Here again, on the 16th October, “My dear Bessy planting some roots Miss Hughes has brought her, looking for a place to put a root of pink hepatica in, where (as she said) ‘I might best see them in my walk.’” Yes, he had sensibility; but she had imagination. A little Tom was born a week after that. She took it badly, as she did most of her labours, and was in bed a month. On the 18th November she went out for the first time after the event—“the day delightful.” She “went round to all her flower-beds to examine their state, for she has every little leaf in the garden by heart.” Tom himself had been much moved by the birth of his first boy. He was called up at 11.30, sent for the midwife, was upset, walked about half the night, thanked God—“the maid, by the way, very near catching me on my knees.” She might have caught Bessy on them every day, and no thought taken of so simple a thing. But Tom had sensibility.
But a man who, eight years after marriage, can make his wife an April fool, and record it, is no bad husband, and it would be a trespass on his good fame to suggest it. He loved her dearly and could never have been unkind to her. Far from that, happy domestic pictures abound in his diaries. Here is one of a time when she had joined him in London, on her way to stay with her sister in Edinburgh. They went together to Hornsey, to see Barbara’s grave. “At eight o’clock she and I sauntered up and down the Burlington Arcade, then went and bought some prawns and supped most snugly together.” He takes the state-rooms costing L7 apiece, for “his own pretty girl.” Meantime he is preparing to shelter in France from civil process served upon him for the defalcations of his deputy in Bermuda.
I need not follow the scenes through as they come. The essence of Bessy Moore is expressed in what I have written of the first flush of her married life. There was much more to come. Moore outlived all his children, and she, poor soul, outlived her rattling, melodious Tom, having known more sorrow than falls, luckily, to the lot of most mothers. The death of her last girl, Anastasia, is beautifully told by Tom; but a worse stroke than even that was the wild career of little Tom, the son, his illness, disgrace, and death in the French Foreign Legion. That indeed went near to breaking Bessy’s heart. “Why do people sigh for children? They know not what sorrow will come with them.” That is her own, and only recorded, outcry.
In The Loves of the Angels, an erotic and perfervid poem, which fails, nevertheless, from want of concentration of the thought, Zeraph, the third angel, is Tom himself, and the daughter of man, Nama, with whom he consorts, is Bessy.
Humility, that low, sweet root,
From which all heavenly virtues shoot,
Was in the hearts of both—but most
In Nama’s heart, by whom alone
Those charms for which a heaven was lost
Seemed all unvalued and unknown...