« AnteriorContinua »
ded, 'I do not feel so well myself. I have a peculiar sensation in my breast.' I requested her to be as quiet as possible, and recommended that she should take a little laudanum, and lie down. She did so, and went to sleep; but in a short time awoke, feeling the same distress in her breast. I then immediately sent for Dr. Scudder and Mrs. Spaulding, supposing that she was about to be confined. She was partially relieved of the distress, but continued very uneasy, and unable to rest in any position. She frequently requested me to pray for her.
"Dr. Scudder arrived about two o'clock in the morning. He bled her freely, and she became so much relieved that she lay down quietly and said that she felt quite at ease. She took a little coffee; and before she went to sleep called me (as Mrs. Spaulding was taking care of her), and insisted on my lying down on the couch on account of my being unwell, saying at the same time, 'Do you know, my dear, how good it is to be perfectly at ease after severe pain?' I said, 'You feel thankful.' Her reply was, 'Yes, I think I do. How good is the Lord.' She then very pleasantly bade me good night, and fell quietly asleep. This was probably the last she knew on earth.
"After a short time Mrs. S. noticed a peculiarity in her breathing, and attempted to wake her. As she did not succeed, she called Dr. S. and myself; but as the sleep was quiet and pulse regular, there seemed to be no danger. We again left the room; but were soon called back to witness slight spasmodic affections of the eyes and face, which were, ere-long, followed by a convulsive fit. We were then greatly alarmed, and Dr. S. used every exertion to prevent a recurrence of the spasms. All was without success; and after two or three returns of the convulsions, the breath of my beloved wife grew shorter and shorter; and a little before six o'clock on Monday morning, the 14th instant, she peacefully resigned her spirit.
"The mortal remains were deposited in the church, near those of our dear George; thus was one babe by the side, and one in the arms, of the fond mother; and the spirits of six are, I trust, with her before the throne. O! how she loved them; how she prayed for them; how assured she was of their final salvation. She was indeed a precious mother, as well as wife and missionary.
"Our departed Harriet had for the last few months been fast ripening for heaven; especially since we heard of Charles's death. How severe was that stroke! But what rich blessings did it bring! It made her lean more entirely on her Saviour. She had, under that affliction, new and peculiar evidence of the life of faith in her soul. On Saturday evening she expressed her feelings in her diary; and on Sabbath noon renewed her covenant with God-a covenant inade twenty-five years before. This was her finishing work. It was the last time she wrote her name. As she had no opportunity for preparation after she became ill, it is most gratifying and consoling that she left these last memorials of her unwavering trust in God. She had, in every respect, set her 'house in order,' as though she had fully anticipated being thus removed, almost in an instant, from all these scenes. But I did not at all expect, nor was I at all prepared for the shock. Much had I anticipated my own death; little had I thought that the desire of my eyes would be taken away as with a stroke. Yet it has been done by the hand of a Father; I dare not, I cannot murmur. I bless his holy name that he took my beloved so gently, and that she met the enemy without knowing of his approach; for he was disarmed. Should the Lord
spare my life, I propose to send you another letter soon. I now write in haste, and with a bleeding heart."—pp. 458-463.
It would be gratifying to us, if our space would permit, to add several remarks on topics which have been suggested by this Memoir, and which seem to us of vital importance, both in respect to the successful prosecution of the missionary cause, and the happiness of those whose lives are devoted to it. But we must not trespass further upon the patience of our readers. We will, therefore, beg leave to call their attention only to the following sensible remarks of the author, in reference to females, who are meditating a personal engagement in the work of missions.
"It is to be feared that, for want of careful examination and prayer, some enter the path into which she was at length directed-no longer new and untrodden by American females-without sufficiently considering whither it leads, or the spirit of self-denial which it requires. They go out, cheered perhaps by the smiles of friends, and encouraged by the approbation of all the churches, without reflecting that soon, amidst a people of strange speech, they will see these smiles only in remembrance, and hear the voice of encouragement only in dying whispers across the ocean; and that then, nothing but a thorough conviction of being in the path of duty, nothing but the approving smile of Heaven, can keep them from despondency.
"It is time that the romance of missions was done away. It has been of use, perhaps, in exciting attention to the subject; but no attraction from its novelty, no impulse from its moral dignity, will bear up and carry forward any one, amidst long-continued labors of almost uniform sameness, which, though dignified as to their object, and their connection with the conversion of the world, are yet, in nearly all their details, most humble and forbidding. A young lady, who in this country may stand, perhaps, at the head of a large seminary, and take the lead in many benevolent operations, should either chasten her imagination, or invigorate her principles, before she goes forth to teach a few heathen children, or to exert an uncertain, it may be unacknowledged, influence over a handful of degraded and dark-minded female idolaters. By not doing this, some have unexpectedly found the sphere of their usefulness apparently contracted, rather than enlarged, by the sacrifices they have made; and in want of the excitement occasioned by the presence and the encouragement of fellow-Christians, have been in danger of sinking into hopeless inactivity.
"There are encouragements enough to any sacrifice-if what is done for him who bought us with his own blood can be called a sacrificebut, it must be from principle, and not mere impulse. Mere excitement will not answer. The mind must be kept steady; and there must be a willingness to take the more humble part of breaking up the fallow ground and casting in the seed, instead of gathering in the harvest, as well as some clear-sightedness of faith, to see in small beginnings germs of great and long increasing good. An ardent love for souls, and a deep sense of the constraining love of Christ, will support even a delicate female under any privation, and enable her to rejoice in tribulation also.""—pp. 67-69.
