The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss eBook

The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents
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Goes to Dorset.  Christian Example.  At Work among her Flowers.  Dangerous
Illness.  Her Feeling about Dying.  Death an “Invitation” from Christ. 
“The Under-current bears Home.”  “More Love, more Love!” A Trait of
Character.  Special Mercies.  What makes a sweet Home.  Letters.


Change of Home and Life in New York.  A Book about Robbie.  Her Sympathy with young People.  “I have in me two different Natures.”  What Dr. De Witt said at the Grave of his Wife.  The Way to meet little Trials.  Faults in Prayer-meetings.  How special Theories of the Christian Life are formed.  Sudden Illness of Prof.  Smith.  Publication of Golden Hours.  How it was received.


Incidents of the Year 1874.  Starts a Bible-reading in Dorset.  Begins to take Lessons in Painting.  A Letter from her Teacher.  Publication of Urbane and His Friends.  Design of the Work.  Her Views of the Christian Life.  The Mystics.  The Indwelling Christ.  An Allegory.





A Bible-reading in New York.  Her Painting.  “Grace for Grace.”  Death of a young Friend.  The Summer at Dorset.  Bible-readings there.  Encompassed with Kindred.  Typhoid Fever in the House.  Watching and Waiting.  The Return to Town.  A Day of Family Rejoicing.  Life a “Battle-field.”


The Moody and Sankey Meetings.  Her Interest in them.  Mr. Moody.  Publication of Griselda.  Goes to the Centennial.  At Dorset again.  Her Bible-readings.  A Moody-meeting Convert.  Visit to Montreal.  Publication of The Home at Greylock.  Her Theory of a happy Home.  Marrying for Love.  Her Sympathy with young Mothers.  Letters.


The Year 1877.  Death of her Cousin, the Rev. Charles H. Payson.  Last Illness and Death of Prof.  Smith.  “Let us take our Lot in Life just as it comes.”  Adorning one’s Home.  How much Time shall be given to it?  God’s Delight in His beautiful Creations.  Death of Dr. Buck.  Visiting the sick and bereaved.  An Ill-turn.  Goes to Dorset.  The Strangeness of Life.  Kauinfels.  The Bible-reading.  Letters.


Return to Town.  Recollections of this Period.  “Ordinary” Christians and Spiritual Conflict.  A tired Sunday Evening.  “We may make an Idol of our Joy.”  Publication of Pemaquid.  Kezia Millet.





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Enters upon her last Year on Earth.  A Letter about The Home at Greylock. 
Her Motive in writing Books.  Visit to the Aquarium.  About “Worry.”  Her
Painting.  Saturday Afternoons with her.  What she was to her Friends. 
Resemblance to Madame de Broglie.  Recollections of a Visit to East
River.  A Picture of her by an old Friend.  Goes to Dorset.  Second Advent
Doctrine.  Last Letters.


Little Incidents and Details of her last Days on Earth.  Last Visit to the Woods.  Sudden Illness.  Last Bible-reading.  Last Drive to Hager Brook.  Reminiscence of a last Interview.  Closing Scenes.  Death.  The Burial.





I. Birth-place and Ancestry.  Seth Payson.  Edward Payson.  His Mother.  A Sketch of his Life and Character.  The Fervor of his Piety.  Despondent Moods and their Cause.  Bright, natural Traits.  How he prayed and preached.  Conversational Gift.  Love to Christ.  Triumphant Death.

Mrs. Prentiss was fortunate in the place of her birth.  She first saw the light at Portland, Maine.  Maine was then a district of Massachusetts, and Portland was its chief town and seaport, distinguished for beauty of situation, enterprise, intelligence, social refinement and all the best qualities of New England character.  Not a few of the early settlers had come from Cape Cod and other parts of the old Bay State, and the blood of the Pilgrim Fathers ran in their veins.  Among its leading citizens at that time were such men as Stephen Longfellow, Simon Greenleaf, Prentiss Mellen, Samuel Fessenden, Ichabod Nichols, Edward Payson, and Asa Cummings; men eminent for private and public virtue, and some of whom were destined to become still more widely known, by their own growing influence, or by the genius of their children.

But while favored in the place of her birth, Mrs. Prentiss was more highly favored still in her parentage.  For more than half a century the name of her father has been a household word among the churches not of New England only, but throughout the land and even beyond the sea.  It is among the most beloved and honored in the annals of American piety. [1] He belonged to a very old Puritan stock, and to a family noted during two centuries for the number of ministers of the Gospel who have sprung from it.  The first in the line of his ancestry in this country was Edward, who came over in the brig Hopewell, William Burdeck, Master, in 1635-6, and settled in the town of Roxbury.  He was a native of Nasing, Essex Co., England.  Among his fellow-passengers in the Hopewell was Mary Eliot, then a young girl, sister of John Eliot, the illustrious “Apostle to the Indians.”  Some years later she became his wife.  Their youngest son, Samuel, was father of the Rev. Phillips Payson,

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who was born at Dorchester, Massachusetts, 1705, and settled at Walpole, in the same State, in 1730.  He had four sons in the ministry, all, like himself, graduates of Harvard College.  The youngest of these, the Rev. Seth Payson, D.D., Mrs. Prentiss’ grandfather, was born September 30, 1758, was ordained and settled at Rindge, New Hampshire, December 4, 1782, and died there, after a pastorate of thirty-seven years, February 26, 1820.  His wife was Grata Payson, of Pomfret, Conn.  He was a man widely known in his day and of much weight in the community, not only in his own profession but in civil life, also, having several times filled the office of State senator.  When in 1819 a plan was formed to remove Williams College to a more central location, and several towns competed for the honor, Dr. Payson was associated with Chancellor Kent of New York, and Governor John Cotton Smith of Connecticut, as a committee to decide upon the rival claims.  He is described as possessing a sharp, vigorous intellect, a lively imagination, a very retentive memory, and was universally esteemed as an able and faithful minister of Christ. [2]

Edward, the eldest son of Seth and Grata Payson, was born at Rindge, July 25, 1783.  His mother was noted for her piety, her womanly discretion, and her personal and mental graces.  Edward was her first-born, and from his infancy to the last year of his life she lavished upon him her love and her prayers.  The relation between them was very beautiful.  His letters to her are models of filial devotion, and her letters to him are full of tenderness, good sense, and pious wisdom.  He inherited some of her most striking traits, and through him they passed on to his youngest daughter, who often said that she owed her passion for the use of the pen and her fondness for rhyming to her grandmother Grata. [3]

Edward Payson was in all respects a highly-gifted man.  His genius was as marked as his piety.  There is a charm about his name and the story of his life, that is not likely soon to pass away.  He belonged to a class of men who seem to be chosen of Heaven to illustrate the sublime possibilities of Christian attainment—­men of seraphic fervor of devotion, and whose one overmastering passion is to win souls for Christ and to become wholly like Him themselves.  Into this goodly fellowship he was early initiated.  There is something startling in the depth and intensity of his religious emotions, as recorded in his journal and letters.  Nor is it to be denied that they are often marred by a very morbid element.  Like David Brainerd, the missionary saint of New England, to whom in certain features of his character he bore no little resemblance, Edward Payson was of a melancholy temperament and subject, therefore, to sudden and sharp alternations of feeling.  While he had great capacity for enjoyment, his capacity for suffering was equally great.  Nor were these native traits suppressed, or always overruled, by his religious faith; on the contrary, they affected

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and modified his whole Christian life.  In its earlier stages, he was apt to lay too much stress by far upon fugitive “frames,” and to mistake mere weariness, torpor, and even diseased action of body or mind, for coldness toward his Saviour.  And almost to the end of his days he was, occasionally, visited by seasons of spiritual gloom and depression, which, no doubt, were chiefly, if not solely, the result of physical causes.  It was an error that grew readily out of the brooding introspection and self-anatomy which marked the religious habit of the times.  The close connection between physical causes and morbid or abnormal conditions of the spiritual life, was not as well understood then as it is now.  Many things were ascribed to Satanic influence which should have been ascribed rather to unstrung nerves and loss of sleep, or to a violation of the laws of health. [4] The disturbing influence of nervous and other bodily or mental disorders upon religious experience deserves a fuller discussion than it has yet received.  It is a subject which both modern science and modern thought, if guided by Christian wisdom, might help greatly to elucidate.

The morbid and melancholy element, however, was only a painful incident of his character.  It tinged his life with a vein of deep sadness and led to undue severity of self-discipline; but it did not seriously impair the strength and beauty of his Christian manhood.  It rather served to bring them into fuller relief, and even to render more striking those bright natural traits—­the sportive humor, the ready mother wit, the facetious pleasantry, the keen sense of the ridiculous, and the wondrous story-telling gift—­which made him a most delightful companion to young and old, to the wise and the unlettered alike.  It served, moreover, to impart peculiar tenderness to his pastoral intercourse, especially with members of his flock tried and tempted like as he was.  He had learned how to counsel and comfort them by the things which he also had suffered.  He may have been too exacting and harsh in dealing with himself; but in dealing with other souls nothing could exceed the gentleness, wisdom, and soothing influence of his ministrations.

As a preacher he was the impersonation of simple, earnest, and impassioned utterance.  Although not an orator in the ordinary sense of the term, he touched the hearts of his hearers with a power beyond the reach of any oratory.  Some of his printed sermons are models in their kind; that e.g. on “Sins estimated by the Light of Heaven,” and that addressed to Seamen.  His theology was a mild type of the old New England Calvinism, modified, on the one hand, by the influence of his favorite authors—­such as Thomas a Kempis, and Fenelon, the Puritan divines of the seventeenth century, John Newton and Richard Cecil—­and on the other, by his own profound experience and seraphic love.  Of his theology, his preaching and his piety alike, Christ was the living centre.  His expressions of personal love to the Saviour are surpassed by nothing in the writings of the old mystics.  Here is a passage from a letter to his mother, written while he was still a young pastor: 

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I have sometimes heard of spells and charms to excite love, and have wished for them, when a boy, that I might cause others to love me.  But how much do I now wish for some charm which should lead men to love the Saviour!...  Could I paint a true likeness of Him, methinks I should rejoice to hold it up to the view and admiration of all creation, and be hid behind it forever.  It would be heaven enough to hear Him praised and adored.  But I can not paint Him; I can not describe Him; I can not make others love Him; nay, I can not love Him a thousandth part so much as I ought myself.  O, for an angel’s tongue!  O, for the tongues of ten thousand angels, to sound His praises.

He had a remarkable familiarity with the word of God and his mind seemed surcharged with its power.  “You could not, in conversation, mention a passage of Scripture to him but you found his soul in harmony with it—­the most apt illustrations would flow from his lips, the fire of devotion would beam from his eye, and you saw at once that not only could he deliver a sermon from it, but that the ordinary time allotted to a sermon would be exhausted before he could pour out the fullness of meaning which a sentence from the word of God presented to his mind.” [5]

He was wonderfully gifted in prayer.  Here all his intellectual, imaginative, and spiritual powers were fused into one and poured themselves forth in an unbroken stream of penitential and adoring affection.  When he said, “Let us pray,” a divine influence seemed to rest upon all present.  His prayers were not mere pious mental exercises, they were devout inspirations.

No one can form an adequate conception of what Dr. Payson was from any of the productions of his pen.  Admirable as his written sermons are, his extempore prayers and the gushings of his heart in familiar talk were altogether higher and more touching than anything he wrote.  It was my custom to close my eyes when he began to pray, and it was always a letting down, a sort of rude fall, to open them again, when he had concluded, and find myself still on the earth.  His prayers always took my spirit into the immediate presence of Christ, amid the glories of the spiritual world; and to look round again on this familiar and comparatively misty earth was almost painful.  At every prayer I heard him offer, during the seven years in which he was my spiritual guide, I never ceased to feel new astonishment, at the wonderful variety and depth and richness and even novelty of feeling and expression which were poured forth.  This was a feeling with which every hearer sympathised, and it is a fact well-known, that Christians trained under his influence were generally remarkable for their devotional habits. [6]

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Dr. Payson possessed rare conversational powers and loved to wield them in the service of his Master.  When in a genial mood—­and the mild excitement of social intercourse generally put him in such a mood—­his familiar talk was equally delightful and instructive.  He was, in truth, an improvisatore.  Quick perception, an almost intuitive insight into character, an inexhaustible fund of fresh, original thought and incident, the happiest illustrations, and a memory that never faltered in recalling what he had once read or seen, easy self-control, and ardent sympathies, all conspired to give him this preeminence.  Without effort or any appearance of incongruity he could in turn be grave and gay, playful and serious.  This came of the utter sincerity and genuineness of his character.  There was nothing artificial about him; nature and grace had full play and, so to say, constantly ran into each other.  A keen observer, who knew him well, both in private and in public, testifies:  “His facetiousness indeed was ever a near neighbor to his piety, if it was not a part of it; and his most cheerful conversations, so far from putting his mind out of tune for acts of religious worship, seemed but a happy preparation for the exercise of devotional feelings.” [7] This coexistence of serious with playful elements is often found in natures of unusual depth and richness, just as tragic and comic powers sometimes co-exist in a great poet.

The same qualities that rendered him such a master of conversation, lent a potent charm to his familiar religious talks in the prayer-meeting, at the fireside, or in the social circle.  Always eager to speak for his Master, he knew how to do it with a wise skill and a tenderness of feeling that disarmed prejudice and sometimes won the most determined foe.  Even in administering reproof or rebuke there was the happiest union of tact and gentleness.  “What makes you blush so?” said a reckless fellow in the stage, to a plain country girl, who was receiving the mail-bag at a post office from the hand of the driver.  “What makes you blush so, my dear?” “Perhaps,” said Dr. Payson, who sat near him and was unobserved till now, “Perhaps it is because some one spoke rudely to her when the stage was along here the last time.”

Edward Payson was graduated at Harvard College in the class of 1803.  In the autumn of that year he took charge of an academy then recently established in Portland.  Resigning this position in 1806, he returned home and devoted himself to the study of divinity under his father’s care.  He was licensed to preach in May, 1807, and a few months later received a unanimous call to Portland, where he was ordained in December of the same year.  On the 8th of May, 1811, he was married to Ann Louisa Shipman, of New Haven, Conn.  An extract from a manly letter to Miss Shipman, written a few weeks after their engagement, will show the spirit which inspired him both as a lover and a husband: 

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When I wrote my first letter after my late visit, I felt almost angry with you and quite so with myself.  And why angry with you?  Because I began to fear you would prove a dangerous rival to my Lord and Master, and draw away my heart from His service.  My Louisa, should this be the case, I should certainly hate you.  I am Christ’s; I must be Christ’s; He has purchased me dearly, and I should hate the mother who bore me, if she proved even the innocent occasion of drawing me from Him.  I feared that you would do this.  For a little time the conflict of my feelings was dreadful beyond description.  For a few moments I wished I had never seen you.  Had you been a right hand, or a right eye, had you been the life-blood in my veins (and you are dear to me as either) I must have given you up, had I continued to feel as I did.  But blessed be God, He has shown me my weakness only to strengthen me.  I now feel very differently.  I still love you dearly as ever, but my love leads me to Christ and not from Him.

Dr. Payson received repeated invitations to important churches in Boston and New York, but declining them all, continued in the Portland pastorate until his death, which occurred October 22, 1827, in the forty-fifth year of his age.  The closing months of his life were rendered memorable by an extraordinary triumph of Christian faith and patience, as well as of the power of mind over matter.  His bodily suffering and agonies were indescribable, but, like one of the old martyrs in the midst of the flames, he seemed to forget them all in the greatness of his spiritual joy.  In a letter written shortly after his death, Mrs. Payson gives a touching account of the tender and thoughtful concern for her happiness which marked his last illness.  Knowing, for example, that she would be compelled to part with her house, he was anxious to have a smaller one purchased and occupied at once, so that his presence in it for a little while might make it seem more home-like to her and to her children after he was gone.  “To tell you (she adds) what he was the last six memorable weeks would be altogether beyond my skill.  All who beheld him called his countenance angelic.”  She then repeats some of his farewell words to her.  Begging that, she would “not dwell upon his poor, shattered frame, but follow his blessed spirit to the realms of glory,” he burst forth into an exultant song of delight, as if already he saw the King in His beauty!  The well-known letter to his sister Eliza, dated a few weeks before his departure, breathes the same spirit.  Here is an extract from it: 

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Were I to adopt the figurative language of Bunyan, I might date this letter from the land of Beulah, of which I have been for some weeks a happy inhabitant.  The celestial city is full in my view.  Its glories beam upon me, its breezes fan me, its odors are wafted to me, its sounds strike upon my ear, and its spirit is breathed into my heart.  Nothing separates me from it but the river of death, which now appears but as an insignificant rill, that may be crossed at a single step, whenever God shall give permission.  The Sun of Righteousness has been gradually drawing nearer and nearer, appearing larger and brighter as He approached, and now He fills the whole hemisphere, pouring forth a flood of glory, in which I seem to float like an insect in the beams of the sun, exulting yet almost trembling while I gaze on this excessive brightness, and wondering, with unutterable wonder, why God should deign thus to shine upon a sinful worm.  A single heart and a single tongue seem altogether inadequate to my wants; I want a whole heart for every separate emotion, and a whole tongue to express that emotion.  But why do I speak thus of myself and my feelings? why not speak only of our God and Redeemer?  It is because I know not what to say—­when I would speak of them my words are all swallowed up.

And thus, gazing already upon the Beatific Vision, he passed on into glory.  What is written concerning his Lord and Master might with almost literal truth have been inscribed over his grave:  The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up.

* * * * *


Birth and Childhood of Elizabeth Payson.  Early Traits.  Devotion to her Father.  His Influence upon her.  Letters to her Sister.  Removal to New York.  Reminiscences of the Payson Family.

Elizabeth Payson was born “about three o’clock”—­so her father records it—­on Tuesday afternoon, October 26, 1818.  She was the fifth of eight children, two of whom died in infancy.  All good influences seem to have encircled her natal hour.  In a letter to his mother, dated October 27, Dr Payson enumerates six special mercies, by which the happy event had been crowned.  One of them was the gratification of the mother’s “wish for a daughter rather than a son.”  Another was God’s goodness to him in sparing both the mother and the child in spite of his fear that he should lose them.  This fear, strangely enough, was occasioned by the unusual religious peace and comfort which he had been enjoying.  He had a presentiment that in this way God was forearming him for some extraordinary trial; and the loss of his wife seemed to him most likely to be that trial.  “God has been so gracious to me in spiritual things, that I thought He was preparing me for Louisa’s death.  Indeed it may be so still, and if so His will be done.  Let Him take all—­and if He leaves us Himself we still have all and abound.”  The next day he writes: 

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Still God is kind to us.  Louisa and the babe continue as well as we could desire.  Truly, my cup runs over with blessings.  I can still scarcely help thinking that God is preparing me for some severe trial; but if He will grant me His presence as He does now, no trial can seem severe.  Oh, could I now drop the body, I would stand and cry to all eternity without being weary:  God is holy, God is just, God is good; God is wise and faithful and true.  Either of His perfections alone is sufficient to furnish matter for an eternal, unwearied song.  Could I sing upon paper I should break forth into singing, for day and night I can do nothing but sing “Let the saints be joyful,” etc., etc.  But I must close.  I can not send so much love and thankfulness to my parents as they deserve.  My present happiness, all my happiness I ascribe under God to them and their prayers.

Surely, a home inspired and ruled by such a spirit was a sweet home to be born into!

The notices of Elizabeth’s childhood depict her as a dark-eyed, delicate little creature, of sylph-like form, reserved and shy in the presence of strangers, of a sweet disposition, and very intense in her sympathies.  “Until I was three years old mother says I was a little angel,” she once wrote to a friend.  Her constitution was feeble, and she inherited from her father his high-strung nervous temperament.  “I never knew what it was to feel well,” she wrote in 1840.  Severe pain in the side, fainting turns, the sick headache, and other ailments troubled her, more or less, from infancy.  She had an eye wide open to the world about her, and quick to catch its varying aspects of light and beauty, whether on land or sea.  The ships and wharves not far from her father’s house, the observatory and fort on the hill overlooking Casco Bay, the White Mountains far away in the distance, Deering’s oaks, the rope-walk, and the ancient burying-ground—­these and other familiar objects of “the dear old town,” commemorated by Longfellow in his poem entitled “My Lost Youth,” were indelibly fixed in her memory and followed her wherever she went, to the end of her days.  In her movements she was light-footed, venturesome to rashness, and at times wild with fun and frolic.  Her whole being was so impressionable that things pleasant and things painful stamped themselves upon it as with the point of a diamond.  Whatever she did, whatever she felt, she felt and did as for her life.  Allusion has been made to the intensity of her sympathies.  The sight or tale of suffering would set her in a tremor of excitement; and in her eagerness to give relief she seemed ready for any sacrifice, however great.  This trait arrested the observant eye of her father, and he expressed to Mrs. Payson his fear lest it might some day prove a real misfortune to the child.  “She will be in danger of marrying a blind man, or a helpless cripple, out of pure sympathy,” he once said.

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But by far the strongest of all the impressions of her childhood related to her father.  His presence was to her the happiest spot on earth, and any special expression of his affection would throw her into an ecstasy of delight.  When he was away she pined for his return.  “The children all send a great deal of love, and Elizabeth says, Do tell Papa to come home,” wrote her mother to him, when she was six years old.  Her recollections of her father were singularly vivid.  She could describe minutely his domestic habits, how he looked and talked as he sat by the fireside or at the table, his delight in and skillful use of carpenters’ tools, his ingenious devices for amusing her and diverting his own weariness as he lay sick in bed, e.g., tearing up sheets of white paper into tiny bits, and then letting her pour them out of the window to “make believe it snowed,” or counting all the bristles in a clothes-brush, and then as she came in from school, holding it up and bidding her guess their number—­his coolness and efficiency in the wild excitements of a conflagration, the calm deliberation with which he walked past the horror-stricken lookers on and cut the rope by which a suicide was suspended; these and other incidents she would recall a third of a century after his death, as if she had just heard of or just witnessed them.  To her child’s imagination his memory seemed to be invested with the triple halo of father, hero, and saint.  A little picture of him was always near her.  She never mentioned his name without tender affection and reverence.  Nor is this at all strange.  She was almost nine years old when he died; and his influence, during these years, penetrated to her inmost being.  She once said that of her father’s virtues one only—­punctuality—­had descended to her.  But here she was surely wrong.  Not only did she owe to him some of the most striking peculiarities of her physical and mental constitution, but her piety itself, if not inherited, was largely inspired and shaped by his.  In the whole tone and expression of her earlier religious life, at least, one sees him clearly reflected.  His devotional habits, in particular, left upon her an indelible impression.  Once, when four or five years old, rushing by mistake into his room, she found him prostrate upon his face—­completely lost in prayer.  A short time before her death, speaking of this scene to a friend, she remarked that the remembrance of it had influenced her ever since.  What somebody said of Sara Coleridge might indeed have been said with no less truth of Elizabeth Payson:  “Her father had looked down into her eyes and left in them the light of his own.”

The only records of her childhood from her own pen consist of the following letters, written to her sister, while the latter was passing a year in Boston.  She was then nine years old.

PORTLAND, May 18, 1828.

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My dear sister:—­I thank you for writing to such a little girl as I am, when you have so little time.  I was going to study a little catechism which Miss Martin has got, but she said I could not learn it.  I want to learn it.  I do not like to stay so long at school.  We have to write composition by dictation, as Miss Martin calls it.  She reads to us out of a book a sentence at a time.  We write it and then we write it again on our slates, because we do not always get the whole; then we write it on a piece of paper.  Miss Martin says I may say my Sunday-school [lesson] there.  Mr. Mitchell has had a great many new books.  I have been sick.  Doctor Cummings has been here and says E. is better and he thinks he will not have a fever....  G. goes to school to Miss Libby, and H. goes to Master Jackson.  H. sends his love.  Good-bye.

Your affectionate sister, E. PAYSON,

September 29, 1828.

My dear sister:—­I think you were very kind to write to me, when you have so little time.  I began to go to Mrs. Petrie’s school a week ago yesterday.  I stay at home Mondays in the morning to assist in taking care of Charles or such little things as I can do.  G. goes with me.  When mother put Charles and him to bed, as soon as she had done praying with them, G. said, Mother, will this world be all burnt up when we are dead?  She said, Yes, my dear, it will.  What, and all the dishes too? will they melt like lead? and will the ground be burnt up too?  O what a nasty fire it will make.  I saw the Northern lights last night.  I sleep in a very large pleasant room in the bed with mother....  I have a very pleasant room for my baby-house over the porch which has two windows and a fireplace in it, and a little cupboard too.  E. Wood and I are as intimate as ever.  I suppose you know that Mr. Wood is building him a brick house.  Mrs. Merril’s little baby is dead.  It was buried yesterday afternoon.  Mr. Mussey lives across the street from us.  He has a great many elm trees in his front yard.  His house is three stories high and the trees reach to the top.  We have heard two or three times from E. since he went away.  Yesterday all the Sabbath-schools walked in a procession and then went to our meeting-house and Mr. William Cutter addressed them.

I am your affectionate sister, E. Payson.

Her feeble constitution exposed her to severe attacks of disease, and in May, 1830, she was brought to the verge of the grave by a violent fever.  Her mother was deeply moved by this event, and while recording in her journal God’s goodness in sparing Elizabeth, wonders whether it is to the end that she may one day devote herself to her Saviour and do something for the “honor of religion.”  In the latter part of 1830 Mrs. Payson removed to New York, where her eldest daughter opened a school for girls.  It was during this residence in New York that Elizabeth, at the age of twelve years, made a public confession of Christ and came to the Lord’s table for the first time.  She was received into the Bleecker street—­now the Fourth avenue—­Presbyterian church, then under the pastoral care of the Rev. Erskine Mason, D.D., May 1, 1831.  Toward the close of the same year the family returned to Portland.

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In a letter addressed to her husband, one of Mrs. Prentiss’ oldest friends now living, Miss Julia D. Willis, has furnished the following reminiscences of her early years.  While they confirm what has been said about her childhood, they are especially valuable for the glimpses they give of her father and mother and sister.  The Willis and Payson families were very intimate and warmly attached to each other.  Mr. Nathaniel Willis, the father of N. P. Willis the poet, was well known in connection with “The Boston Recorder,” of which he was for many years the conductor and proprietor.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Willis cherished the most affectionate veneration for the memory of Dr. Payson.  So long as she lived their house was a home to Mrs. Payson and her daughters, whenever they visited Boston.

As a preacher Dr. Payson could not fail to make a strong impression even on a child.  Years ago in New York I once told Mrs. Prentiss, who was too young, at her father’s death, to remember him well in the pulpit, that the only public speaker who ever reminded me of him, was Edwin Booth in Hamlet.  I surprised, and, I am afraid, a little shocked her, but it was quite true.  The slender figure, the dark, brilliant eyes, the deep earnestness of tone, the rapid utterance combined with perfect distinctness of enunciation, in spite of surroundings the best calculated to repel such an association, recalled him vividly to my memory.

My father’s connection with the religious press after his removal from Portland to Boston, brought many clergymen to our house, who often, in the kindness of their hearts, requited hospitality by religious conversation with the children, not church members, and presumably, therefore, impenitent.  I did not always appreciate this kindness as it deserved, and often exercised considerable ingenuity to avoid being alone with them.  In Dr. Payson’s case, I soon learned, on the contrary, to seek such occasions.  I was sure that before long he would look up from his book, or his manuscript, and have something pleasant or playful to say to me.  His general conversation, however, was oftener on religious than on any other subjects, but it was so evidently from the fullness of his heart, and his vivid imagination afforded him such a wealth of illustration, that it was delightful even to an “impenitent” child.  Years afterward when I read in his Memoir of his desponding temperament, of his seasons of gloom, of the sense of sin under which he was bowed down, it seemed impossible to me that it could be my Dr. Payson.

I visited Portland and was an inmate of his family, at the commencement of the illness that finally proved fatal.  He was not confined to his bed, or to his room, but he was forbidden, indeed unable, to preach, unable to write or study; he could only read and think.  Still he did not shut himself up in his study with his sad thoughts.  I remember him as usually seated with his book by the side of the fire, surrounded by his family, as if he would enjoy their society as long as possible, and the children’s play was never hushed on his account.  Nor did he forget the young visitor.  When the elder daughter, to whom my visit was made, was at school, he would care for my entertainment by telling a story, or propounding a riddle, or providing an entertaining book to beguile the time till Louisa’s return.

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Among the group in that cheerful room, I remember Lizzy well, a beautiful child, slender, dark-eyed, light-footed, very quiet, evidently observant, but saying little, affectionate, yet not demonstrative.

One evening during my visit, Mrs. Payson not being quite well, the elders had retired early, leaving Louisa and myself by the side of the fire, she preparing her school lesson and I occupied in reading.  The lesson finished, Louisa proposed retiring, but I was too much interested in my book to leave it and promised to follow soon.  She left me rather reluctantly, and I read on, too much absorbed in my book to notice the time, till near midnight, when I was startled by hearing Dr. Payson’s step upon the stairs.  I expected the reproof which I certainly deserved, but though evidently surprised at seeing me, he merely said, “You here? you must be cold.  Why did you let the fire go out?” Bringing in some wood he soon rekindled it, and began to talk to me of the book I was reading, which was one of Walter Scott’s poems.  He then spoke of a poem which he had been reading that day, Southey’s “Curse of Kehama.”  He related to me with perfect clearness the long and rather involved story, with that wonderful memory of his, never once forgetting or confusing the strange Oriental names, and repeating word for word the curse: 

  I charm thy life, from the weapons of strife,
  From stone and from wood, from fire and from flood,
  From the serpent’s tooth, and the beasts of blood,
  From sickness I charm thee, and time shall not harm thee, etc., etc.

I listened, intent, fascinated, forgot to ask why he was there instead of in his bed, forgot that it was midnight instead of mid-day.  It was not till on bidding me good night he added, “I hope you will have a better night than I shall,” that it occurred to me that he must be suffering.  The next day I learned from his wife that when unable to sleep on account of his racking cough, he often left his bed at night, the cough being more endurable when in a sitting posture.  I never saw Dr. Payson after that visit, nor for several years any of the family, except Louisa, who spent a year with us while attending school in Boston to fit herself as a teacher to aid in the support of her younger brothers and sister.  When I was next with them, Louisa was already at the head of a school in which her young sister was the brightest pupil, and to the profits of which she laid no personal claim, all going untouched into the family purse.  Several young girls, Louisa’s pupils, had been received as boarders in the family, and occasionally a clergyman was added to the number.  It was during this visit that I first learned to appreciate Mrs. Payson.  Now that she stood alone at the head of the household, either her fine qualities were in bolder relief, or I being older, was better able to estimate them.  The singular vivacity of her intellect made her a delightful companion.  Then her youth

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had been passed in the literary circles of New Haven and Andover, and she had much to tell of distinguished people known to me only by reputation.  I admired her firm yet gentle rule, so skilfully adapted to the varying natures under her charge; her conscientious study of that homely virtue economy, so distasteful to one of her naturally lavish temper, always ready to give to those in need to an extent which called forth constant remonstrances from more prudent friends; her alacrity also in all household labors, which the more excited my wonder, knowing the little opportunity she could have had to practise them amid the wealth of her father’s house before the Embargo, which later wrecked his fortune with those of so many other New England merchants.  She was, indeed, of a most noble nature, hating all meanness and injustice, and full of helpful kindness and sympathy.  No woman ever had warmer or more devoted friends.

Both at this time and in subsequent visits, as she advanced from childhood to girlhood, I remember Lizzy well; although my attention was chiefly absorbed by the elder sister of my own age, my principal companion when present, and correspondent when absent.  The two sisters were strongly contrasted.  Louisa, as a child, was afflicted with a sensitive, almost morbid shyness and reserve, and an incapacity for enjoying the society of other children whose tastes were uncongenial with her own.  The shyness passed with her childhood, but the sensitiveness and exclusiveness never quite left her.  Her love of books was a passion, and she would resent an unfair criticism of a favorite author as warmly as if it were an attack on a personal friend.  To Lizzy, on the contrary, a friend was a book which she loved to read.  Human nature was her favorite study.  There seemed to be no one in whom she could not find something to interest her, none with whom there was not some point of sympathy.  Combined with this wide and genial sympathy was another quality which helped to endear her to her companions, viz., an entire absence of all attempt to show her best side, or put the best face on anything that concerned her.  An ingenuous frankness about herself and her affairs—­even about her little weaknesses—­was one of her most striking traits.  No one, indeed, could know her without learning to love her dearly.  Yet if I should say that in my visits to Portland, Lizzy always appeared to me pre-eminently the life and charm of the household, it would not be exactly true, though she would have been so of almost any other household.  The Payson family was a delightful one to visit, all were so bright, and in the contest of wits that took place often between Lizzy and her merry brothers, it was sometimes hard to tell which bore off the palm.

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I do not know that I ever thought of her at that time as an author.  If anybody had predicted to me that one of that group would be the writer of books, which would not only have a wide circulation at home, but be translated into foreign languages, I should certainly have selected Louisa, and I think most persons who knew them would have done the same.  The elder sister’s passion for books, her great powers of acquisition, the range of her attainments—­embracing not only modern languages and their literature, but Latin, Greek and Hebrew—­her ability to maintain discussions on German metaphysics and theology with learned Professors, all seemed to point her out as the one likely to achieve distinction in the literary world.

I do not remember whether it was Lizzy’s early contributions to “The Youth’s Companion,” showing already the germ of the creative power in her, or her letters to her sister, which first suggested to me that the pleasure her friends found in her conversation might yet be enjoyed by those who would never see her.  Louisa had given up her school for the more congenial employment of contributing to magazines and reviews and of writing children’s books.  And as the greater literary resources of Boston drew her thither, she was often for months a welcome guest at our house, where she first met Professor Hopkins of Williamstown, and whom she afterward married.  The letters which Lizzy wrote to her at those times were never allowed to be the monopoly of one person; we all claimed a right to read them.  The ease with which in these she seemed to talk with her pen, the mingled pathos and humor with which she would relate all the little joys and sorrows of daily life, leaving her readers between a smile and a tear, showed the same characteristics which afterward made her published writings so much more generally attractive than the graver ones of her elder sister.  But Louisa’s failing health soon after her marriage, and the long years of suffering which followed, prevented her ever doing justice to the expectations her friends had formed for her.

The occasion of my next visit to Portland was a letter from Mrs. Payson to my mother, who was her constant correspondent, in which she spoke sadly of an indisposition she feared was the precursor of serious illness, but which chiefly troubled her on account of Lizzy’s distress that her school prevented her being constantly with her mother.  An offer on my part to come and take her place, in her hours of necessary absence, was at once accepted.  Mrs. Payson’s illness proved less serious than had been feared, and once more I passed several pleasant weeks in that house; but the pleasantest hours of the day were those in which Lizzy, returning from school, sat down at her mother’s bedside and amused her with her talk about her pupils, their various characters and the progress they had made in their studies, or related little incidents of the school-room—­with her usual frankness not omitting those which revealed

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some fault, or what she considered such, on her part, especially her impulsiveness that led her often to say things she afterward regretted.  As an example, one of her pupils was reading French to her and coming to the expression Mon Dieu! so common in French narratives, had pronounced it so badly that Lizzy exclaimed, “Mon Doo?  He would not know himself what you meant!” The laugh which it was impossible to repress, did not diminish her compunction at what she feared her pupils would regard as irreverence on her part.  I believe I always cherished sufficient affection for my teachers, and yet I was not a little astonished on accompanying Lizzy to school one day, to see as we turned the corner of a street a rush of girls with unbonneted heads, to greet their young teacher for whom they had been watching, and escort her to her throne in the school-room, and evidently in their hearts.  For a year or two after this visit I have no recollection of her, or indeed of any of the Payson family.  Death, meanwhile, had been busy in my own home, and my memory is a blank for anything beyond that sad circle.

Since that date you have known her better than I. I wish that these recollections of a time when I knew her better than you, were not so meagre.  If we were not thousands of miles apart, and I could talk with you, instead of writing to you, perhaps they would not appear quite so unsatisfying.  Yet, trivial as they are, I send them, in the persuasion that any trifle that concerned her or hers is of interest to you.

GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 1, 1879.

* * * * *


Recollections of Elizabeth’s Girlhood by an early Friend and Schoolmate.  Her own Picture of Herself before her Father’s Death.  Favorite Resorts.  Why God permits so much Suffering.  Literary Tastes.  Letters.  “What are Little Babies For?” Opens a School.  Religious Interest.

It is to be regretted that the letters referred to by Miss Willis, and indeed nearly all of Elizabeth’s family letters, written before she left her mother’s roof, have disappeared.  But the following recollections by Mrs. M. C. H. Clark, of Portland, will in part supply their place and serve to fill up the outline, already given, of the first twenty years of her life.

In the volume of sketches entitled, “Only a Dandelion,” you will find, in the story of Anna and Emily, some very pleasing incidents relating to the early life of dear Elizabeth.  Anna was Lizzy Wood, her earliest playmate and friend.  Miss Wood was a sweet girl, the only sister of Dr. William Wood, of Portland.  She died at an early age.  Emily was Mrs. Prentiss herself.  I remember her once telling me about the visit at “Aunt W.’s,” and believe that nearly all the details of the story are founded in fact.  It is her own picture of herself as a little girl, drawn to the life.  Several traits of the character of Emily, as given in the sketch, are on this account worthy of special note.  One is her very intense desire not only to be loved, but to be loved alone, or much more than any one else; and to be assured of it “over and over again.”  When Anna returned from her journey, she brought the same presents to Susan Morton as to Emily.  On discovering this fact Emily was greatly distressed.

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“I thought you would be so glad to get all these things!” said Anna.

“And so I am,” said Emily, “I only want you to love me better than any other little girl, because I love you better.”

“Well, and so I do,” returned Anna; “I love you ten times as well as I love Susan Morton.”

This satisfied Emily, and “for many days her restless little heart was as quiet and happy as a lamb’s.”

Another trait is brought out in the incident that occurred on her returning home from Anna’s.  She had written, or rather scratched, the word “Anna,” over one whole side of her room, while odd lines of what purported to be poetry filled the other.

But this was not all.  Her sister produced the beautiful Bible which had been given Emily by her Aunt Lucy, on her seventh birthday, and showed her father how all its blank leaves were covered with Annas.  Her father took the book with reverence, and Emily understood and felt the seriousness with which he examined her idle scrawls.  It was a look that would have risen up before her and made her stay her hand, should she ever again in her life-long have been tempted thus to misuse the word of God; just as the angel stood before Balaam in the narrow path he was struggling to push through.  But Emily never again was thus tempted; and ever after her Bible was sacredly kept free from “blot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”

Her father now took her with him to his study, and gave her a great many pieces of paper, some large and some small, on which he told her with a smile, she could write Anna’s name to her heart’s content.  Emily felt very grateful; this little kindness on her father’s part did her more good than a month’s lecture could have done, and made her resolve never to do anything that could possibly grieve him again.  She went away to her own little baby-house and wrote on one of the bits of paper, some verses, in which she said she had the best father in the world.  When they were done, she read them over once or twice, and admired them exceedingly; after which, with a very mysterious air, she went and threw them into the kitchen fire.

This incident, so prettily related, illustrates the intensity of her friendships, shows that she had begun to write verses when a mere child, and gives a very pleasant glimpse of her father and of her devotion to him.

My intimate acquaintance with her commenced in 1832, when we were members of Miss Tyler’s Sabbath-school class.  Miss Tyler was a daughter of Rev. Dr. Bennett Tyler, her father’s successor.  She was greatly pleased when I told her I was going to attend her sister’s school, which was opened in the spring of 1833, on the corner of Middle and Lime streets.  My seat was next to hers and we were placed in the same classes.  Our homes were near each other on Franklin street, and we always walked back and forth together.  She was at this time a prolific writer of notes.  Sometimes she would meet me on Monday morning with not less than

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four, written since we had parted on Saturday afternoon.  She used to complain now and then, that I wrote her only one to four or five of hers to me.  In the pleasant summer afternoons we loved to take long walks together.  One was down by the shore behind the eastern promenade.  Here we would find a sheltered nook, and with our backs to the world and our faces toward the islands and the ocean, would sit in “rapt enjoyment” of the scene, speaking scarcely a word, until one or the other exclaimed with a long-drawn sigh:  “Well, it is time for us to go home.”

Another of our places of resort was the old cemetery on Congress street, which in those days was very retired.  Our favorite spot here was the summit of a tomb, which stood on the highest point in the grounds.  It was the old style of tomb—­a broad marble slab, supported by six small stone pillars on a stone foundation, and surrounded by two steps raised above the soil.  It was a very quiet retreat.  We could hear the distant hum of the city and at the same time enjoy a view of the water and shipping, as the land sloped down toward the harbor.  I remember well that one dark spring day, as we sat there cuddled up under the broad slab, Lizzy gave me an account of a book she had just been reading.  It was the Memoir of Miss Susanna Anthony, by old Dr. Hopkins, of Newport.  She told me what a good and holy woman Miss Anthony was, how much she suffered and how beautifully she bore her sufferings.  My sympathy was strongly excited and I exclaimed, “I do not see how it is right for God, who can control all things, to permit such suffering!” Lizzy replied very sweetly, “Well, Carrie, we can’t understand it, but I have been thinking that this might be God’s way of preparing His children for very high degrees of service on earth, or happiness in heaven.”  I was deeply impressed with this remark; somehow it seemed to stand by me, and I think it was a corner-stone of her faith.

This summer—­that of 1833—­her mother fitted up for her exclusive use a small room called the “Blue Room,” where she had all her books and treasures—­among them a writing desk which had been her father’s.  Here all her leisure hours were spent.  It was my privilege to be admitted to this sanctuary, and many pleasant hours we passed together there.  I think Elizabeth was always religious.  She knew a great deal then about the Bible and often talked with me of divine things.  She seemed to feel a deep interest in my spiritual welfare.  She loved to share with me her favorite books.  To her I was indebted for my acquaintance with George Herbert, and with Wordsworth.  She induced me to read “Owen on the 133d Psalm,” and Flavel’s “Fountain of Life.”  In 1834 we both began to attend the Free street Seminary, of which the Rev. Solomon Adams was then Principal.  Her sister had become assistant teacher with him.  Our desks adjoined each other and we were together a great deal.  She was an admirable scholar, very studious, prompt

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and ready at recitation.  Her influence and example, added to her friendship and sympathy, were invaluable to me at this period.  One day, about this time, she told me of her engagement with Mr. Willis, to become a contributor to “The Youth’s Companion.”  This paper was one of the first, if not the first, of its class published in this country, and had a wide circulation among the children throughout New England.  Most of the pieces in “Only a Dandelion,” first appeared, I think, in the “Youth’s Companion,” among the rest several in verse.  They are written in a sprightly style, are full of bright fancies as well as sound feeling and excellent sense, and foretoken plainly the author of the ‘Susy’ books.

In 1835 Lizzy went to Ipswich and spent the summer in the school there.  It was then under the care of Miss Grant, and was the most noted institution of its kind in New England.  A year or two later, Mr. N. P. Willis returned from Europe, and with his English bride made a short visit at Mrs. Payson’s.  Miss Payson talked with him of Elizabeth’s taste for writing poetry and showed him some of her pieces.  He praised and encouraged her warmly, and this was, I think, one of the influences that strengthened her in the purpose to become an author.  Upon my telling her one day how much I liked a certain Sunday-school book I had just read, she smilingly asked, “What would you think if some day I should write a book as good as that?”

I saw a good deal of her home life at this time.  It was full of filial and sisterly love and devotion.  Amidst the household cares by which her mother was often weighed down and worried, she was an ever-near friend and sympathizer.  To her brothers, too, she endeared herself exceedingly by her helpful, cheery ways and the strong vein of fun and mirthfulness which ran through her daily life.

In the spring of 1837 Mrs. Payson sold her house on Franklin street and rented one in the upper part of the city.  Lizzy used to call it “the pumpkin house,” because it was old and ugly; but its situation and the opportunity to indulge her rural tastes made amends for all its defects.  In a letter to her friend Miss E. T. of Brooklyn, N. Y., dated May 21, 1837, she thus refers to it: 

Since your last letter arrived we have left our pleasant home for an old yellow one above John Neal’s.  Now don’t imagine it to be a delicate straw-color, neither the smiling hue of the early dandelion.  No, it once shone forth in all the glories of a deep pumpkin; but time’s “effacing fingers” have sadly marred its beauty.  Mr. Neal’s Aunt Ruth, a quiet old Quakeress, occupies a part of it and we Paysons bestow ourselves in the remainder.  This comes to you from its great garret.  Here I sit every night till after dark as merry as a grig.  “The mind is its own place.”  With all the inconveniences of the house I would not exchange it at present for any other in the city.  The situation is perfectly delightful.  Casco Bay

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and part of Deering’s Oaks lie in full view. [8] The Oaks are within a few minutes’ walk.  Back-Cove is seen beyond, and rising far above the blue White Mountains.  The Arsenal stares us in the face, if we look out the end windows and the Westbrook meeting-house is nearer than Mr. Vail’s by a quarter of a mile.  I never believed there was anything half so fine in this region.  I think nothing of walking anywhere now.  One day, after various domestic duties, I worked in my tiny garden four hours, and in the afternoon a party of girls came up for me to go with them to Bramhall’s hill.  We walked from three till half past six, came back and ate a hasty, with some of us a furious supper, and then all paraded down to second parish to singing-school.  I expect to live out in the air most of the summer.  I mean to have as pleasant a one as possible, because we shall never live so near the Oaks and other pretty places another summer.  If you were not so timid I should wish you were here to run about with me, but who ever heard of E. T. running?  Now, Ellen, I never was meant to be dignified and sometimes—­yea, often—­I run, skip, hop, and once I did climb over a fence!  Very unladylike, I know, but I am not a lady.

In the fall of 1837 Mrs. Payson moved again.  The incident deserves mention, as it brought Lizzy into daily intercourse with the Rev. Mr. French and his wife.  Mr. French was rector of the Episcopal church in Portland, and afterward Professor and Chaplain at West Point.  He was a man of fine literary culture and Mrs. French was a very attractive woman.  In a letter dated “Night before Thanksgiving,” and addressed to the early friend already mentioned, Lizzy refers to this removal and also gives a glimpse of her active home life: 

I have been busy all day and am so tired I can scarcely hold a pen.  Amidst the beating of eggs, the pounding of spices, the furious rolling of pastry of all degrees of shortness, the filling of pies with pumpkins, mince-meat, apples, and the like, the stoning of raisins and washing of currants, the beating and baking of cake, and all the other ings, (in all of which I have had my share) thoughts of your ladyship have somehow squeezed themselves in.  We have really bidden adieu to “Pumpkin Place,” as Mrs. Willis calls it, and established ourselves in a house formerly occupied by old Parson Smith—­and very snug and comfortable we are, I assure you.

In the midst of our “moving,” after I had packed and stowed and lifted, and been elbowed by all the sharp corners in the house, and had my hands all torn and scratched, I spied the new “Knickerbocker” ’mid a heap of rubbish and was tempted to peep into it.  Lo and behold, the first thing that met my eye was the Lament of the Last Peach. [9] I didn’t care to read more and forthwith returned to fitting of carpets and arranging tables and chairs and bureaus—­but all the while meditating how I should be revenged upon you.  As to ——­’s

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request I am sorry to answer nay; for I feel it would be the greatest presumption in me to think of writing for a magazine like that.  I do not wish to publish anything, anywhere, though it would be quite as wise as to entrust my scraps to your care.  My mother often urges me to send little things which she happens to fancy, to this and that periodical.  Without her interference nothing of mine would ever have found its way into print.  But mammas look with rose-colored spectacles on the actions and performances of their offspring.  Have you laughed over the Pickwick Papers?  We have almost laughed ourselves to death over them.  I have not seen Lizzy D. for a long time, but hear she is getting along rapidly.  If I could go to school two years more, I should be glad, but of course that is out of the question....  It is easier for you to write often than it is for me.  You have not three tearing, growing brothers to mend and make for.  I am become quite expert in the arts of patching and darning.  I am going to get some pies and cake and raisins and other goodies to send to our girl’s sick brother.  If I had not so dear and happy a home, I should envy you yours.  You say you do not remember whether I love music or not.  I love it extravagantly sometimes—­but have not the knowledge to enjoy scientific performances.  The simple melody of a single voice is my delight.  Mrs. French, the Episcopal minister’s wife, who is a great friend of ours and lives next door (so near that she and sister talk together out of their windows), has a baby two days old with black curly hair and black eyes, and I shall have a nice time with it this winter.  Do you love babies?

The question with which this letter closes, suggests one of Lizzy’s most striking and loveliest traits.  She had a perfect passion for babies, and reveled in tending, kissing, and playing with them.  Here are some pretty lines in one of her girlish contributions to “The Youth’s Companion,” which express her feeling about them: 

  What are little babies for? 
    Say! say! say! 
  Are they good-for-nothing things? 
    Nay! nay! nay!

  Can they speak a single word? 
    Say! say! say! 
  Can they help their mothers sew? 
    Nay! nay! nay!

  Can they walk upon their feet? 
    Say! say! say! 
  Can they even hold themselves? 
    Nay! nay! nay!

  What are little babies for? 
    Say! say! say! 
  Are they made for us to love?
    Yea!  YEA!!  YEA!!!

In the fall of 1838 Mrs. Payson purchased a house in Cumberland street, which continued to be her residence until the family was broken up.  You remember the charming little room Lizzy had fitted up over the hall in this house, how nicely she kept it, and how happy she was in it.  One of the windows looked out on a little flower garden and at the close of the long summer days the sunset could be enjoyed from the west window.  She had had some fine books given her, which, added to the previous store, made a somewhat rare collection for a young girl in those days.

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About this time, having been relieved of her part of domestic service by the coming into the family of a young relative—­whose devotion to her was unbounded—­she opened in the house a school for little girls.  It consisted at first of perhaps eight or ten, but their number increased until the house could scarcely hold them.  She was a born teacher and her young pupils fairly idolized her. [10] In this year, too, she took a class in the Sabbath-school composed of nearly the same group who surrounded her on the week-days, and they remained under her care as long as she lived in Portland.

The Rev. Mr. Vail having retired from the pastorate of the second parish in the autumn of 1837, Cyrus Hamlin, just from the Theological Seminary at Bangor, became the stated supply for some months.  His preaching attracted the young people and during the winter and spring there was much interest in all the Congregational churches.  Following the example of the other pastors, Mr. Hamlin invited persons seriously disposed to meet him for religious conversation.  Elizabeth besought me, with all possible earnestness and affection, to “go to Mr. Hamlin’s meeting.”  One day she came to see me a short time before the hour, saying that I was ever on her mind and in her prayers, that she had talked with Mr. Hamlin about me, nor would she leave me until I had promised to attend the meeting.  I did so; and from that time we were united in the strong bonds of Christian love and sympathy.  What a spiritual helper she was to me in those days!  What precious notes I was all the time receiving from her!  The memory of her tender, faithful friendship is still fresh and delightful, after the lapse of more than forty years. [11]

In the summer of 1838 the Rev. Jonathan B. Condit, D.D., was called from his chair in Amherst College and installed pastor of our church.  He was a man of very graceful and winning manners and wonderfully magnetic.  He at once became almost an object of worship with the enthusiastic young people.  The services of the Sabbath and the weekly meetings were delightful.  The young ladies had a praying circle which met every Saturday afternoon, full of life and sunshine.  Indeed, the exclusive interest of the season was religious; our reading and conversation were religious; well-nigh the sole subject of thought was learning something new of our Saviour and His blessed service.  All Lizzy’s friends and several of her own family were rejoicing in hope.  And she herself was radiant with joy.  For a little while it seemed almost as if the shadows in the Christian path had fled away, and the crosses vanished out of sight.  The winter and spring of 1840 witnessed another period of general religious interest in Portland.  Large numbers were gathered into the churches.  Lizzy was greatly impressed by the work, her own Christian life was deepened and widened, she was blessed in guiding several members of her beloved Sunday-school class to the Saviour, and was thus prepared, also, for the sharp trial awaiting her in the autumn of the same year, when she left her home and mother for a long absence in Richmond.

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From her earliest years she was in the habit of keeping a journal, and she must have filled several volumes.  I wonder that she did not preserve them as mementos of her childhood and youth.  Perhaps because her afterlife was so happy that she never needed to refer to such reminiscences of days gone by.

I have thus given you, in a very informal manner, some recollections of her earlier years.  I have been astonished to find how vividly I recalled scenes, events and conversations so long past.  I was startled and shocked when the news came of her sudden death.  But I can not feel that she was called to her rest too soon.  She seemed to me singularly happy in all the relations of life; and then as an author, hers was an exceptional case of full appreciation and success.  I have ever regarded her as “favored among women”—­blessed in doing her Master’s will and testifying for Him, blessed in her home, in her friends, and in her work, and blessed in her death.

PORTLAND, December 31, 1878.

* * * * *


The Dominant Type of Religious Life and Thought in New England in the First Half of this Century.  Literary Influences.  Letter of Cyrus Hamlin.  A Strange Coincidence.

A brief notice of the general type of religious life and thought, which prevailed at this time in New England, will throw light upon both the preceding and following pages.  Elizabeth’s early Christian character, although largely shaped by that of her father, was also, like his, vitally affected by the religious spirit and methods then dominant.  Several distinct elements entered into the piety of New England at that period, (1.) There was, first of all, the old Puritan element which the Pilgrim Fathers and their immediate successors brought with them from the mother-country, and which had been nourished by the writings of the great Puritan divines of the seventeenth century—­such as Baxter, Howe, Bunyan, Owen, Matthew Henry, and Flavel—­by the “Imitation of Christ,” and Bishop Taylor’s “Holy Living and Dying,” and by such writers as Doddridge, Watts, and Jonathan Edwards of the last century.  This lay at the foundation of the whole structure, giving it strength, solidity, earnestness, and power. (2.) But it was modified by the so-called Evangelical element, which marked large sections of the Church of England and most of the Dissenting bodies in Great Britain during the last half of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth century.  The writings of John Newton, Richard Cecil, Hannah More, Thomas Scott, Cowper, Wilberforce, Leigh Richmond, John Foster, Andrew Fuller, and Robert Hall—­not to mention others—­were widely circulated in New England and had great influence in its pulpits and its Christian homes.  Their admirable spirit infused itself into thousands of lives, and helped in many ways to improve the general tone both of theological and devotional

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sentiment. (3.) But another element still was the new Evangelistic spirit, which inaugurated and still informs those great movements of Christian benevolence, both at home and abroad, that are the glory of the age.  Dr. Payson’s ministry began just before the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, and before his death mission-work had come to be regarded as quite essential to the piety and prosperity of the Church.  The Lives of David Brainerd, Henry Martyn, Harriet Newell, and others like them, were household books. (4.) Nor should the “revival” element be omitted in enumerating the forces that then shaped the piety and religious thought of New England.  The growth of the Church and the advancement of the cause of Christ were regarded as inseparable from this influence.  A revival was the constant object of prayer and effort on the part of earnest pastors and of the more devout among the people.  Far more stress was laid upon special seasons and measures of spiritual interest and activity than now—­less upon Christian nurture as a means of grace, and upon the steady, normal development of church life.  Many of the most eminent, devoted, and useful servants of Christ, whose names, during the last half century, have adorned the annals of American faith and zeal, owed their conversion, or, if not their conversion, some of their noblest and strongest Christian impulses, to “revivals of religion.” (5.) To all these should perhaps, be added another element—­namely, that of the new spirit of reform and the new ethical tone, which, during the third and fourth decades of this century especially, wrought with such power in New England.  Of this influence and of the philanthropic idea that inspired it, Dr. Channing may be regarded as the most eminent representative.  It brought to the front the humanity and moral teaching of Christ, as at once the pattern and rule of all true progress, whether individual or social; and it was widely felt, even where it was not distinctly recognised or understood.  Whatever errors or imperfections may have belonged to it, this influence did much to soften the dogmatism of opinion, to arouse a more generous, catholic type of sentiment, to show that the piety of the New Testament is a principle of universal love to man, as well as of love to God, and to emphasise the sovereign claims of personal virtue and social justice.  These truths, to be sure, were not new; but in the great moral-reform movements and conflicts—­to a certain extent even in theological discussions—­that marked the times, they were asserted and applied with extraordinary clearness and energy of conviction; and, as the event has proved, they were harbingers of a new era of Christian thought, culture and conduct, both in private and public life.

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Such were some of the religious influences which surrounded Mrs. Prentiss during the first twenty years of her life, and which helped to form her character.  She was also strongly affected, especially while passing from girlhood into early womanhood, by the literary influences of the day.  Poetry and fiction were her delight.  She was very fond of Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Longfellow; while the successive volumes of Dickens were read by her with the utmost avidity.  Mrs. Payson’s house was a good deal visited by scholars and men of culture.  Her eldest daughter had already become somewhat widely known by her writings.  In the extent, variety and character of her attainments she was, in truth, a marvel.  Indeed, she quite overshadowed the younger sister by her learning and her highly intellectual conversation.  And yet Elizabeth also attracted no little attention from some who had been first drawn to the house by their friendship for Louisa. [12] Among her warmest admirers was Mr. John Neal, then well known as a man of letters; he predicted for her a bright career as an author.  Still, it was her personal character that most interested the visitors at her mother’s house.  This may be illustrated by an extract from a letter of Mr. Hamlin to a friend of the family in New York, written in April, 1838, while he was their temporary pastor.  Mr. Hamlin has since become known throughout the Christian world by his remarkable career as a missionary in Turkey, and as organiser of Robert College.  A few months after the letter was written he set sail for Constantinople, accompanied by his wife, whose early death was the cause of so much grief among all who knew her. [13] I should like to write a long letter about dear Elizabeth.  I have seen her more since Louisa left and I love her more.  She has a peculiar charm for me.  I think she has a quick and excellent judgment, refined sensibilities, and an instinctive perception of what is fit and proper....  It seems to me there is a great deal of purity—­of the spirituelle—­about her feelings.  But I can not tell you exactly what it is that makes me think so highly of her.  It is a nameless something resulting from her whole self, from her sweet face and mouth, her eye full of love and soul, her form and motion.  I do not think she likes me much, I have paid so much attention to Louisa and so little to herself.  Yet she is not one of those who claim attention, but rather shrinks from it.  She may have faults of which I have no knowledge.  But I am charmed with everything I have seen of her.

How strange are the chance coincidences of human life!  In another letter to the same friend in New York, in which Mr. Hamlin refers in a similar manner to Elizabeth, occur these words: 

In a few weeks I hope to be in Dorset, among the Green Mountains, where my thoughts and feelings have their centre above all places on this earth.  I wish you could be present at my wedding there on the third of September.

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How little did he dream, when penning these words, or did his friend dream while reading them, that, after the lapse of more than forty years, the “dear Elizabeth” would find her grave near by the old parsonage in which that wedding was to be celebrated, while the dust of the lovely daughter of Dorset would be sleeping on the distant shores of the Bosphorus!

[1] For many years after the publication of his Memoir, it was so often given to children at their baptism that at one time those who bore it, in and out of New England, were to be numbered by hundreds, if not thousands.  “I once saw the deaths of three little Edward Paysons in one paper,” wrote Mrs. Prentiss in 1832.

[2] He was the author of a curious work entitled, “Proofs of the real Existence, and dangerous Tendency, of Illuminism.”  Charlestown, 1802.  By “Illuminism” he means an organised attempt, or conspiracy, to undermine the foundations of Christian society and establish upon its ruins the system of atheism.

[3] “I spent part of last evening reading over some old letters of my grandmother’s and never realised before what a remarkable woman she was both as to piety and talent.”—­From a letter of Mrs. Prentiss, written in 1864.

[4] In a letter to his mother,—­written when Elizabeth was three years old, he says:  “E. has a terrible abscess, which we feared would prove too much for her slender constitution.  We were almost worn out with watching; and, just as she began to mend, I was seized with a violent ague in my face, which gave me incessant anguish for six days and nights together, and deprived me almost entirely of sleep.  Three nights I did not close my eyes.  When well nigh distracted with pain and loss of sleep, Satan was let loose upon me, to buffet me, and I verily thought would have driven me to desperation and madness.”

[5] The late President Wayland.

[6] Prof.  Calvin E. Stowe, D.D.

[7] The late Rev. Absalom Peters, D.D.


I can see the breezy dome of groves,
The shadows of Deering’s Woods;
And the friendships old and the early loves
Come back with a Sabbath sound, as of doves
In quiet neighborhoods. 
And the verse of that sweet old song,
It flutters and murmurs still: 
“A boy’s will is the wind’s will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts.” 
—­LONGFELLOW’S My Lost Youth.

[9] “The Lament of the Last Peach” had been written by her a year before when in Brooklyn, and her friend’s brother had sent it to “The Knickerbocker,” the popular Magazine of that day.  Here it is: 


In solemn silence here I live,
A lone, deserted peach;
So high that none but birds and winds
My quiet bough can reach. 
And mournfully, and hopelessly,
I think upon the past;
Upon my dear departed friends,
And I, the last—­the last.

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  My friends! oh, daily one by one
    I’ve seen them drop away;
  Unheeding all the tears and prayers
    That vainly bade them stay. 
  And here I hang alone, alone—­
    While life is fleeing fast;
  And sadly sigh that I am left
    The last, the last, the last.

  Farewell, then, thou my little world
    My home upon the tree,
  A sweet retreat, a quiet home
    Thou mayst no longer be;
  The willow trees stand weeping nigh,
    The sky is overcast,
  The autumn winds moan sadly by,
    And say, the last—­the last!

[10] “Dear Lizzy is in her little school.  Her pupils love her dearly.  She will have about thirty in the summer.”—­Letter of Mrs. Payson, March 28, 1839.

[11] Three years later Elizabeth thus referred to this period in the life of her friend:—­“During the time in which she was seeking the Saviour with all her heart, I was much with her and had an opportunity to see every variety of feeling as she daily set the whole before me.  The affection thus acquired is, I believe, never lost.  If I live forever, I shall not lose the impressions which I then received—­the deep anxiety I felt lest she should finally come short of salvation, and then the happiness of having her lost in contemplation of the character of Him whom she had so often declared it impossible to love.”

[12] Old friends of her father also became much interested in her.  Among them was Simon Greenleaf, the eminent writer on the law of evidence, and Judge Story’s successor at Harvard.  On removing to Cambridge, in 1833, he gave her with his autograph a little volume entitled, “Hours for Heaven; a small but choice selection of prayers, from eminent Divines of the Church of England,” which long continued to be one of her books of devotion.

[13] See the touching memorial of her, “Light on the Dark River,” prepared by her early friend, Mrs. Lawrence.





A Memorable Experience.  Letters to her Cousin.  Goes to Richmond as a Teacher.  Mr. Persico’s School.  Letters.

Miss Payson was now in her twenty-first year, a period which she always looked back to as a turning-point in her spiritual history.  The domestic influences that encompassed her childhood, her early associations, and the books of devotion which she read, all conspired to imbue her with an earnest sense of divine things, and while yet a young girl, as we have seen, she publicly devoted herself to the service of her God and Saviour.  For several years her piety, if marked by no special features, was still regarded by her young friends, and by all who knew her, as of a decided character.  But during the general religious interest in the winter of 1837-8, even while absorbed in solicitude for others,

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she began herself to question its reality.  “For some months I had no hope that I was a Christian, and pride made me go on just as if I felt myself perfectly safe.  Nothing could at that time have made me willing to have any eye a witness to my daily struggles.”  And yet she “often longed for the sympathy and assistance of Christian friends,” and to her unwillingness to confide in them she afterwards attributed much of the suffering that followed.  “I do not know exactly how I passed out of that season, but my school commenced in April, and I became so interested in it that I had less time to think of and to watch myself.  The next winter most of my scholars were deeply impressed by divine things, and, of course, I could not look on without having my own heart touched.  It was my privilege to spend many delightful weeks in watching the progress of minds earnestly seeking the way of life and early consecrating themselves to their Saviour.” [1] But after a while a severe reaction set in and in the course of the summer she became careless in her religious habits, shrank from the Lord’s table as a “place of absolute torture,” and while spending a fortnight in Boston in the fall, entirely omitted all exercises of private devotion.

She had now reached a crisis which was to decide her course for life.  During the winter of 1839-40, she passed through very deep and harrowing exercises of soul.  Her spiritual nature was shaken to its foundation, and she could say with the Psalmist, Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, O Lord. For several months she was in a state similar to that which the old divines depict so vividly as being “under conviction.”  Her sense of sin, and of her own unworthiness in the sight of God, grew more and more intense and oppressive.  At times she abandoned all hope, accused herself of having played the hypocrite, and fancied she was given over to hardness of heart.  At length she sought counsel of her pastor and confided to him her trouble, but he “did not know exactly what to do with me.”  In the midst of her distress, and as its effect, no doubt, she was taken ill and confined to her room, where in solitude she passed several weeks seeking rest and finding none.  “Sometimes I tried to pray, but this only increased my distress and made me cry out for annihilation to free me from the agony which seemed insupportable.”  With a single interval of comparative indifference, this state of mind continued for nearly four months.  She thus describes it: 

It was in vain that I sought the Lord in any of the lofty pathways through which my heart wished to go.  At last I found it impossible to carry on the struggle any longer alone.  I would gladly have put myself at the feet of a little child, if by so doing I could have found peace.  I felt so guilty and the character of God appeared so perfect in its purity and holiness, that I knew not which way to turn.  The sin which distressed me most of all was the rejection of the

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Saviour.  This haunted me constantly and made me fly first to one thing and then another, in the hope of finding somewhere the peace which I would not accept from Him.  It was at this time that I kept reading over the first twelve chapters of Doddridge’s “Rise and Progress,”—­the rest of the book I abhorred.  So great was my agony that I can only wonder at the goodness of Him who held my life in His hands, and would not permit me in the height of my despair to throw myself away.

It was in this height of despair that thoughts of the infinite grace and love of Christ, which she says she had hitherto repelled, began to irradiate her soul.  A sermon on His ability to save “unto the uttermost” deeply affected her. [2] “While listening to it my weary spirit rested itself, and I thought, ’surely it can not be wrong to think of the Saviour, although He is not mine.’  With this conclusion I gave myself up to admire, to love and to praise Him, to wonder why I had never done so before, and to hope that all the great congregation around me were joining with me in acknowledging Him to be chief among ten thousand and the One altogether lovely.”  On going home she could at first scarcely believe in her own identity, the feeling of peace and love to God and to all the world was so unlike the turbulent emotions that had long agitated her soul.  “From this time my mind went slowly onward, examining the way step by step, trembling and afraid, yet filled with a calm contentment which made all the dealings of God with me appear just right.  I know myself to be perfectly helpless.  I can not promise to do or to be anything; but I do want to put everything else aside, and to devote myself entirely to the service of Christ.”

Her account of this memorable experience is dated August 28, 1840.  “While writing it,” she adds, “I have often laid aside my pen, to sit and think over in silent wonder the way in which the Lord has led me.”

How in later years she regarded certain features of this experience, is not fully known.  The record passed at once out of her hands, and until after her death was never seen by anyone, excepting the friend for whose eye it was written.  Many of its details had, probably, faded entirely from her memory.  It can not be doubted, however, that she would have judged her previous state much less severely, would hardly have charged it with hypocrisy, or denied that the Saviour had been graciously leading her, and that she had some real love to Him, before as well as after this crisis.  So much may be inferred from the record itself and from the narrative in the preceding chapter.  Her tender interest in the spiritual welfare of her friends and pupils, the high tone of religious sentiment that marks her early writings, the books she delighted in, her filial devotion, the absolute sincerity of her character, all forbid any other conclusion. [3] The indications, too, are very plain that her morbidly-sensitive, melancholy temperament

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had much to do with this experience.  Her account of it shows, also, that her mind was unhappily affected by certain false notions of the Christian life and ordinances then, and still, more or less prevalent—­notions based upon a too narrow and legal conception of the Gospel.  Hence, her shrinking from the Lord’s table as a place of “torture,” instead of regarding it in its true character, as instituted on purpose to feed hungry souls, like her own, with bread from heaven.  But for all that, the experience was a blessed reality and, as these pages will attest, wrought a lasting change in her religious life.  No doubt the Spirit of God was leading her through all its dark and terrible mazes.  It virtually ended a conflict which the intensely proud elements of her nature rendered inevitable, if she was to become a true heroine of faith—­the conflict between her Master’s will and her own.  Her Master conquered, and henceforth to her dying hour His will was the sovereign law of her existence, and its sweetest joy also.

The following extracts from letters to her cousin, George E. Shipman, of New York, now widely known as the founder of a Foundling Home at Chicago, will throw additional light upon her state of mind at this period.  Mr. Shipman was the friend to whom the account of her experience already mentioned was addressed.  He had just spent several weeks in Portland, and to his Christian sympathy, kindness, and counsels while there and during the two following years, she felt herself very deeply indebted. [4]

PORTLAND, August 22, 1840.

I am always wondering if any body in the world is the better off for my being in it.  And so if I was of any comfort to you, I am very glad of it.  I do want, I confess, the privilege of offering you sometimes the wine and oil of consolation, and if I do it in such a way as to cause pain with my unskilful hand, why, you must forgive me....  Mr. ——­ talked to me as if he imagined me a blue-stocking.  Just because my sister wears spectacles, folks take it for granted that I also am literary.

Aug. 25th.—­You ask if I find it easy to engage in religious meditation, referring in particular to that on our final rest.  This is another of my trials.  I can not meditate upon anything, except indeed it be something quite the opposite of what I wish to occupy my mind.  You know that some Christians are able in their solitary walks and rides to hold, all the time, communion with God.  I can very seldom do this.  Yesterday I was obliged to take a long walk alone, and it was made very delightful in this way; so that I quite forgot that I was alone....  I am beginning to feel, that I have enough to do without looking out for a great, wide place in which to work, and to appreciate the simple lines: 

  “The trivial round, the common task,
  Would furnish all we ought to ask;
  Room to deny ourselves; a road
  To bring us daily nearer God.”

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Those words “daily nearer God” have an inexpressible charm for me.  I long for such nearness to Him that all other objects shall fade into comparative insignificance,—­so that to have a thought, a wish, a pleasure apart from Him shall be impossible.

Sept. 12th.—­At Sabbath-school this morning, while talking with my scholars about the Lord Jesus, my heart, which is often so cold and so stupid, seemed completely melted within me, with such a view of His wonderful, wonderful love for sinners, that I almost believed I had never felt it till then.  Such a blessing is worth toiling and wrestling for a whole life.  If a glimpse of our Saviour here upon earth can be so refreshing, so delightful, what will it be in heaven!

Sept. 17th.—­I have been reading to-day some passages from Nevins’ “Practical Thoughts.” [5] Perhaps you have seen them; if so, do you remember two articles headed, “I must pray more,” and “I must pray differently”?  They interested me much because in some measure they express my own feelings.  I have less and less confidence in frames, as they are called.  I am glad that you think it better to have a few books and to read them over and over, for my own inclination leads me to that.  One gets attached to them as to Christian friends.  Do not hesitate to direct me over and over again, to go with difficulties and temptations and sin to the Saviour.  I love to be led there and left there.  Sometimes when the exceeding “sinfulness of sin” becomes painfully apparent, there is nothing else for the soul to do but to lie in the dust before God, without a word of excuse, and that feeling of abasement in His sight is worth more than all the pleasures in the world....  You will believe me if I own myself tired, when I tell you that I made fourteen calls this afternoon.  But even the unpleasant business of call-making has had one comfort.  Some of the friends of whom I took leave, spoke so tenderly of Him whose name is so precious to His children that my heart warmed towards them instantly, and I thought it worth while to have parting hours, sad though they may be, if with them came so naturally thoughts of the Saviour.  Besides, I have been thinking since I came home, that if I did not love Him, it could not be so refreshing to hear unexpectedly of Him....  I did not know that mother had anything to do with your father’s conversion, and when I mentioned it to her she seemed much surprised and said she did not know it herself.  Pray tell me more of it, will you?  I have felt that if, in the course of my life, I should be the means of leading one soul to the Saviour, it would be worth staying in this world for no matter how many years.

Did you ever read Miss Taylor’s “Display”?  Sister says the character of Emily there is like mine.  I think so myself save in the best point.

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We come now to an important change in her outward life.  She had accepted an invitation to become a teacher in Mr. Persico’s school at Richmond, Virginia.  Mr. Persico was an Italian, a brother of the sculptor of that name, a number of whose works are seen at Washington.  He early became interested in our institutions, and as soon as he was able, came to this country and settled in Philadelphia as an artist.  He married a lady of that city, and afterward on account of her health went to Richmond, where he opened a boarding and day school for girls.  There were four separate departments, one of which was under the sole care of Miss Payson.  Her letters to her family, written at this time, have all been lost, but a full record of the larger portion of her Richmond life is preserved in letters to her cousin, Mr. Shipman.  The following extracts from these letters show with what zeal she devoted herself to her new calling and how absorbed her heart was still in the things of God.  They also throw light upon some marked features of her character.

BOSTON, September 23.

I had, after leaving home, an attack of that terrible pain, of which I have told you, and believed myself very near death.  It became a serious question whether, if God should so please, I could feel willing to die there alone, for I was among entire strangers.  I never enjoyed more of His presence than that night when, sick and sad and full of pain, I felt it sweet to put myself in His hands to be disposed of in His own way.

The attack referred to in this letter resembled angina pectoris, a disease to which for many years she was led to consider herself liable.  Whatever it may have been, its effect was excruciating.  “Mother was telling me the other day,” she wrote to a friend, “that in her long life she had never seen an individual suffer more severe bodily pain than she had often tried to relieve in me.  I remember scores of such hours of real agony.”  In the present instance the attack was doubtless brought on, in part at least, by mental agitation.  “No words,” she wrote a few months later, “can describe the anguish of my mind the night I left home; it seemed to me that all the agony I had ever passed through was condensed into a small space, and I certainly believe that I should die, if left to a higher degree of such pain.”

RICHMOND, September 30, 1840.

About twelve o’clock, when it was as dark as pitch, we were all ordered to prepare for a short walk.  In single file then out we went.  It seems that a bridge had been burned lately, and so we were all to go round on foot to another train of cars.  There were dozens of bright, crackling bonfires lighted at short intervals all along, and as we wound down narrow, steep and rocky pathways, then up steps which had been rudely cut out in the side of the elevated ground, and as far as we could see before us could watch the long line of moving figures in all varieties of form and color, my spirits

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rose to the very tiptop of enjoyment.  I wished you could have a picture of the whole scene, which, though one of real life, was to me at least exceedingly beautiful.  We reached Richmond at one o’clock.  Mr. Persico was waiting for us and received us cordially....  When I awoke at eight o’clock, I felt forlorn enough.  Imagine, if you can, the room in which I opened my eyes.  It is in the attic, is very low and has two windows.  My first thought was, “I never can be happy in this miserable hole;” but in a second this wicked feeling took flight, and I reproached myself for my ingratitude to Him who had preserved me through all my journey, had made much of it so delightful and profitable, and who still promised to be with me.

Oct. 2.—­I will try to give you some account of our doings, although we are not fully settled.  We have risen at six so far, but intend to be up by five if we can wake.  As soon as we are dressed I take my Bible out into the entry, where is a window and a quiet corner, and read and think until Louisa [6] is ready to give me our room and take my place.  At nine we go into school, where Miss Lord [7] reads a prayer, and from that hour until twelve we are engaged with our respective classes.  At twelve we have a recess of thirty minutes.  This over, we return again to school, where we stay until three, when we are to dine.  All day Saturday we are free.  This time we are to have Monday, too, as a special holiday, because of a great Whig convention which is turning the city upside-down.  There is one pleasant thing, pleasant to me at least, of which I want to tell you.  As Mr. Persico is not a religious man, I supposed we should have no blessing at the table, and was afraid I should get into the habit of failing to acknowledge God there.  But I was much affected when, on going to dine the first day I came, he stood leaning silently and reverentially over his chair, as if to allow all of us time for that quiet lifting up of the heart which is ever acceptable in the sight of God.  It is very impressive.  Miss Lord reads prayers at night, and when Mrs. Persico comes home we are to have singing....

That passage in the 119th Psalm, of which you speak, is indeed delightful.  I will tell you what were some of my meditations on it.  I thought to myself that if God continued His faithfulness toward me, I shall have afflictions such as I now know nothing more of than the name, for I need them constantly.  I have trembled ever since I came here at the host of new difficulties to which I am exposed.  Surely I did again and again ask God to decide the question for me as to whether I should leave home or not, and believed that He had chosen for me.  It certainly was against my own inclinations....

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Oct. 12th.—­This morning I had a new scholar, a pale, thin little girl who stammers, and when I spoke to her, and she was obliged to answer, the color spread over her face and neck as if she suffered the utmost mortification.  I was glad when recess came, to draw her close to my side and to tell her that I had a friend afflicted in the same way, and that consequently, I should know how to understand and pity her.  She held my hand fast in hers and the tears came stealing down one after another, as she leaned confidingly upon my shoulder, and I could not help crying too, with mingled feelings of gratitude and sorrow.  Certainly it will be delightful to soothe and to console this poor little thing....  You do not like poetry and I have spent the best part of my life in reading or trying to write it.  N. P. Willis told me some years ago, that if my husband had a soul, he would love me for the poetical in me, and advised me to save it for him.

Oct. 27th.—­Sometimes when I feel almost sure that the Saviour has accepted and forgiven me and that I belong to Him, I can only walk my room repeating over and over again, How wonderful!  And then when my mind strives to take in this love of Christ, it seems to struggle in vain with its own littleness and falls back weary and exhausted, to wonder again at the heights and depths which surpass its comprehension....  If there is a spark of love in my heart for anybody, it is for this dear brother of mine, and the desire to have his education thorough and complete has grown with my growth.  You, who are not a sister, can not understand the feelings with which I regard him, but they are such as to call forth unbounded love and gratitude toward those who show kindness to him.

Nov. 3d.—­I have always felt a peculiar love for the passage that describes the walk to Emmaus.  I have tried to analyse the feeling of pleasure which it invariably sheds over my heart when dwelling upon it, especially upon the words, “Jesus Himself drew near and went with them,” and these, “He made as though He would go further,” but yielded to their urgent, “Abide with us.” ...  This is one of the comforts of the Christian; God understands him fully whether he can explain his troubles or not.  Sometimes I think all of a sudden that I do not love the Saviour at all, and am ready to believe that all my pretended anxiety to serve Him has been but a matter of feeling and not of principle; but of late I have been less disturbed by this imagination, as I find it extends to earthly friends who are dear to me as my own soul.  I thought once yesterday that I didn’t love anybody in the world and was perfectly wretched in consequence.

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Nov. 12th.—­The more I try to understand myself, the more I am puzzled.  That I am a mixture of contradictions is the opinion I have long had of myself.  I call it a compound of sincerity and reserve.  Unless you see just what I mean in your own consciousness, I doubt whether I can explain it in words.  With me it is both an open and a shut heart—­open when and where and as far as I please, and shut as tight as a vise in the same way.  I was probably born with this same mixture of frankness and reserve, having inherited the one from my mother and the other from my father....  I have often thought that, humanly speaking, it would be a strange, and surely a very sad thing if we none of us inherit any of our father’s piety; for when he prayed for his children it was, undoubtedly, that we might be very peculiarly the Lord’s.  H. was to be the missionary; but if he can not go himself, and is prospered in business, I hope he will be able to help send others.  I have been frightened, of late, in thinking how little good I am doing in the world.  And yet I believe that those who love to do good always find opportunities enough, wherever they are.  Whether I shall do any here, I dare not try to guess.

Dec. 3d.—­How I thank you for the interest you take in my Bible class.  They are so attentive to every word I say that it makes me deeply feel the importance of seeking each of those words from the Holy Spirit.  Many of them had not even a Bible of their own until now, nor were they in the habit of reading it at all.  Among others there are two grand-daughters of Patrick Henry.  I wish I could give you a picture of them, as they sit on Sabbath evening around the table with their eyes fixed so eagerly on my face, that if I did not feel that the Lord Jesus was present, I should be overwhelmed with confusion at my unworthiness....  Mr. Persico is a queer man.  Last Sabbath Miss L. asked him if he had been to church.  “Oui, Mlle.,” said he; “vous etiez a l’eglise de l’homme—­moi, j’etais a l’eglise de Dieu—­dans les bois.”  There is the bell for prayers; it is an hour since I began to write, but I have spent a great part of it with my eyes shut because I happened to feel more like meditating than writing, if you know what sort of a feeling that is.  Oh, that we might be enabled to go onward day by day—­and upward too.

I have been making violent efforts for years to become meek and lowly in heart.  At present I do hope that I am less irritable than I used to be.  It was no small comfort to me when sister was home last summer, to learn from her that I had succeeded somewhat in my efforts.  But though I have not often the last year been guilty of “harsh speeches,” I have felt my pride tugging with all its might to kindle a great fire when some unexpected trial has caught me off my guard.  I am persuaded that real meekness dwells deep within the heart and that it is only to be gained by communion with our blessed Saviour, who when He was reviled, reviled not again.

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Sabbath Evening, 8th.—­I wanted to write last evening but had a worse pain in my side and left arm than I have had since I came here.  While it lasted, which was an hour and a half, I had such pleasant thoughts for companions as would make any pain endurable.  I was asking myself if, supposing God should please suddenly to take me away in the midst of life, whether I should feel willing and glad to go, and oh, it did seem delightful to think of it, and to feel sure that, sooner or later, the summons will come.  Those pieces which you marked in the “Observer” I have read and like them exceedingly, especially those about growth in grace....  You speak of the goodness of God to me in granting me so much of His presence, while I am here away from all earthly friends.  Indeed I want to be able to praise Him as I never yet have done, and I don’t know where to begin.  I have felt more pain in this separation from home on mother’s account than any other, as I feel that she needs me at home to comfort and to love her.  Since she lost her best earthly friend I have been her constant companion.  I once had a secret desire for a missionary life, if God should see fit to prepare me for it, but when I spoke of it to mother she was so utterly overcome at its bare mention that I instantly promised I would never for any inducement leave or forsake her.  I want you to pray for me that if poor mother’s right hand is made forever useless, [8] I may after this year be a right hand for her, and be enabled to make up somewhat to her for the loss of it by affection and tenderness and sympathy....  I don’t remember feeling any way in particular, when I first began to “write for the press,” as you call it.  I never could realise that more than half a dozen people would read my pieces.  Besides, I have no desire of the sort you express, for fame.  I care a great deal too much for the approbation of those I love and respect, but not a fig for that of those I don’t like or don’t know.

* * * * *


Her Character as a Teacher.  Letters.  Incidents of School-Life.  Religious Struggles, Aims, and Hopes.  Oppressive Heat and Weariness.

Miss Payson had been in Richmond but a short time before she became greatly endeared to Mr. and Mrs. Persico, and to the whole school.  She had a rare natural gift for teaching.  Fond of study herself, she knew how to inspire her pupils with the same feeling.  Her method was excellent.  It aimed not merely to impart knowledge but to elicit latent powers, and to remove difficulties out of the way.  While decided and thorough, it was also very gentle, helpful, and sympathetic.  She had a quick perception of mental diversities, saw as by intuition the weak and the strong points of individual character, and was skillful in adapting her influence, as well as her instructions, to the peculiarities of every one under her care.  The girls in her own special department almost idolised her.  The parents also of some of them, who belonged to Richmond and its vicinity, seeing what she was doing for their daughters, sought her acquaintance and showed her the most grateful affection.

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Although her school labors were exacting, she carried on a large correspondence, spent a good deal of time in her favorite religious reading, and together with Miss Susan Lord, the senior teacher and an old Portland friend, pursued a course of study in French and Italian.  At the table Mr. Persico spoke French, and in this way she was enabled to perfect herself in the practice of that language.  Of her spiritual history and of incidents of her school life during the new year, some extracts from letters to her cousin will give her own account.

RICHMOND, January 3, 1841.

If I tell you that I am going to take under my especial care and protection one of the family—­a little girl of eleven years whom nobody can manage at all, you may wonder why.  I found on my plate at dinner a note from Mrs. Persico saying that if I wanted an opportunity of doing good, here was one; that if Nannie could sleep in my room, etc., it might be of great benefit to her.  The only reason why I hesitated was the fear that she might be in the way of our best hours.  But I have thought all along that I was living too much at my ease, and wanted a place in which to deny myself for the sake of the One who yielded up every comfort for my sake.  Nannie has a fine character but has been mismanaged at home, and since coming here.  She often comes and puts her arms around me and says, “There is one in this house who loves me, I do know.”  I receive her as a trust from God, with earnest prayer to Him that we may be enabled to be of use to her.  From morning to night she is found fault with, and this is spoiling her temper and teaching her to be deceitful....  I have been reading lately the Memoir of Martyn.  I have, of course, read it more than once before, but everything appears to me now in such a different light.  I rejoice that I have been led to read the book just now.  It has put within me new and peculiar desires to live wholly for the glory of God.

Jan.13th.—­I understand the feeling about wishing one’s self a dog, or an animal without a soul.  I have sat and watched a little kitten frisking about in the sunshine till I could hardly help killing it in my envy—­but oh, how different it is now!  I have felt lately that perhaps God has something for me to do in the world.  I am satisfied, indeed, that in calling me nearer to Himself He has intended to prepare me for His service.  Where that is to be is no concern of mine as yet.  I only wish to belong to Him and wait for His will, whatever it may be.

Jan. 14th.—­I used to go through with prayer merely as a duty, but now I look forward to the regular time for it, and hail opportunities for special seasons with such delight as I once knew nothing of.  Sometimes my heart feels ready to break for the longing it hath for a nearer approach to the Lord Jesus than I can obtain without the use of words, and there is not a corner of the house which

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I can have to myself.  I think sometimes that I should be thankful for the meanest place in the universe.  You ask if I ever dream of seeing the Lord.  No—­I never did, neither should I think it desirable; but a few days ago, when I woke, I had fresh in my remembrance some precious words which, as I had been dreaming, He had spoken to me.  It left an indescribable feeling of love and peace on my mind.  I seemed in my dream to be very near Him, and that He was encouraging me to ask of Him all the things of which I felt the need.

Jan. 17th.—­I did not mean to write so much about myself, for when I took out my letter I was thinking of things and beings far above this world.  I was thinking of the hour when the Christian first enters into the joy of his Lord, when the first note of the “new song” is borne to his ear, and the first view of the Lamb of God is granted to his eye.  It seems to me as if the bliss of that one minute would fully compensate for all the toils and struggles he must go through here; and then to remember the ages of happiness that begin at that point!  Oh, if the unseen presence of Jesus can make the heart to sing for joy in the midst of its sorrow and sin here, what will it be to dwell with Him forever!

My Bible class, which consists now of eighteen, is every week more dear to me.  I am glad that you think poor Nannie well off.  She has an inquiring mind, and though before coming here she had received no religious instruction and had not even a Bible, she is now constantly asking me questions which prove her to be a first-rate thinker and reasoner.  She went to the theatre last night and came home quite disgusted, saying to herself, “I shouldn’t like to die in the midst of such gayeties as these.”  She urged me to tell her if I thought it wrong for her to go, but I would not, because I did not want her to stay away for my sake.  I want her to settle the question fairly in her own mind and to be guided by her own conscience rather than mine.  She is so grateful and happy that, if the sacrifice had been greater, we should be glad that we had made it.  And then if we can do her any good, how much reason we shall have to thank God for having placed her here!

Feb. 11th.—­My thoughts of serious things should, perhaps, be called prayers, rather than anything else.  I have constant need of looking up to God for help, so utterly weak and ignorant am I and so dependent upon Him.  Sometimes in my walks, especially those of the early morning, I take a verse from the “Daily Food” to think upon; at others, if my mind is where I want it should be, everything seems to speak and suggest thoughts of my Heavenly Father, and when it is otherwise I feel as if that time had been wasted.  This is not “keeping the mind on the stretch,” and is delightfully refreshing.  All I wish is that I were always thus favored.  As to a hasty temper, I know that anybody who ever lived with me, until within the last two or three years, could tell you

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of many instances of outbreaking passion.  I am ashamed to say how recently the last real tempest occurred, but I will not spare myself.  It was in the spring of 1838, and I did not eat anything for so long that I was ill in bed and barely escaped a fever.  Mother nursed me so tenderly that, though she forgave me, I never shall forgive myself.  Since then I should not wish you to suppose that I have been perfectly amiable, but for the last year I think I have been enabled in a measure to control my temper, but of that you know more than I do, as you had a fair specimen of what I am when with us last summer.  It has often been a source of encouragement to me that everybody said I was gentle and amiable till my father’s death, when I was nine years old....  While reading to-night that chapter in Mark, where it speaks of Jesus as walking on the sea, I was interested in thinking how frequently such scenes occur in our spiritual passage over the sea which is finally to land us on the shores of the home for which we long.  “While they were toiling in rowing,” Jesus went to them upon the water and “would have passed by” till He heard their cries, and then He manifested Himself unto them saying, "It is I." And when He came to them, the wind ceased and they “wondered.”  Surely we have often found in our toiling that Jesus was passing by and ready at the first trembling fear to speak the word of love and of consolation and to give us the needed help, and then to leave us wondering indeed at the infinite tenderness and kindness so unexpectedly vouchsafed for our relief.

Feb. 13th—­I do not think we should make our enjoyment of religion the greatest end of our struggle against sin.  I never once had such an idea.  I think we should fight against sin simply because it is something hateful to God, because it is something so utterly unlike the spirit of Christ, whom it is our privilege to strive to imitate in all things.  On all points connected with the love I wish to give my Saviour, and the service I am to render Him, I feel that I want teaching and am glad to obtain assistance from any source.  I hardly know how to answer your question.  I do not have that constant sense of the Saviour’s presence which I had here for a long time, neither do I feel that I love Him as I thought I did, but it is not always best to judge of ourselves by our feelings, but by the general principle and guiding desire of the mind.  I do think that my prevailing aim is to do the will of God and to glorify Him in everything.  Of this I have thought a great deal of late.  I have not a very extensive sphere of action, but I want my conduct, my every word and look and motion, to be fully under the influence of this desire for the honor of God.  You can have no idea of the constant observation to which I am exposed here.

Feb. 21st.—­I spent three hours this afternoon in taking care of a little black child (belonging to the house), who is very ill, and as I am not much used to such things, it excited and worried me into a violent nervous headache.  I finished Brainerd’s Life this afternoon, amid many doubts as to whether I ever loved the Lord at all, so different is my piety from that of this blessed and holy man.  The book has been a favorite with me for years, but I never felt the influence of his life as I have while reading it of late.

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She alludes repeatedly in her correspondence to the delight which she found on the Sabbath in listening to that eminent preacher and divine, the Rev. Dr. Wm. S. Plumer, who was then settled in Richmond.  In a letter to her cousin she writes: 

I have become much attached to him; he seems more than half in heaven, and every word is full of solemnity and feeling, as if he had just held near intercourse with God.  I wish that you could have listened with me to his sermons to-day.  They have been, I think, blessed messages from God to my soul.

