Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Blessings rest on thee, happy one!

All that parental love
Could ask, or wish, since life begun,

Be given thee from above.
And when, through childhood's path of flowers,

Thy infant steps have trod,
Thy soul shall be, in after hours,

Prepared to learn of God.” Soon after the death of his wife, Thomas Chandler removed to Philadelphia, where he was for some length of time successfully engaged in the practice of medicine. He placed his infant daughter under the care of her grandmother, Elizabeth Evans, who then resided in the same place. Here she remained a number of years. Every possible care was taken respecting her morals and education, by her friends, with whom she was a particular favourite. Her natural disposition was mild, yet lively, and her temper calm and even. Her faculties were bright and vigorous, and her perceptions quick and penetrating. As soon as she was old enough, she was put to school, where she made rapid progress in acquiring the rudiments, and afterwards a knowledge, of the higher branches of a common or general school education.

At the age of about nine years, she was so unfortunate as to lose her father, in addition to the previous loss of her mother. She was now left an orphan, with her two elder brothers, to buffet the cheerless frowns of a troublesome world, without the aid of parental advice or protection. She was still of too tender an age fully to estimate the great bereavement which this double misfortune occasioned. But these sorrowsul vicissitudes, no doubt, made their wonted impressions on her susceptible mind, and in all probability, contributed largely to give it that seriously reflective turn, which appeared in her after-life as one of the most distinguishing traits in her character.

The schools which she attended, were established by the society of Friends, and conducted by teachers, selected especially with reference to their exemplary character, and their competency for the station. This was evidently a great advantage to the youthful pupil, in both a moral and religious point of view. Considering the situation in which Elizabeth was now placed, it was, to her, a matter of momentous concern. In

addition to the care of her pious, yet fond and doating grandmother, she experienced the kind attention and wholesome admonitions of her three aunts, Ruth, Jane, and Amelia Evans, the sisters of her deceased mother. But all their efforts to guard her against the temptations and allurements of a deceitful world, might possibly have failed, without the aid of these excellent institutions, surrounded as she was by the giddy, thoughtless votaries of fashion and vitiating amusement, in the gay metropolis of Pennsylvania. We do not learn that she made greater proficiency in the more scientific studies, than many others of her contemporaries. The bent of her mind, even at this tender age, was religiously contemplative; and she was more inclined to view with admiration and gratitude, the works of the adorable Author of Nature, as they were unfolded to her mental or corporeal vision, than to pry into the mysteries of creation, and strive to attain to a higher degree of knowledge than was, perhaps, vouchsafed by the Creator. She manisested a particular fondness for literary pursuits, and very early gave evidence of a rare talent for poetical composition. When she was but little over nine years of age, she wrote several stanzas, (the first noticed by her friends,) upon the occurrence of a violent tempest. They were so well composed, for one so young, that they excited the admiration of all who read them. Very shortly afterwards, she wrote another piece, on the same subject, which she entitled, “ Reflections on a Thunder-gust." The following extract will give some idea of both her natural capacity, and pious train of thought :-

“When lightnings flash, and thunders roll,

To God I will direct my soul.
When sorrows assail my troubled mind,
In God I can a refuge find.
Preserved by him from every snare,

I'll join him in Heaven, with angels there." She left school at about the age of twelve or thirteen years; but still entertaining an ardent desire for literary improvement, she read much, and frequently employed her pen on various subjects. As the powers of her intellectual faculties were thus developing, her writings further attracted the attention of her friends and acquaintances, who often solicited, and occasionally obtained permission, to publish articles which she selected from

1

among them. Yet, such was her retiring modesty, and native diffidence, that she did not, for a considerable length of time, permit her name to be used publicly, as an author. Some of the most popular periodicals of the day were thus enriched by the productions of her pen, while she was almost entirely unknown to the world. She began to write, particularly for the press, at about the age of sixteen years; and some of her articles were extensively copied and circulated in various parts of America, and considerably in Europe. Though she was by no means deficient in prose, either for elegance of diction, or force of expression, she excelled in poetry. Her style was easy and graceful, while the flights of her fancy were lofty and soaring, and her imagery natural and pleasing. The touches of her pencil were generally and truly original, appropriate, and beautiful.

