I cannot help it, if it is at the same time largely an account of my own life, because we became, as you know, truly united.
Her name, Ethel, means noble and she was true to her name. Her whole life was lived in Zululand, except for her schooldays at St. Anne's and the two years in Dundee, while I was away 1916 - 1918.
She told me from time to time a little about her childhood and especially of her father's great love to her; how when she had pneumonia, as a little girl, he nursed her tenderly and devotedly. He was always very proud of her, with good reason, for with her regular features, her very blue eyes and abundance of light brown hair, she was a very lovely child. Some of their neighbours, their magistrate, Dick Addison, a good many of her school mates and a young farmer I met in the train, all spoke spontaneously of her beauty. More than this. her affectionate nature, her humilty and a certain pretty shyness, which she had through life gave her great beauty of expression.
She loved her old Dad very dearly and admired him but feared him. She said that only once did he speak to her in anger, but that was terrible.
He made a companion of her as much as he could in his busy life. He taught her, while still very young to ride, took her with him, when possible, riding around his outstations, and had her with him in Durban while he was recovering from an illness.
Mum learned very early to have no fear of horses and to be fond of them. She had a nice seat in her side saddle and rode gracefully.
She was sent to St. Anne's at ten years old. On the way she spent a night with Dean Barker's wife in Ladysmith. Mrs. Barker told me with amusement and sympathy, how this little girl had wondered, what her mother would do on washing day without her to help.
Ethel went by the name of Margy at school, there being other Ethels. Literary accomplishments were not in her line, but I have been told that she was the prettiest girl in the school and the best dancer. Also she learned to play the violin pleasingly. The opportunities for games at that time were surprisingly inadequate, one tennis court for 80 girls and no Hockey, so she never learned to play games. She made one great friend, Winnie Findley and plenty of other friends, whom I met afterwards and who valued her. By her own account during her last year or so at school, she became a bit frivilous, finding herself attractive to boys. It never amounted to more than a mischevious smile or look, but Mum in her innocence felt that she had been wicked.
As her home was in the power of the Boers, when she left school she went to stay with her friend Winnie in Durban, then on to Byrne finally coming home in July 1900.
I had been at St. Augustine's about a month. I well remember riding a tall, fresh horse with four of her brothers and sisters to meet her at Vant's drift - a most unpropitious meeting, for my horse, incited by Austin and Douglas and unrestrained by a novice like myself, ran away and deposited me in a sandy donga. I always accused Mum of laughing and I bet she did, though she stoutly denied it. Bishop Lee, in his descriptive way, speaks of his being met at Malonjeni about a year later by "this lovely girl". Luckily for me he was already engaged, for he was full of admiration. "This lovely girl" just describes her. She was beautifully built, of middle height, deep chested with dainty hands and feet, regular features, bright blue and expressive eyes, a sensitive mouth, all crowned by the most beautiful hair which I have ever seen on any woman. It was then a medium brown, shot with golden light, abundant and curly. Her weakest feature was her mouth, which showed her unduly diffident and sensitive, a weakness which disappeared, as she grew older, more content and more sure of herself. She never lost her beautiful humility and her strength of character developed with the deepening of her religion, of her affections and experience. I don't want to represent your dear mother to you as perfect. She had, as everyone else, the defects of her qualities. Her humility and distrust of herself and her powers made her fear too much and sometimes venture too little. Although when any emergency arose, she invariably proved herself brave and resolute and able to deal with it.
While travelling up through Zululand with Bishop Carter, I heard him discuss to R.B. Davies the advent of your mother; how she would settle down on a lonely mission station. What she would find to do: whether she would be happy or too frivilous for such a life. They were pessimistic not knowing the soundness of her character and the wisdom of her old father. He and Mum were devoted to each other and she would do anything for him. So, as C.B. was teaching the younger children, he put her in charge of the outside work, which she managed admirably. It was no sinecure, as shortly after he and I attended a sale of captured stock near Dundee, to my amazement he bid for a lot of 10 horses, then 20 more, among which a horse, lame from a bullet wound, was allowed to run in. Then he bought 300 sheep. They were all deplorable objects - the horses full of mange and the sheep of scab. They sold at 3 pounds a horse and 3/- a sheep. Of course a number died, but Mum saved nearly all the horses and about half of the sheep. Carry - Brendte ? and I chaffed her for in those days she seemed to be always shouting at natives, dipping, smearing, dosing sick animals. The military bought four or five of the horses, when they recovered, more than paying the cost of all 30. Some of the others were sold and some kept for use. The sheep fed St Augustine's for many a day, and I believe Grandpa (Charles Johnson) sold several hundred of their descendants some years later. A wonderful spec, which your Mum's work made profitable.
