In one of our old books, which was handed down from four generations ago, I found several newspaper clippings–a couple obituaries, an announcement of new officers to a Presbyterian organization, an ad for hearing aids, and a curious poetic blessing on mothers. The only credit is to Harper’s Magazine.
It looks like the kind of folklore people would pass around and think nothing of preserving, because that would be a kin to preserving grass. We assume such things will be around forever. A generation goes by, and maybe someone asks, “Do you remember that thing we used to say? It was so good.” But no one remembers. And maybe it wasn’t actually good.
They were words of their time, spoken like all words with dissipating breath.
I found it on a page scanned from a March 1877 issue of Harper’s New Monthly Magazine with a bit of explanation not included in my paper clipping.
The following was recently written and sent by a distinguished clergyman to his mother. It was sent on a postal card:
Dear Mother —
From sweet Isaiah’s sacred song, chapter 9 and verse 6
First 13 words please take and then the following affix;
From Genesis the 35th, verse 17, no more.
Then add verse 26 of Kings, book 2nd, chapter 4.
The last two verses, chapter 1, 1st book of Samuel
And you will learn what on this day your loving son befell.
Deciphering this from the King James, we read this.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
“And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.”
“Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well:”
“For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshipped the Lord there.”