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