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

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Miss Lyman while she was here, and in knowing her better, and now I am
finding myself quite in love with her intimate friend, Miss Warner, who
has been here all summer. A gentler, tenderer spirit can not exist.
Mrs. F.'s brother was here with his wife, some weeks ago, and they were
summoned home to the death-bed of their last surviving child. Mrs. F.
read me a letter yesterday describing her last hours, which were really
touching and beautiful, especially the distributing among her friends
the various pretty things she had made for them during her illness, as
parting gifts. I suppose this will be my last letter from Dorset and
from your old room. Well, you and I have passed some happy hours under
this roof. Good-bye, dear, with love to each and all of your beloved

_To Miss Eliza A. Warner, Dorset, Sept. 27, 1868._

I was so nearly frantic, my dear Fanny, from want of sleep, that I could
not feel anything. I was perfectly stupid, and all the way home from
East Dorset hardly spoke a word to my dear John, nor did he to me. [7]
The next day he said such lovely things to me that I hardly knew whether
I was in the body or out of it, and then came your letter, as if to make
my cup run over. I longed for you last night, and it is lucky for your
frail body that can bear so little, that you were not in your little
room at Mrs. G.'s; but not at all lucky for your heart and soul. I hope
God will bless us to each other. It is not enough that we find in our
mutual affection something cheering and comforting. It must make us more
perfectly His. What a wonderful thing it is that coming here entire
strangers to each other, we part as if we had known each other half a

I am not afraid that we shall get tired of each other. The great point
of union is that we have gone to our Saviour, hand in hand, on the
supreme errand of life, and have not come away empty. All my meditations
bring me back to that point; or, I should rather say, to Him. I came
here praying that in some way I might do something for Him. The summer
has gone, and I am grieved that I have not been, from its beginning to
its end, so like Him, so full of Him, as to constrain everybody I met to
love Him too. Isn't there such power in a holy life, and have not some
lived such a life? I hardly know whether to rejoice most in my love for
Him, or to mourn over my meagre love; so I do both.

When I think that I have a new friend, who will be indulgent to my
imperfections, and is determined to find something in me to love, I am
glad and thankful. But when, added to that, I know she will pray for me,
and so help my poor soul heavenward, it does seem as if God had been
too good to me. You can do it lying down or sitting up, or when you are
among other friends. It is true, as you say, that I do not think much of
"lying-down prayer" in my own case, but I have not a weak back and do
not need such an attitude. And the praying we do by the wayside, in cars
and steamboats, in streets and in crowds, perhaps keeps us more near to
Christ than long prayers in solitude could without the help of these
little messengers, that hardly ever stop running to Him and coming back
with the grace every moment needs. You can put me into some of these
silent petitions when you are too tired to pray for me otherwise.

I have been writing this in my shawl and bonnet, expecting every instant
to hear the bell toll for church, and now it is time to go. Good-bye,
dear, till by and by.

Well, I have been and come, and--wonder of wonders!--I have had a little
tiny bit of a very much needed nap. Mr. Pratt gave us a really good
sermon about living to Christ, and I enjoyed the hymns. We have had a
talk, my John and I, about death, and I asked him which of us had better
go first, and, to my surprise, he said he thought _I_ should. I am sure
that was noble and unselfish in him. But I am not going to have even a
wish about it. God only knows which had better go first, and which stay
and suffer. Some of His children _must_ go into the furnace to testify
that the Son of God is there with them; I do not know why I should
insist on not being one of them. Sometimes I almost wish we were not
building a house. It seems as if it might stand in the way, if it should
happen I had a chance to go to heaven. I should almost feel mean to do
that, and disappoint my husband who expects to see me so happy there.
But oh, I do so long to be perfected myself, and to live among those
whose one thought is Christ, and who only speak to praise Him!

I like you to tell me, as you do in your East Dorset letter, how you
spend your time, etc. I have an insatiable curiosity about even the
outer life of those I love; and of the inner one you can not say too
much. Good-bye. We shall have plenty of time in heaven to say all we
have to say to each other.

* * * * *


Return to Town. Death of an old Friend. Letters and Notes of Love and
Sympathy. An Old Ladies' Party. Scenes of Trouble and Dying Beds. Fifty
Years old. Letters.

Her return to town brought with it a multitude of cares. The following
months drew heavily upon her strength and sympathies; but for all that
they were laden with unwonted joy. The summer at Dorset had been a very
happy one. While there she had finished _Stepping Heavenward_ and on
coming back to her city home, the cheery, loving spirit of the book
seemed still to possess her whole being. Katy's words at its close were
evidently an expression of her own feelings:

Yes, I love everybody! That crowning joy has come to me at last. Christ
is in my soul; He is mine; I am as conscious of it as that my husband
and children are mine; and His Spirit flows forth from mine in the
calm peace of a river, whose banks are green with grass, and glad with

_To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Oct. 5, 1868_

This is the first moment since we reached home, in which I could write
to you, but I have had you in my heart and in my thoughts as much as
ever. We had a prosperous journey, but the ride to Rupert was fearfully
cold. I never remember being so cold, unless it was the night I reached
Williamstown, when I went to my dear sister's funeral.... I have told
you this long story to try to give you a glimpse of the distracted life
that meets us at our very threshold as we return home. And now I'm going
to trot down to see Miss Lyman, whom I shall just take and hug, for I am
so brimful of love to everybody that I must break somebody's bones, or
burst. John preached _delightfully_ yesterday; I wanted you there to
hear. But all my treasures are in earthen vessels; he seems all used up
by his Sunday and scarcely touched his breakfast. I don't see how his or
my race can be very long, if we live in New York. All the more reason
for running it well. And what a blessed, blessed life it is, at the
worst! "Central peace subsisting at the heart of endless agitation."
Good-bye, dear; consider yourself embraced by a hearty soul that
heartily loves you, and that soul lives in E. P.

On the 25th of October Mr. Charles H. Leonard, an old and highly
esteemed friend, died very suddenly at his summer home in Rochester,
Mass. He was a man of sterling worth, generous, large-hearted, and
endeared to Mrs. Prentiss and her husband by many acts of kindness. He
was one of the founders of the Church of the Covenant and had also aided
liberally in building its pleasant parsonage.

_To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Oct. 26, 1868._

I am reminded as I write my date, that I am fifty years old to-day. My
John says it is no such thing, and that I am only thirty; but I begin to
feel antiquated, dilapidated, and antediluvian, etc., etc.

I write to let you know that we are going to Rochester, Mass., to attend
the funeral of a dear friend there. It seems best for me to risk the
wear and tear of the going and the coming, if I can thereby give even a
little comfort to one who loves me dearly, and who is now left without
a single relative in the world. For twenty-four years these have been
faithful friends, loving us better every year, members of our church
in New Bedford, Mercer street, and then here. They lived at Rochester
during the summer and we visited them there (you may remember my
speaking of it) just before we went to Dorset. Mrs. Leonard was then
feeling very uneasy about her husband, but he got better and seemed
about as usual, till last Tuesday, when he was stricken down with
paralysis and died on Saturday. Somebody said that spending so large a
portion of my time as I do in scenes of sorrow, she wondered God did not
give me more strength. But I think He knows just how much to give. I
have been to Newark twice since I wrote you. Mrs. Stearns is in a very
suffering condition; I was appalled by the sight; appalled at the
weakness of human nature (its physical weakness). But I got over that,
and had a sweet glimpse at least of the _eternal_ felicity that is to be
the end of what at longest is a brief period of suffering. I write her
a little bit of a note every few days. I feel like a ball that now is
tossed to Sorrow and tossed back by Sorrow to Joy. For mixed in with
every day's experience of suffering are such great, such unmerited

Two or three of the little notes follow:

MY DEAREST ANNA :-I long to be with you through the hours that are
before you, and to help cheer and sustain you in the trial of faith and
patience to which you are called. But unless you need me I will not
go, lest I should be the one too many in your state of excitement and
suspense. We all feel anxiety as to the result of the incision, but
take comfort in casting our care upon God. May Christ Jesus, our dear
Saviour, who loves and pities you infinitely more than any of us do,
be very near you in this season of suspense. I would gladly exchange
positions with you if I might, and if it were best; but as I may not,
and it is not best, because God wills otherwise, I earnestly commend
you to His tender sympathy. If He means that you shall be restored to
health, He will make you happy in living; if He means to call you home
to Himself, He will make you happy in dying. Dear Anna, stay yourself
on Him: He has strength enough to support you, when all other strength
fails. Remember, as Lizzy Smith said, you are "encompassed with

_Friday Afternoon_,

MY DEAR ANNA :-I send you a "lullaby" for next Sunday, which I met with
at Dorset, and hope it will speak a little word and sing a little song
to you while the rest are at church. How I do wish I could see you every
day! I feel restless with longing; but you are hardly able to take any
comfort in a long visit and it is such a journey to make for-a short
one! But, as I said the other day, if at any time you feel a little
stronger and it would comfort you even a little bit to see me, I will
drop everything and run right over. It seems hard to have you suffer
so and do nothing for you. But don't be discouraged; pain can't last

"I know not the way I am going
But well do I know my Guide!
With a childlike trust I give my hand,
To the mighty Friend at my side.
The only thing that I say to Him
As He takes it, is, 'Hold it fast.
Suffer me not to lose my way,
And bring me home at last!'"

MY DEAR ANNA:-I feel such tender love and pity for you, but I know you
are too sick to read more than a few words.

"In the furnace God may prove thee,
Thence to bring thee forth more bright
But can never cease to love thee:
Thou art precious in His sight!"
Your ever affectionate LIZZY.

_To Mrs. Lenard, Friday, Oct. 30, 1858._

We got home safely last evening before any of the children had gone to
bed, and they all came running to meet us most joyfully. This morning I
am restless and can not set about anything. It distresses me to think
how little human friendship can do for such a sorrow as yours. When a
sufferer is on the rack he cares little for what is said to him though
he may feel grateful for sympathy. I found it hard to tear myself away
from you so soon, but all I could do for you there I could do all along
the way home and since I have got here: love you, be sorry for you, and
constantly pray for you. I am sure that He who has so sorely afflicted
you accepts the patience with which you bear the rod, and that when this
first terrible amazement and bewilderment are over, and you can enter
into communion and fellowship with Him, you will find a joy in Him that,
hard as it is to the flesh to say so, transcends all the sweetest and
best joys of human life. You will have nothing to do now but to fly to
Him. I have seen the time when I could hide myself in Him as a little
child hides in its mother's arms, and so have thousands of aching
hearts. In all our afflictions He is afflicted. But I must not weary you
with words. May God bless and keep you, and fully reveal Himself unto

_To Miss. E. A. Warner, New York, Nov. 2, 1868._

I have been lying on the sofa in my room, half asleep, and feeling
rather guilty at the lot of gas I was wasting, but too lazy or too tired
to get up to turn it down. Your little "spray" hangs right over the head
of my bed, an it was it was slightly dilapidated by its journey hither,
I have tucked in a bit of green fern with it to remind me that I was not
always in the sere and yellow leaf, but had a spring-time once. To think
of your going for to go and write verses to me in my old age! I have
just been reading them over and think it was real good of you to up and
say such nice things in such a nice way. I'd no idea you _could!_ We did
not come home from Rochester through Boston; if we had done so I meant
to go and see you. I made it up in many loving thoughts to you on our
twelve hours' journey. Poor Mrs. L. met me with open arms, and I was
thankful indeed that I went, though every word I said in the presence
of her terrible grief, sounded flat and cold and dead. How little
the tenderest love and sympathy can do, in such sorrows! She was so
bewildered and appalled by her sudden bereavement, that it was almost a
mockery to say a word; and yet I kept saying what I _know_ is true, that
Christ in the soul is better than any earthly joy. Both Mr. Prentiss and
myself feel the reaction which must inevitably follow such a strain.

