Last Letters from Menatone Mrs. C. H. Spurgeon
THE love-letters of twenty blessed years have been reluctantly lifted from their hiding-place, and re-read with unspeakable love and sorrow. They are full of brightness, and the fragrance of a deep and abiding affection; and filled with every detail concerning my beloved and his doings which could be precious to the heart of a loving wife. But, alas! each year, some part of the holiday time at Mentone was overshadowed by what appeared to be an inevitable illness, when the dear preacher was laid aside, and days and nights of wearisome pain were appointed to him. He had always worked up to the latest moment, and to the utmost point of endurance, so it was not surprising that, when the tension was relaxed, nature revenged herself upon the weary body by setting every nerve on fire, and loading every vein with gout-poison, to act as fuel to the consuming flame. 'I feel as if I were emerging from a volcano,' he wrote, at the beginning of a convalescent period; but even at such a time his sense of humour asserted itself, for his pen had sketched the outlines of a conical hill, out of the crater of which his head and shoulders were slowly rising, while the still-imprisoned lower limbs set forth the sad truth that all was not yet well with them.
These chronicles would scarcely be complete without some further particulars concerning his life on the Riviera--how he enjoyed his pleasures, how he bore his pains, how he worked when God gave him relief from sickness, and how, always and ever, his loving heart was 'at home' with me. He kept up a daily correspondence with unflagging regularity; and when unable to use his pen, through severe suffering or weakness, the letter came as usual, either dictated by him, or altogether written by his devoted secretary.
I have selected, as the material for this chapter, the last letters which were written to me from Mentone, and which cover a period of nearly three months, for he left London on November 11, 1890, and returned February 5, 1891. Passing over the days of travel, which had no special interest, the arrival at Mentone is thus recorded on a post card:--'What heavenly sunshine! This is like another world. I cannot quite believe myself to be on the same planet. God grant that this may set me all right! Only three other visitors in the hotel--three American ladies--room for you. So far, we have had royal weather, all but the Tuesday. Now the sea shines like a mirror before us. The palms in front of the windows are as still as in the Jubilee above. The air is warm, soft, balmy. We are idle--writing, reading, dawdling. Mentone is the same as ever, but it has abolished its own time, and goes by Paris.
This bright opening of the holiday was quickly overclouded, for the next day came the sad news that gout had fastened upon the patient's right hand and arm, and caused him weary pain. Yet he wrote: 'The day is like one in Eden before our first parents fell. When my head is better, I shall enjoy it. I have eau de Cologne dripped on to my hot brain-box; and, as I have nothing to do but to look out on the perfect scene before me, my case is not a bad one.' But, alas! the 'case' proved to be very serious, and a painful time followed. These sudden attacks of the virulent enemy were greatly distressing and discouraging; one day, Mr. Spurgeon would be in apparent health and good spirits; and the next, his hand, or foot, or knee, would be swollen and inflamed, gout would have developed, and all the attendant evils of fever, unrest, sleeplessness, and acute suffering, would manifest themselves with more or less severity.
In the present instance, the battle raged for eight days with much fury, and then God gave victory to the anxious combatants, and partial deliverance to the prisoner. Daily letters, written by Mr. Harrald during this period, were very tender records of the sickroom experiences--every detail told, and every possible consolation offered--but it was a weary season of suspense for the loving heart a thousand miles distant, and the trial of absence was multiplied tenfold by the distress of anxiety.
In the first letter Mr. Harrald wrote, he said: 'The one continual cry from Mr. Spurgeon is, "I wish I were at home! I must get home!" Just to pacify him, I have promised to enquire about the through trains to London; but, of course, it would be impossible for him to travel in his present condition. Everyone is very kind, sympathetic, attentive, and ready to do anything that can be done to relieve or cheer the dear sufferer. I have just asked what message he wishes to send to you. He says, "Give her my love, and say I am very bad, and I wish I were at home for her to nurse me; but, as I am not, I shall be helped through somehow."'
