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Full text of "Dora Everett Spalding; a tribute"

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DORA EVERETT SPALDING 

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DORA EVERETT BARRETT, 

Born 
January lo, 1820. 

fHarrielJ 

Dr. EDWARD SPALDING, of Nashua, N.H., 

June 23, 1842. 

January 17, 1887. 



THE NEW YORK 
PUBLIC LIBRARY 

431041A 

ASrOR, LENOX AND 

TILDEN FOUNDATION6 

R 1929 L 



A TRIBUTE. 



A CHOICE blessing to the liomc and to 
society is any life that enijjodies the 
manifold virtues and graces of religion. In 
a thousand tender ministries it is felt long 
after its possessor has passed into higher 
spheres of action. As a tribute of esteem 
and affection we gladly gather a few of the 
many impressions it has made uj)on us. 

An Italian tomb has the following inscrip- 
tion : " Here lies the body of Estella, who in 
acts of benevolence and deeds of love trans- 
ported a large fortune to heaven and has 
gone thither to enjoy it." While the friend 



whose life these pages commemorate is en- 
joying her treasures among the glorified, it is 
our privilege to catch inspiration from what 
she was to us during her earthly pilgrimage. 
Her parents being devout Christians, she 
was early instructed, both by precept and 
example, in the great truths of Christianity, 
While young she publicly professed faith in 
Christ, and henceforth the Word of God was 
her constant delight. No wind of adverse 
criticism ever for an instant disturbed her 
belief in the doctrines which her life richly 
adorned. The attractive graces of her mature 
life were apparent also in her childhood. 
One who knew her well at that time says : 
" I think I am left alone to speak of how 
radiant and riant she was in those days. 
And as she grew she was still the same. 
On Sundays I think of her as a glad light 



for that whole side of the church ; or, more 
exactly, I used to feel that she was such. 
The church was somehow different if she 
was not there." 

Touching her school-days, a cherished 
friend writes: "We were together in Miss 
Grants school in Ipswich, Mass., and very 
soon became acquainted and intimate. She 
was, I know, highly esteemed by the teachers 
and beloved and respected by all the pupils 
with whom she had to do. She had the same 
genial and gracious presence then that she 
retained all her life. She was. bright and 
winning in her manners, and always found 
on the side of right and duty. She was an 
influence for good to me from the first of 
our acquaintance, and I have no doubt that 
others felt the charm of goodness in her life 
as I did. The impression which her charac- 



8 

ter then made on me has never been effaced, 
and my lifelong friendship with her has been 
a source of great happiness." 

After completing the work of the school- 
room she took up the duties and responsi- 
bilities found in a wider sphere of action with 
a mind carefully trained, with a temperament 
naturally buoyant, and with a heart loyal to 
her divine Master and in sympathy with suf- 
fering humanity. That controlling purpose 
to do good which has been so apparent all 
these late years was even then clearly recog- 
nized by those who knew her. This supreme 
purpose made her forgetful of self and con- 
stantly helpful to kindred in the home and to 
friends in the church and in general society. 
On the loth of January, 1844, she wrote these 
words : " My birthday. I am twenty-four. 
Must be more diligent, watching and toiling." 



9 

At another time, when her labors for others 
had been signally blessed, she wrote : " I am 
glad to have such a method of doing good 
always open to me." 

It may be remarked that her married life 
was begun in circumstances which required 
the exercise of a prudent and frugal spirit. 
The tact and iud2:ment by which a small in- 
come was made to meet the household wants 
were most admirable. Two or three years 
later we find in her journal these words : 
" The year opens very prosperously ; and we 
remember the dav of small thingrs with the 
humble hope that the lessons we learned may 
do us Q;ood all the days of our life." The 
next year we find this record : " We have 
been sometimes cast down at realizing so little 
from professional service ; but business has 
increased, friends have been many and gen- 



lO 

erous, and in all the providential arrangements 
of our lives there is nothino: left to desire but 
a sweet contentment." Some years later, on 
removing to a new residence, she writes : 
"We moved to this house on the loth of 
August ; and I have not an ungratified wish 
in my earthly condition, only better to meet 
the obligations growing out of such blessed 
prosperity." 

A few vears afterward the orreat sorrow of 
her life came upon her, in the death of an 
only son at the age of eleven years. From 
that day to the close of her life whenever 
she spoke of that bereavement it was with 
visible emotion and often with tears. 

