An Elder Sister

An Elder Sister  (1842) 
by Lydia Sigourney

The Ladies Repository, December 1842. P. 363.

THE station of the elder sister has always appeared to me so peculiarly important, that the privileges which it involves assume almost a sacred character. The natural adjunct and ally of the mother, she comes forth among the younger children both as a monitress and example. She readily wins their confidence, from a conviction that she, even more freshly than the parent, "is touched with the feelings of their infirmities." In proportion to her interest in their affection, will be her power to improve their characters, and to allure them, by the bright example of her own more finished excellence. Her influence upon brothers is often eminently happy. Of a young man who once evinced high moral principle, with rich and refined sensibilities, unusually developed, it was said by an admiring stranger, "I will venture to affirm that he had a good sister, and that she was older than himself." It has been my lot to know more than one elder sister of surpassing excellence. I have seen them assuming the office of a teacher, and faithfully imparting to those whose understandings were but feebly enlightened, the advantages of their own more complete education. I have seen them softening and modifying the character of brothers, breathing, until it melted, upon obduracy which no authority could subdue.

I have seen one in the early bloom of youth, and amid the temptations of affluence, so aiding, cheering, and influencing a large circle of brothers and sisters, that the lisping student came to her to be helped in its lesson—and the wild one from its sports, brought the torn garment trustingly to her needle—and the delighted infant stretched its arms to hear her bird-like song—and the cheek of her mother, leaning on so sweet a substitute, forgot to fade.

I knew another, on whose bosom the head of a sick brother rested, whose nursing kindness failed not, night or day; from whom the most bitter medicine was submissively taken, and who, grasping the thin cold hand in hers, when death came, saw the last glance of the sufferer's gratitude divided between her and the mother who bare him.—Mrs. Sigourney.

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.