Hephzibah and Elizabeth, The
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.'