UNION OF GOOD MEN IN HEAVEN. By Rev. R. Hall.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

 This is an excerpt from Reverend Robert Hall’s A Funeral Sermon for the Rev. Dr. Ryland who was born in January 29 1753. It appears in the publication The Works of the Reverend Robert Hall, A.M. published in London and also in New York in the same year 1832. A very popular theologian, philosopher, moralist and public preacher Rev. Robert Hall appears to have been a prolific and popular religious figure. Although, he lived and worked in England with the publication of his works in the US he was obviously a noteworthy inclusion here.
Reverend Robert Hall was born in 1764 and died in 1831. An English Baptist preacher from Arnesby, Leicestershire, he was known for his academic achievements at a young age. He spent 15 years in Cambridge, then in 1807 he became Minister of Harvey Lane Chapel.

UNION OF GOOD MEN IN HEAVEN. By Rev. R. Hall.

IF the mere conception of the reunion of good men in a future state, infused a momentary rapture into the mind of Tully ; if an airy speculation, for there is reason to fear it had little hold on his convictions, could inspire him with such delight, what may we be expected to feel, who are assured of such an event by the true sayings of God ! How should we rejoice in the prospect, the certainty, rather, of spending a blissful eternity with those whom we loved on earth ; of seeing them emerge from the ruins of the tomb, and the deeper ruins of the fall, not only uninjured, but refined and perfected, with every tear wiped from their eyes, standing before the throne of God and the Lamb in white robes, and palms in their hands, crying with a loud voice, Salvation to God, that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever ! what delight will it afford to renew the sweet counsel we have taken together, to recount the toils of combat, and the labor of the way, and to approach not the house but the throne of God, in company, in order to join in the symphonies of heavenly voices and lose ourselves amid the splendors and fruitions of the beatific vision !

To that state all the pious on earth are tending ; and if there is a law from whose operation none are exempt, which irresistibly conveys their bodies to darkness and to dust, there is another, not less certain or less powerful, which conducts their spirits to the abodes of bliss, to the bosom of their Father and their God. The wheels of nature are not made to roll backward ; everything presses on towards eternity ; from the birth of time on impetuous current has set in, which bears all the sons of men towards that interminable ocean. Meanwhile, heaven is attracting to itself whatever is congenial to its nature, is enriching itself by the spoils of earth, and collecting within its capacious bosom whatever is pure, permanent, and divine ; leaving nothing for the last fire to consume but the objects and the slaves of concupiscence ; while everything which grace has prepared and beautified shall be gathered and selected from the ruins of the world, to adorn that eternal city, “which hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it ; for the glory of God doth enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.”

Reverend Robert Hall by Unknown Artist in the Leicester Museum, England.

Reverend Robert Hall by Unknown Artist in the Leicester Museum, England.

“I WEEP NOT”. By Mrs. Amelia B. Welby.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

 Amelia B. Welby (1819 – 1852) was an American poet who published two collections of poems (1844 and 1850) and contributed to the Louisville Daily Journal. She died at the age of 33, soon after the death of her only child.

“I WEEP NOT”. By Mrs. Amelia B. Welby.

I WEEP not as I wept,
When first they laid thee low ;
My sorrow all too deep is kept
To melt like common woe.
My sorrow all too deep is kept
To melt like common woe.
Nor do my lips e’er part
With whispers of thy name,
but thou art shrined in this hushed heart,
And that is all the same.

I could be happy now,
Had memory flown with thee,
But still I hear a whisper low,
And memory will not flee ;
A whisper that doth tell
Of thee, and thee alone ;
A memory, like the ocean shell,
Forever making moan.

For how can I forget
Thine eye of softest brown,
With its pale lids, just touched with jet
And always drooping down ;
And thy sweet form of grace,
That went to rest so soon,
And the turning up of thy sweet face
Beneath the placid moon !

I sometimes think thy hand
Is on my forehead prest,
And almost feel thy tresses, fanned
Across my beating breast ;
And catch the sunny flow
Of thy mantle on the air,
And turn to see if it is so, –
Alas ! thou art not there !

And I wander out alone
Beside the singing rills
When nothing but the wind’s low tone
Come stealing down the hills ;
And while along the deep
The moonbeams softly shine,
My silent soul goes forth to keep
Its blessed tryst with thine.

