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plexity. Sure I am, I do not mean to add affliction to the afflicted; but, rather have been impelled, from a regard to truth, to write my real sentiments, as you desired. Your friend and humble servant,
To the Society for the relief of poor widows with small
children, in April, 1800. LADIES,
It is with pleasure.we, your board, again meet this benevolent society. With pleasure we announce the success of the Institution-its funds, its usefulness, and its respectability increase. We have on the books two hundred and seventy-four annual subscribers, thirty-nine more than at last meeting.
The Treasurer has received three hundred and thirty dollars from ladies, in donations; and from gentlemen, six hundred and seventeen dollars, nearly double what they gave us last year. Your managers have expended eight hundred and twenty dollars since last meeting, not quite five months. Perhaps this may surprise you, but there was no avoiding it. Though the winter has been mild, and the price of wood moderate, the wants of the poor have been more pressing than in former years.
We have on our books one hundred and forty-two widows, with four hundred and six children below twelve years of age, by far the greater part below six; besides many boys bound apprentices, for whom their mothers must wash, mend, and provide part clothing. Though the sum expended appears great, you will find, on calculation, that it is not quite six dollarg to each family. Yet, by prudent management, giving it to them by little and little, and in necessaries, nourishing, yet cheap, it went further than twice the sum given in money, and at once. Besides, in cordials for the sick, and exigencies of different kinds, your managers have begged, and taken from their own pock. ets and pantries, (I speak within bounds when I say) to
the amount of two hundred dollars more. Most of our widows have to learn economy from necessity : in the days of their husbands they lived not only plentifully, but luxuriously. Every class of mechanics in NewYork could live well and lay up for their families, were they frugal; but the reverse of this is the case—the evil is general, and, I fear, not to be cured. The change to their widows greatly aggravates their misery--well may they read their sin in their punishment, when meagre want overtakes them. But God forgives, and so ought we: We, who have so much to be forgiven, yet have our necessaries, our comforts, and even our luxuries spared. To us, our comfortable dwellings, cheerful fires, and convivial parties, give to winter its charms. Alas, for her! the new-made widow ! to whom all these are lost for ever-to her, the approach of winter is as the approach of death. Accustomed to spread the board by a cheerful fire-side, to welcome the companion of her heart from the labours' of the day; to bless and share the social meal, provided by his industry, drest with neatness and ingenuity, rendered savoury by health and appetite, and heightened in its relish by mutual love! The witty sayings of the prattlers are repeated, and the news of the household exchanged for the news of the city. The little ones too have their share ; they tell the father the exploits of the day, who forgets his fatigue, and dandles them by turns on his knee, while the mother's moistened eyes glisten with pleasure. Alas ! the change !--Husband, father, support, provider, gone for ever! The setting sun, the succeeding twilight, the rattling cars, the train of labourers, announce the approach of evening, when many boards are spread, many husbands return to bless their families; scarce can she believe that he is not in the crowd-fain would she persuade herself that she has been in a dream--fain would she fancy that yonder is he. Darkness pervades the earth ; the neighbouring doors shut in the happy families ; the beaming fires illumine the windows.' Back she staggers to her dreary dwelling, and wakes to all the realities of her widowed state. The once cheerful chimney scarcely emits a taper blaze. Her children cry for
bread, but her empty pantry affords it not. Tired nature soon brings them relief-they sleep-they forget. Not so the widowed heart; busy, cruel memory calls back and doubles her departed joys; comparison doubles also her present misery-every avenue to hope is shut. Her big swollen heart would burst its narrow bounds, but for a gush of tears, in mercy sent to give it vent. The deep-fetched-sobs wring out the big round drops in blest profusion, (who can say the luxury,) till glutted with grief, she sinks among her babes. Time, that sorrow-healing balm, softens at length the pungen cy of wo. The sympathizing neighbours, the unrestrained complaint and tears, render her situation familiar ; the wants of her children urge her to exertion for their support. Some sister-widow, pensioner on your bounty, consoles her with the news, that many benevolent hearts have united their efforts to relieve wants like hers. Hope steals in-she listens-is comforted, plans schemes of industry, and exerts herself to become father and mother to her orphans.
