Sarah Josepha Hale


Woman's Empire defined.
The outward World, for rugged Toil designed,
Where Evil from true Good the crown hath riven,
Has been to Man's dominion ever given;
But Woman's empire, holier, more refined,
Moulds, moves and sways the fall'n but God-breathed mind,
Lifting the earth-crushed heart to hope and heaven:
As plants put forth to Summer's gentle wind,
And 'neath the sweet, soft light of starry even,
Those treasures which the tyrant Winter's sway
Could never wrest from Nature,-so the soul
Will Woman's sweet and gentle power obey-
Thus doth her summer smile its strength control;
Her love sow flowers along life's thorny way;
Her star-bright faith lead up toward heaven's goal.

The Daughter.
The iron cares that load and press men down
A father can, like school-boy tasks, lay by,
When gazing in his Daughter's loving eye,
Her soft arm like a spell around him thrown:
The passions that, like Upas' leaves, have grown
Most deadly in dark places, which defy
Earth, heaven and human will, even these were shown
All powerless to resist the pleading cry
Which pierced a savage but a father's ear,
And shook a soul where pity's pulse seemed dead;
When Pocahontas, heeding not the fear
That daunted boldest warriors, laid her head
Beside the doomed! Now with our country's fame,
Sweet forest* Daughter, we have blent thy name.

* See the splendid painting, "Baptism of Pocahontas," at the Capitol. [Hale's note.]

The Sister.
Wild as a cold, o'er prairies bounding free,
The wakened spirit of the Boy doth spring,
Spurning the rein authority would fling,
And striving with his peers for mastery;
But in the household gathering let him see
His Sister's winning smile, and it will bring
A change o'er all his nature; patiently,
As cagéd bird, that never used its wing,
He turns him to the tasks that she doth share-
His better feelings kindle by her side-
Visions of angel beauty fill the air,-
And she may summon such to be his guide:-
Our Saviour listened to a Sister's prayer,
When, "Lazarus, from the tomb come forth!" he cried.

The Wife.
The Daughter from her father's bosom goes-
The Sister drops her brother's clasping hand-
For God himself ordained a holier band
Than kindred blood on human minds bestows:
That stronger, deeper, dearer tie she knows,
The heart-wed Wife; as heaven by rainbow spanned,
Thus bright with hope life's path before her glows-
Proves it like mirage on the desert's sand?
Still in her soul the light divine remains-
And if her husband's strength be overborne
By sorrow, sickness, or the felon's chains,-
Such as by England's noblest son* were worn,-
Unheeding how her own poor heart is torn,
She, angel-like, his sinking soul sustains.

* Lord William Russell. [Hale's note.] Lord William Russell (1639-1683), imprisoned in the Tower of London and executed on charges of treason against King Charles II, was posthumously revered as a Protestant martyr. His wife, Lady Rachel Wriothesley Russell (1636-1723), aided in his defense in the courtroom and through letters, which were collected and published (1773, 1819, 1853).

The Mother.
Earth held no symbol, had no living sign
To image forth the Mother's deathless love;
And so the tender care the righteous prove
Beneath the ever-watching eye divine,
Was given a type to show how pure a shrine,
The Mother's heart, was hallowed from above;
And how her mortal hopes must intertwine
With hopes immortal,-and she may not move
From this high station which her Saviour sealed,
When in maternal arms he lay revealed.
Oh! wondrous power, how little understood,
Entrusted to the Mother's mind alone,
To fashion genius, form the soul for good,
Inspire a West,* or train a Washington!

* "My mother's kiss made me a painter," was the testimony of this great artist. [Hale's note.] Benjamin West (1738-1820), influential American painter of portraits and historical scenes.