Monday, 2 June 2014

Rosa Raine's wanderings

I've just been looking in more detail at  Rosa Raine's 1861 Isle of Wight travelogue The Queen's Isle. Its full title is The Queen's Isle: Chapters on the Isle of Wight wherein Church Truths are blended with Island Beauties, and it's fair to say that Ms Raine views her travels through a relentlessly religious filter:
Come, gentle reader, come with me
To yon fair Island of the sea,
Where tower, and mount, and woodland lea,
The wind that stirs each rustling tree,
And every murmuring billow free,
Shall whisper holy truths to thee;
Tales of devoted Mission-bands,
Who serve the Church in distant lands.
Nevertheless, I can't help liking her: she's an enthusiast. She's wowed by the landscape and experience of the journey; she writes very clear descriptions of places, such as churches she visits, with a good sense of what background and anecdote is interesting (she's not one of these authors, like Charles Tomkins, who think we want to read the entire goddam costing sheet for the repairs of Carisbrooke Castle). And, as with John Hassell in 1790, you have the impression of a real and very energetic person engaging with what they see. I'm thoroughly in agreement with the Hampshire Telegraph reviewer:
The delay in noticing this charming little work is the result more of necessity than of inadvertence. The object of the authoress, who has performed her work con amore, is to describe the chief features of the Isle of Wight, and to blend "church truths" with her description of natural beauties. And she has done her task remarkably. The objects of interest and attraction in the Island are very felicitiously described, and where religious sentiment is enunciated, it is expressed without offensive intrusion. Miss Raine exhibits the spirit of an earnest Christian, and has written for the profit and edification, as well as the entertainment, of those who read her very admirable work.
- Literary Notices, Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle etc (Portsmouth, England), Saturday, December 14, 1861; Issue 3245
A sample:
But perhaps you are an excellent climber, and love scrambling: if so, I can here promise you ample amusement. I assure you it is quite an adventurous undertaking to scale the precipitous sides of these steep and slippery downs; if you do not like to make the attempt, we will ascend the winding road leading to Wroxall and Appuldercombe, in order that you may behold the admirable coup d'oeil of Ventnor, as seen from a lofty elevation. The Undercliff appears incomparably beautiful, when viewed from an overlooking eminence. Further along, between S. Lawrence Shute and Niton, there is, for a considerable distance, a narrow path on the summit of the cliff: those who possess sufficient courage to skirt the edge of the precipice by this unfrequented and almost inaccessible track, will be richly repaid by the luxuriance of the prospect stretched beneath their feet; the Undercliff, in its exceeding lovelinessthe ocean, in its invincible majesty.
    I have, many a time, climbed the almost perpendicular face of the Down, from any spot whence I might happen to find it convenient to ascend; but I would not recommened every one to pursue the same course ...
- p 99, The Queen's Isle,, 1861 (Internet Archive queensislechapt00raingoog)
The title page lists Rosa Raine as "authoress of Rosa's Summer Wanderings, Floreat Ecclesia, Restoration of the Jews, etc". Rosa's Summer Wanderings (1858, Google Books xQkHAAAAQAAJ) is in the same vein, but taking us north to the Lake District (it's an expanded compilation of a series of articles from 1850 in the Churchman's Companion magazine). Floreat Ecclesia! (A manual of Church poesy, 1851, Google Books OQgDAAAAQAAJ) is an anthology of religious poetry, its particular thrust being to argue to importance of Christian ministry, in areas such as the English poor, where Ms Raine saw the risk of "an evil and perverse generation" developing. Restoration of the Jews and the Duties of English Churchmen in that Respect (1860) was a pamphlet arguing it the duty of the English church to help forward the fulfilment of prophecies of the restoration of the Jews to the Holy Land (see review). Her other works included the 1861 Verses for Church Schools - and the reference to "Edith Aubrey" appears to refer to a tract Edith Aubrey; or, the Wet Sunday, reprinted in the Church Sunday School Magazine in 1849.

A bit of research finds Rosa Raine was Charlotte Rosa Raine (1819-1894), a distinctly wealthy unmarried lady; obituaries show she had income from her late father's shares in the Lambeth Water Company, and properties in the Isle of Wight, Brighton, and Oxfordshire.
Among many interesting bequests may be noted that of her lands and here­ditaments in the parish of Wolvercot, Oxfordshire, to Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill, "in recognition of his commanding political genius, and also in acknowledgment to the Marlborough family of the favours.and benefits derived from the Marlborough estates by my late father, who had the honour of acting as receiver of these estates under the Court of Chancery."
- The Westminster Budget, 5 October 1894, p 6
In later life, however, she lived at Ryde. The Fashionable List in the Hampshire Advertiser finds her first at George Street, Ryde, as a visitor with her father (e.g. "Mr and Miss Rosa Raine ... May 09, 1863") but after his death in 1867, she progressively upsized via "Purbeck House" and "Melbourne Cottage, Swanmore-road" to settle eventually at Haylands Manor in the Ryde suburb of Swanmore. There she devoted her life to writing and good works for the parish of St. Michael and All Angels, Swanmore (for which she was a major contributor to the building of the new chancel in 1873). There's a good summary of her Ryde life in the Ryde Social Heritage Group Newsletter / Volume 8, Number 1, January 2013 / Beyond the Graves. The RSHG

Possibly she would have been disappointed by achieving brief posthumous fame: not for her good works, but for the provisions of her bequests, which made it into worldwide syndication under the "Eccentric will" headings in a number of publications. After more mundane bequests to religious charities, it gave extensive and specific provisions for the welfare of her cats:
The will of Miss Charlotte Rosa Raine is a very eccentric one. She died worth £86,000, and after disposing of this, she refers in tones of endearment to her cats. She gives her dear old white puss Titiens, and her pussies Tabby Rolla, Tabby Jennefee, and black and white Ursula, to Ann Elizabeth Matthews, and she directs her executors to pay her £12 a year for the maintenance of each cat so long as it shall live; her long-haired white puss Louise, and her black and white puss Dr. Clausman, to her hand-maiden Elizabeth Willloughby, and her black Ebony and white Oscar to Miss Lavinia Sophia Beck; and her executors are directed to pay them also £12 a year for each of their pussies so long as it shall live. All the remainder of her pussies she gives to the said Ann Elizabeth Matthews, and she directs her executors to pay her out of the balance of the dividends of her late father's Lambeth Waterworks shares £150 a year for their maintenance so long as any of them shall live, "but this is not to extend to kittens afterwards born".
- An Eccentric Will, Evening Post [Wellington, NZ], Volume XLVIII, Issue 131, 1 December 1894, Page 1
- Ray

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