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lately arrived in this country from Scotland. They were suddenly pleased with each other. Private interviews soon took place between them, and in the course of a few months they were married. The inequality of their ages, (for he was ten years younger than Miss Græme) was opposed, in a calculation of their conjugal happiness, by the sameness of their attachment to books, retirement, and literary society. They settled upon the estate in Montgomery County, which Mrs. Ferguson's father (who died at an advanced age soon after her marriage) bequeathed to her. But before the question of their happiness could be decided by the test of experiment, the dispute between Great-Britain and America took place, in which it became necessary for Mr. Ferguson to take part. He joined the former in the year 1775, and from that time a perpetual separation took place between him and Mrsa Perguson. Other causes contributed to prevent their reunion after the peace of 1782; but the recital of them would be uninteresting as well asf oreign to the design of this publication. Mrs. Ferguson passed the interval between the year 1775 and the time of her death, chiefly in the country upon her farm, in reading, and in the different branches of domestic industry. A female friend who had been the companion of her youth, and whose mind was congenial to her own, united her destiny with hers, and soothed her various distresses by all the kind and affectionate offices which friendship and sympathy could dictate. In her retirement she was eminently useful. The doors of the cottages that were in her neighbourhood bore the marks of her footsteps, which were always accompanied or followed with cloathing, provisions, or medicines, to relieve the nakedness, hunger, or sickness of their inhabitants. During the time general Howe had possession of Philadelphia, she sent a quantity of linen into the city, spun with her own hands, and directed it to be made into shirts for the benefit of the American prisoners that were taken at the battle of Germantown.
Upon hearing, in one of her visits to Philadelphia, that a merchant once affluent in his circumstances, was suddenly thrown into gaol by his creditors, and was suffering from the want of many of the usual comforts of his life, she sent him a bed, and afterwards procured admission into his apartment, and put twenty dollars into his hands. He asked for the name of his benefactor. She refused to make herself known to him, and suddenly left him. This humane and charitable act would not have been made known, had not the gentleman's description of her person and dress discovered it. At this time her an. nual income was reduced to the small sum of one hundred and sixty dollars a year, which had been saved by the friendship of the late Mr. George Meade, out of the wreck of her estate. Many such secret acts of charity, exercised at the expense of her personal and habitual coma' forts, might be mentioned. They will all be made known elsewhere. In these acts she obeyed the gospel commandment of loving her neighbours better than herself. Her sympathy was not only active, but passive in a high degree. In the extent of this species of sensibility, she seemed to be all nerve. She partook of the minutest sorrows of her friends, and even a newspaper that contained' a detail of public or private wo, did not pass through her hands without being bedewed with a tear. Nor did her sympathy with misery end here. The sufferings of the brute creation often drew sighs from her bosom, and led her to express a hope that reparation would be made to them for those sufferings in a future state of existence.
I have said that Mrs. Ferguson possessed a talent for poetry. Some of her verses have been published, and many of them are in the hands of her friends. They discover a vigorous poetical imagination, but the want of a poetical ear. This will not surprise those who know there may be poetry without metre, and metre without poetry.
The prose writings of Mrs. Ferguson indicate strong marks of genius, taste, and knowledge. Nothing that came from her pen was common. Even her hasty notes to her friends placed the most trivial subjects in such a new and agreeable light, as not only secured them from destruction, but gave them a durable place among the most precious fragments of fancy and sentiment.
Some of her letters will appear in future numbers of The Port Folio.
Mrs. Ferguson was a stranger to the feelings of a mother, for she had no children, but she knew, and faithfully performed all the duties of that relation to the son and daughter of one of her sisters, who committed them to her care upon her death bed. They both possessed hereditary talents and virtues. Her nephew, John Young, became under her direction, an accomplished scholar and gentleman. He died a lieutenant in the British army, leaving behind him a record of his industry and knowledge, in an elegant translation of d’Argent's Ancient Geography, into the English language. A copy of this valuable work is to be seen in the Philadelphia Library, with a tribute to the memory of the translator by Mrs. Ferguson.* The mind of her niece,
• A singular incident laid the foundation for the literary acquirements of this young gentleman. Before his 12th year, he was an idle boy; about that time, his aunt locked him in her father's library, for four and twenty hours, as a punishment for some offence. In this situation, he picked up a book to relieve himself, from the uneasiness of his solitude. This book arrested and fixed his attention. He read it through, and from that time he became devoted to books and study.
Ann Young, was an elegant impression of her own: she married Dr. William Smith, of Philadelphia, and lived but a few years afterwards. She left a son and daughter; the latter followed her mother prematurely to the grave, in the year 1808, in the 30th year of her age; after exhibiting to a numerous and affectionate circle of acquaintances, a rare instance of splendid talents and virtues, descending unimpaired through four successive generations.
The virtues which have been ascribed to Mrs. Ferguson, were not altogether the effects of education, nor of a happy moral texture of mind. They were improved, invigorated, and directed in their exercises by the doctrines and precepts of Christianity. To impress the .contents of the Bible more deeply upon her mind, she transcribed every chapter and verse in it, and hence arose the facility and success with which she frequently selected its finest historical and moral passages to illustrate or adorn the subjects of her writings and conversation.
She was well read in polemical divinity, and a firm believer in what are considered the mysteries of revelation. Although educated in the forms, and devoted to tlie doctrines of the church of England, she worshipped devoutly with other sects, when she resided among them, by all of whom she was with a singular unanimity believed to be a sincere and pious Christian.
