Documenting the American South Logo
Loading

Sketches of the History, Character, and Dying Testimony, of Beneficiaries of the Colored Home, in the City of New-York:
Electronic Edition.

Thompson, Mary W.


Funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities supported the electronic publication of this title.


Text scanned (OCR) by Bethany Ronnberg
Images scanned by Bethany Ronnberg
Text encoded by Carlene Hempel and Natalia Smith
First edition, 1999
ca. 160K
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
1999.

        © This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.


Call number E185.93 N56 T4 1851 (Davis Library, UNC-CH)

Source Description:
(title page) Sketches of the History, Character, and Dying Testimony, of Beneficiaries of the Colored Home, in the City of New-York.
(cover) Broken Gloom.
(half-title page) Broken Gloom.
Thompson, Mary W.
New York
John F. Trow, Printer, 49, 51, amp; 53 Ann-St.
1851



        The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-CH digitization project, Documenting the American South.
        Any hyphens occurring in line breaks have been removed, and the trailing part of a word has been joined to the preceding line.
        All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
        All double right and left quotation marks are encoded as " and " respectively.
        All single right and left quotation marks are encoded as ' and ' respectively.
        Indentation in lines has not been preserved.
        All em dashes are encoded as --
        Running titles have not been preserved.
        Spell-check and verification made against printed text using Author/Editor (SoftQuad) and Microsoft Word spell check programs.
Library of Congress Subject Headings

LC Subject Headings:


Revision History:


        

Illustration

[Cover Image]


        

Illustration

[Half Title Page Image]


        

Illustration

Broken Gloom.
[First Frontispiece Image]


        

Illustration

FRONT VIEW OF THE COLORED HOME.
[Second Frontispiece Image]


        

Illustration

[Title Page Image]


SKETCHES
OF THE
HISTORY, CHARACTER, AND DYING TESTIMONY,
OF
BENEFICIARIES
OF
THE COLORED HOME, IN THE CITY OF NEW-YORK.

PREPARED BY

MARY W. THOMPSON,

AND PUBLISHED FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE INSTITUTION.

NEW YORK:
JOHN F. TROW, PRINTER, 49, 51 & 53 ANN-ST.
1851.


    Darkness, which might be felt,
        Hung o'er that dreary land,
    Where Afric's sable children dwelt
        Amidst its glittering sand.
    Those shadows there, might still
        Have direful influence shed,
    O'er grove, and glen, and towering hill,
        Deepening in awful dread,
    Had not Almighty Power,
        With beams of light Divine,
    Broke through the gloom, in Mercy's hour,
        In radiance there to shine.


Page 3

CONTENTS.


Page 5

PREFACE.

        THE design of this little book is to make known more extensively the character of the Institution on whose behalf these pages speak,--to prove its usefulness in carrying out the plan of benevolence in pursuance of which it was originally established, and which, in its operations thus far, has fully proved its utility and advantages, showing itself worthy the patronage and support of a benevolent and Christian public.

        The Institution not only provides protection and a peaceful home for the respectable, worn-out colored servants of both sexes of our city, by sheltering and sustaining them during the lingering days of declining life, but furnishes them in their last moments the consolations of religion.


Page 6

        It also relieves the Alms-House and the community of another portion of colored persons, who, being sick or diseased, hopeless and helpless, have no means to provide for themselves, and who would necessarily, otherwise, become a burden upon society. These latter, by an arrangement entered into with the commissioners, are received into this Home for a season, or until they are healed of their sicknesses and able to resume employment--thus they are rescued from much suffering and destitution, being cared for, instructed in the right way, lifted up from degradation and wretchedness, and encouraged to habits of industry and propriety.

        The Managers contemplate, so soon as their means will justify them, erecting a chapel, or a building with chapel accommodations, and school-room, for the instruction of the inmates who choose to avail themselves of the privilege of learning to read and write. They have also accommodation rooms for workshops, where the inmates of the Home, not incapacitated by illness or infirmities, may be taught some handicraft which may be a source of profit to them after leaving the Institution, enabling them to support themselves by their industry.


Page 7

        We have commenced this work in faith; trusting that the public will contribute to our aid to enable us to carry out our plans of operation. The enterprise certainly commends itself to the judgment and liberality of our humane citizens, to whom we look for encouragement, sincerely trusting we shall not be disappointed.

M. W. T.

NEW-YORK, 1851.


Page 9

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

        THE original cause of all suffering is sin. It is this that has "brought death into the world, with all our woe." The fact is established by the experience of every age.

        To the Christian, the sufferings of this life, however painful and severe, are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed. Having passed through all its sorrows, its toils, and its deprivations, he rejoices when


    "The soft peace-march beats
        Home! brothers, Home!"

        Notwithstanding the suffering which all are called to endure, while passing through this vale of tears--some more, some less--it is yet pleasant to


Page 10

know, that much of this anguish and misery can be alleviated, soothed, and made more endurable, by the exercise of sympathy and kindness. For the true illustration of these Christian virtues, and to confirm us in our devotion, we have a perfect pattern for our imitation in Christ, who bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Thus, having the embodied testimony of Him, whose earthly pilgrimage was, that "He went about doing good," Christians are bound to carry out the Divine intention bequeathed by Him whose mission was mercy, and whose precepts and example are obligatory on all who profess to be His followers.

        Jesus left no duty unfulfilled: nor may His children leave undone the work that He hath given them to do. They are to imitate Him in all His imitable perfections; not that 'tis possible that their devotion can ever equal His, nor that they can thereby make themselves meritorious in the sight of God: nay--but because He hath commanded us to tread in His foot-prints, and taught, that "herein is His Father glorified, that we bear much fruit," is the heart that from love to Him desires His glory, impelled to pray, and toil, and struggle, that by its obedience Christ may be glorified, and wretched men be blest.

        Christian sympathy is no dull, inoperative principle; no bidding "Be ye warmed and clothed," the


Page 11

while it shutteth up its bowels of compassion; it is not satisfied with a mere knowledge of its duty; but awakened at the cross, where it is made immeasurably a debtor. As Jesus did, it seeks the poor, the destitute, the suffering, that it may minister to their necessities and sorrows, and, if possible, assuage their woes.

        Jesus sought the wretched and lost; His mercy was extended to all ranks and conditions of men; none were too humble for His eye of kingly love--none too depraved and fallen for His compassion. His presence, though He was the King of kings, won to His healing lip and hand the sorrow-stricken and the poor. The worst of sinners, despairing of every other source of relief, knew so well from His own lips His heavenly mercy; that despite the crimson guilt that would have driven them from His spotless purity, they had no power to resist the gentle kindness that drew them to His feet, but came and sought and found forgiveness. Whoever came, believing in Him, received the blessing, and none were ever sent unblessed away. The sick and suffering were healed of their maladies; the suppliant, bowed together by the spirit of infirmity--by a word from His merciful lips became loosed, till she stood erect before Him. The captive He set free; He made the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue


Page 12

of the dumb to sing. The accused, condemned by men, was forgiven, freed from condemnation by His tender word of pity, "Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more." The blind, who heard of His approach, lifted their piercing cry at His coming; He touched with His finger their sightless balls, and forthwith there fell from their eyes as it had been scales; and in the breaking of the glory of the light of heaven on their unprisoned senses, they ran, and leaped, and followed Jesus. The sorrowing mother, sister, friend, mourning in bitterness of grief the departed, received again to their embrace the loved ones who had been enshrouded for, or had lain in, the grave -- "Maid, arise!'* "Young man, I say unto thee, arise!"[** ] "Lazarus, come forth!"*** and the dead lived again to manifest His praise and glory.

        How is this spirit of Jesus Christ to be developed toward the wretched and impoverished children of Africa?

        We do not deem it necessary to discuss the point, that the formation of the head and brain make the man or woman what they are; we leave this for the philosopher and man of science. But we do believe, that much depends upon the arrangement

        * Luke viii. 54.



        ** Luke vii. 14.



        *** John xi. 43.



Page 13

and strength of the physical system; its immediate connection with circumstances and advantages; its occupations, means, and disposition for improvement. This is evident amongst the white population which flock to our shores. Many of them are miserable outcasts from their own country, where they knew little else than poverty and woe; and who, seeking relief from the burdens that oppressed them, have come to the land of light, liberty, and enterprise. Here, they are taken by the hand, treated as human beings, placed upon the same level with ourselves, and made fellow-citizens, and cheered with the hope, not only of rising to notice and consideration, but, sharing every civil blessing we enjoy, are, in due time, even suffered to be competitors to exalted place and honor.