All her letters at this time glow with religious fervor.  “How wonderful is our divine Master!” she seemed to be always saying to herself.  “It has become so delightful to me to speak of His love, of His holiness, of His purity, that when I try to write to those who know Him not, I hardly know what is worthy of even a mention, if He is to be forgotten.”  And several years afterwards she refers to this period as a time when she “shrank from everything that in the slightest degree interrupted her consciousness of God.”

The following letter to a friend, whose name will often recur in these pages, well illustrates her state of mind during the entire winter.

To Miss Anna S. Prentiss.  Richmond, Feb 26, 1841.

Your very welcome letter, my dear Anna, arrived this afternoon, and, as my labors for the week are over, I am glad of a quiet hour in which to thank you for it.  I do not thank you simply because you have so soon answered my letter, but because you have told me what no one else could do so well about your own very dear self.  When I wrote you I doubted very much whether I might even allude to the subject of religion, although I wished to do so, since that almost exclusively has occupied my mind during the last year.  I saw you in the midst of temptations to which I have ever been a stranger, but which I conceived to be decidedly unfavorable to growth in any of the graces which make up Christian character.  It was not without hesitation that I ventured to yield to the promptings of my heart, and to refer to the only things which have at present much interest for it.  I can not tell you how I do rejoice that you have been led to come out thus upon the Lord’s side, and to consecrate yourself to His service.  My own views and feelings have within the last year undergone such an entire change, that I have wished I could take now some such stand in the presence of all who have known me in days past, as this which you have taken.  My first and only wish is henceforth to live but for Him, who has graciously drawn my wandering affections to Himself....  You speak of the faintness of your heart—­but “they who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength,” and I do believe the truth of these precious words; not only because they are those of God, but also because my own experience adds happy witness to them.  I have lived many years with only just enough of hope to keep me from actual despair. 

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The least breath was sufficient to scatter it all and to leave me, fearful and afraid, to go over and over again the same ground; thus allowing neither time nor strength for progress in the Christian course.  I trust that you will not go through years of such unnecessary darkness and despondency.  There is certainly enough in our Saviour, if we only open our eyes that we may see it, to solve every doubt and satisfy every longing of the heart; and He is willing to give it in full measure.  When I contemplate the character of the Lord Jesus, I am filled with wonder which I can not express, and with unutterable desires to yield myself and my all to His hand, to be dealt with in His own way; and His way is a blessed one, so that it is delightful to resign body and soul and spirit to Him, without a will opposed to His, without a care but to love Him more, without a sorrow which His love can not sanctify or remove.  In following after Him faithfully and steadfastly, the feeblest hopes may be strengthened; and I trust that you will find in your own happy experience that “joy and peace” go hand in hand with love—­so that in proportion to your devotion to the Saviour will be the blessedness of your life.  When I begin I hardly know where to stop, and now I find myself almost at the end of my sheet before I have begun to say what I wish.  This will only assure you that I love you a thousand times better than I did when I did not know that your heart was filled with hopes and affections like my own, and that I earnestly desire, if Providence permits us to enjoy intercourse in this or in any other way, we may never lose sight of the one great truth that we are not our own. I pray you sometimes remember me at the throne of grace.  The more I see of the Saviour, the more I feel my own weakness and helplessness and my need of His constant presence, and I can not help asking assistance from all those who love Him....  Oh, how sorry I am that I have come to the end!  I wish I had any faculty for expressing affection, so that I might tell you how much I love and how often I think of you.

Her cousin having gone abroad, a break in the correspondence with him occurred about this time and continued for several months.  In a letter to her friend, Miss Thurston, dated April 21st, she thus refers to her school: 

There are six of us teachers, five of them born in Maine—­which is rather funny, as that is considered by most of the folks here as the place where the world comes to an end.  Although the South lifts up its wings and crows over the North, it is glad enough to get its teachers there, and ministers too, and treats them very well when it gets them, into the bargain.  We have in the school about one hundred and twenty-five pupils of all ages.  I never knew till I came here the influence which early religious education exerts upon the whole future age.  There is such a wonderful difference between most of these young people and those in the North,

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that you might almost believe them another race of beings.  Mrs. Persico is beautiful, intelligent, interesting, and pious.  Mr. Persico is just as much like John Neal as difference of education and of circumstances can permit.  Mr. N.’s strong sense of justice, his enthusiasm, his fun and wit, his independence and self-esteem, his tastes, too, as far as I know them, all exist in like degree in Mr. Persico.

The early spring, with its profusion of flowers of every hue, so far in advance of the spring in her native State, gave her the utmost pleasure; but as the summer approached, her health began to suffer.  The heat was very intense, and hot weather always affected her unhappily.  “I feel,” she wrote, “as if I were in an oven with hot melted lead poured over my brain.”  Her old trouble, too—­“organic disease of the heart” it was now suspected to be—­caused her much discomfort.  “While writing,” she says in one of her letters, “I am suffering excruciating pain; I can’t call it anything else.”  Her physical condition naturally affected more or less her religious feelings.  Under date of July 12th, she writes: 

The word conflict expresses better than any other my general state from day to day.  I have seemed of late like a straw floating upon the surface of a great ocean, blown hither and thither by every wind, and tossed from wave to wave without the rest of a moment.  It was a mistake of mine to imagine that God ever intended man to rest in this world.  I see that it is right and wise in Him to appoint it otherwise....  While suffering from my Saviour’s absence, nothing interests me.  But I was somewhat encouraged by reading in my father’s memoir, and in reflecting that he passed through far greater spiritual conflicts than will probably ever be mine....  I see now that it is not always best for us to have the light of God’s countenance.  Do not spend your time and strength in asking for me that blessing, but this—­that I may be transformed into the image of Christ in His own time, in His own way.

Early in August she left Richmond and flew homeward like a bird to its nest.

* * * * *


Extracts from her Richmond Journal.

Were her letters to her cousin the only record of Miss Payson’s Richmond life, one might infer that they give a complete picture of it; for they were written in the freedom and confidence of Christian friendship, with no thought that a third eye would ever see them.  But it had another and hidden side, of which her letters contain only a partial record.  Her early habit of keeping a journal has been already referred to.  She kept one at Richmond, and was prevented several years later from destroying it, as she had destroyed others, by the entreaty of the only person who ever saw it.  This journal depicts many of her most secret thoughts and feelings, both earthward and heavenward.  Some passages in it are of too personal a nature for publication, but the following extracts seem fairly entitled to a place here, as they bring out several features of her character with sunlike clearness, and so will help to a better understanding of the ensuing narrative: 

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RICHMOND, October 3, 1840.

How funny it seems here!  Everything is so different from home!  I foresee that I shan’t live nearly a year under these new influences without changing my old self into something else.  Heaven forbid that I should grow old because people treat me as if I were grown up!  I hate old young folks.  Well! whoever should see me and my scholars would be at a loss to know wherein consists the difference between them and me.  I am only a little girl after all, and yet folks do treat me as if I were as old and as wise as Methusaleh.  And Mr. Persico says, “Oui, Madame.”  Oh! oh! oh!  It makes me feel so ashamed when these tall girls, these damsels whose hearts are developed as mine won’t be these half dozen years (to say nothing of their minds), ask me if they may go to bed, if they may walk, if they may go to Mr. So-and-so’s, and Miss Such-a-one’s to buy—­a stick of candy for aught I know.  Oh, oh, oh!  I shall have to take airs upon myself.  I shall have to leave off little words and use big ones.  I shall have to leave off sitting curled up on my feet, turkey-fashion.  I shall have to make wise speeches (But a word in your ear, Miss—­I won’t).

Oct. 27th—­This Richmond is a queer sort of a place and I should be as miserable in it as a fish out of water, only there is sunshine enough in my heart to make any old hole bright.  In the first place, this dowdy chamber is in one view a perfect den—­no carpet, whitewashed walls, loose windows that have the shaking palsy, fire-red hearth, blue paint instead of white, or rather a suspicion that there was once some blue paint here.  But what do I care?  I’m as merry as a grig from morning till night.  The little witches down-stairs love me dearly, everybody is kind, and—­and—­and—­when everybody is locked out and I am locked into this same room, this low attic, there’s not a king on the earth so rich, so happy as I!  Here is my little pet desk, here are my books, my papers.  I can write and read and study and moralise, I don’t pretend to say think—­and then besides, every morning and every night, within these four walls, heaven itself refuses not to enter in and dwell—­and I may grow better and better and happier and happier in blessedness with which nothing may intermeddle.

Mr. Persico is a man by himself, and quite interesting to me in one way, that is, in giving me something to puzzle out.  I like him for his exquisite taste in the picture line and for having adorned his rooms with such fine ones—­at least they’re fine to my inexperienced eye; for when I’m in the mood, I can go and sit and dream as it seemeth me good over them, and as I dream, won’t good thoughts come into my heart?  As to Mrs. P., I hereby return my thanks to Nature for making her so beautiful.  She has a face and figure to fall in love with.  K. has also a fine face and a delicate little figure.  Miss ——­ I shall avoid as far as I can do so.  I do not think her

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opinions and feelings would do me any good.  She has a fine mind and likes to cultivate it, and for that I respect her, but she has nothing natural and girlish in her, and I am persuaded, never had.  She hates little children; says she hates to hear them laugh, thinks them little fools.  Why, how odd all this is to me!  I could as soon hate the angels in heaven and hate to hear them sing.  That, to be sure, is my way, and the other way is hers—­but somehow it doesn’t seem good-hearted to be so very, very superior to children as to shun the little loving beautiful creatures.  I don’t believe I ever shall grow up!  But, Miss ——­, I don’t want to do you injustice, and I’m much obliged to you for all the flattering things you’ve said about me, and if you like my eyes and think there is congeniality of feeling between us, why, I thank you.  But oh, don’t teach me that the wisdom of the world consisteth in forswearing the simple beauties with which life is full.  Don’t make me fear my own happy girlhood by talking to me about love—­oh, don’t!

Dec. 1.—­I wonder if all the girls in the world are just alike?  Seems to me they might be so sweet and lovable if they’d leave off chattering forever and ever about lovers....  If mothers would keep their little unfledged birds under their own wings, wouldn’t they make better mother-birds?  Now some girls down-stairs, who ought to be thinking about all the beautiful things in life but just lovers, are reading novels, love-stories and poetry, till they can’t care for anything else....  Now, Lizzy Payson, where’s the use of fretting so?  Go right to work reading Leighton and you’ll forget that all the world isn’t as wise as you think you are, you little vain thing, you!  Alas and alas, but this is such a nice world, and the girls don’t know it!

Dec. 2.—­What a pleasant walk I had this morning on Ambler’s Hill.  The sun rose while I was there and I was so happy!  The little valley, clothed with white houses and completely encircled by hills, reminded me of the verse about the mountains round about Jerusalem.  Nobody was awake so early and I had all the great hill to myself, and it was so beautiful that I could have thrown myself down and kissed the earth itself.  Oh, sweet and good and loving Mother Nature!  I choose you for my own.  I will be your little lady-love.  I will hunt you out whenever you hide, and you shall comfort me when I am sad, and laugh with me when I’m merry, and take me by the hand and lead me onward and upward till the image of the heavenly forceth out that of the earthly from my whole heart and soul.  Oh, how I prayed for a holy heart on that hillside and how sure I am that I shall grow better! and what companionable thoughts I’ve had all day for that blessed walk!

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8th.—­My life is a nice little life just now, as regular as clockwork.  We walk and we keep school, and our scholars kiss and love us, and we kiss and love them, and we read Lamartine and I worship Leighton, good, wise, holy Leighton, and we discourse about everything together and dispute and argue and argue and dispute, and I’m quite happy, so I am!  As to Lamartine, he’s no great things, as I know of, but I want to keep up my knowledge of French and so we read twenty pages a day.  And as to our discourses, my fidgety, moralising sort of mind wants to compare its doctrines with those of other people, though it’s as stiff as a poker in its own opinions.  You’re a very consistent little girl! you call yourself a child, are afraid to open your mouth before folks, and yet you’re as obstinate and proud as a little man, daring to think for yourself and act accordingly at the risk of being called odd and incomprehensible.  I don’t care, though!  Run on and break your neck if you will.  You’re nothing especial after all.

9th.—­To-night, in unrolling a bundle of work I found a little note therein from mother.  Whew, how I kissed it!  I thought I should fly out of my senses, I was so glad.  But I can’t fly now-a-days, I’m growing so unetherial.  Why, I take up a lot of room in the world and my frocks won’t hold me.  That’s because my heart is so quiet, lying as still as a mouse, after all its tossings about and trying to be happy in the things of this life.  Oh, I am so happy now in the other life!  But as for telling other people so—­as for talking religion—­I don’t see how I can. It doesn’t come natural.  Is it because I am proud?  But I pray to be so holy, so truly a Christian, that my life shall speak and gently persuade all who see me to look for the hidden spring of my perpetual happiness and quietness.  The only question is:  Do I live so?  I’m afraid I make religion seem too grave a thing to my watching maidens down-stairs; but, oh, I’m afraid to rush into their pleasures.

25th.—­ ...  I’ve been “our Lizzy” all my life and have not had to display my own private feelings and opinions before folks, but have sat still and listened and mused and lived within myself, and shut myself up in my corner of the house and speculated on life and the things thereof till I’ve got a set of notions of my own which don’t fit into the notions of anybody I know.  I don’t open myself to anybody on earth; I can not; there is a world of something in me which is not known to those about me and perhaps never will be; but sometimes I think it would be delicious to love a mind like mine in some things, only better, wiser, nobler.  I do not quite understand life.  People don’t live as they were made to live, I’m sure ...  I want soul. I want the gracious, glad spirit that finds the good and the beautiful in everything, joined to the manly, exalted intellect—­rare unions, I am sure,

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yet possible ones.  Little girl!  Do you suppose such a soul would find anything in yours to satisfy it?  No—­no—­no—­I do not.  I know I am a poor little goose which ought to be content with some equally poor little gander, but I won’t. I’ll never give up one inch of these the demands of my reason and of my heart for all the truths you tell me about myself—­never!  But descend from your elevation, oh speculating child of mortality, and go down to school.  Oh, no, no school for a week, and I guess I’ll spend the week in fancies and follies.  It won’t hurt me.  I’ve done it before and got back to the world as satisfied as ever, indeed I have.

Jan. 1, 184l.—­We’ve been busy all the week getting our presents ready for the servants, and a nice time I’ve had this morning, seeing them show their ivory thereat.  James made a little speech, the amount of which was, he hoped I wouldn’t get married till I’d “done been” here two or three years, because my face was so pleasant it was good to look at it!  I was as proud as Lucifer at this compliment, and shall certainly look pleasant all day to-day, if I never did before.  Monsieur and the rest wished me, I won’t say how many, good wishes, rushing at me as I went in to breakfast—­and Milly privately informed Lucy that she liked Miss Payson “a heap” better than she did any body else, and then came and begged me to buy her!  I buy her!  Heaven bless the poor little girl.  I had some presents and affectionate notes from different members of the family and from my scholars—­also letters from sister and Ned, which delighted me infinitely more than I’m going to tell you, old journal.  Took tea at Mr. P.’s and Mrs. P. laughed at her husband because he had once an idea of going to New England to get my little ladyship to wife (for the sake of my father, of course).  Mr. P. blushed like a boy and fidgeted terribly, but I didn’t care a snap—­I am not old enough to be wife to anybody, and I’m not going to mind if people do joke with me about it.  I’ve had better things to think of on this New Year’s day—­good, heavenward thoughts and prayers and hopes, and if I do not become more and more transformed into the Divine, then are prayers and hopes things of nought.  Oh, how dissatisfied I am with myself.  How I long to be like unto Him into whose image I shall one day be changed when I see Him as He is!

I believe nobody understands me on religious points, for I can not, and, it seems to me, need not parade my private feelings before the world.  Cousin G., God bless him! knows enough, and yet my letters to him do not tell the hundredth part of that which these four walls might tell, if they would.  I do not know that I am not wrong, but I do dislike the present style of talking on religious subjects.  Let people pray—­earnestly, fervently, not simply morning and night, but the whole day long, making their lives one continued prayer; but, oh, don’t let them tell others of, or let others know half

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how much of communion with Heaven is known to their own hearts.  Is it not true that those who talk most, go most to meetings, run hither and thither to all sorts of societies and all sorts of readings—­is it not true that such people would not find peace and contentment—­yes, blessedness of blessedness—­in solitary hours when to the Searcher of hearts alone are known their aspirations and their love?  I do not know, I am puzzled; but I may say here, where nobody will ever see it, what I do think, and I say it to my own heart as well as over the hearts of others—­there is not enough of real, true communion with God, not enough nearness to Him, not enough heart-searching before Him; and too much parade and bustle and noise in doing His work on earth.  Oh, I do not know exactly what I mean—­but since I have heard so many apparently Christian people own that of this sense of nearness to God they know absolutely nothing—­that they pray because it is their habit without the least expectation of meeting the great yet loving Father in their closets—­since I have heard this I am troubled and perplexed.  Why, is it not indeed true that the Christian believer, God’s own adopted, chosen, beloved child, may speak face to face with his Father, humbly, reverently, yet as a man talketh with his friend?  Is it not true?  Do not I know that it is so?  Oh, I sometimes want the wisdom of an angel that I may not be thus disturbed and wearied.

14th.—­Now either Miss ——­’s religion is wrong and mine right, or else it’s just the other way.  I wrote some verses, funny ones, and sent her to-day, and she returned for answer that verse in Proverbs about vinegar on nitre, and seemed distressed that I ever had such worldly and funny thoughts.  I told her I should like her better if she ever had any but solemn ones, whence we rushed into a discussion about proprieties and I maintained that a mind was not in a state of religious health, if it could not safely indulge in thoughts funny as funny could be.  She shook her head and looked as glum as she could, and I’m really sorry that I vexed her righteous soul, though I’m sure I feel funny ever so much of the time, can not help saying funny things and cutting up capers now and then.  I’ll take care not to marry a glum man, anyhow; not that I want my future lord and master to be a teller of stories, a wit, or a particularly funny man—­but he shan’t wear a long face and make me wear a long one, though he may be as pious as the day is long and must be, what’s more.  Oh, my!  I don’t think I was so very naughty.  I saw Miss ——­ laughing privately at these same verses, and she rushed in to Mrs. P. and read them to her, and then copied them for her aunt and paid twenty-five cents postage on the letter.  I should like to know how she dared waste so much time in unholy employments!  As I was saying, and am always thinking, it’s rather queer that people are so oddly different in their ideas of religion.  Heaven forbid I should trifle with serious and holy thoughts of my head and heart—­but if my religion is worth a straw, such verse-writing will not disturb it.

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January 16th.—­I wonder what’s got into me to-day—­I feel cross, without the least bit of reason for so feeling.  I guess I’m not well, for I’m sure I’ve felt like one great long sunbeam, I don’t know how many months, and it doesn’t come natural to be fretful.

17th.—­I knew I wasn’t well yesterday and to-day am half sick.  We got through breakfast at twenty minutes to eleven, and as I was up at seven, I got kind o’ hungry and out of sorts.  This afternoon went to church and heard one of Dr. E.’s argumentative sermons.  But there’s something in those Prayer-book prayers, certainly, if men won’t or can’t put any grace into their sermons.  I wish I had a perfect ideal Sunday in my head or heart, or both.  If I’m very good I’m tired at night, and if I’m bad my conscience smites me—­so any way I’m not very happy just now and I’m sick and mean to go to bed and so!

18th.—­Had a talk with Nannie.  She has a thoughtful mind and who knows but we may do her some good.  I love to have her here, and for once in my life like to feel a little bit—­just the least bit—­old; that is, old enough to give a little sage advice to the poor thing, when she asks it.  She says she won’t read any more novels and will read the Bible and dear knows what else she said about finding an angel for me to marry, which heaven forbid she should do, since I’m too fond of being a little mite naughty, to desire anything of that sort.  After she was in bed she began to say her prayers most vehemently and among other things, prayed for Miss Payson.  I had the strangest sensation, and yet an almost heavenly one, if I may say so.  May it please Heaven to listen to her prayer for me, and mine for her, dear child.  But suppose I do her no good while she lives so under my wing?

19th.—­Up early—­walked and read Leighton.  Mr. P. amused us at dinner by giving a funny account in his funny way, of a mistake of E.——­ H.——­’s.  She asked me the French for as.  “Aussi” quoth I. Thereupon she tucked a great O. C. into her exercise and took it to him and they jabbered and sputtered over it, and she insisted that Miss Payson said so and he put his face right into hers and said, “Will you try to prove that Miss Payson is a fool, you little goose?” and at last Miss A. understood and explained.  Read Leighton after school and thirty-two pages of Lamartine—­then Mr. P. called—­then Miss ——­ teased me to love her and kept me in her paws till the bell rang for tea.  Why can’t I like her?  I should be so ashamed if I should find out after all that she is as good as she seems, but I never did get cheated yet when I trusted my own mother wits, my instinct, or whatever it is by which I know folks—­and she is found wanting by this something.

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28th.—­Mrs. Persico has comforted me to-day.  She says Mr. T. came to Mr. P. with tears in his eyes (could such a man shed tears?) and told him that I should be the salvation of his child—­that she was already the happiest and most altered creature, and begged him to tell me so.  I was ashamed and happy too—­but I think Mr. P. should have told him that if good has been done to Nannie, it is as much—­to say the least—­owing to Louisa as to me.  L. always joins me in everything I do and say for her, and I would not have even an accident deprive her of her just reward for anything.  Nannie sat on the floor to-night in her night-gown, thinking.  At last she said, “Miss Payson?” “Well, little witch?” “You wouldn’t care much if you should die to-night, should you?” “No, I think not.”  “Nor I,” said she.  “Why, do you think you should be better off than you are here?” “Yes, in heaven,” said she.  “Why how do you know you’ll go to heaven?” She looked at me seriously and said, “Oh, I don’t know—­I don’t know—­I don’t think I should like to go to the other place.”  We had then a long talk with her and it seems she’s a regular little believer in Purgatory—­but I wouldn’t dispute with her.  I guess there’s a way of getting at her heart better than that....  Why is it that I have such a sensitiveness on religious points, such a dread of having my own private aims and emotions known by those about me?  Is it right?  I should like to be just what the Christian ought to be in these relations.  Miss ——­ expects me to make speeches to her, but I can not.  If I thought I knew ever so much, I could not, and she annoys me so.  Oh, I wish it didn’t hurt my soul so to touch it!  It’s just like a butterfly’s wing—­people can’t help tearing off the very invisible down so to speak, for which they take a fancy to it, if they get it between fingers and thumb, and so I have to suffer for their curiosity’s sake.  Am I bound to reveal my heart-life to everybody who asks?  Must I not believe that the heavenly love may, in one sense, be hidden from outward eye and outward touch? or am I wrong?

Feb. 1, 184l.—­Rose later than usual—­cold, dull, rainy morning.  Read in Life of Wilberforce.  Defended Nannie with more valor than discretion.  This evening the storm departed and the moonlight was more beautiful than ever; and I was so sad and so happy, and the life beyond and above seemed so beautiful.  Oh, how I have longed to-day for heaven within my own soul!  There has been much unspoken prayer in my heart to-night.  I don’t know what I should do if I could have my room all to myself—­and not have people know it if even a good thought comes into my mind.  I shall be happy in heaven, I know I shall—­for even here prayer and praise are so infinitely more delightful than anything else.

3d.—­Woke with headache, got through school as best I could, then came and curled myself up in a ball in the easy-chair and didn’t move till nine, when I crept down to say good-bye to poor Mrs. Persico.  Miss L. and Miss J. received me in their room so tenderly and affectionately that I was ashamed.  What makes them love me?  I am sure I should not think they could.

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10th.—­I wonder who folks think I am, and what they think?  Sally R——­ sent me up her book of autographs with a request that I would add mine.  I looked it over and found very great names, and did not know whether to laugh or cry at her funny request, which I couldn’t have made up my mouth to grant.  How queer it seems to me that people won’t let me be a little girl and will act as if I were an old maid or matron of ninety-nine!  Poor Mr. Persico is terribly unhappy and walks up and down perpetually with such a step.

12th.—­ ...  I am sure that in these little things God’s hand is just as clearly to be seen as in His wonderful works of power, and tried to make Miss ——­ see this, but she either couldn’t or wouldn’t.  It seems to me that God is my Father, my own Father, and it is so natural to turn right to Him, every minute almost, with either thank-offerings or petitions, that I never once stop to ask if such and such a matter is sufficiently great for His notice.  Miss ——­ seemed quite astonished when I said so.

16th.—­ ...  I’ve been instituting an inquiry into myself to-day and have been worthily occupied in comparing myself to an onion, though in view of the fragrance of that highly useful vegetable, I hope the comparison won’t go on all fours But I have as many natures as an onion has—­what d’ye call ’em—­coats?  First the outside skin or nature—­kind o’ tough and ugly; anybody may see that and welcome.  Then comes my next nature—­a little softer—­a little more removed from curious eyes; then my inner one—­myself—­that ’ere little round ball which nobody ever did or ever will see the whole of—­at least, s’pose not.  Now most people see only the outer rind—­a brown, red, yellow, tough skin and that’s all; but I think there’s something inside that’s better and more truly an onion than might at first be guessed.  And so I’m an onion and that’s the end.

17th.—­Mrs. P.’s birthday, in honor of which cake and wine.  Mr. P. was angry with us because we took no wine.  If he had asked me civilly to drink his wife’s health, I should probably have done so, but I am not to be frightened into anything.  I made a funny speech and got him out of his bearish mood, and then we all proceeded to the portico to see if the new President had arrived—­by which means we obtained a satisfactory view of two cows, three geese, one big boy in a white apron and one small one in a blue apron, three darkies of feminine gender and one old horse; but Harrison himself we saw not.  Mr. Persico says it’s Tyler’s luck to get into office by the death of his superior, and declares Harrison must infallibly die to secure John Tyler’s fate.  It’s to be hoped this won’t be the case. [9]

March 6th.—­Miss L. read to us to-day some sprightly and amusing little notes written her years ago by a friend with whom she still corresponds.  I was struck with the contrast between these youthful and light-hearted fragments and her present letters, now that she is a wife and mother.  I wonder if there is always this difference between the girl and woman?  If so, heaven forbid I should ever cease to be a child!

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18th.—­Headache—­Nannie sick; held her in my arms two or three hours; had a great fuss with her about taking her medicine, but at last out came my word must, and the little witch knew it meant all it said and down went the oil in a jiffy, while I stood by laughing at myself for my pretension of dignity.  The poor child couldn’t go to sleep till she had thanked me over and over for making her mind and for taking care of her, and wouldn’t let go my hand, so I had to sit up until very late—­and then I was sick and sad and restless, for I couldn’t have my room to myself and the day didn’t seem finished without it.

It is a perfect mystery to me how folks get along with so little praying.  Their hearts must be better than mine, or something.  What is it?  But if God sees that the desire of my whole heart is to-night—­has been all day—­towards Himself, will He not know this as prayer, answer it as such?  Yes, prayer is certainly something more than bending of the knees and earnest words, and I do believe that goodness and mercy will descend upon me, though with my lips I ask not.

24th.—­Had a long talk with Mr. Persico about my style of governing.  He seemed interested in what I had to say about appeals to the conscience, but said my youthful enthusiasm would get cooled down when I knew more of the world.  I told him, very pertly, that I hoped I should never know the world then.  He laughed and asked, “You expect to make out of these stupid children such characters, such hearts as yours?” “No—­but better ones.”  He shook his head and said I had put him into good humor.  I don’t know what he meant.  I’ve been acting like Sancho to-day—­rushing up stairs two at a time, frisking about, catching up Miss J——­ in all her maiden dignity and tossing her right into the midst of our bed.  Who’s going to be “schoolma’am” out of school?  Not I!  I mean to be just as funny as I please, and what’s more I’ll make Miss ——­ funny, too,—­that I will!  She’d have so much more health—­Christian health, I mean—­if she would leave off trying to get to heaven in such a dreadful bad “way.”  I can’t think religion makes such a long, gloomy face.  It must be that she is wrong, or else I am.  I wonder which?  Why it’s all sunshine to me—­and all clouds to her!  Poor Miss ——­, you might be so happy!

April 9th.—­Holiday.  We all took a long walk, which I enjoyed highly.  I was in a half moralising mood all the way, wanted to be by myself very much.  We talked more than usual about home and I grew so sad.  Oh, I wonder if anybody loves me as I love!  I wonder!  I long for mother, and if I could just see her and know that she is happy and that she will be well again!  It is really a curious question with me, whether provided I ever fall in love (for I’ll fall in love, else not go in at all) I shall leave off loving mother best of anybody in the world?  I suppose I shall be in love sometime or other, but that’s nothing to do with me now nor I with it.  I’ve got my hands full to take care of my naughty little self.

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17th.—­Mrs. Persico got home to-night [10] and what a meeting we had! what rejoicing!  How beautiful she looked as she sat in her low chair, and we stood and knelt in a happy circle about her!  A queen—­an angel—­could not have received love and homage with a sweeter grace.  Sue Irvine cried an hour for joy and I wished I were one of the crying sort, for I’m sure I was glad enough to do almost anything.  Beautiful woman!  We sang to her the Welcome Home, Miss F. singing as much with her eyes as with her voice, and Mr. and Mrs. Persico both cried, he like a little child.  Oh, that such evenings as this came oftener in one’s life!  All that was beautiful and good in each of our hidden natures came dancing out to greet her at her coming, and all petty jealousies were so quieted and—­why, what a rhapsody I’m writing!  And to-morrow, our good better natures tucked away, dear knows where, we shall descend with business-like airs to breakfast, wish each other good morning, pretend that we haven’t any hearts.  Oh, is this life!  I won’t believe it.  Our good genius has come back to us; now all things will again go on smoothly; once more I can be a little girl and frolic up here instead of playing Miss Dignity down-stairs.

May 7th.—­This evening I passed unavoidably through Miss ——­’s room.  She was reading Byron as usual and looked so wretched and restless, that I could not help yielding to a loving impulse and putting my hand on hers and asking why she was so sad.  She told me.  It was just what I supposed.  She is trying to be happy, and can not find out how; reads Byron and gets sickly views of life; sits up late dreaming about love and lovers; then, too tired to pray or think good thoughts, tosses herself down upon her bed and wishes herself dead.  She did not tell me this, to be sure, but I gathered it from her story.  I alluded to her religious history and present hopes.  She said she did not think continued acts of faith in Christ necessary; she had believed on Him once, and now He would save her whatever she did; and she was not going to torment herself trying to live so very holy a life, since, after all, she should get to heaven just as well through Him as if she had been particularly good (as she termed it).  I don’t know whether a good or a bad spirit moved me at that minute, but I forgot that I was a mere child in religious knowledge, and talked about my doctrine and made it a very beautiful one to my mind, though I don’t think she thought it so.  Oh, for what would I give up the happiness of praying for a holy heart—­of striving, struggling for it!  Yes, it is indeed true that we are to be saved simply, only, apart from our own goodness, through the love of Christ.  But who can believe himself thus chosen of God—­who can think of and hold communion with Infinite Holiness, and not long for the Divine image in his own soul?  It is a mystery to me—­these strange doctrines.  Is not the fruit of love aspiration after the holy? 

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Is not the act of the new-born soul, when it passes from death unto life, that of desire for assimilation to and oneness with Him who is its all in all?  How can love and faith be one act and then cease?  I dare not believe—­I would not for a universe believe—­that my very sense of safety in the love of Christ is not to be just the sense that shall bind me in grateful self-renunciation wholly to His service.  Let me be sure of final rest in heaven—­sure that at this moment I am really God’s own adopted child; and I believe my prayers, my repentings, my weariness of sin, would be just what they now are; nay, more deep, more abundant.  Oh, it is because I believe—­fully believe that I shall be saved through Christ—­that I want to be like Him here upon earth It is because I do not fear final misery that I shrink from sin and defilement here.  Oh, that I could put into that poor bewildered heart of hers just the sweet repose upon the ever present Saviour which He has given unto me!  The quietness with which my whole soul rests upon Him is such blessed quietness!  I shall not soon forget this strange evening.

[1] She refers to this, doubtless, in a note to Mr. Hamlin, dated March 28, 1839.  Mr. H. was then in Constantinople.  “It seems as if a letter to go so far ought to be a good one, so I am afraid to write to you.  But we ‘think to you’ every day, and hope you think of us sometimes.  I have been so happy all winter that I have some happiness to spare, and if you need any you shall have as much as you want.”

[2] The sermon was preached by her pastor, the Rev. Dr. Condit, April 19th.

[3] There is one thing I recall as showing the very early religious tendency of Lizzy’s mind.  It was a little prayer meeting which she held with a few little friends, as long ago as her sister kept school in the large parlor of the house on Middle street, before the death of her father.  It assembled at odd hours and in odd places.  I also remember her interest in the spiritual welfare of her young companions, after the return of the family from their sojourn in New York.  She showed this by accompanying some of us, in the way of encouragement, to Dr. Tyler’s inquiry-meeting.  Then during the special religious interest of 1838, she felt still more deeply and entered heartily into the rejoicing of those of us who at that time found “peace in believing.”  The next year I accompanied my elder sister Susan to Richmond, and during my absence she gave up her Christian hope and passed through a season of great darkness and despondency, emerging, however, into the light upon a higher plane of religious experience and enjoyment.  She sometimes thought this the very beginning of the life of faith in her soul.  But as I used to say to her when the next year we were together at Richmond, it seemed to me quite impossible that any one who had not already received the grace of God, could have felt what she had felt and expressed.  I do not doubt in the least that for years she had been a true follower of Christ.—­Letter from Miss Ann Louisa P. Lord, dated Portland, December 30, 1878.

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[4] It may be proper to say here, that while but few of her letters are given entire, it has not been deemed needful specially to indicate all the omissions.  In some instances, also, where two letters, or passages of letters, relate to the same subject, they have been combined.

[5] An excellent little work by Rev. William Nevins, D.D.  Dr. Nevins was pastor of the first Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where he died in 1835, at the age of thirty-seven.  He was one of the best preachers and most popular religious writers of his day.

[6] Miss Ann Louisa P. Lord.

[7] Miss Susan Lord.

[8] Referring to a serious accident, by which her mother was for some time deprived of the use of her right hand.

[9] But, singularly enough, it was.  President Harrison died April 4, 1841, just a month after his inauguration, and Mr. Tyler succeeded him.

[10] From Philadelphia, where she had undergone a surgical operation.





At Home again.  Marriage of her Sister.  Ill-Health.  Letters.  Spiritual Aspiration and Conflict.  Perfectionism.  “Very, very Happy.”  Work for Christ what makes Life attractive.  Passages from Her Journal.  A Point of Difficulty.

Not long after Elizabeth’s return from Richmond, her sister was married to the Rev. Albert Hopkins, Professor in Williams College.  The wedding had been delayed for her coming.  “I would rather wait six years than not have you present,” her sister wrote.  This event brought her into intimate relations with a remarkable man; a man much beloved in his day, and whose name will often reappear in these pages.

The next two or three months showed that her Richmond life, although so full of happy experiences, had yet drawn heavily upon her strength.  They were marked by severe nervous excitement and fits of depression.  This, however, passed away and she settled down again into a busy home life.  But it was no longer the home life of the past.  The year of absence had left a profound impression upon her character.  Her mind and heart had undergone a rapid development.  She was only twenty-two on her return, and had still all the fresh, artless simplicity of a young girl, but there was joined to it now the maturity of womanhood.  Of the rest of the year a record is preserved in letters to her cousin.  These letters give many little details respecting her daily tasks and the life she led in the family and in the world; but they are chiefly interesting for the light they shed upon her progress heavenward.  Her whole soul was still absorbed in divine things.  At times her delight in them was sweet and undisturbed; then again, she found herself tossed to and fro upon the waves of spiritual conflict.  Perfectionism was just then much discussed, and the question troubled her not a little, as it did again thirty years later.  But whether agitated or at rest, her thoughts all centered in Christ, and her constant prayer was for more love to Him.

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PORTLAND, Sept. 15, 1841.

The Lord Jesus is indeed dear to me.  I can not doubt it.  His name is exceedingly precious.  Oh, help me, my dear cousin, to love Him more, to attain His image, to live only for Him!  I blush and am ashamed when I consider how inadequate are the returns I am making Him; yet I can praise Him for all that is past and trust Him for all that is to come.  I can not tell you how delightful prayer is.  I feel that in it I have communion with God—­that He is here—­that He is mine and that I am His.  I long to make progress every day, each minute seems precious, and I constantly tremble lest I should lose one in returning, instead of pressing forward with all my strength.  No, not my strength, for I have none, but with all which the Lord gives me.  How can I thank you enough that you pray for me!

Sept. 18th.—­I am all the time so nervous that life would be insupportable if I had not the comfort of comforts to rejoice in.  I often think mother would not trust me to carry the dishes to the closet, if she knew how strong an effort I have to make to avoid dashing them all to pieces.  When I am at the head of the stairs I can hardly help throwing myself down, and I believe it a greater degree of just such a state as this which induces the suicide to put an end to his existence.  It was never so bad with me before.  Do you know anything of such a feeling as this?  To-night, for instance, my head began to feel all at once as if it were enlarging till at last it seemed to fill the room, and I thought it large enough to carry away the house.  Then every object of which I thought enlarged in proportion.  When this goes off the sense of the contraction is equally singular.  My head felt about the size of a pin’s head; our church and everybody in it appeared about the bigness of a cup, etc.  These strange sensations terminate invariably with one still more singular and particularly pleasant.  I can not describe it—­it is a sense of smoothness and a little of dizziness.  If you never had such feelings this will be all nonsense to you, but if you have and can explain them to me, why I shall be indeed thankful.  I have been subject to them ever since I can remember.  I never met with a physician yet who seemed to know what is the matter with me, or to care a fig whether I got well or not.  All they do is to roll up their eyes and shake their heads and say, “Oh!” ...  As to the wedding, we had a regular fuss, so that I hardly knew whether I was in the body or out of it.  The Professor was here only two days.  He is very eminently holy, his friends say, and from what I saw of him, I should think it true.  This was the point which interested sister in him.  As soon as the wedding was over my spirits departed and fled.  It is true enough that “marriage involves one union, but many separations.”

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Oct. 17th.—­We had a most precious sermon this afternoon from the Baptist minister on the words, “Christ is all and in all.”  I longed to have you hear the Saviour thus dwelt upon.  I did not know how full the Apostles were of His praise—­how constantly they dwelt upon Him, till it was spread before me thus in one delightful view.  Oh, may He become our all—­our beginning and our ending—­our first and our last!  I do love to hear Him thus honored and adored.  Let us, dear cousin, look at our Saviour more.  Let us never allow aught to come between our hearts and our God.  Speak to me as to your own soul, urging me onward, and if you do not see the fruits of your faithfulness here, may you see when sowing is turned to reaping.

Oct. 24th.—­I must call upon you to rejoice with me that I have to-day got back my old Sunday-school class.  I wondered at their being so earnest about having me again, yet I trust that God has given me this hold upon their affections for some good purpose....  I do not know exactly how to discriminate between the suggestions of Satan and those of my own heart, but for a week past, even while my inclinations and my will were set upon Christ, something followed me in my down-sittings and my uprisings, urging me to hate the Lord Jesus; asking if His strict requirements were not too strait to be endured; and it has grieved me deeply that such a thought could find its way into my mind.  “I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not” is my last refuge.  How graciously did Jesus provide a separate consolation for each difficulty which He foresaw could meet His disciples on their way.

Nov. 8th.—­Mother has been sick.  The doctor feared inflammation of the brain; but she is better now.  I have had my first experience as a nurse, and Dr. Mighels says I am a good one.

Whenever I think of God’s wonderful, wonderful goodness to me and of my own sinfulness, I want to find a place low at the foot of the cross where I may cover my face in the dust, and yet go on praising Him.  You do not know how all things have been made new to me within less than two years.  Still, I struggle fiercely every hour of my life.  For instance, my desire to be much beloved by those dear to me, is a source of constant grief.  Some weeks ago, a person, who probably did not know this, told me that I was remarkably lovable and that everybody said so.  I was so foolish, so wicked, as to be more pleased by this than I dare to tell—­but enough so to give me after-hours of bitter sorrow.  Sometimes it seems to me that I grow prouder every day, and I wanted to ask mother if she did not think so; but I thought perhaps God is showing me my pride as I had never seen it that I may wage war against this, His enemy and mine.  I do not believe anybody else has such an evil nature as I. But let us never rest till we are satisfied with being counted as nothing, that our Saviour may be all in all.  It seems no small portion of the joy I long for in heaven, to be thus self-forgetful in love to Christ.  How strange that we do not now supremely love Him.  How I do long to live with those who praise Him.  I long to have every Christian with whom I meet speak of Him with love and exalt Him. [1]

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Nov. 12th.—­I have been very unwell and low-spirited.  The cause of this, folks seem to agree, was over-exertion during mother’s sickness.  To tell the truth, I was so anxious about her that I did not try to save my strength at all, and excitement kept me up, so that I was not conscious of any special fatigue till all was over and the reaction came, when I just went into a dead-and-alive state and had the “blues” outrageously.  It seemed as if I could do nothing but fold my hands and cry.

Sister is coming home this winter.  I would like you to see this letter of hers.  She is as nearly a perfectionist now as your father is.  She begs me to read the New Testament and to pray for a knowledge of the truth.  And so I have for a year and a half, and this is what I learn thereby:  “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”—­at least such I find mine to be.  To be sure, that I am not perfect is no proof that I may not become so; however, I feel most sympathy with those who, like Martyn, Brainerd, and my father, had to fight their way through.  Yet her remarks threw my mind into great confusion at first and I knew not what to do; thereupon I went at once with my difficulties to the Lord and tried to seek the truth, whatever it might be, from Him.  It seems to me that I am safe while in His hands, and that if those things are essential, He will not withhold them from me.  Truly, if there is a royal road to holiness, and if in one moment of time sin may be crushed and forever slain, I of all others should know it; for at present the way is thronged with difficulties. [2] It seems to me that I am made of wants”—­I need everything.  At the same time, how great is the goodness of God to me!  I long to have my heart so filled with the one single image of my Redeemer, that it shall ever flow in spontaneous adoration.  Such a Saviour!  I am pained to the very depths of my soul because I love Him so little....  If I am only purified and made entirely the Lord’s, let Him take His own course and make the refining process ever so painful.

  “When the shore is won at last,
  Who will count the billows past?”

Dec. 16th.—­Do you remember what father said about losing his will when near the close of his life?  That remark has always made the subject of a lost will interesting to me.  There is another place where he wishes he had known this blessedness twenty years before. [3]

Dec. 18th.—­“I am very, very happy; and yet it is hardly a happiness which I can describe.  You know what it is to rejoice in the sweet consciousness that there is a Saviour—­a near and a present Saviour; and thus am I now rejoicing; grateful to Him for His holy nature, for His power over me, for His dealings with me, for a thousand things which I can only try to express to Him.  Oh, how excellent above all treasures does He now appear!  One minute of nearness to the Lord Jesus contains more of delight than years spent in intercourse with any earthly friend.  I could not but own to-night that God can make me happy without a right hand or a right eye.  Lord, make me Thine, and I will cheerfully give Thee all.

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Dec. 22d.—­“As to my Italian and Tasso, I am ashamed to tell you how slow I have been.  Between company and housework and sewing I have my hands about full, and precious little time for reading and study.  Still, I feel that I live a life of too much ease.  I should love to spend the rest of my existence in the actual service of the Lord, without a question as to its ease and comfort.  Reading Brainerd this afternoon made me long for his loose hold on earthly things.  I do not know how to attain to such a spirit.  Is it by prayer alone and the consequent sense of the worth of Divine things that this deadness to the world is to be gained—­or, by giving up, casting away the treasures which withdraw the heart or have a tendency to withdraw it from God?  This is quite an interesting question to me now, and I should really like it settled.  The thought of living apart from God is more dreadful than any affliction I can think of.

Here are some passages from two leaves of her journal which escaped the flames.  They touch upon another side of her life at this period.

December 1, 184l.—­“I went to the sewing-circle this afternoon and had such a stupid time!  Enough gossip and nonsense was talked to make one sick, and I’m sure it wasn’t the fault of my head that my hair didn’t stand on end.  Now my mother is a very sensible mother, but when she urges me into company and exhorts me to be more social, she runs the risk of having me become as silly as the rest of ’em.  She fears I may be harmed by reading, studying and staying with her, but heaven forbid I should find things in books worse than things out of them.  I can’t think the girls are the silly creatures they make themselves appear.  They want an aim in life, some worthy object; give them that, and the good and excellent which, I am sure, lies hidden in their nature, will develop itself at once.  When the young men rushed in and the girls began looking unutterable things, I rushed out and came home.  I can’t and won’t talk nonsense and flirt with those boys!  Oh, what is it I do want?  Somebody who feels as I feel and thinks as I think; but where shall I find the somebody?

7th.—­“Frolicked with G., rushed up stairs with a glass-lamp in my hand, went full tilt against the door, smashed the lamp, got the oil on my dress, on two carpets, besides spattering the wall.  First consequence, a horrible smell of lamp-oil; Second, great quakings, shakings, and wonderings what my ma would say when she came home; Third, ablutions, groanings, ironings; Fourth, a story for the Companion long enough to pay for that ’ere old lamp.  Letting alone that, I’ve been a very good girl to-day; studied, made a call, went to see H. R. with books, cakes, apples, and what’s more, my precious tongue wherewith I discoursed to her.

14th.—­“Busy all day.  Carried a basket full of “wittles” to old Ma’am Burns, heard an original account of the deluge from the poor woman, wished I was as near heaven as she seems to be, studied, sewed, taught T. and E., tried to be a good girl and didn’t have the blues once.

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20th.—­“Spent most of the afternoon with Lucy, who is sick.  She held my hand in hers and kissed it over and over, and expressed so much love and gratitude and interest in the Sunday-school that I felt ashamed.

24th—­Helped mother bake all the morning, studied in the afternoon, got into a frolic, and went out after dark with G. to shovel snow, and then paddled down to L——­’s with a Christmas-pudding, whereby I got a real backache, legache, neckache, and all-overache, which is just good enough for me.  I was in the funniest state of mind this afternoon!  I guess anybody, who had seen me, would have thought so!

25th, Saturday.—­Got up early and ran down to Sally Johnson’s with a big pudding, consequence whereof a horrible pain in my side.  I don’t care, though.  I do love to carry puddings to good old grannies.

Jan. 1, 1842.—­Began the New Year by going to see Lucy, fainting, tumbling down flat on the floor and scaring everybody half out of their wits.  I don’t think people ought to like me, on the whole, but when they do, aint I glad?  I wonder if perfectly honest-hearted people want to be loved better than they deserve, as in one sense I, with yet a pretty honest heart, do?  I wonder how other folks think, feel inside?  Wish I knew!

Most of the year 1842 was passed at home in household duties, in study, and in trying to do good.  Never had she been busier, or more helpful to her mother; and never more interested in the things of God.  It was a year of genuine spiritual growth and also of sharp discipline.  The true ideal of the Christian life revealed itself to her more and more distinctly, while at the same time she had opportunity both to learn and to practise some of its hardest lessons.  A few extracts from letters to her cousin will give an inkling of its character.

March 19, 1842.—­Sometimes I have thought my desire to live for my Saviour and to labor for Him had increased.  It certainly seems wonderful to me now that I could ever have wished to die, as I used to do, when I had done nothing for God.  The way of life which appears most attractive, is that spent in persevering and unwearying toil for Him.  There was a warmth and a fervency to my religious feelings the first year after my true hope which I do not find now and often sigh for; but I think my mind is more seriously determined for God than it was then, and that my principles are more fixed.  Still I am less than the least of all....  I have read not quite five cantos of Tasso.  You will think me rather indolent, but I have had a great deal to do, which has hindered study and reading.

May 3d—­The Christian life was never dearer to me than it is now, but it throngs with daily increasing difficulties.  You, who have become a believer in perfection, may say that this conflict is not essential, and indeed I have been so weary, of late, of struggling that I am almost ready to fly to the doctrine myself.  I have certainly been made more willing to seek knowledge on this point from the Holy Spirit.

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Sept. 30th—­You speak of indulging unusually, of late, in your natural vivacity and finding it prejudicial.  Here is a point on which I am completely bewildered.  I find that if for a month or two I steadily set myself to the unwearied pursuit of spirituality of mind and entire weanedness from the world, a sad reaction will follow.  My efforts slightly relax, I indulge in mirthful or worldly (in the sense of not religious) conversation, delight in it, and find my health and spirits better for it.  But then my spiritual appetites at once become less keen, and from conversation I go to reading, from reading to writing, and then comes the question:  Am I not going back?—­and I turn from all to follow hard after the Lord.  Is this a part of our poor humanity, above which we can not rise?  This is a hard world to live in; and it will prove a trying one to me or I shall love it dearly.  I have had temptations during the last six months on points where I thought I stood so safely that there was no danger of a fall.  Perhaps it is good for us to be allowed to go to certain lengths, that we may see what wonderful supplies of grace our Lord gives us every hour of our lives.

October 1st—­I have had two or three singular hours of excitement since I left writing to you last evening.  If you were here I should be glad to read you a late passage in my history which has come to its crisis and is over with—­thanks to Him, who so wonderfully guides me by His counsel.  If I ever saw the hand of God distinctly held forth for my help, I have seen it here, coming in the right time, in the right way, all right.

* * * * *


Returns to Richmond.  Trials there.  Letters.  Illness.  School Experiences.  “To the Year 1843.”  Glimpses of her daily Life.  Why her Scholars love her so.  Homesick.  A Black Wedding.  What a Wife should be.  “A Presentiment.”  Notes from her Diary.

In November of this year, at the urgent solicitation of Mr. Persico, Miss Payson returned to Richmond, and again became a teacher in his school.  But everything was now changed, and that for the worse.  Mr. Persico, no longer under the influence of his wife, who had fallen a prey to cruel disease, lost heart, fell heavily in debt, and became at length hopelessly insolvent.  Later, he is said to have been lost at sea on his way to Italy.  The whole period of Miss Payson’s second residence in Richmond was one of sharp trial and disappointment.  But it brought out in a very vivid manner her disinterestedness and the generous warmth of her sympathies.  At the peril of her health she remained far into the summer of 1843, faithfully performing her duties, although, as she well knew, it was doubtful if she would receive any compensation for her services.  As a matter of fact, only a pittance of her salary was ever paid.  Of this second residence in Richmond no other record is needed than a few extracts from letters written to a beloved friend who was passing the winter at the South, and whose name has already been mentioned.

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A sentence in the first of these letters deserves to be noted as affording a key to one side of her character, namely:  “the depressing sense of inferiority which was born with me.”  All her earlier years were shadowed by this morbid feeling; nor was she ever quite free from its influence.  It was, probably, at once a cause and an effect of the sensitive shyness that clung to her to the last.  Perhaps, too, it grew in part out of her irrepressible craving for love, coupled with utter incredulity about herself possessing the qualities which rendered her so lovable.  “It is one of the faults of my character,” she wrote, “to fancy that nobody cares for me.”

When, dear Anna, I had taken my last look at the last familiar face in Portland (I fancy you know whose face it was) I became quite as melancholy as I ever desire to be, even on the principle that “by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.”  I dare say you never had a chance to feel, and therefore will not be able to understand, the depressing sense of inferiority which was born with me, which grew with my growth and strengthened with my strength, and which, though somewhat repressed of late years, gets the mastery very frequently and makes me believe myself the most unlovable of beings.  It was with this feeling that I left home and journeyed hither, wondering why I was made, and if anybody on earth will ever be a bit the happier for it, and whether I shall ever learn where to put myself in the scale of being.  This is not humility, please take notice—­for humility is contented, I think, with such things as it hath.

To Miss Anna S. Prentiss.  Richmond, Nov. 26, 1842

When I reached Richmond last night, tired and dusty and stupefied, I felt a good deal like crawling away into some cranny and staying there the rest of my life; but this morning, when I had remembered mother’s existence and yours and that of some one or two others, I felt more disposed to write than anything else.  Your note was a great comfort to me during two and a half hours at Portsmouth, and while on my journey.  I thought pages to you in reply.  How I should love to have you here in Richmond, even if I could only see you once a month, or know only that you were here and never see you!  With many most kind friends about me, I still shall feel very keenly the separation from you.  There is nobody here to whom I can speak confidingly, and my hidden spirit will have to sit with folded wings for eight months to come.  To whom shall I talk about you, pray?  On the way hither I fell in love with a little girl who also fell in love with me, and as I sat with her over our lonely fire at Philadelphia and in Washington, I could not help speaking of you now and then, till at last she suddenly looked up and asked me if you hadn’t a brother, which question effectually shut my mouth.  In a religious point of view I am sadly off here.  There is a different atmosphere in the house from what there used to be, and I look forward with some anxiety to the future.

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The “little girl” referred to received soon after a letter from Miss Payson.  In enclosing it to a friend, more than thirty-seven years later, she wrote:  “I cried bitterly when she left us for Richmond.  She was out and out good and true.  When my father was taking leave of us, the last night in Washington, she proposed that as we had enjoyed so much together, we should not separate without a prayer of thanks and blessing-seeking, a proposal to which my father most heartily responded.”  Here is an extract from the letter: 

When I look over my school-room I am frequently reminded of you, for my thirty-six pupils are, most of them, about your age.  I have some very lovable girls under my wing.  I should be too happy if there were no “unruly members” among these good and gentle ones; but in the little world where I shall spend the greater part of the next eight months, as well as in the great and busy one, which as yet neither you or I know much about, I fancy there are mixtures of “the just and the unjust,” of “the evil and the good.”  We have a very pleasant family this year.  The youngest (for I omit the black baby in the kitchen) we call Lily.  She is my pet and plaything, and is quite as affectionate as you are.  Then comes a damsel named Beatrice, who has taken me upon trust just as you did.  You may be thankful that your parents are not like hers, for she is to be educated for the world; music, French and Italian crowd almost everything else out of place, and as for religious influences, she is under them here for the first time.  How thankful I feel when I see such cases as this, that God gave me pious parents, who taught me from my very birth, that His fear is the beginning of wisdom!  My room-mate we call Kate.  She is pious, intelligent, and very warm-hearted, and I love her dearly.  She is an orphan—­Mrs. Persico’s daughter ...

I am rather affectionate by nature, if not in practice, and though I know that nearness to the Friend, whom I hope I have chosen, could make me happy in any circumstances, I do not pretend to be above the desire for earthly friends, provided He sees fit to give them to me.  I believe my father used to say that we could not love them too much, if we only gave Him the first place in our hearts.  Let us earnestly seek to make Him our all in all.  It is delightful, in the midst of adversities and trials, to be able to say “There is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee,” but it requires more grace, I think, to be able to use such language when the world is bright about us.  You have known little of sorrow as yet, but if you have given your whole, undivided heart to God, you will not need affliction, or to have your life made so desolate that “weariness must toss you to His breast.”  There is a bright side to religion, and I love to see Christians walking in the sunshine.  I trust you have found this out for yourself, and that your hope in Christ makes you happy in the life that now is, as well as gives you promise of blessedness in that which is to come.

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Before she had been long in Richmond she was seized with an illness which caused her many painful, wearisome days and nights.  Referring to this illness, in a letter to Miss Prentiss, she writes: 

It is dull music being sick away from one’s mother, but I have a knack at submitting myself to my fate; so my spirit was a contented one, and I was not for a moment unhappy, except for the trouble which I gave those who had to nurse me.  I thought of you, at least two-thirds of the time.  As my little pet, Lily L., said to me last night, when she had very nearly squeezed the breath out of my body, “I love you a great deal harder than I hug you”; so I say to you—­I love you harder than I tell, or can tell you.  A happy New-Year to you, dear Anna.  How much and how little in those few old words!  Consider yourself kissed and good-night.

The “New Year” was destined to be a very eventful one alike to her friend and to herself.  She seemed to have a presentiment of it, at least in her own case, as some lines written on a blank leaf of her almanac for that year attest: 

  With mingling hope and trust and fear
  I bid thee welcome, untried year;
  The paths before me pause to view;
  Which shall I shun and which pursue? 
  I read my fate with serious eye;
  I see dear hopes and treasures fly,
  Behold thee on thy opening wing
  Now grief, now joy, now sorrow bring. 
  God grant me grace my course to run
  With one blest prayer—­His will be done.

A little journal kept by her during the following months gives bright glimpses of her daily life.  The entries are very brief, but they show that while devoted to the school, she also spent a good deal of time among her books, kept up a lively correspondence with absent friends, and contributed her full share to the entertainment of the household by “holding soirees” in her room, “reading to the girls,” writing stories for them, and helping to “play goose” and other games.

To Miss Anna S. Prentiss, Richmond, Feb. 22, 1843.

Thanks to the Father of his Country for choosing to be born in Virginia! for it gives us a holiday, and I can write to you, dearest of Annas.  You don’t know how delighted I was to get your long-watched-for letter.  You very kindly express the wish that you could bear some of my school drudgery with me.  I would not give you that, but you should have love from some of these warm-hearted damsels, which would make you happy even in the midst of toil and vexation.  I can’t think what makes my scholars love me so.  I’m sure it is a gift for which I should be grateful, as coming from the same source with all the other blessings which are about me.  I believe my way of governing is a more fatiguing one than that of scolding, fretting, and punishing.  There is a little bit of a tie between each of these hearts and mine—­and the least mistake on my part severs it forever; so I have to be exceedingly careful what I do and say.  This keeps me in a constant state of excitement and makes my pulse fly rather faster than, as a pulse arrived at years of discretion, it ought to do.  I come out of school so happy, though half tired to death, wishing I were better, and hoping I shall become so; for the more my scholars love me, the more I am ashamed that I am not the pink of perfection they seem to fancy me.

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Evening.—­I have just come up here to my lonely room (which, if I hadn’t the happiest kind of a heart in the world, would look right gloomy) and have read for the third time your dear, good letter, and all I wish is that I could tell you how I love you, and how angry I am with myself that I did not know and love you sooner.  It seems so odd that we should have been born and “raised” so near each other and yet apart.  You say you are a believer in destiny.  So am I—­particularly in affairs of the heart; and I hope that we are made friends now for something more than the satisfaction which we find in loving.  I am in danger of forgetting that I am to stay in this world only a little while and then go home. Will you help me to bear it in mind?...  How must the “Pilgrim’s Progress” interest a mind that has never learned the whole book by rote in childhood.  I have often wished I could read it as a first-told tale, and so I wish about the xiv. of John and some other chapters in the Bible.

Your incidental mention that you have family prayers every evening produced a thousand strange sensations in my mind.  I hardly know why.  Did I ever tell you how I love and admire the new Bishop Johns?  And how if I am a “good Presbyterian,” as they say here, I go to hear him whenever and wherever he preaches.  I don’t think him a great man, but he has that sincerity and truthfulness of manner which win your love at once. [4] ...  What nice times you must have studying German!  I dreamed the night I read your account of it that I was with you, and that you said I was as stupid as an owl.  I have the queerest mind somehow.  It won’t work like those of other people, but goes the farthest way round when it wants to go home, and I never could do anything with it but just let it have its own way, and live the longer.  They are having a nice time down in the parlor worshipping Miss Ford, the light and sunshine of the house, who leaves to-morrow for Natchez, and I am going down to help them.  So, good-night.

To the same.  April 24.

Since I wrote you last we have all had a good deal to put our patience and philosophy and faith to the test, and I must own that I have been for some weeks about as uncomfortable as mortal damsel could be.  Everything went wrong with Mr. Persico, and his gloom extended to all of us.  I never spent such melancholy weeks in my life, and became so homesick that I could hardly drag myself into school.  In the midst of it, however, I made fun for the rest, as I believe I should do in a dungeon; and now it is all over, I look back and laugh still.

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We had a black wedding—­a very black one—­in my schoolroom the other night; our cook having decided to take to herself a lord and master.  It was the funniest affair I ever saw.  Such comical dresses! such heaps of cake, wine, coffee, and candy! such kissings and huggings!  The man who performed the ceremony prayed that they might obey each other, wherein I think he showed his originality and good sense, too.  Then he held a book upside down and pretended to read, dear knows what! but the Professor—­that is to say, Mrs. P.—­laughed so loud when he said, “Will you take this wo-man to be your wedded husband” that we all joined in full chorus, whereupon the poor priest (who was only the sexton of St. James’) was so confused that he married them over twice.  I never saw a couple in their station in life provided with a tenth part of the luxuries with which they abounded.  We worked all day Saturday in the kitchen, making and icing cake for them, and a nice frolic we had of it, too.  Do you love babies?  We have a black one in the lot whom I pet for want of something on which to expend my love.

When I find anything that will interest the whole family, I read it aloud for general edification.  The girls persuaded me into writing a story to read to them, and locked me into my room till it was done.  It was the first love-story I ever wrote, for hitherto I have not known enough about such things to be able to do it.  This reminds me that you asked if I intend forgetting you after I am married.  I have no sort of idea what I shall do, provided I ever marry.  But if I ever fall in love I dare say I shall do it so madly and absorbingly as to become, in a measure and for a season, forgetful of everything and everybody else.  Still, though I hate professions, I don’t see how I can ever cease to love you, whatever else I forget or neglect.  There is a restlessness in my affection for you that I don’t understand—­a half wish to avoid enjoyment now, that I may in some future time share it with you.  And yet I have a presentiment that we may have sympathy in trials of which I now know nothing.

I am ashamed of myself, of late, that these subjects of love and matrimony find a place in my thoughts which I never have been in the habit of giving them, but people here talk of little else and I am borne on with the current.  I think that to give happiness in married life a woman should possess oceans of self-sacrificing love and I, for one, haven’t half of that self-forgetting spirit which I think essential.

I am glad you like the “Christian Year,” and I see you are quite an Episcopalian.  Well, if you are like the good old English divines, nobody can find fault with your choice.  Mr. Persico was brought up a Catholic but professes to be a nothingarian now.  For myself, this only I know that I earnestly wish all the tendencies of my heart to be heavenward, and I believe that the sincere inquirer after truth will be guided by the Infinite Mind.  And so on that faith I venture myself and feel safe as a child may feel, who holds his father’s hand.  Life seems full of mysteries to me of late—­and I am tempted to strange thoughtfulness in the midst of its gayest scenes.

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How true was the “presentiment” described in this letter, will appear in her correspondence with the same friend more than a quarter of a century later.

To Anna S. Prentiss, Richmond, June 1, 1843

I believe you and I were intended to know each other better I have found a certain something in you that I have been wanting all my life.  While I wish you to know me just as I am, faults and all, I can t bear to think of ever seeing anything but the good and the beautiful in your character, dear Anna, and I believe my heart would break outright should I find you to be otherwise than just that which I imagine you are.  I don’t know why I am saying this; but I have learned more of the world during the last year than in any previous half dozen of my life, and the result is dissatisfaction and alarm at the things I see about me.  I wish I could always live, as I have hitherto done, under the shelter of my mother’s wing....  I ought to ask your pardon for writing in this horrid style, but I was born to do things by steam, I believe, and can’t do them moderately.  As I write to, so I love you, dear Anna, with all my interests and energies tending to that one point.  I was amused the other day with a young lady who came and sat on my bed when I was sick (for I am just getting well from a quite serious illness), and after some half dozen sighs, wished she were Anna Prentiss that she might be loved as intensely as she desired.  This is a roundabout way of saying how very dear you are to me.  What chatter-boxes girls are!  I wonder how many times I’ve stopped to say “My dear, don’t talk so much—­for I am writing in school.”

June 27th—­Mr. ——­ brought “The Home” to me and I have laughed and cried over it to my heart’s content.  Out of pure self-love, because they said she was like me, I liked poor Petra with the big nose, best of the bunch—­though, to be sure, they liken me to somebody or other in every book we read till I begin to think myself quite a bundle of contradictions.  I have a thousand and one things to say to you, but I wonder if as soon as I see you I shall straightway turn into a poker, and play the stiffy, as I always do when I have been separated from my friends.  I am writing in a little bit of a den which, by a new arrangement, I have all to myself.  What if there’s no table here and I have to write upon the bureau, sitting on one foot in a chair and stretching upwards to reach my paper like a monkey?  What do I care?  I am writing to you, and your spirit, invoked when I took possession of the premises, comes here sometimes just between daylight and dark, and talks to me till I am ready to put forth my hand to find yours.  Oh!  Anna, you must be everything that is pure and good, through to the very depths of your heart, that mine may not ache in finding it has loved only an imaginary being.  Not that I expect you to be perfect—­for I shouldn’t love you if you were immaculate—­but pure in aim and intention and desire, which I believe you to be.

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29th.—­Do you want to know what mischief I’ve just been at?  There lay poor Miss ——­, alias “Weaky” as we call her, taking her siesta in the most innocent manner imaginable, with a babe-in-the-wood kind of air, which proved so highly attractive that I could do no less than pick her up in my arms and pop her (I don’t know but it was head first), right into the bathing-tub which happened to be filled with fresh cold water.  Poor, good little Weaky!  There she sits shaking and shivering and laughing with such perfect sweet humor, that I am positively taking a vow never to do so again.  Well, I had something quite sentimental to say to you when I began writing, but as the spirit moved me to the above perpetration of nonsense, I’ve nothing left in me but fun, and for that you’ve no relish, have you?

I made out to cry yesterday and thereby have so refreshed my soul as to be in the best possible humor just now.  The why and wherefore of my tears, which by the way I don’t shed once in an age, was briefly the withdrawal from school of one of my scholars, one who had so attached herself to me as to have become almost a part of myself, and whom I had taught to love you, dear Anna, that I might have the exquisite satisfaction of talking about you every day—­a sort of sweet interlude between grammar and arithmetic which made the dull hours of school grow harmonious.  She had a presentiment that her life was to close with our school session, from which I couldn’t move her even when her health was good, and she says that she prays every day, not that her life may be lengthened, but that she may die before I am gone.  I am superstitious enough to feel that the prayer may have its answer, now that I see her drooping and fading away without perceptible disease.  The only time I ever witnessed the rite of confirmation was when the hands of the good bishop rested upon her head, and no wonder if I have half taken up arms in defense of this “laying-on of hands,” out of the abundance of my heart if not from the wisdom of my head.  Well, I’ve lost my mirthful mood, speaking of her, and don’t know when it will come again.

I have taken it into my head that you will visit Niagara on your way home from the South and have half a mind to go there myself.  Did your brother bring home the poems of R. M. Milnes?  I half hope that he did not, since I want to see you enjoy them for the first time, particularly a certain “Household Brownie” story, with which I fell in love when President Woods sent us the volume.

Here follow a few entries in her diary: 

May 1.—–­Holiday.  Into the country all of us, white, black, and gray.  Sue Empie devoted herself to me like a lover and so did Sue Lewis, so I was not at a loss for society.  My girls made a bower, wherein I was ensconced and obliged to tell stories to about forty listeners till my tongue ached. July 18th.—­Left Richmond. Aug. 2nd.—­Left Reading

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for Philadelphia. 5th.—­Williamstown and saw mother, sister and baby. 16th.—­President Hopkins’ splendid address before the Alumni—­also that of Dr. Robbins. 18th.—­Left Williamstown and reached Nonantum House at night.  Saw Aunt Willis, Julia, Sarah, Ellen, etc. 22nd.—­Came home, oh so very happy!  Dear, good home! 23rd.—­Callers all day, the second of whom was Mr. P. There have been nineteen people here and I’m tired! 25th.—­What didn’t I hear from Anna P. to-day! 31st.—­Rode with Anna P. to Saccarappa to see Rev. Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Smith—­took tea at the P.s and went with them to the Preparatory Lecture.  I do nothing but go about from place to place. Sept. 1st.—­Just as cold as cold could be all day.  Spent evening at Mrs. B.’s, talking with Neal Dow. 9th.—­Cold and blowy and disagreeable.  Went to see Carrie H. Came home and found Mr. P. here; he stayed to tea—­read us some interesting things—­told us about Mary and William Howitt. 10th.—­Our church was re-opened to-day.  Mr. Dwight preached in the morning and Mr. Chickering in the afternoon.

September 11th she marked with a white stone and kept ever after as one of the chief festal days of her life, but of the reason why there is here no record.  The diary for the rest of the year is blank with the exception of a single leaf which contains these sentences: 

“Celle qui a besoin d’admirer ce qu’elle aime, celle, don’t le jugement est penetrant, bien que son imagination exaltee, il n’y a pour elle qu’un objet dans l’univers.”

“Celui qu’on aime, est le vengeur des fautes qu’on a commis sur cette terre; la Divinite lui prete son pouvoir.”


* * * * *


Her Views of Love and Courtship.  Visit of her Sister and Child.  Letters.  Sickness and Death of Friends.  Ill-Health.  Undergoes a Surgical Operation.  Her Fortitude.  Study of German.  Fenelon.

The records of the next year and a half are very abundant, in the form of notes, letters, verses and journals; but they are mostly of too private a character to furnish materials for this narrative, belonging to what she called “the deep story of my heart.”  They breathe the sweetness and sparkle with the morning dew of the affections; and while some of them are full of fun and playful humor, others glow with all the impassioned earnestness of her nature, and others still with deep religious feeling.  She wrote: 

My heart seems to me somewhat like a very full church at the close of the services—­the great congregation of my affections trying to find their way out and crowding and hindering each other in the general rush for the door.  Don’t you see them—­the young ones scampering first down the aisle, and the old and grave and stately ones coming with proud dignity after them?...  I feel now that “dans les mysteres de notre nature aimer, encore aimer, est ce qui nous est reste de notre heritage celeste,” and oh, how I thank God for my blessed portion of this celestial endowment!

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Love in a word was to her, after religion, the holiest and most wonderful reality of life; and in the presence of its mysteries she was—­to use her own comparison—­“like a child standing upon the seashore, watching for the onward rush of the waves, venturing himself close to the water’s edge, holding his breath and wooing their approach, and then, as they come dashing in, retreating with laughter and mock fear, only to return to tempt them anew.”  Her only solicitude was lest the new interest should draw her heart away from Him who had been its chief joy.  In a letter to her cousin, she touches on this point: 

You know how by circumstances my affections have been repressed, and now, having found liberty to love, I am tempted to seek my heaven in so loving.  But, my dear cousin, there is nothing worth having apart from God; I feel this every day more and more and the fear of satisfying myself with something short of Him—­this is my only anxiety.  This drives me to the throne of His grace and makes me refuse to be left one moment to myself.  I believe I desire first of all to love God supremely and to do something for Him, if He spares my life.

Early in December her sister, Mrs. Hopkins, with an infant boy, came to Portland and passed a part of the winter under the maternal roof.  The arrival of this boy—­her mother’s first grandchild—­was an event in the family history.  Here is her own picture of the scene: 

It was a cold evening, and grandmamma, who had been sitting by the fire, knitting and reading, had at last let her book fall from her lap, and had dropped to sleep in her chair.  The four uncles sat around the table, two of them playing chess, and two looking on, while Aunt Fanny, with her cat on her knees, studied German a little, looked at the clock very often, and started at every noise.

“I have said, all along, that they wouldn’t come,” she cried at last.  “The clock has just struck nine, and I am not going to expect them any longer.  I knew Herbert would not let Laura undertake such a journey in the depth of winter; or, at any rate, that Laura’s courage would tail at the last moment.”

She had hardly uttered these words, when there was a ring at the doorbell, then a stamping of feet on the mat, to shake off the snow, and in they Came, Lou, and Lou’s papa, and Lou’s mamma, bringing ever so much fresh, cold air with them.  Grandmamma woke up, and rose to meet them with steps as lively as if she were a young girl; Aunt Fanny tossed the cat from her lap, and seized the bundle that held the baby; the four uncles crowded about her, eager to get the first peep at the little wonder.  There was such a laughing, and such a tumult, that poor Lou, coming out of the dark night into the bright room, and seeing so many strange faces, did not know what to think.  When his cloaks and shawls and capes were at last pulled off by his auntie’s eager hands, there came into view a serious little face, a pair of bright eyes, and a head as smooth as ivory, on which there was not a single hair.  His sleeves were looped up with corals, and showed his plump white arms, and he sat up very straight, and took a good look at everybody.

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“What a perfect little beauty!” “What splendid eyes!” “What a lovely skin!” “He’s the perfect image of his father!” “He’s exactly like his mother!” “What a dear little nose!” “What fat little hands, full of dimples!” “Let me take him!” “Come to his own grandmamma!” “Let his uncle toss him—­so he will!” “What does he eat?” “Is he tired?” “Now, Fanny! you’ve had him ever since he came; he wants to come to me; I know he does!”

These, and nobody knows how many more exclamations of the sort, greeted the ears of the little stranger, and were received by him with unruffled gravity.

“Aunt Fanny” devoted herself during the following weeks to the care of her little nephew.  Her letters written at the time—­some of them with him in her arms—­are full of his pretty ways; and when, more than a score of years later, he had given his young life to his country and was sleeping in a soldier’s grave, his “sayings and doings” formed the subject of one of her most attractive juvenile books.

A few extracts from her letters will give glimpses of her state of mind during this winter, and show also how the thoughtful spirit, which from the first tempered the excitements of her new experience, was deepened by the loss of very dear friends.

PORTLAND, December 9, 1843.

Last evening I spent at Mrs. H.——­’s with Abby and a crowd of other people.  John Neal told me I had a great bump of love of approbation, and conscientiousness very large, and self-esteem hardly any; and that he hoped whoever had most influence over me would remedy that evil.  He then went on to pay me the most extravagant compliments, and said I could become distinguished in any way I pleased.  Thinks I to myself, “I should like to be the best little wife in the world, and that’s the height of my ambition.”  Don’t imagine now that I believe all he says, for he has been saying just such things to me since I was a dozen years old, and I don’t see as I am any great things yet.  Do you?

Jan. 3d, 1844.—­Sister is still here and will stay with us a month or two yet.  Her husband has gone home to preach and pray himself into contentment without her.  Though he was here only a week, his quiet Christian excellence made us all long to grow better.  It is always the case when he comes, though he rather lives than talks his religion.  I never saw, as far as piety is concerned, a more perfect specimen of a man in his every-day life.

Do you pray for me every night and every morning?  Don’t forget how I comfort myself with thinking that you every day ask for me those graces of the Spirit which I so long for.  Indeed, I have had lately such heavenward yearnings!...  Why do you ask if I pray for you, as if I could love you and help praying for you continually and always.  I have no light sense of the holiness a Christian minister should possess.  I half wish there were no veil upon my heart on this point, that you might see how, from the very first hour of your return from abroad, my interest in you went hand-in-hand with this looking upward.

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Jan. 22d.—­We have all been saddened by the repeated trials with which our friends the Willises are visited this winter.  Mrs. Willis is still very ill, and there is no hope of her recovery; and Ellen, the pet of the whole household—­the always happy, loving, beautiful young thing—­who had been full of delight in the hope of becoming a mother, lies now at the point of death; having lost her infant, and with it her bright anticipations.  For fourteen years there had not been a physician in their house, and you may imagine how they are all now taken, as it were, by surprise by the first break death has threatened to make in their peculiarly happy circle.  Our love for all the family has grown with our growth and strengthened with our strength, and what touches them we all feel.

Feb. 8th.—­How is it that people who have no refuge in God live through the loss of those they love?  I am very sad this morning, and almost wish I had never loved you or anybody.  Last night we heard of the death of Julia Willis’ sister, and this morning learn that a dear little girl in whom we all were much interested, and whom I saw on Saturday only slightly unwell, is taken away from her parents, who have no manner of consolation in losing this only child.  There is a great cloud throughout our house, and we hardly know what to do with ourselves.  When I met mother and sister yesterday on my return from your house, I saw that something was the matter of which they hesitated to tell me; and of whom should I naturally think but of you—­you in whom my life is bound up; and, when mother finally came to put her arms around me, I suffered for the moment that intensity of anguish which I should feel in knowing that something dreadful had befallen you.  She told me, however, of poor Ellen’s death, and I was so lost in recovering you again that I cared for nothing else all the evening, and until this morning had scarcely thought of the aching, aching hearts she has left behind.  Her poor young husband, who loved her so tenderly, is half-distracted.

Oh, I have blessed God to-day that until He had given me a sure and certain hold upon Himself, He had not suffered me to love as I love now!  It is a mystery which I can not understand, how the heart can live on through the moment which rends it asunder from that of which it has become a part, except by hiding itself in God.  I have felt Ellen’s death the more, because she and her husband were associated in my mind with you.  I hardly know how or why; but she told me much of the history of her heart when I saw her last summer on my way home from Richmond, at the same time that she spoke much of you.  She had seen you at our house before you went abroad, and seemed to have a sort of presentiment that we should love each other.

But I ought to beg you to forgive me for sending you this gloomy page; yet I was restless and wanted to tell you the thoughts that have been in my heart towards you to-day—­the serious and saddened love with which I love you, when I think of you as one whom God may take from me at any moment.  I do not know that it is unwise to look this truth in the face sometimes—­for if ever there was heart tempted to idolatry, to giving itself up fully, utterly, with perfect abandonment of every other hope and interest, to an earthly love, so is mine tempted now.

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Feb. 13th.—­Mother is going to Boston with sister on Saturday, provided I am well enough (which I mean to be), as Mrs. Willis has expressed a strong wish to see her once more.  We heard from them yesterday again.  Poor Ellen’s coffin was placed just where she stood as a bride, less than eight months ago, and her little infant rested on her breast.  There is rarely a death so universally mourned as hers; she was the most winning and attractive young creature I ever saw.

Feb. 21st.—­Are you in earnest?  Are you in earnest?  Are you really coming home in March?  I am afraid to believe, afraid to doubt it.  I am crying and laughing and writing all at once.  You would not tell me so unless you really were coming, I know ...  And you are coming home!  (How madly my heart is beating! lie still, will you?) I almost feel that you are here and that you look over my shoulder and read while I write.  Are you sure that you will come?  Oh, don’t repent and send me another letter to say that you will wait till it is pleasanter weather; it is pleasant now.  I walked out this morning, and the air was a spring air, and gentlemen go through the streets with their cloaks hanging over their arms, and there is a constant plashing against the windows, of water dripping down from the melting snow; yes, I verily believe that it is warm, and that the birds will sing soon—­I do, upon my word ...  I wouldn’t have the doctor come and feel my pulse this afternoon for anything.  He would prescribe fever powders or fever drops, or something of the sort, and bleed me and send me to bed, or to the insane hospital; I don’t know which.  I could cry, sing, dance, laugh, all at once.  Oh, that I knew exactly when you will be here—­the day, the hour, the minute, that I might know to just what point to govern my impatient heart—­for it would be a pity to punish the poor little thing too severely.  I have been reading to-day something which delighted me very much; do you remember a little poem of Goethe’s, in which an imprisoned count sings about the flower he loves best, and the rose, the lily, the pink, and the violet, each in turn fancy themselves the objects of his love. [5] You see I put you in the place of the prisoner at the outset, and I was to be the flower of his love, whatever it might be.  Well, it was the “Forget-me-not.”  If there were a flower called the “Always-loving,” maybe I might find out to what order and class I belong.  Dear me; there’s the old clock striking twelve, and I verily meant to go to bed at ten, so as to sleep away as much of the time as possible before your coming, but I fell into a fit of loving meditation, and forgot everything else.  You should have seen me pour out tea to-night!  Why, the first thing I knew, I had poured it all out into my own cup till it ran over, and half filled the waiter, which is the first time I ever did such a ridiculous thing in my life.  But, dearest, I bid you good night, praying you may have sweet dreams and an inward prompting to write me a long, long, blessed letter, such as shall make me dance about the house and sing.

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Feb. 22d.—­Oh, I am frightened at myself, I am so happy!  It seems as if even this whole folio would not in the least convey to you the gladness with which my heart is dancing and singing and making merry.  The doctor seems quite satisfied with my shoulder, and says “it’s first-rate;” so set your heart at rest on that point.  I hope there’ll be nobody within two miles of our meeting.  Suppose you stop in some out of the way place just out of town, and let me trot out there to see you?  Oh, are you really coming?

To G, E. S. March 4, 1844.

I must write a few lines to tell you, my dear cousin, that I am thinking of and praying for you on your birthday.  I have but one request to offer either for you or for myself, and that is for more love to our Redeemer.  I bless God that I have no other want....  I do not know why it is, but I never have thought so much of death and of the certainty that I, sooner or later, must die, as within a few months past.  I am not exactly superstitious, but this daily and hourly half-presentiment that my life will not be a long one, is singularly subduing, and seems to lay a restraining hand upon future plans.  I am not sorry, whatever may be the event, that it is so.  I dread clinging to this world and seeking my rest in it.  I am not afraid to die, or afraid that anything I love may be taken from me; I only have this serious and thoughtful sense of death upon my mind.  You know how we have loved the Willis family, and can imagine how we felt the death of their youngest daughter, who was dear to everybody.  And Mrs. Willis is, probably, not living.  This has added to my previous feeling on the subject, which was, perhaps, first occasioned by the sudden and terrible loss of my poor friend, Mr. Thatcher, a year ago this month. [6] God forbid I should ever forget the lessons He saw I needed, and dare to feel that there is a thing upon earth which death may not touch.  Oh, in how many ways He has sought to win my whole heart for His own!

March 22d.—­I was interrupted last night by the arrival of G. L. P., after his four months’ absence in Mississippi, improved in health, and in looks, and in spirits, and quite as glad to see me, I believe, as even you, in your goodness of heart, say my lover ought to be.  But I will tell you the truth, my dear cousin, I am afraid of love.  There is no other medium, save that of the happiness of loving and being loved, by which my affections could be effectually turned from divine to earthly things.  Am I not then on dangerous ground?  Yet God mercifully shows me that it is so, and when I think how He has saved me hitherto through sharp temptations, it seems wicked, distrust of Him, not to feel that He will save me through those to come.  I know now there are some of the great lessons of life yet to be learned; I believe I must suffer as long as I have an earthly existence.  Will not then God make that suffering but as a blessed reprover to bring me nearer Himself?  I hope so.

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During the winter her health had become so much impaired, that great anxiety was felt as to the issue.  In a letter to her friend, Miss Ellen Thurston, dated April 20, 1844, she writes: 

You remember, perhaps, that on the afternoon you were so good as to come and spend with me, I was making a fuss about a little thing on my shoulder.  Well, I had at last to have it removed, and though the operation was not in itself very painful, its effects on my whole nervous system have been most powerful.  I have lost all regular habits of sleep—­for a week I do not know that I slept two hours—­and am ready to fly into a fit at the bare thought of sitting still long enough to write a common letter.  I have, however, the consolation of being pitied and consoled with, as there’s something in the idea of cutting at the flesh which touches the heart, a thousand times more than some severer sufferings would do.  I am getting quite thin and weak upon it, and I believe mother firmly expects me to shrink into nothing, though I am a pretty bouncing girl still.

Owing to some mishap the healing process was entirely thwarted, and after a very trying summer, the operation had to be repeated.  This time it was performed by that eminent surgeon and admirable Christian man, Dr. John C. Warren of Boston, assisted by his son, Dr. J. M. W. Dr. Warren told Miss Payson’s friend, who had accompanied an invalid sister to New York, that he thought it would require “about five minutes;” but it proved to be much more serious than he had anticipated.  Miss Willis, in her letter from Geneva already quoted, thus refers to it: 

My next meeting with Lizzy revealed a striking trait of her character, which hitherto I had had no opportunity of observing—­her wonderful fortitude under suffering.  I was at the seashore with my sister and family when, her little child being taken suddenly very ill in the night, I went up to Boston by an early train to bring down as soon as possible our family physician.  On arriving at his house I was disappointed at being told that he could not come at once, being engaged to perform an operation that morning.  While waiting for the return train, I called at my father’s office and was surprised to hear that Lizzy was the patient.  A painful tumor had developed itself on the back of her neck, and she had come up with her mother to Boston to consult Dr. Warren, who had advised its immediate removal.

I went at once to see her.  She greeted me with even more than her usual warmth and after stating in a few words the object of her coming to Boston and that she was expecting the doctors every moment, she added:  “You will stay with me, I am sure.  Mother insists on being present, but she can not bear it.  She will be sure to faint.  If you will promise to stay, I can persuade her to remain in the next room.”  Seeing the distress in my face at the request, she said, “I will be very good.  You will have nothing to do but

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sit in the room, to satisfy mother.”  It was impossible to refuse and I remained.  There was no chloroform then to give blessed unconsciousness of suffering and every pang had to be endured, but she more than kept her promise to “be good.”  Not a sound or a movement betrayed suffering.  She spoke only once.  After the knife was laid aside and the threaded needle was passed through the quivering flesh to draw the gaping edges of the wound together, she asked, after the first stitch had been completed, in a low, almost calm tone, with only a slight tremulousness, how many more were to be taken.  When the operation was over, and the surgeons were preparing to depart, she questioned them minutely as to the mark which would be left after healing.  I was surprised that she could think of it at such a moment, knowing how little value she had always set on her personal appearance, but her mother explained it afterward by referring to her betrothal to you, and the fear that you would find the scar disfiguring. [7]

In a letter to Mrs. Stearns, [8] she herself writes, Sept. 6: 

I had no idea of the suffering which awaited me.  I thought I should get off as I did the first time.  But I have a great deal to be thankful for.  On Wednesday, to my infinite surprise and gladness, George pounced down upon me from New York, having been quite cut to the heart by the account mother gave him.  Everybody is so kind, and I have had so many letters, and seen so many sympathising faces, and “dear Lizzy” sounds so sweet to my insatiable ears; and yet—­and yet—­I would rather die than live through the forty-eight hours again which began on Monday morning.  Somebody must have prayed for me, or I never should have got through.

An extract from another of her letters, dated Portland, September 11th, belongs here: 

I must tell you, too, about Dr. Warren (the old one).  When mother asked him concerning the amount he was to receive from her for his professional services, he smiled and said:  “I shall not charge you much, and as for Miss Payson, when she is married and rich, she may pay me and welcome—­but not till then.”  I told him I never expected to be rich, and he replied, with what mother thought an air of contentment that said he knew all about it:  “Well, we can be happy without riches,” and such a good, happy smile shone all over his face as I have seldom been so fortunate as to see in an old man.  As for the young one, he seemed as glad when I was dressed on Sunday with a clean frock and no shawl, as if it were really a matter of consequence to him to see his patients looking comfortable and well.  I am getting along finely; there is only one spot on my shoulder which is troublesome, and they ordered me on a very strict diet for that—­so I am half-starved this blessed minute.  We went to Newburyport on Monday, and stayed there with Anna till yesterday afternoon.  I think the motion of the cars hurt me somewhat, but by the time you get here I do hope I shall be quite well.

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Evening.—­ ...  I have had such happy thoughts and prayers to-night!  You should certainly have knelt with me in my little room, where, for the first time a year ago this evening, I asked God to bless us; and you too, perhaps, then began first to pray for me.  Oh, what a wonderful time it was!...  I hope you have prayed for me to-day—­I don’t mean as you always do, but with new prayers wherewith to begin the new year.  God bless you and love you!

But this period was also one of large mental growth.  It was marked especially by two events that had a shaping influence upon both her intellectual and religious character.  One was the study of German.  She was acquainted already with French and Italian; she now devoted her leisure hours to the language and works of Schiller and Goethe.  These opened to her a new world of thought and beauty.  Her correspondence contains frequent allusions to the progress of her German reading.  Here is one in a letter to her cousin: 

I have read George Herbert a good deal this winter.  I have also read several of Schiller’s plays—­William Tell and Don Carlos among the rest—­and got a great deal more excited over them than I have over anything for a long while.  George has a large German library, but I don’t suppose I shall be much the wiser for it, unless I turn to studying theology.  Did you read in Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, the “Bekenntnisse einer schoenen Seele”?  I do think it did my soul good when I read it last July.  The account she gives of her religious history reminded me of mine in some points very strongly.

The other incident was her introduction to the writings of Fenelon—­an author whom, in later years, she came to regard as an oracle of spiritual wisdom.  In the letter just quoted, she writes:  “I am reading Fenelon’s ‘Maximes des Saints,’ and many of his ideas please me exceedingly.  Some of his ‘Lettres Spirituelles’ are delicious—­so heavenly, so child-like in their spirit.” [9]

[1] Jan, 1, 1845.—­I used never to confide my religious feelings to any one in the world.  I went on my toilsome, comfortless way quite by myself.  But when at the end of this long, gloomy way, I saw and knew and rejoiced in Christ, then I forgot myself and my pride and my reserve, and was glad if a little child would hear me say “I love Him!”—­glad if the most ignorant, the most hitherto despised, would speak of Him.

[2] Later she writes:  “I have had a long talk with sister to-day about Leighton.  She claims him, as all the Perfectionists do, as one of their number; though, by the way, in the common acceptation of the word, she is not a Perfectionist herself, but only on the boundary-line of the enchanted ground.  I am completely puzzled when I think on such subjects.  I doubt if sister is right, yet know not where she is wrong.  She does not obtrude her peculiar opinions on any one, and I began the conversation this afternoon myself.”

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[3] “Oh, what a blessed thing it is to lose one’s will!  Since I have lost my will I have found happiness.  There can be no such thing as disappointment to me, for I have no desires but that God’s will may be accomplished.”  “Christians might avoid much trouble if they would only believe what they profess, viz.:  that God is able to make them happy without anything but Himself.  They imagine that if such a dear friend were to die, or such and such blessings to be removed, they should be miserable; whereas God can make them a thousand times happier without them.  To mention my own case:  God has been depriving me of one blessing after another; but as every one was removed, He has come in and filled up its place; and now, when I am a cripple and not able to move, I am happier than ever I was in my life before or ever expected to be; and if I had believed this twenty years ago, I might have been spared much anxiety.”

[4] The Right Rev. John Johns, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Virginia, was a man of apostolic simplicity and zeal, and universally beloved.  An almost ideal friendship existed between him and Dr. Charles Hodge, of Princeton. Dear, blessed, old John, Dr. H. called him when he was seventy-nine years old.  See Life of Dr. Hodge, pp. 564-569.  Bishop Johns died in 1876.

[5] Das Bluemlein Wunderschoen. Lied des gefangenen Grafen, is the title of the poem.  Goethe’s Samtliche Werke.  Vol.  I., p. 151.

[6] See appendix A, p. 533.

[7] The horrible operation is over, Heaven be praised!  It was far more horrible than we had anticipated.  They were an hour and a quarter, before all was done.  I was very brave at first and wouldn’t leave the room, but I found myself so faint that I feared falling and had to go.  Lizzy behaved like a heroine indeed, so that even the doctors admired her fortitude.  She never spoke, but was deadly faint, so that they were obliged to lay her down that the dreadful wound might bleed; then there was an artery to be taken up and tied; then six stitches to be taken with a great big needle.  Most providentially dear Julia Willis came in about ten minutes before the doctors and though she was greatly distressed, she never faints, and staid till Lizzy was laid in bed....  She was just like a marble statue, but even more beautiful, while the blood stained her shoulders and bosom.  You couldn’t have looked on such suffering without fainting, man that you are.—­From a letter of Mrs. Payson, dated Boston, Sept. 2, 1844.

