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for us they languish, and for us they die : and shall they languish, shall they die, in vain ?
YOUNG, Night Thoughts, Night 3. ... When our friends we lose, our alter'd feelings alter too our views; what in their tempers teas'd us or distress'd, is, with our anger and the dead, at rest; and much we grieve, no longer trial made, for that impatience which we then display'd. Now to their love and worth of every kind a soft compunction turns th' afflicted mind; virtues neglected then, ador'd become, and graces slighted, blossom on the tomb.
'Tis well; but let not love nor grief believe that we assent (who neither lov'd nor grieve,) to all that praise which on the tomb is read, to all that passion dictates for the dead; but more indignant, we the tomb deride, whose bold inscription Flattery sells to Pride.
Yet, here will Love its last attentions pay, and place memorials on these beds of clay. Large level stones lie flat upon the grave, and half a century's sun and tempest brave; but many an honest tear and heart-felt sigh have follow'd those who now unnotic'd lie. Of these what numbers rest on every side ! without one token left by grief or pride; their graves soon levell’d to the earth, and then will other hillocks rise o'er other men: daily the dead on the decay'd are thrust, and generations follow, "dust to dust.”—
CRABBE, The Borough, Letter xi.
Loss of Friends, and Relations.
What grave prescribes the best?- A friend's;
and yet, from a friend's grave how soon we disengage ! Ev'n to the dearest, as his marble, cold. Why are friends ravish'd from us? 'Tis to bind, by soft Affection's ties, on human hearts, the thought of Death, which Reason, too supine, or misemploy’d, so rarely fastens there. Nor Reason, nor Affection, no, nor both combin'd, can break the witchcrafts of the world. Behold th' inexorable hour at hand! Behold th' inexorable hour forgot! and, to forget it, the chief aim of life, though will to ponder it is life's chief end.
YOUNG, Night Thoughts, Night 5. Nôtre vie ressemble à une partie d'échecs, pendant laquelle châcun tient son rang selon la qualité, et après laquelle les Roys, les Reines, les Chevaliers, les Foux, et les pions sont tous mis sans distinction dans un même sac. -- BORDELON, La Belle Education, Pt. 3. L.
Though you may look to your understanding for amusement, it is to the affections that we must trust for happiness. These imply a spirit of self-sacrifice; and often our virtues, like our children, are endeared to us by what we suffer for them. – R. SHARP, Letters and Essays, p. 71.
An other misery there is in affection, — that whom we truly love like our own selves, we forget their looks, nor can our memory retain the idea of their faces; and it is no wonder, for
they are ourselves, and our affection makes their looks our own. — SIR T. BROWNE, Religio Medici, Part 2, vi.
Time necessarily contracts all family circles : and of course the wider the circle is in early life, the oftener have we to meet the shock of contraction; but as we all know how uncertain is the period of our existence in this world, there is consolation in the remembrance of the many years we have been permitted to enjoy the society of those who are not taken from us till late in life, when its ordinary term is nearly completed.-R. C. H., - Letter, May 1882.
I am learning my lesson by, degrees, — "to live alone”: but there is a tiny hand that rests on my face in my dreams, –a soft voice that had just learned to say “Mother," that I hear so plainly then, and yet wake to find all gone: then the lesson is hard, oh! so hard to learn. Letter from a Lady, 1854.
I have now broken ground in yonder Churchyard; and to a man who has no other freehold, even a family grave is something like a tie. SOUTHEY, Letter, after burying his first child ; Quarterly Review, vol. 98, p. 495.
You may talk of the Church of your Baptism; of the place where you plighted the Marriage vow : but depend on it, the Church a man has a real feeling for, is that where he has seen committed to the dust the remains of his own family, and where he looks forward for a place himself. — R. DRUITT, M.D., Conversations on the Church Service, 1853. Conv. xii.
After frequent relapses I prepared to perform the last duties of a man, a Christian, and a Father. In the gloomy precincts of the Lazaretto I saw the narrow cell hollowed out, which henceforth was to hold all I cared for on earth. Then, kissing for the last time those faded eyes which never more were to beam upon me, and those livid lips which no longer felt the pressure of mine, I suffered the dreary winding-sheet of death to shroud from my further view my angel's altered features; and carried him weeping to his last home. But when the morning came, - after the Priest had concluded his office,- to lower into the final jaws of the grave, and to resign to corruption that lovely body,- that last relic of my short-lived felicity, - I scarce felt courage for the dismal task : I clung to what I was going to lose, until fresh violence became necessary; and when over the idol of my boastful heart I again beheld the ground made like all other ground: “Now come,” cried I, “whenever it list, my final hour! I shall hail it as the healer of sorrows; as the friend who springs forward to receive suffering man, when all other friends depart." — T. HOPE, Anastasius, chap. xv.
The loss which you have lately suffered, I felt many years ago, and know therefore how much has been taken from you, and how little help can be had from consolation. He that outlives a Wife whom he has long loved, sees himself disjoined from the only mind that has the same hopes, and fears, and interest; from the only companion with whom he has shared much good or evil; and with whom he could set his mind at liberty, to retrace the past or anticipate the future. The continuity of being is lacerated; the settled course of sentiment and action is stopped ; and life stands suspended and motionless, till it is driven by external causes into a new channel. But the time of suspense is dreadful.
Our first recourse in this distressed solitude, is, perhaps for want of habitual piety, to a gloomy acquiescence in necessity. Of two mortal beings, one must lose the other ; but surely there is a higher and better comfort to be drawn from the consideration of that Providence which watches over all, and a belief that the living and the dead are equally in the hands of God, who will reunite those whom he has separated, or who sees that it is best not to reunite.— JOHNSON, Letter, Boswell, 20 Jan. 1780.
Under such afflictions we can only bow with resignation, in humble trust that, however great the trial, it is sent for some good purpose. Separation in this world from those who are near and dear to us is the lot of all; but though the parting is known to be inevitable, it is not on that account less grievous. Relief from the distress which attends us in all our bereavements must be sought