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I am not merry; but I do beguile
The thing I am, by seeming otherwise." His virtuous and manly mind, however, suggested to him the önly efficacious mode of diminishing the mental distress which he endured; and he endeavoured, in alleviating the sufferings of others to forget his own. Among other instances of his benevolent self-devotion, it is recorded, that on finding a poor family in a distant hovel of his parish, shivering and famished, he not only afforded them the immediate relief which his purse could supply, but on his return home, sent them the blankets from his own bed for their covering.
Of some of the concluding scenes of the life of this amiable but ill-fated son of genius, the following detached extracts from Mr. Russell's more full and detailed narrative, present & picture at once gratifying and melancholy.
“ The sphere of duty in which Mr. Wolfe was engaged, was extensive and laborious. A large portion of the parish was situated in a wild hilly country; abounding in bogs and trackless wastes; and the population was so scattered, that it was a work of no ordinary difficulty to keep up that intercourse with his flock, upon which the success of a Christian minister so much depends. When he entered upon his work, he found the church rather thinly attended; but, in a short time, the effects of his constant zeal, his impressive style of preaching, and his daily and affectionate converse with his parishioners, were visible in the crowded and attentive congregations which began to gather round him.
“ The success of a Christian pastor depends almost as much on the manner as the matter of his instruction. In this respect, Mr. Wolfe was peculiarly happy, especially with the lower, classes of the people, who were much engaged by the affectionate cordiality and the simple earnestness of his deportment towards them. In his conversations with the plain farmer or humble Jabourer, he usually laid his hands upon their shoulder or caught them by the arm; and, while he was insinuating his arguments, or enforcing his appeals with all the variety of simple illustrations which a prolific fancy could
supply, he fastened an anxious eye upon the countenance of the person he was addressing, as if eagerly awaiting some gleam of intelligence, to show that he was understood and felt.
“ During the year that the typhus fever raged most violently in the north of Ireland, his neighbourhood was much afflicted with the disease ; and thus, the important duty of visiting the sick (which to him was always a work of most anxious solicitude,) was vastly increased ; and he accordingly applied himself with indefatigable zeal in every quarter of his extended parish, in administering temporal and spiritual aid to his poor flock. In the discharge of such duties he exposed himself to frequent colds; and his disregard of all precaution, and of the ordinary comforts of life to which he had been accustomed, soon, unhappily confirmed a consumptive tendency in his constitution, of which some symptoms appeared when in college.* His frame was robust, and his general health usually strong; but, an habitual cough, of which he himself seemed almost unconscious, often excited the apprehensions of his friends, and at length, in the spring of 1821, the complaint, of which it seemed the forerunner, began to make manifest inroads upon his constitution. No arguments, however, could for a long time dissuade him from his usual work. So little did he himself regard the fatal symptoms, that he could not be prevailed upon to relax his parochial labors. At length, however, his altered looks, and other unfavorable symptoms appeared so alarming, that some of his most respectable parishioners wrote to his friends in Dublin, to urge them to use their influence in persuading him to retire for awhile from his arduous duties; and to have the best medical advice for him without further delay. — But such was the anxiety he felt for his parish, and so little conscious did he seem of the declining state of his health, that no entreaties could avail. The repeated accounts of his sinking health at last impelled the friend who now
* Several of Mr. Wolfe's most intimate college friends have no recollection of any such symptoms; but, on the contrary, speak of his singular health when at the University
feebly attempts this humble record of his worth, to set off at once to visit him, and to use all his influence to induce him to submit to what appeared so plainly the will of Providence, and to suspend his labors, until his strength was sufficiently recruited to resame them with renewed vigor. In the mean time, (about the middle of May, 1821,) he had been hurried off to Scotland by the importunate intreaties of a kind and respected brother-clergyman, in his neighbourhood, in order to consult a physician, celebrated for his skill in such cases. On his way to Edinburgh he happened to fall in with a deputation from the Irish tract-society who were going to that city to hold a meeting for the promotion of their important objects. — Notwithstanding the languor of his frame, and the irritation of a harassing cough, he was prevailed upon to exert his eloquence in this interesting cause. — In some of the speeches made upon that occasion, he thought that the dark side of the character of his countrymen had been strongly exhibited, while the brighter part was almost entirely kept out of view. With characteristic feeling, he stood up to present the whole image with all its beauties as well as its defects.