[8] Her friend, Miss Prentiss, had been married, in the previous autumn, to the Rev. Jonathan F. Stearns, of Newburyport.

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[9] “Explication des Maximes des Saints sur la Vie Interieure” is the full title of the famous little work first named.  It appeared in January, 1697.  If measured by the storm it raised in France and at Rome, or by the attention it attracted throughout Europe, its publication may be said to have been one of the most important theological events of that day.  The eloquence of Bossuet and the power of Louis XIV. were together exerted to the utmost in order to brand its illustrious author as a heretical Quietist; and, through their almost frantic efforts, it was at last condemned in a papal brief.  But, for all that, the little work is full of the noblest Christian sentiments.  It pushes the doctrine of pure love, perhaps, to a perilous extreme, but still an extreme that leans to the side of the highest virtue.  After its condemnation the Pope, Innocent XII., wrote to the French prelates, who had been most prominent in denouncing Fenelon:  Peccavit excessu amoris divini, sed vos peccastis defectu amoris proximi—­i.e., “He has erred by too much love of God, but ye have erred by too little love of your neighbor.”





Marriage and Settlement in New Bedford.  Reminiscences.  Letters.  Birth of her First Child.  Death of her Sister-in-Law.  Letters.

On the 16th of April, 1845, Miss Payson was married to the Rev. George Lewis Prentiss, then just ordained as pastor of the South Trinitarian church in New Bedford, Mass.  Here she passed the next five and a half years; years rendered memorable by precious friendships formed in them, by the birth of two of her children, by the death of her mother, and by other deep joys and sorrows.  New Bedford was then known, the world over, as the most important centre of the whale-fishery.  In quest of the leviathans of the deep its ships traversed all seas, from the tumbling icebergs of the Arctic Ocean to the Southern Pacific.  But it was also known nearer home for the fine social qualities of its people.  Many of the original settlers of the town were Quakers, and its character had been largely shaped by their friendly influence.  Husbands and wives, whether young or old, called each other everywhere by their Christian names, and a charming simplicity marked the daily intercourse of life.  Into this attractive society Mrs. Prentiss was at once welcomed.  The Arnold family in particular—­a family representing alike the friendly spirit, the refinement and taste, the wealth, and the generous hospitality of the place—­here deserve mention.  Their kindness was unwearied; flowers and fruit came often from their splendid garden and greenhouses; and, in various other ways, they contributed from the moment of her coming to render New Bedford a pleasant home to her.

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But it was in her husband’s parish that she found her chief interest and joy.  His people at first welcomed her in the warmest manner on her sainted father’s account, but they soon learned to love her for her own sake.  She early began to manifest among them that wonderful sympathy, which made her presence like sunshine in sick rooms and in the house of mourning, and, in later years, endeared her through her writings to so many hearts.  While her natural shyness and reserve caused her to shrink from everything like publicity, and even from that leadership in the more private activities of the church which properly belonged to her sex and station, any kind of trouble instantly aroused and called into play all her energies.  The sickness and death of little children wrought upon her with singular power; and, in ministering aid and comfort to bereaved mothers, she seemed like one specially anointed of the Lord for this gentle office.  Now, after the lapse of more than a third of a century, there are those in New Bedford and its vicinity who bless her memory, as they recall scenes of sharp affliction cheered by her presence and her loving sympathy.

The following reminiscences by one of her New Bedford friends, written not long after her death, belong here: 

Oh, that I had the pen of a ready writer!  How gladly would I depict her just as she came to New Bedford, a youthful bride and our pastor’s wife, more than a third of a century ago!  My remembrances of her are still fresh and delightful; but they have been for so many years silent memories that I feel quite unable fully to express them.  And yet I will try to give you a few simple details.  Several things strike me as I recall her in those days.  Our early experiences in the struggle of life had been somewhat similar and this drew us near to each other.  She was naturally very shy and in the presence of strangers, or of uncongenial persons, her reserve was almost painful; but with her friends—­especially those of her own sex—­all this vanished and she was full of animated talk.  Her conversation abounded in bright, pointed sayings, in fine little touches of humor, in amusing anecdotes and incidents of her own experience, which she related with astonishing ease and fluency, sometimes also in downright girlish fun and drollery; and all was rendered doubly attractive by her low, sweet woman’s voice and her merry, fitful laugh.  Yet these things were but the sparkle of a very deep and serious nature.  Even then her religious character was to me wonderful.  She seemed always to know just what was prompting her, whether, nature or grace; and her perception of the workings of the two principles was like an instinct.  While I, though cherishing a Christian hope, was still struggling in bondage under the law, she appeared to enjoy to the full the glorious liberty of the children of God.  And when I would say to her that I was constantly doing that which I ought not and leaving

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undone so much that I ought to do, she would try to comfort me and to encourage me to exercise more faith by responding, “Oh, you don’t know what a great sinner I am; but Christ’s love is greater still.”  There was a helpful, assuring, sunshiny influence about her piety which I have rarely seen or felt in any other human being.  And almost daily, during all the years of separation, I have been conscious of this influence in my own life.

I remember her as very retiring in company, even among our own people.  But if there were children present, she would gather them about her and hold them spell-bound by her talk.  Oh, she was a marvellous storyteller!  How often have I seen her in the midst of a little group, who, all eyes and ears, gazed into her face and eagerly swallowed every word, while she, intent on amusing them, seemed quite unconscious that anybody else was in the room.  Mr. H——­ used to say, “How I envy those children and wish I were one of them!”

Mrs. Prentiss received much attention from persons outside of our congregation, and who, from their position and wealth, were pretty exclusive in their habits.  But they could not resist the attraction of her rare gifts and accomplishments.  New Bedford at that time, as you know, had a good deal of intellectual and social culture.  This was particularly the case among the Unitarians, whose minister, when you came to us, was that excellent and very superior man, the Rev. Ephraim Peabody, D.D., afterwards of King’s Chapel in Boston.  One of the leading families of his flock was the “Arnold family,” whose garden and grounds were then among the finest in the State and at whose house such men as Richard H. Dana, the poet, the late Professor Agassiz, and others eminent for their literary and scientific attainments, were often to be seen.  This whole family were warmly attached to Mrs. Prentiss, and after you left New Bedford, often referred to their acquaintance with her in the most affectionate manner.  And I believe Mr. Arnold and his daughter used to visit you in New York.  The father, mother, daughter, and aunt are all gone.  And what a change have all these vanished years wrought in the South Trinitarian society!  I can think of only six families then worshipping there, that are worshipping there now.  But so long as a single one remains, the memory of Mrs. Prentiss will still be precious in the old church.

The story of the New Bedford years may be told, with slight additions here and there, by Mrs. Prentiss’ own pen.  Most of her letters to her own family are lost; but the letters to her husband, when occasionally separated from her, and others to old friends, have been preserved and afford an almost continuous narrative of this period.  A few extracts from some of those written in 1845, will show in what temper of mind she entered upon her new life.  The first is dated Portland, January both, just after Mr. Prentiss received the call to New Bedford: 

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I have wished all along, beyond anything else, not so much that we might have a pleasant home, pleasant scenery and circumstances, good society and the like, as that we might have good, holy influences about us, and God’s grace and love within us.  And for you, dear George, I did not so much desire the intellectual and other attractions, about which we have talked sometimes, as a dwelling-place among those whom you might train heavenward or who would not be a hindrance in your journey thither.  Through this whole affair I know I have thought infinitely more of you than of myself.  And if you are happy at the North Pole shan’t I be happy there too?  I shall be heartily thankful to see you a pastor with a people to love you.  Only I shall be jealous of them.

To her friend, Miss Thurston, she writes from New Bedford, April 28th: 

I thank you with all my heart for your letter and for the very pretty gift, which I suppose to be the work of your own hands.  I can not tell you how inexpressibly dear to me are all the expressions of affection I have received and am receiving from old friends.  We have been here ten days, and very happy days they have been to me, notwithstanding I have had to see so many strange faces and to talk to so many new people.  And both my sister and Anna tell me that the first months of married life are succeeded by far happier ones still; so I shall go on my way rejoicing.  As to what your brother says about disappointment, nobody believes his doctrine better than I do; but life is as full of blessings as it is of disappointments, I conceive, and if we only know how, we may often, out of mere will, get the former instead of the latter.  I have had some experience of the “conflict and dismay” of this present evil world; but then I have also had some of its smiles.  Neither of these ever made me angry with this life, or in love with it.  I believe I am pretty cool and philosophical, but it won’t do for me at this early day to be boasting of what is in me.  I shall have to wait till circumstances bring it out.  I can only answer for the past and the present—­the one having been blessed and gladdened and the other being made happy and cheerful by lover and husband.  I’ll tell you truly, as I promised to do, if my heart sings another tune on the 17th of April, 1848.  I only hope I shall enter soberly and thankfully on my new life, expecting sunshine and rain, drought and plenty, heat and cold—­and adapting myself to alternations contentedly—­but who knows?  We are boarding at a hotel, which is not over pleasant.  However, we have two good rooms and have home things about us.  I like to sit at work while Mr. Prentiss writes his sermons and he likes to have me—­so, for the present, a study can be dispensed with.  In a few weeks we hope to get to housekeeping.  I like New Bedford very much.

To her husband she writes, June 18: 

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I can not help writing you again, though I did send you a letter last night.  It is a very pleasant morning, and I think of you all the time and love you with the happiest tears in my eyes.  I have just been making some nice crispy gingerbread to send Mrs. H——­, as she has no appetite, and I thought anything from home would taste good to her.  I hope this will please you.  Mother called with me to see her yesterday.  She looks very ill.  I have no idea she will ever get well.  We had a nice time at the garden last night.  Mr. and Miss Arnold came out and walked with us nearly an hour, though tea was waiting for them, and Miss A. was very particularly attentive to me (for your dear sake!), and gave me flowers, beautiful ones, and spoke with much interest of your sermons.  Oh, I am ready to jump for joy, when I think of seeing you home again.  Do please be glad as I am.  I suppose your mother wants you too; but then she can’t love you as I do—­I’m sure she can’t—­with all the children among whom she has to divide her heart.  Give my best love to her and Abby.  How I wish I were in Portland, helping you pack your books.  But I can’t write any more as we are going to Mrs. Gibbs’ to tea.  Mother is reading Hamlet in her room.  She is enjoying herself very much.

Mrs. Gibbs, whose name occurs in this letter, was one of those inestimable friends, who fulfill the office of mother, as it were, to the young minister’s wife.  She was tenderly attached to Mrs. Prentiss and her loving-kindness, which was new every morning and fresh every evening, ceased only with her life.  Her husband, the late Capt.  Robert Gibbs, was like her in unwearied devotion to both the pastor and the pastor’s wife.

The summer was passed in getting settled in her new home, and receiving visits from old friends.  Early in the autumn she spent several weeks in Portland.  After her return, Nov. 2, she writes to Miss Thurston: 

I was in Portland after you had left, and got quite rested and recruited after my summer’s fatigue, so that I came home with health and strength, if not to lay my hand to the plough, to apply it to the broom-handle and other articles of domestic warfare.  Just what I expected would befall me has happened.  I have got immersed in the whirlpool of petty cares and concerns which swallow up so many other and higher interests, and talk as anxiously about good “help” and bad, as the rest of ’em do.  I sometimes feel really ashamed of myself to see how virtuously I fancy I am spending my time, if in the kitchen, and how it seems to be wasted if I venture to take up a book.  I take it that wives who have no love and enthusiasm for their husbands are more to be pitied than blamed if they settle down into mere cooks and good managers....  We have had right pleasant times since coming home; never pleasanter than when, for a day or two, I was without “help,” and my husband ground coffee and drew water for me, and thought everything I made tasted good.  One

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of the deacons of our church—­a very old man—­prays for me once a week at meeting, especially that my husband and I may be “mutual comforts and enjoyments of each other,” which makes us laugh a little in our sleeves, even while we say Amen in our hearts.  We have been reading aloud Mary Howitt’s “Author’s Daughter,” which is a very good story indeed—­don’t ask me if I have read anything else.  My mind has become a complete mummy, and therefore incapable of either receiving or originating a new idea.  I did wade through a sea of words, and nonsense on my way home in the shape of two works of Prof.  Wilson—­“The Foresters” and “Margaret Lindsay”—­which I fancy he wrote before he was out of his mother’s arms or soon after leaving them.  The girls in Portland are marrying off like all possessed.  It reminds me of a shovel full of popcorn, which the more you watch it the more it won’t pop, till at last it all goes racketing off at once, pop, pop, pop; without your having time to say Jack Robinson between.

My position as wife of a minister secures for me many affectionate attentions, and opens to me many little channels of happiness, which conspire to make me feel contented and at home here.  I do not know how a stranger would find New Bedford people, but I am inclined to think society is hard to get into, though its heart is warm when you once do get in.  We are very pleasantly situated, and our married life has been abundantly blessed.  I doubt if we could fail to be contented anywhere if we had each other to love and care for.

We went to hear Templeton sing last night.  I was perfectly charmed with his hunting song and with some others, and better judges than I were equally delighted.  I had a letter from Abby last week.  She is in Vicksburg and in fine spirits, and fast returning health.

Her letters during 1846 glow with the sunshine of domestic peace and joy.  In its earlier months her health was unusually good and she depicts her happiness as something “wonderful.”  All the day long her heart, she says, was “running over” with a love and delight she could not begin to express.  But her letters also show that already she was having foretastes of that baptism of suffering, which was to fit her for doing her Master’s work.  In January she revisited Portland, where she had the pleasure of meeting Prof, and Mrs. Hopkins with their little boy, and of passing several weeks in the society of her own and her husband’s family.  But Portland had now lost for her much of its attraction.  “I’ve seen all the folks,” she wrote, “and we’ve said about all we’ve got to say to each other, and though I love to be at home, of course, it is not the home it used to be before you had made such another dear, dear home for me.  Oh, do you miss me? do you feel a little bit sorry you let me leave you?  Do say, yes....  But I can’t write, I am so happy!  I am so glad I am going home!” Early in December her first child was born.  Writing a few weeks later to Mrs. Stearns, she thus refers to this event: 

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What a world of new sensations and emotions come with the first child!  I was quite unprepared for the rush of strange feelings—­still more so for the saddening and chastening effect.  Why should the world seem more than ever empty when one has just gained the treasure of a living and darling child?

The saddening effect in her own case was owing in part, no doubt, to anxiety occasioned by the fatal illness of her husband’s eldest sister, to whom she was tenderly attached.  The following letter was written under the pressure of this anxiety: 

To Miss Thurston, New Bedford, Jan. 31, 1847

I dare say the idea of Lizzy Payson with a baby seems quite funny to you, as it does to many of the Portland girls; but I assure you it doesn’t seem in the least funny to me, but as natural as life and I may add, as wonderful, almost.  She is a nice little plump creature, with a fine head of dark hair which I take some comfort in brushing round a quill to make it curl, and a pair of intelligent eyes, either black or blue, nobody knows which.  I find the care of her very wearing, and have cried ever so many times from fatigue and anxiety, but now I am getting a little better and she pays me for all I do.  She is a sweet, good little thing, her chief fault being a tendency to dissipation and sitting up late o’ nights.  The ladies of our church have made her a beautiful little wardrobe, fortunately for me.

I had a lot of company all summer; my sister, her husband and boy, Mr. Stearns and Anna, Mother Prentiss, Julia Willis, etc.  I had also my last visit from Abby, whom I little thought then I should never see again.  Our happiness in our little one has been checked by our constant anxiety with regard to Abby’s health, and it is very hard now for me to give up one who has become in every sense a sister, and not even to have the privilege of bidding her farewell.  George went down about a week since and will remain till all is over.  I do not even know that while I write she is yet living.  She had only one wish remaining and that was to see George, and she was quite herself the day of his arrival, as also the day following, and able to say all she desired.  Since then she has been rather unconscious of what was passing, and I fervently trust that by this time her sufferings are over and that she is where she longed and prayed to be. [1] You can have no idea how alike are the emotions occasioned by a birth and a death in the family.  They seem equally solemn to me and I am full of wonder at the mysterious new world into which I have been thrown.  I used to think that the change I saw in young, giddy girls when they became mothers, was owing to suffering and care wearing upon the spirits, but I see now that its true source lies far deeper.  My brother H. has been married a couple of months, so I have one sister more.  I shall be glad when they are all married.  Some sisters seem to feel that their brothers are lost

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to them on their marriage, but if I may judge by my husband, there is fully as much gain as loss.  I am sure no son or brother could be more devoted to mother and sisters than he is.  Of course the baby is his perfect comfort and delight; but I need not enlarge on this point, as I suppose you have seen papas with their first babies.  A great sucking of a very small thumb admonishes me that the little lady in the crib meditates crying for supper, so I must hurry off my letter.

Abby Lewis Prentiss died on Saturday, January 30, 1847, at the age of thirty-two.  Long and wearisome sufferings, such as usually attend pulmonary disease, preceded the final struggle.  It was toward the close of a stormy winter’s day, that she gently fell asleep.  A little while before she had imagined herself in a “very beautiful region” which her tongue in vain attempted to describe, surrounded by those she loved.  Among her last half-conscious utterances was the name of her brother Seargent.  The next morning witnessed a scene of such wondrous splendor and loveliness as made the presence of Death seem almost incredible.  The snow-fall and mist and gloom had ceased; and as the sun rose, clear and resplendent, every visible object—­the earth, trees, houses—­shone as if enameled with gold and pearls and precious stones.  It was the Lord’s day; and well did the aspect of nature symbolise the glory of Him, who is the Resurrection and the Life.

On receiving the news of his sister’s death, her brother Seargent, writing to his mother, thus depicted her character: 

My heart bleeds to the core, as I sit down to mingle my tears with yours, my dear, beloved mother.  I can not realise that it is all over; that I shall never again, in this world, see our dear, dear Abby.  Gladly would I have given my own life to preserve hers.  But we have consolation, even in our extreme grief; for she was so good that we know she is now in heaven, and freed from all care, unless it be that her affectionate heart is still troubled for us, whom she loved so well.  We can dwell with satisfaction, after we have overcome the first sharpness of our grief, upon her angel-like qualities, which made her, long before she died, fit for the heaven where she now is....  You have lost the purest, noblest, and best of daughters; I, a sister, who never to my knowledge did a selfish act or uttered a selfish thought.  With the exception of yourself, dear mother, she was, of all our family circle, the best prepared to enter her Father’s house.

Some extracts from letters written at this time, will show the tenderness of Mrs. Prentiss’ sisterly love and sympathy, and give a glimpse also of her thoughts and occupations as a young mother.

To Mrs. Stearns, New Bedford, Feb. 17, 1847

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If I loved you less, my dear Anna, I could write you twenty letters where I now can hardly get courage to undertake one.  How very dearly I do love you I never knew, till it rushed upon my mind that we might sometime lose you as we have lost dear Abby.  How mysteriously your and Mary’s and my baby are given us just at this very time, when our hearts are so sore that we are almost afraid to expose them to new sufferings by taking in new objects of affection!  But it does seem to me a great mercy that, trying as it is in many respects, these births and this death come almost hand in hand.  Surely we three young mothers have learned lessons of life that must influence us forever in relation to these little ones!

I have been like one in the midst of a great cloud, since the birth of our baby, entirely unconscious how much I love her; but I am just beginning to take comfort in and feel sensible affection for her.  I long to show the dear little good creature to you.  But I can hardly give up my long-cherished plans and hopes in regard to Abby’s seeing and loving our first child.  Almost as much as I depended on the sympathy and affection of my own mother in relation to this baby, I was depending on Abby’s.  But I rejoice that she is where she is, and would not have her back again in this world of sin and conflict and labor, for a thousand times the comfort her presence could give.  But you don’t know how I dread going home next summer and not finding her there!  It was a great mercy that you could go down again, dear Anna.  And indeed there are manifold mercies in this affliction—­how many we may never know, till we get home to heaven ourselves and find, perhaps, that this was one of the invisible powers that helped us on our way thither.  I had a sweet little note from your mother to-day.  I would give anything if I could go right home, and make her adopt me as her daughter by a new adoption, and be a real blessing and comfort to her in this lonely, dark time.  Eddy Hopkins calls my baby his.  How children want to use the possessive case in regard to every object of interest!

I find the blanket that Mrs. Gibbs knit for me so infinitely preferable, from its elasticity, to common flannel, that I could not help knitting one for you.  If I say that I have thought as many affectionate thoughts to you, while knitting it, as it contains stitches, I fancy I speak nothing but truth and soberness—­for I love you now with the love I have returned on my heart from Abby, who no longer is in want of earthly friends.  Dear little baby thought I was knitting for her special pleasure, for her bright eyes would always follow the needles as she lay upon my lap, and she would smile now and then as if thanking me for my trouble.  The ladies have given her an elegant cloak, and Miss Arnold has just sent her a little white satin bonnet that was made in England, and is quite unlike anything I ever saw.  Only to think, I walked down to church last Sunday and heard George preach once more!

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March 3d.—­We could with difficulty, and by taking turns, get through reading your letter—­not only because you so accurately describe our own feelings in regard to dear Abby, but because we feel so keenly for you.  I often detect myself thinking, “Now I will sit down and write Abby a nice long letter”; or imagining how she will act when we go home with our baby; and as you say, I dream about her almost every night.  I used always to dream of her as suffering and dying, but now I see her just as she was when well, and hear her advising this and suggesting that, just as I did when she was here last summer.  Life seems so different now from what it did!  It seems to me that my youth has been touched by Abby’s death, and that I can never be so cheerful and light-hearted as I have been.  But, dear Anna, though I doubt not this is still more the case with you, and that you see far deeper into the realities of life than I do, we have both the consolations that are to be found in Christ—­and these will remain to us when the buoyancy and the youthful spirit have gone from our hearts.

March 12th. ...  I had been reading a marriage sermon to George from “Martyria,” and we were having a nice conjugal talk just as your little stranger was coming into the world.  G. is so hurried and driven that he can not get a moment in which to write.  He has a funeral this afternoon, that of Mrs. H., a lady whom he has visited for two years, and a part, if not all, of that time once a week.  I have made several calls since I wrote you last—­two of them to see babies, one of whom took the shine quite off of mine with his great blue-black eyes and eyelashes that lay halfway down his cheeks.

The latter part of April she visited Portland; while there she wrote to her husband, April 27: 

Just as I had the baby to sleep and this letter dated, I was called down to see Dr. and Mrs. Dwight and their little Willie.  The baby woke before they had finished their call, and behaved as prettily and looked as bright and lovely as heart could wish.  Dr. Dwight held her a long time and kissed her heartily. [2] I got your letter soon after dinner, and from the haste and the je ne sais quoi with which it was written, I feared you were not well.  Alas, I am full of love and fear.  How came you to walk to Dartmouth to preach?  Wasn’t it by far too long a walk to take in one day?  I heard Dr. Carruthers on Sunday afternoon.  He made the finest allusion to my father I ever heard and mother thought of it as I did.  To-day I have had a good many callers—­among the rest Deacon Lincoln. [3] When he saw the baby he said, “Oh, what a homely creature.  Do tell if the New Bedford babies are so ugly?” Mrs. S., thinking him in earnest, rose up in high dudgeon and said, “Why, we think her beautiful, Deacon Lincoln.”  “Well, I don’t wonder,” said he.  I expect she will get measles and everything else, for lots of children come to see her and eat her up.  Mother, baby and I spend to-morrow at your mother’s.  Do up a lot of sleeping and grow fat, pray do!  And oh, love me and think I am a darling little wife, and write me loving words in your next letter. Wednesday.—­We have a fine day for going up to your mother’s.  And the baby is bright as a button and full of fun.  Aren’t you glad?

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To Mrs. Stearns, Portland, May 22, 1847

We have just been having a little quiet Saturday evening talk about dear Abby, as we sat here before the lighting of the lamps, and I dare say I was not the only one who wished you here too.  I came up here from my mother’s on Monday morning and have had a delightful week.  I can not begin to tell you how glad I am that we are going to make you a little visit on our way home.  I do so want to see you and your children, and show you our darling little baby that I can hardly wait till the time comes.  I suppose you have got your little folks off to bed, and so if you will take a peep into the parlor here you will see how we are all occupied—­mother in her rocking-chair, with her “specs” on, studying my Dewees on Children; George toe to toe with her, reading some old German book, and Lina [4] curled upon the sofa, asleep I fancy, while I sit in the corner and write you from dear Abby’s desk with her pen.  Mercy and Sophia watch over the cradle in the dining-room, where mother’s fifteenth grandchild reposes, unconscious of the honor of sleeping where honorables, reverends, and reverendesses have slumbered before her.  How strange it seems that my baby is one of this family—­bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh!  I need not say how I miss dear Abby, for you will see at once that that which was months ago a reality to you, has just become such to me.  It pains me to my heart’s core to hear how she suffered.  Dear, dear Abby! how I did love her, and how thankful I am for her example to imitate and her excellencies to rejoice in!  Your uncle James Lewis [5] spent last night here, and this morning he prayed a delightful prayer, which really softened my whole soul.  I do not know when I have had my own wants so fervently expressed, or been more edified at family worship, and his allusion to Abby was very touching.

The following extracts from letters written to her husband, while he was absent in Maine, may be thought by some to go a little too much into the trifling details of daily life and feeling, but do not such details after all form no small part of the moral warp and woof of human experience?

To her husband New Bedford, August 27th.

I heard this morning that old Mrs. Kendrick was threatened with typhus fever, and went down soon after breakfast to see how she did, and, as I found Mrs. Henrietta had watched with her and was looking all worn out, I begged her to let me have her baby this afternoon, that she might have a chance to rest; so, after dinner, Sophia went down and got her.  At first she set up a lamentable scream, but we huddled on her cloak and put her with our baby into the carriage and gave them a ride.  She is a proper heavy baby, and my legs ache well with trotting round the streets after the carriage.  Think of me as often as you can and pray for me, and I will think of you and pray for you all the time.

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Tuesday Evening.—­You see I am writing you a sort of little journal, as you say you like to know all I do while you are away.  Our sweet baby makes your absence far less intolerable than it used to be before she came to comfort me....  I have felt all soul and as if I had no body, ever since your precious letter came this morning.  I have so pleased myself with imagining how funny and nice it would be if I could creep in unperceived by you, and hear your oration!  I long to know how you got through, and what Mr. Stearns and Mr. Smith thought of it.  I always pray for you more when you are away than I do when you are at home, because I know you are interrupted and hindered about your devotions more or less when journeying.  I have had callers a great part of to-day, among them Mrs. Leonard, Mrs. Gen. Thompson, Mrs. Randall, and Capt.  Clark. [6] Capt.  C. asked for nobody but the baby.  The little creature almost sprang into his arms.  He was much gratified and held her a long while, kissing and caressing her.  I think it was pretty work for you to go to reading your oration to your mother and old Mrs. Coe, when you hadn’t read it to me.  I felt a terrible pang of jealousy when I came to that in your letter.  I am going now to call on Miss Arnold.

Friday, Sept, 3d.—­Yesterday forenoon I was perfectly wretched.  It came over me, as things will in spite of us, “Suppose he didn’t get safely to Brunswick!” and for several hours I could not shake it off.  It had all the power of reality, and made me so faint that I could do nothing and fairly had to go to bed.  I suppose it was very silly, and if I had not tried in every way to rise above it might have been even wicked, but it frightened me to find how much I am under the power of mere feeling and fancy.  But do not laugh at me.  Sometimes I say to myself, “What MADNESS to love any human being so intensely!  What would become of you if he were snatched from you?” and then I think that though God justly denies us comfort and support for the future, and bids us lean upon Him now and trust Him for the rest, He can give us strength for the endurance of His most terrible chastisements when their hour comes.

Saturday.—­I am a mere baby when I think of your getting sick in this time of almost universal sickness and sorrow and death....  Yesterday Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Leonard took me, with Sophia and baby, to the cemetery, and on a long ride of three hours—­all of which was delightful.  In the afternoon baby had an ill-turn which alarmed me excessively, because so many children are sick, but I gave her medicine and think she will soon be well again.  Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Randall and others sent me yesterday a dozen large peaches, two melons, a lot of shell-beans and tomatoes, a dish of blackberries and some fried corn-cakes—­not an atom of the whole of which shall I touch, taste, handle, or smell; so you need not fear my killing myself.  Mrs. Capt.  Delano, where the Rev. Mr. Brock from

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England stayed, has just lost two children after a few days’ illness.  They were buried in one coffin.  Old Gideon Howland, the richest man here, is also dead.  The papers are full of deaths.  Our dear baby is nine months old to-day, and may God, if He sees best, spare her to us as many more; and if He does not, I feel as if I could give her up to Him—­but we don’t know what we can do till the time comes.  I hear her sweet little voice down stairs and it sounds happy, so I guess she feels pretty comfortable.

Sabbath Evening.—­The baby is better, and I dare say it is my imagination that says she looks pale and puny.  She is now asleep in your study, where too I am sitting in your chair.  I came down as soon as I could this morning, and have stayed here all day.  It is so quiet and pleasant among your books and papers, and it was so dull up-stairs!  I thought before your letter came, while standing over the green, grassy graves of Lizzie Read, Mary Rodman, and Mrs. Cadwell, [7] how I should love to have dear Abby in such a green, sweet spot, where we could sometimes go together to talk of her.  I must own I should like to be buried under grass and trees, rather than cold stone and heavy marble.  Should not you?

* * * * *


Birth of a Son.  Death of her Mother.  Her Grief.  Letters.  Eddy’s Illness and her own Cares.  A Family Gathering at Newburyport.  Extracts from Eddy’s Journal.

Passing over another year, which was marked by no incidents requiring special mention, we come again to a birth and a death in close conjunction.  On the 22d of October, 1848, her second child, Edward Payson, was born.  On the 17th of November, her mother died.  Of the life of this child she herself has left a minute record, portions of which will be given later.  In a letter to his sister, dated New Bedford, November 21st, her husband thus refers to her mother’s departure: 

We have just received the sad intelligence of Mother Payson’s death.  She passed away very peacefully, as if going to sleep, at half-past five on Friday afternoon.  Dear Lizzy was at first quite overwhelmed, as I knew she would be—­for her attachment to her mother was uncommonly tender and devoted; but she is now perfectly tranquil and will soon, I trust, be able to think of her irreparable loss with a melancholy pleasure even.  There is much in the case that is peculiarly fitted to produce a cheerful resignation.  Mrs. Payson has been a severe sufferer; and since the breaking up of her home in Portland, she has felt, I think, an increasing detachment from the world.  I was exceedingly struck with this during her visit here last winter.  She seemed to me to be fast ripening for heaven.  It is such a comfort to us that she was able to name our little boy! [8]

Mrs. Payson died in the 65th year of her age.  She was a woman of most attractive and admirable qualities, full of cheerful life and energy, and a whole-hearted disciple of Jesus.  A few extracts from Mrs. Prentiss’ letters will show how deeply she felt her loss.  To her youngest brother she writes: 

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How gladly I would go, if I could, to see you all, and talk over with you the thousand things that are filling our minds and hearts!  We can not drain this bitter cup at one draught and then go on our way as though it had never been.  The loss of a mother is never made up or atoned for; and ours was such a mother; so peculiar in her devotion and tenderness and sympathy!  I can not mourn that her sorrowful pilgrimage is over, can not think for a moment of wishing she were still on earth, weeping and praying and suffering—­but for myself and for you and for all I mourn with hourly tears.  She has sacrificed herself for us.

To her friend, Miss Lord, she writes, Jan. 31: 

It seems to me that every day and hour I miss my dear mother more and more, and I feel more and more painfully how much she suffered during her last years and months.  Dear Louise, I thought I knew that she could not live long, but I never realised it, and even now I keep trying to hope that she has not really gone.  Just in this very spot where I now sit writing, my dear mother’s great easy-chair used to sit, and here, only a year ago, she was praying for and loving me.  O, if I had only known she was dying then, and could have talked with her about heaven till it had grown to seeming like a home to which she was going, and whither I should follow her sooner or later!  But it is all over and I would not have her here again, if the shadow of a wish could restore her to us.  I only earnestly long to be fitting, day by day, to meet her again in heaven.  God has mingled many great mercies with this affliction, and I do not know that I ever in my life so felt the delight of praying to and thanking Him.  When I begin to pray I have so much to thank Him for, that I hardly know how to stop.  I have always thought I would not for the universe be left unchastised—­and now I feel the smart, I still can say so.  Lotty’s visit was a great comfort and service to me, but I was very selfish in talking to her so much about my own loss, while she was so great a sufferer under hers.  Since she left my little boy has been worse than ever and pined away last week very rapidly.  You can form no idea, by any description of his sufferings, of what the dear little creature has undergone since his birth.  I feel a perfect longing to see Portland and mother’s many dear friends there, especially your mother and a few like her.  I am very tired as I have written a great part of this with baby in my lap—­so I can write no more.

To Mrs. Stearns, Feb. 17, 1849.

Dear little Eddy has found life altogether unkind thus far, and I have had many hours of heartache on his account but I hope he may weather the storm and come out safely yet.  The doctor examined him all over yesterday, particularly his head, and said he could not make him out a sick child, but that he thought his want of flesh owing partly to his sufferings but more to the great loss of sleep occasioned by his

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sufferings.  Instead of sleeping twelve hours out of the twenty-four, he sleeps but about seven and that by means of laudanum.  Isn’t it a mercy that I have been able to bear so well the fatigue and care and anxiety of these four hard months?  I feel that I have nothing to complain of, and a great deal to be thankful for.  On the whole, notwithstanding my grief about my dear mother’s loss, and my perplexity and distress about baby, I have had as much real happiness this winter as it is possible for one to glean in such unfavorable circumstances. By far the greatest trial I have to contend with, is that of losing all power to control my time.  A little room all of my own, and a regular hour, morning and night, all of my own would enable me, I think, to say, “Now let life do its worst!”

I am no stranger, I assure you, to the misgivings you describe in your last letter; I think them the result of the wish without the will to be holy.  We pray for sanctification and then are afraid God will sanctify us by stripping us of our idols and feel distressed lest we can not have them and Him too.  Reading the life of Madame Guyon gave me great pain and anxiety, I remember.  I thought that if such spiritual darkness and trial as she was in for many years, was a necessary attendant on eminent piety, I could not summon courage to try to live such a life.  Of all the anguish in the world there is nothing like this—­the sense of God, without the sense of nearness to Him.  I wish you would always “think aloud” when you write to me.  I long to see you and the children and Mr. S., and so does George.  Poor G. has had a very hard time of it ever since little Eddy’s birth—­so much care and worry and sleeplessness and labor, and how he is ever to get any rest I don’t see.  These are the times that try our souls.  Let nobody condole with me about our bodies.  It is the struggle to be patient and gentle and cheerful, when pressed down and worn upon and distracted, that costs us so much.  I think when I have had all my children, if there is anything left of me, I shall write about the “Battle of Life” more eloquently than Dickens has done.  I had a pleasant dream about mother and Abby the other night.  They came together to see me and both seemed so well and so happy!  I feel perfectly happy now, that my dear mother has gone home.

To the Same, May 7, 1849.

I used to think it hard to be sick when I had dear mother hanging over me, doing all she could for my relief, but it is harder to be denied the poor comfort of being let alone and to have to drag one’s self out of bed to take care of a baby.  Mr. Stearns must know how to pity me, for my real sick headaches are very like his, and when racked with pain, dizzy, faint and exhausted with suffering, starvation and sleeplessness, it is terrible to have to walk the room with a crying child!  I thought as I lay, worn out even to childishness, obliged for the baby’s

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sake to have a bright sunlight streaming into the chamber, and to keep my eyes and ears on the alert for the same cause, how still we used to think the house must be left when my father had these headaches and how mother busied herself all day long about him, and how nice his little plate of hot steak used to look, as he sat up to eat it when the sickness had gone—­and how I am suffering here all alone with nobody to give me even a look of encouragement.  George was out of town on my sickest day.  When he was at home he did everything in the world he could do to keep the children still, but here they must be and I must direct about every trifle and have them on the bed with me.  I am getting desperate and feel disposed to run furiously in the traces till I drop dead on the way.  Don’t think me very wicked for saying so.  I am jaded in soul and body and hardly know what I do want.  If T. comes, George, at all events, will get relief and that will take a burden from my mind....  I want Lina to come this summer.  There is a splendid swing on iron hooks under a tree, at the house we are going to move into.  Won’t that be nice for Jeanie and Mary’s other children, if they come?  I wish I had a little fortune, not for myself but to gather my “folks” together with.  I shall not write you, my dear, another complaining letter; do excuse this.

This letter shows the extremity of her trouble; but it is a picture, merely.  The reality was something beyond description; only young mothers, who know it by experience, can understand its full meaning.  Now, however, the storm for a while abated.  The young relative, whose loving devotion had ministered to the comfort of her dying mother, came to her own relief and passed the next six months at New Bedford, helping take care of Eddy.  In the course of the spring, too, his worst symptoms disappeared and hope took the place of fear and despondency.  Referring to this period, his mother writes in Eddy’s journal: 

On the Saturday succeeding his birth, we heard of my dear mother’s serious illness, and, when he was about three weeks old, of her death.  We were not surprised that his health suffered from the shock it thus received.  He began at once to be affected with distressing colic, which gave him no rest day or night.  His father used to call him a “little martyr,” and such indeed he was for many long, tedious months.  On the 16th of February, the doctor came and spent two hours in carefully investigating his case.  He said it was a most trying condition of things, and he would gladly do something to relieve me, as he thought I had been through “enough to kill ten men.” ...  When Eddy was about eight months old, the doctor determined to discontinue the use of opiates.  He was now a fine, healthy baby, bright-eyed and beautiful, and his colic was reducing itself to certain seasons on each day, instead of occupying the whole day and night as heretofore.  We went through fire and water almost in trying to procure for him natural sleep. 

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We swung him in blankets, wheeled him in little carts, walked the room with him by the hour, etc., etc., but it was wonderful how little sleep he obtained after all.  He always looked wide awake and as if he did not need sleep.  His eyes had gradually become black, and when, after a day of fatigue and care with him he would at last close them, and we would flatter ourselves that now we too should snatch a little rest, we would see them shining upon us in the most amusing manner with an expression of content and even merriment.  About this time he was baptized.  I well remember how in his father’s study, and before taking him to church, we gave him to God.  He was very good while his papa was performing the ceremony, and looked so bright and so well, that many who had never seen him in his state of feebleness, found it hard to believe he had been aught save a vigorous and healthy child.  My own health was now so broken down by long sleeplessness and fatigue, that it became necessary for me to leave home for a season.  Dr. Mayhew promised to run in every day to see that all went well with Eddy.  His auntie was more than willing to take this care upon herself, and many of our neighbors offered to go often to see him, promising to do everything for his safety and comfort if I would only go.  Not aware how miserable a state I was in, I resolved to be absent only one week, but was away for a whole month.

A part of the month, with her husband and little daughter, she passed at Newburyport.  His brother, S. S. Prentiss—­whose name was then renowned all over the land as an orator and patriot—­had come North for the last time, bringing his wife and children with him.  It was a never-to-be-forgotten family gathering under the aged mother’s roof.

On my return (she continues in Eddy’s journal) I found him looking finely.  He had had an ill-turn owing to teething which they had kept from me, but had recovered from it and looked really beautiful.  His father and uncle S. S. had been to see him once during our vacation, and we were now expecting them again with his Aunt Mary and her three children and his grandmother.  We depended a great deal on seeing Eddy and Una together, as she was his twin cousin and only a few hours older than he.  But on the very evening of their arrival he was taken sick, and, although they all saw him that night looking like himself, by the next morning he had changed sadly.  He grew ill and lost flesh and strength very fast, and no remedies seemed to have the least effect on his disorder, which was one induced by teething....  For myself I did not believe anything could now save my precious baby, and had given him to God so unreservedly, that I was not conscious of even a wish for his life....  When at last we saw evident tokens of returning health and strength, we felt that we received him a second time as from the grave.  To me he never seemed the same child.  My darling Eddy was lost to me

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and another—­and yet the same—­filled his place.  I often said afterward that a little stranger was running about my nursery, not mine, but God’s.  Indeed, I can’t describe the peculiar feelings with which I always regarded him after this sickness, nor how the thought constantly met me, “He is not mine; he is God’s.”  Every night I used to thank Him for sparing him to me one day longer; thus truly enjoying him a day at a time.

An extract from a letter to Miss Lord, written on the anniversary of her mother’s death, will close the account of this year.

If I were in Portland now, I should go right down to see you.  I feel just like having a dear, old-fashioned talk with you.  I was thinking how many times death had entered that old Richmond circle of which you and I once formed a part; Mrs. Persico, Susan, Charlotte Ford, Kate Kennedy, and now our own dearest Lotty, all gone.  I can not tell you how much I miss and grieve for Lotty. [9] I can not be thankful enough that I went to Portland in the summer and had that last week with her, nor for her most precious visit here last winter.  Whenever you think of any little thing she said, I want you to write it down for me, no matter whether it seems worth writing or not.  I know by experience how precious such things are.  This is a sad day to me.  Indeed, all of this month has been so, recalling as it has done, all I was suffering at this time last year, and all my dear mother was then suffering.  I can hardly realise that she has been in heaven a whole year, and that I feel her loss as vividly as if it were but yesterday—­indeed, more so.  I do not feel that this affliction has done me the good that it ought to have done and that I hoped it would.  As far as I have any excuse it lies in my miserable health.  I want so much to be more of a Christian; to live a life of constant devotion.  Do tell me, when you write, if you have such troubled thoughts, and such difficulty in being steadfast and unmovable?  Oh, how I sigh for the sort of life I led in Richmond, and which was more or less the life of the succeeding years at home!  My husband tries to persuade me that the difference is more in my way of life, and that then being my time for contemplation, now is my time for action.  But I know, myself, that I have lost ground.  You must bear me in mind when you pray, my dear Louise, for I never had so much need of praying nor so little time or strength for it.

* * * * *


Further Extracts from Eddy’s Journal.  Ill-health.  Visit to Newark.  Death of her Brother-in-law, S. S. Prentiss.  His Character.  Removal to Newark.  Letters.

The record of the new year opens with this entry in Eddy’s journal: 

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January, 1850.—­Eddy is now fourteen months old, has six teeth, and walks well, but with timidity.  He is, at times, really beautiful.  He is very affectionate, and will run to meet me, throw his little arms round my neck and keep pat-pat-patting me, with delight.  Miss Arnold sent him, at New Year’s, a pretty ball, with which he is highly pleased.  He rolls it about by knocking it with a stick, and will shout for joy when he sees it moving.  He is crazy to give everybody something, and when he is brought down to prayers, hurries to get the Bible for his father, his little face all smiles and exultation, and his body in a quiver with emotion.  He is like lightning in all his movements, and is never still for an instant.  It is worth a good deal to see his face, it is so brimful of life and sunshine and gladness.

Her letters, written during the winter and spring, show how in the midst of bodily suffering, depression, and sorrow her views of life were changing and her faith in God growing stronger.  Three of her brothers were now in California, seeking their fortunes in the newly-discovered gold mines.  To one of them she writes, March 10th: 

I was delighted yesterday by the reception of your letter.  I do not wonder that Lotty’s death affected you as it did—­but however sharp the instruments by which these lessons come to us, they are full of good when they do come.  As I look back to the time when I did not know what death was doing and could do, I seem to myself like a child who has not yet been to school.  The deaths of our dear mother and of Lotty have taken fast hold of me.  Life is entirely changed.  I do not say this in a melancholy or repining temper, for I would not have life appear otherwise than in its true light.  All my sickly, wicked disgust with it has been put to the blush and driven away.  I see now that to live for God, whether one is allowed ability to be actively useful or not, is a great thing, and that it is a wonderful mercy to be allowed to live and suffer even, if thereby one can glorify Him.  I desire to live if it is God’s will, though I confess heaven looks most attractive when either sin, sorrow, or sickness weary me.  But I must not go on at this rate, for I could not in writing begin to tell you how different everything looks as I advance into a knowledge of life and see its awful sorrows and sufferings and changes and know that I am subject to all its laws, soon to take my turn in its mysterious close.  My dear brother, let us learn by heart the lessons we are learning, and go in their strength and wisdom all our days....  Our children are well.  Eddy has gone to be weighed (he weighed twenty-four pounds).  He is a fine little fellow.  I have his nurse still, and ought to be in excellent health, but am a nervous old thing, as skinny and bony as I can be.  I can think of nothing but birds’ claws when I look at my hands.  But I have so much to be thankful for in my dear husband and my sweet little children, and love all of you so dearly, that I believe I am as rich as if I had the flesh and strength of a giant.  I am going this week to hear Miss Arnold read a manuscript novel.  This will give spice to my life.  Warmest love to you all.

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Again, May 10th, she writes: 

It would be a great pleasure to me to keep a journal for you if I were well enough, but I am not.  I have my sick headache now once a week, and it makes me really ill for about three days.  Towards night of the third day I begin to brighten up and to eat a morsel, but hardly recover my strength before I have another pull-down, just as I had got to this point the door-bell rang, and lo! a beautiful May-basket hanging on the latch for “Annie,” full of pretty and good things.  I can hardly wait till morning to see how her eyes will shine and her little feet fly when she sees it.  George has been greatly distressed about S. S., and has, I think, very little, if any, hope that he will recover.  Dr. Tappan [10] spent Tuesday night here.  We had a really delightful visit from him.  He spoke highly of your classmate, Craig, who is just going to be married.  He told us a number of pleasant anecdotes about father.  Eddy has got big enough to walk in the street.  He looks like a little picture, with his great forehead and bright eyes.  He is in every way as large as most children are at two years.  His supreme delight is to tease A. by making believe strike her or in some other real boy’s hateful way.  She and he play together on the grass-plat, and I feel quite matronly as I sit watching them with their balls and wheel-barrows and whatnots.  This little scamp has, I fear, broken my constitution to pieces.  It makes me crawl all over when I think of you three fagging all day at such dull and unprofitable labor.  But I am sure Providence will do what is really best for you all.  We think and talk of and pray for you every day and more than once a day, and, in all my ill-health and sufferings, the remembrance of you is pleasant and in great measure refreshing.  I depend more upon hearing from you all than I can describe.  What an unconquerable thing family affection is!

She thus writes, May 30th, to her old Portland friend, Miss Lord: 

I have written very few letters and not a line of anything else the past winter, owing to the confusion my mind is in most of the time from distress in my head.  Three days out of every seven I am as sick as I well can be—­the rest of the time languid, feeble, and exhausted by frequent faint turns, so that I can’t do the smallest thing in my family.  I hardly know what it is so much as to put a clean apron on to one of my children.  To me this is a constant pain and weariness; for our expense in the way of servants is greater than we can afford and everything is going to destruction under my face and eyes, while I dare not lift a finger to remedy it.  I live in constant alternations of hope and despondency about my health.  Whenever I feel a little better, as I do to-day, I am sanguine and cheerful, but the next ill-turn depresses me exceedingly.  I don’t think there is any special danger of my dying, but there is a good deal of my getting run down beyond the power of recovery, and of dragging out that useless existence of which I have a perfect horror.  But I would not have you think I am not happy; for I can truly say that I am, most of the time, as happy as I believe one can be in this world.  All my trials and sufferings shut me up to the one great Source of peace, and I know there has been need of every one of them.

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I have not yet made my plans for the summer.  Our doctor urges me to go away from the children and from the salt water, but I do not believe it would do me a bit of good.  I want you to see my dear little boy.  He is now nineteen months old and as fat and well as can be.  He is a beautiful little fellow, we think, and very interesting.  He is as gallant to A. as you please, and runs to get a cushion for her when their supper is carried in, and won’t eat a morsel himself till he sees her nicely fixed.  George has gone to Boston, and I am lonely enough.  I would write another sheet if I dared, but I don’t dare.

What she here says of her happiness, amidst the trials of the previous winter, is repeated a little later in a letter to her husband: 

I can truly say I have not spent a happier winter since our marriage, in spite of all my sickness.  It seems to me I can never recover my spirits and be as I have been in my best days, but what I lose in one way perhaps I shall gain in another.  Just think how my ambition has been crushed at every point by my ill-health, and even the ambition to be useful and a comfort to those about me trampled underfoot, to teach me what I could not have learned in any other school!

In the month of June she went on a visit to Newark, New Jersey, where her husband’s mother and sister now resided; Dr. Stearns having in the fall of 1849 accepted a call to the First Presbyterian church in that city.  While she was in Newark news came of the dangerous illness, and, soon after, of the death at Natchez of her brother-in-law, Mr. S. S. Prentiss.  The event was a great shock to her, and she knew that it would be a crushing blow to her husband.  Her letters to him, written at this time, are full of the tender love and sympathy that infuse solace into sorrow-stricken hearts.  Here is an extract from one of them, dated July 11th: 

I can’t tell you how it grieves and distresses me to have had this long-dreaded affliction come upon you when you were alone.  Though I could do so little to comfort you, it seems as if I must be near you....  But I know I am doing right in staying here—­doing as you would tell me to do, if I could have your direct wish, and you don’t know how thankful I am that it has pleased God to let me be with dear mother at a time when she so needed constant affection and sympathy.  Yes there are wonderful mercies with this heavy affliction, and we all see and feel them.  Poor mother has borne all the dreadful suspense and then the second blow of to-day far better than any of us dared to hope, but she weeps incessantly.  Anna is with her all she can possibly be, and Mr. Stearns is an angel of mercy.  I have prayed for you a great deal this week, and I know God is with you, comforts you, and will enable you to bear this great sorrow.  And yet I can’t help feeling that I want to comfort you myself.  Oh, may we all reap its blessed fruits as long as we live!  Let us withdraw a while from everything else, that we may press nearer to God.

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We were in a state of terrible suspense all day Tuesday, all day Wednesday, and until noon to-day; starting at every footfall, expecting telegraphic intelligence either from you or from the South, and deplorably ignorant of Seargent’s alarming condition, notwithstanding all the warning we had had.  With one consent we had put far off the evil day....  And now I must bid you good-night, my dearest husband, praying that you may be the beloved of the Lord and rest in safety by Him.

The early years of Mrs. Prentiss’ married life were in various ways closely connected with that of this lamented brother; so much so that he may be said to have formed one of the most potent, as well as one of the sunniest, influences in her own domestic history.  Not only was he very highly gifted, intellectually, and widely known as a great orator, but he was also a man of extraordinary personal attractions, endeared to all his friends by the sweetness of his disposition, by his winning ways, his wit, his playful humor, his courage, his boundless generosity, his fraternal and filial devotion, and by the charm of his conversation.  His death at the early age of forty-one called forth expressions of profound sorrow and regret from the first men of the nation.  After the lapse of nearly a third of a century his memory is still fresh and bright in the hearts of all, who once knew and loved him. [11]

Notwithstanding the shock of this great affliction, Mrs. Prentiss returned to New Bedford much refreshed in body and mind.  In a letter to her friend Miss Lord, dated September 14th, she writes: 

I spent six most profitable weeks at Newark; went out very little, saw very few people, and had the quiet and retirement I had long hungered and thirsted for.  Since I have had children my life has been so distracted with care and sickness that I have sometimes felt like giving up in despair, but this six weeks’ rest gave me fresh courage to start anew.  I have got some delightful books—­Manning’s Sermons. [12] They are (letting the High-churchism go) most delightful; I think Susan would have feasted on them.  But she is feasting on angels’ food and has need of none of these things.

In October of this year Mrs. Prentiss bade adieu to New Bedford, never to revisit it, and removed to Newark; her husband having become associate pastor of the Second Presbyterian church in that place.  In the spring of the following year he accepted a call to the Mercer street Presbyterian church in New York, and that city became her home the rest of her days.  Although she tarried so short a time in Newark, she received much kindness and formed warm friendships while there.  She continued to suffer much, however, from ill-health and almost entirely suspended her correspondence.  A few letters to New Bedford friends are all that relate to this period.  In one to Mrs. J. P. Allen, dated November 2d, she thus refers to an accident, which came near proving fatal: 

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Yesterday we went down to New York to hear Jenny Lind; a pleasure to remember for the rest of one’s life.  If anything, she surpassed our expectations.  In coming home a slight accident to the cars obliged us to walk about a mile, and I must needs fall into a hole in the bridge which we were crossing, and bruise and scrape one knee quite badly.  The wonder is that I did not go into the river, as it was a large hole, and pitch dark.  I think if I had been walking with Mr. Prentiss I should not only have gone in myself, but pulled him in too; but I had the arm of a stronger man, who held me up till I could extricate myself.  You can’t think how I miss you, nor how often I wish you could run in and sit with me, as you used to do.  I have always loved you, and shall remember you and yours with the utmost interest.  We had a pleasant call the other day from Captain Gibbs.  Seeing him made me homesick enough.  I could hardly keep from crying all the time he stayed.  It seems to us both as if we had been gone from New Bedford more months than we have days.  Mr. Prentiss said yesterday that he should expect if he went back directly, to see the boys and girls grown up and married.

To Mrs. Reuben Nye, Newark, Feb 12, 1851.

Mr. Prentiss and Mr. Poor have just taken Annie and Eddy out to walk, and I have been moping over the fire and thinking of New Bedford friends, and wishing one or more would “happen in.”  I am just now getting over a severe attack of rheumatism, which on leaving my back intrenched itself in Mr. P.’s shoulder.  I dislike this climate and am very suspicious of it.  Everybody has a horrible cold, or the rheumatism, or fever and ague.  Mr. Prentiss says if I get the latter, he shall be off for New England in a twinkling.  I think he is as well as can be expected while the death of his brother continues so fresh in his remembrance.  All the old cheerfulness, which used to sustain me amid sickness and trouble, has gone from him.  But God has ordered the iron to enter his soul, and it is not for me to resist that will.  Our children are well.  We have had much comfort in them both this winter.  Mother Prentiss is renewing her youth, it is so pleasant to her to have us all near her. (Eddy and A. are hovering about me, making such a noise that I can hardly write.  Eddy says, “When I was tired, Poor tarried me.”) Mr. Poor carries all before him. [13] He is very popular throughout the city, and I believe Mrs. P. is much admired by their people.  Mr. Prentiss is preaching every Sabbath evening, as Dr. Condit is able to preach every morning now.  I feel as much at home as I possibly could anywhere in the same time, but instead of mourning less for my New Bedford friends, I mourn more and more every day.

To Mrs. Allen she writes, Feb. 21: 

I know all about those depressed moods, when it costs one as much to smile, or to give a pleasant answer, as it would at other times to make a world.  What a change it will be to us poor sickly, feeble, discouraged ones, when we find ourselves where there is neither pain or lassitude or fatigue of the body, or sorrow or care or despondency of the mind!

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I miss you more and more.  People here are kind and excellent and friendly, but I can not make them, as yet, fill the places of the familiar faces I have left in New Bedford.  I am all the time walking through our neighborhood, dropping into Deacon Barker’s or your house, or welcoming some of you into our old house on the corner.  Eddy is pretty well.  He is a sweet little boy, gentle and docile.  He learns to talk very fast, and is crazy to learn hymns.  He says, “Tinkle, tinkle leetleeverybody, and give ’tatoes to beggar boys.”  Mother Prentiss seems to thrive on having us all about her.  She lives so far off that I see her seldom, but Mr. P. goes every day, except Sundays, when he can’t go—­rain or shine, tired or not tired, convenient or not convenient.  Since my mother’s death he has felt that he must do quickly whatever he has to do for his own.

[1] “I found dear Abby still alive and rejoiced beyond expression to see me.  She had had a very feeble night, but brightened up towards noon and when I arrived seemed entirely like her old self, smiling sweetly and exclaiming, “This is the last blessing I desired!  Oh, how good the Lord is, isn’t He?” It was very delightful.  The doctor has just been in and he says she may go any instant, and yet may live a day or two.  Mother is wonderfully calm and happy, and the house seems like the very gate of heaven....  I so wish you could have seen Abby’s smile when I entered her room.  And then she inquired so affectionately for you and baby:  “Now tell me everything about them.”  She longs and prays to be gone.  There is something perfectly childlike about her expressions and feelings, especially toward mother.  She can’t bear to have her leave the room and holds her hand a good deal of the time.  She sends ever so much love.”—­ Extract from a letter, dated Portland, January 27, 1847.

[2] The late Rev. William T. Dwight, D.D., pastor of the Third Church in Portland.  He was a son of President Dwight, an accomplished man, a noble Christian citizen, and one of the ablest preachers of his day.  For many years his house almost adjoined Mrs. Payson’s, and both he and Mrs. Dwight were among her most cherished friends.

[3] A devoted friend of her father’s, one of his deacons, and a genial, warm-hearted, good man.

[4] A niece of her husband, a lovely child, who died a few years later in Georgia.

[5] Rev. James Lewis, a venerated elder and local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church, then nearly eighty years of age.  He died in 1855, universally beloved and lamented.  He entered upon his work in 1800.  During most of those fifty-five years he was wont to preach every Sabbath, often three times, rarely losing an appointment by sickness, and still more rarely by storms in summer or winter.  He lived in Gorham, Maine, and his labors were pretty equally divided among all the towns within fifteen miles round.  His rides out and back, often over

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the roughest roads or through heavy snows, averaged, probably, from fifteen to twenty miles.  It was estimated that he had officiated at not less than 1,500 funerals, sometimes riding for the purpose forty miles.  His funeral and camp-meeting sermons included, he could not have preached less than from 8,000 to 9,000 times.  He never received a dollar of compensation for his ministerial services.  Though a hard-working farmer, his hospitality to his itinerant brethren was unbounded.  In several towns of Cumberland and adjoining counties, he was the revered patriarch, as half a century earlier he had been the youthful pioneer of Methodism.  When he departed to be with Christ, there was no better man in all the State to follow after him.

[6] One of a number of old whaling captains in her husband’s congregation, in whom she was interested greatly.  They belonged to a class of men sui generis—­men who had traversed all oceans, had visited many lands, and were as remarkable for their jovial large-hearted, social qualities, when at home, as for their indomitable energy, Yankee push, and adventurous seamanship, when hunting the monsters of the deep on the other side of the globe.

[7] Two bright girls and a young mother, who had died not long before.

[8] Her sickness lasted six weeks, dating from the day of her being entirely confined to bed.  Her life was prolonged much beyond what her physicians or any one else who saw her, had believed possible.  During the last week her sufferings were less, and she lay quiet part of the time.  Friday morning she had an attack of faintness, in the course of which she remarked “I am dying.”  She recovered and before noon sank into a somnolent state from which she never awoke.  Her breathing became softer and fainter till it ceased at half-past five in the afternoon.  Oh, what a transition was that! from pain and weariness and woe to the world of light! to the presence of the Saviour! to unclouded bliss!  I felt, and so I believe did all assembled round her bed, that it was time for exultation rather than grief.  We could not think of ourselves, so absorbed were we in contemplation of her happiness.  She was able to say scarcely anything during her sickness, and left not a single message for the absent children, or directions to those who were present.  Her extreme weakness, and the distressing effect of every attempt to speak, made her abandon all such attempts except in answer to questions.  But the tenor of her replies to all inquiries was uniform, expressing entire acquiescence in the will of God, confidence in Him through Christ, and a desire to depart as soon as He should permit.  Tranquillity and peace, unclouded by a single doubt or fear, seem to have filled her mind.  There were several reasons which led us to decide that the interment should take place here; but on the following Saturday a gentleman arrived from Portland, sent by the Second Parish to remove the remains to that place, if we made no objection.  As we made none, the body was disinterred and taken to P., my brother G. accompanying it.  So that her mortal remains now rest with those of my dear father.—­Letter from Mrs. Hopkins to her aunt in New Haven, dated Williamstown, Dec. 1, 1848.

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[9] The wife of her brother, Mr. Henry M. Payson.

[10] The Rev. Benjamin Tappan, D.D., an old friend of her father’s and one of the patriarchs of the Maine churches.

[11] See appendix B, p. 534, for a brief sketch of his life.

[12] Sermons by Henry Edward Manning, Archdeacon of Chichester (now Cardinal Manning), 1st, 2d, and 3d Series.

[13] The Rev. D. W. Poor, D.D., now of Philadelphia.  He had been settled at Fair Haven, near New Bedford, and was then a pastor in Newark.





Removal to New York and first Summer there.  Letters.  Loss of Sleep and Anxiety about Eddy.  Extracts from Eddy’s Journal, describing his last Illness and Death.  Lines entitled “To my Dying Eddy.”

Mrs. Prentiss’ removal to New York was an important link in the chain of outward events which prepared her for her special life-work.  It introduced her at once into a circle unsurpassed, perhaps, by any other in the country, for its intelligence, its domestic and social virtues, and its earnest Christian spirit.  The Mercer street Presbyterian church contained at that time many members whose names were known and honored the world over, in the spheres of business, professional life, literature, philanthropy, and religion; and among its homes were some that seemed to have attained almost the perfection of beauty.  In these homes the new pastor’s wife soon became an object of tender love and devotion.  Here she found herself surrounded by all congenial influences.  Her mind and heart alike were refreshed and stimulated in the healthiest manner.  And to add to her joy, several dear old friends lived near her and sat in adjoining pews on the Sabbath.

But happy as were the auspices that welcomed her to New York, the experience of the past two years had taught her not to expect too much from any outward conditions.  She entered, therefore, upon this new period of her life in a very sober mood.  Nor had many months elapsed before she began to hear premonitory murmurs of an incoming sea of trouble.  Most of the summer of 1851 she remained in town with the children.  An extract from a letter to her youngest brother, dated August 1, will show how she whiled away many a weary hour: 

It has been very hot this summer; our house is large and cool, and above all, I have a nice bathing-room opening out of my chamber, with hot and cold water and a shower-bath, which is a world of comfort.  We spent part of last week at Rockaway, L. I., visiting a friend. [1] I nearly froze to death, but George and the children were much benefited.  I have improved fast in health since we came here.  Yesterday I walked two and a half miles with George, and a year ago at this time I could not walk a quarter of a mile without being sick after it for some days.  When

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I feel miserably I just put on my bonnet and get into an omnibus and go rattlety-bang down town; the air and the shaking and the jolting and the sight-seeing make me feel better and so I get along.  If I could safely leave my children I should go with George.  He hates to go alone and surely I hate to be left alone; in fact instead of liking each other’s society less and less, we every day get more and more dependent on each other, and take separation harder and harder.  Our children are well.

To her husband, who had gone to visit an old friend, at Harpswell, on the coast of Maine, she writes a few days later: 

On Saturday very early Professor Smith called with the House of Seven Gables.  I read about half of it in the evening.  One sees the hand of the artist as clearly in such a work as in painting, and the hand of a skilful one, too.  I have read many books with more interest, but never one in which I was so diverted from the story to a study of the author himself.  So far there is nothing exciting in it.  I don’t know who supplied the pulpit on Sunday morning.  The sermon was to young men, which was not so appropriate as it might have been, considering there were no young men present, unless I except our Eddy and other sprigs of humanity of his age.  I suppose you will wonder what in the world I let Eddy go for.  Well, I took a fancy to let Margaret try him, as nobody would know him in the gallery and he coaxed so prettily to go.  He was highly excited at the permission, and as I was putting on his sacque, I directed Margaret to take it off if he fell asleep.  “Ho!  I shan’t go to sleep,” quoth he; “Christ doesn’t have rocking-chairs in His house.”  He set off in high spirits, and during the long prayer I heard him laugh loud; soon after I heard a rattling as of a parasol and Eddy saying, “There it is!” by which time Margaret, finding he was going to begin a regular frolic, sagely took him out.

August 7th—­The five girls from Brooklyn all spent yesterday here.  They had a regular frolic towards night, bathing and shower-bathing.  Afterwards we all went on top of the house.  It was very pleasant up there.  I took the children to Barnum’s Museum, as I proposed doing.  They were delighted, particularly with the “Happy Family,” which consisted of cats, rats, birds, dogs, rabbits, monkeys, etc., etc., dwelling together in unity.  I observed that though the cats forbore to lay a paw upon the rats and mice about them, they yet took a melancholy pleasure in looking at these dainty morsels, from which nothing could persuade them to turn off their eyes.  I am glad that you got away from New Bedford alive and that you did not stay longer, but hearing about our friends there made me quite long to see them myself.  Do have just the best time in the world at Harpswell, and don’t let the Rev. Elijah drown you for the sake of catching your mantle as you go down.  I dare not tell you how much I miss you, lest you should think I do not rejoice in your having this vacation.  May God bless and keep you.

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During the autumn she suffered much again from feeble health and incessant loss of sleep.  “I have often thought,” she wrote to a friend, “that while so stupefied by sickness I should not be glad to see my own mother if I had to speak to her.”  But neither sick days nor sleepless nights could quench the Brightness of her spirit or wholly spoil her enjoyment of life.  A little diary which she kept contains many gleams of sunshine, recording pleasant visits from old friends, happy hours and walks with the children, excursions to Newark, and how “amazingly” she “enjoyed the boys” (her brothers) on their return from the pursuit of golden dreams in California.  In the month of November the diary shows that her watchful eye observed in Eddy signs of disease, which filled her with anxiety.  Before the close of the year her worst fears began to be realised.  She wrote, Dec. 31:  “I am under a constant pressure of anxiety about Eddy.  How little we know what the New Year will bring forth.”  Early in January, 1852, his symptoms assumed a fatal type, and on the 16th of the same month the beautiful boy was released from his sufferings, and found rest in the kingdom of heaven, that sweet home of the little children.  A few extracts from Eddy’s journal will tell the story of his last days: 

On the 19th of December the Rev. Mr. Poor was here.  On hearing of it, Eddy said he wanted to see him.  As he took now so little interest in anything that would cost him an effort, I was surprised, but told Annie to lead him down to the parlor; on reaching it they found Mr. Poor not there, and they then went up to the study.  I heard their father’s joyous greeting as he opened his door for them, and how he welcomed Eddy, in particular, with a perfect shower of kisses and caresses.  This was the last time the dear child’s own feet ever took him there; but his father afterwards frequently carried him up in his arms and amused him with pictures, especially with what Eddy called the “bear books.” [2] One morning Ellen told him she was going to make a little pie for his dinner, but on his next appearance in the kitchen told him she had let it burn all up in the oven, and that she felt dreadfully about it.  “Never mind, Ellie,” said he, “mamma does not like to have me eat pie; but when I get well I shall have as many as I want.”

On the 24th of December Mr. Stearns and Anna were here.  I was out with the latter most of the day; on my return Eddy came to me with a little flag which his uncle had given him, and after they had left us he ran up and down with it, and as my eye followed him, I thought he looked happier and brighter and more like himself than I had seen him for a long time.  He kept saying, “Mr. Stearns gave me this flag!” and then would correct himself and say, “I mean my Uncle Stearns.”  On this night he hung up his bag for his presents, and after going to bed, surveyed it with a chuckle of pleasure peculiar to him, and finally fell asleep in this happy mood. 

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I took great delight in arranging his and A.’s presents, and getting them safely into their bags.  He enjoyed Christmas as much as I had reason to expect he would, in his state of health, and was busy among his new playthings all day.  He had taken a fancy within a few weeks to kneel at family prayers with me at my chair, and would throw one little arm round my neck, while with the other hand he so prettily and seriously covered his eyes.  As their heads touched my face as they knelt, I observed that Eddy’s felt hot when compared with A.’s; just enough so to increase my uneasiness.  On entering the nursery on New Year’s morning, I was struck with his appearance as he lay in bed; his face being spotted all over.  On asking Margaret about it, she said he had been crying, and that this occasioned the spots.  This did not seem probable to me, for I had never seen anything of this kind on his face before.  How little I knew that these were the last tears my darling would ever shed.

On Sunday morning, January 4, not being able to come himself, Dr. Buck sent Dr. Watson in his place.  I told Dr. W. that I thought Eddy had water on the brain; he said it was not so, and ordered nothing but a warm bath.  On Thursday, January 8, while Margaret was at dinner, I knelt by the side of the cradle, rocking it very gently, and he asked me to tell him a story.  I asked what about, and he said, “A little boy,” on which I said something like this:  Mamma knows a dear little boy who was very sick.  His head ached and he felt sick all over.  God said, I must let that little lamb come into my fold; then his head will never ache again, and he will be a very happy little lamb.  I used the words little lamb because he was so fond of them.  Often he would run to his nurse with his face full of animation and say, “Marget!  Mamma says I am her little lamb!” While I was telling him this story his eyes were fixed intelligently on my face.  I then said, “Would you like to know the name of this boy?” With eagerness he said, “Yes, yes, mamma!” Taking his dear little hand in mine, and kissing it, I said, “It was Eddy.”  Just then his nurse came in and his attention was diverted, so I said no more.

On Sunday, January 11, at noon, while they were all at dinner, I was left alone with my darling for a few moments, and could not help kissing his unconscious lips.  To my utter amazement he looked up and plainly recognised me and warmly returned my kiss.  Then he said feebly, but distinctly twice, “I want some meat and potato.”  I do not think I should have been more delighted if he had risen from the dead, once more to recognise me.  Oh, it was such a comfort to have one more kiss, and to be able to gratify one more wish!

On Friday, January 16th, his little weary sighs became more profound, and, as the day advanced, more like groans; but appeared to indicate extreme fatigue, rather than severe pain.  Towards night his breathing became quick and laborious, and between seven and eight slight spasms agitated his little feeble frame.  He uttered cries of distress for a few minutes, when they ceased, and his loving and gentle spirit ascended to that world where thousands of holy children and the blessed company of angels and our blessed Lord Jesus, I doubt not, joyfully welcomed him.  Now we were able to say, It is well with the child!

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“Oh,” said the gardener, as he passed down the garden-walk, “who plucked that flower?  Who gathered that plant?” His fellow-servants answered, “The MASTER!” And the gardener held his peace.

The feelings of the mother’s heart on Friday found vent in some lines entitled To My Dying Eddy; January 16th.  Here are two stanzas: 

  Blest child! dear child!  For thee is Jesus calling;
  And of our household thee—­and only thee! 
  Oh, hasten hence! to His embraces hasten! 
  Sweet shall thy rest and safe thy shelter be.

  Thou who unguarded ne’er hast left our threshold,
  Alone must venture now an unknown way;
  Yet, fear not!  Footprints of an Infant Holy
  Lie on thy path.  Thou canst not go astray.

In a letter to her friend Mrs. Allen, of New Bedford, dated January 28, she writes: 

During our dear little Eddy’s illness we were surrounded with kind friends, and many prayers were offered for us and for him.  Nothing that could alleviate our affliction was left undone or unthought of, and we feel that it would be most unchristian and ungrateful in us to even wonder at that Divine will which has bereaved us of our only boy—­the light and sunshine of our household.  We miss him sadly.  I need not explain to you, who know all about it, how sadly; but we rejoice that he has got away from this troublous life, and that we have had the privilege of giving so dear a child to God.  When he was well he was one of the happiest creatures I ever saw, and I am sure he is well now, and that he is as happy as his joyous nature makes him susceptible of becoming.  God has been most merciful to us in this affliction, and, if a bereaved, we are still a happy household and full of thanksgiving.  Give my love to both the children and tell them they must not forget us, and when they think and talk of their dear brother and sisters in heaven, they must sometimes think of the little Eddy who is there too.

* * * * *


Birth of her Third Child.  Reminiscence of a Sabbath-Evening Talk.  Story of the Baby’s Sudden Illness and Death.  Summer of 1852.  Lines entitled “My Nursery.”

The shock of Eddy’s death proved almost too much for Mrs. Prentiss’ enfeebled frame.  She bore it, however, with sweet submission, and on the 17th of the following April her sorrow was changed to joy, and Eddy’s empty place filled, as she thought, by the birth of Elizabeth, her third child, a picture of infantine health and beauty.  But, although the child seemed perfectly well, the mother herself was brought to the verge of the grave.  For a week or two her life wavered in the balance, and she was quite in the mood to follow Eddy to the better country.  Her husband, recording a “long and most interesting conversation” with her on Sabbath evening, May 2d, speaks of the “depth and tenderness of her religious feelings, of her sense of sin and of the grace and glory of the Saviour,” and then adds, “Her old Richmond exercises seem of late to have returned with their former strength and beauty increased many-fold.”  On the 14th of May she was able to write in pencil these lines to her sister, Mrs. Hopkins: 

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I little thought that I should ever write to you again, but I have been brought through a great deal, and now have reason to expect to get well.  I never knew how much I loved you till I gave up all hope of ever seeing you again, and I have not strength yet to tell you all about it.  Poor George has suffered much.  I hope all will be blessed to him and to me.  I am still confined to bed.  The doctor thinks there may be an abscess near the hip-joint, and, till that is cured, I can neither lie straight in bed or stand on my feet or ride out.  Everybody is kind.  Our cup has run over.  It is a sore trial not to be allowed to nurse baby.  She is kept in another room.  I only see her once a day.  She begins to smile, and is very bright-eyed.  I hope your journey will do you good.  If you can, do write a few lines—­not more.  But, good-by.

Hardly had she penned these lines, when, like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, another stunning blow fell upon her.  On the 19th of May, after an illness of a few hours, Bessie, too, was folded forever in the arms of the Good Shepherd.  Here is the mother’s own story of her loss: 

Our darling Eddy died on the 16th of January.  The baby he had so often spoken of was born on the 17th of April.  I was too feeble to have any care of her.  Never had her in my arms but twice; once the day before she died and once while she was dying.  I never saw her little feet.  She was a beautiful little creature, with a great quantity of dark hair and very dark blue eyes.  The nurse had to keep her in another room on account of my illness.  When she was a month old she brought her to me one afternoon.  “This child is perfectly beautiful,” said she; “to-morrow I mean to dress her up and have her likeness taken.”  I asked her to get me up in bed and let me take her a minute.  She objected, and I urged her a good deal, till at last she consented.  The moment I took her I was struck by her unearthly, absolutely angelic expression; and, not having strength enough to help it, burst out crying bitterly, and cried all the afternoon while I was struggling to give her up.

Her father was at Newark.  When he came home at dark I told him I was sure that baby was going to die.  He laughed at me, said my weak health made me fancy it, and asked the nurse if the child was not well.  She said she was—­perfectly well.  My presentiment remained, however, in full force, and the first thing next morning I asked Margaret to go and see how baby was.  She came back, saying, “She is very well.  She lies there on the bed scolding to herself.”  I cried out to have her instantly brought to me.  M. refused, saying the nurse would be displeased.  But my anxieties were excited by the use of the word “scolding,” as I knew no baby a month old did anything of that sort, and insisted on its being brought to me.  The instant I touched it I felt its head to be of a burning heat, and sent for the nurse at once.  When she came, I said, “This child is very

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sick.”  “Yes,” she said, “but I wanted you to have your breakfast first.  At one o’clock in the night I found a little swelling.  I do not know what it is, but the child is certainly very sick.”  On examination I knew it was erysipelas.  “Don’t say that,” said the nurse, and burst into tears.  I made them get me up and partly dress me, as I was so excited I could not stay in bed.

Dr. Buck came at ten o’clock; he expressed no anxiety, but prescribed for her and George went out to get what he ordered.  The nurse brought her to me at eleven o’clock and begged me to observe that the spot had turned black.  I knew at once that this was fearful, fatal disease, and entreated George to go and tell the doctor.  He went to please me, though he saw no need of it, and gave the wrong message to the doctor, to the effect that the swelling was increasing, to which the doctor replied that it naturally would do so.  The little creature, whose moans Margaret had termed scolding, now was heard all over that floor; every breath a moan that tore my heart in pieces.  I begged to have her brought to me but the nurse sent word she was too sick to be moved.  I then begged the nurse to come and tell me exactly what she thought of her, but she said she could not leave her.  I then crawled on my hands and knees into the room, being unable then and for a long time after to bear my own weight.

What a scene our nursery presented!  Everything upset and tossed about, medicines here and there on the floor, a fire like a fiery furnace, and Miss H. sitting hopelessly and with falling tears with the baby on a pillow in her lap—­all its boasted beauty gone forever.  The sight was appalling and its moans heart-rending.  George came and got me back to my sofa and said he felt as if he should jump out of the window every time he heard that dreadful sound.  He had to go out and made me promise not to try to go to the nursery till his return.  I foolishly promised.  Mrs. White [3] called, and I told her I was going to lose my baby; she was very kind and went in to see it but I believe expressed no opinion as to its state.  But she repeated an expression which I repeated to myself many times that day, and have repeated thousands of times since—­“God never makes a mistake.”

Margaret went soon after she left to see how the poor little creature was, and did not come back.  Hour after hour passed and no one came.  I lay racked with cruel torture, bitterly regretting my promise to George, listening to those moans till I was nearly wild.  Then in a frenzy of despair I pulled myself over to my bureau, where I had arranged the dainty little garments my darling was to wear, and which I had promised myself so much pleasure in seeing her wear.  I took out everything she would need for her burial, with a sort of wild pleasure in doing for her one little service, where I had hoped before to render so many.  She it was whom we expected to fill our lost Eddy’s vacant place; we thought we had had our sorrow and that now our joy had come.  As I lay back exhausted, with these garments on my breast, Louisa Shipman [4] opened the door.  One glance at my piteous face, for oh, how glad I was to see her! made her burst into tears before she knew what she was crying for.

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“Oh, go bring me news from my poor dying baby!” I almost screamed, as she approached me.  “And see, here are her grave-clothes.”  “Oh, Lizzy, have you gone crazy?” cried she, with a fresh burst of tears.  I besought her to go, told her how my promise bound me, made her listen to those terrible sounds which two doors could not shut out.  As she left the room she met Dr. B. and they went to the nursery together.  She soon came back, quiet and composed, but very sorrowful.  “Yes, she is dying,” said she, “the doctor says so; she will not live an hour.” ...  At last we heard the sound of George’s key.  Louise ran to call him.  I crawled once more to the nursery, and snatched my baby in fierce triumph from the nurse.  At least once I would hold my child, and nobody should prevent me.  George, pale as death, baptized her as I held her in my trembling arms; there were a few more of those terrible, never-to-be-forgotten sounds, and at seven o’clock we were once more left with only one child.  A short, sharp conflict, and our baby was gone.

Dr. B. came in later and said the whole thing was to him like a thunderclap—­as it was to her poor father.  To me it followed closely on the presentiment that in some measure prepared me for it.  Here I sit with empty hands.  I have had the little coffin in my arms, but my baby’s face could not be seen, so rudely had death marred it.  Empty hands, empty hands, a worn-out, exhausted body, and unutterable longings to flee from a world that has had for me so many sharp experiences.  God help me, my baby, my baby!  God help me, my little lost Eddy!

But although the death of these two children tore with anguish the mother’s heart, she made no show of grief, and to the eye of the world her life soon appeared to move on as aforetime.  Never again, however, was it exactly the same life.  She had entered into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, and the new experience wrought a great change in her whole being.

A part of the summer and the early autumn of 1852 were passed among kind friends at Newport, in Portland, and at the Ocean House on Cape Elizabeth.  She returned much refreshed, and gave herself up cheerfully to her accustomed duties.  But a cloud rested still upon her home, and at times the old grief came back again with renewed poignancy.  Here are a few lines expressive of her feelings.  They were written in pencil on a little scrap of paper: 

  MY NURSERY. 1852.

  I thought that prattling boys and girls
  Would fill this empty room;
  That my rich heart would gather flowers
  From childhood’s opening bloom.

  One child and two green graves are mine,
  This is God’s gift to me;
  A bleeding, fainting, broken heart—­
  This is my gift to Thee.

* * * * *


Summer at White Lake.  Sudden Death of her Cousin, Miss Shipman.  Quarantined. Little Susy’s Six Birthdays. How she wrote it. The Flower of the Family. Her Motive in writing it.  Letter of Sympathy to a bereaved Mother.  A Summer at the Seaside. Henry and Bessie.

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The year 1853 was passed quietly and in better health.  In the early summer she made a delightful visit at The Island, near West Point, the home of the author of “The Wide, Wide World.”  She was warmly attached to Miss Warner and her sister, and hardly less so to their father and aunt, whose presence then adorned that pleasant home with so much light and sweetness.

Early in August she went with her husband and child to White Lake, Sullivan Co., N. Y., where, in company with several families from the Mercer street church, she spent six weeks in breathing the pure country air, and in healthful outdoor exercise. [5]

About the middle of October she was greatly distressed by the sudden death of the young cousin, already mentioned, who was staying with her during her husband’s absence on a visit to New Bedford.  Miss Shipman was a bright, attractive girl, and enthusiastic in her devotion to Mrs. Prentiss.  The latter, in a letter to her husband, dated Saturday morning, October 15th, 1853, writes: 

I imagine you enjoying this fine morning, and can’t rejoice enough, that you are having such weather.  A. is bright and well and is playing in her baby-house and singing.  Louise is still quite sick, and I see no prospect of her not remaining so for some time.  The morning after you left I thought to be sure she had the small-pox.  The doctor, however, calls it a rash.  It makes her look dreadfully and feel dreadfully.  She gets hardly a moment of sleep and takes next to no nourishment.  Arrowroot is all the doctor allows.  He comes twice a day and seems very kind and full of compassion.  She crawled down this morning to the nursery, and seems to be asleep now.  Mrs. Bull very kindly offered to come and do anything if Louise should need it, but I do not think she will be sick enough for that.  I feel well and able to do all that is necessary.  The last proof-sheets came last night, so that job is off my hands. [6] And now, darling, I can’t tell you how I miss you.  I never missed you more in my life, if as much.  I hope you are having a nice visit.  Give my love to Capt. and Mrs. Gibbs and all our friends.  Your most loving little wife.

On the following Wednesday, October 19th, she writes to her husband’s mother: 

You will be shocked to hear that Louisa Shipman died on Sunday night and was buried yesterday.  Her disease was spotted fever of the most malignant character, and raged with great fury.  She dropped away most unexpectedly to us, before I had known five minutes that she was in danger, and I came near being entirely alone with her.  Dr. M. happened to be here and also her mother-in-law; but I had been alone in the house with her all day.  It is a dreadful shock to us all, and I feel perfectly stupefied.  George got home in time for the funeral, but Dr. Skinner performed the services.  Anna will go home to-morrow and tell you all about it.  She and Mr. S. slept away, as the upper part of the house is airing; and to-night they will sleep at Prof.  Smith’s.

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The case was even more fearful than she supposed while writing this letter.  Upon her describing it to Dr. Buck, who called a few hours later, he exclaimed, “Why, it was malignant small-pox!  You must all be vaccinated instantly and have the bedding and house disinfected.”  This was done; but it was too late.  Her little daughter had the disease, though in a mild form; and one of her brothers, who was passing the autumn with her, had it so severely as barely to escape with his life.  She herself became a nurse to them both, and passed the next two months quarantined within her own walls.  To her husband’s mother she wrote: 

I am not allowed to see anyone—­am very lonesome, and hope Anna will write and tell me every little thing about you all.  The scenes I have lately passed through make me tremble when I think what a fatal malady lurks in every corner of our house.  And speaking after the manner of men, does it not seem almost incredible that this child, watched from her birth like the apple of our eyes, should yet fall into the jaws of this loathsome disease?  I see more and more that parents must leave their children to Providence.

In the early part of this year Mrs. Prentiss wrote Little Susy’s Six Birthdays, the book that has given so much delight to tens of thousands of little children, wherever the English tongue is spoken.  Like most of her books, it was an inspiration and was composed with the utmost rapidity.  She read the different chapters, as they were written, to her husband, child and brother, who all with one voice expressed their admiration.  In about ten days the work was finished.  The manuscript was in a clear, delicate hand and without an erasure.  Upon its publication it was at once recognised as a production of real genius, inimitable in its kind, and neither the popular verdict nor the verdict of the children as to its merits has ever changed.

Mrs. Prentiss, as has been stated already, began to write for the press at an early age.  But from the time of her going to Richmond till 1853—­a period of thirteen years—­her pen was well nigh idle, except in the way of correspondence.  When, therefore, she gave herself again to literary labor, it was with a largely increased fund of knowledge and experience upon which to draw.  These thirteen years had taught her rich lessons, both in literature and in life.  They had been especially fruitful in revealing to her the heart of childhood and quickening her sympathy with its joys and sorrows.  And all these lessons prepared her to write Little Susy’s Six Birthdays and the other Susy books.

The year 1854 was marked by the birth of her fourth child, and by the publication of The Flower of the Family. This work was received with great favor both at home and abroad.  It was soon translated into French under the title, La Fleur de la Famille, and later into German under the title, Die Perle der Familie.  In both languages it received the warmest praise.

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In a letter to her friend Mrs. Clark, of Portland, she thus refers to this book: 

I long to have it doing good.  I never had such desires about anything in my life; and I never sat down to write without first praying that I might not be suffered to write anything that would do harm, and that, on the contrary, I might be taught to say what would do good.  And it has been a great comfort to me that every word of praise I ever have received from others concerning it has been “it will do good,” and this I have had from so many sources that amid much trial and sickness ever since its publication, I have had rays of sunshine creeping in now and then to cheer and sustain me.

To the same friend, just bereft of her two children, she writes a few months later: 

Is it possible, is it possible that you are made childless?  I feel distressed for you, my dear friend; I long to fly to you and weep with you; it seems as if I must say or do something to comfort you.  But God only can help you now, and how thankful I am for a throne of grace and power where I can commend you, again and again, to Him who doeth all things well.

I never realise my own affliction in the loss of my children as I do when death enters the house of a friend.  Then I feel that I can’t have it so. But why should I think I know better than my Divine Master what is good for me, or good for those I love!  Dear Carrie,’! trust that in this hour of sorrow you have with you that Presence, before which alone sorrow and sighing flee away. God is left; Christ is left; sickness, accident, death can not touch you here.  Is not this a blissful thought?...  As I sit at my desk my eye is attracted by the row of books before me, and what a comment on life are their very titles:  “Songs in the Night,” “Light on Little Graves,” “The Night of Weeping,” “The Death of Little Children,” “The Folded Lamb,” “The Broken Bud,” these have strayed one by one into my small enclosure, to speak peradventure a word in season unto my weariness.  And yet, dear Carrie, this is not all of life.  You and I have tasted some of its highest joys, as well as its deepest sorrows, and it has in reserve for us only just what is best for us.  May sorrow bring us both nearer to Christ!  I can almost fancy my little Eddy has taken your little Maymee by the hand and led her to the bosom of Jesus.  How strange our children, our own little infants, have seen Him in His glory, whom we are only yet longing for and struggling towards!

If it will not frighten you to own a Unitarian book, there is one called “Christian Consolation” by Rev. A. P. Peabody, that I think you would find very profitable.  I see nothing, or next to nothing, Unitarian in it, while it is full of rich, holy experience.  One sermon on “Contingent Events and Providence” touches your case exactly.

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No event of special importance marked the year 1855.  She spent the month of July among her friends in Portland, and the next six weeks at the Ocean House on Cape Elizabeth.  This was one of her favorite places of rest.  She never tired of watching the waves and their “multitudinous laughter,” of listening to the roar of the breakers, or climbing the rocks and wandering along the shore in quest of shells and sea-grasses.  In gathering and pressing the latter, she passed many a happy hour.  In August of this year appeared one of her best children’s books, Henry and Bessie; or, What they Did in the Country.

* * * * *


A Memorable Year.  Lines on the Anniversary of Eddy’s Death.  Extracts from her Journal. Little Susy’s Six Teachers. The Teachers’ Meeting.  A New York Waif.  Summer in the Country.  Letters. Little Susy’s Little Servants. Extracts from her Journal.  “Alone with God.”

The records of the year 1856 are singularly full and interesting.  It was a year of poignant suffering, of sharp conflicts of soul, and of great peace and joy.  Its earlier months, especially, were shadowed by a dark cloud of anxiety and distress.  And her feeble bodily state caused by care-worn days and sleepless nights, added to the trouble.  Old sorrows, too, came back again.  On the 16th of January, the anniversary of Eddy’s death, she gave vent to her feelings in some pathetic verses, of which the following lines form a part: 

  Four years, four weary years, my child,
  Four years ago to-night,
  With parting cry of anguish wild
  Thy spirit took its flight; ah me! 
  Took its eternal flight.

  And in that hour of mortal strife
  I thought I felt the throe,
  The birth-pang of a grief, whose life
  Must soothe my tearless woe, must soothe
  And ease me of my woe.

  Yet folded far through all these years,
  Folded from mortal eyes,
  Lying alas “too deep for tears,”
  Unborn, unborn it lies, within
  My heart of heart it lies.

  My sinless child! upon thy knees
  Before the Master pray;
  Methinks thy infant hands might seize
  And shed upon my way sweet peace;
  Sweet peace upon my way.

Here follow some extracts from her journal.

Jan 3d. 1856.—­Had no time to write on New Year’s day, as we had a host of callers.  It was a very hard day, as I was quite unwell, and had at last to give up and go to bed.

15th—­Am quite uneasy about baby, as it seems almost impossible she should long endure such severe pain and want of sleep.  My life is a very anxious one.  I feel every day more and more longing for my home in heaven.  Sometimes I fear it amounts almost to a sinful longing—­for surely I ought to be willing to live or die, just as God pleases.

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Feb. 1st.—­I have had no heart to make a record of what has befallen us since I last wrote.  And yet I may, sometime, want to recall this experience, painful as it is.  Dear little baby had been improving in health, and on Wednesday we went to dine at Mrs. Wainright’s.  We went at four.  About eight, word came that she was ill.  When I got home I found her insensible, with her eyes wide open, her breathing terrific, and her condition in every respect very alarming.  Just as Dr. Buck was coming in, she roused a little, but soon relapsed into the same state.  He told us she was dying.  I felt like a stone, In a moment I seemed to give up my hold on her.  She appeared no longer mine but God’s.  It is always so in such great emergencies. Then, my will that struggles so about trifles, makes no effort.  But as we sat hour after hour watching the alternations of color in her purple face and listening to that terrible gasping, rattling sound, I said to myself “A few more nights like this, and I do believe my body and soul would yield to such anguish.”  Oh, why should I try to tell myself what a night it was.  God knows, God only!  How He has smitten me by means of this child, He well knows.  She remained thus about twelve hours.  Twelve hours of martyrdom to me such as I never had known.  Then to our unspeakable amazement she roused up, nursed, and then fell into a sweet sleep of some hours.

Sunday, Feb. 3d.—­The stupor, or whatever it is, in which that dreadful night has left me, is on me still.  I have no more sense or feeling than a stone.  I kneel down before God and do not say a word.  I take up a book and read, but get hold of nothing.  At church I felt afraid I should fall upon the people and tear them.  I could wish no one to pity me or even know that I am smitten.  It does seem to me that those who can sit down and cry, know nothing of misery.