Her purpose to do good shone out in every 
direction. Her mind was disciplined, her 
social powers were cultivated, and her relig- 
ious nature developed, not merely for her own 



1 1 

sake, but for the sake of others. It enabled 
her to see what was good in the people whom 
she met, and to utter words which touched 
sympathetic chords in human hearts. It led 
her out in deeds of charity, prompting her to 
distribute her gifts with wise discrimination. 
It caused her to care little for outside show, 
and to make social distinctions subordinate 
to the claims of humanity and the value of 
character. Such a purpose, accompanied with 
choice mental and spiritual attainments, 
brought her into a position of leadership in 
whatever work pr^perly comes under the 
care of Christian women. For forty years 
she taught in the Sabbath school, and for as 
many years she was prominent in the church 
charitable society. 

Her power and skill as a teacher may be 
Slathered from the testimonies of a large 



I 2 

number of ladies who under her guidance 
have seen light flash forth from inspired 
promise, and have appropriated the hidden 
riches which she brought to them from the 
mine of divine truth. Her pupils seemed 
always to regard her as a dear personal friend 
as well as a gifted instructor. The testi- 
monial presented by her class soon after her 
death is a touching tribute to her memory: 

"Sabbath-School Class, Jan. 23, 1887. 

" Without the formality of Resolutions, we, the 
members of Mrs. Dora E. Spalding's class, desire 
to give expression of our gratitude for the privilege 
we have enjoyed in her choice spiritual instruction. 
Her critical study of the inspired volume and her 
strong grasp of its most profound truths, together 
with her skill in presenting these truths to other 
minds, have rendered her services as a teacher 
invaluable. Her life and example will be to us a 
perennial spring of joy and inspiration, and her 
death one of earth's deepest sorrows." 



13 

The resolutions passed by the charitable 
society of the church bear witness to her apti- 
tude as a leader in benevolent activities : — 

" Resolved, That we shall ever cherish with grati- 
tude the remembrance of her long service of love, 
her abundant labors, and her thoughtful and unob- 
trusive generosities in behalf of the poor and 
sorrowing in our own city and in regions beyond. 
By her genial and sympathetic presence while hold- 
ing the office of Secretary for more than forty years 
she has been the charm and inspiration of all its 
meetings." 

Mrs. Spalding's unfaltering devotion to 
the church was specially noticeable. What- 
ever pertained to its prosperity secured her 
thoughtful attention. Witli peculiar depth 
of meaning could she repeat the words of 
the familiar hymn, " I love thy church, O 
God." As a Christian she rarely talked of 
her own personal experience, but manifested 



14 

her love for the Saviour and her loyalty to 
his truth by a hearty appreciation of the 
preached word, by delight in the devotional 
exercises of the sanctuary and social meet- 
ings, and by an intense desire for the rapid 
extension of the Redeemer's kingdom on the 
earth. 

Beside her charitable offerings made 
throuQ:h the channels of the church, her 
private gifts, distributed by her own hands 
and accompanied with delicate and tender 
expressions of personal regard, ought to be 
noticed. For many years it was her cus- 
tom and her delight to visit the homes of 
the sick and the poor, where her genial 
presence and tlioughtful charities were like 
rays of sunshine. One who did not belong- 
to her household, but wlio was somewhat 
acquainted with her habits of beneficence. 



15 

says : " It was her constant joy to consider 
the poor, and the cause which she knew not 
she searched out. A pair of stockings for an 
ill-clad girl, a cravat for a boy, a ribbon or a 
bit of lace for a servant, some tea for an old 
lady, a shilling here and a sixpence there to 
diminish friction and make the way pleasant, 
was her habit, anxious to do good as she 
had opportunity, not slighting small occa- 
sions and the by-places of the town." Over 
many a hard spot have Mrs. Spalding's 
gifts helped the needy. Her larger contri- 
butions also, though unknown to the world, 
are recorded on high. Even at her death 
her beneficence on earth did not cease. A 
gentleman who is connected with one of the 
charitable institutions of our State, and who, 
because of that connection, had occasion to 
know something of her benevolence, writes: 



i6 

" She was ever planning or executing some 
good deed tending to benefit suffering hu- 
manity. She will be remembered for her 
' alms-deeds which she did ' and her words 
of good cheer and her noble Christian 
example." 

Specially noticeable was the impression 
which all who knew her, even though for a 
brief period, seemed to receive of her kindli- 
ness of spirit and goodness of heart. Her 
moral excellences shone out so naturally 
that a casual acquaintance at once recognized 
their beauty. Even her household servants, 
who ever manifested toward her sincere re- 
spect, very soon came to regard her as a 
personal friend. Since her death many let- 
ters testify to the inspiration which her 
friendship afforded. One who lived as her 
neighbor writes: "The respect and love 



17 

which I felt for Mrs. Spalding and her 
wonderful influence still remain among the 
best and pleasantest parts of my memory." 
Says a most gifted teacher : " It is given to 
few so to exemplify the beauty of faith work- 
ing by love as has she all tjirough the years 
I have been so happy as to know her." 