        It is this that constitutes us a noble and magnanimous nation, the result of the principles of that glorious Constitution, that causes us to stand out in bright and bold relief upon the list of the nations of the world--a free, generous, sympathizing, independent and happy people. None who come to our shores are turned away; we open our hearts and bid them welcome; we open our hands and relieve the suffering and wretched exile, and give him a home, and bestow upon him blessings, who never knew till now what blessings were.


Page 14

        The foregoing remarks are not to be considered as irrelevant to our purpose, nor do we ask to have the same broad principles carried out toward those for whom these pages do especially plead, to wit, the infirm and poor of our colored population. The providence of God, as also the usages and order of society, seems to have placed these in a different sphere from those who are made of fairer dust, and who are born and placed under happier auspices; they are of a different caste; but we would speak of them as human beings, possessing immortal spirits, sensible of their accountability to God; we believe them to be endowed with minds capable of intellectual culture, and of giving glory to God, by a sincere and humble profession of faith in Christ; and by an unpretending and Christian deportment.

        Of their seeming inferiority, incapabilities, and other humiliating considerations, much might be said in vindication and defence, from the position in which they have ever been held, since their introduction among civilized communities; taught from the beginning to view themselves as constituted by nature of an inferior order, subject to the will, and to labor for their superiors. This being ingrafted upon their minds from the very start, they come to believe it a truth to which they are bound to yield with all submission; and until they are brought to


Page 15

colonize themselves in a region separate and distinct from those who cannot, and will not consider them as equals, nor admit them to the participation of constitutional privileges and rights, they must for ever remain in a state of vassalage, or marked distance from us.

        Time, and judicious legislation will eventually bring a change; when the colored of our race will be elevated to their proper position and standard. Liberia is a witness of this, in the growing success of its efforts, and in the judicious management of her rulers.

        But, while time and effort are working these changes, much can be done to improve and advance the moral culture and physicial condition of those to whom we allude, whom Providence has thrown upon our charities; and who, from imperative circumstances, must remain in our midst. We can show them that we care for them, and for their comfort and welfare, and make them happier in their depressed situation.

        The following facts will confirm this opinion.

M. W. T.


Page 17

SKETCHES.

HERCULES SCHUREMAN

        WAS one of the earliest inmates of the Colored Home; he was a man of unusual size, about six feet four inches-- large muscular frame, indicating great physical strength. He was over 100 years of age when he entered the Home, and for some time after was confined to his bed by sickness and infirmities. Yet he was happy and cheerful, in finding, as he remarked, "such a resting-place as this, for the remainder of his pilgrimage." And still more happy did he seem in the anticipation that when his days on earth should be ended, he should be permitted to glorify in heaven the Saviour whom he loved to serve.

        In his person, old Hercules was dignified, and his manner and language such, as to command respect and attention. He was once a slave, but in


Page 18

early life, by his industry and good conduct, purchased his freedom, became a minister of the Gospel in the Methodist connection, and for more than fifty years he preached Christ, and proclaimed to his dying fellow-men, the grace of God which bringeth salvation, and "that liberty wherewith Christ maketh his people free." He was well instructed in the Scriptures; and although unskilled in human learning, nature had endowed him with great mental abilities, combined with a most retentive memory, which being enriched and sanctified by the Divine Spirit, made him truly a remarkable man.

        "I have never been more impressed with the fact," remarks Mrs. A., one of the Managers, "than when, at the social meetings at the Home, this aged disciple of more than a century would pour forth the desires of his soul in a strain of fervent prayer, which for strong figurative language I never heard equalled." He died in the faith in which he had lived; and, "like a shock of corn fully ripe," has, we trust, been gathered into the heavenly garner. His age was 105.


Page 19

JONATHAN SKINNER

        WAS another disciple of Christ to whom it has been the privilege of this Institution to "give a cup of cold water." He also was a Methodist minister. His age 87. He was amongst the earliest of the beneficiaries of the Home. It is to be regretted that something of his early history was not obtained; but enough of his pious labors were witnessed to rank him among the most useful servants of God.

        As long as his strength would permit, he went from one sick bed to another, praying for, and encouraging the penitent to hope and trust in Him who sent His Gospel to the poor.

        To none could the language of the poet be more justly applied--


                         "Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
                         The Christian's native air;
                         His watchword at the gate of death,
                         He enters heaven with prayer."


Page 20

TOMMY WARNER

        WAS a native of Western Africa, and when he had nearly reached the period of manhood, was taken from his native land, and brought to the West Indies as a slave; from thence he was transported to the South, where he remained for many years. He af-afterwards came to the city of New-York, and previous to his entering the Colored Home (1844) was for sixteen years an inmate of the City Alms-House. He died in January, 1847, aged about one hundred years.

        He was a most exemplary person in his general character, exceedingly amiable in disposition, of retiring habits, having but little intercourse with those about him. The only person to whom he appears to have formed any particular attachment, was "Old Henry," who two years was his room-mate. Henry died about six months before Tommy; after which Thomas said but little, nor took much notice of passing events. When spoken to on the subject of Henry's death, his general remark was, "I think he gone home; I think the Lord help him up;" at the same time making a motion with both his hands expressive of his views. He wished to be buried near


Page 21

his friend Henry, and as a space had been left by his side for this purpose, his desire was gratified.

        It was on the Sabbath that Thomas was buried. At 12 o'clock, the inmates, male and female, assembled in the hall, filling that large space almost to overflowing, while a deep seriousness pervaded the assembly. "Jerusalem, my happy home!" was selected by one of the inmates as a hymn of which he was particularly fond: it was sung. The funeral service was then read, followed by appropriate remarks. Thomas needed no eulogy, for all knew and loved him. Followed by five of the oldest female inmates, and all the old men who could walk, he was conveyed to his final resting-place, and laid by the side of his friend Henry. The reflection is a pleasant one, that all his wants on earth were supplied--all his wishes to the utmost gratified.

BLIND SOPHA.

        SHE was brought from Africa when about seventeen years of age. After passing a long life of accumulated sufferings, she was eventually sent to our alms-house, where she lingered four years. Of the


Page 22

name of her master we are uninformed; but she often spoke with much affection of him.

        A more emaciated frame was seldom seen; having been previously accustomed to the best food, the change of diet in advanced age was trying to her system, and she wasted away without apparent disease. Yet she never complained or asked for any thing. While at the alms-house, on receiving her weekly allowance, her broken thanks were mostly accompanied with tears. *

        One of the committee giving her some refreshment before her death, she placed her hand in hers. Sopha raised it to her lips, kissed it many times, and said, "God bless you, Missy. Sopha never eat more. Oh, God will bless you, dear Missy." Soon after, she calmly departed.

AMY JORDAN

        WAS a slave by birth, born in the State of Virginia. She twice worked for and paid the amount required for her freedom--once to her mistress, who died before

        * Previous to establishing "the Home," the managers procured accommodations for their pensioners at the Alms-House, where they were visited and attended to by them.



Page 23

making out her free papers, and then again she worked and paid the same amount to the children; or, as she termed it, "once to her old mistress, and once to her young master." She had one child, a son, who in his early life was taken from her and sold into bondage, and carried into a distant part of the country, since which time she had never heard of him. After overcoming a succession of obstacles, she at length found herself in a free city, where she lived, supporting herself by honest industry, until her health and strength failed; she then sought admission into the Alms-House. After the purchase of the building occupied as the "Colored Home," she was one of the first inmates, where she continued in infirm health until she entered into her final rest.

        Amy was baptized by immersion at Norfolk, Va., twenty-two years before her death. She was an exemplary Christian. Her views of the Gospel plan were clear and Scriptural. Her sickness was long and protracted; she suffered much in consequence, yet she was never heard to complain, or manifest impatience, though her views of the "better land" were of such a happy cast, that she often longed to be gone, looking to her Heavenly Home with increased delight as her end drew near.

        During her lingering days, she frequently spoke


Page 24

of her son, and it awakened feelings of deep sympathy to hear her relate the circumstances of this painful separation, for he was her "only child;" and she often spoke of him with maternal tenderness; ever manifesting under all her trials a spirit of forgiveness to those who had deprived her of this joy of her life, and exhibiting a temper and disposition that would adorn human nature in any situation. She never spoke with bitter or revengeful feelings; but displayed, as far as she was able, the spirit of her Divine Master, by her gentleness, humility, and forgiveness.

