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THOUGHTS OF THE LOST IN THE “ATLANTIC."
“Sleep on-and when the morning light
Streams o'er the shining bay,
Shall never wake in day.”
struggling with the ridged and rolling waves, and laboring, as it plunges on over their crested heads, to gain the sheltering cove under the shore; or a bold steamer daring to breast the gale,
With clashing wheel, and lifting keel,
My window opens upon the waters of the Sound, near where they stretch into the broadest expanse which the shores of Long Island and Connecticut allow them. Many a leisure moment am I wont to spend in gazing off upon these waters when
The breezy call of incense breathing morn awakens the ripples from their slumbers, or when the evening sun tinges with mellow light the slow-heaving expanse. Sometimes the fierce storm sweeps ruthlessly over them; and then the billows reel, and the surges list their heads white with wrath, and the loud winds fling the spray far up the weather-beaten rocks, and over the hard beach that bounds the domain of these waters. Then small fleets of coasting craft, with fore-sails scooped and strained, skim hurrying by, like affrighted seabirds, driven before the gale in search of a haven; or some stray fishing boat appears
thunders foaming by! And when the storm abates, I hear, at first, the deep sullen roar of the surge all along the coast; and then, as the commotion decreases, begins that ceaseless gurgle, sounding on during night and day, as the slow-beaving waters, subsiding to their rest, tumble listlessly upon the shore.
Many impressive thoughts are often called into being by this marine scenery. Of these none are more frequent than thoughts of those who sank into the depths of these waters during that wild and dreadful night of the twentysixth of November, 1846, when the “ Atlantic,"
a noble steamer, went to pieces amidst a tremendous conflict of the elements.
Who will ever forget that wintry night ? Who of the few that were providentially rescued from a watery grave? who of the many that still live to mourn the loved ones lost in those cold waters ? I often think of those sufferers, as I gaze off upon this sea. I think of their awful struggle with Death; I think of their graves; of their eternity;
I think of the tempest, and dark rolling billows,
That howled to each other impatient for prey; Of the night that to agony yielded no pillows,
Of the watchings and woes of that measureless day; To leave with brief shriving !-to go at short warning ! And who will the widow and fatherless slay? I think of the moment when, parting and breaking,
The vessel no longer conld bear up or save; And I hear the wild shriek of the heart that was taking
Its farewell of Earth for a home in the wave; While looked out in pity no star of the morning
To light the sad traveller down to his grave.
to wander into all the paths of sin; the bold and obdurate offender, who has grown gray in iniquity, who has ever lived in defiance of the Divine law, cursing the author and benefactor of his being, having no hope, and without God in the world; when we see, also, that the father is not spared to his dependent family, the mother to her tender babe, the lover to the doating maiden, the man of letters to his profession, the man of business to his traffic, the soldier to his laurels, the pastor to his Christian flock, the holy man of God and the apostle of eternal salvation to the church and to a perishing world; and ? again, when we see that these all, whether in ; the vigor of life and health, or in the feebleness of disease, pass away together to the land of silence, to the dark grave ; then I say there is exhibited to us an impressive truth which it is well to consider.
It is the truth which was in the mind of Job when, in view of his death and descent to the grave, he said, “ I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of Death ; a land of darkness as darkness itself, and of the shadow of Death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.” (x. 21, 22.)
The truth of which I speak, and which is especially brought before my mind by the disaster of the Atlantic steamer, is, that there is no order apparent to man in the descent to the grare. Such is the wisdom of God, that there appears to us no order in regard to the age, no order in regard to the character, no order in regard to the station, no order in regard to the previous health of those who are daily selected from the living to join
The lessons which Death teaches us are various, and deeply instructive. Every visitation of this grim king of terrors says to us, “ Be ye also ready!" Whether it is one only that is taken, or whether numbers are hurried by the same stroke into the dark land of Death, still the impressive admonition is the same, also ready!" But in the latter event, when numbers fall together, there is set forth a peculiar truth; a truth fraught with lessons of practical wisdom; a truth which renders the admonitions of Death doubly solemn and instructive.