In the year 1827, she experienced another bereavement, in the death of her pious and affectionate grandmother. This must have been a severe shock, to a mind so refined and susceptible of impression as hers. The decease of both her parents had occurred at early periods of her life, while she was inca. pable of appreciating the magnitude of the deprivation : yet, as she advanced to maturer age, the recollection of those cir. cumstances exhibited to her mental vision the loneliness of an orphan's state and condition, and the portraiture had awakened reflections which served to make lasting impressions on her memory.—But now, her mind was alive to the sorrowful de. nouement of these mortal visitations, and the awful consequences of Death's doings. Well might she exclaim, in the language of one, whose mind had previously been familiar with the oft-repeated havoc of the inexorable Destroyer in his family connexion :

“ Insatiate archer! could not one suffice ?
Thy shaft flew thrice; and thrice my peace was slain."

YOUNG. For some length of time after the death of her grandmother, she resided with her aunt Ruth Evans, and her brother Thomas Chandler, in Philadelphia. Though studiously inclined, and habitually reserved, she had selected a few, among the most worthy of her contemporary female acquaintances, as her intimate and confidential friends.—With these, particularly Hannah Townsend, and Anna Coe, of Philadelphia, she spent

a portion of her time in social intercourse, and also corresponded with them freely. She very seldom frequented places of public resort, except the religious assemblies of the society of Friends -of which she was a birthright member-and meetings for philanthropic purposes. She became a member of a Female anti-slavery Society, in Philadelphia ; but did not take a very active part in its public proceedings. The scenes of gayety, of splendid exhibition, or of volatile and transient amusement, had few attractions for her. The leisure moments which a relaxation from her studies and other avocations afforded, were more profitably, and, to her, much more agreeably occupied, in conversation or epistolary communion with the friends of her choice. She was warmly and most affectionately attached to her brothers, (especially the youngest, with whom she resided,) and also to her aunt Ruth Evans, to whom, more than any one else, she was indebted for the care extended towards her, during the periods of infancy and youth. Thus situated, she pursued her literary studies—not as a source of pecuniary gain, nor yet of wordly fame—but for the amusement and rational gratification of her own mind. Her secluded habits and persevering resolution (in most cases) in withholding her name from the public, prevented her from acquiring that noto. riety, as an author, which her superior talents and excellent principles were calculated to obtain for her.

But we are, henceforth, to view her character and exercises in a different and more interesting light than formerly. The course of her reading and study had never been confined to any one particular subject.-And although she was peculiarly fond of noting the incidents connected with the history of her native country ; of delineating the manners and customs of its aboriginal inhabitants, and tracing the progress of events relating to the existence, dispersion, or extinction of their various tribes; we now see her turning her attention to the degraded and suffering condition of the African race, in America. To enable the reader to form a correct idea of the time and manner in which her mind was first impressed with the high importance of attending to this momentous subject, we copy the statement which she has given of it herself. In a letter to her friend, Hannah Townsend, at a subsequent period, she remarks as follows:

" In looking over one of thy notes, I observe that thou men.

tions having copied “ The Slave Shipfrom my album.* I am glad thee did so, as that piece, on some accounts, is interesting to me; and was indirectly the cause, perhaps, of our present acquaintance. It was written about five years since, and was published shortly afterwards in the “ Casket,” having received the award of one of the premiums offered by the editors of that work-and mightily indignant, 100, I was at the time, that it was adjudged only to the third rank ! and, by the bye, though I have forgotten the insult, I still consider it equal to those which were exalted above it-but that matters little. It was copied into the “ Genius of Universal Emancipation;" when the signature was recognized by a friend of mine, who acquainted the editor (B. Lundy) with the name of the author, and conveyed me a request from him, to write occasionally for the paper. An introduction and acquaintance afterwards followed; and I continued to write, sometimes, for the poetical department, until I was formally installed into the editorship of the “ Ladies' Repository”—and our own friendship has been the result. But I forgot to commence by telling thee, that it was the first piece I ever wrote upon the subject of slavery—and was, if my memory serves me correctly, the effect of reading a sermon delivered by a minister of the society of Friends."

We have now, indeed, to commence a new era in her biography, and introduce her to the world—not merely as a contributor to the popular, yet light and transient, literature of the day—but as an able author, and editor; in fact, one of the most accomplished and powerful female writers of her time. It is not enough to say, that her productions were chaste, eloquent, and classical.—Her language was appropriate, her reasoning clear, her deductions logical, and her conclusions impressive and convincing. Her appeals were tender, persuasive, and heart-reaching; while the strength and cogency of her arguments rendered them incontrovertible. She has given her own account of the manner in which her attention was drawn to the great and important question of the abolition of slavery. We now proceed to a review of her labours in that righteous cause, during the brief period in which she so zealously advocated it. She was the first American female author that ever

* See this beautiful article in the collection of poetry. It was written when she was about eighteen years of age.

« AnteriorContinuar »