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  --  OF THE COLORED RACE.   Table of Contents     APPENDIX.

Mossell, N.F.
The Work of Afro-American Women





You ask me these two questions, dear:
What is the purest gift
That erst survived the fall?
And how that I should choose to die,
If I must die at all?

I'll answer thee: I know no purer gift than Love;
No greater bliss than just to dwell
Close held in Love's own clasp;
And glancing oft into the lovelight of thine eye;
Thus drifting from this earthly shore
See thee only, until I reached that land
Where love is love forever more.


Let they life be precious unto thee, remembering this:
There is no joy that life doth hold for me,
But greater is that I may tell it thee;
No burden borne that bids me weep,
But would be greater far if thou didst lie
Quiet and still in thy last sleep.

I should be satisfied if I could lead thee to a stronger walk,
That thy work should lie in some channel deep and wide,
If heart and soul were attuned to some good purpose,
Though unto me through life, companionship
should be denied,
Yet thus knowing, I should be satisfied.


That love hath failed its task
That hath not moved to greater, purer deeds,
And I shall feel for evermore
That love hath failed to do all that I willed for thee,
Unless, it moves to purer, loftier heights,
To nobler aims, that life may truly be
God's greatest, noblest gift, a heritage to thee.


Until life's end thy love shall be
The dearest boon earth holds for me,
And when death comes and leads us hence,
Then love shall find its recompense.


Good night! Ah no, that cannot be
Good night that severs thee from me;
To dwell with thee in converse sweet,
And evermore thy presence greet,
Filling thy life with cheer and light,
Then each hour lost would bring good night.

To listen for thy footsteps' fall,
To answer when thy voice doth call,
To feel thy kisses warm and sweet,
Thy downward glance my lifted eye to greet,
To feel love's silence, and its might,
Then evermore't would be good night.

To dwell with thee shut in, and all the world shut out,
Close clasped in love's own clasp,
And thus to feel that I to thee belong
And thou to me;
That nevermore on earth shall parting come,
But only at the bidding of that Loving One,
With will, power and hope to show love's might,
Then, and not till then, can come good night.

To know thy every helpful thought,
To look upon the universe and think God's thoughts after
To see the mystic beauty of music, poetry and art,
To minister unto thy every want,
To fill thy life with all the joy that woman's love can
To shield thy life from evil, to bring thee good with love's
This daily life would surely bring to each
The best good night.


A cry,
A sigh,
A sunny day,
An hour of play,
A budding youth,
A time of truth,
An "All is well,"
A marriage bell,
A childish voice,
That birds rejoice,
A fleeting hour
Of transient power,
A wounded heart,
Death's poisoned dart,
A fleeting tear,
A pall, a bier,
And following this,
Oh! loss or gain ,
An afterlife of joy or pain.


How oft in the gathering twilight
I dream of the streets of gold,
Of my little angel children,
"My babes that never grow old."

I can see my tiny woman
With doll, and book held tight--
Keeping time with my every footstep,--
From early morn until night.

And then, a white-robed figure
Is kneeling at eventide,
And a voice lisps, "God bless papa,
And dear little brother beside.

I see my laughing treasure,
My darling baby boy,
With his little soft hands waving,
And his cheeks aglow with joy.

The clap, clap, clap, for papa to come,
To bring the baby a fife and drum,
Then each little pig that to market went,
And the one wee pig at home.

In the bureau drawer hid out of sight
Is the rattle, and cup, and ball;
The beautiful scrap-book laid away
With dresses, and shoes and all;

And then, as the tears begin to flow,
And grief to find a voice,
A soft cooing sound I hear at my side,
That bids me ever rejoice.

I clasp her quick in a loving embrace
My one lamb out of the fold,
Yet I ponder oft as I softly kiss,
Will baby ever grow old?

Then cometh this thought to ease the pain,
How God in his Book hath given,
"Suffer little children to come unto Me,
For of such is the kingdom of heaven."


There are nettles everywhere;
But smooth green grasses are more common still:
The blue of heaven is larger than the cloud.
--Mrs. Browning.

In the bright and pleasant spring-time
We laid a dear form to rest:
The silvered head and the face of care,
The hands close crossed on the breast.

We gave God thanks for the suffering done,
The peace, and the joy and bliss,
That life had been lived, its trial were o'er
The next world's rest for the toil of this.

Then with the coming of winter's chill blast,
Low down in its earthy bed
The child of our love we softly laid
In its place with the lowly dead.

