Part 5 out of 6
children; to which she returned that she feared I should not suit
her, as she had her own views concerning the training of children.
She added, with condescension, that at all events she should expect
in any case of difference (of judgment)between us, that I, being the
younger and least experienced of the two, should always yield to her.
She then went on to give me her views on the subject of nursery
"In the first place," she said, "I never pet or fondle children. It
makes them babyish and sickly."
"Oh, I see you will not suit me," I cried. "You need go no farther. I
consider love the best educator for a little child."
"Indeed, I think I shall suit you perfectly," she replied, nothing
daunted. "I have been in the business twenty years, and have always
suited wherever I lived. You will be surprised to see how much sewing
I shall accomplish, and how quiet I shall keep the children."
"But I don't want them kept quiet," I persisted. "I want them to be
as merry and cheerful as crickets, and I care a great deal more to
have them amused than to have the sewing done, though that is
important, I confess."
"Very well, ma'am, I will sit and rock them by the hour if you wish
"But I don't wish it," I cried, exasperated at the coolness which
gave her such an advantage over me. "Let us say no more about it; you
do not suit me, and the sooner we part the better. I must be mistress
of my own house, and I want no advice in relation to my children."
"I shall hardly leave you before you will regret parting with me,"
she returned, in a placid, pitying, way.
I was afraid I had not been quite dignified in my interview with this
person, with whom I ought to have had no discussion, and my
equanimity was not restored by her shaking hands with me a
patronizing way at parting, and expressing the hope that I should one
day "be a green tree in the Paradise of God." Nor was it any too
great a consolation to find that she had suggested to my cook that my
intellect was not quite sound.
Temptation the second confessed that she knew nothing, but was
willing to be taught. Yes, she might be willing, but she could not be
taught. She could not see why Herbert should not have everything he
chose to cry for, nor why she should not take the children to the
kitchens where her friends abode, instead of keeping them out in the
air. She could not understand why she must not tell Una every half
hour that she was as fair as a lily, and that the little angels in
heaven cried for such hair as hers. And there was no rhyme or reason,
to her mind, why she could not have her friends visit in her nursery,
since, as she declared, the cook would hear all her secrets if she
received them in the kitchen. Her assurance that she thought me a
very nice lady, and that there never were two such children as mine,
failed to move my hard heart, and I was thankful when I got her out
of the house.
Temptation the third appeared, for a time, the perfection of a nurse.
She kept herself and the nursery and the children in most refreshing
order; she amused Una when she was more than usually unwell with a
perfect fund of innocent stories; the work flew from her nimble
fingers as if by magic. I boasted everywhere of my good luck, and
sang her praises in Ernest's ears till he believed in her with all
his heart. But one night we were out late; we had been spending the
evening at Aunty's, and came in with Ernest's night-key as quietly as
possible, in order not to arouse the children. I stole softly to the
nursery to see if all was going on well there. Bridget, it seems, had
taken the opportunity to wash her clothes in the nursery, and they
hung all about the room drying, a hot fire raging for the purpose. In
the midst of them, with a candle and prayer-book on a chair, Bridget
knelt fast asleep, the candle within an inch of her sleeve. Her
assurance when I aroused her that she was not asleep, but merely rapt
in devotion, did not soften my hard heart, nor was I moved by the
representation that she was a saint, and always wore black on that
account. I packed her off in anything but a saintly frame, and felt
that a fourth Temptation would scatter what little grace I possessed
to the four winds. These changes upstairs made discord; too, below.
My cook was displeased at so much coming and going, and made the
kitchen a sort of a purgatory which I dreaded to enter. At last, when
her temper fairly ran away with her, and she became impertinent to
the last degree, I said, coolly:
"If any lady should speak to me in this way I should resent it. But
no lady would so far forget herself. And I overlook your rudeness on
the ground that you do not know better than to use of such
This capped the climax! She declared that she had never been told
before that she was no and did not know how to behave, and gave
warning at once.
I wish I could help running to tell Ernest all -these annoyances. It
does no good, and only worries him. But how much of a woman's life is
made up of such trials and provocations! and how easy is when on
one's knees to bear them aright, and how far easier to bear them
wrong when one finds the coal going too fast, the butter out just as
sitting down to breakfast, the potatoes watery and the bread sour or
heavy! And then when one is well nigh desperate, does one's husband
fail to say, in bland tones:
"My dear, if you would just speak to Bridget, I am sure she would
Oh, that there were indeed magic in a spoken word!
And do what I can, the money Ernest gives me will not hold out. He
knows absolutely nothing about that hydra-headed monster, a
household. I, have had to go back to sewing as furiously as ever. And
with the sewing the old pain in the side has come back, and the
sharp, quick speech that I hate, and, that Ernest hates, and that
everybody hates. I groan, being burdened, and am almost weary of my
life. And my prayers are all mixed up with worldly thoughts and
cares. I am appalled at all the things that have got to be done
before winter, and am tempted to cut short my devotions in order to
have more time to accomplish what I must accomplish.
How have I got into this slough? When was it that I came down from
the Mount where I had seen the Lord, and came back to make these
miserable, petty things as much my business as ever? Oh, these
fluctuations in my religious life amaze me! I cannot, doubt that I am
really God's child; it would be dishonor to Him to doubt it. I cannot
doubt that I have held as real communion with Him as with any earthly
friend-and oh, it has been far sweeter!
OCT. 20.-I made a parting visit to Mrs. Campbell to day, and, as
usual, have come away strengthened and refreshed. She said all sorts
of kind things to cheer and encourage me, and stimulated me to take
up the burden of life cheerfully and patiently, just as it comes. She
assures me that these fluctuations of feeling will by degrees give
place to a calmer life, especially if I avoid, so far as I can do it,
all unnecessary work, distraction and hurry. And a few quiet, resting
words from her have given me courage to press on toward perfection,
no matter how much imperfection I see in myself and others. And now I
am waiting for my Father's next gift, and the new cares and labors it
will bring with it. I am glad it is not left for me to decide my own
lot. I am afraid I should never see precisely the right moment for
welcoming a new bird into my nest, dearly as I love the rustle of
their wings and the sound of their voices when they do come. And
surely He knows the right moments who knows all my struggles with a
certain sort of poverty, poor health and domestic care. If I could
feel that all the time, as I do at this moment, how happy I should
JANUARY 16, 1847.-This is the tenth anniversary of our wedding day,
and it has been a delightful one. If I were called upon to declare
what has been the chief element of my happiness, I should say it was
not Ernest's love to me or mine to him, or that I am once more the
mother of three children, or that my own dear mother still lives,
though I revel in each and all of these. But underneath them all,
deeper, stronger than all, lies a peace with God that I can compare
to no other joy, which I guard as I would guard hid treasure, and
which must abide if all things else pass away.
My baby is two months old, and her name is Ethel. The three children
together form a beautiful picture which I am never tired of admiring.
But they will not give me much time for writing. This little new
comer takes all there, is of me. Mother brings me pleasant reports of
Miss Clifford, who under her gentle, wise influence is becoming an
earnest Christian, already rejoicing in the Providence that arrested
her where it did, and forced her to reflection. Mother says we ought
to study God's providence more than we do since He has a meaning and
a purpose in everything He does. Sometimes I can do this and find it
a source of great happiness. Then worldly cares seem mere worldly
cares, and I forget that His wise, kind hand is in every one of them.
FEBRUARY.-Helen has been spending the whole day with me, as she often
does, helping me with her skillful needle, and with the children, in
a very sweet way. I am almost ashamed to indulge in writing down how
dearly she seems to love me, and how disposed she is to sit at my
feet as a learner at the very moment I am longing to possess her
sweet, gentle temper. But one thing puzzles me, in her, and that is
the difficulty she finds in getting hold of these simple truths her
father used to grope after but never found till just as he was
passing out of the world. It seems as if God had compensated such
turbulent, fiery natures as mine, by revealing Himself to them, for
the terrible hours of shame and sorrow through which their sins and
follies cause them to pass. I suffer far more than Helen does, suffer
bitterly, painfully, but I enjoy tenfold more. For I know whom I have
believed, and I cannot doubt that I am truly united to Him. Helen is
naturally very reserved, but by degrees she has come talk with me
quite frankly. To-day as we sat together in the nursery, little
Raymond snatched a toy from Una, who, as usual, yielded to him
without a frown. I called him to me; he came reluctantly.
"Raymond, dear," I said, "did you ever see papa snatch anything from
He smiled, and shook his head.
'"Well then, until you see him do it to me, never do it to your
sister. Men are gentle and polite to women, and little boys should be
gentle and polite to little girls."
The children ran off to their play, and Helen said,
"Now how different that is from my mother's management with us! She
always made us girls yield to the boys. They would not have thought
they could go up to bed unless one of us got a candle for them."
"That, I suppose, is the reason then that Ernest expected me to wait
upon him after we were married," I replied. "I was a little stiff
about yielding 'to him, for besides mother's precepts, I was
influenced by my father's example. He was so courteous, treating her
with as much respect as if she were a queen, and yet with as much
love as if were always a girl. I naturally expected the like from my
"You must have been disappointed then," she said.
"Yes, I was. It cost me a good many pouts and tears of which I am now
ashamed. And Ernest seldom annoys me now with the little neglects
that I used to make so much of."
"Sometimes I think there are no 'little' neglects," said Helen. "It
takes less than nothing to annoy us."
"And it takes more than everything to please us!" I cried. "But
Ernest and I had one stronghold to which we always fled in our
troublous times, and that was our love for each other. No matter how
he provoked me by his little heedless ways, I had to forgive him
because I loved him so. And he had to forgive me my faults for the
"I had no idea husbands and wives loved each other so," said Helen.
"I thought they got over it as soon as their cares and troubles came
on, and just jogged on together, somehow."
We both laughed and she went on.
"If I thought I should be as happy as you are, I should be tempted to
be married myself."
"Ah, I thought your time would come!" I cried.
"Don't ask me any questions," she said, her pretty face growing
prettier with a bright; warm glow. "Give me advice instead; for
instance, tell me how I can be sure that if I love a man I shall go
on loving him through all the wear and tear of married life and how
can I be sure he can and will go on loving me?"
"Well, then, setting aside the fact that you are both lovable and
loving, I will say this: Happiness, in other words love, in married
life is not a mere accident. When the union has been formed, as most
Christian unions are, by God Himself, it is His intention and His
will that it shall prove the unspeakable joy of both husband and
wife, and become more and more so from year to year. But we are
imperfect creatures, wayward and foolish as little children, horribly
unreasonable, selfish and willful. We are not capable of enduring the
shock of finding at every turn that our idol is made of clay, and
that it is prone to tumble off its pedestal and lie in the dust, till
we pick it up and set it in its place again. I was struck with
Ernest's asking in the very first prayer he offered in my presence,
after our marriage, that God would help us love each other. I felt
that love was the very foundation on which I was built, and that
there was no danger that I should ever fall short in giving to my
husband all he wanted, in full measure. But as he went on day after
day repeating this prayer, and I naturally made it with him, I came
to see that this most precious of earthly blessings had been and must
be God's gift, and that while we both looked at it in that light, and
felt our dependence on Him for it, we might safely encounter together
all the assaults made upon us by the world, the flesh, and the devil.
