網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

ever present to her mind. She told me all about him when I was a little child-how good he was--and how dearly she loved him. My last visit to her was in October, 1852. I passed some ten days at her house, in Madison, New Jersey. She then repeated to me the parting scene with her father, as quoted from the Messenger. Colonel Ebenezer Condict, her father, died of small-pox, in camp, April 2, 1777, near Mendham - Washington's headquarters being at Morristown. My mother was nine years old, and her father about forty.”'

In this connection, we may add another interesting record, taken from a foregoing page :

“My mother often saw General Washington while the army had their winter quarters at Morristown and vicinity, and she retains a distinct recollection of his appearance, manners, etc.

He occasionally visited at her mother's house, where was quartered General Gist, of the Maryland line. He sometimes dined there. He often amused himself with her as a playful child-spoke kind words to her about her father, whom he highly esteemed, and whose recent death (by small-pox in camp) he deeply deplored. She became greatly attached to him. His benevolent, affectionate, pleasant manner won her confidence, and caused her to forget the warrior in the friend. She mentioned numerous little events and incidents characteristic of the good man--such as a child nine or ten years old would be likely to notice and to be impressed with. She was present in the old Presbyterian Church at Morristown, when General Washington partook of the Lord's Supper with the Rev. Dr. Timothy Johnes and his people, as narrated by Dr. Hosack in his Life of De Witt Clinton. (See also Barber and Howe's Historical Collections of New Jersey, p. 388.) She described to me, with minute particularity and accuracy, the localities, seats, tables, persons present and officiating-differing much from present modes and forms, but corresponding exactly with the usages of that day, and of the early period within my own memory.

“She remarked that she had never seen a good—that is, a correct likeness of Washington. Perhaps her opinion would have been different, had she ever beheld the general at the head of his troops or on the battle-field. The portraits are all too grave, solemn, warlike, to accord with the smiling, cheerful, benignant countenance of the social guest and orphan's friend--as she had known and loved him.

“The American army, under Washington, had their winter quarters at Morristown and vicinity on two different occasions. The first time was in January, 1777, immediately after the battles of Trenton and Princeton. The second was during the winter of 1779–80."

But we pass to another touching illustration of those deep and tender sympathies which he cherished towards the objects of his love. It was when death threw its dark shadow over the loving and happy household. In 1844, the youngest child, Philip, a little more than nine years old, was taken sick, and died.

The following passage, indicating how deeply all the chords of parental affection had been touched, has seemed to us, on many accounts, to be one of the most characteristic, and, at the same time, one of the most beautiful, which we have seen from his pen. It reveals the whole heart of its author as one of exceeding tenderness. After describing the funeral services, from the text—"Is it well with the child ? And she answered, It is well”-he says :

“He was carefully deposited in the narrow house, between twelve and one o'clock. The grave was deep-lined with hard brick at bottom and sides - the coffin carefully deposited, with planks of cedar around it as an outer box-then all arched over with brick by the mason-so that no earth fell harshly upon the coffin-lid. It was a sweet-looking house--secure from the approach of envy or ambition-a calm resting-place-a bed of repose-never more to be disturbed or alarmed until the morning of the resurrection, when radiant in beauty he shall be raised 'a spiritual body.'

“He was the ‘loved one of the family. Oh! how we loved him! And oh! how he loved us! Docile, obedient, meek, gentle, mild, modest, unobtrusive, ingenuous, trustful, affectionate, dutiful, without guile or envy, ever ready to share his little treasures with his companions, or to bestow them on the needy. Beautiful and lovely-with a lofty forehead_bright, dark, speaking eye-chestnut hair--most expressive countenance-always joyous, but never boisterous. Sensitive, ethereal, intelligent-unsophisticated by evil communications—the con

stant associate and friend of his parents, brothers and sisters, he knew nothing of the selfish, artificial, deceptive or corrupting manners and influences to which most children are, sooner or later, exposed. He was perhaps kindly taken from the evil to come: and removed to a better school and a safer home!

