The Dying Boy,” by “Mrs. Larned of Providence,” is a morbid and sentimental warning against alcohol, apparently based on the true story of a family’s death; it was reprinted from The Christian Keepsake and Missionary Annual, published in Philadelphia from 1838 to 1840, and from 1847-1849. Parley’s Magazine often took a stance against alcoholism (and, sometimes, against other, more innocent pleasures as well!)
“The Dying Boy,” by Mrs. Larned of Providence (from Parley’s Magazine, January 1839; pp. 12-13; originally reprinted from the Christian Keepsake)

The following lines were written after reading an account of the death of a young mother and three children, from the inhuman neglect of the husband and father. The wife was taken suddenly ill, and left alone with her little ones, while her husband went to procure a physician, and other needful assistance, the nearest house being over two miles distant; but he forgot every thing, save his own depraved appetite, became drunk before doing his errand, remained so for a week, and on his return found them all dead. It is supposed that the mother died soon after the birth of her child, and that the boy struggled longest—that in trying to soothe his expiring sister, he sank down from weakness beside her, and could not at last release himself from her grasp.

O, mother dear! my lips are dry,

And Bessy’s hands are cold;—

Mother, dear mother! help me nigh

Your bosom—surely you can hold

Your little boy. I will not cry,

Nor ask again for drink or bread,

If you will only let me lie

Upon your breast and hold my head.

Oh, mother! call your little boy

To your bedside—he’ll try to crawl;

You said I was your only joy,

Your darling Henry, and your all;

And then, you looked and screamed out so—

“Boy! to your cruel father go.

Why do you weep and wail to me?

Fly! fly! I’ve nothing here for thee!”

Don’t stare so on me, mother dear,

I’m still—though Bessy will not stir!

And she’s too cold to lie so near—

O, why don’t father come to her?

Poor Bessy cried herself to sleep;

I wish I could—but when I try,

My lids won’t shut—and always keep

Wide open on your staring eye!

Mother! how can you lie so still,

With the dead baby in your arms?

Who did the little dear one kill?

You said ’twas now safe from all harms:—

Can’t I be dead too, mother, say?

I’m sure ’tis very lonesome here—

Is heaven a very great long way?

And is our father waiting there?

I’m tired now, and cannot go,

And the bright sun does blind me so:—

Oh, shut your eyes, dear mother, do!

And let me love to gaze on you.

How can you see us lying thus,

On this iced floor—our feet so cold?

Once you would fondly run to us,

And round us both the blankets fold.

I’m falling—O, the room turns round!—

I cannot see you now;—but hark!

I hear a soft and pleasant sound;

Perhaps it is the little lark.

I love such sounds as these to hear,

And it is dark no longer now;

Dear little girls with wings are near,

And they are smiling on me too.

O, ’tis their songs so sweet and clear—

I think I hear them softly say,

Dear children, stay no longer here;—

Come, come with us, we’ll lead the way—

It must be heaven where they dwell:

I come!—I come!—Mother, farewell!

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Christian Keepsake

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