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six contiguous windows ; two of which, though large, were
glazed each with a single sheet of the finest plate-glass,
nicely protected by several curtains of delicate fabric and of
a light-blue color, one or more of which could be drawn up


over each window to temper the light while the whole light
that was admitted through any one opening could be ex-
cluded by solid wooden shutters. At first, though much
light was commonly used, these appliances for diminishing
it were all more or less required. But, gradually, one after
another of them was given up, and, at last, I observed that
none was found important He needed and used all the
light he could get.

The change was a sad one, and he did not like to allude
to it. But during the last year of his life, after the first
slight access of paralysis, which much disturbed the organ
for a time, and rendered its action very irregular, he spoke
plainly to me. He said he must soon cease to use his eye
for any purpose of study, but fondly trusted that he should
always be able to recognize the features of his friends, and
should never become a burden to those he loved by needing
to be led about. His hopes were, indeed, fulfilled, but not
without the sorrow of all. The day before his sudden
death he walked the streets as freely as he had done for

Still, whatever may have been the condition of his eye at
any period, from the fierce attack of 1815 to the very end
of his life, it was always a paramount subject of anxiety
with him. He never ceased to think of it, and to regulate
the hours, and almost the minutes, of his daily life by it.
Even in its best estate he felt that it must be spared ; in its
worst, he was anxious to save something by care and absti-
nence. He said, " he reckoned time by eyesight, as dis-
tances on railroads are reckoned by hours."

One thing hi this connection may be noted as remarkable.
He knew that, if he would give up literary labor altogether,
his eye would be better at once, and would last longer.
His physicians all told him so, and their opinion was ren-
dered certain by his own experience ; for whenever he ceased
to work for some time, as during a visit to New York i


1842 and a visit to Europe in 1850, in short, whenever
he took a journey or indulged himself in holidays of such a
sort as prevented him from looking into books at all or
thinking much about them, his general health immediately
became more vigorous than might have been expected from
a relief so transient, and his sight was always improved ;
sometimes materially improved. But he would not pay the
price. He perferred to submit, if it should be inevitable, to
the penalty of ultimate blindness, rather than give up his
literary pursuits.

He never liked to work more than three hours consecu-
tively. At one o'clock, therefore, he took a walk of about
two miles, and attended to any little business abroad that
was incumbent on him, coming home generally refreshed
and exhilarated, and ready to lounge a little and gossip.
Dinner followed, for the greater part of his life about three
o'clock, although, during a few years, he dined in winter at
five or six, which he preferred, and which he gave up only
because his health demanded the change. In the summer
he always dined e?rly, so as to have the late afternoon for
driving and exercise during our hot season.

He enjoyed the pleasures of the table, and even its luxu-
ries, more than most men. But he restricted himself care-
fully in the use of them, adjusting everything with reference
to its effect on the power of using his eye immediately after-
wards, and especially on his power of using it the next day.
Occasional indulgence when dining out or with friends at
home he found useful, or at least not injurious, and was en-
couraged'in it bj his medical counsel. But he dined abroad,
as he did everything of the sort, at regulated intervals, and
not only determined beforehand in what he should deviate
from his settled habits, but often made a record of the result
for his future government.

The most embarrassing question, however, as to diet, re-
garded the use of wine, which, if at first it sometimes seemed


to be followed by bad consequences, was yet, on the whole,
found useful, and was prescribed to him. To make every-
thing certain, and settle the precise point to which he should
go, he instituted a series of experiments, and between March,
1818, and November, 1820, a period of two years and
nine months, he recorded the exact quantity of wine that
he took every day, except the few days when he entirely
abstained. It was Sherry or Madeira. In the great ma-
jority of cases four fifths, I should think it ranged from
one to two glasses, but went up sometimes to four or five,
and even to six. He settled at last, upon two or two and
a half as the quantity best suited to his case, and persevered
in this as his daily habit, until the last year of his life, dur-
ing which a peculiar regimen was imposed upon him from
the peculiar circumstances of his health. In all this I wish
to be understood that he was rigorous with himself, much
more so than persons thought who saw him only when he
was dining with friends, and when, but equally upon system
and principle, he was much more free.

