« PreviousContinue »
THIS thing is so rare in all its circumstances, and on so good authority, that my reading and conversation have not given me any thing like it: it is fit to gratify the most ingenious and serious inquirer. Mrs. Bargrave is the person to whom Mrs. Veal appeared after her deatb: she is my intimate friend, and I can avouch for her reputation for these last fifteen or sixteen years, on my knowledge; and I can confirm the good character she had from her youth, to the time of my acquaintance: though since this relation she is calumniated by some people, that are friends to the brother of Mrs. Veal who appeared, who think the relation of this appearance to be a reflection, and endeavour what they can to blast Mrs. Bargrave's reputation, and to Jaugh the story out of countenance. But by the circumstances thereof, and the cheerful disposition of Mrs. Bargrave, notwithstanding the ill usage of a very wicked husband, there is not the least sign of dejection in her face; nor did I ever hear her let fall a desponding or murmuring expression; nay, not when actually under her husband's barbarity, which I have been witness to, and several other persons of undoubted reputation,
Now you must know, Mrs. Veal was a maiden gentle. woman of about thirty years of age, and for some years last past had been troubled with fits, which were perceived coming on by her going off from her discourse very abruptly, to some impertinence : she was maintained by an only brother, and kept his house in Dover. She was a very pious woman, and her brother a very sober man to ali appearance; but now he does all he can to null or quash the story. Mrs. Veal was intimately acquainted with Mrs. Bargrave from her childhood. Mrs. Veal's circumstances were then mean: her father did not take care of his children as he ought, so that they were exposed to hardships: And Mrs. Bargrave in those days had as unkind a father, though she wanted neither for food nor clothing, whilst Mrs. Veal wanted for both, insomuch that she would often say, “ Mrs. Bargrave, you are not only the best, but the only friend I have in the world ; and no circumstance in life shall ever dissolve my friendship. They would often condole each other's adverse fortunes, and read together Drelincourt on Death, and other good books : and so, like cwo Christian friends, they comforted each other under their sorrow.
Some time after, Mr. Veal's friends got him a place in the Custom-house at Dover, which occasioned Mrs. Veal, by little and little, to fall off from her intimacy with Mrs. Bargrave, though there never was any such thing as a quarrel, but an indifferency came on by degrees, till at last Mrs. Bargiave had not seen her in two years and a half; though above a twelvémonth of the time Mrs. Bargrave hath been absent from Dover, and this last half year hath been in Canterbury about two months of the time, dwelling in an house of her own.
In this house, on the eighth of September; One Thousand Seven Hundred and Five, she was sitting alone in the fore. noon, thinking over her unfortunate life, and arguing her. • self into a due resignation to Providence, though her condition seemed hard : “ And,” said she, “ I have been provided for hitherto, and doubt not but I shall be still; and am well satisfied, that my afflictions shall end when it is most fit for me :” and then took up her sewing work, which she had no sooner done, but she hears a knocking at the door. She went to see who was there, and this proved to be Mrs. Veal, her old friend, who was in a riding habit: at that moment of time the clock struck twelve at noon.'
“ Madam,” says Mrs. Bargrave, “ I am surprised to see you, you have been so long a stranger :" but told her she was gla I to see her, and offered to salute ber; which Mrs.
