W1120 MARGARETTE BARKER LERNED [MCQUESTEN'S] VALEDICTORY ADDRESS
Nov 15 1825 [date estimated]1
From: Adams Female Academy, 2 Londonderry, New Hampshire
As the time draws near when we are to separate and retire to our several places of abode, I cannot well forbare [sic] indulging a few brief reflections upon the occasion. As we are now forming our education and character for after life, and as these will be useful to us only in proportion to the progress we make while acquiring them, it highly becomes us while young to improve our time to the best possible advantage. We should strictly guard against those excesses and vices which are spread thick around us and ever seek to avoid their baneful influence which so often proves fatal to the inadvertent and unwary mind and by virtuous habits and an upright and steady course of conduct secure to ourselves the esteem of our fellow creatures and the approbation of our creator.
During our probationary state on this mundane sphere we are frequently exercised with afflictions and sorrow. Our path is beset thick with dangers which at first are hidden from our view but rise in progression before us as we advance from the cradle to a state of manhood. The period of our lives at which we are about setting out to establish ourselves in the world, to conduct and manage our own affairs is peculiarly important and interesting. We launch forth perhaps with a favourable breeze fondly anticipating a prosperous voyage through life, our hearts beating high with youthful animation flushed with high wrought hopes of future prosperity and greatness, regaling ourselves among beds of roses, which the pleasing dreams of fancy have pictured to our view, and basking in the full sunshine of imaginary pleasure.
But perchance, ere we shall have hardly tasted this ideal happiness the winds of adversity begin to blow. The waves of trouble roll thick around us, the darkening clouds gather over our heads, and at once, all our promised joy and happiness, together with our possessions of fortune are wrested from us by the passing tempest and we have nothing to console us but our intellectual acquirement: these will abide with us as long as the exercise of our reason remains. It is therefore essentially necessary to our own interest and to the well being of society, that we avail ourselves of every opportunity in storing our minds with useful knowledge and not only that knowledge which is useful to us here but also that which will ensure our happiness beyond the grave.
Though the time of my acquaintance with you has been short yet I feel a pleasure in saying that during this period you have manifested towards me that friendship and social feeling which ennobles the character of youth; and in return you are presented with my unfeigned thanks and best wishes for your future prosperity and happiness.
It seems but as yesterday when first we assembled within this hall where we have walked in and out together in unity and friendship under the tuition of our able generous and highly esteemed instructors: yet three months has nearly elapsed and the time is at hand when, with emotions more easily imagined then described we are to bid each other farewell, and what renders the scene still more unpleasant is the reflection that to some of us it may be the last farewell, yes it is very probable that we who now form this social circle, shall not again enjoy the happiness of meeting together till we meet with the assembled universe in the eternal world. I end as if this were to be the case.3
I bid you adieu!
1 We have dated this Valedictory Address on the basis of the ten farewell notes that Margarette received in November 1825 (several have been transcribed on this site, W0548, W0561, W0538, W0560, W0563). She did go on to become a Primary School teacher, but it is not known at which school (W1112). It was likely in Hopkinton, her home town, since she continued to receive mail in Hopkinton until her marriage to Dr. Calvin McQuesten in November of 1831.
2 For a note on Adams Female Academy, and on Margarette Barker Lerned, see W1100.
3 This essay ends on a prophetic note. When Margarette graduated from school, she became a Primary School teacher until she married Dr. Calvin McQuesten at the age of twenty-two, in 1831. She died in 1841, at thirty-two years of age, and just three days after the birth of her third child, a boy, who also died six days later. Only one of her children survived to maturity: Dr. Calvin Brooks McQuesten (1837-1912).