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_'I confess that I do not understand the spirit that can obstinately retain offence: life is in my opinion too short, and, above all, too uncertain, for the steady retention of displeasure.'
“ These are sentiments which, I hope, must have weight with you, even if it were quite certain that I had intentionally done you an injury. But when, as in the presence of Almighty God, I declare that it was ever farthest from my thought or wishes to act unkindly by you, I do trust that peace and amity may again take place between us. It was in consequence of my recommending . that you were displeased with me. I should have done better if I had first communicated with you, and had thus ascertained from yourself your wishes and intentions. In not doing this consisted my only error, and for this omission I beg your pardon. I would readily have done it when I first knew your displeasure, but you never would give me the opportunity. I remember meeting you at dinner at Vansittart's, and I tried then to communicate with you, but you would not allow me. But having acknowledged what part of my conduct to you was faulty, I must now most solemnly assure you, that I thought (after your communication with Lord Liverpool) you had finally decided to go out of Parliament. “You have now the perfect truth before
I have owned in what I was wrong. I have expressed my sorrow for it. It would be a great comfort to me, before I quit this world, to know that you and I were friends again. Enmities ought not to be interminable, even where intentional and deliberate offence has been given. I am now living in retirement, and as I seldom go from home, except when I pay visits to a kind and much valued friend, and, therefore, not being likely to fall in your way, I can have no motive for seeking reconciliation, except the pleasure which I shall derive from it. I have, as I have already told you, long been anxious to communicate with
and I feel that if it is to be done there is no time to be lost. I am now in my seventy-first year; I have had of late many and very serious attacks of illness, and if we are to be friends again it must happen soon.
“In reflecting upon what has passed, I can assure you, with truth and sincerity, that I have never felt the least anger against you, and I always was confident that, if I had the means of making my explanation to you, all your displeasure against me would be removed. When we recollect how long we have known each other, it is surely not too much to hope that the acquaintance which began in kindness may end in kindness also. This is my sincere wish: you will gratify me greatly, and will gladden my heart, if you do but say that it is your wish also. Trusting that this may happen, I must end
letter with begging you to believe that I am
“ Ever most truly yours,
R. Plumer Ward, Esq., to
Gilston Park, Nov. 23. 1837. “My dear
"I am not a little vexed to think so beautiful a letter as you have had the great kindness to write me has remained so long unanswered.
“ You must not suppose that I was not alive to every line of it, or did not, the moment I read it, feel my own heart respond to sentiments which do yours so much honour. The Christian charity which it breathes throughout, to say nothing of the manliness of its avowals, would have been an imposing lesson to myself, had I stood in need of it. But I assure you I did not. Whatever injury I thought you had done me, I had long forgiven, and, what is more, forgotten;
, and if some little feeling of slight, or (shall I say) of
I haughty demeanour on your part, had dwelt somewhat longer with me than might be proper, such a letter as yours would dissipate it all in a moment. I cordially accept all the kind things you are pleased to say in explanation of what I took so ill at the time, though even then I never thought you wished to injure me. It was more, as I have hinted, the manner than the matter which hurt me. But even this had passed out of my mind; and I am sure, if it had not, it would now. I almost envy you the merit of a letter so worthy a Christian and a gentleman.
“We are both of us now old, and drawing to a close : and there is too little life to enjoy to allow us to trifle with what remains.
“I therefore heartily join you in the wish press, that what was begun in kindness may end in it also..
“ With these sentiments, and again thanking you for your
“ R. PLUMER WARD."
to R. Ward, Esq.
" Nov. 26. 1837.
"My dear Ward,
“ Yours was a most welcome letter to me. When I wrote mine I was not very well; and as at no time can the continuance of life be depended upon, much less so when old age has come upon us, I felt that I ought no longer to delay what I had long and often thought and wished to do. It is a great comfort to me that I at last wrote to you. I had never for a moment felt
for I was not the offended person; and it was ever most painful to me to think that there should be enmity between us, and that I might go to my grave without having endeavoured to remove it. I was not restrained by any false shame; for I should feel shame, on the contrary, for not making an apology, and an ample one too, where one was due. I have already assured you that it was ever farthest from my intention to do you any injury. I was heedless, and in the hurry of the moment I neg. lected to consult you. My manner may have been
offensive. If it was a haughty manner, it ill became me; but I hope and believe that that is a failure of which I could be no longer accused.
But I mean no excuse. In point of fact, I was unfair and unkind to you, though unkindness was farthest from my thoughts. You have taken my apology in the spirit which I hoped you would, and from my heart I thank you. You have relieved me from a distress which has long borne heavily upon me.
“I have now only to add, that, should the occasion of our meeting offer, it will give me great pleasure. I have no longer a house in London, but I go up always for some weeks in the spring; I will let you know when. If you then happen to be in London, let us meet.
“Ever most truly and sincerely yours,
R. Plumer Ward, Esq., to B. Austen, Esq.
Hyde Hlouse, July 2. 1838. “Dear Austen,
“I was quite glad of your letter, for it forces me to write to you, which I have a long time been wishing to do, though a most determined spirit of idleness always prevented my wishes from taking effect. We unfortunately saw so little of you and Mrs. A. in London, that we were ignorant of your summer plans, which, being generally very adventurous, I should like to know. From your letter, however, I conclude