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

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admiration. In about ten days the work was finished. The manuscript was
in a clear, delicate hand and without an erasure. Upon its publication
it was at once recognised as a production of real genius, inimitable
in its kind, and neither the popular verdict nor the verdict of the
children as to its merits has ever changed.

Mrs. Prentiss, as has been stated already, began to write for the press
at an early age. But from the time of her going to Richmond till 1853--a
period of thirteen years--her pen was well nigh idle, except in the way
of correspondence. When, therefore, she gave herself again to literary
labor, it was with a largely increased fund of knowledge and experience
upon which to draw. These thirteen years had taught her rich lessons,
both in literature and in life. They had been especially fruitful in
revealing to her the heart of childhood and quickening her sympathy with
its joys and sorrows. And all these lessons prepared her to write Little
Susy's Six Birthdays and the other Susy books.

The year 1854 was marked by the birth of her fourth child, and by the
publication of _The Flower of the Family._ This work was received with
great favor both at home and abroad. It was soon translated into French
under the title, _La Fleur de la Famille,_ and later into German under
the title, _Die Perle der Familie_. In both languages it received the
warmest praise.

In a letter to her friend Mrs. Clark, of Portland, she thus refers to
this book:

I long to have it doing good. I never had such desires about anything
in my life; and I never sat down to write without first praying that I
might not be suffered to write anything that would do harm, and that, on
the contrary, I might be taught to say what would do good. And it
has been a great comfort to me that every word of praise I ever have
received from others concerning it has been "it will do good," and this
I have had from so many sources that amid much trial and sickness ever
since its publication, I have had rays of sunshine creeping in now and
then to cheer and sustain me.

To the same friend, just bereft of her two children, she writes a few
months later:

Is it possible, is it possible that you are made childless? I feel
distressed for you, my dear friend; I long to fly to you and weep with
you; it seems as if I _must_ say or do something to comfort you. But God
only can help you now, and how thankful I am for a throne of grace and
power where I can commend you, again and again, to Him who doeth all
things well.

I never realise my own affliction in the loss of my children as I do
when death enters the house of a friend. Then I feel that _I can't have
it so._ But why should I think I know better than my Divine Master what
is good for me, or good for those I love! Dear Carrie,'! trust that in
this hour of sorrow you have with you that Presence, before which alone
sorrow and sighing flee away. _God_ is left; _Christ_ is left; sickness,
accident, death can not touch you here. Is not this a blissful
thought?... As I sit at my desk my eye is attracted by the row of books
before me, and what a comment on life are their very titles: "Songs in
the Night," "Light on Little Graves," "The Night of Weeping," "The Death
of Little Children," "The Folded Lamb," "The Broken Bud," these have
strayed one by one into my small enclosure, to speak peradventure a word
in season unto my weariness. And yet, dear Carrie, this is not all of
life. You and I have tasted some of its highest joys, as well as its
deepest sorrows, and it has in reserve for us only just what is best for
us. May sorrow bring us both nearer to Christ! I can almost fancy my
little Eddy has taken your little Maymee by the hand and led her to the
bosom of Jesus. How strange our children, our own little infants, have
seen Him in His glory, whom we are only yet longing for and struggling

If it will not frighten you to own a Unitarian book, there is one called
"Christian Consolation" by Rev. A. P. Peabody, that I think you would
find very profitable. I see nothing, or next to nothing, Unitarian
in it, while it is _full_ of rich, holy experience. One sermon on
"Contingent Events and Providence" touches your case exactly.

No event of special importance marked the year 1855. She spent the month
of July among her friends in Portland, and the next six weeks at the
Ocean House on Cape Elizabeth. This was one of her favorite places of
rest. She never tired of watching the waves and their "multitudinous
laughter," of listening to the roar of the breakers, or climbing the
rocks and wandering along the shore in quest of shells and sea-grasses.
In gathering and pressing the latter, she passed many a happy hour. In
August of this year appeared one of her best children's books, _Henry
and Bessie; or, What they Did in the Country._

* * * * *


A Memorable Year. Lines on the Anniversary of Eddy's Death. Extracts
from her Journal. _Little Susy's Six Teachers._ The Teachers' Meeting.
A New York Waif. Summer in the Country. Letters. _Little Susy's Little
Servants._ Extracts from her Journal. "Alone with God."

The records of the year 1856 are singularly full and interesting. It was
a year of poignant suffering, of sharp conflicts of soul, and of great
peace and joy. Its earlier months, especially, were shadowed by a dark
cloud of anxiety and distress. And her feeble bodily state caused by
care-worn days and sleepless nights, added to the trouble. Old sorrows,
too, came back again. On the 16th of January, the anniversary of Eddy's
death, she gave vent to her feelings in some pathetic verses, of which
the following lines form a part:

Four years, four weary years, my child,
Four years ago to-night,
With parting cry of anguish wild
Thy spirit took its flight; ah me!
Took its eternal flight.

And in that hour of mortal strife
I thought I felt the throe,
The birth-pang of a grief, whose life
Must soothe my tearless woe, must soothe
And ease me of my woe.

Yet folded far through all these years,
Folded from mortal eyes,
Lying alas "too deep for tears,"
Unborn, unborn it lies, within
My heart of heart it lies.

My sinless child! upon thy knees
Before the Master pray;
Methinks thy infant hands might seize
And shed upon my way sweet peace;
Sweet peace upon my way.

Here follow some extracts from her journal.

_Jan 3d. 1856._--Had no time to write on New Year's day, as we had a
host of callers. It was a very hard day, as I was quite unwell, and had
at last to give up and go to bed.

_15th_--Am quite uneasy about baby, as it seems almost impossible she
should long endure such severe pain and want of sleep. My life is a
very anxious one. I feel every day more and more longing for my home
in heaven. Sometimes I fear it amounts almost to a sinful longing--for
surely I ought to be willing to live or die, just as God pleases.

_Feb. 1st._--I have had no heart to make a record of what has befallen
us since I last wrote. And yet I may, sometime, want to recall this
experience, painful as it is. Dear little baby had been improving in
health, and on Wednesday we went to dine at Mrs. Wainright's. We went at
four. About eight, word came that she was ill. When I got home I found
her insensible, with her eyes wide open, her breathing terrific, and her
condition in every respect very alarming. Just as Dr. Buck was coming
in, she roused a little, but soon relapsed into the same state. He told
us she was dying. I felt like a stone, _In a moment_ I seemed to give up
my hold on her. She appeared no longer mine but God's. It is always
so in such great emergencies. _Then_, my will that struggles so about
trifles, makes no effort. But as we sat hour after hour watching the
alternations of color in her purple face and listening to that terrible
gasping, rattling sound, I said to myself "A few more nights like this,
and I do believe my body and soul would yield to such anguish." Oh, why
should I try to tell myself what a night it was. God knows, God only!
How He has smitten me by means of this child, He well knows. She
remained thus about twelve hours. Twelve hours of martyrdom to me such
as I never had known. Then to our unspeakable amazement she roused up,
nursed, and then fell into a sweet sleep of some hours.

_Sunday, Feb. 3d._--The stupor, or whatever it is, in which that
dreadful night has left me, is on me still. I have no more sense or
feeling than a stone. I kneel down before God and do not say a word.
I take up a book and read, but get hold of nothing. At church I felt
afraid I should fall upon the people and tear them. I could wish no one
to pity me or even know that I am smitten. It does seem to me that those
who can sit down and cry, know nothing of misery.

_Feb. 4th_.--At last the ice melts and I can get near my God--my only
comfort, my only joy, my All in all! This morning I was able to open my
heart to Him and to cast some of this burden on Him, who alone _knows_
what it is.... I see that it is sweet to be a pilgrim and a stranger,
and that it matters _very little_ what befalls me on the way to my
blessed home. If God pleases to spare my child a little longer, I will
be very thankful. May He take this season, when earthly comfort fails
me, to turn me more than ever to Himself. For some months I have enjoyed
a _great deal_ in Him. Prayer has been very sweet and I have had some
glimpses of joys indescribable.

_6th._--She still lives. I know not what to think. One moment I think
one thing and the next another. It is harder to submit to this suspense
than to a real, decided blow. But I desire to leave it to my God. He
knows all her history and all mine. He orders all these aggravating
circumstances and I would not change them. My darling has not lived in
vain. For eighteen months she has been the little rod used by my Father
for my chastisement and not, I think, quite in vain. Oh my God! stay
not Thy hand till Thou hast perfected that which concerneth me. Send
anything rather than unsanctified prosperity.

_Feb. 10th._--To help divert my mind from such incessant brooding over
my sorrows, I am writing a new book. I had just begun it when baby's
ill-turn arrested me. I trust it may do some little good; at least I
would not dare to write it, if it _could_ do none. May God bless it!

_Feb. 14th._--Wanted to go to the prayer-meeting but concluded to take
A. to hear Gough at the Tabernacle. Seeing such a crowd always makes
me long to be in that happy crowd of saints and angels in heaven, and
hearing children sing so sweetly made me pray for an entrance into the
singing, praising multitude there. Oh, when shall I be one of that
blessed company who _sin_ not! My book is done; may God bless it to
_one_ child at least--then it will not have been wasted time.

The book referred to was _Little Susy's Six Teachers_. It was published
in the spring, and at once took its place beside the _Six Birthdays_ in
the hearts of the children; a place it still continues to hold. The six
teachers are Mrs. Love, Mr. Pain, Aunt Patience, Mr. Ought, Miss Joy,
and the angel Faith. At the end of six years they hold a meeting and
report to little Susy's parents what they have been doing. The closing
chapter, herewith quoted, gives an account of this meeting, and may
serve as a specimen of the style and spirit of all the Little Susy

"If Mr. Pain is to be at the meeting, I can't go," said Miss Joy.

She stood on tip-toe before the glass, dressing herself in holiday

"Perhaps he would be willing to leave his rod behind him," said Mrs.
Love. "I will ask him at all events."

Mr. Pain thought he should not feel at home without his rod. He said he
always liked to have it in his hands, whether he was to use it or not.

Miss Joy was full of fun and mischief about this time, so she slipped
up slyly behind Mr. Pain while he was talking and snatched away the
rod before he could turn round. Mrs. Love smiled on seeing this little
trick, and they all went down to the parlor and seated themselves with
much gravity. Little Susy sat in the midst in her own low chair looking
wide awake, you may depend. Her papa and mamma sat on each side like two
judges. Mrs. Love rocked herself in the rocking-chair in a contented,
easy way; and Aunt Patience, who liked to do such things, helped Miss
Joy to find the leaves of her report--which might have been rose-leaves,
they were so small.

Mr. Ought looked very good indeed, and the angel Faith shone across the
room like a sunbeam.

"Susy will be six years old to-morrow," said her papa. "You have all
been teaching her ever since she was born. We will now listen to your
reports and hear what you have taught her, and whether you have done her
any good."

They were all silent, but everybody looked at Mrs. Love as much as to
say she should begin. Mrs. Love took out a little book with a sky-blue
cover and began to read:

"I have not done much for Susy, but love her dearly; and I have not
taught her much, but to love everybody. When she was a baby I tried to
teach her to smile, but I don't think I could have taught her if Miss
Joy had not helped me. And when she was sick, I was always sorry for
her, and tried to comfort her."

"You have done her a great deal of good," said Susy's papa, "we will
engage you to stay six years longer, should God spare her life."

Then Mr. Pain took up his book. It had a black cover, but the leaves
were gilt-edged and the cover was spangled with stars.

"I have punished Susy a good many times," said Mr. Pain. "Sometimes I
slapped her with my hand; sometimes I struck her with my rod; sometimes
I made her sick; but I never did any of these things because I was angry
with her or liked to hurt her. I only came when Mrs. Love called me."

"You have taught her excellent lessons," said Susy's papa, "if it had
not been for you she would be growing up disobedient and selfish. You
may stay six years longer."

Then Mr. Pain made a low bow and said he was thinking of going away and
sending his brother, Mr. Sorrow, and his sister, Mrs. Disappointment, to
take his place."

"Oh, no!" cried Susy's mamma, "not yet, not yet! Susy is still so

Then Mr. Pain said he would stay without a rod, as Susy was now too old
to be whipped.