You ask if I look over the past on my birthdays. I suppose I used to do
it and feel dreadfully at the pitiful review, but since I have had the
children's to celebrate, I haven't thought much of mine. But this time,
being fifty years old, did set me upon thinking, and I had so many
mercies to recount and to thank God for, that I hardly felt pangs of any
sort. I suppose He controls our moods in such seasons, and I have done
trying to force myself into this or that train of thought. I am sure
that a good deal of what used to seem like repentance and sorrow for sin
on such occasions, was really nothing but wounded pride that wished it
could appear better in its own eyes. God has been so good to me! I wish
I could begin to realise how good! I think a great many thoughts to you
that I can't put on paper. Life seems teaching some new, or deepening
the impression of some old, lesson, all the time.

You think A. may have looked scornfully at your little "spray." Well,
she didn't; she said, "What's that funny little thing perched up there?
Well, it's pretty anyhow." Among the rush of visitors to-day were Miss
Haines and the W----s. I fell upon Miss W. and told her about you,
furiously; then we got upon Miss Lyman, and it did my very soul good
to hear Miss Haines praise and magnify her. Never shall I cease to be
thankful for being with her at Dorset, to say nothing, dear, of you! Do
you know that there are twelve cases of typhoid fever at Vassar? and
that Miss Lyman is not as well as she was? I feel greatly concerned
about her, not to say troubled. I don't suppose I shall ever hear her
pray. But I shall hear her and help her praise. I don't believe a word
about there being different grades of saints in heaven. Some people
think it modest to say that they don't expect to get anywhere near so
and so, they are so--etc., etc. But I expect to be mixed all up with the
saints, and to take perfect delight in their testimony to my Saviour.

Can you put up with this miserable letter? Folks can't rush to Newark
and to Rochester and agonise in every nerve at the sufferings of others,
and be quite coherent. I have sense enough left to know that I love you
dearly, and that I long to see you and to take sweet counsel with you
once more. Don't fail to give me the helping hand.

The following was written to Mrs. Stearns on her silver-wedding day,
Nov. 15:

MY DEAREST ANNA: I have thought of you all day with the tenderest
sympathy, knowing how you had looked forward to it, and what a contrast
it offers to your bridal day twenty-five years ago. But I hope it has
not been wholly sad. You have a rich past that can not be taken from
you, and a richer future lies before you. For I can see, though through
your tears you can not, that the Son of God walks with you in this
furnace of affliction, and that He is so sanctifying it to your soul,
that ages hence you will look on this day as better, sweeter, than the
day of your espousals. It is hard now to suffer, but after all, the
_light_ affliction is nothing, and the _weight_ of glory is everything.
You may not fully realise this or any other truth, in your enfeebled
state, but truth remains the same whether we appreciate it or not; and
so does Christ. Your despondency does not prove that He is not just as
near to you as He is to those who see Him more clearly; and it is better
to be despondent than to be self-righteous. Don't you see that in
afflicting you He means to prove to you that He loves you, and that you
love Him? Don't you remember that it is His son--not His enemy--that He

The greatest saint on earth has got to reach heaven on the same terms
as the greatest sinner; unworthy, unfit, good-for-nothing; but saved
through grace. Do cheer and comfort yourself with these thoughts, my
dearest Anna, and your sick-room will be the happiest room in your
house, as I constantly pray it may be! Your ever affectionate Lizzy.

_To Miss E.A.W., New York, Nov. 17, 1868_

You ask how I sleep. I always sleep better at home than elsewhere; this
is one great reason why we decided to have a home all the year round. I
have to walk four or five miles a day, which takes a good deal of time,
these short days, but there is no help for it. I do not think the time
is lost when I am out of doors; I suppose Christ may go with us, _does_
go with us, wherever we go. But I am too eager and vehement, too anxious
to be working all the time. Why, no, I don't think it _wrong_ to want to
be at work provided God gives us strength for work; the great thing is
not to repine when He disables us. I don't think, my dear, that you need
trouble yourself about my dying at present; it is not at all likely that
I shall. I feel as if I had got to be _tested_ yet; this sweet peace, of
which I have so much, almost startles me. I keep asking myself whether
it is not a stupendous delusion of Satan and my own wicked heart. How I
wish I could see you to-night! There is so much one does not like to put
on paper that one would love to say.

_Thursday, 4 P.M._--Well, my lunch-party is over, and my sewing society
is re-organised, and before I go forth to tea, let me finish and
send off this epistle. We had the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Washburn, of
Constantinople, Dr. Chickering, and Prof, and Mrs. Smith; gave them cold
turkey, cold ham, cold ice-cream and hot coffee; that was about all, for
society in New York is just about reduced down to eating and drinking
together, after which you go about your business.

I am re-reading Leighton on 1st Peter; I wonder if you like it as much
as my John and I do! I hope your murderous book goes on well; then you
can take your rest next summer. Now I must get ready for my long walk
down and over to Ninth st., to see a tiny little woman, and English at
that. Her prayer at our meeting yesterday moved us all to tears.

_To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Nov. 25, 1868_

Mr. Prentiss complained yesterday that no letters came, an unheard-of
event in our family history, and this morning found _twelve_ sticking in
the top of the box; among them was yours, but I was just going off to my
Prayer-meeting, and had to put it into my pocket and let it go too. I
am glad you sent me Mrs. Field's letter and poem; she is a genius, and
writes beautifully. And how glad you must be to hear about your books. I
can't imagine what better work you want than writing. In what other way
could you reach so many minds and hearts? You must always send me such
letters. Before I forget it, let me tell you of a real Thanksgiving
present we have just had; three barrels of potatoes, some apples, some
dried apples, cranberries, celery, canned corn, canned strawberries, and
two big chickens.

_After church, Thursday._--I must indulge myself with going on with my
letter, for after dinner I want to play with the children, and make this
day mean something to them besides pies. For everybody spoke for pies
this year (you know we almost never make such sinful things) and they
all said ice-cream wouldn't do at all, so yesterday I made fourteen of
these enormities, and mean to stuff them (the children, not the pies!)
so that they won't want any more for a year. I want to tell you about
some pretty coincidences; we went to church in a dismal rain, and Mr.
Prentiss preached on the _beauty_ of holiness, and every time he said
anything that made sunshine particularly appropriate, the sun came in in
floods, then disappeared till the next occasion. For instance, he spoke
of the sunshine of a happy home as so much brighter than that of the
natural sun, and the whole church was instantly illuminated; then he
said that if we had each come there with ten million sorrows, Christ
could give us light, when, lo, the church glowed again; and so on
half-a-dozen times, till at last he quoted the verse _"And the Lamb
is the light thereof,"_ when a perfect blaze of effulgence made those
mysterious, words almost startling. And then he wound up by describing
the Tyrolese custom on which Mrs. Field's poem is founded, which he
had himself seen and enjoyed, and of which, it seems, he spoke at East
Dorset last summer at the Sunday-school. [8] I read the poem and letter
to him the instant we got home, and he admired them both. It was a
little singular that her poem and his sermon came to me at almost the
identical moment, wasn't it?

I must tell you about an old ladies' party given by Mrs. Cummings, wife
of him who prepared my father's memoir. [9] She had had a fortune left
to her and was all the time doing good with it, and it entered her head
to get up a very nice supper for twenty-six old ladies, the youngest
of whom was seventy-five (the Portland people rarely die till they're
ninety or so). She sent carriages for all who couldn't walk, and when
they all got together, the lady who described the scene to me, said it
was indescribably beautiful, all congratulating each other that they
were so far on in their pilgrimage and so near heaven! Lovely, wasn't
it? I wish I could spend the rest of my life with such people! Then she
spoke of Mrs. C.'s face during the last six months of her life, when it
had an expression so blest, so seraphic, that it was a delight to look
upon it--and how she had all the members of the ladies' prayer-meeting
come and kiss her good-bye after she was too weak to speak.

And now the children have got together again, and I must go and stay
with them till their bed-time, when, partly for the sake of the walk,
partly because they asked us, we twain are going to see the Smiths.
I rather think, my dear, that if, as you say, you could see all my
thoughts, you would drop me as you would a hot potato. You would see
many good thoughts, I won't deny that, and some loving ones; but you
would also see an abominable lot of elated, conceited, horrid ones;
self-laudation even at good planned to do, and admired before done. But
God can endure what no mortal eye could; He does not love us because we
are so lovely, but because He always loves what He pities. I fall back
upon this thought whenever I feel discouraged; I was going to say _sad_,
but that isn't the word, for I never do feel sad except when I've been
eating something I'd no business to! Good-bye, dearie.

_To the Same, New York, Dec. 3, 1868._

I think I must indulge myself, my dear, in writing to you to-night,
it being really the only thing I want to do, unless it be to lie half
asleep on the sofa. And that I can't do, for there's no sofa in the
room! The cold weather has made it agreeable to have a fire in the
dining-room grate, and this makes it a cheerful resort for the children,
especially as the long table is very convenient for their books,
map-drawing, etc. And wherever the rest are the mother must be; I
suppose that is the law of a happy family, in the winter at least.
The reason I am so tired to-night is that I have been unexpectedly to
Newark. I went, as soon as I could after breakfast, to market, and then
on a walk of over two miles to prepare myself for our sewing-circle! I
met our sexton as I was coming home, and asked him to see what ailed one
of the drawers of my desk that wouldn't shut. We had a terrible time
with it, and I had to take everything out, and turn my desk topsy-turvy,
and your letters and all my other papers got raving distracted, and all
mixed up with bits of sealing-wax, old pens, and dear knows what not,
when down comes A. from the school-room, to say that Mrs. Stearns had
sent for me to come right out, thinking she was dying. I knew nothing
about the trains, always trusting to Mr. Prentiss about that, but in
five minutes I was off, and on reaching the depot found I had lost a
train by ten minutes, and that there wouldn't be another for an hour.
Then I had leisure to remember that Mr. P. was to get home from Dorset,
that I had left no message for him, had hid away all the letters that
had come in his absence, where he couldn't find them; that if it was
necessary for me to stay at Newark all night he would be dreadfully
frightened, etc., etc. Somehow I felt very blue, but at last concluded
to get rid of a part of the time by hunting up some dinner at a

When I at last got to Newark, I found that Mrs. Stearns' disease had
suddenly developed several unfavorable symptoms. She had made up her
mind that all hope was over, had taken leave of her family, and now
wanted to bid me good-bye. She held my hands fast in both hers, begging
me to talk. I spoke freely to her about her death; she pointed up once
to an illumination I gave her last spring: SIMPLY TO THY CROSS I CLING.
"That," she said, "is all I can do." I said all I could to comfort her,
but I do not know whether God gave me the right word or not.

On my return, as I got out of the stage near the corner of our street,
whom should my weary eyes light on but my dear good man, just got
home from Dorset; how surprised and delighted we were to meet so
unexpectedly! M. rushed to meet us, and afterward said to me, "I have
three great reliefs; you have got home; papa has got home; and Aunt Anna
is still alive." My children were never so lovely and loving as they
are this winter; my home is almost too luxurious and happy; such
things don't belong to this world. We have just heard of the death in
Switzerland of Mr. Prentiss' successor at New Bedford, classmate of one
of my brothers, and some one has sent a plaintive, sweet little dying
song written at Florence by him. Now I am too fagged to say another

_Dec. 4th._--"I do not get _any_ time to write; each day brings its own
special work that can't be done to-morrow; as to letters, I scratch them
off at odd moments, when too tired to do anything else. What a resource
they are! They do instead of crying for me. And how many I get every
week that are loving and pleasant!

What do you think of this? I hope it will make you laugh--a lady told me
she never confessed her sins aloud (in prayer) lest Satan should find
out her weak points and tempt her more effectually! And I want to ask
you if you ever offer to pray with people? I never do, and yet there are
cases when nothing else seems to answer. Oh, how many questions of
duty come up every hour, and how many reasons we have every hour to be
ashamed of ourselves!

