Miron Winslow Harriet Lathrop Winslow.

A memoir of Mrs. Harriet Wadsworth Winslow, combining a sketch of the Ceylon ... online

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Online LibraryMiron Winslow Harriet Lathrop WinslowA memoir of Mrs. Harriet Wadsworth Winslow, combining a sketch of the Ceylon ... → online text (page 2 of 35)
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abroad in my soul. I felt assured that tixe Lord had
heard my cry, and had not despised my prayer. Never
can I forget the feelings with, which I afterwards joined
the family circle, the happiest of the happy. I longed to
open my mouth, to declare what the Lord had done for
me ; but I could only gaze on my parents, brothers and
sister, with new affection, and retire to weep by myself
and pray. I went in the afternoon to the house of God,
where every thing was new, every thing seemed to bid me
welcome, and to say, ' The Lord of Hosts is in the midst
of us.' For a number of weeks I enjoyed in silence this
new world, into which I seemed introduced, though my
solicitude for my friends was very great.

'* In March, oui^ pastor called at the house, shortly
after I had expressed a^ wish to my mother to unite with
the church, if I were not thought too young. He said
but little. Knowing my previous fondness for dancing,
he inquired if I could relinquish that amusement for the
sake of my Saviour. -I expressed myself willing to make
any sacrifice, if I might be numbered among God's chil-
dren. My beloved parents now examined anew their
hope^ and became convinced of their duty to profess their
faith in Christ. Accordingly the 9th of April, 1809, they,
together . with myself and a female domestic, were pro-
pounded ^r admission to the church ; and the third Sab-
bath following, we sat down at the table of the Lord. It
was a season never to be forgotten, t had taken a new
stand, and the eyes of all were upon me. A child of my
age never before was known, in that place, to come out
from the world by a public profession of Christ ! I had
many acquaintances and friends, young, gay, and attrac-
tive. I received many cautions from the wise and good ;
but my connection with t)ie world often made it necessary


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16 jfuoim OF

ibr me to reflect on the language of Christ, * whosoever
is i^hamed of me, of him will the Son of man be ashamed,
when he comes in his glory with the holy angels/ My
dear brother Iras a valiiable counsellor, and he was always
at my side, jealous for the honor of God as weU as for my
Christian character. My course was generally unint^-
ruptisd, and I had much religious enjoyment."

This, sketch, evidently hasty, and designed only for
private use, is given not as a guide to other yottng persons,
in respect to a written dedication of themselves to God,
or to any other particalar connected with the manner of
seeking the great salvation^ for the same Spirit cerates
differently on diflerent minds, and brings a]l\ his people,
perhaps, by a way that they knew not ; but to show how
light first sprung up in the path of oUr young friend, and
how she took heed to it, ** until the day dawned and the
^ day star arose, in her heart."

In regard to her written dedication and covenant, it
may be proper to remark, that not only at the time did
she consider it attended with benefit to her soul, but
it was firequently afier wards renewed with great solemnity,
aqd, as she thought, with profit. This renewal, indeed,
constituted almost the closing act of her life, for only a
few hours before her death,. and the last time she wrote
her name, while unaware of standing so near the eternal
world, she subscribed the same docunient, which, twenty-
five years before, she had with many tears, and we may
believe in faith, presented to the Lord.

Two or three letters, from her early correspondence,
are here inserted to show her concern for the spiritual
interest of her companions.

^^ January I9th, 1810.

''It is true, my friend, that my feelings and desires

are in a considerable degree altered since you were here,

but should that diminish my affection for one who has

ever been so dear to me ? No my friend, it should rather


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MRS. WIN8L0W. 17

increase it ; and I assure you that it does. What inex-
pressible pleasure would it give me, could I be a humble
instrument in the hands of God in bringing you to him.
By many, religion is thought to be a gloomy thing, calcth
lated only to make us unhappy. Ah, my friend, such
people are entire strangers to it. I never knew what red
happiness is, until I had found by experience that * Wis-
dom's ways are ways of pleasantness and all her paths are
peace.' You have yourself witnessed what a blessed
consolation religion is in the hour of death. I entreat
you, my friend, seriously to inquire how the matter stands
between God and your soul. Do not say, I am yet too
young, I may put off repentance a little longer. ' Now is
the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.' "

" Niw-LoNDON, Afordt, 1812.