I weep not, though thou art laid
In such a lone, dark place,
Thou, who didst live without a shade
To cloud thy sweet young face ;
For now thy spirit sings
Where angels once have trod,
Veiling their faces ‘neath their wings
Around the throne of God !

They faults were slight, and few
As human faults could be,
And thy virtues were as many too
As gems beneath the sea ;
And thy thoughts did heavenward roam
Until, like links of gold,
They drew thee up to thy blue home
Within the Saviour’s fold.

Amelia B. Welby

Amelia B. Welby

THE STRANGER’S DEATH.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

THE STRANGER’S DEATH.

THEY stand around the couch of the dying. Who ? I sit the tender mother and idolizing father ? Is he surrounded by sympathizing sisters and brothers, the playmates of his childhood, the friends of his early days ? No ; none of these are near him ; strangers watch his parting breath ; old, unfeeling strangers. No tear of pity bedews his burning brow, no kiss of tenderness is pressed upon his fevered lips, no soft hand of affection soothes his pillow of death. Why is this ? Is he forgotten in the home of his father / he who was once the joy of every heart, the beloved of all who knew him ? Ah, no ! that mother’s prayer is even now ascending to heaven for her treasured child ; all is joy in that home ; for the son, the brother, is returning to his native land. He left the shores of our happy New England, left all that was dear to his heart, with but little regret, for he fondly thought that a few moths would restore him to the embraces of his friends. To the South he bent his steps ; prosperity smiled upon him, success crowned his undertakings, already was his mission accomplished, and he had started for the place of his birth, when alas ! disease fastened upon him and he was prostrated upon a bed of suffering, never again to rise. There, without one friend to comfort, so speak to him of hope, he must pass away to the spirit-land. No prayer ascends from that chamber of death, save from the lips of the dying stranger. Look on that brow. Death as set there its seal, but it cannot efface the intellectual beauty, the soul-speaking expression of his noble countenance. His eyes are raised to heaven, his pale hands clasped in supplication ; for what does he pray ? Hard was it for him to resign every hope of life ; to die, with the first flush of manhood on his brow ; hard to lie down in the cold grave, in the spring-time of existence, and double hard to die far from the endearments of friends, and to leave his remains in a land of slavery and crime.

“O!” said he, when told that no hope remained of his recovery, ” I Cannot die here ; bear me to my kindred ; let me again hear the voices of loved ones, and I shall rest in peace. ” But he, at whose rebuke the tempest ceases its raging, and tranquility is restored to the angry deep ; he, the God of all who put their trust in him, forsook him not, but over the trouble depths of his spirit whispered ” Be still.” And now the strife is ceased, calm and peaceful is his soul : and he breathes that sweet prayer of resignation, “Father, thy will be done.” A seraphic smile radiates his features even in death, a light of no earthly beauty beams from his eye, his lips move and the words “meet in heaven” are faintly uttered, and all is over ; the spirit is with its God, where the weary rest forever.

Peace to thine ashes, my dear, departed brother. Long will they memory live int he hearts of those who love thee, but who may never drop a tear upon thy lonely grave. In the far distant valley of the Mississippi strangers have laid thee to rest, the flowers oft eh sunny South bloom over thee, thy dust mingles with that of the down-trodden and oppressed, whose cause thou didst ever nobly vindicate. Yet methinks thy spirit often revisits the scenes once so dear to thee, whispering comfort and hope to the hearts that mourn thine early departure, and painting thee to a blissful reunion, where disappointments never chill, and where friends never separate. Even now, in this stil evening hour, I seem to hear a sweet, familiar voice, in tones of richest melody, saying, –

Sister, I am happy now,
No anxious fears alloy;
No sorrow clouds my brow,
But perfect is my joy.

My heart no anguish knows,
My throbbing head finds rest;
I lean, in sweet repose,
Upon my Saviour’s breast.

EARTH’S ANGELS.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

EARTH’S ANGELS.

WHY come not spirits from the realms of glory
To visit earth, as in the days of old,
The times of sacred writ and ancient story ?
Is heaven more distant ? or has earth grown cold ?

Oft have I gazed, when sunset clouds, receding,
Waved like rich banners of a host gone by ,
To catch the gleam of some white pinion speeding
Along the confines of the glowing sky ; –

And oft, when midnight stars, in distant chillness,
Were calmly burning, listened late and long ;
But Nature’s pulse beat on in solemn stillness ;
Bearing no echo of the seraph’s song.