Friends crowded around with their whispers of love,
But we thought of the vacant cot,
The sweet voice now for evermore stilled,
And with sorrow we mourned our lot.

Then, with the silent fall of the leaves,
The last bird left our nest,
Our arms were empty, the house was stilled,
For our boy had gone to his rest.

We tried to repeat all words of prayer,
All submissive and quiet thoughts;

We tried to say God doth give and doth take,
Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Earth's joys are many, its sorrows are few,
And when in our arms was laid
A new little lamb to be trained for his fold,
We said that our God was good.

With thankful hearts we took up once more
The warp and the woof of life,
And out from our mind, our heart and thought,
We thrust the struggle and strife.

And trusting God in His mercy still,
The Man of sorrow and acquaint with grief,
We say this life to an end must come,
Both its joys and sorrows be brief.


You say that your life is shadowed
With grief and sorrow and pain,
That you never can borrow a happy to-morrow
And the future holds little of gain.

That a woman's life is but folly
Scarce aught she may cheerfully do;
You think of your fate not with love but with hate,
And wish that your days may be few.

You long with a bitter longing
To enter the battle of life,
To strike some sure blow as onward you go
To soften its warfare and strife.

You hate to be idly waiting
As the years are drifting by,
A chance to be doing while duty pursuing
And the years so swiftly fly.

Nay, a woman's life is the noblest
That ever Old Time looked on,
Her lot both the rarest and fairest
That ever the sun shone on.

Both dearer and sweeter and fairer
Than any in all of this earth,
So full of its din of sorrow and sin
Scarce feel we its cheer or its mirth.

Think oft of the hearts you may gladden,
The tears you may soon chase away,
The many kind deeds that the wanderer needs
To keep him from going astray.

Think oft of the mite of the widow,
The cup of cold water given,
The love and faith mild of the little child
That gaineth a seat in heaven.

Have you thought of the sweet box of ointment
That Mary the Magdalene shed,
In its fragrance and beauty for love and not duty,
Then wiped with the hair of her head?

Have you thought of the smile and the hand-clasp
That met you some weary day,
That warmed you and fed you and hopefully led you
To a safe and surer way?

Dear friend, when you faith by the wayside
Oh think of these little things,
Then comfort the weary, the sad and the dreary
And time will pass swift on its wings.

Let hope comfort, encourage and cheer you
And help you to bravely say,
Not idly repining, but working and striving,
Not hiding my talent away.

Then think not your lot has been hampered
Or shadowed by grief or pain,
But up and adoing, still duty pursuing,
The crown you surely must gain.


"Words fitly spoken are like apples of gold in pictures of silver."
"A word is a picture of a thought."

Words--idle words --ye may not speak,
Without a care or thought;
For all that pass your lips each day
With good or ill are fraught.

The words of joy, and peace, and love,
You spoke at early morn,
Though time has passed and day is o'er,
Are on their mission borne.

The threat of pain, and fear, and hate,
You shouted in your wrath,
With all its deadly doing, still
Is lying in your path.

Nay, e'en the tiny waves of air
Your secret will not keep,
And all you speak when wide awake
Is whispered, though you sleep.

A word may be a curse, a stab,
And, when the sun is west,
Its onward course it still may run
And rankle in some breast.

But words, small words, and yet how great,
Scarce do we heed their power;
Yet they may fill the heart with joy,
And soften sorrow's hour.

True hearts, by words, are ofttimes knit;
Bound with a mystic tie,
Each golden link a word may loose;
Yea, cause true love itself to die.

Mother, friendship, home and love;
Only words, but Oh, how sweet!
How they cause the pulse to quicken,
Eye or ear, whene'er they greet.

"Peace on earth, good will to men,"
Are the words the angels spake,
And long ages echo them;
Still their tones glad music make.

Each day we live, each day we speak;
And ever an angel's pen
Doth write upon those pages fair
The words of sinful men.

But one small word, but it must be
A power for good or ill,
And when the speaker lithe cold
May work the Master's will.

Then learn their power and use them well,
That memory ne'er may bring
In time of mirth or lonely hour
A sad or bitter sting.

Let only words of truth and love
The golden silence break,
That God may read on record bright,
She spoke for "Jesus' sake."


At the laying of the corner-stone of Atlanta University in 1879 occurred the incident recorded in the following lines.

