Her Divine Glorified Beauty ~ The Memento Mori of Adeline Grace Clogstoun (1862-June 8, 1872)
Adeline Grace Clogstoun by Julia Margaret Cameron, June 1872,
Memento Mori in Latin means remember that you must die. It is defined as a reminder of mortality. When I saw the photographs of Adeline Grace Clogstoun taken by Julia Margaret Cameron I was stunned. I had to learn more. Now, there is not much information found on this precious child or her unusual death. The information that is out there is somewhat mysterious in that the dates and years seem to run together almost melting into each other. I hope to bring you this sad story along with some bits of information framing a story of a child whose life was short lived but who should be remembered. She was running through the house playing with her sister Blanche and Beatrice who was Julia Margaret Cameron’s son Eugene Hay Cameron’s daughter. They were warned about rough-housing but on June 8, 1872, ten year old Adeline Grace Clogstoun died of her injuries. Perhaps, a good starting place is with the words of Mrs. Cameron,
My cherished little Adeline (Grace Clogstoun), 1872, private collection, UK
“It has been like a mysterious dream losing that blossom of my old heart thus and in such a way! …I did not after all have my darling opened tho’ I felt sure it would all be confirmed-the Doctors all three thought so but for Blanche’s sake I did not want it confirmed to darken her whole life! for Beatrice got on Addie’s back & then Blanche with a spring from the couch bounded on the top of Beatrice’s Back so that fragile Addie had the double weight-So fragile even the 6th day her sweet little joints were all plastic and supple. Her divine glorified beauty…” A letter written to Anne Thackeray by Julia Margaret Cameron on June 17, 1872, Eton College Library.
(Group) Blanche Clogstoun, Mary Clogstoun, Adeline Grace Clogstoun, 1868-70, present whereabouts unknown
The Clogstoun Sisters: Mary Augusta Lynch Clogstoun (26 May 1860-27 April, 1930), Blanche Margaret Standish Clogstoun (1861-1895), and Adeline Grace Clogstoun (1862-1872) were the daughters of parents Herbert Mackworth Clogstoun (13 June, 1820-6 May, 1862) and Mary Julia Blanche Mackenzie (13 August, 1834-12 April, 1870). Their father was born in Trinidad and living in India when he married Mary Mackenzie on 8 January, 1856 at the Melsion Chapel in Blacktown, Bolarum Cannamore, India. Together they had six children including sons Herbert Clogstoun (24 January, 1857-15 April, 1936) and Sybella Adeline Caroline Clogstoun (18 May 1859-17 May 1961). Herbert at the age of 38 was a captain in the 19th Madras Native Infantry, Madras Army during the Indian Mutiny. He received the Victoria Cross on 15 January 1859; the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, according to the London Gazette of October 21, 1859. He was promoted to major but died at Hingoli in India on 6 May 1862. So, as far as I can put together, Herbert and Mary were living in India after their marriage and birth of six children, the last one born, dear Adeline Grace, in 1862. This being the year of her father’s death, I can only believe that Mary travelled with her children to the Isle of Wight, where upon she dies eight years later in 1870 on Freshwater, Isle of Wight at the age of 36 years old. Now the interesting thing is according to, Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs by Julian Cox and Colin Ford, ‘Around the time that Cameron began photography, she also adopted Mary and Adeline Grace Clogstoun, A third sister Blanche, was taken into the Prinsep household at Little Holland House and adopted by Watts’. A very sweet story about that day Blanche Clogstoun was taken in by G.F. Watts (Signor). It seems that all three Clogstoun daughters visited Little Holland House to see which one Sara and Thoby Prinsep would adopt. Well, little blonde haired nine year old Blanche spotted Watts sitting across the room in his armchair, and took off running towards him and jumped on his lap. He enfolded his arms around her immediately, ‘I have undertaken the charge of a little orphan girl, so I must endeavour to do what I have not hitherto thought of doing, viz establishing a little capital.’ Letter from G.F. Watts to Rickards, 21 September 1872. Blanche Clogstoun became the charge of G.F. Watts and he took care of her all her life. So, that was one Clogstoun sibling taken care of. Now, back to little Mary and Adeline Grace, who we are told were also adopted by The Cameron’s ‘around the time she took up photography’ (1863-4) Why is it that the death date of their mother Mary Clogstoun isn’t until 1870 on Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight? We know the sisters were living on Freshwater before their mother’s death because Mrs. Cameron’s photographs are dated 1868-70. Only the one of Adeline alone is dated the year of her unexpected death in 1872?
