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Then the mother devoted herself to helping others. With slight changes, from Conway's version of one of
The messenger you sent to tell me of the death of my little daughter missed his way. But I heard of it through another.
I pray you let all things be done without ceremony or timorous superstition. And let us bear our affliction with patience. I do know very well what a loss we have had ; but, if you should grieve overmuch, it would trouble me still more. She was particularly dear to you; and when you call to mind how bright and innocent she was, how amiable and mild, then your grief must be peculiarly bitter. For not only was she kind and generous to other children, but even to her very playthings.
But should the sweet remembrance of those things which so delighted us when she was alive only afflict us now, when she is dead? Or is there danger that, if we cease to mourn, we shall forget her ? But since she gave us so much pleasure while we had her, so ought we to cherish her memory, and make that memory a glad rather than a sorrowful one. And such reasons as we would use with others, let us try to make effective with ourselves. And as we put a limit to all riotous indulgence in our pleasures, so let us also check the excessive flow of our grief. It is well, both in action and dress, to shrink from an over
display of mourning, as well as to be modest and unassuming on festival occasions.
Let us also call to mind the years before our little daughter was born. We are now in the same condition as then, except that the time she was with us is to be counted as an added blessing. Let us not ungratefully accuse Fortune for what was given us, because we could not also have all that we desired. What we had, and while we had it, was good, though now we have it no longer.
Remember also how much of good you still possess. Because one page
book is blotted, do not forget all the other leaves whose reading is fair and whose pictures are beautiful. We should not be like misers, who never enjoy what they have, but only bewail what they lose.
And, since she is gone where she feels no pain, let us not indulge in too much grief. The soul is incapable of death. And she, like a bird not long enough in her cage to become attached to it, is free to fly away to a purer air. For, when chil. dren die, their souls go at once to a better and a divine state. Since we cherish a trust like this, let our outward actions be in accord with it, and let us keep our hearts pure and our minds calm.
Plutarch. Written out, with some changes, from his “Consolatory Letter to his Wife," on the death of their child.
It is not so much what one gains or loses as what one becomes that makes life a failure or a success. And as the garden over which no clouds lower, and on which no rains fall, produces no
fragrant flowers and no luscious fruits, so is it in human lives. Prosperity alone rarely produces the finest results of character. A rough gem is turned into a jewel by cutting and grinding.
When blessings are lost, let us not forget that their possession, while we had them, was a positive good. The sunshine yesterday was sweet, though it be cloudy to-day. If we complain, “The Lord hath taken away,” let us not forget to say also, “The Lord gave"; and perhaps some day, though it be with tears, we may be able to add, Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
A child is taken. It made the house bright, like a gleam of sunshine. It is gone, and it is dark. But was having the child so long a little thing ? Would you have all the sweet memories blotted out for the sake of escaping the sorrow? Or are you not glad the little one was yours, if only for a time? Is it not “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” ?
But why does it happen to me? why is my home broken, while my neighbor's circle remains complete? But are we ever sure that our burdens are heavier than others ? Can we look into the secrets of other homes, or read the secrets of other hearts, and thus tell whose cross is hardest to bear?
An ancient fable tells the story that once, many years ago, all men and women were permitted to throw off their burdens in a heap, and then to choose from the pile any other that they preferred. It was only a little while before they all returned and begged to carry their own old trouble once
more. Each heart knows its own bitterness; but who knows that his own grief is bitterer than that of his neighbor ?
But we say, The little one's life was incom He had only sat down to the feast when he snatched away.
He was a bud that had no *i! to bloom.
But who gathers a bouquet, and does not ti'. the buds the finest part? The bud is as per as the flower. And, were it not, can it not t som in any conservatory but ours?
And shall heaven have no children in it? M none but gray hairs pass through its gates? Or shall not, rather, glad, gleesome children, with flowing hair and merry eyes, go with laughter through its doorways, to meet "their angels” who “do always behold the face of their Father in heaven"?
Let us not forget that there are two sides to dying,— this earth side and the heaven side. The stars that go out when morning comes do not stop shining : only some other eyes in some other land are made glad by them.
Suppose an emigrant family,— part of it in Europe and part here in our New World. When a ship sets sail with one more on board, there are good-bys and heavy hearts and tears among those left behind. But when, across the sea, the same ship comes to port, what greetings and gladness and laughter! Ought not those who are left to mitigate their sorrow by some thought of the gladness of those on the other side ?
Have not some passed over from all our homes?
Shall we not pause in our weeping long enough to remember that our sad farewell is followed by a glad reunion there? The boat, with its muffled oars, pushes off, and we lose sight of it through the mist of our tears. But its keel shall hardly touch the sunny shore of that other land, before our loved one shall leap out and be clasped in the arms of those who long have waited.
M. J. S. With changes, from “ Light on the Cloud."
(SPOKEN AT THE GRAVE OF A FRIEND'S CHILD.)
My Friends, I know how vain it is to gild a grief with words; and yet I wish to take from every grave its fear. Here in this world, where life and death are equal kings, all should be brave enough to meet what all the dead have met. The future has been filled with fear, stained and polluted by the heartless past. From the wondrous tree of life, the buds and blossoms fall with ripened fruit, and in the common bed of earth the patriarchs and babes sleep side by side. Why should we fear that which will come to all that is ? We cannot tell, we do not know, which is the greater blessing,— life or death.
We cannot say
that death is not a good. We do not know whether the grave is the end of this life or the door of another, or whether the night here is not somewhere else a dawn. Neither can we tell which is the more fortunate,- the child dying in its mother's arms, before its lips have learned to form a word, or he who journeys all the length of