To Bethlehem’s air was their last anthem given,
When other stars before The One grew dim ?
Was their last presence known in Peter’s prison ?
Or where exulting martyrs raised their hymn ?

And are they all within the veil departed ?
There gleams no wing along the empyrean now ;
And many a tear from human eyes has started,
Since angel touch has calmed a mortal brow.

No ; earth has angels, though their forms are moulded,
But of such clay as fashions all below ;
Though harps are wanting, and bright pinions folded,
we know them by the love-light on their brow.

I have seen angels by the sick one’s pillow;
Theirs was the soft tone and the soundless tread ;
where smitten hearts were drooping like the willow,
They stood “between the living and the dead.”

And if my sight, by earthly dimness hindered,
Beheld no hovering cherubim in air,
I doubted not, – for spirits know their kindred, –
They smiled upon the wingless watchers there.

There have been angels in the gloomy prison, –
In crowded halls, – by the lone widow’s hearth ;
And where they passed, the fallen have uprisen, –
The giddy paused, – the mourner’s hope had birth.

I have seen one whose eloquence commanding
Roused the rich echoes of the human breast,
The blandishments of wealth and ease withstanding,
That Hope might reach the suffering and oppressed.

And by his side there moved a form of beauty,
Strewing sweet flowers along his path of life,
And looking up with meek and love-lent duty ; –
I call her angel, but he called her wife.

O, many a spirit walks the world unheeded,
That, when its veil of sadness is laid down,
Shall soar aloft with pinions unimpeded,
And wear its glory like a starry crown.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 'A Soul Brought To Heaven', 1878.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau, ‘A Soul Brought To Heaven’, 1878.

THE EMIGRANT’S BURIAL. By L. M. Child.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

 The author of this piece, like many other contributors, was a recognised human rights activist of her time, supporting women’s rights, the abolition of slavery and Native American rights. Interestingly, the author achieved significant recognition and success as a writer, not an easy feat for a woman. Lydia Maria Child (1802 – 1880) became well known for her novel Hobomok released in 1824 it became a sensation as it was the first historical novel written from a feminine point of view and contains a female protagonist who married a Native American Indian. In the piece below, the author displays her empathy for another ‘outsider’, the emigrant alone in a foreign land.

THE EMIGRANT’S BURIAL. By L. M. Child.

THE Englishman was an intelligent, well-informed young man, who, being unable to marry the object of his choice with any chance of comfortable support in his own country, had come to prepare a home for his beloved in the El Dorado of the West.

A neglected cold brought on lung fever, which left him in a rapid decline ; but still, full of hope, he was pushing on up the Mississippi in a steamer, for the township where he had planned for himself a domestic paradise. He was now among strangers, and felt that death was nigh. The Swiss emigrants treated him with that thoughtful, zealous tenderness which springs from genial hearts, deeply imbued with the religious sentiment. One wish of his soul they could not gratify, by reason of their ignorance. Being too weak to hold a pen, he earnestly desired to dictate to some one else a letter to his mother and betrothed. This Capt. T. readily consented to do ; and promised, so far as in him lay, to carry into effect any arrangement he might wish to make.

Soon after this melancholy duty was fulfilled, the young sufferer departed. When the steamboat arrived at its final destination, the kindhearted Capt. T. made the best arrangements he could for a decent burial. There was no chaplain on board ; and unused as he was to the performance of religious ceremonies, he himself read the funeral service from a book of Common Prayer, found in the young stranger’s trunk. The body was tenderly placed on a board, and carried out, face upwards, into the silent solitude of the primeval forest. The sun verging to the west, cast oblique glances through the foliage, and played on the pale face in flickering light and shadow. Even the most dissipated of the emigrants were sobered by a scene so touching and so solemn ; and all followed reverently in procession. Having dug the grave, they laid him carefully within, and replaced the sods above him ; then sadly and thoughtfully they returned slowly to the boat. Subdued to tender melancholy by the scene he had witnessed, and the unusual service h had performed, Capt. T. avoided company, and wandered off alone into the woods. Unquiet questionings and far-reaching thoughts of God and immortality lifted his soul towards the Eternal ; and, heedless of his footsteps, he lost his way in the windings of the forest. A widely devious and circuitous route brought him within sound of human voices. It was a gushing melody taking its rest in sweetest cadences. with pleased surprise, he followed it, and came suddenly in view of the new-made grave. The kindly Swiss matron and her innocent daughter, had woven a large and beautiful cross from the broad leaves of the papau-tree, and twined it with the pure white blossoms of the trailing convolvulus. They had placed it reverently at the head of the stranger’s grave ; and kneeling before it, chanted their Evening Hymn to the Virgin. A glowing twilight shed its rosy flush on the consecrated symbol and the modest, friendly faces of those humble worshippers. Thus beautifully they paid their tribute of respect to the unknown one, of another faith, and a foreign clime, who had left home and kindred to die among strangers, in the wilderness.