I believe we owe it to this constant prayer that we have loved each
other so uniformly and with such growing comfort in each other; so
that our little discords always have ended in fresh accord, and our
love has felt conscious of resting on a rock and that that rock was
the will of God."
"It is plain, then," said Helen, "that you and Ernest are sure of one
source of happiness as long as you live, whatever vicissitudes you
may meet with. I thank you so much for what you have said. The fact
is you have been brought up to carry religion into everything. But I
was not. ~ My mother was as good as she was lovely, but I think she
felt and taught us to feel, that we were to put it on as we did our
Sunday clothes, and to wear it, as we did them, carefully and
reverently, but with pretty long, grave faces. But you mix everything
up so, that when I am with you I never know whether you are most like
or most unlike other people. And your mother is just so."
"But you forget that it is to Ernest I owe my best ideas about
married life; I don't remember ever talking with my mother or any one
else on the subject. And as to carrying religion into everything, how
can one help it if one's religion is a vital part of one's self, not
a cloak put on to go to church in and hang up out of the way against
Helen laughed. She has the merriest, yet gentlest little laugh one
can imagine. I long to know who it is that has been so fortunate as
to touch her heart!
MARCH.-I know now, and glad I am! The sly little puss is purring at
this moment in James' arms; at least I suppose she is, as I have
discreetly come up to my room and left them to themselves So it seems
I have had all these worries about Lucy for naught. What made her so
fond of James was simply the fact that a friend of his had looked on
her with a favorable eye, regarding her as a very proper mother for
four or five children who are in need of a shepherd. Yes, Lucy is
going to marry a man so much older than herself, that on a pinch he
might have been her father. She does it from a sense of duty, she
says, and to a nature like hers duty may perhaps suffice, and no cry
of the heart have to be stifled in its performance. We are all so
happy in the happiness of James and Helen that we are not in the mood
to criticise Lucy's decision. I have a strange and most absurd envy
when I think what a good time they are having at this moment
downstairs, while I sit here alone, vainly wishing I could see more
of Ernest. Just as if my happiness were not a deeper, more blessed
one than theirs which must be purged of much dross before it will
prove itself to be like fine gold. Yes, I suppose I am as happy in my
dear, precious husband and children as a wife and mother can be in a
world, which must not be a real heaven lest we should love the land
we journey through so well as to want to pitch our tents in it
forever, and cease to look and long for the home whither we are
James will be married almost immediately, I suppose, as he sails for
Syria early in April. How much a missionary and his wife must be to
each other, when, severing themselves from all they ever loved
before, they go forth, hand in hand, not merely to be foreigners in
heathen lands, but to be henceforth strangers in their own should
they ever return to it!
Helen says, playfully, that she has not a missionary spirit, and is
not at all sure that she shall go with James. But I don't think that
he feels very anxious on that point!
MARCH.-It does one's heart good to see how happy they are! And it
does one's heart good to have one's husband set up an opposition to
the goings on by behaving like a lover himself.
JANUARY 1, 1851
IT is a great while since I wrote that. "God has been just as good as
ever"; I want to say that before I say another word. But He has
indeed smitten me very sorely.
While we were in the midst of our rejoicings about James and Helen,
and the bright future that seemed opening before them, he came home
one day very ill. Ernest happened to be in and attended to him at
once. But the disease was, at the very outset, so violent, and raged
with such absolute fury, that no remedies had any effect. Everything,
even now, seems confused in my mind. It seems as if there was a
sudden transition from the most brilliant, joyous health, to a brief
but fearful struggle for life, speedily followed by the awful mystery
and stillness of death. Is it possible, I still ask myself, that four
short days wrought an event whose consequences must run through
endless years ?-- Poor mother! Poor Helen!-When it was all over, I
do not know what to say of mother but that she behaved and quieted
herself like a weaned child. Her sweet composure awed me; I dared
not give way to my own vehement, terrible sorrow; in the presence of
this Christ-like patience, all noisy demonstrations seemed profane. I
thought no human being was less selfish, more loving than she had
been for many years, but the spirit that now took possession of her
flowed into her heart and life directly from that great Heart of
love, whose depth I had never even begun to sound. There was,
therefore, something absolutely divine in her aspect, in the tones of
her voice, in the very smile on her face. We could compare its
expression to nothing but Stephen, when he, being full of the Holy
Ghost, looked up steadfastly to heaven and saw the glory of God, and
Jesus standing on the right hand of God. As soon as James was gone
Helen came to our home; there was never any discussion about it, she
came naturally to be one of us. Mother's health, already very frail,
gradually failed, and encompassed as I was with cares, I could not be
with her constantly. Helen took the place to her of a daughter, and
found herself welcomed like one. The atmosphere in which we all lived
was one which cannot be described; the love for all of us and for
every living thing that flowed in mother's words and tones passed all
knowledge. The children's little joys and sorrows interested her
exactly as if she was one of themselves; they ran to her with every
petty grievance, and every new pleasure. During the time she lived
with us she had won many warm friends, particularly among the poor
and the suffering. As her strength would no longer allow her to go to
them, those who could do so came to her, and I was struck to see she
had ceased entirely from giving counsel, and now gave nothing but the
most beautiful, tender compassion and sympathy. I saw that she was
failing, but flattered myself that her own serenity and our care
would prolong her life still for many years. I longed to have my
children become old enough to fully appreciate her sanctified
character; and I thought she would gradually fade away and be set
As light winds wandering through groves of bloom,
Detach the delicate blossoms from the tree.
But God's thoughts are not as our thoughts not His ways as our ways.
Her feeble body began to suffer from the rudest assaults of pain; day
and night, night and day, she lived through a martyrdom in which what
might have been a lifetime of suffering was concentrated into a few
months. To witness these sufferings was like the sundering of joints
and marrow, and once, only once, thank God! my faith in Him staggered
and reeled to and fro. "How can He look down on such agonies?" I
cried in my secret soul; "is this the work of a God of love, of
mercy?" Mother seemed to divine my thoughts, for she took my hand
tenderly in hers and said, with great difficulty:
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him. He is just as good as
ever." And she smiled. I ran away to Ernest, crying, "Oh, is there
nothing you can do for her?"
"What should a poor mortal do where Christ has done so much, my
darling?" he said, taking me in his arms. "Let us stand aside and see
the glory of God, with our shoes from off our feet." But he went to
her with one more desperate effort to relieve her, yet in vain.
Mrs. Embury, of whom mother was fond, and who is always very kind
when we are in trouble, came in just then, and after looking on a
moment in tears she said to me:
"God knows whom He can trust! He would not lay His hand thus on all
Those few words quieted me. Yes, God knows. And now it is all over.
My precious, precious mother has been a saint in heaven more than two
years, and has forgotten all the battles she fought on earth, and all
her sorrows and all her sufferings in the presence of her Redeemer.
She knew that she was going, and the last words she uttered-and they
were spoken with somewhat of the playful, quaint manner in which she
had spoken all her life, and with her own bright smile-still sound in
"I have given God a great deal of trouble, but He is driving me into
And then, with her cheek on her hand, she fell asleep, and slept on,
till just at sundown she awoke to find herself in the green pasture,
the driving all over for ever and ever.
Who by searching can find out God? My dear father entered heaven
after a prosperous life path wherein he was unconscious of a pang,
and beloved James went bright and fresh and untarnished by conflict
straight to the Master's feast. But what a long lifetime of
bereavement, sorrow, and suffering was my darling mother's pathway to
Surely her felicity must be greater than theirs, and the crown she
has won by such a struggle must be brighter than the stars! And this
crown she is even now, while I sit here choked with tears, casting
joyfully at the feet of her Saviour!
My sweet sister, my precious little Helen, still nestles in our
hearts and in our home. Martha made one passionate appeal to her to
return to her, but Ernest interfered:
"Let her stay with Katy," he said. "James would have chosen to have
her with the one human being like himself."
Does he then think me, with all my faults, the languor of frail
health, and the cares and burdens of life weighing upon me, enough
like that sparkling, brave boy to be of use and comfort to dear
Helen? I take courage at the thought and rouse myself afresh, to bear
on with fidelity and patience. My steadfast aim now is to follow in
my mother's footsteps; to imitate her cheerfulness, her benevolence,
her bright, inspiring ways, and never to rest till in place of my
selfish nature I become as full of Christ's love as she became. I am
glad she is at last relieved from the knowledge of all my cares, and
though I often and often yearn to throw myself into her arms and pour
out my cares and trials into her sympathizing ears, I would not have
her back for all the world. She has got away from all the turmoil and
suffering of life; let her stay!
The scenes of sorrow through which we have been passing have brought
Ernest nearer to me than ever, and I can see that this varied
discipline has softened and sweetened his character. Besides, we have
modified each other. Ernest is more demonstrative, more attentive to
those little things that make the happiness of married life, and I am
less childish, less vehement-I wish I could say less selfish, but
here I seem to have come to a standstill. But I do understand
Ernest's trials in his profession far better than I did, and can feel
and show some sympathy in them. Of course the life of a physician is
necessarily one of self-denial, spent as it is amid scenes of
suffering and sorrow, which he is often powerless to alleviate. But
there is besides the wear and tear of years of poverty; his bills are
disputed or allowed to run on year after year unnoticed; he is often
dismissed because he cannot put himself in the place of Providence
and save life, and a truly grateful, generous patient is almost an
unknown rarity. I do not speak of these things to complain of them. I
suppose they are a necessary part of that whole providential plan by
which God moulds and fashions and tempers the human soul, just as my
petty, but incessant household cares are. If I had nothing to do but
love my husband and children and perform for them, without let or
hindrance, the sweet ideal duties of wife and mother, how content I
should be to live always in this world! But what would become of me
if I were not called, in the pursuit of these duties and in contact
with real life, to bear restless nights, ill-health, unwelcome news,
the faults of servants, contempt, ingratitude of friends, my own
failings, lowness of spirits, the struggle in overcoming my
corruption, and a score of kindred trials!"
Bishop Wilson charges us to bear all these things "as unto God," and
"with the greatest privacy." How seldom I have met them save as lions
in my way, that I would avoid if I could, and how I have tormented my
friends by tedious complaints about them! Yet when compared with the
great tragedies of suffering I have both witnessed and suffered, how
petty they seem!
