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Frank Leward: Memorials

Mr. Saunders to Frank

page 190

Mr. Saunders to Frank.

Woodbine Cottage, Rydal Water, Westmoreland.

My dear Frank,—Though so far away you are not absent from my thoughts, and though you never write to me I often hear of your wonderful migrations and doings from Bampton, and right glad I am when I do get any news of you however strange the news may be. We did think you were settled in New Zealand becoming a Cræsus of the new world, I may say of the very newest world, and suddenly we find you delivered over to the extortioner and obliged to fly on woven wings over the warm Pacific amongst South Sea-Islands and brown islanders to what used in my young days to be called the new world before such people as you went about discovering newer. Whether my boy you are in the old world with us or seeking golden ore in the new with a reckless band of wild adventurers believe you have always warm friends waiting anxiously to hear from you and ready to welcome you when your return.

Bampton is getting on splendidly. I met one of the leaders of his Circuit who was passing this way lately, and he told me Bampton was looked upon as one of the most promising juniors, and whenever I hear from him he seems labouring under a burden of briefs. I saw him in London lately. He is comfortably settled in charming chambers in the Temple, and though overworked by day and not averse to society at night, I page 191found he managed to do a great deal of good privately, and there is scope for that in London.

After I left him, I went to Bath at his request. He thought I might be able to fulfill your mission better than he could. My dear boy it was a sad mission. I suppose you have guessed the whole truth before now. Your mother has been living at the Glades with Miss Herbert for some time. I had a long interview with Miss Herbert. Then I visited your mother in her room. She was looking well but she did not know me. For a moment when I spoke of you and how I had known you from your childhood and of your school-days at Upton she looked up wistfully, as though some cord in her heart had been struck, then she burst into tears and I was obliged to leave. The scene was extremely affecting.

In fine weather they say she sits for hours in the little summer-house they call the Hermitage which looks over the plain, with Bath in the distance. She will not allow any one else to come near it. She says she is keeping watch there for her son who has gone away but is coming back. This idea seems to have taken possession of her mind and only when spoken to on that subject will she converse. At other times she is silent.

Miss Herbert gave me a bad account of your Father's health, you have no doubt since heard of his death. Nil nisi bonum Frank remember he was your father.

Your brother prefers to live at Southampton, and that arrangement seems the wisest.

page 192

I am afraid this letter will seem most mournful, but truth is better than lies, and I have told you all.

"O, nostra vita, ch' è si bella in vista,
Com' perde agevolmente in un mattino
Quel che 'n molt' anni a gran pena s'aquista,"

Have you read any of Petrarch's sonnets in morte di Madonna Laura? Shall I send you them? They are very beautiful. Do try and keep up some little love of literature, it is such a comfort in loneliness and sorrow to have the great souls of the past come forth from their stillness to talk to you, and they are so generous they will do it for the asking. Farewell my dear boy never let too long an interval pass without writing either to me Or to Bampton.—Your old and affectionate friend,

A. M. Saunders.

25 Nov. 1850.