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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THE REPOSE OF THE GRAVE. By Mrs. Ponsonby.

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 REPOSE OF THE GRAVE. By Mrs. Ponsonby.

WE shrink from the scorching heat of the sun, or we shiver beneath blasts that wither us as they pass. The noise of the world is wearying, – the noise and din of life. The flowers we gather have thorns, that pierce us ; and the tree under whose boughs we turn for shelter, falls to crush us. We take our way along crowded streets, meeting nothing but strange faces, that stare coldly as we pass, – no smiles, no welcome. We wander through greener paths, and perchance some are with us that we love, or think we love. That even in green paths there are briars to wound the foot, or the serpent’s shining track crosses the road we go, or those with us fall away, and utter loneliness is ill to bear. This is life, – but the dead have rest ! Where ends our path ? Taken through dreary, crowded streets, or through desolate byways, where is our bed at last ? For we cannot always wander, striving, struggling, hoping, fearing, for we scarce know what, – there must be some place of solace, where shall we find it ? Oh, weary, weary spirit, here ends thy toil ? – here, where the turf is so cool and green, – here, where the wind whistles so mournfully through the long, waving grass. Rest thee ; rest thee, – take thy mantle around thee ; lie down upon this ready earth, it will open and give thee rest. Art thou cold ? ask the cold sepulchre to take thee to its narrow chamber, thou wilt shiver in the winter wind no more. Doth thy brow ache with all this feverish excitement, – this whirlwind of sound and motion ? press it to the cool mantle of the tom ; let the air, grown damp and chill from passing over graves, fan thy burning check, – it will woo thee to stillness and to calm ; thou wilt forget the hot turmoil of existence, thy new home shall be so quiet.

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THE CHILD’S GRAVE.

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 poem below has no attribution. It does make another appearance in a later publication entitled Sacred and household poetry, gathered from the highways and byways of 1858 also published in Massachusetts (Boston). This latter book was compiled by Elizabeth Dana (born 1811) and it is noted that she was also the compiler of Life and letters of Miss Mary C. Greenleaf: Missionary to the Chicksaw Indians. Interestingly, when one searches for the Greenleaf publication there is no attribution to Elizabeth Dana, merely to author unknown, Mary herself, or the male publishers. Mary Coombs Greenleaf was born in 1800 in Newburyport, Massechusetts, which would make Elizabeth Dana her contemporary. I wonder if they were personal friends? I wonder if Elizabeth Dana was from the well-known Dana family of Boston? Whatever interesting links there are to this work, one thing is certain, it encapsulates the Victorian ideal of a blessed death. The euphemistic use of sleep for death is an ancient one, but the Victorians were committed to it, particularly in reference to children, and particularly expressed through art. I have also written of this subject in relation to a mourning locket in the MOLAM collection and its biblical references. Perhaps we need more solace when a child is lost, ’tis easier to entrust them to a blessed everlasting sleep.

THE CHILD’S GRAVE.

IT is a place where tender thought
Its voiceless vigil keepeth :
it is a place where kneeling love
‘Mid all its hope still weepeth :
the vanished light of all a life
That tiny spot encloseth,
Where, followed by a thousand dreams,
The little one reposeth.

It is a place where thankfulness
Its tearful tribute giveth,
That one so pure hath left a world
Where so much sorrow liveth :
Where trial to the heavy heart
its constant cross presenteth,
And every hour some trace retains,
For which the soul repenteth.

It is a place for Hope to rise
When other brightness waneth ;
And, from the darkness of the grave,
to learn the gift it gaineth
from him, who wept as on the earth
Undying love still weepeth ;
from him, who spake those blessed words,–
“She is not dead, but sleepeth ! ”

Maria Halloran, cabinet card, circa 1895. courtesy The Thanatos Archive. One image of many extraordinary early post mortem and unusual photography. To learn more of this fascinating visual history see The Thantos Archive membership site and Facebook page.

Maria Halloran, cabinet card, circa 1895. 

Image courtesy The Thanatos Archive. One image of many extraordinary early post mortem and unusual photography. To learn more of this fascinating visual history see The Thanatos Archive membership site and Facebook page.