Of course I fell in love with Mum. I helped her with the horses, and learnt a lot about them in the process. As I was sent to take services at outstations it was her job to give me breakfast early. I felt as Geraint did to Enid at those breakfasts..
"And seeing her so sweet and servicable,
Geraint had longing in him evermore,
To stoop and kiss the tender little thumb
That crossed the trencher as she laid it down."
Ethel was only 19 and on my way to synod with her father I asked him, if I might try to get her to marry me. He questioned me a bit, but when he saw that I was in earnest, he agreed, and I think that he was pleased. Looking back I think that I did my lovemaking very badly. Mum was not sure of me; she did not want to be a priest's wife, partly because it seemed to entail poverty and also because she did not feel good enough. She had seen how hard a struggle her parents were having; how rough and lacking in niceness and comfort their home was, although she and her sisters gradually altered that. She had also made a girlish compact with Winnie Findlay never to marry. So she turned me down, saying that she was "only a kid" - a saying which, became one of our own private jokes afterwards. - Winnie of course ran off and married her cousin soon after.
I was sent to Vryheid for nearly two years. I more of less forgot Mum, but not completely. So I went back to have another try. I walked one night out of Vryheid, and as it happened right between the Boer Commandos, once spotting some Boers without being seen and getting to Inkandla by daybreak. I actually heard heavy rifle fire, Botha scuppering Gough's Mounted infantry. It was a jolly good walk of 50 miles; luckily I had a horse for the last 12, as my boots had shrunk and were killing me. But Mum in the mean time had become engaged to a farmer at Byrne, a man much older than herself. However her people were against it and that engagegment was broken off.
I was still fond of Mum, and my mother, Granny, asked her over to Vryheid for a visit (wily old Granny). I still remember that ride over with your mother. She and I often talked of it. I can still see the end of it; my dear mother coming out and taking Mum in her arms, captivating her at once. They loved each other from first sight. Mum always said that Granny and the affection which Granny and I had for each other, dispelled her doubts. Just (as) I had been convinced that so loving a daughter would make a loving wife. She was still shy and timid, although she had become fond of me and when after a week or two I proposed again, she began to say that she was not sure. I was and I could see that she cared, so I kissed her until she gave in. From that time your Mum gave me her heart. She was slow to give, but once she gave her love, she gave it completely, generously and permanently. Right through our engagement and married life - 40 years, she has not only loved me, but has enjoyed showing her love and she never let me get slack or perfunctory in my outward demonstrations of love towards her. If she felt that a goodbye or a goodnight kiss was perfunctory, she reproached me and made me kiss in a way which she felt was real. She was quite right. It is well to remember that a loving woman hates to be taken for granted. If you want to preserve deep and conscious affection and retain the joy of it, you must court your wife all your days. Age will dull your passion, but you must never let it dull your affections.
Your mother and I, thanks mostly to her deep affection and wisdom, were lovers to the end of her life. A few days before she died, she made me, not that I needed persuasion, take her in my arms and make love to her, as though we were young man and maid; a most happy outflow of love and tenderness.
We had a happy courtship for two years and wrote the usual sort of letters. I rode over from Vryheid, when I could get to see her, and to receive welcome, which I never forget.
One thing I must say about your mother, which you too must have noticed. She did plenty of hard and even dirty work, but was always scrupulously clan and tidy in her person and dress - never sloppy or unkempt. She kept her lovely hair beautifully, it was always alive because she took trouble with it. Some women slack off after marriage. Your mother never did and I have never seen her look undesirable.
