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DORA EVERETT SPALDING
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DORA EVERETT SPALDING
DORA EVERETT BARRETT,
January lo, 1820.
Dr. EDWARD SPALDING, of Nashua, N.H.,
June 23, 1842.
January 17, 1887.
THE NEW YORK
ASrOR, LENOX AND
R 1929 L
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-
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."
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-
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
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
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
Her power and skill as a teacher may be
Slathered from the testimonies of a large
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."
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
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
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
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.
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:
" 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
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
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, —
" 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
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
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 : —
" 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."
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-
acterized her life, brightened her sick-room
and made the ministrations of friends a
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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