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to the last. Think what we must feel, when, in that state, her voice, which had been lost for near ten years, in some degree returned, so that I could distinguish many words, and some sentences, but almost all wild and incoherent, except once that I distinguished my own name, and another time I heard her say, “happy, happy. This is the first time I have been sufficiently composed to attempt writing on this affecting subject, but I know you will feel for me; and such a scene must be interesting to all who are convinced of the truth of that religion which can alone support the mind in the greatest of all trials, and fill it with inexpressible transport even in the horrors of death. May that God who so wonderfully supported the dear angel I have lost, enable me to profit by her glorious example, and unite us again in a happier world! In the mean time, though I most sensibly feel the irreparable loss I have sustained, yet I do not doubt that I shall soon recover my spirits in a great degree. I shall never lose the remembrance of those virtues which once made the principal blessing of my life, but it is a remembrance which turns my tears to rapture.'”
Not long after her death a collection was made of her poems and essays, and published for the be. nefit of the Bath Hospital. It has since passed through fifteen editions. The poems show great taste and feeling; and the Ode to Hope, the stanzas on the death of Mr. Garrick, and the poem on the New Year, deserve much higher praise, displaying in many parts a strength and sublimity worthy of our best writers. The style is, for the most part, chaste, easy, elegant, melodious, though
the blank verse may sometimes be found deficient in that full majestic harmony which has been attained by the great masters of the art. But there is a delicacy of sentiment, and a sweetness and tenderness of expression, which are calculated to affect every one who can taste and feel them. The author possesses the great excellence of writing from the heart, and of showing that she does so. There is no affectation, no injudicious ornament, no labour; the defect which has been alluded to arises from the absence of it, and is abundantly recompensed by the natural flow of thought and simplicity which are every where to be observed. These are still more conspicuous in her prose writings. You seem to have the portrait of her own mind; the free and unembarrassed thoughts of one, who, having been well-trained by education and accustomed to sober reflection, is in retirement calmly contemplating all that passes in the world around her, and recording her observations for the benefit of a friend, or for her own improvement. The sex of the author, perhaps, gives her some advantages. You have none of the sternness, and none of the haughtiness of philosophy, no affectation of laboured thought or profound erudition ; none of the severity which those may be expected to exhibit who have seen much of the grosser vices, or are driven from active life and from the indulgence of the stronger passions. A well-educated female has seen only the better part of the world ; she is conversant with foibles rather than vices, and her natural gentleness will lead her to treat tenderly what she cannot but condemn. Yet, her observations will not, therefore, want interest. The quickness of apprehension will more than make amends for the absence of more extensive knowledge. She acquires by intuition what others learn by dull and painful experience. There will be a life, a spirit, a naïveté in her remarks, which will possess also in an eminent degree the fascinating charm of ease, simplicity, nature. “Some persons pique themselves upon saying all that they think, and are continually professing to do so; and in proof of this, will give pain without the least remorse. But is this the language of the heart? Alas! if it be so, let them set about reforming it, and make it fit to be seen, before they thus expose it to public view. Yet, perhaps, there may be as much affectation in this conduct as in the contrary extreme.”—“The polish of elegant manners is, indeed, truly pleasing, and necessary in order to make the worthiest character completely amiable; but it should be a polish, not a varnish; the ornament of a good heart, not the disguise of a bad one." Such remarks, which abound in these essays, show an accuracy of discrimination and insight into human character, which justify the observation of Mr. Melmoth, in a paper inserted in the introduction to the volume, that “the most striking feature in the dissertations of this intelligent moralist is the won
derful discernment she discovers in penetrating those secret disguises by which the human heart too often endeavours to impose upon its owner; and the wonder increases when we are told that during the last ten years of her short life, she was excluded from mixing at large in the world, by a long and lingering disease.”
There is much more, however, which deserves to be noticed. The easy, unaffected introduction of devotional sentiments, and not merely the introduction of them, but the referring of all duty to the will of God as its foundation, and all happiness to the desire of pleasing Him, gives a warmth and elevation to sentiments in themselves correct, which seem almost to impart to them a new character, and to breathe a heavenly spirit over the forms of moral precepts. “Religion, by · exalting our hopes and efforts to the highest object, furnishes a new motive for action, which may extend its influence over every moment of our lives; it teaches us to exalt the most trifling actions into exertions of virtue; and to find, in the employments of every hour, the means of improvement in those heavenly dispositions which are necessary to our happiness both here and hereafter.” -Essay on the Pleasures of Religion.
There is yet another distinguishing feature in these Essays; it is the delicate unobtrusive manner in which the situation and feelings of the author are continually brought before us, and the art by
which we are taught to apply to our own heart and conduct the precepts that are delivered. This circumstance appears to great advantage in writings composed during the hours of sickness, and scarcely known to exist till after her death. A continual reference to her own state may be discovered in the subjects selected, and in the manner of treating them; and it is very edifying and delightful to trace, even where they least appear, the thoughts which rise in her mind, the duties she prescribed to herself, and the consolations she experienced. But, perhaps, a more useful lesson is that which brings home every maxim to our own breasts, or gives rules whereby to judge ourselves. An example may be afforded by a passage in
which her nice discrimination discovers itself. It · is in pointing out the character of true candour.
« The case is widely different between the faults of others and our own. Their error might proceed from ignorance, prejudice, misapprehension, which he who condemns it can never plead in his own excuse, if he should be guilty of the like. They may have been hurried on to act without reflection, but he who observes and censures their conduct, cannot pretend that this is the case with him. They may not have been aware of the consequences which would attend their actions; but he who sees them, and condemns the cause of them, may surely be upon his guard.” The same thought occurs in some private meditations which