Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

LINES TO HIS FAVORITE AUTHORS.

425

Magee (the old Scotch divine) all day, and feel refreshed by it. Those old authors please me best, after all, there is so much in them.'

“Soon afterwards one of his daughters wrote and read to him the following lines, which,, as they so nearly expressed his views, afforded him great entertainment:

"THE OLD THEOLOGIAN TO HIS FAVORITE AUTHORS.

• All the day, in my study, dear Dr. Magee,
How delighted I've lingered and listened to thee;
'Tis not often an author refreshes me so,
Save those worthy old friends that I knew years ago.

* True, their pages are yellow, and some of them torn;
True, their bindings are blackened, and loosened and worn;
And the style is old-fashioned in which they are writ,
And they aim not to dazzle with fancy or wit.

. But strong sense, and sound learning, and piety shine,
With a clear, steady lustre, in every line.
They have found out the truth, and that truth they impart,
Of its power to the conscience, its life to the heart.

"Lo! John Calvin, the spirit so mighty and bold,
Who made way through the strong superstitions of old;
And in face of the sceptre, the crown, and the sword,
Struck its chains from the church, in the name of the Lord.

'Lo! our Edwards, who dwelt, like the prophets withdrawn,
In strange wilds, where the bear and the panther were born;
Yet with God for his teacher, so well was he taught,
That the ages and nations are heirs of his thought.

*There are Witherspoon, Bellamy, Hopkins, and Howe;
There are Owen, and Baxter, Scott, Mason, and thou,
Reverend friend, Dr. Emmons, so ancient and wise,
The cocked hat on thine head, the quick light in thine eyes.

I have read modern authors, and some I admire;
I have bowed to their learning, and caught of their fire;
But I turn from them all, to the friends of my youth,
For the lessons most noble, of duty and truth.

6

As but lately I passed through a gallery light,
And beheld the old portraits, in frames new and bright,
Of those friends that I knew in my earlier days,
Their broad brows to my eyes seemed encircled with rays.

• And I blessed the kind hand (Dr. Sprague, it was thine),
As I lingered to gaze on each loved old divine,
Which had rescued their pictures from spiders and mould,
And had hung them alost, for the world to behold.'

sense

“Dr. Woodbridge was very regular in maintaining family prayers, both morning and evening. The evening service was held immediately after tea, that all might be present, and sufficiently wakeful to give attention. The Bible was read through in course at morning prayers, and the chapter was often talked over. The prayer that followed was short, but earnest, appropriate, and comprehensive. The whole service was as far as possible from being formal, though decorous and reverent.

“ The domestics, whether Protestant or Catholic, were required to be present. This was understood before they entered the family, so that there was no persecution about it. I do not remember that any one evor objected to come.

“ The Doctor continued the practice of asking a blessing before the meal, and returning thanks at its close. A Frenchman, in the family temporarily, was asked how he liked his residence there. 'O,' said he, very well; only too much pray.'

Says his daughter : “My father could not divest himself of of responsibility in regard to every member of his household. He felt a personal interest in their welfare both temporal and spiritual.'

“ To illustrate this, I will mention one or two facts.

“A young Irish girl, who was employed as housemaid when we lived in New York, went one day to a shop on Chatham Street, to make some purchases. The clerk who waited upon her was very importunate that she should buy a certain dress which she had looked at, but did not want. As, however, she was a little confused, he obtained possession of her money, and insisted that she should take the dress, saying that it should be delivered at our door.

“As a last resort she hastened back, and arriving there before him. complained of the treatment which she had received. When, therefore, the clerk appeared with the package, he was at once confronted by my father, who addressed him thus: “Are you not ashamed of yourself, in trying to impose upon this poor girl ? But she has friends, I can tell you. Go immediately back and bring her money, or I will have an officer of the law after you.' The rascal quickly disappeared, and returned promptly with the money.

“I will mention another case in point. At a time when my mother, was in pressing need of domestic assistance, she received into her kitchen an Irish woman with a very troublesome little boy.

“ Patrick was always in the wrong place; and so one day he ran into the street, and while playing in the road, the wheel of a wagon passed over him. He was taken up frightened, but not much hurt. However, as it was thought he must have received some internal injury, the doctor was quickly sent for. · Doctor,' said my father, with tears in his eyes, do the best that you can for Pat; as much as you would for my own child.'

“Papa was very careful to do full justice to those whom he employed, seeming never to forget that they were partakers of the same nature

HIS VIEWS OF FEMALE EDUCATION.

427

with himself, and were liable to the same sense of humiliation which he might have suffered in their place. I think, also, that he always remembered that Christ had died alike for all, and that all were bound to the same eternity.

As my father had so many daughters, he had, of course, decided views in regard to the education and career of women. In some respects, his opinions were conservative on these points, because he adhered closely to the Bible. But although he did not wish them to become public characters, he desired that they should be highly intellectual, and that they should cultivate in themselves such aims and purposes as were worthy of their immortal nature. He could not endure to hear women commended merely for beauty or personal adornment. This he considered degrading to them, and savoring more of the Mahometan than the Christian. In the later years of his life he sympathized with the trials of women more than ever, and in one of his last conversations with my brother expressed this sympathy in his own earnest way.

"* There are many things,' he said, that men can do, which are unsuitable for women, so that they are necess

essarily more helpless; but,' he added, with vivacity, they are just as smart.'

“He once told me, I thought with unusual candor, that his sister had as much strength of mind as any member of the family.