Feb. 4th.—­At last the ice melts and I can get near my God—­my only comfort, my only joy, my All in all!  This morning I was able to open my heart to Him and to cast some of this burden on Him, who alone knows what it is....  I see that it is sweet to be a pilgrim and a stranger, and that it matters very little what befalls me on the way to my blessed home.  If God pleases to spare my child a little longer, I will be very thankful.  May He take this season, when earthly comfort fails me, to turn me more than ever to Himself.  For some months I have enjoyed a great deal in Him.  Prayer has been very sweet and I have had some glimpses of joys indescribable.

6th.—­She still lives.  I know not what to think.  One moment I think one thing and the next another.  It is harder to submit to this suspense than to a real, decided blow.  But I desire to leave it to my God.  He knows all her history and all mine.  He orders all these aggravating circumstances and I would not change them.  My darling has not lived in vain.  For eighteen months she has been the little rod used by my Father for my chastisement and not, I think, quite in vain.  Oh my God! stay not Thy hand till Thou hast perfected that which concerneth me.  Send anything rather than unsanctified prosperity.

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Feb. 10th.—­To help divert my mind from such incessant brooding over my sorrows, I am writing a new book.  I had just begun it when baby’s ill-turn arrested me.  I trust it may do some little good; at least I would not dare to write it, if it could do none.  May God bless it!

Feb. 14th.—­Wanted to go to the prayer-meeting but concluded to take A. to hear Gough at the Tabernacle.  Seeing such a crowd always makes me long to be in that happy crowd of saints and angels in heaven, and hearing children sing so sweetly made me pray for an entrance into the singing, praising multitude there.  Oh, when shall I be one of that blessed company who sin not!  My book is done; may God bless it to one child at least—­then it will not have been wasted time.

The book referred to was Little Susy’s Six Teachers.  It was published in the spring, and at once took its place beside the Six Birthdays in the hearts of the children; a place it still continues to hold.  The six teachers are Mrs. Love, Mr. Pain, Aunt Patience, Mr. Ought, Miss Joy, and the angel Faith.  At the end of six years they hold a meeting and report to little Susy’s parents what they have been doing.  The closing chapter, herewith quoted, gives an account of this meeting, and may serve as a specimen of the style and spirit of all the Little Susy books.

“If Mr. Pain is to be at the meeting, I can’t go,” said Miss Joy.

She stood on tip-toe before the glass, dressing herself in holiday clothes.

“Perhaps he would be willing to leave his rod behind him,” said Mrs. Love.  “I will ask him at all events.”

Mr. Pain thought he should not feel at home without his rod.  He said he always liked to have it in his hands, whether he was to use it or not.

Miss Joy was full of fun and mischief about this time, so she slipped up slyly behind Mr. Pain while he was talking and snatched away the rod before he could turn round.  Mrs. Love smiled on seeing this little trick, and they all went down to the parlor and seated themselves with much gravity.  Little Susy sat in the midst in her own low chair looking wide awake, you may depend.  Her papa and mamma sat on each side like two judges.  Mrs. Love rocked herself in the rocking-chair in a contented, easy way; and Aunt Patience, who liked to do such things, helped Miss Joy to find the leaves of her report—­which might have been rose-leaves, they were so small.

Mr. Ought looked very good indeed, and the angel Faith shone across the room like a sunbeam.

“Susy will be six years old to-morrow,” said her papa.  “You have all been teaching her ever since she was born.  We will now listen to your reports and hear what you have taught her, and whether you have done her any good.”

They were all silent, but everybody looked at Mrs. Love as much as to say she should begin.  Mrs. Love took out a little book with a sky-blue cover and began to read: 

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“I have not done much for Susy, but love her dearly; and I have not taught her much, but to love everybody.  When she was a baby I tried to teach her to smile, but I don’t think I could have taught her if Miss Joy had not helped me.  And when she was sick, I was always sorry for her, and tried to comfort her.”

“You have done her a great deal of good,” said Susy’s papa, “we will engage you to stay six years longer, should God spare her life.”

Then Mr. Pain took up his book.  It had a black cover, but the leaves were gilt-edged and the cover was spangled with stars.

“I have punished Susy a good many times,” said Mr. Pain.  “Sometimes I slapped her with my hand; sometimes I struck her with my rod; sometimes I made her sick; but I never did any of these things because I was angry with her or liked to hurt her.  I only came when Mrs. Love called me.”

“You have taught her excellent lessons,” said Susy’s papa, “if it had not been for you she would be growing up disobedient and selfish.  You may stay six years longer.”

Then Mr. Pain made a low bow and said he was thinking of going away and sending his brother, Mr. Sorrow, and his sister, Mrs. Disappointment, to take his place.”

“Oh, no!” cried Susy’s mamma, “not yet, not yet!  Susy is still so little!”

Then Mr. Pain said he would stay without a rod, as Susy was now too old to be whipped.

Then Miss Joy took up her book with its rainbow cover and tried to read.  But she laughed so heartily all the time, and her leaves kept flying out of her hands at such a rate, that it was not possible to understand what she was saying.  It was all about clapping hands and running races, and picking flowers and having a good time.  Everybody laughed just because she laughed, and Susy’s papa could hardly keep his face grave long enough to say: 

“You have done more good than tongue can tell.  You have made her just such a merry, happy, laughing little creature as I wanted her to be.  You must certainly stay six years longer.”

Then Mr. Ought drew forth his book.  It had silver covers and its leaves were of the most delicate tissue.

“I have taught little Susy to be good,” said he.  “Never to touch what is not hers; never to speak a word that is not true; never to have a thought she would not like the great and holy God to see.  If I stay six years longer I can teach her a great deal more, for she begins now to understand my faintest whisper.  She is such a little girl as I love to live with.”

Then Susy turned rosy-red with pleasure, and her papa and mamma got up and shook hands with Mr. Ought and begged him never, never to leave their darling child as long as she lived.

It was now the turn of Aunt Patience.  Her book had covers wrought by her own hands in grave and gay colors well mingled together.

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“When I first came here,” she said, “Susy used to cry a great deal whenever she was hurt or punished.  When she was sick she was very hard to please.  When she sat down to learn to sew and to read and to write, she would break her thread in anger, or throw her book on the floor, or declare she never could learn.  But now she has left off crying when she is hurt, and tries to bear the pain quietly.  When she is sick she does not fret or complain, but takes her medicine without a word.  When she is sewing she does not twitch her thread into knots, and when she is writing she writes slowly and carefully.  I have rocked her to sleep a thousand times.  I have been shut up in a closet with her again and again, and I hope I have done her some good and taught her some useful lessons.”

“Indeed you have, Aunt Patience,” said Susy’s papa, “but Susy is not yet perfect.  We shall need you six years longer.”

And now the little angel Faith opened his golden book and began to read: 

“I have taught Susy that there is another world besides this, and have told her that it is her real home, and what a beautiful and happy one it is.  I have told her a great deal about Jesus and the holy angels.  I do not know much myself.  I am not very old, but if I stay here six years longer I shall grow wiser and I will teach Susy all I learn, and we will pray together every morning and every night, till at last she loves the Lord Jesus with all her heart and soul and mind and strength.”

Then Susy’s papa and mamma looked at each other and smiled, and they both said: 

“Oh, beautiful angel, never leave her!”

And the angel answered: 

“I will stay with her as long as she lives, and will never leave her till I leave her at the very door of heaven.”

Then the teachers began to put up their books, and Susy’s papa and mamma kissed her, and said: 

“We have had a great deal of comfort in our little daughter; and, with God’s blessing, we shall see her grow up a loving, patient, and obedient child—­full of joy and peace and rich in faith and good works.”

So they all bade each other good-night and went thankfully to bed.

The next entry in the journal notes a trait of character, or rather of temperament, which often excited the wonder and also the anxiety of her friends.  It caused her no little discomfort, but she could never withstand its power.

March 21st.—­I have been busy with a sewing fit and find the least interesting piece of work I can get hold of, as great a temptation as the most charming.  For if its charm does not absorb my time and thoughts, the eager haste to finish and get it out of the way, does.  This is my life.  I either am stupefied by ill-health or sorrow, so as to feel no interest in anything, or am absorbed in whatever business, work or pleasure I have on hand.

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But neither anxiety about her child, household cares, or any work she had in hand, so absorbed her thoughts as to render her insensible to the sorrows and trials of others.  On the contrary, they served rather to call forth and intensify her kindly sympathies.  A single case will illustrate this.  A poor little girl—­one of those waifs of humanity in which a great city abounds—­had been commended to her by a friend.  In a letter to this friend, dated March 17, 1856, she writes: 

That little girl came, petticoat and all; we gave her some breakfast, and I then went down with her to Avenue A. On the way, she told me that you gave her some money.  To my great sorrow we found, on reaching the school, that they could not take another one, as they were already overflowing.  As we came out, I saw that the poor little soul was just ready to burst into tears, and said to her “Now you’re disappointed, I know!” whereupon she actually looked up into my face and smiled.  You know I was afraid I never should make her smile, she looked so forlorn.  I brought her home to get some books, as she said she could read, and she is to come again to-morrow.  A lady to whom I told the whole story, sent me some stockings that would about go on to her big toe; however, they will be nice for her little sister.  The weather has been so mild that I thought it would not be worth while to make her a cloak or anything of that sort; but next fall I shall see that she is comfortably clad, if she behaves as well as she did the day she was here.  Oh, dear! what a drop in the great bucket of New York misery, one such child is!  Yet somebody must look out for the drops, and I am only too thankful to seize on this one.

In June she went, with the children, to Westport, Conn., where in rural quiet and seclusion she passed the next three months.  Here are some extracts from her letters, written from that place: 

Westport, June 25, 1856.

We had a most comfortable time getting here; both the children enjoyed the ride, and baby seemed unusually bright.  Judge Betts was very attentive and kind to us.  Mrs. G. grows more and more pleasant every day.  We have plenty of good food, but she worries because I do not eat more.  You know I never was famous for eating meat, and country dinners are not tempting.  You can’t think how we enjoy seeing the poultry fed.  There are a hundred and eighty hens and chickens, and you should see baby throw her little hand full of corn to them.  We went strawberrying yesterday, all of us, and the way she was poked through bars and lifted over stone-walls would have amused you.  She is already quite sunburnt; but I think she is looking sweetly.  I find myself all the time peeping out of the window, thinking every step is yours, or that every wagon holds a letter for me.

To Miss A. H. Woolsey, Westport, June 27.

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Mr. P. enclosed your kind note in one of his own, after first reading it himself, if you ever heard of such a man.  I had to laugh all alone while reading it, which was not a little provoking.  We are having very nice times here indeed.  Breakfast at eight, dinner at half-past twelve, and tea at half-past six, giving us an afternoon of unprecedented length for such lounging, strawberrying or egg-hunting as happens to be on the carpet.  The air is perfectly loaded with the fragrance of clover blossoms and fresh hay.  I never saw such clover in my life; roses are nothing in comparison.  I only want an old nag and a wagon, so as to drive a load of children about these lovely regions, and that I hope every moment to attain.  To be sure, it would be amazingly convenient if I had a table, and didn’t have to sit on the floor to write upon a trunk; but then one can’t have everything, and I am almost too comfortable with what I have.  A. is busy reading Southey to her “children”; baby is off searching for eggs, and her felicity reached its height when she found an ambitious hen had laid two in her carriage, which little thought what it was coming to the country for.  I think the dear child already looks better; she lives in the open air and enjoys everything.

Mrs. Buck lives about half a mile below us, and we run back and forth many times a day.  I have already caught the country fashion of rushing to the windows the moment a wheel or an opening gate is heard.  I fancy everybody is bringing me a letter or else want to send one to the office, and the only way to do that is to scream at passers-by and ask them if they are going that way.  If you hear that I am often seen driving a flock of geese down the road, or climbing stone walls, or creeping through bar fences, you needn’t believe a word of it, for I am a pattern of propriety, and pride myself on my dignity.  I hope, now you have begun so charmingly, that you will write again.  You know what letters are in the country.

To her Husband, Westport, June 27.

I wonder where you are this lovely morning?  Having a nice time somewhere, I do hope, for it is too fine a day to be lost.  If you want to know where I am, why I’m sitting at the window writing on a trunk that I have just lifted into a chair, in order to make a table.  For table there, is none in this room, and how am I to write a book without one?  If ever I get down to the village, I hope to buy, beg, borrow or steal one, and until that time am putting off beginning my new Little Susy. [7] That note from Miss Warner, by the by, spoke so enthusiastically of the Six Teachers that I felt compensated for the mortification of hearing -------- call it a “nice” book.  You will be sorry to hear that I have no prospect of getting a horse.  I am quite disappointed, as besides the pleasure of driving our children, I hoped to give Mrs. Buck and the boys a share in it.  Only to think of her bringing up from the city a beefsteak

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for baby, and proposing that the doctor should send a small piece for her every day!  Thank you, darling, for your proposal about the Ocean House.  I trust no such change will be needful.  We are all comfortable now, the weather is delicious, and there are so many pretty walks about here, that I am only afraid I shall be too well off.  Everything about the country is charming to me, and I never get tired of it.  The first few days nurse seemed a good deal out of sorts; but I must expect some such little vexations; of course, I can not have perfection, and for dear baby’s sake I shall try to exercise all the prudence and forbearance I can.

Sunday.—­We went to church this morning and heard a most instructive and, I thought, superior sermon from Mr. Burr of Weston, on progress in religious knowledge.  He used the very illustration about the cavern and the point of light that you did.

July 7th.—­We all drove to the beach on Saturday.  It was just the very day for such a trip, and baby was enchanted.  She sat right down and began to gather stones and shells, as if she had the week before her.  We were gone three hours and came home by way of the village, quite in the mood for supper.  Yesterday we had a pleasant service; Mr. Atkinson appears to be a truly devout, heavenly man to whom I felt my heart knit at the outset on this account, I am taking great delight in reading the Memoir of Miss Allibone. [8] How I wish I had a friend of so heavenly a temper!  I fear my new Little Susy will come out at the little end of the horn.  I am sure it won’t be so good as the others.  It is more than one quarter done.

July 21st.—­What do you think I did this forenoon?  Why, I finished Little Susy and shall lay it aside for some days, when I shall read it over, correct, and pack it off out of the way.  Yes, I wish you would bring my German Hymn Book.  I am so glad you liked the hymns I had marked! [9] And do get well so as not to have to leave off preaching the Gospel.  My heart dies within me whenever I think of your leaving the ministry.  Every day I live, it appears to me that the office of a Christian pastor and teacher is the best in the world.  I shall not be able to write you a word to-morrow, as we are to go to Greenfield Hill to Miss Murray’s, and you must take to-morrow’s love to-night—­if you think you can stand so much at once.  God be with you and bless you.

July 30th.—­Baby and I have just been having a great frolic.  She was so pleased with your message that she caught up your letter and kissed it, which I think very remarkable in a child who, I am sure, never saw such a thing done.  A. seems well and happy, and is as good as I think we ought to expect.  I see more and more every day, that if there ever was such a thing as human perfection, it was as long ago as David’s time when, as he says, he saw the “end” of it.  How very kind the W.’s have been!

August 3d.—­I got hold of Dr. Boardman’s “Bible in the Family,” at the Bucks yesterday, and brought it home to read.  I like it very much.  There is a vein of humor running through it which, subdued as it is, must have awakened a good many smiles.  He quotes some lines of Coleridge, which I wonder I did not have as a motto for Susy’s Teachers: 

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  Love, Hope and Patience, these must be thy graces,
  And in thine own heart let them first keep school.

To Miss Mary B. Shipman, Westport, August 11.

Dr. Buck, who has seen her twice since we came here, thinks baby wonderfully improved, and says every day she lives increases her chance of life.  I have been exceedingly encouraged by all he has said, and feel a great load off my heart.  Last Friday, on fifteen minutes’ notice, I packed up and went home, taking nurse and biddies, of course.  I was so restless and so perfectly possessed to go to meet George, that I could not help it.  We went in the six o’clock train, as it was after five when I was “taken” with the fit that started me off; got home in a soft rain, and to our great surprise and delight found G. there, he having got homesick at Saratoga, and just rushed to New York on his way here.  We had a great rejoicing together, you may depend, and I had a charming visit of nearly three days.  We got back on Monday night, rather tired, but none of us at all the worse for the expedition.  Mr. P. sits here reading the Tribune, and A. is reading “Fremont’s Life.”  She is as brown as an Indian and about as wild.

A few passages from her journal will also throw light upon this period: 

June 30th.—­I am finding this solitude and leisure very sweet and precious; God grant it may bear the rich and abundant fruit it ought to do!  Communion with Him is such a blessing, here at home in my own room, and out in the silent woods and on the wayside.  Saturday, especially, I had a long walk full of blissful thoughts of Him whom I do believe I love—­oh, that I loved Him better!—­and in the evening Mrs. Buck came and we had some very sweet beginnings of what will, I trust, ripen into most profitable Christian communion.  My heart delights in the society of those who love Him.  Yesterday I had a more near access to God in prayer than usual, so that during the whole service at church I could hardly repress tears of joy and gratitude.

July 7th.—­I do trust God’s blessed, blessed Spirit is dealing faithfully with my soul—­searching and sifting it, revealing it somewhat to itself and preparing it for the indwelling of Christ.  This I do heartily desire.  Oh, God! search me and know me, and show me my own guilty, poor, meagre soul, that I may turn from it, humbled and ashamed and penitent, to my blessed Saviour.  How very, very thankful I feel for this seclusion and leisure; this quiet room where I can seek my God and pray and praise, unseen by any human eye—­and which sometimes seems like the very gate of heaven.

July 23d.—­This is my dear little baby’s birthday.  I was not able to sleep last night at all, but at last got up and prayed specially for her.  God has spared her two years; I can hardly believe it!  Precious years of discipline they have been, for which I do thank Him.  I have prayed much for her to-day, and with some faith, that if her life is spared it will be for His glory.  How far rather would I let her go this moment, than grow up without loving Him!  Precious little creature!

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27th.—­This has been one of the most oppressive days I ever knew.  I went to church, however, and enjoyed all the services unusually.  As we rode along and I saw the grain ripe for the harvest, I said to myself, “God gathers in His harvest as soon as it is ripe, and if I devote myself to Him and pray much and turn entirely from the world I shall ripen, and so the sooner get where I am all the time yearning and longing to go!” I fear this was a merely selfish thought, but I do not know.  This world seems less and less homelike every day I live.  The more I pray and meditate on heaven and my Saviour and saints who have crossed the flood, the stronger grows my desire to be bidden to depart hence and go up to that sinless, blessed abode.  Not that I forget my comforts, my mercies here; they are manifold; I know they are.  But Christ appears so precious; sin so dreadful! so dreadful!  To-day I gave way to pride and irritation, and my agony on account of it outweighs weeks of merely earthly felicity.  The idea of a Christian as he should be, and the reality of most Christians—­particularly myself—­why, it almost makes me shudder; my only comfort is, in heaven, I can not sin!  In heaven I shall see Christ, and see Him as He is, and praise and honor Him as I never do and never shall do here.  And yet I know my dear little ones need me, poor and imperfect a mother as I am; and I pray every hour to be made willing to wait for their sakes.  For at the longest it will not be long.  Oh, I do believe it is the sin I dread and not the suffering of life—­but I know not; I may be deluded.  My love to my Master seems to me very shallow and contemptible.  I am astonished that I love anything else.  Oh, that He would this moment come down into this room and tell me I never, never, shall grieve Him again!

Some verses entitled “Alone with God,” belong here: 

  Into my closet fleeing, as the dove
    Doth homeward flee,
  I haste away to ponder o’er Thy love
     Alone with Thee!

  In the dim wood, by human ear unheard,
    Joyous and free,
  Lord!  I adore Thee, feasting on Thy word,
    Alone with Thee!

  Amid the busy city, thronged and gay,
    But One I see,
  Tasting sweet peace, as unobserved I pray
    Alone with Thee!

  Oh, sweetest life!  Life hid with Christ in God! 
    So making me
  At home, and by the wayside, and abroad,
    Alone with Thee!

    WESTPORT, August 22, 1856.

* * * * *


Ready for new Trials.  Dangerous Illness.  Extracts from her Journal.  Visit to Greenwood.  Sabbath Meditations.  Birth of another Son.  Her Husband resigns his pastoral Charge.  Voyage to Europe.

The summer at Westport was so beneficial to the baby and so full both of bodily and spiritual refreshment to herself, that on returning to town, she resumed her home tasks with unwonted ease and comfort.  The next entry in her journal alludes to this: 

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November 27th.—­Two months, and not a word in my journal!  I have done far more with my needle and my feet than with my pen.  One comes home from the country to a good many cares, and they are worldly cares, too, about eating and about wearing.  I hope the worst of mine are over now and that I shall have more leisure.  But no, I forget that now comes the dreaded, dreaded experience of weaning baby.  But what then?  I have had a good rest this fall.  Have slept unusually well; why, only think, some nights not waking once—­and some nights only a few times; and then we have had no sickness; baby better—­all better.  Now I ought to be willing to have the trials I need so much, seeing I have had such a rest.  And heaven! heaven! let me rest on that precious word.  Heaven is at the end and God is there.

Early in March, 1857, she was taken very ill and continued so until May.  For some weeks her recovery seemed hardly possible.  She felt assured her hour had come and was eager to go.  All the yearnings of her heart, during many years, seemed on the point of being gratified.  The next entry in her journal refers to this illness: 

Sunday, May 24th, 1857.—­Just reading over the last record how ashamed I felt of my faithlessness!  To see dear baby so improved by the very change I dreaded, and to hear her pretty, cheerful prattle, and to find in her such a source of joy and comfort—­what undeserved, what unlooked-for mercies!  But like a physician who changes his remedies as he sees occasion, and who forbears using all his severe ones at once, my Father first relieved me from my wearing care and pain about this dear child, and then put me under new discipline.  It is now nearly six months since I have been in usual health, and eight weeks of great prostration and suffering have been teaching me many needed lessons.  Now, contrary to my hopes and expectations, I find myself almost well again.  At first, having got my heart set toward heaven and after fancying myself almost there, I felt disappointed to find its gates still shut against me. [10]

But God was very good to me and taught me to yield in this point to His wiser and better will; He made me, as far as I know, as peaceful in the prospect of living as joyful in the prospect of dying.  Heaven did, indeed, look very attractive when I thought myself so near it; I pictured myself as no longer a sinner but a blood-washed saint; I thought I shall soon see Him whom my soul loveth, and see Him as He is; I shall never wound, never grieve Him again, and all my companions will be they who worship Him and adore Him.  But not yet am I there!  Alas, not yet a saint!  My soul is oppressed, now that health is returning, to find old habits of sin returning too, and this monster Self usurping God’s place, as of old, and pride and love of ease and all the infirmities of the flesh thick upon me.  After being encompassed with mercies for two months, having every comfort this world could offer for my alleviation, I wonder at myself that I can be anything but a meek, docile child, profiting by the Master’s discipline, sensible of the tenderness that went hand-in-hand with every stroke, and walking softly before God and man!  But I am indeed a wayward child and in need of many more stripes.  May I be made willing and thankful to bear them.

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Indeed, I do thank my dear Master that He does not let me alone, and that He has let me suffer so much; it has been a rich experience, this long illness, and I do trust He will so sanctify it that I shall have cause to rejoice over it all the rest of my life.  Now may I return patiently to all the duties that lie in my sphere.  May I not forget how momentous a thing death appeared when seen face to face, but be ever making ready for its approach.  And may the glory of God be, as it never yet has been, my chief end.  My love to Him seems to me so very feeble and fluctuating.  Satan and self keep up a continual struggle to get the victory.  But God is stronger than either.  He must and will prevail, and at last, and in a time far better than any I can suggest, He will open those closed gates and let me enter in to go no more out, and then “I shall never, never sin.”

As might be inferred from this record, she was at this time in the sweetest mood, full of tenderness and love.  The time of the singing of birds had now come, and all nature was clothed with that wondrous beauty and verdure which mark the transition from spring to summer.  The drives, which she was now able to take into the country, on either side of the river, gave her the utmost delight.  On the 30th of May—­the day that has since become consecrated to the memory of the Nation’s heroic dead—­she went, with her husband and eldest daughter, to visit and place flowers upon the graves of Eddy and Bessie.  Never is Greenwood more lovely and impressive than at the moment when May is just passing into June.  It is as if Nature were in a transfiguration and the glory of the Lord shone upon the graves of our beloved!  Mrs. Prentiss made no record of this visit, but on the following day thus wrote in her journal: 

May 31st.—­Another peaceful, pleasant Sunday, whose only drawback has been the want of strength to get down on my knees and praise and pray to my Saviour, as I long to do.  For well as I am and astonishingly improved in every way, a very few minutes’ use of my voice, even in a whisper, in prayer, exhausts me to such a degree that I am ready to faint.  This seems so strange when I can go on talking to any extent—­but then it is talking without emotion and in a desultory way.  Ah well!  God knows best in what manner to let me live, and I desire to ask for nothing but a docile, acquiescent temper, whose only petition shall be, “What wilt Thou have me to do?” not how can I get most enjoyment along the way.  I can not believe if I am His child, that He will let anything hinder my progress in the divine life.  It seems dreadful that I have gone on so slowly, and backward so many times—­but then I have been thinking this is “to humble and to prove me, and to do me good in the latter end.” ...  I thank my God and Saviour for every faint desire He gives me to see Him as He is, and to be changed into His image, and for every struggle against sin He enables me to make.  It is all of Him.  I do wish I loved Him better!  I do wish He were never out of my thoughts and that the aim to do His will swallowed up all other desires and strivings.  Satan whispers that will never be.  But it shall be!  One day—­oh, longed-for, blessed, blissful day!—­Christ will become my All in all!  Yes, even mine!

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This is the last entry in her journal for more than a year; her letters, too, during the same period are very few.  In August of 1857, she was made glad by the birth of another son, her fifth child.  Her own health was now much better than it had been for a long time; but that of her husband had become so enfeebled that in April, 1858, he resigned his pastoral charge and by the advice of his physician determined to go abroad, with his family, for a couple years; the munificent kindness of his people having furnished him with the means of doing so.  The tender sympathy and support which she gave him in this hour of extreme weakness and trial, more than everything else, after the blessing of Heaven, upheld his fainting spirits and helped to restore him at length to his chosen work.  They set sail for the old world in the steamship Arago, Capt.  Lines, June 26th, amidst a cloud of friendly wishes and benedictions.

[1] The friend was Mr. Wm. G. Bull, who had a summer cottage at Rockaway.  He was a leading member of the Mercer street church and one of the best of men.  The poor and unfortunate blessed him all the year round.  To Mrs. Prentiss and her husband he was indefatigable in kindness.  He died at an advanced age in 1859.

[2] Godman’s “American Natural History.”

[3] Mrs. Norman White, mother of the Rev. Erskine N. White, D.D., of New York.

[4] Her cousin, whose sudden death occurred under the same roof in October of the next year.

[5] “We were all weighed soon after coming here,” she wrote, “and my ladyship weighed 96, which makes me out by far the leanest of the ladies here.  When thirteen years old I weighed but 50 pounds.”

[6] Referring to “Little Susy’s Six Birthdays.”

[7] Little Susy’s Little Servants.

[8] A Life bid with Christ in God, being a memoir of Susan Allibone.  By Alfred Lee, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Delaware.

[9] See appendix C, p. 539.

[10] Many years afterward, speaking to a friend of this illness, she related the following incident.  One day she lay, as was supposed, entirely unconscious and in articulo mortis.  Repeated but vain attempts had been made to administer a medicine ordered by the doctor to be used in case of extremity.  Her husband urged one more attempt still; it might possibly succeed.  She heard distinctly every word that was spoken and instantly reasoned within herself, whether she should consent or refuse to swallow the medicine.  Fancying herself just entering the eternal city, she longed to refuse but decided it would be wrong and so consented to come back again to earth.





Life abroad.  Letters about the Voyage and the Journey from Havre to Switzerland.  Chateau d’Oex.  Letters from there.  The Chalet Rosat.  The Free Church of the Canton de Vaud.  Pastor Panchaud.

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Mrs. Prentiss passed more than two years abroad, mostly in Switzerland.  They were years burdened with heavy cares, with ill-health and keen solicitude concerning her husband.  But they were also years hallowed by signal mercies of Providence, bright every now and then with floods of real sunshine, and sweetened by many domestic joys.  Although quite secluded from the world a large portion of the time, her solitude was cheered by the constant arrival of letters from home.  During these years also she was first initiated into full communion with Nature; and what exquisite pleasure she tasted in this new experience, her own pen will tell.  Indeed, this period affords little of interest except that which blossomed out of her domestic life, her friendships, and her love of nature.  She travelled scarcely at all and caught only fugitive glimpses of society or of the treasures of European art.

A few simple records, therefore, of her retired home-life and of the impressions made upon her by Alpine scenery, as contained in her letters, must form the principal part of this chapter.  Her correspondence, while abroad, would make a large volume by itself; in selecting from it what follows, the aim has been to present, as far as possible, a continuous picture of her European sojourn, drawn by herself.  Were a faithful picture of its quiet yet varied scenes to be drawn by another hand, it would include features wholly omitted by her; features radiant with a light and beauty not of earth.  It would reflect a sweet patience, a heroic fortitude, a tender sympathy, a faith in God and an upholding, comforting influence, which in sharp exigencies the Christian wife and mother knows so well how to exercise, and which are inspired only by the Lord Jesus Himself.

The friend to whom the following letter was addressed years ago passed away from earth.  But her name is still enshrined in many hearts.  The story of her generous and affectionate kindness, as also that of her children, would fill a whole chapter.  “You will never know how we have loved and honored you all, straight through” wrote Mrs. Prentiss to one of them, many years later.

To Mrs. Charles W. Woolsey, Havre, July 11, 1858.

How many times during our voyage we had occasion to think of and thank you and yours, a dozen sheets like this would fail to tell you.  Of all your kind arrangements for our comfort not one failed of its object.  Whether the chair or my sacque had most admirers I do not know, but I can’t imagine how people ever get across the ocean without such consolations on the way.  As to the grapes they kept perfectly to the last day and proved delicious; the box then became a convenient receptacle for the children’s toys; while the cake-box has turned into a medicine-chest.  We had not so pleasant a voyage as is usual at this season, it being cold and rainy and foggy much of the time.  However, none of us suffered much from sea-sickness—­Mr.

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Prentiss not in the least; his chief discomfort was from want of sleep.  On the whole, we had a less dreary time than we anticipated, and perhaps the stupidity in which we were engulfed for two weeks was a wholesome refuge from the excitement of the month previous to our departure.  We landed in a deluge of rain, and the only article in our possession that alarmed the officers of the Custom House was not the sewing-machine, which was hardly vouchsafed a look, but your cake-box.  We were thankful to tumble pell-mell into a carriage, and soon to find ourselves in a comfortable room, before a blazing fire.  We go round with a phrase-book and talk out of it, so if anybody ever asks you what sort of people the Prentiss family are and what are our conversational powers, you may safely and veraciously answer, “They talk like a book.”  M. already asks the French names of almost everything and is very glad to know that “we have got at Europe,” and when asked how she likes France, declares, “Me likes that.”  We go off to Paris in the morning.  I will let Mr. Prentiss tell his own story.  Meanwhile we send you everyone our warmest love and thanks.

After a few days in Paris the family hastened to Chateau d’Oex, where New York friends awaited them.  Chateau d’Oex is a mountain valley in the canton of Vaud, on the right bank of the Sarine, twenty-two miles east of Lausanne, and is one of the loveliest spots in Switzerland.  Aside from its natural beauties, it has some historical interest.  It was once the home of the Counts of Gruyere, and the ruins of their ancient chateau are still seen there.  The Free church of the village was at this time under the care of Pastor Panchaud, a favorite pupil and friend of Vinet.  He was a man of great simplicity and sweetness of character, an excellent preacher, and wholly devoted to his little flock.  Mrs. Prentiss and her husband counted his society and ministrations a smile of Heaven upon their sojourn in Chateau d’Oex.

To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Chateau D’Oex July 25, 1858.

Our ride from Havre to Paris was charming.  We had one of those luxurious cars, to us unknown, which is intended to hold only eight persons, but which has room for ten; the weather was perfect, and the scenery all the way very lovely and quite novel.  A. and I kept mourning for you and M. to enjoy it with us, and both agreed that we would gladly see only half there was to see, and go half the distance we were going, if we could only share with you our pleasures of every kind.  On reaching Paris and the hotel we found we could not get pleasant rooms below the fifth story.  They were directly opposite the garden of the Tuileries, where birds were flying and singing, and it was hard to realise that we were in the midst of that great city.  We went sight-seeing very little.  A. and I strolled about here and there, did a little shopping, stared in at the shop windows, wished M. had this and you had that, and then

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strolled home and panted and toiled and groaned up our five flights, and wrote in our journals, or rested, or made believe study French.  We went to the Jardin des Plantes in order to let the children see the Zoological Garden.  We also drove through the Bois de Boulogne, and spent part of an evening in the garden of the Palais Royal, and watched the people drinking their tea and coffee, and having all sorts of good times.  We found Paris far more beautiful than we expected, and certainly as to cleanliness it puts New York ages behind.  We were four days in coming from Paris to this place.  We went up the lake of Geneva on one of the finest days that could be asked for, and then the real joy of our journey began; Paris and all its splendors faded away at once and forever before these mountains, and as George had never visited Geneva, or seen any of this scenery, my pleasure was doubled by his.  Imagine, if you can, how we felt when Mt.  Blanc appeared in sight!  We reached Vevay just after sunset, and were soon established in neat rooms of quite novel fashion.  The floors were of unpainted white wood, checked off with black walnut; the stairs were all of stone, the stove was of porcelain, and every article of furniture was odd.  But we had not much time to spend in looking at things within doors, for the lake was in full view, and the mountain tops were roseate with the last rays of the setting sun, and the moon soon rose and added to the whole scene all it wanted to make us half believe ourselves in a pleasant dream.  I often asked myself, “Can this be I!” “And if it be I, as I hope it be”—­

Early next morning, which was dear little M.’s birthday, we set off in grand style for Chateau d’Oex.  We hired a monstrous voiture which had seats inside for four, and on top, with squeezing, seats for three, besides the driver’s seat; had five black horses, and dashed forth in all our splendor, ten precious souls and all agog.  I made a sandwich between Mr. S. and George on top, and the “bonnes” and children were packed inside.  This was our great day.  The weather was indescribably beautiful; we felt ourselves approaching a place of rest and a welcome home; the scenery was magnificent, and already the mountain air was beginning to revive our exhausted souls and bodies.  We sat all day hand in hand, literally “lost in wonder.”  With all I had heard ever since I was born about these mountains, I had not the faintest idea of their real grandeur and beauty.  We arrived here just after sunset, and soon found ourselves among our friends.  Mrs. Buck brought us up to our new home, which we reached on foot (as our voiture could not ascend so high) by a little winding path, by the side of which a little brook kept running along to make music for us.  It is a regular Swiss chalet, much like the little models you have seen, only of a darker brown, and on either side the mountains stand ranged, so that look where we will we are feasted to our utmost capacity.

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We have four small, but very neat, pretty rooms.  Our floors are of unpainted pine, as white and clean as possible.  The room in which we spend our time, and where I am now writing, I must fully set before you....  Our centre table has had a nice new red cover put on it to-day, with a vase of flowers; it holds all our books, and is the ornament of the room.  In front of the sofa is a red rug on which we say our prayers.  Over it is a picture, and over G.’s table is another.  Out of the window you see first a pretty little flower garden, then the valley dotted with brown chalets, then the background of mountains.  Behind the house you go up a little winding path—­and can go on forever without stopping if you choose—­along the sides of which flowers such as we cultivate at home grow in profusion; you can’t help picking them and throwing them away to snatch a new handful.  The brook takes its rise on this side, and runs musically along as you ascend.  Yesterday we all went to church at nine and a half o’clock, and had our first experience of French preaching, and I was relieved to find myself understanding whole sentences here and there.  And now I need not, I suppose, wind up by saying we are in a charming spot.  All we want, as far as this world goes, is health and strength with which to enjoy all this beauty and all this sweet retirement, and these, I trust, it will give us in time.  Isabella “wears like gold.”  She is everything I hoped for, and from her there has not been even a tone of discomfort since we left.  But my back aches and my paper is full.  We all send heaps of love to you all and long to hear.

August 10th.—­We breakfast at eight on bread and honey, which is the universal Swiss breakfast, dine at one, and have tea at seven.  I usually sew and read and study all the forenoon.  After dinner we take our Alpen-stocks and go up behind the house—­a bit of mountain-climbing which makes me realise that I am no longer a young girl.  I get only so high, and then have to come back and lie down.  George and Annie beat me all to pieces with their exploits.  I do not believe we could have found anywhere in the world a spot better adapted to our needs.  How you would enjoy it!  I perfectly yearn to show you these mountains and all this green valley.  The views I send will give you a very good idea of it, however.  The smaller chalet in the print is ours.  In a little summer house opposite Isabella now sits at work on the sewing-machine.  My best love to all three of your dear “chicks,” and to your husband if “he’s willin’.”

To Mrs. H.B.  Washburn, Chateau d’Oex, August 21, 1858.

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...  We slipped off without any leave-taking, which I was not sorry for.  I did not want to bid you good-bye.  We had to say it far too often as it was, and, when we fairly set sail we had not an emotion left, but sank at once into a state of entire exhaustion and stupidity....  We thought Paris very beautiful until we came in view of the Lake of Geneva, Mt.  Blanc, and other handiworks of God, when straightway all its palaces and monuments and fountains faded into insignificance.  I began to feel that it was wicked for a few of my friends, who were born to enjoy the land of lakes and mountains, not to be here enjoying it, and you were one of them, you may depend.  However, whenever I have had any such pangs of regret in relation to you, I have consoled myself with the reflection that with your enthusiastic temperament, artist eye, and love of nature, you never would survive even a glimpse of Switzerland; the land of William Tell would be the death of you.  When you are about eighty years old, have cooled down about ten degrees below zero, have got a little dim about the eyes, and a little stiff about the knees, it may possibly be safe for you to come and break yourself in gradually.  I have not forgotten how you felt and what you did at the White Mountains, you see.

Well, joking apart, we are in a spot that would just suit you in every respect.  We are not in a street or a road or any of those abominations you like to shun, but our little chalet, hardly accessible save on foot, is just tucked down on the side of the gentle slope leading up the mountain.  It is remote from all sights but those magnificent ones afforded by the range of mountains, the green rich valley, and the ever-varying sky and cloudland, and all sounds save that of a brook which runs hurrying down its rocky little channel and keeps us company when we want it.  I ought, however, to add that my view of this particular valley is that of a novice.  People say the scenery here is tame in comparison with what may be seen elsewhere; but look which way I will, from front windows or back windows, at home or abroad, I am as one at a continual feast; and what more can one ask?  Mr. Prentiss feels that this secluded spot is just the place for him, and as it is a good point from which to make excursions on foot or otherwise, he and Mr. Stearns have already made several trips and seen splendid sights.  How much we have to be grateful for!  For my part, I would rather—­far rather—­have come here and stayed here blindfold, than not to have come with my dear husband.  So all I have seen and am experiencing I regard as beauty and felicity thrown in.

To Mrs. Abigail Prentiss, Chateau d’Oex, Sept. 5, 1858.

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I wish we had you, my dear mother, here among these mountains, for the cool, bracing air would help to build you up.  Both Mr. Stearns and George have come back from Germany looking better than when they started on their trip two weeks ago.  It has been very cold; the thermometer some mornings at eight o’clock standing at 46, and the mountains being all covered with snow.  We slept with a couple of bottles of hot water at our feet, and two blankets and a comforter of eiderdown over us, after going to bed early to get warm.  My sewing-machine is a great comfort, and the peasants enjoy coming down from the mountains to see it.  Besides, I find something to do on it every day.

I often wish I could set you down in the midst of the church to which we go every Sunday, if only to show you how the people dress.  A bonnet is hardly seen there; everybody wearing a black silk cap or a bloomer. I wear a bloomer; a brown one trimmed with brown ribbon.  An old lady sits in front of me who wears a white cap much after the fashion of yours, and on top of that is perked a monstrous bloomer trimmed with black gauze ribbon.  Her dress is linsey-woolsey, and for outside garment she wears a black silk half-handkerchief, as do all the rest.  No light dress or ribbon is seen.  I must tell you now something that amused A. and me very much yesterday at dinner.  A French gentleman, who married a Spanish lady four years ago, sits opposite us at the table, and he and his wife are quite fascinated with M., watch all her motions, and whisper together about all she does.  Yesterday they got to telling us that the lady had been married when only twelve years old to a gentleman of thirty-two, had two children, and was a grandmother, though not yet thirty-six years old.  She said she carried her doll with her to her husband’s house, and he made her learn a geography lesson every day till she was fourteen, when she had a baby of her own.  I asked her if she loved her husband, and she said “Oh, yes,” only he was very grave and scolded her and shut her up when she wouldn’t learn her lessons.  She said that her own mother when thirty-six years old had fourteen children, all of whom are now living, twelve of them boys, and that the laws of Spain allow the father of six sons to ask a favor for them of the King, but the father of twelve may ask a favor for each one; so every one of her brothers had an office under the Government or was an officer in the army.  I don’t know when I have been more amused, for she, like all foreigners, was full of life and gesture, and showed us how she tore her hair and threw down her books when angry with her husband.

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The children are all bright and well.  The first time we took the cars after landing, M. was greatly delighted.  “Now we’re going to see grandma,” she cried.  Mrs. Buck got up a picnic for her, and had a treat of raspberries and sponge-cake—­frosted.  The cake had “M.” on the top in red letters.  Baby is full of life and mischief.  The day we landed he said “Papa,” and now he says “Mamma.”  Isabella [1] is everything we could ask.  She is trying to learn French, and A. hears her recite every night.  George found some furnished rooms at Montreux, which he has taken for six months from October, and we shall thus be keeping house.  A. has just rushed in and snatched her French Bible, as she is going to the evening service with some of the English family.  You will soon hear all about us from Mr. Stearns.

The following letter will show how little power either her own cares, or the charms of nature around her, had to quench her sympathy for friends in sorrow: 

To Miss A. H. Woolsey, Chateau D’Oex, Sept. 11, 1858.

We received your kind letter this morning.  We had already had our sympathies excited in behalf of you all, by seeing a notice of the death of the dear little child in a paper lent to us by Mrs. Buck, and were most anxious to hear all the particulars you have been so good as to give us.  This day, which fifteen years ago we marked with a white stone, and which we were to celebrate with all our hearts, has passed quite wearily and drearily.  There is something indescribably sad in the details of the first bereavement which has fallen within the circle of those we love; perhaps, too, old sorrows of our own clamored for a hearing; and then, too, there was the conviction, “This is not all death will do while the ocean severs you from kindred and friends.”  We longed to speak to you many words of affectionate sympathy and Christian cheer; but long before we can make them reach you, I trust you will have felt sure that you were at least remembered and prayed for.  It is a comfort that no ocean separates us from Him who has afflicted you.  The loss to you each and all is very great, but to the mother of such a child it is beyond description.  Faith alone can bear her through it, but faith can.  What a wonderful little creature the sweet Ellie must have been!  We were greatly touched by your account of her singing that beautiful hymn.  It must have been divinely ordered that she should leave such a precious legacy behind her.  And though her loveliness makes her loss the greater, the loss of an unlovely wayward child would surely be a heavier grief.

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I never know where to stop when I begin to talk about the death of a little one; but before I stop I want to ask you to tell Mrs. H. one word from me, which will not surprise and will perhaps comfort her.  It is this.  Neither his father nor myself would be willing to have God now bereave us of the rich experience of seven years ago, when our noble little boy was taken away.  We have often said this to each other, and oftener said it to Him, who if He took, also gave much.  But after all, we can not say much to comfort either Mrs. H. or you.  We can only truly, heartily and always sympathise with you....  Mr. Prentiss and Mr. Stearns have spent a fortnight in jaunting about; beginning at Thun and ending at Munich.  They both came home looking fresher and better than when they left, but Mr. P. is not at all well now, and will have his ups and downs, I suppose, for a long time to come....  We can step out at any moment into a beautiful path, and, turn which way we will, meet something charming.  Yesterday he came back for me, having found a new walk, and we took our sticks, and went to enjoy it together till we got, as it were, fairly locked in by the mountains, and could go no further.  Only to think of having such things as gorges and water-falls and roaring brooks, right at your back door!  The seclusion of this whole region is, however, its great charm to us, and to tell the truth, the primitive simplicity of style of dress, etc., is quite as charming to me as its natural beauty.  We took tea one night last week with the pastor of the Free church; he lives in a house for which he pays thirty dollars a year, and we were quite touched and pleased with his style of living; white pine walls and floors, unpainted, and everything else to match.  We took our tea at a pine table, and the drawing-room to which we retired from it, was a corner of the same room, where was a little mite of a sofa and a few books, and a cheerful lamp burning.

All this time I have not answered your question about the Fourth of July.  We had great doings, I assure you.  Mr. P. made a speech, and ran up and down the saloon like a war horse.  He was so excited and pale that I did not enjoy it much, thinking any instant he would faint and fall.  Mr. Cleaveland was the orator of the day and acquitted himself very well, they all said.  I was in my berth at the time of its delivery, saving myself for the dinner and toasts, and so did not hear it.  The whole affair is to be printed.  There was a great cry of “Prentiss!  Prentiss!” after the “Captain’s dinner,” and at last the poor man had to respond in a short speech to a toast to the ladies.  I suppose you know that he considers all women as angels.  Mr. Stearns left us on Thursday to set his face homewards.

* * * * *


Montreux.  The Swiss Autumn.  Castle of Chillon.  Death and Sorrow of Friends at Home.  Twilight Talks.  Spring Flowers.

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Early in October the family removed to Montreux, at the upper end of the lake of Geneva, where the next six months were passed in what was then known as the Maison des Bains.  Montreux was at this time the centre of a group of pleasant villages, scattered along the shore of the lake, or lying back of it among the hills.  One of these villages, Clarens, was rendered famous in the last century by the pen of Rousseau, and early in this by the pen of Byron.  The grave of Vinet, the noble leader, and theologian of the Free Church of the canton of Vaud, now renders the spot sacred to the Christian scholar.  Montreux was then a favorite resort of invalids in quest of a milder climate.  At many points it commands fine views of the lake, and the whole region abounds in picturesque scenery.  The Maison des Bains is said to have long since disappeared; but in 1858, it seemed to hang upon the side of the Montreux hill and was one of the most noticeable features of the landscape, as seen from the passing steamer.

To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Montreux, October 31, 1858.

Your letter was a real comfort and I am so thankful to the man that invented letter-writing that I don’t know what to do.  We feast on everything we hear from home, however sick, or weak; it is a sort of sea-air appetite.  Your letters are not a thousandth part long enough, but if you wrote all the time I suppose they wouldn’t be....  You see I am experimenting with two kinds of ink, hoping my letters may be more easy to read.  George tried it the other day by writing me a little note, telling me first how he loved me in black ink and then how he loved me in blue, after which he tore it up; wasn’t that a shame?  Anna writes that you seemed miserable the day she was at your house.  The fact is, people of such restless mental activity as you and I, my dear, never need expect to be well long at a time—­for, as soon as we get a little health we consume it just as children do candy.  George and I are both able, however, to take long walks, and the other day we went to see the castle of Chillon.  I was much impressed with all I saw.  Under Byron’s name, which I saw on one of the columns, there were the initials “H.  B. S.”—­“H.  B. Smith,” says I.  “You don’t say so!” cries George, “where? let me see—­oh, I don’t think it can be his, for here are some more letters,” which I knew all the time, but for all that H. B. S. does stand for H. B. Smith.  There are ever so many charming walks about here and from some points the scenery is wonderfully picturesque.  I never was in the country so late as to see the trees after a frost, and although the foliage here is less brilliant, it is said, than that of American forests, I find it hard to believe that there can be anything more beautiful than the wooded mountains covered with the softest tints of every shade and coloring interspersed with snowcapped peaks and bare, gray rocks.  The glory has departed somewhat within two days, as we

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have had a little snow-storm, and the leaves have fallen sadly.  We began to have a fire yesterday and to put on some of our winter clothing; yet roses bloom just outside our door, and mignonette, nasturtiums, and a variety of other flowers adorn every house.  The Swiss love for flowers is really beautiful.  I wish you would let the children go to the hot-house which they pass on the way from school and get me some flower-seeds, as it will be pleasant to me to have the means of giving pleasure.  I presume the gardener would be able to select a dozen or so of American varieties which would be a treasure here.  I amuse myself with making flower-pictures, with which to enliven our parlor, and assure you that these works of art are remarkable specimens of genius.  I do not know where the time goes, but I do not have half enough of it, or else do not understand the art of making the most of it.  We have just subscribed to a library at a franc a month, and hope to read a little French....  I suppose Z. will be a regular young lady by the time we come home, and that I shall be afraid of her, as I am of all young ladies.  How nicely she and M. would look in the jaunty little hats they all wear here.  I wonder if the fashion will stretch across the ocean?  I dare say it will.  Never was there anything so becoming in the world.

To Mrs. Stearns, Montreux, Nov. 21, 1858.

We were glad to hear from your last letter that you are all so well, and especially to hear such good accounts of Mr. Stearns.  It is a real comfort to us to find that his little trip has done him so much good.  I was sorry to hear of the loss of that friend of the Thurstons in the Austria, for I heard Ellen speak of her in the most rapturous manner.  This world is full of mysteries.  Only to think of the shock George received when expecting to meet Mr. Butler in Paris and perhaps spend several weeks with him there, he heard at Geneva the news of his sudden death! [2] He loved and honored Mr. B. most warmly and truly.  You will remember that the latter came abroad on account of the health of his daughter; her younger sister accompanied them, and they were all full of the brightest anticipations.  But the same steamer which brought them over, carried home his remains on the next trip, and those two poor young girls are left in a strange land, afflicted and disappointed and alone.  Mr. Butler died a most peaceful and happy death, and George was very glad to be in Paris in time to comfort the young ladies, who were perfectly delighted to see him.  He got back yesterday very much exhausted and has spent most of the day on the sofa.  A. has a teacher who comes three times a week from Vevay, and spends most of the day.  She is a young lady of about twenty-five, well educated and accustomed to teaching, and has taken hold of A. with no little energy.  She can not speak a word of English.  Tell your A. we can’t get over it that the horses, dogs and cats here all understand French.  I have been ever

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so busy fixing and fussing for winter, which has come upon us all in a rush.  Isabella has been bewitched for about a week, having got at last a letter from her beau, and every speck of work she has done on the sewing machine was either wrongside out or upside down.  While George was gone I made up a lot of flower-pictures to adorn the walls of our parlor; he is walking about admiring them, and I wish you would drop in and help him.  He had a real homesick fit to see you all to-day, feeling so tired after his journey; but seems brighter to-night, and promises faithfully to get well now, right off.

Dec. 5th.—­The death of Sarah P. must have excited all your sympathies.  The loss of a little child—­and I shudder when I recall the pangs of such a loss!—­can be nothing in comparison with such an affliction as this.  I well remember what a bright young thing she was.  Her poor mother’s grief and amazement must be all the greater for the fact of the perfect vigor and sound health which had, as it were, assured her of long life and happiness and usefulness.  I had an inexpressible sadness upon me as soon as I heard that she was dangerously ill; often in such moments one bitterly realises that all this world’s idols are likewise perishable.

A.’s teacher gives lessons also in a family half an hour from Vevay, who are going to Germany to spend a year, and she gave such an account of the place, that George let her persuade him into going to see it, as the owner desired to rent it during his absence.  He took A. with him, as I could not go.  They came back in ecstasies, and have both set their hearts so on taking it that I should not at all wonder if that should be the end.  We left some of our things at Chateau d’Oex, fully expecting to return there, but this Vevay country seat with its cherry, apple and pear trees, its seclusion, its vicinity to reading-room and library, has quite disgusted George with the idea of spending another summer “en pension.”  The family entertained G. and A. very hospitably, gave them a lunch of bologna sausage, bread and butter, cake, wine and grapes, and above all, the little girls gave A. two little Guinea pigs, which you may imagine filled her with delight.  The whole affair was very agreeable to her, as she had not spoken to a child (save M.) since we came to Montreux.

January 3d, 1859.—­We read your letter, written at Bedford, with no little interest and sympathy.  While we could not but rejoice that one more saint had got safely and without a struggle home, we felt the exceeding disappointment you must have had in losing the last smile you came so near receiving. [3] I think you had a sort of presentiment last winter what this one might bring forth, for I remember your saying it would probably be the last visit to you, and that you wanted to make it as pleasant as possible.  And pleasant I do not doubt you and the whole household made it to her.  Still there always will be regrets and vain wishes after the death of one we love.  What a pity that we can not be to our friends while they live all we wish we had been after they have gone!  George and I feel an almost childish clinging to mother, while we hope and believe she will live to bless us if we ever return home.

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Jan. 23d.—­We have been afflicted in the sudden death of our dear friend, Mrs. Wainwright.  The news came upon us without preparation—­for she was ill only a few days—­and was a great shock to us.  You and mother know what she was to us during the whole time of our acquaintance with her; I loved her most heartily.  I can not get over the saddening impression which such deaths cause, by receiving new ones; our lives here are so quiet and uneventful, that we have full leisure to meditate on the breaches already made in our circle of friends at home, and to forebode many more such sorrowful tidings.  Mrs. Wainwright was like a mother to me, and I am too old to take up a new friend in her place. [4]

I do not know whether I mentioned the afflictions of my cousin H. They have been very great, and have excited my sympathies keenly.  Her first child died when eighteen months old, after a feeble, suffering life.  Then the second child, an amiable, loving creature—­I almost see her now sitting up so straight with her morsel of knitting in her hands!—­she was taken sick and died in five days.  Her sister, about eight years old, came near dying of grief; she neither played, ate or slept, and they wrote me that her wails of anguish were beyond description.  Just as she was getting a little over the first shock, the little boy, then about three years old, died suddenly of croup.  Poor H. is almost broken-hearted.  I have felt dreadfully at being away when she was so afflicted; they had not been long enough in New York to have a minister of their own, and they all said, oh, if George and I had only been there!

Her letters during the rest of the winter are tinged with the sadness caused by these and other distressing afflictions among friends at home.  Her sympathies were kept under a constant strain.  But her letters contain also many gleams of sunshine.  Although very quiet and secluded, and often troubled by torturing neuralgic pains, as well as by sudden shocks of grief, her life at Montreux was not without its own peculiar joys.  One of the greatest of these was to while away the twilight or evening hours in long talks with her husband about home and former days.  Distance, together with the strange Alpine scenes about her, seemed to have the effect of a score of years in separating her from the past, and throwing over it a mystic veil of tenderness and grace.  Old times and old friends, when thus viewed from the beautiful shores of Lake Leman, appeared to the memory in a softened light and invested with something of that ideal loveliness which the grave itself imparts to the objects of our affections.  Many of these old friends, indeed, had passed through the Grave—­some, long before, some recently—­and to talk of them was sweet talk about the blessed home above, as well as the home beyond the ocean.

Another joy that helped to relieve the monotony and weariness of the Montreux life, was in her children; especially as, on the approach of spring, she wandered with them over the hill-sides in quest of flowers; then her delight knew no bounds.  In a letter to Mrs. Washburn, dated March 19, she writes: 

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M. and G. catch A.’s and my enthusiasm, and come with their little hands full of dandelions, buttercups and daisies, and their hats full of primroses.  Even Mr. Prentiss conies in with his hands full of crocuses, purple and white, and lots of an extremely pretty flower, “la fille avant la mere,” which he gathers on the mountains where I can not climb....  I often think of you and Mrs. B——­, when I revel among the beautiful profusion of flowers with which this country is adorned.  So early as it is, the hills and fields are covered with primroses, daisies, cowslips, violets, lilies, and I don’t know what not; in five minutes we can gather a basketful.

* * * * *


The Campagne Genevrier.  Vevay.  Beauty of the Region.  Letters.  Birth of a Son.  Visit from Professor Smith.  Excursion to Chamouni.  Whooping-cough and Scarlet-fever among the Children.  Doctor Curchod.  Letters.

At the end of March the family removed to the campagne Genevrier, about two miles back of Vevay, in the direction of St. Leger.  At one point it overlooked the town and the lake, and commanded a fine view of the mountains of Savoy and of the distant Jura range.  On the opposite shore of the lake is the village where Lord Byron passed some time in 1816, and where he is said to have written the wonderful description of a thunder-storm, in the third canto of Childe Harold.  At all events the very scene, so vividly depicted by him, was witnessed from Genevrier. [5]

To Mrs. Stearns, Genevrier, April 5, 1859

Your letter describing how nicely your party went off, followed us from Montreux, to enliven us here in our new home.  We only wish we could have been there.  You need not have apologised for giving so many details, for it is just such little events of your daily life that we want to hear about.  My mouth quite waters for a bit of the cake they sent you; I remember Mrs. Dr. J. and others used to send us big loaves which were delicious, and such as I never tasted out of Newark.  We came here last Thursday in a great snow-storm, which was cheerless and cold enough after the warm weather we had had for so many weeks.  I do not suppose more snow fell on any day through the winter, and we all shivered and lamented and huddled over the fire at a great rate.  Yet I have just been driven indoors by the heat of the sun, having begun to write at a little table just outside the house, and fires and snow have disappeared.  George has gone to town with Jules in the wagon to buy sugar, oil, oats, buttons, and I do not know what not, and is no doubt thinking of you all; for we do nothing but cry out how we wish you were here with us to enjoy this beautiful spot.  We are entirely surrounded by mountains in the distance, and with green fields, vineyards, and cultivated grounds nearer home.  How your children would delight in the flowers, the white doves, the seven little tiny

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guinea pigs, no bigger than your Annie’s hand shut up, and the ample, neat play-places all about us.  I can’t tell you how George and I enjoy seeing M. trotting about, so eager and so happy, and gathering up, as we hope, health and strength every hour!  We find the house, on the whole, very convenient, and it is certainly as pleasant as can be; every room cheerful and every window commanding a view which is ravishing.

To Mrs. Smith, Genevrier, April 7, 1859.

You will be surprised, I dare say, to hear that I am writing out of doors; I can hardly, myself, believe that it is possible to do so with comfort and safety at this season, but it is perfectly charming weather, neither cold or hot, and with a small shawl and my bloomer on, I am out a large part of the day.  You would fly here in a balloon if you knew what a beautiful spot we are in.  We are surrounded with magnificent views of both the lake and the mountains, and can not turn in any direction without being ravished.  The house is pretty, and in most respects well and even handsomely furnished; damask curtains, a Titian, a Rembrandt, and a Murillo in the parlor; the floors are waxed and carpetless, to be sure, but Mrs. Buck has given us lots of large pieces of carpeting such as are used in this country to cover the middle of the rooms, and these will make us comfortable next winter.  But the winters here are so short that one hardly gets fixed to meet them, when they are over.

We have quite a nice garden, from which we have already eaten lettuce, spinach, and parsley; our potatoes were planted a day or two ago, and our peas are just up.  One corner of the house, unconnected with our part, is occupied by a farmer who rents part of the land; he is obliged to do our marketing, etc., and we get milk and cream from him.  I wish the latter was as easy to digest as it is palatable and cheap.  They beat it up here till it looks like pure white lather and eat it with sugar.  The grounds about our house are very neat and we shall have oceans of flowers of all sorts; several kinds are in full bloom now.  The wild flowers are so profuse, so beautiful and so various that A. and I are almost demented on the subject.  From the windows I see first the wide, gravelled walk which runs round the house; then a little bit of a green lawn in which there is a little bit of a pond and a tiny jet d’eau which falls agreeably on the ear; beyond this the land slopes gently upward till it is not land but bare, rugged mountain, here and there sprinkled with snow and interspersed with pine-trees.  The sloping land is ploughed up and men and women are busy sowing and planting; too far off to disturb us with noise, but looking, the women at least, rather picturesque in their short blue dresses and straw hats.  On the right hand the Dent du Midi is seen to great advantage; it is now covered with snow.  The little village of St. Leger lies off in the distance; you can just see its roofs and the quaint spire of a very old church; otherwise you see next to no houses, and the stillness is very sweet. Now won’t you come?  The children seem to enjoy their liberty greatly, and are running about all the time.  They have each a little garden and I hope will live out of doors all summer.

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The state of her health during the next three months was a source of constant and severe suffering, but could not quench her joy in the wonders of nature around her.  “My drives about this lovely place,” she wrote in June, “have begun to give me an immense amount of pleasure; indeed, my faculty for enjoyment is so great, that I sometimes think one day’s felicity pays for weeks of misery, and that if it hadn’t been for my poor health, I should have been too happy here.”  Nor did her suffering weaken in the least her sympathy with the troubles of her friends at home.  While for the most part silent as to her own peculiar trials, her letters were full of cheering words about theirs.  To one of these she wrote at this time: 

God has taken care that we should not enjoy so much of this world’s comfort since we left home as to rest in it.  Your letters are so sad, that I have fancied you perhaps overestimated our situation, feeling that you and your feeble husband were bearing the burden and heat of the day while we were standing idle.  My dear ——­, there are trials everywhere and in every sphere, and every heart knoweth its own bitterness, or else physical burdens are sent to take the place of mental depression.  After all, it will not need more than an hour in heaven to make us ashamed of our want of faith and courage here on earth.  Do cheer up, dear child, and “look aloft!” Poor Mr. ——!  I know his work is hard and up the hill, but it will not be lost work and can not last forever.  It seems to me God might accept with special favor the services of those who “toil in rowing.”  After all, it is not the amount of work He regards, but the spirit with which it is done.

Early in July she was made glad by the birth of her sixth child—­her “Swiss boy,” as she liked to call him.  Her gladness was not a little increased by a visit soon after from Professor Henry B. Smith, of the Union Theological Seminary.  This visit was one of the memorable events of her life abroad.  Professor Smith was not merely a great theologian and scholar; he was also a man of most attractive personal qualities.  And, when unbending among friends from his exacting literary labors, the charm of his presence and conversation was perfect.  His spirits ran high, and he entered with equal zest into the amusements of young or old.  His laugh was as merry as that of the merriest girl; no boy took part more eagerly in any innocent sport; nobody could beat him in climbing a mountain.  He was a keen observer, and his humor—­sometimes very dry, sometimes fresh and bright as the early dew—­rendered his companionship at once delightful and instructive.  His learning and culture were so much a part of himself, that his most familiar talk abounded in the happiest touches about books and art and life.  All his finest traits were in full play while he was at Genevrier, and, when he left, his visit seemed like a pleasant dream.

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To Mrs. Smith, Genevrier, July 25th.

I am only too glad of the chance your husband gives me to write you another bit of a note.  We are enjoying his visit amazingly.  There are only two drawbacks to its felicity; one is that he won’t stay all summer, and the other that you are not here.  The children were enchanted with the presents he brought them.  When I shall be on my feet and well and strong again time only can tell.  A. has devoted herself to me in the sweetest way.  What she has been to me all winter and up to this time, tongue could not tell.  My doctor is as kind as a brother.  He was a perfect stranger to me, and was brought to my bedside when I was writhing in agony; but in ten minutes his tenderness and sympathy made me forget that he was a stranger, and, through that long night of distress and the long day that followed, he did every thing that mortal could do to relieve and comfort me.  He brought his wife up to see me the other day, and I begged her to tell him how grateful I felt.  “He is kind,” she answered, “but then he loves you so!” (They both speak English.) I am so puffed up by his praises!  I am sure I thought I groaned, but he says “pas une gemissement.”

August 14th.—­Our two husbands have gone to Lausanne for the day, taking A. with them.  They seem to be having real nice times together, and if, as your husband says, “his old wife were here,” his felicity and ours would be too great.  They lounge about, talk, drink soda-water, and view the prospect.  Dr. Buck came up from Geneva on Thursday and spent the night and part of Friday with us, and it would have done you good to hear him and your husband laugh.  He was quite enchanted with the place, and says we never shall want to go home. August 23d.—­Your husband has given me leave to write you a little bit of a note out of my little bit of a heart on this little bit of paper.  He and A. have just gone off to get some pretty grass for you.  He will tell you when he gets home how he baptized his namesake on Sunday.  We have enjoyed his visit more than tongue can tell.  George says he has enjoyed it as much as he thought he should, and I am sure I have enjoyed it a great deal more, as I have been so much better in health than I expected.  But how you must miss him!

On the 12th of September—­a faultless autumn day—­she set out with her husband and eldest daughter for Chamouni.  It was her first excursion for pleasure since coming to Switzerland.  A visit to this great and marvelous handiwork of God is an event in the dullest life.  In her case the experience was so full of delight, that it seemed almost to compensate for the cares and disappointments of the whole previous year.  The plan was to return to Genevrier and then pass on to the Bernese Oberland, but the visit to Chamouni proved to be her last as well as her first pleasure excursion in Switzerland.

To Mrs. Stearns, Genevrier, October 2, 1859.

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I have, been so absorbed with anxiety about the children since we got back from our journey, that I have not felt like writing you a description of it.  George told you, I suppose, that the news awaiting us when we reached Vevay was of the baby’s having whooping-cough.  It was a great shock to us, for the weather was dismally cold, and it did not seem as if the little thing could get safely through the disease at so unfavorable a time of year.  Then there were the other two to have it also.  On Friday last baby’s cry had become a sad sort of wail, and he was so pale and weak, that I did not see how he was going to rally; but he is better to-day, so that I begin to take breath....  To go back to Chamouni, it seems a mercy that we went when we did.  We enjoyed the whole trip.  We made the excursion to the Mer de Glace in a pouring rain, without injury to any of us, and were well repaid for our trouble by the novelty of the whole expedition and the extraordinary sights we saw.  George intended taking us to the Oberland if we found the children well on our return, but all hope of accomplishing another journey was destroyed when we found what different business was before us.  It is a real disappointment, for the weather is now mild and very fine, just adapted to journeying, and so many things have conspired to confine me to this spot, that I have found it quite hard to be as patient and cheerful as I am sure I ought to be.  Alas and alas! what an insatiable thing human nature is!  How it craves every thing the world can offer, instead of contenting itself with what ought to content it.  However, I shall soon get over my fidgets, and as to George, of course he is only disappointed for me and A., as he has visited the Oberland, and was only going to give us pleasure.  And, if I must choose between the two, I’d rather have the littlest baby in the world than see all the biggest mountains in it.  We are thankful to hear that mother still continues to be so well.  We long to see her, and I think a look at her or a smile from her would do George good like a medicine.

October 17th.—­I went to church yesterday for the first time in ten months; we came out at half-past ten, so you see we have a tolerably long day before us when church is done.  It is not at all like going to church at home; you not only find it painful to listen with such strict attention as the foreign tongue requires, but you miss the neat, well-ordered sanctuary, the picture of family life (for there are no little children present!) and the agreeable array of dress.  The flapping, monstrous bloomers tire your eyes, and so do the grotesque, coarse clothes and the tokens of extreme poverty.  I grow more and more patriotic every day, and am astonished at what I see and hear of life in Europe.

I snatched one afternoon when the baby was better than usual to go to Villeneuve with George to call on Mr. and Mrs. H. and the sister of Mrs. H., who is one of our Mercer street young ladies.  They were at the Hotel Byron, where you stayed.  What a beautiful spot it is!  Mr. H. afterwards came and dined with us, and was so charmed with the place that he was tempted to take it when we leave; his wife, however, had set her heart on going home at that time, as she had left one child there.  The vintage is going on here at Genevrier to-day, and we are all invited to go and eat our fill.

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To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Genevrier, Oct. 20, 1859.

You ask how I find time to make flower-pictures.  Why, I have been confined to the house a good deal by the baby’s sickness, and could hardly set myself about anything else when I was not watching and worrying about him.  When we got home from Chamouni we found him with what proved to be a very serious disease in the case of so young a child.  It has shaken his little frame nearly to pieces, leaving him after weeks of suffering not much bigger than a doll, and all eyes and bones.  It was a pretty hard struggle for life, and I hardly know how he has weathered the storm.  The idea of leaving our dear little Swiss baby in a little Swiss grave, instead of taking him home with us, was very distressing to me, and I can not help earnestly desiring that death may not assail us in this foreign land.

Our trip to Chamouni was very pleasant and did me a deal of good.  If I could have kept on the mule-riding and mountain-viewing a few weeks I should have got quite built up, but the children’s coughs made it impossible to take any more journeys.  Mr. de Palezieux, our landlord, called Monday to see if I would sell him my sewing-machine, as his wife was crazy to have one, and didn’t feel as if she could wait to get one from New York.  I told him I would, and all night could not sleep for teaching him how to use it—­for his wife is in Germany, and he had to learn for her.  I invited him to come to dinner on Wednesday and take his lessons.  On Tuesday George said he wanted me to make a pair of sleeves for Mrs. Tholuck before the machine went off, so I went to town to get the stuff, at three o’clock began the sleeves and worked like a lion for a little over two hours, when they were done, beautifully.  This morning I made four collars, which I shall want for Christmas presents, and a shirt for Jules (our old hired man), who never had one made of linen, and will go off the handle when he gets it.  So I am tolerably used up, and shall be almost glad to send away the tempter to-morrow, though I dare say I shall miss it.  I wish you could look out of my window this minute, and see how beautiful the autumnal foliage is already beginning to look.  But my poor old head, what shall I do with it!  You ask about my health; I am as well as I can be without sleep.  I have had only one really good night since the baby came, to say nothing of those before; some worse than others, to be sure; but all wakeful to a degree that tries my faith not a little.  I don’t see what is to hinder my going crazy one of these days.  However, I won’t if I can help it.  George goes to Germany this week.  Well, my dear, good-bye.

To Mrs. Stearns, Dec. 12th.

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George got home a fortnight ago, after his three weeks’ absence; looking nicely, and more like himself than I have seen him in a long time.  He had a most refreshing time in Germany among his old friends.  It does my heart good to see him so cheery and hopeful.  I have just seen the three babies safely in bed, after no little scampering and carrying-on, and now am ready for a little chat with you and dear mother.  George sits by me, piously reading “Adam Bede.”  I was disappointed in the “Minister’s Wooing,” which he brought from Germany, and can not think Mrs. Stowe came up to herself this time, whatever the newspapers may say about it; and as for the plot, I don’t see why she couldn’t have let Mary marry good old Dr. Hopkins, who was vastly more of a man than that harum-scarum James.  As to “Adam Bede,” I think it a wonderful book, beyond praise.  I hope these literary observations will be blessed to you, my dear.  Mrs. Tholuck sent me a very pretty worsted cape to wear about house, or under a cloak.  We went to Lausanne last Wednesday (George, A. and I) to do a little shopping for Christmas, and had quite a good time, only as life is always mingled in sweet and bitter, bitter and sweet, we had the melancholy experience of finding, when we got ready to come home, that Jules had taken a drop too much, and was in a state of ineffable silliness, which made George prefer to drive himself.

We begin now to think and talk about Paris.  We have been buying this afternoon some Swiss chalets and other things, brought to the door by two women, and I had hard work to keep George from taking a bushel or two.  He got leaf-cutters enough to stab all his friends to the heart.  Most of our lady friends will receive a salad-spoon and fork from one or the other of us.  In fact, I have no doubt we shall be seized at the Custom-house as merchants in disguise.  Well, I must bid you good night.

The latter part of December her husband was requested to go to Paris and take the temporary charge of the American chapel there.  He decided to do so, with the understanding that she and the children should soon follow him.  But scarcely had he left Geneva, when first one and then another of the children was seized with scarlet fever.  Here are a few extracts from her letters on the subject: 

Dec. 31st.—­Jules had hardly gone to the office, when I became satisfied that G. had scarlet fever beyond a doubt, and therefore sent Jeanette instantly to town to tell the doctor so, and to ask him to come up.  He came, and said at once I was quite right....  As to our leaving here, he said decidedly that it could not be under less than forty days.  I can not tell you, my darling, how grieved I am for you to hear this news.  Now I know your first impulse will be to come home, and perhaps to renounce the chaplaincy, but I beg you to think twice—­thrice before you decide to do so....  How one thing hurries on after another!  But it is the universal cry, everywhere; everybody

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is groaning and travailing in pain together; and we shall doubtless learn, in eternity, that our lot was not peculiar, but that we had millions of unknown fellow-sufferers on the way.  Don’t be too disappointed, but let us rather be thankful, that if our poor children must be sick, it was here and not in Paris, and now, good night.  Betake yourself to your knees, when you have read this, and pray for us with all your might.

Jan. 5, 1860.—­The doctor has been here and says the other children must not meet G. till the end of this month, unless they are taken sick meantime.  Poor M. melted like a snow-flake in the fire, when she heard that; she begins to miss her little playmate, and keeps running to say things to him through the key-hole, and to serenade him with singing, accompanied with a rattling of knives.  I see but one thing to be done; for you to stay and preach and me to stay and nurse, each in the place God has assigned us....  You must pray for me, that I may be patient and willing to have my coming to Europe turn out a failure as far as my special enjoyment of it is concerned.  There are better things than going to Paris, being with you and hearing you preach; pray that I may have them in full measure.  I can’t bear to stop writing—­good-bye, my dearest love!

Jan. 15th—­If you could look in upon us this evening, you would be not a little surprised to see me writing in the corner of my room, close to the wash-stand where my lamp is placed; but you would see at a glance that the curtain of the bed is let down to shade our darling little M.’s eyes, as she lies close at my side.  How sorry I am, as you can not see all this, to have to tell it to you!  I have let her decide for me, and she wants dear papa to know that she is sick.  Oh, why need I add another care to those you already suffer on our account!...  As to baby, we are disposed to think that he has had the fever.  Of course we do not know, but it is pleasant to hope the best....  And now, my precious darling, you see there is more praying work to do, as I hinted in my Saturday’s note when my heart was pretty heavy within me.  I need not tell you what to ask for the dear child; but for me do pray that I may have no will of my own.  All these trials and disappointments are so purely Providential that it frightens me to think I may have much secret discontent about them, or may like to plan for myself in ways different from God’s plans.  Yet in the midst of so much care and fatigue I hardly know how I do feel; I am like a feather blown here and there by an unexpected whirlwind and I suppose I ought not to expect much of myself.  “Though He slay me yet will I trust in Him,” I keep saying over and over to myself, and if you are going to write a new sermon this week, suppose you take that for your text.  I have not had one regret that you went to Paris, and as to your coming on, I do hope you will not think of it, unless you are sent for.  You could do nothing and would be very lonely and uncomfortable.  The doctor told me to tell you to stay where you were, and that you ought to rejoice that the children are not sick in Paris.  I do trust that in the end we shall come forth from this troublous time like gold from the furnace.  So far I have been able to do all that was necessary and I trust I shall continue so.  God bless you, and bring us to a happy meeting in His own good time!

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To Mrs. Stearns, Genevrier, Jan. 21, 1860.

...  Boiling over does one good of itself, and I am sure you feel the better for having done so.  I do not know why men seem to get along without such reliefs as women almost always seek in this way; whether there is less water in their kettles or whether their kettles are bigger than ours and boil with more safety.  It is a comfort to believe that, whatever our troubles, in the end all will work together for our good.  The new year has opened upon us here at Genevrier pretty gloomily, as George has told you.  You will not be surprised, therefore, to hear that M. is also quite sick, much sicker than G. She is one of those meek, precious little darlings whom it is painful to see suffer, and I have hardly known what I was about, or where I was, since she was taken down.  My baby is deserted by us all; I have only seen him in moments for three weeks.  You can not think how lonely poor A. is; half the time she eats alone in the big solitary dining-room; nobody has any time to walk out with her, what few children she knew are afraid to come here or to have her come nigh them, and I feel as if I should fly, when I think of it—­for she is not strong or well and her life here in Switzerland has been a series of disappointments and anxieties.  The only leisure moments I can snatch in the course of the twenty-four hours I have to spend in writing to George; but the last few evenings M. has slept, so that I could play a game of chess with her and try to cheer and brace her up against next day’s dreariness.  All her splendid dreams of getting off from this solitude to the life and stir of Paris have been dissipated, but she has never uttered one word of complaint; I have not heard her say as much as “Isn’t it too bad!” And indeed we ought none of us to say so or to feel so, for the doctor assures me that for three such delicate children as he considers ours, to pass safely through whooping-dough and scarlet-fever, is a perfect wonder and that he is sure it is owing to the pure country air.  And when I think how different a scene our house might present if our three little ones had been snatched away, as three or four even have been from other families, I am ashamed of myself that I dare to sigh, that I am lonely and friendless here, or that I have anything to complain of.  It has been no small trial, however, to pass through such anxieties in so remote a place, with George gone; while on the other hand I have been most thankful that he has been spared all the details of the children’s ailments, and permitted once more to feel himself about his Master’s business.  Providence most plainly called him to Paris, and I trust he will stay there and get good till we can join him.  But I feel uneasy about him, too, lest his anxiety about the children should hang as a dead weight on his not quite rested head and heart.  At any rate, I shall be tolerably glad to see him again at the end of our two months’ separation.  How I should love to drop in on you to-night!  Doesn’t it seem as if one could if one tried hard enough!  Well, good night to you.

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To Mrs. Smith, Genevrier, Jan. 29, 1860.

I believe George has written you about our private hospital.  He had not been gone to Paris forty-eight hours when G. was taken sick; that was a month ago, and I have only tasted the air twice in all that time.  G. had the disease lightly.  M., poor little darling, was much sicker than he was.  It is a fortnight since she was taken and she hardly sits up at all; an older child would be in bed, but little ones never will give up if they can help it; I suppose it is because they can be held in the arms and rocked, and carried about.  I have passed through some most anxious hours on account of M., and it seems little less than a miracle that she is still alive.  The baby is well, and he is a nice little rosy fellow.  It was a dreadful disappointment to us to be detained here instead of going to Paris.  I felt that I couldn’t live longer in such entire solitude; and just then, lo and behold, George was whisked off and I was shut up closer than ever.  It is a great comfort to me that he got off just when he did, and has had grace to stay away; on the other hand, I need not say how his absence has aggravated my cares, how solitary the season of anxiety has been, and how, at times, my faith and courage have been put to their utmost stretch.  The whole thing has been so evidently ordered and planned by God that I have not dared to complain; but, my dear child, if you had come in now and then with a little of your strengthening talk, I can’t deny I should have been most thankful.  It has been pretty trying for George to hear such doleful accounts from home, but I hope the worst is over, and that we shall be the wiser and the better for this new lesson of life.  Dr. Curchod’s rule is the same as Dr. Buck’s—­forty days confinement to one room; so we have a month more to spend here.  I am afraid I am writing a gloomy letter.  If I am, you must try to excuse me and say, “Poor child, she isn’t well, and she hasn’t had any good sleep lately, and she’s tired, and I don’t believe she means to grumble.”  Do so much for me, and I’ll do as much for you sometime.  I hear your husband has taken up a Bible-class.  It is perfectly shocking.  Does he want to kill himself, or what ails him?  The pleasantest remembrance we shall have of this place is his visit....  Our doctor and his family stand out as bright lights in this picture; he has been like a brother in sympathy and kindness.  We shall never forget it.  God has been so good to you and to me in sparing our children when assailed by so fearful a disease, that we ought to love Him better than we ever did.  I do so want my weary solitude to bear that fruit.

* * * * *


Paris.  Sight-seeing.  A sick Friend.  London and its Environs.  The Queen and Prince Albert.  The Isle of Wight.  Homeward.

On the 20th of February the family gladly bade adieu to Switzerland and set out for Paris, arriving there on the morning of the 22d.  Mrs. Prentiss was overjoyed to find herself once more in the world.  On the 23d she wrote to Mrs. Smith: 

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We have got here safe and sound with our little batch of invalids.  They bore the journey very well and are heartily glad to get into the world again.  I am chock-full of worldliness.  All I think of is dress and fashion, and, on the whole, I don’t know that you are worth writing to, as you were never in Paris and don’t know the modes, and have perhaps foolishly left off hoops and open sleeves.  I long, however, to hear from you and your new babby, and will try to keep a small spot swept clear of finery in my heart of hearts, where you can sit down when you’ve a mind.  Our little fellow is getting to be a sweet-looking baby, with what his nurse calls a most “gracieuse” smile—­if you can guess what kind of a smile that is.  But he is getting teeth and is looking delicate and soft, and your Hercules will knock him down, I know.

But Paris was far from fulfilling to her or to the children the bright anticipations with which it had been looked forward to from lonely Genevrier.  The weather could hardly have been worse; the house soon became another hospital; and sight-seeing was a task.  Friends, however, soon gathered about her, and by their hospitality and little kindnesses, relieved the tedium of the weary days.

To Mrs. Stearns, Paris, March 27, 1860.

We pass many lonely hours in this big city, and often long for you and Mr. Stearns to drop in, or for a chance to run in to see dear mother.  Getting nearer home makes it attractive.  It works in the natural life just as it does in the spiritual in that respect.  The weather is dreadful and has been for five months—­scarcely one cheery day in that whole time.  What with this and the children’s ill-health, I should not wonder if we left Paris as ignorant of its beauties as when we came.  But I hope we shall not let that worry us too much, but rather be thankful that, bad as things are, they are not so bad as they might be.  Our sympathies are greatly excited now for the Rev. Mr. Little, formerly of Bangor, who is in Paris—­alone, friendless, and sick.  If we could by any miraculous power stretch our scanty accommodations, we should certainly take him home and nurse him till his wife could be got here.  You know, perhaps, that Mrs. Little is a daughter of Dr. Cornelius; and, when I recall the love and honor I was taught to feel towards him when I was a little girl, my heart quite yearns towards her, especially in this time of fearful anxiety about her husband.  How insignificant my own trials look to me, when I think of the sorrow which is probably before her.

April 26th.—­Our patience is still tried by the cold, damp, and most unwholesome weather, which prevents the children from going to see anything.  But we do not care so much for ourselves or for them as for poor Mr. Little, who is exceedingly feeble, chiefly confined to his room, and so forlorn in this strange, homeless land.  While George was with him last evening, he had a bad fit of coughing, which

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resulted in the raising of a gill or so of blood.  I know you will feel interested to hear about him, and will not wonder that our hearts are so full of sympathy for him and for his poor wife, that we can hardly talk of anything else.  He expects her in about a week.  What a coming to Europe for her!  How little those who stand on the shore to watch the departure of a foreign steamer, know what they do when they envy its passengers!...  We buckled on our armor and began sight-seeing the other day, going to see the Sainte Chapelle and the galleries and museum of the Louvre among the rest.  The Sainte Chapelle is quite unlike anything I ever saw and delighted us extremely.  As to the Louvre, one needs several entire days to do justice to it, besides an amount of youthful enthusiasm and bodily strength which we do not possess; for, amid midnight watchings over our sick children and the like, the oil of gladness has about burnt out, and we find sight-seeing a weary task.

May 25th.—­It does seem as if George’s preaching was listened to with more and more serious attention, and it may be seen long after he has rested from his labors on earth, that he has done a good work here.  We both are much interested in Professor [6] Huntington’s sermons, [7] sent us by Miss W. This is a great deal for me to say, because I do not like to read sermons.  During the last three weeks, before Mr. and Mrs. Little left, we accomplished very little.  It was not that we did or could do so very much for them, but they had nobody to depend on but us, and George was constantly going back and forth trying to make them comfortable, arranging all their affairs, etc.  She had a weary, anxious two weeks here, and now has set her face homewards, not knowing but Mr. L. may sink before reaching America.  It is a great comfort to us to have been able to soothe them somewhat as long as they stayed in Paris.  George says it was worth coming here for that alone.  I say we, but I mean George, for what was done he did.  The most I could do was to feel dreadfully for them. [8]

We are now to begin sight-seeing again, and do all we can as speedily as possible, for only two weeks remain.  The children are now pretty well.  The baby is at that dangerous age when they are forever getting upon their feet and tumbling over backward on their heads.  M. is the oddest little soul.  Belle says she would rather go to a funeral than see all the shops in Paris, and, when they are out, she can hardly keep her from following every such procession they meet.  I asked her the last time they went out if she had had a nice walk.  She said not very nice, as she had only seen one pretty thing, and that was a police-officer taking a man to jail.  The idea of going to England is very pleasant, and, if we only keep tolerably well, I think it will do us all good.  What is dear mother doing about these times?  I always think of her as sitting by the little work-table in her room, knitting and watching the children.  Give lots of love and kisses to her, and tell her we long to see her face to face.  Kiss all the children for us—­I suppose they’ll let you! boys and all—­and you may do as much for Mr. S. if you want to.  Good-bye.

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On the 7th of June the family left Paris for London.  A first visit to England—­

    That precious stone set in the silver sea—­

is always an event full of interest to children of the New England Puritans.  The “sceptered isle” is still in a sense their mother-country, and a thousand ancestral ties attract them to its shores.  There is no other spot on earth where so many lines of their history, domestic and public, meet.  And in London, what familiar memories are for them associated with almost every old street and lane and building!

The winter and spring of 1860 had been cold, wet and cheerless well-nigh beyond endurance; and the summer proved hardly less dreary.  It rained nearly every day, sometimes all day and all night; the sun came out only at long intervals, and then often but for a moment; the atmosphere, much of the time, was like lead; the moon and stars seemed to have left the sky; even the English landscape, in spite of its matchless verdure and beauty, put on a forbidding aspect.  All nature, indeed, was under a cloud.  This, added to her frail health, made the summer a very trying one to Mrs. Prentiss, and yet it afforded her not a little real delight.  Some of her pleasantest days in Europe were spent in England.  The following extracts are from a little journal kept by her in London: 

June 10th.—­We went this morning to hear Dr. Hamilton, and were greatly edified by the sermon, which was on the text:  “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”  In the afternoon we decided to go to Westminster Abbey.  It began to rain soon after we got out, and we had a two miles’ walk through the mud.  The old abbey looked as much like its picture as it could, but pictures can not give a true idea of the grandeur of such a building.  We were a little late, and every seat was full and many were standing, as we had to do through the whole service.  The sermon struck me as a very ordinary affair, though it was delivered by a lord.  But the music was so sweet, performed for aught I know by angel—­for the choir was invisible—­and we stood surrounded by such monuments and covered by such a roof, that we were not quite throwing away our time.  Albert B——­ dined with us, and in the evening, with one accord, we went to hear Dr. Hamilton again.  We had good seats and heard a most beautiful as well as edifying discourse on the first verses of the 103d Psalm.  Some of the images were very fine, and the whole tone of the sermon was moderate, sensible, and serious.  I use these words advisedly, for I had an impression that he was a flowery, popular man whom I should not relish.  At the close of the service a little prayer-meeting of half an hour was held, and we came home satisfied with our first English Sunday, feeling some of our restless cravings already quieted as only contact with God’s own people could quiet them.

11th.—­Went to see the Crystal Palace.  It proved a fine day, and we took M. with us.  None of us felt quite well, but we enjoyed this new and beautiful scene for all that.  It is a little fairy land.

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14th.—­Went to Westminster Abbey, and spent some time there.  On coming out we made a rapid, but quite amusing passage through several courts where we saw numerous great personages in stiff little gray wigs.  To my untrained, irreverent eyes they all looked perfectly funny.  George was greatly interested and edified.  It has been raining and shining by turns all day, and is this evening very cold.

15th.—­Another of those days which the English so euphoniously term “nasty.”  Not knowing what else to do with it, we set off in search of No. 5 Sermon Lane, a house connected with a stereoscopic establishment in Paris, which we reached after many evolutions and convolutions, and found it to be a wholesale concern only.  Pitying us for the trouble we had been at in seeking them, they let us have what views we wanted, but at higher prices than they sell them at Paris.  We then went to the Tract House, and while selecting French and other tracts, a gentleman came and asked for a quantity of the “Last Hours of Dr. Payson.”

16th.—­Went to the Tower, and had a most interesting visit there.  We were particularly struck by some spots shown us by one of the wardens, after the regular round had been gone through with, and the other visitors dispersed—­namely, the cell where prisoners were confined with thumbscrews attached to elicit confession, and the floor where Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned.  We looked from the window where she saw her husband carried to execution, and A. was locked up in the room so as to be able to say she had been a prisoner in the Tower.

17th.—­Heard Dr. Hamilton again.  Met Dr. and Mrs. Adams of New York there, and had a most kind and cordial greeting from them.  Dr. A. introduced us to Dr. Hamilton.  In the evening we went to hear Dr. Adams at Dr. H.’s church, and came home quite proud of our countryman, who gave us a most excellent sermon.  At the close of the service Dr. H. invited us to take tea with him next week, and introduced us to his wife; a young, quiet little lady, looking as unlike most of us American parsonesses as possible, her parochial cares being, perhaps, less weighty than ours.

18th.—­Two things made this day open pleasantly.  One was a decided attempt on the part of the sun to come out and shine.  The second was Dr. Adams’ dropping in and taking breakfast with us.  We also got letters from home, and the news that Mr. Little had reached New York in safety.  After lunch, George went off in glory to the House of Commons, hinting that he might stay there till to-morrow morning, and begging for a night-key to let himself in.  The rest of us went to the Zoological Garden, which is much more ample and interesting than the Jardin des Plantes.

20th.—­Yesterday it poured in torrents all day, so that going out was not possible.  To-day we went out in the drops and between the drops, to do a little shopping in the way of razors, scissors, knives, needles, and such like sharp and pointed things.  We stepped into Nesbit’s and took a view of Little Susy, who looked as usual, bought a few books, subscribed to a library, coveted our neighbor’s property, and came home covered with mud and mire.

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22d.—­Went out to Barnet to call on Miss Bird.  On reaching the station, we found Miss B. awaiting us with phaeton and pony.  We were driven over a pretty three miles route to “Hurst Cottage,” where we were introduced to Mrs. Bird and a younger daughter, and I had a nice little lunch, together with pleasant chat about America in general and E. L. S. in particular.  Miss Bird said she showed her likeness to a gentleman, who is a great physiognomist, and asked his opinion of her.  He replied, “She is a genius, a poetess, a Christian, and a true wife and mother.”  We then went up-stairs, and looked at Miss B.’s little study, after which she took us to see the church in Hadley, a very old building dating back to 1494.  It has been repaired and restored and is a beautiful little church.  On leaving it Miss Bird came with us a part of the way to the station and we got home in good season for dinner.  The weather, true to its rule, could not last fine, and so this evening it is raining again. [9]

24th.—­No rain all day!  Can it be true?  George went in the morning to hear Mr. Binney, and A. and I to Dr. Hamilton’s, who preached a very good sermon on a favorite text of mine, “I beseech Thee show me Thy glory.”  In the evening Dr. Patton, of New York, induced us to go with himself and wife to a meeting at a theatre three miles off.  The Rev. Mr. Graham preached.  It was an interesting, but touching and saddening sight to look upon the congregation; to wonder why they came, and whether they would come again, and whether under those stolid and hardened faces there yet lay humanity.  Many came with babies in their arms, who made themselves very much at home; some were in dirty week-day clothes; “some in rags and some in jags.”  Coming home we passed the spot where John Rogers was burned, and that where in time of the plague dead bodies were thrown in frightful heaps into one grave.

