In the gay and crowded city Where the tall and jostling roof-trees Jealous seem of one another, Jealous of the ground they stand on, Each one thrusting out its neighbor From the sunrise, or the sunset, In a boarding school of fashion Was Miranda comprehended, Goal of her supreme ambition.
—Girls were there from different regions, Distant States, and varying costumes, She was beautiful they told her, And her mirror when she sought it Gave concurrent testimony.
—Many teachers met their classes In this favorite Institution Where accomplishments or studies Were pursued as each selected, Or their parents gave commandment. But Miranda was impeded In successful application, By the consciousness of beauty And the vanity it fosters.
—Very fond was she of walking In the most frequented places, Fondly fancying all beholders Gazed on her with admiration. Striking dresses, gay with colors She disported and commended, Not considering that the highest Of attractions in a woman Is simplicity of costume, And a self-forgetful sweetness.
—Men with business over-laden, Men of science, pondering axioms, Men of letters, lost in reverie, She imagined when they passed her Gaz'd with secret admiration, Ask'd in wonder, "who can that be?" Backward turned perchance, to view her, As she lightly glided onward.
—So completely had this beauty Leagued with vanity, uprooted Serious thought and useful purpose, And the nobler ends of being, That even in the solemn Temple Where humility befitteth All who offer adoration, Close observance of the apparel Of acquaintances or strangers, And a self-display intruded On the service of devotion, While her fair cheek oft-times rested Daintily on gloveless fingers Where the radiant jewels sparkled On a hand like sculptured marble.
* * * * *
Meantime in the rural mansion Whence with gladness she departed, Sate the mother and the sister By the hearth-stone or the lamp-light, Thinking of their loved Miranda, Speaking of her, working for her, Writing tender, earnest letters To sustain her mid her studies, Fearing that her health might suffer By the labor and privation That a year at school demanded.
—As the autumnal evenings lengthen'd, Bertha with a filial sweetness Sought her mother's favorite authors, And with perfect elocution Made their sentiments and feelings, Guests around the quiet fireside.
—Page of Livy, or of Caesar, Stirring scenes of tuneful Maro, From their native, stately numbers To the mother's ear she rendered; Or with her o'er ancient regions, Fallen sphynx, or ruin'd column, Led by guiding Rollin, wandered, Deeply mused with saintly Sherlock, Or through Milton's inspiration Scanned the lore of forfeit Eden.
* * * * *
With the vertic rays of Summer Homeward came the fair Miranda. How the village people wonder'd At her fashions, and her movements, How she made the new piano Tremble to its inmost centre With andante, and bravura, What a piece she had to show them Of Andromache the Trojan, Wrought in silks of every color, And 'twas said a foreign language Such as princes use in Paris, She could speak to admiration.
—Greatly their surprise amused her, But the Mother and the Sister With their eagle-eyed affection, Spied a thorn amid the garland, Heard the sighing on her pillow, Saw the flush invade her forehead, And were sure some secret sorrow Rankled in that snowy bosom.
* * * * *
Rumor, soon with hundred voices Whisper'd of a dashing lover, Irreligious and immoral, And the anxious Mother counsel'd Sad of heart her fair-hair'd daughter.
—Scarce with any show of reverence Listen'd the impatient maiden, Then with tearless eyes wide open Like full orbs of shadeless sapphire All unpausing, thus responded.
—"I have promised Aldebaran, To be his,—alone,—forever! And I'll keep that promise, Mother, Though the firm skies fall around me, And yon stars in fragments shatter'd, Each with thousand voices warn'd me.
—Thou hast spoken words reproachful, Doubting of his soul's salvation, Of his creed I never question'd, But where'er he goes, I follow. Whatsoe'er his lot, I'll share it, Though it were the darkest chamber In the lowest hell. 'Twere better There with him, than 'mid the carols Of the highest heaven, without him." Swan-like arms were wrapped around her With a cry of better pleading, "Oh Miranda!—Oh my Sister! Gather back the words you've spoken, Quickly, ere the angel write them Weeping on the doom's day tablet.
—You have grieved our blessed Mother: See you not the large tears trickle Down those channels deeply furrow'd Which the widow-anguish open'd? Kneel beside me, Oh my Sister! Darling of my cradle slumbers, Ask the grace of God to cleanse thee From thy blasphemy and blindness, Supplicate the Great Enlightener Here to purge away thy madness, Pray our Saviour to forgive thee."
* * * * *
"Bertha! Bertha! speak not to me, What knowest thou of love almighty? Naught except that craven spirit Measuring, weighing, calculating, That goes shivering to its bridal. On this deathless soul, all hazard Here I take, and if it perish, Let it perish. From the socket This right eye I'd pluck, extinguish This right hand, if he desire it, And go maim'd through all the ages That Eternity can number.
—Prayer is not for me, but action, Against thee, and Her who bare me Stand I at Love's bidding, boldly In the armor that he giveth, For life's battle, strong and ready. —Hush! I've sworn, and I'll confirm it."
* * * * *
In due time, the handsome suitor Paid his devoirs to Miranda, In her own paternal dwelling. Very exquisite in costume, Very confident in manner, Pompous, city-bred, and fearless Was the accepted Aldebaran.
—Axious felt she, lest the customs Of the rustic race around her, So she styled her rural neighbors, Might discourage or disgust him, But he gave them no attention, Quite absorbed in other matters.
—In their promenades together She beheld the people watching Mid their toils of agriculture, Saw them gaze from door and windows, Little ones from gates and fences, On the stylish Alderbaran, And her heart leap'd up exulting.
—Notice took he of the homestead, With an eye of speculation, Ask'd the number of its acres, And what revenue they yielded. Notice took of herds and buildings With their usufruct, and value, Closer note than seem'd consistent With his delicate position; But Miranda, Cupid blinded, No venality detected.
—He, in gorgeous phrase address'd her, With an oriental worship, As some goddess condescending To an intercourse with mortals. Pleas'd was she with such observance, Pleas'd and proud that those around her Should perceive what adoration Was to her, by him accorded.
—When he left, 'twas with the assurance The next visit should be final. Marking on his silver tablet With gay hand, the day appointed When he might return to claim her In the nuptial celebration.
* * * * *
There's a bridal in the spring-time, When the bee from wintry covert Talking to the unsheath'd blossoms, Meditates unbounded plunder, And the bird mid woven branches Brooding o'er her future treasures Harkeneth thrilling to the love-song Of her mate, who nestward tendeth.
—There's a bridal in the spring-time, And the beautiful Miranda Through her veil of silvery tissue Gleams, more beautiful than ever. From the hearth-stone of her fathers, With the deathless love of woman Trusting all for earth or heaven To a mortal's rule and guidance, One, but short time since, a stranger, Forth she goes. The young beholders Gazing on the handsome bridegroom, Gazing on the nuptial carriage, Where the milk-white horses sported Knots of evergreen and myrtle, Felt a pleasure mix'd with envy At a happiness so perfect.
—But more thoughtful ones, instructed By the change of time and sorrow, By the cloud and by the sunbeam, Felt the hazard that attended Such intrustment without limit, Vows that none had right to cancel Save the hand of Death's dark Angel.
* * * * *
Of the sadness left behind her In the mansion whence she parted, Loneliness, and bitter heart-ache, Deep, unutter'd apprehension, Fearful looking for of judgment, It were vain in lays so feeble To attempt a true recital.
—Still, to Mother and to Sister Came epistles from Miranda, Essenc'd and genteelly written, Painting happiness so perfect, So transcending expectation, So surpassing all that fancy In her wildest flights had pencil'd, That even Eden ere the tempter Coil'd himself amid the blossoms Fail'd to furnish fitting symbol.
* * * * *
Heartfelt bliss is never boastful, Like the holy dew it stealeth To the bosom of the violet, Only told by deeper fragrance.
—He who saith "See! see! I'm happy? Happier than all else around me," Leaves, perchance, a doubt behind him Whether he hath comprehended What true happiness implieth.
* * * * *
Oh, the storm-cloud and the tempest! Oh, the dreary night of winter! Drifting snows, and winds careering Down the tall, wide-throated chimney, Like the shrieking ghosts from Hades. Shrieking ghosts of buried legions.
—"Mother! hear I not the wailing Of a human voice?" "My daughter! 'Tis the blast that rends the pine-trees. The old sentry-Oak is broken, Close beside our chamber-window, And its branches all are moaning. 'Tis their grief you hear, my daughter."
* * * * *
But the maiden's car was quicken'd To all plaint of mortal sorrow, And when next, the bitter north wind Lull'd, to gather strength and vigor, For a new exacerbation, Listening close, she caught the murmur, "Hush mein daughter! hush mein baby." Then she threw the door wide open, Though the storm rush'd in upon her, With its blinding sleet and fury.
What beheld she, near the threshold, Prostrate there beside the threshold, But a woman, to whose bosom Clung a young and sobbing infant?
—Oh the searching look that kindled 'Neath those drooping, straining eye-lids, Searching mid the blast and darkness, For some helper in her anguish, Searching, kindling look, that settled Into heavy, deadly slumber, As the waning taper flashes Once, to be relumin'd never.
Still her weak arm clasp'd the baby, Rais'd its pining, pinching features, Faintly cried, "Mein kind! Have pity, Pity, for the love of Jesus!"
