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HOME > Biographical > A Lady of England-The Life and Letters of Charlotte Maria Tucker > CHAPTER XI
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CHAPTER XI
A.D. 1867-1868
GIVING COMFORT TO OTHERS

Three more years only remained to Charlotte of life in the dear old home of her infancy. Those three years passed quietly, marked by no stirring events. On the 11th of December 1867, Otho St. George Hamilton, son of her sister Laura, died at the age of thirteen, after a long illness; and during these years Fanny continued steadily to fail. The delicacy developed into a case of decided consumption, but of a slow and lingering description. A few sentences are culled from the many letters which remain, belonging to this period.

TO MISS ‘LEILA’ HAMILTON.

‘Feb. 1867.

‘I wish my sweet Leila to receive a few lines on her birthday.... Tempus fugit, indeed. When you open this you will be thirteen years old. It seems to me as if each year now were growing more and more important; the stream is widening; the mind is opening; and ... may the heart be opening too to that Love which is beyond all earthly love.

‘I had a pleasant childhood. My mind was very active, as well as my bodily frame; and at your age I dare say that life lay before me, a bright, hope-inspiring thing. It is well that it should be so; it is a kind arrangement of Providence that the young should be usually full of energy and hope. I like to recall how I felt, that I may enter into the feelings of others.

‘Now of course I have not exactly the same kind of landscape before me as I had at thirteen. I am in my forty-sixth year, have[139] known care and sorrow, and have at present but feeble health. And yet, dear, I don’t want to exchange my landscape; I have no wish to go back. I have found that middle age has its deep joys, as well as early youth its sparkling ones. Sometimes I ask myself,—“Now, in my present position, if I had no pleasure in religion, if everything connected with that were cut off, what would be left me?—what would life be to me?” O Leila, what a tasteless, what a bitter thing! We want delights that will not grow old, that will never pall, that will be just as fresh and lovely at eighty as at eighteen. Religion is not merely, as some seem to fancy, to prepare us for death, but to be the happiness of life. It calls indeed for the sacrifice of self-will in a hundred little ways; but it repays those little sacrifices a hundred times over. Just think what it is to realise such thoughts as these,—“The Lord Jesus loves me! I am His own! I shall see Him one day, and be with Him!” How can such thoughts ever lose their sweetness?’

TO THE SAME.

‘April 28, 1867.

‘How different your still, noiseless dwelling must be to ours at present! Not that we have much noise, but sometimes so much seems going on. Yesterday M—— A—— D—— and a young cousin came in the morning; then before they had left Cousin M—— E—— and four fine children, then Uncle St. George and his wife. All this before luncheon; others came after it; and I went to the Poorhouse, and then lodging-hunting with Uncle St. George. He is so sweet and loving and good.... He delights Grandmamma.’

TO THE SAME.

‘July 1, 1867.

‘It is mournfully interesting to read my darling’s papers, of which L—— has brought home many. Her prose is usually lively; her poetry full of tenderness, often very sad.... The two latest dated poems were, I think, written August 14. They were called “An Early Grave” and “All is Vanity.” Every stanza of the first expresses desire for an early departure. The second thus beautifully closes—
“There’s rest beneath the yew; I know
There’s deeper Rest in realms above;
The Saviour’s Arm the valley through
Will me uphold with strengthening love;
My hope His Righteousness; my buckler, faith;
Why should I fear to tread the shades of death?”

[140]

‘If this really be the darling’s last written stanza, what a touching interest it gives it!’

TO MISS B. F. TUCKER.

‘Sept. 9, 1867.

‘Poor little Otho has rallied again, though the doctor holds out no hope of ultimate recovery. This is a sad time for my poor Laura, though there are sorer trials than that of bereavement.’

The Hamiltons were at this time in great trouble, as they watched the long-drawn-out sufferings of their dying boy; and many letters were written by Charlotte to her favourite sister, full of intense feeling. Day by day she lived with them in their sorrow, anxiously looking out for fresh tidings, and thinking what she could say to comfort or soothe.

TO MRS. HAMILTON.

‘Oct. 30, 1867.

‘Precious Sister,—Your touching letter has quickened the spirit of Prayer; but oh, I feel as if my prayers were often so weak and worthless. I want more faith, more earnestness. I have not time to write more, but could not let that letter be unanswered by your loving

‘C. M. T.’

TO THE SAME.

‘Nov. 9, 1867.

‘Fanny and I have been conversing to-night on the subject of your dear suffering boy. You long fervently to see him rejoicing in the prospect of departing and being with Christ. Perhaps the one obstacle to his being able to do so is the thought of parting from you. If his Mother were going with him, he may think, he would be happy to go.

‘Now to me, were I in your darling’s position, there would be comfort and pleasure in the idea—“Perhaps, as regards me, leaving the body will not be real separation from dear ones. Perhaps I may be allowed to come to them, and minister to them, and cheer them; though they cannot see me I may see them!” This idea does not appear opposed to Scripture. The rich man in the parable believed that Lazarus could go to Earth; and Abraham never said that he could not. If dear Otho thought that he might possibly be permitted to watch over his Mother, and help to make her happy, and[141] be one of the first to welcome her to bliss,—perhaps the real bitterness of death would for him seem taken away. It seems quite possible that dear Robin was by his child’s sick-bed, and that she saw him, when her face so lighted up with joy. “I believe in the Communion of Saints.”

‘Your dear boy is very young. A child’s religion seems almost to begin with the Fifth Commandment. We can hardly yet expect dear Otho to love the Lord whom he has not seen more than the parents whom he has seen and fondly loved. Do you not think, darling, that you are almost too anxious on the subject of Otho’s state of mind? He is only a lamb; and the Good Shepherd knows that he needs to be carried.

‘I should like to know when your dear boy takes the Holy Communion, that I may be with you in thought and in prayer. Otho is an invited guest to the Great Feast above; his robe is prepared by his Lord,—don’t fear, love, that it will not be very white and very fair....

‘P.S.—Nov. 10.—I have been thinking much of your dear one in church; and I open my note to add another reason suggested to my mind, as a cause why he may be unable ... to feel joy in the thought of departure. You and I, my Laura, have known many of God’s saints now in bliss; we have almost as many dear friends in the world of spirits as in this. Perhaps we are hardly aware of the influence which this has on our minds,—how it helps to make Heaven a home. Your dear boy may feel that he is going to enter amongst a great company of saints, almost every one of whom is a stranger to him. To one so reserved as Otho, this may be rather an awful thought. I wonder if it is a comfort to him to think of sweet Letitia and Christian[13] being there. Perhaps if you reminded him of that, it might remove a feeling which—if he entertains ............
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