How would the holy gracefulness of this scene have melted the hearts of his mother and his beloved.

Lydia Maria Child, 1870

Lydia Maria Child, 1870

TEARS.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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.

AFFECTING STORY.

FLOW, tears ! Ye have a spell,
A gentle spell, which weaves
Itself o’er my sad heart,
And it dull woe relieves.

Ye are all eloquent,
In your soft, silent flow ;
when, lone and musingly,
I feel my heart sink low.

Ye soothe the aching sense
Of pain, which pressing weights
Upon the troubled soul,
And all its youth decays.

Ye are not for the gaze
Of the cold, scornful eye ;
No mocking look shall rest,
None know, – but purity.

And ye shall mingle
With the dews of even ;
Soft pity may descend
And bear ye up to heaven ;-

May tell how I have wept,
Have agonized alone,
While “rainbow-tinted hopes”
Have faded, one by one,

And, sadder far than all,
The burning anguish wrung
by sin, whose withering touch
Upon my spirit hung ;

And left her taint accurst ,-
Grieving the Holy Dove,
Which fondly hovered there,
An earnest of God’s love.

Flow, tears ! flow on, and calm
This troubled, aching breast ;
your mournful tenderness
Lulls agony to rest.

hope gushes with you ;
Telling of that fair land
Where tears are wiped away
For aye, by God’s own hand.

I will believe, and live.
The cross of Christ I take;
My God accepts my tears
For his dear Jesus’ sake !

AFFECTING STORY

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

AFFECTING STORY.

EVERY one who has visited Washington, I suppose, has spent half an hour before the picture of the Embarkation of the Pilgrims, on the panel in the rotunda. Painters have told me that it was the best picture there ; and others, whose connoiseurship is that of feeling, merely, have confessed to daily and nightly hauntings for many weeks, from some of its figures and groupings.
The tender sadness on the meek face of the invalid boy, and the saintly goodness making that of his mother beautiful, with all its wrinkles, contrast harmoniously ; as, indeed, is there not always harmony in the antithesis of objects beautiful in themselves ; with the youthful and stately figure of Lady Winslow, and the proud, soldiery seeming of the handsome Miles Standish.
But it is, I believe, the exquisite countenance of Rose, his young and lovely wife, through whose incomparable eyes speaks the whole soul of feminine constancy, tenderness, and trust, and on whose forehead rests some rays from the far-off crown of martyrdom, –that elected heritage of womanhood,–which attracts all regards, and conquers all hearts ; consecrating, in a thousand memories, shrines where its remembrance may keep its throne, “a think of beauty,” and “a joy forever !”
Mr. Weir, the artist, received, as perhaps all your readers know, ten thousand dollars form the government for his picture. This sum he invested, entire, for the use of his three beautiful children . Alas for his poor hear, his poet heart ! It was his lot to survive them all. When they were dead, a sentiment of religious delicacy prevented his appropriating this fortune, which reverted to him from his children. We can all understand the feeling ; it is the same which keeps sacred the wardrobe of the little lost darling, through the widowed mother must toil the later, of a winter’s night, to clothe here younger children ; the same that guards untouched, in the old homestead, the library and the laboratory, now useless, of the dead student, through hist sturdy brothers must labor the harder through the long summer days, to redeem the holy extravagance. But the bereaved father bethought him of a worthy use, to which he would consecrate this ownership, sanctified by their brief inheritance. Having chosen a lovely, mountain-shadowed knoll, in a rural village by the Hudson, he built thereon a commodious house of worship, which he named the “Church of the Holy Innocents.” Other children, who should at the font be baptized into His name, who was the friend of children ; priests, who should at that altar take “vows of God” upon them ; lovers, who should there promise to each other a lifetime of mutual help and mutual love ; the dead, over whose clay the solemn words of burial, “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” should there be spoken ; these were to be the legatees of the artist’s children.
Is it not a “touching poem,” this offering which love and grief have had on the altar of faith and charity ?
It is easy to believe these children must have been fair and lovely ; and, with the image of Rose Standish in our thoughts, to fancy their mother most beautiful and good. Indeed, I cannot conceive the artist could have painted such a face, except as the portrait, in form or in soul, of the woman that he loved. For it is not a sister’s, nor a daughter’s face, –there is something widely different in the tender meanings clustering around that beautiful mouth, and in the earnest, — oh! that word is week ! the intense devotion and truthfulness of those wonderful, upward-glancing eyes. It needs not the manly figure by her side, nor the familiar touch of her slender hand upon his shoulder, to tell us that Rose Standish is a bride.
Mr. Weir’s church, half buried in summer foliage, when we saw it, is a beautiful specimen of rural architecture, and its bell has a tone very musical and sweet. This is as we should have chosen. Let beauty and melody hang the garland and the lyre over the “high places” hallowed by the affections, –let them adorn and dignify the altars where the tender voices of religion and desire whisper hopefully of a reunion. It is their true apostleship on earth.

