Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

by the best education which this country afforded, had pursued its scientific researches in Europe, and become exalted both by extensive knowledge, and rational piety. It was his pleasure to employ his wealth in the relief of indigence, and the encouragement of enterprise. He was early revered as the patron of merit in obscurity, and his name is still enrolled by the grateful town which gave him birth, as first in the list of its benefactors. United in the warmth of his earliest affections to a kindred spirit, they shared all the blessings of a perfect union of hearts.

Many years of conjugal felicity had been their portion. But she was at length appointed to watch the progress of a protracted and fatal disease, and to mark with still keener anguish the mental decay of him who had been her instructer and counsellor. "I have seen an end of all perfection," she said, as his strong and brilliant powers yielded to the sway of sickness and when she bent in agony over his grave, she put her trust in the widow's God. The earlier part of their union had seen three sons rising like olive-plants around their table. The eldest exhibited at the age of seven a precocity of intellect, and maturity of character, which at once astonished and delighted the beholder. To store his memory with moral and sublime passages, to sit a solitary student over his book, to request explanations of subjects beyond his reason, were his pleasures. The sports of his cotemporaries were emptiness to him, and while he forebore to censure, he withdrew himself from them. Within his reflecting

Maker.

mind, was a desire to render himself acceptable to his Though younger than the Jewish king, who, at the age of eight years, separated himself for the search of wisdom, he began like him to "seek the God of his Fathers." When he requested from his parents their nightly blessing to hallow his repose, he often inquired, with an interesting solemnity, "Do you think that my Father in Heaven will be pleased with me this day?' To a soul thus embued with the principles of religion, it was sufficient to point out that the path of duty was illumined with the smile of the Almighty, and to deter from the courses of evil, by the assurance of his displeasure.

The second had a form of graceful symmetry, and a complexion of feminine delicacy. The tones of his voice promised to attain the melting richness of his mother's, as a bud resembles the perfect flower. He possessed that rapid perception, and tremulous sensibility, which betoken genius. His character, even in infancy, displayed those delicate involutions, and keen vibrations of feeling, which mark the most poignant susceptibility of pleasure or of pain. His was the spirit on which the unfeeling world delights to wreak her tyranny; as the harsh hand shivers the harp-strings which it has not skill to controul.

The youngest, just completing his third year, was the picture of health, vigour and joy. His golden curls clustered round a bold forehead which spoke the language of command, like some infant warrior. His erect head, and prominent chest, evinced uncommon strength, and so full

of glee was this happy and beautiful being, that the mansion or its precincts rang, from morning till night, with the clamour of his sports, or the shouts of his laughter. Active, unwearied, and intelligent, he seemed to bear, within his breast, and upon his brow, the consciousness that he was one of the lords of creation.

On these three objects the affection and solicitude of the parents centered. Often they spake to each other of their differing lineaments of character, consulted on the methods of eradicating what was defective, or confirming what was lovely, and often contemplated the part they might hereafter act in life, with a thrilling mixture of fear and of hope. But for this anxiety it had been written, in the infinite councils, that there was no need. In one week, all these beloved beings were laid in the grave. In one week, and the arms of the mourning parents remained forever vacant. Death, whose "shadow is without order," respected in this awful instance the claims of priority. He first smote the eldest at his studies. His languishing was short. "I go to my Father in Heaven," he said, and without a struggle ceased to breathe. His disease was so infectious, that it was necessary to commit him immediately to the earth.

As the bereaved parents returned from his grave, of whom they had said, "this same shall comfort us concerning all our toil," they found the second, bowing, like a pale flowret upon its broken stem. Pain fed upon his frail frame," as a moth fretting a garment." Anguish visit

[ocr errors]

ed, and tried every nerve, yet, if he might but lay his head upon his mother's bosom, he would endure without repining. Tears quivered in his soft, blue eyes, like dew in the bell of the hyacinth, if she were no longer visible. Yet, when in a moment she returned, a smile of the spirit would beam through, and rule the convulsions of physical agony. "My son," said his father, "let us be willing that you should go to your Saviour, and to your brother in heaven." But the suffering child, who could imagine no heaven brighter than the indulgence of his own young affections, sighed incessantly as death approached. Yet his convulsed brow resumed partial tranquillity, when his mother's voice poured forth, in trembling, agonizing harmony, the sacred music of the hymn he loved. It was then that he breathed away his spirit, fancying that angels hastened him to rise, and learn their celestial melodies. But, ere his heart ceased to throb, the destroyer had laid his hand upon the youngest, "the beautiful, the brave." Unconsciousness miserably changed a countenance, which was ever lighted by the glow of intelligence, or the gladness of mirth. Unbroken sleep seemed settling without resistance upon him, who had never been willing even for a moment to be at rest. Yet nature on the eve of dissolution aroused to an afflicting contest with her conqueror. Cries and struggles were long and violent, and now and then a reproachful glance would be bent upon his parents, as if the victim wondered they should lend no aid to his conflict.

Cold, big drops started thick upon his temples, and his golden hair streamed with the dews of pain. It was a fearful sight to see a child so struggle with the king of terrors. At length with one long sob he yielded, and moaning sank to rest.

The little white monument still marks the couch of the three brothers. Its silence is eloquent on the uncertainty of the hopes of man-on the bitterness that tinges the brightest fountains of his joy.

Such were the adversities to which the heart of Madam L- had been subjected. Her blossoms had been riven from her, as a fig-tree shaketh its untimely figs before the blast. An affecting memorial of her feelings, at this period, is still preserved, where, in a poetical form, she pours out her sorrows before Him who had afflicted her, and urges with the most afflicting earnestness, that her spirit may not lose the benefits of his discipline. After the calmness of resignation had soothed the tumult of woe, she seldom spoke of her griefs. She kept them sacred for the communication of her soul with its Maker. Yet they diffused over her cheerful and faithful discharge of duty, a softness, a sympathy with those who mourned, a serene detachment of confidence from terrestrial things, which realized the tender description of a recent, moral poet :

"When the wounds of woe are healing,

"When the heart is all resign'd,

'Tis the solemn feast of feeling,

'Tis the Sabbath of the mind."

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »