Eliza A. Morton


FEBRUARY 6, 1918



Eliza A. Morton – Spinster.


(By Amy Musgrave.)

"O Light that followest all our way,
We yield our flickering torch to Thee,
Our heart restores its borrowed ray
That in Thy sunshine blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be."

Many a business man of means and influence does not come as near to one’s ideal of citizen – a good brave, useful, inspiring citizen – as did my spinster friend.

You see, she fitted right into the life of our community and did us all good. If we sold liquor or drank, she prayed hard for us and dealt us faithful blows with that "soft word" that "breaketh the bone," as Solomon has it. If we hoarded or wasted she put us to shame by her liberality with nothing back of it, as one may say, only "God, even our own God" was back of her gifts.

And if we were gossipy, or greedy, or just cold and self-centered; what a quick silence or grieved dismay, if you told of wrong doing. What a lesson her laughing! "Don’t you know. He gives us all things richly to enjoy?" Coupled with her promptly decided "Nothing more, thank you. I have dined heartily."

No "Well, I oughtn’t to, but its so nice, just half a slice," etc, etc., with Miss Eliza. And with what sunny tact did she disarm the self-centered and reticent. "Somehow it’s odd, but Miss Morton is one of the few people who never jar, never get on my nerves."

"Good family and good looks go a long way," you say. Undoubtedly the Morton’s are unusually gifted. As to looks; Here she comes up the front steps, very plainly dressed in black, with something soft and white about her neck, a slight limp, gray curls that "did" themselves, (Her hair must have been masses of wavy curls when in her teens.) a shapely head, calm forehead, nose straight and fine to the tip. Her mouth, with its firm, delicate lips, had lovely curvy corners when she smiled. Oh, my friend! your smile comes to me today though death and years have done their worst to part us.

What you would notice first was that her eyes were the brightest you ever looked into, an exact match for the clear, well-modulated tones that had a ring of courage in them, and the ripple of delightful laughter. Sounds as if I heard her now. I do. I see myself toiling thro’ a big drift to get to the little house that stood under those two big elms, a little to the east of the cement bridge on the Aylesford Road. It had been a blizzard. The thermometer doing stunts, ten, fifteen below. "Well darling, I’m well, but what do you think? I ran out of wood... Now what do you suppose I did?" "Oh," I cried, "I can’t laugh, it’s awful." She had stayed with us once before and we returned to find a new pail of water frozen so hard that the ice actually stove out the bottom in a splintered projection, which was tipping up the pail. I shook my head. "I can’t guess." "Well, darling, I cut some small pieces of my old weaving machine, and made myself a cup of tea, and then I just went to bed." and her sunny laugh rang out.

This lumbering, old-time weaving machine was the cause of her lameness.

She told me that in the old colonial days of our County, when Bishop Inglis was living at Clairmont, she and her sisters went out a great deal. Those were the days of much cider and wine drinking. No dance, corn husking, wedding, or other function was classy without The Bowl, and a good sized one at that!

Miss Eliza’s department in the family was to spin and weave. And when Bishop Inglis brought his daughters from England, their smart cloaks of rich mixed plaids, (so much like those golf coats a few seasons back,) were the envy of the Morton sisters. Eliza took the patterns and spun and wove cloaks for them, of the exact plaids worn by the Bishop’s daughters. I have two pieces of these rich home spun plaids before me at this minute. The colors in one are white, black, red, and brown, and one little yellow bar. The other is blue, black, white with fine stripes of dark red. The colors in both are still bright and the designs attractive, tho’ they may be a hundred years old. Also, I have taken tea with Miss Eliza, on a white linen cloth of pretty pattern, spun and woven by her clever fingers. And to the last she knitted my father soft, white, socks from yarn of her own spinning. But the working of that heavy weaving machine made her lame.

One winter day, going to the little cottage after a heavy snow storm, she said she had not slept much the night before. "You see, Darling," she said in her cheerful voice, but, with a wistful shake of the head, "there are so many men that get drinking and they come along this road some nights. The wind was high and the snow so deep last night, one could hardly hear any one singing out." "Oh," I said rather surprised, for she never seemed one bit timid. "You mean your house is so near the road they might come in and annoy you?" "Oh, no! no! not that. But you know ... some poor fellow, the worse for liquor, might call out for help, and no one hear, and he would get frozen." So this elderly spinster lay awake praying and listening lest she should miss hearing a call, and fail to bring in some sorely beset brother to a warm fire and lounge bed.

It was in those early days of her girlhood that Miss Eliza was converted and she must have been soundly converted too, under the faithful pastorate of the Rev. Mr. Owen, for her Christianity had stood the wear and tear of some eighty years.

That good deposit which is in you, as St. Paul has it, survived disappointment, contempt, injustice, ridicule, loneliness and poverty.

She told me, speaking of a relative whom she urged to give up selling spirits, that I was out of my mind anyway. And I told her I would much rather not have my reason than take away other people’s by selling them liquor. "And, why, certainly I would," she finished with a triumphant inflection of her cheery voice.

Later in life Miss Morton was associated with the Methodist Church, but her sympathies and prayers were too inclusive to be held within denominational limits, and of her the description fits. "A member of Christ’s Church Militant here on earth," Next to her Bible she prized a certain soiled paper-covered copy of "The Blood of Jesus" by Reid. I have it now. "What that little book has been to me, Darling!" Once when very ill this book was not in the house. She felt she must have it. "And, Darling, I actually felt as if Jesus Himself came into my room, when I got it again."

One day I found her alone in bed in her cottage. "Darling, I thought Jesus was going to take me last night" ..."But, Miss Morton, you oughtn’t to stay here alone and you not well.."

"Why Darling? It’s all right. You don’t suppose I’d mind dying alone. Sure not. I’ll be glad to go when He comes ..."

A snapshot of my friend? Rather a tuft of sweet scented Russian violets found green and blooming under the snows of years. "I had a friend" as Charles Kingsley said. To her relatives in our County and elsewhere, members of the Clan Morton, may I commend Longfellow’s verse?

"The overflow of noble souls
Into our inmost being rolls,
And lifts us unawares
Out of all meaner cares.

"Honor to those whose words and deeds
Thus help us in our daily needs
And by their overflow
Raise us from what is low!"