BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
ANNUAL MEETING, JANUARY 26, 1909
PUBLISHED BY THE SOCIETY
BROOKLINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY
EIGHTH ANNUAL MEETING.
A paper read before the Society by Rufus G. F. Candage, October 28,1908.
The familar saying that "a poet is born not made" does not answer the question of what constitutes a poet. Dryden said, "A poet is a maker, as the word implies." Landor said, "A poet represents things impressed on his mind by the Creator." Sharp said, "The poet is one whose emotions, intenser than others, find vent in some form of harmonious words." Said Whittier, "Poetry is the lofty engine of thought the fire of poesy."
These definitions lead to the conclusion that a poet is one skilled in the art of metrical composition, has gift of poetic imagination, invention and creation, with eloquence of expression in prose or verse. A poetess is to be measured by like rules. With this introduction I shall now proceed to give a sketch of a Brookline poetess.
Amanda Maria Corey was the daughter of Elijah Corey, Jr., and Mary (Richards) Corey, and was born October 28, 1824, eighty-four years ago today. The place of her birth was the old Whyte-Corey-Bartlett house on Washington street, Brookline, under the southwestern slope of Corey Hill. She was descended from Thomas Corey, who settled in Chelmsford in 1662, and from Edward Richards, who came to Watertown in 1630 and settled at Dedham in 1635, and she was therefore of New England Puritan ancestry. Her great grandfather, Timothy Corey, for whom Corey Hill was named, was a soldier of the Revolution. He was a farmer, a man of sturdy character, and the ancestor of the Coreys of Brookline.
To have been born of an honorable line of ancestry, it is said, is to be well born, and having been born, to have the ability and to use it aright for the improvement of one's inheritance is truly commendable. Whether Amanda Maria Corey did that or not I shall leave for the determination of my auditors after hearing the evidence contained in this brief sketch of her and of her writings.
The Coreys of Brookline were respected, honest and industrious farmers, who at Amanda's birth, for three generations had tilled the soil on the southwesterly slope of Corey Hill. In the house upon the farm, she spent her infancy and childhood. She attended the town schools, and there received her education. In childhood and girlhood she was reticent and thoughtful and she chose to roam alone through fields and woodlands, to climb Corey Hill, drink in the beauties of the landscape, listen to song birds, admire flowers and plants and commune with nature.
Her school and playmates called her exclusive and strange. They did not fathom the depth of her imagination and the nature of her poetic mind, which even then, was gathering inspiration for the songs soon to burst forth. Nor could they, for she lived in a realm apart from theirs. In a poem to her mother she explains this. I quote a portion.
Mother! dear mother! a song for thee;
Thou : halt the theme of my minstrel be;
Thou who didst smile on my ruder lays
I warbled first in my early days.
Tis the hand of a daughter sweeps the lyre,
With a life whose melody shall not tire
Till the brow is cold and the eye is dim,
Of her who carrolled my cradle hymn.
Mother! dear mother! when I was a child,
I loved the hill and the greenwood wild,
When the silvery song of the soaring bird,
And the circling insects hum was heard;
Dearer to me than my childish play
Were the haunts I sought of a summer day;
But there was a greater love for thee
In the heart that clung to flower and tree.
Mother! dear mother! as oft I strayed
To muse alone in the woodland glade,
They called me gloomy, they called me strange,
But little they dreamed of the wondrous change
Which the spell of poesy, sweet and wild,
Had wrought in the heart of thy pensive child;
And little dreamed they of the lyre she swept
Where the old oak's shade on the green turf slept.
Her school days were happy ones, and friendships were formed severed only by death. Early in life she had clear convictions as to her religious duties, which led her to unite, at the age of fourteen years, with the Baptist Church, and to remain a consistent member until called to the church above. Her religious exercises and feelings often found expression in her writings, which were marked by piety, faith, and trust in the goodness of her Maker; these gave her the hope of a better world beyond, where she would meet kindred and friends gone before, and be joined in due time by those left behind.
From the beginning her poetic ideals were high and pure, as will be seen by the following lines written at the age of fifteen upon a flyleaf of her manuscripts:
The spirit song is on me, and the lyre
The heart's own music pours, but not to thee
Oh earthly fame shall the glad offering be,-
Higher than this my spirit shall aspire,
For oh, what art thou but a fleeting breath
Bought by a weary life, or early death,
Sweeter far to me the thought in after days,
Cherished in loving hearts my name to live
Thou blazoned on the rolls a theme of praise,
'Mong those who, oft but hollow flattery give;
Therefore these powers of mine thou shalt not claim,
For I will lay them on a holier shrine,
Whose sacred fires burn with celestial flame,
Father in heaven! on thine, and only thine!
