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.