There was the human chattel
Its manhood taking;
There in each dark brain statue,
A soul was waking.
The man of many battles,
The tears his eyelids pressing,
Stretched over those dusky foreheads
His one-armed blessing.

And he said: "Who hears can never
Fear for nor doubt you;
What shall I tell the children
Up North about you?
Then ran round a whisper, a murmur,
Some answer devising;
And a little boy *

(*) R.R. Wright, the little hero of this poem, has now grown to manhood and occupies the responsible position of President of the Georgia State Industrial College for Colored Youth. stood up -- "Massa,
Tell 'em we're rising."

(†) Whittier.

Tell the North that we are rising;
Tell this truth throughout the land--
Tell the North that we are rising--
Rising at our God's command.

Could the bravest say it better?
Was the child a prophet sent?
From the mouths of babes and sucklings
Are the words of wisdom lent.

Tell the North that we are rising;
East and West the tidings go;
Tell this truth throughout the nation--
Tell it to both friend and foe.

Tell our true and tried friend Lincoln,
Tell our Grant and Summer true--
Tell them each that we are rising,
Knowing we have work to do.

See the child before us standing,
All his heart and life aglow,
Backward flit the years of sorrow;
Onward hopes, bright visions flow.

All his life has lost its shadow,
Filled is it with coming light;
Hope and Faith again triumphant
Make the present glad and bright.

Thus the keynote of our future
Touched he with his childish hand;
In his words the inspiration
Lingering yet throughout the land.

And the brave old poet Whittier
Treasured up his song in verse,
That the myriads yet to follow,
Might anon the tale rehearse.

Those who then wore childhood's garland
Now are true and stalwart men;
Those who bore war's dreadful burdens,
Friend and for have died since then.

But we still would send the message
To our friends where'er they roam,
We are rising, yea, have risen:
Future blessings yet will come.

Noble son of noble mother,
When our hearts would shrink and falter,
We yet treasure up your message,
Laying it on freedom's altar.

We with courage strive to conquer,
'Till as England's Hebrews stand
We are neither slaves nor tyrants,
But are freemen on free land.


By the swiftly flowing rivers,
In the fertile Southern land,
Gathered there from lane and highway,
Scores of men, an earnest band.

Not with brows of snowy whiteness,
Not with chiseled features rare;
Rather cheeks of sable darkness,
Yet was God's own image there.

Do they fear the chain of bondage?
Do they fear the lash or mart?
Slaves ignoble! do they tremble--
Sadly lack the freeman's heart?

See, one in their midst--a brother --
Reads of blood and deeds of pain--
Deeds of cruelty and outrage--
That with horror chill each vein.

He, with solemn tone and gesture,
Furrowed brow and wearied hand,
Reads this tale so weird and solemn,
To this earnest, thinking band.

In the silence of the midnight,
Decked in robes of dingy white,
On their foamed and maddened chargers,
And with features hid from sight,

Ride a band of fearless South'rons,
With a ruthless iron will;
Ride their foamed and maddened chargers,
Through the vale and o'er the hill.

And they give to none the quarter
Which the brave are wont to give;
Man nor woman, babe nor suckling,
Be they black, are 'lowed to live.

These now all were made to perish
By the flower of Southern life;
And the deed is yet commended
By both Southern maid and wife.

Long, too long, our race has suffered,
Both from church and school and state;
Trade and ballot long denied us,
Yet our friends still council, wait.

Must we then, give up the struggle
Must we sail for Afric's shore?
Must we leave this land we've toiled in
Must it swim again with gore?

Must we wait with greater patience?
Must we say, "Oh, Lord, forgive?
Must we love these worse than foemen,
Who forbid us die or live?

We must ponder Calvary's lesson;
View our martyred Saviour's fate;
Work and pray, with faith in heaven;
Right must conquer -- therefore wait.


We send you a greeting, our brothers,
Our brothers over the sea,
Who have sailed away to that sunny land,
Its light and blessing to be.

We have heard of your safe arrival,
Of the work you have chosen to do,
Of the little ones gathered together
To hear the truths old and yet new.

We ask for God's blessing upon you,
As we lift up our voices in prayer,
And by faith we know you receive it,
Though we worship not with you there.

The harvest is great, let reapers be many;
May ye sow and bountifully reap;
May your lives be long and useful,
And mourned your eternal sleep.