Between the age of fourteen and twenty she wrote many poems, and a selection of these was published after her death for the use of friends. In 1845, when she was twenty-one, a volume entitled "The Broken Vow and Other Poems," was published and a copy sent to James Montgomery, the hymn writer. He wrote in acknowledging its receipt, as follows:-"I pretend not to equal you and Mrs. Sigourney with our own Felicia Hemans and Joanna Baillie.but in many of your respective compositions you may without disparagement, gracefully and honorably compete with them; so far be it said, to resemble them, as become sisters of one lineage and family features."'
Mrs. Sigourney responded with generous appreciation, to a copy sent her that she had "read the poems with pleasure,
admired their melodious numbers, and always their ture spirit. One of them, 'When is the Time to Die,' has long been a favorite of mine, without knowing what lyre first awoke its sweetly, plaintive music. I am happy to have it in my power to thank the true author, and to congratulate her on possessing a gift, which has such an affinity with inward joy, and sometimes so strong an influence for the good of others."
In 1843 Miss Corey's father died at the early age of fortythree. She was strongly attached to him and his death was the first great bereavement over which she and her family deeply sorrowed. She wrote tenderly to her mother in a poem concerning it, a verse being here quoted:-
Mother! dear mother! when years had past,
Sweet years, that fled on their pinions fast,
The angel of death his shadow flung
Where our silvery bow of hope was hung;
And we stood together, side by side,
When a father sank in his manhood's pride;
Together we caught the parting sigh,
As the soul was borne to the world on high.
On another occasion, we see her, heavy-laden, climb Corey Hill to a secluded spot to meditate on her loss and to pour out her sorrow within in plaintive melody:-
A year ago! a year ago
Old Hill, I climbed thy brow,
But bearing not the heart of woe
That beats within me now!
The blossoms of my summer bowers
Lie withered neath my tread;
I care not for the faded flowers;-
My heart is with the dead!
And this is all-the time has been-
I am still true to thee;
But thou, Old Hill, can ne'er again
Be what thou wert to me!
O Time! The shadow of thy wing
Is dark that beareth me;
Alas! that e'en thy flight should wring
Such bitter tears from me!
The dark shadow, as sunshine follows rain, was turned aside. She was won and wed by James Edmond in May, 1844, and thereafter her poems when printed, bore the initials, "A. M. E." Their wedding tour was a voyage across the Atlantic, with visits to England Ireland, Scotland and France. Even upon the voyage out she burst into song; a verse is here quoted:-
Roll on! roll on, ye giant waves,
In grandeur, fierce and wild,
Old Ocean, though he madly raves,
Must own me as his child!
In London they visited Westminster Abbey, where the poet Campbell had recently been laid to rest in "Poet's Corner," she then wrote:-
There came to the Abbey a funeral train,
The corpse of a minstrel bearing.
Whom the hand of the spoiler, Death, had slain;
With the laurel he yet was wearing.
In Scotland they visited Melrose Abbey, Loch Leven Castle where Mary, Queen of Scotts was confined after the defeat at Carbury Hill, and she wrote poems on each. On visiting Abbotsford she wrote a poem, one verse of which is as follows :-
It dawned on our vision, a beautiful spot,
The home of a poet, the dwelling of Scott;
And we thought as we entered its precincts profound,
We were treading where genius had hallowed the ground,-
And the tiniest wildflower that sprang at our feet
Seemed blooming with fragrance, was sacred and sweet!
The visit abroad was to her interesting and instructive. She wrote many lines of verse concerning it, one being in praise of the heroine, Grace Darling, and her efforts to save the lives of crew and passengers from the wrecked steamship Forfarshire in the North Sea in 1837.
Notwithstanding her enjoyment of her visit abroad, Mrs. Edmond was glad when the time came for her return to her loved native land, to which she was ever loyal. She wrote of her feelings and longings as follows:-
I'm pining for the birds and flowers
Around my native home;
I'm pining for the wildwood bowers
Through which I loved to roam.
And for the gentle summer breeze
That brought the earnest words
I fancied in the hum of bees
And silver song of birds.
I'm pining for the old green hill
That rises high and grand,-
The soil my father used to till
With rough but honest hand;
And for a dear, a hallowed spot
Beyond the rolling wave,
My spirit never hath forgot,-
I'm pining for his grave!
