While I was digging through old records and documents down in Georgia, I found a lovely essay written by Sidney E. Stevens. The Stevens family was among some of the earliest settlers of Oglethorpe County, Georgia, along with my Boggs family. This essay was published in the University of Virginia’s “Corks and Curls” in 1924. It made me cry.
To The Daughter of The Old South
I plead for the old order which is passing away, for the old society which is fading, for that womanhood which created the gallantry and crowned the chivalry of the land of the South. I hate to see the Woman of the Old South go. She was my mother, my sister, my sweetheart. She had the form which the Grecian chisel traced in marble, and the character which the Roman orator framed in sentences. She had a face like an opal that had sipped red wine; lips that had been touched by the brush of a pink dipped in the blood of a rose; hands softer than velvet, smoother than satin and truer than steel. She had the princely graces of a maiden, and the royal virtues of a matron, the idol of her children, the model of her slaves. The crimson tides which flowed through her veins were full and bounding; nothing bold nor brazen; not a mere mollusk fattening upon the banks of life for the fishery of death. The ideas which possessed her mind were forceful and intelligent, never stupid, insipid, and insane. The feelings which throbbed in her heart were queenly and radiant, rich and luxuriant. Her speech was as clean as the face of the stream and her words were like jewels on a purple tray. Refinement and culture, elegance and modesty, charity and culture, sweetness and courage, piety and devotion waited at the altar where she made the offerings of the best that was in her. The tone of her life was as pure as the liquid note of the woodlark’s evening song when she charms her mate in the fragrant gloaming.
She loved poetry, music and art; dancing and laughter and songs; riding and boating; frolic and play; but pleasure unsoiled its shoe and whitened its lips when it crossed the threshold where she stood.
To her womanliness each morning emptied a golden goblet and each evening hymned a sacred lay.
I hate to see her go, this Woman of the Old South, who mothered the sons that followed Lee and Jackson, and who brought back from Appomattox an honor stainless enough ever for her lips, a fame like untracked snow on Alpine mountain tops. She laid her hand upon the pots and kettles, and sung the song of hope and cheer, while his brave hand created wealth out of poverty, and built homes out of ashes, and reconstructed society out of chaos. In the calm peaceful days, before the cannon’s broad strakes had trenched the land, she was the brightest star in the Southern sky; and in the days of battle and blood, she was the inspiration of courage, and the angel of mercy; and in the days of defeat of desolation she was the spirit of hope and the helpmate of man.