I was sent to Kambula in 1904 and was given £230 to build a house. Grandpa planned it and I got up a substantial stone house for £280. We must go and see it some day. In January 1906 we were married at St. Augustine's by Grandpa and Bishop Vybysan ? preached to us about making a new home. When we went off, Mum took the reins to drive to Dundee and one of my jokes was that she had kept them ever since - a libel, which she indignantly denied. We had a lovely honeymoon in Friend Addison's house at Umvoti mouth. Then we settled at Kambula, which Mum said she loved best of all our homes. The cold bracing climate suited her and she bloomed there. We had friendly neighbours, the Bridsons, Humphries, Griegs, the Seagers, a little gaiety and plenty of work. The Dutch farmers round, especially the van Collers made friends with us and being on a trek road many people came in.
Friend Addison (1848-1924) was Walter's first cousin, the eldest son of his Aunt Juliana Addison née Hallowes and her husband William Henry Addison M.D.
Mum became an excellent housewife. She left the outside work to me, though she was interetsted in it and supervised when I was away. She looked after her house and improved it; she cured hams and bacon (though she hated touching raw meat). She fed us well. You can estimate her efficiency by the fact that although we had to keep three horses and to feed them well to travel that wide parish - 100 miles long - and though our income was only £200 a year, we never got into debt. The credit is of course mainly hers, for she was clever in practical ways.
At first she travelled much with me, until babies made it difficult. We had an admirable trek up the Pongola valley, staying at outstations and Boer farms. My Dutch friends were greatly taken with her; one could see the men put on their very best manners for her and the women warmly welcomed her, both appreciating her and delighted with her half - shy friendliness. We stayed for some days at Isibabe ? a country of forests and rushing streams. We slept in a bell tent and after my work was over went down into the forest for walks. Mum enjoyed this all immensly - her hosts European and native, the grandeur of the scenery and the trekking with me. This first year we grew together in very close companionship: she got to know my people and my outstations, so that, as she said, she could picture me, when she could not come herself.
Then the Babies came. Charlie 1906, Brab 1908, Francis 1910, Ken 1913 and Rupert 1916. You know what a wise and loving mother she was to you, but always kept you disciplined. She never let you become hooligans or go native. Some rather high up government officials stayed a night with us once and wrote afterwards to say how struck they were to find a refined English home out on the veldt. We had not much money, but your mother never let down her standard of fitness and decency. She managed servants really well. One can remember them Meshak, Dade or Aida, Estelle, Nesta and at Etalaneni Rosalina, Merita, Elisa and here at Eshowe Mdwayise, and remember them all with gratitude for good and faithful service given to a mistress, whom they loved and respected.
I had to farm a bit for our own food and that of the horses. Mum chipped in as much as she could and as I had to be away half the month, she kept the outside boys, William and Mtshigeni at work. Also the natives regarded her as my alter geo and brought parish matters to her in my absence. I had bought a mower and she especially enjoyed our hay-making. We had a good vegetable garden and a flower garden full of lovely roses. Your Mum was a great home-maker. There was little money, but she made the most of it. Her self-sacrifice was amazing. She was a beautiful woman, made for pretty things and with all a woman's love for pretty clothes, but she put up with cheap dresses and never murmured. I had difficulty in getting her to buy any but the barest neccessities for herself, and when she needed something, which I had not noticed, she came to me with a deprecating manner, half-ashamed to ask. This always deeply touched me. I had to question her, as to whether there was anything she needed. If I bought her anything - dress lengths, stockings etc. as I did sometimes, when I had been to meetings away, she thanked me, as if I had given her diamonds. - She was quite fearless of natives and not nervous when alone in the house at night.
One thing I particularly like to remember about Mum is the way in which she behaved to dear old Granny. She was perfect to her, reverencing her, loving her and readily learning from her long experience of life and deep spirituality. The relations of these two, the best women I have known and the greatest blessings of my life, were very beautiful in their mutual esteem and affection. Granny admired Mum immensely, her beauty, her riding and efficiency; she loved her for herself, as well as for having made me such a happy man. She treaated Mum with wisdom, giving her experience and advice in a way, which did not hurt or annoy. Mum on her side with her lovely humility and good sense was not too proud to learn, both in everyday matters and even more in spiritual. She often told me with gratitude how much Granny had taught her. There was never a cloud between these two. You older ones perhaps remember that Granny stayed with Mum in Dundee for the summer of 1917. She was so happy that she wrote to me, then in France, to ask, if she might live with us always, giving as a reason that Ethel's sweetness and gentleness were such a comfort to her. One of the most satisfying of my memories is of Granny and your dear Mum together.
