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: