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in a few months. Of temporal property, she possessed very little she was at a distance from her father's house: the widow and the fatherless were in a foreign land. The change in her circumstances was as sudden as it was great.
She had no sympathizing heart, to receive and return the confidence of unbounded friendship; and thus, by reciprocal communion, to alleviate the trials and enrich the enjoyments of life. All the pleasing plans, all the cherished prospects, of future settlement in life, were cut off in a moment. Whilst sinking into a softened indifference to the world, in the contemplation of her severe loss, she was, on the other hand, roused into exertion for the sustenance and support of her young family, whose earthly dependence was now necessarily upon her.
Not satisfied with the custom of the island, in burying so soon after life is extinct, her uneasiness became so great, that her friends judged it prudent to have her husband's grave opened, to convince her that no symptoms of returning life had been exhibited there. The fidelity of her heart was now as strongly marked as her tenderness. She dressed herself in the habiliments of a widow, and surveying herself in a mirror, determined never to lay them aside. This she strictly adhered to, and rejected every overture, afterwards made to her, of again entering into the married state. She breathed the feelings of her heart in a little poem, in which she dedicated herself to her God as a widow indeed.
On examining into the state of her husband's affairs, she discovered that there remained not quite two hundred pounds sterling in his agent's hands.
These circumstances afforded an opportunity for the display of the purity of Mrs. Graham's principles, and her rigid adherence to the commandments of her God in every situation.
It was proposed to her, and urged with much argument, to sell the two Indian girls, her late husband's property.
No considerations of interest, nor necessity, could prevail upon her to make merchandise of her fellow creatures, the works of her heavenly Father's hand, immor
tal beings. One of these girls accompanied her to Scotland, where she was married; and the other died in Antigua, leaving an affectionate testimony to the kindness of her dear master and mistress.
The surgeon's mate of the regiment was a young man whom Dr. Graham had early taken under his patronage. The kindness of his patron had so far favoured him with a medical education, that he was enabled to succeed him as surgeon to the regiment.
Notwithstanding the slender finances of Mrs. Graham, feeling for the situation of Dr. H-, she presented to him her husband's medical library, and his sword: a rare instance of disinterested regard for the welfare of another.
This was an effort towards observing the second table of the law, in doing which she was actuated likewise by that principle which flows from keeping the first table also. Nor was the friendship of Dr. and Mrs. Graham misplaced. The seeds of gratitude were sown in an upright heart. Dr. H, from year to year, manifested his sense of obligation, by remitting to the widow such sums of money as he could afford, This was a reciprocity of kind offices, equally honourable to the benefac. tors, and to him who received the benefit: an instance, alas! too rarely met with in a selfish world.
It may here be remarked, in order to show how much temporal supplies are under the direction of a special providence, that Dr. H-'s remittances and friendly letters were occasionally received by Mrs. Graham, until the year 1795; after this period her circumstances were so favourably altered, as to render such aid unnecessary; and from that time, she heard no more from Dr. H—, neither could she hear what became of him, notwith standing her frequent inquiries.
It may be profitable here, to look at Mrs. Graham, contrasted with the society in temporal prosperity around her. Many persons, then in Antigua, were busy and successful in the accumulation of wealth, to the exclusion of every thought, tending to holiness, to God, and to heaven. The portion which they desired, they possessed. What then? They are since gone to another world.
The magic of the words, "My property," "an independent fortune," has been dispelled; and that for which they toiled, and in which they gloried, has since passed into a hundred hands; the illusion is vanished, and unless they made their peace with God through the blood of the cross, they left this world, and alas! found no heaven before them. But amidst apparent affliction and outward distress, God was preparing the heart of this widow, by the discipline of his covenant, for future usefulness; to be a blessing, probably, to thousands of her race, and to enter, finally, on that rest which remaineth for the people of God."
Her temporal support was not, in her esteem, "an independent fortune," but a life of dependence on the care of her heavenly Father: she had more delight in suffering and doing his will, than in all riches. The secret of the Lord is with those who fear him, and he will show them his covenant.' To those who walk with God, he will show the way in which they should go, and their experience will assure them that he directs their paths. 'Bread shall be given them, and their water shall be sure.' She passed through many trials of a temporal nature, but she was comforted of her God. through them all; and at last was put in possession of an eternal treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal.' May this contrast be solemnly examined, and the example of this child of God made a blessing to many!
