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ve lithe Atland imp. in his om
tion; for, on hearing the organ peal forth its solemn harmonies, he burst into tears, and from that moment felt relief, and could submit and worship, and no longer sorrow as (for himself) without hope. “There is no love like a mother's love," wrote Moore to his mother from across the Atlantic, when relating an incident in his travels that had touched and impressed him. And when, some thirty years later, he had to enter in his diary the loss of her whom, whatever his failings, he had never failed to love dearly, he added these words: “The difference it makes in life to have lost such a mother, those only who have had that blessing, and have lost it, can feel : it is like a part of one's life going out of one." Worthy of all acceptation and constant remembrance is Jean Paul Richter's exclamation : “Oh, thou who hast still a mother, thank God for it on the day when thy soul is full of glad tears, and needs a bosom wherein to shed them !” Alive, she continues to be, as it were, a fountain of life to him whose life without hers had not been; a fountain, he may say with the poet, at his fond heart's door, whose only business is to flow; and flow it does, not taking count of its own bounty, or of his need. But, between this fontal life and that “mere negation," death, there is indeed a great gulf fixed. “But she is in her grave, and oh, the difference to me!”
Had I to name another text of Scripture which should best enhance the expressiveness of the words, “as one that mourneth for his mother,” it should be a fragment from the greatest of the greater prophets,—"as one whom his mother comforteth” (Isa. lxvi. 13). The one text most touchingly sets off the other. No such other comforter, soother, tranquilliser, here below; and therefore no such loss as the loss of that hitherto ever present and very present help in the time of trouble. Dante, in beginning the twenty-second canto of “Il Paradiso," likens himself running astounded to the guardian of his steps, to
“... the child, who always runs
Thither for succour, where he trusteth most;
Loving readers of Elia's essays may remember a gentle Lamblike passage, descriptive of the return home, after years of absence, of one over whom his mother wept tears of joy at the return, as she had wept tears of sorrow at the departure; tears which that son would recall in his own dotage, when the dead and gone mother could weep tears of joy or sorrow never more. “But then, the excitement subsiding," writes Elia, "he would weep, till I have wished that sad second childhood might have a mother still to lay its head upon her lap. But the common mother of all in no long time after received him gently into hers." To Lamb's own friend, Southey, we owe the lines which record the vision of a dead mother to one whose heart may well be wrung with “compunctious visitings” at the fancied sound of her voice, long stilled, once stilling:
fill I have to lay its head time after
"... It was that voice
Which sung his fretful infancy to sleep
Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, discoursing in his pleasant professorial way on the sombre thoughts and fancies that are apt to beset even grown men in the dark and all alone, when one's whole body seems but one great nerve of hearing, and one "sees the phosphorescent flashes of his own eyeballs as they turn so suddenly in the direction of the last strange noise,” -goes on to profess, or confess (“old babies that we are !") that a man is apt at such times to get very nervous or foolish, and remember how pleasant it used to be to have his mother come and tuck him up, and go and sit within call, so that she could hear at any minute if he got very much scared and wanted her. “A mother,” says Frederick Perthes, “by the sick bed of her child, teaches us the full power which lies in human nature; the father is appalled at his own comparative backwardness.” A modern poet contrasts father's with mother's dealing with the sick child's cry for the star :
“ Ah, folly!' sighs the father, o'er his book;
Millions of miles above thy foolish nook
Beams in his own bright eyes when he awakes.” And that arch allusion to even Dutch mothers reminds us of what a pen-painter of Dutch pictures says of a mother being to little children the centre of love, the father an after acquaintance, who improves upon acquaintance too; but she is always with them, to love, to soothe, to caress, to care for, to watch over. “When a child wakes up, hot and .feverish from some night dream, it is upon his mother he calls. Each childish pain, each childish grief, each childish difficulty, is to be soothed, assuaged, explained, by her. The pair have no secrets; they understand each other. The child clings to her. The little boy, in the Greek epigram, that was creeping down a precipice, was invited to his safety, when nothing else could induce him to return, by the sight of his mother's breast.” The sorrowing man, in Mr. Coventry Patmore's long poem, writes in his dejection to “my mother, now my only friend," and utters the wistful, regretful longing :
"... Would I might
But be your little child to-night,
Truism though it be, touching for all time to all who ponder on it, of woman born, must and will be Gray's memorable saying on the one mother and the only one. “I have long discovered,” he writes to Mr. Nichols, “a thing very little known, which is, that in one's whole life one can never have more than a single mother. You may think this is obvious, and what you call a trite observation. You are a green gosling! I was at the same age (very near) as wise as you, and yet I never discovered this (with full evidence and conviction, I mean) till it was too late. It is thirteen years ago, and every day I live it sinks deeper into my heart.” Byron's announcement by letter to Dr. Pigott of his mother's death the day before (Aug. 1, 1811) contains the avowal, “ I now feel the truth of Mr. Gray's observation, that we can only have one mother.'” Washington Irving writes to Mr. Kennedy in 1854: “I condole with you sincerely on the loss of your mother, for, from my own experience, it is one of the losses which sink deepest in the heart. It is upwards of thirty years since I lost mine, then at an advanced age; yet I dream of her to this day, and wake up with tears on my cheeks.” 1