I don’t have any answers, just questions and curiousity. However, during this tale of discovery, who enters the frame, but good old Alfred Tennyson! Well, are you surprised? It is Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight, and we are at Dimbola Lodge after, all. I bring you a last small story of those days in 1872 when ten year old Adeline died….
“My first visit to England in 1872 is when I saw Tennyson. You see, I met two ladies in London, Lady Pollock and Miss Anne Thackeray, who kindly offered to introduce me, and write in advance that I was coming. I spent the night at Cowes, and was driven eight miles from the hotel to Farringford by a very intelligent young groom who had never heard of the poet; and when he reached the door of the house, the place before me seemed such a haven of peace and retirement that I actually shrank from disturbing those who dwelt therein. Tennyson and his wife, were sitting beneath a tree talking unreservedly, when they discovered, by a rustling in the boughs overhead, that two New York reporters had taken position in the branches and were putting down the conversation. Fortunately, I saw on the drawing-room table an open letter from one of the ladies just mentioned, announcing my approach, and it lay near a window, through which, as I had been told the master of the house did not hesitate to climb, by way of escape from any unwelcome visitor.
I therefore sent up my name. Presently I heard a rather heavy step in the adjoining room, and there stood in the doorway the most un-English looking man I had yet seen. He was tall and high-shouldered, careless in dress, and while he had a high and domed forehead, yet his brilliant eyes and tangled hair and beard gave him rather the air of a partially reformed Corsican bandit, or else an imperfectly secularized Carmelite monk, than of a decorous and well-groomed Englishman. He greeted me shyly, gave me his hand, which was in those days a good deal for an Englishman, and then sidled up to the mantelpiece, leaned on it, and said, with the air of a vexed schoolboy, “I am rather afraid of you Americans; your countrymen do not treat me very well. There was Bayard Taylor” – and then he took me to his study, then to his garden, where the roses were advanced beyond any I had yet seen in England. I was struck, in his conversation, with that accuracy of outdoor knowledge which one sees in his poems; he pointed out, for instance, which ferns were American, and which had been attempted in this country, but had refused to grow. He talked freely about his own books. He soon offered, to my great delight, to take me to the house of Mrs. Cameron, the celebrated amateur photographer, who lived close by. We at once came upon Mr. Cameron a very picturesque figure, having fine white hair and beard, and wearing a dressing-gown of pale blue with large black velvet buttons, and a heavy gold chain. I had heard it said that Mrs. Cameron selected her housemaids for their profiles, that she might use them for saints and madonnas in her photographic groups; and it turned out that all these damsels were upstairs, watching round the sickbed of the youngest, who was a great favorite in the Tennyson family. We were ushered into the chamber, where a beautiful child lay unconscious upon the bed, with weeping girls around; and I shall never forget the scene when Tennyson bent over the pillow, with his sombre Italian look, and laid his hand on the unconscious forehead; it was like a picture by Ribera or Zamacois. The child, as I afterwards heard, never recovered counsciousness, and died within a few days. Presently Mrs. Cameron led us downstairs again, and opened chests of photographs for me to choose among. I chose one, The Two Angels at the Sepulchre, for which one of the maid servants had stood as a model; another of Tennyson’s Eleanore, for which Mrs. Stillman had posed; and three large photographs of Darwin, Carlyle, ad Tennyson himself, the last of these being one which he had christened The Dirty Monk, and of which he wrote, at Mrs. Cameron’s request, in my presence, a certificate that it was the best likeness ever taken of him.” Cheerful Yesterdays by Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1898, published by Hougton, Mifflin and Company.
Adeline Grace Clougston June 1872