HE was alone. The inevitable had happened, and to add sorrow to sorrow he was left with six motherless children.
As he writes in a later ode:
My heart was dead,
Dead of devotion and tired memory.
Vainly he attempted to recapture her lost presence. He reread her letters, he studied her portrait, and kept beside him small intimate reminders of her--a pair of gloves, her favourite book ( Jeremy Taylor Holy Living and Holy Dying) which he read, trying to find comfort. But she was dead. Like Eurydice, she had gone on a long journey far beyond recall.
He withdrew from the world of letters in which he had moved with his adored Emily, and courageously determined to devote himself to the upbringing of his children. He was not really suited by temperament for the task. He had no patience with all the little irritating and trifling failings of children, but he did all he could to adapt himself to the new circumstances.
In a remarkable letter to William Barnes, the Dorsetshire poet, who had suffered a like bereavement, he wrote on July 16th, just after his own wife's death:
Your letter to my sister-in-law (my wife's sister and brother's wife) was a real happiness to me. The number of my children is the same as yours, and it is much to find that you are able to speak from a matured experience of the result of a like loss so consolingly. I can already perceive and fully feel the love of God in this inexpressible loss. It was the thing my life required. It will be easy to draw near to Christ now. She is with Him, and it will be not a double but a four-fold power of tenderness and watchfulness, which will henceforward be in me, to supply their mother's