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excursion. The men employed to help in haying, the season Arthur and Richard carried on the farm, made a great point of this day of sport; and the boys accompanied them on the occasion. They procured some spirituous liquors; and, after themselves imbibing, strove hard, by ridicule and persuasion, to induce the boys to partake. Arthur was firm in his resistance, but Richard was prevailed upon, in spite of Arthur's entreaty, and warning that he should let his mother know of the affair. On retiring that night, the mother visited Richard's bedside, and administered to him a solemn reproof, which he never forgot. This was Arthur's first step in the temperance cause, in which he afterwards faithfully labored.
In the Groton experience, Arthur's education was by no means neglected. The mother and sister regarded the grand purpose of preparing him for the arena of life as far transcending the convenience and expediency of the hour; and nothing would have tempted them to sacrifice his welfare to the family needs. It was very justly believed, conformably to the father's views and plans, that the hardships of farm labor might form a very valuable part of educational training ; while the complemental part of mental discipline Margaret heroically assumed. Her rule was to study, in the summer, the out-door literature, traced in the expressive characters of nature, with its “ books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything”: while in the winter she applied herself to human lore. This was her régime, also, with the boys. As soon as the farm harvests were garnered, the seed-time of in-door teaching com
menced; and for several hours a day she presided over the family school. This was a very great sacrifice to her. Her own mind was amply stored, and she longed now to create, in emulation of those masters who had won the laurels of literature. To teach children, scarcely in their teens, was as much below her bent as for Apollo to tend the flocks of Admetus. Nor could she, like him, beguile the occupation with the lyre. Her father's death, the abandonment of her plan of European travel, and the new weight of uncongenial family cares had depressed her, and her harp hung for a time tuneless upon the willows.
As a teacher few have excelled her. Not merely did she faithfully train to good habits of mental application; not merely did she store the mind with the treasures of learning ; but she constantly sought to kindle and stimulate noble aspiration. When in their studies they came upon the feats of Roman, Greek, or modern patriotic devotion, she would expatiate upon them with glowing eloquence. Little did they expect, when they thus learned and admired the devotion of Curtius or Scævola, or the modern Swiss who broke the assailing phalanx by gathering with the embrace of his extended arms a sheaf of pointed spears into his own bosom, that their own times would add new narratives to the legends of glory; that the Italian War and the American Rebellion would furnish many instances of devoted heroism, unsurpassed by the bright pages of history; and that in these scenes the aspiring teacher, Margaret, and the ardent pupil, Arthur, would participate.
No doubt her personal influence on Arthur was more important than what she could impart to him in those early years. A noble spirit is catching; and Arthur was quite capable of being lighted with her enthusiasm. She herself remarked this, expressing the opinion that in his mind he resembled her more than the other children. The formative influence she hoped to have on the boys and upon her sister Ellen, who composed the trio of her family school, she regarded as much more important than the rudiments of learning, which she would have willingly committed to another teacher, and which it much tasked her patience to communicate. Her own great quickness and astonishing rapidity in the acquisition of knowledge led her to expect the same in her pupils; and tardiness on their part was very trying to her. The little awkward ways which sometimes fasten on children annoyed her inexpressibly. Among these may be mentioned a habit the boys fell into of incessant movement of the hands, as if catching at succor in the recitations, when they were drowning in the deep places of Virgil. It seemed absolutely impossible for them to think of the hand and keep it still, while agonized with classic difficulties and trembling in dread of the doom of a bad recitation. Sometimes their bright answers in geography or history made her laugh outright. She preferred to laugh rather than weep, which was her only alternative. Some of these bright responses
she recorded at the end of the geography in perpetuam memoriam. We have in mind a passage, which may still be seen by any one who can obtain access to that
text-book, — "Richard, being asked where Turkey in Asia was, replied that it was in Europe !”
In a subsequent letter to Arthur, while he was absent, completing his college preparation, Margaret thus refers to her family school :
“ You express gratitude for what I have taught you. It is in your power to repay me a hundredfold by making every exertion now to improve. I did not teach you as I would ; yet I think the confinement, and the care I then took of you children, at a time when my mind was so excited by many painful feelings, have had a very bad effect upon my health. I do not say this to pain you, or to make you more grateful to me; for, had I been aware at the time what I was doing, I might not have sacrificed myself so; but I say it, that you may feel it your duty to fill my place, and do what I may never be permitted to do. Three precious years at the best period of my life I gave all my best hours to you children ; let me not, then, see you idle away time, which I have always valued so much ; let me not find you unworthy of the love I felt for you. Those three years would have enabled me to make great attainments, which now I never may.
Do you make them in my stead, that I may not remember that time with sadness. I hope you are fully aware of the great importance of your time this year. Your conduct now will decide your fate. You are now fifteen; and if, at the end of the year, we have not reason to be satifised that you have a decided taste for study, and ambition to make a figure in one of the professions, you will be consigned to some other walk in life.
For you are
aware that there is no money to be wasted on any of us; though if I live and thrive, and you deserve my sympathy, you shall not want means and teaching to follow out any honorable path. With your sister Ellen's improvement and desire to do right, and perseverance in overcoming obstacles, I am well satisfied.
May God bless you, and make this coming year a prelude to many honorable
“ Next time I write, I will not fill my whole sheet with advice. Advice too often does little good ; but I will not believe I shall speak in vain to my dear Arthur.”
Early in the year 1839 a purchaser was obtained for the Groton place; and the family willingly bade adieu to the scene of their first great calamity, and many consequent hardships and trials. The step was the more advisable, because Arthur and Richard had arrived at years which called for a more exclusive application to study than the cares of the farm admitted of.
Margaret, in a letter to her brother, thus dwells upon
the Groton trials : “ You were too young to feel how trying are the disorders of a house which has lost its head; the miserable perplexities of our affairs; and what your mother suffered from her loneliness and sense of unfitness for her new and heavy burden of care. It will be many years yet before you can appreciate the conflicts of my mind, as I doubted whether to give up all which my heart desired, to enter a path for which I had no skill and no call, except that some one must