Josephine Butler to Miss Forsaith

Scope and Content

Photocopy of letter. Written from Frascati, Tusculum.

'Gladstone made such a fine speech on leaving the House of Commons'. He resigned on 3 Mar 1894 but no one ever sends her a paper now. She has moved out to the village of Frascati to 'get out of the tainted air [of Rome]' and hopes to get to her sister's house in Naples shortly. She wishes to give them some account of her illness and recovery and then not to speak of it again. She was struck down by this sickness (Roman malarial fever) and was deprived almost of sense and volition. She had five weeks of torment. During this time she had to have two nurses night and day and the doctor came three times a day. Then one morning she woke to find herself alone and had a spiritual experience in which she felt the presence of Christ. She asked for healing and received it (it was like a great burden being rolled away) and in spite of weakness is slowly getting her strength back. She is not discouraged by her work in Italy being apparently stopped: 'He has given me signs the last few days that the little seed sown is not lost'. This letter is to be shown to few people (these include Miss Whitehead and Harriet [who lives with Miss Forsaith]).

Administrative / Biographical History

In the month of Feb (1894) The House of Lords had rejected home rule, crabbed the reform of local government and killed an employers' Liability Bill. On 1 Mar Gladstone referring to all this said that 'the differences between the houses had in the present year created a 'state of things, at which we are compelled to say that in our judgment it cannot continue'; and controversy, 'when once raised, must go forward to an issue'. On 3 Mar he resigned. It was 61 years since he had delivered his maiden speech in the Commons.

(From Ensor, England 1870-1914 p 214)

Biog: Gladstone, Miss Whitehead, Dr Bushnell and Mrs Andrew