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Yet hath outstay'd his welcome while,
At this moment, in great weakness and heaviness, [I] write from a sick-bed, hopeless of recovery, yet without prospect of a speedy removal. And I thus, on the brink of the grave, solemnly bear witness to you that the Almighty Redeemer, most gracious in His promises to them that truly seek Him, is faithful to perform what He has promised, and has reserved, under all pains and infirmities, the peace that passeth all understanding, with the supporting assurance of a reconciled God, who will not withdraw His Spirit from me in the conflict, and in His own time will deliver me from the evil one. Oh . . . eminently blessed are they who begin early to seek, fear, and love their God, trusting wholly in the righteousness and mediation of their Lord, Redeemer, Saviour, and everlasting High Priest, Jesus Christ.2
Stop, Christian passer-by !-Stop, child of God,
same ! 3
1 - Youth and Age” (1822-32).
2 From letter to Adam Steinmetz Kennard (his godson), July 1834.
ROBERT SOUTHEY (1774–1843) ALMOST the only wish I ever give utterance to is that the next hundred years were over.
It is not that the uses of this world seem to me weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable - God knows far otherwise! No man can be better contented with his lot. My paths are paths of pleasantness. . . . Still the instability of human happiness is ever before my eyes ; I long for the certain and the permanent.
My notions about life are much the same as they are about travelling—there is a good deal of amusement on the road, but, after all, one wants to be at rest.2
My disposition is invincibly cheerful, and this alone would make me a happy man if I were not so from the tenour of my life; yet I doubt whether the strictest Carthusian has the thought of death more habitually in his mind. 3
I could agree with you that “personal identity unbroken by death” were little to be desired, if it were all—if we were to begin a new life in the nakedness of that identity. But when we carry with us in that second birth all that makes existence valuable, our hopes and aspirations, our affections, our eupathies, our capacities of happiness and of improvement; when we are to be welcomed into another sphere by those dear ones who have gone before us, and are in our turn to 1 Written April 30, 1809.
2 Written May 22, 1809. 3 Written February 3,
welcome there those whom we left on earth, surely, of all God's blessings, the revelation which renders this certain is the greatest. There have been times in my life when my heart would have been broken if this belief had not supported me.
At this moment it is worth more than all the world could give.1
Whether Hope and I shall ever become intimate again in this world, except on the pilgrimage to the next, is very doubtful; nor ought it to be of much importance to a man in his sixty-fourth year. I have had a large portion of happiness, and of the highest kind; five and thirty years of such happiness few men are blest with. I have drunk, too, of the very gall of bitterness; yet not more than was wholesome; the
cup has been often administered, no doubt because it was needed. The moral discipline through which I have passed has been more complete than the intellectual. Both began early; and, all things considered, I do not think
any circumstances could have been more beneficial to me than those in which I have been placed. If not hopeful, therefore, I am more than contented, and disposed to welcome and entertain any good that may yet be in store for me, without any danger of being disappointed if there should be none.2
CHARLES LAMB (1775–1834)
ND now I
With men who make a mock of holy things
And we are clay
2 Written October 1797.
A spotless leaf; but thought and care,
And Time, with heaviest hand of all,
WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR
(1775–1864) THE THE leaves are falling ; so am I; The few late flowers have moisture in the eye;
So have I too.
1 “In My Own Album.”