« AnteriorContinuar »
of intense anxiety followed; yet not only did it pass without further alarm, but the morning brought revival, and even some symptoms of improvement, as though a sort of crisis had been gone through. Once more the idea of a hope-a chance-of recovery, gained unconscious admission in the minds of those who, a week before, would have thought the mere mention of such a possibility absolutely chimerical. The advance of spring appeared to give somewhat of a fresh impulse to her frame, as soft showers might, for a season, revive a drooping flower. The images of external nature haunted her, as by the working of a secret sympathy, more vividly than ever; and her “green books," as she would fancifully call them, were again laid on the little table beside her bed, which, with “ the ruling passion, strong in death,” she loved to see covered with volumes, one of which would
A simple altar by the bed,
Ye gentle spirits far away,
With blended voices evermore."
always lie open. Amongst the works of this nature
Rock'd by the hand of death, takes quiet rest.
A full repose; he hath been long awake.” And yet more intimately connected with the memory of these latter days, is the account of the death of Madame de Mornay, in the second volume of the Lives of Eminent Christians ; which she entered into with the deepest interest, and earnestly recommended as a beautiful and consolatory picture, showing in bright, yet not exaggerated colours, “how a Christian can die."
Under the fond and fugitive delusions into which this unexpected turn in her malady had beguiled the
anxious watchers round her, and occasionally, as it appeared, even the sufferer herself, her sister, recalled by yet stronger ties, hade her farewell, on the 1st of April. The same fluctuations of hope and fear continued to assert their alternate ascendency during the earlier part of that month; but it soon became but too evident that, though many of the most imminent and distressing symptoms had been subdued, they had only given place to a consuming hectic fever, which went on surely and insidiously wasting the last remnants of vitality; now lending to its victim an aspect of illusive energy, now sinking her into the deepest extreme of passive and helpless prostration.
After the exhausting vicissitudes of days when it seemed that the night of death was indeed at handof nights when it was thought that she could never see the light of morning; wonderful even to those who had witnessed, throughout her illness, the clearness and brightness of the never-dying principle, amidst the desolation and decay of its earthly companion, was the concentrated power and facility with which, on Sunday, the 26th of April, she dictated to her brother the “ Sabbath Sonnet,” the last strain of the “sweet singer," whose harp was henceforth to be hung upon the willows.
“How many blessed groups this hour are bending,
Through England's primrose meadow-paths, their way
Vol. 1. - 27
Send out their inmates in a happy flow,
“A soft, sad, miserere chant
For a soul about to go." After this last effort, the shadows of death began to close in apace. The wing, once so buoyant and fearless, was now meekly folded, and the weary, wounded bird longed only for rest. During the last week of her life, she became subject to slight wanderings; but the images she dwelt upon were always pleasing or beautiful. She still loved to be read to, and seemed to feel a tranquillizing influence from the sound of the words, even when incapable of attending
*Amongst the many tributes of interest and admiration elicited by a poem, so remarkable to all readers—so precious to many hearts—the following expressions, contained in a letter from the late venerable Bishop of Salisbury to Mrs. Joanna Baillie (and already published by the latter), are too pleasingly applicable not to be inserted here. “There is something peculiarly touching in the time, the subject, and the occasion of this death-bed sonnet, and in the affecting contrast between the blessed groups' she describes, and her own (humanly speaking) helpless state of sickness; and that again contrasted with the hopeful state of mind with which the sonnet concludes, expressive both of the quiet comforts of a Christian Sabbath, and the blessed fruits of profitable application. Her Sweet Chimes' on Sabbath Peace,' appear to me very characteristic of the writer.”
to their import. Four days before her death, she read to herself the Collect, Epistle, and Gospel for the preceding Sunday—the fourth Sunday after Easter. The gracious and comfortable words” of that gospel, mingling the consolations of Divine compassion with the parting tenderness of human love, were, perhaps, the most appropriate on which her fading eyes could have rested; nor could she fail to apply to herself the coincidence of some of the expressions~" Now, I go my way to Him that sent me”-“ I go to my Father, and ye see me no more”-and,“ Because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts.” And, as her feeble hands still held the cherished book, how fervently must she have inwardly responded to the words of the dying George Herbert, when, being asked what prayers he would prefer, he replied “O sir, the prayers of my mother, the Church of England—no other prayers are equal to them !”
In her kind friend Dr. Croker, she was wont to say that she had at once a physician and a pastor. He frequently read to her, and particularly out of a little book which she dearly loved, and which he had first made known to her—a selection from the works of Archbishop Leighton. The last time of her listening to it, she repeatedly exclaimed, “ beautiful! beautiful!" and, with her eyes upraised, seemed occupied in communing with herself, and mentally praying. She was attended to the last with the most watchful affection by her brother and his wife, by her darling Charles, and her faithful Anna, to whom she said, when all was fast drawing to a close, that “she had been