Imágenes de página

and ought to make me very thankful. I hope God Almighty will continue to be your protector in all dangers. Little do we know when we go out, whether we are to return home alive, or to be brought home dead. This is often in my thoughts; and as somebody says of sleep, it is so like death, that I dare not venture upon it without first commending myself to God; so say I, I dare not go out in the morning, till I have begged the protection of my Maker.”

Learn, dear Jack, to say No. I have often suffered by being so weak as not to be able to pronounce that little word.”

“ How do you like Mr. Hutton ? he is clever. It is wonderful to consider what difficulties these Moravians undergo in their missions, and that too without any prospect of worldly riches or comforts. They cut themselves off from their friends, country, and every thing that is dear to men in this life, and undergo amazing hardships, and all for the sake of making converts. Such men must be sincere, be their mistakes what they will.”

“ Your differing from me in opinion, especially on a subject where so much is found to be said on both sides, will never make me angry. Whoever differs in opinion from the bulk of mankind, if he has any degree of humility, will think of others with great charity, and often have fears that he is wrong in his opinions, because they are different from those of so many men of more sense and of more piety than he has. This, at least, is my own case, and instead of finding fault with others for not thinking or acting as I do, I pray God to have mercy on me, and to forgive me the errors of my judgment, if I am wrong."

“ Conscience is an odd thing; but the worst is, every one has a pope in his own breast, who, though he scruples some things, yet in others gives most abominable dispensations."

The kindness expressed in some of these letters could not fail to produce a strong impression, and call for corresponding sentiments. One or two passages may be quoted, to show the feelings of the writer.


“ Had I more time and more paper, I could not describe what I feel at the kind and tender manner in which you express yourself about me; if to love you for it, as much as ever son loved father, be a sufficient reward, I do believe


are rewarded. I know of no other recompence in my power. But indeed, Sir, it hurts me sadly to perceive (as I plainly do) that you are quite low spirited.I wish much to be with you, but do not think it possible just yet.”—

“ I hope I shall never see you in poor

's situation; but if I should, I trust I shall never so far forget my duty, or your former uninterrupted goodness to me, as to be capable of taking offence at what I shall be so very sure could proceed only from infirmity.—1 often reflect with great concern at the many sorrows and vexations which have embittered your past life, and earnestly wish that the remainder of your days could be preserved free from all such ;- but wishing is idle, else I would wish you of my own age, and then there would not be a man, no not even my own brother, whose friendship I should so highly value. There is one other thing I most ardently wish, and it is more within the bounds of possibility,—and that is, to do all in my power to contribute to the comfort and happiness of your future life; but, unluckily, little is in my power, as we are placed at so great a distance.--I have run through your letter, and observed upon as much of it as I have time for; so wishing you a good walk, I remain, dear Sir, “ Your ever affectionate,

66 J. B.” “ I do not say dutiful, because as that is seldom the motive of my actions toward you, it seems at least an useless if not improper term; and, to say the truth, it always struck me as somewat bold to assert that I was dutiful ; — that I am affectionate, and very affectionate, I dare boldly say, and I believe I might say most affectionate, at least I know I ought to be so; but you are such a favourite with my brother, that I am almost afraid to venture."


is such as

“ I beg you only to show me where David says, that the consequence of exceeding seventy years


age you hint at. He says, indeed, that the days of our age are seventy years; by which I apprehend he means only, that men seldom die of old


before that term; and till then, at least, their minds and bodies retain their strength and vigour; and so they do often even after that time; for he admits that men are so strong that they come to fourscore years, but then their strength is but labour and sorrow; and in this I apprehend he is not mistaken; and therefore it is not without pain I reflect, that a few short years will bring you to that period; and yet I ought rather to bless God that he has hitherto preserved you, and that you are still so free from the infirmities of old

age. May you long continue so! even so long as to become an exception to the general rule laid down by the prophet! which, however is so general an one, as ought to make all old people (at least) join in that beautiful prayer, “ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom ! And even the young, who think that prayer needless, must either be void of all feeling and reflection, or have had fewer escapes than some of their neighbours. Such escapes can hardly fail to produce some degree of thankfulness; but I fear we are too apt to suffer many and great mercies to pass by us, not only unacknowledged, but even unobserved. What I have been writing has brought one to my mind; for how terrible would the situation of all your

children have been, had they lost you in their infancy! What frauds, what oppressions, and what endless and ruinous litigation would probably have been their lot ! But I am got upon an inexhaustible subject, upon which it it is very difficult to think aright, or to express one's thoughts with propriety: —

When all thy mercies, O my God,

My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I'm lost

In wonder, love, and praise.'”

[ocr errors]


It is truly observed in a passage which has not been quoted, lest the extracts should appear too numerous, that a letter is written pro re natá, and if it is read at a distance of time from the date, carries a different meaning from what the writer intended. “ As to any thing I may leave behind me,” he adds, “ it is needless to say you will not expose your father's nakedness." It is to be observed, likewise, that letters such as the above are written in all the confidence of secrecy, and without a thought of their being made public; on which account they have not now been produced without some hesitation, and a fear of incurring a charge of unbecoming exposure. Yet it may be remarked, that the sentiments and feelings of the writer are more accurately ascertained by this very circumstance; and as no one's character is implicated, nor any painful feelings excited, as has sometimes unhappily occurred, by improperly disclosing that which should have been preserved under the sacred seal of secrecy, it is to be hoped that these extracts will be perused with interest unabated by any less pleasing reflections. In the same hope some large extracts are added from letters addressed to Mr. Bowdler, by his mother, which can scarcely fail to interest, to gratify, perhaps even to instruct, all who read them.

“ Bath, April 23. 1767. “I did not think, my dear, to have been so long without answering yours, but it has been my practice from my earliest youth to call off my thoughts as much as possible from every thing but the duties of my state of life, and fix them on religious employments, at least at the return of the greater festivals ; times which even the gay world used formerly to allow one for retirement, especially in France. I can assure you, I not only now look back

those hours with the greatest satisfaction, but that at the time when I was all life and spirits they were some of the sweetest I ever passed. Make no scruple of putting questions to me, if reading long answers will not tire you; for, as to me, the desire of being of use to my children has turned my thoughts


« AnteriorContinuar »