A Publication of


Founded 8th May 1999


22nd. of July, 2000.

Another anniversary - a year since our first newsletter. We now have nineteen members so, hopefully, we should be into the twenties before too long.

One aim has been achieved. Enclosed with this newsletter is the Society's first Journal. Thanks to three members - Raymond Moody from Burford in Oxfordshire; Peter Davey from Wimborne in Dorset; and Christopher Hawtree from Hove in West Sussex - it contains three fascinating articles on aspects of JMF's career and milieu. I can only hope it encourages the rest of you to submit something. A piece does not have to be long or particularly erudite - the more variety the better. Peter is starting work on another JMF article and would like help with identifying the house written about in the poem "A Seaside Garden". For those of you who have not read it, it is worth repeating.

MY Lady, round about your house
The evening shadows go:
There's not a breath to stir the boughs,
And all the lights are low.

Your lichened towers have seen the sun
Three centuries rise and set,
Have watched the white waves shoreward run,
Have felt the salt sea fret.

And in the noon of summer days,
The summer of the South,
The purple shimmering August haze
Hangs on the river mouth.

And still about your garden fold
There clings the ivy tree,
The horned poppy's flowers of gold,
The holly of the sea.

The shingled pathways to green bower
Lead on through shining box,
And clove and pink and gilliflower
And towering hollyhocks.

Here on the terrace we will sit
And watch the night come down,
Till the bats circling round us flit,
And here and there a lamp is lit,

Below us in the town.

Grey towers most dear to all that come,
Towers dearer still to me,
Whose wandering footsteps find a home
Beside the Hampshire sea.

Peter suggests Walhampton House near Lymington, owned by an Oxford cleric at the time (1890s?). Can any of you think of any important families JMF was friendly with in Hampshire? Do send me any ideas, so that I can pass them on to Peter.

Raymond is also thinking of producing another article - on JMF and Burford Church or JMF's Burford poetry. I look forward to either/both. I hope to produce a piece on JMF's associations with Derbyshire. All in good time.

John Noble picked up on the comment in the last newsletter on the Polish edition of Moonfleet having as a forwarding motto a comparison between backgammon and life. John writes:

"On my grandfather Sir John Noble's leather covered backgammon
board the following motto in Latin appears. Indeed it appears
twice, i.e. on each side of the board, so that both players have
it in front of them:

Ita in vita ut in lusu aleae pessima jactura
arte corrigenda est

It seems more than likely that JMF is the author or the connecting
link with the Polish publication".

Christopher Morrell, our newest member, is looking out for a copy of The Nebuly Coat and a copy of Kenneth Warren's biography. I have told him the latter's publisher is Edward Mellen, but if any of you know where Christopher could purchase one or both, again let me know and I can pass the information on to him.

One hundred years ago, JMF's life was full of business meetings: at the Granby Hotel, Harrogate on 2 July 1900, for a Finance Committee; on 11 July back to Elswick for a Managing Committee; and up to Openshaw, Manchester on 24 and 25 July for the Finance Committee and Directors' meeting respectively. When one adds his regular foreign travels (see, for instance Christopher Hawtree's article in the Journal) on behalf of Elswick on to such a life, one can understand John Noble's argument in writing to (a probably sceptical) Lord Rendel in August of the same year, suggesting remuneration in the shape of a bonus for JMF (and Saxton Noble and himself!):

"Falkner's case is peculiar; but in spite of whatever may be
said against him he has been useful and has I am convinced
secured many foreign orders for us and though none of us are
infallible I think his performance generally correct..."


I thought you might like to see a copy of a water colour, painted by an artist friend of mine, of JMF's Durham home - 'The Divinity House'. It hangs in our sitting room and occasions considerable interest from visitors.

On a personal note, we may be moving house after a pleasant sojourn of twenty years at 'Greenmantle'. If the move goes ahead, I will of course let you all know my new address. Moving house is meant to be one of the most stressful things in life and, after packing up nearly 7,000 books, I am inclined to agree. Certainly I have great empathy with JMF, also under great pressure, but this time at work, when he wrote to Gladstone in December 1911:

"It is my swan song. I cannot do any more of these things.
They are too exhausting. Our motto ought to be festina lente.
Ever yours, but in great pressure...."

Kenneth Hillier

Greemnantle, Ingles HII, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leics LE65 2TF
Tel.: 01530 416969
e-mail: moonfleet@greenmantle63.freeserve.co.uk

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