'' I have just returned from the Alms-house, where I
attended the funeral of a very aged woman. I saw a col-
lection of poor creatures. Among them was the husband of
the deceased, lying upon a bed from which he has not risen
for several years. His countenance was the picture of resig-
nation, and his whole deportment seemed to say, ' Thy will.
Oh Lord, be done.' My dear friend, may we remember
that the feet of them who bury others, will shortly be at
the door to carry us out also. Dear N— — , do we not
inform too much to the world ? How frequently do I
think there is no excuse for me, and I will certainly try
to grow wiser ; but my resolutions too oflen* prove momen-
tary, and without effect on ray life. * Oh that my head
were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears,' I would
weep day and night, for my sins. I have a book, which I
very much wish you to read, if you have not, it is
* Wright and Hawes.' Do read it, and consider it as
addressed to you."

The following is without date ; but written about the
time of the foregoing.


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*^ An opportimitj c^ers, by mj brother, to send thanks
to my friead for her proof of remembrance, and may I
not add affection, by mamma. I trust you do not think I
needed such a token to remind me that I had a friend in
absent E ■ , In that case it would give me no pleasure
to see it ; but now as your gift I shall enjoy it. Mamma
brought me a kind invitation, from yourself and mother,
to make you a visit next summer. Could I dare antici-
pate enjoyments at such a distance, my thoughts would
dwell much on seeing you face to face. You spei^k of
Ihe retired situation in which you live. Jliat my friend
m far from being an uninviting circumstance. I need
retirement. Though surrounded by those in whom I
much ddight, society is oflen unpleasant to me. To leave
my room, and join even the family circle, is oflen a sacri-
fice of my feelings, and when called to mix with society,
I feel myself going to a scene of trial, and shrink from it
^as a task."

In the year f<^owing Harriet's admission to the
church, her health was so poor as to lead her to apprehend
her removal from earth as probably near. She, therefore,
arranged her few papers, wrote farewell letters to many
of her correspondents, letters of warning to ijpapenitent
friends, and a short account of her experience and uials,
fer the use of her much loved moAer. This is the more
remarkable as she was then not quite fourteen years of
age, viras the only youthfbj professor of religion in the
church to which she belonged, and early piety was at that
time much less expected, and fair less frequent, than hap»
pily it is at present.

A diary, regularly kept from about the time her s^ri->
ousness commenced to nearly the close of the year 1813,
she destroyed ; but from one then begun, and continued
nUmost daily until she left America, a few extracts will


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be made, to exhibit something of the history of her noiid,
and of her religious experience.

" November 11th, 1818. — ^There has been a storm this
evening. The wind was high. It was a most welcome
sound to my ears. Did I not feel for those who are
exposed to the inconveniences of such weather, I coiM
hail the days when all without doors is dreary and boi»>
terous, as more favorable to my happiness than any others.
Then it is that 1 have no society but that of my own
heart and a gracious Grod. Then have I a more livdy
sense of my dependence on Him, of my nothingness bef<Nre
Him who is all in all."

** March 11th, 1814. — Yesterday morning I walked
with cousin L. We had some conversation on a subjeot
dear to my heart. She is what I would be, and to believe
it possible I shall ever be like her would be a great con-
solation. She has been to me a most useful friend. She
has convinced me that were the love of God my ruling
principle, I should not have suffered as 1 have done the
past two months. Could I regulate my heart by the
Divine will, I should not be so much disposed to hide
myself from every eye; but I feel continued weakness
and am deficient in every good thing. Yet why do I
indulge this gloominess. I will be up and doing. There
is forgiveness with God, and with Him there is plenteous
redemption. He will not cast off any who come to him
with humility, confessing their sins. To his throne of
grace I will go, and if I perish it s^all be at his footstool."

" Thursday I6th. — This day has passed but tediously.
At evening me had a large party in our small parlor.
Instead of receiving company, I could most gladly have
retired to my chamber, and given vent to feelings which
almost overpowered me. I was, however, obliged to
assume an appearance of gaiety which but ill suited me."

