[Bonchurch—Wednesday, 20 July 1859]
Wednesday 20th of July. Roved over the cliff side gathering wild flowers, always surprised by their delicious fragrance in which they much surpass ours and talking still of Tennyson. We read a little from Ruskin’s delightful new book “The Two Poets” sitting on the cliff side. Yesterday Mr Edmund Peel called. He stayed nearly two hours. A dear old man, full of Christian sympathies and no end of knowledge. He thinks Tennyson mistaken about the French and thinks moreover that the English people would rise in sufficient strength to overthrow an invading force however large. He says John Simpkins of Ventnor expresses the voice of the people and when he asks John’s opinion he says We allers has done a’, Sir, and I doana why we shunna nou. Mr Peel has served in the army himself. He is a cousin of the great Sir Robert but has always suffered ill-health and has lived quietly here on a very small income for years. He is a poet and has sent us his little volumes. We sat in our sweet flower-scented parlor feeding the birds from the window-sill or reading and writing by turns until late in the afternoon when we started to climb to the top of the lofting down (800 feet high) overhanging our stone cottage. Had it been a difficult ascent we should have been amply rewarded. It was only pleasant with Jamie to assist and the view superb. The glowing sea and the speck-like ships on the one hand, and the diversified sunny slopes of the hillsides waving with grain and shining with wild-flowers on the other. We ran merrily down, as the sun descended. Arriving with grand appetites we found the table spread & all as fresh & pretty as possible in our room. A wonderful storm of thunder and lightning lasted nearly all night.