_Monday morning._--It was a shame to write to you, when I was so tired
that I could not write legibly, but my heart was full of love, and I
longed to be near you. Now Monday has come, a lowering, forbidding day,
yet all is sunshine in my soul, and I hope that may make my home light
to my beloved ones, and even reach you, wherever you are. I am going
to run out to see how Mrs. Stearns is. Our plan is for me to make
arrangements to stay with her, if I can be of any use or comfort. I
literally love the house of mourning better than the house of feasting.
All my long, long years of suffering and sorrow make sorrow-stricken
homes homelike, and I can not but feel, because I know it from
experience, that Christ loves to be in such homes. So you may
congratulate me, dear, if I may be permitted to go where He goes. I
wish you could have heard yesterday's sermon about God's having as
_characteristic, individual_ a love to each of us as we have to our
friends. Think of that, dear, when you remember how I loved you in Mrs.
G.'s little parlor! Can you realise that your Lord and Saviour loves you
infinitely more? I confess that such conceptions are hard to attain....
Can't you do M---- S---- up in your next letter, and send her to me on
approbation? Instead of being satisfied that I've got you, I want her
and everybody else who is really good, to fill up some of the empty
rooms in my heart. This is a rambling, scrambling letter, but I don't
care, and don't believe you do. Well, good-bye; thank your stars that
this bit of paper hasn't got any arms and can't hug you!

_To Mrs. Leonard, New York, Dec. 13, 1868._

There is half an hour before bed-time, and I have been thinking of and
praying for you, till I feel that I _must_ write. I forgot to tell you,
how the verses in my Daily Food, on the day of your dear husband's
death, seem meant for you:

"Thou art my refuge and portion."--Ps. cxliii. 5.

'Tis God that lifts our comforts high,
Or sinks them in the grave;
He gives, and blessed be His name!
He takes but what He gave.

The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away.--JOB i. 21.

I have had this little book thirty-three years, it has travelled with me
wherever I have been, and it has been indeed my song in the house of my
pilgrimage. This has been our communion Sunday, and I have been very
glad of the rest and peace it has afforded, for I have done little
during the last ten days but fly from one scene of sorrow to another,
from here to Newark and from Newark to Brooklyn.... So I have alternated
between the two dying beds; yesterday Jennie P. went into a convulsion
just as I entered the room, and did not fully come out of it for an hour
and a half, when I had to come away in order to get home before pitch
dark. What a terrible sight it is! They use chloroform, and that has a
very marked effect, controlling all violence in a few seconds. Whether
the poor child came out of that attack alive I do not know; I had no
doubt she was dying till just before I came away, when she appeared
easier, though still unconscious. The family seem nearly frantic, and
the sisters are so upset by witnessing these turns, that I shall feel
that I must be there all I can. I am in cruel doubt which household to
go to, but hope God will direct.

Mr. Prentiss is a good deal withered and worn by his sister's state; he
had never, by any means, ceased to hope, and he is much afflicted. She
and Jennie may live a week or more, or go at any moment. In my long
hours of silent musing and prayer, as I go from place to place, I think
often of you. I think one reason why we do not get all the love and
faith we sigh for is that we try to force them to come to us, instead of
realising that they must be God's free gifts, to be won by prayer....
And now Mr. P. has come up-stairs rolled up in your afghan, and we have
decided to go to both Newark and Brooklyn to-morrow, so I know I ought
to go to bed. You must take this letter as a great proof of my love to
you, though it does not say much, for I am bewildered by the scenes
through which I am passing, and hardly fit therefore to write. What I
do not say I truly feel, real, deep, constant sympathy with you in your
sorrow and loneliness. May God bless you in it.

[1] Dorset is situated in Bennington county, about sixty miles from
Troy and twenty-five miles from Rutland. Its eastern portion lies in a
deep-cut valley along the western slope of the Green Mountain range, on
the line of the Bennington and Rutland railroad. Its western part--the
valley in which Mrs. Prentiss passed her summers--is separated from East
Dorset by Mt. Aeolus, Owl's Head, and a succession of maple-crested
hills, all belonging to the Taconic system of rocks, which contains the
rich marble, slate, and limestone quarries of Western Vermont. In the
north this range sweeps round toward the Equinox range, enclosing the
beautiful and fertile upland region called The Hollow. Dorset belonged
to the so-called New Hampshire Grants, and was organised into a township
shortly before the Revolutionary War. Its first settlers were largely
from Connecticut and Massachusetts. They were a hardy, intelligent,
liberty-loving race, and impressed upon the town a moral and religious
character, which remains to this day.

[2] Mrs. Arthur Bronson, of New York. A life of Mrs. Prentiss would
scarcely be complete without a grateful mention of this devoted friend
and true Christian lady. She was the centre of a wide family circle, to
all of whose members, both young and old, she was greatly endeared by
the beauty and excellence of her character. She died shortly after Mrs.

[3] While supposing that her brothers had been burnt out and had,
perhaps, lost everything, she wrote to her husband with characteristic
generosity: "If they did not kill themselves working at the fire, they
will kill themselves trying to get on their feet again. Every cent I
have I think should be given them. My father's church and everything
associated with my youth, gone forever! I can't think of anything else."

[4] Mrs. McCurdy died at her home in New York in December, 1876. A few
sentences from a brief address at the funeral by her old pastor will not
be here out of place. "Her natural character was one of the loveliest
I have ever known. Its leading traits were as simple and clear as
daylight, while its cheering effect upon those who came under its
influence was like that of sunshine. She was not only very happy
herself--enjoying life to the last in her home and her friends--but she
was gifted with a disposition and power to make others happy such as
falls to the lot of only a select few of the race. Her domestic and
church ties brought her into relations of intimate acquaintance and
friendship with some of the best men of her times. I will venture to
mention two of them: her uncle, the late Theodore Frelinghuysen, one of
the noblest men our country has produced, eminent alike as statesman,
scholar, and Christian philanthropist; and the sainted Thomas H.
Skinner, her former pastor. Her sick-room--if sick-room is the proper
name--in which, during the last seventeen years, she passed so much of
her time, was tinged with no sort of gloom; it seemed to have two doors,
one of them opening into the world, through which her family and friends
passed in and out, learning lessons of patience and love and sweet
contentment: the other opening heavenward, and ever ajar to admit the
messenger of her Lord, in whatever watch he should come to summon her
home. The place was like that upper chamber facing the sunrising, and
whose name was _Peace_, in which Bunyan's Pilgrim was lodged on the way
to the celestial city. How many pleasant and hallowed memories lead back
to that room!"

[5] Old New Bedford friends.

[6] Fritz und Maria und Ich. Von Mrs. Prentiss. Deutsche autorisirte
Ausgabe. Von Marie Morgenstern. Itzchoe, 1874.

[7] She gave me the pet-name of "Fanny" because she did not like mine,
and there was an old joke about "John."--E. A. W.

[8] The custom related to a pious salutation, with which two _friends_,
or even _strangers_, greet each other, when meeting on the mountain
highways and passes in certain districts of Tyrol. _"Gelobt sei Jesu
Christ!"_ cries one; _"In Ewigkeit, Amen!"_ answers the other (_i.e._,
"Praised be Jesus Christ!" "For evermore, Amen!") The following lines
are from Mrs. F.'s Poem:

"When the poor peasant, alpenstock in hand,
Toils up the steep,
And finds a friend upon the dizzy height
Amid his sheep,

"They do not greet each other as in our
Kind English way,
Ask not for health, nor wish in cheerful phrase
prosperous day;

"Infinite thoughts alone spring up in that
Great solitude,
Nothing seems worthy or significant
But heavenly good;

"So in this reverent and sacred form
Their souls outpour,--
Blessed be Jesus Christ's most holy name!
'For evermore!'"

[9] Rev. Asa Cummings, D.D., of Portland, for many years editor of the
Christian Mirror; one of the weightiest, wisest and best men of his





Death of Mrs. Stearns. Her Character. Dangerous Illness of Prof. Smith.
Death at the Parsonage. Letters. A Visit to Vassar College. Letters.
Getting ready for General Assembly. "Gates Ajar."

A little past three o'clock on Saturday afternoon, January 2, 1869, Anna
S. Prentiss, wife of the Rev. Jonathan F. Stearns, D.D., fell asleep in
Jesus. The preceding pages show what strong ties bound Mrs. Prentiss to
this beloved sister. Their friendship dated back thirty years; it was
cemented by common joys and common sorrows in some of their deepest
experiences of life; and it had been kept fresh and sweet by frequent
intercourse and correspondence. Mrs. Stearns was a woman of uncommon
attractions and energy of character. She impressed herself strongly
upon all who came within the sphere of her influence; the hearts of her
husband's people, as well as his own and those of her children, trusted
in her; and the whole community where she dwelt mourned her loss. She
had been especially endeared to her brother Seargent, with whom she
spent several winters in the South prior to her marriage. Her influence
over him, at a critical period of his life, was alike potent and happy;
their relation to each other was, in truth, full of the elements of
romance; and some of his letters to her are exquisite effusions of
fraternal confidence and affection. [1] Her letters to him, beginning
when she was a young girl and ending only with his life, would form a
large volume. "You excel any one I know," he wrote to her, "in the
kind and gentle art of letter-writing." In the midst of his early
professional triumphs he writes:

You do not know what obligations I am under to you; I owe all my success
in this country to the fact of having so kind a mother and such sweet
affectionate sisters as Abby and yourself. It has been my only motive to
exertion; without it I should long since have thrown myself away. Even
now, when, as is frequently the case, I feel perfectly reckless both
of life and fortune, and look with contempt upon them both, the
recollection that there are two or three hearts that beat for me with
real affection, even though far away--comes over me as the music of
David did over the dark spirit of Saul. I still feel that I have
something worth living for.

For years her letters helped to cherish and deepen this feeling. He thus
refers to one of them:

I can not tell how much I thank you for it. I cried like a child while
reading it, and even now the tears stand in my eyes, as I think of its
expressions of affection, sympathy, and good sense.... I wish you were
here now--oh, how I do wish it! But you will come next fall, won't you?
and be to me

The antelope whose feet shall bless
With her light step my loneliness.

But my candle burns low, and it is past the witching hour of night.
Whether sleeping or waking, God bless you and our dear mother, and all
of you. Good-night--good-night. My love loads this last line.

To Mrs. Prentiss and her husband, the death of Mrs. Stearns was an
irreparable loss. It took out of their life one of its greatest earthly

The new year opened with another painful shock--the sudden and dangerous
illness of her husband's bosom friend, Henry Boynton Smith. Prof. Smith
was to have made one of the addresses at the funeral of Mrs. Stearns;
but instead of doing so, he was obliged to take to his bed, and, soon
afterwards, to flee for his life beyond the sea. To this affliction the
reader is indebted for the letters to Mrs. Smith, contained in this
chapter. On the 16th of February another niece of her husband, a sweet
child of seventeen, was brought to the parsonage very ill and died
there before the close of the month. Her letters will show how she was
affected by these troubles.

_To Mrs. Leonard, New York, Jan. 9, 1869._

So many unanswered letters lie piled on my desk that I hardly know which
to take up first, but my heart yearns over you, and I can not help
writing you. No wonder you grow sadder as time passes and the beloved
one comes not, and comes not. I wish I could help you bear your burden,
but all I can do is to be sorry for you. The peaceable fruits of sorrow
do not ripen at once; there is a long time of weariness and heaviness
while this process is going on; but I do not, will not doubt, that you
will taste these fruits, and find them very sweet. One of the hard
things about bereavement is the physical prostration and listlessness
which make it next to impossible to pray, and quite impossible to feel
the least interest in anything. We must bear this as a part of the pain,
believing that it will not last forever, for nothing but God's goodness
does. How I wish you were near us, and that we could meet and talk and
pray together over all that has saddened our lives, and made heaven such
a blessed reality!

