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The Medical Condition of Mrs. J. R. Graves
Tennessee Baptist, July 1847
      The letter of Dr. Spencer, which follows, and introduces the Farewell of our dear sister Graves, was not intended for publication. It however explains the condition of things better than we could do it, and our brother will therefore pardon us for its insertion. We have seldom met with anything which has so deeply touched all the sensibilities of our heart. We cannot trust ourself to speak of it. - H[owell].

      DR. HOWELL: Dear Sir - The protracted and painful illness of Mrs. Graves has reduced her to a very low condition, and still it continues without much abatement. Since her reason has returned so that she can perceive and judge of the symptoms in her case, she has been of opinion that she should not recover, and certainly with such a train of symptoms as have been present, her friends could give her but little encouragement. When she came to the conclusion that she "should die and not live," though nursed in her native village, surrounded by her relatives and other friends, all anxious to alleviate her sufferings and do all in their power to restore her to health, her mind recurred with intense interest to her residence in your city, and she conceived an ardent desire again to address her friends of Nashville, and reassure them of the gratitude with which the numerous acts of kindness were received at their hands. Denied forever, as she supposed, the privilege of seeing them, and thus having an opportunity of thanking them in person, she, through her father, has forwarded to your office the following lines, with the request that Dr. Howell will have the goodness to give them an insertion in the "Baptist," if he should think them adapted to the end intended, and there is no feature pertaining to them forbidding their publication. Mrs. Graves' nervous system was too much prostrated to allow of her taxing her mental energies to compose an address to her friends in any form, and she had too recently recovered from a long season of delirium, she therefore dictated the sentiments contained in these lines to her elder and only, sister, who, at her request, versified her language, and returned its production to her as an offering of affection for a suffering, if not a dying sister.

      I will just add for myself: The complicated disease under which Mrs. Graves labors, and the severity of the symptoms attending it, are well calculated to fill the physician, as well as others, with the most serious apprehensions respecting its termination. These apprehensions I am forced to indulge in; still, as it is not reduced to a certainty that she cannot survive, the affection and the deep anxiety of the father prevent my giving her up in entire despair.

      Accept, dear sir, of my thanks for the kind manner in which you were pleased to regard my gentle and suffering daughter while she remained in your city and believe me, sir, when I say, that any individual in Nashville who bestowed upon that dear child a kindly look, or performed for her any other act of friendship, is richly entitled to a father's gratitude. I am yours, with the most profound respect,

     Mrs. Graves . . . dictated the sentiments contained in these lines to her elder and only, sister, who, at her request, versified her language . . . [At Kingsville, Ohio, her hometown].

Home! I am here at last - familiar walls
And objects meet my view; the speech that falls
Upon my ear, the eyes that fondly gaze
On me, are those of other, earlier days.

A summer robe is on the waving fields,
Fresh greenness on the trees, the bright air yields
Fall many a perfume from the flowers, that blush
At morn's uprise, and evening's stilly hush.

But that I may not breathe, nor see again
The rocky hill or cultivated plain.
For every breeze, a zephyr though it be
To others, bring disease and death to me.

The brave old forest trees, the woodland bowers,
'Neath which I've spent so many happy hours,
The garden walks so justly prized before,
I see them not though close beside my door.

They bring me many a blossomed spray, to tell
The fragrance of their cottage-yard; ah well!
Would I could pluck them too! that may not be,
There's but the couch of racking pain for me.

The darkened room, the nurse's stealthy tread.
The hand of love to soothe my aching head.
May mitigate disease, but never save
The loved and loving from the op'ning grave.

And we are here! parents and children too!
Thoughts of this meeting long have served to woo
Me back again to this cold clime, where I
Have come to visit ye, and then - to die.

The father's skill, the mother's ceaseless care,
Tireless affection, and the christian prayer.
Cannot avert the dreaded sacrifice,
When the Almighty wills it otherwise.

Sweet southern home! adopted land, to thee
My thoughts and wishes turn unceasingly,
Both in my day-dreams and night-visions too.
Sweet southern home, and southern friends, adieu!

How have ye cherished me, when far away
I mourned acquaintance of an earlier day;
How kind each heart, how ready every hand
To soothe the stranger in a distant land.

Husband! thou art away, and I must trust
To other hands to lay this crumbling dust
To rest. God knows I love thee, and my heart
Is with thee, dearest, wheresoe'er thou art.

Thou dost not know the weight of agony
Crushing my spirit when I think of thee -
How on my lip ceaselessly hangs thy name,
While sighs and tears exhaust this wasted frame.

Long have I hoped once more to fondly rest
This throbbing head upon thy faithful breast.
And pour my sorrows in thy listening ear,
While I could speak them, and thou too could'st hear.

I've lavished on thee all the trusting wealth
Of my young heart in sickness and in health;
Thou hast been all of earth, perchance of heaven -
Loving too much, O! may I be forgiven.

I've but one wish - a parting look - a word
My quivering heart, how all its depths are stirred!
God bless thee, keep thee, save thee, and
Unite us in a better, holier land!

My angel babes! your mother now will come
To join her loved ones in their happy home;
Ye went before, but I am following on.
Trying to say, my Maker's will be done!


[Tennessee Baptist, July 10, 1847. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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