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“ FOR MAGGIE.”
“This is for Maggie. At the mouth of the Conway was a weir for catching fish, which belonged in very ancient times to the brother of the lord of these parts about Great Ormeshead. He had a son named Elfin, who had wasted all his substance, and wearied out his father's goodness, and was brought to great straits. He begged, as a last boon from his father, the weir for one night, thinking to catch many fish. But in the morning there was not one, only there was a basket, and a baby in it. He took the infant boy, and was careful of his upbringing. This boy grew to be Taliesin, the prince of all the British bards, who afterwards lived to reconcile his patron with his father. . . . God keep you all, my dear children, and make you more and more abound to His glory.”
Flint, 12th October. - The service is in Welsh this forenoon, and so I am at my inn, where indeed they have most tenderly treated me. It is English in the evening, and, God willing, I will go up to His house. Now, my dear, I write you again this day, though it will be the companion of my last night's letter, to express my decided judgment that you should not any longer be separated from me. My God is sufficient for me, I know; and He hath been my sufficiency during these three days and nights of the sharpest fiery trial, both of flesh and heart, which I have ever proved. I believe that upon my saddle, and by the strength of faith, I have fought against the most severe bilious fever. How in the night seasons the Psalms have been my consolations against the faintings of flesh and heart! And I believe God hath guided me to do things which were the very means of dispelling those fears and troubles. Last night I slept well from half-past nine till two, then I counted the hours as they chimed out from the clock on the staircase; and so I lay, parched with thirst and inward heat, and yet chilly, my head full of pain, my heart of fainting, but my faith steadfast. I felt that there was much of nervousness in it, and that by some strong act I must dissolve it. The footpan, with the water that had been hot, but now was wintry cold (for last night was very chill), stood by
RENEWED ILLNESS : YEARNS FOR HIS WIFE.
the bedside, and a little jug which had contained boiling water to keep up the temperature, was standing by its side. It was the breaking of the morning. I threw off flannels and stockings, and stood with my feet in the cold water, and poured with the jug the cold water from my shoulders downward. . . . . and all at once was a changed man, and had some winks of sleep.
“And again, when I had desired the maid to bring my breakfast to me in bed, purposing to keep my bed all day, or some considerable part of it, it occurred to me that this also was yielding to the disease, and I instantly arose, dressed myself, ate my breakfast -a mutton chop, stale bread, and tea, and went out and walked for half an hour by the seashore, breathing such health and sweetness from the air of heaven.
“ (Monday night, Liverpool, Mr. Tarbet's).-The Lord hath made vain the remedies of man. The last three days have been the days and nights of sorest trial I ever had. . . . The fevered heat of my hands and head in the night season, and the sleepless hours appointed to me are indeed a new thing in the history of my trouble. Yet I am strong, witness my riding this day twenty-four miles. Nor have I any fears of myself; but I am strangely, strangely held, deeply afflicted. I felt myself shut up to the necessity of going direct from Liverpool to Greenock by the steamboat. I have written my mother, and proposed going that way, but have put it off. God may give me liberty as I return. Now I feel unable to take care of myself, and my calm judgment is that you should be my nurse and companion. I write not these things to trouble you, but to put you in possession of the truth. I will any way abide your answer here. ... I now think Maggie should not come. In great haste not to lose the post, “Your faithful and loving husband,
“ Edwd. IRVING. “Oh, how I have longed after you in heart and spirit!”
“Liverpool, 13th October. “MY DEAREST ISABELLA,–.... Last night I had comparatively good rest, and was able to keep down the fever and
WELL WITH THE JUST MAN AT THE LAST.
prevent the perspiration by timeous sponging with vinegar and water. What it indicates I know not, but I have had to-day and last night a good deal of those cold creepings upon the skin which Dr. Darling used to inquire about. I think, before you leave London, you should let bim know these things. There is nothing I have kept back from you.