THE recent decease of a President of the United States, and the discourses which the event has called forth, afford a favorable opportunity for presenting to our readers some observations on the subject of funeral orations. One need not go far for the origin of funeral orations; it is found in human nature. To honor the illustrious dead; to bedew with tears of regret the silent urn of genius and virtue; to discharge the fulness of a breaking heart, in eulogiums upon deceased benefactors; and to rehearse their praises for the instruction of posterity, is the dictate of nature, no less than of enlightened social policy. Hence, we find that this has been the custom of nations in all ages. It seemed fit that the praises, which were originally offered to the great Benefactor, should be extended to those who had conferred important benefits on mankind.
In accordance with these sentiments, heroes and legislators were, next to the gods, the earliest subjects of panegyric; for, as Cicero observes in his pleading for Marcellus, "there is nothing in which men approach nearer to the gods, than in conferring safety on mankind." In the panegyris,—the great assembly of the people, their names were coupled with those of adored divinities; and games and festivals commemorated their virtues. Lysias, indeed, asserted, in presence of his assembled countrymen, that patriots, who had fallen in war, were worthy of the same honors as were offered to the immortal gods.* The glare of military fame, investing the person of the warrior with its bewitching splendor; the reverence inspired by the contemplation of great mental developments; the tender interest awakened by enlarged philanthropy; admiration of human power and grandeur; all had their share in the rise and prevalence of funeral eulogiums. Nations, of the remotest antiquity, rendered to their great men this
Lysiæ Funeb. Orat. in Cor. soc.
public homage of remembrance and veneration. It was the practice of the Chaldeans, Arabians, Egyptians, Persians, Chinese, Celts, Gauls, Germans, Scandinavians, and other northern tribes. The earliest eulogistic productions were poems, set to plaintive airs; and these, transmitted through successive generations, perpetuated the memory of illustrious men. The German bard and the Scandinavian scald were the eulogists of national bravery and virtue; and the fallen warrior, whilst the death-chill was settling upon his brow, was cheered with the thought, that his name would live in the minstrel's song.
As civilization advanced, the funeral oration assumed a more definite form; and, in the states of Greece, it reached a degree of excellence, which could have been attained only by the finest intellects of a free people. The liberties of Greece were to be maintained by the martial spirit of the people; and it was the policy of enlightened legislators to cherish this spirit, by demonstrations of public respect for those who had fallen in war. The Grecian warrior was taught to regard the service of his country, as his highest honor, and death on the field of battle, as the most glorious consummation of his mortal career. In accordance with a custom, which is said to have been introduced by Solon, the funerals of departed patriots were solemnized every four years. Their bones were borne to the public sepulchre, on a car shaded with cypress; and, as it passed along, garlands of flowers and crowns of laurel were thrown upon it. On reaching the sepulchre, an orator, selected for the honorable service, ascended the bema and pronounced the funeral oration.
During the earlier periods of Rome, the virtues of illustrious men were celebrated in hymns, sung at festivals; but, under the consular government, the practice of delivering funeral orations was introduced by Valerius Publicola, who, on the death of Brutus, in the war with the Tarquins, lauded the virtues of his deceased colleague, in a public discourse.† After this, the honor of a public eulogy was accorded by the nation to distinguished citizens; and this service, no less honorable to the orator than to the subject of his praises, was performed by the first magistrates of the republic. But, soon, ambitious and powerful families claimed for themselves a distinction which had hitherto been regarded as the tribute
* Pref. sur les oraisons funeb. de Fléchier. † Plutarch in V. Public.
of the nation to patriotism and virtue; and the funeral oration became only a part of that vain pomp, which seeks to flatter the pride of man, even amidst the most affecting mementoes of his frailty. Under the emperors, it sunk to a still lower degradation. Transferred by mercenary orators from the dead to the living, the panegyric became the instrument of the basest servility and the vilest flatteries; and the senatehouse, which had once been filled with the sage eloquence of Cato, and the indignant denunciation of Cicero, resounded with the glorification of such worthies as Caius Caligula and Claudius Nero !
In the Christian church, the honor of a funeral oration was, first, accorded to martyrs; afterwards, to others who had been distinguished, during life, for piety and devotion to the interests of religion. When, at length, Christianity triumphed, and sovereigns bowed in homage to the cross, it was deemed proper to honor, with this public manifestation of regard, those of them, who had been noted for extraordinary excellence. Thus, two kinds of eulogiums were authorized by the universal practice of the church; the panegyric of the saints, who were enrolled in the calendar, and proposed to the veneration of the faithful, and the funeral oration, which was pronounced at the obsequies of the great. It is to the latter kind, that we invite the attention of our readers. It reached the zenith of its glory in the age of Louis XIV. The French preachers of that period have left behind them productions worthy to be compared with the most finished creations of Grecian genius.
But the funeral orations of Greece and of France were widely different. The one was political in its bearings; the other, religious. The object of the former was the cultivation of the national spirit; that of the latter, the inculcation of solemn truths. The Grecian orator ascended the bema to fire his countrymen with the love of glory; the French preacher entered the pulpit to wean his countrymen from it. The former rehearsed the achievements and honors of the warrior to awaken ambition; the latter contrasted all these with the triumphs of death; and endeavored to recal mankind from the pursuit of worldly glory, by showing them the end of human greatness. A striking similarity pervades the Grecian orations; and, they are almost wholly destitute of particular application. The oration of Pericles, for instance,