The uncertain nature of life was often explored in Youth’s Companion, but not always as bluntly as in this piece.

James Francis Hodges was married to Elizabeth Ann Heath in Norfolk, Virginia, on 14 December 1848 [“Virginia, Select Marriages, 1785-1940.”] I haven’t yet found a record of James’ death.
“A Step from the Altar to the Tomb,” by J. E. E. (from Youth’s Companion, 13 September 1849; pp. 79-80)

Bro. Lee:—On the evening of the 14th of December, 1848, I was called on to solemnize the rites of matrimony between a Mr. Hodges and a Miss Heath, of this city—Norfolk, Va. The evening was damp and gloomy; but on reaching the house at which the ceremony was to be performed, I found a gay and happy company assembled, in which, as is common on such occasions, the jest and the merry laugh were circulating freely. Bright faces and light hearts were around me. Young men in the strength of early youth were there; and blushing maidens, on whose fair brows the finger of care had left no trace, mingled in the dense little crowd. It was a happy and joyous hour. There was a momentary buzz and stir, and as silence again came over the company, there stood a delicate, pale-faced, young gentleman before me, beside his trembling bride. He was just twenty-one, and she, perhaps not more than seventeen. What visions of happiness were dancing before them. I solemnized the marriage rites, and saw them again mingle with the crowd. Hearty congratulations met them from every lip. The young man was again seated; and while others were giving utterance to the emotions which the occasion inspired, he was sedate, quiet, and, apparently almost sad. So he appeared to me. In a few moments I retired. What think you were my feelings, when on the following Tuesday, I stood in the presence of many of the same young persons, and preached his funeral sermon! On Sunday night he died of an affection of the heart, under which he had been laboring for several

p. 80

years. “What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue!” Little did I think when I stood amid the festive scenes of the wedding occasion I should so soon stand amid the mourners at his funeral. In his case, there was but a step from the altar to the grave. And what an affecting scene was that, when the cries of a bereaved mother, and the shrieks of a widowed bride, mingled over the same corpse! I shall never forget the hour, when that mother appealed to me, the next day afer his burial, in language like the following:—“Oh, do say something to comfort me.” What could I say? It was a trying hour. May I never have another like it. “He lacked but one thing,” said the agonized parent. He was moral, affectionate and kind; but he lacked one thing. Remember, thoughtless young man—and young woman, there may be but a step from the altar to the tomb. “Prepare to meet thy God.”

Norfolk, Va. Jan. 1849. J. E. E.

[Richmond Christian Advocate.

Copyright 1999-2024, Pat Pflieger
To “Nineteenth-Century American Children & What They Read
Some of the children | Some of their books | Some of their magazines
To “Voices from 19th-Century America
Some works for adults, 1800-1872
To Titles at this site | Authors at this site | Subjects at this site | Works by date | Map of the site

Talk to me.