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It will be seen from subsequent letters what an* entire change in her views of the interior life the HOLY SPIRIT was graciously pleased to effect in her heart, while her zeal in external work for God did not diminish in the least degree. Even at this time she valued greatly the Offices and Sacraments of the Church, though much of their hidden treasure was unknown to her, as appears from the following extract:
To the same.
“ Bournemouth, Hants,
“ S. James' Day, July 25, 1855.
1 suppose mamma told you that we have daily service here morning and evening, and the Holy Communion at eight every Sunday, and at twelve on Holy Days. It is a great blessing, for it seems to recall one's thoughts from mere self-amusement, (which one is] too apt to fall into when there are no duties to perform.
That is a beautiful little book you gave me,' I read it every day; but I am never at home at twelve o'clock to join in praying for your Church, still I
suppose another time will be better than not at all.”
The next extract shows what an effort it was to her to risk losing the affection of one of her friends whom she had offended by plain speaking:
Oh pray for me, dear William. I do so fear lest a wish to regain her love should lead me to hide
1 The Valley of Lilies, by Thomas à Kempis. I had also sent her a prayer for the Church of S. Bartholomew's, Moor Lane, to which I was then attached, which we used daily at twelve o'clock, in intercession for one another.
the truth; yet she then could never love me properly, nor could I be happy. But oh! I am such a coward, God have mercy upon me!”
To Mrs. F. V. M-, formerly Miss E. W-, soon
after her marriage.
“ Nov. 25, 1855. “ Thank you, dearest E- for your nice kind letter, it really did me good. Oh I wish we were more earnest, more sincere in our renunciation of the world, more faithful to our promises of loving Him above all things ! Your Cross must be, dear E
to keep your heart free and fixed on God in the midst of all these enticing joys. The conquest of self is by far the fiercest battle, and most so where in the midst of prosperity and happiness; for it is much easier to serve God with the whole heart when there is nothing to entice it here, but it is much more acceptable to Him when torn away from all [that is] dear in this world by its own effort instead of His afflictions. I always find happiness and prosperity a much greater trial than misfortune and grief.”
Speaking of a party of young ladies travelling abroad together :
“ If they carry out their scheme, I daresay they will have great fun, but I don't think it will do them good. If I could travel in such an independent way, I should visit the Sisterhoods, and try and learn something as Miss Nightingale did. But I want to work for God, not seek my own pleasure. I wish I might give up society altogether; it distracts my mind, and costs so much ; and is it not conforming to the world ? I have not zeal or
courage to try to do any good in it, else it might be right.
“I hope you have begun to visit your poor people; I should have thought they had the first claim on a clergyman's wife. God bless you, dear.
“ Ever your own,
COMMENCEMENT OF HER ILLNESS, 1855-REMOVAL TO TOR
QUAY-LETTERS TO A FRIEND ON RELIGION-PARTIAL RECOVERY-CORRESPONDENCE-CHANGE IN ESTIMATION OF AMUSEMENT, ETC.
“My sheep hear My Voice, and I know them, and they fol. low Me."
“ He shall feed me in a green pasture; and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort."
“ He shall convert my soul: and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.”
MELISE had never been otherwise than delicate from her earliest years. She had great difficulty in recovering from the ordinary diseases of childhood, and throughout her life was constantly liable to take cold, and when this was the case her recovery was often very tedious. The severe illness she had in 1852, though it seemed at first to clear her constitution, left behind, especially in her back, traces of the shock it had given to her whole system. She was not well in the summer of 1855 at Bournemouth, and on her return to Wilmslow, attention was called to her health from her being unable for a time to stand or walk upright. Shrinking from giving her parents pain and anxiety, led her to conceal or make light of illness as long as she was able, but she has since acknowledged that she felt certain that this weakness was the precursor of the illness that would carry her to the grave. At first it merely prevented her taking her favourite exercise of riding, and this not until the end of October. It was thought that with great care she might be able to remain at home during the winter, but towards the beginning of 1856, her cough increased suddenly without any apparent cause, and the state of her lungs was such that her medical adviser thought it dangerous for her to encounter the March winds in the North of England. ACcordingly, about the middle of February, my mother took her down to Torquay, whither I accompanied them for a time.
The following account of the way in which Melise usually spent the day about this time, given by a friend, who spent a few days with her before her removal to Torquay, may be interesting to the reader. Her friend writes: “During my visit to Wilmslow, last January year, my mornings till dinner timewere passed usually with Melise in her room, so that I knew and saw what her occupations at that time chiefly were, though no doubt my visit rather interrupted her usual routine. The books she was regularly using lay on her little table by the sofa, and I believe she had an appointed time for reading each.