“In the division of property, he thought, with his father, that helpless daughters should be first provided for, after the mother; and acted upon that principle.

"Believing, as he did, the Bible assertion that human nature in its present condition is very bad, he sought to deliver his children from the miseries of dependence.

" Solomon has declared that “wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence;' and the barbarian legislators of an earlier age understood this when, in seeking to enslave women, they deprived them of both these advantages. To such a lawmaker we might properly apply the language of Holy Writ: •Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they who pass by the way do pluck her?'

" . It must be confessed, my child,' said my father to one of my sisters, .that women have rather a hard lot in this world; but perhaps,' he continued, “it is more than made up to them hereafter; for I think it probable that there will be more women in heaven than men.'

“ But I pass to other themes. As the larger part of our family circle were after a time married and separated from each other, the old homestead became a place of rendezvous. In summer the house was generally crowded with children and grandchildren. And what a buzzing of voices ! what animated looks and gestures, what lively sallies were called forth!

“Our father often looked around the large circle with an air of satisfaction, and exclaimed, “Is it possible that all these are my posterity ?'

[ocr errors]

To which mamma once made answer, “With my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands.'

“One Sabbath morning, when several branches of the family were represented in the church, papa preached from this text: ‘I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.'

"In speaking of the Sabbath, I would here say, that there is a peculiar interest connected with that holy day, as it was spent in my early childhood.

“ Some of the old Puritan customs were then retained, which were afterwards abandoned; and as the congregation then gathered from all parts of the town, it was a pleasant sight to see them meet in God's house. These Sabbaths were days to be long remembered. Let me recall them.

“On the twilight of Saturday the children were all bathed, and clean garments were laid beside their beds for the next morning.

“All kinds of work were then put out of sight, and the evening was spent in the old Puritan fashion, as holy time. It was the hour of preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.'

“How pleasantly and solemnly the sound of the church-bell fell on the ear, on the morning of the holy day. The green common was then covered with people from all parts of the town, who flocked together to the house of God. The children followed our mother to the ample pew beneath the pulpit, which had been set apart for the minister's family.

“At the close of the morning service, many of the people who lived at a distance, came to our house to rest during the intermission. On summer days the doors were all thrown open, and groups of old and young persons collected in the parlor, the kitchen, and on the doorsteps.

“How gravely they sat and talked, eating at the same time the cake and cheese which they had brought in their red silk handkerchiefs. Even the children seemed to remember the fourth commandment, and were quiet and orderly.

“ The old people (I remember studying the lines in their faces with childish wonder), how pious was their discourse!

“From room to room, in the midst of these various groups, my mother walked about, with pleasant and cordial greetings, inquiring of one after an absent child; of another, after a sick parent or friend; towards all, manifesting that kindly interest which she constantly felt and cherished.

“When the public services of the Sabbath were over, all the family were brought together in the parlor, to be taught the Assembly's Catechism, or listen to loud reading. Sometimes our mother read one of Jay's sermons, of which she was very fond; sometimes a selection was made by our father, keeping in view instruction rather than amusement.

A PLEASANT PICTURE.

429

seen.

The day was closed with prayer at the going down of the sun; after which we were permitted to roam in the garden or orchard, before retiring.

“We children were often seriously affected during our childhood and youth. It could not be otherwise in such an atmosphere. Several members of the family made a profession of religion early, and all at length became members of the visible church. If any of us fail of heaven, it will not be the fault of those who were the guardians of our infancy.

“My father had not such constant delight in the beautiful and sublime in nature as many have, his mind was so often absorbed with abstract thought. But occasionally it seemed as if he had just opened his eyes to such scenes, and took them in, for the first time, with a rapt surprise. Whenever that occurred, we saw all objects as he saw them. The flash of joy passed from his mind to ours. The awe which he felt was communicated to us. It was that prophetic look which seemed to have penetrated to the inner shrine of nature, and reflected all it had

I remember once, in the early summer, when my mother with several daughters had gone into the garden to trim the shrubbery, papa soon joined us, and as the morning was uncommonly lovely, the peace of nature seemed to enter his soul.

“ The old place was very beautiful at that season of the year. The cone-shaped pear-trees were white with blossoms to their topmost boughs. The cherry-trees were also in full bloom. The tulips and white lilies were near their time of glory; and little brown birds were building their nests in mamma's favorite elm-tree, at the north-west corner of the house.

" How sweetly our dear father then talked with us about the innocent nature of the employment in which we were engaged! “It was, he said, the natural and appropriate occupation of the human race, as it was that of our first parents before the fall in Eden.'

“At another time he had gone with my mother on a short journey in a private carriage. Returning, a storm overtook them on the further side of Westfield Plains. They went into a house for shelter, and late in the afternoon, as the storm had passed, they again took their carriage and started for home. But lo! as they rode forward, a wonderful rainbow was right before them, on the opposite side of the plain. Both extremities of the arch seemed to touch the earth, and the rich grass covered with raindrops reflected its brilliant hues. A moist radiance from the skies’ filled the atmosphere. It was, they said, like nothing terrestrial, but seemed the very gate of heaven. They returned home glowing, yet solemnized with the unwonted splendor of the scene, and their description was so vivid as to leave on one mind, at least, a permanent impression.

“ That picture holds a sacred place in the chambers of imagery, which I approach with reverence in thoughtful moments, and reverently

« ElőzőTovább »