I am lucky enough to have in my personal library a book entitled ‘The Mourner’s Friend or Sighs of Sympathy For Those Who Sorrow’. It is a collection of prose and verse compiled to give comfort to the grieving. Edited by J.B. Syme, published in 1852 by S.A. Howland in Worcester, Mass, USA; its contents are predominantly by American authors. My copy of the book has some water damage, ageing paper, and precarious binding, so before it deteriorates my project to preserve the words of the authors will find its way here on the MOLAM blog.
“My Little Boy.”
READER, please bear with us if we do not seem as happy as usual, for a dreadful woe has fallen upon us, and it is with a saddened heart that we attempt to write. This woe fills our mind with its shadow, and we cannot feign a joy we do not feel. But why should we make a parade of grief, and blazon it as it were upon the housetops ? It does one good to speak of his sorrows, for her borrows comfort from answering sympathies.
That “Little Boy”, of whom it was our delight and pride to speak, is no more. His sweet spirit has fled from the earth, and left an aching void in our heart, and an anguish which will be hard to remedy. The music of his voice is stilled ; the mild beaming of his eyes is quenched in the darkness of death ; his arms are no more outstretched upon loving impulses, nor his step speedy in affection’s errands ; the happiness of his smile will no more impart its blessed contagion to our own spirit, nor the home places be made again pleasant by his bright presence.
We were loth that he should depart. There were a thousand ties that bound him to us. We could not conceive that a flower so fair and full of promise should wither and die while within our grasp. We fancied that we could hedge him round with our love, and that the grim archer could not find access to our fold through the diligence of our watchfulness. we had forgotten that the brightest and fairest are oftenest the victims of inexorable Death, and that the roseate robes of to-day’s joy may be usurped to-morrow by the sable drapery of affliction.
There was much to endear him to us. Perhaps no more, however, than every child possesses to a parent. He was precocious to an extraordinary degree, and his little life was full of childish manliness that made everybody love him who looked upon him. His kiss is still warm upon our cheek, and his smile still bright in our memory, replete with love and trust. We were sanguine of a fruitful future for him, and we had associated him with many schemes of happy usefulness in coming life, and with foolish pride boasted of indications that promised all we hoped. Alas ! how dark it seems now, as we recall the dear little fellow below stairs in his shroud, awaiting the last sad offices affection can bestow. He is smiling still, as he reposes beneath the coffin-lid, as if the spirit in parting had stamped its triumph, on the cold lips, over the dominion of Death.
That “Little Boy” was our idol, and there were those—well meaning people too—who would expostulate, and shake their heads gravely, and say that we loved him too much. As if such a thing were possible, were a being of such qualities was making constant drafts upon our affections. It is our greatest consolation in this dark hour, that we loved him so well,–that there was no stint or limit to the love we felt for him,–that his happiness and our own were so promoted by that affection, that it is now almost like the pangs of death for us to relinquish him to the grave.
It seems almost a sin to weep over the young and beautiful dead, but it must be a colder philosophy than ours to repress tears when bending over the lifeless form of a dear child. We may know that the pains of earth are exchanged for the joys of heaven ; we may admit the selfishness of our woe, that would interpose itself between the dead and their happiness ; we may listen to and allow the truth of gospel solaces, and cling to the hope of a happy and endless meeting in regions beyond the grave ; but what can fill the void which their dreary absence makes in the circle which they blessed, where every association tends to recall them ?
Thus it seems when the heart is first bereft, when the sorrow is new, and we sit down in our lone chamber to think of it and brood over it. But we know that affliction must become softened by time, or it would be unbearable. And there are many reflections that the mind draws from its own stores to yield after comfort. Memory forgets nothing of the departed but the woe of separation, and every association connected with them becomes pleasant and joyous. We see them, “with their angel plumage on,” we feel them around us opon viewless wings, filling our minds with good influences and blessed recollections ; they are freed and, with a holier love, are still ministering to us.
The reader will pardon this dull ebullition, prompted by an event so afflictive to us. It is one of the immunities of grief that it pour itself out unchecked ; and everybody who has a little boy like this we have lost, will readily excuse this fond and mournful prolixity,–this justifiable lamentation for “the Little Boy that died.” But
We shall all go home to our Father’s house,–
To our Father’s house in the skies:
Where the hope of our souls shall have no blight,
Our love no broken ties.
We shall roam on the banks of the River of Peace,
And bathe in its blissful tide;
And one of the joys of our heaven shall be,–
The little boy that died.