        As death approached, and she appeared to be fast sinking, her kind physician, Dr. F., urged her to take some medicine. She said, "Oh no, doctor, let me be gone, I long to be at Home,--I will do as you say, but I want to be away, my blessed Master waits for me; oh precious, glorious Master!" And such were her longings and talk, until death closed the scene. Her faith seemed remarkably bright, and her confidence in her Lord's promises unwavering, sure, and steadfast. "How unlike," says Dr. F., "the dying words of the skeptical, yet intellectual and accomplished Charles Lamb, 'I am unwilling to leave this beautiful spot called earth, I am unwilling to part from its green fields, its refreshing shades, and verdant lawns, for that unknown land that men


Page 25

call heaven,' "&c. What a contrast with the faith of this humble child of Africa!--Her last words were: "Christ is near me; I want nothing more." Her age was 76.

JUDY RICHARDS

        WAS another of the most worthy pensioners of the Colored Home. She was an inmate of but one year, when she was called to take possession of her promised inheritance. During the short period she was an inmate, she rendered herself an object of peculiar interest to all from the strength of her gratitude and affection toward those from whom she received favors, as well as from the high attainments which she had made in Christian knowledge and experience. She was an enlightened Christian, and her whole walk was consistent with her high and holy calling. Her time was mostly spent in reading the Scriptures, or in religious conversation with the sick and dying. Humility was a prominent feature in her Christian character; and many who sought interviews with her, felt that it was to their own edification in spiritual things, rather than that of "imparting any spiritual gift;" and those of


Page 26

the managers who were in the habit of visiting her for this purpose, will not soon forget the affectionate cordiality with which she welcomed them, and the fervor with which she implored the Divine blessing to rest upon them. The writer of the Sixth Annual Report says, "It was always refreshing to enter into religious conversation with her; and gladly would we have sat at her feet to hear her discourse in simple eloquence of the preciousness of her Jesus, as it always pleased her to call Him." Toward the latter period of her life her mind became somewhat harassed with doubts in reference to her personal acceptance with Christ; and she seemed for a time to be enveloped in thick darkness. On one occasion she said to a young friend, "Can't you say something to comfort me? Something about Christ?" The reply was, "Aunt Judy, I feel as if I ought to come to you for instruction." She said, "Oh, but my Jesus is not nigh me! He is a great way from me, and I want you to help me find Him."

        Her soul was burdened for several weeks, during which time she observed many seasons of fasting and special prayer. She repeatedly gave directions to those who prepared her food, to make no provision for her breakfast; nor was the cause of her abstinence known until some time afterwards. Thus evincing that her fasting was not that of "the


Page 27

Pharisee, who appears unto men to fast." Finding no relief from this occasional abstinence, she at length devoted three days to special humbling of her soul before God, during which time she took scarcely food enough to sustain her animal frame. At last the powers of nature yielded under this excessive mortification, and the physician was called in to see her. He rebuked her imprudence, reminding her that at her advanced age she could not endure so long abstinence. Her reply showed the power with which the adversary had plied his temptations, as well as her own determined resolution to resist to the last. "This kind," she said, "goeth not out, but by prayer and fasting."

        She at length found the peace she had been seeking; and enjoyed to the last hour of her life a holy serenity of soul and an unfaltering reliance on her Saviour. But her aged frame had received a shock from which it could not recover, and she continued gradually to decline till the second of September, 1845, when death came as an angel of mercy to deliver her from her infirmities. During the last week of her life there was a constant looking forward to her joyful reward. Often in the night her companions were awakened from their sleep by her exclamations, such as, "Only at the feet of Jesus I wish to lie! I feel to lay very close


Page 28

at his feet!"--and by her singing hymns descriptive of the happiness of the heavenly state. Her last words were, "Praise the Lord! I am on my journey home!" Aunt Judy was 90 years of age, and had been a professing Christian 60 years.

ABIGAIL DOBSON

        WAS a native of the West Indies. Came to this country in her early years, and to the city of New York, about the year 1806. She had lived in the family of Captain Conger. Her mother, she stated, was a servant in the family. Abby was quite aged, but cannot exactly say how old, but she "remembered Mr. Washington's wars." In 1812 she became afflicted with an inflammation of her eyes, which in the following year resulted in the total loss of her sight; and from that time until the day of her death she was never able to distinguish between the light of day and midnight darkness. She entered the N. Y. Alms-House in 1813, from whence she was transferred to the Colored Home in 1844; where she closed her life, after much suffering, on the 3d of February, 1847, leaving the clearest


Page 29

evidence that the change was to her one of joy and not of sorrow. She had been for some time a consistent member of the Amity Street Baptist Church, and was exemplary as a Christian, mild and amiable in her intercourse with those around her, patient under suffering, with a constant looking forward to the "rest which remaineth for the people of God." She had no particular disease; nature seemed gradually to give way, and she sunk to sleep as a little child. The chaplain, in one of his reports, speaking of an interview he had with her, says: "On inquiring the state of her mind, she expressed herself as happy in the midst of her afflictions. Sometimes distressing doubts obscured her prospects. 'But,' said I, 'you can trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, can you not?' 'Yes,' was her answer; 'I do; I can say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." The Saviour comforts me, and the hope of being with Christ revives me, rejoices my soul.' In regard to the probable result of her sickness she said, 'I have no will of my own--my Master's will is mine. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.' When prayer was proposed, she said, 'I greatly desire you should pray for me; pray that I may be faithful to the end; pray that I may have clearer evidence of my interest in Christ, and that He would strengthen me to do and to suffer to the end.' "


Page 30

        To this the physician adds--"She was unconscious for some hours before she breathed her last. Her last words to me were, 'I thank my Master, I feel no pain.' "

        All who approached her she welcomed with a cheerful smile. Devout and constant in prayer, she bore in remembrance before her Father's throne all she held dear on earth. During the sickness of any of the Managers, it seemed to be her comfort continually to commend them to her covenant-keeping God.

EDWARD.

        THE Chaplain remarks of this young lad: "My attention was drawn to one sitting in the corner of the room, reading the Memoir of J. B. Taylor. Near him lay a Bible and a hymn-book, which gave rise to the following conversation: 'Well, Edward, what do you think of the Bible?' 'The Bible? It is my main guide.' 'And what do you think of its author, Jesus Christ?' 'He is a precious Saviour! I feel him to be so.' 'But he afflicts you, does he not?' 'Yes; but no matter for


Page 31

that; these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, are working for me an exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' 'And how, Edward, do you expect to get to heaven? and what will you do when you get there?' 'I shall get to heaven through Jesus Christ; and I shall there give God all the glory, and continually praise Him.' "

PHILLIS DOUGLAS

        HAD been a slave in the State of New Jersey, and at the early age of twelve years chose God as the guide of her youth, who she said had not forsaken her in her old age. She was very aged when she came to the Home; was a paralytic and deprived of the use of her hands. Yet she manifested a great desire to be useful. In the days of her youth, and when in bondage, she used to pray that she might be free and become a missionary. The first part of her prayer was answered some years ago; and her second request was answered when she became a beneficiary of the Colored Home. Being able to read, and fully appreciating the privilege, she determined to impart her knowledge to the young who


Page 32

were inmates, and to others of her aged companions who were disposed to learn. She took great pleasure in this employment, teaching them their catechism, and learning them to sing hymns. Wonderful was her success, and rich her reward in this labor of love. One of the aged women, who had passed her threescore years without learning a letter, became her pupil, and in the course of a month, with a stammering but exulting tongue, she read the pages of God's Word. And there is much reason to believe, also, that the prayers and counsels of Phillis, accompanied by the power of Divine truth, have resulted in salvation to this precious soul. It may truly be said of her, "She has done what she could."

        A few hours before the death of Old Phillis, she remarked: "I cannot tell how much I have suffered from head to foot, but it is nothing compared with the love of God in my soul. I would willingly suffer it all over again, to enjoy the peace of God which comforts me." She rejoiced in the prospect of the rest in heaven.


Page 33

BETSEY JOHNSON.