In 1911 Mum and I went to England for six months. We stayed at first with Aunt Lonie in London, where with the help of my cousin, Lena Egerton, we bought clothes. Mum was pleased and Lena amused, because I had very definite ideas, as to what suited Mum best and firmly rejected quite a lot of things. Her best colour was blue, which emphasised the pretty colour of her eyes, - It was a cheap time and Granny had lent me £200, so for once Mum was fitted up with a first class outfit. She protested at the extravagance, but Lena and I were quite firm and as Lena was an experienced and well dressed Londoner, I think that we did the job well and we certainly enjoyed it. Mum did her best to look shocked, but could not conceal her delight.
We stayed with my brothers and sisters, Francis and Mattie ? in Dorsetshire, Bernie and Gracie in Derbyshire, Kitty in Oxford, Beatrice and Alec in Melrose, the little Aunts (Etty and Winnie) near Lake Windermere. They all loved and admired her, confided in her and drew her out. In spite of her shyness she was soon at home with them all. She had not much to say to people she did not know well, but wherever we went the women thought her sweet and often told me so, and the men admired her. The most notable thing we saw was the Coronation procession of King George V. We had good seats in the Mall and a splendid view. We stayed for a time at Hampton Court to be near Uncle Francis who was with the 600 officers from Indian regiments and we saw Lord Kitchener inspect them in their very gorgeous uniforms, some of the princes blazing with diamonds in their turbans. We went to many plays; in fact we did a real splash. All this was made possible because Aunt Aggie had found us a splendid girl, Dora, who took charge of Francis, aged 8 months.
Mum proved herself as good with white servants as with native and Dora wept to part with her and Francis, when we sailed.
Mum's stay in England was a very happy one. It was a hot, dry summer and she enjoyed every minute of it. As regards people it was a triumph. I don't know how many told me, how lucky I was. - She only disappointed (temporarily) ones, were Uncle Bernie's children, whom he had deluded into expecting a black Zulu Aunt.
It was a full time. We saw the lovely West Country, the English lakes, where we made many excursions, Derbyshire, where we went to Haddon Hall, from which our ancestor Dorothy Vernon eloped. Glapwell, then still Hallowes property, Dethwick, which the family got from Francis Babington, executed in Queen Elizabeth's reign for High Treason, attempting to rescue Mary Queen of Scots. At Aunt Beatrice's, whose house was in the grounds of lovely Melrose Abbey, Mum became a great favourite with the eight children. She made a name for herself by her masterly handling of Lazybones, the pony, who was in the habit of doing just what he liked. When the rein and whip were handed to Mum, Lazybones, much to his astonishment and the admiration of the family, found that he had to give up his usual saunter and trot out like a decent pony. Ethel's mastery of Lazybones became a legend in the Ferrier family. We had a month with Kitty in Oxford, where Mum saw all my old haunts, my college and rooms, my old tutor and where she learned to row, as we were often on the river. It was a very full experience for dear Mum; London in Coronation year, the West Country, Derbyshire, Oxford, the Lakes, the Lothians and Edinburgh, Lincoln, Birmingham. She loved every bit of it, and not least the affection and admiration of our people for her baby, Francis. The only fly in the ointment was that I had to wander all over England speaking and preaching and was often not with her. She told me that she was never entirely happy,. when we were seperated. This was natural.
To identify the relatives with whom Walter and Ethel Hallowes stayed during their visit in Coronation Year 1911:
(Uncle) Francis and Mattie: Major Francis Hallowes and his wife Martha, née Beadon. They were also over for the Coronation; Major Hallowes was one of the six hundred Indian Army Officers who actually took part in the Coronation Procession. They were staying in Dorsetshire; their daughter Martha would later marry into a Dorset family, the Syndercombe Bowers of Fontmell Parva.