I'm pining for my mother's smile,
And for her gentle voice;
The little ones, whose sportive wile
Oft made my heart rejoice;
A sister's welcome, warm and true,
A brother's greeting hand,
And all the dear old friends I knew
When in my native land.
I've gazed on Scotia's heathered hills,
In purple bloom arrayed,-
Her lakes of blue, her silver rills,
Her bands hath lovelier made;
I've traversed Erin's emerald isle
So beautiful, so fair,-
The contrast of her woe the while
My spirit ill could bear;
I've gazed on England's pomp and power
Her cities, known to fame,
Where palace proud and lofty tower
Bear high and royal name;
And on that land of many lays,
The sunny land of France,
Where peasants in the harvest days
Upon the red grapes dance;-
But oh, not Scotia, fresh and fair,
Not Erin, fairer still,
Nor England, with her riches rare,
Nor France, with vine-clad hill,
Have aught so lovely and so grand,
So beautiful and wild,
As thou, my own, my native land
Thou! nature's fairest child!"
Upon their return, Mr. and Mrs. Edmond began housekeeping in the old Croft-Atkinson-Salisbury house on the corner of Cypress and Washington streets, and they resided there for several years. While residing there, Mrs. Edmond's mother, to whom she was devotedly attached, died in 1848, her elder brother Charles in 1851, and in that house the writer made her acquaintance. Children were added to the family, and Mrs. Edmond's cares multiplied, but she snatched moments from other duties to write poems and stories for the young and for the Ladies' Almanac, of which she was editor for a series of years, over the signature of "A. M. E." She was still a loving child and admirer of nature, with pictures from which she often adorned her writings. In front of the old house, on the corner of the two streets, as some will remember, were large and beautiful elms, which could be seen and admired from her door and windows; she made them the subject of a poem of six stanzas, the first two being quoted:-
How beautiful are the ancient elms
That o'er the wayside bend;
In graceful drapery green and soft,
Their clustering leaves they blend;
And thickly o'er the gray, rough bark
Creepeth the yellow moss,
Up and around the branches dark,
Where the boughs each other cross!
When spring returns with her blossoms gay,
And the earth in green appears,
The birds come carolling back to build
Where they have built for long years;
And children come with hoop and ball,
And a merry song of glee,
And loud and clear their joyful call
From under each ancient tree!
Mrs. Edmond's children played with others under the "ancient trees,"and her family was a cheerful and happy one. But shadows were gathering and soon enveloped the home in sorrow and gloom. Amy, a bright, lovable daughter of four years was taken from the family circle to the home above. Two days before her departure she looked up into the face of her mother and said:-"When I was up in God's house, I said to God, 'May I go down and see mother?" And he said yes, and so I came down!" "I did not know," said her mother, from whence she derived the idea, but the words and the look accompanying them thrilled my soul and brought conviction of the return that soon took place." The loss of that child filled the heart and soul of Mrs. Edmond with anguish and she gave expression to her grief in the following poem entitled, "Our Amy":-
Back to His house her spirit flew,
The bright and blest abode;
Ah, me! how well the way she knew
Along the heavenly road.
What life, what light, what joy was hers!
The beauty how divine!
What wild regret, what bitter tears,
What agony was mine!
I watched her through the weary night,
And every hour to me
Gave a sad foretaste, in its flight,
Of what the last would be.
And when the cold gray morn had come
And turned to early day,
Her angel came,-my lips were dumb
And dared not answer, nay!
For while with grief my spirit shook,
As by a tempest thrilled,
Her eyes sought mine with such a look
The rising storm was stilled.
I gave her one fond kiss, the last,
Of my farewell the sign,
Then from my arms to His she passed,
Who gave her first to mine.
Close nestled to my heart, she died,
Nor did it dying seem;-
Awake my soul! awake! I cried!
For thou dost only dream.
Oh, mocking hope, as fleet as vain!
Bewildered, bleeding, sore.
I laid my darling down again,
For she was there no more!
Of all the prayers that test our faith.
This is the hardest one;-
To gaze on a dear face in death,
And say, 'Thy will be done.'
In the wild struggle nature fails
And sinks affrighted, down;
A mortal grief o'er faith prevails,-
The cross obscures the crown.
So fast upon her pale, sweet clay
Came down my blinding tears,
They veiled awhile, her shining way
To the celestial spheres.
