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comforting him, as the women since told me, in elevated strains, but broken accents.
On the other side of the bed sat the good widow; her face overwhelmed with tears, leaning her head against the bed's head in a most disconsolate manner; and turning her face to me, as soon as she saw me-O Mr. Belford, cried she with folded hands --the dear lady-a heavy sob permitted her not to say more. Mrs. Smith, with clasped fingers and uplifted eyes, as if imploring help from the only power which could give it, was kneeling down at the bed's foot, tears in large drops trickling down her cheeks. Her nurse was kneeling between the widow and Mrs. Smith, her arms extended. In one hand she held an ineffectual cordial which she had just been offering her dying mistress ; her face was swollen with weeping (though used to such scenes as this); and she turned her eyes towards me, as if she called upon me by them to join in the helpless sorrow; a fresh stream bursting from them as I approached the bed.
The maid of the house with her face upon her folded arms, as she stood leaning against the wainscot, more audibly expressed her grief than any of the others. The lady had been silent a few minutes, and speechless, as they thought, moving her lips without uttering a word; one hand, as I said, in her cousin's. But when Mrs. Lovick, on my approach, pronounced my name -O Mr. Belford, said she, with a faint inward voice, but very distinct nevertheless - Now !— Now— (in broken periods she spoke). I bless God for His mercies to His poor creature—all will soon be over--a few—a very few moments—will end the strife—and I shall be happy! Comfort here, sir (turning her head to the Colonel)-comfort my cousin—see! the blame-able kindness-he would not wish me to be happy--so soon! Here she stopped for two or three minutes, earnestly looking upon him. Then resuming-My dearest cousin, said she, be comforted— what is dying but the common lot ?—The mortal frame may seem to labour-but that is all !- It is not so hard to die as I believed it to be !—The preparation is the difficulty-I bless God I have had time for that-the rest is worse to beholders than to me !-I am all blessed hope—hope itself. She looked what she said, a sweet smile beaming over her countenance.
After a short silence-Once more, my dear cousin, said she but still in broken accents, commend me most dutifully to my father and mother. — There she stopped. And then proceeding
-To my sister, to my brother, to my uncles—and tell them, I bless them with my parting breath—for all their goodness to me
-even for their displeasure, I bless them—most happy has been to me my punishment here! Happy indeed! She was silent for a few moments, lifting up her eyes, and the hand her cousin held not between his. Then O death ! said she, where is thy sting! (the words I remember to have heard in the burial-service read over my uncle and poor Belton). And after a pause-- It is good for me that I was afflicted! Words of Scripture, I suppose. Then turning towards us, who were lost in speechless sorrowO dear, dear gentlemen, said she, you know not what foretastes —what assurances—and there she again stopped, and looked up as if in a thankful rapture, sweetly smiling.
Then turning her head towards me—Do you, sir, tell your friend that I forgive him! And I pray to God to forgive him ! Again pausing, and lifting up her eyes, as if praying that he would. Let him know how happily I die :—and that, such as my own, I wish to be his last hour. She was again silent a few moments : and then resuming-My sight fails me !-Your voices only—(for we both applauded her Christian, her divine frame, though in accents as broken as her own) and the voice of grief is alike in all. Is not this Mr. Morden's hand ? pressing one of his with that he had just let goWhich is Mr. Belford's ? holding out the other. I gave her mine. God Almighty bless you both, said she, and make you both—in your last hourfor you must come to this—happy as I am.
She paused again, her breath growing shorter; and after a few minutes—And now, my dearest cousin, give me your handnearer-still nearer-drawing it towards her; and she pressed it with her dying lips—God protect you, dear, dear sir, and once more receive my best and most grateful thanks—and tell my dear Miss Howe, and vouchsafe to see and to tell my worthy Norton—she will be one day, I fear not, though now lowly in her fortunes, a saint in heaven—tell them both that I remember them with thankful blessings in my last moments! And pray God to give them happiness here for many, many years for the sake of their friends and lovers; and a heavenly crown hereafter ; and such assurances of it, as I have, through the all-satisfying merits of our blessed Redeemer.
