« PreviousContinue »
Montpelier, the scenes of the vicinity, the park, the barracks, the school-room on (was it not ?) Arran Quay; the numberless talks among us, on numberless subjects, yourself a prompt and very shrewd interlocutor. There were the “Sons of Brutus, watched, they were told after they had ceased to meet, by Major Sirr, and among them the intelligent Green, master of some parish school. (On second thought, I am not sure he was of them, or, I should
Perhaps it is probable that I, having an insulated remembrance—à retrospect enclosed and secluded, as it were, within a section of time severed from the before and after-may have a more marked and distinct ideal vision than you; since, living on permanently, on the same ground, you would partly lose the things of that time in their sequel, seeing many of them gradually and insensibly changing and passing away, by a process that had no one great chasm, to separate off the former stage as one scene remaining alone in your memory. As to some other things (localities, and objects not subject to change), having continued habitually familiar to you, they are to you simply, if I may so express it, what they are, and not what they stand pictured exclusively in remembrance—a remembrance that lays the scene in a far-off time.
I have still to confess, and am somewhat vexed at it, the total want of power in my mind to make one person of you two, the boy whom I so vividly remember, and the middleaged man whom I had the surprise and pleasure of seeing one day here. I even doubt whether, if I were to pass weeks and months daily with you, I should be able to make anything like a complete personal identification. I do believe the John Purser of far toward forty years since, would be continually coming in upon me as if he must be, or have been, somebody else than the person I was actually seeing and conversing with. It would, no doubt, be partly the same with respect to Mrs. Purser, of whom I retain å distinct image; though my being so much less familiar with her at that time might somewhat lessen this insuperable sense of doubleness. The experiment, at any rate, would, to me, be very curious and interesting.
My dear friend, the retrospect over which I have
been glancing, pensively as a prevailing sentiment, seems to carry us rather afar on a track which we can tread no more; but, how reduced to nothing is the distance in comparison of the stupendous prospect! While called upon to be grateful for all that a good Providence has done for us in the past, and to implore pardon in the name of our Lo for every thing which we have cause to wish had been differently done on our part, we are solemnly admonished to be looking forward with increasing seriousness to the grand Futurity. Whatever may be our appointed remaining time on earth, we are sure it is little enough for a due preparation to go safely and happily forward into that eternal Hereafter. .
CLXXXIX. TO MRS. STOKES.
Bourton, Oct. 7, 1836. MY DEAR MADAM,-(but rather say, my good and dear old friend). . . . . In this house and vicinity there are many things to remind me of the past. I have not in my
mind a strongly associating principle. There are certain temporary, involuntary, and apparently casual moods of feeling, which, in whatever place they may occur, revive the images and sentiments of the past more vividly than they would be brought back by the mere force of objects and places associated with those retrospective interests. Still, there are here objects, apartments, garden-walks, with which an interesting and pensive memory is inseparably connected. They tell me of one inestimable being, united with me here, here separated from me, and now, here or elsewhere, with me no more on earth. I often imagine what it would have been, and would be, to have her with me still. But when I consider what a drooping, suffering life was appointed to her during the latter part of her presence with me, and what I am confident she has gained by the change, the regret for my loss is greatly countervailed by the delight of thinking of her felicity; of the surpassirg superiority of what she has enjoyed, and is enjoying, o er all she could have experienced in this mortal state, even had it been much more propitious to her than it could have been under the circumstances of frail and shattered health, and a painful over-susceptibility of mind. To rejoin her at length, is my earnest desire for her daughters and myself. As to them, I am exceedingly far from indulging any gratifying anticipations with respect to this life. I have uniformly a melancholy idea of the destiny of women, considering how many kinds of danger, and how much of the grievances and sufferings of life there are often in their allotment. How I marvel at the thoughtless pleasure of parents, in seeing their children grow up, and dreaming about their future prospects! I often say, what is become of their eyes or any of their senses, while there is the actual world around them, to tell them what is the very possible destiny in this life, to say nothing of another, of the young creatures, about whom they have so many thoughtlessly sanguine fancies ? I will hope better things for these girls; but I never dream such dreams, and never did.