When we hear, as in the wreck of the Atlantic steamer, commands, issuing from the dark halls of Death, to take, promiscuously,
The youth in life's green spring, and he who goes
And the sweet babe, and the gray-headed man ;when we see, yielding to the imperative summons, and marching side by side, to the shadowy land, the youthful Christian, the first earnest affections of whose heart have been consecrated to his glorious Redeemer; the disciple of wintry years, faithful and venerable in the service of his Master, who can lay down his bright armor saying, with all the assurance of Paul, “ I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me ;" the young transgressor, whose earliest steps were taught
The innumerable caravan that moves
Where sleep the dead of the Atlantic ? The sea has given up its prize, and all the mortal that remained has been gathered up by loving friends, and deposited in different and distant graves. One sleeps on a gentle slope in Mount Auburn. Beneath the sylvan shades of Greenwood, upon a silent prairie of the far West, by the banks of the wide and winding Ohio, amid the sunny savannahs of the South, and on the cold hills of New England, in many and distant churchyards, is still seen
To all who knew him his memory is blessed. And, in that terrific hour of death, amid the wild tumult and destruction of that wintry gale, when flesh and heart were failing, and when the freezing billows were closing over his exhausted form,we have confidence that he found peace and strength in God, the God of his salvation. His tombstone speaks no empty eulogium of one who was steadily journeying as a pilgrim and stranger through this vale of sin and tears, and who thus early has entered upon his heavenly rest :
I know a grave where sleep the remains of a dear friend who perished with this fatal wreck. Not far from the entrance of that beautiful cemetery in Newbury port, Mass., known by the name of Oak Hill, is a neat burial plat, inclosed by a suitable iron paling. Within is a grave. Over it are blooming a few sweet flowers planted by affection's gentle hand, as if to lend a sweeter sleep to him who is taking his last repose beneath the sod.
It is the grave of a young and faithful disciple of Christ. He had lived but twenty-one years when his heavenly Master, on that fearful night, called him home. He was a worthy member of the Park street Congregational Church in Boston, and many there are in that communion who still
De light to tell
Aged 21 years and 3 mos.
the Steamer Atlantic, On Long Island Sound, during the fearful night
of November 26, 1846.
Dearly beloved, deeply lamented, his spirit beautiful with Christian humility, his heart flowing out in Christian love, his pathway radiant with Christian brightness, he passed through the wild tempest and the dark billow, to the rest that remaineth for the people of God.
He being dead, yet speaketh:
“Reader! leare not to the mercies of a moment the rast concerns of an elernal scene."
W. R. B.
MY COUSIN EFFIE.
On the east bank of the Hudson river, at a distance less than one hundred miles from the city of New York, shaded by old and noble trees, and surrounded with a luxurious growth of graceful shrubbery, stands a house whose appearance presents nothing remarkable to the eye of a stranger, but with which is connected a simple history of life that renders those walls and grounds eminently interesting to a few who knew the family that occupied it in the year 18
If, then, you would hear a simple story of the life and trials of one once young and beautiful, gay and glad as a spring wind-if you would hear me recount the history of a family that was once happier than my pen can tell you, come with me to this old seat of mine on the bank of the river, and sit down quietly and watch the water while I tell you the tale.
Twenty years ago, the fifteenth day of next June, will it be since I sat just here with them. Who were they? Ah, I will tell you that first. There were five of them, all told— Mr. Stanton and his most worthy wife, (my aunt she was too,) and their three children. Henry, the eldest, was then fifteen; George was but eleven, and Effie was a lovely child of seven. Iler dark blue eyes were overflowing with the love she bore her father, her mother and her brothers, and she was the pet of the family, as you may well suppose. Strange changes of life! She is now a woman-a sad and serious woman !-mistress of Woodbank now, surrounded with every luxury that the heart could conceive, or wealth invent or procure; and she is the only one of all those dear ones that lingers yet on earth. They have gone-gone henceI trust to holier Sabbaths ! She remains, looking with earnest eye to the blue sky that hides them from her, longing to pierce its depths and pass away to be with them.
She was what is ordinarily called a fairy child—that is to say, she was lightly formed, and her hair was as golden as the clouds after an autumn sunset ; and she had a merry laugh. How it rang in the clear air of these old woods ! It was the veriest gush of unschooled merriment that ever gladdened the sunshine. It was just here she used to play oftenest. Her
brothers would be on the shore, working at their boat or playing along the beach, while she, sitting happily on this same bank, would talk, and laugh, and shout with them; and sometimes Henry would carry her carefully in his arms down to the boat, and placing her in it, would push out and row across, or up and down the river, and all the time she would sit motionless, and look at and listen to him while he talked lovingly to her of their home and their happiness. I have seldom seen a family in which the sacred bond of union was so strong as there. Mutual love without a shade over any one brow, any one heart, was a contipual light to their life.
So years glided on, until Effie was just twelve years old. It was her birthday. An autumn sky, Aushed with the last rays of the sun, attracted the gaze of the father and mother, and their daughter, as they stood on the bank of the river. Henry and George had, but a few moments before, started in their boat to procure some fruit from the orchard of a friend across the river. Its white sail caught the last rays of the red sun and danced merrily on the waves. Henry was now'a young man, strong and of firm hand. He had managed boats in rougher seas than were ever known on the Hudson, and George yielded the management entirely to his older brother.
