Obituaries in the Nineteenth Century are known for being incredibly long and affectionate. There is one obituary that is unbelievably so, so much so that the reader is left to wonder if the author was sincere, or just sarcastic.
Mr. Andrew Lessley who lived near Arcadia, Sullivan County, Tennessee, is no more. He has passed away. He has crossed the billowy wave of the mystic Jordan. He is gone, we trust, to the land of eternal bliss.
Mr. Lessley was a man who knew no guile, whoso bosom was transparent and deep, in the bottom of whose heart was rooted every tender and sympathetic virtue. He was a man who was always ready to help those who could not help themselves; to assist those who were in adversity; those whoso means were limited—the fatherless and the widow he never rejected. Where Mr. Lessley was, in whatever sphere he moved, the friendless had a friend, the Fatherless a father, and the poor man, though unable to reward his kindness, found an advocate.
It was when the rich oppressed the poor; the powerful menaced the defenseless when truth was disregarded, or the eternal principles of justice violated, that he exerted all his strength. But, he is gone. His kindness of heart is no more. Where is he? His body is concealed in the cold earth; but where is the spirit? Where the virtues that could win and the gentleness that could soothe?
Where the mildness of temper, the generous affections, the benevolent feelings— all that is great and good, an that is noble and lovely and pure in the human character; where are they? They are gone!
Thus we see that all things earthly must pass away— the great, the good, the gay and the wretched, the favorites of thousands and the forsaken of the world.
Mr. Lessley was hurried from time to eternity without any time to prepare, but we trust that he is now resting in eternal felicity. Although his mortal remains are moldering in the cold earth, his memory is embalmed in the cherished recollections of many a friend who knew and loved him and all can say. If God be just and kindness is rewarded, his pure spirit is now at rest in the regions or the blest. Oh! Thou disconsolate widow and fatherless children! What must be the plentitude of thy sorrows? Robbed in short a time both of a husband and father, I sympathize with you.
May God ever be a husband to the widow and a father to the children. May He be with them in all their adversities. May He ever guide them in the way of holiness, and at last bring them home to eternal happiness where they may constitute one undivided family in the kingdom of Christ.
-J.C.W. Nov. 14, 1871