Our household, bereft of mother's and James' bright presence, now
numbers just as many members as it did before they left us. Another
angel has flown into it, though not on wings, and I have four darling
children, the baby, who can hardly be called a baby now, being nearly
two years old. My hands and my heart are full, but two of the
children go to school, and that certainly makes my day's work easier.
The little things are happier for having regular employment, and we
are so glad to meet each other again after the brief separation! I
try to be at home when it is time to expect them, for I love to hear
the eager voices ask, in chorus, the moment the door opens: "Is mamma
at home?" Helen has taken Daisy to sleep with her, which after so
many years of ups and downs at night, now with restless babies, now
to answer the bell when Ernest is out, is a great relief to me. Poor
Helen! She has never recovered her cheerfulness since James' death.
It has crushed her energies and left her very sorrowful. This is
partly owing to a soft and tender nature, easily borne down and
overwhelmed, partly to what seems an almost constitutional inability
to find rest in God's will. She assents to all we say to her about
submission, in a sweet, gentle way, and then comes the invariable,
mournful wail, "But it was so unexpected! It came so suddenly!" But
I love the little thing, and her affection for us all is one of our
Martha is greatly absorbed in her own household, its cares and its
pleasures. She brings her little Underhills to see us occasionally,
when they put my children quite out of countenance by their
consciousness of the fine clothes they wear, and their knowledge of
the world. Even I find it hard not to feel abashed in the presence of
so much of the sort of wisdom in which I am lacking. As to Lucy she
is exactly in her sphere: the calm dignity with which she reigns in
her husband's house, and the moderation and self-control with which
she guides his children, are really instructive. She has a baby of
her own, and though it acts just like other babies and kicks,
scratches, pulls. and cries when it is washed and dressed, she goes
through that process with a serenity and deliberation that I envy
with all my might. Her predecessor in the nursery was all nerve and
brain, and has left four children made of the same material behind
her. But their wild spirits on one day, and their depression and
languor on the next, have no visible effect upon her. Her influence
is always quieting; she tones down their vehemence with her own calm
decision and practical good sense. It is amusing to see her seated
among those four little furies, who love each other in such a
distracted way that somebody's feelings are always getting hurt, and
somebody always crying. By a sort of magnetic influence she heals
these wounds immediately, and finds some prosaic occupation as an
antidote to these poetical moods. I confess that I am instructed and
reproved whenever I go to see her, and wish I were more like her.
But there is no use in trying to engraft an opposite nature on one's
own. What I am, that I must be, except as God changes me into His own
image. And everything brings me back to that, as my supreme desire. I
see more and more that I must be myself what I want my children to
be, and that I cannot make myself over even for their sakes. This
must be His work, and I wonder that it goes on so slowly; that all
the disappointments, sorrows, sicknesses I have passed through, have
left me still selfish, still full of imperfections.
MARCH 5, 1852.-This is the sixth anniversary of James' death.
Thinking it all over after I went to bed last night, his sickness,
his death, and the weary months that followed for mother, I could not
get to sleep till long past midnight. Then Una woke, crying with the
earache, and I was up till nearly daybreak with her, poor child. I
got up jaded and depressed, almost ready to faint under the burden of
life, and dreading to meet Helen, who is doubly sad on these
anniversaries. She came down to breakfast dressed as usual in deep
mourning, and looking as spiritless as I felt. The prattle of the
children relieved the sombre silence maintained by the rest of us,
each of whom acted depressingly on the others. How things do flash
into one's mind. These words suddenly came to mine, as we sat so
gloomily at the table God had spread for us, and which He had
enlivened by the four young faces around it--
"Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?"
Why, indeed? Children of a King? I felt grieved that I was so intent
on my own sorrows as to lose sight of my relationship to Him. And
then I asked myself what I could do to make the day less wearisome
and sorrowful to Helen. She came, after a time, with her work to my
room. The children took their good-by kisses and went off to school;
Ernest took his, too, and set forth on his day's work, whi1e Daisy
played quietly about the room.
"Helen, dear," I ventured at last to begin "I want you to do me a
"Yes," she said, languidly.
"I want you to go to see Mrs. Campbell. This is the day for her
beef-tea, and she will be looking out for one of us.
"You must not ask me to go to-day," Helen answered.
"I think I must, dear. When other springs of comfort dry up, there is
one always left to us. And that; as mother often said, is
"I do try to be useful," she said.
"Yes, you are very kind to me and to the children. If you were my own
sister you could not do more. But these little duties do not relieve
that aching void in your heart which yearns so for relief."
"No," she said, quickly, "I have no such yearning. I just want to
settle down as I am now."
"Yes, I suppose that is the natural tendency of sorrow. But there is
great significance in the prayer for 'a heart at leisure from itself,
to soothe and sympathize.'"
"Oh, Katy!" she said, "you don't know, you can't know, how I feel.
Until James began to love me so I did not know there was such a love
as that in the world. You know our family is different from yours.
And it is so delightful to be loved. Or rather it was!"
"Don't say was," I said. "You know we all love you dearly, dearly"
"Yes, but not as James did!"
"That is true. It was foolish in me to expect to console you by such
suggestions. But to go back to Mrs. Campbell. She will sympathize
with you, if you will let her, as very few can, for she has lost both
husband and children."
"Ah, but she had a husband for a time, at least. It is not as if he
were snatched away before they had lived together."
If anybody else had said this I should have felt that it was out of
mere perverseness. But dear little Helen is not perverse; she is
"I grant that your disappointment was greater than hers," I went on.
"But the affliction was not. Every day that a husband and wife walk
hand in hand together upon earth makes of the twain more and more one
flesh. The selfish element which at first formed so large a part of
their attraction to each other disappears, and the union becomes so
pure and beautiful as to form a fitting type of the union of Christ
and His church. There is nothing else on earth like it."
"I find it hard to believe," she said, "there can be anything more
delicious than the months in which James and I were so happy
"Suffering together would have brought you even nearer," I replied.
"Dear Helen, I am very sorry for you; I hope you feel that, even
when, according to my want, I fall into arguments, as if one could
argue a sorrow away!"
"You are so happy," she answered. "Ernest loves you so dearly, and is
so proud of you, and you have such lovely children! I ought not to
expect you to sympathize perfectly with my loneliness.
"Yes, I am happy," I said, after a pause; "but you must own, dear,
that I have had my sorrows, too. Until you become a mother yourself,
you cannot comprehend what a mother can suffer, riot merely for
herself, in losing her children, but in seeing their sufferings. I
think I may say of my happiness that it rests on something higher and
deeper than even Ernest and my children."
"And what is that?"
The will of God, the sweet will of God. If He should take them all
away, I might still possess a peace which would flow on forever. I
know this partly from my own experience and partly from that of
others. Mrs. Campbell says that the three months that followed the
death of her first child were the happiest she had ever known. Mrs.
Wentworth, whose husband was snatched from her almost without
warning, and while using expressions of affection for her such as a
lover addresses to his bride, said to me, with tears rolling down her
cheeks, yet with a smile, I thank my God and Saviour that He has not
forgotten and passed me by, but has counted me worthy to bear this
sorrow for His sake.' And hear this passage from the life of Wesley,
which I lighted on this morning:
"He visited one of his disciples, who was ill in bed and after having
buried seven of her family in six months, had just heard that the
eighth, her husband, whom she dearly loved, had been cast away at
sea. 'I asked her,' he says, ' do you not fret at any of those
things?' She says, with a lovely smile, 'Oh, no! how can I fret at
anything which is the will of God? Let Him take all beside, He has
given me Himself. I love, I praise Him every moment.'"
"Yes," Helen objected, "I can imagine people as saying such things in
moments of excitement; but afterwards, they have hours of terrible
"They have 'hours of terrible agony,' of course. God's grace does not
harden our hearts, and make them proof against suffering, like coats
of mail. They can all say, 'Out of the depths have I cried unto
Thee,' and it is they alone who have been down into the depths, and
had rich experience of what God could be to His children there, who
can utter such testimonials to His honor, as those I have just
"Katy,' Helen suddenly asked, "do you always submit to God's will
"In great things I do," I said. "What grieves me is that I am
constantly forgetting to recognize God's hand in the little every-day
trials of life, and instead of receiving them as from Him, find fault
with the instruments by which He sends them. I can give up my child,
my only brother, my darling mother without a word; but to receive
every tire some visitor as sent expressly and directly to weary me by
the Master Himself; to meet every negligence on the part of the
servants as His choice for me at the moment; to be satisfied and
patient when Ernest gets particularly absorbed in his books because
my Father sees that little discipline suitable for me at the time;
all this I have not fully learned."
"All you say discourages me," said Helen, in a tone of deep
dejection. "Such perfection was only meant for a few favored ones,
and I do not dare so much as to aim at it. I am perfectly sure that I
must be satisfied with the low state of grace I am in now and always
She was about to leave me, but I caught her hand as she would have
passed me, and made one more attempt to reach her poor, weary soul.
"But are you satisfied, dear Helen?" I asked, as tenderly as I would
speak to a little sick child. "Surely you crave happiness, as every
human soul does!"
"Yes, I crave it," she replied, "but God has taken it from me.
"He has taken away your earthly happiness, I know, but only to
convince you what better things He has in store for you. Let me read
you a letter which Dr. Cabot wrote me many years ago, but which has
been an almost constant inspiration to me ever since."
She sat down, resumed her work again, and listened to the letter in
silence. As I came to its last sentence the three children rushed in
from school, at least the boys did, and threw themselves upon me like
men assaulting a fort. I have formed the habit of giving myself
entirely to them at the proper moment, and now entered into their
frolicsome mood as joyously as if I had never known a sorrow or lost
an hour's sleep. At last they went off to their play- room, and Una
settled down by my side to amuse Daisy, when Helen began again.
"I should like to read that letter myself," she said. "Meanwhile I
want to ask you one question. What are you made of that you can turn
from one thing to another like lightning? Talking one moment as if
life depended on your every word, and then frisking about with those
wild boys as if you were a child yourself?"
I saw Una look up curiously, to hear my answer, as I replied,
"I have always aimed at this flexibility. I think a mother,
especially, ought to learn to enter into the gayer moods of her
children at the very moment when her own heart is sad. And it may be
as religious an act for her to romp with them at the time as to pray
with them at another."
Helen now went away to her room with Dr Cabot's letter, which I
silently prayed might bless her as it had blessed me. And then a
jaded, disheartened mood came over me that made me feel that all I
had been saying to her was but as sounding brass and a tinkling
cymbal, since my life and my professions did not correspond. Hitherto
my consciousness of imperfection has made me hesitate to say much to
Helen. Why are we so afraid of those who live under the same roof
with us? It must be the conviction that those who daily see us acting
in a petty, selfish, trifling way, must find it hard to conceive that
our prayers and our desires take a wider and higher aim. Dear little
Helen! May the ice once broken remain broken forever.
