Page images

her father, soon returned, and observed that she had taken it for granted that he could not see me; but upon her casually mentioning my arrival, he had desired I should be invited into his chamber. My emotions at approaching Jefferson's dying bed, I cannot describe. You remember the alcove in which he slept.-There he was extended, feeble, prostrate; but the fine and clear expression of his countenance not at all obscured. At the first glance he recognized me, and his hand and voice at once saluted me. The energy of his grasp, and the spirit of his conversation, were such as to make me hope he would yet rally-and that the superiority of mind over matter in his composition, would preserve him yet longer. He regretted that I should find him so helpless-said, if he got well, I should see all the papers he had promised. He talked of the freshet which was then prevailing in James River-of its extensive devastation and said, he had never known a more destructive one. He soon, however, passed to the University, expatiated on its future utility-said, its cost would not, altogether, exceed $320,000; commended the professors, and expressed satisfaction at the progress of the students. A sword was suspended at the foot of his bed, which he told me was presented to him by (I think) an Arabian Chief, and the blade was a true Damascus. At this time he became so cheerful as to smile, even to laughing, at a remark I made. He alluded to the probability of his death, as a man would of being caught in a shower-as an event not to be desired, but not to be feared. It was to be apprehended that the eagerness with which he conversed, would exhaust him, and therefore, I could not indulge myself with a long interview. Upon proposing to withdraw, I observed that I would call and see him again. He said, "Well, do-but you will dine here to-day." To this I replied,

[ocr errors]

"I proposed deferring that pleasure until he got better." He waved his hand, shook his head with some impatience, saying emphatically-"you must dine here—my sickness makes no difference." I consented, left him, and never saw him more. I observed he kept the flies off himself, and seemed to decline assistance from his attendants. Mrs. Randolph afterwards told me this was his habit-that his plan was to fight old age off, by never admitting the approach of helplessness, and he was, moreover, exceedingly averse to giving trouble. From the interview, I conceived strong hopes of his recovering, and when, after dining, I conversed with his physician, Dr. Dunglison of the University, these hopes were rendered more sanguine. For he seemed to think his disease was conquered, and that he had nothing but the inelastic state of age to fear. Mrs. Randolph and the family soon appeared to feel the diffusion of these hopes which were but too fallacious.

I shall never cease to deplore that I did not find him in good health. The rise of the waters, among other disasters, produced this by delaying me.

With great regard, I am, dear sir, faithfully yours, H. LEE.

Washington, 19th Aug. 1826.

From a tract published by the Universalist Society for the promomotion of Christian Knowledge, in the city of Boston.


At the interesting age when the heart is light, the prospects of life fresh and bright, and the desires of the heart peculiarly ardent, I was called by the Providence of God to part with my kindest earthly friend, my mother, whom after a short but violent attack of fever I fol

lowed to the grave; and in a few weeks after my brother fell an early sacrifice to the same complaint. A few days only elapsed, when for the first time in my life I felt the most violent and feverish pain invade my whole frame. Then, for the first time, did death appear to me in its truly awful character! Its recent triumphs were before me! its very messenger seemed already to have taken possession of my life, and loudly to admonish me that I must soon leave the world in which I felt myself to be as yet an interested stranger, and abandon the prospects already opening so fair upon my vision, of new associations, interests, and joys, on earth; leave forever the remaining friends of my youth, and follow those who had gone to their long home! My temples throbbed, my nerves were strangely agitated, and an indescribable dismay spread itself over my whole mind and heart. But in great mercy, after the second day, the violence of my pain subsided, leaving me the constant and wasting restlessness of a burning fever, but in the full exercise of my mind and reason. The dismay yielded to a frame of the most interested solicitude of soul. Thankful that I could think and reason with myself and my God, my first inquiry was, shall I recover, return to health, to the pleasures of society, and to the hopes and duties of life? Or shall I die, now in the midst of my youth, and go into the presence o the Supreme Judge of all? I wondered I had never thought more seriously on death, and on the dying hour. How could I tell whether I should recover or not? I could not know; for tho the days of our lives, no less than the hairs of our heads, are all numbered, yet their number is with the Lord.

This entire suspense at first was almost insupportable, and made death itself more dark and dismal; but my mind in its distress felt after God for support, and fron

all it could remember of the scriptures, from what conscience and the works of Nature taught, it thus reasoned with itself:-There is a God, else neither the life

world nor myself had ever existed. He that gave to all, must himself be above all; therefore he can preserve me if he pleases, inasmuch as to preserve is less than to create. But will he preserve and restore me to health? Here I said to myself, he that so fearfully and wonderfully made me, and placed me here, must have had some design in so doing; this design must have been to promote his own glory and my best good; therefore, as his creature and servant, he will preserve me and continue my thread of life, brittle as it is, so long as his glory or my good shall require it. I shall not die, therefore, unless it is infinitely best I should; and why should I not be resigned to what is infinitely best for me, and what will be for the eternal honor of my blessed Creator? Why should I not be willing to die in God's time, tho that time be unknown to me, seeing his time is and must be the best for him, for me, for all?

Here another question, still more momentous than the other, came for a solemn consideration, viz.; Shall I have any punishment after death? And if any, how long? Will it be endless or limited? These questions claimed and received my most prayerful and serious consideration. It was no time to trifle, no time to put off these things. Eternity seemed to be at hand; and all I could ever enjoy in heaven, or suffer in the regions of woe, now urged me to settle with myself these awful and glorious subjects. On these soul-interesting subjects, tho but young, yet having been some time previous awakened to a considerable attention to religion, and having obtained, as I still think, much light, I had attentively and prayerfully searched the Scriptures, heard much preaching, and endeavored to weigh the argu

ments for and against the different views of them; yet I was not established! And I could not refrain from reproaching myself for having left their decision, in my own mind, to a sick bed; a time with me of such weakness, and yet of such moment! But God was very kind to me, in continuing to me my reason and the entire possession of my mind, and a calm, tho a fervent spirit.


In making up my mind as to my final destination, I placed before me the general character of Deity as seen in his works and providence; but especially as revealed in Christ-I thought on the power of his miracles,-on the benevolence of his character,-on the unexampled love and grace displayed in his sufferings and death ;then placed on one hand all the promises, as well as I could bring them to mind, and on the other, all the threatenings and woes which were contained in the Holy Scriptures. And it appeared clear to me, that the most distinguished attribute in the character of God was that of infinite goodness. Then I said to myself, Can it be that this great and good Being created me, who am so poorly able to bear severe pain, for only a few days-can it be that he created me to endure unceasing anguish, while he shall inhabit his own blessed eternity? On this question depends all-what he wills must be done. The worlds were created according to his will. The operations of providence are effecting his will. To do his blessed will, Christ became incarnate, took upon him our nature, lived and died for us. If God wills my final ruin, then he must delight in viewing pains that have no end; but my whole soul is shocked at the very idea of a sentiment so truly awful. There is nothing like this in the tendency of his work or dealings with men; and it is the general voice of scripture, that "mercy rejoices against judgment.”.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »