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Withered Leaves from Memory's Garland
By Abigail Stanley Hanna.
"There comes a voice that awakes my soul;
It is the voice of years that are gone,--
They roll before me with all their deeds."
These pages were not written for public inspection; but to beguile the
weary hours of indisposition, and present a record of thoughts and
sentiments to the eyes of my children, after my lips are sealed in
By the recommendation of friends, I have decided to submit them to the
From a criticising public I should shrink; but to a sympathizing
public I would appeal, trusting the holy mantle of charity will be
flung over my errors, and my motives appreciated.
I would take this opportunity to tender my hearty and sincere thanks
to my patrons, who have aided me in this enterprise, not only by their
subscriptions, but by their words of sympathy and encouragement, which
have fallen like sunshine upon my gloomy pathway, warming my desolate
heart, and leaving a sweet fragrance upon the memory, which shall live
on and on, through the long ages of eternity; for beautifully and
emphatically has Mrs. Childs said,
"Goodness and beauty live forever,"
Perhaps I should apologise for the pensive strain in which I have
written, but it has been in shady places, when the body was suffering
from disease, and I felt almost too weak to breathe. Dear reader, did
you ever feel that you were dying? that there was but a step between
you and death? How natural, at such a time, and in such a place, to
contemplate the circumstances connected with the deaths of dear,
Hoping this may lead some thoughtless one to reflection, I submit it
to the investigation of a generous public.
But if I fail in this, shall I have written in vain? O, no; it is but
a fulfilment in part of the great mission, "do with all thy might
what thy hand findeth to do." If we have but one small talent we are
commanded to put it upon usury, "that the Lord may receive his own
when he cometh."
Some pieces were contributions from the pen of a loved sister, whose
sentiments and principles are in unison with my own, and so they flow
on together, in one common channel. Those designated by a star (*) in
the Index, are from her pen.
On page 141, near the bottom, the paragraph which now reads, "You did
not expect me to be found alone now, did you?" should read, "You did
not expect to find me _alive_ now," &c.
On page 272, in the 11th line from the top, in the word "rugg'd," the
letter _e_ should be substituted for the apostrophe.
These errors escaped attention in reading the proof, before it went to
When autumn winds are round us sighing,--
When pale flowers are 'round us dying,
It pain and pleasure to us gives,
To gather up the wither'd leaves.
The year so tasteful flung her flow'rs
In garlands gay, o'er sylvan bow'rs;
But where they hung:--so brief--
Now only hangs the wither'd leaf.
Dear reader, thus to thee I come,
With tresses blossom'd for the tomb;
And offer what the season gives,--
My faded flow'rs--my WITHERED LEAVES.
A. S. H.
Shadows of the Past
Reminiscences; The Old Homestead
The Old House
The Old School House
The Grave Yard
Midnight Scenes, or, Pictures of Human Life
Picture No. 2
Picture No. 3
Picture No. 4
The History of a Household
Lines written during convalescence from Brain Fever
The Angel Cousin
Lines written at the close of the year 1842
Lines written on the New Year 1843
The Unhappy Marriage
On the year 1852
To Mrs. A.B.
An Evening in our Village
Contemplations in a Grave Yard
A Scene on the Kennebec River
To Miss H. B----
Lines written in an Album
A Long Night in the Eighteenth Century
On Hearing a Bird Sing, Dec. 19, 1826
On the Death of Ellen A. B----
The Order of Nature
Dedication of an Album
To Mrs. S. on the Death of her infant
To Mrs. S. on the Death of her Son
The first and last Voyage of the Atlantic
The Fatal Feast
To the Maiden
To Mrs. B. on the Death of her Son
O Come Back, my Brother
On the Frailty of Earthly Things
To a Friend
The Mother and her Child
A Mother's Prayer
Lines in an Album
On the Death of a Mother
The Music of Earth
On the Death of Mrs. C.P. Baldwin
Lines written in a Sick Room, April 15th, 1855
Lines written in a Sick Room, July 20th, 1855
To a Friend
The Mother's Watch
Why should I Smile *
The Youth's Return *
To A---- *
The Beauties of Nature *
On the Death of Willie T. White *
The Human Heart *
On the Death of a Friend *
To a Friend *
A Picture of Human Life
The Old Castle *
The Myrtle *
The Home of Childhood *
The Happy Land *
To a Friend *
Lines written upon the Death of Two Sisters
Lines for a Friend upon the 20th Anniversary of her
Lines written upon the Departure of a Brother
Lines on the Death of a Friend
The Power of Custom
We all do Perish like the Leaf
Life Compared to the Seasons
Lines written in Answer to the Question "Where is
My Husband's Grave
Lines written upon the Young who have recently died
in our Village
Lines written in an Album
Lines from the pen of my Husband, who is Deceased
Visit to Mount Auburn
Lines from Mary to her Father in California, with her
Letter of Resignation from Mrs. Hanna to the Maternal
Improvement of Time
Lines written on the Death of Frank
The Pleasures of Memory
The Song of the Weary One
Lines inscribed to a Brother
Lines to Mrs. S---- on the Death of an Infant
The Spirits of the Dead
To Mrs. J.C. Bucklin, by her Father
The Widow's Home
To the Reader
Shadows of the Past
Sister, the solemn midnight hour
Is meet, to weave the web of thought,
To trace the shadowy imagery,
From fancy's secret chambers brought.
To enter Memory's hidden cell,
And bid the sentinel appear;
Her strange, mysterious tales to tell,
And wipe the dust from by-gone years.
To wander back down time's dark stream,
And from its margin pluck the flowers,
To twine them with the moon's pale beams,
Then fling them over Memory's bow'rs.
To gather all the fragments up,
The phantoms chase of other years;
Their blighted joys, their withered hopes,
Their clouds, their sunshine, and their tears.
We'll wander forth while others sleep,
Fanned gently by the night wind's sigh
And thus our midnight vigils keep,
While night's fair lamps burn bright on high.
We'll wander in the realms of thought,
That boundless space, who may define?
From which more dazzling gems are brought
Than sparkle in Golconda's mine.
Then, sister, let us linger not,
The conscious moon her lamp holds high,
And with her smiling, placid face,
Beams from the chambers of the sky.
Touched by fancy's magic spell,
We'll conjure up the things of yore;
From their cold chambers bring the dead,
And friends of former years restore.
But oh, the shadows will not stay,--
The dreamy shadows of the past;
Before the sun they'll fade away--
Their mystic visions cannot last.
Then let us leave the world of dreams
Where shapes and shadows melt away;
Bathe in salvation's cooling streams,
And soar to realms of endless day.
The Old Homestead.
Come gentle reader, let us entwine arms with Memory, and wander back
through the avenues of life to childhood's sunny dell, and as we
return more leisurely pluck the wild flowers that grow beside the
pathway, and entwine them for Memory's garland, and inhale the
fragrance of by-gone years. O, there are rich treasures garnered up
in Memory's secret chambers, enclosed in the recesses of the soul, to
spring into life at the touch of her magic wand. Here let us sit on
this mossy stone, beneath this wide spread elm, and as its waving
branches fan our feverish cheeks, fold back the dim, misty curtains of
the past, the silent past, and hold communings with the years that are
gone. Listen to the murmur of yonder rippling stream, that breaks like
far off music upon the ear, and although half a century of years
have passed since I first stood upon its margin, and listened to its
dirge-like hum, no trace of age is left upon it. The silent years that
have swept over its surface, bearing away the generations of men, have
left this stream sporting and dancing on in all the freshness of youth
Here is the grassy knoll where we have stood tiptoe and reached our
tiny hands a little higher to catch the gorgeous butterfly that
floated through summer air on silken wings, and then clapped them with
joyous glee at our own disappointment, as it sailed higher up into the
Then came the song of the warbling bird, the hum of the mountain bee,
and the rustling of the leaves as they were stirred by the gentle
summer breeze,--all making sweet melody in Nature's many voiced
Here we have sat for hours, wrapt in dreamy reverie, wondering why the
long, fleecy clouds that chased each other over the sun, should cast
such deep, broad shadows over so fair a landscape; little heeding that
they were emblematical of the shadows that coming years would cast
upon our pathway as we passed on in the journey of human life; but
oh, how often has the sun of hope been dimmed by the shadows of
But let us leave this sequestered spot and wander over other scenes
familiar to childhood's years.
Beneath yon large reservoir of water that flashes in the sun beams as
the summer winds heave its troubled bosom, formerly stretched out an
extensive meadow, where we used to stroll for amusement; or to gather
the rich, ripe strawberries that lay concealed beneath the thick,
tall grass that sighed before the breeze like the bosom of the ocean,
fanned by the winds of heaven. Here, too, we gathered sweet blue
violets, yellow buttercups, Ladies' traces and London pride, with all
the beautiful variety of simple meadow flowers, and entwined them into
pretty wreaths, or fragrant boquets. But the touch of time has rested
upon this spot, and his finger has left a deep impress upon it. The
sloping hills that surround it remain the same. The trees bear some
traces of decay, but here stand the thorn bushes that used to scatter
their showers of white blossoms around us like descending snow-flakes,
still filled with green leaves and small red apples, surrounded by the
prickly thorns that to all appearances are the same that we grasped
fifty years ago.
The sand-hills where the juvenile part of the neighborhood used to
congregate to celebrate the happy twilight hour in merry sports, have
literally passed away; having been shovelled up and transported to
the various places for many miles around, where the multiplicity of
chimnies mark the increasing population of the village, that passing
years have added to it.
As we pass the antiquated moss-covered bars that admit us into the
dear old orchard, and cross the little brook that bubbles on forever
in the same monotonous sound, requiring but one smooth round stepping
stone for a bridge, we sigh and feel that the change of years is upon
us, for here almost every thing speaks of decay. True the hills, the
ponds, the rocks (and I had almost said the speckled tortoise that has
crawled up to sun itself on their summit), remain the same.
Sit down on this dilapidated trunk, for the burden of years is upon
us; and as I glance upon this frame, I can scarcely realize it is the
same form that used to impress this spot with childish footprints.
This trunk was then a beautiful, stately tree, bearing its leafy
honors thick upon it, and laden with delicious golden fruit. But the
glory of the orchard has departed, and why should we linger any longer
in its confines, as it only awakens sad memories, and says in an
"Chance and change are busy ever."
The carriage road that passes through it, almost blinding us with
dust, was formerly a well beaten foot-path for the accommodation of
the neighborhood as they walked from one part of it to the other.
Let us follow the road up this steep aclivity, and enter the large
capacious door-yard which contained several rods of land, and was
surrounded by an old fashioned stone wall, which has been beaten by at
least seventy-five winters' storms; and the thick covering of green
moss upon it bespeaks its age.
The west end was crossed by a fence containing a small strip of land
for the purpose of raising early summer vegetables. Here now is
erected the splendid dwelling house of one of the wealthiest citizens
of the village, and the garden is converted into front yard, building
spot and back yard, containing all the usual necessary appendages to
a dwelling place, so that here all traces of former days have passed
from the spot, and only live inscribed upon the retentive tablet of
Memory. On the east end was another small enclosure where we used to
spend our leisure hours in the cultivation of flowers and medicinal
plants. Here the tall lilac waved its graceful head beneath our
bed-room window, and the morning sun, as he parted the rosy curtains
of the eastern sky and came forth rejoicing to run his glad race, and
pour a flood of golden light upon the earth, shot his first crimson
rays upon the thick curtains of morning glories that hung clustering
over our window, fragrant with their verdant leaves, and rich purple
blossoms, and causing the dew-drops to glisten like sparkling
diamonds, while the sweet odors of many scented flowers were borne
upon every passing breeze. But could we now recognize this spot? oh
no! the destroyer has been there, and there remains no trace of herb
or flower; an ell has been built on to that end of the house, and the
barn has been moved, so that our beautiful garden has been transformed
into a door yard, and all traces of beauty are obliterated. Crossing
the garden you next entered upon a large level lot covered with the
richest grass that annually used to fall before the sythe of the
mower, and descended by sloping hills to the above mentioned luxuriant
meadow; through which ran a quiet winding stream that used to afford
us an abundance of speckled trout and shining pickerel, to say nothing
about the many play hours spent upon its margin; but now the stream
is lost beneath the vast reservoir, and has washed away all traces
of flowers, strawberries and verdant grass that used to mark its
serpentine wanderings, by assuming a deeper green.
The west end of this enclosure was intersected by what used to be
called Virginia fence, then crossed into two separate places dividing
one into a sheep-pasture, the other into a large garden for the
cultivation of winter vegetables. In the pasture used to graze a large
flock of sheep, and the snowy lambs sported over the rocks and ran
down the hillside; does this remain the same?
The rocks have been removed out of their places, and in their stead
dwelling houses have been erected, and the busy hum of active life
there resounds, and the prattling of children is heard instead of the
bleating of lambs.
Crossing the stream upon the remains of an old dam, and passing the
extent of meadow, we entered upon a rich clover field, adjoining which
was the corn field, that in autumn used to be laden with yellow
corn and golden pumpkins. Contiguous to this was a delightful grove
composed of thrifty walnut trees, carefully cleared from under brush
and covered with verdant grass, and ornamented here and there with a
grassy hillock, that rendered it a pleasant retreat from the scorching
rays of the summer sun. The air was filled with the notes of the
feathered songsters that built their nests and warbled in their
branches, mingling their music with the rustling leaves and the murmur
of the distant spring that rippled near, for a gradual descent brought
us down to the spring lot, which, with the grove and the swamp that
lay below, was used for pasturage. But let us pause and take a survey
of its present appearances. The beautiful trees have all fallen
before the woodman's axe, not one remaining as a link with their past
history; the old fence has been removed that divided it from the
cornfield, and surrounded by a new and beautiful one, it now forms a
part of a commodious Cemetery, is laid out into tasteful lots as the
last resting place of the dead.
Sweet spot; methinks it is meet for the weary children of earth to
slumber in this quiet place.
At its foot gurgles the quiet winding stream, and far away comes
the din and hum of active life, thronged with the busy crowd whose
restless feet are bearing them swiftly on to the end of life's
journey, where they must resign the cumbrous load and "join the pale
caravan in the realms of shade."
Descending from the grove on the western side, was a low, swampy piece
of ground, that had never yielded to cultivation, where we sometimes
used to jump from one hillock to another in search of swamp pinks and
cheeses which were to be found there in great abundance.
It was ever covered with low brush, of natural growth, and apparently
no change had passed over it from its creation, save the natural
springing up and decaying of its productions. And so, almost fifty
years ago, we left it, but how does it meet us upon our return? Art
has touched it with her handy work. It has been drained; the brush cut
from its surface, rich loam carted upon it, and now it presents the
appearance of a well cultivated garden, is covered with luxuriant
grass, and staked out into yards for the accommodation of families who
wish to lie down side by side, in the sleep of death. Many, already,
are beautified with flowers and shrubbery; and in some, already arises
the marble slab, pointing to the place where some weary pilgrim
reposes, free from all the earth calls good or great; for this, too,
is enclosed in the Cemetery.
But passing the entrance into the Cemetery, we will pass back by a
circuitous route, to the dear old home. The road, the hills, the
rocks, the trees, and many of the buildings are the same; but, oh, how
many and varied are the changes that strike the eye, and awaken in
the breast ten thousand bewildering remembrances. Truly has the human
heart been compared to a many stringed instrument, giving diversity of
sound as it is swept by different winds.
One of the most conspicuous changes, is the withdrawal of a large pond
of water that had been pent up by a high dam, over which the water
fell, over the bridge we are now crossing, roaring, casting up spray,
and then foaming and dancing off, into the meadow below.
Many of the buildings have changed their old fashioned coats of red
for the more modern one of white, which is the case with our own old
homestead. Opposite the house, or across the way, as we used to call
it (for the road was between), stood, what was ever called, the woods.
Here, in their season, we gathered the largest whortleberries, the
best walnuts, and the nicest black birch that were to be found all
the country round. And when we had wearied our limbs, and filled our
baskets, how often have we pulled over the tops of the smaller trees,
and seating ourselves upon some slender branch, enjoyed a real
juvenile ride upon horseback, each one having a particular tree
designated by the name of a horse.
Immediately opposite the house, stood a high hill, composed of jagged
rocks, behind which the sun ever sank to his cosy bed in the west, and
where I have watched the forked lightning play as the blackened cloud
gathered together, ominous of a portending storm, while the distant
thunder murmured behind their eternal summit. This stands the same,
and as you glance down the other side, you see the broad, black
river, still rolling at its base. But the woods--the bright green
woods--where are they? Echo answers, "where?" Supplanting the place
is a young thrifty orchard, and at the base of the hill is a finely
cultivated piece of land, and there is nothing but the everlasting
hills to tell us of the dear spot where we wandered in the halcyon
days of childhood; we cannot even exclaim with Cowper--
"I sat on the trees under which I had played."
