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129 by deep groans of less or greater length, as the case might be. It was not the first time the audience had been greeted therewith, and they had got in a measure accustomed to them. It seemed to me a wise suggestion, which I offered partly from a benevolent feeling towards other clergymen, that the gaper be requested to take his seat hereafter next the door, that when he perceived his mouth stretching wide, he might seize his hat and run for his life.
Perhaps I shall be excused for mentioning another circumstance, though of a trifling nature, which occurred in Hancock, a town but few miles distant from Ellsworth. I had been invited to preach an evening lecture at this place. It was mid-winter. I rode out in a sleigh and put up (for the night) at the house of a plain farmer of the old school, who had carried the mail in this part of the country on foot or horseback for many years. I was surprized to learn he was the brother of G. L. Esq., recently Mayor of the city of N. York and a remarkable instance of one, who from the lowest walks of life has risen to wealth and distinction. The old farmer told me he had not seen his brother, until recently, for forty years. But to return to the service. It was held in a school-house a mile or more distant. We rode to it and found It to be a room in the back part of a dwelling-house. The audience after a while assembled and the the time for the lecture arrived. I was ushered into the apartment. There was but a single light and that a tallow can130
ODD EVENTS. dle. Only in the vicinity of this, which stood upon a desk near the fire-place, was the darkness made visible. How far the apartment extended back, or how much of an audience I had, I knew not. I could see but the front line, consisting of men, women, and children. To use the flickering flame to the best advantage, I took my station in front of the desk and commenced the service. All went on tolerably until I got a little into my sermon. By this time the sooty wick had become unconscionably long, and the darkness of the room began to be invisible. There were no snuffers. The crisis was at hand and something must be done without delay. So I called upon the audiense for snuffers. After some bustle they were produced. I snuffed the candle and went on. I had not proceeded far when one of the children got loose from its mother's arms, ran up to me, seized me by the knees and, raising itself on tip-toe, looked me earnestly in the face, as much as to say, “Do take me - do take me.' It was no time to play with children, so on I preached with as much composure as I could. The child continued playing about me for some time, unmolested by mother, myself, or any part of the audience, and at length tottered back whence it came. After the lecture I was informed that the number of my hearers was about sixty, and that many who had never heard one of our denomination preach, had coine a distance of several miles,
DEATH WITHOUT WARNING.
131 * Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.'
Perhaps the reader may be willing by this time to turn from incidents of an amusing to one of a serious character.
The changes of the world and the uncertainty of life have ever been themes of solemn declamation and warning. Reposing on the lap of prosperity and buoyed up by the joyous spirit of health it is difficult for us to realize these unquestioned and unquestionable truths. We are told that we know not what a day may bring forth, and yet we lay our plans and anticipate such and such issues almost with certainty. The events of every day are, as it were, mapped out before our vision, and we feel very much as if we had the determination and arrangegement of all things in our hands. We seem to be unaware that all changes and events are under the direction of superior intelligence, that our own times are at the disposal of him who called us into existence.
We are very likely to say to ourselves the following, or something similar : To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city and continue there a year and buy and sell and get gain ;' whereas, in the language of the apostle, we know not what shall be on the morrow, for what is our life? It is even a vapor.' We should, as the apostle would have us, recognize the providence of God. We should bear in mind that life is uncertain and that we can132 DEATH WITHOUT WARNING. not count with any assurance upon a succession of years, or months, or even days. This should be the language of our lips-If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that."
These thoughts have been suggested to my mind by an event of melancholy interest.
The circumstances were of that nature that I cannot but feel myself justified in alluding to them in a public manner. It is not however my intention to flatter the deceased, or even to discuss the elements of his character, but to contemolate the manner of his death and indulge in those reflections which naturally arise. If those who read derive any spiritual benefit from the contemplation of this event, the purpose for which it is introduced will be answered. I trust the privilege will be granted me of a somewhat minute narration.
On Saturday, 14th October, 1837, I went to Scituate. The clergyman of the Parish being absent with his family on a visit to Connecticut, accommodations were provided for me at the residence of Dr. Otis, the principal physician of the place. Some years previous I had been at his house, and of course did not feel myself to be a perfect stranger. He received me in that cordial and hospitable manner for which he was distinguished. He had been indisposed for a few days from a disorder common to the season, but now considered himself as about recovered. This disorder was altogether independent of that which so sudDEATH WITHOUT WARNING. 133 denly brought him to his end. His countenance indicated health and the enjoyment of life. I remarked to him, in the course of the conversation that his aspect was that of one who had been favored with good health. "Yes,' said he, I have been highly favored, and I ought to be grateful. Since I commenced the practice of physic — which is forty-five years — I have never been prevented by indisposition from visiting my patients day and night. I have never been really sick.' Very remarkable indeed,' I replied. “You have been truly favored.' He further observed, I have been in the practice so long I have got tired of it. It is no object to me,and if I find my health at all affected hereafter, I shall give up the most of my business.' He retired for the night in good season, and early in the morning was called to visit a patient. He went, and seemed to be perfectly well when he returned, and continued so through the day. During the evening he was in uncommonly good spirits, conversed with great freedom on a variety of subjects, and was alternately playful and serious. In the course of the evening he had much to say about the old English worthies in literature, and sent his daughter for a copy of Goldsmith's essays and poems. He read aloud to me the Retaliation', in which are contained the portraits of various literary characters of distinction. He read with peculiar interest, and reread the descriptions of the character of Burke, Richard Cumberland, David Garrick, Sir Joshua