Page images
PDF
EPUB

she had been, must often be veiled by the darkness of cherished sorrow;—and that genuine sensibility flourishes not on the rugged highway of common life, but delights to expand its blossoms in the shelter and secresy of fostering kindness.

A sudden descent of the French on the Sicilian shores, in the year 1808, obliged the English to leave that country in haste. After a stormy and dangerous passage of several weeks, exposed to all the inconveniences of a crowded transport, Colonel and Mrs. Sturgeon arrived at Portsmouth. A short time before they landed, Mrs. S. had given birth to a delicate and drooping boy; whose death, soon after, seems to have put a finishing stroke to her sufferings, at Hythe, in Kent.

The following letter from her brother, enclosing an unfinished one from herself, describes the termination of a life so sad, so affecting, and so eventful, in such touching and simple language, that I cannot resist the temptation to introduce them in this place, although there are expressions in them which I would willingly omit, as dictated only by the partiality of friendship.

Radish's Hotel, St. James's Street,

London, May 8, 1808. “My Dear Madam, “I know how heartily you 'll participate in the feelings with which I announce to you the death of your poor friend, my lamented Sarah. I would willingly spare myself this distressing office; but I cannot expose one whom she so loved, to the risk of stumbling inadvertently, in a public paper, on a piece of intelligence so affecting, and so illustrative of the vanity of every affection fixed on that side of the grave at which she has left us. I wish also to convey to you a testimony that her thoughts never strayed from you, and that, to the hour of her death, you were the object of her affection. The enclosed unfinished letter is the last she ever wrote. In it you will find a very mitigated statement of her sufferings. I can anticipate the satisfaction you will derive from the strong sense of religious impressions which marks her letters; and I, at the same time, congratulate and thank you, for having cultivated in her the seeds of that consoling confidence, which cheered her departing moments, and stripped death, if not of its anguish, yet of its greatest horrors. The hopes held out by her physicians were, alas! more humane than well grounded; she expired at half-past five, on the morning of the 5th Inst., of a rapid decline. To describe my sorrow would be but to write her eulogy. You know all the various qualities with which she was so eminently gifted, and the consequent pangs I must feel at so abrupt and calamitous a dispensation. I am now on my way, with her afflicted widower, accompanying her remains, which she wished to lie in her native land. I enclose you a lock of her hair,-it was cut off after her death. Adieu! my dear Madam.— I make no apology for this melancholy intrusion; and I beg to assure you, that one, in whose acquirements and disposition she found so much that was kindred to her own, can never cease to be an object of most respectful esteem and attachment to a brother that loved her as I did. “I remain your obliged friend and humble servant,

“RICHARD CURRAN. “ To Mrs. Henry W ." (Unfinished letter, inclosed in the foregoing.)

Hythe, April 17th. “My Dear M“I suppose you do not know of my arrival from Sicily, or I should have heard from you. I must be very brief in my detail of the events which have proved so fatal to me, and which followed our departure from that country.

A most dreadful and perilous passage occasioning me many frights, I was, on our entrance into the Channel, prematurely delivered of a boy, without any assistance, save that of one of the soldiers' wives, the only woman on board except myself. The storm being so high that no boat could stand out at sea, I was in imminent danger till twelve next day, when, at the risk of his life, a physician came on board from one of the other ships, and relieved me. The storm continued, and I got a brain fever, which, however, passed off. To be short, on landing at Portsmouth, the precious creature for whom I had suffered so much, God took to himself. The inexpressible anguish I felt at this event, preying on me, has occasioned the decay of my health. For the last month, the contest between life and death has seemed doubtful, but this day, having called in a very clever man here, he seems not to think me in danger. My disorder is a total derangement of the nervous system, and its most dreadful effects I find in the attack on my mind and spirits. I suffer misery you cannot conceive-Iam often seized with icy perspirations, trembling, and that indescribable horror, which you must know, if you have ever had a fever. Write instantly to me. Alas ! I want every thing to soothe my mind. Oh! my friend, would to heaven you were with me!-nothing so much as the presence of a dear female friend would tend to my recovery. But in England, you know how I am situated ; not one I know intimately. To make up for this, my beloved husband is everything to me, - his conduct throughout all my troubles, surpasses all praise. Write to me, dear M- , and tell me how to bear all these things. I have, truly speaking, cast all my care on the Lord,—but oh! how our weak natures fail every day, every hour, I may say. On board the ship, when all seemed adverse to hope, it is strange how an overstrained trust in certain' words of our Saviour, gave me such perfect faith in his help, that although my baby was visibly pining away, I never doubted his life for a moment. “He who gathers the lambs in his arms,' I thought, would look down on mine, if I had faith in him. This has often troubled me since.” The last request Mrs. S. made to her father was, that she might be buried under her favourite tree at the Priory. She was spared the cruelty of a refusal; as, after her death, Mr. C. said he would not have his lawn turned into a churchyard ;' and she was buried at the little village of Newmarket, in the county of Cork, where her father was born. Colonel Sturgeon did not long survive her: he was killed in Portugal, during the Peninsular war, by a random shot fired from a vineyard, at a party of stragglers following our troops, who were often thus rewarded by the poor deluded natives, on account of their supposed heresy!

In person, Mrs. S. was about the ordinary size, - her hair and eyes black. Her complexion was fairer than is usual with black hair, and was a little freckled. Her eyes were large, soft, and brilliant; and capable of the greatest variety of expression. Her aspect in general, indicated reflection, and pensive abstraction from the scene around her. Her wit was keen and playful; but chastised; although no one had a quicker perception of humour or ridicule. Her musical talents were of the first order: she sang with exquisite taste; I think I never heard so harmonious a voice.

M.

Printed by S. Manning & Co., London-House Yard, St. Paul's.

« PreviousContinue »