HELEN returned Dr. Cabot's letter in silence this morning, but,
directly after breakfast, set forth to visit Mrs. Campbell, with the
little bottle of beef-tea in her hands, which ought to have gone
yesterday. I had a busy day before me; the usual Saturday baking and
Sunday dinner to oversee, the children's lessons for to-morrow to
superintend and hear them repeat, their clean clothes to lay out, and
a basket of stockings to mend. My mind was somewhat distracted with
these cares, and I found it a little difficult to keep on with my
morning devotions in spite of them. But I have learned, at least, to
face and fight such distractions, instead of running away from them
as I used to do. My faith in prayer, my resort to it, becomes more
and more the foundation of my life, and I believe, with one wiser and
better than myself, that nothing but prayer stands between my soul
and the best gifts of God; in other words, that I can and shall get
what I ask for.
I went down into the kitchen, put on my large baking apron, and began
my labors; of course the door-bell rang, and a poor woman was
announced. It is very sweet to follow Fenelon's counsel and give
oneself to Christ in all these interruptions; but this time I said,
"oh, dear!" before I thought. Then I wished I hadn't, and went up,
with a cheerful face at any rate, to my unwelcome visitor, who proved
to be one of my aggravating poor folks-a great giant of a woman, in
perfect health, and with a husband to support her if he will. I told
her that I could do no more for her; she answered me rudely, and kept
urging her claims. I felt ruffled; why should my time be thus
frittered away, I asked myself. At last she went off, abusing me in a
way that chilled my heart. I could only beg God to forgive her, and
return to my work, which I had hardly resumed when Mrs. Embury sent
for a pattern I had promised to lend her. Off came my apron, and up
two pairs of stairs I ran; after a long search it came to light. Work
resumed; door-bell again. Aunty wanted the children to come to an
early dinner. Going to Aunty's is next to going to Paradise to them.
Every thing was now hurry and flurry; I tried to be patient; and not
to fret their temper by undue attention to nails, ears, and other
susceptible parts of the human frame, but after it was all over, and
I had kissed all the sweet, dear faces good-by, and returned to the
kitchen, I felt sure that I had not been the perfect mother I want to
be in all these little emergencies-yes, far from it. Bridget had let
the milk I was going to use boil over, and finally burn up. I was
annoyed and irritated, and already tired,. and did not see how I was
to get more, as Mary was cleaning the silver (to be sure, there is
not much of it), and had other extra Saturday work to do. I thought
Bridget might offer to run to the corner for it, though it isn't her
business, hut she is not obliging, and seemed as sulky as if I had
burned the milk, not she. "After all," I said to myself, "what does
it signify, if Ernest gets no dessert? It isn't good for him, and how
much precious time is wasted over just this one thing?" However, I
reflected, that arbitrarily refusing to indulge him in this respect
is not exactly my mission as his wife; he is perfectly well, and
likes his little luxuries as well as other people do. So I humbled my
pride and asked Bridget to go for the milk, which she did, in a lofty
way of her own. While she was gone the marketing came home, and I had
everything to dispose of. Ernest had sent home some apples, which
plainly said, "I want some apple pie, Katy." I looked nervously at
the clock, and undertook to gratify him. Mary came down, crying, to
say that her mother, who lived in Brooklyn, was very sick; could she
go to see her? I looked at the clock once more; told her she should
go, of course, as soon as lunch was over; this involved my doing all
her absence left undone.
At last I got through with the kitchen, the Sunday dinner being well
under way, and ran upstairs to put away the host of little garments
the children had left when they took their flight, and to make myself
presentable at lunch. Then I began to be uneasy lest Ernest should
not be punctual, and Mary be delayed; but he came just as the clock
struck one. I ran joyfully to meet him, very glad now that I had
something good to give him. We bad just got through lunch, and I was
opening my mouth to tell Mary she might go, when the doorbell rang
once more, and Mrs. Fry, of Jersey City, was announced. I told Mary
to wait till I found whether she had lunched or not; no, she hadn't;
had come to town to see friends off, was half famished, and would I
do her the favor, etc., etc. She had a fashionable young lady with
her, a stranger to me, as well as a Miss Somebody else, from Albany,
whose name I did not catch. I apologized for having finished lunch.
Mrs. Fry said all they wanted was a cup of tea and a bit of bread and
butter, nothing else, dear; now don't put yourself out.
"Now be bright and animated, and like yourself," she whispered, "for
I have brought these girls here on purpose to hear you talk, and they
are prepared to fall in love with you on the spot"
This speech sufficed to shut my mouth.
Mary had to get ready for these unexpected guests, whose appetites
proved equal to a raid on a good many things besides bread and
butter. Mrs. Fry said, after she had devoured nearly half a loaf of
cake, that she would really try to eat a morsel more, which Ernest
remarked, dryly, was a great triumph of mind over matter. As they
talked and 'laughed and ate leisurely on, Mary stood looking the
picture of despair. At last I gave her a glance that said she might
go, when a new visitor was announced-Mrs. Winthrop, from Brooklyn,
one of Ernest's patients a few years ago, when she lived here. She
professed herself greatly indebted to him, and said she had come at
this hour because she should make sure of seeing him. I tried to
excuse him, as I knew he would be thankful to have me do, but no, see
him she must; he was her "pet doctor," he had such "sweet, bedside
manners," and "I am such a favorite with him, you know!"
Ernest did not receive his "favorite" with any special warmth; but
invited her out to lunch and gallanted her to the table we had just
left. Just like a man! Poor Mary! she had to fly round and get up
what she could; Mrs. Winthrop devoted herself to Ernest with a
persistent ignoring of me that I thought rude and unwomanly. She
asked if he had read a certain book; he had not; she then said, "I
need not ask, then, if Mrs. Elliott has done so? These charming
dishes, which she gets up so nicely, must absorb all her time." "Of
course," replied Ernest. "But she contrives to read the reports of
all the murders, of which the newspapers are full."
Mrs. Winthrop took this speech literally, drew away her skirts from
me, looked at me through her eye-glass, and said, "Yes?" At last she
departed. Helen came home, and Mary went. I gave Helen an account of
my morning; she laughed heartily, and it did me good to hear that
musical sound once more.
"It is nearly five o'clock," I said, as we at last had restored
everything to order, "and this whole day has been frittered away in
the veriest trifles. It isn't living to live so. Who is the better
for my being in the world since six o'clock this morning?"
"I am for one," she said, kissing my hot cheeks; "and you have given
a great deal of pleasure to several persons. Your and Ernest's
hospitality is always graceful. I admire it in you both; and this is
one of the little ways, not to be despised, of giving enjoyment." It
was nice in her to say that, it quite rested me.
At the dinner-table Ernest complimented me on my good housekeeping.
"I was proud of my little wife at lunch" he said.
"And yet you said that outrageous thing about my reading about
nothing but murders!" I said.
"Oh, well, you understood it," he said, laughingly.
"But that dreadful Mrs. Winthrop took it literally."
"What do we care for Mrs. Winthrop?" he returned. "If you could have
seen the contrast between you two in my eyes!"
After all, one must take life as it comes, its homely details are so
mixed up with its sweet charities, and loves, and friendships that
one is forced to believe that God has joined them together and does
not will that they should be put asunder. It is something that my
husband has been satisfied with his wife and his home to-day; that
does me good.
MARCH 30.-A stormy day and the children home from school, and no
little frolicking and laughing going on. It must, be delightful to
feel well and strong while one's children are young, there is so much
to do for them. I do it; but no one can tell the effort, it costs me.
What a contrast there is between their vitality and the languor under
which I suffer! When their noise became intolerable, I proposed to
read to them; of course they made ten times as much clamor of
pleasure and of course they leaned on me, ground their elbows into my
lap, and tired me all out. As I sat with this precious little group
about me, Ernest opened the door, looked in, gravely and without a
word, and instantly disappeared. I felt uneasy and asked him, this
evening, why he looked so. Was I indulging the children too much, or
what was it? He took me into his arms and said:
"My precious wife, why will you torment yourself with such fancies?
My very heart was yearning over you at that moment, as it did the
first time I saw you surrounded by your little class at
Sunday-school, years ago, and I was asking myself why God had given
me such a wife, and my children such a mother."
Oh, I am glad I have got this written down! I will read it over when
the sense of my deficiencies overwhelms me, while I ask God why He
has given me such a patient, forbearing husband.
APRIL 1.-This has been a sad day to our church. Our dear Dr. Cabot
has gone to his eternal home, and left us as sheep without a
His death was sudden at the last and found us all unprepared for it.
But my tears of sorrow are mingled with tears of joy. His heart had
long been in heaven, he was ready to go at a moment's warning; never
was a soul so constantly and joyously on the wing as his. Poor Mrs.
Cabot! She is left very desolate, for all their children are married
and settled at a distance. But she bears this sorrow like one who has
long felt herself a pilgrim and a stranger on earth. How strange that
we ever forget that we are all such!
APRIL 16.-The desolate pilgrimage was not long. Dear Mrs. Cabot was
this day laid away by the side of her beloved husband, and it is
delightful to think of them as not divided by death, but united by it
in a complete and eternal union.
I never saw a husband and wife more tenderly attached to each other,
and this is a beautiful close to their long and happy married life. I
find it hard not to wish and pray that I may as speedily follow my
precious husband, should God call him away first. But it is not for
me to choose.
How I shall miss these faithful friends, who, from my youth up, have
been my stay and my staff in the house of my pilgrimage! Almost all
the disappointments and sorrows of my life have had their Christian
sympathy, particularly the daily, wasting solicitude concerning my
darling Una, for they to watched for years over as delicate a flower,
and saw it fade and die. Only those who have suffered thus can
appreciate the heart-soreness through which, no matter how outwardly
cheerful I may be, I am always passing. But what then! Have I not ten
thousand times made this my prayer, that in the words of Leighton, my
will might become, identical with God's will."
And shall He not take me at my word?" Just as I was writing these
words, my canary burst forth with a song so joyous that a song was
put also into my mouth. Something seemed to say, this captive sings
in his cage because it has never known liberty, and cannot regret a
lost freedom. So the soul of my child, limited by the restrictions of
a feeble body, never having known the gladness of exuberant health,
may sing songs that will enliven and cheer. Yes, and does sing them!
What should we do without her gentle, loving presence, whose frailty
calls forth our tenderest affections and whose sweet face makes
sunshine in the shadiest places! I am sure that the boys are truly
blessed by having a sister always at home to welcome them, and that
their best manliness is appealed to by her helplessness.
What this child is to me I cannot tell And yet, if the skillful and
kind Gardener should house this delicate plant before frosts come,
should I dare to complain?
Miss CLIFFORD came to lunch with us on Wednesday. Her remarkable
restoration to health has attracted a good deal of attention, and has
given Ernest a certain reputation which does not come amiss to him.