Dear old trees! methinks, even now, I can hear your music, when fanned
by the summer breeze, or see you toss your surging branches, when
rocked by the autumnal gale. Well do I remember your cooling shade as
I walked beneath it to the district school house, which was situated
in one corner of the dear old orchard. There, too, has been a change;
the rocks upon which we used to play have been blown to atoms, and the
habitations of men occupy their places. Truly, all things are passing
The Old House.
We have crossed the threshold and entered the dear old house. Back,
back, these tumultuous throbbings of the heart, and these tears which
vainly rising to the eyelids, fall back upon the heart as wanting
power to flow. Who, after an absence of many years, on entering the
house where they first inhaled the breath of life, but has been
overpowered by conflicting emotions, as the tide of Memory rolled
in, like a flood, bearing so much upon its bosom, and where so many
associations crowd upon the mind, it is difficult to lend expression
to the ideas.
The interior of the house has not been materially changed, except
the additional ell, which contains a kitchen, pantry, and such like
conveniences for progressing household labor; the kitchen being
transformed into a sitting room, with no change, excepting a new coat
of paint, large windows instead of small, paper instead of bare walls,
and a place for a stove pipe instead of the ample fire place, that
used to shed its cheering light and warmth over the whole room. And
we might almost fancy ourselves at home, were it not that the eyes of
strangers are upon us, and we miss the dear familiar faces that first
taught the infant heart to love.
Here, have we clustered around the knees of a mother and drank rich
instruction from her pious lips, and offered up the morning and the
evening prayer, and lisped our hymn of praise, while she ever strove
to impress the golden rule upon the young and tender minds committed
to her care; and her example was ever that of a consistent Christian.
How vividly comes up before the eye of Memory, the forms of the aged
members of the family; for there were an uncle and two aunts of my
father who were never married, that took him at the early age of two
years, educated him and gave him the homestead for his patrimony; and
at the time of my birth the snow of many winters rested upon their
heads, and the infirmities of age were upon them.
It was their delight to watch our childish sports, listen to our
innocent prattle, and strive to direct our young footsteps in the
paths of virtue. They have passed away like the shadows of a passing
cloud. Almost my first recollections of death are associated with that
of the aged man. He had been sick about four days when we were called
to stand by his bedside and witness his departure. He smiled upon the
dear little brother, mother held in her arms, shook him by the hand,
gave us all a parting glance; the film of death then gathered upon his
eyes, a convulsive shudder ran over his frame, and a deathly paleness
rested upon his countenance, filling our young hearts with wonder and
dismay. As we felt the marble coldness of his stiffened limbs, and saw
him borne away to the silent grave, we learned the first lesson from
the pale messenger, and felt the awful void that his presence creates
in the family circle, and which we have since been called so often to
experience. He died in the very room where we first opened our eyes
upon the light.
It is a large gloomy looking room. The two windows looking out upon
the north, and a door opening out upon the level field, covered with
its carpet of green, intersected by neither shrub nor trees. The
coating of paint is changed, and the walls neatly papered, which is
the only change it has undergone.
Adjacent to this is the east bedroom, one window looking out upon the
north, and one upon the little garden at the east end of the house.
This room, for many years, was our lodging room, where we sought--
"Tired nature's sweet restorer balmy sleep,"
and lost ourselves in the world of dreams. Many, very many, were the
waking dreams that filled the imagination as the map of life lay
spread out before fancy's witching gaze, and hope illuminated it with
her brilliant rainbow dyes. No waves of passion or disappointment
moved its surface. But, oh, how different has been the reality!
Crossing the small entry opposite the kitchen is a large room,
formerly occupied by the old people. The same change is visible in
this as in the other rooms. Here, day after day, sat our aged aunt,
reading the word of God or her favorite hymns, and seeking preparation
for death (for she was fourscore and ten years old), and had been a
member of the church of Christ from her nineteenth year, spending a
long life to his honor and glory. It was the winter of the year, but
a mild day, when on returning from school we were summoned to her
bedside. The feeble lamp of life was flickering in the socket, and the
pulses of the aged woman stood still. Her spirit passed quietly from
earth, to enter into the presence of God who gave it. She fell like a
shock of corn fully ripe, at the age of ninety-four years. There was
no struggle; wearied nature resigned her burden without resistance,
and the countenance was pleasant in death. She was borne to the
graveyard and laid by the side of her dear brother, and thus they
were again united in the place of graves; and again there were vacant
places in our family circle, for many had been the attentions we were
obliged to bestow upon our aged relative, for she had been unable to
walk for several years.
In this apartment two windows opened to the south, and one at the west
end of the house, looking out upon the woods; on the north side three
doors opened, one into a bedroom with one west window, one into a
pantry or dairy room, where stood long rows of pans of milk covered
with golden cream, and tempting cheeses arrayed, the shelves. Here
there is slight alteration, excepting the shelves and ceiling have
changed their snowy whiteness for a coating of blue paint, and instead
of a dairy room, it is converted into a common pantry. The other door
led into the winter cellar, where we used to go for the nice apples,
which formed the usual accompaniment of a winter evening. Oh, those
pleasant evenings! what heeded we that the wintry storm raged without?
Our evening meal was always dispatched, and the household duties all
performed before the evening shadows fell around us. The fire burned
brightly upon the clean swept hearth, shedding a cheerful glow over
the room, while warming by its blaze stood a large dish of red and
golden apples, temptingly arranged. Before the fire stood a small
round table, round which the younger members of the family were
seated, braiding straw, while some one read aloud from some useful or
entertaining book; or we pursued our favorite studies, and prepared
the school lesson for the coming day (for we could braid and study at
the same time).
How profitable and how pleasant were those evenings! As I look back
upon them, through the long lapse of years that have passed away, and
recall each familiar' face and tone, I feel that those hours were
among the happiest of my life. Many of those dear forms have passed
away from earth forever. The dear mother, who presided over us with so
much affection, mingling in our pleasures and soothing our pains, has
finished her course upon earth and gone to her reward; but may the
good seed sown in the hearts of her children spring up and bear fruit
to eternal life. Although her lips are now silent in death, she still
speaks to us, she still lives embalmed in the hearts of her children.
Two dear brothers that enlivened those cheerful evenings, by acting
their part in the drama of life, have passed away, to
"That bourne from which no traveller e'er returns,"
and their voices are heard no more upon earth.
But, usually, ere the family clock that ticked in the corner of the
room struck nine, all had retired to rest and all was silent, save the
ticking of the clock or the howling of the wintry storm.
Deaths in our neighborhood were not of very common occurrence, and
used to fill our young hearts with dismay; and for many long weeks I
used to count the number of nights the new occupant of a grave had
slept in it, and shudder as I thought of all the gloom, the darkness
and the silence of the narrow house; and felt sad when I reflected
that all men must die. Faith then had not lifted her trusting eye
beyond the portals of the tomb, or illuminated its confines by the
glorious light of the gospel. And when in the winter of 1816 a fatal
fever raged, and the angel of death flapped his broad wings over our
little village, and one after another was cut suddenly down by his
stealthy darts, we could hardly realize that it was directed by the
hand of a merciful God, and, collected together in a little group,
wondered, in our childish innocence, "who would go next?"
Here, upon this door-step, have we sat for hours, in all suitable
seasons of the year, looking out upon the prospect, and contemplating
the changing seasons, or the alternate sun and shade that rested upon
the face of nature. Often have we wandered forth, while the dew was
yet upon the grass, to gather a basket of the large red cheeked
peaches that had fallen from the trees during the night. Near by stood
a noble pear tree, laden with rich orange pears, covering the ground
beneath with its golden treasures, while a contiguous apple tree
mingled its store of bright red apples in rich profusion. O, it was a
delicious blending of autumn's garnered store, showered upon the lap
of Mother Nature, spread out temptingly to the eyes of her weary
children. But the trees have departed with the "dark brown years,"
that have flung their dim shadows over them--nor root, nor branch
A few years passed, and by one of the unforeseen changes that occur in
the lives of business men, we were obliged to relinquish our childhood
home, and go forth to try the rougher usage of the world in a land of
strangers. Sad were the feelings that filled our young hearts, as we
went forth from the dear place, with which was associated all the
earliest recollections of life, and the endearing ideas of home. The
evening before our departure, we ascended the top of the highest
hill that over-looked our little villa, accompanied by our young
schoolmates, to watch the declining rays of the setting sun, and
promised eternal friendship to each other. It was Sabbath day--a calm,
delightful Sabbath day--that was now closing upon us; and as the sun
finished his journey across the horizon, and sank behind the far-off
western hills, methinks the sacred tranquility that reigned around
seemed to be whispering to the troubled spirit, "Peace, be still." But
could we, with our youthful hearts weighed down by this great grief,
could we heed the gentle whispers? surely not; and we felt that like
our first parents, we were about to be driven from Paradise. We sat
conversing upon the past, and forming plans for the future,
"Till twilight grey had in her sober livery all things clad."