Bernie and Gracie: The Rev. Bernard Hallowes, at this time Rector of Shirland in Derbyshire, and his wife Grace, née Thoms.
Kitty : Katherine Brabazon Hallowes, living in Oxford, well before her marriage (in 1920) to Adoph Schilling and their emigration to British Columbia.
Beatrice and Alec: Beatrice Ferrier, née Hallowes, her husband the Rev. Alexander Ferrier (she was his second wife), and their children.
Lena Egerton: Caroline Mary Egerton, née Lewis, widow of Richard Egerton, late Resident Magistrate in Jamaica.
The little Aunts (Etty and Winnie): Ethel Irene Marian Jenkinson (1872-1955) and Winfred Lovel Jenkinson (1873-1939 ), sisters of Margaret Ethel Hallowes' mother, Margaret Emily Johnson née Jenkinson. Neither of them ever married; they made their home in Heversham, Westmorland, near Lake Windermere. Winifred died just before WW2; Ethel, though over 70, took in two evacuees in 1941; as well remembered by one of them, Tom Sawyer.
Aunt Lonie: (probably) Mary Eleanor Colville, née Hallowes, wife of the Rev. Gerald Colville, at this time Rector of Weston under Lyziard.
We left in October in a small Rennie boat, putting out into a storm. The waves swept the deck and I had a bad fall with Francis in my arms, but luckily it was only my arm that was hurt. It turned out a happy voyage. Ethel made great friends with both passengers and officers, many of whom came to Durban station to see us off at the end of it. I am glad today that Mum had this most lovely trip and holiday. She often spoke of the different people and places she had met and the people she had seen. It gave her very happy recollections.
We settled down for 6 more years at Kambula. Mum could do no parish work there; she had not the time with babies arriving and her young family to care for, and she was not adapted to be a curate. God makes many kinds of people and He made her to be a very perfect wife and mother, the greatest of all spheres for a woman; but wider gifts and interests she lacked. I tried to persuade her to do more in the parish, but she was right in refusing. However apart from the effect (of) her example, all our natives found that in approaching me, they could not do better than to persuade her to be their intercessor. With her perfect mastery of their language her sympathy, they knew that they would not be misunderstood and that she would be their advocate in any just cause. Looking back I can see more clearly, though I realised it then, what a strength she was to the Church and to me. How many mistakes and troubles she saved me from God only knows. She did not interfere or try to run the parish, but I cannot remember that I ever refused her gentle advocacy. Her judgement with regard to natives was very sure, and they rightly had a great respect and affection for her. She was their "Inkosikazi", the daughter of a house with a great and honoured name. The fact that we had no real revolt in any of our native congregations, is no little due to the confidence, which the Zulu people had in her.
She made friends also with the Europeans, especially with the Lipscombes, Radfords and Hansons at Paulpietersburg.
Then came the war and in 1916 I was asked to go with the SANLC to France. Your dear Mum did not at first see, why I should go and was very unhappy, but she let me go and was very proud of it afterwards. She was very anxious especially when I was at sea. You, boys, know better than I do how she fitted herself in at Dundee; how she joined in the social and Church life of the community and made friends; how she looked after you all and took you for holidays to St Augustines. She showed herself a very capable and gallant little Mum. We were both home-sick for each other and very glad to get together again. But those two years taught her independence and gave her strength. Her photo taken at that time with Rupert - the best one there is of her, shows a firmness and decision of character not apparent in earlier pictures of her.
We were sent after my return to Etalaneni. She never liked the place. She missed you boys, as you went off to school and she was lonely though I was not away so much. She did some very useful and effective Church work with the Mothers' Union and Girl Guides. We had no more children, though we never used contraceptives. She longed for another baby, a girl preferably, if it were given her. No doubt it was for the best, as we had a job to educate you five. We made plenty of friends, Workmores ?, Tittlestads and Robbins, and she much enjoyed her visits to Qudeni especially when Charlie and Brab started farming there. She was absolutely thrilled when you boys came home for the holidays. Probably that gloomy mission house made her dislike Etalaneni. Still I don't think that she was really unhappy there, until an unfortunate incident happened. A wretched girl, sister to Christian Magwaza, the head teacher, imagined that she was bewitched and accused an old lover of hers, whom her family enveigled into their kraal and assaulted. Mum was called, as I was away, and she pluckily went to the rescue.