“ On his return from Scotland, the writer met him at a friend's house within a few miles of his own residence; and, on the following Sunday, accompanied him through the principal part of his parish to the church; and never can he forget the scene he witnessed as they drove together along the road, and through the village. It must give a more lively idea: of his character and conduct as a parish clergyman than any labored delineation, or than a mere detail of particular facts. As he quickly passed by, all the poor people and children ran out to their cabin-doors to welcome him, with looks and expressions of the most ardent affection, and with all that wild devotion of gratitude so characteristic of the Irish peasantry. Many fell upon their knees invoking blessings upon him; and long after they were out of hearing, they remained in the same attitude, showing by their gestures that they were still offering up prayers for him ; and, some even followed the carriage a long distance, making the most anxious inquiries
about his health. He was sensibly moved by this manifestation of feeling, and met it with all that heartiness of expression, and that affectionate simplicity of manner, which made him as much an object of love, as his exalted virtues rendered him an object of respect.
“ It can scarcely be a matter of surprise that he should feel much reluctance in leaving a station where his ministry appeared to be so useful and acceptable; and accordingly, though peremptorily required by the physician he had just consulted, to retire for some time from all clerical duties, it was with difficulty he could be dislodged from his post, and forced away to Dublin, where most of his friends resided.
“ It was hoped that timely relaxation from duty, and a change in his mode of living to what he had been originally accustomed, and suitable to the present delicate state of his health, might avert the fatal disease with which he was threatened. The habits of his life, while he resided on his cure, were in every respect calculated to confirm his constitutional tendency to consumption. He seldom thought of providing a regular meal; and his humble cottage exhibited every appearance of the neglect of the ordinary comforts of life. A few straggling rush-bottomed chairs, piled up with his books — a small rickety table before the fire-place, covered with parish memoranda ; and two trunks containing
serving, at the same time, to cover the broken parts of the floor, constituted all the furniture of his sitting-room. The mouldy walls of the closet in which he slept, were hanging with loose folds of damp paper; and, between this wretched cell and his parlour, was the kitchen, which was occupied by the disbanded soldier, his wife, and their numerous brood of children, who had migrated with him from his first quarters, and seemed now in full possession of the whole concern, entertaining him merely as a lodger, and usurping the entire disposal of his small plot of ground, as the absolute lords of the soil.
“ After he left this comfortless home, he resigned himself entirely to the disposal of his family. Though his malady
all his papers,
seemed to increase, and his frame to become more emaciated, still his natural spirits and mental elasticity continued unimpaired; so much so, that he continued to preach occasionally in Dublin with his usual energy, until the friendly physician to whom he had now submitted his case, absolutely forbade all present exercise of clerical duties.
“ His anxiety about the provision for his duties in his parish, seemed for a long time materially to interrupt every enjoyment which might tend to his recovery. Indeed his feelings were so alive to the subject, that he could scarcely be satisfied with any arrangement which his kind clerical friends could make for hirn, under conviction that no occasional de. puty can fully fill the place of the regular minister of the parish ; and, unhappily, the advanced age and infirmities of his rector rendered any exertions on his part impracticable.
“ For some months after his removal from his parish, his health appeared to fluctuate, as is sometimes the case at the commencement of such complaints as his; and, it was considered necessary, towards the approach of winter, that he should go to the south of France, as the most probable means of averting from him the threatened malady. In his attempt to reach Bourdeaux, he was twice driven back to Holyhead, by violent and adverse gales, and suffered so much from the effects, that it was deemed prudent to abandon the plan, and settle near Exeter during the winter and ensuing spring.
“ After his return from Exeter, he remained during the summer with his friends in and near Dublin. His general health appeared not to have undergone any material change in the mean time; but his cough continued so violent and distressing, that he was ordered to go to Bourdeaux and back, for the benefit of the voyage.
“ In less than a month he returned from Bourdeaux, and seemed to have derived some benefit from the voyage : but this was of short continuance. The fatal disease which had been long apprehended, proved to have taken full hold of his constitution: his strength appeared to sink fast, and his spirits to flag. The bounding step which expressed a constant