Then Miss Joy took up her book with its rainbow cover and tried to read.
But she laughed so heartily all the time, and her leaves kept flying out
of her hands at such a rate, that it was not possible to understand what
she was saying. It was all about clapping hands and running races, and
picking flowers and having a good time. Everybody laughed just because
she laughed, and Susy's papa could hardly keep his face grave long
enough to say:

"You have done more good than tongue can tell. You have made her just
such a merry, happy, laughing little creature as I wanted her to be. You
must certainly stay six years longer."

Then Mr. Ought drew forth his book. It had silver covers and its leaves
were of the most delicate tissue.

"I have taught little Susy to be good," said he. "Never to touch what
is not hers; never to speak a word that is not true; never to have a
thought she would not like the great and holy God to see. If I stay six
years longer I can teach her a great deal more, for she begins now to
understand my faintest whisper. She is such a little girl as I love to
live with."

Then Susy turned rosy-red with pleasure, and her papa and mamma got up
and shook hands with Mr. Ought and begged him never, never to leave
their darling child as long as she lived.

It was now the turn of Aunt Patience. Her book had covers wrought by her
own hands in grave and gay colors well mingled together.

"When I first came here," she said, "Susy used to cry a great deal
whenever she was hurt or punished. When she was sick she was very hard
to please. When she sat down to learn to sew and to read and to write,
she would break her thread in anger, or throw her book on the floor, or
declare she never could learn. But now she has left off crying when she
is hurt, and tries to bear the pain quietly. When she is sick she does
not fret or complain, but takes her medicine without a word. When she
is sewing she does not twitch her thread into knots, and when she is
writing she writes slowly and carefully. I have rocked her to sleep
a thousand times. I have been shut up in a closet with her again and
again, and I hope I have done her some good and taught her some useful

"Indeed you have, Aunt Patience," said Susy's papa, "but Susy is not yet
perfect. We shall need you six years longer."

And now the little angel Faith opened his golden book and began to read:

"I have taught Susy that there is another world besides this, and have
told her that it is her real home, and what a beautiful and happy one it
is. I have told her a great deal about Jesus and the holy angels. I do
not know much myself. I am not very old, but if I stay here six years
longer I shall grow wiser and I will teach Susy all I learn, and we will
pray together every morning and every night, till at last she loves the
Lord Jesus with all her heart and soul and mind and strength."

Then Susy's papa and mamma looked at each other and smiled, and they
both said:

"Oh, beautiful angel, never leave her!"

And the angel answered:

"I will stay with her as long as she lives, and will never leave her
till I leave her at the very door of heaven."

Then the teachers began to put up their books, and Susy's papa and mamma
kissed her, and said:

"We have had a great deal of comfort in our little daughter; and, with
God's blessing, we shall see her grow up a loving, patient, and obedient
child--full of joy and peace and rich in faith and good works."

So they all bade each other good-night and went thankfully to bed.

The next entry in the journal notes a trait of character, or rather of
temperament, which often excited the wonder and also the anxiety of
her friends. It caused her no little discomfort, but she could never
withstand its power.

_March 21st_.--I have been busy with a sewing fit and find the least
interesting piece of work I can get hold of, as great a temptation
as the most charming. For if its _charm_ does not absorb my time and
thoughts, the eager haste to finish and get it out of the way, does.
This is my life. I either am stupefied by ill-health or sorrow, so as
to feel no interest in anything, or am _absorbed_ in whatever business,
work or pleasure I have on hand.

But neither anxiety about her child, household cares, or any work she
had in hand, so absorbed her thoughts as to render her insensible to the
sorrows and trials of others. On the contrary, they served rather to
call forth and intensify her kindly sympathies. A single case will
illustrate this. A poor little girl--one of those waifs of humanity in
which a great city abounds--had been commended to her by a friend. In a
letter to this friend, dated March 17, 1856, she writes:

That little girl came, petticoat and all; we gave her some breakfast,
and I then went down with her to Avenue A. On the way, she told me that
you gave her some money. To my great sorrow we found, on reaching the
school, that they could not take another one, as they were already
overflowing. As we came out, I saw that the poor little soul was just
ready to burst into tears, and said to her "Now you're disappointed, I
know!" whereupon she actually looked up into my face and _smiled_. You
know I was afraid I never should make her smile, she looked so forlorn.
I brought her home to get some books, as she said she could read, and
she is to come again to-morrow. A lady to whom I told the whole story,
sent me some stockings that would about go on to her big toe; however,
they will be nice for her little sister. The weather has been so mild
that I thought it would not be worth while to make her a cloak or
anything of that sort; but next fall I shall see that she is comfortably
clad, if she behaves as well as she did the day she was here. Oh, dear!
what a drop in the great bucket of New York misery, one such child is!
Yet somebody must look out for the drops, and I am only too thankful to
seize on this one.

In June she went, with the children, to Westport, Conn., where in rural
quiet and seclusion she passed the next three months. Here are some
extracts from her letters, written from that place:

Westport, _June 25, 1856._

We had a most comfortable time getting here; both the children enjoyed
the ride, and baby seemed unusually bright. Judge Betts was very
attentive and kind to us. Mrs. G. grows more and more pleasant every
day. We have plenty of good food, but she worries because I do not eat
more. You know I never was famous for eating meat, and country dinners
are not tempting. You can't think how we enjoy seeing the poultry fed.
There are a hundred and eighty hens and chickens, and you should see
baby throw her little hand full of corn to them. We went strawberrying
yesterday, all of us, and the way she was poked through bars and lifted
over stone-walls would have amused you. She is already quite sunburnt;
but I think she is looking sweetly. I find myself all the time peeping
out of the window, thinking every step is yours, or that every wagon
holds a letter for me.

_To Miss A. H. Woolsey, Westport, June 27._

Mr. P. enclosed your kind note in one of his own, after first reading it
himself, if you ever heard of such a man. I had to laugh all alone while
reading it, which was not a little provoking. We are having very nice
times here indeed. Breakfast at eight, dinner at half-past twelve, and
tea at half-past six, giving us an afternoon of unprecedented length
for such lounging, strawberrying or egg-hunting as happens to be on
the carpet. The air is perfectly loaded with the fragrance of clover
blossoms and fresh hay. I never saw such clover in my life; roses are
nothing in comparison. I only want an old nag and a wagon, so as to
drive a load of children about these lovely regions, and that I hope
every moment to attain. To be sure, it would be amazingly convenient
if I had a table, and didn't have to sit on the floor to write upon
a trunk; but then one can't have everything, and I am almost too
comfortable with what I have. A. is busy reading Southey to her
"children"; baby is off searching for eggs, and her felicity reached its
height when she found an ambitious hen had laid two in her carriage,
which little thought what it was coming to the country for. I think the
dear child already looks better; she lives in the open air and enjoys

Mrs. Buck lives about half a mile below us, and we run back and forth
many times a day. I have already caught the country fashion of rushing
to the windows the moment a wheel or an opening gate is heard. I fancy
everybody is bringing me a letter or else want to send one to the
office, and the only way to do that is to scream at passers-by and
ask them if they are going that way. If you hear that I am often seen
driving a flock of geese down the road, or climbing stone walls, or
creeping through bar fences, you needn't believe a word of it, for I am
a pattern of propriety, and pride myself on my dignity. I hope, now
you have begun so charmingly, that you will write again. You know what
letters are in the country.

_To her Husband, Westport, June 27._

I wonder where you are this lovely morning? Having a nice time
somewhere, I do hope, for it is too fine a day to be lost. If you want
to know where I am, why I'm sitting at the window writing on a trunk
that I have just lifted into a chair, in order to make a table. For
table there, is none in this room, and how am I to write a book without
one? If ever I get down to the village, I hope to buy, beg, borrow or
steal one, and until that time am putting off beginning my new
Little Susy. [7] That note from Miss Warner, by the by, spoke so
enthusiastically of the Six Teachers that I felt compensated for the
mortification of hearing -------- call it a "nice" book. You will be
sorry to hear that I have no prospect of getting a horse. I am quite
disappointed, as besides the pleasure of driving our children, I hoped
to give Mrs. Buck and the boys a share in it. Only to think of her
bringing up from the city a beefsteak for baby, and proposing that the
doctor should send a small piece for her every day! Thank you, darling,
for your proposal about the Ocean House. I trust no such change will be
needful. We are all comfortable now, the weather is delicious, and there
are so many pretty walks about here, that I am only afraid I shall be
too well off. Everything about the country is charming to me, and I
never get tired of it. The first few days nurse seemed a good deal out
of sorts; but I must expect some such little vexations; of course, I can
not have perfection, and for dear baby's sake I shall try to exercise
all the prudence and forbearance I can.

_Sunday._--We went to church this morning and heard a most instructive
and, I thought, superior sermon from Mr. Burr of Weston, on progress in
religious knowledge. He used the very illustration about the cavern and
the point of light that you did.

_July 7th._--We all drove to the beach on Saturday. It was just the very
day for such a trip, and baby was enchanted. She sat right down and
began to gather stones and shells, as if she had the week before her. We
were gone three hours and came home by way of the village, quite in
the mood for supper. Yesterday we had a pleasant service; Mr. Atkinson
appears to be a truly devout, heavenly man to whom I felt my heart knit
at the outset on this account, I am taking great delight in reading the
Memoir of Miss Allibone. [8] How I wish I had a friend of so heavenly a
temper! I fear my new Little Susy will come out at the little end of the
horn. I am sure it won't be so good as the others. It is more than one
quarter done.

_July 21st._--What do you think I did this forenoon? Why, I finished
Little Susy and shall lay it aside for some days, when I shall read it
over, correct, and pack it off out of the way. Yes, I wish you would
bring my German Hymn Book. I am so glad you liked the hymns I had
marked! [9] And do get well so as not to have to leave off preaching the
Gospel. My heart dies within me whenever I think of your leaving the
ministry. Every day I live, it appears to me that the office of a
Christian pastor and teacher is the best in the world. I shall not be
able to write you a word to-morrow, as we are to go to Greenfield Hill
to Miss Murray's, and you must take to-morrow's love to-night--if you
think you can stand so much at once. God be with you and bless you.

_July 30th._--Baby and I have just been having a great frolic. She was
so pleased with your message that she caught up your letter and kissed
it, which I think very remarkable in a child who, I am sure, never saw
such a thing done. A. seems well and happy, and is as good as I think we
ought to expect. I see more and more every day, that if there ever _was_
such a thing as human perfection, it was as long ago as David's time
when, as he says, he saw the "end" of it. How very kind the W.'s have

_August 3d._--I got hold of Dr. Boardman's "Bible in the Family," at the
Bucks yesterday, and brought it home to read. I like it very much. There
is a vein of humor running through it which, subdued as it is, must have
awakened a good many smiles. He quotes some lines of Coleridge, which I
wonder I did not have as a motto for Susy's Teachers:

Love, Hope and Patience, these must be thy graces,
And in thine own heart let them first _keep school_.

_To Miss Mary B. Shipman, Westport, August 11._

Dr. Buck, who has seen her twice since we came here, thinks baby
wonderfully improved, and says every day she lives increases her chance
of life. I have been exceedingly encouraged by all he has said, and feel
a great load off my heart. Last Friday, on fifteen minutes' notice, I
packed up and went _home_, taking nurse and biddies, of course. I was so
restless and so perfectly _possessed_ to go to meet George, that I could
not help it. We went in the six o'clock train, as it was after five when
I was "taken" with the fit that started me off; got home in a soft rain,
and to our great surprise and delight found G. there, he having got
homesick at Saratoga, and just rushed to New York on his way here. We
had a great rejoicing together, you may depend, and I had a charming
visit of nearly three days. We got back on Monday night, rather tired,
but none of us at all the worse for the expedition. Mr. P. sits here
reading the Tribune, and A. is reading "Fremont's Life." She is as brown
as an Indian and about as wild.