He generally smoked a single weak cigar after dinner,
and listened at the same time to light reading from Mrs.
Prescott. A walk of two miles more or less followed ;
but always enough, after the habit of riding was given up, to
make the full amount of six miles' walking for the day's
exercise, and then, between five and eight, he took a cup of
tea, and had his reader with him for work two hours more.

The labors of the day were now definitively ended. He
came down from his study to his library, and either sat
there or walked about while Mrs. Prescott read to him
from some amusing book, generally a novel, and, above all
other novels, those of Scott and Miss Edgeworth. In all
this he took great solace. He enjoyed the room as well as
the reading, and, as he moved about, would often stop be-
fore the books, especially his favorite books, and be
sure that they were all in their proper places, drawn up ex-


actlj to the front of their respective shelves, like soldiers
on a dress-parade, sometimes speaking of them, and
almost to them, as if they were personal friends.

At half past ten, having first taken nearly another glass
of wine, he went to bed, fell asleep quickly, and slept soundly
and well. Suppers he early gave up, although they were a
form of social intercourse much liked in his father's house,
and common thirty or forty years ago in the circle to which
he belonged. Besides all other reasons against them, he
found that the lights commonly on the table shot their hori-
zontal rays so as to injure his suffering organ. Larger even-
ing parties, which were not so liable to this objection, he
liked rather for their social influences than for the pleasure
they gave him ; but he was seen in them to the last, though
rarely and only for a short time in each. Earlier in life,
when he enjoyed them more and stayed later, he would,
in the coldest winter nights, after going home, run up and
down on a plank walk, so arranged in the garden of the
Bedford-Street house that he could do it with his eyes shut,
for twenty minutes or more, in order that his system might
be refreshed, and his sight invigorated, for the next morn-
ing's work.* Later, unhappily, this was not needful. His
eye had lost the sensibility that gave its value to such a

In his exercise, at all its assigned hours, he was faithful
and exact. If a violent storm prevented him from going
out, or if the bright snow on sunny days in winter rendered
it dangerous for him to expose his eye to its brilliant reflec-

* Some persons may think this to have been a fancy of my
friend, or an over-nice estimate of the value of the open air. But
others have found the same benefit who needed it less. Sir Charles
Bell says, in his journal, that' he used to sit in the open air a great
deal, and read or draw, because on the following day he found himself
so much better able to work. Some of the best passages in his great
treatises were, he says, written under these circumstances.


tion, he would dress himself as for the street and walk vig-
orously about the colder parts of the house, or he would
saw and chop fire-wood, under cover, being, in the latter
case, read to all the while.

The result he sought, and generally obtained, by these
efforts was not, however, always to be had without suffering.
The first mile or two of his walk often cost him pain
sometimes sharp pain in consequence of the rheumatism,
which seldom deserted his limbs ; but he never on this
account gave it up; for regular exercise in the open air
was, as he well knew, indispensable to the preservation of
whatever remained of his decaying sight. He persevered,
therefore, through the last two suffering years of his life,
when it was peculiarly irksome and difficult for him to
move ; and even in the days immediately preceding his first
attack of paralysis, when he was very feeble, he was out
at his usual hours. His will, in truth, was always stronger
than the bodily ills that beset him, and prevailed over them
to the last*

* On one occasion, when he was employed upon a work that
interested him because it related to a friend, he was attacked with
pains that made a sitting posture impossible.* But he would not
yield. He took his noctograph to a sofa, and lAielt before it so as to
be able to continue his work. This resource, however, failed, and
then he laid himself down flat upon the floor. This extrarordinary
operation went on during portions of nine successive days.



