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what I now feel is a state of sinking languor, from which it seems impossible I should ever be raised. I am greatly exhausted with this long letter, so farewell.”
A reaction of still more distressing debility, and an increase of other alarming symptoms, followed but too rapidly this temporary revival. “I cannot tell you how much I suffer," was the reluctant confession of a pencilled note to her sister, “nor what a state of utter childlike weakness my poor wasted limbs are reduced to. But my mind is, as I desired Charlie to tell you, in a state of the deepest resignation; to which is now added a warm thankfulness to God for this His latest mercy.”
The increased danger of her situation making it advisable that she should return into Dawson Street to be nearer her physicians, she quitted Redesdale in the beginning of March, with a heart full of gratitude for the kindly shelter it had afforded her. She had now almost entirely lost the use of her limbs, and had to be lifted in and out of the carriage by her brother, who had come up from Kilkenny on purpose to superintend the arrangements for her removal, and who from this time to the hour of her death, never left her, but when summoned into the country by his official duties; whilst his affectionate wife, who arrived in Dublin the following week, continued unremitting in her devoted attendance to the last. The melancholy group was soon afterwards joined by her sister, who remained with her until called away by still more imperative claims; and for a few days by her son Willoughby, then employed (as has already been men
Vol. I. 26
tioned) upon the Ordnance Survey in the north of Ireland.
From this time, the daily declining invalid could only leave her bed to be laid upon a couch in the same room; and her sufferings, caused by the organic disease which had succeeded the ague, were occasionally most severe. But all was borne uncomplainingly. Never was her mind overshadowed with gloom ; never would she allow those around her to speak of her condition as one deserving commiseration. The dark and silent chamber seemed illumined by light from above, and cheered with songs of angels; and she would say, that, in her intervals from pain, “no poetry could express, nor imagination conceive, the visions of blessedness that fitted across her fancy, and made her waking hours more delightful than those even that were given to temporary repose.” Her sleep was calm and happy; and none but pleasing dreams ever visited her couch. This she acknowledged as a great and unexpected blessing; for, in all her former ille nesses, she had been used to suffer either from painfully intense wakefulness, or disturbed and fitful slumbers, which exhausted, rather than refreshed, the worn and feverish frame. Changeful as were the moods of her mind, they were invariably alike in this — that serenity and submission as to her own state, and the kindest consideration for others, shed their sweet influence over all. At times, her spirit would appear to be already half-etherealized; her mind would seem to be fraught with deep, and holy, and incommunicable thoughts, and she would entreat to be left perfectly alone, in stillness and darkness, “ to commune with her
own heart," and reflect on the mercies of her Saviour She continually spoke of the unutterable comfort she derived from dwelling on the contemplation of the Atonement. To one friend, for whom she dreaded the influence of adverse opinions, she sent a solemn exhortation, earnestly declaring that this alone was her “ rod and staff,” when all earthly supports were failing. To another, she desired the assurance might be given, that “the tenderness and affectionateness of the Redeemer's character, which they had often contemplated together, was now a source, not merely of reliance, but of positive happiness to her — the sweetness of her couch." At less solemn moments she would converse with much of her own kindly cheerfulness, sending affectionate messages to her various friends, and recalling old remembrances with vivid and endearing minuteness. Her thoughts reverted frequently to the days of childhood—to the old house by the sea-shore-the mountain ranbles—the haunts and the books which had formed the delight of her girlish years. One evening, whilst her sister was sitting by her bed-side, a yellow gleam from the setting sun, which streamed through the half-closed shutters, produced a peculiar effect upon the wall, exactly similar to what used to be observed at sunset in their old school-room at Gwrych. They both remarked the circumstance, and what a gush of recollections was thus called forth! The association was like that so often produced by a peculiar scent, or a remembered strain of music. Yet in all, save that streak of light,
- It may be a sound — A tone of music - summer's eve -- or spring
how different were the two scenes !—The one, a cham-
Of joye and alle berefte ?
'Cause I had none, I'm lefte." I The powers of memory for which Mrs. Hemans had always been so remarkable, shone forth with increased brightness whilst her outward frame was so visibly decaying. She would lie for hours without speaking or moving, repeating to herself whole chapters of the Bible, and page after page of Milton and Wordsworth. The volume of Yarrow Revisited,
A flower - the wind - the ocean - which shall wound, Striking the electric chain wherewith we are darkly bound."
Childe Harold, Canto iv. Stanza xxiii. * In Crediton Church, near Exeter.
which was published at this time, and sent to her by her revered friend, with an autograph inscription, afforded her great delight. Amongst the many messages of cordial remembrance which she sent to her personal friends, as well as to some of those with whose minds alone she had held communion, was one to Miss Mitford, desiring she might be told how often some of her sweet woodland scenes rose up before her, as in a camera obscura, filling the dark room with pleasant rural sights; with the scent of the newmown hay or the fresh fern, and the soothing sound of waters. Her “Remembrances of Nature," described with so deep a feeling in one of her sonnets, continued equally intense and affectionate to the last. A passage from a work which had long been high in her favour, was now brought home to her thoughts with a truth equal to its eloquence. “O unseen Spirit of Creation! that watchest over all things—the desert and the rock, no less than the fresh water, bounding on like a hunter on his path, when his heart is in his step—or the valley girded by the glad woods, and living with the yellow corn—to me, thus sad and
* It would have been very dear to her, could she have foreseen the delicate and appropriate commemoration awarded to her by Mr. Wordsworth, in the elegiac stanzas which record the high names of some of his most distinguished contemporaries, summoned, in quick succession, “ to the land whence none return :"—
“Mourn rather for that holy spirit,
Sweet as the spring, as ocean deep,
Has sunk into a breathless sleep."