9 January 2015

With This Melancholy Charm

John Foster, "On a Man's Writing Memoirs of Himself," Essays in a Series of Letters (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1833), pp. 15-16:
Some persons can recollect certain particular sentences or conversations which made so deep an impression, perhaps in some instances they can scarcely tell why, that they have been thousands of times recalled, while innumerable others have been forgotten; or they can revert to some striking incident, coming in aid of instruction, or being of itself a forcible instruction, which they seem even now to see as plainly as when it happened, and of which they will retain a perfect idea to the end of life. The most remarkable circumstances of this kind deserve to be recorded in the supposed memoirs. In some instances, to recollect the instructions of a former period will be to recollect too the excellence, the affection, and the death, of the persons who gave them. Amidst the sadness of such a remembrance, it will be a consolation that they are not entirely lost to us. Wise monitions, when they return on us with this melancholy charm, have more pathetic cogency than when they were first uttered by the voice of a living friend. It will be an interesting occupation of the pensive hour, to recount the advantages which we have received from the beings who have left the world, and to reinforce our virtues from the dust of those who first taught them.