Not that he is ambitious; a more unworldly man does not live; but his
extreme reserve and modesty have obscured the light that is now
beginning to shine. We all enjoyed Miss Clifford's visit. She is one
of the freshest, most original creatures I ever met with, and kept us
all laughing with her quaint speeches, long after every particle of
lunch had disappeared from the table. But this mobile nature turns to
the serious side of life with marvelous ease and celerity, as perhaps
all sound ones ought to do. I took her up to my room where my
work-basket was, and Helen followed, with hers.
"I have brought something to read to you, dear Mrs. Elliott," Miss
Clifford began, the moment we had seated ourselves, "which I have
just lighted on, and I am sure you will like. A nobleman writes to
Fenelon asking certain questions, and a part of these questions, with
the replies, I want to enjoy with you, as they cover a good deal of
the ground we have often discussed together":
"I.-How shall I offer my purely indifferent actions to God; walks,
visits made and received, dress, little proprieties, such as washing
the hands, etc.', the reading of books of history, business with
which I am charged for my friends, other amusements, such -as
shopping, having clothes made, and equipages. I want to have some
sort of prayer, or method of offering each of these things to God.
"REPLY.-The most indifferent actions cease to be such, and become
good as soon as one performs them with the intention of conforming
one's self in them to the will of God. They are often better and
purer than certain actions which appear more virtuous: 1st, because
they are less of our own choice and more in the order of Providence
when one is obliged to perform them; 2d, because they are simpler and
less exposed to vain complaisance; 3d, because if one yields to them
with moderation, one finds in them more of death to one's
inclinations than in certain acts of fervor in which self-love
mingles; finally, because these little occasions occur more
frequently, and furnish a secret occasion for continually making
every moment profitable.
"It is not necessary to make great efforts nor acts of great
reflection, in order to offer what are called indifferent actions. It
is enough to lift the soul one instant to God, to make a simple
offering of it. Everything which God wishes us to do, and which
enters into the course of occupation suitable to our position, can
and ought to be offered to God; nothing is unworthy of Him but sin.
When you feel that an action cannot be offered to God, conclude that
it does not become a Christian; it is at least necessary to suspect
it, and seek light concerning it. I would not have a special prayer
for each of these the elevation of the heart at the moment suffices.
"As for visits, commissions and the like, as there is danger of
following one's own taste too much, I would add to this elevating of
the heart a prayer to moderate myself and use precaution.
"II-In prayer I cannot fix my mind, or I have intervals of time when
it is elsewhere and it is often distracted for a long time before I
perceive it. I want to find some means of becoming its master.
"REPLY.-Fidelity in following the rules that have been given you,
and in recalling your mind every time you perceive its distraction,
will gradually give you the grace of being more recollected.
Meanwhile bear your involuntary distractions with patience and
humility; you deserve nothing better. Is it surprising that
recollection is difficult to a man so long dissipated and far from
"III.-I wish to know if it is best to record, on my tablets, the
faults and the sins I have committed, in order not to rum the risk of
forgetting them. I excite in myself to repentance for my faults as
much as I can; but I have never felt any real grief on account of
them. When I examine myself at night, I see persons far more perfect
than I complain of more sin: as for me, I seek, I find nothing; and
yet it is impossible there should not be many points on which to
implore pardon every day of my life.
"REPLY.-You should examine yourself every night, but simply and
briefly. In the disposition to which God has brought you, you will
not voluntarily commit any considerable fault without remembering and
reproaching yourself for it. As to little faults, scarcely perceived,
even if you sometimes forget them, this need not make you uneasy.
"As to lively grief on account of your sins, it is not necessary. God
gives it when it pleases Him. True and essential conversion of the
heart consists in a full will to sacrifice all to God. What I call
full will is a fixed immovable disposition of the will to resume none
of the voluntary affections which may alter the purity of the love to
God and to abandon itself to all the crosses which it will -perhaps
-be necessary to bear, in order to accomplish the will of God always
and in all things. As to sorrow for sin, when one has it, one ought
to return thanks for it; when one perceives it to be wanting, one
should humble one's self peacefully before God without trying to
excite it by vain efforts.
"You find in your self-examination fewer faults than persons more
advanced and more perfect do; it is because your interior light is
still feeble. It will increase, and the view of your infidelities
will increase in proportion. It suffices, without making yourself
uneasy, to try to be faithful to the degree of light you possess, and
to instruct yourself by reading and meditation. It will not do to try
to forestall the grace that belongs to a more advanced period. It
would only serve to trouble and discourage you, and even to exhaust
you by continual anxiety; the time that should be spent in loving God
would be given to forced returns upon yourself, which secretly
"IV.---In my prayers my mind has difficulty in finding anything to
say to God. My heart is not in it, or it is inaccessible to the
thoughts of my mind.
"REPLY.-It is not necessary to say much to God. Oftentimes one does
not speak much to a friend whom one is delighted to see; one looks at
him with pleasure; one speaks certain short words to him which are
mere expressions of feeling. The mind has no part in them, or next to
none; one keeps repeating the same words. It is not so much a variety
of thoughts that one seeks in intercourse with a friend, as a certain
repose and correspondence of heart. It is thus we are with God, who
does not disdain to be our tenderest, most cordial,-most familiar,
most intimate friend. A word, a sigh, a sentiment, says all to God;
it is not always necessary to have transports of sensible tenderness;
a will all naked and dry, without life, without vivacity, without
pleasure, is often purest in the sight of God. In fine, it is
necessary to content one's self with giving to Him what He gives it
to give, a fervent heart when it is fervent, a heart firm and
faithful in its aridity, when He deprives it of sensible fervor. It
does not always depend on you to feel; but it is necessary to wish to
feel. Leave it to God to choose to make you feel sometimes, in order
to sustain your weakness and infancy in Christian life; sometimes
weaning you from that sweet and consoling sentiment which is the milk
of babes, in order to humble you, to make you grow, and to make you
robust in the violent exercise of faith, by causing you to sweat the
bread of the strong in the sweat of your brow. Would you only love
God according as He will make you take pleasure in loving Him? You
would be loving your own tenderness and feeling, fancying that you
were loving God. Even while receiving sensible gifts, prepare
yourself by pure faith for the time when you might be deprived of
them and you will suddenly succumb if you had only relied on such
"O forgot to speak of some practices which may, at the beginning,
facilitate the remembrance of the offering one ought to make to God,
of all the ordinary acts of the day.
"1. Form the resolution to do so, every morning, and call yourself to
account in your self-examination at night.
"2. Make no resolutions but for good reasons, either from propriety or
the necessity of relaxing the mind, etc. Thus, in accustoming one's
self to retrench the useless little by little, one accustoms one's
self to offer what is not proper to curtail.
"3. Renew one's self in this disposition whenever one is alone, in
order to be better prepared to recollect it when in company.
"4. Whenever one surprises one's self in too great dissipation, or in
speaking too freely of his neighbor, let him collect himself and
offer to God all the rest of the conversation.
"5. To flee, with confidence, to God, to act according to His will,
when one enters company, or engages in some occupation which may
cause one to fall into temptation. The sight of danger ought to warn
of the need there is to lift the heart toward Him by one who may be
preserved from it."
We both thanked her as she finished reading, and I begged her to lend
me the volume that I might make the above copy.
I hope I have gained some valuable hints from this letter, and that I
shall see more plainly than ever that it is a religion of principle
that God wants from us, not one of mere feeling.
Helen remarked that she was most struck by the assertion that one
cannot forestall the graces that belong to a more advanced period.
She said she had assumed that she ought to experience all that the
most mature Christian did, and that it rested her to think of God as
doing this work for her, making repentance, for instance, a free
gift, not a conquest to be won for one's self.
Miss Clifford said that the whole idea of giving one's self to God in
such little daily acts as visiting, shopping, and the like, was
entirely new to her.
"But fancy," she went on, her beautiful face lighted up with-
enthusiasm, "what a blessed life that must be, when the base things
of this world and things that are despised, are so many links to the
invisible world and to the things God has chosen!"
"In other words," I said, "the top of the ladder that rests on earth
reaches to heaven, and we may ascend it as the angels did in Jacob's
"And descend too, as they did," Helen put in, despondently.
"Now you shall not speak in that tone," cried Miss Clifford. "Let us
look at the bright side of life, and believe that God means us to be
always ascending, always getting nearer to Himself, always learning
something new about Him, always loving Him better and better. To be
sure, our souls are sick, and of themselves can't keep 'ever on the
wing,' but I have had some delightful thoughts of late from just
hearing the title of a book, 'God's method with the maladies of the
soul.' It gives one such a conception of the seeming ills of life ;
to think of Him as our Physician, the ills all remedies, the
deprivations only a wholesome regimen, the losses all gains. Why, as
I study this individual case and that, see how patiently and
persistently He tries now this remedy, now that, and how infallibly
He cures the souls that submit to His remedies, I love Him so! I love
Him so! And I am so astonished that we are restive under His unerring
hand! Think how He dealt with me. My soul was sick unto death, sick
with worldliness, and self-pleasing and folly. There was only one way
of making me listen to reason, and that was just the way He took. He
snatched me right out of the world and shut me up in one room,
crippled, helpless, and alone, and set me to thinking, thinking,
thinking, till I saw the emptiness and shallowness of all in which I
had hitherto been involved. And then He sent you and your mother to
show me the reality of life, and to reveal to me my invisible,
unknown Physician. Can I love Him with half my heart? Can I be asking
questions as to how much I am to pay towards the debt I owe Him ?"
By this time Helen's work had fallen from her hands and tears were in
"How I thank you," she said softly, "for what you have said. You have
interpreted life to me! You have given .me a new conception of my God
Miss Clifford seemed quenched and humbled by these words; her
enthusiasm faded away and she looked at Helen with a deprecatory air
as she replied:
"Don't say that! I never felt so unfit for anything but to sit at the
feet of Christ's disciples and learn of them."
Yet I, so many years one of those disciples, been sitting at her
feet, and had learned of her. Never had I so realized the magnitude
of the work to be done in this world, nor the power and goodness of
Him who has undertaken to do it all. I was glad to be alone, to walk
my room singing praises to Him for every instance in which, as my
Physician, He had "disappointed my hope and defeated my joys" and
given me to drink of the cup of sorrow and bereavement.
MAY 24.-I read to Ernest the extract from Fenelon which has made such
an impression on me.
