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be restored. The season, however, was unfavourable; the constitution at 77 was too much impaired to rally effectually under the means employed to recruit it, and after two months of gradual decay, during which the watchful eye of affection continually perceived some symptom of increasing weakness, he at length sunk rapidly, and on the last day of June closed his eyes to open them no more,
The season of dissolution is so awful, so severe a trial to human nature, and pregnant with such important consequences, that we cannot be surprised if some desire be excited to know how any one, whose faculties were preserved entire, conducted himself at such a period. But that is surely a very laudable curiosity which would penetrate, as far as may be permitted, into “ the chamber where the good man meets his fate," and learn how far the principles which actuated his life afforded him comfort and support in that solemn hour which “ is appointed unto all men.” The illness by which Mr. Bowdler's life was concluded was, in many respects, so mercifully ordained, that the recollection of it is far from painful, and the mention of a few circumstances which attended it will, probably, not be unacceptable to the reader.
During the former part of it his strength diminished so fast, that he soon became unable to walk alone, or even to stand, without support; yet he resisted the infirmities which came upon him with a vigour which, in the end, contributed much, probably, to his own convenience and that of his attendants. He had been always an early riser, and punctual to a moment in the business allotted to particular hours. During his last illness he rose regularly about six, and his bell rang for family prayers as punctually as heretofore. Previously to their assembling together, both in the morning and evening, some prayers were read for him from the office for the Visitation of the Sick. His perfect self-possession and unaffected piety on these occasions were highly edifying; the responses were made in a low, but firm voice; and the writer hopes to bear long in his remembrance the strong and joyful assent which was made to the noble confession of faith contained in one of the benedictions at the end of the Visitation Office, “ The Almighty Lord, who is a most strong tower to all them that put their trust in him, to whom all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth do bow and obey, be now and evermore thy defence, and make thee know and feel, that there is none other name under heaven given to man, in whom, and through whom thou mayest receive health and salvation, but only the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mr. Bowdler had been in the habit of receiving the holy communion during the days of his health as often as occasion would permit, and it was a subject of continual regret with him that such opportunities are not offered more frequently; a regret in which many pious members of the church of England have joined, and many of those who minister at the altar, who see and feel that nothing tends more to preserve a true and lively spirit of piety in the hearts of a congregation, than a frequent administration of that blessed sacrament. The spiritual consolation which this servant of God had at all times sought from this ordinance was, through the divine mercy, supplied in the hour of sickness and decay, and in a manner peculiarly satisfactory. On the 27th of April he received the holy elements from the hands of his son, after a confession (if it may be so called) which shewed, in a very affecting manner, his tenderness of conscience, his earnest self-abasement, and full and firm reliance on the merits of his Redeemer. From that time he suffered no week to
without a private communion, in which his immediate relatives took a part; and the little congregation was sometimes increased by the presence of an old and devout domestic, who, with a slight interruption, had been in his service during forty-five years. Such scenes are among the most edifying that our holy religion presents to us. The firm manly piety of him who feels that his days are numbered, the placid resignation of those who view with sad and solemn anticipation the breaking of that staff on which they long have leaned, the nature of the service in which they are engaged, and the
humble, yet elevating language in which the church has dressed it, all are calculated to strengthen, rather than wound the heart, and raise it in devotion, and even thankfulness, to Heaven. The death of the hoary sire, who sinks like the monarch of the forest by natural and gradual decay, will afford matter for contemplation not the less instructive, because unattended with that severe anguish which is felt when, by some mysterious dispensation, the dearest ties are suddenly torn asunder, the brightest hopes are darkened, and the flower fades, and the tree falls, in all the beauty and vigour of youth.
Mr. Bowdler, as has been already intimated, had anticipated the day of weakness and decay, and had arranged his worldly concerns with a prudent foresight. In this he felt a comfort which it were well if many who are less thoughtful would provide for themselves. To a person of his regular habits, the satisfaction was unspeakable. His time was entirely at his command : his mind was easy, and free to bestow itself upon any subject which came before it, particularly on those of everlasting interest. The psalms and lessons for the day were regularly read to him, to which were added Bishop Dehon's Sermons, in which he took peculiar delight, and hymns and poems from his own collection. Some papers which he had written for the direction of those who survived him, he read from time to time, and explained his wishes; and
letters, which he dictated, not being himself able to write without difficulty, he took an affectionate leave of his friends. He was alive also to the events of the passing day; and politics, in which he had always taken much interest, now served, amongst other things, to occupy and amuse his mind without embarrassing it. “ The newspaper,' he would say, “suits me exactly, for I can go to sleep while it is read; but it is very painful to fall asleep over the Bible, and yet I am now reduced even to this.”
The lesson which he had learned from his father, “ Do all the good you can,” was continually in his thoughts, and nothing, perhaps, was so irksome to him as the being shut out from the power of any longer fulfilling this precept. When the writer of this Memoir was once mentioning some one who had recovered from a state of great weakness, expressing at the same time a doubt if recovery would appear to him desirable, he replied, “ Indeed, my friend, I do not know why I should wish to live; I do not see that I can do any more good.” It may, however, be useful for those who are apt to be impatient under the burthen of
prolonged life to learn, that some days, or even weeks, after he had sighed over his inability to be useful, he was enabled to devote his attention to a subject in which he felt a peculiar interest, and to dictate some papers respecting it which shewed very remarkably the clearness of his faculties and his pre