To hear the poor man wish he had never been born!—To hear him pray to be nothing after death! Good God! how shocking!
By his incoherent hints, I am afraid ’tis very bad with him. No pardon, no mercy, he repeats, can lie for him!
I hope I shall make a proper use of this lesson. Laugh at me if thou wilt; but never, never more, will I take the liberties I have taken; but whenever I am tempted, will think of Belton’s dying agonies, and what my own may be.
He is now at the last gasp—rattles in the throat—has a new convulsion every minute almost! What horror is he in! His eyes look like breath-stained glass! They roll ghastly no more; are quite set; his face distorted, and drawn out, by his sinking jaws, and erected staring eyebrows, with his lengthened furrowed forehead, to double its usual length, as it seems. It is not, it cannot be the face of Belton, thy Belton, and my Belton, whom we have beheld with so much delight over the social bottle, comparing notes, that one day may be brought against us, and make us groan, as they very lately did him—that is to say, while he had strength to groan; for now his voice is not to be heard; all inward, lost; not so much as speaking by his eyes; yet, strange! how can it be? the bed rocking under him like a cradle.
gone! that groan, that dreadful groan,
Was the last farewell of the parting mind!
The struggling soul has bid a long adieu
To its late mansion—Fled! Ah! whither fled?
Now is all indeed over!—Poor, poor Belton! by this time thou knowest if thy crimes were above the size of God’s mercies! Now are every one’s cares and attendance at an end! now do we, thy friends,—poor Belton!— know the worst of thee, as to this life! Thou art released from insufferable tortures both of body and mind! may those tortures, and thy repentance, expiate for thy offences, and mayest thou be happy to all eternity!
We are told, that God desires not the death, the spiritual death of a sinner: And ’tis certain, that thou didst deeply repent! I hope, therefore, as thou wert not cut off in the midst of thy sins by the sword of injured friendship, which more than once thou hadst braved, [the dreadfullest of all deaths, next to suicide, because it gives no opportunity for repentance] that this is a merciful earnest that thy penitence is accepted; and that thy long illness, and dreadful agonies in the last stages of it, were thy only punishment.