The Magwazas were half demented and would not listen to her. However she prevented any further assault and probably save the man from serious injury. As you know Mum was not naturally a bold person, but she had the courage to withstand a dangerous crowd of natives, maddened by superstition. When she failed to quieten them, she told the man to run, as she barred pursuit, she was knocked over and hurt. Then she ran too. Your Mum showed the best kind of courage. She feared quite reasonably and yet did her duty taking the risk. - This incident greatly upset her. It is the only occasion when natives treated her with disrespect. They had always recognised her as their friend, as one who understood them and interceded for them. The congregation were most indignant and came in a body to express their sorrow. But I know that Mum would not be happy at Etalaneni especially with all of you away.
Eshowe was offered to me and both the Bishop and Archdeacon urged me to take the work. We had a wonderful send off from the Etalaneni parish, where I had built 10 churches and other buildings and had done a lot of work, much increasing the congregations. In all our fairwells both Europeans and natives laid special emphasis on the esteem, in which they held your mother and the value, which they gave to her work and her example.
Mum enjoyed her life at Eshowe in spite of her gradual loss of health. It was her first taste of civilisation for a good many years; the house was small but bright and comfortable and she made many friends. She was contrary to her misgivings most attractive to Europeans. The people at Eshowe, as they got to know her, cared for her more and more. She wore well. She was shy and shrank from any prominent position especially if it entailed speaking. But she was modest, kind and a good mixer. She was content with the lowest seat, and it was her friends who urged her, "Come up higher." In her diffidence she rather allowed others to make the first advances, but she responded sincerely to their friendliness. She was particularly gracious to my boy and girl confirmands and young communicants, taking much trouble to entertain them. She could not teach except by example, but whatever success I had at Eshowe was largely due to her sweetness and goodness. She made a holy life look beautiful. Everyone took to her - the Brockwells, Cheesmans, Martins, Hoo? Fosters, Adams, Stewarts, Chennells, Robinsons, Poyntons and a host of others, also the coast people especially the Roaches, Offers, L.P. Johnsons, the Shuters ? and Tedders. They did not merely like her, but also sensed the goodness in her. Time and again they have said, "Why did you not bring Mrs. Hallowes?" or "We do miss her when she is not in Church: We like to have her there in her place." She never made an enemy or dragged me into any difficulty by gossip or an indiscreet word. She never paraded her affection for me, but it was so much a part of her, that all our people knew it, and regarded her as a very perfect wife. In the same way she never boasted of you, her sons, but most people knew of her pride in you and of your affection for her. One of them said to me recently, "Well she had a very full life." She was very proud of you all. Her face brightened, when your letters came; she was particularly happy that you married good girls and was very pleased at Ken's engagement, which she heard of before she died. She felt especially blessed, as you turned out into God fearing efficient men. She did not understand much about Rugby and Athletics, but she was much interested in your doings and was glad that she had given you sound healthy bodies. Quite often she expressed her satisfaction that she had seen Francis win a big race. That was most amusing. I was shouting lustily at Francis to make sure that he would hear me and our shy Mum was trying to make me shut up. But she tuned up with the rest of us, when Francis came leading down the straight. - She was very proud of Charlie's strength and manliness. And she was was very proud that Ken had saved his money and used it, to ;prepare and to respond to God's call to the Ministry. She had not, like Granny, an ambition that one of her sons should be ordained, but she was very delighted, when the call came to Ken.
Mum's first illness was an attack of Malaria in 1933. I had taken a lot of risk in 1932, fighting the malaria epidemic and had come through unscathed. In 1933 there were very few cases. I had to be away for four days at the Leper Institution and at Maidstone for a Lent service. Mum pleaded to go with me, stayed out too late in a garden and contracted Malaria in an acute form. She had to go to hospital, recovered and never had another attack, but I think that damage to her kidneys was due to this illness. I blame myself for letting her come to the coast at that time. A couple of years later she was in hospital again with terrible nosebleeding.
