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I cannot forbear pausing here to notice the exceeding Love of the Good Shepherd in thus providing for my beloved sister's spiritual wants. Surely goodness and mercy did follow her all the days of her life. From her earliest years her soul appears to have yearned for the care of one of those to whom Jesus said, "Feed My lambs ;" and now, just at the time when she most needed it, her wish was granted. It is true she had both a father and a brother in the sacred ministry; but, as I found at her deathbed, a near relation cannot well fulfil the work of a Priest. Natural feelings on both sides prevent his being looked upon simply as an ambassador of CHRIST; and a dread of wounding these feelings, perfectly right in itself, prevents that unreserved communication with the soul necessary for really profitable spiritual guidance. God forbid that I should for a moment justify that reserve on matters of eternal interest, and indifference to the spiritual welfare of those of one's own household which is so prevalent; but I would remark, what is the experience of almost every one who has been led to think much on the subject, that a relation, however near and dear, is not the natural guide in spiritual things; and jealousy on this point may often be very injurious to the welfare of the soul. No one, who knew Melise at all, could have well conceived of a more dutiful and affectionate daughter and sister; and yet she found the aid of a Priest who was not a relation of unspeakable value in preparing for that world where natural relationships
cease, and “they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the Resurrection.”
My father was at this time at Wilmslow; and, as he proposed visiting Torquay after Easter, it was thought that my mother and sister would return with him then. But, on the 29th of March, Melise's medical adviser recommended her return home as soon as possible. She did not like te travel in Holy Week, and they feared if she delayed till after Easter, she would be unable to be moved. They accordingly arranged to set out on Thursday, April 2nd, and wrote to me to meet them at Gloucester, and accompany them home. Melise had a very strong wish, if it were God's Will, to revisit the home of her childhood once more. It had always been very dear to her, as she once expressed it to a friend to whom she had been giving an account of some excursion :-“I am always delighted to get back; home is more than “four walls' to me, it is the memories of twenty years;" and now that she was conscious of her approaching end, she felt more than usually desirous of returning.
I met them at Bristol, and was at first too much occupied with seeing my dear sister carried from one station to the other to take particular notice of her health. Still the languid way in which she, who was wont to be so active and independent of all assistance, resigned herself to be carried about by others, showed the extreme weakness to which she was reduced. When we were fairly settled in the railway carriage, I noticed that her face bore signs of weariness and pain, and though when she was flushed with any excitement she would look quite herself; yet there was that indescribable air of languor about her whole person which marks the fatal progress of disease. Her nurse sat gazing at her with a sorrowful anticipation of the future, and we all felt that we were bringing her home to die; even the little dog seemed to wonder why her mistress took so little notice of her as she lay at her feet. In mind Melise appeared as vigorous as ever, and talked to me a great deal. She was so thankful that her mother was now resigned to part with her, and recounted the many mercies she had received from God, and the kindness all her friends, and some personally unknown to her, had shown her during her illness. She also seemed full of interest in all that related to the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom : asked many questions about the parish where I was working, listened gladly to all that I had to tell of my people, and appeared much interested in their welfare.
She bore the journey to Birmingham much better than we expected ; and, though she passed but an indifferent night, was able to go on the next morning, and by God's great mercy we reached home in safety about three o'clock. I little thought as I supported her through the hall and up the stairs, that on that very day five weeks she would again pass that threshold a lifeless corpse; and when she returned the servants' welcome as they came to
meet her, she could not even herself have thought that the end was so pear. We all flattered ourselves that the fatigue of the journey would pass away, and leave her better; and her medical man encouraged us to hope that she would be with us till the autumn at least : “ but when the fruit is brought forth, immediately He putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.”
At first we had some hopes that her native air was doing her good, but it soon appeared that the disease had descended from the lungs into the bowels, and thus all the nourishment she took was prevented from passing into the system, and she was in continual pain as long as it remained in her stomach. This suffering increased till her death, and was the appointed “rod” through whose chastening the Good Shepherd was pleased to comfort" her in " the valley of the shadow of death.” No murmur or expression of pain ever crossed her lips; but as she lay on the sofa in the drawing room the colour would at times vanish from her face, and a drawing up of the features would show us how heavy the cross sometimes was to bear. Still, she liked us to be with her, and would often join in the conversation.
I remained at home with Melise on the Sunday afternoon, and read part of the evening service, in which she joined. Afterwards, she began to speak of the future, and of the blessedness of being with CHRIST.
She said that that Hymn of S. Francis Xavier's (given in page 45) was constantly on her lips, and she found it express exactly what she wanted. I rather doubted whether she fully understood the kind of love of God spoken of in those lines, and said something of that love which is purified from all self-interest and loves Jesus for Himself alone. “Can you quite understand that ?” I asked—“O yes," she replied, "perfectly- I could not love Him for anything but Himself alone;" and then went on to say that to be with Him, where He is, whereever that might be, was the one desire of her heart. Remembering that many holy persons have had a great dread of death when it really approaches, I wished to know whether she had this fear. She answered: “Not at all ; neither now, nor when I was ill before. But,” she added, “I often fear
perhaps I may have it when the end does really comestill, He has promised to be with me then, and so I am not uneasy about it.” I asked her whether she found herself able to pray now she was so weak, and whether she did pray much : “Sometimes, when I am able, I do pray for others,” she replied— “ for myself, there is nothing I want. I know He is always there," she continued, looking as if she saw, with her bodily eyes, Him whom her soul loved, “and I want nothing more.” She afterwards told me that He often filled her so full of joy that she did not know how to contain herself before others. Melise was to have received the Holy Communion on the Monday morning, but she passed such a bad night, and was so worn out, that she was glad to