—Yes, forlorn, benighted wanderer, Thy poor, failing feet have brought thee Where the love of Jesus dwelleth. Gently in a bed they laid her, Chafed her stiffening limbs and temples, Pour'd the warm, life-giving cordial, But what seem'd the most to cheer her, Were some words by Bertha spoken In her own, dear native language. Voice of Fatherland! it quicken'd All the heart's collapsing heart-strings, As though bath'd, and renovated In the Rhine's blue, rushing waters.
* * * * *
O'er the wildering waste of ocean, Moved by zeal of emigration She had ventured with her husband To this western World of promise, Rainbow-vested El-Dorado.
On that dreary waste of waters He had died, and left her mourning, All unguided, unbefriended. —There the mother-sorrow found her And compell'd her by the weeping Of the new-born, to encounter With a broken-hearted welcome Life once more, which in the torrent of her utter desolation She had cast aside, contemning As a burden past endurance.
—Outcast in this land of strangers, Strange of speech, and strange in manner, She had travel'd, worn and weary, Here and there, with none to aid her, Ask'd for work, and none employ'd her, Ask'd for alms, and few reliev'd her, Till at length, the wintry tempest Smote her near that blessed roof-tree.
* * * * *
Heavy slumber weigh'd her downward, Slumber from whence none awaketh. Yet at morn they heard her sighing, On her pillow faintly sighing, "I am ready! I am ready!" "Leonore! my child! my darling!"
Then they brought the infant to her, Cleanly robed, and sweetly smiling, And the parting soul turn'd backward, And the clay-seal on the eyelids Lifted up to gaze upon it.
Bertha kiss'd the little forehead, Said "mein kind," and lo! a shudder Of this earth's forgotten pleasure Trembled o'er the dying woman, And the white hand cold as marble Strove to raise itself in blessing, For the mother-joy was stronger That one moment, while it wrestled With the pausing king of terrors, Stronger than the king of terrors.
Then they laid her icy fingers Mid the infant's budding ringlets, And the pang and grasp subsided In a smile and whispering cadence, "God, mein God, be praised!"—and silence Settled on those lips forever.
* * * * *
Favor'd is the habitation Where a gentle infant dwelleth, When its brightening eye revealeth The immortal part within it, And its curious wonder scanneth All its wide spread, tiny fingers, And its velvet hand caressing Pats the nurse's cheek and bosom, Hoary Age grows young before it, As the branch that Winter blighted At the touch of Spring reviveth.
When its healthful form evolveth, And with quadrupedal pleasure Creeping o'er the nursery carpet, Aiming still, its flowery surface With faint snatches to appropriate, Or the bolder art essaying On its two round feet to balance And propel the swaying body As with outstretch'd arms it hastens Tottering toward the best beloved, Hope, her freshest garland weaveth Glittering with the dews of morning.
When the lisping tongue adventures The first tones of imitation, Or with magic speed o'ermasters The philosophy of language Twining round the mind of others, Preferences, and pains and pleasures, Tendrils strong, of sentient being, Seeking kindness and indulgence, Loving sports and smiles, and gladness, Tenderest love goes forth to meet it, Love that every care repayeth.
* * * * *
Thus the little German exile Leaning on her foster parents Brought a love that soothed and cheer'd them, And with sweet confiding meekness Taught to older ones the lesson Of the perfect trust, we children Of One Great Almighty Parent Should repose in His protection Goodness and unerring wisdom: Though His discipline mysterious Oft transcendeth feeble reason, And perchance overthrows the fabrics That in arrogance we builded, Call'd our own, and vainly rented To a troop of hopes and fancies, Gay-robed joys, or fond affections.
* * * * *
'Tis a solemn thing and lovely, To adopt a child, whose mother Dwelleth in the land of spirits: In its weakness give it succor, Be in ignorance its teacher, In all sorrow its consoler, In temptation its defender, Save what else had been forsaken, Win for it a crown in Heaven,— Tis a solemn thing and lovely, Such a work as God approveth.
* * * * *
Blessed are the souls that nurture With paternal care the orphan, Neath their roof-tree lending shelter, At their table breathing welcome, Giving armor for the journey And the warfare that awaiteth Every pilgrim, born of woman, Blessed, for the grateful prayer Riseth unto Him who heareth The lone sigh of the forsaken, Bendeth, mid the song of seraphs, To the crying of the ravens, From whose nest the brooding pinion By the archer's shaft was sever'd.
* * * * *
Pomp and wealth, and pride of office With their glitter and their shouting, May not pass through death's dark valley, May not thrill the ear that resteth Mid the silence of the grave-yard; But the deed that wrought in pity Mid the outcast and benighted, In the hovel or the prison, On the land or on the ocean, Shunning still the applause of mortals, Comes it not to His remembrance Who shall say amid the terrors Of the last Great Day of Judgment, "Inasmuch as ye have done it Unto one, the least, the lowest. It was done to Me, your Saviour."
I'll change my measure, and so end my lay, Too long already. I can't manage well The metre of that master of the lyre, Who Hiawatha, and our forest tribes Deftly described. Hexameters, I hate, And henceforth do eschew their company, For what is written irksomely, will be Read in like manner. What did I say last In my late canto? Something, I believe Of gratitude. Now this same gratitude Is a fine word to play on. Many a niche It fills in letters, and in billet-doux,— Its adjective a graceful prefix makes To a well-written signature. It gleams A happy mirage in a sunny brain; But as a principle, is oft, I fear, Inoperative. Some satirist hath said That gratitude is only a keen sense Of future favors. As regards myself, Tis my misfortune, and perhaps, my fault, Yet I'm constrain'd to say, that where my gifts And efforts have been greatest, the return Has been in contrast. So that I have shrunk To grant myself the pleasure of great love Lest its reward might be indifference, Or smooth deceit. Others no doubt have been More fortunate. I trust 'tis often so: But this is my experience, on the scale Of three times twenty years, and somewhat more.
* * * * *
In that calm happiness which Virtue gives, Blent with the daily zeal of doing good, Mother and daughter dwelt. Once, as they came From their kind visit to a child of need, Cheered by her blessings,—at their home they found Miranda and her son. With rapid speech, And strong emotion that resisted tears Her tale she told. Forsaken were they both, By faithless sire and husband. He had gone To parts unknown, with an abandon'd one He long had follow'd. Brokenly she spake Of taunts and wrongs long suffer'd and conceal'd With woman's pride. Then bitterly she pour'd Her curses on his head. With shuddering tears They press'd her to their hearts. "Come back! Come back! To your first home, and Heaven's compassions heal Your wounded spirit." Lovingly they cast Their mantle o'er her, striving to uplift Her thoughts to heavenly sources, and allure To deeds of charity, that draw the sting From selfishness of sorrow." But she shrank From social intercourse, nor took her seat Even in the House of God, lest prying eyes Should gloat upon her downfall. Books, nor work Enticed her, and the lov'd piano's tone Waking sad echoes of the days that were, She seem'd to shun. Her joy was in her child. The chief delight and solace of her life To adorn his dress, and trim his shining curls, Dote on his beauty, and conceal his faults, With weak indulgence. "Oh, Miranda, love! Teach your fair boy, obedience. 'Tis the first Lesson of life. To him, you fill the place Of that Great Teacher who doth will us all To learn submission." But Miranda will'd In her own private mind, not to adopt Such old-world theories, deeming the creed Of the grey-headed Mother, obsolete. —Her boy was fair; but in those manners fail'd That render beauty pleasing. Great regard Had he for self, and play, and dainty food, Unlike those Jewish children, who refused The fare luxurious of Chaldea's king, And on their simple diet grow more fair And healthful than their mates, and wiser too, Than the wise men of Babylon. I've seen Ill-fortune follow those, whose early tastes Were pampered and inured to luxury. Their palates seem'd to overtop the brain, And the rank Dives-pleasure, to subvert Childhood's simplicity of sweet content. —Precocious appetites, when overruled, Or disappointed, lend imperious strength To evil tempers, and a fierce disdain. Methought, our Mother-Land, in this respect Had wiser usages. Her little ones At their own regular, plain table learn'd No culinary criticism, nor claim'd Admission to the richly furnish'd board Nor deem'd the viands of their older friends Pertain'd to them. A pleasant sight it was At close of day, their simple supper o'er, To find them in the quiet nursery laid, Like rose-buds folded in a fragrant sheath To peaceful slumber. Hence their nerves attain'd Firm texture, and the key-stone of the frame, This wondrous frame, so often sinn'd against,— Unwarp'd and undispeptic, gave to life A higher zest. Year after year swept by, And Conrad's symmetry of form and face Grew more conspicuous. Yet he fail'd to win Approval from the pious, or desire To seek him as companion for their sons.
—At school and college he defied restraint, And round the associates of his idle hours Threw a mysterious veil. But rumor spake Of them, as those who would be sure to bring Disgrace and infamy. Strong thirst for gold Sprang with the weeds of vice. His mother's purse Was drain'd for him, and when at length she spake In warm remonstrance, he with rudeness rush'd Out of her presence, or withdrew himself All night from her abode. Then she was fain To appease his anger by some lavish gift From scant resources, which she ill could spare, Making the evil worse. The growth of sin Is rank and rapid when the youthful heart Abjures the sway of duty. Weaving oft The mesh of falsehood, may it not forget What the truth is? The wavering, moral sense Depraved and weaken'd, fails to grasp the clue Of certainty, nor scruples to deny Words utter'd, and deeds done, for conscience sleeps Stifled, and callous. Fearful must it be, When Truth offended and austere, confronts The false soul at Heaven's bar.
