W1137 SCHOOL ESSAY BY MARGARET BARKER LERNED [MCQUESTEN]
Jul 7 1824
To: Margarette Barker Lerned [McQuesten]
From: [Adams Female Academy]1 Londonderry, New Hampshire
Beauty is an ornament which few possess. It does not lie wholly in the face, and form, but the most essential part is in the mind.
A person who is handsome, is not always pleased at flattery, for when that beauty is faded, the excellencies of the mind, far surpass it.
When we enter a cottage and behold health, virtue and innocence; we are pleased at once with the scene. There is a loveliness which excites in us, a considerable degree of animation.-
A mind engaged in devotedness to God, and in gaining useful knowledge, is of more value than any external ornament. A person who has external Beauty; and is vain, presumptuous, and liable to deceit, cannot be called beautiful.- In forming an opinion of the character of a person, we ought to look farther than the outward show; altho [sic] there is something in the eye, which portrays a lively countenance, and a good mind.
At an interview with a friend, or stranger, if she does not appear as accomplished as many, she may afterward gain our affections by many excellencies we thought her incapable of possessing.
A blossom soon decays; but there is a part of it which may live for sometime; it is so with beauty when it ceases to dazzle the eye, the mind appears. Like the medicinal plant, it may long flourish, and be useful in many of the various pursuits of life.3
Margarette B. Lerned4
Londonderry, July 7, 1824, 2 sheets.
1 For a note on Adams Female Academy see W1100.
2 The Whitehern archive contains three essays on Beauty written by Margarette B. Lerned (W1109, W1125, & W1137). W1109 is named: "A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever," and opens with: "The Love of the Beautiful is one of those finer susceptibilities of our nature, which is bestowed on individuals in very unequal degrees. The view of an object, which, in one mind, would awaken the liveliest emotions of admirations and delight, would by another, be regarded with indifference, or entirely escape observation." W1125 is named "The Love of the Beautiful," and it ends with: "The mind is moulded by the objects it contemplates. 'By contemplating beauty the character becomes beautiful.'"
3 In light of this series of essays on beauty and morality, we can ask ourselves: How many minds, through the years, have been molded by the beauty of Margarette's life writings? Her writings have been preserved after her death, through the two successive marriages of Dr. Calvin McQuesten and a total of three generations. When one considers the quality of her essays, and the tragedy of her short life, it is not surprising that Margarette's essays were carefully preserved by all who encountered them. Indeed, to touch her works is to be touched by them.
4 Margarette Barker Lerned (1809-41) lived in Hopkinton, N.H., and attended Adams Female Academy in 1824 and 1825. In 1824 she was fifteen years of age. When she graduated (1825) she become 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, just three days after the birth of her third child, who died six days later. One of her children survived to maturity, Calvin Brooks McQuesten (1837-1912).