Many such, dear Ladies, have eaten of your bread, been warmed from your wood-yard, clothed from your web-in sickness revived by your cordials, consoled and soothed by your Managers. Blessed office !--they are your agents, Ladies : they are also the agents of
your God, by whose ministration he is the Father of the fatherless, the Husband of the widow, the stranger's shield and orphan's stay.
Blessed indeed is he who considera eth the poor-the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble--the Lord will preserve and keep him alive; he shall be blessed upon the earth; the Lord will strengthen him in the bed of languishing, and make all his bed in sickness. Yes, blessed they who consider the poor, who devise liber al things ! But more blessed still, ye, who, like the good Samaritan, bind up their wounds, pour the oil and wine of consolation into their bursting hearts, bring them to your homes, and share their griefs with them who are eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and make the widow's heart to sing for joy! May the blessing of them who are ready to perish come upon you-may your persons be accepted in Christ ; then shall a reward of grace accompany, and follow your labours of love. May you be blessed in your basket, and blessed in your store-blessed in your going out and blessed in your coming in-blessed in life-blessed in death ; and, through Christ the purchaser, blessed with the inheritance of his Saints, through eternity.
TO THE SAME.
April, 1806. It is with increasing pleasure, ladies, that we come forward,' year after year, and report that the Society prospers. In funds, in respectability, and most of all, in usefulness, it continues to advance, spreading wider and wider its salutary influence. Could we only repeat this year, as formerly, that the hungry are fed, the naked clothed, the sick nursed, provided with medicine and cordials, it were great, considering that the late epidemic has nearly doubled the objects of the Society's bounty ; greatly embarrassed their circumstances, and left many of them in a debilitated state, little able for labour. There are now on the Society's books two hundred and one widows, with numerous families.
The managers have expended in meal, wood, flannel, shoes, &c. giving nothing to the well, but necessaries ; for the sick and sickly, meat, fuel, tea, sugar, chocolate, &c. ; wine and porter by order of the attending physician, two thousand four hundred and fifty-eight dollars thirty cents ; besides very much for the sick from their own pantries, having it cooked in their own kitchens, and in many instances, giving daily personal attendance
In the months of January and February, employment entirely failed them ; many came forward at that time, who had not asked that in charity, which labour could procure.
The Secretary has informed you what was then done for their relief. Quantities of flax were given out at the same time that the ladies exerted themselves to procure work; yet, in little more than a month, all was cut and made up: the committee was obliged to extend the sum considerably.
The winter is now past; their humble dwellings, though long threatened, are not dismantled ; their few necessaries, and some remnants of happier days, bright and clean, are still in their possession; cheerful spring opens upon them; trade begins to stir; and a gleam of hope breaks through the gloom, that they and their infants may yet eat their morsel at their own fire-sides. HOME !-who can tell the full import of that word, home? will not the recollection, that you have been instrumental in preserving a home to these, sweeten your every comfort, and sooth your heavy hours ?
Besides the general and particular good, done in the dispensation of the Society's bounty, much misery has been meliorated through the medium of its members, where, by its constitution, there could be no claim on its funds :
: a few facts will prove my assertion. An unfortunate French lady, who, with one infant, had escaped the last massacre at St. Domingo, was brought to New-York, and placed, by the captain of the vessel, in a low boarding house. She had been nine weeks in this city, unknown and unknowing; had sold some valuable trinkets, and pawned her watch to pay her board; when she was found by one of the managers of this Society. Mrs. Hoffman visited her, and by means of her numerous acquaintance, sought out her countrymen, got her history, character and circumstances ascertained, and raised by subscription two hundred dollars ; furnished her with decent clothing suitable to the climate, and she is now in a comfortable situation.
On every hand, and all around, groans human misery, and Hope, the last to desert the wretched, points from every quarter her votaries to this Society.
Mrs. C-, a most interesting character, and of supe. rior mind, not only an unfortunate, but an injured, person, without hope of redress, broken in spirits, and broken in health- -was reduced, with her only child, to seek an asylum in the Alms-House ; her story was related in the board of this Society. Mrs. Hammond, one of the managers, took her into her own family, and nursed her with the greatest tenderness for many weeks ; but health did not return. Her only chance for life, was her native air, (Ireland,) and she had there relations capable of supporting her. Mrs. R-, another of the Society's managers, set her face to the arduous task of raising a subscription to defray her expenses home. She suc