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providence ; having a thankful heart for the years I have been so perfectly contented in. The passages that follow, in the same letter, are rendered deeply affecting when we think of the events that really befell this pair. • He knows best when we have had enough here; what I most earnestly beg from his mercy is that, we both live so; as, whichever goes first, the other may not sorrow as for one of whom they have no hope. Then let us cheerfully expect to be together to a good old age; if not, let us not doubt but he will support us under what trial he will inflict. These are necessary meditations sometimes, that we may not be surprised above our strength by a sudden accident, being unprepared.' This is indeed the training of heart and mind that makes adversity light.
Lady Russell's letters are the only account we have of the course of her wedded life. After the birth of her children, two daughters, and subsequently a son, her correspondence receives, if possible, a shade of deeper interest. Having the prospect of an early meeting with her lord, she says, in a letter of 1675: ‘I write this to my dear husband, because I love to be busied either in speaking of him or to him ; but the pretence I take is, lest that I wrote yesterday should miscarry. It is an inexpressible joy to consider, I shall see the person I most and only long to be with before another week is past; I should condemn my sense of this expected happiness as weak and pitiful, if I could tell it you. No, my best life, I can say little, but think all you can, and you cannot think too much ; my heart makes it all good.' In another she says: 'Your girls are very well. Miss Rachael (the eldest) has prattled a long story. She says, papa has sent for her to Wobee (Woburn, seat of Lord Bedford), and then she gallops, and says she has been there, and a great deal more.'
A devoted wife in every respect, Lady Russell watched her husband's public career with the attentive eyes of affection. One letter will exhibit this strongly. A motion to inquire into the state of the nation was projected in
the Commons, and the court resisted the attempt with anger and alarm. Lady Russell learned that her husband was to be the mover, and in great anxiety wrote a warning note: • My sister being here, tells me she overheard you tell her lord last night that you would take notice of the business—you know what I meanin the House : this alarms me, and I do earnestly beg of you to tell me truly, if you have or mean to do it. If you do, I am most assure
you will repent it. I beg once more to know the truth. It is more pain to be in doubt (to me), and to your sister too; and if I have any interest, I use it to beg your silence in this case, at least to-day.' The prudent wife was right. The motion weighed heavily against her husband at a later day; but he saw his duty, and performed it.
Within a few years after the date of these letters, and fourteen years after his marriage, Lord Russell was examined, and committed to the Tower, on a charge of treasonable conspiracy. It is not our business to investigate into this matter, further than as it illustrates the character of Lady Rachael. Her husband's own saying, long before this event, that arbitrary government could not be set up in England without wading through his blood, may explain the feelings with which his lady viewed the proceedings of his enemies. From the hour of his imprisoninent, Lord Russell regarded himself as a doomed man. Whatever were the forebodings of his wife, she did not allow herself to sink into the inactivity of despair. Every moment between the imprisonment and trial, was spent by Lady Rachael in anxious yet clear-sighted preparations for his defence. The following note is the best evidence of her employment at this moment; it was written immediately before the trial :
—Your friends, believing I can do you some service at your trial, I am extreme willing to try; my resolution will hold out-pray let yours. But it may be the court will not let me; however, do you let me try. I think, however, to meet you at Richardson's, and then resolve ; your brother Ned will be with me, and sister Marget.'
And at the trial, to the everlasting honour of her sex, the virtuous lady did appear. When her husband, aware of his impending fate, yet willing to use every honourable means to avert it, asked his judges if he might be allowed the services of some one to take notes for the aid of his memory, the reply was: 'Any of your servants shall assist you in writing anything you please.' • My wife is here, my lord, to do it,' said the accused. A thrill of anguish ran through the whole assembly when the nobleminded wife rose, and took her place by her husband's side. The hard-hearted officials themselves were affected, and those who had met, at the bidding of a base court, to do an innocent man to death, felt a pang of remorse. The moment is one of the proudest in the records of woman!
