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moving rapidly on, in vigorous life, to a certain spot, to one precise point, and on coming exactly thither, being, as in a moment, in another world, renders the mystery of death still more intense. And there being nothing to excite the slightest anticipation, when he set out on the journey, when he came within a mile—within a few steps,—of the fatal point! How true the saying, that“ in the midst of life we are in death!”
It must have been an almost overwhelming shock, which each of his near relations, but above all his wife, would feel on receiving the messenger or the letter that brought the sad information. W- intimated an apprehension of serious danger to her, on account of a frail and sinking state of health. But I hope she will not be the victim of the first dreadful emotions, or the subsequent distress and sadness. The younger portion of his family have in their lively age the power that conteracts in due time the pressure
of sorrow. It must appear to you all a strange and affecting circumstance, that the son, the brother, the husband, the father that was, a few days since, is now no more in any of those relations, no more to be conversed with, and, after a few days, to be seen no more on earth.
I join in the wish which will be felt by you all, that this solemn event may be rendered salutary to the best interests of those who suffer so mournful a visitation.
I feel very sensibly the kindness of your renewed invitation at this season of sorrow. I could not hesitate if the circumstances, as I will plainly describe them, did not put upon me what I think you will acknowledge to be an absolute compulsion.—I say not a word about what I did mention, for one thing, in my reply to W- the return of that incommodious affection under which I suffered at Bourton, when I had the pleasure of seeing you there. It is a very inconvenient attendant on travelling and visiting; but I think it is beginning to yield a little to the application of what was so kindly sent me by Miss B - At any rate I would not, after your letter, let that prevent my seeing you at the time I had engaged. It is this matter of Dr. Marshman's that forms the iron of the bondage. The case stands thus. He has found his ugly task, partly from the complication and extent of subjects involved in it, vastly
more toilsome and tedious than he calculated; and now he is receiving letters day after day from friends in different quarters, expressing wonder what he can be about, telling him that he is leaving them without competent means to act efficiently as his advocates. He is therefore become painfully anxious to get the article, or rather the first and larger half of it, out very soon. As to what himself has now remaining to be done, he might dispense with any assistance I can give him. But the thing is, that I have been inveigled into undertaking to write something in the way of preface, in my own name; and it has unfortunately spread into such prolixity, that it cannot now be brought to a decent ending, short of the length of a long sermon. A portion of it remains yet to be composed, and the whole of it to be (I dare say) tediously revised, transcribed, and seen through the press. My experience certifies me that this is impossible to be done within the short interval before the time that I had so confidently promised myself to see you at Worcester. And the interposition of a week of delay at this juncture would really be a very serious injury to the pressing interests of one of the best men, as I certainly believe, on earth, and combined with his the interests of Serampore. If I were to say I must go to Worcester, he is too unassuming, by far, to remonstrate, but he would feel extreme regret; and he is half jaded and oppressed to death already, between the tedious labour and the grievous and harassing nature of what he has been about.-In addition to the disagreeable task on my hands I must find time, if I can, to answer several of the letters which I too have received on the business.
This, my dear Sir, is the simple truth of the case. You will partly see the stress of it, but cannot in the same degree in which I am made sensible of it from being implicated in it.—I presume that your sister and Mr. Easthope are with you, or at the house of mourningemphatically such. 'I shall sympathize with you on the
. melancholy scene which is probably yet to come. How differently will the house, the gardens, the church, and above all the family, appear from what they have ever done before !
I will not conclude without saying that I promise my
self to see you at a little distance, I hope, further on in the spring-if indeed the event that darkens to you this period of the spring, did not warn against all confidence in projects for to-morrow.
Stapleton, August 16, 1828. So your old war against London, in firm alliance, too, with Mrs. Hill, is to end in submission. .. And there, said I, looking in the map of Cornwall for the situation of Camberne, and finding it at so practicable a distance from Portreath, St. Agnes, and what not, there goes away my dream of passing a few weeks with them in a locality so near that fine picturesque coast—there it goes in chace of my former dream of seeing them on the edge of the highlands of Scotland. Sic transit gloria!
