« PreviousContinue »
CCXXXIII. TO JOSEPH COTTLE, ESQ.
June 22, 1843. Past the longest day! The thought strikes once more into the mind, how desperately rapid the flight of time! The shortest day hangs on my memory as if it were but a few weeks back. To a certainty, and at the very utmost reckoning, how few times more shall we pass either of these marked points of time. How soon after the entrance on Eternity will these little marks and measures of Time cease to be of any account-unless perhaps, and possibly, they be noted and numbered by us in reference to the succession of events in the world we shall have left, on supposition, not improbable, that information of those events will be brought to the inhabitants of the other world;-or in reference to the predicted periods of the future events in the great progress of the Divine Government on earth, looking on to the conclusion. As prophecy has disclosed something of this great scheme for our information and instruction while we stay here, is it not probable that prophecy will exhibit those futurities with a stronger light to the happy and enlightened spirits in the higher regions?
COXXXIV. TO THE REV. JOSIAH HILL.
August 31, 1843.
After this proposed excursion you will have to think of preparing once more to sit down for the winter— unwelcome name and thing! I hope you have a thorough pleasant apartment for fire, candle, books, and Catherine; the last as indispensable (and that is saying much) as the first. But what would you do in the supposed quandary-you shall pass a whole rigorous week in winter without fire, or without Catherine? I see you will neatly evade the question, by saying that, by the supposition, the infliction of the cold on yourself, would be its infliction on Catherine also, and that this would be a piece of unpardonable barbarity.
You never name any thing you have been reading.
Among your heaps you doubtless have Wilberforce's noted book; and I may presume you have read it some time or other, though I never did, but very partially, till within these few weeks. Superfluous to say it is a work of great value ; faithful to a high standard of the Christian doctrine and morals, searching and courageous to expose a fearful prevalence of real and fatal irreligion under the Christian name and formalities. His fellow politicians must have been strangely astounded at the appearance of such a prodigy in their hemisphere.
Here the weather for some days past has been of very inauspicious omen for the harvest. How disastrous if it should continue so, and inflict the completing aggravation to the miseries of the people. While the people
are in such misery, their legislators are gaily scattering over the country for their rural festivities, their field sports, their watering places, their excursions to all parts of the Continent, totally reckless of the people and the national interests.
I see in the Morning Chronicle to-day that you have got Rebecca at your gates; a commotion that seems to laugh all your wise-acres to scorn. I suppose it is quite evident, as I have seen stated, it arose as a reaction against a wicked management of 'squires, magistrates, &c., to lighten the tolls on the great roads where their equipages rolled along, and lay them, in monstrous disproportion on the secondary and cross roads chiefly used by farmers and tradesmen. For these it was in vain to remonstrate, and appeal to magistracy, law, and so forth; and therefore it was quite time for them to take the law into their own hands. They commit much injustice in their turn; still the probability is, that the result at last will be a much more equitable apportionment of the road-tax, and a mortifying conviction in the higher folk that they are really not to have every thing their
CCXXXV. TO SIR JOHN EASTHOPE, BART., M.Y'.
Stapleton, Thursday, October 3, 1843. MY DEAR FRIEND,Short as is the interval since I wrote, it has made a material change in my condition. I adverted to the plainly approaching termination of life, and perhaps named a year or two. But the indications have latterly become so express, that I now have not the smallest expectation of surviving a very few months. The great and pressing business is, therefore, to prepare for the event. That is, in truth, our great business always; but it is peculiarly enforced in a situation like mine. It involves a review of past life; and oh how much there is to render reflection painful and alarming! Such a review would consign me to utter despair, but for my firm belief in the all-sufficiency of the mediation of our Lord.
My very dear friend, make the one thing needful the great practical object. Accept this simple wish; I feel my mind quite incapable of seeking any thing more interesting to say to you.
I rather hope you will be still prevented coming hither. I can hardly say I should be glad to see you. I cannot maintain any length of talking, its effect is so mischievous on the cough, and in other ways.
I will not yet say, farewell.
CCXXXVI. TO SIR JOHN EASTHOPE, BART., M.P.
Stapleton, Oct. 5, 1843.
MY DEAR FRIEND,-A note received from you through the hands of expresses a wish for an interview, on condition that it might not injuriously effect the extreme debility into which I am rapidly sunk.
say rapidly; for it can be but few weeks since I spoke of a few months as likely to bring the conclusion. În a later letter I may have narrowed the interval.
my report would be, that I cannot think it possible to survive many days.
In such a state of prostration, it is impossible for me to hold any communication for more than a very brief space of time. The case being such, my dear friend, I do think it will be better to decline the interview, so acceptable as it would have been in other circumstances. Before you will have returned from the Continent I shall have made a much greater and more mysterious journey. After some years, I wish they may not be few, you will be called to follow me. And may God grant, through the infinite merits of Christ, that we may find ourselves in a far happier world.-Among my last good wishes will be those for the happiness, and the piety of all your family. . . .
And now, my dear friend, I commend you to the God of mercy, and very affectionately bid you
MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS ON MR. FOSTER'S
WITHOUT any attempt at a formal and critical delineation of Mr. Foster's character, it may render the materials for making such an estimate more complete, to present a few particulars relative to his private habits and tastes, which could not be conveniently interwoven with the preceding narrative.
His intense sympathy with nature appears to have been first awakened by the grand and awful,* but as his faculties matured the love and admiration of the beautiful became not less vivid. He took great delight in all flowers, but especially in the more delicate, retiring, and minute. In the spring he anxiously watched for the appearance of the first snow-drop, crocus, primrose, or buttercup; this last, indeed, he regarded with a feeling more of sadness than of pleasure, from its betokening the far advance of the season. Sometimes, on returning from a walk he would say in a tone of concern, "I've seen a fearful sight to-day;-I've seen a buttercup!" He scarcely ever gathered any flowers, disliking to occasion their premature decay.†
He felt a delight, amounting almost to fascination, in colours of all kinds, whether delicate tints, dazzling showy colours, or deep sombre hues.
He had great susceptibility to the "skyey influences,"
* Vide vol. i. p. 4
The enthusiast for Nature is sorry to see any of her works destroyed. He is almost sorry to crush a fungus."-Journal, No. 103.