No one of the hundreds that were present at the sale and dispersion of the Babraham flock could have thought that the remaining days of the great and good man were to be so few on earth. He was then about sixty-five years of age, of stately, unbending form and face radiant and genial with the florid flush of that Indian Summer which so many Englishmen wear late in those autumnal years that bend and pale American forms and faces to "the sere and yellow leaf" of life. But the sequel proved that he did not abdicate his position too early. In a little more than a year from this event, his spirit was raised to higher fellowships and folded with those of the pure and blest of bygone ages. The incidents and coincidents of the last, great moments of his being here, were remarkable and affecting. Neither he nor his wife died at the home they had made so happy with the beauty and savor of their virtues. Under another and distant roof they both laid themselves down to die. The husband's hand was linked in his wife's, up to within a few short steps of the river's brink, when, touched with the cold spray of the dark waters, it fell from its hold and was superseded by the strong arm of the angel of the covenant, sent to bear her fast across the flood. In life they were united to a oneness seldom witnessed on earth; in death they were not separated except by the thinnest partition. Though her spirit was taken up first to the great and holy communion above, the "ministering angel of God's love let her body remain with him as a pledge until his own spirit was called to join hers in the joint mansion of their eternal rest. On the very day that her body was carried to its long home, his own unloosed, to its upward flight, the soul that had made it shine for half a century like a temple erected to the Divine Glory. The years allotted to him on earth were even to a day. Just sixty-six were measured off to him, and then "the wheel ceased to turn at the cistern," and he died on his birthday. An affecting coincidence also marked the departure of his beloved wife. She left on the birthday of her eldest son, who had intended to make the anniversary the dating-day of domestic happiness, by choosing it for his marriage.
A few facts will suffice for the history of the closing scene. About the middle of October, 1862, Mrs. Webb, whose health seemed failing, went to visit her brother, Henry Marshall, Esq., residing in Cambridge. Here she suddenly became much worse, and the prospect of her recovery more and more doubtful. Mr. Webb was with her immediately on the first unfavorable turn of her illness, together with other members of the family. When he realised her danger, and the hope of her surviving broke down within him, his physical constitution succumbed under the impending blow, and two days before her death, he was prostrated by a nervous fever, from which he never rallied, but died on the 10th of November. Although the great visitation was too heavy for his flesh and blood to bear, his spirit was strengthened to drink this last cup of earthly trial with beautiful serenity and submission. It was strong enough to make his quivering lips to say, in distinct and audible utterance, and his closing eyes to pledge the truth and depth of the sentiment, "Thy will be done!" One who stood over him in these last moments says, that, when assured of his own danger, his countenance only seemed to take on a light of greater happiness. He was conscious up to within a few minutes of his death, and, though unable to speak articulately, responded by expressions of his countenance to the words and looks of affection addressed to him by the dear ones surrounding his bed. One of them read to him a favorite hymn, beginning with "Cling to the Comforter!" When she ceased, he signed to her to repeat it; and, while the words were still on her lips, the Comforter came at his call, and bore his waiting spirit away to the heavenly companionship for which it longed. As it left the stilled temple of its earthly habitation, it shed upon the delicately-carved lines of its marble door and closed windows a sweet gleam of the morning twilight of its own happy immortality.
A long funeral cortege attended the remains of the deceased from Cambridge to their last resting place in the little village churchyard of Babraham. Beside friends from neighboring villages, the First Cambridgeshire Mounted Rifle Corps joined the procession, together with a large number of the county police force. His body was laid down to its last, long rest beside that of his wife, who preceded him to the tomb only by a few days. Though Stratford-upon-Avon, and Dryburgh Abbey may attract more American travellers to their shrines, I am sure many of them, with due perception of moral worth, will visit Babraham, and hold it in reverent estimation as the home of one of the world's best worthies, who left on it a biograph which shall have a place among the human-life-scapes which the Saviour of mankind shall hang up in the inner temple of His Father's glory, as the most precious tokens and trophies of the earth, on which He shared the tearful experiences of humanity, and bore back to His throne all the touching memories of its weaknesses, griefs, and sorrows.
A movement is now on foot to erect a suitable monument to his memory. It may indicate the public estimation in which his life and labors are held that, already, about £10,000 have been subscribed towards this testimonial to his worth. The monument, doubtless, will be placed in the great Agricultural Hall, which he did so much to found. His name will wear down to coming generations the crystal roofage of that magnificent edifice as a fitting crown of honor.