" Sunday, April 3d. — This morning Doctor S. preach^
ed firom Job 20: 5. ' The triumphing of the wicked is


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20 MKMom OP

short.' I cannot doubt my claim to the Christian cha-
racter, as revealed in the Bible. I fe6l assured that 'old
things are passed away/ and that where Was once dark-
ness is now light in the Lord* I have confidence in God.
I believe his whole word. I rely solely on the Saviour of
sinners for justification^ adoption, and sanctification. Still
I am perplexed on every side. Remaining corruption
within me causes me to cry aloud for help. I feel that I
have gone astray, have wandered, and loved to wander.
It grieves me, Oh my God, I ask of thee strength. I ask
for that divine love which will make me count all things
but loss that I may win Christ. I beseech thee let me
not live for myself alone. Enable me to be useful to all
around me."

The following extracts show that Miss L. did not con-
fine her views to herself, though she had many internal
conflicts^ They were written in the time bf our unhappy
war with England. The " beloved town" here mentioned
was New-London, which was threatened by the British
ships of war lying off its harbor. Her father was then
residing there, having been appointed Clerk of the Courts,
but returned afterwards to Norwich, for the safety of the

" 8th. — ^This day the Governor Has appointed for fast-
ing, humiliation, ahd prayer. I have humbled myself
before thee. Oh thou most High. I abhor myself, for I
am vile ; my case, Oh blessed Father, is before thee.
Thou knowest all my desires. Thou knowest every wbh
of my heart. I feel assured that thou will not cast me off,
when I entreat thy favor. My sins rise like a cloud, but
I will hope in thy mercy. Oh my soul, behold thy Saviour
on the cross, dying for thy sins. See him rise fi-om the
dead, and ascend to heaven ; calling upon thee to deny
thyself, to take up thy cross and follow him. And how
canst thou be inactive? How canst thou again grieve
him by rebellion ? Oh, dear Redeemer, forgive me. Give


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me not up to hardness of heart and to unbelief. Reprove
me. Oh, humble me by afflictions if necessary, but
sanctify them to me. Make me to feel thy chastening
hand, if I otherwise shall not love and obey thee. For
others J would also pray. Our country, O Lord, is in a
deplorable state. Thou canst save it from destruction.
Oh spare us in love. May we yet be a peaceful and a
happy nation. Bless the poor, the afflicted, the sick, and
the destitute. Oh revive thy work in this part of the land.
Cast not away from thee, my dear, my beloved town.
Thy judgments have been upon it in a peculiar but
merited manner, since this war ; but. Oh God, let it still
be spared.

" 30th. — Many times within a few of the last days, I
have exclaimed, ' thanks be to God who giveth us the
victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.' I adore him for
his most wonderful works. Had he not appeared for me,
I should most surely have perished in despair. Now I
rejoice that not a secret thought is concealed from Him,
because I am convinced, that knowing my weakness He
will give me strength,

* In Him, not in an arm of flesh I trust,
In Him whom promise never yet has Ifailed,
I place my confidence.'

" To-morrow is appointed for communion. Oh, my
God, give me, I beseech thee, a believing, humble heart,
and grant the blessing of thy presence in every soul which
may partake of that feast.

" May 1st. — This day I have enjoyed sensible com-
munion with God. When first seated at the table, the
belief that with all my selfishness I was numbered among
the chosen of God, humbled me while it made me happy.
The hope that I should meet around the throne of the
Lamb all who were with me, on this interesting occasion,
and not these only, but absent friends, was balm to my
wounded spirit ; and, though but a few moments before, I



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was doubting my good estate, I could now rejoice in God
my salvation, and wonder at his condescending love. I
longed to have done with all sublunary things and be at

** June 6th. — This day intelligence has reached us,
that on the 31st of March the allied armies entered Paris.
They are now at peace in Europe. Can my heart be
otherwise than filled with gratitude, for this wonderful
change on the eastern continent ? Oh, my God, give me
a thankful heart, and grant the best of blessings to those
who are so signally delivered from the horrors of war.
May they learn war no more. May a similar blessing
soon visit our unhappy country ; and may the consequence
be a humbling of every rebellious heart. When thou art
remembering nations in love, canst thou bestow a thought
on an individual like myself? Canst thou pity the weak-
ness of my mind, the coldness of my heart, and apply a
remedy? I will hope thou canst; and I will trust thy
love to remember the wants of all who are dear to me.

<' July Q3d, midnight. — The past day has been one of
apprehension, of trial. My dear aunt J. is very low.
There appears to be nothing in her like a consciousness
of her situation. In consequence of being called to attend
her immediately after rising this morning, I omitted my
morning devotions, and when reminded of my omission in
the course of the day, I still deferred goipg to God. When
sitting by her bedside to-night, ray thoughts ran thus :
* Poor soul, had I prayed for thee this day as I ought,
perhaps some of this suffering might have been spared
you. Yes, possibly ; for God sometimes notices the weakest
efforts of faith, and mine might have been in faith* This
moment I will be up and doing.'