1 In his collected essays and sketches Geoffrey Crayon had pictured the pilgrimage of a battered worldling, the worse for the world's wear and tear, to his mother's grave. The pilgrim's heart had gradually been filling during his lonely tramp, but at the graveside it was charged to the brim and overflowed. “I sunk upon the grave, and buried my face in the tall grass, and wept like a child. Yes, I wept in manhood upon the grave, as I had in infancy upon the bosom, of my mother. Alas ! how little do we appreciate a mother's tenderness while living ! how heedless are we in youth of all her anxieties and kindness! But when she is dead and gone; when the cares and coldness of the world come withering to our hearts; when we find how hard it is to meet with true sympathy, how few love us for ourselves, how few will befriend us in our misfortunes, then it is that we think of the mother we have lost. It is true I had always loved my mother, even in my most heedless days; but I felt how inconsiderate and ineffectual had been my love. My heart melted as I retraced the days of infancy, when I was led by a mother's hand, and rocked to sleep in a mother's arms, and was without care or sorrow. 'O my mother !' I exclaimed, burying my face again in the grass of the grave; "oh that I were once more by your side, sleeping never to wake again on the cares and troubles of this world.""
Readers of Mr. Windham's Diary may remember the entries that eminent statesman, warm-hearted man, and finished gentleman makes in memoriam of his aged mother (fourscore years old when she died)—"whose happiness I might have completed by sacrifices so slight as hardly to be known under that character. What a bitter reflection that this was not done!” How bitter, he goes on to say, harping on the old string, a heartstring too that jars painfully on the nervous system and the emotional centres of all of us,-how bitter are those regrets which spring from the consciousness of omissions towards persons whom death has taken from us ; to whom no compensation
In the presence of a mother, the author of the New Phædo has said, we feel that our childhood has not all departed : it is as a barrier between ourselves and the advance of time.
can be made ; whom no sentiments of kindness can reach ; who cannot even have the satisfaction of knowing the pain which that reflection excites in us! “How different would my state of mind be at present, had I acted for some years past under impressions similar to those which I now feel. · .. 'T is dreadful to think how much happiness has been lost to a person whose happiness I was bound by so many ties to promote, merely for want of such attentions as it would have cost me nothing to pay.... All that I forbore to do, short of a studious attention to her happiness, stands as a direct charge against myself and a source of lasting reproach which time can never wholly efface.”—Diary of the Rt. Hon. W. Windham, pp. 247, seq.
Some suggestive thoughts on a practical aspect of this state of feeling occur in the story of An Old Debt, where a self-upbraider who declines to be comforted, because the would-be comforter has no such reasons as she has for keen and unsparing self reproach, is answered: “I believe the only difference in the feeling in which we regard the dead must be some shades more or less of self reproach. But there is no feeling that is not meant either to be conquered or translated into action. Life is not long enough for emotion that ends with itself.” “How can we put our self reproach into action when the subjects of it exist no longer ? “When they exist no longer ?” he repeated, with a grave smile. " When they are removed beyond the reach of our actions, then.” “Their wishes live still.” “Do they? Does anything survive the grave, do you think, that binds us to one person more than another?” “I believe in the immortality of the soul-not of that small, poor, dwindled part which would survive if all individual affections were obliterated. How far the opportunities we have thrown away may be found again on the other side of the grave, whether all that might have been here may be there, no human being can say ; but every human being can be sure that the only thing that makes this life worth having will not be absent from the next."
Schleiermacher congratulates an endeared correspondent on the grateful suffering she has to endure in tending an aged, if not dying mother. "Ah, there are few things in the world more beautiful than this. Indeed, I know of none.... Had but the happiness been vouchsafed me," he goes on to say, to sweeten the last moments and to close the eyes of a parent of his own, absence from whom at that time, and all but estrangement from whom long previously, he never ceased to deplore,—“most willingly would I have borne the impaired health which might have been the consequence, as in your case. Oh, dear friend, enjoy with melancholy but calm consciousness, and undisturbed by any considerations that might possibly deter you, the last great banquet perhaps that your filial heart has prepared for itself.” The counsel is at one with that of the poet to "a child embracing his mother”- where he bids the little one love his mother, kiss and clasp her neck again, for hereafter she may have a son will kiss and clasp her neck in vain ; bids him gaze upon her living eyes, and mirror back her love for him, mindful of a coming day when he may sigh and shudder to meet them in their sightless stare; bids him press her lips the while they