Descending the hill we sought our homes, and early the following
morning found us pursuing our way to a land of strangers, leaving
behind us home, friends, and the burying place of our fathers, which
we had ever looked upon as our last resting place.
While the waves of time have borne year after year away, each one
replete with change, we have been tossing upon the stream till we
again stand in the same place from which we then departed, and while
the grief of that hour is fresh in the memory, we will again turn
sadly away from the spot teeming with so many remembrances, and where
were instilled the first principles of virtue and religion. O, may
these remain and grow "brighter and brighter unto the perfect day,"
while all mutable things decay. Dear old house, farewell; these
eyes may never again behold you; these feet never again cross your
threshold; but while reason remains, the memory of these haunts will
be tenderly cherished. And so we pass again from the spot with an
aching heart, and leave it to the possession of strangers.
The Old School House.
But while we yet linger on this sacred spot, will enter into the
school house where our young footsteps first attempted to climb the
hill of Science. The outward appearance is the same. A pretty one
story and a half building, painted yellow with white trimmings, and a
chocolate colored door, which is reached by two stone steps.
You are then admitted into a large hall, accommodated with shelves for
the convenience of the scholars, and as we pass through this and enter
the school-room, we feel almost a child again. But we see at a glance
that our dear old teacher does not occupy the desk, and it is a
stranger's voice that strikes upon the ear. As we glance at the
well-filled seats, we readily perceive there is not one of all the
group, no, not one, that occupied those seats when we were scholars
there. But we will sit calmly down upon the teacher's desk and recall
the dim shadowy forms of the past, the by-gone past. The breeze that
passes through the open window and fans the brow, might be mistaken
for the same playful zephyr that sported with our own silken locks in
childhood, as we stood before this same open window. The monotonous
hum of the school-room seems the same and the drowsy buzz of the
summer fly as it floats on azure wings brings to the ear a well
remembered sound, and we press our hand tightly upon our eyes and try
to think we are living over again years that are passed. It will not
do, there is a change--we must acknowledge that change. The teacher
who so long presided in this place, was a stern man, of commanding
figure, with a high, broad forehead and piercing black eyes, coal
black hair and beard, with rather a handsome countenance, although
nothing could ever provoke a smile upon it in school hours, and he
governed his pupils more by fear than love. But the lesson must be
perfectly committed and correctly recited, or the offending culprit
must fall under his severe displeasure, and this was a situation that
few in the school were willing to be placed in. I have heard of this
man's death, but in what manner or where I know not; but many are
the lessons I have heard fall from his lips which still live in my
heart--have had their impress upon the life, and will continue to
exist through the boundless ages of eternity. And now that the
thoughtlessness of youth has passed away, here, upon this spot, would
I offer a grateful tribute to his memory. Many others, too, occupied
this place, of whose destiny I am entirely ignorant, but yet remember
them with much affection.
One female teacher in particular, under whose instruction I sat six
summers in succession. Then she was young and healthful, and happy in
the bosom of her family; but now all have passed away save this one
surviving branch. She alone remains of her family, in feeble health,
and with that depression of spirits incident upon her situation.
On the low seat next to the desk, used to sit rather a fragile child,
with bright red hair and deep blue eyes that had a depth of meaning in
their earnest gaze. Her seat was vacant, and we heard, that Elizabeth
Ann was sick with typhus fever. We visited her in her chamber. She lay
tossing from side to side, upon her bed, even gnawing her fingers for
very pain. I gazed upon her with pity, and they told me she must die.
I had seen the aged pass away, but never the young. And musing long
and sadly upon this event, I sought my home, and spent a restless
night, repeating often the childish hymn, commencing,
"I in the burying place may see
Graves shorter there than I."
But the long night passed away with its sad presages, and the rising
sun peeped between the thick clustering leaves and flowers of the
morning glories that shaded the window, and diffused light and
radiance upon the joyous landscape. The birds awoke to new melody, and
in the gladness that surrounded me I almost forgot the impressions of
the previous evening. I arose, though slightly refreshed, repeating as
I did so,
"So like the sun may I fulfil
The duties of the day."
Almost the first intelligence that greeted my ear was the death of
Elizabeth Ann Prince. While the shadows of that night still lingered,
her pure spirit had passed away, and for the first time I realized
more fully than I had ever done before, that youth is no protection
from death. I saw her in her small coffin, and felt the marble
coldness of her pale brow, and as I saw the coffin descend into the
narrow grave, I turned sadly away with a grief-stricken, and perchance
a better heart. But for many months I could tell the exact number of
nights she had lain buried in the silent grave.
The next morning as I took my seat with a favorite companion, in
the one behind that formerly occupied by her, I almost started as I
fancied that her face was upturned to mine, and those blue orbs rested
The dear friend that sat with me, has too, passed away, "and the
places that knew her once upon earth, now know her no more forever."
Rosa was an orphan, having lost both parents; she was the youngest
of four sisters, had an amiable disposition, and was an affectionate
friend. She was married to a wealthy man, and became the mother of
several children; but the destroyer came and bore her from her dear
family to the silent church-yard, and placed her beneath a grassy
mound beside her father and her mother. Sweet is thy memory, friend of
my early days, and very pleasant were the hours we spent together: but
they have passed away with the things that were, and like the rose
leaves that falling fill the air with their perfume, so the fragrance
of those hours still lives.
Next to Rosa Whittier sat Julia Balcolm, with saddened expression of
countenance and large deep blue eyes that gazed upon you with a deeper
expression of melancholly in their glances than is usual to the merry
age of childhood, and elicited your sympathy ere you knew her history.
Julia was a cripple. She was drawn to school by an older sister with
rosy cheeks, bright flashing black eyes, and a sprightly animated
countenance, and carried into the school-room in the arms of her
teacher, or some of the older scholars. And so she came, year after
year, mingling with the merry group. But where is she now? yon little
mound of heaped up earth covers her remains, and a narrow marble slab
tells the place of her repose, and we can but hope she who was denied
the privilege of walking on earth may now soar on angel's wings.
As we contemplate the deprivations of one situated as she was, we can
but realize the blessing of having "the common use of our own limbs."
This dear child was obliged to crawl from place to place after her
more favored companions, dragging her useless perished limbs behind
her. But he who careth for us knew what was best for her, and we
cannot doubt his infinite wisdom.
It were vain to endeavor to trace the destinies of all who used to sit
with us, in this favorite, place. Many have gone down to death--many
still live on the same premises where they first inhaled the breath
of life, and some have gone forth into the world to fulfil a darker
destiny on the broad ocean of human life, that is ever tossing its
tumultuous waves before the tempestuous winds of fortune, and have
been ship-wrecked upon the quick-sands of vice and dissipation. The
shady side of the picture has been presented; but those were bright
and joyous days, and our school-yard resounded with the merry laugh
and frolicsome mirth of childhood; yet they leave not that abiding
impression upon the mind that characterizes incidents of a more
sombre hue. But we will leave the dear old school house with all its
treasured memories that link it with the past, and pursue our way in
some other direction. It is hard to stop where so many images crowd
upon the mind, and come stealing upon us in the shape of old familiar
friends with whom we have walked side by side, day after day; but dear
familiar scenes, adieu.
The Grave Yard.
Let us wander by this winding road to the place of graves, the great
charnel house where so many, who were formerly actors on life's busy
stage, have laid them down in the sleep of death. Many are the changes
that meet the eye as we pass along, but there are many traces left
that awaken memories of past friends and past years. Here are the dear
old trees under which we have played; the rocks upon which we have
sat, and the stream on which we have sailed; but which now is greatly
augmented in size, as it is now an outlet to the large reservoir of
water, into which the meadow above has been converted.
Crossing the bridge and ascending the hill, let us enter the grave
yard, and contemplate the change that rolling years have made in this
"Our fathers, where are they?"
Methinks the stones at our feet cry out--"All flesh is grass."
