Alone Together All the Way
Amelia Alderson Opie's Life Journey from Self to Self
1827. My Journal, New Year's Day.30
Too unwell to venture to the Sick Poor Committee to-day. Sorry to begin the year with the omission of a duty. . . . . The day was calm, on the whole; but I was not satisfied with myself; nay, far otherwise. Read the 46th Psalm to the servants. Felt the force of the words, 'Be still, and know that I am God;' and also the comfort of 'God is our refuge, a very present help in trouble.'
(21st of 1st mo.) Rose better in health, after a peaceful night, and felt calm and thankful. Walked to Bracondale; made calls there, and attended the Infant School Committee. In the evening was a party; the conversation not general, but rather pleasant. I believe things and public persons, not private individuals, were talked of; this is always desirable, but rare. . . . Had only time to read a psalm to the servants, which I regret. On looking over the day, I had, in one respect, much self-blame to undergo. Night peaceful and favoured, but my morning thoughts full of painful recollections of little slights and trials. Oh, my pride of heart! not subdued yet. 'Oh for a broken, contrite heart!'
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(4th day). Had a sweet, sleepful night; but have passed a self-indulgent day. Read F. Hemans' poetry; it is unique and exquisite, breathing always of salvation and heaven. I felt comfort while reading A. L. Barbauld's beautiful hymn, 'Behold, where breathing love divine!' I hoped I was not slow to kind offices; but other convictions kept me full of counteracting humility . . . . I am so dissatisfied with myself that I dare hardly ask, or expect, a blessing on my labours for others. How cold and dead in the spirit I feel to-night! but I know 'we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous,' and how I need one!
(7th, 1st day.) A quiet night, and very satisfactory morning meeting . . . Wrote a serious letter, with Scripture quotations to L. E., with two copies of J. J. Gurney's Letter; may the gift be blessed to him! Read about eighty pages of a book lent me by Dr. Ash, called, 'The Grounds of a Holy Life.' Read Paul's fine address to Agrippa to the servants, and remarks on the Epistle to Titus, by H. Tarford. I hope they understood it: it explains the nature of grace, and clearly. Cough very troublesome to-day, and now to bed, thankful for the mercies and favours of the day. The poor Duke of York! would I knew what his death-bed hopes and feelings were, and on what grounded!
(14th.) A night of cough, but of comfort, and rose in spirits; had a painfully windy walk to meeting. An agreeable surprise there. J. J. G. returned this morning unexpectedly from London: he was much favoured in his ministry to-day, morning and evening. Afterwards I called on poor old B. and read 43rd Isaiah to him; and on poor P. U., and found her very low indeed and no wonder; these are early times with her yet, poor bereaved being! The sight of such upsetting and destroying grief is very affecting, and I have only too much sympathy with her. We have both lost our earthly all. I was prevented, by the weather, from calling on the M.'s, and this was fortunate, as the wind had brought down their chimneys in a most destructive manner, though providentially no lives were lost, as they had taken alarm, and removed the children: truly 'His tender mercies are over all his works.' A quiet evening; read to the servants, and hope they understood.
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I left [Earlham] grateful for many happy hours spent there. On my return, was alone all the afternoon and evening; read in the Italian Bible, and to the servants, and am going to bed comforted and thankful; but I had, during the morning, one of my paroxysms of regret for ill-fulfilled duties, and was 'brought very low;' but He 'helped me,' and all is peace again, and I shall lie down in quiet.
(25th.) To meeting; afterwards went a round of visits to invalid friends, and a poor woman. In the afternoon went out again, and visited another afflicted invalid; and felt my mind tenderly impressed with pity, and thankfulness for my own health . . .
(30th.) Rose well and happy, and settled my weekly accounts; in the evening wrote letters. I have been comforted all day, through the tender, sorrowful remembrance of him who is gone; and the memory of his deep and ever-enduring and unselfish love is frequently recurring and clinging to me; and death alone, I believe, can ever banish him from my daily and fond, grateful recollection; but 'it is well.' I can say so from the bottom of my heart, and though I remain, I murmur not. Now to bed, with thankfulness, though with tears.
(2nd February, 2nd mo.) An idle, and so far, I fear, a sinful day; gave 1l. to case that touched me; it was, I fear, too much, but could not help it. . . Dear O. Woodhouse here; glad to feel that a son of my beloved cousin, and bearing his name, is under my roof. Our evening has been placid; spent part in talk, and part in reading. Now to bed, feeling rather depressed that I have done nothing to-day to improve myself, except reading in the Bible. I begin to feel that my time must be made profitable, or I cannot be happy; my solitary evenings are my shortest time, and happiest, because employed. Oh that I had earlier thought thus! Then would 'my peace have flowed as a river, and my righteousness as the waves of the sea,' perhaps but I am, and was vile.
(5th.) Rose cheerful, and went to visit various friends. To my dear father's grave and the other graves of those dear to me. How I wished he might see me and read my heart!
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(26th.) Wrote letters. A time of storm and calm; one of my paroxysms of grief for the dead, and self-blame for neglected duties, succeeded by calm and peacefulness. Paid three visits of charity, and went to the workhouse. Carried coquilles and oranges. Saw the child, and thought her perhaps obstinate, but still an object of pity and interest. Saw the girl, P. C. Death was in her face. Seemingly she was contrite; but even then, I find, she told me a lie. Oh, that workhouse! 'There's something rotten in the state of Denmark!' Spent a happy evening: good intentions if not good deeds.
(5th of the 3rd mo.) Had a good night and peace of mind when awake. Visited poor B. and admired his thankfulness for living where he can see the blue sky, the birds, and a rainbow as he lies in bed. Went to the S. Poor Committee monthly meeting; but too low to enjoy it. One of my sad, sad fits of regret for omitted filial duties, and for things done and undone, said and unsaid; but feel this ever-recurring trial to be inflicted in mercy, and to keep me lowly and humble before my Creator. Fear, however, that the feeling increases, and that it may be a temptation. Find what H. Girdlestone said to me once, the most comforting reply to my fears: 'You seem to have expected that a sinful being should have performed a duty perfectly; but it was not in human nature to do it.' Well! I have only to hope that my tears and agonies will keep me humble, as they spring from a sense of my own vileness. . . . To the school. Attentive and orderly class. Gave a cake to each child; afterwards had the sale of the work. Dined at my uncle's at six. . . . . My friends looking well and in spirits. Thankful to see them so. All good be with them! Finished reading the 'Hedge of Thorns' to the servants. I lost a great deal of time to-day reading an old favourite; felt afterwards displeased, and shocked even, at my waste of time, and my life so far spent. 'God be merciful to me a sinner.' To bed, thankful for the enjoyment of so many and unmerited mercies. What a generous Master we serve!
(6th of the 5th mo.) Sad indolence and neglect; not a line written in my journal since the 21st of last month. Oh for a power to be more diligent in the future; but how soon, through life, have I been weary in well-doing! To-day at the meeting I felt deeply and solemnly engaged in secret prayer. Two of my friends to dinner. How little either of them, poor things, seemed to think of their great change, though one is seventy-six, the other seventy-three! Dress, cards, the world. But let me look to my own blindness and worldliness, and not censure theirs; and to me the voice has spoken 'Come,' and how I have I obeyed it? Alas! Visited a sick friend, and a poor lost girl, just released from jail. Read Rutherford's letters all the afternoon. Wrote for votes for a charity-boy. Read to the servants, and to bed, not so dissatisfied as usual with my day's work. May I be humbled, and enabled to rise early to my work to-morrow, and may the labours of my pen be blessed!
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