“There was an extraordinary appearance of youth about him, both for some time before and after death. He looked more like a boy of fourteen, and very beautiful. We did not like to let in the morning light, and the candle was burning at nine o’clock, when the post brought the following letter, which my sister and myself glanced over by the candle-light, just as we were listening to his decreasing breath. At the moment it did not strike me with the astonishment, at such an extraordinary coincidence, that when we came to read it afterwards it did.
“’Brighton, Dec. 7th, 1859.
“’My Dear De Quincey,—Before I quit this world, I most ardently desire to see your handwriting. In early life, that is, more than sixty years ago, we were school-fellows together and mutually attached; nay, I remember a boyish paper ("The Observer”) in which we were engaged. Yours has been a brilliant literary career, mine far from brilliant, but I hope not unuseful as a theological student. It seems a pity we should not once more recognize one another before quitting the stage. I have often read your works, and never without remembering the promise of your talents at Winkfield. My life has been almost a domestic tragedy. I have four children in lunatic-asylums. Thank God, it is now drawing to a close; but it would cheer the evening of my days to receive a line from you, for I am, with much sincerity,
“’Your old and attached friend,
“I do not remember the name of G., but the name of Edward constantly recurred in his wanderings.
“Half an hour after the reading of that letter we heard those last pathetic sighs, so terrible from their very softness, and saw the poor, worn-out garment laid aside.” Just before he died, he looked around the room, and said very tenderly to the nurse, the physician, and his daughters, who were present, “Thank you,—thank you all!” Sensible thus to the very last of kindness, he breathed out his life in simple thanks, swayed even in death by the spirit of profound courtesy that had ruled his life.
A STORY IN THREE PARTS.
“Here’s something Gus Lewis would like to send by you, mother,” said my hasty boy John, plunging into the room at nine in the evening, and stumbling over two trunks, three valises, and bandboxes countless.
The floor was strewn with bundles, and the mantel-piece adorned with letters, directed to Springfield, Hartford, New Haven, and New York.
“Oh! ah! yes. Any packages, if not too large,” said I, wistfully eying the box, (a foot square,) full of fresh maple-sugar, with its card of direction to “Mrs. Lulu L., by the politeness of Mrs. Prince.” Boy-like.
“First of all, my John, go you to bed, where Charley has been this half-hour, and say good-bye, for we shall be off before you are up.”