The Way of All Flesh HTML version

Chapter 25
Three or four years after the birth of her daughter, Christina had had one more child. She
had never been strong since she married, and had a presentiment that she should not
survive this last confinement. She accordingly wrote the following letter, which was to be
given, as she endorsed upon it, to her sons when Ernest was sixteen years old. It reached
him on his mother's death many years later, for it was the baby who died now, and not
Christina. It was found among papers which she had repeatedly and carefully arranged,
with the seal already broken. This, I am afraid, shows that Christina had read it and
thought it too creditable to be destroyed when the occasion that had called it forth had
gone by. It is as follows -
"BATTERSBY, March 15th, 1841.
"My Two Dear Boys,--When this is put into your hands will you try to bring to mind the
mother whom you lost in your childhood, and whom, I fear, you will almost have
forgotten? You, Ernest, will remember her best, for you are past five years old, and the
many, many times that she has taught you your prayers and hymns and sums and told you
stories, and our happy Sunday evenings will not quite have passed from your mind, and
you, Joey, though only four, will perhaps recollect some of these things. My dear, dear
boys, for the sake of that mother who loved you very dearly--and for the sake of your
own happiness for ever and ever--attend to and try to remember, and from time to time
read over again the last words she can ever speak to you. When I think about leaving you
all, two things press heavily upon me: one, your father's sorrow (for you, my darlings,
after missing me a little while, will soon forget your loss), the other, the everlasting
welfare of my children. I know how long and deep the former will be, and I know that he
will look to his children to be almost his only earthly comfort. You know (for I am
certain that it will have been so), how he has devoted his life to you and taught you and
laboured to lead you to all that is right and good. Oh, then, be sure that you ARE his
comforts. Let him find you obedient, affectionate and attentive to his wishes, upright,
self-denying and diligent; let him never blush for or grieve over the sins and follies of
those who owe him such a debt of gratitude, and whose first duty it is to study his
happiness. You have both of you a name which must not be disgraced, a father and a
grandfather of whom to show yourselves worthy; your respectability and well-doing in
life rest mainly with yourselves, but far, far beyond earthly respectability and well-doing,
and compared with which they are as nothing, your eternal happiness rests with
yourselves. You know your duty, but snares and temptations from without beset you, and
the nearer you approach to manhood the more strongly will you feel this. With God's
help, with God's word, and with humble hearts you will stand in spite of everything, but
should you leave off seeking in earnest for the first, and applying to the second, should
you learn to trust in yourselves, or to the advice and example of too many around you,
you will, you must fall. Oh, 'let God be true and every man a liar.' He says you cannot
serve Him and Mammon. He says that strait is the gate that leads to eternal life. Many
there are who seek to widen it; they will tell you that such and such self-indulgences are
but venial offences--that this and that worldly compliance is excusable and even