THIS most gentle lady reached such favor among the
people, that when she passed along the way persons
ran to see her, which gave me wonderful delight. And
when she was near any one, such modesty took possession
of his heart, that he did not dare to raise his eyes or to re-
turn her salutation ; and to this, should any one doubt it,
many, as having experienced it, could bear witness for me.
She, crowned and clothed with humility, took her way, dis-
playing no pride in that which she saw and heard. Many,
when she had passed, said, " This is not a woman ; rather is
she one of the most beautiful angels of heaven." Others
said, " She is a miracle. Blessed be the Lord who can per-
form such a marvel ! " I say that she showed herself so
gentle and so full of all beauties, that those who looked on
her felt within themselves a pure and sweet delight such as
they could not tell in words ; nor was there any who could
look at her and not feel need at first to sigh. These and
more wonderful things proceeded from her, marvellously and
with power. Wherefore I, thinking on all this-, proposed
to say some words, in which I would exhibit her mar-
vellous and excellent influences, to the end that not only
those who might actually behold her, but also others, might
know of her whatever words could tell. Then I wrote this
sonnet :


So gentle and so modest doth appear
My lady when she giveth her salute,
That every tongue becometh trembling mute,
Nor do the eyes to look upon her dare

And though she hears her praises, she doth go
Benignly clothed with humility,
And like a thing come down she seems to be
From heaven to earth, a miracle to show.

So pleaseth she whoever cometh nigh,

She gives the heart a sweetness through the eyes,
Which none can understand who doth not prove.

And from her lip there seems indeed to move
A spirit sweet and in Love's very guise,
Which goeth saying to the soul, "Ah, sigh ! "




Love built a stately house; where Fortune came,
And spinning fancies, she was heard to say

That her fine cobwebs did support the frame;

Whereas they were supported by the same. '
But Wisdom quickly swept them all away.


MRS. DOVE was the only child of a clergyman who
held a small vicarage in the West Riding. Leonard
Bacon, her father, had been left an orphan in early youth.
He had some wealthy relations by whose contributions he
was placed at an endowed grammar-school in the country,
and having through their influence gained a scholarship, to
which his own deserts might have entitled him, they con-
tinued to assist . him sparingly enough indeed at the
University, till he succeeded to a fellowship. Leonard was
made cf Nature's finest clay, and Nature had tempered it
with the choicest dews of heaven.

He had a female cousin about three years younger than
himself, and in like manner an orphan, equally destitute, but

* Southey always intended to complete this story, but he did not live
to fulfil his purpose. It is here brought together for the first time in
America, from the pages of that admirable work which has now taken
its place as an English classic, " The Doctor."


far more forlorn. Man hath a fleece about him which en-
ables him to bear the bufferings of the storm ; but woman
when young, and lovely, and poor, is as a shorn lamb for
which the wind has not been tempered.

Leonard's father and Margaret's had been bosom friends.
They were subalterns in the same regiment, and, being for a
long time stationed at Salisbury, had become intimate at the
house of Mr. Trewbody, a gentleman of one of the oldest
families in Wiltshire. Mr. Trewbody had three daughters.
Melicent, the eldest, was a celebrated beauty, and the knowl-
edge of this had not tended to improve a detestable temper.
The two youngest, Deborah and Margaret, were lively, good-
natured, thoughtless, and attractive. They danced with the
two lieutenants, played to them on the spinnet, sung with
them and laughed with them, till this mirthful intercourse
became serious, and, knowing that it would be impossible to
obtain their father's consent, they married the men of their
hearts without it. Palmer and Bacon were both without
fortune, and without any other means of subsistence than
their commissions. For four years they were as happy as
love could make them ; at the end of that time Palmer was
seized with*an infectious fever. Deborah was then far ad-
vanced in pregnancy, and no solicitations could induce Bacon
to keep from his friend's bedside. The disease proved fatal ;
it communicated to Bacon and his wife; the former only
survived his friend ten days, and he and Deborah were then
laid in the same grave. They left an only boy of three
years old, and in less than a month the widow Palmer was
delivered of a daughter.