A few passages from her journal will also throw light upon this period:

_June 30th._--I am finding this solitude and leisure very sweet and
precious; God grant it may bear the rich and abundant fruit it ought to
do! Communion with Him is such a blessing, here at home in my own room,
and out in the silent woods and on the wayside. Saturday, especially,
I had a long walk full of blissful thoughts of Him whom I do believe I
love--oh, that I loved Him better!--and in the evening Mrs. Buck came
and we had some very sweet beginnings of what will, I trust, ripen into
most profitable Christian communion. My heart delights in the society of
those who love Him. Yesterday I had a more near access to God in prayer
than usual, so that during the whole service at church I could hardly
repress tears of joy and gratitude.

_July 7th._--I do trust God's blessed, blessed Spirit is dealing
faithfully with my soul--searching and sifting it, revealing it somewhat
to itself and preparing it for the indwelling of Christ. This I do
heartily desire. Oh, God! search me and know me, and show me my own
guilty, poor, meagre soul, that I may turn from it, humbled and ashamed
and penitent, to my blessed Saviour. How very, very thankful I feel for
this seclusion and leisure; this quiet room where I can seek my God and
pray and praise, unseen by any human eye--and which sometimes seems like
the very gate of heaven.

_July 23d._--This is my dear little baby's birthday. I was not able to
sleep last night at all, but at last got up and prayed specially for
her. God has spared her two years; I can hardly believe it! Precious
years of discipline they have been, for which I do thank Him. I have
prayed much for her to-day, and with some faith, that if her life is
spared it will be for His glory. How far rather would I let her go this
moment, than grow up without loving Him! Precious little creature!

_27th._--This has been one of the most oppressive days I ever knew. I
went to church, however, and enjoyed all the services unusually. As we
rode along and I saw the grain ripe for the harvest, I said to myself,
"God gathers in _His_ harvest as soon as it is ripe, and if I devote
myself to Him and pray much and turn entirely from the world I shall
ripen, and so the sooner get where I am _all the time_ yearning and
longing to go!" I fear this was a merely selfish thought, but I do not
know. This world seems less and less homelike every day I live. The more
I pray and meditate on heaven and my Saviour and saints who have crossed
the flood, the stronger grows my desire to be bidden to depart hence and
go up to that sinless, blessed abode. Not that I forget my comforts, my
mercies here; they are _manifold_; I know they are. But Christ appears
so precious; sin so dreadful! so dreadful! To-day I gave way to pride
and irritation, and my agony on account of it outweighs weeks of merely
earthly felicity. The idea of a Christian as he should be, and the
reality of most Christians--particularly myself--why, it almost makes
me shudder; my only comfort is, in heaven, I _can_ not sin! In heaven I
shall see Christ, and see Him as He is, and praise and honor Him as I
never do and never shall do here. And yet I know my dear little ones
need me, poor and imperfect a mother as I am; and I pray every hour to
be made willing to wait for their sakes. For at the longest it will not
be long. Oh, I do believe it is the _sin_ I dread and not the suffering
of life--but I know not; I may be deluded. My love to my Master seems to
me very shallow and contemptible. I am astonished that I love anything
else. Oh, that He would this moment come down into this room and tell me
I never, never, shall grieve Him again!

Some verses entitled "Alone with God," belong here:

Into my closet fleeing, as the dove
Doth homeward flee,
I haste away to ponder o'er Thy love
Alone with Thee!

In the dim wood, by human ear unheard,
Joyous and free,
Lord! I adore Thee, feasting on Thy word,
Alone with Thee!

Amid the busy city, thronged and gay,
But One I see,
Tasting sweet peace, as unobserved I pray
Alone with Thee!

Oh, sweetest life! Life hid with Christ in God!
So making me
At home, and by the wayside, and abroad,
Alone with Thee!

WESTPORT, _August 22, 1856._

* * * * *


Ready for new Trials. Dangerous Illness. Extracts from her Journal.
Visit to Greenwood. Sabbath Meditations. Birth of another Son. Her
Husband resigns his pastoral Charge. Voyage to Europe.

The summer at Westport was so beneficial to the baby and so full both of
bodily and spiritual refreshment to herself, that on returning to town,
she resumed her home tasks with unwonted ease and comfort. The next
entry in her journal alludes to this:

_November 27th_.--Two months, and not a word in my journal! I have done
far more with my needle and my feet than with my pen. One comes home
from the country to a good many cares, and they are worldly cares, too,
about eating and about wearing. I hope the worst of mine are over now
and that I shall have more leisure. But no, I forget that now comes the
dreaded, dreaded experience of weaning baby. But what then? I have had
a good rest this fall. Have slept unusually well; why, only think, some
nights not waking once--and some nights only a few times; and then we
have had no sickness; baby better--all better. Now I ought to be willing
to have the trials I need so much, seeing I have had such a rest. And
heaven! heaven! let me rest on that precious word. Heaven is at the end
and God is there.

Early in March, 1857, she was taken very ill and continued so until May.
For some weeks her recovery seemed hardly possible. She felt assured
her hour had come and was eager to go. All the yearnings of her heart,
during many years, seemed on the point of being gratified. The next
entry in her journal refers to this illness:

_Sunday, May 24th, 1857._--Just reading over the last record how ashamed
I felt of my faithlessness! To see dear baby so improved by the very
change I dreaded, and to hear her pretty, cheerful prattle, and to
find in her such a source of joy and comfort--what undeserved, what
unlooked-for mercies! But like a physician who changes his remedies as
he sees occasion, and who forbears using all his severe ones at once, my
Father first relieved me from my wearing care and pain about this dear
child, and then put me under new discipline. It is now nearly six months
since I have been in usual health, and eight weeks of great prostration
and suffering have been teaching me many needed lessons. Now, contrary
to my hopes and expectations, I find myself almost well again. At first,
having got my heart _set_ toward heaven and after fancying myself almost
there, I felt disappointed to find its gates still shut against me. [10]

But God was very good to me and taught me to yield in this point to His
wiser and better will; He made me, as far as I know, as peaceful in
the prospect of living as joyful in the prospect of dying. Heaven
did, indeed, look very attractive when I thought myself so near it;
I pictured myself as no longer a sinner but a blood-washed saint; I
thought I shall soon see Him whom my soul loveth, and see Him as He is;
I shall never wound, never grieve Him again, and all my companions will
be they who worship Him and adore Him. But not yet am I there! Alas, not
yet a saint! My soul is oppressed, now that health is returning, to find
old habits of sin returning too, and this monster Self usurping God's
place, as of old, and pride and love of ease and all the infirmities of
the flesh thick upon me. After being encompassed with mercies for two
months, having every comfort this world could offer for my alleviation,
I wonder at myself that I can be anything but a meek, docile child,
profiting by the Master's discipline, sensible of the tenderness that
went hand-in-hand with every stroke, and walking softly before God and
man! But I am indeed a wayward child and in need of many more stripes.
May I be made willing and thankful to bear them.

Indeed, I do thank my dear Master that He does not let me alone, and
that He has let me suffer so much; it has been a rich experience, this
long illness, and I do trust He will so sanctify it that I shall have
cause to rejoice over it all the rest of my life. Now may I return
patiently to all the duties that lie in my sphere. May I not forget how
momentous a thing death appeared when seen face to face, but be ever
making ready for its approach. And may the glory of God be, as it never
yet has been, my chief end. My love to Him seems to me so very feeble
and fluctuating. Satan and self keep up a continual struggle to get the
victory. But God is stronger than either. He must and will prevail, and
at last, and in a time far better than any I can suggest, He will open
those closed gates and let me enter in to go no more out, and then "I
shall never, never sin."

As might be inferred from this record, she was at this time in the
sweetest mood, full of tenderness and love. The time of the singing of
birds had now come, and all nature was clothed with that wondrous beauty
and verdure which mark the transition from spring to summer. The drives,
which she was now able to take into the country, on either side of the
river, gave her the utmost delight. On the 30th of May--the day that has
since become consecrated to the memory of the Nation's heroic dead--she
went, with her husband and eldest daughter, to visit and place flowers
upon the graves of Eddy and Bessie. Never is Greenwood more lovely and
impressive than at the moment when May is just passing into June. It is
as if Nature were in a transfiguration and the glory of the Lord shone
upon the graves of our beloved! Mrs. Prentiss made no record of this
visit, but on the following day thus wrote in her journal:

_May 31st._--Another peaceful, pleasant Sunday, whose only drawback has
been the want of strength to get down on my knees and praise and pray to
my Saviour, as I long to do. For well as I am and astonishingly improved
in every way, a very few minutes' use of my voice, even in a whisper,
in prayer, exhausts me to such a degree that I am ready to faint. This
seems so strange when I can go on talking to any extent--but then it is
talking without emotion and in a desultory way. Ah well! God knows best
in what manner to let me live, and I desire to ask for nothing but a
docile, acquiescent temper, whose only petition shall be, "What wilt
Thou have me to do?" not how can I get most enjoyment along the way. I
can not believe if I am His child, that He will let anything hinder my
progress in the divine life. It seems dreadful that I have gone on so
slowly, and backward so many times--but then I have been thinking this
is "to humble and to prove me, and to do me good in the latter end." ...
I thank my God and Saviour for every faint desire He gives me to see
Him as He is, and to be changed into His image, and for every struggle
against sin He enables me to make. It is all of Him. I do wish I loved
Him better! I do wish He were never out of my thoughts and that the
aim to do His will swallowed up all other desires and strivings. Satan
whispers that will never be. But it shall be! One day--oh, longed-for,
blessed, blissful day!--Christ will become my All in all! Yes, even

This is the last entry in her journal for more than a year; her letters,
too, during the same period are very few. In August of 1857, she was
made glad by the birth of another son, her fifth child. Her own health
was now much better than it had been for a long time; but that of her
husband had become so enfeebled that in April, 1858, he resigned his
pastoral charge and by the advice of his physician determined to go
abroad, with his family, for a couple years; the munificent kindness of
his people having furnished him with the means of doing so. The tender
sympathy and support which she gave him in this hour of extreme weakness
and trial, more than everything else, after the blessing of Heaven,
upheld his fainting spirits and helped to restore him at length to his
chosen work. They set sail for the old world in the steamship Arago,
Capt. Lines, June 26th, amidst a cloud of friendly wishes and

[1] The friend was Mr. Wm. G. Bull, who had a summer cottage at
Rockaway. He was a leading member of the Mercer street church and one
of the best of men. The poor and unfortunate blessed him all the
year round. To Mrs. Prentiss and her husband he was indefatigable in
kindness. He died at an advanced age in 1859.

[2] Godman's "American Natural History."

[3] Mrs. Norman White, mother of the Rev. Erskine N. White, D.D., of New

[4] Her cousin, whose sudden death occurred under the same roof in
October of the next year.

[5] "We were all weighed soon after coming here," she wrote, "and my
ladyship weighed 96, which makes me out by far the leanest of the ladies
here. When thirteen years old I weighed but 50 pounds."

[6] Referring to "Little Susy's Six Birthdays."

[7] _Little Susy's Little Servants._

[8] A Life bid with Christ in God, being a memoir of Susan Allibone. By
Alfred Lee, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in Delaware.

[9] See appendix C, p. 539.

[10] Many years afterward, speaking to a friend of this illness, she
related the following incident. One day she lay, as was supposed,
entirely unconscious and _in articulo mortis_. Repeated but vain
attempts had been made to administer a medicine ordered by the doctor to
be used in case of extremity. Her husband urged one more attempt still;
it might possibly succeed. She heard distinctly every word that was
spoken and instantly reasoned within herself, whether she should consent
or refuse to swallow the medicine. Fancying herself just entering the
eternal city, she longed to refuse but decided it would be wrong and so
consented to come back again to earth.





Life abroad. Letters about the Voyage and the Journey from Havre to
Switzerland. Chateau d'Oex. Letters from there. The Chalet Rosat. The
Free Church of the Canton de Vaud. Pastor Panchaud.

Mrs. Prentiss passed more than two years abroad, mostly in Switzerland.
They were years burdened with heavy cares, with ill-health and keen
solicitude concerning her husband. But they were also years hallowed by
signal mercies of Providence, bright every now and then with floods
of real sunshine, and sweetened by many domestic joys. Although quite
secluded from the world a large portion of the time, her solitude was
cheered by the constant arrival of letters from home. During these years
also she was first initiated into full communion with Nature; and what
exquisite pleasure she tasted in this new experience, her own pen will
tell. Indeed, this period affords little of interest except that which
blossomed out of her domestic life, her friendships, and her love of
nature. She travelled scarcely at all and caught only fugitive glimpses
of society or of the treasures of European art.