"Every business man, in short ;every man leading an active life,
ought to read that," he said. "We should have a new order of things
as the result Instead of fancying that our ordinary daily work was
one thing and our religion quite another thing, we should transmute
our drudgery into acts of worship. Instead of going to
prayer-meetings to get into a 'good frame' we should live in a good
frame from morning till night, from night till morning, and prayer
and praise would be only another form for expressing the love and
faith and obedience we had been exercising amid the pressure of
"I only wish I had understood this years ago," I said." I have made
prayer too much of a luxury, and have often inwardly chafed and
fretted when the care of my children, at times, made it utterly
impossible to leave them for private devotion-when they have been
sick, for instance, or in other like emergencies. I reasoned this
way: 'Here is a special demand on my patience, and I am naturally
impatient I must have time to go away and entreat the Lord to equip
me for this conflict.' But I see now that the simple act of cheerful
acceptance of the duty imposed and the solace and support withdrawn
would have united me more fully to Christ than the highest enjoyment
of His presence in prayer could."
"Yes, every act of obedience is an act of worship," he said.
"But why don't we learn that sooner? Why do we waste our lives before
we learn how to live?"
"I am not sure," he returned, "that we do not learn as fast as we are
willing to learn. God does not force instruction upon us, but when we
say, as Luther did, 'More light, Lord, more light,'- the light
I questioned myself after he had gone as to whether this could be
true of me. Is there not in my heart some secret reluctance to know
the truth, lest that knowledge should call to a higher and holier
life than I have yet lived?
JUNE 2.-I went to see Mrs. Campbell a few days ago, and found, to my
great joy, that Helen had just been there, and that they had had an
earnest conversation together. Mrs. Campbell failed a good deal of
late, and it is not probable we shall have her with us much longer.
Her every look and word is precious to me when I think of her as one
who is so soon to enter the unseen world and see our Saviour, and be
welcomed home by Him. If it is so delightful to be with those who are
on the way to heaven, what would it be to have fellowship with one
who had come thence, and could tell us what it is!
She spoke freely about death, and said Ernest had promised to take
charge of her funeral, and to see that she was buried by the side of
"You see, my dear,' she added, with a smile, "though I am expecting
to be so soon a saint in heaven, I am a human being still, with human
weaknesses. What can it really matter where this weary old body is
laid away, when I have done with it, and gone and left it forever?
And yet I am leaving directions about its disposal!"
I said I was glad that she was still human but that I did not think
it a weakness to take thought for the abode in which her soul had
dwelt so long. I saw that she was tired and was coming away, but she
held me and would not let me go.
"Yes, I am tired," she said, "but what of that? It is only a question
of days now, and all my tired feelings will be over. Then I shall be
as young and fresh as ever, and shall have strength to praise and to
love God as I cannot do now. But before I go I want once more to tell
you how good He is, how blessed it is to suffer with Him, how
infinitely happy He has made me in the very hottest heat of the
furnace. It will strengthen you in your trials to recall this my
dying testimony. There is no wilderness so dreary but that His love
can illuminate it, no desolation so desolate but that He can sweeten
it. I know what I am saying. It is no delusion. I believe that the
highest, purest happiness is known only to those who have learned
Christ in sick-rooms, in poverty, in racking suspense and anxiety,
amid hardships, and at the open grave."
Yes, the radiant face, worn by sickness and suffering, but radiant
still, said in language yet more unspeakably impressive,--
"To learn Christ, this is life!"
I came into the busy and noisy streets as one descending from the
mount, and on reaching home found my darling Una very ill in Ernest's
arms. She had fallen, and injured her head. How I had prayed that God
would temper the wind to this shorn lamb, and now she had had such a
fall! We watched over her till far into the night, scarcely speaking
to each other, but I know by the way in which Ernest held my hand
clasped in his that her precious life was in danger. He consented at
last to lie down, but Helen stayed with me. What a night it was! God
only knows what the human heart can experience in a space of time
that men call hours. I went over all the past history of the child,
recalling all her sweet looks and words, and my own secret repining
at the delicate health that cut her off from so many of the pleasures
that belong to her age. And the more I thought, the more I clung to
her, on whom, frail as she is, I was beginning to lean, and whose
influence in our home I could not think of losing without a shudder.
Alas, my faith seemed, for a time, to flee, and I see just what a
poor, weak human being is without it. But before daylight crept into
my room light from on high streamed into my heart, and I gave even
this, my ewe-lamb, away, as my free-will offering to God. Could I
refuse Him my child because she was the very apple of my eye? Nay
then, but let me give to Him, not what, I value least, but what I
prize and delight in most. Could I not endure heart-sickness for Him
who had given His only Son for me! And just as I got to that sweet
consent to suffer, He who had only lifted the rod to try my faith
laid it down. My darling opened her eyes and looked at us
intelligently, and with her own loving smile. But I dared not snatch
her and press her to my heart; for her sake I must be outwardly calm
JUNE 6.-I am at home with my precious Una, all the rest having gone
to church. She lies peacefully on the bed, sadly disfigured, for the
time, but Ernest says he apprehends no danger now, and we are a most
happy, a most thankful household. The children have all been greatly
moved by the events of the last few days, and hover about their
sister with great sympathy and tenderness. Where she fell from, or
how she fell, no one knows; she remembers nothing about it herself,
and it will always remain a mystery.
This is the second time that this beloved child has been returned to
us after we had given her away to God.
And as the giving cost us ten-fold more now than it did when she was
a feeble baby, so we receive her as a fresh gift from our loving
Father's hand, with ten-fold delight. Ah, we have no excuse for not
giving ourselves entirely to Him. He has revealed Himself to us in so
many sorrows and in so many joys; revealed Himself as He doth not
unto the world!
MAY 13.-THIS has been a Sunday to be held in long remembrance. We were
summoned early this morning to Mrs. Campbell, and have seen her
joyful release from the fetters that have bound her long. Her loss to
me is irreparable. But I truly thank God that one more tired traveler
had a sweet "welcome home." I can minister no longer to her bodily
wants, and listen to her counsels no more, but she has entered as an
inspiration into my life, and through all eternity I shall bless God
that He gave me that faithful, praying friend. How little they know
who languish in what seems useless sick-rooms, or amid the
restrictions of frail health, what work they do for Christ by the
power of saintly living, and by even fragmentary prayers.
Before her words fade out of my memory I want to write down, from
hasty notes made at the time, her answer to some of the last
questions I asked her on earth. She had always enjoyed intervals of
comparative ease, and it was in one of these that I asked her what
she conceived to be the characteristics of an advanced state of
grace. She replied, "I think that the mature Christian is always, at
all times, and in all circumstances, what he was in his best moments
in the progressive stages of his life. There were seasons, all along
his course, when he loved God supremely; when he embraced the cross
joyfully and penitently; when he held intimate communion with Christ,
and loved his neighbor as himself But he was always in terror, lest
under the force of temptation, all this should give place to deadness
and dullness, when he should chafe and rebel in the hour of trial,
and judge his fellow-man with a harsh and bitter judgment, and give
way to angry, passionate emotions. But these fluctuations cease,
after a time, to disturb his peace. Love to Christ becomes the
abiding, inmost principle of his life; he loves Him rather for what
He is, than for what He has done or will do for him individually, and
God's honor becomes so dear to him that he feels personally wounded
when that is called in question. And the will of God becomes so dear
to him that he loves it best when it 'triumphs at his cost.'
"Once he only prayed at set times and seasons, and idolized good
frames and fervent emotions. N9w he prays without ceasing, and
whether on the mount or down in the depths depends wholly upon His
"His old self-confidence has now given place to child-like humility
that will not let him take a step alone, and the sweet peace that is
now habitual to him combined with the sense of his own imperfections,
fills him with love to. his fellow-man. He hears and believes and
hopes and endures all things and thinketh no evil. The tones of his
voice, the very expression of his countenance, become changed, love
now controlling where human passions held sway. In short, he is not
only a new creature in Jesus Christ, but the habitual and blessed
consciousness that this is so.
These words were spoken deliberately and with reflection.
"You have described my mother, just as she was from the moment her
only son, the last of six, was taken from her," I said, at last. "I
never quite understood how that final sorrow weaned her, so to say,
from herself, and made her life all love to God and all love to man.
But I see it now. Dear Mrs. Campbell, pray for me that I may yet wear
She smiled with a significance that said she had already done so, and
then we parted-parted that she might end her pilgrimage and go to her
rest-parted that I might pursue mine, I know not how long, nor amid
how many cares, and sorrows, nor with what weariness and
heart-sickness-parted to meet again in the presence of Him we love,
with those who have come out of great tribulation, whose robes have
been made white in the blood of the Lamb, and who are before the
throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple, to hunger
no more, neither thirst any more, for the Lamb which is in the midst
of the .throne shall lead them into living fountains of waters; and
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
MAY 25.-We were talking of Mrs. Campbell, and of her blessed life and
blessed death. Helen said it discouraged and troubled her to see and
hear such things.
"The last time I saw her when she was able to converse," said she, "I
told her that when I reflected on my want of submission to God's
will, I doubted whether I really could be His child. She said, in her
gentle, sweet way-:
"Would you venture to resist His will, if you could? Would you really
have your dear James back again in this world, if could?'
"I would, I certainly would," I said.
"She returned, ' I sometimes find it a help, when dull and cramped in
my devotions, to say to myself : Suppose Christ should now appear
before you, and you could see Him as He appeared to His disciples on
earth, what would you say to Him? This brings Him near, and I say
what I would say if He were visibly present. I do the same when a new
sorrow threatens me. I imagine my Redeemer as coming personally to
say to me, "For your sake I am a man of sorrows and acquainted with
grief; now for My sake give me this child, bear this burden, submit
to this loss." Can I refuse Him? Now, dear, he has really come thus
to you, and asked you to show your love to Him, your faith in Him, by
giving Him the most precious of your treasures. If He were here at
this moment, and offered to restore it to you, would you dare to say,
"Yea, Lord, I know, far better than Thou dost, what is good for him
and good for me; I will have him return to me, cost what it may; in
this world of uncertainties and disappointments I shall be sure of
happiness in his society, and he will enjoy more here on earth with
me than he could enjoy in the companionship of saints and angels and
of the Lord Himself in heaven." Could you dare to say this?' Oh,
Katy, what straits she drove me into! No, I could not dare to say
"Then, my darling little sister" I cried, "you will give up--this
struggle? You will let God do what He will with His own?"
"I have to let Him," she replied; "but I submit because I must."
I looked at her gentle, pure face as she uttered these words, and
could only marvel at the will that had no expression there.
"Tell me," she said, "do you think a real Christian can feel as I do?
For my part I doubt it. I doubt everything."
"Doubt everything, but believe in Christ," I said. "Suppose, for
argument's sake, you are not a Christian. You can become one now."
The color rose in her lovely face; she clasped her hands in a sort of
"Yes," she said, "I can."
At last God had sent her the word she wanted.
MAY 28.-Helen came to breakfast this morning in a simple white dress.
I had not time to tell the children not to allude to it, so they
began in chorus:
"Why, Aunt Helen! you have put on a white dress!"
"Why, Aunty, how queer you look!"
"Hurrah! if she don't look like other folks!"