25th.—­We took tea at Dr. Hamilton’s, where we had a very pleasant evening, meeting Dr. and Mrs. Adams, as well as all Dr. H.’s session.  Dr. H. strikes one most agreeably, and seems as genial and as full of life as a boy.

26th.—­Visited Windsor Castle with Dr. Adams and his party, ten of us in all.  We drove afterward to see the country church-yard, where Grey wrote his elegy and where he now lies buried.  This was a most charming little trip and we all enjoyed it exceedingly.  The young folks gathered leaves and flowers for their books.

29th.—­Last evening we had a nice time and a cup of tea with the Adamses.  To-day—­another nasty day—­they lunched with us, which broke up its gloom and we went with them to see Sloan’s museum, a most interesting collection.  We all enjoyed its novelty as well as its beauty.

She also records the pleasure with which she visited the National Gallery, Madame Tussaud’s Collection, the British Museum, Richmond, the Kew Gardens, and Bunhill Fields Burying-Ground, and, in particular, the grave of “Mr. John Bunyan.”

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Not long before leaving London she attended a Sunday evening service for the people in Westminster Abbey, which interested her deeply.  It suggested—­or rather was the original of—­the scene in The Story Lizzie Told: 

When we first got into that grand place, I was scared, and thought they would drive us poor folks out.  But when I looked round, most everybody was poor too.  At last I saw some of them get down on their knees, and some shut their eyes, and some took off their hats and held them over their faces.  Father couldn’t, because he had me in his arms; and so I took it off, and held it for him.

“What’s it for?” says I.

“Hush,” says father, “the parson’s praying.”

When I showed IT to God, the room seemed full of Him.  But that’s a small room.  The church is a million and a billion times as big, isn’t it, ma’am?  But when the minister prayed, that big church seemed just as full as it could hold.  Then, all of a sudden, they burst out a-singing.  Father showed me the card with large letters on it, and says he, “Sing, Lizzie, Sing!”

And so I did.  It was the first time in my life.  The hymn said,

  Jesus, lover of my soul,
  Let me to Thy bosom fly,

and I whispered to father, “Is Jesus God?” “Yes, yes,” said he, “Sing, Lizzie, sing!”

After the praying and the singing, came the preaching, I heard every word.  It was a beautiful story.  It told how sorry Jesus was for us when we did wrong, bad things, and how glad He was when we were good and happy.  It said we must tell Him all our troubles and all our joys, and feel sure that He knew just how to pity us, because He had been a poor man three and thirty years, on purpose to see how it seemed.

The most stirring sight by far which she witnessed while in London, was a review of 20,000 volunteers by the Queen in Hyde Park, on the 23d of June.  She waited for it several hours, standing much of the time upon a camp-stool.  As her Majesty appeared, accompanied by Prince Albert, the curiosity of the immense crowd “rose to such a pitch that every conceivable method was resorted to, to catch a glimpse of the field.  Men climbed on each other’s shoulders, gave ‘fabulous prices’ for chairs, boxes, and baskets, raised their wives and sweethearts high in the air, and so by degrees our view was quite obstructed.” [10] The scene did not, perhaps, in numbers or in the brilliant array of fashion, rank, and beauty surpass, nor in military pomp and circumstance did it equal, a grand review she had witnessed not long before in the Champ de Mars; but in other respects it was far more impressive.  Among the volunteers were thousands of young men in whose veins ran the best and most precious blood in England.  And then to an American wife and mother, Queen Victoria was a million times more interesting than Louis Napoleon.  She stood then, as happily she still stands, at the head of the Christian womanhood of the world; and

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that in virtue not solely of her exalted position and influence, but of her rare personal and domestic virtues as well.  She was then also at the very height of her felicity.  How little she or any one else in that thronging multitude dreamed, that before the close of the coming year the form of the noble Prince, who rode by her side wearing an aspect of such manly beauty and content, and who was so worthy to be her husband, would lie mouldering in the grave! [11]

About the middle of July Mrs. Prentiss with her husband and children left London for Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, where, in spite of cold and rainy weather, she passed two happy months.  With the exception of Chateau d’Oex, no place in Europe had proved to her such a haven of rest.  Miss Scott, the hostess, was kindness itself.  The Isle of Wight in summer is a little paradise; and in the vicinity of Ventnor are some of its loveliest scenes.  Her enjoyment was enhanced by the society of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Abbott, who were then sojourning there.  An excursion taken with Mr. Abbott was doubly attractive; for, as might be inferred from his books, he was one of the most genial and instructive of companions, whether for young or old.  A pilgrimage to the home and grave of the Dairyman’s Daughter and to the grave of “Little Jane,” and a day and night at Alum Bay, were among the pleasantest incidents of the summer at Ventnor.

Of the visit to “Little Jane’s” grave she gives the following account in her journal: 

Aug. 10th.—­To-day being unusually fine, we undertook our long-talked-of expedition to Brading.  On reaching the churchyard we asked a little boy who followed us in if he could point out “Little Jane’s” grave; he said he could and led us at once to the spot.  How little she dreamed that pilgrimages would be made to her grave!  Our pigmy guide next conducted us to the grave-stones, where her task was learned.  “How old are you, little fellow?” I asked. “Getting an to five,” he replied.  “And does everybody who comes here give you something?” “Some don’t.”  “That’s very naughty of them,” I continued; “after all your trouble they ought to give you something.”  A shrewd smile was his answer, and George then gave him some pennies.  “What do you do with your pennies?” I asked.  “I puts them in my pocket.”  “And then what do you do?” “I saves them up.”  “And what then?” “My mother buys shoe’s when I get enough.  She is going to buy me some soon with nails in them!  These are dropping to pieces” (no such thing).  “If that is the case,” quoth George, “I think I must give you some more pennies.”  “Thank you,” said the boy.  “Do you see my sword?” George then asked him if he went to church and to Sunday-school.  “Oh, yes, and there was an organ, and they learned to sing psalms.”  “And to love God?” asked George.  “Yes, yes,” he answered, but not with much unction, and so we turned about and came home.

To Mrs. Stearns, Ventnor, Aug. 24, 1860.

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As this is to be our last letter home, it ought to be a very brilliant one, but I am sure it won’t; and when I look back over the past two years and think how many stupid ones I have written you, I feel almost ashamed of myself.  But on the other hand I wonder I have written no duller ones, for our staying so long at a time in one place has given small chance for variety and description.  It is raining and blowing at a rate that you, who are roasting at home, can hardly conceive; we agreed yesterday that if you were blindfolded and suddenly set down here and told to guess what season of the year it was, you would judge by your feelings and the wind roaring down the chimney, that it was December.  However disagreeable this may be it is more invigorating than hot weather, and George and the children have all improved very much.  George enjoys bathing and climbing the “downs” and the children are out nearly all day when it does not rain.  You may remember that the twilight is late in England, and even the baby is often out till half-past eight or nine....  I just keep my head above water by having no cares or fatigue at night.  I feel dreadfully that I am so helpless a creature, but I believe God keeps me so for my mortification and improvement, and that I ought to be willing to lead this good-for-nothing life if He chooses.  We have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. Abbott here.  They have gone now to spend the winter in Paris.  Mrs. A. sent her love to you again and again, and I was very glad to meet her for your sake as well as her own, and to know Mr. A. better than I did before, and it was very pleasant to George to chat with him.  We walked together to see Shanklin Chine.  A. went with us, and Mr. Abbott amused her so on the way that she came home quite dissatisfied with her stupid papa and mamma.

We are talking of little else now but getting home, and it is a pity you could not take down the walls of our hidden souls and see the various wishes and feelings we have on the subject.  I forgot to say how glad we were that you found George Prentiss such a nice boy. [12] I always loved him for Abby’s sake and he certainly was worthy of the affection she felt for him as the most engaging child I ever knew; he is a thorough Prentiss still, it seems.  What is he going to be?  You must feel queer to have a boy in college; it is like a strange dream.  Our boys are two spunky little toads who need, or will need, all our energies to bring up.  I have quite got my hand out, M. is so good—­and hate to begin.  But good-bye, with love to mother, Mr. S. and the children.

The family embarked at Cowes on the magnificent steamship “Adriatic,” September 13th, and, after a rough voyage, reached New York on the 24th of the same month.  Old friends awaited their coming and welcomed them home again with open arms.  It was a happy day for Mrs. Prentiss, and in the abundance of its joy she forgot the anxious and solitary months through which she had just been passing.  She came back with four children instead of three; her husband was, partially at least, restored to health; and she breathed once more her native air.

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[1] A most faithful servant, to whom Mrs. P. was greatly attached.

[2] The Hon. Benjamin F. Butler, of New York, was one of the most honored members of the Mercer street church.  He was known throughout the country as an eminent lawyer and patriotic citizen.  In the circle of his friends he was admired and beloved for his singular purity of character, his scholarly tastes, the kindness of his heart, and all the other fine qualities that go to form the Christian gentleman.  During a portion of President Jackson’s administration Mr. Butler was Attorney-General of the United States.  He died in the sixty-third year of his age.

[3] Referring to the death of Dr. Stearns’ mother, Mrs. Abigail Stearns, of Bedford, Mass.

[4] Mrs. Wainwright and her husband, the late Eli Wainwright, were members of the old Mercer street Presbyterian church, and both of them unwearied in their kindness to Mrs. Prentiss and her husband.


  “Far along,
  From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,

  Leaps the live thunder!  Not from one lone cloud,
  But every mountain now hath found a tongue,

  And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,
  Back to the joyous Alps, which call to her aloud!”

[6] Now Bishop of the P. E. Church of Central New York.

[7] “Christian Believing and Living.”

[8] The Rev. George B. Little was born in Castine, Maine, December 21, 1821.  He was graduated at Bowdoin College in 1843.  Having studied theology at Andover, he was ordained in 1849 pastor of the First Congregational church in Bangor, Me.  In 1850 he married Sarah Edwards, daughter of that admirable and whole-souled servant of Christ, the Rev. Elias Cornelius, D.D.  In November, 1857, Mr. Little was installed as pastor of the Congregational church in West Newton, Mass.  Early in March, 1860, he went abroad for his health, but returned home again in May, and died among his own people, July 20, 1860.  The last words he littered were, “I shall soon be with Christ.”  Mr. Little was a man of superior gifts, full of scholarly enthusiasm, and devoted to his Master’s work.

[9] Miss Bird is known to the world by her remarkable books of travel in Japan and elsewhere.

[10] An account of the Volunteer Review in Hyde Park is given in Sir Theodore Martin’s admirable Life of the Prince Consort, Vol.  V., pp. 105-6, Am.  Ed. The Prince himself, in responding to a toast the same evening, speaks of it as “a scene which will never fade from the memory of those who had the good fortune to be present.”

[11] It is hardly possible to allude to the great affliction of this illustrious lady without thinking also of the persistent acts of womanly sympathy by which, during the anguish and suspense of the past two months, she has tried to minister comfort to the stricken wife of our suffering and now sainted President.  Certainly, the whole case is unique in the history of the world.  By this most tender and Christ-like sympathy, she has endeared herself in a wonderful manner to the heart of the American people.  God bless Queen Victoria! they say with one voice.—­New York, September 24, 1881.

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[12] The eldest son of her brother-in-law, Mr. S. S. Prentiss, a youth of rare promise, and who had especially endeared himself to his Aunt Abby.  He died of fever at Tallahoma, Tennessee, during the war.





At Home again in New York.  The Church of the Covenant.  Increasing Ill-health.  The Summer of 1861.  Death of Louisa Payson Hopkins.  Extracts from her Journal.  Summer of 1862.  Letters.  Despondency.

We come now to a new phase of Mrs. Prentiss’ experience as a pastor’s wife.  Before her husband resigned his New York charge, during the winter of 1857-8, the question of holding a service in the upper part of the city, with the view to another congregation, was earnestly discussed in the session and among the leading members of the church, but nothing then came of it.  Soon after his return from Europe, however, the project was revived, and resulted at length in the formation of the Church of the Covenant.  In consequence of the great civil war, which was then raging, the undertaking encountered difficulties so formidable, that nothing but extraordinary zeal, liberality, and wise counsel on the part of his friends and the friends of the movement could overcome them.  For two or three years the new congregation held service in what was then called Dodworth’s Studio Building at the corner of Fifth avenue and Twenty-sixth street, but in 1864 it entered the chapel on Thirty-fifth street, and in 1865 occupied the stately edifice on Park avenue.  In the manifold labors, trials, and discouragements connected with this work, Mrs. Prentiss shared with her husband; and, when finally crowned with the happiest success, it owed perhaps as much to her as to him.  This brief statement seems needful in order to define and render clear her position, as a pastor’s wife, during the next twelve years.

After spending some weeks in Newark and Portland, she found herself once more in New York in a home of her own and surrounded by friends, both old and new.  The records of the following four or five years are somewhat meagre and furnish few incidents of special significance.  The war, with its terrible excitement and anxieties, absorbed all minds and left little spare time for thought or feeling about anything else.  Domestic and personal interests were entirely overshadowed by the one supreme interest of the hour—­that of the imperiled National life.  It was for Mrs. Prentiss a period also of almost continuous ill-health.  The sleeplessness from which she had already suffered so much assumed more and more a chronic character, and, aggravated by other ailments and by the frequent illness of her younger children, so undermined her strength, that life became at times a heavy burden.  She felt often that her days of usefulness were past.  But the Master had yet a great work for her to do, and—­

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  In ways various,
  Or, might I say, contrarious—­

He was training her for it during these years of bodily infirmity and suffering.

The summer of 1861 was passed at Newport.  In a letter to Mrs. Smith, dated July 28th, she writes: 

We find the Cliff House delightful, within a few minutes’ walk of the sea, which we have in full view from one of our windows.  And we have no lack of society, for the Bancrofts, Miss Aspinwall and her sister, as well as the Skinners, are very friendly.  But I am so careworn and out of sorts, that this beautiful ocean gives me little comfort.  I seem to be all the time toting one child or another about, or giving somebody paregoric or rhubarb, or putting somebody to sleep, or scolding somebody for waking up papa, who is miserable, and his oration untouched.  There, don’t mind me; it’s at the end of a churchless Sunday, and I dare say I am “only peevis’,” as the little boy said.

But in a few weeks the children were well again and her own health so much improved, that she was able to indulge in surf-bathing, which she “enjoyed tremendously,” and early in the fall the whole family returned to town greatly refreshed by the summer’s rest.

On the 24th of January, 1862, her sister, Mrs. Hopkins, died.  This event touched her deeply.  She hurried off to Williamstown, whence she wrote to her husband, who was unable to accompany her: 

If you had known that I should not get here till half-past nine last night, and that in an open sleigh from North Adams, you would not have let me come.  But so far I am none the worse for it; and, when I came in and found the Professor and T. and Eddy sitting here all alone and so forlorn in their unaccustomed leisure, I could not be thankful enough that a kind Providence had allowed me to come.  It is a very great gratification to them all, especially to the Professor, and even more so than I had anticipated.  In view of the danger of being blocked up by another snow-storm, I shall probably think it best to return by another route, which they all say is the best.  I hope you and my precious children keep well.

No picture of Mrs. Prentiss’ life would be complete, in which her sister’s influence was not distinctly visible.  To this influence she owed the best part of her earlier intellectual training; and it did much to mould her whole character.  Mrs. Hopkins was one of the most learned, as well as most gifted, women of her day; and had not ill-health early disabled her for literary labors, she might, perhaps, have won for herself an enduring name in the literature of the country.  There were striking points of resemblance between her and Sara Coleridge; the same early intellectual bloom; the same rare union of feminine delicacy and sensibility with masculine strength and breadth of understanding; the same taste for the beautiful in poetry, in art, and in nature, joined to similar fondness for metaphysical studies; the same delight in books

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of devotion and in books of theology; and the same varied erudition.  Only one of them seems to have been an accomplished Hebraist, but both were good Latin and Greek scholars; and both were familiar with Italian, Spanish, French, and German.  Even in Sara Coleridge’s admiration and reverence for her father, Mrs. Hopkins was in full sympathy with her.  She lacked, indeed, that poetic fancy which belonged to the author of “Phantasmion;” nor did she possess her mental self-poise and firmness of will; but in other respects, even in physical organization and certain features of countenance, they were singularly alike.  And they both died in the fiftieth year of their age.

Louisa Payson was born at Portland, February 24, 1812.  Even as a child she was the object of tender interest to her father on account of her remarkable intellectual promise.  He took the utmost pains to aid and encourage her in learning to study and to think.  The impression he made upon her may be seen in the popular little volume entitled “The Pastor’s Daughter,” which consists largely of conversations with him, written out from memory after his death.  She was then in her sixteenth year.  The records of the next eight years, which were mostly spent in teaching, are very meagre; but a sort of literary journal, kept by her between 1835 and 1840, shows something of her mental quality and character, as also of her course of reading.  She was twenty-three years old when the journal opens.  Here are a few extracts from it: 

BOSTON, Nov. 18, 1835.

Last evening I passed in company with Mr. Dana. [1] I conversed with him only for a few moments about Mr. Alcott’s school, and had not time to ask one of the ten thousand questions I wished to ask.  I have been trying to analyse the feeling I have for men of genius, Coleridge, Wordsworth and Dana, for example.  I can understand why I feel for them unbounded admiration, reverence and affection, but I hardly know why there should be so much excitement—­painful excitement—­mingled with these emotions.  Next to possessing genius myself would be the pleasure of living with one who possessed it.

Nov. 19th.—­I have read to-day one canto of Dante’s Inferno and eight or ten pages of Cicero de Amicitia.  In this, as well as in de Senectute which I have just finished, I am much interested.  I confess I am not a little surprised to find how largely the moderns are indebted to the ancients; how many wise observations on life, and death, the soul, time, eternity, etc, have been repeated by the sages of every generation since the days of Cicero.

Jan. 14th, 1836.—­I spent last evening with Mr. Dana, and the conversation was, of course, of great interest.  We talked of some of the leading Reviews of the day, and then of the character of our literature as connected with our political institutions.  This led to a long discussion of the latter subject, but as the same views are expressed in Mr. D.’s article on Law, I shall pass it over. [2] I differed from him in regard to the French comedies, especially those of Moliere; however, he allowed that they contain genuine humor, but they are confined to the exhibition of one ridiculous point in the character, instead of giving us the whole man as Shakespeare does.

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Sept, 22d.—­This morning I have had one of the periods of insight, when the highest spiritual truths pertaining to the divine and human natures, become their own light and evidence, as well as the evidence of other truths.  No speculations, no ridicule can shake my faith in that which I thus see and feel.  I was particularly interested in thinking of the regeneration of the spirit and the part which Faith, Hope, and Love, have in effecting it.

Sab. 23d.—­It seems to me that this truth alone, there is a God, is sufficient, rightly believed, to make every human being absolutely and perfectly happy.

Jan. 14th, 1839.—­Wednesday evening attended Mr. Emerson’s lecture on Genius, of which I shall attempt to say nothing except that it was most delightful.  Thursday morning Mr. Emerson [3] called to see me and gave me a ticket for his course.  Afterwards Mr. Dana called.  It seems to me that I have lived backwards; in other words, the faculties of my mind which were earliest developed, were those which in other minds come last—­reflection and solidity of judgment; while fancy and imagination, in so far as I have any at all, have followed.

Sat.  Jan. 26th.—­My occupations in the way of books at present, consist in reading “Antigone,” Guizot’s “History,” Lockhart’s “Scott,” and sundries. I am also translating large extracts from Claudius, with a view to writing an article about him, if the fates shall so will it. [4]

Thurs.  Jan. 1st.—­Mr. Emerson’s lecture last night was on Comedy.  He professed to enter on the subject with reluctance, as conscious of a deficiency in the organ of the ludicrous—­a profession, however, that was not substantiated very well by the lecture itself, which convulsed the audience with laughter.  He spoke in the commencement of the silent history written in the faces of an assembly, making them as interesting to a spectator as if their lives were written in their features.

25th.—­I began yesterday Schleiermacher’s “Christliche Glaube”—­a profound, learned, and difficult work, I am told—­Jouffroy’s “Philosophical Writings,” Landor’s “Pericles and Aspasia,” and “The Gurney Papers.”  Considering that I was already in the midst of several books, this is rather too much, but I could not help it; the books were lent me and must be read and returned speedily.  I have been all the morning employed in writing an abstract of the Report of the Prison Discipline Society, and am wearied and stupefied.

Jan. 7th, 1840.—­Went to Mr. Ripley’s where I met Dr. Channing, and listened to a discussion of Spinoza’s religious opinions.  This afternoon Mr. D. came again; talked about the Trinity and other theological points.  This evening, heard Prof.  Silliman.  I have nearly finished Fichte, and like him on the whole exceedingly, though I think he errs in placing the roots of the speculative in the practical reason.  It seems to me that neither grows out of the other, but that they are coincident spheres.  Still, there is a truth, a great truth, in what he says.  It is true that action is often the most effectual remedy against speculative doubts and perplexities.  When you are in the dark about this or that point, ask what command does conscience impose upon me at this moment—­obey it and you will find light.

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These extracts will suffice to show the quality and extent of her reading.  What sort of fruit her reading and study bore may be seen by her articles on Claudius and Goethe, in the New York Review.  No abler discussion of the genius and writings of Goethe had at that time appeared in this country; while the article on Claudius was probably the first to make him known to American readers.

During many of the later years of her life Mrs. Hopkins was a martyr to ill-health.  The story of her sufferings, both physical and mental, as artlessly told in little diaries which she kept, is “wondrous pitiful;” no pen of fiction could equal its simple pathos.  Again and again, as she herself knew, she was on the very verge of insanity; nothing, probably, saving her from it but the devotion of her husband, who with untiring patience and a mother’s tenderness ministered, in season and out of season, to her relief.  Often would he steal home from his beloved Observatory, where he had been teaching his students how to watch the stars, and pass a sleepless night at her bedside, reading to her and by all sorts of gentle appliances trying to soothe her irritated nerves.  And this devotion ran on, without variableness or shadow of turning, year after year, giving itself no rest until her eyes were closed in death. [5]

Let us now resume our narrative.  A portion of the summer of 1862 was passed by Mrs. Prentiss at Newport.  Her season of rest was again invaded by severe illness among her children.  Under date of August 3d, she writes to Mrs. Smith: 

I can see that our landlady, who has good sense and experience, thinks G. will not get well.  Sometimes, in awful moments, I think so too; but then I cheer up and get quite elated.  Last night as I lay awake, too weary to sleep, I heard a harsh, rasping sound like a large saw.  I thought some animal unknown to me must be making it, it was so regular and frequent.  But after a time I found it was a dying young soldier who lives farther from this house than Miss H. does from our house in New York.  His fearful cough!  Oh, this war! this war!  I never hated and revolted against it as I did then.  I had heard some one say such a young man lay dying of consumption in this street, but till then was too absorbed with my own incessant cares to hear the cough, as the rest had done.  I never realised how I felt about our country till I found the terror of losing, a link out of that little golden chain that encircles my sweetest joys, was a kindred suffering.  Have the times ever looked so black as they do now?  We seem to be drifting round without chart or pilot.

Two weeks later, August 17th, she writes to her cousin, Miss Shipman: 

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G. is really up and about, looking thin and white, and feeling hungry and weak; but little H. has been sick with the same disease these ten days past.  I got your letter and the little cat, for which G. and I thank you very much.  I should think it would about kill you to cook all day even for our soldiers, but on the whole can not blame any one who wants to get killed in their service.  I am impressed more and more with their claims upon us, who confront every danger and undergo every suffering, while we sit at home at our ease.  However, the ease I have enjoyed during the last five weeks has not been of a very luxurious kind, and I have felt almost discouraged, as day after day of confinement and night after night of sleeplessness has pulled down my strength.  But, what am I doing?  Complaining, instead of rejoicing that I am not left unchastised.

After a careworn summer at Newport, she went with the children to Williamstown, where a month was passed with her brother-in-law, Professor Hopkins.  The following letters relate to this visit: 

To her Husband, Williamstown, Sept. 19, 1862.

I am glad to find that you place reliance on the reports of our late victory, for I have been in great suspense, seeing only The World, which was throwing up its hat and declaring the war virtually ended.  I have no faith in such premature assertions, of which we have had so many, but was most anxious to know your opinion.  Do not fail to keep me informed of what is going on.  The children are all out of doors and enjoying themselves.  The Professor has gone on horseback to see about his buckwheat.  He took me up there yesterday afternoon, and I crawled through forty fences (more or less) and got a vast amount of exercise, which did not result in any better sleep, however, than no exercise does.  Caro.  H. read me yesterday a most interesting letter from her brother Henry, describing the scene at Bull Run when he went there five days after the battle.  It is very painful to find such mismanagement as he deplores.  He gave a most touching account of a young fellow who lay mortally wounded, where he had lain uncared-for with his companions the five days, and whom they were obliged to decline removing, as they had only room for a portion of the hopeful cases.  After beseeching Mr. H. to see that he was removed, and entreating to know when and how he was ever to get home if they left him, he was told that it was not possible to make room for him in this train of ambulances.  As Mr. H. tore himself away, he heard him say,

  “Here, Lord, I give myself away;
  ’Tis all that I can do.”

The torture of the wounded men in the ambulances was so frightful, that Mr. H. gave each of them morphine enough to kill three well men.  They “cried for it like dogs and licked my hands lest they should lose a drop,” he adds.  As a contrast to this letter, some of the new recruits came into the Professor’s grounds yesterday to get bouquets, and thought if their folks had a “yard” so gayly decked with flowers they would feel set up.

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To Mrs. Smith, Williamstown, Sept. 25, 1862.

I have been feeling languid, or lazy, ever since I came here, and for a few days past have been miserable; but I am better to-day.  This place is perfectly lovely and grows upon me every day.  But the Professor is entirely absorbed in his loss.  He does not know it, or else thinks he does not show it, for he makes no complaint, but it is in every tone and word and look.  It is plain that Louisa’s ill-health, which might have weaned a selfish man from her, only endeared her to him; she was so entirely his object day and night, that he misses her and the care of her, as a mother does her sick child.  If we ride out he says, “Here I often came with her;” if a bird sings, “That is a note she used to love;” if we see a flower, “That is one of the flowers she loved.”  He has an astonishing amount of journal manuscripts, and I think may in time prepare something from them....  Isn’t it frightful how cotton goods have run up!  I gave twenty cents for a yard of silicia (is that the way to spell it?) and suppose everything else has rushed up too.  I hope you are prepared to tell me exactly what to buy and instruct me in the way I should go.

To her Husband, Williamstown, Sept. 26.

I spent yesterday forenoon looking over Louisa’s papers and found an enormous mass of manuscript; journals, extract books, translations, and work enough planned and begun for many lifetimes.  It was very depressing.  One’s only refuge is faith in God, and in the certainty that her lingering illness was more acceptable to Him than years of active usefulness, and such extraordinary usefulness even as she was so fitted for.  I read over some of my own letters written many, many years ago; and the sense this gave me of lost youth and vivacity and energy, was, for a time, most painful....  I have felt for a long while greatly discouraged and depressed, yes, weary of my life, because it seems to me that broken down and worn out as I am, and full of faults under which I groan, being burdened, I could not make you happy.  But your last letter comforted me a good deal.  I see little for us to do but what you suggest:  to cheer each other up and wear out rather than rust out.  It is more and more clear to me, that patience is our chief duty on earth, and that we can not rest here.

I am anxious to know what you think of the President’s Proclamation. [6] The Professor likes it.  He seems able to think of little but his loss.  Even when speaking in the most cheerful way, tears fill his eyes, and the other day putting a letter into my hands to read, he had to run out of the room.  The letter stated that fifty young persons owed their conversion to Louisa’s books; it was written some years ago.  His mother spent Saturday here.  She is very bright and cheerful and full of sly humor; he did everything to amuse her and she enjoyed her visit amazingly.  I long to see you.  Letters are more and more unsatisfactory, delusive things.  M. is going to have a “party” this afternoon, and is going to one this forenoon.  The others are bright and busy as bees.  Good-bye.

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A tinge of sadness is perceptible in most of her letters during this year.  Her sister’s death, the fearful state of the country, protracted sickness among her children, and her own frequent ill-turns and increasing sense of feebleness, all conspired to produce this effect.  But in truth her heart was still as young as ever and a touch of sympathy, or an appeal to her love of nature, instantly made it manifest.  An extract from a letter to Miss Anna Warner, dated New York, December 16th, may serve as an instance:  I wanted to write a book when the trunk came this afternoon; that is, a book full of thanks and exclamation marks.  You could not have bought with money anything for my Christmas present, that could give half the pleasure.  I shut myself up in my little room up-stairs (I declare I don’t believe you saw that room! did you?), and there I spread out my mosses and my twigs and my cones and my leaves and admired them till I had to go out and walk to compose myself.  Then the children came home and they all admired too, and among us we upset my big work-basket and my little work-basket, and didn’t any of us care.  My only fear is that with all you had to do you did too much for me.  Those little red moss cups are too lovely! and as to all those leaves how I shall leaf out!  G. asked me who sent me all those beautiful things.  “Miss Warner,” quoth I absently.  “Didn’t Miss Anna send any of them?” he exclaimed.  So you see you twain do not pass as one flesh here.  I have read all the “Books of Blessing” [7] save Gertrude and her Cat—­but though I like them all very much, my favorite is still “The Prince in Disguise.”  If you come across a little book called “Earnest,” [8] published by Randolph, do read it.  It is one of the few real books and ought to do good.  I have outdone myself in picture-frames since you left.  I got a pair of nippers and some wire, which were of great use in the operation.  I am now busy on Mr. Bull, for Mr. Prentiss’ study.

To one of her sisters-in-law she wrote, under the same date: 

I do not know as I ever was so discouraged about my health as I have been this fall.  Sometimes I think my constitution is quite broken down, and that I never shall be good for anything again.  However, I do not worry one way or the other but try to be as patient as I can.  I have been a good deal better for some days, and if you could see our house you would not believe a word about my not being well, and would know my saying so was all a sham.  To tell the truth, it does look like a garden, and when I am sick I like to lie and look at what I did when I wasn’t; my wreaths, and my crosses, and my vines, and my toadstools, and other fixins.  Yesterday I made a bonnet of which I am justly proud; to-morrow I expect to go into mosses and twigs, of which Miss Anna Warner has just sent me a lot.  She and her sister were here about a fortnight.  They grow good so fast that there is no keeping track of them. 

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Does any body in Portland take their paper? [9] The children are all looking forward to Christmas with great glee.  It is a mercy there are any children to keep up one’s spirits in these times.  Was there ever anything so dreadful as the way in which our army has just been driven back! [10] But if we had had a brilliant victory perhaps the people would have clamored against the emancipation project, and anything is better than the perpetuation of slavery.

Our congregation is fuller than ever, but there is no chance of building even a chapel.  Shopping is pleasant business now-a-days, isn’t it?  We shall have to stop sewing and use pins.

* * * * *


Another care-worn Summer.  Letters from Williamstown and Rockaway.  Hymn on Laying the Corner-stone of the Church of the Covenant.

The records of 1863 are confined mostly to her letters written during the summer.  In June she went again with the younger children to Williamstown, where she remained a month.  The family then proceeded to Rockaway, Long Island, and spent the rest of the season there in a cottage, kindly placed at their disposal by Mrs. William G. Bull.  They passed through New York barely in time to escape the terrible riots, which raged there with such fury in the early part of July.  A few extracts from her letters belonging to this period follow: 

To her Husband, Troy, June 10.

I hope you’ll not be frightened to get a letter mailed here; anyhow I can’t resist the temptation to write, though standing up in a little newspaper office.  We were routed up at half past five this morning by pounds and yells about taking the “Northern Railroad.”  On reaching Troy the captain bid us hurry or we should lose the train, and we did hurry, though I pretty well foresaw our fate, and after a running walk of a quarter of a mile, we had the felicity of finding the train had left and that the next one would not start till twelve.  The little darlings are bearing the disappointment sweetly.

4 P.M.—­After depositing my note in the Post-office, we strolled about awhile and then came across to a hotel, where I ordered a lunch-dinner.  We got through at twelve and marched to the station, expecting to start at once, when M. came running up to me declaring there was no train to Williamstown till five o’clock.  My heart fairly turned over; however, I did not believe it, but on making inquiries it proved to be only too true.  For a minute I sat in silent despair.  Just then the landlord of the hotel drew nigh and said to me, “You don’t look very healthy, Mrs.; if you’ll walk over to my house, I will give you a bedroom free of charge and you can lie down and rest awhile.”  Over to his house we went, weary enough.  After awhile, finding them all forlorn, I got a carriage and we drove out; on coming back I ordered some ice-cream, which built us all up amazingly.  The children are now counting the minutes till five.  One of the boys is perched on a wash-stand with his feet dangling down through the hole where the bowl should be; the other is eating crackers; the landlord is anxious I should take a glass of wine; and M. is everywhere at once, having nearly worn out my watch-pocket to see what time it was.

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Monday, June 21st.—­It is now going on a fortnight since we left home.  Oh, if it were God’s will, how I should love to get well, pay you back some of the debts I owe you, be a better mother to my children, write some more books, and make you love me so you wouldn’t know what to do with yourself!  Just to see how it would seem to be well, and to show you what a splendid creature I could be, if once out of the harness!  A modest little list you will say!...  I said to myself, Is it after all such a curse to suffer and to be a source of suffering to others?  Isn’t it worth while to pay something for warm human sympathies and something for rich experience of God’s love and wisdom?  And I felt, that for you to have a radiant, cheerful, health-happy wife was not, perhaps, so good for you, as a minister of Christ’s gospel, as to have the poor feeble creature whose infirmities keep you anxious and off the top of the wave.

Saturday afternoon the Professor took me off strawberrying again.  Can you believe that till this June I never went strawberrying in my life?  I don’t eat them, so the fun is in the picking.  Do you realise how kind the Professor is to me?  I am afraid I don’t.  He works very hard, too hard, I think; but perhaps he does it as a refuge from his loneliness.  His heart seems still full of tenderness toward Louisa.  Yesterday he took me aside and told me, with much emotion, that he dreamed the night before that she floated towards him with a leaf in her hand, on which she wrote the words “Sabbath peacefulness.”  I love him much, but am afraid of him, as I am of all men—­even of you; you need not laugh, I am.

To Mrs. Smith she writes from Rockaway, July 24th: 

We were glad to hear that you were safely settled at Prout’s Neck, far from riots, if not from rumors thereof.  We have as convenient and roomy and closetty a cottage as possible.  We are within three minutes or so of the beach, and go back and forth, bathe, dig sand, and stare at the ocean according to our various ages and tastes.  I really do not know how else we spend our time.  I sew a little, and am going to sew more when my machine comes; read a little, doze a little, and eat a good deal.  The butcher calls every morning, and so does the baker with excellent bread; twice a week clams call at thirty cents the hundred; we get milk, butter, and eggs without much trouble; and ice and various vegetables without any, as Mrs. Bull sends them to us every day, with sprinklings of fruit, pitchers of cream, herring and whatever is going.  We either sit on the beach looking and listening to the waves, every evening, or we run in to Mrs. Bull’s; or gather about our parlor-table reading.  By ten we are all off to bed.  George does nothing but race back and forth to New York on Seminary business; he has gone now.  I went with him the other day.  The city looks pinched and wo-begone.  We were caught in that tornado and nearly pulled to pieces.

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27th.—­You will be sorry to hear that our last summer’s siege with dysentery bids fair to be repeated.  Yesterday, when the disease declared itself, I must own that for a few hours I felt about heart-broken.  My own strength is next to nothing, and how to face such a calamity I knew not.  Ah, how much easier it is to pray daily, “Oh, Jesus Christus, wachs in mir!” than to consent to, yea rejoice in, the terms of the grant!  Well, George went for the doctor.  His quarters at this season are right opposite; he is a German and brother of the author Auerbach.  We brought G.’s cot into our room and George and I took care of him till three o’clock, when for the first time since we had children, I gave out and left the poor man to get along as nurse as he best could.  I can tell you it comes hard on one’s pride to resign one’s office to a half-sick husband.  I think I have let the boys play too hard in the sun.  I long to have you see this pretty cottage and this beach.

Aug. 3d.—­The children are out of the doctor’s hands and I do about nothing at all.  I hope you are as lazy as I am.  Today I bathed, read the paper and finished John Halifax.  I wish I could write such a book!

To Miss Gilman she writes, August 10th: 

We have the nicest of cottages, near the sea.  I often think of you as I sit watching the waves rush in and the bathers rushing out.  I have not yet thanked you for the hymns you sent me.  The traveller’s hymn sounds like George Withers.  Mr. P. borrowed a volume of his poems which delights us both.  I am glad you are asking your mother questions about your father.  I am amazed at myself for not asking my dear mother many a score about my father, which no human being can answer now.  I do not like to think of you all leaving New York.  Few families would be so missed and mourned.

I can sympathise with you in regard to your present Sunday “privileges.”  We have a long walk in glaring sunshine, sit on bare boards, live through the whole (or nearly the whole) Prayer-book, and then listen, if we can, to a sermon three-quarters of an hour long, its length not being its chief fault.  I am utterly unable to bear such fatigue, and spend my time chiefly at home, with some hope of more profit, at any rate.  How true it is that our Master’s best treasures are kept in earthen vessels!  Humanly speaking, we should declare it to be for His glory to commit the preaching of His gospel to the best and wisest hands.  But His ways are not as our ways....  I feel such a longing, when Sunday conies, to spend it with good people, under the guidance of a heaven-taught man.  A minister has such wonderful opportunity for doing good!  It seems dreadful to see the opportunity more than wasted.  The truth is, we all need, ministers and all, a closer walk with God.  If a man comes down straight from the mount to speak to those who have just come from the same place, he must be in a state to edify and they to be edified.

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From New York she writes to Miss Shipman, October 24th: 

Your letter came just as we started for Poughkeepsie.  The Synod met there and I was invited to accompany George, and, quite contrary to my usual habits, I went.  We had a nice time.  I feel that you are in the best place in the world.  Next to dying and going home one’s self, it must be sweet to accompany a Christian friend down to the very banks of the river.  Isn’t it strange that after such experiences we can ever again have a worldly thought, or ever lose the sense of the reality of divine things!  But we are like little children—­ever learning and ever forgetting.  Still, it is well to be learning, and I envy you your frequent visits to the house of mourning.  You will miss your dear friend very much.  I know how you love her.  How many beloved ones you have already lost for a season!...  Don’t set me to making brackets.  I am as worldly now as I can be, and my head full of work on all sorts of things.  I made two cornucopias of your pattern and filled them with grasses and autumn leaves, and they were magnificent.  I got very large grasses in the Rockaway marshes.  The children are all well and as gay as larks.

Early in November the corner-stone of the Church of the Covenant was laid.  She wrote the following hymn for the occasion: 

  A temple, Lord, we raise;
  Let all its walls be praise
      To Thee alone. 
  Draw nigh, O Christ, we pray,
  To lead us on our way,
  And be Thou, now and aye,
      Our corner-stone.

  In humble faith arrayed,
  We these foundations laid
      In war’s dark day. 
  Oppression’s reign o’erthrown,
  Sweet peace once more our own,
  Do Thou the topmost stone
      Securely lay.

  And when each earth-built wall
  Crumbling to dust shall fall,
      Our work still own. 
  Be to each faithful heart
  That here hath wrought its part,
  What in Thy Church Thou art—­
      The Corner-stone.

* * * * *


Happiness in her Children.  The Summer of 1864.  Letters from Hunter.  Affliction among Friends.

In the early part of 1864 she was more than usually afflicted with neuralgic troubles and that “horrid calamity,” as she calls it, sleeplessness.  “I know just how one feels when one can’t eat or sleep or talk.  I declare, a good deal of the time pulling words out of me is like pulling out teeth.”

Still (she writes to a sister-in-law, Jan. 15th), we are a happy family in spite of our ailments.  I suffer a great deal and cause anxiety to my husband by it, but then I enjoy a great deal and so does he, and our younger children—­to say nothing of A.—­are sources of constant felicity.  Do not you miss the hearing little feet pattering round the house?  It seems to me that the sound of my six little feet is the very pleasantest sound in the

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world.  Often when I lie in bed racked with pain and exhausted from want of food—­for my digestive organs seem paralysed when I have neuralgia—­hearing these little darlings about the house compensates for everything, and I am inexpressibly happy in the mere sense of possession.  I hate to have them grow up and to lose my pets, or exchange them for big boys and girls.  I suppose your boys are a great help to you and company too, but I feel for you that you have not also a couple of girls....  Poor Louisa!  It is very painful to think what she suffered.  Her death was such a shock to me, I can hardly say why, that I have never been since what I was before.  I suppose my nervous system was so shattered, that so unexpected a blow would naturally work unkindly.

Early in the following summer she was distressed by the sudden bereavement of dear friends and by the death of her nephew, who fell in one of the battles of the Wilderness.  In a letter to Miss Gilman, dated June 18th, she refers to this: 

Your dear little flowers came in excellent condition, but at a moment when I could not possibly write to tell you so.  The death of Mrs. R. H. broke my heart.  I only knew her by a sort of instinct, but I sorrowed in her mother’s sorrow and in that of her sisters.  Death is a blessed thing to the one whom it leads to Christ’s kingdom and presence, but oh, how terrible for those it leaves fainting and weeping behind!  We expect to go off for the summer on next Thursday.  We go to Hunter, N. Y., in the region of the Catskills.  My husband’s mother has been with me during the last six weeks and has just gone home, and I have now to do up the last things in a great hurry.  You may not know that my A. and M. S., and a number of other young people of their age, joined our church on last Sunday.  I can hardly realise my felicity.  I seem to myself to have a new child.  Your sister may have told you of the loss of Professor Hopkins’ son.  He was the first grandchild in our family and his father’s all.  We may never hear what his fate was, but the suspense has been dreadful.

Her interest in the national struggle was intense and her conviction of its Providential character unwavering.  To a friend, who seemed to her a little lukewarm on the subject, she wrote at this time: 

For my part, I am sometimes afraid I shall die of joy if we ever gain a complete and final victory.  You can call this spunk if you choose.  But my spunk has got a backbone of its own and that is deep-seated conviction, that this is a holy war, and that God himself sanctions it.  He spares nothing precious when He has a work to do.  No life is too valuable for Him to cut short, when any of His designs can be furthered by doing so.  But I could talk a month and not have done, you wicked unbeliever.

To her Husband, Hunter, June 27, 1864.

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This morning, after breakfast, I sallied out with six children to take a most charming walk, scramble, climb, etc.  We put on our worst old duds, tuck up our skirts June 27, knee-high, and have a regular good time of it.  If you were awake so early as eight o’clock—­I don’t believe you were! you might have seen us with a good spy-glass, and it would have made your righteous soul leap for joy to see how we capered and laughed, and what strawberries we picked, and how much of a child A. turned into.  They all six “played run” till they had counted twelve and then they tumbled down and rolled in the grass, till I wondered what their bones were made of.  I do not see that we could have found a better place for the children.  What with the seven calves, the cows, the sheep, the two pet lambs, the dogs, hens, chickens, horses, etc., they are perfectly happy.  Just now they have been to see the butter made and to get a drink of buttermilk.  We have lots of strawberries and cream, pot-cheese, Johnny-cakes, and there are always eggs and milk at our service.  From diplomatic motives I advise you not to say too much about Hunter to people asking questions.  It would entirely spoil its only great charm if a rush of silly city folks should scent it out.  It is really a primitive place and that you can say.  Mr. Coe preached an excellent sermon on Sunday morning.

To Mrs. Smith, Hunter, July 4, 1864.

I have just been off, all alone, foraging, and have come home bringing my sheaves with me:  ground pine and red berries, with which I have made a beautiful wreath.  I have also adorned the picture of Gen. Grant with festoons of evergreens, conjuring him the while not to disappoint our hopes, but to take Richmond.  Alas! you may know, by this time, that he can’t; but in lack of news since a week ago, I can but hope for the best.  I’ve taken a pew and we contrive to squeeze into it in this wise:  first a child, then a mother, then a child, then an Annie, then a child, the little ones being stowed in the cracks left between us big ones.  Mr. R., the parson, looking fit to go straight into his grave, was up here to get a wagon as he was going for a load of chips.  His wife was at home sick, without any servant, had churned three hours and the butter wouldn’t come, and has a pew full of little ones.  Oh, my poor sisters in the ministry! my heart aches for them.  Mr. R. gave us a superior sermon last Sunday....  I know next to nothing about what is going on in the world.  But George writes that he feels decidedly pleased with the look of things.  He has been carrying on like all possessed since I left, having company to breakfast, lunch, dinner, and finally went and had Chi Alpha all himself.

July 25th.—­We went one day last week on a most delightful excursion, twenty-one of us in all.  Our drive was splendid and the scenery sublime; even we distinguished Swiss travellers thought so!  We came to one spot where ice always is found, cut out big pieces, ate it, drank it, threw it at each other and carried on with it generally.  We had our dinner on the grass in the woods.  We brought home a small cartload of natural brackets; some of them beautiful.

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August 1st.—­You have indeed had a “rich experience.” [11] We all read your letter with the deepest interest and feel that it would have been good to be there.  Your account of Caro shows what force of character she possessed, as well as what God’s grace can do and do quickly.  This is not the first time He has ripened a soul into full Christian maturity with almost miraculous rapidity.  A veteran saint could not have laid down his armor and adjusted himself to meet death with more calmness than did this young disciple.  I do not wonder her family were borne, for the time, above their sorrow, but alas! their bitter pangs of anguish are yet to meet them.  Her poor mother!  How much she has suffered and has yet to suffer! all the more because she bears it so heroically.

To Miss Emily S. Gilman, Hunter, Aug 1, 1864.

You must have wondered why I did not answer your letter and your book, for both of which I thank you.  Well, it has been such dry, warm weather, that I have not felt like writing; besides, for nurse I have only a little German girl fourteen years old, who never was out of New York before, and whom I have been so determined on spoiling that I couldn’t bear to take her off from her play to mend, patch, darn, wash faces, necks, feet, etc., and unconsciously did every thing there was to do for the children and a little more besides.  I like the little book very much.  You have the greatest knack, you girls, of lighting on nice books and nice hymns.  We are right in the midst of most charming walks.  Here is a grove and there is a brook; here is a creek, almost a river (big enough at any rate to get on to the map) and there a mountain.  As to ferns and mosses for your poetical side, and as for raspberries and blackberries for your t’other side, time would fail me if I should begin to speak of them.  I think a great deal of you and your sisters when off on foraging expeditions, and wish you were here notwithstanding you are mossy and ferny there.  We have as yet made only one excursion.  That was delightful and gave us our first true idea of the Catskills.  Before Mr. P. came I usually went off on my forenoon walk alone, unless the children trooped after, and came home a miniature Birnam wood, with all sorts of things except creeping things and flying fowl.

I have just finished reading to M. and a little girl near her age, a little French book you would like, called “Augustin.”  I never met with a sweeter picture of a loving child anywhere.  Well, I may as well stop writing.  Remember me lovingly to all your dear household.

To Mrs. Stearns she writes, Sept. 16: 

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How much faith and patience we poor invalids do need!  The burden of life sits hard on our weary shoulders.  I think the mountain air has agreed with our children better than the seaside has done, but George craves the ocean and the bathing.  He spent this forenoon, as he has a good many others, in climbing the side of the mountain for exercise, views, and blackberries.  I go with him sometimes.  We had a few days’ visit from Prof.  Hopkins.  He has heard confirmation of the rumors of poor Eddy’s death and burial.  He means to go to Ashland as soon as the state of the country makes it practicable, but has little hope of identifying E.’s remains.  It is a great sorrow to him to lose all he had in this horrible way, but he bears it with wonderful faith and patience, and says he never prayed for his son’s life after he went into action.  Some letters received by him, give a pleasant idea of the Christian stand E. took after entering the army.  I believe this is Lizzie P——­’s wedding day.  There is a beautiful rainbow smiling on it from our mountain home, and I hope a real one is glorifying hers.

To Miss Gilman, Hunter, Sept. 17.

Oh, I wish you were here on this glorious day!  The foliage has begun to turn a little, and the mountains are in a state bordering on perfection.  It is wicked for me stay in-doors even to write this, but it seems as if a letter from here would carry with it a savor of mountain air, and must do you more good than one from the city could.  I wish I had thought sooner to ask you if you would like some of our mosses.  I thought I had seen mosses before, but found I had not.  I will enclose some dried specimens.  I thought, while I was in the woods this morning, that I never had thanked God half enough for making these lovely things and giving us tastes wherewith to enjoy them.

You ask if I have spilled ink all down the side of this white house.  Yes, I have, wo be unto me.  I was sick abed and got up to write to Mr. P., not wanting him to know I was sick, and one of the children came in and I snatched him up in my lap to hug and kiss a little, and he, of course, hit the pen and upset the inkstand and burst out crying at my dismay.  Then might have been seen a headachy woman catching the apoplexy by leaning out of the window and scrubbing paint, sacrificing all her nice rags in the process, and dreadfully mortified into the bargain....  Yesterday we were all caught in a pouring rain when several miles from home on the side of the mountain, blackberrying.  We each took a child and came rolling and tearing down through the bushes and over stones, H.’s little legs flying as little legs rarely fly.  We nearly died with laughing, and if I only knew how to draw, I could make you laugh by giving you a picture of the scene.  You will judge from this that we are all great walkers; so we are.  I take the children almost everywhere, and they walk miles every day.  Well, I will go now and get you some scraps of pressed mosses.

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* * * * *


The Death of President Lincoln.  Dedication of the Church of the Covenant.  Growing Insomnia.  Resolves to try the Water-cure.  Its beneficial Effects.  Summer at Newburgh.  Reminiscence of an Excursion to Paltz Point.  Death of her Husband’s Mother.  Funeral of her Nephew, Edward Payson Hopkins.

Two events rendered the month of April, 1865, especially memorable to Mrs. Prentiss.  One was the assassination of President Lincoln on the evening of Good Friday.  She had been very ill, and her husband, on learning the dreadful news from the morning paper, thought it advisable to keep it from her for a while; but one of the children, going into her chamber, burst into tears and thus betrayed the secret.  Her state of nervous prostration and her profound, affectionate admiration for Mr. Lincoln, made the blow the most stunning by far she ever received from any public calamity.  It was such, no doubt, to tens of thousands; indeed, to the American people.  No Easter morning ever before dawned upon them amid such a cloud of horror, or found them so bowed down with grief.  The younger generation can hardly conceive of the depth and intensity, or the strange, unnatural character, of the impression made upon the minds of old and young alike, by this most foul murder. [12]

The other event was of a very different character and filled her with great joy.  It was the dedication, on the last Sunday in April, of the new church edifice, whose growth she had watched with so much interest.

In the spring of 1865 she was induced, by the entreaty of friends who had themselves tested his skill, to consult Dr. Schieferdecker, a noted hydropathist, and later to place herself under his care.  In a letter to her cousin, Miss Shipman, she writes:  “I want to tell you, but do not want you to mention it to anyone, that I have been to see Dr. Schieferdecker to know what he thought of my case.  He says that I might go on dieting to the end of my days and not get well, but that his system could and would cure me, only it would take a long time.  I have not decided whether to try his process, but have no doubt he understands my disease.”  Dr. Schieferdecker had been a pupil and was an enthusiastic disciple of Priesnitz.  He had unbounded faith in the healing properties of water.  He was very impulsive, opinionated, self-confident, and accustomed to speak contemptuously of the old medical science and those who practised it.  But for all that, he possessed a remarkable sagacity in the diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease.  Mrs. Prentiss went through the “cure” with indomitable patience and pluck, and was rewarded by the most beneficial results.  Her sleeplessness had become too deep-rooted to be overcome, but it was greatly mitigated and her general condition vastly improved.  She never ceased to feel very grateful to Dr. Schieferdecker for the relief he had afforded her, and for teaching her how to manage herself; for after passing from under his care, she still continued to follow his directions.  “No tongue can tell how much I am indebted to him,” she wrote in 1869.  “I am like a ship that after poking along twenty years with a heavy load on board, at last gets into port, unloads, and springs to the surface.”

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To Miss E. S. Gilman, New York, Feb. 23, 1865.

It is said to be an ill wind that blows nobody good, and as I am still idling about, doing absolutely nothing but receive visits from neuralgia, I have leisure to think of poor Miss ——.  I wrote to ask her if there was anything she wanted and could not get in her region; yesterday I received her letter, in which she mentions a book, but says “anything that is useful for body or mind” would be gratefully received.  Now I got the impression from that article in the Independent, that she could take next to no nourishment.  Do you know what she does take, and can you suggest, from what you know, anything she would like?  What’s the use of my being sick, if it isn’t for her sake or that of some other suffering soul?  I want, very much, to get some things together and send her; nobody knows who hasn’t experienced it, how delightfully such things break in on the monotony of a sick-room.  Just yet I am not strong enough to do anything; my hands tremble so that I can hardly use even a pen; yet you need not think I am much amiss, for I go out every pleasant day, to ride, and some days can take quite a walk.  The trouble is that when the pain returns, as it does several times a day, it knocks my strength out of me.  I hope when all parts of my frame have been visited by this erratic sprite, it may find it worth while to beat a retreat.  Only to think, we are going to move to No. 70 East Twenty-seventh street, and you have all been and gone away!  The rent is enormous, $1,000 having been just added to an already high price.  Our people have taken that matter in hand and no burden of it will come on us.  I received your letter and am much obliged to you for writing to Miss ——­, for me; the reason I did not do it was, that it seemed like hurrying her up to thank me for the little drop of comfort I sent her.  Dear me! it’s hard to be sick when people send you quails and jellies, and fresh eggs, and all such things—­but to be sick and suffer for necessaries must be terrible.

To the Same, New York, March 9, 1865.

I thank you for the details of Miss ——­’s case, as I wished to describe them to some friends.  I sent her ten dollars yesterday for two of my friends.  I also sent off a box by express, for the contents of which I had help.  The things were such as I had persuaded her to mention; a new kind of farina, figs, two portfolios (of course she didn’t ask for two, but I had one I thought she would, perhaps, like better than the one I bought), a few crackers, and several books.  Mr. P. added one of those beautiful large-print editions of the Psalms which will, I think, be a comfort to her.  I shall also send Adelaide Newton by-and-by; I thought she had her hands full of reading for the present, and the great thing is not to heap comforts on her all at once and then leave her to her fate, but keep up a stream of such little alleviations as can be provided.  She said, she had poor accommodations for writing, so I greatly enjoyed fitting up the portfolio which was none the worse for wear, with paper and envelopes, a pencil with rubber at the end, a cunning little knife, some stamps, for which there was a small box, a few pens, etc.  I know it will please you to hear of this, and as the money was furnished me for the purpose, you need not set it down to my credit.

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I meant to go to see your sister, but my head is still in such a weak state that though I go to walk nearly every day, I can not make calls.  It is five weeks since I went to church, for the same reason.  It is a part of God’s discipline with me to keep me shut up a good deal more than the old Adam in me fancies; but His way is absolutely perfect, and I hope I wouldn’t change it in any particular, if I could.  Have you Pusey’s tract, “Do all to the Lord Jesus”?  If not, I must send it to you.  It seems as if I had a lot of things I wanted to say, but after writing a little my hands and arms begin to tremble so that I can hardly write plainly.  You never saw such a lazy life as I lead now-a-days; I can’t do any thing.  I advise you to do what you have to do for Christ now; by the time you are as old as I am perhaps you will have the will and not the power.  Well, good-bye till next time.

The summer of this year was passed at Newburgh in company with the Misses Butler—­now Mrs. Kirkbride, of Philadelphia, and Mrs. Booth, of Liverpool—­and the families of Mr. William Allen Butler, Mr. B. F. Butler, and Mr. John P. Crosby, to all of whom Mrs. Prentiss was strongly attached.  The late Mr. Daniel Lord, the eminent lawyer, with a portion of his family, had also a cottage near by and was full of hospitable kindness.  In spite of the exacting hydropathic treatment, she found constant refreshment and delight in the society of so many dear friends.  “The only thing I have to complain of” she wrote, “is everybody being too good to me.  How different it is being among friends to being among strangers!”

In a letter to her husband, dated New York, Sept. 15, 1879, Mr. William Allen Butler gives the following reminiscence of an excursion to Paltz Point and an evening at Newburgh: 

From the date you, give in your note (to which I have just recurred) of our trip to Paltz Point, it seems that in writing you to-day I have unwittingly fallen on the anniversary of that pleasant excursion.  Without this reminder I could not have told the day or the year, but of the excursion itself I have always had a vivid and delightful recollection; and, if I am not mistaken, Mrs. Prentiss enjoyed it as fully as any one of the merry party.  It was only on that jaunt and in our summer home at Newburgh that I had the opportunity of knowing her readiness to enter into that kind of enjoyment, which depends upon the co-operation of every member of a circle for the entertainment of all.  The elements of our group were well commingled, and the bright things evoked by their contact and friction were neither few nor far between.  The game to which you allude of “Inspiration” or “Rhapsody” was a favorite.  The evening at Paltz Point called out some clever sallies, of which I have no record or special recollection; but I know that then, as always, Mrs. Prentiss seemed to have at her pencil’s point for instant use the wit and fancy so charmingly

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exhibited in her writings.  She published somewhere an account of one of our inspired or rhapsodical evenings, but greatly to my regret failed to include in it her own contribution which was the best of all.  I distinctly remember the time and scene—­the September evening—­the big, square sitting-room of the old Seminary building in which you boarded—­the bright faces whose radiance made up in part for the limitations of artificial light—­the puzzled air which every one took on when presented with the list of unmanageable words, to be reproduced in their consecutive order in prose or verse composition within the next quarter or half hour—­the stillness which supervened while the enforced “pleasures” of “poetic pains” or prose agony were being undergone—­the sense of relief which supplemented the completion of the batch of extempore effusions—­and the fun which their reading provoked.  Mrs. Prentiss had contrived out of the odd and incoherent jumble of words a choice bit of poetic humor and pathos, which I never quite forgave her for omitting in the publication of the nonsense written by other hands.  These trifles as they seemed at the time, and as in fact they were, become less insignificant in the retrospect, as we associate them with the whole character and being we instinctively love to place at the farthest remove from gloom or sadness, and as they rediscover to us in the distance the native vivacity and grace of which they were the chance expression.  Since that summer of 1865, having lived away from New York, I saw little of Mrs. Prentiss, but I have a special remembrance of one little visit you made at our home in Yonkers which she seemed very much to enjoy—­saying of the reunion which made it so pleasant to the members of our family and all who happened to be together at the time, that it was “like heaven.” [13]

During the summer of 1865 the sympathies of Mrs. Prentiss were much wrought upon by the sickness and death of her husband’s mother, who entered into rest on the 9th of August, in the eighty-fourth year of her age.  On the 12th of the previous January, she with the whole family had gone to Newark to celebrate the eighty-third birthday of this aged saint.  Had they known it was to be the last, they could have wished nothing changed.  It was a perfect winter’s day, and the scene in the old parsonage was perfect too.  There, surrounded by children and children’s children, sat the venerable grandmother with a benignant smile upon her face and the peace of God in her heart.  As she received in birthday gifts and kisses and congratulations their loving homage, the measure of her joy was full, and she seemed ready to say her Nunc dimittis.  She belonged to the number of those holy women of the old time who trusted in God and adorned themselves with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and whose children to the latest generation rise up and call them blessed.

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In the course of this year her sympathies were also deeply touched by repeated visits from her brother-in-law, Professor Hopkins, on his way to and from Virginia.  Allusion has been made already to the death of her nephew, Lieutenant Edward Payson Hopkins.  He was killed in battle while gallantly leading a cavalry charge at Ashland, in Virginia, on the 11th of May, 1864.  In June of the following year his father went to Ashland with the hope of recovering the body.  Five comrades had fallen with Edward, and the negroes had buried them without coffins, side by side, in two trenches in a desolate swampy field and under a very shallow covering of earth.  The place was readily discovered, but it was found impossible to identify the body.  The disappointed father, almost broken-hearted, turned his weary steps homeward.  When he reached Williamstown his friends said, “He has grown ten years older since he went away.”

Several months later he learned that there were means of identification which could not fail, even if the body had already turned to dust.  Accordingly he again visited Ashland, attended this time by soldiers, a surgeon, and Government officials.  His search proved successful, and, to his joy, not only was the body identified, but, owing to the swampy nature of the ground, it was found to be in an almost complete state of preservation.  There was something wonderfully impressive in the grave aspect and calm, gentle tone of the venerable man, as with his precious charge he passed through New York on his way home.  In a letter to Mrs. Prentiss, dated January 2d, 1866, he himself tells the story of the re-interment at Williamstown: 

...  After stopping a minute at my door the wagon passed at once to the cemetery, and the remains were deposited in the tomb.  This was on Thursday.  After consulting with my brother and his son (the chaplain) I determined to wait till the Sabbath before the interment.  Accordingly, at 3 o’clock—­after the afternoon service—­the remains of my dear boy were placed beside those of his mother.  The services were simple, but solemn in a high degree.  They were opened by an address from Harry.  Prayer followed by Rev. Mr. Noble, now supplying the desk here.  He prefaced his prayer by saying that he never saw Edward but once, when he preached at Williamstown at a communion and saw him sitting beside me and partaking with me.  Singing then followed by the choir of which Eddy was for a long time a member.  The words were those striking lines of Montgomery: 

  Go to the grave in all thy glorious prime, etc.

After which the coffin was lowered to its place by young men who were friends of Edward in his earlier years.

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The state of the elements was exceedingly favorable to the holding of such an exercise in the open air at a season generally so inclement.  The night before there was every appearance of a heavy N. E. storm.  But Sabbath morning it was calm.  As I went to church I noticed that the sun rested on the Vermont mountains just north of us, though with a mellowed light as if a veil had been thrown over them.  In the after part of the day the open sky had spread southward—­so that the interment took place when the air was as mild and serene as spring, just as the last sun of the year was sinking towards the mountains.  Almost the entire congregation were present....  Thus, dear sister, I have given you a brief account of the solemn but peaceful winding up of what has been to me a sharp and long trial, and I know to yourself and family also.  In eternity we shall more clearly read the lesson which even now, in the light of opening scenes, we are beginning to interpret.

[1] Richard H. Dana, the poet.

[2] The article referred to appeared in The Biblical Repository and Quarterly Observer for January, 1835.  Vol V., pp. 1-32.  It is entitled, “What form of Law is best suited to the individual and social nature of man?”

[3] Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson.

[4] The article appeared in the New York Review for July, 1839.

[5] Some passages from the little diaries referred to, together with further extracts from her literary journal, will be found in appendix D, p. 541.

[6] The Proclamation of Emancipation.

[7] By Anna Warner.

[8] By her friend, Mrs. Frederick G. Burnham.

[9] “The Little Corporal.”

[10] At Fredericksburg.

[11] Referring to the sudden death of a young niece of Mrs. S.

[12] This was written before the assassination of President Garfield.

[13] The “Rhapsody,” referred to by Mr. Butler was preserved by a young lady of the party, and will be found in appendix E, p. 555.





Happiness as a Pastor’s Wife.  Visits to Newport and Williamstown Letters.  The great Portland Fire.  First Summer at Dorset.  The new Parsonage occupied.  Second Summer at Dorset. Little Lou’s Sayings and Doings.  Project of a Cottage.  Letters. The Little Preacher.  Illness and Death of Mrs. Edward Payson and of Little Francis.

We now enter upon the most interesting and happiest period of Mrs. Prentiss’s experience as a pastor’s wife.  The congregation of the Church of the Covenant had been slowly forming in “troublous times”; it was composed of congenial elements, being of one heart and one mind; some of the most cultivated families and family-circles in New York belonged to it; and Mrs. Prentiss was much beloved in them all.  What a help-meet she was to her husband and with what zeal and delight she fulfilled her office, especially that of a daughter of consolation, among his people, will soon appear.

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How ignorant we often are, at the time, of the turning-points in our life!  We inquire for a summer boarding-place and decide upon it without any thought beyond the few weeks for which it was engaged; and yet, perhaps, our whole earthly future or that of those most dear to us, is to be vitally affected by this seemingly trifling decision.  So it happened to Mrs. Prentiss in 1866.  Early in May her husband and his brother-in-law, Dr. Stearns, went, at a venture, to Dorset, Vt., and there secured rooms for their families during the summer.  But little did either she, or they, dream that Dorset was to be henceforth her summer home and her resting-place in death! [1]

The Portland fire, to which reference is made in the following letters, occurred on the 4th of July, and consumed a large portion of the city.

To Miss Mary B. Shipman, Dorset, July 25, 1866.

Never in my life did I live through such a spring and early summer as this!  As to business and bustle, I mean.  You must have given me up as a lost case!  But I have thought of you every day and longed to hear how you were getting on, and whether you lived through that dreadful weather.  Annie went with the children to Williamstown about the middle of June; I nearly killed myself with getting them ready to go and could see the flesh drop off my bones.  George and I went to Newport on what Mrs. Bronson called our “bridal trip,” and stayed eleven days.  Mr. and Mrs. McCurdy were kindness personified.  We came home and preached on the first Sunday in July, and then went to Greenfield Hill to spend the Fourth with Mrs. Bronson. [2] That nearly finished me, and then I went to Williamstown on that hot Friday and was quite finished on reaching there, to hear about the fire in Portland.  Did you ever hear of anything so dreadful?  I did not know for several days but H. and C. were burnt out of house and home; most of my other friends I knew were, and can there be any calamity like being left naked, hungry and homeless, everything gone forever....  But let no one say a word that has a roof over his head.  All my father’s sermons were burned, the house where most of us were born, his church, etc.  Fancy New Haven stripped of its shade-trees, and you can form some idea of the loss of Portland in that respect.  Well, I might go on talking forever, and not have said anything. [3] The heat upset G. and we have been fighting off sickness for a week, I getting wild with loss of sleep.  We are enchanted with Dorset.  We are so near the woods and mountains that we go every day and spend hours wandering about among them.  If there is any difference, I think this place even more beautiful than Williamstown; it suits us better as a summer retreat, from its great seclusion.  I am, that is we are, mean enough to want to keep it as quiet and secluded as it is now, by not letting people know how nice it is; a very few fashionably dressed people would just spoil it for us.  So keep our counsel, you dear child.

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A few days later she writes to Mrs. Smith, then in Europe: 

On the sixth, a day of fearful heat, I went to Williamstown, where I found all the children as well as possible, but heard the news of the Portland fire which almost killed me.  All my father’s manuscripts are destroyed; we always meant to divide them among us and ought to have done it long ago.  I heard of any number of injudicious babies as taking the inopportune day succeeding the fire to enter on the scene of desolation; all born in tents.  I am sorry my children will never see my father’s church, nor the house where I was born; but private griefs are nothing when compared with a calamity that is so appalling and that must send many a heart homeless and aching to the grave.  I spent two weeks at Williamstown, when George came for me, and the weather cooling off, we had a comfortable journey here.  We are perfectly delighted with Dorset; the sweet seclusion is most soothing, and the house is very pleasant.  Mr. and Mrs. F. are intelligent, agreeable people, and do all they can to make us comfortable.  The mountains are so near that I hear the crows cawing in the trees.  We are making pretty things and pressing an unheard-of quantity of ferns.  We go to the woods regularly every morning and stay the whole forenoon.  In the afternoon we rest, read, write, etc.; sometimes we drive and always after tea George walks with me about two miles.  I hope the war is not impeding your movements.  I suppose you will call this a short letter, but I think it is as long as is good for you.  All my dear nine pounds gained at Newburgh have gone by the board. August 20th.—­I am sorry you had such hot weather in Paris, but hope it passed off as our heat did.  Dr. Hamlin’s two youngest daughters have been here, and came to see me; they are both interesting girls, and the elder of the two really brilliant.  They had never been here before, and were carried away with the beauties of their mother’s birthplace.  I wish you could see my room.  Every pretty thing grows here and has come to cheer and beautify it.  The woods are everywhere, and as for the views, oh my child!  However, I do not suppose anything short of Mt.  Blanc will suit you now.

In April, 1867, the parsonage on Thirty-fifth street was occupied.  It had been built more especially for her sake, and was furnished by the generosity of her friends.  Her joy in entering it was completed by a “house-warming,” at the close of which a passage of Scripture was read by Prof.  Smith, “All hail the power of Jesus’s name” sung, and then the blessing of Heaven invoked upon the new home by that holy man of God, Dr. Thomas H. Skinner.  Here she passed the next six years of her life.  Here she wrote the larger portion of “Stepping Heavenward.”  And here the cup of her domestic joy, and of joy in her God and Saviour often ran over.  Here, too, some of her dearest Christian friendships were formed and enjoyed.

The summer of 1867 was passed at Dorset.  In less than a month of it she wrote one of her best children’s books, Little Lou’s Sayings and Doings; and much of the remainder was spent in discussing with her husband the project of building a cottage of their own.  In a letter to her cousin, Miss Shipman, dated Sept. 21, she writes: 

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We have had our heads full all summer, of building a little cottage here.  We are having a plan made, and have about fixed on a lot.  We are rather tired of boarding; George hates it, and Dorset suits us as well, I presume, as any village would.  It is a lovely spot, and the people are as intelligent as in other parts of New England.  The Professor is disappointed at our choosing this rather than Williamstown, but it would be no rest to us to go there.  We have not decided to build; it may turn out too expensive; but we have taken lots of comfort in talking about it.  We have been on several excursions, one of them to the top of Equinox.  It is a hard trip, fully six miles walking and climbing.  I have amused myself with writing some little books of the Susy sort:  four in less than a month, A.’s sickness taking a good piece of time out of that period.  They are to appear, or a part of them, in the Riverside next winter, and then to be issued in book-form by Hurd and Houghton.  This will a good deal more than furnish our cottage and what trees and shrubs we want, so that I feel justified in undertaking that expense.  We had two weeks at Newport before we came here, and Mr. and Mrs. McCurdy overwhelmed us with kindness, paying our traveling expenses, etc., and keeping up one steady stream of such favors the whole time.  I never saw such people.  How delightful it must be to be able to express such benevolence!  Well; you and I can be faithful in that which is least, at any rate.

We have all had plenty to read all summer, and have sat out of doors and read a good deal.  I am going now to carry a little wreath to a missionary’s wife who is spending the summer here; a nice little woman; this will give me a three miles walk and about use up the rest of the forenoon.  In the afternoon I have promised to go to the woods with the children, all of whom are as brown as Indians.  My room is all aflame with two great trees of maple; I never saw such a beautiful velvety color as they have.  We have just had a very pleasant excursion to a mountain called Haystack, and ate our dinner sitting round in the grass in view of a splendid prospect....  I have thus given you the history of our summer, as far as its history can be written.  Its ecstatic joys have not been wanting, nor its hours of shame and confusion of face; but these are things that can not be described.  What a mystery life is, and how we go up and down, glad to-day and sorrowful to-morrow!  I took real solid comfort thinking of you and praying for you this morning.  I love you dearly and always shall.  Good-bye, dear child.

The “four little books” afford a good illustration of the ease and rapidity with which she composed.  When once she had fixed upon a subject, her pen almost flew over the paper.  Scarcely ever did she hesitate for a thought or for the right words to express it.  Her manuscript rarely showed an erasure or any change whatever.  She generally wrote on a portfolio, holding it upon her knees. 

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Her pen seemed to be a veritable part of herself; and the instant it began to move, her face glowed with eager and pleasurable feeling.  “A kitten (she wrote to a maiden friend) a kitten without a tail to play with, a mariner without a compass, a bird without wings, a woman without a husband (and fifty-five at that!) furnish faint images of the desolation of my heart without a pen.”  But although she wrote very fast, she never began to write without careful study and premeditation when her subject required it.

About this time The Little Preacher appeared.  The scene of the story is laid in the Black Forest.  Before writing it she spent a good deal of time in the Astor Library, reading about peasant life in Germany.  In a letter from a literary friend this little work is thus referred to: 

I want to tell you what a German gentleman said to me the other day about your “Little Preacher.”  He was talking with me of German peasant life, and inquired if I had read your charming story.  He was delighted to find I knew you, and exclaimed enthusiastically:  “I wish I knew her!  I would so like to thank her for her perfect picture.  It is a miracle of genius,” he added, “to be able thus to portray the life of a foreign people.”  He is very intelligent, and so I know you will be pleased with his appreciation of your book.  He said if he were not so poor, he would buy a whole edition of the “Little Preacher” to give to his friends.

During the autumn of this year her sister-in-law, Mrs. Edward Payson, died after a lingering, painful illness.  The following letter, dated October 28, was written to her shortly before her departure: 

I have been so engrossed with sympathy for Edward and your children, that I have but just begun to realise that you are about entering on a state of felicity which ought, for the time, to make me forget them.  Dear Nelly, I congratulate you with all my heart. Do not let the thought of what those who love you must suffer in your loss, diminish the peace and joy with which God now calls you to think only of Himself and the home He has prepared for you.  Try to leave them to His kind, tender care.  He loves them better than you do; He can be to them more than you have been; He will hear your prayers and all the prayers offered for them, and as one whom his mother comforteth, so will He comfort them.  We, who shall be left here without you, can not conceive the joys on which you are to enter, but we know enough to go with you to the very gates of the city, longing to enter in with you to go no more out.  All your tears will soon be wiped away; you will see the King in His beauty; you will see Christ your Redeemer and realise all He is and all He has done for you; and how many saints whom you have loved on earth will be standing ready to seize you by the hand and welcome you among them!  As I think of these things my soul is in haste to be gone; I long to be set free from sin and self and

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to go to the fellowship of those who have done with them forever, and are perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  Dear Nelly, I pray that you may have as easy a journey homeward as your Father’s love and compassion can make for you; but these sufferings at the worst can not last long, and they are only the messengers sent to loosen your last tie on earth, and conduct you to the sweetest rest.  But I dare not write more lest I weary your poor worn frame with words.  May the very God of peace be with you every moment, even unto the end, and keep your heart and mind stayed upon Him!

Mrs. Payson had been an intimate friend of her childhood, and was endeared to her by uncommon loveliness and excellence of character.  The bereaved husband, with his little boy, passed a portion of the ensuing winter at the parsonage in New York.  There was something about the child, a sweetness and a clinging, almost wild, devotion to his father, which, together with his motherless state, touched his aunt to the quick and called forth her tenderest love.  Many a page of Stepping Heavenward was written with this child in her arms; and perhaps that is one secret of its power.  When, not very long afterwards, he went to his mother, Mrs. Prentiss wrote to the father: 

Only this morning I was trying to invent some way of framing my little picture of Francis, so as to see it every day before my eyes.  And now this evening’s mail brings your letter, and I am trying to believe what it says is true.  If grief and pain could comfort you, you would be comforted; we all loved Francis, and A. has always said he was too lovely to live.  How are you going to bear this new blow?  My heart aches as it asks the question, aches and trembles for you.  But perhaps you loved him so, that you will come to be willing to have him in his dear mother’s safe keeping; will bear your own pain in future because through your anguish your lamb is sheltered forever, to know no more pain, to suffer no more for lack of womanly care, and is already developing into the rare character which made him so precious to you.  Oh do try to rejoice for him while you can not but mourn for yourself.  At the longest you will not have long to suffer; we are a short-lived race.

But while I write I feel that I want some one to speak a comforting word to me; I too am bereaved in the death of this precious child, and my sympathy for you is in itself a pang.  Dear little lamb!  I can not realise that I shall never see that sweet face again in this world; but I shall see it in heaven.  God bless and comfort you, my dear afflicted brother.  I dare not weary you with words which all seem a mockery; I can only assure you of my tenderest love and sympathy, and that we all feel with and for you as only those can who know what this child was to you.  I am going to bed with an aching heart, praying that light may spring out of this darkness.  Give love from us all to Ned and Will.  Perhaps Ned will kindly write me if you feel that you can not, and tell me all about the dear child’s illness.

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* * * * *


Last Visit from Mrs. Stearns.  Visits to old Friends at Newport and Rochester.  Letters.  Goes to Dorset. Fred and Maria and Me.  Letters.

The life of a pastor’s wife is passed in the midst of mingled gladness and sorrow.  While somebody is always rejoicing, somebody, too, is always sick or dying, or else weeping.  How often she goes with her husband from the wedding to the funeral, or hurries with him from the funeral to the wedding.  And then, perhaps, in her own family circle the same process is repeated.  The year 1868 was marked for Mrs. Prentiss in an unusual degree by the sorrowful experience.  The latter part of May Mrs. Stearns, then suffering from an exhausting disease, came to New York and spent several weeks in hopes of finding some relief from change of scene.  But her case grew more alarming; she passed the summer at Cornwall on the Hudson in great pain and feebleness, and was then carried home to lie down on her dying bed.

To Mrs. Stearns, Newport, July 7, 1868.

We had a dreadful time getting here; I did not sleep a wink; there were 1,250 passengers on board, almost piled on each other, and such screaming of babies it would be hard to equal.  There are lots of people here we know; ever so many stopped to speak to us after church.  We are in the midst of a perfect world of show and glitter.  But how many empty hearts drive up and down in this gay procession of wealth and fashion!

I shall think of you a good deal to-day, as setting forth on your journey and reaching your new home.  I do hope you will find it refreshing to go up the river, and that your rooms will be pleasant and airy.  We shall be anxious to hear all about it.

It is a constant lesson to be with Mrs. McCurdy.  I think she is a true Christian in all her views of life and death.  Her sweet patience, cheerfulness and contentment are a continual reproof to me.  Here she is so lame that she can go nowhere—­a lameness of over twenty years—­restricted to the plainest food, liable to die at any moment, yet the very happiest, sunniest creature I ever saw.  She says, with tears, that God has been too good to her and given her too much; that she sometimes fears He does not love her because He gives her such prosperity.  I reminded her of the four lovely children she had lost.  “Yes,” she says, “but how many lovely ones I have left!” She says that the long hours she has to spend alone, on account of her physical infirmities, are never lonely or sad; she sings hymns and thinks over to herself all the pleasures she has enjoyed in the past, in her husband and children and devoted servants.  She goes up to bed singing, and I hear her singing while she dresses.  She said, the other day, that at her funeral she hoped the only services would be prayers and hymns of praise.  I think this very remarkable from one who enjoys life as she does. [4]

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To the Same, Newport, July 20.

George and I went to Rochester, taking M. with us, last Wednesday and got back Friday night.  We had one of those visits that make a mark in one’s life; seeing Mr. and Mrs. Leonard, and Mrs. Randall, and Miss Deborah, [5] so fond of us, and all together we were stirred up as we rarely are, and refreshed beyond description.  We rowed on Mr. Leonard’s beautiful, nameless lake, fished, gathered water-lilies, ate black Hamburg grapes and broiled chickens, and wished you had them in our place.  Mr. L.’s mother is a sweet, calm old lady, with whom I wanted to have a talk about Christian perfection, in which she believes; but there was no time.  It was a great rest to unbend the bow strung so high here at Newport, where there is so much of receiving and paying visits.  I have been reading a delightful French book, the history of a saintly Catholic family of great talent and culture, six of whom, in the course of seven years, died the most beautiful, happy deaths.  I am going to make an abstract of it, for I want everybody I love to get the cream of it.  You would enjoy it; I do not know whether it has been translated.

To the Same, Dorset, July 26.

Here begins my first letter to you from your old room, whence I hope to write you regularly every week.  That is the one only little thing I can do to show how truly and constantly I sympathise with you in your sore straits.  It distresses me to hear how much you are suffering, and at the same time not to be near enough to speak a word of good cheer, or to do anything for your comfort.  It grieves me to find how insecure my health is, for I had promised to myself to be your loving nurse, should any turn in your disease make it desirable.  Miss Lyman boards here, but rooms at the Sykes’, and her friend Miss Warner is also here, but rooms out.  Miss W. is in delicate health, takes no tea or coffee, and is full of humor.  We have run at and run upon each other, each trying to get the measure of the other, and shall probably end in becoming very good friends.

It is a splendid day, and we feel perfectly at home, only missing you and finding it queer to be occupying your room.  What a nice room it is!  How I wish you were sitting here with me behind the shade of these maple trees, and that I could know from your own lips just how you are in body and mind.  But I suppose the weary, aching body has the soul pretty well enchained.  Never mind, dear, it won’t be so always; by and by the tables will be turned, and you will be the conqueror.  I like to think that far less than a hundred years hence we shall all be free from the law of sin and death, and happier in one moment of our new existence, than through a whole life-time here.  Rest must and will come, sooner or later, to you and to me and to all of us, and it will be glorious.  You may have seen a notice of the death of Prof.  Hopkins’ mother at the age of ninety-five.  But for this terribly hot weather, I presume she might have lived to be one hundred.

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I shall not write you such a long letter again, as it will tire you, and if you would rather have two short ones a week, I will do that.  Let me know if I tire you.  Now good-bye, dear child; may God bless and keep you and give you all the faith and patience you need.

To Miss Mary B. Shipman, Dorset, Aug. 2, 1868.

We spent rather more than two weeks at Newport, taking two or three days to run to Rochester, Mass., to see some of our old New Bedford friends.  We had a charming time with them, as they took us up just where they left us nearly twenty years ago.  Oh, how our tongues did fly!  We left Newport for home on Tuesday night about two weeks ago.  I went on board and went to bed as well as usual, tossed and turned a few hours, grew faint and began to be sick, as I always am now if I lose my sleep; got out of bed and could not get back again, and so lay on the floor all the rest of the night without a pillow, or anything over me and nearly frozen.  The boys were asleep, and anyhow it never crossed my mind to let them call George, who was in another state-room.  He says that when he came in, in the morning, I looked as if I had been ill six months, and I am sure I felt so.  Imagine the family picture we presented driving from the boat all the way home, George rubbing me with cologne, A. fanning me, the rest crying!  On Saturday more dead than alive I started for this place, and by stopping at Troy four or five hours, getting a room and a bed, I got here without much damage.

Our house is very pretty, and I suppose it will be done by next year.  Oh, how they do poke!  George is so happy in watching it, and in working in his woods, that I am perfectly delighted that he has undertaken this project.  It may add years to his life.  Imagine my surprise at receiving from Scribner a check for one hundred and sixty-four dollars for six months of Fred and Maria and Me.  The little thing has done well, hasn’t it?  I feel now as if I should never write, any more; letter-writing is only talking and is an amusement, but book-writing looks formidable.  Excuse this horrid letter, and write and let me know how you are.  Meanwhile collect grasses, dip them in hot water, and sift flour over them.  Good-bye, dear.

Fred and Maria and Me first appeared anonymously in the Hours at Home, in 1865.  It had been written several years before, and, without the knowledge of Mrs. Prentiss, was offered by a friend to whom she had lent the manuscript, to the Atlantic Monthly and to one or two other magazines, but they all declined it.  She herself thus refers to it in a letter to Mrs. Smith, July 13:  “I have just got hold of the Hours at Home.  I read my article and was disgusted with it.  My pride fell below zero, and I wish it would stay there.”  But the story attracted instant attention.  “Aunt Avery” was especially admired, as depicting a very quaint and interesting type of New England religious character in the earlier half of the century. 

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Such men as the late Dr. Horace Bushnell and Dr. William Adams were unstinted in their praise.  In a letter to Mrs. Smith, dated a few months later, Mrs. Prentiss writes:  “Poor old Aunt Avery!  She doesn’t know what to make of it that folks make so much of her, and has to keep wiping her spectacles.  I feel entirely indebted to you for this thing ever seeing the light.”  When published as a book, Fred and Maria and Me was received with great favor, and had a wide circulation.  In 1874 a German translation appeared. [6] Although no attempt is made to reproduce the Yankee idioms, much of the peculiar spirit and flavor of the original is preserved in this version.

To Mrs. H. B. Smith, Dorset, August 4, 1868.

Miss Lyman says I have no idea of what Miss W. really is; she looks as if she would drop to pieces, can not drive out, far less walk, and every word she speaks costs her an effort.  Miss Lyman is not well either; and what with their health and mine, and A.’s, I see little of them.  But what I do see is delightful, and I feel it to be a real privilege to get what scraps of their society I can.  Our house proves to be far prettier and more tasteful than I supposed.  I am writing up lots of letters, and if I ever get well enough, shall try to begin on my Katy once more.  But since reading the Recit d’une Soeur, I am disgusted with myself and my writings.  I ache to have you read it.  Miss Lyman and Miss Warner send love to you.  I do not like Miss L.’s hacking cough, and she says she does not believe Miss W. will live through the winter.  Among us we contrive to keep up a vast amount of laughter; so we shall probably live forever.

August 18th.—­I have enjoyed Miss Lyman wonderfully, but want to get nearer to her.  I see that she is one who does not find it easy to express her deepest and most sacred feelings.  I read Katy to her and Miss W., as they were kind enough to propose I should, and they made some valuable suggestions to which I shall attend if I ever get to feeling able to begin to write again.  I am as well as ever save in one respect, and that is my sleep; I do not sleep as I did before I left home, while I ought to sleep better, as I work several hours a day in the woods, in fact do almost literally nothing else....  But after all, we are having the nicest time in the world.  I have not seen George so like himself for many years; he lives out of doors, pulls down fences, picks up brushwood, and keeps happy and well.  I feel it a real mercy that his thoughts are agreeably occupied this summer, as otherwise he would be incessantly worried about Anna.  We work together a good deal; this morning I spoiled a new hatchet in cutting down milkweed where our kitchen garden is to be and we are literally raising our Ebenezer, which we mean to conceal with vines in due season.  George is just as proud of our woods as if he created every tree himself.  The minute breakfast is over the boys dart down to the house like arrows from the bow, and there they are till dinner, after which there is another dart and it is as much as I can do to get them to bed; I wonder they don’t sleep down there on the shavings.  The fact is the whole Prentiss family has got house on the brain.  There, this old letter is done, and I am going to bed, all black and blue where I have tumbled down, and as tired as tired can be.

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Aug. 28th.—­I made a fire in MY woods yesterday, and another to-day, when I melted glue, and worked at my rustic basket, and felt extremely happy and amiable.

Sept. 13th.—­Miss Warner told me to-night that she thought my Katy story commonplace at the beginning, but that she changed her mind afterward.  Of course I wrote a story about that marigold of G——­ W——­’s and I am dying to inflict it on you.  Then if you like it, hurrah!

To Miss Woolsey, Dorset, Aug. 13, 1868.

I was right glad to get your letter yesterday, and to learn a little of your whereabouts and whatabouts.  You may imagine “him” as seated, spectacles on nose, reading The Nation at one end of the table, and “her” as established at the other.  This table is homely, but has a literary look, got up to give an air to our room; books and papers are artistically scattered over it; we have two bottles of ink apiece, and a box of stamps, a paper cutter and a pen-wiper between us.  Two inevitable vases containing ferns, grasses, buttercups, etc., remind us that we are in the country, and a “natural bracket” regales our august noses with an odor of its own.  A can of peaches without any peaches in it, holds a specimen of lycopodium, and a marvelous lantern that folds up into nothing by day and grows big at night, brings up the rear.  But the most wonderful article in this room is a bookcase made by “him,” all himself, in which may be seen a big volume of Fenelon, Taylor’s Holy Living and Dying, the Recit d’une Soeur, which have you read?  Les Soirees de Saint Petersbourg, Prayers of the Ages, a volume of Goethe, Aristotle’s Ethics and some other Greek books; the Life of Mrs. Fry, etc. etc.  Such a queer hodge-podge of books as we brought with us, and such a book-case!  The first thing “he” ever made for “her” in his mortal life.

Our house isn’t done, and what fun to watch it grow, to discuss its merits and demerits, to grab every check that comes in from magazine and elsewhere, and turn it into chairs and tables and beds and blankets!  Then for “them boys,” what treasures in the way of bits of boards, and what feats of climbing and leaping!  Above all, think of “him” in an old banged-in hat, and “her” in a patched old gown, gathering brushwood in their woods, making it up into heaps, and warming themselves by the fires it is agoing for to make.

“Stick after stick did Goody pull!”

Mr. P. is unusually well.  His house is the apple of his eye, and he is renewing his youth.  Thus far the project has done him a world of good.

To Mrs. Stearns, Dorset, September 13, 1863.

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Yesterday Mr. F. and George drove somewhere to look at sand for mortar, and the horse took fright and wheeled round and pitched George out, bruising him in several places, but doing no serious harm.  But I shudder when I think how the meaning might be taken out of everything in this world, for me, at least, by such an accident.  He preached all day to-day; in the afternoon at Rupert.  I find my mission-school a good deal of a tax on time and strength, and it is discouraging business, too.  One of the boys, fourteen years old, found the idea that God loved him so irresistibly ludicrous, that his face was a perfect study.  I often think of you as these “active limbs of mine” take me over woods and fields, and remind myself that the supreme happiness of my father’s life came to him when he called himself what you call yourself—­a cripple.  If it is not an expensive book, I think you had better buy A Sister’s Story, of which I wrote to you, as it would be a nice Sunday book to last some time; the Catholicism you would not mind, and the cultivated, high-toned Christian character you would enjoy.

The boys complain, as George and I do, that the days are not half long enough.  They have got their bedsteads and washstands done, and are now going to make couches for George and myself, and an indefinite number of other articles.

Sept. 20th.—­I am greatly relieved, my dear Anna, to hear that you have got safely into your new home, and that you like it, and long to see you face to face.  George has no doubt told you what a happy summer we have had.  It has not been unmingled happiness—­that is not to be found in this world—­but in many ways it has been pleasant in spite of what infirmities of the flesh we carry with us everywhere, our anxiety about and sympathy with you, and the other cares and solicitudes that are inseparable from humanity.  I had a great deal of comfort in seeing Miss Lyman while she was here, and in knowing her better, and now I am finding myself quite in love with her intimate friend, Miss Warner, who has been here all summer.  A gentler, tenderer spirit can not exist.  Mrs. F.’s brother was here with his wife, some weeks ago, and they were summoned home to the death-bed of their last surviving child.  Mrs. F. read me a letter yesterday describing her last hours, which were really touching and beautiful, especially the distributing among her friends the various pretty things she had made for them during her illness, as parting gifts.  I suppose this will be my last letter from Dorset and from your old room.  Well, you and I have passed some happy hours under this roof.  Good-bye, dear, with love to each and all of your beloved ones.

To Miss Eliza A. Warner, Dorset, Sept. 27, 1868.

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I was so nearly frantic, my dear Fanny, from want of sleep, that I could not feel anything.  I was perfectly stupid, and all the way home from East Dorset hardly spoke a word to my dear John, nor did he to me. [7] The next day he said such lovely things to me that I hardly knew whether I was in the body or out of it, and then came your letter, as if to make my cup run over.  I longed for you last night, and it is lucky for your frail body that can bear so little, that you were not in your little room at Mrs. G.’s; but not at all lucky for your heart and soul.  I hope God will bless us to each other.  It is not enough that we find in our mutual affection something cheering and comforting.  It must make us more perfectly His.  What a wonderful thing it is that coming here entire strangers to each other, we part as if we had known each other half a century!

