« ForrigeFortsæt »
Twice a year there were jury trials, the counsel in which were appointed by lot among the Law Students; twelve of the undergraduates acting as a jury. On these occasions, there was a sort of a festival at the School. The ordinary exercises were suspended; the Library, where the trial took place, was crowded with members of the University; and the contests between the parties were long, sharp, and earnest. In all these trials my father took great delight, and his interest stimulated the young men in their efforts. He delivered elaborate oral judgments, and they, in their turn, prepared their cases with great zeal. He used to say of their arguments, that they were often quite as good, and sometimes better, than those of the counsel engaged in the real cases. It would have seemed only natural, that, under the pressure and excitement of his judicial duties, these fictitious questions, wanting the stimulus of actual litigation, and unaffected by the passions and interests of real parties, would have seemed to him stale and flat. But it was not so. He entered into them with the same zest and gusto as if they had been real, nay, even with more unfeigned satisfaction. He loved to see the young, ardent minds of the students, first measuring their strength in argument. There was all the interest, with none of the responsibility of his judicial life.
The benefit which the students derived from these “ moot-court” trials was very apparent, and their progress in all their studies greatly encouraged and gratified my father. He entered into his professorial duties with his whole heart, and all other subjects became secondary in interest to the Law School.
His life was thus gliding on smoothly and busily when his home was stricken by another domestic calamity. Louisa, the youngest of his children, - most lovely and attractive in person and mind, and who had been the pride and joy of my father's heart, as he watched her rapidly-developing graces and powers, was taken ill of a scarlet fever, and, after a very short illness, died on May 10th, 1831. This blow, which was wholly unanticipated, desolated our home, and entirely prostrated him. With great determination, however, he immediately betook himself to earnest labor, striving thus to attain to forgetfulness of his great loss. But it was very long before the world again looked glad to him, and to his death, this sorrow he carried like an arrow in his heart. The following letters show the condition of mind in which this bereavement left him.
TO REV. JOHN BRAZER.
Cambridge, May 25th, 1831. MY DEAR SIR :
I have just received your kind letter, and reply gratefully to it at this moment, not knowing when I shall find more leisure. You did exactly as I should have done under like circumstances, and from the same considerations. When we are overwhelmed by a recent sorrow, we are incapable of consolation, and even of communion with other minds. We must be left to our own thoughts, and to the solitude of our own sorrow, until the heart has exhausted itself of its anguish and despair.
I have been very, very wretched. The calamity came upon us so suddenly and so awfully that it quite stunned me, and for a while I was sunk in utter desolation and despair. I have now become tranquil and collected. My official duties have compelled me to enter upon the business of common life, and this for a part of every day, has diverted my thoughts from my immediate griefs. When, however, I am alone, I involuntarily relapse into a settled and miserable gloom.
My dear little daughter was one of the best, purest, and most affectionate of human beings. She was as perfect as any thing (at least to my eyes) on earth could be. The Providence, which has removed her from us, is to me truly mysterious; but having a firm and unfaltering belief in the goodness of God, and in his parental wisdom, I cannot doubt that it is for the best, though I am incapable of perceiving how it is so. Indeed, my dear sir, life would be to me a burden, a grievous burden, if it were not for the belief in another and a better state of existence. The hope of a glorious immortality, and of a re-union with those from whom we have parted here, seems to me the only real source of consolation; and I trust that after the anguish of my affliction shall have been diminished, by time and distance, I shall be able to realize the full force of it. At present, I am unable to do more than to bring the truth to my mind, without the power of giving to it the mastery over my feelings.
And now I beg to thank you again and again for your sympathy. Mrs. Story and myself have had occasion several times to say that we were sure of your kind remembrance, and that of Mrs. Brazer in our affliction. God grant that your little family may be preserved to you, and that, as parents, such a bitter cup may pass by you without being tasted. Mrs. Story sends her love to Mrs. Brazer, and I cordially join in it, being her and Your affectionate, though afflicted friend,
TO HON. CHANCELLOR KENT.
Cambridge, June 24th, 1831. MY DEAR SIR:
The last evening's mail brought me your kind and consolatory letter, and it was indeed very soothing to me. I thank you again and again for it. I have indeed been made very wretched by this to me irreparable loss. My little daughter was one of the most beautiful and attractive of human beings, and at ten years of age, every thing her parents could wish. She was in our eyes absolutely perfect, and we lost her so suddenly, that we were at first stunned and overwhelmed with the blow. At present, Mrs. Story and myself are quite calm and tranquillized, as wretched as we well can be, and as well disposed as we can be, if we knew how, to see a consolation and a healing balm in any direction. I have been driven, by the pressure of my official duties, to escape from my own sorrows, and for some hours every day have been required to think for others, and not for myself; and this occupation, though painful, has, I doubt not, been useful to me.
The mysteries of God's Providence are to me inscrutable. But I have the firmest belief in His parental character, and that all he does is in mercy as well as in wisdom. The immortality of the soul, — the Christian doctrine of a life to come, which shall adjust all the irregularities here, seems to me the only rational ground of comfort and consolation. Without this hope and this belief, life would be a burden.
My sorrows have lately led me (as we are naturally led on such occasions) to look at the sources of consolation to which the wisest and best of the heathens were accustomed to resort, to solace their own griefs. I was especially attracted to Cicero, to the topics by which his friends endeavored to assuage his griefs, and he theirs. I was surprised to see how few and desolate, and unsatisfactory were all their grounds of consolation, and I could not but feel that death then must have been, even in its mildest forms, most afflictive and terrific. In the Treatise of Cicero, to which you refer, we see more of our own private thoughts and reasonings, and we cannot but admire his anxious eloquence in support of the immortality of the soul. But it is most manifest, that it was, at best, a cold and lifeless and hesitating confidence, with which he pressed his arguments. If Christianity had done no more for mankind than to make known to us the immortality of the soul and the parental character of God, it seems to me that it would be the first of blessings. Most truly and affectionately,
This is the true spirit of Christian resignation. None but a truly religious nature could meekly bend to affliction with such trust and faith, looking forward to a reunion in another state of existence, with her whom he had lost; and not forgetting, in his grief for the dead, his daily duties, and the claims of the living upon his activity and cheerfulness.
The following beautiful lines, written by my father, are those alluded to in the last letter:
FAREWELL, my darling child, a sad farewell !
* The last words, ultered but a few moments before her death, were, “I want to go home.”