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“So, ye voiceless pair,
MRS L. H. SIGOURNEY.*
It is of great value to the subjects of instruction, that what they are taught of Christianity is in general sound and heartfelt; and very touching to observe that the prominent felicity of heaven dwelt on by the pupils in letters and compositions is, that their ears shall be there unstopped, and their tongues loosed.
* Poetical Works, p. 257.
“ Yes, there are some who sorrow's vigils keep,
Unknown who languish, undistinguish'd weep."
THERE is poverty everywhere in the world. In the United States there is enough of it, but it is emigrant poverty, or poverty among the depressed coloured race. One heard marvels about the comfortable condition of the native people. In one small town in New England, a society of ladies, who met for devotional purposes, agreed to form a fund for the help of the poor. Having raised their means, they began to look about for their objects, but they were nowhere to be found, or only found in the persons of one coloured family. After the humane ladies had new-rigged all the children, and got them roused and sent to school, they added various comforts in the way of furniture, then they sent one man to repair the dripping roof, another to fill up the boards in the broken floor, and—their work was done! They were obliged to turn the flow of their contributions into the wide bed of the Home Mission, for they had no poor! The gentleman who told me this was personally cognizant of it. It seems to realise the saying I have heard in my childhood, that there is but one beggar in America, and he rides on horseback. That New England village must have been happy in the absence of inebriates, “ of gin palaces,” and intoxicating drinks, for, where they are found, it is in vain that industry plies her diligence and the earth pours forth her stores — there will be poverty, misery, wickedness, and degradation in their vicinity.
I had sometimes wished to see some native poor besides those to be found so comfortably provided for in the institutions, and at last I was gratified. It seems almost necessary to premise, that our visit to widow R. was entirely unpremeditated on our part, and unexpected on hers, otherwise an incident or two which occurred might wear the air of acting in the poor woman, when it was not so. She was lonely, borne down with grief, and nearly blinded by tears with which no one sympathised.
We found, in a neat, orderly room, a tall, wasted figure beside a very small table, on which lay ink and paper, and two or three bright little books, very like school prizes. She was dressed in rusty black, with a cap, whose former pretensions to smartness made its faded black lace add to the desolate appearance of the wearer.
She was writing when we entered, but on seeing strangers she laid down her pen, took out a poor
muslin rag to wipe tears which were flowing fast. Without taking heed at all to who her guests might be, she began her lament: “ I had one bright spot in my gloom, but God has taken it away from me; my dear R is gone, and I don't know where she is gone to,” looking round the roof with an indescribable vague expectancy, as if she might learn from the ceiling where her daughter was. “Don't you believe in a state of happiness for those who love the Lord ?” “O yes, I was brought up in true religion. I am a New Englander; my parents taught me about the fall of man, and salvation by Jesus Christ, about the resurrection, and the judgment, and I taught it all to my child. R believed in all that, but I can't see her now. I don't know where she is gone to.” “If she believed in Jesus, you do know, and if she is with Jesus where he is, you know she is happy.” “You talk, but you never lost your one bright spot as I have done.” “I have lost children, and have had very bright spots darkened. It is not because I do not feel for you that I speak, but because I know that there is consolation for those who weep.” My companion, hoping to turn the current of her thoughts, said, “ Perhaps you have heard of Mary Lundie. This is her mother.” “Is it ?” hardly turning her streaming eyes to me. “I have read her life many a time, and sold hundreds of it here in the streets of New York.” “You sold books! how was that?” “I was born to affluence. I married, and lived well with my husband, but somehow he died, and left me four children and not a dollar. I could work with my head, but not with my hands, so I wrote political articles, and tales for magazines. I wrote whatever I could get paid for, till neuralgic pains put me almost distracted, and the doctor said if I went on writing I should go out of my head.” “ And what did you do then ?” “ Then my Rhad learnt to embroider, and I sold her work, and Mr Carter let me have books, and I hawked them from house to house, and at last, when I could not pay my rent, God sent a good spirit to help me. I never saw him, but he has paid my rent for years.” “Do you not know that this lady is the wife of your good spirit ?” “Is she ?” looking slightly round; “ no, I did not; but now she never sits on that chair at her work and talks to me, nor ever lies on that bed sick. She is gone, my bright spot, and I don't know where she is gone to," again searching the ceiling with her restless and misty eye.
Poor thing! she had employed herself in patching a pretty cushion of bits of silk during the long nights, while she watched her sick child,“ to keep her poor eyes open,” as she said, and was ministered to by two young ladies, real sisters of charity, without the garb and badge, and without the vow.
At last consumption, which annually nips its hundreds of the budding and blossoming, finished its work, and the widow's “one bright spot” was darkened. R-- died in her lonely arms, which clasped