Veal complied with, till their lips almost touched : and then Mrs. Veal drew her hand across her own eyes, and said, “ I am not very well;" and so waved it. She told Mrs. Bargrave she was going a journey, and had a great mind to see her first : “ But,” says Mrs. Bargrave, “bow came you to take a journey alone ? I am amazed at it, because I know you have a fond brother.” “Oh!” says Mrs. Veal, “ I gave my brother the slip, and came away, because I had so great a desire to see you before I took my journey.” So Mrs. Bargrave went in with her into another room within the first; and Mrs. Veal sat her down in an elbow chair, in which Mrs. Bargrave was sitting when she heard Mrs. Veal knock. Then says Mrs. Veal, “ My dear friend, I am come to renew our old friendship again, and beg your pardon for the breach of it: and if you can forgive me, you are the best of women.”. “Oh!" says Mrs. Ba:grave, “ do not mention such a thing: I have not had an uneasy thought about it; I can easily forgive it.” “ What did you think of me?" said Mrs. Veal. Says Mirs. Bargrave, “ I thought you were like the rest of the world, and that pros
perity had made you forget yourself and me.” Then Mrs. · Veal reminded Mrs. Dargrave of the many friendly offices
she did her in former days, and much of the conversation they had with each other in the times of their adversity; what books they read, and what comfort, in particular, they received from Drelincourt's Beck of Death, which was the best, she said, on that subject ever written. She also mentioned Dr. Sherlock, the two Dutch books which were translated, written upon death, and several others; but Drelincourt, she said, had the clearest notions of death, and of the future state, of any who had handled that subject. Then she asked Mrs. Bargrave whether she had Drelincourt? She said, “ Yes.” Says Mrs. Veal, “ Fetch it.” And so Alis. Bargrave goes up stairs, and brings it down. Says Mrs. Veal, “ Dear Mrs. Bargrave, if the eyes of our faith were as open
as the eyes of our body, we should see numbers of angels about us for our guard. The notions we have of heaven now, are nothing like what it is, as Drelincourt says. Therefore be comforted under your afflictions, and believe that the Almighty has a particular regard'for you, and that your afiictions are marks of God's favour ; and when they have done the business they are sent for, they shall be removed - from you. And believe me, my dear friend, believe what I say to you ; one minute of future happiness will infinitely reward you for all your sufferings; for I can never believe” [and claps her hands upon her knees with great earnestness, which indeed ran through most of her discourse,] “that ever God will suffer you to spend all your days in this afflicted state : but be assured, that your aMictions will leave you, or you them, in a short time.” She spake in that pathetical and heavenly manner, that Mrs. Bargrave wept several times, she was so deeply affected with it.
Thien Mrs. Veal mentioned Dr. Herneck's Ascetic, at the end of which he gives an account of the lives of the primitive Christians. Their pattern she recommended to our imitation, and said, “ Their conversation was not like this of our age: for now,” says she, “there is nothing but frothy, vain discourse, which is far different from theirs. Theirs was to edification, and to build one another up in faith ; so that they were not as we are, nor are we as they were: but," said she, “ we ought to do as they did. There was a hearty friendship among them ; but where is it now to be found?” Says Mrs. Bargrave,“ It is hard indeed to find a true friend in these days.” Says Mrs. Veal, “ Mr. Norris has a fine copy of verses, called Friendship in Perfection, which I wondert ully admire. Have you seen the, book ?” says Mrs. Veal. “No,” says Mrs. Bargrave, “ but I have the verses of my own writing out.” “ Have you?” says Mrs. Veal. "then fetch them.” Which she did from above stairs, and
offered offered them to Mrs. Veal to read, who refused, and waved the thing, saying, holding down her head would make it, ache ; and then desired Mrs. Bargrave to read them for her, which she did. As they were admiring friendship, Mrs. Veal said, “ Dear Mrs. Bargrave, I shall love you for ever.” In these verses there is twice used the word Elysian. “Ah!” says Mrs. Veal,“ these poets have such names for heaven!” She would often draw her hand across her own eyes, and say, “Mrs. Bargrave, do not you think I am mightily impaired by my fits?” “ No,” says Mrs. Bragrave, “ I think you look as well as ever I knew you." .
After all this discourse, which the Apparition put in much finer words than Mrs. Bargrave said she could pretend to, and as much more than she can remember (for it cannot be thought that an hour and three quarter's conversation could be retained, though the main of it she thinks she does,) she said to Mrs. Bargrave," She would have her write a letter to her brother, and tell him, she would have him give rings to such and such ; and that there was a purse of gold in her cabinet, and that she would have two broad pieces given'to her cousin Watson.'
Talking at this rate, Mrs. Bargrave thought that a fit . was coming upon her, and so placed herself in a chair just before her knees, to keep her from falling to the ground, if her fits should occasion it, (for the elbow chair, she thought, would keep her from falling on either side,) and to divert Mrs. Veal, as she thought, took 'hold of her gown sleeve several times, and commended it. Mrs. Veal told her it was a scoured silk, and newly made up. But for all this, Mrs. Veal persisted in her request; and told Mrs. Bargrave she must not deny her. And she would have her tell her brother all their conversation, when she had opportunity. “Dear Mrs. Veal,” says Mrs. Bargrave, “this seems so impertinent, that I cannot tell how to comply with it: and