Worcester, also, had its reminiscences. What a lapse of years since the first time that I experienced there the cordial friendship, of which I have had so many gratifying proofs, in the long subsequent interval; and since the first of our little social travelling adventures, which were to be followed by our delightful excursions in North Wales. More, much more, than one third part of life, taken at its long reckoning of “three score years and ten,” gone away, since that point of our mortal sojourn! How many events, changes, mercies, admonitions, in this long period. Would that the improvements, of the most important order, had corresponded to this great sum of the motives, and aids, and progressively louder calls to that improvement. My own reflections are deeply accusatory. I often think, what insupportable melancholy would oppress and overwhelm me, if there were not the grand resource of the one all-sufficient Sacrifice offered for sin. At the same time, let us, each and all, entreat the Divine assistance that whatever remainder of time is reserved for us may be so improved, as to be greatly the best part of a life which is so rapidly hastening to its termination.
OXO. TO J. WADE, ESQ.
December 21, 1836. But what base, worthless wretches those fellows are. It is really grievous and surprising that never once can a sober honest man be found, that will do just the very moderate duty that you require. It makes one sometimes almost ashamed of one's democracy, to have so many glaring proofs of the utterly unprincipled character of so large a portion of what are called the “lower orders,” in a nation so vaunted for “enlightened,” “civilized," “ Christian," and all
. that. One is amazed to hear any intelligent advocate of the * popular rights,” stickling for “universal suffrage.” Think of such fellows as you have had to do with, being qualified to have a vote in the choice of legislators !!
CXCI. TO THE REV. JOSIAH HILL.
February 18, 1837. We of this little family are not duly thankful to the proteeting Providence for having all escaped, while multitudes in the city and its neighbourhood have been visited, and very many, as I hear, fatally. At this instant I see, through the window, the top of a mourning coach, following a hearse. Strange and sad consideration! that prevailing sickness and death are the desired—welcomed (?) means of life, gain, prosperity, to a portion of the fellow mortals of the sufferers and victims. Doctors, druggists, and undertakers, are flourishing on this calamity, like gay flowers about the graves in a church-yard.
The disastrous and, one thinks, unprecedented, season does, at length, give some wavering and reluctant signs of change. The change has not been waited for by the intimations of spring, in snow-drops and crocuses. Welcome are they once more, though they seem to tell me, most pointedly, how short a time it is since their tribe was here before, and, therefore, with what appalling velocity life is running off.
Your guess is true, that I have been though not vio
lently against my will) very nearly a prisoner during the past ten months. As' to company," dinner-parties, teavisits, they have been, with very small exception, out of the question. I have been under peremptory medical inhibition to be out in the night-air. A cough, first occasioned by the old cause, the miserable heating, and subsequent chilling from the wet clothes in summer, and renewed at intervals down into the foggy autumn, produced at last an effect which I was forced to regard as somewhat serious—an effusion (not large, and not repeated) of blood, from-Dr. Stenson told me—the windpipe; and, together with prescriptions, enjoined me to keep within the house, and to avoid--one thing and another--as especially preaching, an infrequent, indeed, but now and then occurring exercise. I have been tolerably, though (except on the last point) not punctiliously obsequious, have had no return of the ominous symptom, and have very little cough, but find myself far more liable to its return, from a very slight cold-taking, than a person sound in the affected part would be.
.... As to public and parliamentary affairs you complain that we are to have the same old battled businesses over again. But how else can any good be gained, against the obstinate resisters of all improvement ? As O'Connell was lately telling them in Ireland, it is only by keeping at it, by persisting, reiterating, hammering, that an effectual impression can be made on the public mind, and, through that, on the hostile obstinacy, or sluggish indifference, of those on whom immediately the business depends. Some parts of that business are of an importance and an urgency quite portentous. Think of the condition of Ireland, in the event of the frustration of the measures in its favour-such a frustration as should not leave any hope of a success within near and assured prospect. Those who can coolly look at, and hazard, the probable consequences, must be either villains or madmen....