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Emily C. Judson, 1817-1854

by Henry S. Burrage

Emily JudsonIn Dyer's "Psalmist" there is a hymn by Emily E. Chubbuck, commencing

Mother, has the dove that nestled.

Miss Chubbuck, also known by her nom de plume "Fanny Forester," was born in Eaton, a small town in Central New York, August 22, 1817. Her parents were poor, and at an early age she assisted in supporting the family by her work in a woolen factory. Afterward she taught in the village school, and when she was twenty years of age she was a welcome contributor to the poetical column of the village newspaper. Having attracted the attention of the Misses Sheldon, who kept a well known young ladies' school in Utica, she was made welcome to advantages of which she gladly availed herself. In the hope of continuing the assistance she had rendered her parents, she commenced to write the stories for children which, later, were published under the title of "Alderbrook."

Then N. P. Willis made her welcome to the columns of the Evening Mirror, and so, after a long struggle with poverty and other adverse circumstances, she had made her way to a position of honor and influence in the literary world.

Converted when eight years of age, she early had a conviction that at some time she would be a missionary. In January, 1846, she met Dr. Adoniram Judson at the home of Rev. A. D. Gillette, D.D., in Philadelphia, and they were married June 2, of that year. In a few weeks they embarked for Burma. Off St. Helena, Mrs. Judson wrote the following beautiful tribute to the memory of Sarah Boardman Judson:

Blow softly, gales! a tender sigh
  Is flung upon your wing;
Lose not the treasure, as ye fly,
Bear it where love and beauty lie,
  Silent and withering.

Flow gently, waves! a tear is laid
  Upon your heaving breast;
Leave it within yon dark rock's shade,
Or weave it in an iris braid,
  To crown the Christian's rest.

Bloom, ocean isle! lone ocean isle!
  Then keep'st a jewel rare;
Let rugged rock and dark defile
Above, the slumbering stranger smile,
  And deck her couch with care.

Weep, ye bereaved! a dearer head
  Ne'er left the pillowing breast;
The good, the pure, the lovely fled
When, mingling with the shadowy dead,
  She meekly went to rest.

Mourn, Burma, mourn! a bow, which spanned
  Thy cloud, has passed away;
A flower has withered on thy sand,
A pitying spirit left thy strand,
  A saint has ceased to pray.

Angels, rejoice! another string
  Has caught the strains above;
Rejoice, rejoice! a new-fledged wing
Around the throne is hovering,
  In sweet, glad, wondering love.

Blow, blow, ye gales! wild billows roll!
  Unfurl the canvas wide!
On! where she labored lies our goal;
Weak, timid, frail, yet would my soul
  Fain be to hers allied.

Dr. and Mrs. Judson arrived at Maulmain, November 30, 1846, and Dr. Judson re-entered upon his missionary labors. He found in Mrs. Judson an efficient helper. She devoted herself at first to the work of learning the language, and of preparing a biography of Sarah Boardman Judson.

The following are the first lines of a poem which was addressed by Mrs. Judson to a missionary friend in Burma, on the death of an infant:

A mound is in the graveyard,
  A short and narrow bed,
No grass is growing on it,
  And no marble at its head;
Ye may go and weep beside it,
  Ye may kneel and kiss the sod,
But ye'll find no balm for sorrow,
  In the cold and silent clod.

December 24, 1847, a daughter, Emily Frances, was born at Maulmain. It was to this daughter that Mrs. Judson addressed the beautiful lines entitled "My Bird," commencing

Ere last year's moon had left the sky,
  A birdling sought my Indian nest,
And folded, O, so lovingly,
  Her tiny wings upon my breast.

Mrs. Judson's health began to decline soon after, and in November, 1849, Dr. Judson was attacked by the disease which in a few months resulted in his death.

It was after Dr. Judson left Maulmain to embark on the voyage from which he never returned, that Mrs. Judson wrote the tender lines to her mother, commencing

The wild southwest monsoon has risen,
On broad gray wings of gloom,
While here from out my dreary prison
I look as from a tomb—alas!
My heart another tomb.

Dr. Judson sailed from Maulmain, April 3, and died at sea, April 12. Ten days later, and before the sad tidings had reached Maulmain, Mrs. Judson gave birth to a second child, Charles, who died the same day on which he was born. It was this sorrow that occasioned the lines on " Angel Charlie," commencing

He came—a beauteous vision—
  Then vanished from my sight,
His wing one moment cleaving
  The blackness of my night;
My glad ear caught its rustle,
  Then, sweeping by, he stole
The dewdrop that his coming
  Had cherished in my soul.

Mrs. Judson, who subsequently returned, with her daughter, to this country, died at Hamilton, N.Y., June 1, 1854.

From Baptist Hymn Writers and Their Hymns by Henry S. Burrage. Portland, Maine: Brown Thurston & Co., ©1888.

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