I am not afraid that we shall get tired of each other.  The great point of union is that we have gone to our Saviour, hand in hand, on the supreme errand of life, and have not come away empty.  All my meditations bring me back to that point; or, I should rather say, to Him.  I came here praying that in some way I might do something for Him.  The summer has gone, and I am grieved that I have not been, from its beginning to its end, so like Him, so full of Him, as to constrain everybody I met to love Him too.  Isn’t there such power in a holy life, and have not some lived such a life?  I hardly know whether to rejoice most in my love for Him, or to mourn over my meagre love; so I do both.

When I think that I have a new friend, who will be indulgent to my imperfections, and is determined to find something in me to love, I am glad and thankful.  But when, added to that, I know she will pray for me, and so help my poor soul heavenward, it does seem as if God had been too good to me.  You can do it lying down or sitting up, or when you are among other friends.  It is true, as you say, that I do not think much of “lying-down prayer” in my own case, but I have not a weak back and do not need such an attitude.  And the praying we do by the wayside, in cars and steamboats, in streets and in crowds, perhaps keeps us more near to Christ than long prayers in solitude could without the help of these little messengers, that hardly ever stop running to Him and coming back with the grace every moment needs.  You can put me into some of these silent petitions when you are too tired to pray for me otherwise.

I have been writing this in my shawl and bonnet, expecting every instant to hear the bell toll for church, and now it is time to go.  Good-bye, dear, till by and by.

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Well, I have been and come, and—­wonder of wonders!—­I have had a little tiny bit of a very much needed nap.  Mr. Pratt gave us a really good sermon about living to Christ, and I enjoyed the hymns.  We have had a talk, my John and I, about death, and I asked him which of us had better go first, and, to my surprise, he said he thought I should.  I am sure that was noble and unselfish in him.  But I am not going to have even a wish about it.  God only knows which had better go first, and which stay and suffer.  Some of His children must go into the furnace to testify that the Son of God is there with them; I do not know why I should insist on not being one of them.  Sometimes I almost wish we were not building a house.  It seems as if it might stand in the way, if it should happen I had a chance to go to heaven.  I should almost feel mean to do that, and disappoint my husband who expects to see me so happy there.  But oh, I do so long to be perfected myself, and to live among those whose one thought is Christ, and who only speak to praise Him!

I like you to tell me, as you do in your East Dorset letter, how you spend your time, etc.  I have an insatiable curiosity about even the outer life of those I love; and of the inner one you can not say too much.  Good-bye.  We shall have plenty of time in heaven to say all we have to say to each other.

* * * * *


Return to Town.  Death of an old Friend.  Letters and Notes of Love and Sympathy.  An Old Ladies’ Party.  Scenes of Trouble and Dying Beds.  Fifty Years old.  Letters.

Her return to town brought with it a multitude of cares.  The following months drew heavily upon her strength and sympathies; but for all that they were laden with unwonted joy.  The summer at Dorset had been a very happy one.  While there she had finished Stepping Heavenward and on coming back to her city home, the cheery, loving spirit of the book seemed still to possess her whole being.  Katy’s words at its close were evidently an expression of her own feelings: 

Yes, I love everybody!  That crowning joy has come to me at last.  Christ is in my soul; He is mine; I am as conscious of it as that my husband and children are mine; and His Spirit flows forth from mine in the calm peace of a river, whose banks are green with grass, and glad with flowers.

To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Oct. 5, 1868

This is the first moment since we reached home, in which I could write to you, but I have had you in my heart and in my thoughts as much as ever.  We had a prosperous journey, but the ride to Rupert was fearfully cold.  I never remember being so cold, unless it was the night I reached Williamstown, when I went to my dear sister’s funeral....  I have told you this long story to try to give you a glimpse of the distracted life that meets us at

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our very threshold as we return home.  And now I’m going to trot down to see Miss Lyman, whom I shall just take and hug, for I am so brimful of love to everybody that I must break somebody’s bones, or burst.  John preached delightfully yesterday; I wanted you there to hear.  But all my treasures are in earthen vessels; he seems all used up by his Sunday and scarcely touched his breakfast.  I don’t see how his or my race can be very long, if we live in New York.  All the more reason for running it well.  And what a blessed, blessed life it is, at the worst!  “Central peace subsisting at the heart of endless agitation.”  Good-bye, dear; consider yourself embraced by a hearty soul that heartily loves you, and that soul lives in E. P.

On the 25th of October Mr. Charles H. Leonard, an old and highly esteemed friend, died very suddenly at his summer home in Rochester, Mass.  He was a man of sterling worth, generous, large-hearted, and endeared to Mrs. Prentiss and her husband by many acts of kindness.  He was one of the founders of the Church of the Covenant and had also aided liberally in building its pleasant parsonage.

To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Oct. 26, 1868.

I am reminded as I write my date, that I am fifty years old to-day.  My John says it is no such thing, and that I am only thirty; but I begin to feel antiquated, dilapidated, and antediluvian, etc., etc.

I write to let you know that we are going to Rochester, Mass., to attend the funeral of a dear friend there.  It seems best for me to risk the wear and tear of the going and the coming, if I can thereby give even a little comfort to one who loves me dearly, and who is now left without a single relative in the world.  For twenty-four years these have been faithful friends, loving us better every year, members of our church in New Bedford, Mercer street, and then here.  They lived at Rochester during the summer and we visited them there (you may remember my speaking of it) just before we went to Dorset.  Mrs. Leonard was then feeling very uneasy about her husband, but he got better and seemed about as usual, till last Tuesday, when he was stricken down with paralysis and died on Saturday.  Somebody said that spending so large a portion of my time as I do in scenes of sorrow, she wondered God did not give me more strength.  But I think He knows just how much to give.  I have been to Newark twice since I wrote you.  Mrs. Stearns is in a very suffering condition; I was appalled by the sight; appalled at the weakness of human nature (its physical weakness).  But I got over that, and had a sweet glimpse at least of the eternal felicity that is to be the end of what at longest is a brief period of suffering.  I write her a little bit of a note every few days.  I feel like a ball that now is tossed to Sorrow and tossed back by Sorrow to Joy.  For mixed in with every day’s experience of suffering are such great, such unmerited mercies.

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Two or three of the little notes follow: 

MY DEAREST ANNA :-I long to be with you through the hours that are before you, and to help cheer and sustain you in the trial of faith and patience to which you are called.  But unless you need me I will not go, lest I should be the one too many in your state of excitement and suspense.  We all feel anxiety as to the result of the incision, but take comfort in casting our care upon God.  May Christ Jesus, our dear Saviour, who loves and pities you infinitely more than any of us do, be very near you in this season of suspense.  I would gladly exchange positions with you if I might, and if it were best; but as I may not, and it is not best, because God wills otherwise, I earnestly commend you to His tender sympathy.  If He means that you shall be restored to health, He will make you happy in living; if He means to call you home to Himself, He will make you happy in dying.  Dear Anna, stay yourself on Him:  He has strength enough to support you, when all other strength fails.  Remember, as Lizzy Smith said, you are “encompassed with prayers.”

Friday Afternoon,

MY DEAR ANNA :-I send you a “lullaby” for next Sunday, which I met with at Dorset, and hope it will speak a little word and sing a little song to you while the rest are at church.  How I do wish I could see you every day!  I feel restless with longing; but you are hardly able to take any comfort in a long visit and it is such a journey to make for-a short one!  But, as I said the other day, if at any time you feel a little stronger and it would comfort you even a little bit to see me, I will drop everything and run right over.  It seems hard to have you suffer so and do nothing for you.  But don’t be discouraged; pain can’t last forever.

  “I know not the way I am going
  But well do I know my Guide! 
  With a childlike trust I give my hand,
  To the mighty Friend at my side. 
  The only thing that I say to Him
  As He takes it, is, ’Hold it fast. 
  Suffer me not to lose my way,
  And bring me home at last!’”

MY DEAR ANNA:-I feel such tender love and pity for you, but I know you are too sick to read more than a few words.

“In the furnace God may prove thee,
Thence to bring thee forth more bright
But can never cease to love thee: 
Thou art precious in His sight!”

                    Your ever affectionate LIZZY.

To Mrs. Lenard, Friday, Oct. 30, 1858.

We got home safely last evening before any of the children had gone to bed, and they all came running to meet us most joyfully.  This morning I am restless and can not set about anything.  It distresses me to think how little human friendship can do for such a sorrow as yours.  When a sufferer is on the rack he cares little for what is said to him though he may feel grateful for sympathy.  I found it hard to tear myself away from you so soon, but all

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I could do for you there I could do all along the way home and since I have got here:  love you, be sorry for you, and constantly pray for you.  I am sure that He who has so sorely afflicted you accepts the patience with which you bear the rod, and that when this first terrible amazement and bewilderment are over, and you can enter into communion and fellowship with Him, you will find a joy in Him that, hard as it is to the flesh to say so, transcends all the sweetest and best joys of human life.  You will have nothing to do now but to fly to Him.  I have seen the time when I could hide myself in Him as a little child hides in its mother’s arms, and so have thousands of aching hearts.  In all our afflictions He is afflicted.  But I must not weary you with words.  May God bless and keep you, and fully reveal Himself unto you!

To Miss.  E. A. Warner, New York, Nov. 2, 1868.

I have been lying on the sofa in my room, half asleep, and feeling rather guilty at the lot of gas I was wasting, but too lazy or too tired to get up to turn it down.  Your little “spray” hangs right over the head of my bed, an it was it was slightly dilapidated by its journey hither, I have tucked in a bit of green fern with it to remind me that I was not always in the sere and yellow leaf, but had a spring-time once.  To think of your going for to go and write verses to me in my old age!  I have just been reading them over and think it was real good of you to up and say such nice things in such a nice way.  I’d no idea you could! We did not come home from Rochester through Boston; if we had done so I meant to go and see you.  I made it up in many loving thoughts to you on our twelve hours’ journey.  Poor Mrs. L. met me with open arms, and I was thankful indeed that I went, though every word I said in the presence of her terrible grief, sounded flat and cold and dead.  How little the tenderest love and sympathy can do, in such sorrows!  She was so bewildered and appalled by her sudden bereavement, that it was almost a mockery to say a word; and yet I kept saying what I know is true, that Christ in the soul is better than any earthly joy.  Both Mr. Prentiss and myself feel the reaction which must inevitably follow such a strain.

You ask if I look over the past on my birthdays.  I suppose I used to do it and feel dreadfully at the pitiful review, but since I have had the children’s to celebrate, I haven’t thought much of mine.  But this time, being fifty years old, did set me upon thinking, and I had so many mercies to recount and to thank God for, that I hardly felt pangs of any sort.  I suppose He controls our moods in such seasons, and I have done trying to force myself into this or that train of thought.  I am sure that a good deal of what used to seem like repentance and sorrow for sin on such occasions, was really nothing but wounded pride that wished it could appear better in its own eyes.  God has been so good to me!  I wish I could begin to realise how good!  I think a great many thoughts to you that I can’t put on paper.  Life seems teaching some new, or deepening the impression of some old, lesson, all the time.

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You think A. may have looked scornfully at your little “spray.”  Well, she didn’t; she said, “What’s that funny little thing perched up there?  Well, it’s pretty anyhow.”  Among the rush of visitors to-day were Miss Haines and the W——­s.  I fell upon Miss W. and told her about you, furiously; then we got upon Miss Lyman, and it did my very soul good to hear Miss Haines praise and magnify her.  Never shall I cease to be thankful for being with her at Dorset, to say nothing, dear, of you!  Do you know that there are twelve cases of typhoid fever at Vassar? and that Miss Lyman is not as well as she was?  I feel greatly concerned about her, not to say troubled.  I don’t suppose I shall ever hear her pray.  But I shall hear her and help her praise.  I don’t believe a word about there being different grades of saints in heaven.  Some people think it modest to say that they don’t expect to get anywhere near so and so, they are so—­etc., etc.  But I expect to be mixed all up with the saints, and to take perfect delight in their testimony to my Saviour.

Can you put up with this miserable letter?  Folks can’t rush to Newark and to Rochester and agonise in every nerve at the sufferings of others, and be quite coherent.  I have sense enough left to know that I love you dearly, and that I long to see you and to take sweet counsel with you once more.  Don’t fail to give me the helping hand.

The following was written to Mrs. Stearns on her silver-wedding day, Nov. 15: 

MY DEAREST ANNA:  I have thought of you all day with the tenderest sympathy, knowing how you had looked forward to it, and what a contrast it offers to your bridal day twenty-five years ago.  But I hope it has not been wholly sad.  You have a rich past that can not be taken from you, and a richer future lies before you.  For I can see, though through your tears you can not, that the Son of God walks with you in this furnace of affliction, and that He is so sanctifying it to your soul, that ages hence you will look on this day as better, sweeter, than the day of your espousals.  It is hard now to suffer, but after all, the light affliction is nothing, and the weight of glory is everything.  You may not fully realise this or any other truth, in your enfeebled state, but truth remains the same whether we appreciate it or not; and so does Christ.  Your despondency does not prove that He is not just as near to you as He is to those who see Him more clearly; and it is better to be despondent than to be self-righteous.  Don’t you see that in afflicting you He means to prove to you that He loves you, and that you love Him?  Don’t you remember that it is His son—­not His enemy—­that He scourgeth?

The greatest saint on earth has got to reach heaven on the same terms as the greatest sinner; unworthy, unfit, good-for-nothing; but saved through grace.  Do cheer and comfort yourself with these thoughts, my dearest Anna, and your sick-room will be the happiest room in your house, as I constantly pray it may be!  Your ever affectionate Lizzy.

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To Miss E.A.W., New York, Nov. 17, 1868

You ask how I sleep.  I always sleep better at home than elsewhere; this is one great reason why we decided to have a home all the year round.  I have to walk four or five miles a day, which takes a good deal of time, these short days, but there is no help for it.  I do not think the time is lost when I am out of doors; I suppose Christ may go with us, does go with us, wherever we go.  But I am too eager and vehement, too anxious to be working all the time.  Why, no, I don’t think it wrong to want to be at work provided God gives us strength for work; the great thing is not to repine when He disables us.  I don’t think, my dear, that you need trouble yourself about my dying at present; it is not at all likely that I shall.  I feel as if I had got to be tested yet; this sweet peace, of which I have so much, almost startles me.  I keep asking myself whether it is not a stupendous delusion of Satan and my own wicked heart.  How I wish I could see you to-night!  There is so much one does not like to put on paper that one would love to say.

Thursday, 4 P.M.—­Well, my lunch-party is over, and my sewing society is re-organised, and before I go forth to tea, let me finish and send off this epistle.  We had the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Washburn, of Constantinople, Dr. Chickering, and Prof, and Mrs. Smith; gave them cold turkey, cold ham, cold ice-cream and hot coffee; that was about all, for society in New York is just about reduced down to eating and drinking together, after which you go about your business.

I am re-reading Leighton on 1st Peter; I wonder if you like it as much as my John and I do!  I hope your murderous book goes on well; then you can take your rest next summer.  Now I must get ready for my long walk down and over to Ninth st., to see a tiny little woman, and English at that.  Her prayer at our meeting yesterday moved us all to tears.

To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Nov. 25, 1868

Mr. Prentiss complained yesterday that no letters came, an unheard-of event in our family history, and this morning found twelve sticking in the top of the box; among them was yours, but I was just going off to my Prayer-meeting, and had to put it into my pocket and let it go too.  I am glad you sent me Mrs. Field’s letter and poem; she is a genius, and writes beautifully.  And how glad you must be to hear about your books.  I can’t imagine what better work you want than writing.  In what other way could you reach so many minds and hearts?  You must always send me such letters.  Before I forget it, let me tell you of a real Thanksgiving present we have just had; three barrels of potatoes, some apples, some dried apples, cranberries, celery, canned corn, canned strawberries, and two big chickens.

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After church, Thursday.—­I must indulge myself with going on with my letter, for after dinner I want to play with the children, and make this day mean something to them besides pies.  For everybody spoke for pies this year (you know we almost never make such sinful things) and they all said ice-cream wouldn’t do at all, so yesterday I made fourteen of these enormities, and mean to stuff them (the children, not the pies!) so that they won’t want any more for a year.  I want to tell you about some pretty coincidences; we went to church in a dismal rain, and Mr. Prentiss preached on the beauty of holiness, and every time he said anything that made sunshine particularly appropriate, the sun came in in floods, then disappeared till the next occasion.  For instance, he spoke of the sunshine of a happy home as so much brighter than that of the natural sun, and the whole church was instantly illuminated; then he said that if we had each come there with ten million sorrows, Christ could give us light, when, lo, the church glowed again; and so on half-a-dozen times, till at last he quoted the verse "And the Lamb is the light thereof," when a perfect blaze of effulgence made those mysterious, words almost startling.  And then he wound up by describing the Tyrolese custom on which Mrs. Field’s poem is founded, which he had himself seen and enjoyed, and of which, it seems, he spoke at East Dorset last summer at the Sunday-school. [8] I read the poem and letter to him the instant we got home, and he admired them both.  It was a little singular that her poem and his sermon came to me at almost the identical moment, wasn’t it?

I must tell you about an old ladies’ party given by Mrs. Cummings, wife of him who prepared my father’s memoir. [9] She had had a fortune left to her and was all the time doing good with it, and it entered her head to get up a very nice supper for twenty-six old ladies, the youngest of whom was seventy-five (the Portland people rarely die till they’re ninety or so).  She sent carriages for all who couldn’t walk, and when they all got together, the lady who described the scene to me, said it was indescribably beautiful, all congratulating each other that they were so far on in their pilgrimage and so near heaven!  Lovely, wasn’t it?  I wish I could spend the rest of my life with such people!  Then she spoke of Mrs. C.’s face during the last six months of her life, when it had an expression so blest, so seraphic, that it was a delight to look upon it—­and how she had all the members of the ladies’ prayer-meeting come and kiss her good-bye after she was too weak to speak.

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And now the children have got together again, and I must go and stay with them till their bed-time, when, partly for the sake of the walk, partly because they asked us, we twain are going to see the Smiths.  I rather think, my dear, that if, as you say, you could see all my thoughts, you would drop me as you would a hot potato.  You would see many good thoughts, I won’t deny that, and some loving ones; but you would also see an abominable lot of elated, conceited, horrid ones; self-laudation even at good planned to do, and admired before done.  But God can endure what no mortal eye could; He does not love us because we are so lovely, but because He always loves what He pities.  I fall back upon this thought whenever I feel discouraged; I was going to say sad, but that isn’t the word, for I never do feel sad except when I’ve been eating something I’d no business to!  Good-bye, dearie.

To the Same, New York, Dec. 3, 1868.

I think I must indulge myself, my dear, in writing to you to-night, it being really the only thing I want to do, unless it be to lie half asleep on the sofa.  And that I can’t do, for there’s no sofa in the room!  The cold weather has made it agreeable to have a fire in the dining-room grate, and this makes it a cheerful resort for the children, especially as the long table is very convenient for their books, map-drawing, etc.  And wherever the rest are the mother must be; I suppose that is the law of a happy family, in the winter at least.  The reason I am so tired to-night is that I have been unexpectedly to Newark.  I went, as soon as I could after breakfast, to market, and then on a walk of over two miles to prepare myself for our sewing-circle!  I met our sexton as I was coming home, and asked him to see what ailed one of the drawers of my desk that wouldn’t shut.  We had a terrible time with it, and I had to take everything out, and turn my desk topsy-turvy, and your letters and all my other papers got raving distracted, and all mixed up with bits of sealing-wax, old pens, and dear knows what not, when down comes A. from the school-room, to say that Mrs. Stearns had sent for me to come right out, thinking she was dying.  I knew nothing about the trains, always trusting to Mr. Prentiss about that, but in five minutes I was off, and on reaching the depot found I had lost a train by ten minutes, and that there wouldn’t be another for an hour.  Then I had leisure to remember that Mr. P. was to get home from Dorset, that I had left no message for him, had hid away all the letters that had come in his absence, where he couldn’t find them; that if it was necessary for me to stay at Newark all night he would be dreadfully frightened, etc., etc.  Somehow I felt very blue, but at last concluded to get rid of a part of the time by hunting up some dinner at a restaurant.

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When I at last got to Newark, I found that Mrs. Stearns’ disease had suddenly developed several unfavorable symptoms.  She had made up her mind that all hope was over, had taken leave of her family, and now wanted to bid me good-bye.  She held my hands fast in both hers, begging me to talk.  I spoke freely to her about her death; she pointed up once to an illumination I gave her last spring:  SIMPLY TO THY CROSS I CLING.  “That,” she said, “is all I can do.”  I said all I could to comfort her, but I do not know whether God gave me the right word or not.

On my return, as I got out of the stage near the corner of our street, whom should my weary eyes light on but my dear good man, just got home from Dorset; how surprised and delighted we were to meet so unexpectedly!  M. rushed to meet us, and afterward said to me, “I have three great reliefs; you have got home; papa has got home; and Aunt Anna is still alive.”  My children were never so lovely and loving as they are this winter; my home is almost too luxurious and happy; such things don’t belong to this world.  We have just heard of the death in Switzerland of Mr. Prentiss’ successor at New Bedford, classmate of one of my brothers, and some one has sent a plaintive, sweet little dying song written at Florence by him.  Now I am too fagged to say another word.

Dec. 4th.—­“I do not get any time to write; each day brings its own special work that can’t be done to-morrow; as to letters, I scratch them off at odd moments, when too tired to do anything else.  What a resource they are!  They do instead of crying for me.  And how many I get every week that are loving and pleasant!

What do you think of this?  I hope it will make you laugh—­a lady told me she never confessed her sins aloud (in prayer) lest Satan should find out her weak points and tempt her more effectually!  And I want to ask you if you ever offer to pray with people?  I never do, and yet there are cases when nothing else seems to answer.  Oh, how many questions of duty come up every hour, and how many reasons we have every hour to be ashamed of ourselves!

Monday morning.—­It was a shame to write to you, when I was so tired that I could not write legibly, but my heart was full of love, and I longed to be near you.  Now Monday has come, a lowering, forbidding day, yet all is sunshine in my soul, and I hope that may make my home light to my beloved ones, and even reach you, wherever you are.  I am going to run out to see how Mrs. Stearns is.  Our plan is for me to make arrangements to stay with her, if I can be of any use or comfort.  I literally love the house of mourning better than the house of feasting.  All my long, long years of suffering and sorrow make sorrow-stricken homes homelike, and I can not but feel, because I know it from experience, that Christ loves to be in such homes.  So you may congratulate me, dear, if I may be permitted to go where He goes.  I wish you could have heard

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yesterday’s sermon about God’s having as characteristic, individual a love to each of us as we have to our friends.  Think of that, dear, when you remember how I loved you in Mrs. G.’s little parlor!  Can you realise that your Lord and Saviour loves you infinitely more?  I confess that such conceptions are hard to attain....  Can’t you do M——­ S——­ up in your next letter, and send her to me on approbation?  Instead of being satisfied that I’ve got you, I want her and everybody else who is really good, to fill up some of the empty rooms in my heart.  This is a rambling, scrambling letter, but I don’t care, and don’t believe you do.  Well, good-bye; thank your stars that this bit of paper hasn’t got any arms and can’t hug you!

To Mrs. Leonard, New York, Dec. 13, 1868.

There is half an hour before bed-time, and I have been thinking of and praying for you, till I feel that I must write.  I forgot to tell you, how the verses in my Daily Food, on the day of your dear husband’s death, seem meant for you: 

“Thou art my refuge and portion.”—­Ps. cxliii. 5.

  ’Tis God that lifts our comforts high,
    Or sinks them in the grave;
  He gives, and blessed be His name! 
    He takes but what He gave.

The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.—­JOB i. 21.

I have had this little book thirty-three years, it has travelled with me wherever I have been, and it has been indeed my song in the house of my pilgrimage.  This has been our communion Sunday, and I have been very glad of the rest and peace it has afforded, for I have done little during the last ten days but fly from one scene of sorrow to another, from here to Newark and from Newark to Brooklyn....  So I have alternated between the two dying beds; yesterday Jennie P. went into a convulsion just as I entered the room, and did not fully come out of it for an hour and a half, when I had to come away in order to get home before pitch dark.  What a terrible sight it is!  They use chloroform, and that has a very marked effect, controlling all violence in a few seconds.  Whether the poor child came out of that attack alive I do not know; I had no doubt she was dying till just before I came away, when she appeared easier, though still unconscious.  The family seem nearly frantic, and the sisters are so upset by witnessing these turns, that I shall feel that I must be there all I can.  I am in cruel doubt which household to go to, but hope God will direct.

Mr. Prentiss is a good deal withered and worn by his sister’s state; he had never, by any means, ceased to hope, and he is much afflicted.  She and Jennie may live a week or more, or go at any moment.  In my long hours of silent musing and prayer, as I go from place to place, I think often of you.  I think one reason why we do not get all the love and faith we sigh for is that we try to force them to come to us, instead of realising that they must be God’s

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free gifts, to be won by prayer....  And now Mr. P. has come up-stairs rolled up in your afghan, and we have decided to go to both Newark and Brooklyn to-morrow, so I know I ought to go to bed.  You must take this letter as a great proof of my love to you, though it does not say much, for I am bewildered by the scenes through which I am passing, and hardly fit therefore to write.  What I do not say I truly feel, real, deep, constant sympathy with you in your sorrow and loneliness.  May God bless you in it.

[1] Dorset is situated in Bennington county, about sixty miles from Troy and twenty-five miles from Rutland.  Its eastern portion lies in a deep-cut valley along the western slope of the Green Mountain range, on the line of the Bennington and Rutland railroad.  Its western part—­the valley in which Mrs. Prentiss passed her summers—­is separated from East Dorset by Mt.  Aeolus, Owl’s Head, and a succession of maple-crested hills, all belonging to the Taconic system of rocks, which contains the rich marble, slate, and limestone quarries of Western Vermont.  In the north this range sweeps round toward the Equinox range, enclosing the beautiful and fertile upland region called The Hollow.  Dorset belonged to the so-called New Hampshire Grants, and was organised into a township shortly before the Revolutionary War.  Its first settlers were largely from Connecticut and Massachusetts.  They were a hardy, intelligent, liberty-loving race, and impressed upon the town a moral and religious character, which remains to this day.

[2] Mrs. Arthur Bronson, of New York.  A life of Mrs. Prentiss would scarcely be complete without a grateful mention of this devoted friend and true Christian lady.  She was the centre of a wide family circle, to all of whose members, both young and old, she was greatly endeared by the beauty and excellence of her character.  She died shortly after Mrs. Prentiss.

[3] While supposing that her brothers had been burnt out and had, perhaps, lost everything, she wrote to her husband with characteristic generosity:  “If they did not kill themselves working at the fire, they will kill themselves trying to get on their feet again.  Every cent I have I think should be given them.  My father’s church and everything associated with my youth, gone forever!  I can’t think of anything else.”

[4] Mrs. McCurdy died at her home in New York in December, 1876.  A few sentences from a brief address at the funeral by her old pastor will not be here out of place.  “Her natural character was one of the loveliest I have ever known.  Its leading traits were as simple and clear as daylight, while its cheering effect upon those who came under its influence was like that of sunshine.  She was not only very happy herself—­enjoying life to the last in her home and her friends—­but she was gifted with a disposition and power to make others happy such as falls to the lot of only a select few of the race.  Her domestic and church ties

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brought her into relations of intimate acquaintance and friendship with some of the best men of her times.  I will venture to mention two of them:  her uncle, the late Theodore Frelinghuysen, one of the noblest men our country has produced, eminent alike as statesman, scholar, and Christian philanthropist; and the sainted Thomas H. Skinner, her former pastor.  Her sick-room—­if sick-room is the proper name—­in which, during the last seventeen years, she passed so much of her time, was tinged with no sort of gloom; it seemed to have two doors, one of them opening into the world, through which her family and friends passed in and out, learning lessons of patience and love and sweet contentment:  the other opening heavenward, and ever ajar to admit the messenger of her Lord, in whatever watch he should come to summon her home.  The place was like that upper chamber facing the sunrising, and whose name was Peace, in which Bunyan’s Pilgrim was lodged on the way to the celestial city.  How many pleasant and hallowed memories lead back to that room!”

[5] Old New Bedford friends.

[6] Fritz und Maria und Ich.  Von Mrs. Prentiss.  Deutsche autorisirte Ausgabe.  Von Marie Morgenstern.  Itzchoe, 1874.

[7] She gave me the pet-name of “Fanny” because she did not like mine, and there was an old joke about “John.”—­E.  A. W.

[8] The custom related to a pious salutation, with which two friends, or even strangers, greet each other, when meeting on the mountain highways and passes in certain districts of Tyrol. "Gelobt sei Jesu Christ!" cries one; "In Ewigkeit, Amen!" answers the other (i.e., “Praised be Jesus Christ!” “For evermore, Amen!”) The following lines are from Mrs. F.’s Poem: 

  “When the poor peasant, alpenstock in hand,
      Toils up the steep,
  And finds a friend upon the dizzy height
      Amid his sheep,

  “They do not greet each other as in our
      Kind English way,
  Ask not for health, nor wish in cheerful phrase
       prosperous day;

  “Infinite thoughts alone spring up in that
      Great solitude,
  Nothing seems worthy or significant
      But heavenly good;

  “So in this reverent and sacred form
      Their souls outpour,—­
  Blessed be Jesus Christ’s most holy name! 
      ‘For evermore!’”

[9] Rev. Asa Cummings, D.D., of Portland, for many years editor of the Christian Mirror; one of the weightiest, wisest and best men of his generation.





Death of Mrs. Stearns.  Her Character.  Dangerous Illness of Prof.  Smith.  Death at the Parsonage.  Letters.  A Visit to Vassar College.  Letters.  Getting ready for General Assembly.  “Gates Ajar.”

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A little past three o’clock on Saturday afternoon, January 2, 1869, Anna S. Prentiss, wife of the Rev. Jonathan F. Stearns, D.D., fell asleep in Jesus.  The preceding pages show what strong ties bound Mrs. Prentiss to this beloved sister.  Their friendship dated back thirty years; it was cemented by common joys and common sorrows in some of their deepest experiences of life; and it had been kept fresh and sweet by frequent intercourse and correspondence.  Mrs. Stearns was a woman of uncommon attractions and energy of character.  She impressed herself strongly upon all who came within the sphere of her influence; the hearts of her husband’s people, as well as his own and those of her children, trusted in her; and the whole community where she dwelt mourned her loss.  She had been especially endeared to her brother Seargent, with whom she spent several winters in the South prior to her marriage.  Her influence over him, at a critical period of his life, was alike potent and happy; their relation to each other was, in truth, full of the elements of romance; and some of his letters to her are exquisite effusions of fraternal confidence and affection. [1] Her letters to him, beginning when she was a young girl and ending only with his life, would form a large volume.  “You excel any one I know,” he wrote to her, “in the kind and gentle art of letter-writing.”  In the midst of his early professional triumphs he writes: 

You do not know what obligations I am under to you; I owe all my success in this country to the fact of having so kind a mother and such sweet affectionate sisters as Abby and yourself.  It has been my only motive to exertion; without it I should long since have thrown myself away.  Even now, when, as is frequently the case, I feel perfectly reckless both of life and fortune, and look with contempt upon them both, the recollection that there are two or three hearts that beat for me with real affection, even though far away—­comes over me as the music of David did over the dark spirit of Saul.  I still feel that I have something worth living for.

For years her letters helped to cherish and deepen this feeling.  He thus refers to one of them: 

I can not tell how much I thank you for it.  I cried like a child while reading it, and even now the tears stand in my eyes, as I think of its expressions of affection, sympathy, and good sense....  I wish you were here now—­oh, how I do wish it!  But you will come next fall, won’t you? and be to me

  The antelope whose feet shall bless
  With her light step my loneliness.

But my candle burns low, and it is past the witching hour of night.  Whether sleeping or waking, God bless you and our dear mother, and all of you.  Good-night—­good-night.  My love loads this last line.

To Mrs. Prentiss and her husband, the death of Mrs. Stearns was an irreparable loss.  It took out of their life one of its greatest earthly blessings.

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The new year opened with another painful shock—­the sudden and dangerous illness of her husband’s bosom friend, Henry Boynton Smith.  Prof.  Smith was to have made one of the addresses at the funeral of Mrs. Stearns; but instead of doing so, he was obliged to take to his bed, and, soon afterwards, to flee for his life beyond the sea.  To this affliction the reader is indebted for the letters to Mrs. Smith, contained in this chapter.  On the 16th of February another niece of her husband, a sweet child of seventeen, was brought to the parsonage very ill and died there before the close of the month.  Her letters will show how she was affected by these troubles.

To Mrs. Leonard, New York, Jan. 9, 1869.

So many unanswered letters lie piled on my desk that I hardly know which to take up first, but my heart yearns over you, and I can not help writing you.  No wonder you grow sadder as time passes and the beloved one comes not, and comes not.  I wish I could help you bear your burden, but all I can do is to be sorry for you.  The peaceable fruits of sorrow do not ripen at once; there is a long time of weariness and heaviness while this process is going on; but I do not, will not doubt, that you will taste these fruits, and find them very sweet.  One of the hard things about bereavement is the physical prostration and listlessness which make it next to impossible to pray, and quite impossible to feel the least interest in anything.  We must bear this as a part of the pain, believing that it will not last forever, for nothing but God’s goodness does.  How I wish you were near us, and that we could meet and talk and pray together over all that has saddened our lives, and made heaven such a blessed reality!

There is not much to tell about the last hours of our dear sister.  She had rallied a good deal, and they all thought she was getting well; but the day after Christmas typhoid symptoms began to set in.  I saw her on the Monday following, found her greatly depressed, and did not stay long.  On Saturday morning, we got a dispatch we should have received early on New Year’s day, saying she was sinking.  We hurried out, found her flushed and bright, but near her end, having no pulse at either wrist, and her hands and feet cold.  She had had a distressing day and night, but now seemed perfectly easy; knew us, gave us a glad welcome, reminded me that I had promised to go with her to the end, and kissed us heartily.  Every time we went near her she gave us such a glad smile that it was hard to believe she was going so soon.  She talked incessantly, with no signs of debility, but it was the restlessness of approaching death.

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At three in the afternoon they all came into the room, as they always did at that hour.  She said a few things, and evidently began to lose her sight, for as Lewis was about to leave the room, she said, “Good-night, L.,” and then to me, “Why, Lizzy dear, you are not going to stay all night?” I said, “Oh yes, don’t you know I promised to stay with A., who will be so lonely?” She looked pleased, but greatly surprised, her mind being so weak, and in a few seconds she laid her restless hands on her breast, her eyes became fixed, and the last gentle breaths began to come and go.  “Is the doctor here?” she asked.  We told her no, and then Mr. S. and the nurse, who were close each side of her, began to repeat a verse or two of Scripture; then seeing she was apparently too far gone to hear, Mr. S. leaned over and whispered, “My darling!” She made no response, on which he said, “She can make no response,” and she said, “But I hear,” gave one or two more gentle little breaths, and was gone.  I forgot to say that after her eyes were fixed, hearing Mr. S. groan, she stopped dying, turned and gave a parting look!  I never saw an easier death, nor such a bright face up to the very last.  One of the doctors coming in, in the morning, was apparently overcome by the extraordinary smile she gave him, for he turned away immediately without a word, and left the house.  I staid, as they wished me to do, till Monday night, when I came home quite used up.  Your sorrow, and the sorrow at Brooklyn, and now this one, have come one after another until it seemed as if there was no end to it; such is life, and we must bear it patiently, knowing the end will be the more joyful for all that saddened the way.

I shall always let you know if anything of special interest occurs in the church or among ourselves.  After loving you so many years, I am not likely to forget you now.  The addresses at Mrs. S.’s funeral will probably be published, and we will send you a copy.  Mr. P. is bearing up bravely, but feels the listlessness of which I spoke, and finds sermonising hard work.  He joins me in love to you.  Do write often.

To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Feb. 16, 1869.

On coming home from church on Sunday afternoon I found one of the Brooklyn family waiting to tell us that another of the girls was very ill, that they were all worn out and nearly frantic, and asking if she might be brought here to be put under the care of some German doctor, as Dr. Smith had given her up.  In the midst of my sorrow for the poor mother, I thought of myself.  How could I, who had not been allowed to invite Miss Lyman here, undertake this terrible care?  You know what a fearful disease it is—­how many convulsions they have; but you don’t know the harm it did me just seeing poor Jennie P. in one.  Yesterday I tried hard to let God manage it, but I know I wished He would manage it so as to spare me; it takes so little to pull me down, and so little to

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destroy my health.  But I wasn’t in a good frame, couldn’t write a Percy for the Observer, got a letter from some house down town, asking me to write them Susy books, got a London Daily News containing a nice notice of Little Lou, but nought consoled me. [2] In fact, I dawdled so long over H.’s lessons, which I always hear after breakfast, that I had not my usual time to pray; and that, of itself, would spoil any day.  After dinner came two of the Prentiss sisters to say that Dr. [Horatio] Smith said Eva’s one chance of getting well was to come here for change of air and scene—­would I take her and her mother?  Of course I would.  They then told me that Dr. Smith had said his brother’s case was perfectly hopeless.  This upset me.  My feet turned into ice and my head into a ball of fire.  As soon as they left, I had the spare room arranged, and then went out and walked till dark to cool off my head, but to so little purpose that I had a bad night; the news about Prof.  S. was so dreadful.  Mr. Prentiss was appalled, too.  I had to make this a day of rest—­not daring to work after such a night.  Got up at seven or so, took my bath, rung the bell for prayers at twenty minutes of eight.  After breakfast heard H.’s lessons, then read the 20th chapter of Matthew; and mused long on Christ’s coming to minister—­not to be ministered unto.  Prayed for poor Mrs. Smith and a good many weary souls, and felt a little bit better.  Then went down to Randolph’s at the request of a lady, who wanted him to sell some books she had got up for a benevolent object.  He said he’d take twelve.  Then to the Smiths, burdened with my sad secret.  Got home tired and depressed.  Tried to get to sleep and couldn’t, tried to read and couldn’t.

At last they came with the sick girl, and one look at the poor, half-fainting child, and her mother’s “Nobody in the world but you would have let us come,” made them welcome; and I have rejoiced ever since that God let them come.  One of the first things they said took my worst burden off my back; the whole story about Prof.  Smith was a dream!  Can you conceive my relief?  We had dinner.  Eva ate more than she had done for a long time.  We had a long talk with her mother after dinner; then I went up to the sick-room and stayed an hour or so; then had a call; then ran out to carry a book to a widowed lady, that I hoped would comfort her; then home, and with Eva till tea-time.  Then had some comfort in laying all these cares and interests in those loving Arms that are always so ready to take them in.  I enjoy praying in the morning best, however—­perhaps because less tired; but sometimes I think it is owing to a sort of night-preparation for it; I mean, in the wakeful times of night and early morning.

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Wednesday, 17th—­While I was writing the above all the Brooklyn Prentisses went to bed, and we New York Prentisses went to the Sunday-school rooms next door to a church-gathering.  There are three rooms that can be thrown together, and they were bright and fragrant with flowers, most of which the young men sent me afterwards, exquisite things.  I had a precious talk with Dr. Abbot, one of whose feet, to say the least, is already on the topmost round.  I only wish he was a woman.  The church was open, and we all went in and listened to some fine music.  Coming out I said to a gentleman who approached me, “How is little baby?” “Which little baby?” “Why, the youngest.”  “Oh, we haven’t any baby.”  And lo!  I had mistaken my man!  Imagine how he felt and how I felt!  We got home at eleven P.M., and so ended my day of rest.  I have 540 things to say, but there is so much going on that I shall defraud you of them—­aren’t you glad?  Have you read the “Gates Ajar”?  I have, with real pain.  I do not think you will be so shocked at it as I am, but hope you don’t like it.  It is full of talent, but has next to no Christ in it, and my heaven is full of Him.  I have finished Faber.  How queer he is with his 3’s and 5’s and 6’s and 7’s!  I feel all done up into little sums in addition, and that’s about all I know of myself—­he’s bewildered me so.  There are fine things in it, and I took the liberty of making a wee cross against some of them, which you can rub out.  Miss L. sent me another of his books, which I am reading now—­“All for Jesus.”

To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, New York, March 22, 1869

We were gladdened early this morning by the arrival of your letter, and the good news it contained.  I had a dreadful fright on the day you reached Southampton.  Mr. Moore sent up a cable dispatch announcing the fact, and as it came directed to both of us, and I supposed it to be from you, I thought some terrible thing had happened.  I paraded down to M. with your letter, and she, at the same time, paraded up here with the one to her and the rest.  So we got all the news there was, and longed for more.  I hope the worst is now over.  I have just got home from a visit of four days and nights to Miss Lyman.  I enjoyed it exceedingly, and wish I could tell you all about it, but can’t in a letter.  She has turns of looking absolutely aged, and seems a good deal of the time in a perfect worry, I don’t know what about.  Otherwise she is better than last summer.  I never saw her when at work before, and perhaps she always appears so.  We had two or three good rousing laughs, however, and that did us both good.  I did not know she was so fond of flowers; she buys them and keeps loads of them about her parlors, library, and bedroom.  What a world it is there!  I only wish she was happier in her work, but perhaps if we could get behind the scenes, we should find all human workers have their sorrows and misgivings and faintings.  According to her I had an “inquiry meeting” once or twice; believe it if you can and dare.  It was certainly very pleasant to get into such an intelligent Christian atmosphere, and on the whole I’ve got rather converted to Vassar.

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I have been greatly delighted with a present of one of my father’s cuff-buttons (which I well remember), and a lock of his hair....  I haven’t got anything more to say.  Oh, Mrs. ——­ left that on her card here the other day, and we called on her this afternoon.  What a jolly old lady she is!  Of course, anybody could believe in perfection who was as fat and well as she!

To Mrs. Leonard, New York, April 5, 1869

If I should send you a letter every time I send you a thought, you would be quite overwhelmed with them.  Now that Mrs. S. has gone away, and some of my pressing cares are over, I miss you more than ever.  We have had a good deal to sadden us this winter, beginning with your sorrow, which was also ours; and Eva P.’s death, occurring as it did in our house, was a distressing one.  She was here about a fortnight, and the first week came down to her meals, though she kept in her room the rest of the time.  On Tuesday night of the second week she was at the tea-table, and played a duet with A. after tea.  Soon after she was taken with distress for breath, and was never in bed again, but sat nearly double in a chair, with one of us supporting her head.  It was agonizing suffering to witness, and the care of her was more laborious than anyone can conceive, who did not witness or participate in it.  We had at last to have six on hand to relieve each other.  She died on Saturday, after four terrible days and nights.  We knew she would die here when they first proposed her coming, but did not like to refuse her last desire, and are very glad we had the privilege of ministering to her last wants....  For you I desire but one thing—­a full possession of Christ.  Let us turn away our eyes from everything that does not directly exalt Him in our affections; we are poor without Him, no matter what our worldly advantages are; rich with Him when stripped of all besides.  Still I know you are passing through deep waters, and at times must well nigh sink.  But your loving Saviour will not let you sink, and He never loved you so well as He does now.  How often I long to fly to you in your lonely hours!  But I can not, and so I turn these longings into prayers.  I hope you pray for me, too.  You could not give me anything I should value so much, and it is a great comfort to me to know that you love me.  I care more to be loved than to be admired, don’t you?  I hope that by next winter you may feel that you can come and see us; I want to see you, not merely to write to you and get answers.  I send you a picture of our nest at Dorset.  Good-bye.

To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, April 20, 1869

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I opened your letter in the street, and was at once confronted with a worldly-looking bit of silk!  How can you!  Why don’t you follow my example and dress in sackcloth and ashes?  I think however, if you will be worldly you have done it very prettily, and on the whole don’t know that it is any wickeder than I have been in translating a “dramatic poem” in five acts from the German, only you’ve got your dress done and I’m only half through my play; and there’s no knowing how bad I shall get before I am through.  I wonder if you are sitting by an open window, as I am, and roasting at that?  I had a drive with A. and M. through the Park yesterday, and saw stacks of hyacinths in bloom, and tulips and violets and dandelions; a willow-tree not far from my window has put on its tender green, and summer seems close at hand.  I have been to an auction and got cheated, as I might have known I should; and the other day I had my pocket picked.  As to “Gates Ajar,” most people are enchanted with it; but Miss Lyman regards it as I do, and so do some other elect ladies.  I have just written to see if she will come down and get a little rest, now the weather is so fine.  Mr. P. has gone to Dorset to be gone all the week, and I am buying up what is to be bought, begrudging every cent! mean wretch that I am.

I have looked through and read parts of “Patience Strong’s Outings”—­an ugly title, and a transcendental style, but beautiful in conception, and taken off the stilts, in execution.  I do not like the cant of Unitarians any better than they like ours, but I like what is elevating in any sect.  I have had a present of a lot of table-linen, towels, etc., for Dorset, and feel a good deal like a young housekeeper.  I wonder how soon you go back to Northampton?  How queer it must be to be able to float round!  It is a pity you could not float to New York, and get a good hugging from this old woman.  We expect 250 ministers here in May at general assembly (I ought to have spelt it with a big G and a big A).  My dear child, what makes you get blue?  I don’t much believe in any blue devils save those that live in the body and send sallies into the mind.  Perhaps I should, though, if I had not a husband and children to look after; how little one can judge for another!

* * * * *


How she earned her Sleep.  Writing for young Converts about speaking the Truth.  Meeting of the General Assembly in the Church of the Covenant.  Reunion.  D.D.s and Strawberry Short-cake.  “Enacting the Tiger.”  Getting ready for Dorset.  Letters.

This year was one of the busiest of her life; and it were hard to say which was busiest, her body or mind; her hand, heart, or brain.  This relentless activity was caused in part by the increasing difficulty of obtaining sleep.  Incessant work seemed to be, in her case, a sort of substitute for natural rest and a solace for the loss of it.  She alludes to this constant struggle with insomnia in a letter to Miss Warner, dated May 9th: 

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If you knew the whole story you would not envy my power of driving about so much.  You can lie down and sleep when you please; I must earn my sleep by hard work, which uses up so much time that I wonder I ever accomplish anything.  I believe that God arranges our various burdens and fits them to our backs, and that He sets off a loss against a gain, so that while some seem more favored than others, the mere aspect deceives.  I have to make it my steady object throughout each day, so to spend time and strength as to obtain sleep enough to carry me through the next; it is thus I have acquired the habit of taking a large amount of exercise, which keeps me out of doors when I am longing to be at work within.  You say I seem to be always in a flood of joy; well, that too is seems.  I think I know what joy in God means, though perhaps I only begin to know; but I am a weak creature; I fall into snares and get entangled—­not nearly so often as I used to do, but still do get into them.  I have a perfect horror of them; the thought of having anything come between God and my soul makes me so restless and uneasy that I hardly know which way to turn.  I have been very much absorbed of late in various interests, and am sure they have contrived to occupy me too much; pressing cares do sometimes, and oh, how ashamed I am!

Do write for young inquirers, if your heart prompts you to do it.  I don’t know what to think of your suggestion that in writing for young converts I should impress it upon them to speak the truth.  It seems to me just like telling them not to commit murder; and that would be absurd.  Do Christians cheat and tell lies?  I have a great aversion to writing about such things; if children are not trained at home to be upright and full of integrity, it can’t be that books can rectify that loss.  You may reply that home-training is defective in thousands of cases; yes, that is true, but I have a feeling that truth and honesty must spring from a soil early prepared for them, and that a young person who is in the habit of falsehood is not a Christian and needs to go back to first principles.  I can’t endure subterfuges, misrepresentation, and the like; the whole foundation looks wrong when people indulge themselves in them, and to say to a Christian, “I hope you are truthful,” is to my mind as if I should say to him, “I hope you wash your face and hands every day.”  Now if your observation says I am wrong, let’s know; I am open to conviction.

To Mrs. H. B. Smith, New York, May 24, 1869.

It has just come to me that the true way to enjoy writing and to have you enjoy hearing, is to keep a sort of journal, where little things will have a chance to speak for themselves.

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We are now in the midst of General Assembly.  Mr. Stearns is here, and we have sprinklings of ministers to dine and to tea at all sorts of odd hours....  I can’t help loving what is Christlike in people, whether I like their natural characters or not; after all, what else is there in the world worth much love?  My Katy seems to be ploughing her way with more or less success, and making friends and foes.  You, who helped me fashion her, would be interested in the letters I get from wives, showing that the want of demonstration in men is a wide-spread evil, under which women do groan being burdened. Entre nous, Mrs. Dr. ——­ is one, and I got a letter to-day from Michigan to the same effect.  We are having delightful weather for the meetings.  Yesterday morning Dr. John Hall preached in our church, and it was crammed full to Overflowing....  Lew.  S. [3] has decided to study theology.  We are all glad.  He and I have got quite acquainted of late and talk most learnedly together.  Did I tell you I have translated a German dramatic poem in five acts?  Miss Anna Nevins says I have done it extremely well.  I don’t know about that, but my whole soul got into it somehow, and I did not know whether I was in the body or out of it for two or three weeks.  I wish I could do things decently and in order.  There is to be a great party at Apollo Hall this evening for both Assemblies.  I am going and expect to get tired to death.

26th—­It was a brilliant scene at Apollo Hall.  Everybody was there, and the hall was finely adapted to the purpose of accommodating the 2,000 people present.  The speeches were very poor.  I went to the prayer-meeting this morning.  The church was full, galleries and all, and the spirit was excellent.  Many men shed tears in speaking for reunion, and, from what Mr. Stearns reports of the meeting of the Committee last night, union may be considered as good as restored.  You will hear nothing else from me; it is all I hear talked about. Monday, 3l.—­Hot as need be.  Dr. B., of Brooklyn, dined with us; said he never ate strawberry short-cake before, and was reading Katy.  It is awful to think how many D.D.s are doing it (eating short-cake, I mean, of course!) Hope the Assembly will wind up to-night. June 5.—­We are so glad you have got to La Tour and find it so pleasant there, and that you have met Dr. and Mrs. Guthrie, and that they have met you instead of the blowsy-towsy American women, who make one so ashamed of them.  If I wasn’t going to Dorset, I should wish I were going where you are; but then, you see, I am going to Dorset!...  I have been to the Central Park with Mrs. —–­, who talked in one steady stream all the way.  I was sleepy and the carriage very noisy; and take it altogether, what a farce life is sometimes! the intercourse of human beings outsides touching outsides, the heart and soul lying to all intents and purposes as dead as a door-nail.  Do you ever feel mentally and spiritually alone in the world?  Perhaps everybody does.

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To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, June 4, 1869.

I concluded you had gone and died and got buried without letting me know, when your letter reached me via Dorset.  What possessed you to send it there when you knew, you naughty thing! that I was having General Assembly, I can’t imagine; but I suppose, being a Congregationalist, you thought General Assembly wasn’t nothing, and that I could entertain squads of D.D.s for a fortnight more or less, just as well at Dorset as I could here.  My dear, read the papers and go in the way you should go, and behave yourself!  As if 250 ministers haven’t worn streaks in the grass round the church, haven’t (some of ’em) been here to dinner and eaten my strawberry short-cake and cottage puddings and praised my coffee and drank two cups apiece all round, and as if I hadn’t been set up on end for those of ’em to look at who are reading Katy, and as if going furiously to work, after they’d all gone, didn’t use me up and send me “lopping” down on sofas, sighing like a what’s-its-name.  Well, well; the ignorance of you country folks and the wisdom of us city folks!  We hope to get to Dorset by the 17th of this month; it depends upon how many interruptions I have and how many days I have to lie by.  I can’t imagine why I break down so, for I don’t know when I’ve been so well as during this spring; but Mr. P. and A. say I work like a tiger, and I s’pose I do without knowing it.  I am so glad you had a pleasant Sunday.  No doubt you had more bodily strength with which to enjoy spiritual things.  A weak body hinders prayer and praise when the heart would sing, if it were not in fetters that cramp and exhaust it.

Monday—­To-day I have been enacting the tiger again, and worked furiously.  A. half scolds and half entreats, but I can’t help it; if I work I work, and so there it is.  I have bought a dinner-set, and had a long visit from my old Mary, who wept over and kissed me, and am going out to call on Mrs. Woolsey this evening.  To-morrow A.’s scholars are to come and make an address to her and give her a picture.  She is not to know it till they arrive.  It is really cold after the very hot weather, and some are freezing and some have internal pains.  I wish you could have seen me this forenoon at work in the attic—­a mass of dust, feathers, and perplexity.  I got hold of one of my John’s innumerable trunks of papers, and found among them the MSS. of several of my books laid up in lavender, which I pitched into the ash-barrel.  I suppose he thinks I may distinguish myself some time, and that the discerning world will be after a scratch of my gifted pen!  Have you read “Gates Off the Hinges”?  The next thing will be, “There Aint no Gates.”

* * * * *


The new Home in Dorset.  What it became to her.  Letters from there.

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A notable incident of this year was the entering upon housekeeping at Dorset under her own roof.  As is usual in such cases, the process was somewhat wearisome and trying, but the result was most happy.  All the bright anticipations, with which the event had been so long looked forward to, were more than realised.  For the next ten summers the Dorset home was to her a sweet haven of rest from the agitations, cares, and turmoil of New York life.  It seemed at the time a venturesome, almost a rash thing, to build it; but when she left it for her home above, the building of the house seemed to have been an inspiration of Providence.  While contributing greatly to her happiness, it probably added several years to her life.  The four months which she passed each season at Dorset were spent largely in the open air, and in such varied and pleasant exercise as exerted the most healthful, soothing influence upon both body and soul.  It was just this fruit her husband hoped might, by the blessing of Heaven, blossom out of the new home, and in later years he used often to say to her, that if the place should be of a sudden annihilated, he should still feel that it had paid for itself many times over.

To Mrs. Smith, Dorset, July 19, 1869.

How many times during the last month I have been reminded of your saying you had lived through the agony of getting your house ready to rent.  I can sum up all I have been through by saying that almost everything has turned out the reverse of what I expected.  In the first place, I broke down just as we were to start to come here, and had to be left behind to pick up life enough to undertake the journey; then the car we chartered did not get here for a week, and nobody but A. had anything to wear, and all my flowers died for want of water.  The car, too, was broken into and my idols of tin pans all taken, with some other things, and when it did arrive it was unpacked, and our goods brought here, in a regular deluge, the like of which has not been seen since the days of Noah.  For days everything was in dire confusion; but for all that our own home was delightful, and we had the most outrageous appetites you ever heard of.  George is in ecstasies with his house, his land, his pig, and his horse....  I hope you are not sick and tired of all this rigmarole; it isn’t in human nature to move into a house of its own and talk of anything else.  I got a warm-hearted letter a few days ago from the city of Milwaukee, from an unknown western sister, beginning, “Whom not having seen I love,” and going on to say that Katy describes herself and her lot exactly, only she had no Martha on hand.  I get so many such testimonies.  I am going to spare your eyes and brains by winding up this epistle and going to bed.  I do not think your husband ought to come home till he has recovered his power of sleeping.  I know how to pity him, if anybody does, and I know how loss of sleep cripples.  Good-night, dear child.

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  “God bless me and my wife;
  You and your wife,
  Us four
  And no more.”

To Mrs. Leonard, Dorset, August 3, 1869.

Your last letter endeared you to me more than ever, and I have longed to answer it, but we have been in such a state of confusion that writing has been a task.  The whole house has been painted inside and out since we entered it, and I dare say you know what endless uproar the flitting from room to room to accommodate painters, causes.  We have just been admitted to our parlor, but it is in no order, and the dining-room is still piled with trunks.  But the house is lovely, and we shall feel well repaid for the severe labor it has cost us, when it is done and we can settle down in it.  I write to ask you to send me by express what numbers of Stepping Heavenward you have on hand.  I would not give you the trouble to do this if I could get them in any other way, but I can not, as all back numbers are gone, and the copy I have has been borrowed and worn, so as to be illegible in many places.  Randolph is to publish the work and says he wants it soon.  I am constantly receiving testimonies as to its usefulness, and hope it will do good to many who have not seen it in the Advance.

How I do long to see you!  I think of you many times every day, and thank God that He enables you to glorify Him in bearing your great sorrow.  Sometimes I feel as if I must see Mr. L.’s kind face once more, but I remind myself that by patiently waiting a little while, I shall see it and the faces of all the sainted ones who have gone before.  Next to faith in God comes patience; I see that more and more, and few possess enough of either to enable them to meet the day of bereavement without dismay.  We are constantly getting letters from afflicted souls that can not see one ray of light, and keep reiterating, “I am not reconciled.”  How fearful it must be to kick thus against the pricks, already sharp enough!  I believe fully with you that there is no happiness on earth, as there is none in heaven, to be compared with that of losing all things to possess Christ.  I look back to two points in my life as standing out from all the rest of it as seasons of peculiar joy, and they are the points where I was crushed under the weight of sorrow.  How wonderful this is, how incomprehensible to those who have not learned Christ!  Do write me oftener; you are very dear to me, and your letters always welcome.  I love you for magnifying the Lord in the midst of your distress; you could not get so into my heart in any other way.

To Mrs. Smith, Dorset, August 8, 1869.

Half of your chickens are safely here, well and bright, and settled I hope, for the summer.  A., and M., who seems as joyous as a lark, are like Siamese twins, with the advantage of untying at night and sleeping in different beds.  I have not been well, and did not go to church to-day; but Prof.  Robinson of Rochester, N. Y., preached a very superior sermon, George says.  They have gone to our woods together.  We took tea a few nights ago at the Pratts, being invited to meet him and Mrs. R. They asked many questions about you and your husband.  We find the Pratts charming neighbors in their way, modest, kind, and good.  They take the Advance, read Katy, and like it.

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Aug. 21st—­As we have only had sixteen in our family of late, I have not had much to do.  Yesterday we made up a party to the quarry and had just got seated, twenty-nine in all, to eat a very nice dinner, when it began to rain in floods.  Each grabbed his plate, if he could, and rushed to a blacksmith’s shop not far off; twenty or thirty workmen rushed there too, and there we were, cooped up in the dirt, to finish our meal as we best could.  It soon stopped pouring and we had a delightful drive home.  Mr. B. F. B., with two of his boys, was with us.  He is charmed with our house and its views.  Katy has made her last appearance in the Advance, but I keep getting letters about her from all quarters, and the editors say they have had hundreds. [4] H. has caught up with Hal and they are exactly of a height, and I feel as if I had a dear little pair of twins.  Last Sunday evening the three boys laid their heads in my lap together, all alike content.

* * * * *


Return to Town.  Domestic Changes.  Letters.  “My Heart sides with God in everything.”  Visiting among the Poor.  “Conflict isn’t Sin.”  Publication of Stepping Heavenward.  Her Misgivings about it.  How it was received.  Reminiscences by Miss Eliza A. Warner.  Letters.  The Rev. Wheelock Craig.

Early in October she returned to town and began to make ready for the departure of her eldest daughter to Europe, where she was to pass the next year with the family of Prof.  Smith.  The younger children had thus far been taught by their sister, and her leaving home was fraught with no little trial both to them and to the mother.

To Mrs. Smith, New York, October 12.

I can fully sympathise with the sad toss you are in about staying abroad another year, but we feel that there is no doubt you have decided wisely and well.  But the bare mention of your settling down at Vevay has driven us all wild.  What hallucination could you have been laboring under?  Why, your husband would go off the handle in a week!  To be sure it is beautiful for situation as Mount Zion itself, but one can’t live on beauty; one must have life and action, and stimulus; in other words, human beings.  They’re all horrid (except you), but we can’t do without ’em.  What I went through at lonely Genevrier!

  “Oh Solitude, where are the charms
  That sages have seen in thy face!”

We took it for granted that you would settle in some German city, near old friends; it is true, they mayn’t be all you want, but anything is better than nothing, and you would stagnate and moulder all away at Vevay.  What is there there?  Why, a lake and some mountains, and you can’t spend a year staring at them.  Well, I dare say light will be let in upon you.  I hope A. will behave herself; you must rule it over her with a rod of iron (as if you could!), and make

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her stand round.  Her going plunges us into a new world of care and anxiety and tribulation; we have thrust our children out into, or on to, the great ocean, and are about ready to sink with them.  If I could sit down and cry, it would do me lots of good, but I can’t.  Then how am I to spare my twin-boy, and my A. and my M.?  Who is to keep me well snubbed?  Who is to tell me what to wear?  Who is to keep Darby and Joan from settling down into two fearful old pokes?

Your husband suggests that “if I have a husband, etc.”  I have had one with a vengeance.  He has worked like seventeen mad dogs all summer, and I have hardly laid eyes on him.  When I have, it has been to fight with him; he would come in with a hoe or a rake or a spade in his hand, and find me with a broom, a shovel, or a pair of tongs in mine, and without a word we would pitch in and have an encounter.  Of all the aggravating creatures, hasn’t he been aggravating!  Sometimes I thought he had run raving distracted, and sometimes I dare say, he thought I had gone melancholy mad.  He persists to this day that the work did him good, and that he enjoyed his summer.  Well, maybe he did; I suppose he knows.

How glad I am for you that you are to have the children go to you.  It seems to be exactly the right thing.  I hope to get a copy of Katy to send by the girls, but can’t think of anything else.  As A. is to be where you are, you will probably be kept well posted in the doings of our family.  I do hope she will not be a great addition to your cares, but have some misgivings as to the effect so long absence from home may have upon her.  What a world this is for shiftings and siftings!

To G. S. P. October, 1869.

I always thought George McDonald a little audacious, though I like him in the main.  There is a fallacy in this cavil, you may depend.  Some years ago, when I was a little befogged by plausible talk, Dr. Skinner came to our house, got into one of his best moods, and preached a regular sermon on the glory of God, that set me all right again.  I am not skilled in argument, but my heart sides with God in everything, and my conception of His character is such a beautiful one that I feel that He can not err.  I do not like the expression, “He’s aye thinking about his own glory” (I quote from memory); it belittles the real fact, and almost puts the Supreme Being on a level with us poor mortals.  The more time we spend upon our knees, in real communion with God, the better we shall comprehend His wonderful nature, and how impossible it is to submit that nature to the rules by which we judge human beings.  Every turn in life brings me back to this—­more prayer....  I shall go with much pleasure to see Mrs. G. and may God give me some good word to say to her.  I almost envy you your sphere of usefulness, but unless I give up mine, can not get fully into it.  I want you to know that next to being with my Saviour, I love to be with His sufferers;

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so that you can be sure to remember me, when you have any on your heart....  P. S. I have hunted up Mrs. G. and had such an interesting talk with her that she has hardly been out of my mind since.  It is a very unusual case, and the fact that her husband is a Jew, and loves her with such real romance, is an obstacle in her way to Christ.  When you can get a little spare time I wish you would run in and let us talk her case over.  I’m ever so glad that I’m growing old every day, and so becoming better fitted to be the dear and loving friend to young people I want to be.

I wish we both loved our Saviour better, and could do more for Him.  The days in which I do nothing specifically for Him seem such meagre, such lost days.  You seemed to think, the last time I saw you, that you were not so near Him as you were last year.  I think we can’t always know our own state.  It does not follow that a season of severe conflict is a sign of estrangement from God.  Perhaps we are never dearer to Him than when we hate ourselves most, and fancy ourselves intolerable in His sight. Conflict isn’t sin.

To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, October 11, 1869.

I hear with great concern that Miss Lyman’s health is so much worse, that she is about to leave Vassar.  Is this true?  I can not say I should be very sorry if I should hear she was going to be called up higher.  It seems such a blessed thing to finish up one’s work when the Master says we may, and going to be with Him.  I can fully sympathise with the feeling that made Mrs. Graham say, as she closed her daughter’s eyes, “I wish you joy, my darling!” But I should want to see her before she went; that would be next best to seeing her after she got back.  If you meet with a dear little book called “The Melody of the 23d Psalm,” do read it; it is by Miss Anna Warner, and shows great knowledge of, and love for, the Bible.  In a few weeks I shall be able to send you a copy of Stepping Heavenward.

We have been home rather more than a week and the house is all upside down, outwardly and inwardly.  For A. sails for Europe on the 21st with M. and Hal Smith, to be gone a year, and this involves sending the other children to school, and various trying changes of the sort.  Tossing my long sheltered lambs into the world has cost me inexpressible pain; only a mother can understand how much and why; and they, on their part, go into it shrinking and quivering in every nerve.  To their father, as well as to me, this has been a time of sore trial, and we are doing our best to keep each other up amid the discouragements and temptations that confront us.  For each new phase of life brings more or less of both.

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Stepping Heavenward was published toward the end of October, having appeared already as a serial in the Chicago Advance.  The first number of the serial was printed February 4, 1869.  The work was planned and the larger part of it composed during the winter and spring of 1867-8.  Referring more especially to this part of it, she once said to a friend:  “Every word of that book was a prayer, and seemed to come of itself.  I never knew how it was written, for my heart and hands were full of something else.”  By “something else” she had in mind the care of little Francis.  The ensuing summer the manuscript was taken with her to Dorset, carefully revised and finished before her return to the city.  In revising it she had the advantage of suggestions made by her friends, Miss Warner and Miss Lyman, both of them Christian ladies of the best culture and of rare good sense.

Notwithstanding the favor with which the work had been received as issued in The Advance, Mrs. Prentiss had great misgiving about its success—­a misgiving that had haunted her while engaged in writing it.  But all doubt on the subject was soon dispelled: 

The response to “Stepping Heavenward” was instant and general.  Others of her books were enjoyed, praised, laughed over, but this one was taken by tired hands into secret places, pored over by eyes dim with tears, and its lessons prayed out at many a Jabbok.  It was one of those books which sorrowing, Mary-like women read to each other, and which lured many a bustling Martha from the fretting of her care-cumbered life to ponder the new lesson of rest in toil.  It was one of those books of which people kept a lending copy, that they might enjoy the uninterrupted companionship of their own.  The circulation of the book was very large.  Not to speak of the thousands which were sold here, it went through numerous editions in England.  From England it passed into Australia.  It fell into the family of an afflicted Swiss pastor, and the comfort which it brought to that stricken household led to its translation into French by one of the pastor’s daughters.  It passed through I know not how many editions in French. [5] In Germany it came into the hands of an invalid lady who begged the privilege of translating it.  The first word of a favorite German hymn,

  “Heavenward doth our journey tend;
  We are strangers here on earth,”

furnished the title for the German translation—­“Himmelan.”  It appeared just after the French war, and went as a comforter into scores of the homes which war had desolated, and frequent testimony came back to her of the deep interest excited by the book, and of the affectionate gratitude called out toward the author.  She seemed to have inspired her translator, whose letters to her breathe the warmest affection and the most enthusiastic admiration.  It would be easy to fill up the time that remains with grateful testimonies to the work of this book.  From among a multitude

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I select only one:  A manufacturer in a New England town, a stranger, wrote to her expressing his high appreciation of the book, and saying that he had four thousand persons in his employ, and a circulating library of six thousand volumes for their use, in which were two copies of “Stepping Heavenward.”  He adds, “I hear in every direction of the good it is doing, and a wealthy friend has written to me saying that she means to put a copy into the hand of every bride of her acquaintance.” [6]

Several chapters might be filled with letters received by Mrs. Prentiss, expressing the gratitude of the writers for the spiritual help and comfort Stepping Heavenward had given them.  These letters came from all parts of this country, from Europe, and even from the ends of the earth; and they were written by persons belonging to every class in society.  Among them was one, written on coarse brown grocery paper, from a poor crippled boy in the interior of Pennsylvania, which she especially prized.  It led to a friendly correspondence that continued for several years.  The book was read with equal delight by persons not only of all classes, but of all creeds also; by Calvinists, Arminians, High Churchmen, Evangelicals, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics. [7] It was, however, wholly unnoticed by most of the organs of literary opinion in this country; although abroad it attracted at once the attention of men and women well known in the world of letters, and was praised by them in the highest terms. [8]

Miss Eliza A. Warner, in the following Reminiscences, gives some interesting incidents in reference to Stepping Heavenward.

That summer in Dorset—­the summer of 1868—­is one full of bright and pleasant memories which it is delightful to recall.  I had heard much of Mrs. Prentiss from mutual friends, and been exceedingly interested in her books, so that when I found we were to be fellow-boarders for the summer I was greatly pleased; yet I felt a little shy at meeting one of whose superiority in many lines I had heard so much.

How well I remember that bright morning in July on which we first met on our way to the breakfast-table!  I can hear now the frank, cheery voice with which she greeted me, and see her large dark eyes, so full of animation and kindly interest, which a moment after sparkled with fun as she recalled an old joke familiar to my friends, and, it seemed, to her also.  I was put at my ease at once, and from that moment onward felt the wonderful fascination of a manner so peculiarly her own; it was a frank, whole-souled, sincere manner, with a certain indescribable piquancy and sprightliness blending with the earnestness which made her very individual and very charming.

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For the next two months we were a good deal together.  I think it was a very happy summer to her.  You were building the house in Dorset for a summer home, and the planning for this and watching its progress was a pleasant occupation.  And she was such an enthusiastic lover of nature that the out-of-door life she led was a constant enjoyment.  She would spend hours rambling in the woods, collecting ferns, mosses, trailing vines, and every lovely bit of blossom and greenery that met her eye—­and nothing pretty escaped it—­and there was always an added freshness and brightness in her face when she came home laden with these treasures, and eager to exhibit them.  “Oh, you don’t go crazy over such things as I do,” she would say as she held them up for our admiration.  She filled her room with these woodland beauties, and pressed quantities of them to carry to her city home.

In that beautiful valley among the Green Mountains, some of whose near summits rise to the height of three thousand feet, her enthusiasm for fine scenery had full scope.  She would watch with delight the sunset glow as it spread and deepened along those mountain peaks, suffusing them with a glory which we likened to that of the New Jerusalem; and as we sat and watched this glory slowly fade, tint by tint, into the gray twilight, her talk would be of heaven and holiness and Christ.

Whatever she felt, she felt intensely, and she threw her whole heart and soul into all she said or did; this was one great secret of the power of her personal presence; she felt so keenly herself, she made others feel.

Those summer days were long and bright and beautiful, but none too long for her.  She was one of the most industrious persons I have ever known, and her writing, reading and sewing, and the care of her children, over the formation of whose characters she watched closely and wisely, occupied every moment of her time, except when she was out of doors, trying by exercise in the open air to secure a good night’s sleep; not an easy thing for her to do in those days.

Early in August we were joined by Miss Hannah Lyman, of Vassar College, a mutual friend and a most delightful addition to our little party.

We knew Mrs. Prentiss spent a part of every day in writing, but she said nothing of the nature of her work.  Do you remember coming into the parlor one morning, where Miss Lyman and I were sitting by ourselves, and telling us that she was writing a story, but had become so discouraged she threatened to throw it aside as not worth finishing?  “I like it myself,” you added, “it really seems to me one of the best things she has ever written, and I am trying to get her to read it to you and see what you think of it.”

Of course, both Miss Lyman and myself were eager to hear it, and promised to tell her frankly how we liked it.  The next morning she came to our room with a little green box in her hand, saying, with her merry laugh, “Now you’ve got to do penance for your sins, you two wicked women!” and, sitting down by the window, while we took our sewing, she began to read us in manuscript the work which was destined to touch and strengthen so many hearts—­“which,” to use the words of another, “has become a part of the soul-history of many thousands of Christian women—­young and old—­at home and abroad.”

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It was a rare treat to listen to it, with comments from her interspersed; some of them droll and witty, others full of profound religious feeling.  Now and then, as we queried if something was not improbable or unnatural, she would give us bits of history from her own experience or that of her friends, going to show that stranger things had occurred in real life.  I need not say we insisted on its being finished, feeling sure it would do great good; though I must confess that I do not think either of us, much as we enjoyed it, was fully aware of its great merits.

I was much impressed by her singleness of purpose; her one great desire so evidently being that her writings should help others to know and to love Christ and His truth, that she thought little or nothing of her own reputation.

She went on with her work, occasionally reading to us what she had added.  In those days she always spoke of it as her “Katy book,” no other title having been given to it.  But one morning she came to the breakfast-table with her face all lighted up.  “I’ve got a name for my book,” she exclaimed; “it came to me while I was lying awake last night.  You know Wordsworth’s Stepping Westward?  I am going to call it Stepping Heavenward—­don’t you like it?  I do.”  We all felt it was exactly the right name, and she added, “I think I will put in Wordsworth’s poem as a preface.”

Of the heart-communings on sacred things that made that summer so memorable to me I can not speak; and yet, more than anything else, these gave a distinctive character to our intercourse.  Her faith and love were so ardent and persuading, so much a part of herself, that no one could be with her without recognising their power over her life.  She was interested in everything about her, without a particle of cant, full of playful humor and bright fancies; but the love of Christ was the absorbing interest of her life—­almost a passion, it might be called, so fervent and rapturous was her devotion to Him, so great her longing for communion with Him and for a more complete conformity to His perfect will.

As I have said, all her emotions were intense and her religious affections had the same warmth and glow.  Believing in Christ was to her not so much a duty as the deepest joy of her life, heightening all other joys, and she was not satisfied until her friends shared with her in this experience.  She believed it to be attainable by all, founded on a complete submitting of the human to the Divine will in all things, great and small.

Truly of her it might be said, if of any human being, “she hath loved much.”

To Mrs. Smith, New York, Nov. 16, 1869.

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Your arrangements at Heidelberg seem to me to be as delightful as anything can be in a world where nothing is ideal.  Be sure to let A. bear her full share of the expense, and be a mother to her if you can.  The gayest outside life has an undertone of sadness, and I do not doubt she will have hours of unrest which she will hardly know how to account for.  I am afraid Heidelberg will be rather narrow bounds for your husband, and hope he may decide to go to Egypt in case his ear gets quite well.  How fortunate that he is near a really good aurist.  I am always nervous about ear-troubles.  Fancy your having to shout your love to him!  In a letter written about two weeks ago, Miss Lyman says, “How am I?  Longing for a corner in which to stop trying to live, and lie down and die,” and adds that she is now too feeble to travel.  I suppose she is liable to break down at any moment, but I do hope she won’t be left to go abroad.  I judge from what you say of Mr. H. that he is slipping off.  I always look at people who are going to heaven with a sort of curiosity and envy; it is next best to seeing one who has just come thence.  Get all the good out of him you can; there is none too much saintliness on earth.  I wonder how you spend your time?  Do, some time, write the history of one day; what you said to that funny cook, and what she said to you; what you thought and what you did; and what you didn’t think and didn’t did.

Friday, 19th.—­Thanksgiving has come and gone beautifully.  It was a perfect day as to weather.  Our congregation joined Dr. Murray’s, and he gave us an excellent sermon.  The four Stearnses came in to dinner and seemed to enjoy it.  I suppose you all celebrated the day in Yankee fashion and got up those abominations—­mince pies.  When I told L. about ——­’s fourth marriage, he said it reminded him of a place he had seen, where a man lay buried in the midst of a lot of women, the sole inscription on his gravestone being “Our Husband.”  Mrs. ——­ says the tiffs between my Katy and her husband are exactly like those she had with hers, and Mrs. ——­ said very much the same thing—­after hearing which, I gave up.

Tell A. I had a call yesterday from Mrs. S——­, who came to town to spend Thanksgiving at her father’s, and fell upon my neck and ate me up three several times.  I tell you what it is, it’s nice to have people love you, whether you deserve it or not, and this warm-hearted, enthusiastic creature really did me good.  Dr. Skinner sent us an extraordinary book to read called “God’s Furnace.”  There is a good deal of egotism in it and self-consciousness, and a good deal of genuine Christian experience.  I read it through four times, and, when I carried it back and was discussing it with him, he said he had too.  It seems almost incredible that a wholly sanctified character could publish such a book, made up as it is of the author’s own letters and journal and most sacred joys and sorrows; but perhaps when I get sanctified I shall go to printing mine—­it really seems to be a way they have.  The Hitchcocks sailed yesterday, and it must have cheered them to set forth on so very fine a day.  Give my love to everybody straight through from Hal up to your husband and Mr. H.

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Later.—­Of course, my letters to A. are virtually to you, too, as far as you can be interested in the little details of which they are made up.  Randolph showed George a letter about Katy, which he says beats anything we have heard yet, which is saying a good deal.  One lady said Earnest was exactly like her husband, another that he was painfully so; indeed, many sore hearts are making such confessions.  So I begin to think there is even more sorrowfulness and unrest in the world than I thought there was.  You would get sick unto death of the book if I should tell a quarter of what we hear about it, good and bad.  It quite refreshed me to hear that a young lady wanted to punch me.

Craig’s Life is very touching.  His delight in Christ and in close fellowship with Him is beautiful; but it is painful to see that dying man wandering about Europe alone, when he ought to have been breathing out his life in the arms he loved so well.  How did poor Mrs. C. live through the week of suspense that followed the telegram announcing his illness? for one must love such a man very deeply, I think.  Well, he doesn’t care now where he died or when, and he has gone where he belonged.  I miss you all ever so much, and George keeps up one constant howl for your husband.  It is a mystery to me what any of you find in my letters, they do seem so flat to me.  What fun it would be if you would all write me a round letter!  I would write a rouser for it.  Lots of love.

The Rev. Wheelock Craig, whose Life is referred to by Mrs. Prentiss in the preceding letter, was her husband’s successor in the pastorate of the South Trinitarian church, New Bedford. [9]

* * * * *


Recollections by Mrs. Henry B. Smith.

The following Recollections from the pen of Mrs. Smith may fitly close the present chapter: 

NORTHAMPTON, January 2, 1879.

MY DEAR DR. PRENTISS:—­I have been trying this beautiful snowy day, which shuts us in to our own thoughts, to recall some of my impressions of your dear wife, but I find it very difficult; there was such variety to her, and so much of her, and the things which were most characteristic are so hard to be described.

I read “Stepping Heavenward” in MS. before we went to Europe in 1869.  I remember she used to say that I was “Katy’s Aunt,” because we talked her over with so much interest.  She sent me a copy to Heidelberg, where I began at once translating it into German as my regular exercise.  I was delighted to give my copy to Mrs. Prof.  K. in Leipsic, as the American story which I was willing to have her translate into German, as she had asked for one.  There is no need of telling you about the enthusiasm which the book created.  Women everywhere said, “It seems to be myself that I am reading about”; and the feeling that they, too, with all their imperfections, might be

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really stepping heavenward, was one great secret of its inspiration.  One little incident may interest you.  My niece, Mrs. Prof.  Emerson, was driving alone toward Amherst, and took into her carriage a poor colored woman who was walking the same way.  The woman soon said, “I have been thinking a good deal of you, Mrs. E., and of your little children, and I have been reading a book which I thought you would like.  It was something about walking towards heaven.”  “Was it ’Stepping Heavenward’?” “Yes, that was it.”

How naturally, modestly, almost indifferently, she received the tributes which poured in upon her!  Yet, though she cared little for praise, she cared much for love, and for the consciousness that she was a helper and comforter to others.

On reading the book again this last summer, I was struck by seeing how true a transcript of herself, in more than one respect, was given in Katy.  “Why can not I make a jacket for my baby without throwing into it the ardor of a soldier going into battle?” How ardently she threw herself into everything she did!  In friendship and love and religion this outpouring of herself was most striking.

Her earlier books she always read or submitted to me in manuscript, and she showed so little self-interest in them, and I so much, that they seemed a sort of common property.  I think that I had quite as much pleasure in their success and far more pride, than herself.  The Susy books I always considered quite as superior in their way as Stepping Heavenward.  They are still peerless among books for little children.  “Henry and Bessie,” too, contains some of the most beautiful religious teaching ever written.  “Fred and Maria and Me” she used to talk about almost as if I had written it, for no other reason than that I liked it so much.

My sister says that her daughter Nettie read “Little Susy” through twelve times, getting up to read it before breakfast.  She printed (before she could write) a little letter of thanks to your wife, who sent her the following pretty note in reply:  NEW YORK, January 10, 1854.

MY DEAR “NETTIE":—­What a nice little letter you wrote me!  It pleased me very much.  I shall keep it in my desk, and when I am an old woman, I shall buy a pair of spectacles, and sit down in the chimney-corner, and read it.  When you learn to write with your own little fingers, I hope you will write me another letter.

Your friend, with love, AUNT SUSAN.

She did nothing for effect, and made little or no effort merely to please; she was almost too careless of the impression which she made upon others, and, on this account, strangers sometimes thought her cold and unsympathetic.  But touch her at the right point and the right moment, and there was no measure to her interest and warmth.  She hated all pretense and display, and the slightest symptom of them in others shut her up and kept her grave and silent, and this, not from a severe or Pharisaic spirit, but because

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the atmosphere was so foreign to her that she could not live in it.  “I pity people that have any sham about them when I am by,” she said one day.  “I am dreadfully afraid of young ladies,” she said at another time.  She could not adapt herself to the artificial and conventional.  Yet with young ladies who loved what she loved she was peculiarly free and playful and forth-giving, and such were among her dearest and most lovingly admiring friends.

When we met, there were no preliminaries; she plunged at once into the subject which was interesting her, the book, the person, the case of sickness or trouble, the plan, the last shopping, the game, the garment, the new preparation for the table—­in a way peculiarly her own.  One could never be with her many minutes without hearing some bright fancy, some quick stroke of repartee, some ludicrous way of putting a thing.  But whether she told of the grumbler who could find nothing to complain of in heaven except that “his halo didn’t fit,” or said in her quick way, when the plainness of a lady’s dress was commended, “Why, I didn’t suppose that anybody could go to heaven now-a-days without an overskirt,” or wrote her sparkling impromptu rhymes for our children’s games, her mirth was all in harmony with her earnest life.  Her quick perceptions, her droll comparisons, her readiness of expression, united with her rare and tender sympathies, made her the most fascinating of companions to both young and old.  Our little Saturday tear, with our children, while our husbands were at Chi Alpha, were rare times.  My children enjoyed “Aunt Lizzy” almost as much as I did.  She was usually in her best mood at these times.  When you and Henry came in, on your return from Chi Alpha, you looked in upon, or, rather, you completed a happier circle than this impoverished earth can ever show us again.

Her acquisitions were so rapid, and she made so little show of them, that one might have doubted their thoroughness, who had no occasion to test them.  Her beautiful translation of Griselda was a surprise to many.  I remember her eager enthusiasm while translating it.  The writing of her books was almost an inspiration, so rapid, without copying, almost without alteration, running on in her clear, pure style, with here and there a radiant sparkle above the full depths.

It sometimes seemed as if she were interested only in those whom she knew she could benefit.  If so, it was from her ever-present consciousness of a consecrated life.  She constantly sought for ways of showing her love to Christ, especially to His sick and suffering and sorrowing ones.  Life with her was peculiarly intense and earnest; she looked upon it more as a discipline and a hard path, and yet no one had a quicker or more admiring eye for the flowers by the wayside.  I always thought that her great forte was the study of character.  She laid bare and dissected everybody, even her nearest friends and herself, to find what was in them; and what she found, reproduced in her books, was what gave them their peculiar charm of reality.  The growth of the religious life in the heart was the one most interesting subject to her.

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I never could fully understand the deep sadness which was the groundwork of her nature.  It certainly did not prevent the most intense enjoyment of her rich temporal and spiritual blessings, while it indicated depths which her friends did not fathom.  It was partly constitutional, doubtless, and partly, I suppose, from her keener sensitiveness, her larger grasp, her stronger convictions, her more vivid vision, and more ardent desires.  Even the glowing, almost seraphic love of Christ which was the chief characteristic of her later life was, in her words, “but longing and seeking.”  She was an exile yearning for her home, “stepping heavenward,” and knowing better than the rest of us what it meant.

These things come to me now, and yet how much I have omitted—­her industry so varied and untiring, her generosity (so many gifts of former days are around me now), her interest in my children, her delight in flowers and colors and all beautiful things, her ready sympathy—­but it is an almost inexhaustible subject.  She comes vividly before me now, seated on the floor in her room, with her work around her, making something for such and such a person.  What the void in your life must be those who knew most of her manifold, exalted, inspiring life can but imagine.

  “Nay, Hope may whisper with the dead
  By bending forward where they are;
  But Memory, with a backward tread,
  Communes with them afar!

  “The joys we lose are but forecast,
  And we shall find them all once more;
  We look behind us for the past,
  But, lo! ’tis all before!”

[1] See Memoir of S. S. Prentiss, edited by his Brother, and published by Charles Scribner’s Sons.  New Edition. 1879.

[2] The following is part of the notice in the London Daily News: 

“We are, unfortunately, ignorant of Little Susy’s Six Birthdays, but if that book be anything like as good as the charming volume before us by the same author, ycleped Little Lou’s Sayings and Doings, it deserves an extraordinary popularity.... Little Lou. is one of the most natural stories in the world, and reads more like a mother’s record of her child’s sayings and doings than like a fictitious narrative.  Little Lou, be it remarked, is a true baby throughout, instead of being a precocious little prig, as so many good children are in print.  The child’s love for his mother and his mother’s love for him is described in the prettiest way possible.”

[3] Now Professor of Theology at Bangor.

[4] The following is an extract from a letter of one of the editors of The Advance, Mr. J. B. T. Marsh, dated Chicago, August 10,1869:—­“You will notice that the story is completed this week; I wish it could have continued six months longer.  I have several times been on the point of writing you to express my own personal satisfaction—­and more than satisfaction—­in reading it, and to acquaint you with the great unanimity and volume

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of praise of it, which has reached us from our readers.  I do not think anything since the National Era and ’Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ times has been more heartily received by newspaper readers.  I am sure it will have a great sale if rightly brought before the public.  A publisher from London was in our office the other day, signifying a desire to make some arrangement to bring it out there.  I have heard almost no unfavorable criticism of the story—­nothing which you could make serviceable in its revision.  I have heard Dr. P. criticise Ernest—­of course the character and not your portrayal.  For myself I consider the character a natural and consistent one.  Perhaps few men are found who are quite so blind to a wife’s wants and yet so devoted, but—­I don’t know what the wives might say.  We have had hundreds of letters of which the expression has been, ’We quarrel to see who shall have the first reading of the story.’  I congratulate you most heartily upon its great success and the great good it has done and will yet do.  I think if you should ever come West my wife would overturn almost any stone for the sake of welcoming you to the hospitality of our cottage on the Lake Michigan shore.”

[5] Marchant vers le Ciel is the title of the French translation.

[6] Memorial discourse by the Rev. Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.

[7] The following is an extract from a letter, dated New Orleans, and written after Mrs. Prentiss’ death: 

“We called one day to see a poor dressmaker who was dying of consumption.  She was an educated woman, a devout Roman Catholic, and a person whom we had long respected and esteemed for her integrity, her love of independence, and her extraordinary powers of endurance.  Her husband, a prosperous merchant, had died suddenly, and his affairs being mismanaged, she was obliged, although a constant invalid, to earn a support for many years by the most unremitting labor.  We found her reading; ‘Stepping Heavenward,’ which she spoke of in the warmest terms.  We told her about the authoress, of her suffering from ill-health, and of her recent death.  She listened eagerly and asked questions which showed the deepest interest in the subject.  Soon after she left the city, and a few weeks later we heard of her death.”

[8] One of them—­said to have been an eminent German theologian—­used this strong language respecting it:  “Schon manche gute, edle, segensreiche Gabe ist uns aus Nordamerika gekommen, aber wir stehen nicht au, diese als die beste zu bezeichnen unter allen, die uns von dort zu Gesichte gekommen.”

[9] See A Memorial of the Character, Work, and Closing Days of Rev. Wheelock Craig, New Bedford.

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Mr. Craig was born in Augusta, Maine, July 11, 1824.  He entered Bowdoin College in 1839, and was graduated with honor in the class of 1843.  He then entered the Theological Seminary at Bangor, where he graduated in 1847.  After preaching a couple of years at New Castle, Me., he accepted a call to New Bedford, and was installed there December 4, 1850.  In 1859 he received a call to the chair of Modern Languages in Bowdoin College, which he declined.  After an earnest and faithful ministry of more than seventeen years, he went abroad for his health in May, 1868.  He visited Ireland, England, Scotland, and then passing over to the Continent, travelled through Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and so southward as far as Naples, where he arrived the last of September.  Here he was taken seriously ill, and advised to hasten back to Switzerland.  In great weakness he passed through Rome, Florence, Turin, Geneva, and reached Neuchatel on the 4th of November in a state of utter exhaustion.  There, encompassed by newly-made friends and tenderly cared for, he gently breathed his last on the 28th of November.  Two names, in particular, deserve to be gratefully mentioned in connection with Mr. Craig’s last hours, viz.:  that of his countryman, Mr. W. C. Cabot, and that of the Rev. Dr. Godet, of Neuchatel.  Of the former he said the day before his death:  “He saw me coming from Geneva a perfect stranger—­lying sick, helpless, wretched, and miserable in the ears—­and spoke to me, inquired who I was, and took care of me.  Anybody else would have gone by on the other side.  He brought me to this hotel, and remained with me, and did everything for me; and, fearing that I might be ill some time, and uneasy about money matters, he sent me a letter of credit for two hundred pounds.  Such noble and generous conduct to an entire stranger was never heard of.”  To Dr. Godet he had a letter from Prof.  Henry B. Smith, of New York.  But he needed no other introduction to that warm-hearted and eminent servant of God than his sad condition and his love to Christ.  “From the first quarter of an hour,” wrote Dr. Godet to Mrs. Craig, “we were like two brothers who had known each other from infancy.  He knew not a great deal of French, and I not more of English; but the Lord was between him and me.”  “Prof.  Godet and family are like the very angels of God,” wrote Mr. Craig to his wife.  His last days were filled with inexpressible joy in his God and Saviour.  Shortly before his departure he said to Dr. Godet and the other friends who were by his bedside, “There shall be no night there, but the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall be their light.

Mr. Craig had a highly poetical nature, refined spiritual sensibilities, and a soul glowing with love to his Master.  He was also a vigorous and original thinker.  Some passages in his letters and journal are as racy and striking as anything in John Newton or Cecil.  Mrs. Prentiss greatly enjoyed reading them to her friends.  Some of them she copied and had published in the Association Monthly.

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A happy Year.  Madame Guyon.  What sweetens the Cup of earthly Trials and the Cup of earthly Joy.  Death of Mrs. Julia B. Cady.  Her Usefulness.  Sickness and Death of other Friends.  “My Cup runneth over.”  Letters.  “More Love to Thee, O Christ.”

In every earnest life there usually comes a time when it reaches its highest point, whether of power or of enjoyment; a time when it is in

  —­the bright, consumate flower.

