Page images
PDF
EPUB

what was endured by the victim of the long progress and continual aggravation of such a disease, which the affectionate and deeply interested attendants feel themselves unable to arrest or materially to alleviate. In such a case, it is distressing for them to feel that the doomed object must suffer, must inevitably bear it all, whatever be their affectionate care, whatever be their willingness, if that were possible, to lighten the pressure by bearing themselves a share of it. How distinct and separate, how solitary in this sense is the individual, who might say, “I am very grateful for all your sympathy and assiduous kind offices, but still it is I alone that am to feel my strength diminishing, to struggle with suffocation, and to go through the aggravating malady to the last conflict." Nevertheless it is a consolation to the survivors, when an amiable sufferer, like your daughter, has had all the alleviations which can be given by vigilant affection, combined with domestic accommodation and medical aid, so different from the melancholy condition of many, who languish into death in poverty and every kind of destitution.

It would also have been consolatory, no doubt, to have received some more distinct expression of a cheering view into the future scene, in the near approach to the entrance into it. But, I trust, that no gloomy sentiment will, on this account, rest on your mind. The divine mercy may well be confided in, much beyond the extent of the specific decided indications displayed by those who are the objects of it. I would not doubt, that in the silent thoughts and emotions of your child that mercy was desired, and that it has been found. The reluctance to leave this life is in a young person, to whom it has been pleasing in possession and Hattering in prospect, very compatible with a state of mind which is safe for leaving it. A high satisfaction, or animated pleasure, in the prospect of death, is probably granted but to very greatly the minority of such young persons, who yet leave us no ground for distrust that to them it is a happy change.

[blocks in formation]

a

Stapleton, Feb. 16, 1835. MY DEAR OLD FRIEND, I need not say again that I am always interested by what you tell me of yourself and domestic associates, and of the neighbourhood; partly because as to the latter I am a stranger, and as to the former (yourself and Mrs. F.). I do not feel myself a stranger. You two have remained in my memory and regard as the same, while, as to the neighbourhood, the inhabitants that I knew are almost all swept away; and I am told that almost the very face of the country is changed. Some descriptions to this effect were given me by Mr. Jackson, whom I saw at Bath a few days since. He told me how Hebden-Bridge is grown into a town; how certain gloomy and romantic glens, the scenes of my solitary wanderings some forty or more years since, are cleared of their forest-shades, opened into thoroughfares, and occupied with cotton-mills—and he added—meeting-houses. How strangely would the sight of this break up my ancient associations ! and with a feeling of the uncomplacent kind; though, as to one of the intrusive novelties-meeting-houses—I certainly ought to regard them as a good exchange for the ancient resorts of owls and foxes. By the help of Mr. J. I endeavoured at a combination of the modern with the ancient geography. But indeed in simply recovering the ancient there were difficulties, such as D'Anville had probably to encounter in his verifications of places in the ancient world. In some instances I remembered places of which I had lost the names.

In others there were names remaining in my memory disconnected from the places. . . . I am never so unpatriotic as to depreciate my native locality. I have always and everywhere constantly asserted that I have seen very few places more remarkable in the quality denominated picturesque than that district. Its bold and varied features will remain in my imagination as long as I live. And they have not been the less cherished there for that wild and moor-land gloom, which, on some sides, invades and bounds them. This circumstance has always been congenial with my habits of feeling. A gloomy and solitary tendency belonged, I suppose, to my nativity.

Ι

Do you

If I were with you, it would be very interesting to go into a long and patient comparison of our parallel series of feelings, impressions, notions, habits : though I confess it would be a very imperfect and faded recollection that I could make of my own. You and our friend Mr. Greaves, are the only coevals from youth, with whom this social and comparative retrospect could have a strong and sympathetic interest. Hughes was the one other individual. And with him the social comparison would, in a great degree, have been under the same predicament in one respect—that the intimate personal association was much the greatest in the early part of life. For more than thirty years past I have but very rarely and briefly seen him—slight snatches of time, when his Bible Society traverses brought him in my way, at intervals of one, two, or even three years; and communications by letter were hardly more frequent.

