Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

ciety, and the active part which he took in its formation, seem to render proper an insertion in this place of the steps which led to it. It was one of the most ardent desires of his heart, which, when accomplished, he thankfully and devoutly said, 6. Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine.” He lived, however, not only to witness its active and successful operations, but to see nearly the whole sum expended which he had been so instrumental in raising. Having been appointed one of the members of the committee, he gave an almost constant attendance there; expressing his wish, when, from increasing infirmities, he withdrew from other scenes of active employment, to continue to the last at this post. The fifth annual meeting of the society took place a few weeks before his decease, when he was confined to his room by illness, and in almost daily expectation of a summons from his Lord; and, as if by a merciful appointment, his last hours were cheered by a flattering testimonial from the members then assembled, in the form of the following minute, which the Archbishop of Canterbury graciously undertook to communicate to the dying labourer; having himself, in opening the business of the day, expressed the obligation due to Mr. Bowdler as the father of the society, and the general regret with which the loss of his assistance was contemplated by those who knew how best to appreciate it.

“ At the annual general meeting of the society for promoting the enlargement and building of churches and chapels, holden by adjournment on Thursday the 22d day of May, 1823, at their rooms in Lincoln's-Inn-Fields: Present, His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury in the Chair,

“ It was resolved unanimously, “ That we deeply deplore the absence of John Bowdler, Esq., in consequence of severe illness, one of our original and most valuable members, whose constant attendance upon the meetings of the society, while health enabled him, evinced the high sense he entertained of its great importance in the promotion of the best interests of true religion.

That this resolution be communicated to Mr. Bowdler, and that His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury be requested to do it by letter.

“ GEO. BRAMWELL,

“ Honorary Secretary.”

m

[ocr errors]

Of the private life of a retired country gentleman there is little to record. One day telleth another nearly the same unvaried tale. “ His virtues walk their daily round, nor make a pause, nor leave a void.” But if the journey through the earlier part of life is marked with little variety, that by which he “ goeth to his long home” is necessarily uniform. Una senum facies. The complexion of old age will be sometimes less wrinkled with care, and sometimes less furrowed with sorrow; it may even be placid with contentment, or may wear a smile of joy in a retrospect of the past, or anticipation of future happiness. But some of the evils which the Roman satirist has forcibly, though coarsely, described, or

those which the Preacher has drawn with greater delicacy and more of poetic imagery, must, by destroying the vigour of life, deprive it in some degree of its powers of active emplyment. Happy they, who, having borne the burthen and heat of the day, having devoted their early morn and noon-day strength to the service of their Maker, and the use of the talents he has given them, can see, without regret, the shades of evening lengthen around them, and retire to the exercise of domestic virtues and private benevolence, devotion and heavenly meditation. Happy their country, which nurses in its bosom a race of virtuous, vigorous sons, training them to be active in labour and sage in counsel, to improve the country and adorn the town.

“ Bold, firm, and graceful are thy generous youth,

By hardship sinew'd, and by danger fired.
Mild are thy glories too, as o'er the plains
Of thriving peace thy thoughtful sires preside;
In genius and substantial learning high;
For every virtue, every worth renown'd;

Sincere, plain-hearted, hospitable, kind.”
To the strength and firmness of youth, Mr.
Bowdler added much of tenderness* and kind-

* Mr. Bowdler shall be his own portrait painter, in order to show these features. Extract from a letter to his youngest sister, dated Jan. 9, 1777.

“ If you were in a little better spirits, my Harriet, I would laugh at you for suffering yourself to be so easily taken in by a few soft things in my former letter, as if I in reality felt that tenderness which I pretended to express. Do you ima

ness: to the wisdom of age much of cheerfulness, thankfulness, and benevolence. His was not that comfortless state, which the author of the Rambler has described, " worn with labours, harassed with anxieties, tortured with diseases, incapable of feeling any gladness of its own, or any

'tis as wel. and their wor our folly

oil and

gine I have really any regard for you? — Nay, if you are convinced of it, 'tis in vain for me to attempt to disprove it, and, therefore, I never will try at it again as long as I live ; but, on the contrary, (as those who are so easily deceived, deserve to be deceived) I will do every thing in my power to strengthen the delusion. If you and I were to correspond frequently upon such subjects, I have a notion I could hum you nicely, for I either have a deal of the pathetic, or else can assume it, so as to deceive even myself. But I fancy, 'tis as well as it is, for I doubt if we should do each other any good; and their wise wisdoms the world would laugh most unconscionably at our folly in writing such stuff at five and twenty and thirty, as a girl and boy of fifteen ought to be whipped for. Yet, begging pardon of their worships, if there is a pleasure in madness known only to madmen, there is a charm in sensibility which the world cannot match. To dry the tears of the widow ; to produce the first smile in the countenance of sadness; to take part of the load off the afflicted, and see them support the remainder with less difficulty; to rub off the little ruggednesses of their road (each one of which appeared to them a mountain); and to perceive their looks brighten at one's approach, — give me heartfelt delight; and “ I their toys to the great children leave.But, alas ! alas ! even this is vexation of spirit. I see those whom my soul holds dearest languishing in pain, disease, and sorrow, and am unable to afford them any relief. I see my sister, from whose good sense and affection I promised myself so much happiness through life, sunk into a state which I dread even to think of; and even you, whose cheerfulness and good humour seemed inexhaustible, are grown grave and disconsolate in the very spring time of life, when

satisfaction from the contemplation of the pre-
sent.” It was that which the same writer has
described, when warmed with poetic fire,
“ An age that melts in unperceived decay,

And glides in modest innocence away;
Whose peaceful day benevolence endears,
Whose night congratulating conscience cheers.”

Though anticipating, perhaps, some of the evils of age before they came upon him, and therefore desirous to withdraw, almost prematurely, from social and from busy scenes, yet it was with no feeling of disappointment or discontent. Having (to adopt the language of one of his favourite authors) “ trod with cautious step the chequered paths of life, he was ready to quit its vain scenes without a trouble or a fear.” He retired, uti conviva satur ; expressing a devout thankfulness for the blessings which had been vouchsafed him, and the comforts he was still permitted to enjoy. The following is an extract from a letter, written nine months be

youth and health are in their highest vigour. I am almost tempted to cry out with Othello, · Why, why is this?' and am forced to repeat my favourite maxim, :

• Man was not made to question, but adore.'” The following is an expression of kindness towards his eldest sister, who was then fallen into a state of ill health.

Aug 12th, 1777.' “ Give my kind love to all who think it worth accepting, but keep a large slice for yourself, for you never will meet with any more sincere and lasting: use it as you will, you shall not wear it out; and (unless you survive me) it will prove an estate for life free from all deductions."

« FöregåendeFortsätt »