The year 1870 formed such a period in the life of Mrs. Prentiss.  None that went before, or that followed after, equalled it, as a whole, in rich, varied and happy experiences.  It was full of the genial, loving spirit which inspired the Little Susy books and Stepping Heavenward; full, too, of the playful humor which runs through Fred and Maria and Me; and full, also, of the intense, overflowing delight in her God and Saviour that breathes in the Golden Hours.  From its opening to its close she was—­to borrow an expression from her Richmond journal—­“one great long sunbeam.”  Everywhere, in her home, with her friends, by sick and dying beds, in the house of mourning, in the crowded street or among her flowers at Dorset, she seemed to be attired with constant brightness.  Of course, there were not wanting hours of sadness and heart-sinking; nor was her consciousness of sin or her longing to be freed from it, perhaps, ever keener and more profound; but still the main current of her existence flowed on, untroubled, to the music of its own loving, grateful and adoring thoughts.  Often she would say that God was too good to her; that she was satisfied and had nothing more to ask of life; her cup of domestic bliss ran over; and as to her religious joy, it was at times too much for her frail body, and she begged that it might be transferred to other souls.  Her letters give a vivid picture of her state of mind during this memorable year; and yet only a picture.  The sweet reality was beyond the power of words.

In the early part of this year the correspondence of Madame Guyon and Fenelon fell into her hands, and was eagerly read by her.  The perusal of this correspondence led, somewhat later, to a careful study of the Select Works, Autobiography, and Spiritual Letters of Madame Guyon, thus forming an important incident in her religious history.  Heretofore she had known Madame Guyon chiefly through the Life by Prof.  Upham and the little treatise entitled A Short and very Easy Method of Prayer; and both seem rather to have repelled her.  In 1867 she wrote to a friend: 

There is a book I would be glad to have you read, and which I think you would wish to own; ‘Thoughts on Personal Religion,’ by Goulburn.  I never read a modern religious book that had in it so much, that really edified me.  I take for granted you have Thomas a Kempis; on that and on Fenelon I have feasted for years every day; I like strengthening food and whatever deals a blow at this monster Self.  Madame Guyon I do not understand.

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But now she began to feel, as so many earnest seekers after holiness had felt before her, the strong attraction of this remarkable woman.  While never becoming to her what Fenelon was, Madame Guyon for several years exerted a decided influence upon her views of the Christian life; nor is there reason to think that this influence was not, on the whole, salutary.  Notwithstanding her grave errors and the extravagances which marred her career, Madame Guyon was no doubt one of the holiest, as she was certainly one of the most gifted, women of her own or any other age. [1]

To Mrs. J Elliot Condict, New York, Jan. 2, 1870.

It has been a real disappointment not to see you.  How quickly we learn to lean on earthly things!  I am afraid I prize Christian fellowship too much, and that I am behaving in a miserly way about all divine gifts, shutting myself up here in this room, which often seems like the gate of heaven, and luxuriating in it, instead of going about preaching the glad tidings to other souls.  Yet work for Christ, when He gives it, is sweet, too, and if answering your note is the little tiny bit He offers me at this moment, how glad I am.  Though I am not, just now, in the furnace as you are, there is no knowing how soon I shall be, and I remember well enough how the furnace feels, to have deep sympathy with you in your trials.  Sympathy, but not regret; I can’t make myself be very sorry for Christ’s disciples when He takes them in hand—­He does it so tenderly, so wisely, so lovingly; and it can hardly be true, can it? that He is just as near and dear to me when my cup is as full of earthly blessings as it can hold, as He is to you whose cup He is emptying?

I have always thought they knew and loved Him best who knew Him in His character of Chastiser; but perhaps one never loses the memory of His revelations of Himself in that form, and perhaps that tender memory saddens and hallows the day of prosperity.  At any rate, you and I seem to be in full sympathy with each other; your empty cup isn’t empty, and my full one would be bitter if love to Christ did not sweeten it.  It matters very little on what paths we are walking, since we find Him in every one.  How ashamed we shall be when we get to heaven, of our talk about our trials here!  Why don’t we sing songs instead?  We know how, for He has put the songs into our mouths.  I think I know something about the land of Beulah, but I don’t quite live in it yet; and yet what is this joy if it isn’t beatitude, if it is not a foretaste of that which is to come?  It isn’t joy in what He has done for me, a sinner, but adoring joy for what He is, though I do not begin to know what He is.  It will take an eternity to learn that lesson.

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Do you really mean to say that Miss K. is going to pray for me?  How delightful!  I am greedy for prayer; nobody is rich enough to give me anything I so long for; indeed when my husband begged me to tell him what I wanted at Christmas, I couldn’t think of a thing; but oh, what unutterable longing I have for more of Christ.  Why should we not speak freely to each other of Him?  Don’t apologise for it again.  The wonder is that we have the heart to speak of anything else.  Sometimes I am almost frightened at the expressions of love I pour out upon Him, and wonder if I am really in earnest; if I really mean all I say.  Is it even so with you?  It is not foolish, is it?  Perhaps He likes to hear our poor stammerings, when we can not get our emotions and our thoughts into words.

To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, Jan. 7, 1870.

I find letters more and more unsatisfactory.  How little I know of your real life, how little you know of mine!  So much is going on all the time that I should run and tell you about if you lived here, but which it would take too long to write.  I have very precious Christian friends within six months, who take, or rather to whom I give, more time than I could or would spare for any ordinary friendship; one of them has spent four hours in my room with me at a time, and we had wonderful communings together.  Then two dear friends have died.  One of the two, of whom you have heard me speak, was the most useful woman in our church; my husband and I both wept over her death.  The other directed in dying that a copy of Stepping Heavenward should be given to each of her Sunday scholars; a lifelong fear of death was taken away, and she declared it pleasanter and easier to die than to live; her last words, five minutes before she drew her last gentle breath, came with the upward, dying look, “Wonderful love!”

You can’t think how sweet it is to be a pastor’s wife; to feel the right to sympathise with those who mourn, to fly to them at once, and join them in their prayers and tears.  It would be pleasant to spend one’s whole time among sufferers, and to keep testifying to them what Christ can and will become to them, if they will only let Him....  No, I never “Dialed” or was transcendental.  I don’t think knowledge will come to us by intuition in heaven, though knowledge enough to get started there, will.  But I don’t much care how it will be.  I know we shall learn Christ there.  I have read lately Prof.  Phelps on the Solitude of Christ; it is a suggestive little book which I like much.  Have you ever read the Life of Mrs. Hawkes?  It is interesting because she records so many of Cecil’s wonderful remarks—­such, e.g., as these:  “a humble, kind silence often utters much.”  “To-morrow you and I shall walk together in a garden, when I hope to talk with you about everything but sadness.”  I am going to ask a favor of you, though I hate to put you to the trouble.  In writing a telegram in great haste and sorrow, I accidentally used and cut into the lines you copied for me—­Sabbath hymn in sickness.  It was a real loss, and if you ever feel a little stronger than usual, will you make me another copy?  I so often want to comfort sick persons with it.

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I have half promised to write a serial for a magazine, the organ of the Young Men’s Christian Association, though I know nothing of young men and hate to write serials.  I wish I could hide in some hole.  I get bright letters from A., who is having a very nice time.  I write her every day; wretched letters, which she thinks delightful, fortunately.  We have a quiet time this winter, but such nice things can’t last, and I am afraid of this world anyhow.  I know you pray for me, as I do for you and Miss L. every day.  I have a thousand things to say that I shall have to put off till I see you.  Good-bye, dearie.

To Mrs. Condict, Sunday, March 6, 1870.

I have had some really sweet days, shut up with my dear little boy.  He is better, and I am comparatively at leisure again, and so happy in meditating on the character of my Saviour, and in the sense of His nearness, that I ache, and have had to beg Him to give me no more, but to carry this joy to you and to Miss K. and to two friends, who, languishing on dying beds, need it so much. [2] If I could shed tears I should not have to tell you this, and indeed it is nothing new; but one must have vent in some way.  And this reminds me to explain to you why to three dear Christian friends I now and then send verses; they are my tears of joy or sorrow, and when I feel most deeply it is a relief to versify, and a pleasure to open my heart to those who feel as I do.  I have been in print ever since I was sixteen years old, and admiration is an old story; I care very little for it; but I do crave and value sympathy with those who love Christ.  And it is such a new thing to open my heart thus!  I have written any number of verses that no human being has ever seen, because they came from the very bottom of my heart.

I wish I could put into words all the blessed thoughts I had last week about God’s dear will:  it was a week of such sweet content with the work He gave me to do; naturally I hate nursing, and losing the air makes me feel unwell; but what can’t God do with us?  I love, dearly, to have a Master.  I fancy that those who have strong wills, are the ones to enjoy God’s sovereignty most.  I wonder if you realise what a very happy creature I am? and how much too good God is to me?  I don’t see how He can heap such mercies on a poor sinner; but that only shows how little I know Him.  But then, I am learning to know Him, and shall go on doing it forever and ever; and so will you.  I am not sure that it is best for us, once safe and secure on the Rock of Ages, to ask ourselves too closely what this and that experience may signify.  Is it not better to be thinking of the Rock, not of the feet that stand upon it?  It seems to me that we ought to be unconscious of ourselves, and that the nearer we get to Christ, the more we shall be taken up with Him.  We shall be like a sick man who, after he gets well, forgets all the old symptoms he used to think so much of, and stops feeling his pulse, and just enjoys his health, only pointing out his physician to all who are diseased.  You will see that this is in answer to a portion of your letter, in which you say Miss K. interprets to you certain experiences.  If I am wrong I am willing to be set right; perhaps I have not said clearly what I meant to say.  I certainly mean no criticism on you or her, but am only thinking aloud and querying.

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To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, March 27, 1870.

You ask if I revel in the Pilgrim’s Progress.  Yes, I do.  I think it an amazing book.  It seems to me almost as much an inspiration as the Bible itself. [3] I am glad you liked that hymn.  I write in verse whenever I am deeply stirred, because, though as full of tears as other people, I can not shed them.  But I never showed any of these verses to any one, not even my husband, till this winter.  But if I were more with you no doubt I should venture to let you run over some of them, at least those my dear husband has seen and likes.  I have felt about hymns just as you say you do, as if I loved them more than the Bible.  But I have got over that; I prayed myself out of it, not loving hymns the less, but the Bible more.  I wonder if you sing; I can’t remember; if you do, I will send you, sometime, a hymn to sing for my sake, called “More love to Thee, O Christ.”  Only to think, our silver wedding comes next month, and A. and the Smiths away!

I have been interrupted by callers, and must have been in the parlor several hours.  You can’t think what a sweet, peaceful winter this has been, nor how good the children are.  My cup has just run over, and at times I am too happy to be comfortable, if you know what that means; not having a strong body, I suppose you do.  Mrs. B. has been in a very critical state of late, but she is rallying, and I may, perhaps, have the privilege of seeing her again.  I have had some precious times with her in her sick-room; last Friday, a week ago, she prayed with me in the sweetest temper of mind, and came with me when I took leave, to the head of the stairs, full of love and smiles.

To a Young Friend, April 5, 1870.

I wish that hymn for the sick-room were mine, but it is not.  I will enclose one that is, which my dear husband has kindly had printed; perhaps you will like to sing it to the tune of “Nearer, my God, to Thee.”  There is not much in it, but you can put everything into it as you make it your prayer.  I can’t help feeling that every soul I meet, of whom I can ask, What think you of Christ? and get the glad answer, “He is the chiefest among ten thousand, the One altogether lovely”—­is a blessing as well as a comfort to mine; and whenever you can and do say it, you will become more dear to me.  Your God and Saviour won you as an easy victory, but He had to fight for me.  It seems to me now that He ought to have all there is of me—­which, to be sure, isn’t much—­and I hope He is taking it.  His ways with me have been perfectly beautiful and infinite in long-suffering and patience.

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April 11th.—­Your note has reawakened a question I have often had occasion to ask myself before.  Why do my friends speak of my letters as giving more pleasure or profit than anything that goes to them from me in print?  Is human nature so selfish?  Must everybody have everything to himself?  It might seem so at first blush, but I think there are two sides to this question.  May it not be possible that God sends a message directly from one heart to another as He does not to the many? Does He not speak through the living voice and the pen that is that voice, as He does not do in the less unconstrained form of print?  At any rate, I love to believe that He directs each word and look and tone; inspires rather, I should say.

I should like you to offer a special prayer for us on Saturday.  That day completes twenty-five years of married life to us, and, though it has its shades as well as its lights, I do not think I can do better for you than ask that you may have such years,

  “For who the backward scene hath scanned
  But blessed the Father’s guiding hand?”

I can more truly thank Him for His chastisements than for His worldly indulgences; the latter urge from, the former drive to Him.  I am saying a great thing in a feeble way, and you may multiply it by ten thousand, and it will still be weak.

The hymn, “More Love to Thee, O Christ,” belongs, probably, as far back as the year 1856.  Like most of her hymns, it is simply a prayer put into the form of verse.  She wrote it so hastily that the last stanza was left incomplete, one line having been added in pencil when it was printed.  She did not show it, not even to her husband, until many years after it was written; and she wondered not a little that, when published, it met with so much favor.

* * * * *


Her Silver Wedding. “I have Lived, I have Loved.”  No Joy can put her out of Sympathy with the Trials of Friends.  A Glance backward.  Last Interview with a dying Friend.  More Love and more Likeness to Christ.  Funeral of a little Baby.  Letters to Christian Friends.

If 1870 was the crowning year in Mrs. Prentiss’ life, the 16th of April was that year’s most precious jewel.  As the time drew nigh, a glow of tender, grateful recollection suffused her countenance.

Her eyes are homes of silent prayer.

She talked of the past, like one lost in wonder, while the light and beauty of the vanished years appeared still to rest upon her spirit.  The day itself, which had been kept from the knowledge of most of her friends, was full of sweet content, rehearsing, as it were, all the days of her married life; and, at its close, the measure of her earthly joy seemed to be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

To Mrs. Leonard, New York, April 16, 1845-1870.

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Do you know that it is just twenty-five years since we first met?  How gladly would I spend the day of our silver wedding with you!  You will see that I am near in spirit, at all events.  My thoughts have been busy the past week with reviewing the years through which I have travelled, hand in hand, with my dear husband; years full of sin, full of suffering, full of joy; brimful of the loving-kindness and tender mercy that smote often and smote surely.  Your last letter only confirms what I already knew, but am never tired of hearing repeated, the faithfulness of God to those whom He afflicts.  When we once find out what He is to an aching, empty heart, we want to make everybody see just what we see, and, until we try in vain, think we can.  I had very peculiar feelings in relation to you when your dear husband was, for a time, parted from you.  I knew God would never afflict you so, if He had not something beautiful and blissful to give in place of what He took.  And what can we ask for that compares for one instant with “the almost constant felt presence of our Saviour’s sympathy and support”?  Our human nature would like to have the earthly and the divine friendship at once; but, if we must choose between the twain, surely you and I would choose Christ without one moment’s hesitation.  I hope you mention my name every day to Him as I do yours, as I love to do.

I enclose, and want you, when by yourself, to sing for my sake a little hymn that I am sure is the language of your heart.  My dear husband had a few copies struck off to give friends.  Write soon and often.  Oh, that you lived here or at Dorset.  Good-bye, with warmest love, now twenty-five years old!

To Mrs. Condict, New York, April 20, 1870.

Last Saturday was the twenty-fifth anniversary of our marriage, and a very happy day to us both.  My dear husband wrote me a letter that made me tremble, lest he should get such hold of me as no human being must have.  I have a very curious feeling about life; a satisfied one, and as if it could not possibly give me much more than I now have. "I have lived, I have loved." [4] People often say they have so much to live for; I can’t feel so, though I am not only willing, but glad to live while my husband and children need me; and yet—­and yet—­to have this problem solved, and to be forever with the Lord!  I want to see you.  I can no longer see my dear Mrs. B.; she is too ill, and that makes me miss you the more.  I hope that little MS. of mine did not task your sympathies; I don’t want you to pity me, but to magnify Him who took such pains with me, and is carrying on just such work in thousands of hearts and lives.  What goodness!  What condescension!  The least we can do who have suffered much is to love much....  I have been studying the Bible on the subject of giving personal testimony, and think it makes this a plain duty.  There is nothing like the influence of one living soul on another.  Then why should we not naturally speak to everybody who will listen, of what fills our thoughts; our Saviour, His beauty, His goodness, His faithfulness, His wisdom!  I don’t believe a full heart can help running over.

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To a young Friend, April 21, 1870.

I was right sorry to lose your Saturday’s call.  It was a happy day to me, but I can conceive of no enjoyment of any sort that would put me out of sympathy with the trials of friends: 

  “Old and young are bringing troubles,
    Great and small, for me to hear;
  I have often blessed by sorrows
    That drew other’s grief so near."

I thought I was saying a very ordinary thing when I spoke of thanking God for His long years of discipline, but very likely life did not look to me at your age as it does now.  I was rather startled the other day, to find it written in German, in my own hand, “I can not say the will is there,” referring to a hymn which says, “Der Will ist da, die Kraft ist klein, Doch wird dir nicht zuwider seyn.”  I suppose there was some great struggle going on when this foolish heart said that, just as if God did not invariably do for us the very best that can be done. [5] You speak of having your love to Jesus intensified by interviews with me.  It can hardly be otherwise, when those meet together who love Him, and it is a rule that works both ways; acts and reacts.  I should be thankful if no human being could ever meet me, even in a chance way, and not go away clasping Him the closer, and if I could meet no one who did not so stir and move me.  It is my constant prayer.  I have such insatiable longings to know and love Him better that I go about hungering and thirsting for the fellowship of those who feel so too; when I meet them I call them my “benedictions.”  Next best to being with Christ Himself, I love to be with those who have His spirit and are yearning for more of His likeness.  You speak of putting “deep and dark chasms between” yourself and Christ.  He lets us do this that we may learn our nothingness, our weakness, and turn, disgusted, from ourselves to Him.  May I venture to assure you that the “chasms” occur less and less frequently as one presses on, till finally they turn into “mountains of light.”  Get and keep a will for God, and everything that will is ready for will come.  This is about a tenth part of what I might say.

To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, April 25, 1870.

I wish I could describe to you my last interview with Mrs. B. She had altered so in two weeks in which I had not seen her, that I should not have known her.  She spoke with difficulty, but by getting close to her mouth I could hear all she said.  She went back to the first time she met me, told me her heart then knitted itself to mine, and how she had loved me ever since, etc., etc.  I then asked her if she had any parting counsel to give me:  “No, not a word."....  Some one came in and wet her lips, gave her a sprig of citronatis, and passed out.  I crushed it and let her smell the bruised leaves, saying, “You are just like these crushed leaves.”  She smiled, and replied, “Well, I haven’t had one pain too many,

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not one.  But the agony has been dreadful.  I won’t talk about that; I just want to see your sunny face.”  I asked if she was rejoicing in the hope of meeting lost friends and the saints in heaven.  She said, with an expressive look, “Oh, no, I haven’t got so far as that.  I have only got as far as Christ.”  “For all that,” I said, “you’ll see my father and mother there.”  “Why, so I shall,” with another bright smile.  But her lips were growing white with pain, and I came away.

Did I tell you it was our silver wedding-day on the 16th?  We had a very happy day, and if I could see you I should like to tell you all about it.  But it is too long a story to tell in writing.  I don’t see but I’ve had everything this life can give, and have a curious feeling as if I had got to a stopping-place.  I heard yesterday that two of M.’s teachers had said they looked at her with perfect awe on account of her goodness.  I really never knew her to do anything wrong.

To a young Friend New York, May 1, 1870.

I could write forever on the subject of Christian charity, but I must say that in the case you refer to, I think you accuse yourself unduly.  We are not to part company with our common sense because we want to clasp hands with the Love that thinketh no evil, and we can not help seeing that there are few, if any, on earth without beams in their eyes and foibles and sins in their lives.  The fact that your friend repented and confessed his sin, entitled him to your forgiving love, but not to the ignoring of the fact that he was guilty....  Temptations come sometimes in swarms, like bees, and running away does no good, and fighting only exasperates them.  The only help must come from Him who understands and can control the whole swarm.

You ask for my prayers, and I ask for yours.  I long ago formed the habit of praying at night individually, if possible, for all who had come to me through the day, or whom I had visited; but you contrive to get a much larger share than that.  I love to think of your future holiness and usefulness as even in the very least linked to my prayers.  Oh, I ought to know how to pray a great deal better than I do, for forty years ago, save one, I this day publicly dedicated myself to Christ.  I write to you because I like to do so, recognising no difference between writing and talking.  When no better work comes to me, I am glad to give the little pleasure I can, in notes and letters.  He who knows how poor we are, how little we have to give, does not disdain even a note like this, since it is written in love to Him and to one of His own dear ones.

May 23d.—­Your last letter was like a fragrant breath of country air, redolent of flowers, and all that makes rural scenes so sweet.  But better still, it was fragrant with love to Him who is the bond between us, in whose name and for whose sake we are friends.  I wish I loved Him better and were more like Him; perhaps that is about as far as we get in this world, for no matter how far we advance, we are never satisfied; there is always something ahead; I doubt if any one ever said, even in a whisper and to himself, “Now I love my Saviour as much as a human soul can.”

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You speak of my having given you “counsels.”  Have I had the presumption to do that?  Two-thirds of the time I feel as if I wanted somebody to counsel me; the only thing I really know that you do not, is what it is to be beaten with persistent, ceaseless stripes, year after year, year after year, with scarcely breathing time between.  I don’t know whether this is most an argument against me, or for God; on the whole it is most for Him, who was so good and kind as never to spare me for my writhing and groaning.  Truly as I value this discipline, I want you to give yourself to Him so unreservedly that you will not need such sharp treatment.  I am not going to keep writing and getting you in debt.  All I ask is if you ever feel a little under the weather and want a specially loving or cheering word, to give me the chance to speak or write it.

A chapter might be written about Mrs. Prentiss’ love for little children, the enthusiasm with which she studied all their artless ways, her delight in their beauty, and the reverence with which she regarded the mystery of their infant being.  Her faith in their real, complete humanity, their susceptibility to spiritual influences, and, when called from earth, their blessed immortality in and through Christ, was very vivid; and it was untroubled by any of those distressing doubts, or misgivings, that are engendered by the materialistic spirit and science of the age.  Contempt for them shocked her as an offence against the Holy Child Jesus, their King and Saviour.  Her very look and manner as she took a young infant, especially a sick or dying infant, in her arms and gave it a loving kiss, seemed to say: 

  Sweet baby, little as thou art,
    Thou art a human whole;
  Thou hast a little human heart,
    Thou hast a deathless soul. [6]

The following letter to a Christian mother, dated May 13th, will show her feeling on this subject: 

This morning we attended the funeral of a little baby, eight months old.  My husband, in his remarks, said that though born and ever continuing to be a sufferer, it was never saddened by this fellowship with Christ; and that he believed it was a partaker of His holiness, and glad through His indwelling, even though unconscious of it.  During the last days of its life, after each paroxysm of coughing, it would look first at its mother, then at its father, for sympathy, and then look upward with a face radiant beyond description.  I can’t tell you how it touched me to think that I had in that baby a little Christian sister—­not merely redeemed, but sanctified from its birth—­and I know it will touch and strengthen you to hear of it.  I felt a reverence for that tiny, lifeless form, that I can not put into words.  And, indeed, why should it be harder for God to enter into the soul of an infant than into our “unlikeliest” ones? ...  I see more and more that if we have within us the mind of Christ, we must bear the burden of other griefs than our own; He did not merely pity suffering humanity; He bore our griefs, and in all our afflictions He was afflicted.

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To Mrs. Condict, June 6, 1870.

If you can get hold of the April number of the Bibliotheca Sacra, read an article in it called “Psychology in the Life, Work and Teachings of Jesus.”  I think it very striking and very true.  Praying for Dr. ——­ this morning, I had such a peaceful feeling that he was safe.  Do you feel so about him?  I had a very different experience about another man who has been to see me since I began this letter, and who said I was the first happy person he ever met.  May God lay that to his heart!...  Rummaging among dusty things in the attic this forenoon with great repugnance, I found such a beautiful letter from my husband, written for my solace in Switzerland when he was in Paris (he wrote me every day, sometimes twice a day, during the two months of our enforced separation) that even the drudgery of getting my hands soiled and my back broken was sweetened.  That’s the way God keeps on spoiling us; one good thing after another till we are ashamed.  Well, let us step onward, hand in hand.  I wonder which of us will outrun the other and step in first?  I am so glad I’m willing to live.

In the course of this spring The Percys was published.  The story first came out as a serial in the New York Observer.  It was translated into French under the title La Famille Percy.  In 1876 a German version appeared under the title Die Familie Percy.  It was also republished in London. [7]

* * * * *


Lines on going to Dorset.  A Cloud over her.  Faber’s Life.  Loving Friends for one’s own sake and loving them for Christ’s sake.  The Bible and the Christian Life.  Dorset Society and Occupations.  Counsels to a young Friend in Trouble.  “Don’t stop praying for your Life!” Cure for the Heart-sickness caused by a Sight of human Imperfections.  Fenelon’s Teaching about Humiliation and being patient with Ourselves.

The following lines, found among her papers after her death, show in what spirit she went to Dorset: 

  Once more I change my home, once more begin
    Life in this rural stillness and repose;
  But I have brought with me my heart of sin,
    And sin nor quiet nor cessation knows.

Ah, when I make the final, blessed change,
I shall leave that behind, shall throw aside
Earth’s soiled and soiling garments, and shall range
Through purer regions like a youthful bride.

Thrice welcome be that day!  Do thou, meanwhile,
My soul, sit ready, unencumbered wait;
The Master bides thy coming, and His smile
Shall bid thee welcome at the golden gate. 
DORSET, June 15, 1870.

To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, June 18, 1870.

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I would love to have you here with me in this dear little den of mine and see the mountains from my window.  My husband has gone back to town, and my only society is that of the children, so you would be most welcome if you should come in either smiling or sighing.  I have had a cloud over me of late.  Do you know about Mr. Prentiss’ appointment by General Assembly to a professorship at Chicago?  His going would involve not only our tearing ourselves out of the heart of our beloved church, but of my losing you and Miss K., and of our all losing this dear little home.  Of course, he does not want to go, and I am shocked at the thought of his leaving the ministry; but, on the other hand, there is a right and a wrong to the question, and we ought to want to do whatever God chooses.  The thought of giving up this home makes me know better how to sympathise with you if you have to part with yours.  I do think it is good for us to be emptied from vessel to vessel, and there is something awful in the thought of having our own way with leanness in the soul.  I am greatly pained in reading Faber’s Life and Letters, at the shocking way in which he speaks of Mary, calling her his mamma, and praying to her and to Joseph, and nobody knows who not.  It seems almost incredible that this is the man who wrote those beautiful strengthening hymns.  It sets one to praying “Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe.” ...  I should have forgotten the lines of mine you quote if you had not copied them.  God give to you and to me a thousandfold more of the spirit they breathe, and make us wholly, wholly His own!  My repugnance to go to Chicago makes me feel that perhaps that is just the wrench I need.  Well, good-bye; at the longest we have not long to stay in this sphere of discipline and correction.

To Mr. G. S. P., Dorset, July 13, 1870.

I had just come home from a delicious little tramp through our own woods when your letter came, and now, if you knew what was good for you, you would drop in and take tea and spend the evening with us.  I should like you to see our house and our mountains, and our cup that runs over till we are ashamed.  Had I not known you wouldn’t come I should have given you a chance, especially as my husband was gone and I was rather lonely; though to be sure he always writes me every day.  On the way up here I was glad of time to think out certain things I had been waiting for leisure to attend to.  One had some connection with you, as well as one or two other friends.  I had long felt that there was a real, though subtle, difference between human—­and, shall I say divine?—­affection, but did not see just what it was.  Turning it over in my mind that day, it suddenly came to me as this.  Human friendship may be entirely selfish, giving only to receive in return, or may be partially so—­yet still selfish.  But the love that grows out of the love of Christ, and that delights in His image wherever it is seen, claims no response; loves because it is

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its very nature to do so, because it can not help it, and this without regard to what its object gives.  I dare not pretend that I have fully reached this state, but I have entered this land, and know that it is one to be desired as a home, an abiding place.  I have thought painfully of the narrow quarters and the hot nights endured by so many in New York, during this unusually warm weather—­especially of Mrs. G. with three restless children in bed with her and her poor lonely heart.  I can not but believe that Christ has real purposes of mercy to her soul.  I feel interested in Mr. H.’s summer work in a hard field.  In place of aversion to young men, I am beginning to realise how true work for Christ one may do by praying persistently for them, especially those consecrated to the ministry of His gospel.  I do hope Christ will have the whole of you, and that you will have the whole of Him.  When you write, let me know how you like my beloved Fenelon.  Still, you may not like him.  Some Christians never get to feeding on these mystical writers, and get on without them.

To Mrs. Condict, Dorset, July 18, 1870.

I was greatly struck with these words yesterday:  “As for God His way is perfect”; think of reading the Bible through four times in one year, and nobody knows how many times since, and never resting on these words.  Somehow they charmed me.  And these words have been ringing in my ears,

  “Earth looks so little and so low,”

while conscious that when I can get ferns and flowers, it does not look so “little” or so “low,” as it does when I can’t.  My cook, who is a Romanist, has been prevented from going to her own church seven miles off, by the weather, ever since we came here, and last Sunday said she meant to go to ours.  Mr. P. preached on God’s character as our Physician, and she was delighted.  I think it was hearing one of his little letters to the children that made her realise, that he was a Christian man whom she might safely hear; at any rate, I feel greatly pleased and comforted that she could appreciate such a subject.  I fear you are suffering from the weather; we never knew anything like it here.  We do not suffer, but wake up every morning bathed in a breeze that refreshes for the day; I mean we do not suffer while we keep still.  I am astonished at God’s goodness in giving us this place; not His goodness itself, but towards us.  If Mrs. Brinsmade [8] left much of such material as the extract you sent me, I wonder Dr. B. did not write her memoir.  The more I read of what Christ said about faith, the more impressed I am.  Just now I am on the last chapters in the gospel of John, and feel as if I had never read them before.  They are just wonderful.  We have to read the Bible to understand the Christian life, and we must penetrate far into that life in order to understand the Bible.  How beautifully the one interprets the other!  I want you to let me know, without telling her that I asked you, if Miss K. could make me a visit if it were not for the expense?

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To Miss E. A. Warner, Dorset, July 20, 1870.

Did you ever use a fountain pen?  I have had one given me, and like it so much that I sent for one for my husband, and one for Mr. Pratt.  When one wants to write in one’s lap, or out of doors, it is delightful.  Mrs. Field came over from East Dorset on Sunday to have her baby baptized.  They had him there in the church through the whole morning service, and he was as quiet as any of us.  The next day Mrs. F. came down and spent the morning with me, sweeter, more thoughtful than ever, if changed at all.  Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey, of Philadelphia, are passing the summer here at the tavern, and we spend most of our evenings there, or they come here.  Mrs. H. is a very superior woman, and though I was determined not to like her, because I have so many people on hand already, I found I could not help it.  She is as furious about mosses and lichens and all such things as I am, and the other day took home a bushel-basket of them.  She is an earnest Christian, and has passed through deep waters; I ought to have reversed the order of those clauses.  Excuse this rather hasty letter; I feared you might fancy your book lost.  If you are alive, let me know it, also if you are dead.

To a young Friend, Dorset, Aug. 8, 1870.

I dare not answer your letter, just received, in my own strength, but must pray over it long.  It is a great thing to learn how far our doubts and despondencies are the direct result of physical causes, and another great thing is, when we can not trace any such connexion, to bear patiently and quietly what God permits, if He does not authorise.  I have no more doubt that you love Him, and that He loves you, than that I love Him and that He loves me.  You have been daily in my prayers.  Temptations and conflict are inseparable from the Christian life; no strange thing has happened to you.  Let me comfort you with the assurance that you will be taught more and more by God’s Spirit how to resist; and that true strength and holy manhood will spring up from this painful soil.  Try to take heart; there is more than one foot-print on the sands of time to prove that “some forlorn and shipwrecked brother” has traversed them before you, and come off conqueror through the Beloved. Don’t stop praying for your life. Be as cold and emotionless as you please; God will accept your naked faith, when it has no glow or warmth in it; and in His own time the loving, glad heart will come back to you.  I deeply feel for and with you, and have no doubt that a week among these mountains would do more towards uniting you to Christ than a mile of letters would.  You can’t complain of any folly to which I could not plead guilty.  I have put my Saviour’s patience to every possible test, and how I love Him when I think what He will put up with.

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You ask if I “ever feel that religion is a sham”?  No, never.  I know it is a reality.  If you ask if I am ever staggered by the inconsistencies of professing Christians, I say yes, I am often made heartsick by them; but heartsickness always makes me run to Christ, and one good look at Him pacifies me.  This is in fact my panacea for every ill; and as to my own sinfulness, that would certainly overwhelm me if I spent much time in looking at it.  But it is a monster whose face I do not love to see; I turn from its hideousness to the beauty of His face who sins not, and the sight of “yon lovely Man” ravishes me.  But at your age I did this only by fits and starts, and suffered as you do.  So I know how to feel for you, and what to ask for you.  God purposely sickens us of man and of self, that we may learn to “look long at Jesus.”

And this brings me to what you say about Fenelon’s going too far, when he says we may judge of the depth of our humility by our delight in humiliation, etc.  No, he does not go a bit too far.  Paul says, “I will glory in my infirmities”—­“I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  I think this a great attainment; but that His disciples may reach it, though only through a humbling, painful process.  Then as to God’s glory.  We say, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  Now, can we enjoy Him till we do glorify Him?  Can we enjoy Him while living for ourselves, while indulging in sin, while prayerless and cold and dead?  Does not God directly seek our highest happiness when He strips us of vainglory and self-love, embitters the poisonous draught of mere human felicity, and makes us fall down before Him lost in the sense of His beauty and desirableness?  The connexion between glorifying and enjoying Him is, to my mind, perfect—­one following as the necessary sequence of the other; and facts bear me out in this.  He who has let self go and lives only for the honor of God, is the free, the happy man.  He is no longer a slave, but has the liberty of the sons of God; for “him who honors me, I will honor.”  Satan has befogged you on this point.  He dreads to see you ripen into a saintly, devoted, useful man.  He hopes to overwhelm and ruin you.  But he will not prevail.  You have solemnly given yourself to the Lord; you have chosen the work of winning and feeding souls as your life-work, and you can not, must not go back.  These conflicts are the lot of those who are training to be the Lord’s true yoke-fellows.  Christ’s sweetest consolations lie behind crosses, and He reserves His best things for those who have the courage to press forward, fighting for them.  I entreat you to turn your eyes away from self, from man, and look to Christ.  Let me assure you, as a fellow-traveller, that I have been on the road and know it well, and that by and by there won’t be such a dust on it.  You will meet with hindrances and trials, but will fight quietly through, and no human ear hear the din of battle, no human eye perceive fainting or halting or fall.  May God bless you, and become to you an ever-present, joyful reality!  Indeed He will; only wait patiently.

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In glancing over this, I see that I have here and there repeated myself.  Do excuse it.  I believe it is owing to the way the flies harass and distract me.

August 17th.—­I feel truly grateful to God if I have been of any comfort to you.  I know only too well the shock of seeing professors of even sinless perfection guilty of what I consider sinful sin, and my whole soul was so staggered that for some days I could not pray, but could only say, “O God, if there be any God, come to my rescue.” ...  But God loves better than He knows us, and foresaw every infidelity before He called us to Himself.  Nothing in us takes Him, therefore, by surprise.  Fenelon teaches what no other writer does—­to be “patient with ourselves,” and I think as you penetrate into the Christian life, you will agree with him on every point as I do.

August 19th.—­I have had a couple of rather sickish days since writing the above, but am all right again now.  Hot weather does not agree with me.  I used to reproach myself for religious stupidity when not well, but see now that God Is my kind Father—­not my hard taskmaster, expecting me to be full of life and zeal when physically exhausted.  It takes long to learn such lessons.  One has to penetrate deeply into the heart of Christ to begin to know its tenderness and sympathy and forbearance.

You can’t imagine how Miss K. has luxuriated in her visit, nor how good she thinks we all are.  She holds views to which I can not quite respond, but I do not condemn or reject them.  She is a modest, praying, devoted woman; not disposed to obtrude, much less to urge her opinions; full of Christian charity and forbearance; and I am truly thankful that she prays for me and mine; in fact, she loves to pray so, that when she gets hold of a new case, she acts as one does who has found a treasure.

I wish you were looking out with me on the beautiful array of mountains to be seen from every window of our house and breathing this delicious air.

September 25th.—­We expect now to go home on Friday next, though if I had known how early the foliage was going to turn this year, I should have planned to stay a week longer to see it in all its glory.  It is looking very beautiful even now, and our eyes have a perpetual feast.  We have had a charming summer, but one does not want to play all the time, and I hope God has work of some sort for me to do at home during the winter.  Meanwhile, I wish I could send you a photograph of the little den where I am now writing, and the rustic adornings which make it sui generis, and the bit of woods to be seen from its windows, that, taking the lead of all other Dorset woods, have put on floral colors, just because they are ours and know we want them looking their best before we go away.  But this wish must yield to fate, like many another; and, as I have come to the end of my paper, I will love and leave you.

* * * * *

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The Story Lizzie Told. Country and City.  The Law of Christian Progress.  Letters to a Friend bereft of three Children.  Sudden Death of another Friend.  “Go on; step faster.”  Fenelon and his Influence upon her religious Life.  Lines on her Indebtedness to him.

The Story Lizzie Told was published about this time.  It had already appeared in the Riverside Magazine.  The occasion of the story was a passage in a letter from London written by a friend, which described in a very graphic and touching way the yearly exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of Window Gardening among the Poor.  The exhibition was held at the “Dean’s close” at Westminster and the Earl of Shaftesbury gave the prizes. [9]

No one of Mrs. Prentiss’s smaller works, perhaps, has been so much admired as The Story Lizzie Told.  It was written at Dorset in the course of a single day, if not at a single sitting; and so real was the scene to her imagination that, on reading it in the evening to her husband, she had to stop again and again from the violence of her emotion.  “What a little fool I am!” she would say, after a fresh burst of tears. [10]

To Mrs. Leonard, New York, Oct. 16, 1870.

Your letter came in the midst of the wear and tear of A.’s return to us.  We were kept in suspense about her from Monday, when she was due, till, Friday when she came, and it is years since I have got so excited and wrought up.  They had a dreadful passage, but she was not sick at all.  Prof.  Smith is looking better than I ever saw him, and we are all most happy in being together once more.  I can truly re-echo your wish that you lived half way between us and Dorset, for then we should see you once a year at least.  I miss you and long to see you.  How true it is that each friend has a place of his own that no one else can fill!  I do not doubt that the 13th of October was a silvery wedding-day to your dear husband.  His loss has made Christ dearer to you, and so has made your union more perfect.  I suppose you were never so much one as you are now.

We have had a delightful summer, not really suffering from the heat; though, of course, we felt it more or less.  All our nights were cool....  I can not tell you how Mr. P. and myself enjoy our country home.  It seems as if we had slipped into our proper nook.  But if we are going to do any more brainwork, we must be where there is stimulus, such as we find here.  What a mixed-up letter!  I have almost forgotten how to write, in adorning my house and sowing my seeds and the like.

To Mrs. Frederick Field, New York, Oct. 19th, 1870.

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I deeply appreciate the Christian kindness that prompted you to write me in the midst of your sorrow.  I was prepared for the sad news by a dream only last night.  I fancied myself seeing your dear little boy lying very restlessly on his bed, and proposing to carry him about in my arms to relieve him.  He made no objection, and I walked up and down with him a long, long time, when some one of the family took him from me.  Instantly his face was illumined by a wondrous smile of delight that he was to leave the arms of a stranger to go to those familiar to him—­such a smile, that when I awoke this morning I said to myself, “Eddy Field has gone to the arms of his Saviour, and gone gladly.”  You can imagine how your letter, an hour or two later, touched me.  But you have better consolation than dreams can give; in the belief that your child will develop, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, into the perfect likeness of Christ, and in your own submission to the unerring will of God.  I sometimes think that patient sufferers suffer most; they make less outcry than others, but the grief that has little vent wears sorely.

  “Grace does not steel the faithful heart
  That it should feel no ill,”

and you have many a pang yet before you.  It must be so very hard to see twin children part company, to have their paths diverge so soon.  But the shadow of death will not always rest on your home; you will emerge from its obscurity into such a light as they who have never sorrowed can not know.  We never know, or begin to know, the great Heart that loves us best, till we throw ourselves upon it in the hour of our despair.  Friends say and do all they can for us, but they do not know what we suffer or what we need; but Christ, who formed, has penetrated the depths of the mother’s heart.  He pours in the wine and the oil that no human hand possesses, and “as one whom his mother comforteth, so will He comfort you.”  I have lived to see that God never was so good to me as when He seemed most severe.  Thus I trust and believe it will be with you and your husband.  Meanwhile, while the peaceable fruits are growing and ripening, may God help you through the grievous time that must pass—­a grievous time in which you have my warm sympathy.  I know only too well all about it.

  “I know my griefs; but then my consolations,
  My joys, and my immortal hopes I know”—­

joys unknown to the prosperous, hopes that spring from seed long buried in the dust.

I shall read your books with great interest, I am sure, and who knows how God means to prepare you for future usefulness along the path of pain?  “Every branch that beareth fruit He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

What an epitaph your boy’s own words would be—­“It is beautiful to be dead”!

To the Same, New York, Nov 30th, 1870.

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I thank you so much for your letter about your precious children.  I remember them well, all three, and do not wonder that the death of your first-born, coming upon the very footsteps of sorrow, has so nearly crushed you.  But what beautiful consolations God gave you by his dying bed!  “All safe at God’s right hand!” What more can the fondest mother’s heart ask than such safety as this?  I am sure that there will come to you, sooner or later, the sense of Christ’s love in these repeated sorrows, that in your present bewildered, amazed state you can hardly realise.  Let me tell you that I have tried His heart in a long storm—­not so very different from yours—­and that I know something of its depths.  I will enclose you some lines that may give you a moment’s light.  Please not to let them go out of your hands, for no one—­not even my husband—­has ever seen them.  I am going to send my last book to your lonely little boy.  You will not feel like reading it now, but perhaps the 33d chapter, and some that follow, may not jar upon you as the earlier part would.

To go back again to the subject of Christ’s love for us, of which I never tire, I want to make you feel that His sufferers are His happiest, most favored disciples.  What they learn about Him—–­His pitifulness, His unwillingness to hurt us, His haste to bind up the very wounds He has inflicted—–­endear Him so, that at last they burst out into songs of thanksgiving, that His “donation of bliss” included in it such donation of pain.  Perhaps I have already said to you, for I am fond of saying it,

  “The love of Jesus—–­what it is,
  Only His sufferers know.”

You ask if your heart will ever be lightsome again.  Never again with the lightsomeness that had never known sorrow, but light even to gayety with the new and higher love born of tribulation.  Just as far as a heavenly is superior even to maternal love, will be the elevation and beauty of your new joy; a joy worth all it costs.  I know what sorrow means; I know it well.  But I know, too, what it is to pass out of that prison-house into a peace that passes all understanding; and thousands can say the same.  So, my dear suffering sister, look on and look up; lay hold on Christ with both your poor, empty hands; let Him do with you what seemeth Him good; though He slay you, still trust in Him; and I dare in His name to promise you a sweeter, better life than you could have known had He left you to drink of the full, dangerous cups of unmingled prosperity.  I feel such real and living sympathy with you, that I would love to spend weeks by your side, trying to bind up your broken heart.  But for the gospel of Christ, to hear of such bereavements as yours would appall, would madden one.  Yet, what a halo surrounds that word “but”!

To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, Dec 14, 1870.

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I have not behaved according to my wont, and visited the sick even by way of a letter.  And by this time I hope you are quite well again, and do not need ghostly counsels....  I have felt very badly about Miss Lyman’s dying at Vassar, but since Mrs. S.’s visit and learning how beloved she is there, have changed my mind.  What does it matter, after all, from what point of time or space we go home; how we shall smile, after we get there, that we ever gave it one moment’s thought!  You ask what I am doing; well, I am taking a vacation and not writing anything to speak of, yet just as busy as ever; not one moment in which to dawdle, though I dare say I seem to the folks here at home to be sitting round doing nothing.  I must give you a picture of one day and you must photograph one of yours, as we have done before.  Got up at seven and went through the usual forms; had prayers and breakfast, and started off to school with M. Came home and had a nice quiet time reading, etc.; at eleven went to my meeting, which was a tearful one, as one of our members who knelt with us only a week before, was this day to be buried out of our sight.  She was at church on Sunday afternoon at four P.M., to present her baby in baptism, and at half-past two the following morning was in heaven.  We all went together to the funeral after the meeting, and gathered round the coffin with the feeling that she belonged to us.  When I got home I found a despatch from Miss W., saying they should be here right away.  I had let one of my women go out of town to a sick sister, so I must turn chamber-maid and make the bed, dust, clear out closet, cupboard, and bureau forthwith.  This done, they arrived, which took the time till half-past seven, when I excused myself and went to an evening meeting, knowing it would be devoted to special prayer for the husband and children of her who had gone.  Got home half an hour behind time and found a young man awaiting me who was converted last June, as he hopes, while reading Stepping Heavenward.  I had just got seated by him when our doctor was announced; he had lost his only grandchild and had come to talk about it.  He stayed till half-past nine, when I went back to my young friend, who stayed till half-past ten and gave a very interesting history which I have not time to put on paper.  He writes me since, however, about his Christian life that “it gets sweeter and sweeter,” and I know you will be glad for me that I have this joy.

Saturday Morning.—­I was interrupted there, had visitors, had to go to a fair, company again, so that I had not time to eat the food I needed, went to see a poor sick girl, had more visitors, and at last, at eleven P.M., scrambled into bed.  Now I am finishing this, and if nobody hinders, am going to mail it, and then go after a block of ice-cream for that sick girl (isn’t it nice, we can get it now done up in little boxes, just about as much as an invalid can eat at one time).  Then I am going to see a poor afflicted soul that can’t get any light on her sorrow.  Here comes my dear old man to read his sermon, so good-bye.

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To a young Friend, Dec. 20, 1870.

I have been led, during the last month or two, to a new love of the Holy Spirit, or perhaps to more consciousness of the silent, blessed work He is doing in and for us? and for those whose souls lie as a heavy and yet a sweet burden upon our own.  And joining with you in your prayers, seeking also for myself what I sought for you, I found myself almost startled by such a response as I can not describe.  It was not joy, but a deep solemnity which enfolded me as with a garment, and if I ever pass out of it, which I never want to do, I hope it will be with a heart more than ever consecrated and set apart for Christ’s service.  The more I reflect and the more I pray, the more life narrows down to one point—­What am I being for Christ, what am I doing for Him?  Why do I tell you this?  Because the voice of a fellow-traveller always stimulates his brother-pilgrim; what one finds and speaks of and rejoices over, sets the other upon determining to find too.  God has been very good to you, as well as to me, but we ought to whisper to each other now and then, “Go on, step faster, step surer, lay hold on the Rock of Ages with both hands.”  You never need be afraid to speak such words to me.  I want to be pushed on, and pulled on, and coaxed on.

The allusion to her “beloved Fenelon,” in several of the preceding letters, renders this a suitable place to say a word about him and his influence upon her religious character.  “Fenelon I lean on,” she wrote.  Her delight in his writings dated back more than a quarter of a century, and continued, unabated, to the end of her days.  She regarded him with a sort of personal affection and reverence.  Her copy of “Spiritual Progress,” composed largely of selections from his works, is crowded with pencil-marks expressive of her sympathy and approval; not even her Imitation of Christ, Sacra Privata, Pilgrim’s Progress, Saints’ Everlasting Rest, or Leighton on the First Epistle of Peter, contain so many.  These pencil-marks are sometimes very emphatic, underscoring or inclosing now a single word, now a phrase, anon a whole sentence or paragraph; and it requires but little skill to decipher, in these rude hieroglyphics, the secret history of her soul for a third of a century—­ one side, at least, of this history.  What she sought with the greatest eagerness, what she most loved and most hated, her spiritual aims, struggles, trials, joys and hopes, may here be read between the lines.  And a beautiful testimony they give to the moral depth, purity and nobleness of her piety!

The story is not, indeed, complete; her religious life had other elements, not found, or only partially found, in Fenelon; elements centering directly in Christ and His gospel, and which had their inspiration in her Daily Food and her New Testament.  What attracted her to Fenelon was not the doctrine of salvation as taught by him—­she found it better taught in Bunyan and Leighton—­it was his marvellous

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knowledge of the human heart, his keen insight into the proper workings of nature and grace, his deep spiritual wisdom, and the sweet mystic tone of his piety.  And then the two great principles pervading his writings—­that of pure love to God and that of self-crucifixion as the way to perfect love—­fell in with some of her own favorite views of the Christian life.  In the study of Fenelon, as of Madame Guyon, her aim was a purely practical one; it was not to establish, or verify, a theory, but to get aid and comfort in her daily course heavenward.  What Fenelon was to her in this respect she has herself recorded in the following lines, found, after her death, written on a blank page of her “Spiritual Progress”: 

  Oh wise and thoughtful words! oh counsel sweet,
  Guide in my wanderings, spurs unto my feet,
  How often you have met me on the way,
  And turned me from the path that led astray;
  Teaching that fault and folly, sin and fall,
  Need not the weary pilgrim’s heart appall;
  Yea more, instructing how to snatch the sting
  From timid conscience, how to stretch the wing
  From the low plane, the level dead of sin,
  And mount immortal, mystic joys to win. 
  One hour with Jesus!  How its peace outweighs
  The ravishment of earthly love and praise;
  How dearer far, emptied of self to lie
  Low at His feet, and catch, perchance, His eye,
  Alike content when He may give or take,
  The sweet, the bitter, welcome for His sake!

[1] John Wesley, after having pointed out what he considered the grand source of all her mistakes; namely, the being guided by inward impressions and the light of her own spirit rather than by the written Word, and also her error in teaching that God never purifies a soul but by inward and outward suffering—­then adds:  “And yet with all this dross how much pure gold is mixed!  So did God wink at involuntary ignorance.  What a depth of religion did she enjoy!  How much of the mind that was in Christ Jesus!  What heights of righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost!  How few such instances do we find of exalted love to God, and our neighbor; of genuine humility; of invincible meekness and unbounded resignation!  So that, upon the whole, I know not whether we may not search many centuries to find another woman who was such a pattern of true holiness.”

[2] See the lines MY CUP RUNNETH OVER, Golden Hours, p. 43.

[3] “I know of no book, the Bible excepted as above all comparison, which I, according to my judgment and experience, could so safely recommend as teaching and enforcing the whole saving truth according to the mind that was in Christ Jesus, as the Pilgrim’s Progress.  It is, in my conviction, incomparably the best summa theologiae evangelicae ever produced by a writer not miraculously inspired.  I read it once as a theologian—­and let me assure you, there is great theological acumen in the work—­once with devotional feelings, and once as a poet.  I could not have believed beforehand that Calvinism could be painted in such exquisitely delightful colors.”—­COLERIDGE.

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[4] The allusion is to Thekla’s song in Part I., Act iii., sc. 7 of Schiller’s Wallenstein.

  Du Heilige, rufe dein Kind zurueck! 
  Ich habe genossen das irdische Glueck,
  Ich habe gelebt und gelibet.

[5] The hymn referred to is Paul Gerhardt’s, beginning: 

  Wir singen dir, Immanuel, Du Lebensfuerst und Gnadenquell.

It was one of her favorite German hymns.  The lines she quotes belong to the tenth stanza; “Ich kann nicht sagen Der Will ist da,” are the words pencilled in the margin.

[6] Hartley Coleridge’s Poems.  Vol.  II., p. 139.

[7] But greatly to Mrs. Prentiss’ annoyance, with the title changed to Ever Heavenward—­as if to make it appear to be a sequel to Stepping Heavenward.

[8] Wife of the late Rev. Horatio Brinsmade, D.D., of Newark, N. J.

[9] “Polly” was particularly happy; six years old, I should say, shabby, though evidently washed up for the occasion, and very pretty and all pink with excitement.  “Polly, I knowed you’d get a prize,” I heard a young woman, tired out with carrying her own big baby, say.  And then she came upon her own geranium with three blossoms on it and marked “Second Prize,” and said, “I can’t believe it,” when they told her that that meant six shillings.  But the plant which my companion and myself both cried over, was a little bit of a weedy marigold, the one poor little flower on it carefully fastened about with a paper ring, such as high and mighty greenhouse men sometimes put round a choice rose in bud.  That was all; just this one common, very single little flower, with “Lizzie” Something’s name attached and the name of her street.  All the streets were put upon the tickets and added greatly to the pathetic effect; just the poorest lanes and alleys in London.  Nobody seemed to claim the marigold.  Perhaps it was the great treasure of some sick child who couldn’t come to look at it.  It was certain not to get a prize, but the child has found something by this time tucked down in the pot and carefully covered over by F., when no one was looking, with a pinch of earth taken from a more prosperous plant alongside.

[10] Miss W. showed me a very pleasant letter of Lady Augusta Stanley, the wife of Dean Stanley, to a Miss C., through whom she received from Miss W.’s little niece a copy of The Story Lizzie Told.  Lady Stanley is herself, I believe, at the head of the Society which holds the annual Flower Show.  She says in her letter that she had just returned from Scotland, reaching home quite late in the evening.  Before retiring, however, she had read your story through.  She praises it very warmly, and wonders how anybody but a “Londoner” could have written it.—­Letter to Mrs. P., dated New York, September, 1872.



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The letters in the preceding chapters give a glimpse, here and there, of Mrs. Prentiss’ home, but relate chiefly to the religious side of her character.  What was her manner of life among her children?  How were her temper and habits as a mother affected by the ardor and intensity of her Christian feeling?  A partial answer to these questions is contained in letters written to her eldest daughter, while the latter was absent in Europe.  These letters show the natural side of her character; and although far from reflecting all its light and beauty—­no words could do that!—­they depict some of its most interesting traits.  They are frankness itself and betray not the least respect of persons; but if she speaks her mind in them without much let or hindrance, it is always done in the pleasantest way.  In the portions selected for publication the aim has been to let her be seen, so far as possible, just as she appeared in her daily home-life, both in town and country.


Home-life in New York.

New York, October 22, 1869.

I have promised to walk to school with M. this morning, and while I am waiting for her to get ready, will begin my letter to you.  We got home from seeing you off all tired out, and I lay on the sofa all the time till I went to bed, except while eating my dinner, and I think papa did pretty much the same.  The moment we had done dinner, H. and Jane appeared, carrying your bureau drawer between them, and we had a great time over the presents you were thoughtful enough to leave behind you.  My little sacque makes me look like 500 angels instead of one, and I am ever so glad of it, and the children were all delighted with their things.

Well, I have escorted M. to school, come home and read the Advance, and Hearth and Home, and it is now eleven o’clock and the door-bell has only rung twice!  Papa says you are out of sight of land, and as it is a warm day and we are comfortable, we hope you are.  But it is dreadful to have to wait so long before hearing.

23d.—­Papa says this must be mailed by nine o’clock; so I have hurried up from breakfast to finish it.  Mr. and Mrs. S. spent most of last evening with us.  They shouted over my ferrotypes.  Mr.——­ also called and expressed as much surprise at your having gone to Europe as if the sky had fallen.  I read my sea-journal to the children last evening, and though it is very flat and meagre in itself, H., to whom it was all brand new, thought it ought to be published forthwith.  No time for another word but love to all the S.’s, big and little, high and low, great and small.  Your affectionate Mammy.

Oct. 28th.—­I can hardly believe that it is only a week today that we saw you and your big steamer disappear from view.  H. said last night that it seemed to him one hundred years ago, and we all said amen.  So how do you suppose it will seem ten months hence?  I hope you do not find the time so long.  I take turns waiting upon the children to school, which they are very strict about, and they enjoy their teachers amazingly.

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I received this morning a very beautiful and touching letter from a young lady in England about the Susy books.  They are associated in her mind and those of her family with a “Little Pearlie” whose cunning little photograph she enclosed, who taught herself to read in a fortnight from one of them, and was read to from it on her dying bed, and after she became speechless she made signs to have her head wet as Susy’s was.  I never received such a letter among all I have had.  Randolph sent me twelve copies of Stepping Heavenward, and I have had my hands full packing and sending them.  M. is reading aloud to H. a charming story called “Alone in London.”  I am sure I could not read it aloud without crying.

The following is the letter from England: 


I feel as if I had a perfect right to call you “My dear friend,” so much have I thought of you this last year and a half.  Bear with me while I tell you why.  A year ago last Christmas we were a large family—­father, mother, and eight children, of whom I, who address you, am the eldest.  The youngest was of course the pet, our bright little darling, rather more than five.  That Christmas morning, of course, there were gifts for all; and among the treasures in the smallest stocking was a copy of “Little Susy’s Six Teachers,” for which I desire to thank you now.  Many times I have tried to do so, but I could not; the trouble which came upon us was too great and awful in its suddenness.  Little Pearl, so first called in the days of a fragile babyhood—­Dora Margaret was her real name—­taught herself to read from her “Little Susy,” during the first fortnight she had it.  And she would sit for hours, literally, amusing and interesting herself by it.  She talked constantly of the Six Teachers, and a word about them was enough to quell any rising naughtiness.  “Pearlie, what would Mr. Ought say?” or “Don’t grieve Mrs. Love,” was always sufficient.  Do you know what it is to have one the youngest in a large family?  My darling was seventeen years younger than I. I left school when she was born to take the oversight of the nursery, which dear mamma’s illness and always delicate health prevented her from doing.  I had nursed her in her illnesses, dressed her, made the little frocks—­now laid so sadly by—­and to all the rest of us she had been more like a child than a sister.  Friends used to say, “It is a wonder that child is not spoiled”; but they could never say she was.  Merry, full of life and fun she always was, quick and intelligent, full of droll sayings which recur to us now with such a pain.  From Christmas to the end of February we often remarked to one another how good that child was! laughing and playing from morning to night, yet never unruly or wild.  That February we had illness in the house.  Jessie, the next youngest, had diphtheria, but she recovered, and we trusted all danger was passed, when one Monday evening—­the

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last in the month—­our darling seemed ill.  The next day we recognised the symptoms we had seen in Jessie, and the doctor was called in.  Tuesday and Wednesday he came and gave no hint of danger, but on Wednesday night we perceived a change and on Thursday came the sentence:  No hope.  Oh friend, dear friend! how can I tell you of the long hours when we could not help our darling—­of the dark night when, forbidden the room from the malignity of the case, we went to bed to coax mamma to do so—­of the grey February dawn when there came the words, “Our darling is quite well now”—­quite well, forever taken from the evil to come.

The Sunday night before, she came into the parlor with “Susy” under her arm and petitioned for some one to read the “Teachers’ meeting.”  “Why, you read it twice this afternoon,” said one.  “Yes, I know—­but it’s so nice,” was the reply.  “Pearlie will be six in September,” said the gentle mother; “we must have a Teachers’ meeting for her, I think.”  “But perhaps I sha’n’t ever be six,” said the little one.  “Oh Pearlie, why do you say so?” “Well, people don’t all be six, you know,” affirmed our darling with solemn eyes and two dimples in the rosy cheeks, that were hid forever from us before the next Sabbath day.

On the Wednesday we borrowed from a little friend the other books of the series, thinking they might afford some amusement for the weary hours of illness, and Annie, my next sister, read four of the birthdays to her and then wished to stop, fearing she might be too fatigued.  “No, read one more,” was the request, and “That will do—­I’m five, read the last to-morrow,” she said, when it was complied with.  Ah me! with how many tears we took up that book again.  That Wednesday she sat up in bed, a glass of medicine in her hand.  “Mamma,” she said, “Miss Joy has gone quite away and only left Mr. Pain.  She can’t come back till my throat is well.”  “But Mrs. Love is here, is she not?” “Oh, yes,” and the dear heavy eyes turned from one to another.  In the night, when she lay dying, came intervals of consciousness; in one of these she took her handkerchief and gave it to papa, who watched by her, asking him to wet it and put it on her head.  When he told us, we recollected the incident when Susy in the favorite book was ill.  And can you understand how our hearts felt very tender toward you and we said you must be thanked.  I should weary you if I told you all the incidents that presented themselves of how sweet and good she was in her illness; how in the agony of those last hours, when no fear of infection could restrain the passionate kisses papa was showering on her, the dear voice said with a stop and an effort between each word, “Don’t kiss me on my mouth, papa; you may catch it”; how everything she asked for was prefaced by “please,” how self was always last in her thoughts.  “I’m keeping you awake, you darling.”  “Don’t stand there—­you’ll be so tired—­sit down or go down-stairs, if you like.”

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I will send you a photograph of little Pearlie; it is the best we have, but was taken when she was only two years old.  She was very small for her age and had been very delicate until the last year of her life.

In writing thus to thank you I am not only doing an act of justice to yourself, but fulfilling wishes now rendered binding.  Often and often my dear mamma said, “How I wish we knew the lady who wrote Little Susy!” Her health, always delicate, never recovered from the shock of Pearlie’s death, and suddenly, on the morning of the first of May, the Angel of Death darkened our dwelling with the shadow of his wings.  Not long did he linger—­only two hours—­and our mother had left us.  She was with her treasure and the Saviour, who said so lovingly on earth, “Come unto Me.”

But words can not express such trouble as that.  We have not realised it yet.  Forgive me if my letter is abrupt and confused.  I have only desired to tell you simply the simple tale—­if by any chance it should make you thank God more earnestly for the great gift He has given you—­a holy gift indeed; for can you think the lessons from “Susy,” so useful and so loved on earth, could be suddenly forgotten when the glories of heavens opened on our darling’s view?  I can not myself.  I think, perhaps, our Father’s home may be more like our human ones, where His love reigns, than our wild hearts allow themselves to imagine; and I think the two, on whose behalf I thank you now, may one day know you and thank you themselves.

Dear “Aunt Susan,” believe me to be, your unknown yet grateful friend,


Mrs. Prentiss at once answered this letter, and not long after received another from Miss L——­, dated January 9, 1870, breathing the same grateful feeling and full of interesting details.  The following is an extract from it: 

I was so surprised, dear unknown friend, to receive your kind letter so soon.  Indeed, I hardly expected a reply at all.  When I wrote to you, I did not know that I was addressing a daughter of the “Edward Payson” whose name is fragrant even on this side of the Atlantic.  Had I known it I think I should not have ventured to write—­so I am glad I did not.  If you should be able to write again, and have a carte-de-visite to spare, may I beg it, that I may form some idea of the friend, “old enough to be my mother”?  Are you little and slight, like my real mother, I wonder, or stately and tall?  I will send you a photograph of the monument which the ladies of papa’s church and congregation have erected to dear mamma, in our beautiful cemetery, where the snowdrops will be already peeping, and where roses bloom for ten months out of the twelve.

Nov. 3d.—­Here beginneth letter No. 3.  We heard of your arrival at Southampton by a telegram last evening.  We long to get a letter.  Before I forget it let me tell you that Alice H. and Julia W. have both got babbies.  We are getting nicely settled for the winter; the children are all behaving beautifully.

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Saturday, 6th.—­Well, I have just been to see Mrs. F., and found her a bright, frank young thing, fresh and simple and very pleasing.  Her complexion is like M——­’s, and the lower part of her face is shaped like hers, dark eyebrows, light hair, splendid teeth, and I suppose would be called very pretty by you girls.  Take her altogether I liked her very much.  We hear next to nothing from Stepping Heavenward, and begin to think it is going to fall dead.

Monday, 14th.—­Your Southampton letter has just come and we are delighted to hear that you had such a pleasant voyage, and found so many agreeable people on board....  Yesterday afternoon was devoted to hearing a deeply interesting description from Dr. Hatfield, followed by Mr. Dodge, of the re-union of the two Assemblies at Pittsburgh.  Dr. H. made us all laugh by saying that as the New School entered the church where they were to be received and united to the Old School, the latter rose and sang “Return, ye ransomed sinners, home!” Oh, I don’t know but it was just the other way; it makes no great difference, for as Dr. H. remarked, “we’re all ransomed sinners.”

Nov. 30th.—­Mr. Abbot dined here on Sunday.  He came in again in the evening, and it would have done you good to hear what he said about the children.  They are all well and happy, and give me very little trouble.  I do not feel so well on the late dinner, and have awful dreams.——­I was passing the C——­s, after writing the above, and she called me in to see her new parlors.  They are beautiful; a great deal of bright, rich coloring, and various articles of furniture of his own designing. Thursday.——­You and M. will be shocked to hear that Julia W. died last night.  As Mr. W. was at church on Sunday, we supposed all danger was over.  We heard it through a telegram sent to your father.

December 4, 1869.—­I need not tell you that we all remember that this is your birthday, dear child, and that the remembrance brings you very near.  I wish I could send you, for a birthday present, all that I have, this morning, asked God to give you.  You may depend upon it, that while some people may get along through life at a certain distance from Him, you are not one of that sort.  You may find a feverish joy, but never abiding peace, out of Him.  Remember this whenever you feel the oppression of that vague sense of unrest, of which, I doubt not, you have a great deal underneath a careless outside; this is the thirst of the soul for the only fountain at which it is worth while to drink.  You never will be really happy till Christ becomes your dearest and most intimate friend. 7th.—­We have had a tremendous fall of snow, and Culyer says M. ought to wait an hour before starting for school, but she is not willing and I am going with her to see that she is not buried alive.  Good-bye again, dearie!  Will begin a new letter right away.

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Dec. 9th—­We went to see Mrs. W. this afternoon.  Julia had typhoid fever, which ran twenty-one days, and was delirious a good deal of the time.  She got ready to die before her confinement, though she said she expected to live.  After she became so very ill Mrs. W. heard her praying for something “for Christ’s sake,” “for the sake of Christ’s sufferings,” and once asked her what it was she was asking for so earnestly.  “Oh, to get well for Edward’s sake and the baby’s,” she replied.  A few days before her death she called Mrs. W. to “come close” to her, and said, “I am going to die.  I did not think so when baby was born, dear little thing—­but now it is impressed upon me that I am.”  Mrs. W. said they hoped not, but added, “Yet suppose you should die, what then?” “Oh I have prayed, day and night, to be reconciled, and I am, perfectly so.  God will take care of Edward and of my baby.  Perhaps it is better so than to run the risk—­” She did not finish the sentence.  The baby looks like her.  Mrs. W. told her you had gone to Europe with M., and she expressed great pleasure; but if she had known where she was going, and to what, all she would have done would have been to give thanks “for Christ’s sake.”  I do not blame her, however, for clinging to life; it was natural she should.

10th—­We went, last evening, to hear Father Hyacinthe lecture on “Charite” at the Academy of Music.  I did not expect to understand a word, but was agreeably disappointed, as he spoke very distinctly.  Still I did not enjoy hearing as well as I did reading it this morning—­for I lost some of the best things in a really fine address.  It was a brilliant scene, the very elite of intellectual society gathered around one modest, unpretentious little man.  Dr. and Mrs. Crosby were in the box with us, and she, fortunately, had an opera glass with her, so that we had a chance to study his really good face.  The only book I expect to write this winter is to you; I am dreadfully lazy since you left, and don’t do anything but haze about.  There is a good deal of lively talk at the table; the children are waked up by going to school, and there is some rivalry among them, each maintaining that his and hers is the best.

Dec. 15th.—­We have cards for a “Soiree musicale” at Mrs. ——­’s, which is to be a great smash-up.  She called here to-day and wept and wailed over and kissed me.  I have been to see how Mrs. C. is.  She is a little worse to-day, and he and her father scarcely leave her.  He wrung my hand all to pieces, poor man.  Her illness is exciting great sympathy in our church, and nobody seems willing to let her go.  Dr. Adams spent last evening here.  He is splendid company; I really wish he would come once a week.  Everybody is asking if I meant in Katy to describe myself.  I have no doubt that if I should catch an old toad, put on to her a short gown and petticoat and one of my caps, everybody would walk up to her and say, “Oh, how do you do, Mrs. Prentiss, you look more like yourself than common; I recognise the picture you have drawn of yourself in Stepping Heavenward and in the Percys,” etc., etc., etc., ad nauseam.  The next book I write I’ll make my heroine black and everybody will say, “Oh, here you are again, black to the life!”

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Dec. 18th.—­You and M. will not be surprised to hear that Mrs. C.’s sufferings are over.  She died this morning.  Papa and I are greatly shaken.  With much hesitation I decided to go over there to see her mother, and the welcome I got from her and from Mr. C. are things to remember for a life-time.  I will never hesitate again to fly to people in trouble.  If you were here I would tell you all about my visit, but I can’t write it down.  It seems so sad, just as they had got into their lovely new home—­sad for him, I mean; as for her I can only wish her joy that she is not weeping here below as he is.  I stayed till it was time for church, and when I entered it I was met by many a tearful face; papa announced her death from the pulpit, and is going, this afternoon, to throw aside the sermon he intended to preach, and extemporise on “the first Sunday in heaven.”  The children are going in, this noon, to sing; as to the Mission festival, that is to be virtually given up; the children are merely to walk in, receive their presents, and go silently out.  It is a beautiful day to go to heaven in.  Mrs. C. did not know she was going to die, but that is of no consequence.  Only one week ago yesterday she was at the Industrial school, unusually bright and well, they all say.  Well, I see everything double and had better stop writing.

Monday, 20th.—­Your nice letter was in the letter-box as I started for school with H.; I called to papa to let him know it was there and went off, begrudging him the pleasure of reading it before I did.  When I got home there was no papa and no letter to be found; I looked in every room, on his desk and on mine, posted down to the letter-box and into the parlor, in vain.  At last he came rushing home with it, having carried it to market, lest I should get and read it alone!  So we sat down and enjoyed it together....  I take out your picture now and then, when, lo, a big lump in my throat, notwithstanding which I am glad we let you go; we enjoy your enjoyment, and think it will make the old nest pleasanter to have been vacated for a while.  Papa and I agreed before we got up this morning that the only fault we had to find with God was, that He was too good to us.  I can’t get over the welcome I got from Mr. C. yesterday.  He said I seemed like a mother to him, which made me feel very old on the one hand, and very happy on the other.  If I were you I wouldn’t marry anybody but a minister; it gives one such lots of people to love and care for.  Old Mrs. B. is failing, and lies there as peaceful and contented as a little baby.  I never got sweeter smiles from anybody.  I have got each of the servants a pretty dress for Christmas; I feel that I owe them a good deal for giving me such a peaceful, untroubled home.

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Dec. 23d.—­It rained very hard all day yesterday till just about the time of the funeral, half-past three, when the church was well filled, the Mission-school occupying seats by themselves and the teachers by themselves....  I thought as I listened to the address that it would reconcile me to seeing you lying there in your coffin, if such a record stood against your name.  Papa read, at the close, a sort of prophetic poem of Mrs. C.’s, which she wrote a year or more ago, of which I should like to send you all a copy, it is so good in every sense.  He wants me to send you a few hasty lines I scribbled off on Sunday noon, with which he closed his sermon that afternoon, and repeated again at the funeral, but it is not worth the ink.  After the service the mission children went up to look at the remains, and passed out; then the rest of the congregation.  One of the mission children fainted and fell, and was carried out in Mr. L.’s arms.  After the rest dispersed papa took me in, and there we saw a most touching sight; a dozen poor women and children weeping about the coffin, offering a tribute to her memory, sweeter than the opulent display of flowers did. Evening.—­The interment took place to-day, at Woodlawn.  Mr. C. wished me to go, and I did.  On the way home a gentlemanly-looking man stepped up to your father, and taking his hand said, “I never saw you till to-day, but I love you; yes, there is no other word!” Wasn’t it nice of him?

Dec. 24th.—­Papa went in last evening, for a half hour, to see ——­ and his bride, at their great reception, drank two glasses of “coffee sangaree,” and brought me news that overcame me quite,—­namely, that ——­ was delighted with my book.  Nesbit & Co. sent me a copy of their reprint of it.  They have got it up beautifully with six colored illustrations, most of them very good; little Earnest is as cunning as he can be, and the old grandpa is perfect.  Katy, however, has her hair in a waterfall in the year 1835 and even after, wears long dresses, and always has on a sontag or something like one.  She goes to see Dr. Cabot in a red sacque, and a red hat, and has a muff in her lap.  Mrs. ——­ was here the other day to say that I had drawn her husband’s portrait exactly in Dr. Elliot.  I have been out with M. all the morning, doing up our last shopping.  We came home half frozen, and had lunch together, when lo, a magnificent basket of flowers from Mrs. D. and some candy from the party; papa and G. came home and we all fell to making ourselves sick....  I have bought lots of candy and little fancy cakes to put in the children’s stockings.  I know it is very improper, but one can’t be good always.  Dr. P. is sick with pneumonia.  Mrs. P. has just sent me a basket of fresh eggs, and an illustrated edition of Longfellow’s “Building of the Ship.”

25th.—­I wish you a Merry Christmas, darling, and wonder what you are all doing to celebrate this day.  We have had great times over our presents....  I got a note from Mr. Abbot saying that a friend of his in Boston had given away fourteen Katies, all he could get, and that the bookseller said he could have sold the last copy thirty times over.  Neither papa nor I feel quite up to the mark to-day; we probably got a little cold at Mrs. C.’s grave, as the wind blew furiously, and the hymn, and prayer, and benediction took quite a time.

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26th.—­Dr. P. is worse.  Papa has been to see him since church, and Dr. B., who was there, said that Dr. Murray quoted from Katy in his sermon to-day, and then pausing long enough to attract everybody’s attention, he said he wished each of them to procure and read it.  I hope you and Mrs. Smith won’t get sick hearing about it; I assure you I don’t tell you half I might. Evening.—­Mr. C. has been here this evening to show us a poem by his wife, just come out in the January number of the Sabbath at Home, in which she asks the New Year what it has in store for her, and says if it is death, it is only going home the sooner.  Neither he, or anyone, had seen it or heard of it, and it came to them with overwhelming power and consolation as the last utterance of her Christian faith. [1]

Dec. 30th, 1869.—­Your letter came yesterday morning, after breakfast, and was read to an admiring audience of Prentisses by papa, who occasionally called for counsel as to this word and that.  We like the plan made for the winter, and hope it will suit all round.  You had such a grand birth-day that I don’t see what there was left for Christmas, and hope you got nothing but a leather button.  My Percys end to-day, and I am shocked at the wretched way in which I ended them.  I wish you would buy a copy of Griseldis for me.  Why don’t you tell what you are reading?  I got for M.  “A Sister’s Bye Hours,” by Jean Ingelow, and find it a delightful book; such lots of quiet humor and so much good sense and good feeling; you girls would enjoy reading it aloud together.

Jan. 3d, 1870.—­You will want to hear all about New Year’s day, and where shall I begin unless at the end thereof, when your and Mrs. Smith’s letters came, and which caused papa ungraciously to leave me to entertain, while he greedily devoured them and his dinner.  In spite of rain we had a steady flow of visitors.  I will enclose a list for your delectation, for as reading a cook-book sort of feeds one, reading familiar names sort of comforts one.  Mr. ——­ was softer and more languishing than ever, and appeared like a man who had been fed on honey off the tips of a canary bird’s feather....  Papa and I agreed, talking it over last evening, that it is a bad plan for husbands and wives not to live and die together, as the one who is left is apt to cut up.  He hinted that I was “so fond of admiration” that he was afraid I should, if he died.  On questioning him as to what he meant by this abominable speech, he said he meant to pay me a compliment!!! that he thought me very susceptible when people loved me and very fond of being loved—­which I am by him; all other men I hate.  My cousin G. dined with us on Friday and took me to the meeting held annually at Dr. Adams’ church.  I like him ever so much, though he is a man.  G. has brought me in some dandelions from the church-yard.  We have not had one day of severe cold yet, and there is a great deal of sickness about in consequence.

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Friday.—­I spent a part of last evening in writing an article about Mrs. C.’s poem for the Sabbath at Home, and have a little fit of indigestion as my reward.  Have been to see my sick woman with jelly and consolation, and from there to Mrs. D., who gave me a beautiful account of Mrs. Coming’s last days and of her readiness and gladness to go.  I was at the meeting at Dr. Rogers’ yesterday afternoon and heard old Dr. Tyng for the first time, and he spoke beautifully....  Well, Chi Alpha [2] is over; we had a very large attendance and the oysters were burnt.  It is dreadfully trying when Maria never once failed before to have them so extra nice.  Dr. Hall came and told me he had been sending copies of Fred and Maria and Me to friends in Ireland.  Martha and Jane, and M. and H. were all standing in a row together when the parsons come out to tea, and one of them marched up to the row, saying to papa, Are these your children? when Martha and Jane made a precipitate retreat into the pantry.  Good-night, darling; lots of love to Mrs. Smith and all of them.  Your affectionate “Marm-er.”

11th.—­Yours came to-day, and papa and I had a brief duel with hair-pins and pen-knives as to which should read it aloud to the other, and I beat.  I should have enjoyed Eigensinn, I am sure; you know I have read it in German....  The children all three are lovely, and what with them and papa and other things my cup is running over tremendously.  I have just heard that a poor woman I have been to see a few times, died this morning.  I always came away from her crestfallen, thinking I was the biggest poke in a sick-room there ever was, but she sent me a dying message that quite comforted me.  She had once lived in plenty, but was fearfully destitute, and I fear she and her family suffered for want of common necessaries.

Thursday.—­I had an early and a long call from one of our church, who wanted to tell me, among other things, that her husband scolded her for bumping her head in the night; she wept and I condoled; she went away at last smiling.  Then I went to the sewing circle and idled about till one; then I had several calls.  Then papa and I went out to make a lot of calls.  Then came a note from a sick lady, whom I shall go to see in spite of my horror of strangers.  Papa got a letter from Prof.  Smith which gave us great pleasure.  Z. was here yesterday; I asked her to stay to lunch, bribing her with a cup of tea, and so she stayed and we had a real nice time; when she went away I told her I was dead in love with her.

Friday Evening.—­The children have all gone to bed; M. and G. have been reading all the evening; M. busy on Miss Alcott’s “Little Women,” and G. shaking his sides over old numbers of the Riverside.  Papa says our house ought to have a sign put out, “Souls cured here”; because so many people come to tell their troubles.  People used to do just so to my mother, and I suppose always do to parsons’ wives if they’ll let ’em.

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Monday.—­Papa preached delightfully yesterday.  Mr. B. took a pew and Mr. I don’t know who took another.  Your letter came this morning and was full of interesting things.  I hope Mrs. S. will send me her own and Jean Ingelow’s verses.  What fun to get into a correspondence with her!  I have had an interesting time to-day.  Dr. Skinner lent me some months ago a little book called “God’s Furnace”; I didn’t like it at first, but read it through several times and liked it better and better each time.  And to-day Mrs. ——­ brought the author to spend a few hours (she lives out of town), and we three black-eyed women had a remarkable time together.  There is certainly such a thing as a heaven below, only it doesn’t last as the real heaven will.  We had Mr. C. to tea last night; after tea he read us three poems of his wife, and papa was weak enough to go and read him some verses of mine, which he ought not to have done till I am dead and gone.  Then he played and sang with the children, and we had prayers, and I read scraps to him and papa from Faber’s “All for Jesus” and Craig’s Memoir.  M. is lying on the sofa studying, papa is in his study, the boys are hazing about; it snows a little and melts as it falls, and so, with love to all, both great and small, I am your loving “ELDERLY LADY WITH GREY PUFFS.”

February 8th, 1870.—­We are having a tremendous snow-storm for a wonder.  I started out this morning with G., and when we got to the Fifth avenue clock he found he should be late unless he ran, and I was glad to let him go and turn back to meet M., who had heavy books besides her umbrella.  The wind blew furiously, my umbrella broke and flew off in a tangent, and when I got it, it turned wrong side out and I came near ascending as in a balloon; M. soon came in sight and I convoyed her safely to school.  Mrs. ——­ told a friend of ours that Mr. and Mrs. Prentiss really enjoyed Mrs. C——­’s death, and they seemed destitute of natural affection; and that as for Mrs. P. it was plain she had never suffered in any way.  Considering the tears we both shed over Mrs. C., and some other little items in our past history, we must set Mrs. ——­ down as wiser than the ancients.

Sunday Evening.—­Yesterday Lizzy B. came to say that her mother was “in a gully” and wanted me to come and pull her out.  I went and found her greatly depressed, and felt sure it was all physical, and not a case for special spiritual pulling.  So I coaxed her, laughed at her, and cheered her all I could.  She said she had been “a solemn pig” for a week, in allusion to some pictures Dr. P. had drawn for her and for me illustrating the solemn pig and the jolly pig.  Mr. Randolph has sent up a letter from a man in Nice whose wife wants to translate Katy into French.  I sent word they might translate it into Hottentot for all me.  Good-night, my dear, I am sound asleep.

Your affectionate Mother PRENTISS.

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Tuesday.—­On Sunday papa preached a sermon in behalf of the Mission, asking for $35,000 to build a chapel, for which Mr. Cady had made a plan.  I got greatly stirred up, as I hope everybody did.  Mr. Dodge will give one-quarter of the sum needed.  It is Washington’s birthday, and the children are all at home from school, and are at the dining-room table drawing maps.  Mr. and Mrs. G. called, but I was out seeing a poor woman, whose romance of love and sorrow I should like to tell you about if it would not fill a book.  She says Bishop S. has supported her and her three children for seven months out of his own pocket.

Saturday, Feb. 26th.—­Your two last letters, together with Mrs. Smith’s, were all in the box as I was starting with M. for her music.  My children pulled in opposite directions, but I pushed on, and papa saved the letters to read to me when I got back.  He reads them awfully, and will puzzle over a word long enough for me to have leisure to go crazy and recover my sanity.  However, nobody shall make fun of him save myself; so look out.  The boys have gone skating to-day for the third time this winter, there has been so little cold weather.

Sunday Evening.—­I did not mean to plague you with Stepping Heavenward any more, but we have had a scene to-day which will amuse you and Mrs. Smith.  Just before service began, an aristocratic-looking lady seated in front of Mrs. B. began to talk to her, whereupon Mrs. B. turned round and announced to the congregation that I was the subject of it by pointing me out, and then getting up and bringing her to our pew.  Once there, she seized me by the hand and said, “I am Mrs. ——.  I have just read your book and been carried away with it.  I knew your husband thirty-three years ago, and have come here to see you both,” etc., etc.  Finding she could get nothing out of me, she fell upon M., and asked her if I was her sister, which M. declared I was not.  After church I invited her to step into the parsonage, and she stepped in for an hour and told this story:  She had had the book lent her, and yesterday, lunching at Mrs. A.’s, asked her if she had read it, and finding she had not, made her promise to get it.  She then asked who this E. Prentiss was, and a lady present enlightened her.  “What! my sister’s beloved Miss Payson, and married to George Prentiss, my old friend!!  I’ll go there to church to-morrow and see for myself.”  So it turns out that she was a Miss ——­, of Mississippi; that your father gallanted her to Louisville, when she was going there to be married at sixteen years of age; that she was living in Richmond at the time I was teaching there, her sister boarding in the house with me.  Such talking, such life and enthusiasm you never saw in a woman of forty-eight!  “Well,” she winds up at last, “I’ve found two treasures, and you needn’t think I’m going to let you go.  I’ll go home and tell Mr. ——­ all about it.”  Papa and I have called each other “two treasures”

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ever since she went away.  The whole scene worked him up and did him good, for he always loves to have his Southern friends drum him up and talk to him of your Uncle Seargent and Aunt Anna.  Mr. ——­ is one of our millionaires, and she married him a year ago after thirteen years of widowhood.  She says she still has 200 “negroes,” who won’t go away and won’t work, and she has them to support.  She talked very rationally about the war, and says not a soul at the South would have slavery back if they could....  I called at Mrs. B.’s yesterday—­at exactly the right moment, she said; for five surgeons had just decided that the operation had been a failure, and that she must die.  Her husband looked as white as this paper, and the girls were in great distress, but Mrs. B. looked perfectly radiant.

Saturday, March 5th.—­Yesterday I went to make a ghostly call on Mrs. B., and kept her and the girls screaming with laughter for an hour, which did me lots of good, and I hope did not hurt them.  I have written the 403d page of my serial to-day, and hope it is the last.  It will soon be time to think of the spring shopping.  I don’t know what any of us need, and never notice what people are wearing unless I notice by going forth on a tour of observation.

Sunday Evening.—­After church this afternoon Mrs. N. and Mrs. V. came in to tell us about the death of that servant of theirs, whom they nursed in their own house, who has been dying for seven months, of cancer.  She died a most fearless, happy death, and I wish I knew I should be as patient in my last illness as they represent her as being.  Your letters to the children came yesterday afternoon to their great delight.  In an evil moment I told the boys that I had seen it stated, in some paper, that benzole would make paper transparent, and afterwards evaporate and leave the paper uninjured.  They drove me raving distracted with questions about it, so that I had to be put in a strait-jacket.  The ingenuity and persistence of these questions, asked by each, in separate interviews, was beyond description.

Tuesday.—­For once I have been caught napping, and have not mailed my weekly letter.  But you will be expecting some irregularity about the time of your flight to Berlin.  I called at Mrs. M.’s to-day, and ran on at such a rate that Mrs. Woolsey, who was there, gave me ten dollars for poor folks, and said she wished I’d stay all day.  Afterwards I went down town to get Stepping Heavenward for Mr. C., and as he wanted me to write something in it, have just written this:  “Mr. C. from Mrs. Prentiss, in loving memory of one who ‘did outrun’ us, and stepped into heaven first.”  Mr. Bates showed me a half-column notice of it in the Liberal Christian, [3] of all places! by very far the warmest and best of all that have appeared.  Papa is at Dr. McClintock’s funeral.  I declare, if it isn’t snowing again, and the sun is shining!  Now comes a letter from Uncle Charles, saying that your Uncle H. has

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lost that splendid little girl of his; the only girl he ever had, and the child of his heart of hearts.  Mrs. W. says she never saw papa and myself look so well, but some gentleman told Mr. Brace, who told his wife, who told me, that I was killing myself with long walks.  I can not answer your questions about Mr. ——­’s call.  So much is all the time going on that one event speedily effaces the impression of another.

March 12th.—­Julia Willis spent the evening here not long ago, and made me laugh well.  She took me on Friday to see Fanny Fern, who hugged and kissed me, and whom it was rather pleasant to see after nearly, if not quite, thirty years’ separation.  She says nobody but a Payson could have written Stepping Heavenward, which is absurd. March 17th.—­I went to the sewing circle [4] and helped tuck a quilt, had a talk with Mrs. W., got home at a quarter of one and ate two apples, and have been since then reading the secret correspondence of Madame Guyon and Fenelon in old French.

Saturday, 19th.—­Have just seen M. to the Conservatory; met Dr. Skinner on the way home, who said he had been reading Stepping Heavenward, and he hoped he should step all the faster for it.  Z. has often invited us to come to see her new home, and as the 16th comes on a Saturday, we are talking a little of all going up to lunch with her. Evening.—­It has been such a nice warm day.  I had a pleasant call from Mrs. Dr. ——.  She asked me if I did not get the theology of Stepping Heavenward out of my father’s “Thoughts,” but as I have not read them for thirty years, I doubt if I did, and as I am older than my father was when he uttered those thoughts, I have a right to a theology of my own.

Monday.—­Yesterday, in the afternoon, we had the Sunday-school anniversary, which went off very well.  Mr. C. came to tea; after it and prayers, we sat round the table and I read scraps from Madame Guyon and Fenelon, and we talked them over.  Papa was greatly pleased at the latter’s saying he often stopped in the midst of his devotions to play.

Quand je suis seul, je joue quelquefois comme un petit enfant, meme en faisant oraison.  Il m’arrive quelquefois de sauter et de rire tout seul comme un fou dans ma chambre.  Avant-hier, etant dans la sacristie et repondant a une personne qui me questionnait, pour ne la point scandaliser sur la question, je m’embarrassai, et je fis une espece de mensonge; cela me donna quelque repugnance a dire la Messe, mais je ne laissai pas de la dire.

I do not advise you to stop to play in the midst of your prayers, or to tell “une espece de mensonge!” till you are as much of a saint as he was. [5]

Saturday, 26th.—­Your letter and Mrs. Smith’s came together this afternoon.  It is pleasant to hear from papa’s old friends at Halle, and he will be delighted, when he comes home from Chi Alpha, where he is now.  Lizzy B. called this afternoon; she wanted to open out her poor sick heart to me.  She quoted to me several things she says I wrote her a few weeks ago, but I have not the faintest recollection of writing them.  That shows what a harum-scarum life I lead.

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March 31st.—­We spent Tuesday evening at the Skinners.  We had a charming visit; no one there but Mrs. Sampson and her sister, and Dr. S. wide awake and full of enthusiasm.  We did not get to bed till midnight.  Mrs. ——­ came this morning and begged me to lend her some money, as she had got behindhand.  I let her have five dollars, though I do not feel sure that I shall see it again, and she wept a little weep, and went away.  A lady told cousin C. she had heard I was so shy that once having promised to go to a lunch party, my courage failed at the last moment, so that I could not go.  I shall expect to learn next that my hair is red.

Monday, April 4th.—­Your presents came Saturday while I was out.  We are all delighted with them, but I was most so, for two such darling little vases were surely never before seen.  M. had Maggie to spend Saturday afternoon and take tea.  She asked me if I did not make a distinction between talent and genius, which papa thought very smart of her.  I read aloud to them all the evening one of the German stories by Julius Horn.  Mr. and Mrs. C. came in after church and I asked them to stay to tea, which they did.  After it was over, and we had had prayers, we had a little sing, Mrs. C. playing, and among other things, sang a little hymn of mine which I wrote I know not when, but which papa liked well enough to have printed.  If copies come to-day, as promised, I will enclose one or two.  After the singing papa and I took turns, as we could snatch a chance from each other, in reading to them from favorite books, which they enjoyed very much.

April 9th.—­We called on Mrs. H. M. Field yesterday, and I never saw (or rather heard) her so brilliant.  In the evening I read aloud to the children a real live, wide-awake Sunday-school book, called “Old Stories in a New Dress”; Bible stories, headed thus:  “The Handsome Rebel,” “The Young Volunteer,” “The Ingenious Mechanics.”

April 16th.—­I can not go to bed, my dear chicken, till I have told you what a charming day we have had.  To go back to yesterday, my headache entirely disappeared by the time the Skinners got here, and we had a pleasant cosy evening with them, and at the end made Dr. Skinner pray over us....  Everything went off nicely.  The children enjoyed the trip tremendously, and hated to come away.  We picked a lot of “filles avant la mere” and they came home in good condition.  Mr. Woolsey and Z. gave me a little silver figure holding a cup, on blue velvet, which is ever so pretty.  We got home at half-past six.  Later in the evening President Hopkins called to offer his congratulations.  And now I am tired, I can tell you.  It is outrageous for you and the Smiths to be away; I don’t see how you can have the heart.  You ought to come by dispatch as telegrams.