* * * * *
An aged man Dwelt by himself upon a dreary moor, And it was whisper'd that a miser's hoard Absorb'd his thoughts. There, at the midnight hour The unwonted flash of lights was seen by those Who chanced to pass, and entering in, they found The helpless inmate murder'd in his bed, And the house rifled. Differing tracks they mark'd Of flying footsteps in the moisten'd soil, And eager search ensued. At length, close hid In a dense thicket, Conrad they espied, His shoes besmear'd with blood. Question'd of those Who with him in this work of horror join'd, He answered nothing. All unmov'd he stood Upon his trial, the nefarious deed Denying, and of his accomplices Disclosing nought. But still there seem'd a chain Of evidence to bind him in its coil, And Justice had her course. The prison bolts Closed heavily behind him, and his doom For years, with felons was incorporate.
* * * * *
Of the wild anguish and despair that reign'd In his ancestral home, no words can give Description meet. In the poor mother's mind Reason forsook its throne. Her last hope gone, Torn by a torrent from her death-like grasp, Having no anchor on the eternal Rock, She plunged beside it, into gulphs profound. —She slept not, ate not, heeded no kind word, Caress of fondness, or benignant prayer: She only shriek'd, "My boy! my beautiful! They bind his hands!" And then with frantic cries She struggled 'gainst imaginary foes, Till strength was gone. Through the long syncope Her never-resting lips essay'd to form The gasping sounds, "My boy! my beautiful! Hence! Caitiffs! hence! my boy! my beautiful!" And in that unquell'd madness life went out, Like lamp before the blast.
* * * * *
With sullen port Of bravery as one who scorns defeat Though it hath come upon him, Conrad met The sentence of the law. But its full force He fail'd to estimate; the stern restraint On liberty of movement, coarsest fare, Stripes for the contumacious, and for all Labor, and silence. The inquiring glance On the new-comer bent, from stolid eyes Of malefactors, harden'd to their lot, And hating all mankind, he coldly shunn'd Or haughtily return'd. Yet there were lights Even in this dark abode, not often found In penal regions, where the wrath of man Is prompt to punish, and remembereth not The mercy that himself doth ask of God.
—A just man was the warden and humane, Not credulous, or easily deceiv'd, But hopeful of our nature, though deprav'd, And for the incarcerate, careful to restrain All petty tyranny. Courteous was he To visitants, for many such there were. Philanthropists, whose happy faith believ'd Prisons reforming schools, came here to scan Arrangements and appliances as guides To other institutions: strangers too, Who 'mid their explorations of the State, Scenery and structures, would not overlook Its model-prison. Now and then, was seen Some care-worn mother, leading by the hand Her froward boy, with hope that he might learn A lesson from the punishment he saw.
—When day was closed and to his narrow cell Bearing his supper, every prisoner went, The night-lock firmly clench'd, beside some grate While the large lamp thro' the long corridors Threw flickering light, the Chaplain often stood Conversing. Of the criminal's past life He made inquiry, and receiv'd replies Foreign from truth, or vague and taciturn: And added pious counsels, unobserv'd, Heeded but slightly, or ill understood.
* * * * *
The leaden-footed weeks o'er Conrad pass'd, With deadening weight. Privation bow'd his pride. The lily-handed, smiting at the forge, Detested life, and meditated means To accomplish suicide. At dusk of eve, While in his cell, on darkest themes he mused, Before his grate, a veiled woman stood.
—She spake not, but her presence made him glad,— A purer atmosphere seem'd breathing round To expand his shrivell'd heart. Fair gifts she brought, Roses fresh-blown, and cates, and fragrant fruits Most grateful to his fever'd lip. "Oh speak! Speak to me!" But she glided light away, And heavenly sweet, her parting whisper said "Good night! With the new moon I'll come again."
* * * * *
"With the new Moon!" Hope! hope! Its magic wand With phosphorescence ting'd that Stygian pool Of chill despair, in which his soul had sank Lower and lower still. Now, at the forge A blessed vision gleam'd. Its mystery woke The romance of his nature. Every day Moved lighter on, and when he laid it down, It breathed "good night!" like a complacent child Going to rest. One barrier less remain'd Between him and the goal, and to each night A tarrying, tedious guest, he bade farewell, Like lover, counting toward his spousal-morn.
* * * * *
But will she come? And then, he blamed the doubt. His pulse beat quicker, as the old moon died. And when the slender sickle of pale gold Cut the blue concave, by his grated door Stood the veil'd visitant. The breath of flowers Foretold her coming. With their wealth she brought Grapes in the cluster, and a clasped Book, The holiest, and the best. "Show me thine eyes!" He pray'd. But still with undrawn veil, she gave The promise of return, in whisper sweet, "Good night! good night! Wilt read my Book? and say Oh Lamb of God, forgive!" So, by the lamp When tardy Evening still'd the din of toil, He read of Him who came to save the lost, Who touch'd the blind, and they receiv'd their sight, The dead young man, and raised him from his bier, Reproved the raging Sea, and it was still: Deeds that his boyhood heard unheedingly. But here, in this strange solitude of pain With different voice they spake. And as he read, The fragrance of the mignionette he loved, Press'd 'tween the pages, lured him onward still.
* * * * *
Now, a new echo in his heart was born, And sometimes mid the weary task, and leer Of felon faces, ere he was aware From a compress'd unmurmuring lip, it broke, O Lamb of God! If still unquell'd Despair Thrust up a rebel standard, down it fell At the o'er-powering sigh, O Lamb of God! And ere upon his pallet low, he sank, It sometimes breathed, "O Lamb of God, forgive! Like the taught lesson of a humbled child.
* * * * *
Yet duly as the silver vested moon Hiding awhile in the dark breast of night Return'd to take her regent watch again Over our sleeping planet, softly came That shrouded visitant, preferring still Like those who guard us lest we dash our foot Against a stone, to do her blessed work Unseen. And with the liberal gifts she brought For body, and for soul, there seem'd to float A legacy of holy themes and thoughts Behind her, like an incense-stream. He mused Oft-times of patience, and the dying love Of our dear Lord, nor yet without remorse Of that unsullied Truth which Vice rejects, And God requires. How beautiful is Truth! Her right-lined course, amid the veering curves And tangents of the world, her open face Seeking communion with the scanning stars, Her grave, severe simplicity of speech Untrammelled by the wiles of rhetoric, By bribes of popular applause unbow'd, In unison with Him she dwells who ruled The tyranny of Chaos, with the words "Let there be light!" Gladly we turn again To that fair mansion mid the rural vales Where first our song awoke. Advancing years Brought to its blessed Lady no regret Or weak complaint for what the hand of Time Had borne away. Enduring charms were hers On which he laid no tax; the beaming smile, The voice of melody, the hand that mark'd Each day with deeds of goodness, and the heart That made God's gift of life more beautiful, The more prolong'd. Its griefs she counted gains, Since He who wisely will'd them cannot err, And loves while He afflicts. Their dialect Was breathed in secret 'tween her soul and Him. But toward mankind, her duties made more pure By the strong heat of their refining fires, Flow'd forth like molten gold. She sought the poor, Counsell'd the ignorant, consoled the sad, And made the happy happier, by her warmth Of social sympathy. She loved to draw The young around her table; well she knew To cheer and teach them, by the tale or song, Or sacred hymn, for music dwelt with her Till life went out. It pleased her much to hear Their innocent merriment, while from the flow And swelling happiness of childhood's heart So simply purchased, she herself imbibed A fuller tide of fresh vitality. Her favor'd guests exultingly rehears'd Their visits to "the Lady," counting each A privilege, not having learned the creed Which modern times inculcate in our land That whatsoe'er is old, is obsolete.
—Still ever at her side, by night and day Was Bertha, entering into every plan, With zealous aid, assuming every care That brought a burden, catching every smile On the clear mirror of a loving heart, Which by reflection doubled. Thus they dwelt, Mother and daughter, in sweet fellowship, One soul betwixt them. Filial piety Thrives best with generous natures. Here was nought Of self to cheek it, so it richly bloom'd Like the life-tree, that yieldeth every month New fruits, still hiding mid its wealth of leaves The balm of healing. In that peaceful home The fair-haired orphan was a fount of joy, Spreading her young heart like a tintless sheet For Love to write on. Sporting 'mid the flowers, Caroling with the birds, or gliding light As fawn, her fine, elastic temperament Took happiest coloring from each varying hour Or changing duty. Kind, providing cares Which younglings often thoughtlessly receive Or thankless claim, she gratefully repaid With glad obedience. Pleas'd was she to bear Precocious part in household industry, Round shining bars to involve the shortening thread, And see the stocking grow, or side by side With her loved benefactresses to work Upon some garment for the ill-clad poor, With busy needle. As their almoner, 'Twas her delight to seek some lowly hut And gliding thence, with noiseless footstep, leave With her kind dole, a wonder whence it came. —A heavenly blessing wrapp'd its wing around The adopted orphanage. Oh ye whose homes Are childless, know ye not some little heart Collapsing, for the need of parent's love, That ye might breathe upon? some outcast lamb That ye might shelter in your fold? content To make the sad eye sparkle, guide the feet In duty's path, bring a new soul to Heaven, And take your payment from the Judge's Voice, At the Last Day? —A tireless tide of joy, A world of pleasure in the garden bound, Open'd to Leonore. From the first glance Of the frail Crocus through its snowy sheath, On, to the ripen'd gatherings of the Grape, And thorn-clad chestnut, all was sweet to her. She loved to plant the seed and watch the germ, And nurse the tender leaflet like a babe, And lead the tendril right. To her they seem'd Like living friends. She sedulously mark'd Their health and order, and was skill'd to prune The too luxuriant spray, or gadding vine. She taught the blushing Strawberry where to run, And stoop'd to kiss the timid Violet, Blossoming in the shade, and sometimes dream'd The Lily of the lakelet, calmly throned On its broad leaf, like Moses in his ark, Spake words to her. And so, as years fled by, Young Fancy, train'd by Nature, turn'd to God. Her clear, Teutonic mind, took hold on truth And found in every season, change of joy.