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MY MOTHER.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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 MOTHER.

I THINK of thee, my mother, in my sad and lonely hours,
And the thought of thee comes o’er me, as the breath of
summer flowers.
Like the haze upon the ocean, the zephyr on the lea,
As the fragrant air of evening, is the thought of thee to
me.

I dream I hear thy voice, mother, and see thy gentle
smile,
It cheers me in my waking hours, and keeps my lips from
Guile ;
For oft when sin had lured me erring feet astray,
I’ve thought I heard thee, pointing thy child the better
way.

But many a tear has passed, mother, since, numbered with
the dead,
They placed thy lovely form, mother, within earth’s clay-
cold bed.
And many a change has come upon thy little ones, since
there
They bowed in speechless agony, and breathed their
orphan prayer.

I miss thee more each year, mother; I miss thee more
to-night,
As thoughts of thee rush o’er my soul, with vivid mem-
ory’s might;
The death-bed and the mourning friends, the last farewell
and kiss,
Are present, as if scarce an hour had passed since that and
this.

A child may soon forget her grief; the very stroke whose
power
Has robbed her of some priceless gem, is fleeting as the
hour.
Oft in thy room, my merry feet have sought some place
to hide,
Nor thought, amid my childish glee, ‘t was there my
mother died.

In death, thy child was placed within thine aged mother’s
arms,
For sure thou wast that she would keep thy darling from
all harms ;
And faithfully she cherished her, that nature good and
mild,
for the love she bore thee, mother, was lavished on thy
child.

But soon she passed away, mother; God claimed her as
his own,
‘Twas meet that she should pass to him, yet it left us sad
and lone.
And when they all were weeping, they little daughter wept,
But it all seemed strange to me, mother; I thought she
only slept.

She slept the sleep of death, mother; and they laid her in
her grave,
And the long grass grows about it, and the wild flowers
gently wave
O’er the head of the loved sleeper, whose spirit is at rest,
In the bosom of her Saviour, in the mansions of the blessed.

Victorian carved Whitby jet mourning brooch for a lost mother.

Victorian carved Whitby jet mourning brooch for a lost mother.

http://www.rubylane.com/item/596915-PT00222/Victorian-Whitby-Jet-Mourning-brooch

DYING RECOLLECTIONS.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

DYING RECOLLECTIONS.

