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The Life and Letters of Elizabeth Prentiss by George L. Prentiss

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"I see how it is," said the Countess. "You must live together. Each
feels herself incomplete without the others. Novella needs somebody to
take care of her and somebody to love. In return, she will give love and
endless entertainment. Reima, too, needs looking after, and some one
will watch with a friendly eye the growth of her paintings. Our two
musicians must not become one-sided by thinking only of melody and
song. They must enjoy being clothed by Moina's kind hands, listening to
Novella's poems, and discussing Reima's works. And you must train all
your ears to appreciate the talents of these two marvellous creatures
who sing and play with such rare, such exquisite harmony."

"And what shall I do?" cried Delicieuse.

"You shall do a little of everything, dear child. You shall help Moina
to guide the house, and Reima to mix the colors. You shall take care
that the piano is never out of tune, or Novella at a loss for pens and
paper. In a word, you shall be what you always have been, always ready
with the oil of gladness, wherever you see friction, the sweetest, the
most lovable creature in the world."

Delicieuse smiled, and ran to embrace all her sisters, hardly knowing
which she loved best.

It was not long before those royal maidens, royal only in their virtues
and their talents, found themselves in a home in a vine-clad land, where
each could live as Nature had designed she should live.

Moina, whose practical skill was not confined to her needle, kept the
house with such exquisite care and neatness, that her sisters preferred
it to a palace. She found happiness in forgetting herself, in her pride
in them, and in the freedom from petty cares from which she shielded
them. Her calm, serene character was a continual repose to the varying
moods of Reima and Novella; a balance-wheel to works that, running fast,
often ran irregularly. Reima studied the old masters with no need for
further travel, for her home lay among their works.

Mosella and Papeta composed music, made Delicieuse listen to and
admire it when other hearers were wanting, and were satisfied with her

Novella wrote books, and had her frenzies. She had her gentle and her
gay moods, also, and made laughter ring through the house at her will.
Not one of these four was conscious of her powers, or asked for fame.
Nor did their aristocratic breeding make them ashamed to work for their
bread. They even fancied that bread thus won, needed less butter to help
it down, than that of charity.

As to Delicieuse, she was the bright, the golden link that bound the
household together in peace and harmony. Her smiles, her caresses, the
love that flowed forth from her as from a living fountain, made their
home glad with perpetual sunshine. Thank God for the gifts of genius He
has scattered abroad with a bountiful hand; but thank Him also that,
without such gifts, one may become a joy and a benediction!

18. _Aunt Jane's Hero_. 1871.

This work was at once republished in England and appeared also in a
French version.

19. _Golden Hours: Hymns and Songs of the Christian Life_. 1873.

Several of the pieces in this volume had already appeared; among them
"More Love to Thee, O Christ." This hymn has passed into most of the
later collections. It was translated into Arabic, and is sung in the
land once trodden by the blessed feet of Him whose name it adores, and
throughout the East.

20. _Urbane and His Friends_. 1874.

This work was reprinted in England.

21. _Griselda: A Dramatic Poem in Five Acts_. Translated from the German
of Friedrich Halm (Baron Muench-Bellinghausen). 1876.

Mrs. Prentiss supposed that hers was the first English version of this
poem. But there is a translation by Sir R. A. Anstruther, which appeared
in London as early as 1840 and in a new edition four years later. All
attempts to obtain a copy of this translation in New York, or from
London, have proved futile.

22. _The Home at Greylock_. 1876.

The following extract from a letter of the author of the French
translation to Mrs. Prentiss deserves a place here:

MADAME,--Vous savez sans doute que, sans votre autorisation, une plume,
bien hardie peut-etre, mais pleine de zele et de respect pour vous,
s'est mise a traduire un de vos ouvrages, "The Home at Greylock." Sans
votre autorisation! Etait-ce bien? etait-ce mal? Je me le suis demande
plus d'une fois et je vous l'aurais demande, Madame, si j'avais su votre
adresse assez tot.