—Yet her prime pleasure seem'd at wintry eve Tho' storms might fall, when from its branching arms The antique candelabra shed fair light On polished wainscot and rich curtains dropp'd Close o'er the casements, she might draw her seat Near to her aged friend and take her hand And frame her voice to join some tuneful song, Treasuring whate'er of wise remark distill'd From those loved lips. Then, as her Mentor spoke Of God's great goodness in this mortal life, Teaching us both by sorrow and by joy, And how we ought to yield it back with trust And not with dread, whenever He should call, Having such precious promises, through Christ Of gain unspeakable, beyond the grave, The listening pupil felt her heart expand With reverent love. Friendship, 'tween youth and age Is gain to both,—nor least to that which finds The germs of knowledge and experience drop And twine themselves around the unfrosted locks, A fadeless coronet. In this sweet home The lengthen'd day seem'd short for their delights, And wintry evening brief. The historic page Made vocal, brought large wealth to memory. The lore of distant climes, that rose and fell Ere our New World, like Lazarus came forth, The napkin round her forehead, and sate down Beside her startled sisters. Last of all, The large time-honor'd Bible loos'd its clasps And shed its manna on their waiting souls; Then rose the sacred hymn in blended tones, By Bertha's parlor-organ made intense In melody of praise, and fervent Prayer Set its pure crown upon the parted day, And kiss'd the Angel, Sleep. Yet ere they rose From bended knee, there was a lingering pause, A silent orison for one whose name But seldom pass'd their lips, though in their hearts His image with its faults and sorrows dwelt, Invoking pity of a pardoning God.
—Thus fled the years away, the cultured glebe Stirr'd by the vernal plough-share, yielding charms To Summer, pouring wealth o'er Autumn's breast, Pausing from weary toil, when Winter comes, Bringing its Sabbath, as the man of eld With snow upon his temples, peaceful sits In his arm-chair, to ruminate and rest.
* * * * *
Once, at that season when the ices shrink Befere the vernal equinox, at morn There was no movement in the Lady's room, Who prized the early hours like molten gold, And ever rose before the kingly Sun.
—On the white pillow still reposed her head, Her cheek upon her hand. She had retired In health, affection's words, and trustful prayers Hallowing her lips. Now, on her brow there seem'd Unwonted smoothness, and the smile was there Set as a seal, with which the call she heard, "Come! sister-spirit!" She had gain'd the wish Oft utter'd to her God, to pass away Without the sickness and enfeebled powers That tax the heart of love. Death that unbars Unto the ready soul the Gate of Heaven, Claiming no pang or groan from failing flesh, Doth angel-service. But alas! the shock, The chill, the change, the anguish, where she dwelt, And must return no more. As one amaz'd The stricken daughter held her breath for awe, God seem'd so near. Methought she saw the Hand That smote her. Half herself was reft away, Body and soul. Yet no repining word Announc'd her agony. The tolling bell To hill and valley, told with solemn tongue That death had been among them, and at door And window listening, aged crone and child Counted its strokes, a stroke for every year, And predicated thence, as best they might, Whom they had lost. Neighbor of neighbor ask'd, Till the sad tidings were possess'd by all.
—A village funeral is a thing that warns All from their homes. In the throng'd city's bound, Hearses unnoticed pass, and none inquire Who goeth to his grave. But rural life Keepeth afresh the rills of sympathy. True sorrow was there at these obsequies, For all the poor were mourners. There the old Came in the garments she had given, bow'd down With their own sense of loss. O'er furrow'd cheeks In care-worn channels stole the trickling tear. The young were weepers, for their memories stored Many a gentle word, and precept kind, Like jewels dropp'd behind her. Mothers rais'd Their little ones above the coffin's side To look upon her face. Lingering they gazed Deeming the lovely Lady sweetly slept Among the flowers that on her pillow lay.
* * * * *
He's but a tyro in the school of grief Who hath not from the victor-tomb return'd Unto his rifled home. The utter weight Of whelming desolation doth not fall Till the last rites are paid. The cares of love Having no longer scope, withdraw their shield, And even the seat whereon the lost one sate, The pen he held, the cup from which he drank, Launch their keen darts against the festering soul.
—The lonely daughter, never since her birth Divided from the mother, having known No separate pleasure, or secreted thought, With deep humility resumed her course Of daily duty and philanthropy, Not murmuring, but remembering His great love Who lent so long that blessing beyond price, And from her broken censer offering still Incense of praise. She deem'd it fearful loss To lose a sorrow, be chastis'd in vain, Not yield our joys, but have them rent away, And make this life a battle-field with God.
The sombre shadow brooding o'er their home Was felt by all. The heart of Leonore Dwindled and shrank beneath it. Vigor fled, The untastcd meal, and couch bedew'd with tears Gave the solution to her wasted flesh, And drooping eye-lids. Folded in her arms, Bertha with tender accents said, "my child, We please not her who to the angels went, By hopeless grief. Doubt not her watchful eye Regards us, though unseen. How oft she taught To make God's will our own. You, who were glad To do her bidding then, distress her not By disobedience now. Waste not the health In reckless martyrdom, which Heaven hath link'd With many duties, and with hope to dwell If faithful found, with Her who went before And beckoning waits us." From dull trance of grief By kind reproof awakened, Leonore Strove to redeem her scholarship from blame And be a comforter, as best she might To her remaining patroness.
* * * * *
Within The limits of a neighboring town, a wretch Fell by the wayside, struck by sudden Death That vice propels. A Man of God, who sought Like his blest Master every form of woe Found him, and to a shelter and a couch Convey'd. Then bending down, with earnest words For time grew short, he urg'd him to repent. "Say, Lord have mercy on my soul. Look up Unto the Lamb of God, for He can save Even to the uttermost." Slight heed obtain'd This adjuration, wild the glazing eye Fix'd on the wall,—and ever and anon The stiffening fingers clutch'd at things unseen, While from those spent lungs came a shuddering sound, "That's he! That's he! The old man! His grey hairs Dabbled with blood!" Then in a loud, long cry, Wrung out by torturing pain, "I struck the blow! I tell ye that I struck the blow, and scaped. Conrad who bore the doom is innocent, Save fellowship with guilt." And so he fled; The voice of prayer around him, but the soul Beyond its reach. The kneeling Pastor rose Sadly, as when the Shepherd fails to snatch A wanderer from the Lion. But the truth Couch'd in that dismal cry of parting life He treasured up, and bore to those who held Power to investigate and to reprieve; And authorized by them with gladness sought The gloomy prison. Conrad there he found In sullen syncope of sickening thought, And cautiously in measured terms disclosed His liberation. Wondering doubt look'd forth From eyes that opening wide and wider still Strain'd from their sockets. Yet the hand he took That led him from the cell, and onward moved Like Peter following his angel guide Deeming he saw a vision. As the bolts Drew gratingly to let them pass, he seem'd To gather consciousness, and restless grew With an unspoken fear, lest at the last Some sterner turnkey, or gruff sentinel Might bar their egress. When behind them closed. The utmost barrier, and the sweet, fresh air So long witheld, fill'd his collapsing lungs, He shouted rapturously, "Am I alive? Or have I burst the gates of death, and found A second Eden?" The unwonted sound Of his own voice, freed from the drear constraint Of prison durance, swell'd his thrilling frame With strong and joyous impulse, for 'tis said Long stifled utterance is torturing pain To organs train'd to speech. With one high leap Like an enfranchis'd steed he seem'd to throw His spirit-chain behind him. Then he took The Pastor's offer'd arm, who led the way To his own house, and bade him bathe and change His prison garments, and repose that night Under his roof. With thoughtful care he spoke To his own household, kindly to receive The erring one,—"for we are sinners all, And not upon our merits may depend But on abounding grace." So when the hour Of cheerful supper summon'd to the board, He came among them as a comely guest, Refresh'd and welcome. Pleasant converse cheer'd The hospitable meal, and then withdrawn Into the quiet study 'mid the books, That saintly good man with the hoary hair Silvering his temples like a graceful crown, Strove by wise counsel to encourage him For life's important duties, But he deem'd A ban was on him, and a mark which all Would scan who met him. "He whose lot hath been With fiends in Pandemonium, must expect Hate and contempt from men." "Not so, my son! Wipe off the past, as a forgotten thing, Propitiate virtue, by forsaking vice. The good will aid you, and a brighter day Doubtless awaits you. Be not too much moved By man's applause or blame, but ever look Unto a higher Judge." Then there arose A voice of supplication, so intense To the Great Pardoner, that He would send His spirit down to change and purify The erring heart, that those persuasive tones, So humble, yet so strangely eloquent Breathed o'er the unhappy one like soothing spell Of magic influence, and he slept that night With peace and hope, long exiled from his couch.
