Make your own free website on Tripod.com


Hephzibah and Elizabeth, The Attorney-General's story.

Hare's Journals, Dec 15 1872.

My cough prevented my going out, but we had Sunday-afternoon service in the chapel, with beautiful singing. In the evening, Lady Salisbury asked me to tell stories to all the party, and it was sufficiently alarming when I saw the Lord Chancellor in the first row, with the Attorney-General on one side of him and Lord Cairns on the other. The Attorney-General afterwards told us -

'There is at Clifton a Mr. Harrison, who is the second medical authority there, a man of undoubted probity and reputation. He told me this.

'At Clifton lived a Mrs. Fry with her brother-in-law and his two daughters, Elizabeth and Hephzibah. These were persons who, like many Bristol people, had large property in the West Indies. The elder daughter, Elizabeth, had been born in the West Indies, and when she fell into bad health, her father took the opportunity of taking her back to benefit by her native air, when he went back to look after his West Indian property, leaving his younger daughter, Hephzibah, with Mrs. Fry.

'They had not been gone long when Hephzibah took a chill, and in a very few days she died. Mr. Harrison attended her. Some days after he called as a friend upon Mrs. Fry, when she said, "I want to tell you something which has happened to me: I have seen Elizabeth." - "Impossible," said Mr. Harrison. "No," she said, "it was so. I was sitting reading the Bible when I fell into a state which was neither sleeping nor waking, and in that state - I was not asleep - I saw Elizabeth standing by me. I spoke to her, and forgetting what had happened in my surprise, I told her to call her sister. But she said to me that she had seen her sister already, and that she was in a box, and had a great deal of sewing about her chest. She especially used the word 'sewing': then she vanished away, and the place in the Bible where I had left off was changed: some one had turned it over." Mr. Harrison noted all this.

'Some time after came a letter from the father to Mrs. Fry, written before he had heard of Hephzibah's death. After speaking of other matters he said, "I must now tell you of a very curious circumstance which has occurred, and which is much on my mind. The other day Elizabeth, who had been much better, and who is now nearly well, surprised us by falling into a stupor, and when she came to herself she would insist upon it that she had been to Clifton, and that she had seen you and Hephzibah, and that Hephzibah was in a long box, with a great deal of sewing upon her chest: and she says so still." The dates were precisely the same.

'Hephzibah's death was so sudden that there was a post-mortem examination, though it was not considered necessary to distress Mrs. Fry by telling her of it. On this occasion Mr. Harrison was unable to be present. He went afterwards to the student of the hospital who was there, and who remembered all about it, and he said - what Mr. Harrison had not previously known - that after the examination the body was sewn up, with a great deal of sewing upon the chest.'