But I have gone too far. In 1927 her father, Archdeacon Johnson, died. Mum and I stayed in Durban for some weeks to comfort him. We had to go back to work and I still picture my dear girl coming into my arms to have her cry, when we had the news of his death. At the request of her family Mum also went to Johannesburg to be with her dying mother. The terrible condition her poor mother got into before her death, gave Mum a horror of death.
Mum's relation with her brothers and sisters were always most affectionate especially with her sisters. We had jolly holidays with Hilda, Ida and Ora. Brab's marriage with Di interested her much and she longed to see her "Umsutu" and his pretty bride and the grandchildren when they arrived. I am sure that Di would have fallen for her, as did her other daughters.
In 1937 Mum's health and mine deteriorated to such an extent that the Bishop decided that we must go to England to recruit and for me to revive interest in the mission. The Doctors were scared about me but I don't think they quite realised the very serious condition of Mum's heart. To make matters worse she broke her arm. The parish were greatly concerned and almost bundled us out of Eshowe, and most generously gave us £185 for our holiday with much affection. We were sent off in a hurry.
Mum's arm mended and we rested for a time with relations. Then Mum went to the Aunties while I travelled on deputation work. While I was up at Newcastle I was horrified and frightened by a letter, which was a cry for help from Mum, who as you know never complained. I rushed across to Heversham and was told by the local doctor that she was dying. I woke up the Aunties to the fact thast she must be kept still in bed. I had one important engagement at Nottingham - an address to the representitives of all the missionary guilds of the diocese and had to leave her for two days and also to make arrangements for a place in London. I am sure that Mum gained by it, as I pocketed my pride and selfconsciousness and told them something of Mum's life and the danger and asked for their prayers. I am sure that the prayers of 300 picked people count for much. Mrs. Oscroft got her husband, the Archdeacon's brother, to take me straight from the meeting to Ethel. We drove 200 miles through the night. Then I took Ethel to London to Gemfy Beedon's flat. S.P.G. sent us to a specialist Dr. Frith, who gave us some encouragement, but not much. I scratched all my engagements and stayed with Mum, celebrated for her frequently and cheered her up. She asked me anxiously, if she were dying. I could not lie to her and told her that her heart was bad, but that she was in our Father's hands and that many people were praying for her, so that we must pray and trust. She lay on a couch at Gemfy's from October to June. At first she could not walk without support, but her strength gradually returned. A Dr. Creighton attended her once a week. She fascinated him, as he, a very busy man, always stayed half an hour, sometimes more, to talk to her and after six months his charge was only a token payment. - After Mum had recovered a bit, I undertook Sunday work and gradually a little more on the understanding that I should have three or four days a week with Mum. I preached in many places, in Cathedrals such as Exeter and St. Albans to 2 000 people, in Churches large and small and everywhere I asked for prayers for Mum. I was reluctant to seem to appeal for sympathy, but I was very desperate. Mum was magnificent, full of faith and courage. Also our very real love gave me the power to soothe and cheer her in her distress - a very great privilege. She faced things resolutely and happily. Gemffy and her servant Bridget were more than good to us. After a time Dr. Creighton (said) that she must be taken out, so I bought an invalid chair in which I wheeled her to Ravenscourt Park, opposite our flat and later on down to the river. Ken came along for his Xmas Vac and was most cheering with his jolly ways. All you boys had the power of cheering up your mother. The Park grew lovely with the spring flowers later on. We saw the Boat race, the Naval and Military Tournament, the King and Queen. We had to be very careful to avoid all shocks and exertion and to keep Mum happy. Thanks to her patience and Courage we were very successful, but her recovery was God's work and due to the thousands of people, who were praying for her.
Dr. Creighton gave us leave to travel with some misgivings. However Mum improved daily on the voyage and after we reached Eshowe, she did not take long to resume a careful, but normal life. We had the joy of Francis and Betty's happy marriage and of Helen, of whom we were both very fond, going off gallantly to marry Rupert. I took Mum every now and then to the the doctor and she continued a heart tonic. We both hoped that with care she would live many years ... I am sure that she was happier than ever before. She drew nearer to God, in thankfulness that her life had been spared and her religious life became deeper. In the past we had a few quarrels, which hurt her sensitive nature, though we made them up quickly. We both cared too much for it to be possible to be long at varience. In her years of weak health we had only so far as I can remember one dispute and not a serious one. She became more forthcoming to people and drew in return more out of them. She knew that many cared for her especially Rita Roach, Mrs Hoo Foster, Elsie Stewart, Ann Robinson, Myra Johnson. Then Charlie took his farm and he and Nora were a joy to her. After that Francis and Betty came with little Jonathan and afterwards Timpy. She enjoyed having her people with her. Betty was dear to both of us; she understood Mum and gave her both Companionship and amusement.