" 25th.— Poor, frail human nature ! What, Oh Lord,
b man that thou art mindful of him?^ We are ushered
into the world weak and helpless ; h«^less we continue
to be through life. The few short years of our appointed


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MRS. WIN8L0W. 23

time, we spend in toiling for what 'still alluring, still
deceives.' Oh my God, give us wisdom to prepare for a
removal from all that we love on earth. Especially I
would pray for her, who is in all human probability now
on the borders of the grave. Oh prepare us all for thy

'' 30th.— This day has been one of extreme suffering.
Aunt J. died between one and two o'clock. The pre-
parations for her funeral are devolved on me. I feel more
as though a mother was to be interred than an aunt."

" At New-Haven, August lOth.-rLast night Norwich
was in great consternation. The alarm guns were fired,
and an express arrived from New-London, stating that
the surrender of Stonington Fort was demanded. This
news gave universal alarm. I however left home this
morning for New-Haveiu At Colchester, met many sol-
diers with sad countenances, repairing to their place of
rendezvous. It was a painful sight At New-Haven
found friends well, and received a cordial welcome."

The mind of Miss L. was early interested in the state
of the heathen. In her diary are frequent references to

''2ist. — When I reflect on the multitudes of my
fellow creatures who are perishing for lack of vision, and
that I am living at ease, without aiding in the promulga-
tion of the Gospel, I am almost ready to wish myself a
man, that I might spend my life with the poor heathen.
But I check the thought, and would not alter one plan of
Infinite wisdom. I can, however, cheerfuMy think of
enduring pain and hardship for them, and for my dear
Redeemer. Has he not given his life for roultitodes now
perishing, as well as for my soul? And Oh, how basely
ungratefiil and selfish in me, to sit down quietly in the
care of self, without making any exertion for their salva-
tion. But what can I do? A weak, ignorant fe^iale.
One thing only do I s^e, JAj prayers may be accepted.


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Yes I will plead with my heavenly Father, that he may
be a Father to the poor benighted heathen."

The following extract alludes to the lamented Dr.

** Monday 22d. — Spent this afternoon and evening at
Mr. S.'s, with uncle and aunt L. Met Mr. and Mrs.
Payson. If there ever was a good man on earth, Mr.
Payson seems to me to be one. He appears truly humble,
and much engaged in refigion. Possesses much of the
manner and countenance which I love to fancy belonged
to St. Paul. In conversation this evening, he confirmed
me in an opinion which I have sometimes ventured to
express, that all ought immediately to repent, and that we
should neither pray with a wicked heart, nor omit prayer;
but pray with a holy heart. '^

A letter to a dear friend with whom she continued at
times to correspond during her life, will exhibit a little,
her early taste for polite literature. It should be remem*
bered, that the remarks on the poetry of Lord Byron were
made before his Don Juan, and other more exceptionable
works were published.

"New-Haven, Sept. 2dt 1814.
"Most welcome was a letter from my dear L. last
week ; and let ine request you never to think that a letter
from you can prove an intrusion, even though I be much
occupied by a sick room. I am pleased to learn that you
are 'enthusiastically fond of poetry.' In this we shall
find a similarity in our characters. I have seen nothing
new, but the * Feast of the Poets,' that pleased me very
much. Lord Byron's productions you have undoubtedly
seen. Do you agree with me in admiring th^m very
much ? I was unwilling to be pleased with any thing that
could proceed from a character like Lord Byron's; but
found it impossible to read without being delighted with
almost every page ; at the same time, I found much ta
condemn. Unchristian sentiments, conveyed in such a garb


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1IR8. WIN8L0W. 25

of loveliness, have unquestionably a very pernicious ten-
dency ; and much as I admire these books, I would gladly
hear that there is not one copy remaining on the earth.
Scott must please every lover of the muses. Of his poemo^
the ' Lady of the Lake' is my favorite. A' greater degree
of sweetness and simplicity, I am sure cannot be found in
any work. And where is there a description more beau-
tiful than he gives of Matilda in Rokeby 7 The poor old
minstrel too, interests my feelings very much* The lively
pathos in