Curiously enough, The Times of the following day had a paragraph to the effect that 'Mr. Spurgeon will stay at Mentone till February;' and when Mr. Harrald read this aloud, the dear patient remarked, 'I have not said so, but I am afraid I shall have to do it;' and the prophecy was fulfilled.
After eight days and nights of alternate progress and drawback, there came to me a half-sheet of, paper, covered with extraordinary hieroglyphic characters, at first sight almost unreadable. But love deciphered them, and this is what they said: 'Beloved, to lose right hand, is to be dumb. I am better, except at night. Could not love his darling more. Wished myself at home when pains came; but when worst, this soft, clear air helps me. It is as heaven's gate. All is well. Thus have I stammered a line or two. Not quite dumb, bless the Lord! What a good Lord He is! I shall yet praise Him. Sleeplessness cannot so embitter the night as to make me fear when He is near.' This pathetic little note is signed, 'Your own beloved Benjamite,' for it was the work of his left hand.
I think the effort was too much for him, for two more letters were written by Mr. Harrald; but a tender pleasantry, recorded in one of them, showed me that my beloved was on the road to recovery. 'Our dear Tirshatha,' Says Mr. Harrald, 'has been greatly pleased with your letter received to-day; your exhilaration appears to have favourably affected him. He says that he hopes the time will speedily arrive when he will be able to offer you his hand!'
After this, the daily correspondence from his own pen is resumed, and in the first letter he strikes his usual key-note of praise to God: 'Bless the Lord! I feel lighter and better; but oh, how weak! Happily, having nothing to do, it does not matter. I have nearly lost a whole month of life since I first broke down, but the Lord will restore this breach.'
The next day--date of letter, Dec. 1, 1890,--he writes to his 'poor lamb in the snow' to tell her that 'this poor sheep cannot get its forefoot right yet, but it is far better than it was'--followed by the quaint petition, 'May the Good Shepherd dig you out of the snow, and many may the mangolds and the swedes be which He shall lay in the fold for His half-frozen sheep!'
Our Arctic experiences in England were balanced by wintry weather on the Riviera. 'We have had two gloriously terrific storms,' he says; 'the sea wrought, and was tempestuous; it flew before the wind like glass dust, or powdered snow. The tempest howled, yelled, screamed, and shrieked. The heavens seemed on fire, and the skies reverberated like the boom of gigantic kettle-drums. Hail rattled down, and then rain poured. It was a time of clamours and confusions. I went to bed at ten, and left the storm to itself; and I woke at seven, much refreshed. I ought to be well, but I am not, and don't know why.
Dec. 3, 1890.--'We had two drives yesterday, and saw some of the mischief wrought by the storm. The woodman, Wind, took down his keenest axe, and went straight on his way, hewing out a clean path through the olives and the pines. Here he rent off an arm, there he cut off a head, and yonder he tore a trunk asunder, like some fierce Assyrian in the days ere pity was born. The poor cottagers were gathering the olives from the road, trying to clear off the broken boughs before they bore down other trees, and putting up fences which the storm had levelled with the ground. They looked so sad as they saw that we commiserated them. To-day, so fair, so calm, so bright, so warm, is as a leaf from the evergreen trees of Heaven. Oh, that you were here!'
For the next four days, I received post cards only. There was a loving arrangement between us that these missives should be used when we were busy, or had not much to tell; but my beloved could always say a great many things on these little messengers. He knew how to condense and crystallize his thoughts, so that a few brief choice sentences conveyed volumes of tender meaning. I have commenced this chapter with facsimiles of two of his poetical post cards of earlier date; here are two specimens belonging to the period of which I am writing:
Your praise of my letters prompts me to write more; but your royal commands restrict me to a card; and they are wise. Much love. Parcel has arrived--all that I want. If specially good books come, you might get Mr. Keys to take two or three to Cook's office, for Haskoll to bring to me. He travels every week to and fro.
