Judith Sargent Murray Society
JSM's dates: 1751-1820
The Repository. No. XXIV.
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This essay appeared in the September 1794 edition of the Massachusetts Magazine under the name "Constantia." In it, Judith discusses the joy of motherhood. Her first child, a son named Fitz Winthrop, died in childbirth. Her second child, Julia Maria, who was born in 1791 when Judith was 40 years old, survived.


The Repository. No. XXIV.
 
A white day this is. I have hailed Cleora the joyful mother of a second pledge of her connubial love; it is a sweet smiling girl, her infant countenance prognosticates future loveliness, and the lines of her pretty face already unfold a number of latent beauties. How enchanting is innocence, how sweetly interesting, how endearingly prepossessing! The scene at Cleora's hath been replete with joy; it was about four o'clock in the afternoon that the God of our salvation gave us this cause for rejoicing; with what transport did I fly to gratulate the tender fair one, and to hail the new born stranger; alternately we pressed the lovely infant to our bosoms, while the gentle matron appeared absorbed in extatic contemplation, and her every wish, in that delicious moment, seemed amply gratified. The partner of her life was in a delirium of joy; nor knew he to which to address himself, the tender female who had thus blest him, or the little insensible pledge of their mutual loves. For Cleora, a virtuous blush suffused her pale countenance as the father of her children approached; her eyes proclaimed him the man of her heart, and every feature was expressive of the unutterable tenderness with which her fond soul is replete. Happy, thrice happy Cleora -- silken are the bands by which thou art holden. Their first hope, their eldest blossom, was introduced; here was a new source of pleasing sensations. The child appeared lost in pretty innocent wonder; I congratulated him upon the birth of his sister; spoke to him of her mamma, &c. In a hasty manner he demanded, "who is her mamma?" I pointed to the bed, but as the female there confined was confessedly his mamma, he could not comprehend how she could be the baby's also; suddenly he quitted the room, but soon returned, bearing a number of toys, which with great earnestness he endeavoured to make the new born notice, saying he would certainly give them all to her. What pleasures were apparent in the revered countenances of my father, and my mother; but it were in vain to attempt a description of the various sensations which were displayed in the features of parents, grand parents, and each felicitating relation and friend. Many are the felicities of such a hymen. Thou art happy, Cleora -- may thy lot be still distinguished by every blessing. What a melancholy contrast doth the childless wife exhibit! Is she separated from the lord of her wishes, for the absence of her kindred soul her tears must ceaseless flow. A solitary, a childless wife, how dreary the idea; no sweet infant to soothe her cares, to clasp to her bosom, to receive and to bestow the kiss of love. Did some pretty prattler fill her arms, with what delight would she dwell upon every feature, and how might she trace the likeness of the man she loved, till all the father stood confessed!

CONSTANTIA

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2007 © Bonnie Hurd Smith

Independent scholar and author Bonnie Hurd Smith is the president and CEO of History Smiths, a marketing company that works with businesses to incorporate history -- their own and their community's -- into their branding, marketing, and community outreach to attract customers, boost customer loyalty, and secure a high status reputation in the communities they serve.