She bore it all with her usual gentleness; or rather with a positive
sweetness that captivated them as her negative patience had never
done. I said nothing to her, nor did she to me till late In the day,
when she came to me, and said:
"Katy, God taught you what to say. All these years I have been
tormenting myself with doubts, as to whether I could be His child
while so unable to say, Thy will be done. If you had said,' 'Why,
yes, you must be His child, for you professed yourself one a long
time ago, and ever since have lived like one,' I should have remained
as wretched as ever As it is, a mountain has been rolled off, my
heart. Yes, if I was not His child yesterday, I can become one
to-day; if I did not love Him then, I can begin now"
I do not doubt that, she was His child, yesterday and last year, and
years ago. But let her think, what she pleases. A new life is opening
before her; I believe it is to be a life of entire devotion to God,
and that out of her sorrow there shall spring up a wondrous joy.
SEPT. 2, Sweet Briar Farm.-Ernest spent Sunday with us, and I have
just driven him to the station and seen him safely off. Things have
prospered with us to such a degree that he has been extravagant
enough to give me the use, for the summer, of a bonnie little nag and
an antiquated vehicle, and I have learned to drive. To be sure I
broke one of the shafts of the poor old thing the first time I
ventured forth alone, and the other day -nearly upset my cargo of
children in a pond where I was silly enough to undertake to water my
horse. But Ernest, as usual, had patience with me and begged me to
spend as much time as possible in driving about with the children. It
is a new experience, and I enjoy it quite as much as he hoped I
should. Helen is not with us; she has spent the whole summer with
Martha; for Martha, poor thing, is suffering terribly from rheumatism
and is almost entirely helpless. I am so sorry for her, after so many
years of vigorous health, how hard it must be to endure this pain.
With this drawback, we have had a delightful summer; not one sick
day; nor one sick night. With no baby to keep me awake, I sleep
straight through, as Raymond says, and wake in the morning refreshed
and cheerful. We shall have to go home soon; how cruel it seems to
bring up children in a great city! Yet what can be done about it?
Wherever there are men and women there must be children; what a
howling wilderness either city or country would be without them!
The only drawback on my felicity is the separation, from Ernest,
which becomes more painful every year to us both. God has blessed our
married life; it has had its waves and its billows, but, thanks unto
Him, it has at last settled down into a calm sea of untroubled peace.
While I was secretly braiding my dear husband for giving so attention
to his profession as to neglect me and my children, he was becoming,
every day, more the ideal of a physician, cool, calm, thoughtful,
studious, ready to sacrifice his life at any moment in the interests
of humanity. How often I have mistaken his preoccupied air for
indifference; how many times I have inwardly accused him of coldness,
when his whole heart and soul were filled with the grave problem of
life, aye, and of death likewise.
But we understand each other now, and I am sure that God dealt wisely
and kindly with us when He brought together two such opposite
natures. No man of my vehement nature could have borne with me as
Ernest has done, and if he had married a woman as calm, as
undemonstrative as himself what a strange home his would have been
for the nurture of little children? But the heart was in him, and
only wanted to be waked up, and my life has called forth music from
his., Ah, there are no partings and meetings now that leave discords
in the remembrance, no neglected birthdays, no forgotten courtesies.
It is beautiful to see the thoughtful brow relax in presence of wife
and children, and to know that ours is, at last, the happy home I so
long sighed for. Is the change all in Ernest? Is it not possible that
I have grown more reasonable, less childish and aggravating?
We are at a farm-house. Everything is plain, but neat and nice. I
asked Mrs. Brown, our hostess; the other day, if she did not envy me
my four little pets; she smiled, said they were the best children she
ever saw, and that it was well to have a family if you have means to
start them in the world; for her part, she lived from, hand to mouth
as it was, and was sure she could never stand the worry and care of a
house full of young ones.
"But the worry and care is only half the story," I said. "The other
half is pure joy and delight."
"Perhaps so, to people that are well-to-do," she replied; "but to
poor folks, driven to death as we are, it's another thing. I was
telling him yesterday what a mercy it was there wasn't any young ones
round under my feet, and I could take city boarders, and help work
off the mortgage on the farm."
"And what did your husband say to that?"
"Well, he said we were young and hearty, and there was no such
tearing hurry about the mortgage and that he'd give his right hand to
have a couple of boys like yours."
"Well?" - "Why, I said, supposing we had a couple, of boys, they
wou1dn't be like yours, dressed to look genteel and to have their
genteel ways but a pair of wild colts, into everything, tearing their
clothes off their backs, and wasting faster than we could earn. He
said 'twasn't the clothes, 'twas the flesh and blood he wanted, and
'twasn't no use to argufy about it; a man that hadn't got any
children wasn't mor'n half a man. 'Well,' says I, supposing you had a
pack of, 'em, what have you got to give 'em?' 'Jest exactly what my
father and mother gave me,' says he; 'two hands to earn their bread
with, and a welcome you could have heard from Dan to Beersheba.'"
"I like to hear that!" I said. "And I hope many such welcomes will
resound in this house. Suppose money does come in while little
goes-out; suppose you get possession of the whole farm; what then?
Who will enjoy it with you? Who will you leave it to when you die?
And in your old age who will care for you?"
"You seem awful earnest," she said.
"Yes, I am in earnest. I want to see little children adorning every
home, as flowers adorn every meadow and every wayside. I want to see
them welcomed to the homes they enter, to see their parents grow less
and less selfish, and more and more loving, because they have come. I
want to see God's precious gifts accepted, not frowned upon and
Mr. Brown came in, so I could say no more. But my heart warmed
towards him, as I looked at his frank good-humored face, and I should
have been glad to give him the right hand of fellowship, As it was I
could only say a word or two about the beauty of his farm, and the
scenery of this whole region.
"Yes," he said, gratified that I appreciated his fields and groves,
"it is a tormented pretty-laying farm. Part of it was her father's,
and part of it was my father's; there ain't another like it in the
country. As to the scenery, I don't know as I ever looked at it; city
folks talk a good deal about it, but they've nothing to do but look
round." Walter came trotting in on two bare, white feet, and with his
shoes in his hand. He had had his nap, felt, as bright; and fresh as
he looked rosy, and I did not wonder at Mr. Brown's catching him up
and clasping his sunburnt arms about the little fellow, and pressing
him against the warm heart that yearned for nestlings of its own.
Sept. 23-Home again, and the full of the thousand cares that follow
the summer and precede the winter. But let mothers and wives fret as
they will, they enjoy these labors of love, and would feel lost
without them. For what amount of leisure, ease and comfort would I
exchange husband and children and this busy home?
Martha is better, and Helen has come back to us. I don't know how we
have lived without her so long. Her life seems necessary to the
completion of every one of ours. Some others have fancied it
necessary to the completion of theirs, but she has not a greed with
them. We are glad enough to keep her; and yet I hope the day will
come when she, so worthy of it, will taste the sweet joys of wifehood
JANUARY 1, 1853.-It is not always so easy to practice, as it is to
preach. I can see in my wisdom forty reasons for having four children
and no more. The comfort of sleeping in peace, of having a little
time to read, and to keep on with my music; strength with which to
look after Ernest's poor people when they are sick; and, to tell the
truth, strength to be bright and fresh and lovable to him--all these
little joys have been growing very precious to me, and now-I must
give them up. I want to do it cheerfully and without a frown. But I
find I love to have my own way, and that at the very moment I was
asking God to appoint my work for me, I was secretly marking it out
for myself. It is mortifying to find my will less in harmony with His
than I thought it was; and that I want to prescribe to Him how I
shall spend the time and the health and the strength which are His,
not mine. But I will not rest until till this struggle is over; till
I can say with a smile, "Not my will! Not my will! But Thine!"
We have been, this winter, one of the happiest families on earth. Our
love to each other, Ernest's and mine, though not perfect-nothing on
earth is-has grown less selfish, more Christlike; it has been
sanctified by prayer and by the sorrows we have borne together. Then
the children have been well and happy, and the source of almost
unmitigated joy and comfort. And Helen's presence in this home, her
sisterly affection, her patience with the children and her influence
over them, is a benediction for which I cannot be thankful enough.
How delightful it is to have a sister! I think it is not often the
case that own sisters have such perfect Christian sympathy with each
other as we have. Ever since the day she ceased to torment herself
with the fear that she was not a child of God, and laid aside the
sombre garments she had worn so long, she has had a peace that has
hardly known a cloud. She says, in a note written me about the time:
I want you to know, my darling sister, that the despondency that made
my affliction so hard to bear fled before those words of yours which,
as I have already told you, God taught you to speak. I do not know
whether I was really His child, at the time, or not. I had certainly
had an experience very different from yours; prayer had never been
much more to me than a duty; and I had never felt the sweetness of
that harmony between God and I the human soul that I now know can
take away all the bitterness from the cup of sorrow. I knew-who can
help knowing it that reads God's word?-that he required submission
from His children and that His children gave it, no matter what it
cost. The Bible is full of beautiful expressions of it; so are our
hymns; so are the written lives of all good men and good women; and I
have seen it in you, my dear Katy, at the very moment you were
accusing yourself of the want of it. Entire oneness of the will with
the Divine Will seem to me to be the law and the gospel of the
Christian life; and this evidence of a renewed nature, I found
wanting in myself. At any moment during the three years following
James' death I would have snatched away from God, if I could; I was
miserably lonely and desolate without him, not merely because he had
been so much, to me, but because his loss revealed to me the distance
between Christ and my soul. All I could do was to go on praying, year
after year, in a dreary, hopeless way, that I might learn to say, as
David did, 'I opened not my mouth because Thou didst it.' When you
suggested that instead of trying to figure out whether I had loved
God, I should begin to love Him now, light broke in upon my soul; I
gave myself to Him that instant and as soon as I could get away by
myself I fell upon my knees and gave myself up to the sense of His
sovereignty for the first time in my life. Then, too, I looked at my
'light affliction,' and at the 'weight of glory ' side by side, and
thanked Him that through the one He had revealed to me the other.
Katy, I know the human heart is deceitful above all things, but I
think it would be a dishonor to God to doubt that He then revealed
Himself to me as He doth not to the world, and that the sweet peace I
then found in yielding to Him will be more or less mine so long as I
live. Oh, if all sufferers could learn what I have learned! that
every broken heart could be healed as mine has been healed! My
precious sister, cannot we make this one part of our mission on
earth, to pray for every sorrow-stricken soul, and whenever we have
influence over such, to lead it to honor God by instant obedience to
His will, whatever that may be? I have dishonored Him by years of
rebellious, carefully-nursed sorrow; I want to honor Him now by years
of resignation and grateful joy."
