Sunning Hill

To Lady Olivia Sparrow, [20? October 1816]

Lest our excellent Bishop should have left (which I hope he has found a salutary rest from his labours) I write strait to you. My reason for writing so soon is that you would naturally conclude Mr. Wilberforce would have been here and consequently you would expect to know somewhat of the result. But mark this fresh instance of the uncertainty of all human things! He had fixed the day of his coming to which we were looking forward with that pleasure which his presence never fails to give. But the day before yesterday when we were looking out for him from , arrives instead of himself a letter dated Sunning Hill,* to which place he had been travelling nearly all night in order to take the last farewell of his beloved Sister Mrs. Stephen!* She had been long declining but there was no reason to expect she was so near her end. Her most tender and affectionate husband implored Mr. W– to come to her, but it was too late, she expired while he was on the road. Worn out as she was with suffering and disease nothing could surpass the affection of Mr. Stephen, his grief is proportionally great. For my own part it is a new rent made in my friendships. For thirty years there has been subsisted between us the most entire and cordial friendship. /Tho/ Always sickly and very nervous, she had a great flow of wit and humour with strong reasoning powers. Her delight was to hold a religious debate with Dean Milner.* But tho fond of arguing, she was one of the humblest Christians I ever knew. Humility and self distrust were indeed distinguishing features in her character. She had for many years conquered entirely her love of the world, and spent a large portion of her time in religious exercises. She was often tormented with doubts of her own state when I should have been glad to have stood in her Shoes.