Child of the Southland
Baring thy bosom,
Feeling hate's poisoned dart,
Reeking with venom,
God looks upon you,
Seeth your sorrow;
Great the awakening,
Dawneth the morrow,
Lifteth the burden,
Greed placed upon you.
Mercy is watching
Justice but sleeping,
Angels above you,
Their vigils keeping;
Cometh the future,
With its hope laden,
Keepeth the promise,
Made us in Eden;
Ethiop stretcheth
Forward her hand,
Graspeth the staff of life,
Gaineth the promised land.


I told mamma I was tried of noise,
Tired of marbles, and tops and toys,
I had nobody to play with me.
So I didn't enjoy myself, you see.

I told her I guessed that I would pray
To dear old Chris that very day,
And tell him then, somehow or other,
I wanted him to send me a baby brother.

I knelt right down by my little chair,
As quick as I could, and said my prayer,
I went to bed right soon that night
And jumped up quick with the Christmas light.

In my little bare feet I softly crept
Down to the room where my ma slept,
And there, by the mantel, fast asleep
Down in a cradle wide and deep,
Lay a dear little baby brother,

He had a round face and a little red nose,
Ten little fingers, and ten little toes,
Two black eyes, and a dimpled chin,
That's where the angels had kissed him.

So we named him "Chris," only that,
And he grows so big, and rosy, and fat,
He rolls and tumbles about when we play,
But never gets hurt, for I always say
I'll be right good, so if Chris goes by,
He'll surely see that I always try
To 'preciate my Christmas present.


Only a baby, but strong and bright,
Making us happy from morn until night,
And knitting together with cords of love,
Those who were joined by the God above.

Only a boy, with his frolic and fun,
His marbles, and tops, and miniature gun,
But time rolls by, and leaves in his stead
The man, tender of heart, and wise of head.

Only a girl, with her dolls and play,
Her loving glance, and dainty way,--
But the summers have fled with a sweet surprise,
And a stately maiden gladdens our eyes.

The maiden, now, is the matron dear,
That with tender counsel doth little ones rear;
And we vow in our hearts, our lips shall ne'er curl
As we scornfully say, "Only a girl!"

Only a flower in a mossy bed;
By sun, and by rain, it was gently fed,
And now in the room of a suffering one,
Its mission fulfilled, its work is done.

Only a word, but it chanced to fall
On the ear of one forsaken of all,
And a heart, bowed down in its bitterness,
Arose once more its God to bless.

Only a song, a gladsome lay,
Sung cheerily on through a weary day;
'Twas a simple tune in a merry strain,
But it eased a heart of its burden of pain.

Only a thought, full of wondrous power,
Born in the need of a stricken hour,
Yet it grew and thrived, and taking root
In the hearts of many, it bore much fruit.

Only a prayer, from a heart, sad and lone,
It passed on its way to the Great White Throne;
'Twas spoken in faith, 'twas answered in love,
And a sinner turned to his God above.


Beautiful eyes are those that see
God's own children that should be;
Beautiful ears are those that hear
Their little footsteps lingering near.

Beautiful lips are those that press
Stained ones with fond caress;
Beautiful hands are those that grasp
The blind and erring with gentle clasp.

Beautiful feet are those that lead
Wandering ones the path to heed;
Beautiful hearts are those that beat
In sympathy warm at the mercy-seat.

Beautiful faces are those we see
And bless our God for memory;
Beautiful forms are those that move
Joyfully forward, on missions of love.

Beautiful homes are those that teach
Patient acts and kindly speech;
Beautiful lives are those that give
Others the strength and courage to live.

Beautiful words are those we speake,
Timid and tearful, "For Jesus' sake;"
Beautiful thoughts are those that fly
On wings of love to God on high.

Beautiful prayers are those we raise
For them that turn from wisdom's ways;
Beautiful songs are those we sing
When sinners own our Lord and King.

Beautiful wills on God's work bent,
Beautiful errands of good intent;

Beautiful heaven smiling above,
Beautiful truth that "God is love.

Beautiful promise in God's own Book--
Free to all who will only look;
Beautiful crown when cross we bear;
Beautiful ransomed ones, bright and fair.

Beautiful Saviour, the Crucified Lamb,
All wise, all loving, the Great I Am;
Beautiful Sabbath of perfect rest--
Beautiful day that God has blest.

Beautiful sleep, all joy and gain,
No grief or loss, neither sorrow or pain;
Beautiful rest with work well done;
Beautiful saints around God's throne.


Work while it is day; the night cometh when no man can work."
"Do noble things, not dream them all day long, and so make life,
death and that last forever one grand, sweet song."


