Chapter 17: London again.—characters of judges.—Oxford.—Cambridge— November and December, 1838.—Age, 27.
To George S. Hillard, Boston.London, Nov. 4, 1838.my dear Hillard,—I do not delay one moment to acknowledge the receipt of your touching letter, communicating the intelligence of the death of your dear child.1 Would that these lines could go to you as swiftly as my sympathy! I sorrow with you from the bottom of my heart, and I fear that the lightsome letters which I have written latterly, all unconscious of your bereavement, may have seemed to flout your grief. I have been rejoicing while you have been sad; I have been passing, with joy lighting my steps, from one pleasant abode to another, while you have been sitting still in the house of mourning. Would that I could have shaken to you some of the superflux of happiness which has been my lot, and received upon my abler shoulders something of that burden under which I fear you may faint! I opened your letter this morning, by the faint light of dawn, on my arrival from Holkham,—after a long night's journey. I knew, of course, the familiar hand, and hurriedly broke the seal to get those tidings of my friends, which, amidst all that has befallen me, come like refreshing airs. I pitied you and your wife; but rejoiced when I read that she bore her loss with calmness. It is hardly for me to whisper consolation to you. Though not unconscious of sorrow myself, I have never yet felt such a bereavement as yours; I cannot, therefore, speak with the authority of suffering. But I can well imagine that, even to you, desolate as you are, there may be society of the richest kind in the cherished image of that dear creature, whose body has been taken from you,—in the recollection of his expanding faculties, his tender smiles, and, above all, his unsullied purity of soul. Think of him where he is, his own pure spirit mingling with the greatness and goodness that have been called away before him, nor finding aught purer or more