        THIS remarkable woman attained the patriarchal age of one hundred and fourteen years, and although her eye became dim and her physical force abated, yet the eye of her soul gazed with increasing clearness upon the realities of the eternal world, and her spiritual energies waxed stronger and stronger, as the number of her days diminished.

        Although she was unable to read, yet so retentive was her memory, that she could repeat extensively from the Scriptures and from Dr. Watts's Hymns. She appears to have lived until she was about ninety-four years old, before she was brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, when she illustrated the sincerity of her profession by a consistent walk and conversation. In the midst of all her infirmities and sufferings, she exhibited to all around her indubitable marks of a Christian temper; and when the messenger of death approached (who had long lost his terrors to her), she called for the inmates of the Home, and with her dying breath solemnly charged them to meet her in Heaven; then in the triumph of faith she breathed out her soul in the arms of her Redeemer.


Page 34

        Betsey was a pure native of Africa, and in her earliest life was brought to one of the West India islands. From thence she was taken to Virginia, about the period she used to call the "Old War," before the Revolution. During the War of our Independence she remained in the Southern States, frequently changing owners. She often spoke of one of her young mistresses, whom she tenderly loved; and probably from her she learned the first lessons of religious truth. She remembered well most of the incidents of the Revolution, and the names of many of the most prominent characters of those days were familiar to her. During that period she married (being probably about thirty-five), and had several children.

        Her piety was of a most interesting character. She seemed to feel, that all the various trying circumstances through which she had been called to pass, were intended for her eternal good. Her mind, at times, appeared to rise above this earth, and her spiritual contemplations were of a most delightful character. She had been for a number of years a member of the Spring-street Presbyterian Church, under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Dr. Patten, and was highly esteemed for her consistency by the members of that congregation.


Page 35

PHEBE SPALDING.

        SHE was an aged pilgrim. She died suddenly of cholera, after three hours' illness. But although suddenly came the messenger, he found her not unprepared, nor unsupported in that period of bodily agony. She called her companions around her bed to tell them of her happiness, said her "Saviour was near, and the angels around to carry her home." After a paroxysm of pain, she said: "Precious Saviour, stand by me!" and thus passed quietly away.

        The evening before her death, she came into the room, clapping her hands, and joyfully exclaiming, "Glory! Glory!" "What is the matter?" inquired the physician, surprised at so much noise in a time of such dismay; (for they were falling around on every side, the worst days of the cholera.) "Why," she replied, "Thomas L--has expressed a hope: I think he will only live a few hours." Thomas, however, recovered and lived; but before morning, Phebe had entered the eternal world.

        She was anxious in life to be useful, and occupied her time in teaching her old companions to read the Scriptures; and her patience and zeal in this


Page 36

duty were most interesting. She never expressed herself weary, but only laid aside her book when her pupils became fatigued.

OLD SARAH HENRY

        WAS born in New Rochelle, Wescthester County; had lived in the family of Mr. William Post; said she "was married on the day that the Asia fired on the city." She was in the Home several years, and died at the age of 90 years. She always received the visits of the managers with a smile of welcome: "I am always so glad to see my people" (as she termed the ladies of the Institution). On one occasion of these visits, she said: "Here I am yet, bless the Lord! waiting patiently for my precious Saviour to call me home; He knows the best time, I feel no will of my own; I feel satisfied to lay here upon my sick bed; and try, when I am in pain, to think, Oh how glorious will be that home, where there is no more pain--no suffering-- no sin; I long for it; but I am willing to wait till my Saviour sees fit to call me. Here there is no rest--no peace; all in this world is like a cobweb, the least wind breaks


Page 37

it, and if any thing strikes against it, it goes to pieces; so is the peace of this world broken: but where my Saviour is, there is rest and peace." Thus was this aged saint always gentle, submissive, and apparently contented and happy. She has gone to her heavenly rest.

ELIZA DIDYMUS

        WAS, for two years previous to her decease, an inmate of the Female Hospital of the Institution, with consumption. Her case was in many respects peculiar, sometimes greatly improving, so that she was able to walk about, and then relapsing into a delirium, from excessive debility. She would thus remain for several days; but her wanderings of mind were all of a pleasant character; she was straying amidst delightful gardens, or where the sounds of sweet music could be heard; or she was among early friends, and pleasing associations. Ever thankful for favors, she remembered them with the warmest gratitude.

        During the few last months of her life she was much exercised on religious subjects, and, for some


Page 38

weeks before her death, seemed happy; at times joyfully longing to be gone. To the managers she was strongly attached, and each week longed for the visiting day, that she might once more see them, and thank them for all their kindness. Of one of them, in particular, who frequently visited her, read and conversed with her, she was very fond. "My dear Mrs. N.," she would say, "I must see her once more, she has been so kind to me." One morning she thought herself drawing near her end, but expressed a wish to live to see the physician; at 11 o'clock he arrived, and shortly after seeing her, finding her very low, he told her that she was apparently about to depart. "And is it so?" she exclaimed; "Is the time at length arrived?" Joy beamed in her countenance; and she reached out her hand in farewell to all.

        At her request Mr. B. engaged in religious exercise, and such was the solemnity of the scene that all were affected to tears. "Let me meet you all again," she said; "Farewell, farewell, all!" And so departed.


Page 39

"POOR JOHNNY,"

        AS he was familiarly called, was a little colored boy, who came to the Home in 1846. He was about 13 years of age, and had been from his earliest life a victim of scrofulous disease. About this period it had settled in his right hip-joint, which rendered it difficult for him to walk even with the help of crutches. He was a great favorite of the entire household, and a pet with all his physicians; and as long as he could walk, was in the habit of coming to the doctor's table to receive whatever had been set aside for his dinner. He was of a meek and gentle spirit, and grateful for every mark of attention shown him, so that it was a pleasure to do him kindness. The last year of his life he was almost entirely confined to his bed, and for months his body was racked with pain too distressing for words to describe; even the changing of his clothing was torture to his emaciated limbs, which were covered with sores; but he was a pattern of patience. That dark skin covered one of the most amiable and engaging spirits ever witnessed. Not a murmur escaped him; quiet, and bearing his afflictions with a submission that astonished the beholder; though young,


Page 40

he seemed at this early age to have deep religious impressions, and to be sustained by grace, and to look forward with joyful prospect to death, as a gain to the child of God. His love and affection for all around him was extremely affecting; sharing with them the little dainties that were occasionally brought to him by friends. At length, worn out by his sufferings--in the morning of his life--one day, at early dawn, he calmly fell asleep without a sigh or a groan. His end was peace. His death, we think, was gain.

CATHARINE QUEEN.

        WE are unable to give her early history. But she had been some years at the Home. Her age was 97. For a long time she was very infirm and helpless. She died in May, 1850. Some of the managers spent much time by the side of her bed, reading the Scriptures and conversing with her. This she greatly enjoyed, and always received it with great thankfulness. Catharine was of a thoughtful and contemplative turn, and always in so happy a state of mind, as made it a pleasure to visit her


Page 41

room. Her remarks were of a character indicative of deep humility and entire submission to the will of her Heavenly Father; observing, that He knew what was for her good; and "although at times," said she, "I suffer greatly from pain, yet never more than for my good." Occasionally she seemed impatient to be gone, yet again would check herself, and say--"It was not right; it is my duty to wait the will of God."

        "Aunt Queen," and "Aunt Katy Schenck," as they were familiarly termed, were room-mates, their beds were contiguous, and they appeared to have a kind regard for each other. Intimate friends in the latter days of their pilgrimage, by death they were not long divided; their society was pleasant, cheerful, instructive, and shed a lustre on the holy religion they so humbly professed.

KATY SCHENCK.

        "I WOULD like to tell you many things," said she one day to one of the reading committee (Mrs. T.), "but I will do it some other time." She was requested to relate what she had to say, now. "Well,


Page 42

I will give you a little of my history. I was born in Monmouth, New Jersey, in the family of Gerrit Vandeveer, where I lived until I was thirty years old. He was a kind and good master, gave me plenty to eat, and treated me well; our house was within three miles where the great battle was fought, and I might have seen it if I had been a mind to. I was very wicked in my early life, but I was industrious and worked hard."