“His moral and intellectual developments appeared extraordinary -almost angelic—at least to the partial eye of doting affection-and seemed to promise much for the future. Precious, noble, generous boy! We shall ne'er behold his like again. Oh, why given ? And oh, why taken away? He was our little Benjamin, the pet, perhaps the idol, of the family. He was younger, by ten years and two months, than any of our other children. He was singularly courteous and manly in his bearing, and in all his intercourse with society. He never failed to attract the special notice and admiration even of strangers, whenever seen by them. He was beloved by all the poor children of the neighbourhood. He was kind, obliging and grateful to everybody. Among the last of his spoken thoughts was the suggestion to his mother of plans of helping certain of his little friends whom he named. He seemed, during the whole period of his sickness, to think more of others than of himself. He expressed a wish to see God! Ah! whither has he gone? Where is he now? Shall we ever behold him again? Shall we go to him ? Months have passed away, (February, 1845,) but the bright vision is ever present--the sweet countenance of our loving boy is always before the eye of our hearts--we dream of him—sigh and weep in secret-glance at the numerous tokens of his taste and ingenious industry all over the house and grounds, in silence --we utter no words of sorrow or complaint the anguish of our spirit is not assuaged—the world around us wears the aspect of desolation and bereavement. A cherub in the skies is beckoning us upward and homeward to the peaceful mansions of the blessed—to the New Jerusalem, where God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away."

In little more than a year after this affliction, (December, 1845,) he was called on to pass through another and still greater bereavement. Margaret Elizabeth Lawrence, the wife of his youth, the mother of his children, for thirty-two years the companion of every joy and every sorrow of his heart, was removed from her earthly household to the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” It does not fall within our province here to speak of this eminently pious and gifted lady. Indeed, nothing more or better could be said, than to present in full, an obituary notice and tribute to her memory, prepared by himself at the time, and occupying thirty-two pages of his journal. We never met with a more strikingly beautiful and appropriate testimonial to the virtues of a wife and mother. We wish it were allowable to insert it entire in this memoir. But it was written, as he states, exclusively for the eye of his children, that "they might be able hereafter to comprehend more fully the worth of their incomparable mother;" and we do not feel justified in making any other use of it than that to which he had thus consecrated it. We may, however, without any breach of propriety, as illustrative both of her eminent Christian character, and his own feelings under such a loss, give a few paragraphs :

“In her youthful days, in the City of New York and elsewhere, she had seen enough of fashionable life to be able to estimate, at its fair value, the whole circle of its vanities and enchantments. She studiously and resolutely avoided every approach to its insidious, unchristian dominion. She kept her children from its allurements. She neither read, nor permitted them to read, novels, romances, or any books calculated to dissipate the mind or to weaken the moral and religious principles which she daily inculcated, and uniformly exemplified in her conduct. Graceful, accomplished, fascinating in her manners, and in all respects qualified to shine in the gay world-she renounced it wholly on assuming the obligations of a wife, mother and Christian. Nay, before this, at the age of eighteen, in prospect of her connection with a minister of the gospel, she resolved never more to frequent any party, or scene, or place, or amusement which it would be improper for a clergyman to attend.

“Such was her good sense, such her clear perceptions of propriety, such her deep conviction of duty, such her fervent aspirations to become in reality all that a consecrated Christian woman ought to be, that probably, henceforth, none of her most familiar acquaintance ever heard from her a word, or witnessed an action, that would be deemed inconsistent with the holiest devotion to the cross of her Redeemer. Thus consistent and devoted she ever lived. Truthful, confiding, just, sincere, honest, charitable, generous-humble, courteous, affectionate, magnanimous--without guile, envy, jealousy or covetousness -free from selfishness and all worldly ambition—strictly conscientious in every act and purpose of her life-a purer, more transparent, more sternly apright being I have never known. Artless, simple, unobtrusive, kindly, gentle, unpretending, respectful in her manner-she insensibly won the hearts of all who were sufficiently intimate with her to appreciate her character.

“But her troubles, pains, sorrows, are ended: and we are left to mourn our irreparable loss, though it be her unspeakable gain. My friend, companion, counsellor—the wisest, truest, safest, most judicious, affectionate, devoted, faithful—who had, for thirty-two years, shared my every thought, hope, fear, wish, sorrow, joy-has gone to her peaceful, happy home! And I am alone! Death had long been familiar to her thoughts. It was the theme of her daily and most solemn meditations. It seemed to me that she lived but to die. Christ was ever all her hope and all her trust.

“She loved to pray. She was habitually prayerful. She always joined most devoutly in the public prayers of the sanctuary. She prayed much in secret. No matter how numerous or oppressive her engagements and occupations, she found time every day for retirement and for closet devotions. This, too, in so quiet a way, that it might have escaped the notice and knowledge of ordinary observers, and even of her own family, had they been indifferent to the subject, or inattentive to, her actions. Many an hour has she consecrated to prayer, during the silent watches of the night, while her household was hushed in sleep, and when no eye but the Lord's beheld her. Oh, how she prayed for her children, for her husband, for all peopleand for herself, as a poor, needy, helpless, perishing sinner! Yes; she ever regarded herself, as most of all, a debtor to the cross, and to

VOL. III.-5

« 上一頁繼續 »