What were the feelings of the wife on hearing the fatal sentence of death pronounced against the cherished of her soul, we have no means of knowing. Certain it is, that for his sake-that his composure might not be unbent—she departed with him from the scene of doom without outward violence of grief. Yet hope did not wholly forsake her, her exertions to obtain a remission of the sentence were indefatigable. Wherever a glimmer of hope shone, that way she tried. She knelt at the feet of the king, and pled for mercy : it was refused to her. When she became convinced that her beloved husband must die, Lady Rachael then sought her lord's presence in his prison, that she might be with him, see and hear him, while he was yet on earth. Bishop Burnet, who attended Lord Russell in his last hours, gives this affecting narration : The day before his death he received the sacrament with much devotion, and I preached two short sermons to him, which he heard with great affection, and we were shut up until towards evening. Then Lady Russell brought him his little children, that he might take leave of them, in which he maintained his firmness, though he was a fond father. Some few of his friends likewise came to bid him farewell. He spoke to his children in a way suited to their age,
and with great cheerfulness, and took leave of his friends in so calm a manner as surprised them all. Lady Russell returned alone in the evening. At eleven o'clock she left him ; he kissed her four or five times, and she kept her sorrow so within herself, that she gave him no disturbance at parting. As soon as she was gone, he said to me: “Now the bitterness of death is past," for he loved and esteemed her beyond expression, as she well deserved it in all respects.' The concluding scene of this memorable man's career was ennobled by the calm dignity of conscious innocence.
Notwithstanding the strength of Lady Russell's mind, it had nearly sunk under the severity of her affliction. Her letters for some time after her husband's death, exhibit her struggling to bend her thoughts to resignation to the will of Heaven. “You that knew us both, says she to her friend Dr Fitzwilliam, and how we lived, must allow that I have just cause to bewail my loss. I know it is common with others to lose a friend; but to have lived with such a one, it may be questioned how few can glory in the like happiness, so, consequently, lament the like loss. Who can but shrink from such a blow ?.... Lord, let me understand the reason of these dark and wounding providences, that I sink not under the discouragement of my own thoughts! I know I have deserved my punishment, and will be silent under it: yet secretly my heart mourns, too sadly, I fear, and cannot be comforted, because I have not the dear companion and sharer of all my joys and sorrows. I want him to talk with, to walk with, to eat and sleep with. All these things are irksome to me. Her mental struggles in time found a balm in the nurture and education of her children, to whom she now devoted her whole cares. And amply did they repay her attention. Three days, however, in each year, Lady Russell always held as days of solemnity--the day of her marriage, of her lord's trial, and of his death.
Her daughters, on reaching womanhood, were sought in marriage by the noblest and proudest families in the
kingdom. The eldest inarried the heir of the Cavendish family, and in time became Duchess of Devonshire. In like manner, by marrying the eldest son, the second daughter became ultimately Duchess of Rutland. By these families, and many other connections, Lady Russell, during the forty years which were allotted to her on earth after her husband's execution, was looked up to as a counsellor and guide ; not only in those matters which woman can best regulate, but on every occasion of worldly difficulty or distress. Many, many letters, written during her protracted widowhood, have been preserved, all of which breathe the same spirit of kindliness and prudence that pervades her earlier correspondence.
Her son, the hope of the family, succeeded, on arriving at manhood, to the Dukedom of Bedford ; and by his marriage with the daughter and heiress of John Howland, Esq. of Streatham, became the father of several children. He was a young nobleman of great promise, but unfortunately fell a victim to small-pox at the age of thirty-one. How deeply this event afflicted Lady Russell, appears partly from her letters ; and the blow was followed op in the following year (1712) by the death of the Duchess of Rutland. Lady Rachael watched over her son's deatlie bed, and pointed his last thoughts to Heaven. Some time after Lady Rutland's death, a circumstance occurred, which shews how deeply all who knew Lord Russell's widow respected her. The Duke of Rutland resolved upon a second marriage, but felt great uneasiness in communicating his intentions to his late wife's mother. A friend undertook to explain his purpose, and accordingly did so.
Lady Russell, with that indulgence for the feelings of others which formed so prominent a part of her character, so conducted herself on meeting the duke, that his wishes seemed to be but the same with her
At this time she had arrived at that age when the strength of the mind is often gone, and feeble peevishness substituted in its stead.
At the age of eighty-six, Lady Russell was seized with an illness, which proved fatal on the 29th of September