        "When I was about twelve years old, I had strong convictions of sin, but resisted them, and strove to get rid of them by carelessness, and endeavored to drive religion from my thoughts; but I could not, although I gave myself to loose and wicked company. After a while my convictions left me, and I continued on in my wicked ways until I was seventeen; then the Lord took hold of me again, but I was determined to resist, and I fought against Him with all my might; and how long do you think I fought against the Lord;" said she, looking earnestly in my face, "why, till I was twenty-eight years old;" and even then the devil seemed determined that I should serve him, and not the Lord. But I worked on in my duties, and tried to serve God with all my might. Oh how my mind did strive, I cannot tell you, but it is fresh in my memory."


Page 43

        "One day, when my mind was thus dreadfully distressed, I was going a milking, but I felt so wretched, I did not know what to do; it seemed that hell was ready to receive me--it was evening--I fell upon my knees--I prayed, Lord, have mercy upon me and help me! All at once, I looked up, and I thought I saw heaven open, and it appeared to me the Lord was stooping down and lifted me up; and these words came to me: 'Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power.' I stood still--I felt such a change! I hardly knew what I was doing--I could not milk, I could do nothing but rejoice--I shouted aloud, and ran home, telling all my folks how happy I was. They did not know what to think; they asked me if I was crazy. I went to bed, but I could not sleep for my happiness. I felt now that the Lord had fast hold of me, and I was safe. I was now willing and desirous to serve God, and I went on my way rejoicing."

        "Thus in this graphic language did this old Christian woman describe the struggles connected with her conversion. And I could have lingered to have heard more of her subsequent history, but my duties directed me onward.

        "Not long after the above, I again," continues Mrs. T., "visited this old servant; she was sick and in bed. I found her very feeble, and remarked,


Page 44

I had come to read to her, if she was able, and would like to hear me. She replied, she 'would be very glad to hear me.'

        "I read one of Burder's sermons to the aged, entitled, 'Peace in Death.' During my reading, she frequently interrupted me with remarks both forcible and strong. After I had concluded reading, I said, 'You are very sick, and very old. We are all liable to sickness, and it is appointed that we all must die! The young sometimes depart in early life; but aged persons cannot expect to live much longer, but it matters not, so long as they die peaceful and happy; and now I have been reading to you about a good old man, of whom you have doubtless often read in the Bible, good old Simeon. You remember his history, do you not?' She quickly replied, 'What? old Simeon and Anna? Yes, indeed!' and raising herself upon her bed, she commenced such a strain of eloquence as completely astonished me. I was silent, and waited to listen to her; I had gone to be her instructor and consoler; but she was my teacher, and I felt I could linger at her side, for it was good to be there. She had raised herself upon her bed--'Simeon,' said she, 'was a good man, he was waiting for the salvation of God, and when he took the blessed Jesus in his arms, he was convinced that it was the Saviour


Page 45

he held there, and he said, "Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Now I feel just as Simeon did; I am ready to depart when God shall see fit. I am a poor, helpless sinner, I can do nothing--indeed there is nothing for me to do, for my Saviour has done all; and I am just waiting for Him to call me home. I lay here upon my bed, and I think, and think; I don't say nothing, but I feel as Mary did--I don't tell all I feel, but I keep it in my heart; I am an ignorant woman, and cannot express myself very well; but I trust I have been taught in the school of Christ, and have learned of Him. I used to go to Sunday school; I learned much there, and I bless God I ever went.'

        "I was fearful she would fatigue herself, and reminded her of her weakness; she replied, 'I would like to tell you many things,' and proceeded: 'Well, I would say that the Lord has taught me many things, and I have tried to teach others; I may say (and I would speak it without pride), I have preached the Gospel, that is, I have tried to speak for God, when I had a good chance. I must tell you a little story: I was at one time travelling in a vessel on the Ohio river; I had said something to someone about religion; the captain of the boat and his wife began to ridicule and abuse me; there were


Page 46

also several young men on board who were going to some college, and they likewise joined with the captain and his wife, and tried to make sport of me, taunting me for my complexion, making many foolish speeches, such as they thought would hurt my feelings. I said nothing for a while, but waited until they had ceased; then I turned to them and said, 'Gentlemen, have you got through with your speeches?' They replied, 'Yes.' 'Well,' I said, 'now it is my turn.' 'Go on,' said they. 'Well, you are on your way to College, aint you?' 'Yes.' 'Well, you need schooling, but you'll never complete your education till you get it in the school of Christ; and, if you don't get it there, and die in your sins, you will perish for ever! You have tried to make sport of me, and you think you are fine gentlemen, but I tell you, you aint hurt my feelings; I feel sorry for you, because I think you don't know any thing you ought to know, and are not "wise unto salvation." 'I talked on,' said she, 'and when I was done, a young Englishman turned to me and said, 'Mother, where did you get your learning, and who told you all these things? did you get it from the priest?' I said 'No! I learned it in the school of Christ, and from His blessed word the Bible; and I tell you, if you don't go to that school, but die in your sins and ignorance,


Page 47

you will never get to heaven. Whether what I said did them any good, or made an impression on them, I don't know, but they teased me no more, and on the rest of the way were very civil and polite; I thought they seemed to have felt what I said, and I prayed God they might.' "

        This old disciple was a lively Bible Christian, and generally speaking, was of a good and cheerful temper. In conversing of the new Home then being built, to one of the Managers, she remarked, "it will be very nice, but it must not make us forget the home in the heavens, the building not made with hands, built upon a sure foundation; for this new Home we are to have built for us here, must finally crumble and fall to the ground; but that in the heavens will last as long as God himself." So rich was her experience,--so interesting her conversation; something so attractive about her, so cheerful, and she had so many pleasant things to say, all savoring of Christian piety, of God's goodness and mercy to sinners, His condescension and kindness, especially towards herself; that it was pleasant to linger by her side.


Page 48

MARGARET SIMPSON

        WAS born in North Hampton, eastern shore of Maryland; came to New-York in her childhood, and lived in the family of the widow Townsend many years; says she has worked hard all her life, and has fairly worn out in service. She came to the Home in 1844. And although very feeble, tried to do what she could to make herself useful, by assisting in some of the household affairs, She was "thankful that she had so good a home in her last days."

DIANA.

FROM MRS. T.'S REPORT.

        IN one of the wards of the Hospital, where I had gone to read and converse with the sick, lay Diana, (a young woman,) very low--scarcely able to give utterance to her words. Her mind was dark and ignorant, she "knew her heart was unchanged" (I use her own words), "but believed that Christ was able to save her, an hoped he would." I


Page 49

read to her the 51st Psalm, and a suitable tract. She listened attentively, and I saw the tears fill her eyes. On my leaving her, she thanked me for the interest I felt for her. Alas! what Christian can visit such scenes--witness the darkness of ignorance, and hear the simple, earnest expressions of hope, coming from untaught lips, and not feel a deep interest in the objects which excite it; and strive faithfully to discharge a Christian's duty to the helpless and ignorant around him?

        In the same room was Catharine----, also a young woman of pleasing countenance. She greeted me with a smile. On my addressing some words to her, she replied, "I am very weak and feeble; I do not expect to get well-- indeed, I have no wish to stay in this world; I am still young, but I have seen enough to know that it is a world of sin and trial; and if it should please my Heavenly Father to take me away from it, why I am willing to go; yet I would be patient and wait His time. I thank Him that I was ever brought to this place, it is a good Home, and I have a great many mercies and comforts; I can read, and I take great satisfaction in reading the Bible and other good books; I bless God I ever came here."

        "I have always derived," remarks Mrs. T., in her Report, "great satisfaction from visiting this young


Page 50

person; she is so mild, humble, pleasant and cheerful amid her pains, and unmurmuring under her afflictions." She rests now from all these; and we trust, "sleeps in Jesus."

FROM THE MINUTES OF THE CHAPLAIN.

        THE Chaplain remarks--"Among those of the beneficiaries was Phebe Green; she has recently been called to her heavenly home. Her exemplary deportment for a long time gave satisfactory evidence that her name had been written in the book of life.

        "In her last moments she was not alone, for the Saviour on whom she relied was with her, and the arms of everlasting love carried her safely through the trying conflict. She died with the name of Jesus on her lips, exclaiming, 'Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.' The 27th Psalm, which was read to her, seemed to afford her sweet and refreshing views of the Redeemer, in whom she reposed her confidence, and through whose merits alone she hoped for salvation."

        "As I approached the couch of a dying youth, calling me by name, he earnestly requested that prayer might be offered in his behalf, remarking


Page 51

that his 'time was short.' Prayer was offered, and his immortal spirit commended to Him who hears the feeblest breathings of the penitent; and who can save even at the eleventh hour those who confide in the merits of the Lord Jesus. He died in about two hours after."