A few simple records, therefore, of her retired home-life and of the
impressions made upon her by Alpine scenery, as contained in
her letters, must form the principal part of this chapter. Her
correspondence, while abroad, would make a large volume by itself; in
selecting from it what follows, the aim has been to present, as far
as possible, a continuous picture of her European sojourn, drawn by
herself. Were a faithful picture of its quiet yet varied scenes to be
drawn by another hand, it would include features wholly omitted by her;
features radiant with a light and beauty not of earth. It would reflect
a sweet patience, a heroic fortitude, a tender sympathy, a faith in God
and an upholding, comforting influence, which in sharp exigencies the
Christian wife and mother knows so well how to exercise, and which are
inspired only by the Lord Jesus Himself.

The friend to whom the following letter was addressed years ago passed
away from earth. But her name is still enshrined in many hearts. The
story of her generous and affectionate kindness, as also that of her
children, would fill a whole chapter. "You will never know how we have
loved and honored you all, _straight through_" wrote Mrs. Prentiss to
one of them, many years later.

_To Mrs. Charles W. Woolsey, Havre, July 11, 1858._

How many times during our voyage we had occasion to think of and thank
you and yours, a dozen sheets like this would fail to tell you. Of all
your kind arrangements for our comfort not one failed of its object.
Whether the chair or my sacque had most admirers I do not know, but
I can't imagine how people ever get across the ocean without such
consolations on the way. As to the grapes they kept perfectly to
the last day and proved delicious; the box then became a convenient
receptacle for the children's toys; while the cake-box has turned into
a medicine-chest. We had not so pleasant a voyage as is usual at this
season, it being cold and rainy and foggy much of the time. However,
none of us suffered much from sea-sickness--Mr. Prentiss not in the
least; his chief discomfort was from want of sleep. On the whole, we had
a less dreary time than we anticipated, and perhaps the stupidity in
which we were engulfed for two weeks was a wholesome refuge from the
excitement of the month previous to our departure. We landed in a
deluge of rain, and the only article in our possession that alarmed the
officers of the Custom House was _not_ the sewing-machine, which was
hardly vouchsafed a look, but your cake-box. We were thankful to tumble
pell-mell into a carriage, and soon to find ourselves in a comfortable
room, before a blazing fire. We go round with a phrase-book and talk
out of it, so if anybody ever asks you what sort of people the Prentiss
family are and what are our conversational powers, you may safely and
veraciously answer, "They talk like a book." M. already asks the French
names of almost everything and is very glad to know that "we have got
at Europe," and when asked how she likes France, declares, "Me likes
_that_." We go off to Paris in the morning. I will let Mr. Prentiss
tell his own story. Meanwhile we send you everyone our warmest love and

After a few days in Paris the family hastened to Chateau d'Oex, where
New York friends awaited them. Chateau d'Oex is a mountain valley in the
canton of Vaud, on the right bank of the Sarine, twenty-two miles east
of Lausanne, and is one of the loveliest spots in Switzerland. Aside
from its natural beauties, it has some historical interest. It was
once the home of the Counts of Gruyere, and the ruins of their ancient
chateau are still seen there. The Free church of the village was at this
time under the care of Pastor Panchaud, a favorite pupil and friend of
Vinet. He was a man of great simplicity and sweetness of character,
an excellent preacher, and wholly devoted to his little flock. Mrs.
Prentiss and her husband counted his society and ministrations a smile
of Heaven upon their sojourn in Chateau d'Oex.

_To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Chateau D'Oex July 25, 1858._

Our ride from Havre to Paris was charming. We had one of those luxurious
cars, to us unknown, which is intended to hold only eight persons, but
which has room for ten; the weather was perfect, and the scenery all the
way very lovely and quite novel. A. and I kept mourning for you and M.
to enjoy it with us, and both agreed that we would gladly see only half
there was to see, and go half the distance we were going, if we could
only share with you our pleasures of every kind. On reaching Paris and
the hotel we found we could not get pleasant rooms below the fifth
story. They were directly opposite the garden of the Tuileries, where
birds were flying and singing, and it was hard to realise that we were
in the midst of that great city. We went sight-seeing very little. A.
and I strolled about here and there, did a little shopping, stared in at
the shop windows, wished M. had this and you had that, and then strolled
home and panted and toiled and groaned up our five flights, and wrote in
our journals, or rested, or made believe study French. We went to the
Jardin des Plantes in order to let the children see the Zoological
Garden. We also drove through the Bois de Boulogne, and spent part of
an evening in the garden of the Palais Royal, and watched the people
drinking their tea and coffee, and having all sorts of good times. We
found Paris far more beautiful than we expected, and certainly as to
cleanliness it puts New York ages behind. We were four days in coming
from Paris to this place. We went up the lake of Geneva on one of the
finest days that could be asked for, and then the real joy of our
journey began; Paris and all its splendors faded away at once and
forever before these mountains, and as George had never visited Geneva,
or seen any of this scenery, my pleasure was doubled by his. Imagine, if
you can, how we felt when Mt. Blanc appeared in sight! We reached Vevay
just after sunset, and were soon established in neat rooms of quite
novel fashion. The floors were of unpainted white wood, checked off with
black walnut; the stairs were all of stone, the stove was of porcelain,
and every article of furniture was odd. But we had not much time to
spend in looking at things within doors, for the lake was in full view,
and the mountain tops were roseate with the last rays of the setting
sun, and the moon soon rose and added to the whole scene all it wanted
to make us half believe ourselves in a pleasant dream. I often asked
myself, "Can this be I!" "And _if_ it be I, as I hope it be"--

Early next morning, which was dear little M.'s birthday, we set off in
grand style for Chateau d'Oex. We hired a monstrous voiture which had
seats inside for four, and on top, with squeezing, seats for three,
besides the driver's seat; had five black horses, and dashed forth in
all our splendor, ten precious souls and all agog. I made a sandwich
between Mr. S. and George on top, and the "bonnes" and children were
packed inside. This was our great day. The weather was indescribably
beautiful; we felt ourselves approaching a place of rest and a welcome
home; the scenery was magnificent, and already the mountain air was
beginning to revive our exhausted souls and bodies. We sat all day hand
in hand, literally "lost in wonder." With all I had heard ever since I
was born about these mountains, I had not the faintest idea of their
real grandeur and beauty. We arrived here just after sunset, and soon
found ourselves among our friends. Mrs. Buck brought us up to our new
home, which we reached on foot (as our voiture could not ascend so high)
by a little winding path, by the side of which a little brook kept
running along to make music for us. It is a regular Swiss chalet, much
like the little models you have seen, only of a darker brown, and on
either side the mountains stand ranged, so that look where we will we
are feasted to our utmost capacity.

We have four small, but very neat, pretty rooms. Our floors are of
unpainted pine, as white and clean as possible. The room in which we
spend our time, and where I am now writing, I must fully set before
you.... Our centre table has had a nice new red cover put on it to-day,
with a vase of flowers; it holds all our books, and is the ornament of
the room. In front of the sofa is a red rug on which we say our prayers.
Over it is a picture, and over G.'s table is another. Out of the window
you see first a pretty little flower garden, then the valley dotted with
brown chalets, then the background of mountains. Behind the house you go
up a little winding path--and can go on forever without stopping if you
choose--along the sides of which flowers such as we cultivate at home
grow in profusion; you can't help picking them and throwing them away to
snatch a new handful. The brook takes its rise on this side, and runs
musically along as you ascend. Yesterday we all went to church at nine
and a half o'clock, and had our first experience of French preaching,
and I was relieved to find myself understanding whole sentences here
and there. And now I need not, I suppose, wind up by saying we are in
a charming spot. All we want, as far as this world goes, is health
and strength with which to enjoy all this beauty and all this sweet
retirement, and these, I trust, it will give us in time. Isabella "wears
like gold." She is everything I hoped for, and from her there has not
been even a _tone_ of discomfort since we left. But my back aches and my
paper is full. We all send heaps of love to you all and long to hear.

_August 10th._--We breakfast at eight on bread and honey, which is the
universal Swiss breakfast, dine at one, and have tea at seven. I usually
sew and read and study all the forenoon. After dinner we take our Alpen-
stocks and go up behind the house--a bit of mountain-climbing which
makes me realise that I am no longer a young girl. I get only so high,
and then have to come back and lie down. George and Annie beat me all
to pieces with their exploits. I do not believe we could have found
anywhere in the world a spot better adapted to our needs. How _you_
would enjoy it! I perfectly yearn to show you these mountains and all
this green valley. The views I send will give you a very good idea of
it, however. The smaller chalet in the print is ours. In a little summer
house opposite Isabella now sits at work on the sewing-machine. My best
love to all three of your dear "chicks," and to your husband if "he's

_To Mrs. H.B. Washburn, Chateau d'Oex, August 21, 1858._

... We slipped off without any leave-taking, which I was not sorry for.
I did not want to bid you good-bye. We had to say it far too often as it
was, and, when we fairly set sail we had not an emotion left, but sank
at once into a state of entire exhaustion and stupidity.... We thought
Paris very beautiful until we came in view of the Lake of Geneva, Mt.
Blanc, and other handiworks of God, when straightway all its palaces and
monuments and fountains faded into insignificance. I began to feel that
it was wicked for a few of my friends, who were born to enjoy the land
of lakes and mountains, not to be here enjoying it, and you were one of
them, you may depend. However, whenever I have had any such pangs of
regret in relation to you, I have consoled myself with the reflection
that with your enthusiastic temperament, artist eye, and love of nature,
you never would survive even a glimpse of Switzerland; the land of
William Tell would be the death of you. When you are about eighty years
old, have cooled down about ten degrees below zero, have got a little
dim about the eyes, and a little stiff about the knees, it may possibly
be safe for you to come and break yourself in gradually. I have not
forgotten how you felt and what you did at the White Mountains, you see.

Well, joking apart, we are in a spot that would just suit you in every
respect. We are not in a street or a road or any of those abominations
you like to shun, but our little chalet, hardly accessible save on foot,
is just tucked down on the side of the gentle slope leading up the
mountain. It is remote from all sights but those magnificent ones
afforded by the range of mountains, the green rich valley, and the
ever-varying sky and cloudland, and all sounds save that of a brook
which runs hurrying down its rocky little channel and keeps us company
when we want it. I ought, however, to add that my view of this
particular valley is that of a novice. People say the scenery here is
tame in comparison with what may be seen elsewhere; but look which way I
will, from front windows or back windows, at home or abroad, I am as one
at a continual feast; and what more can one ask? Mr. Prentiss feels that
this secluded spot is just the place for him, and as it is a good point
from which to make excursions on foot or otherwise, he and Mr. Stearns
have already made several trips and seen splendid sights. How much we
have to be grateful for! For my part, I would rather--far rather--have
come here and stayed here blindfold, than not to have come with my dear
husband. So all I have seen and am experiencing I regard as beauty and
felicity _thrown in_.

_To Mrs. Abigail Prentiss, Chateau d'Oex, Sept. 5, 1858._

I wish we had you, my dear mother, here among these mountains, for the
cool, bracing air would help to build you up. Both Mr. Stearns and
George have come back from Germany looking better than when they started
on their trip two weeks ago. It has been very cold; the thermometer some
mornings at eight o'clock standing at 46, and the mountains being all
covered with snow. We slept with a couple of bottles of hot water at our
feet, and two blankets and a comforter of eiderdown over us, after going
to bed early to get warm. My sewing-machine is a great comfort, and the
peasants enjoy coming down from the mountains to see it. Besides, I find
something to do on it every day.

