On the Grave of the Good, Great Man

by Mrs. Follen

"Henry—, a MAN in the best sense of the term, strong in body and soul, with a heart full of the noblest purposes, which he carried out into action, without show and with a child-like mind."

"To the great Giver of all things thankful for the smallest gift. To his family a devoted father. To his friends a faithful friend. To the state a useful citizen. To the poor a benefactor. To the dying a worthy example."

"Why was this power broken in the prime of life? Why were the wings of this diligent spirit clipped? Why were stopped the beatings of this heart, which beat for all created things? Sad questions, which can only find an answer in the assurance that all which God wills for us is good."

"Peace be with thee, friend and brother! We can never forget thee."

Around their father's grave the children stand,
And mourning friends are shedding bitter tears;
With sorrowing faces men are standing here,
Whose tender love did bear him in their arms
In sickness once, and now once more in death,
Him who protector, friend, and helper was;
And many eyes whose tears he wiped away,
Are weeping at his narrow house to-day.

When the frail vestments of the soul
Are hidden in the tomb, what then remains to man?
The memory of his deeds is ours.
O sacred death, then, like the flowers of spring,
Many good deeds are brought to light.
Blessed and full of love, good children
And true friends stand at his grave,
And there with truth loudly declare,
"A noble soul has gone to heaven;
Rich seed has borne celestial fruit;
His whole day's work now in God is done."
Thus speak we now over thy grave,
Our friend, now glorified and living in our hearts.
A lasting monument thou thyself hast built
In every heart which thy great worth has known.

Yes, more than marble or than brass, our love
Shall honor thee, who dwellest in our hearts.
These tears, which pure love consecrates to thee,
Thou noble man, whom God has called away
From work which He himself has blessed,—
These grateful tears shall fall upon the tomb
That hides the earthly garment of our friend.

O, let us ne'er forget the firm and earnest mind
Which bore him swiftly onward in his course;
How from a slender twig he built a bridge
O'er which he safely hastened to the work
Which youthful hope and courage planned.
Think how the circle of his love embraced
His children and his children's children, all,
His highest joy their happiness and good.

Think how he labored for the good of all,
Supporter, benefactor, faithful friend!
How with his wise and powerful mind
He served and blessed his native place!
His works remain to speak his praise.
How did his generous, noble spirit glow
With joy at all the good and beautiful
Which time and human skill brought forth!
He ever did the standard gladly gain
Which light, and truth, and justice raised;
And when his noble efforts seemed to fail,
Found ever in his pure and quiet breast a sweet repose.

We give to-day thy dust to dust.
Thy spirit, thy true being, is with us.
Thou art not dead; thou art already risen.
Loved friend, thou livest, and thou watchest o'er us still.
Be dry our tears; be hushed our sighs;
Victor o'er death, our friend still lives;
Takes his reward from the Great Master's band.
Deep night has passed away. On him
Eternal morning breaks. He,
From the dark chamber of the grave,
Goes to the light of the All-holy One.

Weep, weep no more! Look up with hope on high!
There does he dwell. He liveth too on earth.
The Master who has called him hence to higher work,
To-morrow will call us—perhaps to-day.
Then shall we see him once again. He, who went home
From earth in weakness and in pain,
Is risen there in everlasting joy and strength.
Till then we here resolve to live like him,
That we, like him, may die religious, true, and free.

When any little boy reads this true story of a good, great man, I would have him remember that Henry began to be a good, great man when only eight years old. Henry began by being industrious, patient, and good humored, so that people liked to buy his sticks. Then he was faithful and true to his father, and would not leave him, not even for the sake of gaining some advantages. Henry used all his faculties, and, by making his pretty canes, he got money, not to buy sugar plums, but to pay for instruction. When he did wrong, he took his punishment cheerfully, and did not commit the same fault again. All the virtues which finally made him a good, great man he began to practise when he was only eight years of age, when he was really a little boy.

I would have every little boy and girl who reads this story try to imitate him. If he is poor, let him learn to do something useful, so to earn money that may help his father and mother, and perhaps be the means of giving him a better education. If he is rich, let him seek to get knowledge, and let him remember those who have not as much as he has, like little Eva, who taught Uncle Tom. Let him remember that the selfish and the lazy cannot be truly happy; that selfishness is its own punishment in the end; that no children and no men are truly happy or truly good who do not obey the words of the noble-minded Henry on his death-bed—

"Be useful, and love one another"