        "Another individual, Carter,--who was far advanced in life, and while in health was a constant attendant on the public service of God; her seat was seldom vacant, and her whole soul seemed absorbed in the truths which were uttered. Previous to her last illness, she would occasionally repair to the room of a pious female for the purpose of religious conversation, and to listen to the reading of the sacred Scriptures. When assailed by the disease which closed her earthly pilgrimage, her mind was peaceful, and her heart filled with universal love. On the day preceding her disolution, she exclaimed with emphasis, 'Oh, I want to go to Heaven!' On being asked why she wished for heaven? she replied, 'Because God is there.' She was habitually prayerful, and her consistent Christian deportment has furnished ample testimony to those who knew her best, that she was truly a ransomed soul, and, we trust, has reached that world of purity, where sin and suffering are unknown."


Page 52

SERENA JOHNSON

        HAD long been confined to her room by infirmity and disease. On inquiring of her what was the present state of her mind, she replied, "I am still at the feet of Jesus, every day begging for mercy; I think I shall be ready, through Jesus Christ, when death comes; I lean on Him, I depend on Him, I can do nothing without Him. I hope He will keep me in the hollow of His hand, and close by His bleeding side. The prayers of God's people lift me up--make my heart warm." "She loves the society and conversation of Christians, and feels neglected, if in her solitude a few moments are not spent with her in prayer. Such was the simple testimony which this poor and ignorant colored woman gave of the power of religion on her own heart."

DIANA RAYNER.

        "I WELL remember her as my guide in months past to the various apartments of the sick, infirm, and


Page 53

anxious. She always evinced that sympathy and love for others which characterized Christian benevolence. We trust she sleeps in Jesus--and will hereafter awake in His likeness."

SARAH ROBINSON.

        As she gradually declined in health, no cloud seemed to obstruct her spiritual vision. She patiently and submissively waited for her release from sin and suffering, and appeared to have a foretaste of heaven in her soul.

BLIND DIANA.

        "ON approaching the bed of Blind Diana, she immediately recognized my voice, greeted me cordially, and spoke of the inward peace she experienced, and the implicit confidence she felt in the. Saviour; 'His will,' said she, 'is my will, and I am still waiting for Him.' This poor blind one seems to take hold on Christ by intelligent faith and hope,


Page 54

and the consciousness that He is her friend, seems to mitigate her sufferings, and enable her joyfully to anticipate the change which is approaching. Such examples of patient, Christian submission, are cheering to the pious heart, and eminently worthy of imitation.

        "Few of the pensioners interest me more than Blind Diana; never have I seen any thing like impatience or dissatisfaction with the dispensations of Divine Providence towards her; on the contrary, sweet submission to the Divine will marks her whole deportment. 'Do not the days seem long,' said I, 'as you can neither read nor work?' 'Oh no!' was her prompt reply, 'for though blind, I can think of my precious Saviour, and converse with Him. I have in Him something to lean upon, and no one knows how much comfort I have in my Saviour. It is all well, whatever He is pleased to lay upon me--I shall be at home by and by!' Such is the uniform state of her mind; calm, peaceful, 'looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of her faith.' She now, we trust, beholds with unsealed eyes, and unobstructed vision, the refulgent glory of heaven."

        "In the Female Department I was addressed by one who lay sick and low. She greeted me cordially. I had scarcely commenced conversation,


Page 55

when the tears started in her eyes, and she exclaimed: 'I feel that I am a poor sinner, but God is kind and good to me in my afflictions, and I can trust in Him.'

        "Every successive month affords encouragement to believe that the Divine Spirit is graciously operating on some of the objects of this Christian charity. Our religious services are marked by seriousness and devout attention, and by many we are cordially greeted as messengers of good tidings to the poor and the perishing.

        "I have repeatedly conversed and prayed with those who are confined by sickness and infirmity to their rooms, and listened with much pleasure, as they testified from their own experience to the faithfulness and love of their Redeemer, and witnessed their sweet submission to the Divine will.

        "A beautiful and affecting illustration of the power and influence of Evangelical faith was recently presented, in the case of one far advanced in life, and an invalid. It appears, that at a very early age religious impressions were made on her mind by a relative of her mistress, who sang the Ten Commandments in verse, and who told her that 'He who gave us those Commandments would be her friend, if she would trust in Him.' This simple truth was received into a good and honest heart;


Page 56

she believed, and it was counted to her for righteousness. 'I have always, since that time,' said she, 'trusted in Him, and I will still trust.' She requested prayer, 'that God would do with her just as He pleased;' she was 'willing to suffer all He could lay upon her.' Her simple and unaffected manner, accompanied with tears of gratitude for what God had done for her, was most affecting, and well calculated to magnify the grace of God, as exhibited in one more than fourscore years of age, and near her Heavenly Home.

        "Another aged woman always greets me cordially and with childlike simplicity; speaks feelingly of her dependence on God, and of the preciousness of the Saviour to her soul, and is never willing to have me leave her without offering prayer. She thinks much of Jesus Christ, and appears to rest her hope of salvation confidently on His merits alone.

        "Passing by another of these aged and afflicted servants of God, who for successive months has been an invalid and confined to her bed and room, she said: 'Jesus is near and precious! If the whole of New-York were offered me for Christ, I would not accept it: His will is my will; if He afflicts, it is all right.'

        "One, sick and blind, on recognizing my voice, extended her emaciated hand to welcome me.


Page 57

        "Here was presented an impressive instance of patient submission, which might have shamed many of the professed followers of the Saviour. She is cheerfully anticipating the change which must ere long take place. Death to her seems divested of his terrors, as she reclines sweetly on the arm of Infinite Benevolence. She is indeed 'a living epistle, known and read of all;' and her Christian example commands the respect and admiration of even the impenitent around her.

        "Another case has interested me much. She, too, is one of God's afflicted people, but happy in the consciousness that her peace is made with God. She longs to be gone, but is submissive to the will of Heaven. 'Glorious prospects!' she says, 'are opening to my view; and why one so poor, ignorant, useless, and unworthy, should be continued, is incomprehensible.' I endeavored to explain the mystery, that perhaps it was that she might show to those around her the efficacy of the blessedness of that religion which gives peace and consolation amidst the sharpest trials. This seemed a new idea, and one that afforded pleasant reflection; and she reiterated the sentiment, 'All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come.'

        "My attention was called by a colored man, who conducted me to the sick-bed of one in the male


Page 58

department. He was very ill, though able to converse; and seemed deeply concerned for his soul. It appeared, from his own voluntary confession, that he had been notorious for his impiety. Profane, rancorous in his opposition to religion and the friends of religion, he had carefully sought to shun their influence, and to close his ear against the truth. It was apparent that the Holy Spirit was striving with him, for he hesitated not to express his penitence for sin, and requested me to pray for him.

        "On a subsequent visit, I found him more composed; and light seemed breaking into his benighted mind. Alluding to his former antipathy to Christians, he said he now felt very different; he loved to have them near him, and to hear their conversation and prayers. He felt he could give himself to the Lord Jesus Christ, and believed that, though a great sinner, God could forgive him for Christ's sake. When asked what I should pray for, he said, 'That my associates may seek their salvation and come to Jesus Christ.' This unexpected and ingenuous concern for others seemed to furnish some cheering evidence that, 'though he was once blind, he now saw.' A short time before his death, he said to one who had formerly in vain attempted to converse with him in reference to his soul, 'The time was when I hated you and your religious conversation,


Page 59

but now I love you as a Christian.' His end was full of comfort and hope, and we feel encouraged to believe he was indeed 'a brand plucked out of the fire.' "

        "After one of our religious services, an aged invalid approached me with tears. On asking the cause of her solicitude, she replied, that 'though a professor of religion, she had been neglectful of prayer, and other Christian duties, and consequently had lost that sweet sense of forgiveness she once enjoyed.' I endeavored to impress her mind with the sinfulness and ingratitude of neglecting her soul; and urged her to look to Him who invites the wanderer to return and obtain forgiveness."