I often wish I could set you down in the midst of the church to which we
go every Sunday, if only to show you how the people dress. A bonnet is
hardly seen there; everybody wearing a black silk cap or a bloomer. _I_
wear a bloomer; a brown one trimmed with brown ribbon. An old lady sits
in front of me who wears a white cap much after the fashion of yours,
and on top of that is perked a monstrous bloomer trimmed with black
gauze ribbon. Her dress is linsey-woolsey, and for outside garment she
wears a black silk half-handkerchief, as do all the rest. No light dress
or ribbon is seen. I must tell you now something that amused A. and me
very much yesterday at dinner. A French gentleman, who married a Spanish
lady four years ago, sits opposite us at the table, and he and his
wife are quite fascinated with M., watch all her motions, and whisper
together about all she does. Yesterday they got to telling us that the
lady had been married when only twelve years old to a gentleman of
thirty-two, had two children, and was a grandmother, though not yet
thirty-six years old. She said she carried her doll with her to her
husband's house, and he made her learn a geography lesson every day till
she was fourteen, when she had a baby of her own. I asked her if she
loved her husband, and she said "Oh, yes," only he was very grave and
scolded her and shut her up when she wouldn't learn her lessons.
She said that her own mother when thirty-six years old had fourteen
children, all of whom are now living, twelve of them boys, and that the
laws of Spain allow the father of six sons to ask a favor for them of
the King, but the father of twelve may ask a favor for each one; so
every one of her brothers had an office under the Government or was an
officer in the army. I don't know when I have been more amused, for she,
like all foreigners, was full of life and gesture, and showed us how she
tore her hair and threw down her books when angry with her husband.

The children are all bright and well. The first time we took the cars
after landing, M. was greatly delighted. "Now we're going to see
grandma," she cried. Mrs. Buck got up a picnic for her, and had a treat
of raspberries and sponge-cake--frosted. The cake had "M." on the top
in red letters. Baby is full of life and mischief. The day we landed
he said "Papa," and now he says "Mamma." Isabella [1] is everything we
could ask. She is trying to learn French, and A. hears her recite every
night. George found some furnished rooms at Montreux, which he has taken
for six months from October, and we shall thus be keeping house. A. has
just rushed in and snatched her French Bible, as she is going to the
evening service with some of the English family. You will soon hear all
about us from Mr. Stearns.

The following letter will show how little power either her own cares, or
the charms of nature around her, had to quench her sympathy for friends
in sorrow:

_To Miss A. H. Woolsey, Chateau D'Oex, Sept. 11, 1858._

We received your kind letter this morning. We had already had our
sympathies excited in behalf of you all, by seeing a notice of the death
of the dear little child in a paper lent to us by Mrs. Buck, and were
most anxious to hear all the particulars you have been so good as to
give us. This day, which fifteen years ago we marked with a white stone,
and which we were to celebrate with all our hearts, has passed quite
wearily and drearily. There is something indescribably sad in the
details of the first bereavement which has fallen within the circle
of those we love; perhaps, too, old sorrows of our own clamored for a
hearing; and then, too, there was the conviction, "This is not all death
will do while the ocean severs you from kindred and friends." We longed
to speak to you many words of affectionate sympathy and Christian cheer;
but long before we can make them reach you, I trust you will have felt
sure that you were at least remembered and prayed for. It is a comfort
that no ocean separates us from Him who has afflicted you. The loss to
you each and all is very great, but to the mother of such a child it
is beyond description. Faith alone can bear her through it, but faith
_can_. What a wonderful little creature the sweet Ellie must have been!
We were greatly touched by your account of her singing that beautiful
hymn. It must have been divinely ordered that she should leave such a
precious legacy behind her. And though her loveliness makes her loss the
greater, the loss of an unlovely wayward child would surely be a heavier

I never know where to stop when I begin to talk about the death of a
little one; but before I stop I want to ask you to tell Mrs. H. one word
from me, which will not surprise and will perhaps comfort her. It is
this. Neither his father nor myself would be willing to have God now
bereave us of the rich experience of seven years ago, when our noble
little boy was taken away. We have often said this to each other, and
oftener said it to Him, who if He took, also gave much. But after all,
we can not _say_ much to comfort either Mrs. H. or you. We can only
truly, heartily and always sympathise with you.... Mr. Prentiss and Mr.
Stearns have spent a fortnight in jaunting about; beginning at Thun and
ending at Munich. They both came home looking fresher and better than
when they left, but Mr. P. is not at all well now, and will have his ups
and downs, I suppose, for a long time to come.... We can step out at
any moment into a beautiful path, and, turn which way we will, meet
something charming. Yesterday he came back for me, having found a new
walk, and we took our sticks, and went to enjoy it together till we got,
as it were, fairly locked in by the mountains, and could go no further.
Only to think of having such things as gorges and water-falls and
roaring brooks, right at your back door! The seclusion of this whole
region is, however, its great charm to us, and to tell the truth, the
primitive simplicity of style of dress, etc., is quite as charming to me
as its natural beauty. We took tea one night last week with the pastor
of the Free church; he lives in a house for which he pays thirty dollars
a year, and we were quite touched and pleased with his style of living;
white pine walls and floors, unpainted, and everything else to match. We
took our tea at a pine table, and the drawing-room to which we retired
from it, was a corner of the same room, where was a little mite of a
sofa and a few books, and a cheerful lamp burning.

All this time I have not answered your question about the Fourth of
July. We had great doings, I assure you. Mr. P. made a speech, and ran
up and down the saloon like a war horse. He was so excited and pale that
I did not enjoy it much, thinking any instant he would faint and fall.
Mr. Cleaveland was the orator of the day and acquitted himself very
well, they all said. I was in my berth at the time of its delivery,
saving myself for the dinner and toasts, and so did not hear it. The
whole affair is to be printed. There was a great cry of "Prentiss!
Prentiss!" after the "Captain's dinner," and at last the poor man had to
respond in a short speech to a toast to the ladies. I suppose you know
that he considers all women as angels. Mr. Stearns left us on Thursday
to set his face homewards.

* * * * *


Montreux. The Swiss Autumn. Castle of Chillon. Death and Sorrow of
Friends at Home. Twilight Talks. Spring Flowers.

Early in October the family removed to Montreux, at the upper end of the
lake of Geneva, where the next six months were passed in what was then
known as the Maison des Bains. Montreux was at this time the centre of
a group of pleasant villages, scattered along the shore of the lake, or
lying back of it among the hills. One of these villages, Clarens, was
rendered famous in the last century by the pen of Rousseau, and early
in this by the pen of Byron. The grave of Vinet, the noble leader, and
theologian of the Free Church of the canton of Vaud, now renders the
spot sacred to the Christian scholar. Montreux was then a favorite
resort of invalids in quest of a milder climate. At many points it
commands fine views of the lake, and the whole region abounds in
picturesque scenery. The Maison des Bains is said to have long since
disappeared; but in 1858, it seemed to hang upon the side of the
Montreux hill and was one of the most noticeable features of the
landscape, as seen from the passing steamer.

_To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Montreux, October 31, 1858._

Your letter was a real comfort and I am so thankful to the man that
invented letter-writing that I don't know what to do. We feast on
everything we hear from home, however sick, or weak; it is a sort of
sea-air appetite. Your letters are not a thousandth part long enough,
but if you wrote all the time I suppose they wouldn't be.... You see I
am experimenting with two kinds of ink, hoping my letters may be more
easy to read. George tried it the other day by writing me a little note,
telling me first how he loved me in black ink and then how he loved me
in blue, after which he tore it up; wasn't that a shame? Anna writes
that you seemed miserable the day she was at your house. The fact is,
people of such restless mental activity as you and I, my dear, never
need expect to be well long at a time--for, as soon as we get a little
health we consume it just as children do candy. George and I are both
able, however, to take long walks, and the other day we went to see the
castle of Chillon. I was much impressed with all I saw. Under Byron's
name, which I saw on one of the columns, there were the initials "H. B.
S."--"H. B. Smith," says I. "You don't say so!" cries George, "where?
let me see--oh, I don't think it can be his, for here are some more
letters," which I knew all the time, but for all that H. B. S. _does_
stand for H. B. Smith. There are ever so many charming walks about here
and from some points the scenery is wonderfully picturesque. I never was
in the country so late as to see the trees after a frost, and although
the foliage here is less brilliant, it is said, than that of American
forests, I find it hard to believe that there can be anything more
beautiful than the wooded mountains covered with the softest tints of
every shade and coloring interspersed with snowcapped peaks and bare,
gray rocks. The glory has departed somewhat within two days, as we have
had a little snow-storm, and the leaves have fallen sadly. We began to
have a fire yesterday and to put on some of our winter clothing; yet
roses bloom just outside our door, and mignonette, nasturtiums, and a
variety of other flowers adorn every house. The Swiss love for flowers
is really beautiful. I wish you would let the children go to the
hot-house which they pass on the way from school and get me some
flower-seeds, as it will be pleasant to me to have the means of giving
pleasure. I presume the gardener would be able to select a dozen or so
of American varieties which would be a treasure here. I amuse myself
with making flower-pictures, with which to enliven our parlor, and
assure you that these works of art are remarkable specimens of genius. I
do not know where the time goes, but I do not have half enough of it, or
else do not understand the art of making the most of it. We have just
subscribed to a library at a franc a month, and hope to read a little
French.... I suppose Z. will be a regular young lady by the time we come
home, and that I shall be afraid of her, as I am of all young ladies.
How nicely she and M. would look in the jaunty little hats they all wear
here. I wonder if the fashion will stretch across the ocean? I dare say
it will. Never was there anything so becoming in the world.

_To Mrs. Stearns, Montreux, Nov. 21, 1858._

We were glad to hear from your last letter that you are all so well,
and especially to hear such good accounts of Mr. Stearns. It is a real
comfort to us to find that his little trip has done him so much good.
I was sorry to hear of the loss of that friend of the Thurstons in the
Austria, for I heard Ellen speak of her in the most rapturous manner.
This world is full of mysteries. Only to think of the shock George
received when expecting to meet Mr. Butler in Paris and perhaps spend
several weeks with him there, he heard at Geneva the news of his sudden
death! [2] He loved and honored Mr. B. most warmly and truly. You will
remember that the latter came abroad on account of the health of his
daughter; her younger sister accompanied them, and they were all full
of the brightest anticipations. But the same steamer which brought them
over, carried home his remains on the next trip, and those two poor
young girls are left in a strange land, afflicted and disappointed and
alone. Mr. Butler died a most peaceful and happy death, and George was
very glad to be in Paris in time to comfort the young ladies, who
were perfectly delighted to see him. He got back yesterday very much
exhausted and has spent most of the day on the sofa. A. has a teacher
who comes three times a week from Vevay, and spends most of the day. She
is a young lady of about twenty-five, well educated and accustomed to
teaching, and has taken hold of A. with no little energy. She can not
speak a word of English. Tell your A. we can't get over it that the
horses, dogs and cats here all understand French. I have been ever so
busy fixing and fussing for winter, which has come upon us all in a
rush. Isabella has been bewitched for about a week, having got at last a
letter from her beau, and every speck of work she has done on the sewing
machine was either wrongside out or upside down. While George was gone I
made up a lot of flower-pictures to adorn the walls of our parlor; he is
walking about admiring them, and I wish you would drop in and help him.
He had a real homesick fit to see you all to-day, feeling so tired after
his journey; but seems brighter to-night, and promises faithfully to get
well now, right off.

_Dec. 5th._--The death of Sarah P. must have excited all your
sympathies. The loss of a little child--and I shudder when I recall
the pangs of such a loss!--can be nothing in comparison with such an
affliction as this. I well remember what a bright young thing she was.
Her poor mother's grief and amazement must be all the greater for the
fact of the perfect vigor and sound health which had, as it were,
assured her of long life and happiness and usefulness. I had an
inexpressible sadness upon me as soon as I heard that she was
dangerously ill; often in such moments one bitterly realises that all
this world's idols are likewise perishable.