Mrs. Hill and the young people have done wisely to take an indemnification beforehand in North Wales, for what is sacrificed in the way of nature's fine things by the surrender of Cornwall, perhaps the final surrender in respect to residence; for if you get reconciled to London, there is circuit for you after circuit, at only two or three miles distance at each remove, and still again and again the same round, till you get up to the patriarchal age of old Wesley himself. Adieu therefore now to coasts, hills, rills, and every thing of that kind; henceforward it is to be, streets, smoke, fogs, and the Thames. But I hope the benefit to friend John will compensate for the difference. .... I never did or could like that bar-business for him,*
* “ As to John's zealous interest about non-professional affairs, I could have assumed all that without your telling me. And now do not pretend that. I am taking part against his father if I say that, while said father will do right to remonstrate against excess, he should not treat it as all
While I hope the young advocate and jurisconsult will duly work his law-books, it were yet in vain to deny to him that the present and coming-on events in the great world are of vast and almost unlimited importance to all mankind, announcing a momentous change in the condition of the nations, ominous, in all probable appearance, of the wide destruction of those dominations which have so long held them in slavery
but as it is apparently his fate, he will be very properly desirous to bring all attainable qualifications into convergence upon it. How it would please me and vex you, if he should, after all, turn Methodist preacher, or tutor of a Methodist academy—if Baptist, better still; instead of going to lose his conscience, and perhaps morals too, among a set of the most unprincipled fellows on the earth.
There is little to be said about myself. What is called “ change of air” is strongly recommended, and accordingly I am going next week, if there be any tolerable alteration of this dolefully wet weather, on a short visit to Worcester, and thence probably to my medical brother-in-law at Bourton. Thence I must come to have the meeting with Dr. Marshman, who will probably not be in this part of the country afterwards. His affair having occupied me during much the greater part of the year, during which I should otherwise have been about other work, and earning a little money in that way, which I want as much as my neighbours ; so that I am most miserably in arrear with certain doings which I ought to have been about, and had pledged myself to do my best to perform long since. I am therefore under every kind of obligation to try to do what I can during the descent of the year, after having been defrauded of the best and most genial part of it. Besides the usual grievance and distress which I always experience in any mental labour there is the painful addition, that latterly.my eyes are in such a state of weakness and uneasiness, that I can read very little, and am all the worse off for even thinking. Every day, and almost every hour, I am forcibly reminded, that life is fast coming toward the dregs—and will, ere long, come to its conclusion. At the same time, I have less of the former complaint of the stomach. This impossibility of reading enough to be of any use (from the state of my eyes) exacerbates my mortification for the folly of having accumulated so many now useless books. and superstition, and precursors or the commencement, it may be presumed, of the grand process (too probably a tremendous and calamitous one) by which the Governor of the world will prepare the way for the ultimate dominion of truth and righteousness.”—Mr. Foster to Rev. Josiah Hill.
While writing the above, with the intention of despatching this sheet by to-day's post, I was somewhat chagrined by a note introducing a gentleman of the Caledonian kirk, a stranger from the neighbourhood of Stirling, but luckily a mortal foe to all episcopacy; a man of large information, of large travelling, and modest to the last degree. I have been much pleased with him, and now return to my writing.
Hall was lately saying that there must infallibly be, ere long, a great alteration in the constitution of the conference; among other things, that the laymen will either obtain an introduction into it, or will do their best to blow it up. All this notwithstanding, I declare to you once again, that I am always glad to hear of the enlarging extension of the Methodists, from my uniform conviction that (with no small discount for harm) they are on the whole doing great good.
CXLVIII. TO JOHN PURSER, JUN., ESQ.
Sept. 30, 1828. I am just returned from an excursion of rather protracted duration in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, &c. A letter received at Worcester from my wife, informed me that a young gentleman, your son, had been here. I regretted having thus been prevented seeing him, and still more so, on now hearing her description of the intelligent and manly character apparent in the transient visitor.
But your son,-a young man of mature age,-I seem to be unable to realize the fact. All my ideas fix on yourself, as a youth very much in minority of age ; and I cannot carry my imagination on, through the succession of events from that period, so long past, to the present state of your condition.
My dear friend, your shrewdness will have perceived how I am contriving to slide into the letter without accounting first for the long silence since I received yours, which, with your father's, gave me the most animated