        "On one occasion I was much interested by the conversation of two individuals, who had been unavoidably prevented from attending service. One of them remarked, with an expression of countenance and an emphasis which indicated truth and honesty--'Though not always with you, I can and do pray for you.' In another apartment, one remarked, that before he came to the Home, 'he knew not that he had an immortal soul, but supposed that at death he should be like the beasts that perish, but since he had heard the Gospel, his views had been entirely changed.' He now


Page 60

converses intelligently in regard to the plan of salvation."

        "A poor inmate severely afflicted with cancer has recently deceased. Her coffined remains were conveyed to the chapel on the Lord's Day, and from thence by her relations to the place of interment. She continued to the last hour of her life steadfast in the faith of the Gospel, and has left to surviving friends the cheering hope, that her end was peace. This event furnished an opportunity to speak to the assembled inmates of the necessity and importance of habitual preparation for death and judgment, which we endeavored to improve."

        "On inquiring of a sick man with whom I had been conversing, if he desired prayer should be offered in his behalf; with tears starting in his eyes he emphatically exclaimed, 'Oh yes! I want faith to throw myself right on the Lord Jesus Christ.' "

        "Another, who was a poor victim of consumption, expressed himself as being happy in the prospect of death, and desired that prayer should be offered, 'that he might get safe home.' "

        "In the male department is a man about 30 years old. About one month since he was led to see himself as lost and ruined by sin, and to look to Christ as his only refuge. He seems like one newborn into the kingdom of grace, and to have adopted


Page 61

the resolution of Joshua-- 'As for me, I will serve the Lord.' "

        "A female, whose attention has recently been arrested, voluntarily came to me, to tell me what God had done for her soul. She also appears humble, penitent, and much impressed with the love of Christ in dying for sinners. Speaking of her interest in the spiritual welfare of the unconverted, she remarked, 'she now loved them better than ever, and prayed that God would open their eyes to see their lost condition.' Her simple and unaffected manner, and her deep feeling, carried conviction to the mind that the blessed Spirit had indeed begun a good work which He would carry onward to maturity.

        "Two aged women have also expressed deep concern for their spiritual welfare, and appear to feel that they have too long neglected salvation, and that it is high time to give the subject immediate attention."

        "At the close of one of our religious services, I was informed that an aged inmate, very ill, was desirous to see me. She was 87 years of age, and for 70 of that number had professed religion. As I approached her bedside, extending her withered had, she exclaimed, 'Oh, I am happy! I am ready to go to my heavenly home at any time;


Page 62

the Saviour is precious; I would not give up the hope I have of an interest in Him for millions of worlds! I have always found Him faithful to His word; but when I get yonder' (raising her eyes towards heaven), 'that will be best of all.' This old person has always been one of the most regular attendants upon religious worship, and her exemplary deportment has uniformly evinced the sincerity of her profession and her ripeness for heaven."

        "A few days since, I was requested to visit one in the hospital, on whom a surgical operation was about to be performed. Seating myself by his bedside, I had scarcely commenced conversing with him, when I discovered that his mind was awake to the subject of religion, and that he was anxious for instruction: his sins appeared before him in fearful magnitude, and all hope of pardon seemed to have fled. He imagined he had sinned beyond the possibility of forgiveness. He, however, listened with evident interest, as I endeavored to preach to him the blessed Gospel of the Son of God, and unfold the fulness and freeness of salvation through Christ Jesus. After conversing and praying with him, I took my leave of him, promising to see him again shortly.

        "On the following Thursday I repaired to his bedside, and found him extremely feeble, in


Page 63

consequence of the operation to which he had submitted, and that he could converse but little. On this occasion, I soon perceived that a great change had taken place in his experience--the clouds had dispersed, and he now joyfully received the good news that Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost; and that whoever believeth on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. He remarked, 'that he thought he had given himself to the Saviour, and that he could now rely on Him for salvation. Yesterday,' said he, 'was a sweet day, for it was impressed upon my mind, that if I would believe on Christ, He would save my soul. He makes me happy, He is indeed precious to my soul. I wish I was able to talk, but I am too weak.' His view of the plan of salvation appears Scriptural, and I cannot but hope he has made his peace with God."

        "The triumphs of Divine grace," concludes the Chaplain, in one of his Reports to the Managers, "which we are permitted to witness among these poor ignorant subjects of your charity, seem often to consecrate the place, and call forth involuntarily the exclamation of the poet--


                         'The chamber where the good man meets his fate,
                         Is privileged beyond the common walks of life,
                         --quite on the verge of heaven.'


Page 64

And we are constrained to feel that the self-denying effort in which this Society is engaged, is eminently approved of God. And may we not hope that some bright gems, that will adorn the Saviour's crown, will be gathered from those who have been the humble pensioners of your bounty? 'Cast thy bread upon the waters; for thou shalt find it after many days.'

MRS. R.'S STATEMENT.

        Mrs. R., of the Reading Committee, in speaking of the readiness with which the inmates listened to religious instruction, states:--

        "It is a delightful occupation, and not unworthy the follower of Jesus, to sit in the society of such as when He was on earth He delighted to meet and to bless--the poor, the sick, the lame, and the blind; and to dispense, not indeed like Him the words which gave the body healing; but those of spiritual comfort and hope. It is truly gratifying to find so many among those whom the world overlooks as poor and ignorant, 'rich in faith,' and wise unto salvation. They cannot, in some instances, read--nor can they in words of burning eloquence explain


Page 65

how the love of God has operated to work in them a return of that love--but they have the witness within. 'Jesus is precious, very precious.' 'The Lord has taken sin from the soul,' are expressions testifying their experimental knowledge of the justifying and sanctifying grace of God.

        "One on her death-bed said to me: 'Jesus is with me all the time--when I awake in the night, it seems as if His arms were around me, and all the day He continues near me.' These expressions prove nothing in themselves, except, as in the case of these persons, supported by the tenor of the daily life--but they come with a power which no human eloquence can give."

        It is certainly very encouraging to the hearts of the Reading Committee to receive so kind a welcome from those poor creatures, who know that we come to minister to their spiritual rather than their bodily wants. Many among them seem to be sensible of the importance of being able to read the Scriptures, and are diligent scholars at the feet of those of their number who were more fortunate in early life, and obtained this accomplishment. One woman, of perhaps 70 years, began to learn her alphabet, and in about one month, such was her application and zeal, that, with the aid of occasional prompting, she learned to read several chapters in St. John's Gospel. "One aged


Page 66

woman (continues Mrs. R.) excited my interest by her contentment of spirit. I ventured to ask her the cause of her cheerfulness. 'Oh,' said she, 'I live in hope of a better place when I leave this one; I take comfort in thinking of Heaven. I know my kind Master, who has carried me so far on my way towards it, will not desert me in my old age. His grace has been, and I trust ever will be, my support on the way.' Again: 'A girl, to whom my attention was directed, had been brought to the home a few weeks since in the last stage of consumption. Although her bodily health was hopelessly gone, she had recourse to the Physician of souls, and found recovering grace at the last hour--grief for sin, and anxiety for pardon, for many days overcame and swallowed up her bodily sufferings. A short time before her death she seemed to find spiritual comfort, and she finally breathed her last, with her song of triumph on her lips. These and other instances show the incalculable benefit of this Institution to the souls of that neglected class who come under its care."


Page 67

PETER BENSÉ

        OR "Peter Polite," as he was familiarly called at the Home, on account of his suavity of manner and respectful demeanor toward every one.

        To his superiors he always observed a marked deference, while to his associates and familiars he was courteous and pleasant. His address and manner appeared to belong to the school of Louis XIV.

        We do not feel authorized to make any special record of him as a decided Christian character; but, from his general conduct and moral deportment while an inmate of the Home, we have reason to hope that he was not unmindful of his eternal interests; and trust that he found mercy of the Lord in the day of his extremity. The varied and singular events of his changeful life, make him worthy a passing notice in this brief history: we therefore give a short sketch of him, as obtained from verbal conversation occasionally had with him by the resident physician, Dr. J. D. Fitch, to whom he appeared pleased to communicate some of the past scenes and circumstances connected with his early life.

