Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I had not thought him mortal...

John Emery Abbot, Minister at Salem, has often been excerpted in these pages. His piety, and his longtime illness and early death made him much loved and remembered. This recollection and tribute from his friend Henry Ware Jr. in his autobiographical poem, "My Dream of Life"

"I had not thought him mortal. For he seemed
So fitted for some chosen work on earth,
That, in my rash fatuity, I thought,
God cannot spare him from this suffering sphere;
Life shall be long to him, and crowned at length,
In the calm evening of a gray old age,
With heaven's bright chaplet of successful toil,
And earth's of reverend honor. So I dreamed;
And all my future projects, plans, and hopes
Twined with his presence..........
Tell me, you that can,
The colored language that shall paint his soul.
Give me the words, that I may draw him true,
And lovely as he was to those he loved.
Gentleness sat upon his even brow,
And from his eye beamed meek benignity;
While its peculiar, almost tearful gaze,
Went to the soul of all it fell upon.
If we might think some spirit, purified
From evil stains, robed once again in flesh,
And sent on messages of love to men,
Such we might deem my friend; so pure; so calm;
So unregardful of the petty cares
And small impertinences that annoy
All other men; so thoughtless of himself;
So bent on others' good; so seemingly
Unconscious of the tempting things of earth,
And musing ever on some purer scenes.
How quietly, yet forcibly, he stood!
Humble, yet bold; not eloquent, indeed,
But something better; winning, clear, and sweet;
Where his fond flock looked up to hear and learn.
No thunder from his voice, and from his eye
No lightning; but the gentle breath of spring
Recalling flowers to life,—the summer shower
Softly refreshing the luxuriant herb, —
The placid sun, whose penetrating beams,
Steadfast and gradual, lead the season on,—
The quiet dew, that nourishes unseen, —
These are the holy images that tell
The style and efficacy of his work;
While from the sacred rostrum he came down
To cheer the humble, and reclaim the bad,
And as a friend, from house to house to spread
Improvement, consolation, joy, reproof,
And turn his parish walks to walks of heaven.


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