« PreviousContinue »
has been. She seems to intimate that it would give him. particular pleasure to hear from you. Lord Lyttelton is greatly lamented, as must be imagined. He has long been troubled with a boil, and constant physicking for that, and uneasiness of mind, Dr. Ash thinks, quite broke his constitution. He left his blessing for his son, and desired he might be told that he forgave him. He was speechless for some time; and at last, exerting himself, called Mrs. Lyttelton,' gave her his blessing, lamented her situation, and said that in losing him she had lost her only friend. He then called Lord and Lady Valentia, blessed them, and hoped they would continue to live in virtue, as that would give them peace at the last. Mr. Rogers desires that you would give his compliments to Mr. Lascelles, and let him know that he shall be glad of the pleasure of seeing him at the Hill with you.'
On the 23rd of September she writes
'I had the happiness to receive a very kind letter from you, my ever dear T. R., on Tuesday morning, from Warrington, and was pleased to think that you were drawing so near to your poor deserted wife and her six children, who will all rejoice to receive again their rambling husband and father. You must allow me to be a little saucy by way of variety, though in truth if I was likely to indulge a grave vein the sentiments I constantly feel would lead me to express my gratitude for your unspeakable kindness to me during your absence, your unwearied attention to your own M. R., and the
1 The wife of his worthless son, formerly Mrs. Peach of 'The Leasowes.'
MRS. ROGERS'S LETTERS
kind assurances of love and affection that you were constantly favouring her with. My heart sincerely exults in the agreeable reflection, attended with the truest selfcongratulation, and determines to increase my assiduity to promote his happiness to whom I am united by the most tender and indissoluble ties; and though above thirteen years have elapsed since that—to me, happy— union took place, I have the daily satisfaction to find that the attachment of my heart is more and more strong, and that the chief of all my temporal wishes centre in him.
'We have this morning been taking an agreeable ride that I have been talking of all the summer: it was to see Mrs. Hanson and Mrs. Berthon, and we found neither of them at home. Mr. Berthon lives on the Forest, just beyond Mr. Bosanquet's. It is a pretty part of the country, and, I think, vastly superior to Clapham Common. Samuel Derrick, our Uncle Jo's man, is come here. to-day; he came to London on Sunday, and returns tomorrow morning. He says all friends are well at Derby. Pray tell Mrs. Bowles that all her young folks dined with us yesterday, and were very well and very merry. We had, also, two of the young ladies from Miss Crisp's, and they were altogether a joyous party. I was much obliged by Mrs. Bowles's letter that I received yesterday, and beg my thanks for it. Mrs. Solly and Mrs. Neal made us a long morning visit yesterday. Mrs. Solly says that they were prevented dining with us early in the summer by the children having the whooping cough; and that they intended sending to us the week you left home, but were prevented by hearing of your journey. They,
however, fully intend it, but must leave it till they come to London.'
These letters sufficiently indicate what manner of woman Mrs. Rogers was. They have been carefully preserved by her descendants, and have kept alive the memory of her virtues as a mother and a wife. She is described as a handsome and accomplished woman, of much vivacity, popular in society, and tenderly beloved by her own household. She was firm and strict in her domestic administration, but so tender and gentle that these were the chief characteristics which afterwards dwelt in the memory of her children. I was taught by my mother,' said Rogers to Mr. Dyce, 'to be tenderly kind towards the meanest living thing, and, however people may laugh, I sometimes very carefully put a stray gnat or wasp out of my window.' So do childhood's lessons survive, and a mother's teaching endures. In Mrs. Rogers's diary we get another view of her character -see what Wordsworth calls the very pulse of the machine.' Like her father she was introspective, apt to sit in judgment on herself, fond of putting her good resolutions on record. In these sessions of sweet silent thought,' she, like Shakespeare in the sonnet, would 'summon up remembrance of things past,' and in respect, not of outward happiness but of inward character, 'sigh the lack of many a thing' she sought. Into this secrecy there is no need that we should further look. Such a diary is a sacred thing, which only love and reverence should scan. It contains passages from Dr. Price's sermons which show the great influence of his thoughtful
ROGERS AND HIS MOTHER
genius on her inward life. It was a life nobly planned, and her husband's testimony, when with dimmed eyes he read this record of her pious resolutions, was that it was nobly executed. In understanding,' he says, ' she was equalled by few; in humility, good nature, cheerfulness, benevolence, and tenderness of disposition, a constant desire to please, and in the amiable discharge of every relative and social duty, by none.' She died on the 11th of July, 1776, three weeks after the birth of her eleventh child, who survived her only a couple of months. Samuel Rogers was then within three weeks of the completion of his thirteenth year.
In his poem of Human Life' Rogers gives a glimpse of his own boyhood, and shows how vivid was his recollection of his mother's tenderness.
He walks, he speaks. In many a broken word
When rosy sleep comes on with sweet surprise-
But soon a nobler task demands her care;
Released, he chases the bright butterfly;
Flings off the coat so much his pride and pleasure,
His tiny spade in his own garden plies,
And in green letters sees his name arise.
In the notes to the same poem Rogers says: We have many friends in life, but we can only have one mother"a discovery," says Gray, "which I never made till it was too late." The child is no sooner born than he clings to his mother, nor while she lives is her image absent from him in the hour of his distress. Sir John Moore, when he fell from his horse in the battle of Corunna, faltered out with his dying breath some message to his mother. And who can forget the last words of Conradin when, in his fifteenth year, he was led forth to die at Naples ?—“ O my mother, how great will be your grief when you hear of it!" "