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Poems: With a Sketch of the Life and Experience of Annie R. Smith

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    A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE LIFE, LAST SICKNESS AND DEATH OF ANNIE R. SMITH

    Annie Rebekah Smith, only daughter of Samuel and Rebekah Smith, was born in West Wilton, N. H., March 16, 1828. When ten years of age, she was converted and joined the Baptist church, in which connection she remained till 1844, when she embraced the doctrine of the soon coming of God, and withdrew from the church that she might more freely engage in the work of preparation for that event. After the passing of the time in 1844, being thrown with others into doubt respecting our position in the prophetic calendar, she pursued her favorite occupations of studying and teaching. Commencing in 1844, as assistant in a select school kept by Miss Sarah Livermore, in Wilton, between that time and 1850 she taught, in different places, seven district schools, attending, meanwhile, a term each in Milford, Hancock and New Ipswich, N. H., and six terms at the Ladies’ Female Seminary in Charlestown, Mass. At the latter place she fitted herself for a teacher in Oil Painting and French.PSAS 97.1

    In 1850 she took a sketch of Boston and Charlestown from Prospect Hill, Somerville, three miles distant. The effort was too much for her eyes, and, for about eight months she almost entirely lost the use of them. On account of this difficulty, she was obliged to decline a proposition to teach in the Seminary at Hancock, which made her misfortune seem almost intolerable, so great was her disappointment. The only alleviation which she found for her affliction in this time, was in becoming an agent for, and contributor to, “The Ladies’ Wreath,” a monthly magazine published in New York. Her contributions to this periodical, with the exception of a few pieces published in the “Odd Fellow,” and some other papers, were her first efforts at public writing.PSAS 98.1

    Her friends in Charlestown, thinking the salt water would prove a benefit to her eyes, invited her to spend a season with them. She went in 1851, not expecting to be gone many weeks, but did not return till November, 1852, when she was called home by the sickness and death of her father. During her stay in Boston and vicinity she went to Portland and Nova Scotia. I requested her to go once, to please me, to sister Temple’s, in Boston, to a Seventh-day Adventist meeting. Some remarkable incidents in connection with her attendance at this meeting, together with the faithful efforts of the friends of the truth, arrested her attention; and in about three weeks she committed herself upon the Sabbath and its attendant truths. The next week she sent to the “Advent Review” the piece of poetry entitled “Fear not, Little Flock,” which was her first contribution to that paper. The “Review” was then published in Saratoga, N. Y., and she was immediately requested to take a position in that office. She replied that she could not, on account of the trouble with her eyes, but was told to come as she was, or to that effect. Arriving there, the directions in James 5:14, 15, were followed, and her eyes were so far strengthened in answer to prayer, that she was soon enabled to engage without restrain in the work of the office.PSAS 98.2

    With strong faith and fervent zeal, she entered heartily into the work. She rejoiced in the newfound truth. The whole current of her mind was changed, and nobler aspirations took possession of her heart. From a position of exaltation and honor among men, she had now turned her eyes to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, reserved in Heaven for the followers of Christ, and to a place at last with the redeemed before the throne. Her contributions to the “Review” while it was published in Saratoga and Rochester, N. Y., afterwards published in her volume of poems, entitled, “Home here, and Home in Heaven,” show the themes upon which her mind delighted to dwell.PSAS 99.1

    In November, 1852, as already stated, she was called home by the sickness of her father, who died the first of December following. In January, 1853, before returning to N. Y., she was solicited, in connection with her brother Uriah, to take charge of the Academy in Mount Vernon, N. H., with a salary for the first year, of one thousand dollars, and a prospect of increase as they should bring the school up to a greater degree of prosperity. But she preferred to labor in some capacity where her efforts would tend more directly to spread a knowledge of the truth among the people, and lead them to seek salvation through Christ the Saviour of men. She therefore declined the offer, preferring, without any pecuniary consideration, to again connect herself with the office.PSAS 99.2

    Two years later, in November, 1854, she came home to West Wilton, suffering under the first stages of that disease which shortly brought her to the grave. The following from a letter to a friend, written soon after her death, sets forth the occasion of her last sickness, and the circumstances attending the closing hours of her life:PSAS 100.1

    On account of sickness in the family where she boarded, she assisted in the kitchen awhile, where was a warm stove, and in consequence of a letter being left, she hastened with it to the office unprepared for a cold, wet morning. Had she returned immediately, as she should have done, all might have been well. But she stayed through the day, as her work was there, and became very cold and chilly. That cold undoubtedly seated itself immediately upon her lungs, and threw her into night sweats and a hard cough, which ended but with her life.PSAS 100.2

    So rapid was the wasting process of her disease, that within six weeks from the time she took the cold, she rode up in the cars, on her way home, with an intimate acquaintance of hers who did not know her. He told me he thought of her, but thought it could not be Annie, she was so altered in her looks, being so poor and pale. Her brother Samuel said he did not think he should have known her had he met her unexpectedly, and said with a most dejected look, “I don’t think she will live.”PSAS 100.3