I am gratified by what you allow me to believe of your own and my old friend Mrs. Fawcett's health. both fairly and fully take to it that you are old people ? I can now and then, in particular circumstances, detect myself in a certain sort of reluctance to recognize that fact as to myself. I dare not assert that the most musical notes that I could hear would be—“ Old Foster,”—a designation which, though I may not happen to hear it, I dare say slides into the colloquial speech of those who have to make a reference to me, notwithstanding there being no younger male branch of my family to make such epithet necessary for distinction. But any feeling I ever have of this kind brings with it, sensibly and invariably, a sentiment of selfreproach, in the admonition that a conscious, full, decided, satisfactory preparation for another life and a higher state of existence, would associate a pleasing sentiment with every thing that would remind me how near, comparatively at all events, I am approaching to the momentous and mysterious transition. And I do earnestly implore the heavenly grace which alone can render that preparation decided and satisfactory. The retrospect of my long life is deeply humiliating, whether judged of absolutely, or by comparison with individuals who have gone from indefatigable Christian service to their glorious reward. In this view it is not without a profoundly mortifying emotion that

[ocr errors]

I can repeat the name of Dr. CAREY, unquestionably the very foremost name, of our times, in the whole Christian world. What an entrance his has been into that other world!

[blocks in formation]

May 21, 1835. I have to confess I am far too much your fellow sinner in the matter of being too much occupied with politics; and I feel somewhat of the bad effect which you complain of. At the same time, as the affairs of the nation and the world at this period are prodigiously important to the interests and not exclusively the temporal ones) of a very large portion of mankind, one makes out for one's self a partial justification. The point is, how and where to adjust the limitation that ought to be imposed by higher interests, while one looks at the momentous crisis for good or evil at which the course of time, and we may say of Providence, has now arrived. But these newspapers—these newspapers; to think how nearly they constitute my whole reading! I am mor. tified at it, and want to see, and resolve, how to mend. At any rate, I am not sorry for the non-appearance here of that “ Watchman." There was evidently a very competent ability ; but I was digusted with the spirit—the servility, the time-serving, the practical disavowal, if not expressly in words, of the principles but for the assertion of which, by nobler spirits, Methodism itself would never have enjoyed such immunity and privilege. The last number you sent having dilated with high complacency on the complete establishment in power of Sir R. Peel, and the gradual subsidence into impotence and insignificance of the factious opposition to him, I was a little curious to see what would be said just about ten or twelve days after, of the fall of the idol, on whose“ honoured brow” (that was the phrase) the national approbation and the crown of enduring power had descended and planted themselves. But, of course, it would be described as one of the “awful and inscrutable dispensations of Providence,” inscrutable except as vindictive, it being methodistically certain that in no other way than as a national judgment for our sins, Providence would permit the recovered ascendency of a party who are intent on abating the pestilent nuisance of the Irish Church.

[blocks in formation]

Stapleton, June 27, 1835. MY DEAR OLD FRIEND, What should this letter say

? What should it be an answer to ? What should be taken for granted in it? I may well ask myself such questions, since I have under

my
hand a letter from

you,

dated -exactly eleven years back.

But to think of the long tract of years since our last personal communication! That was at a time when we might, with tolerable propriety, be called young men ; whereas now, I dare say I am denominated among my acquaintance, "old Foster;" and I was particularly struck with Mr. Hamilton's expression-“old Mr. Horsfall." Old !I thought, that sounds very strange; my image of him is that of a young man.

But I soon recollected myself, and thought, what should he be else, (and, at the same time, what should I be else ?) since between thirty and forty years have intervened between the present time and the time on which my memory is resting ?

There was the additional consideration, that in your case there is a younger man of the same name. I have no son to require or suggest that note of distinction. He that might have been the cause of such a distinction has been nine years in

66

а

the grave.

What changes in the world, in our native place, in ourselves, since the time we were familiarly associated! I wonder in what manner and degree you are changed, in every respect, of personal appearance, of habits, character, opinions, dispositions. As to the visible exterior, we doubtless might pass each other without the slightest recognition, the least hint of feeling that we had ever seen each other before. You would be never the wiser on the matter for a portrait which I see you mention in your

« PreviousContinue »