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LADY RUSSEL'S LETTERS.
THESE beautiful and interesting letters of Lady Russel were written after the death of her husband, the lord William Russel, the virtuous patriot, the friend of Algernon Sidney, and this zealous co-operator in the same glorious cause, who was beheaded 21st of July, 1683. They were copied from the originals, reposited in the library of Woburn Abbey, by Thomas Sellwood, who lived in her family; from whose MSS. they were faithfully transcribed and printed. Though most of the letters in this collection were written by lady Russel, there are sundry others by persons, some of the highest rank, to her.
Lady Russel to Dr. Fitzwilliam*.
I need not tell you, good doctor, how little capable I have been of such an exercise as thist. You will soon find how unfit I am still for it, since my yet. disordered thoughts can offer me no other than such words as express the deepest sorrows, and confused, as my yet amazed mind is. But such men as you, and particularly one so much my friend, will, I know, bear with my weakness, and compassionate my distress, as you have already done by your good letter, and excellent prayer. I endeavour to make the best use I can of both; but I am so evil and unworthy a creature, that though I have desires, yet I have no dispositions, or worthiness, towards receiving comfort. You, that knew us both, and how we lived, must allow I have just cause to bewail my loss. I know it is common with others to lose a friend; but to have lived with such a one, it may be questioned how few can glory in the like happiness, so consequently lament the like loss. Who can but shrink at such a
* A divine for whom lady Russel had a great esteem and friendship; he had been chaplain to her father, as he was af terwards to the duke of York; rector of Cottenham in Cam bridgeshire, and canon of Windsor; which preferments he lost after the revolution, upon refusa of the oaths. Birch' Life of Tillotson.
+ Lord Russel, her husband, was executed, or rather mur dered, July 21, 1683.
blow, till by the mighty aids of his Holy Spirit, we will let the gift of God, which he hath put into our hearts, interpose? That reason which sets a measure to our souls in prosperity, will then suggest many things which we have seen and heard, to moderate us in such sad circumstances as mine. But alas! my understanding is clouded, my faith weak, sense strong, and the devil busy to fill my thoughts with false notions, difficulties, and doubts as of a future condition *. of prayer: but this I hope to make matter of humiliation, not sin. Lord, let ne understand the reason of these dark and wounding providences, that I sink not under the discouragements of my own thoughts: I know I have deserved my punishment, and will be silent under it; but yet secretly my heart mourns, too sadly I fear, and cannot be comforted, because I have not the dear companion and sharer of all my joys and sorrows. I want him to talk with, to walk with, to eat and sleep with; all these things are irksome to ine now; the day unwelcome, and the night so too; all company and meals I would avoid, if it might be; yet all this is, that I enjoy not the world in my, own way, and this sure hinders my comfort; when I see my children before me, I remember the pleasure he took in them; this makes my heart shrink. Can I regret his quitting a lesser good for a bigger? Oh!
* Two or three words torn off.
if I did stedfastly believe, I could not be dejected; for I will not injure myself to say, I offer my mind any inferior consolation to supply this loss. No; I most willingly forsake this world, this vexatious, troublesome world, in which I have no other busi. ness, but 'to rid my soul from sin, secure by faith and a good conscience my eternal interests, with patience and courage bear my eminent misfortunes, and ever hereafter be above the smiles and frowus of it. And when I have done the remnant of the work appointed me on earth, then joyfully wait for the heavenly perfection in God's good time, when by his infinite mercy
may be accounted worthy to 'enter into the same place of rest and repose where he is gone, for whom only I grieve I do*
fear. From that contemplation must come my best support. Good doctor, you will think, as you have reason, that I set no bounds, when I let myself loose to my complaints; but I will release you, first fervently asking the continuance of your prayers for
Your infinitely afflicted,
R. RUSSELL. Woborne Abbey, 30th September, 1684.
* A word torn oft.