« PreviousContinue »
21st. The hairdresser brought me a young Canary-bird as a Present.*
From Dr. Channing.
August 24th, 1838. My dear Sir, I received, a few days ago, your last letter, written with a trembling hand, and whilst I was touched and gratified by this proof of your regard, I could not but regret, that I had subjected you to so exhausting a labour. You must console yourself, by thinking that you did good. I trust I shall be the better for this testimony to your principles, this breathing of your spirit, this expression of calm reliance on God's perpetual inspiration and fatherly love. I hope it is not to be the last testimony. Should Providence renew in any measure your strength, you must give me a few lines, for you have not many friends more interested in you than myself. The conflicts of a mind, seeking, struggling for truth amidst peculiar obstructions, and sacrificing to it, not merely outward good, but friendship, confidence, loveare to me more affecting than all outward warfare. I trust you have received my late letter, written on hearing of your great debility, in which I begged you to forget, or not to think of answering the preceding one. That will show you how little importance I attached to my criticisms on your communication to Mr. Ripley. I sometimes think of vi. siting England, and one of the great pleasures I have promised myself has been that of seeing you; but a higher will disposes of us, and who would reverse it? I thank God
[* This bird was ever after his constant companion. Placed on his table, every morning, in an open cage, Dickey fluttered about him, and broke his solitude with the sight of life and enjoyment. It died in the same hour that he died. We need not add that this fact is mentioned here only as a curious coincidence.]
that He continues to you, amidst your trials, the strength of your faculties. So long as we can think clearly, we can carry on the great work of life—we can turn suffering to a glorious account—we can gather from triumphs over the body a new consciousness of the Divinity of the spirit. I have sometimes thought that my gratitude to God was never more lively than in illness; and how many under this trial have had a new revelation of his presence. May He grant you these consolations. You feel, undoubtedly, as we all do on approaching our end here, as if you might have done more for the great cause to which your life has been devoted. To a friend of his race, who looks round on the amount of guilt and error in the world, how little he seems to have achieved ! But let us thank God, if in any thing we have served our brethren; and may we not say, in the disproportion of our desires to our doings, that we are destined to a higher efficiency,—to a world, where our powers, now so imprisoned, will expand freely and joyfully. But I will not weary with reflections with which you are so familiar. I commend you affectionately to God, the never-failing fountain of light, truth, peace, love, and blessedness. Very truly and respectfully your friend,
W. E. CHANNING.
25th. My misery during the intervening days has been so great, that I do not say to think, but to live, was torment. I feel a little better this morning. How • long the amendment will last it is impossible to tell. I will certainly exert myself as much as a determined Will can enable me, to oppose this horrible disease. It must not be supposed, however, that my distress
appears in the shape of Thought,-whether of doubt, of anticipation of evil, or anything of this kind. If any thought contributes to it, it is that of the probable prolongation of my life: so far indeed am I from suffering in consequence of fear of any kind. I am sure that the Bigots will not believe this assertion, but will insist upon some intimate connection between my physical distress, and what they will call my Unbelief; but I positively tell them, they are completely mistaken.
Wednesday, August 29th. This deep internal weakness prevents all connected exertion of thought. Before I take up the pen, perhaps feeling a certain degree of relief from pain, I think I shall be able to write something worth preserving; but when I come to the point, all mental vigour fails me. It would give me great satisfaction to write the long intended letter to the Unitarians, but I fear I shall never accomplish it. My greatest enemy is this unconquerable drowsiness. It seized me a moment ago, and made the pen run over the paper without direction. Patience!
Saturday, September 1st. I continue under the same mental inactivity. Thoughts leading to useful observations occur to me, but I fall asleep as soon as I attempt to develop them.
But I can read, with moderate attention, even works which demand some exertion of the thinking faculties.
Mr. Thom in the morning. I read to him part of an admirable Extract from Jouffroy in the Miscellany published at Boston by Ripley. The passage made me ashamed of my weakness : I determined to exert myself to the utmost against the dejection of disease.
Monday, September 10th. How can I convey in words the utter misery into which I am sinking deeper every day. Nothing but a firm persuasion that self-destruction would be criminal in me prevents my putting it into execution. But my will is fixed : I am determined not to do wrong. In this horrible distress I still wish to conform to the will of God; but it seems to me impossible to continue much longer in this state, preserving my Reason. I have scarcely any power of self-government against this despondency.
Sept. 30th. Mrs. Lawrence to leave some flowers. Rather better, though the nights are very bad.
- October 16th. In copying my Sonnet on Night and Death for a friend, I have made some corrections. It is now as follows :
Mysterious Night! when our first Parent knew
Thee, from report divine, and heard thy name,
This glorious canopy of Light and Blue ?
Bathed in the rays of the great setting Flame,
And lo! Creation widened in Man's view.
Within thy beams, O Sun! or who could find,
That to such countless Orbs thou mad'st us blind !
Tuesday, Oct. 16th, 1838. In a letter received this morning, Ferdinand White tells me that he expects to be here on Thursday next.
Ferdinand White arrived at 10 A. M.
19th. Talked a great deal without much increase of suffering. The excitement produced by the presence of my son is certainly beneficial.