In the first impulse of anger at the flight of his daughters,
and the degradation of his family, (for Bacon was the son
of a tradesman, and Palmer was nobody knew who,) Mr.
Trewbody had made his will, and left the whole sum, which
he had designed for his three daughters, to the eldest
Whether the situation of Margaret and the two orphans


might have touched him, is perhaps doubtful, for the fam-
ily were either light-hearted or hard-hearted, and his heart
was of the hard sort; but he died suddenly a few months
before his sons-in-law. The only son, Trewman Trewbody,
Esq., a Wiltshire fox-hunter, like his father, succeeded to
the estate ; and as he and his eldest sister hated each other
cordially, Miss Melicent left the manor-house, and estab-
lished herself in the Close at Salisbury, where she lived in
that style which a portion of 6,000 enabled her in those
days to support.

The circumstance which might appear so greatly to have
aggravated Mrs. Palmer's distress, if such distress be capable
of aggravation, prevented her perhaps from eventually sink-
ing under it. If the birth of her child was no alleviation
of her sorrow, it brought with it new feelings, new duties,
new cause for exertion, and new strength for it. She wrote
to Melicent and to her brother, simply stating her own
destitute situation, and that of the orphan Leonard ; she be-
lieved that their pride would not suffer them either to let
her starve or go to the parish for support, and in this she
was not disappointed. An answer was returned by Miss
Trewbody, informing her that she had nobody to thank but
herself for her misfortunes ; but that, notwithstanding the
disgrace which she had brought upon the family, she might
expect an annual allowance of ten pounds from the writer,
and a like sum from her brother ; upon this she must retire
into some obscure part of the country, and pray God to for-
give her for the offence she had committed, in marrying
beneath her birth, and against her father's consent.

Mrs. Palmer had also written to the friends of lieutenant
Bacon, her own husband had none who could assist her.
She expressed her willingness and her anxiety to have the
care of her sister's orphan, but represented her forlorn state.
They behaved more liberally than her own kin had done,
and promised five pounds a year as long as the boy should


require it. With this and her pension she took a cottage in
a retired village. Grief had acted upon her heart like the
rod of Moses upon the rock in the desert ; it had opened
it, and the well-spring of piety had gushed forth. Affliction
made -her religious, and religion brought with it consolation,
and comfort, and joy. Leonard became as dear to her S
Margaret. The sense of duty educed a pleasure from every
privation to which she subjected herself for the sake of
economy; and, in endeavoring to fulfil her duties in that
state of life to which it had pleased God to call her, she
was happier than she had ever been in her father's house,
and not less so than in her marriage state. Her happiness
indeed was different in kind, but it was higher in degree.
For the sake of these dear children she was contented to
live, and eyen prayed for life ; while, if it had respected
herself only, death had become to her rather an object of
desire than of dread. In this manner she lived seven years
after the loss of her husband, .and was then carried off by an
acute disease, to the irreparable loss of the orphans, who
were thus orphaned indeed.



Beauty ! my Lord, 't is the worst part of woman !
A weak, poor thing, assaulted every hour
By creeping minutes of defacing time;
A superficies which each breath of care
Blasts off; and every humorous stream of grief,
Which flows from forth these fountains of our eyes,
Washeth away, as rain doth winters snow.


Miss TREWBODY behaved with perfect propriety upon
the new* of her sister's death. She closed her front win-


dows for two days ; received no visitors for a week ; was
much indisposed, but resigned to the will of Providence, in
reply to messages of condolence ; put her servants in mourn-
ing, and sent for Margaret, that she might do her duty to
her sister's child by breeding her up under her own eye.
Poor Margaret was transferred from the stone floor of her
mother's cottage to the Turkey carpet of her aunt's parlor.
She was too young to comprehend at once the whole evil of
the exchange ; but she learned to feel and understand if.
during years of bitter dependence, unalleviated by any hope,
except that of one day seeing Leonard, the only creature on
earth whom she remembered with affection.