“Now, my dear, I have sought to serve God, and I do put my trust in Him; therefore I am not afraid. He hath sore chastised me, but not given me over to death. I shall yet live and discover His wonderful works. I have oft felt as if one of the ends of the Lord in His visitation were to constrain me to send for you at this point of my progress; and that another was to preclude me from further journeying on horseback into these parts of England and into Scotland. At the same time, in your coming, if you see it your duty to come, proceed tenderly and carefully in respect to yourself, coming by such stages as you can bear. I hope you will find me greatly better under this quiet and hospitable roof.
“Be of good courage, my dear wife, and bear thy trials, as thou hast ever done, with yet more and more patience and fortitude. It will be well with the just man at the last. Now farewell. The blessing of God be upon you all. “Your faithful and loving husband,
“ EDWD. IRVING."
Thus ended for ever the correspondence between the husband and wife. The history of that lingering journey, with its breezes of health, its hopes of recovery, its pauses of refreshment among the sweet Welsh valleys, where the parish priests of a national church, more powerful but less absolute than his own, opened wide their doors and their hearts to his presence and his counsels ; the bits of legend picked up for his little Maggie ; the silent progress along mountain paths, all sanctified with prayer, where "the Lord laid " such a one " on his heart;" the forlorn temerity with which, fainting and fevered, he pushes on,
ALARM OF HIS RELATIONS.
no longer aware of the landscape or of the people round him, brought down to bare existence, hard enough ado to keep his frame erect on the saddle, and to retain light enough to guide his way in those dimmed eyes; the yearning that seizes upon him at last for the companion of his life, bursting out pathetically in that exclamation which he puts down after his letter is finished, at the end, in an irrepressible outcry—“Oh how I have longed after you in heart and spirit!”— all is clearer written in these letters than in anything that could be added to them. His wife obeyed his call at once, and joined him in Liverpool. Again her sisters write to each other, wringing their hands with a grief and impatience which can scarcely express itself in words. “Isabella set off for Liverpool on Thursday," says Mrs. Hamilton; “ in her letter she says she found Edward looking much worse than when he left home, his strength considerably reduced, and his pulse 100. Notwithstanding this, they were, she said, to sail for Glasgow on Monday, and so proceed to the ultimate object which was in view in Mr. Irving's leaving home, - his going to Glasgow to organize a church there. Oh me! it is sad, sad to think of his deliberately sacrificing himself! Dr. Darling has decidedly said that he cannot, humanly speaking, live over the winter, unless he retire to a milder climate and be entirely at rest. Yet at this inclement season they proceed northward, and take that cold and boisterous passage too, by way
of making bad worse.” No wonder those affectionate spectators were touched with the anger of grief in their powerless anguish, finding it impossible to turn him for a moment from the path to which he believed
VOYAGE TO GREENOCK.
himself ordained, and compelled to look on and see him consummate all his sacrifices with this offering of his life.
The weather was boisterous and stormy, but the dying apostle, — who was not an apostle, nor amid all the gifts that surrounded him, anyway gifted, except as God in nature and grace had endowed His faithful servant— did not depart from his purpose. He went to Greenock, accompanied by his wife, whose heart was delivered from all wifely and womanish terrors by andoubting confidence in that “word of the Lord” which had promised him a great and successful mission in Scotland. At Greenock they seem to have encountered Mrs. Stewart Ker, a lady of singular piety, whom Irving valued highly, and whose remarkable letters, though not published, are known and prized by many good people. In one of these letters, dated October 25th, 1834, she thus describes his changed appearance, and the manner in which he entered Glasgow:
“To human appearance he is sinking under a deep consumption. His gigantic frame bears all the marks of age and weakness; his tremendous voice is now often faltering, and when occasionally he breaks forth with all his former feeling, one sees that his bodily powers are exhausted. Add to all this the calm, chastened dignity of his expression - his patient waiting upon God for the fulfilment of His purposes to himself and his flock through this affliction, and it is exceedingly edifying. ...I was going to Glasgow with them; and just before we left the house, he lifted up his hands in blessing, commending them (the family under whose roof he was) to Jesus, and to the reward of His grace, for their kindness to him. I had a great deal of conversation with him in the boat. ... In driving through the