Thursday, November 29, 2007

Death in the family

Maria Edgeworth to Mrs. Ruxton.

Edgeworthtown, Feb. 11, 1790.

Your friendship, my dear Aunt Ruxton, has, I am sure, considerably alleviated the anguish of mind my father has had to feel, and your letter and well-deserved praise of my dear mother's fortitude and exertion were a real pleasure to her. She has indeed had a great deal to bear, and I think her health has suffered, but I hope not materially. In my father's absence, she ordered everything, did everything, felt everything herself. Unless, my dear aunt, you had been present during the last week of dear Honora's * sufferings, I think you could not form an idea of anything so terrible or so touching. Such extreme fortitude,such affection, such attention to the smallest feelings of others, as she showed on her deathbed! My father has carefully kept his mind occupied ever since his return,but we cannot help seeing his feelings at intervals. He has not slept for two or three nights, and is, I think, far from well to-day.

He said the other day, speaking of Honora, "My dear daughters, I promise you one thing, I never will reproach any of you with Honora. I will never reproach you with any of her virtues." There could not be a kinder or more generous promise, but I could not help fearing that my father should refrain from speaking of her too much, and that it would hurt hismind. He used to say it was a great relief to him to talk of my mother Honora.
Maria Edgeworth

*Honora Edgeworth, fifteen years old, died of consumption, only daughter of Honora (Sneyd) Edgeworth, Maria's step-mother, number one.

-from The Life and Letters of Maria Edgeworth edited by Augustus J. C. Hare.

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