* * * * *
A summer drive to one sequestered long, Hath charms untold. The common face of earth, The waving grass, the rustle of the leaves, Kiss'd by the zephyr, or by winged bird Disparted, as it finds its chirping nest, The murmur of the brooks, the low of herds, The ever-changing landscape, rock and stream, And azure concave fleck'd with silver clouds Awaken rapturous joy. This Conrad felt, While pleasure every kindling feature touch'd, And every accent tuned. But when they saw The fair ancestral roof through trees afar, Strong agony convuls'd him, and he cried, "Not there! Not there! First take me to Her grave!" And so to that secluded spot they turn'd, Where rest the silent dead. On the green mound, His Mother's bed, with sobs and groans he fell, And in his paroxysm of grief would fain Have torn the turf-bound earth away, to reach The mouldering coffin. Then, a flood of tears, Heaven's blessed gift burst forth, "Oh weep, my Son! These gushing tears shall help to wash away Remorseful pangs, and lurking seeds of sin. Here, in this sacred tomb, bury the past, And strong in heavenly trust, resolve to rise To a new life." Still kneeling on the sod With hands and eyes uprais'd, he said, "I will! So help me God!" The tear was on his cheek Undry'd, when to the home of peace they came. There Bertha greeted them with outstretch'd hands And beaming brow, while the good Pastor said, "Thy Son was dead, but is alive again." A sweet voice answer'd, "Lost he was, and found! Oh, welcome home." She would have folded him In her embrace. But at her feet he fell, Clasping her knees, and bowing down his head, Till she assured him that a mother's love Was in her heart. "And there is joy in Heaven Because of him, this day," the good Man said. —His tones were tremulous, as up he rose, "Ah, my veil'd Angel! Now I see thy face, And hear thy voice."
* * * * *
What were the glowing thoughts Of the meek shepherd, as alone he took His homeward way? The joy of others flow'd O'er his glad spirit like a refluent tide Whose sands were gold. Had he not chosen well His source of happiness? There are, who mix Pride and ambition with their services Before the altar. Did the tinkling bells Upon the garments of the Jewish priest Draw down his thoughts from God? The mitred brow, Doth it stoop low enough to find the souls That struggle in the pits of sin, and die? Methinks ambitious honors might disturb The man whose banner is the Cross of Christ, And earth's high places shut him out of Heaven.
—Yet this serene disciple, so content To do his Master's will, in humblest works Of charity, had he not chosen well His happiness? The hero hears the trump Of victor-fame, and his high pulses leap, But laurels dipp'd in blood shall vex his soul When the death-ague comes. More blest is he Who bearing on his brow the anointing oil Keeps in his heart the humility and zeal That sanctify his vows. So, full of joy That fears no frost of earth, because its root Is by the river of eternal life, The white-hair'd Pastor took his homeward way.
* * * * *
New life upon the farm. A master's eye And step are there. Forest, and cultured field, And garden feel his influence. Forth at morn He goes amid the laboring hinds who bathe Their scythe in fragrant dew, mid all their toils Teaching or learning, with such cheerful port As won their hearts. Even animals partook His kind regard. The horse, with arching neck, And ear erect, replied as best he might To his caressing tones. The patient ox, With branching horns, and the full-udder'd cow Grew sleek and flourish'd and in happiest guise Reveal'd his regency. The noble dog, O'erflowing with intelligence and zeal, Follow'd him as a friend; even the poor cat Oft scorn'd and distanc'd, till her fawning love Turns into abjectness, crept to his knee Without reproof, and thro' her half-shut eyes Regarding him, ere into sleep she sank With song monotonous, express'd her joy.
—He loved to hear the clarion of the cock, And see him in his gallantry protect The brooding mothers,—of their infant charge So fond and proud. The generous care bestow'd For weal and comfort of these servitors And their mute dialect of gratitude Pleas'd and refresh'd him, while those blessed toils That quicken earth's fertility bestowed The boon of healthful vigor. Bertha found The burden of her cares securely laid On his young arm, and gratefully beheld Each day a portion of allotted time Spent in the library, with earnest care, Seeking the knowledge that in youth he scorn'd.
—Amid their rural neighborhood were some Who frankly took him by the hand, as one, Worthy to rise, and others who preferr'd To cherish evil memories, or indulge Dark auguries. But on his course he held Unmov'd by either, for to her he seem'd Intent and emulous alone to please A higher Judge. When leaning on his arm She sought the House of God, her tranquil brow Seem'd in its time-tried beauty to express The Nunc Dimittis. Prisons are not oft Converting places. Vicious habits shorn Of their top branches, strike a rankling root Darkly beneath, while hatred of mankind And of the justice that decreed such doom Bar out the Love Divine. Yet Bertha felt God's spirit was not limited, and might Pluck brands from out the burning, and in faith Believ'd the son of many prayers had found Remission of his God. His life she scann'd, Of honest, cheerful industry, combined With intellectual progress, and perceived How his religious worship humbly wore The signet "I have sinn'd;" while toward men His speech was cautious, far beyond his years, As one by stern Experience school'd to know The human heart's deceptions. Yet at home And in that fellowship with Nature's works Which Agriculture gives, his soul threw off Its fetters and grew strong. Once as they walk'd Within a favorite grove, consulting where The woodman's ax, or pruning-knife had best Exert their wholesome ministry, he led To a fair resting-place, a turf-bound seat, Beneath a spreading Walnut, carpeted With depth of fragrant leaves, while a slight brook Half-hidden, half revealed, with minstrel touch, Soften'd the spirit. There, in tones subdued By strong emotion, he disclosed his love For Leonore. "Oh Conrad! she is pure And peaceful as the lily bud that sleeps On the heaven-mirror'd lake." "I know it well, Nor would I wake a ripple or a breath To mar its purity." "Yet wait, my Son!" "Wait? Mother, wait! It is not in man's heart To love, and wait?" "But make your prayer to God. Lay your petition at his feet, and see What is His will." "Before that God I swear To be her true protector and best friend Till death remove me hence, if she confide At fitting time, that holy trust to me. Oh angel Mother! sanction me to search If in her heart there be one answering chord To my great love. So may we lead below That blended life which with a firmer step And holier joy tends upward toward a realm Of perfect bliss." Thus authorized, he made Her mind's improvement his delight, and found Community in knowledge was a spell To draw young hearts together. O'er the lore And language of her native land they hung Gleaning its riches with a tireless hand, Deep and enamour'd students. When she sang Or play'd, he join'd her with his silvery flute, Making the thrill of music more intense Through the heart's harmony. Amid the flowers He met her, and her garden's pleasant toil Shared with a master's hand, for well he knew The nature and the welfare of the plants That most she prized. They loved the umbrageous trees, And in their strong, columnar trunks beheld The Almighty Architect, and for His sake Paid them respect. At the soft twilight hour, He sate beside her silently, and watch'd The pensive lustre of her lifted eye, Intent to welcome the first star that hung Its holy cresset forth. Unconsciously Her moods of lonely musing stole away, And his endear'd society became Part of her being. In her soul was nought Of vanity, or coquetry to bar That heaven-imparted sentiment which makes All hope, all thought, all self, subordinate Unto another's weal, while life shall last.
* * * * *
One morn, the orphan sought the private ear Of her kind benefactress. In low tones With the sweet modesty of innocence, She told that Conrad offered her his heart, And in the tender confidence of trust Entreated counsel from her changeless friend.
"Can you o'erlook the past, my Leonore?"
"Our God forgives the penitent. And we So prone to error, cannot we forgive? The change in Conrad, months and years have made More evident. Might I but sooth away The memory of his woes, and aid his feet More steadfastly to tread in virtue's path, And make him happier on his way to Heaven, My life and love I'd gladly consecrate."
* * * * *
Wrapp'd in her arms the foster-mother gave A tearful blessing, while on bended knee Together they implored the approving smile Of Him, who gives ability to make And keep the covenant of unending love. A rural bridal, Cupid's ancient themes Though more than twice-told, seem not wearisome Or obsolete. The many tomes they prompt, Though quaint or prolix, still a place maintain In library or boudoir, and seduce The school-girl from her sleep, and lessons too. But I no tint of romance have to throw On this plain tale, or o'er the youthful pair Who gladly took the irrevocable vow.