Seven years elapsed, and during all those years Leonard
was left to pass his holidays, summer and winter, at the
grammar-school where he had been placed at Mrs. Palmer's
death : for although the master regularly transmitted with
his half-yearly bill the most favorable accounts of his dis-
position and general conduct, as well as of his progress in
learning, no wish to see the boy had ever arisen in the
hearts of his nearest relations ; and no feeling of kindness,
or sense of decent humanity, had ever induced either the
fox-hunter Trewman, or Melicent his sister, to invite him
for Midsummer or Christmas. At length in the seventh
year a letter announced that his school-education had been

completed, and that he was elected to a scholarship at

College, Oxford, which scholarship would entitle him to a
fellowship in due course of time : in the intervening years
some little assistance from his liberal benefactors would be
required ; and the liberality of those kind friends would be
well bestowed upon a youth who bade so fair to do honor
to himself, and to reflect no disgrace upon his honorable con-
nections. The head of the family promised his part, with
an ungracious expression of satisfaction at thinking that,
" thank God, there would soon be an end of these demands
upon him." Miss Trewbody signified her assent in the


same amiable and religious spirit. However much her
sister had disgraced her family, she replied, " Please God,
it should never be said that she refused to do her duty."

The whole sum which these wealthy relations contributed
was not very heavy, an annual ten pounds each ; but
they contrived to make their nephew feel the weight of
every separate portion. The Squire's half came always
with a brief note, desiring that the receipt of the enclosed
sum might be acknowledged without delay, not a word j{
kindness or courtesy accompanied it: and Miss Trewbody
never failed to administer with her remittance a few edify-
ing remarks upon the folly of his mother in marrying
beneath herself; and the improper conduct of his father in
connecting himself with a woman of family, against the
consent of her relations ; the consequence of which was,
that he had left a child dependent upon those relations for
support. Leonard received these pleasant preparations of
charity only at distant intervals, when he regularly expected
them, with his half-yearly allowance. But Margaret mean-
time was dieted upon the food of bitterness, without one
circumstance to relieve the misery of her situation.

At the time of which I am now speaking, Miss Trewbody
was a maiden lady of forty-seven, in the highest state of
preservation. The whole business of her life had been to
take care of a fine person, and in this she had succeeded
admirably. Her library consisted of two books : " Nelson's
Festivals and Fasts " was one, the other was " The Queen's
Cabinet Unlocked"; and there was not a cosmetic in the
latter which she had not faithfully prepared. Thus by
means, as she believed, of distilled waters of various kinds,
May-dew and buttermilk, hec skin retained its beautiful
texture still, and much of its smoothness ; and she knew at
times how to give it the appearance of that brilliancy which
it had lost. But that was a profound secret. Miss Trew-
body, remembering the example of Jezebel, always felt


conscious that she was committing a sin when she took the
rouge-box in her hand, and generally ejaculated m a low
voice, the Lord forgive me ! when she laid it down : but,
looking in the glass at the same time, she indulged a hope
that the nature of the temptation might be considered as
an excuse for the transgression. Her other great business
was to observe with the utmost precision all the punctilios
of her situation in life ; and the time which was not devoted
to one or other of these worthy occupations, was employed
in scolding her servants, and tormenting her niece. This
employment, for it was so habitual that it deserved that
name, agreed excellently with her constitution. She was
troubled with no acrid humors, no fits of bile, no diseases
of the spleen, no vapors or hysterics. The morbid matter
was all collected in her temper, and found a regular vent at
her tongue. This kept the lungs in vigorous health ; nay,
it even seemed to supply the place of wholesome exercise,
and to stimulate the system like a perpetual blister, with
this peculiar advantage, that instead of an inconvenience it
ttas a pleasure to herself, and all the annoyance was to her

Miss Trewbody lies buried in the Cathedral at Salisbury,
where a monument was erected to her memory worthy of
remembrance itself for its appropriate inscription and ac-
companiments. The epitaph recorded her as a woman
eminently pious, virtuous, and charitable, who lived univer-
sally respected, and died sincerely lamented, by all who had

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 55 of 66)