It remains to speak of her life in her home. 
Here her virtues and graces were at their 
best. She believed that woman's sphere and 
throne are in the home, from which light 
is to shine in every direction. Hence the 
claims of family had the foremost place in 
her thouo;ht and affection. However much 
she did in church and in general society, it 
was never at the cost of household duties. 
Of the tender attachments within that circle 
only those who belong to it can know. 
Many, however, who did not so belong have 



reason to be grateful that her home was 
characterized by marked hospitality. Who 
can ever forget her cordial greetings as they 
stepped across her threshold, or the pleasure 
they felt in her presence, or the beauty and 
worth of the thousfhts into which her skill 
in conversation led them ? 

Her power over others came largely from 
the completeness of her character. She did 
not shine so much by the use of a single 
virtue or grace as by a happy combination of 
all, illustrating in an unusual degree a felici- 
tous union of the Martha and Mary spirit. 
In her, energy and executive ability were 
compatible with a calm and unruffled mind 
and an unfailing consideration of others. 
Her Christian activity found its inspiration 
in the highest motives ; and a favorite ex- 
pression of her feelings was in the lines, — 



19 

" More careful not to serve Thee much, 
But to please Thee perfectly." 

A critical faculty of rare discrimination 
and impartiality gave value to her judgment 
in practical matters, while at the same time 
it was so transfused by loving-kindness that 
it avoided all uncharitableness, and only 
quickened her insight into the excellences 
of those about her. Her decision of char- 
acter was without austerity or harshness, so 
that the clearness of her convictions and her 
ready defence of the right never gave offence. 
In a life full of many and varied interests of 
its own, she kept 

" A heart at leisure from itself 
To soothe and sympathize." 

So spontaneous and natural were her kindly 
deeds that a member of her own family says : 
" I always thought of her as one of those 



zi.'^inii t 



20 

who would say, ' Lord, when saw we thee an 
hungered and fed thee, or thirsty and gave 
thee drink?'" Indeed, one great charm of 
her goodness was the entire absence of 
self-consciousness. 

It seems proper to quote from letters re- 
ceived from some of her former pastors. 
One who knew her in her prime and strength 
of womanhood writes : — 

"Among all my acquaintances I can scarce find 
one whom I held in such high esteem as I have 
ever held Mrs. Spalding from the first time I knew 
her. She always seemed to me a model, as near 
perfection as we ever see in this world, of wife, 
mother, and excellent woman. The world is too 
poor in the possession of such models not to suffer 
a great loss when one of them is taken away." 

Another, who was her pastor for fourteen 
years, writes : — 



21 

" Taken all in all, I can without exaggeration say- 
that I never met with the woman who came nearer 
to perfection than Mrs. Spalding. It seemed to me 
that she loved everybody with a true Christian love. 
If there was anything good in others she was 
quite sure to find it out and to speak of it. She 
evidently took great pleasure in doing good." 

t 

Says a friend who knew her well : — 

" Thoughtful and disinterested beyond any one 
I have ever known, Mrs. Spalding has been a light 
to young and old. Through her we have learned 
that ' Life has room for pain borne without repin- 
ing ; for bereavement sustained by faith ; for death 
made sweet by an infinite hope.' " 

After many years of unusual health and 
vigor, her character was ripened through 
many months of weakness and pain in which 
patience had her perfect work ; while the 
same cheerful serenity, the same thought- 
fulness for others, the same interest in 
the Redeemer's kingdom which had char- 



22 

acterized her life, brightened her sick-room 
and made the ministrations of friends a 
privilege. 

Touching the departure of Christian friends 
the Bible has two beautiful figures : one is 
sleep, and the other is an awaking. One 
suggests the termination of earthly toil and 
care and anxiety ; the other suggests the full 
exercise of the faculties in higher and purer 
spheres of action. Amid the splendors of 
the celestial world saints are to awake to 
their true selves and to God. 

" Earth takes her own, — this mortal frame ; 
Eternity her part shall claim ; 
And so we say, in humble trust, 
The soul to God, the dust to dust. 

" Then, looking up through sorrow's night. 
We trace the spirit's homeward flight ; 
The Prince of Life has marked that road 
Through the dark valley, home to God." 




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