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Lady of the Lake. It was like a poet's dream, or a vision of romance, to behold her,.. and like a vision or a dream she had departed !
O gentle Emma, o'er a lovelier form
I thought of D. the most familiar of my friends during those years when we lived near enough to each other for familiar intercourse;.. my friend, and the friend of all who were dearest to me;..a man of whom all who knew him will concur with me in saying, that they never knew nor could conceive of one more strictly dutiful, more actively benevolent, more truly kind, more thoroughly good ;.. the pleasantest companion, the sincerest counsellor, the most considerate friend, the kindest host, the welcomest guest. After our separation, he had visited me here three summers : with him it was that I had first explored this Land of Lakes in all directions; and again and again should we have retraced our steps in the wildest recesses of these vales and mountains, and lived over the past again, if he had not, too early for all who loved him...
Began the travel of eternity.
I called to mind my hopeful H--, too, so often the sweet companion of my morning walks to this very spot;..in whom I had fondly thought my better part should have survived me, and
“ With whom, it seemed, my very life
Went half away!
I long to go!"* “ Thy dead shall live,” O Lord! “ together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust! for Thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead !”+
Surely to the sincere believer death would be an object of desire instead of dread, were it not for those ties,.. those heart-strings... by which we are attached to life. Nor indeed do I believe that it is natural to fear death, however generally it may be thought so. From my own feelings I have little right to judge; for, although
* These lines are quoted from a little volume, entitled Solitary Hours, which, with the “ Widow's Tale,” &c. of the same authoress, I recommend to all admirers of that poetry tbat proceeds from the heart.
# Isaiab, xxvi. 19. VOL. I.
habitually mindful that the hour cometh, and even now may be, it has never appeared actually near enough to make me duly apprehend its effect upon myself. But from what I have observed, and what I have heard those persons say whose professions lead them to the dying, I am induced to infer that the fear of death is not common, and that where it exists, it proceeds rather from a diseased or enfeebled mind, than from any principle in our nature. Certain it is that among the poor, the approach of dissolution is usually regarded with a quiet and natural composure which it is consolatory to contemplate, and which is as far removed from the dead palsy of unbelief, as it is from the delirious raptures of fanaticism. Theirs is a true unhesitating faith ; and they are willing to lay down the burthen of a weary life in the sure and certain hope of a blessed immortality. Who indeed is there that would not gladly make the exchange, if he lived only for himself, and were to leave none who stood in need of him, no eyes to weep at his departure, no hearts to ache for his loss? The day of death, says the Preacher, is better than the day of one's birth,.. a sentence to which who ever has lived long, and may humbly hope that he has not lived ill, must heartily assent. The excellent Henry Scougal used to say that, “ abstracted from the will of God, mere curiosity would make him long for another world.” How many of the ancients committed suicide from the mere weariness of life, a conviction of the vanity of human enjoyments, or to avoid the infirmities of old age ! This, too, in utter uncertainty concerning a future state; not with the hope of change, for in their prospect there was no hope; but for the desire of death. .
Into this train of musing I had fallen, (for we suffer ourselves willingly to be drawn away from recollections that touch the heart where it has been wounded,) when my spiritual friend approached and stood beside me. Oh, said I, that the passage from one world to another were as practicable for me as it is for you! Were there a way, such as John Bunyan saw in his delightful dream, more pilgrims would set out on the journey than ever, in the ages when pilgrimages were most frequent, travelled to Compostella or Jerusalem. Sure I am that I should have begun my progress staff in hand, as soon as I was able to carry a wallet.
SIR THOMAS MORE. In that case I suppose you would stop by the way to throw a stone or two at poor old Giant Pope, as you past his den.
MONTESINOS. Nay, if he were lying still in his den, he might lie undisturbed by me. But when he rouses himself like a giant refreshed with wine, and endeavours again to obtain footing in a country from which he was with such great difficulty expelled, then indeed it is time for every one to provide himself with stones who knows how to use a sling. But, applying that happiest and most popular of all allegorical tales (whether in prose or rhyme) to my own wayfare, my pilgrimage has thus far been happily accomplished. I have climbed the Hill of Difficulty. I made no tarriance at Vanity Fair. I have escaped from Doubting Castle; and here I am, literally as well as allegorically, among the Delectable Mountains.
SIR THOMAS MORE. And though you have not engaged in a single combat with Apollyon, you have used him almost as scurvily as he was treated by Martin Luther himself.
MONTESINOS. I confess to having made free with his tail and his hoofs and his horns. The vulgar demonology of the monks kept its ground among us, when they and their demi-gods were sent packing; and it has done far more harm than can