Oh Thou! who hast with hand unseen,
Removed the loved to thee,
Come now, with helping grace, between
The little child and me!
The cup of her sorrow seemed overflowing, but it was to be added to twelve days later by the death of her youngest child, a daughter of two years of age, little Jenny. This affliction, like the previous one, was hard to bear and weighed her spirit down, but again she had recourse to her pen and unburdened her soul in the following poem:-
At midnight hour, while others slept,
From troubled dreams we woke and wept,
For death had o'er our threshold crept
For little Jenny!
The watcher's lamp was burning low,
We could not see our loved one go;
There was no sound, no cry, but oh!
Our little Jenny!
So still she lay, so very still,
White as the snow-flakes on the hill;
We touched her cheek, it gave a chill,
Our darling Jenny!
Our hearts with grief were running o'er
For one we ceased not to deplore,
Who went a few brief days before
Our little Jenny!
And now another! help us, Lord!
By the dear promises of thy word,
To drink this cup which thou hast poured
Of grief for Jenny!
We kissed and laid her from our sight,
In all her childish beauty bright,
Down in the grave's cold, quiet night,
Our precious Jenny!
'Twas hard to turn to life again;
Through everything the ringing pain
Came back of looking all in vain
For little Jenny!
Then faith with sweet assurance said,
Behold! the loved one is not dead;
Up with the angels overhead
Sings little Jenny!
And not alone her tiny feet
Went upward in the golden street,-
An angel child came forth to meet
Our darling Jenny!
Two little sisters, hand in hand,
In His dear presence joyful stand,
Who called to His better land,
Amy and Jenny!
Time rolled on and soothed the sorrow for the deaths of Amy and Jenny. The family removed to Philadelphia to reside for a time, and there they made new acquaintances and friends, who were appreciative admirers of Mrs. Edmond and her writings. There, amid new scenes and family cares she continued to write, and her poems read by thousands unknown to her: one such expressed in verse the following appreciation of her poem:-
Unknown thy home, unseen thy smile-
But not unheard thy gentle lays:
A stranger's mind they oft beguile-
They move her to attempt thy praise.
Thy songs have touched responsive chords
In many a heart unknown to thee,
And thoughts unutterable in words,
Are stirred by thy sweet minstrelsy.
Though never in this earthly clime,
Shall be my lot to meet with thee,
My soul a union feels with thine,
A friendship, fervent and divine
And lasting as eternity.
East Bethany, N. Y.
Death entered the family at Philadelphia, taking from it Mary Cornelia Corey, Mrs. Edmond's youngest sister, a beautiful young woman, who made her home with the family. Family affections and ties were strong with them, and their parting was sorrowful. While residing in Philadelphia Mrs. Edmond visited Washington, Mount Vernon, and viewed the Monument in process of erection to the memory of Washington ; of this she wrote:-
From New England's vales of beauty,
From the stern old granite hills,
Where in battle's stormy duty
Blood was poured in crimson rills;
From the homes where freemen cherish
Like a household word his name,
Come, with gifts that shall not perish
To adorn the spire of Fame!
From the South, whose broad dominions
Glow beneath a warmer sun,
Where our eagle furls her pinions
O'er the grave of Washington;
Where he fought and scorned to falter
In the darkest hour of strife,
Come, with offerings for his altar,-
His, who gave our freedom life!
Genius of a mighty nation!
Speed the work with earnest hand,
Till in one sublime creation
All the vast memorials stand
On the spire that points eternal
To the shining path he trod;
With his name forever vernal,
Freedom's son, the gift of God!
Mrs. Edmond longed for the scenes of her childhood and her friends in Brookline, and the family returned from Philadelphia to Cypress street, opposite the old house and "ancient elms" and Mrs. Edmond lived there for the remainder of her life. There her last child was born, and there she continued to write whenever a moment could be spared from household duties.
At the dedication of the Brookline Baptist Meeting-house, December 1, 1858, she wrote the following poem:-
Eternal Father! Sovereign Lord!
We read, recorded in thy word
Thy servants built a house of prayer,
And thou didst meet and bless them there.
So, longing here thy face to see,
A temple. Lord, we build to thee;
Oh, let the sacred fire appear
Upon the new-made altar here!
Come, thou celestial spirit, come,
And make these earthly courts thy home;
Here oft the burdened soul relieve,
And bid the mourner cease to grieve.
O Cross! whereon to bleed and die
Our Ransom was uplifted high;
The memory of the thorn, the spear,
Forever be exalted here!
