The Essays of Louisa M. Sears

These three handwritten essays by Louisa M. Sears appear after her mother’s journal of an 1852 voyage by sea. They are undated but presumably were written sometime in the late 1860s or early 1870s. After these three essays, Louisa handwrites her Valedictory Address for Dean Academy which she delivered in June 1873.

Essay 1:

“I no longer live. I only exist”

This illustrious pen has ever been interested in eloquency or condemning the life of one whose marvelous character and career is looked upon with not a little of admiration by all nations.

Long and peacefully have slumbered the ashes of one for whom Europe was once too small.

Still the name of Napoleon lives in the minds of his admirers today the same as when the tramp of his army echoed from the Polar Seas to the balmy shores of the Mediterranean Isles. Investigators of his life differ as to whether or not his character should be set forth pattern for posterity to study and copy.

While we do not hesitate to say that his ambition had no equal, we must acknowledge that he stands a grand representative of what man is capable of achieving.

Though we do not consider his life the highest type of manhood, yet we find in it much that is commendable, much that is worthy of our highest praise.

Napoleon had a purpose which his great mind  was ever striving to attain. He has beautifully represented his view of life in the words which we have selected for the subject of these pages.

No act of his whole career has made such an impression upon our mind as this utterance, and I would ask no greater pleasure were my pen capable and then to search out and present the beautiful thought embodied there in.

We can well imagine what the thoughts may have occupied the mind of the Corsian previous to this remark.

Doubtless he was contrasting his life of military achievements with that of a lonely exile on the rocky shores of St. Helena when all hope was lost of ever seeing his much loved country again.

Life to Napoleon meant something more then respiration. He looked forth from a broader standpoint. Mind to him was something divine, given to a being made in God’s own image.

God has given us a beautiful inheritance. He has surrounded us with everything that tends to lift man higher both morally and intellectually. He has however, not left man without his part to perform.

This beautiful home is the great field for action. Man was made to act, work, and suffer. God placed us in an attitude from which we may see his designs, then leaves us to work out our own merit.

To do this everyone should have a purpose for which he lives. The prize is bought only with hard persevering effort.

Think, young man, will you join a name worth by squandering life’s golden days in pursuit of pleasure?

Ease is not life’s crown.

How many there are in the world of whom it could well be said. They only exist. They live wholly unconscious of the beauties which surround them and appear to know nothing of the exterior or outer world.

They live and die, but the world is neither better nor wiser for their having lived in it.

Young men, would you escape a like judgment being passed upon you? If so, avoid an aimless life.

Be not as a bubble on the stream tossed hither and thither by each wave as it passes.

Be a man in the true sense of the word, a being who has ever before him a harbor where he wills that he may anchor his boat conquering all obstacles. What do you have a guide?

History is replete with great names of grand purposes. Study them. They stand as beacon lights to keep us from the sharp rocks toward which their barks have drifted.

Young women you have a part equal with your brother in the great drama. Do not leave him to battle alone.

Where much is given, much is expected.

All lives of the true and noble remind us that we can make our lives sublime.

L. M.  S.

No. 1

Essay 2:


The thoughts and sentiments which come to us through the literary productions of the present and past ages, are not the only sources of knowledge to which the mind has access.

Literature alone is not the foundation of living water from which the mind draws strength and life.

There are thoughts and truths unwritten which speak with a force and eloquence equal to the productions of the most ready pen.

There are grandeurs and sublimities, which the mind cognizes, but which no pen can picture. Language utterly fails to express the eloquence of nature or art.

We are glad for the public libraries of our land, a retreat where the thirsting mind of the student may find wh…th to allay his thirst. When we think of the rich stores of knowledge they contain, we feel a strong desire to possess it.

But all libraries, public or private, replete as they may seem to be with eloquence and filled with volumes whose little pages glow with the names of Milton, Shakespeare, Songfellow and those of bright though lesser stars, still they cannot surpass the  divine eloquence pervading nature,

Who is author is God,

There is a language higher than that of words,

Words express but little of the beauties surrounding us,

The eloquence which is uttered when the sculptured chisel falls upon the obedience marble, and beneath the strokes of the hammer, lips silent plead for liberty and justice, and that displayed as the artist’s brush passes over the canvas reach the appreciating mind.

We seem to be standing beholding the Queen of the Adriatic. The moon is full in the heavens. It’s rays fall on the swelling domes and lofty roofs of Venice, her works of art magnificent monuments, splendid palaces, all seem to be present before us.

No dip of the oar on the moon lit bay, no laugh, no song disturbs the midnight loveliness. The city lies in grand repose.