This is an ancient burial place; and as we look upon the dates of the
headstones, how forcibly do we feel "one generation passeth away and
another generation cometh." Many of the monuments have ceased to be a
memorial; having crumbled away, and the inscriptions become entirely
obliterated by the thick covering of green moss that has gathered upon
them. Is not this a lesson that is calculated to humble the pride of
man? But we will pause by the graves of the dear uncle and aunt, whose
remains we saw deposited here many years ago, when our young footsteps
bounded with all the elasticity of childhood. But though sweeping
years have borne away the halcyon days of childhood, the golden days
of youth, and the sobered and subdued period of middle life, and
our sun has passed its meridian and is verging rapidly towards
its setting, still this grief comes back again with all its first
freshness. Here for the first time these eyes looked into an
untenanted grave; for the first time saw the coffin let down into the
"dark and narrow house," and heard the hollow sound as the earth fell
upon it--and deep was the impression that was made upon the childish
memory, and so faithful is she to her trust that at this moment, when
standing upon this spot, she brings it back again, untarnished by the
long years that have passed away. The little heaped up mound that
covered their remains has sunk to a level with its kindred dust,
and the inscriptions upon the headstones, though legible, are much
defaced. Can it be that here are the dear forms whose voices I heard,
upon whose knees I sat, and who led me by the hand, day after day?
Even so. Were it not for revelation, "that light and immortality are
brought to light" by the gospel, how dark would be the grave; who
could fathom its mysterious confines, or penetrate its darkness? But
the Saviour has shed a radiance around it, and assured us "the graves
shall give up their dead; that we shall all come forth and be judged
according to the deeds done in the body." Happy they, who learn
this most important lesson, and live up to the great principles it
Methinks the murmur of the summer breeze, as it sighs through the
waving branches of the weeping willow, as it stands drooping over an
adjoining grave, seems the gentle whisper of departed spirits, wooing
us to the skies. As we glance far off in the distance from this
elevated spot, we see the toil and turmoil of life--its struggles,
cares and disappointments, and then contemplating the scene around us,
we feel that, this must be the end of all who live. Here lie those for
whom we sought in vain in the places where we formerly knew them. Here
repose the remains of our family physician, who, for many years, was
called in all cases of sickness, and was like a brother in the family.
By his side sleeps his amiable wife; as we look upon their graves for
the first time, we remember them as they were in life, and heave a
sigh to their memory.
Here lies a school companion who died at a very early age; we had
won prizes and received our little books from the hands of our dear
teacher, and that is my only recollection of him. His seat was vacant,
and they told me he was dead; but then I knew nothing of death.
Here, too, are the graves of Elizabeth Ann Prince, Julia Balcolm, the
poor cripple, and many others, who have sat with me in the dear
old school house. One in particular strikes the mind with peculiar
solemnity. It is the grave of Edward Davis; he was a young man of
superior talents, uncommon beauty and prepossessing manners. He was
rich in this world's goods, and married an amiable young lady, in all
respects his equal; they lived happily together several years, and had
several children, but sickness came like a blight upon him, and he was
soon conveyed to the silent tomb, leaving his wife and children to
mourn his loss.
Here, side by side, are the graves of an entire household, consisting
of the maternal grandmother, two sisters of the father, the father
and mother, and seven children, with the wife of one of the sons. Not
twelve rods from their own door they sleep side by side--that many
voiced household, in the silence of death. No voice breaks the
stillness; no words of love are interchanged; but their dust shall
mingle together till the morning of the resurrection, teaching an
impressive lesson to those that stand by their graves and read the
inscriptions upon their tombstones.
Here is buried the dear old deacon and his wife, by whose bedside we
stood when his forehead was wet with the damp dews of death, and his
eye lighted up by faith, seemed to scan the glories of the upper
world, and he felt it was "far better to depart and be with Christ."
And even then came, "let me die the death of the righteous, and let my
last end be like his." His devoted, pious wife soon followed him, and
we feel, as we look upon their graves, there is rest in Heaven. At
their feet lie children, grand-children and great-grand-children.
Clara Everett was a promising young girl, cut down at the early age of
nineteen. She was left an orphan at the age of nine months, her father
dying suddenly, and her mother a few weeks after, with consumption.
She was tenderly cared for by her maternal grand-parents and a maiden
aunt, well educated and had commenced teaching, when she was seized
suddenly with an alarming fever, which in a few short days, was
terminated by death. They bore her to the resting place with many
tears, and placed her beside those dear parents from whom she was so
early separated. Many here, that lived a life of dissipation, have
gone down to fill a drunkard's grave;
"But we'll tread lightly on the ashes of the dead."
Why should we uncover the frailties of poor mortality, unless to
hold them up as beacon lights to the rising generation? and for this
purpose we would take the living example.
Here is buried an aged woman, who lived in poverty. She had the
shaking palsy, and it was with great difficulty she could perform
any labor; she was assisted by the town and the charities of the
neighborhood. She had one daughter, who was an invalid many years,
and dependant upon the care of the feeble mother. The children of
the village were the willing bearers of many comforts to these poor
people; and even now seems to come the well remembered "tell your
mother I am much obliged to her," from the pale lips that lie buried
beneath the sod. The daughter is buried by her side, and methinks they
sleep as sweetly as the more wealthy citizen, beneath a more splendid
monument. All here meet upon a common level--the old, the young,
the rich, the poor, the bond and free, for death is no respecter of
Here, too, rests a young physician, who supplied the place of the old
one. His career was like the meteor flash, emitting its brilliant rays
for a season, and then was shrouded in death's dark night.
As we stand upon this spot and contemplate it as it was when we last
stood upon it, we feel that here has been the greatest change of any
place yet visited. Here we meet many a name familiar to the ear, and a
form familiar to the eye starts into life, and treads again its mazy
scenes. Many monuments are erected to entire strangers, and this
is our first meeting with them. Here the infant of a few days lies
buried, just tasting the cup of life, he turned sickening away, and
yielding it up, soared away with the angel band to the realms of
But ere we leave the yard, let us visit the resting place of the
beautiful Clarinda Robinson, who died at the early age of nineteen.
She had ever enjoyed undiminished health. But soon, oh, how soon,
the rose of health faded upon her cheek; her sparkling eye lost its
lustre, and the animated form, stiffened in death, was laid away in
its silent chamber. At her feet lie two beautiful nieces, called, too,
in the morning of their days to go and make their beds with her. Sadly
did the bereaved mother mourn their loss; but the pale messenger came
for her too, in a few weary years, and she joined them in the pale
realms of shade.
Here, too, sleeps the young wife, called soon away from the husband of
her youth. Consumption, like a worm in the bud, preyed upon the
damask of her cheek, dried up the fountain of her life, and bore her
triumphantly, another victim of his power. The old sexton, too, who
from time immemorial, had been
"The maker of the dead man's bed,"
has laid down his mattock and his spade, and filled a grave prepared
by other hands. At his feet lies a lovely daughter, snatched suddenly
away, ere the bloom of youth had passed, and almost without a moment's
warning, leaving a husband and a dear little child, too young to feel
But while we have yet lingered, the sun has finished his journey, and
hid his bright beams behind the curtain of the west, and already have
the shadows of coming twilight gathered around us, and the white
marble slabs, dimly seen in its shadows, assume strange, mysterious
shapes, and seem almost like moving things of life, while the darker
slate are lost to view.
We will sit a moment on the grave of our dear old aunt. This was the
spot designated for our family burying place; but it is now filled
with strangers. We will now leave this spot, to toss again upon the
waves of time; but may the lesson here learned go with us, and prepare
us for the day when the heart and flesh shall fail, and we must change
this for another life, ever remembering,
"That life is long that answers life's great end."
Or, Pictures of Human Life.
Picture No. I.
The midnight moon shone drear and cold,
Upon a stately tow'r;
Whose ramparts high and turrets bold
Bespoke a lordly pow'r.
The dancing waters flash'd and gleam'd
Beneath her silver ray;
And gently fell her placid beam,
On tower and turret gray.
And softly came the silent dew,
And fell with gentle pow'r,
Sparkling like gems, or diamonds fair,
On trembling leaf and flow'r.
Fair night hung out her golden lamps,
In her blue chambers high;
And earth, all gemmed, in their pure light,
Lay lovely to the eye.
But look within those costly halls,
Where waxen tapers gleam,
And crimson curtains' silken folds
Exclude the moon's bright beams.
A queenly matron mournful sits,
In all her jewelled pride;
The costly diamond on her breast,
Its anguish cannot hide.
The angel of the raven wing
His sable plume waves there,
And writhing on his silken couch,
Lies stretch'd the only heir.
She feels how vain a thing is wealth,
To ease that lab'ring breath,--
Or bribe, in his resistless course,
The tyrant monster, death.
The hours of night passed slow away,
When brightly rose the sun;
The boy in quiet beauty lay--
The fearful work was done.
The angel had performed his part,
And back to heav'n had flown;
The mother with a bursting heart,
Sat weeping now, alone.
She rising, smoothed his golden hair,
One ringlet gently shred;
And then, within a costly shroud,
She wrapped her silent dead.
And folded light the snowy screen,
That hid from every eye
Those features, beautiful in death,
And marble forehead high.
