Read CHAPTER IV of Mary S. Peake The Colored Teacher at Fortress Monroe , free online book, by Lewis C. Lockwood, on

After the exciting scenes of the Christmas festival, Mrs. Peake’s health sensibly declined, and in a week or two she was obliged to suspend, and soon to give up entirely, the charge to which she had clung with such tenacity. I visited her frequently, and was the bearer of clothing and other tokens from friends at the North. Every thing in our power was done to cheer her, and never were ministerings more cordially bestowed, or more gratefully received and richly repaid. To visit her had always been a privilege, but the privilege was doubly precious during her last illness. To see how a frail woman, with an exquisitely nervous temperament, could deliberately and calmly bid farewell to family, pupils, and friends, and yield herself into her Father’s hands, to pass through the ordeal of sickness and death, was a privilege and a blessing.

In her presence I was a learner, and, under the inspiration of her words and example, obtained new strength for fresh endeavors in the cause of God and humanity. In one of my visits, she told me that I must give her love to the committee in New York, and all the friends of the mission; that she had had a bright vision of her Saviour, and he had assured her that the cause would triumph; that we were sowing seed which would spring up and become a tree, to overspread the whole earth; that we should be a great blessing to this down-trodden people, and they would fulfill a glorious destiny. “Oh, yes,” said she, “brother Lockwood, you will succeed, for Jesus has told me so this morning.”

For two weeks previous to her death, she seemed to be in the “land of Beulah,” on the “mountains of the shepherds,” where, like Bunyan’s pilgrim, she could clearly descry the promised land. She had a strong desire to depart and be with Christ, which was far better than even his most intimate earthly visits. Again and again, as I called to see her, she assured me that she had had a fresh visit from her Saviour, and he had told her that where he was she should be, and she would be like him when she should see him as he is. She knew not where in the universe heaven might be, but where her Saviour was, there would be her heaven, for she would be with him.

Her constantly increasing cough and expectoration, though not attended with much pain, were, as usual, accompanied with uneasiness, want of sleep, and great weakness, which made her frequently request prayer that she might have patience to bear all without a murmur, and await her Father’s will. She wanted to say, with the feelings of Job, “All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. I know that my Redeemer liveth.”

At one time, her symptoms seemed more favorable, and I expressed a hope of her recovery. “No,” said she; “I have taken leave of my family, and of every thing on earth, and I would rather go, if it be God’s will; only I want to wait patiently till he comes to call me.” Her husband and mother told me that, during the previous night, she had bidden them all farewell, and left farewell messages for her school, and the church, and all her friends. She had thus set her house in order, to die, or, rather, to live a diviner life, and she was waiting the summons home. She said that she felt like a little child in her Father’s arms; and if, by lifting a pebble, she could hold back her spirit, she would not do it.

Several days before her death, she requested me to sing “The Christian’s Home in Glory,” or “Rest for the Weary” a hymn, with its tune, dear to her for itself and for its associations. As I repeated the chorus, she exclaimed, again and again, with great tenderness and emphasis, “Rest, rest, rest! Oh, brother Lockwood, there I shall rest, rest, rest! This weary head shall rest on my Saviour’s bosom.”

When I had sung the last stanza,

“Sing, oh, sing, ye heirs of glory,
Shout your triumph as you go,”

she burst out in an ecstasy that seemed as if the spirit would break away from the body, “Oh, brother, I shall sing! I shall shout! Won’t we sing? Won’t we shout? Yes, we shall we shall sing and shout!”

On Saturday morning, February 22, she was in a very happy frame of mind, and said that she had had precious visits from her Saviour; he had told her that he was coming soon, and would fulfill her heart’s desire in taking her to him. Her mother said, that during the previous night she had been constantly reaching up, and sometimes she would cry out, with great earnestness, “Do not leave me, dear Jesus.”

She requested me to sing for her, and I sung, “The Shining Shore,” and “Homeward Bound.” During the singing of the last stanza of the latter song, she was filled with joy.

“Into the harbor of heaven now we glide,
We’re home at last!
Softly we drift o’er its bright silver tide,
We’re home at last!
Glory to God! All our dangers are o’er;
We stand secure on the glorified shore;
Glory to God! we will shout evermore,
We’re home at last!”

“Yes,” she exclaimed, “home at last! Glory to God! Home at last! Oh, I shall soon be home home home at last!”

