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Sooner—" But the dismal news of the death of the excellent Lady Leven put me greatly to a loss, as I could not think of any thing that came to my feelings on that occasion. The difficulty of expressing myself with propriety, which I felt every time that I tried to write, arrested my pen, and I was content to feel in silence what I could not express in words. There is no truth of which we are more fully convinced than that all shall die, all must die, and that the godly are not exempted from this sentence; yet, when they are actually taken away, we are as much surprised and disappointed as if there was an express promise in the Bible to the contrary. Our minds dwell with pleasure on truths, probabilities, and even possibilities that are agreeable to our wishes ; but shrink and start back from the most certain truth that we know would- give us pain. This is the reason that "all men think all men "mortal but themselves," as Dr. Young has it; yet those who love their friends wish to communicate to them their own fancied immortality, and annex the idea of the continuance of their life to that of their own. Our friends are parts, and often not the least valuable parts of ourselves. We share in their happiness, we feel their affliction, we live in their remembrance, esteem, and approbation; and our self-love prompts us to view our own characters in the pleasing and flattering glass of their opinion rather than in that of our own conscience, which would lead us to despise ourselves. Mr. Boston, in his Memoirs, after relating several instances of ingratitude that he had met with, observes, that the reason why we love one another is, because we do not know each other better. Now, although I cannot contest the truth of this observation in general, and cheerfully consent to it when applied to myself, yet I sincerely believe that there are many of Christ's people whom I would love better if I knew them more. I remember member an observation of our worthy friend Dr. ErskiitCf which I think is more charitable than that of Mr. Boston j he said, that it was good for us that we esteemed our friends more highly than we ought, as it improved our enjoyment of their friendship, and added to the influence of their example.—But to return: As our friends constitute such an important part of ourselves, and are the causes of so many of our enjoyments, it is no wonder that we should feel ourselves wounded, and cut in two, as it were, when they are taken from us, even by the hand of our merciful Father, as we lose so much good of which we were in possession, and feel so much evil, which proves heavier by not being expected. I acknowledge that I said in my haste, that the glory was departed from Melville House, from Fife, from the Church of Scotland, and the religious world, as I hardly know any that was so distinguished an ornament to all these. "Blessed are the meek," says our Lord, "for they shall inherit the earth." Indeed they ought to do so, though it i3 seldom their lot, their Father in heaven having provided some better thing for them. And I confess I could never look, or even think, on the late Lady Leren, without remembering Solomon's description of a virtuous Woman: «« She openeth her mouth with "wisdom, and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Is not the speech of a virtuous woman the best model of charity, eloquence, and propriety, as there is something in it, the " je ne scai quoi," that at once commands attention, and engages esteem? To possess distintlion "without pride, to exercise condescension without meanness, to confer favours without haughtiness, to pratlise piety without ostentation, and to possess eminent talents without seeming to be conscious of them, are qualities that do not often meet in one person; yet you know how much the late Countess of Leven was distinguished for all of them i So that it may be said, in the phrase of Shakespeare^
that. *< take her all in all, we ne'er shall look upon her like again.'* But when we consider the time at which she was taken away, and consider the heavy judgments that threaten us at present, it must be owned that she died at a time that was most profitable to herself, though painful to her surviving friends, as the righteous is taken from the evil to ««come."
If, my Lord, the report of honest fame, and the observation and experience of friendship, place the Countess of Leven in many an amiable point of light, what may not be conceived of her domestic character, and the dearer intimacies of a family? The tenderest affection, the minutest care, and indefatigable attention, verging often to the extreme of anxiety, were ever manifested, as the variety of cares, and situations, and circumstances required. But I must take off my hand; delicacy checks the disposition to paint the harmony, the peace, the confidence and enjoyment of the large and happy family over which she presided*
I Mentioned, my Lord, the sneers of impiety and lukewarmness cast on eminent and zealous piety, not as singling out her Ladyship, but as cast on all without exception, by whose sanctity they are offended and reproved. There, is however, an homage which the very worst of men are constrained to pay to the truly worthy and eminent Christian: This homage was not withheld from her venerable character. She found, or perhaps I should rather say, we well know, that the Wisdom which Solomon describes as a munificent princess holding honour in her left hand, liberally bestowed this precious boon on her favoured votary.
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The estimation in which she was held is amply testified in the communications and epistolary correspondence of her pious and respectable friends, to which I have referred; but it was evidenced, if possible more artlessly, and more certainly, in the general opinion, and conviction, and conversation of, men of all ranks and denominations. There were, both of the clergy and laity of the sects who are supposed to be distinguished the most for a narrow bigotted spirit, who greatly respectsd her, and some of them enjoyed her acquaintance. The friends of God were her friends.
The benefactors of the poor have as many panegyrists as they relieve and assist; but very few enjoyed the character of tenderness and sympathy, of frequency and seasonableness of benefactions, that distinguished and endeared the Countess of Leven.
But it is at the end of life, my Lord, that we discover, in a more especial manner, the general voice and sentiment respecting character; and in no instance that has fallen under my observation, was the sentiment of veneration more clearly and fully shown than at her death.
I Know what passed in the family, and might fill many pages of affecting representation, and touch the hearts of affection and sensibility. I know what passed in the neighbourhood ; their inquiries, their sympathy, their solicitude, their sorrow, who learned that her health and strength were gradually, but evidently, wearing away. But the day of interment, which I have already mentioned to your Lordship as memorable, was distinguished, as on other accounts, so in a very particular manner, because the respect of a large district of country was, on that occasion, so strikingly manifested. Relation, and decency, and neighbourhood, often explain a concourse of attendants at funerals; but in a procession of about ten miles, I imagine is seldom seen so numerous, so silent, so solemn, a company. The inhabitants of the villages through which we passed lined the way, not with faces of mere curiosity, but of concern and reverence.
The stillness and solemnity of the last scene, where crowds lost all their rudeness and noise, and curiosity its eagerness and petulance, and the expressions of mourning, accorded with the feelings of the heart, (in many instances, I believe could not fully accord with them), will long be remembered by your Lordship, and by many of the company. That solemn scene will be justly considered as an unequivocal demonstration of the high esteem of the county of Fife, and particularly of the parishes of Monimail and Markinch, for the Countess of Leven.
I Have finished my sketch. I pretend to no more than an outline ; it is also of a miniature for a necklace or bracelet, not of a picture for a room or a gallery. If the likeness is preserved, and the recollection secured, I gain my objects. Without the high colouring of panegyric, without the flattering and multiplied beauties of partiality, without the touching and retouching of address and fancy, I am hopeful this portrait, imperfect as it is, is not drawn in vain; in plainer language, the life and virtues of the late venerable Countess of Leven might fill a laTge volume, and furnish materials for all the beauties of composition. But I have done enough, if the worthy character, in what I have written, is known and remembered with satisfaction, with approbation, with a desire to be what she was, in va
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