    She came home the 7 th of November, kept about and worked some till about the 1 st of December, when she had a very distressed day, and raised blood. Having confidence in water treatment, she went where she could receive such treatment, to see the effect it would have, and to get information. She continued this course till the following February. She felt better while under the exhilarating effect of the water, but became satisfied that she was no better.PSAS 101.1

    The 14 th of February, most providentially, Bro. Joseph Bates called on us, and stopped til the 18 th. This was the occasion of a great blessing to her. At the commencement of the Sabbath, the 16 th, the spirit and power of God descended upon her, and she praised God with a loud voice. I felt at the same time the sweet influence of Heaven, and the presence of holy angels. I believed God was hearing prayer, and granting his blessing, and joined them in praising and giving glory to his name. Bro. B. Then said to Annie, “You needed this blessing, and now if the Lord sees that it is best for you to be laid away in the grave, he will go with you.”PSAS 101.2

    She appeared some stronger and better a few days in the day time, but I could not see that she rested, or was much different nights. Her cough remained obstinate, and I do not think the disease was ever stayed. She was greatly strengthened in a spiritual point of view, and engaged more earnestly in exhorting people to believe the Word, and be ready for the coming of the Lord. She would feel impressed to go out and talk with different individuals upon the truth, and was strengthened and blessed in so doing. Victory was generally gained, so that the truth was verified, that whom the Lord makes free is free indeed. We had from that time as long as she lived, some of the most sweet, melting seasons of prayer that I ever enjoyed, often accompanied with shouts of praise to the Lord.PSAS 101.3

    It was evidence to all around that Annie was failing. Her symptoms became alarming. The 20 th of March her brother Samuel was taken suddenly and very sick with influenza and fever, three miles and a half away at his boarding place, and unable to get home. Annie said I must go and attend upon him, even if she never saw me again.PSAS 102.1

    The 30 th she went to Mason Village to stay with sister Gorham, while I was with her brother. While there, word came that Annie was much worse. The 12 th of April I went to Mason Village, and found her very much worse than I expected. For twelve days her death was almost hourly expected by those around. She said to me, “Mother, that poem I’ve been writing since January, 1855, [since published under the title of “Home Here and Home in Heaven,”] I suppose must all be lost. It is unconnected and nothing can be done with it to advantage, with out me.” I went to Wilton and got the papers containing what she had written, but she was not able to do anything with them. She then prayed that she might be enabled to finish the poem, and prepare the book she had in contemplation; that if she did not live, it might be that through it, she being dead would yet speak, and that good might be done.PSAS 102.2

    Sabbath, April 21, the meeting was at sister Gorham’s. We did not hold it in her room on account of her low state of health, but went in to close the exercises, when to our surprise she commenced praying with more than usual strength. The presence of God was manifested, and his power rested down upon her in a remarkable manner. She said she was raised up to go home, and to do the will of the Lord. She rested better that night than she had for a long while. The next day she rode to Wilton, seven miles, to the astonishment of all. Many from our village had been to see her, and taken their leave, never expecting to see her again; and when they saw the carriage drive up, they came in to when she died. Great was their surprise to find her able to walk about the room. She was again in her own quiet home, and soon commenced on her work. She was not able to write much herself, and I kept paper and pencil to write what she dictated at her will.PSAS 102.3

    The 28 th of May she had arranged and composed the last verse of her poem “Home Here and Home in Heaven.” The 29 th, her brother Uriah came home just in time to write it off for the press, and to assist her in arranging her other poetry for reprinting. She, however, made some alterations, and some little additions while he was copying it.PSAS 103.1

    She dreamed in February that she was with a people, seemingly spectators, and before her was the most beautiful road, which glistened like gold. There was a company arranged by the side, and some one came to her with a peony, and said to her, “You must go over upon that road and hold up this peony.” She stood there dressed in white, holding up the peony, when she awoke with the most pleasing impression, that she had yet something more to do for the Lord. She fully believed after she came from Mason, that she would accomplish the work she had in view, and that this was what was represented by her dream. The peony was her favorite flower, and as soon as they were in blossom, Uriah sketched and engraved one for the book, as is seen on the title page.PSAS 103.2

    She often said in view of her dream, that when the book was done there would be a change in her. She should either be raised up to live, or she should die. Her prayer was answered. The book was all done on her part, and as she had a desire to see the proof sheet of her poem, and heard that help was needed at the office, she said to Uriah, “I feel bad to have you staying on my account, when it seems you might be accomplishing more good.” It was thought she might live till frosty nights, if no longer. Under these considerations, Uriah left for Rochester the 17th of July. He had not been gone with the manuscript more than three hours, when she said, “I am ready now to die;” and she did not live quite ten days after.PSAS 103.3

