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Chapter 25
THREE or four years after the birth of her daughter, Christina had had one more child. She had never been strong since she married, and had a presentiment that she should not survive this last confinement. She accordingly wrote the following letter, which was to be given, as she endorsed upon it, to her sons when Ernest was sixteen years old. It reached him on his mother’s death many years later, for it was the baby who died now, and not Christina. It was found among papers which she had repeatedly and carefully arranged, with the seal already broken. This, I am afraid, shows that Christina had read it and thought it too creditable to be destroyed when the occasion that had called it forth had gone by. It is as follows —

“BATTERSBY, March 15th, 1841.

“MY TWO DEAR BOYS — When this is put into your hands will you try to bring to mind the mother whom you lost in your childhood, and whom, I fear, you will almost have forgotten? You, Ernest, will remember her best, for you are past five years old, and the many, many times that she has taught you your prayers and hymns and sums and told you stories, and our happy Sunday evenings will not quite have passed from your mind, and you, Joey, though only four, will perhaps recollect some of these things. My dear, dear boys, for the sake of that mother who loved you very dearly — and for the sake of your own happiness for ever and ever — attend to and try to remember, and from time to time read over again the last words she can ever speak to you. When I think about leaving you all, two things press heavily upon me: one, your father’s sorrow (for you, my darlings, after missing me a little while, will soon forget your loss), the other, the everlasting welfare of my children. I know how long and deep the former will be, and I know that he will look to his children to be almost his only earthly comfort. You know (for I am certain that it will have been so), how he has devoted his life to you and taught you and laboured to lead you to all that is right and good. Oh, then, be sure that you are his comforts. Let him find you obedient, affectionate, and attentive to his wishes, upright, self-denying, and diligent; let him never blush for or grieve over the sins and follies of those who owe him such a debt of gratitude, and whose first duty it is to study his happiness. You have both of you a name which must not be disgraced, a father and a grandfather of whom to show yourselves worthy; your respectability and well-doing in life rest mainly with yourselves, but far, far beyond earthly respectability and well-doing, and compared with which they are as nothing, your eternal happiness rests with yourselves. You know your duty, but snares and temptations from without beset you, and the nearer y............
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