On the night of that day, about twelve o’clock, her waiting, longing spirit went home. Washington’s birthday was her birthday to a higher life. After many a sleepless night, this last evening she was permitted to rest quietly, till the midnight cry struck upon her ear, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh!” It found her ready, with her lamp trimmed and burning. Calling for her mother, she threw herself into her embrace, as her spirit did into the embrace of her Saviour.

Just at midnight, on all the ships in Hampton Roads, and which are so near us that the cry on shipboard is distinctly heard on shore, the watchman cried aloud, as usual, “Twelve o’clock, and all’s well!” The sound penetrated the sick chamber, and the dying invalid apparently heard it. She smiled sweetly, and then breathed her last sigh, and entered upon that rest which remains for the people of God.

The next morning, which was the Sabbath, I called, and found her husband and mother bearing up under their bereavement with Christian fortitude. They could smile through their tears; though they wept, it was not as those who have no hope. In the services of the day, the bereaved were remembered in fervent, sympathizing prayer. We all felt sorely afflicted, and would have grieved, but for the thought that our temporary loss was her eternal gain. In the evening, a prayer meeting was held till midnight in the room where her body lay; but all felt like saying, She is not here; her spirit is with her Father and our Father, her God and our God.

On Monday, at eleven o’clock, a large concourse assembled at her funeral. We met in her school room, at the Brown Cottage, a place sweetened and hallowed by associations with her crowning labors, and thus a fit place for these leave-taking services. The occasion was one of mingled sorrow and joy. The services were begun by singing, according to her request, the familiar hymn,

“I would not live alway,”

to the tune of “Sweet Home,” in which it is generally sung by the people here, with the chorus,

“Home! Home! Sweet, sweet home!
There’s no place like heaven, there’s no place like home!”

The impression was very thrilling. Chaplain Fuller, of the sixteenth Massachusetts regiment, offered prayer praying fervently for the bereaved mother and husband, and for little Daisy, who would one day realize more than now a mother’s worth by her loss. We then sung, according to her request, her favorite hymn, “The Christian’s Home in Glory,” or “Rest for the Weary.” I selected for my text Hebrews 4:9 “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” At the conclusion of the sermon the children sang,

“Here we suffer grief and pain;
Here we meet to part again;
In heaven we part no more.
Oh, that will be joyful,
Joyful, joyful, joyful,
Oh, that will be joyful,
When we meet to part no more.

Little children will be there,
Who have sought the Lord by prayer,
From every Sabbath school.
Oh, that will be joyful, &c.

Teachers, too, shall meet above,
And our pastors, whom we love,
Shall meet to part no more.
Oh, that will be joyful,” &c.

The coffin was then opened, and we took the last, lingering look at a face whose heavenly linéaments I can never forget.

In long procession, in which her recent charge bore a prominent part, we accompanied her to her resting place. The place of her sepulture is about a hundred yards north of the seminary, on the bank of the inlet. A live-oak tree stands at her head, projecting its emblematic evergreen foliage over the sod-roofed tenement.

The departed selected, as a remembrance of her immortality, the 17th verse of the 118th Psalm, “I shall not die, but live.” The thirty-nine years of her earthly existence were but the prelude to a life beyond the sky; and while her spirit survives the ravages of death, her name shall live in memory.

In this unpretending memoir may its subject live again, and not in vain. May teachers gather from her example fresh inspiration, and the benevolent Christian fresh impulses in doing good. May they who enjoy advantages superior to those of her proscribed race, take heed lest the latter, by the better improvement of the little light enjoyed, rise up in the judgment and condemn them.

Let Sabbath scholars, and children of pious parentage and Christian education, who from earliest years have not only been taught to lisp the Saviour’s name, but to read it, pity the slave child, shut out from such advantages, and give heed to instruction, lest, having more given and unimproved, they be beaten with many stripes. Let all who have an interest at the throne of grace remember little Daisy, and pray that she may walk in her mother’s footsteps, as far as she followed Christ, only following more closely, attaining still greater excellence, achieving still greater usefulness, and winning a still brighter crown of glory.

As the enlarging harvest field whitens into ripeness, may the Lord of the harvest send forth an increasing number of laborers. Oh, who will give ear to the echoing cry, “Come over and help us”? Come to the harvest work, and you too, with arms full of golden sheaves, shall shout the harvest home. Who will pay the hire of the laborers? Who will lend to the Lord the capital needful to secure the harvest in season and well? For such there shall be untold riches laid up in heaven. And who will sustain those who bear the burden and heat of the day, by the buoyancy of prayer? This is a work thrice blessed to all concerned.