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to her.” She paused for a moment. “ I have always felt that I could meet death with composure; but I did not know," she said, with a tremulous voice, her lips quivering -"I did not know how hard a thing it would be to leave my children, till now that the hour has come.”
After a little while, she spoke of his father, and said, she had lived with the belief that he was mindful of her, and with the conviction, which grew stronger as death approach. ed, that she should meet him in another world. She said but little more, as she grew weaker and weaker every hour. Arthur sat by in silence, holding her hand. He saw that she was sensible he was watching her countenance, for every now and then she opened her dull eye, and looked toward's him and endeavored to smile.
The day wore slowly away. The sun went down, and the melancholy and still twilight came on. Nothing was heard but the ticking of the watch, telling him with a resistless power, that the hour was drawing nigh. He gasp. ed, as if under some invisible, gigantic grasp, which it was not for human strength to struggle against.
It was now quite dark, and by the pale light of the night. lamp in the chimney corner, the furniture in the room threw huge and uncouth figures over the walls. All was unsubstantial and visionary, and the shadowy ministers of death appeared gathering round, waiting the duty of the hour appointed them. Arthur shuddered for a moment with superstitious awe; but the solemn elevation which a good man feels at the sight of the dying, took possession of him, and he became calm again.
The approach of death has so much which is exalting, that our grief is, for the time, forgotten. And could one who had seen Arthur a few hours before, now have looked upon the grave and grand repose of his countenance, he would hardly have known him.
The livid hue of death was fast spreading over his mother's face. He stooped forward to catch the sound of her breathing. It grew quick and faint-"My mother."--She opened her eyes, for the last time, upon him-a faint flush passed over her cheek—there was the serenity of an angel in her look-her hand just pressed his. It was all over.
His spirit had endured to its utmost. It sunk down from its unearthly height; and with his face upon his mother's pillow, he wept like a child. He arose with a violent effort, and stepping into the adjoining chamber, spoke to his aunt. “ It is past,” said he. “Is my sister asleep ?-Well, then, let her have rest; she needs it.” He then went to his own chamber and shůt himself in.
It is a merciful thing that the intense suffering of sensitive minds makes to itself a relief. Violent grief brings on a torpor, and an indistinctness, and dimness, as from long watching. It is not till the violence of affliction has subsid ed, and gentle and soothing thoughts can find room to mix with our sorrow, and holy consolations can minister to us, that we are able to know fully our loss, and see clearly what has been torn away from our affections. It was so with Arthur. Unconnected and strange thoughts, with melancholy but half-formed images, were floating in his mind, and now and then a gleam of light would pass through it, as if he had been in a troubled trance, and all was right again. His worn and tired feelings at last found rest in sleep.
It is an impression which we cannot rid ourselves of if we would, when sitting by the body of a friend, that he has still a consciousness of our presence—that though the common concerns of the world have no more to do with him, he has still a love and care of us. The face which we had so long been familiar with, when it was all life and motion, seems only in a state of rest. We know not how to make it real to ourselves, that the body before us is not a living thing
Arthur was in such a state of mind, as he sat alone in the room by his mother, the day after her death. It was as if her soul had been in paradise, and was now holding communion with pure spirits there, though it still abode in the body that lay before him. He felt as if sanctified by the presence of one to whom the other world had been laid open-as if under the love and protection of one made holy. The religious reflections that his mother had early taught him, gave him strength; a spiritual composure stole over him, and he found himself prepared to perform the last offices to the dead.
Is it not enough to see our friends die, and part with them for the remainder of our days—to reflect that we shall hear their voices no more, and that they will never look on us again-to see that turning to corruption which was but just now alive, and eloquent, and beautiful with all the sensations of the soul? Are our sorrows so sacred and peculiar as to make the world as vanity to us, and the men of it as strangers, and shall we not be left to our afflictions for a few hours ? Must we be brought out at such a time to the concerned, or careless gaze of those we know not, or be made to bear the formal proffers of consolation from acquaintances who will go away and forget it all ? Shall we not be suffered a little while, a holy and healing communion with the dead ? Must the kindred stillness and gloom of our dwelling be changed for the solemn show of the pall, the talk of the passers-by, and the broad and piercing light of the common sun? Must the ceremonies of the world wait on us even to the open graves of our friends ?
When the hour came, Arthur rose with a firm step and fixed eye, though his whole face was tremulous with the struggle within him. He went to his sister, and took her arm within his. The bell struck. Its heavy, undulating sound rolled forward like a sea. He felt a violent beating through his whole frame, which shook him that he reeled. It was but a momentary weakness. He moved on, passing those who surrounded him, as if they had been shadows. While he followed the slow hearse, there was a vacancy in his eye as it rested on the coffin, which showed him hardly conscious of what was before him. His spirit was with his mother's. As he reached the grave, he shrunk back and turna deadly pale; but sinking his head upon his breast, and drawing his hat over his face, he stood motionless as a statue till the service was over.
He had gone through all that the forms of society required of him. For as painful as the effort was, and as little suited as such forms were to his own thoughts upon the subject, yet he could not do any thing that might appear to the world like a want of reverence and respect for his mother. The scene was ended, and the inward struggle over; and now that he was left to himself, the greatness of his loss
full and distinctly before him. It was a dreary and chilly evening when he returned home. When he entered the house from which his mother had gone for ever, a sense of dreary emptiness oppressed him, as if his very abode had been deserted by every living thing. He walked into his mother's chamber. The naked bedstead, and the chair in which she used to sit, were all that was left in the room. As he threw himself back into the chair, he groaned in the bitterness of his spirit. A feeling of forlornness came over him which was not to be relieved by tears. She, whom he had watched over in her dying hour, and whom he had talked to as she lay before him in death, as if she could hear and answer him, had gone from him. Nothing was left for the senses to fasten fondly on, and time had not yet taught him to think of her only as a spirit. But time and holy endeavors brought this consolation ; and the little of life that a wasting disease left him, was past by him, when alone, in thoughtful tranquillity; and amongst his friends he appeared with that gentle cheerfulness which, before his mother's death, had been a part of his nature.
Lines to a Child on his voyage to France, to meet his Father.
Lo, how impatiently upon the tide
'Tis wonderful and yet, my boy, just such
And thou must sail upon this sea, a long,
Farewell—Heaven smile propitious on thy course,
Inscription for the entrance into a wood.- BRYANT. STRANGER, if thou hast learnt a truth which needs Experience more than reason, that the world Is full of guilt and misery; and hast known Enough of all its sorrows, crimes and cares To tire thee of it-enter this wild wood And view the haunts of Nature. The calm shade Shall bring a kindred calm, and the sweet breeze