There was a peculiarity in her disposition, which would seem, at first sight, to cast a shade over the religious part of her character. After the reduction of her income, she constantly refused to accept of the least pecuniary assistance, and even of a present, from any of her friends. Let such persons who are disposed to ascribe this conduct to unchristian pride, recollect, there is a great difference between that sense of poverty, which is induced by adverse dispensations of Provi. dence, and that which is brought on by voluntary charities. Mrs. Ferguson conformed, in the place, and manner of her living, to the parrowness of her resources. She knew no want that could make a wise or good woman unhappy, and she was a stranger to the “real evil" of debt. Her charities, moreover, would not have been her own, had they been replaced by the charities of her friends.
The afflictions of this excellent woman from all the causes that have been mentioned, did not fill up the measure of her sufferings. Her passage out of life was accompanied with great and protracted pain. This welcome event took place on the 23rd of February, in the year 1801, in the 620 year of her age, at the house of Seneca Lukins, a member of the Society of Friends, near Græme Park. Her body was interred, agreeably to her request by the side of her parents in the enclosure of Christ Church, in Philadelphia.
Should this attempt to rescue the name and character of this illustrious woman from oblivion, fall into the hands of any of the female readers of The Port Folio, who have been accustomed to feel an elevation of soul in contemplating the honour which Madame Dacier, Madame Sevignè ; Lady Rachael Russel, and Mrs. Rowe, have conferred upon their respective countries; let them exult not less in reflecting, that a similar honour has been conferred upon the United States, by the singular attainments and virtues of Mrs. Elizabeth Ferguson
-FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
Malo est audax. Ovid.
How apt we are to complain of the very causes of our success, and to think the hand that is raised to give us bounty uplifted to strike us. Adversity, which is frequently the hand of heaven extended in beneficence to man, is generally regarded as the stroke of fate, that is to prostrate him in the dust, and is the constant subject and burthen of his complaints. Nay, the kindness of the blow is often in proportion to its severity; and countless characters, that have gleamed with transcendent effulgence in this night of time, have been indebted to the extreme chillness of adversity for giving them lustre.
Niobe is drawn by Ovid audax malo, bold from distress. The arrow, winged by Apollo himself, from which the startled air drew back, passed by her " as the idle wind;"
Praeter Nioben unam, conteruit omnes.
It had not power to move what had already sunk into firmness. Excessere metum sua jam mala. Evil was now her good, but both were beyond fear. The celestials were defeated. She was now fearless from grief.
In the fate of Tantalus's daughter, the Roman bard has illustrated and enforced a moral truth. Adversity gives a hardihood to character, as the fibre is hardened against the winds of heaven by exposure to their blasts. Never was there a revolution but the storm found out its genius. Never adversity, that it did not probe to the quick of talent. If ability inheres, adversity will try it and search it out. If it be a sight worthy of the gods, “A brave man struggling with the storms of fate,” those storms maķing a man struggle into bravery are far worthier
the divinities' attention. From being long engaged in the conflict with Destiny, you at length get to master him. You in some degree control events, or in the bold language of the poet, “ take a bond of fate."
Philosophers account for the introduction of natural or physical evil Consistently with the perfections of the introducer by supposing it the necessary and only possible mean of exciting the virtues. Without distress there could be no room for compassion, and without an object in need of relief the very bond of perfectness, charity, would be cancelled in the system. There seems to be a similar necessity for this evil for the production of talent. Such is the indolence of the human animal, it seems as though he would prefer natural darkness as favourable to rest, to the light of that sun, which would compel him to exertion te procure shelter from the heat of his beams. As moralists and mathematicians agree that to succeed in an experiment the power must be proportionate to the degree of resistance, great, indeed, must be the force to overcome this passive principle. When we add to this the clouds and darkness, that overshadow every human enterprise and pro ject, we can hardly doubt for a moment, that this boasted lord of the creation would be torpid throughout the winter of existence, did not necessity mingle with the blood in his veins and stimulate him to action. It is, that torpor would be numbness, and that that blood must else cease to flow, that reluctant man is ever prevailed upon to put himself in motion. The same power that produces is alone competent to preserve, and when the necessity, real or apprehended, has ceased, the subject relapses into congenial inaction.
The belles lettres of the language are mostly the mere result of this principle. The writers of the most brilliant productions, that adorn the shelf of the scholar, have been goaded by necessity to the points of composition, as the least of the evils. Gloomy adversity has been the melancholy genius of their inspiration. Goldsmith and Johnson are striking illustrations of this remark. Of the poets, alas, who are they, that are not? Nor is it confined to our own language. Boethius passed off in the van of that melancholy troop, who, from the shortness of their stay, come like shadows, so depart.”
The storm, indeed, may blow away twigs, but it deepens the roots of the oak and gives vigour and extent to its branches. The twigs would be worthless, did the storm leave them. The oak becomes invaluable, as it rises in strength and might, extending still wider shelter and shade, and affording more abundant means of support and defence. Few characters are so light, that adversity would blow them away. On the contrary, scarcely one can be found, that it might not establish. O, that some youth of the neighbourhood could once pass under its gale, that it might be seen, whether it would not brace them into vigour or Chill them into firmness; whether by bearing away the bushel of chaff