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.

The following is an extract from a letter to another friend, dated Feb. 20, 1875: 

Your last letter was so eloquent in its happiness that in writing an article for a magazine on the subject of education, I could not help beginning “The King is coming,” and depicting his heralds...  I am indeed rejoicing in your joy, and hope the little queen will long sit on the right royal throne of your heart.  Keep me posted as to Miss Baby’s progress.  I know a family where the first son was called “Boy” for years, the servants addressing him as “Master Boy.”

Here are the opening sentences of the article referred to: 

The King is at hand.  Heralds have been announcing his advent in language incomprehensible to man, but which woman understands as she does her alphabet.  A dainty basket, filled with mysteries half hidden, half displayed; soft little garments, folded away in ranks and files; here delicate lace and cambric; there down and feathers and luxury.  The King has come.  Limp and pink, a nothing and nobody, yet welcomed and treasured as everything and everybody, his wondrous reign begins.  His kingdom is the world.  His world is peopled by two human beings.  Yesterday, they were a boy and a girl.  To-day, they are man and woman, and are called father and mother.

Their new King is imperious.  He has his own views as to the way he shall live and move and have his being.  He has his own royal table, at which he presides in royal pomp.  His waiting-maid is refined and educated—­his superior in everyway.  He takes his meals from her when he sees fit; if he can not sleep, he will not allow her to do so.  His treasurer is a man whom thousands look up to, and reverence, but, in this little world, he is valued only for the supplies he furnishes, the equipages he purchases, the castle in which young royalty dwells.  The picture is not unpleasing, however; the slaves have the best of it, after all.

The reign is not very long.  Two years later, there is a descent from the throne, to make room for the Queen.  She is a great study to him.  He puts his fingers into her eyes to learn if they are little blue lakelets.  He grows chivalrous and patronizing.  So the world of home goes on.  The King and Queen give place to new Kings and Queens, but, though dethroned, they are still royal; their wants are forestalled, they are fed, clothed, instructed, but above all, beloved.  When did their education begin?  At six months?  A year?  Two years?  No; it began when they began; the moment they entered the little world they called theirs.  Every touch of the mother’s hand, every tone of her voice, educates her child.  It never remembers a time when she was not its devoted lover, servant, vassal, slave.  Many an ear enjoys, is soothed by music, while ignorant of its laws.  So the youngest child in the household is lulled by uncomprehended harmonies from its very birth.  Affections group round and bless it, like so many angels; it could not analyse or comprehend an angel, but it could feel the soft shelter of his wings. [13]

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