There is not much to tell about the last hours of our dear sister. She
had rallied a good deal, and they all thought she was getting well; but
the day after Christmas typhoid symptoms began to set in. I saw her on
the Monday following, found her greatly depressed, and did not stay
long. On Saturday morning, we got a dispatch we should have received
early on New Year's day, saying she was sinking. We hurried out, found
her flushed and bright, but near her end, having no pulse at either
wrist, and her hands and feet cold. She had had a distressing day and
night, but now seemed perfectly easy; knew us, gave us a glad welcome,
reminded me that I had promised to go with her to the end, and kissed us
heartily. Every time we went near her she gave us such a glad smile that
it was hard to believe she was going so soon. She talked incessantly,
with no signs of debility, but it was the restlessness of approaching

At three in the afternoon they all came into the room, as they always
did at that hour. She said a few things, and evidently began to lose her
sight, for as Lewis was about to leave the room, she said, "Good-night,
L.," and then to me, "Why, Lizzy dear, you are not going to stay all
night?" I said, "Oh yes, don't you know I promised to stay with A., who
will be so lonely?" She looked pleased, but greatly surprised, her mind
being so weak, and in a few seconds she laid her restless hands on her
breast, her eyes became fixed, and the last gentle breaths began to come
and go. "Is the doctor here?" she asked. We told her no, and then Mr. S.
and the nurse, who were close each side of her, began to repeat a verse
or two of Scripture; then seeing she was apparently too far gone to
hear, Mr. S. leaned over and whispered, "My darling!" She made no
response, on which he said, "She can make no response," and she said,
"But I hear," gave one or two more gentle little breaths, and was gone.
I forgot to say that after her eyes were fixed, hearing Mr. S. groan,
she _stopped dying_, turned and gave a parting look! I never saw an
easier death, nor such a bright face up to the very last. One of the
doctors coming in, in the morning, was apparently overcome by the
extraordinary smile she gave him, for he turned away immediately without
a word, and left the house. I staid, as they wished me to do, till
Monday night, when I came home quite used up. Your sorrow, and the
sorrow at Brooklyn, and now this one, have come one after another until
it seemed as if there was no end to it; such is life, and we must bear
it patiently, knowing the end will be the more joyful for all that
saddened the way.

I shall always let you know if anything of special interest occurs in
the church or among ourselves. After loving you so many years, I am
not likely to forget you now. The addresses at Mrs. S.'s funeral will
probably be published, and we will send you a copy. Mr. P. is bearing
up bravely, but feels the listlessness of which I spoke, and finds
sermonising hard work. He joins me in love to you. Do write often.

_To Miss Eliza A. Warner, New York, Feb. 16, 1869._

On coming home from church on Sunday afternoon I found one of the
Brooklyn family waiting to tell us that another of the girls was very
ill, that they were all worn out and nearly frantic, and asking if she
might be brought here to be put under the care of some German doctor,
as Dr. Smith had given her up. In the midst of my sorrow for the poor
mother, I thought of myself. How could I, who had not been allowed to
invite Miss Lyman here, undertake this terrible care? You know what a
fearful disease it is--how many convulsions they have; but you don't
know the harm it did me just seeing poor Jennie P. in one. Yesterday I
tried hard to let God manage it, but I know I wished He would manage it
so as to spare me; it takes so little to pull me down, and so little to
destroy my health. But I wasn't in a good frame, couldn't write a Percy
for the Observer, got a letter from some house down town, asking me to
write them Susy books, got a London Daily News containing a nice notice
of Little Lou, but nought consoled me. [2] In fact, I dawdled so long
over H.'s lessons, which I always hear after breakfast, that I had not
my usual time to pray; and that, of itself, would spoil any day. After
dinner came two of the Prentiss sisters to say that Dr. [Horatio] Smith
said Eva's one chance of getting well was to come here for change of air
and scene--would I take her and her mother? Of course I would. They
then told me that Dr. Smith had said his brother's case was perfectly
hopeless. This upset me. My feet turned into ice and my head into a ball
of fire. As soon as they left, I had the spare room arranged, and then
went out and walked till dark to cool off my head, but to so little
purpose that I had a bad night; the news about Prof. S. was so dreadful.
Mr. Prentiss was appalled, too. I had to make this a day of rest--not
daring to work after such a night. Got up at seven or so, took my bath,
rung the bell for prayers at twenty minutes of eight. After breakfast
heard H.'s lessons, then read the 20th chapter of Matthew; and mused
long on Christ's coming to minister--not to be ministered unto. Prayed
for poor Mrs. Smith and a good many weary souls, and felt a little bit
better. Then went down to Randolph's at the request of a lady, who
wanted him to sell some books she had got up for a benevolent object. He
said he'd take twelve. Then to the Smiths, burdened with my sad secret.
Got home tired and depressed. Tried to get to sleep and couldn't, tried
to read and couldn't.

At last they came with the sick girl, and one look at the poor, half-
fainting child, and her mother's "Nobody in the world but you would have
let us come," made them welcome; and I have rejoiced ever since that
_God let_ them come. One of the first things they said took my worst
burden off my back; the whole story about Prof. Smith was a dream! Can
you conceive my relief? We had dinner. Eva ate more than she had done
for a long time. We had a long talk with her mother after dinner; then I
went up to the sick-room and stayed an hour or so; then had a call; then
ran out to carry a book to a widowed lady, that I hoped would comfort
her; then home, and with Eva till tea-time. Then had some comfort in
laying all these cares and interests in those loving Arms that are
always so ready to take them in. I enjoy praying in the morning best,
however--perhaps because less tired; but sometimes I think it is owing
to a sort of night-preparation for it; I mean, in the wakeful times of
night and early morning.

_Wednesday, 17th_--While I was writing the above all the Brooklyn
Prentisses went to bed, and we New York Prentisses went to the Sunday-
school rooms next door to a church-gathering. There are three rooms that
can be thrown together, and they were bright and fragrant with flowers,
most of which the young men sent me afterwards, exquisite things. I had
a precious talk with Dr. Abbot, one of whose feet, to say the least, is
already on the topmost round. I only wish he was a woman. The church was
open, and we all went in and listened to some fine music. Coming out
I said to a gentleman who approached me, "How is little baby?" "Which
little baby?" "Why, the youngest." "Oh, we haven't any baby." And lo! I
had mistaken my man! Imagine how _he_ felt and how _I_ felt! We got home
at eleven P.M., and so ended my day of rest. I have 540 things to say,
but there is so much going on that I shall defraud you of them--aren't
you glad? Have you read the "Gates Ajar"? I have, with real pain. I do
not think you will be so shocked at it as I am, but hope you don't like
it. It is full of talent, but has next to no Christ in it, and my heaven
is full of Him. I have finished Faber. How queer he is with his 3's and
5's and 6's and 7's! I feel all done up into little sums in addition,
and that's about all I know of myself--he's bewildered me so. There are
fine things in it, and I took the liberty of making a wee cross against
some of them, which you can rub out. Miss L. sent me another of his
books, which I am reading now--"All for Jesus."

_To Mrs. Henry B. Smith, New York, March 22, 1869_

We were gladdened early this morning by the arrival of your letter,
and the good news it contained. I had a dreadful fright on the day you
reached Southampton. Mr. Moore sent up a cable dispatch announcing the
fact, and as it came directed to both of us, and I supposed it to be
from you, I thought some terrible thing had happened. I paraded down to
M. with your letter, and she, at the same time, paraded up here with the
one to her and the rest. So we got all the news there was, and longed
for more. I hope the worst is now over. I have just got home from a
visit of four days and nights to Miss Lyman. I enjoyed it exceedingly,
and wish I could tell you all about it, but can't in a letter. She has
turns of looking absolutely _aged_, and seems a good deal of the time in
a perfect worry, I don't know what about. Otherwise she is better than
last summer. I never saw her when at work before, and perhaps she always
appears so. We had two or three good rousing laughs, however, and that
did us both good. I did not know she was so fond of flowers; she buys
them and keeps loads of them about her parlors, library, and bedroom.
What a world it is there! I only wish she was happier in her work, but
perhaps if we could get behind the scenes, we should find all human
workers have their sorrows and misgivings and faintings. According to
her I had an "inquiry meeting" once or twice; believe it if you can and
dare. It was certainly very pleasant to get into such an intelligent
Christian atmosphere, and on the whole I've got rather converted to

I have been greatly delighted with a present of one of my father's cuff-
buttons (which I well remember), and a lock of his hair.... I haven't
got anything more to say. Oh, Mrs. ---- left that on her card here the
other day, and we called on her this afternoon. What a jolly old lady
she is! Of course, anybody could believe in perfection who was as fat
and well as she!

_To Mrs. Leonard, New York, April 5, 1869_

If I should send you a letter every time I send you a thought, you would
be quite overwhelmed with them. Now that Mrs. S. has gone away, and some
of my pressing cares are over, I miss you more than ever. We have had a
good deal to sadden us this winter, beginning with your sorrow, which
was also ours; and Eva P.'s death, occurring as it did in our house, was
a distressing one. She was here about a fortnight, and the first week
came down to her meals, though she kept in her room the rest of the
time. On Tuesday night of the second week she was at the tea-table, and
played a duet with A. after tea. Soon after she was taken with distress
for breath, and was never in bed again, but sat nearly double in a
chair, with one of us supporting her head. It was agonizing suffering
to witness, and the care of her was more laborious than anyone can
conceive, who did not witness or participate in it. We had at last to
have six on hand to relieve each other. She died on Saturday, after four
terrible days and nights. We knew she would die here when they first
proposed her coming, but did not like to refuse her last desire, and are
very glad we had the privilege of ministering to her last wants.... For
you I desire but one thing--a full possession of Christ. Let us turn
away our eyes from everything that does not directly exalt Him in
our affections; we are poor without Him, no matter what our worldly
advantages are; rich with Him when stripped of all besides. Still I know
you are passing through deep waters, and at times must well nigh sink.
But your loving Saviour will not let you sink, and He never loved you
so well as He does now. How often I long to fly to you in your lonely
hours! But I can not, and so I turn these longings into prayers. I hope
you pray for me, too. You could not give me anything I should value so
much, and it is a great comfort to me to know that you love me. I care
more to be loved than to be admired, don't you? I hope that by next
winter you may feel that you can come and see us; I want to see you, not
merely to write to you and get answers. I send you a picture of our nest
at Dorset. Good-bye.

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, April 20, 1869_

I opened your letter in the street, and was at once confronted with a
worldly-looking bit of silk! How _can_ you! Why don't you follow my
example and dress in sackcloth and ashes? I think however, if you _will_
be worldly you have done it very prettily, and on the whole don't know
that it is any wickeder than I have been in translating a "dramatic
poem" in five acts from the German, only you've got your dress done and
I'm only half through my play; and there's no knowing how bad I shall
get before I am through. I wonder if you are sitting by an open window,
as I am, and roasting at that? I had a drive with A. and M. through the
Park yesterday, and saw stacks of hyacinths in bloom, and tulips and
violets and dandelions; a willow-tree not far from my window has put
on its tender green, and summer seems close at hand. I have been to an
auction and got cheated, as I might have known I should; and the
other day I had my pocket picked. As to "Gates Ajar," most people are
enchanted with it; but Miss Lyman regards it as I do, and so do some
other elect ladies. I have just written to see if she will come down and
get a little rest, now the weather is so fine. Mr. P. has gone to Dorset
to be gone all the week, and I am buying up what is to be bought,
begrudging every cent! mean wretch that I am.

I have looked through and read parts of "Patience Strong's Outings"--an
ugly title, and a transcendental style, but beautiful in conception, and
taken off the stilts, in execution. I do not like the cant of Unitarians
any better than they like ours, but I like what is elevating in any
sect. I have had a present of a lot of table-linen, towels, etc., for
Dorset, and feel a good deal like a young housekeeper. I wonder how soon
you go back to Northampton? How queer it must be to be able to float
round! It is a pity you could not float to New York, and get a good
hugging from this old woman. We expect 250 ministers here in May at
general assembly (I ought to have spelt it with a big G and a big A). My
dear child, what makes you get blue? I don't much believe in any blue
devils save those that live in the body and send sallies into the mind.
Perhaps I should, though, if I had not a husband and children to look
after; how little one can judge for another!

* * * * *


How she earned her Sleep. Writing for young Converts about speaking the
Truth. Meeting of the General Assembly in the Church of the Covenant.
Reunion. D.D.s and Strawberry Short-cake. "Enacting the Tiger." Getting
ready for Dorset. Letters.