In January Mum had a slight stroke from which she never wholly recovered.
My retirement was due and I resigned not only on account of my age and failing powers but because I meant to use my leisure to make the sunset of her days as full and happy as possible. Her last weeks of life were very happy. I shall always treasure the memory of them. Our people, as if they had a premonition of her death, surrounded her with affection. They visited her and made much of her. They gave us a splendid present of £150, did up our house and grounds at St. Columba's and told her repeatedly how glad they were that we were to stay in Eshowe. Harry Jacobs was particularly good to us. We moved and arranged the house without much exertion to her and I started putting the gounds into order and planting. She was bright and interested in it all. And she liked having me more to herself. Uncle Ernest and Elsie came and Mum thoroughly enjoyed their affectionate companionship and the former's jokes.
Then came the end, just as she would have wished it; two sharp strokes and two spasms of fear, which thank God I was able to soothe quickly. Then gradual lethargy and unconsciousness.
She was spared, what she told Betty, she dreaded, long invalidism and disfigurement. On the last night in hospital Mrs. Chennels looking down at her dear face whispered to me "How beautiful she is!" and so she was. Her age and wrinkles had gone. She was like a young girl again sleeping. So passed my beloved to be with God.
Time will never dim my memory of her. I think of her continually, not of her death but of her as she was in life; not clever or intellectual; not a sport in the usual sense, but utterly sincere and true, pure with a horror of anything unclean or sordid, full of common sense and homely wisdom; willing for any sacrifice for those whom she loved, but above all my life-long sweetheart and a wife with a perfect genius for loving and for drawing love.
I am sorry, deeply sorry, for all the occasions when I was inconsiderate and bad-tempered causing her pain. But I know that, unworthy of her as I was, for nearly all the time I contented her. In her heart she was rather afraid of her parents and of many people, but she was not in the least afraid of me. She spoke her mind to me freely and fearlessly, knowing that I belonged to her wholly and taking care that it should be so. Without being exacting she claimed all her rights in me and in doing so she ensured her happiness and mine. Her welsh mother gave her a touch of warmth and passion, which lighted both our lives; her sturdy Yorkshire father her steadfastness and sound common sense.
Her religion was inarticulate on the whole. Her belief in the real truths of the faith was simple and uncritical, but deep - a real part of her. As she matured and especially latterly she was very conscious of the joy and strength of believing. She not only prayed but meditated daily and she liked me to say my daily office with her. Her communions meant much to her.
If you compare her picture, looking up at me as a young bride with that of her at about 38, holding Rupert, you can see the growing strength of her character. Bishop Lee noticed it and said in his address at her burial, "When I first came to Zululand this most beautiful young girl came to drive me to St Augustines, but in my eyes that beauty grew into something yet more beautiful, as she grew older." It is quite true. She continued to grow in spiritual power and so in essential beauty to the end. You and I are disappointed that we have not been given the chance of giving her a long and happy retirement surrounded by our love and service. But this is only our loss not her's.
How greatly must our Saviour love her, who is so loveable and how happy must she be with her parents and my mother, receiving comfort and joy, beyond our capacity of giving. I am truly glad that her sensitive heart has not had to bear the grief of mine in our seperation.
Our people here and elsewhere mourned her deeply. 150 sent wreaths, though the notice was short. There were many hundred, Europeans, coloured and natives at her funeral. Over 200 letters of sorrow were sent to me. The Bishop, an old friend, said truly that the passing of such, as she, into the eternal life is not a sorrow but a triumph.
This parting and loss of companionship are only for a short time, if we live worthily as she did, in the fear and love of God.
Main transcription completed and downloaded 23/8/1998.
Latest additons 23/3/2005