* * * * *
Their deep and thoughtful happiness required No herald pomp. Buds of the snowy rose, On brow and bosom, were the only gems Of the young fair-hair'd bride, whose ringlets fell Down to her shoulders:—nature's simple veil Of wondrous grace. A few true hearted friends Witness'd the marriage-rite, with cheering smiles And fervent blessings. And the coming years With all their tests of sunshine or of shade, Belied no nuptial promise, striving each With ardent emulation to surpass Its predecessor in the heavenward path Of duty and improvement. Bertha's prayers Were ever round them as a thread of gold Wove daily in the warp and woof of life. In their felicity she found her own Reduplicated. In good deeds to all Who sought her aid, or felt the sting of woe, With unimpaired benevolence she wrought, And tireless sympathy. Ordain'd she seem'd To show the beauty of the life that hath God for its end. Clearer its brightness gleam'd As nearer to its heavenly goal it drew. The smile staid with her till she went above, Death harm'd it not. Her passport to that clime Where Love begun on earth, doth end in joy, Forevermore.
REV. DR. T. M. COOLEY,
For more than sixty years Pastor of one Church in East Granville, Mass., died there in 1859, aged 83.
Not in the pulpit where he joy'd to bear The message of salvation, not beside His study-lamp, nor in the fireside chair, Encircled by those dearest ones who found In him their life of life, nor in the homes Of his beloved flock, sharing with them All sympathies of sorrow or of joy, Is seen the faithful Shepherd. He hath gone To yon blest Country where he long'd to be, To stand before the Great White Throne, and join That hymn of praise for which his course below Gave preparation. At one post he stood From youth till fourscore years, averse to change Though oft-times tempted. For he did not deem Restless ambition or desire of gold Fit counterpoise for that most sacred love Born in the inner chambers of the soul, And intertwining with a golden mesh Pastor and people. Like some lofty tree Whose untransplanted roots in freshness meet The living waters, and whose leaf is green 'Mid winter's gather'd frost, serene he stood, More fondly honor'd for each added year, While 'neath his shadow drew with reverent love Successive generations.
Hoary Time Linger'd with blessings for his latest day, And now 'neath turf embalm'd with tears he sleeps, Waiting the resurrection of the just.
MADAM OLIVIA PHELPS,
Widow of the late ANSON G. PHELPS, Esq., died at New York, April 24th, 1859, aged 74.
When the good mother dieth, and the home So long made happy by her boundless love Is desolate and empty, there are tears Of filial anguish, not to be represt; And when the many friends who at her side Sought social sympathy and counsel sweet, Or the sad poor, who, for their Saviour's sake, Found bountiful relief, and kind regard, Stand at that altered threshold, and perceive Faces of strangers from her casement look, There is a pang not to be told in words.
Yet, when the christian, having well discharged A life-long duty, riseth where no sin Or possibility of pain or death May follow, should there not be praise to Him Who gives such victory? Thus it is even now— Tears with the triumph-strain; For we are made Of flesh as well as spirit, and are taught By Joy and Sorrow, walking side by side, And with strong contrast deepening truths divine.
But unto thee, dear friend, whose breath was prayer, And o'er whose mortal sickness hovering Faith Shed heaven's content, there was no further need Of tutelage like that by which we learn, Too slow, perchance, with vacillating minds, What the disciples of our Lord should be; For when the subjugation to God's will Is perfect, and affliction all disarmed, Is not life's lesson done?
MARTHA AGNES BONNER,
Child of RobERT BONNER, Esq., died at New York, April 28th, 1859, aged 13 months.
There was a cradling lent us here, To cheer our lot, It was a cherub in disguise, But yet our dim and earth-bow'd eyes Perceiv'd it not.
Its voice was like the symphony That lute-strings lend, Yet tho' our hearts the music hail'd As a sweet breath of heaven, they fail'd To comprehend.
It linger'd till each season fill'd Their perfect round, The vernal bud, the summer-rose, Autumnal gold, and wintry snows Whitening the ground.
But when again reviving Spring Thro' flowers would roam, And the white cherry blossoms stirr'd Neath the soft wing of chirping bird, A call from angel-harps was heard, "Cherub,—come home."
Widow of the late SPENCER WHITING, Esq., died at Hartford, April, 1859, aged 88.
Life's work well done, how beautiful to rest. Aye, lift your little ones to see her face, So calmly smiling in its coffin-bed! There is no wrinkle there,—no rigid gloom To make them turn their tender glance away; And when they say their simple prayer at night With folded hands,—instruct their innocent lips Meekly to say: "Our Father! may we live, And die like her." Her more than fourscore years Chill'd not in her the genial flow of thought Or energy of deed. The earnest power To advance home-happiness, the kindly warmth Of social intercourse, the sweet response Of filial love, rejoicing in her joy, And reverencing her saintly piety, Were with her, unimpair'd, until the end. A course like this, predicted close serene, And so it was. There came no cloud to dim Her spirit's light, when at a beckoning brief She heavenward went. Miss'd is she here, and mourn'd; From hall, from hearthstone, and from household board, A beauty and a dignity have fled,— And the heart's tears as freely flowed for her, As for the loved ones, in their prime of days. Age justly held in honor, hath a charm Peculiarly its own, a symmetry Of nearness to the skies. And these were hers, Whose life was duty, and whose death was peace.
DENISON OLMSTED, LL.D.,
Professor of Astronomy in Yale College, Conn., died at New Haven, May, 1859.
Spring pour'd fresh beauty o'er the cultured grounds, And woke to joyance every leaf and flower, Where erst the Man of Science lov'd to find Refreshment from his toils.
'Twas sweet to see How Nature met him there, and took away All weariness of knowledge. Yet he held Higher communion than with fragrant shrub, Or taper tree, that o'er the forest tower'd. His talk was with the stars, as one by one, Night, in her queenly regency, put forth Their sprinkled gold upon her sable robe. He knew their places, and pronounc'd their names, And by their heavenly conversation sought Acquaintance with their Maker. Sang they not Unto his uncloth'd spirit, as it pass'd From sphere to sphere, above their highest ranks, With its attendant angel? We are dark. We ask, and yet no answer. But we trace In clearest lines the shining course he took Among life's duties, for so many years, And hear those parting words, that "all is peace!" The harvest-song of true philosophy.
His epitaph is that which cannot yield A mouldering motto to the tooth of time. —Man works in marble, and it mocks his trust, But the immortal mind doth ever keep The earnest impress of the moulding hand, And bear it onward to a race unborn. —That is his monument.
 The last words of Professor Olmsted.
Only son of SAMUEL S. FOSS, Esq., died May 23d, 1859, aged three years and three months.
"Read more, Papa," the loving infant cried,— And meekly bow'd the listening ear, and fix'd The ardent eye, devouring every word Of his dear picture book. And then he spread His arms, and folded thrice the father's neck. —The mother came from church, and lull'd her boy To quiet sleep, and laid him in his crib; And as they watch'd the smile of innocence That sometimes lightly floated o'er his brow That Sabbath eve, they to each other said, "How beautiful." There was another scene,— The child lay compass'd round with Spring's white flowers, Yet heav'd no breath to stir their lightest leaf. And many a one who on that coffin look'd And went their way, in tender whisper said "How beautiful!" Oh parents, ye who sit Mourning for HERBERT, in your empty room, What if the darling of your fondest care Scarce woke from his brief dream and went to Heaven? —Our dream is longer, but 'tis mixed with tears. For we are dreamers all, and only those Fully awake, who dwell where naught deceives.
So, when time's vision o'er, you reach the land Which hath no need of sun, or waning moon To give it light, how sweet to hear your child Bid you "good morning" with his cherub tongue.
His last words to his father, who was reading to him in a favorite book, were, "Read, more, papa, please read more." Soon after, and almost without warning, he died.
MRS. CHARLES N. CADWALLADER,
Died at Philadelphia, July 2nd, 1859, five weeks after her marriage.
The year rolls round, and brings again The bright, auspicious day, The marriage scene, the festive cheer, The group serenely gay,
The hopes that nurs'd by sun and shower O'er youth's fair trellis wound, And in that consecrated rite Their full fruition found.
But One unseen amid the throng Drew near with purpose fell, And lo! the orange-flowers were changed To mournful asphodel.
Five sabbaths walk'd the beautiful Her chosen lord beside, But ere the sixth illumed the sky She was that dread One's bride.
Yet call her not the bride of Death Though in his bed she sleeps, And broidering Myrtle richly green O'er her cold pillow creeps:
She hath a bower where angels dwell, A mansion with the blest, For Jesus whom she trusted here, Receiv'd her to His rest.
REV. DR. JAMES W. ALEXANDER,
Pastor of the Fifth Avenue Church, New York, died at the Virginia Springs, July, 1859.
The great and good. How startling is the knell That tells he is but dust. The echo comes From where Virginia's health-reviving springs Make many whole. But waiting there for him The dark-winged angel who doth come but once, Troubled the waters, and his latest breath Fled, where his first was drawn. That noble brow So mark'd with intellect, so clear with truth, Grave in its goodness, in its love serene, Will it be seen no more? That earnest voice Filling the Temple-arch so gloriously, With themes of import to the undying soul Enforced by power of fervid eloquence Is it forever mute? That mind so rich With varied learning and with classic lore, Studious, progressive, affluent, profound, That feeling heart, instinct with sympathy For the world's family of grief and pain, The dark in feature, or the lost in sin, Say, are their treasures lost? No, on the page Of many a tome, traced by his tireless pen They live and brighten for a race to come, Prompting the wise, cheering the sorrowful, And for the little children whom he loved Meting out fitting words, like dewy pearls Glittering along their path. His chief delight Was in his Master's work. How well performed Speak ye whose feet upon Salvation's rock Were planted through his prayers. His zeal involved No element of self, but hand in hand Walk'd with humility. He needeth not Praise from our mortal lips. The monuments Of bronze or marble, what are they to him Who hath his firm abode above the stars?
