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The Oceanides, Edited by Judith Pascoe

 

S.C. Hall, from Retrospect of a Long Life: From 1815-1883. NY: D. Appleton and Company, 1883. 389-90.

THE SISTERS JEWSBURY. — In September, 1880, I was present at the burial of Geraldine Jewsbury in the cemetery at Brompton. Her grave is adjacent to that of her friend Lady Morgan. Geraldine had attained the age of sixty-eight. Her many published works bear witness to her industry as well as ability. We knew her when she was little more than a child, and had much affection for her during the whole of her long life. Her health was never good; it would have surprised none of her friends to have heard of her death much earlier than it occurred. She lived in her latter years at a pretty cottage at Sevenoaks, but died at an excellent institution for invalid ladies in Burwood Place, where we frequently visited her. Her mind was not weakened by illness, and it was in a happy state of preparation for the change that was inevitable. Among the very earliest of our literary friends was her sister Mary Jane, whose signature, M.J.J., obtained wide celebrity between the years 1825 and 1830. In 1832 she was married, in a little church among the Welsh mountains, to the Rev. W.K. Fletcher, one of the chaplains of the Hon. East India Company. She accompanied him to India, and fourteen months after her marriage she was laid in the grave at Poonah, a victim to cholera.

It was a brief life, but not inglorious; she has left much that is calculated to do good, and merit, if not obtain, fame. Mrs. Hemans much loved her, and wore mourning for her; and great Wordsworth was proud to call himself her friend.

She had a foreboding of early death. In one of her latest letters before leaving England she wrote:

"In the best of everything I have done you will find one leading idea—Death ; all thoughts, all images, all contrasts of thoughts and images, are derived from living much in the valley of that shadow."

One of her letters to Mrs. Hall contains this passage: "I am melancholy by nature; cheerful on principle."

Mary Jane Jewsbury was thus one of the earliest friends we lost as her sister Geraldine was one of the latest—nearly half a century having elapsed between the death of the one and the death of the other.

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November 2003