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سحر -//- ر )
When, at the request of the brothers of Alice and Phæbe Cary, I sat down to write a Memorial of their lives, and, looking through the entire mass of their papers, found not a single word of their own referring in any personal way to themselves, every impulse of my heart impelled me to relinquish the task. To tell the story of any human life, even in its outward incidents, wisely and justly, is not an easy thing to do. But to attempt a fit memorial of two women whose lives must be chiefly interpreted by inward rather than outward events, and solely from personal knowledge and remembrance, was a responsibility that I was unwilling to assume. With the utter absence of any data of their own, it seemed to me that the lives of the Cary sisters could only be produced from the combined reminiscences of all their more intimate personal friends. Months were consumed in writing to, and in waiting for replies from, long-time friends of the sisters. All were willing, but alas ! they “had destroyed all letters," had forgotten "lots and lots of things that would have been interesting ;" they were preoccupied, or sick ; and, after months of waiting,
I sat where I began, with the mass of Alice's and Phæbe's unedited papers before me, and not an added line for their lives, with a new request from their legatees and executors, that I should go on with the Memorial.
Here it is.
more than labor. Every day I have buried my friends anew. Every line wrung from memory has deepened the wound of irreparable loss.
From beginning to end my one purpose has been, not to write a eulogy, but to write justly. In depicting their birthplace and early life in Ohio, I have quoted copiously from Phæbe's sketch of Alice, and Ada Carnahan's sketch of her Aunt Phæbe, both published in the (Boston) “Ladies' Repository," believing that that which pertained exclusively to their early family life could be more faithfully told by members of the family than by any one born outside of it. Save where full credit is given to others, I, alone, am responsible for the statements of this Memorial. Not a line in it has been recorded from “hearsay.” Not a fact is given that I do not know to be true, either from my own personal knowledge, or from the lips of the women whose lives and characters it helps to represent. I make this statement as facts embodied by me before, in a newspaper article, have been publicly questioned. One writer went so far as to say in a public journal, that, “ As she would not willingly misrepresent her, Mrs. Ames must have misunderstood
Alice Cary.” I never misunderstood Alice Cary. She never uttered a word to me that I did not perfectly understand. I have never recorded word of her that I did not know to be true, nor with any purpose but to do absolute justice to my dearest friend. This is a full and final reply to any query or doubt which this Memorial may suggest or call forth. All who read have a perfect right to criticise and to question ; but I shall not feel any obligation to make further reply. Life is too short and too precious to spend it in privately answering persons who “ wish to be assured that the Cary sisters were not Universalists,” or who cultivate original theories concerning their character or life.
The poems following the Memorial have, with but three or four exceptions, never before been gathered within the covers of a book. The exceptions are Alice's “The Sure Witness,” “One Dust,” and “My Creed,” all published before in the volume of her poems brought out by Hurd and Houghton, in 1865, and reproduced here as special illustrations of her character, faith, and death.
In parting with a portion of the treasures and “pictures of memory,” it has been difficult sometimes to decide which to give and which to retain. Many, too precious for any printed page, were nevertheless such a part of the true souls from whom they emanated, that to withhold them seemed like defrauding the living for the sake of the dead. Thus some inci.
dents are given solely because they are necessary to the perfect portrayal of the nature which they concern. No fact has been told which has not this significance. No line has been written for the sake of writing it. But as I cease, I feel more keenly even than when I began, how inadequate is any one hand, however conscientious, to trace two lives so delicately and variously tinted, to portray two souls so finely veined with a. many-shaded deep humanitv.
M. C. A. October, 1872.