Here, Lord, may age grow ripe for heaven,
And manhood's strength to thee be given;
Youth in its freshness seek thy face,
And childhood sing thy saving grace.
So shall these earthly courts prepare
Our souls for nobler worship, where
The temple of thy glory stands,-
The heavenly house not made with hands.
Rev. William Lamson, D. D., was installed pastor of the Brookline Baptist Church, in the new meeting-house January 29, 1860, and for that occasion Mrs. Edmond wrote the following verses:-
Welcome! thou servant of the Lord!
Welcome, this flock of God to lead
Through the rich pastures of his word,
And on his promises to feed.
Welcome, for us, with words divine
To break the sacramental bread,
And pour the emblematic wine,-
Type of the blood our Ransom shed.
Stand on our Zion's walls and lift
Before the mourner's weeping eye
Salvation's priceless, peerless gift,
The Cross upreared on Calvary.
Welcome for our souls to watch, and pray,
With love that faith makes strong and bold,
While we thine hands unwearied stay,
As Aaron's hands were stayed of old.
Welcome our griefs and joys to share,
Thine shall be ours, and ours thine,
Each others burdens will we share
Before the throne of grace divine.
Almighty God! whose sovereign will
Ordains such unions here in thee,
Now with thyself this people fill,
So to thy glory it shall be!
Mrs. Edmond's poetry was, for the most part, of a meditative and religious nature, although it was jocular and merry, when occasion required; with children her smile was sunny and her voice reassuring. For a Union Sunday school picnic, she wrote:-
All hail to the picnic! all hail to the grove!
"Mid scenes of enchantment delighted we rove;
Dame Nature affords us a glorious hall,
And a carpet, the best in the world, for a ball.
All hail to the meeting of warm hearts and true,
To pastors and peoples, the Old and the New!
Though varied the creed that our hearts may approve,
We have but one banner, the banner of love.
Here's a flock from the hill-tops magnificent edge,
Kept firm in the faith by an excellent Hedge:
Here's one from the vale, that's surprisingly grown,
When we know all the food which they get is from Stone.
Here's another so fortunate lately to find
A well-polished Diamond (Diman), that cuts to their mind;
And the lovers of truth and the seekers of good,
That never need stray while there's hay in their Wood.
And here are our friends that are zealous in soul
For the use of cold water applied as a whole;
Let them grow in their faith, if they like, and be strong,
For if they are right, then some others are wrong.
All hail to the President! safe o'er the track
His pass brought us here and will carry us back;
Our thanks we'll pass him,-small pay it is true,
But he'll get something better when such bills become due.
Oh, fill up the goblets with wine of the lake,
And sit at the banquet where all may partake;
Here's beauty and eloquence, music and mirth,
Here's union and talent, and all kinds of worth.
Overflowing with pleasure, pure-pleasure like this.
Let us pass round the cup, drinking deep of its bliss;
Enjoy the bright moments, and when they are flown,
From the homes of the birds we'll depart for our own.
Mrs. Edmond entered with zest into the spirit of children's sports and pastimes, and in her enthusiasm was again a child in feeling whenever she witnessed their innocent gambols and play. She wrote much in that line, but we must be content with quoting, "The Frolic in the Snow":-
Play on, play on while the feathery snow
From the sky comes whirling past;
Thy cheeks are bright with a crimson glow,
The rose that blooms when the north winds blow,
When the pulse of youth beats fast.
What dost thou heed, light-hearted child,
Who knowest no care nor pain ?
Though cold be the breath of the winter wild,
And the sun since yesterday hath not smiled
On the ice-bound hill and plain.
The hearth in thy home is bright and warm,
Unfelt is the piercing air;
Oh, naught to thee is the biting storm
Raging without, while a mother's form
Hovers in kindness there.
Play on; for the days of youth are fleet,
From wearisome burdens free;
Life's earliest cup is the cup most sweet,
And the merriest pulse is first to beat.
As it beats today in thee.
When burdened life shall thy heart appal,
As the years shall come and go,
And golden castles dissolve and fall,
With a sigh, perchance, thou wilt recall
Thy frolic amid the snow.
Tenderly sympathetic for down-trodden and suffering humanity, we should expect Mrs. Edmond to espouse the cause of the slave in our Southern States, and that she should from time to time wield her pen in his behalf; for the amelioration of his condition and for his ultimate freedom.