It was wet yesterday; but I went out a very little walk. Mean to walk every day, but find my feet painful, as if I could count all my bones, yet I am each day better. Today is dull, and by no means tropical; but, oh, so quiet! I am praying that the "Report" may flow as streams in the desert. In our port, some vessels have all sails spread, but it is only to dry them; better have ever so little a bit of canvas filled with the breath of heaven. I feel as if I were drying; may you have the breeze!'
Out of that obedience which has so long been habitual to me, I did not write this morning; but, finding that there is an evening post, my rebellious nature seized the occasion to indulge itself. TO-DAY I DRESSED MYSELF! A childish glee is on me as I record the fact. To have the use of one's hands again is a big mercy. We have had a heavenly day, and spent the morning in a long drive. Afternoon, I went for a walk. I was entreated to attend laying of first stone in Scotch Church, but I would not yield. H. went, and it was cold and draughty--enough to lay me up again. Wisdom did me a good turn when she bade me walk in the sun. Mr. A. has sent home some flowers; he despatched some rosebuds to you from me. They will be perfumed à parfait amour. You write so sweetly. Yours is a hand which sets to music all it writes to me; God bless you! But you don't say how you are. If you do not, I will write every day. We have fifteen in the hotel now. I have not commenced morning prayer with them yet, but think of doing so soon. Remember me to T. and old George.'
Such post cards were as good as letters, and I could have been well content had my husband sent me only these; but he was lavish in his love, and insisted that the letters should outnumber the smaller missives. I had long protested, and sincerely, too, against what I feared was a tax upon his precious holiday time; but, to the end, (for these are his very last letters to me,) he persevered in his tender, self-imposed task; and, now, the memory of his goodness is inexpressibly precious.
In the succeeding communication, there is a reference: to the burning question of the hour--Home Rule--which may interest readers who indulge a penchant for politics:
'We have had two of the loveliest of days; and, after a morning drive, I have had an afternoon's walk, each day walking just a little more. It is not much now, but it was and is much to me. The Dr. says that, in the heart-cure, they have a zigzag up a mountain, and the patient tries a turn each day; and when he can walk to the top and down, he goes home. My little perambulations are somewhat after this fashion. This place is delicious. It is just 8 a.m., and I have both windows open, and I am writing to the low soft cadence of a rippling sea. Oh, that you were here!
That Irish stew! The last dose was well peppered, and served up hot! Perhaps now that they are separated they will get together; they seem to have been greatly divided while they were united! Poor G.O.M.! How he must feel the insults of those for whom he has forfeited everything! Yet he seems to hold on to their scheme though he knows that it is not only dangerous, but unattainable. I am glad I am neither of Gladstone nor of Parnell. He that wades not up to the ankles, will not go in up to the loins.'
Midwinter in England brought also to Mentone some cold, wet days, and these acted on the Pastor's sensitive frame as the atmosphere operates on a barometer. Dull and dreary days depressed him; but when they came, they were welcomed, for he would then turn to his literary work with redoubled energy, and get through an amazing quantity of it in an incredibly short space of time; but he revelled in the sunshine, and enjoyed basking in its warm beams; and his pity for those who had to endure the, severities of fog, frost, and snow, was very real and sincere.
'Poor darling,' he wrote, to be so cold. The Lord will soon hear prayer, and send the soft South wind upon you, and then I also shall get well, and go out for walks, and praise His Name. I wish I could think of something to cast a gleam of sunlight over "Westwood." If my love were light, you would live in the sun. I shall send some roses to-morrow, and they will prophesy of better days.' Alas! the 'better days' moved very tardily towards him on this occasion; and, though of course we did not know it at the time, the deadly mischief, which afterwards proved fatal, had already begun to work in his poor body. I cannot say that I am as I should like to be,' he writes; 'two cold, windy afternoons have kept me in, and so I have missed my walk; and my hand, inside, is white and chalky, and outside, on its back, it is still somewhat swollen, and you see I cannot write so well. To-day, I have been for a drive, but it was rather cold. I sleep well, take physic often, and try to be right, and am really much better, but the mischief hangs about me.' Undoubtedly it did, and this was 'the beginning of the end,' though our eyes were holden, so that we could not see it.