        His statement was, that he was born in one of


Page 68

the West India islands, and that at a very early age he was taken by a gentleman to England, with whom he lived in the city of London until he was probably twenty years old. He then accompanied some public functionary (name not recollected) as valet, to the Court of St. Petersburgh. In that city he remained until he was probably thirty-five years old. While there, he frequently accompanied his master to court, where, from his complexion, he was viewed somewhat as a curiosity, and was treated by members of the royal family with marked kindness and favor. He spoke of the Empress Catharine with strong expressions of respect and esteem, and even of affection, on account of her great kindness and attention to him. On one occasion, when his master's duties required him to be absent for some weeks from St. Petersburgh, at the special request of the Empress he was permitted to remain at the Palace Royal until his return; where he served not only as 'valet'--but, having considerable taste as a coiffeur, he was frequently employed in that capacity by the Royal Household.

        Among other reminiscences mentioned by Peter, he stated, that he was either in or near the palace at the time of the assassination of the Emperor Paul in 1801. He seemed quite familiar with the principal occurrences of that eventful period--and while relating them manifested deep feeling and interest.


Page 69

        During his residence in St. Petersburgh, he married a young native Russian woman, by whom he had two sons. About this time, (probably about 1810,) his master was recalled home. After bidding adieu to his wife and children, he entered with his master on board of an English vessel then awaiting them at one of the Russian seaport towns. He remarked it was a severe trial for him to part with his family--but he left them with the determination of returning to them whenever circumstances would permit him so to do.

        While on their way to England, and on the coast of France, their vessel was taken by a French cruiser, and carried into Brest; from thence he, with his master, were conveyed prisoners to Paris. He stated that his master, although held a prisoner, was, by the order of Napoleon, treated with great attention, and allowed to visit and receive visits from many distinguished individuals residing in Paris. Among these were Marshals Ney and Soult.

        On one occasion his master was invited to dine with the latter; Peter accompanied, and waited on him at table, this being customary. There were many prominent characters present, who flourished during the career of the Emperor Napoleon. He remained in Paris until after peace, and after the


Page 70

entrance of the allied armies; leaving it just after Napoleon had departed for Elba.

        During his stay in Paris, which was three or four years, he had frequent opportunities of seeing the Emperor both at Reviews and at the Palace Royal, as attendant on persons connected with the families of Soult and Ney. He was in London at the visit of the Emperor of Russia and King of Prussia to the Prince Regent, and appeared familiar with all the gay scenes of that period. He saw the Prince Regent on horseback ride around Hyde Park, accompanied by Royal personages; and he was at London during the coronation of George IVth, assisting as coiffeur to his master, who attended on that august occasion. He frequently, in his relation of the events of his life, mentioned many of the circumstances attending the all-exciting subjects of that day. He related many things connected with the trial of Queen Caroline, consort of George IV.; had frequent opportunities of seeing her; and his sympathies were great on her behalf.

        Amidst all the changing vicissitudes of his wandering life, Peter remarked that he never forgot his wife and children, but constantly looked forward to the time when he should again return to them. When in London the last time, he received information in some way, that his family had gone to the


Page 71

United States and had landed in New-York, expecting to meet him there. On this intelligence, he obtained permission of his master to go and join them. He immediately left England and proceeded to America, full of hope and anticipated happiness of again clasping to his bosom the wife of his youth, and his children. But ah! how sad was his disappointment! On arriving in New-York, all his inquiries respecting them were unsuccessful, and he could gain no information whatever respecting them. His continued efforts incurred expenses, and his little fund becoming exhausted,--poor and dispirited he sought the situation of a waiter, still determined, so soon as he could raise the means, to go back to St. Petersburgh, and seek his family.

        The accomplishment of this hope he never realized. Anxieties, and the infirmities of age broke down his health--his means of sustenance failed--and in this day of his emergencies (1841), he came to the Colored Home, seeking there within its walls a refuge and a resting-place. Here he remained until his decease, which occurred in June 1848, being as was supposed about ninety-three years old.

        Peter Bensé was remarkable for his fluency of expression,--he spoke with the French accent. His memory was remarkably retentive; in which there seemed but one defect; there appeared to be a perfect


Page 72

vacuum in his mind as to the time which had elapsed since he separated from his wife and children; and when within a few days of his death his spirits revived, and he spoke cheerfully of the hope of again meeting them; associating always the idea that he should find them as youthful and juvenile as when he parted from them-- although nearly half a century had passed away.

        Among the articles which he considered of great value, were notes of recommendation from many distinguished personages both in England and France; and most particularly, a large parchment, on which was written his passport in the Russian language. His appearance when walking in the street was dignified; carrying in his hand a large brass-headed cane, the companion of many years. His head was covered with full bushy hair, which, being whitened by age, had much the appearance of a wig.

        Alas! poor Bensé. Heaven had decreed that you should never meet again on earth the loved ones of your earlier days. May the hope be realized in that land of joy and gladness, where sorrow, disappointment, and parting are never known.



Page 73

CONCLUDING REMARKS.

        IT would extend the limits of these pages too far, and time would fail us, to tell of all those who have found the Home but a pleasant stage in their journey through this weary world to their final resting-place; and who have died in faith in a certain hope of finding a "better country, even a heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city."

        In the foregoing instances we see that the minds of these sable ones were as susceptible of those feelings which dignify and elevate human nature as those of others; and the humble, grateful expression of their sense of God's mercy to them through Christ, as sincere and lively as ever emanated from those who may have been highly cultivated, or placed in more enlightened society under greater advantages.

        The influence of grace upon the heart is the same in its effects upon all classes; as far as changing the will and temper is concerned. It humbles pride, and subdues the will; it changes the heart of man, and brings him to view himself in his true character; a poor, wretched sinner, exposed to


Page 74

the just displeasure of a Holy God whom he has offended.

        When he becomes sensible of this, he is willing to be saved on God's terms. And this is the same, whether in the son of a prince, or untutored, unlettered child of obscurity, whatever be his complexion or circumstances. He who "made of one blood all nations of men," careth alike for all. The Saviour died for sinners--that whoever believeth on Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. The redemption of the soul is precious.

        Can we, then, be too earnest in seeking it both in ourselves and others?--can we do too much to cause "the abundant grace by the thanksgiving of many, to redound with glory to God?" Led of His Spirit and His Providence; and blessed as we have in this effort been of Him; is it possible that we can do too much for Jesus?-- for Jesus, who for us endured the cross, despising the shame!

M. W. T.


Page 75

CONDENSED STATEMENT OF THE COLORED HOME--ITS ORIGIN, &c.

        THE Colored Home of the city of New-York originated in the liberality of one Christian lady--Miss Jay, daughter of the late distinguished and venerable John Jay, of New-York.

        The sum of One Thousand Dollars was paid over by Miss Jay, to a few ladies who convened at the residence of her sister, Mrs. Maria Bauyer, in the autumn of 1839. The sum appropriated was especially designed for the relief of the sick and respectable Colored Aged.

        This was the origin of the Colored Home. In the year 1845, the Society was incorporated by the State Legislature, under the title of "The Society for the Support of the Colored Home." A petition was also presented to the Legislature for the repeal of certain acts passed March 11th, 1839, and May 26th, 1841 (which appropriated


Page 76

$10,000 for a State Hospital in the city of New-York), asking a transfer of the money therein named to the Colored Home.

        These acts were repealed, a new act framed, and the money aforesaid was transferred to the Managers of the Colored Home, to be applied to the erection of a permanent building on the real estate belonging to the said Home in the city of New-York, for the relief and support of disabled Colored Sailors, and other infirm and destitute colored people.

        With a view to more extensive usefulness, the Society made arrangements with the Commissioners of the Alms-House, to receive into the Institution, at a very low rate, all colored paupers of the city, reserving the right to reject such applicants as the resident physician should medically pronounce unfit patients for the Colored Home.

        In 1848, the Society purchased 44 lots of ground lying on Sixty-Fifth-street, between Avenue A and First Avenue; upon which the Managers have recently erected a suitable building. It consists of two distinct divisions or wings, for the accommodation of the male and female departments, each 100 by 26 feet, separated by a ground plot of 100 feet, the whole forming an open square.

        At the first meeting, in 1839, after the adoption of


Page 77

the constitution, twelve individuals were proposed and received as objects worthy of relief.

        During the year 1847, the statistics show that the Institution had, during that period, under its care nearly one thousand persons; a large proportion of whom were from the Alms-House.

        The Colored Home is conducted in a careful and judicious manner.

        The following persons at present constitute its Board of Officers and Managers:--


Page 78


Return to Menu Page for Sketches of ... Beneficiaries of the Colored Home ... by Mary W. Thompson

Return to North American Slave Narratives Home Page

Return to Documenting the American South Home Page