Reading this letter over in my present mood has done me good. More
beautiful faith in God than Helen's I have never seen; let me have
it, too. May this prayer, which, under the inspiration of the moment,
I can offer without a misgiving, become the habitual, deep-seated
desire of my soul:
"Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. Take
what I cannot give--my heart, body, thoughts, time, abilities, money,
health, strength, nights, days, youth, age, and spend them in Thy
service, O my crucified Master, Redeemer, God. Oh, let these not be
mere words! Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon
earth that I desire in comparison of Thee. My heart is athirst for
God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?"
I HAVE just written to Mrs. Brown to know whether she will take us
for the rest of the summer. A certain little man, not a very old
little man either, has kept us in town till now. Since he has come,
we are all very glad of him, though he came on his own invitation,
brought no wardrobe with him, does not pay for his board, never
speaks a word, takes no notice of us, and wants more waiting on than
any one else in the house. The children are full of delicious
curiosity about him, and overwhelm him with presents of the most
Sweet Briar Farm, AUG. 9.-We got there this afternoon, bag and
baggage. I had not said a word to Mrs. Brown about the addition to
our family circle, knowing she had plenty of room, and as we alighted
from the carriage, I snatched my baby from his nurse's arms and ran
gaily up the walk with him in mine. "If this splendid fellow doesn't
convert her nothing will," I said to myself. At that instant what
should I see but Mrs. Brown, running to meet me with a boy in her
arms exactly like Mr. Brown, only not quite six feet long, and not
"There!" I cried, holding up my little old man.
"There!" said she, holding up hers.
We laughed till we cried; she took my baby and I took hers; after
looking at him I liked mine better than ever; after looking at mine
she was perfectly satisfied with hers.
We got into the house at last; that is to say, we mothers did; the
children darted through it and out of the door that led to the fields
and woods, and vanished in the twinkling of an eye.
Mrs. Brown had always been a pretty woman, with bright eyes, shining,
well-kept hair, and a color in her cheeks like the rose which had
given its name to her farm. But there was now a new beauty in her
face; the mysterious and sacred sufferings and joys of maternity had
given it thought and feeling.
"I had no idea I should be so fond of a baby," she said, kissing it,
whenever she stopped to put in a comma; "but I don't know how I ever
got along without one. He's off at work nearly the whole day, and
when I had got through with mine, and had put on my afternoon dress,
and was ready to sit down, you can't think how lonesome it was. But
now by the time I am dressed, baby is ready to go out to get the air;
he knows the minute he sees me bring out his little hat that he is
going to see his father and he's awful fond of his father. Though
that isn't so strange, either, for his father's awful fond of him.
All his little ways are so pretty, and he never cries unless he's
hungry or tired. Tell mother a pretty story now; yes, mother hears,
bless his little heart!"
Then when Mr. Brown came home to his supper, his face was a sight to
see, as he caught sight of me at my open window, and came to it with
the child's white arms clinging to his neck, looking as happy and as
bashful as a girl.
"You see she must needs go to quartering this bouncing young one on
to me," he said, "as if I didn't have to work hard enough before.
Well, maybe he'll get his feed off the farm; we'll see what we can
"Mamma," Una whispered, as he went off his facsimile, to kiss it
rapturously, behind a woodpile, "do you think Mrs. Brown's baby very
Which was so mild a way of suggesting the fact of the case, that I
kissed her without trying to hide my amusement.
AUG. 10.-After being cooped up in town so large a part of the summer,
the children are nearly wild with delight at being in the country
once more. Even our demure Una skips about with a buoyancy I have
never seen in her; she never has her ill turns when out of the city,
and I wish, for her sake, we could always live here. As to Raymond
and Walter, I never pretend to see them except at their meals and
their bedtime; they just live outdoors, following the men at their
work, asking all sorts of absurd questions, which Mr. Brown reports
to me every night, with shouts of delighted laughter. Two gay and
gladsome boys they are; really good without being priggish; I don't
think I could stand that. People ask me how it happens that my
children are all so promptly obedient and so happy. As if it chanced
that some parents have such children, or chanced that some have not!
I am afraid it is only too true, as some one has remarked, that "this
is the age of obedient parents!"' What then will be the future of
their children? How can they yield to God who have never been taught
to yield to human authority? And how well fitted will they be to rule
their own households who have never learned to rule themselves?
AUG. 31.-This has been one of those cold, dismal, rainy days which
are not infrequent during the month of August. So the children have
been obliged to give up the open air, of which. they are so fond, and
fall back upon what entertainment could be found within the house. I
have read to them the little journal I kept during the whole life of
the brother I am not willing they should forget. His quaint and
sagacious sayings were delicious to them; the history of his first
steps, his first words sounded to them like a fairy tale. And the
story of his last steps, his last words on earth, had for them such a
tender charm, that there was a cry of disappointment from them all,
when I closed the little book and told them we should have to wait
till we got to heaven before we could know anything more about his
How thankful I am that I kept this journal, and that I have almost as
charming ones about most of my other children! What I speedily forgot
amid the pressure of cares and of new events is safely written down,
and. will be the source of endless pleasure to them long after the
hand that wrote has ceased from its .labors, and lies inactive and at
Ah, it is a blessed thing to be a mother!
SEPTEMBER 1-This baby of mine, is certainly the sweetest and best I
ever had I feel an inexpressible tenderness for it, which I cannot
quite explain to myself, for I have loved them all dearly, most
dearly. Perhaps it is so with all mothers, perhaps they all grow
more loving, more forbearing, more patient as they grow older, and
yearn over these helpless little ones with an ever-increasing, yet
chastened delight. One cannot help sheltering their tender infancy,
who will so soon pass forth to fight the battle of life, each one
waging an invisible warfare against invisible foes. How thankfully we
would fight it for them, if we might!
SEPTEMBER 20.-. The mornings and evenings are very cool now, while in
the middle of the day it is quite hot. Ernest comes to see us very
often, under the pretense that he can't trust me with so young a baby
! He is so tender and thoughtful, and spoils me so, that this world
is very bright to me; I am a little jealous of it; I don't want to be
so happy in Ernest, or in my children, as to forget for one instant
that I am a pilgrim and a stranger on earth.
EVENING.-There is no danger that I shall. Ernest suddenly made his
appearance tonight, and in a great burst of distress quite unlike
anything I ever saw in him, revealed to me that he had been feeling
the greatest anxiety about me ever since the baby came. It is all
nonsense. I cough, to be sure; but that it is owing to the varying
temperature we always have at this season. I shall get over, it as
soon as we get home, I dare say.
But suppose I should not; what then? Could I leave this precious
little flock, uncared for, untended? Have I faith to believe that if
God calls me away from them, it will be in love to them? I do not
know. The thought of getting away from the sin that still so easily
besets me is very delightful, and I have enjoyed so many, many such
foretastes of the bliss of heaven that I know I should be happy
there, but then my children, all of them under twelve years old! I
will not choose, I dare not.
My married life has been a beautiful one. It is true that sin and
folly, and sickness and sorrow, have marred its perfection, but it
has been adorned by a love which has never faltered. My faults have
never alienated Ernest.; his faults, for like other human beings he
has them, have never overcome my love to him. This has been the gift
of God in answer to our constant prayer, that .whatever other
bereavement we might have to suffer, we might never be bereft of this
benediction. It has been the glad secret of' a happy marriage, and I
wish I could teach it to every human being who enters upon a state
that must bring with it the depth of misery, or life's most sacred
and mysterious joy.
OCTOBER 6.- Ernest has let me stay here to see the autumnal foliage
in its ravishing beauty for the first, perhaps for the last, time.
The woods and fields and groves are lighting up my very soul! It
seems as if autumn had caught the inspiration and the glow of summer,
had hidden its floral beauty, its gorgeous sunsets and its bow of.
promise in its heart of hearts, and was now flashing it forth upon
'the world with a lavish and opulent hand. I can hardly tear myself
away, and return to the prose of city life. But Ernest has come for
us, and is eager to get us home before colder weather. I laugh at his
anxiety about his old wife. Why need he fancy that this trifling
cough is not to give way as it often has done before? Dear Ernest! I
never knew that he loved me so.
OCTOBER 31.-Ernest's fear that he had let me stay too long in the
country does not seem to be justified. We went so late that I wanted
to indulge the children by staying late. So we have only just got
home. I feel about as well as usual; it is true I have a little
soreness a bout the chest, but it does not signify anything.
I never was so happy, in my husband and children, in other words in
my home, as I am now. Life looks very attractive. I am glad that I am
going to get well.
But Ernest watches me carefully, and want me, as a precautionary
measure, to give up music, writing, sewing, and painting-the very
things that occupy me! and lead an idle, useless life, for a time. I
cannot refuse what he asks so tenderly, and as a personal favor to
himself. Yet I should like to fill the remaining pages of my journal;
I never like to leave things incomplete.
JUNE 1, 1858.-I wrote that seven years ago, little dreaming how long
it, would be before I should use a pen. Seven happy years ago!
I suppose that some who have known what my outward life has been
during' this period would think of me as a mere object of pity. There
has certainly been suffering and deprivation enough to justify the
sympathy of my dear husband and children and the large circle of
friends who have rallied about us. How little we knew we had so many!
God has dealt very tenderly with me. I was not stricken down by
sudden disease, nor were the things I delighted in all taken away at
once There was a gradual loss of strength and gradual increase of
suffering, and it was only by degrees that I was asked to give up the
employments in which I'd delighted, my household duties, my visits to
the sick and suffering, the society of beloved friends. Perhaps
Ernest perceived and felt my deprivations sooner than I did; his
sympathy always seemed to out-run my disappointments. When I compare
him, as he is now, with what he was when I first knew him I bless God
for all the precious lessons He has taught him at my cost. There, is
a tenacity and persistence about his love for me that has made these
years almost as wearisome to him as they have been to me. As to
myself, if I had been told what I was to learn through these
protracted sufferings I am afraid I should have shrunk back in terror
and so have lost all the sweet lessons God proposed to teach me. As
it is He has led me on, step by step, answering my prayers in His own
way; and I cannot bear to have a single human being doubt that it has
been a perfect way. I love and adore it just as it is.
Perhaps the suspense has been one of the most trying features of my
case. Just as I have unclasped my hand from my dear Ernest's; just
as I have let go my almost frantic hold of my darling children; just
as heaven opened before me and I fancied my weariness over and my
wanderings done; just then almost every alarming symptom would
disappear and life recall me from the threshold of heaven itself.
Thus I have been emptied from vessel to vessel, til I have learned
that he only is truly happy who has no longer a choice of his own,
and lies passive in God's hand.
Even now no one can foretell the issue of this sickness. We live a
day at a time not knowing what shall be on the morrow. But whether I
live or die my happiness is secure and so I believe is of my beloved
ones. This is a true picture of our home:
A sick-room full of the suffering ravages the body but cannot touch
the soul. A worn, wasting mother ministered unto by a devoted husband
and by unselfish Christian children. Some of the peace of God if not