The loving ministries of his Mentone life began again, however. He 'went to see a sick Baroness, and prayed with her, and helped her to feel at rest through submission to our Lord's will;' and the morning meetings for worship were recommenced, the conduct of which gave him much joy and encouragement.
Next morning, the aneroid marked a higher figure, but only for a few hours: 'This has been so far a lovely, sunny, warm day, and we have been out for along drive, and enjoyed it much. Seen the mountains of Italy covered with their white millers' hats; and fields of roses, red, white, and yellow! We had a drink of very cold water from the fountain which gushes, apparently, from the heart of an olive. Now the day is darkening down with clouds, and probably a cold blast will come. Yes, the angels are letting loose the winds from their fists, and the palm trees are waving their fronds in token of victory over the sun which has retreated behind the clouds. These palms in front of the windows constantly remind me of the words in the Revelation, "with palms in their hands," for we are on a level with their grand fronds. I should think they measure ten or twelve feet from where they start. They are magnificent emblems of victory. We shall wave better than these when we are with the Lord, and celebrate His triumph!'
Day after day, these barometric fluctuations agitated the dear patient, and seemed to retard his recovery; but they were only the outward indications of the deep-seated internal trouble. It is wonderful how blind we were; so used, I expect, to the alternations of my-beloved's condition, and so happily accustomed to see his 'rare power of recuperation,' as the Dr. called it, manifesting itself at the end of an illness, that we had learned to anticipate complete recovery from all his sicknesses. God be praised for the merciful veil which hides the future from our eyes!
Yesterday morning was wet and cold, and we rejoiced in the fire of olive logs. After lunch, the clouds were gone, the winds fell asleep, the sun in beneficent splendour gave us two hours of summer, during which your Prince Charlie went forth in his chariot, and was so pleased with the light, colour, warmth, and tone of everything, that he felt, no spot or time could ever be more enjoyable unless his dear consort could be with him. I want someone to show these things to--and there is only one "someone" who would fulfil my ideal.
After morning prayer, we went down town to get the parcel from Cook's man. All right. Books well selected. Hearty thanks. The tracts from Drummond's we can give away. We sent sermons and other periodicals to a Shields collier which has been in this port with coals. After getting our parcel, we returned, for the clouds came up in black armies, and the wind rushed forth. It may alter again, and then "out we go"; but nothing seems to be settled, and I suppose the weather here cannot be quiet, while it is so terrible with you. If the Lord will, I trust the worst of the winter will soon be gone. I have plenty to do, so that a day indoors is not dull, but I wish I could get my walk. This, too, may come. I have one finger purple and swollen, but I feel so greatly better that I could clap my hands if it were not for hurting that poor weak member.'
Till Christmas day, the letters tell of cold and rain, tornadoes of wind, and other evils, with occasional glimpses of the lovely spring weather so much desired. My husband greatly sympathized with us in our endurance of the very severe winter of 1890; it was quite touching to note how constantly he referred to it, and seemed almost to suffer with us in our long period of frost, fog, bitter cold, and darkness. 'I keep on praying for change of weather for you, and the poor and sick,' he writes; I wish I could send you a brazier of the coals of my heart, which have a most vehement flame.'
Oh, how true this was! God had made him a real philanthropist, and the woes of others were felt, and commiserated, and brought before the Lord, with as much earnestness and sincerity as though they had been his own. His heart was so big, it had room for others' griefs; and it was so full of love and pity, that he had always some to spare for those who needed it.