A.'s teacher gives lessons also in a family half an hour from Vevay, who
are going to Germany to spend a year, and she gave such an account of
the place, that George let her persuade him into going to see it, as the
owner desired to rent it during his absence. He took A. with him, as
I could not go. They came back in ecstasies, and have both set their
hearts so on taking it that I should not at all wonder if that should be
the end. We left some of our things at Chateau d'Oex, fully expecting
to return there, but this Vevay country seat with its cherry, apple and
pear trees, its seclusion, its vicinity to reading-room and library,
has quite disgusted George with the idea of spending another summer "en
pension." The family entertained G. and A. very hospitably, gave them a
lunch of bologna sausage, bread and butter, cake, wine and grapes, and
above all, the little girls gave A. two little Guinea pigs, which you
may imagine filled her with delight. The whole affair was very agreeable
to her, as she had not spoken to a child (save M.) since we came to

_January 3d, 1859._--We read your letter, written at Bedford, with no
little interest and sympathy. While we could not but rejoice that one
more saint had got safely and without a struggle home, we felt the
exceeding disappointment you must have had in losing the last smile you
came so near receiving. [3] I think you had a sort of presentiment last
winter what this one might bring forth, for I remember your saying it
would probably be the last visit to you, and that you wanted to make it
as pleasant as possible. And pleasant I do not doubt you and the whole
household made it to her. Still there always will be regrets and vain
wishes after the death of one we love. What a pity that we can not be
to our friends while they live all we wish we had been after they have
gone! George and I feel an almost childish clinging to mother, while we
hope and believe she will live to bless us if we ever return home.

_Jan. 23d._--We have been afflicted in the sudden death of our dear
friend, Mrs. Wainwright. The news came upon us without preparation--for
she was ill only a few days--and was a great shock to us. You and mother
know what she was to us during the whole time of our acquaintance
with her; I loved her most heartily. I can not get over the saddening
impression which such deaths cause, by receiving new ones; our lives
here are so quiet and uneventful, that we have full leisure to meditate
on the breaches already made in our circle of friends at home, and to
forebode many more such sorrowful tidings. Mrs. Wainwright was like a
_mother_ to me, and I am too old to take up a new friend in her place.

I do not know whether I mentioned the afflictions of my cousin H. They
have been very great, and have excited my sympathies keenly. Her first
child died when eighteen months old, after a feeble, suffering life.
Then the second child, an amiable, loving creature--I almost see her now
sitting up so straight with her morsel of knitting in her hands!--she
was taken sick and died in five days. Her sister, about eight years old,
came near dying of grief; she neither played, ate or slept, and they
wrote me that her wails of anguish were beyond description. Just as she
was getting a little over the first shock, the little boy, then
about three years old, died suddenly of croup. Poor H. is almost
broken-hearted. I have felt dreadfully at being away when she was so
afflicted; they had not been long enough in New York to have a minister
of their own, and they all said, oh, if George and I had only been

Her letters during the rest of the winter are tinged with the sadness
caused by these and other distressing afflictions among friends at
home. Her sympathies were kept under a constant strain. But her letters
contain also many gleams of sunshine. Although very quiet and secluded,
and often troubled by torturing neuralgic pains, as well as by sudden
shocks of grief, her life at Montreux was not without its own peculiar
joys. One of the greatest of these was to while away the twilight or
evening hours in long talks with her husband about home and former days.
Distance, together with the strange Alpine scenes about her, seemed to
have the effect of a score of years in separating her from the past, and
throwing over it a mystic veil of tenderness and grace. Old times and
old friends, when thus viewed from the beautiful shores of Lake Leman,
appeared to the memory in a softened light and invested with something
of that ideal loveliness which the grave itself imparts to the objects
of our affections. Many of these old friends, indeed, had passed through
the Grave--some, long before, some recently--and to talk of _them_ was
sweet talk about the blessed home above, as well as the home beyond the

Another joy that helped to relieve the monotony and weariness of the
Montreux life, was in her children; especially as, on the approach of
spring, she wandered with them over the hill-sides in quest of flowers;
then her delight knew no bounds. In a letter to Mrs. Washburn, dated
March 19, she writes:

M. and G. catch A.'s and my enthusiasm, and come with their little hands
full of dandelions, buttercups and daisies, and their hats full of
primroses. Even Mr. Prentiss conies in with his hands full of crocuses,
purple and white, and lots of an extremely pretty flower, "la fille
avant la mere," which he gathers on the mountains where I can not
climb.... I often think of you and Mrs. B----, when I revel among the
beautiful profusion of flowers with which this country is adorned. So
early as it is, the hills and fields are _covered_ with primroses,
daisies, cowslips, violets, lilies, and I don't know what not; in five
minutes we can gather a basketful.

* * * * *


The Campagne Genevrier. Vevay. Beauty of the Region. Letters. Birth of a
Son. Visit from Professor Smith. Excursion to Chamouni. Whooping-cough
and Scarlet-fever among the Children. Doctor Curchod. Letters.

At the end of March the family removed to the campagne Genevrier, about
two miles back of Vevay, in the direction of St. Leger. At one point
it overlooked the town and the lake, and commanded a fine view of the
mountains of Savoy and of the distant Jura range. On the opposite shore
of the lake is the village where Lord Byron passed some time in 1816,
and where he is said to have written the wonderful description of a
thunder-storm, in the third canto of Childe Harold. At all events the
very scene, so vividly depicted by him, was witnessed from Genevrier.

_To Mrs. Stearns, Genevrier, April 5, 1859_

Your letter describing how nicely your party went off, followed us from
Montreux, to enliven us here in our new home. We only wish we could have
been there. You need not have apologised for giving so many details, for
it is just such little events of your daily life that we want to hear
about. My mouth quite waters for a bit of the cake they sent you; I
remember Mrs. Dr. J. and others used to send us big loaves which were
delicious, and such as I never tasted out of Newark. We came here last
Thursday in a great snow-storm, which was cheerless and cold enough
after the warm weather we had had for so many weeks. I do not suppose
more snow fell on any day through the winter, and we all shivered and
lamented and huddled over the fire at a great rate. Yet I have just been
driven indoors by the heat of the sun, having begun to write at a little
table just outside the house, and fires and snow have disappeared.
George has gone to town with Jules in the wagon to buy sugar, oil, oats,
buttons, and I do not know what not, and is no doubt thinking of you
all; for we do nothing but cry out how we wish you were here with us to
enjoy this beautiful spot. We are entirely surrounded by mountains in
the distance, and with green fields, vineyards, and cultivated grounds
nearer home. How your children would delight in the flowers, the white
doves, the seven little tiny guinea pigs, no bigger than your Annie's
hand shut up, and the ample, neat play-places all about us. I can't tell
you how George and I enjoy seeing M. trotting about, so eager and so
happy, and gathering up, as we hope, health and strength every hour! We
find the house, on the whole, very convenient, and it is certainly as
pleasant as can be; every room cheerful and every window commanding a
view which is ravishing.

_To Mrs. Smith, Genevrier, April 7, 1859._

You will be surprised, I dare say, to hear that I am writing out of
doors; I can hardly, myself, believe that it is possible to do so with
comfort and safety at this season, but it is perfectly charming weather,
neither cold or hot, and with a small shawl and my bloomer on, I am out
a large part of the day. You would fly here in a balloon if you knew
what a beautiful spot we are in. We are surrounded with magnificent
views of both the lake and the mountains, and can not turn in any
direction without being ravished. The house is pretty, and in most
respects well and even handsomely furnished; damask curtains, a Titian,
a Rembrandt, and a Murillo in the parlor; the floors are waxed and
carpetless, to be sure, but Mrs. Buck has given us lots of large pieces
of carpeting such as are used in this country to cover the middle of the
rooms, and these will make us comfortable next winter. But the winters
here are so short that one hardly gets fixed to meet them, when they are

We have quite a nice garden, from which we have already eaten lettuce,
spinach, and parsley; our potatoes were planted a day or two ago, and
our peas are just up. One corner of the house, unconnected with our
part, is occupied by a farmer who rents part of the land; he is obliged
to do our marketing, etc., and we get milk and cream from him. I wish
the latter was as easy to digest as it is palatable and cheap. They beat
it up here till it looks like pure white lather and eat it with sugar.
The grounds about our house are very neat and we shall have oceans of
flowers of all sorts; several kinds are in full bloom now. The wild
flowers are so profuse, so beautiful and so various that A. and I are
almost demented on the subject. From the windows I see first the wide,
gravelled walk which runs round the house; then a little bit of a green
lawn in which there is a little bit of a pond and a tiny _jet d'eau_
which falls agreeably on the ear; beyond this the land slopes gently
upward till it is not land but bare, rugged mountain, here and there
sprinkled with snow and interspersed with pine-trees. The sloping land
is ploughed up and men and women are busy sowing and planting; too far
off to disturb us with noise, but looking, the women at least, rather
picturesque in their short blue dresses and straw hats. On the right
hand the Dent du Midi is seen to great advantage; it is now covered with
snow. The little village of St. Leger lies off in the distance; you can
just see its roofs and the quaint spire of a very old church; otherwise
you see next to no houses, and the stillness is very sweet. _Now_ won't
you come? The children seem to enjoy their liberty greatly, and are
running about all the time. They have each a little garden and I hope
will live out of doors all summer.

The state of her health during the next three months was a source of
constant and severe suffering, but could not quench her joy in the
wonders of nature around her. "My drives about this lovely place," she
wrote in June, "have begun to give me an _immense_ amount of pleasure;
indeed, my faculty for enjoyment is so great, that I sometimes think one
day's felicity pays for weeks of misery, and that if it hadn't been
for my poor health, I should have been _too_ happy here." Nor did her
suffering weaken in the least her sympathy with the troubles of her
friends at home. While for the most part silent as to her own peculiar
trials, her letters were full of cheering words about theirs. To one of
these she wrote at this time:

God has taken care that we should not enjoy so much of this world's
comfort since we left home as to _rest_ in it. Your letters are so sad,
that I have fancied you perhaps overestimated our situation, feeling
that you and your feeble husband were bearing the burden and heat of
the day while we were standing idle. My dear ----, there are trials
everywhere and in every sphere, and every heart knoweth its own
bitterness, or else physical burdens are sent to take the place of
mental depression. After all, it will not need more than _an hour_ in
heaven to make us ashamed of our want of faith and courage here on
earth. Do cheer up, dear child, and "look aloft!" Poor Mr. ----! I know
his work is hard and up the hill, but it will not be _lost_ work and can
not last forever. It seems to me God might accept with special favor
the services of those who "_toil_ in rowing." After all, it is not the
_amount_ of work He regards, but the spirit with which it is done.

Early in July she was made glad by the birth of her sixth child--her
"Swiss boy," as she liked to call him. Her gladness was not a little
increased by a visit soon after from Professor Henry B. Smith, of the
Union Theological Seminary. This visit was one of the memorable events
of her life abroad. Professor Smith was not merely a great theologian
and scholar; he was also a man of most attractive personal qualities.
And, when unbending among friends from his exacting literary labors,
the charm of his presence and conversation was perfect. His spirits ran
high, and he entered with equal zest into the amusements of young or
old. His laugh was as merry as that of the merriest girl; no boy took
part more eagerly in any innocent sport; nobody could beat him in
climbing a mountain. He was a keen observer, and his humor--sometimes
very dry, sometimes fresh and bright as the early dew--rendered his
companionship at once delightful and instructive. His learning and
culture were so much a part of himself, that his most familiar talk
abounded in the happiest touches about books and art and life. All his
finest traits were in full play while he was at Genevrier, and, when he
left, his visit seemed like a pleasant dream.

_To Mrs. Smith, Genevrier, July 25th._

I am only too glad of the chance your husband gives me to write you
another bit of a note. We are enjoying his visit amazingly. There are
only two drawbacks to its felicity; one is that he won't stay all
summer, and the other that you are not here. The children were enchanted
with the presents he brought them. When I shall be on my feet and well
and strong again time only can tell. A. has _devoted_ herself to me in
the sweetest way. What she has been to me all winter and up to this
time, tongue could not tell. My doctor is as kind as a brother. He was
a perfect stranger to me, and was brought to my bedside when I was
writhing in agony; but in ten minutes his tenderness and sympathy made
me forget that he was a stranger, and, through that long night of
distress and the long day that followed, he did _every_ thing that
mortal could do to relieve and comfort me. He brought his wife up to see
me the other day, and I begged her to tell him how grateful I felt. "He
_is_ kind," she answered, "but then he _loves you so!_" (They both
speak English.) I am so puffed up by his praises! I am sure I thought I
groaned, but he says "pas une gemissement."