“GIVE me”, said Herder to his son, in the fevered exhaustion of sickness, “give me a noble thought, to refresh me withal !” But what is that, for he most part, we are found giving to our sick fellow-mortals, when the shining dew on their life has become gray ? Instead of bright pictures from the sky, to shine through the darkness of death, we accumulate a host of unfamiliar and unkindly images around the bed of sickness. When a man is healthy, and strong, and able to endure much sorrow, we lay light burdens on his back ; but when he is weak, and sickly, and the nerve of his being is unstrung, we seem to expect that at such a moment he shall be best able to hear all our sorrows and all our lamentations ; we behave as if it were the duty of the dying man to elevate us, not our duty rather to support him, In the confined sick-room there stands no soul that has strength sufficient to wake a passing smile upon that nerveless, colorless countenance ; but only confessors, and lawyers, and physicians, are there, giving instructions about everything ; and friends and relations, who can do nothing but lament. There is no individual in this room, that stands elevated above his own private cause of grief upon a position from which he irrigates the thirsty soul of the sick man with the fresh spring-waters of old reminiscences, and unites these with the flowings of ecstatic anticipations that sometimes open up to the dying the vista of a future life. But the bed of the sick man is made literally a coffin without a lid ; or life is made to assume to the departing a false importance, by weeping lies of recovery, or loud voices of lamenting ; and the bier is made to show like a bloody scaffold ; and into the ears which remain alive after the eyes are dead, the sharp discords only of life are sent, – whereas, life ought rather to breathe itself away, amid the falling echo of ever deeper and ever sweeter tones. And yet there is this one good thing about men, – that they rejoice more in one small good office done to the dying, than in twenty kindnesses shown to the living ; perhaps partly for this reason, because only in the latter case have they opportunity to eke out the measure of their defective benevolence ; and yet we mortals ought daily to bear in mind, how easily every joy that is given or received may prove to be the last.
In this fashion, our exit out of life would, for the most part, prove even a more painful thing than our entry to it, did not good Mother Nature here as in other things smooth the way before us, by bearing her sleeping children in her arms, softly cradled from the one world into the other. For in the hours that immediately precede death, she is wont to cover the dying with a mail of indifference towards everything they leave behind them upon earth ; and when the critical moment approaches, (as the information of those who have been wakened from the semblance of death, and gestures and tones of many dying persons, sufficiently testify,) she causes a flood of joyous waves to swim round the brain of the mortal, comparable to nothing on earth but those feelings of deep delight in which persons who have been magnetically dead bathe themselves, while convalescent. But of these ecstasies of the dying we have only a fragmentary and imperfect knowledge ; they may be far higher than we have any conception of. There is an important universal history yet to be written, – the history of the dying ; but upon this earth the rolls of that history will not be unfolded.

Photo courtesy The Burns Archive.

Photo courtesy The Burns Archive.

NOT HERE, BUT RISEN. By Mrs. Susan Jewett.

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 by American and European authors and some surprising famous names. 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. 

 An interesting aspect of transcribing this beautiful book is that I come across authors’ names to be able to investigate. More often than not, the male authors have some sort of digital presence. It is possible to find them. However, when I come across a female author, such as this talented Mrs Susan Jewett, there is very little trace. If you find her or know her, please let us know. One would imagine that there would be more information about her considering she authored this quite incredible biography.

NOT HERE, BUT RISEN. By Mrs. Susan Jewett.

THEY’RE near us when we heed them not, –
The loved, the lost, the ever dear ;
But not when we are bowed with grief
Are spirits of the blessed most near :
For when they burst their earthly chain,
They soared beyond the reach of pain.

Not when in agony we bow,
Or faint and tremble with alarm,
Or closer hug our wretchedness,
Than hopes which have a healing balm ;
For groans of sorrow and unrest,
Rack not the spirits of the blessed.

To time, to earth, to sin, belong
The thousand ills that make us weep, –
The cankering cares from which we long
To rest in death’s unbroken sleep;
Despair and fear can never move
The souls that trust in perfect love.

And would it make the anguish less,
Or help us better to endure,
If souls, enfranchised from distress,
Still wept the ills they could not cure ?
No ; rather let our solace be,
Though we are fettered, they are free.

In love, in hope, in patient trust,
In aspiration pure and high,
In spirit-worship and in prayers,
That have no language but a sigh ;
In earnest seeking after light,
In earnest striving for the right ;

In every great and generous thought,
In every throb of sympathy,
Our hearts are drawn more near to heaven,
Where live the friends we long to see ;
And closer bonds our souls entwine,
Of love, renewed by life divine.

Then seek them not ‘mid clouds and gloom,
Or tears that dim the feeble light ;
But strive, though with a faltering wing,
To follow in their path of light :
Grief is of time, but hope a joy,
Nor time nor death can ne’er destroy.

Then faint not in the ” march of life, ”
Nor hang thy drooping eyelids more ;
‘Tis hope, ’tis faith, ’tis trust in God,
That will the lost again restore :
would we with them in union blend,
Our souls must rise, not theirs descend.

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