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Yet hath outstay'd his welcome while,
And tells the jest without the smile.1

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,
And read with gentle breast. Beneath this sod
A poet lies, or that which once seem'd he.-
0, lift one thought in prayer for S. T. C. ;
That he who many a year with toil of breath
Found death in life, may here find life in death!
Mercy for praise—to be forgiven for fame
He ask'd, and hoped, through Christ. Do thou the


same ! 3

1 - Youth and Age” (1822-32).

2 From letter to Adam Steinmetz Kennard (his godson), July 1834.


3 66

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

go Again to mingle with a world impure, 1 From letter to (November 1837). 2 From letter to T. H. Taylor (June 1838).


With men who make a mock of holy things
Mistaken, and of man's best hope think scorn.
The world does much to warp the heart of man,
And I may sometimes join its idiot laugh.
Of this I now complain not. Deal with me,
Omniscient Father! as thou judgest best,
And in Thy season tender Thou my heart.1
A heavy lot hath he, most wretched man !
Who lives the last of all his family ;
He looks around him, and his eye discerns
The face of the stranger, and his heart is sick.
Man of the world, what canst thou do for him ?
Wealth is a burden which he could not bear;
Mirth a strange crime, the which he dares not act;
And wine no cordial, but a bitter cup.
For wounds like his Christ is the only cure,
And gospel promises are his by right,
For these were given to the poor in heart.
Go, preach thou to him of a world to come,
Where friends shall meet and know each other's face.
Say less than this, and say it to the winds.2

And we are clay
In the potter's hands; and, at the worst, are made
From absolute nothing, vessels of disgrace,
Till, His most righteous purpose wrought in us,
Our purified spirits find their perfect rest.3
Fresh clad from heaven in robes of white,
A young probationer of light,
Thou wert my soul, an Album bright,
1 From “To Charles Lloyd ” (August 1797).

2 Written October 1797. 3 From “Written on Christmas Day,” 1797.

A spotless leaf; but thought and care,
And friend and foe, in foul or fair,
Have “written strange defeatures" there;

And Time, with heaviest hand of all,
Like that fierce writing on the wall,
Hath stamp'd sad dates—he can 't recall;
And error gilding worst designs,
Like speckled snake that strays and shines-
Betrays his path by crooked lines ;
And vice hath left his ugly blot;
And good resolves, a moment hot,
Fairly began—but finish'd not;
And fruitless, late remorse doth trace-
Like Hebrew lore, a backward pace-
Her irrecoverable race.
Disjointed numbers; sense unknit;
Huge realms of folly, shreds of wit,
Compose the mingled mass of it.
My scalded eyes no longer brook
Upon this ink-blurred thing to look-
Go, shut the leaves, and clasp the book.1


(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.”


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