But hark! she hears a prancing hoof,
And sees a horseman come;
Soon the proud charger reached her side,
Cover'd with dust and foam.
Her husband from the saddle springs,
And clasps her to his breast;
And on her icy lip and brow
The kiss of love was pressed.
"How is our son?" the father cried;
In his, her hand she placed,
And through their gorgeous, darkened halls,
Their silent way they traced.
Nor stopped, until they reached his side,
Who yesterday, in health,--
The mother's joy, the father's pride,--
Was heir to all their wealth.
The mother folded back the screen,
And said, "There lays our child;"
Then overcome with bursting grief,
They wept in accents wild.
They laid him in a marble tomb,
With all that wealth could show;
But deeply in their castled home
Dark rolled the tide of woe.
Picture No. II.
The midnight moon, with pallid beams,
From eastern sky again
Look'd forth, and shed her fitful gleams
On mountain, hill and plain.
And far upon the moaning sea,
She threw her mellow light;
And tossing waves, and heaving spray,
Were gemm'd with diamonds bright.
But oft a fitful shadow came,
And rested like a shroud;
For, o'er her bright and tranquil face;
Stole many a passing cloud.
The night winds moan'd, and plaintive sigh'd,
O'er mountain, sea and vale,
And whistled round a lowly cot,
Where sat a mother, pale.
Her raven hair was parted smooth
Upon her forehead high;
And though her face was pale with care,
Yet mildly beamed her eye.
And beauty left a ling'ring trace,
Upon each feature there;
Which, with sweet dignity and grace,
Blended with ev'ry air.
A feeble taper dimly burn'd,
As swift her task she plied,
And oft her anxious gaze was turn'd
Where, nestled by her side,--
On a low pallet, sleeping lay
A darling, cherub boy,
With curling hair and azure eyes,
His mother's only joy.
Calm was his sleep; but starting once,
Half springing from his bed,
He spake, in accents faint and low,
"O, mother, give me bread."
And then her task she quicker plied,--
The starting tear repressed,
And, "Oh, my God!" she meekly cried,
"Protect the fatherless."
And so she toil'd, till morning spread
Her earliest tints of gray
Across the distant, eastern sky,
Then kneeling down to pray
Beside the little, lowly cot,
Her soul in trust was giv'n,
Unto that kindly Father's care,
Who look'd and heard from Heaven.
And angels came, with silent dew,
Her throbbing brow to lave;
And gentle sleep her spirits steep'd,
Within the Lethean wave.
But with the sun's first golden beams,
She left her lowly bed;
And with her gentle boy, went forth
To seek their daily bread.
Small was the pittance that was giv'n,
By cringing, sordid wealth;
But, with firm confidence in Heav'n,
And thankful for her health,
She took again her weary task,
Through all the lonely day,
Nor sought again her lowly bed,
Till morning dawn'd with gray.
So years pass'd by, the boy grew on
In beauty, day by day;
The mother felt her faithful son
Would all her care repay.
And manhood came, with daring high,
And brought a sweet relief;
Plenty for want, and ease for toil,
And joy for all her grief.
Picture No. III.
Again it was the Noon of Night,
The full orb'd moon her car rolled high,
And fringed with gems of silver light
The azure curtains of the sky.
And all the glittering host of stars,
Stood marshall'd in their bright array,
While, far across the concave blue,
Lay stretched the spangled milky way.
And earth all beautiful and fair,
Lay tranquil as a sleeping child
Beneath a watchful parent's care;
While guardian Heav'n looked down and smiled.
The trees all bathed in tears of Night,
Seemed deck'd with gems of Ophir's gold,
And lilies, in pure vestal white
Their spotless fragrant leaves unfold.
In gentlest breath the night-winds sigh,
While fleecy clouds like Angel's wings,
Light sailing o'er the azure sky,
Their shadows cast o'er earthly things.
O who could deem that aught so fair,
So filled with beauty and perfume:
Was but a mighty sepulchre,
A vast, capacious mould'ring tomb?
Or who could deem that mis'ry dwelt
Within a paradise so fair,
That want and pain and woe and guilt
Mingled as sad companions there?
But see where yonder moonbeams creep
In that lone crevice, low and small,
And throws a struggling, sickly beam
Upon the cold, damp dungeon's wall.
See by that feeble, glimm'ring ray,
Low seated on the damp chill ground
A mother sits, whose tearful eye
Is cast in gloomy sadness round.
Beside her lies her only son:
Her lap the pillow for his head.
That son must meet the convict's doom,
When the brief hours of night have fled.
The mother speaks: "Oh see, my son,
Light breaks upon your dungeon wall!
It is a messenger to thee;
Methinks it is thy Saviour's call.
"Dost thou not feel it on thy soul?
And wilt thou not His call obey?
His blood alone can cleanse from sin,
And wash thy guilty stains away."
"Oh, Mother, yes, I feel His power,
E'en as I see yon gentle ray;
His blessed voice now says 'Thoul't be
In Paradise with me this day.'"
Joy filled this waiting mother's heart;
"Let us to God the glory give."
They knelt in humble, grateful prayer,
For Jesus bade that sinner live.
And Angels hov'ring o'er the scene,
Clapped their glad wings and flew to Heav'n
To strike anew their golden harps,
For peace on earth and sin forgiv'n.
And the rapt seraphs round the throne,
Loud anthems to the Saviour raise;
While cherubims with transport burn,
And Heav'ns high dome resounds with praise.
And when the hangman's task was done,
Joy filled the stricken mother's breast.
She felt her dear misguided son,
Through Jesus' blood, had sunk to rest.
And while she linger'd on the earth,
Glory to God was hourly given,
For that mysterious spirit's birth,
That makes the soul an heir of Heav'n.
Picture No. IV.
In agony a mother knelt
Beside her wasted pulseless child;
"Give, oh, give him back to me,"
She cried, in accents stern and wild.
That prayer was heard, the answer came:
The feeble pulse revived again;
And quick the crimson tide of life
Flowed warmly back through every vein.
Yet, though the mother saw the change,
No praise unto her God was given;
No grateful incense from that heart
Ascended up to pitying heaven.
'Twas midnight's deep and silent hour,
When nature folds her hands to sleep,
And Angels come to bathe the flowers,
With dewy tears they only weep.
She heeded not the pulse of time
That throbb'd the moments of the night,
Nor yet the early morning's dawn,
That ting'd the east with rosy light.
But with a mother's earnest eye,
Watch'd o'er her infant's peaceful rest:
Until his gentle slumber passed,
Then clasp'd him fondly to her breast.
Childhood's brief years in sin were spent;
The stubborn knee ne'er bent in prayer;
Those lips ne'er spake a Saviour's name,
"Our Father" never lingered there.
Youth's golden season, too, was passed
In wanton sports and misspent time;
And soon he stood on manhood's verge,
A hardened wretch, prepared for crime.
Though so forbidding in his mein,
He woo'd and won a gentle bride,
Who but the closer to him clung,
As darker rolled life's heaving tide.
But though an Angel shar'd the place,
There were for him no joys at home;
He left his mother and his wife,
Reckless o'er earth or sea to roar.
He stood upon a sanded deck,
With blood-red pennon floating free,
And with a daring bloody band,
Rode madly o'er the foaming sea.
The waves that lashed the coal-black hull
Were parted oft their dead to hide;
For ocean's surging, billowy foam,
Drank deeply of life's crimson tide.
He tossed a pointed dagger high,
And wore a sabre by his side;
And many a gen'rous noble one,
Beneath his powerful arm had died.
For bloody deeds of daring high,
He had won a deathless fame;
And o'er that reckless, bloody crew,
Had gained a pirate-captain's name.
And though their coffers teem'd with gold,
Their sordid souls still sighed for more:
And to procure the paltry trash
They scour'd the seas from shore to shore.
But Retribution's hour must come;
Vengeance cannot always sleep;
Justice, with her glittering sword,
Pursues them swiftly o'er the deep.
At midnight, in a dungeon lone,
An aged female knelt in prayer;
But oh, her low, sepulchral tone
Seemed fraught with anguish and despair.
"My son," she cried, "to morrow's sun
Must witness your disgraceful death;
O, seek a dying Saviour's love,
E'en with your expiring breath.
The sun of Righteousness has risen,
And o'er my path shed golden light,
And shone upon the narrow way,
That ever followed leads aright.
And I have followed to the cross,
On which a dying Saviour hung,
Bemoaned my sins with weeping eyes,
Besought his grace with suppliant tongue.
He witness'd all my sorrowing tears,
And heard my suppliant prayer in Heaven;
Then sweetly spake with cheering voice,
"Daughter, thy sins are all forgiven."