This year was one of the busiest of her life; and it were hard to say
which was busiest, her body or mind; her hand, heart, or brain. This
relentless activity was caused in part by the increasing difficulty of
obtaining sleep. Incessant work seemed to be, in her case, a sort of
substitute for natural rest and a solace for the loss of it. She alludes
to this constant struggle with insomnia in a letter to Miss Warner,
dated May 9th:

If you knew the whole story you would not envy my power of driving about
so much. You can lie down and sleep when you please; I must earn my
sleep by hard work, which uses up so much time that I wonder I ever
accomplish anything. I believe that God arranges our various burdens and
fits them to our backs, and that He sets off a loss against a gain, so
that while some seem more favored than others, the mere aspect deceives.
I have to make it my steady object throughout each day, so to spend time
and strength as to obtain sleep enough to carry me through the next; it
is thus I have acquired the habit of taking a large amount of exercise,
which keeps me out of doors when I am longing to be at work within. You
say I seem to be always in a flood of joy; well, that too is _seems_. I
think I know what joy in God means, though perhaps I only begin to know;
but I am a weak creature; I fall into snares and get entangled--not
nearly so often as I used to do, but still do get into them. I have a
perfect horror of them; the thought of having anything come between God
and my soul makes me so restless and uneasy that I hardly know which way
to turn. I have been very much absorbed of late in various interests,
and am sure they have contrived to occupy me too much; pressing cares do
sometimes, and oh, how ashamed I am!

Do write for young inquirers, if your heart prompts you to do it. I
don't know what to think of your suggestion that in writing for young
converts I should impress it upon them to speak the truth. It seems
to me just like telling them not to commit murder; and that would be
absurd. Do Christians cheat and tell lies? I have a great aversion to
writing about such things; if children are not trained _at home_ to be
upright and full of integrity, it can't be that books can rectify that
loss. You may reply that home-training is defective in thousands of
cases; yes, that is true, but I have a feeling that truth and honesty
must spring from a soil early prepared for them, and that a young person
who is in the _habit_ of falsehood is not a Christian and needs to go
back to first principles. I can't endure subterfuges, misrepresentation,
and the like; the whole foundation looks wrong when people indulge
themselves in them, and to say to a Christian, "I hope you are
truthful," is to my mind as if I should say to him, "I hope you wash
your face and hands every day." Now if your observation says I am wrong,
let's know; I am open to conviction.

_To Mrs. H. B. Smith, New York, May 24, 1869._

It has just come to me that the true way to enjoy writing and to have
you enjoy hearing, is to keep a sort of journal, where little things
will have a chance to speak for themselves.

We are now in the midst of General Assembly. Mr. Stearns is here, and
we have sprinklings of ministers to dine and to tea at all sorts of odd
hours.... I can't help loving what is Christlike in people, whether I
like their natural characters or not; after all, what else is there in
the world worth much love? My Katy seems to be ploughing her way with
more or less success, and making friends and foes. You, who helped
me fashion her, would be interested in the letters I get from wives,
showing that the want of demonstration in men is a wide-spread evil,
under which women do groan being burdened. _Entre nous_, Mrs. Dr. ---- is
one, and I got a letter to-day from Michigan to the same effect. We are
having delightful weather for the meetings. Yesterday morning Dr. John
Hall preached in our church, and it was crammed full to Overflowing....
Lew. S. [3] has decided to study theology. We are all glad. He and I
have got quite acquainted of late and talk most learnedly together. Did
I tell you I have translated a German dramatic poem in five acts? Miss
Anna Nevins says I have done it extremely well. I don't know about that,
but my whole soul got into it somehow, and I did not know whether I
was in the body or out of it for two or three weeks. I wish I could do
things decently and in order. There is to be a great party at Apollo
Hall this evening for both Assemblies. I am going and expect to get
tired to death.

_26th_--It was a brilliant scene at Apollo Hall. Everybody was there,
and the hall was finely adapted to the purpose of accommodating the
2,000 people present. The speeches were very poor. I went to the
prayer-meeting this morning. The church was full, galleries and all, and
the spirit was excellent. Many men shed tears in speaking for reunion,
and, from what Mr. Stearns reports of the meeting of the Committee
last night, union may be considered as good as restored. You will hear
nothing else from me; it is all I hear talked about. _Monday, 3l_.--Hot
as need be. Dr. B., of Brooklyn, dined with us; said he never ate
strawberry short-cake before, and was reading Katy. It is awful to think
how many D.D.s are doing it (eating short-cake, I mean, of course!) Hope
the Assembly will wind up to-night. _June 5_.--We are so glad you have
got to La Tour and find it so pleasant there, and that you have met Dr.
and Mrs. Guthrie, and that they have met you instead of the blowsy-towsy
American women, who make one so ashamed of them. If I wasn't going to
Dorset, I should wish I were going where you are; but then, you see, I
_am_ going to Dorset!... I have been to the Central Park with Mrs.
---, who talked in one steady stream all the way. I was sleepy and
the carriage very noisy; and take it altogether, what a farce life is
sometimes! the intercourse of human beings outsides touching outsides,
the heart and soul lying to all intents and purposes as dead as a
door-nail. Do you ever feel mentally and spiritually alone in the world?
Perhaps everybody does.

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, June 4, 1869._

I concluded you had gone and died and got buried without letting me
know, when your letter reached me _via_ Dorset. What possessed you
to send it there when you knew, you naughty thing! that I was
having General Assembly, I can't imagine; but I suppose, being a
Congregationalist, you thought General Assembly wasn't nothing, and that
I could entertain squads of D.D.s for a fortnight more or less, just as
well at Dorset as I could here. My dear, read the papers and go in the
way you should go, and behave yourself! As if 250 ministers haven't worn
streaks in the grass round the church, haven't (some of 'em) been here
to dinner and eaten my strawberry short-cake and cottage puddings and
praised my coffee and drank two cups apiece all round, and as if I
hadn't been set up on end for those of 'em to look at who are reading
Katy, and as if going furiously to work, after they'd all gone,
didn't use me up and send me "lopping" down on sofas, sighing like a
what's-its-name. Well, well; the ignorance of you country folks and the
wisdom of us city folks! We hope to get to Dorset by the 17th of this
month; it depends upon how many interruptions I have and how many days
I have to lie by. I can't imagine why I break down so, for I don't know
when I've been so well as during this spring; but Mr. P. and A. say I
work like a tiger, and I s'pose I do without knowing it. I am so glad
you had a pleasant Sunday. No doubt you had more bodily strength with
which to enjoy spiritual things. A weak body hinders prayer and praise
when the heart would sing, if it were not in fetters that cramp and
exhaust it.

_Monday_--To-day I have been enacting the tiger again, and worked
furiously. A. half scolds and half entreats, but I can't help it; if I
work I work, and so there it is. I have bought a dinner-set, and had a
long visit from my old Mary, who wept over and kissed me, and am going
out to call on Mrs. Woolsey this evening. To-morrow A.'s scholars are to
come and make an address to her and give her a picture. She is not to
know it till they arrive. It is really cold after the very hot weather,
and some are freezing and some have internal pains. I wish you could
have seen me this forenoon at work in the attic--a mass of dust,
feathers, and perplexity. I got hold of one of my John's innumerable
trunks of papers, and found among them the MSS. of several of my books
laid up in lavender, which I pitched into the ash-barrel. I suppose he
thinks I may distinguish myself some time, and that the discerning world
will be after a scratch of my gifted pen! Have you read "Gates Off the
Hinges"? The next thing will be, "There Aint no Gates."

* * * * *


The new Home in Dorset. What it became to her. Letters from there.

A notable incident of this year was the entering upon housekeeping at
Dorset under her own roof. As is usual in such cases, the process was
somewhat wearisome and trying, but the result was most happy. All the
bright anticipations, with which the event had been so long looked
forward to, were more than realised. For the next ten summers the Dorset
home was to her a sweet haven of rest from the agitations, cares, and
turmoil of New York life. It seemed at the time a venturesome, almost a
rash thing, to build it; but when she left it for her home above, the
building of the house seemed to have been an inspiration of Providence.
While contributing greatly to her happiness, it probably added several
years to her life. The four months which she passed each season at
Dorset were spent largely in the open air, and in such varied and
pleasant exercise as exerted the most healthful, soothing influence upon
both body and soul. It was just this fruit her husband hoped might, by
the blessing of Heaven, blossom out of the new home, and in later years
he used often to say to her, that if the place should be of a sudden
annihilated, he should still feel that it had paid for itself many times

_To Mrs. Smith, Dorset, July 19, 1869._

How many times during the last month I have been reminded of your saying
you had lived through the agony of getting your house ready to rent. I
can sum up all I have been through by saying that almost everything has
turned out the reverse of what I expected. In the first place, I broke
down just as we were to start to come here, and had to be left behind to
pick up life enough to undertake the journey; then the car we chartered
did not get here for a week, and nobody but A. had anything to wear, and
all my flowers died for want of water. The car, too, was broken into and
my idols of tin pans all taken, with some other things, and when it did
arrive it was unpacked, and our goods brought here, in a regular deluge,
the like of which has not been seen since the days of Noah. For days
everything was in dire confusion; but for all that our own home was
delightful, and we had the most outrageous appetites you ever heard
of. George is in ecstasies with his house, his land, his pig, and his
horse.... I hope you are not sick and tired of all this rigmarole;
it isn't in human nature to move into a house of its own and talk of
anything else. I got a warm-hearted letter a few days ago from the city
of Milwaukee, from an unknown western sister, beginning, "Whom not
having seen I love," and going on to say that Katy describes herself
and her lot exactly, only she had no Martha on hand. I get so many such
testimonies. I am going to spare your eyes and brains by winding up this
epistle and going to bed. I do not think your husband ought to come home
till he has recovered his power of sleeping. I know how to pity him, if
anybody does, and I know how loss of sleep cripples. Good-night, dear

"God bless me and my wife;
You and your wife,
Us four
And no more."

_To Mrs. Leonard, Dorset, August 3, 1869._

Your last letter endeared you to me more than ever, and I have longed to
answer it, but we have been in such a state of confusion that writing
has been a task. The whole house has been painted inside and out since
we entered it, and I dare say you know what endless uproar the flitting
from room to room to accommodate painters, causes. We have just been
admitted to our parlor, but it is in no order, and the dining-room is
still piled with trunks. But the house is lovely, and we shall feel well
repaid for the severe labor it has cost us, when it is done and we can
settle down in it. I write to ask you to send me by express what numbers
of Stepping Heavenward you have on hand. I would not give you the
trouble to do this if I could get them in any other way, but I can not,
as all back numbers are gone, and the copy I have has been borrowed and
worn, so as to be illegible in many places. Randolph is to publish the
work and says he wants it soon. I am constantly receiving testimonies as
to its usefulness, and hope it will do good to many who have not seen it
in the Advance.

How I do long to see you! I think of you many times every day, and thank
God that He enables you to glorify Him in bearing your great sorrow.
Sometimes I feel as if I _must_ see Mr. L.'s kind face once more, but I
remind myself that by patiently waiting a little while, I shall see it
and the faces of all the sainted ones who have gone before. Next to
faith in God comes patience; I see that more and more, and few possess
enough of either to enable them to meet the day of bereavement without
dismay. We are constantly getting letters from afflicted souls that can
not see one ray of light, and keep reiterating, "I am not reconciled."
How fearful it must be to kick thus against the pricks, already sharp
enough! I believe fully with you that there is no happiness on earth, as
there is none in heaven, to be compared with that of losing all things
to possess Christ. I look back to two points in my life as standing out
from all the rest of it as seasons of peculiar joy, and they are the
points where I was crushed under the weight of sorrow. How wonderful
this is, how incomprehensible to those who have not learned Christ!
Do write me oftener; you are very dear to me, and your letters always
welcome. I love you for magnifying the Lord in the midst of your
distress; you could not get so into my heart in any other way.