A carriage drive to Ventimiglia gave him great pleasure just at this time. From a certain part of the road, the Col di Tenda and a considerable portion of the Maritime Alps are visible, in their winter dress of snow; and visitors from Mentone are fond of driving there to see a picture quite unique in its grouping--a foreground of roses, and palms, and tropical vegetation luxuriating in the sunshine--on the one side, the blue waters of the Mediterranean rivalling the brightness of the sky; on the other, the valley of the Roya, with picturesque hamlets on both banks of the river, and, for a distant background, those solemn white Alps proclaiming, in a language which cannot be misunderstood, the greatness and majesty of their Maker.
Christmas day was grey and cold, and was spent in work 'digging away at books and letters.' Friends had lavished upon him a wealth of lovely flowers--roses, carnations, hyacinths, tuberoses, cyclamen--in vases; and a pot of that sweetest of sweet blossoms, lily of the valley; but he could scarcely enjoy them. All night, his bones had 'cried and groaned' with rheumatism; and he must, I think, for the first lime, have had some premonition of danger, for he says, 'There is some deep-seated gout in me.'
But even this passes, and the five following days each bring a bright, cheerful little post card to reassure and comfort me. One, written on Monday, December 29, 1890, tells of a delightful meeting, last night, in the room above ours. Piano, with hymns ad lib., and I preached from Deut. 32:10, glad to review the goodness of Him who found, led, taught, and kept me;' and the last of the five--on December 31,1890--testifies thus graciously to the goodness and faithfulness of God:--'The old year is nearly out--a good old year, a year of loving kindnesses and of tender mercies. I cannot dismiss it with a complaint, but with thankfulness. Oh, for more holiness for myself in the new year, and more health for my beloved spouse! I think I shall get home for February 1, or first Sunday in February, for I now feel as if life had come back to me with enjoyment, and a measure of sprightly thought, for which I would praise the Lord practically by employing it in His service. We had twenty-three to morning prayer to-day--nearly as many as the room can hold. How they do come! Wet and cold do not hinder, and they are so grateful.'
'New Year's Day, Jan. 1, 1891.
A happy new year to you, my sweetest and best! I would write it in the biggest of capitals if that would show how happy I wish the year to be. I had a praiseful evening yesterday, blessing God for the old year; and now, this morning, we have had a good meeting. We sang No. 1,042 in Our Own Hymn Book. Then I read and expounded Psalm 103 and prayed. There were flowers, and cards, and contributions; and, this afternoon, we are going to give our land-lord and his wife a present, for the house is not full, and the keeping of the hotel is not profitable. So there will be joy among many as we meet for tea. God is indeed gracious to me, for I feel well, and I turn my face homeward in desire. I have been for a drive in the delicious summer sunshine. Oh, that you had been at my side! I have just read your sweet, sweet letter. You best-beloved of my heart, how I wish I could change your weather! I can only pray; but prayer moves the hand which moves winds and clouds. The Lord Himself comfort you, and bear you up under all troubles, and make up to you, by His own presence, the absence of health, warmth, and husband!'
When my beloved felt fairly well, his Sundays at Mentone were a great joy and rest to him. He, made the day full of sweet, devout service, and still sweeter communion with the Lord! In the morning, after having family prayer, he would, perhaps, go to the Presbyterian place of worship in Mrs. Dudgeon's garden; and afterwards write to me:--'Capital sermon from Mr. Somerville on Rev. 2:12, 17, splendidly witnessing against the "Down-grade."' In the afternoon, there would be breaking of bread, and one of those choice little addresses, on the love and grace of the Lord Jesus, which melted all hearts, and rekindled the latent fires of devotion in some inconstant breast; and the evening would be spent in singing God's praises, and listening to a brief sermon by Mr. Harrald, or someone else who might have a message to deliver. 'Quite a full day,' he remarks, after one of these occasions, 'but it seemed very short, and as sweet as short. Oh, that you were here!'
