Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

from herself, under the timid modesty of her who possessed them. Some of those powers, indeed, were shown at rather an earlier period; and, when her eldest brother read at his father's breakfasttable her Ode to Hope, (and the style of his reading was of no ordinary excellence,) the surprise at hearing the name of the author, was not less than the delight excited by the beauty and sublimity of the poem. But it was chiefly during the hours of protracted sickness and increasing pain, that she committed to paper those reflections which have proved the source of delight to many a pious heart, and comfort to many a dejected spirit.

* Miss Bowdler's younger brother being at the drawing-room on the 26th of March, 1789, (being the first after the King's recovery,) the Queen, to whom he had presented the last Essay, which was then unpublished, said to him in a very elegant manner, " Mr. Bowdler, I am very glad to see you. I wanted to tell

you how much I am obliged to you for your sister's Essays. They have been the greatest comfort I have had this winter. I have read them through three times. I am only sorry that the writer is not now alive, that I might have the pleasure of being acquainted with her."

The following anecdote is added, chiefly for the sake of the remark which accompanies it. Extract of a letter from Miss H. M. Bowdler to J. Bowdler,

Nov. 9, 1787. “ Mr. C. (a very fine youth, who died at Bristol somé months ago), the day before his death read the Essay on Resignation to his mother and sister, and told them that book had been his support through his long sufferings, and he recommended it to be their's, in the grief they would soon feel for his loss. Do not you think oưr dear departed saint must still feel pleasure

After the measles in 1771, her health appeared to be undermined by some secret disorder; and her strength and spirits were unhappily much shaken by her attendance on a trial to give evidence against a youth who was suspected of having stolen a bank-note from a letter; a circumstance which occasioned one of her smaller poems. Her health gradually declined, pain and infirmities came upon her, she was deprived of the power of speech, and often endured severe agony, till, after ten years of continual suffering, during which she exhibited all those graces which she has recommended in her writings, her time of trial ceased ; and (adopting her own words), 66 with the same filial submission and entire confidence with which she had resigned every day of her life into the hands of her Creator, she resigned the last;" full of patience, and love, and humble heavenly hope.

6 O ye ! whose hearts
Have felt the anguish of that stroke which rends
From life its dearesť treasure, and deplored
A loss revolving years can ne'er restore,
Think of the glories of the blest above;
And, while affliction, trembling o'er the grave,

in the good she does to her fellow-sufferers ? And does it not appear, as if she was deprived of health and speech only to make her talents and virtues more generally useful than they could have been, if her time had been engaged in the common pursuits of the world ?”.

Hangs on each loved idea, and recalls
Those pleasing hours which never must return;
Let fancy paint an angel hov’ring near,
Who gently calls you in a well-known voice;
Soothes the keen anguish of the bleeding heart,
And points the way to never-ending bliss;
Where friends shall part no more, in life, in death,
To grateful memory for ever dear.” *

The following extract from a letter, written soon after her death, gives a most interesting account of her sufferings, and the state of her mind under them, during the last few days of her life.

“ I have lost one of the most perfect beings that ever did honour to human nature; but that loss was preceded by circumstances which made it appear the greatest of blessings; and, while I feel most sensibly, and must feel for ever, the want of a most tender and affectionate friend, who has been from my infancy my inseparable companion, and whom every day gave me fresh reason to love, yet I cannot wish to bring her back to this state of suffering, and shall ever acknowledge her removal to a happier world as a blessing, for which I can never be sufficiently thankful. She has, as you know, for many years been a constant sufferer, but, since her illness in October last, these sufferings have been greatly increased; till about six weeks before I lost her, the pain in her stomach grew so violent that she was obliged to be confined to her room, grew gradually worse, and at last Dr. Dobson told us, he had no hope that she could ever recover, and believed a few days would end

* From a MS. by Miss Bowdler.

the struggle ; from this time my sister and I determined never to leave her: we were constantly in her room all day, and passed the nights there by turns; her sufferings were, I believe, as great as human nature could endure, and continued during three weeks without intermission. At last, one day, while she was sitting up, her pulse and strength seemed to fail at once, and we thought her just going. As we knew she was well acquainted with her situation, my sister told her the state of her pulse; but never, never shall I forget the scene that followed; the transport, the rapture, which glowed upon her countenance at that moment were what nobody who did not see them can possibly conceive. I believe it proceeded from feelings as incomprehensible to us as those of departed spirits; at the same time, her tenderness for her friends never left her for a moment, and I shall ever think of that hour with more heartfelt satisfaction than of any other of my life. It pleased God, however, to try her still farther; for, after that moment of ease on Saturday evening, she lingered till Thursday morning in agonies, which I fear I shall never be able to recollect without horror. During that time, we scarcely left her for an hour night or day; what I then felt it is impossible to describe, but yet, through all the tortures she endured, I could still at times see the same glow of transport, the more than human peace which triumphed over them all. — 0, it was a scene for angels to view with admiration ; but it is as impossible for me to describe as to forget it. The night before she died she would have her slate, and with great difficulty wrote, “I am just going now;' she then took leave of us all with the sweetest, the most heavenly composure, and I again flattered myself that she had no more to suffer, but I was disappointed : her pains returned with greater violence than ever, and she grew delirious, which continued

.

to the last. Think what we must feel, when, in that state, her voice, which had þeen 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.'”

show great

Not long after her death a collection was made of her poems and essays, and published for the benefit of the Bath Hospital. It has since passed through fifteen editions. The

poems 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

« FöregåendeFortsätt »