Learning was so illumined, that grammar was eclipsed. Etymology was divine history, voicing the idea of God in man’s origin and signification. Syntax was spiritual order and unity. Prosody, the song of angels, and no earthly or inglorious theme.
From childhood I was a verse-maker. Poetry suited my emotions better than prose. The following is one of my girlhood productions.
ALPHABET AND BAYONET
If fancy plumes aerial flight,
Go fix thy restless mind
On learning’s lore and wisdom’s might,
And live to bless mankind.
The sword is sheathed, ’tis freedom’s hour,
No despot bears misrule,
Where knowledge plants the foot of power
In our God-blessed free school.
Forth from this fount the
That widen in their course.
Hero and sage arise to show
Science the mighty source,
And laud the land whose talents rock
The cradle of her power,
And wreaths are twined round Plymouth Rock,
From erudition’s bower.
Farther than feet of chamois
Free as the generous air,
Strains nobler far than clarion call
Wake freedom’s welcome, where
Minerva’s silver sandals still
Are loosed, and not effete;
Where echoes still my day-dreams thrill,
Woke by her fancied feet.
At the age of twelve[A] I was admitted to the Congregational (Trinitarian) Church, my parents having been members of that body for a half-century. In connection with this event, some circumstances are noteworthy. Before this step was taken, the doctrine of unconditional election, or predestination, greatly troubled me; for I was unwilling to be saved, if my brothers and sisters were to be numbered among those who were doomed to perpetual banishment from God. So perturbed was I by the thoughts aroused by this erroneous doctrine, that the family doctor was summoned, and pronounced me stricken with fever.
My father’s relentless theology emphasized belief in a final judgment-day, in the danger of endless punishment, and in a Jehovah merciless towards unbelievers; and of these things he now spoke, hoping to win me from dreaded heresy.
My mother, as she bathed my burning temples, bade me lean on God’s love, which would give me rest, if I went to Him in prayer, as I was wont to do, seeking His guidance. I prayed; and a soft glow of ineffable joy came over me. The fever was gone, and I rose and dressed myself, in a normal condition of health. Mother saw this, and was glad. The physician marvelled; and the “horrible decree” of predestination—as John Calvin rightly called his own tenet—forever lost its power over me.