    The 18 th she wrote the piece “Our Duty.” The 19 th, at 3 o’clock, P. M., she said, “Mother, some change has taken place. I don’t think I shall live through the day.” I saw there was a change, and stayed by her. Night drew on. No one happened in. She said, “It seems to me I could not breathe to have many in the room.” I told her I was not afraid to be alone with her if she did die. She seemed gratified, as she wanted everything as quiet as could be, and she was not able to talk much with people if they were in. Her brother John and myself stayed with her during the night, when it seemed that any moment might be her last. She delivered many messages for different individuals, especially for her brother Samuel, if she did not live to see him. She said, “My mind was never clearer; I could do a sum in arithmetic.”PSAS 104.1

    About 2 o’clock she looked very happy. I said to John, “Annie is being blessed.” She soon exclaimed, “Glory to God,” a number of times, louder than she had spoken for a long while. She said, “Heaven is opened. I know Jesus is mine, and that he will save me. I shall come forth at the first resurrection;” and exhorted us to prepare for the time of trouble, and to be ready to meet her at that day, which she said she did not think was far distant.PSAS 104.2

    Friday morning, the 20 th, I wanted to write to Uriah, but she said “It will make no difference, I think I am dying; don’t leave me, mother, while I live.” We sent for Samuel, and for sister Gorham. She remained about the same. Those who came in thought she must be just gone. They said it did not seem like a sick and dying room, she appeared so happy. She would look upon them and smile when she could not speak. Sabbath, July 21, she seemed better. Sunday, the 22nd, more distressed, though she had some pleasing, and I trust profitable intercourse with her relatives and some of her particular friends. Monday morning, more comfortable. Some of us entertained hopes that she might, even then, revive and live. Monday night her distress returned. She said, “I think I cannot live.” Thursday morning, the 24 th, she composed her last two verses, “Oh! shed not a tear o’er the spot where I sleep,” etc. In the afternoon she had a conflict with the enemy, and seemed to lose sight of Jesus. I told her it was no strange thing; it was only a sign the Lord was near and would deliver. She found it even so. Before night she was enabled to triumph over all the powers of darkness, and praised God aloud. She prayed for patience to suffer all her Father’s will, saying, “I shall not suffer any too much. I can bear anything while Jesus sustains me;” and many like expressions.PSAS 104.3

    Tuesday night was a solemn and interesting night. I stayed with her alone through the night. Neither of us slept. She was very happy, and talked much with me. She said in her former familiar way, “My mother, I’ve been afraid I should wear you all out. I’ve called after you by night and by day.” She felt bad to have me kept us as I was on her account. But she said, I am here now, your dying girl. I think this is the last night, and you must be sure to rest when I am gone. O, my blessed mother, I shall bless you in Heaven for taking such care of me. No sorrow or suffering there. We shall all be free there. Yes, we shall all be free when we arrive at home, and we shall live forever. Yes, and I can smile upon you now through all my sufferings.” It was her last suffering night. Wednesday, the 25 th, a death coldness was upon her. In the afternoon she became more free from pain and distress. While speaking in the evening of taking care of her, she said, “I shall not want any one to sit up; you can lie on the lounge.” At 1 o’clock I called Samuel. She talked with him, called for what she wanted as usual, and told him he might lie down. About three o’clock she called him to wet her head with water, and said she felt sleepy. She was indeed going into her last sleep. Samuel wet her head, and soon after spoke to me and said, “I don’t know but Annie is dying.” I spoke to her. She took no notice, breathed a few times, and died apparently as easy as any one going into a natural sleep. Her sufferings were over. She was gone. It was 4 o’clock in the morning, July 26, 1855.PSAS 105.1

    She gave many directions about her burial; wanted as little parade as possible. We were expecting Bro. And sister White. We had a letter from Bro. H. O. Nichols, saying they were expected there, and would be likely to call on us about that time. Brn. Bates, Burr and Nichols were written to, but circumstances prevented any of them from attending her funeral. Bro. Hastings and others spoke, prayed, and sung, to the edification of all. The hymns selected were, “Unconscious now in peaceful sleep,” and “She hath passed death’s chilling billow.” It has since been said by the friends that they never attended a more interesting funeral.PSAS 106.1

    Annie looked very natural; more so than at any time after she came home. It was remarked that a holy sweetness seemed to rest upon her countenance, while her remains were with us. Annie had many favors shown her. For the interest and friendship manifested, the friends have my sincere love and gratitude. Though I ever though much of them, they seem doubly dear since her death, especially Bro. And sister White, with whom she was so long connected. Annie loved them, and manifested an interest for them, and the work there till the last. Bro. White made her the generous donation of seventy-five dollars and other valuable presents, during her sickness.PSAS 106.2

    It was a great satisfaction that I had Annie with me, and that I was enabled to take care of her while she lived. Her complaints required an uneven temperature of the room, which was unfavorable for me. I took one cold after another, and was very much worn down at the time of her death. I took an additional cold when she was buried, and have scarcely been able to do anything since. I have though sometimes, that what I had the privilege of doing for Annie, was worth my life, if it must go; and if it were not that I was still needed as a mother, I would now myself willing lay off the burden of life’s duties and cares.PSAS 107.1

    West Wilton, N. H., Sept. 16, 1855.

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