The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 929 pages of information about The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss.

[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.

CHAPTER VII

THE STRUGGLE WITH ILL-HEALTH.

1861-1865.

I.

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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The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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