary
A watchman saw one child alone.
“Oh God, Oh God, what bliss t’would be
If I could call that girl my own!”
I sent a letter to the maid,
And sent a ring - “The ring is thine
So give me, sweet thy love,” I said
And leave thy father’s house for mine.”
The letter reach’d the maid - she ran
And placed it in her father’s hand:
“Read oh my father if you can
And make thy daughter understand.”
The father read it - not a word
He said, but sighed - and as he rose -
“Oh Lord of Mercy! Righteous Lord!”
What heavy heavy sighs were those!
”My golden father tell me truly
Such sighs - such sadness - never pain
Heaved from the breast a heavier sigh -
“What did that wretched sheet contain?”
“Sweet daughter, I have cause to groan,
When misery on my heart is placed.
A Turk demands thee for his own.
He asks thy father for his child.”
“My golden father give me not -
Oh if thou love me do not so.
I will not leave thy humble cot -
Nay with the Turk, I dare not go.”
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do - I’ll make
A coffin, where I will be laid
And there my seeming rest I’ll take.
And thou shalt say - the maid is dead!”
And so she did - the Moslem o’er
The threshold sprung, “I’ll fetch the maid.
Oh God of Mercy and of Power!
The maid is dead. The deed is done.”
The mourning Turk his kerchief drew
And wiped his wet and weeping eyes!
“And hast thou left me - left me too,
My precious pearl! My gem-like prize!”
He bought himself a mourning dress
A dress of rosy taffety!!
Why hast thou left me in distress?
Of flowers the sweetest flower to me.”
He bade the death bells loudly toll
From every Turkish mosque and ye
I might hear the heavy grave-song roll
From Turkey even to Moldawy.
The Turk sped homeward: and the maid
Her coffin left for purer air,
“Now, God be with thee Turk!” she said
And truth was in the maiden's prayer.
March 15, 1834
This year Papa published Jeremy Bentham's ‘Deontology’ in two volumes, and yet he still had vast amounts of work to go through and publish. The books did not get a good press. Here is one such comment, “Unfortunately, John Bowring is not very good at his job.” People criticised that his name as the editor was larger on the cover than Jeremy Bentham’s as the author. Some critics described the work as ‘incomplete, incorrect and ill-arranged’, criticised both for its omissions and for errors of detail. Papa of course was very hurt by the criticism.
He also travelled in the south of France which led to a free-trade agitation in the wine district.
Papa went through the manufacturing districts of Switzerland, and reporting to parliament on the trade of that country, he showed the great advantages that had been reaped from the system of free trade.
Mother produced another baby girl this year, and she has been called Gertrude.
Perhaps I should say something more about how the rest of the family are doing education wise.
Frederick and Lewin have left their school in Exeter and are back with us in London. They now are going on to London University School, a branch which pretty much guarantees them a place in the University when they reach 18. I wonder if they would have got in, had Papa not been so important a name, but they are very lucky. Charles and Edgar are still at school, but will go to the same university school when they reach the age of 8. John Charles is keen to get into work.
The boys have brought home a friend that they met at University School but we actually had met him earlier when his family spent a few months in London and came to see us at our home in London Fields. His name is Challoner Alabaster. I like him very much, and hope we shall see more of him.
I have been able to continue with my schooling at the Quaker School, and my little sisters are going to the primary version of it.
I would like to include a bit more about an exciting experience we had in this my last year at the Quaker School. Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer came to give us a talk. She is friends with both Miss Susannah Corder and Mr. Allan who run the school. And they all have in common, their efforts to improve the lives of the common people, and free the slaves. And of course, Papa knows her.
Here is a bit of what she talked about. Her major work with Prison Reform started in 1816, when she visited the women in Newgate Prison. With the support of the female prisoners, she set up the first ever school inside an English prison and appointed a schoolmistress from among the inmates.
Encouraged by her success, Mrs. Fry set out to help the women themselves. She read the bible to them and set up a workroom where the women could make stockings. All the female prisoners agreed to abide by her rules. Against all odds, the scheme was successful. The women became more manageable and the atmosphere of the prison was transformed.
As well as her prison work, Mrs. Fry was able to improve the lot of women being transported to Australia for their crimes, providing them with a bundle of belongings to help each woman make a fresh start after their long voyage.
She instigated a project to provide libraries of books for the coastguards whose chief role of preventing smuggling made them isolated and unpopular. This was so successful that the government took over the project and extended it to the navy. She also set up the first nursing academy, to train nurses who could go into private homes and provide care for those who could not normally afford it. And she was responsible for the establishment of soup kitchens.