17th.—­Dr. Hopkins preached a splendid sermon [6] for us this morning, and came in after it for a call.  He asked me last night if I felt conceited about my book; so I said to him, “I like to give people as good as they send—­don’t you feel a little conceited after that sermon?” on which he gave me a good shaking.

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18th.—­I have been writing notes of thanksgiving, each of which dear papa reads through rose-colored spectacles and says, “You do beat all!” I have enjoyed writing them, instead of finding it a bore.  We shall be curious to hear how you celebrated our wedding-day.  Well, good-bye, old child.  I shall begin another letter to-day, as like as not.

Monday, April 25th.—­Friday morning, in the midst of my plans for helping Aunt E. shop, came a message from Mrs. B. that she wanted to see me.  I had not expected to see her again, and of course was glad to go.  She had altered so that I should not have known her, and it was hard to hear what she had to say, she is so feeble.  She went back to the first time she saw me, told me what I had on, and how her heart was knitted to me.  She then spoke of her approaching death; said she had no ecstasies, no revelations, but had been in perfect peace, suffering agonies of pain, yet not one pain too many.  I asked her if she had any parting counsel to give me.  “No, not a word; I only wanted to see your sunny face once more, and tell you what a comfort you have been to me in this sickness.”  This all came at intervals, she was so weak.  She afterward said, “I feel as if I never was acquainted with Christ till now.  I tell my sons to become INTIMATELY ACQUAINTED with Him.”  I asked her if she took pleasure in thinking of meeting friends in heaven.  With a sweet, somewhat comical smile, she said, “No, I haven’t got so far as that.  I think only of meeting Christ.”  “For all that,” I said, “you will soon see my father and mother and other kindred souls.”  Her face lighted up again.  “Why, so I shall!” Her lips were growing white with pain while this bright smile was on them, and I came away, though I should gladly have listened to her by the hour, everything was so natural, sound, and-heavenly.  Shopping after it did not prove particularly congenial; but we must shop, as well as die.

April 29th.—­Your first Dresden letter has just come; yes, it was long enough, though you did not tell us how the cat did.  You speak as if you were going to Paris, but papa is positive you are not.  Yesterday was a lovely day, though very hot.  Dr. Adams came and drove papa to the Park.  Late in the afternoon I went to see Mrs. G., the woman whose husband is in jail.  She is usually all in a muss, but this time was as nice as could be, the floor clean and everything in order.  The baby, a year old, had learned to walk since I was last there, and came and planted herself in front of me, and stared at me out of two great bright eyes most of the time.  I had a nice visit, as Mrs. G. seems to be making a good use of her troubles.  After I got home, Dr. and Mrs. C. arrived and we had dinner and a tremendous thunder shower, after which he went out to make forty-’leven calls.  He was pleased to say that he wanted his wife to see the lovely family picture we make!  It is a glum, cold, lowering morning, but the C.’s are going to see the Frenches at West Point, and Miss Lyman at Vassar.

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Monday.—­I went to Miss C.’s (the dressmaker) again to-day, and found her much out of health, and about reducing her business and moving.  One of the old sisters had been reading Stepping Heavenward, and almost ate me up.  I got a pleasant word about it last night, from Mrs. General Upton, who has just died at Nassau.  I have seen Mrs. B. to-day; she did not open her eyes, but besought me to pray for her release.  She can’t last long.  The boys are off rolling hoop again, and M. is out walking with Ida.  Papa informed me last night that I had got a very pretty bonnet.  The bonnets now consist of a little fuss and a good many flowers.  Papa has gone to Dorset, and has had a splendid day for his journey.

Thursday, May 12th.—­Yesterday Miss ——­ came to tell me about the killing of her brother on the railroad, and to cry her very heart out on my shoulder.  In the midst of it came a note from Lizzy B., saying her mother had just dropped away.  I called there early this morning.  We then went to the Park with your uncle and aunt; after which they left and I rushed out to get cap and collar to wear at Mrs. ——­’s dinner.  I got back in time to go to the funeral at four P.M.  Dr. Murray made an excellent, appreciative address; papa then read extracts from a paper of mine (things she had said), the prayer followed, and then her sons sang a hymn. [7] I came home tired and laid me down to rest; at half-past six it popped into my head that I was not dressed, and I did it speedily.  We supposed we were only to meet the Rev. Dr. and Mrs. ——­, of Brooklyn, but, lo! a lot of people in full dress.  We had a regular state dinner, course after course.  Dr. ——­ sat next me and made himself very agreeable, except when he said I was the most subtle satirist he ever met (I did run him a little).  Mrs. ——­ is a picture.  She had a way of looking at me through her eyeglass till she put me out of countenance, and then smiling in a sweet, satisfied manner, and laying down her glass.  We came home as soon as the gentlemen left the table, and got here just as the clock was striking twelve.

Friday.—­We began this day by going at ten A.M. to the funeral of Mrs. W.’s poor little baby, and the first words papa read, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to the house of feasting,” etc., explained his and my state of mind after last night’s dissipation.  He made a very touching address.  Later in the day we went out to see Miss ——­, as we had promised to do.  We went through the Park, lingered there a while, and then went on and made a long call.  When we rose to come away, she said she never let people go away without lunch and made us go down to the following:  buns, three kinds of cake, pies, doughnuts, cheese, lemonade, apples, oranges, pine-apples, a soup tureen of strawberries, a quart of cream, two custard puddings, one hot and one cold, home-made wine, cold corned beef, cold roast beef, and for aught I know 40 other things.  We came away awfully tired, and papa complained of want of appetite at dinner!!  Good-bye, dearie.  I forgot to tell you the boys have got a dog.  He came of his own accord and has made them very happy.  We haven’t let papa see him, you may depend.

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Wed., May 18th.—­Papa is packing his trunk for Philadelphia, and I am sitting at my new library table to write on my letter.  I went yesterday to see that lady who has fits.  She had one in the morning that lasted over an hour and a half.  She is a very bright, animated creature and does not look older than you.

Thursday.—­Papa got off yesterday at eleven for the General Assembly and I went to Mrs. D.’s and stayed four hours.  She sent for Mr. S.’s baby, who does not creep, but walks in the quaintest little way.  I shall write a note to Mr. S., who feels anxious at its not creeping, fearing its limbs will not be strong, to tell him that I hitched along exactly so.

Now let me give you the history of this busy day.  We got up early and Miss F. called with M.’s two dresses.  After prayers and breakfast I wrote to papa, went to school with H., and marketed.  Came home and found a letter from Cincinnati, urging for two hymns right away for a new hymn-book.  They had several of mine already.  I said, “Go to, let us make a hymn” (Prof.  Smith in his Review) and made and sent them.  Then I wrote to Mr. S. and to Mrs. Charles W——. [8] Then Mrs. C. came and stayed till nearly four, when she left and I went down to Twenty-second street to call on a lady at the Water Cure.  Then I went to see Mrs. C. (the wife of the Rev. Mr. C.).  I think I told you she had lost her little Florence.  I do not remember ever seeing a person so broken down by grief; she seemed absolutely heart-broken.  I could not get away till five, and then I took two stages and got home as soon as I could, knowing the children would be famishing.  So now count up my various professions, chaplain, marketer, hymnist, consoler of Mr. S., Mrs. W., Mrs. C., and let me add, of Dr. B., who came and made a long call.  I am now going to lie down and read till I get rested, for my brain has been on the steady stretch for thirteen hours, one thing stepping on the heels of another. [9]

May 23d.—­If your eyes were bright enough you might have seen me and my cousin George P——­ tearing down Broadway this afternoon, as if mad dogs were after us.  He wanted me to have a fountain pen, and the only way to accomplish it was to take me down to the place where they are sold, below the Astor House.  I wanted to walk, and so did he, but he had got to be on a boat for Norwich at five P.M. and pack up between while; however, he concluded to risk it, hence the way we raced was a caution.  I have just written him a long letter in rhyme with my new pen, and now begin one in prose to you.  I have just got a letter from an anonymous admirer of Stepping Heavenward, enclosing ten dollars to give away; I wish it was a thousand!  The children are in tribulation about their kitten, who committed suicide by knocking the ironing-board on to herself.  H. made a diagram of the position of the board that I might fully comprehend the situation, and then showed me how the corpse lay.  They were not willing to part with the remains, and buried them in the yard.

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Saturday.—­I went to Yonkers with M. and H. to spend the day with Mrs. B. Her children are sweet and interesting as ever; but little Maggie, now three years old, is the “queen of the house.”  She is a perfect specimen of what a child should be—­gladsome, well, bright, and engaging.  Her cheeks are rosy and shining, and she keeps up an incessant chatter.  They are all wild about her, from papa and mamma down to the youngest child.

* * * * *


Home-Life in Dorset.

DORSET, June 10, 1870.

Here we are again in dear old Dorset.  We got here about ten on Wednesday evening, expecting to find the house dark and forlorn, but Mrs. F. had been down and lighted it up, and put on the dining-table bread, biscuits, butter, cakes, eggs, etc., enough to last for days.  Thursday was hotter than any day we had had in New York, and not very good, therefore, for the hard work of unpacking, and the yet harder work of sowing our flower-seeds in a huge bed shaped like a palm-leaf.  But, with M.’s help, it was done before one o’clock to-day—­a herculean task, as the ground had to be thoroughly dug up with a trowel; stones, sticks, and roots got out, and the earth sifted in our hands.  The back of my neck and my ears are nearly blistered.  M. is standing behind me now anointing me with cocoa butter.  Our place looks beautifully.  Some of the trees set out are twelve or fifteen feet high, and when fully leaved will make quite a show.  Papa is to be here about ten days, as he greatly needs the rest; he will then go home till July 1st, when he will bring Jane and Martha.  I told Martha I thought it very good of Maria to be willing to come with me, and she said she did not think it needed much goodness, and that anybody would go with me anywhere.  The boys have a little black and tan dog which Culyer gave them, and M.’s bird is a fine singer.  Our family circle now consists of

Pa Prentiss, Ma " Min.”  Geo. " Hen. " Maria " (horse) Coco " (cow) Sukey " (dog) Nep " (bird) Cherry "

We never saw Dorset so early, and when the foliage was in such perfection.

Last Tuesday I reached our door perfectly and disgracefully loaded with parcels, and said to myself, “I wonder what Mr. M. would say if he saw me with this load?” when instantly he opened the door to let me in!  Account for this if you can.  Why should I have thought of him among all the people I know?  Did his mind touch mine through the closed door?  It makes me almost shudder to think such things can be.  Well, I must love and leave you.  I am going to have a small basket on the table in the hall with ferns, mosses, and shells in it.  They all send love from Pa Prentiss down to Sukey.  What a pity you could not come home for the summer and go back again!  I believe I’ll go to your bedroom door and say, “I wonder whether Annie would shriek out if she saw me in this old sacque, instead of her pretty one?” and perhaps you’ll open and let me in.  Will you or won’t you?  Now I’m going to ride.

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I’ve been and I’ve got back, and I’m frozen solid, and am glad I’ve got back to my den.  G. and H. are now in the kitchen making biscuits.  Good-bye, chicken.  Mamma PRENTISS.

June 12th.—­Everybody is in bed save Darby and Joan.  We slept last night under four blankets and a silk comforter, which will give you a faint idea of the weather.  It has been beautiful to-day, and we have sat out of doors a good deal.  Papa and the boys went out to our hill after tea last evening and picked two quarts of strawberries, so as to have a short-cake to-day.  M. took me yesterday to see a nest in the orchard which was full of birds parted into fours—­not a crack between, and one of them so crowded that it filled about no space at all.  The hymn says, “Birds in their little nests agree,” and I should think they would, for they have no room to disagree in.  They all four stared at us with awful, almost embarrassing solemnity, and each had a little yellow moustache.  I had no idea they lived packed in so—­no wonder they looked melancholy.  The sight of them, especially of the one who had no room at all, made me quite low-spirited.

Wednesday.—­Your letter reached us on Monday, and we all went out and sat in a row on the upper step, like birds on a telegraph wire, and papa read it aloud.  I am lying by to-day—­writing, reading, lounging, and enjoying the scenery.  You ought to see papa eat strawberries!!!  They are very plentiful on our hill.  The grass on the lawn is pricking up like needles; easy to see if you kneel down and stare hard, but absolutely invisible otherwise; yet papa keeps calling me to look out of the window and admire it, and shouts to people driving by to do the same.  He has just come in, and I told him what I was saying about him, on which he gave me a good beating, doubled up his fist at me, and then kissed me to make up.... Don’t sew Isn’t it enough that I have nearly killed myself with doing it?  We have just heard of the death of Dickens and the sensation it is making in England.

Thursday.—­This bird of ours is splendid.  I have just framed the two best likenesses of you and hung them up in front of my table.  You would laugh at papa’s ways about coffee.  He complains that he drank too much at Philadelphia, and says that with strawberries we don’t need it, and that I may tell Maria so.  I tell her, and lo! the next morning there it is.  I ask the meaning, and she says he came down saying I did not feel very well and needed it!  The next day it appears again.  Why?  He had been down and ordered it because it was good.  The next day he orders it because it is his last day here but one, and to-morrow it will be on the table because it is the last!  Dreadful man! and yet I hate to have him go.

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Friday.—­I drove papa to Manchester, and as usual, this exploit brought on a thunder shower, with a much needed deluge of rain.  I had a hard time getting home, and got wet to the skin.  I had not only to drive, but keep a roll of matting from slipping out, hold up the boot and the umbrella, and keep stopping to get my hat out of my eyes, which kept knocking over them.  Then Coco goes like the wind this summer.  Fortunately I had my waterproof with me and got home safely.  The worst of it is that, in my bewilderment, I refused to let a woman get in who was walking to South Dorset.  I shall die of remorse..  Well, well, how it is raining, to be sure.

Monday.—­I hear that papa sent a dispatch to somebody to know how I got here from Manchester.  I do not wonder he is worried.  I am such a poor driver, and it rained so dreadfully.  M. follows me round like a little dog; if I go down cellar she goes down; if I pick a strawberry she picks one; if I stop picking she stops.  She is the sweetest lamb that ever was, and I am the Mary that’s got her.  I don’t believe anybody else in the world loves me so well, unless it possibly is papa, and he doesn’t follow me down cellar, and goes off and picks strawberries all by himself, and that on Sunday, too, when I had forbidden berrypicking!  We are rioting in strawberries, just as we did last summer.  We live a good deal at sixes and sevens, but nobody cares.  This afternoon I have been arranging a basket for the hall table, with mosses, ferns, shells and white coral; ever so pretty.

Wednesday.—­It is a splendid day and I expect papa.  The children have not said a word about their food, though partly owing to no butcher and partly to the heat, I have had for two days next to nothing; picked fish one day and fish picked the next.  We regarded to-day’s dinner as a most sumptuous one, and I am sure Victoria’s won’t taste so good to her.  Letters keep pouring in, urging papa to accept the Professorship at Chicago, and declaring the vote of the Assembly to be the voice of God.  Of course, if he must accept, we should have to give up our dear little home here.  But to me his leaving the ministry would be the worst thing about it.  After dinner the boys carried me off bodily to see strawberries and other plants; then they made me go to the mill, and by that time I had no hair-pins on my head, to say nothing of hair.  The boys are working away like all possessed.  A little bird, probably one of those hatched here, has just come and perched himself on the piazza, railing in front of me, and is making me an address which, unfortunately, I do not understand....  You have inherited from me a want of reverence for relics and the like.  I wouldn’t go as far as our barn to see the fig-leaves Adam and Eve wore, or all the hair of all the apostles; and when people are not born hero-worshippers, they can’t even worship themselves as heroes.  Fancy Dr. Schaff sending me back the MS. of a hymn I gave him, from a London printing-office!  What could I do with it? cover jelly with it?  He sent me a beautiful copy of his book, “Christ in Song.”

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Thursday, June 30th.—­Papa, with J. and M., came late last night, and we all made as great a time as if the Great Mogul had come.  They give a most terrific account of the heat in the city.  You ask how Stepping Heavenward is selling.  So far 14,000.  Nidworth has been a complete failure, though the publishers write me that it is a “gem.” [10]

Monday, July 4th.—­M. is so absorbed in the study of Vick’s floral catalogue that she speaks of seeing such a thing in the Bible or Dictionary, when she means that she saw it in Vick.  I did the same thing last night.  She and I get down on our knees and look solemnly at the bare ground and point out up-springing weeds as better than nothing.  I had a long call this morning from Mrs. F. Field, of East Dorset.  They had a dear little bright-eyed baby baptized yesterday, which sat through all the morning service and behaved even better than I did, for it had no wandering thoughts.  Mrs. F. said some friends of hers in Brooklyn received letters from France and from Japan simultaneously, urging them to read Stepping Heavenward, which was the first they heard of it.  We have celebrated the glorious Fourth by making and eating ice-cream.  Papa brought a new-fashioned freezer, that professed to freeze in two minutes.  We screwed it to the wood-house floor—­or rather H. did—­put in the cream, and the whole family stood and watched papa while he turned the handle.  At the end of two minutes we unscrewed the cover and gazed inside, but there were no signs of freezing, and to make a long story short, instead of writing a book as I said I should, there we all were from half-past twelve to nearly two o’clock, when we decided to have dinner and leave the servants to finish it.  It came on to the table at last, was very rich and rather good.  The boys spent the afternoon in the woods firing off crackers.  M. went visiting and papa took me to drive, it being a delightful afternoon.  The boys have a few Roman candles which they are going to send off as soon as it gets dark enough.

July 13th.—­This is a real Dorset day, after a most refreshing rain, and M. and I have kept out of doors the whole morning, gardening and in the woods.  Dr. and Mrs. Humphrey came down and spent last evening.  She is bright and wide awake, and admired everything from the scenery out of doors to the matting and chintzes within.  I told her there was nothing in the house to be compared with those who lived in it.  Here comes a woman with four quarts of black raspberries and a fuss to make change.  Papa and the boys are getting in the last hay with Albert.  M. has just brought in your letter.  We are glad you have seen those remarkable scenes [at Ober-Ammergau].One would fancy it would become an old story.  I should not like to see the crucifixion; it must be enough to turn one’s hair white in a single night.

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Saturday.—­Yesterday I went with the children to walk round Rupert.  We turned off the road to please the boys, to a brook with a sandy beach, where all three fell to digging wells, and I fell to collecting wild grape-vine and roots for my rustic work, and fell into the brook besides.  We all enjoyed ourselves so much that we wished we had our dinners and could stay all day.  On the way home, just as we got near Col.  Sykes’, we spied papa with the phaeton, and all got in.  We must have cut a pretty figure, driving through the village; M. in my lap, G. in papa’s, and H. everywhere in general.

July 14th.—­Miss Vance was in last evening after tea, and says our lawn is getting on extremely well and that our seeds are coming up beautifully.  This greatly soothed M.’s and my own uneasy heart, as we had rather supposed the lawn ought to be a thick velvet, and the seeds we sowed two weeks ago up and blooming.  If vegetable corresponded to animal life, this would be the case.  Fancy that what were eggs long after we came here, and then naked birds, are now full-fledged creatures on the wing, all off getting to housekeeping, each on his own hook!

July 18th.—­M. and I went on a tramp this forenoon and while we were gone Mrs. M. O. R. and Mary and Mrs. Van W. called.  They brought news of the coming war.  Papa showed them all over the house, not excepting your room, which I think a perfect shame—­for the room looks forlorn.  I think men ought to be suppressed, or something done to them.  Maria told me she thought papa’s sermon Sunday was “ilegant.” 21st.—­I feel greatly troubled lest this dreadful war should cut us off from each other.  Mr. Butler writes that he does not see how people are to get home, and we do not see either.  Papa says it will probably be impossible to have the Evangelical Alliance.  And how prices of finery will go up!

July 27th.—­M.’s and my own perseverance at our flower-bed is beginning, at last, to be rewarded.  We have portulaccas, mignonette, white candy-tuft, nasturtiums, eutocas, etc.; and the morning-glories, which are all behindhand, are just beginning to bloom.  Never were flowers so fought for.  It is the lion and the unicorn over again.  I have nearly finished “Soll und Haben,” and feel more like talking German than English.  The Riverside Magazine has just come and completed my downfall, as it has a syllable left out of one of my verses, as has been the case with a hymn in the hymn-book at Cincinnati and one in the Association Monthly.  I am now fairly entitled to the reputation of being a jolty rhymster.  It has been a trifle cooler to-day and we are all refreshed by the change.

Friday.—­Papa read me last evening a nice thing about Stepping Heavenward from Dr. Robinson in Paris and a lady in Zurich, and I went to bed and slept the sleep of the just—­till daylight, when five hundred flies began to flap into my ears, up my nose, take nips off my face and hands, and drove me distracted.  They woke papa, too, but he goes to sleep between the pecks.

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August 4th.—­Tuesday I went on a tramp with M. and brought home a gigantic bracket.  We met papa as we neared the house, and he had had his first bath in his new tank at the mill, and was wild with joy, as were also the boys.  After dinner I made a picture frame of mosses, lichens, and red and yellow toadstools, ever so pretty; then proofs came, then we had tea, and then went and made calls.  Yesterday on a tramp with M., who wanted mosses, then home with about a bushel of ground-pine.  Every minute of the afternoon I spent in trimming the grey room with the pine and getting up my bracket, and now the room looks like a bower of bliss.  I was to go with M. on another tramp to-day, but it rains, and rain is greatly needed.  The heat in New York is said to exceed anything in the memory of man, something absolutely appalling.

Friday.—­Here I am on the piazza with Miss K. by my side, reading the Life of Faber.  She got here last night in a beautiful moonlight, and as I had not told her about the scenery, she was so enchanted with it on opening her blinds this morning, that she burst into tears.  I drove her round Rupert and took her into Cheney’s woods, and the boys invited us down to their workshop; so we went, and I was astonished to find that the bath-house is really a perfect affair, with two dressing-rooms and everything as neat as a pink.  Miss K. is charmed with everything, the cornucopias, natural brackets, crosses, etc., and her delusion as to all of us, whom she fancies saints and angels, is quite charming, only it won’t last.

13th.—­There is a good deal of sickness about the village.  I made wine-jelly for four different people yesterday, and the rest of the morning Miss K., Mrs. Humphrey, and myself sat on a shawl in our woods, talking.  We have had a tremendous rain, to our great delight, and the air is cooler, but the grasshoppers, which are like the frogs of Egypt, are not diminished, and are devouring everything.  I got a letter from cousin Mary yesterday, who says she has no doubt we shall get the ocean up here, somehow, and raise our own oysters and clams.

16th.—­Papa and I went to Manchester to-day to make up a lot of calls, and among other persons, we saw Mrs. C. of Troy, a bright-eyed old lady who was a schoolmate of my mother’s.  She could not tell me anything about her except that she was very bright and animated, and that I knew before.  Mrs. Wickham asked me to write some letters for a fair to be held for their church to-morrow; so I wrote three in rhyme, not very good.

August 20th.—­After dinner papa went to Manchester, taking both boys, and I went off with M. to Cheney’s woods, where we got baskets full of moss, etc., and had a good time.  The children are all wild on the subject of flowers and spend the evening studying the catalogues, which they ought to know by heart.  I wonder if I have told you how our dog hates to remember the Sabbath day to keep

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it holy?  The moment the church-bell begins to ring, no matter where he is, or how soundly asleep, he runs out and gazes in the direction of the church, and as the last stroke strikes, lifts his nose high in the air and sets up the most awful wails, howls, groans, despairing remonstrances you can imagine.  No games with the boys to-day—­no romps, no going to Manchester, everybody telling me to get off their Sunday clothes—­aow! aow! aow!

Dr. Adams’ house has been broken into and robbed, and so has Dr. Field’s.  Mrs. H. gave us the history of a conflict in Chicago between her husband and a desperate burglar armed with a dirk, who wanted, but did not get a large sum of money under his pillow; also, of his being garroted and robbed, and having next day sent him a purse of $150, two pistols, a slug, a loaded cane, and a watchman’s rattle.  Imagine him as going about loaded with all these things!  I never knew people who had met with such bewitching adventures, and she has the brightest way of telling them.

Papa has got a telegram from Dr. Schaff asking him to come on to his little Johnny’s funeral.  This death must have been very sudden, as Dr. Schaff wrote last Tuesday that his wife was sick, but said nothing of Johnny.  He is the youngest boy, about nine years old, I think, and you will remember they lost Philip, a beautiful child, born the same day as our G., the summer we were at Hunter.  When the despatch came papa and M. thought it was bad news about you, and I only thought of Mr. Stearns!  There is no accounting for the way in which the human mind works.  And now for bed, you sleepy head.

Monday.—­A splendid day, and we have all been as busy as bees, if not as useful,—­H. making a whip to chastise the cow with, M., Nep and myself collecting mosses and toadstools; of the latter I brought home 185!  We were out till dinner-time, and after dinner I changed the mosses in my baskets and jardinet, no small job, and M. spread out her treasures.  She has at last found her enthusiasm, and I am so glad not only to have found a mate in my tramps, but to see such a source of pleasure opening before her as woods, fields and gardens have always been to me.  We lighted this morning on what I supposed to be a horned-headed, ferocious snake, and therefore took great pleasure in killing.  It turned out to be a common striped snake that had got a frog partly swallowed, and its legs sticking out so that I took them to be horns.  Nep relieved his mind by barking at it.  I announced at dinner that I was going to send for Vick’s catalogue of bulbs, which news was received with acclamation.  The fact is, we all seem to be born farmers or florists; and unless you bring us home something in the agricultural line, I don’t know that you can bring us anything we would condescend to look at.  It is awful to read of the carnage going on in Europe.

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Aug. 27th.—­Papa got home Tuesday night.  Johnny Schaff’s death was from a fall; he left the house full of life and health, and in a few minutes was brought in insensible, and only lived half an hour....  I take no pleasure in writing you, because we feel that you are not likely to get my letters.  Still, I can not make up my mind to stop writing.  Never was a busier set of people than we.  In the evening I read to the children from the German books you sent them; am now on Thelka Von Grumpert’s, which is a really nice book.  I tell papa we are making an idol out of this place, but he says we are not.

Tuesday.—­We all set out to climb the mountain near Deacon Kellogg’s.  We snatched what we could for our dinner, and when we were ready to eat it, it proved to be eggs, bread and meat, cake, guava jelly, cider and water.  We enjoyed the splendid view and the dinner, and then papa and the boys went home, and M., Nep and myself proceeded to climb higher, Nep so affectionate that he tired me out hugging me with his “arms,” as H. calls them, and nearly eating me up, while M. was shaking with laughter at his silly ways.  We were gone from 10 A.M. to nearly 6 P.M., and brought home in baskets, bags, pockets and bosom, about thirty natural brackets, some very large and fearfully heavy.  One was so heavy that I brought it home by kicking it down the mountain.  I have just got some flower seeds for fall planting, and the children are looking them over as some would gems from the mine.

Thursday, September 1st.—­Your letter has come, and we judge that you have quite given up Paris; what a pity to have to do it!  We spent yesterday at Hager brook with Mrs. Humphrey and her daughters; papa drove us over in the straw wagon and came for us about 6 P.M.  We had lobster salad and marmalade, bread and butter and cake, and we roasted potatoes and corn, and the H.’s had a pie and things of that sort.  When they saw the salad they set up such shouts of joy that papa came to see what was the matter.  We had a nice time.  Today I have had proofs to correct and letters to write, and berries to dry, but not a minute to sit down and think, everybody needing me at once.  All are busy as bees and send lots of love.  Give ever so much to the Smiths.

September 8th.—­Here we are all sitting round the parlor table.  The last three days have each brought a letter from you, and to-day one came from Mrs. S. to me, and one from Prof.  S. to papa.  I have no doubt that the decision for you to return is a wise one and hope you will fall in with it cheerfully.  Dr. Schaff is here, and yesterday papa took him to Hager brook, and to-day to the quarries; splendid weather for both excursions, and Dr. S. seems to have enjoyed them extremely.  Last evening he read to us some private letters of Bismarck, which were very interesting and did him great credit in every way.  I had a long call from M. H. to-day; she looked as sweet as

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possible and I loaded her with flowers.  Papa is writing Mr. B. to thank him for a basket of splendid peaches he sent us to-day.  H. has just presented me with three pockets full of toadstools.  M. walked with me round Rupert square this afternoon, and we met a crazy woman who said she wondered I did not go into fits, and asked me why I didn’t.  In return I asked her where she lived, to which she replied, “In the world.”  We are all on the qui vive about the war news, especially Louis Napoleon’s downfall, and you may depend we are glad he has used himself up.  You can not bring anything to the children that will please them as seeds would.  It delights me to see them so interested in garden work.  Perhaps this will be my last letter.

Your loving Mammie.

* * * * *


Further Glimpses of her Dorset Life.

The following Recollections of Mrs. Prentiss by her friend, Mrs. Frederick Field, now of San Jose, California, afford additional glimpses of her home life in Dorset.  The picture is drawn in fair colors; but it is as truthful as it is fair: 

It was the first Sunday in September, 1866.  A quiet, perfect day among the green hills of Vermont; a sacramental Sabbath, and we had come seven miles over the mountain to go up to the house of the Lord.  I had brought my little two-months-old baby in my arms, intending to leave her during the service at our brother’s home, which was near the church.  I knew that Mrs. Prentiss was a “summer-boarder” in this home, that she was the wife of a distinguished clergyman, and a literary woman of decided ability; but it was before the “Stepping Heavenward” epoch of her life, and I had no very deep interest in the prospect of meeting her.  We went in at the hospitably open door, and meeting no one, sat down in the pleasant family living-room.  It was about noon, and we could hear cheerful voices talking over the lunch-table in the dining-room.  Presently the door opened, and a slight, delicate-featured woman, with beautiful large dark eyes, came with rapid step into the room, going across to the hall door; but her quick eye caught a glimpse of my little “bundle of flannel,” and not pausing for an introduction or word of preparatory speech, she came towards me with a beaming face and outstretched hands:—­

“O, have you a baby there?  How delightful!  I haven’t seen one for such an age,—­please, may I take it? the darling tiny creature!—­a girl?  How lovely!”

She took the baby tenderly in her arms and went on in her eager, quick, informal way, but with a bright little blush and smile,—­“I’m not very polite—­pray, let me introduce myself!  I’m Mrs. Prentiss, and you are Mrs. F—–­, I know.”

After a little more sweet, motherly comment and question over the baby,—­“a touch of nature” which at once made us “akin,” she asked, “Have you brought the baby to be christened?”

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I said, No, I thought it would be better to wait till she was a little older.

“O, no!” she pleaded, “do let us take her over to the church now.  The younger the better, I think; it is so uncertain about our keeping such treasures.”

I still objected that I had not dressed the little one for so public an occasion.

“O, never mind about that,” she said.  “She is really lovelier in this simple fashion than to be loaded with lace and embroidery.”  Then, her sweet face growing more earnest,—­“There will be more of us here to-day than at the next communion—­more of us to pray for her.

The little lamb was taken into the fold that day, and I was Mrs. Prentiss’ warm friend forevermore.  Her whole beautiful character had revealed itself to me in that little interview,—­the quick perception, the wholly frank, unconventional manner, the sweet motherliness, the cordial interest in even a stranger, the fervent piety which could not bear delay in duty, and even the quaint, original, forcible thought and way of expressing it, “There’ll be more of us here to pray for her to-day.”

For seven successive summers I saw more or less of her in this “Earthly Paradise,” as she used to call it, and once I visited her in her city home.  I have been favored with many of her sparkling, vivacious letters, and have read and re-read all her published writings; but that first meeting held in it for me the key-note of all her wonderfully beautiful and symmetrical character.

She brought to that little hamlet among the hills a sweet and wholesome and powerful influence.  While her time was too valuable to be wasted in a general sociability, she yet found leisure for an extensive acquaintance, for a kindly interest in all her neighbors, and for Christian work of many kinds.  Probably the weekly meeting for Bible-reading and prayer, which she conducted, was her closest link with the women of Dorset; but these meetings were established after I had bidden good-bye to the dear old town, and I leave others to tell how their “hearts burned within them as she opened to them the Scriptures.”

She had in a remarkable degree the lovely feminine gift of home-making.  She was a true decorative artist.  Her room when she was boarding, and her home after it was completed, were bowers of beauty.  Every walk over hill and dale, every ramble by brookside or through wildwood, gave to her some fresh home-adornment.  Some shy wildflower or fern, or brilliant-tinted leaf, a bit of moss, a curious lichen, a deserted bird’s-nest, a strange fragment of rock, a shining pebble, would catch her passing glance and reveal to her quick artistic sense possibilities of use which were quaint, original, characteristic.  One saw from afar that hers was a poet’s home; and, if permitted to enter its gracious portals, the first impression deepened into certainty.  There was as strong an individuality about her home, and especially about her own little study, as there was about herself and her writings.  A cheerful, sunny, hospitable Christian home!  Far and wide its potent influences reached, and it was a beautiful thing to see how many another home, humble or stately, grew emulous and blossomed into a new loveliness.

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Mrs. Prentiss was naturally a shy and reserved woman, and necessarily a pre-occupied one.  Therefore she was sometimes misunderstood.  But those who—­knew her best, and were blest with her rare intimacy, knew her as “a perfect woman nobly planned.”  Her conversation was charming.  Her close study of nature taught her a thousand happy symbols and illustrations, which made both what she said and wrote a mosaic of exquisite comparisons.  Her studies of character were equally constant and penetrating.  Nothing escaped her; no peculiarity of mind or manner failed of her quick observation, but it was always a kindly interest.  She did not ridicule that which was simply ignorance or weakness, and she saw with keen pleasure all that was quaint, original, or strong, even when it was hidden beneath the homeliest garb.  She had the true artist’s liking for that which was simple and genre.  The common things of common life appealed to her sympathies and called out all her attention.  It was a real, hearty interest, too—­not feigned, even in a sense generally thought praiseworthy.  Indeed, no one ever had a more intense scorn of every sort of feigning.  She was honest, truthful, genuine to the highest degree.  It may have sometimes led her into seeming lack of courtesy, but even this was a failing which “leaned to virtue’s side.”  I chanced to know of her once calling with a friend on a country neighbor, and finding the good housewife busy over a rag-carpet.  Mrs. Prentiss, who had never chanced to see one of these bits of rural manufacture in its elementary processes, was full of questions and interest, thereby quite evidently pleasing the unassuming artist in assorted rags and home-made dyes.  When the visitors were safely outside the door, Mrs. Prentiss’ friend turned to her with the exclamation, “What tact you have!  She really thought you were interested in her work!” The quick blood sprang into Mrs. Prentiss’ face, and she turned upon her friend a look of amazement and rebuke.  “Tact!” she said, “I despise such tact!—­do you think I would look or act a lie?

She was an exceedingly practical woman, not a dreamer.  A systematic, thorough housekeeper, with as exalted ideals in all the affairs which pertain to good housewifery as in those matters which are generally thought to transcend these humble occupations.  Like Solomon’s virtuous woman she “looked well after the ways of her household.”  Methodical, careful of minutes, simple in her tastes, abstemious, and therefore enjoying evenly good health in spite of her delicate constitution—­this is the secret of her accomplishing so much.  Yet all this foundation of exactness and diligence was so “rounded with leafy gracefulness” that she never seemed angular or unyielding.

With her children she was a model disciplinarian, exceedingly strict, a wise law-maker; yet withal a tender, devoted, self-sacrificing mother.  I have never seen such exact obedience required and given—­or a more idolized mother.  “Mamma’s” word was indeed Law, but—­O, happy combination!—­it was also Gospel!

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How warm and true her friendship was!  How little of selfishness in all her intercourse with other women!  How well she loved to be of service to her friends!  How anxious that each should reach her highest possibilities of attainment!  I record with deepest sense of obligation the cordial, generous, sympathetic assistance of many kinds extended by her to me during our whole acquaintance.  To every earnest worker in any field she gladly “lent a hand,” rejoicing in all the successes of others as if they were her own.

But if weakness, or trouble, or sorrow of any sort or degree overtook one she straightway became as one of God’s own ministering spirits—­an angel of strength and consolation.  Always more eager, however, that souls should grow than that pain should cease.  Volumes could be made of her letters to friends in sorrow.  One tender monotone steals through them all,—­

  ’Come unto me, my kindred, I enfold you
    In an embrace to sufferers only known;
  Close to this heart I tenderly will hold you,
    Suppress no sigh, keep back no tear, no moan.

  “Thou Man of Sorrows, teach my lips that often
    Have told the sacred story of my woe,
  To speak of Thee till stony griefs I soften,
    Till hearts that know Thee not learn Thee to know.

  “Till peace takes place of storm and agitation,
    Till lying on the current of Thy will
  There shall be glorying in tribulation,
    And Christ Himself each empty heart shall fill.”

Few have the gift or the courage to deal faithfully yet lovingly with an erring soul, but she did not shrink back even from this service to those she loved.  I can bear witness to the wisdom, penetration, skill, and fidelity with which she probed a terribly wounded spirit, and then said with tender solemnity, “I think you need a great deal of good praying.

O, “vanished hand,” still beckon to us from the Eternal Heights!  O, “voice that is still,” speak to us yet from the Shining Shore!

  “Still let thy mild rebuking stand
    Between us and the wrong,
  And thy dear memory serve to make
    Our faith in goodness strong.”

[1] See the poem in the appendix to Golden Hours, with the “Reply of the New Year,” written by Mrs. Prentiss.

[2] A clerical circle of New York.

[3] A Unitarian paper, published in New York.

[4] An association of ladies for providing garments and other needed articles in aid of families of Home and Foreign missionaries, especially of those connected in any way with their own congregation.  Such a circle is found in most of the American churches.

[5] The passage occurs in a letter to Madame Guyon, dated June 9, 1689.  For another extract from the same letter see appendix F, p. 557.

[6] On the Resurrection of Christ.

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[7] Helen Rogers Blakeman, wife of W. N. Blakeman, M.D., was born on the 20th of December, 1811, in the city of New York.  She was a granddaughter of the Rev. James Caldwell, of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, the Revolutionary patriot.  The tragical fate of her grandmother has passed into history.  When the British forces reached Connecticut Farms, on the 7th of June, 1780, and began to burn and pillage the place, Mrs. Caldwell, who was then living there, retired with her two children—­one an infant in her arms—­to a back room in the house.  Here, while engaged in prayer, she was shot through the window.  Two bullets struck her in the breast and she fell dead upon the floor.  The infant in her arms was Mrs. Blakeman’s mother.  On the father’s side, too, she was of an old and God-fearing family.

[8] “Your precious lamb was very near my heart; few knew so well as I did all you suffered for and with her, for few have been over just the ground I have.  But that is little to the purpose; what I was going to say is this,—­’God never makes a mistake.’  You know and feel it, I am sure, but when we are broken down with grief, we like to hear simple words, oft repeated.  On this anniversary of my child’s death, I feel drawn to you.  It was a great blow to us because it came to hearts already sore with sorrow for our boy, and because it came so like a thunderclap, and because she suffered so.  Your baby’s death brought it all back.”—­From the Letter to Mrs. W.

[9] “I must tell you what a busy day I had yesterday, being chaplain, marketer, mother, author, and consoler from early morning till nine at night....  A letter came from Cincinnati from the editor of the hymn-book of the Y.M.C.A., saying he had some of my hymns in it, and had stopped the press in order to have two more, which he wanted ‘right away.’  I was exactly in the mood; it was our little Bessie’s anniversary, she had been in heaven eighteen years; think what she has already gained by my one year of suffering! and I wanted to spend it for others, not for myself.”—­Letter to her Husband, May 20.

[10] Nidworth, and His Three Magic Wands, published by Roberts Brothers.





Two Years of Suffering.  Its Nature and Causes.  Spiritual Conflicts.  Ill-health.  Faith a Gift to be won by Prayer.  Death-bed of Dr. Skinner.  Visit to Philadelphia.  “Daily Food.”  How to read the Bible so as to love it more.  Letters of Sympathy and Counsel.  “Prayer for Holiness brings Suffering.”  Perils of human Friendship.

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If in the life of Mrs. Prentiss the year 1870 was marked with a white stone as one of great happiness, the two following years were marked by unusual and very acute suffering.  Perhaps something of this was, sooner or later, to have been looked for in the experience of one whose organization, both physical and mental, was so intensely sensitive.  Tragical elements are latent in every human life, especially in the life of woman.  And the finer qualities of her nature, her vast capacity of loving and of self-sacrifice, her peculiar cares and trials, as well as outward events, are always tending to bring these elements into action.  What scenes surpassing fable, scenes both bright and sad, belong to the secret history of many a quiet woman’s heart!  Then our modern civilization, while placing woman higher in some respects than she ever stood before, at the same time makes her pay a heavy price for her advantages.  In the very process of enlarging her sphere and opportunities, whether intellectual or practical, and of educating her for their duties, does it not also expose her to moral shocks and troubles and lacerations of feeling almost peculiar to our times?  Nor is religion wholly exempt from the spirit that rules the age or the hour.  There is a close, though often very subtle, connexion between the two; just as there is between the working of nature and grace in the individual soul.

The phase of her history upon which Mrs. Prentiss was now entering can not be fully understood without considering it in this light.  The melancholy that was deep-rooted in her temperament, and her tender, all-absorbing sympathies, made her very quick to feel whatever of pain or sorrow pervaded the social atmosphere about her.  The thought of what others were suffering would intrude even upon her rural retreat among the mountains, and render her jealous of her own rest and joy.  And then, in all her later years, the mystery of existence weighed upon her heart more and more heavily.  In a nature so deep and so finely strung, great happiness and great sorrow are divided by a very thin partition.

But spiritual trials and conflict gave its keenest edge to the suffering of these years.  Such trials and conflict indeed were not wanting in the earliest stages of her religious life, nor had they been wanting all along its course; but they came now with a power and in a manner almost wholly new; and, while not essentially different from those which have afflicted God’s children in all ages, they are yet traceable, in no small degree, to special causes and circumstances in her own case.  Early in 1870 she had fallen in with a book entitled “God’s Furnace,” and a few months later had made the acquaintance of its author—­a remarkable woman, of great strength of character, of deep religious experience, and full of zeal for God.  Her book was introduced to the Christian public by a distinguished Presbyterian clergyman, and was highly recommended by other eminent

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divines.  By means of this work, as well as by correspondence and an occasional visit, she exerted for a time a good deal of influence over Mrs. Prentiss.  At first this influence seemed to be stimulating and healthful, but it was not so in the end.  The points of sympathy and the points of difference between them will come out so plainly in Mrs. Prentiss’ letters that they need not be indicated here.  It would not be easy to imagine two women more utterly dissimilar, except in love to God, devotion to their Saviour, and delight in prayer.  These formed the tie between them.  Miss ——­’s last days were sadly clouded by mental trouble and disease.

A little book called “Holiness through Faith,” published about this time, was another disturbing influence in Mrs. Prentiss’ religious life.  This work and others of a similar character presented a somewhat novel theory of sanctification—­a theory zealously taught, and which excited considerable attention in certain circles of the Christian community.  It was, in brief, this:  As we are justified by faith without the deeds of the law, even so are we sanctified by faith; in other words, as we obtain forgiveness and acceptance with God by a simple act of trust in Christ, so by simple trust in Christ we may attain personal holiness; it is as easy for divine grace to save us at once from the power, as from the guilt, of sin.

For more than thirty years Mrs. Prentiss had made the Christian life a matter of earnest thought and study.  The subject of personal holiness in particular had occupied her attention.  Whatever promised to shed new light upon it she eagerly read.  Her own convictions, however, were positive and decided; and, although at first inclined to accept the doctrine of “Holiness through Faith,” further reflection satisfied her that, as taught by its special advocates, it was contrary to Scripture and experience, and was fraught with mischief.  Certain unhappy tendencies and results of the doctrine, both at home and abroad, as shown in some of its teachers and disciples, also forced her to this conclusion.  Folly of some sort is indeed one of the fatal rocks upon which all overstrained theories of sanctification are almost certain to be wrecked; and in excitable, crude natures, the evil is apt to take the form either of mental extravagance, perhaps derangement, or of silly, if not still worse, conduct.  But, while deeply impressed with the mischief of these Perfectionist theories, Mrs. Prentiss felt the heartiest sympathy with all earnest seekers after holiness, and was grieved by what seemed to her harsh or unjust criticisms upon them.

What were her own matured views on the subject will appear in the sequel.  It is enough to say here that “Holiness through Faith” and other works, in advocacy of the same or similar doctrines, meeting her as they did when under a severe mental strain, and touching her at a most sensitive point—­for holiness was a passion of her whole soul—­had for a time a more or less bewildering effect.  She kept pondering the questions they raised, until the native hue of her piety—­hitherto so resolute and cheerful—­became “sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.”

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The inward conflict which has been referred to she described sometimes, in the language of the old divines, as the want of God’s “sensible presence,” or of “conscious” nearness to and communion with Christ; sometimes, as a state of “spiritual deprivation or aridity”; and then again, as a work of the Evil One.  She laid much stress upon this last point.  Her belief in the existence of Satan and his influence over human souls was as vivid as that of Luther; she did not hesitate to accuse him of being the fomenter and, in a sense, the author of her distress; the warnings of the Bible against his “wiles” she accepted as in full force still; and she could offer with all her heart, and with no doubt as to the literal meaning of its closing words, the petition of the old Litany:  “That it may please Thee to strengthen such as do stand, and to comfort and help the weak-hearted, and to raise up those who fall, and finally to beat down Satan under our feet.”

The coming trouble seems to have cast its shadow across her path even before the close of 1870.  Early in 1871 it was upon her in power.  Her letters contain very interesting and pathetic allusions to this experience.  But they do not explain it.  Nor is it easy to explain.  In the absence of certain inciting causes from without, it would never, perhaps, have assumed a serious form.  But these sharp spiritual trials are generally complicated with external causes, or occasions; ill-health, morbid constitutional tendencies, loss of sleep, wearing cares and responsibilities, sudden calamities, worldly loss or disappointment, and the like.  It is in the midst of such conditions that pious souls are most apt to be assailed by gloom and despondency.  And yet distressing inward struggles and depression arise sometimes in the midst of outward prosperity and even of unusual religious enjoyment.  In truth, among all the phenomena of the Christian life none are more obscure or harder to seize than those connected with spiritual conflict and temptation.  They belong largely to that terra incognita, the dark back-ground of human consciousness, where are the primal forces of the soul and the mustering-place of good and evil.  A certain mystery enshrouds all profound religious emotion; whether of the peace of God that passeth all understanding, or of the anguish that comes of spiritual desertion.  Those who are in the midst of the battle, or bear its scars, will instantly recognise an experience like their own; to all others it must needs remain inexplicable.  Even in the natural life our deepest joys and sorrows are mostly inarticulate; the great poets come nearest to giving them utterance; but how much the reality always surpasses the descriptions of the poet’s pen, even though it be the pen of a Shakespeare, or a Goethe!

Mrs. Prentiss never afterward referred to this “fiery trial” without strong emotion.  It terrified her to think of anyone she loved as exposed to it; and—­not to speak of other classes—­she seemed to regard those as specially exposed to it, who had just passed, or were passing, through an unusually rich and happy religious experience.  One of her last letters, addressed to a dear Christian friend, related to this very point.  Here are a few sentences from it: 

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I want to give you EMPHATIC warning that you were never in such danger in your life.  This is the language of bitter, bitter experience and is not mine alone.  Leighton says the great Pirate lets the empty ships go by and robs the full ones. [1] ...  I do hope you will go on your way rejoicing, unto the perfect day.  Hold on to Christ with your teeth [2] if your hands get crippled; He, alone, is stronger than Satan; He, alone, knows all “sore temptations” mean.

This, certainly, is strong language and will sound very strange and extravagant in many ears; and yet is it really stronger language than that often used by inspired prophets and apostles? or than that of Augustine, Bernard, Luther, Hooker, Fenelon, Bunyan, and of many saintly women, whose names adorn the annals of piety?  Strong as it is, it will find an echo in hearts that have been assailed by the “fiery darts of the adversary,” and have learned to cry unto God out of the depths of mental anguish and gloom; while others still in the midst of the conflict, will, perhaps, be helped and comforted to read of the manner in which Mrs. Prentiss passed through it.  Nothing in the story of her religious life is more striking and beautiful.  Her faith never failed; she glorified God in the midst of it all; she thanked her Lord and Master for “taking her in hand,” and begged Him not to spare her for her crying, if so be she might thus learn to love Him more and grow more like Him!  And, what is especially noteworthy, her own suffering, instead of paralysing, as severe suffering sometimes does, active sympathy with the sorrows and trials of others, had just the contrary effect.  “How soon,” she wrote to a friend, “our dear Lord presses our experiences into His own service!  How many lessons He teaches us in order to make us ‘sons’ (or daughters) ‘of consolation!’” To another friend she wrote: 

I did not perceive any selfishness in you during our interview, and you need not be afraid that I am so taken up with my own affairs as to feel no sympathy with you in yours.  What are we made for, if not to bear each other’s burdens?  And this ought to be the effect of trial upon us; to make us, in the very midst of it, unusually interested in the interests of others.  This is the softening, sanctifying tendency of tribulation, and he who lacks it needs harder blows.

At no period of her life was she more helpful to afflicted and tempted souls.  In visits to sick-rooms and dying beds, and in letters to friends in trouble, her heart “like the noble tree that is wounded itself when it gives the balm,” poured itself forth in the most tender, soothing ministrations.  It seemed at times fairly surcharged with love.  Meanwhile she kept her pain to herself; only a few intimate friends, whose prayers she solicited, knew what a struggle was going on in her soul; to all others she appeared very much as in her happiest days.  “It is a little curious,” she wrote to a young friend, “that suffering as I really am, nobody sees it.  ‘Always bright!’ people say to me to my amazement....  I can add nothing but love, of which I am so full that I keep giving off in thunder and lightning.”

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The preceding account would be incomplete without adding that the state of her health during this period, combined with a severe pressure of varied and perplexing cares, served to deepen the distress caused by her spiritual trials.  Whatever view may be taken of the origin and nature of such trials, it is certain that physical depression and the mental strain that comes of anxious, care-worn thoughts, if not their source, yet tend always greatly to intensify them.  In the present case the trials would, perhaps, not have existed without the cares and the ill-health; while the latter, even in the entire absence of the former, would have occasioned severe suffering.

To Mrs. Frederick Field, New York, Jan. 8, 1871.

’If I need make any apology for writing you so often, it must be this—­I can not help it.  Having dwelt long in an obscure, oftentimes dark valley, and then passed out into a bright plane of life, I am full of tender yearnings over other souls, and would gladly spend my whole time and strength for them.  I long, especially, to see your feet established on an immovable Rock.  It seems to me that God is preparing you for great usefulness by the fiery trial of your faith.  “They learn in suffering what they teach in song.”  Oh how true this is!  Who is so fitted to sing praises to Christ as he who has learned Him in hours of bereavement, disappointment and despair?

What you want is to let your intellect go overboard, if need be, and to take what God gives just as a little child takes it, without money and without price.  Faith is His, unbelief ours.  No process of reasoning can soothe a mother’s empty, aching heart, or bring Christ into it to fill up all that great waste room.  But faith can.  And faith is His gift; a gift to be won by prayer—­prayer persistent, patient, determined; prayer that will take no denial; prayer that if it goes away one day unsatisfied, keeps on saying, “Well, there’s to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow; God may wait to be gracious, and I can wait to receive, but receive I must and will.”  This is what the Bible means when it says, “the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence and the violent take it by force.”  It does not say the eager, the impatient take it by force, but the violent—­they who declare, “I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me.”  This is all heart, not head work.  Do I know what I am talking about?  Yes, I do.  But my intellect is of no use to me when my heart is breaking.  I must get down on my knees and own that I am less than nothing, seek God, not joy; consent to suffer, not cry for relief.  And how transcendently good He is when He brings me down to that low place and there shows me that that self-renouncing, self-despairing spot is just the one where He will stoop to meet me!

My dear friend, don’t let this great tragedy of sorrow fail to do everything for you.  It is a dreadful thing to lose children; but a lost sorrow is the most fearful experience life can bring, I feel this so strongly that I could go on writing all day.  It has been said that the intent of sorrow is to “toss us on to God’s promises.”  Alas, these waves too often toss us away out to sea, where neither sun or stars appear for many days.  I pray, earnestly, that it may not be so with you.

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Among Mrs. Prentiss’ most beloved and honored friends in New York was the Rev. Dr. Thomas H. Skinner, the first pastor of the Mercer street church, and then, for nearly a quarter of a century, Professor in the Union Theological Seminary.  His attachment to her, as also that of his family, was very strong.  Dr. Skinner had been among the leaders of the so-called New School branch of the Presbyterian Church.  He was a preacher of great spiritual power, an able, large-hearted theologian, and a man of most attractive personal and social qualities.  He was artless as a little child, full of enthusiasm for the best things, and a pattern of saintly goodness.  It used to be said that every stone and rafter in the Church of the Covenant had felt the touch of his prayers.  This venerable servant of God entered into his rest on the 1st of February, 1871, in the 80th year of his age.  In a letter to her cousin, Rev. George S. Payson, Mrs. Prentiss thus refers to his last hours: 

You will hear at dear Dr. Skinner’s funeral to-morrow his dying testimony, and I want you to know that it was whispered in my enraptured ear, that I was privileged to spend the whole of Tuesday and all he lived of Wednesday, at his side, and that mine were the hands that closed his eyes and composed his features in death.  What blissful moments were mine, as I saw his sainted soul fly home; how near heaven seemed and still seems!

To Miss E. S. Gilman, New York, Feb. 7, 1871.

I am glad to hear that you have such an interesting class, and yet more glad that you see how much Christian culture they need.  I am astonished every day by confessions made to me by young people as to their woful state before God, and do hope that all this is to prepare me to write something for them.  I began a series of articles in the Association Monthly, called “Twilight Talks,” which may perhaps prove to be in a degree what you want, but still there is much land untraversed.  Meanwhile I want to encourage you in your work, by letting you feel my deep sympathy with you in it, and to assure you that nothing will be so blessed to your scholars as personal holiness in yourself.  We must practise what we preach, and give ourselves wholly to Christ if we want to persuade others to do it.  I am saying feebly what I feel very deeply and constantly.  You will rejoice with me that I had the rare privilege of being with dear Dr. Skinner during his last hours.  If you have a copy of Watts and Select hymns, read the 106th hymn of the 2d book, beginning at the 2d verse, “Lord, when I quit this earthly stage,” and fancy, if you can, the awe and the delight with which I heard him repeat those nine verses, as expressive of his dying love to Christ.  I feel that God is always too good to me, but to have Him make me witness of that inspiring scene, humbles me greatly.  In how many ways He seeks us, now smiling, now caressing, now reproving, now thwarting, and always doing the very best thing for us that infinite love and goodness can!  Let us love Him better and better every day, and count no work for Him too small and unnoticed to be wrought thankfully whenever He gives the opportunity.  I hope I am learning to honor the day of small things.

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To Mrs. Humphrey, New York, March 14, 1871.

So you have at last broken the ice and made out, after almost a year, to write that promised letter!  Well, it was worth waiting for, and welcome when it came, and awakened in me an enthusiasm about seeing the dear creature, of which I hardly thought my old heart was capable (that statement is an affectation; my heart isn’t old, and never will be).  Our plan now is, if all prospers, to go to Philadelphia on Friday afternoon, spend the night with you, Saturday with Mrs. Kirkbride, and Sunday and part of Monday with you.  I hope you mean to let us have a quiet little time with you, unbeknown to strangers, whom I dread and shrink from....

March 28th.—­What a queer way we womenkind have of confiding in each other with perfectly reckless disregard of consequences!  It is a mercy that men are, for the most part, more prudent, though not half so delightful!...  Well, I’m ever so glad I’ve seen you in your home, only I found you more frail (in the way of health) than I found you fair.  We hear that your husband preached “splendidly,” as of course we knew he would, and the next exchange I shall be there to hear as well as to see.

Coming out of the cars yesterday, I picked up a “Daily Food,” dropped, I suppose, by its owner, “Sarah ——­,” of Philadelphia, given her by “Miss H. in 1853.”  It has travelled all over Europe, and is therefore no doubt precious to her who thus made it her friend.  Now how shall I get it to her?  Can you learn her address, or shall I write to her at a venture, without one?  I know how I felt—­when I once lost mine; it was given me in 1835, and has gone with me ever since whenever I have journeyed (as I was so happy as to find it again). [3] I think if I have the pleasure of restoring it to its owner, she will feel glad that it did not fall into profane hands.  I thought it right to look through it, in order to get some clue, if possible, to its destination; I fancy it was the silent comforter of a wife who went abroad with her husband for his health, and came home a widow; God bless her, whoever she is, for she evidently believes in and loves Him.  What sort of a world can it be to those who don’t? [4] Remember me affectionately to yourself and your dear ones, and now we’ve got a-going, let’s go ahead.

April 1st.—­What a pity it is that one can’t have a separate language with which to address each beloved one!  It seems so mean to use the same words to two or three or four people one loves so differently!  Now about my visit to you.  One reason why I did not stay longer was your looking worn out.  When I am feeling so dragged, visitors are a great wear and tear to me.  But I am afraid my selfishness would have got the upperhand of me if that were the whole story.  I can’t put into words the perfect horror I have of being made into a somebody; it fairly hurts me, and if I had stayed a week with you and the host of people you had about you, I should have shriveled up into the size of a pea.  I can’t deny having streaks of conceit, but I know enough about myself to make my rational moments bid me keep in the background, and it excruciates me to be set up on a pinnacle.  So don’t blame me if I fled in terror, and that I am looking forward to your visit, when I hope to have delightful pow-wows with you all by ourselves.

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I am glad that little book can be returned, and I will mail it to you.  I couldn’t send it without a loving word; it seemed to fall so providentially into my hands and knock so at the door of my heart.  In what strange ways people get introduced to each other, and how subtle are the influences that excite a bond of sympathy!...  What do you do with girls who fall madly and desperately in love with you?  Do you laugh at them, or scold them, or love them, or what?  I used to do just such crazy things, and am not sure I never do them now.  Did you ever live in a queerer world than this is?

To Miss E.S.  Gilman, New York, April 29, 1871.

The subject of your letter is one that greatly interests me, and I should be glad to get more light upon it myself.  As far as I know, those who live apart from the world, communing with God and working for Him chiefly in prayer, have least temptation to wandering and distracted thoughts, and are more devout and spiritual than those of us who live more in the world.  But it stands to reason that we can’t all live so.  The outside work must go on, and somebody must do it.  But of course we have the hardest time, since while in the world we must not be of it.  I have come, of late, to think that both classes are needed, the contemplative and the active, and God does certainly take the latter aside now and then as you suggest, by sickness and in other ways, to set them thinking.  Holiness is not a mere abstraction; it is praying and loving and being consecrate, but it is also the doing kind deeds, speaking friendly words, being in a crowd when we thirst to be alone, and so on and so on.  The study of Christ’s life on earth reveals Him to us as incessantly busy, yet taking special seasons for prayer.  It seems to me that we should imitate Him in this respect, and when we find ourselves particularly pressed by outward cares and duties, break short off and withdraw from them till a spiritual tone returns.  For we can do nothing well unless we do it consciously for Christ, and this consciousness sometimes gets jostled out of us when we undertake to do too much.  The more perfectly He is formed in us the more light we shall get on every path of duty, the less likely to go astray from the happy medium of not all contemplation, not all activity.  And to have Him thus to dwell in us we are led to pray by His own last prayer for us on earth, when He asked for the “I in them.”  Let us pray for each other that this may be our blessed lot.  Nothing will fit us for life but this.  In ourselves we do nothing but err and sin.  In Him we are complete.

* * * * *


Her Husband called to Chicago.  Lines on going to Dorset.  Letters to young Friends, on the Christian Life.  Narrow Escape from Death.  Feeling on returning to Town.  Her “Praying Circle.”  The Chicago Fire.  The true Art of Living.  God our only safe Teacher.  An easily-besetting Sin.  Counsels to young Friends.  Letters.

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Mrs. Prentiss’ letters relating to her husband’s call to Chicago require perhaps an explanatory word.  She had some very pleasant associations with Chicago.  It was the home of a brother and sister-in-law, to whom she was deeply attached, and of other dear relatives.  There Stepping Heavenward had first appeared, and many unknown friends—­grateful for the good it had done them—­were eager to form her acquaintance and bid her welcome to the great city of the Interior.  And yet the thought of removing there filled her with the utmost distress.  Had her husband’s call been to some distant post in the field of Foreign Missions, her language on the subject could hardly have been stronger.  But this language in reality expresses simply the depth of her devotion to her church and her friends in New York, her morbid shyness and shrinking from the presence of strangers, and, especially, her vivid sense of physical inability to make the change without risking the loss of what health and power of sleep still remained to her.  Misgiving on this last point caused her husband to hesitate long before accepting the call, and to feel in after years that his decision to accept it, although conscientiously made, had been a grave mistake.

To Mrs. Condict, New York, June 3, 1871.

I knew that you would rather hear from me than through the papers, the fact that Mr. Prentiss has been once more unanimously elected by the General Assembly to the Chicago Professorship.  He has come home greatly perplexed as to his duty, and prepared to do it, at any reasonable cost, if he can only find out what it is.  We built our Dorset house not as a mere luxury, but with the hope that the easy summer there would so build up our health as to increase and prolong our usefulness; but going to Chicago would deprive us of that, besides cutting us off from all our friends.  But we want to know no will but God’s in this question, and I am sure you and Miss K. will join us in the prayer that we may not so much as suggest to Him what path He will lead us into.  The experience of the past winter would impress upon me the fact that place and position have next to nothing to do with happiness; that we can be wretched in a palace, radiant in a dungeon.  Mr. P. said yesterday that it broke his heart to hear me talk of giving up Dorset; but perhaps this heartbreaking is exactly what we need to remind us of what for many years we never had a chance to forget, that we are pilgrims and strangers on the earth.  Two lines of my own keep running in my head: 

Oh foolish heart, oh faithless heart, oh heart on ruin bent, Build not with too much care thy nest, thou art in banishment.

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I have seen the time when the sense of being a pilgrim and a stranger was very sweet; and God can sweeten whatever He does to us.  So though perplexed we are not in despair, and if we feel that we are this summer living in a tent that may soon blow down, it is just what you are doing, and in this point we shall have fellowship.  I am sure it is good for us to have God take up the rod, even if He lays it down again without inflicting a blow.  I know we are going to pray till light comes.  I feel very differently about it from what I did last summer.  The mental conflicts of the past winter have created a good deal of indifference to everything.  Without conscious union and nearness to my Saviour I can’t be happy anywhere; for years He has been the meaning of everything, and when He only seems gone (I know it is only seeming) I don’t much care where I am.  I am just trying to be patient till He makes Satan let go of me.  Excuse this selfish letter, and write me one just as bad!

On the 7th of June she went to Dorset with her husband and the younger children.  The following lines, found among her papers, will show in what temper of mind she went.  It is worth noting that they were written on Monday, and express a week-day, not merely a passing Sabbath feeling: 

  Once more at home, once more at home—­
    For what, dear Lord, I pray? 
  To seek enjoyment, please myself,
    Make life a summer’s day?

  I shrink, I shudder at the thought;
    For what is home to me,
  When sin and self enchain my heart,
    And keep it far from Thee?

  There is but one abiding joy,
    Nor place that joy can give;
  It is Thy presence that makes home,
    That makes it “life to live.”

  That presence I invoke; naught else
    I venture to entreat;
  I long to see Thee, hear Thy voice,
    To sit at Thy dear feet.

To a young Friend, Dorset, June 12, 1871.

I trust it is an omen of good that the first letters I have received since coming here this summer, have been full of the themes I love best.  I was much struck with the sentence you quote, “They can not go back,” etc., [5] and believe it is true of you.  Being absorbed in divine things will not make you selfish; you will be astonished to find how loving you will gradually grow toward everybody, how interested in their interests, how happy in their happiness.  And if you want work for Christ (and the more you love Him the more you will long for it), that work will come to you in all sorts of ways.  I do not believe much in duty-work; I think that work that tells is the spontaneous expression of the love within.  Perhaps you have not been sick enough yourself to be skilful in a sick-room; perhaps your time for that sort of work hasn’t come.  I meant to get you a little book called “The Life of Faith”; in fact, I went down town on purpose to get it, and passed the Episcopal

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Sunday-school Union inadvertently.  I think that little book teaches how everything we do may be done for Christ, and I know by what little experience I have had of it, that it is a blessed, thrice blessed way to live.  A great deal is meant by the “cup of cold water,” and few of us women have great deeds to perform, and we must unite ourselves to Him by little ones.  The life of constant self-discipline God requires is a happy one; you and I, and others like us, find a wild, absorbing joy in loving and being loved; but sweet, abiding peace is the fruit of steady check on affections that must be tamed and kept under.  Is this consistent with what I have just said about growing more loving as we grow more Christlike?  Yes, it is; for that love is absolutely unselfish, it gives much and asks nothing, and there is nothing restless about it....  I have been very hard at work ever since I came here, with my darling M. as my constant, joyous comrade.  We have been busy with our flower-beds, sowing and transplanting, and half the china closet has tumbled out of doors to serve as protection from the sun.  Mr. Prentiss says we do the work of three days in one, which is true, for we certainly have performed great feats.  The night we got here we found the house lighted up, and the dining-table covered with good things.  People seem glad to see us back.  I don’t know which of my Dorset titles would strike you as most appropriate; one man calls me a “branch,” another “a child of nature,” and another “Mr. Prentiss’ woman,” with the consoling reflection that I sha’n’t rust out.

To Mrs. Smith, Dorset, August 6, 1871.

I don’t know when I have written so few letters as I have this summer.  My right hand has forgot its cunning under the paralysis, under which my heart has suffered, and which is now beginning to affect my health quite unfavorably.  It seems as if body and soul, joints and marrow, were rudely separating.  Poor George is half-distracted with the weight of the questions concerning Chicago, and I think almost anything would be better than this crucifying suspense.  But I try not to make a fuss.  Mrs. D——­ can tell you that I have said to her many times, during the last few years, that, according to the ordinary run of life, things would not long remain with us as they were; they were too good to last.

I have read and re-read “Spiritual Dislodgments,” and remember it well.  I certainly wish for such dislodgments in me and mine, if we need them.  George has got hold of a book of A.’s, which delights him, Letters of William Von Humboldt. [6] I suppose you recommended it to her.  You must make your plans to come here this summer; I don’t seem fully to have a thing till you’ve seen it.

To Mrs. Humphrey, Dorset, Aug. 8, 1871.

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It took you a good while to answer my last letter, and I have been equally lazy about writing since yours strayed this way.  Letter-writing has always been a resource and a pastime to me; a refuge in head-achy and rainy days, and a tiny way to give pleasure or do good, when other paths were hedged up.  But this summer I have left almost everybody in the lurch, partly from being more or less unwell and out of spirits, partly because the Chicago question, remaining unsettled, has been such a damper that I hadn’t much heart to speak either of it or of anything else.  We are perplexed beyond measure what to do; the thought of losing my minister and having him turn into a professor, agonizes me; on the other hand, who knows but he needs the rest that change of labor and the five months’ vacation would give him? His chief worry is the effect the attending funerals all the time has already had on my health.  One day I part with and bury (in imagination!) now this friend, now that, and this mournful work does not sharpen one’s appetite or invigorate one’s frame.  I don’t know how we’ve stood the conflict; and it seems rather selfish to allude to my part of it; but women live more in their friendships than men do, and the thought of tearing up all our roots is more painful to me than to my husband, and he will not lose what I must lose in addition, and as I have said before, my minister, which is the hardest part of it.

I want you to know what straits we are in, in the hope that you and yours will be stirred up to pray that we may make no mistake, but go or stay as the Lord would have us.  We have found our little home a nice refuge for us in the storm; Mr. P. says he should have gone distracted in a boarding-house.  I do not envy you the Conway crowd.  But I fancy it is a good region for collecting mosses and like treasures.  I think the prettiest thing in our house is a flattish bracket, fastened to the wall and filled with flowers; it looks like a graceful, meandering letter S and is one of the idols I bow down to....  I have “Holiness through Faith”; the first time I read it at Mr. R——­’s request, I said I believed every word of it, but this summer, reading it in a different mood, it puzzles me.  The idea is plausible; if God tells us to be holy, as He certainly does, is it not for Him to provide the way for our being so, and is it likely He needs our whole lives before He can accomplish His own design?  I talked with Mr. Prentiss about it, and at first he rejected the thought of holiness through faith, but last night we got upon the subject again and he was interested in some sentences I read to him and said he must examine the book.  When are you coming to spend that week in Dorset?  Love to each and all.

To a young Friend, Kauinfels, Sept. 9, 1871.

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I have had many letters to write to-day, for to-day our fate is sealed, and we are to go.  But I must say a few words to you before going to bed, for I want to tell you how very glad I am that you have been enabled to take a step [7] which will, I am sure, lead the way to other steps, increase your holiness, your usefulness, and your happiness.  May God bless you in this attempt to honor Him, and open out before you new fields wherein to glorify and please Him.  This has not been a sorrowful day to me.  I hope I am offering to a “patient God a patient heart.”  I do not want to make the worst of the sacrifice He requires, or to fancy I am only to be happy on my own conditions.  He has been most of the time for years “the spring of all my joys, the life of my delights.”  Where He is, I want to be; where He bids me go, I want to go, and to go in courage and faith.  Anything is better than too strong cleaving to this world.  As I was situated in New York, I lacked not a single earthly blessing.  I had a delightful home, freedom from care, and a circle of friends whom I loved with all my heart, and who loved me in a way to satisfy even my rapacity.  Only one thing was wanting to my perfect felicity—­a heart absolutely holy; and was I likely to get that when my earthly cup was so full?  At any rate I am content.  Now and then, as the reality of this coming separation overwhelms me, I feel a spasm of pain at my heart (I don’t suppose we are expected to cease to be human beings or to lose our sensibilities), but if my Lord and Master will go with me, and keeps on making me more and more like Himself, I can be happy anywhere and under any conditions, or be made content not to be happy.  All this is of little consequence in itself, but perhaps it may make me more of a blessing to others, which, next to personal holiness, is the only thing to be sought very earnestly.  As to my relation to you, He who brought you under my wing for a season has something better for you in store. That’s His way. And wherever I am, if it is His will and His Spirit dictates the prayer, I shall pray for you, and that is the best service one soul can render another.

About this time she and her husband had an almost miraculous escape from instant death.  They had been calling upon friends in East Dorset and were returning home.  Not far from that village is a very dangerous railroad crossing; and, as the sight or sound of cars so affrighted Coco as to render him uncontrollable, special pains had been taken not to arrive at the spot while a train was due.  But just as they reached it, an “irregular” train, whose approach was masked behind high bushes, came rushing along unannounced, and had they been only a few seconds later, would have crushed them to atoms.  So severe was the shock and so vivid the sense of a Providential escape, that scarcely a word was spoken during the drive home.  The next morning she gave her husband a very interesting account of the thoughts that, like lightning, flashed upon her mind while feeling herself in the jaws of death.  They related exclusively to her children—­how they would receive the news, and what would become of them. [8]

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Late in September she returned to town, still oppressed by the thought of going to Chicago.  In a letter to Mrs. Condict, dated October 2d, she writes: 

We got home on Friday night, and very early on Saturday were settled down into the old routine.  But how different everything is!  At church tearful, clouded faces; at home, warmhearted friends looking upon us as for the last time.  It is all right.  I would not venture to change it if I could; but it is hard.  At times it seems as if my heart would literally break to pieces, but we are mercifully kept from realising our sorrows all the time.  The waves dash in and almost overwhelm, but then they sweep back and are stayed by an almighty, kind hand....  It is like tearing off a limb to leave our dear prayer-meeting.  Next to my closet, it has been to me the sweetest spot on earth.  I never expect to find such another.

To another friend she writes a day or two later: 

My heart fairly collapses at times, at the thought of tearing myself away from those whom Christian ties have made dearer to me than my kindred after the flesh.  And then comes the precious privilege and relief of telling my yet dearer and better Friend all about it, and the sweet peace begotten of yielding my will to His.  I want to be of all the use and comfort to you and to the other dear ones He will let me be during these few months.  Do pray for me that I may so live Christ as to bear others along with me on a resistless tide.  Those lines you copied for me are a great comfort: 

  “Rather walking with Him by faith,
  Than walking alone in the light.”

Of the little praying circle, alluded to in her letter to Mrs. C., one of its members writes: 

It was unique even among meetings of its own class.  Held in an upper chamber, never largely attended and sometimes only by the “two or three,” it was almost unknown except to the few, who regarded it as among their chiefest religious privileges.  All the other members would gladly have had Mrs. Prentiss assume its entire leadership; but she assumed nothing and was no doubt quite unconscious as to how large an extent she was the life and soul of the meeting.  In the familiar conversation of the hour nothing fell from her lips but such simple words as, coming from a glowing heart, strengthened and deepened the spiritual life of all who heard them.  She had, in a degree I never knew equalled, the gift of leading the devotions of others.  But there was not the slightest approach to performance in her prayers; she abhorred the very thought of it.  Those who knelt with her can never forget the pure devotion which breathed itself forth in simple exquisite language; but it was something beyond the power of description.

Another member of the circle writes: 

Her prayers were so simple, so earnest, so childlike.  We all felt we were in the very presence of our loving Father.  One thing especially always impressed me during that sacred hour—­it was her quietness of manner.  She was very cordial and affectionate in her greetings with each one, as we assembled, and then a holy awe, a solemn hush, came over her spirit and she seemed like one who saw the Lord!  O how we all miss her!  There is never a meeting but we keep her in remembrance and talk together lovingly about her.

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To a Friend, Oct. 21, 1871.

Mr. Prentiss sent in his resignation last evening, and the church refused unanimously to let him go.  “Praise God from whom all blessings flow” penetrated the walls of the parsonage, as they sang it when the decision was made, and so we knew our fate before a whole parlorful rushed in to shake hands, kiss, and congratulate.  You would have been delighted had you been here.  Prof.  Smith, who took strong ground in favor of his going, takes just as strong ground in favor of his staying.  I feel that all this is the result of prayer.  I never got any light on the Chicago question when I prayed about it; never could see that it was our duty to go; but I yielded my judgment and my will, because my husband thought that he must go.  I think our very reluctance to it made us shrink from evading it; we were so afraid of opposing God’s will.  Now the matter is taken out of our hands and we have only to resume our work here.  God grant that this baptism of fire may purge and purify us and prepare us to be a great blessing to the church.  It is a most awe-inspiring providence, God’s burning us out of Chicago, and we feel like putting our shoes from off our feet and adoring Him in silence....  Pray that the lessons we have been learning through so many trying months may help us to be helping hands to those who may pass through similar straits.  One of my brothers was burnt out, and his own and his wife’s letters drew tears even down to the kitchen.  For two days and a night they lost their baby, five months old, in addition to all the other horrors.  But they found refuge with a dear cousin, who has filled his house to overflowing.  I may have spoken of this cousin to you:  he has a foundling home on Mueller’s trust system.

Before taking leave of the call to Chicago a word should be added to what she says concerning it in her letters.  The prospect of her husband’s accepting the call rendered the summer a very trying one; but it was far from being all gloom.  She had a marvellous power of extracting amusement out of the most untoward situation.  In 1843 she wrote from Richmond, referring to Mr. Persico’s troubles:  “I never spent such melancholy weeks in my life; in the midst of it, however, I made fun for the rest, as I believe I should do in a dungeon.”  It was so in the present case.  She relieved the weariness of many an anxious hour by “making fun for the rest.”  As an illustration, one evening at Dorset, while sitting at the parlor-table with her children and a young friend who was visiting her, she seized a pencil and wrote for their entertainment a ludicrous version of the Chicago affair in two parts.  The paper which was preserved by her young friend, illustrates also another trait which she thus describes at the close of a frolicsome letter to Miss E. A. Warner:  “It is one of the peculiar peculiarities of this woman that she usually carries on, when she wants to hide her feelins.”  Part I. begins thus: 

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  Where are the Prentisses?  Gone to Chicago,
  Gone bag and baggage, the whole crew and cargo. 
  Well, they would go, now let’s talk ’em over,
  And see what compensation we can discover.

They are all “talked over” and then in Part II. the scene changes to Chicago itself: 

  Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye,
  Here’s the tribe of Prentisses just agoing by;
        Dr. Prentiss he,
        Mrs. Prentiss she,
  And a lot of young ones that all begin with P.
  Well, let us view them with our eyes,
  And then begin to criticise. 
  And first the doctor, what of him?

The doctor having been fully discussed, the criticism proceeds: 

  Now for his wife; well, who would guess
  She had set up as authoress! 
  Why, she looks just like all of us,
  Instead of being in a muss
  Like other literary folks. 
  They say she likes her little jokes,
  As well as those who’ve less to say
  Of stepping on the heavenward way.

Mrs. P. having been disposed of: 

  Next comes Miss P.; how she will make
  The hearts of all the students quake! 
  She’ll wind them round her fingers’ ends,
  And find in them one hundred friends. 
  They’ll sit on benches in a row
  And watch her come, and watch her go;
  But they’ll be safe, the precious rogues,
  Since she don’t care for theologues.

The other children next pass in review and the whole closes with the remark: 

  Time, and Time only, will make clear
  Why the poor geese came cackling here.

To a young Friend, New York, Nov., 1871.

My heart is as young and fresh as any girl’s, and I am almost as prone to make idols out of those I love, as I ever was; and this is inconsistent with the devotion owed to God.  I do not mean that I really love anybody better than I do Him, but that human friendships tempt me.  This easily-besetting sin of mine has cost me more anguish than tongue can tell, and I deeply feel the need of more love to Christ because of my earthly tendencies.  I know I would sacrifice every friend to Christ, but I am not always disentangled.  How strange this is, how passing strange!...  In a religious way I find myself much better off here than at Dorset.  But there is yet something apparently “far off, unattained and dim” that I once thought I had caught by the wing, and enjoyed for a season, but which has flown away.  I am afraid I am one who has got to be a religious enthusiast, or else dissatisfied and restless.  When I give way to an impulse to the first, I care for nothing worldly, and am at peace.  But I am unfitted for daily life, for secular talk and reading.  Is it so with you?  Does it run in our blood?  I do long and pray for more light; and I will pray for more love, cost what it may.  Sometimes I long to get to heaven, where I shall not have to be curbing my heart with bit and bridle, and can be as loving as I want to be—­as I am.

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To a young Friend abroad—­New York, Dec. 8, 1871.

There never will come a time in my life when I shall not need all my Christian friends can do for me in the way of prayer.  I am glad you are making such special effort to oppose the icebergs of foreign life; God will meet and bless you in it.  Let us, if need be, forsake all others to cleave only unto Him.  I don’t know of any real misery except coldness between myself and Him.

I feel warm and tender sympathy with you in all your struggles, temptations, joys, hopes and fears.  As you grow older you will settle more; your troubles, your ups and downs, belong chiefly to your youth.  Yes, you are right in saying that Mr. P——­ could go through mental conflicts in silence; he does not pine for sympathy as you and I do.  You and I are like David, though I forget, at the moment, what he said happened to him when he “kept silence.” (On the whole, I don’t think he said anything!)

I think the proper attitude to take when restless and lonesome and homesick for want of God’s sensible presence, is just what we take when we are missing earthly friends for whom we yearn, and whose letters, though better than nothing, do not half feed our hungry hearts, or fill our longing arms.  And that attitude is patient waiting.  We are such many-sided creatures that I do not doubt you are getting pleasure and profit out of this European trip, although it is alloyed by so much mental suffering.  But such is life.  It has in it nothing perfect, nothing ideal.  And this conviction, deepened every now and then by some new experience, tosses me anew, again and again, back on to that Rock of Ages that ever stands sure and steadfast, and on whom our feet may rest.  It is well to have the waves and billows of temptation beat upon us; if only to magnify this Rock and teach us what a refuge He is.

I went, last night, with Mr. Prentiss and most of the children, to hear the freedmen and women in a concert at Steinway Hall.  It was packed with a brilliant, delighted audience, and it was most interesting to see these young people, simple, dignified, earnest, full of love to Christ, and preparing, by education, to work for Him.  They sang “Keep me from sinking down” most sweetly and touchingly.  I see you have the blues as I used to do, at your age, and hope you will outgrow them as I have done.  I suffer without being depressed in the sense in which I used to be; it is hard to make the distinction, but I am sure there is one.  I do not know how far this change has come to me as a happy wife and mother, or how far it is religious.

Aunt Jane’s Hero was published in 1871.  It is hardly inferior to Stepping Heavenward in its pictures of life and character, or in the wisdom of its teaching.  The object of the book is to depict a home whose happiness flows from the living Rock, Christ Jesus.  It protests also against the extravagance and other evils of the times, which tend to check the growth of such homes, and aims to show that there are still treasures of love and peace on earth, that may be bought without money and without price.

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“Holiness and Usefulness go hand-in-hand.”  No two Souls dealt with exactly alike.  Visits to a stricken Home.  Another Side of her Life.  Visit to a Hospital.  Christian Friendship.  Letters to a bereaved Mother.  Submission not inconsistent with Suffering.  Thoughts at the Funeral of a little “Wee Davie.”  Assurance of Faith.  Funeral of Prof.  Hopkins.  His Character.

She entered the new year with weary steps, but with a heart full of tenderness and sympathy.  A circle of young friends, living in different parts of the country, looked eagerly to her at this time for counsel, and she was deeply interested in their spiritual progress.  She wrote to one of them, January 6, 1872: 

Your letter has filled my heart with joy.  What a Friend and Saviour we have, and how He comes to meet us on the sea, if we attempt to walk there in faith!  I trust your path now will be the ever brightening one that shall shine more and more unto the perfect day.  Holiness and usefulness go hand in hand, and you will have new work to do for the Lord; praying work especially. Pray for me, for one thing; I need a great deal of grace and strength just now.  And pray for all the souls that are struggling toward the light.  O that everybody lived only for Christ!

A few weeks later, writing to the same friend, she thus refers to the “fiery trials” through which she was passing: 

This season of temptation came right on the heels, if I may use such an expression, of great spiritual illumination.  Of all the years of my life, 1869-70 was the brightest, and it seems as if Satan could not endure the sight of so much love and joy, and so took me in hand.  I have not liked to say much about this to young people, lest it should discourage them; but I hope you will not allow it to affect you in that way, for you must remember that no two souls are dealt with exactly alike, and that the fact that many are looking up to me may have made it necessary for our dear Lord to let Satan harass and trouble me as he has done.  No, let us not be discouraged, either you or I, but rejoice that we are called of our God and Saviour to give Him all we have and all we are....  If we spent more time in thanking God for what He has done for us, He would do more.

Malignant scarlet fever and other diseases, had invaded and isolated the household mentioned in the following letter.  Their gratitude to Mrs. Prentiss was most touching; it was as if she had been to them an angel from heaven.  The story of her visits and loving sympathy became a part of their family history.

To Mrs. Humphrey, New York, Jan. 26, 1872.

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I came home half frozen from my early walk this morning, to get warm not only at the fire, but at your letter, which I found awaiting me.  I am glad if you got anything out of your visit here.  I rather think you and I shall “rattle on” together after we get to heaven....  You say, “How skilfully God does fashion our crosses for us!” Yes, He does.  And for my part, I don’t want to rest and be happy without crosses—­for I can’t do without them.  People who set themselves up to be pastors and teachers must “learn in suffering” what they teach in sermon and book.  I felt a good deal reproved for making so much of mine, however, by my further visits to the house of mourning of which we spoke to you.  The little boy died early on the next day, and before his funeral his poor mother, neglected by everybody else, found it some comfort to get into my arms and cry there.  It made no difference that twenty years had passed since I had had a sorrow akin to hers; we mothers may cease to grieve, outwardly, but we never forget what has gone out of our sight, or ever grow unsympathetic because time has soothed and quieted us.  But I need not say this to you.  This was on Saturday; all day Monday I was there watching a most lovely little girl, about six years old, writhing in agony; she died early next morning.  The next eldest has been in a critical state, but will probably recover a certain degree of health, but as a helpless cripple.  Well, I felt that death alone was inexorable—­other enemies we may hope and pray and fight against—­and that while my children lived, I need not despair.  The tax on my sympathies in the case of those half-distracted parents has been terrible, and yet I wouldn’t accept a cold heart if I had the offer of it.

To give you another side of my life, let me tell you of a pleasant dinner party one night last week, when we met Gov. and Mrs. C——­, of Massachusetts, and I fell in love with her then and there....  Well, this is a queer world, full of queer things and queer people.  Will the next one be more commonplace?  I know not.  Good-bye.

Word has come from that afflicted household that the grandfather has died suddenly of heart disease.  His wife died a few weeks ago.  Mr. Prentiss saw him on Saturday in vigorous health.

To Miss Rebecca F. Morse, New York, March 5,1872.

Can you tell me where the blotting-pads can be obtained?  I have got into a hospital of spines; in other words, of people who can only write lying on their backs, one of them an authoress, and I think it would be a mercy to them if I could furnish them with the means of writing with more ease than they do now.  I was sorry you could not come last Friday, and hope you will be able to join us Saturday, when the club meets here....  How you would have enjoyed yesterday afternoon with me!  I went to call on a lady from Vermont, who is here for spinal treatment, and found in her room another of the patients.  Two such

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bright creatures I never met at once, and we got a-going at such a rate that though I had never seen either of them before, I stayed nearly three hours!  I mean to have another dose of them before long, and give them another dose of E. P. I have been reading a book called “The Presence of Christ” [9]—­which I liked so well that I got a copy to lend.  It is not a great book, but I think it will be a useful one.  It says we are all idolaters, and reminds me of my besetting sins in that direction.  I feel overwhelmed when I think how many young people are looking to me for light and help, knowing how much I need both myself....  Every now and then some Providential event occurs that wakes us up, and we find that we have been asleep and dreaming, and that what we have been doing that made us fancy ourselves awake, was mechanical.

I must be off now to my sewing society, which is a great farce, since I can earn thirty or forty times as much with my pen as I can with my needle, and if they would let me stay at home and write, I would give them the results of my morning’s work.  But the minute I stop going everybody else stops.

To Mrs. Condict, April 7, 1872.

How I should love to spend this evening with you!  This has been our Communion Sunday, and I am sure the service would have been very soothing to your poor, sore heart.  And yet why do I say poor when I know it is rich?  Oh, you might have the same sorrow without faith and patience with which to bear it, and think how dreadful that would be!  Your little lamb has been spending his first Sunday with the Good Shepherd and other lambs of the flock, and has been as happy as the day is long.  Perhaps your two children and mine are claiming kinship together.  If they met in a foreign land they would surely claim it for our sakes; why not in the land that is not foreign, and not far off?  But still these are not the thoughts to bring you special comfort.  “Thy will be done!” does the whole.  And yet my heart aches for you.  Some one, who had never had a real sorrow, told Mrs. N. that if she submitted to God’s will as she ought, she would cease to suffer.  What a fallacy this is!  Mrs. N. was comforted by hearing that your little one was taken away by the consequences of the fever, as her Nettie was, for she had reproached herself with having neglected her to see to Johnny, who died first, and thought this neglect had allowed her to take cold.  I feel very sorry when mothers torture themselves in this needless way, as if God could not avert ill consequences, if He chose.

I have shed more than one tear to-day.  I heard last night that my dearly-loved brother, Prof.  Hopkins, is on his dying-bed.  I never thought of his dying, he comes of such a long-lived race.  I expect to go to see him, and if I find I can be of any use or comfort, stay a week or two.  His death will come very near to me, but he is a saintly man, and I am glad for him that he can go.  How

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thankful we shall be when our turn comes!  The ladies at our little meeting were deeply interested in what I had to tell them about your dear boy, and prayed for you with much feeling.  May our dear Lord bless you abundantly with His sweet presence!  I know He will.  And yet He has willed it that you should suffer.  “Himself hath done it!” Oh how glad He will be when the dispensation of suffering is over, and He can gather His beloved round Him, tearless, free from sorrow and care, and all forever at rest.

May 5th.—­Yesterday, the friend at East Dorset whose three children died within a few weeks of each other, sent me some verses, of which I copy one for you: 

  “The eye of faith beholds
    A golden stair, like that of old, whereon
    Fair spirits go and come;
  God’s angels coming down on errands sweet,
    Our angels going home.”

I hope this golden stair, up which your dear boy climbed “with shout and song,” is covered with God’s angels coming down to bless and comfort you.  One of the most touching passages in the Bible, to my mind, is that which describes angels as coming to minister to Jesus after His temptations in the wilderness.  It gives one such an idea of His helplessness!  Just as I was going out to church this morning, Mr. Prentiss told me of the death of a charming “baby-boy,” one of our lambs, and I could scarcely help bursting into tears, though I had only seen him once.  You can hardly understand how I feel, as a pastor’s wife, toward our people.  Their sorrows come right home.  I have a friend also hanging in agonizing suspense over a little one who has been injured by a fall; she is sweetly submissive, but you know what a mother’s heart is.  I have yet another friend, who has had to give up her baby.  She is a young mother, and far from her family, but says she has “perfect peace.”  So from all sides I hear sorrowful sounds, but so much faith and obedience mingled with the sighs, that I can only wonder at what God can do.

To Miss Morse, May 7, 1872.

How true and how strange it is that our deepest sorrows, spring from our sweetest affections; that as we love much, we suffer much.  What instruments of torture our hearts are!  The passage you quote is all true but people are apt to be impatient in affliction, eager to drink the bitter cup at a draught rather than drop by drop, and fain to dig up the seed as soon as it is planted, to see if it has germinated.  I am fond of quoting that passage about “the peaceable fruit of righteousness” coming “afterward.”

I have just come from the funeral of a little “Wee Davie”; all the crosses around his coffin were tiny ones, and he had a small floral harp in his hand.  I thought as I looked upon his face, still beautiful, though worn, that even babies have to be introduced to the cross, for he had a week of fearful struggle before he was released....  I enclose an extract I made for you from a work on the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This was all the paper I had at hand at the moment.  The recipe for “curry” I have copied into my recipe-book, and the two lines at the top of the page I addressed to M. A queer mixture of the spiritual and the practical, but no stranger than life’s mixtures always are.

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To a young Friend, New York, May 20th, 1872.

As to assurance of faith, I think we may all have that, and in my own darkest hours this faith has not been disturbed.  I have just come home from a brief visit to Miss ——­, with whom I had some interesting discussions.  I use the word discussions advisedly, for we love each other in constant disagreement.  She believes in holiness by faith, while denying that she has herself attained it.  I think her life, as far as I can see it, very true and beautiful.  We spent a whole evening talking about temptation.  Not long ago I met with a passage, in French, to this effect—­I quote from memory only:  &ldqu