They crossed the river and, rounding a point, entered a cove and were lost from the view of their parents and sister who remained on the bank, watching the fading of the light into the cold, calm twilight of our northern climate.
“See,” said Mr. Stanton, “ see that cloud, so beautiful, so still. It lies almost without mo. tion on the sky, like a babe on its mother's bosom. So calm and placid is our life, yet an hour hence a tempest may drive that peaceful cloud from its repose and rend it wildly across the sky. Let us be ready for the tempests of life, dear wife. Effe, my child, it is twelve years since God gave you to us to care for, and to give back to Him when he asks for you. Your life has been a happy one thus far, nor have you had one trial yet that has caused the tears of more than an hour or a day.”
“Oh, yes, father," exclaimed Effie; “I cried a week almost without stopping when Hector died.”
“ God grant it be long ere you know greater grief than the death of your horse. But listen, my daughter. I have only one word to say to you, on this your birth-day evening, by way of advice for the future. It is this. Whatever trials the years bring, ti ust calmly, completely, in God."
At the instant of Mr. Stanton's uttering the last words, a scream from Mrs. Stanton startled them, and she rushed down towards the shore. The cause of her alarm was visible to the eye of father and daughter, and the former sprang instantly into a small boat scarcely larger than a canoe and pushed away from shore. The boat in which the two sons of Mr. Stanton had crossed the river, was drifting without a guide down the stream. At a hundred yards distance from it, by the dim light of the departing day mingling with the moonbeams, Henry Stanton might be seen struggling in the water. A lurch of the boat, an unfortunate rope catching his foot, had thrown George heavily on deck, striking his head as he fell, and then, stunned and unable to seize a rope or the rail, he half rose, staggered to leeward and fell into the water. The boat passed him in an instant, but Henry was over and by his side, and held him up, swimming gallantly until their father reached them and they were rescued. An anxious couple waited them on shore and wound their arms around them in passionate embraces. The restoration of a blessing we had fancied lost, makes that blessing always more precious. That was a night of thanksgiving at the house of my friends.
But the morning brought sorrow. A fever had laid its burning hand on George, and he was raving in delirium. I will not linger on the next three weeks of anguish. It was the twenty-third day after the occurrence I have described, that I received a letter from Henry Stanton begging me to come and see them and assist them in their trouble. I was then in Connecticut, on business, but having my horse with me I rode directly across the country to the Hudson.
I had arrived at the summit of a hill overlooking the noble river, and paused for an instant to rest my weary horse. The sun was just setting. The air was still and cold. The sky was of the pure deep blue that woos the soul towards it, making it long to be away in its
azure depths. At the base of the hill was a village, through which ran a large creek turning the mills which were the support of the people. A mile to the northward I saw the white house of my friends gleaming through the trees now leafless and cold.
The factory girls were leaving their work and pouring along the streets, when I saw them stop suddenly, and every eye was turned towards the belfry of the little church in the glen. The sound of the church-bell came up to me as I waited on the hill, tolling solemnly. One, two, three, four,-seventeen strokes, and it ceased. It was the passing bell! A soul had gone to God, and the solemn sound announced it to the village. Seventeen years had he known who at length slept from his
An involuntary shudder passed over me, and I felt that I had heard the knell of George Stanton.
It was even so. When I reached the house, Effie was sitting with her arms wound around her mother's neck, and Henry met me at the door with quivering lip and said, “ He is gone."
They buried him on the hill-side. Sadly and wearily we carried him to the village church, and thence to the side of his grandfather, who was buried when George was but a babe. And leaving him there we went back to the desolate house and wept together. Holy tears ! shed for the young—the loved—the lost; tears which are sanctified, because the Godman wept for Lazarus.
Six months went on, and the house at Woodbank was lonely and sad. Effie's smile lit it sometimes, but even she did not laugh as she was wont, and the memory of the lost one fell like a shadow over every bright scene.
Mrs. Stanton failed slowly from the day of George's burial. Never was child so faithful, so affectionate as Effie. Every wish was anticipated, every desire gratified. She seemed to live only to watch her mother's wants and supply them. At length they wrote to Henry that his mother was passing from the earth, and he hastened to Woodbank.
She died the night he arrived. ller arms were around her husband's neck, and Effie's cheek was pressed to hers in the warm pressure of the wild farewell. “ Meet me in heaven, dear ones,” said she.
“ Your eyes are dim with tears. Oh, do not weep! I am blessed and shall be more so when I rest. We will go thither peacefully! I wait you-He waits you.” And with such, and many such