* Liyes there a'man with soul bo dead,
Who never to huoself hath said
This is my own my native land,'

like almost every thing I meet wi$h concerning home,

* that dearest, sweetest spot,' I now recollect as one part
which particularly interested me. Coloper and Young
have always power to make me forget myself, and be
wholly absorbed in their delineation of the human charac-
ter, especially where they connect it with infinite purity.
Of such writings I can never be weary. The more I
read, the more excellent they appear to me. I like
Thompson very much, and know not why I have read his

* Seasons' but little. For amusement only there is nothing
that I would sooner read than Shakspeare's plays. His
witches have always the power of bewitching me. Shall
I go on to name the beauties of Campbell, Rogers, Gold-
smith, Southey, Burns, &c., &c. No, I fear I have already
made myself tedious to you. I cannot, however, fail to
notice 'Cumberland's Retrospection,' which I think an
admirable thing, when we consider the advanced age of
the writer.

'* 1 do not envy any persons their situation or their enjoy-
ments, but if such a passion should find place in my heart,
(he object of it would be the leisure and inclination to read
all valuable and interesting books. Inclination I have too
much of for my peace, while the opportunity is beyond


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26 MBMOia OF

my reach. My friend, when fancybg that some^ great
enjoyments are withheld from us, are we not apt to forget
the numberless unmerited blessings which are . daily
granted us ; or to view them as things of course, which
Ooc^in justice confers* upon us ? Perhaps I ought not to
jtdge of others by my own experience, but from some
observation on the character of my felloW creatures, I
infer that all of us' are ungrateful for mercies enjoyed ;
and have always something un attained in view, which we
fancy would promote our happiness. This is certainly the
case with me. I am too' much addicted to ' castle build-
ing,' but it is not for happiness. I seek principally such
changes as may promote my usefulness, in that I should
find my greatest happiness."

Part of a letter, written the same year to her mother, is
added as illustrating her character, and showing how early
her thoughts were turned to a missionary life, though not of
course with any definiteness of object. To appreciate her
feelings, we must bear in mind that Foreign Missions
were then but little known or thought of in this land.

" Nbw-Havbn, Sept. 13th, 1814.
" If the weather was good, I should probably be at this
moment preparing myself to go and hear an oration, instead
of writing to my dear mother. Were every privilege
denied me, I might murmur ; but how can I now, when I
am permitted to converse a few moments with my best
friends. Truly, I have cause only for rejoicing. Even
when sorely oppressed with a sense of my depravity, and
the feeling that there is no good thing in me, that all my
thoughts and actions are sinful, I have reason to rejoice ;
for the Saviour of sinners has condescended to draw pecu-
liarly near to me. My darkest hours are irradiated with
the light of his countenance. I can hardly reconcile it
to the justice of God, that so vile a being as I am should
be under such favorable circumstances, continued in a
land of life and hope. I am almost ready to ask. Why


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MRS. WIK8L0W. 27

was Hvriet Newell taken from life, and a creature of so
little worth as I am, continued here? Am I reserfed for
similar usefulness ? I will encourage such a hope. Think
not by this that I desire to become the wife of a missionary.
I desire to spend my life in the service of my Maker, and
however inconsistent with such a wish much of my life
may appear, it is my most ardent desire. Often my judg-
ment leads me astray, and often do I wander through
thoughtlessness, but I am most thoroughly (Convinced, that
no service is so delightful as that of my Saviour — ^that no
privations, no toils, no sufferings, are too great for his
children to endure for his sake."

The following notice of ah excursion, with some
friends, to what id commonly called *' WadswoVth's moun-
tain," near Hartford, the summer residence of Daniel
Wadsworih, Esq., after whose sister our young friend was
named, is inserted to show her early love for the i)eautie8
of nature. The excursion was made while she was on a
visit to some friends in the neighborhood.

*' September 26th. — After riding' about seven miles,
we found ourselves ascending the mountain through a
forest,' not of lofty pine, and towering oak, but of low trees
with thick foliage, which seemed impenetrable to the sun.
No variety of objects attracted our attention for two miles,
when suddenly we' found ourselves near a farm-house.

Online LibraryMiron Winslow Harriet Lathrop WinslowA memoir of Mrs. Harriet Wadsworth Winslow, combining a sketch of the Ceylon ... → online text (page 2 of 35)