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Thus he continued until Wednesday morning, by which time he was so much worse, that it was apparent his dissolution was approaching. He was now affected with every symptom of the last stage of that kind of fever, which, by medical writers, is termed Typhus. Not an hour before his death some medical assistance was given to him, of which he was perfectly conscious, and he spoke to me so as to indicate that he knew me, though I could not fully distinguish what he wished to say. He breathed his last about half after eleven in the forenoon.
These are all the facts which I can now remember with such distinctness as will justify my sending them to you. I am well aware that it is a very scanty and uninteresting report of the commencement, progress, and termination of the illness which put a period to the active and valuable life of this most interesting man. The little information which it will convey to you, you will use in whatever way you may think proper.
I remain, dear Sir,
With much esteem, very truly
Mr. Wakefield died September 9, 1801, in the 46th year of his age, leaving a widow and six children, four sons and two daughters: thus lost to his family, his friends, and the public, in the prime of life and the maturity of judgment. Such was the will of "a Disposer whose power we are little able to resist, and whose wisdom it behoves us not at all to dispute,"
Mr. WAKEFIELD's general habits of life, together with his manner of thinking upon most subjects of importance, are well described by himself in the former volume of this work. It is hoped also, that such of his scattered fragments as we have been able to preserve in this continuation will contribute to the same object. It may not, however, be superfluous to subjoin to this account of his life and writings such further hints and observations as will assist the reader in forming a true estimate of his character.
The forwardness of his capacity in the season of infancy" appeared to design him for a scholar. The conscientious occupation of
a See "Mem." I. 23.
his hours during the period of youth, when to trifle is regarded as almost venial, prepared him for the attainment of literary eminence. His manly years, he incessantly employed in arranging and imparting the intellectual stores, which his youth had acquired, and which, under his skilful management, were daily increasing.
His merit as a scholar, it would ill become us to attempt to appreciate. His enemies have never ventured to dispute it. Nor, we believe, have the best friends to his memory and his reputation any apprehensions as to the permanence of his classical fame. In his own estimation, literature was not to be regarded as a selfish gratification, but to be chiefly valued for the grand excitements and important aids which it afforded to the attainment of religious knowledge, and the formation of just principles. When a young man, he expresses, in one of
Among the miscellaneous papers written by Mr. Wakefield in Dorchester Gaol are the following observations:
"What knowledge I have been able to acquire has been effected by a most methodical distribution, and parsimonious application of my time, with a punctuality, allied to religious scruple, in all my engagements, seconded by an incessant purpose of intellectual improvement." See also " Mem." I. 143, 144. 157, and supra 222, 223.
See "Mem." i. 157.
his private letters, his resolution to be chiefly occupied in "that noblest science to be good, and after the experience of many years, when he was giving affectionate advice to one of his daughters, he thus strongly inculcates the unimportance of all literary attainments which terminate short of moral improvement. "You know my sentiments on these points so well as to free me from the necessity of adding, how trivial and insignificant are the noblest intellectual endowments, in competition with bencvolence of feeling and purity of heart;—with that sensibility, and complacency, and accommodation of manners, which reaps it's sincerest and highest pleasures from relieving the wants, attending to the wishes, and consulting the gratification, of a single human being."*
As a member of civil society, a mind such as his could never for a moment either entertain or inculcate
See Mem." i. 387.
"Th' enormous faith of many made for one."
Respecting forms of government, indeed, he was little attached to any particular theory, but, rather anxious to behold civil institutions practically applied to the public good. He
• Ibid. i. 354.