Good Sense and Modesty with Virtue Crown’d

in by Warren

Date: May 3, 1773
“Died On Tuesday last [i.e. April 27, 1773]. Mrs. Elizabeth Warren, the amiable and virtuous Consort of Dr. Joseph Warren, in the 26th Year of her Age. – Her Remains were decently interr’d last Friday Afternoon.
If fading Lillies, when they droop and die
Rob’d of each Charm that pleas’d the gazing Eye,
With sad Regret the grieving Mind inspire,
What then when Virtue’s brightest Lamps expire?
Aetherial Spirits see the S[y]stem’s right,
But mortal Minds demand a clearer Sight.
In Spight of Reason’s philosophic Art,
A Tear must fall to indicate the Heart.
Could Reason’s Force disarm the Tyrant Foe,
Or calm the Mind that feels the fatal Blow,
No clouded Thought had discompos’d the Mind
Of him whom Heav’n ordain’d her dearest Friend.
Good Sense and Modesty with Virtue crown’d,
A sober Mind when Fortune smil’d or frown’d.
So keen a Feeling for a Friend distress’d,
She could not bear to see a Worm oppress’d
These Virtues fall’n enhance the Scene of Woe,
Swell the big Drops that scarce Confinement know,
And force them down in copious Show’rs to flow.
But know thou Tyrant Death, they Force is spent,
Thine Arm is weaken’d, and they Bow unbent.
Secur’d from Insults from your grisly Train,
Or marshall’d Slaves t’ inflict Disease and Pain,
She rides triumphant on the aerial Course,
To land at Pleasure’s inexhausted Source.
Celestial Genii, line the heav’nly Way,
And guard her Passage to the Realms of Day.”
Source: Boston Gazette, Issue 943, Page 3.
Commentary: I agree with previous biographer John Cary (1961) in suggesting that this poem was probably written by Joseph Warren. Appearance in Edes and Gill’s newspaper, Warren’s most frequent publisher, is a circumstance supporting the assertion. Little is known about Elizabeth Hooton Warren’s personality, aside from the suggestion here that she was a benign and empathic soul. Elizabeth was a recently orphaned 17 year old and sole heir to her father’s merchant estate when married on September 6, 1764. Her death on April 27, 1773 was within two weeks of the demise of Paul Revere’s first spouse. Death of an infectious complication of pregnancy is a reasonable hypothesis in both cases. Elizabeth left Joseph a widower with four children between ages 7 and 1.
Neither personal anecdotes nor any of her thoughts or writings survive in primary sources or in the recollections of others. Lives of 18th century women can be frustratingly poorly documented. Not even Elizabeth’s burial place is known. Interment in the Hooton crypt in Boston’s Copp’s Hill Burial Ground is a reasonable supposition. The Warren family did not have a cemetery plot of their own until well into the 19th century.

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