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CXCVIII. TO B. STOKES, ESQ.
Stapleton, Nov. 25, 1837. Our good M. P. has but little in prospect, in that public capacity, to set against what in his private one he feels so painfully. He enters the service justly indignant against every party, and has little or nothing better to look forward to than a long, vexatious, and nearly useless course of toil and conflict, perhaps to end in a break-up of the whole rotten concern. I wish he were out of it, if only there were another honest man to take his place. But that sort of thing is most scandalously scarce—the sort of thing, that is to say, which every man in the world ought to be. It is fearful to think what the final account must be, at the award of infallible Justice, for the immense multitude of accountable creatures. And how desperately heedless of all such consideration they are, even those who, as in our nation and time, are the most instructed, or have the means of being so, and are therefore the most accountable. . But these politics run away with one, even when talking to old friends, with whom one has so many recollections, lively or pensive, and has spent so many hours, days, and weeks, amidst interests, occupations, and scenes, far apart from political affairs. Lately I was recollecting our first interview, when Mr. Coles brought a stranger, in whom I could not foresee so cordial a friend, for so long a period; as to whom and myself it was little within the probability of life's duration that I should at this (then very far off) time be writing to him. I proceeded on, from that original point of remembrance, through the successive periods of the long lapse of nearly thirty years ; dwelling å while on some of the most remarkable times and scenes, down to the social weeks, or rather months, of the last year; and to the time when, excepting a few pleasing hours, I was disappointed of seeing you here. Along series of interesting reminiscences,-combining what is gratifying in friendship with what is memorable in situations and incidents. All this is of the past and the review brings us to the solemn reflection, what a very large portion of our allotted sojourn on earth has been expended and has vanished, between the first term and the last of the retrospect; which reflection passes immediately into the emphatic monition, how near we are coming to the termination of that sojourn, to the moment of transition to another world; and how earnest and habitual should be our solicitude and our diligence to be prepared for that world where there may be a happy and an endless friendship.
February 24, 1838. The feelings with which I heard of the decease (not till several weeks after the event) of my valued old friend, your excellent father, were pensive even to sadness. He and Mr. Greaves were the peculiarly favourite friends of iny youth. And so deeply fixed was my conviction of his virtues, and so faithful my memory of his cordial kindness at that far-off period, and additionally testified by his letters, that I have retained invariably, my friendly regard throughout the long absence of not less than thirty-five years. Since the information of the mournful event, I have often retraced in thought the scenes, the intercourse, the little social adventures and incidents, of that early time; his person, voice, habits, and domestic associates and circumstances, vividly presented to my imagination. I cannot but feel regret, now when it is in vain, at the entire loss of personal intercourse, caused by great distance, my dislike of travelling, my feeling no attraction to my native place, as such, and our respective occupations. I am wondering how he appeared in advanced age; the image of him in my mind being exclusively that of his appearance in youth, or before the attainment of middle age. I saw him for the last time, one transient hour, in the neighbourhood of London: but I think it was not within the long period that I have mentioned. Doubtless if we had met at any recent time, without being previously apprised, it would have been, till explanation, as perfect strangers; mutually the victims and monuments of Time.
You will all have been consoled amidst your affectionate sorrow, by the consideration of his happy
exchange; an event deferred, too, for the sake of those whom he loved and who loved him, to so late a period of life that any great prolongation would have been a stage of infirmity, decline, and perhaps the pain which inflict, as it were, a portion of death before the termination of life. He had lived also to see his family advanced to maturity, acting their appointed parts in life; and all, I hope and trust, entered on and pursuing a course which will bring each of them one day to an end like his. You have the pleasure also of reflecting on his consistent, honourable, useful life, from his pious childhood to his latest day;-a well-sustained religious character, for, I may say, sixty years, for he must at his decease have been bordering on seventy.