Prostrate in dust before His throne,
My heart's pure worship then I gave;
Sweetly my ransomed spirit sang,
Jesus Christ has power to save."
Then spake the son:--"Talk not to me,
I heeded not weak woman's tears;
But when I sail'd upon the sea,
I quickly silenc'd all their fears.
Free was my trade, my arm was free,
And human blood I freely spilt;
And many an aged breast like thine,
Has sheath'd my dagger to its hilt.
Our blood-red pennon floated free,
Our blood-stained deck its witness gave;
Blood, human blood, was on our hands,
And mingled oft with ocean's wave."
Shudd'ring, the mother cried: "My son,
Though you are steeped in human gore,
There is a fountain filled with blood,
That can your purity restore.
Your Angel wife bath'd in that flood,
And proved a Saviour's promise true,
And when she gently pass'd from earth
She left her dying love for you;
And bade you seek a Saviour's face,
And by His mercy be forgiven,
And by that new and living way,
Seek an inheritance in Heaven."
"Then she is dead," he mournful cried,
"'Tis better thus, for see the sun
With rosy light now streaks the east:
And ere it sets my race is run.
Firm would I stand upon the drop,
Meet firmly my approaching doom;
But death is not an endless sleep,
And justice lives beyond the tomb.
Yet this conviction comes too late;
My soul is lost,--I cannot pray;
Forget your son--forget my fate,
And walk in wisdom's pleasant way."
In agony the mother pressed
To her sad heart her guilty son;
But yet, like incense from that heart,
Sweetly arose, "thy will be done."
No hands were folded on his breast.
They laid him not within the tomb;
The surgeon took him from the drop,
To meet a more disgraceful doom.
And such is life, whose ebb and flow
Heaves the deep sea of human mind;
True happiness they only know,
Whose every wish's to Heaven resigned.
The History of a Household.
Early in the winter of 18--, there was a heavy rain, accompanied by
high winds, which swelled the waters of the Sandy river to an amazing
height, and every moving thing upon its surface was borne away with
the rapidity of lightning. Standing upon its margin was Frank Somers,
his eyes fixed with intense interest upon a frail raft that was
plunging and heaving among the boiling waves. Upon it stood a man
about the middle of life, with an athletic form and a determined
expression of countenance, his eyes fixed fiercely upon a brace of
logs that had been left reposing on the quiet bosom of the waters,
waiting their turn to be sawed into boards. It was a valuable lot,
and would bring considerable of an income to the owner, therefore he
pursued it over the rapid current, hoping to arrest its course ere
it reached the falls. Beside him stood a young boy on the raft,
his cheeks blanched to marble whiteness, and his dark eyes fixed
imploringly upon his father as they danced along over the furious
wave, every bound conveying them so much nearer the falls that
thundered on like a mighty cataract, heaving up a cloud of spray, then
foaming and dashing off to join the mad waters below. O, it was a
fearful sight. On, on went the logs, and on, on went the raft, the
reckless man exerting himself to his utmost to stop their progress by
endeavoring to reach them with a long pole he held in his hand.
Willie Somers raised his pleading eyes to his face (and many long
years after did their expression haunt him), "O Mr. Lambert, please
don't go any farther, we shall be over the falls."
"Pshaw, child," answered Mr. Lambert, rather sternly, "I must save my
logs at any risk."
The frantic father screamed from the shore,--"Mr. Lambert, save
yourselves and let the logs go.
"You are lost, you are lost!" cried many voices, as a log bounded upon
a giant wave, leaping over the cataract hurrying on through the waters
below. The strong man made a desperate effort and reached the land,
but the poor boy upon the raft was precipitated over the falls into
the gulf below. As the agonized father stood gazing with breathless
horror upon the sight, the form of his dear son arose once more,
standing erect upon the bounding billows, with his arms widely
extended, and his eyes glaring from their sockets. But in, a moment he
was hid from view, beneath the heaving mass of waters. All effort to
find him proved unavailing.
The next spring his body was found thirty miles distant down the
river, having laid in the water over three months. He was sent to his
friends. The father was almost beside himself, although a man slow
to anger; but he turned when his son sank from his sight groaning in
spirit, and shut himself up in his chamber, not daring to see Mr.
Lambert till his wrath was in some degree abated. He secluded himself
in his room four days, suffering intensely, and then went forth among
men an altered man, for the fearful death of his son had made an
impression upon his mind never to be obliterated by time.
He was a man of sorrow, having separated from his family on account of
domestic troubles, and this, his only son, was his greatest comfort.
His eldest daughter Matilda, was married to a man in the same
neighborhood, and had been a witness of her brother's sudden death.
She was young in years, but insidious consumption was sapping the
secret springs of life, and that awful sight gave her a shock from
which she never recovered. The wretched father soon left that part of
the country and journeyed to a far distant southern city, and far, far
away in a land of strangers, they made his grave. No dear child was
near to wipe the dew of death from his noble brow, or to minister to
his necessities, or to close his weary eyes as they cast their sad
glances upon a world that had been to him a world of trial.
Matilda gradually failed. She had given her heart with her hand in
early youth, to a young man of moderate circumstances, but prudent and
industrious; and by these means they procured a comfortable living,
and with this they were contented. She united her industry with that
of her husband, and her good management gave a neat and almost an
elegant appearance to their little cottage home, which peeped out like
a bird's nest from the trees that surrounded it. Charles Abbot was a
happy man, happy in the consciousness of well doing, happy in the love
of his wife, and in the caresses of two little boys, the pledges of
their united love.
They had been married six years when the death of the dear brother
cast so deep a shadow over their hitherto happy home. Matilda's
failing health scarce attracted attention, it was so gradual.
A slight cough, a deeper rose upon the cheek, and a brighter fire in
the eye, were almost its only indications. It was a calm evening in
the early part of June, as Charles and Matilda sauntered forth to
inhale the sweet fragrance of the evening breeze that fanned the
leaves of the trees, and wafted the odors of many flowers upon its
downy pinions, and rippling the now quiet waters of the Sandy river
that lay in peaceful repose, its glassy surface reflecting the mild
radiance of the setting sun.
Before them ran their little children in all their sportive gaiety,
clapping their hands with joyous glee, as they watched the progress of
a little boat that was plying its way across the river, and listening
to the boatman's whistle, and the splashing of the oar as it dipped
the silver waves. The towering mountains rose high above their heads,
and "Father Abraham" looked as though it were about to fall and crush
them as they seated themselves at its base, to gaze upon the prospect
before them. Charles adjusted Matilda's shawl as she seated herself by
his side, with a sharp cough.
He glanced anxiously toward her, but became reassured as the deep
crimson upon her cheek and the bright sparkle of her eye met his gaze.
She sat looking pensively towards the river for some time, with her
cheek resting upon her husband's shoulder, and occasionally watching
the many gambols of her children as they sported at their feet. At
length she said: "Charles, how deceitful to me looks the placid bosom
of yonder rippling stream, as it reposes in quiet beauty, reminding me
of the stream of time, on the ocean of human life when unmoved by the
tumultuous storms of passion that so often agitate the human breast,
and cause the waves to rise and the billows to swell before the
surging storm. Scarce six months have passed since that stream swept
by in giant fury, and poor Willie was buried in its angry bosom. O,
Charles, do you know I cannot look upon that river without hearing
again his last agonizing shriek, and seeing again his pale fearful
gaze as he looked death in the face, for well must the dear boy have
known that his doom was sealed; and oh, what agony must have filled
his breast as he cast his last gaze upon us, imploring our assistance,
and yet feeling it would be vain."
"We will leave this place, as it awakens unpleasant memories."
"It is best so," continued she; "Even now the spirit of my dear
brother seems hovering over me, whispering of the spirit land. But
Charles, I have something to say to you of importance."
The husband looked earnestly and tenderly into the face of his wife,
and she continued,
"Perhaps, my dear husband, you are not aware of my failing health, but
I feel the necessity of having assistance in my household duties, and
have thought perhaps it would be better to send for sister Ellen to
come and stay with me a while."
"Certainly, my dear, certainly; I will go after her to-morrow; forgive
me, Matilda, that I have not thought of this before, but I think if
you are relieved of part of your labor for a while, your health will
The poor wife smiled sadly, and pulling down a stalk laden with buds
from an adjacent rose bush that stood waving on a flowery bank beside
them, and pointing to a crimson bud enclosed in its casing of green,
she said, "Charles, is not that a beautiful bud?"
He looked at it and answered in the affirmative.
"Do you think it will ever bloom?"
"I see no reason why it should not, it looks as promising as any one
upon the stem."
"But look a little closer, do you see that little worm gnawing at the
very heart and sapping the secret springs of its life?"