The holy, happy influence of these Sabbaths overflowed into the days of the week, which to my beloved were as much 'Lord's days' as those set apart by law and gospel. The company at morning worship grew larger every week, the adjoining room had to be thrown open, and one very cold day he wrote: 'I wondered to see my visitors assemble to the great number of forty-one, and they do not want to go away from what some of them call "this dear room." Truly, the Lord is here, and His Word is sweet both to them and to me, as we read it morning by morning. What a text is Isaiah 62:7, in the Revised Version: "Ye that are the Lord's remembrancers, take ye no rest, and give Him no rest." Oh, for such importunate prayers for His Church now that evil times have come!'
A tender, loving birthday letter, which set all the joy-bells in my heart ringing, comes next in order, and I quote a few extracts from it: 'I trust this will reach you on your own dear birthday. Ten thousand benedictions be upon you! . . . What an immeasurable blessing you have been to me, and are still! Your patience in suffering, and diligence in service, are works of the Holy Spirit in you, for which I adore His Name. Your love to me is not only a product of nature, but it has been so sanctified by grace that it has become a spiritual blessing to me. May you still be upheld; and if you may not be kept from suffering, may you be preserved from sinking! . . . My love to you grows, and yet I do not know how at any time it could have been greater. I am thinking which I shall do--drive out, and send you flowers, or walk, and get Mr. A. to send them. I know which way your vote would go, and I shall act accordingly, if our friend will undertake the commission. If flowers do not come, please know that it was in my heart to send them.'
A few days after, a reference is made to my reply in these words: 'I had your letter, last night, which was written on your birthday. I am so glad the flowers reached you, and made you glad. There is a happy tone about "the old woman's" letter which does the old man good. God bless you, darling, and delight your heart with trucks and sacks of good things for others!' This latter sentence refers to the generous action of one of our near neighbours, on Beulah Hill, who, knowing that I was interesting myself for the poor in Thornton Heath, had placed a truckload of coals at my disposal for them. The long and dreary winter had severely tried them, and we opened a soup-kitchen at 'Westwood,' which ministered daily to their necessities. My beloved felt sorely troubled for the distress which came so close to our doors, and did not fail to take his share in the pitying help rendered to those you could not help themselves during the time of that awful frost. I am so glad you feed the poor,' he wrote; 'spend £10 for me, please; don't stint anything. As I look at the pictures in The Graphic, my spirits sink, but my prayer rises.' And a few days later he returns to the same subject:--I pray day and night for a thaw to come and end this great distress by allowing the people to work. Do spend my £10, which I will send by next post.
The grey, cold days, which prevailed at Mentone during the early part of the year 1891, gave the dear preacher an opportunity for working hard, of which he willingly availed himself. He heartily enjoyed the pleasurable leisure of driving, which seemed to soothe his brain, and refresh both body and spirit; but he was never idle; and, after returning from his excursions, he would apply himself immediately to the work in hand, and his busy pen would fly over the sheets of paper with untiring energy. The secret of the amazing wealth of literary labour, which he left as a legacy to the world, lay in the fact that he was constantly gathering up the seed-pearls of small opportunities while never neglecting the greater occasions of enrichment. Receiving and imparting, gaining that he might give, labouring not for himself but for others, the redeemed minutes soon multiplied into hours, and the hours grew into days, and so his life, like a field well-dressed and tended, bore hundred fold crops to the praise and glory of the Great Husbandman.
Sabbath, Jan. 18, 1891, he wrote: 'I have not gone to service this morning, as I had sermons to revise, and one to get for this afternoon. I have chosen Psalm 32:9, and want to show the joy of having a good understanding with the Lord, so as to need no bit, but to be left free to go on in His way with liberty. Two things are to be dreaded,--Irreverent familiarity: "lest they come near unto thee;" (A.V.)--Disobedient departure: "else they will not come near unto thee." (R.V.) Are not the two renderings curious? To me, they set forth the same thing in different lights. Note, in R.V., "whose trappings must be bit and bridle," as if even these were made ornamental, and our inflictions and afflictions became our decorative equipment,--yet even then not desirable. Oh, to be guided by the Lord's eye!'