_August 14th._--Our two husbands have gone to Lausanne for the day,
taking A. with them. They seem to be having real nice times together,
and if, as your husband says, "his old wife were here," his felicity and
ours would be too great. They lounge about, talk, drink soda-water, and
view the prospect. Dr. Buck came up from Geneva on Thursday and spent
the night and part of Friday with us, and it would have done you good to
hear him and your husband laugh. He was quite enchanted with the place,
and says we never shall want to go home. _August 23d._--Your husband has
given me leave to write you a little bit of a note out of my little bit
of a heart on this little bit of paper. He and A. have just gone off to
get some pretty grass for you. He will tell you when he gets home how
he baptized his namesake on Sunday. We have enjoyed his visit more than
tongue can tell. George says _he_ has enjoyed it as much as he thought
he should, and I am sure I have enjoyed it a great deal more, as I have
been so much better in health than I expected. But how you must miss

On the 12th of September--a faultless autumn day--she set out with her
husband and eldest daughter for Chamouni. It was her first excursion
for pleasure since coming to Switzerland. A visit to this great and
marvelous handiwork of God is an event in the dullest life. In her
case the experience was so full of delight, that it seemed almost to
compensate for the cares and disappointments of the whole previous year.
The plan was to return to Genevrier and then pass on to the Bernese
Oberland, but the visit to Chamouni proved to be her last as well as her
first pleasure excursion in Switzerland.

_To Mrs. Stearns, Genevrier, October 2, 1859._

I have, been so absorbed with anxiety about the children since we
got back from our journey, that I have not felt like writing you a
description of it. George told you, I suppose, that the news awaiting us
when we reached Vevay was of the baby's having whooping-cough. It was
a great shock to us, for the weather was dismally cold, and it did not
seem as if the little thing could get safely through the disease at so
unfavorable a time of year. Then there were the other two to have it
also. On Friday last baby's cry had become a sad sort of wail, and he
was so pale and weak, that I did not see how he was going to rally; but
he is better to-day, so that I begin to take breath.... To go back to
Chamouni, it seems a mercy that we went when we did. We enjoyed the
whole trip. We made the excursion to the Mer de Glace in a pouring rain,
without injury to any of us, and were well repaid for our trouble by the
novelty of the whole expedition and the extraordinary sights we saw.
George intended taking us to the Oberland if we found the children
well on our return, but all hope of accomplishing another journey was
destroyed when we found what different business was before us. It is a
real disappointment, for the weather is now mild and very fine, just
adapted to journeying, and so many things have conspired to confine
me to this spot, that I have found it quite hard to be as patient and
cheerful as I am sure I ought to be. Alas and alas! what an insatiable
thing human nature is! How it craves _every_ thing the world can offer,
instead of contenting itself with what ought to content it. However, I
shall soon get over my fidgets, and as to George, of course he is only
disappointed for me and A., as he has visited the Oberland, and was only
going to give us pleasure. And, if I must choose between the two, I'd
rather have the littlest baby in the world than see all the biggest
mountains in it. We are thankful to hear that mother still continues to
be so well. We long to see her, and I think a look at her or a smile
from her would do George good like a medicine.

_October 17th._--I went to church yesterday for the first time in ten
months; we came out at half-past ten, so you see we have a tolerably
long day before us when church is done. It is not at all like going to
church at home; you not only find it painful to listen with such strict
attention as the foreign tongue requires, but you miss the neat,
well-ordered sanctuary, the picture of family life (for there are
no little children present!) and the agreeable array of dress. The
flapping, monstrous bloomers tire your eyes, and so do the grotesque,
coarse clothes and the tokens of extreme poverty. I grow more and more
patriotic every day, and am astonished at what I see and hear of life in

I snatched one afternoon when the baby was better than usual to go to
Villeneuve with George to call on Mr. and Mrs. H. and the sister of Mrs.
H., who is one of our Mercer street young ladies. They were at the Hotel
Byron, where you stayed. What a beautiful spot it is! Mr. H. afterwards
came and dined with us, and was so charmed with the place that he was
tempted to take it when we leave; his wife, however, had set her heart
on going home at that time, as she had left one child there. The vintage
is going on here at Genevrier to-day, and we are all invited to go and
eat our fill.

_To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, Genevrier, Oct. 20, 1859._

You ask how I find time to make flower-pictures. Why, I have been
confined to the house a good deal by the baby's sickness, and could
hardly set myself about anything else when I was not watching and
worrying about him. When we got home from Chamouni we found him with
what proved to be a very serious disease in the case of so young a
child. It has shaken his little frame nearly to pieces, leaving him
after weeks of suffering not much bigger than a doll, and all eyes and
bones. It was a pretty hard struggle for life, and I hardly know how he
has weathered the storm. The idea of leaving our dear little Swiss baby
in a little Swiss grave, instead of taking him home with us, was very
distressing to me, and I can not help earnestly desiring that death may
not assail us in this foreign land.

Our trip to Chamouni was very pleasant and did me a deal of good. If I
could have kept on the mule-riding and mountain-viewing a few weeks
I should have got quite built up, but the children's coughs made it
impossible to take any more journeys. Mr. de Palezieux, our landlord,
called Monday to see if I would sell him my sewing-machine, as his wife
was crazy to have one, and didn't feel as if she could wait to get one
from New York. I told him I would, and all night could not sleep for
teaching him how to use it--for his wife is in Germany, and he had to
learn for her. I invited him to come to dinner on Wednesday and take his
lessons. On Tuesday George said he wanted me to make a pair of sleeves
for Mrs. Tholuck before the machine went off, so I went to town to get
the stuff, at three o'clock began the sleeves and worked like a lion for
a little over two hours, when they were done, beautifully. This morning
I made four collars, which I shall want for Christmas presents, and a
shirt for Jules (our old hired man), who never had one made of linen,
and will go off the handle when he gets it. So I am tolerably used up,
and shall be almost glad to send away the tempter to-morrow, though I
dare say I shall miss it. I wish you could look out of my window this
minute, and see how beautiful the autumnal foliage is already beginning
to look. But my poor old head, what shall I do with it! You ask about
my health; I am as well as I can be without sleep. I have had only one
really good night since the baby came, to say nothing of those before;
some worse than others, to be sure; but all wakeful to a degree that
tries my faith not a little. I don't see what is to hinder my going
crazy one of these days. However, I won't if I can help it. George goes
to Germany this week. Well, my dear, good-bye.

_To Mrs. Stearns, Dec. 12th._

George got home a fortnight ago, after his three weeks' absence; looking
nicely, and more like himself than I have seen him in a long time. He
had a most refreshing time in Germany among his old friends. It does my
heart good to see him so cheery and hopeful. I have just seen the three
babies safely in bed, after no little scampering and carrying-on, and
now am ready for a little chat with you and dear mother. George sits by
me, piously reading "Adam Bede." I was disappointed in the "Minister's
Wooing," which he brought from Germany, and can not think Mrs. Stowe
came up to herself this time, whatever the newspapers may say about it;
and as for the plot, I don't see why she couldn't have let Mary
marry good old Dr. Hopkins, who was vastly more of a man than that
harum-scarum James. As to "Adam Bede," I think it a wonderful book,
beyond praise. I hope these literary observations will be blessed to
you, my dear. Mrs. Tholuck sent me a very pretty worsted cape to wear
about house, or under a cloak. We went to Lausanne last Wednesday
(George, A. and I) to do a little shopping for Christmas, and had quite
a good time, only as life is always mingled in sweet and bitter, bitter
and sweet, we had the melancholy experience of finding, when we got
ready to come home, that Jules had taken a drop too much, and was in a
state of ineffable silliness, which made George prefer to drive himself.

We begin now to think and talk about Paris. We have been buying this
afternoon some Swiss chalets and other things, brought to the door by
two women, and I had hard work to keep George from taking a bushel or
two. He got leaf-cutters enough to stab all his friends to the heart.
Most of our lady friends will receive a salad-spoon and fork from one
or the other of us. In fact, I have no doubt we shall be seized at the
Custom-house as merchants in disguise. Well, I must bid you good night.

The latter part of December her husband was requested to go to Paris and
take the temporary charge of the American chapel there. He decided to do
so, with the understanding that she and the children should soon follow
him. But scarcely had he left Geneva, when first one and then another of
the children was seized with scarlet fever. Here are a few extracts from
her letters on the subject:

_Dec. 31st._--Jules had hardly gone to the office, when I became
satisfied that G. had scarlet fever beyond a doubt, and therefore sent
Jeanette instantly to town to tell the doctor so, and to ask him to come
up. He came, and said at once I was quite right.... As to our leaving
here, he said decidedly that it _could_ not be under less than forty
days. I can not tell you, my darling, how grieved I am for you to hear
this news. Now I know your first impulse will be to come home, and
perhaps to renounce the chaplaincy, but I beg you to think twice--thrice
before you decide to do so.... How one thing hurries on after another!
But it is the universal cry, everywhere; everybody is groaning and
travailing in pain together; and we shall doubtless learn, in eternity,
that our lot was not peculiar, but that we had millions of unknown
fellow-sufferers on the way. Don't be too disappointed, but let us
rather be thankful, that if our poor children must be sick, it was here
and not in Paris, and now, good night. Betake yourself to your knees,
when you have read this, and pray for us with all your might.

Jan. 5, 1860.--The doctor has been here and says the other children
must not meet G. till the end of this month, unless they are taken sick
meantime. Poor M. melted like a snow-flake in the fire, when she heard
that; she begins to miss her little playmate, and keeps running to say
things to him through the key-hole, and to serenade him with singing,
accompanied with a rattling of knives. I see but one thing to be done;
for you to stay and preach and me to stay and nurse, each in the place
God has assigned us.... You must pray for me, that I may be patient and
willing to have my coming to Europe turn out a failure as far as my
special enjoyment of it is concerned. There are better things than going
to Paris, being with you and hearing you preach; pray that I may have
them in full measure. I can't bear to stop writing--good-bye, my dearest

_Jan. 15th_--If you could look in upon us this evening, you would be not
a little surprised to see me writing in the corner of my room, close to
the wash-stand where my lamp is placed; but you would see at a glance
that the curtain of the bed is let down to shade our darling little M.'s
eyes, as she lies close at my side. How sorry I am, as you can not see
all this, to have to tell it to you! I have let her decide for me, and
she wants dear papa to know that she is sick. Oh, why need I add another
care to those you already suffer on our account!... As to baby, we are
disposed to think that _he has had the fever_. Of course we do not know,
but it is pleasant to hope the best.... And now, my precious darling,
you see there is more praying work to do, as I hinted in my Saturday's
note when my heart was pretty heavy within me. I need not tell you what
to ask for the dear child; but for me do pray that I may have no will of
my own. All these trials and disappointments are so purely Providential
that it frightens me to think I may have much secret discontent about
them, or may like to plan for myself in ways different from God's plans.
Yet in the midst of so much care and fatigue I hardly know how I
do feel; I am like a feather blown here and there by an unexpected
whirlwind and I suppose I ought not to expect much of myself. "Though He
slay me yet will I trust in Him," I keep saying over and over to myself,
and if you are going to write a new sermon this week, suppose you take
that for your text. I have not had one regret that you went to Paris,
and as to your coming on, I do hope you will not think of it, unless
you are sent for. You could do nothing and would be very lonely and
uncomfortable. The doctor told me to tell you to stay where you were,
and that you ought to rejoice that the children are not sick in Paris.
I do trust that in the end we shall come forth from this troublous time
like gold from the furnace. So far I have been able to do all that was
necessary and I trust I shall continue so. God bless you, and bring us
to a happy meeting in His own good time!