—Yet may the people mourn, may freshly keep The transcript of his life, nor wrongly ask "When shall we look upon his like again?"
MRS. JOSEPH MORGAN,
Died at Hartford, August, 1859.
I saw her overlaid with many flowers, Such as the gorgeous summer drapes in snow, Stainless and fragrant as her memory.
Blent with their perfume came the pictur'd thought Of her calm presence,—of her firm resolve To bear each duty onward to its end,— And of her power to make a home so fair, That those who shared its sanctities deplore The pattern lost forever.
Many a friend, And none who won that title laid it down, Muse on the tablet that she left behind, Muse,—and give thanks to God for what she was, And what she is;—for every pain hath fled That with a barb'd and subtle weapon stood Between the pilgrim and the promised Land. But the deep anguish of the filial tear We speak not of,—save with the sympathy That wakes our own. And so, we bid farewell.
* * * * *
Life's sun at setting, may shed brighter rays Than when it rose, and threescore years and ten May wear a beauty that youth fails to reach: The beauty of a fitness for the skies,— Such nearness to the angels, that their song "Peace and good will," like key-tone rules the soul, And the pure reflex of their smile illumes The meekly lifted brow. She taught us this,— And then went home.
MISS ALICE BECKWITH,
Died at Hartford, September 23d, 1859.
The beautiful hath fled To join the spirit-train; Earth interposed with strong array, Love stretch'd his arms to bar her way, All,—all in vain.
There was a bridal hope Before her crown'd with flowers; The orange blossoms took the hue With which the cypress dank with dew Darkeneth our bowers.
Affections strong and warm Sprang round her gentle way, Young Childhood, with a moisten'd eye, And Friendship's tenderest sympathy Watch'd her decay.
Disease around her couch Long held a tyrant sway, Till vanished from her cheek, the rose, And the fair flesh like vernal snows Wasted away.
Yet the dark Angel's touch Dissolv'd that dire control, And where the love-knot cannot break Nor pain nor grief intrusion make, Bore the sweet soul.
MARY SHIPMAN DEMING,
Died at Hartford, Nov. 11th, 1839, aged 4 years and 6 months.
The garner'd Jewel of our heart, The Darling of our tent! Cold rains were falling thick and fast, When forth from us she went.
The sweetest blossom on our tree, When droop'd her fairy head, We might not lay her 'mid the flowers, For all the flowers were dead.
The youngest birdling of our nest, Her song from us hath fled; Yet mingles with a purer strain That floats above our head.
We gaze,—her wings we may not see: We listen,—all in vain: But when this wintry life is o'er, We'll hear her voice again.
REV. DR. F. W. HATCH,
Died at Sacramento, California, January 16th, 1860, aged 70.
A pleasant theme it is to think of him That parted friend, whose noble heart and mind Were ever active to the highest ends. Even sceptics paid him homage 'mid their doubts, Perceiving that his life made evident A goodness not of earth. His radiant brow And the warm utterance of his lustrous eye Told how the good of others triumph'd o'er All narrowness of self. He deem'd it not A worthy aim of Christ's true ministry To chaffer for the gold that perisheth Or waste its God-given powers on lifeless forms; But love of souls, and love of Him who died That they might live, gave impulse to his zeal.
—And so, while half a century chronicled The change of empires, and the fall of kings And death of generations like the leaves That strew the forest 'neath autumnal skies, He toil'd unswerving in that One Great Cause To which the vigor of his youth was given.
—And as his life, its varied tasks well done Shrouded its head and trustful went to Him Who giveth rest and peace and rich reward Unto his faithful servants, it behooves Us to rejoice who have so long beheld His pure example. From it may we learn Oh sainted Friend, wherever duty calls With fervent hearts to seek for others' good, And wear thy spirit-smile, and win even here Some foretaste of the bliss that ne'er shall end.
Wife of Right Rev. Bishop PAYNE, died at Monrovia, Liberia.
Oh true and faithful! Twice ten earnest years Of mission-toil in Afric's sultry clime Attest thy patience in thy Master's cause, Thy self-denial and humility.
Now, neath the shadow of the princely palm, And where Liberia's church-crown'd summits rise, Are sighs from sable bosoms, swelling deep With gratitude for all thy hallow'd care.
—The Prelate, unto whom thy heart of hearts Was link'd so tenderly,—who found in thee Solace for exile from his native shore, Laments thy loss, as the lone hours go by. He mourns thee deepest, for he knew thee best, Thy purity, thy sublimated search For added holiness. With angel hand Press thou thy pattern on us,—we who dwell Amid the fullness of the bread from Heaven, Forgetful of our heathen brother's need. Now thou dost sweetly sleep, where pain and woe Follow thee not. Their trial-time is o'er, Their discipline perfected. For thy will Was subjugated to the Will Divine, And through a dear Redeemer's strength, thy soul Hath won the victory.
MRS. MARY MILDENSTEIN ROBERTSON,
Wife of Rev. WILLIAM H. C. ROBERTSON, died at Magnolia, East Florida, January 13th, aged 34.
Our buds have faded,—winter's frigid breath Sigh'd o'er their bosoms, and they fell away, So in these household bowers the ice of death Bids rose and lily ere their prime decay, And see a Passion-Flower from tropic skies Beneath our drifted snows, not without requiem lies.
A brilliant daughter of the Cuban vales Of generous mind, impulsive, strong and high Twined the home-tendril where our northern gales Sweep grove and forest with their minstrelsy, Labor'd for classic lore with studious part, And planted friendship's germ in many an answering heart.
Her filial piety intensely warm Whose gushing tenderness no limit knew, Clasp'd day and night, a Mother's wasted form And o'er her failing powers protection threw, Cheering the darken'd soul with comfort sweet And girding it anew, life's latest pang to meet.
Then came the sacred vow for good or ill, The life-long study of another's joy, The raptur'd and unutterable thrill With which a mother greets her first-born boy, The climax of those hopes and duties dear Which Heaven's unerring hand accords to Woman's sphere.
And then the scene was ended, and she found What here her ardent nature vainly sought, Unwithering flowers and music's tuneful sound Without a shadow or discordant thought, And entered through a dear Redeemer's love The never-changing clime of perfect rest above.
Widow of the late EZEKIEL WILLIAMS, Esq., and Daughter of Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth, died at Hartford, February 28th, 1860, aged 87.
She was a link that bound us to the past,— To the great days of Washington, when men Loving their country better than themselves Show'd to the world what patriot virtue meant. She on the knee of her majestic sire Drew to her listening heart when life was new Those principles that made his honored name Synonymous with wisdom, and the might Of holy truth.
So when in woman's sphere She took her post of duty, still in all The delicate proprieties of life, The inner sanctities of household weal, In social elegance, and in the deeds That christian pity to the poor extends, She was our model; and we saw in her The perfect lady of the olden time. Thus on the pleasant hill-top where she dwelt In her green-terraced home, o'ercanopied By graceful elm, mid evergreens and flowers, The years stole over her, and slowly wrote Their more than fourscore on her faded scroll, While the kind care of unexhausted love Guarded her long decline.
And now she sleeps Where thro' the riven snows, the quickening turf Gives emblem of the never-ending Spring, That wraps the accepted soul in robes of joy.
SAMUEL G. OGDEN, ESQ.,
Died at Astoria, New York, April 5th, 1860.
Upon his suffering couch he lay, Whose noble form and mind The stress of fourscore years had tried, Yet left a charm behind. The charm of heaven-born happiness Whose beauty may not fade, The charm of unimpair'd regard For all whom God had made.
Upon his suffering couch he lay, While sadly gathering there, Were loved and loving ones, who made That honored life their care; And 'mid the group, a daughter's voice Of wondrous sweetness read Brief portions from the Book Divine, As his dictation led.
"Bow down thine ear, Most Merciful, Oh, hearken while I speak, Now in my time of utmost need, To Thee alone I seek. Shew me some token, Lord, for good, Before I pass away, For Thou hast ever been my strength, My comforter and stay."
So when that precious breath went forth, Her gentle hand was laid To close those pale and trembling lids In slumber's dreamless shade, And then, the pure and sacred flowers She for his burial twined, And bade her struggling grief be still Till the last rite declined.
Through every trial change of life Had reign'd within her breast A holy zeal of filial love, That could not be represt; Its memories, like a music strain, Still in that casket swell, And wake perchance, some fond response Where watching angels dwell.
 The 86th Psalm, one of his favorites, as death drew nigh was often read to him by his daughter, who never left him, day or night, during his sickness, and "out of whose arms," says one who was present, "when he drew his last breath, the angels took him."
MR. GEORGE BEACH,
Died at Hartford, May 4th, 1860.
Aye, robe yourselves in black, light messengers Whose letter'd faces to the people tell The pulse and pressure of the passing hour. 'Tis fitting ye should sympathize with them, And tint your tablets with a sable hue Who bring them tidings of a loss so great.
What have they lost? An upright man, who scorn'd All subterfuge, who faithful to his trust Guarded the interests they so highly prized, With power and zeal unchang'd, from youth to age.