With prophetic vision she saw the rising storm, and the conflict of arms and the battle that was to be waged, and with never failing faith that right would triumph over wrong, she shrank not from the sight. When the Civil War came, her youngest brother sharing her feelings and beliefs, enlisted in the Union army. She encouraged and cheered him on, followed him with her prayers and with tender, sisterly letters of" cheer. And although she did not live to see the close of the War, she followed closely its course while she did live, rejoicing when the Union forces were successful, and lamenting when news came that they were defeated. She wrote a poem bearing the title of "Freedom's Champions," which so well summed up the situation just before the clash of arms came, that it is here quoted in full:-
Children of a Southern soil,
Holders of unlawful spoil,
Ye, whose groaning thousands toil
In their hopeless misery,-
Hear ye not the battle cry
That proclaims the warfare nigh,
When the oppressor's rank shall lie
Slain by Freedom's champions?
On they come in holy might,
Men of foulest crime to smight
With the keen-edged sword of Right
And the steel of Liberty.
Ye may draw the fetters strong
Round the victims of your wrong;
Justice shall not linger long,
Vengeance cometh speedily.
God hath heard the cry of him
With the mangled, fettered limb,
And the eye with weeping dim,
In the grasp of slavery.
God hath heard, and not in vain;
And his fires of wrath shall rain
Death upon the Southern plain,-
Land of shame and cruelty.
Ye whose hearts some pity crave
For the scorned, degraded slave,
Longing for a quiet grave
Haste, avenge his injuries.
Onward, brothers, hand in hand,
God shall aid his chosen band,
Drive the oppressors from the land;
Onward, brothers, fearlessly.
Gathered from the East and West
And the North, the noblest, the best,
From the South the rod to wrest
Of her shameful tyranny.
Craven hearts that shrink through fear,
Dare not in our ranks appear;
What do we with cowards here.
Baser spirits wavering!
What are ye but those in part
Who defend the human mart,
Though ye hold with such no part
Kindred in their infamy?
But the bold the true shall be,
In our strife on land and sea,
Ending not till earth is free,-
Ay, and free eternally!
Men of single hearts and hands,
Fired with zeal, the cause demands;
Those shall make our stalwart bands,
These shall conquer slavery.
The dread disease, consumption, fastened its fangs upon Mrs. Edmond, but she continued to write even in her weakness and to be cheerful in suffering. She was aware that hex life was drawing to its close. She clung to life, for it had been a joy to her. In the autumn of 1861 the approaching end seemed near, but she lingered until the folowing May at the portals, waiting for the summons to enter into rest.During that period she was solicitous for others, grateful for attentions shown her, and the beauties of her character shone brightly. Her farewells to husband, children, friends, and her messages to her church and Sunday school were legacies more prized than gold. Two nights before her death, in suffering and expecting any hour to be her last, she said, "If any asked how I die, tell them in the triumphs of faith and hope, looking for salvation alone through my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ." As the final hour drew near she thanked her physician, who stood near her bed, for his kind attentions, and in a clear voice repeated these lines:-
Sweet land of rest, for thee I sigh;
When will the moment come
When I shall lay my armor by
And dwell with Christ at home?
And then she fell asleep, and never woke again to the scenes of this life.
While in sickness she composed some verses and entrusted them two days before her death to the care of a friend to give them to her husband after she had passed on. They were farewells to husband, children and friends, and were as follows:-
Keep me not here while I tremble and shiver;
Stay not my feet where the dark waters be;
For over the river, just over the river,
Amy and Jenny are waiting for me.
Hark to the sound! the sweet sound of voices,
Lovingly, tenderly, 'Come, mother, come!'
Oh, how my spirit exulting rejoices,-
Darlings, I'm coming, I'm nearing my home!
Dearer than children, than father or mother,
Watching and waiting, there's one by my side,
Next to my Saviour, and next to no other,-
He who once won me and made me his bride.
How can I leave thee, beloved of my bosom?
How can I leave thee to wander alone?
Blessed Redeemer, oh, comfort the mourner,
Fold thou his wounded heart close to thine own.
Children, dear children, so dear to me never,
Now is the cup of our agony given;
Now must we part, but we part not forever,-
I have loved you on earth, I shall love you in heaven.
Friends, gentle friends, who have strewn my sick pillows
With blossoms of hope, of peace, and of love,-
Sister, sweet sister, away on the billows.
Brothers beloved, I shall meet you above."