L'editeur m'a mis la conscience a l'aise en m'assurant que le droit
etait le meme pour tous, et que les auteurs americains ne pouvaient
conceder de privilege a qui que ce fut. Forte de cette assurance, je me
mis a l'oeuvre, mais j'avoue que j'eus besoin d'encouragements reiteres
pour mener mon travail a bonne fin. Encore un mot d'explication, si vous
le permittez, Madame. Je ne suis pas mere, mais je suis tante; j'ai vu
naitre mes neveux et nieces, je les ai berces dans mes bras, j'ai veille
sur leurs premiers pas, j'ai observe le developpement graduel de leur
coeur et de leur intelligence, j'ai senti a fond combien l'oeuvre
de l'education est serieuse et combien il importe d'etre discipline
soi-meme par le Seigneur pour discipliner les petits confies a nos
soins. Il n'est done pas etonnant que votre livre m'ait vivement
interessee et que j'aie voulu le mettre a la portee d'un grand nombre.
Cela eut ete fait tut ou tard par d'autres, je ne l'ignore point; mais
j'avais envie d'essayer mes forces, et.... l'occasion a fait le larron.
Ne seriez-vous pas ma complice, Madame?...

M'appuyant sur votre bienveillame et sur la fraternite qui unit les ames
dans le Seigneur, je vous prie, Madame, de ne pas me considerer comme
une etrangere et d'agreer l'expression de mon estime et mes voeux en

23. _Pemaquid; a Story of Old Times in New England._ 1877.

24. _Gentleman Jim_. 1878.

This little story was the last production of her pen and appeared a few
days only after her death.

25. _Avis Benson; or, Mine and Thine, with other Sketches_. 1879.

This is a collection of pieces that had already appeared in the Chicago
Advance and in the New York Observer. It met with a cordial welcome and
has had a large circulation.

Some of the readers of Mrs. Prentiss' books may be glad to see a
specimen of her handwriting. The following is a fac-simile of the
closing part of a letter to her cousin, Miss Shipman, written at Dorset
in 1867:

[Illustration: Handwriting Sample]

[1] B. J. Lossing, L.L.D., in the Christian Union of Oct. 15, 1879.

[2] B. J. Lossing in The Christian Union.

[3] Mr. Nathaniel Willis, then in his 76th year. He died at Boston, May
26, 1870, in the 90th year of his age.

[4] Sickness: its Trials and Blessings. A very wise and comforting book.
She bequeathed it back to Mrs. Prentiss at her death.

[5] To aid in defending it against the "Border-Ruffians."

[6] Mrs. Prentiss was on her way to Europe. Before sailing she went to
Williamstown to say good-bye to her sister, but the latter was too ill
to see her. They never met again on earth.

[7] Referring to the family of Rev. Wm. James, D.D., of Albany.

[8] Sent from Genevrier.

[9] N. P. Willis.

[10] The Boston Recorder and The Youth's Companion.

[11] The late George Ripley, the eminent scholar and critic, is referred
to. In a letter, dated New York, Nov. 20, 1879, Mr. Ripley writes:

"I beg you to accept, dear Dr. Prentiss, my most cordial thanks for
your kindness in sending me the extract from Miss Payson's journal. I
remember perfectly the visits of the young German enthusiast to my house
in Boston and the great pleasure they always gave to my wife and myself.
My acquaintance with her, I think, was through Mr. Tappan's family, of
which your former parishioner and my dear friend and classmate, Thomas
Denny, afterward became a member. With my infatuation for New England
people and New England biography and genealogy and literary endeavor,
it would give me great delight to be permitted to see Miss Payson's

The journal was sent to Dr. Ripley and read by him with great pleasure.
The incident led to the renewal of an old acquaintance and to repeated
visits at his residence--one shortly before his death--which left upon
the writer a strong impression of his deep interest in theological and
religious truth, as well as of his genial temper and remarkable literary

[12] The late Rev. John Adams Albro, D.D., of Cambridge.

[13] Leonard Woods, Jr., D.D., then President of Bowdoin College.

[14] Allgemeiner literarischer Anzeiger fuer das evangelische
Deutschland, Jan., 1873.

[Illustration: Dorset Mountains.]

[Illustration: A View of Chateau d'Oex.]

[Illustration: La Maison des Bains.]

[Illustration: The Old Mill and Pond.]

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