Yet there's a sadder sound of bursting tears From woe-worn helpless ones, from widow'd forms O'er whom he threw a shelter, for his name Long mingled with their prayers, both night and morn. The Missionary toward the setting sun Will miss his liberal hand that threw so wide Its secret alms. The sons of want will miss His noble presence moving thro' our streets Intent on generous deeds; and in the Church He loved so well, a silence and a chasm Are where the fervent and responsive voice, And kingly beauty of the hoary head So long maintained their place. Sudden he sank, Though not unwarn'd. A chosen band had kept Watch through the night, and earnest love took note Of every breath. But when approaching dawn Kindled the east, and from the trees that bowered His beautiful abode, awakening birds Sent up their earliest carol, he went forth To meet the glories of the unsetting sun, And hear with unseal'd ear the song of heaven.
—So they who truest loved and deepest mourn'd, Had highest call to praise, for best they knew The soul that had gone home unto its God.
MISS MARGARET C. BROWN,
Died at Hartford, May 12th, 1860.
Gone, pure in heart! unto thy fitting home, Where nought of ill can follow. O'er thy life There swept no stain, and o'er its placid close No shadow. As for us, who saw thee move From childhood onward, loving and serene, To every duty faithful, we who feel The bias toward self too often make Our course unequal, or beset with thorns, Give thanks to Him, the Giver of all good, For what thou wert, but most for what thou art.
* * * * *
Thy meek and reverent nature cheer'd the heart Of hoary Age even in thine early bloom, And with sweet tenderness of filial care, And perfect sympathy, thy shielding arm Pillow'd a Mother's head, till life went out. We yield thee back, with sound of holy hymns, Flowers in thy hand, and bosom,—parting gifts Of Spring, that makes our earth so beautiful, Faintly prefiguring thine eternal gain Of flowers that never fade and skies that need Not sun nor moon to light them. So farewell, Our grief is selfish, yet it hath its way, Nor can we stand beside thine open grave Without a tear. Yet still doth chasten'd faith Ask help of God, to render back with praise A soul to which He gave the victory.
MISS FRANCES WYMAN TRACY,
Adopted daughter of Mrs. WILLIAM TRACY, died at New York, in 1860, aged 17.
O young and beautiful, thy step Was light with fairy grace, And well the music of thy voice Accorded with thy face,
And blent with those attractive charms How fair it was to see Thy tenderness for her who fill'd A Mother's place to thee.
Yet all the pure and holy ties Thus round thy being wove, They are not lost, they are not dead, They have a life above.
What though the sleepless care of love Might not avail to save, And sorrow with her dropping tear Keeps vigil o'er thy grave,
Faith hath a rainbow for the cloud, A solace for the pain, A promise from the Book Divine To rise, nor part again.
DEACON NORMAND SMITH,
Died at Hartford, May 22d, 1860, aged 87.
One saintly man the less, to teach us how Wisely to live,—one blest example more To teach us how to die. Fourscore and seven, Swept not the beauty of his brow away, Nor quell'd his voice of music, nor impair'd The social feeling that through all his life Ran like a thread of gold. In filial arms Close wrapp'd with watchful tenderness, he trod Jordan's cold brink. The world was beautiful, But Christ's dear love so wrought within his heart That to depart seem'd better. Many a year He lent his influence to the church he loved, For unity and peace, and countless gems Dropp'd from his lips when the last sickness came, To fortify young pilgrims in the course That leads to glory and eternal life.
As the frail flesh grew weak, the soul look'd forth With added brightness thro' the clear, dark eye, As though it saw unutterable things, Or heard the welcome of beloved ones Who went to rest before him. So, with smiles, And prayers and holy hymns, and loving words He laid the burden of the body down, And slept in Jesus.
MRS. HELEN TYLER BEACH,
Wife of Mr. C. N. BEACH, died at Philadelphia, July 30th, 1860.
How strange that One who yesterday Shed radiance round her sphere, Thus, in the prime of life and health, Should slumber on the bier.
How sad that One who cheer'd her home With love's unvarying grace, Should leave at hearth-stone and at board Nought save a vacant place.
The beaming hope that bright and fair Around her cradle shone, Made cloudless progress year by year, With lustre all its own,
While still unselfish and serene Her daily course she drew, To every generous impulse warm To every duty true:
Yet all these pure and hallowed charms To favor'd mortals given, That make their loss to earth so great, Enhance the gain of Heaven.
MRS. ELIZABETH HARRIS,
Died at Hartford, Sunday evening, September 9th, 1860, aged 80.
Oh sorrowing Daughter, left alone In home's deserted sphere, Where every object group'd around, In pleasant room, or garden's bound Is twined by links of sight or sound With the lost Mother dear;
Yet take sweet thoughts thy grief to soothe Of what she was below, Her years to faithful duty given, Her comfort in the Book of Heaven, Her ready trust when life was riven, To Christ, her Lord, to go.
And take sweet memories of the care That smoothed her couch of pain, The grateful love that o'er her way Kept tender vigil, night and day, And let its pure, reflected ray Thy drooping heart sustain.
So shall thy faith the pang assuage That heaves thy mourning breast; For nearer brings each setting sun Their blessed meeting who have won The plaudit of the Judge, "Well done, Come, enter to my rest."
MISS ANNA M. SEYMOUR,
Died at Hartford, August 24th, 1860.
The beauteous brow, the form of grace, With all their youthful charms, The hand that woke the pencil's power, And bore to penury's lowly bower, The never-wearied alms,
The sweet, sweet voice that duly cheer'd A grateful Sabbath train, The uprais'd eye that taught them more Of Heaven, than all their student lore, Must ne'er return again.
She took her flight as from the cage Enfranchised warblers glide, Though friends were dear, and life was fair, She saw her Saviour standing there, Beyond rough Jordan's tide.
Praise, praise to Him, whose faithful hand Prepared her glorious place, For us is loss,—for her release, The robe of rest, the home of peace,— For us, the pilgrim race.
Praise,—praise for her,—though love and grief Still mournful vigil kept,— The tear-wet incense He will take Who at the grave, for friendship's sake, In holy sadness wept.
CALEB HAZEN TALCOTT,
Son of C. TALCOTT, Esq., died at Hartford, October 26th, 1860, aged 2 years and 6 months.
There came a merry voice Forth from those lips of rose, As tireless through its fringing flowers The tuneful brooklet flows,
And with the nurslings feet Engaged in busy play It made the parents' pleasant home A joyance all the day.
There breath'd a languid tone Forth from those pallid lips, As when some planet of the night Sinks in its dread eclipse.
"Sing to me, sing," it cried, While the red fever reign'd, "Oh sing of Jesus," it implored While struggling life remained.
Then rose a mournful sound, The solemn funeral knell, And silent anguish settled where The nursery's idol fell.
But he who so desired His Saviour's name to hear Doth in His glorious presence smile, Above this cloud-wrapp'd sphere.
 His request, during his sickness was, "Sing to me of Jesus."
MISS JANE PENELOPE WHITING,
Died at Portland, Connecticut, January 1st, 1861.
I think of her unfolding prime, Her childhood bright and fair, The speaking eye, the earnest smile, The dark and lustrous hair,
The fondness by a Mother's side To cling with docile mind, Fast in the only sister's hand Her own forever twined,
The candor of her trustful youth, The heart that freshly wove Sweet garlands even from thorn-clad bowers, Because it dwelt in love,
The stainless life, whose truth and grace Made each beholder see The gladness of a spirit tuned To heavenly harmony.
But when this fair New-Year looked forth Over the old one's grave, While bridal pleasures neath her roof Their bright infusion gave,
Upon the lightning's wing there came A message none might stay, An angel,—standing at her side. To bear the soul away.
For us, was sorrow's startling shock, The tear, the loss, the pain, For her, the uncomputed bliss Of never-ending gain.
MISS ANNA FREEMAN,
Died at Mansfield, Connecticut, February, 1861.
The world seems drearier when the good depart, The just, the truthful, such as never made Self their chief aim, nor strove with glozing words To counterfeit a love they never felt; But steadfast and serene—to Friendship gave Its sacred scope, and ne'er from Duty shrank, Though sternest toil and care environ it. These, loving others better than themselves, Fulfill the gospel rule, and taste a bliss While here below, unknown to selfish souls, And when they die, must find the clime where dwells A God of truth, as tend the kindred streams To their absorbing ocean. Such was she Who left us yesterday. Her speaking smile Her earnest footstep hastening to give aid Or sympathy, her ready hand well-skill'd In all that appertains to Woman's sphere, Her large heart pouring life o'er every deed, And her warm interchange of social joy Stay with us as a picture. There, we oft Musing, shall contemplate each lineament With mournful tenderness, through gushing tears, That tell our loss, and her unmeasured gain.
Widow of the late CALEB POND, Esq., died at Hartford, February 19th 1861, aged 73.
Would any think who marked the smile On yon untroubled face, That threescore years and ten had fled Without a wrinkling trace?
Yet age doth sometimes skill to guard The beauty of its prime, And hold a quenchless lamp above The water-floods of time.
And she, for whom we mourn, maintained Through every change and care, Those hallowed virtues of the soul That keep the features fair.
They raised a little child to look Into the coffin deep, Who dream'd the lovely lady lay But in a transient sleep,