_To Mrs. Smith, Dorset, August 8, 1869._

Half of your chickens are safely here, well and bright, and settled I
hope, for the summer. A., and M., who seems as joyous as a lark, are
like Siamese twins, with the advantage of untying at night and sleeping
in different beds. I have not been well, and did not go to church
to-day; but Prof. Robinson of Rochester, N. Y., preached a very superior
sermon, George says. They have gone to our woods together. We took tea a
few nights ago at the Pratts, being invited to meet him and Mrs. R. They
asked many questions about you and your husband. We find the Pratts
charming neighbors in their way, modest, kind, and good. They take the
Advance, read Katy, and like it.

_Aug. 21st_--As we have only had sixteen in our family of late, I have
not had much to do. Yesterday we made up a party to the quarry and had
just got seated, twenty-nine in all, to eat a very nice dinner, when it
began to rain in floods. Each grabbed his plate, if he could, and rushed
to a blacksmith's shop not far off; twenty or thirty workmen rushed
there too, and there we were, cooped up in the dirt, to finish our meal
as we best could. It soon stopped pouring and we had a delightful drive
home. Mr. B. F. B., with two of his boys, was with us. He is charmed
with our house and its views. Katy has made her last appearance in the
Advance, but I keep getting letters about her from all quarters, and the
editors say they have had hundreds. [4] H. has caught up with Hal and
they are exactly of a height, and I feel as if I had a dear little pair
of twins. Last Sunday evening the three boys laid their heads in my lap
together, all alike content.

* * * * *


Return to Town. Domestic Changes. Letters. "My Heart sides with God in
everything." Visiting among the Poor. "Conflict isn't Sin." Publication
of _Stepping Heavenward_. Her Misgivings about it. How it was received.
Reminiscences by Miss Eliza A. Warner. Letters. The Rev. Wheelock Craig.

Early in October she returned to town and began to make ready for the
departure of her eldest daughter to Europe, where she was to pass the
next year with the family of Prof. Smith. The younger children had thus
far been taught by their sister, and her leaving home was fraught with
no little trial both to them and to the mother.

_To Mrs. Smith, New York, October 12._

I can fully sympathise with the sad toss you are in about staying abroad
another year, but we feel that there is no doubt you have decided wisely
and well. But the bare mention of your settling down at Vevay has driven
us all wild. What hallucination could you have been laboring under?
Why, your husband would go off the handle in a week! To be sure it is
beautiful for situation as Mount Zion itself, but one can't live on
beauty; one must have life and action, and stimulus; in other words,
human beings. They're all horrid (except you), but we can't do without
'em. What I went through at lonely Genevrier!

"Oh Solitude, where are the charms
That sages have seen in thy face!"

We took it for granted that you would settle in some German city, near
old friends; it is true, they mayn't be all you want, but anything is
better than nothing, and you would stagnate and moulder all away at
Vevay. What is there there? Why, a lake and some mountains, and you
can't spend a year staring at them. Well, I dare say light will be let
in upon you. I hope A. will behave herself; you must rule it over her
with a rod of iron (as if you could!), and make her stand round. Her
going plunges us into a new world of care and anxiety and tribulation;
we have thrust our children out into, or on to, the great ocean, and are
about ready to sink with them. If I could sit down and cry, it would do
me lots of good, but I can't. Then how am I to spare my twin-boy, and my
A. and my M.? Who is to keep me well snubbed? Who is to tell me what to
wear? Who is to keep Darby and Joan from settling down into two fearful
old pokes?

Your husband suggests that "if I have a husband, etc." I have had one
with a vengeance. He has worked like seventeen mad dogs all summer, and
I have hardly laid eyes on him. When I have, it has been to fight with
him; he would come in with a hoe or a rake or a spade in his hand, and
find me with a broom, a shovel, or a pair of tongs in mine, and without
a word we would pitch in and have an encounter. Of all the aggravating
creatures, hasn't he been aggravating! Sometimes I thought he had run
raving distracted, and sometimes I dare say, he thought I had gone
melancholy mad. He persists to this day that the work did him good, and
that he enjoyed his summer. Well, maybe he did; I suppose he knows.

How glad I am for you that you are to have the children go to you. It
seems to be exactly the right thing. I hope to get a copy of Katy to
send by the girls, but can't think of anything else. As A. is to be
where you are, you will probably be kept well posted in the doings of
our family. I do hope she will not be a great addition to your cares,
but have some misgivings as to the effect so long absence from home may
have upon her. What a world this is for shiftings and siftings!

_To G. S. P. October, 1869._

I always thought George McDonald a little audacious, though I like him
in the main. There is a fallacy in this cavil, you may depend. Some
years ago, when I was a little befogged by plausible talk, Dr. Skinner
came to our house, got into one of his best moods, and preached a
regular sermon on the glory of God, that set me all right again. I am
not skilled in argument, but my heart sides with God in everything, and
my conception of His character is such a beautiful one that I feel that
He can not err. I do not like the expression, "He's aye thinking about
his own glory" (I quote from memory); it belittles the real fact, and
almost puts the Supreme Being on a level with us poor mortals. The more
time we spend upon our knees, in real communion with God, the better
we shall comprehend His wonderful nature, and how impossible it is to
submit that nature to the rules by which we judge human beings. Every
turn in life brings me back to this--_more prayer_.... I shall go with
much pleasure to see Mrs. G. and may God give me some good word to say
to her. I almost envy you your sphere of usefulness, but unless I give
up mine, can not get fully into it. I want you to know that next to
being with my Saviour, I love to be with His sufferers; so that you can
be sure to remember me, when you have any on your heart.... P. S. I have
hunted up Mrs. G. and had such an interesting talk with her that she has
hardly been out of my mind since. It is a very unusual case, and the
fact that her husband is a Jew, and loves her with such real romance, is
an obstacle in her way to Christ. When you can get a little spare time
I wish you would run in and let us talk her case over. I'm ever so glad
that I'm growing old every day, and so becoming better fitted to be the
dear and loving friend to young people I want to be.

I wish we both loved our Saviour better, and could do more for Him. The
days in which I do nothing specifically for Him seem such meagre, such
lost days. You seemed to think, the last time I saw you, that you were
not so near Him as you were last year. I think we can't always know our
own state. It does not follow that a season of severe conflict is a sign
of estrangement from God. Perhaps we are never dearer to Him than when
we hate ourselves most, and fancy ourselves intolerable in His sight.
_Conflict isn't sin._

_To Miss E. A. Warner, New York, October 11, 1869._

I hear with great concern that Miss Lyman's health is so much worse,
that she is about to leave Vassar. Is this true? I can not say I should
be very sorry if I should hear she was going to be called up higher. It
seems such a blessed thing to finish up one's work when the Master
says we may, and going to be with Him. I can fully sympathise with the
feeling that made Mrs. Graham say, as she closed her daughter's eyes, "I
wish you joy, my darling!" But I should want to see her before she went;
that would be next best to seeing her after she got back. If you meet
with a dear little book called "The Melody of the 23d Psalm," do read
it; it is by Miss Anna Warner, and shows great knowledge of, and love
for, the Bible. In a few weeks I shall be able to send you a copy of
Stepping Heavenward.

We have been home rather more than a week and the house is all upside
down, outwardly and inwardly. For A. sails for Europe on the 21st with
M. and Hal Smith, to be gone a year, and this involves sending the other
children to school, and various trying changes of the sort. Tossing my
long sheltered lambs into the world has cost me inexpressible pain; only
a mother can understand how much and why; and they, on their part, go
into it shrinking and quivering in every nerve. To their father, as well
as to me, this has been a time of sore trial, and we are doing our best
to keep each other up amid the discouragements and temptations that
confront us. For each new phase of life brings more or less of both.

_Stepping Heavenward_ was published toward the end of October, having
appeared already as a serial in the Chicago Advance. The first number of
the serial was printed February 4, 1869. The work was planned and the
larger part of it composed during the winter and spring of 1867-8.
Referring more especially to this part of it, she once said to a friend:
"Every word of that book was a prayer, and seemed to come of itself.
I never knew how it was written, for my heart and hands were full of
something else." By "something else" she had in mind the care of little
Francis. The ensuing summer the manuscript was taken with her to Dorset,
carefully revised and finished before her return to the city. In
revising it she had the advantage of suggestions made by her friends,
Miss Warner and Miss Lyman, both of them Christian ladies of the best
culture and of rare good sense.

Notwithstanding the favor with which the work had been received as
issued in The Advance, Mrs. Prentiss had great misgiving about its
success--a misgiving that had haunted her while engaged in writing it.
But all doubt on the subject was soon dispelled:

The response to "Stepping Heavenward" was instant and general. Others of
her books were enjoyed, praised, laughed over, but this one was taken by
tired hands into secret places, pored over by eyes dim with tears, and
its lessons prayed out at many a Jabbok. It was one of those books which
sorrowing, Mary-like women read to each other, and which lured many a
bustling Martha from the fretting of her care-cumbered life to ponder
the new lesson of rest in toil. It was one of those books of which
people kept a lending copy, that they might enjoy the uninterrupted
companionship of their own. The circulation of the book was very large.
Not to speak of the thousands which were sold here, it went through
numerous editions in England. From England it passed into Australia. It
fell into the family of an afflicted Swiss pastor, and the comfort which
it brought to that stricken household led to its translation into French
by one of the pastor's daughters. It passed through I know not how many
editions in French. [5] In Germany it came into the hands of an invalid
lady who begged the privilege of translating it. The first word of a
favorite German hymn,

"Heavenward doth our journey tend;
We are strangers here on earth,"

furnished the title for the German translation--"Himmelan." It appeared
just after the French war, and went as a comforter into scores of the
homes which war had desolated, and frequent testimony came back to
her of the deep interest excited by the book, and of the affectionate
gratitude called out toward the author. She seemed to have inspired her
translator, whose letters to her breathe the warmest affection and the
most enthusiastic admiration. It would be easy to fill up the time that
remains with grateful testimonies to the work of this book. From among
a multitude I select only one: A manufacturer in a New England town, a
stranger, wrote to her expressing his high appreciation of the book,
and saying that he had four thousand persons in his employ, and a
circulating library of six thousand volumes for their use, in which were
two copies of "Stepping Heavenward." He adds, "I hear in every direction
of the good it is doing, and a wealthy friend has written to me saying
that she means to put a copy into the hand of every bride of her
acquaintance." [6]

Several chapters might be filled with letters received by Mrs. Prentiss,
expressing the gratitude of the writers for the spiritual help and
comfort _Stepping Heavenward_ had given them. These letters came from
all parts of this country, from Europe, and even from the ends of the
earth; and they were written by persons belonging to every class in
society. Among them was one, written on coarse brown grocery paper,
from a poor crippled boy in the interior of Pennsylvania, which she
especially prized. It led to a friendly correspondence that continued
for several years. The book was read with equal delight by persons not
only of all classes, but of all creeds also; by Calvinists, Arminians,
High Churchmen, Evangelicals, Unitarians, and Roman Catholics. [7] It
was, however, wholly unnoticed by most of the organs of literary opinion
in this country; although abroad it attracted at once the attention of
men and women well known in the world of letters, and was praised by
them in the highest terms. [8]

Miss Eliza A. Warner, in the following Reminiscences, gives some
interesting incidents in reference to _Stepping Heavenward_.

That summer in Dorset--the summer of 1868--is one full of bright and
pleasant memories which it is delightful to recall. I had heard much of
Mrs. Prentiss from mutual friends, and been exceedingly interested in
her books, so that when I found we were to be fellow-boarders for the
summer I was greatly pleased; yet I felt a little shy at meeting one of
whose superiority in many lines I had heard so much.

How well I remember that bright morning in July on which we first met on
our way to the breakfast-table! I can hear now the frank, cheery voice
with which she greeted me, and see her large dark eyes, so full of
animation and kindly interest, which a moment after sparkled with fun as
she recalled an old joke familiar to my friends, and, it seemed, to her
also. I was put at my ease at once, and from that moment onward felt the
wonderful fascination of a manner so peculiarly her own; it was a frank,
whole-souled, sincere manner, with a certain indescribable piquancy
and sprightliness blending with the earnestness which made her very
individual and very charming.

