Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/446

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Such were the parents of the inspired poet-children, Lucretia and Margaret Davidson.

Lucretia Maria was born on the 27th of September, 1808, and was distinguished almost from her birth by an extraordinary development of the imaginative and sensitive faculties. When she was four years old she went to the Plattsburg Academy, and was taught to read, and form letters in sand, after the Lancasterian method. She began to turn her infant thoughts into measured strains before she had learned to write; and devoting herself with tireless attention to her studies both at home and at school, she soon attained a wonderful amount of knowledge. It was only in her intellectual character that she was thus premature. In her innocence, simplicity, playfulness, and modesty, she was a perfect child. Her conscientiousness and dutifulness were remarkably prominent; as they were also with Margaret. Her health, always very feeble, began to decline in 1823, when she was taken from school, and accompanied her mother on a visit to some relatives in Canada. While there she finished “Amir Khan,” her longest poem, and began a prose tale, called “The Recluse of the Saranac.” It was about this time that the Hon. Moss Kent, an early friend of her mother, became acquainted with Lucretia, and so deeply interested in her genius, that he resolved, if he could persuade her parents to resign her to his care, to afford her every advantage for improvement that the country could afford. At his suggestion, in November, 1824, she was placed under the care of Mrs. Willard; in whose seminary at Troy she remained during the winter. The following spring, she was transferred to a boarding school at Albany; but while there her health gave way, and she was obliged to return home to Plattsburg. The strength of affection, and the skill of physicians, failed, however, to restore her. The hand of death alone gave her ease; and she gently fell asleep one morning in August, 1825; exactly one month before her seventeenth birthday. President Morse, of the American Society of Arts, first published her biography; and soon after, a delightful memoir from the able pen of Miss Sedgwick spread the name of Lucretia Davidson far and wide.