W1147 ESSAY BY MARGARETTE BARKER LERNED [MCQUESTEN]
Jun 27 1825
From: Adams Female Academy , Londonderry, New Hampshire RAMBLE AMONG THE TOMBS
In one of my evening walks, I pafsed1 through a grave yard, in which, were many tombs, and one in particular attracted my attention. It was simply constructed, and had an appearance of neatness, one large weeping willow hung over, it and it excited in the beholders melancholy sensations.
I was thus wandering from tomb to tomb, musing on what I had seen, when I distinctly heard the cries of some children, and on looking around, two sweet girls were reclining on a tomb, and on seeing me they arose to depart but I immediately spoke and they with some reluctance came to me. Grass bonnets were thrown carelessly on their heads, and mourning robes adorned their graceful figures. They wiped away those tears which had flowed without restraint, and related their melancholy tale, as follows.
Our father died when we were quite young, and left a family of two sons, and two daughters. My mother was very much overcome with this severe trial, and this afflictive event of Divine Providence promoted her spiritual, and temporal good. In a short time however, she became melancholy, and sad, from another circumstance. My oldest brother was so determined to take a voyage, that even the persuasions of an almost broken hearted mother could not deter him from this wild idea; but when he started bade us a last adieu, when he last embraced us, and dashed away the trembling tears which filled his eyes, and he sailed July 5th 1822. The next April, the vessel was wrecked, and my brother was cast upon an uninhabited island, where he became a prey to those hideous monsters, which rove for some helpless being to devour for food. This was fatal news to my mother, who was so overcome, that in a short time she had every appearance of consumption. Altho' our friends tried to dissuade her from this opinion, we could see her fail every day; but like a rose whose sweetness remains when its beauty has faded, her excellencies were exhibited to every one, until her valuable life was ended. The chiming of that bell you heard over yonder hill proclaimed her departure; we have consigned her to her lowly bed, but we mourn not for her as lost, she was wholly resigned to meet her God, and those seeds of virtue she early implanted in our breasts, can never be forgotten.
My remaining brother is a student at Y. C., he will remain until he has completed his education. By my mother's industry and prudence, she has been enabled to bestow upon us numberless advantages, yet the obligations we owe to parents are unceasing, never can we repay them for their kindness to us, they are ever watching some favourable opportunity to set us forward in the world, to improve our judgement, understanding, & manners, and it should always be our duty to honour them while living, that we never have occasion to regret, that we have treated them unkindly.
As I separated from those dear youths, the resplendent moon was rising in full majesty over a world rich with blessings of Heaven. This mournful tale so depressed my spirit, that I wandered, until I came to a venerable oak, where I sat down to enjoy the pleasing melancholy, arising from my own reflections. How often are the dearest friends separated, and the peace of families destroyed by cruel death, but at the same time their afflictions are for our real benefit. Without occasional disappointments, our imaginations would be so highly raised, as in a great degree to affect our happiness, we should not have that ardour which is excited by things new or unexpected. Ah! In yonder church yard lie the remains of thousands, who have left this vale of tears to meet an Almighty God; and death, the Insatiate Archer2 stands ready at the door to snatch the tender offspring from its mother's arms, or a dear parent from a family circle. Then how desirable that we should prepare for an unknown state of existence: for God hath said, we know not at what hour, the son of man cometh.
Margarette B. Lerned
Adams Female Academy,3
Londonderry, June 27, 1825
1 Margarette is using the now archaic "fs" construction for the "ss" sound, which we have transcribed as "ss" for ease of reading.
2 This is quoted from the poem "Night Thoughts" by Edward Young (1683-1765), see note at W1145.
3 For a note on Adams Female Academy, and on Margarette Barker Lerned, see W1100.