Previously to her confinement, and the birth of her son, Mrs. Graham set her house in order, in the probable expectation of her decease. She wrote a letter to her father in Scotland, commending her young family to his protection; also a letter to her friend Mrs. G-, giving the charge of her affairs, and of her family, to her and her husband Captain G-, during their stay in Antigua.
In this letter she expressed her full confidence in the friendship of Mrs. G, but at the same time declared her solicitude about her indifference to spiritual concerns; and dealt very faithfully with her conscience, as to the propriety and necessity of her being more engaged to seek the favour of God, through the mediation and atonement of the blessed Redeemer.
It pleased God, however, to preserve her life at this time; and she soon after dedicated her infant son to her God in baptism: giving him the name of his father, John.
Having now no object to induce her to stay longer at Antigua, she disposed of her slender property, and placing her money in the hands of Major Brown, requested him to take a passage for herself and family, and to lay in their sea-stores.
Mrs. Graham, after seeing a railing placed around the grave of her beloved husband, that his remains might not be disturbed until mingled with their kindred dust, bade adieu to her kind friends, and with a sorrowful heart, turned her face towards her native land. No ship offering for Scotland at this time, she embarked with her family in one bound to Belfast in Ireland. Major Brown and his brother officers saw her safely out to sea; and he gave her a letter to a gentleman in Belfast, containing, as he said, a bill for the balance of the money she had deposited with him. After a stormy and trying voyage, she arrived in safety at her destined port. The correspondent in Ireland of Major Brown, delivered her a letter from that officer, expressive of esteem and af fection; and stating, that as a proof of respect for the memory of their deceased friend, he and his brother officers had taken the liberty of defraying the expenses of her voyage.
Consequently, the bill he had given was for the full amount of her original deposit; and thus, like the brethren of Joseph, she found all her money in the sack's mouth. Being a stranger in Ireland, without a friend to look out for a proper vessel in which to embark for Scotland, she and her children went passengers in a packet; on board of which, as she afterwards learned, there was not even a compass. A great storm arose, and they were tossed to and fro for nine hours in imminent danger. The rudder and the mast were carried away; every thing on deck thrown overboard; and at length the vessel struck in the night upon a rock, on the coast of Ayr, in Scotland. The greatest confusion pervaded the passengers and crew. Amongst a number of young students, going to the University at Edinburgh,
some were swearing, some praying, and all were in despair. The widow only remained composed. With her babe in her arms, she hushed her weeping family, and told them, that in a few minutes they should all go to join their father in a better world. The passengers wrote their names in their pocket-books, that their bodies might be recognised, and reported for the information of their friends. One young man came into the cabin, asking, "is there any peace here?" He was sur prised to find a female so tranquil; a short conversation soon evinced that religion was the source of comfort and hope to them both in this perilous hour. He engaged in prayer, and then read the 107th Psalm. Whilst repeating these words,' he maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still,' the vessel swung off the rock, by the rising of the tide. She had been dashing against it for an hour and a half, the sea making a breach over her, so that the hold was now nearly filled with water. Towards morning the storm subsided, and the vessel floated until she rested on a sand-bank. Assistance was afforded from the shore, and the shipwrecked company took shelter in a small inn, where the men seemed a ious to drown the remembrance of danger in a bowl of punch. How faithful a monitor is conscience! this voice is listened to in extreme peril; but, oh, infatuated man! how anxious art thou to stifle the warnings of wisdom in the hour of prosperity! Thousands of our race, no doubt, delay their preparation for eternity, until, by sudden death, scarce a moment of time is left to perform this solemn work.
Mrs. Graham retired to a private room, to offer up thanksgiving to God for his goodness, and to commend herself, and her orphans, to his future care.
A gentleman from Ayr, hearing of the shipwreck, came down to offer assistance; and in him Mrs. Graham was happy enough to recognise an old friend. This gentleman paid her and her family much attention, carrying them to his own house, and treating them with kindness and hospitality.
In a day or two after this, she reached Cartside, and entered her father's dwelling; not the large ancient