"Sister, sweet sister, away on the billows," was the wife of the writer, and for ten years the companion of his voyagings about the globe; they heard of Mrs. Edmond's death at Melbourne, Australia, in August after its occurrence in May, through Mr. Newell, a resident of Melbourne, a friend and former resident of Brookline. It was sad news, though not entirely unexpected.
Mrs. Edmond died May 30, 1862, in the thirty-eighth year of her age. Her funeral was held in the Brookline Baptist Church, June 1st. Rev. William Lamson, D. D., officiated, and the burial was on the central ridge of the Walnut Street cemetery beside Amy and Jenny, and her father and mother. Later her husband and sons followed her, and they were buried beside her, leaving space for the two remaining daughters, Flora Amanda and Theodora Augusta. Although but thirty-seven and onehalf at the time of her demise, Mrs. Edmond had written much, made hosts of friends, and was mourned by many whose only acquaintance with her was through her writings.
The editor of the Philadelphia Chronicle wrote concerning her:-"The announcement of Mrs. Edmond's death will cause a pang of anguish in many hearts. Those who have read her sweet poems, and the children who have been entertained and instructed by her stories of "Willie Grant," "Over the Sea," "The Vase of Flowers," "Early Days," "Philip Garland," "The Forget-me-not," etc., will all be mourners. There was an ease and grace in Mrs. Edmond's compositions which made them agreeable and impressive. Their style was nothing careless, dashing or overwrought, which kept the reader disputing every moment with his reason and better judgment, but every scene and illustration harmonized with and deepened his conviction of right. And best of all, her private character was in harmony with the spirit her pen inculcated. The social and domestic pathway of her life was kept constantly cheerful and happy. Mrs. Edmond still lives in the hearts of her friends, and lives in her works."
Miss Harriet Woods, her life-long friend, author of "Historical Sketches of Brookline," and an acceptable writer of prose and poetry, wrote of her:-
"This lovely first Sabbath in June has brought sorrow to many hearts, for today our dear friend, Mrs. Edmond, has been borne away to her long home. She made an effort to live for the sake of her family, and until a week ago had hoped to live till autumn, if no longer, but when the conviction fastened upon her that her days were numbered, she cheerfully resigned herself, made all her arrangements, gave her parting messages, took leave of all her dear ones, and waited with longing hope the hour of her release. . . . Thus her lovely last hours left precious memories. She never seemed to dwell upon herself, or her sickness to those who came in, but always thought of others. Her death has left a void that no other life can fill. Since I was six years old I had known her in school and at home, and I never saw her temper ruffled. She has been the first to die of a class of six of us Sunday school scholars, who were baptized together, upwards of twenty years ago."
"Long ago she wrote thus of Christian hope:-
"Thanks be to God, though sin and strife
Oppress us till our latest breath,
Life here is not our only life,
And death is not forever death.
O joyful season! welcome day!
That sees our earthly fetters riven;
Speed, tardy hours, your dull delay,-
Your faster flight, my sooner heaven."
And in that heaven she worships today, while we wait sorrowing a little longer."
Miss Woods wrote the following lines in memoriam:-
"Spring comes! The forms of life she loved
Begin to stir,
And not a butterfly or bud but brings
Memories of her.
All bright-hued flowers that bloom, the pink,
The tulip and the rose,
The sweet, wild berries of the wood, beside
The brook that flows
Through violet-scented meadows, and the breath
Of south winds o'er the hill,-
All earth awakening from its winter death
Recalls her still.
Whitsunday cometh silent, in the garb
Of fragrant May
And incense-breathing orchards stand again
In white array.
Sacred its memory ever; since her eyes
Looked forth in calm delight
On her last earthly Sabbath,-on the trees
Arrayed in white;
And ere June dawned upon the waiting earth,
The summons given
Called her from their fresh beauties, to the flowers
Fadeless in heaven."
From the pen of her pastor, Rev. William Lamson, D. D., came the following just and beautiful tribute to the life and character of Mrs. Edmond:-
"Amanda M. Edmond is the name of one, who, not quite a year since, left us for her home above. She lives in the memory of friends, enshrined in the affections of many loving hearts, and needs for them, no record of her virtues. But it is never amiss to stop a moment beside the grave of departed worth and recall the excellence of one whom we have loved. It was on the first Sabbath of last June that we bore her sleeping body to the sanctuary in which she had delighted to worship, and thence to its last silent home.
"It seemed fitting that she, who so loved nature, to whom every bud and blossom and spire of grass had a charm, should see it for the last time in its dress of beauty, and feel that it smiled lovingly on her as she closed her eyes upon it. There is no gloom in such a burial.