For the next two months we were a good deal together. I think it was a
very happy summer to her. You were building the house in Dorset for a
summer home, and the planning for this and watching its progress was a
pleasant occupation. And she was such an enthusiastic lover of nature
that the out-of-door life she led was a constant enjoyment. She would
spend hours rambling in the woods, collecting ferns, mosses, trailing
vines, and every lovely bit of blossom and greenery that met her
eye--and nothing pretty escaped it--and there was always an added
freshness and brightness in her face when she came home laden with these
treasures, and eager to exhibit them. "Oh, you don't go crazy over such
things as I do," she would say as she held them up for our admiration.
She filled her room with these woodland beauties, and pressed quantities
of them to carry to her city home.

In that beautiful valley among the Green Mountains, some of whose near
summits rise to the height of three thousand feet, her enthusiasm for
fine scenery had full scope. She would watch with delight the sunset
glow as it spread and deepened along those mountain peaks, suffusing
them with a glory which we likened to that of the New Jerusalem; and as
we sat and watched this glory slowly fade, tint by tint, into the gray
twilight, her talk would be of heaven and holiness and Christ.

Whatever she felt, she felt intensely, and she threw her whole heart and
soul into all she said or did; this was one great secret of the power of
her personal presence; she felt so keenly herself, she made others feel.

Those summer days were long and bright and beautiful, but none too long
for her. She was one of the most industrious persons I have ever known,
and her writing, reading and sewing, and the care of her children,
over the formation of whose characters she watched closely and wisely,
occupied every moment of her time, except when she was out of doors,
trying by exercise in the open air to secure a good night's sleep; not
an easy thing for her to do in those days.

Early in August we were joined by Miss Hannah Lyman, of Vassar College,
a mutual friend and a most delightful addition to our little party.

We knew Mrs. Prentiss spent a part of every day in writing, but she
said nothing of the nature of her work. Do you remember coming into the
parlor one morning, where Miss Lyman and I were sitting by ourselves,
and telling us that she was writing a story, but had become so
discouraged she threatened to throw it aside as not worth finishing?
"I like it myself," you added, "it really seems to me one of the best
things she has ever written, and I am trying to get her to read it to
you and see what you think of it."

Of course, both Miss Lyman and myself were eager to hear it, and
promised to tell her frankly how we liked it. The next morning she came
to our room with a little green box in her hand, saying, with her merry
laugh, "Now you've got to do penance for your sins, you two wicked
women!" and, sitting down by the window, while we took our sewing, she
began to read us in manuscript the work which was destined to touch and
strengthen so many hearts--"which," to use the words of another, "has
become a part of the soul-history of many thousands of Christian
women--young and old--at home and abroad."

It was a rare treat to listen to it, with comments from her
interspersed; some of them droll and witty, others full of profound
religious feeling. Now and then, as we queried if something was not
improbable or unnatural, she would give us bits of history from her own
experience or that of her friends, going to show that stranger things
had occurred in real life. I need not say we insisted on its being
finished, feeling sure it would do great good; though I must confess
that I do not think either of us, much as we enjoyed it, was fully aware
of its great merits.

I was much impressed by her singleness of purpose; her one great desire
so evidently being that her writings should help others to know and to
love Christ and His truth, that she thought little or nothing of her own

She went on with her work, occasionally reading to us what she had
added. In those days she always spoke of it as her "Katy book," no
other title having been given to it. But one morning she came to the
breakfast-table with her face all lighted up. "I've got a name for my
book," she exclaimed; "it came to me while I was lying awake last night.
You know Wordsworth's Stepping Westward? I am going to call it Stepping
Heavenward--don't you like it? I do." We all felt it was exactly the
right name, and she added, "I think I will put in Wordsworth's poem as a

Of the heart-communings on sacred things that made that summer so
memorable to me I can not speak; and yet, more than anything else, these
gave a distinctive character to our intercourse. Her faith and love were
so ardent and persuading, so much a part of herself, that no one could
be with her without recognising their power over her life. She was
interested in everything about her, without a particle of cant, full
of playful humor and bright fancies; but the love of Christ was the
absorbing interest of her life--almost a passion, it might be called, so
fervent and rapturous was her devotion to Him, so great her longing for
communion with Him and for a more complete conformity to His perfect

As I have said, all her emotions were intense and her religious
affections had the same warmth and glow. Believing in Christ was to her
not so much a duty as the deepest joy of her life, heightening all other
joys, and she was not satisfied until her friends shared with her in
this experience. She believed it to be attainable by all, founded on a
complete submitting of the human to the Divine will in all things, great
and small.

Truly of her it might be said, if of any human being, "_she hath loved

_To Mrs. Smith, New York, Nov. 16, 1869._

Your arrangements at Heidelberg seem to me to be as delightful as
anything can be in a world where nothing is ideal. Be sure to let A.
bear her full share of the expense, and be a mother to her if you can.
The gayest outside life has an undertone of sadness, and I do not doubt
she will have hours of unrest which she will hardly know how to account
for. I am afraid Heidelberg will be rather narrow bounds for your
husband, and hope he may decide to go to Egypt in case his ear gets
quite well. How fortunate that he is near a really good aurist. I am
always nervous about ear-troubles. Fancy your having to shout your love
to him! In a letter written about two weeks ago, Miss Lyman says, "How
am I? Longing for a corner in which to stop trying to live, and lie down
and die," and adds that she is now too feeble to travel. I suppose she
is liable to break down at any moment, but I do hope she won't be left
to go abroad. I judge from what you say of Mr. H. that he is slipping
off. I always look at people who are going to heaven with a sort of
curiosity and envy; it is next best to seeing one who has just come
thence. Get all the good out of him you can; there is none too much
saintliness on earth. I wonder how you spend your time? Do, some time,
write the history of one day; what you said to that funny cook, and what
she said to you; what you thought and what you did; and what you didn't
think and didn't did.

_Friday, 19th._--Thanksgiving has come and gone beautifully. It was a
perfect day as to weather. Our congregation joined Dr. Murray's, and he
gave us an excellent sermon. The four Stearnses came in to dinner and
seemed to enjoy it. I suppose you all celebrated the day in Yankee
fashion and got up those abominations--mince pies. When I told L. about
----'s fourth marriage, he said it reminded him of a place he had
seen, where a man lay buried in the midst of a lot of women, the sole
inscription on his gravestone being "Our Husband." Mrs. ---- says the
tiffs between my Katy and her husband are exactly like those she had
with hers, and Mrs. ---- said very much the same thing--after hearing
which, I gave up.

Tell A. I had a call yesterday from Mrs. S----, who came to town to
spend Thanksgiving at her father's, and fell upon my neck and ate me up
three several times. I tell you what it is, it's nice to have people
love you, whether you deserve it or not, and this warm-hearted,
enthusiastic creature really did me good. Dr. Skinner sent us an
extraordinary book to read called "God's Furnace." There is a good deal
of egotism in it and self-consciousness, and a good deal of genuine
Christian experience. I read it through four times, and, when I carried
it back and was discussing it with him, he said he had too. It seems
almost incredible that a wholly sanctified character could publish such
a book, made up as it is of the author's own letters and journal and
most sacred joys and sorrows; but perhaps when I get sanctified I
shall go to printing mine--it really seems to be a way they have. The
Hitchcocks sailed yesterday, and it must have cheered them to set forth
on so very fine a day. Give my love to everybody straight through from
Hal up to your husband and Mr. H.

_Later_.--Of course, my letters to A. are virtually to you, too, as far
as you can be interested in the little details of which they are made
up. Randolph showed George a letter about Katy, which he says beats
anything we have heard yet, which is saying a good deal. One lady said
Earnest was _exactly_ like her husband, another that he was _painfully_
so; indeed, many sore hearts are making such confessions. So I begin to
think there is even more sorrowfulness and unrest in the world than I
thought there was. You would get sick unto death of the book if I
should tell a quarter of what we hear about it, good and bad. It quite
refreshed me to hear that a young lady wanted to punch me.

Craig's Life is very touching. His delight in Christ and in close
fellowship with Him is beautiful; but it is painful to see that dying
man wandering about Europe alone, when he ought to have been breathing
out his life in the arms he loved so well. How did poor Mrs. C. live
through the week of suspense that followed the telegram announcing his
illness? for one must love such a man very deeply, I think. Well,
he doesn't care now where he died or when, and he has gone where he
belonged. I miss you all ever so much, and George keeps up one constant
howl for your husband. It is a mystery to me what any of you find in my
letters, they do seem so flat to me. What fun it would be if you would
_all_ write me a round letter! I would write a rouser for it. Lots of

The Rev. Wheelock Craig, whose Life is referred to by Mrs. Prentiss in
the preceding letter, was her husband's successor in the pastorate of
the South Trinitarian church, New Bedford. [9]

* * * * *


Recollections by Mrs. Henry B. Smith.

The following Recollections from the pen of Mrs. Smith may fitly close
the present chapter:

NORTHAMPTON, _January 2, 1879_.

MY DEAR DR. PRENTISS:--I have been trying this beautiful snowy day,
which shuts us in to our own thoughts, to recall some of my impressions
of your dear wife, but I find it very difficult; there was such
variety to her, and so much of her, and the things which were most
characteristic are so hard to be described.

I read "Stepping Heavenward" in MS. before we went to Europe in 1869. I
remember she used to say that I was "Katy's Aunt," because we talked her
over with so much interest. She sent me a copy to Heidelberg, where I
began at once translating it into German as my regular exercise. I was
delighted to give my copy to Mrs. Prof. K. in Leipsic, as _the_ American
story which I was willing to have her translate into German, as she had
asked for one. There is no need of telling you about the enthusiasm
which the book created. Women everywhere said, "It seems to be myself
that I am reading about"; and the feeling that they, too, with all their
imperfections, might be really stepping heavenward, was one great secret
of its inspiration. One little incident may interest you. My niece,
Mrs. Prof. Emerson, was driving alone toward Amherst, and took into her
carriage a poor colored woman who was walking the same way. The woman
soon said, "I have been thinking a good deal of you, Mrs. E., and of
your little children, and I have been reading a book which I thought
you would like. It was something about walking towards heaven." "Was it
'Stepping Heavenward'?" "Yes, that was it."

How naturally, modestly, almost indifferently, she received the tributes
which poured in upon her! Yet, though she cared little for praise, she
cared much for love, and for the consciousness that she was a helper and
comforter to others.

On reading the book again this last summer, I was struck by seeing how
true a transcript of herself, in more than one respect, was given in
Katy. "Why can not I make a jacket for my baby without throwing into
it the ardor of a soldier going into battle?" How ardently she threw
herself into everything she did! In friendship and love and religion
this outpouring of herself was most striking.

Her earlier books she always read or submitted to me in manuscript, and
she showed so little self-interest in them, and I so much, that they
seemed a sort of common property. I think that I had quite as much
pleasure in their success and far more pride, than herself. The Susy
books I always considered quite as superior in their way as Stepping
Heavenward. They are still peerless among books for little children.
"Henry and Bessie," too, contains some of the most beautiful religious
teaching ever written. "Fred and Maria and Me" she used to talk about
almost as if I had written it, for no other reason than that I liked it
so much.

My sister says that her daughter Nettie read "Little Susy" through
_twelve times_, getting up to read it before breakfast. She printed
(before she could write) a little letter of thanks to your wife, who
sent her the following pretty note in reply: NEW YORK, _January 10,

MY DEAR "NETTIE":--What a nice little letter you wrote me! It pleased
me very much. I shall keep it in my desk, and when I am an old woman, I
shall buy a pair of spectacles, and sit down in the chimney-corner, and
read it. When you learn to write with your own little fingers, I hope
you will write me another letter.

Your friend, with love, AUNT SUSAN.