A loss which nothing now in this world can adequately compensate will have caused your mother a painful sense of desolation, at an age which no longer retains the elasticity of spirit, the animated force of reaction, by which younger. people, in active excitement and with life before them, are so soon relieved from the pressure of such a dispensation. I trust resignation to the Divine will, the looking forward to a better world, combined with the affectionate interest in her children, and the pleasure of seeing them wise and good, and favoured by Providence, will impart to her a consolation effectual to cheer the remainder of her life. How well I remember her cheerfulness, her vivacity of spirit, near forty
... I am glad of [your] brother's favourable prospects for usefulness and happiness, and hope that a name so long honoured in connexion with religion will long continue faithfully in that connexion.
February, 1838. ... Professor Elton of Rhode Island, has sent me a very curious book of the date indeed of three or four years back, written by an “Honourable Mr. Durfee, Supreme Judge in that island.” It is a poem nearly or quite as long as Paradise Lost, under the grotesque title of “ What-Cheer !” which was an exclamation of a party of friendly savages on a particular occasion, very long since. The time is some two centuries since; the starting-point-fact is a case of persecution by the rigorous good Puritan bigots of New England, against an assertor of religious freedom, a man memorable and venerable in the American ecclesiastical history. This persecution drives him out into the wilderness, in the horrid snowy desolation of mid-winter, still heroically trusting in Providence. He goes among the savages, and his adventures with them, and the strange wild characteristic scenes and transactions in their society, form the eventful narrative. I hardly know what, exactly, to say of the poetry; but it is at least strikingly graphical, perspicuous in detail and narrative, and in a plain unaffected language, a little of the antiquish, and perfectly suitable to the subject. It is founded, in part, on the actual recorded history of the hero; and, as to the general character of the exhibition, seems a faithful picture of the then manners, customs and notions of the Aborigines. I dare say there can have been no notice of such a production in the Eclectic, or probably any other of our Reviews. And I think a moderate article of considerable interest and curiosity might be made of it. With your
leave I will try....
CCI. TO THE REV. THOMAS COLES.
August 3, 1838. It gives me very special pleasure to hear of the very favourable state and prospects of your situation; not the less so, of course, that I have always wished that you might find good reason to decide against transferring your public services from where they had been patiently prosecuted so long. It is highly gratifying, that in what may be called the autumn of your life and ministry, a kind of spring season should return in the congregation, in the growing up of a youthful race in a disposition of mind as to many of them, so pleasing and hopeful. I will hope, that in this you will find, in no small degree, a reward of your patient perseverance through years of less pleasing experience, through various discouragements and vexations.
You are reported in a high state of health, promising, I hope, a long postponement of the infirmities of declining age. How long would you wish to live, if the term were supposed to be placed at your choice? If the Power, who has the disposas, might be supposed to put before you a succession of figures, 70, 75, 80, 85, 90,—and say—“ Choose, and it shall be so," unconditionally as to what should be the attendant circumstances of each term, that being left in total uncertainty as to your knowledge—would you be greatly perplexed ? would it take you a long time and hesitation to decide on which of the numbers you should place your finger, that act, that single touch being an absolute, irrevocable decision ? One is often reproachfully reminded, that with our confident belief of the grand superiority of another life and scene, if he had the full, deliberate consciousness of a due preparation for it, there would require an effort, a repressive effort of submission to the Divine disposal, to prevent an ever-rising impatience of the soul to escape from this dark and sinful world, and go out on the sublime · adventure.
You now stand, as it were, between two equal divisions of your family, three of them reinaining on earth, and three you feel assured in the enjoyment of a happier existence elsewhere. You have thus a social and family relationship, in equal proportions, with two different provinces of the great kingdom. ....
CCII. TO DR. STENSON
1838. We must acknowledge, my dear sir, that it is well there should be a sanguine spirit in the enterprises for reforming the world. Enthusiasm is as necessary as any other element. A cool, strict, cautious calculation, would never give impulse enough. How many things have been effected, which any thing short of this enthusiasm would have deemed it folly to attempt. Think of Luther! I have lately read, with much interest, part of a recent French work, · Memoirs of