_To Mrs. Stearns, Genevrier, Jan. 21, 1860._

... Boiling over does one good of itself, and I am sure you feel the
better for having done so. I do not know why _men_ seem to get along
without such reliefs as women almost always seek in this way; whether
there is less water in their kettles or whether their kettles are bigger
than ours and boil with more safety. It is a comfort to believe that,
whatever our troubles, in the end all will work together for our good.
The new year has opened upon us here at Genevrier pretty gloomily, as
George has told you. You will not be surprised, therefore, to hear that
M. is also quite sick, much sicker than G. She is one of those meek,
precious little darlings whom it is painful to see suffer, and I have
hardly known what I was about, or where I was, since she was taken down.
My baby is deserted by us all; I have only seen him in _moments_ for
three weeks. You can not think how lonely poor A. is; half the time she
eats alone in the big solitary dining-room; nobody has any time to walk
out with her, what few children she knew are afraid to come here or to
have her come nigh them, and I feel as if I should fly, when I think of
it--for she is not strong or well and her life here in Switzerland has
been a series of disappointments and anxieties. The only leisure moments
I can snatch in the course of the twenty-four hours I have to spend in
writing to George; but the last few evenings M. has slept, so that I
could play a game of chess with her and try to cheer and brace her up
against next day's dreariness. All her splendid dreams of getting off
from this solitude to the life and stir of Paris have been dissipated,
but she has never uttered one word of complaint; I have not heard her
say as much as "Isn't it too bad!" And indeed we ought none of us to say
so or to feel so, for the doctor assures me that for three such delicate
children as he considers ours, to pass safely through whooping-dough and
scarlet-fever, is a perfect wonder and that he is sure it is owing to
the pure country air. And when I think how different a scene our house
might present if our three little ones had been snatched away, as three
or four even have been from other families, I am ashamed of myself that
I dare to sigh, that I am lonely and friendless here, or that I have
anything to complain of. It has been no small trial, however, to pass
through such anxieties in so remote a place, with George gone; while on
the other hand I have been most thankful that he has been spared all
the details of the children's ailments, and permitted once more to feel
himself about his Master's business. Providence most plainly called him
to Paris, and I trust he will stay there and get good till we can join
him. But I feel uneasy about him, too, lest his anxiety about the
children should hang as a dead weight on his not quite rested head and
heart. At any rate, I shall be tolerably glad to see him again at the
end of our two months' separation. How I should love to drop in on you
to-night! Doesn't it seem as if one _could_ if one tried hard enough!
Well, good night to you.

_To Mrs. Smith, Genevrier, Jan. 29, 1860._

I believe George has written you about our private hospital. He had not
been gone to Paris forty-eight hours when G. was taken sick; that was a
month ago, and I have only tasted the air twice in all that time. G. had
the disease lightly. M., poor little darling, was much sicker than he
was. It is a fortnight since she was taken and she hardly sits up at
all; an older child would be in bed, but little ones never will give up
if they can help it; I suppose it is because they can be held in the
arms and rocked, and carried about. I have passed through some most
anxious hours on account of M., and it seems little less than a miracle
that she is still alive. The baby is well, and he is a nice little rosy
fellow. It was a dreadful disappointment to us to be detained here
instead of going to Paris. I felt that I couldn't live longer in such
entire solitude; and just then, lo and behold, George was whisked off
and I was shut up closer than ever. It is a great comfort to me that he
got off just when he did, and has had grace to stay away; on the other
hand, I need not say how his absence has aggravated my cares, how
solitary the season of anxiety has been, and how, at times, my faith and
courage have been put to their utmost stretch. The whole thing has
been so evidently ordered and planned by God that I have not dared to
complain; but, my dear child, if you had come in now and then with a
little of your strengthening talk, I can't deny I should have been most
thankful. It has been pretty trying for George to hear such doleful
accounts from home, but I hope the worst is over, and that we shall be
the wiser and the better for this new lesson of life. Dr. Curchod's rule
is the same as Dr. Buck's--forty days confinement to one room; so we
have a month more to spend here. I am afraid I am writing a gloomy
letter. If I am, you must try to excuse me and say, "Poor child, she
isn't well, and she hasn't had any good sleep lately, and she's tired,
and I don't believe she _means_ to grumble." Do so much for me, and
I'll do as much for you sometime. I hear your husband has taken up a
Bible-class. It is perfectly shocking. Does he _want_ to kill himself,
or what ails him? The pleasantest remembrance we shall have of this
place is his visit.... Our doctor and his family stand out as bright
lights in this picture; he has been like a brother in sympathy and
kindness. We shall never forget it. God has been so good to you and to
me in sparing our children when assailed by so fearful a disease, that
we ought to love Him better than we ever did. I do so want my weary
solitude to bear that fruit.

* * * * *


Paris. Sight-seeing. A sick Friend. London and its Environs. The Queen
and Prince Albert. The Isle of Wight. Homeward.

On the 20th of February the family gladly bade adieu to Switzerland
and set out for Paris, arriving there on the morning of the 22d. Mrs.
Prentiss was overjoyed to find herself once more in the world. On the
23d she wrote to Mrs. Smith:

We have got here safe and sound with our little batch of invalids. They
bore the journey very well and are heartily glad to get into the world
again. I am chock-full of worldliness. All I think of is dress and
fashion, and, on the whole, I don't know that you are worth writing to,
as you were never in Paris and don't know the modes, and have perhaps
foolishly left off hoops and open sleeves. I long, however, to hear from
you and your new babby, and will try to keep a small spot swept clear of
finery in my heart of hearts, where you can sit down when you've a mind.
Our little fellow is getting to be a sweet-looking baby, with what his
nurse calls a most "gracieuse" smile--if you can guess what kind of a
smile that is. But he is getting teeth and is looking delicate and soft,
and your Hercules will knock him down, I know.

But Paris was far from fulfilling to her or to the children the bright
anticipations with which it had been looked forward to from lonely
Genevrier. The weather could hardly have been worse; the house soon
became another hospital; and sight-seeing was a task. Friends, however,
soon gathered about her, and by their hospitality and little kindnesses,
relieved the tedium of the weary days.

_To Mrs. Stearns, Paris, March 27, 1860._

We pass many lonely hours in this big city, and often long for you and
Mr. Stearns to drop in, or for a chance to run in to see dear mother.
Getting nearer home makes it attractive. It works in the natural life
just as it does in the spiritual in that respect. The weather is
_dreadful_ and has been for five months--scarcely one cheery day in that
whole time. What with this and the children's ill-health, I should not
wonder if we left Paris as ignorant of its beauties as when we came. But
I hope we shall not let that worry us too much, but rather be thankful
that, bad as things are, they are not so bad as they might be. Our
sympathies are greatly excited now for the Rev. Mr. Little, formerly of
Bangor, who is in Paris--alone, friendless, and sick. If we could
by any miraculous power stretch our scanty accommodations, we should
certainly take him home and nurse him till his wife could be got here.
You know, perhaps, that Mrs. Little is a daughter of Dr. Cornelius; and,
when I recall the love and honor I was taught to feel towards him when I
was a little girl, my heart quite yearns towards her, especially in this
time of fearful anxiety about her husband. How insignificant my own
trials look to me, when I think of the sorrow which is probably before

_April 26th._--Our patience is still tried by the cold, damp, and most
unwholesome weather, which prevents the children from going to see
anything. But we do not care so much for ourselves or for them as for
poor Mr. Little, who is exceedingly feeble, chiefly confined to his
room, and so forlorn in this strange, homeless land. While George was
with him last evening, he had a bad fit of coughing, which resulted in
the raising of a gill or so of blood. I know you will feel interested
to hear about him, and will not wonder that our hearts are so full of
sympathy for him and for his poor wife, that we can hardly talk of
anything else. He expects her in about a week. What a coming to Europe
for her! How little those who stand on the shore to watch the
departure of a foreign steamer, know what they do when they envy its
passengers!... We buckled on our armor and began sight-seeing the other
day, going to see the Sainte Chapelle and the galleries and museum of
the Louvre among the rest. The Sainte Chapelle is quite unlike anything
I ever saw and delighted us extremely. As to the Louvre, one needs
several entire days to do justice to it, besides an amount of youthful
enthusiasm and bodily strength which we do not possess; for, amid
midnight watchings over our sick children and the like, the oil of
gladness has about burnt out, and we find sight-seeing a weary task.

_May 25th._--It does seem as if George's preaching was listened to with
more and more serious attention, and it may be seen long after he has
rested from his labors on earth, that he has done a good work here. We
both are much interested in Professor [6] Huntington's sermons, [7] sent
us by Miss W. This is a great deal for me to say, because I do not like
to read sermons. During the last three weeks, before Mr. and Mrs. Little
left, we accomplished very little. It was not that we did or could do so
very much for them, but they had nobody to depend on but us, and George
was constantly going back and forth trying to make them comfortable,
arranging all their affairs, etc. She had a weary, anxious two weeks
here, and now has set her face homewards, not knowing but Mr. L. may
sink before reaching America. It is a great comfort to us to have been
able to soothe them somewhat as long as they stayed in Paris. George
says it was worth coming here for that alone. I say _we,_ but I _mean_
George, for what was done he did. The most I could do was to feel
dreadfully for them. [8]

We are now to begin sight-seeing again, and do all we can as speedily as
possible, for only two weeks remain. The children are now pretty well.
The baby is at that dangerous age when they are forever getting upon
their feet and tumbling over backward on their heads. M. is the oddest
little soul. Belle says she would rather go to a funeral than see all
the shops in Paris, and, when they are out, she can hardly keep her from
following every such procession they meet. I asked her the last time
they went out if she had had a nice walk. She said not very nice, as she
had only seen _one_ pretty thing, and that was a police-officer taking a
man to jail. The idea of going to England is very pleasant, and, if we
only keep tolerably well, I think it will do us all good. What is dear
mother doing about these times? I always think of her as sitting by the
little work-table in her room, knitting and watching the children. Give
lots of love and kisses to her, and tell her we long to see her face to
face. Kiss all the children for us--I suppose they'll let _you_! boys
and all--and you may do as much for Mr. S. if you want to. Good-bye.

On the 7th of June the family left Paris for London. A first visit to

That precious stone set in the silver sea--

is always an event full of interest to children of the New England
Puritans. The "sceptered isle" is still in a sense their mother-country,
and a thousand ancestral ties attract them to its shores. There is no
other spot on earth where so many lines of their history, domestic
and public, meet. And in London, what familiar memories are for them
associated with almost every old street and lane and building!

The winter and spring of 1860 had been cold, wet and cheerless well-nigh
beyond endurance; and the summer proved hardly less dreary. It rained
nearly every day, sometimes all day and all night; the sun came out only
at long intervals, and then often but for a moment; the atmosphere, much
of the time, was like lead; the moon and stars seemed to have left the
sky; even the English landscape, in spite of its matchless verdure and
beauty, put on a forbidding aspect. All nature, indeed, was under a
cloud. This, added to her frail health, made the summer a very trying
one to Mrs. Prentiss, and yet it afforded her not a little real delight.
Some of her pleasantest days in Europe were spent in England. The
following extracts are from a little journal kept by her in London:

_June 10th._--We went this morning to hear Dr. Hamilton, and were
greatly edified by the sermon, which was on the text: "Hitherto hath the
Lord helped us." In the afternoon we decided to go to Westminster Abbey.
It began to rain soon after we got out, and we had a two miles' walk
through the mud. The old abbey looked as much like its picture as it
could, but pictures can not give a true idea of the grandeur of such a
building. We were a little late, and every seat was full and many were
standing, as we had to do through the whole service. The sermon struck
me as a very ordinary affair, though it was delivered by a lord. But the
music was so sweet, performed for aught I know by angel--for the choir
was invisible--and we stood surrounded by such monuments and covered by
such a roof, that we were not quite throwing away our time. Albert B----
dined with us, and in the evening, with one accord, we went to hear Dr.
Hamilton again. We had good seats and heard a most beautiful as well as
edifying discourse on the first verses of the 103d Psalm. Some of the
images were very fine, and the whole tone of the sermon was moderate,
sensible, and serious. I use these words advisedly, for I had an
impression that he was a flowery, popular man whom I should not relish.
At the close of the service a little prayer-meeting of half an hour was
held, and we came home satisfied with our first English Sunday, feeling
some of our restless cravings already quieted as only contact with God's
own people could quiet them.

_11th._--Went to see the Crystal Palace. It proved a fine day, and we
took M. with us. None of us felt quite well, but we enjoyed this new and
beautiful scene for all that. It is a little fairy land.

_14th._--Went to Westminster Abbey, and spent some time there. On coming
out we made a rapid, but quite amusing passage through several courts
where we saw numerous great personages in stiff little gray wigs. To my

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