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I was hardly able to bear the thoughts of surviving him: but, thank God, I am in some degree composed. I most earnestly repent of my sin, in forgetting for a moment that from His hand I receive good, and why not evil when he thinks fit ? · Pray, sir, pardon the liberty I have taken in writing to you; but allow me to apologize in some measure, by telling you, that the day before my dearest father grew ill, he desired me to write; as, you may remember, he owed you a letter. "Perhaps,” said he smiling, “it will please the dear doctor.” . . You will, no doubt, wonder what could take him off so suddenly. It was a disorder in the brain; not water, but something occasioned by a fulness in the head. He died on the sixth day after he was seized. The day he was first affected, he came down to breakfast; but, alas! he had totally lost his senses. Think what I must have felt! The physicians all agreed, and thought till the very last, that his bodily ailments were not fatal, but that his understanding was gone for ever.' Was it not a blessing then that God did not ordain him to outlive himself ? I have been since thinking that I was permitted to see him in that most melancholy state, to fill my heart with this subject of thankfulness.
And let me cast my thoughts on that most amazing and blessed change he has undergone, from a world of pains and vexations at best, to join that blessed spirit, my dearest mother, and make one of the angelic choir that cease not, day and night, to sing hallelujahs. How this idea transports me from the world! God grant it may influence my life; that, when I come to die, it may be the death of the righteous, which is only to be attained by living their life!
Will you be so kind as to present my most affectionate respects to Mrs. Horne and your daughters? You will break these most dismal tidings to them; I am sure they will sympathize in my affliction.
I fatter myself that you will favour me with a line. What consolation must flow from your pen! And suffer me to assure you, that, next to the dear parent who is laid in the dust, I have reverenced, loved, and honoured you. If you can pardon me for thus troubling you, and you should wish to hear now and then how the mourners at go on, I shall have much pleasure in letting you know.
My poor brother is most deeply afflicted. My happiness must now, in a great measure, rest upon his good conduct; and I think he will not disappoint me: thus, as one prop is withdrawn, the heart of man fondly clings to another.
Mrs. is getting much better. Ever since we came home this year, we have been in daily expectation of her decease. What an amazement it is to her to find herself alive, surviving my father! She bears it like a Christian ; and says, she needs not take her leave so soon to follow. Farewell, most honoured sir! Believe me
Your most dutiful, most afflicted servant.
Canterbury, Nov. Il. My dear madam,
Little did I think that a letter from basin ainakin men would afflict my soul; but yours received this morning has indeed done it. Seeing your hand, and a
black seal, my mind foreboded what had happened. I made an attempt to read it to my wife and daughters; but-it would not do I got no further than the first sentence;' burst into a flood of tears, and was obliged to retreat into the solitude of my study, unfit for any thing, but to think on what had happened; then to fall uponi my knees, and pray, that God would pour down his choicest blessings on the children of my departed friend, and, as their 6 father and their mother had for: saken them,” that He would “ take them up,” and support them in time and eternity. . .
You ask comfort of me: but your truly excellent letter has suggested comfort to me, from all the proper topics ; and I can only reflect it back to you. All things considered, the circumstance which first marked the disorder may be termed a gracious dispensation. It at once rendered the event, one may say, desirable, which other wise carried, in the face of it, so much terror and sorrow. Nothing else in the world could so soon, and so effectually, have blunted the edge of the approaching calamity, and reconciled to it minds full of the tenderest love and affection. To complete the only consolation that remained, which we all know to be the fact, Mr.
stood always so prepared, so firm in his faith, so constant in his Christian practice of every duty, that he could not be taken by surprise, or off his guard: the stroke must be to himself a blessing, whenever, or however, it came. His death was his birthday ; and, like the primitive Christians, we should keep it as such, as a day of joy and triumph. Bury his body; but embalm his example, and let it diffuse its fragrance among you from generation to generation. Call him blessed, and endeavour to be like him; like him, in piety, in charity,
in friendship, in courteousness, in temper, in conduct, in word, and in deed. His virtues compose a little volume, which your brother should carry in his bosom; and he will need no other, if that be well studied, to make him the gentleman and the Christian. You, my dear madam, will, I am sure, go on with diligence to finish the fair transcript you have begun. .
Do not apologize for writing ; but let me hear what you do, and what plan of life your brother thinks of pursuing. With kindest compliments from the sympathizing folks here, believe me ever, my dear madam, Your faithful friend and servant,
LETTERS OF DR. JOHNSON.
September 25, 1750. Dear sir,
You have, as I find by every kind of evidence, lost an excellent mother; and I hope you will not think me incapable of partaking of your grief. I have a mother now eighty two years of age; whom, therefore, I must soon lose, unless it please God that she rather should mourn for me. I read the letters in which you relate your mother's death to Mrs. Strahan; and think I do myself honour when I tell you that I read them with tears: but tears are neither to you nor to me of any farther use, when the tribute of nature has been paid. The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. The greatest benefit which one friend can confer upon another, is to guard, and excite, and elevate his virtues. This, your mother will still perform, if you diligently preserve the memory of her life, and of her death: a life, so far as I can learn, useful and wise; and a death resigned, peaceful, and holy. I cannot forbear to mention, that neither reason nor revelation denies you to hope, that you may increase her happiness by obeying her precepts; and that she may, in her present state, look with pleasure