She did nothing for effect, and made little or no effort merely to
please; she was almost too careless of the impression which she made
upon others, and, on this account, strangers sometimes thought her
cold and unsympathetic. But touch her at the right point and the right
moment, and there was no measure to her interest and warmth. She hated
all pretense and display, and the slightest symptom of them in others
shut her up and kept her grave and silent, and this, not from a severe
or Pharisaic spirit, but because the atmosphere was so foreign to her
that she could not live in it. "I pity people that have any _sham_ about
them when I am by," she said one day. "I am dreadfully afraid of young
ladies," she said at another time. She could not adapt herself to the
artificial and conventional. Yet with young ladies who loved what she
loved she was peculiarly free and playful and _forth-giving_, and such
were among her dearest and most lovingly admiring friends.

When we met, there were no preliminaries; she plunged at once into the
subject which was interesting her, the book, the person, the case of
sickness or trouble, the plan, the last shopping, the game, the garment,
the new preparation for the table--in a way peculiarly her own. One
could never be with her many minutes without hearing some bright fancy,
some quick stroke of repartee, some ludicrous way of putting a thing.
But whether she told of the grumbler who could find nothing to complain
of in heaven except that "his halo didn't fit," or said in her quick
way, when the plainness of a lady's dress was commended, "Why, I
didn't suppose that anybody could go _to heaven_ now-a-days without an
overskirt," or wrote her sparkling impromptu rhymes for our children's
games, her mirth was all in harmony with her earnest life. Her quick
perceptions, her droll comparisons, her readiness of expression, united
with her rare and tender sympathies, made her the most fascinating of
companions to both young and old. Our little Saturday tear, with our
children, while our husbands were at Chi Alpha, were rare times. My
children enjoyed "Aunt Lizzy" almost as much as I did. She was usually
in her best mood at these times. When you and Henry came in, on your
return from Chi Alpha, you looked in upon, or, rather, you completed a
happier circle than this impoverished earth can ever show us again.

Her acquisitions were so rapid, and she made so little show of them,
that one might have doubted their thoroughness, who had no occasion to
test them. Her beautiful translation of Griselda was a surprise to many.
I remember her eager enthusiasm while translating it. The writing of
her books was almost an inspiration, so rapid, without copying, almost
without alteration, running on in her clear, pure style, with here and
there a radiant sparkle above the full depths.

It sometimes seemed as if she were interested only in those whom
she knew she could benefit. If so, it was from her ever-present
consciousness of a consecrated life. She constantly sought for ways of
showing her love to Christ, especially to His sick and suffering and
sorrowing ones. Life with her was peculiarly intense and earnest; she
looked upon it more as a discipline and a hard path, and yet no one had
a quicker or more admiring eye for the flowers by the wayside. I always
thought that her great _forte_ was the study of character. She laid bare
and dissected everybody, even her nearest friends and herself, to find
what was in them; and what she found, reproduced in her books, was what
gave them their peculiar charm of reality. The growth of the religious
life in the heart was the one most interesting subject to her.

I never could fully understand the deep sadness which was the groundwork
of her nature. It certainly did not prevent the most intense enjoyment
of her rich temporal and spiritual blessings, while it indicated
depths which her friends did not fathom. It was partly constitutional,
doubtless, and partly, I suppose, from her keener sensitiveness, her
larger grasp, her stronger convictions, her more vivid vision, and more
ardent desires. Even the glowing, almost seraphic love of Christ which
was the chief characteristic of her later life was, in her words, "but
longing and seeking." She was an exile yearning for her home, "stepping
heavenward," and knowing better than the rest of us what it meant.

These things come to me now, and yet how much I have omitted--her
industry so varied and untiring, her generosity (so many gifts of former
days are around me now), her interest in my children, her delight in
flowers and colors and all beautiful things, her ready sympathy--but it
is an almost inexhaustible subject. She comes vividly before me now,
seated on the floor in her room, with her work around her, making
something for such and such a person. What the void in your life must
be those who knew most of her manifold, exalted, inspiring life can but

"Nay, Hope may whisper with the dead
By bending forward where they are;
But Memory, with a backward tread,
Communes with them afar!

"The joys we lose are but forecast,
And we shall find them all once more;
We look behind us for the past,
But, lo! 'tis all before!"

[1] See _Memoir of S. S. Prentiss_, edited by his Brother, and published
by Charles Scribner's Sons. New Edition. 1879.

[2] The following is part of the notice in the London Daily News:

"We are, unfortunately, ignorant of _Little Susy's Six Birthdays_, but
if that book be anything like as good as the charming volume before
us by the same author, ycleped _Little Lou's Sayings and Doings_, it
deserves an extraordinary popularity.... _Little Lou._ is one of the
most natural stories in the world, and reads more like a mother's record
of her child's sayings and doings than like a fictitious narrative.
Little Lou, be it remarked, is a true baby throughout, instead of being
a precocious little prig, as so many good children are in print. The
child's love for his mother and his mother's love for him is described
in the prettiest way possible."

[3] Now Professor of Theology at Bangor.

[4] The following is an extract from a letter of one of the editors of
The Advance, Mr. J. B. T. Marsh, dated Chicago, August 10,1869:--"You
will notice that the story is completed this week; I wish it could have
continued six months longer. I have several times been on the point
of writing you to express my own personal satisfaction--and more
than satisfaction--in reading it, and to acquaint you with the great
unanimity and _volume_ of praise of it, which has reached us from our
readers. I do not think anything since the National Era and 'Uncle Tom's
Cabin' times has been more heartily received by newspaper readers. I am
sure it will have a great sale if rightly brought before the public.
A publisher from London was in our office the other day, signifying a
desire to make some arrangement to bring it out there. I have heard
almost no unfavorable criticism of the story--nothing which you could
make serviceable in its revision. I have heard Dr. P. criticise
Ernest--of course the character and not your portrayal. For myself I
consider the character a natural and consistent one. Perhaps few men
are found who are quite so blind to a wife's wants and yet so devoted,
but--I don't know what the wives might say. We have had hundreds of
letters of which the expression has been, 'We quarrel to see who shall
have the first reading of the story.' I congratulate you most heartily
upon its great success and the great good it has done and will yet do.
I think if you should ever come West my wife would overturn almost any
stone for the sake of welcoming you to the hospitality of our cottage on
the Lake Michigan shore."

[5] _Marchant vers le Ciel_ is the title of the French translation.

[6] _Memorial discourse_ by the Rev. Marvin R. Vincent, D.D.

[7] The following is an extract from a letter, dated New Orleans, and
written after Mrs. Prentiss' death:

"We called one day to see a poor dressmaker who was dying of
consumption. She was an educated woman, a devout Roman Catholic, and a
person whom we had long respected and esteemed for her integrity, her
love of independence, and her extraordinary powers of endurance. Her
husband, a prosperous merchant, had died suddenly, and his affairs being
mismanaged, she was obliged, although a constant invalid, to earn a
support for many years by the most unremitting labor. We found her
reading; 'Stepping Heavenward,' which she spoke of in the warmest terms.
We told her about the authoress, of her suffering from ill-health, and
of her recent death. She listened eagerly and asked questions which
showed the deepest interest in the subject. Soon after she left the
city, and a few weeks later we heard of her death."

[8] One of them--said to have been an eminent German theologian--used
this strong language respecting it: "Schon manche gute, edle,
segensreiche Gabe ist uns aus Nordamerika gekommen, aber wir stehen
nicht au, diese als die beste zu bezeichnen unter allen, die uns von
dort zu Gesichte gekommen."

[9] See A Memorial of the Character, Work, and Closing Days of Rev.
Wheelock Craig, New Bedford.

Mr. Craig was born in Augusta, Maine, July 11, 1824. He entered Bowdoin
College in 1839, and was graduated with honor in the class of 1843. He
then entered the Theological Seminary at Bangor, where he graduated in
1847. After preaching a couple of years at New Castle, Me., he accepted
a call to New Bedford, and was installed there December 4, 1850. In 1859
he received a call to the chair of Modern Languages in Bowdoin College,
which he declined. After an earnest and faithful ministry of more than
seventeen years, he went abroad for his health in May, 1868. He visited
Ireland, England, Scotland, and then passing over to the Continent,
travelled through Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and so southward as far
as Naples, where he arrived the last of September. Here he was taken
seriously ill, and advised to hasten back to Switzerland. In great
weakness he passed through Rome, Florence, Turin, Geneva, and reached
Neuchatel on the 4th of November in a state of utter exhaustion. There,
encompassed by newly-made friends and tenderly cared for, he gently
breathed his last on the 28th of November. Two names, in particular,
deserve to be gratefully mentioned in connection with Mr. Craig's last
hours, viz.: that of his countryman, Mr. W. C. Cabot, and that of the
Rev. Dr. Godet, of Neuchatel. Of the former he said the day before his
death: "He saw me coming from Geneva a perfect stranger--lying sick,
helpless, wretched, and miserable in the ears--and spoke to me, inquired
who I was, and took care of me. Anybody else would have gone by on the
other side. He brought me to this hotel, and remained with me, and did
everything for me; and, fearing that I might be ill some time, and
uneasy about money matters, he sent me a letter of credit for two
hundred pounds. Such noble and generous conduct to an entire stranger
was never heard of." To Dr. Godet he had a letter from Prof. Henry B.
Smith, of New York. But he needed no other introduction to that warm-
hearted and eminent servant of God than his sad condition and his love
to Christ. "From the first quarter of an hour," wrote Dr. Godet to Mrs.
Craig, "we were like two brothers who had known each other from infancy.
He knew not a great deal of French, and I not more of English; but the
Lord was between him and me." "Prof. Godet and family are like the very
angels of God," wrote Mr. Craig to his wife. His last days were filled
with inexpressible joy in his God and Saviour. Shortly before his
departure he said to Dr. Godet and the other friends who were by his
bedside, "_There shall be no night there, but the Lamb which is in the
midst of the throne shall be their light._"

Mr. Craig had a highly poetical nature, refined spiritual sensibilities,
and a soul glowing with love to his Master. He was also a vigorous and
original thinker. Some passages in his letters and journal are as racy
and striking as anything in John Newton or Cecil. Mrs. Prentiss greatly
enjoyed reading them to her friends. Some of them she copied and had
published in the Association Monthly.





A happy Year. Madame Guyon. What sweetens the Cup of earthly Trials and
the Cup of earthly Joy. Death of Mrs. Julia B. Cady. Her Usefulness.
Sickness and Death of other Friends. "My Cup runneth over." Letters.
"More Love to Thee, O Christ."

In every earnest life there usually comes a time when it reaches its
highest point, whether of power or of enjoyment; a time when it is in

--the bright, consumate flower.

The year 1870 formed such a period in the life of Mrs. Prentiss. None
that went before, or that followed after, equalled it, as a whole, in
rich, varied and happy experiences. It was full of the genial, loving
spirit which inspired the Little Susy books and Stepping Heavenward;
full, too, of the playful humor which runs through Fred and Maria and
Me; and full, also, of the intense, overflowing delight in her God and
Saviour that breathes in the Golden Hours. From its opening to its close
she was--to borrow an expression from her Richmond journal--"one great
long sunbeam." Everywhere, in her home, with her friends, by sick and
dying beds, in the house of mourning, in the crowded street or among her
flowers at Dorset, she seemed to be attired with constant brightness. Of
course, there were not wanting hours of sadness and heart-sinking;
nor was her consciousness of sin or her longing to be freed from it,
perhaps, ever keener and more profound; but still the main current of
her existence flowed on, untroubled, to the music of its own loving,
grateful and adoring thoughts. Often she would say that God was too good
to her; that she was _satisfied_ and had nothing more to ask of life;
her cup of domestic bliss ran over; and as to her religious joy, it was
at times too much for her frail body, and she begged that it might be
transferred to other souls. Her letters give a vivid picture of her
state of mind during this memorable year; and yet only a picture. The
sweet reality was beyond the power of words.

In the early part of this year the correspondence of Madame Guyon and
Fenelon fell into her hands, and was eagerly read by her. The perusal
of this correspondence led, somewhat later, to a careful study of the
Select Works, Autobiography, and Spiritual Letters of Madame Guyon, thus
forming an important incident in her religious history. Heretofore she
had known Madame Guyon chiefly through the Life by Prof. Upham and the

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