W1154 ESSAY BY MARGARETTE BARKER LERNED [MCQUESTEN]
Oct 1 1825
From: Adams Female Academy, Londonderry, New Hampshire "Acquaint thyself with good, if then wouldst taste His works"
It was an autumnal evening! The landscape was divested of its foliage, and the resplendent moon shone with unusual brightness. The azure vault of heaven was bestudded with luminous bodies, which rendered the scene sublime beyond description. "Philomel sweet songstress of the night" had fled to her wintry residence, and no longer charmed the beholder. Nothing presented itself to divert the mind, but the barren prospect, and the sighing of the breezes, as they pafsed2 over the adjacent hills. For what is such an evening designed? Is it, that we frail creatures must be satisfied with its loveliness, without asking the important questions, who is the author of such inimitable beauty? Can a mind blest with sensibility and reason behold the fair works of creation, without indulging the hope of becoming a friend, and follower of the blessed Emmanuel? It was he, who adorned our hemisphere with all its sparkling, its heavenly bodies. It was he, who make pale Cynthia to rise, and illumine a world as transitory, as it is magnificent. As the "bright orb" of night continues to advance in her revolution, we see her increase in magnitude and resplendence; and does not the mind become more expanded, and more engaged, and surveys the wonderful works of nature? As it soars far beyond earthly things, is aspires to its all glorious Creator.
But let us compare the mild radiance of the eve, with the gloomy appearance of the preceding. The last rays of departing day were just fading from the landscape; the crimson tints of the western horizon were shrouded in blackness, and the vivid lightning shot forth in every direction. The howling wind penetrated every little crevice, and the thunder became more and more terrific. Only a few stares remained in the dark ethereal regions, and whatever once appeared lovely, was now lost in universal gloom, and the large drops of rain descended in profusion over the distant hills a light was occasionally distinguished from some lonely cottage; but the descending rain, concealed every other object from us.
What an hour for retrospection! What solemn ideas must now fill the breasts of them, who are aroused to the sublimity of the scene. The mind is no longer calm, but pervaded with emotion of no ordinary nature, being brought into action by the appearance of the present scene, and painful recollections of the past.
Margarette B. Lerned
Adams Female Academy3
Londonderry, October 1, 1825
1 Cowper, William (pron. Cooper) (1731-1800) Solicitor, poet and writer. He suffered from fits of depression and tried to commit suicide. He recovered and lived in retirement with a Morley Unwin and his wife Mary and continued to live with Mary when she was widowed. He wrote many poems, satires, and essays. His letters show him to be a simple, gentle, and humane personality. His poetry is notable as heralding a simpler and more natural style than the classical style of Pope and his inferior imitators (OCEL 200).
2 Margarette uses the now archaic "fs" construction for the "ss" sound, which we have altered for ease of reading.
3 For a note on Adams Female Academy, and on Margarette Barker Lerned, see W1100.