Her sweet voice and broken periods methinks still fill my ears, and never will be out of my memory. After a short silence, in VOL. IV
a more broken and faint accent—And you, Mr. Belford, pressing my hand, may God preserve you, and make you sensible of all your errors—you see, in me, how all ends—may you be—and down sank her head upon her pillow, she fainting away and drawing from us her hands. We thought she was then gone; and each gave way to a violent burst of grief. But soon showing signs of returning life, our attention was again engaged ; and I besought her, when a little recovered, to complete in my favour her half-pronounced blessing. She waved her hand to us both, and bowed her head six times, as we have since recollected, as if distinguishing every person present; not forgetting the nurse and the maid-servant ; the latter having approached the bed, weeping as if crowding in for the divine lady's last blessing ; and she spake faltering and inwardly--Bless—bless-bless—you all --and---now-and now-(holding up her almost lifeless hands for the last time) come-0 come—Blessed Lord JESUS! And with these words, the last but half-pronounced, expired :—such a smile, such a charming serenity overspreading her sweet face at the instant, as seemed to manifest her eternal happiness already begun. O Lovelace !-But I can write no more !
(From the Same.)
[Joseph Butler, born at Wantage, 1692, was trained for the Presbyterian ministry, but went to Oriel College, Oxford, 1714, and eventually took orders in the Church of England. In 1718 (largely through Dr Samuel Clarke, with whom he had corresponded) he was made preacher at the Rolls Chapel, where he delivered the famous Sermons, published 1726. From 1721 to 1725 he held the Rectory of Haughton, and from 1725 to 1733 that of Stanhope, in Durham. In 1733 he became chaplain to Lord Chancellor Talbot. In 1736 he published his Analogy of Religion, natural and revealed, to the constitution and course of Nature. Thereafter he became successively Bishop of Bristol (1737), Dean of St. Paul's (1740), and Bishop of Durham (1750). He died at Bath and was buried in Bristol Cathedral 1752.]
BISHOP BUTLER was a logical writer, not simply in the sense of one who argues correctly when he argues at all, but of one who loves to reason. He was a man of understanding ; and his understanding was applied rarely to political or ecclesiastical subjects, chiefly and with peculiar fondness to broad general questions of ethics and natural theology. His leading idea was the Stoic idea of an order of nature, parallel with the lesser world of human beings, or (more accurately) forming one system with it. Perhaps in the Sermons (of which by far the greater number are philosophical) the idea of a Law of nature predominates, and in the Analogy the idea of an Order of nature. But the two ideas pervade the whole of his thought. Virtue is defined by Butler as “ following Nature,” vice as “departing from ” it. Metaphysically, vice is contrary to the nature and reason of things :-this was Dr. Clarke's way of approaching the subject, and Butler will not quarrel with it. But he himself prefers the argument from experience (“vice is a violation of our own nature") as, in the Analogy he prefers the argument from design to Clarke's a priori argument for the existence of God.
“ It is from considering the relations which the several appetites and passions in the inward frame have to each other, and above all the supremacy of reflection or conscience, that we get the idea of the system or constitution of human nature. Our nature (he says) is made for virtue as a watch is made to measure time. Whereas in the brutes there is nothing but appetites and passions ; they have no conscience. Their passions have power; but they have no principle in them possessing authority. Man has such a principle in conscience : “ To preside and govern, from the very economy and constitution of man, belongs to it. Had it strength as it has right, had it power as it has manifest authority, it would absolutely govern the world."
In Butler's writings, the influence of Greek philosophy is very plain and his very notion of an order or system of the passions leads us beyond the Stoics to Aristotle and his “golden mean.” This is no place to estimate the value of his ethical philosophy, and his criticisms of predecessors and contemporaries. But it may be remarked that the influence of the Sermons has been confessedly greater in ethics than the influence of the Analogy in apologetics. No doubt some of the sayings in the latter have become household words (for example : “ Probability is the very guide of life"); but the former will rank higher even in literary merit. The crisp clear sentences are features of the author's style in both ; but when he rises to eloquence it is in the Sermons (as in the often copied sermon on Balaam). He could on occasion deliver what is called a “practical " discourse (as in the “ Charity Sermons "); and his “Charge to the Clergy of Durham” contained plain speaking that brought some obloquy on the speaker. But even on such occasions his thoughts seemed to fall naturally into the form of arguments. He appeals at all times to the reason, and only incidentally to the feelings. There is probably no writer from whose works so little could be pruned away as a mere superfluity of oratory. His very quotations from Scripture are usually of aphorisms; and very characteristic is his fondness for Jesus the Son of Sirach, with whom he has certainly helped to make the English people familiar. Yet there is no one who is more successful in infecting his readers with his own ardour and impressing them with a feeling of his entire sincerity.