Further on, I am told that he had 'a good service from the text mentioned,' and then that he had been able to revise six sermons ready for printing when double numbers were wanted, or 'to be used if I should be ill.' Was this another premonition! If it were, the shadow soon passed, for the next letter describes a visit to Beaulieu--'a lovely drive, in the warm sunshine, to a place which I should like to stop at for a time another year, if it please God.' This little outing must have benefited the dear patient, for, the next morning, he writes: I am working with windows wide open; and when I have done, I hope to take my long walk round the red rocks. I forgot to tell you that, on Thursday, Mr. Cheyne Brady came over from Cannes, and we walked out a mile or more, and talked, and prayed, and then came back. He returned alone because he had to hurry to catch a train, but I walked both ways with great pleasure; indeed, it was the best time I have spent since I came here. The sun, the air, the sea, all ministered to me; and I ministered to the Lord in grateful praise.'
The Pastor had consented to open the new Scotch Church on Thursday, January 29, 1891; but, on the Wednesday, while out walking, a sudden seizure of gout in both hands and one foot threatened to lay him aside once more. It is most touching to read how he fought the disease both with physic and by dieting. 'The enemy is going,' he writes; 'driven out by medicine, starved out by oatmeal and nothing else for lunches and dinners.' He took the service at the Scotch Church, though so utterly unfit for it, and 'got through the sermon with trembling knees, and the bell gone out of my voice.'
Extremely sensitive as my beloved was to any degree of pain, it was simply marvellous how he overcame this weakness of body, and served while suffering, when work for the Master called forth his spiritual energies. Many a time, at the Tabernacle, has he painfully limped into his pulpit, leaning heavily on his stick, and, unable to stand, has preached, kneeling with one knee on a chair; but even then, the astonished congregation has seen him, warming to his work, and inspired by his all-consuming zeal, push the chair aside, and, grasping the rail of the platform with both hands, stand there for the rest of the service, apparently forgetful of his bodily distress, because absorbed by his passionate desire to persuade poor sinners to come to Christ.
But this is a digression. We must return to Mentone for the few days yet remaining.
One of the dear preacher's last ministrations, on this occasion, was to hold a funeral service over the body of the Baroness von H., whom he had so often visited and comforted in her last sickness. He writes:--'There was a great blaze of candles on both sides of the coffin, and palm branches and white flowers upon it. She is now to be carried to Russia, and I should think the journey will occupy a fortnight. Why can't they let a body be? I would prefer to be buried wherever I might die; yet, as she wished to lie in the same tomb with her husband, there is an argument on that side also.
Now the record draws quickly to a close. It had been a time of strangely mingled experiences of rest and rack, of cold and heat, of storm and sunshine, of pain and pleasure--but, over all, the peace of God brooded like a dove, and the home-coming was safe and happy; not even a shadow of the dark dispensation, which fell upon us in June, then rested on our spirits. The last communication from Mentone was a post card, which, from the extracts I give, will be seen to have been written in quite good spirits, and suitably closes this chapter:
I telegraphed you to-day, and I hope your anxiety has ceased. There! at this moment, a mosquito popped on my nose, and Harrald has killed him! So may all your fears end! I am very much better; indeed, well. Archibald Brown has been with me for an hour; and the sight of him, and a little prayer with him, have set me up. I rested well yesterday. We are all in a muddle packing; H., in his shirt-sleeves, almost wants to pack me up! I am writing notes of "Good-bye" to friends. I hope soon to follow where this card is going; how delighted I am with the prospect! I am already with you in spirit. My heart has never left you. Blessed be God that we are spared to each other!'