There is a stirring eloquence which spring from the flexible fingers of the musician as he seats himself at the organ or piano.

At first there steals upon us a dreamy quietude. As the music swells, we are forgetful of all earthly surroundings and seem to be transported to a sphere where music is the life of life.

All these are but mediums through which a language unwritten finds expression.

Men are so blinded by the world that they recognize no eloquence aside from books and mortal lips, yet they are surrounded daily with an eloquence which none but the Divine could create, not but harmony is breathed upon His works.

Music flows in eloquence in the river rushing from the mountainside hurrying along to the ocean to deposit its treasured is on its bosom.

The roar of yon Cataract, as its waters rush down the rocky ledge, and with one mad plunge falls foaming into the deep channel below, has a grandeur no tongue can express.

Behold old ocean a tempest is upon the bosom the deep. See with what madness she raises her crested billows, dashing her spray angrily from continent to continent.

This is but the voice of God speaking to us so eloquently,

Rafael, the king of painters, with his life of art, has left nothing that would cast even a shadow upon the bright picture surrounding us.

Age dims not its luster, no brush destroys it’s loveliness. The world around above us, ever presents changes pleasing to the eves?

At eve we behold the blue canopy of the heavens studded with myriads of stars, all sailing on in space,

the moon in their midst with her soft light sheds glory along her pathway and all move on in a harmony divine.  Soon the soft coloring gives place to the stronger shades.

The sun peeps over the mountaintop gilding it with a golden light.

The lesser lights sync to rest acknowledging Him King of Day. Nature welcomes his shining face; He advances in his blazing target carrying joy wherever he goes.

He descends the mountain slopes, penetrating into the dark valleys, causing light to spring out of darkness,

God displays his eloquence in these beautiful scenes. We are in the midst of a season particularly eloquent.

We go into the forest where we find change written on everything. The dead leaves nestle at our feet. The trees, once so green with their with their thick foliage, are fast losing their beauty. Leaf after leaf drops into its silent graves; but few remain to tell the tale—in a short time they too will have joined their companions.

We look upon this eloquent lesson and from it we draw the lesson of life.

We learn that out of death springs a new life, higher and more beautiful.

The dry leaves lying in the lap of the grand old forest today, will all have changed by springtime and reappear in colors brighter than before.

The death of the tree is but a laying aside of the old garment and putting on of the new.

Thus with man, his death is but a rising from his slumber’s into new life.

The sweetest lesson of all nature is this,

The rose fall fades and dies, but to bloom the brighter in the spring.

L. M. S.

No. 2

Essay 3


Freedom? What emotions fill the breast of man as the cry of freedom brakes upon his ear?

The flashing I, the animated voice, and quick throb of the pulse, all bespeak the joy of soul within.

Freedom is one of the essential attributes of the soul, 

God has stamped its impress upon our very humanity, and whenever or wherever we hear it’s voice we seem to see the bondsman’s fetters breaking, and hear the heavy chains fall with clamor to the earth;

Chains which have so long bound soul and body down to a life of cruel servitude.

The glad cry reaches even the prison walls, the outer doors swing wide upon their heavy hinges, the inner gratings burst their strong iron bands and the liberated breathe the free air of heaven,

Nature mingles her many voices with the joyous souls of men,

The eagle building its nest upon the mountain brow, the lambkins spurting in the green valley’s below, the river tending its course to the sea, the gurgling brooks, the swelling ocean, the bird ever on the wing in its course far above us, the wild beast in his rovings over vast prairies, all these with one voice proclaim — we are free.

It was the spirit of freedom which held the footsteps of the wild Indian in his rough boundless path and made him so loathe to enter within the pale of civilization.

He turned his eyes with childish wonder and distaste upon our forms of government.

What? Said he, must I exchange my freedom for these binding cords? No, never. I am free and for that freedom I will face death if need be.

Let us turn back to our forest homes, westward tend our course and press those homes on word till they stink in the Pacific waves, rather then rather not be free.

That freedom to which the red man clung with so much pride and perseverance differs widely from that which the American hailed with shouts of joy, when peace was proclaimed throughout the land and the grand cry echoed along the shores.

That which the Indian sought was a wild freedom having no higher purpose then self-gratification, that he might hunt the deer, plant his corn, and pitch his tent where he chose unmolested by the white man, was what he sought in freedom.

The freedom we enjoy today as a nation is a Christian civilized freedom, promoting the moral and intellectual interests of those coming within its reach. The foreigner looks with wishful eyes to our hospitable shores and is willing to suffer any (the essay ends abruptly here)

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