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“When thou adorest Him, lest thy mind linger in the flesh and thou fail to be quickened by the Spirit, “It is the Spirit,” saith He, “ that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing.”... Some of His disciples ... took foolishly what He had said ; they had carnal thoughts of it, and imagined that our Lord was to separate certain particles from His own Body, to give unto them. ... But the Twelve having remained, He instructed them, and said unto them, “ The words that I speak unto you are spirit and life.” Understand what I have said to you spiritually; it is not this Body which you see, that you are to eat, nor to drink that Blood which they will shed who shall crucify Me It is a certain Sacrament which I have entrusted to you; spiritually understood, it will give you life. Though it must needs be visibly celebrated, it is meet to be thought of as something invisible.'” -(p. 126.)
“Fresh from th' atoning sacrifice
(Hymn for Holy Communion.)
In the latter part of the year 1864 Mr. KEBLE was very much distressed about the recent judgment of the Privy Council. He was deeply intent upon averting from the Church, as far as might be, the evil effect of that judgment which he so much dreaded. Those who heard him address the Church Congress at Bristol on the 11th of October, 1864, will never forget the deep earnestness with which he spoke about the doctrine of the eternal punishment of the accursed.
These things weighed heavily on his mind; his brain was overtaxed. Without any relaxation of his own parish work, he felt it his duty to contend in controversial argument with those who looked upon Church
matters in a different light from himself; while at the same time there was the constant strain of deep anxiety for Mrs. KEBLE. All this was too much for him. In the very midst of an important controversy in the evening of St. Andrew's Day, 1864, it pleased God to send upon him a stroke of paralysis—slight indeed, but unmistakable.
From that time, as regards his health and strength, he was an altered man. He was indeed partially raised up, and restored to his friends with much of the freshness of his earlier days, but he was unable to use with safety any great exertion of mind or body. In the following summer he was sufficiently recruited to take some part in the services at church; but he was much from home, both on account of his own impaired health, and that of his dear wife.
In the autumn of 1865 he was rendered very anxious by an unusually violent attack of illness sent upon her. On the IIth of October in that year he left Hursley for Bournemouth with Mrs. KEBLE-never to return there again during his life. He was anxious to remain at home over his wedding-day, and it proved to be the last he had to spend on earth.
On the very Sunday before he left home for the last time, besides taking share in the Sunday services in his own parish church, (celebrating the Holy Communion and reading the Lessons,) he walked with the writer of this memoir to visit some of his poor people at a distance, and entertained at dinner afterwards some friends who had come unexpectedly to see him. He had about him then his usual simple cheerfulness of manner, though deeply concerned about the feeble state of Mrs. KEBLE, who was confined to her bedroom at that time.
He seemed indeed to fulfil in himself his own words:
“Be thou through life a little child ;
By manhood undefiled;
(Lyra Innocentium, p. 191, ist edit.)
At Bournemouth Mr. KEBLE for several months fairly enjoyed his health, and seemed lively and active. Mrs. KEBLE continued to fail, and caused him deep anxiety. He looked forward to her death as to a certainty near at hand, and fully trusted in God to support him under the trial which seemed so near him; saying to a friend some such words as these, “If any man ever was prepared for such a trial, surely I have been."
In a letter to some friends near his own home, dated “Bournemouth, Jan. 2, 1866,” he said, “You will be sorry to hear, if you have not heard it already, that the hope of amendment in my dear wife's health has, humanly speaking, quite passed away, and she grows weaker from day to day I fear. .... It is a comfort that, although of course she still suffers greatly in her breath and from palpitation, those frightful spasms have not returned since she consulted Dr.
Strokes of paralysis with persons advanced in life have usually affected to a serious extent the minds of those upon whom they have been sent. It was far otherwise with Mr. KEBLE. His mind was clear as long as consciousness remained to him, and that was nearly to the last. By the advice of the medical men who attended him he was kept from deep study, as well as from preaching, after his seizure, up to the time of his death ; but his reasoning faculties continued. Even the effect of the disease upon his muscles had latterly almost subsided, so that his handwriting had very nearly resumed all its former clearness. Very shortly before his death, he gave to the world his calm, clear, and mature judgment upon the ritual question), and he remained fully alive to all the other important Church matters of the day. On the very Sunday before Mr. KEBLE left Hursley for the last time, the writer of this little memoir applied to him for advice on a somewhat difficult ministerial point, during the walk before alluded to, and the advice was given with a vigour and freshness which spoke of no failure of mental power. Again, at Bournemouth, the writer of this memoir noticed the clear memory and bright manner which Mr. KEBLE continued to have even in the midst of his deep anxiety, which was enough to have overpowered a man of less vigorous mind.
The Incumbent of Bournemouth has kindly informed the writer of this memoir that Mr. KEBLE offered to take part in the Church services there, but his help was declined “in consideration of his enfeebled state." He was constant in his attendance at Church, and "invariably present" at the mid-day celebration of the Holy Communion on Thursdays as well as on Sundays. “His humble, devout, and reverential manner produced a deep and lasting impression upon those who happened to be near him.”
The place which he usually occupied in the church is now marked by a stained-glass window, illustrating the Te Deum. His likeness has been
" In a letter, dated December, 1865, to be found in the “Literary Churchman” of Jan. 13, 1866, in which he says, with reference to the directions in the Prayer-book about “Ornaments of the Church and of the Ministers thereof,” “I do indeed regret the disregard of that Rubric as a real blemish in our Ecclesiastical practice. ... I for one rejoice whenever and wherever I see that kind of revival successfully and tranquilly accomplished.”
introduced in the last compartment, with the words, “Day by day we magnify Thee.”
Several friends went to visit him at Bournemouth (amongst others the writer of this narrative), and found a most hearty welcome, even in the midst of his deep anxiety. He thanked those who went to see him as if they had conferred a kindness upon him, instead of having received kindness and favour from him in being admitted into his presence, and having heard once more—for the last time—his loving words.
Early in that same January Mrs. KEBLE seemed at the point of death. It appeared to the medical men and others as if she could not have lived through the first week of the new year. But she was spared a little longer, sometimes reduced to great weakness, and then raised up again. It was an anxious time of watching for the holy man, and his strength gave way. Scarcely a week of real illness, and he was gone! Gone to rest for ever!
About one o'clock in the morning of the 29th of March, 1866, being Maundy Thursday, his pure spirit was called to quit its frail resting-place. His last words and his last thoughts, even in the semi-conscious moments preceding death, were about the Upper Chamber in Jerusalem, and the Oneness of the Church. Mingled with these thoughts and words were fragments of Latin prayers which he was, up to the last, repeating to himself.
All persons of religious feeling throughout England seemed stirred when they heard the sad news of the death of the author of “The Christian Year.” Multitudes assembled together at his funeral. Two bishops were present, namely, the Bishops of Salisbury and of Brechin ; others
See the description and woodcut of this window towards the end of the volume.