Plashet, Eleventh Month, 1815
It has pleased Almighty and Infinite Wisdom, to take from us our most dear and tenderly-beloved child, little Betsy; between four and five years old. In receiving her, as well as giving her back again, we have, I believe, been enabled to bless the Sacred Name. On Third day, the 21st after some suffering of body from great sickness, she appeared wonderfully relieved, and I may say raised in spirit; she began by telling me how many hymns and stories she knew, with her countenance greatly animated, A flush on her cheeks, and her eyes very bright, a smile of inexpressible content, almost joy-I think she first said with a powerful voice, ‘How glorious is our Heavenly King, who reigns above the sky”. […] This was expressed on the Third day morning, and she was a corpse on the Fifth day evening; but in her death, there was abundant calls for Thanksgiving; prayer appeared in deed to be answered, as very little, if any suffering seemed to attend her, and no struggle at last; but her breath grow more and more seldom and gentle, till she ceased to breathe.
It sounds like one of those deathbed scenes beloved of Victorian novels which strike a little cord in our contemporary experience, but the fact remains: it was real.
Sarah Gristwood, Recording Angels: The Secret World of Women’s Diaries (1988)