« PreviousContinue »
piece that ever proceeded from bis pen. It thug concludes:
"Nee ventura dies distat, qua stamine vit«
This elegy was written October 12, 1801, and Dr. Oeddes died February 26, 18O2, in the sixty-fifth year of his age; the rites of his own communion having been regularly administered to him, and received with great consolation on his part, by M. St. Martin, a Catholic clergyman, and confidential friend.
"Forman qnidem ipsam, et tanquam faciem honest! videnqux si oculis cerneretur mirabiles amores (ut ait Plato) cxcitaret sapientix." Tull.
*' You see the very shape and countenance, as it were, of Virtue, which, if it could be made the object of sight, would (as Plato says) excite in us a wonderful love of wisdom."
Every day augments my admiration of Lavater; he 'has not an hour's leisure, and the door of his closet is never shut. Hither throng beggars asking charity,— the afflicted, who seek consolation,—travellers, who though they want neither, at least contribute to occupy his time. Besides, he visits the sick, not only of his own parish, but likewise of many others. This evening, after writing several letters, he took his hat, and requested me to accompany him. "I should like to see where he is going to," thought I, and followed him. We went out of one street into another, and, at length, through the gate of the town. We arrived at a small village, and entered a cottage. “Is Anna yet alive?" demanded Lavater, of an old woman who came to meet us. “She searcely breathes," replied she, with a flood of tears, and opened the door of a chamber, where Ibe. . held, in a bed, an aged and emaciated woman, whose wan and livid countenance bespoke the near approach of death. Two boys and two girls stood round the bed and wept. The moment they saw Lavater, they ran and kissed his hands. He approached the patient, and asked her how she did. “I am dying! I am dying!" she replied, but was unable to say more. Her eyes were fixed on her bosom, which heaved with inward convulsion. Lavater sat down beside her, and began to prepare her for her departure. “Thy hour is come," said he; “thy Saviour awaits thee:—be not afraid of the grave! Not thou, but only thy mortal body, will be deposited in it. In the moment when thy eyes are closed to the light of this life, the glorious morning of an eternal and better life will shine upon thee. Be | thankful to God that thou hast attained a good old age, and hast seen thy children and grand children grow up, matured in honesty and virtue. They will for ever -bless thy memory, and will once more embrace thee with raptures in the mansions of the blessed. There, there, we shall all form but one happy family.” These last words he uttered in a tremulous voice, and wiped his eyes. He then prayed, blessed the dying sinner preparatory to her exit, and took his leave. He kissed the ehildren, told them not to weep, and, at his departure, gave them some money. The dejection of my heart
- very great, and even the pure evening air < scarcely restore me to a free respiration,
"Whence do you derive such strength and patience?" stud I to Lavater, in admiration at his indefatigable activity. "My dear friend-," replied he, smiling, "it is in the power of every one to perform a great deal, if he will; and the more he does, the more ability and inclination he will find for active exertion."
"Believe not,, my friends, that Lavater, who does so much good to the poor, is- himself possessed of great wches. No, on the contrary, his income is very small; but, from the saleof his printed works and manuscripts, be acquires a considerable sum, for the relief of his indigent brethern. I have myself bought two of his manuscripts; one is entitled,. " An Hundred Secret Plysiognomical Rules;" with the motto, -•* Never ridicule misery, or the means of alleviating if-j1' and the other is "A Monument for Travellers" For the latter he would not take the money himself, but ordered me to pay it to a poor Frenchman, who had requested relief of him.
... . . The poet Baggescn will soon be married, match has been brought about in a truly romaatic manner. I wrote to you that Becker had gone with him to Lausanne, from which place* with Count
MoItVe, their countryman, they crossed the Alps to Unterseen, and arrived there extremely fatigued. They hired a boat to cross the lake of Thun; and, at the moment when the waterman was pushing off the boat, a young female and an old man made their appearance; the girl in a white dress, a green hat, and with a stick in her hand, and seemed to be about twenty. Her countenance was pleasing and friendly. She approached, and nimbly jumped into the boat; and, with a friendly bonjour, Messieurs, addressed the travellers, who sat hanging down their heads, like knights of the melancholy figure. They were surprised at this unexpected appearance, and stared, now at the girl, now at eachother, and almost forgot to return the compliment of their charming stranger. However, Becker, who is a. man deserving of credit, assures me they answered her tolerably well, though the Count stammered at the second word, and he and Baggesen were struck quite dumb, By degrees, when they were at a considerable distance from shore, they fell into conversation. The girl told the Danes, that she had been at her uncle's at Unterseen, to visit her good nurse, who was very ill, and that she was now returning to Berne. "How did you leave the patient?" asked the sympathizing travellers, with great eagerness. "God be thanked! she is better," replied the fair stranger. She then enquired the names and residence of her fellow travellers; and, when she learned that the Count was the grandson of the late Danish minister, she began to speak of that venerable man, and the history of his time, in such a manner, that it was evident she was acquainted with the history and relations of the powers of Europe. They landed at
Than. The Count gave her his hand, and accompanied her', together with his fellow-travellers, to the inn/ where they found a room. Here they learned from the hostess, that their charming companion was a granddaughter of the celebrated philosopher and poet Haller, Baggesen leaped for joy, and instantly hastened to her, to recommend himself anew to her favour, and to assure her of the unbounded regard which he entertained for her grandfather. "Ah! you should have known him more intimately," said she, in a tone of the highest sensibility. "Even in his old age, he fascinated great and small by his amiable disposition. I cannot refrain from tears when I recollect with what gaiety and familiarity he played with us small children, in his leisure hours, after the most serious labours for the welfare of mankind. How often did he take me on his knee, kiss me, at the same time calling me his dear Sophia!"
.... The amiable Sophia dried her tears, and Baggesen wept with her. Our travellers forgot their fatigues, and passed tlie whole evening with Sophia Haller. As they intended to set oft" the next morning early for Berne, and Sophia and her uncle were going to make some stay at Thun, they took leave of them.—" Shall it be for ever," said the young Count; and, full of expectation, fixed his eyes on Sophia's; Baggesen's looks, animated by the most lively expression of tenderness, lingered on her lips, and Becker stretched forward his head. She smiled,and, presenting her card to the count, "This," said she, " is the address of my family, who will be very happy to receive such amiable travellers."