« PreviousContinue »
tions may be welcome; it is also true that in a complication of diseases, such as I suffer from, they cannot form a deliberate opinion in regard to the issue, and are naturally averse to anticipate what people call the worst. But in spite of all this, I cannot but perceive that even Mr. Archer, who is naturally sanguine, thinks my case not free from danger. To me it would be the greatest satisfaction, if I had a moral certainty of my approaching End; otherwise every little appearance of improvement alarms me. This is a simple fact. Such appearances affect me as a foaming, retiring wave does the wrecked mariner who is just laying hold of a projecting rock on the shore.
There is another circumstance which casts a gleam of cheerfulness over the impressions of this day. The Moral World presents, upon the whole, a most hideous and distorted appearance. But the experience of my reflecting life has shown me that it happens here, as in some pictures, which, looked at with the naked eye, are a perfect mass of confusion, but which show regularity, and even beauty, the moment you look through a lens, constructed on purpose to unite the scattered lines in a proper focus. My favourite lens is a virtuous man: it brings into harmony the discordant parts of the moral world. And it is seldom, if ever, that seasons of affliction do not bring forward some of these mediators between God and man—these soothers of the afflicted and perplexed Soul. For where do they come from? Who
sends them on these missions of mercy? Can it be any other but that Power against which the sufferer is tempted to repine? Hard indeed and obstinate must have been my heart, if the free and unaffected exhibition of Dr. Sutherland's benevolence and disinterested kindness had not reconciled me to sufferings, without which he probably would have remained to me only a pleasant acquaintance.
Again that excellent man, Mr. Archer, has appeared in all his native worthiness, under circumstances which might have fretted the temper of a less goodnatured and candid man. Nothing can exceed his openness, good temper, and kindness. •
These are some of the pleasures and advantages which, in the midst of gloom and suffering, this, probably my last, 19th of March has brought to me.
P.S. I forgot to mention that Dr. Sutherland brought me a message from a person or persons whom he was not at liberty to mention,* entreating me not to forego, from fear of expense, any thing which I might reasonably wish for. I returned my most cordial thanks, with the assurance that at present I have sufficient for my expenses. God will certainly reward disinterested generosity.
* I have strong reasons to believe that this offer came from Dr, and Mrs. Whately.- Aug. 18, 1839.
To Mrs. —
March 29th, 1838. My dear Mrs. —, I think it is in a great degree worth the while to be in suffering, since it occasions such displays of kindness as I enjoy from you and all yours. At all events, it is a wise and merciful arrangement of Providence, that the wants and afflictions of some individuals are thus relieved by the sympathy of the good and friendly. Many, many thanks for the tea, which is like a bouquet of violets.
You can hardly think what satisfaction it gives me to be present to your mind and that of your husband, when otherwise you might be tempted to break the spell which is to secure your knowledge of German. Such an influence is to me the highest reward of true friendship.
Yours ever affectionately,
J. BLANCO WHITE. P.S. You may be sure that I shall always be glad to see you : I only fear that when I am in such pain as makes me unable to suppress groaning, it may be too painful for you to be present.
April 3rd. A wretched morning. Mr. —- called, and, declaring that I looked very well, made me talk an hour and a half, giving me to understand that much of my illness arose from the Imagination.
April 9th. A day happy to me in the open declaration I have heard, that the people who come near me are convinced I cannot recover. Mr. -- proposed my removing to his house. I answered that I would do 80, when I had a strong probability of not giving trouble for a long time.
ome near me a
22, Upper Stanhope-street,
April 11th, 1838. My dear Friend, At the Height of the Distress which I have lately suffered, something whispered that it was impossible I should be left to make a Wreck of my Intellect in that Storm: and now I see (can I be mistaken ?) that in the wise Order of Events, the greatest and most seasonable Blessings have been connected with the close of my painful Life. I thought the World did not contain a Nook where I might tranquilly wait for my Dissolution, supported by the Love of those whom no human Being can exceed, both in kindness, and in that most important Self-Denial, and willingness to submit to disturbing little Troubles, without which kindness is but a barren Sentiment. And yet I can hardly think it true that you wish to give me up a part of your House, where I may see the Face of true Friends, somewhat in an habitual way, and be spared the horrible feeling of coming Solitude, the moment you close the Door after one of your frequent calls,-calls, indeed, which cost you a great deal of Trouble, and which, nevertheless, must leave the essential, incurable Evil of my Forlornness almost untouched.
Well then, not to be prosy.—Dr. Sutherland called soon after I saw you, in the afternoon of yesterday. I mentioned our conversation, and earnestly requested that when he saw the End approaching, he might plainly tell me, in order that I might be removed to your House. But you know his manner: he would have me go without Delay. “You have (these are nearly his words) a mortal Disease which, at your Age and in your circumstances, must sooner or later end fatally.” This Declaration did me more goud than I can express ; yet the Pleasure was considerably damped by his adding, that I might have considerable temporary improvements of Health. I did not press for a more explicit Declaration, but it appears to me plain that the circumstances of the case do not admit any probable Chance of my getting through next winter, should I live to encounter the first Season of Frosts and Catarrhs. This is a Point of great importance in regard to my Resolution. As to the Details of the execution, we might easily talk them over. To my Imagination and Heart it holds out so many collateral Attractions, that I require all my severe Philosophy to keep the alluring Fire-flies of that treacherous Faculty from settling in swarms even in the consecrated portions of the Mind.*
How, how can I requite your Friendship, my dear Friends?
To the Rev. J. H. Thom.
22, Upper Stanhope-street,
April 21st, 1838. My very dear Friend, I have so long and so earnestly set my Heart upon seeing you in actual possession of my little Collection of Books, (for Library is too ambitious a Name in this case,) that, whenever, as it now and then happens, I have any reason to conceive that certain Symptoms indicate a sufficiently destructive character to put an end to this most harrassing and lingering state of hopeless suffering, the first thing that occurs to me is the wish to see my Books in
[* The fear of being a source of constant anxiety to his friends took strong possession of him the very day this Letter was written, and withstood all persuasions.]