Her husband gazed tearfully upon her, and she felt she was understood;
and then pressed her to his heart in a passionate, fond embrace, and
spoke words of comfort, and of hope and of life.
The wife smiled faintly upon him, and replied:
"Even now there is such a weariness in my limbs that I do not feel as
though I scarcely can reach our little cottage home, where we have
spent so many happy hours together."
They called their little Frank, who bore his grandfather's name, and
Willie, for the youngest was named for her dear brother, and
pursued their way silently to the house, each wrapped in their own
That night, when Mr. Abbot closed his family Bible, and they all knelt
together to implore God's mercy, fervent was the supplication that
arose from the lips of the husband and father, as he besought grace
for every time of need. The heart of the husband was full as he
prayed our Father to stay the disease of his dear wife, and earnestly
repeated, "if it be possible let this cup pass from me;" but after
wrestling long, that peace came that passeth understanding--that peace
that the God that heareth prayer bestows upon his children when they
bow themselves before Him, and cast their burden upon Him who careth
for us, and ere he arose from his knees he was made to say, "Thy will,
not mine be done;" and they retired to rest beneath the shadow of the
Almighty, and felt that his watchful eye was upon them during the
silent hours of the night.
Early the following morning Mr. Abbot started, to go down the river
(as was the usual phrase) to Matilda's grandfather's, where Annie and
Ellen, the two younger sisters resided, having both left the residence
of their mother some time previous. Annie, then eighteen, had the sole
management of the family, as her grandmother was very feeble, and
unable to assist her at all. She was rather surprised at Mr. Abbot's
arrival, and quite alarmed when she heard the import of it. It was
immediately settled that Ellen should go with him, and preparation
was accordingly made for their departure early the following morning,
every thing being attended to by the careful Annie, who supplied the
place of mother to the younger sister, who was now about sixteen.
Suffice it to say, the assistance was not productive of the
anticipated good; Matilda's health declined rapidly, and it became
evident to all who looked upon her, that she was passing away to the
spirit land. The struggle in her husband's mind was over, and he felt
a pious resignation to the will of God.
Frequently did they converse together upon the joys of the heavenly
world, and select such passages of Scripture as are calculated to
prepare the soul for its upward flight.
"O Charles," said Matilda, one beautiful autumn day, as the yellow sun
shed his mild radiance over the decaying face of nature, "support me
by your strong arm while we pass through the garden to the river by
the nearest way. I feel quite refreshed to-day, and would look once
more upon that restless stream that is ever hurrying on 'to meet old
He placed his arm lovingly round her waist, and almost bore her to the
spot, scarcely feeling her weight, so fragile had she become. Frank
and Willie accompanied them with their happy countenances and glad
voices, and plucking a bunch of fading flowers, presented them to
She watched them with a tranquil smile, and rewarded them with a kiss
as she took the proffered boquet from the uplifted hands of her dear
children. Frank was a noble boy, with dark brown hair and coal black
eyes, inheriting his mother's beauty. Willie was a feeble child, with
hair of lighter brown and eyes of azure blue, that betrayed a noble
soul in their very depths.
The mother called him to her, and taking his little hand in hers,
pressed them lightly to her forehead and then to her lips: looked
earnestly into his eyes as though she would penetrate their very
depths, then tenderly said:
"Willie, we are very near to heaven here; it is the music of angels
that whispers through the waving trees, and it is the motion of their
wings that sways their branches so gently. O Willie, will you meet me
"Frank, come and kiss me; we are very near heaven; will you too meet
your mother there? Charles, it does not make me sad now to see the
place where dear brother Willie passed over the falls. It looks
pleasant now, so near heaven, and his gentle spirit says, 'sweet
sister, come;' surely the things of earth are passing away. Charles,
the dear boys will comfort you when I am gone, and perchance my spirit
may meet with yours in sweet communings, and soon we shall meet in
heaven to spend an eternity together. Charles, pray in this beautiful
place. O, those towering mountains apeak the majesty of their Creator."
"Ellen, dear, 'remember your Creator in the days of your youth;' and
oh Charles, pray that we all may meet in heaven."
He knelt and offered up the prayer of faith, but while he concluded,
there was a pressure of the hand he held in his, the white lips
parted, the head fell heavily upon his shoulder; there was a faint
whisper "Jesus, receive my spirit," and the mother was an Angel.
The boys were overcome with grief. Charles and Ellen too, were
He bore his lovely burden back to the house and wrapped her in the
habiliments of the grave.
It was a mournful day in autumn, when a sad procession bore her to her
last resting place, and laid her down by the side of her much lamented
brother. The appropriate text, "He that believeth on me shall never
die," comforted the grief-stricken mourners. She passed away early in
life, ere the sun of twenty-four summers had shone upon her pathway.
Charles mourned his loss, but not as one without hope. And as he
turned from the grave to his home and crushed the blighted leaves
of autumn beneath his feet, he felt that he too, was passing over
withered hopes back to the battle field of human life.
He cast one long, lingering glance upon Matilda's grave, then looked
fervently to heaven, and pressed on to "life and to duty with
Ellen soon returned to her grand-parents, and a sister of Mr. Abbot,
losing her husband about the same time his wife died, came to reside
with him, and thus the husband and children were provided for; and
although the shadow of a great grief rested upon them, and there was
a vacancy in their household, they learned to be happy in the present
good, and by living so as to join the dear departed ones in a happier
It was again June--mild, lovely June. The air was filled with the
sweet music of the birds that carolled their evening lay, and seemed
pouring forth a sweet song of gratitude to Heaven, for that delightful
day. Gentle breezes sighed through the leafy trees soft as the first
whispering of young love, giving them a trembling motion, like a
bashful maiden as she blushingly listens to it. Beautiful looked the
little village of W----, as the setting sun cast his slanting rays
upon it, tinging the leaves with deeper green, and burnishing the
little stream with gems of sparkling gold. The tall lilac bushes were
filled with large red and white blossoms, and as they slightly nodded
their graceful heads before the passing zephyr, might have been
fancied to be giving a cold greeting to some humbler flower that grew
by their side.
In a large, square, old fashioned house, encircled by a neat white
fence, which separated it from the street, might be seen a young girl,
occupied in what New England housewives would call setting the house
in order, and very carefully are all things arranged, the crockery
being nicely washed and wiped to a shining brightness, stands neatly
arranged in their proper places, on shelves scoured to a snowy
whiteness. The floor is nicely swept, every chair carefully dusted,
and set back in its proper place, and the broom and the brush hung
back upon their accustomed nail. The young mistress stood looking
round the apartment with the air of one who feels they have
accomplished well the designated task, when she started upon hearing
her own name called, and in a moment Edward Merton stood by her side.
"Annie, come, Annie, just don your sun-bonnet, and walk with us to the
Suiting the action to the word, he placed her bonnet upon her head,
and drew her willing arm in his, and they soon joined the group of gay
companions that stood chatting and laughing at the door. Well did the
sable dress that Annie wore become her fine complexion, for the rose
blended with the lily upon her cheek, and beauty sat triumphant upon
her ruby lips and sparkled in her dark flashing eyes. But recent
events had cast an expression of melancholy over her countenance,
which for a moment had a sobering influence over her young companions
when she joined them.
Edward and Annie lingered a little behind the rest, talking of their
future prospects, and of the coming separation, as Edward was soon to
leave for Boston, where a more desirable situation was offered him
than could be obtained in the village.
"My increased income, my dear Annie, will enable me the sooner to
claim you for my bride; true, the separation will be painful, but I
am determined never to marry till I can commence house-keeping
She looked earnestly in his face and said, "Edward, it is home where
the heart is, and it seems to me we should not spurn a present for a
future good. This life is short and uncertain, and I feel a gloomy
foreboding when I think of your departure, I have been so accustomed
to seeing you every day, to leaning on your arm in every walk, and
going so constantly with you everywhere, that I shall miss you sadly
when you are away; but," she continued, smiling through her tears, "I
suppose I must turn nun" and live in seclusion during your absence?"
"O, do not do that," he replied, smiling; "It will be but for a short
time, and it is said, 'absence lends enchantment to the view.'"
"O, dear," cried Melinda, a blue eyed beauty, leaning confidently upon
the arm of Theodore Stanley, "I should think Ed and Ann were saying
their parting adieus, they look so sad."
Upon this the eyes of the whole group were turned upon them, and
affecting a gaiety they did not feel, they soon hastened forward and
joined in the general conversation till they came to the place of
What was called the Island, was a point of land in the edge of a large
pond, or lake it might be called, as it was six miles long and three
or four wide. It was separated from the main land in low water, by a