A mother sat in the rosy dawn
Of a morning bright and fair,
Her arms are round her firstborn son,
Her breath is in his hair.

My little son to my God I will give
Ere yet his tongue can lisp;
And all the days my boy shall live
Shall be spent in His service rich.

But the years pass on and he grows apace,
His limbs are round and free,
His feet can tread the meadow path,
His eyes its wonders see.

But the mother is busied with household care,
And ever, like Martha of old,
Her heart is troubled with many things,
And the Saviour's love untold.

The little child is bountifully fed,
His form is daintily robed,
And mind and heart are stored with good,--
Only the soul is starved.


'Tis noon of day and noon of life,
And the infant is now a youth,
And the mother's heart to its depth is stirred,
As it feels the bitter truth.

That years have passed with their length of days,
And the babe no longer a child,
Though loved by all, by many praised,
Is not loving the Master's precepts mild.

So carefully striving day by day
Lost footsteps to retrace,
The mother's heart goes blindly on,
Prays for the seed a resting-place.

But the youth is filled with the hour's conceit;
The ground is stony and choked with weeds,
And seeds of evil already sown
Must be rooted out ere we sow good seeds.

And now again the household care
Is ruling heart and mind,
And neighbors oft her bounty share,
And love the eye doth blind.


And now again 'tis set of sun,
And close of life's fair day;
The youth has passed to manhood's hour,
But only lips can pray.

No longer may the mother voice,
In accents sweet and mild,
With holy words of Bible lore,
Still guide her little child.

In college walls by scoffers thronged,
No precious word made household truth,
Is brought to him, by memory fair,
To guide his erring youth.

His life no longer the mother may shape,
Forever lost is the precious hour;
Now only God can the wrong undo,
By the help of His mighty power.

O, mothers dear! throughout our land,
Its acres fair and wide!
With little ones your daily care,
Now walking by your side,

Keep ever this truth before you;
At morn, at night, always,
That to teach the love of the Saviour,
His precepts to obey,

With kindly lips and true,
Is a work that lies ever before you,
The best that you can do.

Let not the hours pass idly on,
'Till morn and noon and night have come,
And all your work lay idly by,
And remain perhaps forever undone.

But gird your heart up to the work;
Let every day some Bible truth
Be sown in the heart and mind of each child,
To guide him on in his tender youth.

And when the close of life shall come
And all your work shall cease,
The Soul to its Giver shall return
To a life of endless peace.



A precious gift our God has given
To bless declining years,
Anew we feel our sins forgiven,
And eyes o'erflow in grateful tears.

A little child with gentle ways,
The darling household pet,
Swiftly passing, peaceful days,
The jewel is ours yet.

The child has passed to bloom of youth
A maiden fair of face,
With heart of love and lips of truth,
Doth still our fireside grace.

The skilful hands and winsome ways
Win love without a thought;
And words of cheer and songs of praise
Are given, though all unsought.

A time of sadness follows now,
And then a Saviour's love;
A grateful band we humbly bow,
And thank our Friend above.

But grown to years of maidenhood
The heart is not our own;
Though home is dear and God is love,
The sweet content has flown.


A quiet room, an easy chair,
With firelight all aglow,
Two loving hearts beat happily--
Ah, quickly time doth flow.

A breathless parting for a year,
A tear from sweet, dark eye,
A joyful meeting at its close
Ah, quickly time doth fly.

A fancied bond of friendship,
A whispered confidence,
A wicked heart to prompt deceit,
And happiness flies hence.

A stolen page, a recreant love,
Ah, what is left to tell!
A broken heart, a weeping throng,
And then -- a funeral knell.

A wounded heart, a home bereft,
No daughter grace now lends,
Long, weary years of loneliness,
And thus the story ends.


But to our hearts with healing balm
This thought brings memory fair,
The weary couch had long become
"A Christ-held hammock of prayer,"

Which faithful friends, a loving band,
Had twisted with promises bright,
And angels fair with loving hands
Had gathered and fastened tight.

Her words of love are with us still:
"So quiet I lie 'neath the eternal sky,
"Biding the time when God, in His will,
"Shall take me to dwell with Him on high."

Though the beautiful form is laid away
And our home is no more blest,
Though joy had its hour and sorrow its day,
We know that with Jesus is rest.

Princeton, N.J.


  --  OF THE COLORED RACE.   Table of Contents     APPENDIX.