"When quite young she developed an ability, uncommon for her years, and that ability grew till she became an accomplished writer, widely known by the productions of her pen. Thousands who never saw her have been consoled and cheered by her sweet hymns, or instructed and guided by her stories for the young. Beside the many fugitive pieces scattered through papers and monthlies, she added ten choice volumes to our Sunday school literature, a volume to our religious biography, the memoir of the missionary, Mrs. Comstock, her early friend, and published a volume of poems, entitled, from the principal piece in it "The Broken Vow." She also edited for a series of years, the beautiful little annual, The Ladies' Almanac.
"It is with no little surprise that we look at the amount of her productions, remembering that they were written in the midst of domestic cares never neglected, and many of them during years of failing health. But she had a rare facility of uniting literary labor with the daily duties of life,-of dropping her pen for the toil of the kitchen, and returning to it at the first leisure, as though there had been no interruption.
"Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth. Our friend did not escape the discipline of sorrow. Within a few weeks her Father saw fit to take to himself two precious jewels, whom for a season he had loaned her, and on whom her heart had become too strongly fixed. Little Amy and Jenny were getting between her and her God, and he loved her too well to permit it. It was a crushing blow. For a season she refused to be consoled,-could not see the wisdom or goodness of providence. All was fearfully dark, and her spirit rose and murmured against God. Faith gained the ascendancy, and she bowed her whole heart lovingly, submissively, to the Divine chastening. She painted the struggle as no other could in the exquisite lines on Little Amy:-
Of all the prayers that test my faith,
This is the hardest one,
To gaze on that dear face in death,
And say, 'Thy will be done.
O thou who hast, with hand unseen,
Removed the loved to Thee,
Come now, with helping grace, between
The little child and me!
"The helping grace came. God himself filled the place made sorrowfully vacant by that which he had taken away. She lived to say from a full heart, as did David, 'It is good for me that I have been afflicted.'
"Some four years since, her watchful friends began to fear the approaches of that insidious and fatal disease that every year desolates so many of our New England homes. She, too, saw it, and set herself resolutely to contend against it. She clung to life. It had been a joy to her and was a joy still. The future was full of promise.
" 'Why,' said she, 'should I not try to live as long as I can, when I have everything to live for?' And right earnestly did she struggle, at times seeming almost to have gained the victory. But in the autumn of 1861, indications of the approaching end became more and more decisive. Yet during the winter months which followed, chiefly for the sake of those she loved, we now think, did she talk cheerfully and hopefully of her case. But when the Father's will was too plain to be mistaken, she resigned herself at once and wholly to his disposal. Every mortal wish was hushed, and every fear banished. With thoughtful solicitude for others, grateful for every human attention, and overflowing with thankfulness to God, she lingered for a few days at Heaven's portals, waiting the summons to enter.
"It was during these days, in the intervals of her suffering, that the moral and spiritual beauties of her character shone most brightly. Her farewells to husband, children and friends, and her messages to the church and Sabbath school, are legacies more prized than gold. As the final hour drew near, she turned her eyes to her physician, who stood by her bedside, thanked him for his kind attentions, and then, with a clear, full voice, as in health, repeated these lines:-
"Sweet land of rest, for thee I sigh;
When will the moment come
When I shall lay my armor by,
And dwell with Christ at home?"
One does not fail to notice in the writings of Mrs. Edmond her love of her native town, family, friends and children; her love of purity and of her Divine Master. Her own mind and thought were as pure as newly fallen snow, and sparkle in her writings as snow sparkles in the sunlight.
Forty-six years have rolled by since she wrote the farewell lines to husband and kindred, laid down her pen, and her spirit took its flight from earthly scenes. Her husband, sisters, brothers and "children, except two unmarried daughters in another state, and two grandchildren, and all her early friends, have followed her.
In life she loved by many, and known by thousands through her writings, which had consoled and cheered them. And yet, so evanescent are the lives and doings of mortals, that probably not one hundred of Brookline's present inhabitants have personal recollections of her, and to the masses even her name is unknown.
It is the province of this society to gather from the dust of forgetfulness the history of the families and individuals of our town for preservation, and to publish the same when deemed expedient. In fulfilment of that purpose, this sketch of the life of Mrs. Edmond has been prepared, that it may be preserved in the archives of the Society, as a memorial of a native resident who by common consent was entitled to be called A Brookline Poetess.